Mayor Cory Booker at Trinity Reformed Church

Cory Booker and his whole entourage came to our church yesterday to have “open office hours’.  It was quite the ordeal.  A few hours before he was to arrive, tons of police brought dogs throughout our church to make sure there were no bombs in it, two major news channels stationed themselves in front of our house and the place was brimming with people dressed in business suits. 

 

Cory Booker is truly a phenomenal man.  For five hours straight he met with people individually to listen to their cares and concerns…whether it being frustrated that rumble strips had been placed on her street, or concern over recent shootings, or drunk men coming in to ask for a job, or old ladies asking for kisses, he graciously listened and truly problem solved with his team afterwards (except for the kissing request…) The good thing about being the pastor and pastor’s wife is, Danny and I got to be their for the debrief, hence the picture

 

We are truly blessed that such a God-fearing and dynamic leader has been placed in authority over our city.  I truly believe that God is working a work of restoration here and He’s using little ministries like Safe Haven, and powerful positions such as the Mayor’s and his team to bring about that change.  

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Mommy in the middle

This is the part of my blog where i wrestle…i really wrestle with the balance of being a wife and mother and being in ministry. If anyone out there has struck up a good balance PLEASE give me pointers!

 

Today was a forced day off…my mind, my body, my emotions just stopped working.  I couldn’t push myself any more, folding laundry was painful, I dreaded having to talk to anyone but my family, and i prayed fervently that the woman who was suppose to come over to get help on her resume would forget our appointment.(She did!-one advantage of working with the poor 🙂 Danny and I ignored the door, we stayed in our pajamas all day, and we watched the Office, read books, talked, and took a nap.  I took advantage of this day to think about some question that have been nagging in the back of my mind for months.  Am i forsaking my first calling of being wife and mother because there is ALWAYS something going on here? Am I taking on more than I can handle? Isn’t there some way to slow things down? If I JUST focus on my kids, then what about ALL the kids I know who need someone in their lives? What about hospitality? Am I involved in all these things because I want to be superwoman and have bragging rights to how busy I am? Am I trying to find my identity in the list of things that I do?  Are my kids going to grow up feeling like Mom was too busy saving the world? What is my role that God wants me to be focusing on? 

 

While the kids were napping today, I looked up a bunch of verses about women and their roles in the new testament:

1 Corinthians 11:7

A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.

So I am the glory of man and i was created for him. (MY man, Danny) How do i be the helpmate I was created to be?  Is it by taking on just as many responsibilities as Danny so that more aspects of the ministry are covered? It seems to me that that is trying to BE a man…be the housewife AND the worker (not breadwinner because we’re in ministry not in the workforce) 

1 Timothy 2:9-15

I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.

 A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.

It struck me today, that I, as a woman, am to be clothed with good deeds that are appropriate for women. so there are good deeds that are good for men to do and good deeds that are good for women to do…the passage goes on to explain that teaching or having authority is NOT in the category of appropriate good deeds for women (i secretly think this is because we are more emotional and we are control freaks) but a VERY important good deed for women, in fact it supposedly saves us, is childbearing and living in faith, love and holiness.

Titus 2:3-5

Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

I’ve kind of been asking God for a specific job description and it doesn’t get much more clear than this. But at the same time, what about all the needy people around me? What about the kids that come over constantly because they want to experience a home life that doesn’t include zombies in front of blaring televisions and fighting or abuse. What about the hundreds of kids I know who don’t have moms who love their husbands (because they don’t have them) and who don’t love and care for their children in their home? What about the food pantry at our church that greatly needs someone to pursue food grants and needs an organized system, or the after-school program that needs someone to teach the Bible lessons, or the big fundraiser that needs a director, or the teenage guys that need food, or one of our boys who needs baby-sitting so he doesn’t sleep and talk on the phone all day and the list could go on and on…how does a person balance it all, how does a mom surrounded by dire need, still stay focused on her home, her husband, and her kids? I don’t really have any answers. I don’t have any profound conclusion. Maybe I am just looking for a formula or a set of rules, when all i need is a Person.  A Person who will walk with me through each decision, each opportunity to help, and each time I have to say “no”. A Person who wants me to hope in Him and not in a job description.  A Person who actually already has everything taken care of, and in His grace lets me be a part of it.  A Person who is in charge, so that I don’t have to be. 

