Advent Season, Hannukah, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, 12 Days of Christmas, St. Stephan’s Day
December is rich with meaning and it’s spelled LOVE. This isn’t the warm, mushy,squishy, wishy washy love. The love that God actually gave to you and me must have much greater substance than that. Give any one of us a bad day and we can do serious damage to the mushy squishy love. The love God gave, gives and will continue to give to us can and has withstood the tests of evil, death, nastiness, hate, loss, grief, anger, threat, indifference, life, chaos, and so much more, imaginable and unimaginable.
So, what does this love look like? Where have we witnessed it? When have we shared it with others?
God’s love, agape, works to overturn the injustices we tend to normalize.
- Asking why doesn’t he stop abusing her (rather than why doesn’t she leave) AND then getting the answer and working to force him and others like him to stop.
- Running a food bank and setting it up to respect the people who use it.
- Creating a community where there truly is housing that people of all income levels can afford.
These are not easy things to do. Most of us can’t even agree on what’s appropriate. Agape love is messy, it’s risky and has cost. Agape does, agape gets up, rolls up it’s sleeves and gets to work for the good of all. Agape love respects each person as one of God’s very own beloved. Agape love understands each person as one of inherent worth and continues regardless of any resistance. Agape is also something that we participate in as God’s very own beloved. If we truly believe in God and have a living relationship with God then we are continually called or urged by God to live out this life giving love.
I’ve seen this love when a couple adopted a teenage girl, almost ready to age out of the system. They did this for her benefit and yes, they loved her with familial love too.
After Irma, many families have been homeless. There was a lady who reached out to another lady and her little girl who were living in their car because their home was gone. The three of them are now living together until the woman and her daughter can get back on their feet.
What examples of agape have you seen?
Did you know October is “Domestic Violence Awareness Month”?
Who wants to increase their awareness of something so awful? Most people prefer not to even think about it … that is, until someone they love is touched by it. Did you know that no matter what your role in the community, you can make a difference with just a few simple adjustments.
With the Kavanaugh case hot on our minds, this is a good time to refresh ourselves on how we believe we should treat other people.
Most Christians will agree that we should treat other people as children of God always. However, wouldn’t it be nice if it were just that easy? While our intentions may be good, our choice of words or actions may not be as good as we think. It’s not always easy to try to hear ourselves as the person to whom we’re speaking hears us.
For instance: Never say, “the first time he’d hit me I’d be out of there.” You haven’t experienced what your friend has. By the time the abuser gets their victim to the hitting phase, they’ve conditioned their victim to accept it. I know how unbelievable this sounds, but abusers are very good at what they do. Their victims can be doctors, lawyers, teachers, professionals, blue collar workers, homemakers, rich or poor they do not discriminate.
Here’s a few things you can do now to help:
- Simply don’t laugh at jokes about abuse in the family. When with friends and someone says : You better get home before your wife beats you with a frying pan.
- Always tell other women and especially girls that they deserve to be treated with respect.
- Complement teen age girls for the good they do and positive things about their behavior. Not just your children, but anyone’s children. Who’s going to complain when you’re complementing their child.
- Discourage gossip.
- Support your local Abuse Shelter. You could donate money, clothing, time, or even in kind services.
In the Church:
- Clergy use sermon illustrations with women as the hero’s instead of victims.
- Don’t treat the children as children. Treat them as members of God’s family with something to say.
- Teach about the women in the Bible and their amazing strengths.
- Teach about important women of our day whose faith has made a difference.
- Post the various wheels everywhere and talk about them.
- Invite the local Abuse Shelter or Victim Advocates to come speak.
- Study scripture to see how Jesus treated women vs how the culture of Biblical times treated women.
- Celebrate the contributions of the women in your congregation.
- Children’s programs: ie from SAMHSA
What to do when talking with someone who is in an abusive situation:
- DO NOT JUDGE
- Get person into safety FIRST!
- Listen (active listening)
- Establish a trust relationship
- Tell her she doesn’t deserve to be treated that way.
