Monday, May 27, 2013

The "Potential" Perspective

If you are just now reading about our move in the House of Dreams, please go back and read this entry first so you have the background:
Our Home Sweet Home.

Today we went and flea bombed the house for the second time to try and get rid of fleas from the previous owners dog. We finally succeeded, got in all armed with cleaning supplies filled with hope and anticipation, ready to tackle what was ahead. It took all of about 5 minutes for me to assess the situation and feel completely overwhelmed. The first time I walked through the house I wasn't looking at the dirt and the details. I was looking at the overall potential of the house.  I sat on the floor with Clorox wipes and cleaning supplies, face to face with the layers of dirt that had come from years of neglect. I suddenly was upset, angry that people had let it get this point. I was frustrated that I was having to deal with the effects of a situation I did not cause. As I looked from floor to ceiling, room to room, the dust and dirty walls seems to be all I could see. It was was nasty. That's when I told myself to snap out of it and remember WHY we were doing the cleaning and started to imagine the rooms filled with people, love and laughter. The perspective of potential returned. However, after only cleaning one room for an hour and a half and only getting half of it done, I realized there was no way  it would happen with no help. So...I will be scheduling a work day because if several people or groups will come together for a few hours and divide and conquer, it will happen faster and it will be a community project that everyone is invested in.

I decided that I needed to call it a day and create a team approach. As soon as I got in the car my eyes started to fill with tears. I was overwhelmed with joy in all God was doing. I was overwhelmed with exhaustion. I was overwhelmed with all that was ahead on this journey but I couldn't shake the thought of potential.
I said to Glenn....."Getting this house ready, makes me think of the kids we will work with."

We do what we do working with at-risk youth because many of them don't see their own potential and sometimes the people around them don't see it either. Just as a potential renter could walk in our house, turn around and walk out because of the work to be done, there are many youth out there who experience that same scenario with people in their life. Maybe they do it to themselves. Maybe the amount of work to repair a relationship, try harder in school or even have hopes or dreams for their future feels overwhelming. Maybe some of it isn't their fault. Bad decisions of others may affect their current circumstance and they may be angry that they are having to deal with the stuff that comes from it. There could be situations where the odds just seem to be against them so why even try? The problem....the lack of the "potential" perspective. That's where we come in. 

We want to try and help youth and individuals in the community re-frame their perspective. We want to ask the questions of "What If? How? Why?" We need help people understand that sometimes if you put in the work and the effort and slowly clean off the obstacles and fear layer by layer...there just may be a sparkling baseboard underneath. Just as I have to choose to see our house with a certain potential perspective, individuals need to learn the power of choice. We all have one. We may not be able to change yesterday, but we can choose which perspective with which to view tomorrow. It helps to have a team of people around you telling you that and standing with you on the days when it all just feels a little overwhelming.

I'm praying that God will continue to speak to me through dirty base boards and cobwebs in the days ahead. I made a mental snap shot today of the perspective I had on a dirty floor so I would appreciate even more the joy that would come when everything was clean, painted and filled with warmth. Those walls hold so much potential on so many levels...but we need a team to make it possible.


Sunday, May 26, 2013

Our Home Sweet Home: The House of Dreams

There are times in life when we can become so focused on one avenue that we completely miss what God may be doing just around the bend....or in our case....a few miles down the street. We have posted bits and pieces of our recent discovery of our soon to be "Home Sweet Home" but I wanted to tell the entire story in one place because it truly is a God Story.

As many know we had been focusing all of our efforts into getting into an apartment complex where we have done some outreach projects. The corporate office was for it, but what seemed like an open door quickly became obstacle after obstacle. One night we finally said, "Ok God, if you are closing this door and this is not where we are supposed to be, then please show us an open window somewhere  else." I prayed, and immediately opened by Bible to a random place...but God is not random. He immediately drew me to this verse: "On the road someone asked if he could go along. "I'll go with you wherever, " he said. Jesus was curt. "Are you ready to rough it? We're not staying in the best inns, you know." Luke 9:57-58

I immediately thought..."Well let's look into moving into the projects of Savannah." I looked into it and the waiting list was closed. No chance. That same day I posted a status on Facebook about the verse I had read and the fact that we were open to going wherever God would have us go. The next day Glenn received a message from a guy that he knew from back in his days of managing the clubs. According to Glenn this guy was there almost everyday. He told Glenn in his message that he doesn't pray but the night before he said a prayer before he went to sleep. He woke up at 4:30 am and couldn't sleep so he checked Facebook and read my status that Glenn had shared. He immediately sent Glenn a message and said he might be able to help us out. He told Glenn that he had a house on the East side of Savannah in a neighborhood that some would be leery of moving into. We decided to check it out. The house was big and beautiful. The downstairs will provide ample space for Dream Campaign meetings, tutoring, bible studies etc. We plan to build big tables with long benches in the dining room for family dinners with our neighbors. Unfortunately, the previous tenants had all but trashed it. It needs some TLC. He offered us a reduced rent for the first 4 months if we would take it "as is" and clean it up. He would provide supplies. The side yard is big enough to do block parties, cookouts and outdoor movie nights. We stopped by the community center on the corner on our way out and discovered that this is the first summer in 12 years that they were not hosting a program for children. Kids out for program....hmmm.

