in honor of Judy O’Hara

As some of you know, today I am in DC for the O’Hara St Patrick’s Day Clan Dinner and Party. This marks about 25 years that I have been coming up here….only missing 2 in 25 years.  I forgot to download pics for the blog…so stop by later and there may be some here.

Also…thanks for reading!!!!  And hope you have an awesome St Patrick’s Day.  This post is in honor of my dear wonderful and loving friend Judy O’Hara.  After fighting a long good fight with cancer, she went to heaven a month before I met Louis.  I like to think of Judy whispering in God’s ear….Now, let’s talk about Marti.  It’s about time that she met the other 1/2 of her pair.  RIP Judy O’Hara!  We love and miss you!!!!

More about me and Louis!!!  YAY!!!  I knew I couldn’t keep the romantics in my life happy if I didn’t keep telling the story….

OK…so now…we have my buddy Marc who was praying with me.  Don who was giving me life changing scripture.  Becky and Lowell who were praying with Louis and Jennifer who was just being the messenger, right?  Oh yeah…and about 20 women in my Bible Study and my 2 girlfriends who wrote lists with me.  Could there BE any more people involved?!?!?!?

So….Jennifer calls Becky that night, the 22nd…leaves a message.  Becky calls back on Sunday the 23rd with the number.  Jennifer calls Louis.  Louis says after Christmas he will call…as he was busy prepping for the Christmas Eve Service.  And I hear…after the holidays…which I think after New Years.

So, the 26th rolls around and I get a couple of calls from a number I don’t recognize and I am afraid it’s work…so yes…I screen the call, because I am on vacation!  No message is left.  Then it dawns on me DUH! maybe it is Louis.  So, I call JP and plug Louis’ number into my phone, so I will know that it is him.  Because it WAS him calling.  We still disagree about him not leaving a message to this day!  :o)  But the story is so much better this way!

So, the 27th of December (piece of trivia….yes, we got married a year from the date we first talked on the phone!!) rolls around…this is where it gets interesting…..and I am meeting with a neighbor and his friend looking at their business plan.  They had some business idea that they wanted to pass by me.  My friend had to cut out and left me with the other guy.  I started to get a little nervous.  Something just didn’t feel right.  I felt like I was in a dangerous predicament.  I tried gently to get him to leave…and he wouldn’t take my hints.  We had begun to have some theological discussions….not quite debates….but we definitely had some differences in opinion.  For one…this guy thought he WAS Jesus.  So, I started to pray…Lord, get me out of this.  This doesn’t feel right at all, while still remaining calm.  So after a minute or 2 (which felt like and hour or 2) my phone rang.  Yes…you know what is coming….I look at the phone and it was Louis calling.

I look at my visitor and said..I am so sorry, but I have to get this call.  I had been waiting for this call….like all my life!  So, I did.  and the rest is history.    The guy finally left my home.  Only for me to find out later, that he was in fact a bit dangerous.  He had allegedly stabbed someone previously for have a religious disagreement.  The Lord had answered my prayer for help and brought me the other 1/2 all at the same time!  I thank Him for his protective hand!

Louis and I talked for a while on the phone, and we decided to actually meet face to face.  Louis DID NOT know about Mr December at all.  He was just calling because Becky and Jennifer made the connection.  I let Louis pick our first date (not EVEN thinking about God’s assurance that I would meet him IN December).  And Louis suggested Sunday, which I thought was a great idea..especially after I checked out the date…..December 30th!

God had in fact brought me a DATE (not necessarily the other 1/2) in the month of December.  So, we went to dinner at Edo’s Squid on our first date.  In fact, Louis came back on New Years Eve to attend my party.  I held a NYE party for some of the neighborhood kids to give them a safe place to hang out.  Ordered pizza, played video games, and a few other friends came over as well.  We call this our 1/2 a date….where he first started serving in the community with me.

Sunday night continued to be date night for us.  Louis would come over about 3 or 4pm.  We’d hang out with the kids…watching football, etc.  Then, we would drop them off at youth group before going on our date.  So…he’s serving SBH with me from the get-go.

