Tag: hope

Meeting the Need – Health Kits and Love Offerings

Health Kits UMC IMG_6947

After the rains came, and everything started to settle, it became pretty clear that things were going to be alright in much of Ridgeville, Givhans and the Lebanon Communities, but there are many places still dealing with water slowly leaving the state.  Churches and homes still getting rid of water, assessing damage, and beginning the slow process of putting life back together.

Yesterday I drove through Columbia, and it is clear with the bridges still out, and the road closures (and the water systems just coming back into full operation) that this has and will be a longer road than usual.  I’d like to say a few thanks to some of the amazing people I’ve seen helping.

(1) I’d like to thank the South Carolina UMC Conference, United Methodist Volunteers in Mission, and the Emergency Relief Teams already engaged and working across the state.  We’re blessed to have so many people from so many places putting brotherly/sisterly love into action.  (By the way there is a training tomorrow if you’d like to join those teams).  Also, thanks to the Conference and our Bishop for immediately posting information on how to get things done.

(2) I’d like to thank the churches of the Ridgeville Charge.  We’ve already made up 60 Health Kits, which were brought to the Conference Office yesterday.  (See pictures above).  I talked with the ladies there, and they said that they are shipping them out to communities fast, and these health kits are in great need.  We should continue to send them if we can, and I’ll make sure that somehow they keep getting to the Conference Office as fast as possible (drop off in the Vestibule’s of any of our Ridgeville Charge Churches.  Also – thank you for already giving so much to the Canaan UMC church on Route 61.  There are ERT teams working there, and they are worshipping at their sister church Sand Hill UMC until the church is ready to use again.  Continue to be in prayers for them, and maybe check in with anyone you know in that area and see if anyone needs anything specific.  We’ll be giving their emergency fund a love offering after this Sunday.  Make sure to invite folks back out to church for worship, and to maximize how much we can send in aid.  I’ve seen SC people coming together in the name of God, and my hope and prayer is that this will continue.  God is good!

(3) To those areas outside the affected zone, and those places out of state who have come to help and have sent bottled water.  Thank you for your prayers and generosity.  God is doing amazing things here, and I believe by prayer you are doing the best thing possible.  God is giving us all we need, and the people of SC are strong.  Pray for those without homes, send funds if you can to relief organizations (see my previous blog for more information about giving and making health kits), and keep telling us you’re thinking about us as the work continues in our hardest hit areas.

My favorite scripture verse is: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for theLord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

We have seen His mighty power, we have seen Him work through the love of so many, and our faith is putting our hands to work for our neighbors!  Blessed be the name of the Lord our God!

Before You Were Born (for Ransom)

 

Newborn

Before You Were Born

(For Ransom)

by Daniel Griswold

 

I promised myself that I would record everything when my first son, Ransom, came into the world.  I’ve become so wrapped up in the wonder, and immense life changes of fatherhood, however, and have not kept that promise and this is my moment to rectify, in a small way, that transgression against myself and my family.  This blog will be more personal than previous blogs, and there are many people in here that I am incredibly thankful for.  There are those I know I will forget (likely due to “Father’s brain” or some human frailty, but I am so thankful to you as well.  So, so thankful.  So Ransom, this is how I remember your genesis.

August 2013, Amanda (your mom), started acting a bit funny.  I can’t say exactly what tipped me off, but I began to feel like something was up.  Maybe she looked at me differently a few times.  Then, one day she came down the stairs of our home on a sunny day and said, “Guess what?”  She looked serious but smiley and expecting something from me.  I think I responded, “Are…you…pregnant?”  (Background information – Amanda had tricked me into believing a baby was on the way on a prior April Fool’s day, and it was not funny to me, so I didn’t think she’d do it a second time.  Totally ruined that day for me.)  This time it was different.  She said, “I think so.”  She had the test, and I was pretty excited about the whole prospect but also worried now.  Could it be a mistake. So we tested a few more times and guess what – you were on the way!

The next few months are a blur, but here are a few details.  You vacationed with us at Lake Junaleska in the Kilgore summer home.  We walked around the lake and talked about our future with you and pondered how different life was going to be.  We also worried a bit about money  (births are expensive), but we kept having to lean in on God’s provision.  If you were coming, God would give us a way to support you in the way you would need it.  When we came back we got some loans out and paid for a midwife group in Savannah, GA that friends had mentioned was amazing.  We wanted you to start out right and with lots of care.  The birthing center did all your checkups, we took lessons on how to know when you were coming and what to do, Amanda’s mom came and spent a bit more than a month and a half with us as we prepared, and our church family at Saint Andrew By-The-Sea UMC in Hilton Head became more and more excited!

