In this past month, Lyn and I have been focusing our sermons on the gifts of the Holy Spirit in our lives and life of the church. We are now to the place in the study where we are reminded that there is an even better gift than all Paul has been teaching about previously—LOVE.
As part of our services we include something special for the children—they come up front and sit on the floor. Pastor Lyn usually does this but this Sunday I have something special to share with the children—the story of the Warm Fuzzies.
There was a village that had a practice of sharing warm fuzzies with each other. As a result, their village was a happy, joyous, community. All of the people in the village got along very well. There was kindness, love, compassion, and justice. Every person in the village owned a special bag, given to them by their parents at the age of 3. Inside this bag were hundreds of warm fuzzies. Warm fuzzies were soft, cuddly, cottony little puffs. When you gave someone a warm fuzzy, they felt warm and fuzzy inside. People in the village gave each other warm fuzzies anytime they wanted to let someone know they were loved. When someone received a warm fuzzy, they put it in their bag.
But then, like often in real life, a grouchy person, who looked at life negatively, came along and brought a bag of cold pricklies. This person spread the idea that if they continued to give out the warm fuzzies, they would soon run out. So, they should give out the cold pricklies instead.
How easy to give out the pricklies—as we move into a controlling, critical spirit. But, then the joy and warmth goes away. There is a song that goes with this-
Love is Something if You Give it Away
So, this Sunday, I am going to take the bags that someone lovingly made for me that will be filled with pom poms and give those to each child to have and share. But there will also be enough for the adults to have one—because it is just possible that we as adults are the ones who have forgotten about sharing warm fuzzies.
This story/song is important in all areas of our lives but I believe it is especially important for us to remember as we work together in Tres Dias. Yes, you can probably find something to be critical about each of us if you focus on that. But, we can also each give our warm fuzzies to each other.
And here is another thought: We can ask someone for a warm fuzzie—let them know we are in need of that warmth and love.
And, A WARM FUZZIE TO EACH OF YOU. You are such a blessing to me.
Spiritual Director Jean Hershey
Fairly frequent in our today world we hear of someone needing medical intervention for a blockage, such as in blood vessel, or stenosis of some kind. If the issue is not taken care of, it leads to significant pain and/or death. The body needs the circulation of nutrients for survival. And, the body cannot take care of blockage on its own.
How true also in our spiritual life. The intervention needed for spiritual blockage is the Holy Spirit’s work infusing us with God’s love. We can never be spiritually healthy until we experience and let the love of God flow through us. This not only nourishes our own life but positively impacts those around us. Maybe, it is a heart transplant that is needed. The Trinity majors in those also!
In the physical areas of life, there are symptoms and testing that can be done to identify blockages and indicate the need for medical intervention.
Spiritually, although there are not tests that can be done, there are symptoms that indicate blockage in our spiritual life. And, just as physical blockages can damage tissue and lead to death, so, spiritual blockages can lead to spiritual death.
Symptoms of spiritual blockage are varied and take on many facets—Some of the most striking and damaging are: Critical spirit; Complaining/negative spirit; Angry spirit; Holding on to grudges; Controlling spirit; and Seeing others as out to get you, are just a few. We can try on our own to change these thought patterns and behaviors. However, that process is often futile and/or with short lived results.
God loves to restore our lives to how He created us—persons with love that make a difference in the world as well as experience good things for ourselves. Jesus said that He came that we might have life, and life more abundant. When we hold on to the old stories and patterns, we cannot access Abundant Life. The love of God is blocked by the above symptoms.
And, so it is very sad and grieves God when these blockages happen in our lives so that His love cannot flow through us, nurturing others as well as ourselves.
The spiritual interventions are:
Jeanie Hershey, Treasure Valley Tres Dias Spiritual Director
As I drove into the rest stop and parked near the Restrooms building, my attention was drawn to a man sitting on a stone wall, in between the men’s and the women’s bath rooms.
