Friday, October 17, 2014

In All Things

Sometimes we need the reminder that "In all Things...God works"..... Sometimes it is obvious and sometimes it feels like He is behind the scenes but He. Is. There.

Wednesday morning started off as most mornings....I was planning to work from the coffee shop while Glenn homeschooled at The House of Dreams.  Just as I was about to leave, I received a phone call from one of the student's moms asking if I could bring her a piece of paperwork to the Department of Family and Child Services. Her food stamps had been cut off because she was working more hours and no longer needed unemployment but there had been some sort of snafu between DFCS and Dept of Labor and her benefits were terminated. What started off as dropping off a piece of paper resulted in a 6 hour adventure with this mom taking us back and forth between the two places no less than 4 times. For the most part, I just chauffered and stayed in the car, but when we were sent back to the Department of Labor for the third time with the SAME exact instructions..I decided to go in to keep the frazzeled mom calm. What I witnessed frustrated me to my core. I was treated completely differently and met with a desire to help me get to the bottom of the issue. The fact that the mom saw this made it even worse. I know that she was frustrated and may not have been as kind after being told the same thing over and over again, but I can't blame her. She depends on bus transportation and would have had to go back and forth on a bus to two different parts of the city and would never have gotten the answer she needed. Just before they closed they decided to finally accept the paperwork that they declined in the beginning of the day and reinstatment of benefits was promised in 48 hours. We had the opportunity to talk about how Satan likes to try and discourage us and make us feel defeated...especially when we are doing the right things and receiving the blessings of doing that. She was  in a panic because her daughters birthday was the following day and she needed the food stamps to help with food for her party. I immediately put out the call for supporters to help throw her little 2 year old the best Minnie Mouse birthday party she could have to take that stress off of her shoulders. I assured her that God knew long before that moment that she would be in that position and He had already put others in the position to help. Within hours we had a cake, a grocery gift card, presents, decorations. And this was the most precious result!

The same week we spent time with another sweet girl who we treated to pizza one afternoon. While at the restaurant we asked her what her dreams were. She quickly went into a very animated discussion about wanting to go to Africa to feed the hungry children and how many she could bring them clothes.

On the way home we heard this sweet small voice in a we listened we realized she was praying, "Dear God..please let me go to Africa to be a missionary." Bless!

There is one particular family that I have probably spent more time laboring over in prayer than others. The kids are involved in our ministry but I've had very little interaction with the parent. It seemed as though every time I would reach out to her and try to meet, she would either cancel or never come outside. Partnering with parents is the absolute best case scenario so that we can work together to set their child up for success. Recently this mom reached out to me and asked me for a workbook about Jesus. I purchased one for her and offered to meet with her and her older daughter weekly to discuss it. She agreed. I got up this morning, fully expecting her to cancel yet again but instead..for the first time ever she and her adult daughter got in my car and was very excited to meet.
We went to the local IHOP where I bought them breakfast and for an hour we talked about stress and worry and what God's Word says. I helped them come up with a Bible reading plan for this week. We prayed together and she expressed how thankful she was for what we were doing with her kids and to PLEASE keep doing it.

Y'all.....GOD IS GOOD. He is never late. He hears our prayers. He sees needs. He wants to show up and meet them in unexpected ways. He loves to see his church mobilized to carry each others burdens in whatever way that looks like at the time. And personally.....we are so thankful. Thank you for praying with us, showing up and meeting the needs we express. This is such a fun story to be a part of.


Monday, October 13, 2014

Flipping the Switch

The past 24 hours of ministry have felt much like an episode of the Twilight Zone.

I returned home at 8 pm Monday night from an amazing weekend retreat, where I led worship. Satan had been on my heels leading all the way up to the issues, pulled back, etc. I think he knew God was winning that battle and sat on my doorstep waiting for me to return.

Before I could even get the car into park, I noticed a few neighborhood kids wrestling around in the empty lot across the street. I rolled down my window, yelled out the name of a kid I recognized. I got out of the car as he rounded the corner walking away from me. I called out his name again and asked him to come and speak to me to which he yelled out an emphatic "NO!" This caught me completely off guard as this is a young boy who is always SO polite and filled with kindness towards me. I finally got him to meet me in the middle of the street and he was all out of sorts. He started telling me I needed to give him a backpack buddy, or a plate a food. He started demanding chips or cookies. Then he started growling and grunting at me. I was in a complete state of shock......completely lost as to what was happening. He was all but foaming at the mouth, waving his arm around and walking in circles. I asked him if there was someone expecting him at home since it was 8 pm on a school night. He grunted and said, "no." Then he took off down the street. I could not stop him. I did not know exactly where he lived and I worried the rest of the night. I called the school counselor and left a message with my concern and asked her to please check on him today.

