Life

We Can Stop Young Black Men From Being Jail Bound-It Happened in Chicago

Charter school in tough neighborhood gets all its seniors into college

Jubilation
Urban Prep Academy senior Keith Greer, along with his classmates, celebrates the news they will receive a free prom in Chicago because 100 percent of the graduating class was accepted into 4-year colleges or universities. (Tribune photo by Heather Charles / March 5, 2010)

The entire senior class at Chicago’s only public all-male, all-African-American high school has been accepted to four-year colleges. At last count, the 107 seniors had earned spots at 72 schools across the nation.

Mayor Richard Daley and Chicago Public Schools chief Ron Huberman surprised students at an all-school assembly at Urban Prep Academy for Young Men in Englewood this morning to congratulate them. It’s the first graduating class at Urban Prep since it opened its doors in 2006.

Huber man applauded the seniors for making CPS shine.

“All of you in the senior class have shown that what matters is perseverance, what matters is focus, what matters is having a dream and following that dream,” Huberman said.

The school enforces a strict uniform of black blazers, khaki pants and red ties — with one exception. After a student receives the news he was accepted into college, he swaps his red tie for a red and gold one at an assembly.

The last 13 students received their college ties today, to thunderous applause.

Ask Rayvaughn Hines what college he was accepted to and he’ll answer with a question.

“Do you want me to name them all?”

For the 18-year-old from Back of the Yards, college was merely a concept–never a goal–growing up. Even within the last three years, he questioned if school, let alone college, was for him. Now, the senior is headed to the prestigious Morehouse College in Atlanta, Ga. next fall.

Hines remembers the moment he put on his red and gold tie.

“I wanted to take my time because I was just so proud of myself,” he said. “I wanted everyone to see me put it on.”

The achievement might not merit a mayoral visit at one of the city’s elite, selective enrollment high schools. But Urban Prep, a charter school that enrolls using a lottery in one of the city’s more troubled neighborhoods, faced difficult odds. Only 4 percent of this year’s senior class read at grade level as freshmen, according to Tim King, the school’s CEO.

“I never had a doubt that we would achieve this goal,” King said. “Every single person we hired knew from the day one that this is what we do: We get our kids into college.”

College is omnipresent at the school. Before the students begin their freshman year, they take a field trip to Northwestern University. Every student is assigned a college counselor the day he steps foot in the school.

The school offers an extended day–170,000 more minutes over four years compared to its counterparts across the city–and more than double the number of English credits usually needed to graduate.

Even the school’s voicemail has a student declaring “I am college bound” before it asks callers to dial an extension.

Normally, it takes senior Jerry Hinds two buses and 45 minutes to get home from school. On Dec. 11, the day University of Illinois at Champaign- Urbana was to post his admission decisions online at 5 p.m., he asked a friend to drive him home.

He went into his bedroom, told his well-wishing mother this was something he had to do alone, closed the door and logged in.

“Yes! Yes! Yes!” he remembers screaming. His mother, who didn’t dare stray far, burst in and began crying.

That night he made more than 30 phone calls, at times shouting “I got in” on his cell phone and home phone at the same time.

“We’re breaking barriers,” he said. “And that feels great.”

deldeib@tribune.com
Copyright © 2010, Chicago Tribune

Matt Chandler: Suffering Well

By Eric Gorski Associated Press
DALLAS — Matt Chandler doesn’t feel anything when the radiation penetrates his brain. It could start to burn later in treatment. But it hasn’t been bad, this time lying on the slab. Not yet, anyway.

Chandler’s lanky 6-foot-5-inch frame rests on a table at Baylor University Medical Center. He wears the same kind of jeans he wears preaching to 6,000 people at The Village Church in suburban Flower Mound, where the 35-year-old pastor is a rising star of evangelical Christianity.

Another cancer patient Chandler has gotten to know spends his time in radiation imagining that he’s playing a round of golf. Chandler on this first Monday in January is reflecting on Colossians 1:15-23, about the pre-eminence of Christ and making peace through the blood of his cross.

Chandler wears a mask with white webbing that keeps his head still as the radiation machine delivers the highest possible dose to what is considered to be fatal and incurable brain cancer.

This is Matt Chandler’s new normal. Each weekday, he spends two hours in the car — driven from his suburban home to downtown Dallas — for eight minutes of radiation and Scripture.