It wasn’t him that really caught my attention. Yes, his shirt was buttoned unevenly but who of us has not done that at some time in our life?
What drew, and captivated my attention, was the tattered cardboard sign he held in front of him. In large, uneven, block letters made by a wide black felt pen were the words: “I’m barely surviving.” He went on to briefly “bless” veterans but the primary message was, “I’m barely surviving.”
Inwardly I prayed for guidance. What do I do in this situation? It didn’t seem to be a setting where you just drop a coin in a hat or pan and then walk off. The situation and the impact on me seemed rather to urge me towards making connection with him in some way. But, how?
Solution! Go use the restroom first and see if I had more direction when I came back out!
The impression continued that I should make connection with him in some way. Continuing to pray as I walked towards him, still sitting on the wall and holding his sign, the thought that bombarded me was how this related to how we often live as Christians. We appear to be barely surviving in our lives. How could that be? Yet, I was reminded of the times when we whine, complain, etc.
Jesus said He came to bring us Abundant Life and yet we can so easily live with a tattered sign in front of us saying, “Barely Surviving.” Ouch, Ouch. What is that all about? Why would we do that? Maybe it happens, when like Peter trying to walk on the water, we take our eyes off of Jesus and instead look at the waves around us.
Back to the man with the sign. As I approached this man, I wondered if he knows the Lord and so I asked him. He said that yes, he knows the Lord and prays, but feels confused in his life. I had a Bible along I would have given him but he indicated he didn’t need it.
His energy appeared to focus on negatives in his life, seeing others as neglecting him and causing him problems. I could think of various things that he could use his energy for but that was not my business. Rather, I felt directed to look at how easy it is for us to live with our own signs of “Barely surviving”.
This year, due to Lyn having had complete left hip replacement two weeks prior, neither of us were able to take part in TD activities. What did I learn about the Women’s Weekend when I checked in with various persons? It depended widely on who I asked. If that person was a positive person in her life, I received a positive report about how wonderful it was. If the person I asked was one who tends to have more negative responses to other issues in life, the weekend did not sound nearly as positive. So, was it the weekend? Or was it how the individual perceived it? Was it survival or abundance?
What sign do you, do I, carry? Barely surviving or Abundance? How do others observe us? What message do we give?
Remember Jesus’ promise, “I am come that you might have life, and life more abundant.”
Spiritual Director Jeanie Hershey
Relationships are basically in every area of our live. Many of the same ideas apply to all areas but I want to focus today on marital/spousal relationships. It is amazing that the same area can either bring delight and health or it can be filled with pain and even destruction.
Have you ever wondered just why God would have put some people together? Or why, there would be such differences in those who fall in love with each other? In reality, these differences can bring strength to the relationship.
Take the area of temperatures—who is cool, and who is hot? As one who is always on the cool side, it is amazing to me when someone comes into the area where I am in, announces that it is hot in there, and then proceeds to make it cool—open up the window, turn on the fan, turn on the air conditioner, etc. And, I think, “who says it is hot? I’m not”. It is now a practice that when we travel, I carry a blanket along so I can be warm (at least warmer) and Lyn can enjoy cooler air.
One of my first questions when I get to Heaven, after I get through glorifying Jesus, saying Hi to friends, etc will be to ask if it would not have been much simpler to pair people up by temperatures—rather than such differences. Well, maybe that won’t be very important then!
I know this doesn’t sound at all glamorous—nor is it—but to sleep well, most of the year, I sleep in a sweat outfit with an extra cover while Lyn sleeps with a sheet. Now, I know that is more than you wanted to know, but it truly illustrates the point. Is either of us wrong? No. But it is easy to act like the other must be out of whack with reality. Of course, I would never do that!
