Friday Focus

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Prior to July 2017, our newsletter was named Your NFC. All the archived issues remain available, as you can see down the right-hand column!



Your NFC — June 7, 2013

Click here: June 7, 2013 for the entire issue.

by Michelle Akins 

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I’ve been thinking about expectations and all the roles we play. It’s exhausting. When I was born I was simply a baby. As an infant, my responsibilities were nil. But over time I came to awareness that I was a daughter. I belonged to a family and there were self-induced and taught expectations that went along with being a daughter, niece, granddaughter, and cousin. My parents were adamant about not saying, “Michelle be a good….” Sadly, I know this isn’t the norm. Even in young children we sometimes create an environment of expectation. I caught myself doing it recently as I went to visit a family in the hospital after the birth of their second child. Without thinking, I said to the older sibling, “You’re going to be such a good big sister!” My words weren’t said maliciously or to cause the child to feel a weight of responsibility. But over time, messages—even those spoken lovingly by parents, teachers, supervisors, friends—build up and burden us with expectations. Year after year more expectations are placed on us, and seldom do we lay them down. The heaviest ones are often the ones we place on ourselves. The roles we take on and the “hats” we wear increase with each new relationship and responsibility. Is it any wonder we are people plagued by fatigue? We desire to play the game well, earn good grades, have successful and fulfilling relationships, excel in our jobs, and parent proficiently. Over the course of our lives we might be forced into roles we never even wanted to take on: healthcare advocate, widow, single parent, gym member.

So what are we to do with all these roles—all these hats? Sometimes I want to throw them out the window. My head simply isn’t big enough to wear them all. When I choose family over fitness, my body suffers. When I become engrossed in a work project, I’m not available for my husband and my girls. When I focus on spending free time with friends, I neglect the meaningful time I want with my parents. I pray I’m not the only one who often feels caught in the web of expectations. The simple answer is balance. But balance is actually a façade. We simply can’t do everything well in moderation. Trust me, I’ve tried. Balance makes us feel like we are multi-tasking ourselves to death. Pretty soon we are so tired of “balancing” we get tipsy and eventually land on our face. Perhaps the answer is to zero in on just one thing. Nope, that doesn’t work either. Compartmentalizing our lives isn’t holistic or holy. In fact when we become too absorbed in just one or two of our responsibilities, the rest of our relationships fall apart. I’m depressing myself!

We need a living, breathing hope. We seek a Savior who understands and accepts our human limitations. We want grace. We have to let go of guilt and let Christ release us from the prison of expectations that have been built (sometimes with our own hands) around us. Here’s a practical, meaningful way I’ve found helpful. Every morning when I come into consciousness I ask God a simple question, “What do you want me to do today?” I admit it; sometimes I don’t want to hear the answer. Some mornings I wake up tired and forget to ask the question! But most days, I’ve come to accept and appreciate that living submitted to God, finding myself in the center of his will, is the best place to be. I follow up the question with a proclamation, “However you want to use me today, God, I’m yours.” It’s as simple and as difficult as those two sentences—one question and one affirmation. Both speak submission. Both free me from constantly plaguing myself with relational prioritization problems. Both give everything I am to the one who created me. Both allow me to see my days in light of eternity, not just at the mercy of a self-imposed schedule.

I wish I could tell you that simply speaking the words, “What do you want me to do today?” and “However you want to use me today, God, I’m yours” solved everything. Truthfully, I often get busy and forget to listen for answers. Sometimes I don’t think God answers me, even when I am trying to be attentive. There are days I’m really into being used by God, and then there are circumstances and situations when I just want to do it my own way. And as my family can attest, there are days, I’m plain grumpy. Oh, I’m so thankful for grace!

