Sunday, May 20, 2018

Words Matter


Words Matter!

I already knew this.
And truly, make it a mission of mine to continually speak life.

However, this past week, I had the opportunity to meet and listen to Brian Boyle speak and I was reminded just how important words matter.

So who is this Brian Boyle I speak of?!?

A few of his online bio's include:
It was a horrific car crash.  On the way home from swim practice in 2004,eighteen-year old Brian Boyle's future changed in an instant when a dump truck plowed into his vehicle. He was airlifted to a shock-trauma hospital.  He had lost sixty percent of his blood, his heart had moved across his chest, and his organs and pelvis were pulverized.  He was placed in a medically-induced coma.  When Brian finally emerged from the coma two months later, he had no memory of the accident.  He could see and hear, but not move or talk.  Unable to communicate to his doctors, nurses, or frantic parents, he heard words like "vegetable" and "nursing home."  If he lived, doctors predicted he might not be able to walk again, and certainly not swim.  Then, miraculously, Brian clawed his way back to the living.  First blinking his eyelids, then squeezing a hand, then smiling, he gradually emerged from his locked-in state.  The former swimmer and bodybuilder had lost one hundred pounds.  

In 2007, Brian Boyle staged what many consider to be one of the greatest comebacks in sports history when he crossed the finish line at the Hawaii Ironman just three years after leaving the Intensive Care Unit.

In 2008, Men's Health magazine named Boyle one of its twenty heroes.

In 2009, he published his first book, Iron Heart, and he was presented the spokesperson of the year award from the American Red Cross for his contributions, service and for hosting his series of Iron Heart blood drives.

In 2010, he graduated Cum Laude from St. Mary's College of Maryland and also made his very first blood donation at the hospital that brought him back to life.  

His story has been features on the Ellen DeGeneres Show, NBC's Today Show, ESPN, and several other programs throughout the globe that have earned Emmy nominations and awards.

His journey of courage and determination has touched the hearts of many and his story and the message it carries has been celebrated around the world.




And I was able to hear it first hand at PRMC last week as he was brought in as guest speaker to relay the importance of what healthcare workers do, day in and day out, from a patient's perspective.

And yes, his journey is an amazing one that is truly an inspiration!  And it didn't stop in 2010; I encourage you to take time to learn more about him and ALL the things he has continued to accomplish since his recovery - including getting married and having their 1st baby girl!

But one of the biggest things I took away from him were two words:

Words Matter.

As we sat and listened to his story, he reminded us that although he was in a medically induced coma, there were times, about 1/2 way into his recovery, that although he couldn't talk and indicate that he was "with it," that he could hear.

He could hear the words being spoken.
And those that were not.

He talks about how at one point he wanted to give up, the fight was just too hard.
And that was the day his dad had come to his room, laid his hands over his body, and begged him to fight.  And reminded him what he was fighting for and who was fighting for him.
He truly spoke life into his son!
And although Brian couldn't respond, he determined that day that he was going to live!

He recalled that as he lay in his hospital bed, he learned to listen to and get to know the voices that were speaking to him each day and night.
That he could tell what kind of day he might have based on the voices he heard.

WORDS MATTER!

Based on the voices, he knew if the nurses and doctors would speak to him as though he could speak back - asking him questions even knowing he couldn't yet respond, talking to him about life in general, sports, the Olympics, telling him what they were expecting of him, etc.

Based on the voices, he also knew if it was going to be a quiet day with no interaction from his care team.

He thrived on the voices that spoke life!!!

Brian, during his recovery, was encouraged to start journaling his experience; to get out all his thoughts onto paper. Meant as part of the healing process, it ultimately led to the writing of his first book. He shared he had a thick stack of composition notebooks simply filled with each day of his journey and what he was experiencing.

Words.

Words that when compiled together became a healing for him and, ultimately, encouragement for others.

I just want to remind you that our words matter!

Just as much to the patient laying in a hospital bed fighting for their life to the one sitting beside you who very well may be fighting just as hard...our WORDS MATTER!

We ALL have something to say that can potentially make or break someone else.
Do you believe that?!?

We all have the power, within us, to build each other up!
And God knows, I know, we all aren't speakers.
Trust me, I've tried...been there and done that...and let's just say it's better I stick with writing.

