Daily devo available on Hinton Facebook page

17Apr

Daily devo available on Hinton Facebook page

Daily devos can be found on the Hinton Center Facebook page.

Listed below is the Friday, April 17th edition:

Buzzword: Be in community

Read John 1:1-5, 14

Key Scripture Verse: “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, generous inside and out, true from start to finish.” –John 1:14 MSG

Moving into a neighborhood has a lot of implied meaning to it, because there’s a difference between just going somewhere and moving into the neighborhood. Moving in implies getting to know your neighbors, learning more about the area, being present, and being in community.

How are you reaching out to make someone feel included in community during this time of physical distancing? Share your ideas in the comments so others will benefit from them!

 

Missional Musings: We are more beautiful for having been broken

26Mar

Missional Musings: We are more beautiful for having been broken

March 26, 2020

I’m fascinated by the Japanese art form of Kintsugi – are you familiar with it? It’s the practice of repairing broken pottery by mending the areas of breakage with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum 

Simply put, it’s the practice of highlighting brokenness and calling it beautiful.  

In my own life, I would say that I’m more beautiful for having been broken. At least on most days. I think that’s why the art of Kintsugi speaks to me so much. I mean, think about it. How often do we handle our own brokenness by highlighting the cracks, the scars, the marks left behind? Probably not all that often. We generally handle it in other ways…  

We try to cover the brokenness up. We hide it from others, afraid if they see those parts of us, they’ll think we’re to be discarded, just like a broken piece of pottery. Not good enough. Not worth anything. So we cover it up.  

We even try to cover the brokenness up from ourselves. We think we if stuff it deep away or act like we aren’t affected… like we weren’t broken, that we will be okay. So we power on. We forge ahead.  

The problem is, whether we’re hiding it from others or denying it to ourselves, those cracks just don’t stay hidden. Try as we might, more wear and tear, more stress, more trauma, more life stuff just keeps compounding and the cracks either start to show or they get bigger.  

But mending our brokenness and calling it beautiful? Allowing others to see it? That’s how we heal.  

I think during this time where we are forced to do life differently, where we or people we know are struggling with job loss, illness, fear, isolation, grief, and uncertainty, is a time that either brings out the best or the worst in people.  

Friends, we have such an opportunity to be the hands, feet and smile of Jesus during this time.  

We can model what it means to believe that we are more beautiful for having been broken. We don’t have to cover up the brokenness from others or ourselves. We don’t have to act like we are always okay. It’s okay to feel grief, to be stressed, to feel all the things during this time of uncertainty. We can STILL show the love of Jesus – through that very brokenness.  

Even though I have hope, I have real fears. I’m starting to feel this bizarre blend of compassion fatigue, not from being on the front lines of this, like first responders, medical professionals, and all those who are doing their jobs to keep stores clean and open, to keep factories running, to keep some things moving in life. I feel it because I’m reading and hearing the fear and stress from my friends, my loved ones, my community, and really, the entire world. I feel like I’m absorbing so much of it and it’s wearing me down. I find myself exhausted day after day. 

The current situation and all that comes with it has also caused me to feel triggered by a previous trauma I experienced, and, frankly, it’s overwhelming. Even though my brain knows I’m not in that situation anymore, my body is reacting like I am.  

If I’m honest, I feel broken.  

Maybe you do too.  

This is where the opportunity enters. Instead of trying to hide it, which we know won’t work well for long, we can lean into it. We can use our brokenness to let the light of Jesus shine through. We can start to believe that we are more beautiful for having been broken. We can acknowledge the pain and suffering, but we can also allow our brokenness to help someone else during this time.  

Friends, I think our society as a whole has an opportunity to emerge from this situation more beautiful for having been broken. I already hear wonderful things that are happening in spite of the fear and uncertainty.  

So, today, I would encourage you to allow yourself some extra grace… and allow your neighbor some too. When you feel the urge to try to hide the cracks, your brokenness, remember that just like that piece of pottery that now shines with gold in the cracks, YOU are more beautiful for having been broken.  

I want to leave you with this poem by Nikita Gill, titled, “You Are a Survivor.” 

 

The bits of you that are broken, 

the bits of you that are damaged, 

do not see them that way. 

 

Instead see them as slowly being filled with beautiful experiences and truths 

you have learned from the damage, 

the equivalent of lacquered gold. 

 

I want you to remember, you are not a broken thing, 

Instead, you are a human full of incredible and wonderful experience, 

made of the same things swords and diamonds are made of. 

 

You are a survivor, my darling, and  

I salute you for everything you have been through, 

and for making the universe so proud, 

so very proud of what you have become. 

 

Go, be beautiful.  

