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

Chorus
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

Chorus
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

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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

IMG_3067

up close entry from inside house

IMG_0671

from the living room

IMG_6160

the exit in the dining room beside the chalkboard


Happy 3rd Anniversary, Frank!

WOW!  It’s been a while since I have allowed myself to think about the night 3 years ago when Frank was shot outside my back door in Southern Barton Heights!  If you are new to the blog, or haven’t heard the story before…take a look at this string of posts telling the story of Frank (click his name…then scroll to the bottom and click “older entries” to go to the first blog post.  Be sure to go back to the first post…and read backwards so you get the story in order.) I take a few moments each year on January 27th to really think through the events leading up to that night and the events following it.  This is the first year, however, that I can read back through it on  y blog.

Can I just say it?…GOD IS GOOD!!!  Respond with me…  ALL THE TIME, GOD IS GOOD!  Vicky and I had a short conversation on FB a few minutes ago where she said…”That story still makes me cry.”  You know…it makes me cry, too.  Tons of emotion going on.  I don’t even know where to start!  And…I cried.  I give glory to God.  I’m humbled.  I’m grateful.  I’m amazed.  I’m encouraged.

Tonight, we had our weekly Missional Community where we studied the story of the Fishes and the Loaves.  One of the things I really get from that miracle is how Jesus took something really small…a boy’s basket of 5 loaves and 2 fishes…and fed over 5000 hungry people!!!!  Is that not crazy?  That the Lord could take something so small…and perform a miracle?  He just needed a willing participant, the boy offering his bread and fish.  That’s the way I feel about the night Frank got shot.  Louis and I had little-to-no first aid training.  Little-to-no experience in treating traumas.  But, you know….we didn’t need it.  We had the Holy Spirit…and that is all we needed….and a willingness to go.  Ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

So now, I wonder…what “fishes and loaves” am I holding on to and not sharing?  What am I NOT willing to offer up to the Lord to use to bring Him glory because I think that I don’t have enough experience, enough education/knowledge, enough money, enough time, enough training, enough…fill in the blank with any obstacle/excuse you can think of?  It’s time to step out in trust and faith and let God be God…because I can NEVER have enough of anything.  The best thing I can do is get out of the way.  Zechariah 4:6b says, “…‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.”  I can’t work hard enough, smart enough, efficient enough.  I can’t get enough education, time, money, etc. to do what God does.  It is NOT by my might, power, brains, money, common sense, education, scheduling, etc. but by HIS Spirit!

Louis and I could NOT have arranged that night even if we had tried, but God knew where we needed to be and when.  So…I’m going to step out in that faith, trust and obedience.  Give what I have.  Give what He has given me.  I’ll do it from one-day to the next and let God be God…and give HIM all the glory!  Amen?

So, Happy 3rd Anniversary, Frank!  To new beginnings!  To your new life!  Love you and thankful that God brought us together!  Can’t wait to see your face again!  To God Almighty be the glory!


It’s been a while…

I know….I’ve been kinda absent for a while…let’s call it a full month!!! I have left stories hangin’!  Sorry about that!  No excuses…just life gettin’ in the way!  Ouch…just realized that my last real post was early May.  That is B*A*D!  So…let me get you caught up on our present lives and all of our distractions, then in upcoming days…I’ll take you back and finish a story or 2.

A lot has been going on lately, here in SBH and at M2H.   Interestingly enough, on May 4th, I shared in Oh Happy Day! about what a great day I was having…and how the Lord had spoke… “Seek ye first the kingdom of God.”  So…we get this clear message and we are feeling GOOD.  Like we have our marching orders!

Then, WHAM! BLAM! ZING! out of nowhere….distractions hit.  Why is it a surprise that we will be hit with distractions on the heels of a God moment?!?!?  These distractions took the form of relational conflicts (yes, more than one….all at the same time!!!) where Louis was used as a sounding board and a peacemaker of sorts. In addition, a dear friend in Northern Virginia passed away.  Louis gets sick as a dog.  Poor thing was wiped out by a upper respiratory infection. Lastly, there has been a bit of conflict in our community lately…for which we are seeking prayers.

