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123I have been asked to contribute a weekly column to our local newspaper, The Nebraska City Newspress, my goal is that people are reminded that they are loved, they are not alone, and that we can do positive things together as a community. Here is this week’s column, it’s called “Stop, Look, Go”.

I don’t watch news on TV or read many papers (except the News-Press, of course) because I don’t think their very helpful, in fact, I think they can be harmful to our society. You see the entire media industry, from advertisers to newspapers, is based on fear and scarcity. There are millions and millions of videos, blogs, newspaper columns, entire television networks based on the idea that if you are scared or if you feel like you don’t have enough you will buy more stuff, or you’ll vote a certain way, or you’ll fight those who think differently than you.

I’m as guilty as the next guy for living in fear. I fear for my job, my child’s safety and education, I fear for the country, that we keep electing people that refuse to act in the interest of the people that elected them. I fear that every time I play basketball I’m going to break my ankle. I am what my family calls an “awfulizer”. I can think of the worst possible outcome for every situation, but I’m hoping to turn over a new leaf.

I’m going to try to live in abundance rather than scarcity, I’m going to try to live in gratefulness rather than fear. I’m going to try to be happy.

During a TEDTalk, Brother David Steindl-Rast said, “Gratefulness can change the world…If you’re grateful you’re not fearful, if you’re not fearful you’re not violent. If you’re grateful you act out of a sense of enough and not a sense of scarcity and you are willing to share. If you’re grateful you are enjoying the differences between people and are respectful to everyone…this doesn’t make for equality but it makes for equal respect, that is the important thing.”

You can watch it here:

Too often we see “the other” as wholly unlike ourselves. We see differences as something to be feared, we see people who have different theological, political, economic, social ideas as evil rather than members of our community. When we are scared it makes it easier to hate, easier to dismiss, easier to blame. We are afraid that we will lose something, our voice, our way of life, our country, but when we are able to be grateful for our differences we begin to see those who we thought were “other” can strengthen us by providing opportunities for change, for learning, and an opportunity for a more joyful and happy life.

Steindl-Rast offers a simple way to make the move from fear and scarcity to gratefulness and abundance; Stop, Look, Go. Make “stop signs” in your life. Maybe that’s a post-it note on your light switch that reminds you what an amazing thing it is that we have power in our homes, or a note on your steering wheel that tells you to pause and take a deep breath before you start your busy day. When you stop, it gives you an opportunity to look. Open your eyes, your nose, your ears and notice the things around you, open your heart and notice the opportunities that moment provides for you. Maybe it’s just an opportunity to enjoy that brief moment of pause before the next thing. Then go, respond to the opportunity, enjoy the moment or maybe you’re being called to something further, respond to a need, a neighbor, to help put a smile on someone’s face, and be grateful for that opportunity to respond, even if it’s hard.

This soft spoken, Benedictine monk has one more quote that I wanted to share with you:

“It is not happiness that makes us grateful, it is gratefulness that makes you happy.”

Let us do our best to be grateful for the opportunities that present themselves, and let us stop, look, and GO!

At dinner every night, my family goes around the table and shares their high points and low points of the day. We call it “Favorite” and “Not Favorite”. Here’s my “Favorites” and “Not Favorites” of the week.

Favorite: We had an opportunity to have lunch with some old friends from Oregon this week. I also began the season as my daughter’s U6 soccer team coach. Go Cheetahs!

Not Favorite: During the storm on Tuesday afternoon when the tornado sirens went off, my kids were in the basement of their daycare, I was in my own basement. I did not like being separated from them, especially when those sirens went off.

I love to connect social media. You can see more of my writing and thoughts on my wife’s and my blog (nebraskabolt.wordpress.com) or follow me on twitter. (@ggbolt16)

Saturday mornings are spent at my house watching ESPN’s College Gameday. My wife and I love football and we really like the human interest stories that they tell. This week was no different. This week they profiled a few FBS Football players who walked on (no scholarship) to the football team and were rewarded with a scholarship when one came available. Beloved and I were a mess at the end of this video.

