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

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Stereotypes, Truth and Retreats

" I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the TRUTH" 
- 3John 1:4

God loves truth! It's apart of who He is, and what He speaks. I have such a strong hatred for deception. It's the opposite of Gods character and how He desires for His children to live. As I'm ministering to women or girls in my community, one of the things I often try to listen for in our daily conversation is "what is this woman believing about herself, God and or others?"

Being an African American woman, I have so many perceptions that are put out about who I am that I daily have to fight through or have the temptation to prove I'm NOT.  The media doesn't help at all as it cycles such lies out into a wider audience. I'm sure the same can be echoed by the women in my community, they too are in this fight. 

"You're  just lazy, abusing the system that uses my hard earned tax money"

"She's one angry black woman, she keeps a frown on her face"

"She's only having all those babies so she can get more food stamps" 

"Black women can't ever get along  with each other"

"You will never be educated, talk proper, or be as holy as she is"

Satan has such a crafty way of tempting us to believe these lies and many more about ourselves. When you hear something for so long , you begin to believe that it's truth and you live your life according to what you have heard. 
Jesus!! What bondage that is!! I know, I've lived it and still wrestle with much of it today! 

I have such a burden for the women and young girls in my community to truely KNOW who they are and their purpose. You are NOT what's  portrayed about you on tv, radio or magazines. You are NOT another black person looking for a handout. You are NOT at the mercy of every white person you meet. You are NOT dumb because you graduated with a GED or don't talk as "proper" as she does. 

Just think of what would happen if we really started addressing people according to who GOD says they are. 

You ARE loved more than you could ever imagine!

You are valuable to someone who cared enough to give His only child for your future.

You are created in the image of the living God and created for a purpose bigger then you or me. 

God is jealous over you

He cares about your pain and wants to walk with you through  it. 

We have this overwhelming responsibility to always preach the truth to people in a way that God will use to capture their hearts and show them who HE created them to be. When ministering to others who have believed lies and have been blinded for so long,our conversations must begin with Genesis 1and 2, reminding people of their value, dignity and worth. Teaching them how that image was shattered, the effects it has on all of us today and how it will one day be restored again. Praise God! 

This weekend is our second annual Women's Retreat. It's a weekend filled with TRUTH, vulnerability, prayer, sweet fellowship and fun. We designed this  weekend getaway to serve as a ministering tool to a few women we've invested in. A time for those who know God to grow closer to Him, or a time for some to start a new relationship with Him.
A time for these women to bond and begin to break the stereotype that black women who live in the hood can't get along with each other. 
A time for these women to be challenged, affirmed and loved on so that they become the leading agents of change their community and families need. A time when we are filling them with truth in hopes of the Holy Spirit bringing it back up at the right time,  empowering them to walk in the ways of The Lord.

We know Satan isn't too fond of this, so we desperately covet your prayers. Please pray that the ladies are encouraged, provoked to faith, connect with one another and that they begin to know and understand the TRUTH of Gods word.
Pray for us as leaders -that we would love them well, stay closely connected to the Father as we minister to them and pray WE learn just as much from these ladies as they are coming to learn from us.

We need the Holy Spirit to show up and bless our time together. We need a revival.

May we all strive to live truthfully amongst one another and kill deadly stereotypes 
by getting to know others and seeing them as God does.

"And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free"- John 8:32

Thursday, March 13, 2014

"Uncomfortable Grace"

“There are moments in our lives when we are crying out for grace, not recognizing that we are getting it. We are not getting the grace of relief or the grace of release, because that is not the grace that we really need.
No, what we are getting is something we desperately need, the uncomfortable grace of personal growth and change. With the love of a Father, your Lord is prying open your hands so that you will let go of things that have come to rule your heart but will NEVER satisfy you.
With the insight of a seasoned teacher, He is driving you to question your own wisdom so that you will find your understanding and rest in His. With the skill of the world’s best counselor, God is showing you the delusions of your control so that you will take comfort in His rule.
With the gentleness of a faithful friend He is facing you toward the inadequacies of your own righteousness so that you find your hope in His.”
–Paul David Tripp, What Did You Expect?(Wheaton: Crossway, 2010), 216.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Wednesday's Word

A friend of mine asked the question on facebook- "what is your favorite worship song dealing with God, justice, mercy and compassion." I answered and decided I would share it here also.

