Swirl. That describes what is going on inside my head right now.  Louis and I have been in a bit of a Swirl lately, but I think it’s going just a little faster after the last week. So much information, so many dreams and thoughts just swirling after 3 days at Exponential 10.  It is good to just relax, play and laugh after such an intense time.  Louis and I had an AMAZING afternoon at Aquatica yesterday.  Then, after a light dinner we took a dip in the hot tub and sat by the pool talking about what was going on in our heads and hearts…unpacking a little of what is swirling. (We are having to do that a little at a time.)  Now, today we are off to SeaWorld in a few minutes today.   Shamu!  Shamu!

So, you are probably wondering what is swirling around.  Let me give you a little peek.

We stayed with a large group of friends from the Titus Institute of Church Planting, who Louis met a few years ago at the conference.  So, most evenings we were able to hang out with other like-minded folks and talk about what we experienced.  In addition, we also got to spend time with Wayne Krause, Louis’ friend and church planter from Australia.  What a blessing it was to hang out with and chat with all of Louis’ old friends and getting to know some new ones as well.  I enjoyed this as much as I did hearing people like Shane Claiborne, Francis Chan, Mark Batterson, Matt Chandler (We are praying for you, Matt!!!), Neil Cole, Alan Hirsch, Louie Giglio, Ken Blanchard, Efrem Smith, Brenda Salter McNeil and sooo many others!!!

Francis Chan’s story was one of the most moving and convicting for Louis and me.  The video from the conference isn’t available just yet, but here is his sermon from Sunday when he discussed how the Lord has been moving in his life and the lives of his family recently.  It is very similar to what he talked about at Exponential.  I think many of us would agree that God is moving in a lot of us in a very similar way.  Sermon:  Surrender Listen to it and….welcome to the SWIRL!  Let me know if we aren’t alone in this….what you are thinking…

Swirling with the Lord, Mart

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The Word Became Flesh…

If you missed the last 2 posts…Change of Heart….Just in Time (3.18) and MGV – Barton and Roberts (3.19), you may want to read those first!

After reeling off my medical information, Louis was released from his job as first aid provider before I was.  He went to check on the kids.  I reminded him of the meat on the grill…which he had already thought of while on his way out of the house earlier.  (See how the Holy Spirit guided us through it all?!?!?)  It was funny when the paramedics asked if I was a nurse and I told them No…I got my medical training watching Marcus Welby and Medical Center as a child and ER as an adult.  My extensive medical expertise must have given it away.  🙂  I was finally released from my position and the paramedics took him away (it took 3 men to lift him on the gurney…as Frank was not a little guy!).

inside bullet hole at bottom of the stairs

Although the detectives wanted to speak to me right away, I was allowed to go inside and change my clothes.  When I entered into the house to head up the steps, I had a surprise waiting on me….a bullet hole under the window at the bottom of the steps.  Yes, a stray bullet came inside the house.  I am soo thankful that no one was climbing the steps at that time!!!  So now…we have experienced a little Law and Order, some ER and now we have CSI goin’ on.

While sitting at the dining room table talking to the detectives, I heard some wailing, screaming and crying outside.  I wanted to desperately go and console whoever it was, but needed to give my account of what had happened.  Later, I learned that it was Frank’s mom.

Nichelle, my neighbor and true sister, came over and sat with us on the front porch.  I am grateful for Nichelle, as she brought a peace along with her.  I called a few prayer warriors to cover us during this time. Although I left out a few of the details, I, surprisingly, called my mom as well and told her what was going on so that she could pray.  I was worried that it would make the news and didn’t want her to see it there.  But, I also didn’t want her to worry.

bullet hole from outside

After everyone was gone and it’s about 11:30pm, Louis and I finally get to eat our dinner…while standing up at the kitchen counter…eating our pork tenderloin with onions with our fingers.  You could tell the adrenaline was pumpin’!  This is when we both agreed that we HAD to go to the hospital.  So, Louis and I venture up to MCV.  If that was my brother, son, friend, husband, boyfriend…I would want to know what we knew.bullet hole from outside

It is in the Gateway Building of MCV that our relationship truly started to develop.  This is a story of racial reconciliation, a story of grace and mercy, a story of faith….

This true account is what gives me my life…and mission….scripture….

The Word became flesh…and moved into the neighborhood.

John 1:14 MSG  Holy Bible

MGV – Barton and Roberts

So…If you didn’t read yesterday’s post (Change of Heart…Just in Time) be sure to.  Otherwise, this one MIGHT not make a whole lot of sense.

I wonder…what would have happened if we decided to go out to dinner that night…or if we hadn’t gone out on Saturday night…or if I had in fact kicked Louis to the curb before this night….if I hadn’t given him another chance like my friends were encouraging….or if we had met back in the summer of 2007 instead of the end of December. ANY number of decisions could have changed the rest of this story…in SOOO many ways.  Personally…I’m thankful they turned out the way that they did.  So, I had a change in heart…just in time…for such a time as this.  To be there…the night Frank got shot…..4 weeks after Louis and I had our first date.

Let’s pick up there.

view from the breakfast nook window (Frank was between that pothole and the gutter)

It was about 8:30p on that Sunday night, January 27, 2008.  After seeing the crime from the breakfast nook window, Louis went running out the door…stepping off the retaining wall (this was b4 the fence was built) onto the sidewalk and into the curb where the victim laid.  He stopped and just looked at him for a moment…and I wondered…what is he doing?  And mentally screamed…Give him first aid!!!  I found out later that Louis was stopping to say a quick prayer before he did another thing. (Shame on me!!!)

I ran back into the house to grab some towels sitting on the dryer and some plastic grocery bags to use as gloves.  I had been first aid trained many years ago, but have never had the use for the training (gratefully).  Neither of us are medically trained, but we did have the Holy Spirit to guide us…and that was all the wisdom we needed!  Louis took his lower body and I took the upper body.  Frank was laying on his right side with his head in my lap.  Not knowing whether a bullet had hit his spinal column or not, I braced his head in my lap.  At that time, we found 3 wounds – left shoulder, gut and left leg.  Later we learned that he was shot 9 times – left shoulder, left leg, right upper chest, right hand, and 5 times in the gut.

view from the back door/deck

As he laid there while we attended to his injuries, I encouraged him and asked him a few pertinent questions ~ name, next of kin and her number, who shot him (he didn’t know), age, etc.  Only one other person came to his assistance, held his hand for a moment, prayed and ran back in the house.  I was so thankful for my neighbor!  No one else came.

Then, Frank stopped talking to me.  As his head laid in my lap, I encouraged him, prayed and stated, Frank…I know you are scared. I know that you are hurting.  But, we are here to help; and you are going to fine.  If you can’t say another word, just call on the name of Jesus.  There is power in just His name.  At this very second, Frank reached up with his left hand and grabbed my thigh.  I knew then…that he was calling on the precious, healing name of Jesus.  Frank would indeed live.

Although we had told the kids to stay inside, I remember looking up to see Lil Mike standing on the retaining wall looking down.  What a frightening scene for a 14-year-old to see up close.  Not to mention, I found out later that he knew Frank.  I yelled for them to get inside…only for them to move to the front porch where they could still see from a distance.

The first responders (police, fire department, and ambulance) started to arrive.  It was so surreal.  Watching over Louis’ shoulder as the yellow tape was strung and people started gathering behind it.  Fire Trucks. Police Cars. Sirens. ambulance. One officer gathered information from me while I was still with Frank.  The paramedics arrived; and I was able to given them vitals:


Satan meant for him to die, but our Lord.  He has other plans for Frank!

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.