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Birthdays always bring about a lot of reflection in my heart and mind. Each year, I can’t help but think over the past 12 months and contemplate life and the person that I want to be. This is especially true this considering I turned twenty this week (wait what?!) and I feel like entering a new decade of life is a big deal! Ten years holds a lot of change. The past ten years have shaped who I am as a woman and the next ten years will continue to shape the course of my life. I’m realizing more and more as life goes on that I am small. I am one, tiny person on this earth that will be here for just a blink of time. But the choices I make during this gift of time on earth can have impact – and that, my friends, is something to consider. If there’s one piece of advice the world throws at people my age, it’s that these years don’t really matter. As in, somehow they have no affect on my future - therefore, I should do whatever makes me happy and call it good. But what I’ve come to realize is this – every choice I make shapes the person that I am becoming. My decisions and the character of who I am are in direct correlation with one another. Every time I choose to workout, I’m choosing to be the grandmother who is strong enough to play with her grandkids. Every time I choose to read God’s word, I’m choosing to build character and wisdom for the life situations I don’t even know are coming. Every ten minutes I spend scrolling are ten minutes of life – gone. Every time I choose to buy a Starbucks, I’m choosing to spend five dollars that I could save/give/spend elsewhere (or maybe I’m choosing to invest in my sanity – who knows;)).

It’s weighty, though, when you really stop and think about it, isn’t it? What am I doing today that is shaping me into the person I desire to become? There are a lot of days that I’m ashamed to answer that question, but more and more I’m realizing and striving to form habits that shape me into a vessel of honorable use – ready and willing for every good work. We can always grow + change and it’s never too late to take that step forward. I wholeheartedly believe these years are made for cultivating. Hosea 10:12 says, “Break up your fallow ground – for NOW is the time to seek the Lord.” My ground was MADE to love Him. My dirt was crafted to serve Him. And building habits that honor Him… is there any better way to live?

“What you do every day matters more than what you do every one in awhile.” - Gretchen Rubin

So here are five (out of many) truths I desire to hold fast to and carry with me into this next decade of life. But the great thing about truth is that it’s always relevant – so I hope this blesses you no matter what season of life you’re in.

- Only Two Things REALLY Matter

When we boil down our entire existence, all the fluff that fills our every day lives – we end up with two things – God and people. God matters – who we believe Him to be and who we are in light of Him. And people matter. The way I make people FEEL matters. I’m learning that people are difficult, because people are broken (and I’m one of those people). BUT, the experience that people have with me can have a profound impact on their entire day. Same for you! ;) Sometimes a coffee date is more important than work. Treating people with kindness and a heart of joy is more impactful than almost any words I could ever speak. We all desire to be valued and treasured – and making an effort to affirm that other’s lives is powerful.

- God is Forever Faithful

Spiritually. Mentally. Emotionally. Financially. He is FAITHFUL. When life is impossibly hard and devastatingly broken, He is faithful. How great is the love the Father has lavished on us! Never once has he failed to carry me through. This past year has held a lot of change. A lot of hurt, a lot of mourning, a lot of GROWTH. Psalm 119:68 says, “You are good and you DO good.” What sweet words to my ears! By grace You have carried me here, and by grace I will carry on. If you seek the Lord – you will find him. I’ll stake my life on it. I only know this because He does it for me every day.

- Sin Destroys More Than Ourselves

Oh friends… I just wish there was a way to see God’s perspective in the midst of difficult situations! It hurts, you guys. I’ve seen the devastation of sin in my own life, in the lives of others, in the life of our country. You know all those people who are in prison for WRONG and hurtful acts? Every one of them stemmed from sin - most likely the sin of someone before them. Isn’t that so sad? That the sin of owning slaves in America’s past STILL directly impacts our society today? That drinking one beer too many and getting behind a wheel causes lives to be ripped out of this earth and people to face forever disabilities… because of that one choice? One person’s sin. One person’s choice. I’ve been devastated by one person’s sinful choice, as have other’s been impacted by my own. Isn’t that enticement enough to seek something greater? Think of the impact you could make on this world by choosing a different path. It’s inspiring and it’s humbling.

