Announcements

The Power of Presence

What if we started forgetting the power of presence?

What if I missed seeing team members hold up 5, during this morning’s staff meeting, because they know their role is a definite 5 (in a 1 to 5 pick)!!

Or I didn’t hug my laundry fairy and hear about her adventures because I stayed at my desk instead of jumping up and going to the back door to greet her?!

Or I didn’t take the phone calls with my friends Billy and Bill who both made me laugh?!!

Or I could have missed my Monday prayer call which would limit me seeing how God is going to move this week?!

Or I could have decided not to pray with Nats on the phone at just the right moment?!

Or not been willing to jump up and go to a girl’s bday party if more people were needed? Because everyone should feel loved all the time, but especially on their birthday!!

Or failed to listen to Maggie explain her upcoming soccer party – which is going to be so American while we unloaded the dishwasher!!

Or missed this opportunity to swing Miss A on a Saturday adventure at LFR?!

Even when we work from home, we have so much opportunity for presence. I caught a bunch, but I still missed a few… I could have ran out on the front porch and greeted my mail lady, or been more excited when Jason walked in with cookies and cream coffee creamer (my brain was focused on something else – but I am excited to try it!!), said a few more thank you’s to team members in the middle of suggesting solutions, or thrown a few more emojis in my text messages.

When I’m with you, I want to be all there, which means I’m not all there with my phone, my emails, or my house cleaning. I am intentionally allowing God to do His work in me so I absolutely pick people over processes, faith over “play it safe,” and big dreams over a mediocre life. If I cannot give you presence, why would you want me around?!!

Don’t Grow Up

Denver Waltman sent us this picture while he’s in London. No matter how old we are, don’t grow up! The facade of adulthood really is a trap. The more we act like adults the more self reliant we become and we forget the safety of being little children who depend upon our Father who cares for us.

God bring back our innocence, when we believed the good in people, trusted the person who gave us a bouquet of flowers at the park, got invited to play without an ulterior motive, and cheered with us when we got a home run in kickball.

God bring back the faith we had when we were little. Our prayers were innocent and purposeful. We believed He could do anything and He still can no matter how we’ve reasoned ourselves to think now. We talked to him about our math test, prayed for granddaddy to come rescue us when we were stuck harvesting in the garden, believed God would heal our cousin when he had a motorcycle accident, and said “Jesus” when we were scared of the dark.

God bring back our unbiased, non-judgmental selves. Remember going to the park and every kid was our friend no matter where they were from, what they looked like, or what crazy story they told us. We loved until we learned otherwise. (Someone taught us to make fun of the kid that smelled, or ate food different than us or had four eyes.)

God bring back our genuine love. Remember when we gave everyone in our class Valentine cards (even if we made them homemade), we spoke to the little old ladies at our church as we made eye contact, and we thanked our mama (or whoever did) for cooking dinner. We had manners, we got our mouths washed out with soap if we made bad choices, and we always had our siblings backs. We had sleepovers and traded BFF necklaces, caught fireflies in jars, and rode four wheelers (or bikes) until we were covered in mud… all because our friends wanted to do those things, maybe even more than we did.

God bring back our belief in who you made us to be. Before we knew we couldn’t, we believed we could. We had moments where we would try anything before someone or some experience convinced us otherwise. Before we got sucked into self-pity, self-focus, self-abuse, and lack of self-esteem, we believed You had made us for greatness (even if we didn’t yet know that was You.)

God bring back our humility where we weren’t afraid to ask for help, to ask questions, to *not* know the answer. Remember when we listened to stories as one being taught, enamored by those who had come before us, curious about all the unknown, delighting in the new experiences we were afforded.

God bring back our courage. We liked to try new things even if we found out we didn’t like them. Remember the first time we tasted asparagus and steak, felt sand or a sunburn, the ice cream slide off the cone, or our knees shook while we stood on bleachers for a choir performance, swung the first bat, or saw the first sky full of stars. Or the time canoeing, snow sledding, or driving a car. We liked the new and we called it adventure. We didn’t say no, before we ever tried.

