Sunday, December 26, 2010

Why Social Media?

I've seen many amazing things happen through the world of social media. I've seen amazing friendships created. I've seen people who have helped one another. I've seen people reach out to the hurting, the lonely and the marginalized. The blog post below from my friend John Beatty is another reason to be involved with social media. Click on the link below.

“Accepting Jesus Christ as my Savior

Video: My Christmas Day in Florida

Run for your lives. My gal pal Kristina gave me a Sony HD bloggie camera for Christmas. You know what that means? You'll be seeing truckloads of video clips on this blog from Mike "Spielberg" Ellis.

Christmas morning Kristina and I spent with my daughter Kiersten, my grandson's father Eric and my grandson Troy.

After our morning with Troy we stopped so that I could (guess what?) shoot some video of your ace travel reporter Mike "Discovery Channel" Ellis by the ocean in Flagler Beach, FL.

We saved the best for last Christmas day. Kristina and I along with many others served "the least of these" at the homeless shelter.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

You're Not A Failure

I'm going to be honest with you. I've been battling with feelings of failure. My second marriage ended this year. My son moved to WA state with his mom. I battle feelings of failure when I try to figure out how to be a father to a son that lives nearly 3,000 miles away. Even though I constantly battle against the tapes in my head that call me a failure, God is always there whispering and at times yelling to me, "Mike, you're not a failure!"

My homeless friend Norm invited me to a memorial service for homeless men and women who have died while living on the streets. After the service, Norm introduced me to someone by saying, "I'd like you to meet my dear friend Mike Ellis." It was hard not to cry when I realized that Norm considers me his friend.

After the memorial service, I went to an AA meeting. At this meeting I admitted that I'm an alcoholic and that I shouldn't drink anymore(I've been sober since Sunday). At the end of the meeting I walked up to receive my "surrender" chip. The man who handed it to me said,"Mike, you will win this war. Here is my phone number. Call me if you need help during the battle."

After the AA meeting and memorial service, my blogging and social media friend Michael Perkins called me to simply say, "Mike, I'm heading to the church for a prayer gathering. What can I pray about for you?" I shared a couple of things with Michael and then we cried together on the phone. Then he said, "Whenever you need me I'm here for you."

After years of doing a less than a lackluster job of being a father to my daughter, I'm getting a second chance. On Christmas morning I'll be with my daughter and my grandson. I sent my daughter a text last week. I thanked her for giving me a second chance at being her father. She sent me a text back that said, "You're the only father I have. Thanks for wanting to take a second chance at being my father. I love you."

As I write this post I don't feel like a failure. Why? Over and over again through the people He has placed in my life God tells me a different story.

If you're feeling like a failure God has a different story He'd like to share with you.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Guest Post: The Night Before Christmas

What can I say about the somewhat world famous KatDish that hasn't already been said by others? I describe her as "spicy", "salty" and "one of the women I would take into a bar fight". She makes me laugh with her "snort" and has touched my heart with her words. A couple of weeks ago I asked her to write a guest post on my blog. Eventually after some harassment and phone calls to some of her family, she sent me a post. I'm glad she did. Enjoy the guest post below from a talented blogger and one of my she-roes, KatDish.

Twas the night before Christmas and all thru the house

Not a creature was stirring not even a mouse

The shopping was done the bills had been paid

The guest list for tomorrow’s big feast had been made

The children were nestled all snug in their beds

While visions of ipods danced in their heads

But just miles away in my city I’m told

Is a man in an alley, desperate and cold

A part of me thinks he deserves what he got

He begs for the money for liquor and pot

But then I remember a time in my life

Before I had title of mother and wife

When days of good times and “casual use”

Turned into the nightmare of substance abuse

My attitude changed, I relent with a sigh

There but for the grace of God am I

I say a quick prayer and ask for forgiveness

For thinking these people are none of my business

I’ve labeled them homeless cause that fits my druthers

But they’re daughters and sons and sisters and brothers

Each has a story how they ended up there

And maybe they’d tell if I lent them my ear

All of these thoughts began flooding my head

As I pulled myself out of my comfortable bed

With coffee and blankets and family in tow

I drove through the streets till we got to Skid Row

We’re only one family we can’t help them all

Compared to their problems our efforts seem small

But I was determined at the very least

To have one extra guest at our Christmas day feast

Question: Would you or I be willing to change our plans to serve and love the people that Mother Teresa described as "Jesus in disguise"?

"The dying, the cripple, the mental, the unwanted, the unloved, they are Jesus in disguise." -- Mother Teresa

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Are We Serving His Target Audience?

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’-- Matthew 25:40

I worked in the world of radio promotions and marketing. If you wanted to stay at the top of the ratings heap you needed to know who your target audience was. For example, back in the old days, if you were an Adult Contemporary radio station your target audience was women 25-54. Every song you played, every contest and every event was designed to serve your target audience.

While Jesus walked this earth he had a target audience. Who were they? Thieves, murderers, prostitutes, adulterers, the sick, the crippled, the dying, the lame, the lonely, the hurting, the hopeless, the discouraged and those that had been kicked to the curb. Everything Jesus did was all about intentionally serving his target audience.

Are you and I serving, loving and reaching the target audience of Jesus?

“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’-- Matthew 25:45

The photos above were taken today at an event designed to serve "the least of these" organized and inspired by my pastors and friends Ray and Susan Kelley from the Daytona Outreach Center. Thanks to my friend Christie Hyde for taking photos today.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Who Does He Give To? He Doesn't Find Fault?

"...God gives freely to everyone. He doesn't find fault." from James 1:5

If I'm a Christ-follower I should do the same. Let me be a little more specific.

"Hello. My name is (Your name here). I'm a Christ-follower. I give freely to everyone. I never find fault with anyone."

Doing, not hearing, is what makes the difference.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Churches Truly Helping Hurting People

I have always been impressed with the work of Mark Horvath. He wrote a great article for the Huffington Post.

