After a day of loving our community with Hope Church on Saturday, I am left asking myself and God a lot of questions the last few days. We had a lot of great conversations while we worked and processed afterwards. I love, love, love to ask the question “Why?”. Sometimes it can be quite a frustrating question to ask. When I know the WHY behind something, then (and sometimes ONLY THEN) I can grasp it. Sometimes we know the why in the moment. Sometimes we have to wait a while to learn why. Sometimes we have to wait until heaven to learn the answer to a question that we long to know. But, there’s nothing like knowing the WHY behind a situation right in the moment. If God truly cares about the details of my life, then these are questions I need to ask Him and myself regularly…
Why do I live where I live?
Why am I planted where I am planted?
Why do I work where I work?
Why am I married to the person I am married to?
For some it might be, Why do I go to the school that I go to? the tennis club, the whatever?
Regardless of the way we really want to answer those questions, if we are followers of Jesus, the honest answer SHOULD be – to glorify God. In the simplest of forms…keeping the ‘Main Thing’ the ‘Main Thing’, we live to Love God. Love others. And make disciples who make disciples. So, we don’t have to add anything extra to our calendars to fulfill this mission…God’s mission. It’s a matter of living on God’s mission in our everyday, walk-around lives….with intentionally. So, the questions, the prayers then become…
How do I love (and serve) God and love (and serve) others where I live?
How do I love (and serve) God and love (and serve) others where I go to school?
How do I love (and serve) God and love (and serve) others where I work?
How do I love (and serve) God and love (and serve) my spouse?
How do I love (and serve) those who look, act, and think different than I do?
How do I love (and serve) God and others in my everyday, walk around life?
Your life…my life… has purpose and meaning. So much more than going through the rote motions of getting up, eating breakfast and packing lunches, going to work or class, fixing dinner, playing tennis, taking your kids to a swim meet, walking the dog, fixing the brakes on the car, having a drink or ice cream with a friend, attending the PTA or civic association meeting, etc.
- we were doing all these things not to simply check the box …going through the motions, but to intentionally pour ourselves out – loving our neighbors, spouses, colleagues, teachers, employees, grocery clerks, friends, frenemies and enemies as ourselves.
- we went to bed at night with the attitude of ‘last man standing’ out-serving one another – not in a competitive way, but in a genuinely loving way only because that is what God called us to do. Jesus was sent to serve, not be served. Then, he sent us to do the same.
- we, as those who profess to be followers of Jesus, actually believed and acted like King Jesus was really on the throne…was really in control… and that all things really do work together for my good.
That’s my wish…my desire… to live my life with intentionality, out-serving one another, believing and acting like Jesus is King of my life and He has my best interest in mind….and that all things (good, bad and otherwise) work together for my good. I may not understand the why…. but I will trust him.
How can I love (serve) you today?
A few days ago, I shared about our Spiritual Family in Spiritual Family: Where We Are the Church and Do the Bible. In addition to that gathering, we have a weekly gathering for the youth as well called HIS kids where we focus on 3 things…
HOPE – The hope of Jesus Christ.
INSPIRE – Encourage and inspire the next generation.
SERVE – Giving back to the community through serving- like assisting neighbors and picking up trash.
These kids decided that they want to raise money for other activities throughout the summer The first thing they want to do is buy and cook dinner for our Tuesday Night Church gathering. Typically, we have a covered dish, but they want to make dinner and serve it their Spiritual Family. Please join us in supporting their servant’s heart by buying a cup (or 10 cups!!!) of lemonade on Saturday between 11a-2p. And you can also donate online on our link to the right!!!
Do us a favor, please. Share this with your friends!
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
- a few emails/texts with friends encouraging and praying
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….?
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.
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.
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.
Time to get busy… Want to join the conversation on living on mission?
Check out this opportunity!
click the link below…
Living on mission for Louis and I means we look for reasons to gather people together. We look for ANY reason to party, celebrate, honor, connect, and especially eat! I think we should party a lot more. It doesn’t have to be fancy, expensive or difficult. I’m not talking about the getting drunk kind of party. What I mean by partying is living a full and abundant life, a memorable life…meaning a life full of good people, good food, good memories.
Today, we had that kind of time as we gathered to party…to celebrate the life of one special dog ~ Wesley, a dog who was well-loved and loved well.
