The Community Chaplain

Screenshot 2017-11-27 12.08.53

In nearly all of my posts here on P&P, I’ve referenced the ministry in which my husband and I are involved. Today, I want to talk about exactly what it is. 

What is The Community Chaplain?

TCC is a non-denominational, inclusive ministry that reaches out to those in need of pastoral care or help and guidance in times of life transition. Our goal is to build and support community wherever we serve.

Details, please!

We work with people on life transitions, which can include moving into assisted living,22851991_1387155454727098_4576265222387491961_n working out at-home elder care and moving from rehabilitation back home, as well as a multitude of other related needs.

We visit specific people on a weekly basis for the purpose of fellowship, Bible study and simple home repair. This is part of the over-arching ministry of presence.

We make hospital visits for those who need support during times of family or personal illness.

We perform weddings, funerals, baptisms, home blessings and ministry of the sick.

We make twice a week visits to a local nursing home that has no other chaplaincy support, visiting the patients and praying with them as requested.

17388912_1178283152280997_356438623220942140_oWe lead a service at a local nursing home 2-3 Sundays a month, with the support of several of our ministry partners.

We minister via telephone, offering encouragement and information to those in need or crisis.

We have developed a community garden to offer more opportunity for fellowship and community! There are plots available for those who want to cultivate their own vegetables or flowers, and there are multiple opportunities to join in the larger plot by weeding and helping with planning and planting.

There is no ordinary day in this ministry. We might spend a few hours having coffee with21751654_1348888778553766_7318479025476559990_n an elderly lady who has asked us to do some home repairs, and then stop at another couple’s home to put together a new kitchen table, and then meet someone else at Panera to offer a listening ear, and then spend a few hours on the telephone working out a delicate assisted-living transition before we devote some time to preparing the next lesson or service.

None of these tasks are paid. All are freely offered. All are freely and joyfully given.

We are doing everything we can to be faithful to the calling God has placed in our lives.

History

Nothing happens in a vacuum, and God moves us in His ways and time, so this ministry has been a long time in the making.

In 2008, God led Clint to attend seminary after twenty-plus years in the military and in private sector business. During that time, Clint began to minister to the homeless and those in need through the Loaves and Fishes program. Following his graduation in 2011, he took a position with a hospice provider as a chaplain.

In 2014, Clint moved from hospice chaplaincy to parish ministry when he took an assistant priest position at the Anglican church we’d attended for four years. He was able to further hone his pastoral care gifts there.

23334361_1395758290533481_4756469175240197115_oBy the end of 2015, we knew God was doing something. The situation at the church was causing our family more pain than positivity, and in light of that, to seek God’s will for our next move, we spent the last week of Advent in prayer and fasting.

God apparently took us seriously when we committed to following His plan. On Epiphany, January 6th, Clint’s position in the church was eliminated because of budget constraints. We both felt strongly that God was leading not to a new parish position or another hospice chaplaincy but to serve Him in a new way.

Since then, we have been working solely as God leads, day by day. It is not an easy process. God does not send a daily schedule of activities, a blueprint for the future or notice of how the bills will be paid. But He is faithful nonetheless.

He has impressed upon us time and again that our mission is to reach His people one by one. Numbers are not the goal. And again and again, He tells us: “Behold, I am doing a new thing.”

We’ve been blessed to minister to those who are not comfortable seeking help from a church, to those who are part of a church that cannot accommodate their needs, or to those who have no religious affiliation or desire for one. We do not proselytize or evangelize, trusting that God opens eyes as He wills.

Support!

So without a salary, how are we living? That’s a great question!

God does provide, and over the course of this year, my book income has risen slowly, which helps. We’ve also been blessed by gifts as people are moved to be part of the ministry in that way.

But as you can imagine, we rely heavily on donations. That’s why this Giving Tuesday is so important to us.  We’re working hard to raise enough funds to continue the ministry through 2018, to help continue to grow the Garden and to help those in need.

How can YOU help?

