Sunday, December 22, 2013

nelson mandela quotes

As I look back on past blog posts, I recognize that this blog serves as much as a chronological record as it does anything else.  As we celebrate the life and mark the death of a great leader a few weeks ago...Nelson Mandela...I cannot miss sharing some of the more famous quotes from his life and leadership.

  “There is a universal respect and even admiration for those who are humble and simple by nature, and who have absolute confidence in all human beings irrespective of their social status.”
― Nelson MandelaConversations With Myself

 “Once a person is determined to help themselves, there is nothing that can stop them.”
― Nelson Mandela

 “Peace is the greatest weapon for development that any person can have.”
― Nelson Mandela

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
― Nelson Mandela

“It always seems impossible until it's done.”
― Nelson Mandela

 “I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one's head pointed toward the sun, one's feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lays defeat and death.”
― Nelson MandelaLong Walk to Freedom: Autobiography of Nelson Mandela

 “A good head and good heart are always a formidable combination. But when you add to that a literate tongue or pen, then you have something very special.”
― Nelson Mandela

 “For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”
― Nelson Mandela

“Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”
― Nelson Mandela

 “The greatest glory in living
lies not in never falling,
but in rising every time we fall.”
― Nelson Mandela

 “Lead from the back — and let others believe they are in front.”
― Nelson Mandela

 “There is no passion to be found playing small - in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”
― Nelson Mandela

 “As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn't leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I'd still be in prison.”
― Nelson Mandela

“As I have said, the first thing is to be honest with yourself. You can never have an impact on society if you have not changed yourself... Great peacemakers are all people of integrity, of honesty, but humility.”
― Nelson Mandela

 “ As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.”
― Nelson Mandela
 “Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice. Like Slavery and Apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great. YOU can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.”
― Nelson Mandela

 “One of the things I learned when I was negotiating was that until I changed myself, I could not change others.”
― Nelson Mandela

 “A leader. . .is like a shepherd. He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind.”
― Nelson MandelaLong Walk to Freedom

 “Appearances matter — and remember to smile.”
― Nelson Mandela

 “Courage is not the absence of fear — it is inspiring others to move beyond it.”
― Nelson Mandela

“After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.”
― Nelson Mandela

 “A winner is a dreamer who never gives up”
― Nelson Mandela

 “One cannot be prepared for something while secretly believing it will not happen.”
― Nelson Mandela

“I had no epiphany, no singular revelation, no moment of truth, but a steady accumulation of a thousand slights, a thousand indignities and a thousand unremembered moments produced in me an anger, a rebelliousness, a desire to fight the system that imprisoned my people. There was no particular day on which I said, Henceforth I will devote myself to the liberation of my people; instead, I simply found myself doing so, and could not do otherwise.”
― Nelson MandelaLong Walk to Freedom

 “We must use time creatively, and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right.”
― Nelson Mandela

 “It is what we make out of what we have, not what we are given, that separates one person from another.”
― Nelson Mandela

 “Your playing small does not serve the world. Who are you not to be great?”
― Nelson Mandela

 “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”
― Nelson Mandela

 “We owe our children – the most vulnerable citizens in any society – a life free from violence and fear.”
― Nelson Mandela

 “Your playing small does not serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you.”
― Nelson Mandela

 “May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears”
― Nelson Mandela

 “Resentment is a method of self harm.”

 “It will forever remain an accusation and a challenge to all men and women of conscience that it took as long as it has, before all of us stood up to say enough is enough.”
― Nelson MandelaNotes to the Future: Words of Wisdom

the ways things are- are not the way things have to be

Deuteronomy 15:11 There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land.

This verse tends to be the Church's default poverty verse...the one that drives our prevalent attitudes and actions to:

1.  Accept poverty as the norm, even possibly think of it as a part of God's created design.  "The way things are are just the way things have to be."
2.  Consider poverty as only "financial deficit," which causes many good-hearted folks to believe that the best answer is to openhandedly give finances as charity to organizations that serve the poor (especially at Christmastime).

This mindset, however, tends to neglect two important things...

