Category Archives: Article

Ocean Thoughts

Until I thought of myself as the sea

I used to separate good days from bad until 
I thought of myself as an ocean. I used to 
split times I felt strong from when I felt weak 
until I imagined myself as the sea. Calm and 
rocky, wild and soft, still and powerful and vast 
and more than any one thing. In the ocean it’s 
hard to divorce one mood from another, one wave 
from the next. Now, on my worst days, I think 
of how good life is too, how I still can greet joy 
while swimming through grief. How fragile 
strength feels. How I’m not any one thing in any 
one moment on any one day. I’m all of it and 
all of it is me. 

– Hannah Napier Rosenberg

I came across this poem on Instagram and it resonated deeply. It feels like something that women in particular relate to, and need to hear. It led me to my frequent meditations on enough-ness and the struggle to be all of our feelings and experiences at once, not diminishing or canceling either side. 

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Christmas Resources

Rather than an article today, we wanted to share some links to a wonderful New Church resource – New Church Vineyard. One of the things they’ve done is collect songs, sermons, videos, and projects from congregations around the world and brought them all to one place. You can find song recordings of some favorite Christmas hymns. Or watch videos of beautifully felted figures in a reading of the Christmas story in a variety of languages. Or find a talk to read with your family on Christmas morning. Or maybe even find a Sunday School project you came up with! It’s an incredible collection.

Here are a few links to get you started with Christmas Resources:

The whole Christmas theme of all types of resources is here

New Church Vineyard has many collections of songs, but here is a link to the Christmas themed songs they’ve gathered

Christmas videos in a variety of styles and languages are here

At this link you can find some really lovely coloring pages

There is a lot to explore and look at on the website – we hope you enjoy many of these things as you head into this special Advent season.

Be Still

God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear,
Even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
Though its waters roar and be troubled,
Though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah

There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God,
The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved;
God shall help her, just at the break of dawn.
The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved;
He uttered His voice, the earth melted.

The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah

Come, behold the works of the Lord,
Who has made desolations in the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
He burns the chariot in the fire.

Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!

The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah
~Psalm 46

I don’t know about you, but I often have a very hard time slowing down. World news, an over-dependence on my distracting cell phone, and bouncing between to-dos can leave me feeling like I’m in constant motion. In Psalm 46, the Lord tells us to be still, but He doesn’t pretend that achieving stillness is easy. The psalm paints pictures of roaring waters, shaking mountains, and raging nations—images that call current events to mind a little too easily. And yet, amid all of these troubles, the Lord calls us to be still. And in that stillness, He says, we have the blessed opportunity to know Him.

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Greeting As Friends

Have you ever found yourself among lots of strangers, either all at once, in one place, or one after another, after another? I’m guessing that you probably have, at some time or other. Does it make you shudder, or give you the chills?

Not everyone would be bothered by scenarios like these, but I’m a relatively introverted person, not especially inclined towards crowds of unknown people, so when faced with situations like those – even just thinking about it – I feel myself recoiling, sinking into myself. There are different variables, mind you: if I can just be around them, on the outside looking in, not expected to interact with them, I’m fine; or, if I’m with someone else that I can buddy up with, I’m pretty ok. If I’m on my own, though, and in a situation that calls for extensive interpersonal interaction,…. my palms start sweating and I start looking for the nearest exit. (I get through it, but I don’t enjoy it!)

I had opportunities to deal with this when my family and I first moved overseas, as you might imagine. Getting to know the folks in the small church society was fine, but venturing out into the outside world, where I didn’t know a soul and didn’t know whether I had anything in common with anyone, and I felt like a foreigner, an outsider, I was a little less than perfectly comfortable. “Deep breaths, Jenn, deep breaths….”

I distinctly remember one of the tactics I used, when we first got here and I was first venturing out: I reminded myself that, when it comes down to it, everybody poops. I don’t mean to be crass, it isn’t like I envisioned people going to the toilet, it was just a reassuring notion to think that, even that tough-looking guy over there, the one who looks like he could beat me to a pulp without much effort? (gulp!) – He poops, just like the rest of us. That stuck-up woman behind the counter at the shop? She poops. It elicited a little up-tick at the corner of my mouth as I chuckled inwardly, it’s true; it helped me relax into my new environment, confident that, although I was very new and ‘green’, we were all actually on the same playing field, deep down. (I suppose this strategy is probably akin to the public speaking ‘picture your audience naked’ tactic?….)

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