Help Us Help Others

Help Us Help Others
Chaplaincy Clark County

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Land of Misfit Toys

Good morning,
I pray the day is finding you well.
This morning was just another morning at our YMCA.

The giving tree tags arrived, this sent Norm and I on the annual, “Where did we put our Christmas tree?” hunt. We eventually found it, cleared an area in the Welcome Center space, and started putting the pretend Christmas tree together. It was the usual affair; setting it up, getting everything just right, finding out that the top half of the tree is not lit, finding the problem, fixing the problem, patting each other on the back for our obvious mechanical electrical skills, realizing that we still have to put the skirt around the tree, crawling around on the floor getting the skirt “just right”, realizing that the tree is not in the right spot, moving the tree, crawling around on the floor again getting the skirt “just right” again, placing the “giving tags” on the tree, and watched the tags start to disappear.
Carlos’ Thanksgiving meal created a buzz with the staff.

We started talking about how fun it would be to open the YMCA to others on Thanksgiving and feeding those that have no place to go for Thanksgiving. Did I mention we have a wonderful Family here at the “Y”.

I am reminded of the Christmas story when Buddy the Elf is looking for his family. He comes to a place where all these toys live. They are not perfect toys and for whatever reason have been discarded. It is the land of misfit toys. The thing about these toys is that they know that they are not perfect and through their imperfections they exude love and respect to those they encounter. Eddie, our E.D. dais one day, “We are just a bunch of misfit toys.” We know we are not perfect, we are working on our stuff as we help others.

I am reminded of something the Apostle Paul once said to another bunch of misfit toys:

If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. (Colossians 3:1-2)

And this is what he meant:

12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. 14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. 15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. (Colossians 3:12-17)

I for one am glad that I am a misfit toy living and working with a bunch of mist toys.


Sunday, November 25, 2012

A Thanksgiving meal

Good morning,
I pray the day is finding you well.

It is Sunday morning, Laurie and I returned from our parent's house late last night.

We have had a whirl wind last few days. Every Thanksgiving we go down to southern Oregon to visit my mother and father, spending time talking, walking the beaches, and reconnecting; it is always a good time. The round trip is a smidge over 600 miles. I had taken Wednesday off to get ready for the trip. I only had a couple of things to do at the YMCA wednesday.

I got up, went to a meeting and then went into the "Y".

I have been working with a family whose 12 year-old daughter has cancer; she is terminal, they have already amputated her right leg and she is in hospice care at home. When she got sick, her mother could not take it and left; leaving her husband with a 12 year-old, a 9 year-old, and a 1 year-old. He is devastated on many fronts.

I had just finished talking with the father and making sure that this family would be ok while I was gone for a few days when the Welcome Center staff came into my office with a dilemma. Carlos, a developmentally delayed man whose mother had just died a couple of months ago had nowhere to go for Thanksgiving. Carlos has been doing a good job of being a grown-up since his mother's death. We helped him get into subsidized housing, something he could afford, and he has been managing his finances well. He comes into the YMCA everyday and spends time with us.

The Welcome Center staff does an amazing job of connecting with our members and Carlos is no exception. They asked him what he was doing for Thanksgiving and he replied, "Nothing, I have nowhere to go for Thanksgiving." Then in true Carlos fashion, he turned and went upstairs to walk on the treadmill. The staff comes to me, recounts the interaction and asks, "What do we do?" It would have been easy to say, "We are all busy, and while this is not going to be a good day for Carlos, what can we do?"

But we didn't. We did some quick thinking, and decided to have Thanksgiving at the YMCA with Carlos. The "Y" would be open from 7am-1pm on Thanksgiving. First, I had to see if Carlos thought this would be a good idea.

I went upstairs and asked Carlos, "Would you like to come to the "Y" tomorrow and have Thanksgiving here?" He said, "Yes." I asked him, "Do you like Turkey?" He said, "Yes." I asked him, "Do you like rolls?" He said, "Yes." I asked him, "Do you like mashed potatoes and gravy?" He said, "I like mashed potatoes, but not gravy."

I ordered a turkey dinner from a local store, had it ready to pick up at 10am on Thanksgiving, Eddie said he could pick it up, and the staff would share a meal with Carlos on Thanksgiving.

I left the YMCA around noon.

As I sit here this morning, getting ready for church, thinking about what I am thankful for; I am thankful for a bunch of people that look at life with Jesus glasses on. I am thankful for a group of people that think of others and have compassion. I am thankful for the YMCA.

When I have my quiet time with Christ in the mornings, He will nudge me with things. This morning He is nudging me to tell the YMCA team at the Clark County Family YMCA that He is pleased. He is also nudging me to let them know that the work is important and there are others that will need us, others that we do not even know yet. How do we make Christ happy? One acted of Love at a time.

Of all the things I am thankful for I am most thankful for the Love Christ has shown me.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Good morning,
I pray the day is finding you well.

I am sitting at a small table in a cabin house in North Carolina; more specifically, I am at the Blue Ridge Assembly at Black Mountain North Carolina. Blue Ridge Assembly is a YMCA retreat center built in 1906, and is quite a beautiful place. I am here with a number of other YMCA people learning how others have put on CLC's, CLC stands for Christian Leadership Conference.

I have been listening to people.

I have been listening to people talk about the difficulties they have been having getting people to come to CLC's. As I listened, it appears to be that people's lives have become to busy. They have so many things on their plate that they have to make a choice, but that is nothing new to us, life is busy, and we do have to decide where we want to spend our time; it comes down to priorities.

I have been listening to people.

I have been listening to people talk about Post-Christian culture / Pre-Christian Culture; those that have either decided that Christianity is irrelevant, for whatever reason; be it that they find the message not compelling, or have been hurt by the words spoken by Christians; or they have not heard of Christ at all.

I have been listening to people.

I like to listen to people, there is so much I can learn from listening.

I am reminded of something my father said. He said, "If your mouth is open you aren't learning anything." I often wonder what I missed learning about merely because I had something to say.

The Bible verse that the YMCA uses is John 17:21.
that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. (John 17:21 NKJV)

The first thing that I notice when I look at this verse is that it starts in the middle of a sentence; this causes me to wonder what the other part of the sentence says. It is like I have not heard all of what Christ was saying, as if I was not doing a good job listening. This wonderment causes me to look at what was said before, this is what it says.

“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; (John 17:20 NKJV)

Jesus had just finished praying for His Disciples (I do not pray for these alone), and began praying for the rest of the world (but also for those who will believe in Me through their word).

"Through their word" haunts me.

If people have heard words from those that claim His name and because of these words have turned away, that is a very sad thing. I wonder what words people are using?

I have been listening to people.

I wonder what it would look like if we actually listened to people before we used words.

I wonder if more people would come to CLC's if we listened to people before we said something.

I wonder.