Monday, October 6, 2014

Pine Ridge, South Dakota Mission Trip

I have wanted to write this post for a while, but it has been too painful.  Shortly after we returned from our Pine Ridge mission trip, my dear friend and mentor, Father Robert McGee ("Father Bob") died.  Father Bob loved Native American stories and traditions, and I spent the mission trip texting him about our adventures and promising to share pictures and stories when I returned. Because he fell ill so quickly, I was never able to share the stories of our time in Pine Ridge.  This has saddened me, and it has been painful to reflect on the trip without thinking about how much he would have loved the ministry that we participated in.

The Pine Ridge mission trip was nothing short of amazing.  A group of 35 of us flew out of Charlotte and arrived in Omaha Nebraska.

We then rented 9 cars and made the 7-8 hour drive to Pine Ridge, SD.  Along the way, two cars had tire problems.  God blessed us because the flat tire and low tire pressure happened at a service station. For those of you that are familiar with the long stretches of nothing (except corn fields and pastures), you realize what a blessing this was.

We arrived in Pine Ridge late at night during a pow wow. We were met with heavy traffic, people riding horses down the street, and what looked like a huge carnival around us.

We had a huge number of first time mission trip participants!

 This trip was great for all ages - we had children (ages 10 and 11).  Because this was a family trip, Mike, Jacob, and Mary Etta were able to participate as three generations on this trip.

This trip exemplified Project:Re3's values - we renovated homes, rebuilt trust, & restored hope.
The primary purpose of this trip was to renovate homes. Many of the homes were in extreme disrepair.  We were tasked with painting the homes and making small repairs.  It was amazing to see the difference that a few repairs and a coat of paint could make.  One of the hardest parts was only having the time and supplies to paint and make small repairs.  Many of the homes desperately need a new roof, some need new siding, and some homes flood due to holes in the siding.

We also rebuilt trust.  The house that we worked on belonged to Cornell and Clover.  Cornell shared stories with us about his family.  One day, Cornell told me that his father went to a "Christian" school.  The school punished his father and washed his mouth out with soap if he spoke Lakota.  Cornell said, "and these were Christians that did this too him."  It is no wonder that when we first arrived, many of the people were slow to open up to us.  However, by the end of the week, the residents of each home were eating lunch with us, participating in our devotions, and sharing parts of their culture and history with us.
We visited the memorial for the Massacre of Wounded Knee.  This helped our group better understand our complicated history.

By midweek, Cornell and Clover were visiting with us each day.  

Finally, we restored hope.  One of the homes that our group worked on had a lot of trash around the house.  After the group spent a few days painting, the family was so excited that they stayed up until 2 am cleaning up their yard.  They told our group that they wanted the yard and outside of the home to look as nice as the house would look after it was painted.  It was moving to know that a week of work and some simple repairs on a home could restore pride and hope.

There are too many stories of the wonderful people to share.  I encourage you to talk to people that went on the trip and hear their stories.  I will try to share a few stories of people that touched me.  In the home pictured below, 15-19 people live in this small space.  The house has not had running water for a year.  The only form of transportation for this family was a horse.  The children adored our group, and the family, despite having no water and little food, wanted to thank us by making skillet bread for everyone.

The family prepared skillet bread for everyone.

Cornell and Clover had no food.  When we arrived at their home, one of the doors had a large board over it.  Cornell and Clover were robbed, and all that was taken was food.  Food is very expensive, so our group drove over an hour one way to the nearest Walmart (which is not on the reservation).  We purchased food for Clover and Cornell.  Shortly after we gave them the food, we saw people coming in and walking out with food.  Although Cornell and Clover had no food, they shared the food that we gave them with their family and neighbors.  

We filled the trunk with food.

We also had the pleasure of meeting Granny.  Granny has lost one leg due to diabetes, and is the community grandmother.  She is very talented at quilting.  Granny supports herself and her family by making quilts and selling them.  

If you are interested in helping, Project:Re3 is committed to long term assistance for the Community of Allen in Pine Ridge, South Dakota.  Some immediate ways that you can help:
1.  Fuel is very expensive.  Many people take advantage of the people on the reservation by raising prices to the point that fuel is not an option to heat their homes.  The land is open grassland, so there is no wood to burn.  The temperatures are extreme - 90 degrees in the summer and 30 below zero in the winter.  Snow may be 12 feet high in the winter.  Many people told us that they had to sit in their car with their small children to stay warm.  Some families had to burn old cloths and shoes to heat their home.  Project:Re3 has an arrangement with an oil company that we trust.  We have paid to have fuel delivered to families.  If you are interested in doing this, you can send a check to Project:Re3, with "Pine Ridge - Fuel" in the memo line.
2.  Project:Re3 will be returning to Allen, which is the small town on the Pine Ridge reservation where we worked.  We hope to do more than one week of trips this summer.  We hope to do more difficult projects, such as roof repairs.  You can join us on a trip or help with the supplies and support the trip financially.
3.  Granny needs people to purchase her beautiful quilts and she needs fabric.  From time to time, we are sending donations of fabric.  My friend's group, Women Embark, took up fabric collections to send to Granny.  Granny also takes orders and will do custom quilts, so if you are interested, let us know.
4.  Due to the harsh winters, the people need coats and blankets.  We will be collecting gently used or new coats and blankets.  However, shipping is very expensive.  We are requesting that people enclose a small donation with the donated coats and blankets to help cover shipping costs.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Stop Hunger Now Event at River Landing

This weekend, River Landing at Sandy Ridge (this is where Project:Re3 currently meets), sponsored a Stop Hunger Now event.  On Saturday, over 200 volunteers came together.  The volunteers were from River Landing, from Project:Re3 and the community.  The volunteers packaged 100,000 meals!

