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October 18, 2022

Updated: Oct 26, 2022

Dear friends,

A little known fact about me is that I am VERY into pumpkin carving. It all started when I was a youth minister at Glenn Memorial United Methodist Church, and our youth group had a pumpkin patch fundraiser. This pumpkin patch raised all of our funds for a mission trip we took with the youth every year, it was a big deal. With the pumpkin patch, you have to coordinate volunteers for every shift that the pumpkin patch was open. As you can imagine, there were plenty of spots left open, so I would end up covering shifts, and spending hours upon hours sitting in the pumpkin patch.

I know it’s hard to remember, but this was pre-iPhone, so I had to come up with ways to entertain myself during those long hours (a subject for another weekly email for sure.) I decided to entertain myself by carving pumpkins.

This led to me having a lot of fun and then inviting friends over to carve pumpkins, to us having an annual party we called “Thrashtoberfest” where everyone brought their pumpkins to our house to carve.

It is just something I got really into, and it is a tradition every year now for us to go pick out our special pumpkins and spend an entire afternoon carving together. Never in a million years did I imagine that this interest would take me anywhere, but on October 27th, I have been invited to live carve at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens for their contest! I am really excited. I had to apply, submit my previous work, and go through an interview process to be selected. It should be a very fun night, but I am nervous! I’ve always done something for the enjoyment of it, but when you add in a high-stakes contest, that is when I feel the butterflies in my stomach.

When we begin to compare ourselves to others, I think, is when we lose an element of joy. When we begin to be paid for something we love, it amps up the pressure and we lose sight of what is important. I think about this in the church all the time. When we begin to lose our joy in church, is it because we are comparing ourselves to others? I think there is an element of that, and so I try always to keep things in perspective. When I am with someone going through a pastoral care event with them, I try to stay as present as possible. When making plans at the church, I try to do what is in front of me, and not worry about what others are doing. So, this is the attitude I am taking with me into the contest. Carve a pumpkin out of joy and love, and the rest will take care of itself. It's good advice for following Jesus, too.



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