1.  Financial giving alone will actually feed and guarantee that there will "always be poor people in the land," for openhanded financial giving is not the primary remedy for the problem.  The way America has defined poverty as "lack of the material"  and the way we've traditionally "served the poor" has actually created greater separation and brokenness all around.
2.  We forget the verses that come just before Deuteronomy 15:11 in verses 7,8:

 Deuteronomy 15:  4 However, there need be no poor people among you, for in the land the Lord your God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will richly bless you, if only you fully obey the Lord your God and are careful to follow all these commands I am giving you today.

The very foundation of God's throne is justice and righteousness (Psalm 89:14).  His design is for no poor people to be among us.  God's will is made manifest when God's people surrender and steward the gift of their lives and resources in such a way that will break down poverty in every person and every sense (spiritual, relational, financial) to form a Christ-centered, reconciling community of the most peculiar kind according to the world's view.  This new community then pursues righteousness and justice together in such a way that will overcome individual and systemic poverty toward a new Kingdom reality of "no poor among us."

Christmas in Walnut....the ultimate goal is that there will no longer be a felt need for Christmas assistance in the community and therefore no longer a need for the Christmas Store.  We should not just accept the Christmas Store as a part of a community's neat annual Christmas tradition.  However, because there is currently a felt need for financial assistance at Christmastime, the Christian community will do well to continue to provide an experience that works to form a reconciling Christian community focused on God's vision of Deuteronomy 15:7,8 and not settled with Deuteronomy 15:11.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Christmas in Walnut...kindly colliding

When I taught in October, I mentioned this about Christmas in Walnut.  Praying this was a part of all of our experience yesterday!

Christmas in Walnut…though it's about better knowing Christ and making Him known, it's also about practicing being present with one another.  A chance to practice bringing people together who normally stay separate from one another.  A chance to practice being open to listen and learn from others.  A chance for us to kindly collide so that we might remember that we belong to one another.  

Christmas in Walnut 2013 in pictures

Christmas in Walnut is about Jesus!  Sharing God's love and His means for us to come into forgiveness and relationship with Him through His Son.  It's about His extravagant generosity and gift to us in Christ.
Christ's love compels us!  Here's a picture of teenagers who have given of themselves to offer gifts for Christmas in Walnut.  300 gifts total from Big House and CHAOS! 

So many gifts!  A week before the event, we had 1,200 gifts.  The day of the event, we had 2,600 gifts.  A crazy last week of God's abundance!  So many generous financial donations and toys brought into the church.  

Friday night's set up crew behind tables that are stocked for shopping the next day! 
Trent flips some pancakes for the community breakfast offered at Harvest as a part of Christmas in Walnut! 

Volunteers came early for a hot pancake/sausage breakfast.  Harvest hosts a community breakfast every other Saturday anyway!  Christmas in Walnut is just a little larger version of their ongoing outreach through the year! 

Craft workshop check-in crew!  Over 175 children made and wrapped gifts for their family members through the morning.

Making a pencil holder was one of the crafts offered.

Friends worked together to make fantastic crafts at tables.

Judy and Aeryz enjoying watching a baby at the event!

Awesome team that braves the cold to welcome friends to Christmas in Walnut!  

Carolers add festivity and joy as they sing carols through the breakfast, workshop, and Christmas Store.  
Our check-in team welcomes shoppers and records tickets.

Hospitality is a high value.  This team keeps the cookies and the coffee and water coming! 
A floor team filled with shopping assistants help make the shopping experience personable and welcoming. 
Tianne is the world's greatest emcee and timekeeper.  She helps shoppers get through the Store with encouraging words and expediency!
Tammy, Walnut Neighborhood Association President, joined our volunteer team this year.
Gift wrappers visit with shoppers while wrapping the gifts for their children
A prayer team offered an opportunity for prayer before shoppers left the Store.    


There was also a post-it prayer wall that allowed shoppers to post a prayer before leaving.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Christmas in Walnut almost here!

In four days, we'll be celebrating the fourth Christmas in Walnut; a three-fold event with a Christmas Store, a Christmas Craft Workshop, and a pancake breakfast.  We look forward to about 1,000 people meeting one another, eating together, working side by side while parents shop for gifts and while children eagerly make and wrap presents for their families.

Goals for the day go well beyond offering parents a bargain toy shopping experience! Christmas in Walnut helps bring people together who might normally stay separate.  It works toward building community and capacity so that ultimately, over time, God might develop such a radical reconciling Christian community... such a fresh imagination and bold faith within this community to do justice...that there would no longer even be need for a Christmas Store in the neighborhood!  Whoa, what a great God-sized vision!

