Live Freely and Lightly

February 23, 2012

Are you tired? Worn out?

Burned out on religion?

Come to me.

Get away with me and you’ll recover your life.

I’ll you show you how to take a real rest.

Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it.

Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.

I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.

Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.

~ Matthew 11:28-30 The Message


Teaching

February 21, 2012

Scott and I were honored and privileged to be able to share with the YWAM Tijuana/Baja Children at Risk School this past month. What a special group of students and staff. It was so encouraging to spend time with them.

We are amazed at just how much connecting you can really do over a skype teaching. It felt very intimate and real. We were so blessed to get to spend time with these people.

And we were delighted to see some responses to our teachings posted on the children at risk school website! How cool is that? Ever wonder what our teachings are like, what students think of it and what they take away from it? Well, now you can see for yourself…

Who He is, and Who That Means We Should Be

This week, week four, we had Scott Freeman teaching us on skype. Him and his wife Leslie used to lead the Children at Risk School and are now living in Jaco, Costa Rica reaching out to the families and kids in that community. They have four boys and have such an incredible love for children at risk, as well as their own kids. Scott lead us into a week of seeking out God’s nature and character, and in turn knowing the characteristics we should seek to know and share with the kids and families we will work with. Here are some writings to give you a glimps of the week:

“Kind of going along with that, I liked what Scott said about our hearts being in the right place when we are doing these things “for God” . We were reading in Isaiah how God said He was weary of the people’s burnt offerings. Their motivations were still selfish. They were just being religious not serving or sacrificing out of a place of true love or worship. So why do christians repel non-believers today? Well I think I’ve already stated the answer. Scott gave us an awesome quote from Dan Allander that says “God commanded his people to offer burnt offerings, and then said, ‘They make me sick.’ He wants us to live with a heart of passion for justice – period. Religious deeds, be it prayer, fasting, giving, sacrifice, song, or dance, turn God’s stomach when we do them without a heart for righteousness. And living out righteousness is no less than creating a holy, beautiful, sacred space for glory to grow. God doesn’t give us a to-do list; instead he calls our hearts to holiness and justice.” So I know for myself, I don’t want to serve the homeless or love the orphans in Mexico just to clear my conscience. I don’t want to just do a short term mission trip to check it off my list. I want to stop and buy the guy sitting outside the gas station hungry something to eat even if it means arriving late somewhere. I want to have a conversation and listen to the “crazy woman” in downtown Tijuana babbling because she just wants to be heard. I want to play a silly game with a neglected little girl at church even if it disturbs the service. I want to make a better effort so that the people in my life whether it’s my friends, family, man, woman, or child on the street feel like that take presidence over everything going on in the moment I am engaging with them-just like my Daddy would do.”- Michelle

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“I feel a little challenged by how he said people and things dont make us angry we CHOOSE to be angry, its all chose so we cant blames others for our actions. Because alot of the time i think in my head “they make me so angry” when really i am just choosing to be angry, even if they are provoking me. So ill be praying an working on that.”- Leah

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“I think one of my favourite things would be that Scott showed us that God is so faithful to fill the bible with people who basically screw up, make mistakes and lack faith! So many characters in the bible made mistakes but chose to walk with God. I loved that even Abraham, the Father of our Faith, lacked faith sometimes and made some really interesting decisions. It is interesting (and somewhat relieving!) that though God made a clear promise to Abraham to make him a great nation he still took things into his own hands, “assisted God” and had Ishmael. Classic case of thinking we know better than God! But still God was with Abraham and for Abraham and he did have a child with his wife Sarah. He still sought God and that is what I I must remember. Just seek God.

And I believe this is what I need to keep in mind and in my heart in life and ministry. If I can just keep my eyes on God and keep coming back to him then I can do all things through him who gives me strength. I can share my burdens and he will help take the load so that I can cope and keep going – when I am doing it all with him. It is a process but I am excited about how it will change my mind and perspective, my relationship with God. I am excited to see how this also effects the way I interact with my husband, my children, my family and all people in life. It is going to be amazing to see what a difference this will make and what I can do when God is my strength…”- Korrin

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“One thing that I had never thought of before was that God has put something in each of us for His pleasure…. and while we do this He delights in us, He dances and smiles over us…. this could be things like running, or drawing or dancing…. Thinking of this makes me smile. One of the first things that popped into my head when we talked about this is “He delights in me when I draw”. I have on the rare occasion picked up a pencil to draw something I see before me. I really enjoy doing this. It’s something I have wanted to develop and came prepared with a small sketch pad and pencils.