God bring back our confidence. Remember when we thought we could sing and we belted out the words, when we took pictures of ourselves in the mirror because we thought we looked good, and we jumped on the merry-go-round and went as fast as we could go with all our friends (because we were all friends). We lived to the full because we didn’t worry about what people *might* be thinking about us, what our outfit looked like, or if our hair needed highlights.

Life like a little child was for the curious, with a big support net to catch us and people who believed in us (even if it was not the people we wanted it to be.) At least somewhere or around someone we felt safe, we giggled and daydreamed, twirled our skirts, and walked barefoot in the dirt. We had big hopes and we believed we could do anything (even if we didn’t yet know we would need God’s power and strength to do it.)

“Don’t grow up, it’s a trap.”

Take the lowly position and be like a little child. If we think like a child, we will depend on Christ, admitting we need help, and trusting Him to lead our paths. We won’t be afraid because we will remember we have the power of the Holy Spirit inside of us. We will actually believe what Jesus said… if we believe, we will do what He did and even greater things. We will believe God! And we will not be able to imagine what God has in store for us who love Him!!

“He (Jesus!) called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.” Matthew 18:2-5

Bench Moment

Don’t miss Jesus moments. They could happen at Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams or anywhere!!

We realized a lady left her wallet on the bench so my friend ran to catch her. Another guy asked if we were going to use the bench and I asked if I could grab a quick picture since my name was Jenny.

Then, lots of people started coming for ice cream, so I summed the stranger by calling out, “Friend.” I figured I would sit on the bench for a few minutes and get to know him.

In a few minutes, we knew what the other did, where we lived, how we both loved Jesus, and realized we knew the best man from his wedding.

A bench, eye contact, listening and five minutes.

I even asked him to pray for our son while he was in London and we shared a Jesus story or two.

He asked us how this moment was happening. He never comes to this area of town. We all knew it was a Jesus moment.

He’s actually a very high level attorney for the City of Atlanta and as I was walking away I realized God put him in a very influential position.

As I turned to leave, I turned back to him, looked him in the eye, and reminded him, “God has given you a place of influence, don’t forget or miss any of the opportunities.” *or some variation of that

When I got in the truck I realized, I just told a stranger not to waste his life. An influential stranger. A city leader. Because we sat on a bench, in the middle of a place neither of us frequent, and we became friends.

He’s not better than me. I’m not better than him. We are normal people who both like ice cream. Wherever you are reporting to work tomorrow, you have influence in that space. Don’t miss the reason God has you there. He has a bench moment waiting for you.

Live Out the Truth of God’s Word

As a mama, I had high hopes of my kids memorizing lots and lots of scripture. In the end, I don’t know how much they memorized, but I see the evidence of the Word in their lives. Maybe that’s what we really want to hope for as parents.

Instead of pushing knowledge, what if we gave our kids every day examples of how to live out the truth of God’s word in their daily lives.

Do the ways of Jesus infiltrate our lives in a way that is enthusiastically contagious?!

Are we calling a family Bible study around a table because it is what we think we need to do or are we talking about a verse and then trying to live it as a family?!

The first phrase of this verse I said to my kids almost every day they lived under our roof.

“Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.” – Philippians 2:14-16

Today, they don’t (hardly ever!) complain or fight because we practiced that mandate every single day. We called it out. We fought against those easy traps. We refused to let it snare us. God taught us to look for the good, to consider what was true, to always be FOR each other, to find joy no matter what hard hit us in the face, and to shine like stars.

Guess what one of Denver Waltman’s favorite verses is… “Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” – Nehemiah 8:10

You would never know, but as a kid he went through a sad season where he quit smiling and we had to take pictures of him to show him what he looked like. Jason Waltman encouraged him to memorize that verse and Amelia Grace Waltman read him scripture every night to help him go to sleep. We fought for joy when joy didn’t come easy because the joy of the Lord is our strength. May His joy sustain them and us until we dance through the gates. He is worthy of it all!

Letting Go of Control

Jason Waltman and I had no idea where life would take us when we got married in 1999.