In the meantime, I'm excited to see all God wants to do this weekend as nearly 400 volunteers and 500+ shoppers and families join for a morning of caring and sharing together.  I'm excited for the tangible encounters of Christ's love and joy incarnated and expressed through His people.  My prayer is that all who step into Christmas in Walnut will be able to see, hear, feel the invitation for them into LIFE in the Kingdom of God through Jesus!


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Tuesday prayer walks

My friend, Brian (on left), is one creative guy.  He made a Christmas card from Harvest and is taking pictures across Harvest's ministries of several leaders/participants holding the sign this season.  He then will share the Christmas greetings with others in our community.

This photo shows this morning's prayerwalking crew.  We meet Tuesdays at 9 a.m. and walk and pray together through the Walnut Neighborhood.  Bundle up and join us!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Isaiah 53 tree

Sara's face tells the beginning of the tale of our ugly Christmas tree.  Over the past few years, our family has decided to just walk outside on our acreage and select a tree from our fields of growing white pines that we sell to folks as a little family landscaping tree business. In this the third year of doing that, Sara is finally catching on to her dad's strategy for choosing the family tree.

As Sara walks along the rows, she enthusiastically points out the best looking, fullest trees in the bunch.  My husband, Mike, usually responds with something like, "Keep that one in mind, and let's keep looking for a bit."  As we walk along further, he points out the trees that are crowding a neighbor or have some deformity and says, "How about this one?"  After loud protests and further haggling, we usually end up with some kind of compromise.  Well, until this year, that is.  One of the rejects definitely won out...I think because it has two trunks, and got named "Twin Trunks" with the promise of being "one of the most unique trees in all of the Cedar Valley."

After dragging the tree into the living room, Mike and Nathan made their traditional retreat to the basement to watch TV, while I turned on some Christmas music, opened the box of lights and ornaments, and made up some hot chocolate for Sara and I to get down to the business of decorating.

This year, however, I was met with a teen who could not believe that we would ever actually go through with getting a Charlie Brown tree for the house.  Amidst the refusal to decorate such a pitiful tree, I decided to begin alone and try to find the bright spots.  "Look, we'll be able to see the decorations so much better this year because the tree is so bare." And, "Just think, this tree will help grow our compassion level.  No one else would choose such a tree, and here we are, getting the chance to show it a little love."  Or, "Look at it this's a memory maker!  You'll not forget the Christmas of the "Terrible Twin Trunk Tree."  Beginning to pick up ornaments and decorate, Sara said, "Ya, it'll be like our golden 10th birthday when you took Nathan and me to a laundromat for the afternoon."  (whole other story!)

As we began to decorate together with lightened attitudes, Nathan came up the stairs, took one look at the tree, and threatened to take the mood south again by saying, "That is the most god-awful, ugly tree there is." I had a quick inspired thought, grabbed my Bible off the window sill, opened to Isaiah 53, and told the kids that maybe this tree was closer to the reality of Christmas than we think, then shared the words written of Jesus in Isaiah 53:2-3...."...He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.  He was despised and rejected by men..."  

In a rare and captured teachable moment, something changed at the reading of those words.  There was a holy pause and a brief in-breaking of the upside down Kingdom of God.  The kids came over to the Bible to read it for themselves.  Suddenly, all of the outward beauty and adornment of Christmas decor got trumped by a much more profound beauty and truth.  Everything seemed to turn around in a brief Spirit-filled moment, and the next thing I know, Nathan and Sara determined that we should put a sign below the tree that reads "Isaiah 53 Tree", and they began snapping photos of the newly respected tree with their ipods.

As I look at this less-than-desirable-looking tree lighting up our living room this season, it may prove to be the most meaningful Christmas tree we've ever had...pointing us to a Savior who reminds us to look beyond the outer appearance and deep into the heart.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Dine at the Vine

Harvest's children worked hard as a multi-age team of students to prepare a spaghetti dinner and talent show for guests a few weeks back.  Their aim was to raise money for Winter Blast Camp, but much more than that was accomplished through this "Dine at the Vine" event!