- Compliment person
- Be aware of the negative messages she may have received from her church
- Do not rush victim into forgiveness
- Do not ask why she stays
- Affirm her worth
- Be aware that if an employee is receiving lots of calls from spouse or gifts delivered to work from spouse they might be in a situation of abuse. Before assuming otherwise, be sure to make yourself familiar with what is going on with your employees. An open door policy is very helpful in these cases. The employee is not going to share with you if they are afraid of losing their job or a reprimand from you.
- At staff meetings, let your employees know that you will stand with any employee who is in an abusive relationship. Invite them to share this information with you so you can be helpful to them.
- Have the phone number of the local abuse shelter (DAS in the Keys) on hand. If one of your employees is being stalked move them to a position where they do not have to answer the front phone or sit in the lobby or close to it.
- Treat any visiting abusive spouse the same way you would anyone disrupting your office. Do not let them have access to your employee. Establish a protocol ahead of time.
When victims feel that their community has their backs, they will be more empowered to better their lives.
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
Thank you to all our amazing supporters!
Together we raised over $1100! We ate, shared and bought 5 different kinds of cheesecakes (6 cheesecakes in total), Greek and Lebanese Baklava, 2 kinds of Biscotti, 6 different kinds of cookies, 4 different kinds of cakes (13 cakes in total), Caramel Pecan Rolls, fudge, 50 peanut butter balls, brownies, 20 chocolate cherry muffins along with tea (hot and cold) and water.
AND WHO COULD EVER FORGET THE AUCTION!! Have you ever laughed so hard? Here’s the final bids:
Lebanese Baklava $34
Caramel Pecan Rolls $30
Mango Cheesecake $40.75
Peanut Butter Brownie Cheesecake $44
Greek Bakalava Cheesecake $50
16 full counseling scholarships or countless partial scholarships for your neighbors
or 5 neighbors who are able to afford their medications
or a fully paid 8 week Parenting Class for anyone interested
Our Sponsors :
Key Largo Auto Repair
That sweet tooth is calling. If we’re going to live in paradise we might as well enjoy ourselves too.
Imagine …. Cookies
Caramel Pecan Rolls All kinds of Breads!
all of it HOMEMADE!
and to top it off…
This will SUPPORT local CHARITY!
and you can sample almost everything
Prior to the auction, you can also purchase whole cakes/ pies/ breads to take with you.
Additionally, CODA PIRATE will be auctioning
Delectable Homemade Specialties.
Saturday, August 11
Location MM 93 Oceanside
(Burton Memorial UMC)
Desserts Desserts Desserts!
$10 ticket to sample everything! Even if you are unable to attend, purchase a ticket to donate so someone else can enjoy the fun. Profits will be used to match grants.
Tickets also available at:
or Call 305.942.4226
Thank you to our Sponsors:
Key Largo Auto Repair
Immigration has been a difficult issue since humanity began. The Bible addresses immigration from numerous points of concern as early as Genesis. Even though most agree that the book of Job is the oldest book of the Bible, Genesis actually addresses the creation stories. Claims to land and/or people, culture is the point of contention in many of our Biblical stories as well as issues of today. My point being, we humans have had issues about “us” vs “them”, “ours” and “not yours” as far back as we know. And YES, we, the United States must fix our horribly flawed immigration system. However, none of that is the issue when we are talking about “Keeping Families Together”.
Let us not confuse the real issue with finger pointing, name calling, political rhetoric, or any other pet issue. What we are really talking about is way too important to diffuse our focus. We are talking about the unnecessary removal of immigrant children from their caretakers/parents when arriving at the US border.” Are the US immigration laws/system in terrible disarray? Absolutely, but one thing we know is that unnecessarily separating children from their parents at the border is inexcusable regardless if the families are presented as legally trying to cross the border or illegally. Children are innocents and must always be protected.
“It may be true that morality can’t be legislated, but behavior can be regulated. It may be that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can restrain him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty important also,” The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said in a 1966 speech at Southern Methodist University.
