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Archive for the ‘WD Kiddos’ Category

His (my) Girls

Posted by hrgarippa on 6 May, 2009

Last night we officially ended bible study. I’ll still be hanging out with the girls, but in a unofficial-come-over-whenever-you-want kind of way. My fearless, wonderful, dear, God-sent co-leader is due to have her baby any day now. I can say that for me the best part of this bible study this year has been co-leading it with Mindy. There were many times during bible study that the girls were just out in left field,  lost in outer space and I’d feel completely inadequate in reaching them and Mindy would finish my thoughts in ways the girls would understand…she’d reel them in from outer space. I am SO thankful for a friend like this and co-lifer (worker just doesn’t fit here).

p1040958                                                  the girls at Pine Cove

Last night at our End of the Year Celebration, Jasmine said to me… “So, Miss Hannah, when are you going to get Pregnant?”

I was mid-bite of my ginormous fajita burrito when she asked this question so I nearly choked….but once I got the food down, I said…”well baby, certainly not until after I get married….and then we’ll see about babies.”

And then Adrienne chimes in… “Oh no you’re not…you’re never having babies…I’m going to be all up in your bedroom after you get married.”

I then very *sweetly* looked at Adrienne and said, “You are going no where near my bedroom when I get married.”

After we got that settled…you know who would be in my bedroom after marriage, Jasmine says, “Why would you need to have kids when you have all of us. We’re your kids.”

Hmmm…how right she is….What a joy it is to love these girls, to pray for them, to encourage them, to be learning with them. They are very much like my kids.

p1040908                                             Jasmine and Adrienne

Please keep praying for them, and for me as I look for ways to keep them engaged over the summer. Summers can be rough around here or anywhere without much to do.

p1040902                                                                                                                                   More of my girls…Kaylene, Destiny, Octavia and Triana…

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

Spring Break 2009

Posted by hrgarippa on 23 March, 2009

So do you remember these cuties from a while ago. I was blessed to hang out with them over Spring Break. We ate Chick-a-lika (as my niece calls it). We read books at Half Price, and we talked. We had a blast. I love these dear ones.



Then later in the week I got to hang out with this sweetie pie…Miss Rissah. Big things are happening her life and I’ll tell you about them soon.


I’ll also tell you about that sweet man who’s profile you can see in the picture up above…How he makes me smile and makes me laugh….and how he has a heart that is after my dear Savior.

Posted in Another day in the hood, WD Kiddos | Tagged: , | 5 Comments »

Oh Forgiveness

Posted by hrgarippa on 5 March, 2009

 We’ve been talking about forgiveness in Bible Study on Tuesdays. It sort of came naturally, when one of the girls said, “If someone disrespects me, I’m going to disrespect them.”


The last several weeks we’ve talked about what forgiveness is and what it isn’t. We’ve walked thru Matthew 18, the parable of The Unforgiving Servant and the girls have had a lot of questions…


“How do you forgiven someone who keeps doing the same thing over and over again?”


“How do you forgive your mom when she abuses you?”


“How do you forgive your dad who doesn’t want anything to do with you?”


“How do you forgive your mom’s boyfriend who molested you?”


And then there is Tree*…she always lightens things up with questions like….


“Is it true that if you don’t forgive someone, your insides will rot and you’ll die a miserable death alone and be eaten by dogs.” Or “Is it true that when you’re sick you smell different?”


(We love Tree…she keeps us focused and has taught us how to steer the ship back on course after getting WAY off course.)


As God would have it, I attended a certain church on Sunday, that I don’t typically go to and the pastor talked about forgiveness…Although his entire sermon I don’t recommend, some of this points were good.


He said, “forgiveness is not an emotional decision, forgetting, reconciliation, condoning, dismissing or pardoning.”


“Forgiveness is…the decision to continually and purposefully commit to being driven by love.”


You can’t love someone when you’re filled with bitterness and rage.


So on Tuesday we decided to have a bonfire and symbolically burn our rage…not our bras. HA!!!


