Devotion

What a Mess!
By Deborah Schoenfelder

“I trust in your unfailing love; My heart rejoices in your salvation.” Psalm 13:5

“I will praise the LORD, who counsels me; Even at night my heart instructs me.” Psalm 16:7

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Romans 8:28

“Give your burdens to the Lord, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.” Psalm 55:22

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

There’s no way around it: Life is messy. We spill, we stain, we track mud into the house, and when the light is just right, we see windows and other glass surfaces covered with finger and nose prints (where did those come from?). I freely admit I am a “neatnik”, but the advent of having children and then a couple of feline companions helped me to ease up on my supposed need for neatness. I quickly figured out a little peanut butter on the sofa was not a problem. And a kitten swinging from the drapes? Oh well, she gave us all a good laugh and a warm memory that has lasted beyond her lifetime.

At times I feel like I am a mess. I’m anxious about having to confront someone about a sensitive situation, or I wish I could undo something I said or did, or I wonder why someone felt it necessary to say something that was hurtful to me. The list of times that I feel like a mess are endless! These can often be times that I want to retreat from others and spend time in the safety of my home. There’s no doubt life is “cleaner” if we don’t get too close to people. Indeed, relationships are complicated and can be messy. But I try not to remain in my safe shell for too long and venture back out to be among others.

On one of my recent visits to the memory care facility where my dear mother resides, a woman at the next table was concerned that she had spilled something onto her clothing (I’ll call her Joyce, not her real name). A staff person eating with her said without hesitation “The spill is hardly noticeable, and I think life is too short to worry about spills.” Immediately Joyce started laughing and replied “You know, you’re right.” Lunch continued with no further worried remarks about the spill that might turn into a stain. My thought was how profound to say that life is too short to worry about spills. They happen, and they happen a lot: The spills that come about because of errant food or drinks ending up where they shouldn’t; and the spills that happen in our mental, emotional, social, and spiritual lives.

So when spills happen and my life feels messy, I think the real question for me is what am I going to do about the spills, especially the messy ones. Am I going to worry about them, am I going blame someone, and maybe even get angry? I may go as far as question God’s presence as I struggle with my mess, much like these Bible verses lament:

“Why, O LORD, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” Psalm 10:1

“Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?” Psalm 13:1-2

Rather than worry, blame, get angry, or question God’s presence, maybe I can work at cleaning up the mess as best I can and move on. I don’t find it easy to fix messes I’ve made, or to move on when I have felt slighted by someone. But God did not promise me an easy life. What he does promise is to take my hand along this life journey, and if necessary carry me at times when I feel particularly downtrodden and weak.

In addition to God’s promises that are there if I open my heart, I can find strength and solace in folks I have come to trust. And worshipping with others, as well as turning to scripture and Christian music is empowering and soothing for me. For example, Francesca Battistelli sings the song “This Is The Stuff” (2011), proclaiming “In the middle of my little mess, I forget how big I’m blessed.” The refrain of another song “Beautiful Mess” (2015) performed by Meredith Kinleigh, goes like this:

Once again I’m reminded, I’m not perfect-I’m a beautiful mess that’s at my best-I am broken just like the rest-I’m a beautiful mess-Yes I confess I’ve done things that make no sense-But if I failed to see the imperfection in me I wouldn’t get to know the Savior who sets me free-So I accept that I’m a beautiful mess.”

Life is messy, I am messy, but I’m a work in progress guided by His unconditional and all-encompassing love. Join me?

Prayer: God of love and life, I need to remember life is messy and that you are with me as I navigate the waters of my life journey. I want to trust your promise to be with me as I work on my messes. I know I won’t get it right all the time, but by leaning on your everlasting arms, I can lead a cleaner life. Thank you for your constant presence! AMEN.

Rural Life Sunday–May 7

May 7 Rural Life Sunday

“Giver of Life, We thank you for those who are a part of putting food on our tables. We lift up those in rural areas who are struggling with the loss of family farms, low wages and lack of employment. We pray for your mercy and justice. Amen.” (Prayer from the Iowa Annual Conference website)

We will be observing Rural Life Sunday on May 7, which celebrates the church’s rural heritage, recognizes the ongoing crisis in rural areas, and affirms the interdependence between rural and urban communities. On this date, the money collected will be sent to the Iowa Annual Conference where 100% will be retained to fund grants to enrich ministries in rural areas. Please give thanks for our blessings and consider giving generously on Rural Life Sunday.

