I'm not going to make any new year promises this year...I'm just going to seek to live a balanced life.
At one point in my life I was way over balanced in a spiritual way.
I rose early and prayed.
I then went to work as a janitor on a Bible college campus.
I prayed during lunch.
I left work and went home which was an outreach house.
I stayed up late talking and praying with people who came to the house
I also, did street ministry on weekends
I also took 3, 3 hour bible classes during the week
On top of going to church, I was attempting to figure out what a Christian life was supposed to look like etc.
Combined with a life time of insecurity with relationships=streeeeessssssss
By 6 months of this routine...I was crispy, my thinking was becoming stressed and my emotions were all over the place. I thought I was going to loose it in a big way. (For those of you who haven't been in this place... it's scary...the choice to maintain rationality is difficult to say the least.)
Then I talked to Sandy, an ex priest, he asked a few questions.
When do you exercise? I didn't
When do you have time for your self? I didn't
Tell me what you do? I repeated my schedule. Sandy, looked at me with deep concern and gave a prescription for my life.
You are not all spirit...you have a soul... and you have a body...attempt to take care of all in balance.
When you pray, pray with all of your heart.
When you work, work with all of your strength.
When you do Steve stuff it's ok to relax not always think about spiritual issues. Find out where you recharge, physically, mentally, emotionally. Take walks on the beach, read, sleep and rest.
You need to begin to exercise. So, I took the prescription and came back into balance.
I learned to pray consistently, and became a worship guy with guitar (which still is my connection spiritually. Audience of One.)
I began to run and ran in a few races in FL. discovering exercise was a great stress reliever, emotional restorer. Now I've been exercising since that time pretty consistently. It's my way of turning off. I just weighed in at 170ish pounds, kinda flat stomach for 56 year old guy. I enjoy the cardio, the sauna, and the toning weight training circuit while listing to pod casts or music. I don't usually eat junk food.
So this year I'm going to seek some adventure, hopefully be more creative, have more opportunities to speak, continue to exercise, rest and I'll wait upon the Lord to renew my strength.
What a season! The Vineyard people and staff really stepped up this year. Hundreds of Vineyard people joyfully served beyond and above the call, making time, energy, and financial sacrifices. They are a pretty good outward focused church.
Because they stepped up We were able to:
- Throw a party for 1400 people (families and over 800 children) who are the less served of Dayton.
- Enlist 575 joyful, caring, giving servers to serve the people at the party.
- Office prep, excel, photo copy, call families multiple times, think, plan, prepare logistics beginning in August continuing until Jan to gather stats, info, stories, photos, film etc. Huge thanks to Donna and Nicole
- Wrap, sort, order, arrange, transport over 1200 presents for the party. Kerri B and team were amazing.
- Blow up thousands of balloons, create wonderful table decorations, and atmosphere enhancers. Bonnie and team worked tirelessly.
- Give over 400 bags of groceries to the party goers...thanks to the frozen grocery bag givers. Shawn and co were the frozen chosen
- Painted hundreds of faces, hands, and other body parts.
- Helped kids make hundreds of very creative, fun crafts for their parents
- Gave hundreds of bars of raspberry holiday soap to every parent.
- Ensure every child attending received a wrapped present
- Raised enough cash to cover all the expenses thanks to generous people and large person gifts and a special gift from James Advantage Fund.
- Help support St. Vincents with food from the party.
- Wrapped up presents for hundreds of people, 150 people wrapping during the season...'that's a lot of wappers', to quote elmer fudd.
- Served hundreds of people served at the food pantry, cooks cooking a hot breakfast, servers serving and washing over 300 plates, 900 forks knives and spoons, not to mention bacon pans, grill, cups, bowls, etc. and our team giving over 200 Christmas bags of groceries to grateful people.
- Cared for the homeless by going out into the streets of Dayton with blankets and food
- Served area families offering prayer, presents and food from Beavercreek Vineyard. Monday we gave 300 presents to care for 150 children in 37 families.
Serving others Creates God space where God things can happen.
We've had a great time at a Wrap It Up! Slow at times but steady. This weekend will be a busy one. Most people wait until the last minute to purchase presents and have them wrapped. Our 12-2 shift has worked well reaching the lunch time workers who have been grateful for our service.
Yesterday a couple of college students came in. One asked. 'What is that huge thing you do in October at your place? So I explained the event was FunFest creating a safe place for families on Halloween.
