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.




Walk Down Memory Lane

Since moving to Southern Barton Heights, I have more anniversaries than I ever thought I could.  So many memories. So many reasons to PRAISE GOD!

So many reminders that…

  • God protects us.
  • God is in control.
  • there’s power in the name of Jesus.
  • there’s healing in the name of Jesus.
  • God cares for every. living. soul.
  • obedience is key.
  • Jesus is the Word that became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood. (John 1:14 MSG) and…
  • as Jesus Followers, Louis and I are called to our neighborhood.
  • being a Jesus Follower isn’t the safest place to be on earth and IS absolutely the safest place to be…all at the same time!
  • and…it’s totally worth it!

This week is another ‘anniversary’ that I will never forget! This time 6 years ago, Louis and I had been out like maybe 5 times in 4 weeks. So, we barely knew each other, and I wasn’t quite sure that I liked him…until January 26th – the date when I met Louis’ friends. That’s the night I decided I liked him.  It was following weeks that I learned I really needed to consider him seriously.  The next night, Frank got shot 9 times outside my back door and a bullet came in the house.  Much to the surprise of everyone, Louis came back!  Never hear this story? or want to hear it again, keep reading and check out the links below.   If you are wondering where we got the name of our ministry Into The Neighborhood, read these links for that story, too!

Side note:

This is the first song I heard this morning, while I was busy cooking breakfast for Louis and me.  I was reminded again, that Frank is only alive today because he called on the GREAT NAME OF JESUS. As tears rolled down and dripped in the bacon, I praised God for his goodness, his healing, his tender loving care.  It took me back to that night…. January 27, 2008 at 8:30pm when Frank was shot 9 times – right chest, left shoulder, left thigh, right hand and 5 times to the gut. The night that Louis and I met Frank we also gave him first aid.  By the time the paramedics arrived that night, Frank was only breathing once a minute and had no pulse. I assured him that we weren’t leaving him.  I prayed with him and shared that there was power in the name of Jesus. And if he called on Jesus’ name, he would be healed. Frank couldn’t talk at that point, but he did grab my thigh.  I knew he was all good.  Just as the lyrics say….”Sick are healed, and the dead are raised. At the sound of Your Great Name”  (Rest of the lyrics are at the bottom of this post.)


This is what Louis and I were doing 6 years ago this week.  Happy Reading!

Change of Heart…Just in Time

MGV – Barton and Roberts

The Word Became Flesh…

The Next Day Part 1

The Next Day Part 2

The Next Day Part 3


Your Great Name Lyrics
Performed by Natalie Grant

Lost are saved; find their way; at the sound of Your Great Name
All condemned; feel no shame; at the sound of Your Great Name
Every fear; has no place; at the sound of Your Great Name
The enemy; he has to leave; at the sound of Your Great Name

Jesus, worthy is the Lamb that was slain for us
Son of God and man you are high and lifted up; that all the world will praise Your Great Name

Verse 2
All the weak; find their strength; at the sound of Your Great Name
Hungry souls; receive grace; at the sound of Your Great Name
The fatherless; they find their rest; at the sound of Your Great Name
Sick are healed, and the dead are raised. At the sound of Your Great Name

Jesus, worthy is the Lamb; that was slain for us
Son of God and man; you are high and lifted up
that all the world will praise Your Great Name.
Your Great Name.

Redeemer, my Healer; Lord Almighty
My Savior; Defender; you are my King
Redeemer; my Healer; Lord Almighty
My Savior; Defender; you are my King

Happy Birthday, Jesus! Christmas Party

In 2010, we held a Birthday Party for Jesus at a local church. Check it out here >>2010 Birthday Party  This year, we decided to host another one…at home. We are grateful that Santa has already provided a YES to our invitation!

For an update from me and Louis, check this out too>> 2013 Louis and Marti Update


The Story

Have you ever wondered…

How did the world begin?  Why is it the way it is?  How will everything end?  Is there any hope?  

or, why is our world full of pain, disease, poverty?

