This is Our World

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This is our neighborhood where over 40% of people live at or below the poverty level (compared to 17% statewide and 15% across the country)

This is a world where more than 90% of families are single parent  families.

The median annual income is $22,000.

Medical care and school systems are very poor, and the crime rate is one of the worst in the entire southeast.

There are some nice houses in this area.  Back in the day it was a nicer area.  Drugs have ravished this community.

If it were possible to take a nice house here and place it in a neighborhood just five miles from here where there are better school, retail within walking distance, better medical care, and more safety, the value would increase by 3-4 times.

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There are impoverished neighborhoods much like this all across the country. The needs are so deep and so extensive. They aren’t the most beautiful, clean, or safe places to live; but they are full of people who are created in the image of God, children who need an advocate, adults who need someone to help them find their way–all people who need Jesus.

There’s this catchphrase that I’ve heard quite a lot in the blogging world.

Do for one what you wish you could do for the world.

For a long while it was just that to me–a nice inspirational line.  As I began to feel my complete inadequacy here–especially in times when I couldn’t do anything at all–it gave me a bit of courage.  We can all be a part of life giving change if we offer the little we have to give. God can take that small investment of love or money or time and use it exponentially for His glory.

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Do for one what you wish you could do for the world.

End of Summer Fun

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There’s nothing like the end of summer to make you really enjoy a good swim.  When you’ve started back to school already, and the days aren’t blistering hot you know those swimming days will be over way too soon.

Michelle and her family came to see us in September, and as usual we packed the time full of fun–partially because there is always such a huge list of things we’d like to do together and partially because the boys will bounce off the walls if we don’t. =D

So there was lots of swimming–three times, at least–and roller blading and playing with Legos and a visit to IKEA, a picnic, an IMAX movie on sharks (the look of wonder on the boys’ faces was just priceless.  Ian sat with his hand over his open mouth for the first 10 minutes and Liam’s mouth was open at least half that long).

What else? Well, there was some downtime and shopping–oh, yeah, Michelle and I must’ve broken a record for time spent in one Goodwill.  Haha.  Our cart was loaded with treasures, and we nearly clothed her family for the winter.

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One evening we walked the Beltline and hung out at the skatepark for awhile.  The Beltline has become one of my favorite places in the city. It’s several mile long paved path that is perfect for being active along with other Atlantans.

 

 

 

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A Warm Breakfast for Autumn

Mornings are telling us that fall is here for real. At our house this looks like slippers on feet and jackets at the breakfast table and faces less ready to smile.

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A warm breakfast in the belly brings its own kind of comfort and sounds like the kind of thing that would be comforting on cool fall mornings. In reality the boys are disappointed that they aren’t eating cereal and frown a little more.

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Breakfast is the most important meal of the day they say. Breakfast also happens to be that meal we get to before we’ve quite woken up. I’m trying really hard to get our days off to a healthy start and to cook things the boys enjoy.  They don’t all love oatmeal (and honestly I don’t either). It works for all of our diets, though, and foods like that are rare and worth keeping.

I tried to jazz up oatmeal a little and came up with this combination. It’s a nice fall breakfast: Oatmeal (instant) prepared, sprinkled with chia seeds,  and drizzled with maple syrup.

I convinced the boys to eat chia sees by

1) calling them sprinkles (worked for Ian and Paxton)

2) telling them that Aztec Indians used chia seeds to give them energy to run all day long. I convinced them that they would help them to grow stronger and have more endurance.  (worked for Zachary and Ian)

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I recently won a gift basket from Quaker Oats which included a huge box of maple flavored individual oatmeal packages.  The sugar content is too high for me to consider it a healthy breakfast, so I’ve mixed two packages with 1/2-1 c. of regular quick oats.

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Oatmeal topped with cinnamon, chia seeds, and maple syrup

My goals for food are:

Healthy, tasty, economical, easy, attractive

This dish pretty much covers them all.  It’s not super healthy with the oatmeal being instant (it will quickly turn to sugar in the body), but I’ll let it pass.

Toasted pecans, almonds, or coconut would be a delicious addition to this oatmeal.

Eden Village III

A PLACE OF REFUGE. A REMINDER OF OUR OWN WEALTH.

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Steve’s work at City of Refuge is the reason we moved to Atlanta and is such a central part of our life here.  Hopefully I can start representing it better here on the blog.  I’m not able to be at the mission much, but I’m slowly collecting pictures of the programs.