April Devotion

What’s So Funny?

By Deborah Schoenfelder

“He will once again fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy.”

Job 8:21

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens;

A time to cry and a time to laugh . . .”

Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4

“Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, “The LORD has done great things for them.”

Psalm 126:2

This summer, I flew to Washington state to care for my twin toddler granddaughters. But it was no easy feat getting out to the great Northwest. I dutifully arrived at the Eastern Iowa Airport well ahead of the scheduled departure time, and went through the security drill: Shoes and jacket off, gels and liquids crammed into a quart bag, other items into a bin, my carry-on bag and purse onto the conveyor belt, and I proceeded through the scanning area with my hands over my head. All was good and I was soon at my gate with up-to-date information indicating my flight was on time. So I was expecting a long but uneventful day to get to Washington. Then the delays started, first to Denver because of severe thunderstorms. When I did get there, I had missed my connection with no more flights to my final destination that night. So for the first time in my life I slept in an airport, something I hope to never repeat. Add to that the experience of waking up in the middle of the first night at my daughter’s home on an air mattress, realizing I was again sleeping on the floor because the mattress had a slow leak. My luck didn’t change on the flight home due to inclement weather and a major mistake on the part of the airline, so instead of returning home late Thursday evening I arrived mid-morning on Friday.

I shared all of my airport mishaps as they unfolded via text messages with my daughter, and I clearly remember her response when I was finally home safely: “Wow, Mom, you’ve really taken all of this so well, much better than I would have. How did you manage to stay so positive, and even make it funny?”

As I thought about her question and all that had transpired, I wondered the same thing: Why wasn’t I mad at the world? Then it hit me that first of all, I wasn’t alone: Not on the airport floor that was my bed for one night, and not when I looked at the airport monitors countless times only to see that yet another flight had been delayed or cancelled (many others were also stranded). In addition, I had my husband and daughter to share my traveling woes with by phone and text messages. And most importantly, I had my faith that kept my nerves fairly steady and I had my sense of humor that I chose to engage.

Can calling on our sense of humor be part of our faith? Yes, I believe so. In fact, I think it is a requirement of our faith. There are many instances in the Bible where laughter is referenced, such as those I selected and shared above from the books of Job, Ecclesiastes, and the Psalms.

Humor and laughter is a way to cope in circumstances far less annoying than my recent travel experiences, and also in situations far more traumatic than what I endured. Laughter, when not at the expense of others, can release tension and put what’s happening into its proper perspective. We often hear pastors use humor in worship services. It helps us relate to the intended message, and it reminds us we all have more in common than we think. Put simply, I think humor that is used in a gentle and kind way, is healthy for us and just plain feels good. Here’s the words to a contemporary Christian song that celebrates laughter:

“I shake my head at my good fortune As I shake the dust off of my boots Yesterday I was an orphan Somehow today I belong to You Somehow today I belong to You

(Refrain): Ha ha, don’t it make you wanna laugh out loud? Ooh ooh, and shout, “Hallelujah!” Oh yeah, if you got joy go and let it on out Ha ha ha ha, laugh out loud

I was alive but I wasn’t living A prisoner of my fear and shame But when you find you’ve been forgiven Laughter will rise like a holy kind of praise So I throw my head back and offer up my thanks!

(Refrain)

He said bring to me your heavy heart Take my hand and we’ll go whistling in the dark Here we go now!

Ha ha, don’t it make you wanna laugh out loud? Ooh ooh, and shout, “Hallelujah!” Oh yeah, if you got joy go and let it on out Ha ha ha ha, laugh out loud

Ha ha ha ha, laugh out loud”

(Laugh Out Loud, Jason Gray, 2014)

So when troubles seem overwhelming-maybe, in addition to using other healthy coping strategies, we should draw upon and even cultivate our sense of humor-to help us weather storms that are sure to come our way. It’s a gift from God that can help us through the most trying of times. Good news indeed!

Prayer: God of life and laughter, I think I need to lighten up and have a good laugh more often. You gave me this gift of humor, and using it wisely and on a regular basis can help me find joy in the everyday rhythms and mishaps of life. I will try harder to make use of humor in a way that lifts me and others up, and is pleasing to you. Thank you and AMEN!