Maybe you’ve developed a prayer practice or a spiritual discipline that helps you release the tension of expectation. I encourage you to share those with one another. In closing, let me offer you this exercise: Find a space to be comfy. Curl up, snuggle down, or lie with arms and legs stretched. Wiggle your toes. Picture yourself safe in the presence of our nurturing, loving God. Close your eyes and let a smile creep across your face. Be still, visualizing God’s delight in you right now, in this moment. You aren’t doing anything. Notice the lack of expectation. Breathe deeply and slowly. Remember how good it is to be God’s child. A baby.

Click here: June 7, 2013 for the entire issue.

Habitat for Humanity’s Apostle Build

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Larry Hampton

by Larry Hampton

Everyone deserves to live in affordable, safe, respectable housing—the belief that spawned the organization known as Habitat for Humanity. The mission of Habitat—at the international and the local level—is to partner with families, churches, businesses, local governments, and many other organizations and individuals to provide housing that meets these simple requirements. It has been my privilege to work with the Newberg affiliate of Habitat for Humanity for a majority of the time it has been in existence. Over the years we have built or rehabilitated 17 homes, and we’re working on numbers 18 and 19. I currently serve as president of the board and also serve on the land acquisition committee.

One of the partnership programs that Habitat promotes is called the Apostle Build. We seek 12 or more churches to commit to provide funds and labor to build a home. As with all Habitat building efforts, prospective home owners join with volunteers to do the work of building the house. I am excited to announce that Newberg Friends has committed to Newberg’s current Apostle Build. In addition to providing some of the funds required to build the house, we will provide workers for two Saturday build days. Our first day to work on the site (1313 E 9th Street, Newberg) is Saturday, June 15, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Lunch will be provided by people from Newberg Friends. We will schedule a second build day later in the summer.
I hope you are asking, “How can I get involved in this project?” First, you can sign up to work on the 15th. You do not have to be an expert builder to volunteer on the site. Folks of all ages (must be 16 or older) and all ability levels are welcome. Tools are provided, or you can bring your own. This could be an opportunity for folks from Equipo to have a reunion workday. If you aren’t able to do the physical work of building, you can either sponsor a worker or do some fundraising to help with the cost of building. Newberg Friends Church has provided some of the funds required by the Apostle Build, but we would like to raise about $4,400 more to support this effort. You can also get involved by helping to provide lunch for the workers on the Saturday build days. There are many other ways to get involved with Habitat, including serving on a committee or being a mentor/partner for a Habitat homeowner. All of these are tangible ways to share the love of Christ with others in our community.

I love to build. There is something very satisfying about stepping back at the end of the day and seeing the progress made. My Monday through Friday work as a middle school administrator is a type of building (building mature, educated young people), but the results are less tangible and I often wait several years to see the fruits of my labor. This is why I get involved with Habitat and with Love INC’s wood ministry. I get to help people, and I get to see immediate results. I also feel like I am sharing Christ with the people I’m helping. Won’t you join me in sharing his love with our community?
If you are interested in working on June 15, please call me (503-538-6508) or text me (503-840-5346) or e-mail me (hamptonl@newberg.k12.or.us) . We need at least ten workers.

Read the rest of this article in the May 31, 2013 issue of Your NFC.

Ministry Happens: Friendly Visitor

Kara

Kara Maurer

The phone was ringing. A woman answered, “Hello?”

“Hi this is Kara Maurer from Newberg Friends; I
came to visit you with Elizabeth Sherwood?”
“Oh, yes, how are you doing?”
“I’m doing pretty well. I was wondering if you would
be up for me coming by for another visit.”
“They’re making you do it all by yourself now, are
they? That’s awfully brave of you. Sure, that would be
great!”

So began my experience as a Friendly Visitor. When I first started interning at Newberg Friends in September and was told I would be visiting people at Friendsview Retirement Community and in the community at large, I was so nervous. Aside from my grandparents, I hadn’t had much experience interacting with people over the age of sixty, and I didn’t know what on earth we would talk about. Not to mention the fact that I am an introvert; the idea of meeting someone for the first time stresses me out. Either Elizabeth Sherwood or Cindy Johnson went with me for the first few visits, and I was able to just sit there and smile while they talked to the people we visited. It was safe, and I enjoyed listening to their conversations. After that, though, I was on my own. The idea of going to visit people at all, let alone regularly, freaked me out. It was so difficult to jump in solo!

