Do all the good you can, every day, in every way that you are able.

As you all know, I’ve been sewing pillowcases for charities for a while.  So far since Jan. 1 of 2016, my mother and I have made 400 pillowcases for charities such as the El Paso, Lubbock, Amarillo and Albuquerque Ronald McDonald Houses, St. Andrew’s Hospitality House and more recently I made them for Veterans in local nursing homes.  I still have some to deliver, but more than half of them have been distributed to their intended locations.   The more of these I make, the more ideas I have of who these pillowcases can serve.

I have learned several things about this simple, repetitive, project.  One thing is that repetitive action, if productive, is very relaxing, and gives you a feeling of accomplishment.  Spending my time producing something useful is very gratifying.  The other thing I learned is that, small things mean a lot especially to the two ends of the life experience.  Very small kids and older people in nursing homes respond the same way, with delight, when receiving even the smallest gift when it is given personally.  Most institutions will take your donations, have you sign a donor list and send you on your way.  When you get the opportunity to personally give your small gift to individuals, it makes you more connected to the recipient and more likely to want to continue to give more of yourself in the future.  If you are one of those people that like to give anonymously there are lots of opportunities to do that.  But if you want to share the light Jesus put in you and spark that light in someone else, find the thing that lets you make human, one on one contact with someone.   

I had two of the best experiences happen in the past month.  I had been praying for a personal experience of connection with someone who would receive one of my pillowcases.  The first was delivering red, white and blue pillowcases to Veteran’s in nursing homes on Veteran’s Day.  Responses of nursing home residents were as varied as their physical and medical situations.  Some didn’t know I was in the room, most didn’t know what to say and were surprised that a stranger came to give them something.  But the ones that sat up and started telling you stories of their military adventures were really enjoyable.  I knew I sparked a memory in them that was important, and it was important to them that someone heard it.  I was glad to be that person.    

Then on Thanksgiving week, I got to deliver to Ronald McDonald House in Amarillo, Texas.  The coordinator there, Mrs. Jan Plequette, has been my contact person there for 4 years.  She arranged for me to meet the Child Life Specialist at North West Texas Children’s Hospital.  When I got there, the staff picked out a pillowcase that they thought would perfectly fit a particular patient they wanted me to meet.  Her name was Mila.  She was 4 and receiving infusions that day.   I was not allowed to know her illness because of HIPAA regulations, but they put me in a disposable isolation gown and gloves and let me give her this specially chosen pillowcase myself.  This little girl was the brightest piece of sunshine I have ever met.   The nurses there at the hospital said that this little girl keeps them all cheered up.  And she was so sweet I had the best time talking to her.  I wish I could have taken her home with me and kept her for a sister.  I would love to have someone like this in my life on a daily basis.  Her mother was so sweet too.  She said she was happy and grateful that a complete stranger would give her daughter a little gift that made the time they spent there at the hospital more comfortable and a less bland and boring experience.  

That experience was my ideal, the dream I had in my mind all along, coming true.  On Veteran’s Day, after delivering pillowcases all day, we went to the VFW for their fundraiser dinner in Cloudcroft, NM.  There I saw the man I knew as Santa Claus my whole life.  He was the man that worked at our local mall and posed for Christmas pictures.  He has been Santa for every Toys for Tots event, every charitable Christmas project and event in Alamogordo for my entire life.  He was there, eating dinner and had a Vietnam Veteran jacket on.  I had never spoken to him outside of his role as Santa.  As he left, I went to our car, and picked out an extra red, white and blue pillowcase and gave it to him.  I thanked him for his service to our country, as I had with all the veterans in the nursing homes I met that day.  And he thanked me and said he knew I made a lot of old people happy that day, and that’s what is so great about being Santa – so we had a little something in common.  I guess if I had to choose a title, I’d choose “The Pillowcase Fairy”.   I really can’t pull off Santa Jr.   

The marketing director at North West Texas Children’s Hospital said she hoped that my doing this would spark interest in others to do something and hopefully encourage kids to do things that were small random acts of kindness.  That is what I hoped to do with this article.  To tell kids that they are an important part of the world and that their outlook on life, if carried with them through adulthood, can affect the world around them.  At the least, an attitude of giving can affect their own life, and at the most, it can affect all those that have received from them.  It may spark others to pay it forward in their own way.  And every different way you can think of to pay it forward is necessary in some way to someone.  

