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, December 29, 2010

Welcome To Our Family


I cant believe I have known this girl since the time she was born. I have always wanted to adopt and we have always wanted to add to our family but we have not gotten to the place where could afford to do that. But God had a plan! He knew he would add to our family in another way. In a way that was BEST for us and would display HIS glory perfectly. God parenting. Providence through a bible study and a teen mom.
Do you see that smile?


She has grown leaps and bounds. You could tell she wasn't use to being around us in the beginning. She wouldn't talk, she wouldn't smile, she just didn't seem happy. Now she runs into our arms and and sees our home as her home as well.

Her mom wrote on her FB page the other day how she was thankful for having us in her daughters life. We are thankful too. There is a mutual transformation that is taking place in our hearts as well. Providence is sooo amazing!


We love you sweet girl!

Real Talk Pt 2

A friend of mine told me about this show that comes on MTV. I haven't watch it in full as yet, but I am very curious to see how it all plays out. Its a show where they go from High School to High School placing teens in groups ,encouraging them to listen to one another about the issues they face on a daily. A lot of times in high school ( and for us in our adult years) people click up and become friends with those who appear to have it all together. Often times we read blogs, facebook updates, tweets from Twitter and even hear conversations in passing after Sunday morning worship that will leave us with the impression that the people we see or read about have such a "perfect" life. Many times as stay at home moms, when we know we have guest coming over we try our hardest to put our "best foot forward" so that those who come around may get the vibe that we don't struggle at all. ( you know, those of us with multiple children who battle with perfection in keeping the house clean..we wouldn't dare want our guest to see us with the kind of house that is displayed in Cheaper By The Dozen). Well, I will be the first to start off to say I am not perfect. Neither is my life.

I know some of you may know that...but do you believe it?? If you REALLY KNEW me you would know that I too struggle with perfectionism, my home has to look a certain way, things have to stay in a certain order. I am often dealing with anger because I want control and cant stand for things to not go the way I want. I am very insecure and battle inwardly with self image issues. I am a recovering feminist. I deal with jealousy on many different levels and often times can have a loose tongue. I struggle with pride,self control and I am horrible when it comes to communicating at times. (ask my husband-lol)

If you REALLY KNEW ME, you would know I am all about making WAR on my FLESH, I know none of these things are pleasing to the LORD and can NOT be used to edify HIS CHURCH so I strive to walk in obedience and give my life over to the one who has captured me by HIS GRACE and MERCY. I FAIL at this all the time. I do. If you REALLY KNEW ME, you would know that I too am in need of GRACE and all that you see or hear from me is because GOD is at work in my heart. Please be careful not to place anyone on a pedestal. WE are all weak, willed sinners striving to look more like CHRIST everyday. In all, I am thankful for GRACE and how it is ALWAYS available to Gods people in their time of need. My desire is to boast only in the cross of Christ, I pray that by God's grace you are found there as we

Friday, December 24, 2010

Came Down

It was dope how you came down
There was hope when you came down
Now I know why you came down
Glad I know why you came down

We met our Savior when you came down
We saw your flavor when you came down
You gave us favor when you came down
Now we goin’ praise ya’ cause you came down

The more I live the more I’m convinced of/ the fact there’s hope in this life in spite of what sin does/ Hard knock life and can’t weed out the sorrow/ Still I believe the sun’ll be out tomorrow/ I’ve got a right to think like this/ and my reason is connected to the season of Christmas/ ‘Cause though it doesn’t seem right one night this/ place of low worth held the birth of One priceless/ Straight up—wait a minute the kid’s sovereign/ Born in a stable he deserved the Ritz Carlton/ That’s just the tip of the ice/ And Christmas is the perfect time for the rhyme to hip you to Christ


Please—y’all let me reflect on the blessin’/ of what God did when He slid the flesh on/ Stepped on earth though His worth was slept on/ His word made the earth and by His word it’s kept goin’/ That’s why the season’s a good ‘nuff reason to please Him/ How I wish every hood would seek Him and see Him/ Grown, enthroned, more than just a rabbi/ I wish you could see Him as Lord just ask the magi/ Who brought incense, gold, and myrrh/ They saw a King—whatcha’ think that the gold was for?/ Servin’ others—madd blood and sweat/ Served and loved us—that’s the kind of gold you get/ when it’s Christ-style lovin’, change up your lifestyle lovin’/ Correct you when your lifestyle’s buggin’/ Christmas lovin’, the tear up your wish-list lovin’/ And switch it to the give gifts lovin’

Christmas is the time that I can get my eat on/ But now there’s divine grub I get to feed on/ It’s soul food every time I get my read on/ Now I no longer have to get my weed on/ He’s strong but he’s on nothin’ he’s reborn/ He keeps goin’ even with the gifts and trees gone/ And he’s hype of the fact that Christ is/ The God who came when others wouldn’t come down like gas prices/ Some swear it’s a myth but they should cherish the gift/ ‘Cause when Jesus was born there was a shift/ from hopelessness to hope that’s just so dope/ I hope you get to make the most of it

Happy Christmas Eve!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Your Year End Giving Can Impact Lives



It's that time of the year where many of your local and favorite ministries are in need of your financial support. I am so thankful for all of those who support the work of God all over. Its because of YOU we are able to work faithfully in the harvest. As you begin to pray through your Year End Giving, please remember the following ministries/organizations. Your generous giving will not only impact people, the future of urban youth but most importantly the COMMUNITIES they live in!
Merry Christmas!!

