Tuesday, December 29, 2015

No Such Thing as a Silly Question

By Nya Brooks, Catholic Volunteer Network Recruiter

One great aspect of being a recruiter for CVN is the interactions with students. Often service corps are not a common topic of discussion for career development on college campuses (at least for my undergraduate experience.) Unless you participated in a service immersion trip, know someone who has volunteered, or are involved with your campus ministry, it makes sense that you might be unfamiliar with faith-based service programs.

As a very inquisitive person, I feel very comfortable asking questions. I believe they are the avenues to knowledge and always encourage others to do the same. My former history professor once said, “Please ask questions during class. If you have a question, chances are that the person next to you has the same question.” So I have included 5 questions that I have been asked during my recruitment season. Hopefully this will show you, the reader, that you are not the only person who has questions about faith-based service. Perhaps these questions will spark new questions for you. And if nothing else, for anyone who is insecure about asking questions, my blog will show you that there is no such thing as a silly question.


1. Do I have to be Catholic? 

Student: “I am not Catholic.”

Me: “Me neither! Now that that’s out of the way...”

All of the programs within CVN are not Catholic. For the programs that are Catholic, many will not require you to be Catholic, but may ask that you attend some religious events, such as mass or having dinner with nuns and/or priests.  If religion is a concern, I would talk to the program director because each program has its own religious requirements.

In my program, we attended mass once or twice a month and had weekly spirituality nights that consisted of almost anything that related to nourishing the spirit. One spirituality night we finger painted. Also, because my service site was a Catholic middle school, I attended mass once a week.

2. Can I put my volunteer experience on a resume?

Of course! Just because you are paid a small amount for your service, does not mean you will be doing small work. During my year of service, I served as a teaching assistant at an all girls middle school. Outside of my classroom and tutoring responsibilities, I started a speech club and wrote daily motivational passages to educate the girls on Black and Women’s History month. From this, I have developed my writing skills and possess the ability to initiate and carry out projects. With a passion for gender empowerment and hopes of working in higher education administration, I can say that I have experience with empowering girls in a school setting and providing student activities.  

3. Does Catholic Volunteer Network offer education awards like AmeriCorps?

Some programs have partnerships with AmeriCorps that allows their volunteers to receive an Education Award, a monetary award given to volunteers after completing their service term. The Education Award can be used to pay back student loans or be applied to tuition if you decide to continue your education. Some programs even fundraise on their own and give their volunteers an end of the year bonus similar to an AmeriCorps education award.

4. How are you able to live on $100 a month? 

The reason we call our volunteers “volunteers” is because they are not paid with a salary, but are compensated with many benefits, including housing, utilities, transportation, money for food, a very small living stipend, and health insurance. So all of your basic needs are provided. If I wanted new clothing, I would shop at thrift store and I did not have to pay back my loans because I was not earning any income. I used my living stipend for personal hygiene products and eyebrow threading.

What helps save money is free entertainment. One of my highlights from my year of service was going salsa dancing at clubs on nights where there was no cover. My program directors also provided my community with money to go on roadtrips, eat at restaurants once a month, and explore St. Louis. By living with this small stipend, taught me how to prioritize my spending and improved my eating habits/health because I cooked at home to save money.  

5. What has been a challenge and a reward from your year of service?

A challenge for me was living in intentional community. Unlike having a roommate(s), you do not just live with your community members, but are expected to share meals and do activities together in order to build relationships. It’s like a family. As someone who identifies as a bit of a loner, it was not easy for me to spend time with my community members because I enjoy doing things by myself. Living in intentional community challenged me to improve my relationship building skills and understand that people build bonds by doing things together.

A reward was the amount of love that I received from the people I encountered during my year of service. Being over a decade old, my former volunteer program, Vincentian Mission Corps, is well-respected amongst Catholic churches and social service agencies in St. Louis, MO. Because there is always a new set of volunteers each year, it felt as though my community members and I were newborn babies coming home for the first time. People were always excited to meet us; we were always praised for devoting a year to help others and often times given free food because they knew we were making little money.


What other questions do you have about full-time service? Type them in the comments section and we will be sure to answer them!

Want to hear more from Nya? Check out her recent webinar "What you need to know about faith-based service." 

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Who is this pink baby?

