out with donyae and rickyah

can you guess which one is me?

i love these two. they make me smile and throw my head back and laugh VERY loud :)


The Day Girls, Books and Frog Legs

Tonight I came home from work completely exhausted. As I parked my car all I wanted to do was crawl into my bed and sleep, hopefully until the morning. . . . that all changed when I saw a little lady I love named Nashae walking up seventh street. She is not typical for this neighborhood. I feel like I could take Nashae out to Downingtown, where I went to high school, and stick her in class and she would still be the shy quiet girl. So sweet, so pleasant and agreeable, just a great girl. I quickly remembered - oh my goodness, God has blessed me with the chance to live in this neighborhood, with these great kids so close by.

After a quick hug, and discussion of summer plans with Nashae and her brother, I heard my girl Kaleeia calling from across the street. As she and Myeisha walked over, I was just so excited to see them. My girls. The reason I fight for this. The reason God has me living where I do and working where I do. So I can be in their lives. Abundant joy is knowing I am where I am supposed to be, at least for today.

So we made plans to go out later. They went home to do chores and round up the others, while I went to take a much needed nap.

I love these girls so much. The Day girls, Myeisha, Myhonia and Tahmyia have an amazing mother. Keyhana is always on top of them about their chores. She wanted me to wait until she got home from work before we left, so that she could check on their chores being done. While we were waiting, I experienced another favorite-mission-moment. As the girls sat in my car they discovered my huge box of books that I bought for my kindergarten class for next year.

While the boys literally climbed ON TOP of my car, banging on the windows, yelling unkind things at the girls, they found themselves completely wrapped up in the books. It was beautiful. The perfect moment for the always-teacher that I am finding myself to be. Tahmyia was reading to Myhonia, and Kaleeia and Myeisha were each swapping books and reading. They only became irritated when the loudness of the crazy boys outside the car kept them from focusing on reading. I loved it! Sitting in the car - chaos outside, while all was right with the world on the inside, for four girls and a box of books.

A moment of kids being kids in the midst of the chaotic world around them. I love this. I live for moments like this.

So then on to dinner. The girls picked the place. A Chinese-ISH buffet. Unlike any I have every been to. The pictures will explain it for me. . . . .

I am starting with the best picture of the night. Myhonia discovering the best item on the menu . . . FRIED FROG LEGS

I was gagging as the girls picked apart the crawfish. They smelled awful. . . .I know lots of people eat these, but it just didn't seem, or smell, right!

Hilarious - Tahmyia - examining her crawfish. Sooooo gross!

Classic Myeisha. . . .this one holds a special place for me :-) mostly because her bratty tendancies remind me of myself ;-)

I had to put this in here. Keyhana was genuinely embarrased that her child left the house with a shower cap on. She's a high schooler now though, so I guess those choices are all hers! What Not to Wear . . . mmmmm perhaps?

Kaleeia is just too cute. I love this girl. Sooo glad she is still around - she's a keeper!


Stealing Blatantly from Oswald Chambers

I am cutting off my ties to Facebook for a while, because I too often found myself fruitlessly browsing the quizzes and looking at pictures of friends' babies - friends that I haven't talked to for years - babies I will never meet . . . and my Bible? It sat unopened much longer then the laptop was.

BUT I am still allowing myself the guilty pleasure of Twitter - which limits itself in time wasting, because there is just not much to do on there. What is Dwight Howard doing right now? ohh, ok - that's cool, what about my friend Lauren- ok pretty cool too. . . but no hours of pictures to browse through and time to waste.

Well, this morning I found something delightful. The year after college I read through "My Utmost for His Highest" pretty regularly. Oswald Chambers compiled this devotional and it contains sweet little reminders of God's sovereignty and my calling to place that sovereignty above my own will. Soft, daily reminders to surrender self to Him. So this Twitter account is basically a daily posting of links to the day's "Utmost" entry. I thought I would share part of today's with you! :)

Today we have substituted doctrinal belief for personal belief, and that is why so many people are devoted to causes and so few are devoted to Jesus Christ. People do not really want to be devoted to Jesus, but only to the cause He started. Jesus Christ is deeply offensive to the educated minds of today, to those who only want Him to be their Friend, and who are unwilling to accept Him in any other way. Our Lord’s primary obedience was to the will of His Father, not to the needs of people— the saving of people was the natural outcome of His obedience to the Father. If I am devoted solely to the cause of humanity, I will soon be exhausted and come to the point where my love will waver and stumble. But if I love Jesus Christ personally and passionately, I can serve humanity, even though people may treat me like a "doormat." The secret of a disciple’s life is devotion to Jesus Christ, and the characteristic of that life is its seeming insignificance and its meekness. Yet it is like a grain of wheat that "falls into the ground and dies"— it will spring up and change the entire landscape ( John 12:24 ).
-Oswald Chambers


Report Cards and My Dear Bashir

Sooo . . . . it's nearing the end. . . .

Many afternoons I see Bashir wondering around the parking lot of the corner store. Since I live on the corner- its where I park. Today I happened to see him and he came over with a suspicious manila folder in his hand. I say suspicious only because it had red marker on it, with the words - REPORT CARD . . . . ohhhh the joy! He needed to use my phone, so that gave me the perfect opportunity to look at this report card. He did well. Bashir is moving up to the 6th grade!