We asked all the girls to write a letter to God listing all the people and the offenses that they needed to forgive. We have a spot in the back of Mercy Street where we have a fire pit and we lit a big ole fire and we burned our letters, as we talked about the freedom of forgiveness.


Oh….the freedom of us being forgiven…as far as the east is from the west, people…God is good.


And then we danced around the fire and sang silly songs, made smores, and young ladies that carry weights larger than most of us have seen in our lifetimes danced in the field as light as fairies.


Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3.13 


*This is my affectionate name for her.

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

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.



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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 »


Posted by hrgarippa on 8 October, 2008

Last night at bible study, one of the girls asked why guys make you think they like you and then act like they don’t care. Then she asked,

“Do girls have more emotions than boys?

Mindy and I looked at each other and answered with a laugh…

“We’re complicated.”

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A Day of Firsts

Posted by hrgarippa on 2 September, 2008

Yesterday was Labor Day and September 1; a day to sleep in, and I was excited. However my doorbell rang at about 7:30, a five year toe headed black boy stood, smiling from ear to ear. He was excited to tell me about his new find, a dog. I quickly wiped that smile off his face as I barked at him about my need for sleep and the time and it being my day off and didn’t he know that it was rude to come over this early. “Go find something to do Jakeem!” I snapped, and I shut the door. I climbed back in bed but thankfully I was unable to sleep as I laid there thinking about his sweet face, his precious brothers standing behind him and his desperate situation.

“Go find something to do, Jakeem,” might just be the exact words he hears from his mother every day, which might be why as a five year old he wanders around West Dallas. It may be why he and his brothers come knocking at my house, the Hill’s, and the Smith’s on a regular basis. So I lay there thinking about these boys that aren’t parented, that aren’t really protected and how I could be so heartless. So I decided to take them to the movies, the cure all for all heartless acts.

Angel (12), Hakeem (9), Najee (7), and Jakeem (5) and I all loaded up into my car and headed to the mall to see WALLe. As I’m driving I hear, “Miss Hannah, is the movie gonna be on a big screen?” Yes. They’d never seen a movie in a movie theater. We arrived at Northpark Mall, a place where I often feel out of place and the first thing Najee says, eyes big as saucers, “What’s that, Miss Hannah?” “That! Najee is a moving staircase also known as an escalator” “Are we gonna go on that?” “You bet!” “I’m scared.” Five minutes later they were all pros and riding up and down with glee.

As we had lunch, a family took notice of these dear ones and the mother came up to me and said,
“I don’t know your situation but we’ve watched these kids and they are so dear, my daughter has this gift card and she would like for you to have it, maybe you can use it to take them for ice cream.”

Completely shocked I thanked her, turned the card over and saw that it was a Northpark gift card for $100.00….that’s a lot of ice cream.

I told the boys and complimented them on their behavior, then asked them what they would like to buy…Clothes they all said.

Just a side note, these kids desperately need clothes, they walk around in impossibly threadbare clothing, this was such an amazing gift from God.

So next on our day of firsts, shopping at Northpark,

Jakeem loved hats.

and they all loved accessories, I had to drag them away from the shoe store.

We finally made it to the movie. WALLe, so cute. When they walked in the theater they could not believe the screen was so big. They were all tuckered out from their big day and Najee and Hakeem fell asleep. It was an incredible day, not just for them but for me too.

Najee really is happy, he’s just sleepy.

Posted in Another day in the hood, WD Kiddos | 8 Comments »

Kamp Pictures

Posted by hrgarippa on 14 July, 2008

The Kamp grounds are beautiful

So is the sky…when it didn’t rain.

Some of the boys…

More of the boys.

My Krew at Kamp (by the way, I know how to spell…but at KAA everything starts with a K)

Jasmine and Summer

Kristina learning to golf.

Chanittie loving every minute of her golf lesson.

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Hallelujah, We’re Home!!!

