Sunday, November 30, 2008


I love you buddy. Forever and always...

10 years was just not long enough.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving to all

Happy late Thanksgiving! As I lay here on my couch, wore out and still full...I'd say it was anything but a traditional holiday for me. I was blessed to have my family come see me and Chicago this holiday! We spent the first day in my neighborhood (they were...ummm...a little nervous the whole time lol) and then spent the next day and a half in downtown Chicago.

It was a first time for almost all of them, so we had fun sight-seeing (except for the small fact that they froze the entire time) and eating lots and lots of food. We ate everything from cheesecake to chicago style pizza! And it was all very yummy!!! We also went shopping this morning...and although we didn't find too many sales, at least we can say we went shopping at 6 am on the magnificent mile ;)

I was so blessed, because during this hard economic times, I know it wasn't easy for my parents to come all the way out here. I know they sacrificed so much to come out and I'm so very thankful for that. Not only them but my sister left her two precious baby girls at home with Josh and I know B&B aren't the biggest fans of spending lots of money on food and hotels. So, they all sacrificed a lot to come see me!

And, although I know they are tired and ready to be home (they are still on the road), I hope that they enjoyed their first chicago-experience and I pray that they know how much I enjoyed them being here, most importantly so they could see where I live and work!!

From riding the train, a scary experience for some, meeting crazy kids like Jermaine and Jameisha, to cheering mom on as she got us a free night, to eating cheesecake after we were completely stuffed, to trying to find the "Buckingham palace"and to staring at the spitting man trying to make him pop up only to realize we could see him from the hotel room ...I think they all enjoyed it!

I hope everyone had an amazing holiday. I missed my nieces and extended family but having my family here for Thanksgiving makes it one of the most memorable holidays ever! I love my family!

God bless you all!!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Philippians 3-Part 2

You know, there are somedays when I feel like just giving up. Somedays when I feel like i'm not making a difference, the kids aren't learning, they aren't growing, nothing. And sometimes I feel like these days are more normal than the days where I feel like i've seen such great improvement and am just encouraged by how well my kids are doing. Somedays, I come home and I am just completely and totally, ridiculously wore out. There are somedays when I just feel I can do nothing right and every kid hates me. Somedays where I just want to stop...stop caring, stop trying...just stop. Somedays....

Then, I think about a few days ago. There is a student that I have just completely poured myself out to. Whom I love dearly and whom I have done everything within my power to help her, to protect her, to teach her, to disciple her...everything I can to make sure that she grows into the amazing young lady that God has created her to be. And I truly love her with every ounce of my being. Well, one particular day, she just came in and said some stuff to me that broke my heart. Just completely tore my insides out. And everything in me just wanted to scream and cry out: "why? what have I done to you? can't you see how much I've done for you? how i've poured out everything I have for you? how much I love you? i don't deserve this!" Yet, I calmly walked away, and she was oblivious to the hurt and pain I felt from words that stung so deeply inside me.

As I was running errands after work that night...I decided to vent my anger to tears I asked God, "why did she say those things? Why is it that I can pour so much into these children and they just don't seem to respond at all? God I don't understand!" And in that moment...a scripture came into my head...Philippians chapter 3 verse 10: "I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings..." This same scripture that I had been struggling with all week. And in that moment of total dispair, God spoke to me and said, "I know exactly how you feel." And I realized that this feeling, this feeling of loving someone so much and completely pouring yourself out to them, only to have it thrown back in your face time and time again is how God feels every single day with his children...only about 10 million times worse. And I realized that so often I do the exact same thing to Him...yet He never stops loving me, never gives up on me, and I began to rejoice in that beautiful and miraculous fact.

And, I rejoiced in the fact that in that moment, I was sharing in his sufferings. I was feeling the pain that comes with seeking to love even when it hurts. The pain that comes with giving everything I can give through Christ, only to have it rejected competely. And yet, I(because of Christ in me) press on. Because I want to know Christ...not just through the happy times...but in the the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings. "But whatever was to my profit, I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things."

And so tomorrow, as the kids walk through those doors at the Joshua Center, I will greet each kid with a smile and a hug...and I will be reminded on a daily basis that I am doing this all for Jesus Christ, that I may find him in the smallest of things, whether it be through helping a child do their homework, laughing at them as they attempt their ridiculous jokes or even discipling them for their outright disrespect. And I will be reminded in those moments of pain of the pain I have so often caused Jesus myself, and the forgiveness, grace, mercy and love he shows to me even in my darkest moments.

God, may you teach me through these young children. And, everytime I think about giving up...everytime when I feel like nothing I do matters, may I be reminded that you are my strength and it is you and only you whom I am serving and glorifying through my words and actions. May you shine through me when those moments come crashing in, that these children will know you as the forgiving and loving God that you are.

God bless you all!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Philippians 3-Part 1

These past couple of months, I've been mediating on specific passages in the bible, usually a couple of weeks at a time. The passage that has been on my heart the past few months is Philippians chapter 3:1-11; especially verses 7-11.

It says:
"But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead."

