SPARK Talks 2019: Week 3

She thought near-death experiences could be explained by science until it happened to her. Dr. Mary Neal shares what happened when she drowned, went to heaven and came back to life. Jen Kendall looks different than most people. Hear about her experiences and why she wants your kids to go ahead and ask her the awkward questions.

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    I started dancing when I was four years old.
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    I danced in the living room, in the kitchen, in the shower, even
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    during recess at school that was pretty much how I played.
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    From a young age God placed this passion in me to create a
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    movement that makes others feel something, to tell stories that
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    anyone can interpret in their own way.
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    When I dance in front of people, I'm letting them in.
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    I'm opening up and sharing a connection.
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    Dancing for me connects me to God because every time I create
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    using dance I'm reminded that I'm an extension of Him, the
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    ultimate creator.
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    Over time I noticed how no two dancers moved exactly the same,
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    the same way God may no two people exactly alike, which is kind
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    of crazy when you think about it.
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    Seven billion people in the world and no repeats?
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    No glitches?
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    So I create because it allows me to express exactly who I was
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    created to be.
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    God sparked in me a desire to speak to others through dance.
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    So in other words, I was created to create.
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    And honestly, I think we're all made to dance.
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    I'm Laurent and dancing is what ignites life in me.
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    Well, hello Crossroads.
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    My name is Sharday and I'm one of the worship leaders around
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    here. And this week we are on week three of our Spark Talks
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    And we get to hear from different people what God is doing in
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    their lives and how they've been changed.
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    And what we're going to spend some time on is singing to a God
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    who loves us and who has definitely changed my life.
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    So would you stand up and join us?
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    And if you're watching at home, turn up the volume and join us.
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    We're glad you're here.
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    Well, I love that part of our church service where we actually
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    get to worship together.
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    It's something that followers of Jesus have been doing for
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    years and years.
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    And it's a way to bring us together as a church to be on the
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    same page.
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    And it's a way for us to posture ourselves to be ready to hear
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    and to feel and to experience what we're going to experience
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    next in the midst of church.
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    My name is Lena Schuler.
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    I'm the Crossroads Anywhere Community Pastor.
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    And the beautiful thing about Crossroads is you can take
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    Crossroads with you anywhere you might be.
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    You might be in a living room right now like the one I'm in or
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    a hotel room or the airport.
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    Maybe you're at your parents' house home for the summer.
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    And your church can still be your church regardless of what city
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    or what place you're in right now.
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    And one way to do that and to stay connected to your church, to
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    stay connected to other people, and to stay connected to God
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    throughout the summer is to download the Crossroads App and use
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    it on a daily basis.
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    There's some great things in there to help you form some new
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    habits and just keep you connected to people and to the church.
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    So you can get that in any of the places that you normally get
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    your apps on your phone.
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    Well, in just a week we have something fun and new happening
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    this summer called The Summer Social where we have gatherings
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    happening all over the country right near our Crossroads
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    locations and in cities all over outside of the Greater
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    Cincinnati or Lexington areas for you to maybe make some
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    lifelong friends, for you to make some new connections who are
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    people who are part of your church that might just be the ones
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    that become your very best friends.
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    I don't know, why wouldn't you try that?
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    This is your last chance to sign up. It's
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    happening this weekend, the weekend of July 19th all over the
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    place: backyards, backyard barbecues, and parties and in
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    And so you head to,
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    you can see all of the places that that's happening and sign up
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    for one of those socials right near you.
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    Well you know, one of the things that I love to watch and hear
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    and feel is when we get to hear a story of someone whose life
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    has been impacted through the church.
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    More specifically someone who's found a belonging, who's found
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    friendship, and who's found a deeper relationship with God
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    because of their connection to the church.
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    And we have a story of a woman in Seattle who has experienced
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    that and that is all made possible because of generous givers
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    like you and like me and like my family and my friends who have
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    given up time and who have given up money because we want to
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    see more people find belonging, want to find friendship, want
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    to find a deeper relationship with God.
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    And we want to see that happen through the church.
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    So if that describes you, if that's something you want, you can
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    become a giver right now by heading to
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    And while we do that, why don't we check out Cathy's
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    story who you might not ever meet, but who you will have
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    impacted if you are a generous giver and part of the Crossroads
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    team. Let's check it out.
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    So, I'm originally from Seattle.
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    About 10 years ago I decided to settle in Atlanta, Georgia.
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    Two and a half years ago my brother, who I dearly loved and he
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    was kind of my hero, passed away unexpectedly.
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    So, I came back.
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    I worked very hard to help my parents move from this three
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    story house they were in to a single level home.
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    But two weeks after we moved them into their new home my mother
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    had a stroke.
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    And she had a stroke with me standing right in front of her.
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    This past December I was diagnosed with stage three breast
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    cancer. So I had difficulty just -- just getting to church.
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    I was broken after all I had been through.
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    It was like I was mad with God about this diagnosis.
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    It was like I would be rolling my eyes and saying, "Really?
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    Are you kidding me?"
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    You know one more thing.
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    You know cancer can be very isolating, plus I'm single.
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    So I was feeling alone in my space.
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    And then I felt like I had this very isolating disease.
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    So you know, I did the kind of the church hopping for a while
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    and decided to do church at home.
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    And my best friend Lynn, who we've known -- I've known for the
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    last 20 years, she helped me kind of think outside the box.
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    There ended up being a Crossroads community here in Seattle.
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    You know folks meeting in a home.
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    I hadn't really thought about worshipping in a home.
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    I had always been a churchgoer, but one of the
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    -- you know, Katie Meyer who is one of the Crossroads members
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    here in Seattle reached out to me via email.
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    So we ended up meeting at one of the local restaurants. And
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    it felt like I was being introduced to my family.
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    Katie was warm and inviting.
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    Scott and Janine who are hosting the service, it just felt
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    really good.
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    I came and participated one time and I was hooked.
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    I just felt like I had been familiar.
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    They were familiar to me even though we had never met.