A reflection by Connor Bergeron, serving with Salesian Lay Missionary in Bolivia


When I first arrived at my mission site, Yapacaní, Bolivia there were many things to grow accustomed to, some things which I never will get used to: non-stop sweating, attending morning prayer at 6:15am, eating rice for every meal, speaking in Spanish, not using seat belts, praying fervently until I leave any vehicle, carrying toilet paper with me everywhere, and so on. Now my eyes have grown familiar to the faces I work with and the scenery around me.

There is an image that has struck me more than others recently.  It follows me in taxis; in churches; it’s even on my own calendar.  Divino Niño Jesús, The Divine Child Jesus.  Seeing baby Jesus outside of Christmas, is well, foreign.  To see our Lord in pink, is well, different!
Child with Divino Niño Jesús
Two friends visited me recently and during dinner they asked me, “So like, what do you do?”.  I paused to think because there is so much.  Unlike jobs before, my work here requires me to bring my life into it. So I guess, a better question to ask me is not “what do you do?” but “how do you live?”

Days after I arrived, my fellow missionaries and I celebrated Thanksgiving.  It was a pleasure to catch up and speak English. Yet I couldn’t relate to my friends because they had been working for two months in orphanages.  Soon I learned I’d be working in a radio/tv station (because of my previous experience) and translating for a Canadian charity. Yet where were the children?

I have a weekly schedule, which rarely follows my plan: I update the Ichilo Radio/ TV station’s  website and maybe edit a commercial, then for lunch I serve the elderly in El Comedor (the soup kitchen), and in the afternoon translate as many letters I can from Spanish to English.  Sundays I go to Mass multiple times, where I play the local songs.  Life can become hard, removed from friends and family, and especially when you’re sick and believe that the medicine is actually making your bowel movements worse.  When I share my troubles with my site partner, Adam he gives me solid advice.  “You should reread your mission statement,” he suggested. When I did a gentle breeze passed through my mind and soul.  “To be molded into the man God longs for me to be through his children in Bolivia.”  But where were the children?

Two Bebés of San Carlos
Mondays are Adam and my día libre (free day).  On those days we go to the children’s hospital.  It’s a beautiful place for mothers to learn how to care for their newborns, as they care for other babies.  Every time we go the children grow a little more. And every time, Cynthia cries the entire time. Maybe it’s us.  Yet there are others whose bright smiles entice us to return.  We talk about another baby, the pink Divino Niño Jesús.  We couldn’t understand where it originated—maybe it’s a Bolivian apparition?  We concluded that it is supposed to open our hearts more to Christ since it’s easy to love a baby.

Saturdays there’s oratory.  In the past I’ve been unable to go due to work in the TV station.  Yet one afternoon I realized there was nothing to keep me away. I just didn’t want to go because it was different.

I had just left the station. “Hola!” I heard a tiny voice.  I turned and saw a familiar face.  It was a boy of 5 years old who plays with the keyboard that I use for Mass.   “Are you coming to oratory?” he asked me in Spanish.  I tried to give him an excuse.  But I couldn’t.  “Sí,” I said, thinking I would buy some toiletries first then return. “Okay!” he shouted with a grin.  Before I could leave to buy more toilet paper Padre waved me over. While he was explaining the essence of the Salesian charism – the youth - I suddenly felt something grab my hand.  I looked and saw that little boy.

“¿Vamos?” he asked me.  I laughed.  “Sí, vamos,” I said and let him lead me into oratory.  My little angel.  I was silly to be afraid. He guided me through and quickly I found myself surrounded by children.  Their faces grew, crowding me with laughter and smiles. I turned to look for my guide.  He was gone and I was fine.  Ever since that Saturday I have returned to oratory; readying myself to open my heart a little more.  Since then more opportunities to interact with the children of Yapacaní have appeared.  Tuesday nights I teach a confirmation class and more recently Fridays morning I teach a religion class.

One year.  It’s a small amount of service.  To answer the question “how do I live?” it’s simple. Trust.  I fail at it consistently, but from what it was before, it’s significant. God puts people, sometimes a baby in pink, in our lives to aid us in this sojourn toward Him.  I pray that whatever little service I do here will aid these children in their path toward Him.


Kids of Okinawa

To learn more about Salseian Lay Missioners, click here!  


