Wednesday, March 29, 2017

A Safe Landing

I have no big words to share. No big points to make. Just thoughts that sit on my heart and in my mind. I'm a church girl. Have been since the day I got saved. Of course at the beginning it was all because I was "supposed" to be at church because the doors were opened. Now it's because I truly love to go and learn and worship. I love to learn so that I can take it out into the world and share it with others around me. So, basically I love a good, practical sermon.

Here is what I do not love about church (this is not at all intended to be negative or ranty, it's just things that I am seeing from others around me). I do not love that we all feel like we have to be perfect when we walk in. I do not love that even in small groups we don't have freedom to be ourselves because of fear of how others around us will react. I do not love that it feels like we have to keep it ALL together ALL of the time. Living that kind of life is exhausting.

When we began doing things at ReBUILD my husband and I had this plan and this vision for how things would go. Want to know how many of "our" things have happened....ZERO! Want to know Who's plan we are following now? God's! I want to share the things I am seeing Him do. One of my plans was to connect "church" people with people we were ministering to. Those who some would see as the least reached of our city. You know the messy ones that are hard to get involved with. OH, PLEASE.....we are all messy and hard to be involved with (if you aren't, please share your secret). Want to know what God has done with my plans and ideas? He's shown me that there's no difference in any of us. We all need help! We all need a safe place! We all need safe people! So, while I thought that we would be doing this mentoring know matching up people and watching them form relationships and it just being all beautiful.

Here's the beautiful God has done. He HAS brought "church" people to ReBUILD.....He's brought them because they are all jacked up and a mess too! But most of them don't have a safe place to land. To come in and be welcomed-problems and all. I'm watching us all gather around the table-from the greatest to the least-and share our burdens. Share our problems. Or sometimes just sit in silence. All the while knowing that they are in:

-a place of safety
-a place of rest
-a place where weary souls can be refreshed.

I don't know what God has planned next at ReBUILD and that's scary because I like to know it all and have it planned out. But what I do know is that ALL-church people, non-church people, Christ followers, non-Christ followers-ALL are welcome to come and be nourished: physically, spiritually and mentally.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Things I Have Learned

I am praying over these words as I type them. My heart is burdened, but I don't want anything I say to come out as just a rant. I can guarantee that no one wants that. Besides that rants rarely get anything positive done other than helping the ranter to feel better. I can't preach that I am all about love and grace then come blast people and gripe about things I don't like. I don't want this blog to be about me just getting stuff off of my chest. I want it to be about learning how to build better relationships with people and in turn letting them know they are loved by people here right now, but even more so by God....the Creator of the Universe.

I am a relational person. I LOVE to talk to people. You learn how to help them, how to pray for them. Maybe that's why what I'm writing about is so heavy on my heart.

Up until about 4 years ago Christmas was all about me and my family. Making sure they had everything they wanted. Making sure I had everything I wanted.
House perfectly decorated=check
Perfect gifts bought=check
Perfect amount of cookies baked=check
Perfect Christmas outfits=check
Christmas story read on Christmas morning (to make sure we got Jesus into "our" plans)=check

Then it happened.....I got out of my bubble.

I learned how things worked outside of my nice, happy, perfect bubble. Four years later, I'm still learning how things work outside of the bubble. In the circle that I have been in all of my adult life everyone had everything they needed and just about everything they wanted. We're all living that nice, comfortable American Christian life. We don't worry about having food in our fridge's (when we don't have food it's because we're so busy we haven't had time to go to the grocery store, so we make a quick run to McDonald's). We have a house with a two car garage. We have the cars to go into the garages. We gave to people to ease our conscience. Not because we actually cared about the people. This right here is how I lived my life.

I AM NOT PERFECT. I DO NOT HAVE THIS THING FIGURED OUT. But I have learned a thing or two on this journey God has sent me on. These things I have learned are accurate for every day, but they seem more to be more in my face during the holiday season.

1. Not all people have all they need. It's not just during the holiday's that they don't have all that they need. It's also from January-November that they need some help.
2. Food Baskets, Food Pantry's, Clothing Give A Ways are AWESOME, but they should just be a tool. Meeting physical needs is a necessity, but they shouldn't be the end. They should be the beginning. The way to form a relationship with the people you are helping.
3. Relationships are the key. Lots of people are trying to ease their conscience by doing something good (I can say that because I have been that person). But not a lot of people are on the streets trying to get to know they people they are helping. I think this part is key......we gripe because people don't/won't change their lives. What are we doing to help them? Are we spending more than just our money on them? Are we spending our time with them? Building a relationship is KEY! Being a friend is KEY! Not looking at others as a project is KEY!

