8 years and 3 days ago, I made one of the biggest commitments in my life. I bought a house in Southern Barton Heights. 8 years ago, TODAY, I met the neighborhood kids. My life has never been the same! So…tonight, we spontaneously decided to celebrate. No pictures of the evening. Just use your imagination…
Dinner around the table with Louis, Deshawn, Larry and Bishop – after the boys helped Louis grill. Bishop was there that first day…about to go into the 1st grade. This year…he’s off to Open High! Terence calls in the middle of dinner needing a lift after football practice, where he is going into his senior year at John Marshall. WOW! By the time I got back, dinner table was just about cleared! Anthony is off at ODU. Lil Mike, Rob, Dude, ManMan, Tyree…they are still around doing different things.
Time out for Louis to rest his knees as he slowly reduces his painkillers, while the kids play Just Dance on the Wii. Now, it’s time for marshmallows at the fire pit, where we will continue our evening full of laughter and great conversation – including testimonies from Camp Hope last week, favorite memories from the last 8 years, how they want to start up Kids Missional Community again, school, music, and all kinds of other things! The best yet was all the laughs that came from looking at the wedding pictures from nearly 5 years ago. They grow up so fast!
Life is good. Life goes fast. Goin’ to bed with a smile.
OK…just for the fun of it…here’s a picture of Miss Marti’s Kids from the wedding. I love these guys! A.Lot.
What’s your favorite
Miss Marti’s House memory?
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 Pair, Be 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.
This week….5 years ago….I moved into Southern Barton Heights!!! WOW! What a wild ride it has been. If you had asked me 5 ½ years ago where I would be living…this would be the LAST place I would have said. Actually…I didn’t even know that this part of Northside even existed. When I first started looking for a new home, I drove through SBH quite by accident….following 2nd Street until it turned to the left and dropped me off at 1st Street. I was simply just trying to get to the other side of I-95….where you see those houses up on the hill to the right as you come from 64 to 95N. So…I naively drove through Gilpin Court/Jackson Ward and across the 1st Street bridge and into SBH. I remember thinking….this would be a great neighborhood…if only it was located somewhere else. I fell in love with the architecture and the community feeling of it. But, as I drove through, I just knew it was not for me….and kept looking elsewhere. Then, I came back…entering Battery Park by way of Overbrook…and seriously considered some houses adjacent to the park. Friends…both white and black/African-American told me I couldn’t move there….as a single white woman…that I would be a target. So, I stopped looking in Northside.
Then, I continued to look in other parts of Richmond…and placing contracts on houses…and getting totally shot down! Remember, this was the height of the housing boom. Somehow, I ended up back in the SBH area looking for a home. You can read more of that story in the following posts… In the beginning…, Daring God and Our House…..
Something (or should I say…Someone!!!) kept bringing me back to this area….and that was God. I had NO idea why!!! Nor did I ask, surprisingly enough. Walking in blind faith…or stupidity, not sure which I was doing at the time! Now that 5 years have gone by…I can see why the Lord wanted me here….for serving others….and changing ME! I am not the same person I was 5 years ago. Only God could have made the changes in me. There have been times that I have tried doing this on my own…in my own strength and power. But I have learned that I am not capable of that and sustain it for the long-term. When I let the Holy Spirit guide me, and allow God to show off….(to use Christianese for a minute…I must decrease, He must increase…..)that is when the real stuff happens! That is when the impossible happens. I can name sooo many times when God filled me with His Power…the Holy Spirit…to do His work. I am so much more dependent on God than I was 5+ years ago!
This week, I’ve been reading this book called Radical by David Platt….and it has really been challenging me. Some people would ask….why are YOU reading a book called Radical? You could write it. What you have done is radical!!!” Yes…moving to Southern Barton Heights may be called radical…but not nearly radical enough….is what I am realizing. Platt writes on page 68…
In the Gospels we see how Jesus ended his time on earth by commanding his followers to take the gospel to the ends of the earth. The letters are filled with the same emphasis as Paul, Peter, James and John led the church through persecution and suffering to spread the glory of God to the nations.
So…that same commandment is for us….today. So…what we do here in SBH is really not all that radical to Jesus…this is what he expects of us. Luke 10:1 talks about how while on earth Jesus sent people off in pairs to villages to prepare for him to come…as they didn’t have cell phones, internet, etc to announce it. In 2007, I prayed for the other ½ of my pair….to prepare SBH for Jesus to come! And that’s when I met Louis 2½ years ago. I truly feel like the Lord has sent us here…to prepare the way for Jesus to come. His presence is already here. You can see it…feel it…in so many ways. The revival that will take place will not be because of anything that WE did….but what the LORD did.
Platt also writes on page 46….
The gospel beckons us to die to ourselves and to believe in God and to trust in his power. In the gospel, God confronts us with our utter inability to accomplish anything of value apart from him.
God doesn’t call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if He doesn’t come through. ~Francis Chan, Forgotten God
In addition, nowhere in the Bible does it say that it will be easy and glamorous. No one said that it would be a piece of cake. In fact…Jesus DOES say that we will be persecuted for HIS name sake….that people hated on Him before they hated on us. The Bible also says that we should find pure JOY in suffering. That joy part…I am still a work in progress there! I have a ways to go!
Later, I will share with you some of the suffering, persecution, or discomfort that we have encountered since beginning this work. Not to point us, but to point to how faithful the Lord has been through it. Please pray for wisdom and strength as we continue to be the Light on the City Hill.