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! 🙂

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.
In a horrible panic.
“Oh, Jesus! Please hurry & help me love this place!”


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…)

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!”

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

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?



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.)


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!)



Wordless Wednesday – June 29, 2011

Recent days in Pictures:

Real Church BIG SPLASH on Belle Isle,

John the Baptist (with blond hair??)  visits the kids, Friends,

kite flying (thanks to our friend, Zach), “motor city fun starts young”

and my “baby” in the swing!


For other pics from other sites around the country/world

see Wordless Wednesday

and 5 minutes for mom