Category Archives: My Faith

The Windows of Life

Standard
The Windows of Life

There are six windows in my church. Six stained glass windows, each with a different story. Today’s story caught me by surprise, mostly because it related so well to the post I made earlier in the week.

1 Kings 17:2-16 New International Version (NIV)

Elijah Fed by Ravens

Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah: “Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan. You will drink from the brook, and I have directed the ravens to supply you with food there.”

So he did what the Lord had told him. He went to the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan, and stayed there. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.

This exact text borrowed from biblegateway.com

The above scripture was from our first reading in church today. While I didn’t really get the point of it at first, my pastor put it together for me in a pretty neat package that makes a lot of sense to me now.

Prior to this reading, we had learned the Elijah was a man scared and in danger. The most powerful man in the land was after him in order to kill him. Elijah had a lot of anxiety and was afraid that he would be found and killed. When the Lord spoke to Elijah, it was his way of showing the man a route to safety. Though Elijah was still fearful, he followed the Lord’s will and ended up living through the help of the ravens.

The moral of the story, at least according to my pastor from his perspective, is that you need to lift your anxiety and worry to the Lord and let Him take care of you in times of need. There will always be worry and anxiety in the world, but we believe that we can overcome this fear and worry through our prayers and belief in the Lord.

I found this really interesting, especially since I have been struggling with my anxiety lately. I know that every year around this time, my stress increases and my worry starts to worsen. Yet I also know that I will get out of this little rut that my mind puts me in. There is light at the end of that tunnel.

I’m now wondering how strong my faith truly is. I feel like today’s lessons have pointed to the fact that maybe I am even stronger in my beliefs than I ever thought before. Maybe I use my faith and trust in God to get past the worse parts of my life. Though I complain about them and struggle with them like every other human, I do always seem to know in the back of my head that everything will be okay.

Or maybe I’m overthinking all of this, but I’d like to believe that today’s message was given to make a point to me. I often feel like the sermons connect so well with what’s going on with my life. After all these years, I have trouble believing that they are all coincidence.

~B

P.S. Super excited that I might be able to go and help my church members with our Habitat for Humanity house again next weekend. My husband and I originally helped build the porch and put the roof tiles on. They are now looking for help with the interior, like painting. I’m definitely going to take pictures and update my blog about this endeavor soon! I’ve never realized before this year how good volunteering really feels!

Advertisements

This Funk that has Me

Standard
This Funk that has Me

Oh Lord guide us. Show us Thy Will and Way in everything.

This is the quote that comes along with the devotional I read for yesterday. Though it’s a day old now, I feel like it’s no less important to me at this moment. It seems like every year around this time I go through the same stages. There’s excitement that I get my student rosters and get to go back to being a bit more social than I am during the summer. Then there’s the anxiety and nerves; what am I forgetting to do? What if this group of kids is practically uncontrollable? What if, like so many jobs before this one, something goes wrong and I cannot bare to work under the current circumstances and need to make drastic life changes again? What did I do with my whole summer and why did I waste so much time? This list goes on and on…

I don’t think I’d be struggling so much with this right now, except a few things are colliding together this year. First, there’s the normal end-of-summer emotions (see above). Then there’s this horrid drenching downpour that has not ended in the past five days. Even when it’s not raining around here, the clouds and sky are so dreary that it just puts you in a mood. I have an older cousin who has to use a special lamp to give himself a certain amount of sun each day. Sometimes I feel like I have this same issue (sorry, I don’t remember what it’s called) because the lack of sun after a day or two is so depressing to me that I just get into a funk. Right now I’m in a big funk. Finally, there’s the fact that I did a lot of physical work and tasks this weekend and slept horribly. We all know how humans are on barely any sleep; if you aren’t sure, let me just say that I am the worst person in the world to console or talk to or try to get to accomplish anything when I am tired. My anxiety lashes out and I’m just useless.

I am in a major funk.

adult alone anxious black and white

Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

Sometimes I feel like I am overreacting to everything around me. Take the other night for example. My husband and I were making dinner. Normally we cannot be in the kitchen together at the same time because we each have our own method of madness and they clash horribly. However, he was making something on the stove and asked if I’d mix up some chicken salad. I said sure, an easy enough task right? Once I had it mixed up, I covered it and put it on the counter to wait a few more minutes until he was done with the cooking portion of the meal. As I’m sitting in my living room, I hear a spoon clacking against the glass bowl I had used to put the salad into. I called to him and asked if anything was wrong. He simply said, “The salad is too chunky.” Any normal person would probably be responding with a simply “oh okay” or an “I’m sorry”, but I’m no normal person. I am the person with anxiety who is currently in a major funk. What seems like the easiest task in the world has now been done incorrectly (by me) and I am not too happy about it. So I take a deep breath and let it pass.

