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Faith in Action at Sunnyside

Today we held a craft fundraiser at church. A church friend had this great idea as a new possible fundraiser for the Missions Committee. We had a good weekend with friends working on our own or church projects, chatting together, and sharing a meal (and ice cream with ALL of the fixing, except bananas. We forgot the bananas – oops!).

Over the two days, we encountered just some of the people in the church who use their works to make faith happen.

  • Marsha came as a participant of the fundraising effort, but instead of working on her own project, she spent an hour first doing office work for the church and then her craft “project” was actually for an upcoming neighborhood event preparing hand crafted signage for the day.
  • Kerrie didn’t bring her own project either; she created beautiful gift tags to sell at our annual church Bazaar fundraiser for Missions projects.
  • Nearly half of our basement has been renovated, and we were the first group to be able to use it. Several people came by just to see the beautiful changes. Thank you, Don, and all of the volunteers and workers who made this modernization possible!
  • Our kitchen has been a growing mess for a year, and more so with the building projects happening now, but our Pastor Matt and Marsha worked a near miracle Thursday by completely organizing the kitchen into a room with counter space, all of the supplies in the appropriate places, and nothing to trip over anymore. We were very grateful to be able to use the stove to heat our meal today.
  • There is also roof repair over the lobby, and Jack came by and spent an hour cleaning and readying the church for all of tomorrow’s activities.
  • Waffle church is in the morning – a concept fun for kids with waffles (regular and gluten-free), maple syrup (the real deal and low sugar), and interactive worship time (crayons for everyone!). Ben won’t be able to come early and help as he’d planned due to his work, but he stopped in just to make sure there were enough supplies for the event and to lend his waffle maker. While there, he also helped us finish cleaning up and load our cars.

These are just a few of the people who put their faith into action for the lives the church impacts every day. This is a place not only of worship, meetings, and Sunday School; this is a place of compassion, love, relationship, peace, forgiveness, welcoming, justice, grace, and growth. We take Jesus instruction to welcome all, feed the hungry, and clothe those in need as a call to action. All are welcome in this place. And we do mean all.

I am humbled by the passion, energy, and diligence of these people I call Sunnysiders. Membership is not required to enter these doors. Faith in action is also not required, but it seems to be a side-effect of those who come here.

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Posted by on September 17, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

National Parks: From Dating to Married

 
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Posted by on September 2, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Cat People: The Best of People

This bumbling butter fingers managed to drop her phone yet again, this time flat on it’s face with an undesirable sound. The last day of May was the last day of my phone’s life.

The first day of June I headed to the phone store expecting to spend a good, long time there awaiting my options. But I was pleasantly surprised when the body builder guy with a buzz cut and a serious business sense quickly came to my assistance and started the process of ordering a replacement within minutes of my arrival. Wow!

He was all business and serious techy stuff until he verified my email address which contains the word cat. This big burly guy turned into a four-year old little boy, grinning from ear to ear, with a vibrant sparkle in his eyes! He asked how many cats I had, the type of cats, and their names.

I shared about our girls and then asked how many he had (clearly, someone that excited and giddy had to have at least a couple to his name). He has three: two Persian and one bobtail. He was so animated and excited. The service got even better after that (I didn’t imagine it possible, but it’s true), as if being a fellow friend of cats put me in a special class of people. True or not, I couldn’t have had a better experience all around. I even received the replacement phone in 23 hours.

My Prayer for You: That all of your utility experiences are as good as this and that all people surprise you for the better.

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Posted by on June 4, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Easter 2017

Easter is shaping up into something nearly overwhelming for me again this year. Last week Friday, Kerrie asked if my mom and I would like to see “The Case for Jesus” with her. Wow! I hadn’t known anything about it, and I was moved by the research (being part geek).

