Monday, August 30, 2010

I Heart Faces: Photojournalism

I know, I know, the beach theme was LAST week at I Heart Faces. But this week's theme is photojournalism, and they want entries that "Use an image (or images) to tell a story." And I love the story this one tells:
A story of fun, of sunshine, of beauty for ashes, of reconciliation, of love and family transcending racial boundaries . . . my sweet Jayci simply adores her Sabo. In fact, she even reminds us constantly "it's MY Sabo."

*And don't forget to head over for to hear lots of fun stories without reading a word! We all know you like pictures better than novels anyways, right?

Friday, August 27, 2010

But, for the love, WHY?

Over the past few weeks of living in my parents' basement, I have been thinking primarily about 2 things: 1-when and how we can find a house downtown to move into? and 2-how much I adore having a "cleaning lady." Amen.

No, but seriously, I really am so excited about moving downtown. Now all we need to do is find the perfect house. I realize "the perfect house" might be something that we will probably never find, particularly in the 'hood. But we DO want to be wise, strategic, and prayerful in deciding exactly which house we should be moving into. The thing about the neighborhood we feel called to is that it's a little hit or miss. One street might be just wonderful with a mixture of races and religions scattered throughout, manicured gardens, and kids playing outside. But the next street over? There are some serious dark alleys and abandoned houses and what-have-you. So wise is the word for us in deciding exactly which street to move onto.

Of course, many people clearly think we should not even be LOOKING at houses downtown, let alone moving down there with our little family, two year old daughter, small dog, and two friends. In fact, we're sort of getting used to, and maybe even enjoying, the "you be crazy" looks we get on a daily basis. Most people gently suggest living in the suburbs and commuting to do ministry. Or that maybe we should "consider another neighborhood." We also get a lot of questions, mostly this one: WHY?!?

In the interest of answering said question (I love to satisfy the masses, clearly), I thought I'd attempt to explain a little bit about why we're moving into the community with our kiddos. The truth is, though, that I cannot fully explain it because we feel like this move is a calling, much like missionaries are called to Africa or Iraq. We are simply called to Atlanta. And the decision to move INTO the hood was/is a multifaceted one that rests on a variety of factors. Our goal is to reweave the fabric of urban community by building upon existing neighborhood strength. We truly believe that when focused on a single neighborhood with the aim of community transformation, the effects can be dramatic (wording from FCS).

CCDA describes relocation this way: “Living the gospel means desiring for your neighbor and your neighbor’s family that which you desire for yourself and your family. Living the gospel means bettering the quality of other people’s lives spiritually, physically, socially, and emotionally as you better your own. Living the gospel means sharing in the suffering and pain of others.

When we look at the Bible and at the life of Jesus, we would describe our ministry as an incarnational ministry, following Christ's example to give up privilege to live among the poor. Want to read more about God's heart for the poor? Check out this list of Scripture verses to get you started. But be warned, it might transform your heart and life when you start to fully grasp it all!

We would love to have you join us in prayer and support for our move. We are still deciding and praying about where exactly we want to live, trying to find a balance between being close to our kiddos and keeping our family safe. Be praying for wisdom, boldness, and favor with the community.

Also, if you have questions about what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, how we are going to make it work etc . . . please please please feel free to call or email us anytime - we’d love to talk to you about it!

Go to the people
Live among them
Learn from them
Love them
Start with what they know
Build on what they have:
But of the best leaders When their task is done
The people will remark "We have done it ourselves."

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

10 signs the "Terrible 2's" are fast approaching

I can hardly believe that Jayci is almost two years old. Have I mentioned that before? She's growing up too fast. For realz.

But I can no longer deny the fact that she will be two in just a few short weeks. Why not? Because the signs couldn't be clearer. Yup, the terrible twos are obviously drawing closer every day.

(side note: not all of these are BAD things necessarily, but simply signs that my baby is almost a big two year old girl!)

