Bloom Where You Are Planted

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As soon as I came on staff at PVUMC I learned about the “flower ministry”. When I came around the corner to my office, there was a field of flowers on a cabinet. They were beautiful and all in glass vases with a ribbon and a card. Church members arrange the flowers twice a month and then have a pastor pray over the flowers and those giving and those receiving them.  Other church members with a servant’s heart take these flowers to their assigned people. My mom has always visited the homebound and I know what an important ministry this is!  The least we can do for our church members who can no longer make it to church is to visit them!

I met with my friend, Barbara, about this ministry and watched the passion pour out of her!  We quickly learned that we both have a passion for the elderly.  Her dad had passed down the love of the elderly to her.  When I was in college I worked as a weekend receptionist at a retirement home and I had lots of grandparents. I learned so much from them.  Job 12:12, “Is not wisdom found among the aged?  Does not long life bring understanding?”  Barbara started visiting the homebound about 30 years ago.  We shared so many stories, laughs and tender moments about our friends. What was most obvious was how blessed we were by them!  As Barbara said, “They have enriched her life more than she could ever imagine!”

We also both shared how full of wisdom these people are.  They have already been down the road we are going.  They have had the feelings we are having.  They can teach us.  Titus 2:3-5, “Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.  Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.”

Barbara’s first story was of Sam who only had a nephew who he never saw.  As a volunteer at the help center in her town, she heard about Sam and started visiting him and playing checkers with him.  This went on for years and Sam was one of her best friends!  When Sam died she learned that his “family” was eight United Methodist women from the local church who visited him weekly.  Together, they planned his funeral and buried him in his favorite outfit - his overalls. She learned of another family who had lost their young daughter to cancer and the father wrote a book about his daughter's life.  Sam was in that book.  Sam had been a blessing to so many!

Today Barbara has three women she visits.  Although Billie does not know Barbara’s name, her face lights up as soon as she sees her!  She loves flowers and has a spirit of graciousness for everything in her life.  She loved to entertain in her home and loves to share those stories.   Even though she now lives in a nursing facility, she remains appreciative.  Barbara leaves feeling more appreciative.  God is still using Billie and no telling how many lives she touches!

Barbara's face lights up when she talks about Martha.  Their relationship quickly blossomed into a close friendship, making her one of Barbara’s best friends.  Barbara describes her as an amazing and loving woman!  She is able to take her places, to lunch, to run errands.  She has taken Martha to visit Billie and they reminisce about times at PVUMC and the many gatherings at Billie’s home.  Martha was a Christian educator and she shares her faith with Barbara.  Barbara is beyond blessed by these visits!

Barbara’s third lady has family who visits but she confides in Barbara as if she is another daughter.  That is what makes this ministry so important - we are not family.  We are church family - someone who comes because they are a friend.  Someone who sits and listens.  They have also become friends.  Before we left each other Barbara reminded me again, “I was called to do this.  People need people to just sit with them.  I have never NOT gotten a smile or appreciation!  I have gotten so much more out of this than I have ever given - it has come back tenfold!” Hebrews 13:15, “And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”

As Barbara said, this all started because she read one morning, “let me be a blessing to someone today.”  That seed was planted and look at all of the blooms that have come over the past thirty years!  She has a bouquet of beautiful flowers called Sam, Billie, Martha and many more!  What a blessing this bouquet has been in her life!  While some of the blooms may have been brief, the memory of its beauty will last a lifetime!

If you would like to be a blessing to someone by delivering flowers please contact the church office.

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In Remembrance

Memorial Day – to some it’s the beginning of summer and to others it’s a solemn day to remember those who have passed from this life. To the veterans and the families of fallen soldiers, Memorial Day carries a very deep significance.  Memorial Day began after the Civil War and most people knew it as “Decoration Day.” It was a day to decorate the fallen soldiers graves with flowers and flags and remember those who had given their lives.

Christians, of all people, understand the crucial importance of remembering because our faith depends upon remembering.  We can look forward to the glorious future because we remember the gracious past that was freely given to us.  The freedoms we enjoy, the freedoms we take for granted were not bought with money.  These freedoms were bought by the blood, sweat and tears of those who we honor today!  Those who died so we may live!

This reminds me of 2,000 years ago when the ultimate sacrifice was made by Jesus on the cross.  He died so we may live.  This battle was not bought with money.  This battle was fought on a hill called Calvary.  It was a battle of one young man against all the forces of evil.  It seemed hopeless as there were jeers, spitting and sneering.  Then he said, “It is finished.”  This freedom was bought by blood, sweat and tears.

We celebrate many memorials.  The Sabbath was a memorial to Israel’s freedom from Egyptian slavery.  Deuteronomy 5:15, "Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day."  The church made Sundays a memorial to Christ's resurrection and our freedom from sin.  Exodus 13:3, "Then Moses said to the people, ‘Commemorate this day, the day you came out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery, because the Lord brought you out of it with a mighty hand. Eat nothing containing yeast.’"

1 Corinthians 11:24-26, "...and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, 'This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.' In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.'  For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes."  Each time a church gathers for the Lord's Supper, each baptism, each Christmas celebration, each Easter celebration and Pentecost it is a memorial.  Remembering God's grace is necessary for us to grow.

Reminders, whether bitter or sweet, remind us where we’ve come from, and who helped us get to where we are. As we commemorate Memorial Day, let us do it with profound gratitude for the extraordinary grace given to us when men and women laid their lives down for the sake of America’s survival.  These men and women served one another in love.  Galatians 5:13, "You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love."  They sacrificed their life for the sake of our freedom. 

Let us continue to thank God for all of them.  Let us share these Scriptures to honor those who serve and have served in the US military.  1 Thessalonians 1:2-3, "We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers.  We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ."   We should respect and honor them.  Romans 13:7, "Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor."  John 15:13, "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends." 

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And above all. let us “Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel,...” (2 Timothy 2:8)

I write this in honor of the service men and women, past and present, in my family and in yours.  To all of them, from my heart, “thank you for your service!”

Sunday School


When I was around six years old I had a Sunday School teacher named, Mrs. Aiken.  I thought she was so beautiful and so nice. I cannot remember the lessons but I knew she loved me and she loved God.  She was why I loved going to Sunday school!  I still think she is beautiful and I still love her!

When my girls were in fifth grade Sunday school they had Mr. Simcoe as their Sunday school teacher.  He was also a soccer coach and that made him extra cool!  All the kids loved Mr. Simcoe!  Matthew 18:5, “...and whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.”   Mark 9:36-37, “...Taking the child in his arms, he said to them,  “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me…”  Welcoming was a great way to describe Mr. Simcoe standing in the doorway greeting each child.

When my girls were young, I started teaching senior high Sunday school and I loved it!  Those kids were so fun and kept me young!  There were times when my doorbell rang because one of them needed to talk.  What an honor for them to come to talk with me. I appreciated God letting them know they had a safe place and could trust me. I was there when their parents split, when they went through tough times, when they were in trouble, etc. Many years later I still get visits from those special kids - going to their weddings and seeing their children now!  

Why did I start working with the youth?  Because I knew I needed to give back.  God had been so good to me!  Mrs. Aiken and many others had taught me.  2 Timothy 3:14-15, “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”  I wanted to share how God had blessed me!  Matthew 25:21, “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant!  You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.  Come and share your master’s happiness.’”  I definitely received much more than I gave!

The one thing Mrs. Aiken, Mr. Simcoe, and I all had in common was the love for God, children and youth!  I certainly was not a good Sunday school teacher based on my theological background.  I would bet most Sunday school teachers would say the same about themselves.  One PVUMC teacher told me she has found that she learns as she goes.  God does not call the equipped.  He equips the called!  God can use anyone  who gives their heart to Him.

For thousands of years God has asked people to help others come to know Him and live in faith. In Exodus Moses did not feel capable to lead even after he saw a burning bush!  Moses tried to argue with God and list his shortcomings.  God assured Moses that his gifts were sufficient and help would arrive when needed.  Help did arrive when Moses needed it. And God will do the same for us. He will use what gifts we have and add to them to make us an effective teacher!  Through the years Sunday school teachers have been from many backgrounds and many levels of ability.  But each person felt called to teach and then responded. 

