Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Parenting Discussion Group at Willow Pond!

We are very excited about the parenting discussion group that has started at Willow Pond.  The residents met last Wednesday to discuss and voice some of the concerns and frustrations that come with parenting their children.  The parents enjoyed the time and requested a second meeting.  So, today at 7pm we will have a second discussion group, and each parent who attended the group last week wanted to bring another resident with them!  We are excited to see where this goes, and all are welcome to attend!  See you today at 7pm in the Willow Pond Community Center!

-- Behind Every Door Ministries

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Lou Anne Gets Her Catfish

You can normally find Lou Anne Taylor (pictured above right) behind the door of her Village Oaks apartment. She’s lived there for 11 years. However on one particular summer morning I found her out front.  It wasn’t unbearable yet.  There was a little breeze and our conversation was like a feather caught in it…here and there, this and that.

Lou Anne sat in her wheelchair, her 49 year-old daughter Francis on the stairs. I grabbed a nearby folding chair. When we walk up to folks, we try to make a few things clear.  We are not law enforcement. We are not investigating them for wrong-doing. We are looking to make friends and help make their life better if we can.

And, in this case, next thing you know, Lou Anne is calling me “baby” and we are knee-deep in life.  I made a list of what would make her life better at Village Oaks—which included improving the air conditioning and getting a handle on the loud boys in the middle of the night.

I eventually asked about her story.  Maybe there are two reasons I ask about “story.” First, because everyone has one.  Second, because it gives great freedom.  They can tell me what they want.  And maybe I’ll tell a little of mine.  And all of the sudden we both have a new friend.

Lou Anne is 72 years old.  Most of her story took place in Minden, Louisiana.  She talks proudly about holding 3 jobs while raising Francis alone.  From 6am to 3pm she cooked and cleaned at the local Army base.  From 3 to 8pm, she worked as a maid in two private homes.

Lou Anne has trouble walking. She also has trouble with her heart. And diabetes. And emphysema. And arthritis.  And “a couple other things; I forget.”

I also learned some of Francis’ story. She lost her husband in 2008.  She likes BBQ. She doesn’t think she goes to church enough. She works full-time for a company which produces linens…often leaving the apartment well before dawn. “So you live here?” I asked.  “Yes.  She needs me,” she responded while pointing to her mother.

Lou Anne has a few opinions. At one point in the conversation Lou Anne mentioned the “babies having babies” around Village Oaks…the problem of young ladies having children in order to collect welfare.  Lou Anne took a different approach.  “What did you do with Francis?” I asked. Francis cut in to give me the answer herself:  “She turned me around!” As in spanking. Lou Anne concurred: “Yessir!”  In summary, I can tell you Lou Anne’s opinion is that parenting is the answer.

Lou Anne typically crosses Overton Road on Sundays to Kingdom Missionary Baptist Church for the 11am service. I told her someday I’ll bring my family.  And then maybe we could all have lunch together. She smiled.  I asked her what she’d like. “Catfish.” I told her I'm from California and we don't really do catfish.  But I would try it.

I don’t remember how heaven came up in our conversation.  Maybe we were day-dreaming because of the increasing temperatures beginning to treat us like a frog in a frying pan.

“I ain’t doing this again!” she said, referring to the temperature down there.

“What do you think it’s going to be like in heaven?” I asked.

“Better than this,” she said, referring to her current life.  “Livin’ with God.  Every day a holiday.” 

It’s true that heaven is going to be better than living in Lou Anne’s current body, in her current apartment.  And, until then, we have an opportunity with every Lou Anne that we meet…to love.  To build friendships, to serve, and to bless and enrich their lives however we can. We’ll work on the air conditioner and work on those loud boys. We've already taken care of the catfish, dropping it off one morning. She ate it for breakfast. And yes, we had a great time!

-- Dean Wilson

Friday, September 24, 2010

Real Men Go to Work. Literally.

The Real Men of Willow Pond came to the Behind Every Door office recently for a look in to what 'work' can look like.  We wanted to show the boys that Real Men do go to work, and work is a good thing.

