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

happy sad

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!

photo 13

photo 24photo 25photo 26

photo 1

photo 2photo 4

photo 14

photo 4

photo 1

photo 2

photo 4

photo 21

photo 24

photo 3photo 5

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!

Hidden Agendas

Ick. Hidden agendas just make me wanna barf. And so many times
people will ask one thing but really be “fishing” for something
else… and think that no one notices. Again… ICK!

But that’s not what I’m referring to in this blog.
The Apostle Paul told the church in Corinth that
sincere love speaks for itself.

“We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding,
our patience, our kindness,
by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love.”
2 Corinthians 6:6

In this text the word for “sincere” means
not fake, free from hidden agendas.

“Well, that’s me for sure,” we all say smugly to ourselves.
But, maaaaaaaybe not!

What about the times we’ve gone out of our way for our
neighbor and they politely said, “Thanks,” and shut the door?
(I guess we were expecting a little more, right?)

Or when we sacrificed some serious sleep to bless our family
and they not only didn’t say thank you, but they actually
complained about our kindness?
(Certainly we could have expected a smidgen of praise
or at least a tiny bit of affirmation for our undying sacrifice!)

Or the time we so freely gave up our Saturday afternoon
to help out a stressed friend, but she seemed just as
uptight when we left as when we arrived.
(Surely our most blessed gift of time should’ve brought
about a peaceful gratitude!)

See what I mean?
Proudly we can declare that we give love without expecting
anything in return, but if we’re honest with ourselves
we have to admit that we have expectations…
hidden agendas.

Doing things to merely get my expected response (and warm fuzzy affirmations)
is like posting a selfie… only for SELF!
I must answer to God for MY love…
So, I’m learning to regularly ask myself, “Do I love without hidden agendas?”
Do you?

25 Years – The List

25 Keys to a Joyful and Lasting Marriage
(in no particular order)

257231-stock-photo-old-red-graffiti-wall-building-life-wall-barrier-300x300

One of the keys to our marriage has always been to realize that we’re not experts and that our way may not be best for others. In fact, over the years, we’ve been asked to do “Marriage Retreats” and other types of events and we’ve replied (with a smirk), “One of the secrets to our marriage is not doing marriage retreats!” So, this list is not comprehensive or authoritative. But, rather just a quick, random, spontaneous list from Chilly and me as we sit together in Florida celebrating our FIRST 25 years of marriage… Enjoy!

1. Smile every day — often!
2. Talk (and listen) to God before you talk to each other.
3. Buy good toilet paper and roll it over-the-top.
4. Fight for your ‘sabbath day’ — and make it count.
5. Last one out of bed makes the bed.
6. Say I love you as often as you can! Also, compliment each other. Lots of eye-contact.
7. Don’t discuss important things when you’re overly emotional (angry, sad, depressed, etc).
8. Laugh… A LOT!
9. Don’t compare or compete with each other — revel in uniqueness!
10. Honor one another. Never tease or embarrass the other beyond what’s kind.
11. Live translucent not transparent. Yes, allow others to see inside but not every detail.
12. Live Amenable (even better than accountable).
13. Follow God’s dreams rather than expect Him to follow ours.
14. Make love not war (and everyone just went, “Oooooo!”)
15. Discipline in unity — be on the same team.
16. Be present (alert & responsive) not just around.
17. Take time away from ‘everything’ together and at times, alone.
18. Make sure God remains head of the home & marriage.
19. Don’t make your spouse your only friend — do different things with different people.
20. Live above reproach (opposite sex, computers, free time, interests, etc).
21. In disagreements or decisions, avoid words like: Always and Never.
22. Communicate LOVE the way your spouse needs it not the way you want it.
23. Raise your children as individuals — no two are the same. Enjoy their uniqueness!
24. Seek wisdom from those who have lived it — not just from peers, blogs & books.
25. Don’t think you’re an expert… EVER. Avoid writing lists for the first 25 years!

Hope you’ve enjoyed this little random list. I’m confident that we left out some essential things that may have made you think, “what about this?” — we’re just happy that it’s got you thinking, laughing and reading. We’re SO THANKFUL for our marriage! We’re also thankful for all of you who know us and still love us! Thanks for praying for our marriage and family, for reading our blogs, for sharing in our crazy little world and for living such extraordinary lives. You inspire us and encourage us to FEARLESSLY go for God’s best!

Life, marriage and family are all wonderful ADVENTURES not tedious chores or mindless routines! Your path is planned by God and is filled with unexpected blessings and opportunities. IF you avoid the ordinary, you’ll live the extraordinary! This is our prayer for our lives and YOURS!

