Summer So Far (part 1)

The boys love getting coffee with Daddy

Brother Sister Song Writing Duo



The Detroit Zoo in early summer


Making calzones

My girls helped our friend, Jennifer, throw a Barbie Party for the neighborhood girls.

Several Freezer Pops a week are just the norm

Lots of reading:Library books; Books from the book air at Church; our own books that we “rediscovered” while hunting through some homeschool books.

Playing in the fountains in Midtown Detroit

Playing with the neighborhood kitty that only comes around at night

Somehow, eating lunch from a basket is just more fun! (thanks, Target dollar section!)


For more frugal or free ideas for summer check out this post.


ReMix, A Clothing Exchange

Every year our church hosts a clothing exchange. It started out as an idea in Erika’s head, to bless the community with much-needed clothing, but it’s turned into a much-anticipated event for everyone involved. Sometimes it’s in the Spring and sometime near the Fall.  There’s so many ways to have a clothing swap, but since a friend recently asked me how we do it, I thought I’d share our plan with you!
– Canvas the area & businesses with flyers to invite the ladies (also small local newspapers)
– Use FB, twitter, church website, personal texts to invite ladies from church & area friends
– We ask ladies ministries from suburban churches if they’d like to clean out their closets
              & donate to us (we’re an inner city ministry)
– It’s a ladies/teen girls only event, but we collect clothes for men, and children, too
– Clothing must be clean & in nice condition
– Basic accessories are allowed, too: belts, bags, shoes, scarves, etc
– Connect with a woman’s shelter & make arrangements with them for the day after the
– Begin collecting clothing a few weeks in advance
– Clothes may be brought in at the time of the event, too
– Clothes are sorted & placed on tables & with large/easy-to-read signs
– The ladies who help sort the clothes are allowed to snatch up a few good finds for their
              families before it’s all open to the “public”
– As ladies arrive we give them a number (usually a marker on their hand… kinda ghetto)
– Ladies gather in our coffee house room at first, so cookies, coffee & punch are served
              (this gives us opportunity to meet the ladies from the community)
– After about 15 minutes, we divide the ladies into groups based on their number. Usually
               8-10 at a time has worked for us, but it depends on how many ladies are present
               and how big the “clothing” room is
– Group 1 is allowed to enter the clothing room for X amount of time and select X amount of
                things in a 15 minutes time window (we socialize with the other woman waiting)
– After each group has had a chance to select “X” amount of items, then we open it up for
                all the groups to go back in… free for all!
– One year we got tons of clothes donated from a retails chain & had so many items that we
                didn’t need to divide ladies into groups, it was just come-and-go  for 2 hrs.
– Lots of grocery & shopping bags are needed
– Fragrant candles placed around the room & fabric softener sheets tucked into piles of
                clothing can keep it from smelling like a Salvation Army
– Ladies from our church will be “personal shoppers” for the ladies in the community as
                another opportunity to connect with them. We’ll say, “Oh, you’re needing little
               boys clothes. What size?  I can help you look.”
– When the event is over, the rest of us usually dig through it to grab out anything else we
               want (my girls usually grab things they can rip apart and make into something else…
               Thanks to our friend, Jennifer, who taught them to sew!)
– All the remaining clothes are boxed & bagged up & donated to a woman’s shelter the
                next morning
This event/outreach also blesses everyone involved! AND… it’s happening again THIS FRIDAY!  Wanna join us?
Click here for details or leave me a message!
If you do something similar, please tell us about it!
Happy exchanging!

Courage Church!!!

Last week we made a HUGE announcement to everyone at REAL CHURCH in Detroit & Hamtracmk.  My husband, Chilly, put it best, so I’m going to “guest post” his blog post about our announcement:

And… today, check out his blog today where he’ll be posting a video of this news with more pictures!


by Chilly Chilton, originally posted at on July 23, 2012

Sunday was an EPIC day for my life,
my family, my church & my community!

Besides combining our campuses together to worship, baptize and share a meal – which in and of itself was SO fun and amazing – we also shared TWO big changes that brought everyone to their feet!

1]  We now have a 3rd Campus!!

That’s right, we have a big, old, beautiful church building right in the heart of SW Detroit (better known as ‘Mexicantown’)! This facility will enable us to make a HUGE impact in another very needy area in Detroit’s inner city! We plan to open it’s doors on October 7th, 2012 (our church’s 8 year anniversary). But, before that can happen, we need lots of miracles & help from others (YOU)! We need workers, resources and ministry teams to come help us!

Here’s a list of things that we need:  Mexicantown Campus Support

2]  We now have a NEW Name!!

We have changed our church name from Real Church to Courage Church! This change was bitter sweet… Real Church has a good name in our community and is all we’ve ever known since we opened.

Real Church was the beginning of a dream, Courage Church is the pursuit of a destiny.

I’ve been asked by several people about this decision, here is what I’ve shared: there are many factors that went into the name change — sensing that it was God’s leading is, obviously, the only factor that really matters.

