After spending the afternoon talking to the neighbors and kids, Louis and I went up to the hospital to visit with Frank’s family. Because this was being treated as a trauma and a needless to say a crime, Frank’s personal information was being withheld. The operator would tell you nothing about Frank…not even a room number. But, we were persistent and made our own way to the trauma ICU to see what and who we could find.
That was it! We found Frank’s friends and family overflowing out of the small 8′x12′ waiting room. I admit I was a bit hesitant and felt a bit intrusive, but the Lord had directed us to go. There appeared to be some hesitancy on their part too. Not sure about us and our agenda. But, we were there to….again..just be present….to pray…to read scripture…to be the feet of Jesus. No agenda.
We learned that Frank was not conscious. He had been shot 9 times. Upper right chest, left shoulder, left thigh, right hand and 5 times in the gut. Frank had survived surgery that repaired the extensive damage to his gut and other injuries. Geraldine (Frank’s mom) and Vicky (Frank’s girlfriend) were there. Although only 2 people could be there at any time and only a handful were allowed on the list to visit at all, Louis and I were permitted to see him. Admittedly, I was nervous. I wasn’t sure what I would experience.
Because of Frank’s serious condition, we obviously didn’t stay long…just long enough to pray. We also prayed with Geraldine and Vicky. This became a daily occurrence for Louis and me. We would head to MCV – sometimes together, but sometimes separate. After a couple of days, I think they finally realized that we weren’t going away….we were there for the long haul.
We are soo thankful for the many people that prayed with and for us. The folks at Tuesday Night Prayer Service at Commonwealth Chapel regularly lifted all of us up, and we are so grateful for that.
Louis and my relationship went from basically 0-60 in just about 24 hours. I went from barely liking the guy to seeing him every day! We all still laugh about this now. But, Vicky and Geraldine knew we were getting married before we did! During that first week, they regularly asked me (when I was there without Louis), Where’s your husband? I would repeatedly tell them, we aren’t married. I barely know the guy. We are still getting to know one another. I just met him 4 weeks ago, etc. But…they kept asking me where my husband was and Louis where his wife was.
Then finally, we were there together. I was at one end of the room getting to know one of Frank’s friends, Anthony. And Louis was at the other end of the room talking to Vicky and Geraldine. When Geraldine asked – so….when you goin’ to marry her? It’s written all over your face! You’re in loOoOoOve. I (obviously) was ½ listening to the conversation and glanced at Louis out of the corner of my eye, when I saw that Louis had turned a deep shade of RED!
This was a lovely time of bonding, sharing, and communing with Frank’s family. It didn’t take long before we were hugging each other as we greeted and as we said farewell. We were 2 vastly different groups of people in every way possible with very little in common brought together by a tragic event. Now, over 2 years later, we are sharing life together…birthdays, holidays, etc.
Although I am SOOO sorry that all of us had to experience this event, I am thankful for the friends and dare I say family that is now the result!
But challenging times weren’t far off….
As most of you know, I started this blog in obedience to the Lord for Lent 2010. Although there are different durations of Lent, depending on…on…well a lot of things. This is what www.wikipedia.com has to say on the topic of Lent…
Most followers of Western Catholicism observe Lent beginning on Ash Wednesday (midday, 40 days to Palm Sunday) and concluding at the Ninth Hour of Holy Thursday (44 days in the Catholic Church) or on Holy Saturday (46 days).
One notable exception is the Archdiocese of Milan which follows the Ambrosian Rite and observes Lent starting exactly 6 weeks before Easter. The six Sundays in Lent are not counted among the forty days because each Sunday represents a “mini-Easter,” a celebration of Jesus’ victory over sin and death. When Lent is to continue until Holy Saturday, this leaves exactly forty days of fasting……
And there was more! So, since I am not Catholic and no one really agrees on the length, I’m going to call it until Easter! I committed to posting daily through Lent (or now I will say until Easter) and then, I will reassess the frequency at which I will post. So, now….I guess it is Holy Week posts!
There is still so much to tell…and I KNOW I have left you hanging with Frank. And, you already know that Louis and I got married…so there is no big surprise there. But, there are many good pictures to share!
