20 Reasons I love my neighborhood-How to be a missionary right where you live.

WHY do I live where I live?

Because I’m lazy.

Too lazy to load up five kids in to the van and tote them over to a church service project.  Too lazy to get up on a Saturday morning and head down to the soup kitchen to serve a meal.  Too lazy to try to juggle babysitting schedules so I can go into the neighborhood school to volunteer to read to kids.

I’m far to lazy to do all those things, so if I’m going to be light to those people who need the Light of the World the most, if I’m going to feed the hungry, if I’m going to broaden and educate struggling students.

Then I have to live among them.

Right smack dab in the middle of the glorious chaos…

By doing life with them, it leads us all to the Giver of Life.

And then how do you be a “missionary”-on a mission to make the power and salvation of Jesus known to all people?

Start having fun.

By living life with them.

Embrace every chaotic moment of the kids in and out of the door. Wrangle those kids from the Legos, to have reading time (Jesus Storybook Bible, always first choice!).  Bake cookies, and get real messy doing it.

Love, love, love every smiling little face.  Listen, listen, listen to every heart poured out. Serve, serve, serve with a strength not your own. Pray often, pray hard, pray now.

THIS is how the mission of making Jesus’ power known is lived out.

It is only HIS POWER IN you that can give you the love, the listening, and the serving.

“Christ in you, hope of glory.”

Christ in you, hope of GOING.

Christ in you, hope of GIVING.

Christ in you hope of GROWING.

For it is in the going (the living amongst, for those of us who are lazy), and the giving, and the constant need for glory (in you! how else are you going to put up with all the messes without losing it?!?), that the growing happens.  And then it becomes not so much about them needing the Gospel, but us needing Jesus.

Jesus Christ.

Christ in you, hope of glory.

And if these reasons don’t spill forth glory,

well, then, maybe you and I have different ideas as to what glory is.

Twenty Reasons I love my Neighborhood

#1. Impromptu neighborhood feasts

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#2. The way that once a few kids get wind of it, many more join

The way that once a few kids get wind of it, many more join

The way that once a few kids get wind of it, many more join

#3. I get to watch Jesus multiply food.  Turning water into…more soup.

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More guests? Just add more water, and a pack of frozen veggies

#4.  Every physical meal served, gathers kids and neighbors long enough for a spiritual one too, (BEFORE we eat!)

Impromptu neighborhood feasts

Danny reads the Word and then has the kids answer questions about it… all while my soup gets cold (but its worth it)

#5.  The “Little Gang”

They run around like they own the street.

They run around like they own the street.

#6. I’m forced  get to do arts and crafts, because the kids come in demanding it

Adrianna LOVES cutting up bits of paper to make collages out of..

Adrianna LOVES cutting up bits of paper to make collages out of..

#7. The comraderie of kids forces you into the lives of the parents…

If their kid is at your house, you end up talking, becoming friends, and even start going to church together...Janki and Adrianna

If their kid is at your house, you end up talking, becoming friends, and even start going to church together…Janki and Adrianna

#8. Resulting in beautiful friendships

My new and wonderful friend, Supreena and me, after church one Sunday

My new and wonderful friend, Supreena and me, after church one Sunday

#9. That blossom and deepen in your home entryway….

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Many heart-to-hearts, exhortations, prayers have occurred in this little entry way, when a parent comes looking for their kid..

10. Tea Parties in the street

Who needs a lush field?! The pavement in front of the broken down car will do just fine for a picnic!

Who needs a lush field?! The pavement in front of the broken down car will do just fine for a picnic!

#11. The older kids look out for the younger ones

Cray is Benjamins unofficial "guardian" if a car is ever coming down our street

Cray is Benjamins unofficial “guardian” if a car is ever coming down our street

12. Absolutely.self.explanatory.

That gorgeous grin grabs your heart and won't let go.

That gorgeous grin grabs your heart and won’t let go.

13. The kids love playing outside together.

I love me som' dirty kids (if its because they've been playing "camping out" for the past 2 1/2 hours.

I love me som’ dirty kids (if its because they’ve been playing “camping out” for the past 2 1/2 hours.

14. Trick or Treating buddies are easy to come by

Our "buddy" system on Oct. 31 so we didn't leave behind any keep-begging-for-more-candy stragglers

Our “buddy” system on Oct. 31 so we didn’t leave behind any keep-begging-for-more-candy stragglers

15. “Politeness Points” incentive works better with the neighborhood kids

For some reason, Jamar is really good at earning politeness points at the dinner table and everyone wants to keep up with him.

For some reason, Jamar is really good at earning politeness points at the dinner table and everyone wants to keep up with him.

16.  Baking Parties!!!

Everyone's favorite thing to do!

Everyone’s favorite thing to do!

17.Hilarious SONGS about baking parties!

