And the Children Came…

A Part II of Let the Children Come

“WHY am I doing this?!? Why did I think running a kids club by myself was a good idea?!?” I wonder as, 30 minutes before Kids Club is supposed to start, I am cleaning up INCHES of water in my bathroom due to the kids climbing on the sink to fill water balloons, bursting a pipe, and continuing to fill the balloons, with the bathroom filling with water far faster than any balloons are.  I was, once again, running behind on preparing for the afternoon (there’s never enough time to get done all that I want to) and instead of gathering the materials I needed for the lesson that day, I was sweeping those inches of water into a bucket, and very testily lecturing my kids about not climbing on the sink, and the need to come get mommy about the water spilling before INCHES of it have accumulated on the floor and under the sink.

My home is still recovering from having children rampaging through it, and I am now two weeks behind on household chores (except, of course, for the bathroom floor which got mopped up on Friday afternoon).

So, WHY did I do this?  Cram more into my schedule when I don’t feel like I’m even doing what I already have well?  Why did I collect more kids and more chaos when I really could have used those afternoon naptimes to do get stuff done, order my world better, or get a chance to exercise?

Well, this is my answer….

1. God led me to do it. I had every intention to spend the first two months settling in and tending to “setting up house and schedule” after we moved in. But one morning it came to me in my quiet time, that I should do a kids club, and all the lesson plan ideas started rushing over me. And my job is simply to be available and obey the promptings…even if they don’t make sense.

2. It was a building block. We now have a well established relationship with many of the neighborhood families  since I was banging on their door every day for the past week and a half. One Grandma even joined in the effort by making cupcakes to match the day’s lesson plan on Friday. We now have several people interested in our weekly Bible study in our home, and interested in going to church with us. (see below)

3. My children (plus Jamar) and I had the opportunity to partner together, plan, pray for and implement an event to reach out to neighborhood kids and families. These little disciples are learning intentional community in the process.

4. Saprina, my newfound friend and neighbor who has started going to church with us, and I got to build a friendship as she came over every day to help. (Can I just say that being friends with Saprina is so refreshing, she makes me feel like I’m back in Newark, with all those inner city women who have so much spunk and energy)

IMG_2373

NOT crazy about this picture, but Trinity captured it and its the only one I have of Saprina

5. I was humbled through it.

6.  Janki. And her story. Thursday we went around to knock on all the doors again to gather the kids, and Karishma had not been able to come any of the days thus far (her grandfather always cracked the door open and said “She sleep. She sleep.”  Hesitant to keep harassing them, I ventured to knock again.  This time Karishma opened the door and her grandparents willingly sent her along. After her young mother, Janki, got off of work, she came by and ended up hanging out for an hour after kids club was over.  She.has.a.remarkable.story. She came to Christ three years ago-out of Hinduism,and a whole bunch of other obstacles, (maybe one day I’ll get to share her story…)but hasn’t gotten plugged into a really good church.  She was very interested in going to church with us and joining our weekly Bible story.

Katy-Grace and Karishma playing dress-ups after kids club while the mommies talk

Katy-Grace and Karishma playing dress-ups after kids club while the mommies talk

7. Cray and his mom and brother. He, too, hadn’t answered the door all week, but on Friday Jamar went and banged on the door and they were actually home. His mother was wary of letting him come over but we got to talking about Danny being a pastor and she said “Ah, yawl go to church? Yah, I been needin to go to church.  I need to go wit yawl sometime”.  So there we go, yet another searching soul, on this kingdom-strategic street that I prayed for all those months.

8.  The heart-to-heart with my kids Friday night. in which I confessed my anger towards them for not listening well and being a distraction during the lesson.  The sin. The repentance. The reconciliation. The cycle. of it all, with the children, seeing all the ugliness in my heart spilling out, and the beauty of them realizing they’ve got it spilling out of theirs also.  And that we all need a Perfect Savior to cleanse it all. And change it all.  The responses and the softness of the kids toward the confession time, made all the rockiness of the previous hours worth it.