Common Ground Montgomery-Montgomery,AL- -To Donate Click Here!
Hope For The Inner City Chattanooga, Tn--To Donate Click Here!
City of Hope Outreach-Conway --To donate ClickHere-
Vision Atlanta-Atlanta ,Ga--To Donate ClickHere
Mercy Street-Dallas,Tx -- To Donate Click Here
Urban Youth Workers Institute- -To Donate Click here
**NEW MINISTRY headed up by my friends Adam and Beca! Check it! Blueprint 58

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Rehab- The Overdose



It's that time again friends! You know I'm always going to give you the heads up on new music. So here it is, new Lecrae album out 1-11-11.



Around every corner is the lure to consume. A desire to be satisfied. Unfortunately no human being has found anything under the sun that brings satisfaction. So we consume more, and more, and more. Eventually, we overdose. However, there is hope--if Christianity is our Rehab. In Jesus, satisfaction can be found. Grace, love, peace and hope can be found...and there is always more. Consume more of Jesus. Overdose.


Rehab: The Overdose officially hits stores and online outlets 1.11.11.


Check out the promo video below.





Also, place your order today so you can be among the first to get an extra dose!


To pre-order Rehab: The Overdose album go here.

To pre-order Rehab: The Overdose combo packages go here.

To pre-order new The Overdose Tshirt go here.

Get ready for The Overdose on 1.11.11!




Monday, December 20, 2010

Princes and The Kiss Pt 2


One of the reasons I love having the middle school and younger girls hang out (or sleepover) at my house is because it opens the door for a what I hope would be lifelong relationships. These sweet girls call me to chat on the phone as if I am one of their peers. It can be a challenge at times because I have work at home I have to take care of and sometimes they don't understand that. Yet, God gives them understanding and they just show up on my front porch! (ha!) Which I am so glad they do, I miss them when they are not here.

As I have them over and we are having these long hard talks about peer pressure, boys and sex, I always wonder if they are really hearing all the Lord uses my husband and I to say. I sometimes wonder if these girls would be open enough to share with us when things are happening to them, or if they have engaged in activity that they shouldn't. Would they trust us with their secrets, with the many unanswered questions they have about life and boys?? The other night I didn't have to wonder anymore. I got a phone call from one middle school girl(14 yrs old) who wanted to let me know her mom was taking her to the clinic to start birth control shots. I just sat there in shock for a few seconds. Then it begins to settle and I begin to think about the reality of this cycle continuing. That just saddens my heart. We begin a for a little to talk about why birth control. I begin to ask her was she a virgin and how dangerous this was for her if she wasn't having sex. I hung up the phone and told my husband and shared with him how I wanted to have her over this week. I know that was nothing but God to have her to call me. I don't know what God is doing, and I know I cant save them, but why soo many girls?? Why is this need for purity so great in my hood??
Oh God, Its overwhelming!! This, this is why I am committed to these girls. (esp. my own daughter she is NEVER left out of this) Committed to teaching them how special they are to God, committed to teaching them the importance of purity and marriage, committed to instructing and training them along side of their parents in a way that is pleasing to God.

I woke up the next morning and spent time in the word and prayed over the purity of these girls. I also sat down and began to plan our 2nd annual Purity Study/Ball. Oh, how I pray this study is just as impactful this year as it was last year. I just want to see God do what I think is impossible in the lives of these girls. That's what I am going into this new year trusting Him with ...the impossible!

These girls need your prayers. ( I do too as I prepare for this study) I see God moving, I really do, I just want more of HIM and I pray that my girls receive more as well. Would you also pray that God would provided the resources for the Ball as well as funds we need to insure EVERY girl has a bible study book?

Many of you have asked me before how you can help. Well, we are in need of 25 bible study kits. Each kit is priced at $39. Click here to view kits. If God leads you to give please email me at mrsnicolek@yahoo.com and I will give you further instructions. It's so important for these girls to know what it means to have a pure heart in an impure world. I am trusting God for a greater city vision as a friend of ours says. As difficult and hard as things seem around us, I really believe greater things are yet to come, greater things are still to BE DONE in this city. I am thankful for the chance to see a part of the picture God is painting. Amen!

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine..-Ephesians 3:20a

Parent Me-Json ft. J.R.

"Parent Me" Json featuring J.R. (Official Video) from The Lamp Lounge on Vimeo.


May the grace of God help us all to parent our children well in the midst of ministry and other work outside the home. May God remind us that ministry always BEGINS in the home first!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Next Generation

"It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men."
- Fredrick Douglas







*This last photo is my favorite, for it shows a table of GROWING YOUNG MEN! These students are being equipped to give tours of our facility as well as learn the mission and heart of Common Ground. All of them are apart of our after school program and attend the junior high school behind our building.(maybe one or two are in high school) God is raising up leaders! Oh how we need the presence of more godly men in our hood!!


He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our ancestors to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands. -Psalm 78:5-8

Monday, December 13, 2010

Hearing God's Voice

To know God, to hear from him clearly, to be in a place where things are broken, messy, and what may appear to be hopeless and SEE Him at work is just humbling and amazing to me. I woke up the past couple of nights hearing from the Lord. Having a heavy burden and weightiness to share the gospel with my neighbors like never before. I kept hearing Jeremiah 20:9 ...