18. I have a lot of little “mothers” running around now

And the Lord knows I NEED some mothering help!!

And the Lord knows I NEED some mothering help!!

19. Basketball games on the fly happen very frequently!

They are ALWAYS up for a basketball game! And who knew?! Basketball games cure mother's headaches at 4pm better than chocolate and another cup of coffee

They are ALWAYS up for a basketball game! And who knew?! Basketball games cure mother’s headaches and energize weary bodies at 4pm…even better than chocolate and another cup of coffee

20. We are seeing lives transformed by Jesus.

Prayer time for one of our friends.

Prayer time for one of our friends, during Wednesday night Bible study

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I’m praying for you; A Letter to Our Child.

You’re Daddy made this video for me, on our fifth anniversary. I pray you will be in the pictures when he makes one for me for our tenth.

My precious child,
I’ve been praying for you. I don’t know what you will look like. I don’t know what skin color you’ll have. I don’t know what family history you will come from. I don’t even know if you’ve been conceived yet. But I’ve been praying for you.
Darling, the Lord started putting you on my heart five years ago now, shortly before your big sister’s first birthday.  That’s when I first started praying for you. Your daddy and I decided we would start looking for you. But then God put Katy-Grace in Mommy’s belly, and told us to wait. And then a year an a half later, we thought we were suppose to start looking for you again, we recruited prayer warriors, and God put another big brother for you inside Mommy, and He told us to wait.  Then your Daddy went to seminary and we didn’t make enough money to start looking for you, and God told us to wait (and in the meantime you acquired a third older brother…lucky you!).
Yes, we’ve waited and prayed and waited and prayed.  And cheered and helped others on as they ran after their own sweet children.
Now, though, now we’re coming for you. God has started opening the doors, and all that praying, and all that waiting, its like a pent up flood ready to rush towards you. And now, because of all that waiting, you’ve got five older siblings, that wouldn’t have otherwise been there,all  so incredibly excited to welcome you into the family, to love on you, enjoy you, and teach you “all they know.”
Sweetheart, I love you, not because God put you in my womb, but  because He put you in my heart, and I’ve been pregnant with you for these five years passed.
And some brave mamma out there is going to choose to allow you to grow in her belly, unlike so many of her peers.  I’ve witnessed firsthand in Newark how scary and daunting and selfless that decision is for those brave few who don’t opt for the “easy” way out. That’s why I’ve been praying for you, for that womb, for that young woman, for her life lived which led to your conception.   And I’ve been praying for that brave decision she will make. Too many of your peers have been wiped out, destroyed for their lack of convenience, silenced before they’ve been given a chance to cry out. A wise man once said, “Do for one, what you wish you could do for all.” I can’t save all those babes, but I have been praying for, and preparing for, and planning for one…for you.
I’ve been praying…and now I’m coming, sweet pea…Coming into that woman’s life, coming into yours.  We’ve got a mountain to climb, to get to you…stacks of papers to fill out, numerous appointments and meetings to make, and thousands of dollars to raise.  And while I pray for you, and survey the mountain needing climbing, I think of the One who prays and intercedes for me…and for you….and for your birth mother continually…THAT praying One climbed a mountain far bigger than a homestudy and the cost of adoption.  That One climbed Calvary, climbed right up on that cross, and descended down the other side into hell.  All that He might adopt me. and you. and the millions of His enemies  that were sought after, sacrificed for, and loved into becoming the Father’s children. Beloved children.
I’m praying for you, to the One who is praying for me, the One who is propelling us towards you. And one day, your Daddy and I are going to hold you in our arms, and we’ll get a picture.
And we’ll frame that picture, frame it in Hannah’s words spoken thousands of years ago because she herself prayed long and hard for a much-waited-for child.

For this child I prayed, and the LORD has granted me my petition that I made to him. Therefore I have lent him to the LORD. As long as he lives, he is lent to the LORD.”  I Samuel 1:27

And our prayers will continue for you…that you will be lent to the Lord, your Maker.  The One who sets the lonely in families.
The One who sets you in our family.
For HE and I have been praying for you.

“…but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens.”  Hebrews 7:24-26

“Sing to God, sing praise to his name, extol him who rides on the clouds- his name is the Lord- and rejoice before him.  A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families, he leads forth the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.”  Psalm 68: 4-6

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.” Proverbs 31:8

Would you like to join us in this adventure? Or rather, would you like to join God in His adventurous business of setting the lonely in families? You can partake of this communion with God in the following ways:

~subscribe to this blog to receive updates on the adoption process

~commit to being a prayer warrior for this endeavor

~start the adoption process yourselves

-sign up to become a foster parent

~fulfill the call to care for the orphan, by financially giving towards those in your life who are opening their homes to babes and children needing families.