1. Full-on tantrums, complete with laying on the ground and kicking her feet, are a daily hourly occurrence. The boys delighted in them while we were on vacation. Although at one point, Sabo pointed out to me (and I quote): "Becca, these time-outs aren't working. You're going to have to whup her like the black folks do."

2. The most-used word in her vocabulary? No.
3. Her response to everything (and I'm not even exaggerating people, not that I ever exaggerate) is "no, it's mine" or "it's my turn." As in: "it's mine turn walk Mav"; "it's mine thunder"; "it's mine boom boom" (the song: Boom Boom Pow); "it's mine Zack." Someone needs to teach the girl which things she can actually own and which things are more of public domain. But I'm not going to be the one to do it right now, because her response will probably be "it's mine public domain."

4. She flushed her toothbrush down the toilet.

5. She loves to talk on the phone. Especially to call daddy and tell him all about her day, including made-up stories. Here's the one she came up with yesterday: "poop on potty. i push. and flush." Hey, at least she has an imagination. And then after I told Adam I needed to clarify that she didn't ACTUALLY poop on the potty, she reached out for the phone insisting she needed to "cwarify."

6. Full sentences are the norm. All the time. Non-stop really. It's cute, and sweet and enjoyable, and pleasesomeonemakeitstopforjustaminutesoicanhavefivesecondsofquiet.
7. She is potty-training. Except only a little bit, because she would rather just make up stories of pooping on the potty than actually poop on the potty. However, she enjoys watching Elmo's Potty Time (ok, she enjoys watching anything on the tv, any time).

8. She can count to 20. So what if she usually skips 4, 5, and 6.

9. She starts preschool in less than a week! What? That's nuts. We're really excited about her preschool though, and even more excited because she got a scholarship. That little snippet of God's provision could not have come at a better time, money is tight right now (to say the least).

10. She is a drama queen, for realz. When I give her things, she says "oh thank you mommy, i love it." She was especially insistent in repeating this after I gave her the free cookie club cookie at Publix. The entire shopping trip she was exclaiming "I LOVE it." I'll be honest, I loved it too.

Monday, August 23, 2010

I Heart Faces: Beach Fun

I'm so excited that this week's theme is "beach fun" at I Heart Faces, seeing as we just came from the beach, it's perfect timing!

Here's Jayci-face enjoying the not-so-sunny weather on the beach. I love the contrast of the dark sky with her sun-lit hair . . .
portrait of child on the beach
For more beach fun, be sure to pop over to I Heart Faces.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Restorer of Streets with Dwellings

A little while back (ok, a LONG while back), I had the privilege of finally heading to one of the coolest ministries the Dream Center does in downtown Atlanta, called Princess Night. They minister to the prostitutes in Atlanta, giving them roses and prayer and love and truth, and a way out of the lifestyle many of them have been sucked into and trapped in. My friend Pat, who facilitates the ministry, asked me to take some pictures, which I eagerly promised to do. Little did I know that they would also expect me to take pictures through a van window, without showing faces, in the pitch black, without a flash, in the rain. Oh. Easy peasy. Or not. But y'all, I love the pictures I did get, even if there's nothing "technically" good about them. Because they somehow capture the beauty of the ministry in the midst of the grit and grime of the places these girls face every single night. But it's beautiful too, because even in the darkness there is light. And hope. And promise.

This passage from Isaiah has been one that the Lord gave to my heart long before I even understood what it meant or what He was leading me towards. I feel like I needed to share it with you here, and invite you to join with us in praying for and reaching out to the city of Atlanta. Because our God? He can repair the ancient walls and restore the streets with dwellings. And I personally believe that He will.

"Shout it aloud, do not hold back.
Raise your voice like a trumpet.

Declare to my people their rebellion
and to the house of Jacob their sins.
For day after day they seek me out; they seem eager to know my ways, as if they were a nation that does what is right and has not forsaken the commands of its God. They ask me for just decisions and seem eager for God to come near them.
'Why have we fasted,' they say, 'and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
and you have not noticed?'

