Here is a blog entry written by Amy Kimble, our CYAK youth leader, written from her blog in November 2011. It's a good testament to God's provision and the faith we can have in his goodness. Enjoy!
Last week I took a walk with my mother-in-law, Helen, on a beach in Rhode Island. This beach is her favorite spot to take us when we come home, and she's made a point to bring all three of us (Jordan, his brother Chris, and me) to this place this year.
Helen and I talked a lot on this beach, as well as took over 400 pictures. I should mention she loves to capture all of us on film, too :) She asked me about everything: our new life in Alaska, new friends, new job, and grad school. I shared with her how peaceful I feel about living up here and how much God has blessed Jordan and I since we moved. Although it has been such an emotional year, looking back, I definitely see God's provision through and through. I shared about how much my trust in God has grown this year as I've left a job, moved across the country, and started a new job that doesn't pay until I fund-raise. In every aspect, God has placed me in situations where I am left with no choice but to trust Him with the next step.
As we were walking back, I started opening up about how sometimes I feel pressure from outside sources to get a teaching job, to earn a retirement, to start "thinking about the future". I feel inward pressure that I'm not doing the right thing because I am not earning any money, and yet I want to go to grad school debt and loan free. I sometimes feel guilt in my gut that I am not contributing to our marriage financially, and I should be. I'm sure some of you have had these feelings before, as they are valid to the world we live in today.
But if I am truly going to claim I am a Christian and minister to people, I need to ignore all doubt and guilt in my life. They are not from God, they are from Satan. Point blank. So as we're walking I share with her how I am just trusting that God is going to provide for my future. That He is leading me to places that are good and fruitful, not harmful. He is opening my doors, as I ask Him to, and He walks beside me as I go through them. I have no reason to doubt that fundraising support will come in, that people are praying about CYAK right now and deciding whether or not they want to give, that tuition is going to be taken care of, and some day, so will my retirement. I just have. to. trust.
And then Helen and I look down in the sand... and there is a quarter. Not a shiny quarter. A quarter that has clearly been soaking in the salty ocean and washed ashore. I pick it up, thinking, "huh, that's unusual" but not really anything more. Until about 20 feet later we find another quarter.... and then a dime. "What is going on?!" we say to each other. Helen grabs my arm and tells me we have to stop and pray right now. That God is showing us something and we need to pray for God to open our eyes and hearts to whatever it is He has in store for us. She prayed for prosperity, that God would bless us, that we would be faithful and trust. After she finished praying we continued our walk and found two more quarters.
Friends, let me be so bold as to say that I do believe God was with us on that beach last Monday and He was listening to our hearts and showing us how much He loves us. I know that $1.10 we found that day will multiply beyond imagination in my lifetime. And I am so joyful that He is walking beside me today, tomorrow, and every day. And He can walk beside you, too. You just have to invite Him.
Below is an excerpt from Helen's current book project that she has been gracious enough to share with us. Enjoy!
Most of us look at our reflections in mirrors all day long--even after that first sleepy morning look into the bathroom mirror. We look at mirrors that were given to us by our parents or our teachers, our bosses and siblings. We carry these mirrors into our relationships, our work places and our faith communities. Usually the first mirror that comes to mind is the one that shows off our flaws, our imperfections, even our habitual sins. The look of that mirror encourages us to mask everything that does not feel right; or begin on a self-improvement plan to find the perfect self; or simply to give up and accept that we are defined by the things that are not right about the way we look, or act, what we know or how we feel about ourselves or others.
However, each of us has been given another mirror. It is the mirror that we received from a loving grandmother or nurturing parent, a favorite teacher, a close friend, or a pastor. When my pastor sat down alongside my hospital bed when I was an angry twelve year old, he had every reason to resent having to visit me, or at the very least, pity me. But instead he offered another mirror that gave me a picture of myself I might have missed altogether. When he offered me that view of myself--he blessed me. What he saw was someone who was bright and intelligent. While others brought stuffed animals to comfort me, he brought me books to challenge me. What he saw was a glimpse of a woman that I had not yet met, the person God created me to become. Through his eyes of blessing, I caught a glimpse of her as well.