Through the ages, most couples have faced an even more gigantic issue—one party likes to talk out things, and the other has nothing to say. One says to the other, “what are you thinking?” And, the other answers, “Nothing”. And the first person thinks that is the most absurd answer possible. How could anyone not be thinking? What goes on up there? And so, that answer becomes viewed as totally lacking in honesty and cooperation. They must not even care. And the other wonders why you would even ask. Why don’t you just let things go?
As you well know, there are many, many more examples of differences—The differences and the resulting interactions may seem small but somehow the negative impact expands faster than yeast dough or the proverbial rabbit explosions.
Simply put by many “experts” is that a man wants to be respected and a woman wants to know she is valued. Question is—who starts that process? If one does not feel valued, it is hard to respect. If one does not feel respected, it is hard to value. Someone has to be willing to take the first step. We cannot wait for the other to do what we want before we will do what they want. Crazy and complex! But, still the truth. OUCH!
Actually, it really comes from within us as a person—who am I? What kind of person am I? If we wait on the other, it is going to be more chaotic and destructive than the Wood Duck in the wrong place in my last meditation.
Having our needs met in a relationship is crucial. If not, it is often destructive of our persona. One key to that is to know what is important and then articulate that to the other—not as a demand but as a gift so that the other is aware.
Is there a magic key? Yes. Nothing simple and yet it really is—the best I know is to turn it over to God. He greatly cares about our relationships. Claiming Scriptural promises allows Him to work in our lives. A great one for relationships is:
Ephesians 2:14. “You, Jesus are our way of peace among our family members. You have broken down the enemy’s wall that used to separate us. All of us that used to be upset with each other are parts of You, and in that way, we have become one.”
It doesn’t take me off of the hook but it steers me in the right direction.
Use as needed!
Spiritual Director Jeanie Hershey
Ouch! Another lesson from everyday life! Most likely, by now you have seen Jean Hershey’s masterful documentation about a wood duck that got into our house when we were gone.
Now, this wood duck has a great home available in that large tree in our Payette front yard. But, for some reason, this is the 4th wood duck, or maybe the same one trying four times, that has decided instead to enter our home, via our fireplace chimney—with various results and outcomes.
One wonders why a duck would leave the beautiful outdoors and its home in that tree to go down a dark, soot-filled chimney. But then, why do we leave our loving walk with the Lord to go our own way? Could that possibly mean that, at least at times, we are no smarter than the wood duck?
Once a neighbor, with his bird dog, came in and helped find and capture the duck that had gone into hiding in our home. Another time, a son and grandson came with a fishing net—and after moving a heavy hide-a-bed couch, were able to capture and release the bird outside.
This time, Jean went over to our house, and found chaos, destruction and poop all throughout the house. If you look at some of her pictures you will see fractured pieces of blue glass on the floor—remnants of the beautiful blue glass pitcher and some goblets I have had on our fireplace mantel. Looking at their beauty over the years has provided great joy for me. And now, those are shattered –far beyond repair.
So, what is the lesson in this? What happened? The duck got in the wrong place. He is fine outside in his own area but not in my home. As I prayed about this, Spirit reminded me of how easy it is for me, for any of us, to get in the wrong place. And, then, the resulting frustration, chaos, and destruction that happens.
What are some of the wrong places for me/us that we can get ourselves into, not know how to get out of, struggle in, and cause destruction?
--Expectations: Either of others or myself. I think I know how it should be, if relationships or actions, and when it is not, frustration, chaos, and destruction easily happen. If they really cared, then they would--.
--Shoulds: when I try to live my life by what I think I should be doing rather than following Spirit guidance. And, I can never live up to all that and so often a sense of defeat follows.
--Depression: my beliefs that no one cares, life is not good, there is no use trying, and I lose joy and peace.
--Not good-enough: Judgment on myself and believing that is how others see me.
--A sense of unfairness—how could that happen to me? How could that person do that?
I am sure you can think of more situations we can get ourselves caught in. The sad part is that not only was the duck frustrated because s/he couldn’t get out but in that frustration caused some massive destruction. And that is true for us: when we get in one of the wrong places, we cause destruction and chaos—not only for ourself but for others.
