October 28, 2010

29 Gifts: How A Month of Giving Can Change Your Life

Last Sunday, I participated in a meditation/discussion time with Cami Walker, who wrote
29 Gifts: How a Month of Giving Can Change Your Life.

Cami was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis several years ago. Her lifestyle was severely compromised by the illness. During a time of frustration, she consulted a spiritual mentor who attempted to pull her out of self-pity by saying, "Cami, I think you need to stop thinking about yourself." Cami was stunned into silence. The mentor continued, "If you spend all of your time and energy focusing on your pain, you're feeding the disease. You're making it worse by putting all of your attention there. I'm going to give you a tool to help you dig yourself out. I want you to give away 29 gifts in 29 days. These gifts don't have to be material things. By giving you are focusing on what you have to offer others, inviting more abundance into your life. Giving of any kind is taking a positive action that begins the process of change. It will shift your energy for life."Although Cami was reluctant, she decided to follow the mentor's advice. She chronicles the 29 days of giving in her book and at the end describes the multitude of changes in her life that have resulted.

I was somewhat hesitant to try giving intentionally for 29 days, because she also discusses what possibilities for receiving might occur as a result. "Giving with the expectation of receiving? Doesn't Jesus say "It is more blessed to give than to receive?" Besides one thing I have worked on in my own life is letting go of expectations of what a person might do with a gift I offer, especially if he/she does something completely opposite of what I intended.

Then I recognized the resistance I felt almost immediately to the possibility of receiving something. Receiving always makes me uncomfortable. As I explored the resistance more closely, I realized that I needed to confront my own sense of worth -- a constant struggle from trauma during the first two decades of my life. However, I kept reading the book and decided to begin my own documented 29 days of giving. I discovered that finding ways to give was easy -- opening a door for the person coming into a store behind me, greeting someone with "good morning," offering the person behind me in line at Target my place since this mother had two fussy children.

I quickly discovered after only two days that as I became more aware of ways to gift others, I was more aware of the way others were gifting me, such as someone I had not seen for several months from church, giving me a hug when we encountered each other unexpectedly. I found that I was feeling better about myself, not from an egotistical stance, but from being present to another in a moment in time.

So far, I have completed four days. I'll let you know how it goes.

Jacquie Reed, Fishers, Indiana

October 27, 2010

Feed Some Feedback: Internet Churches?

Friends, I need your help with some feedback about Internet churches.

What do you think about them?

Have you ever checked one out?

How does your church use the Internet and/or other social media?

Thanks for your help.


October 25, 2010

Do You Like Being a Minister's Spouse?

Do you? Do you like being a minister's spouse?

I have to admit that, for the most part, I actually do. Sure, I don't like the stereotype of the mousy, under-achieving, do-gooder, who can't stand up for herself (or himself) and her (or his) family.

But I have never met a spouse who fits that stereotype either.

The spouses I know are wise beyond their years and articulate as all get out.

Being a spouse gives me a leadership role in the church and gives me access to all sorts of people. Sometimes I know the "inside" story and sometimes, I prefer not to be involved.

My spouse and I have an arrangement: he is the pastor and I support the ministries of the church as my gifts and time allow. And we have both honored our parts of the agreement.

I made the mistake, one time, of offering to play the piano for the service. You must realize that I am a very poor player and had to practice those four hymns all week. You see, I thought there was no one else who could step forward. That Sunday, I played to badly that not only was I embarrassed, but others were embarrassed for me. But months later I happened to discover that a friend of mine could play and play very well. Needless to say, I was angry at her. How could she let me do such a thing? Happily, she was ashamed; but she never did offer to play at church and I never did either; but others did. The experience taught me a valuable lesson. God does not leave himself without a witness, and I don't have to help just because I am the spouse.

Actually, this freed me to enjoy what I do at the church, because I am not coerced.

How about you? What have you learned from being the minister's spouse?


October 21, 2010

Is Your Church Open?

I returned today from visiting our two daughters: Sarah in Denver and Anna in Portland, Oregon. I was in Portland on Sunday so Anna and I walked the few blocks from her apartment to attend the First United Methodist Church.

I was delighted when I opened the bulletin and found this statement on a pamphlet insert: "As a Reconciling Congregation, members of this congregation have pledged to welcome and support all who want to worship with us, regardless of race, gender, class, or sexual orientation."

I know only two Reconciling Congregations in Indianapolis; and sadly, the church I attend is not one of them. Anna, 25, and Sarah 32, both "PKs" have seen many sides of the church. The comment I hear from them frequently is, "I don't like the organized church." Which always prompts their father to say, "What church is not organized?" Anyway, they note the seeming exclusivity of many mainline churches in the Midwest. Anna, however, said after this particular service, "I might come back to this church. I like it, and they include all."

I look forward to attending church when we travel because I am able to glimpse another section of the body of Christ and learn how ministry is interpreted and carried through. I, too, left that service on Sunday with the same thought as Anna. I would like to attend this church again. I do look forward to returning to Portland to see Anna and visit Portland First Church again.

God, I thank you for those churches who embrace all. Amen.

Jacquie Reed,
Fishers, Indiana

October 18, 2010

John Wesley DVD Now Available

Just wanted to alert you to a new DVD about John Wesley. It is called Wesley: A Heart Transformed Can Change the World.

The movie deals with Wesley's early ministry and his journey to America. It is directed by John Jackman and available at Cokesbury

Happy Viewing. As my friend said, "It will make you proud to be a Methodist."


Good News from a Growing Church

Dear Friends, Too often we only hear the bleak news and dire concerns about our denomination. But there are many places where the church is growing and thriving.