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    The more we hung out together, the more we enjoyed church
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    together, the closer that relationship became.
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    So, I show up typically a little early, you know.
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    Say hello to everyone and come in the kitchen and have my
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    Then we'll sit down and watch the service around 11:00.
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    And after service is over we have an opportunity to just kind
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    of share our thoughts about the service.
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    And then prayer, which is really powerful because we each get an
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    opportunity to either pray for someone else or ask for prayer.
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    And now having this renewed essence of Christ kind of residing
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    within me makes it a whole lot easier to get through those
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    tough times, because I know it's not always gonna be like this.
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    And you know, it's just -- it's awesome.
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    Am I big or am I little?
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    Am I kid or am I a mommy?
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    Well hey, everyone, my name is Jen Kendall I'm from Crossroads
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    on the East Side of Cincinnati and I work in Kids Club.
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    And I'm here today to tell you that I want your kids to see me.
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    I want them to see me early and see me often because I believe
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    that that'll change the world for all of us.
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    Well, hey, I am a mom.
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    I have two kids Ezra and Eleanor.
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    My husband Dave and I have been married for 15 years and before
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    this I was an actor.
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    I traveled the world.
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    And what else can I tell you?
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    Like my favorite store is Target.
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    And guys, I just finished watching Stranger Things.
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    And like you guys, I'm not OK.
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    So like all of that is pretty normal.
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    You guys can go through that too.
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    But if you're looking at me you can tell right away that there's
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    something different about me.
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    I mean I don't know if you can tell what it is, but I have
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    dwarfism. I'm a little person.
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    And what that means is that my arms and my legs didn't grow like
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    the rest of my body did.
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    Now I'm going to throw some facts at you, okay?
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    There are 200 different types of dwarfism, minus the most
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    common. I have Achondroplasia.
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    So like you don't have to remember that word.
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    Just think like Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones and like all my
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    friends on TLC shows.
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    And also, you don't have to be a little person to have a little
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    person. So my parents were average sized and when I was born
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    like, surprise.
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    also I'm -- other than my size, like I'm pretty healthy.
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    So, all of that to say my dwarfism affects the way that I
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    interact with the world and the way the world interacts with
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    Sometimes it can be really good, like I wear kid-sized shoes and
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    so I pay kid-sized prices. [laughter].
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    And in general people are really, really nice.
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    If I ever need help like they're right away, you know, helping
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    me. And like there's so many other perks, but the best one was
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    a one time I was in Paris with my husband.
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    And we were trying to buy tickets to a museum and we were told
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    like you can't buy a ticket.
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    What? Well we couldn't buy a ticket because we were little and
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    little people got in for free.
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    So that's good.
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    Now sometimes being little, like it's kind of awkward and
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    usually that involves kids.
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    So if you've been around kids very long you know that when they
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    have something to say they're very vocal and they don't hold
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    So I work in Kids Club every weekend I get all the questions,
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    you guys.
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    All of them.
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    Why are you so little?
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    Why do you look like that?
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    Why are you fat? [laughter].
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    How old are you?
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    How tall are you?
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    Did you know I'm taller than you?
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    And then we move on and it quickly turns into like: did you know
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    my cat had three kittens yesterday?
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    Kids are great now.
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    Now it's the parents that are with them that I feel sorry for.
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    Parents, you guys do a really great job, but some of you like I
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    can feel the tension rolling off of your body when your kid
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    says something to me.
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    And I want to tell you it's OK.
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    A lot of you guys want to say like, "Don't say that.
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    Don't stare.
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    Leave her alone.".
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    You want to say that, I get it.
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    Or you want to be like this guy.
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    I was at the airport the other day and I was waiting to go
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    through security.
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    And you know how like security now you have to walk through
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    these forever lines, like it's like a maze.
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    So I'm in line and behind me a little boy gets in line and he
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    sees me and he stops.
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    And then his dad is coming up behind him and he's got like the
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    smart cart was like the luggage on top in the car seat and
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    everything, bumps into the little boy from behind and
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    says, "Keep going, buddy.".
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    Well the little boy can't move because he sees me and Hello.
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    Well then dad sees me and the rest of the trip kind of goes
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    like this.
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    "Still here.".
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    So I'm walking. The
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    little boy is desperate to say something, but he can't because
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    dad is like moving his body between me and his son.
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    Now, parents, I get it.
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    That's -- It's not rude.
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    I get what you're trying to do.
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    You're trying to protect my feelings from whatever might come
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    out of your kid's mouth.
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    So, I get it.
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    I'm a parent too and nobody teaches you how to do these things.
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    So I'm gonna help you out.
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    Okay? When your kid sees somebody like me and they say
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    something and you're like, guh-ooo.
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    Okay, instead of saying like, "Leave him alone. Don't
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    stare. Come over here," because like I can still hear you and
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    like this happens all the time, so I can tell.
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    Instead of saying those things, all you have to do is say, "Can
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    you say hi?"
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    And what that does is it brings me into the conversation, it
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    brings me in together with you instead of separated apart.
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    So that's all you gotta do.
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    "Can you say hi?".
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    Does it have to be this way though? Like
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    does it have to be like red carpet rolled out or like awkward
  • 00:24:11
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    And I don't think so.
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    The answer is No.
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    You see when kids see me, when they call me out, they're just
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    curious and they're looking to me to give them language for
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    what they're seeing and what they're feeling.
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    So, like any sane person I put myself in Kids' Club to try that
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    out. I started serving in Oakley actually on Saturday nights in
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    third and fourth grade.
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    And third fourth graders are the best.
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    Like they still laugh at your jokes and they still talk to
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    you. And like this is not a barrier for them, like they get
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    over it really quickly.
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    When I went to East Side though with my family I got put with
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    the kindergartners.
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    Let me tell you, kindergartners are terrible at hiding their
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    So they would see me and it would kind of go like this.
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    So to help him out I had to come up with this little speech. And
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    I would start every service like this.
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    I would say, and you've actually heard it, it was at the
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    I would say am I big or am I little?