But, YEA, we have something the duck didn’t have: We have the Holy Spirit to guide and direct us and the Blood of Jesus frees us from the destruction.
Yes, Mark and Jean got this duck out. In our way of relating to others, the duck should have been punished for what it had done. But, Our Loving Father sets us free just as they set the bird free. Note: Mark also covered the top of the chimney to prevent further repeats. But, we had thought we had it covered! I wonder what story that duck told his buddies. Did he learn any lessons? What lessons will I learn?
Spiritual Director Jeanie Hershey
Direction challenged? Yes, that is often me, especially in new places. If my body/mind gets used to an area, the directions become more a part of my life. Now, in this new home, as I look out over the green wheat fields or drive someplace—any sense of direction is gone. There are very few landmarks to help me out. Just more fields and ups and downs in the roads like a roller coaster. I am going to need to rely even more on GPS.
Even when GPS is “working”, there are times it doesn’t “make sense”. I have memories, sometimes very frustrating ones, of various travels when the driver tried to go by what “made sense” rather than follow GPS directions. And soon, we did not know where we were and we heard “recalculate”. Thankfully, the GPS does not just say, “recalculate”. The GPS can get us back on track if we will but listen.
How does this compare with spiritual? As Christians, Jesus left us a wonderful GPS. He didn’t call it that but He did say that when He went away He was not leaving us alone but sending us a guide—the Holy Spirit. It is amazing what can happen in our lives and our churches as we connect with that spiritual GPS, take time to seek guidance from, and then follow, the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Sadly, there are times, (many) when we go our own way rather than follow GPS guidance. We need to be told to “recalculate”. Time to get quiet and tune in to the Holy Spirit.
So, if your day/life begins to feel like it is “out of whack”, Recalculate. Time to stop; sit quietly; connect with the Holy Spirit; and let Him guide you out of the mess you feel you are in. Get back on track.
Spiritual Director Jeanie Hershey
Men’s weekend is over and I hear that many special things happened there. How exciting it would be if, like a small mouse, we could be observing and delighting on what goes on in those weekends.
And now, women are packing and about ready to go. Continue to pray through this time for the Spirit of God to touch lives; give wisdom and love to all who serve; open hearts and listening ears for the candidates. God has pulled together a mighty staff for what He wants done this week in these weekends.
This is not a time for individual work but individuals working as a team to accomplish what is written in Hebrews 10:23-25, the work He wants to accomplish.
“ Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Lyn and I each went the first year of Idaho TD weekends and have been there each year since, with opportunity to serve in many areas. Since that time, six other family members, plus friends, have attended. Words cannot describe how the weekends have positively affected our lives. Actually, we would call them miracles.
Because I had felt led that I was not to participate in an active way this year—not knowing the reason why—Chrystle had agreed that I would sit in back of Rollo room and be in prayer. Well, I am going to be in prayer, but a long way from McCall. It will be from our home in Payette as I am here to provide care for Lyn who had total hip replacement a week ago.
God’s plans are sometimes different from what we expect, but He will always give us all that we need to do what He asks. Recently I was asking Him for strength. He stopped that prayer and reminded me to not just ask for strength but to ask Him what He wanted me to do. And then, as I did that task, He would provide all the strength, and whatever else I needed, to do that task.
A wonderful week to all—if you are still basking in what happened last week or anticipating what is going to happen this week. God is GOOD and has such blessings for us as we look to Him. Keep in prayer. Encourage others.
Blessings, Jeanie Hershey, Spiritual Director
Frequently flyers in the mail give special offers for us to go have our ears tested—to see if we are hearing well. Do we need assistive devices?
Spiritually, maybe we also need reminders. Perhaps, The Holy Spirit should send us notices with the question, “Are You Listening?” How would you answer that question?