–Donate through our YouCaring page. This is the organization we use to facilitate donations for The Community Chaplain, and they are offering an incentive: ifjosh-boot-177342 you donate any time between on Tuesday, 11/28 and use the hashtag #YouCaringGives2017 in your donation comments, we’ll be in the running to receive some of their award monies, too.

https://www.youcaring.com/thecommunitychaplain-880048

–Donate through our dedicated PayPal button: paypal.me/TheCommunityChaplain

For more information on The Community Chaplain, you can check out our website, visit our Facebook page (and The Community Garden page!) and sign up for our periodical newsletter.

And prayer support and encouragement is always appreciated!

 

 

Advertisements

The Magnificent Abundance of God

I’m true believer in the idea that in God’s economy, there is no such thing as coincidence. Things happen for a reason, and timing is never accidental. Consequently, I look at a few recent occurrences and understand that God is working on me in one particular area.

Not too long ago, I received a message from someone who has known me for a long time. roman-bozhko-251398She was a friend of my parents, and she is someone who has shown support and encouragement since my parents died. So what she said in this message shook me. She wrote that she was aware of our current financial situation, that my husband has been without a salary for nearly a year and that she’d read mentions of our struggles. However, she said, we didn’t act poor. This woman pointed out what she felt were inconsistencies in my ‘story’ and insinuated that we were ‘crying poor’, while in fact we’re actually doing fine.

At first, I was hurt and more than a little angry. “Good heavens,” I thought. “What do I have to do to prove that we’re just barely hanging on? This is insane!”

And then I remembered something. Back at the beginning of this year, when our grand adventure began, one of the things that God impressed upon me was that we were not to feel impoverished or lacking, no matter what the circumstances were. He wanted us to embrace abundance, understanding that He is the God of unmatched generosity.

Scripture is full of assurances of the extravagant abundance of our God.

John 10:10: I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

2 Corinthians 9:8 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

Luke 6:38 “Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap.”

I challenge you to find any example in the Bible where God commands us to wallow in poverty. There is honesty and transparency, and that is understandable. I won’t pretend that everything is just fine all the time. Putting on a show isn’t what we’re talking about here.
What I’m talking about is living in a state of confident expectation of God’s provision and abundance. When I was little, like many other children, I loved Christmas. For me, Christmas Eve was the pinnacle of the year. I liked that night best, I remember,  because I’d be fairly buzzing with anticipation. I was expectant. The next morning, I’d open gifts from my parents and grandparents, and they would be wonderful, but even better was before, when the possibilities were infinite.
That’s how we should be living now, no matter how our circumstances might appear to the cynical outside world. No matter what things look like–no matter how bleak, hopeless or desperate, we are called upon to live in the confidence that God is working, and even if the result doesn’t look like what we think it might–we can trust that His way is the best way.
The cool part is that when we remember this truth, it’s easier to follow some of God’s other commandments, like the one about being content in all circumstances.
Philippians 4:11 “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.”

Or another about praising in every situation.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 ” . . .give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
I’ve just finished reading a book about money and our attitudes toward it. While I might not agree with every aspect of the theory, so much of it jived with this idea of expectant abundance that it was impossible to ignore. It’s been a topic of discussion in our household lately, too.
Here are a couple of truths we’ve culled from God’s word and our other reading:
1) Being rich (financially) doesn’t mean God has blessed you more or less than others. It also doesn’t mean that you’re smarter or wiser than those who aren’t financially comfortable.
2) Being poor (financially) doesn’t mean you’re more Godly or humble than others. It also doesn’t mean that you’re living more in God’s will than those who aren’t in the same situation.
3) Embittered poverty and grasping greed are different sides of the same coin. Both indicate a sense of lacking and a dearth of contentment.
4) Generosity of spirit and in action result in an increased understanding of abundance. Hands that are open to give can also more easily receive.
5) Being excited and anticipatory about what God is going to do next is not naive or crazy. God may not supply your need exactly as you expect, but He will provide.
So to the lady who accused me of not acting poor enough? Thanks! I must be doing something right. After all, it might not look like it in earthly terms, but I am a daughter of the King who owns the cattle on the thousand hills.
And I can’t wait to see what He does next.