This quote got me thinking “Selfishness suffers when it cannot get what it wants. Love suffers when it cannot give it wants” God is love and we looked at Scriptures of how God is grieved when we don’t respond to His love, when we choose things over Him. Hosea 11:8 “… His compassion is stirred…” Mediation time! Am I embracing God’s love fully? I need to Let God love me and let that be an expression through my life.”- Rochelle

See the original post here: http://childrenatriskschool.wordpress.com/2012/02/07/who-he-is-and-who-that-means-we-should-be/

And Leslie’s Teaching,

We Are Getting More….

Development was our focus this week as we looked at how children grow, and how they learn. How do they develop trust, understanding, and a healthy idea of what is love and how to respond in love? Leslie Freeman walked us through Child Development during this week and really challenged us to, plainly said, “Get it.” Below are some of those thoughts that the students grabbed.

“Keeping that in mind, sided with the children we minister to weekly, I found the statement “ Children need love most when they appear to deserve it least” resounding in my mind. This is just as true for adults.”- Jodie

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“There will always be things in our lives which we will regret and I think this is especially felt on any level with my parenting as I love my children so much. My greatest desire is for them to grow into fully mature, God loving, kind, compassionate, considerate, accepting, joyful, thoughtful, courageous, resilient, personable, creative, imaginative, confident men who love life and others around them. And this week I have been reminded that I am a massive part of this process. Even now at 2, 5 and 7 years, the best way for my children to see how to live to their potential is to see myself living and striving to my potential. Powerful stuff! Challenging!”- Korrin

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“The first stage we looked at was a healthy attachment between a child and their primary caregiver. I didn’t understand any of this before and now I realize how critical it is that I do. Healthy attachment is fundamental to the rest of a child’s development. This attachment provides a sense of security. When this need is met explorative behavior begins as they are not so preoccupied with attachment. Out of a secure attachment as an infant a child will also be more resilient, and independent. Children who don’t have this need met can get stuck.
It’s automatically assumed, and I am guilty of that too, that a demanding child is a spoiled children. When in fact, they could just be children whose needs aren’t being met, so they try to meet their own needs…. To think, that out of their attachment relationship a child develops his / her internal view of themselves which they will carry through life. Wow!”- Rochelle

See the original post here: http://childrenatriskschool.wordpress.com/2012/02/21/we-are-getting-more/


So Encouraged!

February 10, 2012

Just wanted to share an email I sent out last night to about 20 people and the responses received in less than 14 hours… God is so good.

Hello Friends of Jaco!

I’m writing to you today about two very precious friends of ours and yours. Many of you know these two boys and some of you have even spent hours playing, painting and hanging out with them. Their names are Cristiam (14) and Yacser (13). I’m attaching a photo of them so you can see who I’m talking about.

These boys are from Nicaragua and live with their mom and dad, two sisters and little brother in Invu. Their dad is a taxi driver and their mom cleans houses and does whatever she can to put food on the table for her family. One of the biggest heart aches for her are these two boys and the fact that they are not in school. They missed an entire year of school last year because they did not have the correct papers from Nicaragua to be able to enter. This year Isabel, their mom, was confident she had what she needed to register them. The new school year starts this week.

Today I was riding home through Invu on my bike and Yacser shouted to me. I stopped to say hi and he told me that he and Cristiam would not be able to attend school again this year and that they had to go back to Nicaragua. My heart dropped. I couldn’t believe it. I went to stop by their house and talk to Isabel about what was happening.

When I pulled up Isabel was sitting outside on the street in a fluster. Her head was pounding. She couldn’t figure out what to do with her boys. Her mom’s heart is torn. She wants her boys to live with her, but she can’t find a way to get them in school and she knows they can’t miss another year. But if they go back to Nicaragua their options are limited as well and in addition they will be away from their family.

What do they need to be able to enter school? I asked.

Isabel could hardly give me a straight answer – stamps on this paper, stamps on that paper, another paper from Nicaragua, someone has to sign this one and then another has to sign that one. I have to travel to San Jose and then to this office and that one. The amount of money was beyond comprehension for her. This whole situation was looming over her head as one giant impossibility and she was sinking under the weight of it.

