I’m Baaaack!

It’s been while since I have written. Living life sometimes just gets in the way of writing. And writing sometimes gets in the way of living life. Life won out over writing. Many of you have asked why I’ve been radio silent lately. This will give you some insight into what we have been up to and why it’s been a bit quiet.  So…here’s what’s been happening since I really spent some time putting words to paper.

I’m overwhelmed by the support of our ministry since we gathered together for Jen Hatmaker in mid-August. She was a true delight to spend time with and was a welcomed guest in our home. Thanks to all of you who have reached out and shared your experiences, thots and life changes since we heard from Jen, as well as our other friends…

We are so thankful for the planning team and all the volunteers who supported the effort! What a blessing!

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Just as we were recovering from the weekend, Louis’s mom had several significant health issues that basically forced us to move her to Richmond (RVA) from Charlotte, NC. We are so grateful for her church family that have helped out over the years, but especially with her transition to RVA. 3 months later, we are attempting to settle into a rhythm again. Life hasn’t been easy for Mama Louise (Mama L, for short). In 3 months, she’s had a broken elbow, countless doctor’s appointments, 2 back surgeries with a total of 10 days in the hospital, multiple moves, and significant number of other changes including multiple diagnoses. We are soo glad that she was open to moving here where we can be closer to her and help provide for her care. I’m so grateful for the many friends (here and in Charlotte) who have come along side us as we continued to ‘do life’ in Southern Barton Heights and love on Mama L. I don’t know what we would have done without them. Seriously.

So, in a life where we intentionally live ‘on mission’ in our community, often times our family becomes our “mission”….our priority. This was much like last year (2013), when Louis had 3 joint replacements and I had an emergency gall bladder removal. We had to slow down significantly. Although it can be a difficult time for Mama L and for us, it is a blessing to serve her and those who take such good care of her.

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Mama L, Louis and his sister, Angela, visiting from Lake Tahoe

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Louis and Mama L

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Dear friend, Noelle (fancy hair stylist!), Me and Mama L after she got a hair cut and style.

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Mama L chillin’ with Louis and me as I finished a jig saw puzzle in her apartment.

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Our friend, Cherie, stopped by sporting our ITN T-Shirt!!! (Nice Photo Bomb!)

Halloween, as always, is an OUTRAGEOUS time at Miss Marti’s House. We are grateful for our friends and neighbors who came by. We also are sorry we didn’t get many pictures, though.
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We were thrilled to partner with Endorphin Fitness, who came out to hold a Bike Repair Clinic. We fixed up over 20 bikes in just 2 short hours. Not only that, we set up a circuit to got exercising as well. What a gift to the community! Truly. So thankful for our friends from Hope Church who continue to join us in a variety of ways!

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We celebrated Louis’s 24 Years of Ministry as an Ordained Minster of the Gospel with food and fellowship with a side of prayer around the fire pit. We welcomed friends and stories from the past and present! Thanks to the many friends who showed up and made this possible! Mama L even made it to the celebration!

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On Tuesdays at 4pm, we now host a kids club called H.I.S. Kids at Miss Marti’s House.

H = Hope    Where we share the Hope in Jesus Christ.

I = Inspire   Where we Inspire and Encourage the Kids in all they do – at home, at school in the present and the future.

S = Serve    Where we look for opportunities to Serve our neighbors.

At our first meeting, they made a list of rules to live by…

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And, we continue to meet together as a micro-expression of a missional church  – Life Transformation Church – every Tuesday evening…as we fellowship together, study God’s Word together, pray together, and do life together. I love this group of friends and spiritual family!

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Recently, new friends donated a minivan to our ministry! This is AWESOME news! It needs a little basic maintenance (a front end alignment and 2 new tires pretty soon), insurance, and other basic items before we can officially use it. But, we are thrilled to have an opportunity to provide tangible services to the community in the near future. We are calling this ministry – “Holy Rollers”, where we will be able to provide transportation to an affordable grocery store on a regular basis, doctors’ appointments, and jobs! We are in the very early stages of developing the plan with our community, and we are SUPER EXCITED!!!  More to come!IMG_1218

We have some upcoming community building times coming up. Feel free to join us!

**Tuesday, 12/2 6p
Glorious Christmas Nights Christmas Program at WEAG (Limited tickets available and are required to attend)

**Wednesday, 12/17 evening
Christmas Caroling with Restoration Church Youth

**Saturday, 12/20 10a-12noon
Happy Birthday, Jesus Christmas Party for Children of ALL ages!

**Thursday, 1/1/2015 10a-2p
Annual New Years Day Open House and Pancake Brunch

Thanks for your continued support and partnership! We are full of THANKS for your GIVING! Your gifts and donations help us with these and other upcoming ministries we have planned in 2015!