Words of intention…

Just a month or so ago I received a lovely hand-written note from an eighty-six year old woman who reads my books. She’s corresponded with me for years, offering encouragement and often a bit of good-natured pressure that I should finish the next book. Her latest letter was jotted on a plain piece of notebook paper, and she offered an apology for that, remarking “It is so hard to find good stationary these days.” And all I could think was, what a shame because there is something so very precious about a hand-scribbled note.
John 13-34 (1)
When we were dating and in the earlier years of marriage, Danny and I used to leave little notes for each other. From him, a short but affectionate scribble left on the breakfast table, or from me, a little reminder of my love on a folded scrap of paper tucked into his jacket pocket.
When’s the last time you wrote a letter or message to someone? I admit that I don’t do it nearly as much as I used to. And I know that I should. But life is hectic. We get busy and forget the little things. Still, isn’t that part of what makes them so special? Isn’t it a huge deal that someone would take the time to find paper, a pen and physically pledge feelings in written form?

Words that Last

Danny’s has been working on the second half of his manuscript about a brigade of Texans during the civil war. A few weeks ago, he began studying an original set of letters by a gentleman from that group of soldiers, and he asked me to help him transcribe one of them. The two pages were written in pencil, making the script particularly hard to read. As I slowly spoke aloud this man’s message home to his wife, I found myself overcome with emotion. His penmanship was so full of flourish, giving the sentences an impression of warmth, despite the practicality of the instructions he offered her. He described briefly the circumstances he and the men were facing, then he carefully offered her advice for the period of his absence: who to call on for help with certain tasks at the farm, how and when to plant. But there was something tangible in that beautiful script that almost gave the words life. And I nearly wept when, at the end, he included a message to their five-year-old son that he expected the boy would have progressed in his studies enough to read to him from the newspaper when he got home. And I knew that this soldier never did return from that terrible conflict.
John 13-34
Still, his letters survived because the man’s family kept them, safeguarded them, cherished every one. The written word—in this case, the hand-written word—had worth far beyond its face.

The Beginning

Have you ever seen images of the Dead Sea Scrolls? The Isaiah Scroll is the largest and perhaps the most preserved. It contains almost all 66 chapters of the Hebrew version of the Book of Isaiah. That’s 50+ columns on 17 pages of parchment, all of it handwritten with exquisite care. It is hard for me to imagine the painstaking care that it must have taken to create. But isn’t the word of God worth it? Over centuries, man has taken His words and transcribed them over and over so that they might be shared with others. In medieval times, monks and nuns worked as scribes to copy the Bible and other religious texts.

Why

In 2013, researchers Pam Mueller and Daniel Oppenheimer conducted experiments into the effectiveness of students taking longhand notes versus typing on laptops. They concluded that the “the relative slowness of writing by hand demands heavier mental lifting […]in turn tending to increase conceptual understanding, application, and retention.”
In an article by Dustin Wax on Lifehacks, he explains that the brain is divided into sections that respond to different stimuli such as visual information, auditory information, emotions, verbal communication, and so on. Studies, he said, showed that when students write notes versus not writing notes, the students all retained about 40% of the material provided in lecture, but that the students who took notes retained more of the key information. So the process of writing helps to fix the important stuff in our mind.
John 13-34 (4)
But what if there’s more to it than that? What if there’s a psychological connection between the physical act of writing and the impact of the words on the writer?
So what is it about the written word? It seems that regardless of the science behind it, the hand-written word has some sort of effect not only on the writer but on the recipient of the word.

Action

I’ve continued to struggle recently with forgiveness. Danny and I have had a very tough time over the last year as we became embroiled in litigation with our neighbors. And I know I’ve failed to hand over the anxiety and worry to God completely. I tell the Lord I’m giving him my worries, then I snatch them right back out of his hand. And just when I think I’ve come over the hump with letting go of my rancor and anger, there it is again to weigh me down.
So I contemplated the act of the written word. Of God’s word to us in the Bible. Of handwritten notes between loved ones. Of the psychology of writing by hand. And I decided maybe I was being called to something else.
In an article I wrote earlier this year, I described a blog post about forgiveness. The writer said that saying the words out loud was a step. So I thought maybe for me writing the words would be a step. The idea popped into my head over a month ago that maybe the action of writing those words, “I will forgive,” and then, “I do forgive” would have an impact on me…
John 13-34 (2)
… yet I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I hesitated each and every time. I clasped hold of my anger and hurt and refused to truly contemplate relinquishing it. Yet the Lord continues to remind me.
Today I had a conversation with a friend about a book on money and finances. She said part of the premise was to believe things will work out. And she told me the book suggests writing out your needs and believing they will be met and being grateful. And of course, it struck me that this too was another sign.
I must write down my needs and believe they will be met.
So I’ve done it… I’ve written them out. Almost like a list. Or even more like writing lines when I was in school. Over and over, the specific intent to forgive. To let go of anxiety. To be free of the imprisonment of my angst.
John 13-34 (3)
It hasn’t changed me… yet. I still feel angry. I’m hurt and unable to forgive. But I am also grateful for all that I have. Even through the storm, so many beautiful blessings have fallen into my life. The Lord exalts me with His word, with beautiful friends, with signs of encouragement and with the strength to write… and eventually to forgive.
candace (1)

