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People I love make Decisions Hard

Right now I sit in a strange place.

I'm in the middle of making a major life decision. I told our people last night that if they would just abandon me I'd be fine... the decision would be easy. The problem is I know they won't.

Since January I've had the honor of studying scripture and doing life with the most genuine people I've been blessed to meet. Its one of the most pure Christian groups I have ever been around in my life. We've known each other longer but its been since January that we've dedicated ourselves to this without distraction of anything else. It's been phenomenal for all of us.

Here's why:

1. I can be myself- When I'm with our people I genuinely feel like I can just be me. There is absolutely no judgment.

2. We have open conversations- This group respects each other and we don't have any drama queens/kings who dominate conversation. We have had tears shed and tons of laughter.

3. We're friends 7 days a week- We've had a ton of activity together apart from Sunday and apart from a pre-ordained calendar. Just this week the conversation toward the end of the night was tossed out by a guy in our group... he said "Hey, lets get together for the 4th, what's everyone doing?" It's great when men and women enjoy each other enough to want that in their lives.

4. There is a sincere thirst for the gospel- We've been able to really dig into scripture. What I've enjoyed is that we have a group who really want to know God's desire and make proper changes to their life. We've had various moments where someone (after learning from scripture) would say "Well I guess I'm not being a good influence on my friends, I'll have to adjust."

5. We're different- Among our fold are military, computer programmer, law student, dog trainer, Administrative Assistant, Fitness director, etc. We have people from Idaho, Minnesota, Maryland, Tennessee, and many other states. Our financial situations are different and even where we'll be in 2-3 years is different. Our law student has ambitions for major elected office and our military family will undoubtedly have to take orders within the next two years. We all know that our life circumstances will pull us apart but it hasn't stopped anyone from giving their all and being transparent right now with the time we have.

So... as you may be able to tell, I love the people I'm doing life with. In making major decisions right now I can honestly tell you that they are one of the biggest reasons my decision making is so tough. Last night I told them so.

You know what's crazy? I've been able to be transparent with this entire group about the decision I have to make. Even though I know that my move affects them tremendously this group has been so positive that I've had the freedom to let them in on the process and ask for their prayers. If you're in ministry you know how absolutely rare that freedom is. Most of the time the Pastor has to get everything in order before mentioning a peep about the decisions he's faced with.

So anyway... I just figured I'd share with you why I love the people in my life so much. They are making it very hard on me but I love them for it. Feel free to join me in prayer about upcoming decisions. A few of my friends know what's on my mind. Nothing is in stone yet but I'm certainly praying for God's wisdom and direction.

Finally I encourage everyone reading this to find a group like mine. It's hard. It takes work. But it's absolutely worth it. If you can't find a group like this... start one. That's what we did. It rocks.

posted by Tally Wilgis @ Monday, June 30, 2008

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Your Narrative and The Gospel

A few months ago my wife and I had some conversations about our life's narrative as it relates to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I was most attracted to Christ after I learned that scripture called God our "Heavenly Father".
All throughout scripture I read the word "Father" with a freshness of finding a stream in the desert. I had grown up without a father and while I had some figures in my life from time to time I didn't feel that I had a father figure to emulate. As I saw that God was my father I realized that I now had a father who I could emulate, run to and learn from. So for me I found peace in that aspect of who God is. To this day I am asked if I miss having a father in my life and the answer is no... The main reason is because I don't feel that I've missed anything since I've found my heavenly father.

In speaking with my wife she shared with me that for her life it was exciting to see God as "a God of order and not of disorder". Her life's narrative is filled with chaos as a child and many things she won't talk about in mixed company. As a consequence her thirst was not as much for the 'father' as much as it was for 'order'. Based on her life's story, order was important.

If you tried to convince me to come to Jesus because he was "a God of order" I very likely would have run from you.
I'm not a person who enjoys pre-existing structure and conditions. As an ENTP and entrepreneur type I am always looking for a new and better way of approaching a problem. Especially problems that seem to be at a dead-end. I am a person who you want in the room to break up a log-jam of ideas or stagnant thinking. I'm not a long-term manager and I'm not a 'by the book' person. My wife on the other hand works in a fast paced law office where she loves checking lists and seeing that everything is done with perfection. Order is vital to her sense of fulfillment.

