Help Us Help Others

Help Us Help Others
Chaplaincy Clark County

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Just another day

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

I went to our Orchards CDC yesterday.

CDC stands for Child Development Center.

Most people do not know that the YMCA is one of the largest provider of childcare in the United States. We take care of a lot of kids.

Our Orchards center provides childcare for families that do not have a lot of extra money. In fact, it is safe to say that many of the families that call the Orchards CDC home do not have any extras. The CDC is located in the middle of a depressed area. It is safe to say that a majority of the families that utilize this CDC are on state assistance of some kind. Most of the kids that spend their days at the CDC come from single parent families, there are a number of foster kids that spend their days with us.

These are good kids.

Some of the kids that have little to nothing at home; some of these kids have parents working multiple jobs or spend their days looking for work. When they get home, these parents are depressed from a day filled with little joy. They are tired and rung out. Some of these kids have parents that came from dysfunctional families themselves.

There are kids that need someone to show them a different way to look at the world.

This is where the CDC comes in.

At the CDC, the staff works very hard with these kids; showing them how to put the Christian principles of love, respect, honesty, responsibility, and service into their everyday lives.

This is where I come in.

I get the opportunity to work with these kids.

I get the opportunity to spend time with these kids.

It isn’t glamorous work.

It doesn’t make the headlines.

My usual M.O. after I leave the CDC and these kids is to spend time alone with God, crying.

One of the hardest jobs is to let the kids know that they are going to be all right. That someone outside their family cares about them and they can receive positive love and attention.

There are kids that live in a world where they do not know what tomorrow will bring.

A world that is tough enough for an adult. A world that is overwhelming for a six-year boy or girl.

Lord, continue to give me strength. Continue to give me endurance. Continue to give me the courage to be in the midst of tough situations. Father, most of all thank you for being there with me in the midst, as you are with these kids.


Monday, August 19, 2013

The music of a bigger and better YMCA

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

You will have to forgive me, I am sure that I am typing louder than I need to.

We are under construction here at our YMCA. The construction crew is cutting concrete about fifteen feet from my desk. If you have ever been around a construction crew that is cutting concrete inside of a building, you know what I am talking about. If you haven’t, it is very loud. Thus I apologize for my louder than normal typing.

Growing up in Kansas was awesome, with many great sights. I am not saying that Kansas is flat or anything, but I once watched my dog run away from home for four days. Kansas also had many wonderful smells. I remember the first time I smelled a feedlot. A feedlot is a place where there are a lot of cattle all penned up on the final stage of their lives before they end up at a McDonalds, Wendy’s, Burger King…I looked over my dad and said, “What is that smell?” My dad looked at me and said, “That is the smell of money.”

I sat down at my desk this morning, to the music of a concrete saw. As I sat at my desk thinking of the things that I had on the schedule, I had the opportunity to call Brian. Brian is our Senior Director of Healthy Living. Because of the construction, his office is now an office to membership, healthy living, trainers, and storage. I was thinking about Brian. I was wondering how he was doing sharing what was at one time his space with so many people. I dialed the phone. It rings. Brian answers. He doesn’t say hello. He says, “My God, what is that noise!” I yelled into the phone so I could be heard, “It is the sound of a bigger and better YMCA.” He said, “Are you calling from your desk?” I yelled, “Yes.” Brian said, “My office is looking really good to me.”

I found some earplugs, so the sound was muffled and went to work.

Growing up on the farm taught me many things. One of the things I noticed was that after a while you stopped noticing certain smells.

Sitting at my desk, I began to notice that I did not mind the noise. I started to think of the noise much the same way that I thought about the noise when I had my motorcycle. I never minded the drone of the engine when I rode. As my perspective changed, I began to see the noise of the construction much the same way.

It became white noise.

White noise is a noise that is constant and tends to block everything else out. It allows one to meditate.
I began to meditate on being His hands and feet.

What does that look, taste and feel like. As I ruminated on this, John 4:1-26 came to mind. How Jesus even though He was very tired, worn-out from the day still took the time to talk to someone that no one else would talk to. How He, even though He was very tired, took the time to come into relationship with someone that was really an outcast. How Jesus, even though He could have said He was done for the day, showed someone compassion and love.

As I go through my day, I will remember this and not be so focused on me but keep my focus on others.

Father, thank you for giving me your nudge this morning and allowing me to see that you call me to be Your hands and feet. As I go through my day, continue to nudge me so that my heart will be broken for the things that break yours. I love you. Amen.


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

George Carlin's thoughts

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

Every so often I read something that is so poignant and beautiful that I just need to share.

The following was written by George Carlin, comedienne and observer. I hope you find it as thought provoking as I did.

An observation by George Carlin:

The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider Freeways, but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.

We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom.

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.

We've learned how to make a living, but not a life. We've added years to life not life to years. We've been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We've done larger things, but not better things.

We've cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We've conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We've learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less.

These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill. It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom. A time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete.

Remember to spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever.

Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side.

Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn't cost a cent.

Remember, to say, 'I love you' to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you.

Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person will not be there again.

