Who am I?

I remember the sweat dribbling from my forehead down onto my quivering lip as I stared straight into the face of a giant beast they called a defensive tackle. He was at least 4 and three quarters my size and I could tell he loved the taste of a small fourth graders blood.

Football players at line of scrimmage ready to snap football

I’m no football expert but I still have no idea why the coach decided to put a boy with the stature of Frodo Baggins on the offensive line across from the bloodthirsty, orc-sized humans on defense. What’s even more confusing is that I continued to listen to everyone around me, line up right of center, and get squashed on every play.

I enjoyed watching football with my dad and listening to him and my cousins talk about it relentlessly, but the truth is I had no business being on the football field. I wasn’t fast enough for running back, I was too scared of getting hit to be a quarterback, I had a 40 yard dash time reminiscent of a soaking wet sloth, and if I mustered all the strength I had, I might have been able to topple over a newborn calf, but nothing close to a living, breathing football player.

What I did love was reading and listening to music, spending hours practicing piano and writing stories of animals and people defeating dark forces. I would wake up before dawn and sneak into the kitchen to make a mouth watering concoction of whatever I could find in the cabinets, and then I would spend the rest of my day following people around talking their ear off about the most recent game I was playing or the plot points of my new favorite book.

So why on earth did I want to quit doing everything I loved to get repeatedly pounded into the ground?

I wanted to belong.

We moved to a small rural town in Oklahoma when I was eight and I was afraid the people who surrounded me wouldn’t accept me for the person that I was. So I became what I thought they wanted me to be.

I decided to choose “safety and comfort” in the the acceptance of those around me because I was afraid. I was afraid I would have no friends, or that if people saw the real and quirky me they would laugh and walk away.

Choosing the path of conformity seemed like the best option at the time but it was often at the cost of true belonging in God and who He created me to be.

There is a whisper (the Holy Spirit) inside of each us that speaks to our soul, that encourages us, that speaks to the good of who God created us to be.  When we choose to listen to this, to pursue this, to believe the whisper, it leads us to freedom, and living through it we can accomplish great things.

In competition with that whisper though, there is a mind numbing shout. That shout says things like “you will never be good enough unless you are like them.” “You won’t be accepted if you do this, so go and do that.” “You need to be this,  you should have done that” …. and the list goes on and on.

Shame lives in the words need and should. Shame lives in the thoughts and feelings of “not enough.” It feeds off fear and insecurity.

Shame has no place in the whisper. In fact, the more intently we listen to the whisper the quieter the shouts become. Shame does not thrive when we live out of a place of belonging, and it ceases to exist when we live out of the belonging that comes from being a child of the Living God.

I am so glad that I don’t have to continue to line up on a football field I have no business being at to find my belonging.

It has taken my whole life to realize that I don’t have to keep pretending to be something I’m not. God created me to be Joseph Hoffman and no one else.

There are good days and there are a lot of bad days. It’s so much easier to listen to the shouts then it is to truly hear and listen to the whisper.

The truth is God is overjoyed at who he created me to be and loves me for me. And the same goes for all of us.

Ephesians 2:10(NRSV) says this” 10 For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.”

What would happen if we chose to believe that God not only loves us but He likes us?  He is in love with what he created. Not just us at our best but in all of the goofiness and awkwardness, the falls, the triumphs and especially in the ugly crying.

I believe that we live our best lives when we truly see ourselves how God sees us, which is loved, redeemed, beautiful and belonging.

This week may we choose to listen to the whisper, and walk in the confidence that we are children of the living God.

 

 

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Jump anyway

There I was, sopping wet and shivering, standing 15 feet suspended in the air looking down at a blue expanse that seemingly spelled my doom. Clutching the sides of the death trap I tried to steady my breathing and not curl up into fetal position.

What was it about this water in front of me that called me to jump, and what was this other terrifying sensation that insisted that I do nothing of the sort?

Exhilaration followed by paralyzing fear and then followed by a decision I had to make. Jump and discover the unknown, or climb back down to the safety of solid ground and certainty.

I hate to admit it but I have made the decision to climb back down those steps more times than I can count. Each time carrying a burden of shame and regret back down with me.

