As for the seed that fell among thorny plants, these are the ones who, as they go about their lives, are choked by the concerns, riches, and pleasures of life, and their fruit never matures. The seed that fell on good soil are those who hear the word and commit themselves to it with a good and upright heart. Through their resolve, they bear fruit. - Luke 8:14-15 CEB
Recently, much change has occurred in my personal life. The change was unplanned and not on my radar or written in my planner (I’m told most people don’t plan change, so that statement simply confirms my type A personality). Once our family accepted the change was coming (a move to a new home in a different city) it seemed 100% right.
All the pieces for the move fell into place as God orchestrated the change for our family. We were excited for the opportunity to be closer to extended family. And yet, this change impacted me more deeply than I expected. As I sat in our empty home loading the last boxes a flood of emotions and tears emptied out of my physical body. There was so much to leave behind. Memories of building our first home, the birth of our son, moments of health crisis and recovery, birthday parties, bike rides, snow fights with neighborhood kids, delicious meals, and warm bonfires. My heart ached to leave and yet it was also excited for the new growth and seed that God was planting.
When life seems uncertain and I become overwhelmed, meditating on God’s word soothes my soul. As I breathed in my favorite scripture, “Be still and know that I am God,” I was reminded that God knows our plans. God knows what is to come. God knows the good things that are in store for each of us. God knows our worries. God knows change unsettles us. God knows we can cling to the word and promises. It is a relief to be still and know that God has all our best interests at heart. I may be uncertain of much but I am certain that God is with me among the change.
Thomas Merton reminds us, “every moment and every event of every man’s life on earth plants something in his soul.” As we each face change in this new year (big or small), may we face it with hope and great expectation! Every moment we face and every change that occurs shapes our soul. May we embrace the seeds that are sprouting in our souls and foster them as they grow. And although we currently have record low temperatures at my house, that seed God is planting will still sprout, I’m certain. Our God provides soil that is rich. May the seeds of change in 2014 bear much fruit in your life and your soul.
This post originally appeared at AbingdonWomen.com.
“Reach high, for stars lie hidden in your soul. Dream deep, for every dream precedes the goal.” ― Mother Teresa
One thing that I’ve been reminded of a lot recently (in life and in ministry) is that dreams do not come to fruition overnight. It seems I meet dreamers who think their dreams will never come true or that their dream will not matter or help another person as they envision. I am guilty of not always acting on my dreams and letting them fade into the morning sun. But, I’m learning to pay better attention and to partner with God’s nudges to “do something” about them more often. Instead of letting these dreams and ideas we may not fully understand fade, maybe we just need to do something about them and let God decide if they are reality. Recently, I’ve seen one of my dreams collide with another dream at a local non-profit and it’s been an exciting and confirming experience.
For most of us, our dreams begin as nudges or feelings in the pit of our stomach to "do something." What began as an urge to "do something" in one community five years ago has turned into a dream not only for the dreamers but also for those locals without reliable health care.
A group of individuals began meeting to dream about providing health care for those in Wilson County who were working but did not have health insurance. This small group began researching local health clinics, recruiting volunteers and within a short period of time was offering basic health care for a very small fee in a local office building. What began as a dream, quickly turned into a 501(c)3 non-profit, Charis Health Center. Thanks to the hard work, passion, and vision of the volunteers, the center continues to grow.
In 2010, Charis added a part-time nurse practitioner as the first staff member thanks to grant funding. In 2012, they hired a part-time Executive Director, Karen Rudzinski, to continue dreaming alongside the Board of Directors and office volunteers to manage grants, funding, and volunteers. Just months ago, this booming non-profit closed the doors of that original office building and moved into a much larger and spacious vacated physician's office. No longer are the volunteers just getting by with available space, but they now have dedicated medical space to offer quality health care and a prayer room for spiritual care as well. The prayer room has been made available for patients, volunteers, and the community. Charis was founded on the belief that wellness incorporates body, mind, and spirit. This faith based clinic from the beginning wanted to offer space for both health care and spiritual care for their patients.
