This blogging journey coming to an end…..and a new one beginning.

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The early days of inner city ministry

It started out as a place for a young mom doing full time inner city ministry alongside her husband to process and document the things they were doing and learning. It trickled, died, resurrected, morphed and followed this family as we welcomed moves, pregnancies, children, changes of plan, struggles and victories into our lives…. all under the gracious Hand of God, ever drawing us closer to Himself through the process.

Eight years this place has acted as an ebenezer of sorts…a place I return to, to reread and remember what a merciful God teaches through the gentle (and sometimes not so gentle) promptings of the Holy Spirit. It has been a place where others are allowed “into” to ponder, mourn, and celebrate along with us. My earnest prayer has not been for outsiders to look “in” and compare, or contrast their own lives with ours, but rather for them to catch glimpses of God’s goodness, guidance, and faithfulness to his promises in our family life, and then to take Him at His Word in their own.

With some sorrow and nostalgia,

this eight year journey is coming to a close…

…but not without the embarking of a new one.

If you are interested in the next phase of this Jesus-seeking, church-planting, Kingdom-laboring family’s journey, join us over at

www.journeytoshalom.com

as we document together the journey to discover and display Shalom in our hearts, lives, home and community in an underprivileged neighborhood of downtown Atlanta….all places desperate for the Prince of Peace to visit.

Embarking on a new sort of inner city ministry...with six of our own kids involved.

Embarking on a new sort of inner city ministry…with six of our own kids involved.

**If you are currently a subscriber to lovingtheleastofthese.com, then please be sure to subscribe to JourneytoShalom.  Although this blog will remain up, all of the current adventures will be posted to JourneytoShalom, and there will be no more notifications coming through this site. The lovingtheleastofthese archive has travelled with us to our new spot, but our subscribers haven’t, and we don’t want to lose you in the journey!

 

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Three months and no words? Where have the Iversons been all summer?

 

Where have the Iversons been all summer?!?©KathrynMcCraryPhotographyAtlantaPhotographer-150

Three full months, and no words?

No blog posts?

No adventures to recount?

No thoughts or impressions from the Lord?

No musings from the Living Word of God?

Oh, they have been there.

They have been mulled over while scrubbing pots and pans.

They have been formulated while setting up chairs for the large number of houseguests coming over for dinner.

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extra bodies and mouths start to gather for dinner

They have been pieced together in nights spent rocking sleepless babes.

The kid that smiles big during the day, but sleeps little during the night

The kid that smiles big during the day, but sleeps little during the night

They have been composed while sitting in traffic, driving home from multiple doctor appointments for an eight year old’s broken arm.

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wounded, but cheerful little broken-armed girl

They have been half typed, at wee hours in the morning, but always interrupted by a coughing child, or a bad dream or a wet bed.

They have been there…but so have the setbacks…broken arms, bashed mouths with teethe getting knocked out.  A baby’s bad fall. Bloody battles (literally and spiritually)

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This is the “rated G” picture…be glad his lips are covering what the inside of his mouth looks like. Two teeth completely gone, and another just dangling

The adventures have been had, the sightings of God’s mighty work has been seen, abundant answers to prayers for ministry partners have been witnessed, but Oh, for the time to be able to sit and record them…to have the time to do as Isaiah 63:7 states

I will recount the gracious deeds of the Lord, the praiseworthy acts of the Lord, because of all that the Lord has done for us, and the great favor to the house of Israel that he has shown them according to his mercy, according to the abundance of his steadfast love.

 

I know the Lord wants us to recount these deeds He has done. The homeless family that is learning how to be a family again, without the throws of dysfunctional relationships and drug addiction.  The little baby born to homeless parents who should have died at delivery two weeks ago but is now ventilator free and ready to come home from the hospital, despite her blindness and multiple health issues. The way the single mom was thrilled at the Bible study we held in the home, declaring “I’ve never heard the Bible taught like this. This is exactly what I have been needing.”  The way that the young man who was about to convert to a very deceptive religion, ran up to Danny the other night and said, “I don’t want to be a part of that other stuff! I want to be baptized.”  The way the doors of this Shalom home have opened to four different homeless people who needed to be a part of a family’s rhythms, as rocky as they might be,  so they could learn what being  covenant family is all about.  The way that the boy, all rough and tough and angry, melted in tears last week at church with us.  The way that God has answered my prayer that He raise up an older black lady to be my prayer partner…and He brought her into my life in the most creative of ways. The way teachers from our kids public charter school want to come over for dinner to learn more about what this church plant is all about. The way we have been praying that God would take all these buildings that have been abandoned by business owners and put new businesses in them…and God sent a Christian Korean couple to start one .3 miles from our house, with them declaring, “We kept trying to avoid the call, but the Spirit of God kept telling us to open this Wings and Philly place right here…and we couldn’t figure out why.”

