About Impact

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Look out...

Life just went from hard to extremely difficult.

Lord, give me strength to make it through the next 16 days.
To hold on to your promises and soak up your truth.
Give me endurance and patience.
Remind me you are in control and your ways are higher than mine.
Keep me focused on what is truly important.
You are good and I know you will see me through.

And if it isn't too big of a problem, help me run on only a few hours of sleep!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Over a cup of coffee...

I'm currently enjoying my weekly visit to Bella Vita's in Granger. They are playing some fantastic jazz right now. Here is what is on my mind...

For you have been called to live in freedom--not freedom to satisfy your sinful nature, but freedom to serve one another in love. For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: "Love your neighbor as yourself." Galatians 6:13

I’ve been doing quite a bit of traveling over the last month, which has give me plenty of time to pray, think, process and all that jazz. Within the last 48 hours or so, all of that has lead to a few discoveries about myself, friends, Christ, well just about every aspect of life. Some things have clicked and I understand them more clearly. I love the feeling you get when that happens over and over again in a short period of time.

I don’t really remember when I added the above verse to the top my xanga site, but I remember how I had that verse in my thoughts day and night. It didn’t seem like there was enough time in the day to meditate and chew on it. I don’t recall what was happening in my life at the time, but just this week the verse has returned to the front of my mind. Freedom…freedom to serve one another in love…wow!

Over the last couple of weeks I have been blessed with the opportunity to hang out with several friends that I normally don’t get to see. Many of these opportunities have been spur of the moment with very little planning ahead. If you know me at all, you know that isn’t really the way I work. However I wouldn’t give up any of the time I’ve spend with friends just because it wasn’t planned ahead. I wish I could explain how much of a blessing those times have been. Who would have thought a 20-minute drive or five-minute conversation could have such an impact?

Those times have helped me remember the freedom that we are called to live in with each other. When you make it a priority to build the relationships in your life and love others you experience that freedom. It isn’t like I have forgotten the importance of serving each other in love or even forgotten to do it. I guess I forgot about letting others do the same for me. I don’t know why that is so hard for me, but I struggle with it often. But the truth is that when you allow others to serve you, you experience that freedom as well. We are called to live in freedom! It isn’t just for a few people, and it isn’t a life to be lived alone. Everyone is called to that same freedom and to live it together. Amazing!

It is refreshing and fulfilling and energizing and a gazillion other things. Are you living in that freedom? If not, what is holding you back? If you are, don’t forget the joy that comes in sharing that freedom.

Monday, August 21, 2006

It's Jeffrey's Fault

I’m not really sure why Jeff thought it would be a good idea to tag me with this. Maybe it is because he knows it would be a challenge for me to come up with answers for some of these. Maybe he did it because he thinks I have nothing else but studying to do. Or maybe it is just because he is a just punk!

According to YOUR personal opinion, answer these questions...

ONE of your Favorite Movie MOMENTS of All Time: The scene in “Bruce Almighty” where Bruce is kneeling in the middle of the road crying out to God.

ONE of the Greatest Episodes of what TV show ever: I don’t watch much TV, but one of my favorite Simpsons moments is when they are imagining the end of the world. There are all sorts of funny comments that are made as the town is burning and there are floods other places.

One movie that made you LAUGH out loud many times: I don’t know why it is so hard for me to think of a movie that fits this category. "Tommy Boy" might work.

ONE TV show that you wish you could be on: This may sound silly but Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. Really it is just because I wish I was talented enough to go around and help rebuild houses for people that could really use the help. What an awesome opportunity that would be to share Jesus!

ONE of your Favorite SONGS of all time: “So What” by Miles Davis

ONE song you wish YOU wrote: “Hard to Get” by Rich Mullins

ONE of the GREATEST movies that NOBODY has seen: What kind of question is this?! If I’ve seen it that means half of America as already seen it twice! “A Mighty Wind” directed by Christopher Guest

ONE song that truly MOVES you: “All that I Can Say” by David Crowder

ONE movie that truly MOVED you: Dead Poet’s Society

ONE MOVIE that you cried at: Disney’s “The Fox and the Hound”

MOST PLAYED song on your IPOD to date: Actually this surprised me “Lonely People” by Jars of Clay. I guess that is what happens when you listen to your iPod on random so much!