But if I say, "I will not mention him or speak any more in his name," his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.."

I've had THREE moms within the past three days share with me their desire to be apart of a bible study in hopes of them knowing God. One mom tonight in our Christmas store shared with me how her 9 yr old is ministering to her.(she didn't use that exact word) What she said was,
" Nicole I just have to tell you that God must have brought yall here, my daughter has changed and I cant believe how God is using her to change me, I too need to change but I will need you to give me that extra push because I don't know how to do it by myself.." what a time I had sharing with Her about CHRIST and the power He wants to make available to her so that she can change and live for Him. This mom lives in one of the worst secs of a housing project in our neighborhood, random gun fire is known to brake out , many times in broad day light. Yet, this is where I believe the Lord wants me to go. I heard a sermon this past Sunday on God's Sovereignty in the birth of Christ. It was very encouraging to think about how God had been at work behind the scenes of all the events that lead up to Christ our KING being born in a manger.
I was also challenged as the minister shared that we as Christians must remember to NOT leave Jesus, little sweet baby Jesus in that manger. We must remember that Jesus grows up as a man, a WISE King who calls us to do things that will involve risk, FAITH, and love. Yes, this little sweet baby Jesus calls us to suffer for HIS NAME sake. As I reflect on Christ birth I am thankful for the Sovereignty of God. Nothing about the leaders, Mary, Joseph or where Christ was born was a mistake at that time. It was all apart of God's plan to send us a SAVIOR. There is so much comfort in knowing God is in control. I tell you, it is the only thing that makes my heart glad, encouraged and full when I witness many of the destructive patterns of those in my neighborhood. That mom yesterday looked me in the eyes and said, "Nicole, I know sometimes yall don't think you are making an impact, but you are, and people like me and my child are being changed, i just really wanted to share that with you"
I looked at her and responded by saying," my friend, it isn't us, its all Jesus, let me tell you what He has done for me and I know He wants to do the same for you".

Man, what a JOY and HONOR it is to share such wonderful news with others. I am so unworthy to carry this Gospel,(good news). God knew that too, and so in that He uses weak, men and women to accomplish ONLY something He can do, so that ALL would know WHO HE IS! God is at work here, I must ALWAYS remember this. Every detail is apart of His Sovereign plan.
Amen!

"Not to us, O LORD, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness."
-Psalm 115:11

...but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed..."- John 3:b

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Eagle Eye

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. -2 Corinthians 4:38


God rocked my world this weekend. Just when you think things could not prove to be more broken, messy, and burdensome, they turn out to be just that. I cant lie, at one point I felt such a strong sense of hopelessness for our kids. My chest felt as if it was about to cave in as I begin to anxiously think about how their sin, (including my own) effects so many people. Its like a disease, killing all those in its path. As I was writing in my journal tonight, the verse above was written on the bottom of one of my pages. I was just asking the Lord to reveal His presence in such mess. He did. I found in that verse that my vision must be that of the eagle, paying close attention to everything as it unfolds, watching details of Gods work before us as we minister to those hurting around us. Keeping my vision AWAY from the things that are seen, ( earthly pleasures, pain and hurt around me) but keeping my gaze on the things that are UNSEEN ( Heaven, Christ our HOPE putting an end once and for all to teenage pregnancy, sex at a young age, drugs, prostitution, poverty)

The bible tells us in Hebrews 11 that FAITH is being sure of what we HOPE for, and certain of what we do not see. Well, I am certain that God is good, and redemption is just around the corner. My HOPE is in the LORD and all that He WILL accomplish for the little ones we minister too. By FAITH I am believing all HIS promises are TRUE, one being that He is working all things out for the good of those who love Him and called according to His purposes, and two that we as a staff will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; and be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings. The pain, the brokenness and burdens of my city are all temporary, God is NOT done, I see a thousand resurrections in the future. Praise God!!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Jesus and Nothing Else




Defeated, discouraged , & down. Yup, the 3 D's is what I feel right now. (wow, and this is my Thanksgiving post..so sadd) I just want the LORD!! Can I share that? Can I tell you how I am so tired of Americanized Christianity, so tired of missing out on God's goodness & presence because of my own selfishness, unrighteous anger, moodiness, and or complaining spirit. As I was writing in my journal and crying out to God, the following song lyrics welled up in my heart:

I Need More Of You (More Than The Air I Need To Breathe)
I Need More Of You (More Than The Water That I Drink)
more Of You (I Need You So Much Jesus)

I Need More Of You (More Than My Eyes I Use To See)
I Need More Of You (More Than My Heart That Needs To Beat)
more Of You (I Need The Risen Savior)
you (I Need The Lord Of Lords)
you (I Need You So Much More)
(I Need You More And More)

oh Lord I'm Chasin,my Soul Is Thirsty,oh Lord Please Fill Me...and When You Have Filled To The Top please Give Me Some More and I'll Still Want More....can't Get Enough Lord

I Need More Of You (More Than The Earth Beneath My Feet)
I Need More Of You (I Need You More Than Anything)
more Of You (I Need The Lord Of All)
you (I Need You Most Of All)
you (I Need You More)

That's just it. I NEED Jesus, I don't want NOTHING ELSE sprinkled on top, added, or removed. I just WANT THE LORD and a CLEAN HEART to serve HIM LIKE I SHOULD. I am asking HIM to revive me tonight in so many areas where I am dead. God, knows I am THANKFUL for the Holy Spirit and the words " He who began a good work in YOU will complete it". Oh Father how I really really believe that. Show yourself STRONG!!


