2013 held so many ups and downs for Louis and me. There are a few things I still don’t understand….and may never. Hurts that run super deep. I’m the kinda girl who thinks….if I know the ‘WHY?” – I can deal with it better. Nearly a year later, I still don’t know the complete “why”, but one day I will. But, through these challenges, I am continually reminded that God is in control. And, I am ABUNDANTLY grateful for that. On New Year’s Eve, some friends and I closed the year in prayer – sharing our personal testimonies of God’s faithfulness, talking about forgiveness and confession, and looking toward the future. I was reminded that we should embrace challenging times, because it gives God an opportunity to shine even brighter. This was never more true than 2013.
Here are just a few of the highlights of some of the 2013 AWESOMENESS in mostly chronological order. God is in the midst of every moment of our lives, and here are some milestone God moments for us this year…
We started off the year (again!) with one of our favorite gatherings – Annual New Year’s Community Brunch. Be sure to mark your calendar for 1.1.2015, so you won’t miss it! It’s a beautiful day for good food and fellowship!
We also had a wonderful visit from our dear friend, Richard. Louis has known him for 30+ years. They bought a house together and served the oldest housing complex in Charlotte for 5 years together before Louis went off to California to Fuller Seminary.While Richard was in town, he modeled how to love my community and love her deeply. We love this man!
I just love these kids – and the daily lives we live together.
When Louis and I went through challenging times that spanned from February to December, we continued in our faith-building journey…pressing more intimately into God arms, guidance and direction. Grateful for our friends who prayed with us and for us and…stayed close. Not only is God in control, but He’s making all things new… (Rev 21:5) Most of all – He’s making me new again, and again through the refining fire!
Attended TEDxRVA with old and new friends. What a super fun inaugural event!
Made our annual trek to Florida to visit ‘family’ in Miami and Orlando for a conference.
Our Annual Community Easter Egg Hunt. Thanks to the Easter Bunny for making a special appearance! Check out more here >> Candy, Bunny and Eggs…Oh My!
Our Annual Community Memorial Day Cookout. Here >> Memorial Day Festivities
And…I turned 50!!! I have the best girlfriends and husband (and his friends) ever! Louis and some of his guy friends hosted a homemade dinner and served about 25 of my girlfriends. It was a sweet gathering and you can see more here >> How Much Love Inside a Friend? – Shel Silverstein
Another favorite event and partnership with our friends at Hope Church – 2nd Annual Camp Splash! Nothing better than a bunch of water games with a group of kids and teaching the Redemption Story! For tons of pictures and summary check here >> Camp Splash 2013 In Review.
The newest member of the family…Marques, who stayed with us for about 6 months when he relocated here to marry his ‘boo’ on 12.28.2013. As he was busy settling in to the rhythms of living in RVA, teaching and coaching football at Highland Springs, we grew close to him and love him as our own. Here’s his obligatory First Day of School picture! Blessings, Marques and Lori! 🙂
Louis survived 2 knee replacements and 1 hip replacement. Me? I had emergency gall bladder removal – just a little over a week before his first knee! Check out this progress!!! God has equipped an amazing medical team who does awesome work! I’m so looking forward to getting active again!
One of the funnest (is that even a word???) evenings of the year because it was full of spontaneity, good friends….and a modern day miracle! A night I was reminded to say YES! Here >> Just Say ‘YES’
And then, there was that unforgetable night…when a bullet came through our front window, between us and the TV, and into the back wall. This post received more hits than any other post I have written. If you missed it, check it out >> A Night Unlike Most Other Nights and a follow-up post here >> New. Every. Morning.
Halloween is one of the nights we intentionally stay at home and sit on our front porch – meeting our neighbors and having fun! If you don’t have a front porch, you don’t know what you are missing! 🙂 More Fun Here >> Hallo-BOO-ween 2013
A big goal achieved! A Certificate in Nonprofit Management from the Nonprofit Learning Point. Here >> SOOO Excited!
Louis and I love sharing time with others, especially hosting them in our home over a meal and conversation. This is one way we support one of our favorite nonprofits – RCLI — Richmond Christian Leadership Institute. Students sign up for one of 5 or 6 dinners at our home, where we continue to get to know one another and resume conversations on topics from the most recent sessions. To check out more on RCLI >> RCLI Website (Note: Interviews for the next class are coming up this spring! Let me know if you want to know more about this program. I’m a graduate of RCLI’s 2nd year – 2009.)
This Christmas has been full of JOY! What a blessing to go caroling with a team from Church in Restoration! More here >> Fa La La La La
In addition, we had a Birthday Party for Jesus where friends from the community and from a number of churches partnered together to throw Jesus a birthday party! Not only did Santa come, but we had craft time making angels, ate lots of goodies, heard the Christmas story, and so much more! I haven’t posted this yet, but soon will! Be sure to subscribe for updates! Sneak peak:
Lastly, Louis and I announced that we started Into The Neighborhood, our new nonprofit. Much more to come on that, but you can read our latest update by clicking the photo below or you can Click Here For Update.
