Lent Devotional: Remember

Can you remember when God carried you through something very difficult?

Every week, members of New World United Methodist Church come around a table at a local family shelter for an evening of fellowship, prayer and creating art. Residents in the shelter are there for many different reasons – job losses, deaths in the family, fleeing domestic violence, unexpected illnesses or other expenses.

Art brings people together. The act of creating art has a powerful way of bringing about calm, healing and empowerment. We choose to create art with residents of a local shelter because many of the families are in desperate need of space for calm, connection, dignity and love.

Each week we have a different project and a different theme. In the picture, we are creating very special prayer beads, “ebenezer beads.” You might recognize the word “ebenezer” from the hymn “Come, Thou Font of Every Blessing.” My favorite verse goes like this:

Here I raise my Ebenezer
Here there by Thy help I come
And I hope by Thy good pleasure
Safely to arrive at home

What in the world is an ebenezer, you ask, and why are we raising one? The Hebrew word literally means “stone of help.” The song is a reference to the book of 1 Samuel:

Samuel took a stone and set it up . . . and called its name Ebenezer; for he said, “Till now the Lord has helped us.”  1 Samuel 7:12

In the story, Samuel is raising a special monument in gratitude for God’s faithfulness as the Israelites defeated the powerful Philistines. Samuel wants to make sure that all who come to this place remember what God has done for God’s people. We are called to remember.

In our prayer bead project, each participant was invited to include a few handmade beads made the week before. As they pray with their beads, these special beads serve as a reminder that God will faithfully bring each family through life’s difficult times of transition.

May we all remember that God is faithful.

Prayer: Dear God, we remember the times in our life when you brought us through difficult circumstances and we thank you. We pray for people in our community who are experiencing homelessness. Lead us to be messengers of your mercy, love and grace. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.

Suggested Scripture:

I’m grateful to God, whom I serve with a good conscience as my ancestors did. I constantly remember you in my prayers day and night. When I remember your tears, I long to see you so that I can be filled with happiness.I’m reminded of your authentic faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice. I’m sure that this faith is also inside you.Because of this, I’m reminding you to revive God’s gift that is in you through the laying on of my hands.God didn’t give us a spirit that is timid but one that is powerful, loving, and self-controlled. 

2 Timothy 1:3-7

Reflection Questions:

Remember a time you went through something difficult. How did God bring you through that? How can you thank God for God’s faithfulness?



Retreated: 2 Things Learned This Week

This week I retreated to a camp in Glen Rose, Texas, for three days of spiritual retreat. Going on a minimum 3 day spiritual retreat is a requirement for my ordination in the United Methodist Church. I had a lot of flexibility on how the retreat itself would go.

Inspired by the TED Talk I heard from “planet walker” John Francis, I decided to incorporate silence and not using a vehicle as part of my retreat.

Two things I learned in the process:

1. It is relatively easy to be silent when you’re by yourself, but it is a challenge to be around people without feeling pressured to say something. For most of my time away, I was on the camp by myself. I went for a long walks, I hiked through the forest, I spent time creating art and reading. I was quiet.

In the silence, I was able to rest. I was able to just be, just listen. I noticed things I might have overlooked – the smell of dew in the morning, the sound of deer as they scamper away, even the sound of a bird’s wings flapping. I ate when I was hungry and slept when I was tired.

On the few occasions I walked in to town, people were friendly and I felt compelled to speak. The person I talked to the longest, an elderly man in an antique store, seemed lonely. While a vow of silence seems like a noble idea, sometimes small talk is a compassionate act.

2. Sometimes I have to consciously choose to feel safe. One of the hardest parts about being by myself, especially as a petite female, was getting over feeling anxious about possible dangers. I had to let that fear go in order to feel at peace. The fears of unknown dangers, especially while walking alone at night in the dark, cluttered up my thoughts.

Once I made the conscious choice that I was going to feel safe, I could enjoy nature fully. I was able to pray and sing like no one could hear me. It was only then that I could fully experience God’s presence.

