When Love Collides: A challenge to rebuild

IMG_7278

I just want to be where You are, I just want to be near Your heart, ’cause there is NOTHING like Your Love.

Yesterday as I was pulling out of the parking lot at work my phone rang.

“Hello?”

“Hey LauraBell (at CGM it’s almost as if my first and last name are one word, it’s funny + endearing all at once), It’s Pastor Austin, I wanted to steal you for a second to show you the food pantry, can you swing back by the office?”

“oh yeah, sure thing, be there in a sec!” I said as I turned my car around to meet him.

Pastor Austin is the Community Development Director at the Non-Profit ministry I work for in West Montgomery called Common Ground Montgomery.

Pastor is called Pastor because he is the Minister at a neighborhood church in Washington Park.

IMG_7316

The name just kind of rolls off the tongue.

I picked him up at the office and the two of us drove two blocks over to a little house that lies across the street from the church where Pastor preaches.

This little house may be seen as just another house, but Pastor made it something better.

Over the course of time and ministry, Pastor Austin found that there was a need in the neighborhood for a place of refuge for people to hang out in safety, a place for families in crisis to come and get free groceries as they needed, as well as hot showers. His knowledge of the community and the needs they have stretches far beyond what you or I could ever imagine.

IMG_7258 (1)

So he did it.

He created a little space inside for people to relax, hang out, or get food if they were in crisis.

He created a relationship with the Montgomery Food Bank and began purchasing items from them to store in this space, making it more conducive to the needs and transportation of those living in the neighborhood.

There was a pool table, refrigerators, central heating/AC installed to keep fresh produce and shelves stacked FULL of food and necessities.

IMG_7245

Everyone in town was raving about the new food pantry that Pastor Austin started.

People within the community would come and serve their neighbors, Valiant Cross Academy spent time there in service weekly helping sort canned goods, and families in crisis were helped with grace and so much love.

But then… 

One night, a group of people came in and stole everything.

Y’all, I mean everything.

All the way down to the Heating/AC unit.

Pastor went by the next morning to check on things and the place had been emptied.

IMG_7263

Being the man that Pastor Austin is, he rolled up his sleeves and went to work rebuilding and reconstructing what was stolen.

Using his own money and resources to do the job became too much for him to handle on his own.

Pastor and I walked through the house looking at all that he has done in replenishing what was stolen but there are major needs left to make this place really shine.

Kindness came to the rescue when Tyler Vittitoe from Saint James United Methodist Church stopped by to tell Pastor Austin that their church wanted to partner with him to help minister to the community of Washington Park through this food pantry.

IMG_7255 (1)

Tyler gathered up a group to help donate the funds necessary to fix the roof of the house, the walls, and the central heating/AC unit (as well as a guard to keep it protected.^^ as noted above)

My two favorite fellas came by (in the blazinnnnnn Alabama heat) with their hard hats to check the foundation of the house and try to figure out some plans to level the floors and secure the house.

Y’all these two are pros. Southern Foundation Solutions for the WIN!

IMG_7325

We walked through the house and let Pastor show us the needs.

As he showed me around, I looked over to see a sweet mother from the community organizing the place and two young girls hanging out with one another and finding a haven at this house.

This place matters and makes a huge impact to the people who live in the community.

IMG_7278

Pastor looked at me and said “LauraBell, tell everyone you can! We want to make this place great for the community!”

So I am. 

IMG_7261 (1)

So much has been sacrificed in the process of making this place wonderful, but there is so much more left to be done.

Two full bathrooms need toilets, sinks, and showers.

The floors need to be redone with new tile.

The exterior of the house needs a little fixing with uneven sidewalks (easy to trip/stumble on).

The foundation of the house is in need of repair.

IMG_7262

We have a hope and desire to see people from the city come together to rebuild something really amazing.

Adopt a bathroom with your small group at church, help gather resources to provide a toilet, sink, and tub and help dozens of families in need.

Adopt a floor and donate tiles with your friends to create a living room space for a fun, safe place for people to gather together.

Adopt a sidewalk Bring a group together to fix the sidewalk of this home to make it easily accessible for those bringing boxes of goods through the door.

Collaborate with your family, friends, and church congregations to fund the new foundation on the house so that it stands strong and stands OUT in the community.

We need you.

This community needs you.

In a time where our world wants to divide, let’s work together!

Montgomery, Alabama, let’s extend a hand of help to a man who has refused to relent in loving this community.

When love collides with love, you don’t have to look any further to see Jesus.

If you have an interest in getting involved in helping this food pantry rebuild itself, please let me know! Comment below or contact me at Laura@CGMLife.org

Lose the Ingredients: thoughts on baking + life.

