Accomplished Plans & Smiling Hearts

“I hep ya, Mama?”-
A direct quote from all 5 of my kids…
over the last 20 years.

I have pictures of them standing on chairs or little stepstools
in the kitchen, wearing an apron, stirring, mixing or just watching
with great interest. Now, back then I didn’t really need their help,
but I loved being with them, and they loved being a part of the action.

One time our oldest, Mariah, (about 5 yrs old at the time) was setting
the table. Her little sister Courtney was about 18 months old
and wanted to help, too. So Courtney proceeded to take a can of pop
from a box of 12, and one by one with your little toddler hands,
took EVERY single can to the dinner table… where all FOUR of us
would be eating! Her “help” may have added a little extra work on my
part, but she was so stinking’ cute and felt so happy to be doing her part
that it made my heart smile! 🙂

On Friday when I opened my Bible, God said I should just make everything
I read my prayer. I’ve been reading in Isaiah, so I picked up at Chapter 25.
Verse one says…

“O LORD, I will honor and praise your name,
for you are my God.
You do such wonderful things!
You planned them long ago,
and now you have accomplished them.”

I started praising His name and thanking Him for all He’s done
and accomplished in Detroit and Courage Church.
Then He quietly said,
“My plans for you being in Detroit have been accomplished.”
Before I could even finish a nice sigh of relief
I stopped short & said,
“Lord I’ve made so many mistakes, how could it all be accomplished?”

He smiled at me ( yes, He does that) and said,
“Yes of course you made mistakes.
You’re a human child, but my plans have still been accomplished.”

Then I read on until this verse …
Isaiah 26:12
“LORD, you will grant us peace;
all we have accomplished is really from you.”

(I added the underlining!)

oh, Duh, Netta! Of course!
Everything is accomplished because HE did it!
Such a merciful God who lets us “help” Him carry out His plans!

Thank you, Daddy God, for allowing me to “help” you!
Perhaps I made your heart smile, too! 🙂

Simultaneously Sad AND Happy

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I’m not Whacked out.
Sad AND Happy live side-by-side in me.
It’s sound like a bit of a “condition,
but quite honestly,
this combo of emotions screams,
“Healthy!”

Here’s why…

God has directed my husband to transition from the role
as founding/lead pastor of Courage Church to
joining the team of Mount Hope Church in Lansing , Michigan
full-time. ( More details are here)
To say that my emotions are zipping around from one
extreme to the other is stating it rather lightly.

Feeling sad & nostalgic …
– Over 10 years ago God directed us to start
this wonderful Church in Detroit.
– Was here when she, Courage Church, was born
– Have been involved in its growth & maturity
– Love & adore the people of Courage Church
– Now… it’s time to let her continue without us
– So much history with our Courage Family
– Saying goodbye to the hardcore, super cool, come-back city
– two of our children were born here
– our gorgeous old historic home must now be sold
– we raised our oldest girls in this city
– those two girls will not be making to move with us
– personally growing in a zillion ways & making huge memories
– there is nothing quite like this amazing church & city

And just like that… My eyes are spilling all over the place!

But at the same time a happy, bubbling dances inside my heart.
God has asked us to be a part of something new…

– Falling in love with another church family
– Experiencing new areas & ways of ministry
– Knowing God will develop unused parts of my life
– Making new friends to share our lives with
– Becoming part of a new city
– Hunting for a home
– Establishing new patterns
– Making new memories

And… just like that… I’m all gitty and jumpy inside!

I’m not pschyo … it’s supposed to be this way!
If I was ONLY sad, then I’d be hanging on too tightly,
and now allowing God to do His work in my heart.

If I was ONLY happy then I’d be running from something
and not allowing God to do His work in my heart.

See…. These roller coaster emotions prove HEALTH.
They only FEEL whacky…
Maybe that’s because I’m living in a condition of the heart
that is only about a sentence and a half away from tears
at any moment.
But I’m OK with it all.
I know the One who is directing our steps and
He’s the same One who created my heart!
As long as this heart of mine is following diligently
after Him, then sad AND happy will be just fine with me.

4 Days in Detroit, 2014

It’s a fantastic blend of summer youth camp and a missions trip.
We call it “4Days.”
Last week, teenagers & leaders from various places in Michigan,
Kansas and Iowa joined us in Detroit.
-The mornings provided excellent teaching for the students;
adult leaders were part of a mentorship session at the same time.