But none the less, I can still choose to speak life into the people around me!
I don't have to be some big name person in the spotlight when I can simply just be me...

There are people around us who are hurting and giving up.
Our words matter.
There are people around us who lack self confidence.
Our words matter.
There are people around us whose loved ones are fighting addictions.
Our words matter.
There are people around us whose marriages are crumbling to pieces.
Our words matter.
There are people around us __________ (you fill in what you know to be true).
Our words matter.

Friends, we are so much BETTER TOGETHER!!!
And our WORDS MATTER!

I encourage you this week to really stop and think about the words that you are allowing to come out and reach others.
Are you building up?
Or tearing down?

Speak Life to the people around you and watch their world change!


xox,
Jenny

Sunday, May 6, 2018

The Importance of Mulching

I would like to introduce you to my friend, Tanya Smith!  I have had the pleasure of serving our community with her through our Adopt A Block ministry.  As much as I would like to think I am an extrovert, I am not, and it has taken me a while to connect with everyone!  But I am...slowly but surely! 
Tanya is one that I have gotten to know more so in the past month and it's not by coincidence that we have more in common that I thought!  She, too, has a passion for writing and you know how I love to encourage others to share - so I told her anytime she felt like she had something she wanted to share to please pass it on and I would post on my Bundle of Twigs - We're Better Together blog and facebook page!

So here you go!!!  Please show her some love!

Tanya states, "I'm 47 years old, newly converted introvert who made the decision to seek her identity in Christ Jesus.  May the words that I write be acceptable in His sight, my Lord and my Redeemer."


The Importance of Mulching

For the last several weeks, the first five words of Mark 4:32 have been needling at my spirit, "Yet when it planted, it grows". Those words have been on a loop in my brain. It just kinda pops up whenever it feels like it. Washing dishes? Yet when planted, it grows. Running errands, yet when planted, it grows. You get the idea. So I did what any good Christian would do. I prayed, "Lord, please make this thought stop!" 🙄 Before I could even finish my request, I heard the faint still voice of the Holy Spirit, "ummm, NOPE". 

Tanya being Tanya, I tried debating/defending my position, "I am planted but its not working! I go to church, I serve, I give, I pray, I study the bible, I attend small group, what am I doing wrong?? To a large degree, I still felt disconnected, like my roots were carelessly dangling, not planted. I went back to God again, Lord, please give me vision to see what I'm not seeing. The Holy Spirit put it in my heart to look up the intricacies of farming. Yeah, I know, God works in mysterious ways😉 . 

Moving right along, I start researching farming and planting and wouldn't you know it, I come across a word that I know, but I really don't know what it means: MULCH.

While studying the topic, I read this sentence: A newly planted tree's best friend is mulch! 
OK Holy Spirit, I hear ya, I think we might be onto something! 
Further investigation (quick google search) informs me that mulch plays an integral role in the planting process:
     1. Weed suppression
     2. Slows moisture evaporation
     3. Gradual breakdown of underlying soil to improve the soil's texture. 

Hmmm....ever think God is trying to tell you something??? 
Soooo, the thread that links planting to subsequent growth is mulching??🤔

Ummm, God, you know I'm not a farmer, right? What does any of this have to do with me??

LIGHTBULB MOMENT!!!

Planting + Godly Community (Relationships) = Spiritual Growth!

Much like what mulch does for trees, relationships do for us:
     1. Suppress the growth of negative influences (weeds)
     2. Promotes the growth of God's word in our hearts by engaging with fellow believers, decreasing loneliness and isolation (evaporation)
     3. Gradually breaks down the underlying soil (our hearts) and improving its texture (becoming less like us, more like Christ)

If you're anything like me, you might find yourself spending too much time focusing on the outcomes of situations rather than the process that gets us to the outcome that aligns with God's will for our lives. I was "planted", BUT, I wasn't allowing the soil (my heart) to be cultivated and tilled by God through his servants. I'm a recovering loner and my spiritual growth was being stunted by my unwillingness to reach out, let others in. The enemy has a way of perverting legitimate needs (like connection) that we were created with, thus diminishing the value some of us put on those needs after negative experiences. I was "doing" all the right things, but not "being" transformed. Continual conversion is achieved through community. Yes, God tells us in Proverbs 4:23 to guard our hearts with all diligence, however, we're given the tool with which to guard it in Ephesians 6:14, the breastplate of righteousness. Righteousness is simply in right standing with God, a right RELATIONSHIP, with God. Having a real relationship with God guards the heart better than LifeLock or Brink's ever could!

