Get Ready…Get Set…

by Sarah Steinberg

Stores have been preparing for months. Children start scoping out toy catalogs and lists are being made. In my house the day after Thanksgiving is the day that the boxes come out of the basement and the decorations start going up. Christmas is coming!

Last Sunday was actually the start of the advent season. Advent is the few weeks before Christmas that we start preparing for the birth of Jesus. There is a lot of preparing that happens at Christmas. We prepare decorations and gift lists, for parties and festivities we only do once a year. These are all things that mark the season. They are a big deal and we spend time getting ready. But recently I keep thinking, am I really prepared? Not just for the decorating and parties but am I really ready to say yes to this amazing thing- when the Christ comes a little closer to this place again this year.

What do you do to start getting ready for the birth of Jesus? Do you think about mangers and sheep and what it would have been like to be born in a stable? Kinda gross probably- not my first choice. Do you think about what a dangerous time it must have been? All those people with such great expectations? Some who want Jesus to save them- be their king and yet they stare into the face of a child and are confused and doubt. I think I would too.

I often think about the already but not yet-ness of Christ. We know he’s come and is coming and will come again. That he’s here with us now and will come again, both in our celebration and remembrance of the gift of the Christ child born in a manager but we also prepare for the coming of Christ in the future as we continue to prepare his kingdom here on Earth.

It’s all a little confusing and yet- I sometimes wonder if I just go through the motions of Christmas. If faced with the same challenges as Mary and Joseph- would I let go, and say yes?

There’s Something about Mary

So… here we have a girl, likely 13-15 years of age. She’s a peasant and she’s engaged to a pretty religious guy. An angelic figure visits her saying that she’s found favor with God and is going to conceive a son by the Holy Spirit.

I’m not sure about you but I think I’d be a little freaked out. We don’t think a lot about Mary until it’s time to dust off the little figurine for the nativity. This week I started thinking about Mary and what she had to say ‘Yes’ to and what she had to let go of.

I think Mary deserves our attention for at least a moment because in her we see what casting our lot with and being blessed by God really looks like. Namely that being blessed means seeing God in the world and trusting that God is at work even in things we can’t see, or understand, or imagine.

Mary saying “God, I’m yours. Let’s do this thing.” She said yes.

She didn’t say yes because she thought by doing so God was going to shower her with cash and prizes. No. Here’s where this girl had some serious chops. She got something I really struggle to understand: that getting a blessing is not the same as getting a present. She said yes not based on the expectation of things being awesome for her but based on the expectation that God can create something out of nothing.

“Ok, I don’t understand what’s going on and I know that my life isn’t going to end up looking like one I would choose out of a catalogue but I trust that God is at work in all of it.”

Blessedness is being used for God’s purpose more than it’s getting what I want or things being easy.

That yes she gave was fierce!

Christmas itself isn’t about getting what you want, or making sure you’re giving others what they want. To experience Christmas is to trust that God can do this thing again. God can again be born in me, in you, in this broken mess of a gorgeous world.


A Meditation Moment

Shane and Shane- Yearn


Try Out A New Mantra

This week I will say YES! I am being used by God.


Sending Forth

May the God through whom nothing is impossible help you to be like Mary….saying a fierce, or timid, or quiet, or confident yes.

Let Go- When It All Fades

Have you tried to to let go of something in life, move past a tough time but simply couldn’t? Maybe its failing a try out, getting into an argument with a friend, failing an exam, a break up perhaps. No matter what techniques you implement to move on with your life, those memories or signs of the tough times in life keep showing back up. What I’ve found out in life is that so often in life, when we let go, we only want to do so partially. We try to let go of it when it hurts, but when we feel lonely or doubt creeps up in our mind, we reach back for a time that once was. Imagine the events in your life that you try to move past are like a yo-yo. You toss it down, as hard as you can, thinking it’s gone out of your life for good. But as is the nature of the yo-yo, before you realize it, it returns and is apart of us again. Letting go fully can be scary because even if the mistakes and past times in life are detrimental to us, it can hurt to lose something that has been a part of your life for so long.

One of our spec camps Josh Soulliere reflects on his experience of letting go

New School, New Me?

