Tuesday, December 30, 2014


As another year comes to an end I find myself reflecting on the past year.  I have had an interesting year with many bumps along the way.  The reflection that I see is a gentle reminder that I am not in charge of my life.  God is the one with ultimate and total control.  Why we experience the bumps in our journey here on earth is a question that we may never receive an answer to until we meet God face to face.  On occasion we may even catch a glimpse of how our bumps can be helpful to someone else who is hurting. 
When I come into contact with someone else that is hurting it is as if I am looking into a mirror and viewing my own likeness.  Another question comes to mind as to why God would put that individual into my life.  How am I to help this person?  That is when I am reminded of I Corinthians 13 and the Greatest Gift that God gave us!  He gave us His very own Son; who came to earth, lived among us, felt the same pain and heartaches that we have and He died to save us. He knows not only my pain but everyone’s pain and through my own experiences He gives me the words to say to help others through their bumps in the road.
 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.  I Corinthians 13:12 NKJV 
So when I don’t understand why those bumps on this journey are there I can rejoice and know that someone bigger than you and I has been there with me carrying me all the way!

Elaine Campbell, MA, MHC

Monday, December 15, 2014

Rejoicing in the Season!

I always feel sort of unsettled between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I think it is a little bit of stress and a little bit of peer pressure to "do Christmas right." This season can often consume us with a multitude of activities--buying and decorating the Christmas tree, Christmas shopping, Christmas presents, Christmas pageants, Advent, cookie baking. etc. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed with it all and wish for "normalcy" in my life.
However, after reading Kara's blog, I have decided to enjoy these normal, seasonal activities that can at times make me cranky. Kara is dying of cancer. She is mourning the loss of not being able to do the normal Christmas activities with her family and at times finds herself jealous of those of us who can. She writes:
So, last night...I was in agony. I was weeping hot and angry tears over the pain. And all I kept saying over and over- is “I’m so jealous of normal people.” I just want to be kissing my kids goodnight and sitting down for a glass of something and adult conversation next to my man- not calling the hospital and debating if I need to go there to spare the kids from hearing my agony. I want a bad hair day, to worry over a spelling test, or upcoming lines in a play coming out smoothly for my brave young lady that has taken on drama with a stutter. I’m so proud. So proud of her. I want to go to a thrift store and buy old wool sweaters and make ugly stuffed animals with my kids and bake over Christmas break. I do not want to be back in radiation battling to kill what is killing me…. or hurting me. I want to be decorating my house for Christmas.
She goes on to say:
I’m going to open my Bible, and I’m going to hunt down the grace, the peace, the source of what living- true living really is. It’s not the absence of this pain, it’s not the presence of normal. It’s the ability and strength that I covet so desperately. It’s Jesus. He is who I need. But I also know He’s not disappointed in my wrestling, weary heart this morning. He will show me, once again, that he is enough. Maybe I can’t run to the store and Christmas shop or decorate, but after I search out peace...I plan to find a few treats for my people for Christmas. That feels almost normal. And tonight as a family- we can read scripture, and as a family we are going to curl up in my bed and pick a Compassion Child to support together.  Oh- I feel the peace coming just making this plan. A moment not focused on me- glory. I feel a contented face coming right now- thank you Jesus.
Wow!  I don't think there is much more I can add to that. I am just going to be grateful that I can physically do those "normal" things that Kara wishes she could do. I don't have to worry about whether my house is as beautifully decorated as my friend's or whether my cookies taste as good as another lady's at church, or whether I can buy the perfect gifts for my family. Christmas is about so much more. It is about life and life is beautiful. I want to embrace every day that God gives me and be thankful that God chose to send his son to earth as a baby so that I can have life, not only on this earth but also for eternity.
My prayers are with Kara and her family as she continues her struggle. As hard and as difficult as her journey is, her strength, courage, and faith are such an inspiration to many. It has helped me to put into perspective the things in my life that are really important and to count each day as a blessing from God.
PS - The sign is a Christmas gift to myself that I purchased from a friend who makes them. I LOVE it! Life is indeed beautiful. Let's be thankful for it.
Mary Lehman

