The West Side Story

The West Side Story

Please Stand By: We Are Experiencing Technical Difficulties

It is hard to believe that it has already been a full month of living on full time support! It seems to me that walking with God often looks like doing things you never thought you could do and being amazed by the deep satisfaction that comes with existing at the center of His will for your life. While I am still battling my pride when it comes to living life so completely dependent on the body of Christ, I can already see how much learning and growing has resulted. The truth is: I need to be humbled. Regularly. The great irony is, sending out my support letters has proven to be The Task That Never Ends. Originally, I was simply taking a long time to write them—wrestling with that same concept of knowing how to ask for support without sending everyone on a guilt trip or implying some kind of expectation. But when I finally finished them (all 11 versions of them, featuring 11 different kids) and was ready to send them to the printer, it was brought to my attention that I might need to have the kids’ parents or guardians sign a photo release form. While trying to get said forms signed, I learned that I cannot use the stories of kids connected in any way to DHS as a way to raise money—and virtually all of our kids fall into that category. The only available next step? Scrapping the entire thing.

While these seemingly constant setbacks are not particularly enjoyable, it has been an incredible blessing to see how God has provided even without a support letter in circulation. And more good news: I’ve finally finished my second version! If you’ve requested one, it will be coming your way soon! If you haven’t requested one but would like one, let me know! I’d love to send it your way, even if it’s just to hear more about what God is doing through The Harvest in West Tulsa.

The kids ministry itself is transitioning to the school year set up. We will still be studying discipleship on Wednesday nights, but Sundays will now be focused on stories in the Bible. I hope to help the kids see the stories as something they can relate to—real people who went through real trials and made real choices—instead of seeing them as caricatures or cartoon characters. Our numbers are growing (as they tend to during the school year, though I have yet to figure out why), and we will be serving dinners again on Wednesday nights!

To continue praying for the kids:
Ashley (11): Pray that Ashley would grow in consistency.
Destiny H. (9): Pray that Destiny would grow in maturity.
Payton (8): Pray that Payton would grow in emotional health.
Airraneec (8): Pray that Airraneec would experience God’s peace in her heart.
Frankie (11): Pray that Frankie would transition well as she moves away.
Mya (9): Pray that Mya would find her value in Jesus.
Antwana (8): Pray that Antwana would grow in confidence as a child of God.
Isaiah (11): Pray that Isaiah would feel better after being sick.
Davion (10): Pray that Davion would grow in honesty.
Elliot (11): Pray that Elliot would desire to be more involved and connect with our volunteers.
Kasandra (11): Pray that Kasandra would understand that she is made new in Christ.
Tymia (6): Pray that Tymia would grow in her knowledge of God.
Anthony (11): Pray that Anthony would have the strength to make wise choices.
Destiny (7): Pray that Destiny would put others before herself.
Alexx (7): Pray that Alexx would understand how loved he is.
Madisen (8): Pray that Madisen would grow in thankfulness.
Vitoria (8): Pray that Vitoria would feel included.
Emily (6): Pray that Emily would grow in selflessness.
Van (4): Pray that Van would be protected.
Xander (3): Pray that Xander would grow in discipline.

In summary, I just really love my job. Being called out of my comfort zone is quickly becoming addicting. Complacency becomes less and less appealing each day as I turn instead to the daily adventure of interruptible life on the West Side. Thank you all, deeply, from the bottom of my heart, for allowing me to serve in these ways and be a part of this work.

To send in support:
The Harvest Community Church
2232 S. Nogales Ave.
Tulsa, OK 74107
(Designated to Mariah Shaw or the kids’ ministry)

Prefer the internet?
www.WestSideHarvest.com
Click on the “Church” button, and there is an online giving button on the right, top hand corner of the page.
(Designated to Mariah Shaw or the kids’ ministry)

If it seems easier to just talk to me about it, then feel free to do that!

Walk in divine unity.

