Taking Chances

hope2Chances are your cell phone never leaves your side….but there is hope that you can still find quiet time and contentment with the creator from time to time.

Chances are you will work very hard at something productive this week….but there is hope that you will take the time to work very hard at something that brings you joy.

Chances are you will experience a few sleepless nights in your lifetime….but there is hope that when you do sleep, it is a quiet rest that restores body and soul to the harmony God intended.

Chances are you will have your heart broken a time or two….but there is hope that you will continue to open yourself up to the joyous experiences which come from loving and being loved.

Chances are you will face a serious medical diagnosis in your lifetime….but there is hope that in the midst of those moments the power of God’s love will be revealed to you in the people who gather around to love you through it.

Chances are you will grieve the loss of a great love in your life….but there is hope you will soon realize what a gift it was to love so deeply.

Chances are your days will know a few tears from time to time….but there is hope they will see more laughter more often.

Chances are you will learn something new today….and there is hope you will teach it to another.

Chances are someone will tell you they love you today….and there is hope you will return that love.

Chances are someone will stir your anger today….but there is hope the anger will be short-lived and productive.

Chances are you will run into someone you’ve never met today….there is hope you will take a moment to appreciate them anyway.

Chances are you will spend some money today….there is hope that as you do so, you are grateful you have it to spend.

Chances are the sun will rise, the grass will grow, flowers will bloom, birds will fly and a neighbor’s dog will bark today…there is hope we will enjoy the beauty this day brings.

Chances are you won’t open and read your newsletter today….there is hope that you will still know we love you and offer prayers in your name.

Chances are you will look around you and know that God is near today….and there is hope that God will look upon you and know you are near to God.

Blessings,
Tracy

Ten good things:

Good things

1. My neighbor changed the broken belt on my riding mower.

2. Marie and Tracy were there for Susan’s surgery. Thank you.

3. Together, we overcame the deficit.

4. The sixth floor at Good Sam – UK is a gift to Central Kentucky.

5. The performance of “His Eye is On the Sparrow” at Immanuel Baptist Church on television this morning transcended description.

6. Chad says to Sarah at the hospital: “Sarah, you were born first. So I guess you started the family off on the wrong foot.”

7. From the surgeon’s office to the man mopping the floor, at least ten people said they would be praying for us during Susan’s surgery and recovery.

8. UK basketball in the summer?  From the Bahamas?

9. Chad came home today from staying with his sister for five days.

10. Susan is home recovering from successful surgery.

I am blessed and thankful.

Moving to the deeper places,
Jeff

Goodbye to Robin Williams

US NEWS ROBINWILLIAMS-OBIT 2 LAThis week the country mourns the loss of comedian and actor, Robin Williams, who starred in over 50 cinematic works of art. One obscure movie, which did not receive much acclaim, is now being revisited at an alarming rate following his death. Williams starred with up-and-coming Cuba Gooding, Jr. in the 1998 dramatic film, What Dreams May Come.

This film, based on a novel of the same name by Richard Matheson, gives the brain much to consider. Matheson was incredibly profound in his depiction of life after death and the eternal nature of love. But it is the dark subject matter: depression and suicide, which holds the viewer mesmerized. My experience coming from a family riddled with mental illness and depression has brought me up close and personal to this darkness. Kristy Horine shared a conversation she had with her husband, Eric, which spoke to this darkness, specifically personal darkness, which is the true nature of depression. “Some of us let it all hang out, some of us mask it with laughter or meanness. Some of us allow it to shape us into more empathetic and meaningful people. We wouldn't recognize the darkness unless there is the contrast of light, though.”

Robin Williams used the darkness which tormented his soul to spread laughter and love to people who recognized it as their own. His death reminds us that depression is a thick wall of sorrow and pain that can overwhelm even the most stalwart of characters. We, all of us, hold a bit of that darkness inside and struggle mightily to load up with enough light to overcome it. We refer to Jesus as THE Light. But not everyone in the depths of depression can make the connection to faith, to THE Light, or even to others, to see how they can end that inner turmoil. Too often we seek to allay someone’s sorrow with platitudes, positive thinking or admonitions to pray harder. Kay Denniston reminds us, “You cannot fix depression by “thinking positive” anymore than I can become a genius by “thinking I am smart”.” It is not easy, but there is help. There can be light at the end of the tunnel if we can remember to reach out to others for help. And we, who somehow manage to hold tight to our light, need to be able to recognize the need in others who are struggling.

Williams once said, “You're only given a little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it." I believe he would advise us to feed that spark until it grows into a great light. I don’t think he was speaking of madness as true insanity…I believe he was simply reminding us that it is in our brokenness where light becomes able to radiate from within our depths. It is only by acknowledging the cracks in our own souls that we can truly see another’s pain and suffering.

