Is Any One Looking For You?

The best way to sum up our weekend at the Smoky Mountain Children’s Home is this:

“We went looking for them, and in return, they came looking for us.” Rick Nichoson during devotions after our last day of working at the Children’s Home

The first day, Friday, was full of hard work, laughter (mostly because half of the team arrived in Tennessee around 3 a.m. and were so slap-happy they couldn’t help it), and fellowship; but the second day, Saturday, we all experienced something I’m positive none of us would trade for the world.

After The Crossroads’ team finished working on the last day, we took a tour of the campus which included a walk-through of one of the boys’ cottages. During the walk-through, we were able to talk to the kids and their fill-in house parents, learn about their schedules and rules, and even pass along some good advice to a few of them. Before we went on the tour, Brittany and Corey had gone to War-Mart to buy the kids a new basketball hoop and backboard because the one they had was falling apart. As they began to hang it up, we noticed the kids walking down the road from their cottage, heading towards us. This was the moment Rick was referring to.

We made an effort to spend time with those kids in their home, and whether we realized it or not, it meant a whole lot to them. Enough to the point where they came looking for US and wanted to talk and hang out with US. So, for the next two hours or so, we were able to socialize with all of them. Whether that meant playing basketball, throwing a football, spinning on the carousel, or just a simple conversation, we were able to be a part of their lives. Two hours may not seem like a lot of time, but at least for me, it was the most valuable two hours I’ve ever experienced.

I can’t speak on behalf of everyone else, but I was able to talk to one of the boys one-on-one for a while with my mom, Kristy. He opened up a lot to us and shared some very personal stories, and we were able to share some of ours in return. He shared that he has a child on the way, even though he is only 15, and that his father was never present in his life so he doesn’t know how to be a good one. It was a very intimate bonding moment that touched our hearts immensely.

We ended the workday with a nice conversation wit the groundskeeper, John, who informed us that we were one of the best, most hardworking groups he’d come in contact with. He expressed to us that our team had surpassed his expectations and went above and beyond what he had planned for us to do.

“Mission trips are all about sacrifice.”, said Pastor James, and what better way to sacrifice our time than following the will of God and working for His kingdom.

~ Riley Goodwin



It Was Good To Be A Carpenter… If Only For A Day

The ladies of LIFT participated in Habitat for Humanity’s 2017 Women’s Build project. We hammered nails, installed windows, cut 2x4s, put up fascia and soffits. We worked hard!

But seeing the joy on the face of Carol Swisher, the new homeowner, was worth the effort. To think we were the hands and feet of Jesus that day, and we helped make Carol’s dream of owning a home become a reality. It was good to be a carpenter… if only for a day.

Enjoy some thoughts from some of the women who participated.

“I woke up Saturday with many excuses to get out of doing Habitat for Humanity. I was tired, overworked, stressed and just battled a headache at 4:00 am. I was not feeling it. God, however, had other plans for me and I have to say “Thank you Lord for nudging me to go!”

Helping in the process of building a house was awesome. Not only did I learn something new (what a 2×4 is, installation process of windows, and hitting the nail without missing), I also got to do something for someone else, Carol Swisher.

It was a great day to spend with our ladies and awesome to see the amazing affects of teamwork. Thank you Sharon for getting this together and I look forward to doing this again in the future.” ~ Stacey Schafer

“Saturday was an amazing day! I was excited but didn’t know what to expect when we got there. The best part was meeting the lady who would get to live there. To be able to not only help her but to work along side of her was wonderful. Thank you for making this one of our outreaches!” ~ Pastor Jenn

“What a blessing it was to be a blessing in this way. To work side by side with the woman receiving the house and never asking for her story was huge. Working along side my church family was the best ever. It was awesome to use “un-churchlike” skills for the glory of God. I pray that we have more opportunities like this.” ~ Lorrie Darce