In our early years, we traveled all the time, tried all the restaurants, and in general lived for ourselves despite saying we were followers of Jesus. We were more like church people and then “do what we want” people. Inconsistent really, without even realizing it. Chasing dreams because life was about us and nothing else. We worked to play.

When life tossed us a curve ball, we realized life is way more than how much money we have in the bank, what adventure we are chasing next, where we live, or who we know.

Risking everything to start a construction company and then a non-profit wasn’t what we were looking to do for a good time. We were learning God’s plan for our lives and not ours. I fought His plan, because it was hard, and who likes hard.

But slowly, God transformed me, exposing me to a life outside of myself, and I started to realize I had been trying to be in control when we are never in control.

When our kids were 4 and 5 we started living by faith in every aspect of our lives. It was hard. I knew God was faithful, but my body flipped out. I didn’t know how to “let go and let God.” People say that phrase all the time, but seriously… it is impossible without Him.

My anxiety was a beast. I couldn’t breathe for about 13-14 years. During that time I learned how to pray because you cannot worry and pray at the same time.

God wanted me to trust Him and I wanted to, but I still was your “what if” girl. My mind raced constantly figuring out solutions for every possible scenario which made me really tired.

The day the nation shut down on March 14, 2020, when the rest of the world panicked, God set me free. Idk?? Maybe my brain switched? We are not in control of anything and letting go of *trying* to control set me free.

Life still has a bunch of hard knocks, and my heart often feels like it is shattering into a million pieces. I cannot see what’s coming around the bend which can be terrifying, but I am fully confident God is around the bend as much as He is with me right now, so I can trust Him.

We do not have to figure out anything. We only need to get up and live today for Jesus. My yes for today is enough and if I’m blessed enough to have breathe in my lungs again tomorrow, I’ll get up and say yes again. Tonight one of our situations is empty shelves, fridges and freezers. We ran out of food today and we are going to go to sleep trusting He has a plan for tomorrow, because we don’t. And you know what, that’s ok. He’s bigger and more powerful than all my best plans. I can’t wait to see what happens!

A Bystander of Divorce

Maybe it isn’t a genius move to bring up this topic, but every time I take a few moments on social media, I find another untold story.

My heart breaks as the silence unfolds into a shattered narrative. I wonder what happened, not for the gossip, but because I don’t understand why this is the norm.

How does the affair start, or the slow fade, the lack of patience for one another, the silent addictions, the forbidden secrets, the codependency, the silent treatment or the enabling. Why?!

Being in my mid 40’s makes a 25 year span easy to see. And what I see doesn’t make sense. I remember the other couples who were around when we started as newlyweds.

Do the lack (or plenty) of vacations, pursuit of big dreams, social gatherings with no depth, overspending, workaholic tendencies, the fights over nothing, the exhaustion of raising kids, the hours at extracurricular events or the weeks no one sits together at a dining room table co-mingle into unexpected detriment and chaos.

Maybe people look at Jason and I and think, oh you wouldn’t understand, your life is all good, your kids are perfect, you have everything, when we’ve fought like hell to stay together, in the middle of grueling, challenging, and out-of-control circumstances.

Marriage is hard.

Hundreds of you have tried everything to stay together, to forgive, to go to counseling, but why are *we* still standing when so many of my friend’s marriages are gone.

I’m a bystander of your divorce.

I don’t even know what happened to you, but I have survivors guilt because if we all really put our stuff on the table, I think your hard and my hard would measure up.

Sure, the hard would look different, feel different and result in different, but we all wake up and fight for what we want or we give up. And if the other person won’t fight, where does that leave us?? We have the same choice every day and for some stupid reason selfishness, the lure of temptations, a pile of irritants, our wants, our lack, exhaustion, pain and our inability to communicate erodes us.

How the ‘wrong’ person’s yes led to successful community ministry

This article is sourced from the Alabama Baptist website. To view the original article, click here.

Sometimes the results of resting produce more than being productive.

Jenny Waltman, CEO/founder and director of the board of Grace Klein Community in Hoover, president of Grace Klein Construction and an author, learned this when she took six weeks out of her busy life to rest at a partner missions base in Africa. She spent the first three weeks “reading multiple books a day and hanging out with Jesus.”