Glenn knew immediately that this was our house. I didn't have that overwhelming peace I had hoped for and was nervous. But then I remembered that God doesn't always give that peace in the midst of a decision. Sometimes we have to take a leap of faith. We sat on it. Prayed on it. Talked it over. Crunched numbers. When I got home, I opened my bible again to this, " God, I've heard what our ancestors say about you and I'm stopped in my tracks, down on my knees. Do among us what you did among them. Work among us as you worked among them." Habakkuk 3:2 and "All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful for those who keep the demands of his covenant." Psalm 24:10.

I couldn't sleep that night and I was researching the neighborhood online and discovered that 32% of the people in the neighborhood never graduated from high school. 32% of all families in the neighborhood were single moms. And we were told that a house 2 doors down was known for being the McDonald house where you could get anything: Drugs, Women and Children. My stomach was in knots. How could we not move into this neighborhood? Wouldn't Jesus be there? Maybe this was the definition of rough.  I went to bed knowing this was the reason we had come up against so many obstacles in moving into the apartment complex. God was preparing the hearts of people and the place we would soon call home.

We called Glenn's friend and told him "Yes." We drove by this morning and a man walking down the street told us that as soon as he fixed his lawnmower he would come see us. He said that he would bring his grandsons to help him since they would be out of school soon with nothing to do. He gave us his name, address and phone number.

This afternoon when we went to pick up the key to the house the lady across the street was on the porch and I went over to introduce myself. She has lived in the neighborhood for 63 years. She knows everyone and everything about the area. Her daughter is a certified grant writer and she had a list of people she wanted us to meet. She mentioned the man who owned the company on the corner which does historic preservation and is very involved in the community. She told us that he just purchased the boarded up house across from  us and is turning into some kind of cooking school by a lady on a food channel. Most exciting is the fact that the empty lot directly across from our front door is about to become a community garden that kids in the neighborhood will take care of in conjunction with the school. We knew none of this when we made the commitment, but God was there long before.

We have a long road ahead. A lot of work and a lot of fundraising. The numbers don't work on paper, but we KNOW this is where God would have us. The circumstances have lined up exactly as they needed to and sounds like the future of our little block is ripe for community outreach. We have taken a leap of faith in some sense, but the leap is met with extreme peace and faith that our feet will land on solid ground.  We will have a guest room in this house where we invite our friends and supporters to "Come and See" what God is doing and be a part of it.

Our theme verse for The Dream Campaign is Ephesians 3:20: "God can do anything, you know - far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!"

Did I mention that a family donated an SUV to the ministry this week as well?

I am so humbled and honored that he entrusted us with this ministry.

This will be the House of Dreams. A place of peace, safety, laughter, love and hope for all who enter.

We invite you to join us.

We created a website for fundraising. If you would like to be a part of this story, please visit and find out more: If you would rather send a contribution by mail please send it to: The Dream Campaign, P.O. Box 5306, Savannah,GA, 31414

Every penny goes to helping us get settled in this new community and towards ministry projects for the next 4 months.


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Same Kind of Different

When I was younger, I used to think that I didn't really have much of a testimony or that it wasn't very interesting. I grew up in church. I was singing church songs as soon as I could utter a tune. I wasn't a bad kid. I wasn't rebellious. At some point I understood what a personal relationship with Jesus Christ was about and believed he was my Savior. I did not have that Damascus Road experience from Saul to Paul and as a result I put all of my effort into being a bible beating teenager because I didn't have the compelling "My current life is completely different because I know Jesus" story. Even as a young adult working in ministry, I always kinda felt like...."well, how can people see a major difference in me and therefore want to know more about Jesus." I meet people frequently who share these same feelings. "I don't have a story" or "it's not as good as theirs,"  but oh sweet do. We all do. Maybe your characters and setting are different. Maybe the climax of the story comes at a different point, but we all have the important elements.

The more my faith matures, the more my story develops and I realized a couple of nights ago it's not because I was one way and now I'm not, but because Jesus is who He is and everything becomes important as it revolves around this one fact. Being married to a man who does have that night and day salvation story keeps me in awe of God, but it doesn't make my story or your story any less important or exciting because in the end, every story of salvation is a redemption story..  Bear with me as this seems like a long passage, but hang in there, I want you to see your story in the midst.

