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

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Humility & The Kingdom Of God -Intro.

It's amazing. God has and is reshaping my views on who He is and what is the Kingdom of God. I'm really trying to grow in learning and understanding,just what is the Kingdom of God. In the past, I would have given you a picture of the Kingdom being, Gods people being very knowledgeable in their doctrine. Being able to call out all Five Points of Calvinism(TULIP).  ( in NO way am I saying theology is NOT important, it is... I am speaking of having a theology that does not lead to application!)
I would have broken down to you half of the Puritan paperback books I would find myself immersed in day after day. If you weren't of reformed theology you or what you thought, didn't sit well at all with me. SOMETIMES, I would struggle with pride in knowing my child could quote the infamous Catechisms by age 3, oh how my pride loved that. I'm a reader, I love to read and the more I read the more I found that knowledge puffs up. After coming on staff, I found that as much as all that information I knew,which was good, and very beneficial to my walk with Christ,there was a picture of God I was lacking. There were pictures of the Kingdom I couldn't accept due to all my book readings and knowledge. When I think back, I'm wondering with all that information I had, all the books I read, where was the practical living? Where was the tolerance for others and what they believed. My brother and sisters in other denominations were busy(not in a show off way) being the hands and fit of Jesus while I was sitting around asking others, "what good books have you read by (insert favorite author here)". So, with that being said, I'm thankful for having learned all I did while being exposed to one area of scripture and view of God, yet, I'm just as thankful for where I am now. Being challenged on what I believe, and asking myself  how does it play it self out in loving and serving the poor??  What good is all your book reading and doctrine if it doesn't move or stir you to action, action that leads to God's glory( of course there is many ways to apply). Where we are as a family,and what we see and learn you can't get from out of a book. You won't learn in seminary,and you won't get it from associating yourself with certain crowds of believers. The Kingdom of God consist of many things.
My goal this year is to grow in Christ like humility!  May we all pursue all things for the sake of God's glory and the benefit of our neighbors!

I'll be back to share a few inside glimpse of what God has shown me in my life personally in another blog post.

  The pursuit of knowledge for its own sake, without seeking God, is foolishness.

“Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom . . . but I learned that this, too, is a chasing after the wind. For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief”
- Ecclesiastes1:17:18


 "He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God".-Micah 6:8





Thursday, December 8, 2011

Smiling

God is rocking my world.
4 1/2 years into ministry and God still continues to reveal Himself to me and give me glimps of HOPE. Some days are tough, some good, some great! Even through all the difficulty, I still have days that make me feel fresh, and zealous as I did when we first began our journey. I've been studying gratitude a lot lately. I must say it has done wonders for my soul. I think this new perspective I'm gaining has a lot to do with it. I lay awake in bed tonight smiling at the future, at the possibilities for my hood and the kids. I really believe God is doing a new thing and has for a while now. I can't wait to see what the new year holds for Common Ground, the possibilities are endless!
What a privilege it is to serve the Lord!











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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

CGM-Year End Letter


transforming communities by investing in urban youth
Thank You
Bryan Kelley
 
Article Image
As I reflect over the last year my hope is to glorify God, encourage you, and ask for your help.
   Our vision continues to become a reality as we see lives and the neighborhood transformed in many ways.
   My wife drove around the corner from our home and saw a beautiful picture of the kingdom of God the other day. A father was sitting on the front porch with his daughter, calling out words for her school spelling bee. Her younger sister sat at his feet watching. The picture of a godly father and husband taking responsibility for and nurturing his children is rare in our neighborhood and my wife was overcome with thankfulness as she sat and watched. 
   If I were writing a parable to fit in with Jesus' I would write this one as: "The Kingdom of God is like a man who was lost, finding his identity in a gang and living out hate and isolation in drive-by shootings. He shot people and in return was shot. The King loved him so much, even in his rebellion and isolation, that he sent some of his own sons to show him love and share the good news of His Kingdom. His heart was changed upon hearing the gospel and he repented of his sin and lifestyle and he and his whole family called upon the name of the Lord." And now this same the man is representing the King in our neighborhood by being a father and a husband, and leading many other kids daily to the King and away from gangs.
  This snapshot of the vision God has given us is one of many we have seen this past year. Pray for us, for this family, and our community as we all have a LONG way to go.
  Consider some of the things I am thankful for:
 
  •   In the last year generous people contributed towards our brand new gym floor, where after-school programming occurs and new basketball teams now play.
  •   Four homes were completed by our partner ministry, House2House, that we launched.
  •   Our “Annex” building was completed across the street, which now houses our new Urban SEED Xchange youth entrepreneurship program and House2House.
  •   All the funds for the T-shirt company machinery our kids are starting have been pledged, and production on shirts will begin soon!
  •   We are now moving toward hiring teachers to help us further develop our kids academically.
  •   We have now begun “Discipleship” groups with 26 older kids outside of the programs. We trust that God would use these groups to build leaders.
  •   Strong Tower at Washington Park, a wonderful new partner church plant, has now begun in our community and is focusing much of its ministry on the families of the kids we serve.
  Would you consider a year-end gift to help us continue to invest in the kids of Washington Park and Gibbs Village? 
 