But man, I remember when I finally took that leap. Air flew through my air, the world raced past me as an  exhilarating sound escaped my lungs, and then the splash!  Ice cold water enveloped me for a second like a great big hug and then I rose up out of the water, feeling free and finding myself rushing back to the stairs to experience it all again.

15

Freedom. Exhilaration. Awe. Bewilderment.

It was all waiting for me at the end of the jump and I absolutely loved it.

That summer I spent hundreds of hours racing back up that rickety ladder to experience the joy of the jump over and over again. Summer faded into autumn, and the seasons took their course, taking the memories of those feelings with them.

The next summer I climbed up the ladder again, I saw the water welcoming me back, and I dove with a giant grin on my face, just to have the surface greet me with the loudest sound and the most painful belly flop that pool had ever seen. This did not feel like freedom, and exhilaration: this felt like betrayal.

And just like that, all of the joy that I had expereienced the previous summer, all of the the fun memories, were wiped away from my memory with one resounding SPLAT!

All I could seem to believe about that water then was that it was unforgiving and cold and frigid. Fear became an unwelcomed guest and the terror at the top of the diving board appeared once more.

 

The times that I’ve experienced the pain of a belly flop when jumping off that platform make the next jump harder if not paralyzing. It’s much easier for me to climb back down the ladder into comfort and certainty instead of experiencing that pain again.

It’s the same with life isn’t it?

It can look like a lot of different things.  A new relationship, a job opportunity, a move, etc.. It starts with excitement and endless possibilites, but sometimes something  happens and I leave the situation feeling hurt, betrayed and a lot of the times angry at God for the outcome. These times or situations feel like full belly flops and they hurt.

This has translated into my life as the fear of failure, fear of the unknown, and anxiety about outcomes I can’t control, forgetting about the amazing things that I have experienced and the times that I have felt abundant joy and God’s prescence in my life.

Has anyone else been there?

John 10:10 Says the thief comes to kill, steal and destroy.  Fear is a thief. Fear will do anything it can to keep me on the sidelines, at the top of the ladder looking down, or paralyzed from making any decisions. It will remind of the pain and all of the things that could go wrong. It wants to keep from doing anything, especially jumping, trusting.

Yesterday I was having coffee with a friend and he reminded me of something.

God is at the end of each jump regardless of the outcome. He celebrates with me in the triumphs and will be there to comfort me in the flops. The water is cool and refreshing and filled with His love and His strength.

To experience this I must jump.

Jumping is scary, especially when all we can remember or feel beforehand is the time we were met with a jarring landing instead of a welcome embrace.

God’s challenge to us is to jump anyway.

Joshua 1:9 ” Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” 

John10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

This week may we jump and experience God’s love in a new and profound way. May we live this life we have been given to the full.

 

The Doughnut Intervention

If you have known me for very long, you probably know at least one thing about me. I am obsessed with doughnuts. Not just the plain jane kind of doughnuts, but all kinds. I love variations of doughnuts, and experimenting with different sugars and fillings and toppings, and I could go on and on but I’ll save you the time. If you are imagining me as Homer Simpson right now, I would have to say that is minorly correct.

It all started when my grandma brought me an apple fritter from a local doughnut shop when I was about two years old. I fell in love. Both my dad and my grandpa were pastors so I have had my fair share of Sunday School confections over the years.

I remember the first time I ever had a hot and fresh Krispy Kreme doughnut fresh off of the line. It was life changing as a middle schooler living in the middle-of-nowhere-Oklahoma, and several years later it would play a major part in my life.

In August of 2012, at the beginnning of my senior year of college, we discovered that my mom was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. A tumor began to grow at an astromical rate and the doctors decided to attack it aggressively through intensive chemotherapy and radiation treatments. To say this was devastating is an understatement. I was confused and angry and overwhelmed by the fact that this could happen to someone that I loved so dearly. She didn’t deserve this. She was so impactful in her community as a teacher, a mom, and a pastor’s wife. She moved to Oklahoma City for treatment, so I began making the hour drive a few times a week to see her and sit with her through her treatment.

During this time, I discovered that there was Krispy Kreme right next door to the treatment facility and, conveniently, on my way back home to college. It started out innocently enough – I would stop by on my way home and grab a free hot and fresh doughnut, and sometimes buy a few for my cousins and roommates back home.  One day I saw that they began running a buy one dozen get one dozen free special.