After talking for awhile and just listening, I tried to get clarification.

Isabel, I want to help you. Let’s figure out exactly what you need. Nothing is impossible with God. I know that He loves your boys even more than you do and He wants them in school and I believe He wants them to stay with you. Let’s see if we can figure this out. I had her sit down with me and list out all the necessary expenses. Travel to San Jose, bus fares, how much each stamp would cost for each paper, uniforms, notebooks. We wrote it all down together and then added it up. The total amount is $300.

I know that’s a lot. Most of it is for the stamps for the papers – silly bureaucracy stuff, but without it they cannot enter school.

I think the greatest investment you can make is into education for the poor. Without it these boys will end up on the streets, with little options for their life. With a high school diploma many doors will open up to them.

My next question was for the boys. Are you ready for this? I said. Are you ready to study? Yes!! They responded. Cristiam wants to be a police officer and Yacser wants to be a pilot. Wouldn’t that just be amazing? But if they miss yet another year of school, this possibility narrows even more.

I sat with Isabel, held her hand and we prayed. We put it all in God’s hands. I have faith in my heart that He wants to provide for this.

Between all of us I wonder if we could come up with $300? If we all gave just a little, it might just make the difference in these boys’ lives.

And here’s the guarantee – I promise you that if we come up with this money together, I will deliver it to Isabel. She will go to San Jose on Tuesday. The papers will be all completed in 8 days and the boys will be in school by the following week.

Here’s the other positive. There is a program that is part of Iglesia Radical that these boys can be a part of – it’s called Puentes de Esperanza. In this program they learn wood working skills, work ethic, discipleship, mentoring, and accountability. Through their work at the program they earn money for their uniforms, books, food and everything they need to stay in school for the year. But they can’t enter this program if they aren’t in school.

I really believe these boys have a chance to be successful. With a supportive church community around them, we can make sure they don’t fall through the cracks.

Will you pray and ask the Lord if you should be a part of this?

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this and pray about it. Together we have the opportunity to make a huge difference in the lives of these boys and their family!

If you would like to give you can donate through paypal, that would be the fastest and easiest way, using this email address. For other ways to give go here: https://fivefreemans.wordpress.com/get-involved/finances/

If you make a donation, please email me and let me know that you did and the amount so I can make sure to designate the donation for these boys.

This is an urgent request. Every day that passes, these boys are another day behind. They need to enter school as soon as possible. I would like Isabel to have what she needs so she can head to San Josr Tuesday, Feb. 14 if possible.

Please pass this email on if you know someone who would be interested in helping with this.

Much love from Jaco,

Leslie

Responses:

Leslie,
I just read this and it really touched me.  Please let me know how much more they still need.
Thank you.

I received $50 through paypal from a friend with this note:
With Love, for Isabel, Yacser, and Christiam 

Hey guys, I just sent $40 through Pay Pal for the boys. Just want to make sure you guys get it! Also, just keep me posted on what’s going on. If you don’t get all of it by the 14th just let me know! Love you guys! Miss you so much!

Hey guys – Thanks for the update and heart you guys have. We donated $75. Let us know how things work out! we will be praying.

Hey I can give $70 dollars! It’s in cash. Whats the best way to get it to you? Hope this helps! Love you guys!

We sent $100 thru PayPal.  If you are short let us know and we will make up the difference. What a blessing to be able to help?.  Let’s get those boys in school.

And just like that we received over $300 for this sweet family.

The body of Christ in action!

Are you encouraged?

I am so encouraged!!!

We’ll keep you updated.


Finding Comfort in the Word

February 8, 2012

Taking comfort from 2 Corinthians 4, The Message

We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken.

So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.


The Reality

February 5, 2012

I just read this recent post in the Tico Times:

Costa Rica lags in sex-trafficking fight

It’s important because it highlights the reality of what is happening in Costa Rica, and particularly Jaco.

Contrast that painful reality with the beautiful smiling faces in the post below, and I guarantee your heart will break.


It’s More than Just Painting ~ What’s Actually Happening When Children Learn to Paint

February 5, 2012

January was Art Month at El Refugio.

