This is the place I call home….the place I find beauty, the place I see hope, and I feel love…
A few weeks ago I took a couple of my boys to dinner outside of the city, one of the best parts of my life include exposing my kids to places, opportunities, experiences that they might not otherwise experience if my volunteers and I don’t expose them. We’ve gone to the pumpkin patch, the farm, the art museum, out to “fancy” (to them) restaurants, train gardens and many more things. A few Thursdays ago was another one of those opportunities, we had a missions team visiting us from Lighthouse Baptist Church in Macon, Georgia normally on Thursday nights I have a few kids over for dinner and we’ll prepare dinner together, eat together, pray together, clean up together and then play games or watch a movie or tv show together before they all retreat home for the night, some weeks I’ll treat the kids and we’ll go out to dinner, well that night our Missions Team treated us to dinner, and as we were driving there some of the comments out of the boys mouths made me giggle, one of them informed me he doesn’t like going to these kind of restaurants, “Ms. Colleen I don’t like these kind of places, because you have to look at a flier (menu) and pick something, at least at the Golden Corral, I can just get a plate and go…”
But what struck me the most was as we pulled back into the neighborhood we pulled right up to the police searching a car for drugs, and a few men sitting on the side of the road in handcuffs arguing with the officers, as soon as we pulled up the boys both at the exact same time said, “We ain’t in the county no more…” my heart broke and for some reason tonight this incident hurt more than any other time I think about it, it’s reality that these kids live in a world where police chases, car raids, home raids, drug deals and shootings are so real, and life. But for a few hours they were able to escape that moment, they were able to be kids, they were able to experience quiet times, we even took the long way home so they could see some back roads and look at the stars, to hear them gasp and say, “Wow, I’ve never seen the sky like this…” send chills down my spine and fills my heart with joy, that these pre-teen and teen boys are in awe of the beauty that God has created for us, that so many of us take advantage of.
This weekend I had that same kind of moment that the boys had, I love my life, I love the gift God has given me in ministry, but I also sometimes feel overwhelmed by it all, I sometimes need a time out in the “county”, I sometimes pull into the neighborhood and think man, “I ain’t in the county no more.” This weekend I escaped, took a time out, rested my mind, my brain and my heart, I slept in a quiet hotel all alone…where there were no noises but the dinging of the elevator, I spent time exploring a new quaint town, hiking in the mountains, viewing quiet cities from high overlooks, at the end of the day I felt like I understand the feelings that rush through my kids, when they get to escape even for a few minutes, and then come back to it all…
Last night as I came home and reconnected to the world, reconnected to my city, and my neighborhood I read that over the weekend there were 21 shootings, 8 of them fatalities, some of them still remain unidentified as I reconnected and read this news my heart broke, I stopped what I was doing and prayed, prayed for my neighborhood (one of the shootings was just a few blocks up and over and took the life of an 18 year old girl and four others were wounded), prayed for my city, prayed for revival, prayed for my kids, prayed that Jesus would show up in huge ways in our city. This morning as I was preparing for our missions team to arrive at the church, one of my kids came outside with his basketball to play and we started talking about life, about our neighborhood, about his friends who are getting caught up in the ways of the streets. He told me that as he walked through the neighborhood this weekend that he felt scared, and his mom told him she didn’t want him playing outside anymore. My heart broke again that these kids have to worry about playing on their streets in their neighborhoods.
But as I came home last night I understood, that while I had a moment of anxiety about coming homet, I know that I am in the arms of a loving God and that He has gifted me with a gift of a wonderful ministry and life sharing moments of anxiety with my kids, sharing moments of mourning and sadness with them and moments of joy when they decide they want to know more about Jesus, moments of realization that they can go to college they can be whatever they set their minds too and that there is something better for them.
Tonight as I am winding down from my day, I am praying for my kids, I am praying for one of my favorite boys who I watched be hauled away in handcuffs today, I am thanking God for the little boy who told me today that he wanted to know more about Jesus, I am praying for the other three boys who asked if they too could know more about Christ. I am praying that these boys will grow up into young men of Christ, that they will understand that there is something more for them. Tonight as I go to bed I am continuing to pray for my city, for my heart, for the place I call home. Would you join me this evening in praying for the kids, for my home, for our city?