9.  The joy of watching kids delight in a hose and water balloons and hot summer sunshine.

IMG_2407 IMG_2409 IMG_2410 IMG_2405

10. Jamar and Armani (and my kids too) seeing Scripture tie together as something we were reading for family devotions that night referenced back to what we had learned about during kids club that day.  The lightbulbs that go off, are beautiful to witness.

Jamar and Armani are our part-time kids...joining us for a lot of our days or evenings

Jamar and Armani are our part-time kids…joining us for a lot of our days or evenings

11. Morgana. (yet another “motherless” child on our street…lives with her dad, but does have an awesome grandma who comes and stays with them when Dad is working) And her eagerness to help with the kids or help me in the kitchen.

Morgana and Jamar

Morgana and Jamar

12. I got to witness answered prayer.  Prayers for my neighbors and their kids. Prayers for divine appointments. Prayers for the kids to meet Jesus. Prayers for Jesus to show up and “do the heavy lifting”, even when I didn’t have my act together. THANK YOU to all those who prayed for the week!  I love getting to record how God keeps his promise- “Ask and it will be given”…

More "ebenezers" added to my prayer journal as to ways God provided and orchestrated events

More “ebenezers” added to my prayer journal as to ways God provided and orchestrated events

13. And since a picture is worth a thousand words…These are the rest of the reasons…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

**A HUGE shout-out to my friends, Amberly and Emily who volunteered to go shopping for me and collect craft supplies and all the snacks for the whole week.  They couldn’t come with their kids (they would have brought nine more kids between them) but they helped me out so much by collecting the supplies.

Little Ones, Do You Realize?

Dear Little Ones, my Daniel Josiah, Trinity, Katy-Grace, Benjamin and Little Malachi,

Today, on Father’s Day, do you realize what an incredible father you have?  You are among some of the most blessed children on earth to have a Daddy like you do.

Do you realize your Daddy is showing you what the faithfulness of the Heavenly Father is like? Because he faithfully keeps his word to have a Daddy date with you every Saturday, your are learning what it means to have promises kept.  He faithfully gets up to fix you “Daddy’s special breakfast” of cheesy eggs, grits, fruit, and juice and sometimes he’s tired on those Saturday mornings and may not feel like it, but he still does it because he loves you and he wants to be faithful.  Do you realize that its a lot of work to clean up all the dishes after making that kind of breakfast, but he does it in order to serve your mommy? He takes you to the pool, or to the park, or to McDonalds for ice cream and the playplace faithfully every Daddy date because he genuinely loves spending time with you, and he genuinely desires to give mommy a break at the end of the week. Do you realize that is such a gift?

Do you realize that your Daddy desires to win your heart-above getting you to behave a certain way, or memorize Scripture verses, or learning to help around the house. He sincerely wants to win your heart, because that is what God does towards us, alluring us into a Father-Child relationship of love and unity.

Do you realize that your Daddy would give his life to protect you?  Part of the reason he trains in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is so that he will be equipped to protect each one of you, if need be.

Do you realize that he already gives his life in a million small ways each day so that you might have food and clothing, shelter and lavish love?  It is not easy to carry the responsibility of providing for a family of seven, but he carries the load (and the long working hours) so that you might be provided for.

Do you realize that your Daddy is a prayer warrior for you?  He brings you before the throne of God daily and cries out to his Father to protect and nourish your little souls.  He prays that you will become sons and daughters of the Most High and that your lives would be lived out for His Glory, for that is where your greatest joy will come from.

Do you realize that by disciplining you well, your Daddy is loving you well?  It would be so easy to let things slide because your disobedience and subsequently-needed discipline comes at an inconvenient time, when we’re trying to get out the door  or when we have dinner guests over.  But he is faithfully being obedient to his Father to correct you, to discipline you, to pray with you afterwards and to love and cuddle you back into a restored relationship with your parents, siblings, and Heavenly Father. He’s training you in repentance and your need for a Savior.

Do you realize that your Daddy is loving each of you well by loving your mommy well?  He makes date nights a priority because he knows that each of you will be blessed and loved as our marriage flourishes and is knit together.  He stands guard over our relationship because in doing so he stands guard over your security and emotional well-being.