We had a great time!  We had a business lesson, explaining the Behind Ever Door model.  We are not sure how much of the lesson went on deaf ears, but the boys asked great questions.  The boys were able to see us at work, working hard to make a living.  They saw us interact with each other: laughing, discussing, making decisions.

We took them across the hall to Providence Energy, where they learned about Oil and Gas companies.  They were invited by Mike Allen to find some food and drinks in the refrigerator.  This was interpreted as an 'open-ended' invitation: the boys went back several times for cokes and candy, leaving the refrigerator empty by the end of the day!

Then came the loud noises from the front of the office.  After looking in to the commotion, we found a wonderful game of dodge ball going on.  We decided it would be best to harness the energy produced from several cokes and plenty of candy by sending the boys to drop pennies in the fountain and feed the ducks in the pond behind our office.

Music is a normal part of our work environment, but I can assure you I have never seen dancing in the office.  As the time to leave drew near, the boys decided the music was an invitation to dance.  So, dance they did!  There were back flips and hand stands, jumping and spinning.  It was a sight to see!

The boys reminded us of what we are after: making friends and sharing with friends the joy of following Jesus.  This is what is important.  Our business is simply a tool to help us do that.

-- Will Dowell

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Curtis Cokes - Champion of the World

Behind the Door of the large, steel building at the Village Oaks Apartments you will find Curtis Cokes: Hall of Fame Boxer and former Welterweight Champion of the World.

Curtis is a jolly man; fun-loving and regularly joking with those he knows well.  He's got stories you would hear from your grandfather.  Stories of the old days and stories of how things used to be.  He was once a Harlem Globe Trotter.  He also played baseball with the Brooklyn Dodgers organization.  He's a simple man and well respected - feared, in a reverent sort of way - by those he trains.

He jokes he chose boxing because the guys who played basketball were too tall.  His mother got him involved in boxing at the YMCA when he was 17.  Four years later he turned pro.  He boxed all over the world, well known for how he trained and his mean right arm.  The young guys who train in his gym still talk about his right arm as if it were a legend.

Curtis Cokes held the welterweight champion title from 1966 to April of 1969.  He left professional boxing in 1972 and opened The Home of Champions gym in Dallas to train young men.  The gym was eventually moved to Village Oaks Apartments in South Dallas, where he still coaches today.

Home of Champions is home to champions - several actually.  Curtis coaches athletes in his gym who have won world titles, and could win more.  His gym has even seen the likes of Holyfield train in the ring.  And, he presently has two guys he believes will win their weight class in the Golden Gloves of Dallas this year.  Then, they will turn pro.

Curtis cares for the guys he trains.  He wants the best for them, like a father.  Boxing to Curtis Cokes is not just a sport but also a tool.  His mother put him in boxing for discipline and character building.  To help him become a man.  Now, Curtis is doing the same with the young men who come to be trained by one of the best.  His legacy is not just a great, Hall of Fame boxer, but also a good man.  And, he wants to help young men grow to be good men, too.

-- Will Dowell

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Willow Pond Garage Sale

It was so great to be at Willow Pond today to witness the Community Garage Sale. A Mom of one of the kids in the Kids Club came to us a while back and told us she has lived at Willow Pond for most of the last 16 years. A lot of her family has lived there, too. She was so thankful for the Community Center and Kids Club and said, "It has never been like this." So, she proposed raising money for the Kids Club! She developed the idea for a Community Garage Sale where the residents could rent a parking spot to sell their stuff...with the dollars they paid for the spot going to the Kids Club!

Thank you to Suzanne Wallace and Tim Jackson for partnering with the residents today! Praise the Lord for what is happening at Willow Pond.

--Dean Wilson

Monday, September 13, 2010

A Night to Celebrate!

Suzanne recently invited some girls from W.O.W (Women of Wisdom) to partake in the celebration of my spiritual mother, Debbie Morris’ 50th birthday.  The girls were excited about the invitation and wanted to do something special for Debbie.

Debbie had no idea what was waiting for her and was completely surprised to see all her friends and family gathered together in her home. 