Well, it’s back to the beach for us!

CHECK BACK in 25 years for our next list!

More IN Love than EVER,
Chilly and Netta

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 Word – Humility

When you think of words that make your tummy turn a
little flip and your heart utter a little prayer of
forgiveness, one of those words would most certainly
be HUMILITY. Am I right?

This difficult quality will not grow in us as long
as we are thinking about ourselves.
“How do I look?”
“Did I do that right? Are they noticing?”
“How will this affect me?”
“Why are they doing that? That’s not even right!”
“They’re so insensitive!”

Insecurity kills humility.
Cuz thinking about ourselves all the time
is pride… the enemy of humility.

A purposeful effort must be made to
NOT be full of self-thoughts.

Make an effort to…
– be gentle (deciding to be kind)
– be patient (cuz impatience is selfishness!)
– work without a title
– not depend on others’ affirmation
– choose the “invisible” jobs
– recognize others when you’re craving recognition
– be alone without being lonely (quote from our mentor Jeannie)
– stop rating other people
– remember Who you serve & why

Humility is the inside-out virtue that’s produced
by comparing ourselves to the Lord rather than to others.

“Always be humble and gentle.
Be patient with each other,
making allowance for each other’s faults
because of your love.”

Ephesians 4:2

You know you live in the city when… (with pictures)

You know you live in the city when…

-your son asks you to finish this
sentence in his language book, “The school nurse checked …”
and you immediately replied, “everyones’ head for lice!”

-your 13 year old tells you she just heard of a girls
program called “4-H” and goes online to figure out what it is.
(All my cousins who are farmers & ranchers
are stunned right now! ha!)

-your young children enjoy the “farm animal” section
of the zoo as much or more than the wild animals because
the only place they see any of them is at the ZOO!

Photo via detroitzoo.org

Photo via detroitzoo.org

-you close your curtains the second the sun begins
to go down because your neighbors are just a few inches
from your windows.

-your mailman is not only terrified by your dog,
but yells at it through the door while putting mail into
into your box that’s right outside your front door.

P1060271

– your neighbors come in all different nationalities,
combinations of colors, ages, accents and opinions, and
you are SO THANKFUL to raise your children in a place
with such variety!

– it’s unusual to go a whole day without hearing another
language besides English (well, this is only true if I
actually leave the house on that particular day! ha!)

-you can make last minute plans to attend the big game
because the stadium/ball park is only minutes away

Photo credit Mariah Chilton

Photo credit Mariah Chilton

-your mail has been stolen several times

– you have an arranged “hiding place” where the UPS guy
puts your deliveries if you’re not home

– your neighbor works at the Opera House a couple miles away
and hooks you up with tickets for you & few friends

photo 1

photo-25-e1399563492983

IMG_0204

– driving by the park reveals a group of men in “dresses”
playing cricket (this is my kids’ description)

-you have access to foods from all around the world in local
restaurants and ethnic little grocery stores

– you know all the best parking spots for the big games
that the “suburbanites” are too afraid to use

– you get really excited that the street lights are
being repaired and will actually work! (Thanks, Major
Mike Duggan!)

– you can decide to go to a museum on the spur of the
moment because it’s just down the street (and quite possibly
FREE because you live in the right place or can print out
free passes from the library!) SWEEEET!

– the local Cinco de Mayo parade is abruptly halted
due to a fatal shooting

– your children and friends from church are involved
in that parade & you were a spectator, yet no one really knows
why the police sent everyone to their cars until later (when
local news tweeted it)

photo 3

– God sends you to live in and love the people of
that city, He also provides for you & cares for you
in a way that other people just don’t understand

– people ask where you live and you proudly
say, “DETROIT!”

(I think Chilly took this pic)

(I think Chilly took this pic)

Savvy?

When I was growing up my Dad would often explain
something to me and then ask, “Savvy?” This means,
“Get it? Do you understand the whole of it?”

Psalm 55:22 says, “Give your burdens to the LORD,
and he will take care of you.
He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.”

God promises to TAKE CARE of us when we fling
our
assignments back onto Him.
(In previous posts I discussed these Words.) In this case,
TAKE CARE implies that God will sustain, provide or to
comprehend. COMPREHEND?

YES! God not only provides, but He provides
in a way that keeps the whole picture in mind.
He gets it! I certainly do NOT!
He sees the future. I only see the now.
He understands what is unseen. I can’t even
understand what’s smack in my face.

Jesus asks me to stop trying to “handle” my life…
He most certainly is “savvy!”
Me… not so much…um, not AT ALL!

Your comments are welcome