It was a GREAT day @ Miss Marti’s House!!!

We had a WONDERFUL time today partnering with U-Turn and Commonwealth Chapel this afternoon to reach out to the kids of Southern Barton Heights!!! Over 20 kids signed up for the upcoming Saturday morning events.  Each Saturday the kids will be scooped up to be taken to U-Turn to play sports for a couple of hours.  In addition, they will be fed…both physically with a snack AND spiritually with the Word of God.

Thanks to the Commonwealth Chapel Missional Communities and to U-Turn for killer partnership!!!  You guys are the BEST!!!  May you be blessed for the sacrifice of your time and love!!! Louis and I look forward to partnering more in the future!  Even more…I’m looking to see what the Lord will do with this time!   To God be the Glory!

My Friend, Larry – A Guest Blogger

Larry at Work

Larry is a neighbor and a good friend of mine.  He’s going into the 3rd grade at Overby Sheppard Elementary School.  He and several other boys including his older brother have been reading the booklet – Rediscover the Barton Heights Community.  Larry is my first Guest Blogger, and this is what he has to say….

The history of barton

The first house built on barton was called Corner Minor Estate.

Corner Minor 6.24.2010 ~ taken by Larry

It is in my neighborhood. I moved here because we needed to go to a new school overby sheppard.

I have a lot of history of my neighborhood like the first church of my neighborhood.

Me and my friends have fun learning about the neighborhood and on Saturdays u-turn is teaching us how to play soccer .I do a lot so I try to do stuff every week because it is now summer so I have A lot of stuff on my plate. I am writing because I love to write story’s and I have a story book. I am going to put pictures on. And I love cup stacking

Larry's Great Smile

Larry > Cup Stacking

According to Rediscover the Barton Heights Community, “James Barton built a huge home for himself, in 1892, at the cornes of Roberts and Monterio Streets…..Sometime before 1926, the house was remodeled and converted into the Terrace Springs Sanitarium. Today, over one hundred years old, the building is still standing and is still in use.  It is now known as Terrace Hill Home for the Aged.”

Unfortunately, that was written in 1995.  At some point, it was abandoned and left empty.  We have many, many dreams for this house…that it will be used again for a community center, affordable housing, or a school.  We have God-sized dreams of restoration!!

Larry, Wesley and Corner Minor 6.24.2010

Happy Birthday, John Perkins!

Earlier this morning, Louis and I were meeting with a couple of friends to discuss what the Lord is doing in our hearts out of their response to my post “it’s a dangerous thing to let Jesus use your boat.” Bob Lupton.  And John M. Perkins‘ book, Beyond Charity (one of our favorites!!!) was on the table as we discussed the best way to approach sharing the Gospel, being the feet of Jesus and the on-going Urban:Suburban Challenge in doing that.

Louis has had the chance to hear John M. Perkins speak on more than one occasion.  The first being in college at Davidson, when John M. Perkins officially became Louis’ hero! I (green with envy!!!), however, have only had the opportunity to hear him through reading his books and admire his heart, passion and action!!!  I, too, can say…he’s my hero!!!

This was sent to me on FB from a new friend, Kathy Armstrong….but was found posted on Sara Groves’ FB Notes page.   Let me introduce you to John M. Perkins….on his 80th birthday!  Told through Jon Foreman, of Switchfoot and Sara Groves.

Happy Birthday, John M Perkins!!  May there be MANY, MANY more!!!

Last year Troy and I had the opportunity to meet Dr. John Perkins. He spoke for one hour, pulling from his experience as a pastor, civil rights leader, near martyr, and inspired follower of Christ. We were given a ten minute break to move from that session to the next thing, but I needed time. I wanted to go to a quiet place and grieve, to face what he had said, to process how I would respond. And I wanted to hear more – here is a near octogenarian who has lived through one of the most turbulent, dark episodes in our history, and he has clarity on life, and on our role as a people called to carry out the love of God. This week is Dr. Perkin’s 80th birthday – here is a tribute to him written by John Foreman in the Huffington Post, with a link to their new song called THE SOUND, inspired by Dr. Perkins: All of us grow old, but how many of us turn and turn and turn and turn our anger and our questions and our fears and confrontations with injustice, over to God, bent on redemption! This is what Dr. Perkins has done, and at 80 years old, he has good things to say to us. I’m listening!

The 1% Solution

Revised…6/22 – Provided the report. Click the image below to be taken to the full report.