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    And they'd say you're little.
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    Am I a kid or am I a mommy?
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    You're a mommy.
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    And I'd say, "you're right.
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    I'm a little mommy and that's okay," and then we would move on.
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    So I would say that so much that the kids -- the kids would
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    say, "You're a little mommy, we get it." [laughter].
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    So I want your kids to see me early and see me often because I
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    believe that that'll change the world for all of us.
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    And especially for my daughter, because my daughter is little
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    like me.
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    And I don't want her to go through what I went through.
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    You see not every moment is just kind of awkward.
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    And not every person is kind.
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    Man: You guys all right?
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    Man: You guys good?
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    You guys done?
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    Man: You guys done?
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    That's my reality.
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    That was shot by a little person friend, but it's happened to
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    all of us.
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    And you never know when it's going to happen.
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    I was pumping gas the other day and a man taps me on the
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    shoulder and says, "Ma'am, turn around."
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    And I turn around and there's a guy filming me from his car.
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    I'm pumping gas and he's laughing.
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    Or if it's not that guy, it's teenagers that take pictures of me
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    and my family when we're out thinking that we can't tell.
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    We can tell.
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    We just pretend we don't see you.
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    Or if it's not them, it's the kids that would follow me home on
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    the way from school.
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    And they would laugh and they would say over and over and over
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    again, "Midget."
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    Somebody modeled that for them.
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    Somewhere down the line somebody told them it's okay to treat
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    people that way.
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    Or worse, when they were little and they saw somebody
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    different they weren't given tools on how to handle it.
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    And they still can't handle it.
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    So I'm in Kids' Club today because I know that when kids get
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    over this then I can speak into that.
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    In Kids' Club I can show up and I can be there and I can answer
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    their questions and I can take everything that they throw at me
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    and I can be there week after week after week.
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    It costs me something.
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    I mean, I have to color a lot. [laughter]
  • 00:28:28
    I have to learn how to play.
  • 00:28:31
    Sometimes there's kids, they don't know anything about Jesus,
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    but they do know everything about Fortnight.
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    So now I'm learning about battle buses and loot and squads
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    because I have to connect with that kid.
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    You know change doesn't happen overnight.
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    It's from consistency over time.
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    And I don't have time to wait.
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    I'm not the smartest, I'm not the strongest.
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    I don't have a degree, but I can use what I have to get the
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    conversation started and it sounds like this:
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    I'm little.
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    And that's okay.
  • 00:29:08
    I'm not going anywhere.
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    I'm staying right here.
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    Do you know Jesus?
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    Do you know that He's your rescuer and He loves you?
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    And that's how you start to change the world.
  • 00:29:20
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    So, if you've got something different about you, maybe it's
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    physical, maybe it's the color of your skin.
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    Maybe it's your story or where you're from.
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    If you've got something different about you, then your voice
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    should be in Kids' Club.
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    These kids need to hear from you.
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    And together with your voice then we can change the world for
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    the better.
  • 00:29:52
    Thank you.
  • 00:29:53
  • 00:30:05
    Hello. I used to be a very typical American Christian.
  • 00:30:12
    I went to Sunday school when I was a kid.
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    I was confirmed in the church when I was in middle school.
  • 00:30:19
    And then I went to college and medical school and training and I
  • 00:30:25
    bought into the idea that you had to choose between science and
  • 00:30:29
  • 00:30:32
    Now I was a good person.
  • 00:30:35
    I mean I certainly bought into the concept of being a good
  • 00:30:37
    person and honest and ethical and a woman of integrity and all
  • 00:30:41
    those sorts of things.
  • 00:30:43
    But the fact is I was really busy.
  • 00:30:48
    I became a wife, a full time surgeon.
  • 00:30:51
    I was the director spine surgery at a big university.
  • 00:30:55
    Pretty soon I had four little kids to take care of.
  • 00:30:58
    I mean Jesus to me was one more thing on my to do list that I
  • 00:31:04
    knew I was never gonna get to.
  • 00:31:08
    But that all changed one day in 1999 when I died.
  • 00:31:13
    And yes, I literally mean died.
  • 00:31:17
    I spent 30 minutes under eight to ten feet of water without
  • 00:31:22
    oxygen at the base of this waterfall.
  • 00:31:27
    And while I was under water and dying, I asked that God's will
  • 00:31:34
    be done.
  • 00:31:35
    And the minute I asked that I was immediately overcome with a
  • 00:31:38
    very, very physical sensation of being held and comforted and
  • 00:31:41
    reassured by Christ.
  • 00:31:44
    And He took me through a life review that was like nothing I
  • 00:31:48
    could have imagined.
  • 00:31:49
    I was reinserted into every one of the most painful memories of
  • 00:31:53
    my life.
  • 00:31:54
    But this time was different.
  • 00:31:56
    I had a complete understanding of the life story of the other
  • 00:32:02
    people involved and I felt nothing but compassion,
  • 00:32:07
    even for the people who had hurt me deeply.
  • 00:32:12
    And I discovered that where God's love is present there is no
  • 00:32:15
    room for destructive emotion.
  • 00:32:20
    I discovered Grace.
  • 00:32:24
    And then I was also shown the beauty that came out of each and
  • 00:32:29
    every one of those painful experiences when seen from a distant
  • 00:32:35
  • 00:32:39
    Eventually my body came over the front deck of my boat. And
  • 00:32:43
    when that happened my spirit rose up and out of the river and I
  • 00:32:46
    was immediately greeted by a group of people or spirits, beings
  • 00:32:53
    who were so overjoyed to welcome me home.
  • 00:32:57
    I know that they had loved me and known me as long as I have
  • 00:33:00
  • 00:33:01
    And even as I was with them and rejoicing I could look back at
  • 00:33:05
    the river and I could see my friends pull my bloated purple
  • 00:33:10
    body to shore and watch them start CPR.
  • 00:33:14
    And I had a wonderful life.
  • 00:33:17
    But even as I watched that I knew that I was home and I had no
  • 00:33:23
    intention of returning.