Then, we had Palm Sunday, where we walked around the church waving our palms and singing hymns. The joy in celebrating was visible on the faces of this church family.
Maundy Thursday night was dinner with church friends – a day to remember what we’ve done wrong and need to change, a day to remember Christ’s last supper and breaking of the bread with his loved ones. We enjoyed each other’s company and shared stories of life, love, fear, and humor. I felt blessed to be with friends.
Saturday was my Uncle Ralph’s 90th birthday. His daughter invited family to gather to celebrate this family treasure. He’s a walking miracle, and we got to hug him, tell him we love him, and enjoy our family. Remember the treasures in your life.
Today, I saw this article. Today, I feel hopeful for the good in the world to spring a new on Easter Sunday: While the men were hiding, the women delivered the good news.
On Easter, we’ll gather with some family and some friends after a morning full of Easter celebrations at church. May Easter bring you new joy, life, and love. May you be with loved ones on the important events in your life. May you always have hope for tomorrow. May you know you are loved (because you are).
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Posted by on April 16, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Gone but Never Forgotten – Erin Joy

Today, my niece Erin would have turned 38, but instead she’s forever 26. In these 11.5 years since she’s been gone from us, it’s been easier to grieve, and to remember the joys instead of the sorrows. She was a joy to me, and I still miss her every day.

We all probably have a loved one or several that we miss. I truly believe she’s in a better place, and that I will get to see her one day again, along with all of the others who’ve gone before us.

Bad things happen, but God is not behind them. Instead He weeps and grieves with us, gives the loved one a forever home, and holds us in the palm of His hand until we can walk and talk again.

Today I can stand up and tell you about a beautiful, talented, vibrant, and wise woman named Erin. I am a better person for having had her in my life. Because of her, I got my first tattoo. Because of me, she learned to love Pierce Brosnan. Because of her, I learned to love Heath Ledger. She was born on my half birthday, so we would celebrate each other’s half birthday when we celebrated our birthday. Easter is hard, because she and I would take turns giving each other an Easter basket filled with games, books, puzzles, and candy. She would do one year, and me the next.

Erin, her friend Lynn, and I became a trifecta of friendship. It’s because of this there are craft days in my life then and now, stories of snorting jingle bells from the back seat of my car, and that tattoo. Lynn and I are pretty sure that Erin is still present at craft days. We feel her presence and hear her laughter.

Erin, you are still loved, respected, and your cat Joy is well cared for. If Joy gets to see you again before me, I hope she is kind in her description of the diet I put her on and forcing her to be cuddled and loved.

Two friends in their mid-twenties. One standing, One sitting. One lives today, One is missed greatly. Signed, Gray tiger cat resting on a blanket and surrounded by yarn and yarn and more yarn is dark colors that cooridnate with the floral brown and red and moss couch.IMG_0017 Small

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Posted by on April 7, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Critical Thinking = Lie Detector

Last night I was blessed to see Kareem Abdul-Jabbar speak at Miller Auditorium as part of the Kalamazoo Reading Together book of 2017. He made me cry and laugh, and we gave him multiple standing ovations. I chose to come home before I turned into a cranky pumpkin last night and an unfun person at work today, so I do not have his signature in my book.

One of the many concepts he shared that stuck for me was about critical thinking. He said something to the effect that we need to teach our children critical thinking instead of merely to memorize facts and recall them on tests because they need to be able to identify lies. Someone who only knows the answers to fill in a test might not be able to hear the subtle nuances that identify truth from fiction.

I believe I was taught both, but sometimes my lie detector is broken. Other times, I cannot keep the memories or critical thinking skills in my head long enough to use them on a test. Or is it just that when the word “test” is spoken or at the top of a page, I suddenly feel like I’m in a frozen tundra and ice demons are tormenting me?

In all seriousness, it is vital that we be able to identify fact from fiction. It can save us time, energy, and heartache.

Moral of the Story: Critical thinking is a skill that will pay off for a lifetime. Memorization skills fade as we age (at least for me).

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Posted by on March 16, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

From Common to Amazing

“When you list the places Christ lived, draw a circle around the town named Nazareth – a single-camel map dot on the edge of boredom. For thirty of his thirty-three years, Jesus lived a common life.”
Then some other text, and finishing up with this: “The town may have been common, but his attention to it was not.”These are a quotes from a Max Lucado book.
Wow! I love that imagery of a one-camel town and wish I could write that way. It made me laugh, and then to think about people who come from common places.
My heros, such as, Martin Luther King, Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela, Mrs. Echols (best teacher ever), Grandma Ewert, and my Dad … they all had common starts to life, but they live (or lived) in such a way as to leave a path of peace, kindness, and wisdom in their wake. They made shining moments in history that left this world a better place than when they arrived.
Moral of this story: Most of us come from common beginnings, and we can All be amazing to someone in this world. Start with kindness and see where you go.
Dad by his old Chevrolet truck with a bumper sticker saying, Only Love Beats Milk
 
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Posted by on March 15, 2017 in Uncategorized

 
 
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