Thursday, November 27, 2008
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
We are having a blast with our Wednesday night neighborhood bible studies. We now have three separate studies happening simultaneously in three different locations. Kevin and I now have 27 boys mostly middle school age involved in our study. We have moved our meeting to our YMCA because we outgrew our house. Delta and Nicole still have 8 young women between 16 and 20 years old attending a study at Nicole’s house, and we are excited to announce that a new bible study began this past week with 8 young girls age 8-12.
Middle SCHOOL BOYS
This week we had 22 boys attend and we discussed the question “Who are you becoming?” I contrasted this with the normal question they hear of ‘what do you want to be when you grow up.’ It is a question that has everything to do with character and growth, rather than some occupation. It anticipates that they are constantly becoming something. IF we as Christians are to be ‘transformed’ into the image of Christ then it is extremely important to ask if Christ is being formed in us. I asked the boys what they thought being a ‘real’ man meant. I asked them if they had ever really seen one.
A ‘real man’ in our neighborhood would probably brag about what gang he is in, his ability to beat up other guys, his physical relationships with girls, about the money he has, about the car he drives, and the rims he has on it, according to the boys. We looked at how Jesus was the only ‘real’ man that has ever existed, as the one who was truly fully human and walked with the Father the way we were intended too. If we were truly united with Christ and ‘re-born’ according to the bible, then we should be engaged in the process of growing to be more and more like Jesus in our character and actions. I kept asking them throughout the night, ‘who are you becoming like’. They kept saying, ‘Jesus’. I asked them if this was possible in their own strength, if they could somehow make this happen by their own effort. It was a springboard to continue to teach them about the need for God’s grace and about the choices they need to make on a daily basis.
DAY ONE WITH THE YOUNG GIRLS
I think some of the younger girls involved in our tutoring program were considering putting out a ‘hit’ on me if I didn’t follow through with finding someone to begin a bible study with them. I kept hearing week in and week out “ya’ll do all this stuff with the boys and have bible study and ya’ll don’t ever do one with us!” Seriously, it was getting a little hostile! I asked them one day who they would like to teach for them. Two of the girls told me that they wanted Abbey and Mrs. Leigh, a mother and daughter who had been coming over and tutoring them. I went to them and asked them if they would consider taking on this challenge. They were humbled by the trust these girls had granted them and said they would pray about it. Long story short, they did the first one Wednesday night. They young girls LOVED it! I took the girls home at the end of the bible study and the entire way they kept singing the song they had learned (at the top of their lungs with the windows down through Gibbs Village Housing Projects), “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the father, BUT THROUGH ME! John 14:6!” It was beautiful.
ALL IN A NIGHT'S WORK!!
I think you will be at least be interested by the night we experienced this past Saturday........
Teaser Hint: A wedding, A party, and time with prostitutes?
We (the Kelly’s and the King’s) had the privilege of being a part of a wedding of some friends of ours that live in the Gibbs Village housing projects. Kevin was a groomsman, Nicole was the wedding coordinator , my 4 year‐old son Ethan was a bible toter/ring bearer, Kaiya was a ﬂower girl, and I had the honor of co‐oﬃciating it with the pastor of the church they had recently joined (a HUGE life change! ) We have known this family for over 2 years now and love them dearly. I have had the joy of doing some marriage and personal counseling with the m over the years . It is a blessing that they have granted us such a place in their lives. We have seen God do amazing things with them. We had a blast at the wedding and reception.
INVITED TO A PARTY
…. Kevin and I left the reception to go to a birthday party in the neighborhood of the mother of two of the boys that have been involved with us for a couple years now. The mother of these boys made a big deal about wanting to see us at her party. The invite was really important to her. Now would be a good time to confess that Kevin and I often go places that are questionable at best, for us to go. We like to hold onto the fact that Jesus went places oftentimes that caused him to be criticized and called a drunkard and sinner (can you imagine where this might be going?)