I will keep on going for now!
I have learned much during this Lenten Season….about me, about God and about others. This has been a sacrifice of time. It has taken a lot more time to write then I originally thought it would. There have been many late nights and early mornings to complete each day. So, sleep is lacking. I have learned that I don’t function well without proper sleep. Reliving some of these stories have been difficult in some ways and absolutely wonderful in others.
Difficult…because of the pain, loneliness and fear that was sometimes involved. Growth is painful and tearful. During these times, I have learned to rely on the Lord. I have been reminded of staying strong through regular prayer and reading of God’s Word. I continue to learn (over and over!!! one day i pray i will finally get it!!) that my identity comes from who I am in Jesus and not from my job, my husband, my ministry, my friends or family, my community or my church.
Joy…because God has been sooo faithful through all of it. It’s been awesome to really see just how much God has been moving and working in my life. It is a pleasure to be used by the Lord in so many ways.
God isn’t done with me yet this season…so I will continue to write daily through the end of the week until Resurrection Day! When I pray that I, too, will be more FREE and ALIVE.
I’m excited to share an event I was just made aware of…
Urban Ministry Forum
“Theology on the Ground”
Wednesday, April 7th from 7-9pm
Union Theological Seminary
You will hear from urban ministers, whose work in Baltimore, DC, and Richmond are truly rooted in building community, empowering the marginalized, and helping people at their point of need.
- Rev. Dr. Anthony Hunt will be discussing how he’s been creating ‘shalom’ zones in some very poor parts of Baltimore;
- Rev. Dr. Roger Gench will be discussing what it’s like to be an urban parish minister and how collective action among churches can accomplish change; and
- Richmond Hill’s Rev. Ben Campbell will describe how spirituality and prayer create ecumenical bonds which then forms concrete social action to help transform this great city.
Union understands that effective ministry means opening one’s doors, offering radical hospitality, and creating relationships to develop the ‘beloved community.’
Today is Saturday and I am writing this post for tomorrow, because I have time today and probably won’t tomorrow. But…by the time this posts and you read it….tomorrow will be today.
Today is Palm Sunday, so I started reflecting on that and reading about it in the Bible. The beginning of Matthew 21 tells the story of how Jesus entered into Jerusalem riding on a donkey. Large crowds gathered…laying down their robes and others cut down branches of palm trees and spread them on the road. All while shouting:
Hosanna! Hosanna! Hosanna in the highest!!!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!!!
This is why we celebrate Palm Sunday. Many refer this event as the Triumphal Entry. I looked up the meaning of triumphal on www.dictionary.com and learned that it is an adjective meaning of, pertaining to, celebrating, or commemorating a triumph or victory. At first glance, this might be referred to as the Victory Circle! I don’t know much about Nascar. But I do know that the winner of the race typically does a couple of donuts before he revs up to the Winner’s Circle to receive his prize.
But…Jesus…He rode in on a DONKEY! The King…the Messiah…rode in on a donkey, NOT a stallion, showing humility. That might be like a driver calmly parking the car and walking over to the circle.
He enters into Jerusalem on a donkey on a carpet of cloaks and palm branches…not a red carpet. The TV crews weren’t there publizing and critiquing the suit he wore or what designer created it for him.
But…the crowds…they did gather and they did scream! They screamed Hosanna! Hosanna! Which basically means SAVE US! SAVE US! Dictionary.com defines it as (an exclamation, originally an appeal to God for deliverance, used in praise of God or Christ.)
And that is why Jesus came to earth. In John 12:47 Jesus says:
“….For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it.”
As I read the paper, watch the news, look out my front door into Southern Barton Heights and look at myself in the mirror. I, too, scream today…. HOSANNA! HOSANNA! I know that I live victoriously because of God’s abundant grace. But when I think of the events of these last few weeks in the nation, the world, and in my own life….I find myself also screaming to the top of my lungs….
SAVE US! SAVE US!
Because I know that ONLY HE can save us…save me…
In January of this year, I was nominated for and accepted a board member position with a non-profit ministry serving Richmond’s inner city called STEP (Strategies to Elevate People). If you are interested in learning more about, serving with or giving to this deserving organization, check out their newsletter by click this link > STEP March Newsletter.
