It’s A Miracle

Twenty seven years ago today my life was changed forever. At 35 years old, and just six weeks from my 36th birthday, I married Lisa Burrell. To have and to hold.

Neither of us had been married before so this was brand new territory for us both.

The difference was that Lisa had Jesus on her side. I didn’t… yet. She had an eternal mindset. I was just jumping in the pool not knowing how cold the water would be.

Lisa had an amazing journey with God that started just 18 months earlier with an abrupt move from the suburbs of Chicago to the shores of Long Beach, CA.

She knew she was delivered and she knew God had a plan for her new life. It was apparent to Lisa that I would be a part of that plan shortly after I walked into The Reef.

Lisa just started working there a few weeks before and God provided her a hot meal everyday. He was showing her the He was her provider.

I was looking for a set to film an episode of China Beach and had no clue that my life would be changed the moment I saw her.

Three months after our wedding day we decided to move away from Los Angeles and after listing several cities we felt we could live in we settled in Charlotte, NC.

Less than a year later we were on the brink of disaster. Lisa was working and I was floundering. She had a support network with the friends she made at work. I was drifting through odd jobs including selling produce, Christmas trees and bar tending.

Lisa was praying for me every day while I was drinking. I was falling deeper into my demise which manifested into depression and self pity.

We were going to a small church with a handful of charismatics and with Lisa’s prompting, the men invited me to a men’s retreat. I reluctantly agreed.

Looking back it now makes sense why Pastor Geoff wanted to play tennis so much. Lisa was calling him asking him to reach out to me.

Neither one of us knew at the time, but Lisa’s prayers and her diligence in witnessing to me, God was setting me up.

The night before the retreat I was bar tending in a local pub. Lisa was back in California for a conference.

It was February 19, 1993. It was 17 degrees that night and God decided it was time to get my attention.

Most nights I would have kept my coat with all of my personal belongings behind the bar. This night I hung them just inside the back door.

At closing time I could not find my coat since someone took it home with them. It was 2:30 AM and the locksmith told me they could come now for $200 or come in the morning for $40. Even in my inebriated mind that decision was an easy one.

I called my drinking buddy Joe to stay with him. My keys were gone so I couldn’t get into my house. Joe said “Come on” so I walked a couple of blocks to the produce store he lived in.

Joe had a cot and a sleeping bag he used. Nothing more. I settled on the concrete floor in the 17 degree temperatures with no coat, no keys, and no identity since my drivers license was gone too.

God spoke to me at that moment letting me know that He gave me everything. My car. My comfort. My identity. My wife and my life. And He could take it ALL away in an instant.

I went to the retreat later that day. Hung over and humbled.

I have no idea what Peter Lord said in the opening session but I found myself surrendering my life to Christ. From that moment my life has never been the same.

God freed me from myself that day. Freed from drinking and depression. And with Lisa’s help, He saved me.

Now 27 years later I realize that I not only got married but I was given a wife who literally saved my life.

Thank you Jesus and thank you Lisa.

Thanks For Showing Up

b_day_fhi08-792162528cc3e57bcf763a2e0403df32This past week my wife had a big birthday. She was so excited, she was sending me emails three weeks ago with suggested gifts. I was going to surprise her with a gathering of friends, but she found out early. Oh well, it was still fun and she was excited to see a large number of her friends. Thanks to all of you that showed up.

 

On Facebook and other social media sites I am reminded every day to send Happy Birthday wishes to all my friends and they’re all posting their thanks for remembering their big day.

I know I am always looking forward to my birthday. How about you? Even as the count of years gets higher I know this day is special because it is designated for the day I showed up. A part of me feels very special with every card and post I receive. I am reminded how lucky I am to have so many friends in my life.
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Birthdays are a special day to celebrate yourself since it is the day you were born. They are also great days to celebrate the arrival of our sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, and thanks to our moms for enduring the labor to get us here.

It is with that spirit of thankfulness and excitement that we want to remember the birth of Christ.  God sent His only Son to bring hope into our world.

We tend to forget within the midst of all the hustle and bustle of Christmas that it is really all about Jesus’ birthday. He brought light into this dark world we live in.

So when we hear Merry Christmas this year let’s also share a joyous Happy Birthday Jesus and thanks for bringing Hope into a lost world.

For me, I thank God he showed up.

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Trusting Him

In the past year since posting anything to this blog, life has shifted taking my journey down a new trail.

The past year’s adventure has brought great joy and deep sorrow, laughter and tears, excitement and confusion.

Through it all God has been there every step of the way.

He has instilled in me reassurance through Joseph’s journey that it would have been real easy for Joseph to be pissed off because of his brothers’ efforts to kill him. Even due the fact that they decided to sell him off into slavery, Joseph decided to trust His God and lean in to God’s plans instead of his own. (Genesis 37) In the end God used Joseph to reveal His glory.