The kids were asking all kinds of questions.  Were we dating?  Were we having sex? (although they were WAY more crass than that…but this is a G-rated blog!) Have we kissed? etc.  This will have to be a whole another post one day.

You see…there was one problem….I really didn’t like him all that much when we first met.  Nothing really in particular…just didn’t like him.  My co-workers were cheering me on….Just give him another chance!!!  Don’t be so hard on him!  etc.  I wasn’t quite sure that I really knew him.

By the end of January..I had to have a LOOOONG talk with God about this. Rarely do I know what God is up to when He is doing His thing. And…this was one of those times.  I had a LOOOONG talk with God. Saying….basically….God….I don’t want to waste any time with anyone who is not THE one.  But, I really don’t like this guy so much….he’s a nice guy….just not for me.  So, I KNOW you introduced us in the crazy way for a reason.  I KNOW You know what I need…and I want what YOU want.  So…IF this is the guy…you need to change my heart and change it fast, because I’m about to kick ’em to the curb…..and kick him soon.  So…change my heart, Lord…if this is the one.

As you know…I had prayed for the other 1/2 of my pair…to serve SBH.  If that happened to be my husband…that’s just icing on the cake.


For Melissa, Michelle and Jeannine….the list grows!!! :)

If you are late in coming to the story…you MAY want to consider reading the past posts….go to the bottom and click Louis and Me!  This is where you will find each post in order…telling the story of how I met the other ½ of my pair!

OK…picking up where I left off in the story of how I met the other ½ of my pair.

So…I had asked the Women’s Bible Study on Faith to pray.  Which they promised me they would!  I was still believing in what God had told me….that I would meet the other ½ in December.  My buddy Marc had confirmed it stating that he felt I would meet someone in 4th quarter.  Again…we could both be right!

Early December comes, and Marc asks if I had met “him” yet.  I responded no, not yet…God still has another 21 days.  He hung his head hung LOW!  I had never seen him quite like that before.  He starts apologizing to me….telling me that he thought he had heard the Lord correctly….thinking that I wasn’t going to meet him.  I would have NOTHING to do with it.  Telling him NOT to give up…that I was STILL believing.  That is what God told me…and I am holding Him to it.  I may not have mentioned this before, but when I prayed….I kinda gave God a deadline.  Having heard that you should pray specifically, I prayed that I would meet him by the end of the year.  Then, God said it would be in fact be December.

Previously, Don Coleman had told me about this guy that he thought I should meet back in the summer, but he never called.  Other than that…there had been ZERO interests!  But, I was believing!!!

At that women’s study, I had the great pleasure of meeting my now good friend Jennifer.  On Saturday, December 22 we went to dinner after church.  We were just getting to know one another and were just hanging out when she asked if I had met “Mr. December” yet.  I obviously said No.  But I was still believing…God still had 9 more days!  We laughed at the Mr. December idea and continued to eat.  Then, Jennifer paused, set her folk down and said…so, I’ve been praying about this…and I think I am supposed to tell you.  There’s this guy….

I was like WHAT?!?!  This “guy”?  She continued to tell me about him.  I sat there and shook my head “No!  There’s no way!  He’s not interested!”

I couldn’t believe it.  My new friend Jennifer was sitting across the table telling me about the SAME guy that Don Coleman told me about months prior!  I just KNEW it was the same guy….and I said….JP, he’s not interested.  Don’s already told me about “this guy” (I didn’t have a name at this time!).  Jennifer was convinced that it couldn’t be the same guy. She didn’t think that Don and “this guy” knew each other.  So, I got Don on the phone.  Once I filled Don in on our conversation, he simply asked…what’s his name?  And Jennifer told me….Louis Williams.   Lo and behold, Don AND my new friend from the bible study were telling me about the SAME GUY!!!  6 months apart!!!  Needless to say…we were a little in shock!

So..the first thing I do is google him….NOTHING.  Yes guys….we google you!!!!  So, be careful what you put out there.  Ladies..you do the same!  LOL.

The rest of the night, I kept saying…Jennifer, really?  Is this for real?