  • 00:33:26
    And these people or spirits started taking me down this
  • 00:33:30
    beautiful pathway that exploded with colors and flowers and the
  • 00:33:36
    aromas of flowers, which is what speaks beauty to my soul.
  • 00:33:42
    And I absolutely believe that God presents to each one of us the
  • 00:33:46
    experience at the time of our death that does speak beauty to
  • 00:33:50
    us that lets us know that we are known and loved.
  • 00:33:56
    And we finally got to the end of this pathway and I was there
  • 00:33:59
    for what felt like many, many hours.
  • 00:34:02
    And during my time there I had a complete understanding.
  • 00:34:05
    A complete understanding of the divine order of the universe,
  • 00:34:09
    how it could possibly be true that there is a God that is real
  • 00:34:16
    and present today, knows each and every one of the billions of
  • 00:34:22
    us on this planet individually.
  • 00:34:27
    Loves each and every one of us as though we're the only ones and
  • 00:34:32
    has a plan for each and every one of us and for the world
  • 00:34:35
    that's one of hope.
  • 00:34:38
    And eventually I was told that it wasn't my time, that I had
  • 00:34:41
    more work to do on Earth, and that I would have to go back to
  • 00:34:43
    my body.
  • 00:34:45
    So I did what any reasonable person would do and I said, "I'm
  • 00:34:48
    good. I can stay." [laughter]
  • 00:34:51
    But here I am, I got kicked out.
  • 00:34:55
    But they took that opportunity to then give me this laundry list
  • 00:34:58
    of work yet to be done.
  • 00:35:01
    Everything on the list would be challenging.
  • 00:35:05
    But certainly one of the most challenging things on that list
  • 00:35:09
    had to do with the coming an unexpected death of my eldest son.
  • 00:35:15
    He was hit and killed by a car 10 years later.
  • 00:35:18
    But at that time he was only nine.
  • 00:35:21
    And when I asked the obvious question of why?
  • 00:35:24
    Why my boy?
  • 00:35:26
    I was immediately returned to my life review where I had been
  • 00:35:30
    shown the truth and God's promise that beauty comes of all
  • 00:35:34
    things eventually.
  • 00:35:38
    And I was reminded that it is always a matter of trust, trusting
  • 00:35:42
    God's promises to us.
  • 00:35:45
    And with that then I was reunited with my body.
  • 00:35:50
    And I continued to have supernatural experiences over the next
  • 00:35:56
    couple of weeks.
  • 00:35:58
    But then finally the window, my personal window into heaven
  • 00:36:02
  • 00:36:04
    And I was left with the consequences of my injury and I
  • 00:36:06
    underwent many, many surgeries and many more months of rehab.
  • 00:36:11
    And I spent those many months of rehab trying to figure out what
  • 00:36:14
    had happened to me.
  • 00:36:18
    I researched extensively every possible explanation or excuse
  • 00:36:24
    that anyone had ever mentioned.
  • 00:36:26
    I researched, of course, dreams and hallucinations and D.M.T.
  • 00:36:32
    or other neurotransmitter trips.
  • 00:36:35
    You know, could it have been just the physiologic process of a
  • 00:36:39
    dying brain?
  • 00:36:41
    And at the end of many, many months of research I had to
  • 00:36:44
    conclude that mine had been a true and spiritual experience.
  • 00:36:49
    And I discovered also that science and spirituality actually
  • 00:36:54
    co-exist very easily because they answer different questions.
  • 00:37:00
    And I also discovered that I wasn't alone in this experience.
  • 00:37:04
    Almost 20 million people in this country alone have had this
  • 00:37:09
    sort of profoundly transformative experience.
  • 00:37:14
    And I've spent many years, of course, thinking about my
  • 00:37:16
    experiences and I recognize that my most important
  • 00:37:20
    transformation was moving from hope or a faith in God's
  • 00:37:26
    promises to an absolute trust.
  • 00:37:29
    And I do not mean to discount the faith of the Bible, but faith
  • 00:37:33
    in our culture is so often based on reading or other people's
  • 00:37:37
  • 00:37:39
    And it can certainly be strong, but it can just as easily be
  • 00:37:43
    shaken or lost when challenged.
  • 00:37:46
    But trust is solid.
  • 00:37:50
    Trust is an active choice based on the presence of God and the
  • 00:37:58
    experience of God's trustworthiness in one's own life.
  • 00:38:04
    And I will tell you that trust for me is sort of faith in
  • 00:38:09
  • 00:38:11
    And I will tell you what it looks like in my life.
  • 00:38:15
    First of all, because of trust I'm free.
  • 00:38:21
    I am free from all bondage to my past.
  • 00:38:25
    I don't feel guilt.
  • 00:38:26
    I don't feel remorse, regret for anything I've done or not
  • 00:38:32
  • 00:38:34
    Because I trust that God knows me completely and knows my story,
  • 00:38:43
    knows my feelings.
  • 00:38:45
    And in that knowledge through grace feels nothing but compassion
  • 00:38:50
    for me.
  • 00:38:52
    And I also know that I would feel nothing but compassion for.
  • 00:38:57
    people in my past.
  • 00:39:00
    Because if I knew their true story, I too would feel nothing but
  • 00:39:04
    compassion for them.
  • 00:39:06
    And so I am free from bitterness, hate, anger, even minor
  • 00:39:11
    irritation that people have caused me.
  • 00:39:16
    And I don't have worry or anxiety about my future because I
  • 00:39:20
    trust that God has a plan for my life that is one of hope.
  • 00:39:25
    And I'm certainly not afraid of death.
  • 00:39:29
    I trust and actually I will claim to know that there really is
  • 00:39:35
    life after death, Heaven, whatever you want to call it.
  • 00:39:40
    And I actually believe that it is the very reality of that
  • 00:39:42
    heaven that brings context and meaning and purpose to my own
  • 00:39:47
  • 00:39:50
    And what I mean by that is best shown in this next slide.