This is my prayer for the week, may The Lord use it to richly challenge you , encourage and empower you as you live to work towards His kingdom.

Matt Papa- Open Hands 

Verse 1:
To give unselfishly, to love the least of these
Jesus I'm learning how to live with open hands
All these treasures that I own will never satisfy my soul
Jesus I lay them at your throne with open hands

So I lift my hands, open wide, let the whole world see
how you loved, how you died, how you set me free!
Free at last, I surrender all I am with open hands,
with open hands

Verse 2:
To finally let go of my plans
These earthly kingdoms built of sand
Jesus at your cross I stand with open hands

As I lift my hands, open wide, let the whole world see
how you loved, how you died, how you set me free!
Free at last, I surrender all I am with open hands,
with open hands

You took the nails, you bore the crown

You hung your head, your love poured out
You took my place, you paid the price
So ,Jesus, now I will give my life!!!!!!!!!

As I lift my hands, open wide, let the whole world see
how you loved, how you died, how you set me free!
Free at last, I surrender all I am with open hands,
with open hands

how you loved, how you died, how you set me free!
Free at last, I surrender all I am with open hands,
with open hands

with open hands,
with open hands,
with open hands

Monday, March 10, 2014

City Alive

But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. For this reason it says, "Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you." (Ephesians 5:13,14 )

The verse above is what God gave me as my husband and I began to dream about what it would look like to host a  block party in our community. A block party that would encourage community unity, family love and an opportunity for the local church to display Christ love and presence in midst of violence and fear. 

I remember growing up and being excited about those hot summer days when the neighborhood leaders would block off the streets and call out police protection and have the biggest community parties. Kids playing in  water from busted fire hydrants, boys playing basketball, double dutch contest , food and loud rap music. Back then I didn't know the effects this could have on our neighborhood. When neighbors have a platform to do life with each other, meet each other  and share in a mutual love for their community something happens. 

Little Corey's protection isn't just his mom or grandma concerns, but it also becomes Ms Jenkins who lives down the street  concerns too. I remember not being able to leave my front porch as a little girl in the Englewood  community without the elderly man next door telling me to " get back on that porch!" because he was concerned about my safety as well. They say it takes a village to raise a child and that is exactly how I saw my hood as I was growing up- having  a genuine concern for all that was living in it.

Last year, myself along with many others, planned, prayed and worked hard to host our first ever Washington Park block party. City Alive was birthed out of prayer and desire to no longer see the "streets" of Washington Park dead or blind  but ALIVE through the power and work of God as the body of Christ and those in the community serve, and love on one another and be a representation of Gods kingdom in our city.  To help us, we started a street team which consisted of the high school kids in our program. Who better to ask on how to reach the streets then the very kids in our community. They helped with planning, passed out flyers, invited and evangelized local housing projects and attended the event prayer walk. They were amazing! 

In addition, we were honored to have Christian Hip Hop artist: Travis Tyler (Thisl) and J'son Watkins (J'son) both of these brothers came with wisdom and experience as they themselves are products of an inner city environment. God used these brothers to bless our hood tremendously. 

Planning for City Alive 2014 has now begun and we couldn't be more excited. 
He alone gives sight to the blind, gives drug addicts an addiction to Him and shows the prostitute her worth and dignity. Our prayer is to see many resurrections happen annually through this event. Please pray for us as we ask God to show up, move in the hearts of those in our neighborhood, add to His church and work together towards the greater good of a better Washington Park. 

We're expecting great things. To God be the glory!! 