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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!

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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!

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I just love these kids – and the daily lives we live together.

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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

YES HE DOES!

Attended TEDxRVA with old and new friends. What a super fun inaugural event!

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Made our annual trek to Florida to visit ‘family’ in Miami and Orlando for a conference.

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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!

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Our Annual Community Memorial Day Cookout. Here >> Memorial Day Festivities

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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

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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.

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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! 🙂

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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!

BEFORE!!!

BEFORE!!!

AFTER!!!

AFTER!!!

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’

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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.

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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

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A big goal achieved!  A Certificate in Nonprofit Management from the Nonprofit Learning Point. Here >> SOOO Excited!

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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.)

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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

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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:

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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


A Night Unlike Most Other Nights

Revised 10.29.2013 11:57pm – Read here for an update on our prayer gathering and more >>>  New. Every. Morning.

Revised 10.29.2013 2pm – At 6pm tonight, we will be meeting in our front yard for prayer for our community and our city. Feel free to come!  2101 Barton Ave, RVA 23222

Tonight was a night NOT like most.  Our neighborhood has been riddled with different problems and challenges over the 8+ years I have lived here (and, of course, before as well).  But, the last few years, I have been so pleased with how calm things have been. How our community has been strengthened. Tonight, however…that has all been challenged when someone was shot in front of our home at 8:30 in the evening.  A bullet came in the front of the house, between the 2 windows above the couch – traveled through the living room and the dining room and into the back wall of the house.  All this as Louis and I sat in our customary chairs watching TV in the living room.  Meaning, the bullet went just a few feet in front of my eyes….1/2 way between me and the TV.

I am mad. I am angry. I am hurt (not physically of course). Yet, I am also grateful to God for his protection. I am thankful for the neighbors, friends and family who have checked in on us, have hugged us, called us, texted, FB’d, etc. It’s a real encouragement.

I am asking that you pray for me….especially for peace. It is not unusual at all for us to have folks enjoying an awesome night of good food and fellowship at our dining room table at 8:30 at night. It’s not unusual for us to have neighborhood kids and teens sitting on our couch or at our table doing homework, writing essays, watching the World Series, snacking on popcorn or chocolate chip cookies, etc. Our house is a house of peace…which I now feel has been violated.

This, of course, brought back memories from nearly 6 years ago when someone else was shot outside our home on the side street on Louis’s and my 4th date. The gunshot victim lived after being shot 9 times.  Praise God!  Tonight, yellow police tape hung around our house for the 2nd time.

I am asking that you pray for my community and others like it. As neighbors called and stopped by, everyone had a story about how bullets had at sometime entered their home by forces beyond their control. Pray for healing in our community.

I am asking that you pray for tonight’s victim and his family. Pray for the medical staff at MCV who is treating him.  I understand that he was shot once, and it wasn’t fatal.

I am asking that you pray for the shooter. That God will ‘arrest’ him/her even before the police do. That the shooter will ‘surrender’ his/her life to Jesus and find what he/she is looking for. That the shooter will turn himself in and seek the help he/she needs.

I am asking that you pray for the police and detectives, as they tirelessly work to solve these senseless crimes.

I am asking that you pray for our ministry and our friends. I know that these things often scare people away. We have youth and adults who join us in our ministry on a regular basis. Pray that this does not deter folks from wanting to love our community with us.

I am asking that you pray that God will work in and through us to bring glory to His name. May Jesus’ name be known through us during this time. That we won’t miss opportunities to minister to our neighbors. That this won’t be a distraction from our calling.

I am grateful to God for so much this evening. To name a few…

  • All of us are fine. God’s angel armies are camped around us and our home. I still praise God, regardless!
  • Terence was on restriction…although I really want some of his chocolate chip cookies!!!  🙂
  • Marques left just moments before the shoot occurred.
  • Shooting wasn’t fatal.
  • So many neighbors who came to love, support and hug.
  • So many friends who are praying, loving and supporting us via email, phone calls, texts, etc.
  • Quick and thorough response of our City’s finest.

And, now, I will answer the question that many of you are probably wondering. The same question we were asked last time a bullet came in the house.

“So…are you packing up your boxes yet?”

And our answer remains the same.

“No. Until God releases us to go or sends us some place else, we will stay.”  May God be glorified through this and through us.

For those who are curious…and want to see pictures….see below! Wonder what our insurance agent will say when we call tomorrow…

entry from the outside

entry from the outside

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up close entry from inside house

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from the living room

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the exit in the dining room beside the chalkboard