Here’s a little more info about STEP….
Develop strategies to meet the needs of the urban poor in Richmond.
Defeat poverty in the lives of our urban neighbors.
Build vital relationships through effective Christian community and
Mobilize resources of the church to serve the poor in the City and
Empower organizations and ministries seeking to reach our urban neighbors in order to
Minister to the urban poor by sharing the love and hope of Christ
Our Core Values:
We serve as an arm of the Church, upholding its role in ministering to the needs of the poor (Eph. 4:11-12)
We believe that every person has a valued place in the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:12-15, Ps. 8:4)
We are called to be in community with other believers to support God’s Kingdom work (Heb. 10:24-25)
We enable others to be educated in order to produce opportunities and enable them to more effectively steward the gifts with which they have been entrusted (Prov. 23:12 & 24:3-4)
We enable others to work so that they can in turn give to others (Titus 6:17-19)
Thanks for reading and considering.
Continued from last nights post….The Next Day Part 1
These are complicated questions to answer. There is so MUCH history that goes into it. There are way more questions than answers. Or…answers that you want to hear, anyway. I encourage you to dig deep…ask the questions…seek the answers.
A question like, HOW did it end up like this? Deep-rooted systemic decisions and policies that were made intentionally by people in power dating decades….centuries ago…that have led to the problems we have in the City of Richmond today. If you want to learn more, Ben Campbell, at Richmond Hill, has a wonderful class - Richmond’s Unhealed History – 9 Lectures on the History of Richmond 1607-2009. It offers a whole new perspective….that is NOT what you read in the history books in school growing up. We need more people to get involved in the social justice issues that impact not just the City of Richmond, but the metro area as a whole.
Others may ask…why don’t YOU move? Why do you stay? As a matter of fact, Frank himself has asked me that same question more than once. He thought I would be packing it up after that night. But, I will tell you what I told him. A year before Frank got shot, my car was vandalized when the windows were shot out. It later was stolen and dumped off in Petersburg. People then asked, why don’t you move? If I had moved in early 2007 after that happened, who would have been there the night Frank got shot? God doesn’t NEED us to do a thing. He can do it on His own, without our help. But, what a priviledge it is to be used by my Almighty God. So, He called me (and now Louis) here to SBH. We won’t leave until He calls us some place else. I have committed my life to Him..so I will go where He sends me. Will you?
Just yesterday, Mom sent me a devotional newsletter email called Inspired Faith. I will end this post with that word…
For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.II Chronicles 16:9 NIV
God has called each of us to obey Him in the place He has us. In His eyes we all have a ministry. Many serve Him in a local church through a variety of ministries, such as music, teaching, youth work, or by being a part of the church staff. Others serve on the mission field, on the job, at school, or at home.
God knows you and He knows your heart desires to serve Him. You are someone that He will use to make a difference, to share His love, and to touch the hearts of others. What has qualified you for this high privilege of being used by Him? Is it your talents, your personality, your education, your influence, or your résumé? It is none of these; rather, it is the response of your heart toward Him. God is always searching for those whose hearts are yielded to Him so that He can work mightily through them.
Sometimes we can be led to think that God’s work is dependent upon us, upon what we do, and upon what we know. The truth is that God wants us to be totally dependent upon Him. He is the Treasure, we are the vessels; He is Vine, we are the branches; He is the Living Water, we are the channels through which He flows.
The apostle Peter was someone who needed to learn this important truth. Jesus taught him the futility of trying to get results through his own efforts by allowing him, an expert fisherman, to labor all night and come up empty. Afterward, when He followed Jesus’ word to cast out into the deep, Peter pulled in a catch that was beyond his dreams.
As His servant, remember that your ministry is His idea and not yours. He is the One who knows you, who has called you, and who has equipped you to serve Him. Remain true, remain faithful, remain restful, and remain totally dependent upon Him.
