Leopold Partnership Update

I’m not sure how you feel about the 2017-2018 school year, but for my family it’s felt like a bit of a whirlwind! As we near the end of the spring semester, I’d like to provide an update on our church’s Adopt-a-School partnership with Leopold Elementary School.


I’m thankful for the many ways our church family has been able to show up this school year. From getting involved in the Schools of Hope tutoring program, to providing material needs such as mattresses for a family and snow gear for students, and stocking the school’s ten little free libraries, the Church is letting this school know we care. Did you know we were also able to provide a scholarship for a student from Leopold to go to a national “Safety Patrol” conference in Washington, D.C.? Leopold’s principal told me how thankful they are that we could help make this opportunity a reality.   


I’m also excited to share two upcoming ways we get to partner with Leopold. First, their annual one-mile fun run, the Timber Wolf Trample, will be held at the school on Saturday, May 12, at 11:00am. A Parent Faculty Organization representative who runs the event approached our church, as well as Blackhawk Fitchburg, to ask if we could support them with volunteers on the morning of the event and by providing some food and water. What an easy “Yes!” If you’re able to serve that morning, you can arrive anytime between 9:30-10:00 a.m. to help set up the food service area and prepare food, then serve the meal and/or cheer on the student runners. Clean-up after the meal will conclude between 12:30-1:00pm. This is a wonderful service opportunity for young families and anyone else who’d like to help out. Even if you’re only able to be there for an hour or two that morning, your time will be greatly appreciated, and you’re sure to have some fun!


Second, in cooperation with the school and the Fitchburg Public Library, as well as some fellow yogis from Perennial Yoga & Meditation, I plan to offer some fun, free yoga classes for children and their families at Leopold Park this summer. The library is coordinating afternoon programming at the park four days a week over a 7-week session this summer (June 18 - August 2); those who are going on Higher Ground’s high school mission trip in Madison may even get to help with this. There will also be a lot of fun ways for families to play together on Tuesday evenings during these seven weeks, and yoga will be one of several drop-in activities in which people can participate. If you can help with this for an hour or two on some of these Tuesday evenings between 5:00-7:30pm -- it’s okay if you have minimal or zero yoga experience! -- or with the Timber Wolf Trample on May 12, please let me know.  


Would you join me in thanking God as he leads us to discover and celebrate the many ways we can use our bodies, minds, and hearts to get to know our neighbors and co-create a stronger community?  


25 Simple Ways to Live Life with Your Neighbors_

25 Simple Ways to Live Life With Your Neighbors

Today I’d like to share with you an article by Pastor Josh Reeves, of Redeemer Church in Round Rock, Texas (www.redeemerrr.org). I love the simplicity of the ideas he shares, and how he encourages us to think of ways we can include our neighbors in some of our day-to-day activities. Here is Pastor Reeves’ short-but-sweet article:

I have found that it is often helpful to have practical ideas to start engaging the people around me. Most of the things on this list are normal, everyday things that many people are already doing. The hope is that we would do these things with Gospel intentionality. This means we do them:

  • In the normal rhythms of life pursuing to meet and engage new people.

  • Prayerfully watching and listening to the Holy Spirit to discern where God is working.

  • Looking to boldly, humbly, and contextually proclaim the Gospel in word and deed.

Below is a list of 25 simple ways to get to know your neighbors. Not all of these are for everyone, but hopefully there will be several ideas on the list that God uses to help you live life with your neighbors:

1. Cook an extra casserole and give it to a neighbor

2. Buy an extra dozen donuts and give them to a neighbor

3. Start a compost pile and allow neighbors to dump their compost

4. Host a coffee and dessert night

5. Organize and host a ladies craft night

6. Organize an effort for neighbors to help care for homebound or elderly neighbors

7. Become a regular at your neighborhood park or pool

8. If you have a skill, let neighbors know that you can use it to help them for free

9. Host a movie night and discussion afterward

10. Start a walking or running group in the neighborhood

11. Start hosting a weekly or monthly play date with other stay-at-home parents

12. Organize a carpool for your neighborhood to help save gas

13. Collect thrift store items from neighbors and offer to take them to the store

14. Have a front yard ice cream party in the summer

15. Start a sewing group

16. Help your kids host a lemonade stand in your driveway (invite neighbor kids to help)

17. Throw a Labor Day block party

18. Start a neighborhood Facebook/Twitter/Google + group, or join Next Door

19. Ask longtime residents to help you learn about the neighborhood

20. Offer to babysit neighbors’ kids so they can have a date night

21. Find out your neighbors’ birthdays and take them a card and baked treat

22. Set up a meet-your-neighbors night with drinks in your driveway or yard

23. Ask your homeowners/neighborhood association or apartment complex if they need help with anything

24. Host a regular Saturday morning breakfast potluck

25. Host a sports game watching party

Missional Tip: Pick one of these ideas and act on it this week.

If you try one of these ideas, let us know how it went by emailing (egumm@livelifetogether.com) or sharing on our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/livelifetogether)!

Who is God placing on my impact list?

Who is God placing on my impact list?

It’s a question I don’t re-ask nearly often enough. 

“Life in Jesus moves us intentionally and passionately into the lives of our friends and neighbors, incarnating the missional heartbeat of God. As we listen to God, we discern which friend the Lord might be leading us to reach by proclaiming the Good News about Jesus. We will also rely on God to show us who we can support and teach as they follow Jesus.” –Life Mark Assessment

So, who is on your impact list? 

Who has God placed in your life that seems open to a deeper relationship with you? 

          Who is ready?

                   Who is willing?

                             Who can you intentionally spend more time with?

A few weeks ago, we read Paul writing in his letter to the Romans that:

My heart is filled with bitter sorrow and unending grief for my people, my Jewish brothers and sisters. I would be willing to be forever cursed—cut off from Christ!—if that would save them.    -Romans 9:2-3

His heart burned for his people, though he had been sent to the Gentiles.  My heart doesn’t often burn for my neighbors, or even for those in my family who don’t follow Jesus.  God has certainly placed me around my neighbors, and at least relationally with my family. 

But do I intentionally spend time with them?

We’re approaching a new school year, and with that, some relational circles might shift for you.  Neighbors who were around all summer may go to different schools.  People you have been hanging around with may be involved in different sports.  With a new sport, or being around school more often, you will likely be around some different people. 

Look for who you are around more often, and who might be interested in hanging out more regularly.

Pray for them by name, and ask for discernment, that God would show you who should be on your impact list.

And as you are intentionally spending time with people, ask that God would open doors in their heart and in communication, that you would be able to share about Jesus, whom you know, and love, and loves you and your friend more than we can imagine. 

If Paul’s heart burns, imagine God’s heart.

Dear God, make our hearts burn for those who don’t know you yet, like your heart does.  Show us the people you are placing in our path, show us who is open, and who we should be more intentional about spending time with.  God, work on their hearts and ours, give us the words to speak when we are given the chance to share about you.  Heavenly Father, as you send us into the harvest, work through us to send out even more.  Amen

Be the catalyst in your home and in your neighborhood, and see what God does.

What are you doing?  What are you noticing?  Please let me know in the comments or via email: mwipperman@lifelivetogether.com


Pine Ridge Mission Update

What a beautiful place God has placed us in this week! Yesterday, 12 students and 6 adults from the Church arrived in Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. We will be spending the week being the hands and feet of Jesus and getting to know the people of Pine Ridge. Monday was our first work day - and it was hot!! However, the students worked hard, kept a great attitude, and were a joy to be around. We also got to visit the Wounded Knee Massacre Site, learn more about what happened, and meet some really need people who helped us understand life on the reservation a little bit better. 
Our work projects include:
  • working on a bathroom addition for George Afraid of Bears - including the siding on the outside of the house.
  • building bunk beds to distribute to families in the community who need beds
  • work at Susan's house - including dry wall, replacing a ceiling, reinforcing some roofing, and adding a hand rail
Today Matt and Emily's team worked at Miss Susan's house. While there, Susan took a fall down her steps as she tried to go outside to leave for an appointment. Susan is an older woman and uses a cane to get around. Praise God we were there to help her!! While we were sitting with her, we found out that not only is she not able to get in and out of her home, but she hasn't had running water since February due to a cracked roof and broken pipes. What a blessing it is that there are groups like Next Step that are in a position to help meet some of Susan's basic needs! And what a privilege that we get to come alongside, for even just a short period of time, to make a tangible difference in Susan's life.
The pictures you see include:
  • The site we are staying at, including the building the boys are sleeping in.
  • Susan's house and the students working
  • Walking up to the cemetery at the Wounded Knee Massacre Memorial
We would love your prayers this week! Internet and cell reception is spotty but I will update as often as I can. If you want to learn more, google Pine Ridge Reservation or Oglala Lakota Sioux.