Photo by Tracy Riggs/The Alabama Baptist
Her new book, “God Chose the Wrong Person: Surrendering to His Plan, Not Mine,” flowed from that rest.

“God gave the download, and I wrote the book in three weeks. It was amazing,” Waltman recalled. “My colleague, our director of development, was with me for a portion of the time, and she said it sounded like a symphony as the computer keys made ‘music.’

“As I prayed, each chapter would come to me. God does choose all the wrong people. If you read through the Bible, all the wrong people were chosen by God so He could make them the right people — so He would get the glory.”

Variety of roles

Waltman considers herself one of those “wrong people” for almost every role she’s had in life.

  • She became a fire claims adjuster, a job that required more physical strength than her size and stature suggested.
  • She never felt comfortable around kids but had two.
  • She became a bookkeeper when math was her worst subject.
  • She started a construction company, making her mark in a traditionally male-dominated field.

Then she saw a need to feed hungry people.

As that ministry grew, a friend suggested she file the paperwork to make it a nonprofit. She had no idea how to start or run a nonprofit.

But she knew God did.

In 2021 the ministry rescued more than 1 million pounds of food to provide 150,000-plus food boxes and 885,000-plus meals to the hungry. Grace Klein Community was included on the sustainability team for the World Games, held in Birmingham July 7–17.

“That wouldn’t have ever been on my radar,” Waltman admitted. “I would have said, ‘I couldn’t do that!’ But the ‘yes’ of obedience stacks and so you look back and turn around and realize, ‘Oh, that’s my life!’ All those yeses smushed together into something beautiful because I obeyed God.

“Sometimes if He showed us what was going to happen in 20 years, we would think that we couldn’t do it. But that’s the point. We can’t,” Waltman declared. “All God needs is today’s ‘Yes’ and He will do the rest.”

Encouraging others

“God Chose the Wrong Person” contains biblical principles and how Waltman strives to live them. Candid about her struggles and times she knew she was the “wrong person,” she writes about how God showed His glory through transforming her into the right person.

One of her main goals is to encourage others who feel inadequate.

“It’s okay to feel like the wrong person,” Waltman asserted. “It’s scary and dangerous if you feel like the right person because then you’re doing it in your strength and your capacity and what you can do.

“God’s capacity is so much bigger, so much grander, with so much more adventure — because we only see like a little tiny box of what we think we can accomplish in our finite selves. But He’s infinite, and He can use us to do things we would never believe we could do until we courageously say ‘yes.’”

Conduit for help

By choosing the “wrong person,” God has taken food that would have been thrown away to feed hungry people. He also has taken rescued flowers and fruit to give to those who need encouragement or as an outreach for volunteers to love their neighbors.

He also created an organization that serves as a “conduit,” Waltman said, by helping those with excess to connect with needs, those with specific gifts and talents connect with services, and a means for those who want to feed the hungry.

“Love does. It acts,” she declared. “At Grace Klein Community we see diverse people working together and living an ‘others first’ lifestyle. When hundreds spend their free time rescuing food through FeedBHM, our food rescue initiative, or building food boxes and praying with every person who comes through our drive thru locations, there is no way to not feel love.”

Waltman said writing “God Chose the Wrong Person” wasn’t simply to encourage others — she also has learned from it.

“I am in over my head and way past my own strength or capacity,” she acknowledged. “Every day before I get out of bed, I pray and beg God to give me His strength as I’m an introvert in a world full of people. It’s not about me.

“I’m so thankful that He would allow me to write that book and to hopefully encourage one person or a hundred to find the craziness, the beauty and the ‘hurts so good’ of saying ‘Yes’ to Jesus.”

Meet the Woman Who’s Feeding Birmingham

This article is sourced from the Style Blueprint website. To view the original article, click here.

by JAVACIA HARRIS BOWSER

Since 2009, Jenny Waltman has been on a mission to feed Birmingham. Through the faith-based, non-profit organization, Grace Klein Community, Jenny and her team offer food for the belly and the soul. With the help of partners and volunteers, Grace Klein Community delivers food boxes to families in need. The organization helps provide food at shelters and to other groups supporting those who experience food insecurity.

