Monday, November 30, 2009

Never Doubt in the Dark What You Know in the Light

Last night at One Church, we had a really special time of connecting with Jesus. There were different stations set up around the sanctuary designed to help you reflect, worship, and connect. It was just what I needed after a particularly, um, exciting day at Metro Kidz. A day which may or may not have included a 17-year old boy, quite literally, flipping out and requiring physical restraint. Leaving me alone to corral/control 29 other youth who were excited (to say the least) about the prospect of a grand fight/flip out. Whew, I'm tired just remembering it. (Remind me to help out in Metro KIDZ and not youth next time. I can handle getting hit in the gut by a 5 year old. A 15 year old? Not so much.)

Ok, clearly I got a little side-tracked there. What I wanted to tell you about was something that God showed me last night during our worship time. Because it reminded me of something Adam and I had been talking about with some of our kiddos earlier this week, and usually when God hits me over the head multiple times with the same lesson, I finally start to get it.

From our pastor last night:
One of the reasons we light candles is so that we can see in the dark. Darkness hides what is real and gives power to the things we cannot see. It enslaves us to our fears. It allows us to hide and keep ourselves from being really seen for who we are. One of the first things said about Jesus in the book of John is that he is the Light of the world. He gives light to those in darkness and helps us to see what is true. He casts out our fear. Some of the people we love are still living in the darkness of their fears, shame, hopelessness, and rebellion. They need to know Jesus so they can be free to live in the light of His love. They need to be rescued from darkness and led to freedom. 

The unfortunate truth about the inner-city is that, in many ways, it remains cloaked in darkness. So often it seems that Satan wins the battle for the city as darkness, fear, shame, hopelessness, and rebellion run rampant throughout the culture and communities we work in. Not to say that everyone is evil, or the city itself is hopeless or bad; but there are far too few people shining light into the dark places. And that's why drugs, gangs, violence, abuse, sexual exploitation etc continues to be a daily part of a decidedly DARK life for most of the kids we work with.

Just the other day, I was talking to a little boy who lives downtown, and I asked if he liked his new apartment. He shrugged, so I prodded him a little and asked what it's like where he lives. He looked at me with his sweet little face and big sad brown eyes and just said one word: mean. My heart broke for this precious child of God being forced to live in darkness when He has light and freedom to offer all of his children.

When we were dropping this same little boy off at his apartment later that evening, Adam got out of the car to let him in and Zack (who was the only other kid left in the car) looked at me and said "oh un-uh, I'm not staying out here - it's too scary and dark!" (I agreed and we all walked the little boy in together.) My point (and I DO have one for once) is that bad stuff happens in the dark. Adam and I were talking on our drive home about how often the difference between the worst neighborhoods downtown and the ones that are ok is simply the lighting. Those apartment complexes that are well-lit are much less likely to have shady characters hiding out, and carrying out who-knows-what.

But Christ is LIGHT and in Him is NO darkness at all. And that's why He has called us to be a "light on a hill." People who shine Light and Truth into the darkest, meanest, scariest places. People who are willing to remember that those things we know to be true in the light are also true in the dark.

When I'm at home in my warm bed, it's easy for me to understand and believe that God is GOOD and that He will provide for me and protect me. But when I'm standing downtown in the midst of the darkness, that Truth is not so easy to remember and believe. . . But it's STILL TRUE.

I challenge you today to think about those people you know who are living in darkness, in fear, covered in lies and shame (and who knows, maybe it's you - I know I've been there before!). Pray for that person today, and do what you can to shine the LIGHT of Christ's Truth!

"Even the darkness will not be dark to you;
       the night will shine like the day,
       for darkness is as light to you.
" -Psalm 139:12

"He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him."  -Daniel 2:22

"The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it." John 1:5

"When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." -John 8:12

"You are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark" -Romans 2:19

"You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness." -1 Thes 5:5

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Photo Challenge: We Heart Tooshies

First of all, I don't even want to know what kind of ads my google-thing is going to pull up for this post . . .