The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit ,a broken and contrite heart,

O God, you will not despise- Psalm 51:17

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

When You Shop Black Friday, Think of CGM Christmas Store

We're excited! Its that time of the year again!

Font sizeCommon Ground Montgomery
2010 Christmas Store

This is our fourth annual Christmas Store that serves in our neighborhood and allows you and your family a special opportunity to participate.


We have two very important goals:

1.To provide the Kids in our neighborhood the joy of receiving some toys for Christmas that they might not otherwise get.
2.To offer the parents and guardians of these kids the gift of dignity as they are provided an opportunity to purchase toys at an affordable rate

WE NEED YOUR HELP....
Purchase any toy for kids up to the age 14
Leave Price tag intact or leave receipt in bag
Donate money of gift card from Toys R Us
Drop off at Common Ground Montgomery 1516 Mobile Road 36108
Consider becoming a volunteer at our Christmas Store

The donated toys will be sold at affordable rates to the parents and guardians of the kids in our programs. The proceeds will then be donated to one or two families in the neighborhood that are experiencing immediate financial stress.

Drop Off Days Are Limited....
Monday,November 29, thru Wednesday, December 15th
(office hours 9a.m.-3 p.m. Mon-Fri)

Need More Info? Email us- office@cgmal.org or call Kevin King..657-7049

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Jam of the Week-Level 3:16-Tell Em

New music, from an up and coming new young group of believers. I am looking forward to the debut of their album. Check them out.


For more info about Level 3:16, check them out here.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Dat Word!














One of the things I really appreciated about Secret Church was the privilege to sit for 6 hours and hear the word of God preached. No announcements, no skits, no jokes, just the word of God. I was convicted as well of how often in the past I have sat in worship service thinking about all the other 2900 things I have to do when I leave. Many of my brothers and sisters in the faith who are dying to have what I did that one night, the chance to sit with anticipation, listen intently, joyously at Gods word. One of the things I was reminded of in Secret Church that night was how God reveals Himself comprehensively in the WORD.

The law of the LORD is perfect,refreshing the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant,giving light to the eyes. The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the LORD are firm, and all of them are righteous.They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb. By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward.-Psalm 19:7-11

The Word of God is complete. The Word is relevant. The Word is good. The Word is clear. The Word is eternal. The Word is True.

The Church's response...

The Word transforms us. The Word makes us wise. The Word satisfies us. The Word enlightens us. The Word awes us. The Word makes us righteous. When the Word is absent in our worship..

Our response is manufactured. The result is pleasing to self. When the Word is apparent in our worship.. Our response is authentic. The result is pleasing to God.

We don't come to church to have some music change us, or some motivational words by the pastor to encourage us. God's word alone must be preached into the lives of the congregation.

The men(Elders) who lead us should be men who teach the Word of Christ. Men who know the WORD extensively and communicate the Word effectively.

The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.-1Timothy 5:17

I am so thankful for the men who are currently shepherding our flock and even the one who is to come. :) We must remember God's Word is very precious, we must thank Him for the privilege to sit under such teachers. We must also keep those in leadership in our prayers. The have such a heavy job before them. Let's give thanks today for dat Word! the song below was played during a small break in Secret Church. Check it out:

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Be You!



"Why do you act like a boy?
" is what Cha-Cha was asked today at school.

Cha-Cha is like any other normal child growing up in the hood(or America for that matter) She is a girl who loves sports, she plays basketball, and baseball. She even was on the cheer leading team last year. She plays the drums in the band. She likes to climb trees and rough house many of the kids around the building from time to time.(like alot-lol) She is who she is and I love her for that. ( to hear Cha-Cha story go here)

This young girl sat in the ministry building today and shared with me how she was teased at school for not dressing as "prissy" as the other girls. She begins to share with me how it starting to bother her a little that things are being said about her.

Cha-Cha-"Mrs Nicole, it really hurts, they say that I need to stop acting the way I do or dressing the way I do, but I think its because they don't know how to play sports as well as me...I don't know...when they said what they said to me I hurried and ran to the bathroom to look in the mirror...and you know what I saw when I looked in the mirror... I saw God's creation starring back at me, I saw a girl who was beautiful, because God created me in his image"

Me- "That's right baby, you are beautiful, there is only ONE of you and God made you perfect just the way you are"

I grabbed her and I just lost it. I held that child and I just wept over the battle she has to face day to day for just wanting to be who God created her to be. Our culture has it soo screwed and of course now our children are picking up on the same mentality.

I told Cha Cha to continue to remind her self of the truth, "God is pleased with who you are." Oh, how I long for girls everywhere to know the TRUTH, how I long for even a 32 yr old woman like myself to remember, I am fearfully and wonderfully made. We have gots to tell these girls more often they are beautiful, and help them to fight against the media/culture and its images. Though Cha Cha was challenged as to who she is, God brought TRUTH back to her heart, she believed it and walked in it. I have learned a lesson from her I will never forget. God wants me to be me and not someone else. I am me for a reason and that reason and ONLY that reason ALONE, He wants and will use for HIS glory and for the proclamation of the Gospel.


