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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Tonight

Tonight Ashley, Areania, and Elvalenna came over to my house. We made pizzas and brownies. It was a great night. We had so much fun...by the end of the night, Areania was like, can we have a sleepover sometime? I was thinking...ummmmm...NO! lol


I love my kids. Tomorrow and Saturday we have basketball. I am so excited! I love basketball and more than that...I love coaching. Here are a few pictures of kids on my team, enjoy!





Wednesday, January 30, 2008

News Around the World


I'm not sure if anyone has really been paying attention to the news, but I wanted to remind everyone to be praying for the people of Kenya. There has been over 800 people killed since the fighting erupted between two different people groups (Kikuyu and Kalenjin). The US envoy is calling the violence in Kenya "ethnic cleansing." Some are saying that politicians are helping to fund the militas. So very sad for the thousands (255,000 or more) of people who have lost their homes and the hundreds of people who have lost their lives.


So, I ask of you...please pray for these people. Pray for their government and their police force to have the power (and yet the compassion) to stop this violence. Pray for these people groups who have so much hatred for each other. It saddens me to no end that people would hate other people just because of their heritage. Just because they are in a different tribe. So I ask you to pray for peace and just as importantly understanding and tolerance of other tribes and peoples.


God bless you all. And, while you are praying for Kenya...continue to pray for Chicago's west side. :)

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Youth

Lord, if you could help me understand why a CHILD at 13 years old would want to have sex, that would be great. Because see, I dont understand it at all. Not at all.

13 years old and scared that she's pregnant? 13 YEARS OLD and SCARED THAT SHE'S PREGNANT. (Thankfully she found out she's not)

What is wrong with this world? Where have we failed? Where has the church failed? Where have families failed?

God help us...thank you for calling me to youth ministry. I fear it is a burden that I cannot undo...I fear it is a burden too big for me. Can I, one person, really make a difference? Am I, one person, really making a difference? This is a question that haunts me daily...

These kids, OUR FUTURE, they have so many pressures these days. Faced with so many decisions at such a young age. What can we do to help these children?

Lord, if you can help me understand why a CHILD at 13 years old would want to have sex...that would be great. Because see, I dont understand it at all. Not at all.

Friday, January 25, 2008

COMMENTS WAHOOO


So, I just was notified by a friend that my blog doesn't allow comments by anyone but gmail users. Therefore, not very many people can comment on my blog.

I'm assuming :) that's why I get very few comments...so I figured out how to change it where anyone, including people who want to keep their commments anyonomous, can now comment on my blog. All you have to do is comment and then instead of "signing in" at the bottom, click nickname and just put your name. That way, you don't actually have to put a gmail account :)

So, peeps...you now have no reason not to comment...lol

I expect a lot now! :)


God bless you all...and I'm going to leave you with a quote I found a few days ago that I absolutely thought is necessary for all people, it's a quote on ATTITUDE:


"The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important that the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than apperance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company...a church...a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past...we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you...we are in charge of our attitudes."


Sunday, January 20, 2008

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


Monday is MLK day...most schools and many businesses close for the special day. Yet, I can't help but think that Dr. King's day has become a little commercialized...his words have become less passionate and moving...and his dream a thing of the past.

I personally still get moved to the point of tears when I read his speeches and letters. They hit to the very core of my being...especially his letter from a Birmigham jail:

"We have waited .for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God- given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we stiff creep at horse-and-buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging dark of segregation to say, "Wait." But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six- year-old daughter why she can't go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five-year-old son who is asking: "Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?"; when you take a cross-county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading "white" and "colored"; when your first name becomes "nigger," your middle name becomes "boy" (however old you are) and your last name becomes "John," and your wife and mother are never given the respected title "Mrs."; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you no forever fighting a degenerating sense of "nobodiness" then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience...But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an extremist for love: "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you." Was not Amos an extremist for justice: "Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream." Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel: "I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus." Was not Martin Luther an extremist: "Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God." And John Bunyan: "I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience." And Abraham Lincoln: "This nation cannot survive half slave and half free." And Thomas Jefferson: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that an men are created equal ..." So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we viii be. We be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremist for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice? In that dramatic scene on Calvary's hill three men were crucified. We must never forget that all three were crucified for the same crime---the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment. The other, Jeans Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment. Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists..."

(there is so much more to this letter, but i figured none of you would read the whole thing so i just put a small part in it. i suggest if you have time to read the whole thing though.)

