THE YAG (Mysterious Happening #2)

It was the same weekend as Mysterious Happening #1 and it was a miracle explosion.

In 2011 two young women from my church began a discussion about starting a Bible study for young adults.  They met a few times, talked around the subject with the pastor, but it didn’t quite take off.  In November they invited myself and another young woman into the conversation and now there were four of us.  We looked up a Bible study, selected one on relationships, met once, and still it didn’t take.  A little bit disheartened, we prepared to launch in January.  In our preparation we ordered books, selected a venue, worked out a menu, and launched the CIBC Young Adults page (Now called The YAG) on Facebook.  All of a sudden we were official!  Now to see if there were others out there like us who were wanting to study as well.

The Sunday before our first meeting we met with our pastor and prayed for guidance, for attendance, for the Spirit to prepare our group.  We expected five people at our launch of RELATE.

Twenty-five showed up.  The seats in my living room were all taken and some of us took the floor.  All our books were gone at meeting one and we made another order.  At meeting two there were even more people!  It was called AFTERGLOW, and we were blessed with music from Jordan and Heather Richmond, and there were no less than 40 people there.  And now we need to order MORE books!  Almost immediately it was too big for my living room and a couple from our church kindly donated the use of a warehouse that they have refurbished – wooden flooring, air conditioning, plush rugs and cozy seating.  Our Friday night (to Saturday morning) meetings continued to grow as we got deeper into the makings of good relationships.  It is the Happiest Happy Hour I’ve ever been to!

Our study is one of the Threads collection, called RELATE.  In our first meeting a visiting theologian gave us an introduction to the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was quoted in our study and was, coincidentally (nah no coincidence) the subject of his own thesis.  The first topic was Understanding Relationships.  We came to understand there is one fundamental need every human being has in their relationships – either Security or Significance.  With this foundation we came to understand more about ourselves.  We discussed the revolutionary idea that relationships are NOT ABOUT US but about the purpose we were created to fulfill.  The six “one anothers” of the New Testament were broken out for our exploration and the relationship armour of Colossians 3:12-14 were also chewed on for a good amount of time.  We are now half-way into session two – Developing Relationships, what our stumbling blocks are and what we should aim to bring to the table.

“Not what a man is in himself as a Christian, his spirituality and piety, constitutes the basis of our community.  What determines our brotherhood is what that man is by reason of Christ.  Our community with one another consists solely in what Christ has done to the both of us.”  ~Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

In the short space of a month this has snowballed into much more than a Bible study.  It has become a whole new community, a social circle, a support system.  Young adults are coming from other churches – Catholic, Seventh Day Adventist, Presbyterian, Church of God, no church at all – we are coming from all walks of life – teachers, civil servants, lawyers, students, unemployment – and we find belonging with each other.  Friendships are being formed, relationships are being rescued, issues are coming to a head, characters are being strengthened, and each of us is making the journey of the others rich in love and support, companionship and prayer.  It seems as though 2011 was a dark year for many of us – breakups, divorces, affairs, family drama, unplanned pregnancies, unemployment, alcohol-soaked violence, baby mama/daddy drama – things that make my haircuts seem trivial.  Our members have each walked out of their own individual pool of pain and into the arms of the others.  Our Facebook group has over 100 members – for an island of 50,000 people that’s pretty revolutionary!  In the space of a month our lives have begun to change – we have had a Bitterness Burning, a Baptism, a Birthday party, Valentines Cupcakes, we watched Courageous together and we have members calling in from other parts of the world on Skype.  It is our deep-seated conviction that no one should go without encouragement.  And now we are launching our missions!  We are working with our church to host Nicole Mullens in two free concerts at the end of March and we are planning our first international mission as I type!  Perhaps it will involve cupcakes… who knows?

THE YAG - heart in hand

None of us could have predicted how far this would go.  None of us could have planned for any of the growth we have made!  The mystery is in the peace that comes with being together.  Now we long for Friday night and call out encouragement and help and meet with one another throughout the week.  We are so blessed to have each other and to rest in our Father’s arms together.  And as we are salt and light during our work weeks and in our communities, we take comfort in knowing there is salt and there is light just a street over, around the corner, at another desk, in another place, and that that person is also keeping us in prayer before our God.  At the beginning and in the middle and at the end of the day it’s all about Him.

And then I had this dream… handing out cupcakes in La Ceiba.  It could happen!  In fact, before the end of the year I am sure it will.

Another time I will describe my own path to YAG and through YAG and how it has changed everything.  If you are interested in sitting in on one of our sessions, or even joining our group study, please drop a comment and I will send you material and arrange your link into our meetings.  We are setting the world on fire!  I invite you to be the spark that lights the flame where you are.

To Serve

Just because she hasn’t given up her freedom doesn’t mean she isn’t a giver.  In fact this time of singleness is the place from which the Single Woman can do the most amazing things!  Her energy, her time, her decisions, her space and her thoughts are all her own – she is a powerhouse in pink-bottom pumps.

Every human being has a purpose.  The Single Woman is no different.  She has a purpose and the advantage of not needing to conform her own to the purpose of another or be distracted from her own purpose to provide for the needs of a partner.

Single Women often find great joy in service.  Princess Diana moved land mines from mountains and changed lives when she got rid of the unfaithful frog she kissed at the altar.  Mother Theresa was married to God (now you can’t beat HIM as a Platonic Husband!  Or Security System for that matter!).  She changed the way the world treated its sick and dying.  Oprah crashed through glass ceiling after glass ceiling until there was no modern woman on earth that had not been reached by her wisdom and inspired by her example.

Single Woman, what is Your purpose? How can YOU serve?

