The Lutheran Ladies Changing Their Environment

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Little Free Library, Womens Group and Rob (maker)In 2016 a couple of ladies from St. Paul’s Free Lutheran Church in Leitersburg decided to start a blog:  The Lutheran Ladies Connection.  About a year into their blogging adventure, they became book reviewers for B&H Publishing. In return for posting unbiased reviews on their blog, the B&H website, and Amazon.com. they received free Christian books.  As the pile of books grew larger, one of the ladies asked, “What should we do with all of them?”  Starting a Little Free Library seemed to be the obvious answer.

Little Free Library is a nonprofit organization that builds community and encourages reading, by creating neighborhood book exchanges around the world.  Through Little Free Libraries, millions of books are exchanged each year, increasing access to books for readers of all ages and backgrounds. At a Little Free Library you may take a book, trade a book or bring a book.  They are sponsored by organizations or individuals.  To learn more visit their website www.littlefreelibrary.org.

The grand opening of the Little Free Library of Leitersburg was celebrated by St. Paul’s on July 28th with an ice cream social and free drawing to win a variety of books donated by the Lutheran Ladies. Members of the church and community attended to see the library unveiled.

Pictured are library builder, Rob Waltz, along with the Lutheran Ladies (from left to right):  Beth Ann Deardorff, Joan Culler and Michele Edgel.

 

 

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St. Francis Set to Music

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If you like the St. Francis Prayer about transforming your environment by starting with yourself, I’m sure you’ll enjoy this musical version even more.  It’s been going around in my mind every since my last post.  Remember, he who sings, prays twice!

Peace Is Flowing Like a River

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On a Via de Cristo weekend, the speaker chooses a hymn or Christian song which everyone sings right before their talk.  This was the song I chose for my Environment talk, and I think it expresses the idea that when God’s peace, love and joy is inside of us, it will overflow and affect everyone we’re around.  Enjoy listening!

Living Fit – Book Review

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Don’t let the title fool you, this isn’t a diet book but a book that explains how to be fit in all aspects of your life – Spiritually, In Relationships, Financially, Health and Emotionally.

Each chapter highlights one aspect then breaks it down into 4 sections that pertain to each one.

Before reading this book, I never thought about how it is required to be a completely fit person to be an effective witness for our Lord.  We need to be healthy to be able to combat all the obstacles we are going to run into in our lives.

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.  It is well-written, easy to read addition to your library.

Christians Know

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There is a long list of things I’m not. I’m not patient, kind, loving, wonderful, special, talented . . . well you get the idea. You might say, ‘Oh, your being too hard on yourself.’ or, ‘That isn’t true, I’ve met you are a indeed kind and patient.’ Yes, that may be true-sometimes. Still, I know that I am not those things one hundred percent of the time. I will occasionally slip and say something less than kind. Maybe justifying it as a joke. Even if I manage not to say it out loud, my thoughts betray me. Even if I bite my tongue when someone puts me down or they act obnoxiously, my outward appearance might not match my spirit. If I curse my enemy inwardly is it not the same as an outward lashing?

Matthew 5:28

“But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

Therefore, it is as it is with laws. Either I follow the letter of the law or the spirit of the law. And most of the time I fail miserably at following both. If you aren’t a christian, I honestly have no idea how one deals with the crushing knowledge the we fail as human beings at some level constantly. I can only come to the conclusion that some really don’t know. That they go about life believing that they are as close to perfection as possible. Maybe, but for my part I have not yet met such a person. In fact if you watch the news at all the world seems to be full of the opposite.

All that said, here is my not so secret-secret for dealing with the knowledge that I am so completely and utterly flawed. I’ve read a book. And it say this:

 2 Corinthians 12:9

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart (Teen Edition) Book Review

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If the title doesn’t sound intriguing then the first line of the first chapter will definitely grab your attention.

J.D. Greer starts off by saying “If there were a Guinness Book of World Records for Amount of times having asked Jesus into your heart” I’m pretty sure I would hold it.

This book brings up a valid point in church teachings -“How can I know that I am saved?” “Was my confession heartfelt enough?” “Was I truly repentant?”  And the list of our doubts about our salvation goes on and on.

The author addresses these doubts in an easy to read format covering 8 chapters.  He takes us from his personal journey through belief, repentance, questions and also includes 3 appendices for further information.

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.  I enjoyed his honesty and openness about his journey and feel the information was clear, concise and informative.

Changing Your Environment–Joan’s Story, part 2

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Amy was replaced by a woman I’ll call “Sandy” who was raised as (surprise, surprise!) a Missouri Synod Lutheran.  We had a lot in common right away.  She was a leader and an “office mother” type.  Soon we were sharing her home-baked cookies, and she enjoyed planning lunches and other activities for us.  I suggested we do something for others.  Sandy jumped in, calling local agencies to see what was needed.  Eventually the office began selecting a charitable activity to support around the holidays.  When my daughter met a needy family and I mentioned them at work, my coworkers decided to adopt them, and over the course of a year sent groceries, household items and gift certificates.  We collected food for the food bank, personal items for the homeless shelter, and baby items for the crisis pregnancy center.  These collections were not limited to our small office, as we included coworkers in the supply warehouse, and the hospital couriers took time to deliver what we collected.

