Monday, October 30, 2006

Got him!

At least one of them. I finally got the nerve to dig into my coat closet from which I have been hearing mouse noises and finding droppings. When I got to the bottom box I found him and knocked him over the head with my flashlight! I don't think I have ever prayed more sincere prayers for help!

Then I found this hole in the corner, just like in the cartoon Tom and Jerry which my grandson has been watching nonstop. But my Jerry was not nearly as cute! So now I have barricaded the hole. I know, I need steel wool. But I'm hoping to poison them out of my walls first.

Today I had the victory! Well, until I came home and found more droppings and half of the poison gone. And the battle goes on.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Deception of Beauty

"Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised." Proverbs 31:30

Saturday, October 28, 2006

The Breakthrough Benefit

It has been awhile since I have actually written anything in this blog so here I go with some thoughts.

It is the busy time of the year at Breakthrough. Last Friday was our benefit. It is always a great feeling for me when I see the ballroom at the Hyatt Regency on Wacker filled with 1,000 guests, the big stage with media screens on each side, the beautiful centerpieces, the lighting, and especially the Breakthrough youth choir on stage sounding better and more confident every year.

I had 12 minutes to speak, although I think I stretched it to about 15. When I sat down I thought of all the things I wished I had said. I failed to tie into our theme, which was that when something is healthy it grows and needs to be repotted to remain healthy, and I didn't even mention the Family Plex, the next project in our 2010 plan. I wanted to talk about the 7 graduates from our Youth and Family Services program who entered college this fall, in a community where fewer than 5% have a college degree and nearly half drop out of high school.

I did get the opportunity to introduce Alice, a woman who has been freed by God from a thirty year addiction to heroin and all of the other things associated with life on the streets. She is very courageous about giving her testimony because she is so grateful to the Lord for restoring her. She has a beautiful story.

Dr. Joseph Stowell spoke. He was wonderful as always.

Since this was our largest event of the year we had high expectations for what we would raise financially. We were trying to meet the Kresge Foundation challenge to finish our five million dollar capital campaign and finish our building renovation project. We needed to receive $500,000 in gifts and pledges to get to 4.6 million. When we get to 4.6 the Kresge foundation will give us the last $400,000. We raised $378,000, which is wonderful, but it fell short of our goal. Now the challenge is to come up with that $120,000 shortfall so that we can get the building built without having to cut into our general operating funds.

While fundraising for the ministry never ends and can be burdensome at times, it is also an opportunity for us to find new friends who will get behind what we are doing and experience the joy of giving with us. It is a real test of my faith and I am praying that God will show us what to do.

Anyway, it seems ridiculous to complain about raising $378,000! That is a ton of money and I am grateful. I was reminded by a friend that God usually supplies the manna way... just enough for today. That is what keeps us on our knees and utterly dependent on the Lord day by day.

Of course, right after the benefit, when we were struggling with what to do about the shortfall, and I was feeling like maybe this job is too much for me and I should hand it over to someone more capable, I heard about a CEO position with a global orphanage ministry that would pay three times my salary! I have to admit, I was tempted. But I love Breakthrough. It is not a sacrifice to stay. For now, I know this is where I am supposed to be.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

War on poverty slips from election agenda

Here's a link to a yahoo news article with that title.

Wise words

On the side of a CTA bus advertising Loyola University,
"Social justice is not just for rock stars."

From Desmond Tutu,
"We can never win the war on terror as long as there are conditions that make people desperate."

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Asleep in the Light

I was reminded today of this song by Keith Green, especially the verse, "God's calling and you're the one, but like Jonah you run. He's told you to speak, but you keep holding it in. Oh can't you see it's such sin?" Ouch! Are you tawkin' to me?!!
Do you see, do you see
All the people sinking down
Don't you care, don't you care
Are you gonna let them drown

How can you be so numb
Not to care if they come
You close your eyes
And pretend the job's done

Oh bless me Lord, bless me Lord
You know it's all I ever hear
No one aches, no one hurts
No one even sheds one tear

But He cries, he weeps, he bleeds
And He cares for your needs
And you just lay back
And keep soaking it in
Oh can't you see it's such a sin

'Cause he brings people to your door
And you turn them away
As you smile and say
God bless you, be at peace
And all heaven just weeps
'Cause Jesus came to your door
You've left Him out on the streets

Open up open up
And give yourself away
You see the need, you hear the cries
So how can you delay

