Help Us Help Others

Help Us Help Others
Chaplaincy Clark County

Monday, August 7, 2017

The River and the YMCA

Good morning,
I pray the day finds you well.

It has been hot, really hot.

I came home from the YMCA and the river was calling my name. I am blessed to live by a river. In the mornings I sit out by it and drink my coffee. This is the time that God and I have our best conversations.

As I looked at the river I had a hard time seeing anything in it. The water is crystal clear and the bottom is rocky, a typical mountain river. I can see the bottom clearly, but unless the salmon are running I don't see any fish. I always knew they were there, but just couldn't see them.

My kids, and grandkids were at the house they other day and my oldest son Brandon bought a snorkel mask. We had a great time in the river that day.

I came home from the YMCA the other day and the temperature was 109. I got into my swim suit, grabbed the facemask and headed for the river.

I got in, put the facemask on and went for a swim. When I looked under the water with the facemask I was immediately struck by the amount of life in the river. Fish were all around me, crayfish wandering on the bottom.

The river was full of life.

I was struck by the fact of when I would sit on the bank of the river I couldn't see much. But, once I dove in, looked beneath surface, I was surrounded by life.

Then God said, "That is the way life is. So often people sit on the bank of life and complain that I am not doing anything, or worse, I don't exist. All they have to do is get in the river of life, take a look around and see everything that is going on."

A couple of thousand years ago, when talking of the things of God, a guy named Paul said, "We see through a glass darkly."

Much in the same way we cannot see beneath the surface of a river. The fact that we cannot see all the life in a river while we sit on the bank does not mean it isn't there.

My thoughts turned toward the YMCA.

Now I am not going to say that all "Y's" are this way, I can only speak to the "Y" were I live.

When people come in, or drive by, They can see we have a gym; it is a place were they could workout, they could even go swimming. What they cannot see is all the other things that are going on. In a way they look at our "Y" much the same as I had been looking at the river by my house.

It is only when a person takes the time to look under the surface of our "Y" do they get a chance to see the "life" going on in our YMCA.

People being healed from depression and anxiety.
Kids at risk for hunger being fed, everyday.
Kids healing from abuse through swim lessons.
Homeless people getting help.

People getting a glimpse of God in a place that they would not expect to find it.

I love our YMCA, it is a good place.

A place where the hurt find healing and the hopeless find hope.



Wednesday, July 20, 2016

My tent never looked better

My tent never looked better, is still in it's bag.

Chuck and I are sitting in an airstream RV with a front porch, awning, and little airstream-trout lights strung across the front. There is a mountain thunderstorm going on, lightning is flashing across the sky. Yet, we are safe and sound sitting on our front porch watching the action.

We left Grand Junction yesterday, stayed the night in Cotopaxi, Colorado, then headed to Crystal River, Colorado. Tonight, we are relaxing in style. When we called and there were no tent sites available we almost did not come this direction, but then they said we have this old RV you can use. It didn't sound too appealing but we thought we would give it a try. We are so glad we did.

We rode through some of the most beautiful country that we had ever been in. We crossed mountain ranges and summits. We rode into Aspen and saw the huge homes, the airport stacked with private jets. Of course this got me to thinking.

We don't have any members at our YMCA that have a private jet, I doubt if we have any that have a home like the ones I saw in Aspen. I thought about the staff that has forgone this kind of life for one that give back to those that have virtually nothing.

I started thinking about our Youth Development team.

They do things like, After school enrichment or ASE. ASE is a program that works with kids after school in the schools. They do things like Lego Engineering, cooking, and other life skill training. They work with the kids that others don't have time for. They provide programming that schools have dropped due to budget cuts.

These people could do just anything, they have degrees they are people of capacity, yet they spend their days working with underprivileged kids.

I began to think about how at first I wasn't too thrilled about sleeping in an old RV. But, when Chuck and I arrived we saw that the KOA had worked with it and turned it into a great place. They had taken something somebody else did not want and made it beautiful. Our Youth Development Department does the same thing everyday. They take a kid that somebody else does have time for and works with them. They make beautiful people.

I'd rather spend my life with them then ten minutes with somebody who would rather spend money on themselves. Aspen is a beautiful place.

The Clark County Family YMCA is a beautiful place filled with beautiful people.

I just thought you should know.



Sunday, July 17, 2016

We stopped at the junction and it as Grand

Good Morning,
I pray the day finds you well.

Yes, we made it to Grand Junction Colorado.

We left Twin Falls Idaho Yesterday and rode into Grand Junction Colorado last night.

We rode through Salt Lake City and hung a left at Spanish Fork Utah. Once again I was left wondering, what is a Spanish fork? I guess I will have to wait for Demi, my admin assistant to tell me. After all she told me what Biggs Junction was. I sat there on my bike wondering, "What is a Spanish fork and how is that different from a German fork, or an Irish fork, or even a dutch oven? Hmmmm, things to ponder.

We saw many beautiful things in God's creation along the way. By the time we arrived at Grand Junction we were rode worn and very tired. It struck me how many people come into our YMCA feeling the same way. Life has a way of wearing you out at times.

