BIG THANKS for Supporting Mardi Bras RVA!!

UPDATE – 3/9/2015

So. You WERE invited to come and share in the presentation of the award presented by 2 City Council Members – Chris Hilbert and Ellen Robertson. And I totally got the date wrong. Totally my mistake. Totally an opportunity to keep me humble. Here is a picture my friend Valena Dixon took of them presenting the award…. and none of us were there. I am sad. I’m somewhat embarrassed. I’m beyond grateful to Ellen and Chris (and Lisa!!!!!) for honoring my work in such an awesome way. I apologize to them and the rest of council …and YOU… for getting it wrong.  I really appreciate those who were planning to come. As soon as I get the certificate, I will post a picture for all to see! Because like I said below – YOU made this happen. I just connected you to the need.  

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Ellen Robertson and Chris Hilbert at City Council (photo cred: Valena Dixon)


WOW!!! I am still blown away by how you all have given so abundantly and extravagantly! We received “party favors” (as Louis began to call them!) from Dinwiddie, Chesterfield, Hanover, Henrico, Goochland, Richmond City, Petersburg, and even Norfolk!!! This was true regional cooperation! And we are grateful. Praise God for your generosity!

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 BEFORE!

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DURING!

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AFTER (plus more later!!!)


YOU ARE WERE INVITED!!!  

Last week,we received a call sharing that I (Marti) will be recognized by Richmond City Council for my work in the city; and I want YOU there, too! If you had any part in Mardi Bras RVA, please come! YOU made this happen! I just connected you to the need… and YOU made it happen!!

Here are the details:

DATE:  Monday, March 16th 9th at 6pm  Note:  Recognitions happen at the beginning of the meeting, so you won’t have to stay long! And I will have a few minutes to share! Pray for me!

LOCATION:  City Council Chambers on the 2nd floor of City Hall located at 900 E Broad St, RVA 23219


Because you gave, we have been able to assist women in transition, women who are homeless, women who have low or restricted income!  You gave to women through the following ministries, agencies, non-profits and churches.  Although we are no longer accepting donations and are working to empty the PODS, you can contribute directly to one or more of these organizations! True change and transformation happens through relationships! Please build relationships with one or more of these groups!  I encourage you to get connected and stay connected.

What I learned….

In addition to giving to many women, I am THRILLED that so many diverse people from various parts of Metro RVA were connected. God wants us to take our gifts and use them to HIS glory. For me, that’s taking my gift of hospitality and love of fellowship, my gift of connectedness and love for people, and my gifts of arranging and believing to help unleash YOU around a common cause. Thank YOU for saying YES!  My cup continues to overflow as I share your YES with the direct service providers (in between all these snowstorms!) One more week to unload the PODS! Pray it doesn’t snow…again.

Here are a few pictures of the 2 gatherings… Enjoy!


Masks, Beads, Kids and Supplies

One week from today, and we started preparing yesterday! I am grateful for the neighborhood kiddos who came to help… and play just a little. I love these kids! For more information about Mardi Bras RVA check out… Mardi Bras RVA Blog Post or Mardi Bras – Update

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Neighborhood Kiddos Help with Mardi Bras RVA

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SMILE ! ! ! I love these kids!

Mardi Bras RVA supplies are coming in every day! Keep 'em coming!

Mardi Bras RVA supplies are coming in every day! Keep ‘em coming!


Mardi Bras RVA (and surrounding areas, too!)

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REVISED FEBRUARY 15 at 11pm

Due to the pending snowstorm, we are postponing Mardi Bras RVA for one week! We are doing our best to contact everyone and make new arrangements with our partners and volunteers. Please take advantage of this extra week to tell more friends and collect more products! Thanks a million! Also – help us by spreading the news and sharing this post >>  MARDI BRAS RVA >> PLAN B

For updates, you can…

  • subscribe to this site by providing your email on the right column, 
  • “like” our Facebook page at >> INTO THE NEIGHBORHOOD FB PAGE, and/or
  • check back often.

NEW DATES:

Monday, February 23rd from 5-8p

Tuesday, February 24th from 10a-12n

Stay safe and warm!  Remember our friends who are homeless during this frigid, snowy weather.