City of Refuge has so many great programs.  One of their main ministries is housing women and children.  Each of these units are an “Eden Village,” a place where everything a homeless woman needs can be provided.

Eden Village I houses mothers with children in hotel style rooms.  Eden Village II houses single women in an open dorm room.  Eden Village III is the placement center for the city of Atlanta and is featured here tonight.

There are many ministries in Atlanta serving the homeless community.  Each ministry has a unique set of focus, requirements, and maximum length of stay.  When a woman is on the streets, she can can come to the assessment center here where her needs are assessed and she is paired with a ministry that can best serve her and that has a space available.  Some places accept older children or only children up to a certain age.  Some ministries are available for helping women with psychological challenges.

When women are waiting for a space to open either at City of Refuge in Eden Villages I or II or at another ministry they can stay here in Eden Village III for up to four weeks.

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Some of you ladies from Abbeville will recognize a few of these quilts. :)

Standing at the entrance to this room is a moving experience.  There is a sense that the women here have so little and yet they have so much.  They have little privacy, not much space, few personal belongings–much less the extra pretty things we women love.  Think of what it might be like being a mom with a child who cries at night knowing that the cries might wake a dozen other people.

These women have so much, too. After being homeless a warm, soft bed, a shower, a safe place to stay, a place to sleep where they and their children won’t be woken and asked to move, knowing they will have food to eat at the next meal, having several feet of space that is “their own,” are valued.  Even better is having hope–knowing that help is available, that they will have a chance to get back on their feet.

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I stood looking at these rooms–two single beds pushed together to create a bed big enough for a mama to share with her babies, at the neat rows of little shoes, at the boxes of diapers and the baby food jars–a mini home all a part of home shared with so many other women. and thought of all the things they don’t have that I take for granted.  It looked like so little. I said to myself, “Some woman is thankful for this tonight.”

It’s seriously convicting because who of us hasn’t dealt with discontentment that someone else can buy nice things for their house that we can’t afford or just a little jealous that someone else has their mom and sisters close by for friendship and support? Sometimes I feel like I don’t have much, but standing in that room made me feel so rich.  Even tonight I glance up and see so many things around me that these women are missing–lamps for soft lighting, rows of books, toys, throw pillows in colors that I chose because I liked them, space, a candle.   Yes we are so very, very blessed and spoiled and thankful.

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The women who sleep here are strong women who have made tough choices. Survivors.

 

All I have needed

Thy hand has provided.

[May] We Go Back…

STRAWBERRIES & CREAM. STREET PHOTOGRAPHY. JAZZ FESTIVAL
This week I’ve gotten a chance to edit some pictures from this spring and early summer, so I’ll be sharing some of those tonight.  I don’t even remember what happened in May besides for these two weeks except for finishing school.  It’s crazy how memories can just leave you and it’s the times you’ve documented in pictures or words that you really remember.

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In May I had done a two week fast/cleanse.  We expected that I would be very weak, so we hired a mother’s helper.  Lucinda had been here twice before–once on a missions trip during her senior year, and once two years ago when she and another friend came for a week to study photography.

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Lucinda has such a sweet, servant heart and she brings so much CHEER, too.  She worked so hard while she was here–thoroughly cleaned our house, played with the boys, cooked lots of food for our family to eat and to freeze for later, and took care of all of us.  We loved having her with us.

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One evening she and I spent an evening out and included some time for street photography.

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I enjoyed chatting with this man for awhile.  He gave me his email address, and I sent him these images. I’ve seen him playing since and hope to connect with him again sometime.

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One of the last nights she was here we took the train into Midtown for the jazz festival.  It was a nice leisurely, evening excursion.  I was finished with the fast at that point, but so weak that I was walking super, super, super slowly.  Lucinda would run ahead and chase the boys as we walked through the park toward the festival.  Paxton tagged along trying his best to keep up with them and Steve and I strolled along previewing what it must feel like to be old and still in love. :)

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We sat surrounded by hundreds of people and listened to the music as the sun slowly sank below the horizon.  I could go to events like that just for the fun of people watching, but it’s also fun to soak in a bit of culture and have a big open space where the boys can run.

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Lucinda took the picture of the three boys.^ I love it.

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Steve is so strong for me and I love how this picture depicts how protected and safe I feel with him.

 

 

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As we walked back to the train station we passed a man sitting alone playing his own jazz.  (literally. :)) The festival was fun, but this scene seemed to fit the tunes.  I call this The Lone Jazz Player.

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An Atlanta family's story: learning to love God and others

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