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SMC Women's Ministry

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Posts tagged serving
Healing Touch

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Were you aware there are people in the world who do not like hugs or being touched? It’s hard to comprehend as a native southerner who offers a hug with an introduction; even though my oldest sister would prefer having her nose hairs individually waxed instead of receiving a hug. I wholeheartedly admit I know no boundaries when it comes to hugging, just ask my sister or sweet John Hillary. When he sees me coming, he starts squeezing inside himself preparing for the hug I HAVE to give him.  I have a few precious friends gifted in massage, their touch over many occasions has brought me great healing and peace.

One of my favorite professors in college would walk around us as she taught or we took exams and place her hand on our shoulders. I imitated her when I was a teacher, hoping to encourage my students with a hand on their shoulders or a hug when needed. Knowing that not all children have people giving them touches of love. This week I was talking with a friend who recently moved into a senior living facility. She spoke of a young staff person who made it his mission to hug everyone daily. She asked him about it and he said for many residents that is the only touch they receive.  Part of the training the Mexico mission team receives explains touch-the good and the bad. Because some children have only experienced touch in a negative form, our natural tendencies to reach out and hug them can do more harm than good. We have learned to ask permission before we hug and rejoice when we not only get to hug, but when hugs are initiated and returned.

Oh, how my heart cried thinking of people missing the human element of touch due to lack of people willing to hug or as a result of trauma. There’s a reason God created our skin to be our biggest organ, filled with touch sensors. These sensors warn us of pain or heat or itchy things and provide a newborn with a sense of belonging, love, and trust that remains with them for life. Scientific studies have shown that touch can be decoded as a form of nonverbal communication across a diversity of developed countries. Touch can communicate tenderness, compassion, anger, love, gratitude, happiness, and fear within seconds. Just the physical act of a kind and warm touch lowers blood pressure and releases the “love hormone,” oxytocin. And it goes both ways, those that give hugs for example, also have a similar physiological reaction.

The Bible gives several accounts of the power of touch.

Mark 6:56 “And wherever he came, in villages, cities, countryside, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and implored him that they might touch even the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well.” Healed, by a touch. Have you experienced a hug that instantly made you feel peace or loved or cherished? Can you even imagine the feeling of being healed by Jesus simply touching you?

Mark 8:22-25 gives another account of Jesus healing by touch. “They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eye and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?” He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.” Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.”

 In Mark 5:28, we read about the woman who had bled for years. “For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.”

 These accounts are about more than physical healing.  The spiritual blindness (faith) of those around Jesus was healed as well.  The act of touching them proved Who He was in a way that words could not. The way we reach out with a gentle touch or a warm embrace can offer healing and hope and a reminder that we aren’t alone. God created us to be in community where we would use our touch receptors on a regular basis.   Keep hugging, keep healing.

Shea

This Girl's In A Slump

I’m sitting here in front of this blank page trying to figure out what to write for this week’s blog post -- it’s a free write, and those sometimes give me trouble because it’s up to me entirely to decide what to write about. To be perfectly honest, 2018 has not been stellar for me, I admit, and the coming weeks don’t appear to offer any relief best I can tell. There has been loss and there has been hardship, and there are days I’d rather just stay in bed. I won’t bore you with the details (oh, and this year’s birthday? It was a big one…), but suffice it to say I’ve needed to hear God and feel Him, and there have been many times when all I’ve heard and felt has been silence. There have been times I’ve found it really hard to plug in to God so that I might hear or feel Him. I’m in a slump, and my batting average is tanking, fast.

Then I had this moment, in front of the blank Word doc, cursor flashing constantly at me, that I’d seen or read something before about some of these feelings I’ve been experiencing. So, I just typed in a few key words that came to mind into the ole Facebook search bar, and up popped this post from a pastor friend of mine:

And you know what? He’s absolutely right. And you know what else? Jesus lived this, as a shining example of what we should do. “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). Hello! Jessica, wake up! You just celebrated the greatest act of service the world has ever known – Easter! There is healing in serving. There is purpose in serving. There is value in serving. There is goodness in it, too. I am, by nature, a do-er. So, it stands to reason that serving in some way will bring me joy, or at least some sense of fulfillment or accomplishment. If nothing else, maybe peace. I can feel God by stepping into the acts of service available to me. People might experience His love because I showed up and lent a hand. In fact, the irony of this is that a few days after that post by my pastor friend, I found myself sweating and baking at the SMC Back-To-School event at Eastlawn Elementary. With a BIG SMILE ALL OVER MY FACE. Those students and families were so happy to be there, and it was contagious.

What does serving look like, though? For me, it’s volunteering some Sundays to help with children’s check-in at the worship services at St. Mark’s. Those little people are so excited to be there (okay, for the most part) and that’s also contagious. It’s also heading into the kitchen on some Sunday evenings to help with the meal preparation for Uprising. The teenagers are so happy to have a hot meal awaiting them, and they are so kind and appreciative. It certainly rubs off on us “old” folks. It’s contributing in some way (meaningfully, I hope) to these blog posts, and the SMCW Facebook Bible studies that run regularly. Often, I do hear Jesus in the commentary, and I am beyond grateful for that. When I’m plugged in, I don’t notice the slump nearly as much. When I’m involved, I don’t have idle time to fret over the valley I might very well be in.

