Monday, June 30, 2008

Summer Studies

Summer studies is now in full force. It officially started last week, which means me getting up early, which have yet to get used to since I didn't have to be at work till 10 for so many months. Now, I have to be at work by 8:00, the kids start showing up at 8:45.

My favorite part of the day is probably freetime. We go out back and I mainly play basketball with the older kids. I really enjoy this because it not only gives me a little exercise, but lets just be honest...I love basketball! I also just enjoy being with the older kids. They crack me up and definitely keep me on my toes!

I realized the last couple of days how much I truly enjoy having the kids all day. It's been great just getting to see their different attitudes in the summer. They are so much happier here than they were during the school year. I guess mainly cuz they go to school all day and then would come to our program for another 3 hours. That makes for a long and stressful day for them.

I have another theory as well. It's Summer. Summer makes people happier. Well, at least it does me. One time Chantel (my KAA director) asked our bible study how we worship God the best. When it came to me, I immediately knew the answer. Being outside. Oh! How I love to be outside. Sometimes, I just love to walk and pray. I just love to see God's creation. To see the trees and the blue skies. Or to see the stars out at night. I truly believe God created all of this for us to enjoy. And there is almost no way better than to put me out in the middle of a forest or overlooking beautiful green pastures, etc. to bring me to a place of worship with God.

I am reminded of a quote that came out of this book, Ragamuffin Gospel. In it, the author, Brennan Manning says this:

"For grace proclaims the awesome truth that all is gift. All that is good is ours, not by right, but by the sheer bounty of a gracious God….we have been given God in our souls and Christ in our flesh. I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ and I have done nothing to earn it or deserve it. We are all, equally, privileged but unventilated beggars at the door of God’s mercy."

All is a gift. Not just the money we have in our pockets or the clothes on our back, but also the blue skies we see when we walk out in the mornings or the slight breeze we feel during freetime out back...all of this is a gift. All that is good is ours, not by right, but by the sheer bounty of a gracious God. A God that loved me enough to make ladybugs...just cuz he knew I would love them. He love me enough to have birds chirp because he knew I'd love the sound of birds singing in the morning.

God is good. Summer is good. Summer studies is good. I am enjoying the warm weather, the long laughter filled days, and the constant reminder of God's grace as I walk outside.

Old pic of me, my dad, and Brandon after hiking...

(I miss those days!)

God bless you all!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Random Thoughts

I really, really need a tan. My legs are so white, they blind people when I wear shorts...oh how a vacation to Florida or Tahiti would just hit the spot ;)

Tomorrow starts our summer program, I am teaching the "Tech Class." I'm not going to lie...i'm a little nervous! I really want it to be something the kids enjoy...or at least don't hate. I'm excited tho because it'll be the first time i've seen some of them since our school program ended!

Yesterday we had our block party. It was the grand opening celebration of the new men's center and we had food, games, music, and tours of our new facility. It was so great. We had a really nice turnout, lots of people and of course, a ton of kids. The youth staff was in charge of mainly the jumping house thingie. It was a hit with the kids...young and old. We had a couple of different volunteer groups help too, so they were giving out a lot of prizes and tons and tons of candy. It was great, though, and I had 2 kids come up to me at the end of the of them said "This is the best day of my life!" (6th grader) and the other, an 8th grader, said "This is definitely the best and funnest block party I've ever been to." It made me smile!

Oh, and my across the street neighbors came and hung out at the block party all day. It was great because i've been praying for awhile now on how to get their kids (there are about 10-12 living in the house) involved in some way with breakthrough or at least let them realize there is a place like ours right down the street!

Hmm...more random thoughts, i've got to go to court on Tuesday...pray that everything works out and I don't have to pay a large fine!

I miss some people. Sometimes it hits me pretty hard. I'll see pictures of my nieces and it'll just strike me how much I miss them...or I'll hear a person's voice and it'll just bring tears to my eyes as I think about how long it's been. Or since most of my friends are from around here or at least in this part of the country, they have friends that live within driving distance...and sometimes I just think, i'm so jealous! Don't get me wrong, i'm glad i'm here. I'm so thankful that God has called me to live here and work in this ministry, but sometimes I just ache for my family and friends. I mean, just really ache for them.

I really wish they could come up and see me. Sometimes I think that if they could just see what i'm doing, if they could just meet my co-workers, my kids, my neighbors...then they'd "get it". I don't know...I guess I just want my friends and family to see my life. I feel so disconnected at times (maybe it's because I have no facebook lol) but yeah...I do.

