Thursday, July 12, 2012

How To Really Protect Your Children

Tonight, I took the kids to the little park across the street from our new house.  It's practically in our front yard.

I sit here and type words then delete them (that almost never happens), trying and failing to do justice to everything in my heart tonight. Here's the summary: We went. They played. I came home and bawled my eyes out.

Friends visit our new neighborhood and most of them say it's not as bad as they thought it would be.

On the one hand, it's nice to hear.

On the other hand, it was never really about bad/not bad. It's just where we were sent, so we're going. We're not going with expectations or a God complex. We don't have a plan or a goal.

The neighborhood, it doesn't look so bad, I suppose. It could be so much worse. We're going to live our lives and we'll need some friends. I think the neighborhood is full of good people, some of whom have had hard lives. They need the exact same things I need. I hope they will be my friend. That's what I think.

All of that is easy enough to say, until you're sitting there at the picnic table near moms who scream things at their children like, "If you don't stop spitting at me, I'm going to beat you up!" or like, "#%^&$%!" They lounge on towels on the dead grass like it's Daytona Beach, half their hind ends hanging out. Their babies drink Sunny D from bottles and wander away, mostly unnoticed.

So, this is where I'll be living. That's what I kept saying to myself. I'm moving here. I could look down the street and see Cory and Robert, painting boards in the garage of my brand new future.

It's not really about the houses on the street. Some are really bad. Some are good. A few (including mine) are great.

Isn't life always about people?

Ruby will be friends with the girl who looks back at me like I have three heads when I ask if she's going to kindergarten. She is. She's going to kindergarten. But she's not familiar with the word. All she knows is that she's going "to the one where they tell you your numbers and ABCs". Then she picks up her towel and walks back down the street, all the way out of my line of vision, completely alone.

Here's the tricky part: I want to love these people. I already kind of do. But I also feel that instinct to keep my kids the heck away. I really understand the urge to shelter them right now and then just keep sheltering them, forever. Can't I insist that they only play with the sweet little girl in braids whose mama sat reading a paperback book, doling out Oreo cookies with a smile?

I don't know how this will play out. We can't just decide not to go to the park where the sketchies hang out. We are moving to the park. We're going where they go because it would be wrong not to. It would be disobedient to say no to this.

So the Devil knows he's got me on his line and he starts yanking the hook further in. Maybe this is wrong. Maybe we'll regret it, just like they say we will. Maybe we're bad parents. Maybe we're idiots.



We walk down the hall, into rooms with the smoochiest sleeping babies. I kiss their lips, because I want to and I can. We hold their little brown hands and we pray, not even in a whisper. We pray in silence, because it's all the same to Him. Guard their ears, their eyes, their hearts. Keep them innocent. Let them see their purpose, there. Let us all fall in love.

It strikes me in those darkened rooms that I have never prayed so fiercely for the hearts of my children. I've never had to. I've never been so helpless to be everything they need. I can't do it this time. We're coming out from behind the divide and it could get ugly.

But He has promised that He's coming with us. He's told us we're in the palm of His hand. And even though He's said it a thousand times before, I've never needed to believe Him more than right now. I've spent most of my life ensuring my own safety, my own success. I've crocheted my own nets. Now, all bets are off. It feels a little wild and wooly, but it also feels strangely, stupidly right.

86 comments:

  1. ah and in the palm of His mighty hand you will stay.

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  2. I think this is awesome. No telling what's in store, and I wish my kids could have what yours will have. I think you should prepare to be blown away by His goodness.

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  3. this is hard stuff. i'll admit it, i've worried over your babies for you. not because i think you're wrong or crazy or making irresponsible choices. but because God has called me so differently. i'm the mom who God is telling to be protective to the point of overkill. He's leading my heart and kids along a different path and sometimes it's hard to see another way. i've been proud of you sicne day one on this journey of yours. both a little envious and a little grateful it's not me. i am so PROUD of you for following His lead.

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  4. Our story is a bit different; but I can relate in so many ways. It is hard. That is true. But...when you follow God's call, it is the best place to be. In His will. Needing Him so fiercely. Thank you for pouring it out here.

    Be encouraged. There is no shame for those who follow the Lord. He is Your light and Your defense, whom shall You fear? (my phrasing of Ps. 27).

    Take heart.

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  5. Sometimes the ugliest surroundings present the greatest gifts.
    There is nothing wrong with worrying and praying for your childrens safety. As a Mum of a large brood I completely understand where you are coming from. The world can be scary sometimes and we have just have to protect our little nest.
    Walk forward with a smile x