This event was fun for all ages, and the community spirit and spirit of service was contagious. Children as young as 4 were helping, and residents that live at River Landing packaged meals.

 Stop Hunger Now meal packaging events are a volunteer-based program that coordinates the streamlined packaging of highly nutritious dehydrated meals comprised of rice, soy, vegetables, flavoring, and 21 essential vitamins and minerals.  Founded in 1998, Stop Hunger Now has delivered aid and disaster relief supplies in the form of food, medical supplies, clothing, school supplies, and more to thousands of disaster victims and other hungry and vulnerable people in 65 countries.
Each meal costs $.25 to make.  Tax-deductible donations can be made through Stop Hunger Now’s website by clicking here

All ages volunteered.  


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Short Term Mission Trips for 2015 Announced! Let us know if you are interested!

ProjectRe3 is thrilled to announce our upcoming mission trips for 2015.  All are invited to travel with us.  Each trip will be capped at 15 people.  

1) Guatemala
March 7-14
More info coming soon!
Approx. Cost: $800

2) Mexico City
May 23rd-29th 
Approx. Cost: $800
Does traveling to a foreign country, working with orphans and abandoned women, and serving in the most dangerous neighborhood in the largest city in the world either excite you or scare you to death? If you said yes to either of those then this trip is for you!

3) Charleston, SC
July 5th-9th
Preteen (10-12)
Cost: $250
Our preteens will join a community that is the proud home to numerous churches and organizations that are intertwined with city life and share a passion for making a difference in people’s lives. You’ll be inspired as you hear the stories and meet the people who serve in these amazing organizations that are helping orphans, assisting teen moms, providing resources to under-served families, or using basketball to reach at-risk kids.

4) Southern Pines, NC 
July 19th-25th
Youth Work Camp (Middle & High School)
Cost: $450
You can make a real difference in Pinehurst this summer. Bring new hope to an elderly woman whose husband passed away years ago. Break through the hopelessness of a single mother with five children and a home she cannot maintain. Bring a smile to the faces of a family whose father has been struggling to find work in the hospitality industry, just to make minimum wage and survive.

5) Pine Ridge, SD
July or August TBD 
Approx. Cost: $750
Allen, SD has been called “the poorest city in the United States”. Located in the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation just south of the Badlands, Allen is a town time forgot. Join us as we help bring hope to a community in desperate need.

6) Uganda
September 10th-21st
More info coming soon!
Approx. Cost: $3000

Monday, July 14, 2014

Short Term Missions - Thoughts on How to Help, Not Hurt

Recently, I have read a number of articles, books, and blogs questioning the importance of short term missions.  Some of the criticisms of short term missions are that short term mission teams often know little to nothing about the countries and people they visit, the teams often spend a lot of money that could be better used for other purposes, and in some instances, short term mission teams discourage and even hurt the communities they hoped to serve.  Often times, short term mission teams are accused of visiting a city or country once, and never helping the area again (this failure to support may be by failing to serve again, failure to provide financial support, etc.)  Finally, many short term mission teams are accused of getting more from the trip themselves than they actually give.

I believe that there can be a strong argument made for short term mission trips if the trips are planned appropriately and if the trip has the right focus.  While I am not an expert on short term missions, my husband and I have traveled on a number of mission trips both nationally and internationally.  Through our experiences, I have some suggestions on how short term mission trips can be life changing for the short term mission team, as well as the people the team serves.

1.  Do your research.  It is insulting for a mission team to go to another culture or even another area of their own country, without some knowledge of the people they will meet.  Before I travel to a region, I read about the area - I read about problems and issues facing the area, about the culture and the people, and about the needs.  If I have friends or contacts that have lived in the area or currently live in the area, I ask questions about appropriate behavior, cultural sensitivities, and what they view as the greatest needs in the area.