Now that the school year has ended, I am so glad this was my first assignment as an intern. It turns out I love talking with people—both at Friendsview and in independent homes. I connected with some of the people more than others, but each interaction I had I now treasure. Every visit ended with me walking out the door with a smile on my face and joy in my heart. I always feel so full after a visit, and I know that the people I visit enjoy it as much as I do.

Being a Friendly Visitor simply means connecting with one older adult on a regular basis. Maybe that means once a week, or maybe it means once a month. This is such a life-giving time because the sole purpose is to form a friendship. It may start out with small talk about the pets that we’ve had throughout our lives or learning about how they came to live in this area. After more time together, however, it becomes something much deeper. I find myself looking forward to the next visit, excited to spend more time with the person and to share a piece of our lives together. It is fun to travel through life with someone, whether it’s getting excited about the upcoming publication of a book or making paper snowflakes to celebrate the Christmas season. The nervousness I faced in the beginning was well worth all that I have gotten out of this experience. I would recommend it to anyone and everyone.

Kara is a recent George Fox graduate who hopes to make a career in social work. She is the daughter of Dave Maurer and Sandy Gidding, the sister of Zach Maurer, and the roommate of Anna Thomas and Ruth Headley, all of whom she loves very much. Kara looks forward to finding out what God has in store for her in this next chapter of her life.

Read the rest of this article in the May 24th issue of YourNFC.

God’s Grace Versus the Economy of Earning

Adam Snow

Adam Snow

Time sure flies on by! Last week I graduated from an MA program in marriage, couples, and family counseling; I’m celebrating the five-year anniversary of being married to my best friend, Kim; and I’m turning 30 next month. I tend to categorize my time on this planet into phases and chapters, marked by my time at a job, my time at school, my time being married—by my accomplishments. I tend to fill my days with Hard Work, efficiency, and efficacy and so define my time according to measures of such. But is that how God characterizes my life, and where does that drive to do come from?

I’ll get back to those questions after sharing a bit about myself: Kim and I met in college at Fox. We began dating our senior year—2005. At the time I was finishing my BA in business administration/management with a minor in camp administration. My dream was (and still is) to run a camp or retreat center. One day, while walking around campus, Kim asked, “What are some of your life dreams?” I shared this vision for a camp, and Kim, who was a psychology major, shared that she also wanted a retreat center that served as her private practice site, ministering to missionaries, pastors, and others who suffer burnout (at alarming rates). Now, eight years later, Kim has graduated from Fox with her doctorate in psychology and has started two private practice sites! Now that we’ve both graduated, we look forward to building our experience as counselors and working toward our long-term goal of a counseling retreat center that serves God in a multitude of ways. (No, we don’t have any little rascals…yet.)

I have also worked at the Sherwood YMCA rock wall and at Camp Tilikum for several years. I enjoy working with people and challenging them toward growth. I also greatly enjoy adventure and creation. (Ask me about my “moose story” in Alaska or my trip to New Zealand or my hobbies.) But beyond all the fun stuff, I find immense fulfillment from being outdoors and using creation to reach and heal people on deep, spiritual levels. In my work now, I blend the worlds of counseling and psychology with the theory and techniques of challenge course work. For example, I’ll use techniques from facilitating the catwalk at Tilikum in a session with families or, conversely, I’ll use attachment-focused and emotion-focused therapy skills from counseling when I’m facilitating a group of Boy Scouts at Camp Yamhill.

Read the rest of this article in the May 17th issue of YourNFC.