The Lord your God is in your midst,

a mighty one who will save;

he will rejoice over you with gladness;

he will quiet you by his love;

he will exult over you with loud singing.-

Zephaniah 3:17

A Better Way




I remember as a little girl watching my mom fight a boyfriend. Things got worst as he pulled a gun out on her and shot her in the leg in front of my younger brother and I. I remember hanging out with the local gangs and getting angry with someone riding up on ya turf, which meant handling conflict with gun fire and fist fights.

Hood mentality- we end our disputes and conflict through pain or death upon the other person.

Growing up that's all I saw. When you are mad you fight your differences out. Today, I was reminded that God has a BETTER way, and that way brings peace and healing to both parties involved.

I, along with a friend, mediated conflict tonight between two women in our hood. It was the most humbling, the most beautiful thing I have ever witnessed in my life. Pain that runs deep for five years. Bitterness that have taken root and has grown into a full blown forest. BUT, GOD in his mercy, in HIS GRACE, in HIS GOODNESS, reconciled a wife with the woman whom her husband has slept around with for years. How does that happen?
By this POWERFUL Gospel that YOU and I have the privileged of preaching. No guns involved, no razors, no bats, only words of our Savior...

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

I sat in that room tonight weeping for the hearts of these women, weeping with joy over Gods word as I watched the Holy Spirit use it transform lives.God IS doing something amazing, HE was right there in this room displaying HIS POWER in a way I had never seen. Oh, I am filled with so much joy, God knows what we need, we needed to see HIM WORK, we were hungry to see HIM MOVE around us. These ladies have a long journey ahead of them, but I do believe its promising. One that doesn't involve death, but life. One that Honors a RISEN King and displays His goodness to all those around them. This is the gospel at work, it doesn't get any better than this!

....and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
Colossians 1:20


Saturday, November 6, 2010

Drinking From A Fire Hydrant




The title of this post is literally how I feel. The image in this post shows what I have been up to this weekend: Secret Church. What is Secret Church you ask? It is an intense time of Bible study (6 hours – from 6pm- 12am) focused on a particular theme. The theme for this time was 'The Body Of Christ' (so what I needed in the season of life I am in) Secret Church is also a reminder that all over the world Christians are forced to gather secretly to study the Word because of persecution. The format of the event is similar to how believers in other parts of the globe gather to read the Bible and to worship Christ with other Christians. It was AMAZING!! This is NOT a blog about all that I have leaned. I am still trying to process it all and I know its going to take longer than a month. I was telling my husband this morning I am looking forward to my time in the word this week. I am going over all these notes and going to let God's word richly dwell within me. So there definitely wont be a detailed post. Sorry. I got a lot of chewing to do.

However,I will say this,I left with a heavy burden for my brothers and sisters around the world and I am also burden for you. The Body of Christ. I want to server you through prayers. I want to use this post to pray for you, your family, your ministry, your intimacy with the Lord. So please, please in my comment section leave prayer request for me(and others who read..so that means those of you reading DO PRAY) to use to pray over you this up coming week. If you don't feel comfortable leaving certain request, please email them to me :mrsnicolek@yahoo.com. Be sure to check the Church at Brook Hills website for past and present audio of Secret Church gatherings.

Have a joyous weekend!


"Our relationship with each other is the criterion the world uses to judge whether our message is truthful- Christian community is the final apologetic" -Francis Schaeffer



Monday, November 1, 2010

Grace Period-Because..real help don't hurt!



Kai-" mama, have you heard the story about why there are so many places around us that say "Pay day Loans? I know because daddy told me ...."

As I sat and listened to my 7 year old explain the story of predatory lenders, tears form in my eyes because I then wonder, do many people in my neighborhood know how this all got started and how they are being robbed? Probably not.

Each year an estimated $5 billion is robbed from those being "helped" by Payday Loan industry.


America's working poor are striped of hard earned income paying fees on small loans that average less then $350. ( on average they will spend $800 dollars on a loan of just $350)


19 Million Americans will access payday loans this year. 19 MILLION!!


The average payday loan borrower makes more than 7 loans annually.


Efforts to regulate the industry have increased Internet lending not curbed industry growth.

As I sat and heard these statics my heart just dropped. What the heck is going on!? It saddens me that the poor are being robbed like this. I have been wondering and researching for a year now as to how all this can be put to an end. While at the CCDA conference I sat in a seminar by a ministry called, Grace Period.

Grace Period is a club who's members willingly become contractually obligated to save. Using the pooled funds of savers to help others become savers, Grace Period is changing the cycle of financial dependence in its community.

Grace Period founding Concepts:
1. People with emergency funds do not need predatory lenders.
2.In exchange for immediate access to money, many borrowers will commit themselves to becoming savers.
3.Savers joining together create a lending pool.




Grace Period - Join The Movement from Patrick Drudy on Vimeo.

I am so thankful for the HOPE and HELP that is out here. God provides for our neighbors every need. Just when I think something isn't covered by HIM he shows me otherwise. He is so wise and so mindful of us and our communities. I cant wait for us to have a ministry like this in our hood. By God's grace,let's put an end to such lending and show this type of justice to all those around us.