2.  Be a good steward of your resources.  There are horror stories of Christians that have poured money into ministries that are not true ministries, but are established instead to make money off of the generosity of others.  As a working mother, I have limited resources - I have limited time and money.  If I am going to invest my time and money (which is really God's precious time and money), I want to make sure that I am making the best investment of my time and money that I possibly can - I want to maximize my investment.  One of the best ways to do this is through a short term trip.  During my short term mission trips to Mexico City, I have met independent missionaries that are working with women and children that are victims of human trafficking. Through multiple trips to the area, I have seen  first hand the work that the missionaries do, and through the relationships I have built, I know their heart.  I have also worked at an orphanage, and through staying at the orphanage, I have observed the children being loved and cared for.  These first hand accounts have allowed me to give freely to these ministries with the knowledge that the missionaries that I support share my heart and they are using the money that I donate to help women and children in need.  I realize you may  not be able to visit each location yourself, but there are other ways to research non-profits and ministries.  You can learn a great deal through google searches, and the larger social networks afforded by social media allows you to find others that may have served in an area or have a mutual connection or contact at a potential ministry.  Additionally, this blog will have ministry spotlights (you can click the ministry spotlight tag) of organizations, missionaries and groups that we believe have a heart for Christ and a deep desire to love and help the needy.

3.  Go back.  Although my husband and I have been on a number of mission trips, many of the mission trips return to the same places.  I will never forget returning to the orphanage in Mexico City and hearing the shock in the leader's voice when she explained that our group was the ONLY group that ever came back.  She stated that a number of mission groups may pass through, but NO ONE ever came back.  We now travel to the orphanage at least once a year.  While the people that make up our short term mission teams may change, we have built a mutual trust with the children of the orphanage.  While the kids still cry when we leave, they always excitedly ask when we will come back.  By returning to the same location to do our ministry, we have established a mutual trust with the children and the leaders of the orphanage that has opened doors that we could never imagine.  In addition to physically going back, we also financially support the orphanage.  When the orphanage has specific needs, we are the first people they ask to help.  A number of us at ProjectRe3 are also able to write to children in the orphanage and support them, even when we are not physically there.

4.  Rely on the full time missionary/ the contact that you have at the location.  When I first visited San Salvador, the missionary Jon, picked us up from the airport.  During the entire drive to our home for the week, I asked Jon about the country, about the people we would serve, about how we could help without hurting.  We relied on Jon to tell us how to stay safe, how not to offend the people that live there.  Our group followed Jon's lead, because the worst thing we could do would be to harm his ministry there by our ignorance.  When you go on a short term trip, you must understand that your host is the "expert" on the country.  They will know the true needs, they can guide you so that you are not scammed but truly help those that need help, and they can ensure that you have a rich experience.  In a few weeks, we will also travel to the reservation in South Dakota.  Our team is currently, and will continue to, rely heavily on a contact that lives on the reservation, knows the families, and knows the needs of the people that we will serve.

5.  Experience the culture.  While working is important, it is also important to get to know the people that you meet and to attempt to understand the poverty that you see (Jesus modeled this by spending time on relationships and talking to the people that he healed and helped).  When I traveled to Mexico City and San Salvador, I was overwhelmed by the hopelessness. I immediately asked about the underlying problems that led to the homelessness, drug use, and gang activity.  Though asking questions, I gained insight into the history of the country.  I also learned how some American policy has impacted the countries, and how decisions that are made in the US may impact the lives of the people that I met.  I asked questions while I was there, and I have continued to follow news of the countries through the relationships that I formed.  I also got to know the people.  I remember admiring a flower in a squatters village where we served.  One of the ladies was delighted that I loved her flower, and immediately dug up a flower to give to me.

6.  Relationships.  The one lesson that I have learned through our short term trips is that in the end, relationships matter more than we can imagine.  Many short term mission teams want to arrive in a region and "fix" the problems and evangelize to the lost.  While this may sometimes happen, true transformation happens through relationships. Although I have not been able to keep up with every person that I have met on a trip, by maintaining strong connections and relationships with contacts in the areas that I have served, I am able to check in on some of the orphans that I love.  I am able to find out that a child is off of the street and receiving job training or that I need to pray more for another child who is in danger.  I am able to follow the projects that we started by continuing to support and keep in contact with the missionaries there.  And, in the instances when I have the privilege of returning to a location more than once, I am able to get to know the children over time and watch them grow.

7.  Support the local economy and empower people as much as possible.  When we travel, we try to buy supplies and support the local economy as much as possible.  More importantly, by establishing relationships, we are often able to partner in ministries that empower the locals to provide for their families.  For example, one ministry we have worked a great deal with in Mexico is a ministry that is set up to help women who were trapped in human trafficking work and develop skills in a beauty salon.  Our group helped remodel and do the construction on the salon so that the missionary that works there can bring in ladies and teach them to cut hair and paint nails.  This ministry not only ministers to the ladies that go to the salon for services, but it empowers the women that are working there to develop a skill that will allow them to support themselves.  People need to feel that they have a purpose and that they have hope.  By finding ways to help people feel useful, this ministry provides hope and provides for the individuals after our mission team has gone home.

Another great example of this is through our contacts in El Salvador.  Jon & Danielle have started the Lighthouse ministry. Not only do they meet physical needs of the homeless (providing showers and clothing), but they also provide literacy training and microenterprise training through a bakery.  I encourage you to read about them here.  They are a great example of creating sustainable projects that pour back into the community they serve.