Chandler is trying to suffer well. He would never ask for such a trial, but in some ways he welcomes this cancer. He says he feels grateful that God has counted him worthy to endure it. He has always preached that God will bring both joy and suffering but is only recently learning to experience the latter.

Since all this began on Thanksgiving morning, Chandler says he has asked “why me?” just once, in a moment of weakness.

He is praying that God will heal him. He wants to grow old, to walk his two daughters down the aisle and see his son become a better athlete than he ever was.

Whatever happens, he says, is God’s will, and God has his reasons. For Chandler, that does not mean waiting for his fate. It means fighting for his life.

———

Thanksgiving morning. Chandler pours himself a cup of coffee, feeds 6-month-old Norah a bottle and — as he is about to sit down — collapses in front of the fireplace.

Chandler has no recollection of the seizure. He bit through his tongue and punched a medic in the face.

At a hospital, Chandler gets a CT scan, followed by an MRI.

Not long afterward, the ER doctor delivers the news: “You have a small mass on your frontal lobe. You need to see a specialist.”

It was Thanksgiving. Chandler had not seen his kids — Audrey, 7, Reid, 4, and the baby — for hours.

He had collapsed in front of them. For whatever reason, those grim words from a doctor he’d never met did not cause his heart to drop. What Chandler thought was, “OK, we’ll deal with that.” Getting the news meant he could go home.

———

Chandler can be sober and silly, charming and tough. He’ll call men “bro” and women “mama.” He drives a 2001 Chevy Impala with 144,000 miles and a broken radio. He calls it the “Gimpala”

One of Chandler’s sayings is, “It’s OK to not be OK — just don’t stay there.”

Chandler’s long, meaty messages untangle large chunks of Scripture. His challenging approach appeals, he believes, to a generation looking for transcendence and power.

His theology teaches that all men are wicked, that human beings have offended a loving and sovereign God, and that God saves through Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection — not because people do good deeds. In short, Chandler is a Calvinist, holding to a belief system growing more popular with young evangelicals.

Chandler grew up a military kid, moving around the country until landing in Galveston, Texas. He was taught that Christianity meant not listening to secular music or seeing R-rated movies. His views began to change when a high school football teammate started talking about the Gospel.

After college Chandler became a fiery evangelist who led a college Bible study and traveled the Christian speaking circuit. He was hired from another church in 2002 at age 28 to lead what is now The Village Church, a Southern Baptist congregation that claimed 160 members at the time.

The church now meets in a renovated former grocery store with a 1,430-seat auditorium; two satellite campuses are flourishing in Denton and Dallas, and Chandler speaks to large conferences.

“What Matt does works because it resonates with the deep longing of the soul the average person can’t even identify,” said Anne Lincoln Holibaugh, the church’s children’s ministry director.

———

Tuesday after Thanksgiving. Chandler and his wife, Lauren, meet with Dr. David Barnett, chief of neurosurgery at Baylor University Medical Center.

The weekend had brought hope: A well-meaning church member who is a radiologist looked at Matt’s MRI and concluded the mass was encapsulated, or contained to a specific area.

But Barnett delivers very different news. He saw what appeared to be a primary brain tumor — meaning a tumor that had formed in the brain — that was not contained. It had branches.

Chandler is facing brain surgery. He schedules it for that Friday, Dec. 4.

Questions start to haunt him. Am I going to wake up and be me? Am I going to wake up and remember Lauren?

The surgery begins around 2 p.m. A biopsy determines that it is, indeed, a primary brain tumor.

As far as Chandler knows, there is no history of cancer in his family. His tumor, like most others, was likely caused by a genetic abnormality, Barnett says.

The surgeon is aggressive, pushing to remove as much of the mass as possible.

“You cannot be a timid neurosurgeon when you deal with these things,” Barnett says later. “Your first shot is your best shot at treating this.”

Seven hours after entering surgery, Chandler is wheeled to intensive care.

He wakes to Barnett’s voice.

“Matt … Matt … Who am I?”

He knows the answer. Relief. His left side is numb. His facial expressions are frozen and his voice has no pitch, what doctors call a “flat affect.”

This is all good, leading Barnett to believe he pushed hard but not too hard.

Each day after the surgery, Chandler gets better, stronger.

“The first four days were just … not scary, but hard,” Lauren says. “I’m wondering, ‘How much of this will stay? … How much of this will be the new normal?’”