  I want to thank you on behalf of my family, our staff family, and many families in our neighborhood for the prayer and personal and financial investments you have made over the last year. It would be crazy and foolish on my part not to see that God is using us together to impact this community and to change us for the better in the process as we work together. Thank you for your partnership.
 
Psalm 34:3,
 
Bryan Kelly
Christmas Store
Toys and Gift Cards are pouring in!!! Thanks to all who are giving, have given, and those who are still planning to! We appreciate your help in making our 5th Annual Christmas Store a success for our community.
Website
If you've been to our website recently, you'll have noticed some outdated material. We are currently in the process of getting it updated and (hopefully) in a format where we can update all the time! 







Monday, December 5, 2011

2011 CGM Christmas Store Flyer

It seems Christmas is almost upon us and our annual Christmas Store is almost ready to kick off as well. I was talking with Bryan Kelly and it's apparent that the whole staff is looking forward to another successful Christmas Store.


However, we are currently only at a quarter of what we normally raise for the Christmas Store. I understand that everyone is cutting back and that budgets are tight, but we would be remiss if we didn't send out a second appeal for money, gift cards to Wal-Mart and Toys-R-Us, and volunteers to help during our Christmas Store event.

I recently talked with one of our building's pest control technicians, Richard. He was telling me about how he's trying to teach his children about what it means to give, especially during the holiday season, and not just receive. He and his family have recently begun trying to make a tradition out of finding a family in need, finding out the ages of the children, and taking his own kids to the store and allowing them to pick out toys and gifts for the family they would help. He said his youngest has already come up to him, this year, and asked: "Daddy, when are going to buy toys for the other kids?" You could see in his eyes and hear in his voice the pride of a father over his child. It was quite encouraging for me to hear his story.

Whether or not you give are able to give to our Christmas Store, or any other worthy program this Christmas season, we hope you are able to enjoy fellowship with friends and family and to have sweet, sweet communion with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as we celebrate His birth and the arrival and manifestation of God's grace for sinners.

Grace and peace to all who love the Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible,
(and Merry Christmas)

Matt Wolfe
Media Director
Common Ground Montgomery





Saturday, December 3, 2011

CGM 2011 Fam Fest Video

The video below was shown today at our 2011 Fam Fest. It's a parent/kid interview on what  is Common Ground. All parents and kids in video are apart of our program and many have been for the last 4 or so years. Our Fam Fest is held twice a year, once in the fall and again in the spring. Today, was great! Great food, great fun, great fellowship with community!! God has brought us very far, and we are expecting to grow great lengths over the next couple of months. (exciting details to come)
Hope you enjoy the video. I cried as I saw it for the first time, what a picture of Gods goodness and redemption!

Enjoy!

CGM - Common Ground Be Like... from R6L [matt wolfe] on Vimeo.




Tuesday, November 29, 2011

What I like to do at Common Ground

I sure do miss my blogging friends! I'll be back to blogging this week. :) Until then, enjoy this small interview from one of our kiddos as he explain what he loves  about Common Ground.

Hope your Thanksgiving was great!


CGM - What do you like to do... from R6L [matt wolfe] on Vimeo.



Saturday, November 12, 2011

Houston, We Have A Problem

*none of the girls in pic are quoted below-Check them out throwing up their 116 at the Lecrae Rehab Tour*




"I want a baby so bad" -Age 19




"I'm pregnant, it's gon be me and the bay forever..." weeks later.....

"Man i want a (bad word for boy) who gone do for me n miy baby not just for me cuz im with them i have a new person to take care of the same way i take care of miy self" -Age 14




"I love mi baby daddy, its gon be us forever... weeks later..... " I dont come second to any chick, no body cares about me" -Age 14




"Im pregnant....I really am! You betta get ready to take care of this baby!!" -15 year old who repeatedly lies about being pregnant to her boyfriends..