It wasn’t always this way.

Now you can learn the answers to these questions and more!  View at this link The Story or click the picture above.  If you have questions, let me know!



Weekly Thursday Gathering

I just love our weekly gathering.  Some would call it a small group….others….a bible study….more might call it a missional community or a life group.  Whatever you want to call it…I LOVE it!  It started as a group of people from Commonwealth Chapel who met together for what we call Missional Community…where we did fellowship, read the Bible and prayed together.  In addition…we would do things to meet the needs of our community.  In this case, Southern Barton Heights.

So here we are…a couple of years later…and our group now consists of mainly our friends from the community…and just a couple of people from church.  We experience real life together.  We have gone through really hard things together…unemployment, drug and alcohol addictions, family “stuff”…and we have gone through the good things as well…employment!  New cars!  Sobriety!  New people and friends!  New homes!  I can’t imagine life without my Thursday night gathering of friends…my Spiritual Family, who encourage me from one day to the next, who call me out when I’m not being real, who love me even when I mess up!  I could go on and on!

We meet every Thursday night from 6-8pm.  Or…something like 8pm.  We are guilty of going til 8:30 or later…becasue we enjoy each other so much.  But, people are free to scoot if they need to.  If you want to come…and join us in real talk…real life….and learn about Jesus…we welcome you!  We eat together (covered dish style) at 6-7p…while we also talk about what is happening in our lives.  Then, we spend time talking about what God has to say to us through the Word…also known as the Bible.  We close with some prayer…for our concerns, our community, and our city.

Starting the first week of January, we will be talking through the Seven Signs in John. Come and  join us and bring a friend!


“it’s a dangerous thing to let Jesus use your boat.” Bob Lupton

The below article was taken from Urban Perspectives blog from FCS Urban Ministries in Atlanta, GA.  It’s the story of Luke 5.  This is my prayer!  This is my hope, desire and dream for Richmond, VA…especially for Southern Barton Heights/Northside.  Lord, may it be so.  But, in the meantime…are you willing to let Jesus use YOUR boat??? What IS your “boat”? Keep reading…

Let’s Go Fishing

June 2010

by Bob Lupton, June 2010

No one knows fish like a commercial fisherman.  When your livelihood is dependent on your daily catch, you become an expert in the habits and appetites of edible species.  You study spawning seasons, migration patterns, the tides, the weather – anything to calculate the optimal time to cast off for a productive expedition.  But as all fishermen know, fish are elusive creatures.  With all the best intelligence, catching them is still a matter of chance.

Simon was a fisherman.  He and his two partners, James and John, owned a small commercial fishing fleet that afforded them a modest living.  They had been out all night dragging their heavy nets but pulling in nothing.  Discouraging toil but necessary.  It was, after all, a game of odds.  And years of experience had taught them that at this time in the fishing calendar the odds of a catch diminished with the rising of the sun. Time to call it a day, or a night, rather.

They had pulled their boats up onto the shore and had just begun cleaning the seaweed out of their nets when a noisy gathering of town folk came pushing and shoving down the beach.  The crowd was attracted by the provocative speech of a young Galilean.  Rumors were this young teacher was a new prophet on the scene – some even said he might be the long awaited messiah.  Everyone was pressing in for a look.  The young teacher, spying the idle boats, motioned to Simon to push one off shore a few feet to give him a little separation from the jostling crowd.  Simon obliged and the teacher continued his speech using Simon’s boat as a floating platform.

When his speech ended and the crowd disbursed, the young teacher expressed his gratitude to Simon for the use of his boat.  And then offered a most unusual suggestion.  No, it was more than a suggestion, more like an order.  “Give it another try, Simon, out there in the deep water.”  It was not a particularly welcome request.  The teacher may have been alive with morning energy, probably had a good night’s sleep, but Simon was spent.  The last thing he wanted to do was load up his soggy net again and row out into the lake.  But then, who knows, maybe this Galilean was a sure-enough prophet after all.  Maybe he knew something Simon didn’t.  Reluctantly Simon consented.  Motioning to his helper to give him a hand, they dragged the half-cleaned net back onto the boat and shoved off from shore.

