The wallpaper border in my office says *HOPE*LOVE*FAITH*. These words remind me daily about what’s important. When I’m stressing about meeting a deadline, worrying about my sick dog, wondering how to clean clutter from my desk, or just hoping that my grandchild is born healthy, then I glance up from my chair and read these three words. Hope reminds me that tomorrow is another day of blessings to come. Love reminds me that my life is filled with people who love me and whom I love. Faith reminds me that God is with me always. Lucky me!
I’ve written about my office window before, but one day in December window watching turned out to be extra exciting. Four deer made their way out of the woods by the church parking lot. Usually the deer only poke their heads out, but on this day they sauntered out to the grass. They were probably looking for the corn and apples I sometimes give them when it snows. Last year I was greeted by a small deer as I parked my car in the morning. That made me think that perhaps I was spoiling the deer too much, but it gave me pleasure to help this lovely animal and to give him nourishment during the winter.
In this Christmas season of giving, we must remember that we humans reside in a beautiful world with other creatures. God made us trustee, and we must make sure that we give gifts to our non-human friends this Christmas too. After all, Jesus was not alone in that stable! So on Christmas Eve I’m putting out some gifts for the deer and the birds at church, and I’m sending a check to the Kent Animal Shelter for the dogs and cats who don’t have a home yet. Merry Christmas to All!
I was asked to share what it means to be able to support our church through the giving of my money, time and service to our ministries.
Throughout the 25 + years that I have been a member of the UMC in Stow, I have come to realize that this congregation is my family, and in a family, everyone contributes what they can, and supports one another in whatever ways possible- through the good, the bad, and yes, sometimes even the ugly.
I give of my money because I strongly believe in the mission of the church- to grow in personal relationship with God, to nurture one another in faith, and to share God’s love with others, so that they may have a personal relationship with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! Without financial support to pay the ministry team and the basic bills, this church could not exist and its mission would be lost.
In the past 25 years, I have given of my time and talents in a myriad of ways. I have served as a Sunday School teacher, Kid’s church volunteer, nursery worker, VBS station leader, Bible study facilitator, church sign changer, and member of UMW. I have been blessed to serve in our church mission of the UMC Preschool. I have organized many different community outreach collections, such as pillows, stuffed animals, books, and pajamas, for those in need. I support our food pantry with regular donations. I have volunteered to help organize or assist in special events, such as the Hanging of the Greens Christmas Party, special Sunday school events, and countless bake sales.
Why do I do all of this? Because I feel that if I am able to make a positive impact on someone, make someone’s day just a little brighter by what I may say or do, share the love of Jesus, even with just one person, within our congregation or in the community, then I am doing what God commanded me to do.
In the Bible, Jesus shared as the most important commandment: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31
I give in many different ways and support our church family as an expression of LOVE for each of YOU, and for those in our community and in the world whom we are called by God, as believers, to serve.
I am convinced that it’s all about caring for one another and LOVE, my dear friends…. Giving and serving in God’s precious LOVE!
Written by a member of the United Methodist Church in Stow
I love autumn. I have always loved autumn. I love the changing colors. I love the warm days and crisp evenings. And I love, love, LOVE the smell of fallen leaves. My family will tell you that I mention how much I love that smell multiple times on every fall hike we take. I used to wonder why I liked that scent so much. I does not bring any specific memories to mind (other than remembering how much I love that smell). I does create a sense of calm in me, however, and the sense that I belong there, in the woods, out in nature.
I have come to understand that this feeling of belonging is simply a connection to God. Many of the Bible writers testified to the ability of nature to reveal God to us. Here are a couple examples:
Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made.
“But ask the animals, and they will teach you;
the birds of the air, and they will tell you;
ask the plants of the earth, and they will teach you;
and the fish of the sea will declare to you.
Who among all these does not know
that the hand of the Lord has done this?
For whatever reason, it is the smell of fallen leaves that sparks that divine connection for me. As I walk, breathing in the smells of autumn, I feel loved, cared-for and content.
Is there a part of nature, scent or otherwise, that reveals God to you?
It seems that every morning there is some horrible news I wake up to. Whether it is the destruction from natural disasters that occur world wide or the ones that are inflicted at the hands of humans, it is hard to not ask “why?” Why do these things happen in nature? How can other humans be so cruel and inhuman? What can I, as one person, do to help? There are no easy answers and some questions have no answers. I do know one thing, God is in charge. I was reminded of His promise at work the other day. As I walked to room 200, I noticed a rainbow on the floor. It was just what I needed. It guided my path on my many trips back and forth. As it faded throughout the day, my faith grew stronger. I knew that although the rainbow was no longer visible, it’s meaning still was. We all have our storms and suffering to get through. Ours might seem small to the ones happening around us, but to God they are important and knowing He is with us might ease the pain.
Like many families we gathered for the unofficial last day of summer on Labor Day. After praying for those who labor for our country, their physical hardships, and their needs, we went to play. Going to the Lake during the summer is a haven for our family and watching my daughter take her boys tubing, as I did with her many years ago, is such a joy. At our haven we spend hours laughing, swimming, eating, and sometimes we just sit quietly and watch the sun play on the water. We all need a haven—a place of escape from our busyness—a place to just “be.” We need such times and such places to live a healthy life.
Even Jesus needed to get away from time to time. He would steel away from the crowds, from the busyness, from the demands of daily life to find some peace, to reflect, and to pray. I often picture him beside the lake watching the sun dance on the water, or in the hills feeling a refreshing breeze. At such places we are on holy ground and we are blessed.