Just a quick sneak peak at tonight’s activities!  It was definitely interesting.  Although I know we need the rain pretty badly, we prayed that the rain would hold off…..


But, the rain came….and this is what it looks like when it rains….




Then… the clouds went away and the SUNSHINE came out!  WOO HOO!!!! I know I should say something spiritual here, but I just don’t have the energy! But, what I do know is…God is really good…all. the. time!



What a super night of great fun…and a night of learning about just how loud it can get in our house….and I can say I appreciate the sunshine today more than most!  🙂  Again…super thanks to new and old-time friends from Hope Church (BIG TIME!!!), Movement Church, Cornerstone Christian Church, Parham Road Baptist, Bethesda House Ministries, New Hanover Pres, Tuckahoe Pres, Spencer Simmons (check out this talented musician at and soooo many more who helped out this week and tonight in some way!  I always hesitate to list groups or people because I know I will forget some one….forgive me if I did!!!)  More pics to come!

Thanks to community for coming out….and blessing us!


Easter – Acts 2 Style

I was in the middle of writing my first draft of my post-Easter Reflections, when I stopped to read Rachel Held Evans‘ post So how was your Easter…really?.  It really got me to thinking differently about my Easter weekend.  Every Sunday for my 48 (soon to be 49) years of life, I have been in the church on Easter morning.  Louis, as a Pastor, is usually behind the pulpit on Easter morning. Now that I think about it, the first time I heard Louis preach was Easter 2008, and I married him December of the same year!

Since Louis and I were both free (in more ways than one!) on Easter morning, we decided to take a different approach to the Easter Weekend.  We found ourselves forgoing all the normal Easter Christian traditions.  We opted for BEING the church instead of GOING to a church.  We decided to ‘do’ the Bible.

We opted for an Act 2 style of worship this weekend…

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.

Thursday night is our usual Missional Community, where we eat together, study the Word of God together, and pray together.  We did something radically different for our group.  We had an old-fashioned foot washing and communion together.  Where we commune and fellowship over a meal every week, this was different.  Where we serve our community and each other every chance we can get, here…we washed one another’s feet…literally…while praying and thanking God for one another.  The Spirit’s presence was thick and beautiful.

On Friday afternoon, I got a prayer request email from a friend and a regular at our Thursday night Missional Community – who usually doesn’t usually request prayer for a number of reasons…lack of faith being one of them.  But,  I am thankful that she reached out this time on behalf of a friend.  It was literally a matter of Life or death.  I was weeping as I read the email and cried out to God.  I am grateful that when I called on another friend to help with this prayer request…she answered her phone!  🙂  She gave me great advice to pass along, and she prayed with me right away.

Friday night, still somewhat grieving for the possible loss of Life, our normal Good Friday night service was replaced with dinner with a group of guys from Richmond Christian Leadership Institute (RCLI), where Louis and I are shepherds.  We gladly broke bread together in the form of grilled cheeseburgers, grilled onions, roasted potatoes and cole slaw.  The guys continued their fellowship surrounding the fire pit, as they talked about challenges of health care, education, etc.  I hear they put our friend and visitor, Bill, through the ringer – as a pediatrician in one of state’s poorest counties.  God’s presence was apparent as all the believers were together.  I don’t think we share everything in common, but we did share the love of Jesus as an important commonality.  (I regret….no pictures were taken.  What WAS I thinking?!?!?)

Early Saturday morning, I received a text message.  It was now a matter of LIFE!  The friend of my friend now chooses LIFE!  Death was scheduled for next Friday, but the appointment at the clinic will been cancelled.  Where Life’s heart currently beats in her womb, Life’s first breath will come in 8-9 months.  We are filled with awe as wonder and signs performed by God’s answer to our prayers. Praise God…and thanks to all involved!

This year, Easter didn’t consist of a Sunrise Service or a Sunday morning church service.  We had no new springy clothes or accessories.  We did, however, open our home to our community – Southern Barton Heights – and our community of friends to an Easter Brunch.  Louis, once again, served up his famous pancakes by the order as our friends (old and new alike) came and went.  In addition, we had plenty of fruit, egg/turkey sausage/cheese casserole, country ham and juice/coffee.  After hiding over 400 eggs, we cut the older kids loose in the back yard, while the younger smaller ones were in the front yard.

We didn’t ‘preach a sermon’, but we devoted our time and our home to share the love of our Risen Savior in word and deed as we spent time in fellowship, sharing and praying with one another.  We created deeper relationships with existing friends and developed new friendships with first time visitors to our home.

We ended the day with dinner with my family.  This is the only tradition that carried over from past years.  I can’t imagine Easter without Mom’s lamb and full dinner table. Mom – Thanks for modeling hospitality for me!

I look forward to what God is going to do among all of us in the future…and I look forward to those who will be added to the number of those who believe.

I am blessed in so many ways!  Not to mention…a true blessing in the midst…

A little grief-stricken, I went to bed Friday night believing that Life could be put to death in a week. It reminded me of how the disciples went to bed…laying there awake…after Jesus died on the cross…believing that He was dead.  Or maybe they were pacing the floor….talking to one another…trying to figure it all out.  Not understanding.  Some had even dispersed…went into hiding…facing it alone.  Having to wait 3 days to hear that Jesus is Risen.  I can’t imagine what that must have been like.  The wait must have been horrific.  I am thankful that Life’s heart will continue to beat, Life’s lungs will continue to develop, Life’s cells will reproduce, and what a story…a testimony that Life will hear one day.  Faith is restored.  Life will continue to live.  God has a plan for Life’s life.  I can’t wait for Life to grow up in the ways of the Lord.  I believe. Praise God!

Now…enjoy a few pictures of our Easter Day… Peace.

Happy Easter!

Everyone is dressed up wearing their new easter frock and heading to church, and that’s not your deal.

Maybe getting dressed up and heading to church on Easter IS your deal…and you can’t imagine Easter without heading into church like you do every week.

Or…maybe this is one of your 2 visits a year. You go ’cause your parents want you to. Or out of guilt.

We don’t care. Come hang out with us. Come as you are. Shorts, Jeans, Dresses, Suits. It doesn’t matter, as long as you wear something! 🙂 We just love to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus with our friends and family.

Lou-Dawg’s Cafe will be open serving Pancakes and Egg/Turkey Sausage Casserole. It would be great if you brought something with you…fruit, cooked bacon/sausage, juice, etc…but it’s not required.

Easter Egg Hunt will be held at 1pm for the kiddos.

Please RSVP by Good Friday, 4/6/2012.

Theology on the Ground Reminder – TONIGHT!

REMINDER….this is tonight!  Hope to see you there!

Urban Ministry Forum

“Theology on the Ground”

Wednesday, April 7th from 7-9pm

Union Theological Seminary

You will hear from urban ministers, whose work in Baltimore, DC, and Richmond are truly rooted in building community, empowering the marginalized, and helping people at their point of need.

  • Rev. Dr. Anthony Hunt will be discussing how he’s been creating ’shalom’ zones in some very poor parts of Baltimore;
  • Rev. Dr. Roger Gench will be discussing what it’s like to be an urban parish minister and how collective action among churches can accomplish change; and
  • Richmond Hill’s Rev. Ben Campbell will describe how spirituality and prayer create ecumenical bonds which then forms concrete social action to help transform this great city.

Union understands that effective ministry means opening one’s doors, offering radical hospitality, and creating relationships to develop the ‘beloved community.’

See the attached flyer for more details>Theology on the Ground and refer to their website Union Theological Seminary.

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STEP = Strategies to Elevate People

In January of this year, I was nominated for and accepted a board member position with a non-profit ministry serving Richmond’s inner city called STEP (Strategies to Elevate People).  If you are interested in learning more about, serving with or giving to this deserving organization, check out their newsletter by click this link > STEP March Newsletter.

Here’s a little more info about STEP….

Mission Statement

Develop strategies to meet the needs of the urban poor in Richmond.

Vision Statement

Defeat poverty in the lives of our urban neighbors.

Our Goals:

Build vital relationships through effective Christian community and

Mobilize resources of the church to serve the poor in the City and

Empower organizations and ministries seeking to reach our urban neighbors in order to

Minister to the urban poor by sharing the love and hope of Christ

Our Core Values:

The Church

We serve as an arm of the Church, upholding its role in ministering to the needs of the poor (Eph. 4:11-12)


We believe that every person has a valued place in the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:12-15, Ps. 8:4)


We are called to be in community with other believers to support God’s Kingdom work (Heb. 10:24-25)


We enable others to be educated in order to produce opportunities and enable them to more effectively steward the gifts with which they have been entrusted (Prov. 23:12 & 24:3-4)

The Work

We enable others to work so that they can in turn give to others (Titus 6:17-19)

Thanks for reading and considering.


My friend and author of The Meeting of the Waters, Fritz Kling recently posted on his FB page…

“Over the past 25 years, there has been a 45% drop in how often people invite friends to their homes. Wow! I know Val and I have done our part to keep that figure from being worse! But I’m troubled by what this means for a culture…and what we Christians are doing to stem the tide. In the Bible, good things happen over meals and in homes, and I feel a need now to try harder than ever to practice hospitality.”

I could NOT agree more!  Good things DO happen over meals and in our homes…not to mention on our porches and back yards!!!  Fritz’s comment really got me thinking…

Louis and I truly enjoy entertaining!  Thankfully, I have a wonderful husband who *LOVES* to cook, especially on the grill.  Some of you know…you’ve tasted his delectable goodies.  As many of you know, his homemade teriyaki sauce is good on just about EVERYTHING!  He receives regular requests for his teriyaki steak or chicken, crab stuffed salmon, and pancakes!  We have often thought of bottling it.  But, can’t think of a good name.  Any ideas?  RevUp Teriyaki is a good possibility.

But, it is NOT just about the food goodness.  It’s more about the communing….the chillin’ and relaxin’ with old friends or making new ones.  It’s about building community, laughing, playing, relaxing and enjoying one another.  The Bible is FULL of stories that take place around the table.  I particularly like the ones that where Jesus ate with the “sinners” and the “outsiders”.  Then, this got me reading…a blog…John Mark Hicks Ministries, specifically his Missional Table post, although there were more posts on the topic.

“Luke is a narrator. He tells stories rather than writing didactic prose. Through the stories he inculcates the values which he wants his community to embrace. Each meal story reveals something about Jesus and his mission. In Luke 5:27-32 Jesus sits at table with sinners as a physican among the sick. In Luke 7:36-50 Jesus receives a sinful woman at the table of a Pharisee and declares her sins forgiven. In Luke 9:10-17 Jesus shows hospitality to 5000 people as he first calls his disciples to mission (“give them something to eat”) and then models before them his messianic mission. The disciples are called to service. The table has a missional dimension; it reflects the mission of God to commune with his people at table. In Luke 10:38-42 Jesus accepts women as his disciples. In Luke 11:37-54 Jesus condemns the Pharisees because they sit at table only in form, not in spirit. In Luke 14:1-24 Jesus notes that their table does not look like the kingdom of God, but it looks like themselves. In Luke 19:1-10 Jesus invites himself to table with the tax collector Zacchaeus and declares that salvation had come to his house. Luke 24 welcomes a stranger to the table in Emmaus (Luke 24:30-35) and commissions the disciples to bear witness to gospel among all nations (Luke 24:45-49). Just as the disciples offered hospitality to a stranger on the way, so the table is a place where the church welcomes strangers (aliens or “others”). The table has a missionary quality, especially in light of the fact that the disciples receive their call to missions at a table.”

If this is what Jesus is modeling for us on a frequent basis, then who are we communing with and how often are we doing it?  Based on the statistic that Fritz brought us, we must not be doing it often.  I wonder why we don’t do it more.  What keeps us from “breaking bread” with others on a more regular basis? Taking quality time with our families and friends?

and possibly even strangers?

Hebrews 13:2 “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”

Here are a few pics of times we have welcomed friends and strangers, sinners and saints, young and old, black and white, rich and poor to our table, our porch, our back yard and our kitchen for a cooking lesson or 2!  I hope to have many more full tables in the weeks, months and years to come!  You are welcome at our table anytime…come on over!


“The only thing constant in life is change.”

François de la Rochefoucauld

Now…isn’t THAT the truth?!?!?  Today was a BIG BIG day for Louis’ church.  Due to a number of different factors – change in demographics, decline in the economy, too little too late mentality, loss of membership, aging population, etc…..some big decisions have been under consideration for the last few months.  Today was the day that the congregation unanimously voted to pursue selling the church building and it’s property.  In addition, they also voted (unanimously) to move Louis to half time…20 hours a week….in the hopes of prolonging the ability to keep a pastor with them as long as possible, even if it is part-time.  We are thankful that there was unity in these decisions, as tough as they may be.  Louis and the session (elder board…for those non-Presbyterians) have done a WONDERFUL job of prepping the congregation for this day.

This decision has been difficult for everyone involved.  The church body has been around for nearly 100 years.  Some current members are 4th generation members of 3rd Pres of Petersburg.  Change is rarely easy.  We are praying for peace….peace that can only come from Above.

On a personal note, Louis and I are excited about what the future may hold for us.  The Lord has been soooo generous and continues to provide for us.  Although I have been displaced, I continue to work in a temporary assignment until sometime later in the year.  I will receive a generous severance package that will hold us a little bit.

Louis and I will be taking a monthly one-day retreat to pray and discern what God has next for us.  Our first one is scheduled for Good Friday, 4/2.  We are pretty sure we know our calling, but the details aren’t at all clear.  It’s like an old-school Polaroid photograph developing (SLOWLY) before our eyes.  We will keep you posted!

Thanks for praying with and for us during this time of uncertainty.

My handsome Hubby bringin' the Word on Christmas Eve 2009.

Urban:Suburban Challenge

Last night, Louis had a committee meeting at his church, which left me home alone.  I decided that I would take time to get ahead on postings…do a little planning on what stories I would tell and when.  I thought I had it all under control when I went to bed last night.  But, I woke up this morning at about 5am which is VERY unlike me!  There’s nothing better than sleeping in!  Knowing that, I believe the Lord takes great JOY in waking me up early to have a little discussion with me. This is hard to put into words as I grapple with it through my tears and fears.  I’m still processing.  But, I am going to give it a shot…

Where Louis and I Live and Minister

I have been challenged this week, when I received an email from the director of a local urban ministry.  He contacted me to tell me that there was a local suburban church who was looking for a 1-day mission project in a couple of months.  Thinking of me and SBH, he gave me a call to see if I could come up with a project for them to do.

Initially, I was THRILLED!!! WOW!  Am I an official ministry now?!?!?!  That people want to come and help for a day?!?!? But, something just wasn’t sitting right with me.  For a couple of days now, I have been thinking…what could they do?  I even went on the internet and started looking at what other organizations have done.  Asking myself, what does SBH need? What could we do? I couldn’t think of anything that a 1-day trip could accomplish.  Then, I was mortified.  I started beating myself up!  Surely there was SOMETHING!!!!  Lord, what was it?!?!

Well, He woke me up with an answer.  There may be NOTHING.  (Stay with me!  I said MAY!!!)  There may not be a THING that a 1-day missions trip could do to help my community. Am I trying to force it?  This church, I am sure, is full of well-meaning people of God.  I know this will sound completely OUTLANDISH to many of you reading this, but could there possibly be more harm done in that 1 day than there will be good?

Let me explain why….

I first thought of odd jobs they could do around the community – yard work, painting, etc.  But, then it hit me….How would my friend Everett make his living? Everett does odd jobs at an affordable price for folks around the community.  Cutting grass, mulching, planting, washing cars, etc.  How would Everett then buy what he needs without that income?

Would we offend people by offering FREE services? The last thing I would want to do is offend the people I have grown to LOVE. No one has come to me with a need that needs to be met.  But, I am now asking the right local people for their help.