How could I pass on such a great deal?! Before long, I began binge eat a dozen on my drive home, and return with a dozen doughnuts for my friends, family, to share. They were happy and thought I was so thoughtful. I was happy(or at least something other than sad) from the sugary numbness that came with binge eating this addictive confection. Over the course of two months, I gained thirty pounds, began to isolate myself, and leaned into the numbing habit more and more.

I came home one night, sporting my signature box of doughnuts, to my best friend and cousins sitting on the couch with a serious look on their faces. They literally had a doughnut intervention with me.  At first, I thought this was absolutely ludicrous, but as we began to talk, and I started to share how I was really feeling, something started to happen. I began to feel, and to cry, and to let everything go that I had been holding on to and numbing for so long. God used these people in my life to bring healing and change. I felt a huge burden lifted and no longer felt alone.

I tell this story for two reasons. 1. Looking back on the fact that I had to have a doughnut intervention is really funny. 2. I am so thankful that I had people in my life that could be completely honest with me and had the best intentions for me. That moment in my life reminds me of what the church looks like, and what Keala and I want the vision of the 3-5th grade room to be.  A safe and nurturing place for kids and leaders that are walking alongside them. A place where we can pray together, laugh together, and grow together, and when the moment arises, maybe even hold sugary interventions for one another.

We are starting this blog, The Doughnut Diaries, as a medium to share what God is teaching us through this ministry, in our personal lives, and to allow everyone to be open and grow together.

My prayer is that through this and serving on weekends together, God builds an amazing community that supports one another and causes an incredible impact for the Kingdom. See you soon!

With love,

Joseph

 

Take A Leap of Blind Faith?

blind faith

 

There have been several times in my life when I have surveyed my current circumstances and thought to myself, how on earth am I going to get through this one?  This past January my shortly lived six month “grace period” ended after I graduated college and Sallie Mae began sending me emails about paying back on the atrocious amount of student debt I had acquired over the past five years studying and becoming a well-educated citizen.  I remember looking at the dollar amount and feeling so overwhelmed. At the time, my full-time job was paying me a below poverty line wage and my part-time job was demanding that I work late hours often getting home around 2 a.m.

I remember venting to a friend and her reply was to “have faith.” Have faith?! I’m sure she meant it as words of comfort but to me it sounded like, sweep your problems under the rug, cross your fingers, close your eyes and pray that one day good ol’ Sallie Mae would call you and say “Never mind we don’t need your money go on and live your life.”

This is a blind and terrible way to live your life, and yet I feel as though as believers we often walk as though faith means following God the same way, blindly.

I’ve been reading a book called Stomping Out the Darkness that compared some people’s perceptions to following Christ a lot like a scene out of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. In the film the last clue leads him to a ledge where he must take a “leap of faith.”

 

Is this the kind of faith that God desires from us? It is no doubt that faith is both vital and central to being a follower of Christ. In Hebrews 11:6 it says Without faith it is impossible to please Him. And in Colossians 2:6 Paul wrote “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him.” How did we receive Christ? By faith. How are we to walk in him? By Faith.

But what is faith? Is it a blind leap into nothingness as in the Indiana Jones clip? Not at all. Here are three main ideas around faith that might change the way we approach our relationship with our Heavenly Father.

  1. What are you putting your faith into?

Every day I drive by faith. I have faith that the cars in the other lane are not going to decide to take their hands off the wheel and run into me as I drive into and from work. I put my faith in my Husband that he’s not going to go home to another woman and that when my friend invites me to coffee that she’s going to show up. But what happens when our faith in an object fails? Sometimes it can take years to repair when our faith in a person is shattered. Other things are more reliable. We all have faith that the Earth is going to continue to rotate on its axis and that the sun will continue to rise each morning. Hebrews 13:8 says “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, yes and forever.” He has been eternally faithful to us meaning that we can put our faith in Him.

