While traveling last week on the Senior High Mission Trip there were several things I wanted to write about, but never had the opportunity to do so. What follows are a few mini-blogs on these topics.
1.) While In New Orleans, news broke that a No True Bill had been issued by a Grand Jury in the case of Dr. Anna Pou. Details of this fascinating case are explained on Wikipedia and in the Times
2.) A study released last week in the New England Journal of Medicine has found that weight gain (and loss) can be tied to social networks. Check out the write-up in Science News – It’s pretty interesting stuff.
3.) Before I left on the trip I had promised a blog on Michael Moore’s Sicko. I was impressed by this film and particularly struck by two main observations of countries with socialized medicine. 1) People who have plenty are responsible for helping provide for others who don’t – persons interviewed said this clearly time and time again. 2) The emphasis on sabbath, rest, and self-care is great in many of these countries. Hmm, caring for oneself and being interconnected in community by helping be responsible for the care of others. It seems to me an unpopular rabbi once got himself killed for proclaiming such things…
All three of these stories above deal with the difficulties of living in community and caring for ourselves and one another. Clearly these are not easy tasks, and difficult decisions sometimes have to be made, but I am increasingly convinced that we desperately need to figure out how to live and work together with all of God’s Children.
I’m preparing to leave for Ridge UMC’s Senior High Mission Trip to Slidell, LA in the morning and time is getting away from me.
A couple of quick things I want to share before I go:
– My sister was in town visiting this week and it was great to see her – as always we had some great laughs!
– Heather and I finally bought our new car on Tuesday evening – she has posted a picture of it here.
– We went and saw Michael Moore’s new film Sicko this week. It’s not quite as entertaining as some of his others, but is equally thought provoking. I’ll blog more fully on the film when I get to a computer after the trip.
– Finally, pray for the 16 youth and 6 adults that we have going on our mission trip this week. It’s going to be a great experience and one that I hope shapes and impacts them all profoundly. Please also pray for all of the people we will be working with and for during our time in Louisiana.
I won’t be able to access a computer much in the coming week so I’ll re-engage with the blogging world soon.
While out doing some shopping last night Heather and I saw a car with a great bumper sticker that really struck me. It read, “Change is Inevitable, Growth is Optional.” Part of why I think it struck me so much was related to the shopping that we were doing.
After more than six months of being intentional about diet, exercise, and lifestyle habits in general, Heather and I have both seen our bodies shrink and change and we were out shopping for some new clothes. Both of us bought shirts, and shorts, and pants in sizes that we haven’t worn since our early high school years. It was pretty surreal and exceptionally exciting.
Life changes. As we get older our schedules get busier and busier and our level of responsibility continues to increase. As life speeds up we can get caught up and wrapped up in it and let the changes happening around us control us. This is the trap that I fell into for several years – the trap in which I think many of us live.
As life changes we have the responsibility to change and to adapt with it if we hope to continue growing. Specifically I’ve learned that I don’t need to consume as much food as I did when I was a growing adolescent football player, I’ve learned that it is important to exercise regularly to keep my body feeling like it should, I’ve learned that time away from the office to do things I enjoy recreationally is a hugely important part of connecting to God and being a whole person.
Change is Inevitable, Growth is Optional. I am so thankful for the opportunities I have seized to grow in these last six months and look forward to continuing to grow into the future.
Calm down, it’s not what you think…
Wednesday evening Heather and I sold our ’95 Honda Accord. We had known it would be coming for awhile, but in a weird way, I don’t think that either of us was prepared for it emotionally. I pontificated about car memories in an email to my family and Heather shared thoughts at Singer Clinger. I guess we attach our emotions to objects in strange ways sometime.
But, as Heather and I continue to adjust to being without the first car of our married life we’re also excitedly preparing to welcome a new car into the Clinger family. After much research, excruciating over-analyzing of every detail, and some good old fashioned haggling via the internet, Heather and I went to Nissan of South Holland this morning, took a final test drive, and put a deposit down on our new ride – the 2007 Nissan Versa. The good folks in South Holland are having to travel some distance to get us the color we wanted and are still selling us the car well below invoice. I don’t know how this kind of thing works, but I’m not asking questions.
Anyway, sometime on Monday or Tuesday we should be able to bring our new ride home – she’ll look something like this…
“Our faith in God has been strengthened.”
These are not words you would expect to hear from the mouth of a father who’s 19 year old son is battling cancer. Many people encounter cancer and other illnesses and feel as if God is punishing them. Often times people struggle with God and with faith when facing health issues. Something is different in this story though.
Back in early June I wrote a couple of Blog’s related to Tim’s diagnosis with Cancer; one about the strength from community and another about networks of support.
