Five More Practical Gift Ideas for Your Pastor, Clergy, or Seminary Student

Three years ago, I wrote possibly my most-popular blog article ever, Five Practical Gift Ideas for Your Pastor or Seminary Student. Today, I’m writing this while on a 1-month spiritual renewal leave. This renewal leave is a true gift, and I’m grateful to be clergy in a system that has it built in and to … Read more

Five Gift Ideas for Self-Care, Peace, and Empowerment

I scheduled this to debut on Thanksgiving Day because there are thousands of people who are out there working so, so hard to be a good host today. They’ve put in the time, energy, and emotional investment to clean that house, set up those tables, and cook up that food so you feel welcomed. If … Read more

Five More Practical Gift Ideas for Engaged or Newlywed Couples

I love officiating weddings. This year, I had the blessing of officiating four weddings, the most in one year for me since pandemic. One was outdoors and hot, one was outdoors and cold, one was indoors because of rain but with open-air wall-sized doors pulled open, and one was outdoors and a remarriage and the … Read more

Five Games That Won’t Turn Family Game Night Into Family Fight Night

Our family likes games. Our family doesn’t like fighting. It’s interesting how a simple game can get people riled up. Like, okay: picture Monopoly. Picture everyone at the table playing. Are people having a good time? Is everybody having a good time?! In your mind’s eye, is that game board still on the table or … Read more

Mission 2018 Day 05: On the Farm

It was a unique day for our team, Dear Reader, as all 20 people on the mission team from Hennepin Avenue UMC, Richfield UMC, and Northfield UMC got together on the same work sites. Read on to learn about what it was like down on the farm. And the other farm!
Farming Hope in the Heart of the City
D-Town Farms is an urban farm focusing on food justice for its community. Growing a variety of crops, from scallions and cabbages to garlic and beyond, this mighty effort isn’t just growing food but awareness and empowerment. The farm itself is city-owned land they lease and there’s plenty of space as it was a former tree nursery back in the day. Now, they cultivate crops to sell at local markets and their own Saturday sales on-site. The most popular crops include okra, kale, and collards but beyond the crops getting grown on purpose there are plenty of edible “weeds” throughout the farm and we got to try

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Mission 2018 Day 04: Go Tigers!

Today was a “half day” but a full day, Dear Reader! Read on for updates on morning work projects, afternoon outings, and a night at the ballpark.
Rippling Hope Spreading Far and Wide
Team #2 went to work with Rippling Hope for the morning. Started by husband-and-wife missionary team Carl and Robin, they kicked this ministry off 8 years ago after working with many church ministries throughout their lives. However, when funding shifted they were invited to Detroit to try something new and here they are to stay. How do we know? They just bought a house and are planting roots in the community they’re trying to help cultivate into something beautiful. I admire their courage and their trust in Jesus!
Much of their work is in home repair, beautification projects like Free Little Libraries, plus a lot of work for animals. There are cat colonies all over the city, because sadly as homes become abandoned so do animals. Dogs and cats are wild and need change, too. Rippling Hope creates outdoor cat shelters (almost like Free Little Libraries without the stand) and work with the Animal Human Society to do TNR work. That’s “Trap, Neuter, Release.” They help trap the cats, the AHS neuters and spays for free, and they’re released to the same areas they know. Our work with the animals came in the form of hauling bags and bags of donated and low-cost bags of dog food and unloading a pallet of cat food bowls to donate to local residents. Our main work was at Ms. Stafford’s home.
Many homes have a run-down look on the outside. The tough part about that is if it looks a little rough outside, the interior is likely more than a little rough, especially the parts one can’t immediately see where rotting, etc. can take place. Still, without a lot of money to get to the much-needed renovations and upgrades, some organizations are doing priority repairs (stairs, for example) and beautification to build pride and rebuild morale until major repairs can be done. That was our job today at Ms. Stafford’s home. We broke into two groups, with 8 of us chipping then repainting the wide porch to give her home a cleaner, brighter look. The stairs had just been repaired by another group and that’s key: you can’t make it to dialysis 3-4 times a week if you can’t get out of your house! I appreciate Rippling Hope making practical repairs a priority.
Meanwhile, Jenna and I headed inside to replace and/or install a series of smoke detectors throughout the home. At one point, we needed an extra 9-volt battery, so we hopped in the van and ended up with an extra tour of the city. We saw several giant buildings, now shallow husks of yesteryear. Smashed windows, overgrown razor wire fencing, crumbling concrete barriers. One giant factory had the gates wide open. Anyone could walk in there, including little kids, which frightens me a bit. We also saw a few homes which had

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