Happy Celebrations to all November Birthdays and November Anniversaries!

Happy birthday!! We hope your day is filled with lots of love and laughter! May all of your birthday wishes come true. God Bless!

Nov 3     Edward Allender
Nov 6     Summer Wines
Nov 26   Nikki Hendricks
Nov 27   Dylan Johnson

Congratulations & Happy Anniversary to Our November Couples
Sending anniversary congratulations and best wishes for the years ahead to all those celebrating October wedding anniversaries.

4   Dan Wilshire & Karen Cullen

Opening Doors

When I was contacted by the Pastoral Search Committee of First Christian Church nearly 31 years ago, it was after they had selected my resume as someone that they wanted to interview. The selection process was a bit different, in that the chair of the search committee decided to cover the names and gender of the candidates, and ask the committee to make a selection not knowing any specifics about the individual. The purpose of this was to overcome hesitation to consider any female candidates. Following the committee’s decision to proceed with an interview, and ultimately to recommend me to the Board and to the congregation, there were those individuals that said that they would leave the church if a woman was hired. Some did leave. Others stayed and eventually changed their minds. The resistance was rooted in a belief that “scripture” said that women shouldn’t be pastors, or at least not teaching or leading a congregation. For some the thought was “maybe they could be youth pastors or Christian Education leaders, but no lead pastors.” I have always been confident in my calling from God to be ordained and lead a congregation, and continue to stand ready to answer any questions that might arise regarding my gender. While looking back on how the search committee brought my name forward, we might chuckle and think that we have come a long way. But the task to be open and affirming of ALL God’s people is an on-going work in progress for each of us. Not only has scripture been used to exclude women, but it has too often been used to justify hostility and exclusion towards the socially marginalized, including people of color and the LGBTQIA+ community. As Christians we are to inspire faith, hope and love, and we begin to do that when we open the door, and our hearts, to all God’s children and love them as God loves them.

Just as people have asked me how I can “justify” being a woman pastor when their reading of the bible tells them otherwise, I believe that through conversation and questions we can all learn what the scriptures do and don’t say about one another.  I encourage you to attend the panel discussion we are co-hosting with the United Methodist Church on November 9, and I would also hope that if you have questions, ask them.  May we strive to demonstrate in words and action that we value the uniqueness of all God’s people and affirm the worth and dignity of all.

Blessings,

Karen

Continuing an Attitude of Gratitude Beyond November

    It is vital for our spiritual and mental health to pause, reflect and give thanks (and not just on the 4th Thursday of November). Here are some reminders on why and how we can have an attitude of gratitude.
-Gratitude helps us stay in the present. When we’re focused on things we can give thanks for today, we’re not living in the past or worried about the future.
-Gratitude helps us avoid negative thinking, which when left unchecked, leads to negative emotions. You can’t be grateful and envious at the same time.
-Gratitude increases our resistance to stress. Grateful people tend to bounce back more quickly from adversity.
-Gratitude increases our sense of self-worth. Grateful people recognize the contributions others have made to their lives, and this transforms the way they see themselves.
-Three ways to cultivate gratitude
1. Keep a gratitude journal. According to one report, “People are 25 percent happier and more energetic if they keep gratitude journals, have 20 percent less envy and resentment, sleep 10 percent longer each night and wake up 15 percent more refreshed, exercise 33 percent more, and show a 10 percent drop in blood pressure compared to persons who are not keeping these journals.”
2. Count your blessings on a regular basis. Similar to keeping a gratitude journal, without writing everything down. This can be done in the morning, in the evening, and all throughout the day. It’s the application of the “give thanks in everything” verse.
3. Use visual reminders. This might seem like the training wheels of gratitude, but it can be quite helpful. We tend to take things for granted. Worse, we tend to take God for granted. Simple reminders, like putting Scripture verses in places we’ll regularly see them, can prompt us to be grateful. Some people like to drop notes of gratitude in a “gratitude jar.” And simply seeing friends and loved ones can remind us to be grateful. The point is to do whatever helps us recognize and appreciate our many blessings.
Take time to count your blessings and name them one by one. You will be thankful that you did.
Giving thanks for each of you,
Karen