This morning I was trying to figure out what to wear. Warmth was important. There was sweater that was just calling out my name. I've had it for quite a while. An oldie but definitely a goodie!
It reminded me of the time I tried to give it away. That's right. I unsuccessfully tried to give it away. I was leading a group on getting closer to God. The details are a little fuzzy, but we were talking about letting go of our possessions. It was all about simplicity.
The book we were reading gave some ideas on working toward living simply. One was to give away a possession that someone else admires to find out how attached we are.
It's one thing to talk about it. Someone in the group joked around about liking my sweater. After that night I really thought about it. Was I ready to do it?
I really liked the sweater. But I knew what I had to do. I washed it and gave it to her the following Sunday. I'll admit it. It was harder than I thought it would be.
It was a test. God wanted to see what I'd do. I did it, and yet I learned I had an attachment to something that wasn't all that important.
I tried to give away my sweater. She gave it back. She didn't like it as much after trying it on.
Now I have a great reminder every time I wear the sweater. I haven't arrived. I've always got some work to do in my relationship with God.
How has God recently shown you that you've got work to do?
About a year and three months ago a big thing happened to us. We moved into a house in Vermont. It’s more than a house though. It’s our home. I remember unpacking some wind chimes that we received as a wedding present. That wonderful sunny day was in 2004. I remember thinking to myself, “Those chimes were waiting for this home.” It was a comforting thought. We had never before had a place to hang them.
This is the first time in my adult life that I feel truly settled. (I’m coming upon a milestone birthday later this month. I’ll let you guess which one.)
In all the places I lived I knew that I wouldn’t be there that long (meaning…more than two years). I knew that God was preparing us. I never enjoyed the process of moving. Sure, I could pack the boxes. That wasn’t the problem. It was this desire to stay put for a while. Every time we moved, it was this huge reminder that we weren’t staying put. This is the first time that I haven’t had this looming notion in my head that I wouldn’t be here for long.
I want you all to know that despite the floods and fires (literally), I am truly at home here. This is where I want to be, to serve, to grow, and to love. Better than that, I know that God wants us to be here. For that I am thankful.
I am committed to this community. So if you want something (even if it’s a cup of coffee) or you need something (like someone to talk with while drinking that cup of coffee), please do not hesitate to let me know. I’m here for you, because I want you to know that God is too.
It’s raining. I’ve never really minded the rain. Not too much anyway. That is until recently. I’ve never seen how powerful rain can be. About a week and a half ago I experienced it for myself. It can take out bridges. It can flood houses. It can wreak havoc on local markets and restaurants. It’s been emotional for a lot of us, and out of those emotions the rain has brought the worst out of some people.
The rain has also brought the best out of some people. I have heard stories of people helping evacuate others. I have heard stories of CVPS workers doing all they can do to restore electricity. I have heard stories of communities rallying together to make sure people have food and water.
I know people who drove for hours giving up their long weekend just to help our immediate community. It’s quite touching. Others have made a sacrifice. They are volunteer firefighters. They are town workers. They are people who work for non-profits. The list could go on and on. One thing that I can say is that they have gone up and beyond.
I know that things may never be quite the same, but I do know that Vermont will recover from this flood. (Please come to southern Vermont this fall if you can.) I’ve seen fires and I’ve seen floods in my short time living in South Londonderry. If I’ve learned anything during my time here, it is this: God can bring good out of anything. I may not understand what He is doing. I know, though, that I can expect that God will do something, and I can choose to jump on God’s wagon and go along for the ride.
It’s almost been a year. It’s almost been a year since we said our goodbyes. We all have our story about August 3, 2010, when the building was destroyed by a fire. Here’s my story. It’s not any more important than any other person’s story. I’ve just wanted to share for a while. Here’s a few snapshots…
My story starts on Friday, July 30th of last year. The congregation had hosted a bunch of youth here from Pennsylvania, who were doing all sorts of projects and showing people love. God’s love. That night was the last night of worship and devotions. It was done by a bonfire. It was an amazing night. Mandy gave the message. I can’t remember what she talked about. I do remember after listening to her recommitting myself to Jesus that night. I was ready to serve with even more passion than before.
On Saturday, July 31st, we (meaning Chris and I) had some good friends over. We hadn’t seen them since we moved here. Chris and I hung out with them in the backyard. Our kids played. We told them that we loved it here. We hoped that God would have us serve in South Londonderry for a long time (which is still true today).
On Sunday, August 1st, the congregation held its last worship service at the former building. Being the first Sunday of the month we celebrated the Lord’s Supper. That building had held worship services for 176 years. Afterwards, the youth from Pennsylvania headed home.
On Monday, August 2nd, Chris and I had the day off. We went to lunch with Tim and Mandy and a few others. We went grocery shopping for vacation. That night we watched a movie that was way longer than we expected. We went to bed at midnight. We never go to bed that late.
On Tuesday, August 3rd, at 3 o’clock in the morning, we heard a voice yelling in our bedroom window. Chris ran down the street to the church. I stayed home cleaning and praying every time a fire truck flew by the house. When I got a chance to walk over, I met up with Bev. She said exactly what I was telling myself. “It’s only a building.” We were all trying to reassure ourselves. Chris and I called our family and our mentors a few hours later. We ate banana bread for breakfast that our friends had brought on Saturday. God provided. We spent the day walking back and forth between our home and the location of the former church hugging and chatting and doing whatever we could. For lunch a pizza appeared. We tried to eat, when we could get a piece down. God provided. That night we had a prayer vigil. We prayed. I worried that day, because I couldn’t remember how many times I had nursed my little one. I just couldn’t remember. That night we answered emails. Lots and lots of emails. We slept well that night, because, well, we were really tired.
On Wednesday, August 4th, we updated the website. Chris and I decided to postpone vacation that would have started the next week. No need to feel bad, because I had recommitted myself to Jesus Friday night. I had wanted that vacation so much, but I wanted to serve Jesus more. A family had us over for dinner. God provided.
I do not know why God allowed the building to be destroyed by fire. I do know that He can use something pretty terrible for good. I’ve seen it here in our little town of South Londonderry. I found myself saying a few weeks ago, “Besides not having a building, we’re doing great.” Praise God. We haven’t closed the doors. We’ve opened them even wider.
I’m going to close my longer than normal post with some scripture. During my daily reading, I found this passage from Isaiah this week. It is such a comfort and reminds me that God has kept His promises. “But now, this is what the LORD says… ‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior’ (43:1-3a NIV)."
What are your reflections or scripture passages that you would like to share as we approach our one year mark? How do you think that God has brought good from the fire?
So here it is. I've broken a promise. I wrote that I would write a blog every week or two, and it's been about a month. I'm sorry. I can make excuses, like I was on vacation for one of those weeks, or I started one, but I just always got interrupted. These things happen, but they are excuses. It is so easy to get out of a routine.
It's got me thinking about how it's easy to let go of doing things. It's even harder to get back in the habit of doing things. I look back at times in my life where God seemed a little distant. It's only now that I see it wasn't God who was creating the distance. This distance is in direct relation to what I was doing or what I wasn't doing. I don't have life all figured out; however my encouragement is this: spend some time pondering what things you are doing or not doing that help or hinder your relationship with God. Then ask God to help you make any changes you may need to make.
This is written by Kathleen Blackey, follower of Jesus and co-pastor at First Baptist Church.