– Lunch was served by lovely volunteers from here in Detroit
and all the way from north Chicagoland!

– Teams went into several parks near our church building and
played games, told stories & testimonies, painted faces, laughed,
danced hugged, hosted a three day 3 vs. 3 soccer tournament, & we all made
friends with the lovely people in Southwest Detroit.

– After enjoying dinner at one of the glorious Detroit restaurants
(and I am NOT being sarcastic! We have great ones), everyone
met back at the building to have a meaningful evening service of
ministry, growth & change through the Holy Spirit.
Chilly spoke the 1st & 4th evenings, Dave Barringer & Kevin Berry
on nights two and three. Powerful, specific, life-changing!

The final evening ended with a service in the park and a number
of our neighbors accepted Jesus as their Savior & Lord! (One of those
new friends attended Courage Church Sunday morning and brought all
of her family!!!! Praise Jesus!)

Much of last week I happily captured on our Courage Church instagram,
so I didn’t have much opportunity to post things in my own instagram.
So now I will share some pictures with you…
I mean… I will bombard you with photos from last week!
(Hershal made an appearance in the park, too… but I didn’t get
a picture of that. Maybe I’ll track one down cuz I know my Mom
(and a few of you) would like to see his crazy face!

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Claudia & Stephanie (the wonderful lunch ladies) finishing out our week by eating Taco Truck food in the McDonald's play land with our kids!

Claudia & Stephanie (the wonderful lunch ladies) finishing out our week by eating Taco Truck food in the McDonald’s play land with our kids!

What a wonderful week! People met Jesus, we all enjoyed each other’s company and
lives (including everyone who attended) were changed!
Thank you to everyone who came, prayed, provided financing, etc!

A Proper Home

I excel at DIY projects… in my heart, at least.
But in reality I make a big mess, and when it’s all finished
words like “crooked” or “splotchy” come to mind.
Wouldn’t it be fabulous to know how to build & create beautiful
things that function well?

Leadership is like building, but fortunately for me,
it never requires things that are purchased from Home Depot or Lowes.
In 2 Corinthians 13:10b, Paul says,
“I want to use the authority the Lord has given me to build you up, not to tear you down.”

In this verse the phrase “build up” means constructive criticism and instruction
that builds a person up to be the suitable dwelling place of God
,
to make a suitable place where the Lord is “at home.”
What a thrill! Our job as a spiritual leader is to help others grow and
serve Jesus in a way that makes their lives a comfortable home for JESUS!

I may not be gifted at interior decorating, and I’m certainly not
good at DIY projects, but I CAN encourage and instruct others as
I whole-heartedly follow Jesus. If I am dedicated, faithful and
open myself up to those who are following me then I become a decorator!
Imagine it! Me… and YOU…
creating a comfortable & proper home for GOD Himself!!!

Eat your heart out HGTV!

The “H” Word – 10 years later

I couldn’t get myself to speak the word.
It was what I knew God wanted, but how
in the world could I tell Chilly?

That was ten years ago this month.
We were moving our young
girls to the city of Detroit. (previous post
here) But didn’t God know that the Detroit
City schools were… well… not the best.
Actually they didn’t even fall into anything
close to “Ok.” What is God thinking?

Chilly & I trusted God and of course
He had a plan. NOT the plan I wanted to
hear about, though. NOT at all!!!
For several days I knew that GOD had spoken
to me and instructed us to do the “H” word.
REALLY? “Oh, Lord. We hardly know any
good examples of kids who have been
schooled that way!? Really?”

I couldn’t do it. My mouth wouldn’t
speak the word. But then one night
when the girls were snug in their beds,
Chilly & I sat in the living room; he
turned to me and said it! HE spoke
the “H” word!
“Honey, God wants us to homeschool.”

“I know! Oh… ugh. I know! What in
the world!? What do I do? Where will
I begin? It’s so huge!”

God directs our lives. He calls the shots.
So we said, “Yes!”
Then something insanely crazy happened…
I wanted to to homeschool.
How is this possible?

You know that whole verse about God giving
you the desires of your heart? Well, I
didn’t think this WAS my desire (by any
stretch of the imagination!) But God
knew better. And when we said, “YES”
He changed our hearts! It became thrilling
to think of… scary, but exhilarating!
(That’s how obedience goes… just saying!)