So…How do you throw a memorial service for your beloved dog??? Here’s what we did…
Yesterday, we threw a sign in the front yard, so our neighbors would know about our loss…
Earlier today, I texted some the neighborhood kids as a reminder. Today at 2pm, for about an hour and a half, we gathered…
colored pictures of dogs and children with dogs (found by googling ‘dog coloring pages’)…
ate cupcakes with flowers, because a memorial service isn’t the same without flowers (and milk bones for the 4-legged guests!) (Sam’s Club totally comes through!)…
we talked about some of our favorite memories of Wesley…
and everyone left with a picture of Wesley. If possible, it was a picture of themselves with Wesley. (I uploaded pictures to Walgreens.com this morning, used a coupon code; and we were picking them up an hour or so later!)
Louis read a comforting scripture from Isaiah 11:
6 In that day the wolf and the lamb will live together;
the leopard will lie down with the baby goat.
The calf and the yearling will be safe with the lion,
and a little child will lead them all.
7 The cow will graze near the bear.
The cub and the calf will lie down together.
The lion will eat hay like a cow.
8 The baby will play safely near the hole of a cobra.
Yes, a little child will put its hand in a nest of deadly snakes without harm.
9 Nothing will hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain,
for as the waters fill the sea,
so the earth will be filled with people who know the Lord.
We decided that if there are wolves, lambs, cubs, calves, cows, and more in heaven – there must be dogs, too! And we prayed together.
We ended our time together watching the video, which brought back lots of great memories of parties, halloween, dogs washes, back yard dog parks, and more! If you missed the video, you can catch it here…this woMan’s Best Friend. Some of us got teary again. And, that’s ok. Grieving is a process, no doubt.
Huge thanks to all who came; and a VERY special thanks to Otis and Banks who came to keep Bella company. Here’s Banks!
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!
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!
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
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
Our annual front yard Halloween gathering! I think the pictures speak for themselves! We had a blast and had a record number of neighbors and friends – old and new, young and old – who came by! It got so busy we couldn’t keep up with picture-taking and candy-giving.
What a great evening for chillin’ on the front porch with the ones you love! I wouldn’t trade this night for anything.
Last night, I struggled to go to bed and to sleep, but at 2am I finally reached a point where I had pretty much finished processing, crying, fussing at God, crying some more, and much more. Especially as I thought about the many evenings I have spent on our front porch, at our dining room table, playing wii in front of the TV with a house full of youth and friends.
Side note: Louis treated me to hot chocolate chip cookies, since Terence hadn’t been around! Gotta love him for doing that for me!!! (Terence – your cookies are still the best!!!)
If you have no idea what I am talking about, then you missed my last post…check it out here>>> A Night Unlike Most Other Nights.
This morning I woke up well rested and with a fresh perspective. God’s mercies are new…every. single. morning. Instead of feeling defeated, hopeless, mad, and lacking peace, I awakened a new person! I thank God Almighty for hearing and answering your prayers and mine! I felt peace that passes ALL understanding.
I was reminded that we live in a dark, sinful, wretched, fallen world that is in DESPERATE need of a Redeemer and a Savior! We need Jesus. I need Jesus. Jesus is the only answer to what plagues our community. And we are in desperate need of a move of the Holy Spirit…of individual and community transformation.
I woke up with a greater desire and almost a compulsion to share about Jesus and Him crucified. I woke up with courage and boldness to cover our streets, our homes, our children, our community, our city in prayer.
So, tonight…at 6pm, Louis and I held a Community Prayer Service in front of our home – at the corner of Barton and Roberts. We had 30+ people (old friends and new from the community and from other parts of the city) praying bold and outrageous prayers covering our streets, our corners, our homes, our children, our community in the name of Jesus. Not only did we pray for our community, but we also spent time just praising and thanking the Lord for His protection, for His blessing, for HIs goodness and faithfulness, and so much more. We ended our time together singing…
In the name of Jesus, in the name of Jesus
We have the victory.
In the name of Jesus, in the name of Jesus
Satan will have to flee.
Tell me who can stand before us
When we call on this great name
JESUS, JESUS, JESUS, JESUS
We have the victory!
Our community grew tighter tonight, as we prayed and believed together….as folks just lingered and talked afterwards. We also had a time of individual prayer with one man who wants a new start in life. He’s been shot 5 times over the years and struggles with a lot. We are claiming a victory…in the name of Jesus!