People come into our "Y" and want to join. They say the want to get into better shape or lose a few pounds. The membership desk will ask them some open ended questions and many times these same people end up in my office. You see, there is a reason they ended up in their current in the first place.

Life has a way of wearing you out.

A homeless couple came in a while back. Life had been very hard on them. All they wanted was a shower. I came into relationship with them and before long I had offered them a 3-month membership, chaplaincy footing the bill. I introduced them to one of our healthy living people, her name is Mattie.

Mattie runs a program called "adaptive fitness." This is a program that was the brainchild of my friend Randy Scheel. He was a board member and owned a rehabilitation center for those that needed physical rehabilitation. We dreamed of the YMCA being the third space for people that needed extra help. Life is hard, people get hurt. People go to hospitals and hospitals do a good job of patching them up. Then, they send them to a rehab center. The rehab center works with them until the insurance runs out and then gives these people some exercises to do at home. Many times this is not enough. Randy and I dreamed of sending these people to the "Y" so they could completely heal, Mind, Spirit, Body.

Randy passed away last year. He never saw this come to fruition.

After Randy passed a young lady by the name of Mattie showed up. She had a special gift for people that needed adaptations to their fitness goals. Needless to say, Adaptive Fitness was born.

So I buy this homeless couple, their names are Loyd and Falon, a membership. I introduce them to Mattie. Mattie starts working with them.

Falon left my this note a few days ago, "Chaplain Roger, thank you so much for your help.I feel so blessed. For the first time I feel like a beautiful wife for my husband.. God Bless you and the YMCA."

I contemplated this note as we rode through Utah. I looked around and saw landscape that at first looked barren and hard. As I continued to look I saw how God was molding and shaping His creation. I thought about all the people that come to the "Y". I thought about how Mattie works with these people and helps God mold them. Seeing a girl come into the "Y" in a wheelchair and walking out all of her own accord a short time later is an amazing thing to see.

God is doing great things, all we have to do is have our eyes open to Him to see them.


Saturday, July 16, 2016

We both fell at the same time

Good morning,
I pray the day finds you well.

That's right Chuck and I made it to Twin Falls Idaho!

It was a short jaunt, a quick 500 miles.

I started the day saying goodbye to the river by my house. I gave Abe a pet, then gave Laurie a hug and a kiss. I told her I loved her and missed her already, then rode away.

We traveled highway 14 down the Gorge, or is it up? I'm never quite sure. Had breakfast in Bingen, went over the Biggs junction Bridge, I always wonder why places get their names, I will have to look that up one of these days. Then rode I-84 all the way to Twin Falls.

I spent the day contemplating the Ignatius prayer of examen. The prayer goes something like this, "Lord show me where I have loved today, show me where I failed to love."

The best thing about the ride is I spend my days alone with God and every evening Chuck and I share what He showed us that day.

As I listened to my Father gently show me ways I could do a better job loving, while at the same time giving me praise for the love I did well. I started to think about our Child Watch department and how they spend their days loving kids. Just like the rest of us they have their personal problems, some more than others. Many have the problem of trying to live on minimum wage. None of this matters when they are with the kids, their focus is on loving them. They know that the time the kids spend with them may be the only time they are shown unconditional love. They do a great job. A person could learn a lot about loving just by being with them in Child Watch.

The person in charge of them is Allyce. It is her leadership and teachings that make them who they are. Allyce could be anywhere but she is at the YMCA. It is her passion, her mission.

Her whole team is on the "transformation Team," I will talk more about that later, but it is pretty cool.

As I wander down the rode of life I am glad that I know a person like Allyce. She makes us all try a bit harder.

Thank you Allyce for all you do.


Friday, July 15, 2016

A stressed, blessed chaplain

Good morning,
I pray the day finds you well.

I didn't sleep well last night.

This is the morning that Chuck and I start our ride. The last year has been a good year. A year filled with joy, challenges, and heartache. My wife's illness was rough.The death of my brother was hard. My mother' bought with cancer was scary. At the same time, watching God do His thing, having people heal, giving them hope, seeing His love in action was something amazing to watch.

I didn't even get to begin packing for the trip until last night. The weeks preceding the trip were very busy. Days that did not end until after 9pm. Yesterday, Laurie's car broke down. I had to get that fixed before I could leave. All this to say that I was a bit stressed. I think Laurie is ready for me to go on my trip. A stressy husband is no fun, or so I am told!

This morning I woke to the thought of God's blessing on my life. He shows this in many different ways.

The love of my wife.

The love of my kids.

The love of my dog.

There are other ways He shows His love for me.

All the amazing volunteers that are feeding hungry kids while I'm gone. Without them I wouldn't be able to leave.

The amazing YMCA staff that spend long hours everyday loving on people. We have a saying at our YMCA, "Teaching a community to truly love its neighbor." The YMCA family truly does this. That is what we do. I am blessed to be part of it.

The chaplaincy board that works tirelessly to help create opportunities for us to be His hands and feet.

I went to bed last night a bit stressed.