It makes me laugh looking at the School District of Philadelphia report card. I have filled out tons of these in the past couple of years. Thinking of the teachers the mission kids have, and how they view them. I think of the teachers in my school, and the hours of conversations I have had with them about students - picking apart the smallest behaviors and discussing the annoyances and the funny things that kids say and do. There are people who complain, laugh and get hair-pulling frustrated at our mission kids. Looking at Bashir's report card, made me wonder which of my kids had anyone to show theirs to?

So - to end the year of insanity (I started typing out a more detailed explanation of this insanity, but worry about my job with the latest contract fiascos made me delete and start over) I wanted to put up a small tribute to the kids that I filled out these report cards for.

I swear I have boundaries with my students - I really do! This one is just a special case :) and it was the last couple days of school. . . . .


Just Another (Not So) Manic Monday

Ohhh Belinda Carlisle, thank you for singing that song in such a way that years after I danced to it with my side ponytail in front of my parents' boombox, it would still resonate in my head everytime I thought about the start of the work week.

Some days I just come home and am restless. I scan the block for kids as I park . . . I get the ministry itch. . . . it becomes a necessity . . . especially after a phenomenal couple of days walking with my Father. Like I am going to burst unless I can just show Him off to the world.

The days I tend to love most . . . days when ministry isn’t complicated- there isn’t drama, there isn’t confusing conversation or miscommunication, but just the Spirit indwelled showing up and the lost coming to receive . . . I call these days Mondays. Mostly because that is when the homeless get fed on the parkway.

There aren’t theological debates over ecclesiology or missiology . . . but just some hungry people needing to be fed and some other people that love Jesus and happen to have coolers full of hot meals for them to eat. So they line up, and we show up and it is a seamless system of handing out hotdogs, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and a unique creation we call tuna pasta.

Today the weather was gorgeous and the line was long. There were four girls that I had never met before that showed up (apparently they were there last week, but I was forced to miss this commitment last week) that we already stationed at the coolers, doing a phenomenal job of dishing out the food, smiles and blessings. Today I not only got to experience the meal, but I got to sit and talk and be loved on by Calvin. Ooohhhh Calvin! Cal was homeless for decades before recently being placed in an apartment not far from where I teach.

I don’t think Calvin had any idea who he was sitting and talking to today on the bench. I have known him for a little over two years now, so I don’t mean he doesn’t know who I am. . . I just don’t think he realized how tired I have been lately. . . waiting for school to end, working through health stuff and all of the small exhaustions that come with ministry. He has no idea how he ministered to my soul this afternoon.

Immediately I was greeted with a huge hug that just made my heart want to burst into a million pieces. He was genuinely really excited to see me, genuinely really excited to hug me, genuinely really excited to sit and talk with me. Then something funny happened. I was sitting with Calvin at the meal, talking on the park bench and laughing, laughing, laughing. These moments of joy – when you catch yourself in the midst of life and you are struck with complete joy at being exactly where God has you – exactly in the palm of His hand – smack in the middle of His great plan. Calvin shared one of these moments with me today. I felt loved by the Father and loved by Calvin.

He was such a gentleman that he even bought me a soda from one of the other homeless guys that brings a cooler around each week – selling cigarettes and cold drinks. The first thought that comes to your mind when a former homeless man offers to buy you a soda is – I can’t take something from him. . . but then I remember the blessings I feel from simply giving something – however small, material or immaterial – the feeling that God is gracing me with a chance to live out the creed “whatever you do unto the least of these, you do unto Me” and I thought in some way that by denying the soda, I would be denying Calvin that blessing.

So it could be debated whether or not it was a wise choice to allow Calvin to buy me a soda, but it seemed to be what would glorify God in that moment. To realize that Calvin had just as much a right to buy me a soda as I had to serve the men that looped around the block hotdogs and tuna pasta.

Today was a great day. My students drove me nuts. . . . I am getting the feeling of I-can’t-get-out-of-here-soon-enough but then one (not a particularly mild mannered one) was out of her mind with worry as she told the computer teacher that I had a meeting with the principal. So I’m thankful for the computer teacher sharing that, because its stories like that when I see that old, faithful, gracious hand of the Father reminding me that I am exactly in the middle of His plan for me, for this Creation of His. Moments like getting a soda from Calvin and laughing on the park bench in the middle of 200 homeless men and women.

I read something recently about peace. The author shared that in the life of Jesus there was chaos, lack of stability, lack of routine and all the things humans depend on to find rest, but Jesus always worked from a place of rest. It may not always be sitting by a quiet stream that we find rest, but in the bustle of the sinful world surrounding us that we catch glimpses of Who our Creator is, and are reminded of His greatness and the greatness of His plan. . . and we find rest in KNOWING that. In thinking upon THAT. Contentment and rest is not necessarily being ok with where you are – but being ok with the fact that at any and every moment, God is in control of where you are and what you are doing.

We choose to find rest in this. This is one of the great blessings of knowing Him. Finding unique, unexplainable rest.