Now, here comes what could be the difficult part about this whole mulch business, OK? Most of the "mulch" God sends your way probably won't be familiar. It won't look like you, walk like you, talk like you, probably won't always agree with you. Guess what? That's on purpose. Familiarity can be the breeding ground for stagnation. Sustainable growth happens past your comfort zone. Let God till that soil and water all those seeds He placed in you. We really are better together and here you thought that was just a catchy phrase Jenny came up with to name her blog! So just remember, they're not strangers, they're your specially designed mulch that God sent to cover you through the process. 

Sooo, who's your mulch???👭

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Wisdom I Gained from the Marathon Runners...


This weekend I had the opportunity to be a "cheerleader" for the SBY Marathon; it was divided into three categories - the full and half marathons and a 5K race.  The full marathon was a qualifier for the Boston Marathon and the half did the same for the New York Marathon.

Needless to say, it was a humbling experience for me AND I WASN'T EVEN RUNNING!!!
***Side note - Jenny does not run!!!  Nor have I ever enjoyed running.  To be totally transparent, I'm not real big on exercise in general.***

My girls and I were assigned to report to our spot right before noon  - - - mile 24.

MILE 24!!!
It's still amazing to me that at that point, these runners were still running!
And I wanted to share a few things I learned from my experience yesterday!


1. At some point you will want to stop.  Don't!!!

We were right around a bend that sits on the river; we seriously could not have asked for a better location to be cheerers on such a beautiful day!  Our location allowed us to see as soon as the runners turned the bend before us - and that was our cue to start the clapping and loud encouragement!!!

One woman in particular I had a short conversation with.  As I called out to her, "You're doing fabulous!!  Keep going!!  You're almost there..." she smiled and said, "ugghhh, I've hit a wall.  BUT I'm going to finish this!"

[Hitting a wall - experiencing a sudden loss of energy in a long race.] 

You guys - whether it's a marathon or life in general, there are going to be times when we "hit a wall." But just like this strong woman, we have to determine in our hearts and mind that we will keep on moving.  To summon that strength you didn't know you had to make it to the finish line.  To just keep moving, putting one foot in front of the other!

I would imagine that finishing a marathon isn't just an athletic achievement, but an overall state of mind...reminding you that anything is possible!



2.  There will be people along your path that you might not "know" but have been put there for a specific purpose.

I read last night that there were close to 1,200 runners!!!  Out of those, I knew just a handful.
But my job was to be a cheerleader for these runners, whether I knew them or not! 
That was my sole purpose yesterday!
One of the bike riders keeping an eye on the runners stopped briefly and chatted with us and said we were at the perfect spot for cheering because at this point, these runners were just tired.

And we saw it.
Some had to literally stop and lean against the trees to stretch their muscles, some had slowed to a fast walking pace, some just looked zoned out.

Yet many of the runners responded back to us, thanking US for being on the path, especially at the end of the race...but in my mind, that's where we needed to be because that's where I think I would need the most encouragement.

I found these and thought they were both appropriate for this:


I don't know how many times I said out loud that I was just so proud of these runners!!!
And, imagine this, found myself right emotional for them. 

Friends - there are people on our paths, whether we know it or not, that have been put there for a purpose!  Take time, even when you're steady focused on the end goal, to listen to their encouragement.  It may be JUST what you need to hear to continue on!

3.  We REALLY are BETTER TOGETHER!!!

Ok, talk about being emotional.
One of the moments that I will remember forever - two runners, coming from the opposite direction - coming FROM the FINISH line, already adorned with their medals.  They came to finish out the race with what looked like "their people" - they met up with two other runners (that had succumbed to walking at this point) to encourage them to just keep on going. 

It was a great example for my girls to see.

