Eye Opener

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Looking through the long list of places I have done community services at,the food pantry,the community that was hit by a tornado and the cemetery were the ones that had caught my attention.I knew that all those places were going to be a great choice but I did not think it could make such an impact in my life.Service has always been a large portion of my life,mainly because I went to a Catholic grade school and high school.Every Thanksgiving I went to a local food pantry. When I arrived at the food pantry,I started packing food and prepped them for delivery.When the Thanksgiving trays were ready,I would drive to houses to deliver them to families who could not afford a Thanksgiving meal.
I did a lot of service in order for me to graduate high school.For one of my service projects,the volleyball team and I went to the Kirkwood area to clean up houses after a tornado came sweeping through the town. Showing up to the tornado site was devastating to see.There were families that were crying and saying that they had nothing left of their houses except for the foundation of the house.My team and I spent about eight hours there throwing bricks,pieces of wood,and parts of the walls and roofs of the houses into giant dumpsters.One moment that impacted me was when an older man drove by and told me one of his houses was struck by the tornado.He said to me “Thanks for everything you guys are doing;it means a lot to me and also the rest of the community.
           Another service I did was my class went to this cemetery that was in horrible condition.There were gravestones knocked over,grass up to my hips,and trees that had fallen onto graves.We spent all day cutting the grass and carrying tree limbs to be tossed through a shredder.Fox 2 news showed up to interview the owners of the cemetery and also some of the students who were helping to rehabilitate this cemetery.After we finished for the day,the school received a call from the owners of the cemetery.They wanted to tell our school how much it meant to them,how they received calls from the public saying “how much better it looks,” and that they wanted us to come back next year.
           When I first heard that we had to do community service for McKendree,I was kind of hesitant.I did not want to wake up at 6:45 in the morning to do work.But when I woke up,I realized that this was for a good cause.The service I had to do was for an elementary school.We had to paint curbs that were damaged from rain and tear.Doing this service I did not receive as much of a personal experience,but it was an experience in a wider range.Not only did it affect me,but it also affected the community.I liked painting the curbs because I knew it was an object I can see with a physical change.I would rather do this type of service because I do landscape,and cutting grass is not as meaningful to me since I do it all the time.I am glad I had an opportunity to do this type of service.I really enjoyed it and it also made me closer to my classmates.Community service became not only a chore but was it was rewarding. It helped me understand that I do not have to do service just to receive feedback. 
By Josh Thum
I am volleyball player at McKendree University.  I enjoy playing golf in my free time. 

Eat, Read, Pray Book Club: Ann VosKamp’s One Thousand Gifts Part 2

Part 2 of Ann VosKamp’s book study covered chapters 1-4 and book club members were given a thanksgiving journal at the first meeting in order to begin documenting their 1000 gifts.  As members enter for discussion, ask them to highlight five thanksgivings from their journal they would be willing to share with the group.  Once everyone has arrived and is settled, go around the room and have each member share their five thanksgivings- why these thanksgivings were chosen, when they were identified, the grace that resulted.

This would be an ideal time to introduce the snack of the evening, cheeses meant to be grated.  Allow members access to various cheeses and various size graters in order to create their own rings of cheeses.
While taking turns with the grater, the following study questions may be discussed:

Chapter 1-
  1. What do you think of the opening epigram, “Every sin is an attempt to fly from emptiness”?
  2. Are your hands curled like cupped hands, a receptacle open to the gifts God gives?
  3. Do you have any memories which were jolted awake due to the electricity of the trauma?
  4. How can God be good when babies die, marriages implode, and dreams blow away?
  5. Does God really love me?
  6. What is the human inheritance/legacy of the Garden?
  7. When do your soul’s macular holes spontaneously heal?
  8. Define “grace” according to VosKamp.
  9. How do you know you can say “yes” to whatever He gives? 
    10. How do we “choose” to allow the holes to become seeing- through-to-God places?

Chapter 2-
  1. Can you relate to Ann’s dream? Has a dream or life experience ever made you want to live fully?
  2. Do you understand what Ann means when she talks of the life in between?
  3. Are you ready to go Home if the call came? If not, how do we live fully so we are fully ready to die?
  4. Are there places that must be known, accomplishments that must be had, before one is really ready to die?
  5. Define eucharisteo.
  6. Define the fall according to Voskamp.
  7. How often do you remember to say thanks? Every day?
Chapter 3-
  1. Thinking of your own life experiences, does change take real intentionality?
  2. Are you able to show gratitude in the midst of death, divorce, debt, etc. in order to accept the joy?
  3. Will you commit to name the gifts you already have, the gifts He bestows? What, if anything, causes you to hesitate?
  4. As you document your 1000 gifts, be specific. For, the small “moments will add up” (57).
  5. Complete a prayer of thanks three times a day.
    Chapter 4-
    1.   Is the busyness of your life leaving little room for the source of your life? How can you make your life less busy?

    2.  What is your most profound regret in life? What did you think of the pastor’s regret of “being in a hurry” (65)

    3.  How can you take time to live with soul and body and God all in sync?

    4.  Document your own version of “Suds . . .all color in sun” (68).

    5.  Fill yourself with the weight of the present, be all here.

    6.  Tell someone you “love them . . . and all this” (77).

Finally, at the conclusion of discussion comes our INTENTIONAL activity of joy.  Since VosKamp lists #362 in her thanksgiving journal as the suds in her sink, use this time to allow the grown members of your book club to walk outside and blow bubbles, pop them, and catch them.

If interested in Eat, Read, Pray Book Club, please e-mail EatReadPrayTroyUMC@gmail.com

Eat, Read, Pray: Ann VosKamp’s One Thousand Gifts Part 1

Last night was Eat, Read, Pray Book Club’s initial meeting over Ann VosKamp’s One Thousand Gifts.  The book cover serving as inspiration, snack included deviled eggs topped with a carrot “nest” filled with an olive “egg.”

No reading was required; the group as a whole answered the following questions in order to think in terms of our abundance of God-given gifts:

What happened today for which you are thankful?
What did you see today which made you smile?
What made you laugh?
What was a delight to your eyes?
What brought you comfort?
What did you eat today which “hit the spot” and relieved your tummy grumbles?
What did you witness today which made you happy?
Did you receive an unexpected gift today (i.e. “thank you,” hug, smile, assistance, wave, text, e-mail, phone call, letter, love note, etc.)?
Did you give someone a compliment today?
Who hugged you today?
Who did you hug today?

The term, eucharisteo, with all of its components- grace, thanksgiving, joy- was then discussed followed by the “Homework” assignment:  reading of chapters 1-4, documentation of 333 gifts, and the sending of a handmade card.

This card in question was then created under the direction of Miss Cathy along with the use of her many card-making supplies.  This was deemed our INTENTIONAL activity of thanksgiving.

Our next meeting is September 19, 2012 at 7:30 p.m. in the Oak Room at Troy United Methodist Church.  If interested, please e-mail EatReadPrayTroyUMC@gmail.com.