God is not looking for those who are clever, but for those in whom He can be wise; He is not looking for those who are talented, but for those to whom He can be all sufficient; He is not looking for those who are powerful, but for those through whom He can be almighty.
by Roy Lessin, DaySpring Cofounder
Needless to say, I went on to work the next day…until mid afternoon when the kids were coming home from school. I SOOO wanted and needed to check on Anthony and Lil Mike to make sure they were OK. God blessed us with a beautiful day! A few things happened that afternoon….
One – My mom met me here. She just wanted to lay eyes on me and pray. I SOOO appreciate the many, many prayers that were offered up on our behalf!
Two – Lil Mike and Tony were fine! Those kids totally were amazing and so strong.
Three – The community also was wonderful! Frank had grown up in the Southern Barton Heights area, so he was well-known and loved by a lot of people. Since it was a beautiful day, I was putzing around in the front yard…with my plants, etc. The kids had always loved and welcomed me into the community, but many of the adults didn’t quite know what to do with me. Didn’t know what I was all about or why I moved into SBH. That day, I met more neighbors than I had in the last couple of years. People intentionally stopped by to thank me (and Louis) and to ask about Frank. It was an opportunity to not only meet people, but also share what God had done that night. It was a time to pray and encourage Frank’s friends. I had gained a “street cred” that I didn’t have before.
People shared what they did when they heard the shots. The natural instinct of living in the inner city, crime infested area is to run away (if you were on the street), hide in your closet, jump in your bathtub, lock your doors, brace the door with a chair under the doorknob (should the shooter try to run into the house). Yet, Louis and I ran into the street into the fray. We never thought to do anything else. We were Called to be there and to respond.
I often wonder what we would do now. Hopefully we won’t have to find out!!! We hear gunshots all the time….but thankfully from a distance. Needless to say, we were a bit gun-shy (no pun intended!) for a while after that. Late one night we heard a gunshot fairly close. Louis and I looked outside, but didn’t see anything to respond to. But, we quickly shut and locked the door. A little later our door bell rang. Normally, I didn’t think twice about opening it. That night we did…we just yelled through the door. My heart pounded in my chest. I realized that I was more traumatized than I realized. By the way…it was just someone telling us that Louis had left the inside light of his car on. It took a few days before we realized that we trusted God that night, and we can still trust God now. That we must use wisdom, but we could no longer live in fear. God healed me of that.
That day…when I sat outside talking to people, I heard their stories…everyone had one, two, three friends that had been shot~ injured and killed. Some had been shot themselves. I can’t even imagine WHAT this must do to you after years…how it must impact the kids who grow up here. For I have the HOPE in me….and it sometimes is tough. What about those who don’t know the Lord? Many may ask…why don’t they move? Why do they stay? Why don’t they just pack up and move some place safe. Let me caution you (and me for that that matter!) about judging these wonderful inner city dwellers! Remember what the Word says about judging. Matthew 7:1-2, Luke 6:37 and John 12:47, to name a few scriptures, speak to this directly.
to be continued….
Picking up from the 3/20 post The Word Became Flesh… (click if you want to read it before continuing)
I have been really struggling on what to say and how to continue telling this story about how we met Frank and his family. The last thing I want to do is to hurt anyone by my words or release any confidential information. So, I will not give many details, but will tell what I feel comfortable with until I can talk with Frank and his family.
That night, Louis and I went up to the hospital, just a couple of miles from where I live. Thankfully, it was close since Frank had been shot 9 times!
After praying for wisdom, Louis and I walked into the Gateway Building (like a lobby) of MCV, now VCU Health Systems. I’m not sure about Louis and how he was feeling, but I was feeling a bit out of place and nervous. The lobby was FULL for 11:30pm on a Sunday night. I didn’t quite understand. Louis and I were the only white people in a lobby full of black people where it was eerily quiet and heavy when we walked in. Still in a bit of shock, I’m not sure why I didn’t place them with Frank.
But, Louis, having spent many hours and visits in the hospitals with church members, knew what to do. He introduced himself to the receptionist/guard and we asked for a status update on Frank. When a short woman beside me, firmly and loudly stated…that’s my son! What do YOU people want with my SON?!?!? I quietly and quickly introduced us to her and let her know why we were there. She quickly responded, Not YOU people! YOU didn’t help my son! I assured her that we did and quickly explained again why we decided to come up there. I gently guided her over to where the others were located, as they looked at us with a bit of distrust.