This week at I Heart Faces, they've decided to focus on, well, a different part of the body. That's right, this week the challenge is to share a picture of tooshies rather than faces.

Adam suggested I share one of his bottom, but I thought I'd spare you all the mental scarring and keep things family-friendly around here.

So instead, here's one with a few of my favorite kids' tooshies from our visit to camp this weekend.They love the horses. Until the miniature horse, Lord Kearney, got loose. Then we  they were running for their lives.

Head over to I Heart Faces, I'm sure there will be lots of creative entries this week!

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Day After Thanksgiving

There are many reasons I love the day after Thanksgiving; shopping, however, is not one of them. A few years ago my sisters, Adam, and I went to the outlet mall at midnight. What could be more fun? I'll tell you what, large quantities of laundry and vacuuming - and y'all know how I hate to clean. But seriously, it was miserable. The lines were out the door, and I'm pretty positive that 2 hours of waiting in line does not make saving a few bucks worth it. Besides, they have this new thing called the INTERNET, and I prefer to do my Christmas shopping from the safety of my couch. With Diet Coke and a movie. Amen.

I do, however, love the day after Thanksgiving for a few different reasons. Namely, leftovers. Particularly sweet potatoes and stuffing. Oh and pumpkin pie. And turkey sandwiches. Who am I kidding, I love it all. And can I tell you what else I love? Having a pastry-chef for a sister. She's at home for Thanksgiving and today she made me some pumpkin brownies. Pumpkin brownies, people.

I also love that the day after Thanksgiving involves picking out a Christmas tree and decorating it. Because Christmas time, in my humble opinion, is truly the most wonderful time of the year. I love everything about it. This year, my sister even decided to give her boyfriend his Christmas present early, so we could enjoy it together for the entire month of December (Wii with the new Super Mario Brothers game). Hash (her boyfriend) might or might not have uttered the words "You must be joking me! This is the best present ever! What girlfriend gives her boyfriend video games?! This is amazing!" It was sweet. And yes, he's somewhere around the age of 22 or so, but it was still sweet. (Ok enough hazing the boyfriend on the blog, poor guy isn't even a part of the family).

Anyways, it was a fun day except that poor little Jayce-face has a bad cold and she's slightly miserable. And when she's not happy, she makes certain that no one is happy. Nevertheless, she did manage to bust out a few smiles for the camera today. Good thing she's so stinkin' cute, or I would have been seriously mad that she wouldn't let me sit down to enjoy my second Thanksgiving dinner.

Who, me? Like I would ever be fussy and ruin a perfectly good Thanksgiving meal.

This is her "silly face" - I love it.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A List of Thankfulness

Can I just tell you how much I have to be thankful for this year? Because it's a lot.

And because I'm lazy and lists are easier than organizing coherent sentences, I present to you a thankful list for your reading pleasure.

1. I'm thankful for my husband, who is an amazing dad, love, and an even better friend. And my baby, who's not really so much of a baby any more. She brings SO much joy to our lives and I love her beyond what I even thought possible!
2. I'm thankful for our families, for how they support what we're doing downtown and are behind us 100% as the Lord leads us, even when it's to some uncertain and scary places. Not to mention how often they willingly let us pawn Jayci off on them so we can gallivant around and do ministry downtown.

3. Speaking of gallivanting around downtown, I'm thankful for the ticket Adam got for turning right on red, on the very same corner where we are offered drugs on a daily basis . . . Priorities cops, priorities (note the sarcasm on this one).

4. I'm thankful for the kids downtown and how much they teach me - about myself, about Jesus and about justice. Which reminds that I'm thankful for the home I grew up in, and that I wasn't born into the poverty, violence and lack of opportunity that the kids downtown have to face.

5. I'm thankful for my wonderful friends, the community we are a part of. I have another post coming about this soon. Try and contain your excitement please.