It is our summer break here in Costa Rica and children as well as adults flocked to the art table each afternoon to learn from our visiting art teacher how to paint with water colors. We also had special morning sessions for those showing an interest for a more intense project. It was a huge success!

So when we talk about painting and children, a few questions may come to mind:

Why invest time in teaching a child to paint?

What is the value of it?

What difference will painting really make in a child’s life?

Well, when a child is learning to paint, much more is happening than meets the eye. Especially for children at risk who do not have these opportunities in their homes, schools or communities.

There are actually a lot of reasons why art is a big focus for us at El Refugio.

It’s Essential for Brain Development 

Creative activities, like painting, help the brain develop.

Listen to this:

Physiologically, the human brain consists of 2 parts, the left and the right hemisphere.  The left brain is used in logical thinking and analytical processes.  This is typically what is trained in school work that consists of math, reading and science.

The right brain is used in emotional perception, intuition and creativity.  It is the right brain that is mainly used when a person is involved in creative endeavors such as making art.  It is this part of the brain that typical school environment neglects to train.

It is shown that when gifted kids solve problems in their areas of giftedness, there is increased electrical activity in both hemispheres.  It appears that for the brain to be efficient, the two hemispheres of the brains must work together.  By stimulating and exercising the right hemisphere of the brain, the arts strengthen the connection between the hemispheres.

Kids should be exposed to the arts as their cognitive skills mature so that their right brain will be as developed as the left, and both hemispheres work in tandem, thus achieving the full potential of the mind.

Through painting children learn to think creatively, with an open mind

They learn to express themselves more deeply,with or without words.

They develop critical-thinking skills and must make decisions about what works and what doesn’t on their own.

By learning to paint, children gain a skill which they can be proud of. It gives them a foundation to look at the world with confidence,  knowing they can accomplish a goal.

For children with physical, emotional or learning challenges, they can experience success in the arts.

The response they get from others in regard to their work can boost their self-confidence. Because there is no right way in the arts, children who paint can be proud to be unique and to express their artistic style.

Children need to work with other children and adults while they’re learning to paint. This interaction will boost their confidence, and also give them social skills to help them in other aspects of life.

Painting provides a sanctuary for children. When they’re stressed, they can turn to painting to lose themselves in the brush strokes.

The act of creating provides a soothing place for them to turn to, and the feeling of accomplishment from completing a project can help replace negative feelings about other things.

It can act as a type of therapy, helping bring out their feelings through painting.

Children who are involved in painting gain a lifelong appreciation of art. By teaching children this skill, you’re also opening them up to an entire world of artistic expression.

For this little toddler, his very first scribbles represent a huge milestone in his physical development.

This mom painted for the very first time in her life. Through the weeks we saw her confidence soar and joy increase as she came with her children to paint each day.

This is our bulletin board. I wish you could see the children’s faces when they enter and see that their piece of work is proudly displayed!

Expressing themselves through painting allows children to take part in an activity that is fun and fulfilling.

It will help develop a stronger brain, give them critical-thinking skills, make them more creative, and provide a daily refuge they can turn to for stress relief.

And that’s why painting with children is more than “just painting.”

It’s worth the mess, the clean up, the time and energy. It’s worth it all. Because the benefits are so huge.

To truly appreciate the beauty and joy captured in these photos you have to understand where these children are coming from.

They live in small, cramped houses. Often single parent homes, or being raised by an older sibling. Abuse and incest is at 67% in Costa Rica and in these poor neighborhoods we would estimate it’s more at 95%. They see pain and suffering every single day.

They live in a town where women and children are being sold for sex and drugs are available on every street corner. They attend poorly funded schools with little or no resources.

For these children painting truly is more than just painting. For these kids painting becomes a refuge. A safe place they can go to in the midst of a chaotic and dangerous environment. A healing balm for their weary hearts. A rest from constantly living in survival mode, always ready for fight or flight.

Don’t you see? Their brains can’t develop to their full capacity in this state of being. To grow as human beings they need space to play, create and just be kids.

I’ll say it again. It’s more than just painting! It’s providing children with an essential piece of development that they are missing.

A big thank you to our special art teacher, Julia. You gave a huge gift to the children of this community. You gave more than just your time and talents, you gave a piece of your heart as well. We are so grateful.

Happy Painting!

With Much love from Costa Rica,

Scott and Leslie