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)
for cold hard cash $$$…
Our neighborhood Godson is willing to work!
He might dress funny while he’s doing it, too!
Call if you would like to hire him!
…why we postponed the
Easter Egg Hunt on Palm Sunday…
I have lived in the Northside, specifically Southern Barton Heights, for going on 8 years. Many people over the decades and recent months and years have prayed and believed that the Brookland Park Boulevard corridor can be revitalized. There have been several attempts to do so. We (and by we…I mean the community!) are back at it again…fully believing the time is now. Now, it’s time to gather the larger Northside community and then, listen to the answers to questions like…What do we want from this theatre and corridor? What will they support and build? What else would they like to see along Brookland Park Boulevard.
Hope you can come to the first of 3 community forums facilitated by the Storefront for Community Design. We want to hear all the voices – old and young, long-time residents and new residents, etc. All are welcome!
We look forward to seeing you…and bring a neighbor!
Tuesday, November 27th
6-8pmNorthminster Church Contemporary Worship Center 3121 Moss Side Ave, RVA 23222
Remember to RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or 804.649.4935.
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!
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….
Day 2 of Camp Splash presented some challenges Tuesday. It’s called thunderstorms! So, we improvised and just brought it all inside…minus the water games! Man, those Hope Church leaders totally rocked it!!! So spontaneous! So flexible! SOOOO patient! So awesome! So blessed by friends packing dinners….sandwiches, chips, pizza roll-ups, cookies, fruit, water bottles!
GREAT TIP: Get the big 24oz water bottles and use a sharpie to mark each bottle with a name. Then, refill it as needed throughout the days/week ahead. Worked out perfect!
Thankful that sunshine is on the way!!! I’m a day behind in posting…but super pictures from Wednesday are on their way tomorrow!
Day 1 of Camp Splash and the Hope Church Leadership Team! They totally rock! Most churches hold VBS at the church. Hope Church takes VBS to the neighborhoods. I’m grateful that they were willing to partner with us this year to bring Camp Splash to SBH. Who knows? Next year…we could have them peppered throughout the Northside and the West End! :)
Yesterday, Gregory and Mac ran around the ‘hood with Brian to snag kids to attend..bringing back some new friends for a grand total to 16 neighborhood kids. Although a quick storm prevented us from wrapping up the night with water games, everyone promised to come back again today! Much thanks to Hope Church and other friends who are prepping light dinners for the kids! What a blessing to work together! And…here comes the thunder and the wind for today’s storm! Glad it’s coming early. I still have faith that we will proceed! (Rain, Rain, Go Away….)
I am so blessed to be part of this fun! I’m the luckiest girl! Thanks God!