Louis and I undoubtedly have THE. BEST. wrap-around front porch ever. Best view of the best neighborhood. EVER. Now that the weather has warmed up, we will find ourselves out there every chance we can get. We refer to it as our front porch ministry. Since we live at an intersection with quite a bit of foot traffic, we get to meet a ton of our neighbors just by sitting outside chillin’ with a drink in hand greeting our friends and neighbors. Sometimes we have music…and Louis and I have been known to dance as well. :) We have created a ton of a unforgettable memories of on that porch as well.
We also have the happiest, best dogs ever. Bella and Wesley love the porch just as much as we do, and we LOVE to have them with us. Wesley, the nearly 15 year old black lab, is not our worry. Bella, the 8-9 year old almost chocolate lab, might as well be 2. With all the feral cats around, she will bound off the porch before you know it, which doesn’t make for a very peaceful night when we are constantly saying…No, Bella. And we find ourselves a bit more stressed than we need to be.
So, here’s the challenge. Note in the pictures below the set up of our porch. We need a creative, tasteful, inexpensive, simple, portable, easy-to-store, way to contain the dogs on the porch while we are out there. You might say…simple! Get a leash. Well…not so simple. Bella will chew through it in about 10 seconds flat – which won’t end up being very inexpensive after we replace it over and over again.
So, any ideas???
Well, for the 2nd year in a row, Louis isn’t behind the pulpit of a church on Easter Sunday. And for the 2nd year in a row, we won’t be doing church like most Christians. Last year, we held a pancake brunch at the house for folks who aren’t usually in a church. You can read about our 2012 Easter (with pictures!!!) here > Easter – Acts 2 Style.
This year, we were prayerfully searching for a place to “Do the Bible” and “Be the Church” this Easter Weekend. Today, we had our annual Easter Egg Hunt for our community. (See here > Candy, Bunny and Eggs…Oh My!) Tomorrow morning…Easter Morning, Louis and I will NOT be sporting our Sunday Best. But, we will be giving our best while on God’s mission with some of RVA’s ‘Urban Campers’ (our friend Nelson’s new name for the Homeless)!
Thanks for the connection to Alpha and Omega, Nelson! Can’t wait to meet and serve Pastor Carolyn and some of your friends!
My Prayer for This Easter
Lord, while we remember and rejoice and while we renew our faith and hope in the resurrection of Jesus Christ – the ultimate reconciler, I pray that Louis and I will be reconciled to our new friends….these Urban Campers. I confess and repent that I have not always known how to love them. Teach me how to love. Show me. Change the way I see those who camp in our cities. May I love as You love. May I see as You see. Lord, I long to see Your miraculous healing and changes in our beloved city. Begin in me. Renew my Spirit, so that I may serve others in grace and mercy. In Jesus Name. Amen.
What a FUN morning in Southern Barton Heights! After we postponed the Easter Party due to the early spring snowstorm last Sunday, today was a beautiful day for a community Easter Egg Hunt!!! I am so grateful to our friends and families who donated candy and prizes! And to our friends who helped stuff a gazillion eggs with candy and other goodies, who ensured that the Easter Bunny arrived safe and sound , who took pictures and “laid” eggs!
After playing a game and the Easter Egg Hunt, Louis told the story of the last few days of Jesus’s life (from Palm Sunday through the Empty Tomb) through the use of Resurrection Eggs. The kids were super attentive and helped Louis tell the story.
All of this was followed by yummy cupcakes and lemonade! Louis and I so enjoyed meeting our neighbors and seeing old friends! What a blast!!
It’s not just fun and games at this time of year, because it’s not about the bunny! Yesterday we remembered the Cross. Tomorrow, we remember the Empty Tomb. Today and for days to come, we live knowing that because of the Cross and the Empty Tomb, we are reconciled to our Maker after sin separated us. That’s the story! That’s worth remembering!
PS – Hope kids…we missed you and can’t wait for you to come hang out again!