We then began to talk about their need for a place to serve for their community service requirements for college. So I explained all we do and how they could be involved. One girl said, 'I haven't been to church in a long time.' We talked about what she'd experience if she attended. I finished wrapping their presents, and she shook my hand and said. 'I'm very glad to have met you. We'll see you this weekend.'
Another man walked by and stated, The Vineyard. He then stopped and asked about who we were, what we were doing, where we were located, and service times.
Other usual comments, What's the catch? Why? This is cool. Nice! You've made my day. Thanks for the de-stress.
We always explain, 'We're showing you God's love in a practical way.' Servant evangelism, creates God space where God things can happen.
This year we have a great spot in Fairfield Commons Mall located near Penny lower level just by entrance A.
The space has an open high end feel with a lot of windows. The wrappers are surprised when they arrive. Last year we were in a small tight no windowed space not made for people.
We just began yesterday and have had some great conversations and prayer time with people bringing their presents in to be wrapped.
One guy opened up about his 82 year old dad who just had a stroke. He was taking a break from 6 days at the hospital to shop. Having no extra time he was more than pleased to have his presents wrapped and to talk to a caring person.
One lady, who works for a hospital, brought her presents. She commented on how much our wrapping de-stressed her holiday season.
Others made comments like, 'O you guys are that church who cares for our community.' 'I know about you guys.' 'I visited your place and liked it a lot.'
Times we wrap. 12 days of Christmas.
12 to 9 on weekends
12 to 2 then 6 to 9ish on weekdays.
We've found this is just about the right schedule.
pressures without, pressures within...
Paul understood life... life is not a stress free walk in the park.
One person stated, 'people are either heading toward crisis or heading out of crisis.' I believe it.
Attempting to do great things adds to the stress.
Example, this is our busy time of year. We wrap presents for 12 days at the mall, help others who have no food, help with rent, and who are broken. We host a party for 1400 of the less served of Dayton enlisting hundreds of volunteers.
Any idea how much planning and work go into pulling off something this big? More than most people know.
Add general stress of work, and work relationships, fulfilling spiritual expectations, adhering to job descriptions, long hours. Then add family, financial burdens of relatives, missteps of friends, kids acting out and general life = S T R E S S.
How do we handle all the above? Sometimes I handle life well, other times not so well.
1. Dreams...I dream a lot. Often a dream reflects what I and others are going through. It's like a pictorial dumping ground. Like a few days ago we found out we needed to add all day Friday's to our already heavy schedule at the mall.
In a dream I heard... take advantage of every opportunity. So when I woke up I wasn't anxious about where all the wrapping people were going to come from. I was more focused on ... taking advantage of every opportunity.
A situation at work was extremely stressful... Last night I dreamed about Grace...I even was asked to pray at a large meeting. So in my dream I prayed all about God's goodness, and grace extended toward our staff, toward the people of the Vineyard, and toward the people of our city. Many people in the crowd applauded.
So I'm leaning into grace today.
2. My relationship with Jesus... How people make it without him is mind boggling.
3. My relationship with my wife. She is secure, stable, and smart.
4. My value of God's word. Recently, during a time of my mom in laws surgery, she's 84... we actively practiced... let the peace of God guard our hearts and minds in / through Christ Jesus...the passage is in Philippians.
5. I've learned to pick my battles. Is this irritation really that serious? Does it really matter in the current view of things? Will it really affect what we are accomplishing today? So what if it's not done my way. Hey, I'm glad it's getting done. Don't sweat the small stuff...everything is small stuff. Like printing 300 letters having 4 people proof read and yesterday a staff person shows me the date at the top of the letter. 2006...so with crafty pen in hand...
6. Stuff breaks...Cars, computers, ipods, steros, houses, etc. No it's not the enemy...just life.
Time keeps on movin...
We are gearing up for the Dreams party downtown at Sinclair College for 1400 people mainly kids. We were booked solid the within two weeks mainly with new people.
Every child who attends receives a great meal, face painting, a present and able to make a gift for their parents or guardian.
There will be clowns, Santa balloon house, face painting and a free bag of groceries. Each year we have a huge contingent of great servers who serve at each of the 4 seating's. It cost over 30k to pull off.
We have most of the funding. However if you'd like to help make Christmas Dreams Come True, send checks made to The Dayton Vineyard. or go online at www.daytonvineyard.com and give electronically...just tag Christmas Dreams.
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