Meet My Friend: Elizabeth
You have all seen her even if you don’t know her personally. Every Sunday she is at the church helping with ushering and setting up prior to the service. She is a devoted young lady who is making a big difference.
Elizabeth is a student at Kent State. Originally from Kentucky, she came to live with her Aunt Karen and Uncle Mike to further her studies here in Ohio. She is a teacher and a friend. She is also deaf, but communicates so well even with those who do not know sign language. The issue with hearing does not stop her one bit. In fact, she will be beginning to teach an American Sign Language course at the Girard Library.
One of the things I know about Elizabeth is that she is friendly! In fact, this past fall, when we hired 2 young ladies from Girard High School to work in our nursery, she jumped right in and made them feel welcome. In the process of this, she became a part of their inner circle and these young ladies now consider GUMC their church. Her desire to make them feel welcome is a huge part of that process.
If you have not met Elizabeth, say Hi. She is pretty awesome and is a great example of living out one’s faith in a real way in daily life. Meghan
If you’ve been reading my devotionals for any length of time, you may find that I focus on a lot of Old Testament Bible characters. One of my favorites is Elijah. His story is so rich and so full of insight into the things God CAN do with a willing heart.
How does one of the stories in his life relate to our teaching of Abundant Fruit and what God is doing in our lives? In Elijah’s narrative, he has multiple miracles that happen in his presence because of his faith. What is not always focused on are the hurdles that he had to jump to get to the faith he had.
I’ll begin by summarizing one of the many things Elijah did to show that God was truly the one and true God. He basically challenged the followers of Baal to a duel between their Gods. Elijah had both “teams” lay a bull out and ask for their God to rain fire from Heaven. The story goes on to show that the Lord of Elijah produced where the followers of Baal were unable to get any fire even with a great deal of theatrics. This story can be found in 1 Kings 18-19-39.
Elijah showed mighty faith that day and his fruit was abundant. If you look at earlier parts of his story, you will see some challenges that very likely could have taken him out. I think some of what happened the day of the fire raining started during those times of pruning. As Pastor Vicky says, we cannot be fruitful (productive) without pruning.
Do we want the faith that leads to the power that God used in Elijah? We have to be willing to go through the tough times to develop that spiritual muscle- Meghan
Anyone who knows my family knows we were very involved in sports. My oldest son wrestled and my younger two primarily played baseball. There were other sports in the mix, but those were the ones that stuck with each one. Austin, my middle son, was a catcher all through younger years and into college ball. One of the roles of catcher is to lead the team- they sometimes refer to the catcher as the “General” of the field. Considering the arrangement of the position, the catcher often communicates with the batters and the umpire. Sometimes the catcher will say things to disturb the batter’s rhythm. This kind of instigates the player out of concentration thus potentially causing a bad outcome.
Well before their time in baseball were some famous players: Yogi Berra and Hank Aaron. There is a story about how Berra, as a catcher, would try to do this “trash talking” and once he had a bit sent back to him. You see, when Aaron was at bat, Berra attempted to distract him by telling him “your position of the bat is wrong”. He was trying to convince him that the stance was incorrect because of the position of the writing on the bat (Baseball is all about technique). He kept trying throughout Aaron’s at-bat, but he was unflappable. Aaron had no response, he just focused on his job at the plate. In fact, he hit a home run over the center field fence. After rounding the bases and stepping on the plate, he finally responded to Berra by saying “I didn’t come here to read”.
What would our lives be like if we stayed focused on the work we have to do on this Earth? Would we get more good accomplished if we just let the words of the nay-sayers go in one ear and out the other? -Meghan
You show that you are my intimate friends when you obey all that I command you. I have never called you ‘servants,’ because a master doesn’t confide in his servants, and servants don’t always understand what the master is doing. But I call you my most intimate and cherished friends, for I reveal to you everything that I’ve heard from my Father. You didn’t choose me, but I’ve chosen and commissioned you to go into the world to bear fruit. And your fruit will last, because whatever you ask of my Father, for my sake, he will give it to you! So this is my parting command: Love one another deeply!
I am sure that we have all had an experience with a broken relationship. I am not here to give you relationship advice on how to fix everything. I am here to support you through it. I have struggled in relationships too. It’s important to value what you have and work to reconcile. But enough about me.
I know that you guys are struggling too, but God wants us to remember to remain patient, humble, and kind to everyone though we may be hurting.
May the patience and encouragement that come from God allow you to live in harmony with each other the way Christ Jesus wants. Then you will all be joined together, and you will give glory to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (NCV)- Mara Fiedler (originally posted in 2021)
Do you ever feel a pull on your life to begin exploring things from the past and the present so you can clearly see the future? I’d recommend it as an exercise in seeing what God has done in your life.
For me, I look at this more as a way of opening the way and pushing through the muck to see that the experiences I’ve had are there for a reason. All of it: the amazingly joyful times and the times that are heartbreaking. It has all been in my life to make me who I am to be and to share that with others.
I came from a life that is now like a dream to me. We had it hard growing up and I feel that it has been meant for something. It will not be in vain. God chose to use those times and my current times- the good and the bad- to glorify Him. I endeavor to show the days He's given me. All days...normal days and not-so-normal days.
I have processed my story internally and given God the glory for where he has brought me from, but I think it's time for us to begin sharing the gifts He has given in both the good and bad times.
My life has been a patchwork of things that have become beautiful. Some important people in my life have been crafty. They sewed and did quilting projects, making something that was quite spectacular out of scraps. I was thinking that Patchwork was a good description of what my life is becoming. I plan to piece together things so the beauty shows. The beauty in my flaws, the loveliness of my weakness, The allure of the grace that has enveloped my life.