After praying for some help and wisdom, I calmly introduced myself and Louis. It was probably helpful that I introduced him as a Reverend! After learning that they had no knowledge of what happened or if Frank was even alive, we shared with them what we knew….where I lived, the events of the evening, we didn’t see it happen, how we responded, what Frank had said to me, and how he was alive when he was taken to the hospital. The distrust from the crowd waned a bit.
We just shared that we wanted to be there for anything that they needed. When one of Frank’s friends said, but you already have done so much. I explained that we hadn’t done all that much, but that Jesus had done it all. We also stated that we were there to be with them and pray with them. Whatever they needed. When another friend said, so what are we waiting on…let’s pray…as he stuck both hands out to grab the hands of those around him. Louis led us in prayer for the family, the doctors and medical staff, for Frank, etc.
Although it often felt awkward for them…and for us, Louis and I continued to hang out with Friends and Family for another hour or so before going back to my house. Some might call it the gift of being present.
Louis and I were up rather late that night…processing, chillin’, decompressing. I am sooo very thankful for the many many prayers that were offered up for us and for Frank and his family during this time. I don’t know for sure WHAT Frank was doing that night or WHY someone wanted to shoot him. I can assume that it was a robbery…but it wasn’t. He still had everything on him that a robber would want. And…based on my extensive (HA!) experience, I don’t think a robber would shoot him 9 times! I can’t help but think it was personal. We could all probably guess and probably won’t be far off from the truth. Whatever it was. I still don’t need to know.
What I DO know is that my God is in control and He loves us more than we can EVER imagine! I do know that…
…my mom and her friends were regularly praying for me (since January 2007)
….the Lord had introduced Louis and me a month before (not in July 2007) for a reason.
…my heart had changed that Saturday night for a reason.
…Louis and I were home and cooked out on the grill that night (instead of going out)
…Louis wasn’t outside when the shoot occurred
…the kids were dropped off early from youth group and they weren’t outside
….Louis remembered to cut the grill off
…we were NOT going up the inside steps
for a reason. There were soooo many things that the Lord did to protect us and to prepare us for “such a time as this”. All this was done, so that we could be there when Frank got shot. Remember…no one else responded. He would have been left to die that night on the street beside my house. That’s what I used to tell Frank ALL THE TIME…God loves him SOOO much that He did all of this AND MORE. We had been there…as the feet of Jesus. Nothing more…nothing less.
I had prayed a year before for the other ½ of my pair…in ministry to Southern Barton Heights. And God had heard and had answered…in HIS time…His perfect time.
Louis and I have been in the ministry business together ever since!
TO GOD BE THE GLORY!!!
My friend and author of The Meeting of the Waters, Fritz Kling recently posted on his FB page…
“Over the past 25 years, there has been a 45% drop in how often people invite friends to their homes. Wow! I know Val and I have done our part to keep that figure from being worse! But I’m troubled by what this means for a culture…and what we Christians are doing to stem the tide. In the Bible, good things happen over meals and in homes, and I feel a need now to try harder than ever to practice hospitality.”
I could NOT agree more! Good things DO happen over meals and in our homes…not to mention on our porches and back yards!!! Fritz’s comment really got me thinking…
Louis and I truly enjoy entertaining! Thankfully, I have a wonderful husband who *LOVES* to cook, especially on the grill. Some of you know…you’ve tasted his delectable goodies. As many of you know, his homemade teriyaki sauce is good on just about EVERYTHING! He receives regular requests for his teriyaki steak or chicken, crab stuffed salmon, and pancakes! We have often thought of bottling it. But, can’t think of a good name. Any ideas? RevUp Teriyaki is a good possibility.
But, it is NOT just about the food goodness. It’s more about the communing….the chillin’ and relaxin’ with old friends or making new ones. It’s about building community, laughing, playing, relaxing and enjoying one another. The Bible is FULL of stories that take place around the table. I particularly like the ones that where Jesus ate with the “sinners” and the “outsiders”. Then, this got me reading…a blog…John Mark Hicks Ministries, specifically his Missional Table post, although there were more posts on the topic.