When I first think of the idea “Let Go”, I think of my freshmen year of high school. Just like as in middle everything changed, I went from a small private middle school with a graduating class of twenty four to a public high school   With less than half of those twenty four friends. All I could think about was how good my old school was and how I missed it. These thoughts put limits on me. I became less interactive both inside and out of class. I became more sheltered and seclusive and limited talking to others. It wasn’t until half way through that harsh year of school that my friends Hunter and Nina encouraged me to try to enjoy the moment. I began to let go of the past and my longing for it and began to live my life. By deciding to let go, not to forget or to ignore, of my past I began to take steps towards a happier life. I soon afterword began to make strong friendships with all these strangers in school, which I still have today. I don’t know if I would be the same person today if I hadn’t let go and moved on. I don’t even know if I would have the same relationships I have today if I hadn’t made such a decision. One thing is for certain, I am glad I was able to let go to move forward.

Have Hope!

This scripture from this week comes from the book of Jeremiah. Chapter 29:11 “ I will bless you with a future filled with hope—a future of success, not of suffering.”

Let It Fade

The focus video for this week comes in the form of a music video by Jeremy Camp. May the words inspire your spirit and help give you the courage to let go of what you’ve been holding for so long.

Comfort in God

I am a strong believer that Love is the reason we exist. I believe that God created us to understand and experience the paramount feeling, and to express it in such a way that He does; So we can become more like Him. You don’t have to agree with that in the slightest, but with that being my philosophy to guide me through my days, you can imagine that I took, and still take, human relationships very seriously. I poured my heart and soul into every conversation I possibly could despite who it was I was conversing with solely because I wanted to grow with anyone and everyone who’s path crossed mine due to the idea that God created me to love the way He does. With this in mind, I am sure it isn’t surprising that I took my romantic relationships seriously as well and expected them to last forever every time. Not only because I was 16 and naive, at the time my story I am about to tell took place, but because I was in it for the long run. I would willingly look past tragic flaws and convince myself that these qualities in them didn’t exist. I think it is safe to say that I am a helpless romantic; I believe that when I am dating a boy, God placed them in my life because they are the one. To some that sounds crazy, believe me I think it’s crazy myself, but that’s just how I am. At times it helps such as in forgiveness, but it is perhaps also my greatest downfall. Here is my story: I  met a boy my freshman year of high school. This boy taught me to truly love and I spent the following three years with him. We grew close to Christ, and to each other. He made me feel genuinely beautiful, made me laugh on my most somber of days, and always believed in me. I of course was convinced he was the one. I gave him every ounce of my heart; He became the center of all my thoughts and of course, I loved him unconditionally. We planned our whole entire lives together and held on through every trial that came our way because we both agreed that we were the love of each other’s lives and that one day we would get married and start our own family. We dreamed on a grand scale and were determined to make them into a reality.  But then one night, he changed his mind. He left me. After three years of loving, sacrificing, patiently waiting, and of course ceaselessly praying, he left me. He found another girl and decided she was worth more than the plans we made. However, he didn’t leave quietly, he left me with an ounce of hope, saying he would be right back, and of course my stubborn heart and mind held on and clung to it with all of my life. I spent the following six weeks mostly in bed because it didn’t feel real. I didn’t want to know what life was like without him. The world seemed gray and I often questioned God’s reason behind it all. I was lost and my eyes were permanently swollen from the tears that stained my pillow that my eyes then lacked. For six months I was devastated. The plans we made were gone. The songs we used to sing made me cry. The hours we would spend talking were now spent in silence. His vanishing act, to me, was the crime of the century, and for some unexplainable reason he remained unaffected and I was left as the victim, asking God why he had to leave.

One night, I crawled into bed and immediately fell apart. I grasped the railing of my bed and cried my self into an anxiety attack. I couldn’t breathe, and having experienced this before, I cried harder when what would’ve stopped it before wasn’t working this time around. After minutes of being unable to breathe properly, my vision started to go; Life became crystallized and soon after everything began to fade. This caused for apprehension and I prayed because I didn’t understand what was happening to me. I prayed to escape this locality and to fill my lungs with air again. I slowly regained full vision as my mind went from focusing on the current situation to centralizing around my talking to God. As my outlet to him proceeded, my breathing slowed down and my heartbeat began to take a more languid pace. As always God took a hold of me. I prayed to him and told him I didn’t want to see any more nights that were similar to these. I told him my fears and I told him what I carried in my mind and what consumed my heart as if he didn’t already know. That night I told God I was ready to let go. I prayed to him to guide me through the rest of my days and to lock my gaze on him. I prayed for hope and to remind me that love exists and that it isn’t bad to date with marriage in mind, because it isn’t. (That is the end goal, right?) That night God took my worries off of my chest and I could breathe again. I let go of the plans I had with this boy and accepted the brighter future God had laid out for me. I trusted in him, and I Let Go. God gave me a love that the world could not offer and He took my broken heart and mended it. He promised me a brighter future.