There are many blessings in teaching the children.  We are reminded of what is most important in our own life.  By teaching we face the same truths over and over again and it sinks into our hearts and minds.  Another blessing is being able to witness how the children use the truths they have learned.  And what a blessing knowing that we are planting seeds of truth for their life.

PVUMC is faced with a great problem.  We need Sunday school teachers for our children.  Teaching children’s Sunday school can change the course of history!  Proverbs 22:6, “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.”  You are part of the process that sees those children learn, serve, and one day, stand in glory before Jesus!  Matthew 19:14, “Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’”

Are you being called?  Chances are it will not come from a burning bush but God uses many ways to call us.  It may come through the voice of a friend, as a plea for help, through prayerful discernment, from a sermon challenge, a nudging, or a constant reminder. What is your response?  - Contact the church office if you feel the call.


Remember Who And Whose You Are

As I reflect on the new sermon series, "Back To Basics," I am reminded of what I used to tell my girls as they left the house, “remember who and whose you are."  To me, that kind of took care of everything - that was back to the basics. I wanted them to make good decisions based on how they had been raised. I wanted their conscience to be their guide.

We are created by God.  He created each one of us.  He loves us unconditionally and wants us to be free of our burdens so that we may be holy and love with our whole heart, soul, strength, and mind!  He wants us to love our neighbor as ourselves!   So, who and whose are we?  God’s Word is full of explanations of who we are in Christ:

First and foremost, we are a child of God.  John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."  God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth, loves you and me!  He loves us so much He sent His only Son to die for us. 

We are sinners who have been washed clean by Jesus.  It does not matter what we have done - or not done - Christ died for us.  Romans 5:8, "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:  While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."  Even though we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  

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We are loved!  We are able to love because we were loved first.  We are loved more than we could ever imagine.  1 John 4:19, "We love because he first loved us."  God showed us how to love by loving us first. 

We live with the Holy Spirit.  Our body is a temple because Christ lives in us.  Galatians 2:20, "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."  We can know that Christ lives in us because of our faith.  

We are always loved!  Nothing can separate us from God’s love.  Romans 8:35-39, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?  As it is written:  “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”  No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."  Nothing can separate us from God's love!

We belong to God.  He has made us who we are.  We must always praise God and give thanks for all He has done for us.  Romans 1:21, "For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.” The Apostle Paul indicts the human race for its defection from the truth. He says that "they knew God...." All of civilization knew God.  Romans 1:19, "...since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them."  They knew God through their conscience. We know in our hearts who we belong to and what we should be doing.  1 Timothy 2:4, "...who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth."  God's ultimate goal for us is to be saved and know the truth.

Who are you?  Who do you belong to?

Welcome to Worship

As a mom, I could get our house ready without stress, five days a week, to go to school and work. But Sunday mornings were always stressful!  I quickly learned that Satan is the reason.  He doesn’t care if we go to school or work but he does not want us to go to worship!  Think about it - isn’t Sunday morning harder?  I started recognizing it for what it was and then I was even more determined to get to church stress free! 

Have you ever been kind of anxious to attend an event of some kind and everything goes wrong while you try to get ready?  Before you know it, you have run out of time.  Your outfit is not right and you have to make last minute changes.  Now you are late.  Then you get there and you cannot find anywhere to park and you are late.  What do you do?  I have been known to turn around and go home!  

Growing up,  my mom sometimes stayed in the upper room (prayer room) during the service.  She said before the prayer request came in they started by praying for those running late and for those trying to find a parking space.  They prayed for them not to get discouraged and to come on in to worship.  I think about how stressful it is for visitors and for those who have never been to church.  Going to church for the first time is a huge step.  I am sure it wouldn’t take much for some people to want to turn around!  And if they do, I doubt they will come back the next Sunday.  

The first time I came to PVUMC we had no idea where to go but we followed the traffic.  We parked in front of the gym.  As we turned into the parking lot a nice man with a bright vest smiled and waved like he knew us.  I commented to my husband how nice that was.  The second and third Sunday I was sure he must remember us by that smile!  They were glad we were here!  It was nice to feel like we belonged.  (We quickly gave those spaces up to other newcomers.)   Those servants who help direct traffic and park cars make the first impression!  I love to watch Mark Edquid in the parking lot!  He always has the biggest smile, telling people, “welcome to worship!”  Even our visiting pastor, for revival, mentioned our parking lot ministry!!  Mark told me that out of all of his “jobs” here - working the parking lot is his favorite.  It shows!  Hebrews 13:1, “Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters.”  Our parking lot servants are showing Christ’s love!

Romans 15:7, “So warmly welcome each other into the church, just as Christ has warmly welcomed you; then God will be glorified.”  TLB  Paul’s teaching shows us that we are glorifying God by welcoming one another as Christ has already welcomed us!  As Christians we have a responsibility at church to be welcoming.  Again, we are told that we are to be welcoming to visitors in Matthew 25:35, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in...”  One of the biggest reasons visitors do not return to a church is that they do not feel welcome.  We should welcome visitors into our church home like we would welcome someone into our own home.  None of us would greet someone and turn and walk away but that is what often happens.  How we treat a visitor will greatly ease their anxiety in an unfamiliar space.  Let’s not just greet them but when they leave let’s tell them, “I’m glad you came.  I hope to see you again.”  Chances are, we will. 

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Being a parking lot greeter is something of immeasurable value!   If you are interested in glorifying God by welcoming those to worship with a smile and kind word, please let one of the parking lot greeters (wearing bright vests) know, or you can contact Mark Edquid in the church office.  God needs your servant heart! 



Mike and I had been married over four years and he had just gone full time with United Parcel Service so I could be a stay-at-home mom.  We were thrilled when we found out we were expecting our first child.  We told our parents and no one else for a while.  Mike was so excited he would tell strangers.

I loved being pregnant.  Every month I knew how my baby was developing by my favorite book at that time, "What To Expect When You Are Expecting."  I ate right and exercised.  On the day of the ultrasound I was thrilled and my parents came up for it.  As soon as I saw that baby moving I got sick.  Then Dad had to leave the room.  Again, I was thrilled but I guess seeing the baby actually move got to me.  For most of my pregnancy I kept a daily journal for my baby letting it know how loved it was.  Mike and I chose not to find out the sex of the baby.  We did not care, just so it was healthy.

After my girls were born I loved getting together with friends and let the kids play.  I also liked taking them to mother's morning out at church where I got a three hour break a few days a week.  My Granny lived less than an hour away and my girls and I spent lots of time with her!  And my parents always loved to help out.  And on days when things were hard, I would call and talk to my mother.  Even today I have a cousin who I confide in and she prays for my family.  As Mother's Day approaches, I think about all of the women who have made, and continue to make, motherhood easier for me.

What about Eve?  When we think of Eve we think of the first sin.   But she was also the first woman, wife, mother, grandmother!  The first mother.  She did not have the choice of whether to chase toddlers or her dreams.  She never knew another woman so she never knew about pregnancy.  She had no friends or family to tell....just Adam.  I cannot imagine her thoughts and anxiety levels.  She had no books to read.  No doctor to go to.  No friends or family to advise or help her. She had no mother!  All she had was Adam.  Now think about that! And he was the first husband so he had no role model.  When Cain was born Eve did not hear the comforting things we heard,  "Eve, women have been doing this for thousands of years.  It will be alright."  She just had Adam.  Did he leave the room?

Eve did not have diapers, bottles, babysitters, a rocking chair, a swing, a pacifier, etc.  She paced the dirt floor with a crying baby.  She had to wipe bottoms and noses with none of our conveniences like wipes or tissues. She had to figure it all out on her own and do it all on her own.  All while taking care of every household duty including cooking and getting water.

I am sure Eve enjoyed her children as they grew up.  Eve also experienced great heartache resulting from her children.  She had the first murder happen within her family - one son killing the other.  She was the first mother to bury a child.  The Bible mentions Eve's sons, Cain, Abel, and Seth.  Genesis 5:4 tells us that, "after Seth was born, Adam lived 800 years and had other sons and daughters."  We don't know how many children they had or how long Eve lived.  I just know she was worn out!  Genesis 5:5, "Altogether, Adam lived a total of 930 years, and then he died."