Posted by hrgarippa on 10 July, 2008

We are back from Kids Across America and an interesting week. We rolled into Dallas around 8am, yesterday and the kids were happy to once again have electricity (their words, I’m guessing this means A/C), TV, and to be able to see their mamas and friends.

The first time I went to KAA I had the typical “mountain top” experience. I loved it, was so upset that we were going home. I truly never wanted to leave the bubble that is camp. The second year wasn’t as great, I was trying desperately to recreate the first year and didn’t take time to really enjoy much of anything. The third year, I was very distracted and was kind of caught up in my own mess.

This year, I needed time. I needed no agenda. So that is how I lived. I spent ridiculous amounts of time just staring at the beautiful Ozarks. I laid in a field for hours in the rain. I went out into the middle of the golf course, in the middle of the night and laid looking at the stars. I went on long walks, talking out loud to the Lord. I read interesting books. I fell asleep in the reading room and on the porch in a rocking chair. It was all bliss.

This year, for me, camp was wonderful, for our kids it was a mixed bag. Many of them struggled with the structure of camp and the long list of rules that they and I found hard to follow. But as I sit here and process the week at KAA I realize that we were all exactly where God wanted us to be, and though there were hard things that we all struggled with He used and is using them for His ultimate Glory.

Here is one example,

The theme of camp this year is Transformers…”Be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” Romans 12.2. Many of the kids, like me have a difficult time with the concept of transformation, some thinking that as they give their hearts to Christ that all the mistakes they make will simply vanish.

At the beginning of the week I gave my girls a journal and told them they could use it to write how they were feeling. “You can write anything, in anyway you want.” I told them. “And I’ll only read it if you want me to.” They thought this was pretty cool, and just like Freedom Writers. I didn’t think they’d really do it, but one of the girls, a girl I call Sweeter, took advantage and wrote how she was feeling. She wrote this,

“I think I’m a Christian, but something is just wrong, I keep messing up. Miss Hannah I think you and I need to have a one on one talk cuz I don’t know what to do.”

I asked her if I could read this to group, because I was pretty sure they were all feeling this way and she said yes.

After reading it every girl raised their hand and said “yes they were confused.” They all thought they understood what it meant to follow Christ, but they just kept sinning and didn’t understand why.

I wish you all could have been a part of the great conversation that followed. The honesty. And the relief in this girls eyes when they realized they didn’t have to be perfect. God loves them right where they are at, and that transformation will take a lifetime, it is all part of the journey they are on.

I cannot tell you how thankful I am that God orchestrated all this so that we could have this very conversation. We have some very precious girls that went to camp with us this year. Girls that are hungry to know more about who their Father is and how it is that He loves them. Please pray for Adrienne, Destiny, Kaylene, Triana, Jasmine, Summer, Ka’Trina, Carmen, Gabby, Shaterrica, Amber, Ashley, Kitty, Saibyan, Keambrea, Dominiqua, Tiara, Maia, and Octavia.

I’ll post some pictures when I get into the office.

Posted in WD Kiddos | 2 Comments »


Posted by hrgarippa on 24 June, 2008

Life is busy over here in the land of West Dallas. We (meaning 9 adults and 80 kids) leave for camp in about a week. We’ll go to Kids Across America (KAA) in Golden, MO. The kids and 5 out of 9 adults are excited.

This will be the fourth summer I’ve been to KAA, and every time I go it is a different experience. One of my favorite things about being away for a week is that there are very few distractions. There are no computers, no TVs, no cell phones. And since I am the kind of person who is so easily distracted this comes as a huge relief to me.

I need a fresh perspective and I need some time to just chill with the Father. I need to see all the beauty and chaos of my life and run to Him…and not my best friend.

Also I’ve been training hardcore to do the treetops at KAA3. They are the hardest of all the treetops and you have to do a pull up before you can attempt this feat. Last year I couldn’t do it. Didn’t even come close. This year I’m hopeful. Melissa’s been whopping me into shape. She’s a drill Sargent, but I’m thankful for her yelling at me every morning. And now treetops here I come.

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