My Name is Not “Those People” ~ Julia Dinsmore

While some of you are in transition to my new blog –…into the neighborhood, I wanted to shoot you a link to a new post over there…

My Name is Not “Those People” ~ Julia Dinsmore

For those who may not know about the new blog, please check out Trying Something New.

Thanks for reading!

2011’s Top Posts – if you care

I’ve seen a number of people share their top posts, so I thought I would take a look at what was most read…or at least viewed.  Not sure if people actually read it or not.  I’m still trying to decide what to do with this whole blog thing.  Should I keep writing and sharing?  Not sure.  It’s a great way to share information, events, pictures, etc., but not sure if I really have much to share these days.  Is it something I am still called to do?  I guess we will see.

In the meantime…here are the top 15 posts from last year, based on the number of views.  Maybe you missed one of them.  Maybe you want take a closer look at and order one of Adrianne’s handmade Anglican Rosaries (Down2EarthDezign’s).  Or maybe you read about Cassie and Hands Up Ministries and wanted to serve or donate (“Feeling Grateful For all He Has Given to me!” Cassie Matthew).  Or maybe you want to read my failed attempt at trying to participate in a book discussion/review (MissionSHIFT – Part 1 ~ What WAS I thinkin’???).  Or maybe you are interested in learning more about CCDA (Go to the people Live among them….Chinese Poema picture = 1000 words and 1276/27=47.259259).  Or maybe you wanted to buy and read Wayne “Coach” Gordon’s book (who’s ur neighbor? – a series I started, but never finished…..ooops!  Neighbor 7: Someone Who Is NakedNeighbor 5: Someone Who Has Been Robbed and Neighbor 6: Someone Who Is Half Dead ) Based on the fact that 4 of the top 15 viewed posts were from this book, maybe I need to pick it back up again and keep sharing….Regardless…here’s the list (1-15) if you are interested.

If you have any thoughts, feel free to share.

Once Upon A Time…
Go to the people Live among them….Chinese Poem
“To Give or Not to Give?” Bob Lupton
MissionSHIFT – Part 1 ~ What WAS I thinkin’???
Neighbor 7: Someone Who Is Naked
Sent and Sending
“My friends are my estate.” Emily Dickenson
a picture = 1000 words
who’s ur neighbor?
Neighbor 5: Someone Who Has Been Robbed
“Feeling Grateful For all He Has Given to me!” Cassie Matthew
Prosperity Gospel = B.S.
Neighbor 6: Someone Who Is Half Dead

Once Upon A Time…

there was a single 40+ year old woman who wondered if she would ever get married….

Yesterday was the 3rd Anniversary from when I married the other half of my pair, Louis.   And it’s also the 4th Anniversary from the first time we spoke…on the phone.  Time and time again, Louis and I have told this story of how we met.  We try to tell it quickly, because we don’t want to bore the asker or monopolize the conversation, because the whole story could very well take all evening!!!  LOL  I laugh, but it’s true.  But, to leave out the details would not be honoring to God, because that is where you will find God….in the details.  And…I HATE details…usually.  But, He loves the details of our lives.  In this story, I love the details.

During Lent a couple of years ago, I started documenting the story of how I moved into my community and my life since, including the events leading up to meeting Louis.  If you want the details of the story, start reading here (click the links), The Chair, where I begin telling the story and read forward to Don, Luke, Jesus & Marti, and SWF Seeks Other 1/2 of PairBe Still.Just for my friend, Jeanine…For Melissa, Michelle and Jeannine….the list grows 🙂 in honor of Judy O’Hara and Change of Heart…Just in Time.  The story picks up at 4 months after I moved into my community.

Louis and I need to practice telling it a lot quicker, but yet still glorifying to God…so let me start here, for those of you who don’t like the details.  🙂

I was in my forties and wondering if I would ever get married.  If it was in God’s plan for me.  After Don Coleman gave me a scripture, Luke 10:1-7, my prayer changed from a future husband to “the other half of my pair”.  Friends were praying with me.  (As a matter of fact, there are several friends that I still pray will meet their other half!!!  I haven’t forgotten!!!) God used so many people in the process.