Tuesday after surgery. Barnett meets with Lauren and Brian Miller, chairman of the church’s elder board. Barnett tells them the tumor was malignant. Such tumors send tiny fingers of cells beyond their borders — and eventually a branch will reach back and grow another brain tumor, Barnett says.

Barnett asks Lauren and Miller to keep the diagnosis to themselves for a week so Matt can concentrate fully on recovering from surgery.

On Dec. 15, Barnett shares the pathology results with the Chandlers. Tumors are designated by grade — with Grade 1 being the least aggressive and Grade 4 being the most.

Chandler’s tumor is a Grade 3.

The average life expectancy, Barnett says, is two to three years. The doctor says he believes Chandler will live longer because of the aggressive surgery, treatment and Chandler’s otherwise good health. There’s also a chance the cancer goes into remission for years.

Before the meeting ends, Matt prays that his children and others do not grow resentful.

“Lord, you gave this to me for a reason. Let me run with it and do the best I can with it.”

Chandler says learning he had brain cancer was “kind of like getting punched in the gut. You take the shot, you try not to vomit, then you get back to doing what you do, believing what you believe.

“We never felt — still have not felt — betrayed by the Lord or abandoned by the Lord. I can honestly say, we haven’t asked the question, ‘Why?’ or wondered, ‘Why me, why not somebody else?’ We just haven’t gotten to that place. I’m not saying we won’t get there. I’m just saying it hasn’t happened yet.”

Later, Chandler clarified that. There was one moment when he saw a picture on a Christmas card of a man who chronically cheated on his wife and thought, “Why not that guy?” He says it was wicked to think that.

———

Monday, Jan. 4, a month after surgery. Morning breaks with Reid singing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” Chandler sits at his laptop in the dining room, nursing a cup of green tea.

He’s preparing to drive to a clinic for an infusion of Vitamin C to bolster the immune system, followed by radiation in downtown Dallas. He’s in the midst of a six-week program of radiation and chemotherapy, to be followed by a break and more treatment.

Chandler never thought such a trial would shake his faith. But until now, that was just hope.

“This has not surprised God,” Chandler says on the drive home. “He is not in a panic right now trying to figure out what to do with me or this disease. Those things have been warm blankets, man.”

Chandler has, however, wrestled with the tension between belief in an all-powerful God and what he can do about his situation. He believes he has responsibilities: to use his brain, to take advantage of technology, to walk in faith and hope, to pray for healing and then “see what God wants to do.”

“Knowing that if God is outside time and I am inside time, that puts some severe limitations on my ability to crack all the codes,” he says.

Chandler has preached the last two weekends and is planning trips to South Africa and England. He lost his hair to radiation but got a positive lab report last week and feels strong.

“If he suffers well, that might be the most important sermon he’s ever preached,” said Mark Driscoll, pastor of Seattle’s Mars Hill Church and a friend of Chandler’s.

Chandler is drinking life in — watching his son build sandcastles at the park, preaching each sermon as if eternity is at stake — and feeling a heightened sense of reality.

“It’s carpe diem on steroids,” he says.

At the dinner table on the sixth day of radiation, new normal looks like this: Reid in Spiderman pajamas. Peanut butter and jelly dipped in honey for the kids, turkey chili for the adults.

And peppermint ice cream.

It is a diaper changed, dishes done.

Matt Chandler takes his chemo pills and goes to bed, grateful for another day.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

This is the Gospel at work…suffering will expose what it is you value most

My Wife, Multiple Sclerosis, and an Eternal Perspective

My beautiful and incredible wife wrote this after being re-diagnosed with M.S. this last week. I wanted to share this in hopes that it not only tell her story, but more Christ’s story and the magnitude of what He has done and is doing in her life……..

So after 7 years of remission from Multiple Sclerosis, it’s back again. After losing vision in the lower right quadrant of both of my eyes, I knew something was off. Turns out that a lesion from the MS had become inflamed and was putting pressure on the part of my brain responsible for that line of vision. So after two weeks of doctors appointments the result is that MS is still in my body. Surprisingly, I have taken the news so much better than I expected. I have a peace and joy that I know can only be from God. It’s quite amazing, and quite beautiful to see the grace of God at work!