My crazy life…

Sometimes peoples ask what a typical day is like for me, and the fact of the matter is that there is NO typical day…there is always a new adventure, and new joy, a new sorrow, a new crisis…. Because i can’t really write out what a typical day is, I’ll just “news flash” you with the past week’s worth of events….

 

Monday,is our day off, but still a lot of people are in and out of our house (both those that live with us and those that dont).. neighborhood girls stop by while I’m cooking dinner and have a “stomp/dance” that they’ve practiced for me.  I sit on the couch as the perform it, and I take great delight in A) their creativity and B) their desire to perform it for me.  I whip out my old school Out of Eden C.D and we all have a major dance party as i finish cooking dinner and setting the table.  VERY fun time…the boys who were in and out of our house thought we were crazy…. 🙂

 

Tuesday, I feed Safe Haven staff lunch and we have our prayer and planning meeting.  One guy, Rod, usually joins us (even though he’s not on staff) and he’s loaded with questions about his friends making fun of him because he’s not smoking weed with them any more. We dive into a long conversation about the cost of following Christ and persecution. We have a great prayer time afterwards.

 

In the afternoon a dad came to get his kid from the youth center and he steals memory cards out of the game system, a few pencils from the cabinet, and one of our lightbulbs that was IN USE from the ceiling…all this was caught on video…we have deemed him “world’s most pointless thief” (except for the memory cards).  No wonder these kids are struggling.

 

Wednesday, a woman stops by who I’ve been counseling and praying with.  She needs prayer again so we spend the next 30 minutes before the  Lord.  The Spirit led us through times of worship, intercession, silence, and tears.  She came out of the prayer time really feeling like the Lord spoke to her heart and that God was setting her free little by little (she was locked in closets and abused and stuff as a kid)

 

I set out for my bi-monthly big grocery venture.  Takes a LONG time to load up on everything, i’m late for another meeting with another woman who needs lots of help. After stuffing frozen items in the freezer, and leaving all the other groceries strewn over my kitchen floor, i race upstairs to nurse Trinity, before i go run to the woman’s house…while nursing Trinity I’m thinking “ALL I WANT TO DO IS BE A MOMMY…NOTHING ELSE!” 

 

Get back from prayer with her, to start dinner for the crew.  Four girls show up and want to help cook dinner.  I have a little kitchen, but still they all ended up helping…We had 15 people around the dinner table that night…good thing i went grocery shopping!

 

Thursday–  shuffle the kids out the door by 9am to go meet another pastors wife for prayer…REALLY hard to stay focused and keep my eyes open during prayer…Lord give me strength!

 

In the afternoon I have my middle school girls over for Bible study..a JOY and delight…these girls are like a breath of fresh air to me….Bible study spills into having them help cook (they love it!) and then having them stay for dinner…we need a longer table and more chairs…rolly chairs from the office have to suffice.  Dinner’s got to be quick and early because the boys have their FutureMan Bible study at 7:00 (I have assumed the role of Bible study time-nazi and bark out orders to eat faster so that they can all make it over to the church in time…I think we all have indigestion on Thursdays)

 

Friday-try to get housework done but also appease my son who is always dying to play “bah” (ball) outside in the gorgeous weather (i don’t blame him).  Friday afternoon, a fight breaks out outside my kitchen (ear piercing screams will quickly bring your attention drama in the streets).  Evidently a guy was beating his kids on the bus and another guy punched him for doing so (as soon as they got to the bus stop, which happens to be my “front yard”).  This makes the abusive father even more angry and they start beating each other outside my window…someone breaks it up but then the STILL angry abusive father grabs a glass bottle off the street and starts to chase the other guy in an attempt to bash it over his head…cops eventually come…the guy who was actually trying to defend the little girls who were getting hit gets arrested and probably the abusive father continues to beat his children. I HATE SIN.

 

Feed guys dinner.  Go to Crossover, our weekly youth event.  Come home to put kids to bed and go back over for tail end of Bible study. 

