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MawMaw Sandwich

MawMawsandwich

This evening being alone at the house, I decided to fix me a “MawMaw Sandwich.” I call it that because it’s what my grandmother would fix on Sunday evenings. If you stopped in for a visit, she would insist on assembling you a sandwich too, even if you weren’t that hungry. It consisted of toast, fried bologna, cheese, and tomato. Tonight, I added scrambled egg on mine to give it some extra oomph. I lived with my grandparents for a few years when I was in college and having this simple meal with them was a highlight of my Sundays.

My grandparents are gone now, but those memories linger. They were so hospitable and kind, if we had friends with us, they’d extend a sandwich to them as well. We’d sit together, talk, watch tv and enjoy the pleasure of a simple sandwich. It’s those small things that you remember when time passes. I miss those times. I miss them.

My grandparents taught me many things. They taught me to look out for others. They taught me to keep God first. They taught me that God’s love never fails. They taught me the importance of prayer. They taught me that church is important because we need each other….we need community. Nowadays, we have so many ways to communicate. But, my heart longs for old fashioned communication. My heart longs for breaking bread with others. My heart longs for knowing people more, hearing what they struggle with and really listening to them. I’m guilty of being selfish though. I get tired, come home, connect to the internet, and disconnect from those closest to me. I don’t want to keep doing that. It’s time for me to reconnect to the simple things instead.

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My Christmas List of Favorite Christmas Songs

I personally don’t start listening to Christmas music until the holiday is right upon us.  There are a few songs that are my favorite, so I thought I’d list my top five, hope you enjoy them as well.

#5  Little Drummer Boy – Bob Segar

I love the soul that Bob Segar adds to this song and have always liked this song.  When I hear this song, I am reminded of the excitement I’d feel watching the Claymation Christmas special of The Little Drummer Boy, along with all the other cheesy Claymation specials.

#4 Do They Know It’s Christmas – Band Aid

I love this song because it reminds me that they world outside of my own are in need of way more than I am.

“There’s a world outside your window And it’s a world of dread and fear
Where the only water flowing is the bitter sting of tears”

#3 Away in a Manger

This was one of my favorite songs to sing as a kid because I actually knew all the lyrics, I had to memorize them for a Christmas special one year in church.

“Be near me Lord Jesus, I ask thee to stay, close by forever and love thee I pray.”

#2 Silver Bells – Andy Williams

Every time I hear this song, it reminds me of shopping downtown with my Mom and grandmother.  The city was busy with bundled up people going in and out of buildings, the stores were decorated with all the holiday flare, and the Christmas lights downtown shined upon the streets. I remember it being a time of excitement and people seemed genuinely cheerful and excited themselves.  This was a time when the holiday didn’t seem as commercialized as it is now.

#1 The First Noel – Bing Crosby

I loved hearing this song on the radio, Bing is the best one to sing it ever.  This has always been my favorite.

 
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Posted by on December 20, 2014 in Lists

 

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Teen Scavenger Hunt Finds Kindness Goes a Long Ways

This past weekend, I planned a scavenger hunt for the youth group. The teens had a lot of fun and worked great with their teammates. We had four groups of teams and I had four sections of points for the scavenger list. The first set were pretty simple stunts for five points like running a lap on a track, put away a stray shopping cart, or writing their names on a busy sidewalk. The second set was group photo pictures in various places for ten points each. The third section were riddles to locate different places in town and the surrounding areas, they were fifteen points each. Then lastly was the 20 point stunts, these were the stunts that were intended to get the teens out of their comfort zones. These stunts included things like folding clothes for a stranger at a laundry mat, giving a bouquet of flowers to someone and telling them Jesus loves them, pumping gas for a stranger at a gas station, or visiting someone in a nursing home or hospital.