Many things get in the way of my listening—busyness; ; my own list of what I think needs to be done, ; difficulty clearing out the old and nasty messages so I can hear something new. Or, maybe I haven’t ever listened enough that I recognize the voice of the One speaking.
When we know someone, we recognize the voice of the one calling. Why, because we have heard that voice so often. Also, maybe it is the kind of messages we are used to receiving that we would recognize the caller.
Recently, someone stopped me with a question: “Jeanie, I often hear you say that God said such and such to you. Do you really hear that? Is it a voice out loud or what?”
Yes, I do say that frequently—often times with some hesitance because I don’t want to sound as if I think I have the answers--but rather I share in a spirit of wanting to be authentic rather than take credit for the idea. Most often, I call that process a “knowing”. It could not just be my own idea but as I have prayed asking for help, I have received an answer: One that I would never have thought of on my own.
Come to think of it—that absolutely makes so much sense. Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would add to our lives in many ways. One of the most crucial, I believe, is His promise to guide us. Many times the path ahead is not visible or the next step to take; but as I take time to listen, He gives me the guidance that I need. I would not want to even try to live without this reality in my life.
Sometimes the guidance is to just wait and trust. We have two enormous events in our lives right now: Lyn having total hip replacement April 18th and a move on May 5th to Ritzville, Washington to serve as co-pastors. Sometimes as I have asked Spirit for guidance, He gently reminds me to not struggle, but to wait for His timing and His gifts. It has been amazing—His answers are far above what I would even have asked or tried to do on my own.
Many years ago, even before Lyn and I were married, I asked a pastor how I could know God’s voice/ answer. He taught me to ask and then leave it with Him. The answer was when I felt peace about a specific response. Lyn and I have used that process all through our married life. Oh, yes, we have made some serious missteps, but our basic approach is to pray and then wait until each of has a deep peace about an idea.
As I mentioned earlier, we are moving to Menno Church in Ritzville, Washington in less than a month to serve as co-pastors in a rural church. How did we know to do that? The first connection came through an email asking if we might consider moving there. However, we had begun to feel that maybe our home in Payette was where we were to be. We did pray and left it with the Spirit.
In several weeks time, each of us shared with the other that we were beginning to feel peace about at least talking with the Search Committee there. As we spent a long weekend there, we began to sense more confirmation that this was the place for us. One morning while there, I opened up my new Bible, a gift from a special friend. This Bible has some illustrated verses on pages that one can color. As my Bible fell open, there on the right hand column was the message, “I am sending you to a land of milk and honey”, verifying the call we were feeling.
Sometimes, it is a sentence in a book I am reading; sometimes it comes through my journaling; sometimes I am taking time to sit quietly and reflectively and then I hear His guidance; sometimes it is when I really need help, such as my computer refusing to print and I don’t know what to do.
The Spirit loves to speak words of love and guidance to us. Our part is to make the time to listen—and do it often enough that we recognize His voice.
Maybe you think this is all hokey-pokey. It will be that for you until you decide to give it a try and really listen. It has some similarity to what happened to a friend of mine who asked the doctor what heart medications he could stop taking. She told him he didn’t have to take any of them. However, he would have a very short time to live. You don’t have to take time to listen to the Holy Spirit. But, you might miss some very important guidance that could rev up your life.
PS: Taking time to listen may be the most important task you can do—even more than a list.
TVTD Spiritual Director
Catalyst. This is not a usual word in my vocabulary. So, I was surprised one morning in my quiet time when that word came to mind. After asking Heavenly Father, Redeemer, and Spirit what they wanted from me that day, I sensed that I was to be a catalyst that day. Now what does that mean??
Google describes a catalyst as a substance that increases the rate of a chemical reaction without itself undergoing any permanent chemical change. It precipitates an event. Also, a person or event that quickly causes change or action.