We can and must work together to protect children. Stripping children from their families is a terribly traumatic experience that will affect each child for life. And this is the country they are running to for safety, betterment, hope; that is doing this to them. God calls us Christians to :
37 Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. 38 This is the first and most important commandment. 39 The second most important commandment is like this one. And it is, “Love others as much as you love yourself.” 40 All the Law of Moses and the Books of the Prophets+ are based on these two commandments. (Matthew 22)
If we Christians truly look to God’s Word to guide our behaviors, let’s look at what the Bible says:
Exodus 22:21 – Moses gives God’s law: “You shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien; for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.”
Leviticus 19:33-34 and 24:22 – When the alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”
Deuteronomy 10:18-19 – “For the Lord your God…loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing. You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”
Ecclesiastes 4:1 – “Look, the tears of the oppressed—with no one to comfort them.”
Jeremiah 7:5-7 – “If you do not oppress the alien…then I will dwell with you in this place…”
Jeremiah 22:3-5 – Do no wrong or violence to the alien.
Zechariah 7:8-10 – Do no oppress the alien.
Matthew 25:31-46 – “…I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”
Luke 4:16-21 – “…Bring good news to the poor…release to the captives…sight to the blind…let the oppressed go free.”
Romans 12:13 – “Mark of the true Christian: “…Extend hospitality to strangers…”
II Corinthians 8:13-15 – “It is a question of a fair balance between your present abundance and their need…”
Ephesians 2:11-22 – “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God.”
Hebrews 11 – “By faith Abraham…set out for a place…not knowing where he was going.”
Hebrews 13:1-2 – “…show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels…
I don’t know about you, but as for me and my household, we will love faithfully, live peacefully, give generously, forgive gracefully, play joyfully, pray daily, and serve the Lord in all things.
What a strange word : Koinonia
This Greek word has no direct parallel in English. Often people will translate it as fellowship, but that’s like saying the earth is a big blue marble.
God calls us saying, “Abide in my love, agape.” The One who created us also appointed us to bear fruit. Jesus told his disciples, us, that we are not his servants, rather we are his friends, his beloved. We are called to love one another.
I don’t know about you but, WOW. Life is so very hard. People can be just plain mean and scary. How do we love someone like that? What is this love God calls us to live out? What is the nature of this intimacy we are to live in with others? I’ll be happy to give anyone an orange, but I don’t think that’s the fruit God’s talking about. The Divine must be talking about spiritual fruit: love, peace, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Ok, I can do that on a good day with those I love. But wow, on a bad day or with a mean person. UGH
Our salvation doesn’t depend on our behavior. Thanks be to God. However, when we claim this incredibly gracious gift offered to us how can we do any less than respond with joy. While life is hard and people are so often downright mean, we can daily do our best to be who God created us to be. Yes, we will fail from time to time, but the more we try to live as who God created us to be and the more we support and encourage one another to do the same the better life will be.
Living as the Koinonia means that we live focused, on the hope God not only promises but has won for us, as if we are in that ‘kindom’ now, already but not yet. Living continually in solidarity of suffering and sharing these spiritual fruits and gifts with everyone. The more we strive to live this way, the more our lives are led toward a reconciling character that is able to confront conflict and even violence, within our relationships and circumstances around us. The love that we would choose to live in is not a stagnant love, rather it is a transforming and powerful love. AND we would not be alone ever.
Koinonia can only be lived out in relationship with God, self and all others. This does not mean we would have to be all the same (what a terrible thought). This means that we would strive to continually live respecting our differences as enhancements of one another sort of like a team. Each team member has different skill sets, different personalities, different looks in fact most everything is different; however, they choose to work together toward a common purpose. Wouldn’t that be an amazing way to live?
