Getting to Know Your Neighbor Through the Eyes of an 8 Year Old
By Chrissy Grant
As LifeBridge gets ready to embrace our neighborhoods throughout Longmont and the surrounding areas, our son Daniel, who is 8 years old, came up with this ingenious idea. While I pondered how I was going to approach my neighbors during this project my questions were answered by our awesome little boy.
Daniel is still in search of his faith however he is the most empathetic, caring and spiritual little soul one would ever meet. He hears me speak of scripture at home, he hears me listening to Christian music, he knows I attend church each Sunday and extend my hand to those in need. I think he “gets it”. But I remain patient. Soon he will find Jesus and open his heart to Him. Little do each of us realize is that he may already have.
We were at Hobby Lobby today picking out some Valentine’s Day items. Daniel ran off to look at candy and I was just about to say, “honey, stay close!” and he excitedly said, “Mommy! Look! Lollipops with scripture on each wrapper! We can hand them out to our neighbors for Valentine’s Day and get to know them better!” I was stunned! He wasn’t aware of the “Get to Know Your Neighbor” mission. I think he’s ready to take…that leap of faith. I believe he has found his faith but if not, I will be there to help him understand the glory and overwhelming peace that will overcome him when he accepts Jesus.
So, that being said, we have marked our calendar to take an early Saturday afternoon, walk the neighborhood and hand out lollipops with scripture for Valentine’s Day.
I couldn’t be more thankful for Daniel. We love him dearly. He is an amazing soul.
God’s Many Faces
By Ashley Conklin
Throughout my life I have struggled to feel whole. I grew up in a non-religious house. I had nothing to fear but my parents. Over the years I kept finding myself meeting Christian people and I would feel a strong urge to become closer to them. It was a feeling I could not control.
Just when I started to feel a little comfort and hope I would stray away because of the negativity and abuse in my home. I questioned how God could ever let my parents treat me the way that they did. I was angry for many years.
After graduating I thought moving 2,000 miles away from my parents would make me feel whole because they couldn’t hurt me anymore.
After being gone for a year and a half I still felt something was missing. Despite all that I had been through with my family I moved back home because I missed them.
Shortly after coming home I was once again drawn to a Christian that I felt a strong urge to be close with. Actually I fell madly in love with him. Little by little he started answering my questions on how God could let me endure all that I did.
He suggested we attend Lifebridge. The minute I walked in I could feel my soul begin to ease.
We continued to attend Lifebridge. On June 21st we commited our lives to God and accepted Jesus as our savior through baptism.
We recently got married and live our marriage and life for God.
You never know when God will place the right person in your life at the perfect time.
I finally feel whole.
By Chris Ann Bass
I am mad—the kind of mad that grows out of anticipation of doing something that is uncomfortable, unfamiliar, and scary. I am not exactly praying—it is more like a threat muttered under my breath. God, if you are there, you have one last chance to show me. I am going in alone and unarmed. If this turns out bad, I will never enter one of these church buildings again! If this doesn’t work, I am not looking for You anymore. If You exist, please let me know.
I am sitting inside of my parked car looking at the scene in front of The Church of Aurora, a small neighborhood Christian church. The scene is just as I expected. I see perfect looking families, girls in dresses, boys in their Sunday shirts, older women in hats, older men in suits, and middle aged men and women dressed in casual-business attire. They collect in groups on the small grassy areas on each side of the wide concrete sidewalk that leads to two large open doors. People hug new arrivals, chat, and laugh. They obviously know each other well. I, on the other hand, am an intruder—an unhappy, nicotine-addicted, seven-month-pregnant, unmarried, living-with-the-baby’s-father, intruder. And I am about to trespass into their perfect world.
I made choices in my life that landed me where I never intended to be, but I don’t seem able to do much right to fix things. Life is heavy—very heavy. Over the last year I have done more crying than laughing. I don’t belong here at this church, but why not? I don’t have anything to lose. This is another attempt to make sense of life and maybe fix things.
