11/22/2021

My friend Mike.

Before the absolute craziness of 2020, I was already weary of the shouting in the culture wars.   


Seriously


Imagine Kimberly taking to the streets, or social media, and acting on her instincts to protest against the protestors


"Go teach a kid to read. 
Teach an adult to manage their limited finances. 
Be a Big Brother or Sister. 
Go volunteer at a school. 
Just SHUT UP already!" 


I know. I know. I am a sanctimonious old person now. 


This angry attitude is what's kept me from writing any more posts or newsletters this year. 


We're all tired of reading, and hearing, and talking about _____ (fill in the blank). 


I didn't know how to write to you, my friends, without including something about all the [you-know-what] that we're tired of talking and reading about.


But I'm writing now.

At Thanksgiving.

Because I'm thankful.

                                    Truly.


In 2019 I began writing encouraging letters to prisoners who call Chattanooga home. I came upon Chattanooga Endeavors randomly. And I don't believe anything happens by chance. 


Writing these letters has kept my head on straight in the midst of all the noise. It's doing something that does make a change in the eventual success of losers once they get on the outside. 


Yeah, I wrote that. LOSERS. 

Felons are modern day LEPERS. 

Think about that for a minute. It's an anthropologically valid noun. 


So, writing letters not just encouraging them now, but it's effecting recidivism rates, reducing crime, and changing lives (apparently studies show, but I'm not going to bore you with that right now). 


It's made me thankful every day that I've found a lane where I know these letters make a difference in suffering lives. Lives that, according to Scripture, matter. 


"Remember the Lord’s people who are in jail and be concerned for them. Don’t forget those who are suffering, but imagine that you are there with them."                                                                                                              - Hebrews 13:3

(And, by the way... a large percentage of those prisoners are black lives who matter.)



This year, in 2021 that lane got wider. I was no longer merely writing and putting stamps on envelopes. It's been up close and personal, almost daily. 

Since the Spring I've spending a lot of time with a 59 year old black man who grew up in Chattanooga. He has spent much of his adult life in state prisons. 

He's a month older than me. 

But we couldn't be more different in our life stories. I'm enjoying a season of growing older feeling content and safe having had a life well-lived and materially blessed. Mike on the other hand has a long list of challenges and an equally long list of former offenses and psychological trauma from his childhood, drug abuse, homelessness, and mental illness. 

But, even in the midst of daily battle with the Enemy, my friend has hope and is moving incrementally in the right direction. He's trusting me, and trusting God, taking three steps forward and two steps back. 

There are no easy answers for our neighbors who've grown up in systemic poverty. We want to help but it truly seems impossible. In the past it's been easier to say, "Nothing is impossible for God." Now, I can question that. Change has to be a big part miracle. Jim and I are depending on the Spirit's guidance for wisdom in what part of those challenges we can help.

With Jim's support, I'm in desperate dependence on the Lord for discernment and direction. My heart, my mind, my patience, and wallet keep getting stretched and poured out.

Mike is a big reason why I've not been writing much this year. Encouraging and supporting him is new territory for me. I've had a hard time putting it into words for my friends as I discover how badly the system is broken. Even with others (in addition to me) trying to help navigate it all, it's hard to not keep falling through the cracks.

There are a few positive things that have happened since Mike came back to Chattanooga. Divine appointments.  I asked him to "trust me to introduce him to more people he can trust." 


He's learning what it means to be trustworthy as well. That's a tall order for a person who's prefrontal cortex has never developed. God's grace, and encouragement are helping him grow in character. But the Enemy is positively livid about that! I've never experienced such warefare.


What I've known in my head forever, hadn't really touched my life:


There are no easy answers for our neighbors who've grown up in poverty, and trauma.


In 2021 I've learned this in my being. It physically hurts now just to type it for you, so that you will read it on your screen. I'm more thankful for believers who are social workers, or counselors. People who's work is to assist more than just one.


And I'm thankful for the ways my faith is stretching. With Mike, I MUST trust God every day for his presence, protection, and provision.


Pray for Mike. 


Pray for all the people living in this world who like him have so so very much to overcome.

Thank you for loving and praying for me.


9/17/2021

A “School Plant” in the Inner City

The Greenwood School will launch in the fall of 2022 from a renovated building of New City Fellowship, a remarkable multi-racial church that has a long history of innovative ways to bridge racial divisions in a southern city. We had the joy of helping raise funds to get that building up to code! 


In neighborhood where there are poor school options, this new school will give hope for local kids and strengthen their families. And this isn't just wishful thinking. 


In 2019, Chattanooga Christian School started "The Kings School" downtown at Olivet Baptist Church. This is the second school being "planted" as an outreach/tithe of Chattanooga Christian School. And we've got some impressive test scores to show that it's working. They raise the funds, provide the scholarships, teachers, and curriculum. Amazing!


Here's a video report on the Kings School. What a remarkable testimony for CCS. And they have another one in the works for 2022!





2/06/2021

Are You Slogging Through? Me too.

