Live Right Now

Y’all, I just got done watching Life Church for this week. Usually I just download their podcast but this month they do At The Movies, where they watch snips of movies and then make messages out of them.

So for the month of July I try to catch a live service. It’s pretty simple, since there’s one every 90 minutes. (But somehow I always seem to log in at the 30 minute mark.

This week it’s the story of a man who lost his legs in the Boston Marathon Bombing. It’s a great message about getting back up when you get knocked down. I was definitely in tears through much of the second half.

Just like the man in the story, it was the people around me who have helped me through my own struggle. Initially it was the people who were showing me love that helped me but eventually it was the people I could reach out to and help.

No matter what you’ve been through or are going through, I think you’ll find the message encouraging and so I wanted to share it here.

Love y’all.

Jenn

Live.Life.Church

(Next service is at 10pm.)

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Ownership

This has been a season of change for me but also for my church family. Since January 1st, I’ve started at a new gym, joined a new community group, moved to a new home, purchased a new car, hired a new personal trainer, and even gotten a new desk at work.

Meanwhile, our church has achieved a major goal of moving to a new facility. We’re no longer in our “parent’s” (wells Branch MUD’s) Rec Center and have our own “Apartment” in the facility that used to be the Roost!

It was so amazing to worship together for the first time last Sunday in a space we don’t have to set up and tear down each week.

I’m going to be honest, though, I really took a moment to appreciate the wall. Now it’s not really a big deal, just the wall that leads into the bathrooms, so it’s a little silly I cared to go take a peak.

But that’s the wall I painted when we had the serve day last Saturday. And, at the price of paint on my favorite tennis shoes (no one told me we’d be painting), I guess I kinda feel like it’s “my” wall.

Isn’t there something powerful about ownership? I remember my first computer. I was still in high school but wanted my own computer so I could take it in my room. My parents didn’t pay a cent; all $1200 for the computer, bag, and other accessories came out of my account.

I remember when it came in the mail. I’d purchased a Gateway (yes, I’m 30 now…) and, when the box covered in cow print arrived, I was like a delighted child on Christmas. I relished every moment of pulling out all the “goodies” in the box, even getting excited about the boot CD, of which I had no idea the purpose, because it was mine.

A similar experience came when I bought my first car. My parents agreed to match my investment dollar for dollar so I purchased a used, red Saturn for about $4k. Again, it was my car so I took great care of it and drove it with pride.

Now that our church has a home, I feel that same sense of ownership. I’m not just a member of the church, I’m a part-owner of the mission.

There are three ways I’ve taken ownership.

Six months ago our pastors asked for us to give financially to help make this facility a reality. I prayed and I gave. It made me an owner.

More recently, there have been opportunities to go get our hands dirty actually preparing the space for occupancy. I wasn’t there every time but I went when I could. It made me an owner.

On May 20th, we have our grand opening. I’m telling everyone I know about it and can’t wait to help pack the house. It’s making me an owner.

Every organization consists of two groups. 80% are members; they show up. But 20% are owners. They get involved, make things happen, and take responsibility.

I know I’ll see you on the 20th but are you a member or an owner? Will you show up or will you be bringing people with you?

Hope

Getting away and processing is imperative to keeping a healthy mindset, especially in the wake of personal loss. More than just time off work, time away from the thoughts and opinions of others; time to think my own thoughts and experience my own emotions.

Friday morning, as I headed out of town for a weekend of camping, I felt God tell me to shut off my phone. As soon as I reached Camp (because GPS), I set my phone on airplane mode and left it that way till I came home today.

There were several times I wanted to turn it back on but I stuck to my commitment and eventually settled in to life without constant contact. It’s amazing how refreshing that can be.

Today as I was catching up on all the texts, emails, and phone calls I missed, I discovered why God had wanted me to take that break. A firestorm of emails about the defendant in my father’s accident arrived in my inbox at once. Apparently much discussion took place on Friday and God knew it would have been a distraction from what He had for me this weekend.

Evidently Jack, the driver who’s truck made an untimely collision with my father, was arrested and released for violation of his pre-trial agreements. Specifically, it appears he failed a drug test for the use of marijuana.

Everyone processes grief differently but I’ve never felt any anger or animosity toward Jack, only sadness for the life he’s lived and the future he lost in a moment. It’s certainly not because I’m perfect, but because I’m forgiven, that I can have this attitude.

On this email chain are all the victims families and it’s clear that some don’t have the same compassion. Some choose words that seem to indicate they feel Jack got into his truck that morning on a hunt to see who he could kill.

(One email on a previous message said that letting Jack drive is “like giving a mass murderer access to his weapon of choice.”)

How such anger is present eludes me; we all have heard the same difficult information about Jack’s childhood and the pain in his life. It seems obvious to me that Jack was operating from a place of hurt that I could never imagine.

As I read through the emails this morning, my heart aches for these other victims. I wish they could find the freedom I’ve discovered in forgiveness. Holding on to bitterness is like drinking poison hoping it kills the other person.

Then I opened up the court documents that were provided to us. As I read over the information my eyes fell on “Age: 21” and started crying.

Jack’s age is not new information to me; I’ve know since the beginning that he was 20 at the time of the accident. Today my heart broke at the realization that he’ll soon be behind bars, probably for the rest of his life.

Sometimes I wish I could be angry at Jack, just for a little while, and let this random act of tragedy be his fault. But I can’t; by God’s grace, the only emotions I can feel are remorse for the loss of his future and hope that God can redeem his remaining years. I hurt for the pain such a young man has already endured and wish he’d had someone like my dad in his life.

But if Jack is not to blame, who is?

Can I blame his boss for sending him home? No, he was just protecting his other employees from Jack possibly causing an accident on the job site.

Can I blame the police departments for “failing to prevent the accident” once warned? No, they responded to the best of their ability.

Can I blame the man who hurt Jack, resulting in the medications Jack took on the day of the crash? No, he was likely wounded himself by someone else.

At the end of all reasoning, it comes back to the pain of living in a world marred by sin. Hurt people hurt people who hurt people and no one makes it through life unscathed.

The only confidence for the future any of us have access to is in receiving the forgiveness purchased on the cross and then live as best we can reaching others with that hope.