People who come to our closet meet friendly and loving faces. They are able to receive support with dignity. Kids are able to shop for clothes that they love, just like their friends at school. Parents receive a compassionate ear, sincere encouragement, and prayer. The closet is stocked with clothes that are given, sorted, and displayed with care. It is incredible to compare the Neighborhood Closet today with its launch a year ago.
The Neighborhood Closet was launched around the same time that I started working in our office, which means I’ve had the joy of watching the team plan their system, find volunteers, gather donations from our congregation, serve families, smooth out their processes, make connections with families, and become a staple of the Coeur d’Alene community.
In the office, I get a front seat view of the difference that is being made in people’s lives. From my desk, I answer the phone calls of families seeking an appointment. I also get to hear the gratitude and praise from ministries such as St.Vinny’s, Love INC, and McKinney-Vento as they refer people to 1st Pres. From the children’s check-in on Sundays, I’ve been able to see a couple of our families stop by for a church service. This has all been a joy to watch!
But it wasn’t until I got to volunteer in an appointment myself that the impact of the ministry was clear. I got to see a little girl excitedly pick out matching lunchboxes for her and her best friend. I watched as Suzy and Katherine prayed with the mother, comforting her when she cried about her daughter growing up. I was able to see human connection and godly love. It seemed like a small and cheerful part of my workday at the time, but as I continued through my day to day I realized that the experience had truly impacted me.
At a recent lunch with the Closet team I was able to hear similar stories of impactful moments from each and every volunteer. In each story was a connection and love that was inspiring.
This Sunday, our middle and high schoolers took a tour of our Neighborhood Closet. They helped provide feedback to our “Closeteers” in order to make sure the Neighborhood Closet is stocked with clothes that kids will be excited to wear. This joint effort to better serve our community is just the latest example of the wonderful way that the Neighborhood Closet inspires connection and service. Every time there is a drive for the closet I am blown away by the way the whole church is united in its heart to love and serve.
In His Name, Naomi
dogs on earth; Anatolian Wolf Hounds. Standing on their hind legs, their heads are over 7' high and they can weigh 300 pounds each! Very intimidating!
From there we went to Tarsus, where Saul (St. Paul) of Tarsus lived. we also went to Greece & Bulgaria and saw many more fascinating Eastern Orthodox monasteries with beautiful artwork and histories. Most of them were also carved out of rock. But the most amazing monastery was built by a man with two interesting goals.
The first goal was to charge nothing. Everything was free. Normally, people had to pay for room & board for themselves and their donkey or camel. He charged nothing.
The second goal was to start a choir. No church or monastery ever had a choir prior to this time. And we were standing where sacred church choir music was well documented about 400 A.D. Our guide didn't understand why I dropped my head and went silent. I asked him to repeat what he said so that I could capture his explanation on my iPhone. I was standing on Holy Ground. Yes, it was a monastery. But it was also the birthplace of Sacred Christian Choral Music.
Thanks be to God!
In His Name,
are represented in our church. Parents were helping children with their plates, and friends helped push some of our honored members in their wheelchairs to a table. People were serving one another, and everyone was excited about the growing dessert table. Our gym was a kaleidoscope of ages and backgrounds. I think one of the best pictures of this was when my great-niece Violet, who is 5 months old, made eye contact with Nina who is in her nineties. They shared smiles; seeing these two women — both young and old--was beyond heartwarming!
I think the reason I like potlucks, beyond the cheesy potatoes, is that they always remind me of a coming feast. The Bible describes heaven in a lot of detail. We know what the streets will be made of, we know there will be trees, and we even have the measurements. So many details of the structure and layout helps us long for heaven and, in some way, be familiar with what will be our future home someday. But there is one thing that is mentioned with very little detail: the Wedding Feast of the Lamb. I mean, where is the sign-up sheet so we don't have 20 green salads? What is the table layout; who is running the grill? Our potlucks are planned out for weeks so that everyone can feel welcome and comfortable. The biggest fear of all church-goers is running out of food, and, yet, the Bible is unnervingly silent on the details for this feast.
What I do know is that God is preparing a feast for us. I remember this feast every time we celebrate communion. In church, I see parents and children lined-up in the aisle; our older members are served and cared for. Young and old are welcome at Christ’s table. We remember Jesus’s words and His sacrifice, and together we eat and drink the simple bread and cup. Christians do this all over the world as we remember Jesus and look forward to being with Him someday. Sometimes we even put the two together, simple bread and wine will be replaced by a feast of celebration where we will all be welcomed in.
As I watched Violet and Nina I realized these two precious women will be seated somewhere at that feast; what a beautiful picture it is to think of God’s love being poured-out to His precious people. I love potlucks, but I long for the day when the church is welcomed home and the real celebration begins.
In His Name,
community with one another. I hope in the coming year, we will strengthen our connections and walk together in whatever season of life in which we find ourselves. Family Camp was such a great example of all generations coming together to build and strengthen our foundations in Christ. It was amazing to hear from families who had been coming to camp for years, parents who were former camp counselors back in their college years, and new friends from all walks of life.
If you’ve met my daughter, you know that her personality is really popping these days. She loves to smile and make friends with everyone in the room. Camp was no exception. She effortlessly made friends of all ages throughout our time. One really awesome blessing that came of her new found friendships was the addition of some of her new friends at meal times. I’ll be completely honest and admit that walking into the dining hall on night one had me flashing back to a middle school cafeteria … walking in slowly, searching for a friend in the crowd while simultaneously trying not to make eye contact with strangers …
That has me thinking about our upcoming potluck this weekend. Does someone newer to us or walking through our doors for the first time feel a similar flashback moment when they walk into the gym for our big potluck? I really want to encourage each of us to make a new friend(s) and invite them to join us at our tables this Sunday. While we may have to add chairs around our table this week, I’m thankful that there’s already a spot for each of us at God’s table. Let’s demonstrate LOVE1st to our whole church family and church visitors this weekend and make sure no one is left out! See you Sunday!
In His Name, Kierstie
Our staff is voluntold each week and with grace they share their thoughts.