made for His glory

living in pursuit of that

Archive for October, 2008

The Valley of the Sun

Posted by hrgarippa on 30 October, 2008

I’m leaving this morning for Phoenix, The Valley of the Sun. Every year I take a trip at this time for my niece Rachel’s birthday. This year she will be eight. My sister, Christy and her husband Justen have a great big family movie night and invite all their friends. Justen sets up a big screen (sheet) in the backyard, Christy, Rachels (sister and niece), and I make lanterns (paperbags and white christmas lights) and we string them throughout the yard and we have lots of candy, nachos, hot dogs and pizza. It is everyones favorite party and they’ve been doing it since Rachel was two.

This time around I also get to meet my nephew, Joshua for the first time, he is seven weeks old and precious.

I love being an Aunt, it is the best role that I play in life right now. I love these six kids; Rachel, Caleb, Jonah, Malia, Maddox and Joshua so dearly and it is an incredible privilege for me to be a part of their lives and see how God is raising them up to love Him and fear Him. Soon I’ll have a new nephew, due to Daniel and Kendall in December; no name yet. And a new niece, due to Rachel and Ryan in February; Zoe Hannah.

Posted in Mi Familia | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Saying Hi

Posted by hrgarippa on 29 October, 2008

One of my favorite quotes from the back of a Starbucks cup…

“I used to feel so alone in the city.  All those gazillions of people and then me, on the outside. Because how do you meet a new person?  I was very stumped by this for many years.  And then I realized, you just say “hi.”  They  may ignore you.  Or you may marry them.  And that possibility is worth that one word.”
~Augusten Burroughs

I’m not sure about the whole marrying thing…but I do love the possibilities that saying hi to someone, anyone presents you…that is the beauty of stepping outside of our comfort zones and opening ourselves up to others. I love it….it is love afterall, right. Seeing that everyone…everyone…is worthing of our time and the simple word, “hi.”

Posted in Love is life | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Sisters

Posted by hrgarippa on 28 October, 2008

I found this post in the draft file…and wondered why I never actually posted it…

Did you all know that I am blessed with THREE sisters, Christy, Rachel and Mary. Each one unique, each one precious and each one my dear dear friend.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christy, Mary, Rachel and me – In Seattle in 2005

Posted in Mi Familia | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Kindness

Posted by hrgarippa on 27 October, 2008

“Be kinder than necessary,
for everyone you meet is fighting
some kind of battle.”
                                                 ~ Anonymous

Posted in Quotes | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

West Dallas in the Outback

Posted by hrgarippa on 27 October, 2008

Friday afternoon Mindy, Garrett and I loaded up two vans with 20 middle school kids and headed to Columbus, TX for a middle School retreat at Pine Cove Outback Camp. The kids we decided to bring on this retreat were the kids from our Tuesday Bible Studies, so we’ve been getting to know them a bit better over the last several months and we were very excited to spend some serious quality time with them this weekend.  The great thing about this retreat is that Pine Cove had all the logistics covered; the speaker, the program, the food, the activities all we had to do was show up and join in so that gave us great opportunity to build deeper relationships.

The weekend started with a 4 hour drive, in which I heard the song “Bleeding Love,” by Leona Lewis about 40 times…..”I keep bleeding, I keep keep bleeding love.” Garrett created a little scavenger hunt type game that was girls v. boys, they had to find horses, campaign signs, pink cars, cars that started with an “s”, banks, etc and each item was worth different points. Nothing brings out the competitive spirit like a boy v. girl game, that kept the girls occupied. They also had a little photo shoot with my camera, here are some pictures from the drive… 

 

The girls getting ready to roll out

The girls getting ready to roll out

 