I’m not going to lie.  I wanted you to be a boy, and my wish came true.  I’ve wanted to name you Ransom since I was in High School.  I met a young man in New York with that name, and I thought it was amazing. Your middle name Kelly, is my mom’s name, but I’d met guys who had it as their name, and I thought it was cool.  It means Warrior.  Ransom means to “Redeem”.  You are a Redeeming Warrior in my book.  I’m glad your mom liked it too.  If you had been a girl you’d have been Gwenfair, but perhaps that’ll be next.  I also prayed you would be good looking.  I think that is a tradition my grandma passed on. I remember her telling me she prayed for that and it came true of all her kids and grandkids.  Seems vain, but I thought – why not?  Overall, though, I prayed that you would be a great man of God full of faith and wisdom and compassion and justice.  I hope this comes true.

So what did we do waiting for you?  We kept exercising until Amanda couldn’t.  Running slowed and then you became so big that we had to chill a bit.  That was okay because we bought lots of ice cream.  I gained 15 lbs waiting for you (stress weight).  I wanted you to be healthy, I wanted to meet you, and everyone we talked to asked how you were doing.  As far as I could tell, you were doing good, and the doctors confirmed it.  Our church launched a second campus,  I played guitar a bit and helped lead up some new initiatives, but I slowly realized, as you were coming that I couldn’t do as much.

I let go of a few things in preparation to take care of you.  Lots of hobbies, writing, and some things that felt good to drop for a while.  I’d been doing some things for five years or more and it felt refreshing to reset for you.  All I wanted to do was see you and hang out with you.  The church was so loving and generous and we were blessed by their support as their gifts stocked you up on diapers, cute outfits and lots of gear we now use all the time.  Oh, and toys…and books!  So glad we can read to you all the amazing books full of rhymes, stories, and prayers.  I hope you really like to read.

The time started coming, and it became harder to wait.  Amanda’s mom was there so she helped out so much as it became harder for Amanda to move around the house and get around town.  She kept both of you safe and kept you both company when I was working at the church.  And as time came to your date, we prepared a kit to take down to Savannah (about 30 minutes from our house).  We thought you would be born in late February, but you didn’t think you needed to yet.  Each day we anticipated and thought, “Is this the day?”  We visited the midwives and they thought we had more time.  It wasn’t until March 16th (much later than we’d thought), and one day before we would have to have some help, at 42 weeks, you started to give signs you were ready.

Contractions began around 8 PM on March 15th and we timed them.  They were long and were becoming more regular.  We called the midwife center at about 9:30 PM, and they told us to meet them at 11 PM there.  Nancy was your midwife, and she was wonderful.  All of us drove down a little road dividing a marsh leading from Bluffton, SC to Savannah, GA in the middle of the night.  It was the day before Saint Patrick’s Day, so the roads were busy and it was dark.  We were very careful that we protected both of you by driving safely.  I remember worrying that the contractions would stop, and it would be a false alarm, but it wasn’t.   Nancy took the readings and guess what, you were on your way!  But it wasn’t easy.

Very soon, a strange heart issue appeared.  It was minor, but after a contraction your heartbeat slowed when it should have sped up.  Because of that Nancy made the call.  We would have to go from the midwife center to the hospital.  Nancy packed her stuff, and we packed ours and we drove over to Memorial Hospital about 8 minutes away.  The next 20 hours were amazing.

Over the course of your birth, we had a two midwives (Nancy and Jill), a Doula named Erin, and several nurses.  There was a lot of waiting, and your mom was incredible (if you’d been there, you would never ever disrespect your mom, and I think I’ll hold you to that in the future).  at 8:08 PM on March 16th you were born with the help of nurses, Jill the midwife, Erin our doula, your grandma Frankie, and myself.  I’ll never forget being with you when you were born.  Again – respect your mom.  Forever.

That night we were exhausted.  We didn’t know what we were doing, but I was proud.  I called your Grandma and Grandpa and Great Grandma and Great Grandma Griswold in New Hampshire and in Texas, respectively, to give them the  news.  A baby boy named Ransom (“Handsome Ransom” as per Jill Whitfield, our midwife) would sleep in the basinet we’d prepared for you next to our bed.

