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!

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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!

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…)

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.

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– 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

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– 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)

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– 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)

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

That’s What He Said

If you read my post yesterday you know that our garage
was broken into and our daughter’s awesome bike was stolen.
That happened on Monday.

Fast forward a couple of nights…
It’s bedtime.
I’m praying with our boys as I tuck them into bed.
We prayed for all the usual needs and safety…
just like any other night.

Then my 6-year-old prayed, “Jesus, help the person
who took Zoe’s bike to know that they should ask You
to forgive them and ask you into their heart.”

 

Psalm 8:2
“You have taught children & infants
to tell of Your strength,
Silencing Your enemies
and all who oppose You.”

 

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!”

 

 

 

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!)

Dictionary Headlines

Dictionary Headline = a fusion of two genre’s of communication in an effort
to explain all the life-changing things that are happening.

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Freaky Friday = realizing on Friday at lunchtime that your three youngest children
will no longer be homeschooled because God has miraculously made an opening
for all THREE of them in a wonderful school right in your own the city!
But…Now you must frantically buy school uniforms since they begin on Monday morning.

Satisfying Saturday= attending your oldest daughter’s
graduation from Xmin Academy where she’s gone through
Global University
, plus many other tests and the
memorization of over 400 scripture verses and will
continue to serve in Detroit where God has called her…
as a soon-to-be licensed minister.

PraisePrayPreachingParty = (sure, it’s a real word) when
you completely love your church and enjoy every
second spent with them on Sundays (and Saturday
in small group, and Wednesday in Bible Study and
any other days throughout the week!)

Reality Dream = when you take the children you’ve homeschooled
to a “real” school where they happily bounce into a classroom for the
first time in their lives and excitedly begin to made new friends, but
none of it feels very real.

Power Packing= helping your husband pack a suitcase before
he leaves on a three day trip called “Manuvers” with the current
Xmin students (who are from MI, MN and CA).

Xmin= X is from the first century letter that was an abbreviation
of “CHRIST,” and Min represents “ministry.”  (see details here)

Second First Day = the second time this fall that your children
have a first day of school because the first day was in September
when you started homeschool; the second is this
Monday when they started a Charter school.

A Nine Day*= A day that doesn’t feel like
any particular day of the week;
a strange one; the type of day that makes you
wonder around the house because you’ve
been at home with ONE or MORE small
children to care for  the last
TWENTY years
and now, suddenly, they’re
ALL in school. All day.
And you’re home… with no little ones.
(I had 5 Nine Days)

Hardcore Nap = when you sleep so hard that when
your alarm goes off you panic cuz it’s light and you think
you’ve overslept and made the entire household late for school.

Free Lunch= having lunch with a friend without having
had to find someone to watch
the children (for the 1st time in 20 years!)

Birthday Bonanza= when you bake approx. 8 dozen “monster” cookies for your son’s
6th bday so he can take treats to school and to church that evening; then bake & decorate his spiderman cake (with his help & instruction, of course!)

Perpetual Progress=
the constant commitment and hard work of my husband & a zillion other amazing people from Courage Church who
are working hard to finish a project only to begin
another one in order to have the 3rd campus of
Courage Church open by TOMORROW! (October 7th!)

 

 

Courage Church has campus locations in Hamtramck,
Midtown Detroit and now Mexicantown!
You can help us celebrate our 8th anniversary as a church
by attending the Mexicantown Grand Opening tomorrow,
October 7th at 3pm!  Or you can watch it live beginning
at 3:30 here!

 

*Nine Day is a phrase coined by Courtney Chilton a few years ago
that is very fitting on many days… for many reasons!