What does this have to do with the Gospel?

To be effective at sharing Jesus with this world we have to understand that we all bring our own baggage, preference and narrative to the story. I believe some of the most effective leaders are those who understand their own narrative and can see the aspect of God to which they most relate. It is not that your view of God remains at this one aspect... and it's not that each aspect of God takes the place for knowing Him fully... what I'm saying is simply that we all have a primary connection with Him.

So, what do you do once you know your life's narrative?
Put it to work.

Once you piece together your life's narrative you will see how the Father has been at work all along. You will quickly realize that you can most articulate an aspect of Christianity that someone in your community needs to hear. It's most likely that the people you are most suited to reach are a lot like you. And what better mouthpiece is there to highlight that aspect of Christ and the Kingdom of God? If you're waiting for your Pastor to preach on your narrative you may be waiting a long time. Its very likely that God has placed you right there among those people to tell them your narrative and how Jesus connected with you.

How do we reach a world of varied narratives?


I believe the way we can be most effective sharing the Gospel is to start with your own narrative and scream that as loud as you can. Not literally... but certainly figuratively. You will be most passionate about that aspect that draws you to the Father most. You will also attract people who relate to your story first. This is why churches from the culture tend to ride veins that already exist within the culture. Drug addicts will invite drug addicts, Stay at Home moms will invite other Stay at Home moms and so on. If you've struggled with a particular sin... I promise there are at least 100 people in your community who have struggled the same way.

So what is your narrative?
What ASPECT of the infinite God did your finite self find most appealing. Maybe it was that you keyed in on "father" like me or maybe you most appreciate "order" like my wife.

Maybe it's something far different. Maybe you are a merciful person and observing Jesus as the "healer" most attracts you.

Quite possibly you are a UFC fighter and seeing that Jesus wasn't a wuss has you excited.

Maybe you love the outdoors and seeing that Jesus seemed to always relate stories to nature is the attribute that connects.

I can't tell you what it is about the life, death, burriul, resurrection or second-coming that most stands out... all I can tell you is that you can beat that drum to the delight of others who need to see that aspect highlighted.

BUT THEN DON'T STOP...

Don't fall into the trap of only beating that drum.
Start listening to others and their story. If you establish kinship they will usually feel free to tell you what beat they need to know about Jesus.

I assure you, He's already on rhythm with their heart.

In addition to highlighting other aspects about Christ, be sure to reveal to them the fullness of Christ and His love. You know why?

Although I'm not naturally a "order" guy... I need to know that.
The Gospell isn't about simply knowing one attribute of Jesus... it's about connecting to one aspect and growing to learn and love the rest of those attributes so you have more connections to share with others.

Although my wife isn't most drawn to God as "father", she needs to know that aspect.
Our heavenly father is so amazing and powerful and expansive that to limit our view of him to that one aspect would be the like looking at Disneyland through a keyhole at the main entrance.


SUMMARY:
1. Know your narrative.
2. Play your narrative drum.
3. Learn the narrative of others.
4. Play various narrative drums.
5. Put together a concert of people following God at His rhythm.

posted by Tally Wilgis @ Thursday, June 26, 2008

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How I spent Father's Day

I just recently unloaded our camera from the last few weekends so I thought I'd share with you how C-man, Kristy and I spent Father's Day. Below is Caleb's first time getting buried in the sand.







posted by Tally Wilgis @ Wednesday, June 25, 2008

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Sad

posted by Tally Wilgis @ Tuesday, June 24, 2008

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My new friend "K"


This past weekend I spent time in Baltimore at the Metro Kidz Block Party. We had a fantastic time and interacted with several hundred citizens in South West Baltimore. This area is one of the roughest areas of the city with gangs, drugs, violence and all else that comes with poverty. Many of these families have no access to a local grocery store and without jobs in this section of town many are forced to long bus rides or minimum wage employment. Gentrification has taken hold in other parts of town which only serves to exasperate the problem in areas such as this.
In the midst of all of this trouble and turmoil is a place like Metro Kidz. Metro Kidz is a light in the darkness for this part of town where juveniles are used as drug runners on a regular basis. Most of the corners belong to drug dealers but Metro Kidz provides one corner in the city where Christ is made known. This place is a refuge.