Each team had a driver who would take them wherever they requested to find their clue, get supplies, or do their stunts. The driver couldn’t suggest anything or give answers to the riddles. The driver was only allowed to drive the team, take pictures of the team for group photos, and make sure they did whatever they checked off their list. I was one of the drivers. My team consisted of two girls and two boys. They did great in planning where to go first, what to do, and what all they needed along the way. One girl automatically took the role of the leader and asked the other teammates if her suggestions were ok with them. They agreed and threw in input whenever they thought of something themselves. The first place the group went was a park, there they did several of the group photos and then they decided to go to Walmart to get supplies for their tasks. I took them to Walmart, when we got there they started putting away stray carts. They put away a ton of them, one of the teens gathered so much; he looked like an employee without the electronic push/pull cart. After that they went inside and got a box of peeps for a group photo, a chocolate bunny to give to someone, and a notepad to write notes of encouragement to stick on a bathroom door stall. After they paid, they wrote their notes and placed them where the list said to. They did several different group photos afterwards and then decided to head to the nursing home. They planned to give the chocolate bunny to an elderly person there. Once we got there, the leader of the group went to a nurse that was standing in the foyer to let her know what we were doing. The nurse asked if we just wanted any random person. The group told her yes. When we came in, I noticed an elderly lady sitting in a chair near the entrance. The nurse pointed at her and said, “She’s a retired school teacher. I’m sure she’d like the gift.” The leader of the group went to the lady and introduced herself. The lady was hard of hearing, she asked what. After the teen tried several times to say what she was wanting to, the lady still couldn’t hear, so I spoke to her loudly. It was kind of funny, since I’m hard of hearing too; we were both speaking loud enough for the whole wing to hear us. Anyway once she understood who we were and what we were doing, she was delighted. The team gave her the chocolate bunny and said they wanted to bless her with an Easter gift. The lady smiled and said, “That is so sweet!” She then told about herself being a schoolteacher and how nice it was to have them bring that to her. She stood up and gave them each a hug and a kiss. They were all smiling as she told them each some little advice and thanked them once again. We said our goodbyes and headed out the door back to the car. All the teens were very moved by that little nice gesture, I was as well. They continued afterwards doing other nice little things, having fun, and working together as a team. I know that the other teams have their own stories to tell as well.

Wouldn’t it be awesome if more of us intentionally did something out of the ordinary to make someone’s day a little brighter? A little act of kindness goes a long way. It’s those moments of giving and sharing that help shine Jesus’ light to others. Wouldn’t it be great if we stopped preaching so much to people and started loving them? I think that’s the best door to open for others to hear you. I know that if I walk into an area where people are ranting, I find an alternative route. Instead, let’s just smile at the people we pass, let’s listen to what they have to say, and let’s humble ourselves and do little acts of kindness to show people they are important. Let’s be like Christ!

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Posted by on March 31, 2014 in Spiritual Reflections, Youth

 

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Untied Giving

ImageOne of my favorite books I was introduced to in high school was “The Prophet,” by Kahlil Gibran.  I loved the style and flow of his words and the depth of wisdom in that little book is profound.  There are so many nuggets of wisdom you can pull from this book, but today I’m just focusing on one little piece. 

“You often say, “I would give, but only to the deserving.”  The trees in your orchard say not so, nor the flocks in your pasture.  They give that they may live, for to withhold is to perish.  Surely he who is worthy to receive his days and his nights is worthy of all else from you.  And he who has deserved to drink from the ocean of life deserves to fill his cup from your little stream.  And what desert greater shall there be, than that which lies in the courage and the confidence, nay the charity of receiving?  And who are you that men should rend their bosom and unveil their pride, that you may see their worth naked and their pride unabashed?  See first that you yourself deserve to be a giver, and an instrument of giving.”

To often I hear people say that they won’t give to someone  because they aren’t sure how that person will spend the funds. Or if it’s something intangible like time, they are afraid to give it to someone who won’t appreciate it, so therefore they won’t give it.  The point of giving is to release something of value to another without strings attached.  Giving with complete release is fulfilled living. How so?  Because you are planting seeds, even if you don’t see it.  Will every seed be fruitful?  No, but some will.  Why take the chance not planting any at all?

Something small to you may be everything to someone else who needs it.  A little time listening to someone may be enough to keep them from making an unwise decision.  A smile may change another persons day.  A simple prayer may be enough to show that you care and shine a glimpse of Gods love on the one receiving it.  A kind gesture can replace hard feelings.