  1. Strength of Faith is Determined by Depth of Knowledge.

I know that the bible says that Jesus never changes but He didn’t seem very reliable when my dad got cancer and still hasn’t healed him completely. He didn’t seem very faithful when my mom tells the story of her two-year-old sister getting ran over which eventually lead to a nasty divorce between my grandparents. He didn’t seem very faithful when my friend and her husband have had several miscarriages even though they keep trying to have a family.

It’s easy to look at God in these ugly circumstances and tell him to “get lost.” But we must know that our faith doesn’t get shaky because God is insufficient, but rather because what we think we know about God is insufficient. If you have little knowledge about God and his word, you will have little faith. The greater knowledge and the deeper the relationship, the stronger the faith in Him. It’s no different with my relationships in this life. If I don’t know someone very well, why on earth would I put my faith in them during my greatest times of need? It would be silly to expect that from anyone you barely knew.

  1. Faith Is A Verb

I’m sure we’ve all heard the verse from James 2:17-18. It says So also faith by itself, if it does not have works is dead.  I’ve never particularly loved this verse. Not because I don’t like service but rather because I’ve heard too many sermons on our performance earning God’s love and grace. I know that I can’t earn God’s grace or his acceptance or his love. That his love for me knows no bounds, but this verse still never sat well with me until I was shown a different way to look at it.

I have two step-sons with my husband their names are Scott and Eli. The youngest was four-years-old when I met him and typically was quite the adventurer. I remember one time we took them ice skating for the first time and I will never forget how white their knuckles were- clenching on to the side of the wall, wobbly knees shaking and barely standing on both feet. Jason took the oldest between his legs and grabbed his hands and skated alongside him with ease. However, Eli refused to let go of the wall. “Do you believe that I will hold on to you?” I asked him. Yes. How did I know that he believed me? Because finger by finger, he let go of the wall and put his hands out in mine and eventually we went skating together. Imagine that he would have said yes and then continued to clutch on to the wall. Would he really have had faith that I was going to hold on to him? No. Faith involves action. To have faith in God we must do what he says, otherwise do we really believe him?

During times of hardship do you push into your relationship with God looking to grow in your faith? Or do you question him or have a hard time believing that He is good? As a team, I challenge all of us to lean into Him. If we lived like this, and had such a relationship with the one who created us, how would your life look different?

A Trust Without Borders

Without Borders

It was a warm spring day and I could feel Winter melting away with every gust of wind that made my hair wave wild as I traveled home from a long day at work with the windows down. To my right was the big blue reflective Lake Tahoe that appeared to go on forever. In that moment, I was knee deep in a long conversation (argument) with God.

The year I lived in Tahoe had been one of the worst years of my life. I had moved a thousand miles away from anyone that cared about me to attend school.  My then boyfriend was going through a depression. I couldn’t seem to make a single reliable friend. I had a roommate of whom I could not see eye to eye with on almost everything, and I was living in the worst apartment complex in town. On top of that my Dad, who was six years into his battle with cancer had discovered a new form of cancer growing that was already considered stage four, which in case you don’t know, means the doctor basically said- enjoy the last few months of your life because your clock is ticking.

Needless to say I felt a little lost and a lot like God wasn’t paying attention to me or my life. I was in one of the most beautiful places in the world and hating every second of it. As God listened to me patiently rant about how he didn’t care, how he wasn’t paying attention or listening, He threw me a curve ball.

“I have some amazing plans for you, and if you don’t pay attention you’re going to miss it and cause yourself more pain in the long run.” 

It reminded me of my family’s favorite verse that we meditated over the past few years:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord “plans not to harm you, but to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

I was so focused on my own life that I hadn’t even taken the time to ask God what His plan was for me because I wasn’t trusting Him!  After lots of prayer I felt God’s push for me to move back to Colorado. I ended up choosing to transfer to the University if Colorado, Denver and I was terrified, but I was surrendered.

I can recall God’s voice whispering in my mind…“Just look at me.” It felt like I was risking everything in order to obey God and His will for my life.

This week we’re studying Joshua. God’s call for me to trust Him reminds me of Joshua’s spies who navigated their way into the walls of Jericho and met Rahab, a prostitute who also trusted the Lord. They risked everything by staying surrendered to the Lord and his plan.