"Mrs. Nicole, "T" just told me she was pregnant again at school, but she had another abortion" ( this is her second one) -Age 15


Someone once asked me a while ago, what was the toughest thing about urban ministry. Well, there are many, too many to name. But there is one that is heavy most of the time, one that is like the thorn in my side that will never go away. Teen Pregnancy and lack of purity.  Although the rate of teen pregnancy  has been declining in recent years, there is still an alarming number of girls becoming pregnant annually. "approximately one million young women get pregnant each year...More than half a million carry their babies to term, and about two- thirds of them will be unmarried when they give birth" (Skolnick 483)

Dealing with Secondary Infertility is not fun. I have my days when I'm ok, I'm trusting in the Lord, remembering all his promises, then there are days I'm angry, frustrated and just plain ol' depressed.
This thorn has produced lots of compassion and patience. God is teaching me to wait, not just wait on more babies, but wait on Him to move in my hood and in the hearts of the little girls who are having babies themselves.  I know God can work a miracle in this area, He can change the hears of the girls around me and open my womb once again, all for the sake of HIS NAME AND GLORY! I believe that!

New Years is quickly approaching and its time for me to start thinking about what we will do for our 3rd annual purity study. I need suggestions. Our girl count has sky rocketed since last year! Which is VERY EXCITING! More girls, means more reached with the message of purity, dignity and worth!
We will take a break from Princess and the Kiss this year to do something new, and return to that curriculum maybe in a year or two. 

What are some good purity studies you've  heard about? I would love to hear about them. 
Please email me or leave a comment here.


Thanks friends!
Please continue to lift all girls around the world in prayer. May their hearts be turned towards the Lord and His marvelous plans for them.



Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Unashamed Film Campaign

I have missed you guys! I have missed blogging! Time to do some catching up; but, first peep  this film which will give you an insider's look into the underground global christian hip hop movement. Watch, listen, support and pray that the Lord use this film to reach the nations!



Unashamed Film Campaign Video from Unashamed Movie on Vimeo.

Click here to find out how you can HELP!







Sunday, October 9, 2011

Signed Up To Die



I'm always encouraged by the blogs I read.  Some I have listed here, many I don't (only because I hate clutter and for some odd reason I feel like if I add anymore to this site your brain may have a melt down).
The Pastor of our church plant Strong Tower at Washington park, wrote one of the MOST convicting, real, yet encouraging blog post. I wanted to share it with you. I won't post it in its entirety, but I will leave you with the link to check it out. God has only one goal for us here on earth, thats to  KNOW HIM & make HIM known and to all. No matter what the cost, we are called as believers to DIE daily.

Its what we signed up for when Jesus called us to discipleship and we said yes. I pray the message in this blog post brings me to remember the cost of discipleship and the joy of counting this world and all it has to offer as a lost so that I may KNOW HIM.






Wednesday, October 5, 2011

I Will Not Loose Hope





As I look at these faces and I can't help but wonder what their lives will be like10 years from now.

Will they finish high school? Will they be enrolled in college somewhere? (*coughing* THE Alabama State University) Will they be apart of the new thing God is doing in our hood in restoring and building healthy, godly marriages and or relationships??

Or--

Will they have fallen prey to teen pregnancy? Will I see the same girls my daughter is playing with, who I have into my home day in and day out, walking the streets, mind gone from drugs or prostitution?

Lord, I hope NOT. I pray it may never be!! I know God, I know He is powerful, I know He has a plan, I believe He is trustworthy.
Even when I log into Facebook and read about the 14 yr.old thats pregnant, or the 15 year old who has just had her second abortion, even still in tears,and heart burning with saddness, I will look to the hills and remember OUR God, the Father of Jacob, Abraham and Issac is MIGHTY to save! There is hope for those who are not on that path, as well as HOPE for the girls who have fallen. May God have mercy on every little girl in this world. May He restore dignity to the broken, and may HE encourage those are are fighting to stay pure, and walk blamelessly before HiM.

I will not loose HOpE, even though everything around me seems broken. God can and will restore! To HIM be the glory!!

O Israel, hope in the LORD
From this time forth and forever.
Psalm 131:3

Be strong and let your heart take courage,
All you who hope in the LORD.
Psalm 31:24

And now, Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in You.
Psalm 39:7






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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Degree Varsity Award



I once read, "if you want to change the world, mentor a child". Of course I know that Christ is our only HOPE, yet, I also believe Jesus use the impact we have on the next generation to influence what our world will be like. Every Tuesday and Friday, I have the priviledge to be a part of that change I want to see. I get to  hang out with 12 amazing little girls. How? Through our cheerleading team. Our cheerleading program, which started 3 years ago, has become one of CGM favorite extra curricular activites amongst the girls in our after school program. Before then, the girls would always run up to my husband and ask," why are yall always doing stuff for the boys? Ya'll must dont like the girls or somethin". My husband would gently explain to them, He does care for them, it's just that it would look very weird for a baldhead 33 year old man hanging out with a group of middle school and high school girls. #epicfail #prision. No, we dont need that.