God's calling and you're the one
But like Jonah you run
He's told you to speak
But you keep holding it in
Oh can't you see it's such sin

The world is sleeping in the dark
That the church just can't fight
'Cause its asleep in the light
How can you be so dead
When you've been so well fed
Jesus rose from the grave
And you, you can't even get out of bed

Oh, Jesus rose from the dead
Come on get out of your bed

How can you be so numb
Not to care if they come
You close your eyes
And pretend the job's done
You close your eyes
And pretend the jobs done

Dont close your eyes
Dont pretend the job's done
Come away, come away, come away with me my love
Come away, come away, come away with me my love

Monday, October 23, 2006

Health Care Issues

Saturday at our BUILD class we discussed issues of health care in impoverished communities with Bruce Miller, COO/CFO of the Lawndale Christian Health Center. He talked about the growing number of undocumented immigrants who are now eligible for medical coverage through the state "AllKids" program, but often don't want to give their information for fear of being deported. Yesterday's Tribune carried at article about that very issue. I'm thankful to have a ministry in our community like Lawndale that provides health care for $15 a visit, no questions asked.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Women's Ministry Day at the New Landmark Missionary Baptist Church

I was privileged to bring the Scripture meditation this morning at the New Landmark Missionary Baptist Church. I got to sit "in the pulpit" (ie. on the platform) beside Rev. Cy Field's wife, Yolanda, who serves as Breakthrough's Director of Women's Services. It was an incredibly inspirational service. Yolanda preached. She is always great. And the worship was outstanding! I loved the "Litany for Women" which was read responsively. It was very unlike anything I have ever heard in churches from my background. Black churches do not have to be reminded that social justice and community service is intrinsic to the gospel.

All knowing God, who sees and helps to bear the pains and disappointments of every black mother, we ask that you extend to our mothers comfort and strength.

We pray for women everywhere. They give us life and love and hold our families together. Amid changing family structures we remember mothers young and old, single mothers and fathers, homeless mothers, grandmothers, godmothers and surrogate mothers.

We pray for women who suffer due to unemployment, insufficient housing and poor healthcare. Heal black mothers, Lord, as they have often experienced mistreatment and witnessed the harsh abuse of their children, husbands, siblings and parents.

Awesome Savior, fortify our sisters. Continue to make them a refuge in the time of trouble.

We pray for mothers and their children, as violent crimes and drug abuse conspire to tear the fiber of black families.

We pray for women of old who have bent their backs cleaning homes, picking cotton and working by the sweat of their brow. We thank them for their determination and their belief that education is a door to liberation and success.

God, empower women to enrich the lives of their families. Aid them as they teach sons and daughters determination and the value of investing in the future.

Women have always been activists and leaders, teaching us how to live and making our communities better. We remember poet and writer Frances E. W. Harper who birthed a crusade against lynching during Reconstruction.

We remember Rosa Parks who birthed a bus boycott, and Shirley Chisholm who blazed the trail to high public office for black women.

We cherish Sisters who teach, write or preach the truth and who open the minds of children to limitless possibility. We celebrate women who are homemakers, educators, authors and pastors, who formulate ideas, expend creative energy and inspire young people to become leaders.

They have been a loving presence in business, play, in the arts and in all of life.

Because women taught us that "the Lord will make a way out of no way", we have the inheritance of a powerful spiritual legacy. We give women bouquets of gratitude and honor. Kind and Gentle Savior, ever bless them.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Sara Groves Awakening

I attended a Midday Connection Tea today with Craig Muller from Warm Blankets and singer, songwriter, Sara Groves. I had heard of Sara Groves but didn't know much about her. After today, she has become one of my favorite artists, not just because her music is great, but because of the message she brings. She said that while working with Charlie Peacock on an IJM project, she felt like she came out from under a rock and became aware of justice issues. She spoke with great humility about the importance of becoming educated about the issues and getting involved. The lyrics from one of her songs has been echoing through my head, "your pain has changed me". Great stuff! If you don't already download Midday everyday as a podcast, it would be worth your while to download and listen to this one from the Midday web site. If you can't listen to the whole show at least listen to the 23 to 25 minute section. She said so much about what I believe in those three minutes. Here's a quote from Mother Teresa that she used...
We can do no great things, only small things with great love.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Prayer: Enjoying the Attention of God

My friend, Keri Wyatt Kent, has written wonderful article on prayer for Christianity Today. It reminded me of how important it is to my grandkids when I give them my attention as they play. They are constantly checking to make sure I am watching as they try some new thing. To think that God is longing to give us that kind of attention is very encouraging. So I'm going to leave this computer right now and go enjoy God's attention! Thanks Keri, for using your gift to inspire!

