Last week we came up with the idea that we would do some drive-by joy instead of the drive-by shootings that have happened in our community quite a bit lately. You can read about that adventure and more here >> Easter Fun! Thanks for responding!!! You totally answered our plea! Exceeded our expectations! And WOW…are we sooo grateful! Thank you for your generous investment in our ministry and lives!!! You are the BEST friends EVER!
The Easter Bunny and a few neighborhood kids, and I toured the Northside yesterday afternoon…Southern Barton Heights, the Southern Tip of Highland Park, Brookland Park Boulevard, and parts of Battery Park. We greeted people with “Happy Easter!” while giving out candy and smiles to all we saw along the way. We even caused a small traffic jam a couple of times too. OOPS! What a blast!!!
We were greeted with joy, laughter, and smiles. Photos were taken. Fun was had. Candy given out and eaten. We stopped to treat a guy who was walking down Dove Street. He was filled with joy unspeakable. I wish I had gotten his name…knew who he was. But, we gave him joy in the form of candy, and he said “One good turn deserves another. Let me see what I might have to give you.” He presented us with a selection of rings to choose from. These are the ones we chose. His parting words were… “God bless you. Pay it forward!” And…we are. God bless you, too….new friend. God bless you, too.
Ya know, as I pause to look at the picture… to really reflect on my life. As I reflect on this picture…of one White/Caucasian hand among 3 Black/AfricanAmerican hands. I think about all the hate that’s out there. A lot of fear. But, as we approach Easter in another week, I am really reflecting on the cross. Jesus chose to LOVE when he chose to relocate from heaven to earth. He chose love when He died on that cross for our sins.
When I reflected on that picture, I realize that I chose my ring well yesterday..because I chose LOVE on my ring, and I want to choose to LOVE in my life. I really want to choose LOVE every minute of every day. Sometimes, it’s so much easier to hate….with my words, my thoughts and my actions. But, one that I know is that LOVE is a choice. And I want to choose LOVE at all times.
John 3:16-17 (NLT)
16 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.
Side note: Let us know if you want to join us on one of our drive-bys! Happy to have the company!
Police Chief Tarasovic & Metro Richmond Faith Leaders Partnership
Faith Leaders Walk in Gilpin Court
Tuesday, March 11, 2014 @ 3:00 P.M.
Richmond Police Faith Leaders Partnership takes its positive message of prayer and empowerment to public housing communities. To date, they have gone to Mosby Court, Wittcomb Court and Hillside Court. Following these walks, there have been noticeable decreases in major crimes and violent crimes. Thank the Lord!
As you know, Louis and I live just a short ½ mile north of Gilpin Court. Gilpin Court, Metro RVA’s lowest income census tract, is an infamous community plagued with crimes – murders, shootings, assaults, drugs and more. Some would ask “Can anything good come from Gilpin Court?” However, I have read that same sentiment about someone else I know and love – Jesus. In John 1:46 Nathaniel asks – “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Only Jesus of Nazareth!
I believe a lot of good can come out of Gilpin! Good is already in Gilpin because God is already there! So, join us in what God is already doing in Gilpin by encouraging and praying with and for the people of Gilpin Court.
We believe in the power of prayer to transform communities and cities!
At 3pm on Tuesday, March 11th, we will meet at the Calhoun Center at 436 Calhoun Street. If you plan to attend, bring a guest with you! And remember to wear comfortable shoes and a smile! Also, remember to RSVP to Sgt. Carol Adams at 804.646.4069 or Carol.Adams@richmondgov.com.
If you can’t make it, please join us in praying from where you are! Let’s believe in a transformative time of prayer.
SAVE THE FOLLOWING DATES:
Faith Leaders Walk
April 8, 2014 436 Calhoun St Gilpin Court 3:00 P.M.
Faith Leaders Community Day/Bike Ride
May 17, 2014 436 Calhoun St Gilpin Court 8:00 – 3:00 P.M.
Over the last few years, you have read about Louis, me, Southern Barton Heights and so much more! I recently spoke to a group of 50 women (and a few men, too) at WOVEN’s Hour to Empower Luncheon, and I felt led to share the impact the community has had on me. Here are 11 things I have learned! These are in no particular order, nor is it an all-inclusive list. My learning is ongoing….nonstop….like a firehose.
