Saturday, October 25, 2008

Go Ahead, Love yourself

“Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Mark 12: 31

We try to show others our love and caring ways. However, there’s one person that often doesn’t get to feel your love and care, and that person is you. Did you know God wants us to love ourselves? Not a self-centered, self-absorbed love where everything is about you, but an unconditional love with true acceptance of ourselves, the way God loves us. Each of us is a unique masterpiece made by God.

We often hear negative self-talk; that’s the voice in your head that puts you down. We wouldn’t say the things we hear in our own mind to others; it would hurt their feelings terribly. But to ourselves, we might say, “You sure are stupid,” or “Look how fat you are,” or maybe, “You aren’t worth the space you take up.” Unfortunately, we might have heard these things from people that had great influence on us, like parents or teachers, and the negative seed is planted.

God doesn’t ever think negative things about us! He loves us just as we are right now, even when we make mistakes.

Let’s consciously plan to replace negative talk with positive, uplifting words. How about saying, “God loves me,” or “I am a unique masterpiece made by God,” or, “Jesus died for ME.”

When we can truly love ourselves, it will be much easier to spread that love to others.

by Ruthann Schmudde

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Not to Us

This past Sunday in church we had the opportunity to honor an 18-year-old member who just completed Marine boot camp at Fort Pendleton. His family has been at New Life since it started 12 years ago; his mom is on staff. Josh talked about his grueling training and how he learned about the value of teamwork and that your team is only as strong as its weakest link. He told of soldiers struggling to make it through the 54-mile final hike and said that if a fellow soldier went down, those around him picked up his 80-pound pack and added it to his own load while others helped the fallen one get up and keep going. The motto is "we're all in this together" that sappy High School Musical song says. Trite, but true.

But what struck me most in what Josh said was his comment that going to church on base was the thing that connected him most to home. Worshipping with 1,000 young men and women in a military auditorium would be quite a different experience from his home church, yet it gave him comfort. It gave him strength.

All I could think of, though, was what a self-centered attitude I had at his age. A lifelong church kid like Josh, when I left home for the first time to go to college, I purposely refused to find a church in my new home town because "It just wouldn't be the same." And again, a few years later when my husband and I were married and living in the western suburbs, we returned on rare occasions to our "home" church but didn't bother to find a new church up where we lived because we "knew" it wouldn't be like the one we grew up in. Holy cow! I'm just so thankful that God is patient and merciful and forgiving because I see so clearly now how I needed a major attitude adjustment. Going to church was not about God, it was mainly about me.

Yet "In his heart, a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps" (Proverbs 16:9). Fortunately, God led us back to our home church, first as volunteers with the junior high youth, which led me to become the Director of Christian Education for 5 years. And, what I've come to understand over the past twenty years, is that going to church is most definitely not about me. It's about God and about coming together with the family of God (the good, the bad and the ugly) to worship Him and give thanks for our blessings, to ask forgiveness for our wrongs, to seek mercy and justice for the persecuted and strength and healing for the weak. And, it's most definitely NOT about what songs we'll be singing or what the sermon topic is that week or who we'll chat with or what petty little human dramas are playing out under the surface. The coolest thing, though, is that it doesn't matter where you go to church. God is the same God here in Chicago as He is in California as He is in Afghanistan or Ethiopia or India or Germany or Peru. The Christian church is God's home and He is present when God's people choose to glorify Him, no matter which house you enter.

Chris Tomlin captures this wisdom beautifully in his song Not to Us when he says, "The cross before me, the world behind / No turning back, raise the banner high / It's not for us, it's all for you. / Not to us, but to your name be the glory."

Not to us, God, but to your name be the glory. Amen. And thank you, God, for Josh.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Mission Trip to Cedar Rapids, Day 7

Hi all,

It was a great trip for the entire team. We had a great time getting to know one another better, sharing in the work of restoring homes and hope to victims of the flood, and spreading the love of Jesus to those we met along the way. We are tired and happy. Sad to leave yet happy to be back home. Thanks for your prayers and support we needed it and we felt it. We all sensed God’s presence in what we were doing and trust that fruit will come in His time.

Our last day did not go as planned, but it was ok. We worked on house #7 and hoped to move to house #8 after lunch. However, the owner at house #8 did not have the right inspections in place for us go there. So we ran out of work. Hands On Disaster Response did a great job all week keeping work in front of us so we could keep working a full capacity but in the end, they ran out of work for us by noon today. While it was disappointed and we would have happily worked longer, we were glad to head home earlier to get back to our families.

So for the final installment of photos for this trip, I thought I would show some work photos but also some photos that remind us why we went there in the first place. People in the flood area in Cedar Rapids face incredible hurdles to put their lives back together again. We were glad to play a part in that restoration.

Once again thank you for your support and prayers. And to my crew – You were great and it was an honor to serve Jesus with you!


(Submitted by Pastor Roger Visker)
1 – Len working with Kris – another long term volunteer working with HODR
2 – Home in the “Time Check” District – note the high water marks along the porch roof and at the top of the windows
3 – Debris on the curb – city comes by to pick it all up regularly
4 – Sign – Mold Remediation – one of the dangers of flood damage that is costly to clean up

Mission Trip to Cedar Rapids, Day 6

Hi All,

First of all, to all of you who could not open last nights email because the files were too big, I apologize. I forgot to resize them. I will do better tonight. If any of you want last nights email, I can resize them and resend them if you let me know.