Missional Musings: Becoming a seed in our difficult circumstances

17Mar

Missional Musings: Becoming a seed in our difficult circumstances

March 17, 2020

What a difference a few weeks can make. I’m sitting at home this morning, after just completing a staff Zoom meeting, recognizing the privilege in being able to have internet and work from home.

I know most of us are now self-isolating, or at least doing our best to socially detach, and what a strange thing that is. I mean, how often have I taken for granted meeting someone for coffee or ice cream? How often do I just casually pop into the store to grab just one item that I “need” (but let’s face it, it usually isn’t a need… and my definition of what “I need” has now somewhat shifted).

I’m an introvert, so in some ways this isn’t that difficult for me, although there’s something to be said to desiring to come home and be by myself with my furries (dogs) for a little bit to recharge, vs. feeling as if it’s not really my choice to do so.

Things have changed.

Friends, my heart is heavy and I’m sure you might find yourself in the same place as I am… this place where you feel discouraged and concerned.

My heart is heavy for all those who are at-risk. My mom is one of those individuals, and I’m fearful for her. Yet, I know all we can do is be cautious and do our best, so that’s what we’re doing.

My heart is heavy for all the people on the front lines of this thing, trying to find answers, trying to get the right information out there, fighting to save lives.

My heart is heavy for all those who are losing income or having to continue working in their daily jobs, those who are struggling to make ends meet, those having difficulties in finding childcare, those who need to have extra funds for more food for their children who are now home from school… so many people who are hurting and struggling. Those who aren’t sure what today will bring.

My heart is heavy for all of the unexpected changes we’re now facing. And yet… YET – I have hope. It’s not that I don’t recognize the severity of the situation, but I’m clinging to hope and looking for opportunities.

I’ve seen this quote a lot lately and it rings true for me personally and I think it applies for what we are facing today… “They tried to bury us, they didn’t know we were seeds.”

This thing may feel as if it’s trying to bury us… but we are seeds.

Our theme for missions 2020 is Treasured… taken from 2 Corinthians 4:6-9, which reads –

It started when God said, “Light up the darkness!” and our lives filled up with light as we saw and understood God in the face of Christ, all bright and beautiful. If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us. As it is, there’s not much chance of that. You know for yourselves that we’re not much to look at. We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken.

Surrounded and battered by troubles? Not sure what to do? Spiritually terrorized? Feeling thrown down?

I think these are applicable words for us today.

And yet – there is hope – because God says to light up the darkness… because… we’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, BUT we’re not demoralized. We’re not sure what to do, BUT we know that God knows what to do. We’ve been spiritually terrorized – that is, not really understanding the why or the how of all of this, BUT God hasn’t left our side. We’ve been thrown down, BUT we haven’t been broken.

We are seeds.

So I wonder as followers of Jesus what we are during this time of uncertainty and fear that is around us?

There are opportunities here for the light of Christ to shine in the darkness.

So many of my clergy colleagues have been able to be creative to provide worship experiences, and that’s a beautiful thing. That’s a seed.

So many people have been connecting to others in different ways that may be a stretch for them. Case in point: me doing a video… That’s a seed.

There are so many opportunities to connect with loved ones in meaningful ways. To spend more time together.

To pick up a book and travel to a new place, while staying at home. To make the most of each moment we have.

To live and love differently, in spite of change and difficulty.

Those are seeds.

There are many ways we can continue reaching out to our neighbors, even as we are doing our best to follow CDC guidelines and stay healthy and safe, and try to do all we can do to protect the most vulnerable populations at this time.

We can pray.

We can act… from a safe distance. Pick up the phone. Send a text. Facetime. Use the tools we have available to reach out to another person. Going to the store or pharmacy? Find out if your neighbor or friend needs something and drop it off to them (you don’t even need to see each other). Write a letter – a real letter – to someone.

We can be present. Take a walk – enjoy nature and fresh air… Listen to the birds. Watch the squirrels play. Know that it’s okay to pause and to just BE in the moment.

Be a seed. Allow the light of Christ to shine in and through you.

Let me leave you with this Non-traditional blessing… one that is a great reminder for all of us:

A Non-traditional Blessing

May God bless you with discontent with easy answers, half-truths, superficial relationships, so that you will live from deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, abuse, and exploitation of people, so that you will work for justice, equality, and peace.

May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation and war, so that you will reach out your hand to comfort them and to change their pain to joy.

May God bless you with the foolishness to think you can make a difference in this world, so that you will do the things which others tell you cannot be done.

If you have the courage to accept these blessings, then may you also be blessed with:

happiness—because you will know that you have made life better for others

inner peace—because you will have worked to secure an outer peace for others

laughter—because your heart will be light

faithful friends—because they will recognize your worth as a person.

