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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

How are You?

This is a question I have been asked lately by plenty of different people. Everyone from my family, to friends, to even a couple of kids. My answer simply is...I'm okay. Part of me believes this and the other part of me is saying, dude i'm just trying to put one foot in front of the other without tripping.

And you know, sometimes thats what faith is. Putting one foot in front of the other. Walking intent on not tripping. In Hebrews, faith is described as believing in the unseen. Fixing our eyes on this unseen and knowing that even when we are absolutely unfaithful, God alway is. Max Lucado once said, "He has shown that he never fails, though there is nothing but failure in us."

I have sat here these past few days...trying to understand and make sense of everything thats going on around me and in me. I know that when I look back on my experience here, I will be nothing but thankful for the trials I've went through. For through it all, God has and is teaching me so much about me and more importantly about Him.

The joy of the Lord is my strength. As I go out today...putting one foot in front of the other, that verse resonates in my heart. You, your joy Lord, is my strength. I will not rely on my own strength...cuz we all know how that turns out...but instead...I will look to you, I will fix my eyes on you, the author and perfector of my faith, and I will as Paul said, struggle with all YOUR energy, which so powerfully works in me.

Readers, you are all in my prayers. God is faithful, even when we are not...

God bless you all!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Warm Weather!

At the insisting of my mother, I decided to write a quick post. I guess i've had a lot on my mind as of late and have been very busy, so I just haven't had the time nor the will to write. This past week was our last week of academic program (*tear). Although I was sad that the time has passed by so quickly, I was running on empty-so I was ready for a few days of relaxation and no kids. OMG, did that come out of my mouth? I know you are suprised but yes, even I desire a few days off. lol

It is Memorial Day weekend and it has turned out to be a very nice, relaxing one. Yesterday, a co-worker and I took our 3rd graders to the park, lunch, and a movie. Although we don't have the warm 80 degree weather Arkansas is getting, it has been nice, in upper 60s and lower 70s. I enjoyed being outside with the kids and laughing at them as they all tried their hand on the tire swing. We went and watched the movie speedracer...I wouldn't recommend it for anyone over the age of 10! lol

Today is Sunday. As I sat out on my deck (for like 3 hours!), I realized how much I've grown accustomed to and love the sounds of my neighborhood. Today, at any moment I could hear the ice cream truck's jingle, the 80s music playing as my neighbors barbequed in their backyard, the laughter of some of the neighborhood children playing basketball and riding their bikes past my house, and of course, the occasional police siren going by.

I grew up in the country...and when I say country, I mean country...my neighbors were cows! I never really knew what it was like to live in a neighborhood and although I do miss being able to just go outside and enjoy walking barefoot in the grass and not seeing concrete and houses everywhere I look...I love the sounds and the smells of the city.

Lately, I have been reminded that as Christians, God made us for community. I forget this sometimes because I am a very independent person and I really enjoy soldiarity at times. Yet, at other times, I yearn for friends and community...and I know I am "filled up" when I get to be around those whom I love.

Tomorrow is Memorial Day. I know for some that means time to sleep in and rest, while for others that means barbequing and being with others. I do hope, whatever your plans, you go out and enjoy the beautiful day...



God bless you all!

Monday, May 19, 2008

What happens in Bible Study...stays in Bible Study



Today was the last bible study of the year, so we decided to have a party.


We ate Chipotle burritos and chips and played games like Name that Tune, Clothing Relay, Bobbing for Apples, and Food Relay. The kids really enjoyed it!



Hope you enjoy the pictures! And of course...the video :)




God bless you all!!!!! video

Saturday, May 17, 2008

the Diamondbacks

Today was the official start of softball. Yes, I practically coach anything I can! Today we took the girls to "opening day." It was a pretty big deal, complete with Mayor Daley and a couple of former pro baseball players.

We had a ton of fun and the girls ended up playing a "semi-real" game. A high school team and our girls played together...and you know what? They did okay. A few players really impressed me. For example...Cheyenne, Jameisha, and Kanika can all hit the ball pretty solid, while Maia is definitely going to be our short stop (she had 3 outs in the game). I think the best thing about the scrimmage is that now, Andrea and I have a better idea of where we will position the girls.

Anyways, they got to wear their uniforms (the Diamondbacks) and I took a few pictures and even recorded a couple of videos of the girls batting. Here is a video of Iris batting (yes that is one of our girls dancing at first base lol)!

God bless you all!!!

video

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Questions

Do you ever just take a step back and look at your life?

Do you ever think...who is most important in your life?

What is most important in your life?

What am I holding on to that I just need to let go of?

What feeds my soul?


These are the questions that are resonating with me tonight...these are questions that I am asking myself to see where my priorities are....


