Connecting with yourself, God, and people in a community


So, in preparation for our move, we went through the pantry and cleaned that up today.  We did have a few extra boxes of food that we figured we would not use up before the move nor do we want to haul a ton of food down to Nevada.  After talking to management, we discovered that there are people in our own building that always need food!  Wow!  What a wakeup call!  So we put the food out and walked away.

Later, as I went to bless someone with a clock, a couple of my neighbors were going through the food as if their life depended on it.  They were excited about the blessing and wanted me to take some of it.  I had to politely decline the offer but walked away with a gladness in my heart – that people were overjoyed at the blessing – and saddened that people are so desperate for food and other supplies like the school supplies we left out for the parents with kids.

It’s about helping people within the community…

After all, we are told to love our neighbors – friend or foe – as much as ourselves and to do this, we need to love the Lord thy God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Matthew 22:36-40).

My latest class The Spiritual Journey:  The Integrated Approach of Henri Nouwen has been about reaching out to other people (outward) while focusing on strengthening the core of who we are (inward) and being able to connect with God through prayer and reading scripture (Upward).

One of the focuses of this journey is reaching out to people within a community, which is anyone that we touch on a daily basis rather it be the neighbor who needs food or the daughter who needs a hug from her parents.  We are all connected and we can build “a home and create space for God and for the Children of God…within this discipline are the disciplines of forgiveness and celebration” within the community (Nouwen 1995; Moving from solitude to community to ministry).

Finally, the food and other supplies that we put out are almost gone.  Though it was a simple gesture of providing for the needs of our neighbors by giving what we don’t need, there was a sense of community with these neighbors as they took what they needed and sounded as if they were celebrating a blessed gift.

And, that is what community is all about…

So, what can you do to strengthen the community around you? 

Though we may not always have what they need, we can still create an atmosphere of community service with each other by reaching out to your neighbor by seeing if they need something even if it is just a smile or words of encouragement (Nouwen 1995; Moving from solitude to community to ministry).

After all, we are connected with each other and we do live in a world that needs a bit more encouragement…

Necessary Maintenance


So, for our upcoming journey, I took my car in to have its 20K mile checkup and an oil change.  All turned out well except one part that needed to be replaced since it was very dirty.  Our van was given the okay for the journey and so we continue to prepare for this journey.

So if you are about to face your own journey or just facing everyday life, you need to maintain yourself just like a car needs to be maintained and parts replaced as they get old or dirty after so many miles so you can keep going.

Maintenance for people can include eating right, going to our doctors, exercising, making sure we get enough rest, and restoring our souls.  When we maintain ourselves and keep in great shape (I’m not in the best of shape), we can keep going to serve God’s purpose.

Furthermore, maintaining our souls include entering a place of solitude (seeking the voice of God), praying (listening and talking to God), and reading His word (to know His voice and to strengthen us).   These maintenance steps can lead to a healthier soul and an overall outlook on life while loving people just like the maintenance on our vehicle keeps going and providing us with transportation.

After all, the two greatest commandments in Matthew 22: 37-39 (NIV) reads “Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

Yeah, something may come up no matter how much you maintain yourself or your vehicle.  Like just before our trip to Nevada, I had to replace the wheel and tire after hitting a piece of debris on the freeway.  Or, more recently, a chip in the windshield or the part that had to be replaced to today. But we just keep going and remember that One you listen to and talk to, is there with you.  Or you may have a neighbor who helps out since they love you and God as much as they love themselves in a healthy way.

Finally, when we maintain ourselves through prayer, solitude, and reading of the word, we can handle the bumps and debris in our lives.

As we conclude, please think about the areas of your life that need to be maintained…how can you maintain them or fix these areas?