Wednesday, April 23, 2008

T-Ball Season Begins!

I have been looking forward to this for so long now! I really think that the ballpark is one of my favorite places - I have so many wonderful memories of my own games as well as my cousins and friends and my sisters. We got there at 9:30 in the morning and I immediately went to the concession stand and bought nachos and a coke. The weather was PERFECT and there is just a feeling I get when I am there that feels so good!

I am SO thankful that the YMCA put my two boys on the same team - even if it is just for one year. This makes things MUCH easier. I wish I could play a video of them on the field and in the dugout. Bryce is getting better at the game each time he plays. He takes it very seriously and also has lots of fun at the same time. Ethan, on the other hand, is so clueless, but everyone's favorite to watch. His very first at bat, he hit the ball and while everyone cheered, he ran straight to the 3rd base coach (who happened to be BK!). He is constantly distracted by bugs in the air and on the ground. When he actually does pay attention, he will run halfway across the field to try to get a ball- so the coach as been working with him on staying in his position!!

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Monday, April 14, 2008

Common Ground Ministry Update

Ministry space…. Ahead with the building

Please pray for us as we seek to move ahead on the building of our new ministry house in our neighborhood. This house will provide space we need desperately. The ministry house will allow us to reach out to our community through bible studies, tutoring programs, computer literacy programs, jobs training, back yard basketball, batting cage training, summer camps, and crisis housing, etc. Please pray specifically for the land that we are seeking to build on. The state owns two lots a few houses down from my home. The land purchasing process can take up to six or seven months. Please pray that we will be able to purchase the land within a two month time-period. Also, if you understand the ‘state’ process, if you know anyone who works in this area of the ‘state’, or if you know how to sneak into the ‘state’ while they are out for lunch and make this happen quicker, please let us know. (Please avoid getting caught… or we don’t know you!) Also, please praise God with us for the provision of a builder who has agreed to build the house at cost. This will save us a lot of money. Lastly, please pray with us as we begin to raise the money for this project. We anticipate that the project will cost between $200,000 and $225,000.

Baseball season will end this week

We finally approach the end of a very tough baseball season. Wins were rare and conflict and frustration were not. Please keep praying for the boys who participated this year. I plan to conduct individual follow-up time with these guys over the next few weeks. Hopefully, this will be a good time to collectively interpret everything that has happened this spring, and follow-up on a bible study we did together. I am asking the Lord to open their hearts as I seek to clearly share the gospel with them. We will take a few of the baseball players and other teenagers to Camp Arrowhead in North Carolina at the end of the summer.

Focus in the coming months of summer

Coaching baseball was a great way to serve at the high school. While coaching gave us credibility in the community in many ways, I am very thrilled about the opportunity to primarily work with our neighborhood kids this summer. We have a lot of ideas about how we can connect with them during their summer break. Summers can be a dangerous and destructive time for our neighborhood. The teenagers have told us countless stories of the violence that tends to happen in the summer. Pray for us and for them as we work hard to create gospel and fun-driven ways reach them. We are planning another baseball camp this summer, some short-term local camping opportunities, one week-long camp in North Carolina , an academic summer-enrichment day camp, and many other activities. All of the above will include bible study exposure and exposure to the wonderful news of what God has done for us in Jesus.

Our focus is not just on the kids. We will be using the activities to help us get to know the parents and extended family as well. God has also brought some young men into our lives recently. Some of these men have been involved in various stages of gang activity and have spent some time in jail or prison. We will seek to use the rapport we have built with these guys to share our faith with them. Interestingly enough, it is our time with the younger kids that has drawn the older guys to us. They feel like we are doing something positive for the younger kids; something they didn’t see when they were younger and seem to appreciate our efforts. May the Lord bless this.
-Bryan Kelly

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Friday, April 11, 2008

Family Fun Pics

I figured I would add some recent kid pics - we've been up to some fun stuff lately!

Levi is 8 months old this month and is crawling everywhere and pulling up on everything. Time to "babyproof!" Do you think it's gross that Judah (the dog) likes to lick his little hands?!