OK.  I have written that paragraph over and over again.  I can’t do it!  Can’t leave out the details!!!  I give up!!! So…you will have to read it from the blog!  But, I do want to point out some of the things I learned…

  • God loves the details in our lives.  Don’t be afraid to share them with Him.  Nothing is too small or too big for Him.  He works in the details.  Don’t overlook them. Actually…watch for them!
  • God uses other people.  If you feel the nudge to talk or do something, pray about it.  It just might be the Holy Spirit’s guidance.  Then, do it.  If people weren’t obedient, they wouldn’t have been part of the story and witnessed God’s movement.  God would have just found another way to get it done.  He doesn’t HAVE to use us.  He chooses to use us.  He chooses to allow us to be part of His mission.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE that!
  • Pray specifically and radically. Yes, I gave God a deadline…I want to meet “the other half” by the end of the year.  Some people think that is crazy or bossy.  Whatever.  I just call it praying specifically. Praying the what seems impossible is praying radically.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask others to pray with you.  Find a couple of people you trust to be transparent with your “stuff” and ask them to pray expectantly.  Then, watch God move.
  • Remember…sometimes, it takes time.  It took 2 years since I prayed the first prayer!!  I know some of us are waiting longer than that for our prayers to be answered.  There are prayers that I haven’t gotten the answer I want yet.  But, He hears us and He answers us.
  • Read the Bible. Meditate on His Word. See what God says to you through it.
  • Make time in your busy schedule to read the Bible, meditate and pray.  You gotta get still and quiet to hear His voice.
  • People watch you and your behaviors. We were very conscious of that especially while dating.  Louis didn’t spend the night…EVER. The kids especially watched for us to slip….expecting us to have sex before marriage, which we didn’t.  You probably want to know how we know.  Well…let’s just put it this way.  They asked.  A LOT.  They would try to “catch us”.
  • I don’t fully trust God, but I am learning to trust Him with all my heart, soul and strength.  Still a work in progress.  But, this, along with many other times, reminds me…God is in control.  I just need to follow his leading and be obedient.
  • Regarding marriage:  Lots of people go into marriage thinking…”If it doesn’t work out, I will just divorce.”  I never thought that. Divorce is not an option for me. Marriage, for me, is for life. (I know…there are reasons!!!)  But, Marriage is WORK! Dating is WORK! From the beginning (OK…the 2nd date), I chose to just be myself. I wasn’t going to play any games.  I thought, I need to be real.  This is who I am.  No, I didn’t dump all my stuff…my baggage…in the first month. That would have scared him off, even though the bullets didn’t!  Some ask me if I felt like I ‘settled’.  No. God told me His plan.  I just walked obediently.  Now, 3 years later… is it hard? You betcha!  No doubt! For some short moments, I feel like it’s not worth it. It was so much easier being single! But, as Gary Thomas asks in his book Sacred Marriage… “What if God designed marriage more to make you holy than to make you happy?” Yowza.  That ALWAYS stings a little…ok…A LOT!  Marriage is a ministry.  Louis and I (with God) are one, yet a pair.  We are individuals with our own likes, dislikes, passions, opinions, etc.

But, this I know…we have been called to serve the Lord together…through thick and thin, in sickness and health, for richer or poorer, for better or worse, and to love and cherish.  In our whopping 3 years of marriage…we have experienced a little of all that…thick and thin, sickness and health, rich and poor, and better and worse.  It’s teaching me how to love and cherish Louis…more than I do myself.  It’s making me more holy. I confess…I have a loooong way to go.

Sent and Sending

I know these posts are pretty heavy for a merry, happy Christmas season.  But, this is just where I am right now.  After 8 years of serving as the Minister of Sacrament and Word, Louis won’t be behind the pulpit at Third Church Petersburg every Sunday. This 98 year-old church is closing effective 12.31.2011.  A year ago, my job ended.  We have really been seeking what God has for us.  In this search, I think He is revealing to all of us….He has so much more!  He is going to birth something new!

In yesterday’s post, Incarnation, I wrote about why Jesus was sent to Earth….

Luke 4 NIV

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. 
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, 
to set the oppressed free, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Moving ahead about 30 years, Jesus appears to his disciples after He has risen from the dead. This is what He says to them…

John 20 NIV

 19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

Moving ahead about 2000 years…if we call ourselves Jesus’s disciples, then this is for us as well, right?  As the Father sends Jesus, He now sends YOU and ME…filled with His Spirit…to PROCLAIM freedom for those held in bondage of all kinds, to PROCLAIM recovery for those who are sick, and PROCLAIM the Lord’s favor.  It is not good enough to simply feed the homeless, clothe the naked, or care for the widows and orphans, although that is all WONDERFUL stuff!  Please don’t get me wrong.  But, we, if we call ourselves Jesus’s followers, also need to be sure to PROCLAIM the name of Jesus while we care for the poor, widows, prisoners, sick, etc.