My stomach sinks at the thought of heading up the walk and through the large doors. I decide to wait until most of the perfect people go inside before I make my move. My mind swims in fearful defensiveness. One unfriendly glare or righteously judgmental comment at my protruding belly, naked ring finger, or nicotine perfume, and I am prepared to react in prideful defiance. I am ready to wash my hands of the perfect people before I ever meet them.
By the time I make my way to the large doors, there is only an older man remaining in sight. I am certain he hung around on purpose waiting for me to reach the doors. When we meet he shakes my hand and smiles, and I do likewise. That wasn’t so bad, I think as I proceed through a second set of open double doors. I see there is a man already in front of the people talking. Everyone is standing, and all I can see is a room full of the backside of heads. I can’t tell where there might be an open seat. A woman close to my 24 years of age quickly perceives my predicament. She gestures to the older couple between her and the end of the isle. They quickly make way for me to pass, as the young woman motions me to come next to her.
The man up front stops talking and everyone sits down. In hushed voices this woman and I exchange names. I feel trapped! My deodorant cannot take the pressure and instantaneously flees its post, allowing perspiration to escape. Nervousness and being shoulder-to-shoulder with strangers causes beads of sweat to collect on my upper-lip. Stand up, sit down, what is next? I don’t know the routine, not even well enough to fake it. How long did this get-together last? I have only been here a few minutes and it seems like an eternity. This is definitely a bad idea. My thoughts are too loud to hear any of what the man on the raised platform is saying. Just remember to breathe until this is over and you will be fine, I tell myself.
Piano music starts and the people again stand up. Like a good follow-the-leader player, I too stand. They grab songbooks from the backside of the benches in front of them. I opt not to. I don’t know the tunes and am not comfortable singing out loud. The young woman next to me is sharing a book with her husband, as is the older couple on my other side. A short way into the song the young woman passes her songbook off to her husband. She grabs another book from the back of the bench and flips through the pages. Stopping at the correct song, she opens the book wide and moves in front of me. I am involuntarily sharing a songbook with this politely persistent woman. It would be rude not to sing under the circumstances, so I sing.
When the song ends I am watchful to see what my next move is suppose to be. Are we going to sit, sing, pray, or pay? People begin shuffling pages in the songbook. No! We are going to sing another song. Once she finds the correct page, my neighbor once again dutiful places the songbook in front of me. Holding the songbook with both her arms extended towards me makes her stance a bit awkward. I reach my outer hand in her direction so that my side of the songbook rests in the palm of my hand, while she continues to hold the other side. It is a decision that immediately makes us both more comfortable. I do not sing during the opening of the second song, not until she points to words on the page. I take this as my cue.
Thou has taught me to say, it is well, it is well, with my soul… The words of the song are but whispers on my lips. But for the first time since my arrival, I hear something other than my own thoughts. The voices and words of the song fill me like a deep draw of fresh air. It is well, it is well… My mind is free of clutter and I hear only “It is well with my soul.” I am completely emptied and filled with words that immediately become my very sustenance. I cannot sing now for tears fill my eyes. A few drops escape. I am weightless. Outwardly, as the singing continues, I hear the words of the song from behind, below, above, and beside me. Internally, the words of each chorus become reality.
This is not normal. God, are you there? As soon as this mental question emerges, deep within my chest I feel heaviness being lifted, inching upward slowly. The heaviness continues to lift till it reaches my shoulders. From there it dissipates, till all heaviness is gone. You’re real! You’re real! Oh my God, You’re real!
The song is over and we are sitting down. My heart continues to race with excitement. You’re real! Now what? What do I do next? If you are real then the Bible must be true! What just happened to me is the most real thing I have ever experienced. Should I keep this our secret? Am I suppose to I tell someone? I don’t hear any words that are spoken for the rest of the service. Only words of the song and my excited thoughts fill my mind. Never again will I bear the weight of life’s heaviness alone! God is real and He is with me.