The week has been going like this, including its fair share of stupid, silly examples of things that are irking me. While it seems like many of them revolve around my husband, I can assuredly say that he is not the main problem in any of these circumstances. It’s more like… the husband or the dog or the other dog… the other day I was upset at my phone because the battery ran dead too fast for my liking. It’s quite ridiculous. I see now that the problem is more than likely just me.

So I try to step back. I try to remember that years of dealing with my anxiety has led me to a point where I have plenty of strategies to combat this horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach. I know the triggers (or at least most of them) and I can do a pretty good job of either avoiding them or meeting them head on. Right now, I’m just trying to step back.

Yet sooner or later everything just gets to be too much. It’s nearing the end of July and school mode is here. Then there’s the tiredness and the anxiety. Then there’s the simple every day communication that sometimes just doesn’t go as planned (again, see above). Sometimes it just feels like I’m not where I’m supposed to be in life and that I’m not doing something that I should be accomplishing. Now I’m not talking about chores or tasks, I’m talking more about the thing that is missing in my life that would help me to get rid of this funk. I’m not naive, and I know my anxiety will never be cured. We’ve been there and done that with those thoughts. It’s not happening. I feel like I’ve mostly come to terms with that, but right now it just feels like there’s this big black shadow lingering that I need to try to get rid of. This funk.

So I found myself trying to get some exercise today (strategy #1) and that didn’t work because the weather was still sucky and now I was outside in it. Plus the dogs were begging to go along, so I took them… Zoey doesn’t always like to walk on a leash like a proper girl, so that wasn’t much fun. Strategy #2 was to just buck it up and get the stuff done. So I took a list of the things that were bugging me and I just started knocking them out. Though now I feel more tired than I was before and no more happy to know that those tasks ended up leading to more tasks (go figure). Strategy #3 is to talk it out, but sometimes it’s impossible to just tell someone else how you are feeling and have them comprehend it like you feel you need them to. So we went, we tried, we lost that one…

Welcome to Strategy #4, where I read and I write and I try to stay away from anything and everything that will make me more tired or more upset. Let’s face it, a piece of paper and pen or this blog is not able to talk back. So unless my brain conjures an issue, this time should remain fairly peaceful.

~~A pause here to encourage anyone struggling with anxiety to try some of these strategies!!!~~

Which is how I ended up reading today’s devotional and reviewing yesterday’s. Though today doesn’t come with a direct scripture or any special quote, I still find yesterday’s pretty significant. Oh Lord, guide us. Show us Thy Will and Way in everything. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that this is a thing. I’ve been a Christian for a very long time, but sometimes it is so difficult to remember that God is really in control here. While my body might feel like crap and my mind might seem to be in an even worse place, I need to try to remember this. That God has a Will and a Way. That He is trying to do what is going to be right for my life in the end. He knows for sure that I’ve been here and gone through similar before. He also knows that even in times of these difficulties, I always end up finding the light at the end of the tunnel. The only real problem here is that I hate being in the tunnel and just waiting for the light to come around. I can’t stand it that I have no control over certain things, and even my mind likes to take its own little field trips to anxiety land sometimes. (I also hate how this might be making me sound crazy, but what am I going to do? I need to be honest here or this post is not going to make me feel any better.)

God has a Will and a Way. I need to remember this.

Also in the devotional book God Calling by A.J. Russell is today’s little blurb:

I am your Lord. Lord of your lives. Controller of your days, your present and your future. Leave all plans to Me. Only act as I bid you.

You have entered now, both of you, upon the God-guided life. Think what that means. God-taught, God-guided.

Is anything too wonderful for such a life? Do you begin to see how wonderful life with Me can be?

Do you see that no evil can befall you?

Let’s just say that as much as I want to believe no evil is in my life right now, I’m having a hard time seeing it. I’m having a hard time feeling as though the sadness and destruction in not only my life but our world right now is not somehow evil.

shallow photography of usa flag

Photo by Sawyer Sutton on Pexels.com

Yet I do recall times when I felt like this before. I remember feeling like there was no hope for us or our lives would be changed for the worse forever when the war against Iraq started after 9/11. I remember thinking that it would be like World War II all over again. While it hasn’t been some fun happy thing, I can at least say that I watched as God guided us through some of those terrible war times without having it result in quite as much evil as my mind had originally concocted.

I recall being engaged to a man that I was not meant for and trying so hard to please and to fit in when I wasn’t supposed to… though I didn’t know it until the whole thing was over, I was led to a better place in my life. To realize the horrible mistakes I could have made or the realizations that I may never have… I have to believe that God had His Way with that one.