I’m excited for all that TwentyFourteen holds!
Remember not the former things,
nor consider the things of old.
Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.
…to give us life, a rich and satisfying life, an abundant life, better than we could have ever dreamed, to the full, till it overflows, and have it abundantly…in ALL its fullness.
What if we actually lived our lives like we really and truly believed that? As followers of Jesus, do we live life like someone literally came to earth, died to save us, and then rose from the dead?
That’s the question that I have been wrestling with the last week or so.
Do I live life like Someone actually was born for the sole purpose to ‘take a bullet’ for me, just so that I could live an outrageously, ridiculously abundant life?
What does that even look like???
10 The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. (NLT)
10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. (NRSV)
10 The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows). (AMP)
10 The thief’s purpose is to steal, kill and destroy. My purpose is to give life in all its fullness. (TLB)
10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. (KJV)
Thanks to Church in Restoration out of Hanover County, VA. What a great group of friends!
It all started in Christmas 2012 when this same group stopped by our home to sing some carols and eat some Krispy Kreme Donuts. And this flexible, spontaneous group willingly stopped by 2 neighbors’ homes, too. This year they agreed to make SBH their only stop; and we were able to sing carols at about 12 homes in less than an hour. There were so many more houses we could have blessed, but the kids still had homework to do and much needed sleep to get. We really appreciate their sacrifice! What a fantastic time of singing Joy to the World, Away in a Manger, We Wish You a Merry Christmas, and more! Spreading JOY about a baby born in a manger who later sacrificed his life for us. That’s worth singing about!
And we will be doing it again next year! Woo Hoo!!! 🙂
In 2010, we held a Birthday Party for Jesus at a local church. Check it out here >>2010 Birthday Party This year, we decided to host another one…at home. We are grateful that Santa has already provided a YES to our invitation!
For an update from me and Louis, check this out too>> 2013 Louis and Marti Update
Just a few shots from Sunday evening’s gathering Richmond’s 3rd Annual Bless Richmond gathering. What a blessed evening of over 1800 people from countless churches all worshiping the Lord and praying for Metro RVA. In addition, over 11 tons of food (and counting!!) were collected for Feedmore!
SAVE-THE-DATE 2014: Go ahead and put November 23, 2014 on your calendar! We will see you at the 4th Annual Bless Richmond!
Note: Terence Talley is a 17 year old photographer, senior at John Marshall High School and dear friend and neighbor. He does super work! Watch for more pictures coming from hime!
a lot like Christmas. Even Bella is excited!! 🙂
Yes…we are THAT couple…THAT neighbor! I admit it. Yes, we have Christmas decorations up with our Halloween pumpkins and fall garden flag and mums before Thanksgiving. Pure craziness, I know. Totally unacceptable. Oh well. So, for the next week or 2, I’m calling it ‘Hallogivingmas’.
I usually can’t stand to see Christmas decorations out before Halloween and Thanksgiving. But, this year…it’s what’s happening. If I don’t manage to get Christmas decorations up before Tuesday of next week, it’s just not gonna happen. Normally, I like to get decorations up the weekend after Thanksgiving. But, this year, it comes really late….and travel and other commitments will keep me too busy to get it done afterwards. So, I said… Why not??? Next, I start the inside. And Saturday, the neighborhood kids are helping me with the tree. Yay!
Anyone want our pumpkins to make something yummy? That’s not happening, either. I have one big one and 2 little ones.
Today is a big, big day in the Williams household!
1 – I got a visit from the ladies at the Nonprofit Learning Point (NLP)! They personally delivered my Certificate of Achievement and balloons! NLP’s Certificate of Achievement in Nonprofit Management is achieved by completing over 120 hours of coursework through 12+ two-day classes and homework assignments. For more information on the Certificate of Achievement, check out their website>>> Nonprofit Learning Point!
Our neighborhood kids and friends have been so patient and encouraging of this commitment. And… LouDawg has been a HUGE supporter!
Even Everett came by for the festivities!
2 – This certification has been completed just in time! Louis and I (along with 3 other founding board members) have officially established our nonprofit ministry – Into the Neighborhood, Inc.! (Be sure to check us out online and on FB!) We are registered with the State Corporation Commission and received our letter today stating that we have completed all the necessary steps to be in compliance with the registration requirements under section 57-49 of the Virginia Solicitation of Contributions Law!
We are in the process of obtaining our 501(c)(3) status from the Internal Revenue Service. IRS Pub 557 indicates that the effective date of our exemption will be retroactive to our date of incorporation which is September 5, 2013.
All of this legal stuff basically means, we can officially solicit donations! More to come!
Louis and I are celebrating by heading over to Croaker’s Spot for dinner before going to praise God with friends at a Gungor concert!
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.