February 1,  2018
From the Heights

by The Rev Leanne Masters
Homestead Moderator and
Pastor of Southern Heights.

As I walk through the aisles in the stores, I keep passing the Valentine's Aisle, filled with red and pink hearts and boxes and cards. I'll be honest, I'm not the biggest fan of the holiday now that I'm an adult. There is so much pressure on couples to "do" Valentine's Day "right", and (please) don't get me started on the marketing.

But, as a kid? Oh, boy, I loved the holiday.  I loved the chalky candy conversations hearts and the heart shaped suckers. I loved the crepe paper decorations and the paper heart doilies. But, most of all, I loved the cards. 

You know which cards I'm talking about: the cheap, character laden, cardstock Valentine's Day cards that you buy for distribution at school. I loved sorting through the cards, and picking which card to give to which classmate, and addressing them with care. I loved putting each individual card into my classmate's card boxes. And I loved sorting through my own box at the end of the day, reading the cards my classmates picked out for me.

I loved it because it wasn't about spending tons of cash or proving how much you loved someone, it was simply about sharing joy and thanksgiving in the existence of another person. How often do we take time to do that with each other?

In our world today, we often take others for granted: Our loved ones, who we just kind of always assume will be there, doing the things that they do and being the people that they are. Our classmates and our coworkers, who we smile at everyday, but put our heads down to focus on our own work. The people who work in the background of our lives: service providers, industry professionals, the bagger at the grocery store, who we just don't even think about, but are individuals and people with complex and beautiful lives of their own.

We take the existence of others for granted, and yet our lives are richer, deeper, and better because of them. 

We knew this as kids, and once a year carefully picked out just the right card to tell the people around us this. We need to remember this as adults. 

Friends, God has given us a great gift in the people around us, both those whose names we know, and those whom we are less familiar with. Let's be thankful for those people, and thankful for the great blessing that they are in our lives. Let's take the time this month to celebrate them with joy and thanksgiving. Not with cards or chalky candy hearts, but with genuine care and considerations.  Let's take the time to tell people that we appreciate them, to get to know them, to listen to their stories, and to thank them for who they are and what they do for us.

 Let's remember to celebrate the people around us, with joy and thanksgiving, remembering the great gift God has given us in them.
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Lent recalls times of wilderness and wandering, from newly freed Hebrew slaves in exile to Jesus' temptation in the desert. God has always called people out of their safe, walled cities into uncomfortable places, revealing paths they would never have chosen. Despite our culture of self-indulgence, we too are called to walk an alternative path-one of humility, justice, and peace. Walter Brueggemann's thought-provoking reflections for the season of Lent invite us to consider the challenging, beautiful life that comes with walking the way of grace.
Clergy Coaching
by Rev. Charity Potter
Wakefield Presbyterian Church
Thurston John Huss Presbyterian Church

Ministry is not an easy occupation. We all know that. This is true whether we are talking about lay or ordained ministry. The sheer number of people who are no longer in ministry because they are burned out is astonishing. And for those in professional ordained ministry - the incidence of depression, and stress-related health conditions is downright scary. But there is help. I encourage you to consider entering a coaching relationship.

Most of us only think of coaching as it applies to sports (Scott Frost anyone?). And if someone mentions a "Life Coach" it brings up images of smarmy back offices or 900 numbers. But in recent years, the field of coaching has become a serious and vital resource. Particularly in the corporate world, coaches are regularly engaged to help management and employees become the best they can be at their work. This same resource is available to anyone. How do I know? I have experienced the power of coaching in my own life. And in fact, I am a trained coach and am currently working towards my certification with the International Coaching Federation. In addition, my training was specifically oriented toward coaching clergy.

Coaching is "a way of effectively empowering people to find their own answers, encouraging and supporting them on the path as they continue to make life-giving and life-changing choices." In a coaching relationship, a person is supported and encouraged to set goals and find the ways to achieve them. You are allowed to dream - then find ways to live your dream. Coaching helps people to stop simply surviving life - but to truly thrive. Coaching can be applied to any part of life - professional, personal, spiritual, relationships, health, etc. All ministers have to deal with a huge variety of stressors. Some are easier than others to deal with. Coaching is a way for ministers to identify the areas in their life that need attention and to develop and implement strategies to not only address the stressors but to find ways to thrive in ministry and life.

I currently have openings in my coaching schedule. And if you'd rather not work with me, I'm more than willing to refer you to a colleague. But I would highly encourage everyone in ministry to engage in a coaching relationship. Don't wait until you are burned out and/or depressed. And if you already find yourself on that road - now is the time to act! I have reduced rates for clergy and all of my Homestead colleagues get the first session free (Clergy and Lay).  In addition, support funding is available from the Omaha Presbyterian Seminary Foundation. 

I can be reached by phone at 402-870-1059 or email at cntpotter@gmail.com.

Keep Thinking...
Be nice for no reason.
Be kinder than necessary.
Pictures Around the Presbytery
Homestead Presbytery would like to encourage everyone to send photos from your church's events to  
hpoffice@homesteadpres.org We would LOVE to 
feature all the awesome things you are all doing! 

Best wishes to Pastor Duncan Nichol on his retirement!

Presbyterian Women pack up PDA Gift of the Heart Kits and head for Ferncliff!