Ad Board minutes–3/29/17

Springdale UMC Administrative Board

March 29, 2017

 

  1. Opening Devotion & Prayer

Jim Farmer opened the meeting with a devotion.  Those present were: Steven           Grace, Pastor Kimberly Bowles, Lynda Ambrose, Rick Mayhew, Diane Heick,           Bruce Barnhart, Rhoda Barnhart, Theresa Mayhew, Dan McElderry, and Jim           Farmer.

 

  1. Trustees
    1. One ceiling fan in sanctuary has quit working. Options are to replace one or  both fans or wait and see if we miss the fans running. It would cost $100 to rent a lift for one day, the fans would be a minimum of $100 each.  It was decided to wait and see if we miss the fan.
    2. A spring clean-up of the church including closets and the crow’s nest was discussed.  Theresa will find a time to go through bible school stuff with others, Bruce will dispose of some old tanks.
    3. Bruce will bring in soil to fill ruts left from roofing project.
    4. We will wait another year on roofing upper room.
    5. Lynda volunteered her family to keep lawn mowed this summer, Tana will be unable with knee injury.

3.   Stewardship

  1. Current Ministry Spending Plan for 2017 was handed out.

4. SPRC

  1. District Superintendent Kiboko wants to wait a year before discussing being

yoked with Rochester.

2. Jim Farmer, Ruth Farmer, Steven Grace, and Rhoda Barnhart have been attending the Healthy Church Initiative at St. Mark’s in Iowa City.

Next meeting:

Wednesday May 31, 2017-6:30 (SPRC); 7:00(full board)

Closing prayer by Steven Grace

 

C.O.M.E Minutes-4/2/2017

MINUTES: Outreach/Mission/Evangelism (COME) Team of Springdale UMC

April 2, 2017

In attendance: Deborah Schoenfelder, Jim Schoenfelder, Julie Mather, Austin Richards, Rachel Richards, Jo Leighty, Pastor Kimberly Bowles.

Minutes of January 8, 2017 were distributed for review. Joys and concerns were briefly shared.

OUTREACH

1. Contact persons for upcoming months (Jo Leighty, Coordinator): Ongoing.

2. Campground flyer: Jim Schoenfelder updated and printed fliers for distribution. Jo Leighty took one of the fliers to post at Little Bear campground. The remaining fliers will go to Jim Farmer to post in various locations.

3. Writing notes as follow up to Joys and Concerns time during Sunday worship: Jim S. presented the idea of changing how written notes are sent to people who are lifted up in Joys and Concerns during weekly worship services. The recommendation is that the person who brings up a joy or concern in worship can then follow up by writing a note to the person(s) for which the congregation prays, if appropriate, rather than having the contact person do this. The COME committee will supply cards that have a photo of the church on the front, and a preprinted message on the inside of the card. There is also room to add a personal note, when signing the card. In addition, there was discussion that tallying the number of contacts annually may be inaccurate, and the number is not used other than to record it in the COME Contact notebook. Thus, the committee decided we will no longer keep track of and count the number of contacts made yearly. We will begin this practice on Sunday, April 23.

MISSION

1. Total giving for UMCOR Sunday on March 26, 2017=$430.00.

2. Rhoda and Deborah met and selected two offering in addition to UMCOR Sunday (formerly known as One Great Hour of Sharing) as the focus for our faith giving in 2017. Those two offerings are World Communion Sunday, and Rural Life Sunday. The committee agreed upon May 7, 2017 for Rural Life Sunday, and October 1, 2017 for World Communion Sunday.

3. Pastor Kimberly reported that she and three others from our church attended the Leadership Development Training Event on January 29 in Cedar Rapids. Kimberly said that the four of them attended different sessions, and she noted many of the attendees at the event were from small churches.

4. Rachel Richards and Deborah summarized the changes for Thanksgiving Ingathering in 2017. The Iowa-Nigeria Partnership has been disbanded. Regarding UMCOR kits, birthing kits are not currently needed. All other kits and opportunities for giving remain the same as they were for 2016.

EVANGELISM

1. Dates for the 2017 Family Nights are listed in the 2017 Activities and Events calendar distributed to our faith community.

Next meeting: July 9, 2017 following worship.

 

Bowling Party-This Saturday!