This story might be hard to relate to for some who read it, but I imagine everybody has suffered loss and has grown bitter over it at some point in your life. If you haven’t, I am slightly envious because it is a pain unlike any other and I pray, for you, that when the time comes, it is easy for you to accept. I pray that if you are bitter over the loss of something, and the pain from its vacancy resounds throughout your days, that you ask God for the strength to Let Go. In Romans 8:18, Jesus tells us “The pain that you have been feeling cannot compare to the Joy that is coming.” It doesn’t seem believable, I know, but it is. Happy Holidays everybody, and may God bless you always and abundantly.

-Sydney Leal

Sending Forth

As you through out this week into the holiday and time spent with family and friends alike, find solace in the peace that Christ brings, in the comfort and blessings of community. The serenity prayer is one used in many organizations and support groups in which people are trying to let go and change. May it be a blessing to you as well.

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,The courage to change the things I can,And the wisdom to know the difference.”

Blessings, and Happy Thanksgiving!


Road Trip and ANTs

Spec 2015 challenged and encouraged us to Let Go and allow the divine to fill in the newly emptied space.

Since Spec, I have been challenging myself to improve my self-talk. Basically, self-talk is the voice inside your head.

At Spec 2015, Kevin Pearce ( briefly talked about ANTs—Automatic Negative Thoughts—while sharing a story about dropping his cell phone in the toilet. Today’s devotion provides some additional insight into ANTs and I’ll share my story about how ANTs impact our mind, body, and actions.

Road Trip

My 89 year-old grandfather spends the winter months in Tucson, Arizona. Every fall we drive from Kansas City, Missouri (Go Royals!!!) to Tucson. It’s roughly 19 hours of drive time that spans 2 days. Grandpa loves to drive the 2-lane highways that cut across the United States. We drive across Kansas, the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles, New Mexico and through southern Arizona. We see small towns, abandoned barns, towering grain silos, mile-long trains (this year’s longest train was 1.5 miles), beautiful sunrises and sunsets over the desert, and miles and miles of fields. I’ve done this trip 12, maybe 15 times, with Grandpa.

For one reason or another I get frustrated during this trip. Usually it’s because my routine gets out of whack. I’m not eating my normal foods, sleeping my normal times, it’s difficult to find time to exercise, and on and on.

19 hours is a long time in a car with someone.

19 hours in a car also provides an opportunity for ANTs.

At one of the gas stations we visited on this year’s drive to Tucson I had a good cell signal and called my wife. During the call she mentioned that I seemed “happier”.

This confirmed what I had been feeling that day. Taking on the ANTs was working. As I mentioned above, this summer at SPEC I made a decision to improve my self-talk and being aware and intentional about the thoughts I allow in my head.

Prior to driving my Grandpa this fall I decided to do the following on my trip:

  • Let go of my agenda about driving my grandpa to Arizona.
  • Let go of control of the route, which roads, when we stopped, etc.
  • Take charge of my eating on the trip.
  • Exercise on the trip.
  • To stop and see some of the sights (we stopped in Hatch, New Mexico, the chile capital of the world and bought a string of chiles)
  • Meditate when I noticed myself feeling annoyed.

I recognized the connection between what I was thinking and how I was feeling. My body reacted to my thoughts. When I had an angry or unkind thought on my trip I began to feel my heart beat faster, my hands would get sweaty, and my breathing became faster. When I had a happy or kind thought my muscles would relax, my breathing would slow down, and my hands became dry again. I was also intentional about keeping myself in a positive frame of mind.


Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTs) are sad and depressing thoughts that creep into our mindset. Simply stated, ANTs cause us to feel sadness, despair, and cause us to isolate ourselves. A basic ANT equation looks like this:

Sad, angry, unkind thoughts = feeling bad.