Do you realize that your Daddy is teaching you to be creative?  Whether it be designing and building wooden pop guns, duct tape swords, or writing songs with you, he’s teaching you that God created us to be little mini creators and as you excitedly watch him and participate with him in the creative process you are learning to use your own little minds and creativity to be mini creators.

Do you realize that you are learning to be servant-hearted and hard working?  When he works with you to clean out the car or do the yard work or clean out the garage your Daddy is serving mommy and teaching you the blessing of service and the call to do it with all your heart.

Do you realize your Daddy is a winner of souls, and “he who wins souls is wise”?  Daddy passionately shares the Gospel with so many hurting hearts, and desires to make disciples of all nations.  What a gift it is that your Daddy’s heart is in alignment with the heart of God.

Do you realize that you are blessed in the spiritual realm because the Word of God is embedded on your Daddy’s heart and he delights to proclaim it in the pulpit, and in our home? What a treasure that he is giving you when he leads you in family worship each night, seeking to impart to you the Words of Life that will protect you and keep you in this life and in the life to come.

And do you realize that your Daddy is a sinner?  I know, you may not see it or think it at this point, because he is all hero in your eyes.  But he is, and do you realize what a gift it is that he acknowledges so?  For it puts him at the foot of the cross, in desperate need of a Savior to pay for the failures and sins of his heart, and this is the most blessed place your daddy could be.  For in his desperation for a Savior, he gains a new life, the life of Christ, in him.

Do you realize that all those wonderful, amazing things that you adore about your Daddy are because Jesus is alive in him? And Jesus is the one who brings you to your Perfect Daddy. Sweet little ones, I pray that you realize.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

New friends from 3 different continents

Libyans from Africa. Saudi Arabians from the Middle East. Italians from Europe. Taiwanese from Asia.  The world was gathered in our home. And I am so thankful to be a part of it. I met Jesus in it.

As a follow-up to my recent conviction about being moved by the Spirit, I put aside my typical weekly agenda to get ready for a Christmas party for our housemate’s international friends. Amazingly, I didn’t do too much yelling at my children beforehand (they even helped with set-up and we shared a wonderful prayer time for it together in the afternoon!- thanks to the Spirit’s work) and we had a wonderful time with everyone.  We utilized three key universal languages-food, music, and children.  After our meal together, it was pretty amazing to have Muslims gathered around singing songs about Christ, the Savior,’s birth. The Gospel conversations we were able to engage in with each person were even better.  Instead of an “untouchable topic” like it is with many Americans, all the international students were eager to discuss differing views, sharing theirs and asking questions about others. We pray that the doors of hearts have begun to creak open through it all.
I was equally amazed at how eager each person was to interact and play with our kids. Some of them said they are always at the university and don’t see very many children. DJ got to have plastic sword fights with Valentina from Italy, and play iphone video games with “Derick” from Taiwan.  Trinity played musical instruments with her new best friend, Winnie, from Taiwan.  Katy-Grace played “come and get me!!” with Anece from Saudi Arabia. Benjamin befriended Monique , an 8 month old from Libya, whose parents are studying here.

We, including our children, are far richer for having hosted this party. We are challenged and grown as we hear first-hand how one’s religion affects their goals, their lives, and their culture. My children are now talking about flying to the different countries to visit their friends (I showed them on a map where each one lived–how’s that for a built-in homeschool lesson?? Geography 101 based on friends from around the world)

One part of the evening saddened me….When asked if they had made any American friends or been to an American’s home, each person said “no”. These new friends of ours have been here anywhere from 7 mo. to 2 1/2 years. Their most frequent interactions with Americans is with their English teacher in class. I asked Ibraham from Saudi Arabia if they preferred just spending time with other internationals or if they wished they could have relationships with Americans.  He said “No, we wish we could know Americans.  We are here to learn the language and the culture, but the American students are busy with their studies and their lives and we don’t know how to become friends with them.” The nations are 10 minutes away and we are too busy to reach out to them, befriend them, and share the Light of the Gospel with them.

Through these new friends, I have been so convicted…

To truly be a follower of Christ, he said we must obey his words.