Anyway, the Lord quickly gave me a burden to dig up my past love for this sport. I remember cheering back in elementary and junior high(I was even captian one year, can you believe it?) and how much fun it was. I also remember all of the girls I spent time with, including my coach. We had some pretty fun times together. If I didnt have that to do back then, there's no telling what road I may have traveled down. It definitely kept me busy and off the streets. (at least for a little while)

For the past couple of years, we've  had a constant struggle as a team to raise funds to keep this  going. These girls love to cheer, even if we didnt have a team to cheer for, I really believe they would still find a reason to cheer for CGM during other functions. In efforts to not have to deal with such stress of paying for uniforms, I entered the girls into a contest to win $5000. I was contacted a week ago and found out we were finalist!!! I almost fell out when I got the letter! The girls are thrilled and sitting on the edge of their seats, praying the Lord pours His favor out on us to win this money. I cant begin to even tell you how far this will go on this team and even through our community. In order for us to win, we need your help!

Please go to www.facebook.com/dontfretthesweat  :click the Varsity Awards tab to the left and when you see our team pic, click on it to VOTE! Afterwards, please share the link on your profile page and ask your friends to come back DAILY to vote for us! I can, and I can't imagine how the Lord will and could use this money to further HIS KINGDOM and GOSPEL. Being in the lives of these girls through cheerleading, has not only encouraged me, but impacted me as well. Their, hunger for God, zeal for Jesus and one another has blown me away. These girls are growing up in a neighborhood where they are constantly bombarded with lies from the streets(  love of money, sex, pre-teen and teen pregnancy, drugs, alcohol abuse, ect..)  and they're daily having to endure some very difficult, sweat producing moments.

Yet, in the midst of such difficulty they are smilling and rejocing that now, the GIRLS finally has something to do!! Please, help us keep our team alive.

Your VOTE COUNTS!
Last day to vote: Oct. 17 :) Thank you

Saturday, October 1, 2011

We Are Not Forgotten





Outside of our home, our ministry building and a housing project a couple blocks away from my house are the two main places I spend the bulk of my time. Today, my daughter and I celebrated the birthday of a young girl in our neighborhood. We decided to  join in on the fun at her surprise birthday party. There were soo many kids!! I cant even begin to explain how many random children were at this party. I say random because everyone knows when you have a gathering in the projects, people don't care if you know them or not, they are coming to join in on the fun! Many invite themselves to these function and blend in well with YOUR family. I mean it is hilarious!! 
The entire time I was there, I would hear people (outside of the loud songs filled with profanity) say,
"who are you", and "who told you, you could come here", yet, they were never asked to leave. (not that they should, it was just funny)


Anyway, a lot of things that happened at this party really made me nervous. Just the thought of my daughter and other kids being exposed to many things even me as an adult would prefer not to know or see. ( I mean, we were dead smack in the projects, all kind of stuff was going on) I always find myself asking God, "what is the point, like, why am I here outside of building a genuine relationship with my neighbors." Is this really, worth it"?  and "Where are you in all of this"? When life in the hood gets rough, you can at times feel forgotten, forsaken, alone.


As I sat there on the porch of my friends house, many of the neighborhood kids would run up to me and say, "Hey, Ms Micole!!" "Ms. Micole, when Imma get to come to yo house"? Hugging me, kissing me and some would just walk up and lay on my arm. Out of the 20  something kids that where there, I only knew 5. Many of the kids who where calling my name, I had no idea who they were and how they knew me. Why were they so loving? Why is it every time I see them smile, I see heaven? I see Jesus?


Jesus....Jesus.....


That's it. God was there, right dab smack in the middle of the projects at this birthday party amongst all these kids, God showed up. From my view on the porch you could see the flowers that were placed in the grass in remembrance  of two teens who murder from a drive by earlier in the month, and yet, I saw God.
I was reminded today, that I am not forgotten, my neighborhood is not forgotten. Just as these kids knew me and yet, I didn't know them, God was reminding me that HE TOO ALWAYS KNOWS MY NAME and I, my family, these kids are not forgotten, nor forsaken by HIM. My hood is never forgotten. God knows the name of each and ever last child and adult in my neighborhood and is sovereignly watching over us all. 
During those times, of busyness, laziness and pride, when I act as if I don't know God, or because of the idols of my heart I don't remember HIM...God still remembers me. When gun shots fill the streets, screams and cries, God knows, hears our prayers and cries for help and remembers us all. I'm thankful today that I serve a GOD who is forever mindful of me and all the rest of His creation. His grace is amazing, and I desire to just sit in it all the days of my life!