"I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes-I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!" Job 19:25-27


God bless you all.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Ahh...the simplicity of kids' minds!

I was talking to a young lady today. We got on the subject of how I never cook (Yes I am notorious for the blue box and boiling water). She always gripes at me for this and says i'm going to get fat eating out all the time (which is funny since I rarely have the money or opprotunity to eat out). And we joked back and forth about what is better for you (or more convenient!).


She then told me what she would do if she was president. She is a smart girl so i'm thinking...end the war...universal healthcare...more charter schools or something profound. Nope...what would she do?


a. cigaretes would be illegal. they wouldn't even be available anywhere.

b. restaurants would be so expensive, no one would be able to eat there.



lol. yes. those were her two things she will do when she is president. Ahh...the simplicity of kids' minds!


She does have a point tho...maybe people would be a whole lot healthier physically if no one smoked. For as a person w/a degree in the health field...i know that almost all ailments can be and are caused from smoking. And also, maybe more families would be intact. Why? Because they'd have to sit down together and eat dinner. They'd have to actually spend time together instead of running through the fast food line and eating in their cars while onto their next event/game/whatever.




Yes...simple answers to our country's problems...or is it? You be the judge :)





God bless you all!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Where there is darkness....light

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
when there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand,
to be loved as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying [to ourselves] that we are born to eternal.
-St. Franicis of Assisi

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Community

All over the news these past few weeks has been reports of robberies, shootings, and murders. And mainly, these crimes have been on the southside or the westside (where I live). I watch the news and read the paper and I think...do I really live here? I mean, I know I do but sometimes it shocks me that something went down two blocks away from my house. And yes, it does make me fearful at times for my safety (and at all times for the safety of my kids' and their families)...but at the same time, more than anything it gives me even more determination to stay here and fight this fight.

But, I want everyone out there to know, there are two sides to the 'hood (or ghetto as some call it). Yes, of course, there are plenty of kids in our neighborhood turning to violence and dropping out of school. Yes, there are gangs and drug-dealers and criminals. Yet, there is so much more in this neighborhood than the newspapers talk about.

Here's the stories people don't hear about...but what I see on a daily basis. See, where I live...it's a community. There are at least 4 parks within walking distance of my house. One right down the street from me. Kids are out there everyday after school playing basketball, swinging on swings...talking to their buddies. As I walk to work everyday, I see people out on their porches and washing their cars. They say hi and sometimes I stop to talk to them for a couple of minutes. On the way home from work, I see kids riding their bikes, jumping rope, and running around while the parents sit out on their porches and talk to the adults. See, where I live...it's a community.

See...the stories I want you to hear are not of violence or crimes...it's of love and helping each other out. Just this morning, I was outside...looking at my wipers. I had just bought some new ones and was trying to figure out how to put them on. My next door neighbor was walking out of his house when he saw me standing there. He asked me if I had put them on yet and I told him no, I was just trying to figure it out...he then came over looked at them for a second and within five minutes had put them on for me. Why? Because he is my neighbor...nothing more. I told him thank you and we talked for a couple of minutes and then I went inside. See...where I live, it's a community.

I was walking the other day back home from work, as I walked past the park down the street from my house...I saw some kids that I knew. They saw me and yelled my name and came running over to me. We stood there chatting, a few other kids coming over to say hi (that I didn't know) and then I gave them a couple of basketball pointers (they always playin ball) they laughed at me and I went on my way. See...where I live, it's a community.

I wish I could tell you the many times I've had random conversations with my neighbors as I walked down the street. I wish I could tell you about the only Starbucks around my home and how friendly the people are that work there. How about the lady at Walgreens? Whom I always have a conversation with. Or our post office lady? How I laugh at her as she is always dancing and always asks me if I know how to? And how last time I was in there...we talked about our neighborhood and how sad it was that so many of our youngsters are getting murdered. These are MY neighbors. These are the people who live in the 'hood. These are the people that are misunderstood and discriminated against. See...where I live, it's a community.

We hear about all these children dropping out of schools, kids murdering kids, gang members recruiting kids and selling drugs. Yet, we never hear about the kids who are perservering. Who have dreams and goals...who are making a difference, right in the middle of the ghetto. How about this one 16 year old girl? She is a leader in our program. Makes practically straight A's and values her education and teaches our kids to value it also. This girl works, takes care of her family, and still goes to school everyday. And yes, she is a product of our community. Or how about this one boy? Who struggles, but pushes through it all. Who desires to know the Lord and desires to live out his testimony. He doesn't have the best home life...actually, it's pretty sucky, yet he pushes on...goes to school...excels in sports...and is a leader for our kids. Or lets talk about the younger kids. How about the young girl who is so stinking creative and witty. This child, I've never seen someone who can come up with a joke about anything and everything. She may not be the best student, but I swear she tries so hard and she pushes herself to be the best she can be. These are the children I see everyday....these are the children that aren't recognized...yet should be. These are the youth that are in our community and who aren't going to be labeled...who are going to make a new label for inner-city kids.