MetroKidz held their summer block party this past weekend and at this event people of all ages came out. I had the opportunity to meet "K". K is a homeless man who has certainly had his fair share of the city life. He's been stabbed and shot and has battled with drugs and alcohol for many years. He shared with me that his only home is what is carried in his duffel bag and each night he makes his way down to a local pond where he tries to sleep. In the mornings he uses the pond's water as a bath and he goes about his day. While I'm positive there are plenty of things he's done that have come back to hurt himself there are other legitimate times where life just hasn't broken right for him.

K shared with me that he was raped as a young boy and abused most of his life. Now a 49 year old man he said "I'm done with it all." He's done with the city, done with the drugs and alcohol and he's done with living the way he has been living. K told me that the advocates he's had in the past have stolen money provided to him by various governmental agencies and he's often left hopeless to roam the streets. K also shared however that life wasn't always like this. That as recently as 10 years ago he was fully employed and renting a home with his wife. He has had employment as a cook, a carpenter and painter. These trade jobs want nothing to do with him right now without a place to live and his addictions haven't been properly addressed.

As my reader you need to know that I've been around the block with these stories. I'm an intuitive person who has pretty good discernment. Many times I have walked away from guys like K with the same cynicism most people hold. I don't see that in this man nor did I comfort him by whole-heartedly buying the story. I prodded and poked. I also told him that folks who can help him are going to expect him to pull his own weight, stay clean and work hard at a job. With tears streaming he promised that he wanted nothing but shelter and the opportunity to live a clean life away from the city.

So here I am. I want to ask you, my friends if you know of any drug-rehab homes that are Christian in nature where my new friend K could attend. I have one I will be in touch with but space is always limited. I'd love to see if possibly someone out there (preferably far from MD) would have an opportunity away from a major city where my friend K could get some help. If you have connections to such a place, please let me know. I'm not K so I can't promise an outcome but I think the least we can all do is find guys like him and give them a grace-filled opportunity to meet Jesus and be healed in his name.

If you want information on how to help Metro Kidz please contact me as well. This past weekend I helped hook them up with some equipment and invited a friend to bring his youth department down. They left with a whole new perspective on ministry and service. In fact my friend, Tucker, is going back down tomorrow on his own time to help them with the sound equipment. Metro Kidz is an outreach of a church that was formed from within the neighborhood of people coming to know Jesus. I'm positive that you will hear more about this group on my blog but I'd like to see if we can start getting them some help today and help guys like K right now.

posted by Tally Wilgis @ Tuesday, June 24, 2008

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Youth Pastors Have Favorites...

...let me tell you about mine...

Last week I had the honor of officiating the wedding for Mikael and Ashley Ritter.
I've known Mikael since he was headed into the 8th grade. My first contact with him was during a weekend retreat where after some verbal prompting Mikael ended up getting duct-taped to his bunk bed. Mikael is a very smart young man who thinks through life and has made me proud to know him. He was in my first youth ministry in Texas, served as an intern one summer with me in VA and now works on staff at the greatest University on the planet. He's a natural leader who leads by example and a dedicated worker who won't rest until a project he's working on is completed with excellence. I secretly (well, not so secretly) hope one day to partner with him in ministry once he's finished up at LU.

Ashley is Mikael's bride. I've known Ashley since she was entering into her freshman year of high school. Ashley is a hilarious yet compellingly thoughtful young woman. She's faced challenges supremely and has spent her life trying to learn and live Jesus Christ. Ashley was a part of my youth ministry here in Virginia and then (with her family) helped start our church. She's always been an active leader in whatever environment she's been placed and she's served Christ more than nearly every adult I know.


Ashley has a great sense of humor so its no surprise that as her youth pastor I had plenty of opportunity to see that side of her. One year we had the new 6th grade in our youth department for the first time. I asked Ashley if she'd help me out. When I got up to welcome the new 6th graders Ashley pretended to be talking to a friend in the front row. I acted like her rude behavior got under my skin and I reached out and grabbed her by her pony tail and pretended to throw her across the front row into some empty chairs. Ashley (in control the entire time) played the part well and the look on the faces of our new 6th graders was priceless. Ashley has also been the recipient of under-arm sweat, chewed oreos and the occasional trash-can.