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  6. oh man, I am so there with you. It is in part because of your sharing your story that my hubby and I decided to send our little guy to the near failing (yes, failing, not me being dramatic) neighborhood school on the wrong side of the tracks instead of the nice private Christian school that is free for us due to my hubby working as a pastor to the church connected to it. The private school is thousands of dollars that so may of our friends scrape up in order to sacrifice to send their kids there because they believe in keeping them safe and think that the public schools are teaching lies and they don't want their kids to be around so many kids who will be bad influences. Our friends who can't afford to send their kids there dream of hitting the jackpot so they can. The public school PTA president (who is our neighbor) looked at me like I had two heads when I told her we were thinking of sending our kid there. She is not a churchgoer but said she would in a heartbeat send her kid to the private Christian school over the school that she is PTA president of! In other words, we are complete crazy town to pretty much everyone (save 2 people thus far that I've talked to) around us for sending our kiddo to this school. From all their responses, I keep thinking maybe we really have lost our marbles and how can one family really make a difference in this kind of situation anyhow??? I wish I could explain all the ways God has continually revealed Himself to us in this area but I'm not sure it would make sense to them- His revelations are too personal, too detailed to make sense to anyone else. I keep realizing over and over that I just desperately want to not feel alone in this and want to have some kind of team effort in helping this failing school but God keeps reminding me that He's all we need, even in the dark places. This one is dark, literally and figuratively. School starts in a few weeks and I'm scared. Scared if he will make friends or not, scared if his speech issues will make it too hard for him to keep up because of the horrible student teacher ratio, scared if we will be accepted into this school community or if my prejudices will accidentally pour out of me when talking with other families. I'm scared we are making up what God told us to do but then I think back to all the orchestrated details and things that have happened since deciding this (the principal emotionally telling my husband that he is the first community leader to ever ask how he could help and asking if would we please be involved even if we didn't decide to send our son there and the private christian school deciding to adopt this failing school and help set up a mentoring program and the list goes on). I have to tell you that reading your journey was the push for us. We had felt the conviction long before but reading your thoughts, prayers was putting into words what we felt in so many ways and somehow it was comforting and inspiring all at once. Anyway, praying for you guys as you begin this new adventure (not quite sure what to call it ;O) ) and so looking forward to reading about how God shows Himself in the those tiny detailed ways that only He can.

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  7. Telling about the struggle to keep on is your worship, you know. Not ignoring those temptations to not go to the park. He'll give you strength to persevere with every truth telling moment. Praying you peace, friend.

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  8. We took the wild leap of faith 6 years ago. It's been good, very good. However, there have been battles (In fact, we're in the middle of one right now) that have made us re-consider & wonder, "Did we do the right thing?". When things get tough, we think we made a wrong move...but if we don't have tough things to go through, how will we grow? God will see us through the current trial just like He has all the past trials and we will witness His faithfulness and goodness once again...and others who are watching this play out in our lives will see it too. And in the place of tears and shaking knees will be stronger faith in the One who loves us more than we can imagine & who took the ultimate leap of faith for us...

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  9. totally different circumstances, but i am feeling this: "i"ve never been so helpless to be everything they need." thanks for the reminder that i was never meant to be. all unto HIM. laying it at His feet.
    steph

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  10. I lived in the "ghetto" for 2 years in Rochester, NY while my hubby was getting his MBA. He was in Iraq right before he came home and I had to go house-shopping myself (never doing THAT again) and I picked this cute, in-the-city, old fashioned house in a good and "bad" neighborhood. It was definitely different. Reminds me of exactly what you're talking about. We learned a lot while living there and I made some great friends. It was a really good experience looking back.

    Here's the awesome thing about kids: They aren't prejudice. They don't judge. They don't see things like "bad", "danger", "ghetto", they just see people. They might hear a bad word, but they will think nothing of it, and if they for some odd,crazy,reason actually remember it, you will just tell them that we don't say those words because it hurts people, and they will forget about it.

    My kids were so cute. They had never seen a black person before we moved there. My eldest was 2 at the time. When he was 2.5 he played frequently with the little black boy next door, a Jamaycan-Puerto Rican family with a row of small pink-plastic flamingos in the front yard, even in the dead of winter. My son sat, looking at his mole on his leg. Then he said: "Look, Mom! I'm black and I'm white!"

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  11. I'm SO glad you wrote this post. We JUST moved to inner city Memphis from suburban South Carolina, and I am experiencing culture shock in many of the same ways. Just wanted to let you know that you helped me process through some of my emotions regarding my daughter. Thank you!

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    1. Thank you for moving to the inner city memphis!!!! As a Memphian my whole life i have wanted to impact this city! But circumstances have my husband and I moving to the SUBURBS (UGH) in Florida of all places and it is sooo hard! I remember driving as we were trying to find a place In FL wondering where are the crackheads?! I miss them! ( i kidd..sort off) and feeling like a little part of my soul died. I know God is calling us where we are going, but i have such a vision for the city it's hard to say goodbye. When we moved out of our place, two weeks later a acquaintance told us about some crime a few houses down, even in an "unsafe place" i know God protected us and used us and i would go back in a heartbeat, in fact, wish i could :)

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  12. Maggie and I are really proud of you and Cory. Not because of where you are moving, but because He called and you guys said "Yes". The risks to your children if you had said "No".....chill the heart. There are reasons everything in Christ Jesus is "Yes!"
    God finds delight in things that are strange to us, often leaving us shaking our heads, wondering.......sometimes stunned. Regardless of what challenges lie ahead for all of you, you've chosen well.
    Peace,
    Jim

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    1. "The risks to your children if you had said "No".....chill the heart." So so true!!! They could grow up and be complacent Christians.

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    2. Anonymous, I was going to say the same thing. Amen to what Jim said!