For more information as to how you can launch this powerful ministry in your hood contact someone at the information below or visit their website.



Grace Period Inc.
623 E. Ohio Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15212
info@graceperiod.org
www.graceperiod.org/jointhemovement
412-322-3151




Life on Life



I heart these girls. It has been a joy, and privilege to do life on life with them. During our after school program we meet three days a week for cheer practice. During that time, we work on cheers of course, but also, what it means to be healthy physically, good eating habits,( basically I spend time telling them to stay away from the CANDY LADY-lol- I mean really, they will drink like 10 Guzzlers in a day) and bible passages that deal with character and working together.


Through Cheer leading, God has given me relationships with Grandparents, Mothers, Fathers and a very intimate look into the lives of many of these girls. Out of all the girls you see, three have fathers at home, only two are living in families where their parents are married and living for the Lord. One had her mother murdered by her boyfriend. Others are being brought up by grandparents because mom isn't around. These girls are in some very tough situations, but in all, they show up at our center with BIG smiles on their faces, happy to see us all and each other. We are a family, we are not trying to make up for the family they have, we are just extended it and they LOVE it. I will say, my parents who are involved are the BEST. They come along side of me from time to time and will try to reaffirm the best way they know how all the things we learn throughout the week. I love that. We just had our first fund raiser for our team that a mom helped me with and she helped us raise over $1000! The girls were so thrilled. In all our fun, and work, I make sure they always remember who and what this is all about.Our team verse for this year is Colossians 3:23 that says:


Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord and not for men....


God has used this verse tremendously in my heart and I am, I really am seeing Him work in their hearts. Those who know me, know I heart "older woman", "younger woman" relationships. I have the joy to invest in the next generation of wives, moms, career women, and for some grandparents. What I show and tell them about Christ will have an impact that is too high for me to understand. What the LORD WILL DO with all they learn is to lofty for me to understand. IT gives me goose bumps to think about what the LORD can accomplish through them. As I minister to them, I am being changed. God's work in them is saving me from my selfishness, and worldliness. I pray these girls will not conform any longer to the patterns of the hood. I pray this is the generation that teen pregnancy, drug abuse, and domestic violence will no longer show its ugly face. I can see it yall, I have HOPE!

Lets hope and pray together


Friday, October 29, 2010

The Blessing Of Thorns




Sorry. Blogging just hasn't been my thing lately. At one point I felt as if I was in a big cloud of mess that seemed as if it would never go away. I aint talking about in my hood either. I am talking about the war that happens when you are parenting your own children. Playing a role in Gods plan in urban missions, and parenting in the midst of homeschooling has been such an emotional roller coaster for me. I am either crying because I want perfection in my child or because I don't think I am equipped to school her.

All lies. My child will never be perfect. She will never obey outside of GODS GRACE in her life. All of the hard and exhausting work that has to be put into training and instructing in righteousness is all apart of God's plan for me as well as the plans He has for my CHILD. No doubt about that. Today, I am hopeful. Hopeful that God is working in my child's heart, even if I don't see fruit in certain places. Hopeful that Christ has the power to change sinners, and I know it because he changed me. I am Hopeful in Gods GRACE and SOVEREIGNTY. God has allowed parenting during this season to be a challenge for me for purposes only known to Him. I am trying to TRUST and learning to TRUST that they are GOOD and that HE WHO HAD CALLED ME IS FAITHFUL AND WILL DO IT! God's will for me, for us, as parents is to give THANKS in all things.
(1 Thess. 4) Let's hold each other to that.



No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. -1 Cor. 10:13

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. "I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. (Ezekiel 36:26-27)


Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
-2Corinthians 12:8-9

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Love Is The Final Fight

This song is so powerful. I listened to the words and my heart begins to beat fast. Love will break all barriers, bring hope to the hopeless,life to the lifeless and is the heartbeat of reconciliation. I am so, so very much thankful for John M. Perkins and all those who have fought for us, African Americans to be where we are today. Though, sadly, the screams of racism still cries out today, we can find HOPE in this wonderful GOSPEL that brings forgiveness and love to all generations. John Perkins story is living proof that love is louder than violence, louder than hatred, and louder than racism.


Switchfoot -'The Sound' (John M. Perkins Blues)






Lyrics:
Boom... The Static comes in slow
You can feel it grow
Our stream of conscience flows
Under the streets below

The rivers made of sound
Still running underground
Runs like a silent flood
We run as thick as blood


Can you hear it rise
Up from the ground
Can’t drown it out
Can you hear it now

This is the sound of a heartbeat
This is the sound of the discontented mouths
Of a haunted nation
We are the voice of breaking down

Can you hear me?
This is the sound of the desperation bound
By our own collision
We are the voice of breaking down

The static comes alive
Beneath the broken skies
John Perkins said it right
Love is the final fight

Let it rise above
Rise above
There is no song
Louder than love


This is the sound of a heartbeat
this is the sound of the discontented mouths
of a haunted nation
we are the voice of breaking down

Can you hear me?
This is the sound of the desperation bound
by our own collision
we are the voice of breaking down

Down,Down,Down

Let it rise above
Up from the ground
Can't drown it out
Can you hear it now

This is the sound of a heartbeat
This is the sound of the discontented mouths
Of a haunted nation, we are the voice of breaking down