"..every single church, or temple, or bridge club, or bowling team can work together to support a rotating shelter. The Macomb County Rotating Emergency Shelter Team is a group of 90 churches that pool resources to help 60 homeless people get back on their feet. Some churches provide housing, some vans for transportation, some cool meals, and everyone wins. Like I said I visited twice. Both times the old church ladies in the back were having a blast. The smiles were endless. Although it was just a meal prepared and served, it was combined with a strategy to get people into housing and support services.

I urge you, no I beg you. If you're a faith based leader please look at what real effect you have on the community around you. If your tech or worship budget is higher then what you are putting back into the community you are off balance. And to be honest, the only churches that will see growth in the years to come are the ones that are truly helping the hurting people around them -- and not just their own members. Please start working with other organizations instead of being the Lone Ranger. And if the need is there, and I would bet that it is, please find a rotating shelter around you or start one.

Here is an interview with executive director, Rhonda Powell. We talk about the rotating shelter model and the current state of the economy. This is a very powerful interview with lots of information. Please watch and share."

See the complete article by clicking here.

For more information about Macomb County Rotating Emergency Shelter Team click here.

Follow Mark on Twitter by clicking here or at his blog by clicking here.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The secret of being content

I am not saying this because I am in need,
for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.
I know what it is to be in need,
and I know what it is to have plenty.
I have learned the secret of being content
in any and every situation,
whether well fed or hungry,
whether living in plenty or in want.
I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:11-13 NIV

From the blog of V.V. Denman

Saturday, December 4, 2010

It's Not Easy To Step Into Their World

It's easy to throw money at a problem. It's easy to donate used jackets to a ministry that gives away clothes to the less fortunate. It's easy to put a spoonful of potatoes and gravy on a plate before you hand it to a homeless person. It's not easy to step into their world.

The cold weather hit quickly in Daytona Beach, FL. For over 10 years, when it dips to 40 degrees or colder the good folks from First United Methodist Church in Port Orange, FL open their doors to the homeless. Homeless men and women are brought to the church, fed a delicious, homemade dinner and given a warm, safe place to sleep for the night.

I've been blessed to play a role in this ministry for the past several years. I've learned this while working with the homeless and those that have been kicked to the curb. It's easy to do the easiest thing. What do I mean? Donating money to a worthy cause that helps the less fortunate and not getting your hands dirty is easy. Putting a plate of food in front of a dirty, homeless man is easy. Stepping into their world is not easy. It's hard.

You know you've stepped into the world of the homeless when you find yourself sitting down with them, talking, asking them questions, looking into their eyes and truly listening to them. The photo below is an example. In this photo you'll see youth pastor Tony Sorrell. Where is he? He is wearing a green hoodie, sitting at the table, looking into their eyes, listening and talking to the homeless. Tony stepped into their world.

The other night one of my homeless friends walked up to me as I was getting ready to leave the shelter. I was hungry and wanted to go home. This is typically the time that God has different plans for me. He stood in front of me, looked me in the eyes and said, "Mike, my best friend died a couple of weeks ago. He died right next to me while we were sleeping at our campsite. It's really messed me up. Could you give me a hug?" I gave my friend a hug while he cried and didn't let him go until he stopped crying. When he stopped crying he wiped away the tears and said, "thank you." For just a few moments, I pray that I stepped into his world.

It's not easy stepping into the world of the homeless. Many times it extremely inconvenient. The next day, a few hours later or minutes later I'm always glad that I didn't take the easy way out.

"You live among the least of these:
The weary and the weak.
And it would be a tragedy
For me to turn away.
All my needs You have supplied,
When I was dead You gave me life.
How could I not give it away so freely?

-- Leeland, Follow You

Friday, November 26, 2010

Inviting Heaven to Earth

"With every action, comment or conversation we have the choice to invite Heaven or Hell to Earth." - Rob Bell

"We think that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty." - Mother Teresa

Yesterday was Thanksgiving. In many places across the country the poor and the homeless were served a complete Thanksgiving meal in churches, halls and soup kitchens. Yesterday I experienced a unique situation when homeless men were invited to Thanksgiving dinner in a home filled with love.

This unique Thanksgiving dinner started in the mind of my friend Christie. She thought it would be a great idea to organize a dinner for those that didn't have plans or family to spend Thanksgiving with. It wasn't long before I began thinking about some of my homeless friends and what they might be doing for Thanksgiving. Prior to any of this, my friends Russell and Dani Holloway had asked me to take care of their dogs and home while they were away in Berlin, Germany. Long story short, Russell and Dani not only let us do Thanksgiving in their home, they were also more than willing to let me invite my homeless friends to come over too.

One lives in a car. Others live in the woods. It didn't matter to my friends Kelly, Jeff, Jane, Kristina, Ron, Christie, Mike, Momma, Terri and Michael. For just a few hours these homeless men were people just like us. Just like us they enjoyed a meal, conversation, friendship and love. Everyone was smiling, eating, talking and laughing. Everyone sat in chairs, ate too much and then ate some more. Everyone took home leftovers, hugged each other and said good bye.

Yesterday for just a little while it was hard to tell who was homeless and who lived in a home. Yesterday for just a few hours it was great to see my friends bring Heaven to Earth.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

"F" Words at the Elton John concert


I've seen Elton John in concert two times. The first was over 14 years ago in Spokane, WA. I went to the show expecting Elton to do all of the rocking hits of my youth. He had another agenda. It was Elton and a piano. He spent most of the evening singing ballads. I spent most of the evening acting like a drunk bastard who yelled "Crocodile Rock" and "Bitch is Back" while friends and co-workers wondered when I would be thrown out of the show. I must have been terribly annoying to the woman behind me. She told me to "shut the F@#* up".

Last night was my second Elton John show. I'm proud to say that I wasn't blasted out of my mind and Elton was there to do nearly all of my favorite rocking hits. I discovered that when you're not drunk you can hear and experience other "F" words that are more positive, encouraging and healing.


During his latest tour, Elton was joined by aging musician and songwriter Leon Russell. The show began with Elton introducing his friend Leon. Elton described Leon as someone he looked up to and admired for many years. Elton's words of respect for his friend poured into the hearts and minds of the audience. Leon was given star status before he played a single note because of the words shared by his dedicated friend. Elton left the stage and let his friend shine in the limelight.