Jump into the River

Friends, I am excited to be sharing my heart with you again after such a long absence! When I last wrote, my focus was on “Satyagraha,” or “insistence on truth”. This concept has since carried me through countless ups and downs in West Tulsa, not to mention my graduation from John Brown University! After finishing up the last round of finals of my undergraduate career and walking across the stage to receive my diploma, I immediately left for a short mission trip to Brazil. I returned home long enough to unpack my suitcase—and repack in a backpack! I then journeyed to Ireland, England, France, and Spain with my college roommate as a “last hurrah” and graduation celebration. During this season of major life change, I’ve been seeking God about what He would have me do next. I am passionate about many things, which has oftentimes made it difficult for me to narrow my focus and settle on something as simple as a single next step. With much joy, excitement, and thankfulness (as well as a few nerves), I can officially announce that I will be serving this next year as a part of the full time staff at The Harvest Community Church! I will be both the Children’s Ministry Coordinator and a Ministry Intern!

I would like to share a bit of what God has been teaching me during this season of transition—what has led me to commit myself to West Tulsa this next year. It started with a seemingly simple New Year’s resolution, summed up in the phrase, “Jump into the river”. This meant that I was resolving to be an active participant in what God was doing in my life and in the lives of those around me. I would try to live one day at a time, being fully present in each, and minimize the amount of metaphorical “kicking and screaming” that happened when God was leading me into uncomfortable territory, pushing me and stretching me. In this way, I hoped to experience the fullness of a life lived how God intended it to be, investing all of myself in His plan. Then, recently, I read a book that caused me to ponder what I wanted to spend my life on—what really matters. Wherever I go from here, it will all come down to choices, and I don’t want those choices to be self-focused. Success is not about me achieving some particular goal, or even a series of goals over the course of my life; success is about obedience, faithfulness, and servanthood.

Already I can see how God might be able to use some of my strengths as I serve in West Tulsa, but I can also see (all too easily) how I will be challenged in areas of weakness. One such area is my ability and willingness to raise support. The Harvest community is one of high poverty, meaning that there is no money with which to pay those who have committed to serving full time. Consequently, being on staff necessitates raising full time support. In light of this, I come before you humbly, hungry to share my vision, hopeful of spreading this contagious love for a community where I can already see the thumbprint of Christ. I ask for your support financially, yes. As uncomfortable as it makes me, I need money to live. But, just as desperately, I need your prayers. I need people to catch the vision and to care.

Words cannot adequately express how thankful I am for those of you who have already been a support and encouragement as I drove back to Tulsa twice a week while going to school in Arkansas. It has been a beautiful example of the body of Christ, functioning in the way it was intended to, working together to achieve His purposes. That just blows my mind. Truly, thank you. I leave you with my mantra for this upcoming year, stolen from the same book that I reference earlier. May it be a source of motivation and encouragement to you, as it is to me.

“Lord, you washed their feet; you washed away my sins. I will serve you and your church. Amen.”

To continue praying for the kids:
Ashley (11): Pray that God would encourage Ashley as the Emmaus team leaves on their mission trip. She really wanted to go, but isn’t quite old enough.
Destiny H. (9): Pray that Destiny would grow in leadership.
Payton (8): Pray that God would supernaturally protect Payton’s mind and heart.
Airraneec (8): Pray that Airraneec would grow in peace and patience.
Frankie (11): Pray that Frankie would choose to love, even when she’s frustrated.
Mya (9): Pray that Mya would have a blessed birthday.
Antwana (8): Pray that Antwana would feel special and valued, even with her older sister in the same group.
Isaiah (11): Pray that Isaiah would continue to grow in his knowledge of Christ.
Davion (10): Pray that God would comfort Davion as he processes his grandma’s passing and struggles in his family.
Elliot (11): Pray that Elliot would feel included at kids’ church and would become more involved.
Kasandra (11): Pray that Kasandra would continue to grow in maturity but still be able to enjoy being a kid.
Tymia (6): Pray that Tymia would grow in obedience.
Anthony (11): Pray that Anthony would desire to be different from what he sees all around him.
Destiny (7): Pray that Destiny would grow in emotional and physical health.
Alexx (7): Pray that Alexx would grow in respect for authority.
Kimberly (9): Pray that Kimberly would feel taken care of by the people in her life.

To send in support:
The Harvest Community Church
2232 S. Nogales Ave.
Tulsa, OK 74107
(Designated to Mariah Shaw or the kids’ ministry)

Prefer the internet?
www.WestSideHarvest.com
Click on the “Church” button, and there is an online giving button on the right, top hand corner of the page.
(Designated to Mariah Shaw or the kids’ ministry)

If it seems easier to just talk to me about it, then feel free to do that!

Walk in divine unity.