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  13. It's going to be really tempting to walk every little 5-year-old home yourself...and you may find yourself actually doing it from time to time, I suspect. This sounds a little bit like I imagine skydiving...it sounds really great but it becomes downright terrifying if you're the one standing on the edge of that plane! I fight the urge to blindfold my kids and plug their ears all the time, so I'm definitely praying for you... 6 letter swear words?! My lands. ;) But the truth is, you & Cory remain the primary influence in those kids' lives; you've entrusted them to the Lord and He is faithful.

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  14. Keep praying, Shannan. All of us understand your feelings for your children...maybe even some of the mamas with their rear ends hanging out while they are sunbathing. I am sure many of them have mixed feelings about living where they do, and the fact that you chose to live there will get their attention so God can work His magic. Reading this over, it sounds like I am lecturing you but that isn't my intent at all....you "school" me with every post! :) I loved reading Karen's comment too.

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  15. Your words, your journey right now, it's really messing my faith all up. God is teaching you such incredible truths and the temptation to be terrified and run is always there but your so right. He holds you cupped safely in His hands and where He's taking you, to this neighborhood that I might avoid and lock my doors if I had to hang out in-- He's there IN it with you and it's amazing and humbling to read your story, to picture this park and these people, your neighbors..... This place where God's teaching you what real love looks like.... Every time I read your words I am inspired and encouraged. Keep doing the hard stuff my friend. God holds you as you do, His plan can be trusted.... You're in my prayers.

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  16. Great post that touches my heart. God is with you all every step of this journey.

    FlowerLady

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  17. Faith. What an amazing witness to faith.

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  18. I can't relate to your post in many ways, as I don't have children yet and I don't live in a questionable neighborhood, but I can relate to being dependent on His protection. As long as we are in the palm of His hand, we are in the best spot we could ever be, and I just want to thank you for that reminder, in the eloquently and heart-on-your-sleeve way you shared.

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  19. People do this all the time---intentionally live in not-perfect places. Knowing that won't make the challenges easier, of course. But maybe it will help you to feel less alone and off-your-rocker? (Which I don't think you are.)

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  20. Oh my goodness.
    I mean, I knew this was coming but I feel like I'm there, sitting with you om the bench and we're looking at the people in the park thinking, "This is where we are choosing to live?" (Of course God is the one making the choice, you and Cory are simply following.

    Simply. Ha!
    How can something so simple be so difficult?
    Obedience.
    It's so uncomplicated...and sometimes so hard.
    And, some days I fail over and over again.

    I'm reminded about the book, "Is Your God Too Safe" by Mark Buchanan, where he talks about (if I remember correctly - it's been a few years since I last read it) how we are willing to go on mission trips, or visit "bad" neighborhoods to "serve the poor." But yet, we won't move there. And, if we do, would we have children in *those* hospitals? Would we spend time and be friends with *those* people?

    I have to head to work. I'll come back and read the other comments folks left. But, I just wanted to thank you, once again, for being to transparent as you wonder out loud "What in the world are we doing?!" And, then take a step forward toward the life God wants you to have in this next chapter.

    You are always a well-rooted start to my day.

    Blessings,
    Dana
    CookingAtCafeD.com

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  21. your truth washes over my heart and mind
    like water, seeping in to all the cracks, filling in the holes of
    doubt and uncertainty

    you are Jesus in the flesh to all those littles and their mamas

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  22. This post made me realize truly what you are moving into. I felt so bad until I started reading the comments. There are truly lots of brave souls out there and you are one of them. God would never ask you to do something you couldn't handle. Here's where true faith comes in, I guess.
    xo

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  23. You are an amazing person/family. You make me want to be a better person and to remember to act with love and kindness. kaye

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  24. Oh me...I never lived in the hood with my littles but I think I really get how you're feeling. My children's childhood ended up looking very different than I had originally envisioned, and I felt a very similar MYRIAD of concerns, often laced with a side of panic ;)

    What I learned was "near panic" is actually a wonderful place to be when raising children to love Jesus. I believe complacency is perhaps the most dangerous state of all when mothering little people. And I am certain that my daughters are actually the more wonderful because of our rearranged life. Keep praying with all the fierce passion you feel, and God will take care of the rest, of this I'm sure!

    p.s. Thanks so much for continuing to share with us. I'm embarking on a slightly different adventure of my own, and as I pack up my home & rid myself of A LOT of my things, I'm finding your experiences so encouraging :)

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  25. Been reading for awhile...have yet to comment. Don't even know what to say except this has inspired me to, yet again, place my kids in the palm of God's hand. Thanks for sharing.

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  26. I am so inspired by your obedience. When my husband and I bought our first house in the middle of a crack neighborhood over ten years ago, I had no idea what to expect. We brought both of our children home to that house and I had the same fears. That overwhelming need to shelter them and protect them. I know that God will give you the wisdom you need as you navigate this new world.

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  27. Amen sister, amen! The only way for us to truly protect our babies is through prayer. Prayers just like you shared. It is such a hard thing to move through. To trust that God will keep them and trust ourselves enough to let go a little. I am so inspired and encouraged by your willingness to go where ever it is He chooses to send you. It is not an easy path, or and easy decision or easy to explain to others why you do what you do, go where you go or even sometimes how you know you're suppose to do any of those things.
    But I do know this, as long as you keep trusting, keep following and keep listening God will keep up his end of things too! He will protect, he will provided and he will make you friends with the ones your heart long to reach out to the most! :-)
    I am so proud to watch your journey, to share in the rawness of your feelings and to see your witness to others develop and grow right before our eyes! You make a difference! You really really do!