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Kids time, during house church

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Bible study and prayer! We are all soaking it up.

There are so so many other stories….stories of God answering specific prayers laid out MONTHS ago before the Throne of the One who reigns on High and is more passionate about this church plant than we are.  And OH, for the time to recount them.

Would you join me in prayer that this would come about?  That God grant the windows of time to work on the new blog, and the new ministry website which recently got hacked, crashed, and now has to be rebuilt before we have a new place to declare the faithful deeds of the God we serve?

Would you pray for a mother, busy with the life of running a household of eight+ all the people staying with us, to be granted the windows of time needed to type, and pray, and record, and write these posts and finish that book that was started two years ago now?

The enemy of our souls, wants the stories silenced. But I believe our God wants His glorious goodness to be put on display.

His Church is being built.  His Kingdom is advancing. His saints are praying and seeing miraculous answers.

And these stories will not be silenced.

 

**stay tuned for information about JourneytoShalom;the journey towards wholistic peace and flourishing in an under privileged community of the inner city: launching soon, Lord-willing**

 

 

 

 

Expecting: When you don’t get what you expect, but still expect to get

We didn’t get what we expected.

But now we wait in expectation for what we will get

We will get

Strength when we have none.
Faith to ride the storms.
God moving, moving in our children, when I’m rendered too weary for the job.
Order when I can’t be the one to enforce it
Joyful trust when we don’t understand the plan

I really should have known this would happened. Many  life experiences show, that as soon as we have a plan, a course of action we are following, Jesus moves us down a different path to remind us that he told us , “Come follow ME” not “come follow the plans you think I led you into”.

So, the very week we finish our adoption homestudy paperwork, we find out where our newest family member is.

He or she is growing…

in my womb.

And shock sets in, and grief over the seemingly shut door to adoption*, questions concerning all that had transpired this fall that seemed to make it so clear this was our season to adopt, but then also excitement over the newest little Iverson growing and the wonder of who this little person will be and become, and then the sudden realization and reminder that pregnancy.is.not.fun.

At least its not fun when you have five other little kids to keep up with and care for and naps are no longer an option in your life except at the extreme cost of finding plastic toys in your oven, every room in the house tornadoed through, and an inability to find your keys because the 1 year old was playing with them while you dozed during the supposed reading time that didn’t last long for mommy.  (cough, cough, its not like I’m speaking from experience…from this week)

Pregnancy is a cross to bear.  A giving up of one’s own life so that another might have it.  It is the gospel worked out, into every nitty gritty too-fatigued-and-nauseous-to-keep-up-with-the-housework-much-less-the-blog-i-wanted-to-be-more-faithful-about moment, in which I exchange my “right” to pursue my own passions and desires, my”right” to my body, my “right” to my own energy, my “right” to have a certain figure (let me tell you, when you are on your seventh pregnancy*, your body wastes NO time stretching right back out to the way it looked for 47 months of its previous existence). You give up your “right” to keep up with the New Years Resolutions, and you give up the “right” to have enough strength to keep your kids in line and do everything you need to keep things running.

But with all the suffering involved, even if its nine long months of it, it is worth every moment to impart life, a body formed around a soul entrusted, right there in your own womb.  Its worth it for who that child will be, how that child will bring laughter and joy and sanctification to his or her awaiting family members.  It is worth it for the sake of every life that child will impact throughout its life.  And most of all, its worth it to provide a place in which that little body can grow, grow eyes and ears and a heart and mind and a body to experience all the wonders of his or her Creator on this miraculous planet called earth. It’s worth it to bring a child into the world in which he or she will come to know God’s incredible redemption story. This child will come to know that although, he or she is born with a sin-cripped heart that will never need to be cultivated, only exposed, he or she will also find that this sin-cripped heart has been dealt with by the Sin-Crippler, Jesus Christ, the One with a pure heart. This child, I pray will gaze upon the cross that Jesus died upon, and come to realize this is his or her means to  a new heart, the very Heart of God, come to dwell in us. This message is what cripples sin within us, that only His heart can live abundant.

This is the greatest of all miracles, all mysteries, and it takes the miracle and mystery of pregnancy to invite a soul into such wonder.

So in the meantime, as cells reproduce rapidly, and God works miracles within, I will have to wait in expectation.  Not getting what I expected, but still expecting to get.

Expecting to get…

Strength when I have none.
Faith to ride the storms.
God moving in our children, when I’m rendered too weary for the job**
Order when I can’t be the one to enforce it.
Joyful trust when we don’t understand the plan.

For His promises declare it…that the waves of nausea and tiredness and aches and pains will not sweep over me, but rather the same Lord that created me and now forms this child, has commanded me to not be afraid but rather trust in the fact that I, and this child, and my family, who will all be affected by this pregnancy, have been called by name. And we are His.