Monday, December 8, 2014


Moses had an amazing encounter with God where God tells Moses that he is the man who will bring the Israelites out of Egypt. It doesn't take Moses very long to come up with several excuses why he should not be the one to lead the people out of Egypt.
Have we ever looked at this exchange and believed that we would have responded differently? In the past few months, I have had my own questions for God about why He allows me to oversee the ministry at New Hope Community Closet and so I have been relating to Moses.
There are over 50 volunteers who process donations, run the register and allow the store to run with a low overhead. God allows me to interact with these wonderful volunteers week in and week out. But, I am an introvert. God knows this. There are many days when I would love to sit at a desk by myself, check my emails and learn how to market a thrift store better.
I rarely have time to sit at the desk to check emails, and it is rarely quiet. But I am able to speak truth into volunteers' lives each day.
With over 50 volunteers, the same task may be completed in many different ways. I love order and consistency. How do I accept it when there are inconsistencies? And again, I need to remember that I have many opportunities each day to show God's love, instead of showing  my impatience.
I answer many questions each day ranging from what hours we are open, what donations we accept, or how much should we price a particular item. All of these questions are important to answer and it is part of my job. I love answering questions of strategy, and some of the questions I hear each day are strategic questions.
But many of the questions I answer are questions of information. And, I question God about where He has allowed me to be.
When it comes down to it, my life is not about my strengths being used, or me helping to make "important" decisions. What my life should be about is to love others well. God has taken an introvert who would often rather be away from people, and put me in the midst of people every day. If I love people well, it is because at the beginning of my day I spend time with God. I read his Word to me. I talk to Him about the day ahead. And, I try to listen to His voice reminding me of what is really important in life.
What it really comes down to is do I trust God? Do I really believe that He knows what He is doing? Am I wiling to submit to Him? Will I let my life be about showing God's love to those in my life?
And so, I am thankful for the example of Moses. He was not afraid to ask God questions. But, he had to listen for God's answers. Moses did do what God asked. God led Moses and the Israelites through their long journey. He will lead me through my journey also.

Deb Riddell
Closet Manager

Monday, December 1, 2014

Don’t Get Tangled in Holiday Debt!

     In my current role as New Hope’s life coach, I meet with many clients who have financial assistance needs. Usually, the debt for these clients is overwhelming and they face the loss of their basic needs if something does not change rapidly.

     Unfortunately, once a person finds themselves in this level of financial crisis, desperate steps need to be made in order to get one on the right path to freedom.

The Christmas season is now upon us and many people will be caught up in the moment of impulse buying. By January, one may be calling me to help them recover from unwise choices being made in December. I write this article to address the steps one needs to take now to prevent long term consequences that will affect you throughout 2015.

     The first step is to realistically look at your money. Determine a reasonable budgeted amount that is not taking funds from your basic needs, (like rent, electric and food). If you don’t have the funds, then don’t spend what you don’t have.

     Set Your Limits – Decide what you can realistically afford this holiday season without causing yourself a lot of stress and anxiety. If you haven’t set anything aside for holiday shopping, you may need to use money from a different area of your budget to cover these expenses. For example, if you have money set aside for “fun money” to treat yourself or money set aside for dining out, you could cut back in both of these areas and use the savings towards your holiday spending bill. Remember, gifts don’t have to cost money.

     This will be my first Christmas without my dad. He passed away in August of this year. As I remember back to my best Christmas memories they were the times we spent together. As a kid, my dad would drive us all around through the neighborhood looking at the Christmas lights, or the times spending Christmas Eve as family together. We would first go to Chestnut Level’s candle light service and then return to mom and dad’s house for homemade cookies and punch and conversation. Oh to hear my father’s voice again! One cannot wrap up in sparkly paper the things that really mean the most!

      If there’s one time of the year when people shop with their heart, not their head, it’s the holiday season. Emotional spending during the holidays is often the tipping point that pushes people over the edge financially, as common sense can take a backseat during this time of the year.

     The NFCC offers the following five reminders of the long-term consequences of over-spending, some of which can last far after the lights are taken down and the tinsel is packed away.

  • Paying additional interest – Adding new debt to an existing debt load, one which cannot be paid in full when the bill arrives, equals paying a larger dollar amount of interest due to the higher outstanding balance. Even worse, when a balance is carried over from month-to-month on an account, interest is paid on the previous months’ interest. People often boast of buying an item on sale, then pay for it over time, thus wiping out any savings.
  • Diminished future borrowing power – An increased level of debt decreases the amount of credit currently available, and could cause lenders to decline applications for new lines of credit or loans. Since no one knows what the future holds, not being in a position to tap into new credit is something to guard against.
  • Diminished future buying power – Buying on credit is a contractual agreement to pay the debt later, often with money that has yet to be earned. Committing tomorrow’s money for today’s expenses could compromise future spending.
  • Lower credit score – Excessive debt often leads to paying late, skipping payments, and utilizing too high a percentage of open credit, all of which could lower your credit score. Further, applying for new lines of credit simply to save money on today’s purchase will not only increase the temptation to spend, but will show as an inquiry on the credit report, potentially lowering the score.
  • Debt interferes with life – Debt is a 24/7 problem, distracts people from their job and home-life, interrupts sleep, and potentially causes marital strife. 

     Consumers would be well-served to take stock of their current debt obligations before adding to them. Continuing to pay for holiday expenses well into the New Year doesn’t create the kind of holiday memories anyone wants.

     Final thought, Christmas is a time to celebrate the birth of our Savior. Jesus was not born to offer an excuse to be in financial bondage; He came offering the free gift of salvation.

 Wishing you a Merry and Debt-Free Christmas!

Connie Hanten, BCMCLC
New Hope Life Coach