This afternoon the same little boy was playing basketball in my backyard. I called him over again and this time he approached me as he normally does. Kind and smiling. I looked him in the eye and said, "Were you on something last night?" He looked away. "What were you on? I know the difference between normal and crazy and you were crazy last night." He finally said, "yes Ma'am. Someone gave me a pill to take and it made me crazy. I don't know what it was." Thankful that he was at least honest with me but terrified at the reality, I explained how dangerous it was and how things like that could LITERALLY kill him. I made him look me in the eye and promise me he would NEVER take things like that again. I can't know that he meant it when he uttered the commitment not to, but it started the conversation. THIS is what we have always had an awareness of in theory and feared for the kids we work with, but have never actually experienced it until today. Glenn was able to get him to tell him the area in which he received this drug but we know he will never tell us who.....but we know from the corner that it is a high gang/drug traffic area.  It's probably good that I personally do not exactly know because there is a high chance that I would have already marched myself over there, put my finger in someone's chest with a clear message and ended up dead or in jail. (Although my husband may be a Gang intervention/prevention specialist.....I did not receive that training and it was all mama bear coming out in me).

Last week Glenn and I had to pull two girls off of each other who were fighting in the middle of the street after school and who left remains of their hair in the intersection......simply because one of them said, "I wanna fight you." 

It's the simple flick of a switch. It's that moment when you are faced with yes or no, accept or reject, hit or walk away. There is no dimmer on this light....the anger doesn't build, it explodes. There is always regret, always remorse, always understanding after the fact. Most of the time there are tears that lead to more tears that uncover the deep seeded anger and hurt that is at the root of these episodes.  We are working hard to build relationships with parents. There are a handful that I have come to call friends and neighbors. We are working together to help their children succeed, but with 75-100 different kids in our yard over the course of this year......there are so many that I only know for hanging out here, but have never met a parent or even know where they live. (We are working on rectifying this slowly but surely).

It's easy to get caught up in the Twilight Zone moments like last night and think, "what the heck is happening? What can we possibly do? This is incredibly overwhelming!" I was there for a  couple of hours last night. Then today happened. I received a text message from two of our girls that said, "can we please hang out with you tonight?" I couldn't say no. I MISSED being with our kids these past few days. When I pulled up to their front door, the younger sister jumped in the car and immediately wrapped her arms around my neck telling me how much she missed me. The older sister got in and did the same thing and said I can never leave again. lol But then they wanted to know if I had a good time on my fact.....all of the kids have asked about where I was and what I was doing and I get to share about it. I treated the girls to dinner and then headed to the Christian bookstore to get them the next book in their sister is starting her 8th BOOK in 2.5 weeks. The younger sister is starting her 3rd and struggles with reading but she is trying so hard. We picked up a journal for young girls with questions about God that we are going to work on together. I picked up another book to read through with another little girl who is asking a lot of questions about becoming a Christian and getting baptized.

But...the main reason we were at that store tonight was because their mom sent me a text message last week and asked me if I would get her a workbook about Jesus. I knew she was going through a lot and so I picked out a women of faith workbook about worry and stress. I wrote a little note in it and sent it home with the girls. See...this is a mom who I have been praying for about a year and a half. I've only had two very short interactions with her. I've tried to meet with her on several occasions but she always canceled or refused to meet with me. I received a text for her tonight thanking me for the book and I decided to bite the bullet and take my chances by sending this reply: "You are so welcome. If you'd like, I'd love to get the same workbook and maybe we could meet once a week and talk about it." She AGREED to start meeting with me every Friday and even said we could meet in her home if I wanted to. I'm telling you, Glenn was outside at the fire pit doing his weekly Men's Bible study and he got an ALL CAPS LOCK text from me! I  was all but on the floor with shock and excitement.

God is working. God is good. HE is working, moving and stirring the hearts of our students, their parents and our community. I DO believe that we will see change. I DO believe that these students will rise to the occasion and become LEADERS of GOOD in our community. I DO believe that parents will become more invested and we will see an awakening of God and revival.


PLEASE continue to pray for the ministry and the work God is doing. Pray for protection of these innocent children and that God would keep the enemy away from their precious hearts and hands. Pray for provision of resources and volunteers. For those of you who have been sowing into us in resources and prayers, I wanted you to know that the enemy is alive and well but the battle belongs to the Lord and HE is victorious.