OH, But...I can't best friend Sara will be coming in August! YAYAYAYAYAY!

Thats about it...I was sitting here bored on Sunday, making a couple of lesson plans for work and I thought i'd write some of my thoughts down. Hope you all have a great Sunday!

God bless you all!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Game Tonight

Tonight we had a softball game. We played against the pirates. I was glad because although we had lost to them before, I really thought we had a chance against them. So far we had won only one game-by forfeit.

Here's a little background on our team. We have girls grades 3rd-7th. Back that up, 1 7th grader, 1 3rd grader...the rest are mainly 4th and 5th graders. NONE, let me repeat, NONE have ever played, so we would be what you would call, beginners. Anyways, we have 3 pitchers. One is great, on the verge of being amazing, one is good on the verge of being great, and the other is still working on being good. lol

Tonight, we mixed up the field a little bit and decided to let our pitcher who is still working on being good pitch. This girl is an amazing kid and definitely the leader on our team. Anyways, we batted first and surprisingly scored 3 runs. We were pysched! Our fielding is our problem most of the time, so i was still very like...we'll see. We got out there, and the other team started walking. Which, unfortunately is their M.O. Last time we played, they liked to walk. Well, one of our girls got mad and tried to walk off the field. So we replaced her with another player. Thankfully, our pitcher was not deterred...she just kept on pitching. They ended up scoring 4 runs. So, down by one...2nd inning. We get up to bat...and we score one run. 4-4. They got up to bat, walked a few more in and score 2. 6-4. I grabbed the pitcher after the inning and I looked at her and said, can do this. I know you can. Don't dare get your head down, I want you to do this...I want you to show them you can pitch to them. Andrea walked over to me and asked me if we should take her out, I said, lets let her pitch one more won't hurt too much and plus, I think she's coming around. We batted...scored 2 runs! 6-6. They get up to bat (3rd inning). I'm secretly hoping the girl won't make me eat my words about me letting her stay in. And let me tell ya...she struck 3 consecutive batters out. No, i'm serious. She did! It was a great moment!

4th Inning, we are tied. Our girls get up to bat...we score one run. I was finally starting to realize, we may have a shot at this game! 3 outs and we are back on the field. Our best pitcher is now in the game. I walk out to her...tell her that she's got this and pray that she doesn't lose her cool. She didn't, striking 2 girls out and our first baseman made a great play to get the third out! We are WINNING 7-6!!!! 5th and final inning...we get out there and bat...first girl, strike out. Second girl walk. 3rd girl hit and all of a sudden, we've got 2 girls on base with one out. 4th batter, strike out. Then next batter...hit and and...we score! 8-6!!!! Next batter, another out. So, going into the bottom of the 5th...all we gotta do is get 3 outs.

Whew, were they feeling the pressure...I could see them getting antsy and excited but at the same time, scared to death! lol 1st batter up...walk. 2nd batter up...walk. 3rd batter up hits a little blooper to our 2nd baseman...bad throw...they score! 8-7. Next batter up...i'm just freaking out. I'm thinking the girls are too...she strikes out! Next batter...hits it to first, another out! 2 outs, we're up by batter....hits it and they score again. 8-8. OMG, by now i'm like thinking my heart is about to beat out of my chest. Next batter...strike out!

The girls are screaming...we are pulling them over, telling them we didn't win yet...we gotta play another inning cuz it's a tie. So here we go again! We are batting. Our first batter gets up. I'm excited cuz we are in an okay part of our line up...i'm thinking, we may actually score a run or two. The first batter hits it to second...bad throw to first, she rounds first heads to second...and then another bad throw so she's headed to third...i'm yelling at her to stop (being the 3rd base coach) she keeps running! They throw it home...she's running....and they drop the ball! HOMERUN! 9-8 US! YAYYYYY! Next batter up...gets a good hit, we get on batter strikes out. 1 out, 1 on. The next two batters get up and get hits. We have a man on 1st and 2nd. I'm getting pumped. Then walks one of our, um...not so good hitters...I was like, oh no! But BLAM! She hits it...they pick it up our girls are running as hard as they can, the girl who hit it gets out but manages to hit one girl in! 10-8 us! And, we have a girl on 3rd! Next girl up, girl up...another hit! WE SCORE AGAIN!!! 11-8 us! Then, unfortunately the next girl strikes out.