Jasmine and Adrienne

Jasmine and Adrienne

Amber and the Sunset

Amber and the Sunset

We arrived safely, and after a little complaining about “there being no one” in my cabin, we settled in. One of the things you should know about this weekend is that for the first time we mixed our kids with suburban kids. We usually bring them to camps that are Urban-focused or where they will be the only group, but this time around we felt it was important and that these particular kids were ready to mix it up with the flavors of the real world. Kids from West Dallas don’t see a lot of diversity, the majority of their neighbors are black or Hispanic and are low income. I believe that if these kids are going to have a future story, if they are going to be able to hope in the future they have to understand what it means to cross racial lines, socio-economic lines and interact well with those who are not exactly like them. This was a very difficult part of the weekend to be sure. Our kids dress differently, speak differently, react differently…they are intimidating in size and volume. One of the girls is 13 and at least 6 feet tall, she towers over me. I asked her once, “Does your mom, hug you?” (Her mom by the way is about 5 feet tall.) She said no. This sweet girl doesn’t look 13, but she is, and needs to be treated that way even though she’s a giant. I hugged her to death this weekend. That is the way it is with all our kids; they might not look or act like they are 12, 13 or 14 but they are. Underneath all the loudness and posturing are hearts that need to be loved and cared for just like any other 12, 13 or 14 year old.

This weekend was mostly encouraging. Our prayer going into this was that we’d bond with the kids, maybe they’d learn to trust us a bit more and that they’d encounter Jesus in a real way. I think we saw some walls begin to be chipped away. I had some great conversations with the girls; honest questions were asked and hopefully answered in ways they can understand or begin to understand.

We had some frustrating moments, one of our boys stole a camera from another leader. The camera that he and his new bride had used on their honeymoon just 12 days earlier. The pictures not downloaded yet, they were needless to say anxious to get it back. He eventually confessed and returned the camera and there was reconciliation, it was great to see. We had girls shut down, get angry over ridiculous things…like what kind of juice they had at lunch.

The most frustrating thing…that we had to bring them home. They loved it there and wanted to stay. These kids aren’t dumb, they know what kind of life exists in their community, in their families. So many loved being free from it all…even if it was just for the weekend.

Here are some more pictures from the weekend… 

Mindy and the girls

Mindy and the girls

Garrett and some boys

Garrett and some boys

All the Girls

All the Girls

Operation Infiltration

Operation Infiltration

The meanest OI force you ever saw.

The meanest OI force you ever saw.

 

 
 
 

Posted in Happy things, WD Kiddos | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

The fight, explained

Posted by hrgarippa on 20 October, 2008

As I mentioned in my previous post, I was stuck in the middle of a fight last week…here’s the story.

Friday the great DISD gave the kids an early release day, which means in this neighborhood they are going to be up to whole lot of nothing. I needed to speak to several kids so it was the perfect opportunity for me to get in touch with them while they were milling about or sitting in front of the tube. As I was I driving through one of the housing projects I came to a “T” in the road I could go left or right, I turned left and noticed a large group of about 30-40 people standing around and one young man with his pants hiked up to his chest…you know so he could move around and could use both hands. He was jumping around yelling this and that, and about 10 feet away another young man, his granny or mom trying to hold him back was yelling back. He broke loose and went after the other young man and they moved toward my car…as did the swarm of people…at this point me and my car were either going to become the boxing ring or I needed to back out fast.

The young men…started punching. And everyone just stood and watched, and then a car pulled up and about 5 more young men ran up…these young men where the all red. The tale tell sign of the Bloods.

Before I tell you anymore about “The Fight” let me tell you a bit about my perspective of gangs in West Dallas. I think that most of the kids in gangs are posers. Certainly there are kids that actually belong to the Crips and the Bloods…but for the most part the young men and women of West Dallas are wannabes or as the police call them…gonnabes. They act tough and wear the colors, and play the part…but they aren’t packin, they aren’t dealin, they aren’t as thug like as you see in the movies. Their parents might be. Their uncles and aunts might be…but most of the kids aren’t that hard…yet.

So…the bloods arrived…either to help or hinder, I’m not sure because I started to back out and go right. Right takes me out of the housing project, and I decided I’d come back and see the kids another time.

I came back…an hour later…and all this activity…still going on. The crowd was larger, the amount of people fighting had grown….but it had moved into the street. There was a larger presence of Blue (Crips) and Red (Bloods) and a much larger presence of kids watching, which erks me (understatement of the year).

After meeting with the kids I needed to see (who it turned out were busy watching the fight), I drove through the crowd, careful not to hit the young men beating the tar out of each other and wondered why I didn’t have Sargent Smith’s number in my phone, he’s our neighborhood cop. But then I heard someone say, “The Law’s been called.” And I saw the Fire Department and the Cops come.

