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

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Attitude Of Gratitude

Psalm 140:13 says, “The righteous shall give thanks to your name.”

"The person who gives thanks evidences that he has a righteous heart. Remember we said that the Gospel is guilt, grace, and gratitude.You see, the person who knows that he was a guilty, undeserving sinner deserving of God’s wrath knows that God has poured out His grace upon Him and that God by His grace has made him righteous through Christ. That person is going to be a grateful person. The person who’s been made righteous, who knows he has no righteousness of his own, he will be a grateful person because he knows he has no hope of ever being righteous apart from the cross and the grace and the love of Christ. So a thankful heart is an indicator of our real heart condition."
-Nancy Leigh Demoss

I have so much to be thankful for. So much so that I cant even begin to talk about here. I will say I am thankful for a patient, godly, compassionate husband and one very darling daughter, whom I love so very much. I confess this year I have chosen to whine a lot about things that have been going on. This Thanksgiving I really, really believe will be different.( LORD willing my days after that) I have learned and have been stretched and challenge much in my marriage, parenting and love for neighbors over the past three years. Yet, I am thankful for it all. I have been overwhelmed with numerous opportunities to show the LOVE and present the Gospel to all those around me. I have failed many times, even still Gods GRACE has always been there to clean up my mess. This thanksgiving I want to remember all that the LORD has done. I want to remember the times I was in shackles to the times that HE has set me free. Sanctification is a beast, but its one that I would not mind dancing with for all of eternity. You see its there that I meet my Savior face to face. Knowing Him in the fellowship of HIS sufferings being conformed into His image.

Happy Thanksgiving. I pray that it is one FILLED with RADICAL GRATITUDE!!

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.
-Colossians 3:15-16

Common Ground Weekly Update-November 25

A Holy Hangover and A Christmas Store

Holy Hangover

We have now had 4 days to consider the ‘hangover’ significance of our Grand Opening. I asked myself, “What happened? How important was it, really?” I am convinced that it was and is one of the most important milestones I have ever personally been a part of. The meaning, for me, lies in the fact that so many people, from different races, economic backgrounds, family backgrounds, and other life experiences came together on the property that itself was a picture of ‘resurrection’ to celebrate it’s opening. The presence of those who participated, though it was powerful and a beautiful picture of the Kingdom of God was even small compared to the actual amount of people who gave of themselves to see this building come together. So many people who reside inside and outside of our ‘hood gave of their abilities, sweat, blood, financial resources, leveraged their relationships, and kept showing up together time and time again over the last 9 months. We would pray, and the right people would continually ‘show up’. Some would come consistently and chip away, like small armies (Sunday School classes, fraternities and sororities, campus groups, singles groups, persistent individuals, youth groups, etc.) Others would show up with heavy artillery when needed. But, the constant theme was that God brought the right people, at the right time. He multiplied resources. We were able to celebrate what God was doing among us together. The building gives us the space to be creative and invest in our community in ways we had been dreaming of and in ways have yet to dream of. I look forward in the coming weeks to inform you of all the encouraging initiatives going on in the building daily. This week alone we will have just under 150 kids and young adults participating in bible studies, tutoring, and job skills training. The importance of our ‘party’ was that it represented all of our coming together to practice ’resurrection’. Nothing short of our coming together would have glorified God this way. I was able to look into the eyes of kids from all over our city and see joy. I was able to look into the eyes of so many adults from all over our city and see strength and excitement. Thank you for celebrating the opening with us, whether you were physically present or not, we know you celebrate together with us what our Father is doing among us.

Please visit here for more photos of our Grand Opening :)

Our Christmas Store

This year will be the third year that we will have our annual ‘Christmas Store’ in the neighborhood. Will you consider being a part of it? We took some wisdom from others who have gone before us in other urban contexts and decided that we would open up a Christmas ‘store’ rather than ‘give away’ free toys to kids. Rather than going around the parents forChristmas, we decided to allow parents in our neighborhood the same joy that you and I get when we get to see our children open the gifts that we were able to contribute towards for them. Knowing that many of our parents are not able to provide much and still pay the bills, we open up a store where toys are sold at 30 to 40 percent of the retail values. We take in donated toys, money, and toy store gift cards and set up our store in the ‘hood. The ages to be bought for are 1 year old through 15 year olds. This year it will be at our new building! You can help in a lot of ways. You, and any social or business group you are a part of, can either donate money, buy toys, or donate gift cards from Wal-Mart or Toys R Us, to Common Ground Montgomery and we can stock our shelves accordingly. You can also serve by helping stock and re-stock shelves, price toys, help us go and buy the toys, help us ‘gift wrap’ toys during the store after ‘check out’ and help carry the toys out to people’s cars. Sorry, but we already have two or three feisty neighborhood ladies who run the cash registers! Trust me… they are best suited for the job.