Does God Provide? Part 3

In part 2 of this mini-series of posts, I mentioned that it’s not always easy to rely on God’s provision. I’m pretty sure this resonated with many people. And it continues to be a lesson I’m learning, too. Again and again . . .

Like the Psalmist, who among us hasn’t gotten to the point in our relationship with God, averie-woodard-123975when over troubles related to health, family, job or money, we’ve thrown up our hands and cried aloud, “What do you want from me, God?”

Actually, although that’s likely a sentence wrung from extreme emotions, it’s the perfect place to start, or even the perfect hand-hold to find on the arduous climb up the steep mountain of faith.

What does God want from us?  In Micah 6:8, we read an answer: “And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Great answer, Micah, and it looks terrific on a plaque we hang in our family rooms, but what exactly does that mean?

Jesus gives us a little more insight in Mark 12:30-32: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

It’s still not a step-by-step manual, is it? And to be honest, I could write a book on this topic (thousands have done just that; go to the Christian Living section of any faith-based bookstore). But let’s start here. to love someone, anyone, the first step is to get to know that person. God desires to be known by us. This is basically the theme of the Bible. He yearns for us to be so close to Him, to find intimacy with Him, to seek it with our whole beings. Only then can we even begin the process of loving Him.

What you will find is that part of the nature of God and how he expresses His love is His desire to provide for us. He is drawing us closer by asking that we rely on Him, and as we grow in Him, He will ask us to depend on Him more and more. It means relying on God rather than humans, banks, institutions, jobs, pay checks, book sales, IRAs, 401(k)s, insurance . . . none of those are evil, in and of themselves, but when we put our faith in them above God, they take on an unhealthy role in our lives and in our faith.

This is not something we learn once and live out forever. It’s a daily activity, sometimes hourly, even. For me, personally, I have to be reminded frequently.

The other day, my daughter brought me the money for her phone bill. She’s living at home and works, but I know she doesn’t make a lot. I asked if she was sure she wanted to pay that bill just now; I could carry her a bit, if it would make things easier on her.

“No, I need to do this,” she replied. “I have the money right now, and while I want to just hold onto it, I feel like God is asking me to let it go and trust Him.”

I was convicted by her words, because I’d needed to hear just that. I was reminded of something I’d read years ago: if we are holding onto something tightly, it is impossible for us to receive what God wants to give us. Try it. Make a fist, and try to catch something–anything. It’s virtually impossible.

This means that God wants us to be givers so that we can be receivers. Giving out of lack is a recurring theme in scripture, which means it’s something Jesus is asking us to do. If He asks something from us, it’s for our good. He doesn’t ask us to do things out of petty caprice. Each and every command is for our protection or growth.

I’d challenge you, then, if you are feeling a lacking or anxious about anything regarding what you have, act against conventional wisdom. Give. Give so that God may provide for you. Give so that He may bless you even more than you have given away; God will never be out-given.

I think of the widow, giving her last coin in the temple. I remember a story Catherine Marshall shared about a woman who owned a motel that she had dedicated to the purposes of God. She found herself with unbooked rooms for a long time, and her coffers were emptying fast. While praying, she felt moved to send the last of her funds to a ministry in New York.

Any financial advisor would call this madness. But God’s wisdom is often unappreciated by the world. In faithfulness and trust and obedience, this motel owner sent off the check.

That very night, every room in the motel was full, and so it remained for weeks, giving her more than enough to pay her bills. God will never be outdone by our generosity!

