I have been thinking about teams a lot lately....about what it is like to have a team that plays well together, what winning looks like and that special camaraderie teams have. My husband and I follow a certain baseball team during the summer and they are usually on top, I don't think many like them because of this but they play well together, they know how to work together and get the job done. I think sometimes our life can be like that. We are in a tough game called life and we are most always playing against a tough opponent. During this game, I sometimes have to rely heavily on God and He never fails me. I pray to Him when I know that I have been painted into a corner.... but why is it when I get to that point that I finally remember to look up? I have been working on that. I want to look up more, to rely on Him for more of everything, every moment of the day rather than wait until I realize that I have once again tried to do it on my own. What I realize in this is my human frailty and then I get to see God's power, His majesty and His faithfulness to me, even when I am not that faithful to Him. I know He is walking alongside of me all day long, I just want to be more aware that He is there--I know that He is on my team and I want to be a good team player, I want to remember that the game is not won by being out on the field alone. Recently, I have experienced Him in the answering of prayers, of course He always answer prayers--for all of us-- but I am not sure that we wait for the answer or realize that when the answer comes it was from Him. NeighborLink is God's ministry, you and I are just the tools He is using to get His work here on earth done, we are a team. Sometimes though, I know that there are needs that I cannot meet, like a dumpster or food for volunteers and my humanness steps in and wants to fix it....I can't, but He can and He did. After taking those needs to Him in prayer and asking Him to provide and expecting Him to, He provided. It is truly amazing to see Him at work and what a blessing to then be able to share with others His wonderful deeds and just how sovereign He is. BUT, it requires us to do our part of the team. He expects us to pray and ask Him for what we need, and to be His vessels, His tools of the trade to speak love into those who so desperately need it. Recently NeighborLink has experienced some growing pains--good ones but ones that have left seats that were filled by wonderful men empty on our Board--we have been such a good team together. We have been blessed by these men as they have been very instrumental in taking care of some much needed projects, loving the clients and orchestrating some teams to help get other projects done. In taking our new need to God for new members on the team (Board), God has answered in a very different way so far. He has sent small groups from churches and interested people to NeighborLink to complete projects, to do that very work that He has asked each of us to do. So, although we are still in need of help on the Board, what a blessing to realize that God is answering our prayer in His way in sending us more hands and feet to serve those He loves. Who knows--one of those individuals just might be a new Board member down the road--God's plan is perfect! If you ask me, it is a pretty game plan, we ask and we receive but we also have to play our part....it is all part of that relationship that He cherishes. What a wonderful coach we have and all He asks is that we be team players. Go NeighborLink! Go Team!
NeighborLink just completed its first Mission Week with the great help of Next Step Storm of which this week would not have happened. We started the week on April 27th and completed officially on May 2, having to be back at the last job site one more day--the roofing project--to finish up as the lack of man power got the best of us that last day. I will tell you though what was not lacking and that was the presence of the Almighty! He showed up in the weeks preceding Mission Week by answering prayers for funding for food and for a container for roofing material. He showed up all week as He kept us strong through His Word as we began each day with scripture and prayer and lifting each other up as we gave Him glory and honor for the day before and the day to come; He provided safety all week as well as beautiful days in which to be out serving. It was great to see a total of 74 volunteers--sometimes the same, sometimes different, come and go each day, to make new friends, to connect with one another as a part of the body of Christ. Together we completed a total of 13 projects serving a total of 20+ people in those six days. The "+" comes from the fact that one of the projects was for CrossFire Ministry with a roof repair and who knows how many people will come through those doors for counseling and help in the months to come. As I reflect back on this past week, I am refreshed by the Awesome God we serve and what a privilege it is to serve Him by serving others. For me, it just isn't enough to have the knowledge of Him, I want to know Him in my heart, and then show it to others through my hands. It doesn't do anyone any good if it remains in my head.....not even me. I am always so blessed, beyond measure to be able to go out and serve others, to meet them where they are, to pray with them and show them someone cares. And what fun we had serving together as we shared our lives with each other, some of us having met for the first time. I don't know, I think that I will be dwelling on this past week for some time, to glean from it what I have learned about myself, others and about the Lord. I know that I will be smiling every time I think of the interior of my car being washed (thank you again, Janet...) or the great breakfasts we started the days out with (thank you Anne and Marcia), at how special it is to live in Auburn, IN where you can get donuts at a discount (thank you Tom's Donuts) and coffee for your volunteers for free (thank you Starbucks) just because we live together in community--Kim, from Next Step Storm, just kept saying, "This would never happen in Birmingham....", I was so proud of my hometown. But more so, I was so thrilled to be serving Him intentionally all this week; to serve with a variety of like-minded people who understand why we do this---because of the great love that was shown to us on the cross where an innocent man died for each and every one of us so that we may live forever, seems like a small price to pay to respond back with showing love in return to our fellow man.