 

Saturday– Danny and I take Trinity with us as we go to visit the homes of the kids in our after school program..(DJ stayed home and took a nap).  I tell yah, walking through the projects is a boost of self esteem because we’re like celebrities to the kids…they all come running 🙂 I was hanging out in the courtyard of the projects while Danny was inside talking to kid who had stolen an ipod from one of our teens. I was walking around praying when all of a sudden a big fight breaks out….between a kindergardener (we’ll call him Freddie) and a first grader (we’ll call her Christy) !  All the other kids found this to be a great opportunity to all get a whack at Freddie.  There was biting, pinching, punching, and dogpiles involved.  Freddie was hyperventilating, he was so mad…*here i would like to interject that Freddie has been kicked out of Sunday School. He would show up without his mom and was ABSOLUTELY out of control.  When I was pregnant with Trinity I thought I was going to go into labor because i would have to physically remove him from my Sunday School room with him kicking and struggling the whole time.  I only did that once though…i realized that my unborn baby was more important than struggling with this kid- next time I recruited a strong male to physically remove him.  Anyways when we brought him home to speak with his mother about him needing an adult with him rather than the  10 yr. old who would bring him, we  found her high as a kite. we didn’t get very far in our talk with her. but it DID explain alot about his situation.   back to the fight.  So I jump into the middle of the fight to embrace  Freddie, not roughly but in a hug -the rough thing just doesn’t work- and spoke softly to him that it was going to be ok….Its weird how my first reaction was to comfort him as if he had fallen, instead of bitten a girls arm and gone crazy at anyone who got in his way.  He stayed in my arms and cuddled with me for a good 10 minutes as i talked to him and prayed with him.  I wondered when the last time he was hugged.  He was calmed down and I sent him on his way, but as I was leaving I turned around to see him flick off the girls, then the girls crowd around him to yell at him, and then hear him rattled out a string of expletives to them which made my ears burn…I managed to convince the girls to ignore him but then had to go. My heart breaks for Freddie…his mom isn’t a mom to him-she’s too busy getting high, and in the meantime every girl in the projects thinks that they can boss him around, hit him, and curse at him to try to do what he’s suppose to (because his mom isn’t around to do so), which makes him even more rebellious and out of control.   Its a vicious cycle and only unconditional love is going to break it. 

 

Sunday– wake up early, plan children’s church, usher my kids over to church to be watched, while i run to the project to pick up some kids, I play mommy to both my kids and all the kids without an adult with them during the worship time, we have childrens church and one of my girls (who is diabetic) gets low blood sugar and i run around trying to contact her mom and feed her juice and lunch, while trying to keep my class in order. After church we feed all the kids, then load them all up for a special pajama give -away at another ministry sight, get back around 5:00.  Take MY kids home (they are in-tow for all of this) feed them dinner and then get ready to go on a date with Danny.  Aaahh…sweet time with my husband. but even then we run in to people who we know…we talk to them and pray with them…and they think its cute that we’re on a date…I convince Danny to stay in the parked car with me JUST a little longer to delay going home where I know a ton of guys will be hanging out…

 

eventually go home knowing that tomorrow is a work day because our day off has to be postponed for all the NEW and different things that will be happening this week (aka, Mayor Cory Booker coming)

Welcome back Aunt Betsy!

My sister has been in Prague for the past 8 months and she just got back this past week.  We were so fortunate to be the first ones to welcome her back to America. Daniel Josiah and Trinity sported their “Welcome back” and “We missed you” crowns at the airport, which provided some entertainment for the other people waiting for their parties. Daniel Josiah LOVES having another playmate (and roommate for that matter).  She has been such a help with all the different activity that goes on, and she provides a safe person to leave the kids with which frees me up to be a little more involved in ministry and get other things done.  We’ve been trying to convince her to get a job here in Newark and live with us for the summer (at this point our philosophy is the more the merrier).  

Raising two-year olds and teenagers…

Its a good thing God doesn’t let us see the future…If, when i was a carefree sophomore in college, I knew that within 5 years I would be trying to raise teenagers, I would have buried myself in a hole…or moved to Siberia….or continued to wear outfits like i was in the picture and try to land myself in a psych ward before the teenagers managed to do so.  BUT, God doesn’t let us see the future AND He gives us new mercies EACH morning.  such was a morning just two days ago..waking with such a heaviness on my heart and questions like “how do we get THROUGH to these boys???”, “How to we love and show grace, but at the same time show that actions (or lack of actions) have consequences?” After wrestling in the Word, and wrestling in prayer, I just continued on in my day as I let God bear these burdens with me (Psalm 68:19).  I saw God answer my prayer for wisdom later that day when i got to sit down with one of the guys who was giving us problems.  We talk about his God given gifts, the ways the enemy lies to us, the way that David was faithful in the little things which prepared him to defeat Goliath and become king, we had a long prayer time…and it really seemed like it was making sense to him….