 

From the Mouths of Babes….with short memories

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I’m so glad kids have short memories…

The day after this failure, the girls were climbing into bed and Trinity said,

Mommy, you’re the best mommy in the world.

and Katy-Grace was quick to follow up with,

Yeah, Even though you sin, we STILL love you.

unmerited grace from these little ones,

refreshes a mamma’s spirit.

The Only Way to Get Past Your Past

I yelled at my kids today.

ALOT.

Don’t get me started on how I felt justified in it, and if they would just actually OBEY then it wouldn’t drive me to that point, or how Danny’s been out of town, so I’ve been single parenting five, make that 8 kids if you count the neighborhood kids that have moved in this week, and then this week, of all weeks when Danny’s not here,  major neighborhood drama has happened and I’ve been in the middle of it helping sort it all out….no, I don’t need to make excuses.

I need to make apologies.

And along with all the yelling over their disobedience today, I did yelled an encouraging word  (notice thats a singular there ).

One that spoke

RIGHT BACK AT ME….

Trying to snag a few moments to exercise, and salvage my sanity, I dragged  all the kids over to the school track to play while I attempted to run laps…and run off frustration.

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My oldest, all blonde locks and gangly legs wants to race me….

given a generous head start, I sprinted after him, and nearly caught up to him because he kept turning back to look and see where I was.

I yelled up to him

“DON’T LOOK BACK! IT WILL ONLY SLOW YOU DOWN!”

Don’t look back.

It will only slow you down.

“Don’t look back, running mamma, it will only slow you down.”

Because many a time, I catch myself about to hug or tickle or speak an affirming word, and that voice in my head says

“You don’t deserve to do that….you were just yelling at them 20 minutes ago.”

or

“You, hypocrite. They’ll never believe you love them, you’ve only been beastly to them today.”

and at these times,

I can’t look back.

for it will only slow me down.

So I cling to the promises, and I claim them in my day.

Because I have a marathon to run with children.  Today’s sprint might have been a stumbling, and I may have tripped and fallen in anger and frustration.  But there are many miles ahead.

So, I’ll keep my eyes on where I’m going, and let these guideposts show me where I’m headed.

Above all, love each other deeply, for love covers a multitude of sins. 

I Peter 4:8

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.  

Philippians 3:12-14

 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

I John 1:9

 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things,endures all things.

 Love never ends.

I Corinthians 13:4-8

I have a Savior that ran this race perfectly.  A Savior who took the punishment for all my stumblings.  A Savior that rose again from the death that my sin brought. A Savior who went to the Father, that His Spirit might come to me.  A Savior who says,

Don’t look back.

I already took care of it.

It will only slow you down.

How to be where Jesus is….

Note:  I posted this a week ago, then the Lord burdened my heart with this passage and I took it down. Today our family participated in Elder’s Prayer and when they were praying for me I felt released to repost it. Isaiah 58:1 flooded my mind, along with Proverbs 31:8

“Cry aloud; do not hold back; lift up your voice like a trumpet…” (Isaiah 58:1)

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.

Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” (Proverbs 31:8)

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I eagerly drove off…. it had been a long two days, helping a friend with a yard sale, juggling five kids, trying to put my home back in order after the rush of the week and the un-tended to chores that had piled up during the rush, and also the  planning for the open house we’re having next week as a testimony of God’s faithfulness to provide our needs in light of the mold crisis  loomed over my head. The kids were in bed, Danny was hanging out with a friend at home, and I was going to get my coveted alone time-catch up on emails, write, and read.  So I swing by the local QT gas station to grab a cup of coffee, and the minute I pulled up, I knew this wasn’t going to be a quick trip.

I saw her, bare legged, pulling herself around in the wheelchair, talking, or at least trying to talk to anyone who walked by. “I’ll buy her a sandwich and pray with her, and then I’ll be on my way”  I think.  I get out of my car into the cold night air and she wheels towards me and shouts a cheerful “Good Morning!”  (It was 9 pm) I tell her “Thank you, but its actually night right now.”  I go to open the door for her and then I realized….it wasn’t just her legs that were bare, it was her waste down that was.  “Um, are you going in here? ” I ask, “because you don’t have any pants on”.  She stops her chatter about car batteries, and pestering landlords, and cans of whip cream and says “Oh, I have shorts on….” and she looks down and then quickly covers herself with her jacket.

My mind starts working on how I can get some pants that will fit her, while she wheels herself over to chatter to the next QT customer, not asking for money, but not talking sense either.  She seemed busy talking to everyone in the store so I got my coffee and went to leave but as I hopped back in the car, I heard some men, who seemed like they were familiar with seeing her around, talking about how she came out with no pants on this time. I got back out of my car after the “how involved do I get” pause, and went up to them and asked what they knew about her.

A resident of the Extended Stay (the government pays them to house homeless and mentally ill people) right behind the QT gas station.  Crazy.  Comes down to the QT a lot. I told them I was going to go get her some pants, and the one smoking the cigarette nodded a knowing look…”that’s really kind of you ma’m”.