This includes “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.” (Matt. 28:19) The “going” to “all nations” has become so easy for us. We don’t even have to buy a plane ticket.

They are right here.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Why I Haven’t Blogged in Nearly a Month…

The picture below, sums up why I haven’t had time to blog in over a month. Count’em.

The little boogers keep me busy

Thats five little people that need by time, care, and attention.  We just added Ella (3 mo.) to the mix a few weeks ago, because her mom had to go back to work, and we needed some extra income.

Not to be making excuses, but this time I really do have a good excuse.  It’s not that I don’t think deep thoughts that I would LIKE to write out, it’s just that at the end of a long day, going to bed is key for survival of the next day.  So blogs get put on the shelf.

BUT this weekend, my incredible and servant-hearted sister-in-law, Sara-Beth, is watching my kids while Danny and I are at a wedding in San Francisco (with a little R&R built in).  So, the blogging will resume! (stay posted for yet another fantastic excuse for why I haven’t been blogging lately)

Just thought I’d add some of all the other 25 pictures I had to take, trying to capture everyone on the couch…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A Night with the Giants

David Tyree, #85 of the New York Giants.

We first met him several years ago when he came to speak at an evangelistic breakfast in Newark -David played for the Giants and that was a BIG deal for our teens and young adult men. We were so thankful for his willingness to use his platform as a pro football player to impact our neighborhood. We partnered occasionally for different ministry events and our friendship with him and his wife, Leilah, started to bud.  We watched him make the AMAZING catch in the 2008 Superbowl, and we listened to his voicemail recording, “You’ve reached David Tyree.  Can’t answer to phone right now. Leave a message. Yes, you saw the catch, but what you didn’t see was that it was the Lord that did it. Give Him the glory”.  We’ve stayed in touch as our two families have grown significantly over the years. On our trek through Jersey we just had to stop by and see them.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

When people in Newark asked us where we went Wednesday night, and our response was “We had dinner at the Tyree’s house”, alot of questions ensued.  One of which was “Is their house really big??”

Yes, there house was big.  Yes, they had nice furniture.  Yes, they had a sweet pool out back.  But it doesn’t take much time with them to quickly realize that their real treasures are in heaven and their hope is in the eternal Kingdom. David said while we were there “All this stuff-its just clutter.  We’re learning that more and more.”

This amazing couple’s start was a rocky one, but once the Lord got a hold of their hearts, God started transforming this family into a covenant one.  One that serves, one that suffers, one that clings to the Hope we have in Jesus-that this earth is not our home.

As we ate dinner, David shared some of his passions-involvement in a small group, helping other couples who were struggling in their marriage, getting money into the hands of people who can use it to make the Gospel known, speaking out to support the institution of marriage and the traditional family unit as the bedrock of a society, pouring into his kids and caring for his wife who is working so hard raising their family.

Leilah Tyree is one of the most amazing women I have ever met.  She breathed encouragement and fortitude into me as she shared her passionate love of the Lord, but also the struggle of relinquishing ALL, including her womb to His service. She’s walking her conviction, as the sixth child in this new line of covenantal children is due sometime this fall.

Last summer, when I was still in the midst of eeking through the pregnant existence I was in (Benjamin was sucking every last ounce of anything out of me) she had just had their fifth child.  She told me of the struggle, the pain, the crying out to God that she did in the hardship and even physical pain of caring for the kids and nursing an infant.  I will never forget what she said to me.  “People in other countries may have to suffer torture, and death to follow Christ, but this is just the suffering God has called me to as my offering to Him.”  How often these words have rang in my mind.  How I have mulled over them as I’ve struggled with my own faith in God’s desire to build our family according to HIS will, not my own.

