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Kids Talk Justice

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The kids took their 1st night bags for Hope Pkgs very seriously! My favorite part of this playgroup was how so many kids wanted to take time to show me everything they chose for their bags. Their items were carefully chosen and packed. They understood how special the items inside would be for kids in foster care.

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We celebrated kids with bubbles, glitter play dough and we made fabric heart bookmarks to remember to pray for kids in foster care. After we read On the Night You Were Born, the kids also had some parachute and sidewalk chalk fun!

HPBlog3Learn more about the work of Hope Pkgs at their website. Lisa Hoeve and her team are doing amazing work and gaining more and more traction everyday to support kids, organizations and families within the foster care system. You can also follow Hope Pkgs on Facebook and Twitter.

Don’t forget our last summer playgroup coming Monday Evening, August 8 from 6:30- 7:30 pm at Kollen Park. We are going to celebrate the world coming together for the Olympics with three local service projects. We will be supporting Holland Rescue Mission with clothing donations, decorating lunch bags for Kids Food Basket, and donating dollars to The Flint Water Fund. There will also be an epic Olympic obstacle course!

And It Was Beautiful

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I was here. I saw beauty. I embraced it.

Kara Tippetts is the author of The Hardest Place, and co-author of Just Show Up. Her last book And It Was Beautiful offers thoughtful responses to living and dying well. Kara passed away March of 2015 after battling cancer, leaving behind her husband and four children. She blogged faithfully at Mundane Faithfulness. Where you can still read her reflections and also new material carried forward by those close to her.

After I read Kara’s work I feel my heart softening. Could I celebrate life in the midst of the long good-bye? I might not be as gracious as she was, but I hope that I could learn. I think that is what she leaves us with. Her gentle love for a savior.

She loves despite her prayers not being answered the way she would have wanted. She wrestles. Maybe we all need to be a little more transparent about how hard life can be. How disappointing, scary, sad, and just plain angering it all can be sometimes. And also beautiful. Heartbreakingly beautiful that we get to live for Christ here in an imperfect world.

 

She reminds us to live in a way that each breath is an Amen.

Where we are thankful for the time we are given.

Where we see God’s faithfulness to us even in the mundane.

Where we know how desperately we need community to keep going.

Where we lean into how close God is to our hearts.

 

In her last days, she read to her children as they crowded into bed with her. I’d like to share a small part of her chapter, that I feel sums up so much.

Last night we finished the chapter that ended so tenderly, the one where Harry and Ron accepted Hermione as their friend: “But from that moment on, Hermione Granger became their friend. There are some things you can’t share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them.” We loved it. You see, we get it, the hard, and how you have to do it together, and how that glues you.

Thank you to Kara, for gently leading us to acknowledge a God that loves, even in the hard we do not understand, who beckons us to wrap our arms around each other, because only then do we truly live.

I will be giving away a copy of And It Was Beautiful. Just leave a comment and I will draw a name. Know that I am very grateful to be living life with all of you.

 

They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love

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A Guest Post By Mickie DeVries (My car talk buddy and friend with an endlessly big heart.) 

I feel like I have to preface this post with I’m not a writer . . . I’m a mom, I drive carpool, I take pretty pictures, but I most definitely am not a writer, but you are stuck with me today 🙂  I mentioned this idea of a post to Lisa while our children took swimming lessons in June and she liked the idea that was brewing in my head, and then said the words I dreaded to hear . . . maybe you should think of doing a guest post.  Fast forward a month and this idea was still tugging at my brain, however, I kept pushing it down because after all I’m not a writer and maybe Lisa would forget all about it.  Then I received a message recently from Lisa that went something like this, okay exactly like this since copy and pasting is more my style than retyping:  How are you guys? I miss my daily dose of Mickie! And… now I am going to ask you about that guest post?  She didn’t forget and since I still felt the pull of this topic I’m going to dive in!

 

One Sunday in June we sang the song They’ll Know We Are Christians.  You know the one with the chorus:  and they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love. Yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.  It got me thinking do people really know we are Christians by our love?  Seems like it should be a given since Jesus clearly calls us to do this.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35 (NIV)

Jesus also says in Matthew 5:44 (NIV), “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,”

 

Um… I don’t know about you, but I’m not too good at loving my enemies, anyone excel at this? The more I thought about the statement that they will know we are Christians by our love the more I have questioned if this is an accurate state of the overall Christian church.  There are plenty of people I love, as is true of most Christians, but as a church body are we reaching out to others with love, especially to others that we disagree with?

That is what I question, and if we don’t reach out with loving arms why would a non-believer want to become a follower of Christ when we fall so short of this command

 

More and more lately I see articles, often online, that seek to condemn people in the name of Christianity.  This seems too often be directed at a groups of people that have differing opinions of mainstream Christianity.  Jesus hated sin, but loved the sinner.  We seem to have a hard time with this, but we all struggle with sin, we all fall short without Jesus.

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23 (NIV)

 

I think we need to remember to love more and leave the rest to God.

God can do amazing things through love!  We need to remember that we don’t need to do it all.  In the book Red Letter Revolution (which I won through this blog) I love where it quotes Billy Graham, “It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge, and my job to love.”

Let’s start a revolution today that begins with each one of us asking God to help us love our enemies, to show others kindness even when their beliefs are not in keeping with ours.  Let us lead them to Christ by our love.  Let them know we are Christians by our love . 

 

dsc_3166-edit-3Mickie DeVries lives with her husband Luke of 12 years and their two children Alex and Rylie.  She is a stay at home mom that has a passion for photography, reading, scrapbooking, and God.  You can follow her photography blog at Fresh Modern Photography. 

Photo Credit: Meg VanKampen Studios

One Lord, One Church

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A couple of weeks ago in Holland, Michigan where I live churches covered their individual signs. They covered them with the sign above, in  rucksack stating One Lord, One Church. 

Traveling around town, it was a rather beautiful sight, the visual display of churches working together instead of in competition with each other. I think it is God’s design for his church.

 

Last week, the church we attend held a potluck in an area park. Right before we began another church approached us. They had been out serving the neighborhood by handing out pizza’s. They had extra and they blessed our church by adding them to our potluck. One Lord, One Church. 

I want to hear what ways you have felt the body of Christ come together in such tangible ways. 

 

Here is mine:

Friday night I got to meet my friend, Amy Sullivan at finding God-sized ways to give in the everyday. Her family was visiting family in my area. She took time out of her vacation to hang out. I met Amy about a year ago through our work with the Global Team of 200. She befriended me right away. Sometimes my quiet nature sets me on the fringes. She’s amazing at recognizing those things. In writing, she’s way ahead of me, agented and soon to be published! I can’t wait to share the book with you when its time. She’s a talented and passionate writer and her heart is all about giving back.

Always, she has been so generous with me introducing me to people and opportunities. She is completely unselfish in her help and encouragement. She’s real, honest and oh so funny. I’m so thankful for her friendship and encouragement. In the writing world Amy has been my example of One Lord, One Church. 

 

Thank you to everyone who has been such encouragement to me. Dear friends that never leave me in my everyday life. Family that keeps up. Friends that I pray I will meet in person someday or be reunited with (diane, leese and leslie.) I’m so thankful for you all. I would have quit long ago without each and every one of you!