A month later I was spending a few days
with my cousin in Ohio. She had homeschooled
her girls all the way through. They had
college scholarships and are gorgeous,
well-adjusted ladies now. My cousin
poured into me every bit of info
that popped into her head, and I frantically
took crazy-detailed notes. Thank you, Becky!

Later I attended an evening info session
at a local event… scribbling more notes
and then scouring the internet for all
shreds of info available. (There’s wasn’t
as much 10 years ago as there is today!)

With fear, trembling and joy we started
what would become a 10 year journey into the
“H” word… We became a homeschool family.

To be continued…

(If there’s a topic you’d like to
know more about, please let me know.)

That first drive – 10 years Later

Ten years ago (June 2004) Chilly & I, our three young daughters
and 8 young adults moved to Detroit. Over the next few months
I will be posting parts of that history – my history- possibly
your history, too. Each post will include “10 years later” in
the title. (If you’d like to make sure you don’t miss any of
these posts you can have them sent directly to your email.
See the bar at the side.)

That First Drive

hamtramck MI

When Chilly first drove me into the strange and ever-so unique
city-within-the-city-of- Detroit known as
The City of Hamtramck, I was praying.
Desperately.
Franticly.
In a horrible panic.
“Oh, Jesus! Please hurry & help me love this place!”

Unknown

Oddly-shaped,unusually decorated buildings.
Muslim call-to-pray blasting over city-wide loud speakers.
Men in dresses.
Homeless & needy people in every direction.
More cultures and religions in one tiny place
than I could’ve imagined. (and I’d done my homework!)
“Help me, Jesus! How on earth can I possibly live here?”
“Is this even America?”

hamtramck MI

I dug deep and found positive things to say
to Chilly, anything besides what I was really thinking.
He knew. But how could we voice it. If God was sending us
here, to this pocket of Detroit to begin a new ministry,
then how could we do anything but look for the good…
to hunt diligently for it.

Chains & a gate on the building when we first saw it

Chains & a gate on the building when we first saw it

Walking into the building that had been “given” to us
did nothing to erase the panicked flipping of my stomach.
The once-Polish nightclub, turned church, turned abandoned
building would become a second home to us…
but at that moment we were greeted by mold, dirt
and fragments of what had once been something.
It was now “nothing.”
It would become a thing that would change lives.
But first Jesus had to begin that change in ME!

(To be continued…)

Duck! Bald Faces. More Beards?

Last week our church had a little costume fun with
a Duck Dynasty Theme.
Here’s a few pictures from that day.
(and in case you’re concerned… NO, it didn’t distract us from
worshiping Jesus with all our heart and listen to the Word
and then talking about it with small groups of friends at the end.)

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Now… THIS Sunday our building will be filled
NAKED-FACED men because many of them have
taken the “Grovember” Challenge. It’s
about “Manning-Up!” It’s starts with a clean face.
Then no shaving for the whole month!
Besides NOT shaving, men are committing to
“up-ing” their walk with Jesus! Click here for
all the fun details.

So, by the end of the month the
men in our church may just look a whole like the
men on Duck Dynasty! However, considering it’ll
bring out the best in these guys… we woman are
OK with it all! (But Chilly, can you please
promise to shave most of it off on December 1st?)

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Not sure how to say this…

For over a week I’ve written this post in my head, crumpled it up
and tossed it aside. I’m going crazy to say it… but how?
Nothing creative enough has risen to the surface of my brain.
Nothing deep enough as been able to form itself into words.
How do I say this?
I’ll just jump in and say, “OH MY WORD! THANK YOU!”

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A week & a half ago my husband spent the weekend as a
guest of Celebration Christian Center in Midland, Mi…
and our family was invited to joined him. From the time
we set down a suitcase they poured giant heaps of kindness all over us!

– welcome notes
– huge bag of snacks
– lovely hotel room
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– swimming pool (shaped like the state of Michigan!)
– yummy meals in restaurants
– spending money to “have fun with the family”
– trip to the frozen yogurt bar
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– amazing pizza (that Mom didn’t make, nor did it come in a box from a little
Roman guy for $5, already prepared & still warm)
– specific gifts for each of our children
(including our oldest daughter who stayed back in Detroit
to “hold down the fort” and also preach on Sunday morning!)
– a membership to one of the country’s most fantastic museums
– a serious chunk of money to purchase the sound system
that we’ve been borrowing & had to give back unless we
could buy it
– Even more money beyond what the sound system cost

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But that’s not really the whole story…
– So many people from this church actually pray for us, our family
and Courage Church!
– They asked specific questions about how they could continue
to pray
– They’d been on our website and cared about what they saw
– They believe in what we’re doing and pray for Detroit
– They prayed for us by name… and for all those who
minister/volunteer with us
– People walked up to us and blessed us with all sorts of
gifts and services… personally sacrificing!
(They include provision for a cavity-free mouth,
a vehicle, a winter coat and more!)