Before singing a song dedicated to his friend, Leon said this, "I thank Elton John for dragging me out of the ditch. I don't know too many people that would have done that." These words from Leon dripped with truth. I knew without a doubt that whatever ditch Leon was in Elton was there to drag him out.


It has been 20 years since young Ryan White died of AIDS. The photo above shows Elton and Ryan's mom with him in the hospital. During last night's show Elton discussed his relationship with Ryan and his family. Elton said, "Ryan and his family were the true definition of Christians because they forgave others." In a letter published on the 20th anniversary of Ryan's death, Elton wrote:

"I remember so well when we first met. A young boy with a terrible disease, you were the epitome of grace. When students, parents and teachers in your community shunned you, threatened you and expelled you from school, you responded not with words of hate but with understanding beyond your years."

Everyone including Elton John are drawn to living, breathing examples of true forgiveness. Yet when these stories are shared they seem so unique and rare. It made me think about what I'm doing to make forgiveness commonplace in my world.

"These cuts I have they need love to help them heal." -- Elton John

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Share the Love of Jesus with the Needy: December 18th

Looking for an opportunity to love the less fortunate during the Christmas season? See note below from my friends Ray and Susan Kelley at the Daytona Outreach Center.

"So lots of people have been asking what we are doing for the holidays...this year we are going to have one big event. It will Be December 18th in HollyLand Park in Holly Hill(FL). We will be giving away jeans, sweatshirts, hats and gloves along with tennis shoes and clean socks. Worship will go throughout the day with Ray bringing the Word just before a wonderful Holiday meal (Turkey with all the trimmings) all wrapped in the Love of Jesus!

There are many ways you can help so please contact Susan at or call the office at 386-255-2409. We have plenty of room for those who desire to share the Love of Jesus with the needy in our area.

Look forward to working side by side with you!"

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Last Time

The photo above means something. It represents the last time I went on a walk with my son in our neighborhood before he moved away.

The photo above also means something. It represents the last time I had lunch at school with my son before he moved away.

Last night my son left in a moving truck with his mom to the state of Washington. His mom and I are divorced. Both of our families and many dear friends live in Washington. My son will be surrounded with many people who will love and look out for him. I am thankful for that.

See the photo below. It was the last time that Devon and I carved a pumpkin together before he moved away.

The last walk. The last lunch. The last pumpkin carved. It all means something to me. Memories that will linger. Moments never taken away. These moments and memories make me miss him more today.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Video Message To Bullies: It Gets Worse

I am proud to say that I know Matt McKeown. Matt, his brothers and father have been a big part of repainting my Christian journey. Matt posted this brief video message on my Facebook wall. Please share this with others.

"Don't Take Anything Personally" (repost)

I have a hot and cold friend. One minute he can't wait to hang out with me. Sends me emails. Calls me. Then all of a sudden. No phone calls. No emails. No lunch invitations. I suddenly go from Rock Star to the Ugly Girl at The Dance. I literally rack my brain trying to figure out what I did or didn't do. I take what he does or doesn't do personally. I feel like such a fraud as I write this post. I take everything personally.

Have you heard about "The Four Agreements"? One of the 4 agreements is "Don't Take Anything Personally". Below I posted The Four Agreements along with scriptures and quotes. I pray that they are helpful to you. I need to read these at least once a day.

1. Be Impeccable With Your Word
Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

Matthew 5:37 (The Message)
"And don't say anything you don't mean. This counsel is embedded deep in our traditions. You only make things worse when you lay down a smoke screen of pious talk, saying, 'I'll pray for you,' and never doing it, or saying, 'God be with you,' and not meaning it. You don't make your words true by embellishing them with religious lace. In making your speech sound more religious, it becomes less true. Just say 'yes' and 'no.' When you manipulate words to get your own way, you go wrong.

“Words should be used as tools of communication and not as a substitute for action”

2. Don't Take Anything Personally
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering.

Acts 7:59-60 (New International Version)
While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." Then he fell on his knees and cried out, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." When he had said this, he fell asleep.

Matthew 18:21-22 (New International Version)
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times

Luke 23:34 (New International Version)
Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."[a] And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

QTIP: stands for Quit Taking It Personally.

3. Don't Make Assumptions
Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.


Mark 2:15-17 (New International Version)
While Jesus was having dinner at Levi's house, many tax collectors and "sinners" were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the "sinners" and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: "Why does he eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'?" On hearing this, Jesus said to them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

Luke 10:25-28 (The Message)
Just then a religion scholar stood up with a question to test Jesus. "Teacher, what do I need to do to get eternal life?" He answered, "What's written in God's Law? How do you interpret it?" He said, "That you love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence—and that you love your neighbor as well as you do yourself." "Good answer!" said Jesus. "Do it and you'll live."

“Assumptions are the termites of relationships.”

4. Always Do Your Best
Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.

2 Timothy 2:15 (New International Version)
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth

Colossians 3:23 (The Message)
Servants, do what you're told by your earthly masters. And don't just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best. Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident that you'll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance. Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you're serving is Christ. The sullen servant who does shoddy work will be held responsible. Being a follower of Jesus doesn't cover up bad work.

“Whatever you are, be a good one.” Abe Lincoln

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Back of Ray's Head

I love my friend and pastor Ray Kelley. Ray, his wife Susan and the Men of Faith ministry are on their second trip to Haiti since the devastating earthquake. I love how Ray and Susan do mission trips to Haiti. They don't want any plan except God's plan. They don't go to Haiti to fix buildings or dig wells. Ray, Susan and company go to Haiti to serve up love in extremely large doses and then share the rocking good news of Jesus Christ.

In the photo above you'll see the back of Ray's head. I'm not in Haiti but I know Ray. It might be the back of his head but I know that he is loving someone. It might be the back of Ray's head but I know that he is not judging anyone. It might be the back of his head but I know that Ray is sharing hope and encouragement with someone. It's the back of Ray's head but I know that he is making someone laugh or smile. If this person is sick Ray is praying for healing. If this person is hungry Ray is giving them something to eat. I can only see the back of Ray's head but I know that he is showing someone Jesus.