The girls from W.O.W. had spent the week rehearsing a dance to “God In Me” by Mary Mary, and most of the evening putting the final touches on their dance.  Finally, they were ready to give Debbie her present.

I led Debbie to the throne of honor and with an introduction as “The Willow Pond Dance Crew,” the girls performed their dance, delighting Debbie and her guests. I was so proud of them. The girls were amazing, and I have to admit I was smiling ear to ear.

Next, Kimoria handed me a CD to play. Clearly, it was time to get the party started! The newly appointed Willow Pond Dance Crew started things out with the Cha-Cha Slide. Suzanne and Debbie Molo (who teaches a cooking class at Willow Pond) seized the opportunity and joined the fun. One by one the guests followed. Finally, they talked Debbie Morris (the birthday girl) and me into joining along.
I’ll be honest: I still have a few moves!

In all, there were about 10 of us dancing away in the middle of the living room.
I must say the girls brought a little flavor to this 50th Birthday. The girls set the tone, and us old folks let loose.  It was a great night for a celebration!

-- Rickey Fanning

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Kids Head to the Cowboys Game

Turns out, it pays to do your homework.  At least, it paid off for Deldrick and Ariana.

Last Thursday, Deldrick and Ariana were given the opportunity to go to the Cowboys Game.  Jeff Turpin generously provided us with tickets to the game, and we were excited to share them with the kids at Willow Pond.  Deldrick and Ariana have been the most consistent with their homework, so they were invited to go to the game.

Thank you to Jeff for providing the tickets - the kids are very grateful, and so are we.  What a treat!  We might even have a steady stream of homework in the Kids Club from now on.

-- Will Dowell

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Another Miracle

I am learning a lot these days.  God is big.  Really big.  And, He can do big things.  He can heal the sick.  He can right the wrongs.  He can take a broken home and make it a shining example.  He can take you and me and use us to do good things.  We are truly blessed to serve such a good God. 

To use an idea from a book I read, I am ‘trying on’ promises of God.  Like a new pair of shoes.  I am not trying any harder to believe.  I am simply trying these on.  Trusting that He is who He says He is.  Many of His promises are promises that I already wear – He loves me, wants the best for me, provides for me, calls me His own, and includes me in His Kingdom.  But, there are some promises I have not yet tried on.

Existing with God’s Kingdom, and all the promises that come with it, is another kingdom.  A dark, nasty one.  We are all familiar with it.  Sickness, death, destruction.  No peace, no breaks, no rest.  We have all experienced this kingdom because it is all around us.  We all know what this dark kingdom can and will promise us.

I saw a glimpse of the nasty kingdom a few weeks ago at Willow Pond.  A friend I know named Brenda lives there.  She has a sick tooth that needs to be pulled.  It is painful and it is driving her blood pressure up, which is already an issue.  The catch 22 is this: the toothache is causing her blood pressure to go up.  But, because her blood pressure is too high, she cannot get the tooth pulled.

I saw Brenda by the Basketball Court on a Saturday morning during one of our Finish Strong Basketball Camps.  She told me about her sick tooth.  Taking her to the dentist was out of the question: she had already been and her blood pressure was too high.  I decided to ‘try on’ His promises - to trust Him.  So, I offered her the one thing I have: Jesus.  Stepping through the fear, I asked her if I could pray for her tooth and she said please.  We prayed, and I went back to the camp as she took her daughters to the pool.

The following Tuesday I saw Brenda.  She came to the Community Center and grabbed my arm.  “My tooth is fine!  I don’t have any pain – it is healed.”  We were both joyful and thankful to Jesus, who healed her sick tooth.

Really, there were two miracles.  God healed one of his beloved, Brenda.  She was in pain with a tooth that needed to be pulled.  Now, that tooth is fine.  And, He worked in me.  I ‘tried on’ His promise because I believe He is who He says He is: God is a good God who loves us dearly.  This is true for all of us - even when teeth are not healed.  I think I’ll keep on the shoes (promises) that go with His Kingdom, and keep looking to put on more.

-- Will Dowell