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**

 

 

 

 

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Will I grab for it, or will I listen for it?

Salt was flying.

Sugar was spilling.

Baking powder was pouring.

Small hands were grabbing and snatching and dumping.

Ingredients jettisoning all over the kitchen.

A mommy was attempting baking…

…with an overly eager two year old and four year old.

Those little boys were so eager to help me make “gooten fwee bwownies” (Gluten Free history here)

that they were a little TOO eager.

For they were snatching things up and dumping things in and spilling things over and in their zeal, they were actually ruining the brownies they so desired to make.

“Boys, boys! You have to wait patiently, and listen to mommy, and step by step I will tell you what to do. If you don’t wait for instruction, you will ruin the brownies.”

And in that moment, I was the prophet.

Speaking, “Thus sayeth the Lord”

to a heart that needed to hear it.

For so often I long for the end result (yummy, Gluten Free brownies? or an influence in people’s lives for the sake of the Gospel? or a home that is well-run with lots of discipleship happening in it? or a house that needs to hurry-up-and-get-renovated-because-I’m-suppose-to-be-moving-my-kids-into-it-in-three-weeks? or a church to plant in a neighborhood I have a lot to learn from?)

But just like those boys, I’m grabbing and dumping and trying to outrace the other set of hands in order to try to accomplish things in my own, limited understanding.

But if I would just wait patiently in the presence of the Lord.

and listen for His voice

and expect to receive step by step instructions

and then DO them.

Then beautiful, powerful, and significant-for-the-Kingdom things will happen.

Sort of like those “gooten fwee bwownies” those little boys so proudly produced.

So proud of themselves!

So proud of themselves!

 

Lord,

I find set before me more ingredients and possibilities and to-do’s than any one person could possibly manage. Grant me the grace to enter into each day with a heart attitude of “you know the recipe, Lord, and I won’t touch or do or add anything unless your voice whispers, “now add this”  and “it’s time to do this”. So often I’m asking you to help me “get all this done!” but right now I ask you to help me hear Your voice. May I only touch what you tell me to touch, and do what you tell me to do. I believe and trust that you are creating something wonderful and I want to be a willing participant in it’s accomplishment, not a hindrance to it. I’m trusting you for the recipe, Lord.

 

Be still before the Lord, wait patiently for Him.   

Psalm 37:7

~~~~~

And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.

Isaiah 30:21

~~~~~

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight.  

Proverbs 3:5-6

Moving forward in weakness

On the steps of the church

On the steps of the church…miraculous gathering of body and attention span (sort of)

It had been a frazzling day. (Come to think of it, every day is a frazzling one with six kids).
That Sunday we had ushered those six kids out the door early in the morning to attend worship at our “sending church”. We had scooted downtown to attend an event at the sight of the new after school program starting up, stopped by the house we are renovating, and were headed to the evening service of the church where Danny is interning for the year. As we rounded the corner, we spotted Mike, one of our future neighbors  walking down the street. I quick rolled down the window, had Danny pull over and called out to him, “Mike! Hop in, we’re headed to church!”

He hopped in, told us about how he had wanted to go to church that morning but had overslept, and it was perfect timing that we had seen him as he walked to the grocery store.

We sat in worship, and I struggled to stay focused at times, when my days are so full and flustered, it’s difficult to keep my brain from being so as well. My mind wanders…..
I feel so weak. I feel like I’m running on fumes. I feel like six kids fills up every waking every single moment of every single twenty-four hour time segment.

And we are suppose to be starting a church soon.

The last time we worked on starting a church, we were ten years younger. That was six kids and a whole lot less responsibility ago. We were full of energy, drive, eternal optimism, and naïveté. We ran programs, put together outreaches, offered hospitality and loved on a lot of people. We poured every waking (and sometimes,even non-waking) moment into ministering to those God had placed in our lives in Newark.

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Christmas outreach at the church plant in Newark. Daniel Josiah could still be toted around in a back pack carrier….six kids won’t fit on my back anymore…

 

Now we are suppose to be starting a church and we are older, more tired. Not tired of Kingdom work, but tired from getting up 3-4 times a night with whichever kids is sick, having bad dreams, or wets the bed. Six kids with a range of needs-sports schedules and nursing schedules, school projects and potty training endeavors, social commitments and diaper changes…its a full time job….for three people. I used to run from one massive outreach to another and now I run to one crisis mess after another. The time between each meal, I mean, kitchen explosion is a mere three hours…on a good day.  I have so little left to give after tending to half a dozen kids day in and day out. How are we going to have the energy to pour ourselves out like we did last time? How is Danny going to be able to lead us all in this endeavor when he’s currently half-crippled with a shoulder that is still 6-10 months away from full recovery? How are we going to battle the sin and disfunction in our new community, when the sin and disfunction already runs deep…in our own home, in my own heart?

the half dozen

the half dozen

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you can only imagine the discord X 6 when they don't feel like cooperating...

you can only imagine the discord multiplied by six when they don’t feel like cooperating…

We filed out of our rows to go up to receive communion. I partake in faith. A weak one.