I was talking to a little girl the other day at work and she told me her sister doesn't like white people. I asked why and she didn't answer me then I looked at her cousin and asked her if she liked white people. The other girl looked at me with her big brown eyes and said, "why Shasta? You aren't white, you are light-skinned." Then it hit me. White and Black has become less about the color of one's skin and more about the "sterotypes" people have been taught their whole lives. When she looks at me she doesn't see me as a white person because then everything she has been taught about 'white people' will be wrong. Although it warms my heart to know that she doesn't sterotype me in this way, it breaks my heart that she is being taught things about 'whites' and other children are being taught things about 'blacks' that are so untrue in most cases. Yes, there are some people who fit the 'black' or 'white' sterotypes taught by many people but who am i and who is anyone to be judged by another person's actions and beliefs?
So, as I sit here today, I think...have we really come that far in obtaining Dr. MLK's dreams? Yes, people today can sit, go, eat, sleep anywhere they want, regardless of the color of their skin, thank God. But, I think he wanted so much more than that. I think about the bitterness towards blacks so many whites have. I think about the bitterness towards whites so many blacks have. I feel it sometimes as I walk around my neighborhood...I see the stares and hear the comments. And, I look at people and want to shout, look beyond the color of my skin and look at the content of my character! Dr. King said that by the way. It all makes me wonder, with all the plays, rememberances, and other things we have in Dr. King's honor...does it stir up any emotions? Do we ever sit back and think about the racism that still goes on today?
I'm sure I will stir up a lot of feelings when people read this. Maybe some will even comment...i'd love for you to. But, honestly, I really just want people to look at themselves, at their neighborhoods, at their schools, and ask the question...how far have we, not as a society or government, but we as human beings...as neighborhoods as families, come from the days when MLK preached and spoke about freedom and justice?
God bless you all, and taking Dr. King's words...your's for the cause of peace and brother(sister)hood, Shasta.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Last Night's Game!

So, last night we went to a DePaul girl's basketball game. The girls had soooo much fun! We took 6th-8th grade girls. Not only did 9 out of 10 girls get shirts but also 3 of our girls got to do half-time activites! One of the girls won!

This is the girl that won...she had to shoot a lay-up and then run back, jump on a tricycle and ride it to the baseline...she CHEATED and practically dragged the tricycle, but she won anyways! lol She got a whole bag of DePaul goodies!


video

The video below is from the other 2 girls that were in the halftime thing. Evalenna had to run in the ball...she did really good and beat the other girl, but her partner...the one and only Kanika had to run down the court make a layup and then come back and make a freethrow...LOL she totally hit the side of the backboard...and then finally made the layup...but she for the life of her could not make a freethrow! :) It was quite hiliarious!


video

Monday, January 14, 2008

Stimulating Conversations?


Here is a conversation I had today with one of my girls at Breakthrough:


Me: Hey Kanika, what's up?

Kanika: Hey Shasta, nuttin...want some? (Flamin Hotts-a brand of cheetos/popcorn-ALL my kids eat them!)

Me: NO! I hate those stuff...they r too hot for me!

Kanika: ahh, you know the real reason is they make you need to poop.

Me: WHAT?

Kanika: yeah, these things make you need to poop really bad...Mannne, let me tell ya the first time my brother gave me some....I was pootin all ova the house and needin to poop.

Me: hmm...maybe that should be your next science experiment, do Flamin Hotts make you need to poop?

Kanika: why? It's a FACT.


HAHAHAHAH...LOL


And people actually ask me why I would ever want to work with urban youth. Probably because I laugh more when I'm with them than anytime else...they are HILIARIOUS!


ps. i know i already posted the picture above, but the girl in the picture is the one and only Kanika...

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Many Faces of My Beautiful Kids

Here are some of my wonderful kids, during our Christmas party and other December festivities! Enjoy!!!! PLEASE COMMENT! Playin in the snow! This was the first big snow of the winter!

One of our seventh grade boys!
A tutor helping out a couple of our kindergarteners!
The boy on the right is a mayor, the girl is a kindergartener!

The girl on the left is ccccrrazy! Love her tho!
Way blurry...still tryin to figure out the settings on my camera! But, cute pic!
Bible study group....5-6th grade girls....can you imagine the FUN we have? LOL


On the bus ride home...these kids are cousins!
This my girl right here...she's got an attitude but she's matured so much ova the past few months!
6th grader...all the 4th grade girls are in LOVE with him :)



This boy is ssssoooo sweet....look at that precious face!
Showin off what she got for Christmas!
Three my favorite kids...they crack me up!
Smile for the camera!
Awwww....now, this girl is amazing! Very mature for her young 13 years! She is going places someday...I promise it!



One of our mayors and our fifth graders...the mayor is an awesome Godly kid...HG 2nd year!
Two of our mayors...the one on the right is my girl, one of my favorites!
Awww....she was so happy!



Now, this one right here...she's a trip! But, shes got big goals....wants to be a Pediatrician...go ahead girl!
I promise you, you'll never find a person as HILIARIOUS as this girl....I laugh everytime she walks in the door...and she is SO LOUD...lol





Oh LORD, what can I say about him?




Now, seriously , this my girl right here! She is so so so sweet and innocent! I LOVE HER!






