Thursday, January 6, 2011

Happy New Year! First LAMA meeting of the year: January 11th

Hi Friends -

Our first meeting of the year will be held at the United Methodist Church of the Pines.

Hope to see you all there on Tuesday January 11th at noon.

Looking forward to good food, good friends and good news.

Click here for a map to the Church:

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Rhinelander Homeless Shelter

Rhinelander Homeless Shelter Almost Complete

As of Dec 29, 2010, volunteers are finishing renovations at Frederick Place, the first homeless shelter in the Rhinelander area.

It's an idea a group in Rhinelander has been building up for two years. In just a few weeks, construction will be complete and a new homeless shelter will be set to open.

The Northwoods Alliance for Temporary Housing is putting the finishing touches on Frederick Place, the first homeless shelter in the Rhinelander area. Volunteers are busy putting the finishing touches on the home, set to open the first week in February.

"It's good to see a lot of people helping out, every day you come in you see a new face and then you got more people coming in through the door asking what they can do to help," said Aaron Liebherr, a volunteer painter.

Unlike more urban communities, Rhinelander residents say they don't see many homeless living on their streets. Instead it's a hidden problem. With no shelter in the area, people in transition, may have no have had a place to go.

"They're probably crashed on peoples couches, they may still be living in their cars even though it's cold," said Tammy Modic, the shelter's executive director. "There are people who have had to leave Rhinelander and go to Wausau to a homeless shelter ."

The house was originally a mansion built in the 1800s. In just a few weeks it will house up to 16 people. But for now, volunteers are busy getting it ready.

"Retired doctors, clergy, a lot of different builders are donating their time," said Volunteer Coordinator Kevin Eggers. "It's a busy place, so it's good to see it all together."

The group says it still need donations to pay for expenses and some of the remaining finishes. Its also hoping people will give more than just money.

"Food, bedding, pillows, to keep us going and to have people feeling this is a place of home we are going to need volunteers here after," said Modic.

Staff say the shelter is meant to shelter those living in Oneida, Vilas, Langlade, Forest, and northern Lincoln counties.

Watch a clip about homelessness in Wisconsin here

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Faith and Values column from NUUF

A Unitarian Universalist Perspective on New Year's Resolutions

It's that time of year again. A time for rituals, big hopes and the inevitable disappointments. No, I don’t mean your Super Bowl party; I'm referring to the annual rite of making New Year's resolutions. I'm going to lose that 10 pounds--again; I'm going to finally learn Italian; I'm going to take up calligraphy. Right....Maybe I need to look for inspiration elsewhere.

As a Unitarian Universalist, whose life is guided by our seven principles, I've decided to look to those beliefs for meaningful resolutions I can live by. Since my home is northern Wisconsin, the land of woods, water and wildlife, for me, the most natural place to begin is with the seventh UU principle: the belief in caring for our planet earth, the home we share with all living things. I've done some soul searching. I've asked myself some tough questions and haven't always liked the answers. Here is my big question: Am I doing all I reasonably can to tend to this beautiful earth?

Am I wasting food? Every time I order more French fries than I can eat, I contribute to greenhouse gases and climate change. Studies suggest that almost one-third of this country's oils, fats, grains and dairy products end up in the garbage. I need to think about how much food I order, purchase and, especially, consume. How much to I really need? Wouldn't those leftovers make a good lunch to reheat instead of fast food? Wait, maybe this could help with those 10 pounds.

When we moved here, I was confronted with how much garbage I create. I couldn't just put it out at the curb anymore and it would miraculously disappear into the landfill. So, now, I ask myself whether I am recycling and composting all that I reasonably can. It's amazing the products that are being manufactured from recycled materials. If I have a choice, I've started to try some of those, such as toilet paper, tissues and paper towels, made from recycled paper. When I use them, I know I'm saving a few trees. That's not much, I know, but if you join me, we could save a few acres this year. And that compost I've made will be great for next summer's flowers.

Can I combine errands so I can cut out even one trip to town each week? Am I keeping my tires properly inflated? When did I last change my oil? Can I bike or walk to some of my destinations? Hmm, this might help with those 10 pounds as well. We can't readily get away completely from automobiles and oil usage, but we can try to limit it. And at $3.00 or more a gallon for gas, saving even one gallon a week seems like a good idea.

Another principle Unitarian Universalists have is the free and responsible search for truth and meaning: each person must be free to search for what is true and right in life.

So that got me thinking about how we celebrate Christmas. At least a decade ago, I started to ask myself: Did I really find truth and meaning this Christmas? Or was I just exhausted again during the holiday season? Did I have time to think about why the season is important to me? Or was I just worried that my credit cards were hurting again? Was there a way to cut back on gift giving, but still have a meaningful celebration? If you're feeling the same way, NOW, this time of year, when your family is likely feeling the same way, is the time to talk about alternatives. Daunting as this sounds, they will likely welcome the discussion. I know ours did. Here are some ideas your family might like: draw names so you only are buying for one person, or no gifts for adults. Our family decided to make a donation to the charity of each other’s choice. What a wonderful experience this has been! I’ve learned something about what my relatives hold most dear as well as about some great organizations I had never heard of before. And, now, I have a bit more time to really think about the meaning of the season.