There are going to be times that we finish way ahead of others - but what an example it is when you can go back and help the ones still on their journey. 
Because you HAVE finished, because you have come out on the other side, you can go back and remind them that they, too, can make it!


***

In closing, I wanted to share a personal testimony from my friend, Shannon.
She simply amazes me.
One - because she's just really an amazing woman!
And Two - because she rocked this marathon!!  And I wanted to give you a perspective from a runner's standpoint!

Running a full marathon had been something on my bucket list since I ran my first half marathon over 4 years ago.  I said, "I can't imagine ever actually training for it, but maybe some day when my kids were grown and I had more time."  I then ran another half marathon, and several other small races, but put the goal of a full marathon on the back burner for something later on in life.

Then last spring I heard the announcement that the following year Salisbury would be hosting a full marathon in April 2018.  My thought was "Oh my gosh - I have to do it!"  But then I was reminded of all my many responsibilities right now at this point in my life, and I just didn't think it was possible.  Between being a wife to a pastor (at a mobile church at that!), a mom, working full times as a teacher, and taking master's classes - I just didn't see how it would work.  

Then this past fall I was at the Baltimore Marathon running the relay with 3 other people.  I was leg one of the marathon, so I was able to be at the finish line and see the last leg of our relay finish.  Not only that, but I got to watch all these people cross the finish line and finish a full marathon.  Some becoming a "marathoner" for the first time.  I seriously had tears in my eyes watching these determined people cross the finish line.  I knew that I had to do it.  I had to run the first ever Salisbury Marathon.

At that point, I was only running a couple times a week - from anywhere from 3 to 5 miles.  I had always enjoyed running, but since my half marathons, I had just been running one or twice a week.  I started doing my research on training plans and finally found one that I wanted to use.  When I first read over Hanson's Marathon Method, I thought there was no way I could actually follow this plan.  It has you running 6 days a week for most weeks, for 18 weeks, and peaks you at 57 miles a week.  But I knew if I was committing to running a marathon, I wanted to do it the right way and be prepared.  I started training the day after Christmas.

I knew the only way I could guarantee that I could get my runs in each day was doing them in the morning before work.  So most of my training was done in the dark and cold before work.  There was a lot of early bedtimes and even more early alarms.  At the peak of training I was waking up a 4:00 am to get in up to 12 miles before work.  It was hard, but every time I felt like sleeping in - I remembered my goal.  I could do this.  I knew God was keeping me healthy and allowing me the ability to keep up with the training, then I could do my part and show up.  I reminded myself of this many cold mornings.

My verse for the race yesterday was Joshua 1:9 - "Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."  I was so nervous and anxious going into the race yesterday.  I knew I was physically prepared, but I was still so nervous.  The Lord put this verse in my face in the beginning of last week  - and I knew that it was my verse for race day.  The hardest part of the race for me yesterday was around mile 20-21 when the extreme nausea took over.  I'm guessing it was the sun and heat that did it to me, since my body was not accustomed to that type of weather.  Most all of my training was done in freezing or below temperatures, and in the dark!  But during those hard miles, I said Joshua 1:9 over and over again.  I am strong and courageous - God's with me right here on this road.  You've got this!  I continued to say that the rest of the race.  And God got me through the hard part and to the finish line.  God got me through every single workout of this training, and He got me to the finish line of my first marathon!  All for HIS glory!




Shannon came in 3rd place for her age group and 6th female overall!  Like I said, she rocked it out!!!

***

As proud of I am of ALL these runners, I still don't have that desire to get out there and just do it, but I am reminded this:

Whatever it is you are trying to accomplish - it doesn't matter what happens between the starting line and the finish line - what really matters is that you decide to cross both! 

Surround yourself with the people who want to help you reach your goals! 
And remember, God will send people you may not even know to encourage you along the way!
Take the time to listen.
Learn to silence the noise and lean into the people cheering you on!

We are BETTER TOGETHER my friends!

xox,
Jenny

Saturday, April 28, 2018

The Green Team




Today was simply an absolutely gorgeous day!
And I was able to start it with these phenomal people!!!
I know I post a lot and share about our church and Adopt a Block ministry...and it's because I have seen first hand how people's lives are being changed and relationships are being made!
You all have heard me say for years now that I really do believe we are BETTER TOGETHER and days like today are constant reminders of this.