- I wouldn’t trade my life, my community for any other community in the world. I love my neighbors. I love the way my paradigms are being challenged and shifted. After Frank was shot, he asked me if I was moving. I went on to tell him – that people asked me that same question when the windows were shot out of my car and my car was stolen. “If I had moved, who would be there for you the night you were shot 9 times? All your friends ran. But, God loves you so much!” As a matter of fact, I recently told a friend – after driving south on 76 during 5pm traffic, “I’d rather have that bullet come through my front window every 6 years than deal with this traffic every night!” And…I meant it. Crazy, maybe. Honest though.
- It’s painful, but necessary, to learn the difficulties of the materially poor. Although I didn’t grow up in the ‘rich’ part of the West End, I have been made aware of how my privilege of education, race, and network provides me. The fact that Louis and I have 2 cars, when 60% of the city population has 1 or no car per household.
- I am reminded at any point, that if I have a tire blow out – I have money in savings. Even if I didn’t, I have multiple friends I can call that could loan me money. For many of my neighbors, everyone they know is also in the same situation. Generational poverty is impactful.
- I take for granted that I had a father and mother in my home. Now, my home life was far from perfect. None-the-less, my father was at home and provided for the family. Kids today are growing up in a fatherless society. So, girls and moms don’t even know what to look for and expect. Respect often has never been modeled.
- I have learned that it is not as simple as ‘pull yourselves up by your bootstraps’, but I’ve also learned that handouts create entitlement. (That statement should offend the Republicans and the Democrats equally. LOL)
- I have learned that the church – as an institution and a body of believers, in many cases, have left ‘loving your neighbor’ up to the government. And we can see that that’s not working out well for us right now. The church has outsourced ‘neighbor loving’ to the government and non-profits.
- I have learned that the materially poor inner-city people want the same things I do…that I would dare say most of us want. Safe, affordable shelter. Good schools. Reliable transportation. Steady employment with a living wage. We aren’t all that different. We are all have sinned. All have fallen short. And we all are made in God’s image. And that being materially poor takes great faith!
- As a bit of a type A personality, I have also learned to leave capacity in my schedule. I need to leave time in my calendar to say Yes to God. Louis and I are praying over our calendar more than ever before.
- As a group of women, I can also share that I have learned that having my house clean and in order is no longer a top priority. I would be exhausted if it were! With the sheer number of neighbors we have coming by along with 2 aging labs, Bella and Wesley, it’s impossible.
- I have learned that I don’t have the answers. Nothing is that simple. It’s actually quite complex. It’s vastly important to ask questions and to listen more than we talk. It’s more important to do things WITH the community not FOR or TO the community. Even though it will probably take much longer, it will be much longer lasting and sustainable.
- Prayer has become an integral part of my life. My passionate pursuit of God has become my #1 priority….well, most of the time. I try to anyway.
Why do you live where you live? What have you learned about yourself, God or your community recently?
Louis and I have been walking along side a mom and her children as they try to navigate the complex, arduous processes of the government and non-profit systems for ‘helping’ the homeless. (You may have read some of it in my last post… If you missed it, check this out…. Help Even the Unrighteous Poor.) Some time in the near future, I’m going to write at length all the steps, phone calls, emails, etc. that we have made to city council, DSS, RRHA, Commonwealth Catholic Charities – Central Intake, and countless non-profits. Yet, this family is still living in a hotel with no access to a kitchen. She’s currently on unemployment, because her seasonal position ended….a whopping $100. Since she’s on unemployment her food stamps have decreased to $400….to feed a family consisting of herself plus 4 children under the age of 18. And…remember….food stamps doesn’t cover prepared foods. So, without a kitchen food choices are limited. And, her food stamps haven’t lasted the whole month. Thankfully she does have a car to get to a decent grocery store, but gas is running low – as she now has to transport her children to 3 different schools…not to mention all the running around…trips to DSS, RRHA, Central Intake, etc.
Did you know that shelter space for families has a few week waiting list??? Where are all of those families living???? In this families’ case, they could be with a family member – exposing their children to drugs/alcohol addictions and all that comes with it and worse.
Oh yeah…and RRHA has 3-4 bedroom apartments available. Yet, she can’t have one, because she hasn’t taken the required budgeting class, orientation, etc which aren’t scheduled for weeks.
So, she remains in a hotel…funded by who???? Oh….take a guess. Let’s just say – it’s NOT any of those organizations, although she did get a week from DSS.
And today I learn…Mom has a job orientation tomorrow AND got a phone call for a housing opportunity at the same time. Which do you choose when you can’t do both???