 Robin Williams’ light is gone and our world feels this loss. Mark Twain may have been right when he said, “All humor is derived from pain, ergo nothing in Heaven is funny,” but I truly hope to find laughter and joy in heaven.  I know that Robin Williams is now free from the pain and darkness which tormented him on earth, but I hope he retains his humor. I hope he sits next to God in eternity and shares all the talent and insight, which God gave him, to entertain the Almighty for all time. Genie, you are now free! And just as Tinker Bell told Peter Pan, “You know that place between sleep and awake? That place where you still remember dreaming? That's where I'll always love you…” That is where I’ll remember this talented human being.

And, thank you, Kristy, for adding to your thoughts on darkness this prayer, “Oh Lord, help me be a gentle light today, one that remembers what it is like to stand inside that darkness and not fall away. A good and hopeful light.”

Blessings,
Tracy

Time & Talent

time & talent 2

There are what seem to be a thousand jobs to be done each year in the life of the church.

Some of the jobs are huge, such as moderator, committee chair and Sunday School teacher.

Those are long term jobs which involve work every month for the church.

There are many jobs which are more detailed and time limited. If you wanted to serve on a Worship Team, you might have less than three hours of work to do at a specific time of year.

Cleaning the church is broken down into two to three hour work segments. For example, dust all the window sills downstairs.

Soon, you will have in hand, a detailed outline of most all of the jobs which need to be done in the in the life of the church.

When you receive it scan it for categories of service which interest you. Then read in detail the entire section of service opportunities.

Check (commit) to doing those tasks in the life of the church in the coming year.

When the Time and Talent forms are received back, they will be tallied and your willingness to serve will be distributed to the church leader responsible for asking you to fulfill your promise.

This will not be a perfect process. Church leaders will need to plan events which use the gifts of the member who volunteered.

It won’t hurt if you remind the chairperson if you don’t hear from them right away of your desire to serve.

If, after submitting your Time and Talent form, you want to do more simply say so and the church will attempt to make sure you have every opportunity to serve.

Moving to the deeper places,
Jeff

Learning Together in Faith

helping handsIt’s that time of year again! I dropped my 16 year old daughter off at school this morning for her first day of her junior year. It always seems like summer passes in the blink of an eye. So, here we are at the beginning of another school year with great hopes for our children and their families for the learning that is to come. With that said, we have a lot going on in the life of the church where learning is concerned…

  • Christian Education Team welcomes Judy Otte as our leader and Kathi Vance as our new Sunday School teacher for the children’s class.
  • George Kissick will be offering a comprehensive study on the Old Testament beginning in September. Those of you who continually say you don’t know enough about the Bible will now have a chance to dig in with other novices to learn about all the amazing ways God has led flawed people into doing great things in the world…Imagine what God can do with you and me!
  • Children Worship & Wonder will begin again on August 17th. Children aged 3 years to 3rd grade are invited to participate. This program is Worship. While there is an element of learning, the ultimate goal of Children Worship & Wonder is to create child-friendly space for children to encounter God in worship, to learn the traditions of the church and how we worship and to discover their own best practices for speaking to and listening for God in their daily lives. Parents and concerned family members are invited to join us for our first orientation session, which will occur during worship on Sunday, August 17th.
  • September 7th we will begin our “Light a Candle for Children” Prayer Vigil which leads up to Children’s Sabbath on October 19th. On that date we will also celebrate Promotion Sunday, promoting children and youth to the next level of classes as they grow in their faith journey. Christian Education would also like for this to begin our emphasis on Christian Education. Building a strong foundation is essential to raising faithful children into faithful adults. Outside of the home, Sunday School is THE MOST IMPORTANT PLACE TO MAKE THAT HAPPEN! Bring your children to Sunday School and set the example by joining one of our adult classes as well. Classes begin at 9:30 a.m. AND, we offer donuts and coffee before classes begin!
    **George Kissick will also be going around to each class room to photograph each Sunday School group hang outside our classroom doors. Be sure to wear your best smile that day!
  • And, as you well know, our youth groups are growing and this is something to celebrate! But, with growth, comes change. Our current model for doing Youth Ministry cannot be sustained if we continue to seek growth. So, youth groups will take on a new format this fall and we will start things up again in the month of September, as well. Middle and High School youth will meet on Sundays following worship. They will gather together for lunch and getting-to-know-you/team-building games. Then, they will separate out for age-appropriate learning experiences. In order to do this, we will need to increase our number of volunteers. We need to make sure there is food for lunches each week and we will need loving adults on hand to help lead and guide discussions. Please consider joining us in youth ministry and learning together how to fully be the Body of Christ!

Blessings,
Tracy

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