6. I'm thankful for FOOD: the reason Thanksgiving is one of my very favorite holidays. Which reminds me, two years ago on Thanksgiving Adam ate so much food that he was forced to lay on the bathroom floor (naked, or so I hear - thankfully I didn't witness it) until he threw up. And then he came down for some pumpkin pie. That's my boy.

Speaking of food, I'm also thankful for the toffee that my mother-in-law is making right this minute. My mouth may or may not be watering while I type this.

6. I'm thankful for good movies. We saw The Blind Side last night and  LOVED it. I'm hoping it will change some attitudes and lives in service to the kids we work with downtown. I'm telling you, the movie could have been about any one of our kiddos! And Sandra Bullock? Stellar performance. She reminded me of my friend Melissa the whole time.

7. But most of all, I'm thankful for a Savior who loves me regardless of how much of a mess I am, who teaches me new things about love and forgiveness daily and who has blessed me with a life that is abundantly more than anything I could have asked for or imagined.

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Timely Reminder

I can't disclose details on here, in case there are prying eyes (hi Emma and Sarah), but I was making some Christmas gifts tonight, while Adam watched Blood Diamond on TV. For those of you who haven't seen the movie, it's about the civil war in Sierra Leone, focusing on conflict diamonds. It really is a heart-breaking move, and at times painful to watch. However, there's one scene that made me put down my work while tears welled up in my eyes. And no, it's not just because I'm an overly emotional person (although that probably had something to do with it).

The tears came when Solomon Vandy speaks to his son (Dia), who has been captured by rebel forces and forced to do terrible things (drugs, murder, and even turns on his own father and calls him a traitor). When Solomon and Danny (Leonardo DiCaprio) finally find the diamond they've been searching for, they turn around to discover Dia pointing a gun at their heads.

Listen to what Solomon says:
Dia, What are you doing? Dia! Look at me, look at me. What are you doing? You are Dia Vendy, of the proud Mende tribe. You are a good boy who loves soccer and school. Your mother loves you so much. She waits by the fire making plantains, and red palm oil stew with your sister N'Yanda and the new baby. The cows wait for you. And Babu, the wild dog who minds no one but you. I know they made you do bad things, but you are not a bad boy. I am your father who loves you. And you will come home with me and be my son again. 

Oh my word. What a beautiful picture of what God does for me! He knows every intimate detail of my life, every little piece of me. And even while I am still sinning, my heavenly Father looks me in the eyes, and reminds me time and time again who I am, that He is my FATHER and He LOVES me.

Don't we all need reminding sometimes? We get caught up in the world around us, believing that we are someone we're not. Believing that our worth is determined by how much stuff we have. By how great our job is, or how many people admire us. By how many friends we have, or how cute our hair looks.

And I'm not writing this because I think you need reminding nearly as much as I do. Because I desperately need my heavenly Father to be the ONLY one I am looking to for my identity. I am so easily swayed by the world's opinion of me, by Satan's lies about me. But the TRUTH that has, and will continue to, set me free remains that I am a child of a Father who loves me deeply. And even when I do bad things, I am NOT beyond redemption; rather, I am loved and cherished by a Father who knows me intimately, who knows every detail of my life, including what I've done and who I've been. And even knowing all that, He still tells me that I can come and be His daughter and that He loves me deeply.

In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.
-Eph 1:5-8

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Do you like my flare?

A little sun flare from the pictures I took at the pumpkin patch forever ago. It's probably time for me to take some new pictures. . . . but this is all I have for you this morning . . .

As always, hop over to I Heart Faces to see more flare shots! I love sun flare so I'm excited to see all the entries this week!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Today I Will be Happier Than a Bird with a French Fry

Because yesterday? I was an emotional mess, blubbering like a baby most of the day. I dont even know why. Ok, maybe I do. Hormones.

But today, I am determined it is going to be a better day!