I slumped back into my seat, head bent over, laying it all out to a Jesus who sometime feels far.

I feel a strong arm squeeze my shoulder and pat me on the back.

I look up to see Mike’s dark skin in contrast to the pale walls.

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Mike worshipping next to Danny, different skin colors, same needy heart

 

He.gets.it?

He.gets.it.

He gets that this is hard. He sat in that car and heard all the fires I put out concerning children’s needs in just the 15 minutes that we drove across town.

Mike has his own set of struggles and hardships. And I have mine. And did we not just eat of the same table? The one that represents the Bread of Heaven that has promised to satisfy hungry souls?

When we moved to Newark, I knew I “had” the bread and my job was to hand it out to everyone. Now, I’m just as starving for it as our soon-to-be new neighbors who know street life and struggle far better than I.

We are moving into this mission as common beggars toward the same God. How different from the “I’ve come to bring you the Savior ” mentality I had as we entered the ministry in Newark ten years ago. Now, I’ve got a “I’m desperately clinging to the Savior. You want to help each other along on the journey?” mentality.

I needed that squeeze on the shoulder from Mike every bit as much as he needed a ride to church. We’re in the same boat, him and me. And maybe our presence in each other’s lives will be the very thing that keeps us looking out on the water towards the One who walks on it, instead of looking at the waves that threaten to crush us under it.

It’s a weak place to be…just barely catching one’s breath in between the rolling waves of raising six children.  But a perfect place for our Savior to walk through.

For the humbled place, the weak place, the struggling place is often the place where He likes to show up.  He did it when he showed up in the womb of an unwed Jewish teenager.  He did it when he showed up in a stable to sleep amongst the farm animals.  He did it when He walked and talked among the poor folk, the outcasts, the unclean and the unlawful.

So my only prayer, our only hope, is that He shows up in the weak place again. The weak, but available place of my heart, and our marriage, and this home, and that neighborhood that He’s called us to move into.

So we move. Move forward in weakness.

But there’s that promise about weakness.

A promise that HIS power is made perfect there.

So we go. with weakness, yes, but with availability, and expectation that somehow God’s spoken word will truly create an image of His power being perfected…not just despite the weakness….

but IN it.

 

But he said to me,

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses,

so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

2 Corinthians 12:9

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

never, ever, EVER Plan Your Life

I am stunned.

I am shell shocked.

How did this happen?

Every good thing I thought I was going to give my life towards.

Every person in that city that my heart breaks for.

All the struggle we pushed through in order to keep loving in that place.

The very purpose for which we uprooted, moved 8 states away, and endured hours of study and preparation.

ALL

GONE.

or seemingly so.

Anyone who knows us, knows our heart beats for the poor, the broken, the marginalized. Especially for those in the city of Newark, NJ, which contains such a high concentration, a vast majority of such people. with so few resources. so few fathers. so few stable families. SO FEW GOSPEL PREACHING, GOSPEL-PROPELLED CHURCHES.

I have merely tolerated the suburbs. these past two and a half years.

while my heart has broken over the dwindling, struggling, and eventually dying ministry we left behind.

So eager to return. To jump back into the lives of those people we left behind.

AND NOW WE ARE NOT.

never, ever, EVER plan your life.

The Lord will change it all up.

I wrestle hard with the why?
Why wouldn’t You let us go forth to obey the commands to spend ourselves on the hungry?
Why wouldn’t You let us go to a people I am passionate about serving and loving?
Why wouldn’t You let us go to a place with such need and so few laborers?
Why do those street kids that I’ve come to love so much not get the chance to hear and see the love of Christ (at least not yet)?
I Do Not Know

But I do know the promises if Isaiah 45:9-12
9 “Woe to those who quarrel with their Maker,
those who are nothing but potsherds
among the potsherds on the ground.
Does the clay say to the potter,
‘What are you making?’
Does your work say,
‘The potter has no hands’?
10 Woe to the one who says to a father,
‘What have you begotten?’
or to a mother,
‘What have you brought to birth?’
11 “This is what the Lord says—
the Holy One of Israel, and its Maker:
Concerning things to come,
do you question me about my children,
or give me orders about the work of my hands?
12 It is I who made the earth
and created mankind on it.
My own hands stretched out the heavens;
I marshaled their starry hosts.
13 I will raise up Cyrus in my righteousness:
I will make all his ways straight.
He will rebuild my city
and set my exiles free,
but not for a price or reward,
says the Lord Almighty.”

So, as I wrestle, and mourn, and grieve…
I cling with all my heart to the fact that

HE IS LORD,

And He has said, “come follow ME”.

not the ministry,

not the people,

not the need.

follow ME.

(more to come in these posts. at this point, I am only emotionally capable of processing one piece of this at a time. Jesus, be my Good Shepherd that walks with me through this valley of the shadow of death… of my dreams and expectations)