Christmas Store Quick Facts:
Store dates and hours: December 14th-18th from 4-7 P.M.
Location: 1516 Mobile Road, Montgomery, 36108.
Drop off dates: From now till the 17th of December (please call for coordination)
Number to call: 657-7049 Kevin King

Thank you for your prayer and partnership. I am humbled to be on your team.
Bryan Kelly Founder, Common Ground Montgomery

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Party Over Here!!!

Outside the gates of our ministry building is a huge sign that reads:

Common Ground Montgomery Block Party
Food * Games * Entertainment * Open House
Ribbon Cutting Ceremony, Tour of Building and Neighborhood Block Party!

I am sure I can speak for the entire staff when I say, our hearts are overflowing with gratitude to the LORD and all HE has done, is doing and will continue to do in our neighborhood! Its hard to believe just three years ago, we,(the Kellys and the Kings) were only thinking on such things to happen. We never imagined it would happen this fast. There has been a lot of trials, but the LORD has remained FAITHFUL, GOOD, and TRUSTWORTHY! What a honor and joy it has been to serve HIM!

Please pray for our time tomorrow. Pray that many in our neighborhood will witness the glory of the LORD and long to have a relationship with Him. Pray as well that the LORD would bless our ministry financially so that we can continue to do the work of the KINGDOM!

Black and White Of Racism Today

One of our local news station did a special tonight on Racism. My husband and Bryan Kelly were both asked to speak about our ministry and share a little bit about racial reconciliation. Unfortunately, Bryan was sick (he is doing better, yay!) and could not attend the forum. Kevin and a panel of SGA leaders from a few local colleges did share their thoughts on the issue. Here are a few clips below of what was discussed. The first video entitled What is RACISM, can be watched here.

PLEASE go to WSFA website to watch the rest of the broadcast.

I loved how the LORD set the stage for this overdue discussion.We need to dialogue about this more. Praise God for breaking down all racial barriers!

Ephesians 2:14-18
For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A prayer.....

Dear Jesus, help me to spread Thy fragrance everywhere I go. Flood my soul with Thy spirit and love. Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly that all my life may only be a radiance of Thine. Shine through me and be so in me that every soul I come in contact with may feel Thy presence in my soul. Let them look up and see no longer me but only Jesus. Stay with me and then I shall begin to shine as you shine, so to shine as to be a light to others.

-A prayer of Mother Teresa

Monday, November 16, 2009

And A Child Shall Lead Them......

You know..... the life of a Christian is one full of uncertainties. You never know how the LORD is going to reveal your heart, or who He will use to humble you. This past Saturday I had a run in with one of the local teens who is very disrespectful and full of lies. I confronted him about messing with some of the girls who were at my home for a sleepover this weekend, and of course as usual he lied to me and said he was not doing what the girls accused him of. I left the girls as well as my six year old out in the car as I ran into a friends home. I come out and find all the girls upset, apparently this 17 yr old had been using filthy language towards the girls. My daughter hears him saying words that he should not and she tells him "E, if you don't stop cursing you will go to hell" ( okay...now we are not training a little legalist in our home, I guess because she has never heard such words she just assume that those things he is saying will place him in eternal punishment...oops)

Kevin and I were explaining to a friend of ours that this young guy, when you confront him with the truth of the scripture or say anything to him about the Lord and his soul...He flips out as if he is demon possessed or something. He (the guy my daughter says that too) looks at her and says "shut up you B****, you little H**, I will get my little cousin to beat your a**"

So I am heated at this point, all kinds of bitterness and hatred is creeping up within my heart. I call my husband and explain to him what happens and he assures me when he gets home he will definitely take care of it.
Because I have been studying gratitude in my times alone with God, I begin to ask Him LORD how do I choose thankfulness in this situation. I am angry at this teenager for talking to my daughter in such a hurtful way. Praise God that she did not know what any of those words meant, all she knew was he was using words that she knows you are not suppose to use.

Kevin puts kai down for bed that night and after their bible reading they begin to pray. They talk about the importance of praying for our neighbors (as we always talk about) and he ask her was there anything she wanted to specifically pray about. She says " I want to pray for E."

She begins to ask the Lord to help him to not say hurtful words, as well as for HIM to LOVE JESUS.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.