You can watch it here: Earning Their Keep

I was a walk-on baseball player. I never received a scholarship for the being there, I ran, sweat, and bled just like the few guys that did have some scholarship. I know what it means to play for the love of the game.

Beloved was struck by, Mississippi State Sophomore linebacker, DeAndre Ward’s explanation. 

It was great to be able to walk into the multi-purpose room and be able to eat with the team…

The place at the table, a table that he has been sitting at, but never felt fully “one of the guys”. Isn’t that what we do at Communion? Christ invites all to the table, the breaking of bread, even those that have been sitting there the whole time, even those that don’t feel as if they belong. Christ opens up a spot for us. This morning when I opened up social media, this article asking the question “Is the Simplest form of Church Just a Dinner Table?” reminded me of my call to include and to help all find a place at the table. I think the timing was providential.

What had me in tears for a good ten minutes following the segment was the image of, Arizona State Redshirt Junior defensive back, Jordan Simone talking to his mother right after he had just received his scholarship. It reminded me so much of the phone call I made right after being approved by Cascades Presbytery to be ordained as a Teaching Elder in the PC(USA). I had worked and worked towards that goal, a journey that had begun long before I knew it, but to receive the applause and recognition that my colleagues believed that I was called was such a seminal moment in my life and ministry. I finally felt like I belonged, I felt a great weight lifted off my shoulders and I was overcome with emotion.

I think we all are looking for a place at the table, to feel like we belong, to feel like it’s worth it.

 

c1e69-123I have been asked to contribute a weekly column to our local newspaper, The Nebraska City Newspress, my goal is that people are reminded that they are loved, they are not alone, and that we can do positive things together as a community. Here is this week’s column, it’s called “Time for Kickoff”

Football season is upon us!

Let’s be honest, it’s the real religion of in this country and I am chief among sinners. My particular denomination is the NCAA and my church is at Mountaineer Field in Morgantown, WV. I worship at the altar of ESPN’s College Gameday every Saturday morning. I give my kids my phone or iPad and say, “You want to go watch videos in your room?” They happily oblige because by they’ll be in front of a screen more on a Saturday afternoon in the fall than they will during the week.

I’m not proud. This is my confession.

But, man do I love football. I especially love the West Virginia Mountaineers. My wife will tell you that I have an unhealthy emotional attachment to the games, the players, the coaches, and even the state. I’ve cried, laughed, got so angry I wanted to throw something, and celebrated like I won the lottery, that’s all in the first quarter. I know some of you Husker fans are the exact same way.

Starting my 21st month living in Nebraska City, I’ve noticed a lot of similarities to my beloved West Virginia. There are no professional teams in the state so people rally around their team with reckless abandon. The state has good hard working folks and many tightly knit small towns even if some of them have to change in order thrive.

We, here in Nebraska City, are no different. We’re going to have to rethink some of the ways we do things and some of the things we do in order to become the beacon of hope in Southeast Nebraska I know we can be.

One thing we don’t need to change, but might need to enhance, is our commitment to support the young people in our town. One really easy way to do that is show up. Show up to games, concerts, plays, quiz bowl, Destination Imagination, recitals events, fundraisers, open houses, even if you don’t’ have children in the school system or at that particular school. Yes, that means going to Lourdes games if you don’t want to travel to the Nebraska City Public School away game and even going to Pioneers games if your family attends Lourdes.

There are a lot of great things happening in this town and there are a lot of great people here. There are also a lot of kids that need support and if we want them to grow up loving this town and wanting to see it thrive as I have in just 21 months then we’re going to have to put in some effort.

When I was serving as a chaplain in a hospital we had a mantra, “Don’t just do something, stand there.” It was a reminder that just being there was important to the families and patients. So I’m going to challenge you to go to as many games, events, concerts, recitals, academic challenges, science fairs, etc. that you can and cheer your face off. Cheer for your kids, cheer for someone else’s kids, cheer for good effort, cheer for our town, cheer for our future.

Maybe, just maybe, we’ll be able to show those kids, the visiting parents, and anyone that visits our wonderful town that we are in this together, for the long haul.

