He executes justice for the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets prisoners free, the LORD gives sight to the blind, he lifts up those who are bowed down, the LORD loves those who live justly. The LORD watches over the immigrant and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked. -Psalm 146:7-9

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Bonjou!!!

I'm in Haiti!!!! Check out my other blog while I'm away from this one. I'll be posting more here when I return to the states. Your prayers are covered!

Grace to you !!

~Nicole

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Soil Project & Heart of Man

A few months ago, our family had one of the most impactful weekends I think we've ever had in our life.  We had the privilege of participating in The Equal Justice Initiative Soil Collection Project. EJI has documented more than 4,000 racial terror lynching in twelve Southern states between 1877 and 1950. In Alabama alone we've learned, more then 360 lynching victims were shot, hung, burned or mutilated, often without the allegations of a criminal offense and get this,  always without trail or process. 

To create more understanding and awareness about the racial terrors, Eji gave assignments to many volunteers  to collect soil from every location where a person was lynched. Talk about heaviness. I can't describe to you the emotions that rushed over me. First, let me tell you a little about the woman who we were assigned.  My family and I were given the story of Elizabeth Lawrence.


Elizabeth Lawrence was killed and her home was burned down by a white mob in Jefferson County on July 5, 1933. She was walking down a road when a group of white children threw rocks and dirt at her. She verbally reprimanded the children, but didn't touch them. She returned to her home and later that night the mob heard about the scolding of the children. The mob then went to her home and committed that dreadful act of terrorism. Ms Lawrence's son Alexander filed a police report after discovering what had happened while he was out of town. Alexander ended up fleeing to Boston to avoid being lynched after the mob learned of his plans. Elizabeth Lawrence was one of the 29 African Americans lynched in Jefferson County between 1833-1940.

My heart began to pound immensely in my chest when we exited our vehicle on that old county road. I looked around at my surroundings and begin to try to envision what it must've  been like to be Ms Elizabeth traveling home after what may have been a long day of work. Feelings of fear, hopelessness, and even paranoia begin to overwhelm me. 

In my heart, I begin to just wonder why would the Lord allow such cruel acts of injustice go on? For a moment I got angry with him as I thought of His Omnipresence in the situation. It was then I had to think of His goodness and how He isn't the author of sin. Lord Jesus, the battle was so real for me that day.

As we scooped up the hard soil and broke it down with our  hands to fit it into the jar,  the hardness of the soil made me think about the heart of man (back then and today) who had no  concern or love for the lives of others. 







Break up your fallow ground, For it is time to seek the Lord until He comes to rain righteousness on you. You have plowed wickedness, you have reaped injustice, You have eaten the fruit of lies. Because you have trusted in your way
........ (Hosea 10:12-13)


Follow Ground....Hearts which were overrun with weeds,needing desperately to be ploughed and broken up by conviction, humility and strong godly sorrow over sin. Why? So that some good seeds may be sown in them. I can't help to think if this was the case we wouldn't be standing on this dirt road in Jefferson County collecting soil for a life lost.


You have plowed wickedness... instead of love or repentance or a life of goodness, many who were involved in lynching lived a life of wickedness and propagated it. They abused and perverted the fruits of God's goodness. This caused all sorts of confusion I'm sure when you had many waving the Christian flag yet standing behind such injustices. How sad.



Those who plant injustice will harvest disaster, and their reign of terror will come to an end - Proverb 22:8



I'm so thankful that in spite of all this, the story isn't over. As hard as it to continue to watch injustice unfold today God still sits on the throne and will administer justice for all. I walked away from this experience wanting to continue the conversation and fight for injustice. I believe a conversation is important because it will help us all walk towards reconciliation as the bible so adamantly talks about. I believe a healthy, biblical, honest, raw and loving conversation will help not only us but the future generations confront the many challenges we see today as a result of the past. Challenges that racial inequality continues to create even today. Being silent, refusing to talk does nothing but add insult to injury and creates more and more disunity. (especially in communities of color)



If you're ever in the Montgomery area, stop by and visit EJI and be prepared to join the conversation. We need you on the battle field.





Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Looking Back

It's funny how you can read an old journal entry and see how the Lord was doing some pretty amazing things back then to notice He's still doing them today. The blog post I'm reposting below is a clear indication that when one enters into the roughness of inner city ministry you must remember a couple of things:

1.God is in control . My "ministry" here is so much more about my development and heart change then it is the people I do life with. God is Sovereign over all things, including the actions of people.