I want to send a huge THANK YOU!!! for all of you! The phone calls, texts, emails, etc. Your support is overwhelming and humbling. Your kind words have been so encouraging and life-giving. But, I can’t stress enough – this isn’t about me! This is about the call follow Jesus’s top greatest commandments – Love God. Love Neighbor.  And I am grateful for all of you who are choosing to love and serve in a practical, and EXTRAVAGANTLY and GENEROUS way. You rock!


Revised February 11, 2015 Thankful to Karla Redditte – NBC 12 for doing a segment on Mardi Bras RVA – you can watch the clip here >> NBC12 Interview and Video. Update on needs:  I spent the morning at the Richmond City Justice Center – RCJC (aka the city jail) and learned that a good number of folks who stay there have once been or will be homeless within a year of getting out. That’s due to LOTS of reasons. Let’s not be judgmental about that. They have needs too… but their needs are special.  We are called to serve and love the imprisoned.  Let’s love them well. Please take note: WHITE ONLY bras and underwear.  NO UNDERWIRE in the bras. Plus, they too need pads, tampons, etc. They do get some, but not as many as they really need. There are around 100 women in the RCJC right now (out of 1100 residents).  Let’s see what we can do to support these ladies. We are working on other opportunities where we can serve there. Stay tuned!


Revised February 5th: Thankful for new partners along with folks who are catering and baking! Big news coming next week! Stay Tuned!


REVISED JANUARY 28th: Based on what I am hearing and already receiving in deliveries…I know.. exciting, right??? Deliveries already!!! You all rock!!! NEED MORE PADS!! – both menstrual and incontinence pads and adult diapers. NEED LESS TAMPONS!! We have plenty coming in!  NEED NEW UNDERWEAR MORE THAN NEW BRAS!  And we really prefer NEW!


REVISED JANUARY 26: INFORMATION HAS BEEN UPDATED TO BETTER REFLECT THE NEEDS OF THE COMMUNITY. PLEASE READ PURCHASING TIPS BELOW! WE ALSO ARE ADDING NEW RECIPIENTS OF THE PRODUCTS! THANKS TO THOSE YOU ARE ASSISTING WITH COLLECTIONS! I’VE HEARD OF HAIR SALONS, BANKS, CHURCHES, BIBLE STUDIES AND SMALL GROUPS, OFFICES, AND MORE! YOU GUYS ARE AH-MAZING! I’M OVERWHELMED!   FLYER TO POST IN YOUR PLACE OF WORK, CHURCH, ETC. >>    Be sure to include your information on the bottom if you are collecting for others. THANKS!  MARTI


How many pair of underwear do you have in your drawer right now? How many bras? When ‘that time of the month’ comes, do you wonder where you will obtain your supplies of pads or tampons? Sorry – if you are a guy and reading this, I dare you to ask your wife, daughter, sister, girlfriend, or mother these questions. I recently talked with a few women who used to be homeless and spent a lot of time on the street. They wondered about this every day… and every month. Supplies are NOT readily available for women who are homeless or on a low or restricted income. No – food stamps and other resources do NOT cover feminine protection. Then, I read this article…For Homeless Women, Getting Their Period Is One Of The Most Difficult Challenges which confirmed what I thought. It’s a problem that can be easily solved and we decided to do something about it.  So, here’s the deal. We are going to collect pads, tampons, new bras, new underwear and incontinence pads for women who are homeless or on low/restricted income! Keep reading! MARDI GRAS, where women bare their breasts for beads in New Orleans, is right around the corner. Instead of revealing our breasts, we are going to work at covering some! Mardi Bras 2015 Picture MARDI BRAS, where we are hosting 2 Open Houses to collect NEW bras, NEW underwear, pads, tampons, poise pads for homeless and low income families. It was also suggested to get menstrual cups, too, although we don’t need many of those! 2 OPEN HOUSE GATHERINGS: We are hosting 2 gatherings. This is a time for diverse people to come together to solve a common problem! Everyone is welcome to attend!