8.  Be inspired to serve at home.  After a mission trip to inner city Atlanta, one of our youth group members came home inspired.  The group spent time making meals for the homeless and distributing them. Instead of returning home and simply discussing what she learned, this young lady thought, why don't we feed the homeless here?  She developed Feed the Hungry.  Our youth group gathered funds, and made meals every other week.  They then hopped in a van, and found homeless individuals.  They gave the meals to the homeless, and eventually began to collect other necessities like toothpaste, cloths, and coats.  As they ministered in the same areas, they learned the stories of the people they served.  They built relationships (see number 6 above).

9.  Love.  In the end, how can you do harm when you are loving a child?  The pictures below are of two very special kids in Mexico that we have had the honor of loving and watching grow.  We love them and hug
them during the weeks that we visit.  My prayer is that the relationships we have started will continue for a lifetime.  When we come home I talk about them, and I talk about the issues that impact these children.  I am changed for knowing them.  I want to help other orphans, at home and around the world.  I want to love my children more - because I realize how precious children are.  I care about what happens in Mexico because it impacts people that I love.

I didn't even touch on the impact these short term mission trips have had on the individuals that serve on our short term trips.  Although some people are not changed, we have had 3 individuals decide to dedicate at least a year to full time mission service.  We have had a number of people find inspiration to start local ministries.  A large number of people find that they left their heart in one of the countries and return there again and again.  Project:Re3 supports a number of the missionaries and orphanages through prayer, financial support, and in any other way that is needed.  The short term mission trips that I have experienced have been life changing for me, and I hope for the people that I have served.

Friday, July 11, 2014

ReFuel - A prescription for sadness

As many of you know, I work in a large, academic medical center.  Like many jobs, my job has challenges and stress.  In addition to “normal” work stress, I routinely encounter patients that are suffering. I often step onto the elevator with a small child that has cancer, or encounter an adult patient in the hall that is enduring physical and mental anguish. I see family members and friends that feel powerless to help their loved ones.  I work with health care providers that are burned out by the suffering that they see daily.  

I know that I do not have the power to "fix" these situations, but the sadness and heartache still weigh on me.  Over the past 9 years working in this environment, I have found one thing that helps lighten the burden on my most difficult days.  While this remedy is not a cure all, it is one of the best prescriptions for hopelessness and sadness.  The solutions is LAUGHTER.  

I know it sounds silly, but laughter has rescued me from sadness.  Laughter has relieved stress and calmed my anger.  Laughter with friends that I love has healed brokenness within me. 

I have a group of coworkers and friends that I routinely chat with and eat lunch with.  While many of our discussions revolve around work issues, our talks also dissolve into silly stories, jokes and laughter.  I can't tell you how many times we have ended up discussing crazy topics such as:  my visit to the International Cryptozoology Museum (you can learn so much about Bigfoot and Nessie), what is housed in Area 51, and we have all enjoyed the thought that the CIA may be spying on our conversations through our cell phone.  These discussions have no purpose – they do not solve difficult social issues, and they do not debate the political hot topics of the day.  But each time I leave a lunch date or a chat with a friend, I feel lighter and have a little more energy to face the next crisis that comes my way.

Laughter as medicine is not a new idea.  The Mayo Clinic has an article on the importance of laughter for stress relief.  There is scientific research, which you can read about with a simple google search.  

Proverbs14:13 says "Even in laughter the heart may ache, and the end of joy may be grief."  I think this sums up my experience with laughter.  The ache and the sadness may remain, but the laughter lightens my burdens for a short time.  I encourage you to find someone to share a laugh with today.  

Pine Ridge - Sneak Peak

As you can read here, our mission trip to Pine Ridge, South Dakota is coming up in a few weeks.  A few men from the church visited Pine Ridge and visited with the residents that we will be helping.  Check out this awesome video to meet people that we will have the privilege of serving!

One of the residents, Granny, makes beautiful quilts.  I have two ideas to help Granny.  First, if you have fabric that you would like to donate, I will collect the fabric and take it to Granny to use in her quilts. Second, when we arrive, I plan to take pictures of any quilts Granny may have and post them here and on facebook with the purchase price.  If you are interested in buying a quilt, I can purchase it for you while I am there.  This is Granny's only source of income and would be a great way to help!

Please continue to pray for our group as the trip approaches.  Pray that God will prepare our bodies for the manual work and heat, that God will prepare our minds for the long travel and for being outside of our comfort zone, and pray that God will prepare our hearts to be open and loving to each person we meet.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Pine Ridge Reservation Mission Trip

As we prepare our hearts, our finances, and our minds for our mission trip to Pine Ridge, South Dakota, I asked Shira Hedgepeth, who introduced us to Pine Ridge, to share a few thoughts.  When asked about Pine Ridge, Shira wrote:

There are events in your life that you will remember as life changing.  Often these events are weddings, graduations, births, or celebrations.  However, visiting Pine Ridge, SD and meeting the people was one event that I will always remember.
My husband’s grandfather was from Pine Ridge.  As we learned more about him we wanted our children to learn and understand the culture our family had lost with his passing.  Thus, we went on a mission trip to work on the reservation.    We blindly believed that we would go and help the people.  However, what we learned was that the help needed was far beyond our single visit and that even though the people of the reservation faced challenges, I could not even imagine, they impacted my family’s life more than we could impact theirs.
Upon entering South Dakota, I told my children that they may be looked at differently because they had dark hair and skin, so be prepared.  I never imagined the power of my words.  While on the reservation, our family was accepted and treated as residents.  One day my son and I were walking down the highway and several cars stopped to give us a ride.  Even though the residents had little to give, it was offered and we were treated as family.    Things that I believed were true problems in my life seemed trite.   When we left the reservation the world turned.  We went to a dinner and a movie and realized a fraction of the challenges the people of the reservation faced.  No one wanted to wait on us in the restaurant and when we went to the movie they would not wait on my husband until everyone in line had been served.  It was difficult to understand.
As we returned home, the world looked different and every member of my family longed for the next trip.    Pine Ridge is a place that many do not believe exists in the United States.  It is like going to a third world country where hunger and severe living conditions are common place.  However, the spirit of the people cannot be forgotten. 
Shira also shared some pictures.  When the group from Project:Re3 travels to Pine Ridge, we will be working on homes like the ones below.  Sadly, these homes are typical of the homes there.  Imagine spending 11 degree nights in these homes.   

Despite the soaring unemployment rate, the poor healthcare that is provided, and the lack of accessibility to many conveniences, the people are beautiful.  When I see the faces of the children and the beautiful people, I know that they deserve so much more.

If you want to help, there are many ways to assist.  As you know, we are hosting a golf tournament to raise money for our mission trip to the Pine Ridge Reservation.  If you are interested in helping, you can read about the tournament here.  We are in desperate need of door prizes and items to fill goody bags.  You can also be a hole sponsor or play in the tournament.  Another way to help would be to consider sponsoring one of the 37 people that will be traveling to Pine Ridge to work this summer.  
Feel free to message me if you have questions.  Please be in prayer for our group as we prepare to travel and do the home repairs that are needed.  Pray that we will be a blessing to each person that we meet and that through us, the people of Pine Ridge will experience the amazing love of Christ.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Reflection - Your Words

This weekend, Mike officiated the wedding of one of my dear college friends.  During the ceremony, the couple pledged their love to one another.  The bride and groom swore to love one another in sickness and in health, in happiness and sadness, through good times and bad times.  The groom became emotional when he promised to love his bride, the woman that made him a better man.  

During the ceremony, I was emotional.  I was happy for my friend, and I reflected on how blessed I am to have a life partner that has been with me through incredibly difficult times as well as happy times.  I felt my heart swell with love and pride for my husband.  But I didn't tell him this.  Like so many other times, the moment passed, and I began to chat with friends and participate in wedding festivities.

I made the mistake of assuming that my husband somehow knew, through ESP or osmosis, how I felt about him.  Maybe I also thought that if I have been with him for sixteen years, he must know that I love him.  I assumed that if I "think it", others must know it.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  

Proverbs 18: 20-21 says:
Words satisfy the mind as much as fruit does the stomach;
    good talk is as gratifying as a good harvest. 
Words kill, words give life;
    they’re either poison or fruit—you choose.

Our words have the power to give life or to destroy like poison.  Our words can satisfy the mind and gratify the heart.  We can speak words of love and life - reminding the people that we encounter that they are God's masterpiece, that they are loved; or we can poison their souls with destructive words of hate.  

Think of how different our relationships could be if we simply took the time to speak our love and gratitude.  I know the difference words have made in my life.  I don't remember every word my parents spoke to me, but I remember being told EVERY DAY, "I love you".  I remember being told often that I could do anything I wanted to do if I worked hard and had faith in God. My parents said these words so often that I am surprised I didn't try to build a rocket ship to the moon - no task has ever seemed beyond the realm of possibility.  All of this is because of the words that were quietly and consistently spoken to me - I love you; you are special; God loves you; you are intelligent; you are strong.  

My challenge to you today is to speak aloud the kind words that you think.  Tell your spouse that you would marry them again tomorrow, tell your kids that they are miraculous gifts from God, tell your coworkers that you see their hard work and you value their contribution - let the people in your life know how much you care.

Our words are free - they cost nothing - but they mean more than all the money in the world to the people that need to hear them.  Be careful not to sit quietly with words of affirmation - do not try to preserve such words for your wedding day or other days of significance - instead, use each day as an opportunity to give life freely and often.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Project:Re3 Golf Tournament

Project:Re3 Golf Tournament

If you have read this post, you know that a group of 37 people from Project:Re3 will be traveling to the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota to repair homes and build relationships with the people there.  One way you can help is by playing in our golf tournament or by being a hole sponsor.  The information is below.  Feel free to contact us for more information!

WHEN:          Saturday, June 28th, 2014; Shotgun Start @ 1:00pm
                        Lunch will be served at 1:00pm with the shotgun start beginning at                                                 2pm.