City Alive 2013 

Reflections from our neighbors :

"This Event was Really Good We Got People Out  and I believe people  Life changed Through Jesus. I See How People were Touched And We Even had  A Dude Who Fired Up A Blunt Out There And He Was Impacted By This Even This Was Powerful Through Jesus And I Know He's Working On More And More Miracles" - 10th grader 

 "I think City Alive Block Party was so successful it brought many people of different backgrounds together for the Glory of God and the atmosphere was so full of Jesus presence whether they received a message or not they came out and just talked to someone about the Goodness of  God just that alone impacted my life how we were all able to really enjoy a Christian event without any problems at all for once in Washington Park cause usually when an event is held in the Park there are shootings resulting from ongoing problems in our Community- Domestic violence, Drugs or kid fights where Adults are usually involved in them instead of solving the conflict...I hope we can do this every year and I would love to be apart of it anyway I can" -  Mom of 7

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Hands

God has blessed us to be apart of a really unique, amazing, God loving and fearing community of believers. All of our friends really do live what they preach. I would like you to meet my friends Jeff and Jennifer Hand. They live in our community and have plans to adopt from China. It would take forever for me to share how much they have impacted our faith, family and mission in Washintgom Park. I absolutely adore them! 

Here's their blog : www.handadoption.blogspot.com

Please take some time to visit, get to know a little about their family and even pray about how you can generously give towards their adopting efforts. 


Saturday, February 22, 2014

Going Home-Sabbatical Meditations

We're down to a week left of our sabbatical and I have to be honest, I CAN'T WAIT TO GET BACK!  Now, if you had of asked me that question a little over a month ago, I'm sure I would've given you a different answer. God is good. I really believe the Lord helped us to use this time to accomplish exactly what He wanted to accomplish in us. To help us to refresh so that we would be eager to return and be apart of the work that He's doing in our community. To see Him more clearly and the things that we were in bondage to and needed freedom from that affected our ministry. To be healthy as a family, to really remember that our first priority in ministry is our own personal walks with God and loving our closest neighbors, that being our spouses and our own kids. My daughter has literally been counting down the days of returning home. I've received text messages from both neighbors and friends  looking forward to our return. I can't wait to see everyone again!

Some people think we're crazy. We've heard plenty of statements lately that ask, "are you guys really ready to come back"? "You SURE you want to return..why?!"

Oh yea people, we're VERY sure. We expect things to be difficult, we expect all the craziness that comes along with this calling. We can imagine what we're walking back into. We're walking back into a life that allows us to give of ourselves relationally, hospitably,  and financially (without enabling) in life transforming ways. We're choosing to walk back into the work of God, a life that is full of mess, sometimes deception, sometimes painful, frustrating and wearisome. A life that will force us to stay on our knees begging for Gods help, strength, grace and ability to love others better then we love ourselves. A life that forces me to see the mess that lies within myself and cling to the amazing truth that my life has been hidden in Christ and it is no longer I who lives but Christ that lives within me.All of my righteous standing come from Him! A life that forces me to be honest and vulnerable with my neighbors as they watch me be sanctified, fall on my face, learn how to walk in repentance and fight daily to live a life worthy of the gospel.

About 6 years ago, I read this quote by Francis Chan that God used to confirm in my heart the life that He was calling me to not only follow my husband into, but to be apart of as well.

“But God doesn't call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if He doesn't come through.” - Crazy Love, Overwhelmed by a Relentless God.

Thank you Father for this life.

Friday, February 14, 2014

CCDA National Conference 2014

“Seek (inquire for, require, care for, demand) the peace and welfare of the city to which I have caused you to be carried away captive; and pray to the Lord for it, for in the welfare (completeness, wholeness, contentment, well-being) of the city in which you live you will have welfare.” - Jeremiah 29:7

CCDA National Conference plans  are underway.  Not sure what CCDA is? Visit this link here.
Want to stay updated on registration and information about the conference this year? Click this link here.  Want a little taste of what you'll hear while you're there? Listen to this conference session taught by Coach Wayne Gordon, pastor of Lawndale Church in Chicago. Loving Your Neighborhood.