I’m embracing this lesson today. I urge you to try it. Give out of what you have. Open your hands and see how God will fill them. Trust, have faith and obey. Let Him bless you, even as you bless others.

Does God Provide? Part 2

Writing about God’s provision is easy . . . when everything is good, when there is money in the bank, food in the pantry and fridge and a comfortable assurance that all needs will continue to be supplied well into the future.

annie-spratt-96529But what about when your bank account balance is in the single digits, you’re running out of ways to convince your family that Spaghettios really do embrace all food groups in one handy can, and there’s no prospect of improvement any time soon? Can you still claim that God provides?

Sometimes believing in God’s ability and willingness to take care of us is stretched.

Although we’ve been face-to-face with this reality over the course of the past year, it’s not new to us. Clint and I have been married for thirty years, and during the majority of that time, we’ve struggled financially, partly because we chose to live as a one-income family so that I could be home with the kids, partly because of some decisions we made . . . the whys aren’t important here.

Yet we’ve never gone hungry or been without a roof over our heads. In point of fact, we’ve been tremendously blessed, and we’ve had experiences and opportunities that defy belief.

Still . . . there have been, and continue to be, hours and days and weeks of quiet desperation. There are times when we cannot see how things are going to work out: when there’s no paycheck forthcoming–or it’s so small, it’ll be gone before it’s had time to settle into the bank. Or when the bills are mounting, and that one check you were counting on to cover those bills doesn’t show or doesn’t appear on time.

It seems as though it would be efficient and easy if the equation worked the way we’d like. We have a need. We tell God about it. He comes through, preferably delivering a check to our bank account–a surprise refund, an unexpected bonus or something else like that. We’re grateful, and everyone’s happy. Right?

But does it ever happen that way for you? Because it doesn’t usually for me. Instead, much more often, it seems that things get worse. A payment I expected doesn’t show up or some catastrophic expense arises–can you say the car needs a new fuel pump? Or the air conditioning in the house is shot? 

You see, when it comes to providing for us, God tends to see a bigger picture. There are a few constancies I’ve found in my life of trusting Him: in God’s economy, He doesn’t want to just supply our needs; He wants to grow us, to grow our faith. He wants to do more than just get us through our current crisis. So usually, we’ll end up coming out on the other side of the situation with a greater capacity for gratitude and a clearer vision of the path where God is leading.

I often find that it’s helpful to think of a parent’s relationship with her child when we consider how God sees us. When a baby is beginning to learn to walk, we don’t run to make sure the child has everything she needs at her fingertips. We might actually move a toy across the room, to encourage her to toddle over there on her own. It’s not cruelty; it’s love. So it is with God.

Don’t get me wrong; it’s not all sunshine and roses, and it’s often painful. But sometimes, knowing that this isn’t in vain or capricious helps to get us through. What does God want from us, ultimately? Our complete reliance. He knows that therein lies our truest happiness and peace. So He’s teaching us to do just that, training us to turn to Him first, to trust Him, to be content with Him.

Baby steps. That’s how it’s done. Thanks be to God for His patience with us as we learn to walk–with Him.

Does God Provide? (Part One)

aidan-bartos-313782

This is a topic that has been on my mind for . . . well, decades, if not longer. God has brought some interesting insights to me lately, and it seems it’s finally time to write this post, which will be in at least two parts (maybe more).

I need to go back to the beginning, or at least, to my beginning. I was raised in a family with a strong Yankee work ethic, a sense of do-for-yourself-and-keep-a-stiff-upper-lip. You earned something or you did without, and being financial savvy (read: making what the world says are smart decisions) was next to godliness. Heck, it might have even been godliness.

There is a still a large segment of today’s church who hold that same mindset, the idea that part of being a Christian is working hard at all costs to earn a lot of money and then investing wisely, being insured and passing that money onto the next generation. Sure, donations are part of that, and charitable giving is encouraged, but taking care of one’s self and one’s family is priority number one. That standard has been woven into the fabric of American Christianity until it seems impossible to extricate the church from the idea that God wants everyone to be successful–in terms of worldly success.