WHERE:        River Landing Golf Course, Colfax, NC

DEADLINE:  Sunday, June 22nd (space is limited to the first 13 teams)

FORMAT:      Four-person captain’s choice ( Entrants build your own team )
                        There will be two 9-hole tournaments

PRIZES:        1st  & 2nd place teams per 9-holes. Each player on the winning teams will all receive great prize packages including golf packages, gift certificates to local restaurants, and more. Also, closest to the pin, longest drive will be awarded.

COST:           $50.00 per golfer ( $200.00 per team ) Includes green fee, cart fee,  entry fee, lunch, door prize, and a goodie bag.

You can also be a hole sponsor.  The cost is $50 for a half sign and $100 for a whole sign.  This is a great opportunity to advertise for a business or simply tell someone you love them. :)

Saturday, June 7, 2014

ReFuel - Pressure cooker

This week, I have been under a lot of pressure.  I have noticed the warning signs, but I was not able to stop the pressure from building, and eventually, exploding.  Unfortunately, I took my anger and frustration out on the people that I love the most - my kids.

This week was just hard.  I had a breast MRI which stressed me out, Mike was out of town (so I was working, getting all three kids to school, and keeping up with things around the house), work has been stressful (we are downsizing, and it is emotionally and mentally taxing to witness people lose their job), and there is even stress at church as we plan for the transition to our new building (while much of the church stress is "good" stress, it is still stress).  On top of a rough week, this morning two of the kids and I had a piano recital.  As I tried to get all three kids and myself ready, one of the kids was in a foul mood.  We started the morning bickering.  Then, as I tried to find an appropriate outfit for another of the kids, I found a huge pile of clean laundry hidden under blankets in the closet.  As I pulled the laundry out, I became angrier and angrier as I saw the wrinkles, and thought of the times that my child had promised that he/she had put their cloths away.  I blew a gasket (let's just say that this is not the FIRST time that I have found cloths stuffed under beds, inside toys, etc).  I yelled and had a temper tantrum.  Then I started to feel sorry for myself - you know how it goes - no one appreciates me, I work so hard and no one cares, I have failed as a mother, my kids don't love me or respect me, maybe I should just run away .......

When Mike finally got home, I was a mess.  I told him that I had cried more today than I had in the past year.  Mike told me to get out of the house and go to Salem Lake to ride my bike.

Now - before you think my husband is terrible, he was actually giving me the best gift that he could give me. Since I grew up in the country, I feel most at peace when I am in nature and connected to God.  I got on my bike, and as soon as I started to ride, I felt peace.  As I rode, I reflected on the need for each of us to take time to "refuel".  For me, Salem Lake is one of my happy places.

I encourage each of you to take a little time to center yourself and connect with God daily.  I will share some of the ways that I "refuel" in the posts on this blog.    

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Stop Hunger Now 5k

Thanks to everyone that helped at the Stop Hunger Now 5k and Fun Run!  Project:Re3 had a number of volunteers and five runners.  If you are still interested in this ministry, feel free to contact Project:Re3 for more information.

Project:Re3 Shirts!

Pine Ridge, South Dakota 2014: Allen, SD has been called “the poorest city in the United States”. Located in the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation just south of the Badlands, Allen is a town time forgot. Join us as we help bring hope to a community in desperate need. On August 2nd, a mission team of 37 people will spend a week in Allen doing small home repairs, weatherizing homes, and restore broken relationships. One way you can help is to purchase a Project:Re3 shirt.  You can learn more about this trip here.  

Go ahead - buy one - you know you want to!

Renovated Lives - Kathy Grant

Project:Re3 is a movement of people, unified in our belief that God's grace, Christ's love, and the Holy Spirit's guidance empowers us to rebuild a firm foundation from the rubble of the past, and through obedience, hard work, and prayer, we will restore, rebuild and renovate our hearts, our city, our nation and the world.  As a movement of people, one way to gain insight into Project:Re3 is to get to know the individuals that comprise Project:Re3.  Each week, our "Renovated Lives" post will allow someone from Project:Re3 to share how God has renovated their life. 

When I was considering who to feature in our Renovated Lives post, the first person that God laid on my heart was Kathy Grant. Anyone that knows Kathy would describe her as friendly, sensitive, sweet and caring.  Kathy has an amazing heart, and I hope you will enjoy getting to know her.

BG:  Where did you grow up and what do you do now? 
KG:  I spent my life in Summerfield, NC.  I attended Summerfield Elementary School, then Northwest Junior and Senior High School.  During my last two years of high school, I attended Kerwin Christian School in Walkertown/Kernersville.   In some ways, attending Kerwin was a great decision because it made me question everything I knew about Christianity.  However, it was also a bad decision because I felt judged all the time.  I graduated with a class of 8 others and I think being part of a small school helped me come out of my shell.  I graduated from High Point University with an English degree specializing in Communications.  