ONE MOVIE that you love that would SUPRISE others to know: “Meet Joe Black” I guess this isn’t suppose to be my type of movie.

ONE SONG that you know ALL the lyrics to: Probably the most surprising one would be “Yellow Submarine” by the Beatles thanks to a student teacher I had in high school.

ONE SONG that NEVER gets old: “Lord Reign in Me” by Brenton Brown As often as this song has been used in worship services, I still get excited every time I hear it.

ONE SONG the moved you to TEARS: “Elegia” from Christopher Rouse’s Flute Concerto

The MOST RECENT song you purchased/downloaded: “My Jesus” Todd Agnew

ONE BOOK that you would suggest to ANYONE: “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” by Judith Viorst

ONE BOOK the changed your life: “Abba’s Child” by Brennan Manning

Well since Jeffrey has started this little trend, I guess I’ll take some folks as well. So Kelly Bontrager, Ashley Davison, Kari Kinder, Dana Metzger and Rob Schwartz have at it!

Living Examples of Jesus, Part 4

I was going to wait until next week to write another post about some of the people that have encouraged me over the last few months and have been great examples of Christ. However, I changed my mind after attending a going away party for my friends Eric, Mary and Caleb. I didn’t really consider it a goodbye since I know I’ll stay in touch with them and probably see them again before too long. It just makes me kind of sad because they were the only friends I have here at home other than my family.

(Eric is in the yellow shirt on the right!)

I first remember meeting Eric while he was working at a church in Holland, MI. I don’t remember ever meeting Mary until they came to St. Louis. I know I did before that but I don’t seem to remember it. Over the last few years it has been a privilege to get to know both Eric and Mary and serving with them at Michiana Christian Service Camp. As a staff we look forward to Deeper Life week because our friends are there and we know that we will be challenged.

During the off-season Eric comes several times to the camp for retreats. Over this last year I’ve looked forward to Eric coming because he has been so encouraging. He has been teaching me how to ask the right questions and how to be honest about the answers. He has also encouraged me to keep pushing forward and not give up. He understands how easy it is for me to be cynical at times, but he never makes me feel like I'm less of a Christian or person because of it. Instead he reminds me to trust and allow God to heal past wounds. There have been numerous words of encouragement shared at just the right time with just the right words.

During Deeper Life week you don’t always see a lot of Mary and that is because she is off praying somewhere. Her part of the week is to pray, pray and pray some more. I am amazed and challenged by her desire to spend an entire week devoted to praying specifically for that ministry. And I know that is something that she does on a regular basis. I don’t know Mary as well as I know Eric but I’ve enjoyed getting to know her more over the last few years. Prayer is a powerful thing and I love and respect the passion that Mary has.

I will miss being able to see them every week at St. Louis, but I know the adventures and plans God has for them at Macomb are going to be incredible. It has been amazing to see how all of this has unfolded. I pray that God will continue to enlarge their vision of him and continue to use them to reach out to those around them. I know how thankful I am that they have been a part of my life. God has so much more in store for them! Thank you for showing me Jesus my friends.

Part 1: Jeffrey Myers (August 9th)
Part 2: Michael and Jeannette Cox (August 15th)
Part 3: Nellie "Granny" Hubard (August 20th)

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Living Example of Jesus, Part 3

I know I said I was going to post some of my thoughts from my lesson on the “sanctuary” you’ll have to wait a little longer for that. I’m sure you are on the edge of your seats. Sorry I don’t have a picture for this post. I thought I had one from Lois’s wedding but I don’t.

Last night I went to one of our local nursing homes to visit Granny, our next door neighbor, who just moved in there this week. She really isn’t my grandma but I’ve called her Granny for as long as I can remember. In fact when I was little I actually thought that was here real name. She is 94 years old but you would never know it. She is independent and has just recently started having

Growing up Granny always let us kids play in her big garden (if she hadn’t planted it that summer) or back yard. We were allowed to come get her croquet set out of her garage whenever we wanted without asking. She use to work at a store in the town next too us, and every once in awhile bring back candy for us from work. Since my dad’s twin brother married Granny’s daughter, Granny would always let us come over and spend time with our cousins when they came to visit.

