Category Archives: April 2023 Chips

This One’s for the Girls

This One’s for the Girls

Ladies, what does it take to find a good friend? I mean the kind of friend that you can call to watch your kids in the middle of the night? I mean the kind of friend that puts up with your bad habits and still wants to hang out all day. I mean the kind of friend that can hear your beat down tone of voice over the phone and who shows up with your exact coffee order.

You don’t have a friend like that you say? You don’t know where do you start?

This kind of deep friendship is built one conversation at a time.

When was the last time you attended a women’s event? When was the last time you invited someone to coffee? When was the last time you allowed yourself to be vulnerable in conversation?

I know these things are risky. I know you’ve been hurt before. I’m sorry that happened to you. The hurt makes us shut down and close off and say no more.

What’s worse is that I can offer you no guarantees. No money back. No safety net of perfect connections.

The only thing I can offer is a promise that it’s worth it and a suggestion that we are called to cultivate friendship.

It’s worth it to lean back into that conversation. It’s worth it to attend that event. You are doing the work of cultivation every time you engage another person.

Every time you say yes to attending that event (when you would have preferred to not risk it), you are saying yes to potential new friendship.

I’m not promising you’ll walk away with a new bestie by night’s end. No. But, you may have started a conversation with someone that will eventually become the person you call in the middle of the night.

Lindsey Ungs
Connection & Communication Architect

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    Sometimes It’s Boring

    Sometimes It’s Boring

    What are your favorite parts of the Bible?

    I definitely favor narrative.  Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, the Gospels, Acts, Ruth.

    What is your least favorite part of the Bible? Can I ask that question?

    Every time I read through the Bible, there are definitely sections that look forward to less.  Like… cringe-worthy.  I feel bad admitting that about God’s Word, but it’s true.

    The major prophets… Ezekiel, Isaiah, Jeremiah… they go on and on and on and I find them boring and confusing.  Paul’s letters? Not a quick read and super heady. The Psalms? I like them in small bunches, but I can’t sit and read chapter after chapter of poetry. I can only stand small doses.

    I don’t think I would have ever admitted that I have favorite parts and not-so-favorite parts until after I started my current POWER READ THE BIBLE program.  The narrator of this program actually suggests to turn up the speed on the audio Bible and get through the boring parts faster.


    I was like, “What… other people do this too? Other people can’t stand getting stuck in the weeds of the major prophets and endless genealogies???

    That being said, can we all just agree out loud together that some parts of Scripture are more enjoyable than others?

    Tara-Leigh Cobble addressed this same issue a few years ago when I was doing the Bible Recap.  While all of God’s Word is as equally valuable and completely inspired, some parts need an accompanying prayer of, “Holy Spirit, show me why this is important to you.” “Holy Spirit, show me something about yourself from this passage.” “Holy Spirit, what do you want me to know from this passage?” “Holy Spirit, teach me something here.”

    So sometimes when I’m stuck in the weeds, I make it a conversation with God and just ask Him why He likes this part!

    It has changed the enjoy-ability favor more than I could imagine.  It redirects my heart and mind away from what might seem unpleasant and redirects it back to God.

    Leah Carolan
    Director of Worship & Media


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      Prayer Snapshots

      Prayer Snapshots

      The stage of life in which I find myself is one in which morning prayer is best done lying in my bed. It seems like my children have some sixth sense about Daddy or Mommy getting up. It may not help that we have wood floors that creak, but when I head downstairs to read my Bible and pray I often have a guest. So one of my favorite prayer strategies recently has been to pray in bed before I rise. Pray for my family. Pray for my day. Pray for my ministry and those people who have shared prayer requests. It seems like I have the birds for company as they sing their morning songs outside in our backyard.

      I also find great joy in the simple bedtime prayers I share with my kids. One rhythm we have is to pray before bed. For the longest time I “cheated” with Abby and just used the Lord’s prayer. I love that she can now recite it mostly on her own. The other way I like to pray is to give them prompts; “Dear God, thank you for…”, and let Abby and Chris finish the prayer. This isn’t always the deepest, but it is precious to hear my kids thank God for family, friends, toys, and joys. Then, I might offer the prompt, “God, please help…”. It is amazing the things my kids produce on their own. Sometimes it will be a request they overheard Cathy and me discussing, or this week Abby has been praying for safe travels for my family that will be visiting before Easter. Sometimes I underappreciate and underestimate the value of these beautiful simple prayers and the memories and habits that are being shared. Someday I would like to be like my friend Dan who kept a prayer journal with his kids. That way the kids could see how God was answering their prayers!  #parentinggoals

      Personally, the prayer times that fuel my tank the most are walking prayers. There is something about combining the peaceful presence of God with the restoration found in His creation. Walking with the Lord, as Adam did in the cool of the day. Sometimes I even picture God beside me talking to Him as I would a dear friend. For Christmas my father-in-law gave me a nice pair of binoculars. I am now finding I want to take them everywhere with me. I pull them out at church so I can admire the birds, now that spring has sprung. God’s creation is so wonderful and there is such a benefit to being outdoors and praying. I hope you can find some excuse, like new binoculars, to go outside this week and pray while you are at it.

      I offer you these snapshots, not to suggest I have it all together, “look at how Steve prays.” No.  I simply want to tell real stories. Paint authentic pictures of what prayer looks like in my life. I hope these encourage you to look for times, even while you lay in bed, to pray.  Pray as you commute in your car. Pray as you workout. Offer yourself grace when you forget. I certainly fall short of “pray without ceasing”, but I am working towards being more prayerful. I am trying to make prayer my first instinct. Please join me in praying more this month!

      Steve Poole
      Director of Youth & Young Adults

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        Prayer Opens Our Eyes

        Prayer Opens Our Eyes

        The following is from the book Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard. It made me think about how God wants to open our eyes to see God’s good work all around us. Enjoy!

        “When I was six or seven years old, growing up in Pittsburgh, I used to take a precious penny of my own and hide it for someone else to find. It was a curious compulsion; sadly, I’ve never been seized by it since. For some reason I always “hid” the penny along the same stretch of sidewalk up the street. I would cradle it at the roots of a sycamore, say, or in a hole left by a chipped-off piece of sidewalk. Then I would take a piece of chalk, and, starting at either end of the block, draw huge arrows leading up to the penny from both directions. After I learned to write I labeled the arrows: SURPRISE AHEAD or MONEY THIS WAY. I was greatly excited, during all this arrow drawing, at the thought of the first lucky passer-by who would receive in this way, regardless of merit, a free gift from the universe. But I never lurked about. I would go straight home and not give the matter another thought until, some months later, when I’d be gripped again by the impulse to hide another penny. 

        It is still the first week in January, and I’ve got great plans. I’ve been thinking about seeing. There are lots of things to see, unwrapped gifts and free surprises. The world is fairly studded and strewn with pennies cast broadside from some generous hand. But – and this is the point – who gets excited by a mere penny? If you follow one arrow, if you crouch motionless on a bank to watch a tremendous ripple thrill on the water and find yourself rewarded by the sight of a muskrat kit paddling from its den, will you count that sight a chip of copper only, and go your rueful way? 

        It is dire poverty indeed when a man is so hungry and tired that he won’t stoop to pick up a penny. But if you cultivate a healthy poverty and simplicity, so that finding a penny will literally make your day, then, since the world is in fact planted in pennies, you have with your poverty bought a lifetime of days. It is that simple.”

        Praying cultivates another kind of healthy poverty and simplicity. When we pray we begin to see the world as God sees it. It is that simple.

        The Lord be with you,

        Kent Landhuis
        Pastor of Teaching & Leadership

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