  • 00:39:54
    Many of you will see a white cup,
  • 00:39:56
    and some of you will see blue faces.
  • 00:39:59
    But if you focus entirely on the cup you'll miss the context and
  • 00:40:04
    the meaning provided by the faces.
  • 00:40:06
    And if you focus entirely on the blue faces, you'll miss the
  • 00:40:10
    beauty and purpose of the cup.
  • 00:40:13
    Now if you imagine for a minute that that white cup represents
  • 00:40:17
    our life here on Earth and the blue faces represent heaven,
  • 00:40:23
    God's people, God's intention, God's love.
  • 00:40:30
    If you take away that background of heaven.
  • 00:40:34
    Then this white cup of life becomes nothing but potential.
  • 00:40:41
    So, I'm free from my past.
  • 00:40:47
    I don't worry about the future.
  • 00:40:50
    And Heaven brings a context and meaning to my life.
  • 00:40:55
    So what that means is that I am absolutely free to be fully
  • 00:41:01
    present in every moment of this day.
  • 00:41:07
    And because I trust all of God's promises, that means that I
  • 00:41:16
    also trust what the Bible says about God's presence in my life.
  • 00:41:22
    I trust that God is always present, that there is nothing that
  • 00:41:28
    can separate me from His love.
  • 00:41:32
    That beauty will come of all things in its time.
  • 00:41:38
    And that all things work together for good.
  • 00:41:40
    So what that does is it allows me to rise above my momentary
  • 00:41:44
    circumstances and experience joy.
  • 00:41:49
    It allows me to be free to experience the joy-filled life that I
  • 00:41:52
    believe God intends for each one of us.
  • 00:41:57
    And wonderfully, you don't have to die to make this
  • 00:42:00
  • 00:42:01
    but you do have to open your heart.
  • 00:42:04
    And that is why I am here today, because I want to share my
  • 00:42:09
  • 00:42:10
    But more importantly I want to challenge you, every one of you
  • 00:42:14
    to try to prove anything I've said wrong.
  • 00:42:18
    Because I know that you can't.
  • 00:42:20
    And I also know that in the process of trying, your lives will
  • 00:42:24
    be transformed in ways that you cannot even begin to imagine.
  • 00:42:30
    So thank you and God bless you.
  • 00:42:31
  • 00:42:47
    Well, one of the places where God has been showing up in my
  • 00:42:50
    life, He's been showing up in the oldest verses I think I've
  • 00:42:54
    learned in the Bible back in my Sunday school days.
  • 00:42:58
    And so I want to encourage you from one of those around three
  • 00:43:00
    rituals to make the most of every day.
  • 00:43:04
    And this comes from Psalm 118:24, which says:.
  • 00:43:14
    Now I think this is one of the oldest verses I learned in the
  • 00:43:17
    Bible because I learned a song in church based on this.
  • 00:43:21
    And I'm guessing that wherever you are right now, in every room
  • 00:43:25
    that you're in, if you're in a living room, whatever it is,
  • 00:43:26
    there are other people who know this same song.
  • 00:43:29
    And so to prove this, I'm going to sing it and you're going to
  • 00:43:32
    do what you know to do if you know this song.
  • 00:43:34
    (singing) This is the day. (This is the day)
  • 00:43:38
    That the Lord has made.
  • 00:43:44
    Oh I will rejoice.
  • 00:43:48
    (I will rejoice)
  • 00:43:49
    And be glad in it. (And be glad in it)
  • 00:43:53
    Now some of you think you walk into a cult right now, you're
  • 00:43:55
    like what's going on here?
  • 00:43:57
    This is one of the earliest songs you learn in church:
  • 00:44:00
    This is the day that the Lord has made.
  • 00:44:02
    And so God's been taking me back to the simple and yet rich
  • 00:44:05
    powerful truth that is in just this one verse.
  • 00:44:09
    And I think it's important because I see in all of our lives, I
  • 00:44:13
    see him in my lives, 3 thieves that try to rob us of the joy of
  • 00:44:17
    every day.
  • 00:44:18
    Those thieves are boredom, busyness, and our burdens.
  • 00:44:24
    If today is not going well for you, if you're struggling to
  • 00:44:27
    receive the fullness of the day.
  • 00:44:28
    My guess is if you trickle it down you will find it's one of
  • 00:44:31
    those three thieves trying to rob from you.
  • 00:44:33
    And I believe the three rituals that we see in this verse can
  • 00:44:37
    help us actually do that.
  • 00:44:38
    Maybe these are gonna be three ways that you engage God in
  • 00:44:40
    prayer every morning.
  • 00:44:42
    Maybe if you're a journaler like me, you'll use these as three
  • 00:44:45
    prompts that you'll bring into your rhythm of reflecting and
  • 00:44:48
    praying into your day.
  • 00:44:49
    But these are three rituals that rob, or actually stop the
  • 00:44:53
    robbing of those three thieves that try to keep us from
  • 00:44:55
    enjoying the fullness of every day.
  • 00:44:57
    Number one is to receive the day.
  • 00:45:00
    Receive the day as a gift from God.
  • 00:45:02
    The Bible says, "This is the day."
  • 00:45:05
    This is the day.
  • 00:45:06
    My family and I went away on vacation and one of the places we
  • 00:45:09
    always go when we go to this particular place is this
  • 00:45:11
  • 00:45:12
    They have all these silly signs and one of the signs they have
  • 00:45:14
    is this one which says: Free beer yesterday.
  • 00:45:18
    Free beer yesterday, you missed it by a day, right?
  • 00:45:21
    And I think sometimes we can think of our life that way.
  • 00:45:23
    We can see our lives and say, "I think the best life for me was
  • 00:45:26
    yesterday. The things that were most potent in my life they're
  • 00:45:29
    in my past.".
  • 00:45:30
    And yet the Bible in this simple verse says, no, no, this day is
  • 00:45:34
    a gift.
  • 00:45:35
    This day right here is a gift from God and we need to receive it
  • 00:45:40
    as such.