I’ll close with an Africa proverb:

“If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

May we continue to move forward together.

At dinner every night, my family goes around the table and shares their high points and low points of the day. We call it “Favorite” and “Not Favorite”. Here’s my “Favorites” and “Not Favorites” of the week.

Favorite: Pioneer victory over Auburn; watching my beloved Mountaineers put up a good fight against Alabama; the behind-the-back catch in the Huskers game; a great meal with neighbors. (I told you I liked football)

Not Favorite: This was a pretty good week, so I don’t have a not favorite this week.

I love to connect social media. You can see more of my writing and thoughts on my wife’s and my blog (nebraskabolt.wordpress.com) or follow me on twitter. (@ggbolt16)

 

ggbolt16:

This is probably the most accessible way I have found to explain white privilege to folks who are unaware or defensive about the use of that term.

I hope this helps.

Originally posted on A Little More Sauce:

The phrase “white privilege” is one that rubs a lot of white people the wrong way. It can trigger something in them that shuts down conversation or at least makes them very defensive. (Especially those who grew up relatively less privileged than other folks around them). And I’ve seen more than once where this happens and the next move in the conversation is for the person who brought up white privilege to say, “The reason you’re getting defensive is because you’re feeling the discomfort of having your privilege exposed.”

I’m sure that’s true sometimes. And I’m sure there are a lot of people, white and otherwise, who can attest to a kind of a-ha moment or paradigm shift where they “got” what privilege means and they did realize they had been getting defensive because they were uncomfortable at having their privilege exposed. But I would guess that more often than…

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c1e69-123I have been asked to contribute a weekly column to our local newspaper, The Nebraska City Newspress, my goal is that people are reminded that they are loved, they are not alone, and that we can do positive things together as a community. Here is this week’s column, it’s called “Back to School”

Last Monday, my wife and I had the joy of taking my daughter to her very first day of Pre-K at Northside Elementary. I was there with a bunch of parents, grandparents, little brothers and sisters, and even some friends. There were pictures taken, tears shed, hugs and kisses given, introductions made, and we all waved goodbye as our little ones walked into the building where they will learn for the until they are in 3rd grade. It was a big moment. My heart swelled with pride as I watched my little girl standing in line getting ready for the first steps in this journey of formal education. I even shed a tear when her little brother refused to leave until he could give his big sister one last hug and kiss.

I looked around at the crowd of adults that serve important roles in the lives of all the children in my daughter’s class I realized that it will be these folks that I grow as a parent with, these are the kids that my daughter will come to know, learn with, fight with, share with, and care for as long as they are in school together. I know some of our recent graduates who shared classes with the same people all the way through the public school system. The bond that the kids share and the parents share is layered, important, and lifelong.

I look forward to getting to know these kids, these parents, and these educators as we work together to help our children to grow, be challenged, and become the independent, competent, successful adults we hope they become.

What I noticed about the make up of the crowd surrounding our precious children was the number of dads in the crowd. It’s becoming more and more common to see dads taking on more and more duties as caregivers for their children. Recent studies have shown that moms and dads are sharing the important job of raising their children. Certainly, this isn’t a universal truth but it is a trend. 

I know, as a dad, I take on a lot of the duties of raising my kids. I’m not just the disciplinarian when I come home. I read books, give baths, brush hair, make meals, and some days am the primary caregiver. My wife does all these things as well, sometimes we do them together, sometimes we pass them off. In our situation it’s about 50/50 doing the work of parenting our children. For me, this is a wonderful thing and I think a lot of the dads I know that do the same thing it’s a wonderful thing.

As we live into new realities and new roles for moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas, aunts and uncles, it’s important to remember that what works for me might not work for you and what worked for our parents might not work now, but what is important is that we work with one another recognizing that our goals are similar; we want our children to do well, we want our children to have joy, we want our children to be successful. How we achieve those goals may be different but if we work towards those goal together we have an opportunity as a community to create an environment where young people seek to better themselves, better the community, and better the world.

At dinner every night, my family goes around the table and shares their high points and low points of the day. We call it “Favorite” and “Not Favorite”. Here’s my “Favorites” and “Not Favorites” of the week. 