So I could be questioning God right now. Why did my symptoms suddenly disapear 7 years ago only to find out now that MS is still in my body? Did You really heal me? All the answers to these questions I don’t know. But I do know that God is sovereign over all and He gives grace to His children. I know that He did heal me of my symptoms for 7 years and that is a beautiful thing. He allowed me to be symptom free as I was growing in my relationship with Him and coming to a dependence on Him. The difference between my initial diagnosis at 19 and me now at 27 is that I know who I am in Christ. I know that my body is a temporary thing. It is not eternal. Why should I fret over temporary things? My treasure is in heaven with the creator of my body! This doesn’t give me a license to mistreat or abuse my body through lack of care for it, as it is a temple of the Holy Spirit, but it means that I use my life to bring Him glory in any way that I can and don’t allow the fact that this temporary shell may be falling away, to get me depressed or upset. My body is His temple, where He resides, I will take care of it to the best of my ability through nutrition, exercise, and rest, but I will not be caught off guard when I find that my temporary home on this earth may have a few cracks in it’s foundation. God is still God, and I love him.

So I take joy and great hope in the sovereignty of my Creator. I pray that I will have a realization daily that the temporary things of this life will all fall away at some point, and that my treasure is Christ, His redeeming and saving hand in my life. What a hope I have to know that I am loved and cared for by the almighty Creator of the Universe!

Are you investing your time, thoughts, worries in temporary things? Or can your affections be found in the one who is affectionately pursuing you?

Thank you all for your prayers and thoughts!

Quiet Desperation

I didn’t know what to say to the boy sitting in the seat next to mine crying. I didn’t know what was going on, or what’d just happened for him to be tucked deep into his hoody, and crying. all I know is that my heart was moved, I felt the Holy Spirit’s nudging to do something…and I did nothing.

Maybe that is a familiar scenario for you as well. They weren’t crying, they weren’t a 13-year-old boy, but you knew they were suffering. You knew they were existing in a quiet desperation. and still, like me, you did nothing.

I left that plane, knowing I should have said something. Something comforting…something meaningful, but for fear of looking foolish, or perhaps being embarrassed I missed a great opportunity to show the love of Christ.

This is reality. The entire world, even those that follow Jesus, are often existing in a quiet desperation. They suffer silently…quietly, and often, we pass them by or pretend we don’t notice and we miss opportunities to show the authentic love of Christ.

I want to want to show that love more. I want the world to know Jesus, in all His glory. I want to comfort those who mourn and suffer. I want to glorify God in all these things….I pray you will want the same.

Who’s Ya Daddy!!

42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. 43 Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me.

So what does that text have to do with daddy’s? Everything! When I was boy I emulated everything my father did. I wanted to walk like him, talk like him…I wanted to be him, and until I came to know Christ, he held the highest place in my life. He was a great dad.

This is a natural outgrowth of our nature. We come to emulate, hold the desires of, and do the things that those we hold in the highest regard do, even if we don’t perceive that we do.

Jesus was pointing this reality out to a group of blinded men who believed that God was their Father, but looked and acted nothing like Him…as He said, these mens works, ways, and desires all looked like Satan. They were murderous, liars, deceivers, and falsely pious. None of theses are characteristics of God, but of Satan, the enemy of our soul. So what story did their lives tell? Though they said with their mouthes that God was Lord and Father, their lives betrayed their profession.

So the big hanging question is this…what or who do you hold ultimate in your life, and what story is your life telling? Does it match the story of your mouth? Does it match your profession? Or do you pay lip service in an attempt to create a reality where your life, though it doesn’t match that of God the Father, is excused by Him because of a prayer you prayed or profession you made?

There is no neutrality in this, you have a father, beyond the flesh and blood one you may or may not know, and your life tells of which one you emulate, and hold in the highest place in your life…so, who is your daddy?

Mike Vick, Mission, and the Gospel Kingdom

Life presents unique opportunities or mission, in all settings and all places…the hope is that your eyes are wide open to see what is right in front of you.

Nearly ten years ago Dr. Frank Igwe, a long time friend and brother now, had a late night conversation, dreaming about what it would look like to leverage my then budding athletic career to get access to students in the public school system, to give them a strong message of hope, life beyond their circumstances, and the gospel veiled in language that would not get us kicked out of the school permanently.

That late night conversation in a run down campus apartment has blossomed into the not for profit City A.C.E.S. Though we birthed this together I have since taken a secondary role, primarily acting as consultant and lead speaker at events, while Dr. Igwe acts as C.E.O. We had our first pilot event in Harrisburg, PA two years ago, and have since then gone back to Harrisburg, where we served 1800 inner city schools, and today Philadelphia, where we served nearly 1000 more.