On Facebook, Ray's wife Susan said that things hadn't changed much since their last visit. I disagree with her. I guarantee that each time Ray, Susan and the Men of Faith leave Haiti minds, hearts and lives are changed forever.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Bullying Sucks

Andrew Marin wrote a commentary at Don't miss Andrew's words from this commentary:

"Each of the four teenagers who committed suicide in the last few months reached out at least once for help after being bullied - to no avail. News sources have reported that, whether to their parents, school administration or friends, none of these requests were taken as seriously as they should have been.

This one article and everyday people like you or me are not going to change the system. Fine. Then let the talking heads and gatekeepers keep doing the one thing they know how to do - politic. Meanwhile, it is up to you and me to start making a difference within this broken system and world we have been given. I want you, as I am, to go to your local middle school, high school, youth group, gay-straight alliance (GSA) or street corner, and get this message out:

Bullying needs to stop. We have a responsibility as children of God to strongly communicate a message that bullying, making fun of, or not including "the other" - especially in the case of sexual orientation - is wrong, unbiblical and it will not be tolerated. There is no room for such destructive patterns to occur under our watch. It is our time to set an example of who we are and what we believe. Our faith compels us to run towards the things that everyone else is running from."

Monday, October 11, 2010

One night. Two homeless men.

Saturday night while I was on Beach Street two of my homeless friends crossed my path. One was Jake. The other Kevin.

Kevin was walking with his bike. He saw me and said, "Mike, I sure miss you. It's been awhile. I just need four dollars and I'll be able to spend the night at the Sally (on the streets "Sally" means Salvation Army). Can you help me with a couple of bucks?" I learned from my friend Ray Kelley to never give the homeless money. I made another offer. "Kevin, how about if you put your bike in my truck, I'll drive you to the Sally and pay for your room?" Kevin seemed unhappy with me and stormed away.

After a few minutes I jumped in my truck and spotted Jake. Jake was sitting on a bench reading a book. I pulled over, parked the truck and walked towards Jake. I knew it was Jake by the gleam in his eye. But I didn't recognize the rest of his body. Cancer had ravaged his body. He was very skinny. I walked towards Jake and we hugged. I spent a few moments with Jake and listened to what he had to say. Before I left I asked Jake a question, "Do you need anything to eat?" Jake said, "I'd sure like a sandwich. I love those Burger King double stacks." I gave Jake another hug and drove off to get him a hamburger.

I came back to Beach street with two hamburgers. Jake was still sitting on the bench. He smiled when he saw the bag of burgers. He gladly took them out of my hand. "Jake, where will you be sleeping tonight?" I said. Jake said, "Somewhere, I'm not sure yet. Thanks for the burgers." I hugged Jake and told him I loved him. He hugged me real hard. I love hugging my homeless friends.

I found out where I can find Jake so I can check in on him. He needs a winter coat and a new tire for his bike.

What should you do if a homeless person crosses your path? The brief video below will help you.

5 Ways To Help from Los Angeles Mission on Vimeo.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Stop Bitching (Re-Post)

I am a whiner, complainer and grumbler. I whine, complain and grumble way too much.

I want more _____ . I want a bigger _______ . I want a smaller _______ . I want my friends to_________ .

I've got so many things to be thankful for. Instead I complain, whine and complain.

"Do everything without complaining....."----Philippians 2:14

Did you notice the word "everything"? The Word of God says that we should do everything without complaining.

Helen Keller was deaf-blind and mute. She could have spent tons of time complaining. Check out her quote below:

"Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn, whatever state I may be in, therein to be content." ---Helen Keller

I am going to ask myself the following question: "Mike, are you deaf-blind and mute? Then stop Bitching!"

Check out this extremely rare video of Helen Keller and her teacher Anne Sullivan. Listen to the last thing that Helen says in the clip. It will knock you out.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The So Far From Hip It Hurts Conference

I'm going to be 50 in January. I'm kind of lumpy in places (in a lot of places). My knees are starting to give out. I have selective hearing. I just started texting and I don't use hair gel. I would be less than honest if I didn't say that some of these Christian type conferences annoy me and seem a bit "too hip for the room". The last Christianese conference I went to was Promise Keepers just before it ran out of steam. Yes, even PK became lame.

Through the Twitternet I see numerous extremely hip conferences being chatted up and about. These conferences even produce hip #hashtags such as #StarBucksInTheLobby10 or #GoateesUnderTheTent2010 or #ItsReallyWineAndNotJuice. Okay, maybe I'm smoking crack but wouldn't it be interesting and maybe entertaining if there was an UnChristian Conference for those of us who are mildly or extremely unhip? A conference so unhip that it didn't have sessions. A conference so unhip that the official hotel was the Holiday Inn. A conference where the unofficial coffee was Folgers and not Starbucks. A conference where hair gel and scarves were discouraged. A conference where looking like you stepped out of a HillSong music video was not mandatory.

Okay, now I'm serious. I was talking to my blogging/social media chum Sarah Salter on the phone this evening (she is now very sorry that I have linked her name to this blog and especially this post) and shared this idea. Seriously, I would like to help organize the very first So Far From Hip That It Hurts conference. It will happen sometime in 2011. It should be held somewhere in the middle of these United States so that both the left and right side of the country can participate. Speaking of left and right, everyone is invited. Not just nutty Christians. Agnostics, Atheists, Straight, Gay, Theists, Liberals, Conservatives, Tea Party Peeps, Sinners, Saints, Black, Brown, Yellow, White and more are warmly welcomed (if I forgot a label, I'm sorry).

I have met so many terrific folks through blogging and social media I can't count them all on my 23 toes and fingers. I want to take this online thing offline. I'd like to meet as many of you as possible in person. Everyone who comes gets a free hug from me but don't let that discourage you from coming.

Wouldn't it be great to spend an entire weekend with me in the same hotel? In separate rooms of course.