But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you

What an example the LORD had set up before Kevin and I, what an answer to my prayers of wanting to choose thankfulness in this situation and really needing to see what it was I could be thankful for.

Yesterday, as we were leaving for our family day out, E. rolled up on his bike. Kevin ask him to come over to the car and he being to explain to him how in spite of him talking to kai like he did, she prayed for him the night before. She just put his head down. Kevin then ask him " what do you need to say?" "E" tells kai that he is sorry...Kevin says "sorry for what"? "E" says "for cursing you out" kai looks at him and says with all sincerity in her face and eyes...( my husband says)

" I forgive you"

My prayer is that " E" at that moment experienced God in a way he had never before. I pray that the seed that the LORD used my daughter to plant would later grow into a healthy firm tree.....planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. I was reminded that day how I am to love my enemies and my neighbors.

I was reminded of the weight the LORD has taken off of us all..by forgiving us of our sins and not counting any of them against us.

Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit- Psalm 32:2

Bless the LORD, O my soul, And all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget none of His benefits; Who pardons all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases; Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion; Who satisfies your years with good things.... -Psalm 103:1-5

Quote Of The Day

Philippians 4:6-7 (New American Standard Bible)
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known to God. And the peace which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

"To put it more simply: In every situation...prayer+ thanksgiving = peace.
When prayer teams up with gratitude, when we open our eyes wide enough to see God's mercies even in the midst of our pain, and when we exercise faith and give Him thanks even when we can't see those mercies, He meets us with His indescribable peace. It's a promise. Oh, we can try it the other way. Without thanksgiving.Author and bible teacher Beth Moore describes the way most people live, by substituting the familiar phrases from Philippians 4:6-7 with their polar opposites:

Do not be calm about anything, but in everything, by dwelling on it constantly and feeling picked on by God, with thoughts like,"And this is the thanks I get," present your aggravations to everyone you know but Him. And the acid in your stomach, which transcends all milk products, will cause you an ulcer, and the doctor bills will cause you a heart attack, and you will lose your mind.

Prayer is vital-but to really experience His peace, we must come to Him with gratitude. Hard gratitude. Costly gratitude. The kind that trusts that He is working for our good even in unpleasant circumstances...the kind that garrisons our troubled hearts and minds with His unexplainable peace."

Nancy Leigh Demoss -Choosing Gratitude

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Hospitality.... Help!!!!!!

I am running out of ideas when it comes to having people over for dinner. I need your help...BIG TIME! I would love to hear from you all as to what kind of meals do you serve for large guest? What ideas do you have to help make a missionary budget stretch? We have decided these kids and families are OUR MINISTRY, they are the reason we are here, so if we are going to have them over, I want to do better with saving and having meals that will go a loooooong way! Post any ideas you have here for others to see or email them to me at mrsnicolek@yahoo.com.

*sighs* Thanks friends! I don't want this to become a burden. I want to continue to serve the LORD with joy and gladness without fear or worry. Your help/ideas will make this possible :)

Thanks again!

May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.
-Psalm 20:4

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Talk....

" Mrs. Nicole, I just want to be loved"
" I can't lie, I want to know what its like to have sex. so many of the girls at school are doing it"
" He buys me things and tells me he likes me alot"
"Is it true you can get HIV from kissing??"
" We saw a fourth grader give two boys a lap dance outside during P.E....."
"Mrs. Nicole, I'm taking birth control pills...(
says a seventh grader)"

So, yesterday was Friday the 13th and I feel as if I was staring in a horror film. I invited five of the girls from our program whom I am very close with to spend the night in our home. Kevin and some of the other staff guys hosted a sleepover in our ministry building with the younger boys so this gave us sometime alone . I used this night to talk to the girls about sex,pregnancy and boys. I am speechless at all I heard. We are talking about fourth graders having sex. All of the girls in my home tell me that they still have their 'cards'. ( I learned tonight that this is street slang for being a virgin..whew!) Oh LORD how I want to believe them! They did admit to me they were curious and wanted to have sex. Again, these girls are as young as fourth grade and as old as the seventh. What ever happened to jumping rope,playing hide go seek, cards, twister????
My heart just breaks for these girls. They are bombarded with so many images and standards of beauty that effect them negatively everyday. I even look at my six year old (whom was in the bed at the time of this conversation) and watch the struggle she has to learn how to endure day to day and I am worn out trying to help her survive!! I did not want to do an INJUSTICE to these girls by not talking to them about these things. Oh, how hard this was, it was very draining and sad. I cannot even begin to explain. I just can't. Please join me in standing in the gap for every young girl in the world. Who searches for significance in a boy, in her beauty in her longing to be looved.