To all the kids who dream of affecting the world in a big way, do it in a way that you know makes Jesus proud, have him as your partner, and you can accomplish anything you set your mind to.


100_3566   Madeleine Fazenbaker is 14 years old and is a wonderfully gifted young lady that lives in New Mexico.  She is very active in her church and her community and truly is a young woman after God’s own heart.  Why pillowcases?  Because when you lay your head on a pillow to rest you can remember this:  “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28 One of her favorite scriptures for small acts of kindness:  Hebrews 6:10 –  God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.

3 Things I Would Tell My 18-Year-Old Self

If I had the finances, luck, or a DeLorean complete with a flux capacitor I would love to travel back in time. Of course, I would love to travel through time seeing various events throughout the past and even into the future. Unfortunately, to my knowledge, time travel is not a reality at this point in time… or at least that’s what I want you to think! One of the trips that I would make back in time is to my 18-year-old self. Fresh out of high school, on my own, in college, and working up to 4 jobs all at once. I would like to tell myself 3 very real truths I wish I would have known some 14 years ago. I do not have many regrets in life, and these 3 bits of encouragement to myself or anyone in the same position are not about regrets, simply encouragement.

1.  Save your money. Just because you have a little bit of money doesn’t mean you have to spend it. Save your money and when you spend it, spend it wisely. Spend your money on things that will provide you lifelong memories, not temporary happiness.

2.  See the world. There are really awesome towns and sites to see so close to you. Go see the world that is right in your backyard and then keep going. Don’t limit yourself to the big cities stop in the small towns too. Get off the interstate, take your time, cruise. This world is full of rich history and people. Take the time to travel the world and hear people’s stories.

3.  Slow down and smell the roses. Take the time to take all that life is throwing at you in. You will have the opportunity to experience great joys and great tragedies, take them all in. Good, bad, right, and wrong these moments make you who you are. Slow down and take them in, let them shape you into who God is calling you to be and where God is calling you.

Life is an amazing thing. There is not a moment or experience that I regret or take back. My life is not perfect nor has it gone exactly as planned but at the end of the day, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I would simply slow down a little bit and take it all in. Life is too short to spend it worrying about money, missed opportunities, and missed moments. The fortunate thing about this life is we do not have to have a time machine, we can life into these ideas and hopes today, no matter our age. Enjoy life. You owe it to yourself and your family.

 


15259719_10153880565206441_5213022733762386602_oRev Zach Bechtold is the Co-Founder of BeardedTheologians and a Pastor for the United Methodist Church in New Mexico.  When Zach is not sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ he is fighting crime as the masked avenger “Beardy Face”, but don’t tell anyone!

Three Things I would Tell My High School Self. By Matt Franks

A lot has happened in 16 years in our world since I walked across the stage and graduated as a Miami Wardog. Last week we asked Jake to write for us on the topic: 3 things I would tell my high school self. Zach and I felt that we should also look at this question. Zach will write his next week.

 

1st words of wisdom I would share to my High School Self: Don’t be Scared

Some of my moments of greatness over the last 16 years have come because I did not let fear take a hold of me. The first mission trip I would take, I had to fly on a plane something I was not too excited about especially not so long after 9/11. There have been a lot of cool things that I have been able to experience because I conquered fear that was attempting to stunt my growing. I have also let go of the fear of the other and have gotten to know people that I would have not encountered and get to know had I let that fear. Jesus dinner party with sinners in Mark 2:13-17 was the verse that pointed me in that direction.

2nd words of wisdom I would share to my High School Self:Do or Do not there is no try.

These wise words from Yoda  have really motivated me in my life and ministry since I left high school.

3rd words of wisdom I would share to my High School Self: Kill Them With Kindness

 

This was a lesson I learned early on in my ministry. I wish I would have known that in High School.  But killing my enemies  with kindness has been a great lesson to learn and there have been times when my enemies then became my friends or best ministry partners.