When my wife and I came to Virginia from Texas we missed several families. One of the greatest families we were leaving behind were Mikael's. His parents are allthatandabagofchips kinda parents. When we arrived in Virginia and met Ashley I distinctly remember my wife and I talking about how great they would be for one another (They were barely in High School mind you). They were natural compliments for one another.

Ashley and Mikael met when Mikael came up as a part of a mission trip (seek kids, it pays to love Jesus) to our church. They have been wooing one another ever since. They are now both at LU finishing degrees.

So for me to have the honor of marrying these two love birds was the highlight of my entire youth ministry career. While I'm certain they will face trials of life I believe they will face them with Jesus as their guide and ultimately win with their family together.


I wish I could say that our ministry produced nothing but Mikael and Ashley's but I can't. What I can be confident of however is that these two will go on to minister to many more people. With God's grace they will be able to see their lives reproduced in other young people and that would be a blessing to youth pastors everywhere.

Congrats to the Ritters! You two rock!

posted by Tally Wilgis @ Monday, June 23, 2008

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Promises pt 1


So we've all been there. It could be small or large but a promise broken is trust destroyed.

I know for a fact that I've over-promised people just as much as you've over-promised. I know that even though much of the time I let people down I can point to something outside of my control, it doesn't take away the pain of a promise broken. Over the years I've become less eager to promise something I'm not certain I can deliver. It's so important to me that people trust in my word. How important? Important enough that I try and watch everything I promise including promises I make about my prayer life:

What are some ways I try to maintain my promises?

I don't tell everyone that I will pray for them.

There is little worse in my mind than to be around a person who tosses out the words "I'll pray for you." everywhere they go. The truth is that we (in the church world) have become so accustomed to using that phrase the same way we ask people "How are you?" If you aren't careful you will be promising people things that just aren't going to happen.

Recently a friend called and asked me to pray on his behalf as to whether or not he should accept a promotion that would give his family a substantial financial increase. Knowing my friend's history and admiring all that he's been through I see this promotion as a blessing by God so I told my friend "No." He said "No what?" I said "No, I will not pray for you and I want you to know that because I'm not going to ask God to remove what I perceive to be a blessing on your life. If you want to ask Him to do something different, feel free. But as your friend I won't be praying for you about this." He laughed at me and said "Well, I appreciate that about you. You're honest."

For me it is important that my promise to pray for a person actually means something in their life. So when I know I will not be praying I do not promise to do so. If you hear me tell you that I am praying or will be praying... you can trust that I mean it.

posted by Tally Wilgis @ Thursday, June 19, 2008

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Press Play

posted by Tally Wilgis @ Friday, June 13, 2008

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Get With Angel Food


I came across this organization today and it lines up completely with so many of my passions.
If you don't feel like reading jump down to the video. Then come back and read :)

Recently I've had several conversations with pastors who have facilities but are having a tough time with how to impact their communities. If you're in a situation like that I fully encourage you to consider learning more about this organization.
They are a domestic hunger relief group that offers boxes of high quality foods for about half-price. There is no catch and there are no forms and no applications. Anyone can participate so it is not aimed at only homeless folks but is also a resource for the working poor who find it difficult to afford groceries. Heck, you may want to go through them to help out a family member or a friend. All of their products come from top-brand vendors who sell to restaurants. Buying in bulk is what (in part) helps them get affordable prices to the public.

Menu: Click to see current menu

The way they work is by shipping products to local distribution centers (YOUR CHURCH) when someone places an order. The recipient can then come to the distribution center and pick up their order. Orders are placed on BEHALF of people or by the family in need themselves. They have Internet orders so you and I can donate boxes of food. Each box costs $30 but includes $60 or more of food. Additionally the menu rotates and their website offers various recopies for how to make specialty items from the menu in each box.

Lets say you know of a rough part of town where you are certain that someone is in need. You can punch in the zip code and donate an extra box of food to that particular distribution center. Another case may be that you hear of a disaster (tornado, earthquake, flood). You can buy food that the distribution center can give away on your behalf. More personally lets say you pass by a home where you know a single mom lives with several kids. Maybe you could simply buy the items and go to the distribution center and pick them up yourself so you can deliver them. Share Christ in a practical way. After all- "People don't care what you know until they know that you care."