Join us this Saturday, April 8th at Cedar Lanes ( 605 E. 7th St., Tipton, IA) at 6 p.m. for our church bowling party. Come hungry and eat at the lanes; eat with the family and then come over; plan to bowl a few games; or just come and enjoy some fun, fellowship time. This event will be a great time for all ages. And if you’re coming, invite a friend to enjoy the evening with us!

 

UMCOR Sunday (Formerly One Great Hour of Sharing)–March 26

On March 26, we will celebrate UMCOR Sunday, previously known as One Great Hour of Sharing. On this church wide Special Sunday, United Methodists focus on the work of the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR). UMCOR responds to natural disasters and humanitarian crises around the globe.

Recently UMCOR responded to the situation in Flint, Michigan, where residents – including thousands of children – were exposed to lead in their drinking water since April 2014. UMCOR provided a grant to support local United Methodist churches and other agencies to address the problem. This community, somewhat reluctant to trust government agencies, welcomed The United Methodist Church.

On UMCOR Sunday, we share the goodness of life with people who hurt. Our designated gifts to UMCOR go directly toward relief efforts. Our offering pays administrative expenses for UMCOR and supports ministries of food, shelter, health, and peace. When we assist UMCOR with our offering, we are part of the important work that happens in places like Flint, Michigan. Please give thanks for our blessings and consider giving generously on UMCOR Sunday.

Thursday Devotion

“I’ll Pray for You”

by Rhoda Barnhart

 

“My thoughts & prayers are with you”. We hear it —on radio & TV broadcasts, in church, and see it on face book, greeting cards, and more.

How about follow-up? For instance –you run into a friend at the grocery store. In a brief visit you learn she/he has a scary diagnosis and is concerned. It’s easy to say “I’ll pray for you.” Or find an encouraging card to send & add “I’ll be praying for you.” And does that happen? As other demands pile up—does that promise get fulfilled? For many of us I suspect it sometimes gets “lost in the shuffle.” Or, perhaps we observe a need, and simply “feel bad” for that person.

Let’s remember: “… the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” (James 5: 16.)

Prayers don’t have to be long, spoken aloud, grammatically correct, or done while kneeling. God wants us to pray and develop a relationship with Him. A simple prayer-time a friend observes is one I’ve adopted. When the fire siren rings she prays for the first responders, firefighters and victim(s) needing help. Another brief prayer-time I’ve adopted is: when I’m driving behind slow moving farm equipment, I pray for the farmer: his/her safety, crops, family—and patiently wait during the delay.

At the end of the day, before drifting off to sleep we can ask ourselves—did I pray for the needs of anyone—or myself today? God is near—as one hymn writer puts it: “He’s Only a Prayer Away.”

Vs.1 “There’s someone who loves every sinner, He’s calling, O hear Him today; “Tis Jesus, our blessed redeemer, He’s only a prayer away.

Vs. 2 He has an infinite power, and so many things He can do; He’ll be ready to help you, Just ask Him to come to you.

Vs. 3 When others forsake and desert you, and you’re in the depth of despair; Let God share your burden and sorrow, Just seek Him and He’ll be there.

Chorus: He’s only a prayer away, He’s only a prayer away; God will be with you whenever you pray. He’s only a prayer away.”

If you’ve been feeling a need/desire to have a closer relationship with God/Jesus, a good place to start is with prayer. If unsure how to pray—-do it as you would talk to a friend. Beloved by many, this hymn explains “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.”

Vs. 1 “What a Friend we have in Jesus, All our sins and griefs to bear!

What a privilege to carry Every thing to God in prayer!

O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,

All because we do not carry Everything to God in prayer.”

Verses 2 & 3 describe how we can benefit by taking our burdens,sorrows, and cares to God in prayer. “Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share?”

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, Help us remember when we, loved ones, or friends are burdened with cares that You’re listening, 24/7, —waiting for our prayers.

 

 

 

Thursday Devotion

“Get the Ugly Out” By Steven Grace

Micah 6:8 (NIV)

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.     And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy     and to walk humbly with your God.

Isaiah 1:16-17 (NIV)

16 Wash and make yourselves clean.     Take your evil deeds out of my sight;     stop doing wrong. 17 Learn to do right; seek justice.     Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless;     plead the case of the widow.