God is the ultimate giver.  He gave his son, Jesus for each of us that we may live.  He gave so that we wouldn’t be held hostage to our sins.  He gave because He loved and He loves.  He gave to me, although I didn’t deserve it.  He gave although I spent that gift wrong for a long time before I realized the greatness of the gift.  It took me awhile to understand the value of the gift He gave me.  But, He also gave me patience, He gave me mercy, He gave me forgiveness, He gave me blessings.  He gave and He gives to me daily.  He is my example, if you follow Him, He is yours as well.  Don’t hold tight to what you are supposed to release, it is a resounding instrument of who you are.  You are a representative to His kingdom. 

 “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’

 “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’   Matthew 25:44–45

 

 
 

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100% Love

imagesCANR42GWThis week I read about a pastor who wrote something rather rude on a receipt to her waitress. She said that she only gives God 10% so why do you deserve 18%? The waitress shared her experience on a social network site which in turn went viral. The pastor called the restaurant and complained, which in turn caused the waitress to loose her job. There are so many things wrong in this picture. First, shouldn’t a representative of God display love and respect toward her server? Second, how many of us only give God a small portion of ourselves. I know the Pastor was speaking in terms of money to the church, but I begun thinking how much actually is 10%. It’s really only a small portion. How much percent of our income do we spend on entertainment? Is it only 10%? In terms of time, how much time do we give God? Do we allot Him 10% of our time? What is required? How much time do we use to serve others? Shouldn’t we give most of ourselves if not all of ourselves to God and others? How do you represent Christ to those who are outsiders? The third thing that upsets me with this situation is the waitress lost her job. How much more is she going to resent Christians because of the incident that happened to her? If you are a christian you are supposed to be a light. Please think about this when you are out in public and in your private life. I love the song “People of God,” by Gungor. Read the lyrics below and think about shining love of Jesus on others.

We could have tongues of angels
We could move mountains with our faith
We could give everything away
But if we don’t have love
We’re left with nothing
We could see blind eyes opened
Know all the mysteries of our faith
We could sing all the highest praise
But if we don’t have love
We’re left with nothing
People of God rise up
Rise up and shine God’s love
We are the light of the world
Of the world oh
We are the light of the world
Of the world oh
Love is what holds it all together
Love never fails, it never dies
There is no deeper truth
We know God is love, our God is love
Tear down the walls that divide us
Let love rebuild and unite us
All we need is

“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.” John 13:34 (NLT)
All we need is love

 
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Posted by on February 2, 2013 in Spiritual Reflections

 

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April Showers bring May Flowers

On April 1, the weather was nice and spring was in the air.  Instead of a lesson, the group decided to work on the prayer trail behind the church.  We met late afternoon with our machetes and hedge clippers in hand to tackle the thickets and thorns that stood in our way.  We trail blazed for a little over an hour, by clipping, tossing, and digging out roots.  A few days later, we discovered that poison oak or sumac had sprouted out in the mess on the hill because Dave and Cristal started itching and breaking out into a rash.  They both had to see a doctor to get relief from the outbreak. It took approximately two weeks for them to get rid of the rash.

Personally, April was a tough month for me.  My grandmother had been ill for over a month and passed away on April 11.  She was the most influential person in my life.  She taught me so much about living and loving  God and others. She was the one person I went to whenever I needed a helping hand, my tears wiped, encouragement, prayer, comfort, or advice.  That’s what grandmothers are supposed to do anyway, right?  To me though she was an extraordinary grandmother, she continually sacrificed for her children and grandchildren. She imparted into me a lot of her compassion and made me who I am today.  I miss her greatly.

The last Sunday of the month after our lesson, we wondered how many people we could stuff into Katrina’s P.T. Cruiser.  The answer was 9.  We traveled a mile, stuffed into the car, and tagged the way as “Clown Car.”  It was a fun night with lots of laughter, something I felt we all needed.

For the month of May, we planned a food drive.  We asked for donations of non perishable food items and monetary donations for the purchase of meat and dairy products.  We used a wheelbarrow to take groceries to families in need on May 27th.  We were able to provide for two families.  It was a privilege to lead the teens in this way.  I hope that we can reach out to the community in more ways like this in the future.

Matthew 25:34-36

34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’

After the last delivery, Landon rode in the wheelbarrow and Brian and Cristal took turns pushing him.

Later that evening, we went to the carnival that was in town for the Memorial day weekend.  We rode all the classic turn your stomach upside down rides.  My stomach reminded me that I am not a teenager anymore.