I worked at Channel 8 for 5 years doing everything from writing to producing and reporting.   I helped produce the community affairs morning show so I would get to meet celebrities like Minnie Pearl, Eddie Fisher and others at 5 AM.  I loved sitting on the assignment desk and listening to the police scanner and trying to scoop the other stations.  I now work for United Healthcare using Word or html to write policy documents.

BG:  Tell us about your family.  
KG:  I have been married to Bob for 30 years.   We met on September 9 and married on January 7.  We have one son, Jason, who is 29 and lives with us.  He is engaged and planning a 5/15/15 wedding.  My mom lived with us and passed away in 2012.   I still am getting over losing her.

BG:  What are your favorite books, television shows, movies, websites, blogs, etc?
KG:  There are three books that I keep going back and reading again and again - The ShackChoosing to See, and 1000 Gifts.  Ann Voskamp, who wrote 1000 Gifts, also has a great blog that always touches my heart. I also love to read Rob Bell, and I recently discovered Malcolm Gladwell.   I love books that make me think outside the box.   I am currently reading The Same Kind of Different as Me.   As far as television, How I Met Your Mother was my favorite show but I did not like the series finale.  I am excited about the return of Newsroom! That show makes me feel like I am back in the newsroom again.   I also love Under the Dome.
BG:  What music are you listening to?  
KG:  I love fun music.  I honestly like everything from Katy Perry to Justin Timberlake to Band Perry.  As far as Christian artists go, Steven Curtis Chapman and Third Day are at the top of my list.

BG:  Do you believe in big foot? 
KG:  NO!!

BG:  What ministries are you most passionate about at Project:Re3?  
KG:  I am passionate about the food pantry.   I really want to be able to put together a family ministry.   Strong families are important and I want to be able to offer help so families can learn and be able to stand on their own feet.   If they need help with searching for a job, managing their money, or keeping their home from being foreclosed, I want to help them. Helping these families may involve working with them at Project:Re3 or may require a referral to an agency that Project:Re3 has developed a relationship with.  The goal would be to make the families self-sufficient.   As far as international needs, my heart is in Guatemala.   I love the children and people of Guatemala.  From my visit to Guatemala, I know just $150 will buy a child a wheelchair.  This knowledge makes me consider every purchase I make.   I guess that also leads to one of my struggles - I am working on balance and understanding that I can’t save the world. 

BG:  How did you end up at Project:Re3?
KG:  About ten years ago, my son talked Bob & me into visiting a church that met in a movie theater in Kernersville (this was Mike & Beth's first church).  We went and loved it.  On our second or third visit, Mike mentioned in a sermon, "We are all God's Masterpiece."  I audibly gasped out loud.  This was the first time that anyone had told me that I was God's masterpiece. That sermon stayed with me.  I also think Mike is the best speaker I have ever heard in all my years in church.  I feel like the Holy Spirit uses Mike's sermons in a powerful way.  You may think you know everything about a verse, but Mike challenges you to look at it in a different way. He also has an awesome wife.
BG:  I will pay you later for saying that Kathy :)
KG:  Overall, I would have to say, I feel at home at Project:Re3, and I feel God is working in my life through the sermons.  I always say Project:Re3 is the only church in the area I would ever attend.

BG:  You have mentioned a number of times that you spent your entire life in church. What is your life story? 
KG:  I received a New Testament from the Gideons when I was in 3rd grade.   I came home, asked mom to pray with me, and accepted Christ in the corner of my bedroom.   In my early years, we attended a Methodist Church.  When I was 16, my dad decided the Methodist church was too liberal and we attended an independent Baptist Church.   We changed Churches again when I was about 18 (we went to another independent Baptist Church). So between these Churches and my Christian high school, I had lots of exposure to legalism.  Instead of feeling that I was drawn near to God, I felt pushed away from God even though I was a Christian.  I felt that the sermons and communication at church and school was that our motivation for salvation was to escape Hell - there was no emphasis on having a relationship with Jesus.  Being in those kinds of services made me question my salvation.  This doubt led me to pray the sinner’s prayer over and over.  It has taken years, and my mom's death, to help me experience grace and grow as a Christian.  I still have a long way to go, but I fell like I am on a good path.  

BG:  I know losing your mom has been very difficult for you.  Is that your biggest struggle right now?  
KG:  It’s hard to think about memories of mom and not be sad.   I also struggle with pondering theology - Armenian vs. Calvinism - I am struggling to simply claim Isaiah 55.  I have to remind myself that God’s ways are not our ways and we will never be able to comprehend many things in life.  

BG:  What is your favorite Bible verse or story and why?  
KG:  Jeremiah 29:11 and Isaiah 55: 8 – 9.  My favorite verse for years was Romans 8:28   I would say all of those verses bring comfort and make me feel safe and hopeful.
BG:  If you were 80 years old, what advice would you give your grand kids? 
KG:  Don’t worry about the small things.  Most things work out so don’t waste time worrying.  Be happy and live your life.  