Favorite: Watching my daughter begin a new chapter in her life. The start of King of the Hill Basketball

Not Favorite: Some of the “big city” things we aren’t used to seeing coming to Nebraska City, specifically stolen cars and bank robberies.

I love to connect social media. You can see more of my writing and thoughts on my wife’s and my blog (nebraskabolt.wordpress.com) or follow me on twitter. (@ggbolt16)

Here’s a spoken word piece I wrote last week while trying to wrap my head around Matthew 16:13-20 and what is going on in Ferguson, MO.


 

123I have been asked to contribute a weekly column to our local newspaper, The Nebraska City Newspress, my goal is that people are reminded that they are loved, they are not alone, and that we can do positive things together as a community. Here is this week’s column, it’s called “What if it were my son?”

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about what’s been going on in Ferguson, MO. The facts as we know them are that, 18 year old, Michael Brown was shot and killed in the middle of the street by police officer Darren Wilson. This incident has sparked outrage and protests by the local community, social media, and a strong response from the Ferguson and St. Louis County police, the National Guard has even been called in. 

This situation has sparked a lot of conversation on social media, in coffee shops, and on the news. 

I’ve read articles calling the victim a criminal, calling for the police officer’s head, talking about racial injustice, talking about looters and thugs. It almost seemed like it was happening on another planet. Here in Nebraska City we read about what goes on in Ferguson or Lincoln or Omaha and think, “I’m glad that’s not here.” It all seemed a little distant to me.

You see I have two children, they’re young (2 and 4 to be exact), but I tried to step back from the shouting about this unfortunate tragedy of the death of a young man and the life altering decisions of the police officer.

I started to think what I would do, if my son were shot by a police officer. What would be my response? What would the response of the community be? What response would I want from the police? What kind of support would I need?

On some level, I guess I’m glad it wasn’t my child, it wasn’t in my community, it wasn’t in my home.

I started to think about what would happen if one of our 89 recent high school graduates, many of whom you know, was shot and killed by one of the 14 sworn and dedicated police officers, most you probably know, in the middle of Central Avenue? 

I’m not asking about justifiable use of force, I’m not asking about right or wrong, I’m asking about your response to that tragedy.

Would you be in the streets asking questions? Would you stand up to people who told you your son probably deserved it? Would you stand up and defend the officer knowing they were a good person?

For me, if it were my son, or one of our students, I’d go knocking on doors for answers. I’d go wherever and whenever to demand that someone tell me what happened. That someone explain to me how a young person can be dead in the middle of the street. If I felt like someone was trying to intimidate me, I’d dig in my heels.

My father has a mantra, that I’ve taken on as well, “No one messes with my family.” and I guess I might define family a little more broadly than some. Mike Brown is my family, Darren Wilson is my family, the protestors are my family, the police are my family, we are family.

I think we do a good job of separating “our” kids from “their” kids or “our” response from “their” response. Ultimately, I believe that we are inextricably tied to each other. We are tied to the people grieving in Missouri, we are tied to those in North Omaha, in Lincoln, in Falls City, and to those here in our own city. 

I don’t know all the facts about the tragedy that is the death of Mike Brown. I don’t know if we will ever know, but what I do know is that I hope when tragedy strikes here in Nebraska City, I can count on my neighbors to stand with me to seek justice and reconciliation for our community.

I’ll close with a quote from one of my favorite pastors, Mr. Rogers:

“We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say, “It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.” Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.”

At dinner every night, my family goes around the table and shares their high points and low points of the day. We call it “Favorite” and “Not Favorite”. I hope to share with you some of my “Favorites” and “Not Favorites” of the week.

Favorite: Taking my kids to see a movie and dreaming about new events coming to Nebraska City.

Not Favorite: The continued unrest in Ferguson and the vitriol in which people speak to one another about it, especially on social media.

Speaking of social media, I love to connect there. You can see more of my writing and thoughts on my wife and my blog (nebraskabolt.wordpress.com) or follow me on twitter. (@ggbolt16)

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