All the presents for the kiddos!




Her bein her silly self!
1st grader...on the bus home!
I wish this wasn't so blurry...he is a DOLL!
MY KIDS LOVE FRIED CHICKEN!

Can you spell TROUBLE! LOL










Tuesday, January 8, 2008

God's grace

So, yesterday I found out one of our mayors (leaders in the program) was caught stealing from Target. Now, I've got to tell you, this girl is an awesome kid. Growing Christian, practically raises her lil sisters, and just very mature for her age. Needless to say, I was shocked beyond shocked. The great thing is, she didn't get arrested, they ended up just fining her 250 dollars. I had a long talk with her today about it. She told me how embarrassed and stupid she felt and how she didn't even really know why she did it. She said she realized how she much she had let down her sisters and her grandma. And, her consequences involved quiting basketball so she can work more to pay for the fine. She also told me how so many people were shocked and how she realized how many people have high expectations of her. And, how she really wants to live up to those expectations...and that she WILL live up to them. I also reminded her of how that really speaks volumes of her character because everyone was so surprised that she would do something like this.

Now, i'm sure you are wondering why I titled this post God's grace. It's because God is amazing, because he can use someone's completely stupidity to show his grace. We talked about how God allowed her not to get arrested, because she should have been. She would have a record, but God showed her his mercy and his love by allowing her a second chance. He showed her how much he loves her, despite how stupid her actions were. And, not only that but God has used this situation to open her eyes. To show her how many people believe in her and really do expect great things from her. I truly believe that God is using this situation to teach her to believe more in herself and realize she is so much better than stealing. I'm proud of her. No, not because of what she did...I was very disappointed and upset...but proud of how much she is learning and growing from this. It would be easy for her to say, next time I won't get caught. But, no she is taking on her responsiblities and saying, I won't ever do that again. She even laughed and said, I dont ever want to go in target again! lol

Anyways, God is so good. She dodged a bullet with this whole situation. These are the situations everyday our kids are going through and dealing with. And God continues to pour out his mercy and love onto them. I'm so thankful he allowed her another chance. I'm so thankful that God can use anything, even sin, for his glory and eventually for our good.

Btw, if anyone remembers, back in October I wrote a post on a girl in 4th grade with a really bad attitude. I'm telling you guys, God is doing wonders in her life. She still has that attitude, but she is slowly changing. Yesterday, she literally came in and hugged me for forever. Used to, she would barely even look at me much less touch me...now she slowly is learning to trust and its so awesome.

Please continue to pray for my kids and me though. I'm still dealing with a kid who hates my guts but for the most part, the kids seem to really trust me. I pray as they continue to trust me, they see God's love through it all.

God bless you all!

Monday, January 7, 2008

1st day back

I feel like i'm drowning...not sure why but today...all day, i've felt like i'm drowning...

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Resolutions

So, i'm not big on making New Year's resolutions....but I've decided to make one...my resolution for this year is....


TO CHANGE THE WORLD...one child at a time.


Someone made the comment to me a few days ago, "you are fighting a losing battle." Ya know, maybe it is...i mean every single odd is against me. Every single odd says that these children will not make it. I am fighting their environment, I am fighting history, I am fighting generational poverty, I am fighting the school systems...yet, I am not fighting alone. I have CHRIST on my side...


I am reminded of Gideon, who defeated an army of over one hundred thousand men with only 300 men. That was fighting a losing battle...yet God was with him. I am reminded of Moses, who was a stutterer, yet God used him to bring his people out of Egypt...Esther who was an orphan yet became queen and saved his people. David who was a youngster, yet killed a giant and later became king and ancestor to Christ...Paul who was a murderer and yet God ended up using him to write 13 books in the New Testament. All of these men (and women) probably were told by someone...you are fighting a losing battle...yet all had God on their side and He used them to accomplish his great purposes. Now, i'm not saying I'm anything in comparison to Paul or Esther or whoever...but I will say, I have Christ on my side....and I have a purpose and a mission from God...


I, with Christ in me, WILL change the world...it may be just one child's world...but I will CHANGE THE WORLD....ONE CHILD AT A TIME.


I'm excited about 2008. I can't wait to see what God has in store for this year and see the amazing things He is going to do through me in the lives of the children in Chicago. Thank you Lord for using me, this broken vessel...this person who has little to offer and even less to give. Thank you Lord for allowing me to find my passion and to show me your love for these children.

I pray 2008 is a year of miracles, a year of dreams fulfilled, and a year of growth. May you all have a wonderful 2008. May everyone's year be filled with love, with laughter, with joy, and with a little stretching beyond your comfort zone. For some reason, I feel like this is going to be a big year. So strap your boots on, grab your bibles, and lets get ready!!!!!

Wahooo!!!!!! Welcome to 2008!!