Heart Breaking. Soul Weeping. Mind Reeling. Knees Bending.

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My heart is breaking.  My soul is weeping.  My mind is reeling.  I don’t understand. But, my knees are bending.  And I have a pile of used up tissues beside my chair.

Almost 7 years ago, I moved into Southern Barton Heights in Richmond, VA.  I knew life would never be the same.  From the get-go, I fell in love with the neighborhood.  Especially the kids.  Literally, from the first weekend after I moved in, I met a bunch of the kids.  After that, they were over all the time.  I loved it.  I never went anywhere alone….one of the kiddos was always with me.  We watched sports together.  Yeah…me.  I watched sports and pretended to enjoy them.  We went to the grocery store together.  And cooked together.  And played together.  We did life together.  They were often at church with me….and always at youth group and retreats.  We talked about virtually everything! They were and still are…Miss Marti’s Kids.

But…over time…some of the kids moved to other parts of the city.  And, now most are grown.  Thanks to Facebook, we are able to reconnect.  Some are…graduating from high school.  Going to college.  Or..in some cases, ending up in juvy.  Today, one, now an 18-year-old young man, was arrested, along with 2 of his friends, for First Degree murder of 16 year-old Brett Wells in Mechanicsville, VA.  People would always tell me….”Marti – You can’t save them all.”  My response was “I can’t save any of them.  But, my God can.  If the kids will remember what it felt like to be loved.  If they can remember God’s unconditional love, while they are laying on the cot.  That’s all I can ask for.”

That response is really being put to the test this evening.  Why CAN’T I save them?  What else could I have done?  What could I have said?  Why does it have to be this way?  Those are some of the many questions that roll through my mind as I weep over our city and for our youth.  I know the standard responses….”You did all you could.”  “You loved those boys like your own.”  I know.  I know.  I know.  But, I ask myself those same questions just like any parent would.

One of the 8 Core Principles of Christian Community Development is relocation.  Through my relocation – living in this community – the community’s assets are now my assets.  But, the community’s challenges have also become my own challenges.  Today….that is even more evident than ever.  I can’t go into my home and go about life pretending like this hasn’t impacted me personally. I can’t ignore the fact that it has impacted my community, the Mechanicsville community, my church, and the rest of Miss Marti’s Kids.

No one said this would be easy.  No one said it would be “happy, happy, joy, joy”.  This world is broken.  This world is fallen.  And frankly, it sucks.  Big time.

For those who have seen the news, it isn’t a black/white thing.  It’s not a suburban/urban thing.  It’s not the “boys from the ‘hood” murdering a 16-year-old in the white suburban community thing.  It’s not that simple….at all.

But, it IS a tragic thing.  Our youth need us.  They need us in the counties and in the city!  This is such a complex issue.  It’s not a time to point fingers.  It’s not a time to say “they” should take care of this.  “They” meaning the government, the schools, the parents, the non-profits.  It’s a time to say WE should take care of this.  WE means each and every one of us.

I know people who know and love the victim and his family.  I know and love one of the 3 guys…love him like he’s my own.  How can I make sense of it all? How do we comfort the parents who lost their 16-year-old son? How do we comfort the mom who could lose her 18-year-old son to prison? How do we keep drugs and guns off the streets? How do we comfort the friends of both? How do we help the youth of our metro area?

How, we might ask?  It’s obviously not a simple answer…or we would have done it by now.  But, let’s see what the Lord has to say on the topic.  The answer may be different for each of us.  As for me….I’m gonna be on my knees.  Please join me in praying for our youth and young adults.  They need us on our knees.  On my knees.  God help us.

18 Comments on “Heart Breaking. Soul Weeping. Mind Reeling. Knees Bending.”

  1. Mom says:

    Joining you in prayer.

  2. Chara says:

    It’s so hard to open yourself so deeply. Thank you for not letting the possible hurt stop you from doing what you are doing and not allowing it to jade you and harden your heart. Part of me is happy I no longer live in Charleston so I don’t have to see the nightly news and recognize former students mug shots on t.v. – though some find their way to me anyway. And it does hurt and it does make you question. God is using you and thank you Lord that He is so big and awesome that He can even use this horrific situation. I will continue to pray and it’s also a good reminder that it’s never too early to pray for my little ones and their future and their choices and how they impact their community.

  3. Laura Hoy says:

    Oh, Marti, I will pray..praying for peace…for God’s Kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven…for a fresh wind of the Spirit in your community, your neighborhood. And mostly, I will pray for the family of the victim, for the three boys arrested…may they encounter Jesus in this….for Truth and Love and Hope and Grace and Forgiveness and Peace to make their way into this tragedy. And I will pray for you…may God hold your heart in these days.

  4. We’ve got to just keep doing what God has called us to do. Those of us – like you and I – whom have been called to love the children that it seems the world has forgotten or given up on – we have been given a gift. An amazing gift, to love and serve and hope and believe – when it feels impossible. Keep on, woman of God. Keep on.

  5. Emily says:

    And we will never stop. You are right they do need us and we all need to stick together (near or far), continue to impact, never give up hope, and pass the message that all children are reachable teachable lovable and savable…. Sometimes not on our time line but He will take care of it. I’m blessed and honored to be your friend and to serve with you and watch you serve. Thank you for all you do. It’s inspiring beyond your imagination. My prayers are with you, your babies, as well as the family of the 16 yr old.

  6. Donna Sharits says:

    Marti, when saw the news story I was heartbroken for every person and each family involved. Tragic is too small a word for the lives wasted and the life lost. You are a strong person to shoulder so much concern, to share so much love and to be so visible with your faith. Somehow God will use the tragic event for His purposes, but for now, we see through the glass darkly. Take care!

  7. maggie says:


  8. […] this kind of life should come with a warning label. It hurts.  It hurts a lot. Monday, I posted Heart Breaking. Soul Weeping. Head Reeling. Knees Bending on Miss Marti’s House, the blog we now use to share what’s going on with us (Louis and […]

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