Isaiah 49:16 - "Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands;..."



Thursday, September 15, 2011

U.S. Poverty At a Record High




I was reading an article the other day that lead me to some very disturbing information.(checked it out myself)  It shared that the numbers from the U.S. Census  revealed that nearly 1 in 6 Americans are living in povertyThe poverty rate rose to 15.1 percent and now 46.2 million Americans are living in poverty. This is the highest amount since the Census began recording the statistic 52 years ago.
I continued to read that in the South, it's worst. In 2009, 17.6 million were under the poverty line and by 2010, they had added 1.5 million to that number, sending the poverty rate to 16.9 percent.

My heart breaks at how broken things are in this world. I am even more burden at how the church has failed to respond at times. Some may get offended by this post and say, " that's easy for you to say" or "don't judge us because of where we are and what you do". I say...brethen, have we yet begun to be Christians???  Scripture is so clear on what we are called to do as believers, not just the missionary on staff in the hood, not just the pastor of your local church, ALL OF US! We all have a responsibility to make sure we are loving and showing up in the lives of the least of these. To be honest, it's very easy to NOT do that were I am and get comfortable in not doing MORE of what the Spirit may be leading me to. I, too often I have to remember what God has commanded:


"But if someone who is supposed to be a Christian has money enough to live well, and sees a brother in need, and won't help him--how can God's love be within him? Little children, let us stop just saying we love people; let us really love them, and show it by our actions. Then we will know for sure, by our actions, that we are on God's side, and our consciences will be clear, even when we stand before the Lord." -1 John 3:17-19 


Anyone who oppresses the poor is insulting God who made them. To help the poor is to honor God.- Prov. 14:31


He who shuts his ears to the cries of the poor will be ignored in his own time of need. -Prov.21:13
If you give to the poor, your needs will be supplied! But a curse upon those who close their eyes to poverty.-Prov.28:27

"Then I, the King, shall say to those at my right, 'Come, blessed of my Father, into the Kingdom prepared for you from the founding of the world.   For I was hungry and you fed me; I was thirsty and you gave me water; I was a stranger and you invited me into your homes; naked and you clothed me; sick and in prison, and you visited me.' "Then these righteous ones will reply, 'Sir, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you anything to drink? Or a stranger, and help you? Or naked, and clothe you? When did we ever see you sick or in prison, and visit you?' "And I, the King, will tell them, 'When you did it to these my brothers you were doing it to me!' Then I will turn to those on my left and say, 'Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. For I was hungry and you wouldn't feed me; thirsty, and you wouldn't give me anything to drink; a stranger, and you refused me hospitality; naked, and you wouldn't clothe me; sick, and in prison, and you didn't visit me.' "Then they will reply, 'Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?'  "And I will answer, 'When you refused to help the least of these my brothers, you were refusing help to me.' "And they shall go away into eternal punishment; but the righteous into everlasting life." - Matthew 25:34-46




I once heard a well respected guy say, "We can admire and worship Jesus without doing what he did. We can applaud what he preached and stood for without caring about the same things. We can adore his cross without taking up ours. I had come to see that the great tragedy of the church is not that rich Christians do not care about the poor but that rich Christians do not know the poor.” 


When you KNOW the person you are serving, when you REALLY know their struggle, know and see with your own eyes why things are the way they are for them, your heart cant help but to be broken with compassion. 
Rich, we all fall into that category, yes including me. I too have to always search my heart on these things. Brethen, please, lets examine our hearts together and stand for the things Jesus did. Lets be the hands and feet of our Savior here on earth. Let's go back to really reading our bibles and living out those good works that He ordained for us to walk in before the foundation of  earth was formed. (Eph.2:8)


Who is your neighbor?  Where are the least of these? Find Him (them) and love Him like you have never loved before, for the GLORY of GOD. God grace awaits you.







Tuesday, September 6, 2011

My Life


Many times I visit my own blog to read and be encouraged of all the ways God has worked in our neighborhood. For some reason, as I'm reading I begin to feel a little sad. Not too many encouraging post of how the Lord has used what is happening in ministry to impact other areas of my life. For one, our community garden Seeds of Hope, God has been wacking me upside the head on my own unhealthy eating habits, I can't preach to the hood about eating healthy if I'm not practicing my self what I preach.

"but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified." (1 Corinthians 9:27 NASB)

As a result of watching a weekend marathon of food movies( Food Inc., Fat, Sick, Nearly Dead, Tapped, Dirt,ect) on Netflix, I decided to remove many foods I eat from my diet until I can learn self control and eat them in a way that is not controlling or unhealthy for my body. No, sugar or processed foods is not a sin in and of it self, but it can be for me when I chose to not practice self control.