Long story short….Louis had spent some time with Don back in the summer sharing his heart.  A few months later he had dinner with friends Becky and Lowell.  Becky felt called to pray for Louis that he would meet his “God Woman”.  She is a busy woman, mom, wife, volunteer and professional.  Becky doesn’t have time to be a matchmaker, but she mentioned to Jennifer that she was praying for Louis to meet someone.  This was shortly AFTER I shared the “Mr. December” with my Bible Study.  Rather than jumping on it, Jennifer took time to pray about it first, which I sincerely appreciate.

Now it’s 12.22.07 and Becky and Jennifer went to work to get Louis and me connected….just a couple days before Christmas….when folks are busy, traveling, prepping for the day.  But, I think we all had forgotten about the December deadline.  Plus – I was now kinda freakin’.  Could this ACTUALLY happen?!?!?!? Really????

Side note:  Now, before you think too poorly of Louis….there had been a break down in communication back in the summer.  THAT is why he never called.  But, later you will learn that God’s timing is PERFECT!


Am I Hearing Things?

So, Cindy and I are in the Berkshires….enjoying the beautiful weather and sites.  I had been reading a book called Prayer:  Finding the Heart’s True Home by Robert Foster, the same guy that wrote Celebration of Discipline. Cindy and I also read some novel by Nicholas Sparks, too. Actually, I read the whole book aloud to her.  She loves listening to books on tape, but doesn’t really like to read.  So I was her live book reader!  It was fun!

Cindy and Me....in the Berkshires

But, one of my favorite parts of the trip was just driving around in the convertible…just chillin’.  One particular day we went driving late in the day and the sun was going down, but we still had the top down and were wrapped up like Eskimos without a care in the world!!  (note the pic!)  While looking up at the beautiful mountain, I was took a few minutes to kinda softly sing/hum a song….one of the songs that we would sing at church that was praising God.  I sensed this voice saying, Marti, do YOU love me?  I was like…well…uh… yeah.  Of course I do.  I heard it again….do you LOVE me?  Me:  Well Duh!  Yes.  You know I do.  What’s this all about?  Voice:  One more time…do you love ME?  Me:  I just laughed….and said….ok.  YES!!!  I LOVE YOU!!!

I didn’t think too much more of it.  Until the day we flew back…stuck on a layover @ JFK.  I was reading the last few chapters of the book on prayer.  The last chapter is on Radical Prayer.  Wow, I wish I could find my copy.  But, one of the last pages, could even be THE last page…the author was writing about a conversation between Peter and Jesus in John 21.  The scripture states that Jesus asked Peter 3 times in 3 different ways: do you love me?

You probably know this scripture…

John 21: 15-17

15When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?”

“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

16Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?” 
      He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” 
      Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” 
      Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.

Then it hit me… Feed my sheep.  I sat in the airport and wept.  Cindy didn’t know what to do with me, and frankly, I wasn’t ready to talk about it.  As a matter of fact, few people have even heard this story.  It’s been a while….2.5 years ago…of processing it with the Lord.  The Lord has called me to “feed His sheep”.  For the last 2.5 years, I have been pondering and praying…what all does that mean?  I still don’t have a full picture of it.

  1. For one…I know that I am called to feed HIS sheep.  They are not MINE…but HIS.  He is in control, not me.  I can only do what I can do…and leave the rest up to Him.  I haven’t always felt that way….thinking I had to do it all on my own and in my own energy.  I didn’t always really trust that God’s got it.  I have had to learn that…over and over, actually.
  2. Another…I am called to serve, to be Jesus and bring Jesus to HIS people.  I needed to learn to step out….to be bold in that.  The Lord has been equipping me for that.
  3. Remember…the other ½ of my pair.  I think he was prepping me for how we would do that together. (More to come on that one!)
  4. In John 21 it refers to this part of the chapter as Peter’s reinstatement.  I think this too was my reinstatement.  I can’t remember denying Jesus 3 distinct times like Peter did…but, there had been sin in my life that needed to be confessed and forgiven.  It was definitely a cleansing time.
  5. Lastly, I don’t think He is done with this scripture yet…I think there is more to come.  I will continue to seek God’s will in my calling…my ministry.