 

Today I spent my precious “nap time hours” (when both kids are asleep) packing up all his stuff and moving it outside. 

 

Today I had to say goodbye to a kid, who for a year and a half I have poured in to, cooked for, gotten angry at, asked forgiveness of, fallen in love with, prayed for, shared with, tutored, given rides to, made up birthday surprises for, cried out to God for, encouraged, disciplined, and all of those things that a parent ends up doing for a kid. 

 

Today I got teary eyed as my two-year old exclaimed with excitement as he saw his “buddy” coming home…but for the last time.  

 

Today I had to discipline in a way that probably hurts me more than it hurt him.

 

Today I had to trust that God has other means of reaching this kid, trust that seeds planted over the past  year and a half WILL bear fruit, eventually, trust that God would use this discipline to make this kid into the MAN God wants him to be.

 

Today we kicked one of our boys out of our house.

 

To truly love, is to open yourself up to true hurt.

 

Jesus loved us to the point of death, hurting all the way, because we are obstinate and sinful.

 

Danny and I have chosen to love this kid, to the point of hurting ourselves…because he has been obstinate and sinful

 

Right now we are clinging to the promises of Hebrews 12:7-11

 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

When Daniel Josiah opened our back door, walked out of our house today all by himself, I spanked him for it.  I wasn’t about to risk it happening again-its too dangerous, too risky -it could lead to injury, to kidnapping, to death.  I love him to much to let him continue in an action that could lead to such dire consequences, an action that is not under the umbrella of my protection.  Danny and I love this teenage boy too much to let him continue in foolish actions that will bring dire consequences, actions that are not under the umbrella of God’s Biblical protection.  To discipline this way is not pleasant at the time, but we are praying, crying out to God, that it WILL produce a harvest of righteousness and peace for this young man. 

Meet the boys

So, these boys have really become in integral part of our family and I thought I might as well include them in our family photos. 

 

Brian and Gabe.  Brian lives with us and Gabe is friends with everybody who lives with us. Brian has a hidden musical talent that we see unearthed at times, and he is one of Daniel Josiah’s best friends. He’s a “pork chop” (portugese kid) from the neighborhood. 

 

Vernard lives with us and is a teen employee of Safe Haven.  He’s wicked at DDR (he practices enough!) but also has talent at video producing and editing (one day, i’ll put up some of his videos).  He has a great laugh, and when he gets around certain people he can make me laugh so hard that my stomach hurts. He’s also a MODEL kid to have live with you…he’s polite, and clean, and responsible, and HE DOES HIS CHORE ON TIME! 🙂 thats how you earn brownie points with me….

 

Kyle thinks he’s too cool for school….so we had him move in with us to see if a change of environment could remedy that falsity. Kyle also thinks he’s goth.  But we know he’s not. 🙂  He rocks at video games (his room is full of every one imaginable) but he also likes to think deeply…with a little apologetics training he would be a fireball for Jesus.  He’s also really really sweet with our kids.  He and DJ are buds.  

 

 

Anthony is our honorary member of the family.  He comes over every afternoon to hang out, eat dinner, and just be part of the family.  His mom was one of the first people in the neighborhood to come to know the Lord through the ministry of Danny’s Grandfather.  Through her, the whole family came to Christ, plus many neighbors.  She died suddenly a year and a half ago and Anthony now lives in a rented room in an apartment around the corner (his stepdad pays for it).  God’s got great purposes for this young kid, but its really really hard to lose your mama (i know!)

 

Ahhh, Dele.  Dele THINKS he lives with us.  I probably see him at our house more than some of the people that actually live there. But he’s also more like a like in nanny.  He is SUPER helpful with the kids, with kitchen stuff, with anything.  He and I have long kitchen talks- I cook and wash dishes (we have no dishwasher) and we talk about his past, his family, his aspirations for the future, and we get a good laugh out of quite a few tangents in between, all while his 6’8” body is perched on my back steps. 

 

 

 

Nori is Dele’s brother (through adoption).  Nori is one of those wonderfully sanctifying people in your life. But his also grown ALOT since we first met him.  I have faith that he’s going to become a great leader and use his hyperactivity for God’s glory some day.