 I waited patiently for the Lord;

    he inclined to me and heard my cry.
He drew me up from the pit of destruction,
    out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
    making my steps secure.

Psalm 40:1-2

I know you've been there.
Slogging away at a project 
that seems like it will 
never get finished.
Wanting to just give up, 
but knowing you have to keep going.
The end is not in sight anymore.

And you know it shouldn't be this hard.

You cry out, or silently think out, to God, 
"Why is this taking so long? It feels like I'm trudging through mud!" 

And then he reminds you that you're in a spiritual battle. 

And then you do say outluud to the one who is doing what he can to make things seem hard

"I renounce any schemes of the enemy! In Jesus' name he cannot thwart what God has led me to do.

I'm working on a project like that. 

Trying to get it across the finish line.
I started it in 2016 actually. More than four years later I dusted off a little booklet project.
Last October I rallied to see if I could get it done for Christmas gifts.

It seemed like the right timing.
It would be 
    a happy accomplishment 
        to celebrate
            after a year that gave us much 
                to mourn 
                    and be unhappy about.

The process bogged down, and I thought EASTER 2021 might be a more realistic goal. Now here I am still tweaking with the designer, and offering to pay her more than the contract said.
My back is to the wall with a deadline, and so many tasks still should be done in order to share it well.

This isn't my project. This isn't even my life. I am the Lord's, and so is this project!

So, Pray. 
Keep praying.
Each time I get the overwhelm 
from all the options and advice offered in the publishing world.
Keep moving forward in the quest,
but keep praying.  
For peace. 
    For favor.
        For guidance. 
            For wisdom.

Yesterday afternoon I prayed, "I'm overwhelmed by the printer options out there. Lord can you help me identify a local one? Being new here in Chattanooga, and I'd sure love to give this job to someone locally. Get to know more people here, let them have my business."

Later, in the evening, I pulled up the links to the options again. My editor/designer had recommended five websites. Only one, it turns out, prints the size of booklet I want it to be.

Can you guess where that printer is located? Yep. Chattanooga!

This morning, after thinking about being stuck in the mud. I had been reading in multiple places that a book landing page is the MOST important marketing tool, so I searched domain names. And...a really great one - that includes the title - is still available.

Then this afternoon, I had scheduled a call with a mentor/friend. The prolific author Pam Farrel was willing to spend some time with me to give me advice, to help me find my way clearer through this miry bog of the publishing industry. (She and her husband Bill authored Men are Like Waffles, Women are Like Spaghetti, and between them have 50 others). She LOVES the project. She rejoiced about the printer and the domain news. She gave me heaps of advice and I have a clearer plan for my next steps. Something WILL get done by Easter, but MORE will wait until my 60th birthday next February (in time for Easter 2022!)

In her time with the Lord and his word this morning she was reading from Psalm 40. This time I included the next verse, which feels quite prophetic, in light of my hopes for this booklet: 

I waited patiently for the Lord;

    he inclined to me and heard my cry.
He drew me up from the pit of destruction,
    out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
    making my steps secure.

He put a new song in my mouth,
    a song of praise to our God.

Many will see and fear,
    and put their trust in the Lord.

Psalm 40:1-3

Photo Credit: Annie Spratt, Pixbay

1/21/2021

Outrageous Justice ~ Join me for the next 6 Mondays?


I'm about to teach my first zoom class and I wanted to let you know because you cheer me on, and/or might be interested to know (and you might want to pass this on to someone you know is interested in justice issues and the action we can take)!

January 25th to March 1st, 7:00–8:15PM EST, I'll begin a multimedia small group curriculum developed by Prison Fellowship. It will educate you on various aspects of the American criminal justice system. 

You will explore how you can pursue justice and bring about true hope, restoration, and healing. Please note: Prison Fellowship is a Christian non-profit organization, so it is presented from that world-view.

After you have registered, you'll need to download the study guide to follow along with during the course. Videos are used to let you hear from people who have been affected by the Criminal Justice System. These people are also highlighted in their Outrageous Justice book which was used to create the study (pdf or kindle).

What is the commitment?

This group will meet via video conference call for six 75 minute sessions. We stay in the large group format and don't break out into discussion rooms. Individual participants are invited to have input regarding their impressions and experience, but no one is required to speak up if they do not wish to!

There is no outside reading/homework required to participate, but we will offer you practical action items you can do after each session.

The following Monday, March 8th we'll hold another zoom intro to Stephen's Table for any new volunteers who want to learn more before getting involved in writing to our neighbors spending time in TN state prisons. Also, on April 5th, we plan to run a second Outrageous Justice course for anyone who missed it this first time around.

Here is the place on Eventbrite, where you can register for this FIRST time around!

If you have any questions, just give me a call. I do hope you will join me, and consider inviting a friend or two!

Kimberly Creasman

Explorer | Encourager | Creative | +Volunteer with Chattanooga Endeavors’ Stephen’s Table

Staff at Novo.org & Loving being a resident of Chattanooga since 2018!