I was invited to attend the Second Annual Family and Fatherhood Forum at the Crown Plaza on Friday, June 18 at the Crown Plaza here in Richmond sponsored by First Things First, Richmond Healthy Start, Virginia Department of Social Services, Richmond City Health District, and the Virginia Department of Health. It was a well-attended follow-up to the meeting held at the same time last year….the Friday before Father’s Day!

Click for access to the full report.

We were welcomed by Byron Marshall, CAO for Mayor Jones. Brian Gullins, Family and Fatherhood Initiative Coordinator for the Richmond City Health District, reviewed the results of a Study called the Cost and Solutions to Family Fragmentation and Father Absence in Richmond, VA.  There was a panel discussing alternatives to incarceration consisting of Michael Herring, Richmond Commonwealth Attorney, CT Woody, Sheriff – Richmond City, and Philip White, Fatherhood Program, Henrico County.

The keynote speaker, Roland Warren, President National Fatherhood Initiative, spoke about the Pillars of Culture that impacts our view of Fatherhood….Business, Entertainment/Pop Culture and Government. We were charged with finding ways to connect kids with more than their father’s wallet. Once you get to the heart, the wallet is a short reach from there.

The moral, social, economic, and spiritual costs are outstanding FOR US ALL! If you sit in the suburbs, don’t think this doesn’t impact you! If you are white and saying it’s a “black” thing…think again! If you sit in Windsor Farms, the Fan or the county, this too impacts you! Although this report was about the City itself, its impacts are far reaching. I’d dare say that it was a problem in the counties as well, or Henrico wouldn’t have Fatherhood program of its own. Family Fragmentation and Father Absence is rampant throughout the Metro Richmond area.

This report was calculated based on the work and methodology of native Richmonder Benjamin Scafidi, PhD. From the Georgia Family Councel. It states…“The link between poverty and family fragmentation has been well researched and is widely accepted. Family fragmentation and father absence has caused an increase in taxpayer cost to antipoverty programs, justice system costs (courts, police, prisons, jails) present the most likely source for redirecting funds into preventative, alternative and reentry programs as those presented in the Solutions portion of this report.”

Looking at just one aspect of the study – Percent of Non-Marital Births around Richmond City, VA Residents, the percentage hovered around 10% from 1917 with slight increases in the 50’s. Then, HUGE increases over the years until we landed at nearly 65% in 2007.

• 64% to women who are single at time of birth
• 75% of those non-marital births are to women 20 years or older (leaving 25% as teenage pregnancies)

The report goes on to say…“Based on this methodology we estimate that family fragmentation in Richmond costs taxpayers at least $205 million each year or over a billion every 5 years.” However, with slight decreases come large increases! The report also states that with just 1% reduction in family fragmentation would save US taxpayers $1.1 billion each year, bringing nearly $2million savings in Richmond each and every year.

So…how can we not think that this doesn’t deserve our attention? that SOMETHING must be done? that these statistics aren’t startling? 1% isn’t that much! We CAN do this! But, how?

The report went on to summarize the 1% Solution with action items under each of the following solutions.

• Community Mobilization
• Social Marketing
• Resource Development
• Policy Development
• Workforce Development
• Alternatives to Incarceration and Re-Entry

I hope this gets you…


and pondering…

and praying….

how can I get involved?

And…as the church….what is our role?  how and where should WE get involved?

Thankfulness!!!…and HELP!!!!!!!

In  3 Boats Sited in Southern Barton Heights, I told you the story of how the Fletcher’s and the Garza’s came through with the laptop!  I am PLEASED to say that Mario delivered it today!!!

Here it is!!!

I am just FILLED with thankfulness and gratitude to both families for helping us out!   Everett aka “the Gardna” was the first to use it!  He loves for me to find his favorite old school R&B songs for him to listen to.  Now…he is learning to do it himself.  He calls it “you-tubin'”. His first search?  Average White Band – Cloudy!  He played it over and over!  It brought joy to both of us! So now…we are in search for a set of speakers so he can hear it better!  I wish I had gotten a picture of him, but I was working!

Thankfulness!So, this is where I need some help from some teachers and parents!  What are some good sites the kids can visit to LEARN something this summer?  Ages are mostly elementary and middle school age.  Some are high school.  How can computer use be used as a reward?  What are some good “rules” to put into place (other than the obvious…no downloading, no porn, etc)? We have A LOT of kids from many families who hang here…so think about the impact of that with any advice given.  They will learn to share…if nothing else!!!