  • 00:45:41
    I think for things like this we need mentors in our lives and
  • 00:45:43
    so I want to introduce you to my mentor who helps me understand
  • 00:45:46
    what it means to receive the day.
  • 00:45:48
    It's my 8 year old son Samuel.
  • 00:45:51
    If you've ever interacted with my family and particularly
  • 00:45:53
    Samuel you know that Samuel brings the energy to the Mingo
  • 00:45:56
  • 00:45:57
    He brings all of it, all that we need and some more to our
  • 00:46:00
  • 00:46:01
    This is the kid who walked when he was six months old.
  • 00:46:04
    This is the kid who gets up earliest of all the kids in our
  • 00:46:07
    family of three children.
  • 00:46:08
    And that's why when he was really young I gave him the
  • 00:46:11
    nickname: Can't stop, won't stop.
  • 00:46:12
    That's his nickname: Can't stop won't stop.
  • 00:46:14
    Because Sam knows how to embrace every day and so he turned
  • 00:46:18
    eight recently and on his birthday I had a chance to reflect on
  • 00:46:21
    today and how he helps me with this.
  • 00:46:23
    And this is what I wrote my journal.
  • 00:46:25
    I said: Today is a gift to be invited to join God in yet another
  • 00:46:29
    revolution --
  • 00:46:39
    So, I started to do the math.
  • 00:46:41
    Samuel has embraced 2922 days, eight years, and all of them he
  • 00:46:47
    has seen as a gift.
  • 00:46:48
    And so I did the math for myself.
  • 00:46:50
    As of today I've embraced and received from God 15,810 days, all
  • 00:46:56
    of them days that I didn't deserve.
  • 00:46:58
    All of them days that God has been with me in the highs and the
  • 00:47:01
    lows, but all of them have been gifts.
  • 00:47:04
    Receive today as a gift from God.
  • 00:47:08
    Second ritual: return the day.
  • 00:47:11
    Return the day.
  • 00:47:13
    It says: this is the day that the Lord has made.
  • 00:47:16
    That means there is an author of today for you.
  • 00:47:19
    That means there's somebody who had a design around today for
  • 00:47:22
    you and for me, He is called the Lord.
  • 00:47:25
    So, what does it mean to return the day to the Lord and why is
  • 00:47:28
    this important?
  • 00:47:29
    I would say it's this: we return the gift of today to the Lord
  • 00:47:33
    when we trust his sovereignty over every day of our lives.
  • 00:47:37
    When we trust that he's got us in every day.
  • 00:47:40
    And as we do that it actually comes against those three
  • 00:47:43
    thieves. Here's what I mean.
  • 00:47:45
    When you trust in God's promises and His purpose in your
  • 00:47:49
    life, it comes against the thief of boredom.
  • 00:47:52
    Even the days that don't seem to have meaning, even the days
  • 00:47:55
    when you seem like you're in the in-between you recognize there
  • 00:47:58
    is a Lord over that day and He has purpose for every day.
  • 00:48:02
    I want to encourage encouraged with a quote that encourage me.
  • 00:48:03
    A guy named Jon Bloom said:.
  • 00:48:09
    You might feel like you're in the waiting period.
  • 00:48:11
    You might feel like you're just not seeing where things come
  • 00:48:13
  • 00:48:14
    But I want you know God doesn't waste one day of our lives and
  • 00:48:17
    He's not wasting you.
  • 00:48:20
    When you trust in his purpose it comes against boredom.
  • 00:48:23
    When you trust in his provision it comes against busyness.
  • 00:48:27
    Busyness comes out of you and I believing that the only way
  • 00:48:31
    provision is going to come is if I stay on this treadmill and
  • 00:48:34
    do it all for myself.
  • 00:48:35
    Busyness comes from us really believing that there's not a
  • 00:48:38
    God looking out for us, that we have to look out for ourselves.
  • 00:48:42
    And that's why in the Bible I love what it says in Psalm 23
  • 00:48:45
    about us.
  • 00:48:46
    It says: he makes me lie down in green pastures.
  • 00:48:49
    Because how many people know we need to be made to lie down
  • 00:48:52
    sometimes, right?
  • 00:48:53
    I'm not the only person like that.
  • 00:48:55
    We need to be made to lie down and what does that mean?
  • 00:48:58
    Listen. Whether it's muscle gain, whether it's productivity at
  • 00:49:01
    work. The science is very clear, the most productive people are
  • 00:49:04
    people who have a rhythm of rest and work, not just overwork.
  • 00:49:10
    And when we return the day to God and say, "God, I'm gonna trust
  • 00:49:13
    What that means is, "God, I'm gonna let you set the pace today.
  • 00:49:16
    I'm gonna let you set the pace at which I work.
  • 00:49:18
    And I'm gonna give you permission to tell me when it's time to
  • 00:49:21
    lie down and I'm going to trust you in that.".
  • 00:49:25
    And then finally when you trust in His presence it comes against
  • 00:49:28
    the burdens in our lives.
  • 00:49:29
    day is not a good day.
  • 00:49:31
    There are hard days.
  • 00:49:32
    There are grieving days.
  • 00:49:33
    There are difficult days.
  • 00:49:34
    There are days when we are deeply challenged and yet in those
  • 00:49:39
    days God's presence is with us.
  • 00:49:42
    I love that there are versus like this in the Bible.
  • 00:49:44
    This is from lamentations 3:22 and 23.
  • 00:49:47
    This was written out of the crying out of a prophet who had
  • 00:49:50
    experienced the greatest tragedy of his life.
  • 00:49:52
    And he says:
  • 00:50:01
    If today is a hard day for you, I want you to know you woke up
  • 00:50:05
    today with new mercies for today.
  • 00:50:08
    There is a Lord who knows where you are and He is present in
  • 00:50:11
    your life and wants to be even more present in your life with
  • 00:50:14
    new mercies every morning.
  • 00:50:16
    So if you are bored, I want to encourage you to ask God for
  • 00:50:19
    purpose in the waiting.