Their big house is now filled-not with more “clutter”, but with souls.  They “adopted” a struggling nephew so that he could be homeschooled along with the rest of the kids.  Their spare bedroom is inhabited by a cousin, his girlfriend, and their daughter.  Their house is being used for the Kingdom. Their nice furniture has little children climbing on it and sitting upon it for family devotions. It is being used for the Kingdom. David’s influence in the media is being used to bring glory to Christ and proclaim the truth of His Word, no matter what the cost of David’s reputation.  His platform is being used for the Kingdom. Leilah’s physical strength, mental focus, and emotion and spiritual depth are being poured into the five kids plus her nephew as they are homeschooled.  She is being used for the Kingdom.  Her body, including her womb, have been laid on the altar as a living sacrifice and God is blessing them with a first generation covenantal family.  Her womb is being used for the Kingdom. Their family has welcomed house guests into it. The entire family is being used for the Kingdom.

This couple is stepping out in acts of faith that will be a blessing to the generations to come. They are living and breathing what it means to follow Jesus, with Jesus Himself being their daily strength and light.

David doesn’t play for the Giants any more, but works a full-time business job to provide for his growing family, plus he does all the other things required of a man whose home is filled with small people and babies .   He is no longer a New York Giant but he’s a giant of another kind.

This family’s refreshing perspective, dogged clinging to God’s Promises, and their honesty about the deep struggles of life were absolutely invigorating for my faith that night.   Yes, they have a big house.  But their house in heaven will be FAR bigger. Yes, their names are famous because David played pro-ball. But their fame is about making Someone Else famous.  This world thinks they “made it” because David is a famous Super-bowl winning Giant. But David, Leilah, and their covenant kids are giants of another kind.  An eternal kind.  On the team that wins in the game of life and death and eternity.  They are GOD’s giants.

The Meanest Mommy on the Block

Photo taken by budding photographer, Daniel Josiah. Based on his other "work" I'm impressed that my even PART of my face is in this shot.

The meanest Mommy on the block. Literally.  Coming off of a week of intense activity, late nights, leaving all of my household jobs to be done later, I was spent.  But the funny thing about being a mommy of four small children is, they could care less if you are “spent”.  They still need to be fed three times a day, they still fall and hurt themselves, they still get in little fights, they still have potty accidents, they still keep making mess after mess after mess.  The analogy I thought of while in the midst of this gosh-awful, chaotic week of being left with two weeks worth of work to catch up on WHILE continuing to do all the mommy stuff needed, was that of riding on a horse.  This horse is galloping full steam ahead, and you have to hold on to the reins for dear life and by all means, KEEP YOUR BALANCE…because if you fall off that horse, it will not stop. It just keeps galloping. Then you’ve gotta run after that on-the-run horse with all your might, catch up to it, manage to climb back on, and the KEEP YOUR BALANCE all while it continues to gallop. And if you are already tired, or sleep deprived. FORGET IT.

So, halfway through this week in the wake of having absolutely spent myself on many wonderful, ambitious endeavors “for the Kingdom” the week before, I was THE MEANEST MOMMY ON THE BLOCK.  I genuinely felt sorry for my children.  Not sorry enough to stop yelling at them, but sorry that they had gotten stuck with me as their mom.

In a collapsed heap on my bed, after having one of my OWN big-person temper tantrums, Danny graciously curled up next to me and spoke sanity into my distraught heart.  Our conversation went something like this:

Me: Why would God give these children to me, when I’m so stinkin awful to them?  I just don’t have enough patience to deal with them lovingly!  And to think, I actually want to adopt more…just so I can be mean to them, also?!?

Danny:  Kimberly, you’re being sanctified in this process.  God is breaking you and teaching you through it all.

Me: Yeah, but while I’m here waiting to be sanctified, I’m ruining our children!  They are going to end up hating me, rebelling, and not caring about the God I claim to love but fail to show to them!

Danny:   God didn’t just give these kids to you. He gave you to them. They are sanctifying you, but also He is showing them the Gospel as they watch you be sanctified.  One of the things that spoke the Gospel to me the loudest, was watching my own mother be changed and softened by the Gospel.  God used even the-not-so-pretty parts to show me His power. Just keep confessing your failings, and telling them that you need Jesus.  You know, its not all about YOU, Kimberly.  Its about God’s covenantal promises. And when those stand despite your failings, who gets the glory?