So, let's keep helping people through the Christmas season, but remember they will need help as well when January rolls around. Keep doing those food and clothing give a ways, but use them as a tool, a way to connect. Don't just give your money, as a director of a non-profit we greatly appreciate the money, but lives are changed because relationships are built!

Friday, September 16, 2016

Our stay-iversary ! Check out Huntington, WV

As promised in my HomeTown Girl post here are some pictures and things that we did in our 24 hour break from life! 

We began with dinner at Backyard Pizza and Raw Bar! Love it! Locally owned! I am HUGE on atmosphere! I will take an awe inspiring atmosphere with mediocre food any day! I know, weird, right? This though is not at all mediocre food! This is atmosphere + amazing food!!! Great pizza and beer menu! The dessert menu looked awesome as well, but I was stuffed on breadsticks with cheese and pizza! I had the Memphis pizza and my mouth is still warring thinking about it! 

After that we wandered through the streets back to our car and watched them set up for Chili fest the next day. 

Saturday morning started with brunch at Bittersweet Coffeehouse. In case you've never seen me post about it it's seriously, without a doubt my FAVORITE place in Huntington (after ReBUILD of course). Atmosphere, again, gets me every time! Amy does a magnificent job with the brunch and Rita and the coffee drinks are out of this world! I had a S'mores Chata and a S'mores Waffle. I've been craving them ever since! I don't want to at all down any place, but I'm not sure why you would ever choose a national company when you have this local coffee shop right here. It's that good! The best part about Bittersweet is that after you drink your coffee you can walk right over and do some shopping as they are housed with A Southern Company.  Super cute stuff! I already have a dress picked out for a Christmas party we attend every year! Tomorrow's Saturday....make plans NOW to get to their brunch! 

Next up was the Chili fest. It was about a bazillion degrees outside, so I didn't eat chili. I left that up to Paul or baby daddy (as he was referred to in the last blog which he totally loved 🙄). I still enjoyed walking around town checking out the stores and always people watching! We wandered around down to Heritage Station and in a couple of stores there. Ok...let me say this...because I'm typically very real and honest....I don't get why Heritage Station isn't full and overflowing with people hanging out there? Birds of a Feather is a super cute clothing store. Sip is a neat little wine bar. Full Circle Ceramics (don't go in if you are offended by profanity....I am not) just opened. Brand Yourself has awesome local  tshirts. River and Rail is over there. I know there are other places. These just pop out at me.  Plus there's that cute little courtyard in the middle. Let's open our eyes Huntington at the unique little spots we have around here. We left there and headed back to our car to move down the road a little bit to do some tailgating before the Marshall game. 

We headed down to tail gate and had hopes of attending the game, but we had to head home to the three yr. old instead. 

We picked up the three year old and headed to our last stop of the weekend for dinner, Fat Patty's. Baby Daddy's favorite place to grab a burger in town! 
The rest of Huntington had the same idea as well! 

So this was a glimpse into our little stay-iversary in downtown Huntington! I love every single part of this community! I'm super thankful and super blessed that I still love being with this man after 26 years! Happy #26 again, baby daddy 😘

Monday, September 12, 2016

Hometown Girl

Have you ever wanted something so badly that you begged God for it to happen? Have you ever begged God desperately for something to happen only to be met with a NO?

This is the story of my life. I was born in Huntington, West Virginia 44 years ago. As far back as I can remember all I ever wanted was to leave here. I had it all planned out. I was going to be either a fashion designer or a fashion merchandiser. I have all of the drawings from my childhood somewhere to prove that I was going to make it big and blow this joint. You see my dreams were far too big for this tiny town. There was no reason for me to stick around here. New York City-that’s where I was headed-that’s where the dreams would come to life. I stayed around all through high school and graduated from Milton High School. I am a proud member of the class of ’90. I began a little detour from the plan as I walked across the graduation stage 6 weeks pregnant. September after graduation I married my baby daddy and I did get to blow this joint, but only to Roanoke, Virginia (baby daddy is now 47 years old. He's gonna love that name now).That was not exactly the dream. Although, I did at least get out from West Virginia. I couldn’t hardly even say that name without gagging and rolling my eyes….you think I’m being dramatic? Uh no! Not hardly…..