I'm serious doggone it. Let's make this happen. The first annual So Far From Hip It Hurts conference coming to a Holiday Inn somewhere sometime in 2011.

Now it's up to you. Thoughts? What do you think? Crazy? Would ya? Could ya?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

What if every church was a "Love Shack"?

"The church should be the place where the incompetent, the unfinished, and even the unhealthy are welcome. I believe Jesus agrees."
-- Mike Yaconelli

What would happen if every church was truly a "Love Shack"? A place where broken, messed up people knew that they would come and get loved on. A place without judgment. A place where the dirt of life was truly welcomed and embraced. A place where it's okay to be truly transparent. A place where people with everything sat next to people with absolutely nothing. A place where healing happens. A place for people who have given up hope to find hope again.

There is something amazing about love. It's contagious. People are drawn to love. Love encourages. Love moves mountains. Love removes pain and hurt. Love transforms. Love brings life.

I love going to the Port Orange VFW for karaoke on Friday or Saturday night. The song I always like to sing is "Love Shack" by the B 52's. It's a song that I call a "dance floor filler". All it takes are the first few notes of the song and the dance floor fills to the brim.

Wouldn't it be great if there was so much love in our churches that people filled the dance floor? So contagious that they were drawn to it? So encouraging that people couldn't wait for the first few notes?

I'm not very objective but I've found a church like that. It's the Messy Church. I like going to the Saturday night service at 5pm. I've found my "Love Shack". Thank you God. Thank you Ray and Susan Kelley.

"The mess of our lives and our crippledness -- is what most qualifies us to be chosen by Jesus." -- Mike Yaconelli

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Hugging Men In Underwear

My friend and fellow tweep from Twitter @ChristieSays took this photo while she was at First United Methodist Church in Port Orange, FL. Her photo was the inspiration behind this post.

Hugging people we know is easy. It's easy to hug people that agree with us, look like us and act like us.

In church it's easy to hug the person you see every Sunday. It's safe. It's comfortable. But what about the single mother in the back row who has lost hope and can't pay the bills? What about the man who lost everything and came to church as a last resort? What about the drunk who came to seek comfort from people instead of his bottle? What about the man who is crying and considering suicide? Are you going to hug him? What about the man sitting in the corner by himself? Last night his wife discovered pornography on their computer. Are you going to hug him?

I love it when the church moves outside the walls to hug people that don't come to church on Sunday or any other day of the week. These amazing soldiers of God don't burn books or yell at strippers. Instead they take their hugs to the hurting, the lonely, the marginalized and the poor.

For the second year, various churches and ministries dropped any and all differences and brought hugs to Holly Hill, Florida. It warmed my heart to see the church doing what Jesus has asked us to do. These nutty Christ followers washed feet, cut hair, served food, gave away backpacks, passed out clothes and hugs.


One of my she-roes is Susan Kelley. She was at yesterday's event in Holly Hill. Susan hugs homeless, lost, dirty, stinky, drunk and depressed people everyday at the Daytona Outreach Center. It's easy to go to a homeless shelter and pass out food or free gifts during the holiday season. Susan and her husband Ray actually live with and love the homeless everyday. One of the men that live with them called Susan "mom" yesterday. Susan hugs me all of the time. She does hug like a "mom". In the photo below you'll see Susan doing what she does best: hugging messy people.

Susan and Eugenia

Yesterday while I was hanging out with Ray and Susan one of my homeless friends walked up to me. He looked me in the eye and softly said, "Mike, Jesus loves you and so do I." Then he hugged me. He smelled like urine, body odor and alcohol. It's strange. His hug made the smell go away.

The few, the proud and the brave are courageous enough to take hugs to the most controversial of places. Recently a group of Christ followers went to a Gay Pride parade. One of those zany Christ followers hugged a man in his underwear. See the photo below.

I looked for a quote to close this post. I thought this quote from Princess Diana was perfect.

“HIV does not make people dangerous to know, so you can shake their hands and give them a hug : Heaven knows they need it.”

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Barriers To Suicide

For some weird reason another blogger who is obviously not doing background checks asked me to guest post on his blog. See "Barriers To Suicide" by clicking here.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Just Four Words

My friend said these words to me in a Twitter direct message today. It was the end of the day. I was tired. Not feeling well. These words lightened my load. After I saw these word I felt different. I sat up straight in my chair. I smiled. I smiled big. My face hurt because I was smiling so much. I was still tired but I felt like I could take on entire army of naysayers. These four words gave me the strength to run up Hamburger Hill with a hollow log. These words filled me with confidence. I went from a 40 pound weakling to someone with the strength of ten men. I suddenly could defeat any foe. These four words changed my attitude. Someone believed in me. Someone cared for me. Someone knew I could do anything. My friend didn't spend money to give me these words. Don't get me wrong, these words were a gift. A beautiful gift. A gift that keeps giving. Some gifts break, fade and become out of date. These words are timeless, classic and are always the right size. These 4 words are so powerful that I felt compelled to share them with others. I drew them on a piece of paper and put it in front of my son while he was doing homework. He just walked in and said, "Dad, I'm almost done. Thanks for putting those words on paper. It meant a lot to me!"

Please give these four words to someone right now, today or tomorrow. Put them in an email. Make a call. Put them on a piece of paper. These four powerful words can change the course of a person's day, evening, week or lifetime.

"I'm Proud Of You!"

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Line Dancing With Lesbians

The world of Twitter and social media has brought so many things into my life including new friends. Today I asked my new friend from social media a question.

"What is the most adventurous, wild, risky thing you have done?", I said.

My friend said, "Friday night lesbians taught me how to line dance. We danced to the songs Highway to Hell, Ice Ice Baby, Love Shack and Mustang Sally."

"Have you line danced with lesbians before?", I asked.

She said, "First time line dancing. I've danced with lesbians before."

What is the most adventurous, wild, risky thing you have done?
For some of you line dancing with lesbians may not be on the top of your list. Let me give you some other suggestions. Helping or encouraging a complete stranger. Forgiving someone who hurt you. Calling someone you haven't heard from in ages. Asking someone to forgive you. Saying you're sorry. Hanging out with people that don't look like you, act like you or believe in the same things that you do. Doing something for someone and not expecting anything in return. Hugging a homeless person. Loving a prostitute. Helping a single mom who is at the end of her rope. Doing more than dreaming by finally putting a dream in motion.