You were tiny, soft, and not as loud as I’d expected.  Your eyes were dark blue, and you had little tufts of brown fine hair.  Your hands were wrinkly, and you slept a lot (which we were thankful for).  And after a doctor checked you over, we took you home (after a call to AAA to replace a flat tire – that’s another story).

Now you are almost 5 months, and you’re giggling and laughing and playing with a strong grip and I’m pretty sure you’re going to be somewhat athletic.  You’re smart and like to see everything that’s going on, and you’re already an extravert.  Ask anyone at the church that’s held you.  You’re awesome and we love you incredibly.  We feel this when we creep into your room and watch you sleep. We’re so glad you’re here.

I’ll try and keep you updated as you grow and we figure all this stuff out as your new parents.  May God keep us all in His hands.

1 Samuel 1:27–28
“I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the LORD. For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD.”

 

Baby

Waiting for Miracles? Consider Some Already Done

20080716 Sacred text

Rather than waiting for a sign of God’s existence, turn to the Bible, where his miracles are well-documented.

HARKER — McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Waiting for Miracles? Consider Jesus’ Resurrection

danielgriswold@Gmail.com

Originally Published: April 1, 2014 in the Bluffton Edition of The Island Packet

In reading Matthew 12, there are two verses that have bothered my soul. Jesus goes around performing miracles and refuting critics who are plotting to kill him and he amazes the crowd constantly. In the midst of this, in verses 38 and 39, someone states, “Teacher, we want you to show us a sign.” Jesus responds quickly and doesn’t perform a miracle on demand. In paraphrase, he says, “Come on people, you’re being terrible, you’ve turned away from God. Your only sign will be the sign of the prophet Jonah.”

Jonah sat in the belly of a large sea creature for three days, and Jesus is foreshadowing his future death and resurrection. He refuses to give into being the entertainment and centerpiece of the story. Yes, Jesus is the Son of God. Yes, he has done many miracles. But he is about to do something so much more important than make y’all say, “Wow.” Lastly, he’s going to rise from the belly of death and open the doors to a greater work of our father. That’s big stuff.

I was once like a member of the crowd calling out for more signs and miracles. In fact, I still like to ask God to show me he is real. I have hardly ever received a moment like Gideon, who asked God to place dew on a fleece in the book of Judges in order to determine God’s purpose and agency. I’ve had to build a trust with Him over time, and have had to mature beyond the need for “mountaintop” experiences every Sunday and every retreat to remain engaged with God.

As a child, I thought of church and altar calls (a minister calling those who seek repentance and a filling of the holy spirit to come forward and receive God’s presence, forgiveness and otherworldly touch) as an end in religion, and I fully expected to see miracles to prove my faith.

I wanted to see with my own eyes the physical and scientific reality of the God who created the universe. I didn’t want to trust the testimony of the millennia, because I’m new, the world is new, and certainly things have changed. The spirit behind my curiosity was, “God, show me something now.” Much like a sports fan saying a prayer for his team to win the current game, I wanted to have a story that would change my life.

I didn’t understand that that story had already been lived out. And in this scene, returning to Matthew chapter 12, we have a crowd that wanted an immediate sign, and Jesus said, something bigger than you can imagine is coming. Have patience; just wait.

How many walked away that day saying, “Man, Jesus was a disappointment”? He called them bad people; he didn’t create matter from nothing to prove his claims as a prophet; and he passed the buck to a future event. How can he be trusted?

Today we have the story of the gospel, we have the testimony of the apostles recorded for our discernment, the traditions of the church passed down and, even better, the living holy spirit working among us and binding us as believers in Christ, who calls us into ministry as the people of God.

God’s love has already been shown, and yet we still want a further sign. We are simply impatient to wait to see what God is about to do.

In this season of Lent, perhaps we can take a breath and remember that our time is not God’s time. The miracle we are looking for may be soon to come — it may have already occurred and we refuse to trust in it. As a community of faith, let us spend time in prayer and contemplation, giving God a place to do something even better than what we are asking for.

Columnist Daniel Griswold is the director of youth at St. Andrew By-the-Sea United Methodist Church. Follow him at twitter.com/dannonhill. Read his blog atwww.danielgriswold.wordpress.com.

(Read more @ The Island Packet)

 

Facing Life’s Giants, Having Courage and Making a Way

When you’re facing life’s giants, remember who you can rely on for courage

BY DANIEL GRISWOLD

danielgriswold@gmail.com

First Published in Bluffton Packet: January 22, 2014

“Slay your giants!” That was a tagline for a sermon series I heard at my childhood church long ago. It referred to David, the young boy who had courage enough to stand up to Goliath, the behemoth Philistine soldier who was calling out David’s country’s greatest warrior.