These blessings are yours—not for the asking, but for the giving—from the One who wants to be your companion…our God, who lives and reigns, forever and ever. Amen.

Ahrens ready to tackle Appalachian Trail

15Nov

Ahrens ready to tackle Appalachian Trail

From Hinton Center to the Appalachian Trail? This week’s guest blog comes from former summer staffer Rachel Ahrens. What an adventure she’s about to embark upon – and we are so excited for her! My heart is happy to read more about her journey…

Hiya friends! Where do I even begin? Maybe with a short introduction, I suppose. My name is Rachel Ahrens, but some call me Dragonfly. I am a senior Outdoor Leadership major with a minor in Appalachian Studies at Young Harris College, located just about 15 minutes away from the Hinton Center. I was a Summer Staffer at Hinton for the 2017, 2018, and 2019 summers. I served as a Summer Missions Leader in 2017, a Field Manager in 2018, and the Missions Activities Coordinator in 2019, and for the summer of 2020 I have to opportunity to serve as the Appalachian Trail Chaplain with the Holston Conference of the United Methodist Church. It is this really amazing opportunity in which I get to hike the Appalachian Trail (Maine to Georgia) serving as a Chaplain walking alongside those I meet. That’s where the name Dragonfly comes in, it’s my trail name, but I’ll get to that more in a bit. In all honesty, I would not have this opportunity without my time at the Hinton Center shaping who I am today.

While I worked at Hinton there was this stirring inside me to walk alongside individuals. I saw what we did, how we worked, and fell in love with it. In all honestly, I fell in love with the people. Hinton holds a special place in my heart because no matter who you are, or where you come from, they love you, and they respect you. My summers spent working with our homeowners and teams instilled this sense of certainty towards loving on people and meeting them where they are at, a passion for community.

After my first summer at Hinton, I came upon this job, the Appalachian Trail Chaplain, and fell in love with it – I mean I was hooked, it was always on my mind. It took this concept of walking alongside people that I was so passionate about and paired it with another one of my loves—backpacking. When I returned for my second summer I met some of the most incredible people (I did that all three years, but my second summer sticks out the most.) These people were intentional with me and wanted to what it was that drove me. The conversation about the Appalachian Trail and the chaplaincy came up many times, and these were friends who did nothing but encourage and empower me. When I was down, they would share backpacking books with me, when I doubted my abilities and question if I had what it took, they took me on a hike and encouraged me, there were friends who I wouldn’t trade for the world, my fellow staffers. Working at Hinton provides this wonderful community of likeminded people who just want to love people and love God—it’s beautiful.

Now I’ll jump forward a little bit, the Chaplaincy. As the Appalachian Trail Chaplain, I will walk the 2,190+ miles from Mt. Katahdin, Maine to Springer Mountain, Georgia commissioned as a chaplain, in which I will spend time with those on the trail in community with them, walking alongside them in whatever capacity that may look like. Many people hike the Appalachian Trail, and for many reasons too. Some hike during a time of transition, like after college, a job change, retirement; some hike after a loss, like divorce, death, job loss; some hike for healing or

clarity. The list could go on and on. The moral of the story is there are a lot of people out there, who come from a lot of different places of life, but they are all people who could use being loved on as people, not as the addict, or the widow, or the recent college grad who has no idea where to go next, just people. That is one of the things I love most about the community. You are surrounded by people who come from all walks of life, who all have different stories, but on the trail, they are on the same playing field.

One of the cool characteristics of the trail community is this idea of a trail name, a name you are given or go by on the trail, a new identity, like Dragonfly. Trail names are sometimes given to you by people influential to your journey (mine was given to me by a professor), some are given because of something that happened or a quality that other hikers notice about you on the trail, even still it can be a name you give yourself (less common) as someone you want to become. It’s wonderful and reminds me so much of the text in 2 Corinthians 5 and how we in Christ are a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come. The trail creates this new playing field, it wipes away the shame and stigma you may have faced before in your life, and you can take on a new self, you get to create who you are, and that is how you are known.

So whether you know me as Rachel or as Dragonfly, there is a common denominator, my identity as a beloved child of God. Over the years Hinton has instilled a heart for people and community, and understanding that people are people no matter where they have come from or what their past may have looked like and now I get to use that same calling as I walk (quite literally) into this new season of life, walking alongside individuals, loving on them and reminding them that whatever identity they create for themselves on the Appalachian Trail or whatever identity they walk in at home they are forever and always of worth and value and loved by God. Happy Trails!!