Yesterday (Sunday) we saw the unveiling of our church's master plan for the next 5 years. The architect showed the drawing and described the phases. Yes, it will cost a lot of money, but new facilities will help extend the ministries further into the community. It was very exciting and well received.

God is doing great things. And as we all know, God never leaves himself without a witness, and God never leaves his witnesses.

If you'd like to share the great things going on in your church(es), please comment or email a post. Christ also calls us to encourage one another.

Grace, Kathy
Clarksville, TN

October 14, 2010

Little Children, Little Problems: Big Children, Big Problems

As a new parent, this saying was little comfort: Little children, little problems; big children, big problems. But now that my kids are grown, I see its wisdom. But it made me wonder if this is also true: Little churches, little problems; big churches, big problems. What do you think?

Like many of you, we've served in churches of all sizes. I seems to me that the problems many big churches face is due, in part, to the sheer complexity of dealing with so many people. But for many little churches, their main issues revolve around just surviving--not enough young families, not enough resources, not enough help from the Conference. This is a really big problem for all of us if our Church is to be the hands and feet of Christ.

While being small is also no excuse for not being a faithful witness, it does mean that the old 80/20 principle just cannot apply--you know where 20% of the people do 80% of the work. I've known many vibrant small churches, but those are also the churches in which everybody helps. There just can't be any dead weight. These are also the churches that can and often do grow. And it takes a lot more than just an energetic, dedicated pastor and spouse.

So what are small struggling churches to do? What is your experience? Should they just be closed and give up? Or is there still a viable place for the small church?


October 13, 2010

Breast Cancer Awareness Hits Home

October is breast cancer awareness month and I really want to urge all of you to get your mammograms. It is so important to get your scheduled screening, because you just never know. This is especially true if you have breast cancer in your family.

A mammogram can reveal abnormalities that you can't feel from your self-exam.

And 2 weeks ago it did with me. So yesterday, I went for a biopsy--not a day at the beach, but not that bad either. Anyway, I'll find out something in the next few days.

Whatever the result, I have the assurance that it was found early--when I'd have the best chance of recovery.

So wear pink and support your local programs.

And I wouldn't mind your prayers either.

Grace, Kathy

October 11, 2010

Genesis One According to Kindergartners

This morning I taught the art rotation for Sunday school to a wiggly bunch of twelve kindergartners.

I read the story from a beautifully illustrated book and then posed the question: "If you were God, what would you create on day one, two, etc." Here are there answers:

Day one - grass, people, plants, cars
Day two - stores, animals, houses, day, night
Day three - sun, sky
Day four - books, tables, food, library, the Bible
Day five - mud, clothes, chairs, money
Day six - nuts, nutcracker, spiderwebs, paint, television
Day seven - rest

I was encouraged that they listened close enough to include a few items from the first chapter of Genesis--plants, animals, grass, people, day, night, sun, sky -- and then included a few items God neglected.

I really enjoyed getting into the world of these five and six year-olds and learn how they perceived the creation story.

God I thank you for the opportunity to be with little ones in your kingdom. Help me to listen to their thoughts and teach them as you direct. Amen.

Jacquie Reed
Fishers, Indiana

October 8, 2010

New Life for an Old Robe?

Last spring, Mike, my husband, purchased a new white robe to wear each Sunday. He brought his old robe home and I stuffed it into a box in the garage.

Last weekend I cleaned the garage -- a semi-annual project-- and I found his robe. I washed it. After it dried, I held the cloth close to my heart, thinking about all of the Sunday services, weddings, funerals, baptisms, communions that the robe witnessed. I just couldn't throw it away.

I thought perhaps I might make baptismal outfits for grandchildren yet to be born (our two daughters aren't even interested in marriage at ages 32 and 25), but there isn't enough fabric. I remember the last time he purchased a new robe, I cut twenty-- 4 inch squares, pieced to a little quilt and used it as a prayer cloth when I prayed for Mike.

Since I still have and use the prayer quilt, I need to find another idea. Any thoughts?

God, there are times when objects or clothing become holy because of their use in your kingdom. Guide my hands and thoughts how to preserve in a meaningful way the robe that Mike wore for over twenty years. Amen.

Jacquie Reed,
Fishers, Indiana

October 6, 2010

Standing on the Promises and/or Principles

Last night I watched the story of the leak of the Pentagon Papers and Daniel Ellsberg. We may recall the leak set a series of circumstances into motion that brought the Viet Nam war to an end and began the demise of the Nixon presidency. Even though I lived through those dark times, I didn't know the story from start to finish. It is both unnerving and inspiring. Whatever you think about what Ellsberg did, no one can doubt that he stood up for his principles and leaked the papers in an attempt to make our government accountable for its actions. In the PBS program, he said that even those who were against the war from the beginning, would not come forward to help expose the wrong doing. He was one person, but he was one who wanted to make things right.

Ellsberg risked everything for the truth as he saw it.

There are many great things about our Church, and we also have many people standing up for their principles. Sadly, however these principles, most notably about homosexuality, might divide our Church. It seems that some people see themselves on such high ground, on whatever side, that they cannot reach out to others.

Believe me, I am for principles. We cannot have law without them. But where is the place for grace and mercy in the midst of our imperfect human view of ourselves and others? I just keep coming back to what would Jesus do. Are we so sure of our knowledge that we are willing to destroy the faith of others?

As with most controversies, there are many sides. My prayer is for wisdom to temper justice with mercy and act upon our tightly held principles with grace.