I think it’s worth mentioning that living in a culture that feels dangerous even if the dangers are not real makes spirituality more difficult. When I walk alone at night, a part of my brain is constantly on the lookout for possible attacks, alert for sudden movements around the corner. I cannot be the only woman who feels this way. It’s a bit heartbreaking to have to choose to feel safe. My hope is that by mentioning it we can all work together for more peace, working to create a culture of safety. (Maybe you were expecting me to learn something more profound, and I did learn other things – I spent a lot of time reading, studying, writing and creating. There will be more blog posts to come.)

“for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. ” 2 Timothy 1:7

5 Immediate Ways You Can Help St. Barnabas UMC Rebuild


I have been overwhelmed with the outreach of support for our community and church family after Tuesday’s tornado destroyed our church building.  It has been a tough couple of days – so many have told me that they feel helpless because they want to help but don’t know how to help.

Here is your opportunity the help our church and community rebuild.

Here are 5 ways you can support our church right now.

1. Prayers.

First and foremost, we need your prayers right now.  Specifically, please pray for:

  • Our church and Early Education Center staff that they can find rest and care in the midst of chaos and stress
  • For the safety of everyone who works to help
  • For long-term encouragement to our church family as we struggle to rebuild
  • For the ministries of the church to continue and strengthen as we rebuild our facilities
  • For the children and people who were traumatized by this storm
  • For our groundskeeper and master gardener Dave as clean-up work begins
  • That God be glorified and that we can continue our mission of spreading the love of Jesus Christ to our community for the transformation of the world.

2. Presence.

Our building is down, but the Church (that’s us!) is still going.

You can support our church by being there physically. Temporarily, our Sunday worship services and Sunday school are being held in the Seventh Day Adventist Church of Arlington located on the I-20 Service Road near Kelly Elliott Rd.  The Preschool is meeting at Tate Springs Baptist Church.  In the weeks to come, your presence at worship services and church ministry events will be more vital than ever.  Visit the church’s website to stay up to date on where you can be.

3. Gifts.

Financial Need: While the church’s insurance will end up covering a lot of our rebuilding costs, we still will need help financially to rebuild our church.  You can send donations by check made out to St. Barnabas UMC and designated “Rebuild” to 5011 W. Pleasant Ridge Rd., Arlington, TX 76016.  

Or you can donate online: http://sbumc.org/online_giving.html

Give to our Community: Hundreds of homes in our area were damaged this week, many families lost much of their household goods.  You can help by donating food, clothing, furniture, diapers, wipes, hygiene items, household goods and cleaning supplies to Mission Arlington, 210 W. South St., Arlington, TX 76010.  Specifically, I have learned that local food pantries need staples like peanut butter and canned goods and local families need children’s clothing.

4. Service.

UPDATE: ANYONE FROM ST. BARNABAS MEMBERSHIP who wants to volunteer, please call first to sign up or text your name and number to 682-888-6980. 

IF YOUR HOUSE WAS DAMAGED AND YOU NEED HELP WITH TRASH AND DEBRIS REMOVAL, call or text 817-505-5154 for Arlington and Kennedale residents who need help. We will do what we can to help arrange teams of volunteers to help.

Find time to volunteer to support our church’s ongoing ministries, such as the Open Arms Free Health Care Clinic.

5. Witness.

We need you to tell the world about God’s amazing work being done.  This is Easter season – there is no better time to share the Good News that Christ is Risen.  He is alive today and He is here to protect and guide us.

More than 80 preschoolers, their teachers, church volunteers and our church staff were inside the walls of St. Barnabas when a tornado destroyed much of our building.  In fact, seventeen confirmed tornados damaged homes, property, businesses in the Dallas-Fort Worth area on Tuesday, April 3.  

No one died.

Since the tornado, hundreds of people from around the country and from all denominational backgrounds have stepped up to help.  

No matter our denominational differences, we are all Brothers and Sisters in Christ.  You can help by telling others about how the Body of Christ works together.  Tell others about God being glorified in the midst of a tough situation.  Help as many people as you can as much as you can, all for the glory of God.

You can help by sharing what is needed with others you know would want to help.

We are the Church.  Our building is down, but we still stand.


(photos taken by Jayme Philp & Erin Jackson)