Getting the idea????
Church… what are we doing about that??? what CAN we do?
There’s another family who we are doing life with… food stamps cut to $400 for a family of mom and 5 children under the age of 18….3 of which are growing boys. Car is working, but needs new tags. She can’t get to her job.
How could that be?
Did I mention that the schools are closed? Therefore children who usually receive breakfast and lunch are now hungry…really hungry.
Church… what are we doing about that? what CAN we do?
I’m not just talking about handing out free food, although we could use some for both families! (Let me know if you are interested!) I’m talking about relationships…mentoring…loving. When I read the Bible, I don’t read that Jesus said – “oh…go on down to the Food Bank, DSS, RRHA, RBHA or any other organization.” When I read about the Good Samaritan, this is what I read…
Luke 10:25-37 (NLT)
The Most Important Commandment
25 One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 Jesus replied, “What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?”
27 The man answered, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
28 “Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!”
29 The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Church – who is your neighbor???
Parable of the Good Samaritan
30 Jesus replied with a story: “A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road.
31 “By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. 32 A Temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side.
33 “Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. 34 Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. 35 The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’
36 “Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked.
37 The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.”
Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”
Let’s take a look at that again…
‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
When you look at our current system of taking care of the least of these, does ‘neighbor loving’ look like the way Jesus described it in verses 33 and 34???
33 “Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him.In modern times, what does compassion look like???
34 Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them.
- How can we treat the wounds of abuse, addiction, family fragmentation, limited education, lack of financial skills, job restrictions?
- What is modern day ‘olive oil and wine”? We can’t just bandage them without the treatment.
- So what does it look like to sooth the wounds in today’s time??
34 (cont) Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him.
- OK…so then, he carried him to the inn on his donkey. That means he had to walk! They both couldn’t ride on the donkey. Which really means he WALKED BESIDE HIM while guiding the donkey to a place of healing. An inn. Where he took care of the battered and broken.
- What does it look like to WALK ALONG SIDE of a beat up, tired, frustrated, hopeless family who has no place to lay their head?
So, I am left wondering…where was this Samaritan Man going? Where was he walking when he happened along the beat up man?? How could he afford the time to stop what he was doing? We don’t know that part of the story. But, what we do know….is that he stopped. He put his plans on hold. And he walked alongside a beat up, naked man. He gave of his OWN money and he STAYED in the process with him until he could take of himself.
What would that look like today? For a unsuspecting person or family to walk along side a broken, beat-up, naked, hungry, possibly homeless family until they could take care of themselves? Anyone willing to try?
That is your challenge….by choice because it IS a choice…a conscious decision. What choice will you make?
Our annual front yard Halloween gathering! I think the pictures speak for themselves! We had a blast and had a record number of neighbors and friends – old and new, young and old – who came by! It got so busy we couldn’t keep up with picture-taking and candy-giving.
What a great evening for chillin’ on the front porch with the ones you love! I wouldn’t trade this night for anything.
Last night, I struggled to go to bed and to sleep, but at 2am I finally reached a point where I had pretty much finished processing, crying, fussing at God, crying some more, and much more. Especially as I thought about the many evenings I have spent on our front porch, at our dining room table, playing wii in front of the TV with a house full of youth and friends.
Side note: Louis treated me to hot chocolate chip cookies, since Terence hadn’t been around! Gotta love him for doing that for me!!! (Terence – your cookies are still the best!!!)
If you have no idea what I am talking about, then you missed my last post…check it out here>>> A Night Unlike Most Other Nights.
This morning I woke up well rested and with a fresh perspective. God’s mercies are new…every. single. morning. Instead of feeling defeated, hopeless, mad, and lacking peace, I awakened a new person! I thank God Almighty for hearing and answering your prayers and mine! I felt peace that passes ALL understanding.
I was reminded that we live in a dark, sinful, wretched, fallen world that is in DESPERATE need of a Redeemer and a Savior! We need Jesus. I need Jesus. Jesus is the only answer to what plagues our community. And we are in desperate need of a move of the Holy Spirit…of individual and community transformation.
I woke up with a greater desire and almost a compulsion to share about Jesus and Him crucified. I woke up with courage and boldness to cover our streets, our homes, our children, our community, our city in prayer.