Satyagraha

Satyagraha is an Indian term meaning “insistence on truth”. During this exceptionally full week in West Tulsa, I have had to cling to that concept. We have celebrated many small victories, but also battled several heart-breaking realities. Through it all, God has been teaching me that it is imperative to insist on truth. We serve a God who never loses.

This past Wednesday, my friend Jonathon from JBU came to help out! His willingness to serve reminded me of how much God has blessed the kids’ program with servant-hearted volunteers. Zina, Cody, and Caleb are the three people who have been with me from the very beginning and are still continuing to serve with inspiring consistency. Cassidy has been driving over with me every Wednesday of this school year, which came as a wonderful surprise in the beginning and never ceases to encourage me. He is a full time student with no previous ties to The Harvest community, yet he has thrown himself into service there wholeheartedly. Jannis, my new German friend, is interning at The Harvest during his gap year, and he diligently joins us for kids’ church each Wednesday. Even my sweet mom spends her Sundays with us! Shelby is the fearless trailblazer who agreed to start a kids’ program with me when it was only the two of us, and even as she studies abroad this semester she sends videos back to the kids. Last but certainly not least, I have been blessed by the dear friends who have come even one time to see what we’re all about and support me in my love for the people of West Tulsa. God has used each of the people I’ve mentioned to undertake and sustain His work in the lives of these little ones that I love so deeply, and I am overwhelmed with thankfulness.

As blessed as I am by the people I got to work with this Wednesday night, it was still a bit of a struggle. The kids are generally more hyper mid-week, but they were especially so this time around. I had to have a “come to Jesus” moment with the girls in my small group, telling them honestly that they were hurting my feelings by talking when I was talking and asking them what we needed to do to fix the problem. This has been an ongoing issue when we break up into our groups each week. Thankfully, the girls responded really well to my seriousness. They immediately got quiet and began to offer suggestions about ways they could be disciplined. It was precious! I have high hopes for a more respectful small group time this coming week.

On Saturday we had another girls’ day! When we showed up at the church, none of the girls were there, so we decided to go house-to-house for the first time. We ended up with seven girls, which is a larger group than usual! Making Nutella puppy chow was the activity of choice, which is essentially putting melted down chocolate chips, Nutella, and powdered sugar on Chex Mix cereal. We had a lot of fun making it together! Afterward, Zina and I were supposed to take two of the girls out for some quality time, so we went to their house to check in with their mom. When we pulled up, their dad, shouting at us through the open door, greeted us. The girls ran up to him, explaining that Miss Mariah and Miss Zina were taking them out, and he shouted at them that they weren’t going anywhere. To solidify his point, he shouted out to us in the car that we could just leave—the girls weren’t coming. The door was shut, and Zina and I sat there in shocked silence. Less than a minute later, the girls’ mom came out. She apologized for her husband’s behavior, explaining that he is abusive and that they are trying to run away. In fact, they planned on leaving the state in the next couple days.

Sundays are usually easier days in terms of discipline, and this week was no exception! The kids behaved well in the service, and then moved into the Safe Room where we had a great discussion. Cody was in charge of leading that morning, and he had the idea to let the kids guide where the conversation goes. One of our little boys wanted to share about the change he has seen in himself—how he is happier now, and less angry, because of Jesus. When he finished sharing, the kids immediately brought the concept of “family” back up, which we have covered a couple of times already. They wanted to know if it was true that God is our Father and that we are all brothers and sisters. I got to talk to them about our Abba who never leaves us, never hurts us, and never withdraws His love. Praise God—our Protector who rejoices over us and is with us when we’re at church, at school, or at home.

After church, Zina and I finally got to take the two girls out, along with one other little girl. We spent quality time together at Purple Glaze, painting and chatting. Our two girls from the day before shared that they were very sad because they were moving away that day as soon as I brought them back home. The other little girl shared that she was also sad, because her dad just got out of jail for abusing her mom and has still not come back home. In the face of all this, I have tried to cling to truth this week—and insist on it. God is bigger than these struggles. I can trust Him with the lives of these precious little ones. He is drawing them to Himself and healing the generations of hurt in West Tulsa.