In addition…watch for a future blog where m2k’s are the authors and photographers! Just have to think of a name!  That just might have to be a contest for the kids!  Name the blog…get the first post!  hmmmm….i think that I might be on to something!!!

Building a Boat Dock

After the last couple of posts  “it’s a dangerous thing to let Jesus use your boat.” Bob Lupton and 3 Boats Sited in Southern Barton Heights, there really seems to be quite a theme recently…boats are showing up left and right!!!  We’re going to need to build a boat dock!!!

Check this out….

We have a young lady with a young baby who needs furniture for her new home in Gilpen Court and for the baby.  Charles called to tell me about her to see if we could help her out!  We agreed that he’s going to go check her out and make sure that everything is legit.

Within a matter of hours, my friend Tammy McClure calls me.  She has a whole car load of baby things…stroller, car seats, etc.  Check!  Within a matter of days, Judy Harris from church told me about bedroom furniture that needs a home.  Check!  In addition, we have a lead on some other home items that will assist her.  As we still need kitchen items/furniture, living room, baby crib, etc.  Before too long…we can check that one off the list too!  Keep that in prayer!!! Last…we have a near-by church family I feel will connect her with.

OK…then…here’s the big cruise boat coming into SBH.  Commonwealth Chapel is partnering with U-Turn.  On Saturday 6/26 we are having a cookout at Miss Marti’s House to introduce a new Saturday morning program to the kids.  Where the ComChap van will come through picking up kids ages 7-12 to hang at U-Turn….playing sports, eating/drinking a snack and receiving encouragement from the Bible.  There are 2 ComChap Missional Communities – West End and Sports MC’s that are heading this up with U-Turn.

My friend Jelani, the Director of Outreach at U-Turn, and I have been waiting patiently to get the interest and manpower behind this.  I couldn’t be more thrilled to see how people are allowing Jesus to use their boats…..

Boats called resources, time, creativity, energy, love, talents/gifts, driving, cooking, food, love, and so much more!!!

I’m excited to see whose boat Jesus uses next!!!


Last night we had a blast playing Bananagrams!!!  It was my last night alone!!!! Thankfully, Louis will be home tonight!!!  YAY!!!  We love to “play” Bananagrams…although it doesn’t hold our attention for very long.  Terence, Bishop, Deshawn and Larry kept me company on my last night alone!  Ya’ gotta love those guys!!!

Next Saturday 6.26 from 4-6 we are partnering with U-Turn and 2 (maybe 3) Commonwealth Chapel Missional Communities to throw a neighborhood cook-out for the kids 7-12 and their parents.  We are introducing a new Saturday morning program that will allow kids to go to U-Turn to play, have a snack and take a little time for the Word.  Praying that Larry, Deshawn and Bishop will go.  Terence is a little too old, but maybe he can be a Jr Leader.  We will have to see.  Please join us in prayer for this outreach!


As many of you know, Louis has been out of town this week taking care of Mama (his mom).  Mama had knee replacement on Monday and is recovering really well!  Thanks so much for your thoughts and prayers!  Thankfully Louis is coming home Friday night!  We got married just a short 18 months ago…and this is the longest we have been apart!  I miss him and will be thrilled when he comes home!!!

It’s been interesting here in SBH while he has been gone.  Back before Louis was in the picture, I was “taken care of” by the community.  “Miss Marti” was accepted and cared for and looked after.  Then…Louis came into the picture.  Things shifted.  It took us a while to see that it happen.  It didn’t feel the same.  I was told by others that it was out of respect for Louis, as the “man of the house” that things changed.  It wasn’t Louis per se, but it would have been the same if it was some other guy.  But, it still felt really weird.  I missed the ole days!

Well, this week…that was confirmed as the guys came back to the rescue!  CW walked with me and Wesley on our evening walk.  Ron texted me “and you never have to ask me to keep an eye on you,…Been doing that since you moved in.” after I asked him to keep an eye on me late one night when I walked Welsey on a short walk to the “pooping field”. Everett continued to come by to empty the trash, check on me and will be cutting the grass tomorrow! Another offered to take my recycling bin to the curb.  Mike tracked me down to let me know that a headlight was out.  Charles changed the headlight for me.