2. PAIN in relationships  cannot be avoided. Unless of course you're  one of those non confrontational folks who keep up with the fake grin, fake laugh, fake happiness all for the sake of not wanting to loose your relationships with your neighbors  and don't confront offenses  head on when necessary . (Breathe Nicole .. I just said a lot in one breath) This is so not me, and I'm sure it's one of the very reasons why I stay in conflict with others. (In addition to the fact I'm sinful and constantly jacking up something) . Help me Lord!

3. My labor .. Your labor.. Our labor is NEVER IN VAIN. God is going to use every conflict, every frustration, every rumor about you and your family in the community, all the stuff your kids are exposed to which results in you having to have long family discussions , etc..  All this and more  will be used to glorify God and draw you closer to Him.

Being close to Jesus was all I ever wanted in this calling, that's it . Nothing deep . Just closeness with the Father.  He knew exactly what to do to bring it about .

Here is a blog post from 2011 that is VERY  MUCH still relevant today in my life . I'm so thankful for this reminder . God is far too kind to me.


Keep laboring and loving saints . God sees you.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Tuesday's Truth- RARE - MLK, Jr. on How The Races Were Kept From Unifying in Post-Civil War America

Every other Tuesday I will post some truth  that is relevant to things that are happening in the culture around us. It may be a video clip, quote, song, etc. Whatever it may be, it'll  be something I think is very important to discuss as a body of believers. Healthy, loving, biblically sound conversations is the key to Tuesday's Truth. 

Selah.


"The main thing that stands in the way of greater economic justice in America - including universal health care, quality education and housing for all - is the racial divide that has been deliberately engineered and maintained for the benefit of a few since the days of our nation's founding." 



Click below to hear a clip of M.L.K's speech on the steps of the state capital in Montgomery, AL







Hunger Games- Hood Edition




I just love when my family is able to get away and BREATHE from the normal hustle and bustle of life. My brain has time to think!! Ha! Here is something I've been pondering on throughout the night. As I sat down and watched (for the 15th time) the first Hunger Games movie I noticed something interesting President Snow said when he felt threatened by Katiness influence over the districts. He said this: 

"Hope. It is the only thing stronger than fear. A little hope is effective. A lot of hope is dangerous. A spark is fine, as long as it's contained." (Hunger Games 2012)


My mind begin to race, and all the bible verses that I know that speak about what it means to be FREE and a NEW creation in Christ begin to literally overwhelm my brain. HOPE can be a very dangerous thing when you have an enemy that wants to destroy you. When people are filled with HOPE , lies are destroyed, strongholds are broken, Faith is strong and one's IDENTITY is realized. My husband and I moved into Washington Park under a burden and calling from the Lord to live out a message of HOPE that is available to all. Of course our enemy saw that and just like President Snow, his goal from the beginning was to try to convince the people, that the church (Gods people) had other motives. 

The enemy wants nothing more then to convince people that the slavery they are in is better then any amount of hope or freedom the gospel could offer. He knows that when lost, black men and young boys who live in the hood gain an once of gospel HOPE that families are able to be restored, dope is no longer pushed through our communities, and gangs are not sought after for affirmation. He knows when HOPE is given and taken in by young teen girls and women that they no longer settle for being treated less then the Queen they are, prostitution isn't an option for those out of work and teen pregnancy isn't used for significance or affirmation. (Of course there are other factors for these issues, I'm only scratching the surface )
I know folks get tired of me saying this, but when people know their purpose, and are given the correct identity lives are changed!  So, President Snow was right, HOPE is dangerous. Hope is the reason why my family can move into an undesirable community unapologetically and say we are here to spread the HOPE of the gospel to a culture of people that have been systemically beat down, overlooked and not cared for. Yes, this is true and we know this because we too are apart of this culture and have experienced some of the very same things. (And STILL DO)


HOPE is the reason why my husband is posting on Facebook day in and day out of his need for Mentors. Do you realize how powerful the hope is that YOU HAVE and what it can do in the life of the hopeless?!  At no rate am I writing this with an attitude of "look what we are doing ", "we got it together " or etc. But I am writing this from a heart of HOPE and urgency. My family has something more precious then gold and we just want to give it away to others who need it so desperately. So when you hear us talk about the African American community and it's issues, please don't take that to mean we ONLY care about people who look like us. 