Living surrendered to Christ is not always easy but I promise it is worth it. And just like in my own life, God continues to direct my steps and I can rest in Him, especially in my weaknesses! It means that as believers we are actively seeking first Jesus Christ and resting in his Grace and taking hold of his promises, even when the ocean’s rise and we may feel like we’re drowning in life.

Have you ever felt like you had to take a huge risk when it came to trusting God with your life?

The song Oceans by Hillsong United paints a beautiful picture of what it means to constantly live surrendered and seek and trust the one who has never failed- check it out!

 

 

 

 

…but who am I?

but who am i-

Several years ago, I met my (now) husband while working at a skate shop. We had gone on our first date and things were going well. We had both shared that we were believers- which in this day and age of dating was a huge relief. Especially since I had only lived in Denver for like a month. On our second date, we took laps around the Colorado Mills Mall just talking and talking. After what seemed like our 12th lap around the mall he had spilled some breaking news to me. He had two boys. At the time, I was Twenty-Two years old. I remember smiling really big and saying “that’s really cool! Tell me more about them.”

It wasn’t until I went home and told my roommate about our night that it really hit me. This guy had two kids. Not little little kids either, we’re talking almost elementary aged kids. I remember being filled with a large amount of doubt. How could I have met such a perfect guy, and yet he was so far ahead of me in his life journey. I felt ill-equipped, like a five-year-old wearing arm floaties in the middle of the ocean. In this moment, I could hear God saying to me-

“Don’t you trust me?”

He asks that of me a lot.

I called one of my best girlfriends the next day and verbally vomited over the phone.  I spilled all my thoughts and emotions in real projectile fashion. Bless her, she stayed silent on the other line being a wonderful listener. I expressed the doubt that literally felt like it was consuming me like a wild fire in a dry forest. She let me finish and then said very calmly…  “God doesn’t call the equipped, he equips the called.” A little cliché but it was just what I needed to hear.

As I was prepping for the teaching this past weekend I read this small passage out of Exodus 3:11-12

But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”
And God said “I will be with you.”

The answer to Moses’ question is that he was a nobody. He could have NEVER gone to Pharaoh and rescued the Israelites out of Egypt. …But God… was with him.  This passage washed over me like a refreshing wave. As a newly married wife and step-mom sometimes I feel just like Moses asking the same question.

“But who am I to raise this family? To be a mom? To be a wife?” and God’s reply is,

“I am with you.”

In other words, I am no-one. Out of my own strength I can not step into that role and be successful. John 15:5 says “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

In our American culture, it’s so easy to take on the I’ll just work harder approach. Let me just say that it doesn’t work. We can’t fix anything, we must rest in the grace of Jesus Christ to do what only he can do. Our strength should come from him, and if we tap into him he will provide this for us eternally.

Maybe you’ve felt just like myself or Moses, questioning God’s decision to let you bat for his team. This emotion can be stirred up from a promotion, a fight with your teen, a new born baby, and yes especially being in kids ministry. Friends, I encourage you to continue to seek Christ and let him sit on the throne of your life, he will do the impossible. But without Jesus, you can do nothing.

The Lego-tastrophe

Proverbs 25:4 “Remove the dross from the silver, and a silversmith can produce a vessel..”

IMG_9160There are days when cleaning can be fun, carefree, and filled with plenty of dancing and sing alongs; the other day, however, the lego table decided it should go otherwise. As I was wiping down the gameroom, my hand ran across something that caused me to pause my Moana soundtrack singalong and stare down in sheer horror.

I’ll spare you the graphic details, but it did involve layers of grime, hair, and fluids mostly associated with allergies and flu-season and kids that don’t know what the purpose of a kleenex is.

What once was a lego paradise gleaming with creativity and bright colors became a land bogged down by months of build up. To clarify, the lego table was completely sanitary and still functional. It gets sprayed down with disinfectant every week, and hazards are removed so that kids can have an awesome time building and creating every weekend. The issue is what lay beneath: things that build up overtime and tend to cause problems when they are not taken care of intermittenly or regulary.

This is not a thesis on how to ensure a clean play area in the elementary room (everyone does an incredible job of creating an excellent, safe, and clean environment for our kids). Instead, it reminded me of what Ben taught on last week, and something that happens in my life all of the time.

Hiding.

