New. Every. Morning.

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.


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


Trick-or-Treat 2013

Halloween 2013


What I Learned on the “First Day of School” Morning

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.

John Marshall  

6:44                North and Poe             29

Henderson   

7:32                Poe and Lamb               4

7:33                North and Poe               4

7:34                North and Roberts        9

Overby     

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’?


Wheels on the Bus Go ‘Round and ‘Round

schoolbus

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!


To Give…or Not to Give

revised on 8.24.2013 due to some major typos!

The Amazing Raise 2013, GiveRichmond.com’s 36-hour giving challenge, is right around the corner from 6am on Wednesday, September 18 through Thursday, September 19! IMPORTANT NOTE: This is NOT a request to give! 🙂 But, I have already started receiving emails, tweets, FB messages, videos, FB likes and shares, letters and postcards, and more telling me how I should give to different non-profits.

Plea. After. Plea.

One. Right. After. The. Other.

Soon, I will be asked to give at a certain time, possibly at 2am, to help a non-profit win a specific dollar amount. Fun! (insert sarcasm here).

I have a confession…it really makes me want to scream. Really. Loud. But, before you judge…please keep reading!

My primary God-given gift is ‘GIVING’. If you don’t believe me, ask Louis. He will tell you. We’d be broke (LOL) if he didn’t put the brakes to my natural giving tendency. My thoughts…It’s not mine anyway. It’s all on loan to me…to steward on behalf of God; and I really want to be a good steward of what He has given to us. So…how in the world do I decide where to give??? That’s the part that makes me want to SOL (Scream Out Loud). To make it harder, this year…we are on a MUCH tighter budget!

Louis and I are both relational people. So, we really want to give to organizations that our friends are involved in, founded, are board members, etc. As extroverts, we have a TON of ‘friends’. My goodness…we have ‘friends’ poppin’ out the woodwork asking me to give now! SOL

We want to give where our values align. So, what do we value? We want to see sustainable, transformational change. Where God’s kingdom is being built. Where the Gospel is being proclaimed. Where no harm is being done, especially in the “name of Jesus”. Where there’s more than a ‘good story’. Where the community is involved and have a say in what’s happening.

Like many others, Louis and I subscribe to the CCDA Philosophy and really want to support ministries that are doing development work versus mercy ministry. My thoughts and ideas have also been shaped by experts, authors/speakers and books like Beyond Charity by John M. Perkins,  When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert and Toxic Charity by Bob Lupton. You can hear a podcast of Bob Lupton talking about Toxic Charity during his visit to RVA >> here.

One might ask, “What’s the difference?”  Simply put in 3 levels…

Level 1 Mercy Ministry = Hand Out. One person gives. Another receives. There is a need for this, but I think it should be used when it is a real emergency…earthquakes, fires, tornadoes, etc. or when someone really can’t help themselves. examples: Feeding programs. Food banks. Free Markets. Backpacks. Adopt a family at Christmas. Although these ministries make the giver feel good, oftentimes these types of ministries hurt more than they help…causing further enablement, dependency, hoarding, loss of dignity, etc.  Bob Lupton says – “Never do for the poor what they have (or could have) capacity to do for themselves.”   THINK – Give a man a fish.

Level 2 Betterment or Empowerment = Hand Up. Giving is more reciprocal. A small exchange takes place. Definitely a move in the right direction. Becomes a little more time intensive. More commitment is involved. More listening to the community. Examples: Christmas Stores where donated gifts are sold at 20cents on the dollar. Tutoring.  THINK – Teach a person how to fish.

Level 3 Development = Standing Up. This calls for a long-term systemic change and sustainable economic development. This is not an overnight, easy solution. It’s time commitment. Exchange takes place. Doing it with a community not to or for a community. Requires listening to the community and sacrificing your own thoughts and ideas. Examples – Use of lending and investing. Very little grants. Jobs. John Perkins regularly says “The best welfare program is a job.” (see post >> here) Yet according to the cited survey, only 1% of churches do something about jobs. THINK: Teach a person how to own the boat and the pond.

Here’s an example of a sustainable, development concept we LOVE! Maybe one day we will have a LouDawg’s Kitchen afterall…  Whatcha think?