Many people were confused w/ Real Church (like we were saying ‘we were THE only real church!’) plus we never had social media continuity. With Courage Church – we have a name that defines us at the next level, and brand consistency:

– Website: CourageChurch
– Twitter: @CourageChurch
– Instagram: @CourageChurch
– Facebook: CourageChurch

So, thank you to EVERYONE who cheered & dreamed with us today! There’s lots of work ahead, but it’s good work! I would welcome the support and help from ALL of you who follow me here on iChilly! Invest in us, tell your friends & church about our mission, or even move here and join us on the front lines in the most dangerous city in America! Detroit is changing, God is moving and we are ready to serve Him at any cost!

… oh, and by the way, we’re still REAL! 😉

Thanks, My Love, for saying it so well!

Drive in Detroit

I took my girls to our friend’s house in another part of Detroit for their weekly sewing lesson. (They’re really amazing, by the way!) On the way home I took some pictures out the window to send to my friend who lives on the east coast. I thought you might like to see the drive. I love posting pictures of beautiful places in our city… but I can’t let you forget that our city is in great need. The greatest of those needs isJESUS!

I can’t help but give you the opportunity every now & then to be involved in what Jesus is doing in this wonderful place. Click here to see what you can do and/or give to the ministries in which we are involved.

Ukraine Express


This IS America

What everyone thinks ALL of Detroit looks like


Henry Ford Hospital

Oasis in the city…one of many in this city



You can get a LOT of house for the price in Detroit….
Are you sure you’re not supposed to be here?

Have you asked God?



“I’m going through somethin’ right now!”

She hadn’t been there for weeks.
Text after text. Call after call. Even a couple of visits.
No response.

Then, for no apparent reason she texted me back… finally!  YAY!!!!
She thanked me for noticing that she’d not been in church service for a while. She appreciated my love and concern.
She assured me that she was OK & that she’d  be there on Sunday.

Sunday came. Tons of hugs. Great conversations. Encouragement. Jesus did beautiful things in so many peoples’ lives. Such a lovely time together…
But she wasn’t there. She missed it all… again. Sigh.

So I called her. No answer. No call back. No response to my text. I don’t wanna bug her…
But what if she’s not OK?

Then she texted again… “Thanks for thinking of me. I’m just really going through somethin’ right now.”

What?  That’s her reason for not being with other people who love her & love Jesus?
That’s why she’s staying away and feeling alone?  oh, NO!

The part that makes this true story even sadder is that i’ve heard the “I’m-really-going-through-somethin” line many, many times! From many different ladies.  It makes no sense.

But, I DO understand this .. when we’re hurting we don’t want it to be obvious & we don’t want to wear it on our faces.
We certainly don’t want to have to talk about it. Or worse yet, we don’t want to get around the warmth of God’s love & let our guard down & then melt into a mess of tears… in front of everyone!  Horror.

Seriously. As backwards as it sounds, when difficulties threatens us, we should get with other Christians even MORE often!  It says it all through the Bible… and it’s true!
Chilly pointed it out in Psalm 53.
In Hebrews 10:25 is says to meet together all the more.

And…Many more places!

When life dishes out yuckiness, we cannot run away from the people who will remind us of the truth, and encourage us, help us and literally fill us with courage. And we shouldn’t feel silly when we show up when things are less than dandy… our own honesty may very well be the strength someone else needs at that moment.

As temping as it may seem to hunker down when we’re hurting;  to shut people out when we’re struggling…
go to church. Be involved.
Talk. Be honest.
Lower your guard & praise Jesus.
Let Him speak gently to your heart.
Help. Serve. Hug.
You might even laugh!
Then you may just find that your somethin’ has turned into something better



Wordless Wednesday, Detroit Book Store

My daughter, Mariah, took this on Monday when all three of my daughters & I visited the giant John K King Used book store in Detroit.  It’s four HUGE floors of every thing imaginable!  We had a great time and each of us walked about with something AND a gift for a friend’s upcoming birthday.


Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday

She said she couldn’t live anymore

Her name is P.G. (Ok, it’s not, but I’d never print her real name.)


She’s come to Real Church since it first opened in 2004. She lives nearby and has attended fairly regularly for nearly all of that time.  She’s a small lady, only in her 50’s, unkept hair, no teeth in the front (and breath that leads one to believe that more of her teeth may be on their way out soon). Her weathered face speaks of hardships beyond her years, and her reading & speaking  abilities reveal a feeble mind and fragile emotions. She’s precious. She’s in great need.

On Sunday, P.G. told me that she just couldn’t go on living the way she is. She wanted to die. (You’re startled. You’re reading faster now, aren’t you?  Good!) For the next 45 minutes or so, she told me some gory details of her life with her boyfriend, their filthy house, their ever-disappearing income, his drinking problem that shallows up their money, and the anger and despair that comes with it all. I just listened for a long, long time, occasionally asking a few questions. Praying silently in my head. It’s all true. We’ve seen the house. We know her boyfriend. It’s not just a story; it’s truth.

Only Jesus can help P.G…. you see, clothing and food give a minute of relief, but their troubles are deep… they’ve gone years with bad choices and doing what is easy, even if it’s wrong. You see… this is the same story that P.G. has been telling me for nearly 7 1/2 years now.