At the end of the evening, I learned something new that I did not know before. I learned the name of the victim. Again…another young man I have known since shortly after moving to SBH. One who has been in and out of my house when he was in middle school, but now about 18 or 19. One who was in our wedding nearly 5 years ago. One who I love, but Jesus loves more.
Come, Lord Jesus. Come.
Nuggets, learnings, questions from the first day of school morning…
As I posted yesterday in Wheels on the Bus Go ‘Round and ‘Round, it is my attempt to “love my neighbor” by greeting them at the bus stop on the first day of school.
Wow! What a morning! Here we go…
#1 – As ridiculous as it may sound, I used the car in order to make it to as many as possible. With this kind of schedule….I couldn’t see another way.
6:44 North and Poe 29
7:32 Poe and Lamb 4
7:33 North and Poe 4
7:34 North and Roberts 9
7:35 Poe and Lamb 15
7:40 Dove and Barton 23
Total – 84
#2 – Why does the bus stop every 1-2 blocks for Henderson? Really? 7:32, 7:33, and 7:34? It takes more than a minute to safely stop the bus, load the kids, and drive the block to the next stop. Does it have to do with where the kids live and how far they have to walk?
#3 – It’s soooo NOT cool to greet the High Schoolers at the bus stop in the morning. Yet, they should at least appreciate the fact that I got my butt up this early to do so! 🙂 My compromise…I went straight to their house…and promised to NOT post pictures. Last first day of High School for one. And first day of High School for the other. You know who you are….and I love you.
#4 – It’s interesting how small groups form at the bus stop. At the intersection of North and Poe – Poe T’s into North. There were small groups on all 3 corners, even on the wrong side of the street. Wonder if there is a reason for that. The ‘arranger’, ‘efficiency nut’ and ‘connector’ in me wanted to get them all organized and talking to one another. (I know…I’m a freak!)
#5 – There are a lot of great and loving moms and dads out there who ensure their children get to the bus stop safe and sound!
#6 – Elementary Bus Stop – I found myself saying, “Scissors are NOT a toy! Please put those in your backpack.”
#7 – Some kids missed the bus on their first day of school. I pray that this is not a foreshadow of what is to come.
#8 – Kids really want to learn!
#9 – It was hard to get up this early (insert whine here!), and I didn’t have to pack lunches, wake kids, make sure they ate breakfast, brush their teeth, grabbed their book bag and their lunch, dressed appropriately and more! I just rolled outta bed and into whatever clothes I took off yesterday. (Real Truth!)
#10 – I need to pray more for the children and their parents, the teachers, school staff, bus drivers, homeschool parents, and all who work with these young, bright, eager people.
Let’s see how it goes this afternoon when I’m back out there! Say a prayer for me, will ya’?
Tomorrow all over the metro RVA area, we will see the yellow school buses transporting our future doctors, plumbers, lawyers, bankers, mechanics, secretaries, pastors, recruiters, store clerks, teachers, school board members, mayors and city councilpersons, social workers, construction workers, etc. back to school. Let’s keep them in our prayers…and all that will be involved in their education!
Some kids will be going to school for the first time. The rising 6th graders and freshman will no longer be the BMOC, but will be back on the ‘bottom’ at their new schools. Others have moved and will be going somewhere completely new…maybe even across town where they don’t know anyone…or may not know English. Those who didn’t successfully pass last year, but have a new chance at making it through successfully. Some will be donning their new “Back To School” clothes, while others are wearing something from last year or a hand-me-down. The backpacks will weigh heavily full of all their new school supplies, although some will be without. The bullied may be fearful. The bully is puffing up. The teachers, bus drivers, administrative staff, janitors, and cafeteria staff have all prepared for this day. And we are so grateful for them!
It’s a day with many mixed emotions after a fun-filled summer. So, tomorrow… I plan to get up SUPER early and walk to my neighborhood bus stops to wish the youth well on their first day. I will pray with them and encourage the parents that are waiting with their children. I also plan to meet the bus tomorrow afternoon to celebrate the first day of school with snacks and goodies. I can’t say that I will do that every day, but I hope to do it more often than I have in the past.
It’s a simple way to get to know and love my neighbors and to encourage our future generations.
Anyone willing to do the same in YOUR neighborhood???
I would LOVE to hear about how it goes and learn from you!
Important Note: Please be sure to drive carefully as you go to work, the gym, etc. tomorrow morning…and every morning. Watch for those kiddos as they wait for the bus! And remember to leave some extra time in your commute!