I will never think of Eve the same. Genesis 3:20, "Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living."  Motherhood is not being selfish, but showing unconditional love.  Motherhood is relinquishing pride and persisting in prayer.  Motherhood is letting go of greed and growing in grace.  I heard somewhere, "Mother's are God's recruiting agents for Heaven, sending forth those who will become the salt of the earth." 

Proverbs 23:25,  “May she who gave you birth rejoice.”  Some people did not have a godly mother, some people have lost their mother to death.  Some people do not know their birth mother.  All mothers are not the same.  As Patsy Clairmont says, "Normal is just a setting on your clothes dryer."  But there are many wonderful mothers and "mothers" who did not birth us but impacted our lives.  Maybe we are that person.  Psalm 34:5, "...our faithful Savior ... grow us into women radiant with His glory and fully alive in His grace."  We all know someone like that who should be celebrated today.

When I think of a mother I think of Philippians 2:1-4, "Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.  Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others."

Not only do our children need that unconditional love of a mother, we, as mothers, need to love our mothers and our "other mothers" that way!  Happy Mother's Day to you and yours!


Did you know? The first official Mother’s Day celebration was held at Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church in Grafton, West Virginia. Learn more here.

Bless and Be Blessed - a Pine Valley United Methodist Church Ministry Blog about Courage to Nourish

You know how some people you meet you just hit it off immediately?  That is how today was when I had to meet my new friend, Kim!  We had no idea who each other were but within a minute we did not take a breath.  She was fun, outgoing and joyful - the kind of people I like to be around!  I tell you that to tell you it was hard to believe the beginning of this story.  

Kim had been a graphic designer and loved what she did.  However, she was laid off on two different times by the same company.  After the second lay off she decided she was not that good at what she did.  Eventually she felt like she could not do anything.  Finally she had dug herself in a hole that she could not get out of.  After a year and a half not working, she was depressed.  She “knew in her brain that she had to turn her focus on something else to make her situation better.”  But she just could not feel it in her heart.  Until….God spoke to her and told her, “get up and go help someone less fortunate!”

She was aware of Nourish NC at a middle school behind her neighborhood.  She knew it was a backpack program that provides weekend meals to over 200 children in New Hanover County who would otherwise not get a nutritious meal outside of school.  She decided to walk over there and help them pack bags of food for children to have on the weekends.  At the same time she was in a small group at church and they were trying to figure out what project their group could do.  They decided on Nourish NC which entails inventory, picking up the food and packing the food.  After a while they decided they could partner with Nourish NC and have their own group.  She became excited and even used her graphic design knowledge to brand Courage To Nourish.  As I talked to Kim, I could feel her compassion for this ministry.

672 children in New Hanover County are classified as “homeless.”  5,155 children live in poverty.  1 in 4 children go hungry each day.  “When a child suffers from lack of nutrition, it creates a ripple effect in the child’s life, classroom, and neighborhood community.  It doesn’t just weaken the child, it weakens us as a nation.  It’s not ‘just their problem’, it’s ours.”  Matthew 25:35, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”

Pine Valley United Methodist Church funds Courage to Nourish through the monies from the virtual lilies at Easter and the help of the United Methodist Women. In the beginning, 20 students were fed each weekend, and now they feed 38 each weekend. I shared with Kim that I remember at the end of a school year I would be excited for my kids to get to go on vacation, go to the beach, and have a fun summer like I enjoyed as a child.  After getting involved in my daughter’s kindergarten class, I began to become sad and pray at the end of school for those kids who school was their safe haven. They had food and were safe at school. 

A note from one of the backpack recipients

A note from one of the backpack recipients

Every Friday the kids at Alderman Elementary get their bags of food.  While Kim does not get to see or know who the kids are, she has heard some heart warming things through the years.  She said one little boy got his bag of food, rubbed his tummy and said, “my tummy’s going to be so full!”  I thought of how most kids would have found something in the bag they did not like!  Kim also shared how some kids, who do not need to receive food from this ministry, help their parents realize that not all kids have a refrigerator or cabinet full of their favorite things.  They just want something to eat!  Kim says she feels that so many seeds are planted in those bags of foods. I think so many seeds are planted for the givers and the takers! 

Why does God require us to plant a seed?  Because planting is an act of faith.  You share your gift with someone else.  It brings glory to God and blesses you.  Kim says this is what lifted her spirits and got her out of depression.  It did not change her circumstances but it changed her focus. Our love put into action is like a mustard seed planted in the ground.  It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of all garden plants! 

While we may not ever know all the stories of the children who are fed through Courage to Nourish, we do know how Kim’s story ended.  She found a passion in feeding children who would have no food on the weekends.  She has planted the seed and she has been rewarded by the blessings it brought her.  Paul said in 1 Corinthians 3:6-8, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.  So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.  The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor.”

Footnote: Kim now has a new job, so she needs help with Courage to Nourish!  If you would like to plant seeds for God through this ministry please contact Mark Edquid at the church office.  

What do you believe

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I had no idea why God wanted me to do this.  For six months I had been fighting Him!  I did not even know what a blog was.  How could I write a devotional five days a week?  After fighting God for six months I agreed to begin this journey.  The first miracle was I set (do not even know if that is the right word) up my own website through a computer program.  I just wanted to write - not do all of this!  Then came the “about” page on the web site!  At first I thought that would be easy but the more I thought about it the more serious it became.  I began to think about what I believe in. Anyone could write a blog but before I would read one I would want to know their beliefs. Years ago I had written my own mission statement.  “To live my life in joy with a continuously growing relationship with God.  Through listening and being obedient I will help further the Kingdom of God.”  Then I decided I must have the prayer of Salvation.  But the more I thought the more I decided this really doesn’t tell someone what I BELIEVE. 

As I began to write my beliefs, I began to see that each statement made me go deeper.  Each statement was important because of the previous statement.  Once I began to write, “I believe in the One and only God Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth” it all came out.  Under “What I Believe” it says, “I believe in the One and only God Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth.  I believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior, who was conceived by the Holy spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, and crucified under Pontius Pilate.  I believe Jesus Christ rose from the dead and now sits at the right hand of God.  I believe in the Holy Spirit.  I believe in salvation by the grace of God through the faith of Jesus Christ.  I believe in the forgiveness of sins and the hope of eternal life.  I believe the bible is the living Word of God.” 

I realized that all those years of reciting the Apostles Creed in church had helped me remember the basics of what I believe!  I also realized that I have been reciting the Apostles Creed for many years - since I was 12 years old. I went through Confirmation class and we learned about our church's beliefs and we learned the Apostles Creed .  (We will be celebrating our Confirmands this Sunday at the 9:45 service.)  It is not Scripture, but it is a simple list of the great doctrines of the faith.  It is a profession of faith - you are stating what you believe. 

Shortly after Mike and I got married we visited his paternal grandmother who was Baptist because there was “no other way into Heaven!"  She nor the rest of the family  was pleased that I was Methodist.  They seemed happier with the grandchildren that did not attend church!  After Grandma got to know me, she told me one day, “you know why I never liked Methodists?”  I was afraid to ask why - I was sure she had a list!  She said, “because y’all say y’all believe in the Catholic church.”  At that point in my life I could not have explained a lot but I did know the answer to this.  I explained to her that we were not specifically saying the “Roman Catholic church”.  We were declaring the body of Christ, the church as a whole across the world as one fellowship.  The word “catholic” means universal.  “Well, that is the first I have heard of that!,” was her response.  She never had a problem with me being Methodist again!  I am glad I knew what I believed in.  

We need to know what we believe!  As Pastor Tim said “we better know what we believe before the world tries to tell us!” In other words, if we do not know what we believe, we may believe anything!  Even the Bible tells us we should know what we believe by knowing God’s Word.  2 Timothy 4:3-4, “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine.  Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.  They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”  We all have a belief system whether we think we do or not.  What we believe affects every area of our life and shapes every decision that we make.  Yet, how many of us have taken the time to really think about what we accept as true?  

