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Friday, February 21, 2020

ONE BODY

I'm still vertical and kicking---but really busy these days.  Would love to give you an update of what is happening at The Well.  


There is a weekly meeting of our Bible Study which is not only holding steady numbers, but actually slowly growing.  These ladies are teaching me more than I am teaching them.  The most important thing we are doing is building community.  One of the first times we met, I asked the question, as an ice breaker, "If you needed help in any form, who would you call?"  Sadly one of these dear ladies could not think of a single person.  Poverty tends to create isolation and isolation grows loneliness.  Through the efforts of the amazing team at The Well, we are slowly fostering connections, creating opportunities for interaction, and beginning to see relationships and friendships forming.

The Well has the important task of assisting with personal dignity in mind.  Those who attend The Well are given opportunities to earn points in a number of ways.  Attending Bible Study earns you points as well as the monthly Cooking Club, GED classes, Art classes, Bingo for the older ladies, and many other opportunities including bringing in your paycheck stub to get points.  These points can then be used for the laundry facilities, to shop in the pantry, redeem gas cards, and shop in the pop up clothing store.  The points earned enable those served to fill in the gaps in their tightly stretched finances.  

These ladies I am meeting with are either trying to live off their social security retirement checks, or work sometimes two or three jobs to make ends meet.  They are not lazy, and have all worked their entire lives. They have worked in mostly low paying jobs due to their education level.  Almost all of them struggle with making ends meet.  An unexpected illness can bring the anxiety of trying to buy prescriptions with already stretched finances.  Buying the antibiotic needed can mean forgoing a trip to the grocery store.  That's when The Well can assist by redeeming those points for groceries from the pantry.

Most of us take for granted a Wal Mart trip for soap, shampoo, toilet paper, socks, or cream for our winter dried skin.  This is a luxury for those caught in the grips of limited available funds.  What most of us consider necessities become luxuries for many.

Helping without harming is the aim of the  Well.  Offering assistance without the feel of being given a handout instills pride in those who are served.  Knowing you earned the points to use for filling in the gap of items needed for day to day existence builds confidence and the feeling of self worth.  

We are building community with our neighbors we have never had the opportunity to meet before.  The success stories are growing as the ministry builds.  One of our ladies recently found full time employment, rides are being offered to those without transportation, friendships are growing, and community is being formed.  Life is always better when lived shoulder to shoulder.  

Would you like to help?  We would love for you to get involved and meet some of your neighbors.  Thursday and Bible Study with the ladies has become one of my favorite times of the week.  What a blessing to meet new neighbors and grow community.  Pray for the Well and our ministries, as we pray for you and your community.

Have the same concern for everyone.
Do not be proud, but accept humble duties.
Romans 12:16

Monday, January 20, 2020

STAYING IN MY LANE

My daughter and her family were here for a visit during the New Year's holiday.  We talked over New Year's Resolutions during our time together.  It has finally dawned on me Resolutions might be better phrased as Chances to Change.  After many a failed resolution, usually within the first two weeks, I have learned to look at myself with an appraising eye and decide upon areas which might benefit from change.  I can assure you there are plenty of those.  

I gave up a LONG time ago vowing to eat right (it happens, but not frequently), exercise daily (my sloth refuses to be thwarted from an occasional outing), learn a new language (since I have not mastered the one I currently claim as my primary mode of communication), or any of numerous deserving improvements which I will have a difficult time sticking with.  I refuse to set myself up for failure by drawing lines in the sand and vowing from this day forward I will change.  We are creatures of habit, and believe me, my habits are deeply ingrained after all these years.  It is more constructive to work toward change and accept the occasional slip.  We can then pick ourselves up, brush off, and start again.  Change is not instantaneous, but a process.

We decided while talking over the New Year, we would be better served by coming up with NOT JUST an area to seek improvement, but a plan for how we would achieve the desired improvement.  I am going to exercise every day (or every other day or  once a week--pick a number).  HOW am I going to ensure this will happen?  An accountability partner, a class, a group or even your fitbit can help you stay on track.  Someone or something which is reminding you of your commitment.

NOW THAT I HAVE SET YOU UP---one of my "goals" or "chances to change" is to stay in my own lane.  I am NOT happy with my propensity to ignore the board in my own eye and instead focus on the splinter in the fingers of others.  I need to learn to-

It seems to be much easier to critique my neighbor than to objectively examine my own heart.  This year---I am working on that.  Refusing to getting drawn in to giving unwanted and unsolicited advice and instead focusing on the lane in front of me.  There is a fine line between being helpful and compassionate and nosy and critical.  

So how am I going to do this?  I am telling you and all my friends, stop me if you hear me straying into the land of None of My Business.  You will know when I begin to cross the line and stray into your lane.  Stop me--remind me---stay in your lane.  

I am so thankful, we serve a God who is interested in our sanctification, knows it is a process, and never gives up on us.  The first step in the process of change is identifying the need and coming up with a plan.  With God's help all things are possible, even me staying in my own lane.

14 Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.
Hebrews 12:14

Monday, January 13, 2020

OUT OF THE BUBBLE.

While I might be absent from the blogging world, I am NOT absent from the real world!  My world is expanding--only not in the Cyber World, but in the Physical World.

The new ministry I have been blessed to be a part of, "The Well" is expanding the scope of those being served.  Instead of serving only those who are involved with children-single moms, foster families & adoptive families, the demography has grown to include others who might feel unseen.  Older women, empty nesters, the retired, the single, the lonely are slowly being reached one person at a time.


This past week we began a Bible Study-Small Community Group with some of those who are participating.  Somehow I was blessed to be chosen to lead-facilitate the group. (Probably because I am the only one older than all those participating)  After sitting through thousands of sermons, decades of small groups, and more teaching than I can recall, surely I had something to offer?

OH, I have a whole store house of head knowledge, but I was schooled from the first few minutes in how to be a Jesus Follower.  These ladies have their Christ Connection down pat--without my learned teaching, without lengthy theological discussions, and without volumes of books and commentaries~THEY KNOW CHRIST.  They know Him, they worship and praise Him, they communicate with Him and they love Him.  A deep abiding, knowing, trusting love filled with hope and thankfulness.  They freely speak up during prayer--affirming what they are hearing---they call out to Jesus---and they know Him in an intimate way.  These ladies are going to teach me far more than I could ever impart to them.  They know Jesus---He is in their hearts---and they have a bond I cannot even begin to describe to you.

OH, I am certain God will use me in their lives, I know we will grow together in community, but what is most exciting is what they have to teach me about a deep and intimate relationship with Jesus.  We will go to The Well together and draw from its living water.  What a blessing leaving my bubble is going to be!

"Remember that I have commanded you to be determined and confident!
Don't be afraid or discouraged, for I , the Lord your God,
am with you wherever you go."
Joshua 1:9