Psalm 107, The Message
1-3 Oh, thank God—he’s so good!
    His love never runs out.
All of you set free by God, tell the world!
    Tell how he freed you from oppression,
Then rounded you up from all over the place,
    from the four winds, from the seven seas.
4-9 Some of you wandered for years in the desert,
    looking but not finding a good place to live,
Half-starved and parched with thirst,
    staggering and stumbling, on the brink of exhaustion.
Then, in your desperate condition, you called out toGod.
    He got you out in the nick of time;
He put your feet on a wonderful road
    that took you straight to a good place to live.
So thank God for his marvelous love,
    for his miracle mercy to the children he loves.

He poured great draughts of water down parched throats;
    the starved and hungry got plenty to eat.
10-16 Some of you were locked in a dark cell,
    cruelly confined behind bars,
Punished for defying God’s Word,
    for turning your back on the High God’s counsel—
A hard sentence, and your hearts so heavy,
    and not a soul in sight to help.
Then you called out to God in your desperate condition;
    he got you out in the nick of time.
He led you out of your dark, dark cell,
    broke open the jail and led you out.
So thank God for his marvelous love,
    for his miracle mercy to the children he loves;

He shattered the heavy jailhouse doors,
    he snapped the prison bars like matchsticks!
17-22 Some of you were sick because you’d lived a bad life,
    your bodies feeling the effects of your sin;
You couldn’t stand the sight of food,
    so miserable you thought you’d be better off dead.
Then you called out to God in your desperate condition;
    he got you out in the nick of time.
He spoke the word that healed you,
    that pulled you back from the brink of death.
So thank God for his marvelous love,
    for his miracle mercy to the children he loves;

Offer thanksgiving sacrifices,
    tell the world what he’s done—sing it out!
23-32 Some of you set sail in big ships;
    you put to sea to do business in faraway ports.
Out at sea you saw God in action,
    saw his breathtaking ways with the ocean:
With a word he called up the wind—
    an ocean storm, towering waves!
You shot high in the sky, then the bottom dropped out;
    your hearts were stuck in your throats.
You were spun like a top, you reeled like a drunk,
    you didn’t know which end was up.
Then you called out to God in your desperate condition;
    he got you out in the nick of time.
He quieted the wind down to a whisper,
    put a muzzle on all the big waves.
And you were so glad when the storm died down,
    and he led you safely back to harbor.
So thank God for his marvelous love,
    for his miracle mercy to the children he loves.

Lift high your praises when the people assemble,
    shout Hallelujah when the elders meet!

Good people see this and are glad;
 bad people are speechless, stopped in their tracks.
If you are really wise, you’ll think this over—
    it’s time you appreciated God’s deep love.

Some of you. Not all of you. We are all at various places in our journey in various circumstances when we start our journey with God. No matter how similar they may be, no two people's stories are exactly the same, because God is a personal God and meets each of us right where we are. However.... if you are a Christian, no matter how different our stories may be, we all had that defining moment where we called out to God. Maybe he rescued you from the miry pit. Maybe He reached into what seemed to be hell and snatched you out. Maybe he healed you. Maybe he saved your from your religious and righteous self sitting on a pew in church. Or maybe you find yourself in that moment of self conflict and you haven't yet cried out to God. 

Well, dear friends, for those that have made that cry...we can tell you that the next part is not a mystery. We should "thank God for His Marvelous love, for His miracle mercy to the children He loves." That's me and that's you.  You see...your story doesn't have to resemble a made for TV movie in order to be important. And you don't have to have the squeaky clean past to earn your right to spend eternity with God. The beauty of your story and my story....and why it's important is because GOD steps into our lives in unique and specific ways and meets us each right where we are extending the Same love and the Same mercy to each and every one of us. ALL of our stories end with the SAME amazing ending. 

See....we're all the same kind of different. 
Different circumstances. Different chapters.
Same God. Same Savior. Same Love. Same Mercy. Same Forgiveness. 

Share your story. You never know who may need to hear it and connect with it. Someone may think that God can't possibly love them. Some may think they are a "good person" and therefore OK.  You never know the silent struggles of another and who may be dying to be a part of "the same" part of your story.

If you find yourself caught in the differences, confused, or intrigued and want to become part of the same kind of different, I'd love to tell you how.



Monday, May 6, 2013

I Found Healing and Freedom In a Strip Club

Yeah...not exactly how I thought God would answer my prayers...Ha!

If you're seeing this for the first time and need the back story, please read this blog first: God's Calling Me to Strip Clubs.

I have waited a few days to post this update to process everything. Glenn and I have always tried to be honest about our joys and struggles and this will be no exception. I believe that God is developing a ministry for us to other men and women and I want to be transparent in how this all happened because I have prayed that God would allow this to reach someone who needs to hear it.