2 Timothy 1:12-14, “That is why I am suffering as I am.  Yet this is no cause for shame because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.  What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus.  Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you - guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.”  We are to guard God’s Word which has been entrusted to us! 

In Romans 16:19, we are told, “Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I rejoice because of you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.”  Each time we face a problem or a decision we need to know what God’s Word says.  Knowing what we believe is essential in developing a sound system of beliefs founded on the truth of God’s Word.  What do you believe? 

National Day of Prayer


The first Thursday of May is National Day of Prayer in the USA.  The National Day of Prayer was created in 1952 by Congress and signed into law by President Harry S. Truman. In 1988, the law was unanimously amended by both the House and Senate to designate the first Thursday of May as a day of national prayer. President Ronald Reagan signed it into law on Thursday, May 5, 1988.  All Americans, regardless of their confession, are called to turn to God in prayer and meditation on this day.  Many Americans assemble together in prayer for the nation.  Prayer is important and the Bible makes special mention of praying for those in positions of authority.   

Do you remember after 9-11 how united our community was?  The whole Eastern United States had flags on their vehicles.  Churches were packed.  There were amazing stories going around about people coming together.  In a smaller capacity, Hurricane Florence brought people together.  I am still hearing stories of how people came together. There were a lot of people praying!  It is amazing what God can do when we all have the same focus!

When believers pray for the same thing it creates a sense of unity.  The Holy Spirit knits us together in a bond of fellowship like nothing else in life.  We cannot do this on our own.  It puts us all on the same page and we all seek the kingdom of God first.  This is a huge witness to struggling believers because it encourages them by the concern of those coming together.

Many people pray for America on a regular basis, but on National Day of Prayer we are able to join together across the nation and pray in unity.  Several scriptures come to mind for me to reflect on in observance of The National Day of Prayer.  II Chronicles 7:14, "...if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land."  Psalm 33:12-22, "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,  the people he chose for his inheritance.  From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind; from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth—he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do.  No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength.  A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save. But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine.  We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.  In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you."  

Matthew 18:19-20, "Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.  For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them."   Jesus told His disciples that they should always pray and not give up.  Luke 18:1, "Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up."  Philippians 4:6-7, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."  1 Timothy 2:1-4, "I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.  This is good, and pleases God our Savior,  who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth."

We have an awesome opportunity to petition God on behalf of our leaders and those in positions of authority.  Ephesians 4:3, "Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace."  I think America is in a spiritual crisis and we need to take all actions to come together.  God is the only One who can do this!  2 Chronicles 30:12, "Also in Judah the hand of God was on the people to give them unity of mind to carry out what the king and his officials had ordered, following the word of the Lord."  God's power can unite our families, our work places, our communities, our cities, and our nation.

Join us Thursday night, May 2nd, at 6:30 pm for a National Day of Prayer service and a healing service in the gym.  This is an awesome honor to be able to come together with fellow Americans and pray for our nation!

Easter Is Not Over - A ministry blog reflecting on Lent and Easter

All you have to do is look on social media to see that Easter was a success….family and friends gathered together in their new outfits and hats.  Tables decorated a week in advance.  Church parking lots were overflowing!!  It was a wonderful day and for some a wonderful weekend!  Here at PVUMC, we had a wonderful week with the Maundy Thursday service, to the Good Friday service, the Easter egg hunt, and four powerful services on Sunday. The congregation brought beautiful flowers to decorate the crosses. There were so many volunteers helping to make four services possible.  We had record attendance!  It was all very special and I felt an overwhelming power of the Holy Spirit!  All of those things are great but the greatest is the hands that were lifted during our closing prayer.  Our hearts should still be rejoicing over the hands lifted to Jesus -for the first time - ready to make Him their Lord and Savior!  The beautiful flowers may be gone from the cross but Easter has just begun!

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Plants and trees that have been dormant for winter are coming back to life.  Even some animals are coming back to life.  Of course, we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus at this time of new life and rebirth!  We have gone through our 40 days of Lent, studied the mountaintops and valleys of Holy Week and Easter morning!  Now what?

John 20:19-22, On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’  After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.  Again Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.’  And with that he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’.”  I cannot imagine the lack of hope and fear that the disciples felt after the crucifixion and experiencing the empty tomb.  Then Jesus comes to be with them to give them peace in place of their fear.  He even showed them His scars on His hands and side.  Then Jesus breathed His breath on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit” and go out into the world where I send you.

In the next chapter, like us, the disciples were back to business.  John 21:3-6, “So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.  Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.  He called out to them, ‘Friends, haven’t you any fish?’  ‘No,’ they answered.  He said, ‘Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.’ When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.”  

John 21:15-17,  “When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?’  ‘Yes, Lord,’ he said, ‘you know that I love you.’  Jesus said, ‘Feed my lambs.’  Again Jesus said, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’  He answered, ‘Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.’”  I think Jesus was telling them things are not over - they are just getting started!  If you love me then go find my people and teach them what I have taught you. 

As you go back to your “before Easter” schedule (work, school, meetings, taking care of the kids, ball practice, extracurricular activities, etc.), think about what Jesus said.  Easter is not over.  It is not a holiday that goes up on the shelf with the wreath for next year!  It is time to follow Jesus!  It is about the fact that He is victorious and triumphant!  As many of you said at church, “He is risen!  He is risen indeed!”  The story of Jesus with us is eternal!  When He breathed His Holy Spirit upon us He empowered us to follow Him. 

What difference has this Lenten season made in your relationship with Christ?  Did you experience, or are you experiencing, a renovation?  (It is never too late to renovate!)  Easter morning is the beginning of the story.  Are we going to become one of Jesus’ disciples?  Or are we going back to our daily life which takes away from our relationship with Jesus?

For Christians Easter is a 50-day period.  It is called the season of Easter or Eastertide, which begins at sunset on the eve of Easter and ends on Pentecost, the day we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Church.  Let us use this time to experience what it really means when we say, “Christ is risen!”

Are you lying dormant, or are you ready to spring forth with new growth and be an Easter people?

Praises Through Pillowcases – A Pine Valley United Methodist Church blog about the Common Thread Ministry

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As I visited a dear friend in Hospice, preparing to leave this world and go to be with our Heavenly Father,  I smiled as I saw her head on the beautiful butterfly pillowcase.  It wasn’t just any pillowcase - it was one my church made for her.  It touched me so that I decided to go see what Common Threads was all about.  My family laughed that I would do anything that even had the word, “sew” in it.  Or “iron!”  But there was lots for me to do.  I cut ribbon, cut fabric, ironed pillowcases, etc.  So much love went into those pillowcases!  Here is the story of how Common Threads came about and how God continues to take care of this ministry!

Years ago one of our church members had gone to an Aids workshop for caregivers and her heart was broken.  She heard a testimony that touched her deeply.  She had been making pillowcases for loved ones and decided maybe she could make them for the Aids patients.  She wanted to do something uplifting. She asked the minister over the Aid’s Clinic if she could start making pillow cases for the patients. The minister loved the idea and offered to see if they could get a grant to pay for the fabric.  

In 2009, Common Thread began as she got ladies to come to church and sew on Saturdays. A grant was given by the NC Conference of the United Methodist Church for $7000 to buy fabric!  As she said, the minister at the clinic had a much bigger vision for this pillowcase ministry!  With this much grant money they were able to give pillowcases to Hospice, Partners in Caring for Aids clients, and homebound individuals.  After that year the ladies became self sufficient through their Chocolate Extravaganza fundraiser each February.  In 2013 Common Thread was organized as a United Methodist Women’s circle. These ladies sew about 100 pillowcases each month.  Over 1200 were delivered in 2018!

Our intentions should be to glorify God, to enjoy Him and to love our neighbors as ourselves, both believers and unbelievers.  Romans 12:10, “Be devoted to one another in love.  Honor one another above yourselves.”  We are also to shine the light of Jesus to others.  Matthew 5:16, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in Heaven.”  This is what Common Thread was doing!