I love this concept. If you have a heart for poverty issues and you want to do something in your community why don't you see if there is a distribution center in your town. Go help them by volunteering. If there isn't a distribution center near you maybe you could step up and get your church on board.

I see such an opportunity for this right now when food prices are rising and the economy is taking a beating. You and I can get active to help a neighbor across the street just as much as someone living on the street.

Check out the video below. It's worth 10 minutes of your time.

posted by Tally Wilgis @ Thursday, June 12, 2008

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Empty Boxes

(not our cupboard)

Last night I got in a 'cleaning mode' and decided I wanted to clean our kitchen. One thing led to another and I ended up cleaning out our cupboard. As of late we have been doing a lot of adding without much subtracting. Tonight I subtracted.

What I found was that while our cupboard was overflowing with boxes... about a quarter of them were near empty. On our bottom shelf I found some expired items including some Creatine that expired October of last year. (I guess buff only lasted a few months?)

I'm telling you this for a point. Yes really there is a point...

I got to thinking: How many of us need to do a little cleaning up and inspecting of boxes? I mean how many "ministry cupboards" look full to the untrained eye but at the end of the day are really empty boxes?

Do you lead ministries that once were full of life and purpose but now are little more than a habit and a relic. I wonder how many expired items we'd find if we were bold enough to inspect the boxes.

How many team members or church leaders abandoned their box once they got the toy from the top of the bag?

How many sermons are recycled from a day when prayer lives and devotional lives were stronger?

In your area of influence are you taking inventory and making certain that the gospel you preach matches the gospel you live? Don't allow your fervor or favor to expire. Don't remain satisfied with empty boxes justifying your job. Be courageous enough to inspect EVERYTHING and ask if your cupboard is full or if you're secretly coasting and content as you live on yesterday's blessing.

People expect the church to be a non-profit but please don't allow it to become non-prophet.

posted by Tally Wilgis @ Wednesday, June 11, 2008

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Ever had a day like this?

No matter how bad your day is... it can't be this bad.

posted by Tally Wilgis @ Tuesday, June 10, 2008

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Young Leaders and Yoda

I just got off of the phone with Boyd Bettis. We met a few weeks back at WiBo. If you don't have Boyd on your 'young church leader radar', I'd suggest you get him there.

I absolutely love talking to leaders in ministry. It's a small fraternity. At the end of the day there are really only a hundred or so (few hundred max) leaders around the country that represent the lotus of thinking in our generation. Once you sit and talk to various guys/gals in our world you quickly see the few degrees of separation.

One of the cool reminders that came to mind while talking to Boyd was: It is vital for leaders to take an interest in gifted young people.

Boyd shared with me that Michael Lukaszewski, Pastor of Oak Leaf Church in Georgia took an interest in Boyd as a rowdy teenager. In effect he served as Boyd's Yoda. Michael let him get involved in 'leadership' decisions and actions at a young age and it was that experience and encouragement that propelled Boyd to take an interest in the church as a vessel to change the world.

At the end of the day I think every great leader can point to a very similar story. At one point or another someone took an interest in them and said "I believe in you."

Do not underestimate the value of your affirmation. Your words speak volumes. Make certain you take the time to tell someone they matter today. BE A YODA to someone.

Do you have one of those stories? Who was your mentor? Who was your Yoda? How did their influence affect what you do today?

posted by Tally Wilgis @ Tuesday, June 10, 2008

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Accidential Discipleship


"Discipling others is the process by which a Christian with a life worth emulating commits himself for an extended period of time to a few individuals who have been won to Christ to aid and guide their growth to maturity and equip them to reproduce themselves in a third spiritual generation." Allen Hadidian

This has been the working definition of discipleship I've used since my days as a dorm prayer leader at Liberty University. It effectively sums up the process by which a person transfers what they've learned in their walk with God to another person. If you would ask me if discipleship can be done by accident I would tell you no. At least I wouldn't agree with the term 'accident' until recently.

My son Caleb will be 3 years old in about a month (July 20th- send cash). He is at a very curious stage right now and wants to know why people do what they do. If he can't explain what they are doing he will ask. Once he gets an answer he repeats it to assure himself that he's got this new concept.

The other day Caleb and I were driving around running errands. Kristy called and asked me to pick up some food for her. Caleb and I pulled up to a local Boston Market (she eats there-- I don't) and we ordered her some food.

