Volume XV Issue I: Women of the Bible

I wrote about Anna for the “Women of the Bible” section of the Volume XV Issue I edition of the PCC Scroll.

Name: Anna
Meaning: Grace
Her Character: Anna was a devout woman who spent her widowhood praising and worshipping God in the Temple day and night.
Her Sorrow: Anna was widowed after seven years of marriage.
Her Triumph: Anna lived to see the baby Jesus in the temple, and she was able to praise God for His gift to man.

Anna was the daughter of Phanuel, and she was of the tribe of Asher. When she is mentioned in the Bible, she was 84-years old. She had been married, but her husband died after seven years of marriage, and she was childless. After becoming widowed, she dedicated her life to serving God and lived at the Temple in Jerusalem. She lived during a period when the Roman Empire was strong, and Rome had little use for and was quite opposed to the idea of a coming Messiah.

Like Miriam, Deborah, and Huldah, Anna was a prophet and a Godly woman. In the role of prophet, she did not necessarily prophesize the future. The title means that she was very devout and close to God. She cared deeply about Israel and the way Israel dealt with her God. Anna may have served as a deaconess or Sister of Charity.

The Bible says Anna never left the Temple. She spent her time there praising and worshipping God day and night. While in the Temple, Anna would have listened to the readings of the scrolls and sacred scriptures that were read there. She strongly and firmly believed in the prophecies of the scriptures, and she was waiting in earnest for the coming Messiah.

Anna, like Simeon (who is featured in “Men of the Bible”), was in the Temple when Mary and Joseph brought the baby Jesus to be dedicated to God. When she saw the child in Simeon’s arms, she gave thanks to God. Anna recognized Jesus as the Messiah. She proclaimed to those in the temple that the baby was the Messiah – the Hope of Israel, and the Redeemer of the world. As a Jewish elder, she would have been respected, and her prophetic words would have carried extra weight.

Anna’s existence was on a plain much different than most of us. She has been described as unearthly. Anna had an intimacy with God that few reach. She had a deeper insight and clarity into the things of God. Her entire existence involved prayer, worship, and fasting. She was quite spiritual. She had no need or use for any earthly preoccupations or material possessions. Her life did not contain any distractions from her created purpose of praise, worship, and prayer. She spent her life living out her purpose and gift.

Anna is a wonderful example of living in expectation for the promises of God. Even in her twilight years, she held on to the hope that she would see the Messiah. Like Anna, even in the twilight of our years or circumstances, God’s will and promises will come to pass for us. Anna is a living example. She is also an example of the importance of hearing and listening to the wisdom, advice, and experiences of those who have walked dedicated and prayerful lives with God.

Volume XV Issue I: Men of the Bible

I wrote about Simeon for the “Men of the Bible” section of Volume XV Issue I edition of the PCC Scoll.

Name: Simeon
Meaning: Hearing
His Character: Simeon was a devout man who spent much of his time in the Temple.
His Sorrow: Simeon waited patiently and long to see the Christ child.
His Triumph: Simeon lived to see the Christ child as was promised to him by the Holy Spirit.
Key Scriptures: Luke 2:22-38

We do not know much about Simeon’s life. We do not know about his family (was he married and did he have any children) or from which tribe he was descended from. The Bible does, however, describe Simeon as righteous and devout. According to Luke 2:25, he was eagerly awaiting the Messiah’s arrival and rescue of Israel. The Bible also says that the Holy Spirit was upon Simeon and had promised him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. This is a promise Simeon held on to even in his older years.

Simeon’s story picks up in the second chapter of Luke at the Temple in Jerusalem. Mary and Joseph had brought the baby Jesus to the Temple for the purification offering that was required by the Law of Moses after the birth of a child. Simeon was led to the Temple that day. So we know that unlike Anna (who is featured in “Women of the Bible”) he did not live in the Temple.

When Simeon saw the baby Jesus, he took the baby from his parents and into his arms and began praising God. He said, “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.” Simeon’s song is often called “Nunc Dimittis.”

Mary and Joseph were amazed. Simeon affirmed to Mary and Joseph that their child was a gift from God to the world. Simeon recognized Jesus as the Messiah who was the light of the world. Simeon blessed Mary and Joseph. Simeon went on to say to Mary, “Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”

Simeon’s prophetic words to Mary spoke of the polarizing impact of Jesus’ life and ministry, which is evident even in the days that we live in. There seems to have never been any neutral ground. People have either embraced and accepted Christ, or they have rejected Him.

Simeon is an example of living in expectation for the promises of God. Even though very old, Simeon never lost his hope that he would see the Messiah as promised by the Holy Spirit. I am sure there were times when he wondered, ‘How long, God?’ But he held on to the promise, and he was able to bear witness to the baby Jesus being the expected Messiah. As a Jewish elder, Simeon would have been respected, and his words would have carried extra weight in his proclamation of the baby being the promised Messiah.

Simeon is also an example of the importance of hearing and listening to the wisdom, advice, and experiences of those who have walked dedicated and prayerful lives with God.