There are people who would never associate themselves with the term ‘prosperity gospel’, but who are in fact living it out, whether or not they are aware of it. They hold a subtle belief that God blesses us through material success. They hold those who achieve that success on a higher level of respect than they do those who do not.

Now let’s talk about how Jesus did it.

When the Son of God went looking for a group of guys with whom He would share His moments of deepest intimacy, instruction, and vulnerability, He didn’t seek out the movers and shakers of His day. He didn’t stop by the palace and ask Herod to hit the road with Him. He didn’t swing over to the synagogue to invite the Pharisees or scribes to be His wingmen. No, Jesus went to the edge of a lake and recruited simple fisherman. Laborers. Men who worked hard for a living and weren’t ashamed of it.

The disciples whom Jesus chose didn’t have bank accounts or 401(k)s. They didn’t wear rich robes or ride horses. They barely scraped by, and they walked everywhere.

Sure, Jesus did hobnob with some of the rich and famous of His day and area. The point isn’t that He focused on only poor or the ‘less successful’; the point is that He didn’t care about wealth or status–unless it stood in the way of salvation and redemption. See the meeting with the rich young ruler in Mark 10:17-27:

“As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”  And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments, ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” And he said to Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.” Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”  But at these words, he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property.”

Jesus didn’t say that riches necessarily precluded inclusion in the Kingdom of Heaven, but in this case, He saw that money and property were an obstacle to redemption, and since His way is always to help us see what encumbers us and to cast it away, He offered the answer.

Somewhere along the line, we in the American church have forgotten that–or we’ve chosen to look the other way.

Like Jesus, I’m not saying that having money, property or material riches keeps anyone from being a passionate follower of the Way. No, it’s how we feel–our heart attitude–about such things that can cause the trouble.

God wants to provide for us. He wants us to be aware that everything we have comes from Him and His graciousness. I’m reminded of the sentence we used to utter at the offering, from 1 Chronicles 19:14: “For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you.”

When we begin to have a sense that we’ve done something right that has resulted in our blessings, material or otherwise, we’re starting down a dangerous path. When we have a sense that someone else has done something wrong that has resulted in a lacking, we’ve placed ourselves in the seat of God, the judgement seat, where He does not want us.

So that’s my point here in part one. God wants to provide for us. He wants to give us everything, and He wants to us to realize that He has done this, because a posture of gratitude is a healthy one. It’s a place where we are open to God’s leading and to being used by Him as He has planned.

This is a lesson we’ve learned yet again over the past eight months.  Last year, we took a deep breath and committed to go where and how God would lead us. We made this vow with open hearts, knowing that sunshine and roses don’t always follow in the wake of this sort of choice.

God took us at our word. He asked if we would be faithful and trusting and obedient. That meant not seeking paid employment, even when we didn’t have a means of support. It meant humbling ourselves to ask for help, so that others can be part of His ministry and plan, too. It meant giving up the idol of a regular paycheck. It meant believing that when God says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you,” He really means it. When He says, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and its righteousness and all these things will be added to you,” that’s for real.

Obedience and trust are daily decisions. There is no long-range plan, and that makes some people nervous. (We’d be lying if we didn’t say it can at times make us nervous!) After all, we’re not young kids with our lives in front of us. We are both in our fifties, and we have older kids, and we don’t have a trust fund or savings to fall back upon.

But what we do have is even more precious and trustworthy. We have the promises of our God, and His very near presence.

I have many stories I could share (and some I will, in the next parts), but this one is most recent. Just now, we’re doing okay, but not great. We’re waiting on some promised payments. The publisher who held most of my books until recently owes us money, and they are very late in paying. These are the times when trust becomes more difficult, and we begin to wonder again . . . are we really hearing from God? Is this truly what He is asking of us?

Last night, Clint preached at retirement village where he ministered as a hospice chaplain years ago and where he’s preached often in the past. A dear lady we’ve gotten to know there sat next to me, and apparently, at some point, she tucked a note into my purse. When I got home and pulled it out, the note read:

Dear Kandle Family,

You are all such a blessing to so many people. The Lord loves you and sends this gift to you through me.

Now, please know, we’ve never said anything to anyone here in this village about being in need. We have talked a bit about our ministry, but never in detail. But this is not the first time God has spoken to us through others, sending a word of encouragement and confirmation: Yes! You are hearing me. You are faithful, and I will never allow you to out-give me. I am faithful, too. I love you with an everlasting love, and I treasure your obedience. Follow me and trust me.