Happy, hopeful, kind thoughts = feeling good.

Our thoughts can make our mind and body feel bad or good. Most thoughts are automatic and happen without us thinking about them. (Think about that. We don’t think about our thoughts.) Also, our thoughts are not always true.

It’s important for us to be able to decide which thoughts are helpful and which thoughts are hurtful. Learning how to adapt our thinking can be a useful tool.

Moment of Reflection

What is one ANT in your life? Name one. Write it down. Examine the thought. Respond to it. (Is the thought true?) Replace the negative thought with a positive thought.

If you heard a friend say an ANT about themselves, what would your response be?

Spiritual Practice – Meditation

The technique I use is quite simple. I like it because it can be used in a variety of places (including a car). It goes like this.

  • Deep breath in and say/think, fill me (Positive word, like love).
  • Deep breath out and say/think, let go (negative word, like anger).

When you breathe in think of a good, positive word such as, hope, joy, love, peace, compassion, grace, calm, etc.

When you breathe out let go of the bad and negative word such as, despair, hate, sorrow, anger, judgment, frustration, fear, etc.

Our thoughts have real and tangible impact on the way we feel and the way we behave. The connection between our mental and physical well-being impacts us constantly. Take some time this week and pay attention to your ANTs, then replace them with positive ones.



Some information in this devotion is paraphrased from the following article:

For more information on ANTs feel free to check out that link.



I don’t believe it has been done formally so I would like to welcome everyone to our new blog home. It has taken a few weeks to get everything figured out, get things moved over and to get you all invited and subscribed. Apologies for the weeks without the devotion, but the long wait is over.

More exciting news is that we have many new contributors, from other spec today facilitators to campers such as yourselves (if you feel led to share, please let us know). We realize that not every devotion will speak to you, but as is the nature of many activities from camps, reunions and spec, simply being open to the experience can have profound impact on your life. Now that the administrative details are over, I want to welcome you again. In life for one reason or another, obstacles, becoming overwhelmed or simply losing track of things, we have to restart. Now this doesn’t mean that we lose all of the progress we have made, the goals we have reached simply go away, just as in the case of our devotional, the plan God has for our lives can get away from us. Even as we try our best to keep up, we can get lost and so we must restart. This week’s introduction come us from camper Josh Soulliere (North Atlantic Delegation).

This week’s theme is restart. To me there is a particular story that reminds me of restarting.  The story goes that a man is hiking through the woods, when all of a sudden he falls into a hole. He stays stuck there when all of a sudden a man approaches. The fallen man yells for help but the man above the hole does not here him and keeps walking. A few minutes later another one man approaches. The man in the hole yells for help once again. The new man above hears him and says he has no rope, ladder, or tools to help. The man above apologizes then leaves. Finally ten minutes later a new man arrives and notices the other man in the hole asking for help. The man above leaps off of the trail in the hole with other man. He tells the other man who had fallen early that he too had once fallen in this hole. He then points out that there is a tunnel out of the whole that was unseen before. Both men then proceed to make the journey out of the hole together.

In life we all at one point fall off the trail and into a hole. It can happen so quickly that we don’t even know what happened; all we know is that we are trapped in a space we don’t enjoy. For me this time was in the beginning middle school.  If being shy, awkward, and confused like most teens my age wasn’t enough, I was going to a new middle school surrounded by completely new people. That idea terrified me in all honesty. When change happens we can lose our path and end up falling in such holes. In sixth grade I felt stuck living in the past rather than being present and living in the moment.  As in the story I felt that my new and old friends either didn’t see me stuck or didn’t know how to help and didn’t address the issue. I felt that I was stuck there forever. In my mind I felt hopeless and that there was just no time to restart. This further sent me into a hard depression that year. However, my story changed when I talked to my best friends about how I really felt. My friend helped me find an advisor. Like the man who jumped in the hole to help the fallen man, my advisor and my best friend helped me by showing me an unforeseen path in my hole, which we all walked together. Today I might still have been stuck in such a hole if I hadn’t reached out and gotten the help I needed.

Moment of Reflection

Take a few moments to think about all the things you’ve accomplished so far this year, academically, personally or any realm that it is important to you. What happened according to plan? What things occurred completely unplanned or out of your control? What goals did you fall short of? In our moments of highest achievement or when we fall short, it is helpful ask God to help keeps us grounded. We have to ask God, to hit the restart.