As we approach this time of giving, Louis and I will want to ask ourselves some questions before we give of our time, money or resources. Here’s a few that will get us started, but I’m sure we are missing some….

  • God – where would You have us give?
  • Whose kingdom is being built? God’s or someone else’s?
  • Is it development work or mercy ministry?
  • Is the work being done with a community or for/to a community?

I’m still learning…still struggling…with how to give and serve well.

What other descriptions and examples can you provide of the different levels?

What questions are you asking?


Happy 8 Year Anniversary to Me and SBH!

8 years and 3 days ago, I made one of the biggest commitments in my life. I bought a house in Southern Barton Heights. 8 years ago, TODAY, I met the neighborhood kids. My life has never been the same! So…tonight, we spontaneously decided to celebrate. No pictures of the evening. Just use your imagination… 

Dinner around the table with Louis, Deshawn, Larry and Bishop – after the boys helped Louis grill. Bishop was there that first day…about to go into the 1st grade.  This year…he’s off to Open High! Terence calls in the middle of dinner needing a lift after football practice, where he is going into his senior year at John Marshall. WOW! By the time I got back, dinner table was just about cleared! Anthony is off at ODU.  Lil Mike, Rob, Dude, ManMan, Tyree…they are still around doing different things. 

Time out for Louis to rest his knees as he slowly reduces his painkillers, while the kids play Just Dance on the Wii. Now, it’s time for marshmallows at the fire pit, where we will continue our evening full of laughter and great conversation – including testimonies from Camp Hope last week, favorite memories from the last 8 years, how they want to start up Kids Missional Community again, school, music, and all kinds of other things! The best yet was all the laughs that came from looking at the wedding pictures from nearly 5 years ago. They grow up so fast!

Life is good. Life goes fast. Goin’ to bed with a smile.

OK…just for the fun of it…here’s a picture of Miss Marti’s Kids from the wedding. I love these guys! A.Lot. 

 

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What’s your favorite

Miss Marti’s House memory?


Games, Creation, Rain, Hope, and Pizza!

Our 2nd Annual Camp Splash – backyard VBS –  kicked off today with 19 community kids and 7 moms who hung out with us, too… along with the youth and college folks from Hope Church, the community and my niece!!  Quite a team that God has put together!

We started our time playing parachute games.  The numbers steadily grew as the evening progressed. The sounds of laughter echoed through the community.

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Then, we took a break to hear the story based on God’s Letter to us – the Bible, specifically Genesis 1 and 2.  God made everything including you and me! He spoke it into being. We also learned that God is eternal, powerful, loving, perfect and very kind.

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Then, it was time for the water games….

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Although the rain hit about 45 minutes or so into the evening, the timing worked out perfectly. We quickly got everyone inside before the torrential downpours! Which gives a whole new meaning to Camp Splash!

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Just in time to play some inside games….IMG_0210

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before we had pizza dinner and craft time, where the kids could create something out of Model Magic! And I would be remiss if I didn’t give a shout-out to our neighbor and friend, Claudia, for making some killer cookies! They were a HUGE hit!

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Tomorrow…We play more wet games! We learn about SIN (boo!!!!) and craft time is scratch art! Dinner…wow.  Dinners this week are going to be amazing because I have some WONDERFUL, LOVING, GIVING friends who are providing meals… Subway sandwiches are on deck for tomorrow.

I have to admit, one of the biggest surprises and best blessings is the fact that 7 of the moms chose to hang out with us. I love getting to know my neighbors!!!!

Enjoy the rest of the pictures…

 


Makin’ Waves…at Camp Splash 2013

It’s that time again! Sign up for our annual backyard Vacation Bible School called…

Camp Splash!

For more information and pictures from last year…check out this link…

Splish Splash, I was taking a bath…. 

Be sure to RSVP, so that we will have enough supplies for all the youth.

In addition, note that weather permitting…we are having a community cookout on

Friday evening at 7pm!!!

Bring something to share! Thanks!

Camp Splash Flyer - Front

Camp Splash Flyer - Back


Annual Memorial Day Cookout!

Hope to see you at our Annual Memorial Day Cookout!!!

2013 Memorial Day