The beautiful ladies represented in these photos - they are reminders to me of what it looks like to stand shoulder to shoulder.  We've shared laughter and tears together but most importantly, we have stood in the gap and prayed together. When I say I'm blessed to know each one of them, I mean it - my life is richer because of them!
The little boy whose smile is simply contagious ... well he told me he loved me today. 💙
On our route, a few of us were able to strike up conversation with him and his aunt. He told us ALL about his school and his teacher and what his favorites were. As we continued on our block, they went across to the other side of the sidewalk to continue straight...just as we were rounding the corner his aunt called out and I turned around and he was just steady waving with that HUGE smile...so I ran back over to him real quick and got down on his level and he just gave me the biggest hug and simply said, "I love you."
And my heart burst into a million pieces.
We gave them a bag of food, bread, and watermelon. 
Nothing fancy or extravagant. 
But we had also taken a few minutes to just listen. 
To hear what he had to say.
And friends, isn't that what we all long for at times?

This picture of the two boys playing "got your nose..." just another reminder that you just have to get down on the kids levels. I wish you could have seen how that little boy just gravitated towards Jordan. And while they played, we were able to hold conversation with his mom...and hear her story...and as we were getting ready to walk on, Naomi simply said, "You're doing a great job, Mom!"
And I don't know about you...but no matter what stage you are as a mother, there's just something about hearing you're doing a great job that encourages you to keep going!
These are just a few examples of what took place this morning!
I leave each time feeling thankful for these connections and relationships I am making. 
I leave feeling thankful that we are helping to meet needs right here in our community. 
I leave being reminded of just how good my life really is.
I leave thankful for my "green team" family.
God is SO good.
He really is!

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Be a little different...

This weekend I had the opportunity to be a part of the kick off for our women's ministry at church, Shoulder to Shoulder!!!
It was an absolutely amazing time with over 200 women in attendance!
I am still feeling overwhelmed with emotions and just how humbling it was to stand TOGETHER, shoulder to shoulder, as we prayed together wrapping up the evening.

Friday evening was a visual representation to me of what the "church" looks like...
Diversity.
On many levels.

But coming together as one!!!

Younger women.
Older women.
Black women.
White women.
Single women.
Married women.
Divorced women.
Widowed women.
Grandmothers.
Mothers.
Daughters.
Sisters.

Sisters in Christ.

Friends!!!

When we circled around the room and stood shoulder to shoulder it was humbling to say the least.

Women are strong.
On so many levels.
We carry weight that is heavy and debilitating at times.

But when we stand together, shoulder to shoulder, we can help each other with that load.

We really ARE better together my friends!!!
My life has been enriched with the beautiful women God has placed, and is still placing, in it!
And I am very much looking forward to deepening the connections I made Friday night!

Which led me to this post...



We focused on how we are each a piece of a puzzle that comes [together] to make a beautiful picture!

As my friend, Sara, wrote:
"True community is built on our differences.  It is an environment where everyone is encouraged to be who God created them to be.   We are the body of Christ and in Christ, we find our purpose.  So, we can't say that we don't belong or when others tell us we don't belong, we need to remember what God tells us - - - we are uniquely created for a purpose within the body of Christ and we DO belong!!!"

It's ok to be a little different!!!

I want to share something with you.
This is something that I struggle with.

As a grown women, 37 years old in fact, I am about the size of a 10 year old.
Height and weight.
It sets me apart.
And to be quite honest, I'm just ME!!!
And I really don't recognize my outward appearance until I look at photos or someone verbally comments on my size.

And that's when I allow the devil to get the best of my mind...

As I welcomed the ladies on Friday evening, there were over 400 eyes...staring at me.
And as I was trying to share just a piece of my heart, that I am one who truly does believe we are better together, inwardly my mind was quickly going to the place of "what if they don't even think I belong here...speaking is SO not my strength, I should have just offered to write something that they could take home...my voice is small...and so on..."

But I could feel the bigger part of me saying, You CAN do this, Jenny.
Yes - you are different, but so is each lady here.
Many don't know you.
So let them know who YOU are, but more importantly, whose you are!

So that's just what I did!
And I walked away that evening with my heart full.