It's a new year and new opportunities have come for NeighborLink DeKalb County in 2015! We are truly blessed by the open doors that God has given us. The Board of Directors and I have prayed that God would direct us in the new year, that we would know what paths He wants us to take. He has answered those prayers and sent opportunities to us to use for His glory. We are excited to offer you the opportunity of working alongside NeighborLink and Next Step Storm as we partner together in service. This ministry from Birmingham, AL is coming for a week in April to share with us their desire to bring not only more volunteers to us by helping us promote NeighborLink, but by serving our neighbors in need with love. We are thrilled to be hosting them for this week, to be serving with them in our own communitites, loving on our own neighbors and bringing the opportunity of serving to more people from northeast Indiana. We have been called to serve and now you have the opportunity to answer that call--along with other northeast Indiana volunteers who wish to serve God by showing their love to others. It is really easy, just do a heart check and answer the call! There is something for everyone to do, be it a visit to someone who just needs a listening ear to someone who has rain pouring in from their roof. We all have needs but not everyone has a way to have those needs met. Let us offer you the opportunity to be that someone that meets a need for someone that otherwise will have a need go un-met in 2015. We look forward to all of the other opportunities that will be placed in our path this year, that we will grab them and run with them! It is a great feeling to know that the Almighty answers our prayers and that we are so priviledged to get to do His work. I hope that you join us as we reach out to our neighbors in 2015! It's a new year and I am excited for all that will be happening! Join us by signing up as a volunteer! You will be blessed more than the blessings you will be sharing with your neighbor---guaranteed!
About a month ago, Bill and I went on a mission trip to Alabama. You might be wondering why we would do such a thing when we have a ministry and there are many needs here in DeKalb County. I wondered too, but just for a split second as I knew why we were going. First of all, Bill had never been on one and I knew that they can be life changing and second, we would be reconnecting with friends of ours who run a non-profit in Birmingham and are doing much of the same we do here--reaching out with hands and feet to those in need, ministering to those that need to know the love of Christ. But why would we go so far away to do this when we have it in our own back yard? Well, it is confirming to me to and believe it or not uplifting. What we are doing here is important, but needs are not just limited to DeKalb County--there are people anywhere you want to go to in need of help with roofs, painting, ramps, picking up in their yards, and prayer. It doesn't matter where you are, it is in your back yard if only you choose to open your eyes to see it. It is what started Steps of Care DBA NeighborLink DeKalb County. My eyes were opened on a mission trip to Mexico as during that trip, I realized that we had the same poverty, the same need for human compassion in our own back yards that I was seeing there-- but what was I going to do about it? God nudged me enough that I started a ministry (with His help and guidance) that was all about serving those that had needs, both tangible and spiritual. Has it been easy? Has it been smooth sailing? NO! Has it been worth it? Has it been rewarding? Has it been fulfilling? YOU BET! It is never easy to put yourself out there, to do something that you didn't think you could but what I think would even be more hard is to say, "I can't do that because (fill in your excuse)" or to not open your eyes to the neighbors around you or choose to ignore that there are needs----"you are just too busy right now--later". It is very convicting when your eyes are opened and you see the need--it is hard to ignore if your heart is full of compassion. I have heard quite a few people say out loud that they don't believe in serving in other places when we have so many needs in our own communities. Mission trips when far from home seem to serve the purpose of showing us things that we might have otherwise grown accustom to and have looked at with closed eyes, we become stagnant in what we see in our every day world. It is why many times, so many will take trips out of the states and then the next year stay in the states. I have a little quip on my refrigerator--don't know who wrote it but I