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“Well, even if she’s crazy, she’s still made in the image of God and deserves to have dignity.  I’m gonna go help her claim some back.”

I hopped into the car, and ran over to my neighbor’s house and explained the situation, and she supplied some sweatpants and a sweatshirt for her. and I ran back to the QT,clothing in hand.  Ironically, my QT (Quiet Time) was trickling the drain, but somehow I felt closer to Jesus doing what He does than if I had been just reading about what He does.   I wasn’t studying Him,  I was infilled with Him.  And I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else .   On my short drive back and forth to QT this story kept running through my mind.

Mark 5:1-20

They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes.[a] And when Jesus[b] had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit. He lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones. And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him. And crying out with a loud voice, he said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.” For he was saying to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” And Jesus asked him,“What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion, for we are many.” 10 And he begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. 11 Now a great herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, 12 and they begged him, saying, “Send us to the pigs; let us enter them.” 13 So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the pigs; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the sea.

14 The herdsmen fled and told it in the city and in the country. And people came to see what it was that had happened. 15 And they came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed[c]man, the one who had had the legion, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. 16 And those who had seen it described to them what had happened to the demon-possessed man and to the pigs. 17 And they began to beg Jesus[d] to depart from their region. 18 As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. 19 And he did not permit him but said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” 20 And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled.

That crazy lady, the one that it is easier to laugh at or ignore or try to “chain” with our modern version of restraint-various prescriptions of pills (which I saw all strewn about her little motel room when I brought her back home later), that crazy lady is human flesh, still with the imprint of God on her. Made in His image. Still worth the precious blood of Jesus which He willingly shed so that screwed up people like her, and me, could be saved to know Him.  She was still capable of being emptied of all demonic forces that sent her mind, and body, reeling around in a fantasy world.  She was still capable of being clothed and in her right mind.  That demoniac who lived among the tombs, he was worth Jesus’ time.  And if so, this crazy lady was worth mine.

Forty five minutes later, after a round-about time of try to get her to put pants on in the public restroom (and me ending up putting them on for her), and the QT staff asking me to push her back up to her room in the Extended Stay or else they would have to call the cops to come get her to take her back, and me praying over her and us, as I pushed her amongst her modern day “tombs”, rows of rooms housing other down and out, unwanted people in society, and finding her room door wide open, with trash, clothes, shoes, food and boxes streaming out of it onto the sidewalk and street,  then finding those useless chains that she, just like the demoniac, always broke free from, those chains that never could restrain her either.  Those empty bottles of pills…there must have been twenty of them all strewn around her disaster of a room, they were her “shackles broken in pieces. None had the strength to subdue her. ” And I prayed over her, and I spoke the dignity of the Creator of the Universe over her, and I claimed the precious blood of Jesus shed for her to set her free, to clean her out, starting on the inside so that the Holy One could live within her, and as I prayed and poured out my heart to the Father, she did a funny thing, an honoring thing,

she started bending over,

right there in her wheelchair.

She bent over in a way she couldn’t (or wouldn’t) when we were trying to get her pants on.  My heart cries trailed off….”Patricia, what are you doing?”

“Oh, I”m just bowing while you pray….”.

And when I was finished praying, her back wasn’t healed, she wasn’t ready to enter regular society, and everything she said didn’t make sense quite yet but there was something in her eyes…like a little eager girl.

And I looked into those eager eyes, and said “Patricia, God loves you, He really loves you.”

And she took my hand, all cold from the night air, and started patting her face with it.

“Yes!  He does.  I know.  He loves all the little children.  Amen!”

And I told her I would come back.  And bring her a Bible. And in my heart I coveted a Sprinter, so that I could load her up the next morning, her and all her neighbors in that Extended Stay, and bring them all to church with me.

But in the meantime, I strolled back to my car, under the night sky, singing boldly and loudly,

‘Jesus loves the little children. All the children of the world.

Red, and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world.

Jesus died for all His children, all His children of the world.

Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world. “

And the others, loitering around that Extended Stay probably thought I had caught some of her crazies.

But I had really caught Jesus.

And when I came around the corner to my car, that man with the cigarette was there again. And he said, “what you did tonight was really good. Most people laugh at me ‘cuz I’m homeless, and they make fun of her because she’s crazy. But what you did was really nice. Thank you. ”

And I told him, what I had been thinking in my heart.

“It wasn’t me, sir.  It was Jesus, He lives, you know. He lives in His people.  It’s all Him that does stuff like this. All Him”

And I found where Jesus is.

He’s IN us.  As we move AMONG them.

the crazies.

the outcasts.

the homeless.

the ones that don’t have it all together,

and know it.

He always shows up in those places.

And if we make ourselves available to Him,

we

will

too.