Lord willing, see you there. :)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Wednesdays Word

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Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.-1 Peter 4:12-19

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

CGM-SRM 2014 Recruitment

It's that time of the year again where we're recruiting for our summer camp.
The CGM Summer Resident Mission (SRM)  is a nine-week experience on the West Side of Montgomery, Alabama. Participants live, serve, learn, and grow with other college age or older folks, and neighborhood friends in a neighborhood that is under-resourced and stressed in many ways.
Participants help run an 8-week summer camp during the day that consists of about 100 neighborhood children between the ages of 6-14. 

If you or someone you know would be interested in spending a summer with us, please share with them this blog post. All those interested may click  here for more info.  Please join us in praying that the Lord would send laborers to the harvest that we know as Washington Park. We desperately need godly MALES. Please see the video below to hear testimonials from past interns and learn a little more about SRM.

Perfect Endings - Sabbatical Meditations

I love a good chick flick!  The kind of movies that are predictable from the beginning to the end. Movies that you know will end with the good guys coming out on top. Movies that we like to call, "perfect". We love those movies because they tend to help us to forget (at least for a little while)  the reality of whats really going on around us and even in our very own hearts. Movies that we like to use as an escape from the devastating affects of a world fallen.

I've been wondering lately, how much in my heart have I expected this journey into inner city ministry to be just like what I've witnessed in my favorite films. It's so easy to fall for a romanticized view of inner city ministry. A view that believes that everything will be "perfect" and work out just as YOU have planned.

Things are far from perfect here. My days are long. Conflict is served on a regular, backbiting, entitlement, slander, you will be used, you will be disrespected, you will be cursed out, relationships with your neighbors will change and some may even end. As I mentioned above, I love chick flicks because they are so predictable. What made ministry difficult for me at times was that I couldn't predictcontrol (real heart of the matter) what was happening around me. For a moment, I began to hold onto things that I believed would be true about living in the hood, things that I may not have realized I was saying to myself subconsciously, such as:

  • you going to get along with everyone ALL the time
  • the kids you minister to will hear the message of the gospel and their lives will change...not immediately... but real soon
  • your neighbors will always have nothing but good to say about you, they won't do you any harm
  • you wont be used or taken for granted
  • people are going to taste and see that the Lord is good and be hooked, they won't turn back to their destructive lifestyles
  • the kids you minister too will always think your cool and fun to be around

Some of these things may sound real ridiculous to you, but based off of how I was responding to certain situations, it was evident these lies had become my truth. No where at anytime, at any point in this calling did the LORD promise me any of these things. The Lord never said, to any of us, that when we preached the gospel to those who are sick that they would 1. Hear the message or 2. Repent. We preach out of HOPE, we preach because of the goodness and mercy that we have experienced, we preach because the message is just too good to keep to ourselves, we preach leaving the results to the LORD and trusting him to bring growth to the seeds we've planted. 

A couple of weeks ago my husband and I were discussing the gospel and  its responses as we reflected on our years in ministry, the passage he brought to my remembrance was Isaiah 6:

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” He said, “Go and tell this people “‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding,be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.”

Now, I don't know about you, but I'm not to sure if I would have been quick to say, "send me, I'll GO". That puts a whole new spin on Lecrae famous song and that passage for that matter. Isaiah was warned by God that almost no one would hear his message, dude didn't care. He still went and with much boldness. I'm having to come to the realization that much of my preaching the gospel was for selfish reasons-my own glory. Why else would I get frustrated or weary when I wasn't seeing the results I wanted to see?