Monday, December 21, 2015

Recruitment Wrap-Up: Common Questions About Service

By Rosa Segura, Catholic Volunteer Network Recruiter

The past few months have gone by so fast! It seems like just yesterday that I walked into the CVN office, excited about the bagels at our welcome party, worried about how sweaty I was after walking to the office. It has been such a rewarding experience to be a part of the CVN team as a recruiter. I have loved every minute of it. I am sad to be leaving, but am thrilled to embark on a new adventure.

Along the road, I’ve received a number of questions about post-graduate service. I’d like to impart some of my knowledge and answer some of the most common questions. I would also like to take a moment to emphasize a point: service is for everybody. We focus our recruiting efforts largely on universities, but that doesn’t mean we’re only looking for students. Our programs have a variety of needs that can be met by a variety of people. Married couples, single parents with children, senior citizens, individuals with disabilities. All are welcome to serve for a few weeks, a few months, or even a few years. So without further ado, here are the top five questions I’ve been asked as a CVN recruiter.

1. How much does it cost?

We have 198 different programs and they each raise funds differently. Many will ask volunteers to fundraise a certain amount of money to help offset the cost of running a volunteer program. (And many programs will let you fundraise while you are doing your year of service!) I have not heard of a program that has turned away an applicant for lack of financial resources, so don’t let that hold you back!

2. Where can I volunteer?

Our programs operate all over the United States and all over the world. There are placements in 47 of the United States and in 114 countries abroad. We’ve got options on every continent except Antarctica. (But there’s not really a population that needs to be served there…)

3. Where did you do your year of service?

I served at Amigos de Jesus Home for Children in rural Honduras. It was one of the most challenging and amazing years of my life.

4. How do I apply to a program?

The application process varies from program to program. It can be similar to applying for a job or graduate school. It usually involves a written application, letters of recommendation, a background check, and a series of interviews.

5. Can I still volunteer if I have student loans?

Absolutely! Our programs often have an option for loan deferment, but even if they don’t, you can sign up for an income-based payment plan. (You’ll be making $0 so you’ll pay $0!)


What other questions do you have about full-time service? Type them in the comments below and we will be sure to answer them.

Would you like to hear Rosa speak more about service opportunities? Tune in to her recent webinar "What you should know about international service."


Sunday, December 20, 2015

Advent, A Season of Service: Focus on Spirituality

This is the fourth blog post of our Advent series. Every Sunday we will feature a reflection by one of our current or former volunteers. You can download the entire reflection guide here

Fourth Sunday of Advent

“Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” Luke 1:39-45

Reflection by Elisa Raubach, current Maggie’s Place Volunteer

At the Annunciation, Mary agreed to do the will of God. Her Fiat brought about our salvation when the God of the universe was knit together in her womb. Soon after Mary begins to ponder this mystery in her heart, she goes in haste to her cousin Elizabeth. The two women did not expect or plan to be pregnant at this time—one after many long years of barrenness and the other at a mere fourteen years old and without a husband. Mary is young, poor, and afraid, yet she goes to her cousin to console, be consoled, serve, and celebrate. She is met with the embrace of Elizabeth who sees Mary’s pregnancy as a source of joy and exultation. Before Mary even explains what has happened, Elizabeth knows in her heart and in her womb Who is present. The mother of her Lord has come, He is hidden as an unborn child. 


So often Christ is hidden in our lives: in the poor, the elderly, the sick, the immigrant, the imprisoned, the unborn child. Just as Mary and Elizabeth embraced in order to encounter the hidden Christ, we too must embrace and serve others to encounter Jesus. He is hidden beneath disguises of poverty, fear, and loneliness. At Maggie’s Place, we strive each day to recognize the hidden Christ in the pregnant women and babies we serve—it’s not always easy to do, but there is much joy, hope, and love. Like Elizabeth, we seek to welcome moms who have given their own Fiat to life and love. 

Focus on Spirituality

“In the mystery of the Annunciation and Visitation, Mary is the very model of the life we should lead. First of all, she welcomed Jesus in her existence; then she shared what she had received. Every time we receive Holy Communion, Jesus the Word becomes flesh in our life…Thus, the first Eucharist was such: Mary’s offering of her Son in her, in whom he had set up the first altar. Mary, the only one who could affirm with absolute confidence, “this is my body,” from the first moment offered her own body, her strength, all her being to form the Body of Christ”—Mother Teresa

A Season of Service

It can be so easy to go about our day without ever pausing to recognize Christ hidden in the people around us. Where can you embrace Christ in the hidden and the ordinary? Maybe God is calling you to reach out and serve your roommate, your grandmother, or a total stranger at the grocery store. Offer words of consolation or an act of kindness to someone who may be in need. Today, ask the Holy Spirit to guide you and be attentive to His promptings—be ready to welcome the hidden Christ with joy.