I won’t go into a lot of detail to protect confidences, but we have an AWESOME community!!! The residents of Southern Barton Heights are among the BEST ever!  I have a sense of pride and joy when I look around and think about the many, many friends (dare I say family!!) that I have made…and the cohesive community that has formed and is forming even as we speak.  I have lived here but a short 5 years….and Louis for a 1.5 years…and we know most of our neighbors up and down Barton and Lamb Avenues around our home.  And…we continue to meet more!  Louis and I have lived in a number of communities over the years and have experienced NOTHING like the sense of community that we feel here.  I know more of my neighbors now than in all the other communities combined! I wouldn’t change it for the WORLD!

Although we may differ in our experiences, our opinions and our thoughts, for the most part, we respect one other.  Now, there are some whose thoughts and actions differ GREATLY from where the overall community wants to continue to head and are NOT respecting others and are spreading fear, hate and distrust.  But, we will continue to partner together and with the authorities to minimize these criminal and unlawful activities that we see and experience.

In addition, as reported on the news there was a multiple shooting just a block away, where 2 guys got shot at 4:30p on Friday, 5.28.  Yes…that is 4:30 in the afternoon….when the kids are playing and riding their bikes.  When people are coming home from work ready to start their weekend.  When people are walking to the deli for something cold to drink. Thankfully, the 2 victims will survive! And…an investigation is underway.

Meanwhile, life moves on….the school year comes to an end.  The H*O*T summer seems to have come early.  The Stonehouse Pool in Battery Park is now open and a Memorial Day/Birthday cookout starts us out right.  Pics and vids to come in the next post…

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The Next Day Part 1

Continued from 2 previous posts… The Word Became Flesh…. AND ….and Moved into the Neighborhood.

Needless to say, I went on to work the next day…until mid afternoon when the kids were coming home from school.  I SOOO wanted and needed to check on Anthony and Lil Mike to make sure they were OK.  God blessed us with a beautiful day!  A few things happened that afternoon….

One – My mom met me here.  She just wanted to lay eyes on me and pray.  I SOOO appreciate the many, many prayers that were offered up on our behalf!

Two – Lil Mike and Tony were fine!  Those kids totally were amazing and so strong.

Three – The community also was wonderful!  Frank had grown up in the Southern Barton Heights area, so he was well-known and loved by a lot of people.  Since it was a beautiful day, I was putzing around in the front yard…with my plants, etc.  The kids had always loved and welcomed me into the community, but many of  the adults didn’t quite know what to do with me.  Didn’t know what I was all about or why I moved into SBH.  That day, I met more neighbors than I had in the last couple of years.  People intentionally stopped by to thank me (and Louis) and to ask about Frank.  It was an opportunity to not only meet people, but also share what God had done that night.  It was a time to pray and encourage Frank’s friends.  I had gained a “street cred” that I didn’t have before.

People shared what they did when they heard the shots.  The natural instinct of living in the inner city, crime infested area is to run away (if you were on the street), hide in your closet, jump in your bathtub, lock your doors, brace the door with a chair under the doorknob (should the shooter try to run into the house).  Yet, Louis and I ran into the street into the fray.  We never thought to do anything else.  We were Called to be there and to respond.

I often wonder what we would do now.  Hopefully we won’t have to find out!!!  We hear gunshots all the time….but thankfully from a distance.  Needless to say, we were a bit gun-shy (no pun intended!) for a while after that.  Late one night we heard a gunshot fairly close.  Louis and I looked outside, but didn’t see anything to respond to.  But, we quickly shut and locked the door.  A little later our door bell rang.  Normally, I didn’t think twice about opening it.  That night we did…we just yelled through the door.  My heart pounded in my chest.  I realized that I was more traumatized than I realized.   By the way…it was just someone telling us that Louis had left the inside light of his car on.  It took a few days before we realized that we trusted God that night, and we can still trust God now.  That we must use wisdom, but we could no longer live in fear.  God healed me of that.

That day…when I sat outside talking to people, I heard their stories…everyone had one, two, three friends that had been shot~ injured and killed.  Some had been shot themselves.  I can’t even imagine WHAT this must do to you after years…how it must impact the kids who grow up here.  For I have the HOPE in me….and it sometimes is tough.  What about those who don’t know the Lord?  Many may ask…why don’t they move?  Why do they stay?  Why don’t they just pack up and move some place safe. Let me caution you (and me for that that matter!) about judging these wonderful inner city dwellers! Remember what the Word says about judging.  Matthew 7:1-2, Luke 6:37 and John 12:47, to name a few scriptures, speak to this directly.

to be continued….


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