- Obedience is for our GOOD

I think one of my favorite things that people say about the Bible is that it’s restrictive. I say favorite because I love to share the awesome news that it’s quite the opposite! Oh how Satan strives to warp our perspective – and he’s good at it too! Yet obedience brings LIFE – and life abundant! Obedience to God’s word brings freedom and fullness of joy. God’s commands are not burdensome! In fact, the only reason they are there is because He loves us with such infinite depth. Because He knows the stove is hot, you know? I’ve touched the stove before – it hurts. It burns, and it heals; yet it always leaves a scar. In all His Sovereignty and goodness, the Lord teaches and grows us through those stovetop moments. But just as a momma hates to watch her child in pain, He aches to see us hurt and desires the very best for us. Obedience is difficult (or we would all be perfect) but its blessing is far greater than our comprehension.

- Life is not About Me

I have to remind myself of this far too often, because it’s easy to forget, isn’t it? I want my way. I like doing things my way, so cultivating a heart of selflessness doesn’t exactly come easy. But I really believe that the more we train ourselves to act in selflessness instead of reacting in selfishness – the more at peace our hearts will become. When you get a bunch of selfish people together – it brings chaos. (Oh hey, check out our world right now.) But a bunch of people looking out for the good of those around them - believing that the world doesn’t revolve around them - but in something (Someone) greater? Now that is where real peace lies. I want to work on this trait in myself – becoming someone who exudes Jesus because life isn’t about me, and in turn, about HIM and loving people like He would. It just gets me all excited to think about!

I want to carry these things with me. Through my 20’s, 30’s 40’s… or however long the Lord gives! I write things these to remember. For myself primarily – to keep myself accountable. But also because I believe there is power in written words. Thoughts aren’t meant to stay bottled up, and maybe – just maybe – they can make an impact when released. So here’s to an incredible next decade of life – and whatever the Lord may have in store. Not my will, but Yours be done, Oh Lord.

 

Posted by Jessica Smith with
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There is a great need to reach out to the lost souls of the Deaf Community as there are an estimated 278 million people with a moderate to profound hearing loss according to World Health Organization in 2005. In our church we seek to teach the Deaf in Sunday School the same studies the rest of the church is using but with a more visual and dramatic approach. Many Deaf do not understand the meaning of salvation through belief in Jesus Christ as their personal Savior or the differences between heaven and hell. We encourage and welcome anyone to come see our Deaf Sunday School class to experience the drama of the Bible Studies through acting out the stories to gain deeper understanding. Esther teaches the Deaf Sunday School class and in her words, “I myself have learned a lot about the Bible. I like to share with everyone what I learned from God’s Word.”

How do we Reach the Deaf?

Our Deaf Ministry has regular events of Outreach to the community with a Bible story acted out and the Gospel shared at every event. Some of the events we have hosted are a swim party and the Easter Party. These events would be great opportunities for the hearing congregation to come support the Deaf even if you don’t know ASL (American Sign Language). I guarantee you will have a blast and be blessed at the same time.

How Can the Hearing Church Members Communicate with the Deaf?

We would love to encourage anyone to come and say “Hello, how are you?” Then give hugs and shake hands. The Deaf in our church would welcome you to write notes and look face to face at them. Raising your voice would not be helpful and could be seen as hurtful. The Deaf love to laugh and love people and would welcome you to come sit with them and show you genuinely care—our church motto is: Love God, Love People. They would love to be asked about their salvation story and where they grew up and went to school. Their heart language is ASL and most of them use that language. Some read lips but not very easily. They use text messages and Video Phone pretty much like Skype. They are just like the hearing except they can’t hear.

Testimony of Corey Brueggeman

The Deaf ministry goes far beyond knowing sign language and communicating with the Deaf. Ministries are a way to reach out and preach the Word of God. Upon joining the Deaf ministry, I myself believed it was simply going to their Sunday school class and helping the Deaf understand the Bible; however, this is not the case. It was not long before I realized the many ways in which our Deaf spread the word of God. The Deaf here at our church are on fire for the Lord. They are eager to plan for the Deaf events such as Easter and Christmas parties. They each have a list in mind of all of their Deaf friends who need to know the word or God. I was amazed to discover how many Deaf and hard-of-hearing didn't know about God or the gift of salvation. But, as amazing as our Deaf are, the most amazing part for me was realizing how much I don't know. Having grown up in church, I thought I had a lot of head knowledge such as knowing that Noah's ark was made of gopher wood or that there were more likely four or more wise men and not three; but, all of that suffered in comparison to what they taught me. No, being in Deaf Sunday School has not given me a longer list of "fun Bible fact." It gave me something of far greater value and that is a better understanding. Because the Deaf think in pictures, they must truly dig deeper to understand the context as to what is going on. They ask the little questions which actually turn out to be the big question—the questions that switch on the light bulb above our heads. What the Deaf have given me is a greater hunger for seeking God and His wisdom.

 

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