  • 00:50:21
    If you struggle with busyness, I want to encourage you to ask
  • 00:50:24
    God to set your pace.
  • 00:50:26
    And if you struggle with burdens, I want you to ask God for new
  • 00:50:30
    mercies every morning.
  • 00:50:33
    Receive the day, then returned the day, and then
  • 00:50:37
    finally rejoice. Rejoice.
  • 00:50:41
    "I will rejoice and be glad in it."
  • 00:50:45
    Rejoice that today is a gift that you have received.
  • 00:50:49
    That word rejoice means to leap for joy or to shriek
  • 00:50:54
    ecstatically, like, "Aaah, oh my gosh.
  • 00:50:56
    Today is amazing.".
  • 00:50:58
    In fact I want you to try this tomorrow.
  • 00:51:00
    When you wake up I want the first thing you do is to shriek
  • 00:51:03
  • 00:51:04
    Like wake up and the first thing you do is, "Oh, my gosh, I got
  • 00:51:07
  • 00:51:08
    Now, if I do that I'm getting kicked out by my wife.
  • 00:51:10
    My wife would punch me in my face if I did that, so I'm not
  • 00:51:12
    going to do.
  • 00:51:13
    But you do that.
  • 00:51:14
    You do that.
  • 00:51:15
    And let me know how that works for you.
  • 00:51:16
    Right? I mean, but this is what it means.
  • 00:51:18
    It's a rejoicing mindset.
  • 00:51:20
    And here's the thing.
  • 00:51:21
    You can't passively rejoice.
  • 00:51:24
    You don't stumble into rejoicing.
  • 00:51:26
    I love what it says, "Let us rejoice.
  • 00:51:28
    I will rejoice."
  • 00:51:29
    This is an active choice that we get to make.
  • 00:51:32
    We own whether we rejoice or not.
  • 00:51:35
    And I believe that's why this choice is so vigorously opposed in
  • 00:51:39
    all of our lives.
  • 00:51:40
    There is a spirit of cynicism in our culture like never before.
  • 00:51:43
    I'm assuming if you just go with the flow of the culture you are
  • 00:51:46
    going to have a cynical mind, you're going to not wake up
  • 00:51:48
    ecstatic that there's a gift.
  • 00:51:50
    You're going to wake up wondering what other shoe is gonna drop
  • 00:51:52
  • 00:51:53
    There is a spirit of pessimism and it just influences our
  • 00:51:56
    culture and it makes us say, "Be afraid, be very afraid."
  • 00:51:59
    And I'm telling you, you don't have to choose that.
  • 00:52:03
    You don't have to choose that, especially when you know there's
  • 00:52:06
    a Lord over your day who has given you this day as a gift.
  • 00:52:12
    That you can actually choose what I would call Holy optimism.
  • 00:52:16
    A holy optimism that says, you know what? It
  • 00:52:18
    doesn't mean there's not problems in the world.
  • 00:52:20
    I'm not blind to what's going on around me.
  • 00:52:22
    I'm not blind to the struggles I face.
  • 00:52:23
    but this is the day that the Lord has made and I can choose to
  • 00:52:27
    rejoice and be glad.
  • 00:52:28
    And I love how Stephen Covey puts it. He
  • 00:52:30
    says, "Between the stimulus and the response lies our greatest
  • 00:52:33
    power as people, the power to choose and we can choose joy.
  • 00:52:39
    It's also choosing perspective.
  • 00:52:42
    Because if you have what I would call a temporary perspective,
  • 00:52:47
    then it's easy to wake up and not receive every day as a gift.
  • 00:52:50
    Because you feel like, "Oh my gosh, if this is all there is in
  • 00:52:52
    my life's not going well then this is all there is.".
  • 00:52:56
    But if you have an eternal perspective it changes the way you
  • 00:52:59
    see everything.
  • 00:53:00
    An eternal perspective doesn't no matter how bad life is, at
  • 00:53:03
    least I have heaven to look forward to. No,
  • 00:53:04
    no. God has promised to show up and be present with his
  • 00:53:07
    goodness now and forever.
  • 00:53:10
    So the eternal perspective is fuller than that.
  • 00:53:12
    So what does Psalm 118 saying?
  • 00:53:14
    What did I learn in Sunday school?
  • 00:53:16
    I learned this: carpe diem.
  • 00:53:19
    (whispering) carpe diem.
  • 00:53:22
    I'm dating myself with that: Dead Poets Society, right?
  • 00:53:26
    But yeah, seize the day, seize the day.
  • 00:53:29
    We've all heard that phrase, but I didn't know that that's just
  • 00:53:33
    one phrase in a full sentence.
  • 00:53:34
    I didn't know that.
  • 00:53:35
    I was reading and preparing for this and I found that out.
  • 00:53:37
    Here's what that means.
  • 00:53:39
    First of all, Horace said that. He
  • 00:53:40
    said in like 23 B.C.
  • 00:53:41
    I'm sure he's a very smart man.
  • 00:53:42
    He said seize the day, pluck the day.
  • 00:53:46
    But here's the rest of his saying:
  • 00:53:51
    What is he saying he's saying? Tooday
  • 00:53:53
    is all you've got.
  • 00:53:54
    so go for it.
  • 00:53:56
    And you know what? Horace is
  • 00:53:57
    really smart.
  • 00:53:58
    He's a wise philosopher and he's wrong, and he's wrong.
  • 00:54:02
    Yes, I am challenging his philosophy based on a greater
  • 00:54:05
    philosophy, the Bible, and the wisdom of the Bible which does
  • 00:54:09
    say pluck the day.
  • 00:54:10
    But can I rephrase Horace?
  • 00:54:11
    Can I correct Horace in 201v( Can I make it what it should be
  • 00:54:15
    based on God's truth?
  • 00:54:16
    It should be this: pluck the day trusting as much as possible
  • 00:54:20
    in the Lord who is the lord over your today and your tomorrow
  • 00:54:24
    So, yeah.