When the ladies began taking pillowcases to Hospice, they began writing Psalm 4:8 on the pillowcase, “I will lie down and sleep in peace.  For you, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” David knew his reward was the Lord Himself.  David knew that God’s countenance would fall upon him so he could lie down in peace.  He would be safe and sleep securely - confident that the Lord has his arms around those that trust Him!  What a great reminder! Peter instructed all Christians, not only to one another, but also in relation to unbelievers.  1 Peter 3:8, “Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.” 

One day the chaplain at the Aid’s clinic called. One of the patients was going into ICU and was not doing well.  Even though he was a known atheist, he was offered a pillowcase.  He was even told he did not have to accept this gift.  He responded, “I need all the Jesus I can get right now.”  He saw Jesus in that pillowcase!  The gift of the pillowcase represents the gift of God’s love and the resurrection we have in Christ.

God has worked other miracles in this ministry.  When all of the Walmart’s closed their fabric departments, Common Thread had to search for a new source for the butterfly fabric.  They called the manufacturer and was told they only sell to retailers. They wrote a letter to the president of the company explaining the ministry and included a copy of a newspaper article telling what meaningful work they do and one of the pillowcases.  The next day they received a call offering to sell as much fabric as they wanted, any time, for $3.40 a yard, which was wonderful.  In 2009 they shipped 40 bolts and did not charge shipping!  Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”  God was the Provider!

Another time the print was discontinued and the factory said “sorry” and offered other fabrics.  A week later a man from the factory called and offered to reprint the butterfly fabric for them but they would have to buy 3000 yards for $10,000.  Both of them laughed.  They looked for other fabric but it was all $10 - $12 a yard.  Another week went by and the man called back and asked if they would buy 2000 yards for a reduced price of $3.00 a yard!  Matthew 19:26, “Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’”  Later the factory went digital and closed their screen printing factory but they re-opened the factory to print 3000 yards for Common Thread!  

Common Thread is a ministry of compassion to terminally ill patients through the simple gift of a pillowcase.  Their mission is to provide patients, as well as family members, a feeling of comfort for the body, a sense of peace through the colors, and the hope of new life through the butterfly.  After each sewing session the pillow cases are prayed over, for those who made them and those who will receive them.  If you would like to be a part of this ministry, please contact the church office. You will bless others and be blessed by seeing what God can do with pillowcases!

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The Big Reveal - a blog post in the Pine Valley UMC Lenten Renovate series

The Big Reveal

I seemed to be in a season of excitement - for what I was not sure.  I felt I was doing all that I was supposed to do.  I was trying to be patient and follow God's will and perfect timing.  I trusted God was going to find me a job.  By the second year I just thanked God every day for what He was doing for me about a job.  The feeling I had inside was I knew God had more planned for me!  And I had to wait for the big reveal.  I did not know what it was or when it would happen - I just knew something was coming!  I had learned years before not to put God in a box.  He has a much better plan than I could ever imagine!


In studying "Renovate" with my small group, we studied how God is calling us and asking us if we are willing to go where He wants us to go.  I look back on my life and see that, all along, God was preparing me for this very hour.  One time, before a talk I had to give, I was very nervous and a minister told me not to confuse nervousness with the excitement of the Holy Spirit.  Maybe the burning excitement was the inner excitement of the Holy Spirit for how God was going to use me.

When God asks us if we are willing to go where He wants us to go, He could be talking physically and/or spiritually.  When we are willing to let God guide our path we will go the RIGHT way.  There will be bumps, potholes, detours, etc., but with God guiding us we will eventually get where we are supposed to go!  God tells us that He will guide us along life's path but we will have to choose to stay on His path.  Psalm 16: 11, "You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand."

If we do not take the route that God has planned out for our journey we may miss out on a lot of blessings along the way and we will probably end up lost.  We may run out of gas.  If we go His way, it will be the best route without burning unnecessary fuel. We will pull over for rest, instead of directions, and we will see beautiful sights along the way.   Isaiah 42: 16, "I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth.  These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them."

We are so special to God that He has already seen all the days of our lives - before we were born!  Psalm 139: 16, "Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."  Jeremiah 1; 5, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations."  God's plan for our life is custom made!!  Just for us - no one else!

I think back to the age of 32 when I knelt at the Altar and gave myself 100% to God.  I was already a Christian but I needed to take the next step.  That meant I would hold nothing back.  Oh no! That also meant I would do things I did not want to do - that I was too scared to do!  But I gave Him my word - how could I not after ALL He has done for me!?  

Whatever we are called to do, God will see us through.  He will provide every person and every resource that we need. I look back and see where He pushed (ok - gently shoved) me through some areas that were very much out of my comfort zone!  Looking back I know had I not written those talks and learned that writing came easy for me, I would not have wanted to move on to the next challenge.  God laid on my heart to write a book which resulted in writing four.  I found myself starting Sunday school classes, a circle, and leading retreats - all out of my comfort zone.  None of these things were easy.  In fact, anyone around knew that giving talks was my greatest fear.  I still do not like doing them but I also know God WILL show up and stand in front of me!

I am so thankful that God prepared me for my new job on the ministry team at PVUMC; telling stories about how God is moving!  It brings tears to my eyes to think how He found the perfect job for me. Sharing the Good News and using my God given gift of writing is amazing!  I know this is of God because no one else would have come up with this job!  Don't miss out on the perfect plan God has for your life!  When you give yourself 100% to God, it is amazing what He can do to you, for you and through you!

God is ready to guide you down your path.  He is waiting to embrace you with open arms!  He has good plans for our lives that can be trusted.  Pray what David prayed in Psalm 25: 4.  He wrote, "Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths."  Or as in the The Passion Translation version, 'Lord, direct me throughout my journey so I can experience your plans for my life. Reveal the life-paths that are pleasing to you."  Will you go wherever He wants you to go?  What will be your next big reveal?

Easter is a great time for new beginnings, growth, beautiful changes, and hope!  Come celebrate Easter Sunday with us at 6:30 am, 8:15 am, 9:45 am or 11:15 am. See what God wants to reveal to you!

Light in the Darkness - A Pine Valley UMC Ministry Blog about Maundy Thursday

I think we have all walked into something that we know was not going to end well.  Whether it was a meeting about a job, a doctor for a diagnosis, a meeting with a spouse, a meeting about your child, and many other scenarios.  Most likely we stressed about that situation as long as we were aware of it.  It affected our mood, our appetite, our sleep, our stress levels, etc.  Have you ever thought of Jesus’ feelings as He faced His destiny? 

Jesus knew the battles He was getting ready to face.  He knew within a week the end of His life on earth was going to be like no other.  He came to live, die, and be resurrected. 

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Maundy Thursday is the Thursday of Holy Week.  Jesus did a lot of new things on this day because it would be His last day with the disciples.  Jesus began the traditional Passover dinner by washing the feet of each of the twelve disciples.  He had never done this before.

Their feet would have been dusty and cracked. A servant would normally have taken a basin and washed the feet of guests arriving for a meal. In the late 1990's I had a minister who would use foot washings for many of our spiritual retreat teams.  I do not care for feet - only baby feet.  That being said, it did not bother me nearly as badly to wash someone else's feet as someone washing my feet.  It was uncomfortable and humbling.  I cannot imagine if the King of Kings would have washed my feet.  It brings tears to my eyes to think about.  He would scrub away our insecurities, our doubts, our weariness, our bitterness, and our deepest hurts!  Jesus' words to Peter are also addressed to us: John 13: 8,  "'No,' said Peter, 'you shall never wash my feet.'  Jesus answered, ‘Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.’”

Jesus also talked about the sacrament of the blood and wine for the first time. The disciples had never heard of eating flesh.  Jesus also told them of a new gift.  The gift of the Holy Spirit which meant although He would not be beside them, He would be inside them.  Jesus gave them a new commandment to love one another.  John 13: 34, "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another."

Jesus brought order out of chaos in this world.  He brought light into the darkness.  We do not have to wait for Him to come to experience His peace.  We can have it now.   Jesus told his disciples that peace was the last gift He would give them.  John 14: 27, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."  Jesus' last actions were washing, feeding, and teaching His children.