 

Some days I sit and wonder how we have gotten to this point? It seems like every time I scroll through my social media, I see hate-filled posts littering my timelines. And it pains me that it comes from a wide variety of sources. (Here are some hypotheticals: Whites/Blacks/Christians/Muslims/any ethnicity are bad because ________; Liberals/Conservatives/Libertarians are buffoons/ignorant/racist/etc.). That pretty much sums up a lot of the links that get shared. Are these topics 100% right or wrong? Not anywhere close. But that’s not the debate here.

I truly feel that if we all take a step back, take a deep breath, and take the time to listen and learn about the issues, we would be in a much better place. Are there racial tensions in our country? Absolutely. But rather than lump one group of people together and label them as good/bad/ignorant, why can’t we look for the root of the problem. Why is there racial tension? Why can’t we see that all people are God’s children, and we’re all the same? Why is our political climate so contentious? Why can’t we realize that as citizens of the same country, we should have similar goals that should make this country better, even if we can’t agree on the exact way to do that?

The scriptures I chose remind us that God wants us to take care of our neighbors. The Greatest Commandment: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart…and love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37, 39) No matter our political leanings or race or profession or whatever qualifier you want to put on someone, we need to love our neighbors. Even if we disagree with them, we love them. Even if they say something we don’t like, we love them. When we can spread that love, a lot more of the ugly in the world will disappear, and then we all will be much better off.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for the love you have shared with us, in Your Son, Jesus Christ. Guide us to spread that love to our neighbors to get the ugly out of our world. AMEN.

Thursday Devotion

“Feed Me”    By Deborah Schoenfelder

“And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.”

John 6:35

“Just like the body grows, there is a sense in which the spirit also grows; and just like the body needs physical food in order to grow, so the spirit needs spiritual food in order to grow.

That is why Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”

Luke 4:4

I like to eat. No, I REALLY like to eat! I enjoy eating alone as well as with friends and family, but I also know that it is easy for me to overeat. When I do, my clothes start to feel tight, and I often feel sluggish. That’s when I know I have gone beyond nourishing my body to overdoing it. I am fairly well versed on the basics of nutrition: Lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, making sure to get protein in my diet; and limiting fat, sugar, and salt. I also understand the concept of portion control, but that doesn’t mean I always follow that advice. Can anyone relate? It’s especially difficult for me when dining out, and I bet I’m not alone in this challenge.

A common phrase these days is “Eating Clean”, not a new idea but very visible in nutrition and popular literature. There is no one definition of this concept, but in very simple terms it is the practice of eating whole, unrefined food rather than processed products and foods with extra additives. Easier said than done in our hurried lives!

The bottom line for someone like me who doesn’t especially like to cook, is that eating clean and in reasonable portions can be a struggle that I have to keep working on. That’s the bad news, at least for me. On the other hand, the GOOD NEWS is there are no limits on feeding our spirits. We can fill ourselves to overflowing with no resulting physical, emotional, or spiritual discomfort. Instead, joy pours out and we are more able to feed others. Spiritual fullness is satisfying and quenching, and the resulting joy is contagious. Hear the refrain of the hymn Fill My Cup, asking to be filled to the brim:

 “Fill my cup Lord, I lift it up, Lord! Come and quench this thirsting of my soul; Bread of heaven, feed me till I want no more– Fill my cup, fill it up and make me whole!”

Richard Blanchard, 1959

The song attests to the life-giving food and drink that comes from opening our hearts into relationship with Christ. The sustenance that makes us feel joyfully full and content is there for our acceptance.

Another hymn speaks of our thirst for a deeper connection to God. To me, the words suggest an almost painful yearning:

“As the deer pants for the water, So my soul longs after You. You alone are my heart’s desire, And I long to worship You.”

Martin J. Nystrom, 1981

In addition to worship mentioned in the song, our hunger and thirst can be satisfied by reading and studying scripture, prayer, and Christian fellowship; all within our reach for us to partake. So when I am lamenting about what I should and should not eat and drink, I will also rejoice that I am not limited when it comes to taking care of my spiritual hunger and thirst. Go ahead, join me and indulge!

 

Prayer: Loving God of Life, we are grateful for your bounties of food and shelter that most of us take for granted. Help us to be more diligent about choosing to fill our cup and plate to overflowing with the love you offer freely. Then may we share that joy with others so that we pass it on. Praise God! AMEN.