The last Unitarian Universalist principle I've been thinking about is that we affirm the inherent worth and dignity of every person.

With that in mind, is it time for me to reconnect with a friend or relative? Is there someone I need to reconcile with? Do I need to apologize to someone? This can be very tough and I know I may be ignored or rebuffed. But at least the person will know I still care. And that might be enough to start a change in his or her heart. A phone call or a visit may be too hard. And I think email seems a bit too impersonal. So, what to do? Maybe I can find a really interesting one-of-a-kind blank card, something that will "speak" to my loved one. Then I could add a note, something like, "I just wanted to let you know I've been thinking about you and that I still care for you very much." Or "I'm sorry that I hurt you so much that we've been drawn apart. I still care for you and hope there's a way we can reconnect." This takes courage. But my loved ones and I will both be better for my having reached out.

If I can make just one of these New Year's resolutions truly my own, my small corner of the world will be a better place. Will you join me?

Elinore Sommerfeld

President, Northwoods Unitarian Universalist Fellowship

Monday, January 3, 2011

Faith and Values column from Eaglebrook Church: Everyone matters and deserves a family.

A perspective on… Faith, Orphans & Adoption

How many steak lovers are there out there?

There’s just nothing better than firing up the grill, throwing on a couple of juicy steaks, pairing it with your favorite Cab, and enjoying a nice dinner.

It’s even more fun to watch your kids enjoy your “cooking skills,” savoring the flavor, and asking for more. A few nights ago, my wife and I served up a dish called “Steak Tuscan” – and the kids were eating it up quicker than we were.
However, during our meal, my wife and I had an epiphany… one of those ‘a-ha’ moments. Our youngest child, who we adopted from China, would probably never have tasted steak had she not been adopted. She was lucky to get a few portions of rice mixed with some protein powder while she was in the orphanage.

As she ran around the table and asked, “more steak please,” we just paused and gave her a big, tearful hug. I’m sure she didn’t know what that was all about, but she politely hugged us, and went back to enjoy the flavors of Tuscany.

We then began to recount all of the things that both she and her older adopted sister have enjoyed recently… ballet and jazz dance classes, a ton of friends… not to mention three meals a day, medical care, plenty of clothes, opportunity for an education, and a roof over their heads.

Adoption changes the world… it changes it one life at a time.

It changes not only the lives of those adopted… it changes the lives of the families they come into.

You may not know this, but Sunday, November 7th is considered to be “National Orphan Day” and the month of November as a whole is “National Adoption Month.”

The United Nations has reported that the number of orphans needing help around the world now sits at 140 million.

That global crisis is felt here in the United States as well, as over 120,000 children wait to be adopted out of the foster care system and into healthy families.

That’s not the way God envisioned His creation.

There were no orphans in the Garden of Eden.

However, once mankind took the plunge of rebellion, the perfection of Eden was lost. One result… the lack of love for humanity to care for one another the way God originally designed us to live.

It did not take long for God to address this. As part of the “Torah” or “Law” that God gave to His people, there were provisions to care for those who were most vulnerable in a broken society – widows and orphans.

People ask all the time, “Why doesn’t God do something about all of the problems humans face? Why doesn’t God step in and help the orphans in this world?”

Well, throughout the scriptures we find that God has done something… He has given a response… and that response… is us.

We are the means that God wants to use to take care of the broken pieces of our society. We are the means that God wants to use to love those who are cast away and forgotten.

According to scripture… to love an orphan, to care for them, is to literally fulfill part of God’s plan, His mission, and His design for humanity in this broken world.

Some… like Jani and I… have chosen to adopt. But that’s not the only choice.

Others… may choose to support those who adopt (as finances can often be the greatest fear or obstacle to adopting). Beyond that, people may choose to support organizations that minister to orphans, or they may volunteer at an orphanage, or simply pray for those who do foster care – we all know they need it! There are a variety of other ways to be God’s hand of love into the lives of these children.

Regardless of where you are on that spectrum, let me give you some helpful websites and organizations which will help you in your journey. Here are three I highly recommend…

• “Show Hope” -

• Cry of the Orphan -

• Hope for Orphans -

My personal favorite is “Show Hope,” which was created by Christian music artist, Steven Curtis Chapman and his wife Mary Beth. They adopted three beautiful girls from China, and created an organization to assist others who wanted to adopt by providing scholarships and helpful information along the way.

Jani & I received a scholarship from them a few years back to help us with our own international adoption. Through that connection, we now give to “Show Hope” each month to help others experience the joy of what we’ve experienced.

You see, for a follower of Jesus, life is not about “going-to-church” on a Sunday morning, getting “fed” (often times, just getting “fat”), and checking a religious thing off our list. A follower of Jesus is someone who desires to be God’s presence in this broken world… extending His kingdom into the hurting places in our society.

And one of those places is in the world of the orphan. That’s faith and values… integrated and lived out in this very real world.

Who knows, maybe some of you may feel lead to pursue adoption, to take a leap of faith, to do the seemingly impossible…

… and in just a few years you may have a little one running around the table, asking, “more steak please.”

~ Pastor Steve, Eaglebrook Church.