Just for a moment now to lay down the first view that shows each blemish, and pick up this mirror that sees another side of who you truly are. The look of blessing offers you a glimpse not only of what is but leans into what might be. It is clear-eyed enough to see what is wrong, but it always highlights the gift that you are, the image of God that might be tarnished but is right there in plain sight in your own life.
Looking at yourself in the lens of those who love you best—what do you see? Do you see your loving nature, your sense of humor, your bright intelligence, your generosity, your gift of healing or teaching or listening? Sometimes the look of blessing reveals the more hidden fruits of the spirit—a genuine affection for others, or an exuberance about life; a serenity of spirit or a willingness to stick with things; perhaps a sense of compassion, a conviction that a basic holiness permeates all things, loyalty to your commitments, or an ability to direct your energies wisely and not force your way in life. (Galatians 5:22-26 The Message)
The more we look through the mirror that magnifies our fears, our inadequacies, our unattractive features, and even our outright sin, the further we are from the look of blessing. Perhaps that mirror’s view began as an almost casual, seemingly innocent assumption that you were the silly one, or the less pretty, not as athletic, or as smart or as good as someone else. Comparison seems often to be bred into the bone of each of us until we find ourselves trapped by the way we look in relation to others and not who we were created to be in Christ. When we spend our time looking to the right or the left, it is ourselves that ends up in the center—and striving to be better than someone else, we become completely self-centered. And there is little opportunity for God to speak not only truth into our lives, but God’s own longing that we might live into all what he hoped for us all along.
Each of us has the same choice to receive the look of blessing from God—or not. And we also have the choice to offer the look of blessing. The choices come in our churches, in our homes, in our offices and in our schoolrooms. They happen every day with church members and family, with classmates and friends, with strangers and even with enemies. We can choose to bless—or not. Cursing or blessing—the choice is ours but let’s be clear that one leads us toward God’s love and peace and hope; the other choice leads us away from that same Presence.
Because my mother continued to live in the small Wisconsin community where I grew up, I continued to see my former pastor even after he had retired from the church of my childhood. Those meetings were always filled with the same look of love and blessing that he offered to me so many years ago. Toward the end of his life, he was having dinner with his wife at the restaurant where my mother and I were just being seated. By then I was a minister, a wife, and mother of three children. When he saw me my pastor friend came over to greet me. A tall man, he stood behind me, placed his hands on my shoulders, leaned his long frame over me, and asked, “How’s the Reverend Mother?”
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13
Dear ECCAK family,
May 1st has been a day set aside for a day of prayer and fasting in the Evangelical Covenant Churches of Alaska.
One year ago the General Council put forth a resolution that was affirmed at the annual meeting. The purpose of the resolution was to establish an annual day of prayer and fasting for two reasons: to pray for deliverance from the peril of suicide in our communities and for healing from the pain of those we have lost already. In addition, the resolution also calls us to put to death those things that belong to our earthly nature. Below are two important sections from the resolution.
We in the Evangelical Covenant Church of Alaska further RESOLVE to come into the bond of unity and fervently commit to a day of fasting and prayer annually for our children and our families that we may be delivered from the peril of suicide in our communities and be healed from the pain that we endure from those whom we have lost already.
We further RESOLVE to put to death whatever belongs to our earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. We RESOLVE to rid ourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from our lips. (Col 3:5 & 8)
It is my express desire and invitation to call for your wholehearted participation. Suicide has been described as an epidemic in this state, we have heard increased dialogue about it recently, and millions of dollars have been spent to address this issue. We are aware of one too many stories of loss – there is hardly a person who has not been touched by it in some way. But we are ambassadors of the good news of the Savior who has conquered the grave, of a living hope in Christ Jesus. My hope is that the prayers lifted up will spur us on in love and good deeds to shine the light of Christ in the face of the darkness of death, not just on May 1, but every day.
Please communicate this to your congregation or ministry. Included is the original resolution along with a flier that you can post in your church or wherever you may deem fitting to help get the word out.
Because of Christ,
We hope we'll have many contributors from our congregation. I imagine we will have regular and occasional contributors. If you'd like to contribute a poem, a photo, a devotion or anything that you believe enhances our life together, please contact Pastor Criss to learn about posting.