April was a tough month, we were attacked by the poison oak/sumac, my grandmother passed away, and my husbands businesses were suffering.  But May bloomed with several flowers throughout the month.  On May 9th, the youth aired their first live internet radio show called “Getting Vocal.”  This was something that was thought and dreamed about for several years. Almost a week later,  one of our teens was in a car accident, he flipped his truck several times, and went to the hospital.  The hospital x-rayed his back and said he fractured several of his vertebrae, so they sent him to another hospital an hour away to do further treatment on him.  They suspected that he would have to have back surgery.  Before he left the local hospital,  the Pastor, his mother and I prayed for him to be healed.  The rest of the youth group showed up after I left and prayed for him as well.  When he arrived at the hospital that was an hour away, they did another X-ray on him.  Here’s the awesome part, they couldn’t find any fractures.  It was confirmed there were some at the local hospital, but by the time he arrived at the other hospital, God healed his back.  Therefore, protection and healing bloomed that day.   Compassion for those in our community was another flower that sprung in the heart of the youth group when we delivered the groceries. 

Next week is our Extreme Voice Summer Retreat.  We are looking forward to all that God has to teach each of us during this time away.

 
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Posted by on June 4, 2012 in Spiritual Reflections, Youth

 

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“A December to Remember”

                As we continue on to 80 ways, (see previous blogs), we started out the first Saturday in December with wagons to participate in a local Christmas parade. We had three wagons for eager teenagers to ride and about sixty treat bags made up to throw into the crowd. It seemed like forever waiting for the parade to start. So we were goofing off quite a bit with the wagons and each other. Finally, the parade started to move and we rolled up the road and over the bridge onto Main Street. The teens and adults involved threw out the treat bags to onlookers and grinned with their Christmas hats fit nicely upon their heads. The crowd laughed, commented, and smiled at the teens riding in the little red wagons.
                 The next day we planned to go to Kmart with wrapped gifts to give to strangers in the store. Each person was told to think and pray about who they were to give a gift to and what kind of gift they needed to give. Our original plan was to go into the store and put a teenager in a shopping cart and have another push the cart. With our group that would be about five shopping carts. When we arrived and asked the manager for permission to do this, he told us we couldn’t because of liability reasons, but we were allowed to pass the gifts out as long as we didn’t solicit. We were somewhat disappointed we couldn’t use the carts but understood the reasoning; we thanked the manager and strolled throughout the store. I was very proud of the consideration the teens were giving in handing out the gifts. They took their time looking for the person they felt they needed to give gifts to and when they found who they thought it was, they approached the person with a smile, said Merry Christmas and handed them the gift. People reacted in various ways, some were delighted to receive the gift, others acted surprised, some seemed confused, and some were trying to figure out what the catch was or didn’t want to accept the gift. To me this spoke volumes; people react to the gift of Jesus and salvation the same way. After everyone passed out their gift, we left the store and went to have ice cream so we could discuss what had happened and to socialize.

            Tia, one of the other youth leaders that helps us out, scheduled the group to visit one of the local nursing homes. We went to sing Christmas carols and the staff allowed us to roll around in wheelchairs afterwards, to count as one of our eighty ways. When we first arrived we went into one of the main lobbies where a group of elderly people were playing bingo. Tia announced to the room who we were and that we were there to sing to them. Josh, one of the teens, brought his guitar to play as the rest of the group sang. We let Josh play a solo before we started and then the group began to sing. It was a rough start on singing because of nerves and no one wanted to sing very loud. But, as we went on, it became somewhat easier. Some of the people in the crowd were joining along and singing too. After we sang several songs in the main lobby, we moved room to room to some of the bedridden residents. It did my heart good to see the reaction of the residents as we sang, some teared up, some sang along, and others smiled. Afterwards we went down one of the empty halls and borrowed some wheelchairs for a quick spin up and down the hall.
                December became a month to remember. I really felt the spirit of Christmas this year because of the participation with the teens. Giving to the community, reaching out to others with time and talent, and making other people smile is a real treat to the soul. As we embark on a New Year, I’m excited about what may lie ahead for this group.

 
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Posted by on December 26, 2011 in Youth

 

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