I walked into my son’s inner city charter school to do “secret reader” and a swarm of little boys surround me.
“When can we have a playdate at your house?”
“When can I come over?”
“Can you call my mom, so I can do a spend the night at your house?”
Yes. Sure. Ok, give me her number. We’ll work something out.
Summer vacation would soon start and I was longing for a slower pace for my family. With this many different playdates unofficially scheduled, and this many hopeful hearts awaiting my phone call, I could spend the whole summer coordinating all of DJ’s buddies coming over.
It was in this conundrum that Warrior Week was birthed.
I devote a whole week to having the boys over, but we do structured activities and even Bible study so that it can have an eternal impact on these boys. My boy is happy. Mommy is happy. Neighborhood boys are happy.
What originally was going to be for 6-8 boys with just Mom running it, morphed into a planning meeting with some other people from the community, and 18 boys signed up.
Monday morning rolls around, 18 boys show up at my house.
Mom bit off more than she could chew.
And needed other’s to help swallow it.
Those other’s rallied around. bought lunches for the kids. brought snacks. showed up to run games. or mother my kids while I was engaged. And my husband cleared his schedule to come to my rescue.
What follows is the Facebook video and a posting snapshot of the rest of the week, plus pictures of our fun and craziness.
*the good and the hard are all listed in random order. because that is exactly.how.the.days.went.
Update on Warrior Week Day 1: High’s and Low’s LIST (in random order): Major volunteer not showing up last minute. Kids spitting out Bible verses every time they scored a touchdown. boys trash talking each other. captive audience on the couch as the Gospel is shared. Malachi (3 year old) melts down while we’re trying to corral everyone. boys eager to chant the Bible verses at lunch time. Boys fighting over who got to push Judah in the stroller. boys being annoyed because I made them have some quiet reading time. “shepherded” hearts through countless tussles. Bored looks. rejected lunches. holding a boy whose tears streamed down as he told me of being picked on ALL the time because he doesn’t do sports. speaking dignity into that boys life because he is an image bearer. little black hands, reaching to hold mine as we walked to the different “stations” in the neighborhood. What!?? These rough, trash talking boys were so eager for the love and affection they saw me giving to my other kids. Broke up a fight. showed up to a mother and explained why her son had a puffy eye. It would have felt like a day of defeat, except for when I showed up to explain that swollen eye.
BLOWN AWAY!! her boys eagerly explained back to their single mother exactly what I had been “preaching” all day long over.and.over.again. through all the trash talking. It had FELT like I was talking to a brick wall. Instead it was being absorbed by sponges.
She told me her story, and God told me the sacrifice is worth it:
She had a really rough upbringing, soley raised through different foster homes throughout Chicago. “Then a caucasian woman would pull up to our neighborhood with her van and take us to go have fun and learn about the Bible….just like what you’re doing actually. Ever since, I realized I needed God in my life and I can’t go a day with out reading the Bible for strength with all that I’m going through.”
IT IS WORTH IT. worth the mess. worth the stress. worth the time I could be doing other things. Aisis’ life was changed by a woman who SHOWED UP. God, grant me the grace to do the same…
Warrior Week Day 2 Update: So many HIGHS: 4 extra volunteers. Whole family+volunteers on knees in living room interceding for the day beforehand. 3 fewer kids. much better lunch. SIX memory verses under young warrior’s belts. epic “warrior capture the flag”. “mental warrior” quiet reading time+science experiment where kids were super engaged (thank you, Melissa Jackson DeBardeleben!!) Loitering, bored teens in the community wanting to come “help” with the sports part. speaking dignity, purpose and calling into them as teens and our “need” for them to help with younger guys. no bullying, no trash talking, no fights, no puffy eyes. End of day male volunteers laying hand on each warrior to pray specific prayers over their lives. AND we just found a camp up north that is going to allow us to come for the day to do a “Warrior Retreat” next month!
And to top it off, my older three kids went on a playdate, and younger three all slept AT THE SAME TIME which enabled me to have a meeting this afternoon without six thousand interruptions!