  • 00:54:25
    Carpe diem because He's in today. [applause]
  • 00:54:28
    and he's in tomorrow and he's an every day yet to come.
  • 00:54:31
    So pluck the day because there is a God who has given you today
  • 00:54:34
    as a gift
  • 00:54:35
    Pluck the day because there is a Lord whose mercies are new
  • 00:54:38
    every morning for you and you can rejoice and be glad in this
  • 00:54:45
  • 00:54:46
    I was thinking about this as I was walking my neighborhood with
  • 00:54:48
    my daughter.
  • 00:54:50
    And as we were walking today in our street there were all these
  • 00:54:54
    chalked kind of messages written in chalk that were
  • 00:54:57
    encouragements to people who were running what they call the
  • 00:55:00
    Ridgewood One Miler.
  • 00:55:02
    And the Ridgewood One Miler was started by family that lives in
  • 00:55:05
    They're also family that comes to Crossroads here, friends of
  • 00:55:08
    ours, the Lunstroms.
  • 00:55:09
    And they are an incredible family and they do this one mile race
  • 00:55:14
    every year to honor the memory of their daughter Runner who
  • 00:55:19
    lived for four days outside the womb.
  • 00:55:23
    They lost their child.
  • 00:55:25
    And this is a family who has chosen on her birthday to celebrate
  • 00:55:31
    the days that they were given with her rather than mourn the
  • 00:55:35
    loss only.
  • 00:55:37
    How can they do that?
  • 00:55:39
    How can they choose that?
  • 00:55:40
    How can they choose that in the face of such pain?
  • 00:55:42
    Here's how they can choose that they can choose that because
  • 00:55:45
    they believe Psalm 118:24, that every day is a gift from God.
  • 00:55:50
    Every day and that there is a Lord over every day whose purposes
  • 00:55:53
    we may not fully understand, but He has purpose in every day.
  • 00:55:56
    Whose provision we may not always see, but it is always there
  • 00:56:00
    And who has the ability to breakthrough in our lives at any
  • 00:56:04
    moment with life and redemption and wholeness.
  • 00:56:07
    And so this is a family who on a day when they are also mourning
  • 00:56:10
    stands up and celebrates and invites an entire neighborhood to
  • 00:56:13
    join them saying: this is the day that the Lord has made.
  • 00:56:17
    I will rejoice. I
  • 00:56:18
    will make the choice and I will be glad in it as I was walking
  • 00:56:22
    with my daughter.
  • 00:56:23
    I came across this.
  • 00:56:24
    This is one of the.
  • 00:56:26
    encouragements they wrote for everybody: breathe in the day.
  • 00:56:30
    So I want us to do that right now. I want
  • 00:56:32
    everybody to just breathe in, come on.
  • 00:56:39
    Breathe in the day.
  • 00:56:42
    How do you make the most of every day?
  • 00:56:45
    You receive it as a gift from God.
  • 00:56:48
    You recognize this is the day that the Lord has made.
  • 00:56:52
    And then you return the gift to the giver himself and say God
  • 00:56:56
    what do you want to do with me today?
  • 00:56:58
    Show me your provision today Show me your purpose today.
  • 00:57:01
    Let me experience your presence today.
  • 00:57:04
    And then you make the choice, the choice to choose holy
  • 00:57:07
    optimism. I will rejoice and be glad in this day.
  • 00:57:13
    I don't know which one of these three thieves is trying to rob
  • 00:57:16
    you of the joy of today.
  • 00:57:17
    It may be boredom.
  • 00:57:18
    It may be busyness
  • 00:57:19
    it may be burns.
  • 00:57:20
    But I won't encourage you that this simple verse that I learned
  • 00:57:22
    in Sunday school is one of the greatest weapons you can use to
  • 00:57:26
    make the most out of every day.
  • 00:57:29
    God, thank you for simple truth that is powerful, simple truth
  • 00:57:34
    that applies beyond this place where we are right now.
  • 00:57:37
    It applies on our best days and applies in our worst.
  • 00:57:39
    And thank you, God, that you love us enough to reveal this
  • 00:57:42
    truth to us.
  • 00:57:44
    So, I just pray a blessing over everyone here that we would be
  • 00:57:47
    people who seize the day.
  • 00:57:50
    I pray this in Jesus name, amen.
  • 00:57:54
    Thanks for joining us for this week's spark talks.
  • 00:57:57
    We're so glad to have you.
  • 00:57:59
    We would love to chat with you if you've got questions or you
  • 00:58:02
    want to get connected or find community near you, you can chat
  • 00:58:06
    with us on the Crossroads web site.
  • 00:58:08
    We would love to help you find your people.
  • 00:58:11
    Next week is another week of Spark Talks and we get to hear from
  • 00:58:15
    Solomon Wilcox and Brian Tome.
  • 00:58:18
    You won't want to miss it.
  • 00:58:19
    Captions: Maverick Captioning Service, Cincinnati OH

Process, journal or discuss the themes of this article - here's a few questions to get the ball rolling...

Welcome to the Chaser—a few questions after the weekend service to start conversations. If this is your first time in a group, or your group has new members, take a few minutes and introduce yourself. Two truths and a lie is always a good place to start.

  1. When was the last time you rejoiced? (And by rejoice we mean shriek with joy!) Everybody share.

  2. Truly seeing someone different, a post-death experience, and the gift of a day. Which of this week’s talks stuck with you the most? And why?

  3. Do you think you have to make a choice between science and spirituality? Why or why not?

  4. Boredom, business and our burdens steal our days from us. Think back over your past week. How did these three thieves try to rob your days of joy?

  5. Get out some paper or your smartphone—it’s time to practice. Write out these three prompts: Receive the day. Return the day. Rejoice in the day. Then, take a moment and respond to each. Whatever comes to mind is fine. When everyone is done, share them out loud with the group.

More from the Weekend

Keep up that journaling for the rest of the week. Each day, respond to these prompts. Receive the day. Return the day. Rejoice in the day.

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Jul 13, 2019 58 mins 53 sec

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