Can you hear me
This is the sound of the desperation bound
by our condition, we are the voice of breaking down

This is the sound
This is the sound



If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames,but have not love, I gain nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

Friday, October 22, 2010

Fall Fam Fest 2010

Last weekend, we hosted our first annual Fall Fam Fest. This joyous occasion was a time for us to give our parents a visible and practical view of what a day after school is like for their kids when they come to our ministry building. It was such a fun time! I walked around the whole day just feeling overwhelmed with happiness, and hope. This was huge for us as a ministry because we haven't really engaged the parents like this before. Though, many didn't come , we chose to give thanks to all those God sent out. The parents spent the afternoon ( in 3 groups) rotating between the five learning stations that their kids spend time in each day. In those stations they heard from each staff member as to what specifically the kids were experiencing on a daily basis. It was amazing! The only sad part about the day for me was the lack of men presence. We did have a couple of dads, and uncles, but for the most part it was all WOMEN. This is such a burden and sad reality. I know what its like to grow up in a home without a dad and mom had to play the roles as both. As a child you deal with a great amount of loneliness, bitterness, anger and you just feel so unloved by the one who isn't there. Please pray for the men in our community. Most are locked up, some are just not around, some are living down the street from their own kids and don't even acknowledge them. Leaders are so important in Gods kingdom, I am praying the Lord does an amazing work with this next generation in spite of what they grow up seeing.

Here are a few photos of our day. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

What's Going On


I am starting to become a slacker (when it comes to blogging) ... I know.. please forgive me. Things are crazy busy. Its almost basketball season so me and the cheerleaders are working hard at fundraising and practicing. I have met new moms with kids in our program and I have been praying and really trying to build deep meaningful relationships with them and their kids. Homeschooling is still a BEAST.. I wont give up, though I have wanted to soo many times last week, its ridiculous!! Keep praying, we really believe God wants us to do this.
This Saturday is our first girl sleepover of the year. I am excited about that! Fun, food, and late night chatter and silliness is loong over due. I love having these kids n my home!

On Wednesdays, My hubbie and Keisha have started to the 13 Letters Bible Study with the Jr High kids and that started off great last week. I help facilitate (which I am thankful for) and boy, this is going to be great, the kids are already responding so well to the curriculum, we shall see how this goes. I really am looking forward to seeing how the Lord will work in the hearts of our middle school kids. My Lord they need it. Junior high is just soo hard on many of them.

God is doing some pruning in my heart. I have been feeling really down, confused and just plain alone. I am more emotional these days then I have ever been and very moody. Not really sure what that is all about. Please pray for ya girl.The Lord is still using my struggles with infertility to sanctify me. I am in the fight of my life ladies and gents. God wants my hearts affections and I continuously give them away to things that are temporary. I am thankful for the struggle, I am experiencing the LORD in some hard and encouraging ways. I'll be back soon until then....
Later Gators...


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Alberta













Pretty girl, I have missed you. Whenever I drive pass your old house and wave to the folks sitting I think of you often. Man, I miss you so. I prayed that you wouldn't have to live under such circumstances and God answered my prayers ( and of others of course). I miss having you in my home, I miss seeing those pretty eyelashes, and hearing that raspy voice. Your voice was so deep and you would carry on a conversation with me as if you were a 50 year old woman. I don't lie awake at night thinking about you living in such broken circumstances. I don't roll over at night when I hear an ambulance go to your old house in fear of thinking something happen to you. I am so thankful God is faithful and hears the cry of His children, He has plans for you and they are unfolding so beautifully.


That's why I cried when I SAW you the other day....

You walked pass me at the state fair. We made eye contact and I said "hello" and you smiled and waved back. You didn't seem to remember me. But you were okay. You were dressed so pretty. You were dressed so pretty, your hair was done and you looked happy. I turned around with tears in my eyes and watched you go by. I heard you speak and I just smiled. Oh, how I wish I would have hugged you.

God is good, you are doing well with your new family and He, He is so kind to have given me the chance to see you. I am so thankful. You will always have a place in my heart. I am encouraged that God continues to take care of those whom He loves, no matter how far apart we are from each other.


Praying I see you again






Keeping It Real


In my time alone with God I am studying God's grace. I am so desperate for God's power to be strong in my life. I was sharing with a group of women in our Monday night bible study that God has convicted me of my anger and frustration during the hours of 8-2. Homeschooling. I suck at this. It just brings tears to my eyes when I think about how hard this has been. I feel like such a failure. One of the heart issues the Lord just keeps bringing up is my battle to want to be in control. Most of my frustrations and anger come from not having things my way.


What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you?..... James 4:1

I love order, I wrestle with perfectionism. I freak out when things are out of wack. How in the WORLD did I end up in urban ministry, because bay,baaay, nothing EVER goes as plan here. God cracks me up!! (as I am balling like a baby right now) I am having to repent every morning towards my child, I told some friends of mine that my husband and my child will soon diagnosed me with bipolar if I don't get it together.

But...