This was an amazing opportunity, that brought with it a clear message…that these students could be more than the soil that produced them. That they were designed, and created with purpose, and that the seed of greatness has been placed deep in their hearts by the great designer who gave them life. I had the opportunity to share the gospel in a manner of speaking, and it penetrated, even the principal and several teachers who informed me they were on the verge of, or fully gave in to tears. This is not an opportunity to pat my self on the back, but to give praise to the Holy Spirit who was so evidently and clearly at work…it was amazing! Th gospel…bringing teachers and student to tears…in a public school…only a great God could do something so spectacular.

This particular event I also had the opportunity to share the stage with Michael Vick, once great Falcon football player, and now NFL hopeful, who is trying to reset his life. Backstage we had a moment of semi-rich conversation where we discussed our brief stint as “team mates”, and I was able to genuinely ask him how he was doing. I saw what seemed to be genuine brokenness in his eyes, and had the opportunity to briefly share the gospel. It was a great day indeed, filled with promise for Christ Kingdom going forward in many lives.-19125_564873916466_48504819_33099023_1963098_n

Mission is most often not wrapped up in professional’s (Pastor’s) directing non-professionals(The congregation) in what to say and do on a Sunday morning in the building where the church gathers, but rather, it is where we do life…where we turn what seems to be work or even play into an opportunity to see one more heart introduced to the seed of the gospel. It’s your turn, where is the Holy Spirit directing you?

Vantage Point

Today we had a young lady visit who was a part of our young adult community in rural Tennessee. The first thing she said to Breanna was, “I didn’t know y’all lived in the ghetto,” with typical southern drawl.

Vantage point matters…it matters in how we often interpret all facets of life, and depending on what vantage point we have, we may see two completely different pictures.

Example… the neighborhood in Atlanta that I live in and am in the process of planting Renovation Church in is Grant Park. Grant Park is the largest neighborhood in the city, and a historical landmark community. The neighborhood is experiencing great change and urban renewal. Young professionals live here, and more are moving in. We are 32% above the national average for residents making over 100k a year, yet there are many homeless people I see everyday…living outside my loft, and involved in our gospel community. This creates a beautiful tapestry of different peoples when you add to it the people who have lived in this neighborhood for 20 plus years.

Also interesting is because of the renewal of this city neighborhood, my family can not afford one of the $300,000 bungalows in our own neighborhood. This is the starting price for a 3/2.

Here is the point, where we see a beautiful neighborhood, a great life in the city, and a chance to incarnate Jesus in the concrete jungle,our visitor today saw a place to be feared, or as she said, “the ghetto.”

So the big idea…vantage point helps determine worldview. In the greater scheme it has implications for everything, even faith.

What do you see when you look at God? A chance gain things or a chance to gain Him? What do you see in the Church? A chance to serve or a chance to be served? How do you see your city? As your personal playground or a mission field?

The Changes

New layout, new name, new reason for writing…something shifted inside me, and so did my focus on what I share.

For over a year now I have been writing under the title “There is no spoon”, but since this move to Atlanta, and the shift in my focus, and change in my environment, I felt compelled that it was time to write more about what it means to be a follower of Jesus, a missionary, in the city. To share the personal struggles, doubts, and fears of what that life looks like, and all surrounding victories and failures.

It really isn’t vastly different from what I have been writing, it is now just labeled accordingly. I hope this doesn’t sway you (whoever you are) from continuing to journey with me in my pursuit of Jesus, and desire to show Him off to the world.

You can read this in the about section, but I will include the new blog description to expedite that for ya…I know, I am so kind -;)

When I began to follow Jesus I realized something…I was now part of an ancient story. One that has been unfolding for centuries, for generations, and now Jesus had invited me to peer into this unfolding mystery. How is that God becomes man, but remains God? How is that God loves man with such ferocity that He would come to earth as the Great Missionary, on the Great Rescue Mission for His children? How is it that on this mission He would live perfectly, die unjustly, and return victoriously? How is it that He, who stood before creation, with eternity in His hands, would give Himself over in an act of selfless love? Why would He subject Himself to His own creation? And how is  it that I would be chosen to be a part of this epic love story, and because of it, be invited to then share this story with the world.