Bottom of the 6th. I'm thinking, I can't breathe! First batter up. I tell our pitcher, now is the time to be MENTALLY tough. Lets go, you can do it! She pitches, the girl swings and a hit! In the air, our short stop makes a brillant play and catches it! The crowd is screaming, well...the coaches and one parent cuz thats all that came...but still we were screaming. Next up, a walk. I'm like oh my goodness I can't watch, I can't watch! Next girl up. Now, I'm thinking in my head, this girl can hit but I still wasn't really thinking she would get a good one...I promise, this girl belts it over our center fielder all the way on the other field! HOMERUN...they score 2. 11-10. 1 out. i'm thinking, it's over...there is no way...they gonna win. I'm just upset thinking how devastated they would be after the game. The next girl gets up...walk. Next one...strike out! 2 outs, 1 on base. Next girl gets up...another walk. I'm standing there...thinking omg if they don't start swingning th bat!

Next girl...first pitch SWING and a miss! 1 strike 0 balls. I look over at Andrea, she is standing there, arms crossed face beat red cuz she is so nervous. I glance at Kim, she is literally on her knees begging our pitcher to strike her out. Our other coach, Kalsky is standing there cheering our pitcher on. I'm standing there heart beating out of my chest, literally praying for a miracle. Next pitch...ball. 1 strike, 1 ball. Next pitch, strike 2!!!!! Our girls are screaming, I'm wanting to scream...and our pitcher is standing there, trying to stay calm, cool and collected. Next pitch....a SWING and a MISS!!!!!!! WE WIN WE WIN WE WIN WE WIN!!!!

So, yeah...thats how our first win went down. Sorry I went into so much detail, but 3 years from now...I want to remember every moment...from our 2 pitchers, stepping it up and putting on the best performance ever to our girl who can't really hit the ball getting a legitimate RBI to our shortstop making the great catch...I loved it!!!!


God bless you all!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Celtics WIN!

See I almost always go for the underdogs. I have spent many years cheering for those "cinderella teams." Many, many years of heartbreak were felt as I watched my favorite team the Utah Jazz get beat year after year against the Bulls. I still today remain totally and completely against the Bulls (sorry Chicago) and I am still a die hard fan of Utah.

Once I got into college, I became a huge fan of NCAA basketball and well, decided that the NBA was just a bunch of show boats, no defense...everyone out there to score as many as they can. These past couple of years, I haven't really watched much. And then this year came. And this little team called the Celtics who had the worst record in the NBA last year, started winning. And, I began to cheer for the likes of PJ Brown, Sam Cassell and Ray Allen. I wanted Paul Pierce to win after staying with Boston all these years, and then of course...there's alsoone of the most talented players in the NBA: Kevin Garnett! As I began to watch the NBA finals...I was amazed at the thing I expected the least to happen...actually happen. DEFENSE. Boston played defense. And not just any defense...the hustling your butt off, going after every loose ball, in your face kind of defense that WINS championships.

And tonight...after a 22 year absence, the Boston Celtics won their 17th championship! And ya know...I told my roommate as we watched these "athletes" crying and jumping for joy, I said, thats what its about. Seeing teams like these win...seeing the underdogs, the "cinderella teams", the players who have been in the NBA for YEARS finally win a championship. I'm not going to brought a couple of tears to my eyes! lol

So, with all that said...Way to Go Celtics! The dream came true tonight! And yeah...

The headline of one of the papers reads..."Celtics Easy to Admire, Hard to Hate"

God bless you all!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Future Plans

These past few weeks, I have been debating whether or not I should and could stay at Breakthrough for the upcoming year. My contract doesn't actually end until September but AmeriCorps needed to know by last week (which I extended another week to decide) whether I would do another year or not. As I prayed about it, I was conflicted mainly because I miss my family and yet at the same time, I knew that God was asking me to stay here. There were a host of reasons why I should and shouldn't stay but when it came down to it, I really felt like God was not through with me here. I'm not sure if he is not through using me here or through changing me here. Lol Seriously, I've grown and learned so much in this year that I can't imagine how much more God is going to teach me!

