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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Childhood Memories

What do you think of when you think about your childhood? There are so many memories I have, most good, a few bad. I can remember the many many times I went to Lori Beth's house for sleepovers. I remember playing softball in the mud and I remember playing "duck, duck, goose" with my preschool classmates. I also remember sad things, like my cousin dying of brain cancer or the many many arguments I got into with my friends. But there are so many more good memories than bad. I remember having parents who loved me (and still do of course) but I also remember having other people around me that loved me as well and set good examples for me to follow.

So yeah, what memories do you have from your childhood?

The reason I ask you this is because of what kind of childhood my kids are living. Yesterday, I was at the park helping with our soccer team. Standing there out of the corner of my eye, I see two men sitting in a white car (right across the street from the park). The reason I noticed them was cuz I had seen these two young girls walk by our field and then as they were walking by the white car, they stopped and were talking to the men in the white car. Not even a minute or two later, a police car pulls up and proceeds to get the men out of the car and search it. A few minutes later, they were arrested and taken away. The kids, of course, saw it happen. Not all of it but they definitely saw the men getting taken out of their car. And ya know, I have no clue why the cops even stopped. I do know that at the parks around where we live, people are always dealing drugs. So maybe they assumed they were and decided to stop and check it out. The point is, the kids saw it. So often, I hear one of my kids talking about how this park got closed cuz people were selling drugs or they know this drug dealer that stands on this corner or that drug dealer that stands on that corner. Yeah, thats their memories.

As we were driving home, a 4th grader and I were talking. We were talking about how someone has been trying to kidnap kids by their school. Pretty weird, but yeah, apparently the kids are on alert to not walk anywhere by themselves. Well, the boy started talking about how this kids momma got shot and how this other kid's bro got shot and all this stuff. And then he said, and i'm not kidding this is his own words: "i'm not walking anywhere by myself, i don't know why but i just have this feeling that someone is about to get shot by our school. i just know that their is going to be a drive-by anyday now and i dont want to die yet." A fourth grader! It brings tears to my eyes as I sit here and just think back about it. This is their childhood memories. I don't know about you, but it wasn't really a thought of mine that I may get shot when I get out of school. It wasn't really a thought of mine that if I went to the park, that someone might approach me and ask if I want to buy some drugs.

Their childhood is also filled with bad things at home. Some of my kids have lost family members to violence, others have parents in jail or on drugs. Some don't go in till way after dark because their parents work late and they have nothing to go home to. Yes, some have wonderful parents, but some, some have parents that just don't care. And some, some have no parents at all so they live with grandmas or aunties. This, this is their memories.

So yeah, thats their childhood. The stories that i've heard from my kids, the stuff that they have seen, it just breaks my heart. I remember my boss telling a story, he said he was driving the bus one day and they were at a stop sign and seen this one man getting beat by a mob of guys with bats and sticks. One of the kids looks up at him and said...I have never seen that before. My boss said, I hadn't either...but then again, I was 32 and he was only 8.

Wow. I wonder, I wonder if I'm really making a difference. I think back to camp, I think back to when I would see these beautiful children come to our camp and they would be so hard and so angry. And I just didn't get it. I didn't get it because I saw them in "my element" not theirs. Now, I live in their element and I get it. I understand why so many kids become so hard and so angry. I understand it because they live in a place of hopelessness. They live in a place filled with so much sin that they can't get away from it all. Drugs, violence, these are the NORMS around here.

I have been sent here for a reason. Sometimes, I forget this and wonder why in the heck am I here? Then I realize that there is hope. There is hope because of Jesus Christ. I think back to a verse in 2 Corinthians chapter 6, Paul writes ...known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything." We have hope. In this dry and desert land, we have hope. We have hope because we have nothing, yet posses everything. We are poor yet are making many rich. This world has nothing to offer us, but Jesus Christ has everything. He came that we may have life, and have it to the full. I came to the westside of Chicago to show these kids that there is a life that is full and really living. This life is dead. I came to show them that there is hope and that they can have a life, a full life.

I can't do this without Jesus. I can't live in this place and deal with the stuff I see on a daily basis without my Lord giving me strength and showing me that there is hope.

Childhood memories. Think about it. Think back to your life when you were just a kid. Think about what you were faced with. Is it the kind of crap kids in the inner-city deal with? I hope not. I'm not asking for much, yeah, I'd love for all of you to go and start tutoring or mentoring an under-privledged youth, but I know thats not everyone's heart. But I am asking for you to pray, to pray for me and Breakthrough. To pray for my beautiful and talented children. I am asking you to when you go to vote, think about education policies and gun control. I am asking you to try to get involved in helping others to see that there are a lot of people out there that are less fortunate than you just because of where they were born. I am asking you to be a person of action. A person who has a heart for justice. Jesus was. And I hope you are too...

God bless you all!

Monday, September 22, 2008

STL

Went to St. Louis this weekend and had a blast! Here's a pic of us at a coffee shop:



God bless you all!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

My 3rd...and last...apartment!

video

So here is my 3rd apartment and hopefully my last in Chicago...I live with Andrea and Valeri and so far, so good! It's 4 bdrms, 1 bath and has a huge back yard. Oh, and it's right down the street from my work! So, what do you think?