What did this all mean for my life that day? After reflection, I saw it as a reminder that I was to make a difference in other’s lives that day. An interesting part is that this was not about my trying to be whatever I thought someone wanted, but to be true to who I am as a child of God.
As we near Tres Dias weekends, I think of the many opportunities that we will have to be catalysts in the lives of others. Being a catalyst can also be negative, which is not what we want. Each of us should be aware of the tremendous calling and opportunity that we have to make a positive difference in the lives of others as we interact so closely.
This is really about choice of what we choose to think and do. Recently we traveled to Indiana for some meetings and time with friends. Our flights on the way were delightful and smooth. Our flights on the way home were chaotic and seemingly disastrous—starting with our first flight at 5:30am. My sister and brother-in-law, as well as ourselves, had gotten up at 3am in order to make this flight.
A stewardess was sick and we couldn’t leave until another one was flown in and the flight would not leave until 10:15am. There goes our great plans of being back in Boise by 1:35pm.
Many travelers had their day’s plans totally disrupted that day—appointments not being met, not being able to connect with family, and many other “seemingly disasters”.
There was a wide array of responses among those whose life had just been royally disrupted. It became clear that no matter how sweetly one talked or the size of temper tantrum, the situation was not going to change.
What kind of catalyst would I decide to be? I didn’t have a magic wand to make things work “right”. But I could choose to be as calming effect as possible. I thanked the person at the desk for doing such a difficult job as to rebook the many passengers. I even suggested to her that she deserved double pay that day—easy for me to say as it wouldn’t come out of my pocket! She didn’t think it would happen!
Let’s relate this word to our Tres Dias weekends coming up and all the preparation that is going on. God is calling each of us to be catalysts for good as we interact together. How we relate as staff members will determine to a large degree what our candidates will observe about God’s love and gain from the weekend. Yes, someone may seem grouchy or sharp in their response. Or, maybe it seems to me that they don’t get their job done well and it impacts me. Or, maybe I feel hurt by what was said or how done.
I encourage each of us to be catalysts for good, directed by the Holy Spirit and filled with God’s love. What you do, how you interact, how you pray for and bless others, will help determine how the weekend goes!
Have a blessed week.
Jeanie Hershey, TVTD Spiritual Director
Although, I don’t consider myself a fancier of big words, I find that this one describes some things going on in my life that other words fall far short of in describing. Coined back in the early 1800s, it was to have a fun way to describe a person’s reactions of confusion. For me, a simple definition is when God takes those carefully thought out plans or beliefs of mine, (that I thought He was a part of), puts them in His giant blender, and pushes the “High” button.
A truth of life. What goes in the blender, never comes out the same. Something new is created. Sometimes, tasty. Sometimes, not.
In my half-awake, prayerful, state of mind early yesterday morning, trying to find some order in all that was suddenly happening in my life, the still small voice of God, that can far outweigh the loudest claps of thunder in intensity, said to me, “Jeanie, don’t you think I have a plan for all this?”
And, I knew deep within, that once again, it was time to turn it all over to His all-mighty hands and His marvelous work. Not mine to fret or fix. But, to follow. And, I can joyfully make that decision. For, the Master Shepherd, who loves me deeply, has a plan. My part/duty/response? To listen and follow step by step, s x s.
The Shepherd Psalm, describes His care of me so well. Will I submit to this loving care? Yes.
God, my shepherd! I don’t need a thing. (Yea! What abundance!)
You have bedded me down in lush meadows, you find me quiet pools to drink from.
True to your word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction.
4 Even when the way goes through Death Valley, I’m not afraid when you walk at my side. Your trusty shepherd’s crook makes me feel secure.
5 You serve me a 6-course dinner right in front of my enemies. (I love this boldness)
You revive my drooping head; my cup brims with blessing. (Abundance plus!)
6 Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life.
I’m back home in the house of God for the rest of my life. Psalms 23; Msg.
Have a blessed week!
Spiritual Director Jeanie Hershey