We showed up at the ‘party’ and were immediately patted down by an extremely drunk and over protective brother of the birthday girl. We walked in to a smoky packed room with uncomfortable stares from many interesting looking men who were wondering who we were and why we were there. Loud music with extreme profanities rang in our ears. I have to mention that Kevin still had his tux on from the wedding and stood out almost as much as my white complexion…. Almost. The two young boys (8 and 7 years old) came flying through the crowd and jumped on us with wild hugs. The birthday girl ran out and hugged us, thrilled that we showed up. One of the men wasn’t sure he wanted us at that party so I told her that I just wanted to stop by and say happy birthday, that we weren’t there to start or cause any trouble, and that we would be leaving. She would hear nothing of it. She looked at us and loudly announced, “These are my people and my family, and you are my people and my family! You belong here.”
She then proceeded to tell everyone in the apartment what we mean to her, what we have done for her kids over the last two years, and how much she appreciates the role we play in their lives and in the lives of the other boys and girls in the neighborhood. It was incredible. The tension faded away, and men and women began to ask us questions and say how much they admired what we were doing and how they had seen us loving the kids over the last year. One father pulled us outside and poured his heart out to us about how we were an inspiration to him and how he wanted to round up some other fathers in the housing project he lived in to come get involved with us in our community. It was unbelievable.
When we came back in, the mother pulled the little boys over and told everyone in the room how much her sons had learned about God and about the bible and dared anyone to ask them what they had learned. I cannot do justice to the story in my attempt to explain to you what a truly humbling experience it was for us to be given this place of honor at such a ‘party’. As we were leaving I was fighting back tears of appreciation to God for the favor He has granted us in the lives of families like this one.
TIME WITH PROSTITUTES
…. It was now about 11 o’clock and I turned down the block towards my home. A prostitute that I have recently been getting to know (in healthy ways, I promise!) didn’t recognize my wife’s van that I was driving and tried to solicit her services to me. It was very cold out, so I went home and warmed up some chili and other leftovers to take back to her. I returned to the corner where she was and we talked for a while. I have spent other nights recently on that corner just getting to know her and two others who work that same corner at night. I introduced myself as a minister who lives around the corner. I have brought food to them multiple times now and continued a conversation with them little by little over time. This particular girl wouldn’t take any food from me before. This time, she was happy to take it. She talked with me for a while and remembered my name, where I lived, and some of the things we had discussed previously. She told me about herself, which house she was staying in, and about the other two girls she ‘worked’ with. They all looked out for one another.
I told her again that I wasn’t out to judge her and that I was just trying to get to know my neighbors. We talked about some of the dangers and struggles she is experiencing. She thanked me for the food and I left and prayed for her on the way home. The next day after we returned from church, I came home to one of the other girls sitting on my doorstep. She said, “‘S B’ gave me some of the chili you gave her last night and told me to come see ya’ll because you might be able to help me. I am really hungry.” Delta made her some food, and we sat on the porch and she poured out her heart to me for a half hour. She just told me her story. She wept as she recounted how men had beaten her, raped her, and even left her for dead. Two of her friends have been murdered in the last few months while working the streets. I told her to come back and see us anytime. She has a few times since. Please pray for A, S, and K as we love these ‘neighbors’.
God has granted us many open doors in our community. The boys and girls involved in our bible studies and tutoring are recruiting other kids to come and we anticipate a lot more kids getting involved. Please pray for us as we are making HUGE and fast-paced decisions on our future ministry space over the next few weeks. Thank you so much for your prayer and support!
The Kellys and The Kings
Monday, November 17, 2008
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Personally, I am into the "honeymoon phase" of this pregnancy - the second trimester - you know, the time where you aren't sick, have a lot more energy, and eat every hour! We will be finding out who this baby is on December 2ND, so you can be sure there will be a post about that! I must say that I am getting excited more and more each day!
Levi is 15 months old and HILARIOUS!! He keeps us laughing with his open mouth grin and all his attempts at communication with us.
Way before celebrating our one-year anniversary in this home, our brand new doorbell gave out. I wonder how many rings make up the life of a doorbell???
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
We have been praying (so have many of you) that God would open up the door for us to build a ministry facility around the corner from our homes. Below is the account of how we ‘heard’ His answer.