I hope you will consider reflecting on this as well. - Meghan (originally posted in 2021)
We had the opportunity recently to go to a women’s recovery residential center to do a Pop Up Ruth’s Boutique. Myself and another Volunteer, Michelle, went in not really knowing what to expect. We had pre-packaged bags filled to the brim with shampoo, makeup, soap and hygiene products as a part of the mission of Ruth’s Boutique. (If you want to know more about this program of Thrive 10:10, I’d be happy to share it with you). We also brought in 2 dozen doughnuts from Dunkin.
I must say, we were waiting in the room a bit awkwardly because when you meet new folks and plan to serve them, you:
-Want to make a good impression.
-Want to honor them by not being overly churchy or coming across as the savior of the day for simply doing a small gesture.
-Don’t want to be too chatty and therefore make them uncomfortable. The service is for them, not to make you feel good about yourself.
There was no need for awkwardness. The Dunkin was a hit! Something as simple as a French Cruller made these ladies’ day. Each woman who walked in had a bright smile on her face as she realized she got some much-needed essentials, but also a few items to pamper herself with. You see, these ladies were in the fight of their lives. They were literally fighting to get their lives back. Most women were from all over the country- far from family and familiarity in the name of recovery. The strength it takes to come back from addiction is real and it is attainable, but it requires sacrifice. We saw that in these faces that day. For a moment, the strain of their various pasts washed away and we saw their beauty shine through.
Some asked who we are and what organization we came from. We explained that we are serving with Thrive 10:10. One lady asked us to explain the 10:10. It seemed an odd name (and it is, until it isn’t).
We proceeded to share that Jesus came to give us life in all its fullness
He doesn’t want us to just live, He wants us to THRIVE. It is possible through Him. Guess who got the BIGGEST HUG then?! Just for sharing the truth that some of us honestly take for granted. It was a lovely moment and frankly, a few tears were shed.
So, If you have given to Thrive 10:10 in any way whether it be through products, prayer, volunteering or monetary gifts, you make a difference. We will not soon forget the look on the women’s faces when they were told in no uncertain terms that they are worth the world in God’s eyes!
Meet My Friend….Sherry S:
Sherry S. is a creative type who shares her approachable life hacks as a ministry. Before Life Hacks were a buzzword, she was sharing them. As a servant in our church and community, she has stepped up into ministries with great heart and soul and creativity.
It wasn’t until well into the horrible winter of 2021/2022 that I found out she (and Cindy C.) were not only helping to stock the blessing box on our property, but also were promoting it on social media. It has since gained some traction and has been refilled by our community and used by those in need in our community which is what it’s meant for.
Another tidbit I found out was that Sherry would pack up ingredients for a meal and attach the recipe and put it in the blessing box. This was so the person who came in need because they had nothing for their children could not only feed them, but feed them well. When I heard this, I thought of myself when I was a young, single mom and had to feed my son. Sometimes I had most items for a recipe, but not all, so I had to improvise. It is nice, though, to be able to make a meal as it is supposed to be made. Sherry has been a part of allowing some families to eat well on a budget. In fact, this is a term she uses often. Live well on a budget, getting back to basics….these are both statements I hear often from her and she lives it as much as she teaches it.
Some folks may not realize, but when we needed to fill a spot in the coordinator role for Ruth’s Boutique, Sherry jumped on board enthusiastically. She also was on the team that helped to organize our Bridges Out of Poverty Event and will be helping with the Thrive 10:10 open house later this spring. She is a busy bee who exemplifies what it means to be a servant of God for her community. Thank you, Sherry S. for all you do. We appreciate you.
'That is why the Lord says, “Turn to me now, while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punish. The Lord says, “I will give you back what you lost to the swarming locusts, the hopping locusts, the stripping locusts, and the cutting locusts. It was I who sent this great destroying army against you. Once again you will have all the food you want, and you will praise the Lord your God, who does these miracles for you. Never again will my people be disgraced. Then you will know that I am among my people Israel, that I am the Lord your God, and there is no other. Never again will my people be disgraced. The threshing floors will again be piled high with grain, and the presses will overflow with new wine and olive oil. Rejoice, you people of Jerusalem! Rejoice in the Lord your God! For the rain he sends demonstrates his faithfulness. Once more the autumn rains will come,as well as the rains of spring.'
What Makes You a Godly man or woman? This story starts with good ole’ Facebook. One of my friends shared a post about what makes one a “Godly” man or woman. Each side had a list of things to do to be considered Godly. The men’s roles said the following: Make the money for the household, do the outdoor chores like mowing the lawn, go to church every Sunday, be good to your family, and treat your wife often.
The women’s side shared something different: Do the dishes, make sure laundry is done and folded, keep the house clean and dinner ready for when your husband comes home, stay home to raise the kids and teach them manners, always be ready for a dinner party, and keep yourself looking well enough for your husband.
Honestly, I was shocked. My friend was praising this post she shared. I did not meet half of the criteria to be considered Godly. But is this truly what makes us more like God?
What does it mean to be Godly? According to Oxford, being Godly means to be devoutly religious. I’m not sure how these things make me devoutly religious, but if someone here knows, please share!
My opinion is that being religiously devoted has more to do with being one with God. What makes us one with God? I could say the typical Christian answer of reading your Bible, praying daily, and doing all kinds of community service. I can also say that these things are great for starting to get in tune with God, but I believe we all have different things that help us get in tune with God. For me, it is being around horses. It is my calling and I can feel God around me when I am working with them. For another person, it may be dancing, or singing, or building something. As long as you are working towards feeling His presence and using your gifts to help others and not just yourself, you are more like Him. Be proud of what you do and go out and be Christ to someone in your life.
Mara (originally printed in 2021)