So, with all that said, a mix of happiness and sadness has overtaken me. Yes, I'm extremely happy because I get to spend another year serving my wonderful kids. I truly feel like you can't build lasting relationships in such a short period as a year. These kids have so many people in and out of their lives that I just don't want to be one of them. I'm also happy because I enjoy Chicago. Living in a big city gives me many opprotunities to see things I've never seen before as well as begin to understand many different cultures and lifestyles. It's great. The sadness part of me is the simple fact that I miss my family. I don't really care about the money because well, I'm not in this for the money. I'm definitely not living my life to make that ended up being not a factor once I realized I would still be able to pay my bills. The factor that makes me sad is I think about my beautiful nieces. Kyleigh is 2 and Emma is 3 months old. They are both the most wonderful nieces anyone could ask for. And, it breaks my heart to know that I can't go pick up Kyleigh and take her to the park or just hold Emma for hours and watch her smile. It makes me sad to know my mom and dad had to celebrate mothers and fathers day without me. It makes me sad to know that my bro and bethany bought their first house and i couldn't be there to see it...and it makes me sad to know that the only way i can talk to my best friend in this world, my sister, is through the phone. i can go on and on, about how much i miss my mamaw, my aunts and uncles, my nuckleheaded cousin nicole or my other wonderful cousins...but i won't because i'm starting to get a little teary eyed. so, yeah, this decision that i was definitely a difficult one. in the end, though, i realized that serving god is most important to me. and so i'll stay here. happily but with a twinge of saddness.

i'm excited about this summer. i'm relieved that i know where i'll be for at least another year. it's great to be able to look at my kids and truthfully tell them i'm not going anywhere, at least for awhile.

i love you all. i'm thankful for God's providence in my life. I'm thankful for family that i love so much that i truly miss them! i'm thankful that i also love my job, though, and that god has given me such a passion for working and pouring into the lives of these children.

if you have any questions...comments...about my decision, feel free to email me ( or leave a comment on this silly thing.

God bless you all!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Oh how Frustrating it is!

I am so frustrated! You know, you'd think after I deal with the same stuff after awhile, I'd be used to it! But I still get so SO SO mad when I hear about some boy wanting to have sex with one of my girls. This kid, she means absolutely the world to me. She is my favorite kid I've ever met in my entire life...I've known her for a few years now and I've just enjoyed watching her grown up into the young Godly lady she is becoming. Lately, she has been tellin me that this boy is wanting to have sex with her. You want to know his reason? He wants to be the boy she gives her virginity to. I'm just like...what in the heck kind of bullcrap is that? She of course, told him she was definitely not ready and that now, he was nothing to her...she didn't want anything to do with him. I had to put the phone when she as telling me all about the situation and punch something. It makes me so mad. I just don't understand it...I can name off the top of my head at least 3 or 4 boys who have told her to her face that they were the boys she was gonna give her virginity to. I just, I just don't understand. I mean...what is wrong with these kids these days? I have my theories...starting with the fact that I drive home at almost 10 at night last night and what do I see? Around 30 young kids at the park hanging out! It's pitch black outside and they out there hanging out with their friends. WHAT? Why in the heck are they not bein told get your butt home as soon as those street lights come on?

I just get so frustrated and I think about the video I uploaded on my last post. About the two villages. There is certainly a village raising these children. And not the village that these children deserve. Sometimes my kids get mad at me. They say why you gotta be so hard on me or why you gotta do this...and I say, because I love you. And I expect more out of you. I am not gonna settle for what everyone else is saying is the norm. I WILL NOT. These kids DESERVE more than what people expect out of them. I told a child the other day, I love you too much to be cool. Yeah, I'm usually laughing and joking around with my kids...I sure as heck love them to death and i'll sit and laugh with them and play ball with them and take 'em out...but at the same time, you better believe when it comes to life, I will not play it cool with them. I will sit there and I will let them say crap all day if it means I'm doing my job by expecting more. Because if I don't expect more, then who will? If I don't say no, you will NOT act that way...then who will?

I'm on my soapbox tonight. I just get so frustrated because I love these kids so much. I know God wants more for their lives than ending up pregnant at a young age or ending up dropping out of school or whatever it may be. God wants them to know how valuable and loved they are. He wants them to know that they are MORE than what this village around them is telling them.

And I swear, I'd like to knock that boy out that said that to my girl. I just want to beat his butt and tell him that he better not talk to her ever again. But I won't. I'll do the best thing that he could ever need...I'll pray for him. And, I hope that someday he begins to understand the value of women and the real meaning of being a man. And i'll continue praying for my girl, that she'll continue being the young godly woman she is and that she can stand up to the pressures around her.

And I wonder...what can we do? Yes, there is 2 villages in this neighborhood but I know our village is much smaller than the other. But, I also know that we have something much more powerful than they do...and that something is the Holy Spirit living inside us. So, I will continue to do what God has called me to love these kids to the point of being totally uncool and to push and desire more out of them.

