From the monthly archives: June 2016

We are pleased to present below all posts archived in 'June 2016'. If you still can't find what you are looking for, try using the search box.

Moving Forward: Lessons in Celebration and Reconciliation


If you work on a church staff, your co-workers are much more than that. They are your friends. They are co-members of the church. They are your pastors. Consequently, there is much more at stake when a church cuts its staff. To understate it, it’s complicated. For the staff at Summitview, 2015 was a year of dramatic change. Staff positions were eliminated in an effort to balance our budget.

Vanessa Felhauer was one of the staffers to be laid off. While she is now in private practice and is a preferred provider through Summitview, which offers financial assistance for women and children seeking her counseling services, Vanessa worked at Summitview in many capacities over the last 15 years.

This change placed pressure on a variety of long-term relationships. Vanessa and the Summitview pastors certainly experienced this pressure. They have made mistakes over the last few months — but they have extended grace, as well. We share this email exchange between Vanessa and Nathan Hrouda, Mitch Majeski, Perry Paulding and Aaron Ritter as an attempt to show what they learned along the way. It has been edited for readability.

Mitch: So, I still look back on the day you were laid off with heaviness of heart — it was a rough day. As you look back on October 2015, how would you describe the emotional journey of moving out of employment as a staff member at Summitview? What relational challenges were most difficult in that transition?

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A Hike with Wild Ponies: Finding Courage Together in Unlikely Places


It is a truth universally acknowledged that when one has the opportunity to hike with wild ponies, one must make haste and go. — Jane Austen/Stephanie Carney

Wild ponies. Need there be any other motivation to drive three hours from Knoxville, Tennessee up into the Grayson Highlands of Virginia? I think not. Wild ponies are practically akin to unicorns, the appeal so great, the notion so magical.

The three-hour drive was forest beautiful, dotted with Christmas tree farms, but could also win the award for Drive Most Likely To Ensure Car Sickness For Every Passenger. The day was gray and overcast, with spitting rain and wind. A large portion of the state park was closed for an active hunt. (Nothing like hiking with shots ringing in the distance.) Plus, we knew we were under-dressed. These conditions are not necessarily a recipe for hiking success.

We had hiked an inconsequential distance when I sensed that this hike could go south rapidly. I looked over at my son next to me and said, “The goal is for everyone to be encouraged enough to make it to the top. We do this together.”

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It’s All Sound and Fury Until You Find Your True Self in Jesus


“Give your life to Jesus.”

That one sentence was a major hangup for me to becoming a Christian. Though I had “prayed the prayer” in a youth group, in my heart I had said, “I don’t want to give my life to Jesus. My life is mine!” In truth, I was afraid of losing my identity.

From Shakespeare’s words, “To thine own self be true,” to Oprah Winfrey, espousing how to stay true to ourselves, we are surrounded by this notion of discovering and keeping our true identity. Therein lies the challenge: Who am I, really? And what does it really mean to be true to myself?

One popular interpretation seems to be to just say whatever we want to say. In essence, just take the filter off. At least one presidential candidate believes this, touting the fact that he is just “telling it like it is.” But is that really the case? Does simply saying whatever is on my mind mean that I am being authentic — being true to myself?

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Happy Campers: Finding Glory in the Beauty and the Struggle


I went camping with the family up the Poudre Canyon last weekend. It was both a struggle and a gift. And doesn’t that describe so much of life? Here are some of my thoughts that I penned from the shoreline of the Poudre.

There is incredible beauty in this place. The sun beats down on the hillside on the other side of the river, but here, in the midst of stately trees, there is a delightful coolness. I sit on the bank of the river and its roar drowns out everything else — the cars on the highway behind me, the campers nearby. In this moment and this place it is just me and the river and a small gray bird flitting over the water. And over it all is the glorious light that shines dappled on the forest floor, that reflects the whitecaps on the water and spills over everything. These are just a few of the gifts.

But then there is the 5-year-old boy running wild and poison ivy everywhere. We’ll see how that turns out. And there is the river that invites you to dip your toes in but can turn on you in an instant, wildly swollen with snowmelt. Yesterday, there was the thunderstorm that hit just as we were getting the tent set up and the rain fly that we put up backwards and inside out and every which way but right. And finally there are the pit toilets. Yes, the struggles are real.

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Home Again? On the Possibilities and Limitations of FFH


This one hits close to home. On May 27, the Coloradoan ran Sarah Jane Kyle’s full-length feature on Fawn Martin and her son, Zayden, who have been in the Faith Family Hospitality program for six months. The article gives a detailed account of how they became homeless after fleeing domestic violence in Arizona and how the FFH program works.

It’s a stark read. The excerpt below shows with sobering clarity the challenges FFH families face:


The average length of stay for FFH families who successfully move into housing is 68 nights. Martin has been in the program nearly three times longer than the average, though not quite as long as the program's longest stay of 427 nights.

As of mid-May, 91 families have shuffled in and out of FFH's network of religious groups since the program welcomed its first family on Jan. 31, 2012.

Fawn is returning for the third time to churches she initially hoped she'd never sleep in again.

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