LORD have mercy........

Mercy Street

Our family over atMercy Street could use your help. Check out my friend Melissa's Blog and spread the word! Without the help of supporters our ministry efforts would be VERY hard to continue! Please take the time to invest in the Kingdom by supporting this ministry! Grace to you all!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


This blog post has changed the way I look at parenting, being a wife and a urban missionary. Please take the time to read this and come back and tell me what you think.

Go on now... I cant wait to hear what you think. :)


Magnificent Holy Father
I stand in awe of all I see
Of all the things You have created
But still You choose to think of me
Who am I that You should suffer
Your very life to set me free
The only thing that I can give You
Is the life You gave to me

This is my offering, dear Lord
This is my offering to You, God
And I will give You my life
For it's all I have to give
Because You gave Your life for me

I stand before You at this alter
So many have given You more
I may not have much I can offer
Yet what I have is truly Yours


This is my offering...

-Third Day

I Just Want To Remember/ Psalm 77

Kevin and I have had the privilege over the years to have our home graced by soo many different type of people. Our home is known as the Marriott of the hood.(and suburbs at one time) So many coming and going, sharing their stories, sleeping on the sofa, eating and fellowshiping with us. I must confess, this is not easy, being hospitable can be a bit of a challenge for me. As I was talking with one of our guest last night, I was telling her how I really, really don't want to get to the point where I am doing something just to be doing it and robbing the LORD of His glory. You know, doing things out of habit and not as a living sacrifice acceptable to the LORD. She and I had the most precious conversation out on my front porch about the neighborhood,Gods character and all that HE has done. All that He has done??!! NOw..lets think about that....

I believe, once again my frustrations about being hospitable and having so many interruptions day in and day out may stem from me not going over in my mind ALL of the WORKS of GOD. I really need to change my way of thinking. Not remembering ( and not being THANKFUL) all that the LORD has done, is doing and will continue to do in the future has left me pretty grumpy at times. God has done some amazing things in our neighborhood, in our marriage, in our parenting, as well as in the lives of many of the college students that we see from day to day.......

Psalm 77:11-12
I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds.

I must remember....

-God's faithful,loving and sustainable GRACE that has kept Kevin and I together and faithful for the past 7 years
-One miracle child that the LORD has allowed us to steward for the past 6 years
-No matter how many people we feed God constantly provides for our family in abundance through family, friends, the Church, and supporters
- the neighborhood I once was fearful of moving into has now become home and I have gain tons of children,mothers,grandmothers and friends
-the teen girl who once thought God was a joke and just 'mean' for no reason is GROWING STRONGLY in her new walk with Him and carries such a sweet joy and excitement for the scriptures
-we witnessed our first wedding in the hood where both groom and bride( ex-gang bangers,drug dealers and accused with murder) are new Christians who GO HARD for the LORD on a daily basis...not only that but they are having such a huge impact on the community as well.
- we are (as a ministry and as individual families and singles) through the GRACE and will say this again..through the GRACE of God.. influencing a younger generation. We have the privilege to expose so, so many kids on a daily to the TRUTH of the Gospel. What a impact that will have on the community in the years to come.
- We have a ministry building that the LORD has given us and is being used in so many lives and in so many ways
-I have witnessed the thief no longer steal..but work
- I have met and talked with a prostitute that no longer sells her body but works honestly to take care of her child and now desires to teach him the Truth of Gods word.
- we have a full time counselor on staff with us who is able to accurately use Gods word to help heal those who are hurting in our neighborhood
-We have a pastor for our future church plant (who happens to be some very dear friends to us all) but as a staff we are more excited because we KNOW the LORD is goign to use HIm to reach so many people with the gospel
- Kevin and I serve along side some of the most LOVING, HONEST,COMPASSIONATE, GIVING, & FUNNY GOd lovers we have ever met..We are family and we are thankful for the closeness we share.

God is so patient with me in my forgetfulness and selfishness. So gracious so kind. I read today that..
Jesus gave Himself to God and to the world, not under coercion, but with gratitude.

That is my prayer, that I would do all that the LORD SOVEREIGNLY calls me to do, and that I would do it with gratitude and joy... just like JESUS. That I would learn to live contently in the moment than being anxious about the future or regretting the past.
I am hopeful this hour..I pray by Gods grace I stay there until her returns.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

A couple of Things I MUST NOT Forget....

Timothy 2:23-26

But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels. The Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, )with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.