"Yet on the day of your fasting,
you do as you please
and exploit all your workers.
Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,

and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
and expect your voice to be heard on high. Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
only a day for a man to humble himself?

Is it only for bowing one's head like a reed
and for lying on sackcloth and ashes?

Is that what you call a fast,

a day acceptable to the LORD ?

"Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice

and untie the cords of the yoke,

to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?

Is it not to share your food with the hungry

and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—

when you see the naked, to clothe him,

and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;

then your righteousness will go before you,

and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.

Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

"If you do away with the yoke of oppression,

with the pointing finger and malicious talk,

and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,

then your light will rise in the darkness,

and your night will become like the noonday.

The LORD will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land

and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,

like a spring whose waters never fail.

Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;

you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.
Isaiah 58:1-12

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Hello Bangs

The other day, I got tired of Jayci's hair constantly being in her eyes. For some reason, it all grows straight forward into her face. Nice, right? And putting it in a ponytail, pigtails etc is a constant battle and usually means me trying to do it while running after her around the house . . . Which is slightly disastrous because I am not that talented at hair styling of any sort (I can't braid for crying out loud) even when my subject is sitting still, let alone when she's running all over the place.

Anyways, I got tired of all this hair-related drama, and decided to cut Jayci some bangs. I know, right? Sounds like a terrible idea to me too, considering my lack of coordination, fashion, and hair-savvy. Luckily, one of our future house-mates is a hairdresser, so I figured she could fix it if I botched it too badly. However, I think it actually turned out quite cute; and even better, I can see her sweet little eyes all the time now!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Got to wear shades, or goggles, whichever.

At I Heart Faces, they're celebrating summer and recognizing the HOT weather we've been having with a theme of "Got to wear shades." Now, even I can recognize that what Jayci is wearing in this picture is not exactly shades, per-say. But it IS cute right?
Summer fun photography contest picture, baby in her gogglesFor lots of summery fun pictures, visit I Heart Faces. And heck, why not link up your own picture?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Beachy Sunshine

Several people asked me on this post what photography class I was taking. And since I love to give y'all what you ask for, here it is: It's called Rock Your Camera 201 - Beyond the Basics. It's through Clickin' Moms - an online photography forum (which I love). I'm really enjoying the class so far, and only wish I could have afforded to participate in the constructive feedback portion of the class too.

Anyways, this week's assignment was to shoot in the sun, capturing haze and halos. I love me some hazey sunshiney pictures, so I loved this assignment. Anyways, here's a few different shots of Jayci with the yummy light spilling through that golden blond hair. Just don't let the halo effect fool you, she is definitely not an angel!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Adventures and Misadventures in Palm Beach

I hate it when I wait too long to blog about something and then I can only vaguely remember what happened. I especially hate it when that event occurred less than a week ago. I'm far too young to be losing my memory like this, right? right?

I blame it on the fact that since we've been home from Florida (for less than a week remember) we have experienced multiple crises with some of our kiddos downtown, resulting in us driving an hour downtown multiple times everyday. Which, when you do the math, adds up to a whole lot of hours driving and a whole lot of exhaustion.

Anyways, we left for Florida at 5am last Sunday, and had a nice uneventful (but long) drive to Palm Beach Gardens. We were lucky enough to stay in Adam's grandparent's beautiful home, complete with a pool in the backyard. Obviously, the boys were over the moon because to them, a pool in the backyard = perfection.
They didn't even mind when we found this cute little snake in the pool. Which, quite honestly, shocked me since the frogs at camp consistently cause them to shriek like little girls.

During the week, we played lots of card games, swam, watched movies, swam some more, ate a lot of food, and then decided we needed an outing. So we took Jay and the boys to see the turtles at Loggerhead beach. And seriously, the little baby ones were so cute I wanted to steal one. But I didn't, don't worry, I'm a rule-follower to the core.

Jay was telling Zack: "C'mere Sack" To which Zack responded, "Man, she orders me." Which, bless her heart, is definitely true. But only because Zack did, in fact "c'mere." I tried to tell them that if they want her to stop bossing them around, they should stop doing what she says. But she apparently has them wrapped around her cute little finger.