At the end of our day my friend and I were walking towards the parking lot. A young girl about 12 or so asked us if we'd like a sample of popcorn. She told us that her mom and dad just started a popcorn store. "Would you like to come inside?", the little girl said. If that little girl was risky enough to ask, I was going to step inside. My friend and I walked in. We sampled some great tasting flavored popcorn, talked to the owners and bought a bag. As we walked away my friend said, "Isn't that cool that someone has a dream to start a popcorn store and then does it." Yes, mom and dad took a risk and made their dream come true. Think about this though. Our visit to the popcorn store started with a brave 12 year old girl taking a risk by inviting us inside.

What is the most adventurous, wild, risky thing you have done? What are you waiting for?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Message for Misfits and Screwups

"The mess of our lives and our crippledness is what most qualifies us to be chosen by Jesus." -- Mike Yaconelli

I have seen the hand of God through the acts of friends and family several times over the past few weeks. Michael Perkins is a great man I met through the world of Twitter. A few days ago Michael sent me a direct message. It said, "Mike, I'm sending you a book." The book arrived in the mail and the title got my attention immediately: "Messy Spirituality". It was written by Michael Yaconelli. After the book was originally published Yaconelli died in in a car accident. After his death the book was published as a paperback. His wife Karla wrote the forward.

At the end of the foreword Karla knocks it out of the park by setting the stage for the pages and chapters that follow:

"God actually had a fondness - a downright preference, if you will - for misfits and screwups.

I know if my beloved husband could say anything to those of you who are reading these words and who are about to embark on the adventure of reading this book, it would be this:

Take heart, my friends. You are in good company. You, with all of your faults and imperfections; you, with your defects and failures; you, with your hang-ups and emotional scars; you, with your weaknesses and your defeats; you, with all of your blunders, brokenness, and floundering: you are God's beloved, God's favored, the disciple whose name God calls, the one Jesus prefers to hang with, eat with, play with, talk with, cry with, and laugh with. You are the one whom the holy God of heaven and earth longs to spend time with. You are all of this and more. You always have been. Any you always will be.
-- Karla Yaconelli

The words in this book gave great comfort to me. No matter how much I've screwed up and made a mess of my life Jesus is attracted to me. Guess what? Jesus likes your mess too. As a matter of fact, He prefers you to be messy.

"According to the Bible, Jesus is attracted to the unattractive. He prefers the lost ones over the found ones, the losers over the winners, the broken instead of the whole, the messy instead of the unmessy, the crippled instead of the noncrippled."
-- Mike Yaconelli

Saturday, August 21, 2010

My visit with a prostitute

I met Jo Lynn through my friends Ray and Susan Kelley. Ray and Susan are the amazing Christ followers behind The Daytona Outreach Center and the Messy Church. The first time I met Jo Lynn was when she became a part of The Daytona Outreach Center. See the YouTube clip below. At about 3:20 you'll see Jo Lynn tell her story of addiction and prostitution. At about 4:47 you'll see my friend Ray Kelley baptizing Jo Lynn after she accepted Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior.

(I invite you to watch the entire clip. It's a great way to see what God is doing through Ray and Susan Kelley.)

Unfortunately Jo Lynn didn't stay with The Daytona Outreach Center. She went back to the streets and her former life of prostitution and addiction. Today I was driving home and I saw Jo Lynn. I drove past her and felt compelled to turn around and find her. I found her sitting on a street corner. The Jo Lynn you see in the video was not the Jo Lynn I saw today. Today she was extremely skinny, she was wearing a bikini, her hair was a mess and her eyes looked horrible. As I walked up to her she looked at me as if I was one of her "dates" and then she realized who I was. "Mike, I hope you're not here to preach to me," she said. I said, "Jo Lynn I'm here to tell you that you are loved and valued." I can't describe the look on her face at that very moment. Her eyes filled with tears and she said, "Mike, you don't want to get high with me and have sex? You don't want anything from me?" I said again, "Jo Lynn I am here today to tell you that you are loved and valued." She said, "Everybody wants something from me and as long as they have money I'll give it to them." Then Jo Lynn and I simply sat and talked. As I was getting ready to leave I asked her if she needed anything. "I could use a cup of ice", she said. I drove Jo Lynn to the nearby convenience store and got her a cup of ice. Before I got in my truck I told her again, "Jo Lynn you are loved and valued." She gave me the biggest hug. It was a hug that nearly split me in two and I thought she was never going to stop. I made a promise to Jo Lynn today. Every time I see her I am going to stop and tell her that she is loved and valued.

"Some, including myself, would call Jo Lynn a prostitute and an addict but I like calling her my friend."

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Early Stages of Divorce

I've experienced a variety of things during the early stages of divorce. Here are a few of them:

It’s weird for other people too.
Yes, I am going through the process of divorce but so are others. My wife, son, daughter, our family and friends are dealing with our divorce. It’s interesting to see how family and friends are responding. Some have reached out to me via email. Others have picked up the phone. Some have remained silent. Family and friends subliminally pick sides. Friends that talked to me before aren't talking to me anymore. My wife’s family has not reached out to me since we made our divorce public. I'm not sure if and how my family has reached out to my wife so I can't speak to that. During the divorce process you learn who your real friends are.

(If you're a family member or friend who has not reached out and you are reading this, it's okay. I understand how weird this must be for you.)

Bad Brings Good
Prior to the divorce I had a pretty crappy, non-existent relationship with my daughter. When my daughter found out she called and comforted me. She invited me to my grandson's first birthday party. My daughter and I have been talking several times a week. I've never talked this much to my sister and brother. They've been checking in on me almost daily. My sister is flying me up to North Carolina at the end of October for a visit. I've renewed my friendship with Ray and Susan Kelley. I'm so thankful for that.