(remaining photo creds: Miranda Pheifer)
Actually….the party is tomorrow, Wednesday ~ 10/31, but I won’t get the flyers to the kids until tomorrow. All are welcome! Come on by! We love to meet our neighbors and see our friends.
What do you do for Halloween? Louis and I usually throw a party in the front yard from about 5-8pm, and we are hoping to do the same thing this Wednesday. After being cooped up with Sandy blowing through (literally), it will be good to be outside, hanging with the neighbors, kids and friends. If you aren’t busy, come on by! We will be here! Only have a few more things to do now that I think the weather is going to work with us! It’s gonna be a blast!
_x_ cornhole game
__ apple cider
__ halloween cupcakes – Sam’s club
__ make and handout invites
__ make and post front yard sign
__ Sam’s Club trip
For pictures of last year’s party check out this link: Halloween 2011.
This past summer, the Youth of Hope Church joined me in holding a backyard Vacation Bible School called Camp Splash. You can read more about that here > Backyard Camp, and here > Rain, Rain, and here > 60,000 Words and lastly, here > Clouds, Rain, Sunshine!
The youth are now returning each month to maintain relationships with the neighborhood kids. We are calling it “Hope for Kids”, which will be the 4th Sunday of each month here at Miss Marti’s House. (Although, look for different news for Halloween!!!)
I am thankful to the Youth of Hope Church for continuing to dedicate time to our community! What an awesome ministry! There are so many other things these youth could be doing, but they are choosing to sacrifice their time to come here. Love it!
I am honored that Austin Stone Community Church, located in Austin, Texas chose to tell my God-story. Louis and I were at the Verge Conference this past Spring, and they had an opportunity to tell your story. I had no intentions of telling mine, until April Salvant – friend and missionary to Haiti – made me do it by signing me up! I was actually the very last person they interviewed! And….then to hear that my story was one of the first to be released was a huge surprise! Praise God for the work He has done, is doing and will continue to do in my heart and mind, and in the community and city that I love! I am honored to be His servant and remain vigilant and steadfast in my attempts to be obedient. To check it out…click the picture below. It should take you there! In addition….you can hear April’s story as well….about how God took them on quite an adventure…leading them to now live in Haiti, working with New Hope Haiti Mission. Check it out here > April’s God Story
Thanks to all our friends and our churches who continue to pray for and love us! I know we have been absent from the blogosphere for a while, but will write soon on our adventures! Peace. To God be the glory!
God continues to amaze me! He works in such awesome ways! When I moved into Southern Barton Heights, just a ½ mile from Gilpin Court seven years ago, I had no idea what He had in store. He continues to WOW me, and Hope Church is now a part of my ongoing story.
Seven years ago, I had no idea what I was doing….just trying to learn how to love my neighbors, who were different from me in many ways. Seven years ago, I felt all alone in this work. Since my move, there have been some difficult times, and some really exciting, wonderful times. The lonely days are more few and far between than they were back then. And, today, Louis and I feel even less alone than we did 4 months ago.
Why? It was over 4 months ago when I learned about Camp Splash, hosted by Hope Church. Hope Church made the conscious decision to take VBS to the streets. Instead of taking a ‘come and see’ approach, inviting the community to the church building, Hope took a ‘go and tell’ approach. Camp Splash is a backyard weeklong Bible Camp with water games (the kids’ favorite part!!!), crafts, Bible lesson, and a snack (a light dinner in our case).
So…how did we get hooked up with Hope Church? My mom received an online newsletter from Hope Church when Camp Splash was first announced…asking the congregation to consider hosting Camp Splash in their backyard. We prayed about it, considering an email asking if Hope would be willing to partner with us – someone pretty unknown to them. Well, we weren’t completely unknown….Louis had taken some classes with Hope’s Senior Pastor, David. Then, I thought to myself, “Why not? What’s the worst that could happen? That they would say ‘No.”? I sent the email. Less than a week later, I received an email from Anne stating that they had been praying for an opportunity to serve the inner-city. This was an answer to our prayer…and Hope’s.