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  28. i would move there with you in a heartbeat....i feel my heart tugging me there, and then my senses kick in and i realize that for right now this is where i'm at......but i love the realness. last night as we served at the local food bank my heart broke yet felt healed all at the same time as i talked with dear people that just needed a smile - not a judge!

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  29. God bless you & yours in your obedience! If I was a betting woman, I'd wager your children will grow up to be like you -- loving life, loving people, listening for His call; being obedient. You are doing good, Mom.

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  30. Um, I think you're moving next door to me. Seriously. I don't even say that jokingly. The *F* word seems to be the parents word of choice with their kids around here. I could go on and on, but you already know. You are now living it.

    Anyway, God's protection knows no limits. I think every single house around me is doing drugs, but that does not me my kids will. Just an example, but a true one. God's got a great plan for you and your family. Take it one moment at a time and live in His Grace. You're doing great.
    ~FringeGirl

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    1. This made me laugh, because as horrified as we can be the F Bomb never killed anybody. LOL

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  31. I'm so excited to be on this journey with you!!!

    So, this week I've been reading 2 Chronicles 20. It's about King Jehoshaphat being afraid because an army is heading his way to attack him and his people.

    The Scripture says he was afraid so he sought the Lord on what to do. God said, "I want you to go out there tomorrow. Come face to face with the enemy, the thing you fear. This battle is not yours, it is Mine. I want you to take your position and then be still. I will be the one fighting for you."

    And God is faithful, every single last one of the enemy is destroyed. Then guess what the people do?! They gather all the treasure left laying on the battle field. There are so many valuable things laying there it takes them 3 days to carry it all off! 3 days!

    This week I've been asking the Lord how much unclaimed treasure have I left laying on the battle field because I was too afraid to take my position where He has called me and then stand.

    I am certain your new journey, the one you're boldly facing, the one that leaves you feeling fearful, is the richest place of blessing for you and those sweet babies.

    "We don't know what to do, but our eyes are on you." 2 Chronicles 20:12

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  32. The Bible is full of people who lived out side of the box. And Abba was always right there with them. We quote," The just shall live by faith". But then we stay safe and hold all control in our tight little hands. Faith isn't faith until you have to trust God totally. It all comes down to really listening to God and then getting out of the boat and keeping our eyes on Jesus and not on the storm swirling around us. Thank you for obeying God. That is the lesson that will mold your children forever.

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    1. "Faith isn't faith until you have to trust God totally." True!!!

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  33. Well I know exactly how you feel!!! We moved 8 years ago to a transitional neighborhood (one block behind our house) north of our house are the beginning of he lakefront houses (the good neighborhood).When we moved here we didn't know we were on the cusp of good and bad. It has been a very different experience to say the least.We love our block as there are only 5 houses on one side and a very nice (upper scale church and school )across the street . The first few years were a shock to us!!!! Weird street like people screaming as they walked down the street,kids that shouldn't be out with out parents as in 2 or 3 yrs old walking around. It was very weird for me and I lived in Chicago before so I thought I had seen it all but I didn't live in a transitional neighborhood before. Our neighbors have been a godsend .They are the kids my children have played with and have become best friends.But I have felt that my kids have missed out not being able to ride their bikes out by themselves.My husband and I talk about this all the time . I love our home .We have been renovating it ourselves but sometimes I wish we lived even 3 blocks north of us!!!!! It is a challenge to see people that are different with different values. All I can say is good luck!!!!!!! Blessings,Sara

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  34. Thank you for writing this~ I teared up reading because so much of it put into words what I've been living the last two years. The questions from others that make us question our decision...the children whose lives break my heart, the assurance that the safest place to be is living in obedience to God? Yes, all of that. Blessings to you!! Do you mind if I quote a small portion and link to this post?

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  35. I am so glad I read this after I wrote my blog today. You have no idea what you have just said to me. NO idea. God is chasing me down a street I don't know the name of, and you just showed up in the alley with a can of spray paint to write on the wall.

    I do love you.

    xxoo

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  36. I'm crying as I read this... mostly because I could have written it just as well. (Definitely not as well as you, but the idea would still be there!) When we decided to live here, we got so many "how many years until you move out of that city?" "This is just temporary, right?" Um, no. This is our HOME. And it's a good place. A GREAT place. I love this town. I love the people. We are in the right place. And you will soon feel the same way, I promise you. :) That said- I'm not too far from you... let me know if you need anything! I can even take kids for a few hours until school starts again- Luke would LOVE that!

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  37. Lots of us go and do things we HATE to go and do...but we do in the name of God. It's not easy but someday we'll look back..and we'll understand!!

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  38. Not that I know God's plan your family any more than you do but here's what I like to think is in store for you in your front yard...