Anyways, I dont have much to say today. My brain is still feeling a little 'blubbery' from all the crying yesterday. So here's a few pictures I've taken lately for friends/family. Enjoy!


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Mid-Week Weekend Update

I waited until Wednesday to give y'all a little weekend update, because that's how on top of things I am.

As per usual, this weekend was nothing short of crazy-busy.

Friday night we took the boys to a Thrashers game(that's the Atlanta hockey team for those of you who don't know . . . ) Just a word of wisdom, hockey arenas are a little cold, I think it might have to do with the, you know, ICE they play on. So I was freezing most of the game, but other than that it was a fun time, mostly because we won 7-0. And 4 of those 7 goals were scored within 5 minutes. And let me tell you, it was an exciting 5 minutes. Both boys lost their voice from screaming things like "boy stop" and "oh un-uh, not in our house" . . . I particularly liked the 7 goals because every time they scored, the thrasher heads on the ceiling would shoot fire from their mouths, warming me up momentarily.

Saturday we made the executive decision to stay home and clean. This decision was made based primarily on two factors: 1-We STILL hadn't unpacked from our Chicago road-trip a week ago, and 2-We had approximately 8 loads of clean cloths (wrinkly, but clean) in various states of un-folded-ness throughout the house. *Please note that we didn't actually accomplish all that much on Sat morning in the form of cleaning and folding, we mostly slept.

We then enjoyed a delightful meal at the Flying Biscuit before doing a little visiting kiddos/neighborhood scouting/driving around downtown. We're desperate to move I tell you. Anyone want to buy our beautiful house in the suburbs? I have great taste in decorating. Oh I kid, but seriously, anyone want it or know someone who wants it?

This brings us to Sunday (could I be more boring?) and the big fundraising banquet, involving my public speaking debut. Let's be honest, I literally didn't say a word. Nope, I just stood there and looked pretty. They did show this video(episode 3: Jump) about our lives (in which I talk a lot, and even make some snarky/sarcastic comments-funny how I can be myself on camera but not in front of a crowd). After the video, we interviewed the boys, so they could tell everyone about camp, hanging out with us, how cool we are, etc. **Please note that each boy put approximately 12 sugar packets in their sweet tea so they could be "hyped up" for their talk – that gave me plenty of confidence in what they were going to say . . .

Anyways, the boys did a great job sharing their hearts. I especially loved how they introduced themselves IDENTICALLY: “My name is _____. I live in downtown Atlanta. I love to play football. My favorite subject is math. I love spending time with Adam and Becca.” The banquet went really well, the kids taught the audience (all the big money makers remember) their camp cheers, including jumping around and criss-crossing your legs (which I still cant do right after 3 years of camp) .

Since this is getting ridiculously long (what else is new?) I will end by sharing the rest of our Sunday night after the banquet: We dropped 6 children off in various and sundry areas of Atlanta, went back and picked up Jayci, brought her home, put her back to bed, and literally crashed into our own beds. I mean does anyone else feel tired just reading this? And I don’t mean tired from boredom, although I realize that might also be true.

Monday, November 16, 2009

I Heart Faces: Autumn Beauty

I'm so busy it's a little ridiculous. I heard one time that ostriches bury their heads in the sand when they're frightened/attacked/overwhelmed. I dont know if that's true (and I'm way to lazy busy to google it and find out), but that's exactly what I feel like doing. Well, besides the whole head in the sand part. But I WOULD like to burrow under my covers for a few weeks to catch up on rest, and also to run away from the maddening busy-ness that is my life right now.

That said, I would LIKE to post a recap of my weekend (including the banquet with my public speaking debut . . . ) but that's just going to have to wait for a quieter day (which apparently may never come).

Instead, I'm going to waste my time rambling about how busy and tired I am. Wise decisions people, that's what has gotten me where I am.

But seriously, I just hopped on here to put up my I Heart Faces picture for the week. The theme is Autumn Beauty, and I managed to take this picture of my sweet cousin while we were in Michigan last week that I thought fit the theme just perfectly.