Prayer

Come, Lord Jesus. Thank you for coming to us so vulnerable and needy, as an infant in the womb and arms of Mary. Grant us the grace needed to prepare more room in our hearts for You. May we seek after You hidden in others as we prepare for Christmas.  Help us to see You in the poor, know You in the lonely, and love You in the fearful. May our hearts always be open to encountering You in the unexpected. Amen.


How has your faith grown during this season of Advent? 



Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Interfaith Dialogue in Practice

By Jotti Aulakh, Lasallian Volunteers

Jotti is a second year volunteer serving with Lasallian Volunteers at the Brother David Darst Center in Chicago, IL. She is a graduate of Saint Mary's College of California.

Coming from a Sikh background and going into a Catholic volunteer program was a pretty tough decision to make. I knew that I wanted to do a year of volunteer work and I knew that I wanted it to be faith based because I had been struggling with my faith for a while. The problem was that there weren’t any Sikh volunteer programs. I went to a Catholic college, but it wasn’t until my last semester that I got involved in the service side of things at the mission and ministry center. From there, I thought why not do a Catholic program? There was an abundance of them after all, and at the end of the day I would be doing good work no matter what religious affiliation the organization had. Lasallian Volunteers was aimed at making a difference and I was too, and at that point, that was all that mattered to me. 

I think working and living with people of other faiths is one of the most important things someone can do to gain better understanding of a life and religion that is perceived to be completely different from their own. When it comes to interfaith interaction, I don’t think we need to necessarily talk about how similar one religion is compared to another and how they are all pretty much saying the same thing; which is to love one another and do good in the world. I think it is important to take note of the differences and embrace them. These differences are what make us unique, and learning about these differences helps us understand a culture and lifestyle from a different perspective.

This past year and a half has actually made me grow closer to my faith. Before joining the program, I went to the temple once in a while. I did the things I was supposed to do without giving them much thought and not much else. If anything, I was questioning whether religion was something that I wanted as a part of my life at all. All it seemed to do was bring a great deal of trouble to the world and pit one group against another. But by living in a Catholic community and working at a Catholic ministry, I was forced to learn more about myself and where I come from, what my history is and what it means to be a Sikh. Co-workers and community members were constantly asking me about my faith because it was one that they did not know much about, and I was someone they could ask directly. I was disappointed in myself when I didn’t know the answers right away.  Going to my parents and asking them the questions I was asked and doing my own research online helped me understand something that had evaded me before. The more I learned the more I wanted to know.


Hopefully, this experience can be the same for others as well. Sometimes interfaith dialogue doesn’t have to take place in a formal setting. Simply going up to someone and asking a question can be enough. I know that I personally felt appreciative that people were even showing an interest and it’s through this simple back and forth dialogue that a relationship can be built to learn more about someone and their background and history. It’s easy to surround yourself with people who share your beliefs and think the same way you do. But life can present you with interesting opportunities and interesting people, and it is up to us to the make the most of that experience.


To learn more about Lasallian Volunteers, please click here

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Advent, A Season of Service: Focus on Simple Living

This is the third blog post of our Advent series. Every Sunday we will feature a reflection by one of our current or former volunteers. You can download the entire reflection guide here


Third Sunday of Advent

“The crowds asked John the Baptist, ‘What should we do?’ He said to them in reply, ‘Whoever has two cloaks should share with the person who has none. And whoever has food should do likewise.’”

Luke 3:10-18

Reflection by Michael O’Neill, former Jesuit Volunteer Corps volunteer

“What then should we do?” After my time in Jesuit Volunteer Corps, this question has been seared onto my heart. As many FJVs might say, I have been “ruined for life” (the unofficial slogan of JVC). Being ruined is being aware of the injustices in the world both far and near (sometimes far too near). Knowing of these injustices I constantly find myself challenged with so many questions, “How should I be living my life?” “How do we conquer injustice and build up the Kingdom of God?” “How does my vocation play into this?” “How do I dialogue with others about these injustices?” “Am I doing enough?” “What does ‘enough’ look like?” All these questions always lead back to the question the crowds asked John the Baptist, “What then should we do?”