IMG_7169

I have found in recent weeks that I’ve struggled to find words to write or pictures to take.

I honestly couldn’t tell you why except that maybe perfectionism creeped into my system without me really knowing it.

I dipped out of writing stories or thoughts because in all honesty it seemed as if they weren’t “perfect”.

As weeks have flown by I have found that the more I have pursued this idea of getting everything perfect before approaching, the more chaotic life has felt.

Formulas for perfection can ultimately destroy every creative avenue that life could possibly offer.

So, yesterday, when feeling anxious and overwhelmed,

I decided to bake.

IMG_7136I took my favorite simple recipe and threw it together as fast as I could.

2 eggs.

1/2 cup of oil.

1 box of your favorite cake mix.

simple.

You won’t find the ingredients for cake batter cookies on the back of the box and quite frankly, I don’t remember when or where I learned this recipe, but it is absolute gold.

IMG_7148While mixing the ingredients together this phrase began to ring through my head

“lose the ingredients”

It replayed itself over and over until it had me thinking…

IMG_7152

Forget what the back of the box says, those instructions are complicated. 

If you are anything like me, you want to know a step by step of how something should go,

but I have found that when I chase after the step by step, I run into fear.

I stop pursuing what I love, I focus on the darkness and grief that has recently engulfed our nation, and I genuinely stop living a life that is full.

When fear is present, love is absent.

So when I fear that I am doing it all wrong, I stop loving myself enough to give anything a try.

If I am not careful, I could even start resenting the people who are pursuing it all.

IMG_7205While at lunch with a friend, she looked at me and said “Maybe you don’t need to keep seeking out all the answers to figure out what to do with your life… I think that you already know but don’t trust yourself enough to try.”

nail.on.head.
IMG_7169Lose the idea that you’re not doing it right and do what you know works in your life.

Maybe you are the only one who knows the ingredients for the best version of yourself.

So stop searching and start doing.

Life is too short for complicated instructions.

Lose the ingredients and bake some cookies.

Cake Batter Cookie Recipe: 

Ingredients

1 box of favorite cake batter

1/2 cup of oil

2 eggs

 instructions

mix ingredients, your mix should turn into a dough.

roll dough into balls and place on baking sheet.

bake at 350 for 8 minutes.

ENJOY! 

Faithful.

Last July my sweet husband and I were interviewed by the local paper about our coffee cart!

It was a simple little article, really sweet and to the point about what we do and when we would open for business.

Our friends shared the article, blessing us and hoping to promote our adventure…

Within a few days of the article being released, days before even opening for business, we got an email.

“Hi my name is Dolly, I am mutual friends with one of your friends in Nashville and I saw the article she shared of your business.  I was wondering if I could go ahead and book you for my wedding next June.”

IMG_3658How on earth are we already getting event requests…. Do we even do events??

We decided to calculate the costs, figure out travel fees, and find a time to meet Dolly and her soon-to-be for a tasting.

It was a hit! IMG_6311So we marked our calendars for June 18, 2016 and proceeded with our new business in town!

Sure enough, time has flown by  and we came upon June 18th faster than we realized.

We loaded the truck, booked an AirBnB and hit the road!

We got up early the next morning for this fabulous brunch wedding at The Ruby.

IMG_6300 IMG_6301

IMG_6287Let me tell y’all, Dolly was truly one of those brides that glowed. 

It was so sweet to see how joyful and emotional she was to finally marry Ty.

IMG_6302

#DollyTysTheKnotIMG_3662Everyone at this wedding was truly honored to be there, the bike made everyone ask the same question we always get “Can you actually ride this thing or… like… what?” we love telling people that we are hardcore and ride this thing around like it’s no big deal.

This fella was adorable and won me over in his bow tie + converse convo… #nashville.IMG_6281IMG_6283He was ready for his debut before I even took my camera out! What a man.

The lines of people wanting Cold Brew with their Chicken n Waffles was unbelievable… it felt like opening day of business all over again!

IMG_6274 IMG_6294I realized this past weekend, that the faithfulness of the Lord is not limited to my standards or understanding.

When we started our business, it was booming with lines for lots of coffee every day.

When winter months came, we had less business because of weather and transitioned our license to events only.

It was as if the Lord set it up before we realized it… with sweet Dolly & Ty.

We thought that selling coffee on the street would be our way of selling…

But the Lord knew more.

He loved us enough to partner with us before we knew we needed partnership.

Our business has been crazy blessed, a crazy adventure, and we hope the crazy never goes away.

God is crazy faithful, Y’all… somedays I’m humbled that He still picks me to love on and bless.

Dolly & Ty, it was a real treasure meeting you and watching you start a new life together, thank you for having us and asking us WAY in advance, congratulations to you both!