As my mom and I said in Granny’s room visiting with her last night she shared lots of stories with us. Granny always has stories about just about anything and anybody. She has been in Vestaburg for a long time and knows its history well. But her stories seemed a little different last night. She was telling us about all the food they are given at each meal and how many snacks they get a day. She said their helpings are so large one bowl could feed ten people. It upset her how much food they waste there and even more upset that it was because of government rules and regulations that require them to give so much food. She then told us about how many starving people there are and she had to throw food away because she couldn’t eat it all. She was not impressed to say the least.

She told us about her grouchy roommate and how all Granny can do is laugh at her because she is so ridiculous. She told us she was going to keep talking to her roommate even if her roommate didn’t like it. And she was going to laugh when she said mean things because it was just silly. She said her roommate just needed someone to be nice to her. I’m not sure I could be that loving. I was annoyed with her roommate and I was only there about ten minutes.

She then told us the story of her very cute teddy bear a woman from our church had brought her. It was a fairly expensive teddy bear and Granny wasn’t really happy when she found out. She told us over and over again how nice she thought that was and how much she loved the bear, but she didn’t think it was right someone would spend that kind of money on a teddy bear for her. Mom explained that it was this woman’s ministry to do that sort of thing. Granny quickly said, “I know but the church needs it more than I do. I can get by without a bear. They church could really use that money.”

It didn’t seem to matter to Granny at all that she was in a nursing home. I know she isn’t really happy about it but she had such a great attitude. She talked only about the things she liked and how she was happy there. Just a couple months ago she said she refused to go but now she has been focusing on the positive and still is putting others before herself. When I’m 94 years old I hope I’m loving people and focusing on others just as much as Granny is now. Thank you Granny for showing me Jesus!

Part 1: Jeffrey Myers (August 9th)
Part 2: Michael and Jeannette Cox (August 15th)

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Living Examples of Jesus, Part 2

I know I said I wasn’t going to write the next part of this until after I got back from South Carolina but I changed my mind. I need to write something that isn’t about the Nicene problem, weltanshauug, or humanism. (Yea, your guess is as good as mine!)

I decided to write about both Michael and Jeannette at the same time instead of doing two separate entries, although there is enough stories to share that I could write two very lengthy posts. These are two of the most incredible people you will ever meet. Their marriage is a great witness of Christ’s love and their understanding of what it means to be a part of the body of Christ is evident in their everyday lives. As long as I’ve known these guys they have been encouraging me in my ministry, challenging in my walk with Christ and been there to meet any need I may have.

I worked with Michael at Harris Prairie Church of Christ. When we first talked about hiring someone to help Jason out with the college ministry and Sunday services we knew there was a need but were very skeptical about bringing someone on board. We didn’t want to hire someone who was going to take over and change everything. However, it didn’t take long for us to fall in love with both of them. It was a great fit and Michael brought more than we could have asked for.

I worked under Michael as a part of the Hunger (college ministry) leadership team and served on the worship teams. Then became his intern, which was a phenomenal experience. And that internship changed to a youth position and Michael still continued to encourage and help me along the way. I’ve learned so much about ministry from him. He has been my mentor in ministry and willing to help me at anytime, whether it is by talking through things, lending a hand when he really doesn’t want to or just hooking me up with good resources.

Outside of ministry the number of things I’ve learned from him are endless. There have been several conversations about music and music technology. Everything I know about the Simpsons I learned from him most likely. My favorites are the random bits of information that have surprisingly come in handy quite often. The guy is a genius but I’ve never felt like I couldn’t talk to him because of it. I love that.

Jeannette and I bonded over several meals together. With her crazy schedule at law school it made it hard to find time to hang out but it never really stopped us. We would talk about all sorts of things in life such as politics, education, church, ministry, friendships, life in general and numerous other things. I loved being able to talk through things with her that I couldn’t with others. She was always quick to encourage and point out the positive sides of things when I would get down.

One of the major lessons I’ve learned from Jeannette is the importance and loving and caring for everyone, regardless of who they are. She has such a huge heart for the people that get overlooked or pushed aside. You could find her at church having conversations with individuals that most people struggle to connect with. She may not have been at able to be around the church as much as others but she was a vital part of the Hunger ministry that I think most people never noticed. She has a very clear understanding that the body of Christ is to love, care for and protect each other. What better way to teach that then by living it out!