Tomorrow…more on the story on how I met the other ½.  Stay tuned!!


God in Nature

I’m a little late posting today.  Louis tells me to give myself a break…that Sundays are usually not a fasting day during Lent.  (That is why Lent is only 40 days long….because it doesn’t count Sundays!!!)  I’m not legalistic about this, but I committed to posting every day during Lent…so that is what I shall do!  I’m good at starting a lot of things, but I don’t always finish or do it completely.  This is one that I want to stick to…all the way to Easter!  Let’s just say, I need a bit more discipline in my life.

In October 2007, my friend Cindy and I went on a wonderful trip to the Berkshires…mountains of western Massachusetts (almost in NY State).  It was a WONDERFUL trip that was relaxing and just totally chill.  We had no where we needed to be at any time.  We had rented a convertible, so sometimes we would just tool around the mountains of Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire.

Cindy is a great travel companion.  You know…you could just ride down the road with no need to speak…no awkward silences…but just a comfortable quiet time.  Some times we would chat..some times we would just ride.

For a couple of years prior to that, I had been on a God in Nature focus.  So, Cindy tolerated me screaming…STOP!!!!…so I could take a wonderful picture of something in God’s creation..clouds, mountains, streams, rocks, etc.  So…many of the pics that you have seen have been from that trip.  In the evening when we would get back from our adventures, I would go through the pics and my Bible picking out scriptures to go with each picture.  As you take a look, what scriptures would you put with each?

Tomorrow, I will share an important part of this story….My Calling.  But, for today, I hope you enjoy some more pictures of our trip.  Check back Monday for more of my trip to Berkshires and how God spoke to me…


Generous “George”

Richmond - Downtown

After a few days of posting on other stuff…let’s get back to the story….

Back at work downtown and on the road, divine appointments were occurring on a regular basis.  At this point, I was beginning to expect them…to actually look for moments that God was orchestrating.  I was beginning to wonder were these opportunities there all the time?  I had been just missing them?  Some…I didn’t even know they were occurring until much later.

There was this one time…when I received a call from a work colleague from several states away.  This was not unusual because I worked with people all across the nation and talked to them daily.  But, this call was different.  I really didn’t know the person, but he acted like he knew me.  I haven’t talked to him about this post…so I will just call him “George”.

So…George calls me to tell ME a story.  It was not unusual for people to ask ME to tell them a story…something that had happened in my community.  But, he was going to tell me HIS story.  George was calling to see how he could help my “kids”.  He had gotten a significant bonus and wanted to share it.  After giving George the name and address of Commonwealth Chapel, he promptly wrote a check to my church, designating it to m2h (Miss Marti’s House).  He had remembered hearing my story about the kids at one of our company gatherings and wanted to give back.  I was really shocked, surprised yet grateful, because I, for the life of me, could NOT remember who he was.

Months go by and it was time for me to attend a regular dinner meeting for work, where lots of people come from all over.  Work was demanding my attention that evening and I ran a little late, so I stood at the door waiting for the opening remarks to conclude and checking out the full room for empty seats.  After quietly slipping in and dinner started, I met the people around me.  Go figure…who did I sit next to, but GEORGE!  It was crazy…in a good kind of way.  We continued our conversation from the previous phone call.

I confessed that I was embarrassed to admit that I had NO remembrance of meeting him or telling him about my kids, as I attended many corporate functions.  George then said, Marti…you shouldn’t feel embarrassed.  I am the embarrassed one.  After we figured out where we had been and who we had been with, he stated…that he had WAY too much to drink that night and could remember very little from the evening.  Very little except meeting me and hearing about what I was doing in SBH.  At work, I couldn’t actually say…How God was moving in SBH, but that is what I alluded to when I talked about my calling.Youth Retreat - Camp Willow Run