It was odd that a shepherd boy, who brought his older brothers meals on the battle lines between the Hebrews and the Philistines, would ultimately be the one who ended a standoff. The defeat of the giant showed how courage can come from unexpected people, and how God uses us if we are willing to do great things.

What giant stands in your path? For me, it’s trying to imagine fatherhood while everyone reminds me that I have no idea what’s coming with our new child due in February. Our church is also “birthing” a new campus in Bluffton, and we’re learning the ropes of simultaneous worship at two campuses. I’m charged with some of the vision of being one church, two campuses. In many ways, my giants are not named Goliath, but rather “transition” and “change.” My roles are shifting month-by-month with very little stability, and I’m trying to figure out which rocks I’ll be able to stand on once the storms of uncertainty pass.

I believe the best path to success in all these endeavors is perseverance. A perseverance of the soul that rests its weight in the greatest giant of all, rests on the true behemoth, which of course is our father in heaven.

Psalm 121 begins: “I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the lord, who made heaven and earth.”

True perseverance comes from trust in the maker of our being, whose spirit seeks out those who desire goodness and justice, who reveals himself through the wonders of the universe — specifically in the amazing unique creation of your own self.

Practically, we can have confidence in the future. Whether we live or die, we are able to face the world’s biggest problems because we are not working alone. Many early believers die for simply worshipping and loving God. Today in the free world, we can live out good stewardship of our home planet; we can foster peace in our neighborhoods by spreading goodwill; and we can live lives that advocate for the oppressed and those who live without freedom.

When Moses’ successor Joshua was taking the reins of leadership he was charged with leading God’s people into their new home. It was guaranteed to be a land of warfare, a land where they could lose their identity easily among the varying cultures, and where much harm was done from person to person, city to city and nation to nation. It would be easy to have left that giant alone with the challenge from God unmet. But in Joshua 1:9, God gave a word that resonates through the ages, “Do not be afraid, be bold and courageous, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” I keep those words in my memory. When I face giants, I hear God’s words recorded thousands of years prior, and I take courage that I can find the way through. You can too.

 

Columnist Daniel Griswold is the director of youth at St. Andrew By-the-Sea United Methodist Church. Follow him at twitter.com/dannonhill. Read his blog atwww.danielgriswold.wordpress.com.

Pastor’s Corner: Shiny New Things by Daniel Griswold

New

Pastors Corner: Shiny New Things

By Daniel Griswold

Youth Director at Saint Andrew By-The-Sea UMC

Hilton Head Island, SC   Twitter:  @Dannonhill     Email: DanielGriswold@Gmail.com

Blog: DanielGriswold.Wordpress.com

This article was originally published in The Island Packet, Bluffton Edition

Last Wednesday iOS 7, the newest operating system for the iPhone was released in the United States.  For an entire week building up to the launch, the internet and many of my friends had been buzzing, hoping to be able to be the first to try it out on their phone.  For non-Apple people, this is a major revamp of iOS and changes the look, feel and inner workings of the phone on a level not seen in a long time.  The New Factor was extremely high, much like someone waiting for a revamp of the prior year’s Corvette.  On launch, at 1 pm, Facebook and Twitter (as well as Instagram) went wild reporting those who could actually download it.  The demand being so high, that the servers could not bear the load of all, so many are waitlisted until a later time when the servers go idle.  This is not just an Apple phenomenon, in general, most people love new things.

I think on my own life, as my wife and I expect our first child, and the excitement that this new development is bringing to our home.  Last year we adopted a Mini-Scnauzer named Bella, and now, we’re going to have a real live human being to take care of.  I’ve already been told by just about everyone that our lives will be completely changed – and it is going to be good.  The newness of a future child has me nervous and excited, like being in line for a roller coaster at an amusement park – the really big ones.  All I know is that I’m going to do this – and I’m going to do all I can to make it as awesome as I can.  Adrenaline races through me as I think about it, and I’m finding my being refreshed, rebooted, and remade by my new reality.

The reverence that comes with viewing newness changes us, much like the moment in my life when I was renewed in the spirit as I began to try to understand God and began a relationship with Jesus years ago.  When I read these lines from 2 Corinthians in relation to looking at Christ as my savior from a life of darkness, and brought to a new light: “Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it!”  I imagine the earliest Christians grappling with what it would mean to live out a faith that was new and exciting and that would be pioneered as a lifestyle, often misunderstood, yet strong and full of the Spirit of God.