Friday, September 12, 2008

thoughts...

Soccer! It has started up again. Today was our first official practice. Oh and what a way to start! We had one child pee on herself, two others bloodied, and many more get in "fights." To top it all off, it drizzled/rained the entire time!

Program. Our first week has officially ended. And what a "HISTORIC" first week it was. It is our 8th year of the Nettie Bailey Student Achievement Program. And, this first week has been great. Of course, things are different...but i'm learning slowly that change can be a good thing.

Letting Go. Sometimes, we just can't. This is in particular to some of our 9th graders. One of whom has shown up everyday just to hang out and get help with her homework. She was in our program for 6 or 7 years, so I really just think she doesn't even know what to do without coming here anymore. I see her face as she walks in, she comes over to me...laughing and telling me something that happened at school...or walks over and says that high school is just too hard and she needs help with her algebra homework...and it always makes me look over at my co-workers and wink. Cuz, of course, I want her to grow up and become this woman that I know she is capable of becoming, but a part of me loves that she just can't let go yet...

Jesus. He's a pretty cool dude. I love that verse in Romans 8, for there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Sometimes I need that. When I mess up and I wonder, how could Jesus ever love someone like me, I'm reminded it's not by what I do but by his mercy and his grace that I am forgiven and loved. I look at my children and I want to reflect this to them by my actions, yet sometimes I just get irritated or annoyed and I just want to yell. Then two things come into my mind...proverbs 15:1: a gentle answer turns away wrath. and the other is...they were made in God's image, so when I look at them...I should see God's image in them...I should desire to see what God sees in them, not what I see. Jesus, gosh, his love for us incredible and unbelievable and I so desire to know him more and to "clothe myself" with Jesus so that all these children will see how awesome this Jesus is.

Moving. I never want to move again! We have officially moved in and the place looks great! I will get a video soon to show everyone. We are still trying to put our stove in, apparently we have the wrong "connector" for it, so we'll see what happens. I have loved it so far, my roommates are great, and I'm so blessed to be so close to work!

Hurricanes! YUCK! I have been trying to watch the news as much as possible, hoping that hurricane ike doesn't do near as much damage as all are predicting, but it looks like it's already getting pretty bad. I pray for the safety of those who decided to stay and for the homes of all that live in the main path of ike. Oh, and the gas hike kinda sucks, I mean we already have the highest gas prices in America...now it's going up even higher! Not cool...not cool at all

Finally. I'm done all. It's past my bedtime, and well, i'm running out of things to say. I will say that I love you all. Yes, I do. Oh, and Jesus loves you too...continue to pray! I'm so thankful for prayer warriors like you all who are always praying for me and for my kids!

God bless you all!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Legacy

Last night I went to the funeral of the father of one of my 14 year old girls at our program. Her dad had been fighting brain cancer for awhile so his passing away was a little bit expected. Although it was expected, this didn't make things any easier. My heart broke as I saw her mother break down a number of times and as I saw the young lady try to seem strong but you could tell it was tearing her up inside. She is very dear to me, we've been through a lot over the past year, and well, although I had never met her dad, I still cried as I seen the pain in her face and the sadness all around her.

It's funny how you start to think hard about things at the most random times. Like last night. As I sat there and listened to countless people talk about this man...it amazed me at the legacy he was leaving. They talked about how good a father and husband he was. About the godly man he had become and how when he was dying, he did not want anyone feeling sorry for him. And I found myself wishing that I had known him, I found myself questioning why when alot of my kids don't have "present" fathers or even fathers at all, how he could be taken away when he was such a good father to this young lady. I know God is just and he is merciful so it just makes me wonder, why things happen the way they do. I guess thats where faith and trust comes in. Trusting that God knows much better than me and having the faith to believe that all will work for his good. But it doesn't mean I don't hate it for her and hate death and sin. Cuz I sure do.

Anyways, back to my lesson I learned. I was thinking a lot about legacy. How these people talked about this man and how 3 things stuck out to me...he was a good father, a good husband, and a godly man. His wife, his daughters, his son, and his friends, this is what they will remember about him. And it made me think...what will my legacy be? Now, I don't think (or hope not) that I'll be dying anytime soon, but it does raise the question, if I were to die or when I die, how will people remember me? Will they remember me as a Godly person? A woman who lived for the Lord and not for the world? What will my legacy be?

Isn't this an interesting question? You look at your life, how you treat your friends, your parents, your co-workers, ect, and you think how am I treating them? How is my life being an impact on their lives? Isn't that what God calls us to do? Impact others for the glory of his kingdom?

I always ask the kids, how are you influencing others? Are you being a leader or a follower? Are you being a positive or negative influence? I ask them that but I never ask myself that? Am I influencing people in a positive or negative way? Not just my kids, but my co-workers...my friends...my family.

Anyways, just something to think about. I would love it if you could pray for this young lady and her family as she is going through a rough time. But yeah...what is your legacy? If you were to die right now (not trying to be morbid or anything) what would people remember about you? How would they describe you? Think about it...

God bless you all!!!