Monday, August 31, 2009

All good things musst come to an end...

One week ago today, I moved from Chicago back to Arkansas. I have been debating on whether to end this blog or not, and decided since I created it with the sole purpose of blogging on my adventures working and living in Chicago that it is time for me to end it.

Leaving Chicago, my kids and friends up there was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. I have already started missing my beautiful kids, its hard not to when you have spent most of your time the past two years with them. I wish I had the words to let people know just how I'm feeling right now, but I don't think I could explain them and if they would actually do it justice.

I have started the new job search, very ready to start a routine again, I hate the sitting around doing nothing. I am praying that not only does God open doors at another urban ministry for me to work in, that it is also a permanent place, one where I can stay for a long time and really build relationships with the kids. I also pray that its alot closer than Chicago! :)

I hope you have enjoyed my blogs for the past two years. Iwant to start a new blog and continue writing once I start a new job or whatever...we'll see.

One last picture from is most of the 6th grade group I worked with this past school year...I love these crazy kids...thanks for two great...and challenging :)....years!

God bless you all!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

So I'm actually typing this as I'm riding in the car headed to Arkansas. I know, the beauty of technology! Or maybe the sadness of it all...being so connected to the world at all times!

Sitting here or as I like to say it, setting here...driving back to the place I grew up, its just all very surreal. Almost like it shouldn't be happening. Of course I shed some tears today, especially when I saw tears falling from my kids eyes but also saying goodbye to my good friend and coworker Robin.

The drive is always the worst. You begin to think of all the shoulda coulda wouldas and it just depresses you more. I wonder if I could have done things differently, I mean I know the impact I've had has been huge, I know that I am leaving a good "wake" and not a bad one but yet I still can't help but sit and wonder if I could have done more. Have I lived these last two years to the fullest? I hope so. I would like to believe so.

I know I'm leaving changed and I hope that in some ways, the kids have changed as well. I hope that I have done what God has called me to do these last two years.

I know that these next few days will be very hard for me...trying to find my way again, figuring out how to navigate the job search process and living in a place that will probably seem a little foreign to me at first.

I hope that it doesn't hit me all at once...I hope I can ease into it. I am nervous and worried and scared. Yet as I was talking to a friend of mine, she reminded me ever so gently that God is in control and to haved Faith that he will provide and be with me in this transition.

I am so thankful for these amazing women who are blessing me with an almost free ride to Arkansas. The laughter and good times we are already having could beat a u haul any day!

So as I am headed home, I am fully aware of my sadness but also the love I have felt these last few days. Surround me with love Jesus, it is exactly what I need!

Friday, August 28, 2009

My last night

Tonight is my very last night in Chicago. This week has been super crazy, trying to hang out with as many people as I can as well as start classes, pack, and finish up work. Like I said...CRAZY!

Last night I went to dinner with one of my favorite high schoolers. It was super cute cuz she was like, lets go to dinner, my treat! How can I say no to free food? lol I can't wait to see her in five, 10 years, I know God is going to do some great things in her life!
I went downtown today with my very good friend, Maria and had coffee at Intelligentsia. Such good coffee! Man, am I going to miss all the coffeeshops around here! I also sold my car today and even got to see a lot of my kids at the center and then of course, a couple had to come over and hang out at the house. :)
Anyways, what better way to spend the evening then take four of my favorite kids out to dinner? :) Yes, thats right I spent my last night hanging with the kids. Ha. Anyways, we all loaded up in the car and went to TGIFridays. The kids absolutely loved it. They are so great. One of them, definitely one of my top 3 or 4 favorite kids in this world said as the other girls told her to quiet down (she is super loud all the time!), she laughed and said, "i'm just happy...i'm out with Shasta!" That moment...right there. It just melted my heart. Tonight I am reminded that all I want to do in my life is exactly what I was doing right then. Building relationships. These kids, not just those four but all of them...they are the most amazing kids I've ever met.

The food was great, a couple of the girls were contemplating unbuttoning their pants they were so full lol. I advised them not to! Ha! But yeah, it was so wonderful just to spend one last night sharing my life with them.

Anyways, this week has been very hard. I wish I could describe how hard it is to know how sad some of the kids are that I am leaving. I can see it in their faces, hear it in the voices, and feel it by the way they act. Youth ministry is the most rewarding thing in the world but it is also the hardest thing in the world as well. There have been many times I have just wanted to scream from frustration (and sometimes I did!) but all the wonderful, life giving times I have had with them overshadow any frustration. I am so grateful and thankful that two years ago God opened the doors for me to come up here. I do not know where I would be today if not. I just know that God and Breakthrough has changed me so much through this experience.

Chicago will always be in my heart. These kids, my coworkers and friends...they will always be in my heart. As I move forward, I can promise you there will be many tears, I'm sure I will be a little depressed at first, but I will also treasure the moments and times I've had and move on, knowing that God is NOT done with me yet!

Chicago, Breakthrough, everyone I've come into contact with these past two years...I love you and will never forget you.

God bless you all!