I love 'em. Sometimes I don't understand why when i'm running 15 laps at 7:30 at night cuz their attitudes have been so stinky at the softball field.. but alas, I still love 'em and I will continue to. I know most people don't understand why I feel so passionately about what I do. I just know that everyday I wake up, somedays beaten down and completely tired but I wake up with a peace, knowing that I am doing exactly what God made me for...and that is something that no tiredness, no frustration, no nothing could ever come close to being compared to.

Pray for my kids...they need it so very much. Today we had our second softball game, they actually did pretty good hitting. We ended up losing but it was a close game. It was so awesome to see their smiles when they would make it to first base safely. They were as shocked as I was when they'd get a base hit! And as I would see Alesha or Lanier or Yakira smiling their huge grins because they got on base, I would think to myself...I wish your parents could see you now! And yet it makes me glad that at least Breakthrough is there. Wow, how amazing is Breakthrough? Just think about that...I got to see Lanier hit the ball for the first time EVER. I got to see Cheyenne strike her first person out. I got to see Jameisha catch her first fly ball and Alesha score her first run. Those are memories I will carry with me forever...I just wish that their familes could see them too.

Lovin life. Lovin these little rugrats. Lovin my job. Its nice to be able to say that, no matter how frustrated you are. God is good and I know that these kids are gonna see that...I know they gonna have a better future because God has put them in situations where they can see Christ in the flesh. And, ya know...thats pretty cool.

God bless you all!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Two Villages

Here is a Video from "Breakthrough Stories"...I saw it on Arloa's blog a few days ago and it gave me chills...just reaffirms what i'm doing here!

God bless you all!

Monday, June 2, 2008


I have made it no secret that I am a fan of Barak Obama. I am not too political, yet this year I have really studied and read about Obama, Clinton, and McCain. I have recently picked up Obama's book-the Audacity of Hope. This book is a political one, less about his childhood life (like his first book-Dreams of my Father).

The content of his chapters range from values and politics to faith and race. Here is an excerpt of his chapter, Race, in which really struck a cord with me:

A man talking to Obama says this about the westside of Chicago (where I live):
"See these kids out here, they just don't care. Police don't scare 'em , jail doesn't scare 'em-more than half f the young guys out here already got a record. If the police pick up ten guys standing on the corner, another ten'll take their place in an hour. That's the thing that's changed...the attitude of these kids. You can't blame them, really, because most of them have nothing at home. Their mothers can't tell them nothing-a lot of these women are still children themselves. Father's in jail. Nobody around to guide the kids, keep them in school, teach them respect. So these boys just raise themselves, basically on the streets. That's all they know. The gang, that's their family. They don't see any jobs out here except the drug trade. Don't get me wrong, we've still got a lot of good families around here...not a lot of money necessarily, but doing their best to keep their kids out of trouble. But they're just too outnumbered. The longer they stay, the more they feel their kids are at risk. So the minute they get a chance, they move out. And that just leaves things worse. "

Obama goes on to talk about stories (teenage rap sheets, teachers dealing with students threats and obscenities, etc.) and then he says this...:

"There was a time, of course, when such deep intergenerational poverty could still shock a nation...Not anymore. Today the images of the so called underclass are ubiquitous, a permanent fixture in American popular culture-in film and TV, where they're the foil of choice for the forces of law and order; in rap music and videos, where the gansta life is glorified and mimicked by white and black teenagers alike; and on the nightly news, where the depredation to be found in the inner city always makes for good copy. Rather than evoke our sympathy, our familiarity with the lives of the black poor has bred spasm of fear and outright contempt. But mostly it's bred indifference. Black men filling our prisions, black children unable to read or caught in gangland shooting, the black homeless sleeping on grates and in the parks of our nation's capital-we take these things for granted, as part of the natural order, a tragic situation, or perhaps, but not one for which we are culpable, and certainly not something subject to change..."

I could write on and on about what he said in response to this...and maybe I will in latter posts. He has some great ideas on how to bring folks out of poverty. But as I read this book, I sit and realize what Mr. Obama is really about. He is about change...he is about hope. I pray that if he becomes our next president, he does change our country...for the good. I know he is very liberal in a lot of his beliefs...yet I also know that Obama desires a lot of changes that America is in dire need of.

I hope that I haven't offended any hard core conservatives that are Obama haters. If you have an opinion or question...send it my way, I'd love to hear why you are or aren't supporting him.

God bless you all!

(BTW, my feelings or political choices do not in any way represent the feelings/political choice of my