I have wandered and wondered if maybe I have been trying to force my plans instead of patiently waiting on Him. Because of that, He has placed in me trust in Him knowing that our God and Savior has this covered. His plans are always greater than our dreams.

Praise in the hallwayNow; on what I am praying is the light at the end of this dark tunnel, God is working on getting me to an understanding that He is working.

Rather than me crying, “But Lord, its quarter to 11.” He is telling me to praise Him in the hallway until He blows open the next door.

So, I guess what I’m sharing here is that it is really easy to jump to a position of doubt in ourselves instead of remembering that He wants to use each and every one of us for His glory.

In the end He doesn’t need us, but He wants us.

Please remember that when this world gets tough. He wants us to rely on Him. To trust Him.

God our Father created YOU for His purpose and His purpose is to love us forever.

Coffee Anyone?

There is nothing quite like the aroma of coffee in the morning, in the afternoon, and for some… at night.coffee2.jpg

Some of us will go out of our way for just the perfect cappuccino, the fullest café latte, and some are all about the richest beans.

My guess is you have a preferred haunt with the best barista that you tell all your friends about.

If not, here are a few recommended places to check out. Go to their websites for other offerings like the Smelly Cat’s Chia Tea or Mama’s specialty foods. You may enjoy your visit more if you call them to confirm if they have Wi-Fi or not. Some of us cannot drink our cup of joe without an iPad or phone.

I would have listed these alphabetically to insure my list is incorrect next to your list, but instead they are provided geographically so you can choose the coffeehouse nearest you.

CENTER CITY

Amelie’s
College & MLK Blvd
7:00AM – 2:00AM

101-199 E M.L.K. Jr Blvd
Charlotte, NC 28282
www.ameliesfrenchbakery.com
Directions

Central Coffee Company
Plaza Midwood
6:00AM – 8:00PM

719 Louise Ave
Charlotte, NC 28204
www.facebook.com/CentralCoffeeCo
Directions

Not Just Coffee
7th Street Market
7:00AM – 8:00PM

224 E 7th St.
Charlotte, NC 28202
www.notjust.coffee
Directions

Port City Java
Hearst Tower
6:30AM – 5:00PM

214 N Tryon St.
Charlotte, NC 28202
www.portcityjava.com
Directions

Rush Expresso Café
Latta Arcade
7:00AM – 5:00PM

120 Brevard Ct.
Charlotte, NC 28202
http://rushespressocafe.com
Directions
Starbucks
Dilworth
5:30AM – 11:00PM

1401 East Blvd.
Charlotte, NC 28203
www.Starbucks.com
Directions
NORTH

Amelie’s
NoDa
Open 24 hours

2424 N. Davidson St.
Charlotte, NC 28205
www.ameliesfrenchbakery.com
Directions

The Smelly Cat
NoDa
6:00AM – 10:00PM

514 E 36th St.
Charlotte, NC 28205
http://smellycatcoffee.com
Directions

SOUTH

Amelie’s
Carmel Commons
7AM – 11PM

7715 Pineville-Matthews Rd #34B
Charlotte, NC 28226
www.ameliesfrenchbakery.com
Directions

Mama’s Coffeehouse
Pineville
6:30AM – 7:30PM

716 Main St.
Pineville, NC, 28134
www.MamasCoffeehouse.com
Directions


Rush Expresso Café

Ballantyne Village
6:00AM – 8:00PM

14825 Ballantyne Village Way
Suite 135
Charlotte, NC 28277
http://rushespressocafe.com
Directions

Starbucks
Southpark
5:30AM – 10:00PM

4425 Park Road
Suite 100
Charlotte, NC 28209
www.Starbucks.com
Directions

EAST
Julia’s Café & Books
Latrobe
7:00AM – 6:00PM

1133 N Wendover Rd.
Charlotte, NC 28211
www.JuliasCafe.org
Directions

ONLINE
Climb’s Roast Coffee
Coffee with a cause…
1515 S. Mint St.
Charlotte, NC
www.ClimbsRoast.org
Directions

 

say what.jpg
Just in case, here is some help with coffee terminology.
www.coffeeforless.com/coffee-glossary

 

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Now… let us know your favorite…

best location…

best cup of brew…

best desserts…

best part about drinking coffee.

Please let us know about any place we missed. Include all the details so we can check it out when in the neighborhood.

Ciao…

Domestic Violence is a problem year round

Every year we celebrate Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October. This year was no different as we participated in more than 40 events.

P1070034From a joint City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County Proclamation to marches on The Square in response to this year’s sixth and seventh local domestic violence related homicides, we rallied the citizens of this county to help raise the banner and extend a life line to potential victims in our neighborhoods.

