Blessing

Unable To Count That High

The leftover turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and more fills the fridge.

Pies and cookies line the buffet table ready to be eaten as soon as our stomachs can hold another bit of food.

Bodies of friends lay asleep in the living room buried under blankets, pillows, and other remnants of last night’s sleepover.

 

I sit at my kitchen table…

overwhelmed…

in awe…

humbled…

grateful…

 

How gracious is our God!

 

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Awesome God, I can’t help but pause and bring you thanks and praise for this day. 

For a new day to be alive and live in you. 

For an amazing time of worship this morning with Your Family, focusing us as we began this day of giving thanks.

For beautiful friends to spend time with and celebrate with this week. 

For big meals… and small meals… reminders of your provision.

For a house and food and family.

For grace… freedom… life.

For the fact that as I begin to “count my blessings,” even just in today,… I suddenly realize, I can’t count that high!

I give you thanks.

In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

31 Days of Hope

Hope {Day 7} – Giving Hope from Afar

In a way, this post is kind of “Part 2” of yesterday’s post.  I mentioned yesterday that often in the times where hope needs to be offered, there aren’t really words or actions that can give that hope… rather, being present is simply enough. 

 

While I believe that is often completely true, I can’t just stop there. No, I’m not saying that I want to do more.  Rather, my heart calls out, “What about the times when I CAN’T be there?” 

 

Three months ago I moved halfway across the country from all my family and friends.  I’ve come to realize how difficult it can be to see friends and family go through hard times (and good times too) and be hundreds of miles away… feeling helpless.

 

While technology is wonderful and allows for more communication during those times, the act of just “being” with them, isn’t really an option. How do I give hope in those times?

 

Up until this last week I probably would have finished this story by saying something to the effect of “I guess all I can do from here is pray for them.”

 

While that is a true statement, I can’t really DO anything else… I realized a new, and what I believe to be a better, perspective while listening to Pastor’s sermon this weekend:

 

Prayer shouldn’t be my only option to help simply because I’m not close enough to do something “more.”   With this perspective, I make prayer something small.   But dear friends, prayer is anything but small.   As Pastor Chuck said, “The prevailing power of God flows through people who pray.”

 

Instead of seeing myself limited to this seemingly insignificant task due to my distance from those hurting, I can feel privileged to be able to pray for my family and friends when they experience trials and joys in life. 

 

I can find FAITH that God’s power works through the prayers I’m lifting up for the CUNE/Seward community as they mourn the loss of a little 10-year old girl right now.

 

I can find JOY even in being able to stand on a hill with arms outstretched… praying that the God of HOPE would surround the hearts and minds of those I care about whether I can be present with them or not.

I can find PEACE as I pray that those I love would find hope to be an “anchor for their soul” (Hebrews 6:18-20). 

And through that process of prayer, I am then also anchored to Hope Himself, Jesus Christ.  

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Bekah's Heart, Crossroads, First Trinity, Internship Highlights

Joyfullyblessed… by Crossroads CONNECT

Have I mentioned lately how much I love my job?  If I haven’t, well it’s A LOT!  Sometimes I even hate using the words “job” or “work” to describe my internship here at First Trinity because I just simply love what I get to do each day.

Anyway, I’ve decided that a lot of my friends/family back home (and even some of you here at First Trinity that are not directly connected with High School or College Ministries) never really hear about what I’m actually doing on this internship.   To fix that I’ve decided that every once in a while I’d give an update about one specific area of ministry I’m focused on.  While there are many I could start with, I’m really excited about Crossroads right now, specifically Crossroads CONNECT  and thought I’d share about that first.

Crossroads (for those that don’t know) is the name of the high school minsitry here at First Trinity.  This ministry makes up about half of my job description this year and deals with everything related to high school ministry… activities, events, Sunday school, summer trips etc.  The idea behind the name “Crossroads” is that high schoolers often find themselves at a crossroads in the decisions they are making and Crossroads programs are aimed at connecting the ancient truth of God’s Word with real life issues of high school students.  It comes from Jeremiah 6:16 which says:

“This is what the Lord says: ‘Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is and walk in it and you will find rest for your souls.”

A new Crossroads program started just four weeks ago and is called Crossroads CONNECT.  This weekly gathering specifically for high school students meets on Thursday nights with three main goals:

  • to connect high school students with Jesus (to connect “real life” and “faith” in high school students’ lives)
  • to connect high school students with each other
  • to connect high school students with the First Trinity Family as a whole.

Throughout the year we hope to reach these broad goals through many means including devotions, Bible studies, games, activities, service projects, and more.  

What we do specifically each night kind of rotates.   Once a month we will have a service project around church.  This not only was a request of the students (to have more opportunties to do service projects) but will also help connect them to First Trinity as a whole as they explore opportunities to serve and see others who serve in the church.  Once a month will be more games and activities.  While we hope to create an environment every week where students would feel comfortable to invite their friends, this game night each month will be specifically geared toward inviting friends to check out Crossroads.  The other weeks of each month are spent doing activities, Bible studies, etc. which dig deep into the issues high school students face and what God’s Word says about them.

