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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Of Oreos and Redemption

Once a month, our family ventures down to the inner city of Atlanta. We prepare and serve dinner to a group of at-risk children who live in the neighborhood. It's a rough, unsightly part of town and the block is well known as the heroine capital of the Southeast.

We started serving at this place when we were just the little family of four -- Dan, me, Madeline & Davis. When we started, we mostly did it so we could check off our monthly "serve the poor" box on our mental checklists. But these days we go down there because we genuinely enjoy it. I love the people and the fellowship. I especially love the realness of the place and the total lack of pretention.

Tonight I sat and talked with a formerly homeless woman who now works as a counselor at the same homeless shelter that rehabilitated her just a few years prior. Trust me, that's a conversation I won't be having in my neck of the woods.

We also love that we can bring our children with us to this place and let them serve alongside us -- typically, Madeline and Davis set the tables and hand out plates of food once I get everything prepared. They sit and eat the meal with the children and afterwards, they help us clean up.

Tonight was our second time to serve dinner since Hannah and Joseph have been home. The first time, I took it easy on them -- I mean poor kids, they'd only been in America for two weeks, they were hardly speaking any English and had no idea what was going on. I just let them hang out and play and sit and be served. But this second time, I decided they were ready to be put to work.

Madeline, Dan and Baby Charlotte couldn't make it tonight so it was just me and the triplets. We pulled into the parking lot around dinnertime with a trunk full of yummy smelling food and Joseph says "yea, dinna!!" And I say "no buddy, we're here to work." And he frowns and says "wook?" And I say "we will eat dinner but first, you, Davis, Hannah and Mommy are here to serve."

So he reluctantly follows me inside the building. As soon as we get inside he perks up because notices the blacktop and basketball goal on the far side of the room. He and Hannah start to run off and play with the other children but I motioned them back. "No guys, we're here to serve."

They were a little disturbed and disgruntled at first but eventually, my little team got to work. Hannah was the Manager of the Plate of Oreos.

And the Dynamic Duo set the table (which actually had to be re-set three times but eventually it did happen).

Less than a year ago, Hannah and Joseph were orphans. They were malnourished, sick, filthy and utterly alone. Today their lives couldn't be more different. Now they are the well-fed, nicely dressed, healthy children coming in, with their stay-at-home-Mommy, to serve those less fortunate. Now that's some redemption.

March 2010

Before we even finished the meal, I found myself standing over a huge pot of mac n cheese with tears streaming down my face. I couldn't help but think... isn't that why God saves and redeems any of us? For HIS purposes. For His pleasure. For His kingdom. Not just so we can go to Heaven.

He has a great plan and a purpose for each of us. May we not squandor our salvation and His redemptive work in our lives.

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. -- Jeremiah 29:11


Lara said...

Great, now I want Oreos and I'm feeling over-emotional after first seeing your kiddos in Bereaved and seeing them now. Thanks.

La Dolce Vita: The Sweet Life said...

Redemption indeed. Such a preious example of what God alone can do. Very inspirational!

The Fruitful Family said...

Wow - what He can do - to bring beauty from ashes! Thank you, sweet Jesus, that you redeemed us on the cross. And thank you for showing us how we can live out redemption in our lives.

J. Smith said...

Shelly! I was at the Created For Care retreat and I just loved finding out about your ministry. Some girls in our church are hoping to show your film soon. Love reading about your family!!

Becca said...

I love this my friend! :-)God's redemption is such a beautiful thing!

Alison said...

Such a beautiful story of redemption!! Love that your children are already serving others too!

Chasity said...

You are so right on with this Shelly! Great thoughts.