These verses have resonated deep within my soul as I think about when Paul was writing this to the Philippians. He was telling them how if anyone had reason to be confident in themselves (they can save themselves), he would be because he was of a pure bloodline, a Pharisee, circumcised, and as far as rules and commandments go...faultless. Yet, he says all this to say that everything the world sees as a loss for him now because of Jesus. After his conversion to Christ, he realized none of that really mattered. Knowing Christ is the only thing he can be confident in. I think about this because I know people will someday stand before God and say, yeah I should get into heaven...I mean I gave 10% of every check to the church or I was a social worker or I never stole anything...ect...but Paul says, nope...all of that is works, and you can never be "good enough" for God. No, Paul says, my "resume" seemed perfect and faultless at one point, but when Jesus came into my heart, he showed me the only thing I need (and that saves my soul) on my resume is Jesus Christ. Two letters...Jesus Christ. He is ALL we need.

Oh what freedom! To know that nothing I can do or not do will make God love me more or less. Yes, Romans 8:1 says "therefore there is NO condemnation for those that are in Christ Jesus. "
These words. They make some people a little...uh, nervous. This world tells us we are a "good" person if we don't steal or kill, if we give to charity and ya know, help out our friends in need. Yet Jesus says, no one is good but God himself. There are going to be a lot of "good" people in hell someday. Yet, the grace of God shows us that we are saved not by our "goodness" or the things we do but by the amazing grace and mercy of Jesus Christ our Lord. Only with Jesus in our heart can we stand before God someday. Unfortunately, the freedom to know that their is no condemnation for those in Christ is a freedom that many people, including Christians themselves, don't really seem to live in. It's a freedom that sometimes I struggle myself to live in.

Yet, I think when we offer ourselves to people who don't know Christ, and we are truly living in Christ's freedom, people see us as ones who aren't perfect but they see a Lord who loves us despite our becomes more about Him and his grace and less about us and how "good" we are. Oh how I desire for my kids at work to see and feel this freedom! This is my desire everyday, that they don't think you have to "have your life together" or whatever, but they can see that Christ loves them regardless and desires a real relationship with them!

The second part of this passage..."that I may know Christ...and the fellowship of his sufferings." Well, this will have to be another blog...cuz that part is a lot harder to swallow! Check back soon...part 2 of Philippians 3 is soon to follow.

God bless u all!

Saturday, November 8, 2008


Last night Breakthrough held it's annual benefit to raise money to support our organization. It was a great night with over 1700 people coming to check out what BT is all aboutErwin McManus was the speaker this year, and although I was with the kids the whole time, I heard he did a great job.

As always our kids sung in choir. We take the kids at 4:00 to the hotel and stay there until usually around 9 or 9:30. So, it's a real long night for them and for us! It was stressful, but as always it ended up being a great time for them and once we got past the stress of it all, it was a great night for me as well. Because we have such a long time in the "green room" waiting for our moment to shine, I always bring my camera so they can take pictures. And boy did they take pictures. I think over 70 were taken! So, in remembrance of the are some of the best pics:
"What would happen if all of us began to discover our God given dreams? What would happen if all of us began to live wide awake and began to live our lives in such a way that everything we did, every choice, every act, all of it was used to fulfill those dreams and make the world a different place?"

-Erwin McManus (the keynote speaker) at the Breakthrough Benefit

God bless you all!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Where would Jesus go?

Tonight I went to a very good friend of mine's church. I have decided to start looking for a new church and I figured the first place to look would be at her church. As we started getting close to the church, we realized that we would have to turn around to park, so about half a block from the church we turned down a side street to turn around. We saw on the side of the road, about 15-20 people sitting or standing on the sidewalk. They seemed to be homeless and some were disabled. I wondered out loud to my friend, what are they all doing there? We then pulled around and found a parking spot.

As we walked to the church, I realized that on one side of the church was a food mart and on the other side was a liquor store. As we walked into the church I noticed how big and nice it was. It was a very nice church, and there was probably 200 or so people in the congregation. Mostly young, very nice looking people. Yet, I was absolutely overwhelemed with a question that was in my spirit...Where would Jesus go? The so obvious distinction between the poor outside to the "rich" (in most terms) inside was very overwhelming to me. It seemed a little odd that the church would be placed there.

We found a spot to sit and as I sat there, trying to breathe in and not go running out...the thought continued to resonate within me...where would Jesus go? If he was riding in the car with us and got out...would he walk into the awesome church with a lot of really nice people...or would he have got out and said...i'll see you guys afterwards, i'm going to go hang out with those people over there? I think he would have chosen the latter.

Now, I'm not saying that I should have gone over there and hung out with them...I may have gotten hurt, or maybe I would have been warmly welcomed...all I'm saying is that sometimes we try so hard to be "about Jesus" that we miss Jesus all together.

The service was good. I don't really think it's the church I want to go to (I want a more diverse-economically, racially, etc), but I understand why some would really enjoy it. I know, though, that throughout the whole service, I continued to think about the men, women, and children sitting outside and I wondered if we were missing the whole boat. I don't know...all I know is that Jesus is messing my life up. He keeps giving me eyes to see some things that are totally and completley messed up in our society, and yes sometimes in our own church. Although he is messing my life up...I love it and I pray he continues to challenge me and push me to become more like him every single day of my life.

And taking the words of the Pastor tonight...may my deepest satisfaction always be in Jesus Christ!
God bless you all!