And in our conversation I realized that the God that loves me and called me to Himself is THEIR God too.  And He did a mighty work in my own life to bring me to Himself, and part of that included my parents faithfulness AND their failings.  And if He’s big enough to do it in me, He’s big enough to do it in them.  So we’re back at square one again (how do I so consistenly veer from this??)-God is our Rock. He is our Hope.  When we start to add anything to His All-Sufficiency (even all those great parenting tips I read about), we are not trusting in Christ alone, but in Christ PLUS how great a parent I might endeavor to be. And what an insult to the Perfect Father, the Maker, Sustainer and Fulfiller of all.

I’m sorry Jesus, I hinder the little children from coming to you, when I bank on my efforts instead of your accomplishments. All I can do is ask that you would make my heartbeat  “Christ Alone”.

And would you make it their heartbeat too?

Yard Sale Mania

"Sisters" submerged in STUFF...at times we thought it would never end.

The reason it has taken me over two weeks to write this update post on our yard sale-ing endeavors is because of the toll it took on my sleep, my parenting, my housework, etc. (that is a whole other post, which I will hopefully get to soon).

BUT, I must say, the yard sale went really well and the Lord enabled us to raise a little over $1,500!!! That puts our personal total adoption income through yard sales to $4,000.  Not too shabby, if you ask me. PLUS we have several more people doing yard sales in the next couple of months and we are hoping for at least another $1,000 through those.

Our original goal was for 25 people to sign up to do yard sales in response to the orphan’s cry (in particular, Jonathan and David, who Sara and Eric are adopting from Ethiopia).  It really is a great deal-you get rid of unwanted clutter in your house (and your friends’ houses if they give you their stuff), you spend the day outside in the beautiful spring weather,  you get to meet neighbors (we’ve befriended a new couple on our street who are atheists but are really interested in talking to us about “religion” -all through them buying a bunch of furniture at the sale!), and you OBEY the Father’s call to care for the orphaned.  Anyways, here is a list of future yard sales, and if you would like to be added to the list, PLEASE contact me!

1.Kimberly and Sara-Beth-April 16, Oviedo, FL-$1,547.23

2. Hana Ryman-May 7, Orlando, FL

3. Rebecca Dingle- June, Columbia, MD

4. Jason and Michelle Hursh -June 4 -Lancaster, PA

5. Becky Rider – May- Kansas

6. Cathy Lamont -April 16- Atlanta, GA-$148

7. Jake and Jennifer Levee, June, Orlando, FL

8. Kimberly- June 4, Oviedo, FL

Here is a slide show of our Adoption Yard Sale on April 16!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Aftershocks….

Katy-Grace awaiting the results of the CAT scan. By this time, she had had Mommy's undivided attention for the entire day, so she couldn't have been happier.

We had ALMOST made it. We were within 28 hours of Daddy’s return when the tornado sirens went off, the thunderstorms rolled in, and I huddled all the kids in the bathroom for fear that a tornado was going to hit. After a little bit, my phone rang, I got busy getting ready for the day, all the while eying the clock for how long I had till I had to get all four kids dressed, fed, teethe brushed, and ushered out the door in torrential downpours to get Daniel Josiah to preschool on time. Amidst the rushing about, I yelled to the kids to get off of the bathroom counter. A few minutes later, while changing when I heard a crash and crack! Katy-Grace lay on the tile floor gasping for little breaths in the midst of hard, long cries. I quickly swept her up in my arms, only to have her completely go limp. It was only several seconds before I was able to get her to regain consciousness, but even then her eyes were fluttering, and she seemed so dazed and out of it. A quick call to Sara-Beth down the street (who came down immediately), calls to several different doctors, a rushed feeding of Benjamin, and a collection of items to occupy my two year old in a waiting room…and I was off to Urgent Care…then there was the throwing up, and the attempt, upon arriving, to produce our insurance card only to realize that the other day when I caught the girls playing with my wallet I had failed to make sure that all of my cards had been returned. I sheepishly excused myself and told the attendant that we would be back after I ran home (in the still-torrentially down-pouring rain). A frantic call to Daniel Josiah to ask if he had ANY idea where the girls had put my cards (fortunately he had a very good and accurate guess!) The return to Urgent Care and a very serious talk with the physician who said Katy-Grace really needed a CAT scan to check for internal damage despite his hesitancy about exposing a two year old to that amount of radiation (ironic, I think, that we were so worried about Danny being exposed to radiation in Japan, all the while his two year old daughter was probably exposed to more of it that day than he ever was). More mad dashes to the car and back out again (yes, it was STILL torrentially pouring rain) as we proceeded on to the next phase of our adventure. At the radiologist Katy-Grace was then wrapped like a burrito in sheets, taped to the CAT scan bed (literally taped, including her head) and covered with a lead jacket (except for her head). I’ve never seen the peace of God flood someone like I did right then…During the wrapping and taping process Katy-Grace was screaming bloody-murder, but as I said a quick prayer over her before she started going down the “conveyer belt”, her screams subsided into an occasional whimper while the machine whirled about her head. Katy-Grace’s top hits playlist were sung consistently by Mommy with great enthusiasm (who was very thankful that her daughter had grown to love “Jesus loves me”, “I can’t do anything”, and “Blessed be your Name” so much). The technician was amazed that she had stayed so still, as the initial process hadn’t boded well. After a relatively short wait, the news came back. No severe head trauma. PRAISE THE LORD!