A Quick history lesson: First of all, we spent the better part of a year trying to acquire enough land to build on. Property after property became ‘available’ only to become ‘unavailable’ again due to title problems. Finally, a mother of a teenager who had been introduced to Jesus through our ministry, donated an empty lot to us because ‘she wanted something good for the kids in our neighborhood.’ The home she owned on the lot was lost to a house fire years ago. She now lives with her mom 2 houses down. We were able to buy the adjoining lot from a wonderful family who had moved away from the community. When they become aware of what we were doing in the neighborhood they were happy to sell the lot to us. We were committed also to getting overwhelming neighborhood support for such a facility.
We have spent the better part of 2 years building relationships with and serving the precious people in and around our neighborhood. He are some examples: We have provided volunteer coaching for the football and baseball teams at Carver High School and held bible studies and meals for as many as 60 students weekly. We have provided recreational ‘fun’ for the kids wandering our streets, having baseball camps, paintball outings, a summer boy’s camp, a trip to the mountains of North Carolina for camping, a girls camp, and various other excursions. We now have after school tutoring to what has grown to 35 kids. A year ago we relocated our families into the Washington Park neighborhood and have opened up our homes to many kids and families who have become like family to us. We have had various ‘sleep over’s’ in our homes with kids we are getting to know and support our local YMCA by transporting and signing up kids for sports teams with our own children. We have also provided Christian counseling to families and kids, and starting a local Christmas store that allowed for neighborhood parents and grandparents to buy discounted new toys for 165 children. We also have begun doing housing renovations for families who could not afford to make the potentially expensive repairs to leaking roofs, dangerously faulty wiring, and bad plumbing and now hold bible studies for boys and girls age 6-19 in our homes through out the week. We have worked hard to live with and listen the desires and needs of our neighborhood. The next step was to have the property rezoned to allow us to build on it.
God ‘shows up’ through our community! We went before the city Board of Adjustment yesterday evening to plead our case to be able to build the building in a residential area, and to ask for variances on some of the ‘set backs’ and parking regulations for such a facility. Our argument was that we have a major need for such a community space, that our community wants and needs it, that our families and kids walk to the facility, or that we pick them up and bring them, and that our proposed set backs would match what is already existing in the neighborhood.
We spent the last week or so getting the word out that we needed community support to come with us to the meeting. I learned a lot about the mistrust of government as so many people told us they would sign anything we produced in support, but that they do not go to ‘meetings’! Also, we saw a number of folks tell us all along they were ‘coming’ and then not show up. As I reflected on this with one 74 year old resident, he told me that people all over this neighborhood talk about how bad it is, but that they have resigned themselves to doing nothing more. This may come as a result of the hopelessness that has set in over time. He looked at me and said, “You come by to get me and I will be here! I won’t let you down.”
We made calls all day yesterday and personal visits to remind folks about the meeting. Kevin and I drove two vans around and picked up those who said they had no way of getting to the meeting. As time got closer, I realized that some of the ‘key’ people that I thought would and should come would not be showing up. I prayed that God would bring the ones he desired to work and speak through. I called a grandmother who has care of her two grandsons due to some very sad and devastating circumstances and she said this to me. “Don’t you worry, I have already prayed and God says it will be done! You just pick-up me and my boys and we will come and do what needs to be done! This is a done deal! “
I stopped by the house of the woman who donated the land and she said, “Oh, don’t you worry, I will be there, just pick me up… and I will bring some others. That land is just sitting there and our kids need somewhere like this! Ya’ll are doing too much good in this neighborhood for them to say No!” I then called our neighborhood watch/association president and she said, “I will be there… let me make some calls and get some others there as well.”
We showed up at city hall with 22 people from the ‘hood. Kevin led us in prayer before we walked in. They Board leader called our petition to be discussed. Our architect argued our case and then they had me come to the front to answer questions. It was a little grueling, and we were challenged with a good bit of concerns the board had. One board member seemed very displeased with our request and presentation and at one point even said it seemed as if we were trying to ‘sideswipe’ them by saying we were a ‘church’, which had to do with the type of zoning we were requesting. I explained that we, as a ministry, saw ourselves as the ‘church’ in that we care about the various needs of our community, not just that which is considered spiritual only. I also explained that the very nature of our ministry was to unite the various congregations in Montgomery to serve those living on the west side of the city. They then opened the door for those from our community to speak. That is when I saw God ‘show up!’