This morning I awoke feeling blessed.

I will spend my ride practicing the Ignatius prayer of examan.

We have another saying at our "Y", "It's not the challenge that defines you, it's your response."

I will practice a response of love to this prayer.

To all the staff and volunteers, thank you for all you do. Pray for me on this trip.

I will be praying for you.



Tuesday, July 14, 2015

A fly by of Pluto

Good morning,
I pray the day finds you well.

I woke up this morning thinking about the movie “Men in Black.” More specifically, I was contemplating the scene in the movie where Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones are sitting on a park bench. It is the morning after Will realizes that we are not alone in the universe, more importantly, we are not alone on earth; there are aliens living among us.

Will is just sitting there dazed and speechless. Tommy Lee says, “500 years ago, we knew the sun revolved around the earth. 400 years ago, we knew the earth was flat. 50 years ago, we knew we only had 8 planets. Yesterday, you knew we were alone in the universe. I wonder what we will know tomorrow?”

I always loved that line in the movie. I always wondered what I will learn and know.

I just got my National Geographic Magazine. Right on the cover is a picture of Pluto (The planet, not the dog). I remember a few years ago when Pluto’s designation had changed from planet to dwarf planet. When I watched the news on T.V. the whole scene from “Men in Black” came to mind, obviously I think about that scene often. I thought how the scene would change today, ““500 years ago, we knew the sun revolved around the earth. 400 years ago, we knew the earth was flat. 50 years ago, we knew we only had 8 planets. Yesterday, we knew there were 9 planets in our solar system. Yesterday, you knew we were alone in the universe. I wonder what we will know tomorrow?”

Every time I think about the movie, “Men in Black” and that particular scene, I cannot help but think about Christ, about God. A line in the movie would go something like this, “500 years ago we knew there was God. 400 years ago we knew there was God. 50 years ago we knew there was God. Tomorrow we will know there is God.”

While science is ever finding out knew things and discovering cool stuff, while our knowledge of the world around us may be ever changing. I take solace in the knowledge in the fact that God was the same yesterday as he is today and will be tomorrow.

My prayer is, that as we go through our lives, we continually find out knew things that God and Christ have to show us. Let us not be so focused on trying to see the big things in our world that we miss all the beautiful little things that Christ is doing in our lives.

It is true we are not alone in the universe. God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit are here with us.


Sunday, July 5, 2015

Born on the Fourth of July

Good morning,
I pray the day finds you well.

Born on the fourth of July.

I do not know to many people that can say that. As a matter of fact, I only know one person. This person is my wife's father, Jim. Yesterday, he turned 87-years-old. Obviously, yesterday was the fourth of July. Jim is an amazing man. He spent his life helping people. He raised great kids that all do their best to continue his legacy. The family is very close and very loving, another testament to Jim's life.

We had a scare a while back, we did not know if Jim would be around for this birthday, making this birthday especially special. We had a wonderful day filled with food, conversations, and laughter. The day ended with an amazing fireworks show that we could see right from the house.

Jim lives in Minnesota. Laurie and I flew in a few days ago. We will be flying out tonight. We normally do not make the trip for his birthday. We rationalize this by saying things like, "It is to far to go for such a short time." or "It costs to much." Then something happens and we make the trip.

As I sit here this morning, I cannot help but to think why we wait for a life event to make the effort to show someone how much they mean to us? As a pastor and chaplain I see this often. Usually in the form of a funeral or memorial. Throngs of people coming together to tell other people how much this person had meant to them and tell stories about them. I always ask myself, "Why do we wait until someone dies to tell other people how much they meant to us?"

I have been guilty of this too. We get so focused on the future that we really do not make the effort to do the truly important things in the present. In effect, we have been sleep walking through our present life as we kept our eyes focused on our future. We have put off things of the present so that we could do something down the road.

Laurie and I had a health scare a while back, it shook us awake. We still make plans for the future. We still keep an eye to the future, but we also take a good hard look at today. Somethings we just cannot do, we do not have the money or whatever to get it done right now so those are the things we plan for the future. Other things we can do today and instead of putting these things off for tomorrow we do them today.

One of the things that we can do today and it doesn't cost any money is to tell the people in your life how much they mean to you, how much you love them. We do not stop there, we do our best to show them how much they mean to us, how much we love them.

Born on the fourth of July.

Dad (Jim) had his birthday yesterday and we had the ability to fly to Minnesota and see him, so we did.

My prayer is that we all shake the sleep from our eyes and wake up. That we do not wait until a loved one is gone before we make the effort to say how much they mean to us, to say we love them. One thing that Christ taught us was to take the time, when the time arises. To not put off for tomorrow what you can do today. What would the world look like if we spent more time focused on showing our love for those in our lives and less time complaining about the things that we don't? Our YMCA has a saying, "Promote what you love, instead of complaining about the things you hate."

Jim, spent his life promoting the things he loved. His behavioral modeling has rubbed off. He is a great role model. this leads to my next question, "What role am I modeling?" my question to you is, "What role are you modeling?"

Something to ponder.