The last year or so that they lived in South Bend, Michael spent a lot of time with Jeff. We use to give them a hard time about it, but that gave Jeannette and I opportunities to hang out. I’ve appreciated her willingness to always make sure that things were going well and make sure there wasn’t anything I needed.

Both Michael and Jeannette are some of the most generous people I’ve met. They offered me a place to live when I was temporarily homeless. They invited me over to their house to eat several times. They are always giving my time, which I know is a valuable thing. Both of them will randomly call me just to see how life is or just sent me an e-mail. Both of them are full of wisdom and I have been truly blessed to have such amazing friends like them. Whether they are in South Bend or Portland or Dayton I always know they are just a phone call away. Thank you my friends for being fantastic and showing me Jesus!

(In case you are confused, Part 1 was a couple posts ago. There have been a couple since then.)

Monday, August 14, 2006

From the sky...

**Here are some thoughts from my flight to South Carolina.**

Friday, August 11, 2006 – 12:00 NOON
I think I fell in love with the sky today, which doesn’t come as too big of a surprise to me. I could lie outside and watch the stars for hours and hours if time allowed. On a nice day, lying on the grass and watching the clouds is wonderful. I’ve always loved Rich Mullins’ song “Pictures in the Sky.” When my sisters and I were little we would get extension cords and run them out to the back yard so we could listen to that album while we ran through the sprinkler. We would cue up that song and then lie on our towels and watch the clouds while singing along. When the song was over we would rewind and start again. Now I’m actually flying through a cloud.

A few weeks ago as I watched a crop-duster swoop down over the cornfields, I decided I wanted a red plane like in the movie The Kid so I could go flying through the clouds whenever I wanted. There was a small private plane that took off right before we did and it reminded how awesome I thought that would be. I started to get a really excited about our take-off.

The pilot then told us that we were number one for take off. He said it as if we were on the best plane out that day and every other plane was jealous. (It really was kind of humorous.) The pilot turned onto the runway and lined up the nose of the plane down the wide centerline. My favorite part of flying that brief moment after the plane gets on the runway and before the engines start get louder. The roar of the engines starts to build and the plane lunges forward. The plane builds speed and off into the air you fly. I love it!

I love flying over towns that I’m familiar with because I can see the places I know from a new perspective. South Bend was no different. The East Race was beautiful and I noticed how amazing some of the architecture was on buildings I’ve driven by several times. As we climbed in altitude, more and more clouds surrounded us. Now I look out my window as we fly over a thick, smooth blanket of white, I’m speechless. Breath-taking.

Something about the sky always puts me in a contemplative mood. I get more thinking done in five minutes on the basketball court with the stars than I do sitting at my desk deep in study. I think I like the sky because it is endless. I’ll never be able to grasp how large it really is. Every time I think about God and his creativity one word always comes to mind, HUGE!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Thoughts on camp...

Here is a little about my trip to Niles. The wedding was great. The camp staff definitely made their presence known. We did the wave when Tabitha and Ryan came to dismiss our row and then we sang the hula song to them and made them do the hula at their reception.

My cabin/team, the sharks, at 2nd grade camp was awesome. There are many stories I could share but I’m just going to tell you about one of the girls in my cabin. Kiara doesn’t go to church very often. She was uneasy with all of this camp stuff but quickly forgot about that. She was a riot, full of energy. Our theme was Finding Jesus: An Underwater Adventure, just like Finding Nemo, and we asked the kids at our first gathering to be thinking about where they could find Jesus while they were at camp. That night in our cabin I asked the girls to answer that question so the could be looking the next day. She started to get a little uncomfortable again but answered, “Under the sea.” As I laid in bed praying for each of the girls, I prayed that if nothing else happened while she was at camp that she would have a good time and start to hunger for the fun and excitement that comes with learning about Christ. At our last big meeting together three campers were chosen to come on stage and share one thing they learned about Jesus. With a big smile on her face she firmly answered, “Jesus is FUN!” I couldn’t have been more excited at that point.