Volume XV Issue I – Your Money Matters

This is the article I wrote for the “Your Money Matters” section of the Volume XV Issue I edition of the PCC Scroll.

While I was growing up, the aunt that raised me and my sisters was consistently a giver. It is something that I marvel at now that I am an adult. We were poor, but she was always sharing with others in some way. This became most evident and clear during the major holidays (like Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter). She would make turkey, dressing, yams etc. and make pie after pie. Then she would send plates and (whole) pies to people she knew who were shut-in or alone (who didn’t want to come out). I don’t think she was ever in a place to loan money, but she helped in the way that she could.

This is the great thing about giving. It is something we can all do regardless of how little or much we make financially. There are plenty of ways to give and plenty of people in need in our community. We can be creative in how we give to the causes or needs we feel the most passionate about.

For example, if you feel a calling to help the homeless in our community, there are numerous ways you could help. The help could be done by providing packed breakfasts or lunches once a month in a park. The help could be done by making hygiene kits to give out. The help could also be done by volunteering in a soup kitchen once a week or month. The help could be done by purchasing scarf, glove, and hat sets and taking them to a shelter. Bigger items like sleeping bags, coats, and blankets are also needed during the cold months. You could assist a shelter in doing a drive for these much needed items.

Another way to give to those in need is to give to food banks or bring food to PCC for our ongoing food drive. We joke about “government” cheese, peanut butter, beans, etc., but I can remember eating those things growing up, and they came from a food bank model. I can remember my aunt making macaroni and cheese with government cheese and Top Ramen (I am smiling at this memory). Giving to food banks could be as simple as deciding you are going to spend $5 every week or month to buy canned food, beans, rice, or baby food to help those in need. Individually, it might not seem like a lot, but collectively that is a lot of food! Food banks are especially in need during the summer months and school breaks when children are at home and not getting the free or reduced breakfast and/or lunch they would have normally gotten at school.

Maybe you have a passion for children. You could volunteer your time to read to kids in the hospital. If time is an issue, you can buy books for kids who are in the hospital. You could also donate supplies or books to a school or volunteer your time there in some capacity. If you have children, perhaps you could donate clothes, toys, and books your kids have outgrown to a program that serves children in need.

And remember you can also donate your services. If you are a lawyer, doctor, accountant, or life coach, those specialties can be donated to help people who are in need who can’t afford the service. You could also look into donating your talents to nonprofit groups who may not have the staff to do presentations, graphics, etc.

It could also be as simple as cleaning out your closet. Perhaps you have clothes that can be donated to Dress for Success.

We have just experienced the frenzied time of year between Thanksgiving and Christmas, which feels like the time of the year that people tend to give the most. Of course, there is need throughout the year. We may not be millionaires, but I think we all have a lot to give. I would encourage you to make 2016 a year about using your gifts, talents, and resources to serve and give to those in need.

Volume XV Issue I: Fit for the Kingdom

This is the article I wrote for the “Fit for the Kingdom” section of the Volume XV Issue I edition of the PCC Scroll.

Working out does not have to be expensive or time consuming. To save monetarily, it is just a matter of looking around you and using what is easily, freely, or cheaply accessible. To save time, it’s a matter of adding in a bunch of little things that count over the course of the day.

Working out outdoors has benefits. Studies have shown that being in nature reduces stress and depression, leads to faster healing time and less need for medication, and helps you sleep better. Walking and jogging are both something we can do free and outdoors. Of course living in the PNW, sometimes rain may prevent our being motivated to doing outdoor activity. In that case, walking around the mall or your job could also do the trick. Whether inside or outside, you could also tackle a bunch of stairs. One of my coworkers quit her gym and spends 30 minutes walking up and down the stairs in her apartment building. She is able to fit her workout in when it’s most convenient to her schedule, and it is free.

When it comes to weight training, you don’t have to join a gym or buy a bunch of equipment that ends up sitting in the corner after a few months. We can use our bodies as weight to do things like planks, push-ups, and sit-ups. There are also tried and true exercises like squats, lunges, jumping jacks, burpees, mountain climbers, etc. A jump rope could also be a small but effective investment. Also, look around you for things you can use as weights such as cans of food at home or big rocks in nature. You could do shoulder raises, overhead presses, triceps kickbacks, and bicep curls with them. You could also use a sturdy chair for tap ups or to do sit down/jump up exercises. You could even do heel raises while brushing your teeth, rinsing dishes, or washing your hands.

There are also things that require some investment. There are outside activities like riding your bike or gardening. Both will help you get some much needed Vitamin N (Nature). Riding your bike can also be used as a time to get together with family or friends while exercising. In the same vein, we do a lot of socializing while eating. So instead of meeting your friends for lunch, why not meet them for a walk in the park? When gardening, be careful about how you are bending because you don’t want to injure yourself. Another small investment could be to invest in workout DVDs that you like. You may want to have a variety from Zumba to MixxedFit to Pilates to Yoga.