Today there were so many ladies that came up to me...thanking us for the time together Friday night!
So many HUGS!!!
So many smiles!
So many new connections that I hope turn into friendships!

We are not made to go through life alone.
We see throughout scripture how God brought women [together] in relationships to encourage one another and build each other up and I still believe He does the same today.

I want to encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and make a connection with someone who is different than you...that shouldn't be hard to do because from an outward look, our differences are often greater than our similarities...BUT when you take the time to actually connect with someone on more than a surface level, I do believe you will find you have much more in common than you thought!!!


We are BETTER TOGETHER my friends.
And I want to encourage you to find just one new person this week that you can reach out to and stand shoulder to shoulder with...even if you don't match in height! ;)


xox,
Jenny

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Setting the Example

About a month ago this was my personal post on social media:

As I have scrolled through social media today, I have seen post after post with pictures and/or quotes of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Myself included.
And don't get me wrong, I love it.
But what happens the next 364 days?
Do his words still resonate with you?
Does the dream still feel reachable?
Let me encourage you today...yes, let's quote Dr. King today, but may we also determine in our hearts that we want to see the change he so bravely fought for and do our part to make it happen!
Let us not reduce his dream to a once a year post on social media.
But rather choose to show love.
Every day.
To speak out.
To build bridges.
To seek justice. Justice for all. Not just those you are comfortable with.
To not turn our eyes and ears away from what has become passive.
But rather turn our eyes and ears to Jesus...and the words and direction he provided us that Dr. King would later emphasize.
We need to be emphasizing His words and direction!!
As mentioned in the video I shared earlier, "I may not look like Dr. King, but I believe like Dr King."
And though I have a small voice and small platform, I will continue to show, in as many ways that I can, that we ARE Better Together!
I am currently reading Letters To Birmingham Jail: A Response To The Words And Dreams Of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It's a collection of essays written by men of various ethnicities and ages and addresses the passivity of the issues that were close to Dr. King's heart.
As I am just into the first essay, I cannot speak to what I am taking in just yet, but I do know this:
Jenny Harsin wants to be known for what she stood for, not against. Friends, so often we look for what we want to see and listen for what we want to hear that I fear we are missing what is happening right in front of us.
May our eyes and ears be open to the injustices within our own communities and may we be brave enough to stand up for what is right.
Dr. King is quoted saying, "In the end, we will not remember the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."
Sheeeww....So. Much. Truth.
I am going to continuously choose love.
And love like Jesus does...without deciding for myself whether or not a person is worthy.
What are you doing today to be remembered for tomorrow?

So, I want to ask, in the midst of a week yet again filled with senseless tragedy - what are we doing to make a better tomorrow?

As I was listening to my 9 year old daughter and her best friend play this afternoon, I am reminded that we have to do our part to make their future better.  
And even more so, we need to continue to set the example for them.
I've shared this photo before, but want to share it again - it will always be my favorite of them.
These girls really are the best of friends.  
They really act more like sisters.
Why?
Because they love each other.  They spend time together.  They bring out the best (and sometimes worst) in each other.
I have SO many pictures of them TOGETHER!  Added bonus is that we only live a few houses from each other so they are together a lot, and they have learned that I am "THAT" mom and will always want a photo...but it's more than that.
As I watch and listen to them play it really just makes my heart happy.
I believe as parents, we get a lot wrong sometimes, but I can honestly say - we're getting this right.  
I love that their family is "our family," too.  And I can say, with confidence, her family feels the same way. 
Can I pinpoint when this happened? No.
I truly believe that it's because we both are setting the example to LOVE!  And love with no boundaries.
These girls are going to be world changers, I do believe!
This past fall, our families served together at our church's Trunk or Treat - that's right, they "served" together.  They did go through and grab a bag of candy, I mean, you're only little once, right?!  But we reiterated the importance of giving back to the community we live in.  To show LOVE!
It was cold, y'all!  But they stuck it out with us!
This Saturday, we'll be serving together with Adopt-A-Block!

I don't know what the answer is to much of what is going on anymore.
I do have hope though.
I look at these strong girls we are raising and know that this is our future.  
And if we can set the example for them, in all things, maybe we will start to see a change.  

