Operation Christmas Child

This morning, in place of teaching, we served kids all over the world by putting together 100 shoeboxes for Samaritan’s Purse.  Our focus this year was for older boys, adding a dodgeball and ball pump to their boxes.  However we didn’t forget the girls, who were given purses filled with lots of girly things.  So many hands being used to send the love of Jesus out, so that others may hear the wonderful message of how much they are loved, not only by Jesus, but by us as well.

We pray over the boxes and all the hands that will touch them along the way.  That doors and countries will be opened, to allow the boxes to come in and be shared with the kids.  We pray over the teachers who will be teaching these kids about Jesus as they go through their 12 week program to hear who Jesus is.  This is a year long journey and we are happy to be apart of it.

Thank you to everyone who helped today, and in the planning process!  It works so much better when we all work together to make a big impact.  We also want to give a big thanks to Blue Mountain Thrift Shop for being apart of our ministry.

 

 

A Spot

I recognize it’s been quite a while since I wrote. I’m trying to breathe and take a bit of time to quietly work through some things. You know, for months, I’ve been working towards a sermon (but, you know, before you can communicate something, it has to settle into your soul) that I was thinking would be helpful for others… Then, a few weeks ago, I was assaulted by this same message (everything I heard & saw, every conversation, soundbite, dream, EVERY THING) and I realize now that it is not only for others;) I’m going to start what has transmogrified from a single message into a series this Sunday, and we’ll see what we can see.  

Anyway.

I have this thought, for today. 

I like to lift weights, for a lot of reasons, but the most important has nothing to do with how much weight is on a bar or if my belt is smaller or my back is bigger or if I can win at arm-wrestling. They’re all sort of cool, but I go to they gym because life can be hard, and has a lot of walls built-in. We all, to some extent, fight these automatic, involuntary negative thoughts that attack any time we begin anything new, or are pushed farther than is comfortable. Who do you think you are? You can’t do whatever, you are just a whatever, you’ll never be more than whatever. Any time we try to choose a different path, and change course towards becoming a healthier person (in any area – relationships, work, destructive habits, etc. You understand), the lies start, the chains tighten, we lose focus and figure that, probably, today is just an extension of yesterday and what’s the use anyway? 

And I used to not be able to do 1 pull-up. I used to not be able to bench press the bar.

But now I can. And now, when I get scared of change, of becoming (I was going to write, ‘of failure,’ but Marianne Williamson writes, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frightens us,” and I think that’s pretty true. I’m not that afraid of failing, I’m more afraid of success. I’m not too afraid of being not enough, I’m much more afraid that what God says about me is true and what that would mean.) So, now, when I get scared, I think about the time I thought the weight would crush me. Only, it didn’t then, and it won’t now, and neither will this. Today wasn’t yesterday, who I was is not who I am. And I keep moving forward. 

One more thing about growth and the gym. Those times when I thought the bar would flatten me, I asked somebody for ‘a spot.’ This just means they would stand behind you and help you if you couldn’t do 1 (or 1 more.) They would encourage you when you didn’t want to, or didn’t think it was possible. When you couldn’t see the end, when all you could see was yesterday or the heavy weight in front of you. 

I know the cool, modern thing to say is that the local church is outdated and unnecessary, but I’m not so sure that’s true. Sometimes, I am overwhelmed with sadness, or rage, or loneliness, and I think it’s all hopeless, that the world is falling apart, my imagination is disappearing, and what’s the use anyway? It’s these times when I need a fresh word, a different perspective, another’s hands on the bar so I don’t get smushed. It’s those times when I need a spot. 

   

     

 

BIG CHANGE for Sunday!

Good morning everyone!
As you may have heard, the weather will be particularly terrible tomorrow, and that has caused the Cleona Park to cancel the Fall Fest (!!!), which means there will be no need to clean anything up. So, our Sunday morning will NOT be spent outside at the park, in the rainy cold, but WILL instead be spent at the Bridge, at regular time.
A reminder: we will be collecting any donated candy for a local Trunk or Treat Sunday morning – you can give anything you bring to me (I promise I’ll only eat a little;) and I’ll get it to Diane.
See you Sunday at 10:30am at the Bridge!
Love. Peace.