Through its food rescue program, FeedBHM, Grace Klein Community takes fresh food that restaurants, grocery stores, or catering services would throw away and gives the food to families who need it.

Grace Klein Community feeds more than 44,000 Alabamians each month, which merely scratches the surface of the work Jenny’s organization does. Grace Klein Community has global partnerships, too, such as the group’s work with Kwathu Children’s Home in Livingstone, Zambia. Grace Klein helped teach a group of women in Zambia how to sew purses that they then sold to help support their families and a local school. We are honored to introduce our newest FACE of Birmingham, Jenny Waltman, founder of Grace Klein Community.

Meet our newest FACE of Birmingham, Jenny Waltman. She’s the founder and CEO of Grace Klein Community, an organization working to end food insecurity in Birmingham and beyond.

What inspired you to start Grace Klein Community?

In [The Book of] James, it says if you know the good you ought to do but don’t do it, then it’s a sin from you. We saw the need in our city and knew we had the sin omission. We were doing nothing about it. We prayed and asked God how to help the food insecure in our community. God gave us the idea to create food boxes, and then families in Birmingham could deliver them to people who were hungry around the community.

How does your organization seek to cultivate community?

Before COVID, we delivered food boxes to families all over the city who did not have transportation or were working multiple jobs and couldn’t get to us. Each family that delivered was assigned four to five families. Typically, they connected with at least one or two of the families in a deep, meaningful way — more than just “Here’s your food box.”

People were helping with tutoring, going out to dinner together, meeting at the park to play chess, studying the Bible together … They were becoming friends. Grace Klein Community has always been an amazing way for people to build relationships with each other, and food is just how we’re able to do it.

“Everyone should know what it feels like to hold boxes of good food in your lap, which we usurped from a trip to the landfill, to put on the plates of the food insecure in our community,” Jenny says. If you want to be a food rescue hero, sign up to volunteer with Grace Klein Community’s FeedBHM initiative at app.feedbhm.org.

Tell us more about Feed BHM.

After doing the food boxes, we realized that food was being thrown away — good food — at different locations around the city. So in 2013, we started our food rescue program. It is now called FeedBHM. We’re finding good food from produce companies, grocery stores, restaurants, and catered events. [The food is] still good — in the past, it was going to the landfill. Now, instead of filling landfills, we can fill plates.

Our app allows volunteers to help us retrieve all of this good food seven days a week, and the food rescue is handled 100 percent by volunteers. We have a small staff — maybe 14 people. Yet, because people are working together, we’re feeding over 44,000 people in a month.

Last year, we provided food to food insecure families in 40 of the 67 Alabama counties. That’s thanks to our food distribution partners who come and receive food from us.

What’s the meaning of the name Grace Klein?

Grace Klein means “little gift from God.” When you receive a food box with cucumbers, apples, fresh organic meat, bread, and a dairy product, that’s a little gift from God. But the big gift is Jesus, and we would love for people to realize Jesus never leaves you. He’s going to be there when the food is gone.

Grace Klein Community was the first organization honored on the field at Protective Stadium at the first UAB Blazers home game. Jenny was joined on the field by DonDee Osburn, Director of Operations for Grace Klein Community, and Natalie Spronk, Director of Development.

Tell us about the book you wrote.

It’s called God Chose the Wrong Person. I think a lot of us have felt like, God, you chose the wrong person. I’m not the right person for this task. That’s definitely how I felt about Grace Klein Community. I’m just this normal person. Why would You choose me to run this organization? I’m in over my head. Every morning I’m like, OK, God, you’ve got to do it because I can’t do this.

God’s been showing me — and it’s a universal message for all of us — that we can all feel like the wrong person. God chooses the “wrong” people because He wants to make us the right people.

That’s what the book is about. It’s helping people see that if you feel like you’re the wrong person, let God transform you because He’s making you the right person. He’s picked you. He’s chosen you from exactly where you are, and He has such a great plan for your life.