To continue praying for the kids:
Ashley (11): Pray that God would bless Ashley’s time on the upcoming Spring Break mission trip.
Destiny H. (9): Pray that Destiny would get to spend more time with us.
Payton (8): Pray that Payton would be able to deal with the hurt in her life in an emotionally healthy way.
Airraneec (8): Pray that Airraneec would grow in her understanding of how much God loves her.
Frankie (11): Pray that Frankie would grow in leadership.
Mya (9): Pray that Mya would feel connected to the kids’ church leaders.
Antwana (7): Pray that Antwana would experience God in an undeniable way.
Isaiah (11): Pray that Isaiah would become a unifier.
Davion (10): Pray that Davion would be encouraged by the growth in his life and continue to press forward.
Elliot (11): Pray that Elliot would know that he is valued.
Kasandra (11): Pray that Kasandra would feel authentically connected to the people around her.
Kimberly B. (9): Pray that God would heal Kimberly’s heart.
Tymia (6): Pray that Tymia would desire to be different from those around her.
Anthony (11): Pray that Anthony would see himself as God sees him.
Destiny (7): Pray that Destiny would experience joy at church with us.
Alex (7): Pray that Alex would grow in peace.
Kimberly (9): Pray that Kimberly would grow in respect.
Trisha (11): Pray that Trisha would know that she is valued for who she is, uniquely.
Alicia (10): Pray that Alicia would be protected.
Brittany (12): Pray that Brittany would be supported and encouraged in her transition into her teenage years.

Guys…thank you. Coming to see what we’re doing at The Harvest is so encouraging. Helping out with the kids makes a huge difference. Reading and sharing this blog helps to spread the word in ways that I could never accomplish by myself. Your prayers sustain the ministry, and your giving literally allows me to keep coming twice a week. Truly, truly, thank you.

To mail in a check:
The Harvest Community Church
2232 S. Nogales Ave.
Tulsa, OK 74107
(Designated to Mariah Shaw or the kids’ ministry)

To do it online:
www.WestSideHarvest.com
Click on the “Church” button, and there is an online giving button on the right, top hand corner of the page.
(Designated to Mariah Shaw or the kids’ ministry)

If it seems easier to just talk to me about it, then feel free to do that!

Walk in divine unity.

Work Hard, Play Hard

Greetings from Siloam Springs! After having to cancel church several times due to the undesirable winter weather, it was wonderful to finally be back with the kids again! This week was one where we got to have a lot of fun, but also one where I saw a lot of growth in the kids’ sweet little lives. They have been working on filling up an attendance jar with marbles (one marble per child goes in the jar each time they come), and they finally achieved their goal. This meant that their long-awaited attendance party was finally upon us! We made the kids sno cones (and not just any sno cones—the best in Tulsa! Thank you, Josh’s Sno Shack!) and played a fun new game involving eggs, Ziploc bags, and pillows. We put an egg in a Ziploc bag and safety pinned the bag to the kids’ back belt loop. Then came one of the most epic pillow fights I’ve ever been a part of! The kid with the last unbroken egg was the winner. Once the victor had been established, we moved on to Freeze Dance! If you’ve been keeping up with these blogs, you know by now that no celebration is complete without a game or two of Freeze Dance. Finally, I asked if any of the kids wanted to say their memory verses to me. The last several weeks we’ve had one or two kids say their verse, but this week we had about seven or eight! That’s a pretty encouraging improvement! Also, far fewer kids had to be disciplined! Of course, we were having a party, but it was so refreshing to simply enjoy them—such a blessing to see their surprise and excitement. God is good, and He is at work in these kids’ lives, be that in their work, their play, or any other area.

Sunday brought with it our annual Harvest Family Meeting. This was essentially a time of vision casting—making sure that each member of our church family is on the same page. The goal of these yearly gatherings is to refocus on foundational truths of our faith, address needs in our community, and agree together about how to meet those needs as best we can. My pastor and I agreed that it would be worthwhile to attempt having the kids stay in the service, and they actually did a great job! None of them caused a distraction, and they got to hear about what God is doing in the community that they are just as much a part of as any adult. Afterward we played tag outside together in the gorgeous weather while the grown-ups set up the family meal inside. To end the morning, we got to fellowship together over yummy food! It has been a blessed week in West Tulsa, and I am excited to see what God will continue to develop in the coming weeks! As always, I’ll keep you posted!