Tuesday’s newspaper ran a great article about Tim and about the support of the community for him and his family. In the article his dad Wes was quoted as saying, “Everybody has reached out and done some amazing and wonderful things. Our faith in God has been strengthened.”
Difficult times can try a persons faith and put a strain on their relationship with God. When communities of faith can surround people with the love of God faith can be strengthened. It is up to us as neighbors and co-journeyers through life, as imperfect as we might be, to share the love of God whenever we have the opportunity to do so.
The following Yahoo news headline caught my eye yesterday: “Pope: Other Christians not true churches.” Among other things the document reiterates Cardinal Ratzinger and Pope Benedict’s belief that Protestant and other Christian Denominations do not have “means of salvation.”
Reading the article my initial reaction was anger and to be honest, I don’t think I’ve gotten completely over that yet. It’s become compounded with some sorrow, and maybe even some pity, but the anger is definately still there.
My understanding of God’s grace is so radically different than that which is being put forth from the Vatican in this recent statement. I believe that God’s grace is available to all persons regardless of any of the dividing lines that we as humans like to draw. Now, if only I could figure out what to do to get Yahoo news to run a big headline proclaiming that.
Jeff Clinger: God Loves All of Humanity Unconditionally.
That is newsworthy if you ask me!
A friend of mine told me about this new technology a couple of weeks ago and I just saw this video this morning.
I’m not sure that I’ll ever run in circles that utilize this type of tech on an ongoing basis, but it’s pretty impressive nonetheless.
Over the course of the last month or so I have become less concerned about weight loss and more interested in my general wellness. As I have continued to eat right, to drink lots of water, and to excercise, the weight has continued to slowly creep off though. I trust that my body is still working towards some kind of balance.
This morning when I stepped on the scale it read 205.8. On January 2nd it read 256.6. This means that, to date, I have lost almost exactly 20% of my body weight in the last six months. Which is pretty staggering when I think about it.
The best part though, without a doubt, continues to be how great I’m feeling. At the end of a long day, I want to lift, I want to walk, I want to ride my bike, or I want to jog. Collapsing on the couch and vegging out just isn’t as appealing as it once was, which is weird, but cool.
Each July 3rd the Town of Munster shoots off fireworks at the High School football field that is barely a block south of Ridge UMC. Our front lawn provides some of the best seats in town for viewing the fireworks and we’ve managed to capitalize on this the last several years.
Each July 3rd we set up a big booth and sell popcorn, candy, burgers, brats, drinks, etc. All of the proceeds go to support our Vacation Bible School that is offered free to more than 100 kids in our community each summer. This year it seemed that the stars aligned perfectly and we made about twice as much as we usually do.
In addition to the event serving as a fundraiser it is also an incredible opportunity for us to offer hospitality to our neighbors. We easily had more than 1,500 people on our lawn and in our parking lot throughout the course of the evening and it was so much fun to watch our members serve as hosts for our guests. While it wasn’t advertised, the church was open and restrooms were available. Members of the church were strolling through the lawn visiting with our guests. Information was passed out about Vacation Bible School and invitations were extended for Vacation Bible School as well as worship. It was a wonderful evening.
What kinds of unique opportunities do others have to reach out to the community? What is being done with those opportunities?
Last week I started thinking seriously about getting a Nintendo Wii. I’ve played one a couple of times at a lock-in, but didn’t really know much about them until last week.
Last Wednesday I set out to do a little research and went to a local video game store – a place in which I’d never set foot. I entered and said something to the effect of, “I’d like to talk to someone a little bit about the Nintendo Wii. Do you have any in stock?” To which I was greeted with laughter. Now, if you know anything about the Wii you understand that the laughter was because no one has any in stock and they’re hard to get unless you’re willing to pay big bucks on Ebay or stand in line for a long time. I didn’t know these things though, so all I knew was that I was being laughed at – jerks.
I explained that I had never owned a video game system, that I didn’t have much experience with video games, but that I was interested in maybe learning more about and even potentially owning a Wii. The salesman launched into a detailed a technical explanation of the Wii, of how it compares to other systems, of its good traits as well as its bad ones. He was using language so complex and so foreign to me that all I could do was smile and nod. He was clearly speaking with passion about the Wii, but he didn’t really help me understand it any better because he wasn’t willing to use language that met me where I was.
I wonder how often people feel like this when they enter a church. They’re in new territory, they don’t know much about what’s going on but are genuinely interested in learning more, and then they are spoken to in a way that makes them feel insecure about the things they don’t know, but feel like they should.
I may or may not give someone else a chance to help me know more about the Wii in the coming weeks or months, but I do know one thing for sure. I know that I’m going to be much more intentional about trying to find ways to use language that connects with people where they are when they visit Ridge Church.