This week’s scripture comes to us from Isaiah 43:18-19

Forget the Past

The Lord said:

18 Forget what happened long ago!
Don’t think about the past.
19 I am creating something new.
There it is! Do you see it?
I have put roads in deserts,
streams[a] in thirsty lands.

Isaiah 43:18-19, is composed of three simple, yet profound, statements said by the Lord. He says to us, “Remember not the former things, nor consider things of the old.” This is His way of telling us to forget what our pasts contain. We can’t go back and alter our past; so simply forget about it. The things we have done, the things that keep us from finalizing our relationship with Christ and that make us feel unworthy of such a radical love, are only things we  even still consider. Our God has long forgotten our sins. He has taken our mistakes and has casted them out into a sea of forgetfulness, never to reel them back in, and never to use them against us. To Him our past isn’t what matters. To Him it’s what we do with the now.

   He goes on to tell us, “behold, I am doing a new thing.” “Now it springs fourth, do you not perceive it?” God wants us to do good. He is giving us a new moment, a new chance, just so we may do better than we did the time before. Our God is such a forgiving God. His second chances are plentiful and His forgiveness and grace know no bounds. He goes on to question “do you not perceive it?”, and to me that’s almost a phrase with disappointment behind it. He is so excited and ready to show us redemption and a new beginning, but we are still blinded by our past that we seem to fail to see the opportunity to become new that He has placed right in front of us. He’s saying “I’m trying to show you that I forgive you, and that I love you, and that I haven’t given up on you. Can you not see it? Let me, please, let me give you a new beginning.”

   “I will make a way in the wilderness.” He says, “and run rivers in the desert.” Even in the midst of our chaotic lives, when we make a mess of ourselves, God will search for us. He will find us and He will show us the way out. When our faith runs dry and our days, now barren, begin filling with doubt, God will replenish us. He will drown us in His love and in His grace.

   Our God is a jealous God. He is jealous for your attention, and for your heart, and for your soul. All he wants is you. How you are, how you were, and how you will be. (Sydney Leal,  Texas New-Mexico Delegation)

Drawing to A Close

As we draw to a close for this week, think back to your spec experience. When you had obstacles or failures, let downs during the week. Maybe it was not winning at a particular sport, or not getting to attend an elective you really wanted to. Whatever the hardship may be that you faced at spec, or in life, remember that God helps us to let go. To not carry around the burdens of the past, but instead empowers us with his love to start a new.

SPEC Weekly… a new blog series!

We’re really excited to announce a new blog series, SPEC Weekly!

One of our SPEC Today facilitators, Damon St. Thomas, started a blog after SPEC this year to keep his and John Wight’s class connected throughout the year. Several other campers and staff wanted to be included in the weekly devotions. Thanks to Damon’s willingness to make this available to the wider SPEC community, we’ve added some of our other SPEC Today facilitators as guest writers and would love to have camper perspectives too!

Follow the blog and get email updates when a new weekly devotion is posted.

We’re really excited about this new way to keep the SPEC family connected across the miles all year long.

Where Are You Now?

Where are you now?

It’s been just over a month since we left the Graceland campus, saying goodbye to new and old friends to come home and…what? Where are you with your Spec experience? Did camp change you in ways you’ve brought home? Or have you let those feelings and experiences fizzle out as you’re unsure how to incorporate them into your life with people who weren’t there?

So often when people have great experiences, it’s hard to explain and live out when returning home. Many times it’s just easier to slip back into our old ways and tuck those new experiences away in a nice neat file in the back of our hearts and minds. If this sounds like you, I want you to take a moment and reflect on what Spec was for you and what hopes or goals you had for yourself upon returning home. Feel free to jot down your thoughts or just hold them in your mind as you ponder. If you’ve been able to live out how you let go of some negative things, I encourage you to challenge yourself to find new ways of being open to God’s nudges.

Whether or not you’ve been able to let go of image and be present; let go of judgement and be love; or let go of limits and be brave, I invite you to start small. Think of one small thing you can let go of. Pray on it. Ask God to support you, help you and give you insight. Open yourself to the whispers, promptings and nudges from God. Lean on the meditations we learned in class. Lean on those around you for sometimes change is hard. Letting go is hard. It is up to you to make that decision to let go of something that is no longer working for you. Check in here and tell us where you are now.