Are you in a slump? Are you unplugged and wandering? Are you only hearing silence? I encourage you to join me in finding ways to involve yourself in Kingdom work. Maybe your heart lies with serving the homeless, or collecting food for the pantries around town. Maybe you love working with kids, and are looking for an opportunity to be a leader for a small group. Maybe you’re more hands on and DIY, and would enjoy outreach projects (like Habitat for Humanity, etc.). Or maybe you feel called to pack shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child—it’s never too early or too late. Whatever your strengths are, I am cheering you on…go and do good things! I will too! Then we’ll all be a little better off and little less focused on the valley, because being in the valley maybe won’t matter so much. And remember what Paul instructed the followers of Jesus in the early church: “If your gift is serving others, serve them well…” (Romans 12:7).

*If you would like to learn more about opportunities to get involved at SMC, check out www.exploresmc.org/serve or contact anyone on the Staff Directory page with questions.

Jessica

Taking It All Away

blogimg The summer of 2007 brought North Carolina one of the dryest summers I can ever remember. It was also the baptism of my husband, Craig, and I on August 26, 2007. If you had told me the prior year we would both publically accept Jesus as our savior making that claim by immersion the following year, I would have debated you. After all, I was able to talk Craig out of being baptized in 2006…the painful year of our seperation.

Craig and I were both baptizied as infants; our SMC baptism was different as we came to God at the darkest moment in our lives. We needed God to take up residency in our lives to mend our broken hearts. We became seperated with no hope of reconciliation, so we thought. Divorce was in the picture, so we thought. After 13 years of marriage, Craig walked into St Mark’s Church over a decade ago; me, I ran as far as possible from God. What broke up this couple who were inseperable Once Upon a Time? Selfishness, addiction, finances, deception, stuff, and everything else inbetween.

Now for the good news! God can use our “discards” to make our lives so beautiful. Because Jesus went public about His love for us, we can go public about our love for Him. Being baptized shows that we have turned away from a life of sin toward Jesus…the only one who can change us. That is exactly what happened to us! Craig finally convinced me to attend SMC service with him. Once I visited SMC, my life changed with each passing week; our marriage became one again; we started praying every day; we started serving others and were free from all of our past burdens. We changed so much from the inside out, and we wanted to tell everyone about our Savior. We knew the true meaning of joy, peace, love and comfort. Our lives were headed in the direction God planned for us…one step at a time from the water’s edge.

Peter said to them, “Change your hearts and lives and be baptized, each one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ. Then God will forgive your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise is for you. It is also for your children and for the people who are far away. It is for everyone the Lord our God calls to himself.” (Acts 2:38-39).

Craig and I have shared our story with Re|Engage at SMC on how God’s mercy and grace restored our marriage. I am so excited and honored to introduce one particular couple we bonded with at Re|Engage, Brian and Suzanne Eller. Today I want to share their baptism story with you.

Their Chains Are Gone…Brian & Suzanne Eller August 30, 2015

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Brian and Suzanne are no different from any other couple in our community - marriages are challenging and it is a team effort with God. They previously described their relationship with God as a “check the box” type of Christian. For a couple who have attended SMC for a combined 42 years total, it wasn’t until last year when they gave it all to Jesus! When asking Suzanne how it felt at the water’s edge last August 30, 2015, she replied, “…we felt lighter as though the weight of all our sins, shame, anger and disappointments were gone. It was a beautiful and refreshing feeling when walking out of the water leaving the pain behind us.” Their chains were gone and have maintained freedom in Jesus! Their commitment to making Jesus famous is so enthusiastic, contagious and their joy radiates when you are around them!

During 2015, both Brian and Suzanne prayed about being baptized and made a conscious decision to surround themselves with other followers and do more than “check a box” each Sunday. Their “to do” list always has God at the top and any opportunity they are offered to mentor others or serve in a ministry; they are accountable to make their contribution. They knew after their baptism God had special plans for them – as for working with a spouse to make Jesus famous in our community, there could be no greater love found. You will not find Brian and Suzanne sitting on the sidelines! They realize baptism doesn’t save a person; it’s a symbol of salvation, and a celebration and a time to get busy! It has been nine years since our baptism and one year for the Eller’s; each year their love grows more and more for our Heavenly Father. There is no difference whether it is one year or nine from your Baptism, what matters is what you do for others and how you represent Christ! When hope is beyond our grasp, God offers a promise of refuge and strength. Take the extra step at SMC’s annual baptism next week into the water’s edge… you will find no greater bond than His love from above. You are loved immensely from here to eternity. I may have talked Craig out of the 2006 baptism, but I am so grateful because our faithwalk started together in 2007 and we gave our life to Jesus together. What a new beginning for any life! Will you come to the water’s edge next Sunday? God certainly changed my mind…a decision I debated just a year earlier!

Together in Christ, Craig & Lynne

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