To continue praying for the kids:
Ashley (11): Pray that Ashley would find her value in who God says she is instead of in what others say about her.
Destiny H. (9): Pray that Destiny would press into authentic relationship with God and others.
Payton (8): Pray that Payton’s heart would be protected as she walks through a difficult time.
Airraneec (8): Pray that Airraneec would understand God as her defender.
Frankie (11): Pray that Frankie would experience emotional healing.
Mya (9): Pray that Mya would enjoy her role as a leader in the group and take advantage of it.
Antwana (7): Pray that Antwana would form lasting connections with people in her church family.
Isaiah (11): Pray that Isaiah would experience the joy of the Lord.
Davion (10): Pray that Davion would be able to come more consistently.
Elliot (11): Pray that Elliot would experience God’s irresistibility.
Kasandra (11): Pray that Kasandra would feel as valued by our volunteers as she truly is.
Kimberly B. (9): Pray that Kimberly would grow in God’s peace.
Tymia (6): Pray that Tymia would desire to know God more.
Anthony (11): Pray that Anthony would surrender every area of his life to Christ.
Destiny (7): Pray that Destiny would feel wanted and included at church.
Alex (7): Pray that Alex would desire to break away from the harmful lifestyle he sees every day.
Kimberly (9): Pray that Kimberly would be a good influence.
Trisha (11): Pray that Trisha would grow in humility.

Thank you all so much for supporting me—by praying, by reading this blog, by encouraging me, and by giving so generously of your finances. These things have truly blessed me in more ways than I can express. If you are interested in participating in the financial support adventure that has been happening in my life, the information is below!

To mail in a check:
The Harvest Community Church
2232 S. Nogales Ave.
Tulsa, OK 74107
(Designated to Mariah Shaw or the kids’ ministry)

To do it online:
www.theburghchurch.com
Donate through PayPal
(Designated to Mariah Shaw or the kids’ ministry)

If it seems easier to just talk to me about it, then feel free to do that!

Walk in divine unity.

Out with the Old, In with the New

Hi there! It appears that a new year and a new semester have crept up on me, which must mean that it’s time for a new blog post! The end of last semester was a whirlwind of final papers and exams, followed by a Christmas break that didn’t boast a much slower pace. I was able to visit family in South Carolina, catch up with friends from Tulsa, and even make it over to Thailand for a week—the down side being that I missed my kids in West Tulsa! It is good to be back!

In keeping with the theme of newness, the kids’ church staff met over the break to talk about which of our ideas from the past semester we’d like to keep and which we’d like to change. I want to let you guys in on some of the things we talked about so that we can look forward together with excitement! Also, if you have any suggestions, I would love to hear from you! Some of the new ideas include breaking up into small groups, designated by age, on Wednesday nights, and moving into a bigger room to accommodate the rapid growth we’ve been experiencing! This summer we had 5 or 6 kids who would come consistently, and now we have about twenty to twenty-five regulars! The volunteers also took the time to remember our overall vision and set some specific goals. We want to continue to be a source of consistency, patient discipline, and unconditional love in the kids’ lives. We want to deepen relationships with individual kids, and we want to be a part of the healing that is taking place in their hearts and minds. This will look like an increase in one-on-ones (one volunteer taking out one kid for some quality time), the addition of guys’ days to the always-popular girls’ days, and the broadening of topics that are discussed on Sunday mornings. Sundays, being only twenty minutes long, usually consist of a discussion about a character trait of God, but we wanted to free that up to include any topic that God puts on our hearts.

This past Wednesday night was the first time that we got to try out our small groups! The kids seemed to quickly embrace the idea, appearing almost eager to tackle the Bible story of the evening from the vantage point of their own age group. Each of the volunteers had a story about the kids seeming to really get the story on a deeper level than before, which is great to hear! Of course, with it being the first Wednesday night service we’ve had in a while, the kids were also super hyper! It seemed set up, from the beginning of the night, to be a discipline-heavy time together, and those are never my favorite. However, while a good chunk of the kids had to be “reset” several times, nothing escalated as I anticipated it might—thank goodness!