As the lady and I exchanged pleasantries and the food I pull out of the drive thru. This is when something pretty cool happened.

My son said "Daddy, what the neighbor doin?"

"Neighbor?" Caleb repeated "Yes. What the neighbor doin?"

I said "Ohh, the lady back there?" He said "Yeah"

"The lady back there makes our food so we can take it to mommy." Satisfied, my son said "Ohh."

But I got to thinking. Come to think of it my son doesn't know the concept of 'stranger'. We've never told him to be fearful of strangers. In my son's mind we have taught him that people are our 'neighbors'. He understands that our community we have a lot of neighbors and from time to time we engage them in discussion or play with them.

From my sons point of view we have taught him that everyone he doesn't know is his neighbor.

Although I can't take credit for being intentional in teaching this point I am glad that my son has seen -- from the example of his mother and I -- that we hold this view towards people around us. I can only pray it will serve him well as he learns of his calling on this planet to love his neighbor.

"
He answered: “ ;‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” --Luke 10:27-29

While we can score one for the parents this time around I am cautious to consider what else he may be picking up that doesn't fit so neatly within our biblical framework. It's one of those lessons that makes you both proud and humble as a parent.

Are you discipling anyone? Even if its not "intentional" have you considered what people around you may be picking up about their own world view?

[Don't send me emails about my son not knowing the term 'stranger'. Thanks for your concern.]

posted by Tally Wilgis @ Monday, June 09, 2008

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WiBo Blogger Shouts

The gang over at ChurchyMedia.com put together this quick intro of the bloggers at the WiBo bloggers lunch. Check out number 43. He's hot.


The Ultimate Blog Shout Out!! from Churchy Media on Vimeo.

posted by Tally Wilgis @ Sunday, June 08, 2008

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Powerful Stuff

I'm getting older. I teared up watching this quick video.

posted by Tally Wilgis @ Friday, June 06, 2008

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Welcome to My Hood

As I spent the day reflecting on the 30 years I've been alive I thought of two sides to this life I lead. While my adult life has been filled with education, promise and a level of comfort I am reminded that my beginnings weren't as pretty. On this site I have often commented about how humbled I am that God would set me aside for His plan. I have also frequently commented that I'm grateful to my mother who refused to settle and was determined to see her children raised in a different environment.

Last week I was given the opportunity to speak to a group of Christian leaders about my hometown. I shared with them from my experience in both the suburban church world as well as my own personal account of life in the city. During that trip I took time to visit my childhood home. The projects where I lived as a child are coming down. I took some pictures to remember where I came from so today I thought I'd take you on a quick tour.

1109 Rayleigh Way was my childhood home for the bulk of my elementary years. In my attic I have a lease that says my mother paid $60/month for the government housing.

This is "240"- Graceland Park O'Donnell Heights Elementary School. 240 is the school where I learned my fundamentals. It was out of this school that I was accepted into a gifted and talented program.
I came across this sign which to me is symbolic of the mentality that keeps our cities captive. Someone thought this was a good idea. Click to enlarge. Basically the sign is a "Drug Free Zone" sign which is commonplace around areas where children tend to be at play. First of all I thought all of America was a "Drug Free Zone". Drugs are illegal. Secondly this sign actually lists out boundaries. The sign was made to tell the drug dealers and users where their sentence will be increased if they use/distribute drugs in this neighborhood. This is insane to me.


This is just a crew going to work on my old block. If you notice the sign... Rayleigh Way. By the way... Because of living on this block I always had problems with the little "I before E, except after C" rhyme. I grew up on a street that didn't follow that rule!

This is the place where we send our inner city kids to tell them that if they study they can be anything they want to be. This is called a Baltimore City School. The picture below is of the Baltimore City Juvenile Justice Center opened October 30, 2003. Does anyone else see a problem?

Behind the iron bars is the neighborhood swimming pool. I remember swimming here with a few hundred of my closest friends.

Beyond the grass sits a community center. This place was the center of the neighborhood. The 'Rec center was more than a gym, it was a doctors office, after school program, athletic building, etc. This building also was home to the community marching band. I remember a lot of weekends as a child being awakened by the sound of the marching band coming from blocks away. Playing loud beats and people dancing... it was a trip. Flavor unique to the city for sure.