Yes, there are a lot of bad things going on in our neighborhood. In the surrounding neighborhoods. But, there sure are a lot of great things going on too. There are a lot of people who aren't doing what they are supposed to...but there sure are a lot of good neighbors too. Yes, there are some kids in my 'hood that are making very poor decisions...but there are some strong kids too. There are some kids that despite all odds are pushing through everyday and are making a difference...one day at a time.


I hope as you read this...you realize that the inner-cities of Chicago isn't all bad. That there is much more to the west/southsides of Chicago than violence and crime. There are good neighbors and strong, excelling kids.

Now lets see some news stories on that :)


God bless you all!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Basketball...a game of life

Ok. So I'm really tired, so if not all of this makes sense, sorry.

Today was the 7th and 8th grade basketball tournament. We were the fourth seed. It went like this: 1st Green, 2nd Brown, 3rd Orange, 4th Blue (Us), 5th Maroon, and 6th Yellow (dropped out before tourney).

We got picked to play the orange team first game. We played our hearts out. For the first time in four weeks...they played as a team and worked together. We ended up winning by five in overtime. It was a great moment for our kids. They were overly excited. Then came the bad news...we had to play back to back to the best team in the league...green. Our 3 best players were exhausted and rightly so. Yet, we still had a glimmer of hope...

The second game started. For the first five minutes...we played with them. After that, though, it went downhill. The green team is very lazy so, we were trying to push the tempo but our kids were tired and well, a little intimidated by the team (they are much bigger and more athletic and had already beat us in the regular season by fourteen) so we were making a lot of turnovers. By halftime, we were down by around twenty points. Thats when things started getting ugly. Our kids are not known for keeping their cool. The week before they had almost gotten in a fist fight...with themselves. When we start losing, they lose their heads and catch an attitude quick. So, after two technicals, I took the two players causing the most trouble and sat 'em on the bench. I also pulled our three girls aside (yes we were the only team with any girls...much less three...and let me tell you, one of them could beat almost any guy out there) and told them that it didn't matter how all these boys were acting, they need to keep playing their game. So, I left those three in, one other boy (the only one who kept a good attitude the whole game...and the whole season for that matter) and our best player (who had gotten a technical but had calmed down and decided to play for real). And the others....well, I wasn't going to put them back in.

All this time tho, the ref had told me...if we get one more tech, the game was going to be called. So, me and our other coach were trying to coach while at the same time, holding back the kids on the bench. They were causing quite the ruckus. It didn't work so well. One of the boys (who already had one technical) wanted to go back in and was just making a huge spectacle of himself and grabbed his clothes...walked out onto the middle of the court (while the game was going on) and started dancing. Yes...dancing. Of course, a technical was called...the game was over (I was a little thankful too).

We ended up losing by almost forty points. Definitely not a way we wanted to end the season, but the thing is...basketball is so much more than winning and losing...much more than a sport. It is a life teaching tool. After the game...I sat all the players down (except for the one 'dancer' ha) and told them that I wasn't worried about their talent at all. Every single one of our players has the athleticism and talent to play at the next level. But, I told them none of them were ever going to make it very far because of their attitudes. It's not how you play or respond when everything is going good...it's how you respond and act when your backs are against the wall or when you're losing. Life isn't always going to be easy...you aren't always going to win at everything...they have to figure out how to lose without losing their cool. They have to understand that you have to push through when you are down and out.

See. To me, coaching is much more about these kids learning how to become young men and women than about basketball. Yeah, I'd love to see Shamesha make it all the way to college level, cuz she sure as heck is an amazing ball player right now. But, I'd rather her become a woman of integrity...and someone who makes something of herself. And, yes I'd love to see Cornelius and Kyree become the next Michael Beasly and Chris Douglas-Roberts...but I'd rather them become Godly men and the next "Dr. Kyree" and "CEO Cornelius".

Breakthrough basketball is much more than a sports league. It's a safe haven for kids to come and have fun and be surrounded by coaches and BT staff who care about them. It's a place to keep them off the streets and involved in something productive. And it's a place they can learn about life...and learn that it's losing not winning that really shows who you are.

I love it. I was blessed to be a part of this league. I have learned so much about coaching and about teenagers(lol) in one season. It's been quite a ride, but I wouldn't have changed it for the world. And...we ended up getting 3rd place in the tournament...not exactly what we wanted...but...we've always got next year! ;)


God bless you all!