George went home, touched by what he had heard and decided to give back to the community.  He started to volunteer and give of his time, but soon realized that this wasn’t what he thought he should be doing.  He then felt called to go back to church and went to Mass for the first time in years…or decades.  George picked up the Word and it leapt off the page.  At one point it felt like he was being literally pushed in the middle of his back…to go and do something.  Being pressed so hard in the back that he turned around to see who was pushing him, and no one was there.

kids chillin' at Willow Run Retreat

George felt this overwhelming urge to give of his finances and that is when he called me.  The timing could NOT have been more right.  The youth group was planning their first youth retreat and my kids couldn’t afford to go.  But, the money that George provided was the PERFECT amount to cover every kid!  Only GOD can provide like that.  I’m so thankful for George and his timely provisions that came several more times after that.  May God richly bless him for his generosity and obedience.

This wasn’t the only time that God was at work on my job.  There have been so many times when I ran into people “for such a time as this”…where I could encourage and bring hope.   I can think of distinct times on flights, in the lunchroom, on the phone, and outside a courtroom.  Work isn’t the easiest place to openly share your faith, for fear of being accused of religious discrimination.  I was faced with that at least once and again, it was unfounded.

I don’t push my faith on others, but it IS a part of my life.  So, when people ask why I wasn’t moving to StL or why I lived where I did, I can tell them.  It was great to have like-minded colleagues to talk to at a time when the market was crashing, financial companies were folding, and times were scary for many people.  But we knew…Who sat on THE throne.

I am reminded that we ALL need Jesus!  Regardless of what our status is in life.  I realized that I had (or have) 2 mission fields…at home in SBH and at work (until further notice, anyway!).  Both…the spiritual “least of these”.

In addition, I learned that if God can use a snake, a donkey, a burning bush….He can certainly use ME!  I just have to be open…and willing…to be used.  There really seems to be a theme in the posts, doesn’t it?

Listening…

Obedience…

Risk…

Willingness…

Change…

Inconvenience…

Do you recognize any other themes I might be missing? And…what themes do you track in your OWN life?  Is God trying to tell you anything?


Just for my friend, Jeanine…

I have to admit…I have been very preoccupied the last couple of days.  I typically write the first draft of my post a day or 2 in advance….and then tweak it as the “due date” looms.  Well…due to distractions that regular life has brought me AND the recent funeral today plus the death of my neighbor’s grandson…I’m doubly distracted and not processing very well.  So, I’m picking an easy (and welcomed!) topic today!  Back to Louis and Me!!!  YAY!!  I can hear my friend Jeanine cheering!  She encourages me to write more…and not to leave her hanging because she hasn’t heard the story before!  So, Jeanine…this is for you!!!  Thanks for your encouragement!!  I need it!  btw – check out her beautiful photography blog by clicking her name anywhere in this post!

Ok…so I left off with praying for the other ½ of my pair and Don telling me about a guy who never calls….right?  If you need to catch up….click Louis and Me! in the sidebar to the right…

Our 3 Lists Written in 02.07. 1 down...2 to go! (Yes...out of focus on purpose!!!)

Marc continued to come into work…encouraging me…and telling me that he had been “puttin’ in knee time” for me!  I still had my own copy of the list that I was praying over…along with my 2 friends’ lists (who I am STILL praying for!!!!!).

The work merger had been announced in the spring…and we were alllll wondering…whether our jobs were moving to St Louis (StL).  That fall, the word came.  Yes, my team’s jobs were moving.  I was a leader of about 40 people in 2 locations, Richmond and StL….with about 25-30 people in Richmond…and they were deciding that all the jobs had to located in StL.  I was praying for my team and me…for good decisions. (btw – some of them are still looking for jobs if you know of any open HR/Recruiting gigs in Richmond!!!)

I spent a many many night on my face asking the Lord if I should move to StL.  I said…if that is what you are asking, then that is what I would do.  I asked Him if I would meet my other ½ in StL?  But that just never landed on me right.  The Lord had said I would meet the other ½ of my pair to serve SBH.  So how could I move, right?

But, I prayed for confirmation.  And received it.  I told my manager that I would NOT make the move.  No amount of money or job position could convince me to move. But, fears set in.  How would I make a living?  Where would I get a job, etc?  It was definitely a faith building time for me!  I had to trust the Lord.