Your NFC March 22, 2013

Jessica Woehler

Jessica Woehler

On March 8, I was able to attend the women’s retreat on the beautiful Oregon coast at Twin Rocks camp. As I sit and reflect on those three days, I remember many fond memories, including watching a group of beautiful and diverse women learning to dance, with another group sitting around a table knitting wonderful and creative things, while the rest formed clusters of joyful conversation. They’re all beautiful, and I was blessed to be able to spend the weekend with them. Although I was the youngest at the retreat, my heart was so warmed by the vast array of stories that were present and the hearts that were shared.
Over the course of the three days, I spent many hours walking beach after beach, seeking God’s beauty with my eye and camera lens. And beauty I found. A bald eagle soared overhead. Pink and purple shells shimmered in the sandy sunlight. Dogs, with bigger smiles on their faces even than mine, ran into the water, splashing and playing. Seagulls bathed in the waters, content for a moment to silence their harassing of picnickers. Driftwood piled high in stunning architectures created by wind and water. A wily wind playfully entwined with my hair and skirt, turning my head to notice more, more. Beauty. It is all around us. Reflecting God’s face, God’s love. And in the midst of all the beauty I realized a very important thing. I am a part of that beauty, as is every woman at the retreat, as are we all. In all of our faults and failures and struggles and burdens and hurts and
regrets, we are beautiful—even if we often allow the world to tell us otherwise. But as I walked along the beach, the only human in sight, as I twirled with the wind, allowing it to lead me in a dance, I felt beautiful. There was no one there to confirm that fact, but
more importantly there was no one there to deny it. It was just me, dancing to the rhythm  of my God’s creation. My brokenness didn’t matter. He was piecing me back together; he is  constantly piecing us all back together with his faithful, endless, and binding love.

Download the rest of the March 22nd Your NFC by clicking here.

 

 

Your NFC March 15, 2013

All In a Day’s Life
By Ben Kulpa, NFC Family Member

Ben Kulpa

Ben Kulpa

I love my job. If you don’t know what I do, let me explain. I basically get paid to have good conversations with bright college students. Life is good. College students are a great source of encouragement and hope. I live and share life with college students because I believe in their great potential toward changing the world. My job really revolves around helping college students combine what they learn in the classroom with what they believe. Making these connections was one of the most formative things that ever happened to me, and it was largely due to the people who were part of my life while I was in college.

How does what we believe shape what we do? Most college students (and I suspect most of us) find it difficult to identify what they believe and not just how they spend their time. Here are some examples. I ask an elementary education major what it looks like to be a Christian teacher. The typical response: they are extra nice to the children or they don’t participate in the gossip around the water cooler. I ask a business major what it looks like to be a Christian professional. The typical response: “Well, it probably means I shouldn’t rip anyone off.” These things are important, yes, but they do not by themselves tell the whole story.

Lately, I have started asking the question, “How does who you are matter to the kingdom?” The question I used to ask focused more on what we do, which is the easy part. My revised question goes more to who we are. Again they are both important questions, but we rarely, if ever, get asked the second. So why does this question matter? By answering it we understand God and ourselves better. I believe we are all created as image bearers. God made us and made us in his image. There is nothing we can do to fully rid  ourselves of God’s imprint on our lives. Therefore, understanding who we are allows us to see what part of God we reflect, and that is beautiful.

So I would pose this question to you as well. Let’s assume we have all been made in the image of God and that because of this we are drawn toward certain callings in life: stay-at-home parent, accountant, teacher, pastor…. How does how we are made/who we are matter to the kingdom? What role does your being a nurse/lawyer/administrator play in ushering in the kingdom? How does your story help others understand their own role in the world? Regardless of our station in life, what does it mean to see others and ourselves through the eyes of the creator? We matter. Others matter.

These are the conversations I get to have every day of my life—and I love it. This is why who I am matters to the kingdom. I am a question asker and a story teller/collector. I tell and I listen. I am curious about who people are and who they are yet to become, regardless of age. I am a teacher/guide. Who are you?

Download the rest of the March 15th Your NFC by clicking here.