Before the leader could even finish getting the phrase “is their anyone that would like to comment on this…” out of his mouth Mrs. Punkin was already walking up to the front!....“Yes I got some things to say!” She introduced herself rather clearly and emphatically and said, “I donated this land to them for this building and this is our neighborhood… and these are our children… this is our community, and we need something positive, and we want to build! And our kids need something like this! Bryan and Kevin having been doing a good thing in this community and our kids need a way of staying out of all the trouble”. As she turned to walk back, there were “Yes’s!” and “Uh Huh!s” and “Amen’s” and “That’s right!’s” from our crowd. Then, Mrs. Rice walked up.
“I am the Grandmother of two boys and these guys are mentoring and tutoring my grandsons. They are positive role models and doing great things for our community. Everyone is always looking down on the west side and focusing on all the negative stuff… and this is some thing positive that is going on. We need this, and we want this. “Again, came the crowd responses, maybe even louder, during and after her testimony. Then, came Mrs. Harris.
“I am the head of the neighborhood association and watch committee and we are very much behind what these young men and this organization are doing. We have seen some great things happen in our community through this ministry and wish to show our support for this facility.”
Three more people raised their hands and were on the way up to the front to talk when one of the board members said, “I make a motion to grant the request to build and allow the variances,” and then there was an “I second” and a vote was held…. A unanimous vote in our favor! I could hardly hold back the tears. Our families applauded and we walked out overjoyed! Please celebrate with us over this and praise and thank our great God who opens doors like these.
Now, please pray for us and there is the SMALL matter of raising the $350,000 to build the facility over the next 5 months! Praise God from whom all blessings flow! May He ‘show up’ again through the generosity of His people!
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Please be in prayer for this baby and for me as well, as I have been having terrible "morning sickness" ALL DAY LONG!!! I already know what you are thinking.... "that means it's a GIRL!"... well, let's just say I won't be at all surprised if this baby is a boy:)
Sunday, September 7, 2008
Sunday, August 31, 2008
This is another picture from Natalie. I absolutely love it. I think I will be buying this camera! Don't worry, i know that I won't get pictures like this just because I have the camera, but maybe I can learn.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
The latest "thing" at my house, is that several of our neighbor boys have taught Bryce how to do the "underarm poot" - you know, the thing where you put your hand under your armpit and pump your arm thus producing a noise that makes everyone laugh. It took Bryce a while to get it, but now he is a professional. Just what I wanted in my house.
Well, it wasn't long before I saw Ethan attempting to learn the same trick. Then one day, I heard it. He was SO proud. He would pump his little arm, and out would come THE NOISE. Then I happened to notice that THE NOISE was a little bit delayed... the arm would stop pumping and out would come a little....pfft.
"ETHAN!!! Are you REALLY pooting????"
"Are you sure? "
Turns out, Ethan is able to pass gas, for real, on demand. Just what I wanted in my house.
"Ethan, How are you able to have that much gas???"
"Cause God made me that way!"
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Monday, August 11, 2008
Friday, July 25, 2008
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Well, by this time tomorrow night, I will be sleeping away my final pill that will help me recover from my Lasik surgery.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Monday, July 14, 2008
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Within the last several weeks, Levi has FINALLY:
*sprouted 3 teeth
*takes about 3-5 steps (then gets so excited that he sprawls out onto his face)
*wears a size "4" diaper, and as you can see below, he is quickly catching up to Ethan's height!
*said his first word...."Hec-tor".... one of his 2 favorite teenagers - also seen below!
I can't believe he will be "1" in just two weeks.
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Thursday, July 3, 2008
Sweet Brothers! This was taken at my Grandma's house during my cousin's wedding in May.
Backyard fun - playing in a mud puddle!
Just a word - if you aren't having a date night with your spouse - start this week! It has been so wonderful for us! Thank you, Nic and Kev!
Just wanted you to see a "before" pic of my house (when it's clean)in the mornings. See the next pic for 5 pm on a Friday afternoon!Don't you just love a full house!! I wish the picture of the tile floor had been more clear so you could see it,....
And now, just some favorite pics of the boys fishin in the mountains: