The harvest is plentiful…5 Things I Learned Planting My First Garden

Living a life of mission can be really rewarding some days.  But, many are just plain TOUGH! A constant struggle between the microwave, instantaneous society we live in, and the sometimes difficult, almost ALWAYS lengthy process of going deep and building relationships. Living a life of mission is to BE the church and DO the Bible. It’s not a drive-by, hit-and-run way of life. As a matter of fact, it is a way of life, not a one-time event or project. That’s what makes it so hard….and that’s what makes it so rewarding at the same time. With my new ‘eyes’, I can’t just go home and not see the challenges every. single. moment. of. every. single. day.  On days where it’s more challenging than most, it’s a matter of pausing from my ‘Martha’ activities and spending time going deep in my relationship with Jesus….it’s time to ‘Mary’.

This morning has been a ‘Mary Morning’. For reasons left untold, the last 24 hours have been tough – mentally and emotionally – for me. My ‘Mary Morning’ consisted of…

  • reading God’s Word
  • sitting quietly
  • cooking
  • a few emails/texts with friends encouraging and praying
  • gardening

Gardening…I recently learned that I really love gardening.  I knew NOTHING about it. Yet, God has revealed a lot to me through this gardening process…and especially this morning when I was playing in my veggie garden.

When planting a garden…

1.  It’s important to do a little research and take time to prepare. Friends would say – just throw it in the ground and see what happens….you can always dig it up, transplant it, throw it away when it dies. If you know me well enough, you would know that I’m not that person. I’m more thoughtful…doing research (ad nauseam)… trying to figure out the best way to do it…asking questions.  Total fear of failure! Louis did research on the best way and size to build the raised beds. H learned what he needed to do before he got started.  Measured 10x before he cut.

  • Living a Life of Mission –
    • Ask God questions like – where are you at work, God? how can I join you in what you are doing? what would you have me do in my community? where is my person of peace?
    • Ask your self questions seeking your motivation. We must first prepare ourselves… Someone once said… You must be a changed agent in order to be an agent of change.  Safety precautions are airplanes state to give yourself oxygen before you help someone else. We must first know who we are and whose we are before we can be sent out by God.
    • Ask the community questions like – If I brought coffee tomorrow, would you be interested in hanging out during soccer practice/ballet class/etc? What are your dreams for your children, community, family, life?  What keeps you up at night? Could you help me with….?

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2.  I actually had put off planting a vegetable garden, because it was something new…and I didn’t know where to start! I didn’t want to screw it up. I was afraid. I had to take a risk and just do it. After doing a little research and asking a few friends questions, Louis built me 2 4×10 beds (yeah…that’s not starting small….).  We threw down some newspaper and some dirt, and planted a few seedlings from Lowe’s. Wasn’t going to even try starting from seeds!

  • Living a Life of Mission –
    • Talk to some friends who are doing it. Ask questions. Watch them. Be willing to share your fear. You will learn they were afraid initially, too!
    • Start small. You don’t have to make it a big production….actually don’t make it big event. Work it into the everyday rhythms of your life…but yet it does require intentionality.  Pray for opportunities to be a blessing to someone because God gave you new eyes to see.

3.  I got a late start at gardening.  Louis and I didn’t plant our garden until the end of May. Friends have been reaping their harvest for weeks. Mine is just coming in. I came close to giving up and just waiting until the fall or even next year. Louis encouraged me by building them anyway…as my birthday gift. It was indeed a labor of love, because carpentry doesn’t come naturally to him.  He’s a plumber, car mechanic, electrician….not a carpenter.

  • Living a Life of Mission –
    • You aren’t meant to do this alone. In Luke 10:1, Jesus sent his disciples out in pairs….2×2 to prepare the way for Jesus to visit. Pray for the other half of your pair.
    • Call in reinforcements. I am grateful for my friends who join me in the journey.
    • It’s never too late to get started. Plant where you are. Plant where you go. Plant in good soil…where God is moving. It doesn’t matter when you start – just start.

my first tomato… we missed the harvest because we were out of town… 😦 It’s all about the timing…

4. Things go wrong.  Birds, deer, and bugs eat your potential bounty.  Bees don’t come to pollinate your flowers, so you have to change your approach.  Dogs dig up your plants… or in my case…eat my dirt. (Weird…I know…but Bella loves the rich, ‘meaty’ dirt!)  so you build a fence. Storms and hail  come and beat up your poor little plants. (I’m thankful that we planted late! The hail storm that came earlier wrecked some friends’ gardens.) And then…there’s the dreaded…ugly ‘dog vomit fungus’. Yes…true story…and it was GROSS!  It required tender, loving care..and removal of the fungus and adjusting the soaker hose.

  • Living a Life of Mission –
    • The enemy…Satan…seeks to discourage, kill and destroy. Yes. It is true. Be prepared. Our God is ALL POWERFUL!
    • Timing is everything. Sometimes it’s just not the right time. God’s timing is always right on time.  Trust Him.
    • Turn to the Lord. Trust that the Lord of the Harvest raises up laborers…He draws them near.
    • Christian community is often the fence around your new seedlings. Build a fence of support and community to protect your upcoming fence. Sunday morning church service isn’t enough. It needs to be closer, more intimate discipleship…tending, sowing truth, etc.

      Fungus Among-us

      Fungus Among-us


The creative fence Louis built to keep Bella out. Sunflowers and strawberries (5/30)

5. It takes time.  Plants take time to grow…some grow faster than others. There were a few moments I just wanted to give up…and let the beds go to weed. Some start slow and then take off like crazy. Some are weaker than others..and aren’t producing anything at all…and are almost dead.  No 2 plants are the same.  2 days ago I had a cucumber that was about 5 inches long. Today…it was about 9 inches, and I am eating it!

  • Living a Life of Mission –
    • Surround yourself with support and encouragement, too. You are not meant to be a lone ranger.
    • Tend to the garden…and to the gardener. Go to the Master Gardener who will tend to you.
    • Look for the little wins. Where God is at work.
    • Praise God in the difficult challenging times….and for the fruit of your labor!

A few scriptures that often encourage me…

Galations 6:9      Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Romans 5:3         Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings,because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. 
And Lastly…
Luke 10:2            Jesus told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” 

Time to get busy… Want to join the conversation on living on mission?

Check out this opportunity!

click the link below…

Living On Mission


Enjoying the first fruits of our labor

Drive-by Joy

Louis and I are SOOOO grateful for your love and support! The candy drops and the financial support has been nothing short of AHHHHHmazing.  Thank you. (In case you have missed what we are doing, check out these 2 links… Easter Fun! and Choosing Love)

Louis made it out on his first Drive-by Joy with me over the weekend. I think he was a little hesitant at first. But, now, he has a new BFF.


You see generosity and giving come more naturally to me. I love to give! But, it didn’t take Louis long to join in on the Joy Bombing of North Ave, Brookland Park Boulevard, Chamberlayne, Meadowbridge – on our way to visit one friend who just got out of the hospital and new friend who in Regional Memorial Hospital for the last few weeks. We were able to Joy Bomb some folks in the hospital parking lot, which was AWWWWESOME!


Yes, I was relegated to the back seat of the car, as the Easter Bunny had to sit up front! But, the best yet…was going through the Mechanicsville ChicFilA drive thru, where we Joy Bombed the employees!  But, pulling out of the drive-thru we spotted the Dugai’s in the parking lot!!!  As we drove by, the kids were saying to their parents… “Hey….there’s the Easter Bunny!!!”. Carrie asked “What color car is it?” “Red”, they responded.  They quickly stopped to greet us with huge hugs! What a treat! Guess who wanted to be the Bunny???

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Due to the recent rain and chilly weather, I’ve missed a couple of days. Can’t wait to get back out there. Who wants to go with me???

This. Here.

What a terrific day for an Easter Egg Hunt!

WHY, you ask?

This. Here.  

Sun Shining! Birds chirping! Kids laughing! Candy! Cupcakes! Friends!  Games! Bunny!


We started the morning by playing a game similar to an old school Cake Walk, while we waited for everyone to arrive.  Old friends and new streamed in throughout the morning. It’s always so good to see old friends and make new ones on days like this. LOVE IT!

Photo Cred: Rachel Loughlin

Photo Cred: Rachel Loughlin

Shortly after the Easter Bunny arrived, we had a photo shoot on the front porch. People typically keep the photos digitally these days, right? I still like my old school prints, and I have learned that the kids LOVE to have their own photos. So, we will now print out pictures for the kids to have their own photos.

Do you have any idea how hard it is to get a good shot of everyone???  :)

Do you have any idea how hard it is to get a good shot of everyone??? 🙂

After sitting still for so long, the kids were ready to go on an Egg Hunt!


Once all the eggs were found or at least we think so anyway (Bella will probably find one in the next week.), we paused to hear the Good News story of Easter, as told through Resurrection Eggs.  Cherie and Ashley did an OUTSTANDING job!




And a party just wouldn’t be the same without the sweet treats…cupcakes, donuts, lemonade!

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Louis and I so appreciate the donations that allow us to be able to do this.  For the pictures, the candy, the prizes, cupcakes, donuts and more! For the folks that pitched in to help…we thank you…IMMENSELY.  We are grateful for the quiet time of chillin’ with sweet friends afterwards. Although we don’t see them often, we thank God for the gift of our spiritual family and friends. And time to relax and catch up…picking up where we left off last…although the baby is now a toddler who walks, talks, climbs and giggles.

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If you wonder why we celebrate Easter…Resurrection Day, it’s not because of the yummy chocolate candy, the good food or even the good fellowship.

We love to celebrate Easter with old friends and new.

Why, you ask?

This. Here.

We were created by a loving God to be in relationship with Him.

But we sinned and cut ourselves off from Him.

In His great love,

God became man in Jesus,

         who lived a perfect life,

         and died on the cross.

He rose again from the dead.

He calls us to trust in Him alone. If we trust in Christ,

we live a new life

and have renewed our relationship with God again.


This is why we celebrate Easter…

because Jesus lives.



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!


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!

God has everything under control


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! 🙂

marques b2s

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:

santa, louis and me

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

How Much Love Inside a Friend? – Shel Silverstein

When you think about your friends, some are friends for life, others for a season and some for minute. Some know you super well.  Others know you inside and out. And more that you are just getting to know.  Friendships take 2 people. It can’t be one-sided friendships….well not for long anyway. I am blessed to have the best friends in the world. I know…we could ALL say that. But, really – I have the best! But, my friends come from different parts of my life, and they don’t necessarily know each other. When I took the StrengthsFinder 2.0 assessment a couple of years ago, connectedness was…and is…my number one strength. I love to connect thoughts and people together.

Marti's 50th Invite


So…for my 50th birthday…I wanted to get my girlfriends together…for an evening of relaxation, giggles, laughter, conversation and of course, good food. Louis recruited several of his guy friends to join him in prepping, cooking, and serving us dinner in an outdoor garden party. (Side note: THEY TOTALLY ROCKED IT! and worked sooo hard! Much thanks!)

Louis asked me what I wanted for my birthday.  I wanted my gift to be a gift to these ladies. They have loved, supported, listened to me, cried with me, prayed with me, lent me an ear and a shoulder. They have giggled with me, laughed right out loud with me, introduced me to Louis, took me to Romania, shared their kids with me, been on road trips with me, worked with me, been my family, smacked me silly (when I needed it)…. I could go on and on.

There were some who couldn’t attend….and they were missed tremendously.  In retrospect, there are some friends I regret not inviting, but I know they are my true friends…and will forgive me for my omissions.

How many slams in an old screen door? Depends how loud you shut it.

How many slices in a bread? Depends how thin you cut it.

How much good inside a day? Depends how good you live ’em.

How much love inside a friend? Depends how much you give ’em.

― Shel Silverstein

I am overflowing with love because of the love that has been given to me over the last 50 years.  My friends have loved me well. Hopefully that night, some spilled out and filled your cup.  To my friends…near and far, new and old, young and old… I love you.  Looking forward to the decades to come! Thanks for making it a great night!

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Letter to My Friends

Letter to My Friends

Family and Friends

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There has been a ton going on!!!  We’ve been so busy that we really haven’t had time to blog about it!  So, I will get you caught up….but in no certain order!  Just random posts about what has been going on the last month!  Although our calendar has been full of serving our community (and a few persecutions by some who don’t necessarily like what we are doing in the name of Jesus!), we had a awesome time relaxing with our family.

My aunt Pat (I call her Aunti Patti) came for a visit from Oregon in early July and stayed with us.  On Friday night of her visit, we had a bunch of friends over so Pat could see them all at once.  It was a wonderful time to catch up with long-time (note… I did not say OLD!!!) friends (and their kids who have grown up soooo fast!!!) who I haven’t seen in too long.  Although, I hope that we will all do a better job of staying on touch! I didn’t get nearly as many pictures as I had hoped to!

In addition, my sister Rebecca and Nat, my nephew, came to visit!  It was a great time of catching up with family!  Louis and I even managed to take Nat and Madison (my local niece) to Water Country USA on one of those 100+ degree days! And…we managed to make it to our first Squirrels game….we won!!!  And…we had chill time with family in Mom and Dad’s back yard. I can’t believe I didn’t get a pic of my sister!!!  Argh!

Last Sunday, we also had a wonderful time of fellowship with The Walkers, who are long-time friends of Louis’ and missionaries in Panama, Brenda’s home country.  We, again, had a gathering to provide Chris and Brenda an opportunity to share the work they are doing in Panama and Chris’ online ministry, Evangelism Coach.  We had a great time meeting some new people, as we welcomed their friends into our home.  We also had a special time of prayer for the Walker Family as they serve the Lord in Panama.  (This time, I realized I got no pics of the kids…dag.)

OK….the last family/friend night….was in Charlotte, NC, Louis’ old stompin’ grounds. Right after he wrapped up his Math Degree (yes…I said MATH!!!) at Davidson, Louis served in a church across the street from Piedmont Court, one of Charlotte’s project.  He and a friend, Richard, bought a house together and lived and served there for about 5 years.  Richard lives in that same house and until recently, continued to serve that same community even though the projects had since been torn down and replaced with mixed income housing.

While assisting with his mom as she continued to heal from her knee replacement, Louis was able to reconnect with Richard.  And on our last trip to Charlotte, I was able to meet his long-time ministry partner who I had heard sooo much about.  Meet Richard…a man I have grown to love and respect….and appreciate for his sound advice. (And, Ladies…he’s single!!!!

We are sooo blessed to have friends and family who love us…and whom we love!  Being in ministry can sometimes be tough…and discouraging…but, God has blessed us with wonderful, loving, and caring family and friends with whom we can fellowship…and just chill!  We are glad to have done that…a lot…in July.