"All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything." (1 Corinthians 6:12 NASB)

Often, I find myself being pulled in so many different directions, trying to maintain friendships, parenting, marriage, youth ministry, homeschooling, ect. It can be a bit much and your priorities could very well get out of order if you are not careful. I was talking to a friend a couple of days ago about priorities and one of the things we talked about was, at the end of the day we want to make sure we have made eternal investments into our husband and children. This is my FIRST and MOST important priority. Oh, how I long to do this well, how I long for an older woman to help me love my husband and children. My goal this week is to intentionally look for ways to invest into my family more, to give them just as much attention as I give the many other things that are tugging at me. By the power of the Holy Spirit that works mightily in me, I can and will do this.

"...so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored." (Titus 2:4, 5 NASB)

We are down to a week left in the launch of our church plant, Strong Tower at Washington Park. I'm excited, yet I'm nervous because it will be another area that the Lord I know would want me to serve in. Playing a part in your local church is very important. Being involved will keep me from adding anything else to do on my list, as this will be at the top of my priorities. I can't wait to see what God does with this core group of people.

"and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near."(Hebrews 10:24, 25 NASB)

I wanted to use this blog to share about how the Lord is working in my life as a whole, not just CGM ( though thats what end up happening). I think, having a bigger picture of what He is doing will encourage us all. God is amazing! I would not want to rob you of how good, trustworthy and loving He is by what I communicate here. Please pray that every post written is designed to point you to our loving Creator. Pray for me as well, that I strive to be the best helper and mom a family could have. To God be the Glory!






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Monday, September 5, 2011

58: The Film


I saw this video over at my friend Emily blog. Very powerful video, thought I might share it with you here as well.
May God move us to love the poor in a way it demonstrates His Kingdom powerfully here on earth!





58: THE FILM Trailer from LIVE58NOW on Vimeo.

Isaiah 58

1 “Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet. Declare to my people their rebellion and to the house of Jacob their sins. 2 For day after day they seek me out; they seem eager to know my ways, as if they were a nation that does what is right and has not forsaken the commands of its God. They ask me for just decisions and seem eager for God to come near them. 3 ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?’
“Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers. 4 Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife, and in striking each other with wicked fists. You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high. 5 Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for a man to humble himself ? Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying on sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD?
6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter– when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? 8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. 9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, 10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. 11 The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. 12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.
13 “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the LORD’s holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, 14 then you will find your joy in the LORD, and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.” The mouth of the LORD has spoken.


Sunday, September 4, 2011

Picture on A Shirt

When you live in the hood,it's common for you to see pictures of deceased family members or friends plastered on a t- shirt. You might even see the name of the person written on the back of a car, designed and cut into the hair style of a friend with the letters R. I. P. attached to it. All to show respect and honor to the dead. We see that a lot around here, more so lately. Last week four people were shot, the target was meant for one, but because a bullet doesnt have a name on it, 2 were killed, and 2 were hospitalized( 31 yr old mom and her 14 yr old son). 2 young boys(21 & 17 yr old) killed,over a dice game. My stomach and heart both hurt everytime I think about it. I begin to weep the other day over the lives of these 2 young men. I begin to weep about the lives of the boys we know who could have easily been involved in this or in the path of the bullets. I, had just exited the area the shoot out occurred at least by an hour. God was very gracious to me and the little girls I was taking home. I weep at the thought of these boys not having a chance due to the life of sin they may have chosen to live. I was telling my husband the other day how this situation reminds me of the lyrics to a song by Christian rap artist Thisl. In his song, he talks about the reality of death in the hood. He describes three people who chose to live life fast in the hood and how they are remembered here on earth.
In his song he says....

"it's a shame, ain't no telling who that boy could have been with the influence of a few good men, to see him on the ground, man, it makes my heart hurt, but now (insert name here) gone, he's just another picture on a shirt"

Just a picture on a shirt. Lives God created with a purpose, men God created with dignity are now gone. Oh, how my heart just breaks man out of sadness for these guys. It's like I was sad, yet, I felt a glimmer of hope. I then begin to weep out of joy because God is still in the midst of raising up godly young men who CAN make a difference in their hood. Boys who have the privilege of having godly men mentor them and spend time with them week after week, encouraging them that street life is not the way to go. I begin to think about every sleepover we've had as staff, every holy hip hop concert we've been to and invited the kids in our neighborhood to attend, all the time spent at the building with kids, all the long conversations about life and the choices you make, have all been ways God has chosen to call us to impact the younger generation. For me personally, It makes the things mentioned above so much more important. You just never know how you may be impacting others around you.