Daddy got home. YAY! Danny, Benjamin and I went on a wonderfully relaxing getaway to the beach….

and then the next wave of aftershocks. Benjamin spiked a fever the last day we were there. Ok, he’s teething I tell myself. The next day we get home and I check it…103.7. thats not good…more tylenol…104 a few hours later..a late night debate as to whether or not ANOTHER run to urgent care was ensuing. Let’s wait it out till the morning. Day three 104.5 and an Dr.’s appointment. He has a urinary tract infection, a skin infection, is prescribed multiple antibiotics and needs to be diligently consuming liquids because dehydration was imminent.

Danny is three weeks behind in schoolwork and is still battling jet lag. He’s “home” but not really.

Mommy’s energies and emotions are consumed with Benjamin.

The situation does not lend itself towards wonderful displays of the fruits of the Spirit, as Daniel Josiah so intuitively pointed out after I returned to the dinner table after tending to Benjamin for about 10 minutes, only to find lima beans and corn thrown all over the kitchen (Daddy had class and wasn’t there). “Mommy” he says, “you’re losing your patience.” “Thanks, honey…I hadn’t quite noticed.”

But as I swept the floor and cleaned the kitchen (by the way, sweeping up wet corn is NOT easy), while the kids unloaded the dishwasher, the Lord just spoke to my heart. “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour…” and I thought of Job who was attacked simply because he was following the Lord. Danny’s trip was wonderfully successful, the Lord displayed His great MIGHT in upholding the team and those left at home, and God has received Glory. The Kingdom has advanced. The Enemy is MAD. These are the aftershocks, and God’s Word is our firm foundation that we stand upon as the enemy tries to rock us from that place of resting.

For devotions (Danny was still at class) I looked up the I Peter 5 passage, to go over with the kids. “Be self-controlled (well, I already blew THAT mandate), and alert (at least the Lord alerted my mind after the fact). Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (I’m sure the kids at times thought it was ME that was looking for someone to devour) Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.(the Japanese, the Libyans, the Pakistani to name a few, are undergoing MUCH worse) And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To HIM BE THE POWER FOR EVER AND EVER. AMEN”

Utter failure on my part…but here is a hope-filled promise, that suffering is part of God’s call to eternal glory, that HE has the power, and that God is the God of all grace.
A little glimpse of that grace was displayed through my son tonight, after we read the passage and I told the kids I was sorry for loosing it. I said “Does Mommy need Jesus?” and he replied “Mommy, EVERYBODY needs Jesus.”

Through the aftershocks, in the midst of sin, for each moment, EVERYBODY NEEDS JESUS.

