Hinton Rural Life Center is a mission agency of the Southeastern Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church. Inspired by Jesus Christ, Hinton Rural Life Center’s purpose is to engage individuals, congregations, and communities in transformation through retreat ministry and missional outreach. Learn more at www.HintonCenter.org.
I like to be creative. For as long as I can remember, I’ve enjoyed writing and taking pictures. I used to write a lot of poetry, and I’ve always had this dream of writing a book. That dream has turned into one of my long-standing goals for the future (you know, when I have time??).
Writing is fun for me, and so is taking photos. I’m not that advanced in age, but I’m old enough to remember back when you had to be very careful with the pictures you took. It was before digital cameras and well before photo-taking equipped cell phones. You had a limited number of pictures per roll of film, so you couldn’t snap photos like crazy then go back and delete the ones you didn’t need. Now I’m a bit spoiled and take way too many pictures. My Facebook friends can attest to this. For those who still use hashtags, mine should be #somanyshotsofscenery and #waytoomanydogpictures.
I also like artsy-craftsy things- I think “dabble in” is the appropriate term here- and I admit, I do some of the adult coloring books. I’ve also gone to different painting events (I really love these!). I even attempted a quilting class through a church. Unfortunately, a work commitment prevented me from going to the last few classes, so my quilt top and backing are done, sitting, waiting for me to finish. Oh, and I love scrapbooking- but add that one to the “when I have more time” category. My grandma handed down the love of crocheting to me, and that’s one I continue working at from time to time.
Around our house, my husband will call me anywhere from a little kid (coloring) to grammy (crocheting), while shaking his head at everything in between. He knows the reality; I love doing this stuff, but I simply don’t make enough time. So I dabble.
I’ve been thinking about how I wanted to make more time for me while preparing for this new ministry position. I’ve done well with that in many areas: spending more time with my hubby and our dogs (sooo many more walks with the dogs). But I haven’t found a good balance of time for my creativity along with everything else. It seems like that creativity just gets pushed to the “when I have more time” category.
I’m like many people- maybe even you. I will keep going and doing and putting everything else ahead of myself. The things I want to do, especially the “frivolous” (i.e. fun) things, get set aside for the ‘more important things’. But I’m beginning to understand that these fun things are just as important. We need to allow ourselves the time to be filled back up so we can continue pouring out to others.
In fact, I’ve been reflecting on scripture about this very thing:
On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.’” -John 7:37-38
At first glance, it may not seem like this scripture connects, but I’ve thought a lot about the words, “out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.” As a follower of Christ, I should be overflowing with the living water that only Jesus can give. Yet, it’s hard to have that excitement, the river flowing, when I’m too tired and “dried up.”
I have to intentionally make time to be refilled. I have to take time for personal devotion and do the things that bring me joy, and so do you.
We aren’t very effective in anything we do if we’re running low ourselves, and we can’t continue to help others if we find ourselves parched. You may not enjoy dabbling in crafts, or writing, or taking pictures. But what do you enjoy? When was the last time you did something just for fun– for you? I’m going to try to be intentional and make time for these things. And I hope you will too. I hope we can set aside those negative thoughts: that it’s selfish or a waste of time. I hope we can look at this as a way to refresh ourselves, so that we may continue following Jesus and overflowing with the living water that only He can give.
Hinton Center received a grant this month from The Duke Endowment for $5,000. These funds allow CEO Jacqueline Gottlieb to attend Leadership North Carolina, a competitive leadership training program that only accepts 60 individuals per class.
Gottlieb has served Hinton and the surrounding areas for five years. During this time she has exhibited leadership, motivation, commitment to the area and state, and volunteerism, which are just a handful of the requirements of applicants to Leadership North Carolina. Gottlieb revealed what this grant means to her and to the Hinton Center as a whole:
“To me, being granted funds to participate in Leadership NC means that The Duke
Endowment truly believes in the value of rural communities. Long-term
programs, like Leadership NC, provide individuals with the opportunity to
form lasting relationships. These relationships grant access to professional expertise as needs arise.”
This grant will allow Hinton Center, through Gottlieb, to make connections vital to the future of a community pillar like Hinton, and will further equip her to lead staff, volunteers, and other Hinton visitors.
Based in Charlotte and established in 1924 by industrialist and philanthropist James B. Duke, The Duke Endowment is a private foundation that strengthens communities in North Carolina and South Carolina by nurturing children, promoting health, educating minds and enriching spirits. Since its founding, it has distributed more than $3 billion in grants. The Endowment shares a name with Duke University and Duke Energy, but all are separate organizations.
“Nope, we really just can’t do it.”
I remember uttering those words a few weeks ago. And I was serious: I really meant it.
You see, this adorable stray dog showed up here at Hinton, and if you read my first post, I’m a dog lover. But, we already have two dogs and I couldn’t even imagine adding a third. However, we are currently staying at Hinton, and after everyone else went home for the day, guess what happened? The dog kind of adopted us, and we started falling in love with him.
But we really didn’t need another dog…the hair alone was enough to make me shake my head. Then there was the fact of a vet bill *gulp*. One day, as I was walking around with my new little buddy, I started praying for him: I prayed for protection and that someone would come along to love him. I wanted to, but I knew it’d be- for lack of a better word- messy. At the end of my prayer, I tacked on a half-hearted, “…but if you want us to do it, work it out.”
That was my first mistake, because God answered that prayer. A few days later a rescue place called and offered to cover the cost of the vet trip if we’d “foster” the dog for a month. So here we are, a few days in– falling more in love with Wesley (as we’ve named him), truly knowing that fostering means adopting (if our two get along with him– we’re working on it).
It is messy– quite literally– with more doggie prints, hair, and cleanup. It’s been messy emotionally too, because we’ve fallen in love with another pet who we aren’t so sure will integrate well with ours. We’ve put our hearts out there. With some sleep-interrupted nights and different scheduling issues, it’s a lot of work.
This has all made me think of how being in ministry with folks, walking alongside them can be messy, complicated and sometimes a lot of work. I wonder how many times I’ve walked by the “Wesleys” of this world– choosing to not notice them or thinking that “I really just can’t help.”
It’s easier to look the other way than to get invested in another person’s life. I can’t be the only person that’s noticed someone or something and thought, ‘I should do something but I just can’t because of the time, financial, emotional commitments’…and the list goes on.
Yet, I really believe this is what God calls us to do. God calls us to get a little messy, to get down in the trenches with people who may not be like us. But these are people we can walk alongside. People we can begin to know, not by their situation, but by their name; and, in turn, they get to know us too. We get to know them for who they are. Not to change or fix them, but to build relationships with them. Not only do we hope to impact their lives, but we should hope they impact ours. This is the type of thing that can change our communities and our world.
Yes, it’s messy. It’s complicated. It’s a lot of work.
But it’s worth it, and we really CAN do it.