The absolute last thing any of us want to think about is another disaster. As we’re still spinning from Hurricane Irma, working toward recovery, we’re exhausted, frustrated, overwhelmed and here in the Upper Keys, desperately short on resources. Unfortunately, funders and donors continue to support larger Lower Keys organizations rather than the smaller, yet very capable, organizations of the Upper Keys. Thank goodness for the Landau’s for designating their donation directly for the Upper Keys. We will remember your kindness and direct action on behalf of your community, your neighbors. Thank you. Yes, Lower Keys orgs promise they will share but rarely does the resource ever actually get to the Upper Keys. So what are we to do?
We must pull together, work together to support one another and prepare ourselves against the event of another disaster. We must continue to do our best to attract resources to the Upper Keys. Each of us in the Upper Keys has something to offer to our neighbors and our community depends on each of us participating, caring and doing. Our goal is hope, community and loving one another.
What can you contribute? Your time, energy, extra furniture, an extra room someone can stay, donation, a service, …? Your neighbors need you.
Living Springs has provided more Rx assistance since Irma than we’ve ever provided in any one year in the past. Currently we are out of funds. We also are providing an unprecedented amount of low cost Pastoral Counseling. Anyone who’s household income is $20,000 or lower only pays $5 a session. Over $20,000 we offer a very fair sliding scale. Regardless our sessions cost us $70. Currently we have no funding to cover our loss. Regardless we will continue to offer low cost Pastoral Counseling because this is our mission and we believe in our community. How can we do this? Because our staff prefers to serve as volunteers so that our vital services can continue to be offered. We continue to seek funding to cover our services AND our staff, but until that happens our dedicated staff offers service because it is vital to our Upper Keys community.
If you are a representative of an organization or business, you might want to check out the Ready Rating website from the Red Cross. Just click on the Ready Rating seal above and it will walk you through an assessment to make sure you’ve thought of and prepared for everything needed.
Do you have something you’d like to offer to your neighbors but don’t quite know how to offer it? Please fill out this confidential form and either Pam or Evelyn will get back to you.
Spring, with it’s wonderful bursting forth with life, is on its way. The air is warming, the rains are nourishing, blossoms are budding, bees are buzzing, birds are singing. In fact, have you noticed that here in the Keys the birds even sing in the middle of the night? I’ve lived many places but this is the only place where the birds are so happy they sing even in the dark.
Our surviving trees are budding like never before. Soppadilla,mangoes, calamondin, moringa, starfruit, holy basil, figs, lemons, cherries, avocados and more are preparing to nourish us and our friends. Buds are everywhere. Hope springs forth once again. My garden of tomatoes, white bush squash, okra, brussel sprouts, rosemary, sage, thyme, sweet mint, chocolate mint, basil, oregano, sweet bell peppers, rue, and cabbage is flourishing.
Sharing in whatever goodness we have is the key to good and healthy living. Surrounding ourselves with others who are striving toward health and goodwill is a sure way to increase our joy and sustenance. Yes, we have all been negatively affected by Irma. But we don’t have to stay there.
All those ugly emotions can be processed and make way for hope and joy, in fact, hope and joy that can be sustained even in the midst of trials. Well, ok joy that is experienced as peace. The first step is to recognize how we are being today. So many of Keys neighbors are angry, scared, hungry, frustrated, ______ (you fill in the blank). This is a normal reaction to an abnormal experience. The healthy thing to do is to work through it with an objective healthy trained third party: a pastor, rabbi, pastoral counselor, mental health counselor, spiritual director. And there are plenty right here who are waiting, willing and affordable even for those who can’t afford help. Truly.
Invest in you and your future. Vote for health and happiness. It really can be real for you and your family and friends. Living Springs Counseling is here waiting for your call: 305.432.9554 or email: PamF@DOLPHINSLivingSprings.org
We will help you take healthy steps forward.
Everything we do is done by volunteers. Even our Executive Director is a volunteer. Our volunteers help with fundraisers, booths at local events, our recovery work for the Upper Keys, speaking at churches, meetings, local events about what we do.
If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer contact us through the form below and Pam will call you.
Please fill out this form to volunteer. This will go directly to Pam’s email and she will contact you.