That's it. I can't and wont have it together. God knew what He was doing when He called our family to this. This was HIS good, pleasing and acceptable will for me.I read the blogs of other moms who home school and I am amazed, many with multiple children and I'm like, "how in the world does she do all that", "SHE DID WHAT?-make HER OWN LAUNDRY DETERGENT??! What the heck?!!!! Clearly, I need to get saved!! (LOL)


That's when God uses a friend and His word to remind me, "Nicole, that's the grace God has given them, not you. What Grace looks like for me will not be the same for you." God promises to provide the GRACE I need to do what I AM SUPOSE TO DO. I cant preach this sermon enough to myself. God knows the natural bent of all our hearts and knows what idols we hold to dear. This is a way HE HAS CHOSEN to remove mine. I want to finish well with homeschooling and as one friend so wisely said the other night, "my child, is my neighbor" That's right, she is and I must love her as the LORD commanded, better than myself. Just as I want to love the poor, needy, the teenager around me, I must love my child in the same way.I must practice (because godliness just doesn't happen, it must be practiced) what it means to be slow to speak,quick to listen, slow to get angry. Remembering the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

Pray for me.




For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age,while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. Titus 2:10-14

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Lord, Please Not Another One!!


•About 1 million teenage girls in the U.S. (which is about 10% of the girls age 15-19) become pregnant each year.
•It is estimated that approximately 1/3 of pregnant teens have abortions, 14% have miscarriages, and 52% give birth.
•About 72% of teens who give birth are not married.
•About 75% of teens who give birth are first-time mothers.
•Over 175,000 of the teens who give birth each year are under the age of 18.
•Eighty percent of young teenage moms end up in poverty and on welfare.
•The sons of young teenage moms are 2.7 times more likely to end up in prison than sons born to girls who did not bear children until they were at least 20.
•If teenage girls would delay childbearing until the age of 20.5, the incarceration rate across the U.S would decrease by 3.5%. This would amount to a long-range savings of one billion dollars in correctional costs and three billion dollars in law enforcement costs.
•If teenage girls delayed childbearing until after the age of 21, the rate and costs would be reduced even further. In addition, if less of these young men are incarcerated, then they are able to better contribute to the support of their own children.
•A study in Illinois found that children of teenage mothers are twice as likely to be abused and neglected than are children of 20 or 21 year old mothers. It is estimated that as many as 5% of foster-care placements would not be needed if teenage childbearing were eliminated.

Source: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention — Fact Sheet #50, Jan. 1997, Adolescent Motherhood: Implications for the Juvenile Justice System by Rebecca A. Maynard, Ph.D., and Eileen M. Garry



It's been 3 odd years or so sense we have been involved in urban ministry and I don't believe the time here or any CCDA conference has helped me get use to the number of middle school and teenage pregnancies that happen around me everyday. I just dont get it. It's becoming such a huge part of our community that it isnt shoking anymore. That bothers me and I am tired of seeing it. The statiscs above bothers me and so do the reality of it all. Lord, please help!!

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Fatherless and A Couple Of Links


Now all I see is money cars jewels stars/ womanizers/ tough guys/ guns knives and scars/ drug pushers/ thug/ strippers/ fast girls/ fast life/ everything I wanted and everything I could ask life/ if this aint livin then they lied well/ Guess I married an old wives tale/ wow fail/ I don't know another way to go/ this is the way they ever showed/I got this emptiness inside that got fighting for approval cause I missed out on daddy saying way to go/ aint get that verbal affirmation/ know how to treat a woman/ know how to fix an engine to keep the car running/ so I'm look at the media/ and I'm following what they feed me/ rap stars, trap stars, who ever wants to lead me/ Even though they lie, they still tell me they love me/ they say I'm good at bad things/ but atleast they're proud of me/
-Lecrae 'Just Like you'


These lyrics are being spoken from the heart of a man who grew up in a fatherless home and the effects it had on him. Just like this artist, our boys are having to get their cues on manhood from whomever is around them at the time,drug pushers, T.V. shows, rap artist. Where have all the men gone? I sit and trying to imagine a community, as well as ministry participation where there is much men involvement. Oh, how that would transform our world as we know it. My heart breaks tonight.

I want to leave you with a link to a very good article on the Fatherless. When you are done there, go and read the statistics on the impact of boys growing up in a fatherless household. Please pray with me that God would raise up more godly men to impact our communities and churches. Pray that He would send an out pouring of his spirit amongst our generation so that the ones that follow will not suffer.Children without fathers need men who love Jesus to practice what God the Father teaches them. May the Lord raise up more men to do so.



Patrick Moynihan, 1966, America Magazine

"... there is one unmistakable lesson in American history: a community that allows large numbers of young men to grow up in broken families, dominated by women, never acquiring any stable relationship to male authority, never acquiring any set of rational expectations about the future--that community asks for and gets chaos. Crime, violence, unrest, disorder. . .are not only to be expected, they are very near to inevitable. And they are richly deserved."

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Harvest Is Plentiful-25 Most Dangerous Neighborhoods




Listed below are the 2010 Most Dangerous Neighborhoods. This exclusive data was developed by Dr. Andrew Schiller's team at Neighborhoodscout.com and based on FBI data from all 17,000 local law enforcement agencies.This year Chicago took the spot from Cincinnati, while Atlanta has the highest number of neighborhoods making the list(4).


You can review the complete list here. As you observe and read please keep each city in ya prayers, and pray that the Lord would help us, the church,RUN(as one wise man said) to such areas with the gospel.



He told them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.-Luke 10:2