Monday Night        2/16       5-8pm              2/24    5-8pm

Tuesday Morning   2/17      10a-12noon     2/25   10a-12noon

LOCATION:

Miss Marti’s House, an urban ministry of Into The Neighborhood, Inc.                                        2101 Barton Avenue; Richmond, VA 23222

If you are on Facebook, join the FB Group >> https://www.facebook.com/groups/MardiBrasRVA/ If you can attend, please RSVP to the gathering you can attend here:

~ Monday Night, 2/16            5-8pm   FB Invite – https://www.facebook.com/events/752391614844746/

~ Tuesday Morning, 2/17      10a-12noon  FB Invite - https://www.facebook.com/events/300731026804393

If you able to bring a snack to share, that would be greatly appreciated, too! PURCHASING TIPS: We are collecting:

  • Menstrual Pads and some tampons. Pads are needed more than tampons, please.
  • Incontinence Pads and adult diapers.
  • NEW Bras – of ALL sizes! Please remember larger sizes, too.
  • NEW Women’s underwear – of ALL sizes! Please remember larger sizes, too.

I’ve learned the following from talking to some of our resources and friends!

  • UPDATE:  After speaking to partner organizations, we learned that there is a need for PADS of all kinds – for mentstruation and incontinence, as well as adult diapers!
  • Remember larger sized women for bras and undies! We need more of them than the smaller sizes!!!
  • Without going into a lot of details, menstrual cups are not that successful for homeless women in the RVA area (because there are not many sanitary places for them to be used and it becomes dangerous/unclean.) Although many of the prostitutes can still use them because they can still conduct business. We just won’t need a lot of them.
  • Check back often! We will update as we learn more! More to come!

CONTRIBUTIONS: If you want to make a contribution, make your check to Into The Neighborhood and include a note that says Mardi Bras RVA, and we will use the funds to provide the necessary products. Mail it to:

Into The Neighborhood  2101 Barton Ave Richmond, VA 23222


We are thankful for these gifts and contributions:  A real answer to prayer!!!

GFC Catering for catering both gatherings.

The Cake Lady - for supplying beautiful cakes for both gatherings!


OTHER NEEDS:

  • Tell your friends, clubs, small groups, pastors, hair salons, etc.
  • People who can help pack and deliver to supporting organizations.

ORGANIZATIONS WE ARE SUPPORTING: Check back often because we will update the list!

SUPPORTING ORGANIZATIONS INFORMATION: If you know of a place that could use these items, give them a call and let us know what they need, so that we can collect and distribute them. Send the following information to missmartishouse[at]me[dot]com.

  • Organization Name
  • Contact Name, Number, Email
  • Women they support and how they support them.
  • Supplies Needed
  • Are you willing to attend one of the gatherings to share about the plight of women who are homeless in the Metro RVA area?

Thanks! Look forward to seeing you all!


Homeless and Day Warming and Overflow Shelter Sites

It’s the time of year when our friends who sleep outside need a warm place to lay their heads. Please note the following press release that came out earlier today and make notes for the future! Sorry that I didn’t read and post it sooner. PLEASE NOTE IN BOLD AND ITALICS BELOW… In order to sleep in the Cold Weather Overflow Shelter, you must have a referral. Note: There are NO services (that I know of…) on the weekends! Sigh.

City’s Day Warming Site Open ~~~ Saturday, December 13 Through Monday, December 15

The City’s Cold Weather Day Warming site will open on Saturday, December 13, Sunday, December 14, and Monday, December 15 from 6:30 a.m. to noon.

LOCATION:

  • Saturday and Monday – shelter guests should enter through the doors at 9th and Clay streets, closest to the court building.
  • Sunday – City’s Department of Social Services Marshall Plaza location, 900 East Marshall Street.

 City’s Cold Weather Overflow Shelter (overnight) Open ~~~  December 12 through December 14 

The City’s Cold Weather Overflow Shelter will open tonight, December 12, Saturday, December 13 and Sunday, December 14 as overnight temperatures are forecast to remain at or below 40 degrees during this period.