A Maundy Thursday service reminds us of the Biblical truths that we have forgotten to remind ourselves of through the celebration of Easter.  It is a somber service to draw us into the night of Jesus’ betrayal.  It begins with dinner with friends and ends somberly.  We are reminded of God’s provision in which Jesus offered up the bread and the wine, that was broken and shed for us.  Jesus’ night began with dinner with close friends and ended with blood, anxiety, deep betrayal and walking towards a torturous death. Jesus’ night turned suddenly, beginning with a friend leaving the meal and betraying Him.  Then they went to the garden of Gethsemane to pray for what was getting ready to happen.  He asked His friends to keep vigil, but they could not even stay awake when He needed them most.  He was betrayed, arrested, and tortured alone.

When the service is over we leave in silence because the mood has turned to solitude and sorrow.  We are encouraged to think of the weight of all that is to come.  We are to think about the excruciating night of abandonment and torture that led up to Jesus’ death.  

PVUMC will have a Maundy Thursday service April 18 at 6:30 pm in the gym following dinner at 5:30 pm.  Come prepare for Easter and be reminded of what Jesus Christ did for you!

Inviting Others To Church - A Pine Valley UMC ministry blog in the Renovate series

I do not ever remember being "invited" to church because as long as I can remember church was part of my life.  However, I know one of the biggest gifts in my life was an invitation to go on the Walk to Emmaus (a three day spiritual retreat).  Although I knew nothing about it, I know it was God nudging (ok, pushing) me to go.  It was very much out of my comfort zone - very much!  I trusted God and He was faithful beyond belief.  At age 32 I was already a Christian but I gave myself to God 100%, not 90%, not 99% but 100%.  That is when my life changed!  That person who sponsored me had no idea what God was going to do with that invitation but they were obedient in inviting me!  

Someone you know is waiting on an invitation from you.

Someone you know is waiting on an invitation from you.

Some people may already attend church. Some may not be comfortable with church. But there are many other things at church to invite them to.  It could be inviting them to a program at church or a small group.  Matthew 18: 20, "For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them."  Because you know God is already there, they just have to show up.  This could help this person move along the path to a new relationship with Christ or a deeper relationship with Christ.  If you pray about who to invite, and what to invite them to, God will guide you.  If my sponsor had not been bold enough to invite me, I cannot imagine the blessings I would have missed out on over the last twenty-plus years!  And not just me, but my husband and my parents, who I sponsored, and so many friends!  When I was invited to attend an Emmaus weekend it caused a ripple effect, changing many lives and it continues the ripple effect.

The Bible gives several scriptures on inviting people to church.  Colossians 3: 16, "Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts."  Romans 10: 17, "Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ." 

Andrew, in John's gospel, brought his brother, Peter, to Christ. Then he brought a boy to Jesus who had five loaves of bread and two fish!   Albert McMakin who was 24 years old invited AND picked up Billy Graham and took him to an evangelistic meeting.  That night, in that meeting, Billy accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.  I cannot imagine if Mr. McMakin had not extended that invitation.  Imagine that ripple effect that continues for generations! 

Why not invite someone to go to church with you?  You never know if you are a piece of the puzzle in God's plan for them.  Our God will do over and above all we can think or do. He just needs us to be a witness for Him.  In the closing words of the Bible, God extends His invitation to all.  He says, “Come!”  Revelation 22: 17, “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!” And let the one who hears say, ‘Come!’  Let the one who is thirsty come, and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.”

Invite someone to worship on Thursday nights at 6:30 pm or Sunday mornings at 8:15, 9:45 or 11:15.  


A Great Place to Start - A Ministry Blog About Our Thursday Night Worship Services

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When my husband, Mike, and I are going out of town for a weekend, or if he is playing in the band on a Thursday night we will attend that worship service.  While this service is not the size of our other three services, there are “regulars” who LOVE this service.  I decided I needed to get a story about this service.  That is when I had the blessing of getting to know my new friend, Anna Christain.  When we saw each other we both realized we had met before when we sat by each other one week. 

Anna grew up in PVUMC as a very active youth - after all, her mother, Jeanne Scott, worked here and her Dad, Wes Scott, taught Sunday school.  She spent a LOT of time at church. She has fond memories of growing up at Pine Valley UMC!  She even married Andrew, who also grew up at Pine Valley!  However, as a married couple they did not attend church.  As Anna explained, it was not about faith or the lack of. It was about the overwhelming feeling of going into a big church.  It was about starting over.

Even though Anna grew up at PVUMC she said her friends were not there anymore.  And it was so much bigger than it used to be.  She and Andrew needed to find “their” place.  With them both working full time jobs, Sunday was their only day to do things together or go to breakfast.  When they heard about a Thursday night service, they were excited that they could both come straight from work in their casual work clothes.  She said that is like their date night because they leave church and go to dinner and discuss the service.  It is perfect with their lifestyle and “a great place to start.” 

Anna said Thursday night service was like having the opportunities of a big church without it being a big church.  She mentioned that they do have the children’s moment and a nursery available.  One of the best parts to them about the smaller service is that she and Andrew have gotten to know the ministers better.  She said on Sunday mornings she could stand in line and shake Tim’s hand but now they have gotten to know him.  They have gotten to know the pastors.  They have also been invited to light the candles at Christmas which was special.  Again, Anna does not think these things would have happened in a bigger setting. 

Anna and Andrew relate to Tim and enjoy having sermon series.  They feel like they have found “their” place and are ready to start their journey.  After us chatting, off the record, I said, “I think we are going to be seeing a lot more of you.”  She smiled and quickly said “yes.”  I asked, “Can I quote that?”  And she said yes! 

We are all on a journey and we all start at different places - both spiritually and physically.  How wonderful that we have a place of worship for those who cannot attend church on Sunday mornings.  If you are going to be out of town for the weekend, come to worship on Thursday night. There are many people who have to work on Sundays and this is a great opportunity for them to have their weekly worship.   If they are more comfortable in a smaller setting, let them know about the Thursday night service.  And we may have some people who serve in the church on Sunday mornings and they need a time of worship.  It is a great place to get plugged in.  

In the closing words of the Bible, God extends His invitation to all.  He says, “Come!”  Revelation 22: 17, “The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!”  Let the one who is thirsty come, and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.”  God refers to Christians as His “bride.” We all know someone who we could invite to a Thursday night service. Are we willing to extend that invitation and commitment?

We all know someone who we could invite to church.  Join us and bring a friend on Thursday nights 6:30 - 7:30 in the gym.  It is a great place to start!

When Others Don't Like Our Plans - one blog in the series on Renovate

When my girls, Sarah and Ivey, were little they loved to have sleepovers....especially at our house! They each went through times when they did not want to sleep away. Even when Honey and Pa invited them to spend the night, there was a short period of time that they would not go. Mike and I would be so excited to have a free night and not have to pay a babysitter but they would not go. That was ok because I remember not wanting to leave my mom at times. One night, Sarah and Ivey slept over with my friend and her four children who often played together. Sarah and Ivey were around 5 and 3 years old. Around ten o’clock, Sarah called saying that Ivey was homesick and I needed to come and get them. When I got there I was greeted by Sarah, who hugged me like we had been apart for days. Ivey was not ready so I went upstairs to get her. She said she was staying and that Sarah was the one who wanted to go home. She did not like Sarah’s plan. Once Sarah got home her restlessness left and she went right to sleep. 

Restlessness is the inability to find rest. It is silent and destroys many people. I think often times it goes unaddressed for years or a lifetime. Being restless affects all parts of our lives and it can wreak havoc on our relationships, marriage, work, etc. It can hinder our personal and work performance. It will steal our peace and joy. When we are in that frame of mind it can cause us to make bad decisions in life and relationships. 

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Physical restlessness is when we have sleepless nights. Although we may desperately need and want sleep, our bodies will not let us. Relational restlessness is when people go from person to person and place to place searching. It is an uneasiness with themselves. We do not stay happy for long. It cannot be cured with purchases, people, achievements, activities, busyness, etc. The solution to restlessness is rest. Matthew 11: 28, " Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."