Give time to love, give time to speak! And give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.

And always remember, life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by those moments that take our breath away.

Take a moment, let his words sink in. Let tomorrow be different than today.

Lord, give me the strength to be the change You want me to be in the world. Give me the endurance to finish well. Give me the courage to be Your hands and feet.


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

We found Jimmy Hoffa!

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

We found Jimmy Hoffa!

Those were the words from my friend Norm as we were cleaning out yet another office as the construction workers advanced on us.

It truly is amazing how much stuff accumulates if you just let it; you do not have to do anything special or make any conscious effort, stuff just accumulates.

As we were cleaning out yet another office, I started to think about our lives. How the environment that we live in has formed and transformed us. We did not need to do anything special. We did not have to make a conscious effort. Stuff just accumulated.

It really comes down to intentionality.

If I want to have a clean office, I must be intentional about picking up stuff. I must throw away things that I do not need or at least give them to someone who has a need for them.

If I want to have a clean thought life, I must be intentional about what it is that I am thinking.

As my thoughts turn to this subject, I realize that I really do not want to go through life unintentional. I do not want to find a “Jimmy Hoffa thought” hidden in the clutter and junk of a mind that has not been gone through and cleaned.

Paul tells us to set our minds on the things above. I will be intentional about that.

Father, help me to be intentional in all that I do. Help me to be intentional in my thought life and not let random thoughts clutter my mind.


Friday, August 9, 2013

We have family in town

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

We have family in town.

It has been a busy week.

At the "Y" we have been cleaning out spaces and moving offices in preparation for the renovation and remodel. I am beginning to think we could be on an episode of "The hoarders, buried alive." We are finding things tucked away in closets that we did not even know existed. We will be fresh and new. We will be fresh and new until we need to clean out again and find that we have hoarded again.

Our workday goes on as usual, I would say normal but that would imply that we have normal days. Anyone who has ever worked in the "Y" knows that YMCA's do not have normal days. The work day goes on as usual. In between our usual work, we clean and move.

We have family in town.

One of the things that I do as a chaplain is visit our camp. We have a beautiful YMCA camp located on the Sandy river.

Camp Collins is a magical place. A place where magic happens and friends last forever. They have a sign when you enter it reads, "please drive slowly, future leaders at play."

I visit the camp and check in with staff and volunteers. Making myself available to them.

We have family in town.

I took my family with me to Camp Collins, I would be there until 9:30pm and would not arrive back home until well after 10pm. We got to camp and checked in at the office. Zumi (everyone has camp names) is just leaving for the evening. I see how she is doing and get a prayer request. Zumi leaves and we continue into camp.

Even before you see any kids you can hear laughter. It is obvious the kids are having a great time.

We walk into the dining hall, dinner has just ended, the kids are cleaning up. Even during cleanup the kids are having fun. Spandex is supervising the cleanup, she sees me and comes up to talk, everything is good in her world, she wanted to tell that.

Bambam, Blitz, and Pike are getting everything ready for campfire.

Campfire is where the whole camp congregates in front of the outdoor stage with a campfire.

My good friend Michael McGinnis is there. Michael is an amazing guy. He is a gifted musician and singer. This is going to be an extra special night.

Campfire is full of singing, play acting and fellowship.

Campfire ends around 9:30pm and we leave after a series of goodbyes, God bless you's and what-not's.

The ride home was filled with excited conversation about camp, Michael (my sister remembers Michael from when he was a music star), and how God showed up that evening.

I am glad we have family in town.

So often we try to segregate our lives. We separate work from home. Friends from other friends. Home from the outside world.

It is good to have space, we call this healthy boundaries. I am not talking about healthy boundaries in this case. I am talking about sharing your world with others.

Jesus had healthy boundaries. He also shared his world with those around Him. In fact, He continues to share Himself with all of us.

I am glad we have family in town.

We also have family at camp.

If I am to be His hands and feet I must learn to share.

Father, give me the courage to share. Give me your eyes Lord. Give me Your heart. Give me the words so that I may share You with others. Amen.


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The only constant in life is change

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

The only constant in life is change.

We are starting phase 2 of our expansion at our YMCA.

The construction company is digging a big hole in the grassy area in front of our pool. We will have a lap pool available in about six months. We are excited about this since there is a lack of pools in our area.

We are in the midst of moving all the office spaces around since we will be remodeling and adding on to the entire building.

When we are done, we will have more space, more offerings, and more things for people in our community to do.

We are changing the look of our YMCA.

As people come in they ask, “What will it look like?”

We tell them what the physical building will look like.

We tell them what new things they can expect to see and do.

Our hope and desire is to be a place that, through this expansion, will be more able to positively impact our community.

Our hope and desire is to be a place that is more able to help people work through their stuff.

Our hope and desire is to be a place that heals the hurt and give hope to the hopeless.

The only constant in life is change.

As I think about change, I think about Christ.

Christ is the great change agent. He is the one who brings great hope, great healing to people’s lives.