The overflow shelter is located in the City’s Public Safety Building at 505 North 9th Street. The shelter entrance is the second entrance on the 9th Street side of the building closest to Leigh Street. The shelter opens at 7 p.m. and closes the following morning at 6 a.m. Shelter registration will be held from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Food will not be provided and pets are not allowed.

Residents in need of overnight shelter are asked to report to Commonwealth Catholic Charities Homeless Point of Entry by 5 p.m. today for a comprehensive intake and referral to the appropriate shelter. Commonwealth Catholic Charities Homeless Point of Entry is located at 511 West Grace Street. A referral to the Cold Weather Overflow Shelter will be provided to individuals who are not eligible for an existing shelter or if all available beds have been filled.

Individuals seeking access to the Overflow Shelter must have a referral.

Other Cold Weather Notes:

The City’s Department of Social Services provides emergency assistance with gas and electric disconnection notices for residents who qualify. Residents may also call the Fuel Line at (804) 646-7046.

The elderly or residents with disabilities should contact Senior Connections for assistance at (804) 343-3000, Monday through Friday; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.


I’m Baaaack!

It’s been while since I have written. Living life sometimes just gets in the way of writing. And writing sometimes gets in the way of living life. Life won out over writing. Many of you have asked why I’ve been radio silent lately. This will give you some insight into what we have been up to and why it’s been a bit quiet.  So…here’s what’s been happening since I really spent some time putting words to paper.

I’m overwhelmed by the support of our ministry since we gathered together for Jen Hatmaker in mid-August. She was a true delight to spend time with and was a welcomed guest in our home. Thanks to all of you who have reached out and shared your experiences, thots and life changes since we heard from Jen, as well as our other friends…

We are so thankful for the planning team and all the volunteers who supported the effort! What a blessing!

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Just as we were recovering from the weekend, Louis’s mom had several significant health issues that basically forced us to move her to Richmond (RVA) from Charlotte, NC. We are so grateful for her church family that have helped out over the years, but especially with her transition to RVA. 3 months later, we are attempting to settle into a rhythm again. Life hasn’t been easy for Mama Louise (Mama L, for short). In 3 months, she’s had a broken elbow, countless doctor’s appointments, 2 back surgeries with a total of 10 days in the hospital, multiple moves, and significant number of other changes including multiple diagnoses. We are soo glad that she was open to moving here where we can be closer to her and help provide for her care. I’m so grateful for the many friends (here and in Charlotte) who have come along side us as we continued to ‘do life’ in Southern Barton Heights and love on Mama L. I don’t know what we would have done without them. Seriously.

So, in a life where we intentionally live ‘on mission’ in our community, often times our family becomes our “mission”….our priority. This was much like last year (2013), when Louis had 3 joint replacements and I had an emergency gall bladder removal. We had to slow down significantly. Although it can be a difficult time for Mama L and for us, it is a blessing to serve her and those who take such good care of her.

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Mama L, Louis and his sister, Angela, visiting from Lake Tahoe

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Louis and Mama L

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Dear friend, Noelle (fancy hair stylist!), Me and Mama L after she got a hair cut and style.

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Mama L chillin’ with Louis and me as I finished a jig saw puzzle in her apartment.

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Our friend, Cherie, stopped by sporting our ITN T-Shirt!!! (Nice Photo Bomb!)

Halloween, as always, is an OUTRAGEOUS time at Miss Marti’s House. We are grateful for our friends and neighbors who came by. We also are sorry we didn’t get many pictures, though.
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We were thrilled to partner with Endorphin Fitness, who came out to hold a Bike Repair Clinic. We fixed up over 20 bikes in just 2 short hours. Not only that, we set up a circuit to got exercising as well. What a gift to the community! Truly. So thankful for our friends from Hope Church who continue to join us in a variety of ways!

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We celebrated Louis’s 24 Years of Ministry as an Ordained Minster of the Gospel with food and fellowship with a side of prayer around the fire pit. We welcomed friends and stories from the past and present! Thanks to the many friends who showed up and made this possible! Mama L even made it to the celebration!

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On Tuesdays at 4pm, we now host a kids club called H.I.S. Kids at Miss Marti’s House.

