Camping

I’ve never really wanted to take our girls on a camping trip.

Oh, they’ve been suggesting it forever but it has always been one of those ideas that we answered with “Uh yeah, that would be precious! Let’s think about it and next year or maybe next decade we will do it and it will be lots of fun!”

Because honestly, most of our girls are from the inner city. They have not been camping. They are scared of gnats and ants and dirt and they think we live on a farm because our neighbor has a goat in her backyard. We have to have family counseling for a week when there is a thunderstorm or when someone finds a hair in their food. They generally know how to endure life on the streets and do all kinds of things you’d rather not know about, but they can’t … I don’t know, step on a spider, for instance.

Do you want to take a group of unprepared, scared teenage girls into the wilderness to survive for several days? No, you do not. And neither do I.

Ok, all joking aside – I love camping but I’ve just had my reasonable hesitations about undertaking a camping adventure with our kiddos.

This year, however, we have a group of girls who have brave little hearts and who were QUITE persistent with their request for a camping trip. They asked me approximately 10.5 million times if we could go and we figured it was now or never.   

So we went. And it was beautiful.

It was like a breath of fresh air in a year that has not been bad but just…hard.

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Three days in the wilderness with girls who were thrilled to be there blessed my heart more than words can say. They smiled and laughed and ran and yelled. We biked and canoed and fished and cooked over a campfire. We rode in the back of the truck and looked at the stars. I saw peace on their faces and joy in their hearts. In quiet moments I thought about what they’d overcome already just to be here. I thought about their fears and their pain and their struggles and I saw it all wash away, just for a little while. I thought about the extraordinary way God is weaving His love and His plan through all of us – how He’s changing our lives, how He’s making us more like him. I looked around at the beauty of His creation and I saw it reflected on the faces of some of the people I love most.

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I’m glad we went camping. And maybe, just maybe, we’ll do it again next year. 

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Communion

“I really had to pray hard before I took that shot this morning,” she said.

A full minute passed in legitimate confusion before realization hit and a laugh escaped even as tears filled my eyes. One of my babies who, bless her heart, had hardly been in church a day in her life – was referring to the communion we had taken at church that morning. To her, the little plastic cups of grape juice that were passed out with great reverence could only be compared to actual shot glasses used for alcohol.

Growing up with an alcoholic father and an absent, drug-addicted mother, she’d experienced everything but communion.  Until now.  Until this tiny representation of the precious blood of Jesus touched her lips.

She had to pray hard before she took it, because Jesus had moved her heart, months ago. She knew the weight of his grace. She understood the price he had paid. And though she doesn’t know how to put it into words, the blood that fills this little shot glass is changing her. It is teaching her to love. It fills her with hope. It covers over dark nights and neglect and shame and abuse. It means that He’s going to do something absolutely beautiful with her life. It means she can break the cycle. It means she is free.

The First Few Years

My agenda for my life ended when Hope Home was born. I wanted to cling to the plans I had made but God interrupted them with His. Isn’t it beautiful when he wrecks our dreams with his own and gently guides us onto the path he has set out for us?

I was intending to move to South America the minute I graduated college – that had been my desire for as long as I could remember. Instead, during my senior year, Jesus overwhelmed my heart with a burden for the girls I’d been mentoring in our local juvenile correctional facility. They were hurting and lonely and so many of them needed a safe place to live.

Doors were opened as God weaved a vision through the hearts of a few people and a transitional home was established. During the past 5 years, I’ve been privileged to live and serve  in this ministry which has captured my heart and has grown me so much.

Life here has been a tremendous journey. It is a constant challenge but it brings joy to my soul. Every day we face pain and trauma and addiction and disappointment alongside our girls. The lies of the enemy run deep and he doesn’t give up easily. But we are fighting a winning battle. We get to comfort the broken-hearted. We look into eyes that are darkened with shame and we see hope. We lift up their faces and speak truth into the dark places of their hearts. We stand by them when they fall and celebrate with them when they overcome obstacles. We try to love them like Jesus loves us. We fail often, but as God extends his grace to us, we extend it to the ones he’s entrusted us with. We pray for lives to be redeemed and we praise him for every victory so far.

I am honored to be here and I am looking forward to sharing some of our stories with you. Thanks for reading.

-Chassidy