Like all new things, I felt pulled into its rotation by its natural beauty, and unlike an object that I hold in my hand, the relationship kindled by God’s love continues to transform me each and every day.  This message is for all, that we can be brand new, because there is a God in Heaven who came to us, and says, “Come with me.”

12 Years Later – Remembering 9/11 and the Missing Towers

It is hard to believe that it has been 12 years since I woke up from my college dorm, walked out to see everyone glued to the television and watched the 9/11 attack live on television.  Months later, in an airplane landing in New Jersey’s Newark airport, I remember watching the plumes of smoke still rising and realized that this was something I would never forget.  It is not because my safety was shattered, or because our national ego needed avenging, but because people, loved by God and their family, were angrily and forcefully destroyed. Many suffered physically and today many are mourning fathers, mothers and children who were made into weapons.  For myself, I’m reminded that there will always be some form of conflict in the world and that some will try to enforce their own views by force.  I’ll be praying for those who consider me their enemy today.  We all have choices to make about how we live life.  We can live in anger and seek revenge, or we can look to God and see a way towards peace.  I’m praying that every person will get the opportunity to consider their actions, and choose not to destroy but rather, to build.  A scripture that comes to mind comes from Luke’s gospel:

Luke 1:78-79 NIV

 “because of the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
to shine on those living in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace.”

As the world expands and millions are added to our growing number of cities, war is becoming more catastrophic, more destructive, and displacing more each time it occurs.  I’m praying for all those who are in war zones today.  All the families, all the soldiers, and all the people who sent them there – may God give each person wisdom and the heart to make decisions that make the world a better place, rather than a smoldering, desolate black hole.  Let us seek peace.

There is a Place for Young People in an Aging Society

There’s a place for young people in an aging society

Published: July 30, 2013, The Island Packet, Bluffton Edition

By DANIEL GRISWOLD — danielgriswold@gmail.com

A wise man told me this morning that our current culture is very “ageist.” In an area that is full of wonderfully retired and aging people, we live in a focal point of the angst that aging brings with it, in regular life and in worship.

Young people in the college and career phases of their lives walk into a church and are greeted by handshakes and smiles from gray-haired people wearing nice suits or dresses, holding up the structure and traditional styles of worship. In a perfect world, all ages would come together and worship the God of the Ages (or all ages), but the reaction I’ve more often seen is one of segregation according to age, individual taste in style, or by culture. In a time when people basically worship youth, this is not surprising, but how can God’s people be different?

In the Scriptures, it is obvious that God values all people of all ages. Those who are young are the church, those who are middle-aged are the church, those who are elderly are the church. And it is with different perspectives on life coming together that we see life’s picture more completely. The old do not forget what it was like to be young, full of new adventures, fears and risks. The young gain the advantage of wisdom, which is basically the ability to denote patterns in life and share that knowledge with others.

“Since my youth, God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds. Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come.” (Psalm 71:17-18)

Perhaps segregation started after the World Wars, when young men and women settled down together and simultaneously started families and careers. A mass of people grew up together, supported one another, and raised children together. That solidarity gave them a special place in society as their children grew and created a new world beneath the structures they created. As that generation retires and passes off the responsibilities of the world, a painful process begins. It also seems like there are more older people than ever as the baby boomers remain in health well into their 80s and 90s. My great-grandmother, Alice, is now 102 years old.

So what are the young to do? I think that a bit of humility would do us all a bit of good. We are an aging society and for a time the young will have to come to terms with what it means to be at the other end of life. I think that the benefits of sharing life together outweigh the initial awkwardness of the relationship. Who wouldn’t want to have some sound financial advice, or to hear the stories of their family?

Perhaps that means that we don’t have all the electric guitars in the worship band, or perhaps that means that the projector shows images of cartoons from the 1960s and 1970s. That’s all OK. As we worship together, our picture of life becomes more complete, and it is our common focus on the glory of God, and telling of the great things he has done, that we forget age and become part of a church that is eternal. Can people of all ages come together and be the body of Christ? I know we can, I’ve seen it happen. Have courage and trust in the Lord, great things are possible.

Columnist Daniel Griswold is the director of youth at St. Andrew By-the-Sea United Methodist Church. Follow him at twitter.com/dannonhill. Read his blog atwww.danielgriswold.wordpress.com.