I am soooo blessed to have friends in the community!  Not just because they helped me out, but because they care.  Some would look down on many of these guys as some hang out on the corner in their white t-shirts and jeans. Or maybe others would look at them as hopeless. Or label them as deadbeat dads.  Or drug dealers. Or no-good thugs.  Or addicts.  Maybe they are.  I don’t know.  What I do know…is they are my friends and DO have a heart.  They are made in God’s image.  My friends have potential.  They showed care…dare I say love…for me.  It reminds me they are NOT beyond hope!  It reminds me that NO ONE is beyond the reach of the Lord.  My friends are not so far gone, so hardened, so hopeless, so angry, so disappointed, so rejected and dejected, so strung out, so whatever…

Romans 3:22-24 (New International Version)

22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

Lord….Thank you for your grace!  Thank you for the cross!  Thank you for reminding me that I too fall short of Your glory and forgive me for judging and giving up hope.  May my heart break for what breaks Yours.  Show me how to love my friends and my community like You love it.  In Jesus’ Name.

3 Boats Sited in Southern Barton Heights

Ok.  After reading the last post “it’s a dangerous thing to let Jesus use your boat.” Bob Lupton, you may be wondering…what is my boat?  I don’t have a boat.  YES, you do!!!

Let me share with you a story that happened just this week that demonstrates Jesus using boats right before our eyes!  We have been praying for a computer that the kids and community could use.  Miss Marti’s Kids don’t always have access to a computer/internet to use for school projects, homework and research.  In addition, there isn’t readily available access to computer/internet to look for and apply for jobs.


This week, Michael Fletcher and his family used their “boat” called resources and willingly donated their family’s used Dell Laptop (following an upgrade to a new computer) to Miss Marti’s House!!!  I was THRILLED!  But, it came with a slight problem.  It wouldn’t charge.  Thanks be to God! And thanks to the Fletchers for being willing to let Jesus use their boat called Resources!


Well, those of you who know me…know that I am NOT very tech savvy.  I know how to use a computer just fine, but don’t ask me HOW or WHAT makes it work!  That…I have no clue.  Enter…Mario Garza, a new member to our Missional Community.  Mario and his brother Fernando took the computer home to see if they could diagnose the problem.  Mario contacted me today and let me know the solution was simple.  It needed a new power cord.  So, one has been ordered and upon arrival, Mario will not only ensure it is up and running, but is also going to scrub it and download fresh anti-virus protection (which will be MUCH needed!!!) and Windows XP, etc.  Thanks be to God and the Garzo’s for allowing Jesus to use their boats called Knowledge and Time!


So I ask again…What’s your boat called?  ALL of us have something to offer.  Are you using yours to bring glory to God?  Are you fishing for men?  To carry this analogy possibly too far…when we let Jesus use our boats…our nets are HEAVY with fish.  When we try to do it on our own…we bring in empty nets.  When we aren’t doing a thing…the boat’s just rottin’ at the dock and needs a little work.

If you don’t know what your “boat” is, I pray the Holy Spirit will be your lighthouse and guide you through the fog to safe landing at the feet of Jesus.  We often look for the “big mission” or “God’s will” for our lives.  Well, what about God’s will for today or this minute…this hour? God has a will for every moment of our life.  Are you in God’s will right now as you read this?  I dare say yes.  You were meant to read this at this very moment.  As we pray like Jesus taught us….Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  So, what will you do now?  Will you let Jesus use your boat to do His will on Earth?

What is your boat called?

“it’s a dangerous thing to let Jesus use your boat.” Bob Lupton

The below article was taken from Urban Perspectives blog from FCS Urban Ministries in Atlanta, GA.  It’s the story of Luke 5.  This is my prayer!  This is my hope, desire and dream for Richmond, VA…especially for Southern Barton Heights/Northside.  Lord, may it be so.  But, in the meantime…are you willing to let Jesus use YOUR boat??? What IS your “boat”? Keep reading…

Let’s Go Fishing

June 2010

by Bob Lupton, June 2010

No one knows fish like a commercial fisherman.  When your livelihood is dependent on your daily catch, you become an expert in the habits and appetites of edible species.  You study spawning seasons, migration patterns, the tides, the weather – anything to calculate the optimal time to cast off for a productive expedition.  But as all fishermen know, fish are elusive creatures.  With all the best intelligence, catching them is still a matter of chance.