We signed the older 2 up for T-ball and the practices have been so fun. Bryce is really good and E is hysterically funny. All the moms call him "busy" - that is a nice way of saying "doesn't pay attention well"! Their first game is tomorrow - you can be sure I'll post some pics of that soon.
My mom got us tickets to the Circus - SO FUN!!
I love this weather lately and I love all the playing outside. This is in our backyard, but my favorite is putting Levi in the exersaucer on our front porch and watching up to 20 kids playing basketball, football and curb ball right in front of me. I really do love our street. Please pray that these boys would know Jesus soon!

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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Encouragment for Moms - 1

"Whoever would be great among you, must be your servant." Matt 20:26

"The world may not applaud us for wiping runny noses, driving in carpools, or talking with our teenager into the wee hours of the morning. And until they are trained, our children might not thank us either. But as we set aside our own selfish desires and glorify God by joyfully serving our children, we are pursuing true greatness according to the Bible. Let us do so with tenderness, affection and with a smile!"
"But what if you have lost your smile? How do you find renewed joy to sacrificially serve and tenderly love your children? Our only genuine source of refreshment comes from God. In Him alone do we acquire fresh strength to carry out this enormous task of mothering."

-Carolyn Mahanney The Feminine Appeal

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Monday, April 7, 2008

A must read!

If you want to be challenged and encouraged today, please read Nicole's Blog entry about this past Sunday. This girl is so humble and challenges me daily with TRUTH! Thank you, Nicole, for making much of Christ, in our neighborhood, in our friendship, and on your blog! Thank you, Jesus, for putting Nicole in my life and for how I know you so much better because her.

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Thursday, April 3, 2008

Dealing with Anger

I thought I would share a very helpful list I am currently meditating on - it is called "25 Ways that parents provoke their children to anger." The list is based off the verses in Eph and Col that speak of NOT provoking your children to anger.
I have realized that there are major anger problems in my two oldest boys, and that the first place I must look for answers is in my OWN life and how i am handling the day to day situations.
This list is taken from Lou Priolo's book, The Heart of Anger. It is a TON of information and to be honest, I got overwhelmed with how much work I am going to have to do to really address this anger issue. So I decided that the first thing that has to change is me. All I have to say is that I am SO thankful that the Lord's mercies are new every morning and that He who started a good work in me will be faitful to complete it. So instead of trying to be perfect (which is a major problem of mine), I will choose to walk in each moment, and WHEN I fail, to seek the Lord and His forgiveness, and then to GET BACK UP and TRY AGAIN!!! Modeling this in front of my children will be the first step up this MOUNTAIN. So I hope this encourages you and if any of you have kids with anger issues, maybe this will be helpful for you as well. I encourage you to get the book because there are verses and wonderful explainations that go along with each thought.

25 Ways that Parents Provoke their Children to Anger

Lack of Marital Harmony
Establishing and Maintaining a child-centered home
Modeling Sinful Anger
Habitually Disciplining while angry
Being inconsistent with Discipline
Having double standards
Being Legalistic
Not admitting you’re wrong and not asking for forgiveness
Constantly finding fault
Parents reversing God-given roles
Not listening to your child’s opinion or taking his side of the story seriously
Comparing them to others
Not making time “just to talk”
Not praising or encouraging your child
Failing to keep your promises
Chastening them in front of others
Not allowing enough freedom
Allowing too much freedom
Mocking your child
Abusing them physically
Ridiculing or name-calling
Unrealistic expectations
Practicing Favoritism
Child training with worldly methodologies inconsistent with God’s word

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Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Common Ground Ministry Update

Here is some of the e-mail update that bryan sent out this week:

Ministry space… direction!