    The little ones make friends with other little ones, even the loud ones. They invite their new friends to church and to live in the world that you and Cory are building. One of the little friends listens with an open heart to Calvin's dreams and adult plans to change the world he came from and the world in general and this friend decides that this is the path they are meant to travel also. (By the way, Calvin's dreams have been "haunting" me since you shared them.)
    My theme for July (at least) is Love the Unloveable, Forgive the Unforgiveable and Reach out to the Unreachable. I am being reminded of this every day and today, you were the catalyst.
    Natalie Christian

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  39. I do not visit here enough. Your words and prayers are magic. I've had these exact struggles at our parks... Now I can copy your words in my prayers. Thanks for sharing *everything*! Your kids (and Grandkids ;-P ) are blessed to have you looking out for them!
    hugs,
    Leslie

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  40. Loved this and loved reading all the comments too. Sometimes (no, really all the time) I would just like to stay ignorant. I want to live in my nice house (nice to me) and drive by the trailer park on my way to church. But that isn't how God wants it. When I do encounter scenes like you described it weighs on my mind and I have to "decompress." So, I try to avoid being around it. Anyway, thanks for sharing. I'll definitely be thinking about this. :)

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  41. Elisa has it bang on. As a kid I can remember the kind of parents you are talking about....I didn't care. I just wanted to hang out with my friend.

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  42. I've never commented on your lovely blog before, but after reading this post, I couldn't NOT comment. I am amazed and humbled and in tears at what you wrote. I am marrying a youth pastor who works at a church in the suburbs of East LA and I see the kind of thing you described almost every day. But instead of having your attitude of surrender, I have convinced myself that we don't need to be there for long.. I won't have to raise my future kids there, it's not permanent. Your post has inspired me to see my situation in a different light, and embrace where God has put me right now because here is where I need Him the most. It is not comfortable. It can be scary. But those things can help point me to the overwhelming love and glory of God, if I just let them. If I just let go of feeling bitter and skeptical and closed off. Thank you again, for your beautiful words.

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  43. Maybe God has sent you there to show some of the people how to be a good parent. Maybe they have never seen what that looks like and when they do they will realize there is a better way.

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  44. simply, raw-ly, beautiful, miss Shannon. wishing you much love on this journey. thank-you for being such a beautiful example to us.
    xo

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  45. Thank you for sharing. I am reading the book, Graced Based Patenting, by Dr. Tim Kimmel. Only only on the first chapter but I like it. Your obedience to God's calling for where you live was an action of grace-based parenting. You aren't allowing fear to control your parenting. A quote for you:
    "Grace-based families are a breath of fresh air. They process their day-to-day life with an air of confidence that comes from knowing God profoundly loves them. The key characteristic of grace-based families is that they aren't afraid. They are especially unafraid of all the evil around them. They take their cues straight from King David's playbook: 'Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod & staff, they comfort me (Ps. 23:4)'"

    The decisions & choices you make can be done in confidence b/c you are being led by God rather than your fears of the culture around you.

    Yet, Satan knows. He knows how to get in our minds & twist things up. He wants to mess with our inner needs of security, significance, & strength. I am praying over you & Cory that the Holy Spirit will keep filling you up with Truth & equip you with all you need so your littles have a love that is secure, a purpose that is significant, & a hope that is strong.

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  46. thank you shannon for being so honest and open. I went through similar struggles when my husband and I with our children left the USA to be missionaries in eastern Europe. As a mom you want the best for your kids, and when your obedience to God seems to be contrary to that, it's hard to make sense of it all. But God is faithful and today my children are 21 & 19 and love God with all their heart and tell me that they're so thankful that we obeyed.
    Now they are in 2 different countries - so I'm thankful that God is still taking care of them, much better than I ever could.
    I'll be praying for you.

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  47. I want to start by saying I love your blog. Its an everyday read for me. I was compelled to comment on this post, it stirred something up in my heart.

    I grew up in the ghetto. When we were young, my siblings and I didn’t know it. We loved our home. We loved the kids in our neighborhood. We made mud pies, played games, rollerbladed. Only later when I was a teen did I discover my neighborhood wasn’t so nice. As an adult my mom told me there was a halfway house on the same block as our house. The people that strolled the block everyday were residents… I had no clue. As a teen I saw drug deals, my car was broken in to multiple times and stolen on the last day of school my Junior year. One day a lady “under the influence” walked in to our house and locked herself in the bathroom. Those experiences taught me to be strong…they taught me how to street smart.

    Although I wouldn’t have wanted to grow up any other way…I knew for my own kids I wanted something different. I wanted something safe. As an adult I moved away. When I met my husband we saved our money and bought a house in a small suburb in a nice neighborhood. His two daughters have spent 3 years in this beautiful town. We love where we live. But there are still problems. My stepdaughters face racism. We had an experience at Target where a little girl told my 11 year old stepdaughter that she was bad because she was black that still pains me to this day. There are drugs in their schools. They still see bad parenting.

    Its hard because we want to give our children the absolute best life possible… what I’m learning is that the “best life” isn’t based on the environment that they live in but how interact with their environment... their own choices, morals and beliefs that guide them.

    Like you, sometimes I wonder if I am doing the right thing. Should I have moved to the boondocks where its safe, but lacks diversity?

    I don’t know.

    What I do know is that I will raise these children with love…no matter where we live… and I pray that that will be enough.