At 18 years old I was out. You would think that I would have been happy right? Wrong….I was greeted by adulthood with generalized anxiety disorder and massive panic attacks. I couldn’t drive. I couldn’t stay alone. I had a year old baby (our girl was born in February of 91) -+and was a prisoner of my own home. Baby daddy basically lost his job because of me. I’ve been a lot to deal with since day 1. He was so busy taking care of me that he couldn’t work. No one really knew what was going. I didn’t really have any friends at this point in life and who wants to go around bragging that you can’t leave your house. The care of me was really up to Paul and he couldn’t keep me and a job. So we packed up and moved…..guess where we headed back to? You got it….back to the hometown. I couldn’t even be filled with dread because I was in such horrible shape I would live anywhere to get help. My mom, step dad and grandmother lived here (I am a 5th generation West Virginian) and would be able to help me get to the places I need to go. They would also allow baby daddy to get a job and get back to work without worrying about having to take care of me. 

We got back here and got settled in. Paul found a job. We found a little house to rent in Barboursville and a about a year and a half later we bought our first house in East Pea Ridge. It was nice little “fixer upper”. Help! We made it the home of our growing family for 5 years. In that time we added the boy and baby girl to our tribe of children. We moved into a new home (another fixer upper…HELP! Why did we do this to ourselves).  It was a little larger and it accommodated the needs as these kids kept growing. About 5 years after that move, we made the move to where we are now.  FINALLY, a ready to move into house! Thank you, Jesus! Baby Daddy already said he wasn’t moving if it wasn’t in “move in condition”. Through the years and through these moves my mental health began to improve. I could drive! I could stay home alone! The panic was not disruptive to my life anymore. I just kind of lived life during these years. Enjoyed my husband. Enjoyed my kids. Enjoyed my church. I didn’t really pay too much attention to where all of this living was taking place. After homeschooling for a bit our children went to a Christian school. All of our friends were church friends. I didn’t work outside of the home. I wasn’t a daughter of Marshall (although I think if I weren’t so old I’d like to be now. I’m super proud to live in the city that’s the home of Marshall University), so I had no real ties to the community.  I was happy, but not because of where we lived. 

Then that inner “I hate this place” monster woke up again. And it came back with a vengeance. Paul and I were on a 20th anniversary trip in Charlotte, North Carolina (because that was THE dream city). I remember sitting outside at a restaurant talking about what it would take to live there. Paul owns his own business…..why couldn’t he just pack it up and do it in Charlotte?......Our boy and baby girl were still in high school at this point. Baby Girl made us promise not to move till she graduated high school. So, I figured we had like 5 years left to go. In my head I figured if planned a bunch of trips then we’d be gone all of the time and it wouldn’t even be like I lived here. Two years after I’d made all of these plans God stepped in and said “Good try! Now let’s do things My way”. 

I got very sick. Truthfully, I should not be here writing this, but God decided there was more He wanted me to do. I figured that if He left me here I needed to get busy doing what He wanted me to be doing. I got involved in the Brown Bag Ministry taking food to girls on the streets. I started spending a lot of time in downtown Huntington. At some point along the way I began to fall in love with her people. The people no one really sees. I began to learn more about her problems and the uphill battle she was facing. I wanted to do something. I wanted to help….inside I’m thinking “Help? This city? These people? NO! This is the place I want out of.” Baby daddy and I began doing prayer walks over the city. We began taking date nights that ended up sitting in a car praying over buildings. Inside I’m thinking “What are you doing God”? I began going to Community Leaders Prayer Breakfasts. I began to fall in love with the people leading our city. I sat in prayer meetings listening to our mayor talk about the good we have going on around here. Baby daddy and I even began a non-profit to help our people. 

I also began to explore around here a little bit. I found some pretty cool stuff that our city has going on. I went from falling in love with our marginalized people to falling in love with our city officials to actually falling in love with this city! I have no idea how it happened, but it did and I’m ok with it!  I find myself wanting to tell everyone about all of the good that’s going on around this place! Baby daddy and I just celebrated anniversary #26 on the 8th of this month. We really needed a break from our life, so we got a baby sitter for our two foster girls and we did a “stayiversary”. You know like a staycation =). We didn’t want to travel too far and we didn’t want to spend too much money…..also I’d rather spend any money that we were going to spend locally. I can’t wait to come back next time and share all that we did around town. But until then let me leave you with this……

I am a Huntington HOMETOWN GIRL and I’m proud of it!

Friday, September 9, 2016

Love Like Jesus

Dang....I just suck at trying to keep a blog up to date! I promise that my friends and I are going to do a much better job at this! Right friends 😊! 
So much has been going on. I don't even know how to update. When God called my husband and I to build this community we had no idea what we were doing. Uh...just to be real....we still don't know what we're doing. We are just trying our best to follow God and love our city. 