Church and Couples

So many people knew my wife and I as a couple. We don't get together with those people anymore. The weekly bible study. Going out to dinner. Being invited over to their homes. My friend Russell still invites me to the weekly bible study at his house. I'm not going. It's nothing personal. Hanging out with other married couples doesn't feel good right now.

So many people knew us as a couple at church too. I'm not going to church on Sunday. I've talked to my pastor about this. Church seems weird right now. When you're in the process of divorce where do you sit? 3 seats away from your wife? In the other section? I've been going to the Messy Church on Saturday nights and have really enjoyed it. My friends Ray and Susan Kelley are the pastors.

Act Like Nothing is Going On
This is the suggestion part of this post. When you know someone that is going through divorce, death or tragedy and you know about it, don't act like nothing is going on. Don't run into them and talk about the weather. Don't see them in church and walk past them. Don't ignore them. Don't be silent. Please reach out to them. Tell them you love them and that you are there for them. Your silence and distance hurts. Earlier this week a friend of mine found out about the divorce by reading this blog. She called me on the phone, said she was sorry and started to cry. I'll always remember that. I'm thankful for my friends Russell, Michael, Richard, Elaine, Jane, Dana, Christie, Christine and Jennifer. They tweet, chat, email or call me almost everyday to ask how I am doing. I've also been blow away by so many of my friends from Twitter. I've lost count of how many of them have reached out to me when I needed it the most. As I was going to bed the other night I checked the email on my phone and found a note from my cousin Tracy:

"Hi there, cousin! I just wanted to let you know tonight, that you've been on my heart the past couple of weeks, and I thought it was important that I share that with you. I don't know any details of your situation, but I somehow stumbled upon your blog and was brought to tears reading about some of your struggles. I know it sounds cliche and you are probably hearing the same thing from a hundred different people...but, for what it's worth, I am praying for you, Mike, and I love you dearly."

With God's help all of us we'll get through this messy thing called divorce.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

...We're still too full of ourselves

I have always admired my friend @KatDish. She like so many others have reached out to me in my darkest hours. She left the comment below in response to one of my recent blog posts.

My friend and pastor wrote a series of posts entitled "Full". In part one, he talked about the "God-shaped hole" concept we often use to describe our tendency to fill ourselves up with everything except for God. I found his research interesting:

"What is it then that this desire and this inability proclaim to us, but that there was once in man a true happiness of which there now remain to him only the mark and empty trace, which he in vain tries to fill from all his surroundings, seeking from things absent the help he does not obtain in things present? But these are all inadequate, because the infinite abyss can only be filled by an infinite and immutable object,that is to say, only by God Himself."

-Blaise Pascal - The Pensées
#425, Section VII. From "Morality and Doctrine"

Unless I'm mistaken, this is the actual passage that has been reduced to "Everybody has a God-shaped hole in their life." Even if it's not, I'm glad I found it, because this statement more accurately describes the kind of longing that I have known. I know without a doubt that the absence of God in my life would not produce a "God-shaped hole." Instead, it would leave me with a massive, gaping wound from which the entirety of myself as I know it would be drained. Without God I would be empty.

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I (Jesus) have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." - John 10:10

So why is it then, that someone can be a Christ-follower and agree that they would be empty without God, but also have to admit that they don't exactly feel full with Him?

Maybe we don't feel "full" of God because we're still too full of ourselves.

You'll find more of the great KatDish at her blog.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Take A Load Off

This morning after coffee at Denny's, a man I respect walked out to the parking lot with me. His name is Richard.

Richard asked me a question. He said, "Mike, I know you are going through a bunch of stuff right now. Are you figuring anything out about yourself?"

I said, "Richard, I have horrible self esteem issues. I feel like I have a hole in the middle of me. For years I have been filling that hole with all of the wrong things. Food, alcohol, legal drugs, work, ministry, people's approval, just about anything I can cram into my hole. It might fill the hole for a moment, a day or a few months but the hole returns." I continued, "Yes, I know what those crazy Christ followers will say. Fill it with Jesus Mike. Fill it with Jesus. That sounds good but I'm not there yet. Richard, I want to sincerely learn that I can fill that hole in the middle of me with Jesus."

Richard looked at me with tears in his eyes. He said, "Mike, first of all you'll never believe how much you and I struggle with the same issues. But most of all I can't believe what you just said. I've known you for awhile and I'm concerned about you. I knew I had to share my heart with you. You said exactly the same stuff I was going to share with you. God had you open up and share it with me instead. I know it sounds weird but you just took a load off my shoulders. You did that by being honest and open with me."

Richard hugged me and wiped his eyes. We both got into our cars and drove away.

Honesty + Transparency = a load off of you and possibly someone else.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Did You Believe That I Loved You?

My friend @katdish sent me the following tweet and the video below:

"Good thing it's not about being good, it's about being loved in our brokenness."

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."

Sunday, August 8, 2010

What if Kimberly came to your church?

I've been digging Netflix. Why? I love documentaries and Netflix is rocking a truckload of of them. Here is one I suggest you watch. It's called "Prodigal Sons". See the movie trailer below.

After the gender switch and several years away from her home town, the movie begins with Kimberly making a decision to go to her class reunion. Her former classmates accept Kimberly, her girlfriend and the decision she has made.

What if Kimberly came to your church? Would you accept, welcome and love her?

I remember a sad story told to me and others during a Christian retreat. A person changed their gender from a man to a woman. Several years after making the gender change this person became a Christian and was led to find a church community. Why was this a sad story? It was extremely difficult for this person to find a church that would accept someone who has changed their gender. The story ended the same way it started. A person without a church community.

What if Kimberly came to your church? Could she play in the worship band? Could she lead a Bible study? Would she come one Sunday and never come back again?

What if Kimberly came to your church?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Don't Hide Your Story

“The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” -- Nelson Mandela

I've done my share of moping and feeling sorry for myself the past several weeks. I'm pretty sure that I'm officially ready to move forward, dust myself off and stop doing stupid stuff. My friend Fatha Frank posted stories about men who lost everything and didn't give up. The post lead me to do some YouTube video research about the song "It Is Well With My Soul".