We offer options (ie: “We’ll find another place for you to live, you’re not married to him and you don’t have to stay in this horrible place.”)
But P.G. says, “No!”


We offer to help her go grocery shopping so she can learn to cook more & stop eating fast food (which destroys budgets and bodies).
But P.G. says, “NO!”


We gently make suggestions about “getting rid of the unnecessary things like cable TV and the FIVE cats” so that there’s more money for food and bills. But P.G. just ignores the words and changes the subject.

She’s stuck. She’s miserable. But somehow the thought of changing is far worse than the current hell in which she lives.

Oh, my heart is SO heavy. Her plight is very real. Her heartache, obvious. But she is unwilling to let go; unable to step forward.  Jesus!  Help P.G. to want YOU!  She comes to the building where we have church service; she cries. She prays. But please, help her to trust YOU. Help her to find courage in YOU to trust… and to stop doing what she’s always done. Her precious mind can only handle so much.. but YOU know exactly how to reach her. Please do. Please speak her language. My words continue to go unheard, but Your words are healing & joy. Please do what only YOU can do, Jesus. 

Yes, it IS only Jesus that can bring complete & lasting change to P.G. & others like her, but we at Real Church are doing things to help them with what we can. She and many, many others in Detroit receive food, clothing, encouragement and love. You certainly can join us. Donations make a huge difference. If you’re in the Detroit area you can physically help serve this community!  and EVERYONE of you can pray. Talk to Jesus about the P.G.’s in our city – and your city. Pray for them. Pray for us as we do our best to show them the love of Jesus in a practical way. Only JESUS can make the lasting changes.)


The Year 2011

I sat down this morning with my journals from 2011 and the zillions of pictures I’d taken this year & began to cry. Another year. Another 365 days filled with God being exactly who He claims to be. Another year of seeing people give their lives totally over to Jesus; seeing my family grow in every area; watching friends move away because God’s  called them elseswhere, and getting to better know those people He’s put right around me. Another endless list of reasons to praise Jesus!  Oh, I love Him so much! I can’t put it into words… I can only strive to live it out every day in every way!

Because it’s so impossible to express this year in words, I’ll do it in pictures. Enjoy. And take time to Praise Jesus, specifically, for His faithfulness! (These pictures begin in January & go into the Spring)



(More to come…)



I Have Famous Family Members


My family members are famous this week!  🙂

Chilly’s movenber mustache was featured in the Detroit Free Press (A major newspaper in the city… that’s actually not free) He’s the 6th picture featured and the caption mentions our church!

And Courtney’s Chunky Knit Button Cowl Scarf was featured in a Made In Michigan site complied by etsy (and it’s modeled by Mariah)


Talk to Myself Tuesday




My family says that I talk to myself all the time, but I prefer to call it “Thinking Outloud!” But, regardless of what title you give it, here’s what’s been going on in my head lately…




Caramel apples are so yummy; I especially like the kind that you can drizzle over a sliced apple & eat with a fork… although my boys still manage to get incredibly sticky. Of course, the nuts, marshmallows and sprinkles certainly add to the probability of getting totally sticky.


How is it possible that I can love FALL so much but be completely annoyed with Halloween?


Our church is in the final week of our LunchMoney Campaign. Our entire church has been giving up lunch (or the money that it cost us to eat it) and giving it towards  HopeWorks.  Wanna join us?  It’s about giving to our city, but not just meeting physical & social needs, but working to share the Love of JESUS!


Good News is that YOU have an opportunity to give to the ministry in Detroit, too. Click here.


Never resist a generous impulse. (cuz that impulse is NOT human nature… it’s God dropping that thought in your head!)


The old “make me go insane cuz they never work correctly-sewing machines” have been retired because Santa came early (aka: My generous friend)

Here’s the new “heavy duty” machine!  YIPPEE! Thanks, Ms. Santa!


I wonder how many people in my life really know what they believe and WHY they believe it.


My boys had frozen pizza for probably the 2nd time in their lives.(The girls have had it a few more times) They were delighted… and I was completely surprised at how yummy it was.


Another friend who works at a school rescued this microscope from the trash pile. (Why are schools so wasteful & then always complaining about what they “don’t have!”)  We didn’t think it actually worked… until we read the directions.  Ha! Max LOVES it & has taken a closer look at basically everything he can possibly fit under it. So awesome. (Thanks, Friend-who-digs-through-garbage-piles-at-his-job-but-won’t-see-this-cuz-he-doesn’t-read-this-blog. 🙂


The Saturday morning RC United group that I’m attending JUST ROCKS: Talking about our lives, what Jesus is teaching us, asking questions & praying together. Being Friends. 🙂


The exciting new things that are coming around the bend make my heart jump for joy & eyes pool with tears!



My kids informed me that they’re losing weight and they’ve concluded  it’s because I don’t buy junk food anymore!  🙂

(“You only buy apples, Mom!”  They must’ve forgotten the giant tubs of caramel that go with those apple 50% of the time!)