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! 🙂

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!

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…)

Menu Plan Monday, April 14, 2014

mpm-chalkboard

Monday –
Thai take out! Yay!

Tuesday-
Homemade Chili & Mashed Potatoes
(hey, it’s supposed to snow…sigh)

Wednesday-
French Fry Salad w/chicken

Thursday –
Ham, Homemade Mac & Cheese, Veggie & Dip

GOOD FRIDAY!
(click here for an invitation to a GREAT
artistic Good Friday service)
Homemade Pizza

Saturday –
Peppers & Sausage over homemade noodles

Sunday – EASTER! (Thank You, Jesus!)
Grilled Ham w/pineapple, Scalloped Potatoes, asparagus,
Jello Jelly Beans, Angel Food Cake & Strawberries

More ideas here

I’m a Boring Shopper

Maybe I’m just too practical, but
I buy boring Christmas presents.

My brain thinks ahead
“Can they use this in more than one way?”
“Will it still be appealing in six months?”
“Will it drive their parents crazy?”

I guess that may NOT be what most people
think when they’re Christmas shopping, but
being a good steward of our money stays
with me… always… in every area… including…

This year our church has adopted several families
and will be providing a wide range of gifts
to care for a variety of needs in their families-
food
clothing for each member
shoes & socks
toiletries
household necessities
gift cards
and of course TOYS!
(a 15 passenger van FULL of toys was kindly
provided by Rochester Michigan Assembly of God!)

Everyone has eagerly grabbed up the cards
that describe one of the needs in each family.
I happily took some cards for children’s clothing.
(I have a little experience with this, huh?)

I wanted to buy great striped or patterned
sweatshirts and funky jeans & tennis shoes.
Then, “Practical” kicked in.
It’s more than likely that whatever we buy
for these children will be worn several times
a week. So… stripes and patterns are going to
be rather obvious and possibly invite teasing
(which they may already be enduring).
Enter “Boring Practical Shopper Lady!”
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Basic colors that won’t be too obvious if worn often.
Jeans that are dark & won’t show as much dirt, crayon marks,etc.
Boot shoes. Not snowboots,
but OK if worn when snow is on the ground,
yet still a shoe.

Not exciting.
But then again, maybe it’s because most of
us have MORE than our basic needs met.

Thank you, Lord, for meeting our needs
and allowing us to share!

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

I’m not gunna lie

I’m not gunna lie.  It’s true… I look.
As of Monday evening I totally take a close look…
at every person riding a bike in our neighborhood.
It’s because I’m instinctively looking for a bike that
looks similar to this one….

bike

Why?
Because my daughter’s bike (that looked similar
to this picture above) was stolen from our garage
during the night.  Then, as if the gashes in the
garage weren’t enough, the thieves returned
during the early evening (while we were away
for a couple of hours) and hacked away at the
garage door again. (fortunately we’d reinforced
the door).  But seriously!

Now some of you may be thinking, “That crazy
family just needs to move out of Detroit?”
(And we really do live right in the heart of
Detroit city… not a suburb.)
But move?  Really?

I bet you’ve had a missionary come to your
church and tell wild stories of danger from
the country they are called to, right?  You
probably sat there with awe and admiration,
thinking, “Wow, they are so obedient to Jesus!”
Why then, do you some of you get disgusted to
hear stories of a missionary in one of your own cities?

You have a choice… just like we do.
Proverbs 11:11
“Upright citizens bless a city and make it prosper,
but the talk of the wicked tears it apart.”

God has sent us to Detroit to make it our home;
He sent us to share His love and the hope that
comes through His forgiveness and salvation.
You have to be where God has called you, too…
and if it’s in the city… yay!
(maybe He’s calling you to our city!)
Or maybe He’s put you elsewhere.

Just obey.
And… speak well of those who are citizens of the
city… and Pray for us! (and other urban missionaries!)

 

Oh…
and a wonderful lady in a nearby area has given
our daughter another bike similar to the one that was
taken on Monday night.  As I’m typing this, our friend
and daughter are on their way to pick it up!  THANK YOU,
Kind Lady who is “blessing the city!”

 

 

 

Summer so Far (part 2)

July 4th we went to the Detroit Tiger’s Game. Right after this pic was taken it rained for 2 straight hours. But we stuck it out & had a blast!

Really hot days are good for staying inside & racing cars

 

Messing with the photo programs just never gets old, does it?
  
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Visiting a friend’s new, teeny baby girl when she was just a few hours old

Enjoying another sweet baby born to our church family

Swing Set water (and mud) park that got great reviews. (Notice the swin noodle hanging above their heads. It has holes cut in it & the hose is attached to the end)

Real Church became “Courage Church.” Check it out at www.couragechurch.com

It’s not every church that gets to hold it’s baptism on the “beer deck” of a local venue.

Courage Church is giving a beautiful new location & huge opportunities to reach a whole new area of the city with JESUS’ love! (it needs numerous repairs… maybe you have the ability & resources to help spread HIS love. Look here )

Lots & lots of board games & card games