H = Hope    Where we share the Hope in Jesus Christ.

I = Inspire   Where we Inspire and Encourage the Kids in all they do – at home, at school in the present and the future.

S = Serve    Where we look for opportunities to Serve our neighbors.

At our first meeting, they made a list of rules to live by…

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And, we continue to meet together as a micro-expression of a missional church  – Life Transformation Church – every Tuesday evening…as we fellowship together, study God’s Word together, pray together, and do life together. I love this group of friends and spiritual family!

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Recently, new friends donated a minivan to our ministry! This is AWESOME news! It needs a little basic maintenance (a front end alignment and 2 new tires pretty soon), insurance, and other basic items before we can officially use it. But, we are thrilled to have an opportunity to provide tangible services to the community in the near future. We are calling this ministry – “Holy Rollers”, where we will be able to provide transportation to an affordable grocery store on a regular basis, doctors’ appointments, and jobs! We are in the very early stages of developing the plan with our community, and we are SUPER EXCITED!!!  More to come!IMG_1218

We have some upcoming community building times coming up. Feel free to join us!

**Tuesday, 12/2 6p
Glorious Christmas Nights Christmas Program at WEAG (Limited tickets available and are required to attend)

**Wednesday, 12/17 evening
Christmas Caroling with Restoration Church Youth

**Saturday, 12/20 10a-12noon
Happy Birthday, Jesus Christmas Party for Children of ALL ages!

**Thursday, 1/1/2015 10a-2p
Annual New Years Day Open House and Pancake Brunch

Thanks for your continued support and partnership! We are full of THANKS for your GIVING! Your gifts and donations help us with these and other upcoming ministries we have planned in 2015!


Halloween Annual Front Yard Party – 2014

Halloween 2014


The harvest is plentiful…5 Things I Learned Planting My First Garden

Living a life of mission can be really rewarding some days.  But, many are just plain TOUGH! A constant struggle between the microwave, instantaneous society we live in, and the sometimes difficult, almost ALWAYS lengthy process of going deep and building relationships. Living a life of mission is to BE the church and DO the Bible. It’s not a drive-by, hit-and-run way of life. As a matter of fact, it is a way of life, not a one-time event or project. That’s what makes it so hard….and that’s what makes it so rewarding at the same time. With my new ‘eyes’, I can’t just go home and not see the challenges every. single. moment. of. every. single. day.  On days where it’s more challenging than most, it’s a matter of pausing from my ‘Martha’ activities and spending time going deep in my relationship with Jesus….it’s time to ‘Mary’.

This morning has been a ‘Mary Morning’. For reasons left untold, the last 24 hours have been tough – mentally and emotionally – for me. My ‘Mary Morning’ consisted of…

  • reading God’s Word
  • sitting quietly
  • cooking
  • a few emails/texts with friends encouraging and praying
  • gardening

Gardening…I recently learned that I really love gardening.  I knew NOTHING about it. Yet, God has revealed a lot to me through this gardening process…and especially this morning when I was playing in my veggie garden.

When planting a garden…

1.  It’s important to do a little research and take time to prepare. Friends would say – just throw it in the ground and see what happens….you can always dig it up, transplant it, throw it away when it dies. If you know me well enough, you would know that I’m not that person. I’m more thoughtful…doing research (ad nauseam)… trying to figure out the best way to do it…asking questions.  Total fear of failure! Louis did research on the best way and size to build the raised beds. H learned what he needed to do before he got started.  Measured 10x before he cut.

  • Living a Life of Mission –
    • Ask God questions like – where are you at work, God? how can I join you in what you are doing? what would you have me do in my community? where is my person of peace?
    • Ask your self questions seeking your motivation. We must first prepare ourselves… Someone once said… You must be a changed agent in order to be an agent of change.  Safety precautions are airplanes state to give yourself oxygen before you help someone else. We must first know who we are and whose we are before we can be sent out by God.
    • Ask the community questions like – If I brought coffee tomorrow, would you be interested in hanging out during soccer practice/ballet class/etc? What are your dreams for your children, community, family, life?  What keeps you up at night? Could you help me with….?