If Kiara remembers only that from a camp and if she is the only camper who remembers anything I would still feel like the camp was a complete success. Our goal as faculty and staff is to share Jesus with campers and that is exactly what happened. To see how much her attitude towards things changed in that one day was incredible. As we walked back to the cabin to check out I asked the girls where they found Jesus during the day. Kiara’s answer was at the pool. She may not go to church again for three months but the Holy Spirit has begun to work and he knows what he is doing!

Camp has been on my mind all day. On a brief study break I ran across the xanga site of one of my 4th and 5th grade campers from Rock Lake. Then my niece showed me the blog of one of her camp friends. This girl used to live in Vestaburg and she was in the 1st grade Sunday School class I use to teach when I was in high school. My niece and I looked at the pictures from camp her friend had posted online. I had to call and talk to DJ (the director a MCSC) about some things for one of my classes and we ended up talking about 2nd grade camp and family camp. As we were hanging up I started to cry. I knew I would miss being at camp but I had no idea it would be this hard. I wish I were rich so I could volunteer at camp all year and still be able to live. I think there must be something in the water at Michiana.

I'm frustrated that things turned out the way they did. Since I've been home I've been able to sleep at night and I've not had a single nightmare. The first night I was in Niles I tossed and turned all night. And I woke up from a horrible nightmare. It just doesn't make sense to me. I wish this lesson would hurry up and be over. Michiana will never be the same to me now. Hopefully someday I'll be able to go back without feeling so bad about it all. But I'm not sure that is possible because the things that trigger the memories good and bad, will be there for a long time. It is often our fondest memories that cause the deepest pain.

God, if you decided to explain why you are taking me a different direction or even what that direction is, I would be completely okay with that. In case you were wondering!

Living Examples of Jesus, Part Two will be back after South Carolina.

Living Examples of Jesus, Part 1

First of all, I know it is late and I know I just had surgery and have a ton of things going on in the next couple of weeks but I can’t sleep. I’m completely exhausted. I was studying late tonight and I’ve tried to sleep but it isn’t working. So I thought I would share a few things. After all I've been writing papers all day so this should make me tired because those sure did!

I'm trying to spend a little time each day reflecting on different parts of my life, trying to evaluate where I really am and where it is God is taking me. I'm hoping to discover a bigger picture of this season of my life. I am looking at the patterns I've found in the lessons God has been teaching me and the ways he has revealed himself.

The most recent topic of reflection is relationships. Today I've been thinking about several key relationships in my life. I've been thinking about the impact they've had on mine and whether I've been impacting others in the same way. I've been wondering if I've been the friend that God has called me to be. Am I noticing the opportunities to be Jesus to others? And when I do notice those open doors, am I walking through them and loving God's people? I'm praying that God will teach me to love more and be more compassionate towards his people.

As a result of my pondering today I've decided that I will write a little something about some of the people who have really impacted me in the last six months. People that I think have been living examples of Jesus and are making a difference for the kingdom. They won't appear in any order. Like my thinking it will be rather random. There is no way I would ever be able to write about everyone. These are a just few that stick out and most likely they are people who have kicked my butt in the process.

Jeffrey happens to be one of my bestest friends in the whole wide world. He is one of the brightest and most hilarious people I have ever met. When I think of Jeff I think of fun, honesty, and faithfulness. Here’s why.

Jeffrey is one fun kid. One summer I had Tuesday mornings off at the camp. I would drive down, meet Jeff at Harris Prairie, where he was working at the time, and we would head to Wendy’s for lunch. That quickly became a tradition that we did pretty regularly until just recently. These are some of my favorite memories with Jeff because we are real with each other. We can admit that we aren’t perfect and share our frustrations without the other one judging. However, sometimes it can become a contest to see who can pray better, who can throw out the most insults, or who can say the meanest things. I’ve never won a contest, yet I always am in a better mood afterwards. Go figure! Usually it is because I’ve laughed so hard. I can’t spend more than two minutes with Jeff without laughing. You can find several scriptures that talk about Jesus spending time with other people over a meal. I strongly believe that they laughed at many of those meals. I’m pretty sure Jesus was on funny guy. One thing I’ve learned from Jeff is that God gave us life and he wants us to enjoy it. It isn’t supposed to be a rigid planned out schedule that can’t be changed. Who knew?!