We care for all people, the LORD has just burdened us for our culture in the same way He burdened Nehemiah for his people and Moses for the Israelites. Just as Moses wanted his people to experience freedom from slavery as he did, so do we. We don't want to be the people complaining about urban communities and their plight. We want to be apart of the change and hope that is able to take place when the Lord places his people in the position to use them to do so.


My prayer has been that the Lord would unleash within my community a spark of HOPE that isn't contained, but life affirming, life changing and gospel centered. I'm overwhelmingly thankful for Strong Tower at Washington Park. A small church with a BIG vision. I'd love to come back and share more of how this small community of believers have their hands to the  plow and planting seeds throughout this community.



Proverbs 13:12
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.

Hebrews 11:1
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.


"I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves." -Harriet Tubman

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Pretenders

 Well hello blog land! It's been a while since I've been in this part of town and to be honest,  I've missed it. I'd love to bring you up to date as to what's going on with me and my family. But for now, here's a blog post  that was written some time last year that I never clicked "done" on until now. It's very much still relevant today. My prayer is that it would continue a conversation that is long over due amongst ministries, churches and friendships. 

Let's get it ! 


**************************************

As I was driving back from dropping my daughter off at ballet class, I begin to notice all the construction going on around me. I mean, my neighborhood is crazy right about now. Roads are being torn up and repaved, abandoned houses being knocked down and or re boarded. New trees are being planted, places that were once  tagged with gang signs and profanity graffiti is replaced with fresh coats of paint. I know you may be thinking, that sounds GREAT. The neighborhood is getting an uplift!!! But for some reason, I don't feel great, I feel.....burdened, confused and frustrated.

Let me explain.


March 2015 is the 50th anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery March and my hood is a key location to this celebration. I'm talking about so key, that a block up from my house is where some of the marchers camped out before heading to the state capital down town. In addition to that, my husband and I were told some of the marchers were housed in our very home by neighbors. It's been a joy and a privilege to hear all the amazing stories of what has taken place where we are.

While I look forward to celebrating the anniversary of such a momentous event, I often wonder where was all of this "fixing up" help years ago. Or what will happen once the national coverage leaves our community, or when the actual event is over. Which of our city officials will care about the up keeping of our roads, abandoned  homes and ect. then?

When I sit and look around at what's happening  in my hood, I also think about a deeper issue that is running rampant in the church( America in general) and has been for some time. The issue I would like to call PRETENDING. (or as many friends know I love to say, FAKENESS) 

You see, in the church today, we love walking around pretending that problems don't exists. Both in our own personal lives or in the world around us. We somehow  have believed the lie that if I just ignore a situation then it'll no longer be an issue later on. Some of us have really seared our conscious so much so, that we really don't see the problems before us and have become so blind to the issues surfacing. Historically, many of us who are NOT African American have the luxury of NOT having to live in the reality of there being a problem, while others in the church have to be reminded of that on a DAILY basis.

Scripture gives us so many instructions on how to deal with "problems". No matter what the situation is, we biblically have no excuse what so ever to walk around acting as if relationships aren't broken, lacking unity amongst co- workers or just sitting in pain from past situations. . It's due to the church not "keeping it real" that we have jacked up our witness with people who come from the outside looking for real and authentic community.

One of my biggest struggles before Christ was being a liar. When I tell you I was slick with it, baby I was slick!!  After walking into this newness of life and transferring into a NEW kingdom, I knew right away that was a part of my life I couldn't any longer live. I HATE lies, and even now  as a believer the struggle and temptation still exist it's something that I just can't stand playing a part in any relationship that I have. I think one of the ways we can kill unity or this idea of the church being a family is to lie, or "pretend" someone else's  pain, experiences, or feelings don't matter or don't exists.  To be apart of a family that makes you feel as if your "crazy", "the only one" or "making a big deal" of things I would say not only is painful but goes against what it means to really love your brother or sister as yourself.  

The truth is, sometimes it's hard for us to accept the experiences, or pain of those we are living amongst or working with because then, it just may mean I have to look deep within myself and figure out how I played a role (if any) in what they're  feeling. 

The question today is how authentic are the relationships around you? And what  role are you playing in the restoration of what's broken? 

Are you keeping it REAL?!


Matthew 22:37-40

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”



1 Corinthians 12:25-27

That there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.