So my three year old is HIS, when I really should be doing a better job of discipling him but can’t keep up with everything. And my 6 year old is His when I’m going to have to ask her to prepare lunch for her siblings. And my 8 year old is His when he’s just going to have to figure out a way to get his homework done without me. And my four year old is HIS when she’s going to have to settle for staccato-style reading of her older siblings rather than mommy always reading that book to her. And my 1 year old is HIS when he’s dressed in mismatched clothes because his four year old sister dressed him and that was the only way we could get out the door in time. And my husband is HIS when he comes home to dishes begging to be done and a wife fallen asleep at 9pm.

And my faith will be built, and there’s will too, as we all depend on the Mighty One, Jesus, together.

But now, this is what the Lord says—
he who created you, Jacob,
he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;

Isaiah 43:1-3

And the battle cry these past few weeks, as morning sickness has set in, has been the calling out into the water that the Lord does.  And the expectation that He will meet us IN the waves, and IN the fire, For HE is the Lord our God, the Holy One of Isreal.

My Savior. from my sin. from my fear. in my weakness. in my need.

*stay tuned for what this means for our adoption process

**we lost one baby, in between our first and second children, thus making this our seventh pregnancy

***I already saw this happen, as last Tuesday I felt like death incarnate, and could not function.  Daniel Josiah and Trinity (first and second born, ages 8 and 6) “sent me to bed” and said, “Don’t worry, Mom, you go lie down. We will clean up the kitchen.  AND THEY DID. AND THEY DID IT WELL: cleaned dinner dishes, loaded dishwasher, started dishwasher, emptied trash, swept, wiped down counters and table and pushed in chairs.  I was amazed. (NOW if they would just do that EVERY night 🙂

 

From the Mouths of Babes…Adoption Options

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Katy-Grace, the girl that is ALL GIRL

Friday we had our final adoption home study meeting in which our caseworker came to our home to approve it as safe and suitable for the addition of another child (we will be paper-ready by next week!).  One of the last interviews was that of our children to ask how they felt about adopting.  Being put on the spot, they offered up their timid “I’m excited.” or “I want a new baby to play with.” or “I want another cute kid in our family.”  Katy-Grace, our not-so-timid child, announces,

“I want a blonde baby girl!”

Judith, our caseworker, knowing we will most likely be adopting a transracial baby, asks,

“Well, what about baby with dark skin.”

No, I don’t want a black baby, I want a blonde baby!”

(I’m quickly realizing that “blonde” doesn’t just mean the color of the hair, but the color of the skin as well)

So we ask her about her cousin (adopted from Ethiopia) and all her little playmates, and her best friends and the babies of our friends who she thinks are so cute who are all black or hispanic. And she still insists on having a “blonde baby”.

And we let it rest, and I praise God we have an awesome caseworker who wasn’t phased by our four year old’s expectation of who, in her mind, we would be adopting.

Then, last night at Chuck-E-Cheese, completely surrounded by all colors of skin and ethnicities (we were the ONLY white people there),

I ask her about it again.

“So, Katy-Grace, why do you only want a blonde baby?”

and she gets right to the heart of the matter.

“Their hair is so soft.  Why do black babies have such puffy hair?  I don’t like it when it is so puffy (some of our friend’s babies have HUGE afro’s…evidently its a bit intimidating for her).  If we get a black baby can we do their hair so its not so puffy?”

“Yes, honey, we’ll do their hair so its not so puffy, and probably we’ll get a little boy baby and we’ll cut his hair like boy hair”

“Ok, we don’t have to get a blonde baby!”

And it was resolved.

The last of the Iversons to agree on the transracial adoption we are pursuing.

What sealed the deal?

A truce over the hair style.

Most of Katy-Grace's friends are black

Most of Katy-Grace’s friends are black

She loves doing Mommy's hair. One of her masterpieces. Great plans had been made for new sibling's hair.

She loves doing Mommy’s hair. One of her masterpieces. Great plans had been made for new sibling’s hair.

She knows what she wants, and watch out! if you get in her way

She knows what she wants, and watch out! if you get in her way

My spunky, wild, girly girl

My spunky, wild, girly girl

Only white girl at Chuck-E-Cheese.  She lives in diversity, so we were surprised she would be opposed to it being in our family

Only white girl at Chuck-E-Cheese. She lives in diversity, so we were surprised she would be opposed to it being in our family

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Editor’s Note:  While reading this aloud to the family before posting it, Benjamin pipes up,

“I…I…I.. want adopt Asher!!! (his cousin, adopted from Ethiopia, who we all greatly anticipated joining the family for over a year)

We can’t do that, honey!  He’s already adopted!”

he settles on the next best option…

“I want adopt a boo (blue) baby….”

and he heads down the stairs to go find something to play with.

I can’t win.  Seven people weighing in on who we will adopt.

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.