Thank you for praying diligently with us about some very needed ministry space for us. As you may remember, we were considering two options: One was a 4-acre piece of land the other was some land we already own that was considerably smaller. We have been praying about building some sort of community center. We are thrilled to announce that we believe the Lord has led us to a decision on some ministry space… a decision that includes neither of the previous two options we and you were praying about! We have decided to build a large house in our neighborhood a few houses down from ours. This house will be a neighborhood community house. It will possibly be used for after school tutoring, neighborhood bible studies, job development training, community meetings, summer intern housing, arts initiatives, neighborhood movie nights, dance classes, “hood aerobics (yea, you read it right!)”, and many other neighborhood inspired and created ideas. We have been asking neighbors for their ideas about what such space could be used for. The point is to have a house that would provide some smaller, less expensive, and easier managed space (than a community center). We do not want to build a big central structure that would take so many resources to build, staff, and maintain right now. Our hope is to create some space that would not be a burden to the neighborhood and that would allow for some spiritual and recreational development. The back yard of the house will contain an abbreviated full court basketball area, some swing sets, and a small batting cage net for baseball hitting instruction. We are in the process of acquiring two lots for this project. Please pray for us in this decision and in the initial planning stages. We have been talking to many neighbors about this and we have had a lot of support and excitement about the idea.

Carver Baseball update….

We’ve seen one level of adversity after another with the Carver Baseball team this year. The school did not give us any start up money to get the program going this year. Common Ground Montgomery was able to buy a good bit of game and practice gear for the kids this year. We have come to expect tough situations and self-destructive patterns among our players. God taught me a lot about that last year. I try hard not to be caught off guard by the extra challenges that come with coaching kids that grow up in dysfunctional home environments and peer groups. I felt pretty good about my expectations and hopes heading into my second season of coaching.
Two weeks before our first game our batting cage net was stolen. A generous donor provided money for a new batting cage, but there was a significant wait time. We missed three weeks of much needed batting practice because of the theft. When we were about to reorder the new net, we were hit with another blow. We found out that Carver was destroying our field within days of the notice. They wanted to begin to store trailers and equipment on our field for summer school renovations. We not only lost a batting cage, but we lost a practice field. The school promised an alternative playing field and transportation, but didn’t deliver on either. Our kids don’t have cars, and travel to distant fields to practice is not a great option. Nevertheless, we have been using our ministry van and another coach’s car to transport the 16 kids to various places to get a short practice in.
Honestly, it has been a little demoralizing to the guys on the team. We don’t get to work on and practice the things we need to compete with other teams. We had one team bible study a few weeks ago and most of the kids came. They asked sincere questions about what it meant to be ‘an enemy of God’ according to the scriptures and about the significance of Jesus’ work for and our need for reconciliation. Other than this one bible study and a few conversations we have had in the van during late evening drop offs to their homes I have wrestled with feeling like I personally haven’t been that active in sharing my faith with them. I have been so overwhelmed with rescheduling baseball games, finding practice locations, dealing with administration, and other stuff that I found myself just trying to make it through the day, honestly. This is on top of family responsibilities, fundraising, speaking at churches, studying for ordination exams, general CGM responsibilities. Throw in a steady diet of neighborhood crisis! I simply had slipped into survival mode, rather than intentional living for God’s Kingdom.

I am sure we all continually find ourselves here. Going through the motions is a tough and yet natural place to be. The problem for me is that I forgot the end goal and the power available for me in the process. Delta and I were deeply encouraged and refreshed this weekend as one of my mentors preached at a local mission’s conference. I was reminded again, at just the right time that the message of the Gospel has real power bound up in the story of Christ. I was renewed in my desire to be intentional in my efforts to further God’s Kingdom in all that I do. We are actually told that the spiritual forces at work in the world cannot prevail against OUR attacks. This means that the gates of Hades can not prevail against the church. In short, I was renewed in my desire to use this whole baseball experience, in the midst of the adversity, for the greater purpose of demonstrating and sharing the Kingdom of God with these kids. Please pray for me over the next two and a half weeks concerning these 16 boys. I want to use the time wisely for our Lord, and not get caught up in the other stuff. What an incredible privilege I have to be around these guys like this. How easy it is to forget and just exist.

Kevin and Nicole, and Delta and I greatly appreciate your support of CGM. We are able to live in the neighborhood and share God’s love with your support. Please respond with questions you may have about our activities in the neighborhood.

Psalm 34:3:
Bryan Kelly
Common Ground Montgomery
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