There are also tricks to sneaking in steps like parking far from the entrance when you go to various places and taking the stairs whenever possible. If you ride the bus, getting off a stop or two earlier could give you a few minutes of exercise that will significantly add up over the course of days and weeks.

Don’t forget that cleaning is also a low impact activity that expends energy. When cleaning, be careful about how you are bending because you don’t want to injure yourself.

And don’t forget dancing. Sometimes when I am at home, I will turn on music and just dance. It’s great exercise! Our very own Sister Deidre Daymon teaches MixxedFit on Monday and Wednesday evenings at 6:00 at the Rainier Community Center (off of Rainier and Alaska). See her for more information.

n outside, be sure to wear plenty of sunscreen. Also, remember to involve your friends and family. It’s a great time to interact and a great way to add some accountability into your routine.

Volume XV Issue I: Word of the Quarter

This is the “Word of the Quarter” article I wrote for the Volume XV Issue I edition of the PCC Scroll.

In the NIV, I Peter 4:10-11 says, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.”

God has given each of us different talents, gifts, abilities, and passions. Each of our gift-sets are shaped uniquely to our personalities and backgrounds, and each is so important to the body of Christ. As 1 Peter 4:10-11 says, our gifts are to serve others. If we look up the word gift, it has two meanings. One is, “a natural ability or talent.” The other is, “a thing given willingly to someone without payment; a present.” The gifts (natural abilities or talents) that come from God are gifts (things you give willingly to someone without payment) and talents you give to your community through service.

1 Corinthians 12:4-6 lets us know that there are a variety of gifts and that it is God who empowers us to operate in them. And this is comforting. The word gift lets us know that what we have been given is not for ourselves. God fuses our gifts and talents with His supernatural power. 1 Corinthians 12 goes on to say in verses 27-28 that we are all part of the body of Christ. We all have a different, important part to play. We can’t stress enough how each part is needed and significant.

This gifting is a two-way street. Not only do your gifts and talents benefit and serve those around you, there are also people around you whose gifts and talents benefit you. Perhaps you need to receive a word of exhortation or encouragement. Perhaps you need to hear a prophetic word about a situation in your life. This gift would come from your brother or sister in Christ.

Your gifts and talents are so needed! Whatever your gifts and talents, God gave them to you to give back to others. Your gifts and talents can be likened to the Parable of the Talents. A talent is useless unless it is used. If you have the gift of healing but never use the gift, the body is denied a much needed ministry.

If you are shy and hesitant about using your gifts and talents, know that each time you use them, they grow (like muscles). To return to the Parable of the Talents, the servant who buried his talent lost it. It was given to another who had invested what had been given to him. In the parable, those who invested their talents received more. Any investment made in the Kingdom of God will be returned to you because God will grow it. Your gifts and talents will make room for you and take you to places you have never imagined.

We all have things we are talented and gifted in. Let us spend 2016 and beyond maximizing the investment God put in us to the fullest. Don’t bury your (gifts and) talents!

Volume XV Issue I: Editor’s Corner

This is the “Editor’s Corner” I wrote for the Volume XV Issue I edition of the PCC Scroll.

I would encourage all of you to stir up and use the gifts and talents God has given to you. This particular call and article is geared toward those with the gift, talent, and passion for writing. It is a call to use your gift and talent to participate in the next PCC anthology.

The Call for Submission will be from January 1 to March 31 with the goal to have the book finished and published late 2016 or early 2017. I am very excited about this. If you are curious about the first anthology, it is available on Amazon.com in paperback, hardback, and Kindle formats. I also have some paperback copies for sale. Also, feel free to approach me with any questions. I would be happy to answer them.

The written word is such a gift to humanity with the power to stir and move the reader. Since I was a young child, I have loved the written word. I always enjoyed reading and writing. In elementary school, junior high school, and high school, I would spend my breaks in the library being taken to other worlds and caught up in the writers’ emotions.

As a freshman at the UW, I entered the university as a psych major. It became (painfully) obvious to me that I had no passion or interest in the subject. I changed my degree to English with a writing emphasis and spent my studies writing and reading, which I loved with all of my being.

When the PCC Women’s Scroll was birthed 15 years ago, I was very excited. As the years progressed, a love of editing was also birthed, which was somewhat unexpected. But it is a skill set that continues to be developed. Each quarter, it has been a joy to write and edit. As the years have progressed, I have found myself interested in helping and developing other writers, which again has been unexpected. But it shows that the plans God has for us are ones that we can’t imagine for ourselves.

If you are a writer, you do have a story to share, words of encouragement to give, and the unique gift of being able to create a world of your own creation. You have the power to move your reader with emotions.

The written word is a gift to writers. Writing is so personal. To give birth to a body of work is such a marvelous accomplishment. To express and release emotions and thoughts is such a therapeutic exercise.

If you are a writer, I encourage you to submit something! It could be poetry, a short story, an essay, or part of a larger project. I would love to hear from you! It will be an opportunity to leave a published body of work and share your gift and talent.

Keep Calm and Write On!