My heart just bubbles with joy as I recount their warm,
expressions of love, support and encouragement.
They believe in what we’re doing here in
the city!

Thank you, Jesus, for sending these wonderful people
into our lives! Thank you, CCC, for loving us in so
many ways!

building

A weekend that’s hard to put into words,
but forever in our hearts and memories!

Celebration Sunday!!!

Happy Birthday, Courage Church!

It sounded crazy!
It was in an interesting part of Detroit
culture where 28 languages are spoken in a
2 mile radias.
It was nine years ago this weekend
that Chilly & I,
along with our three daughters,
8 young adults and a handful of newly arrived
post-high school students opened a brand new church
we lovingly called, “REAL CHURCH!”
Relevant
Equipping
Alive
Loving

Over the years we’ve meet in different locations-
including rented spaces that had never been churches
and probably never will be again (like a bar/concert
venue and a condo penthouse clubhouse!) ha!
Then, in late summer of 2012, God unexpectedly
plopped a gorgeous old building in our laps.

Besides building changes, amazing people from
around the area & around the country have
committed to this ministry. Others from
the dedicated “original starting team”
moved on to other places were God directed.
The heart of the church has remained the same-
“Living a real love from a real God in a real
world.” And that is not for the faint-hearted!

Following this exciting gift we changed our name
to Courage Church. Notice that both names are far more
than titles, they’re VERBS! It tells who we are and
what we do! Carefully listening to the voice of God’s
leading, being in Detroit, making constant changes,
always rejoicing over the beautiful things Jesus
does in the hearts of anyone who will let Him.
Anything worthwhile takes hard work & faith…
a faith in God that is lived out in Courageous
ways on a daily basis!

So today… we rejoiced together, all of us in
one historical old building with room to grow!
A building made special only because people
who love Jesus meet there… and people who
join them can meet Jesus, there, too!
(Several did exactly that today!!!)


To the many of you who have been a part of
this wonderful story of Courage Church,
thank you! Your priceless involvement
has left an eternal mark on the lives
of every face in this picture (and the
many people they represent).
Your efforts matter…
…..
Oh good grief… I started typing zillions
of ways that many of you have given to
this ministry, but that’s not possible!
I had to delete that attempt.
Some of you have never even set foot
in this state, yet you’ve joined
with us!

Thank you for loving Jesus & having the
Courage to believe in His love for
Detroit and His calling on our lives!

Courage Church online giving

4 Days Detroit- recap

 

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Ministry Teams of teenagers & youth leaders came to
Courage Church, Detroit from Michigan, Ohio, Iowa and Indiana.
Each morning the students benefited from quality (and fun)
teaching followed by outreach ministry in the afternoon.

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The evenings services left HUGE and lasting impressions
on students and adults with the ministries of Reggie Dabbs,
Edgar Cabello, Richard Crisco, Sounds Good Ministries
and my favorite… Chilly Chilton!

(Click on the pics below to go to their links)

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The final evening a rally was hosted at Courage Church
for the entire neighborhood of Southwest Detroit, also
proudly known as Mexicantown. (pictured below)

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Our building was SOOO full of people, and everyone
had a chance to hear about the love of Jesus and about
150 people raised their hands to signal that they wanted
to give their lives to Jesus!  SOOOO wonderful!

Nearly 25 of these new friends attended our regular
church service on Sunday morning and several of them
are taking their committment to Jesus so seriously that
they’ve asked to be baptised in water!  YAY!
In the words of NOT-so-spiritual song The Hokey
Pokey… “That’s what it’s ALL about!”

Thank you for praying (if you did)!
If you didn’t… please start now!
Pray for these new friends who just beginning their
journey with Jesus!
Pray for our family & leadership team!

THANKS!
(Many of you reading this helped make this amazing week
possible!  THANK YOU!  You have made a nice spot for
yourselves in our hearts!)