We are a diverse demographic.  Single Women are nurses, biker chicks, students, lawyers, maids, police officers, secretaries, accountants, actresses, stewardesses, bank tellers, construction workers, fire fighters, doctors, and judges.  There are few social circles in which we do not move.  If we were to focus on meeting the needs of the world from right where we are right now, this rock would spin smoother, fewer people would suffer, and we would be the most powerful movement on earth.

Let’s take an example.  The Single Woman manager of a health insurance company.  On Wednesdays she spends her lunch hour talking to students at the local high school about their futures and the possibilities open to them in the world of business.  On Thursdays she attends the Rotary Club, on Fridays she takes lunch to an elderly lady, on Saturdays she babysits for a single mother, on Sundays she serves in her local church.  And that is her spare time.  Every day of the week she is serving her clients.  When they become patients in a foreign country she is their coordinator and advisor.  When they run out of money on their benefits plan she becomes their negotiator and solution-finder.  When they are struck by a catastrophe at 2 in the morning she is up on the phone arranging their emergency care or their safe evacuation.  She is serving.  Every day.  In her work and in her play.

Another example.  The Single Woman who is a nanny in the home of a wealthy family.  She works seven days a week and lives in the spare room of her employer’s house.  She doesn’t have free time.  Yet she can serve.  The children in her care are bathed three times a day and fed healthy meals.  She teaches them lessons in life like how to wash the dishes, how to share with each other, how to respect themselves.  She reads bedtime stories to them.  She tucks them in at night.  She turns on the night light.  They wake to her smile and the smell of breakfast.  She is serving.  Every day.

How the Single Woman can serve from right where she is…

  • Live to serve – Every thing a Single Woman does is an act of service.  If she begins to examine her actions with a view to focusing them on service she will be able to make a major difference in her own life and in the life of others.  For example, the Single Woman is a receptionist.  She answers the phone.  If she channels every action into an act of service she will know that when the phone rings the beneficiary of her service is the caller.  She will put a smile on her face that makes its way into her voice and be as helpful as she possibly can to assist the caller with obtaining what he is calling for.  Every action is an act of service.  And every act of service has a beneficiary.
  • Smile – In living to serve, a Single Woman will learn that the easiest and most inexpensive form of service is her smile.  It is an act of service.  There is always a beneficiary.  A team leader that smiles when speaking to the members of his team will encourage that team to perform.  A customer service agent smiling to a complaining customer can turn that complaint around.  There is money to be made in the business of smiles.  But, more importantly, there is also much joy to be had.  A smile is a priceless act of service.
  • Spend time serving with others – Join a church, join an organization, meet like-minded people also focused on service, serve with them to better your world.  Pick a charity, a cause, a doctrine that you believe in and commit to it.  Pick a service club.  Or pick a group of people in need you would like to reach.  When people band together they are better able to change the world.  Even in service there is power in numbers.

Testimony of a Rotaracter:

“I joined Rotaract as an excited idealistic young Single Woman.  I had just moved back home from University abroad and didn’t know many people.  But I wanted to give back to my community and got past my shyness enough to accept the invite to a Rotaract meeting.  At my first Rotaract meeting I was greeted with humour and smiles.  The discussion was lively, non-political, and geared towards what we, as young people, can do to benefit our world.  In my time with the Rotaract club I have been exposed to the greater world of service – the Rotary Family has been instrumental in erradicating polio worldwide.  We have been first responders to major disasters in Haiti, India, New Orleans and Japan.  We have been carers for our own communities feeding the elderly, throwing Christmas parties for the poor, cleaning up littered beaches, sponsoring youth programs and teaching adults who have never learned how to read.  I am a part of a large family that serves the world as well as each other. 

May Rotary friends and Rotary ways help us to serve thee all our days” .

Single Women, let us be the movement we were meant to be.  Starting with a smile.  Today.

Do you have a service story to share?  Leave your stories in the Singlestream by commenting below…

Writing Found a Home

I was late and sat in the back.  My first writing class.  But I was hooked before I even sat down!  Twenty men and women of various ages and backgrounds were in the room where the collection of Art and Manga books call home in our local Books & Books.  They were rapt, listening to the instructor, eloquent as a feather, laying the framework for our six weeks together.

Tingles danced over my arms as I reached into my bag for my diary.  I was engaged, caught up in her reverence and passion for a thing she clearly loves.  She talked on writerly habits, having a writer’s journal, writing daily for at least fifteen minutes, reading like a writer.  She expressed in words several of the things I have learned since sitting down and committing to this blog.  Like the extraordinary gems of material hidden in the ordinariness of our own lives.  Like the way a writer thinks, examining the event of the day or the moving moment and creating words to recreate this picture to someone else.

We were given a class exercise – to write a paragraph each on three childhood memories – and the silence was broken only by the odd chuckle and the dizzy rush of pens.  I smiled down at my book feeling like a little girl again on the first day I realized that I could read.  I had cracked the code!  Found a new world to explore.  Once again I am in that moment.

This class will change my life.

And I won’t be alone.  The excitement in the room was like the 22nd person – hard and defined by bones covered in flesh.  The questions asked and experiences shared came as though from one massive tank of thought.  I learned something that will stay with me forever.  There is a community of writers.  Everywhere.  Watching, observing and loving the moment enough to write it.  Even here in my home town.  People like me who shut down a part of their day to spend with a pen and paper or notepad or laptop to pour themselves out for a moment.  There are people who take the colours of life and recreate them more brilliantly in black and white.  Others are fluent in my language.

This morning I have my blog to commit to and my homework to do.  I am praying for the time to do it all – both mean a lot to me.  And so I am giving fair warning – much of the frilly bits of my life will be cut for a time to make space for this thing that promises to take over, to bring a new chapter of meaning and a whole new purpose.

Onward with the Journey!