Simon was a fisherman.  He and his two partners, James and John, owned a small commercial fishing fleet that afforded them a modest living.  They had been out all night dragging their heavy nets but pulling in nothing.  Discouraging toil but necessary.  It was, after all, a game of odds.  And years of experience had taught them that at this time in the fishing calendar the odds of a catch diminished with the rising of the sun. Time to call it a day, or a night, rather.

They had pulled their boats up onto the shore and had just begun cleaning the seaweed out of their nets when a noisy gathering of town folk came pushing and shoving down the beach.  The crowd was attracted by the provocative speech of a young Galilean.  Rumors were this young teacher was a new prophet on the scene – some even said he might be the long awaited messiah.  Everyone was pressing in for a look.  The young teacher, spying the idle boats, motioned to Simon to push one off shore a few feet to give him a little separation from the jostling crowd.  Simon obliged and the teacher continued his speech using Simon’s boat as a floating platform.

When his speech ended and the crowd disbursed, the young teacher expressed his gratitude to Simon for the use of his boat.  And then offered a most unusual suggestion.  No, it was more than a suggestion, more like an order.  “Give it another try, Simon, out there in the deep water.”  It was not a particularly welcome request.  The teacher may have been alive with morning energy, probably had a good night’s sleep, but Simon was spent.  The last thing he wanted to do was load up his soggy net again and row out into the lake.  But then, who knows, maybe this Galilean was a sure-enough prophet after all.  Maybe he knew something Simon didn’t.  Reluctantly Simon consented.  Motioning to his helper to give him a hand, they dragged the half-cleaned net back onto the boat and shoved off from shore.

They rowed out to where Gennesaret’s water turned an inky blue-green and dropped the net over the side. No sooner had it disappeared below the surface than a furious tugging began.  It was the kind of tension a fisherman recognizes well, the kind of pulling a fisherman’s dreams are made of.  “Pull! Pull!”  Simon roared.   In moments the net was bulging with fish, so many they could barely drag it up over the side.  The bottom of the boat was literally alive with a flipping, flopping mass fish.  Another cast of the net produced the same results.  “Get out here fast!” Simon bellowed to James and John who were still on shore cleaning their nets.  In a few frantic minutes both crews were hauling in nets literally bursting with fish, so many fish that the sheer weight threatened to sink their boats.  Never in their entire fishing careers had they landed a catch to equal this one.  Never.

When the boats were eased back to shore, top-heavy with precious cargo that would bring a record return from the fish merchants, the impact of the episode began to sink in.  Simon’s first reaction, once he caught his breath and wiped the sweat from his face, was profound embarrassment.  “Master.”  That’s about all he could get out. This had to be the messiah, and what disrespect he had shown him!  “Just leave,” Simon motioned, staring down at the sand in humiliation.  “You don’t want to associate with a sinner like me.”

“Oh, that’s alright, Simon,” the Teacher responded with a smile.  “You’ve got some bigger fish than this to catch. Come on, I’ll show you.”   And that’s when Simon the commercial fisherman became Peter the fisher of men.

It’s a dangerous thing to let Jesus use your boat, even for a morning.  It can end up costing you far more than you bargained for.  Just ask Peter.  Lend Jesus an idle asset (like a beached boat or unused office space or a bit of your schedule) and it can open you up to a whole new life.  Take Jack Morse, successful real estate developer, who lent our ministry a little bit of his unused credit capacity to purchase and rehab a vacant apartment complex for affordable housing.  It was a small deal for Jack.  At first.  And then he uncovered the need for a decent grocery store in the neighborhood.  He got drawn in a little deeper.  And then arose the opportunity to transform a nearby public housing project from a killing field to a healthy community, a daunting challenge.  In the end, Jack walked away from his boat and nets to devote full-time to redemptive work in the city.  As I said, it’s a dangerous thing to let Jesus use your boat.

It’s dangerous, yes, but ask Peter or Jack or any of a handful of successful business people you know who have been lured into a Jesus-mission and you will hear a similar response.  “I-had-no-idea.”  That’s what you’ll hear.  You may hear words like “challenging” or “consuming” or “frustrating” or “inspiring”.  But there is one word you will not hear.  “Regret.”  Go ahead.  Ask them.  Ask Tom Cousins who converted a defunct golf course into a cash cow that transformed the ghetto community of East Lake.  Or David Allman who leveraged his assets and influence to take on poverty in Nicaragua.   Ask them or any of the others you know who have taken the risk of lending Jesus an idle asset and you’ll get the same story.  Life has never been the same.


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