Some of the events were strictly awareness efforts. Some were benefits with proceeds going toward helping provide services for the more than 1000 clients we serve every year through our Adult, Children and Batterer Services.

From RAD Charlotte rocking against domestic violence to candlelight vigils we know at least 5,623 citizens of Mecklenburg County were engaged in these efforts. Thanks to all of the advocates and countless volunteers for helping us spread the word.

Wells Fargo Lights CLTWith other efforts like the Wells Fargo Duke Energy Building being lit up in purple to the Diversity Council’s discussion on The Impact of Cultural Differences on Domestic Violence in Mecklenburg County to Power98’s Power Talk radio and television specials, we cannot gauge how many were actually reached.

On October 6th, WSOC-TV aired a one-hour special entitled Stand Up To Domestic Violence. With testimonies from abuse victims to perpetrators to bystanders interceding there were a lot of educational and powerful moments.

Community Support Services partnered with WSOC-TV in this effort by providing 7 staff and 10 volunteers from the Domestic Violence Speakers Bureau to answer phone calls from viewers in an effort to connect them with local services. The 110 calls that came in from viewers in 22 counties ranged widely. One gentlemen with a warrant was convinced to surrender. Another women who has endured verbal abuse for more than thirty years was referred to Adult Services for safety planning.

Our challenge now, as November moves swiftly toward December and we get lost in the Holidays, is that we do not forget about the countless number of male and female victims that are living as prisoners in their own homes. All at the hands of their abuser.

As the Domestic Violence Fatality Review Team reminded us again this month, domestic violence is a year round problem.

Join us as we work toward diminishing this problem and clearly communicating to all of our neighbors and constituents that Mecklenburg County has zero tolerance for domestic violence.

For more information on how you can help raise the banner against domestic violence, contact the Domestic Violence Speakers Bureau at 704-432-1568 or go to http://DVSB.CharMeck.org.

Are We An Accomplice?

A recent post on Drinkers With Writing Problems entitled “Elizabeth Gomez: Beast Woman” is a chilling example of the ripple effect of victims trying to minimize the violation of rape.

Ladies… You have a right to be pissed off. I am so sorry that you were violated and that some of you have gotten to a point of dealing with your pain by trying to rationalize it.

bigstock--D-Your-Voice-Crossword-On-Whi-31349309Rape is a brutal violation build on a foundation of rage regardless of what a rapist’s relationship is with the victim. It is especially brutal when a man violates his wife or his girlfriend or family member. Did you know that according to the CDC more than 85% of rape victims knew their rapist?

I am always amazed by the strength and courage of women that have endured any form of abuse by men that are supposed to love them. To Elizabeth’s point, every woman has a right to tell her story and many find it pivotal to their hearing. But it’s not easy. I am proud of you Elizabeth and the countless others that have discovered how important their voice is to help turn the tide of violence against women and girls.

cards side 2Guys… we know not all men are perpetrators, but the 4 out of 5 of us that don’t abuse their partners are not speaking up. We need to learn from these women how to discover our own voices. Otherwise we find ourselves defending ourselves or worst; our silence puts us in the role of accomplice.

Men… let’s tell the women in our lives that they are loved and cherished. That we do not view them as sex toys or a playground for our self-fulfilling needs. Let’s rise up to be the men that God designed us to be.

Let’s make our purpose in life about presenting the women in our lives in a greater light than the day God presented them to us.

Inspiration From A Fifth Grader

When working with survivors of domestic violence there seems to be a hero around every corner, but we don’t expect them to be an 11 year old.

Patricia & Kya Gregory

Patricia & Kya Gregory

Kya Gregory is a child observer whose compassion to help victims of domestic violence began as she saw it first hand when her mother was emotionally and physically abused by her father.

Kya wanted to help somehow, but she didn’t know where to start. Her mom called the CSS Women’s Commission for ideas and when I shared our cell phone program Patricia said “Kya can do that.”

Kya spoke with her Pastor at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church and with his blessing she set out to collect 150 old-used cell phones. Her efforts included making wooden boxes with statistics and stories that were put on display in the foyer of the church.

Click on image to see Family Focus feature

Click on image to see Family Focus feature

The congregation was so moved that her story became a Family Focus feature on WSOC-TV. (click on the image or this link http://bit.ly/1KpssBe to see that story).

Kya delivered 207 old-used cell phones to the Women’s Commission office yesterday. Now she is looking for another way to help. Her next outreach effort? Collecting umbrellas for the homeless.

If this one little girl can find a way to extend a lifeline to victims what can you do?
For more information on the cell phone collection program check out the Domestic Violence & Violence Prevention page at http://CSS.CharMeck.org or call Mike Sexton at 704-432-1568.