So there’s kind of an overview of Crossroads CONNECT!

Want to pray for this new program?  Here are some specific things to pray for:
– that God would continue to be present each week as we discuss real life issues and His Word
– for opportunities through this for students to connect with other congregation members and that God would provide adult volunteers passionate about these goals
– for the relationships that are being formed through this weekly gathering
– for students to be challenged to know God more and to show Him to their friends

NY Adventures

Adventures of the New York Variety #3 and #4

Yay for more New York Adventures!  This past week provided two more opportunities to explore the area and have some fun.

 

Past New York Adventures (In case you missed these posts)

Going to the Buffalo Italian Heritage Festival with the Mongielo Family

Trip to Niagara Falls with my sister and her fiance (I guess I never wrote about that…. hmm.)

Shakespeare in the Park with Darcy and Touring Niagara County with my friend, Mark

 

Adventure #3  – Elmwood Arts Festival

I’m pretty sure Buffalo, NY has more festivals than any other place I’ve been.  My personal philosophy is that we’re snowed in all winter that we have to take every excuse they can get in the summer to be outside.  Seriously, I think there’s been SOME kind of festival every weekend I’ve been here (though I’ve only gone to two) and many weekends there are multiple festivals going on at the same time.

 

Anyway, on Sunday, my friend Tracy invited me to the Elmwood Arts Festival.  It was a beautiful day and fun to walk around and see all the art, hear the music, watch the parade, etc. before heading back to her friend’s house nearby for dinner. Here are some pictures:

 

Vendors with all of their homemade art and crafts

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Music and Dance taking place on a stage at one end of the festival.

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All wrapped up with a giant parade with the kids waving and wearing the crafts they made!

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Adventure #4 ~ Waterbiking on the Erie Canal

I’m constantly amazed at how our God provides.  Just as I was maybe starting to get a little lonely here in New York, God has provided opportunities to get out and hang out with other people.  One of those moments was when the Canfield family randomly called up Monday afternoon and asked if I wanted to come over for dinner that night. It was a delicious meal and was nice to share with such a wonderful family.

 

The fun continued after dinner when we went down to the Erie canal to ride waterbikes.  When they told me about them, I was thinking more like a paddleboat, but think more: stationary bike meets pontoon boat.  Well I guess you can just see for yourself:

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Kristina joined up with us too (though sadly couldn’t do the paddleboats because of her knee).  BUT we had a wonderful time wrapping up the night down by the river (I believe it was the Niagara River) eating ice cream and sharing my pictures/stories from Uganda.

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Thanks God for wonderful people, wonderful adventures, and for being a wonderful God! 🙂

First Trinity, NY Adventures

joyfullyblessed and made NEW!

There have been a lot of NEW things in my life lately.

 

The summer started by purchasing a NEW car (well actually it’s used, but new to me).

Then I headed off to many NEW experiences in a NEW country, Uganda, coming home with a completely NEW perspective on life. 

A week later I moved to a NEW city in NEW York into a NEW apartment in order to start a NEW job at a NEW church.

After about a week in this NEW place I headed off to NEW Orleans with the youth group for the National Youth Gathering building NEW relationships with the youth and adults (some of whom I hadn’t met before we even got to NEW Orleans). 

I’ve adapted to NEW schedules and NEW routines meeting more NEW people, daily it seems.  There are NEW grocery stores to get used to (or lost in) and while simple things like a NEW hair cut (which happened today) may not seem like a big deal, it’s still something NEW.

 

New isn’t necessarily good or bad… just new. And in the midst of the newness… it’s beautiful to see what has stayed the same.  Sure there are changes in relationships when moving across the country from my family and friends, but my new schedule has allowed me more time to keep in touch/reconnect with many of them.  The trip to New Orleans allowed me to see many family members and friends from all over the country, all over my past.  And most of all, God has remained the same!  Despite all the newness, the “old” doesn’t really go away… it seems just to be a part of an even bigger picture… a part of the process where God continues to make me new.  These “new” things combine with past things to make me who I am today.  

 

I can tell you all about the new experiences I’m having and post pictures of the new places I’ve been, but oh how I wish I could describe for you on here the way God is making ME new right now… from the inside, out. 

 

The whirlwind of all this newness has caused me to seek Jesus in beautiful NEW ways and it’s such a joy to be able to see him at work truly making my heart new… restoring me to Himself, again… and again…. and again.  I really do wish I could explain it to you, but it’s impossible.  Instead, I’ll just pray that you would experience the newness as well!  He proclaims in His World:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Cor 5:17) 

And check out his passage from Revelation 21

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.  He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true."

Our God is making everything new and one day he will restore all of heaven and earth to it’s beautiful fullness, like he originally desired… no pain, no crying, no death… only JOY and abundant BLESSING!  Oh how I long for that day!

 

Whether everything seems NEW in your life right now or you feel like everything’s so old you need to get out the dust rags, I pray that you would be able to experience a newness found only in a Christ… a newness that one day, will NEVER fade!