Letting Go of a Negative Relationship (with myself)


In the last year, a friend I’d had a rocky relationship with decided to let go of our friendship…to let go of me. At first I was extremely shocked and hurt — it also didn’t help that I realized all of this the day before my birthday. Awesome. This was NOT my rainbows and lollipop version of what I thought “letting go” meant. I did quite a bit of soul-searching as to what part I played in the demise of our friendship. After a while, I realized the freedom of letting go of something that wasn’t healthy. I looked at the situation not as losing a friend (although I did miss this person), but as gaining insight into how I can be a better person and friend. Then I worked on being that better person. I often reflected on that old friend and tried to view them through this new lens of mine. The friend needed to let go of something unhealthy in their life so that they could be a better version of themselves as well. It wasn’t that I was unworthy or that I wasn’t worth the effort (which have been habitual beliefs for me in the past), it just wasn’t working for who each of us was at that time. The friend actually gave both of us a gift – the gift of space to evaluate, heal, and grow.

As the year continued and I continued to let God fill me with peace and love towards myself and this friend, I no longer had negative thoughts or feelings about the situation. It’s important to note that I made the decision to trust God and to accept that gift of space to evaluate, heal and grow. And wouldn’t you know it, God has recently reconnected us and we’re letting go of that old junk so we can fill our new relationship with positive love and light.

In Closing

Sometimes it isn’t easy to trust the journey of letting go and letting God fill you with new and positive things. Listen to the song “You’ve got the Love” by Florence + The Machine and consider your journey to let go of ____________.

Know that if you’re having a difficult time starting or being in the midst of that part of your journey, God’s love WILL see you through. Practice trusting. Practice letting go of fear. “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.”


Dive In

The Opening Act

For many of you the summer is just about or now over. You’ve had your share of adventures, camps, reunions, spec and sleeping in until the afternoon. As you prepare for the beginning of another new school year, you turn the page on summer and prepare for chapter in life. Now just as we prepare for projects, homework, exams, new jobs, and new friendships, each stage in our life God prepares us for new works. Each day we are tasked to create community and share God’s love. The question that often arises in my mind is how that can be done. How to reach out to others, to hear their story, and share yours. It’s time to dive in.


This week’s scripture comes from the book of Matthew 4: 18-22

“18 While Jesus was walking along the shore of Lake Galilee, he saw two brothers. One was Simon, also known as Peter, and the other was Andrew. They were fishermen, and they were casting their net into the lake. 19 Jesus said to them, “Come with me! I will teach you how to bring in people instead of fish.” 20 Right then the two brothers dropped their nets and went with him. 21 Jesus walked on until he saw James and John, the sons of Zebedee. They were in a boat with their father, mending their nets. Jesus asked them to come with him too. 22 Right away they left the boat and their father and went with Jesus.”

I’ve always found the best way to get started on something is to just do it. However, getting started can be confusing and scary. This can leave us discouraged. When we talk to others about our faith, it can make them uneasy and it’s easy to fear losing those. What is the hardest thing about sharing your faith? Do you feel that your friends (or people in general) are open to your beliefs? How do you combat these obstacles?

Jesus came to his disciples and asked them to drop everything. Fishing was their livelihood, how they fed their families. They exchanges their nets for a gospel of inspiration, mercy and love. What would you give up for your mission of Christ?

Blessings of Community

Just as a reminder from last week, Community of Christ’s enduring principle of

  • The gospel of Jesus Christ is expressed best in community life where people become vulnerable to God’s grace and each other.
  • True community includes compassion for and solidarity with the poor, marginalized, and oppressed.
  • True community upholds the worth of persons while providing a healthy alternative to self-centeredness, isolation, and conformity.
  • Sacred community provides nurture and growth opportunities for all people, especially those who cannot fully care for themselves.
  • We value our connections and share a strong sense of trust in and belonging with one another—even if we never have met.
  • Some disciples are called and ordained to particular priesthood responsibilities and ministries for the sake of the community, the congregation, and the world.
  • We are called to create communities of Christ’s peace in our families and congregations and across villages, tribes, nations, and throughout creation.