I'm sure there will be plenty of gorgeous entries over I Heart Faces this week. Not that I will have time to look at them. . .but you should.

*And don't forget to enter my giveaway for a $25 gift certificate to our Etsy shop. . .

Friday, November 13, 2009

A Giveaway . . .

I'm hosting a giveaway for our brand new Etsy shop! All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on the BG Doodles & Designs blog. So head to our Etsy shop and our blog for a chance to win a $25 gift certificate!

*Here's just a few of the products we have in our shop - visit for more!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Baby Steps

Jayci has been spending the last month or so learning how to walk (a milestone which I was super-excited about, and now I'm just bone-tired from chasing her everywhere, because why would you want to be strapped into a carseat/highchair/stroller when you can WALK!?) Anyhow, I've been watching her go from her first unsteady, shaky steps, to toddling all over the place. Granted, she still falls on her behind sometimes (a lot of times actually), but she is fearless and OH SO EXCITED about her progress. In many ways, her wobbly steps mirror our family's own spiritual steps.

People ask Adam and I all the time how we ended up in inner-city ministry. How did we get into full-time ministry is some of the worst parts of Atlanta? It seems like such a big leap. A scary jump to go from corporate America, or even from teaching, to serving as a full-time job. And it IS a scary jump; one that Adam and I never actually had to make. For us, our movement into ministry was more like a series of small steps. Of little obediences. We said "yes" to being a part of Camp Grace. And that was the first step. And then I said "yes" to serving after camp by volunteering downtown a few times a week.

And soon my passion for the kids grew, my time spent with them multiplied, and before I knew it I had left a full-time, well-paid job in corporate America so I could spend more time in the trenches, serving and loving the poor who live in our own city. I keep waiting for the shiny newness of working downtown in ministry to wear off, like the high from a retreat or mission trip. But it hasn’t. I look forward to every visit downtown with my kiddos, knowing that in them I encounter the Lord, who became the poor and hurting as He died on the cross. Never before has my faith felt as vibrant and real as it does when I am serving these kids.

I’ve never been to seminary or had any missionary training. I am insecure, I am flawed, and I have no idea what I’m doing half the time. And more often than not, I fall flat on my behind. But never before have I felt as sure of myself, sure that I am following Christ, as I do when I’m serving these kids.

And it's all because I was willing to let get of what I was holding onto (my house, my money, my job, my security etc) and take those first wobbly, baby steps towards serving downtown.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Belated Halloween Post

I need to apologize to y'all for taking so long to follow through with my "never-ending post" with promised halloween pictures/recap etc. I have noticed that my readership has dwindled a little, which I'm guessing is because of a lack of love and attention. Come to think of it, that's probably the same reason all our houseplants are dead too.

Anyhow, we arrived home from Dallas on Halloween afternoon, swung by and picked up Zack and Sabo, stopped at my parent's house to pick up Jayci, and went straight to Courtney and Ryan's for our annual halloween party/trick-or-treating etc. Oh and watching the GA/FL game. But we're not going to talk about that right now. It's too painful.

Unfortunately, it was a cold and rainy night. Even more unfortunately, that didn't seem to bother Zack and Sabo in the slightest. They were apparently just excited to be trick-or-treating at all (they cant go in their neighborhoods because it's not safe). I kept asking them if they wanted to go home, but nope. It might have had something to do with the UGA pillowcases they were carrying that were getting heavier and heavier with candy. Me? All I had were shoes that were getting wetter and wetter.

Here's our little ladybug with two Georgia football players. Let's be honest, they were a little ashamed of their performance in the game and had to console themselves with candy.
The little ladybug was a little tired, so she stayed home. You know the problem with only taking other people's kids trick-or-treating? No candy bags laying around to snoop out of. Not that I would ever do that.