Over the next four months, Anne and I got together to talk and pray about what that might look like, who in the church would be interested, when we would host it, etc. I received a copy of the program, plus the host/family package. I got to check out a camp held on a very hot day in the West End, just to get a feel for the rhythm. And just 2 weeks before the camp, Maddie, a few of the Hope Church youth, and I got together to get to know one another and brainstorm how we would roll. On another visit, the girls helped to flyer the community. Then, we prayed. I had NO idea how many local youth would come….whether it was 5 or 15.
Over the 5 days of Camp Splash, the love of Jesus – through Word and deed – was shared with over 30 Northside children. The week was amazing! Sometimes kids can be challenging, but they were terrific this week. One leader, Gregory, had 2 occasions to help mediate in what could have been a physical fight instead of lots of hurtful words being exchanged. Just this morning, Louis and I chatted with one girl who quoted great advice and thoughts that Gregory had shared during one of those times just last night. Praise God for providing Louis, Gregory and Robert wisdom to handle the difficult situations with grace, love and firmness.
And what giving friends we have! Since we hosted Camp Splash from 5:30-7:30pm, we also served the kids a simple, light dinner provided by some GENEROUS friends! They were such a huge hit and greatly appreciated! Thank you!!!!
Friday night at the closing community cookout, we welcomed many parents and neighbors, as well. The parents of our youth and college age students were also excited to join in the work by attending the Friday night community cookout. And…can I just say WOW! Spencer Simmons totally rocked! Spencer is an up-and-coming artist who happened to be in Richmond last night. (check her out at www.spencersimmonsmusic.com) Despite the rain that challenged us, she eventually got to plug in when the clouds rolled away and the sun came out. Not only did she honor us with her God-given talent, but she also shared the mic with our neighbors for an impromptu Open Mic Night. We had at least 6 churches who worked together to help us set up and tear down!
This cookout felt a little like God’s kingdom..here on earth, as we joined together in our differences – race, church, worship style, socio-economic status, geography, denomination, education, cultures, etc. to worship our God by loving our neighbor and proclaiming His name and His name alone.
I pray that God takes the love shared through words and deeds and multiplies them 10-fold. May this be a week that changed Southern Barton Heights and its children. May the hearts of those from Hope Church and everyone involved continue to be moved to love and serve their neighbors in the inner-city of RVA. God…bring your kingdom here in Richmond…in Southern Barton Heights as it is in heaven. Make it so, Lord. Make it so.
Take a peek into the last day of Camp Splash and the Community Cookout….
Just a quick sneak peak at tonight’s activities! It was definitely interesting. Although I know we need the rain pretty badly, we prayed that the rain would hold off…..
But, the rain came….and this is what it looks like when it rains….
Then… the clouds went away and the SUNSHINE came out! WOO HOO!!!! I know I should say something spiritual here, but I just don’t have the energy! But, what I do know is…God is really good…all. the. time!
What a super night of great fun…and a night of learning about just how loud it can get in our house….and I can say I appreciate the sunshine today more than most! :) Again…super thanks to new and old-time friends from Hope Church (BIG TIME!!!), Movement Church, Cornerstone Christian Church, Parham Road Baptist, Bethesda House Ministries, New Hanover Pres, Tuckahoe Pres, Spencer Simmons (check out this talented musician at www.spencersimmonsmusic.com) and soooo many more who helped out this week and tonight in some way! I always hesitate to list groups or people because I know I will forget some one….forgive me if I did!!!) More pics to come!
Thanks to community for coming out….and blessing us!
They say that a picture is worth a 1000 words. Well, here are 60,000 words to describe Day 3 of Camp Splash! So far, a total of 26 youth have experienced the love of Jesus through the Hope Church leaders, friends (old and new) who made dinners, friends who came to help, and also through those of you who we know are praying!! Thanks! Now…we are praying about the future of this group of young people who need ongoing discipleship…not to mention fun!
To see Day 1 – Check out this link > Backyard Camp Makes a Splash
To see Day 2 – Check out this link > Rain, Rain Go Away