Jeffrey is honest, but always out of love. Jeff isn’t known for being “Mr. Serious,” but he knows there is a time and a place for it. He is never afraid to call things like they are. He might not ever share those thoughts with you, but when he does he doesn’t water down the truth. I’ve never had someone be so blunt and up front with telling me the things I don’t want to hear or calling me out on my mistakes. I have never walked away from those conversations feeling hurt or like any less of a person. Along with all of the hard truths comes love and encouragement. It isn’t very often you can be lectured by someone and then say, “Thanks! That was encouraging.” I think that is exactly how the woman at the well and the woman caught in adultery felt when they walked away from their conversations with Christ.

Jeffrey has been there every time I’ve need him and even when I didn’t know I needed him. This summer Jeff has taken the term “faithful friend” to a whole new level. He’s been one of my closest friends since we met, but we have never been the type of friends that call each other when something goes wrong at 1:30 in the morning. I never thought I would call him at that time of night and definitely never in tears. (I hate crying and don’t do it often especially in front of people.) This summer Jeff became that person many times, one week a couple days in a row. He didn’t once complain or joke about me crying. He was always honest, encouraging and willing to listen. Doing the inconvenient things and going the extra mile to make my life easier and make sure I was okay wasn’t something I asked him to do or expected him to do. He just did it like it was nothing. That is the kind of attitude I think Paul was referring to when he told the church in Philippi to have an attitude that was like Christ’s. Christ wasn’t selfish. He humbled himself and put others first.

I thank God everyday for Jeff and friends like him. And I pray that everyone can have people like that in their lives. I pray that God will keep teaching me to live a life that radiates his glory. Thank you Jeffrey for showing me Jesus.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Thoughts on puzzle pieces...

My second summer working at Michiana Christian Service Camp the staff spent a lot of time talking about puzzles and how each of us are like a piece. Our unofficial theme for the summer was about looking at the big picture. As a staff we learned about looking past ourselves and our piece to see how others around us connect to our piece and how all the pieces together are the body. Together all the pieces reveal the body of Christ. When all the pieces are in place the true beauty of the kingdom he created can be seen. It was challenging.

Today I came down to the camp for Tabi and Ryan’s wedding, two staff members. I walked out of the Peasley’s house and headed towards Kelly's when I noticed the smell of the air. I don’t know if anyone else here has ever noticed but the air at camp has a unique smell, especially in the evenings. I walked down the driveway and took in as many long sniffs as I could. I love that smell and I smiled as I was reminded how much I love this place. But my mood changed quickly because I’m not here anymore. There are a few reasons for that, none of which are bad, but it still makes me sad.

All of that happened in just a few short seconds and just about as quickly as they passed I learned something new about puzzles. The road to discovering that my time at camp has come to an end has been a long and hard one. It has been so hard to see God take me in a direction completely different from this ministry that I love so much. At first I thought there was something wrong with me and my puzzle piece was broken. I thought maybe God’s picture for the camp was changing and I wasn’t needed in the picture. But tonight I thought of this.

What if the big picture really is the body of Christ made up of different sections, which are different ministries? What if the overall picture doesn’t change? What if what changes are the pieces? As God molds each of us, what if he changes our shape to fit different parts of the puzzle at different times? For the last six summers maybe my piece has the right colors and lines and is shaped just the right way to fit into the section of MCSC. Maybe now, as I’ve grown, my piece has different colors and lines. Maybe my piece is shaped a little differently and now belongs to a different section of the puzzle. Nothing or no one is broken…just changing. The great thing about this is that it is still the same puzzle, the same body living for and serving the same Lord.

I write this and tell myself, “Duh Sarah! You already knew all of this.” But tonight it just makes more sense and hits home and is far more comforting. I’ve known my time at camp is over but I wasn’t ready for it to come so soon. And honestly I've just not been ready to let go of it. I'm still working on that. But when you look at it this way hope becomes more evident. Now the goal is to keep seeking after Christ and figure out where my piece now belongs. South Carolina…Indiana…California…Vestaburg (please not there Jesus!) I don’t know yet, but when I find out you better believe I’m moving there.

What color is your puzzle piece? What lines and figures are on it? What is it shaped like? What ministry is it that God could be molding you to be the perfect puzzle place for this season in your life?