As I read my small group introduction the word "restless" was used. One of the chapters in the book was, "When Others Don't Like Our Plans" which really spoke to me. A few years ago I found myself feeling restless and unsettled. For me restlessness brought tears and they were coming often. I knew what the issue was and I did not feel I could do anything about it. The tears came because my soul was not settled. I was agitated on the inside. I tried to listen to my body and not suppress things that caused added stress. This issue was a big deal to me and was causing stress. I had identified the problem, but was not ready to take a leap of faith and go where God was calling me. 

I think the tears came from frustration that I knew I was made for more. I also think the tears were coming because I was wrestling with God. Years prior, my dad told me that the tears would stop when I quit fighting God and made the commitment I was struggling with. He had been right. I recognized the restlessness as God calling me for more. People that I respect told me I could not do this and I listened. They also told me why I could not do it. Proverbs 18: 3, "If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame." Of course they did not understand. They had not heard what God had told me. I realized it was time that I just listen to God and remain in His truth and be attentive to His voice.

You know the saying, "you can run, but you cannot hide" - well that is especially true with God!  That is why staying busy and running won't work. I was tired of running. God continued to call me. As soon as I acknowledged - not just knew - that it was God calling me, I was able to start chatting with Him. I told Him all of the reasons why I could not do this. As if He did not know already, He patiently let me talk. He did not debate with me. He let me know this was no longer open for discussion....just like a parent to a kid! Like Sunday school, He left me with one question to take with me. In that question, He pinpointed the very thing holding me back!!

It was time to trust God - not others. Proverbs 3: 6, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths." After all He wants more for me! Jeremiah 29: 11, "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Pray, trust and wait. Psalm 62: 1, " Truly my soul finds rest in God;..." God wanted more for me and I knew it meant I had to make some changes! 

God can not renovate when we are unwilling to making a change! Fast forward a year and a half! God is faithful beyond belief! He gave me just what I asked for and so much more along with lessons in trust, God's timing, and being obedient! 


Hurts, Habits & Hang Ups - A ministry blog about Celebrate Recovery

My husband was asked to lead worship for CR - Celebrate Recovery.  Not knowing anything about CR, I was blessed to meet so many wonderful people and learn about this amazing ministry.  CR is a fellowship and the celebration of God’s healing power in our lives through the eight recovery principles found in the Beatitudes and in Christ-centered 12 Steps.  As one progresses through the principles and the steps, they discover our personal, loving, and forgiving Higher Power - Jesus Christ. 

Several times I heard them say CR is for people with hurts, habits and hang ups.  Who doesn’t have hurts, habits or hang ups?  I was looking for someone to share a story with me about CR.  I was immediately given Carmen’s name and she was thrilled to share her story with me.  My job is to share stories with PVUMC of how God is working in this place!  When you read this story you will see He is all over this place working on so many different things all at once.  He is the Great Multitasker!

Carmen grew up in a dysfunctional home and was exposed to a lot.  She was never exposed to church and was unsure about her faith.  At age 18 she told her mom that she was leaving the next day - she was in survival mode.  Her mom asked her to wait two days and she would go with her.  Two days later they left and never returned.

Eventually, Carmen found herself in an abusive marriage thinking she could “fix” things.  She was carrying on the cycle but to her, abuse was normal.  After her husband’s first assault arrest she tried to bail him out.  He lost multiple jobs while she supported him.  When she found out she was pregnant with their first child she knew this would fix everything!  It did change her. She decided to go to church and was baptized with her daughter.

Things were so bad at home that Carmen would encourage her husband to drink so he would pass out.  A DWI left her husband with the ultimatum to either go to rehab or go to jail.  The 28 days that he was in rehab were the best!  After 28 days, instead of going to a halfway house, he went back home and back to his old habits. 

While visiting PVUMC, Carmen saw a sign about “Celebrate Recovery.”  Because she could take her daughter, she decided to go “so she could fix her husband.” Carmen lived two different lives.  No one at church or work knew about her living situation.  Although Carmen was there to fix her husband, after five months she realized she herself had a hurt, habit and a hangup.  At this point she surrendered.  

Carmen’s mother started going to church with her and also joined.  One week after joining, Carmen’s mother died.  She went to tell her husband, who was supposedly not drinking, and he was drinking.  She was devastated because other than her children, she was alone.  While he was not there for her, the church was!  This is when she realized she had a church family!

After her son was born, Carmen stayed home for six months while looking for a job.  She knew she had to get out of this marriage - she was realizing how messed up her life was.  She started sharing with others who she could trust and they encouraged her to get help. She went to the domestic violence shelter and was told if she went back they would get social services involved because the kids were being exposed to abuse.  She felt so isolated.  She was a prisoner in her own home.  Now she says thank God that they made her make that decision or she might still be there!

Through CR and the church they found somewhere for her to stay temporarily and helped her pack her house.  After a week she got a restraining order on her husband and received sole custody of her children. After a head-on collision, her husband was arrested with his second DWI resulting in him to go to jail.  Even through all of this she could never picture life without him.

A former boss got Carmen in touch with an attorney who never charged her a penny for his services!  While this was out of Carmen’s comfort zone, she even joined a circle at church!  After her husband was served papers, she broke down and told her United Methodist Women Circle she needed prayer.  They took care of her and her kids.  She was so nervous to go to court and see her husband that her CR friend went with her.  Her ex-husband started dating and got married as soon as their divorce was final.  Carmen started going to counseling. This counseling would also help with her eating disorder.  She was now half the size she used to be. 

In September of 2018, Carmen’s house was flooded with six feet of water from Hurricane Florence!  Because she worked in the insurance industry, she stayed in town and sent her kids to a friend out of town.  The first night she slept in her car because she did not know what to do.  She had nowhere to go.  Nowhere was open.  Except church!  Volunteers were feeding the linemen every day.  She came to church every day and served.  She was told by our pastor not to worry that we would take care of her.  And he was right.  Immediately a church member offered her an apartment on their property that she and her kids could use as long as necessary.

“All of her belongings were in her front yard…”

“All of her belongings were in her front yard…”

She had 16 people show up to clean out her house. Some took home her grandmother’s depression glass to clean; some took home her china to clean.  Some of the people did not even know her.  All of her belongings were in her front yard.  After the insurance company paid, she had a CR friend help her find a house that had not gone on the market yet. She closed on that house on a Friday and that Sunday, March 17, her circle had a housewarming shower for her!  She showed me pictures of her beautiful new home fully decorated!  Her daughter’s room was better than anything she could imagine! 

Carmen will tell you she always wanted out of her house because it was dark and had so many bad memories!  She wanted to be in a bright and happy home.  Without the flood she probably would not have gotten out of that house.  And remember, she is half her size so she needed all new clothes and now she could get them! 

Through a major renovation in Carmen’s life, she got rid of all the old and dark stuff and has replaced it with new and bright things.  What she thought was going to be the worst thing that could happen to her, has become the best thing that could have happened to her.  Why should we be surprised?  Romans 8: 28, tells us, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  Carmen reminded me that six months prior to the closing of her new house, she was sleeping in her car.  Before we left Carmen said, “I gained a family when I went to PVUMC.  I went there to fix someone else and God fixed me.  I feel like life cannot get any better!”  Praise be to God for what He is doing through PVUMC!

If you would like Celebrate Recovery information, please contact the church office.

"It's a Process" - A Renovate Lenten Spiritual Journey series blog post

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Mike and I always wanted to move back to Wilmington.  After our first child, Sarah, was born we sold our condo and moved into an apartment to see what would happen. Mike was in engineering at UPS and was actively looking for a job.  After a year and no luck we decided to buy a house in Greensboro.

We found a neighborhood under construction and found a lot we liked.  We were thrilled to build our first home!  We could just imagine seeing Sarah with a real yard!  Twice we put contracts on lots in that neighborhood and something would happen.  In my mind that house was decorated and perfect for our little family!  I could picture our future family in that house!  Please note that I never discussed this plan with God.  After a while, we found a brick ranch in a sought after neighborhood.  It had a fenced in backyard, a screened porch, deck and Jacuzzi.  We never believed we could have all of that!