One of the examples we are setting for our girls is our relationship with Jesus.  
In fact, as I was sitting down to post tonight, I was asked what I was going to write about and when I said, what do you think I should write about, the first answers that came were, "How about how much you love us and how much you love Jesus."

If we can get this right, friends, I truly believe that we will start to see change.

Jesus LOVED.

While He was on this Earth, He LOVED!
I mean it's as simple as that.

He didn't argue with people who believed different than him, He LOVED.
He didn't tell others they were unworthy, He LOVED.
He didn't talk about people behind their back, He LOVED.
He called people out, but used grace.
He was a teacher and if you read his stories you will find he taught in LOVE.
It didn't matter if you were the sinner or the saint.
He LOVED.

Don't you think it's possible for us to do the same?
I do!!

When is the last time you invited someone different from you to eat at your table at lunch, much less invite them into your home?
When is the last time you reached out and helped someone in need just because?
When is the last time you stepped out of your comfort zone because you are ready to see change?

Let's not just post about having a dream of a better world one day...let's make it happen!
We are better together and we need to start the ripple effect!


xox,
Jenny





Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Love In Any Language


Ok, friends...I know I've mentioned before about the Adopt-A-Block ministry that is led by our church, Emmanuel Wesleyan Church.  And I shared on Saturday a little from my personal experience on our Facebook page.  But I still feel this stirring in my soul and felt it deserved a blog post.  So if some of this sounds redundant, I am apologizing up front! :)

The Adopt-a-Block ministry is where we go into an area of our city that needs love and we show it.  
It's really that simple. 
The motto is, "Find a need and fill it.  Find a hurt and heal it."  

Yes, this is a church ministry.
No, there are no strings attached.
In fact, the only time you hear 'Emmanuel Wesleyan Church' is when we're knocking on the door, identifying ourselves to let them know who is there.  
It's truly just about serving our community and showing and sharing love.

We mostly give food.  And food that is primarily donated from the Maryland Food Bank.
This past Saturday we were also able to give toothbrushes and toiletries.
At Thanksgiving time, other organizations join with us and we're able to provide a "traditional" box of all things Thanksgiving including a fresh turkey!
At Christmas, we help provide gifts for the children.
We help with needed items such as clothes, school supplies, and furniture.
It's truly about helping to meet basic needs.

There is laughter and some time tears.
There are hugs!
There is prayer if the need arises.  In fact, just this week, we stopped and prayed for a policeman who was patrolling the area we were in as well as the mailman out on his walking delivery route, and a few of the tenants. 

To be totally transparent, the few times I've been able to actually help with the food delivery, I find myself praying and observing the others throughout the walk around the blocks.
Why?
Because I truly believe change begins with us!!!  And I have a dream of seeing our city united!  And I believe it starts with us, but more so - our churches.  And churches willing to not just discuss what is wrong and what "should" be done, but churches that actually get out there and do the work, build the relationships.  With no strings attached.
That is what this ministry is doing.  It is truly showing love in a tangible way.  We have this team of people who are dedicating hours on Saturday mornings to reach out to a community that is, for the most part, not the "norm."  It's the sections of our city that most people avoid.

As we started back this week I found it so fitting that as I got in my vehicle the words that were streaming though my radio were, "Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders, let me walk upon the waters, wherever You would call me..."
This was after all the food had been packed up, teams were set and ready to go, and Pastor Mark Thompson had shared with everyone a reminder about what the purpose of this ministry is and we had joined in a huge circle for prayer before heading out for the morning on our routes!

Friends!!  Let me encourage you today to look right in your city to see how you can help make a difference.  How YOU can show LOVE!  You don't always need to go across the continent, sometimes, you just need to open your eyes to the people and situations right around you!

I hesitated before taking any photos this past week because I feel like mission work...serving God... has become about the photos - because if we don't have the photos - did we even do it?  
HOWEVER, I had such a memorable moment that I thought, no - you know what?!  I want social media to see that GREAT things are happening locally and I truly believe greater things are yet to come!

We are so much BETTER TOGETHER!!!





Keeping it real moment - this precious girl and the interaction my team had with her family was a reminder for me that love has no language...it is universal.