This is where my dream fits into the picture. My dream to "do something" began after years of personal health crises (one crisis after another including cancer, stroke, and brain surgery occurred in my 20's and 30's). God nudged me during my own healing to begin walking with others in 2010. The calling was to reach out and help others find healing and wholeness through spiritual care by offering spiritual direction and retreat leadership. Charis opened their doors for my practicum coursework and we are now partnering to offer spiritual care alongside primary health care for interested patients. Studies show that patients show greater motivation to complete the task of healing when their spiritual needs are met and that spiritual care may even help improve pain management.
The vision from just a few is now helping so many. It really is amazing how God can begin working on our hearts without the full details. Just this month, a local physician, Dr. Joseph Ozenne announced he is now volunteering as the clinic's medical director. According to Dr. Ozenne, the opportunity to more fully incorporate his faith into his medical practice has been a dream of his for some time. Without following that nudge from the Holy Spirit to do something, there would be no Charis Health Center for the patients, staff or volunteers. Since opening the doors in January 2008, Charis staff and volunteers have served more than 2,800 patients and provided over 7,800 office visits. I’d say that is doing something!
We often think our dreams are unlikely, improbable, and impossible. We think we can't make a difference by starting out with just one person in need or one part of a community. We get scared off by the big picture. In reality, only God can fulfill the dreams placed on our hearts. Have a dream? Like that amazing group of people who had a dream and a vision for starting Charis Health Center, maybe you should do something about yours.
What is your dream? Who will you share and invite into your dream?
Posted originally at MinistryMatters.com. Ministry Matters supports ministry leaders with resources, community, and inspiration. Follow them: @ministrymatters on Twitter | ministrymatters on Facebook
We'd surely get bored and complain if seasons didn't change (or at least I know I would). I was reminded recently by a new friend that our lives consist of different seasons. For the past several years, I've been in a season of slowing down and looking up. That season was one of the most amazing and blessed seasons of my life. I didn't really want it to end.
But, just as Summer ceases and Fall begins, we have little control over the season in which God places us. It is also a blessing that I've moved into a new season. And, although I really miss my seminary travels, I'm so blessed to be putting my studies into action now. Charis Health Center has added Spiritual Care for their patients and the community one day per week. This is a service that can assist patients as well as others in finding God in their present situation. It isn't always easy to find God, and it is often more challenging when you're sick. I'll never forget walking through my recovery and illness trying to find God in my day to day struggles. I had support in many ways but finding God's presence wasn't one of them. It is such a privilege to help others look and find God's activity in their own situation. I'm also continuing to teach and serve at Gallatin CARES Worship Center and meet with patients from the health clinic two days a week. I'm positively overwhelmed with these opportunities to be in ministry in these places and with people I love. I often think I am there to serve others, but serving has had a huge impact on my own spiritual formation.
For those of you who have been following this journey a while, you know i began blogging after my stroke in 2005 to journey toward healing and wholeness. I love to write. Writing helps me process and heal. It also lets me share my heart. Since that time, I've gone from writing about physical therapy exercises to God's grand activity in my life and the lives around me. Recently, I was contacted by Abingdon Press regarding an opportunity to author their new Abingdon Women's blog. This opportunity excites me, humbles me and even scares me just a little bit! I'm interviewing Bible Study authors, posting about living in God's word, and connecting women to good solid opportunities for studying God's word as a spiritual discipline.
When I told a friend I was a little nervous, she looked at me and said, "good, I'd be worried about you if you weren't." I loved that reply and it has made me think! Here is what I've learned; this new season may seem a little busier, it may have more demands, AND I may feel a greater opportunity to make mistakes, but God has called me to serve. God has walked me to this season of life and is asking me to embrace what is put before me. God wrote this story, and is still writing it. I could choose to bury myself in leaves and try to stay in one season. But, God is asking each of us to stand up and embrace what is to come. Our Creator is asking us to live into our stories.
What's this season like for you? What's God calling you to be nervous about?
Whitney R. Simpson
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Whitney R. Simpson
Exploring Peace Ministries, LLC