What do you like to do for fun when you’re not working?

I love to read and learn new things. I enjoy being outdoors, spending time at the lake or hiking with friends, and enjoying God’s creation.

My husband Jason and I love to have adventures, and we love Birmingham. There are so many free date nights in Birmingham. It’s so fun to tell people, “You can go to this art gallery for a night out, or you can go to this park for a festival.” Go to Botanical Gardens or Aldridge Gardens. We love to find all of the hidden secrets of Birmingham. Then we are able to give people ideas.

Just because you don’t have financial resources doesn’t mean there aren’t amazing adventures that await you in our city.

In 2021, Jenny and her husband Jason received the Learning for Life award from Samford University, which honors graduates of the school who exemplify leadership in their communities. Image: Samford University
“Our children, Amelia Grace and Denver, graduated high school in May 2022. We went to serve with Kwathu Children’s Home in Livingstone, Zambia, as their senior trip,” Jenny says. “They have grown up with the children who live in the home and consider them some of their best friends in the world.” Kwathu Children’s Home is one of Grace Klein Community’s global partners.

What are some of your favorite books?

Safely Home by Randy Alcorn. It’s fiction, and I usually don’t recommend fiction, but I think everyone should read it. It just is an awakening of “Do we really live what we say we value?”

Ian Cron’s Chasing Francis. It’s a great example of how what we do every day is what makes us shine. It’s not about whether or not we’re heroes. What some people consider the mundane is actually the most beautiful. It’s the little everyday moments of our lives that change the world.

What’s the best advice you have to offer?

Stay behind Jesus and let him receive the glory for your life. He’s got such a big, incredible plan for each of our lives; we can’t even fathom it. We don’t even think that big. So, if we can stay behind him, he will take us to places and adventures we would never have dreamed of.

He’s showing me a concept called “the compounding yes.” If we say “yes” to what he asks us to do today, then that “yes” builds on the next “yes” and the next “yes,” and when we look back, all of those yeses have accumulated to what we get to call our amazing life.

Other than faith, family, and friends, name three things you can’t live without.

Coffee, a good book, and a cozy blanket.

Thank you, Jenny!

Chelsea Council approves proclamations, hears about food ministry

This article is sourced from the Shelby County Reporter website. To view the original article, click here.

By NOAH WORTHAM | Staff Writer

CHELSEA –The Chelsea City Council approved a proclamation designating July 17 as Mark Lindsay III Day and heard from a representative of Grace Klein Community in Chelsea on Tuesday, Aug. 2.

Lindsay was a longtime resident of Chelsea, an active member of St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church and he served the city on the planning commission for more than a decade.

“Mark will always be remembered for his selflessness, his sense of humor, his kindness and compassionate nature that inspired and uplifted those around him,” Mayor Tony Picklesimer said, “The city of Chelsea is grateful to Mark for generously committing his time via decades of service to the city planning commission.”

The council approved a second proclamation declaring the month of September to be Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month.

“Gynecological cancers are among the leading cancer killers of women in the United States,” Picklesimer said. “We encourage all citizens to work together to raise awareness of these cancers.”

Chelsea City Hall will be illuminated with teal lights for the month of September in honor of Gynecologic Awareness Month.

During the community forum, Lisa Ripp, representing the Grace Klein Community, addressed the council with a detailed explanation of their services to the greater Birmingham community.

“We feed over 10, 000 people a week (in) Birmingham, Shelby County, and 40 surrounding counties,” said Ripp.

The Grace Klein Community is a faith-based food rescue and food distribution ministry.

According to Ripp, 40 percent of the food that’s manufactured is thrown away while it is still good.

“Last year we saved over 1.6 million pounds of food, which was worth over $2 million,” she said.

Grace Klein Community was founded in 2009 by Jenny and Jason Waltman.

“We would like for you guys to get volunteers out and businesses to come and be serve teams,” Ripp said.

The City Council also approved to accept the lowest bid for the ABC warehouse site project and to authorize a lease agreement for a copier at the Chelsea Historical Museum.