    Thanks for sharing :)

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  48. Your last two posts hit right to the core of me. Thank you for sharing your happy and your not so happy thoughts. We are human and no matter how much we want to be selfless and good, fear still creeps in and gets a hook in us that make us act otherwise. I think it takes honesty and community to shake off fear's terrible grip and refocus our attention on grace and love. You help me see past my own fears to what can be. Thank you.

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  49. You just keep hitting my heart! I hope you are loved by these people, so they can feel your love too! Hugs to you and your littles!

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  50. As Oprah says, go with your gut instincts. Our responsibility is keeping children safe. When you're a child you just want to have friends. The crowd doesn't change to fit in with you, you change to fit in with them. You're going to have to remember that will be a struggle that your children will have. It's not easy. There's a difference between poor economics and a lifestyle. You're a GREAT mom, you'll be watching for signs of problems. Peace.
    Kathy

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  51. Shannan, I read your post this morning and commented, and then I have been thinking about you all day. Ruminating on what you shared. It seems to me that a basic promise from God is "ask and you shall receive" so if you are asking him to protect the hearts and minds of your children, He will. Not by putting them in a bubble, but by providing them with loving parents who can explain the world around them, and set a proper example that may at times be in strong contrast to what they are experiencing. Seeing their mom NOT yelling ugly things at them will be a lesson. My family lives in a (relatively) safe part of town, generally affluent (we are some of the least affluent here and yet are so blessed) and I worry sometimes that my kids have been in a bubble. Taking them with me to feed the homeless or to provide Christmas presents for a less fortunate family may not be enough.And under the well-groomed surface, some of the folks we live around are no more kind or Christian than your neighbors. I feel so blessed to read about your journey and so appreciate your honesty (and your serious knack for writing, girl. You could have written this comment in way fewer words and nailed it). Ah well. Praying for you and yours!

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  52. Are you moving into my hood? Seriously, if you were in Florida, I would be wondering. We are fortunate to have lovely neighbors beside and across from us, but we do live in a very rough area. I am thankful that my son is growing up surrounded by so much diversity, and I am even thankful for the Title I school. A Title I school means more funding and resources, especially for kiddos with some special needs. Still, I want more for him. I want a place where bullies don't punch him and leave bruises. I want a place where kids don't think that he is brain damaged because he has a scar running across his head from skull surgeries and tends to be a silly 7-year-old. I want a place where the academic bar is set higher. I want a place where people don't die on the roads every day due to so many drivers being dangerously rude and impatient. For now, though, that doesn't seem to be God's plan. Abiding in His will is not always easy, but there are positives. It just seems like a harder task to realize them.

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  53. I am praying for you tonight. You are my hero lady. You give me strength. We moved on Saturday away from a 3 acre farm with buckets of tranquility to a place where God is calling where there are buckets of need. It isn't too scary. It isn't bad. But...wouldn't it be better to give my children the freedom of the country? Shouldn't I? But what about these people. I love you and your struggle. Yes, it's hard. Absolutely. Could it go badly? Yes. But, we go with God, and offer grace and mercy. Love well and serve well and when its hurts, cry hard, because, sister, this is life and we only get one chance to serve and love. I hope you know that I read your blog to give myself courage to try. I know we all stumble, but it is good to know someone out there cares enough to try. Love and hugs!

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  54. oh girl. oh my goodness. oh.

    you are in the center of his will, and i have no doubt about that.

    this is his kingdom, this dark place in which your kids are the bright lights and oh.

    so hard. so, so hard.

    praying. very much, praying.

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  55. this encourages me so much. praying for y'all as you shine for him.
    praise jesus for you being bent on his will.
    this is beautiful...so much i could say...but know, i get you.
    and i am with you. xo

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  56. Once again you inspired a post from me! Hope you like it! http://mysunnysideuplife.wordpress.com/2012/07/13/were-not-in-kansas/
    ~Connie

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  57. Oh girl, this is hard and it is good. My heart is both aching for you and cheering for you. I'm adding all your names to that post-it note on my bathroom mirror. I'm praying for you, friend - I really am.

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  58. I feel ya, We stayed in the city instead of moving to the county where you are "supposed" to move when your kids are going to move up to middle school. Thats when the schools can get rougher around here. Oh mamma they are going to come home with some stories that make you want to clutch them to your boosem and never send them back! :) BUT they can learn so much from it in a good way. they have a strong loving family at home and that will give them a soft place to fall. Our oldest son 19 just graduated high school he has the most diverse group of friends, kids from Africa, South America, Mongolia, Iran and some from our neighborhood. He has learned how to tell the difference in people not by there skin color or where they are from but by their actions, some people never learn that.

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  59. We moved to a rougher end of town - definitely not the inner city, but much different than where we've lived before. Most of our friends just say, "Its a ministry-rich area." :) Last night I went to the gas station in our new neighborhood. I left my kids in the car (they're old enough!) while I paid. While standing in line a couple of moms were in there with their man friends screaming and using the "f" word rather liberally. They were yelling at the attendant, who was Asian, but clearly spoke English. I finally got back to the car and my 14 y.o. daughter was like, "These people were scaring me." Sigh. I talked to them about being a light, but couldn't help but wonder if I shouldn't shelter them more. For Pete's sake, I home school them, I don't know how much more sheltered they can be. We hear our neighbors yelling at their kids, see the police visit semi-regularly, have an empty lot where a meth house burned down. But, I love this neighborhood. There are more good people than bad. I have neighbors that share their garden bounty. I, too, have to be careful at the park. My son has learned to avoid the bullies but also to accept the children who's manners may be lacking. My daughters and I are going to start a weekly crafting party in the garage and welcome the neighborhood kids, even the bullies. It has been more good than bad, and six months in I can tell you I never want to go back to anything else. This is exactly what we have prayed for. I'll be praying for you!

