Finding God at the YMCA

By Laurie Winslow Sargent:

Today I attended a Bible study . . . at the YMCA.

 

YMCA Young Men's Christian Association

I admit that I was surprised to be finding God at the YMCA, and Christian faith in particular. Yes, I know the acronym YMCA stands for Young Men’s Christian Association. It just seems that so many Y’s in the country have lost their Christian emphasis. Now I’ve moved to North Carolina (a more conservative state than others I have lived in) I was wowed by my local Y’s bold mission statement in HUGE lettering on the wall:

Our Mission: to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all.

I walked down the hall, and saw a large painting of Jesus. By the front door was a wooden box for people to insert prayer requests.  Then I attended a Bible study, joining over 20 women to learn from the Bible and book called Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions, by Lysa TerKeurst. We watched a DVD with Lysa (the first of eight videos), then discussed how it applied to us. The leader also made herself available to share the gospel. YES!

Wonder about the history of the YMCA?

From their website, you can read about the history of the YMCA, including this tidbit:

In 1844, industrialized London was a place of great turmoil and despair. For the young men who migrated to the city from rural areas to find jobs, London offered a bleak landscape of tenement housing and dangerous influences.

Twenty-two-year-old George Williams, a farmer-turned-department store worker, was troubled by what he saw. He joined 11 friends to organize the first Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), a refuge of Bible study and prayer for young men seeking escape from the hazards of life on the streets.

Later, in the United States:

Years later, retired Boston sea captain Thomas Valentine Sullivan, working as a marine missionary, noticed a similar need to create a safe “home away from home” for sailors and merchants. Inspired by the stories of the Y in England, he led the formation of the first U.S. YMCA at the Old South Church in Boston on December 29, 1851.

You can click here for more fascinating facts: YMCA history from 1900 to 1950s. 

I find this particularly interesting because my father-in-law, while a single young man, lived at the YMCA for a short time. He had graduated from MIT, and previous to that, at the young age of 19, had been a WWII soldier at the battle of Iwo Jima. The YMCA gave him a secure transition in a new city as he sought work and eventually a bride.

See this video about the history of the Y–including how the sport of basketball and the Gideons (who distribute Bibles worldwide) got their start at the YMCA:

© Laurie Winslow Sargent. Laurie edits Finding God Daily, and is a multi-book author/contributor and magazine article writer. She blogs for parents at  ParentingByFaith.com and for writers at  SellYourNonfiction.com.  Join her on Twitter @LaurieSargent.

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Finding God Despite Moving Stress

By Laurie Winslow Sargent:

When relocating, moving stress is inevitable, but finding God with you in the midst of it does help.

 

 Image: Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Image: Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Moving from one state to another can get a little crazy, as it has been for me the past few months.  Fixing, selling, and packing up a house on one end. Living out of suitcases in a not-so-homey temporary apartment while searching for a new home.

Of course to have any of these moving problems is a blessing in itself. So many people do not have homes, so for me to whine about moving stress when I do have places to rest my head and call my own may seem superfluous to them.

Yet if you are one who has been on the same journey as me, it’s important to recognize that moving stress is natural, even if a move is for a good reason and you love where you are moving to.  It’s also critical for us to remember that when we have asked Jesus Christ into our lives, he is alongside us through our entire journey.

At so many junctures it is easy to forget that.

There are a hundred billion little decisions to make and a to-do list that doesn’t seem to end. Just when I thought our home we were selling was just right, after fixing dozens of little things from updating electric outlets to crumbling window frames, an inspector found a bat had snuck into our garage attic.

A BAT?! What a mess and expense to clean up that was. Ugh.

There were plenty of opportunities to freak out, worry, become discouraged, and snap at my teen. Plenty of times my head was so full of lists I could not see needs in others around me unless I deliberately stopped and changed my focus. Times I had to choose to not obsess over small somethings for the sake of big relationships.

When we were attempting to sell our home,  my daughter was doing a chore for me and left some of the project undone.  It would have been easy to comment on that.

But as I tried to remain focused on God and keep things in perspective, He nudged me.

Told me to ignore it.

Reminded me a buyer would really not care about that. Reminded me that my daughter was under as much stress as I was, that she needed to be loved on and appreciated, not nagged. Reminded me of what a terrific help she had been to me, as my husband had to go ahead of us to his new job. I thanked God for my daughter’s helpful and sweet attitude, even when I myself  had left things undone or forgotten things important to her.

But that was an easy attitude check, compared to one I had to make when we realized we had to sell our home at a loss.  That took a VERY deliberate change of perspective.