Thinking Deeper

What does blessings of community mean to you? Should all communities look the same? Matthew 18:20 tells us that when two are more are gathered in Christ, he is there. While going alone or just with a couple of friends to create community can seem impossible, know that the spirit is always there to lead you.

Take a few minutes to watch the video below. As you watch, ponder what communities you wish to create and what obstacles may stand in your way.

Mission Prayer

Though some of you have heard this prayer before, I find that it is a helpful reminder of how to prepare ourselves to go out each day in the world.

“God, where will your Spirit lead today? Help me to be fully awake and ready to respond. Grant me courage to risk something new and become a blessing of your love and peace. Amen”

As you enjoy your last week(s) of summer or start your new school years, may you embrace the challenge of creating community with everyone you meet and extend God’s gracious love and acceptance.

Divine Purpose

let go photo
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others – Marianne Williamson

As we continue to walk through the paths of finding and defining who we are as individuals and finding our roles in our respective community, it is also important to explore within our identities, God’s plan for us; our divine purpose. Purpose is defined as the reason for which something is done or created, why it exist. I’m sure that each of us has asked that age old question to ourselves, “Why am I here?”

We search for answers in all kinds of places, sometimes the wrong ones. Just hoping that something will give our life meaning.


While there a plethora of scriptures in the Bible that help us learn about our purpose, and God’s plan for us, the one that I felt spoke to me for this weeks devotion comes to us from the book of Matthew

Matthew 5:13-16

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

The journey that you live, the life it creates becomes a beacon for others. Whether you realize it or not your light helps other to push on, to find their purpose as we invest in the stories of others and in God’s plan for us. Even when things get hard, we keep pushing back the dark.

Meditation Moment

This week’s meditation will be the footprints in the sand poem. Even when we are doing our very best to follow God’s plan, we can get distracted and lost. There may even be times, were we may not feel God’s presence. As you read through this poem, reflect on those times in your life, and how you overcame them, and if you are still living through that experience, how this poem may impact you.

One night I dreamed a dream.

As I was walking along the beach with my Lord.

Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life.

For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand,

One belonging to me and one to my Lord.

After the last scene of my life flashed before me,

I looked back at the footprints in the sand.

I noticed that at many times along the path of my life,

Especially at the very lowest and saddest times,

there was only one set of footprints.

This really troubled me, so I asked the Lord about it.

“Lord, you said once I decided to follow you,

You’d walk with me all the way.

But I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times of my life,

there was only one set of footprints.

I don’t understand why, when I needed you the most, You would leave me.”

He whispered, “My precious child, I love you and will never leave you

Never, ever, during your trials and testings.

When you saw only one set of footprints,

It was then that I carried you.”

– by Mary Stevenson

Reaching Our Goals

For this portion of our devotions, simply put, what are your goals? What dreams to you aspire to live out? What do you want to accomplish in this life? These questions were asked to the campers in my delegation this year at spec and it blew my mind. These questions are so simple yet profound.

How can we help others reach their goals?

God’s Masterpiece

Living God’s plan for our live, finding his purpose for us sometimes conflicts with the plans we have made for our own lives. Have you ever experienced this in your life? Ephesians 2:10 tells us that we are God’s handiwork, created in Jesus Christ to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

We continue to embrace the theme of letting go in that, we let go of our plans for life, our methodologies, and embrace the plans, the lives that God has created for us, long before we were ever around.  God works in our lives, and the changes he makes, we may not always understand. It can be scary.  God chisels the imperfections that we put on ourselves from this world. He takes away the guilt of shame, the fear of failure, the expectation of being less than, and fills us with purpose, within divinity so great that merely embracing it can change lives.

I invite you now to view the video below and see how God works in our lives. You are God’s original masterpiece.

A Matter of Time

Have you ever found that you’ve been pressured to reach your goals quickly? Do you ever feel that you’ve failed because you haven’t done so? Driving by 16, graduate high school by 18, college degree by 22, married shortly after. We are rushed through life to reach our goals and anything short of that can be perceived as failure. What I’ve learned is that God’s time is not our time. So as our devotion comes to a close this week, watch a video that was recently shared with me, that will change your perspective on time.

Sending Forth

“As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” Continue to be God’s hands and feet, as we walk the path laid out for us. God’s purpose for our lives allows us to be the light that pushes back the dark. Be open and vulnerable to the spirt and the places it may lead you.