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  60. Thank you so much for your posts on this topic - and well, all your posts really. It convicts me and teches me. Keep em coming, cause I'm a slow learner ;). Just last night, before I read your post, my husband shared this Jon Foreman song with me. Makes me want to run toward the mess of this world - even though I have no idea what I'd do when I got there.
    Thanks for your honesty and encouragement.

    http://youtu.be/CauH3ibmXvQ?hd=1

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  61. Dearest Friend, I wish I wouldn't wait so long to comment. Life is either way to busy, or I battle illness these days. Always know that I do come by everyday and read, pray, and take in the comments that are left for you. You are loved. Shannan, sometimes in my life, I need encouragement, prayer, love, and understanding. One thing I always need, Truth. This is the world as we know it. Many have had few choices as to where they live, or maybe, they have had the choice and refused to live different. I meet many people because I have lived two different lives, and I can say for certain, most have the same struggles. The struggles include family, health, money, and most importantly, does He believe in me. The last issue is generally a quiet battle inside the soul. To drown out that voice, that is within each of us, their life is loud. In everything they say, or do. I only know this because I have lived it. I reach out to help make changes, sometimes it is evident, that it has worked. Other times, not so much. That doesn't keep me from offering. But one thing I always do when I witness sin, I look to my sins. They are there. My sins today might not be as loud as they once were, but their, there. In helping others if I can show them I have been a sinner, I am a sinner, and I have received salvation, I believe I'm more approachable.

    I adore you, but I must be honest, we are all with sin. We can't hide from sin, if we do we're hiding from ourselves. Maybe this is not always about who we're afraid this is going to affect in our lives. Maybe it is more about the fears that are deep within each of us.

    I only worry about my writing skills, when I comment here. Not the message. We know each other, so you know this about me. Please look to this time in your life, not such much what you will be bringing to others, but what you will be receiving from them.

    ~G~xo

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  62. I feel the same way you do about where we live. We moved from a nice little suburb in California, to the middle of nowhere Texas to be near my family. My grandma wanted to live here because her ancestors did, then my mom moved to be with her, then my sister moved to be with my mom, and now here I am. We now have a daughter and I look around wondering if this is where I want to raise her? Houses with no windows, cars with flat tires that NEVER move, "food stamps and WIC accepted here" signs in every store window, women at the grocery store who look like they haven't showered in days- with more kids than their car can hold, sex offender warnings dot the map like confetti. I want her to have more than this for her childhood. I don't want her to be friends with those children. I don't want to have to "check the sex offender map" before she goes to a new friend's house to play. But then again if we move she will be far away from her grandma, aunt, and great grandma who love her and see her often. I'm so torn, I'm glad I'm not the only one who feels this way.

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  63. I believe our children are our most prized treasures, given to us by God, to love, protect, and shield from the forces of evil, and the influences of the world. That doesn't mean we should not and must not be a light in darkness.

    It takes a strong and mature Christian to go into the inner-cities, and my hat is off to those who can and do, but children aren't strong or mature in their faith. They are mere children, which is why it makes your journey so much scarier.

    Having said that, we serve a mighty big God. I know He sends people to live in dark places, and I believe He is more than able to put a hedge around your children as they grow up and become a light to the ones in darkness around them.

    May God bless you and your husband with wisdom and courage and strength as you continue on this journey together.

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  64. Shannan, my mother/grandmother-heart hears you loud and clear... and I continue to pray for your family. God never asked me to do what you're doing, but He did require me to learn very early in my children's lives that HE was their ultimate protector; not me. He knew and loved them even before I did, and somehow incomprehensible to me, He loves them even more than I am capable. Will you wish some things were different for your kids? Almost certainly. Will God be bigger and mightier and more victorious than any of the negative influences your children will face? Without a doubt! Is there any place safer and more "right" than in the center of God's perfect will? No... May God's richest blessings walk right through the dangerous and unseemly -- and into the doors of your new home. As someone old enough to be your mother... I'm very proud of your and Cory's obedience and pray God will hear your pray to "fall in love" with your neighbors.

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  65. Praying for you ... and the sketchies :)

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  66. Shannan, your lives, your obedience, is making an impact on more people than you know. I appreciate your transparency--there sure are hard days--but it's also important that you keep sharing. Do NOT give in to the feeling of wanting to shelter your kids. God is so much bigger than anything that is out there, and He will be faithful to you and your kids. I love the comment above that referenced 2 Chronicles 20--God really does honor your obedience. Trust Him and LIVE!

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  67. okay when you said, "They lounge on towels on the dead grass like it's Daytona Beach, half their hind ends hanging out," I almost died. Then, I kept reading and I just couldn't help but stop in my tracks and thank Jesus for his work in your heart.