Follow . . . trust . . . obey . . . believe.

A component of our ministry is to give freely to all who seek help. We also welcome partnership with others in whatever way God leads, including donations if you feel God is leading you to do so. 

You can donate to The Community Chaplain here or via Paypal here.  You can also visit the Facebook page to see what exactly we’ve been doing lately.

Does God Provide? (Part Two) is coming soon. In that section, we’ll discuss HOW God provides for us . . . as in, what do we do when the rubber meets the road?

God’s Recipe for Manna?

I’ve been mulling over a sign I’ve seen on one of our local churches for a few weeks now:

God hasn’t forgotten the recipe for manna.

I wasn’t sure right at first why it kept catching my attention.  We know from the book of Exodus that when the Israelites escaped Egypt they endured hardships and grumbled, even suggesting they had been better in slavery if they would only starve in the desert.  So the Lord told Moses that he would rain down bread from heaven.  For some, the message of the manna tells of obedience and that’s an important lesson of course.  But as I thought of that church banner, my heart was focused on the faithfulness of God.   What is his recipe for manna?

just as much

We lost my sister suddenly about nineteen years ago this coming Thanksgiving.  It was my first year of marriage and my husband and I were out of town with his family.  Meanwhile, my family was gathering at my parents’ house.  A undiagnosed aneurysm took eighteen-year-old Cori that afternoon with all of my family there.  All but me.

Circumstances were such that I couldn’t get back home until the next morning.  I was devastated when I heard the news.  I remember screaming and throwing the phone.  I spent that evening crying in bed, clutching my rosary and wondering how this had happened and begging God to help me.

My mind was hazy and my heart lost as I board the airplane early the next morning.  But the moment I stepped off the plane, His strength bolstered me, cleared my mind.  He nourished me with “just as much” as I needed to take care of my family in those days of laying my sister to rest.

Unequivocally, it was Him, not me that saw us through that.  Because I was a broken soul, so lost in my grief that I would have had no ability at all.  But he was my manna in my hour of need.  But too, He made me the manna for my family.

And I thought of this, of the manna that nourishes our souls daily.  Sometimes without us even knowing it.  Because there is never, ever a day that he fails to rain down for us.  But sometimes we are as the Israelites, grumbling about what we don’t have when we have only to look up to see the truth.

My husband and I have had a rough year.  We’ve been embroiled in lawsuits within our community that pitted people we once considered friends against us.  We moved here to our lake home seeking a community to which we could enjoy his retirement years.  In some ways, it began to seem like our bane instead of our dream.

I’ve been using my new series as a cathartic release for my anxiety, hurt and my anger.  And it’s helping, but the one area I’ve had the most trouble with is my anger.  And because of that, I’ve found it hard to offer forgiveness.  In fact, I’ve rebelled the idea of forgiving.  I’ve held my fury in my hand and shaken my fist towards the heavens in abject rejection of forgiving the hurts… but lately, I’ve felt this little whisper in my ear that I have to let it go.

So God provided the manna.  Earlier this week a post appeared on Faithful.live with a big banner that said: “as we Forgive those who trespass against us.”  And I wept as I read it because I knew that my Lord was speaking to me.  And after that I pronounced in my heart that I forgave those who wronged us (if you read the article you’ll understand that I haven’t yet forgiven them.  But I’ve opened my heart to God’s grace so that I will eventually.)

Copy of Copy of -I have set you an example so that you should do as I have done for you.-

I’ve realized more lately how blessed I am to have my husband by my side.  We’ve often joked over the years that we take turns if one of us isn’t feeling well or has a bad day, the other picks up the slack.  But isn’t that His gift, to give us our helpmate in times of need?  Again, the manna in the form of a partner for our lives.

And now that God is working on my heart, I know that now my husband and I can work together so that we can both reach the point of forgiveness.  And so that someday soon, we too will discover the peace that can only be had by our Lord within our hearts.

So today the lesson of the manna is twofold.  One, that I should always try to be open to receive whatever nourishment he provides.  But also, just as importantly, that I should accept God’s calling that I be His manna.

candace