TwentyThirteen – A Year in Review

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!

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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!

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I just love these kids – and the daily lives we live together.

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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!

God has everything under control

YES HE DOES!

Attended TEDxRVA with old and new friends. What a super fun inaugural event!

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Made our annual trek to Florida to visit ‘family’ in Miami and Orlando for a conference.

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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!

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Our Annual Community Memorial Day Cookout. Here >> Memorial Day Festivities

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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

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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.

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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! 🙂

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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!

BEFORE!!!

BEFORE!!!

AFTER!!!

AFTER!!!

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’

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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.

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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

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A big goal achieved!  A Certificate in Nonprofit Management from the Nonprofit Learning Point. Here >> SOOO Excited!

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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.)

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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

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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:

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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!

Isaiah 43:18-19
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.

click here for update

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Jesus Came…

…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???

Scripture Basis…

John 10:10

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 A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.  (MSG)

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)


Fa La La La La

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!!!  🙂


YAY! YIPEE! WOO HOOOO! CHEERS! CLAPPING HANDS! SMILES! JIG DANCING!

There are some days where I am overwhelmed by just how much God cares for us.  Like in this scripture…

Luke 12:6-7 (NIV)

6 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. 7 Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

Jesus says in Luke…God has forgotten not even one sparrow. And…he says not to be afraid or to worry. I am worth….YOU are worth more than MANY sparrows.  That makes you and me pretty important to God! He cares about the littlest things about us. He even knows how many hairs I have on my head. For some of us, He knows how many we lost…how many we USED to have.

OK. Now, let’s join that with this scripture where Jesus also says…

Matthew 7:7 (NLT)

Effective Prayer

7 “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.”

So. Jesus also says that we should ask and we will receive what we ask for. And, He says to keep looking for it and we will find it. Pretty simple stuff. Now, I’m not saying that we will get what we ask for it when we want it. And we won’t find everything we are looking for when we want to find it. We were on God’s timing. And I’m OK with that most of the time.

I firmly believe that God wants us to consult with him about even the little things in life. So, I find myself talking to God all day long. Asking him what I should do, how I should handle something, even where something is. That happened this week. On Tuesday, as I was packing for a short trip (which never came to pass), and Louis asked me to leave him the checkbook on his desk. Well, I couldn’t find the checkbook ANY where. I looked in the 2 places it normally is.  I checked the last place I remembered using it.  I checked under the cushions of the furniture, under the bed, under the Christmas tree.  I prayed a lot…asking God to show me where it was..for 4 days.  Nada.

Then, this afternoon, Louis and I were meeting with a friend, Cherie. We were praying together, and I asked her to pray with me to find the checkbook. Without a second thought, she added it to her prayer list which she keeps on her phone.  No judgment. No ‘that’s silly’. Just a ‘Sure. No problem.’ LOVE THAT!

This evening was one of those fun evenings at Miss Marti’s House. 2 neighborhood teenagers were eating dinner with us. One decided to bake cookies. The other was using dry erase markers to color on the downstairs bathroom mirror. I sat at my desk (usually home of my checkbook) and prayed again. That’s when I opened the bottom drawer to look and it sounded funny. And seemed to get caught a little. Unfortunately the drawer doesn’t come out easily. So, one of the teenagers helped me use the pick-up stick to get papers and other items that had fallen out the back of the drawers down to the bottom when he said:  “And…what could thiiiiis be? Black. Looks like a wallet.  Could it be? Hmmmm. Could it be a checkbook????”  And we rejoiced when my checkbook was revealed from the bottom of the desk where it fell from 3 drawers above!!! YAY!!! YIPEE!!! WOO HOOOO!  CHEERS!!! CLAPPING HANDS! SMILES! JIG DANCING!

Which then reminded me of the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son (all found in Luke 15). Just as the search continued for the valued items…and longing for the young son. God won’t stop looking for someone that is important to him. During this Christmas season when we are looking for Christmas to come. We are looking toward the birth of Jesus Christ. We also need to know that He’s looking for us, too.  And He will keep looking. He’s not brutal or pushy or demanding. He’s a gentle gentleman in his pursuit of us.

And when we find Him, the angels all rejoice! YAY!!! YIPEE!!! WOO HOOOO!  CHEERS!!! CLAPPING HANDS! SMILES! JIG DANCING!  Check it out here…

Luke 15:7 (NIV)

7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents…

and here…

Luke 15:10 (NIV)

10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

So, I am excited and rejoicing that it took 4 days to find my checkbook. Let’s think about what we would have missed out on. If I had found it on Tuesday…

  1. this post would not exist and YOU wouldn’t be encouraged by this story of God faithfulness.
  2. I wouldn’t be reflecting on God’s pursuit of us, His love of us, His faithfulness, His goodness, His answers to my prayers.
  3. I wouldn’t be praising Him the same.
  4. My faith was made stronger.
  5. Terence and Bishop were able to witness God’s faithfulness in person.
  6. Cherie and Louis’s faith is strengthened.
  7. I am reminded of soooo much.

Last thing… check out the handiwork of my two friends…

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Lemon Crinkle Cookies – One of Terence’s Faves

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Bishop’s Artwork – Who needs a fridge to post it on???

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Bishop Love…. My Version of a Selfie


Happy Birthday, Jesus! Christmas Party

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


Bless Richmond 2013

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!

Bless Richmond 2013

Bless Richmond 2013

Program Outline

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Worship Team (photo cred: Terence Talley)

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1865 people in attendance (photo cred: Terence Talley)

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(photo cred: Terence Talley)

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Pastor prays for Councilwoman Mosby from 9th District – (photo cred: Terence Talley)

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Passing it on to the Next Generation (photo cred: Terence Talley)


It’s beginning to look…

a lot like Christmas. Even Bella is excited!! 🙂

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