While I have no answers that bring a piece of mind I do find some solace in today’s Gospel. While the answers aren’t clear, the direction is. And sometimes that is what is needed and nothing more. Jesus simply said, “Follow me” not “Follow me with these specific details so you know exactly what the way will look like.” The direction I see John pointing us in is adorning a woven fabric of living a life that focuses on community, faith, social justice, and simplicity. These values are so tightly interwoven that one cannot help fully live one without the others. What John calls the crowds to do is live simply so that they may focus on one another as a community and work together for justice and ultimately, remove all distractions between themselves and an all-loving, merciful, and very mysterious God. So, “What then should we do?” I’d say let us pick up this cross together and head in the direction John is pointing. Reminding ourselves that we are merely workers building the Kingdom and to have faith in the God that leads us.

Focus on: Simple Living

In today’s Gospel, where hear about John the Baptist responding to the question, “What then should we do?” John the Baptist’s response in short is two-fold. First, go forth doing what is just and honest. He calls the crowds to give away any excess to those who lack and being present to others rather than taking advantage of them. Being John the Baptist, this is a challenge to embrace simplicity. Simplicity helps when living a just and honest life but that is only the half of John’s message. The second part is preparation. Simplicity prepares our hearts to be open to God by re-aligning our focus on what is important in life by removing what distracts us and in the process lifting up others in authentic love.

A Season of Service

Engage in simplicity! Unbound yourself from things that distract you from others and God. Do you tend to fill up your time? Untangle your schedule to pray and spend time with God. Then go out and serve (perhaps in a food pantry, or in your local parish, temple, mosque, etc). If you find yourself attached to some material possessions, try to practice distancing yourself from them by giving them away. Donate things you find yourself most attached to either to those you know are in need or to a thrift shop, parish clothing drive, etc.

Prayer

Mysterious God, you call us to be your humble workers. To simplify our lives and remove those things that distract us from our brothers and sisters; that distract us from You. Help us amidst the struggles of bringing about your Kingdom, to trust in you. To trust in the love you have for us and console us with some direction when we ask “What then should we do?” Amen.


In a season often filled with consumerism and excess, how are you living simply? 


Sunday, December 6, 2015

Advent, A Season of Service: Focus on Social Justice

This is the second blog post of our Advent series. Every Sunday we will feature a reflection by one of our current or former volunteers. You can download the entire reflection guide here


Second Sunday of Advent


“The winding roads shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” 
Luke 3:1-6

Reflection by Paul Stage, Director of Campus Ministry at Saint Xavier University, and Former Christian Appalachian Project (CAP) Volunteer

“Why did they make that poor, unfortunate priest stumble his way through so many silly names in today’s reading? What does it matter whether Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene or playing Tetris with his sister Abbey? Let’s get to the good part of the story!”

Sometimes I find myself throwing accusations like the one above at the biblical writers. Accusations saying that the story would get along fine without telling us what the year was, or who was in charge, or where the particular location was, because it’s the happy ending and moral that I’m looking for. 

But it is in those exact moments of accusation that I most need to be reminded when and where these things happened, because we aren’t reading just another story today. We’re reading about John the Baptist, a particular man in a particular time, who laughed and ate and didn’t shower quite as often as his parents might have liked, just like me.


Because, like John the Baptist, I am a particular person in a particular time. And, like when “the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the desert” (3:2), the word of God comes to me regularly in small movements within my life to ask for great things. If “the winding roads shall be made straight” (3:5), I had better get started; there is a lot of crookedness in the world around me!

Focus on: Social Justice

John went to the desert to lead a simple life. He didn’t want to change the world at first; he was, after all, a religious hermit for most of his young adulthood. I find myself in John’s shoes a lot; not so much his diet of bugs and honey, but his desire to leave behind the troubles of the world. Sounds great, doesn’t it? To give up distractions? To focus solely on God? What better way is there than to retreat! How wonderful would it be, except that the fruit of retreats is so often the Word of God calling us to action? Not a big, booming command, but a simple daily whisper: “proclaim; prepare; repent; forgive.” Just like John the Baptist heard his call in the desert, we must likewise follow God’s message when we are called, even if we are in the midst of our own desert.