keep it there as a reminder of why I do what I do--because of Him! Please indulge me while I share it with you and talk about convicting! "If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn't help the poor, either we have to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we've got to acknowledge that He commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition and then admit that we just don't want to do it." So, I ask you, where do you stand? Are your eyes open? Is your compassion for another human real? Do you want to help? Do you maybe need to make a change--in attitude, thought, action? I encourage you to start today with taking notice of those around you, or you can sign up to volunteer--we have done all the hard work for you in finding the needs---you just have to make the call and go as commanded. If you need to, go somewhere you have never been to before and look around with eyes wide open and then come home, I bet you will see some of the same.
I can't seem to get one of the last projects that I did with my wonderful husband out of my mind....it was a job that was easy enough although it did take several hours, but it is not the job that I can't shake loose, it was the people that we served. What a lovely couple and more so what a warm visit we had with them, that is what I cannot get out of my mind--perhaps I am to share it with you. While we were working, we noticed that the man of the house seemed to be a bit quiet but thought maybe he was just shy. We finished our job and he helped my husband put a ladder away that we had borrowed, still remaining somewhat quiet. When I went inside, after finishing some clean up outside, I noticed that my husband was no where to be found and so I asked the woman of the home where he was. She said that her husband had taken him downstairs to see his office that was very special to him and added, "It is one of the few things that he remembers anymore to talk about." I knew then that the man of the house must have Alzheimer's, he quietness now made sense. She asked if I would like to go see it and I of course went down to his office where a room full of beautiful model airplanes had been carefully and meticulously put together and displayed, I had never seen so many in one place so well done--all done by the man. This room was a room full of memorabilia of the time spent in the Korean War with a few pictures thrown in of life other than the war that were special to him. There was one model plane that caught my eye and he said it was like the one he had flown in and parachuted from, and there was a picture of he and his brother when they had met up during the war there. It was like walking back in time and knowing who this man really was, it was a story of his life in a small but bright room that he called his office. As I looked around, I made the comment, "Everyone has a story to tell..." and she replied, "yes, they do...." and that is where I realized that this day was so important. Here is a man who is slowly not going to remember his story and taking the time to hear it when we did was a big deal, it was reaching out in a way that our service wasn't ever going to. We could go wash windows again, but would we ever be able to hear about his story again from him? Would we ever know that he lived in a town outside of where I grew up and knew of my tiny obscure hometown? Would we know that he and his wife were childhood sweethearts at 15 and then found each other again after the war, feel in love all over again and married? Would we ever be able to hear about his devoted love to country and service he dedicated on behalf of us again? These are the reasons that we serve. Yes, it is great that we are able to meet tangible needs, those things are very important. But to stop and listen to another human being who has something to share, a story to tell, that is why we do what we do. We were able to stay and have this man share with us and let him know that his life was important and that who he was and what he did mattered to people he had just met. It was showing that God's love does transcend to every person whether we have known them for a lifetime or for a few hours. That couple was special to me because of what they have endured in their lifetime together but more so what they are going through now together. As we left, we offered prayer to this special couple and I continue to pray for them. It is great that we now know them not as a project but as people that we live with who are living life just as we are, one day at a time, if we can help them out if they need it, it is a bonus. That is living in community and that is why we do this.