At the beginning of the video below you'll see a quote from Helen Keller:

"The world is full of suffering. It is also full of overcoming it."

Helen Keller was deaf and blind. She didn't give up. The man behind the song "It Is Well With My Soul" didn't give up after losing his fortune and his family. I am going through the process of divorce. It inspires me when I hear about others who have gone through hell and never gave up. One of my co-workers is going through marriage separation after he found out his wife was having an affair. I've been silent about my divorce at work. That changed yesterday when I took my suffering co-worker aside and told him about what I am going through. His mood lifted. His eyes brightened. His burden was lightened. He appreciated knowing that he wasn't the only one going through marriage struggles.

Don't hide your story. Your dirty, messy, ugly story will inspire others. It will also help others to feel like they aren't alone.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Tweets From Max

Max Lucado is on Twitter. These are a few of my favorite tweets from Max.

Since you are God's idea, you are a good idea.

God loves you simply because he has chosen to do so.

It's against God's nature to remember forgiven sins.

God makes healthy what is sick, right what is wrong, straight what is crooked.

Our God is no fair-weather Father. You can count on him to be in your corner no matter how you perform.

God's faithfulness has never depended on the faithfulness of his children. He is faithful even when we are not.

God believes in u enough 2 call u his ambassador, his follower, even his child. Why not take his cue & believe in yourself?

God's grace is older than your sin and greater than your sin.

He could have lived over us or away from us. But he didn't. He lived among us.

For all the things God does, there is one he refuses to do. He refuses to keep a list of my wrongs.

When all of earth turns against you, all of heaven turns toward you.

God takes you however he finds you. No need to clean up or climb up. Just look up.

God hasn't given up on you. He hasn't turned away. He believes in you.

You may go days without thinking of God, but there's never a moment when he's not thinking of you.

If you're looking for a place with no change, try a soda machine. With life comes change.

A little rain can straighten a flower stem. A little love can change a life.

Want to worry less? Then pray more. Rather than look forward in fear, look upward in faith.

God will not let you go. He has handcuffed himself to you in love. And he owns the only key.

I'm Thankful Today

Today I am thankful. I am thankful that Jenn and Lou invited me over to their home. I am thankful that Lou made me eggs and sausage for dinner. I am thankful that I didn't stop at a bar on the way home. I am thankful that my brother and my sister called me. I am thankful that I will be going to my grandson's first birthday party.

My brother said something to me in a text yesterday. He said,"Mike, remember what made each day good." Today I'm going to remember all of the things I am thankful for. There is another thing I am thankful for today. My son is coming home Sunday. I am thankful for this great picture of him.

What are you thankful for? What made yesterday good? What made today good?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Lonely is a freedom that breathes easy and weightless.

Society is afraid of alone.

Lonely is healing if you make it.

I've been feeling alone and lonely lately. It just got worse. I just found out where Becky and my son will be living after they leave Florida and move to Washington state in a few months. It hurts a little bit more when I found out that she'll be living with the couple that introduced us to each other almost 14 years ago. I'm going to need to get use to being alone. I know what you Christ followers are saying, "Mike, you're never alone. God is always with you!" I know. I know. But tonight I feel alone. This is one of those moments where I can easily do something stupid because it hurts too much to deal with reality. Please God help me deal with being alone and heal my heart. Don't worry. I won't do anything stupid tonight.

Funny how God works. Just moments ago he led me to a video at the Flower Dust blog. It's another way that God reaches out to me and tells me it's going to be okay. See the video below from a really cool chick named Jamie. The video below is about learning to be alone.

Alone is okay.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Hopeless Causes

Look closely at the photo below. It's a photo of me and three of my friends. It's a picture of what some would say are "hopeless causes".

Let me introduce you to a whole row of "hopeless causes". On the left is Sasha. I don't know all of Sasha's story but I knew her when she lived on the streets. I remember seeing her struggle and fight to survive. I'm the other "hopeless cause" in black standing next to Sasha. More about me later. Standing next to me in the sunglasses is my friend Jewels. I met Jewels for the very first time at a cold weather shelter at my church. He was homeless, hungry and he looked pretty hopeless. Freddy is in the white t-shirt. I met Freddy on the same night and the same place I met Jewels. Both homeless, hungry and some would say "hopeless causes". I guess I'd better share something about the other "hopeless cause" in the photo. That's me. The tall dude in black. I just found out a couple of weeks ago that my wife wants a divorce. There have been many times over the past couple of weeks where I have felt like a "hopeless cause". But I've have had many people tell me that my situation is not hopeless. Two of the people that have loved and encouraged me are Ray and Susan Kelley. I am sure that more than once Ray and Susan we're called "hopeless causes". They were hard core addicts. But God didn't give up on them. God used others to reach out to Ray and Susan and gave them hope. Ray and Susan share that hope with others everyday at the Daytona Outreach Center in downtown Daytona Beach, Florida. The Kelley's shared that hope with Sasha, Jewels and Freddy. Ray and Susan welcomed my homeless friends to be a part of their ministry.

Tonight after work I drove down to the Daytona Outreach Center. I saw my friends Sasha, Freddy and Jewels. Sasha and Jewels were greeting homeless men and women and inviting them to sit down for dinner. Freddy was standing behind the table serving dinner. 3 former "hopeless causes" serving others hope. Then Sasha, Freddy and Jewels served me hope and it didn't come on a plate. It came as a smile, a huge hug and a kiss. Tonight God used Sasha, Jewels and Freddy to give me hope. Hope comes from the strangest situations and from the most unlikely people.

Thank you Ray, Susan, Sasha, Freddy and Jewels for reminding of the hope we all have in Jesus Christ. Thank you God for using your people to help me feel like I'm not a "hopeless cause" and that there truly is hope.

"God will not let you go. He has handcuffed himself to you in love. And he owns the only key." -Max Lucado (Thank you Sarah)

You can find out more about the Daytona Outreach Center and the Messy Church by clicking here. The YouTube clips below will tell you Ray and Susan's story along with the hope they are sharing with others through the Daytona Outreach Center.