The days leading up to the club were fine. I was super excited. Glenn and I were anticipating my first night with The Sunshine Girls. Well...I believe Satan was also anticipating it because he wasted no time in shooting his arrows starting early Thursday morning. I hadn't even been awake for an hour before Glenn and I were arguing. By lunch time I felt incredibly defeated. We were fighting over STUPID little things..and then we would argue about arguing. The frustrating part was that I could recognize that it was Satan trying to get the best of me. I knew he wanted me to go into that club mad at Glenn because I would experience everything through that lens. I did the only thing I knew to do. I called on some girlfriends to cover us in prayer and after some time Glenn and I made our apologies and decided that WE would not be defeated like that. Before I left, Glenn held me in his arms and prayed a beautiful prayer over me. I was covered..not only by trusted friends, but by my beloved husband who knew exactly what I was walking into.

I got to the meeting spot where the teams gather, pack the cars with food and join together in prayer. I suddenly felt super nervous. I was really quiet (not like me). On the way to the club with my team we were talking about how Glenn used to manage the club 6 years ago (before knowing Christ) and what a big deal this really was for me on so many levels. When we arrived to the club we walked in carrying food (along with many people saying "hey the church ladies are here") and immediately set up a serving line. The first thing that struck me was that it was nothing like what I expected. Yes there was a girl dancing on stage but no one was really watching her. Most of the men in there were sitting at the bar with their backs to the stage or playing pool. As soon as we set the food down, one of the dancers walked up to us and asked which of us was in charge. We identified our team captain. Then the girl said, "I've been convicted that I need to start tithing, but since I'm not a member of a church I'd like to tithe to what y'all do." She followed with the fact that the money did not come from dancing but from her day job. I was completely blown away. What an incredible first interaction.

We served up plates of food for any of the dancers, bouncers or bar staff. The lady manager came out and gave us all hugs. The girls caught us up on what was going on in their life. Everyone was incredibly nice to us. The hardest part for me was to not appear like I was trying not to look. Sometimes it was hard to really focus. I obviously didn't want to watch the girls dancing and I didn't want to look at the patrons. As I took it all in I kept trying to picture Glenn in that environment....and as much as I tried to imagine him being there...I couldn't. I truly believe that was God's divine protection of my mind. I could NOT even imagine him as the person he once was, but only as a new creation.

Before we left, we went into the dressing rooms. For any of you that think all strip clubs are nice and  have the big light up mirrors and cushy seats where the girls get are mistaken. It was a small room, lockers and wall length mirrors, but nothing nice about it. We had brought homemade Mother's Day cards in with postage so that the girls could send their mom a card and hopefully create communication for any broken relationships. We talked to one really sweet girl who showed us pictures of her kids and told us all about them. She gave me pointers on how to make my hair curly and honestly, it was like chatting with a friend.

When we left, everyone said goodbye and gave hugs and said, "we'll see you next week." Some of the girls try to schedule themselves on Thursdays because they know The Sunshine Girls will be there. I left with a smile on my face knowing that I was doing exactly what God created me for. Loving people no matter what walk of life were on. I had an incredible sense of freedom as I walked out of that door. It was as if I had left a huge amount of luggage inside that I had been carrying around for the past two years. It went from baggage to blessing.

As I got in my car to head home I received a text message from Glenn that said, "how are you doing baby?" And my response was. "I'm coming home to you." Glenn says he knew in that moment that the night had gone well and I was different than when I left. I have never been so excited to see my husband as I was when I walked in the door. As we went to bed that night and I was telling him about my experience. That is when I had my light bulb moment. See...all of this time, I've compared myself to the girls in the club. Fearing that I didn't measure up in looks, experience, etc, I was afraid that I would disappoint Glenn on so many levels. Then it hit me....I actually do have something special that no other girl has ever truly had from him and that is his covenant love. I cried tears of joy that night in his arms because for the first time it was the two of us....not the two of us, plus the crazy insecurity of his past. We have laughed and smiled more together since Thursday then I can remember. I am so thankful for his patience and love. He has loved me well...even when it hurt.

My perception of strip clubs and dancers has completely changed as well. I used to have judgement and now I have sorrow. If I close my eyes and think about that setting....the thing I see the most is sadness on the faces of some of the girls. Eyes that are hungry to truly connect with someone. And the men.....what I thought would provoke extreme anger only causes me to want to pray for them and the disillusionment that are buying into and the bondage that lust has on them.

I am SO incredibly excited for how God is going to use this experience in the future. For the many ways that Glenn and I can partner together in ministry in a new mutual way. I really believe we are going to see lives changed in the people we encounter because God loves every person that was in that club...not just the saved ones.

My prayer that night and continually is "Break my heart for what breaks Yours. Everything I am for Your Kingdom cause."

God's love. His ways. His timing. Is ALWAYS perfect. I remain in awe of Him.

There’s a luggage limit to every passenger on a flight. The same rules apply to your life. You must eliminate some baggage before you can fly. ~Rosalind Johnson