**Side note: If anyone is in the Atlanta area and would like to come to Vision Atlanta's banquet, it's on Sunday November 15th. Tickets are $75 each and dinner is included. Some of the kiddos will be there, and a certain couple are featured speakers, sure to entertain you with their sparkling wit and incredible wisdom. Or not, but we ARE sharing our story (yikes!) . . . Send me an email (Becca1612 at hotmail dot com) if you want to come!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Just Cause She's Cute and I'm Lazy

Here's a quick pic of the Jayce-face. She has been amazingly good this trip. I mean napping anywhere and everywhere, sleeping through the night even while I type and Adam watches TV just inches away . . . what an angel! (I mean ask me tomorrow, but this minute? she looks like a sweet little angel)
This face right here? It has been her attitude for most of the trip. Seriously cute, and always happy. Well until you try to restrain her in her stroller/high chair/car seat/arms . . . then she is NOT so happy.

Monday, November 2, 2009

This is the Post that Never Ends . . .

Adam and I are in the midst of what we like to call "Epic Road Trip '09." We would make great weather announcers don't you think? I am writing this while sitting in front of a large movie theater TV room at my aunt and uncle's place. Not only that, but they also have a fireman's pole in their house. Could they be any cooler?

Tomorrow, we leave to go see my grandfather, more aunts, uncles, and cousins, in Michigan; before continuing on to Chicago for a mentoring conference and to enjoy some of my sweet sister's delicious goodies. Have I mentioned she is studying to be a pastry chef? Just look at some of her creations. I can feel myself gaining 5 pounds already (and it's totally worth it).
I am enjoying the time with my hubby and little one. But the fact that we left and drove through the night (because Jayci will sleep if we drive through the night right? Not so much) the day after we flew back from Dallas, has contributed to making me slightly exhausted.

But the truth is that God clearly has His hand all over our travels thus far. Not only by keeping us safe, but also because of how perfectly He ordained our trip, while preparing our hearts for it as well. Our trip to Dallas? Was a little bit (or a lot) out of my comfort zone. I mean, meeting someone online and going to their house? Especially if that someone calls themselves "hood mama"? Sketchy.

How did it happen? Well, I first read this post, and this one, and knew immediately that Melissa and I could be friends. And then I read this post, and this one, and realized that God had pointed our lives and our hearts in the exact same direction as theirs. And honestly? Adam and I were at a point where we were questioning what we were doing (just a little). Were/are we crazy thinking that God would be leading our family to live alongside the people we're serving? Even if those people live in a less-than-desirable neighborhood?

Thankfully, the Lord used Melissa and her sweet family (and Hannah) to encourage us deeply in our calling, in our ministry, and just in ourselves as a family pursuing the Lord's leading in our lives. Especially if that leading includes watching Top Chef, eating good Mexican food and large quantities of pizza, and having a household of craziness (which doesn't always = clean).

I just finished reading Melissa's post about our time there, and in my defense I DID take this one picture. And I would have taken more, but the kids were in their PJs still, and Melissa was insistent both times I tried to take out my camera that she wasn't camera ready (even though she has great hair and is just the cutest thing).
Regardless, her kids are just delightful and we enjoyed them immensely. Adam especially loved the opportunity to be a human jungle gym. Only after he made Sadie scrape her knees our first night there of course. Because we're all about making a good first impression.

**So it turns out this post is getting ridiculously long, so I will cover pt 2 (which includes halloween, UGA football, and Indiana . . . sounds exciting right?) tomorrow.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

I Heart Faces: Balloons

Every week I say: I am not going to enter I Heart Faces anymore. And every week, I do it anyways. I am not even a person of my word to my own self! I need to work on that one.

That said, here's my cute little one on her birthday, enjoying her balloons . . . she does love her a good balloon. And can you blame her really?

*Ps - this picture involves the skill of inference for detecting the balloons. See those strings? And the pointing finger? I'll let you draw your own conclusions . . .


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