So much of our unhappiness in our circumstances come from us believing that God has promised us something when He hasn't. This life we live , this message we preach has every bit to do with HIM and HIS kingdom. He loves us, no doubt, but Ive realized that the very things that would make me happy have nothing to do with Jesus, but have every bit to do with my own comfort, affirmation, and what I believe would bring me fulfillment. Believing those lies has had me on some serious sinking sand and desperately wanting more.

After this sabbatical, I sense the Lord sending me back into my hood with new and revived expectations. Expectations that are found from the promises that  God has clearly laid out in his word.

Promise 1: God brings the increase ultimately to the seeds we plant.. results are HIS! 

What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. 6 I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. 7 So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 8 The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor.9 For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building. -1 Corinthians 3

Promise 2: As I tread onto enemy territory, God will be with me every step of the way. I don't have to worry about my neighbors or myself.

 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” - Joshua 1:9

Promise 3: I don't have to be in control, as a matter of fact, I'm NOT in control. God is in control and His plans will always prevail. He knows exactly what He's doing in Washington Park. No matter how things may look or seem, I must remember that He got this.

8 "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. 9 "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. 10 As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, 11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty,but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. - Isaiah 55

For me, this isn't a Hollywood story, and yet I DO KNOW the REAL ending of this one and it's where the King of Glory has the victory. And one of the dopest things to me, is that God would use this crooked stick to be apart of it. Grace is so amazing.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Just Grace

"If a person has grasped the meaning of God’s grace in his heart, he will do justice. If he doesn’t live justly, then he may say with his lips that he is grateful for God’s grace, but in his heart he is far from him. If he doesn’t care about the poor, it reveals that at best he doesn’t understand the grace he has experienced, and at worst he has not really encountered the saving mercy of God. Grace should make you just." -Pastor Tim Keller 'Generous Justice'

Monday, January 20, 2014

Breathing-Sabbatical Meditations

God, my shepherd! I don’t need a thing. You have bedded me down in lush meadows, you find me quiet pools to drink from. True to your word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction.-Psalm 23:1-3 (Mesaage) 

I'm not a huge fan of The Message bible and this may be the ONLY blog post you may find me quoting from out of it. Ha!

The verse above is exactly how I would describe this time during our sabbatical. I love the latter, "you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction". Yes!!! 

For the past 2-3 years, I've almost felt as if I couldn't breath. Lack of intimacy with The Lord, homeschooling woe's, marriage difficulty, broken friendships, urban youth frustrations, all of these and so much more had me in a place of grasping and searching for some form of direction. 

The truth is, I'm sinful. Yes, yes I am. (Don't be shocked- I kid!) Through all these dark valleys, God has for sure taught me more about the idols I worship and shown me my own brokenness and need of Him. It's true and a given fact that our circumstances simply reveal what's in our heart. (Sorry to all those who want to play the victim; not going to work) 

This time away has been refreshing thus far. My family desperately needed this time to  reconnect with each other and with Jesus. It's been good to "drop off the face of the earth" and sit deal with all that's in front of you with out "distractions". 

Now, the true test is to be prepared and ready to operate amongst all the mess I'll be back in when March comes. To be honest, I'm ready and excited about the changes our family has made in order to go another 7 years in the hood. The fuel to this isn't something that's temporary,it's not even a feeling. (Which can come and go due to circumstances) 

I'm filling my tank up on the HOPE and stability that's found in simply abiding in Jesus. The ROCK who's the same yesterday, today and forevermore. This incredible, amazing Father that secures my salvation, that gives me identity, dignity, and fulfillment. The best thing about this is, I'm not going in as a one woman army, I have the most amazing leader/husband a girl could have. My husband is truly da bomb and the best ministry partner there is. My prayer is to not return fearful of the future, or with lingering feelings of defeat; but that I would remember the promises outlined for me in Gods Holy word.

I absolutely love the promise given in the end of Psalm 23...

Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life. I’m back home in the house of God for the rest of my life.
-Psalm 23:6 (Mesaage) 

Yes, I'm breathing again. :)