THANK YOU for everyone who has been praying and who have contacted me about helping! Please continue to pray for us, that these boys would meet Jesus, and become disciples that eventually make disciples in this community.
Warrior Week Day 3: High points: Two bored neighborhood teens coming “to help”, then being put in charge of quizzing the kids on their Bible verses, and THEN being the ones chanting the loudest by the end of the day! Kids that missed yesterday jumping right back into things. Seeing sweet Perimeter faces, Lara Williams and Jennifer Kay Self, Julie Townsend, Bethany Buck (Robert Buck) who just jumped right into the chaos and were proactively helpful. AND brought lots of extra food. Having enough adult bodies for kids to have a 2 to 1 ratio for Sword Drills (practicing verses) in every single corner of my house. Tough Little boys reading Dr. Seus to Judah (10 Months) after I explained to them that reading to babies and kids help develop their minds and helps them do better in school. Captive audience for the Jesus Storybook Bible read-aloud. Melissa Jackson DeBardeleben coming to the rescue and providing all the supplies for todays science experiment. Danny playing basketball full force with kids when just 7 months ago he couldn’t even lift his torn shoulder. sweaty hugs from little ballers. devoured watermelon. Inner city boys experiencing granola. “who made this stuff?!?” made me chuckle. acrobatic back flips done with ease….and that scare me to death. Brand new “Japanese” game Danny Iverson made up off the cuff because everyone was getting restless. Closing prayer time where each kids individually got prayed over by volunteers. These boys are winning.my.heart. The highs definitely outweighed the lows of how exhausting it was and the side biting comments that continually have to be address. Dr. appointments, insurance company phone calls, and random errands that I still haven’t done bc i just want to zone out after its all over. So many hearts need to be shepherded through it all, including my own, but God is working, and I’m trying to trust him with all the other “details” of life.
Warrior Week Day 4: High’s and Low’s in no particular order: Bill Sandman
showing up with his guys to do sports with the boys. The boys really responding with respect to the “new coach”. a beautiful day. a late volunteer, leading to a last minute scrambling and change of plans. two boys that couldn’t come today…which actually made the day run more smoothly.Doing burpee’s with boys to run energy off in between reading time and science time. Courtney Ellen Swanson Hester jumping right in AND leading a stellar science experiment. thirteen memorized Bible verses. me offending and undermining another leader. restoration of relationship after offense. the power of the Gospel to free us to openly confess ways we have failed and find forgiveness. getting caught in a downpour. (a summer isn’t complete, without a soaking!) popsicles. (thank you Marybeth White Edgecomb) unsettling encounter with a neighbor. praying over boys lives individually at the end of the day. boys requesting “boy band style”” Scripture songs we have playing in our car. BLASTING songs and singing hearts out.. slumping onto a stool to drink coffee and chat about the day with Courtney and Marybeth, tired, but standing in faith that God will somehow use this despite my floundering running of it.
Warrior Week Day 5: It’s all highs. torrential downpours. on-our-knees prayer time. revamped schedule. stern talk with boys who disrespected yesterday. boys learning to be men by owning their failures, looking people in the eyes and apologizing. boys begging to come, even in the rain. long Bible time. massive wrestling match….that turned a little too massive and ended in some tears. Marybeth White Edgecomb sending her son Sandy down to help corral boys. game stations inside my house. basketball games…IN MY LIVING ROOM. boys journaling about what they learned this week. my other kids eagerly filling snack backs. tough teen carrying adorable 2 year old baby sister along because no one else could watch her at home today. boys jamming out to Bible verse songs. the sense of family that this week created. Getting to treat the boys to the local wings restaurant, thanks to the generosity of Ken Murphyand Susan Murphy. My incredible husband, Danny Iverson, who loves his wife even when she bites off more than she can chew…and he has to come to the rescue and help her swallow it. The prayers and support of God’s people through this week. God answered. He showed up. and you all showed up. and I believe God is going to show OUT through these boys and the spark of life and purpose that these guys experienced this week.