Glimmers of hope

For the past few weeks I have filled in as program director for our after school program.  Betsy is back in town (she’s going to live here this summer-YAY!) and since her job hasn’t started yet, she babysits all afternoon for me, so that i can be with the kids in the program.  BOY is it hard work.  Danny and I talk about how we managed to get the “cream of the crop” in terms of having some of the hardest kids, from the roughest backgrounds.  (one fourth grader, after getting made fun of, stormed off to the kitchen to retrieve a knife-fortunately one of our leaders was following close behind her and we ended up having a long talk about it) Anyways, I feel that much of what we do isn’t even about the program but just loving these kids and PARENTING them.  They were never taught to respect people (people older them OR their peers) and they don’t really know what disciple is because some of their parents are so uninvolved in their lives (one of our teen workers reported that he sees several of our kids out at 1:00am and 2:00am just hanging out by themselves some nights). Having our afterschool program is like starting from square one in terms of teaching these kids how to respect people, how to listen, how to be kind  and how to deal with negative emotions. One day I was tired of getting walked over so I decided that yelling would be the answer.  I was super strict, (borderline mean) and I yelled alot.  When I came home and told Danny my new tactic, he gently reminded me that our goal is not to just get them to listen and to do what we want, our goal is their hearts. And slowly but surely, as we continually show up and invest in their lives, I believe their hard hearts are and will continue to change. God is so gracious to allow us to see little glimmers of heart changes, and here are a few:

 

-> one girl, “Kellie” used to be SOO bad in my Sunday School class. (her mom is one of the Crip leaders in the projects)  She would be absolutely unmanageable, go off on pouting sprees, pick fights with kids, and refuse to participate in the activities.  But since she started the program, her behavior in my Sunday School class has changed DRASTICALLY.  She participates, works hard on her assignments, and always volunteers to read. Last week, she was about to say something mean to one of the kids when she caught herself and stopped mid-sentence.  I got really excited that she has shown self control (so excited that at first, she thought she was in trouble), and had chosen not to say something hurtful.  This is HUGE for these kids because saying mean things to one another is as natural as breathing…I think half the time they don’t even realize how rude, mean spirited, and hurtful their comments are.  Then today during Sunday School she was having a “relapse” in some of her bad attitudes and disrespect, so I told her she had to leave my class.  She then joined in with another class’s craft and drew me a picture and wrote me a letter of apology for her behavior. This also is an enormous step…I don’t think that these kids even understood the concept of apology prior to coming to our church. 

 

–>Another girl, “Debbie”, who is a ringleader for most of the kids and a big bully a lot of the time, has been absorbing Scripture and all the stories and facts that we have been teaching.  This past week she disagreed with a way that I had disciplined another of our students and I got the typical attitude and “That ain’t fair!!! (If I got a nickle every time i heard that phrase, Danny and I could buy our own house!) I told her I was the leader, she doesn’t understand everything, and I wasn’t about to explain myself to her, and then just let it be.  Forty five minutes later, she came up to me and told me she was sorry for having an attitude.  

 

–> One of our teen leaders, at our weekly meeting, really “got” it as we did a Bible study and we questioned WHY we are doing what we do.  He immediately said “LOVE!!”.  He said there is no other explanation for why Danny and I would put up with what we do, other than love.  And he also declared that love was the only thing that would change these kids.  (Note- we don’t require our teen staff to be believers, but based on his responses, it seems that our “Jesus-time” and our devotionals are sinking in to his heart as well as the kids. 

 

–> One kid, “Damon”, who gives us the most trouble, broke down and wept last week and opened up about his grandmother dying.  Many of these kids grandmothers do more loving and nurturing than their own mothers do.  I was encouraged to see him finally opening up and getting to the “why” of his behavior. 

 

–> “Ken” got in trouble one day, and had to be in time out so I sat down with him to try to talk things out, but I then got distracted by two other kids who were fighting and disrespecting me. After I dealt with them, Ken  came up to me and said, “Miss Kimberly, I thought we were going to have a talk.”  My babysitter had to leave so I took him over to my house to have our “talk”.  This resulted in four other kids lining up at my back door so that they could have a “talk” with Miss Kimberly. This whole ordeal made me realize even more, that negative behavior is just a ploy to get some attention.  If they are bad, then they will get pulled aside and have to have a heart to heart with one of the leaders, with the leader giving them their undivided attention. Undivided attention, especially the calm kind, is a priceless rarity in their lives.