Akleelah and the Bee

One of my blog buddies, Sharla Earlandson, suggested that I blog about Akeelah and the Bee, A Starbucks sponsored, Lionsgate movie about an eleven year old girl in Los Angeles, who faced her fears and insecurities, and won the national spelling bee. It is an inspiring and heart-warming movie that we took all of the kids in our Breakthrough Youth and Family Program to see because of the positive influence we believed it would have in their lives.

We, at Breakthrough, have connected with this story on many levels, especially in the way the community came together to help Akeelah learn her last 5,000 words and to cheer her on to victory. Bringing a community together to ensure the success of its stars is central to Breakthrough's philosophy of ministry.

I could write about the movie, but I can't think of a better way for you to learn about it than to link to the Earlandson's Raindrops of Sunshine blog and read what Sharla has written. She has also posted a You Tube video trailer of the movie.

Thanks Sharla. I agree. This is one of the best movies I have seen that brings hope to inner city youth.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Shane Claiborne and John Lewis to speak on Sunday

Tomorrow will be a full day of great messages for me. First of all, Shane Claiborne, the author of the great book, Irresistible Revolution, will be speaking at LaSalle Street Church at 9 and 11. Then at 4:30, Congressman and civil rights activist, John Lewis, will be speaking at the 10th Anniversary Rally of the Protestants for the Common Good at the First United Methodist Church at the Chicago Temple, 77 West Washington Street. See you there!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Dr. Joseph Stowell and my lamb story

Dr. Stowell has been a great friend of mine and of the ministry of Breakthrough for many years. He will be the featured speaker at our benefit next Friday. Yesterday he talked about Breakthrough in his new podcast.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Set your TIVOs for this inspiring documentary about Manley Career Academy

On Sunday, October 15th, at noon, Carol Marin at Channel 5 will air a documentary entitled "Nobody Told Me". It is the inspiring story of a struggling high school in Lawndale, Manley Career Academy. In 1997 less than 10% of Manley's graduating class went on to college. In 2003, thanks in large part to the efforts of one heroic woman, Lila Leff, over 70% of Manley's graduating seniors headed to colleges and universities all over the country. Here is a link to a written version of the story.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Rocky Balboa and Spiritual Warfare

Sorry to be posting so many videos, but I had to repost this one that I blogged sometime in March. I woke up at 5 AM yesterday morning and was really feeling the battle, with a clear sense that the enemy wants to stop what we are doing and especially doesn't want to give up the turf in and around our construction site. As I prayed Ephesians 6:12 came to mind, "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." This video clip reminds me of how it feels sometimes to be slugging it out in the city.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Making Poverty History : Dr Max Collison

Here's a great message about justice from Dr. Max Collison, an Australian missionary from Nairobi. He says that in the New Testament there is one Greek word for righteousness and justice and he goes on to explain why it matters to God what coffee we buy.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

A word about Scripture from the Desert Fathers

Abba Poemen said: The nature of water is yielding, and that of a stone is hard. Yet if you hang a bottle filled with water above the stone so that the water drips drop by drop, it will wear a hole in the stone. In the same way the word of God is tender, and our heart is hard. So when people hear the word of God frequently, their hearts are opened to the fear of God.

       --from Desert Wisdom by Yushi Nomura and Henri Nouwen

School integration in Omaha

There was a very interesting article in the Chicago Tribune today about Omaha's attempts to face issues of race and school integration. They even considered segregation as the answer!

Focus on School Funding

Joyce from my Saturday BUILD group sent me a link to this article from the Chicago Sun-Times. On Friday Jesse Jackson, Sr. and Arne Duncan, CEO of Chicago Public Schools, were scheduled to hold a news conference at the Board of Education headquarters about school funding. Surprisingly they were joined by Mayor Daley and Jesse Jackson, Jr. Jesse, Jr. has talked about challenging Mayor Daley in the mayoral race. It is encouraging that these politicians recognize the importance of this issue and are competing for the limelight on the issue.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Signs of Hope

Here is a link to a Tribune article about a group of privileged suburbanites who have joined to assist a new Providence St. Mel's school on the south side. This is the kind of bridge building and understanding that will begin to address the issues of unequal access to educational opportunities.