What are some words of wisdom you would give your high school self?


franksprofileAbout our writer: Rev. Matt Franks

My xbox gammer tag is rabbi franks, on Tuesday nights you will find me navigating Destiny because it is reset day. When I am not investing in my hobby of Beardcasting, I serve as Lead Pastor of FUMC Locust Grove (for a few more days). I also coach the Stars U8 Soccer team which our motto is 40 min. of chaos. I have a great wife Ashley who writes for us from time to time and two kids.

 

 

 

Beardcast for 5.18.17 with Rev. Sarah Heath

This week we sit down with Rev. Sarah Heath as she talks about her book What’s Your Story?: Seeing Your Life Through God’s Eyes

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3 Things I Would Tell My High School Self by Jake Tatarian

 

I graduate from Seminary in May. It’s a strange thing being on the precipice of the end of my foreseeable future as a student and seeing a future that is not filled with homework assignments and sitting in a classroom, looking at a clock, counting down the time until you can leave. Nearing this crossroads of a major transition in my life, I have found myself looking both backwards at what you’ve accomplished and forward, to a future that is full of boundless opportunity.

Looking back, I can see the personal transformations that I have undertaken and continue to experience, especially in recent years as I feel I have undergone the most radical transformations since I left high school. In light of this, I have decided to write this letter to my high school self: three things my current self would tell my high school self in the hopes that you, too, might find some encouraging message within.

 

  1. Take School Seriously…But Not Too Seriously.

School is important. Your education is important: it lays the foundation for the rest of your life and, in my case, is a prerequisite for beginning the career I want to build. Doing well in school and making sure you do your work not only establishes good work habits during your formative years, but getting good grades allows you to continue on in your education to college and beyond.

However.

School should not consume your life to the point that you never have any fun. Life is meant to be experienced and there are a whole lot of fun things that you can do instead of spending all of your time outside of a classroom with your nose buried in a book. Class time is a serious time for soaking up what the teachers want you to learn, but it’s OK to keep it a little bit light-hearted too. Enjoy it—you’re not a student forever.

 

  1. You Have to be Intentional About Your Friendships

I remember the summer between my high school graduation and the beginning of college and all of the pacts that were made that we would always keep in touch and my friendship with certain people would withstand the inevitable tests of time and distance…and those friendships faded over time. There were never any fights we just quit…talking. Now this is a two-way street, but for your friendships that you want to keep from your high school years, you need to be intentional about maintaining communication and finding time to get together for lunch or to simply hang out and enjoy being in each other’s presence. You spend a lot of time cultivating relationships throughout high school—it would be a shame to lose those because you quit finding time for each other.

 

  1. The Best You is the Real You

Far too many high schoolers spend way too much time trying to be someone they’re not for the sake of popularity or friends. I have news for you, though, that’s very difficult to maintain. Faking an interest in a band or sport, dressing in a fashionable sense where you look cool, but can’t breathe (I’m looking at you, skinny jeans), even picking up on the hip lexicon that all the cool kids are using, but you would be embarrassed to have your parents hear, can become toxic to the real you. Don’t be afraid to let the real you come out of its shell, to let the person God created you to be breathe and experience the world. I’ve found that the more authentic and up front I am about who I am, the easier it is to make friends and foster relationships that are built upon trust much more quickly. Plus, you don’t have the added burden of trying to juggle the masks that you keep in your back pocket depending upon who you’re with at a given moment.

So there you have it. Three things that I would tell my high school self which can be boiled down to this: Throw away the masks, make lots of friends, and enjoy life. There are many wonderful people and experiences to see and God did not mean for our lives to be miserable where we await the day that we might depart this world. So, close your computer screen, go call that person you’ve been meaning to check up on, and plan a get-together to catch up and continue strengthening your friendships.


Picture1.pngJake Tatarian is a soon-to-be seminary graduate and pastor currently living in Oklahoma City. He is a basketball and soccer fan, of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Brighton and Hove Albion, respectively. Jake does not follow baseball, but if pressed for a favorite team, and in keeping with the tradition of this site, he would say his favorite team is the Seattle Mariners.