Monday, August 24, 2009

I feel as though life is moving at this really fast pace and I can't really keep up. People keep asking me, what are you going to do when you move? Where will you live? Job? ect ect. All valid questions, yet all questions I really have no answer to. I know that in just five short days, I will be moving. I know that there is a sadness around me that I can't completely put my finger on and I know that my heart will ache for the kids and people here that have become like second family to me. I have started to pack although I have less than what the normal person has. I guess that comes from being a serial mover. I feel like I'm always moving. I just want to settle. One of the biggest desires in my life is to find a place that is permanent. I'm sick of all this moving around.

Denver was great. I barely thought about the future, mainly just relaxed and ate lots and lots of food. :) Yet, I came back to an empty desk and questions that I have no answers for. Am I ready to leave? I am in a way because I am sick of being in this transitional space. I also long to wrap my arms around my two beautiful nieces and knock my twin bro in the head a couple times. But, I am not ready to leave my kids here. Not ready to say goodbye knowing that they do not understand any of this; knowing that the relationships I've built with them were all too short.

So I sit in the dark, wondering why I feel so...uneasy. So...confused and restless. I know that God has called me back to Arkansas for a reason. I know this. I know that I am so excited to be close to my family and Jeremy. Yet, there is so much unknowns.

And I will wait. I will try and make it through these next 4 days. Making the most of every opportunity, yet pulling away so that the tears don't fall as readily as I know my heart wants them to. Tommorrow night I have a small going away party so I can say goodbye to the children who have stolen my heart. Oh how I pray that it isn't a big emotional rollercoaster but instead it will be a moment of closure.

I hold onto to the fact that God calls me to a bigger purpose. That instead of sacrifces and "works" he calls me to "Do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly." I hold onto the fact that He is at work in my life and He will open doors and lead me to another, wonderful place.

God. You are my rock and my only sanity during this time. May I lean on you when I feel so helpless.

God bless you all.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

My Favorites

One of my favorite things about living in the city is the many, many restaurants and things to do. Chicago has thousands and thousands of restaurants, cafes, bars...etc. After living here for two years, I have found many different places that I love. Many of which aren't necessarily the "touristy" places to go.

So, if any of you ever go to Chicago and want some great places to are my favorites:

Best place to get dessert: Letizia's Natural Bakery

Best coffee shop: (tie) Mercury Cafe' and Buzz Cafe' (River Forest)

Best breakfast place: Sweet Maple Cafe'

Best pizza: Crust Resturant

Best beach: 12th Street Beach

Best book shop: Myopic Books

Best bar: Small Bar

Best Theater: Lake Theater (Oak Park)

Best Mexican Restaurant: Fuego Loco

Best Mall: Woodfield Mall

Best thing to do on a summer night: Chicago Outdoor Movie Festival in Grant Park

Best ice cream: Oberweiss Dairy

Best clothing store: H&M

Hope you enjoy these suggestions...God bless you all!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Camp 2009

Today I got back from Camp Timber-lee 2009. I can sum it up in one word...EXAUSTING. :)

It was tiring but also wonderful. I got to spend some quality time with some of my favorite people on earth. There were moments of frustration and fleeting thoughts of "get me out of here" but even more moments of laughter and smiles. From day one to the last day, I was forever thanking God for the opportunity for my kids to get a chance to spend a week away from their neighborhood and the distractions of the city. They are different out there... happier and free to be kids again and all of them love it! From being chased by llamas, and playing thousands of games of carpet ball, to saving drowning kittens and having "michael jackson" dancing parties in the cabin...this was definitely a year to remember.

Here are just a few of my favorite pictures and a video of one of the girls freaking out when we were in the paddle boats :)

Haha. I call her granny...this is my failed attempt at a "G"

Hmmm...what can I say that isn't already been said in this picture? These two girls are hiliarous.

Them after we saved the kitten...its hard to see it but we named her "River" (although it was a lake we were in...hmmm...)

Giving me the "eye"....her attempt at being evil...she doesn't have an evil bone in her body, truly one of the sweetest, most amazing kids I've ever had the pleasure of knowing!

Ahh...and this picture is for you mom...this snake kept wrapping around my made me a little nervous but I loved it! :)

Although I'm exhausted, I know that camp is a real blessing and that so many kids never get the opportunity to go. I hope, though, that the real message of camp, that God loves them and is always with them is the most important thing they take with them!

God bless you all!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Reality of it all...

Here's what kids have to deal with in our neighborhood. We had a couple teenagers and a 5 yr old and 8 yr old at our house tonight (they are practically over here very night though!). Around 7 pm , the 5 yr old looks up at her big cousin, Ashley, and says...take me to the store, I wanna buy some candy. Ashley says no but the 5 yr old continues to beg. Finally Ashley looks at me and says "Shasta tell 'em we don't go to the store over there, people be shootin."

Yep. Thats the life of a 5yr old in my neighborhood. It's 7 pm, sorry you can't go to the candy store cuz you might get shot. Of course, I looked at Ashley said, I WILL NOT. And smiled at the young girl and told her, we don't go to the store once its almost dark, its too late for little kids to be out. She seemed satisfied with that and ran off playing; almost oblivious to the injustice of it all.

Next time you take your kid to the store, remember, there are plenty of kids out there that can't go because its not safe. Count your blessings and praise God that you live in a place that you don't have to worry about your children. And pray for safety and God-willed restoration for communities living in fear and despair.

God bless you all!