Christian Caregiving: A Way of Life

All of us have been care receivers throughout our lives; we’ve received care from our parents, teachers, doctors dentists, pastors, children, and friends. Most of us have also been caregivers to our children, parents, students, or friends, and some of you reading this are professional caregivers. Remembering the importance of receiving care from a particular person or at a specific point in our lives is often an encouragement to step up and care for others.  

Kenneth C. Haugk’s book Christian Caregiving: A Way of Life is beneficial in a number of ways.  First, it is a valuable resource because Dr. Haugk is a pastor, clinical psychologist, and founder of the Stephen Series system of lay caring ministry. He writes from experience and his educational background.

Second, Dr. Haugk frequently uses the words “distinctively Christian,” pointing out the unique opportunity Christians have to care for the whole person - what a great way for us to connect people to life in Jesus! God made us whole persons. Physicians treat our particular physical ailments; some only discuss the physical concerns, while others are good at including emotional, mental, and even spiritual aspects when treating health issues. “Distinctively Christian” does not mean only spiritual, rather it refers to the whole person.  ”Distinctively Christian” is a way of love, and we love others because God first loved us. In 1Corinthians 13 Paul reminds us Love is the Greatest: “but if I didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.”  

Dr. Haugk’s book covers many helpful guidelines for Christians to follow in reaching out to others no matter when or why. Based on his education, experience, and passion, he addresses his book to answering, “How?” Knowing how to engage with individuals in talking about difficult topics is so critical. It is easy to speak from our experience and try to convince someone of what we believe would be helpful in certain situations. But we don’t always know what will be helpful to someone else, who will always have a different perspective. Caregivers encourage discussion, listen well, and ask more questions. It is so important to allow the Holy Spirit to speak into the situation; God knows what the person is in need of and will guide the process, as we pray and encourage others to pray and listen to the Holy Spirit.

Often times knowing where or how to start a conversation is the biggest hurdle. Care Notes -- typically a 6-page booklet dealing with life issues and concerns -- can be an ice breaker. Sharing a booklet with someone can show you care and are concerned, and can easily lead to questions, discussion, and opportunity to pray with an individual. Care Notes have been available on the wall across from the mailboxes in the back hallway by the restrooms (at our Fitchburg site). Recently Sharon Kelly organized the booklets according to topics that are now available in two plastic bins in the Church library under the TV. The booklets cover a wide range of topics such as aging, illness, dying, and grief, to name a few. Many titles begin with “How to Cope with…” There are specific booklets for Teens and for Kids and Prayer Notes. For assistance in locating the booklets or finding a specific topic, ask Sharon or me or any of the church staff.  

At some point in their lives, we hope everyone has received a meaningful smile, a genuine “how are you?” question, a prayer, or a hug. We all are, and are called to be, caregivers to family, friends, and neighbors wherever God has placed us. Finding yourself in the position of caregiver can be overwhelming. Dr. Haugk’s book is one helpful resource, the Care Notes another.   Caregivers themselves need caring for. If you have a need or have a passion to be part of Caregiving, there is a place for you at the Church to receive or give. Feel free to talk with me or Pastor Matt Wipperman as a possible first step. Pray for the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Allow God to do the work. Be an instrument of God’s love as a distinctively Christian caregiver. Our world is in desperate need of such care, and God is with you as you care and are cared for.