This little 3 year old and I played as some of my teammates were providing education for her mom; along with a few other younger gals on my team we simply played ball and tag.  The laughter that came from her little self just filled my soul.

You see, her family just recently moved from out of the country and speak and understand no English.  At all.  They are fluent in Portuguese.  While my teammates were using Google translator to communicate with the mom, we played.  Simple as that.  Nothing extravagant, no fancy toys, just a squishy ball she had laying in the backyard.  The mom was able to "talk" with our teammates and they were able to set up time to come back with an interpreter to see how we can come alongside and help her family.  We probably spent a total of less than 10 minutes with them and as we were leaving we were hugging on them and saying Thank You, hoping they understood what we were implying, and that sweet girl waved and smiled so big and said, clearly, Thank You!

She may not have understood a word we said the entire time we were there, but I can guarantee she felt the love.  
Love, in any language, is universal.

So I opened my arms and she ran back.  
And I did; I grabbed a quick photo because I want social media to see there are needs right here, too.  That we have people living in poverty here, too.  That there are people, right here in our community, that need to be shown love, unconditional love.
Not that we shouldn't be going to other areas in our world, but more so of getting it right, right here where we live first.
And then start the ripple effect outwards.  

We were able to connect with that precious family who didn't understand much, if any, of what we were physically speaking to them, but they understood we were there in love, and it was truly a God moment.

Friends, yes - we were in the not so good section of our city, but we showed up.
With food.  With resources to help.  And most importantly, with love.  

And that is what it's about - pouring out and loving on the people right in our community.  

My heart is still full and that is just one of the amazing things that happened that morning.
I also made two friends!  Friends I am so excited to serve alongside again next week.  



I have a shirt my hubby recently gave me that says, THE LAMPS ARE DIFFERENT BUT THE LIGHT IS THE SAME!

And as I looked around at the circle I was a part of - holding hands, united, standing shoulder to shoulder - it is so very true.

We are ALL so different.
Different ages.
Different sizes.
Different colors.
Different educations.
Different backgrounds.
Even representing different churches.

But the LIGHT inside of us is the same!  
And, on a gloomy, dreary Saturday morning, I can tell you - the LIGHT was shining bright!

I want to encourage those of you who live locally to join me next Saturday!!!

And I want to introduce you to Pastor Mark Thompson and his lovely wife, Felicia:


I simply love them.
And once you get to know them, I think you'll find yourself loving them, too.
They are the driving force behind this ministry and have formed a team, that's still growing, that have the same mindset of reaching out and serving and loving our local community.  

I wanted to share a follow up email we received today from Pastor Mark in response to Saturday to reinforce what a difference this ministry is making in one small area of our city:

I want to give a great big THANK YOU hug to everyone that came out on this past Saturday for our opening Adopt-A-Block for 2018!
This was another incredible God filled day.  Because you came out in good numbers, we are able to expand to add more blocks we serve. 
In fact, during this past Saturday, we meet a family who moved here from Portugal. This single mom had three little children who needed to be enrolled in school.  God sent the supervisor from the Wicomico County Judy Center with us and they made contact with this family, now these children can start a formal education!!  
Also, we went to a house of a family who had moved into the are last month, but during this entire time they 
have been sleeping on the floor (children are in Pre-K, Kindergarten and 1st grade.  I was able to give them more food today and let the mother find more clothes and blankets in our "Clothes Closet" in the Miracle Building.  We will be delivering a bed to her on Saturday. ( If you have or know of someone giving away a kitchen table and chairs, please let me know).
  
This is our mission for Adopt-A-Block, Find a Need, Fill It...Find a Hurt, Heal It!!  
Thanks to each of you, we are able to turn our Mission into Motion!
You will be able to see our pictures on Sunday at our Adopt-A-Block table.

God bless and get ready for Saturday, February 24, 2018 at 8:30am 

Pastor Mark Thompson 

I may be a tiny person, but I have big dreams!
And I truly believe that it is through the hearts of people that I joined with on Saturday, that recognize that we are better together, that is going to help those dreams come to life!  
That it's not about the color of our skin, what kind of car we drive, our jobs, how "good" our kids are - it's simply about showing love that has so freely been given to us!

Great things are happening.
Greater things are yet to come!


xoxo,
Jenny