A Season of Service

We prepare for the holidays in many ways: by decorating with festive greens and reds; buying gifts for family; getting plane tickets home. Advent is a time of spiritual preparation for the coming of Christ as well - both a remembrance of his birth to a virgin, and a hopeful longing for his second coming in full glory and splendor. Have you spent as much time in spiritual preparation as you have in holiday preparation? Make the time this week and hear God’s particular calling to you: proclaim; prepare; repent; forgive.

Prayer

Lord, I am ordinary. Today is ordinary. This place is ordinary. It is on this ordinary day that you called me to do something extraordinary- to announce your coming and to make straight your path. Give me the words to share your presence in our midst. Give me the strength to make your way straight. St. Paul says that “it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill His good purpose” (Philippians 2:13). Give me the ears to hear your calling: “Proclaim. Prepare. Repent. Forgive.”


This Advent, how will you work for social justice?




Thursday, December 3, 2015

Solidarity and Simple Living

By  Rebekah Miller, Covenant House Faith Community Volunteer

Covenant House is the largest non-profit organization in the Americas that supports homeless youth. Faith Community is a program that offers a small stipend for spending  a year of service in one of four cities. We embrace three pillars: Service, Prayer, and Community. I am currently doing my year of service in Atlantic City, New Jersey. I am a Youth Advisor in the crisis shelter, meaning I am a resident advisor in the building and on the floors, and I do case management work with the youth.


How does your program support at-risk populations during the winter and holiday months? 
The first thing we do is meet immediate needs, through food, clothing, showers, and a bed. We allow former residents to come in and shower, grab a warm cup of tea, wash some laundry, and eat a warm meal. We take in new youth and returning youth sometimes for an emergency overnight or other times residential services.

Donors bring in zip lock bags full of toiletries, hats, gloves, clothing, anything new and essential to staying warm and clean. Covenant House International has also been doing a blanket drive to obtain blankets to give out for the winter months coming up. On November 19th there was a Candlelight Vigil and Sleep Out. Through the sharing of personal stories about the struggles of living on the streets, lighting candles in memoriam, and sleeping outside in the cold and the rain, people across the county raised money to keep Covenant House doors open.

For Thanksgiving, turkeys were cooked and prayers of thanksgiving said. This month, we will hold services for Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Christmas along side a variety of parties with lots of food and gifts from lots of donors. We try to keep the merriment going throughout the holiday season so we plan a full schedule with Santa, presents, staff vs youth football games, craft nights, and so much more! 

How do volunteers express solidarity? 
We are present. The best things that a person can do at a homeless youth shelter is show up. The second best thing is listen. During the holiday months especially, the youth just want to know that the
staff are sticking around for the long haul; that we are there to share in laughter, joy, and life together through the cold and dark days. Sharing a meal together and laughing over corny jokes before stepping into an office to hear them cry about the stress and worry back home goes a long way for someone who was not supported, loved, or cared for while growing up. Then on some days we show up in crazy costumes and dance to the cha cha slide and give out candy until they are bouncing off the walls. 

Faith Community volunteers are far away from home; I'm about 2,973 miles from my parents house, but who's counting? So just like the youth, I find myself feeling lonely and isolated from the warmth and care of home. Luckily I found a home and a family at the shelter. That is why I chose to work a 16 hour shift on Thanksgiving, not for the glory of being deemed a hard worker, but to have a place to go, a place to belong. All the youth want are to be seen and to find their place in the world. During the holidays we open our doors and hearts to say that their temporary home is Covenant House and we can share in the struggles and joys together. 

What have you learned through living simply?
We live simply in our house through buying things with lots of coupons and sales, bulk sections are one of my favorite things. We live with less “stuff”, we recycle, we share food and household items, we cut down on electricity use, and we walk a lot of places or try to utilize public transportation. Living simply is not just a way of living with less things though, it is a mindset. 

I have come to see that simple living is embracing the humble mindset that I am nothing without God. I find significance in the quality of moments over the quantity of stuff. God is in the simple and sweet moments of life. I often stop to remember the story of Elijah in 1 Kings 19:11-17. God was not in the fire, wind, or earthquake; rather He was in the still, soft, whisper. To me that means that God is in the small stuff like a kind smile, a high five, a shared meal, a brief conversation, or a silly dance. To live simply is to seek joy and follow passions through the daily routines and small things, remembering that God is ever present. When life gets chaotic or stressful, I take a walk on the boardwalk or I open my Bible, and I let the gentle whisper brush against my ears. 

For more information about becoming a member of the Covenant House Faith Community, please click here