1/04/2021

Reflections & Resolutions 2020\21


Gathered with a few women across the globe this week. Women who at one point of our lives we converged and did life in Singapore. And did these Reflections and Resolutions face to face.

If you want my 2021 sheet, PM me and I'll email it to you.




12/10/2020

Launch Team?


Pray for me as I’m wrapping up with a designer the little booklet I’ve written called EXPERIENCE GOD.

If you want to be on my “launch team” PM me! I’ll send you and early copy!

Aiming to have it out before Easter 2021


12/07/2020

EVERYONE LOVES PEANUTS!!


My "Christmas-Cheer-Traveling-Card-Kit" is ready to go out & gather signatures today through the 18th.

Then they’ll be delivered to those who will be in jail over Christmas.
You can have a significant role in reducing crime and changing lives. Letters and helping keep a social bond with home reduces recidivism.
Jan 7th at 7PM is a Zoom date for those interested in volunteering to regularly send encouraging notes to someone sentenced to state prison.




#chattanoogaendeavors comes alongside them when released to help them adjust to and succeed with life on the outside.

11/24/2020

Thanksgiving! We're LOVING Fall!

 


Thanksgiving cards went in the mail last Friday.

Nope. Not to you;

but to 70 people I may never meet:

People serving time in prison who call Chattanooga home.

When the blank Thankgiving cards arrived in the mail, I prayed that the Lord would provide at least 15 names signed on each card.

For a prisoner to see a BUNCH of names, it would be a powerful visual that they are not forgotten. I thought that 15 names was a big ask, seeing as we're all still pretty isolated.

Turns out 15 names wasn't too much to ask of God. In the last couple of weeks about 20 people signed them!

My hairdresser did, while my color was processing. Yes. I cover the grey.

Fifteen girls who live in an addiction recovery home run by our church signed. Below is a photo of a few who don't mind having their photo taken.

There's more...

There were some Covenant College girls who wanted to spread the stack of cards on a table in the dining hall one night last week. They'd planned to invite friends to come sign at dinnertime. Then, a bad Covid case quarantined all of the on campus students for the rest of the term! Only 4 roomates signed them. But that's okay!

Two women invited me to their Bible Study groups. A high school girl who was fundraising door to door for her band stayed a few extra minutes to sign.

Some of these people wrote verses or words of encouragement. They also learned more about caring for the prisoner.

At the bottom of this email is a sampling of recent letters that came for me from Tennessee state prisons. So much hope!

What are you most thankful for this week?

Cameron called me last week to ask for Grandma's Orange Candied Yams recipe. it. He baked it for his "Friends Giving" last night.

My mom hated those yams. But she faithfully made a huge batch every year because we all LOVE them! Every year in Asia we had guests or open house for Thanksgiving. Those orange candied yams always went fast. The stuffing, however, was the favorite among our Singaporean and Chinese friends!

We're thankful for our first GORGEOUS fall, and for our supportive friends!

Kimberly & Jim Creasman


P.S. I put an update on the family below for those who missed our last eNews.


A letter from William

"It is inspiring to me, to see people like you..doing so much to reassure men and women behind the wall are certain that someone out there cares about us and we are not forgotten. That there is hope. Hope for reform. Hope of a brighter tomorrow. Hope of love and hope to laugh again." --Arthur D

Arthur writes that he is reading his new Insider Bible free from Prison Fellowship, he's memorizing some verses in Colossians with me, and has his kids signed up for gifts from Angel Tree this year.

from Michael

from Kenneth

If you missed our Family News last month:

In September Tyler flew Cameron out to Columbia, South Carolina for a long weekend. We joined them for two of the days. This was thefirst time we'd been all together since my mom's memorial last September. Expect a happy Christmas card photo in your mail next month (if you don't get one, it means we don't have a correct address for you!).

Jim is loving his trees, his dogs, American football, investing, giving, mentoring calls, and retirement! Kimberly is getting more connected with other NOVO ministries she can partner with. She's also learning the staff admin requirements that Jim did all these years (Bless you and Thank you JIM for the years you let me be FREE of that!). We both LOVE having a house!

Tyler is investigating graduate schools in the US and abroad. The Army has him until Spring next year. After grad school he wants to work internationally for a government agency or an NGO.

Also, Tyler has fallen in lovewith a nurse in Sydney, Australia. Sweet Keara Chan is a Singaporean/American gal who attended the same Christian High School as our boys. We all see that the Lord's hand is in their relationship. Even Cameron, who can't believe his big brother is so smitten! We don't know WHEN they'll have the chance to be physically together (thank God for news of a COVID vaccine!), but their courtship, so far, has been sweet. Lord we pray for Tyler and Keara. What are your plans for them? We pray you will to bring your justice and hope to the nations throught these third culture young adults.

After layoffs in Austin, TX, Cameron found work with California Pizza Kitchen in Cedar Park, TX. He's a a positive and encouraging young man finding his way in the world. 

We're looking at making a trip with Tyler and the dogs to see Cameron the week before Christmas. Happy, happy momma! And Thanksgiving in Atlanta with brother and family...