So, tonight…at 6pm, Louis and I held a Community Prayer Service in front of our home – at the corner of Barton and Roberts. We had 30+ people (old friends and new from the community and from other parts of the city) praying bold and outrageous prayers covering our streets, our corners, our homes, our children, our community in the name of Jesus. Not only did we pray for our community, but we also spent time just praising and thanking the Lord for His protection, for His blessing, for HIs goodness and faithfulness, and so much more. We ended our time together singing…
In the name of Jesus, in the name of Jesus
We have the victory.
In the name of Jesus, in the name of Jesus
Satan will have to flee.
Tell me who can stand before us
When we call on this great name
JESUS, JESUS, JESUS, JESUS
We have the victory!
Our community grew tighter tonight, as we prayed and believed together….as folks just lingered and talked afterwards. We also had a time of individual prayer with one man who wants a new start in life. He’s been shot 5 times over the years and struggles with a lot. We are claiming a victory…in the name of Jesus!
At the end of the evening, I learned something new that I did not know before. I learned the name of the victim. Again…another young man I have known since shortly after moving to SBH. One who has been in and out of my house when he was in middle school, but now about 18 or 19. One who was in our wedding nearly 5 years ago. One who I love, but Jesus loves more.
Come, Lord Jesus. Come.
Revised 10.29.2013 11:57pm – Read here for an update on our prayer gathering and more >>> New. Every. Morning.
Revised 10.29.2013 2pm – At 6pm tonight, we will be meeting in our front yard for prayer for our community and our city. Feel free to come! 2101 Barton Ave, RVA 23222
Tonight was a night NOT like most. Our neighborhood has been riddled with different problems and challenges over the 8+ years I have lived here (and, of course, before as well). But, the last few years, I have been so pleased with how calm things have been. How our community has been strengthened. Tonight, however…that has all been challenged when someone was shot in front of our home at 8:30 in the evening. A bullet came in the front of the house, between the 2 windows above the couch – traveled through the living room and the dining room and into the back wall of the house. All this as Louis and I sat in our customary chairs watching TV in the living room. Meaning, the bullet went just a few feet in front of my eyes….1/2 way between me and the TV.
I am mad. I am angry. I am hurt (not physically of course). Yet, I am also grateful to God for his protection. I am thankful for the neighbors, friends and family who have checked in on us, have hugged us, called us, texted, FB’d, etc. It’s a real encouragement.
I am asking that you pray for me….especially for peace. It is not unusual at all for us to have folks enjoying an awesome night of good food and fellowship at our dining room table at 8:30 at night. It’s not unusual for us to have neighborhood kids and teens sitting on our couch or at our table doing homework, writing essays, watching the World Series, snacking on popcorn or chocolate chip cookies, etc. Our house is a house of peace…which I now feel has been violated.
This, of course, brought back memories from nearly 6 years ago when someone else was shot outside our home on the side street on Louis’s and my 4th date. The gunshot victim lived after being shot 9 times. Praise God! Tonight, yellow police tape hung around our house for the 2nd time.
I am asking that you pray for my community and others like it. As neighbors called and stopped by, everyone had a story about how bullets had at sometime entered their home by forces beyond their control. Pray for healing in our community.
I am asking that you pray for tonight’s victim and his family. Pray for the medical staff at MCV who is treating him. I understand that he was shot once, and it wasn’t fatal.
I am asking that you pray for the shooter. That God will ‘arrest’ him/her even before the police do. That the shooter will ‘surrender’ his/her life to Jesus and find what he/she is looking for. That the shooter will turn himself in and seek the help he/she needs.
I am asking that you pray for the police and detectives, as they tirelessly work to solve these senseless crimes.
I am asking that you pray for our ministry and our friends. I know that these things often scare people away. We have youth and adults who join us in our ministry on a regular basis. Pray that this does not deter folks from wanting to love our community with us.
I am asking that you pray that God will work in and through us to bring glory to His name. May Jesus’ name be known through us during this time. That we won’t miss opportunities to minister to our neighbors. That this won’t be a distraction from our calling.
I am grateful to God for so much this evening. To name a few…
- All of us are fine. God’s angel armies are camped around us and our home. I still praise God, regardless!
- Terence was on restriction…although I really want some of his chocolate chip cookies!!! :)
- Marques left just moments before the shoot occurred.
- Shooting wasn’t fatal.
- So many neighbors who came to love, support and hug.
- So many friends who are praying, loving and supporting us via email, phone calls, texts, etc.
- Quick and thorough response of our City’s finest.
And, now, I will answer the question that many of you are probably wondering. The same question we were asked last time a bullet came in the house.