BG:  In reflecting on your life, what life experiences have been difficult, but made you stronger?
KG:  I watched my dad struggle with dementia.  Those years were incredibly hard becuase he spent his last years remembering the difficult life he had as a child.  It was incredibly hard to watch him suffer.  Also, I struggled with my mom's death.  I have learned that you either move closer to God and try to work through it or you give up.  I have chosen to become stronger.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Small Things Big Difference - Renovated Thoughts

I recently had a friend comment that he wishes he could be as happy as me.  This made me reflect on the person I am now, as well as the person I used to be.

Most people that know me now would probably describe me as joyful, happy, bubbly, excitable.  People probably assume that I was born happy, or that I naturally have an optimistic and sunny disposition.  Little would these people know that I was once clinically depressed.  My depression plunged me into a deep pit of despair that left me feeling empty, hopeless, and utterly alone.  I tried to hide my depression, and I would often have to duck into a restroom to weep before putting on a fake smile to face the world.  My transition from depression to joy was not easy, and it was not rapid. Shedding my cloak of despair and choosing joy took years of therapy, prayer, hard work, and painful self discovery.  

When Mike spoke on Sunday, he discussed how our thoughts form our words and our words form our actions.  The focus of his sermon series has been on making small changes that often lead to a big difference. In our society, this is not welcome advice.  We tend to want to make one big sweeping change (or at the most, follow a five step plan), that immediately yields results.  We forget that our brain, like our muscles, must be exercised.  No weight lifter goes into the gym one day and expects to win a weight lifting competition the following day.  We know that to tone and condition our muscles, we have to do repetitive weight lifting consistently for a long period of time before we see the "big" results.  Why would we think our thoughts are different?  If we have "trained" our brains to think a certain way for years, why would we think that we can simply change the way we think over night?

During the course of my journey, I have learned some tips for capturing the negative thoughts and focusing on the positive.  Romans 12:2 gives us hope that we have the power to transform our minds, when it says, "be transformed by the renewing of your mind."  The path to spiritual transformation, which sets us apart,  begins with the renewing of our mind.

In considering how to renew our minds and transform our thoughts, I must make the disclaimer that this post is not meant to be a cure for severe clinical depression or mental illness.  For severe depression and mental illness, a physician's care, and a good therapist are necessary.  Sometimes medication is necessary.  I would never tell a diabetic to suck it up and get better without insulin, and I would give the same advice to someone struggling with mental illness - if a physician says you have a chemical imbalance requiring medication, you should follow your doctor's advice.  However, if you are struggling to gain control over some of your negative and destructive thoughts, these tips may be helpful.

1.  Recognize thoughts are just thoughts.  We cannot control every negative thought that pops into our head, but we can control how we react to those thoughts.  We can ruminate on negative thoughts and lies such as, "I am not good enough", "I am a failure", "I can't do anything right."  Or, we can take power from the scripture.  2 Corinthians 10:5 instructs us to "take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."  Negative thoughts can lose their power if we do not fear the thoughts and understand that thoughts do not define who we are and they do not control us.  We can be in control of our thoughts and our actions.

2.  Take negative thoughts captive.  How does one take negative thoughts captive?  There is no easy answer.  You have to try a number of techniques to see what works for you. One way to respond to negative thoughts is to choose not to focus on the negative thoughts by distracting yourself - read a book, listen to an uplifting song, or call a friend that makes you smile.  If you are struggling with worry, an effective technique can be to delay your worry.  Tell yourself that you will allow yourself to worry for for five minutes about an issue, but you have to worry on your lunch break.  Keep trying to delay your "worry time."  When you do make time to worry, set a timer and allow yourself to worry for a full five minutes.  Over time, this allows you to better cope with worry and to delay worrying for longer and longer periods of time.  One other approach that can be helpful is to try to analyze your thoughts as a third party observer.  Ask yourself, "Is this thought true?  Is this thought helpful?"      

3.  Replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts.  When we remove negative thoughts, we need to replace those thoughts with positive thoughts.  Find a scripture that encourages you, memorize it, and remind yourself of that scripture when you are having destructive thoughts.  Look to the Bible and study God's word for truth.

4.  Find a friend that can speak positive truth to you.  People often worry that they are the only person that has negative thoughts or fears.  This leads to shame and isolation.  Healing is often found when you find a trusted confidant that will listen to you and speak truth in your life.  Find someone who is positive and trustworthy.  Seek them out for encouragement when you need it.

5.  Get out of your head.  Many negative thoughts and worries occur because we are either worrying about the future or reliving the past.  Spend time daily focusing on the moment that you are in.

6.  Serve others.  You will not have to look far to find someone that is suffering or in pain.  Serving others helps take the focus off of your negative thoughts and redirects your energy to positive thoughts and actions. God has promised that if you "feed the hungry and help those in trouble, then your light will shine out from the darkness and the darkness around you will be as bright as the noon." (Isa. 58:9-10)

Our church is built on God's promise in Isaiah 58, that we can use the old rubble of past lives to build anew, that we will restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate our community.  God can use our thoughts to build us anew, and God can restore, rebuild and renovate our minds.  

If you have other suggestions for renovating our thoughts, feel free to share them in the comments.