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2.  I actually had put off planting a vegetable garden, because it was something new…and I didn’t know where to start! I didn’t want to screw it up. I was afraid. I had to take a risk and just do it. After doing a little research and asking a few friends questions, Louis built me 2 4×10 beds (yeah…that’s not starting small….).  We threw down some newspaper and some dirt, and planted a few seedlings from Lowe’s. Wasn’t going to even try starting from seeds!

  • Living a Life of Mission –
    • Talk to some friends who are doing it. Ask questions. Watch them. Be willing to share your fear. You will learn they were afraid initially, too!
    • Start small. You don’t have to make it a big production….actually don’t make it big event. Work it into the everyday rhythms of your life…but yet it does require intentionality.  Pray for opportunities to be a blessing to someone because God gave you new eyes to see.

3.  I got a late start at gardening.  Louis and I didn’t plant our garden until the end of May. Friends have been reaping their harvest for weeks. Mine is just coming in. I came close to giving up and just waiting until the fall or even next year. Louis encouraged me by building them anyway…as my birthday gift. It was indeed a labor of love, because carpentry doesn’t come naturally to him.  He’s a plumber, car mechanic, electrician….not a carpenter.

  • Living a Life of Mission –
    • You aren’t meant to do this alone. In Luke 10:1, Jesus sent his disciples out in pairs….2×2 to prepare the way for Jesus to visit. Pray for the other half of your pair.
    • Call in reinforcements. I am grateful for my friends who join me in the journey.
    • It’s never too late to get started. Plant where you are. Plant where you go. Plant in good soil…where God is moving. It doesn’t matter when you start – just start.
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my first tomato… we missed the harvest because we were out of town… :( It’s all about the timing…

4. Things go wrong.  Birds, deer, and bugs eat your potential bounty.  Bees don’t come to pollinate your flowers, so you have to change your approach.  Dogs dig up your plants… or in my case…eat my dirt. (Weird…I know…but Bella loves the rich, ‘meaty’ dirt!)  so you build a fence. Storms and hail  come and beat up your poor little plants. (I’m thankful that we planted late! The hail storm that came earlier wrecked some friends’ gardens.) And then…there’s the dreaded…ugly ‘dog vomit fungus’. Yes…true story…and it was GROSS!  It required tender, loving care..and removal of the fungus and adjusting the soaker hose.

  • Living a Life of Mission –
    • The enemy…Satan…seeks to discourage, kill and destroy. Yes. It is true. Be prepared. Our God is ALL POWERFUL!
    • Timing is everything. Sometimes it’s just not the right time. God’s timing is always right on time.  Trust Him.
    • Turn to the Lord. Trust that the Lord of the Harvest raises up laborers…He draws them near.
    • Christian community is often the fence around your new seedlings. Build a fence of support and community to protect your upcoming fence. Sunday morning church service isn’t enough. It needs to be closer, more intimate discipleship…tending, sowing truth, etc.

      Fungus Among-us

      Fungus Among-us

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The creative fence Louis built to keep Bella out. Sunflowers and strawberries (5/30)

5. It takes time.  Plants take time to grow…some grow faster than others. There were a few moments I just wanted to give up…and let the beds go to weed. Some start slow and then take off like crazy. Some are weaker than others..and aren’t producing anything at all…and are almost dead.  No 2 plants are the same.  2 days ago I had a cucumber that was about 5 inches long. Today…it was about 9 inches, and I am eating it!

  • Living a Life of Mission –
    • Surround yourself with support and encouragement, too. You are not meant to be a lone ranger.
    • Tend to the garden…and to the gardener. Go to the Master Gardener who will tend to you.
    • Look for the little wins. Where God is at work.
    • Praise God in the difficult challenging times….and for the fruit of your labor!

A few scriptures that often encourage me…

Galations 6:9      Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Romans 5:3         Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings,because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. 
And Lastly…
Luke 10:2            Jesus told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” 

Time to get busy… Want to join the conversation on living on mission?

Check out this opportunity!

click the link below…

Living On Mission

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Enjoying the first fruits of our labor


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