This blog is a place to express my continually becoming…continually becoming what He is making me,and shaping me to be, and the struggles, fears, and doubts inherent in this journey. This is also a place to express the fears and failures of sharing this epic love story with other urban dwellers, disconnected from their Father.

Once called to Jesus, we are all invited to do as He did. To incarnate ourselves among a people,and share the love and passion of Christ and His gospel with them…not only in word, but in deed. Not only with our voices, but with our lives. I am an urban missionary, incarnating Jesus in the concrete jungle.

I hope in this you too will come to follow this Jesus and His way, becoming a part of His story, sharing His gospel as a missionary to your world?

I had a flashback….and surly would have gone to jail

When I was about eight or ten I was walking to the bus stop, and these guys rode by in a truck, flying rebel flags, and yelling racist crap out of their windows….it was really up setting for a kid to experience, and I never forgot it.

Yesterday I was walking home from the train station in the rain…it was a nice warm rain, so I didn’t mind at all. On my walk home I have to go under a bridge that collects rain run off…maybe you see where this is heading already.

There was a young woman walking in front of me, and someone behind me…this is a major train stop by my loft.

Every other vehicle that came by purposed itself to drive closer toward the middle of the road as to avoid covering us with “under the bridge” drainage water…except this one red truck.

I saw them coming and actually managed to get close enough to the wall to not get any on me, but the girl in front of me, who was dress very nicely, got soaked…I mean soaked, with nasty rain run off, and I was pissed.

I suddenly had a flash back to when I was a little boy as I saw them all turn around to look and see if they had gotten us, as they pointed and laughed.

I have been called a conspiracy theorist, but, a truck full of white guys…and me, and two Arabic women walking under the bridge…is that why they did it? Hmmm

The light turned red as they drove by, and for a split second I turned, and considered running up on their truck, until I realized, 1) I am a grown man and that is unacceptable, 2) I would probably go to jail, because when I got there a beat down was immanent.

So I prayed, asked the ladies if they were ok, and kept on walking home… what a day on the metro.

The long road to Charleston…and back home again: Certain death and being stranded

We left for Charleston on Friday to go and spend the weekend.  I spoke Sunday morning at Santuary Church, and we had a great time. The entire weekend was great…Shawn and his team were amazing hosts. Getting there was another issue all together.

Last Wednesday we went to sears and bought four brand new tires. I won’t divulge what we spent on them, but suffice it to say they were not cheap. I’m sure, like me, you would assume that the purchase of four new tires would mean a smooth ride in…not the case. About four hours into the trip on a back road outside of Aiken, SC we had a major blowout.

The next hour and forty five minutes was spent trying not to be crushed by my own truck. After getting covered with tire huz getting the spare from beneath the truck, I placed the jack under the frame, as I have done several times before. This was one of those threaded hand crank type of jacks, which are terrible by nature.

I drive a Nissan Armada, which is about the size of a Suburban, so that would be certain death if this thing fell. Twice the jack slipped…tread just gave out when the truck was jacked all the way up. The second time it slipped, it fell so quickly that the jack dug a hole into the black top on the side of the road. At this point I am exhausted and frustrated trying to get this thing to work, and praying that we don’t get stuck on the side of the road all night.This last time I began cranking this thing again and it was holding this time.I have never changed a tire so quickly. I think I could definitely work for Nascar now.

Coming home was another adventure all together. When we checked in to our hotel, although the Sanctuary had arranged for our room, the very (I’ll choose to say rude here because it is nicer) person at the front desk insisted that we put down our card to hold the room. They placed a hold on our card that didn’t get released and won’t get released until after the holiday. This hold locked down our account, completely unknown to us.

We left for home yesterday, and were on the same back roads where we had the blow out on Friday. We stopped at a gas station, and when I went to prepay for the gas my card was denied.Three times denied. So there we are, in Aiken, SC again, with no money, our credit card at home (because we have been transitioning to an all cash system) and a quarter tank of Gas…with 199 miles to home.

We still had $17.50 on a gift card that had been given to us, and so we drove, and drive until we just couldn’t…and on a quarter tank of gas, and the $17.50 that would give us another quarter tank when we were about 99 miles out we made it home.

I still don’t know why we encountered so much insanity getting there and back again. And I still don’t know how we made it home, driving with hardly any gas at all. I have no answers, I am just grateful to God that I didn’t get crushed by my truck, or stuck in the middle of no-where South Carolina.