As I think about Christ, I cannot help but think about what He would like to see be part of this expansion. For us not to come to Him and ask Him to bless what we are doing, but to come to Him and ask Him what He is currently blessing so that we can come along side of Him and do what He would like us to do.

As I think about Christ, I cannot help but think about what He would like me to do.

Lord, I come to you asking simply, “What is it you would have me do today?” Show me Your will that I may do what you would have me do. I do not come to ask you to bless what I want to do, but only to do your will. I wait for You. I am listening for You. I am attentive to Your nudges. As you continue to shape and change me Lord I thank You for being patient with me. Amen


Monday, August 5, 2013

The little river behind my house

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

I was standing in the river with Abe again this weekend, go figure.

I like rivers.

The water moves in rivers.

Ponds are nice.

Lakes are cool.

Rivers are awesome.

Ponds are nice to laze around in, and by.

Lakes are fun if you have a boat.

Rivers are special.

Rivers move.

The little river behind my house is not big, nor is it deep. The water is crystal clear. It has a rocky bottom that has different depth holes in it. Some hole you can sit in up to your waist. Other holes you can sit in up to your chest; there are some holes that you can sit in that are over your head.

As I was standing in the river with Abe, a leaf floated by. I watched as the leaf went one way, then another as it floated down the river. Sometimes it would spin gently in the current, other times it would come to a rapid and careen through the torrent of water. Once it was through the rapid it would come to a pool of slow moving water and spin gently in the pool once again.

I started to see a metaphor of life in this leaf floating down the river behind my house. As I watched this leaf going on its way, I put myself in the leaf. How life has moments of calmness, when everything seems to be in order. Then the current speeds up, at first we do not even notice, then we see that things are going faster, and faster. Sometimes it is all of a sudden and we find ourselves in the rapids of life. When we are in the rapids of life it is hard to see when the rapids end. Then we come out of the rapids to a gentle pool where we can spin slowly, allowing us to take life in. The process tends to repeat itself as we go through life. No two rapids are the same, but they are rapids non-the-less.

I was in the midst of contemplating this, as I stood in the river behind my house.

My thoughts turned to formation and transformation.

Formation and transformation in Christ is more like a river and less like a pond or lake.

Formation and transformation in Christ is not a stagnant process. It is a process that is constantly moving.

We are not sitting in one place.

We are either moving towards Christ or away from Him.

We are either forming and being transformed into Christlikeness or we are forming and being transformed away from Him.
We are not sitting still.

We are on the river of life.

A thought I can ask myself is, “Which way am I forming?”

Father, as I travel down this river of life help me. It is easy to contemplate you in the gently motion of the slow water. What I ask is that you help me see you in the rapids too. As I endeavor to keep my focus on You Lord. Give me nudges when my attention drifts. I have been saved by your Grace. Help me to grow in You. Amen.


Saturday, August 3, 2013

Abe, a river and Cheetos

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

Swimming in the river.

I seem to find myself swimming in the river behind my house a lot lately, almost everyday. Actually, I do more standing in the river than swimming; standing with a bag of Cheetos Cheese Puffs in my hand.

Abe, my dog, does not like water.

Abe, my dog loves Cheetos Cheese Puffs.

Abe is a Bassidor Retriever. A name I gave him when I first saw him at the rescue shelter nine years ago. Abe is half Bassett Hound, half Golden Retriever and half something else.

One of the best things that I love about being a theologian is, I don't have to worry about math.

Normally, Abe stays well away from water, I guess the Golden half is outdone by the Bassett half. If I get into the river with a bag of Cheetos, all bets are off. No sooner do I get into the river and Abe is right there next to me, paddling his big Bassett feet, waiting for a Cheese puff. Laurie goes down river about 20-yards with a handful of puffs and Abe swims back and forth, eating cheese puffs.

It is actually quite fun.

I like to watch Abe swim. He is really good at it.

Abe likes his cheese puff / swim game.

When I come home from the YMCA, Abe meets me at the door all excited. He leads me to the pantry (right where the puffs are), barks until I get the bag of puffs out. He takes me to the bedroom, where my swimming suit is. He waits for me to put on my river shoes. Then he runs to the river, waiting for his puffs.

I get in the river, and swim time is on.

It has been fun watching Abe get over his fear of water. I do not know, but it seems something must have happened when he was a pup to cause this fear.

The water is cold and clear in the river behind our house. I can see Abe paddling when he swims. His stroke is not anxious, or hurried, it is a slow, powerful stroke. He actually likes to let the current take him, only stroking occasionally. He is relaxed.

As I stood in the river yesterday, watching Abe, my thoughts turned to Christ. How He can take us to places, confront us with our fears, show us that with Him we can overcome these things that inhibit us and truly live a fearless life.

I am reminded of something Jesus said:

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” (Mark 10:27 ESV)

Father, thank you for your love. Thank you for loving me. Thank you being right there with me during the scary times. Thank you for getting into the water first to show me it is ok saying, "Come on in, the water is just fine." Thank you for being gentle when I doubt You. When I respond, "I don't know if I can do this." Thank you for encouraging and empowering me when I am weak and think it is impossible. I love you. Amen