This picture above is actually of one of the few additions to the neighborhood since I moved away. To the right of the red light you can see a blue box on the light pole. The box is basically a device used to try to help police monitor the area. When there are gun shots these things are supposed to narrow down the vicinity of the shot and begin taking footage. Additionally these boxes are armed with video cameras and are supposedly able to be controlled remotely to scope out drug dealers. As with most things the streets are ahead of the police already. It's a cat and mouse game where the mice are 3 steps ahead.

I got next. These are some of the courts in the neighborhood. I played very little on these courts.

Here is a typical alley. It was interesting driving through as half of the neighborhood has been destroyed by the city. It seems like about half of the people are still hanging on. It was so sad to see so many people living right next to boarded up and bricked up homes.

This is a picture of one of the areas surrounding this community (at the foot of the above pictured school). This neighborhood was built (my understanding) on top of an old trash heap. The neighborhood is centrally located between two city cemeteries which appear to be filled to capacity.

Tell me the story that comes from this neighborhood when a kid walks past a cemetery every day to get to the school above. What do you think he thinks as he walks under the sign that says "drug free zone" and the police box hanging on the street pole? In my 30 years I've seen a lot. One of the sad things I've seen are some of my educated friends make comments about "those people" living in poverty. What is often overlooked is the environment that surrounds a young person. Nature vs. Nurture can get tossed out the window when they are both broken. When every home is a broken home and every door is a closed door you find many youth who grow up acting out on their hurt.

The sad part about my story and my hood is that this is America's story and America's hood. No matter how much we ignore them the cities are there. As a nation we will either ignore them and hope they fix themselves or we will find a way to unite and make them better for future generations of children like me. My story isn't over however. I'd like to be a part of making a difference. How about you?

posted by Tally Wilgis @ Thursday, June 05, 2008

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Birthday Announcement

So Today I'm 30. It feels a bit like yesterday so I think I can make it.
For you, the blog reader, I wanted to offer up an announcement on my Birthday.

Kristy and I are pregnant with our second child! We're expecting a baby sometime in January.

We're both very excited and looking forward to the new year with added excitement. The discussion around here has always been that if we could have a boy and a girl we'd then like to move to adoption so if this one is a girl that would be our next step. Either way I'm sure you can appreciate that we're pretty pumped.

The Wilgis house is celebrating a lot today. God has always given more than we could ask and this season of life is no different.

Have a fantastic June 5th!

posted by Tally Wilgis @ Thursday, June 05, 2008

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So I'm 30 Tomorrow


So I'm turning 30 years old tomorrow, June 5th, 2008.

While many of my readers view 30 as young... I view it as a milestone. Birthdays normally don't get much play in my mind but I guess the loss of the 2 in front of my age makes me feel older. To me 30 was always the "real adult" stage of life. In your twenties people expect you to be figuring things out and stumbling over yourself as you get oriented to who you will be in your adult life. But by 30... man you're supposed to be on the fast track.

This season of life for me is much much different. For the first time since I can recall I feel that I'm in a holding pattern. I have several options open to me but don't feel compelled by God to hit the pedal just yet on any one of them. This season for me is one of introspection, evaluation, prayer and patience.

At the moment I have two major opportunities in front of me. In both cases I could see myself spending the rest of my life working toward God-sized goals. Do you want to know the truth? I'm scared to death.

You'd think that by 30 a man would be able to face the challenges and opportunities without concern. I think that man is an idiot.

So every day for the last two months or so I have got out of bed and prayed to God for his wisdom and grace. I'm afraid and I'm not confident in myself. It's a good place to be.

Over the next few weeks I hope to have more clarity but I'm at a stage where I'm not positive God wants to give that to me. What he has given are two equally challenging and potentially equally rewarding options. While I am afraid He is not. As I turn 30 tomorrow I will reflect on just how amazing God has been to me. My family is blessed beyond belief and I've come farther - faster than anyone would have expected from this product of Baltimore City, MD.

So here's to 30. Here's to uncertainty. Here's to God's hand in all of our lives. The truth is that He isn't facing a flinch of indecision. He's fine. He's calm and collected. To Him 30 years is a blip. Here's to the next 30 years of my life being as reliant on Jesus as I am today.

posted by Tally Wilgis @ Wednesday, June 04, 2008

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