Cha·os /ˈkāˌäs/ noun
Calm /kä(l)m/ adjective
I put these definitions before you because I am guessing that you have heard/read both probably 200 times today. We hear these words on a typical basis with the world that we live in but definitely in a time like this. It is pure chaos at the grocery stores, in our government, in our homes, at work, in small businesses, in large businesses, in our schools, in our churches, and the list could go on and on. It is an exhaustive list of chaos. For us at the church, none of us can say that we have ministered through this type of chaos before. Sure, there has been chaos in our lives before, in the church life before, and in our community -- but none like this. Atleast, not in my lifetime. In the chaos -- there is fear, anxiety, worry, trembling… it is almost stilling the amount. We are worried about ourselves, our families, our brothers and sisters in Christ, about our community, our nation, our economy, our nurses and healthcare professionals, etc. I am sure all these thoughts have run through your mind, as they have mine. But here lies the truth -- there is A CALM in the chaos of any disaster, trial, disease, and especially COVID-19.
So how do we do it? How do we amidst all of this, find the calm in the chaos? How do we rally together when social distancing is pushing us apart? How do we create community and encourage one another when face-to-face is not an option? I don’t know all the answers but I do know one -- we have the same God yesterday, today, and forever(Hebrews 13:8). We have a God who loves His people and is with us in all of this. We have a God that is seeing His people struggling and is hoping instead of turning to everything else that we turn towards Him! We have a God that has given us incredible people, resources, and abilities to get us through this time. I pray for our doctors, nurses, and those in the medical and research fields that God uses their talents to find something to help cure, aid, and prevent this virus. I pray for our community in all ways that we are able to rally together in this (with social distancing) by calling each other, reaching out in prayer and love, and helping where we can. I pray for the Church as we navigate how to minister to those from a distance. Something that I know Shepherd of the Hills has been actively doing these past few days. We want you to know Christ, to receive Christ, to grow in Him -- and we want to help you do that always. So with that being said, I have come up with a list of resources and things that I will be doing till we are able to meet in person again for our families, youth, and children ministries. Please take a look at the letters below pertaining to your family needs. We will have the opportunity to grow together through this (all while keeping our distance). If you have an idea, if you have a thought, if you would like to see something -- please let me know. I want to help you!
Lastly, I want to talk about the calm. I know that this is not a calming time for many. I know that me saying to be calm or breathe is not something you haven’t tried to do or thought about doing. I know that it is not as simple as that. But another thing that I know is that God is with us even in the times where chaos seems to close in. God is fighting for us even when we feel like the fight is too much. God knows us and the struggles that we face and He calls us to trust in Him. Last month, I wrote about baby steps -- maybe you take baby steps day by day in releasing this worry and fear… just know we have a God that sees that and is with you every step of the way. “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).
In His Love,
Director of Family Life
The past couple days, I have been reflecting on this past year, as my daughter will be turning 1 in March. Most days, it blows my mind that a year has gone by looking at this beautiful little girl and how much she has grown. How did a little baby that use to be so small that my husband was worried that he would break her to now holding her in a football hold with no problem. She is growing into her personality and it has been beautiful to watch.
Each day of her life, she has made baby steps -- to eating big girl foods, to crawling, to standing, to babbling, to clapping -- baby steps. I feel like in any part of life, in any season, in any change, we are still continuing to take baby steps. Maybe, you took baby steps in getting healthy by going to the gym or eating healthy food. Maybe, you took baby steps financially by putting a part of your paycheck into savings or paying off debt that accrued. Maybe, your baby steps were of a spiritual nature by starting to read your bible everyday or going to church for the first time in a while. Whatever your baby step in life may be -- they are all important and foundational.
Last month, I wrote about how we are focusing on building this year with our 2020 vision -- but in order to build and keep building there will be a lot of baby steps along the way (and maybe a large leep or two); and that is okay. We have a God that wants for us to follow him -- even if it takes us a few baby steps to get us to running full speed after him. How are you taking baby steps to grow closer to him? My daughter is not walking yet but soon enough she will get there.
I have heard stories from people who say that once they start walking -- get ready, your world will change forever. How fitting! Once we start taking those small baby steps and learn to walk with the Lord -- our world is changed forever. After the baby steps, we can find ourselves on full run with God -- not saying that we won’t stumble a few times here and there; which we will. However, that is where our loving God picks us up, dusts us off, and walks alongside us. Scripture often paints a beautiful picture of this in which David talks about in the Psalms, “When I said, “My foot is slipping,” your unfailing love, Lord, supported me,” Psalm 94:18.
We have a God that sees our baby steps. He encourages us. He supports us. He is with us! We shall not fear taking a step forward for He is our guide. So, what steps are you taking? Where is God leading you to grow? Is it financially, spiritually, physically, emotionally? As a husband, wife, daughter, son, sister, brother? How can you be intentional with planning those baby steps? Maybe, that is the first step of it all -- planning the step you will take. I challenge you to take a look and plan the next step, wobbly and all, and I pray that God continues to guide you in each step you take.
One of my favorite things to do with my daughter is playing with blocks. She really doesn’t know how to play with them yet but we are learning. I make these beautiful tall towers and spend time making sure that everything is in the correct place and then my daughter comes in and…. knocks it all down!!! Then do it again by creating another tower, she comes and again knocks it all down!
This becomes a continuous theme and she giggles and smiles as she fast crawls towards my beautiful tower like a defensive player ready for the tackle. It is joyous for her to tear down my beautiful tower but in turn is a bonding moment for us as we learn how to play with blocks and to build back up. Shepherd of thre Hills is in a time of rebuilding and the focus of 2020 is just that -- building.
Even though tearing down and starting new is something scary, something unknown, and can be tough process; there is a beauty that comes from building back up. There is a beauty in the unknown, the tough stuff, the scary. A beauty that lies just beyond what is safe and predictable. It gives Shepherd of the Hills the chance to focus on what are our goals for the new decade with this new 2020 vision that we have.
The thing is building takes time, it doesn’t happen overnight and it doesn’t happen alone. In my past month of being here, I have been blessed to be meeting with people from all areas of ministry and in the congregation. I have loved seeing the people of God coming together to continue to build the ministry here at Shepherd of the Hills. I have enjoyed learning where the foundation is and figuring out where we build from here. It takes a lot of people to make ministry happen and I am happy to say that Shepherd of the Hills has pretty fantastic and faithful people.
Building won’t be easy, it is going to require compromise, listening, loving, forgiving, educating, and communication. It is the body of Christ doing what God has called the body of Christ to do -- build each other up in love. 1 Thes. 5:10-11 talks about this, “He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” Being new here, I am excited to see where God is going to take this building year.
I pray that we are able to reach out into our community by building connections, building our new building that more may join us in worship and praise, building the staff as we continue to pour into each other and the people we bring Jesus to, and building the generosity as we learn to give our time, talents, and money to growing the kingdom. It will be a growing year. I would love to learn from you. Thank you for the warm welcome and I look forward to continuing to build on that foundation that is set in Christ.
Director of Family Life Ministry
Jessica Tibben was installed as Director of Family Life at SHLC in December 2019. She was previously working in Denison, IA as Director of Youth and Family Ministry for the past 5 years. She loves being able to serve both youth and families and bringing them to know more about Jesus.