God Sees Single Moms

“At times I feel like life is asking me to draw from empty places. I have to be fun, super patient mom even when my reserve is on empty…” ~Shanita Hubbard

I am sure there are many days when a single mom is running on empty emotionally, spiritually, financially. Perhaps there are days when a single mom feels forgotten and alone. I am fairly certain that at times a single mom feels overwhelmed with the responsibility and fear of raising a child on her own. What I know for certain is that God sees single moms and He is aware of their struggles

In Genesis 16, Hagar, Sarah’s handmaiden, was young and pregnant with the son of Abraham. The relationship between Sarah and Hagar became filled with jealousy – Hagar wanted Abraham’s devotion and affection, and Sarah wanted to bear Abraham’s child. The tension escalated, and Hagar left home and fled to the desert. Here she was, pregnant, alone and vulnerable. Life wasn’t supposed to be like this.

But God saw Hagar and sent an angel to comfort and encourage Hagar. The angel told Hagar that the LORD had heard her affliction. Abraham and Sarah may not have known Hagar’s whereabouts, but God knew exactly where she was, and He was watching over her. He loved Hagar right where she was.

God is still watching over single moms. He hears their affliction. He understands their struggle. He cares and loves them unconditionally.

In our effort to convey the love of God to single moms, we held our first Single Mom Oil Change & Pamper event on May 13. Through the efforts of Rev. Rafael Martinez and Arlene Kelley, we were able to partner with O’Reilly Auto Parts (S. Chicago Heights, IL) and Intrigue Salon and Day Spa (Dyer, IN) for this event. While the men changed the oil, our LIFT ladies and Intrigue pampered the single moms with a paraffin wax hand treatment, massage, DVD, homemade goodies, and activities to keep the chilldren occupied while mom was getting pampered.

What a great way to acknowledge single moms, and remind them that God sees them, and that there are people at The Crossroads who also see them and care about them. The lives of single moms intersected with the love of Jesus Christ. Thank you to all who volunteered. A special thanks to O’Reilly’s and Intrigue for your generous donations.

See you next year!

A Little Appreciation…

“I was the dumbest kid in the class. I could not learn like the other students. I had less than a handful of teachers that took a special interest in me. Those few tried to help me when they could. I wanted to be a teacher so that I could take a special interest in all of my students and show them their areas of strength. I want to make the students who feel as I felt know that they have worth and intelligence. I want all of my students to know that ‘they can’ in whatever they encounter.” Lorrie Darce, Elementary Teacher, and member of The Crossroads

I believe teachers are very close to the heart of God. After all, one of the first things we see Jesus doing is teaching and investing his time in others. (Matthew 4:23). Jesus was never too busy to stop and listen to those who were “less than” in society’s eyes. Jesus called twelve ordinary men, mentored them, and taught them how to be disciples. Jesus saw through the false bravado, the insecurities, the fears, the doubt, and convinced these men that they could be world changers. The twelve disciples lived extraordinary lives, and accomplished extraordinary things – they changed the world – all because Jesus, the teacher, recognized their strengths, worth, and intelligence, and unleashed their potential.

At The Crossroads, teachers are close to our hearts as well. We understand the importance of teachers, and the responsibility they have in shaping the lives of those entrusted to their care. As a way of showing our appreciation for their labor of love for the children of Sauk Village, we provided a snack buffet for the teachers at Wagoner Elementary. Our buffet included fresh fruit, veggies, hummus, pretzels, multi-grain crackers, cheese cubes, salsa, tortilla chips, Elizabeth Martinez’ guacamole and Pastor Jenn’s cupcake topiary. Each teacher also received a Crossroads mug with a highlighter and note of appreciation. A simple way to show our appreciation, but I believe we touched the heart of God, and intersected lives with His love.

Thank you to Dorothy Hayes and Ruth Dykes for delivering the baskets, Clarita Riddle for preparing the gifts, and to Elizabeth & Pastor Jenn for the homemade goodies.

Off-Ramp Outreach