Then, I thought of “picking up trash”.  Well, that would take a few hours. But, wouldn’t it be better if we rallied the community to do that?  But, it takes a relationship to rally people.  Does this well-meaning church have a relationship with the people to rally them?  The simple answer is no, but we do.

I once heard a story about a well-meaning American church who went to a foreign country to build a well in a dry place where the locals had to walk for miles and miles to get clean water.  Certainly a worthy cause! The Americans built the well on their own, then went on home to the USA.  Then..the well broke down.  No one knew how to fix it and the parts were too expensive.  So, the people were STILL thirsty, but also frustrated!! They had a taste of what it meant to get water without walking for miles….now it was more difficult than before.

What I realized this morning is that we need those and other well-meaning Christians to INVEST in the urban community.  Not just a 1-shot deal.  We need folks who understand the impacts and the nature of being poor and are willing to walk along side someone or a family.  We need someone who is willing to practice the art of being “present”….of just being there.

Yes, SBH may have people who don’t have a lot of money, but are RICH in spirit. Most of the folks in SBH are hard-working dedicated people.  Many people look into SBH and all they see are the prostitutes, the dealers (and their clients), the trash in the street, the homes in disrepair, etc. But, that is what they see from the outside looking in.  You need to BE there, PRESENT to see the inside…the many assets of SBH, the pride, the history, the commitment of the pioneers that have been through so much for so many decades…but continue to stick it out.

So now…I need to explore with this church and others.  Knowing I can not discount short-term missions trips altogether, I realize that many long-term missionaries and volunteers are born out of 1-day and other short-term missions opportunities. But, I owe it to myself and to my community to do a little investigating first.  The last thing I would want to do is bring unintentional harm to SBH or the servants.  Is this the beginning of that relationship? How can I partner with this church (and others) without hurting them or SBH at the same time?

A few questions to ask now (albeit not an exhaustive list)…

  • Can we come up with a project that will help SBH or someone who lives here? There must be something! I’ve put the word out in the community this morning. Lord…show us the need that we can meet!
  • How can I provide the kind of experience for the servants/missionaries where they truly experience the community and learn/benefit from the day?  I know it is cliche, but how would Jesus do this?
  • Is the CHURCH (the church at large….the Body of Christ) willing to commit…to invest…their time and/or resources to walk it out on the long-term?


is it a box to check?

served a poor urban community in 2010.            Check!

I am reminded of a book that friend Don Coleman suggested to me When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor or Yourself. I’ve used it as a resource, but now it’s time to dust if off and give it a good read.  If anyone wants to explore this book WITH me, let me know.  There are great exercises and probing questions to ask yourself in a group or individual study.

2 Shameless Plugs….

I got to know Fritz Kling when I participated in RCLI (Richmond Christian Leadership Institute) in 2008-2009.   You will hear more about RCLI in future posts.  But…here are my 2 shameless plugs.

RCLI is accepting applications for its 4th class – 2010-2011.

Annually, RCLI selects a diverse cross-section of young Christian leaders, age 25 – 40 (yes…they made an exception for me….I was definitely over 40!!!), to participate in a nine-month leadership development program that connects them with each other and equips them for biblically-grounded, Christ-centered service in the Richmond, Virginia region.

Beginning with the overnight retreat in September and continuing through their June commissioning ceremony, the “students” gather one Friday evening and Saturday each month to explore issues confronting our region and to consider them from a Christ-centered perspective.  A wide array of churches host these monthly sessions, providing a glimpse of the rich diversity of ways through which Christians worship and serve God.

Check out RCLI to apply!  (Link is also in the sidebar to the right!)   DEADLINE:  April 1, 2010.

Fritz Kling authors and publishes his first book!

RCLI is also the brainchild of Fritz Kling.  He recently wrote and released his first (of many, I hope!!!) books, The Meeting of the Waters. I can’t wait to purchase my own autographed copy!  Here’s the trailer….Enjoy!  May the Lord richly bless Fritz and his hard work and many late nights.  May God be glorified through his book!!!!!