Right after my second daughter, Ivey, was born I asked Mike what they would do for fun in the summers.  I truly did not know what people did without a beach.  He told me they would have horses.  HORSES?!  I had to get home!  We started trying to move home to Wilmington.

Within two years Mike had a job offer in medical supplies!  God had opened my eyes when my girls were born but I was beginning to look to Him more!  I asked God if it was meant to be to please work it out for us to get home. I did not have any scripture to quote to Him.  I just asked Him to help us do what was right.  I told Mike I thought we should put our house on the market for sale by owner and see what happened.  Within the month our house sold for the asking price.  We were ecstatic!  God brought to my mind a big lesson.  If we would have gotten that lot and built we would not have been able to sell our home two years later.  The new neighborhood still had many lots and great deals.  Also we would not have made the money we made on this house.  That was the first time I learned to trust God with decisions.  He sees the future and knows what is best....even if we don't understand.  Proverbs 3: 5-6, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him,  and he will make your paths straight."

I knew God would "show off".  I  do not mean “show off” disrespectfully.  I am amazed at how God can always “outdo” us!  He sees the future and really does know what is best!  I understand Isaiah 55: 8-9, "for my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."

We moved home and I don't know who was happier: Mike, Mom, Dad, Sarah, Ivey, or me! I often think back to that time and am so thankful that God showed me His ways are bigger and better than anything I could ever think of!  Before I started rebuilding my life away from Greensboro, I wish I would have known that it was going to be a process.  It was going to take some time because God was going to teach me many lessons through this renovation.  As God showed me one little piece at a time I found myself trusting Him a little more with each step.

When we are letting God start a renovation in our life we need to know that it will take time and patience.  It is a rebuild which means we have to get other stuff out of the way.  But that rebuild will be worth the wait!  As Nehemiah 2: 18b says, “Let us start rebuilding!”

“Moving Earth” - a PVUMC Ministry Blog on our grounds crew

Today I had the opportunity to talk with Berry Stephens about his time working the grounds here at PVUMC!  Berry and I were friends at Hoggard High School - although he is much older than I am!  One of the many blessings of coming to PVUMC was getting reacquainted with Berry and his family. It is amazing to see what God has done with our lives since then!  What a gift to have Christian friends!

Some of the grounds crew equipment.

Some of the grounds crew equipment.

Like our long-time friendship, Berry said the best part of working the grounds at PVUMC are the friendships. Berry has shared his gift of landscaping for over 25 years!   One of the men that showed up to work years ago ended up knowing his father and uncle and Berry knew the man’s daughter.  While doing yard work, they visited every week, for years, and they have become lifelong friends.

I knew Berry probably liked working the grounds because he enjoys the outdoors.  When I asked him why he likes to be in charge of the grounds he answered quickly.  “Because I don’t have to write.”  I laughed and then he said, “because I don’t have to speak in front of people.”  His third answer was, “because it takes minimal organizational skills.” 

I laughed when Berry first said he would not have to write because that is what I love to do.  When he said he would not have to speak in front of people, I was on board with him!  Then he mentioned the organizational skills and that is one of my strengths….sometimes to a fault!  God can use us all - it takes all kinds!  We all have different strengths and gifts.  1 Peter 4: 10-11, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms….If anyone serves they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.  To Him be the glory and the power forever and ever.  Amen.” 

One of our neighbors who lives close by would speak to the people working on the PVUMC grounds.  He would offer his equipment and visit.  According to him, the church members were so nice and welcoming that a few years later when he and his wife decided to look for a church home they visited here and have since joined.  Another woman, who Berry sees walking her dog, always stops and speaks.  One day she stopped and helped him put out pine straw!  Now he sees her at church!  This is a ministry!

I also talked with Tom Nunalee who used his gift serving in our church yard from 1970 until 2016!  Tom shared memories of friends who had certain jobs for various reasons.  Some had issues walking but could ride the lawn mower, some loved flowering annuals and that was their specialty.  One man trimmed all the shrubs in one day while Tom went behind him picking up the clippings.  When the gentleman aged out Tom took over the trimming.  He intended to do all of the trimming in one day but it took him 3 days!  Everybody used their gift!  Tom also mentioned that picking up litter seems so menial but what an important job that is!  Can you imagine what our church yard would look like if we never picked up the litter? 

According to Tom, PVUMC has saved a lot of money through the years having volunteers do our yard.  This is a church being wise stewards of their money.  Serving is a great form of generosity and an awesome way to honor God!  When we serve we worship God by stewarding our time and talents for Him. Serving with others is a blessing.  When we’re working side-by-side with other people, bonds are formed.  This was part of God’s plan for how the church is supposed to work.  Hebrews 10: 24-25, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another - and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

When we see the ways God uses our service to bring glory to Him our faith grows.  Meeting people in the church yard while we are working and then seeing them visit and join the church increases our faith. Ephesians 3: 20, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us….” 

Gardening is a great source of exercise.  You can burn calories, build muscle mass, maintain bone density, reduce blood pressure and obesity, etc.  Studies show that volunteering is so good for the mind and body that it can ease stress and depression symptoms.  And you can do all of this while working outside (getting vitamin D) in God’s beautiful creation.  And make friends! 

What an important ministry this is for PVUMC!  Our grounds show that we care about God’s yard.  Berry needs a lot of help with mowing, blowing, edging, raking, etc.  If Berry can get enough help, then people would only have to sign up to work once every eight weeks!  If you are interested in sharing your heart and time with this ministry, please contact the church office and we will get you in touch with Berry Stephens.

- Jill Jarrell Newsome

Crying and Building - one blog in a series on Renovate, Pine Valley's Lenten Spiritual Journey

Crying and Building

Crying and Building

Life was going well and in a moment everything fell apart.  Everything changed! My Dad, who seemed so much younger than he was, had a stroke and went to be with the Lord ten days later.  It rocked our world. Six months later my mother-in-law died of cancer. Three months later my father-in-law was diagnosed with stage four cancer.  The next month my mother had to have a major back surgery. There were other things going on also. I found myself exhausted. Maybe from grief, maybe from bad news, maybe from care giving, maybe from staying positive, maybe from stress or maybe from the whole package!  My season of tears started. And once the tears started they stayed for a while.

Shedding tears can be good for our health.  We have to let our guards down to cry which is a positive and healthy thing.  There are three types of tears but we are talking about emotional tears. Tears can regulate their own emotions.  Tears can calm the body. Tears can reduce their own distress. The Japanese are such strong believers in the benefits of crying that they have "crying clubs".  You can go there for a sobfest! To help the tears flow they watch tearjerker movies. They do this because crying releases stress which is a great way to stay mentally healthy.  Research is backing up that theory.

Society makes people think it is not ok to cry - especially males.  God said in Luke 6: 21, “Blessed are you who weep now.” When Mary fell apart at Jesus’s feet over the death of her brother, Lazarus, "He groaned in the spirit and was troubled."  A short time later "Jesus wept." John 11: 33-35. Jesus had compassion. If Jesus could cry we should all cry!

I thought it was just me but apparently most people have tears right before a renovation.  When the pain is too much to take our body is wired for humility before God. No matter what the problem or pain is we need the peace of God.  Surrendering our situations to God means surrendering our thoughts about it. Remember, what we place on the Altar is altered!

Every tear you shed is preparing for you for God's renovation.  The ability to shed tears is a gift from God. God sees our tears and hears our cries.  He knows what scares us, saddens us and what stresses us. He knows why we are crying even when we are not sure!  Maybe that is why He wants to do a renovation on us. He wants to build something better than we can imagine! 2 Corinthians 4: 17, "These troubles and sufferings of ours are, after all, quite small and won’t last very long. Yet this short time of distress will result in God’s richest blessing upon us forever and ever!"  Who doesn't want God's richest blessing upon them forever and ever?!

God's renovations can cause bitterness to turn to forgiveness.  He can help us let go of the past and embrace the future. He can turn our negative outlook to a positive outlook. What is causing your tears?  What do you need renovated? The Builder is waiting for you!