Over the years, I lived through many happy and painful life experiences with these people.  We celebrated significant birthdays, graduations, weddings, births and anniversaries.  One of us got divorced and another lost her young adult daughter in a car accident.  We moved to an offsite location and had to put in tons of overtime and work hard together as a team.  When my church held a walkathon for a young member with muscular dystrophy, my work friends did not just sponsor me — a couple of them participated and brought other family members along, too.  Somewhere along the line, they started asking me to pray for them, or add them to our church prayer chain.  Then I found I could ask them to pray for me, too.  Who would have imagined that in twenty years an environment could change so much?  I actually grew to enjoy going to work.  Many of the salespeople who called on us told me that we were the nicest people they got to visit–which gave me another opportunity to share my faith.  They didn’t know why we were different, but I did.  We were all on the same train, moving closer to realizing the Christian ideal.

A Prayer to Help Change Our Environment

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This prayer, attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, reveals one of the first principles of changing an environment:  you must change yourself first.

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace;

where there is hatred, let me sow love;

where there is injury, pardon;

where there is doubt, faith;’

where there is despair, hope;

where there is darkness, light;

where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;  to be understood, as to understand; to be loved as to love;

fir it is in giving that we receive,

it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Changing Your Environment — Joan’s Story, Part 1

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When I went to work at Frederick Memorial Hospital in 1990, I wasn’t especially happy to be there, but our family needed the income and benefits the job would provide.  There were five of us in the Purchasing office — two buyers, two clerical people and our director.  One of the clerks was angry that she wasn’t promoted into the buying position I got, and the other buyer was threatened by the fact that I had a college degree and she didn’t.  The atmosphere was, to say the least, not very warm.  In addition, there was a lot of bad language, off color jokes and sexual innuendoes.  I was miserable and wondered how I would ever stand to work there.  However, as a stubborn German type, I figured I could tough it out and would last longer than those who didn’t like me, especially the young woman who wanted my job.  I’ll call her “Amy.”  As a Christian, I prayed, but my prayers were more along the lines of “deliver me from evil” than “make me your instrument.”  I was working with some difficult people, but my attitude wasn’t all it should have been either.

Several months into the job I attended a Lutheran Via de Cristo weekend and that helped me change my focus.  Every morning I sat in my car for a while before work, reading my Bible and praying.  I even prayed for Amy.  My heart softened towards her as I realized her life wasn’t very happy.  Her life was filled with possessions that were important to her, but lacking in love and stability.  She was angry and took her anger out on others around her — she wasn’t singling me out.  I stopped taking her behavior personally, and found it didn’t bother me as much.  I tried to be friendly and invited Amy and her little daughter to some church events.  She didn’t come, but shared that another coworker she seemed to like and admire, had also invited her to church.  I encouraged her to give it a try, and I wish that I could say that Amy became a Christian, but I don’t know.  She left our office soon afterwards.  Our conversations may have had an influence on her life, and I continued to pray that God would send someone into Amy’s life who would show her where true happiness lies.

In the meantime, there were other changes.  I’m not a gifted evangelist, but I had ways to let others know I was Christian.  I talked about church, had a Christian calendar on my bulletin board, and often wore a cross.  These things were noticed.  People began to ask me questions–everything from “what is Shrove Tuesday?” to “what does your church believe about life after death?”  Most of my coworkers had some sort of church background or attachment, and as I talked about my faith, they began to share, too.  Then one day our director told me he was going to bring up the language being used in the office at a staff meeting, and would I support him in asking that we clean up our act.  Although I hadn’t complained, I guess just not joining in made an impact.

To be continued…..

Environment #6 Final Steps

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The final step in the environment’s transformation is to give yourself in friendship to the people there.  Win their hearts by showing a genuine care and concern for them.  A true friend does not force her views on others, but works patiently with them, helping them to question the values of the world, maybe even the values for which they have been living.  Years ago I was in a neighborhood Bible Study.  The leader told me that one of the members had originally joined only because she was suffering from depression and was looking for any activity that would get her our of the house.  One day she was feeling so sad she called to say she just couldn’t make herself get out of bed to come.  The other women decided it wasn’t enough to pray for her–they went over to her house, cleaned it and cooked dinner.  Their love and compassion had a lasting impact.  She saw something in their lives that she wanted.  She became a Christian because, as she put it, “Who wouldn’t want to be part of this?”

As we become more Christlike ourselves, and as we influence our friends and others around us toward the Christian ideal, our environments will change.  If you open a Via de Cristo Pilgrim’s Guide, the first thing you see, even before the table of contents are these words:

“To be on a pilgrimage is to go through Christ to the Father, under the impulse of the Holy Spirit, bringing others along with you.”

Each one of us is on just such a pilgrimage every day of our lives.

Environments are not changed suddenly or by magic.  You cannot change the world, but you can change yourself;  and as Paul says in the book of Galatians, “a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.”  Allow God to use you and you will be the leaven that raises the bread.