What will happen to them as they grow older, only God knows. My prayer is that the Holy Spirit would intercede and that the course of life for these boys would be one that is promising.

Please pray for my community. Many of us are in fear. There has been talk of retaliation. Some of our kids who live where the crime was committed are suffering from flashing images of the deceased laying on the ground. They are restless and need your prayers. We need wisdom as a staff on how to minister during this difficult time. We need God to move in our hood, like never before. Thank you for standing in the gap for us.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone






Monday, August 22, 2011

First Day of School & Ways You Can Get Involved w/CGM


We started our fall yr of homeschooling here at Light House Academy and I must say, prayers from family and friends did me well! Thank you all! Homeschooling intimidates me. I am very impatient, easily irritated and I can sometimes not be the life of the party. God gave me grace today and I for that I am very thankful! I hope the rest of the year is like this. Please continue to pray for me. My life can be very overwhelming at times. 




Today was also the first day of our after school program, kaiya and I was so excited about pulling up at the building and being greeted by so many of the new and old kids! When I pulled into the gate, a group of them came running to my car to hug us and my heart just melted with joy. I heart these little suckers, man, I pray they love the Lord boldly!! As I sit at home tonight and think about our after school program and ministry, I cant help but to think about our economy and all that is happening with that and how it has effected us as a ministry. In the beginning where it was easy to invite tons of kids into our home and feed them from a ministry budget that gave us the freedom to do that, due to hard times, that isn't so easy to do anymore. ( but do believe, we continue to practice hospitality by FAITH) We need funding! I cant image what would happen if we needed to cut back on other things. Things that are important, things that have been influential to our kids and their families. We need your help, we need your prayers. I know Satan would love to see us shut down, ( and honestly probably  many people in our city too) but we know and TRUST GOD will provide!


I heard a christian hip hop artist say, " we don't sweat a recession, provision is made for His Bride".
I'm so thankful that I can TRUST in a GOD who owns a cattle on a thousand hills!


Our ministry is growing, more staff is needed, number of kids count is going up in our program.  This ministry will not function without donors. One-time gifts are greatly appreciated, but pledges are what will sustain our ministry. If you would like to contribute to CGM, you may do so in the following ways: 


1. Write a check:  Checks payable to: Common Ground Montgomery, P.O. Box 1866, Montgomery, AL 36102.


 2. If you feel lead to give MONTHLY, QUARTERLY OR ANNUAL PLEDGE - please talk with our administrative staff to set up this option. Call 334.593.5803 or email:commonground@cgmal.org.


3. If you would like to donate from our website you can click the link here to set up your online donation.


Thank you for your willingness to serve the Lord through your giving to our ministry. Thank you for being apart of what the Lord is doing on the westside of Montgomery, Al!





Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Hungry

"I am the Bread of life; he who comes to me will not hunger, and he who believes in me will never thirst"- John 6:35

The verse above has been my meditation for today. To be full in Jesus, to be content in Him being the Bread of life just sparks so many emotions within my heart. I've been learning what it truly means to feast at the LORDS table. To really learn what it means to have my soul fatten in Jesus Christ.
 I've also seen how I have made myself at home with the world by wanting to eat a little of what it may have to offer. Believing it will satisfy..what LIES!!
I have desperately needed to be more spiritual nourished. Many times I feel as if I am pouring so much out that I'm not taking enough in for myself in order to serve the Lord  and His people as I should. I love the promise found in that verse, if I come to Lord daily, HE will feed me and I shall be satisfied. When I believe Him and take Him at those words, he shall always and for eternity quench this thirst I tend to have. This world has nothing to offer me, yet, I find myself trying to feast at it's tables. May the Lord continuously, graciously help me to put an end to the lies. Nothing, will never satisfy me as He does. NOTHING!

"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied"-Matthew 5:6

Love Overboard


I miss blogging. When I have a little time to sit and write it's very therapeutic for me.
I haven't had the time, and even though I'm not writing as often as I would like, I appreciate those of you who are still sticking around. Thanks! Makes me feel as if I'm not talking to the air. (lol)

But seriously, thank you.. When I first began this blog there was so much to share and talk about,  (and still is) but, now I'm sitting back wondering, can I say that? Is that too much information? Naaa, def. cant talk about that.  Yup, this is real life for us. The funny camp stories don't go on, the cute kids who use to love being around you begin to pull away and treat you like an absolute stranger, the families that invited you into their space and you invited them into yours began to become enemies as you learn of the slander, and backbiting that's taking place outside your presence. Where you once felt a genuine relationship now there are feelings of things being one sided and shady . The list goes on...