I watched how the children greeted, sold tickets, opened with prayer, and waited on their assigned tables. Not only were they building community with each other, but they were helping the whole church create community and a sense of intergenerational family.  I loved seeing how the young people experienced being servant leaders, and how this event helped them see how they are important contributors into the life of the church.  And that was only the dinner!

The talent show was terrific! The students cheered each other on and encouraged the timid ones to get up on stage and give it all they got!  Solos, dances, a debut at the piano...all were awesome.  "Dine at the Vine" helped students try out talents and passions and to buy in to doing life together in a family of faith!!

Friday, November 29, 2013

prompting the questions

Our friend, Dan, who is helping lead the way in the 33:5 house renovation, called me two days ago to share a few stories.  Apparently, his plumbers are perplexed by our investment of time and money into a house that sits in "not such a nice neighborhood".  They're asking Dan about his beliefs; they're trying to wrap their brains around the "why", and now they're working on language to explain it all back to Dan.

Dan and I were delighting in the conversations and questions that are being prompted among his work team. I told him that it reminds me of this quote:

If the people do not ask questions to which the gospel is the answer, we can no longer just say, “Their hearts were hardened,” and walk away feeling good that we have witnessed to the gospel.  Instead, we need to get down on our knees and ask God why our life and our work are so unremarkable that they never result in a question relating to what we believe and whom we worship.”

Bryant Myers, Walking with the Poor

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving 2013!

Because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus, and will bring us with you into his presence. Yes, everything is for your sake, so that grace, as it extends to more and more people, may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.
- 2 Corinthians 4:14-15

"Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving."
-W.T. Purkiser

my first turkey bowl

 My son, Nathan, and I joined family friends in their annual Turkey Bowl touch football game on Thanksgiving morning.  Ninety minutes of fun football with the young and the slightly older.  This was a first to play in snow on Thanksgiving, but it was oh-so-fun!  Everyone was included, there was lots of laughs, some good play for the competitive folks, all complete with a group prayer and photo at the end. What a great picture of friendship, thanksgiving, and community!

Thursday, October 31, 2013


Here's three!  On Sunday, several people stopped by a letter writing station at church to write an encouraging letter to their sponsored child in Mozambique.  These letters to and from sponsored children serve to build relationships, spiritually encourage one another, and offer prayer across the thousands of miles.  Though it only takes ten minutes to write a letter, the affects of receiving a letter are far more lasting.  Thanks to everyone who served by writing their sponsored child and his/her family this weekend!  

Generosity Abounds

Here's two!  We set a goal at the beginning of the month to help fill the bus to Haiti by buying 100 chairs, 30 tables, and 25 computers for the university.  We also hoped to make 100 pillowcase dresses for girls in Haiti and increase our child sponsorship in Mozambique.  Here, on the last day of October, is the count!

*All of the tables, computers, chairs are paid for!!!!!! Any other funds that come in will continue to go toward our Haiti partnership.
*202 pillowcase dresses and more coming! (what an awesome picture above of the dresses in the sanctuary)
*35 child sponsorships- and you can still sponsor this week at the Welcome Center or anytime online- go to our OHC website and it will connect you with a sponsorship option in our Mozambique area through Food for the Hungry.

Thanks to OHC friends and partners for their generous giving to these Kingdom Service Opportunities!

Kingdom Service Days 29,30,31: Finishing Strong

Uh-oh, I've been slacking the past few days!  At the beginning of this month long series, I said that I would blog each day through the month of October.  I'm the one that always tells my children to finish strong that which they commit to...and here I am the slacker at the end of a great month of focused on Kingdom Service.  So, today I shall finish with 3 great stories to account for the last three days of this month!

Here's one!  Saturday:  A fun day in the Walnut Neighborhood.  First a group of college students came to help make 33:5 come alive....

Stripping the living room floor so that it can be sanded and refinished.  Can't wait to see the beautiful hard wood floor in refinished form!  

Students divided up and prayed through the 33:5!  So thankful for all of the prayers that are being lifted up in this place!

Thanks to these UNI students!  

Brian is a tremendous Kingdom servant!  He was the point person for the Harvest Party and 10th Birthday Party at Harvest Vineyard on Saturday afternoon.  

Yee-haw, pardners!  We also look forward to the next stage God has for you, Harvest Vineyard!  

Rajan has on his mean, competitive look as he prepares to defend his pie-eating champion status.  He actually did win his 2nd consecutive title.