According to some recent studies, 83% of Americans call themselves Christians, or Jesus Followers.  If that is the case, then why do we still have racism and prejudices?  Why still starving people?  Why are there still places in our country and our world without running water? Why are there so many injustices?

The following picture was found all over Facebook, but I think it really speaks to this topic.  I’m not casting stones here.  Louis and I continue to challenge ourselves on a regular basis.  It’s not easy, and we have a long way to go.  As we celebrate Christmas tomorrow, the First Coming of Jesus, let’s also challenge ourselves to work toward reconciliation with God and each other AND to bring the end of suffering, hunger, prejudice, thirst, injustice, and pain. Let’s be about the Mission the “Sent One” sent us on!

…your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.


Word became flesh…and moved into the neighborhood. John 1:14 (MSG)  

For me…that’s the story of Christmas.  God becoming flesh and blood, and relocating to the neighborhood.  Thanks, Jesus, for giving up heaven to come to this sinful world.  Why???  To glorify God.  Jesus said the following in Luke 4:18-19 NIV

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. 
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, 
to set the oppressed free, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

So, what does that mean for us?  Stay tuned.  In the meantime, check out this awesome Spoken Word.  Love it!



I had a full couple of days of meetings and lunches.  Conversations ranged from personal stuff to the Occupy movement and other current events to church divisions over the view of Bible.  And one friend said something like… Ya’ know?  I can’t be worried about all that.  I just need to be obedient to what the Lord asks me to do.  I just need to do what the Bible says.

So…it got me thinking, what does the Bible say about Occupy?  I did a quick word search in the King James Version on…and it led me to the parable that Jesus told about the 10 Minas, in Luke 19.  A businessman had to leave and gave each of his 3 servants 10 minas and said

‘Occupy till I come.’ (KJV), which the NLT translates as ‘Invest this for me while I am gone.’ and the NIV states ‘Put this money to work,’ he said, ‘until I come back.’ (Luke 19:13)

After becoming king, he returns, and this is what he finds…

  1. One servant had doubled his money….and he was given 10 cities to manage.
  2. The second servant increased by 50%…and he was given 5 cities to manage.
  3. Then, there was the third servant, who had basically hid his minas under the mattress.  It didn’t even gain interest.  The king then took all his minas and gave them to the first.

In vs. 26, Jesus goes on to say

‘…and to those who use well what they are given, even more will be given. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away.

Whether we think that is fair or not, it’s the way Jesus told it.  We may think…but at least he didn’t LOSE any of his minas by playing the stock market.  But, nope…that is not the way it goes.

So…back to my friend today.  She is choosing to invest ALL her minas everyday in any way that she can.  In this day when you can’t pause for a second without hearing or reading something about occupy this or that.  I am challenged by ‘Occupy till I come.’  Til Jesus returns, I need to put my money, my life, my time, my talents, my gifts, my everything.  I pray that the Lord will reveal what I am holding back….what I am putting under the mattress…what I am afraid to put out there.

What about you?  What are you holding back? What are you not using fully for the Lord til he returns? Join me in the discussion here, on FB or by tweeting… #occupytilicome.

a picture = 1000 words

Jesus says…to Peter…

Matthew 16:18-19  New Living Translation (NLT)

18 Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it. 19 And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you forbid, bind, or lock on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit, loose or open on earth will be permitted in heaven.”

This scripture has really been speaking to me lately.  Jesus didn’t tell Peter that He would build any denominations or buildings upon this rock.  He said that he will build HIS church…and the powers of hell will not conquer it.  To me that means that when we work together as HIS church not as an individual church building or denomination, He will give us the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven.  So, I am constantly challenging myself (and it is a challenge, for sure!) to look for ways for us to work together to bring HIS kingdom on earth in RVA as it is in heaven.

Most recently…nearly 100 people from an unknown number of denominations, churches and ministries came together from all over Metro Richmond area….and even Raleigh, NoVA, Maryland and Boston!….came together on October 29th to learn from Noel Castellanos, CEO of CCDA (Christian Community Development Association).

Someone once said “a picture is worth a thousand words”.  Well….here are 50,000+ words representing the Church in RVA! Watch the slideshow for pictures from the Church-Based Community Development presented by the CCDA Institute.  Thanks to our co-sponsors City Church, East End Fellowship, Hands Up Ministries and Northminster Church.

