How Do We Know That God Has Got Us?

Chris BradfordToday we all said goodbye to an awesome man, Chris Bradford.

He was a loving husband, caring and supportive son, and a pioneer among men advocating for victims of intimate partner violence.

I met Chris in July of 2008 when he showed up at a Domestic Violence Speakers Bureau training I was conducting.  He was hungry to learn and had an overflowing passion to support survivors and victims of emotional, verbal and physical abuse.

Chris was one of only a handful of men that showed up and participated whole heartedly in an effort to engage other men in turning the tide of violence against women and girls.

He had courage and determination to make a difference. And he did.  He leaves a legacy and he clearly touched many lives in his short time with us.

The primary challenge for me today is realizing that even being a champion for others, as Chris was, we also have our own struggles. We can advocate and participate in rallies and gain accreditation, but we are alone with our own internal battles to fight.

Chris, at 42, was apparently so consumed in his own fight that he decided he couldn’t win. He forgot for a moment how awesome he was. It is with a heavy heart to say… Chris took his own life. How? We don’t know. It isn’t important.

What is important is we all (especially men) need to learn how to ask for help.

I keep asking myself how I missed the signs that Chris was struggling. We talked at length about how to help men change their behavior, but we never asked each other how we were doing ourselves.

Chris knew how much I appreciated his help, his support and his courage, but I never told him I loved him. And I do love Chris. He is my brother in Christ and I look forward to seeing him again in heaven.

Yes. Chris was a Believer. But like all of us (believer or not) we can become isolated  which is exactly what the enemy wants. His goal is to steal, kill and destroy us.  For me, this is even more reason why we need each other.

Chris didn’t ask for help from anyone that we know of.  Maybe he struggled like every one of us thinking, “I’m a man. I don’t need help.” Maybe he felt he had his life under control and the enemy caught him at a weak moment.

The bottom line is this. We need to be willing to ask for help and we have to be willing to really dig in to get to know our brothers (and sisters).

Every man (and women) has a story.  We live together. We work together. We have church and Bible study together. But do we really know what each other is dealing with when we are left alone?

Whether we are believers in a risen Savior or not, many of us have experienced the enemy’s tactics; making us feel weak, insignificant and alone. This is why it is so important to realize that we are here to help each other.

In the beginning, God created man so He (our Creator) could be in relationship with us. He loves us completely.  He did not design us to be alone, but to love and support one another.

So today I say to each and every one of my family members, my friends, and especially my wife (who I do not tell enough), I love you.

We all need the reminder that we are loved.  Especially on a day like today.

I love how Chris’ wife Dana shared how God showed her His love in the following post a few days after he died.

Yesterday after seeing Chris for the last time, I returned home just before a big thunderstorm. Within 5 minutes of me entering our home, the rain began. My home was full of guests bringing me and my family love and support. I stepped outside on our deck and let God cry on me. I lifted my face and arms to heaven and let Him wash over me. It’s not often that it downpours (this) heavily with rain and thunder and the sun shining (all) at the same time. God and I wept together and I was the most drenched by His tears. (As I stepped back indoors) I was told my face looked different and that was because I was kissed by God and covered in His tears. I stepped back into the rain (for more).

God does love us so much and He does cry with us now as we say goodbye to Chris.

I choose to believe that our God is so awesome that He is now holding Chris. Reminding Chris how awesome he is in God’s eyes.

Going forward let us remember Chris for his pioneer spirit and his awesome heart for others. Chris always put our needs before his own.

Let us also keep Dana and Chris’ family in our daily prayers and consider helping Dana pay for today’s awesome service with a donation to the Fundraiser for Dana Bradford.

How do we know that God has got us? He shows us by revealing His love for each and every one of us… through… each and every one of us.

Chris said it perfectly when he said goodbye. “Be awesome to each other.”

Be awesome to each other

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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

 

coffee.jpg

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.

DV Fatality Review Team presents their fourth report

The Mecklenburg County Domestic Violence Fatality Prevention and Protection Review Team (DVFRT) presented their fourth annual report entitled “Until Death Do Us Part” to the Board of County Commissioners in Mecklenburg County (Charlotte, NC) on Tuesday night.

DVFRT report at BOCC 100714District Court Judge Ron Chapman, who is the current Vice-Chair with the help of Helen Lipman, DVFRT Liaison presented the report at the Board of County Commissioners’ Meeting in the Chamber of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center.

North Carolina legislation created the DVFRT on June 1, 2009 as a pilot project in Mecklenburg County. The legislation provides the needed legal protection to make it easier for agencies to share case information in a full review. The DVFRT has reviewed 16 dv-related homicide cases since that time.

Community Support Services, a Mecklenburg County department that includes the Women’s Commission, is the lead agency for the effort.

The DVFRT report has four themes including; access to firearms, behavioral health issues, exposure of children and youth to domestic violence, and systems integration.

The report includes a number of recommendations including expanded trainings for police and probation officers, as well as judges, in regards to access to firearms. In 10 of the 16 cases reviewed a firearm was the killers’ weapon of choice. In 7 of those 10 cases the firearms were obtained illegally.

The DVFRT, in concert with the DV Community Leadership Team, also recommends that a pilot multi-disciplinary team be developed to actively monitor selected repeat violent DV offenders to reduce repeat incidents. Similar initiatives have shown positive results in other North Carolina communities, including the City of High Point.

DVFRT report at BOCC 100714 HelenA number of accomplishments are also noted such as the Supervised Visitation & Safe Exchange Center opening later this year, which was a priority identified by the DV Community Leadership Team for 2014-16. This facility and program will provide a safe environment for victims and children when child custody comes into play in abusive relationships.

The entire DVFRT 2014 Report is now available online.

For more information on the effects of domestic violence in our community, call the Mecklenburg County Community Support Services Women’s Commission at 704-336-3210 or Safe Alliance’s 24-hour DV Hotline at (704) 332-2513.

If you find yourself in an abusive relationship outside of Mecklenburg County, please call the National DV Hotline at 800-799-SAFE (7233). They will help you get connected with a shelter, programs and services in your community.