James 1:19-20

My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.

Colossians 3:12-13

Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

CGM Update

Here is our recent email update. We are sooo thankful for all the things the LORD is doing around us. It's all Him, not us, HE had all this planned. We are glad to be apart of His big picture! Check out Delta's Blog to get the full scoop.

A Little Discouraged

Be Still and Know- Steven Curtis Chapman

Be still and know that He is God
Be still and know that He is holy
Be still, O restless soul of mine
Bow before the Prince of peace
Let the noise and clamor cease

Be still and know that He is God
Be still and know that He is faithful
Consider all that He has done
Stand in awe and be amazed
And know that He will never change
Be still

Be still, and know that He is God
Be still, and know that He is God
Be still, and know that He is God

Be still; Be speechless

Be still and know that He is God
Be still and know He is our Father
Come rest your head upon His breast
Listen to the rhythm of His unfailing heart of love
Beating for His little ones
Calling each of us to come
Be still, Be still

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Forgetfulness and Ingratitude

“Forgetfulness and ingratitude go hand in hand” Nancy Leigh Demoss

I am reading Nancy Leigh Demoss new book Choosing Gratitude and I tell you what this sucker is convicting. I am such an ungrateful person. I will find something in my heart to murmur and or complain about. The Lord is definitely dealing with me on this, and I don't want to fight him on it. I loong for consistent JOY in my walk with the LORD. Though this study has been convicting, I am encouraged because the LORD in it is outlining ways in which JOY can be achieved for all of eternity. Once a week I received a email from Nancy's ministry, Revive Our Hearts, where other women(who happen to be reading the book as well) are discussing all that they are learning and challenged with in reading this book. So, after I read my chapter I go over to the blog and share what the LORD is teaching me. It has been encouraging to hear from women all around the world. Here is what I read over there this morning from the group facilitator:

".........I tend to forget who I was before Christ redeemed me. I forget the depravity of my sin; the bondage that was my daily reality; the hopelessness of being separated from God.

Remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ (Ephesians 2:12-13).
**This is my life verse by the way :)

A dangerous descent into ingratitude begins as the wonder of all Christ did in redeeming my lost soul and making me His precious daughter fades from my memory. Choosing Gratitude is reminding me there is a battle to be waged if I’m to resist this natural descent.

Here are a few of the practical steps you can take in this battle against ingratitude:

Think often on who you were apart from Christ, and who you are today, because of His mercy and grace. Remembering the life you’ve been redeemed from increases your gratefulness for who you are today. Considering what He’s done even in the last year brings a deeper sense of gratefulness . . . and gives hope for tomorrow.

Express gratitude to those who played a part in opening your eyes to the gospel. After sending a thank-you note, I’ve reconnected with the missionary who brought the gospel message across my path as a wandering teenager. This 80+-year-old man’s zeal and passion for the Lord continues to inspire me.

Hang out with new believers. Their love and enthusiasm for Christ is contagious. Because they have so recently stood in the shadow of the cross, gratitude oozes from their pores.

Return often to thoughts of the cross and the gospel. After 30+ years of knowing Christ, I’m just beginning to understand how important this really is. John Stott wisely said,

The cross is the blazing fire at which the flame of our love is kindled, but we have to get near enough to it for its sparks to fall on us.

Good huh?! What are some ways you are choosing gratitude today? Please share :)

Monday, November 2, 2009

American Violet

This movie rocked every JUSTICE bone in my body! Its a must see!!! My husband and I sat down and watched this movie through our beloved Netflix subscription and it really gave us a deeper burden for the poor and and a stronger dislike for our justice system. American Violet, based on the true story of Dee Roberts, a 24 year-old African American single mother of four living in a small Texas town when she is dragged away from work one day in handcuffs, and then dumped in the women's county prison. The local district attorney leads an extensive drug bust, sweeping her housing project with military precision. Dee soon discovers that she has been charged as a drug dealer. Even though she has no prior drug record and no drugs were found on her in the raid, she is offered a hellish choice: plead guilty and go home as a convicted felon or remain in prison, jeopardizing her custody and risking a long prison sentence. She chooses to fight the unyielding criminal justice system, risking everything in a battle that forever changes her life and the Texas justice system.

Check out the trailer below, rent the movie and come back and tell me what you think. Oh, how I long for justice in our cities....states...country!!!!!

"Cursed is the man who withholds justice from the alien, the fatherless or the widow." -Deu. 27:19

"I know that the LORD secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy"-Psalm 140:12

The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.- Prov. 29:7