I've had days where I would ask the Lord when is enough an enough? When can I cut that person off for hurting me? When can I show vengeance for the harm done to my family or friends? God clearly, and quickly had to show me my own sinfulness and how my heart was just the same as the people I'm angry with. I'm so spiritually bankrupt.. I tend to forget that from time to time. I'm thankful tonight for the reminder. After hearing a sermon by a godly older person who is in the lives of some friends of ours, I asked him to share with me again the idea of what it means to love. Or shall I say, Love Overboard is what he called it.  To go above and beyond in your love for your neighbor, no matter what they have or haven't done to or for you.. This was his godly counsel to me:

Nicole,

My position is based on passages
such as (1 Peter1:22)" since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love for the brethren fervently love one another from the heart". This type of love is relentless, determined, not easily dissuaded, and long-suffering. The one qualifier this love has is that it must be partnered with biblical truth. Therefore the dispenser must live the truth in love(Ephesians 4:15) thus there are times when we must refrain from actions that we would want to extend to someone in need because our gifts would not lead to empowerment, but rather they would continue to enable the recipient to live recklessly or irresponsibly. There is no formula to know where to draw the line , but as we stay close to God's Spirit, He leads us case by case. The motivation though is always love as our foundational goal, not our frustration and exasperation with the person we are serving.The overarching texture of this philosophy is an all out, all in approach to love from the depths of our hearts, even after we have been hurt and disappointed over and over again. The principle in operation is: you cannot do authentic ministry without being vulnerable. You cannot be placed in continuos states of friendship relational vulnerability without being hurt. You cannot reach people within their hearts if you do not minister out of the depths of your heart. So the transformation in our attitude was once paraphrased by Gladys Knight " some people say I love too hard, I say I don't love hard enough, Some people say I go too far, but for someone you love, around the world is not far enough Love Overboard"


What counsel!!! All this we deal with is apart of the calling. It's like you know that, yet you dont admit it and you just move on. I've been reading over this email and many others for the past couple of days now. I want to love well, I want to always remember that this calling isn't going to always be peaches and cream .  I also want to remember that I too am sinful and in need of Gods grace just like those in and around my community. Gods presence  tends to be  the strongest in the most difficult circumstances . I'm so thankful for that, God is such a promise keeper,  I can trust HIM...He promises to NEVER leave us nor FORSAKE us. Even while we are living in the hood.

Please forgive me if I seem to have done a lot of rambling...


Friday, August 12, 2011

Making it Do What It Do

I got a side hustle! To help cover some of the expenses I have in homeschooling my daughter, I have decided to start braiding hair. Never thought the day would come where I would use this talent. Ya know, a girl has to do, what a girl has to do. Lol! (jk) I hope I don't burn out, I have a lot going on! Pray that God blesses these hands and provides for all of our homeschooling needs.



































- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, July 30, 2011

SUMMER 2011 RECAP

Hello out there!
How was your summer? Mine was quite an adventure. I think this was by far the busiest summer we have ever had. Our kids participated in so many fun/ developmental activities. From sewing, to architecture, to archery, to video production, to gymnastics to cheer leading. To top it off, they also did a little academics this summer to keep that school brain going.  More kids in our program this summer, 87 to be exact. More little hearts to reach for the gospel, more attitude from girls 5 going on 30. (lol) In all it was a blast! I always look forward to the summer, it brings so many fun, and AWE inspiring memories. The best part, is seeing smiles on the faces of kids who look forward to camping every year....






Many came hungry for God. I'm not talking about a youth revival, where 20 kids come up to receive Christ because its just the thing to do in that moment. I'm talking about kids who are interested in Christ, who HE is, How they can live for Him and how they can share His love with others. Our middle school kids were impacted the most this summer. During our summer camp, God drew 5 small hearts to Himself. One kid tells me, "Mrs Nicole, I cant wait till we meet tonight for devotions, I just like to sit and listen to Gods word being read, I just want to know more about what God is saying, thats my favorite part of camp." I learned so much from these kids this summer. God convicted and humbled me through the things He was doing in their lives. Many of them really took the time and pondered what it would meant to follow Jesus, I'm so glad it ended with salvation!





So, what's next for us?? VACATION! Our staff is breaking from such a busy summer to take time away with family and REST!! I'm so thankful that such a word exist. I'm very HOPEFUL tonight as my mind ponders how God answered my prayers by showing up in the lives of our kids and revealing Himself to them.  Our after school program begins at the end of this month, through the grace of God and the hands of His people, we have many great things in store for our kiddios. Until then, enjoy the last couple of weeks of summer. I'll be back after vacation.
Have a restful Sabbath!

Camp Blue Lake 2011- CGM staff, Summer Resident Missionaries and Kids