Some (most) days the needs overwhelm my mind. The needs of people I meet. I needs of the buildings we have (they are four abandoned buildings that need as much love as my city needs). It's hard to watch everything that happens around you. You want so desperately to just wrap everyone you meet in your arms and love them. But the needs are great and I get overwhelmed. Which is a perfect combination for satan to enter in my mind.....this week this was my thought pattern.....What's the point? Why are we even doing this? We're not making a difference? Nothing's being fixed. No one wants to help. I CAN'T DO THIS ALONE! But then God says're right! YOU can't do this! YOU can't make a difference! YOU can't fix anything! BUT I CAN! 

He reminded me that He has given me one job! One calling. One mission with this community.....LOVE LIKE JESUS! Not judge. Not fix. Not make things perfect. Only LOVE! So that is what I will do! The rest I will leave to Him!

“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.”
Romans 12:9-10 NLT

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

This Place We Live

I wonder if we truly realize what we have in this town we call home....

You see I was never impressed with this place. I counted the days till I could get out. This place was not big enough for me. It didn't have enough to do to capture my attention. I got out after my marriage only to end up back here due to some issues with my mental health. Panic and anxiety issues cause huge amounts of stress in your life. I needed to be near family. Once the panic and anxiety was under control and I was functioning like a "normal" adult I was ready to blow this joint again. 

But there were problems with being able to do that. We had 3 children in school. My husband had atarted his own company. We needed to stick around till at least the youngest graduated from high school. That was last year (2015). Over the past few years I took every chance j could get to visit all of the "cool" cities. I had a kid living in Charlotte, so it was such a joy to visit her. We had a family in Virginia so I loved going to see them. 

Then in the middle of all of this. In the middle of me counting down the days till I could get out something happened. Something I wasn't prepared for. I fell in love with this place. Took me totally by surprise! I mean this is never where I meant to settle. But God opened these doors to work in the community. To get to know the people. To pray over this city. To do ministry in this city. 

And now I'm in I'm all in! I know we have struggles. We have problems that need to be fixed. But I don't worry about those things because 1. I know Jesus can fix it all! And 2. We have some amazing community leaders who are working their butts off to make Huntington a great place! 

I was sitting downtown the other night while out with my husband. We'd just been to Fat Patty's for dinner. We were stopped at a stoplight and I looked around. My first thought was what a beautiful city we live in! I'm so thankful that God didn't listen to me and let me leave! Let's not sit around and bash our city. Let's roll up our sleeves, dig out heels in and get to work!  

Friday, March 25, 2016

This Community We Call ReBUILD

And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord's Supper, and share their meals with great joy and generosity-all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.~ Acts 2:44-47

The Scripture above has been part of my dream since we started putting things in place to form this community called ReBUILD. When we first started we had no idea what it would like. Two years later we still don't know what a lot of it looks like. But we move forward trusting God that He'll give us the answers when we need them. Still, I always knew I wanted this community that came together to help each other. To love each other. To support each other. To feed each other. To have each others backs. A group that lived in very close community so that we could be right there to help each other when a need came up. I believe that is a very biblical concept. Over the past two years, we have worked to build relationships with people so that when a need arose they knew they could come to us and we would do all that we could to help them.

A group of us want to live on the ReBUILD property. We want to be there 24/7.....because really isn't that what community is? Our desire has never been to just show up hand out food and go home to our cushy houses. The desire has always been to live in the community.  Living together day in and day out. Sharing in the good times and the not so good times. Lifting each other up when we can't stand on our own. We're not there yet. We're getting close.....all we need is one shower in one building and we're set =)! We were given the opportunity this week to come together as this community to help one of our own. A lady that we work with has four children. The oldest was having back surgery at 6am yesterday (Thursday). That meant she was going to have to drag four children (ages 10, 9, 7 and 4) to the hospital to sit for the day. We knew we couldn't let that happen. Would you want to sit with 3 young boys at the hospital all day? Nah, me either! So....this is what our team did...Kayla- "I'll take one". Other Kayla- "I'll take one", Me- "I'll take one". There was no hesitation. There was no "I don't think so" or "I'm too busy". We jumped in and we did it! This is what was said "We're like a little family. This is what we do." Child that had the surgery had to stay overnight rather than outpatient. You know what we did? We each kept our M a second night....because that's what community does. That's what family does.

There's not much traditional about anything we do. This ministry. This life. This community. This family. We do not agree on everything each other says or does. We have loud, large, disagreements that involve words that you don't want to read.....but at the end of the day we are family! We are here for each other. We are this community called ReBUILD.