Meanwhile, I was sooo sure that I was going to meet the other ½ in December 2007, I stopped praying for it!  Yes….let me repeat, I stopped praying for it to happen.  I even told Marc to stop praying…but he insistently prayed although I said that God had already answered.  (Love me some Marc Lundy!!

Before long, I joined a short 6-week Bible study at Needle’s Eye Ministries on Faith.  It was now October-November 2007…coming up on the December date the Lord gave me!  Figuring…if there was anytime I needed faith…I needed it now.  This group of about 25 women gathered every week for 6 weeks at their office.  I barely knew a soul!!! After Susan led us in our study, we always closed in prayer.  I shared my story and asked them not to pray for my other ½ in the same way – that he would show…but to actually pray FOR him to prepare him.  I often wondered if he knew what he was about to get himself into.  So, the ladies agreed to join me in praying FOR him.  I thank God for these ladies, whose names and prayer requests are in that journal!  As I look down the list this evening, I wonder what other prayers have been answered?!?!

But, allow me to remind you…nearly 2 years had gone by since I prayed for the “bone” in December 2005.  I had been praying for God to send me a husband.  Over the following year, 2006, the Holy Spirit had used many situations, Don Coleman and Luke 10:1-7 to change my desires and my prayers. In early 2007, I had started praying for the other ½ of my pair in ministry to SBH.  I had begun praying the will of God instead of Marti’s.

Learnings for me,

  • Take prayer requests seriously.  If you say Yes to pray for someone, be sure to do it.  Don’t take it lightly.  It’s serious business!!
  • Be careful what you pray for….you just might get it!
  • I’m often astounded at the sheer number of people God uses in this story.  He doesn’t need to use us, but it is sooo fun when He does.  At any point, if someone said “NO! Lord!”…the story may have turned out differently.  Just like the story of Marcellous.  If Marc, Emmanuel or I had said “NO! Lord!” at any point…the results might look different.
  • These stories consistently remind me of the importance of listening and obeying.  We are robbed of the blessing of being used by God when we say “NO! Lord!”  Like the Nike slogan….”Just do it!” comes to mind!

Jeanine…sorry, I am going to leave you hanging…..AGAIN!  Hugs to you!


Here.Am.I.

This is a post that I started yesterday.  Actually it was the 2nd half of yesterday’s post….which would have been WAY too long.  So…here it is now, as promised.

Shortly after attending the conference, I found myself reading Encounter God in the City by Randy White.  I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to discover the exceptional power of experiential discipleship and transformational experience.  Here are a few notes from my journal while reading this book…

  • I’m living intentionally in a high crime, high poverty neighborhood in the city.
  • Cities – not just an area to serve, but to grow my faith and discover a meaningful life where I can be transformed.
  • I will be a repairer of broken walls and restorer of streets with dwellings.
  • Making things the way they should be

IN people,

BETWEEN people, and

FOR people

Human beings dwelling in peace in all relationships with God, self, fellows and nature.

  • Holy Pestering of city bureaucracy

Psalm 82:3-4

2 “How long will you defend the unjust and show partiality to the wicked? Selah

3 Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed.

I am reminded of the story in Luke 1:26-38 of when the God sent the angel Gabriel who appeared to Mary.  Gabriel said that the Lord was with her and that she was highly favored.  She asked a simple clarifying question.  After hearing the answer, Mary then responded, I am the Lord’s servant.  May it be so, Lord.

Now that I am reminded of all of this…what now?  Lord, as my job soon comes to an end…what do you want me to do?  This time, Lord…it’s not “Not me, Lord! I’m not ready!”  This time…it is “Here am I…your servant….may it be so!  Lord, may it be so.”

On a side note…The funeral for my colleague was wonderful and uplifting!  I also spent some time with my neighbor this evening. She’s in good shape…. considering.  Her hope and trust is in the Lord!  It was a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  I understand there were plenty of witnesses.  Pray for justice!  Please keep both families in your prayers.