They rowed out to where Gennesaret’s water turned an inky blue-green and dropped the net over the side. No sooner had it disappeared below the surface than a furious tugging began.  It was the kind of tension a fisherman recognizes well, the kind of pulling a fisherman’s dreams are made of.  “Pull! Pull!”  Simon roared.   In moments the net was bulging with fish, so many they could barely drag it up over the side.  The bottom of the boat was literally alive with a flipping, flopping mass fish.  Another cast of the net produced the same results.  “Get out here fast!” Simon bellowed to James and John who were still on shore cleaning their nets.  In a few frantic minutes both crews were hauling in nets literally bursting with fish, so many fish that the sheer weight threatened to sink their boats.  Never in their entire fishing careers had they landed a catch to equal this one.  Never.

When the boats were eased back to shore, top-heavy with precious cargo that would bring a record return from the fish merchants, the impact of the episode began to sink in.  Simon’s first reaction, once he caught his breath and wiped the sweat from his face, was profound embarrassment.  “Master.”  That’s about all he could get out. This had to be the messiah, and what disrespect he had shown him!  “Just leave,” Simon motioned, staring down at the sand in humiliation.  “You don’t want to associate with a sinner like me.”

“Oh, that’s alright, Simon,” the Teacher responded with a smile.  “You’ve got some bigger fish than this to catch. Come on, I’ll show you.”   And that’s when Simon the commercial fisherman became Peter the fisher of men.

It’s a dangerous thing to let Jesus use your boat, even for a morning.  It can end up costing you far more than you bargained for.  Just ask Peter.  Lend Jesus an idle asset (like a beached boat or unused office space or a bit of your schedule) and it can open you up to a whole new life.  Take Jack Morse, successful real estate developer, who lent our ministry a little bit of his unused credit capacity to purchase and rehab a vacant apartment complex for affordable housing.  It was a small deal for Jack.  At first.  And then he uncovered the need for a decent grocery store in the neighborhood.  He got drawn in a little deeper.  And then arose the opportunity to transform a nearby public housing project from a killing field to a healthy community, a daunting challenge.  In the end, Jack walked away from his boat and nets to devote full-time to redemptive work in the city.  As I said, it’s a dangerous thing to let Jesus use your boat.

It’s dangerous, yes, but ask Peter or Jack or any of a handful of successful business people you know who have been lured into a Jesus-mission and you will hear a similar response.  “I-had-no-idea.”  That’s what you’ll hear.  You may hear words like “challenging” or “consuming” or “frustrating” or “inspiring”.  But there is one word you will not hear.  “Regret.”  Go ahead.  Ask them.  Ask Tom Cousins who converted a defunct golf course into a cash cow that transformed the ghetto community of East Lake.  Or David Allman who leveraged his assets and influence to take on poverty in Nicaragua.   Ask them or any of the others you know who have taken the risk of lending Jesus an idle asset and you’ll get the same story.  Life has never been the same.



I know I owe you guys the rest of the story…and I will pick it up soon….I promise! Coming soon!!!

Recently, I have been borderline obsessed with listening to the David Crowder Band….anything and everything I can get my hands on!  This song especially has been speaking to me.  Like me, there are many of us who are struggling with the stuff that this earthly life brings…..job loss, death, uncertainty, addictions, depression, loss of childhood, abuse, cancer, financial strain, prison, lack of identity, sickness, weakness, relationship issues and strife, etc.

This songs serves to remind me…and YOU that He never lets go…..He is with you (and me) always. anywhere. everywhere.  He’s got you! 24.7.365.