“Luke is a narrator. He tells stories rather than writing didactic prose. Through the stories he inculcates the values which he wants his community to embrace. Each meal story reveals something about Jesus and his mission. In Luke 5:27-32 Jesus sits at table with sinners as a physican among the sick. In Luke 7:36-50 Jesus receives a sinful woman at the table of a Pharisee and declares her sins forgiven. In Luke 9:10-17 Jesus shows hospitality to 5000 people as he first calls his disciples to mission (“give them something to eat”) and then models before them his messianic mission. The disciples are called to service. The table has a missional dimension; it reflects the mission of God to commune with his people at table. In Luke 10:38-42 Jesus accepts women as his disciples. In Luke 11:37-54 Jesus condemns the Pharisees because they sit at table only in form, not in spirit. In Luke 14:1-24 Jesus notes that their table does not look like the kingdom of God, but it looks like themselves. In Luke 19:1-10 Jesus invites himself to table with the tax collector Zacchaeus and declares that salvation had come to his house. Luke 24 welcomes a stranger to the table in Emmaus (Luke 24:30-35) and commissions the disciples to bear witness to gospel among all nations (Luke 24:45-49). Just as the disciples offered hospitality to a stranger on the way, so the table is a place where the church welcomes strangers (aliens or “others”). The table has a missionary quality, especially in light of the fact that the disciples receive their call to missions at a table.”
If this is what Jesus is modeling for us on a frequent basis, then who are we communing with and how often are we doing it? Based on the statistic that Fritz brought us, we must not be doing it often. I wonder why we don’t do it more. What keeps us from “breaking bread” with others on a more regular basis? Taking quality time with our families and friends?
and possibly even strangers?
Hebrews 13:2 “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”
Here are a few pics of times we have welcomed friends and strangers, sinners and saints, young and old, black and white, rich and poor to our table, our porch, our back yard and our kitchen for a cooking lesson or 2! I hope to have many more full tables in the weeks, months and years to come! You are welcome at our table anytime…come on over!
This is SOOO EXCITING to announce! Please help spread the word!!!!
NeighborWorks® Resource Group
in partnership with
River City Express Network of the
American Business Women’s Association
23222 Zip Code
who attends or plans to attend a
technical school or community college.
Here are the qualifications!
In order to be eligible for scholarship consideration, candidates must be women who:
(1) are citizens of the United States and residents of City of Richmond (zip code 23222 only)
(2) will be college First or Second Year level in Aug. 2010;
(3) are attending or have been accepted at a Virginia licensed, accredited vocational/technical school or community college authorized to confer an associate degree;
(4) have achieved a cumulative grade point average of 2.5 GPA or better on a 4.0 scale.
DEADLINE: May 1, 2010
The application will be completed online and requires a biographical sketch, three (3) professional letters of reference and an official transcript. To apply, interested, eligible women should send name, zip code and email address to:
Cindy A. Mims at firstname.lastname@example.org
Help us get this news out into our community! Please share this info with your community associations, churches and schools!
About NeighborWorks® Resource Group
Established in 1981, NeighborWorks® Resource Group is a private, non-profit organization created specifically to present opportunities for low and moderate income families preparing to purchase affordable homes and to strengthen communities in Richmond and central Virginia. NeighborWorks® Resource Group serves as a central resource for services and training to help homebuyers purchase, rehabilitate, insure, and maintain their home. For more information, we invite you to visit www.nwresourcegroup.org.
RIVER CITY EXPRESS NETWORK of ABWA is part of a national network of businesswomen. Founded in 1949, ABWA is a 17,000 member strong association with chapters and Express Networks nationwide, providing business skills training and networking opportunities for women of diverse occupations to enhance career advancement and personal development. Visit our website: www.rivercityexpressnetwork.org
ABWA has dedicated more than half a century to women’s education and provided workplace skills and career development training for more than 565,000 members.
SBMEF is a charitable trust and public foundation. It has the same tax status as public schools, churches and community funds. The Fund is listed in the IRS “Cumulative List of Organizations” described in Section 170(c) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954 – revised Oct. 31, 1974.