The Circle of Us

We start by understanding that there is Truth.

We see our sin and realize God is our only hope.

We encounter him and find joy.

We find a small circle of others like us and settle into comfort.

We feel good about us.

We forget our sin and unworthiness;

We forget God wants us to wash feet,

Carry a cross,

Follow in his steps.

We feel good about us.

We see others’ sins, but not their wounds, their needs.

We look hard at their sins;

We forget our own.

Our little circle is snug.

We feel good about us.

Excerpted from Restoring the Shattered. Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Restoring the Shattered: Reviewed in The Altoona Mirror

I’m grateful to Linda Gracey for writing this gracious article about Restoring the Shattered. Republished from The Altoona Mirror–June 7, 2019~

Local Author Likens Life to Glass

In her book, “Restoring the Shattered,” Nancy E. Head of Altoona looks at several facets of life that are like broken glass, but can be restored to a beautiful and colorful stained glass window in God’s hands.

Her original goal in writing the book was to encourage Christian unity, but she also writes about broken pieces in her life as well as in society.

The subtitle, “Illustrating Christ’s Love Through the Church in One Accord,” reflects her original reason for writing the book.

Head, who is an instructor at Penn State Altoona and Great Commission Schools, said she wants to make the Christian Church aware of what it has in common, as opposed to allowing differences in traditions and doctrines to keep believers from accepting one another and working together.

When one of her five children converted to Catholicism, some of her evangelical friends had trouble understanding his decision, she said. They seemed to have misconceptions about the Catholic faith, she said, and she wanted them to understand that the Catholic beliefs were not that different from Protestant ones.

“So much division, separation, is based on misunderstandings,” she said.

In her book, Head provides background on the Protestant, Catholic and Eastern Orthodox faiths and examples of how they have worked in unity to spread the gospel. She gives examples of misconceptions and points out how spiritual leaders including Saint John Paul II (pope from 1978-2005), Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Charles Colson encouraged ecumenism.

She also covers legitimate areas where the faiths differ in doctrine and traditions, including concerning communion and baptism.

“Some of our disagreement over communion and baptism is authentic,” she writes in Chapter 10.

“But some is distortion, some is misunderstanding. Determining which is which can help to repair the broken window of our faith communities.”

Whether she is writing about the Christian faith, concerns for societal issues or her own personal life, Head compares the subject to glass in various states. Sometimes it is broken, sometimes it is shattered, sometimes it is scored for a certain purpose. Sometimes she points out how it reflects or transmits light.

Head said the Holy Spirit gave her the idea to use glass, especially stained glass, as a theme throughout the book, but she wasn’t sure how it was going to fit. She knew she was on to something, she said, when she read Ciara Curtin’s article in the Feb. 22, 2007, edition of Scientific American that defines glass as being neither a liquid or a solid, but a state between those two states of matter.

“It’s fluid and flexible,” Head said.

In addition to Christian unity, Head writes about poverty and other societal issues, such as homelessness, abortion and divorce and a need to understand people’s circumstances without being judgmental.

Having known poverty herself, she said, “A lot of people look down on you. You can’t perceive how you ever will become a taxpayer (as opposed to someone who benefits from others’ taxes). You accept the label people put on you.”

Head said, “The church applies labels, too,” adding that that is part of the problem. “The Church needs to look more kindly on people and realize that there but for the grace of God, go I. Instead of judging, we need to learn how to lift them up.”

She gave the example of approaching a homeless man in a church parking lot while others feared him.

“I gave him a gift card (to get a meal at a fast-food restaurant),” she said.

In her own life, it was a divorce in the 1980s that left Head financially challenged. She had to find work to support herself and five children.

In “Restoring the Shattered,” she talks about her struggles and how government programs can be a help and a hindrance. Although she received daycare assistance while she worked, she lost almost all of her subsidized childcare when she decided to attend college. She was able to pursue her goal to acquire a degree, to earn more and get out of poverty, because of Christians who were willing to take on childcare responsibilities.

“We are to encounter the world and meet needs,” she said.

Among those who have read the book are Cindy Updyke, the wife of a former pastor and formerly of Altoona.

Updyke, of North Carolina, said she read the book from the perspective of people who have been wounded and how the body of Christ as a whole has been wounded by suspicion and misconceptions.

“I love how she wove church history into the story … and compared the personal shattering in her life to how the Church was shattered,” she said.

Updyke said the book points out that “We are more effective in healing personal wounds and society’s wounds together rather than when we each stand in our own theological corners. We are more effective in ministering to those who are shattered,” she said.

Updyke said Head is an excellent writer and the history in the book is interesting and relative.

“It’s an easy read,” she said.

Peter A. Joudry, CEO of The Nehemiah Project, said, “Nancy Head is a personal storyteller, a church historian, … and a compassionate believer in the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

He said he read her book while ministering in South America earlier this year and became so excited about what he read that he called her from Bogota, Colombia, to congratulate her.

“She believes that our message is far too important to be hijacked by religious squabbles and personal biases,” he said. “She makes a compelling call to all Christians to unite toward the common objective to be Jesus to our troubled world.”

Local Author Likens Life to Glass by Linda Gracey, Altoona Mirror, June 7, 2019

Appalachia: Can the American Dream Return?

“Whatever talents I have, I almost squandered until a handful of loving people rescued me.” J.D. Vance
He has become the voice of an unheard America. A part of America that has lost the American Dream. The dream that, if you work hard, you can make a good life.
J.D. Vance grew up in Rust Belt, USA. His grandparents had migrated from Kentucky to Ohio–but never escaped their hillbilly roots–until Vance graduated from Yale Law School. Yet he doesn’t seek to disassociate himself from his forebears. He carries with him lessons they taught.
His journey to Yale is remarkable. But many of his peers remain in Appalachia living unremarkable lives. Their dreams are not remarkable. They have lost hope.
Many analysts blame the economic downturn for this lack of hope. But as with every sociological phenomenon, there are many factors.  Continue reading “Appalachia: Can the American Dream Return?”