    I hope you won't hold back on the days that lie ahead that most definitely will be hard. You're gonna be stretched no doubt, but there isn't a thing in me that thinks you won't LOVE your neighbors. Jesus will infuse you with his love for them and it will spill out of you. I just know it. When you share these days of stretching, it challenges the rest of us. It forces us to think about the neighbors that we're loving or maybe not loving so much.

    Your kids will hear things and see things but so will all of our kids. My home schooled kids learned all the worst words and how to flick someone off from kids at church. I was thankful. It gave my kids the opportunity to decide who they want to be. They're getting chance after chance to know that apart from Christ, we can do nothing. These less than desired experiences that they keep getting as they get older and are more and more in the world are all teaching them this great truth....we're capable of anything without Christ's power at work in our lives and hearts.

    Our kids safety, and goodness knows their salvation, isn't reliant on where they go to school or where they live or which park they play in. I know you know this...like I know this...but sometimes (a LOT of the time) I can make it about me and what I'm doing for them to keep them safe and protected and around all the right people in all the right places.

    I can't promise that your kids will always be safe or that they'll never pick up really bad habits, but I can promise that God loves your kids way more than you do and He is with them. Nothing is ever wasted and he uses everything in our lives, even the crappy stuff, to lead us into an intimate relationship with himself and a dependence upon him.

    I'm praying for you as you continue on this adventure with the Lord. His work is mighty within you....thank you SO much for sharing the good and the bad days with us.

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  68. I have to take a humungous deep breath after reading this. I love your faith. And I want to be you when I grow up, except that I'm older than you and all. And somehow when you're pouring your heart out you can still manage to be funny! and poignant…and make me think….and I'm glad to know you.

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  69. You certainly deserve respect for all that you are doing & trying to do. But, as a mom that lost her daughter to cancer- I can say this. I will never be able to listen to or tolerate any parent saying they will beat their child. It's as if I'm being stabbed in the heart. Treasure your children every day, because they deserve it.

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  70. Ministry does not always happen within a church but, rather, in places where we meet life. Maybe there will be a park ministry. God bless you as you become familiar with His direction for you each day. He is right there beside you on the monkey bars. He is able and only asks that you trust Him. Oh, so hard to do sometimes but, many are praying for you and your family. Thanks for sharing it all in your posts. Sarah

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  71. Ok so I had to come back and read this again because it's like you climbed up in my head and wrote the post I've been trying to get down forever. I keep deleting my words again and again, this battle in our hearts seems hard to capture in words, I suppose. You (we) are being obedient and I have to believe that God is going to bless and use that to help teach my children (and yours) what it looks like to follow Him no matter what. Plus, I totally have to talk to Jayci about everything, there's no ignoring things when it's so out there in the open, you know?! :-) love you friend!

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  72. I love this post. Your heart just jumps right out and into the screen yelling at me. I think you should read the book "Framework For Understanding Poverty" by Ruby Payne. It won't help your heart stop hurting when you see these things, but it will help you understand better the cycle of poverty and how you can speak and react to them in ways that they will be open to. If that makes any sense....Keep hoping and loving your new little neighborhood :) God sent you there for a reason!

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  73. FPFG, you are one of my favorite bloggers! I love your funny, lighthearted posts and your more serious sided ones like this one. I know in "real life" we'd be friends! Anyway, let me come what I came to say...

    Every time I hear Casting Crown's song, "Jesus Friend of Sinners" I can't help but think of you and your family's amazing and brave adventure. You are doing it, you are choosing to follow Jesus into the fight for what so many of us would call the "lost cause." You are trying to reach out and be the friend to the sinners, the least of these, who like in one of your other wonderful posts you point out are just like us. We are all the least of these, some of us have just been taught how to hide that "leastness," but it is still there on the inside needing a Savior. Meanwhile, others are wearing that messy inside on the outside. And who among us (us clean well-behaved Christians) is brave enough, plucky enough, to follow Christ and be friends w/ the messy... well, you for one, FPFG. May God bless you and your family richly!!

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  74. As one who has lived the missionary life in my hometown, across the street from drug deals and with friends whispering, "You don't want to be there. It's a bad place." I hear you.

    p.s. living there was one of the most rewarding things I've ever done. And I tasted more love than I ever thought possible.

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  75. Don't know if someone already said this as I don't have time to read other comments, but have always been encouraged by how God raised Samuel without the influence of his mother and amongst such corrupt sons of Eli in the bible. ... Now to Him who is ABLE... To do these same things with our children. Have enjoyed reading your blog from over here in Australia where I am raising my kids away from my family in Canada.... Karin

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  77. See Tony Evans ministry and his one to one program for schools.

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  78. As important as it is to protect our child. We can't live a life of paranoia. If we live in constant fear we can't enjoy our life's.

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  79. i love your blog. i've been reading many of your old posts. this one grabbed me.

    "isn't life always about people?"

    YES, i couldn't agree more. my kids are now young adults. raising them was the hardest thing i ever did. especially during the teen years, when their live cris-crossed with peers. our lives turned out beautifull, but boy oh boy, it was not easy.

    you are an awesome writer. i think one of your best features is your writing comes directly from your heart. it's lyrical and beautiful.

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