Well, we finished the 2nd to the last day of being here in Cedar Rapids . It was a beautiful fall day that was so enjoyable to be part of. We worked hard to finish up the work on house #5. It was a bonus to meet the owner – Garland Grooms. His son and daughter in law lived in the house with their family. It is a home that was built in 1896 and one that he and completely remodeled with his own two hands when he bought it in the 1980’s. The oversized woodwork and hand crafted stair rails were incredible. It was clear that he had great pride in the house that was now a shell of what it had been. He also said that the house had never been flooded in its 100 year plus history. Garland is now retired and unable to do the work for himself so he is very thankful that we could be there to do our part.

Dave and Dean spent most of the day installing basement windows in house #3 that we had worked on earlier this week. It was a difficult job but they got it done and done well. Also, Todd joined the mucking and gutting crew and tore apart 3 flood damaged houses. Todd really enjoyed destroying the damaged areas and getting it ready to be rebuilt. Finally, we all ended up at house #6 doing the wall boarding there. It was a little tense for a while because the inspector came out and thought we were trying to cover up problems and not work according to the code. However, our team leaders Nathan and Jeremy were able to explain what we were doing and we got the green light to continue the work. So we have finished about 50% of the house and will go back and finish it in the morning. Our hope is to be able to work on a 7th house before we pack up and head home tomorrow night.

My plan is to send one more email late tomorrow night to inform you all on our progress on the last day of work. We have been greatly blessed by our time here. And it is our hope that the idea of “getting dusty” with Jesus has new meaning that helps us all grow closer to Him.

(Submitted by Pastor Roger Visker)
Here are the pictures:
1– Group Photo as we started work today
2 – Rog and Garland Grooms owner of home #6
3 – Rob worked with us again today. We really appreciate his abilities and his willingness to work with us as a team
4 – Todd busy with the mucking and gutting

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Mission Trip to Cedar Rapids, Day 5

Hi All

Wednesday is the “official” day off for Hands On Disaster Response, but as you will see, we worked. Actually most of us worked a half day and a couple – Larry and Laurie Groenewold worked a full day. We started on an old farm house today and got it about 75% done by 12:30. We decided to take some time and go to the Art Museum in Cedar Rapids to look at their photo exhibit about the flood. The flood happened around June 10 and the photos were the work of local photographers who worked for the newspaper. The museum itself was flooded during the flood but was now open and operating. There was a lingering smell in the museum, but otherwise it seemed to be all cleaned up again. The photos were spectacular and gave us a good sense of the magnitude of the flood and the damage that resulted. Also, there were photos of the losses that people suffered and some of the initial cleanups that happened that were difficult to comprehend but were there in photos for us to see and begin to understand. We were glad we went. And since it was our day off, we went out to eat and to watch the Cubs play. Sorry about the Cubs, but the food was great and we enjoyed our evening. You will also notice that we have another Laurie on the crew today. One of the other volunteers who has done mostly taping and mudding wanted to learn how to put up wallboard. So we took her along and enjoyed teaching her and getting to know her. I think she thought we are ok, but I know we enjoyed having her along. We are on the down side of this trip and it looks like we will be working through Friday and heading home right after we are done that day. There is so much more to be done, and so many people who are still in shock from this disaster that it almost seems a shame to have to leave. But we are trusting that our work here has helped some and that they are the ones who needed us to help them as we did. We know that God is charge and that he will bless our service as is needed. Continue to pray for us that we are kept safe, healthy, and are able to work well. We look forward to seeing you all soon. Thanks again for your emails and prayers we really appreciate them.


(Submitted by Pastor Roger Visker)

Here are the photos for the day:
1--Our mystery man making a guest appearance at house #2 – Yes this is Dave with is hillbilly hat and hair on.
2 – Dean finishing a cut out on a window
3 – Len teaching Laurie #2 all about the art of wall boarding
4 – Yvonne in action with the screw gun – note that her fingernails are painted to match her work outfit….

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Mission Trip to Cedar Rapids, Day 4

Hi All

Well, we had a very productive day today. We got to go back to house #2 because the inspections were completed and we could go back and do the wall boarding. So we broke up into 3 teams of 3 to do the wall boarding and then one person to do some odd and ends in preparation for wall boarding. It was great, we all worked hard and finished the whole house in one day. So it went from a house that you could see through with all the studs visible to completely covered and looking like there were real rooms in the home. In addition, Dave Decker was sent off to do 3 or 4 carpentry jobs that were more technical than we could do, but that Dave was well equipped to do. We started at 8 and finished at 5:30PM. Everyone went home tired and happy. We also got to talk with Lisa the home owner….rather Yvonne spent time with her. She told us how she just had a panic attack yesterday when she was trying to help a friend muck out their home. It reminded us that the lives of many people were drastically altered and for us to be able to listen to them talk about it for a few minutes is a good thing. God certainly had us there today to give her an opportunity to process this loss and move forward. It was a blessing to be a part of the process today.

From the photos, you will see that we have a satellite church here too….This little church was about 2 blocks away from the work site and it too has been damaged by the flood.

We are missing you all, but we are glad we are here to do this. Keep praying for us and we hope to see you all soon.

Here are the Pictures for the day:
1 – Yvonne and Lisa talking. Lisa is the home owner of house #2
2 – Laurie with her new best friend – the cordless power drill – she worked it all day
3 – Our new satellite church in Cedar Rapids – just another part of the service project….haha
4– Ken – The father of the home owner – a great guy and a great help today

(submitted by Pastor Roger Visker)