“So…are you packing up your boxes yet?”
And our answer remains the same.
“No. Until God releases us to go or sends us some place else, we will stay.” May God be glorified through this and through us.
For those who are curious…and want to see pictures….see below! Wonder what our insurance agent will say when we call tomorrow…
Nuggets, learnings, questions from the first day of school morning…
As I posted yesterday in Wheels on the Bus Go ‘Round and ‘Round, it is my attempt to “love my neighbor” by greeting them at the bus stop on the first day of school.
Wow! What a morning! Here we go…
#1 - As ridiculous as it may sound, I used the car in order to make it to as many as possible. With this kind of schedule….I couldn’t see another way.
6:44 North and Poe 29
7:32 Poe and Lamb 4
7:33 North and Poe 4
7:34 North and Roberts 9
7:35 Poe and Lamb 15
7:40 Dove and Barton 23
Total – 84
#2 – Why does the bus stop every 1-2 blocks for Henderson? Really? 7:32, 7:33, and 7:34? It takes more than a minute to safely stop the bus, load the kids, and drive the block to the next stop. Does it have to do with where the kids live and how far they have to walk?
#3 – It’s soooo NOT cool to greet the High Schoolers at the bus stop in the morning. Yet, they should at least appreciate the fact that I got my butt up this early to do so! :) My compromise…I went straight to their house…and promised to NOT post pictures. Last first day of High School for one. And first day of High School for the other. You know who you are….and I love you.
#4 – It’s interesting how small groups form at the bus stop. At the intersection of North and Poe – Poe T’s into North. There were small groups on all 3 corners, even on the wrong side of the street. Wonder if there is a reason for that. The ‘arranger’, ‘efficiency nut’ and ‘connector’ in me wanted to get them all organized and talking to one another. (I know…I’m a freak!)
#5 – There are a lot of great and loving moms and dads out there who ensure their children get to the bus stop safe and sound!
#6 – Elementary Bus Stop – I found myself saying, “Scissors are NOT a toy! Please put those in your backpack.”
#7 – Some kids missed the bus on their first day of school. I pray that this is not a foreshadow of what is to come.
#8 – Kids really want to learn!
#9 – It was hard to get up this early (insert whine here!), and I didn’t have to pack lunches, wake kids, make sure they ate breakfast, brush their teeth, grabbed their book bag and their lunch, dressed appropriately and more! I just rolled outta bed and into whatever clothes I took off yesterday. (Real Truth!)
#10 – I need to pray more for the children and their parents, the teachers, school staff, bus drivers, homeschool parents, and all who work with these young, bright, eager people.
Let’s see how it goes this afternoon when I’m back out there! Say a prayer for me, will ya’?
Tomorrow all over the metro RVA area, we will see the yellow school buses transporting our future doctors, plumbers, lawyers, bankers, mechanics, secretaries, pastors, recruiters, store clerks, teachers, school board members, mayors and city councilpersons, social workers, construction workers, etc. back to school. Let’s keep them in our prayers…and all that will be involved in their education!
Some kids will be going to school for the first time. The rising 6th graders and freshman will no longer be the BMOC, but will be back on the ‘bottom’ at their new schools. Others have moved and will be going somewhere completely new…maybe even across town where they don’t know anyone…or may not know English. Those who didn’t successfully pass last year, but have a new chance at making it through successfully. Some will be donning their new “Back To School” clothes, while others are wearing something from last year or a hand-me-down. The backpacks will weigh heavily full of all their new school supplies, although some will be without. The bullied may be fearful. The bully is puffing up. The teachers, bus drivers, administrative staff, janitors, and cafeteria staff have all prepared for this day. And we are so grateful for them!
It’s a day with many mixed emotions after a fun-filled summer. So, tomorrow… I plan to get up SUPER early and walk to my neighborhood bus stops to wish the youth well on their first day. I will pray with them and encourage the parents that are waiting with their children. I also plan to meet the bus tomorrow afternoon to celebrate the first day of school with snacks and goodies. I can’t say that I will do that every day, but I hope to do it more often than I have in the past.
It’s a simple way to get to know and love my neighbors and to encourage our future generations.
Anyone willing to do the same in YOUR neighborhood???
I would LOVE to hear about how it goes and learn from you!
Important Note: Please be sure to drive carefully as you go to work, the gym, etc. tomorrow morning…and every morning. Watch for those kiddos as they wait for the bus! And remember to leave some extra time in your commute!