Integrity Check

This post that will mostly be from Elizabeth Gilbert, a lovely writer of deep, spiritual books that you’d really enjoy. 

But first, a little background: There is a guy who’s been nominated for the Supreme Court with baggage that has stirred up a giant storm of pain and anger and politics. I can’t help but to think the debate is (to probably misquote Shakespeare) “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing,” because I’m pretty sure the vote will go straight down party lines, just like it would’ve without the accusations, tears, investigations, or arguments.

Anyway, here is Elizabeth Gilbert’s Instagram post, called ‘Integrity Check”:

“Dear Ones: It’s Monday morning and the godawful news cycle is about to begin again. Before I start getting high off the crack pipe of outrage, I decided to do an integrity check on myself. It’s not fun or pretty, but here goes:

1) Did I give Bill Clinton a complete and total pass on being a lying skank about women, because he was my guy and I liked his politics? Answer: Yes. So can I really “not believe it” when others do the same, for the politicians and candidates they like?

2) What if the tables were turned, and Democrats controlled the House, the Senate, and the White House? What if my side had a chance to hastily shove a lifelong appointee on the Supreme Court who agreed with ALL MY BELIEFS—thus ensuring that for the next 30 years, every cause that I valued would be protected? Would I be tempted to overlook or excuse that candidate’s various character defects, lies, and crimes in order to secure this priceless seat on the Supreme Court? Answer: Probably yes. So can I really “not believe it” when others do the same?

3) Do I preach love and courage and peace and inclusion, but then use my social media platforms to spew rage and fear and panic and condemnation? Do I constantly use the language of war, with the delusion that this will somehow lead to peace? Answer: Yes. So can I really “not believe it”, when others do the same?

4) Do I claim to speak for all women, in a way that some women would find profoundly insulting? Do I make blanket proclamations about how “we women are angry,” or “we women will rise up and take our revenge” — ignoring the fact that literally millions of women have completely different beliefs from me? In claiming to speak for all women, do I therefore drive an even bigger wedge between those of us who identify as progressive feminists and those who do not? Answer: yes.

5) Do I spend my days being outraged and indignant at other people’s lack of integrity, and then forget to check my own? Answer: yes.

6) Can I be an activist and advocate, but still do the hard work of identifying my own blindspots, my own shortcomings, my own hate, and my own failures of grace? I sure hope so. Because I’m the only person I’m in charge of.”

Now, that is absolutely brilliant, because in times like this, we can get very self-righteous and the imaginary walls that separate us get thicker and higher and divisions get more pronounced. There are important issues at stake, that we are rightfully passionate about, but once the discourse goes from platform to platform instead of face to face, it’s no longer about the issue or the person, it’s about the letter that follows the politician’s name. She is an ‘R’ so she must be some sort of way, and he is a ‘D’ and we know what that means, right? We forget ‘they’ are people just like us… in fact, we often forget that we are people, with experiences and agendas and biases, and not completely objective robots with a exclusive handle on truth and common sense. We all have the capacity for boundless hypocrisy.

I think the answer is not to give up – you know I whole-heartedly reject “it is what it is” despair. We can, and should, and must, fight like crazy for the things we believe, vote for or against this guy, and settle for nothing less than honesty, integrity, respect, care for each other and shalom for all (even though we will regularly be disappointed.) But marginalizing each other in the service of our causes, reducing us to only our political affiliations, or a value or belief we hold, is simply too high of a cost.

It’s easy to hate a letter, or an elephant or donkey, or a race, nationality, or sex, but it’s really really hard to hate a person, because people are terrific. Sure, sometimes we’re mean and say and do terrible things, but we’re also soft and generous and warm and kind and honest and loyal and radiate the most beautiful energy. 

I would not minimize the importance of this appointment, I understand the consequences, but politicians aren’t the answer to the revolution – we are.