That’s what it took to break this thing up…The Fire Department and the Police.

The kids I met with said, “they fight like this all time, this isn’t anything new.” I asked them why they watch and they said, “we don’t have anything better to do.”

It made me think of my early release days. I would walk home with my friends and we would build forts in our backyards…clubhouse where we would sing and make up dances…obviously this was before we were throwing parties. Most kids don’t have to encounter the kind of chaos that kids in this community encounter on a daily basis.

I pray that these kids would be able to be kids. That they would learn the joy that comes from silliness and laughter. That God would shield their eyes, their hearts, their bodies, their minds from a world that is urging, begging them to grow up way to fast. And I’m excited about some of the new ways that Mercy Street is seeking to help keep these kids…kids. I’m looking forward to telling you about that in the next couple of weeks….so stay tuned.

Posted in Another day in the hood, Hope | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Night at the Roxbury

Posted by hrgarippa on 19 October, 2008

Last night I came home from a great, long day with the middle school kids and their mentors. We tailgated at a park near SMU, played some football, basketball, ate Chick-fil-a, went on a tour of SMU and then watch SMU play Houston College. It was an event that lasted for me about 10 hours and I was exhausted when I came home. Earlier in the day I’d done laundry and washed my sheets something that doesn’t happen very often because I simply don’t have the time and quite frankly I’m just not that dirty. But I’d washed and cleaned and was excited to sleep on their yummy smelling cleanness.

When I pulled into my driveway, at 11pm, I heard music so loud it was deafening. I thought you have to be kidding me…where is this coming from. I looked around and thought maybe this is just one the kids driving by in their supped up SUV, but no. I went into my house and the music was just as loud. My sweet dog, in her kennel, was crying…as was I. We went into the backyard and I discovered the source. My backyard neighbors were having a party…complete with Strobe lights…and the music I kid you not was so loud that it was shaking my windows.

I stood in my living room for 5 minutes, 10 minutes trying to decide what to do. Do I ignore? Do I go over there and ask them to please turn it down a few decibels? Try to sleep through it? Was that possible…and then I became that neighbor. I called the police.

“I’d like to report a noise violation.” I couldn’t believe I was doing this. They asked if I wanted to leave my name…HA…No, I’m a total coward.

I use to throw parties when I was in High School, when my parents would go out of town. My neighbors use to call the police on me. In fact, on one occasion my neighbor Bob pulled out his shot gun and fired it into the air to disperse my party goers.

But that was years ago…now I’m the police-calling neighbor. Oye-Vey!

This morning I asked my brother, Johnny, if he heard the music. He said he missed that part but got home to see the cops arrive, the kids fleeing like cockroaches, the helicopter circling the neighborhood and kids lined up in handcuffs. The neighborhood drug dealer was there so I’m sure there were plenty of arrests to make.  Just to clarify, no one was ever arrested at my parties!

Johnny and I talked about whether or not it would have been better for me to go over and talk with them. He said, no…unless you had a shotgun of your own, these kids are so disrespectful  they aren’t going to turn their music down for a crazy white lady who wants to sleep.

There is a lot of chaos in this community, (Friday I got stuck in the middle of Crips and Bloods fight, [but that’s a whole nother story].) It all makes me tired and frustrated and leaves me with a hopeless feeling, a lot of the time.  But it is in this state of feeling hopeless and seeing all this hopelessness around that I actually begin to hope. It is in the chaos and the sorrow that we see our greatest need.

My friend, Deacon said this…”If one is to proceed in the new life that has been established in Jesus Christ, it is necessary to behold the vastness and sorrow while it remains. To ignore the sorrow of your own fallen state and the sorrow of the world around you is to eschew what Christ has accomplished, is accomplishing, and will finally accomplish. We do not walk in bliss, rather, we daily struggle from darkness into light. We are empowered by the resurrection of Christ and his Holy Spirit. And his conquering over death and the grave has already been established as the “firstfruits” for those of us who are dead and dying. What we hope in, is the consummation of the new birth, where we will live on the renewed earth in new and resurrected bodies for eternity with our redeemer. But until that day comes the cycle of life and death continues, and there is vastness and sorrow among us that we must acknowledge.” And then he says, “Are we willing to behold the vastness and sorrow…and still hope?”