This Sunday was difficult for several reasons. For one thing, I was exhausted. Last semester, I recognized from the beginning that I was in desperate need of God’s strength and sustaining hand in order to accomplish any of the things set before me. I have never felt more like an instrument in my life than I did last semester. The path set before me was God’s. The ability to begin and continue down that path was God’s. Any fruit resulting from the journey was God’s. This semester, however, I came back to campus with confidence resulting from past successes. I felt ready to tackle my final college term. I have been quickly humbled. Praise God for His goodness—I have become thoroughly exhausted within one week and can now repent of my desire to take matters into my own hands, recognizing God’s plans and purposes as His own once again, and not wasting any more time. Another, greater, difficulty has been the receipt of some sad news regarding two beloved little boys from the neighborhood and from the kids’ church program. Their parents have been abusing them—recently so badly that both boys were taken to the hospital and the parents were arrested. All that we know is that they are in a safe facility under the care of a DHS case worker, but we have been provided with precious little information apart from this. As one of the people who cares about them deeply and desires to provide them with a safe and loving environment, it is heartbreaking to hear this news. I could not love them into safety. I could not rescue them. At the end of the day, I still had to send them home. But thankfully, I can trust my all-powerful God with their lives, believing that He loves them more than I ever could. I have to remind myself of similar things on a daily basis with these little loved ones: I am only an instrument. God’s plan is better than mine. He is perfectly worthy of my trust. He is the ultimate protector and defender, and He has specifically promised to protect the weak and oppressed. Praise God!

To continue praying for the kids:
Ashley (11): Pray that the quality of time we have together is more important than the quantity, as I finish school.
Destiny H. (9): Pray that Destiny would desire to press deeper into Christ.
Payton (7): Pray that Payton would view selflessness as strength instead of weakness.
Airraneec (8): Pray that Airraneec would be able to come more often.
Frankie (11): Pray that Frankie would take advantage of her opportunity to lead by example as one of the oldest kids in the program.
Mya (9): Pray that Mya would grow in patience.
Antwana (7): Pray that Antwana would take strides to make her faith her own.
Isaiah (11): Pray that Isaiah would feel understood by the volunteers when he comes to church.
Davion (10): Pray that Davion would understand that his real life is more valuable than any story he could tell.
Elliot (11): Pray that Elliot would desire to spend time with us as we desire to spend time with him.
Kasandra (11): Pray that Kasandra would maintain her soft heart without becoming easily offended.
Kimberly B. (9): Pray that Kimberly would grow in obedience.
Tymia (6): Pray that Tymia would come more consistently.
Anthony (11): Pray that Anthony would desire to be a leader—and a servant leader at that.
Destiny (7): Pray that Destiny would experience emotional healing.
Alex (7): Pray that Alex would know God’s peace.
Julian (9): Pray that Julian would be surrounded by guardian angels.
Gerard (7): Pray that Gerard’s heart would be protected.
Kimberly (9): Pray that Kimberly would persuade others to obedience instead of disobedience.
Trisha (11): Pray that Trisha would find her value in who God says she is.

My friends, I cannot accurately express how much your support means to me! Your prayers, your words of encouragement, and your donations are incredible blessings. I would also love to hear any feedback you have to give! If you would like to be a part of this support process, here’s the info for you:

To mail in a check:
The Harvest Community Church
2232 S. Nogales Ave.
Tulsa, OK 74107
(Designated to Mariah Shaw or the kids’ ministry)

To do it online:
www.WestSideHarvest.com
Donate through PayPal
(Designated to Mariah Shaw or the kids’ ministry)

If it seems easier to just talk to me about it, then feel free to do that!

Walk in divine unity.

There is no greater mission field than the mind and soul of a child.

Dr. Margo Turner
Playing with whipped cream on Girls’ Day!

Playing with whipped cream on Girls’ Day!

Sundays, Wednesdays, and Girls’ Days*

Hello friends!  Let me begin with a huge, heartfelt apology.  I am so sorry that I dropped the ball on my weekly updates!  Consistency is limitlessly valuable, and I plan to be more consistent in my writing from now on.  Thank you for bearing with me and continuing to care about the kids of West Tulsa!

 

The atmosphere of Sunday mornings has become almost shockingly calm!  In the past, Sunday mornings have presented the biggest challenge because we don’t have the kids with us for very long, causing everything to feel pretty fast and furious.  Now, however, we are able to have fairly substantial conversations about God’s character traits!  I say “fairly” substantial because the kids are tackling pretty big concepts; for example, we talked today about God being our Redeemer.  That’s a lot to wrap your mind around!  But as we challenge the kids, they continue to rise to the occasion.  We are then able to share “prouds and sorries” from the week, which are moving slowly but surely away from things they think are cool to things the kids are truly proud of and sorry for.