If you are a college-aged young adult (or know someone who is) and you want to learn more about Hinton Center’s summer staff opportunities, visit https://www.hintoncenter.org/about-us/employment-opportunities/. You never know where an experience in missions will lead you… “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”

[Every summer Hinton Center hires college-aged young adults who are passionate about living out their Christian faith, building relationships with others, mentoring youth, leading teams on home repair sites, and facilitating programming / activities with youth and adults. We equip and train our staff, and provide a lot of leadership development opportunities. Although summer staff live on campus (and get to eat yummy food!), they have separate lodging from youth/adult groups. The great news is our staff don’t need to be skilled in home repairs, but flexibility, positivity and motivation are musts!]

Kilbride: A graduate heads to Greece

01Nov

Jessie Kilbride (pictured left), makes coin purses with Threads of Hope ministry, a non-profit organization whose goal is to bring freedom in women’s lives.

Kilbride: A graduate heads to Greece

November 1, 2019

“’Oh, the Places You’ll Go’” by Dr. Seuss is running through my mind as I continue to read these wonderful journey stories from former summer staffers. This week’s comes from Jessie, and if you were here at Hinton Center during her time with us, you’ll remember her bright smile, encouraging words and cheery outlook on life. She’s continued serving God in many ways since her time here and we’re excited to share a bit of her story.” — Dawn Livingston

Greetings from the North (or your favorite Illinoian)! It’s a long story how I ended up at Hinton, but one God had His hand in. I suppose I should introduce myself; I am Jessie Kilbride. I worked on the summer staff team in 2017 and for two weeks in 2018. That summer is by far my favorite yet. The friendships built, memories made, community formed, and the love we all shared cannot be topped. God was MOVING that summer — and He continues to do so even now.

Back peddling a bit — I recently graduated from Olivet Nazarene University. My senior year was not what I imagined but one for the books. It’s amazing how God works when you earnestly pray for something and that year it was for community, vulnerability, and healing. Yet God brought about it all in a very odd way — through five concussions. Never having one in my life prior, then having five forced me to slow down and focus on caring for myself.

God challenged me in more ways than I could imagine but in the best of ways. It was a year of personal healing, many memories, and building even deeper relationships. I graduated from Olivet Nazarene University (located an hour south of Chicago) this past May, majoring in public relations and strategic communications with a marketing minor. I decided to work with One Collective, a non-profit organization that believes in bringing people together to serve the oppressed. My paths crossed with them at a job fair, the summer following Hinton, and I knew I wanted to work for them in some capacity. Naturally, I decided to see if they were seeking a communication intern. They were not. However, after a couple of conversations, they decided to take me on. My world was rocked!

That summer I interned with One Collective: editing different stories, learning about the many communities, building their Instagram page from scratch with another intern, and filming the ministry of one community in Joliet, Illinois. I knew I wanted to work for them in some capacity but wasn’t sure in what capacity. After many conversations and God knocking at my heart, I decided to serve in Koukaki, Greece (a community within Athens) for two years as a short-term-team coordinator.

My focus will be three-fold: first, I will be coordinating incoming teams and connecting them with a local church. Second, I will be serving in different programs such as working with the homeless community. Third, I will be using my marketing skills to promote home goods made from women who were caught in trafficking or worked as a prostitute.

What breaks my heart are the hearts who don’t know Jesus. The ones who don’t know their worth; that they are loved and matter. I have never been one to sit back and watch as the world goes by, especially when we can so easily help others. Using the skills that God equipped me with, I want to capture their story and move people to care and want to make a difference too. And I firmly believe that together we can make an impact: one community, one life at a time.

Throughout my senior year, I had an idea of what I wanted to do and the direction I wanted my life to head in, but God had an idea. One slightly more challenging and way more rewarding. A chance to reach people I could never have imagined and inviting others to join me on this journey.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” – Isaiah 41:10

Jessie’s comment about those who don’t know their worth; that they are loved and matter reminds me so much of our theme for 2020 – “Treasured.” Friends, there are so many people we encounter every single day who don’t believe that they have worth and that they matter. Just as Jessie is using her gifts to make a difference, we each can use ours too. If you want more information about Jessie’s journey, feel free to email her at kilbrij@onecollective.org.

If you are a college-aged young adult (or know someone who is) and you want to learn more about Hinton Center’s summer staff opportunities, please contact Dawn at dawn@hintoncenter.org. You never know where an experience in missions will lead you… “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”

[Every summer Hinton Center hires college-aged young adults who are passionate about living out their Christian faith, building relationships with others, mentoring youth, leading teams on home repair sites, and facilitating programming / activities with youth and adults. We equip and train our staff, and provide a lot of leadership development opportunities. Although summer staff live on campus (and get to eat yummy food!), they have separate lodging from youth/adult groups. The great news is our staff don’t need to be skilled in home repairs, but flexibility, positivity and motivation are musts!]

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