Also…be sure to let me know if you want to be added to our distro list for future events!  And if you are on FB…click here to join our group discussions>> CCDA n RVA

PHOTO CRED:  Terence Talley, 15 year old photographer from my neighborhood!  Keep up the great work, Terence!!!

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“Feeling Grateful For all He Has Given to me!” Cassie Matthew

Cassie Matthew is a fairly new friend of mine, yet I feel like I have known her all my life.  I love her like a sister and so enjoy getting to know her better.  Cassie is the founder of a ministry called Hands Up Ministries here on the Northside of Richmond, VA.  When we met a year or so ago, she had never heard of CCDA (Christian Community Development Association), Dr.John Perkins, Bob Lupton,  Wayne “Coach” Gordon or any of the well-known folks who have been doing CCD for years…dare I say decades.  But, the Holy Spirit led her to do this work, and she obediently got busy.  Now, we are partnering and learning this stuff together.  She is such an inspiration and encouragement to me!  This is an email that she sent out today to her “pals”, which I am grateful to be counted as one of them.  I have posted it with her permission.  Take a read…and check out Hands Up…you won’t be disappointed.  I promise!

Cassie – Thank you for being my friend and sister in Christ.  I am grateful for how you model being Jesus to our friends.  You’re the best!!!  I am sooo looking forward to seeing what the Lord has in store for us in the future!  May God be glorified in all that we do and say!  Love you!  Mart

November 14, 2011

Dearest my pals….

I am sitting in the doctors office, patiently waiting for a biopsy report to come back…thinking  of how grateful I am to have insurance that I can just waltz in here, fill out paper work sit down and have the work done…never paying a dime(today). Just a mole on the face…not to worry. There is a little coffee machine, and SNACKS…my darlin’ husband is having a big time while I’m all patched up here with a big fat swollen eye….I am comparing my experience with that of my friends, who don’t have the luxury of insurance(private), who sit in offices, without snacks, without coffee and piped in music….and are barely acknowledged. I have sat with my friends in the doctors office, with their “Va. Premier” insurance card, they are treated in a much different fashion than I’m being treated today.

The disparity is so obvious, hurtful, and unnecessary. Why? Why must we treat “the poor” so differently? ‘Perhaps’… I wonder, if we treated friends with dignity, if it were required,  I dare to say many folks might take better care of themselves in a more positive way. Feeling uplifted versus leaving angry and indignant. It just makes me sad, and If you don’t see it firsthand, it doesn’t enter your mind.
Just wondering. Just praying God is leading me somewhere…social injustices abound.

On a lighter, happier note…..This semester has been amazing at the Ministry…I’d love to share with you. VCU students have been so wonderful, we started  “Adopt a Family”  pilot  and it is going so well. The city friends are grateful to have someone over who cares, and the Students are really excelling at loving others. Antonio(VCU) has been mentoring a friend, Allen, making decks, fixings friends homes(small jobs, however important), from this opportunity, neighbors want them to come over and help them…For a Fee for the friends! This my friend, is so exciting.  I have to admit, it takes a real effort to help friends, without hurting them, or letting them think “WE” are the answer…“We” are not!…I am very conscious of this always. We must support and not enable…that isn’t always an easy call. Many times it’s not until I’ve(we) made mistakes, that I realized..OK that does/did not help.  Many times, calling on God and asking for His Guidance, is the only comfort I have. 

Without a shadow of a doubt, I have finally accepted, there is NO ONE I can change, my power is only working in vain, like a hamster on a wheel…i am just killing myself hoping for a change in individuals…NOPE..that does NOT work. There is only one HOPE: Christ. He is THE only answer.  Christ and the individual have to come to terms with what they are willing to give Him, to make changes, I am no different..I must lean into Him, ask Him for the strength I lack for change…and for me, it’s as equally hard, frustrating, difficult, and often I want to quit, many times I do quit. Knowing what is best, I quit, or i don’t DO what is best for me.
In my own strength, I can’t do it. Imagine how my friends feel…who lack all that I have, i see their pain and difficulty. Still i wonder, is this the way to approach friends…with the encouragement of God, I push on, press in,  listen for His direction and get up and try once more. Peace abounds.

There is joy in giving, loving, seeing others receive joy from giving. VCU students who are teaching dance class to our sweet babies, helping Mohammed with his fire stained home with a fresh coat of paint.  Students who are taking the children on field trips to local parks.Tutors who are loving the children and see the true impact sitting with a child for 1.5 hours, right then and there you feel the impact. VCU lady rams who have taken a day to spend it with our kids to teach them basketball drills, but truly making the children feel so special for being them. Inviting us back, all 25 of us to cheer on the team…Amari says..”Hey there is my coach, Andrea…She yells..”Go Andrea” as if they are long lost friends…Fills my souls with love only God could be filling.