 

Wednesdays have remained at a consistently hyperactive level since school started back in August.  After being in the classroom all day, the kids are ready to release their energy when they get to church!  This past week we talked about Solomon—his wisdom, his wavering dedication to God, and his 700 wives (+300 concubines, for a total of 1,000 women.  Guess which part of the story the kids remembered most?)!  I was reminded this week that the point of Wednesday night is not to keep the kids quiet.  While this may seem obvious, it is incredibly easy to slip into making quietness the ultimate goal—pursuing it over intentional time with God and with each other.  I am thankful for this realization and opportunity to reprioritize!

 

A couple of weekends ago we had another girls’ day!  We made cinnamon sugar pancakes with eggs and fruit!  The event was actually making this breakfast together, which provided fun and creative quality time.  On the way to The Harvest, Zina, Shelby and I took a moment to pray that God would have His way and bring the girls He wanted to be there.  This put me in the right mindset, because only one of our little girls showed up.  As discouraging as that might initially sound, it ended up being exactly what needed to happen.  The little girl that came has been struggling lately with needing attention even more desperately than usual.  She is hurting because her dad recently left her and her mom—and this is by no means the first time.  As a result, she has been acting out a lot.  This quality time, this opportunity to be showered with love specifically directed at her, was encouraging and healing and comforting.  Praise God—His plans for the day were so much better than ours!

 

This weekend one of the little girls had her eighth birthday!  To celebrate, we started with another girls’ day.  Eight girls showed up, and we set up a big tent inside in the kids’ area where we had bagels and fruit for breakfast!  Then we went into the Safe Room and told ghost stories!  After taking the kids home, the birthday girl and I went to get manicures and pedicures!  This was such a sweet time with her, and it was a blessing to be a part of her feeling so loved and special on her big day.  We went to lunch with Zina afterward and just enjoyed each other’s company.  It was a wonderful day!

 

To continue praying for the kids:

Ashley (11): Pray that Ashley and I would get some quality time together soon.

Destiny H. (9): Pray that Destiny would know that she is loved for who she is, specifically and uniquely.

Payton (7): Pray that Payton would know God as her Father.

Airraneec (7): Pray that Airraneec would grow in obedience.

Frankie (11): Pray that Frankie would grow in kindness to others.

Mya (9): Pray that Mya would make her faith her own.

Antwana (7): Pray that Antwana would see how real God’s love is in the love she receives from the kids’ church leaders.

Isaiah (11): Pray that Isaiah would grow in leadership.

Davion (11): Pray that Davion would grow in honesty.

Elliot (11): Pray that Elliot would grow in consistency.

Kasandra (11): Pray that Kasandra would see the intrinsic value in her sweetness.

Kimberly (9): Pray that Kimberly would have peace in her heart.

Tymia (6): Pray that Tymia would grow in focus.

Anthony (11): Pray that Anthony would grow in inner strength and self-control.

Destiny (7): Pray that Destiny would experience God’s grace and acceptance.

Alex (7): Pray that Alex would grow in patience.

 

We haven’t seen Julian, Gerard, Scotty, or Cole in a few weeks.  Please pray that they would stay safe and come back to us soon!

 

Destiny D., Breanna, Monique, and Hayden have moved to Mississippi.  Please pray for their safety and speedy return, as well.

 

Your support, prayers, and encouragement are truly gifts, friends!  Thank you for taking this journey with me and being an active part in it in whatever way you can!  If you would like to be a part of this support process, here’s the info for you:

 

To mail in a check:

The Harvest Community Church

2232 S. Nogales Ave.

Tulsa, OK 74107

(Designated to Mariah Shaw or the kids’ ministry)

 

To do it online:

www.theburghchurch.com

Donate through PayPal 

(Designated to Mariah Shaw or the kids’ ministry) 

 

If it seems easier to just talk to me about it, then feel free to do that!

 

Walk in peace!


*My titles up to this point have been based on song titles from the musical West Side Story!  I’m sure that they may have seemed random and obscure, so I wanted to explain them—as well as officially announce that that theme for my titles has been officially used up!  On to titles that are (potentially) clearer!

 

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10

Thank you, Shelby Stillwell, for using your incredible talent to put this video together!