 

Posted in Another day in the hood, Hope | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

Cooking Class

Posted by hrgarippa on 17 October, 2008

 

I love to cook, I’m sure I’ve said that before. Here is how I recently described my passion for cooking to a friend…

 

“Did you ever see the movie, “Girl’s Just Wanna Have Fun,” at the beginning Sarah Jessica Parker stands at the front of her class as a new student and introduces her self; telling where she is from, the schools she’s been to and then she says “I love to dance.” She says it with such passion and conviction that everyone in the room stops and looks at her they can feel its power. That is how I feel about cooking, I love to cook. It’s my passion, my love, my favorite hobby, the way I share my love with others…I love it, and I do it as often as I can. There is little else in this world that brings me joy like bringing people together around something I’ve made.”

 

Lately I’ve been wanting to teach the kids in this community to cook. When I hear things like I don’t know how to use a can opener or I don’t know how to peel a potato, well my heart just sinks. These are basic necessities.

 

So last night Aderika and I had cooking 101. We made Shepherd’s Pie.

 

Here she is learning to peel Potatoes.

Aderika and the peeler

Aderika and the peeler

 Here she is learning to slice the Potatoes

 

the secret she learned, keep those fingers back, use a sharp knife, don’t saw let the knife do its job.

 

She made these mash potatoes mostly by herself, and they were good…and she was so proud.  

She also learned the difference between chopping, dicing and mincing. Aderika’s nickname is Precious, and let me tell you I certainly know why…this girl is absolutely Precious.

Posted in Another day in the hood, Mangia Mangia, WD Kiddos | Tagged: , | 3 Comments »

Stone Soup – Hannah Style

Posted by hrgarippa on 15 October, 2008

I’ll never forget the day when MaMelissa made this soup and I’d stopped in to say hello… something smelled great on the stove. I took a peek and saw soup and in the soup I saw LIMA BEANS, I put the lid back on and thought she is crazy if she thinks anyone is going to eat that. Who by choice puts lima beans in anything? Gross.

But MaMelissa promised that this soup was a hit, everyone in her family loved it…even Neckbone eatin Corn Pop, Daddio and Gaylen love it. So about a year later with a house full of kids (boys) I called MaMelissa and asked her for the recipe, She was driving with kids screaming…i mean singing nicely in the car and so from memory here is what she gave me:

1 pd ground beef
1 small onion
1 packet taco seasoning
1 packet ranch season
1 can kidney beans
1 can lima beans
1 small can green chilis
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can corn

And a disclaimer that she was pretty sure that wasn’t right, but that it was the basics. So I went to work and here is what I’ve come up with. This will easily feed a family of 6.

1 pound ground turkey, why not it’s healthier and you can’t really tell the difference.
1 medium onion – chopped
1 green pepper – chopped, because I had it but you could leave this out.
1 packet taco seasoning, or 1/4 cup if you buy in bulk
1 packet ranch seasoning, or 1/4 cup
1 1/2 t cumin
1/4 – 1/2 t cayenne pepper
1 t chili pepper
2 28oz cans diced tomatoes
1 can chicken broth
1 can lima beans, drained
1 can red kidney beans, drained
1 can corn, drained
1 small can green chilis, drained
Salt and Pepper to taste

I start by browning the meat, then I add the onions. After about 5 min., you can add the green pepper if you are going to use it. If not then add all the spices and mix it up real good, let it cook for about 1 minute. Then add the cans of goodness. I like to drain all the beans and veggies first because it reduces the sodium level in the soup which makes it healthier and it makes more chili like. Bring it all to boil and then let it simmer uncovered for about an hour or longer if you have the time. Serve with cheese and tortilla chips, and if you live in the hood Louisiana Hot Sauce.

Now here is the great thing about this, you can substitute whatever you have on hand….black beans, Cannellini beans, Pinto Beans…whatever. You can even leave out the LIMA BEANS. But let me tell you, I’ve never had left overs when I make this…the kids eat it up….lima beans and all.

Posted in Mangia Mangia | 5 Comments »

The Dancing Fergies

Posted by hrgarippa on 10 October, 2008

Please I beg of you…go here and see my precious nieces and nephews dancing and singing.

Posted in Mi Familia | 1 Comment »