So I press on, trying to do all that this ordinary person can do, and when I am exhausted and defeated, He sends an encouraging word my way through His people. He sends me to an extraordinary Sunday School class with beautiful women…or a local Bible study in my neighborhood for His love. Know that there are moments when i say “Really God?”…I can’t…”Then it’s amazing, i look back, and He and I did.”

For those of you who like numbers: We are sending out 65 meals for Thanksgiving(everyone hand delivered by families, SS classes, small groups, circles, Schools), leting folks know we are proud of their hard work and we recognize them and letting them know there are families who care. 29 kids came to tutoring on Wed., with 30 individual tutors from around the city, with a hot meal from SunTrust and a bedtime story to send them home, loved, full, and tired.(Me Too)

25 of us went to see the VCU Lady rams play ball, that feat alone takes an act of congress to make happen…i wish logistics were easier…But they can make me stronger. Thanks to NHPC for always loaning us vans to get the babies around safely.

We visited Monroe Park to hand out  50 hygiene kits and warm clothes and blankets to the homeless, this is a tough gig….send in your warm coats/hats/gloves for men please.(used is perfect)…Let’s go back!

Knitting continues, Computer classes are increasing, jobs are still hard to land, but we are still pushing folks to keep working on new skills.

We’ve had over 180 volunteers this month, doing a variety of demonstrations of loving others, one favorite new act of love was Wally from NHPC who came and played his acoustic guitar and sang to MY SWEET FRIENDS…it’s so EXCITING when something so beautiful happens like that. He gave what he had…his gift of music.

We keep our focus on housing, knowing this can make the biggest tangible difference in a person’s life in the city…dreams we too have and want. I ask for your prayers for God to Bless this direction, praying for a tangilbe way to show our love in the lives of the working poor.
My love and thanks, for all of you, for your time, your donations, your love and words of encouragement….As I tell my children as I put them on the bus…”Be a Blessing…not a Burden!” Come. Give. Pray.

His in Christ,

Cassie Matthew
Hands Up Ministries/Founder

Biblical Call to Justice

Louis and I were recently asked to participate in a panel discussion about Christian Community Development.  One of the questions we were asked to prepare for was…

Select one scripture that you think best describes the biblical call to justice, and what it has meant to your specific ministry.

As I prayerfully prepared for the panel discussion, I started making a list, thinking I would narrow it down to one.  Well, that never happened.  I realized that I couldn’t narrow it down.  It seems like I can’t read the Bible without seeing the Redemption Story and our role…our mission in bringing justice on earth as it is in heaven.

The short list of scriptures I came up with when I finally stopped….  What scripture drives you?

Micah 6:8   The Message (MSG)

But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women. It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, And don’t take yourself too seriously — take God seriously.

John 1:14  The Message (MSG)

The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.  We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, Generous inside and out, true from start to finish.

Matthew 16:18-19  New Living Translation (NLT)

18 Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it. 19 And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you forbid, bind, or lock on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit, loose or open on earth will be permitted in heaven.”

Matthew 25:39-40  New International Version (NIV)

I was hungry and you gave me no meal,

I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,

I was homeless and you gave me no bed,

I was shivering and you gave me no clothes,

Sick and in prison, and you never visited.’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

Matthew 5:3
     New International Version (NIV)

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Luke 6:20
      New International Version (NIV)

Looking at his disciples, he said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.”

Isaiah 58    New International Version (NIV)

6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: 
to loose the chains of injustice 
   and untie the cords of the yoke, 
to set the oppressed free 
and break every yoke? 
7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry 
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— 
when you see the naked, to clothe them, 
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? 
8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn, 
and your healing will quickly appear; 
then your righteousness[a] will go before you, 
and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. 
9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; 
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.  “If you do away with the yoke of oppression, 
   with the pointing finger and malicious talk, 
10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, 
then your light will rise in the darkness, 
   and your night will become like the noonday. 
11 The LORD will guide you always; 
   he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land 
and will strengthen your frame. 
You will be like a well-watered garden, 
   like a spring whose waters never fail. 
12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins 
and will raise up the age-old foundations; 
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, 
   Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

Acts 2  The Fellowship of the Believers

42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Bless Richmond 11.20.2011

Hope to see you there!  Tell your friends….tell your church…bring some food!