September 2016 Newsletter
MINISTRY AT A GLANCE
Financials: Monthly Revenue Required: $7,100.00 + project total needs, Gravel for Driveway $1500.00, Well Pump $3,600.00, Monthly Revenue Received: $2,199.00-
Current Ministry/ Ranch Projects 1.) Chris is starting a group for men and women in January called “Journeys.” This group is intended to walk with people through despair, disappointment, doubt and grief. If you are interested contact her and keep an eye out for a flier in the next couple months. 2.) Cabinets doors are installed at Mountain Haven, It has been five years, and they look exquisite! We have about 3 indoor projects and a few miscellaneous items left to finish at Mountain Haven in order for the entire facility to be complete. All we can say is WOW! A downstairs shower, a back deck on the lower level, and a corn burner installed in the couples level. What a journey. We have a few outdoor projects to complete as well; installing a battery operated well pump, an automatic arm on the solar panels, and installing a few more solar panels for electric to the garage.
Something Interesting or Unexpected that Happened Last Month: Our kids are doing fantastic in extracurricular activities. Kaisha is writing songs (on the piano) and taking voice lessons and Lilly is competing in a very small dance troupe. What a blessing that they can take part in activities that give them life.
Top Prayer Requests: 1.) Blended families face difficulties that are challenging. Please pray that families that blend can be unified, come together, and create new family cultures. 2.) Pray for hunting season as Kevin is working hard outfitting, to generate income for our family during this time and Chris is flying solo at the ranch and with the kids.
Do you ever doubt or despair?
Often we correlate doubt and despair with lack of faith, and fear. Perhaps, though, we can reframe the role of doubt and despair in our walk with God, our marriage and our life. I think I have spent too many years fighting doubt and despair, and trying to banish them from my thought life. But what if instead of fighting these experiences, we allowed them to reside side by side with the other experiences like triumph, joy, and hope? What if we allowed these challenging experiences to ebb and flow in a way that alchemizes the dark emotions with the light emotions? In marriage we will all encounter moments, or maybe even seasons, of doubt. Those nagging questions like “will we get through this?” “Will this person ever change?” and for some even the question of, “ Is this worth it?” Despair plays a different melody. It is more subtle and can linger in our bones. The questions of “how long?” or “why?” can replay and replay. Often times the existential crisis leads us to question where God is, what is His role in all of this, and in that questioning we are lead to the end of all our own efforts.
Jesus experienced betrayal from one of his trusted followers when Judas chose silver over relationship. He further experienced,the deepest form of forsakenness and aloneness while dying on a cross calling out for His father. Being fully human and fully God we know that the despair He experienced was unequivocally possibly the worst type of loss known to man, as well as utter disconnectedness from God; His father. I imagine the cries, the tears, the groans, and the anguish that Christ uttered from this dark place of forsakenness. Stop for a minute and picture that dark place.
Now consider this:
There is an old Chinese tale about a woman whose only son died. In her grief, she went to the holy man and asked, “What prayers, what magical incantations do you have to bring my son back to life?”
Instead of sending her away or reasoning with her, he said to her, “Fetch me a mustard seed from a home that has never known sorrow. We will use it to drive the sorrow out of your life.” The woman went off at once in search of that magical mustard seed.
She came first to a splendid mansion, knocked at the door, and said, “I am looking for a home that has never known sorrow. Is this such a place? It is very important to me.” They told her, “You’ve certainly come to the wrong place,” and began to describe all the tragic things that recently had befallen them. The woman said to herself, “Who is better able to help these poor, unfortunate people than I, who have had misfortune of my my own?” She stayed to comfort them, then went on in search of a home that had never known sorrow. But wherever she turned, in hotels and in other places, she found one tale after another of sadness and misfortune. The woman became so involved in helping others cope with their sorrows that she eventually let go of her own. She would later come to understand that it was the quest to find the magical mustard seed that drove away her suffering.
Our human, and somewhat religious, response to doubt and despair, is to give our best apologetics argument, our best prosperity scripture to promise a better future, or to hope the despair ends soon. These are all well meaning attempts to reach people and respond to pain, but I would wager to say that they stem from a place of wanting to fix, or feeling uncomfortable with the other person’s anguish. For the person in despair, or actively doubting, the temptation is to fight it, deny it, coddle it, or channel it into other negative energies like anger, bad habits, and destructive behaviors. We are essentially trying to tame a lion. Like the wise monk, who simply listened and sent the grieving woman on a quest to connect with the world by sharing her loss with others who had also experienced loss, we too should have compassion and empathy on those who are doubting or in despair; and have faith that their quest will eventually bring them to a place of acceptance.
For many of us the pain that others are experiencing causes our own pain to come to light, or it highlights the fragility of the human condition, or it annoys us and causes us to want to hurry them along in the process and the timeline. Perhaps, though, our role is to journey on the quest with them, gently walking and listening and waiting, or perhaps we finance their quest, or we check in with them on their quest, or we sit back and wait (withholding judgment or our own expectations) while they are on the quest. Whatever our role; each of us has walked in a place of despair, and doubt at one time or another and we each have our own fragile mustard seed that we hold.
In your marriage, and with your children, you can ask yourself how to love your family more authentically and radically while they journey with doubt and despair. You can ask yourself how their place of pain is causing you to respond. What is it evoking in you? You can be present in ways you never thought possible putting aside that mantra: “I know how they will respond to that.” Seeing pain and despair often requires us to lay aside our own expectations, timelines, agitations, and judgments and recklessly abandon our control of how others journey with pain, over to God. Yes, it is painful to wait, yes there may be behaviors that are destructive you need to confront; but the key is to remember to hold your own mustard seed close and remember everybody journeys with a seed of their own. As you hold your seed close it allows you to see more clearly the path and the choices that you have to choose for your life. Agape, radical, committed, love (as Jesus said: of God, and of others as you love yourself) is what makes the burden of the quest a little lighter.