Isolation, neglect, and fear of failure (or of what people might think) lead me to shove a lot of things in my life under the proverbial rug. When fear, shame, doubt, insecurity, sin, you-name-it, go undealt with for a long period of time, they can cause all the other areas in my life to lose their shine. I feel myself slowing down and becoming frustrated with all sorts of minor things until it usually blows up in my face, or until I have the courage to step out of hiding and face whatever it is.

Last week Ben said this: “Forgiveness starts when you step into faith. But healing starts when you step out of your hiding place.”

Confession is a spiritual discipline, and one that I am terrible at. What if we as a team reguraly took inventory of our lives, confessed what isn’t working,  prayed for one another, and moved forward in the strenghth that Christ gives us? That is such an amazing picture of wholeness and community.

James 15:16 Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. 

What is one thing in your life that you would love for Jesus to heal? 

What is one step you can take towards healing this week?

Ephesians 3:14 When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, 15 the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. 16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 21 Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.

Love you all!

See you this weekend!

JosephIMG_9311

The Misfits.

misfit

There he was, sitting in the corner, bright yellow headphones hugging tightly to the sides of his head. His tongue poked out from behind his lips and his eyes narrowed as he focuses in on his clipboard that wears a bright white piece of paper. Slowly, methodically, he focuses on each stroke of his Crayola black marker- which he definitely snuck out of the coloring room.

After the transition of 2nd graders, soon to be 3rd graders, moved into our room a few months ago, I’ve loved getting to know the new faces, names and a whole mixed bag of personalities that paint the walls of our room.  And maybe you’ve met the young boy that I’ve described above. Every week he comes into our classroom and harmlessly writes number after number, and his favorite number? 366,663. I told him mine was the number four. “That’s 366,629 numbers away from mine.” he replied matter a factly.  Uh, that’s right, it sure is.  Needless to say this boy is a little different than the others.

Over the course of my time coming on staff I’ve had a few one- on- one small group sessions with the boy and his brilliance continues to astound me. However I know that although he is smart, small groups with other kids are far outside of his comfort zone. That’s why when last week’s small group was a board game meant to be played by at least four people, I wasn’t sure how he would feel about adding some other kids into the group.

I met him in the corner with my small group bin and asked him, as I always do, if he wanted to play the game with the rest of the third grade boys. “No. I want to play with you,” he replied without blinking an eye, almost annoyed with the idea of playing with a group.  Off in the distance I noticed three other kids, two boys and a girl, both being in service for the second time. They found their way to Peter, our door key leader and were discussing the lesson in their own small group.

In this moment I could have done a couple of things. Asked the kids to go join their normally assigned small groups, or recognize that Peter had a handle on them and I could have let them be. But I had another idea. I excused myself for a moment and headed over to the three kids.  When I got to them the little girl defensively blurted out “We’re having our own small group, please don’t make us split up.” I said “I have another idea.” I told the kids about the little boy in the corner who wasn’t very good with groups but we need three more players and I think it would be great if they came and tried to play with us.

They were all very reluctant, until one agreed and the other two followed. At first the single boy looked at me a little frustrated and made the comment that he no longer wanted to play but rather was going to draw his numbers.  The other three were all a little awkward but we kicked off the game. Over the course of the small group the three kids learned how to speak differently, play gently, and be kind to someone a little different than them. The transformation was amazing.  My little small group of misfits played through the entire game and the little boy even ended up playing with the others without flipping the game board after every roll! And even though he did squeal with excitement a little too loud a few times, the others handled it so lovingly.

That moment has stuck with me all week as I’ve worshipped and thanked God for such a beautiful moment, but then I began to realize something. At one point we have all been classified as a “misfit”. We are all born with a dead spirit, separated from Christ and ultimately a misfit. But God…in all his Grace and Mercy continued to pursue human history and sent us a savior to save us from our sin and flesh.  The best news of all, He changed our identity from misfit to sons and daughters. I pray that as we continue to come along side of the kids in our rooms that they too will find a new identity in Christ and someday know that they can belong to the God of the Universe, if they choose to.

Friends, I’m so grateful for the opportunity to serve along side you and love on these kids and give parents some time to pursue their own spiritual journey.  I can’t wait to see you again soon! Love You All.

Keala