I had added up all we had spent on that home, including our new roof, property taxes for eight years, repairs–including bat cleanup–and our mortgage payments. Divided by the years and months we’d lived there. And realized that it was as if we had rented the entire time, although we had tried so hard to get ahead.

But then I looked out the window. I looked around me. I thanked God that we had been able to live in a lovely home instead of a run-down apartment, or worse yet, on the street. I thanked the Lord for the neighbors we had enjoyed, not just people but neighborhood deer, foxes and owls. I thanked Him for the view out our windows that I had loved every day.

And instead of frettting, I was at peace. Instead of feeling outrage, I felt gratefulness.

I praised God for all I had been given, instead of agonizing over what I thought I had lost.  And after the movers had taken away all our possesions,  we’d driven to our new state, then settled into our temporary place, we looked forward to a new adventure: with God in it.

Have you moved recently? What was one stressful thing about it you experienced, and how did God help you through that? Tell us in a comment–your experience may also help others. 

© Laurie Winslow Sargent. Laurie edits Finding God Daily, and is a multi-book author/contributor and magazine article writer. She blogs for parents at  ParentingByFaith.com and for writers at  SellYourNonfiction.com.  Join her on Twitter as @LaurieSargent

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Find God in The Moses Quilt, Interracial Marriage and Harriet Tubman

By Laurie Winslow Sargent:

Mazie and Edward are in love, yet will a mystery in Mazie’s ancestral past prevent their interracial marriage?

Will the story of Harriet Tubman, told through images in the Moses quilt, save or unravel their relationship?

Will they find God–a deeper relationship with Him–in the process?

The Moses Quilt, by Kathi Macias (Publisher: New Hope)

The Moses Quilt, by Kathi Macias (Publisher: New Hope)

A Book Review in honor of Black History Month and Harriet Tubman

When a package with The Moses Quilt arrived in my mailbox, I was eager to get my nose into it.  I’m a big fan of most anything written by Kathi Macias. She tends to tackle unusual topics in her novels–from sex-trafficking to modern day martyrs, so I knew the Moses Quilt would be more than just about a quilt.

In the novel, family on both sides–Edwards parents and sister, and Mazie’s mom and great-grandmother, are all supportive of Edward and Mazie’s relationship. Only Mazie hangs back, and even she is not sure why. She suspects, however, that with her great-grandmother having been born and raised in the deep south, there may be something very uncomfortable–perhaps insurmountable–in her family history. She is almost afraid to find out. How did her ancestors deal with the issue of slavery? And if something truly awful is uncovered, will Edward want nothing to do with her?

Mazie’s great-grandma, in segments (as her health is failing) tells Mazie and Edward the amazing story of Harriet Tubman using the treasured Moses quilt. They are fascinated, but also wonder if there is a personal connection between them and the mysterious quilt.

I was already in awe of the work of Harriet Tubman–what courage and determination she had! But I learned much more about her, right along with Mazie and Edward.  I love to learn new things–and gain some new perspective about life or history, in the midst of good storytelling.

The story characters’ Christian faith was well embedded in their lives and portrayed very naturally, and the references to Harriet Tubman’s faith in Christ was an inspiration to me.

I appreciate the author, Kathi Macias, in her taking me along on this new, interesting and fun ride.  I also enjoyed the physical treatment of the book by her publisher, New Hope. I’m sure the ebook is a good read as well (and I love my Kindle), but somehow holding this paperback with it’s lovely colors and inside graphics helped put me in the moment, as if I were also hearing the story from Great-Grandma Mimi and seeing the quilt. I found myself looking back to the cover often as I read, and enjoying the dove-shaped graphics separating the pages. I think this story really benefited from this lovely physical treatment.

Interested in following the path of Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad?  Click HERE to find a great brochure with a driving tour (or virtual tour), with The Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway  or go to the Maryland Eastern Shore for the 100th year celebration of her life, March 8-10 2013;  Centennial Events in Harriet Tubman’s Homeland.

Enjoy this book trailer for The Moses Quilt and the other books in Kathi’s new quilt fiction series:

 

© Laurie Winslow Sargent. Laurie edits Finding God Daily, and is multi-book author/contributor and magazine article writer. She blogs for parents at  ParentingByFaith.com and for writers at  SellYourNonfiction.com.  Join her on Twitter as @LaurieSargent.  ” I received my copy of The Moses Quilt for review from New Hope Publishers, yet my positive review is based solely on my being blessed by and personally growing from reading this book. If a book doesn’t impact me in some way, I leave it for others to review, so reviews you see by me at Finding God Daily will be for books that I highly recommend.”

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