Then we took the boys to the beach for their first-ever foray into the ocean. It really was an incredible moment for me to see them get in the water for the first (and in Sanchez's case ONLY) time. Sorry about the terrible group shot, they were excited and unwilling to follow my directions NOT to stand directly in front of each other.
Thankfully, they were quite adept at entertaining Jayci. Why else do you think we brought them along to the beach? Oh I kid.
Jayci even helped bury Sanchez completely with sand. Look at that proud/silly expression on Jay's face - I love it.
They enjoyed running (and falling) in the surf. But then, who doesn't, really?
There were also many of these: the dreaded I'm-almost-two-years-old-temper-tantrum. And the boys were just like older brothers, fully enjoying taunting and teasing her until she snapped and launched into a full-blown tantrum. Nice, thanks boys.
On the way home we stopped in Orlando to break bread with this lovely family - oh how we miss them! They should probably just come back to Atlanta and live in the hood with us. I mean, who wouldn't want to do that?
And they were kind enough to snap this big "family" picture for us. Unfortunately, I was too busy trying to get the "tough boys" to smile that I forgot to, you know, keep my own eyes open. Oh well.Obviously, I took more pictures than this (because I rarely do anything without overdoing it. Just ask the boys about my cinnamon rolls) but don't worry, I'll share more soon!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Family Vacation

I am sitting in a quiet house in Florida, Jayci is sleeping soundly in the big ol' closet, and I write this from a nice California-King sized bed. Oh how I love king-sized beds! It's nearly midnight, and Adam is with the boys on the beach. Yup, he's showing the three teenagers who have joined our family vacation this year the beach at night. I'm actually surprised they agreed to go, since he just finished showing them "Shark Week'' and scaring them away from ever wanting to actually get back in the ocean.

But I'm glad they went, because all those stars they'll see? You can't see them from their apartment complexes in downtown Atlanta. And the vast expanse of water, with waves crashing on the shore in a perfect combination of strength and peace? They've never experienced that before either. Nor have they ever felt the sand beneath and between their toes, stretching for miles in every direction.

So tonight, they are experiencing God in a whole new way. In a myriad of new ways actually. They will know Him as the God who numbered all those stars. Who knows them each by name, who put them in place. They will see Him as the God who holds that vast expanse of inky water in the palms of His mighty hand. The God who counts all the grains of sand on every single inch of the beach. The Creator who is all-powerful, and who made every thing they see, and yet still loves them intimately and wants to know them personally.

Even more than that, we are hoping that tonight, and this week, these boys will experience a God who is a kind and loving Father. A God who loves giving good gifts to His children. A God who sets the lonely in families. A God who desires the best for all of His children. A God who has accepted these boys into His family, as His beloved sons, just as surely as He accepted us and we have, in turn, accepted them.

"He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.

He determines the number of the stars
and calls them each by name.

Great is our Lord and mighty in power;
his understanding has no limit.
Psalm 147:3-5

I Heart Faces: Random Acts of Kindness

I am excited about this week's theme of "random acts of kindness" at I Heart Faces. I've explained for I Heart Faces before how excited I am to use my photography as another form of the ministry we do in inner city Atlanta. Most of the families we spend our time serving and working with wouldn't even begin to dream of getting their photos taken professionally. I love the chance to offer them a gift that is not only an extravagance to them, but that can also offer them a glimpse at just how precious their family really is. I think opening their eyes to the beauty of their children, their relationships and their roles as parents could really have a lasting impact on how they live their lives and the decisions they make.

Here's a few examples of pictures I've taken for families so far, I am excited for the opportunity to do more . . . And not only that, but to have the opportunity to share these families amazing stories and hearts with people who might have negative or stereotypical views of the people we work with. We are hoping to change that on both sides of the issue - both for the people being stereotyped and the people doing the stereotyping!

Visit I Heart Faces this week for more inspiring stories of how people are using their photography to make a difference!


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