I think I’m getting it now; I’m getting to a place of peace and to a place of realization. That even though I may still be in this funk later, I am okay with it for right now. I am just going to put everything to God and do some praying and just hope that the funk goes away soon. Even if it’s only here for one simple reason, I am going to try to believe that it is here for a very important but small reason. While I may never see directly what that reason is or understand why this time in my life had to happen, I’m going to try my hardest to just let it be. To not fight it, to not anguish over it, and to try not to really make it any worse with my anxiety.

To anyone who is still reading up to this point, I thank you so much for listening to my rambling. I’m sorry this post was more for my benefit than anyone else’s. If you did read this far though, know that it means the world to me that someone was willing to try to put themselves in my shoes for a few minutes here. Like I said, it’s not always the anxiety that is all the trouble in my life, sometimes it’s just trying to get someone else to understand those feelings.

So here’s to getting out of that funk and to hoping none of you are currently in one. If you are, feel free to reach out because I’m sure that if I can’t help you with your own problems, we can just be together. In our funk. But never alone.

~B

The Avenues of Faith

Standard
brown wooden bridge near forest during golden hour

Photo by Georgiana Mirela on Pexels.com

(Note: I am not going to type up a bibliography for this post, though I have referenced many books and songs here. Just know that they are protected under copyright law by their creators and I have no rights to any of these resources. I am only suggesting them as a user/listener myself. If you have any questions about how you can use these resources, please contact the publisher, author, or artist!)

I’ve been getting kind of curious about how everyone else views their Faith and how they bring it into their lives in different ways. I know plenty of people who believe in some form of a God, though it might not be exactly through the same religion. Yet each of these people, regardless of their specific beliefs, come together to prove to me just how strong we all are as faithful people. My friends have numerous jobs in life from teaching to construction work and everything in between. They share their Faith through random acts of kindness, volunteer opportunities, working at their church, and praying for those in need. Some of them like to bake or sew, and they use these types of talents to bring things to the needy. 

I feel like we don’t just do these good deeds to help us feel closer to our God, but I also feel that we attend events and participate in groups to help bring us closer to those who share our same beliefs. So my question is, what makes you feel closer to your God? 

Here’s the top of my list:

  1. Attending Church
  2. Music
  3. Reading
  4. Sports

I haven’t listed these in any specific order, but there are some that I hold closer to my heart for personal reasons. I am also noticing as I view my list that some of these items have no direct connection to church or faith or God, so let me be a bit more specific.

Attending Church is the easiest topic to discuss (which is actually why it is listed first). It’s the one that everyone takes for granted and assumes to be the best way to connect to God. Yet I haven’t always found it as useful as it seems to be in my life now. My attendance has actually allowed me to see others worshiping in different ways. We have Liturgy days at work (Mass for Catholics) and I attend Sunday sermons at my own church (Lutheran). The differences are not as extreme as I used to think that they were. Luckily for me, I get to follow along pretty well with the Catholic Mass while also being able to learn about the differences between our faiths. This has also been a great opportunity for me to watch people younger than myself show their true devotion to God. I have never felt closer to Him than I do when I watch a room full of young kids singing and praying to God. If you’ve never experienced it, try going to a church near you that has a large following and an even larger youth group! I’ve also found that there is a difference for me when I attend Mass vs. when I attend Sunday service. At Mass, I often find myself praying for those around me, the stresses of the day, and being thankful for the amazing feeling that the people in the room have brought to me (whether they know it or not). On Sunday, I am drawn closer to my own personal life in a few ways. First, I am blessed to know that my family has been part of the Lutheran faith for many many years. I also recall the fact that my grandmother has always gone to services alone (or with her children) for over 80 years now. I too attend Sunday services alone most of the time. This allows me to realize not only how my grandmother was so strong in her faith, but reminds me how strong I am in my own. It also gives me the chance to connect even better with those who are around me. I now have a few people who come and sit with me each week at services. I’m unsure whether they feel alone or think I am, but I appreciate their kindness and am reminded that even the simplest acts are important in life. 

Through everything that has been going on in my personal life lately, I have also come to find that reading is a great way to seek answer in prayer and get some “advice” from the man upstairs. I recently reached out to my pastor to see what advice or readings he would suggest to me from the Bible, and instead he recommended this book! 
I have to be honest and say that I do not keep up with the daily readings, but it sits in my living room with some of my other resources just waiting to be picked up and read anytime I feel the need. So far, I’d highly recommend this one!

Strange as it may seem for a person in their late twenties, I have also resorted to using my Teen Study Bible often recently. Not only is this book special because it is the one I used when working towards becoming a member of the church through Confirmation, but it also has some really good resources. There is a section included that points you to the best scriptures when in times of need. Looking for some readings on love, hatred, death, etc? All you have to do is access the glossary and find these topics listed with page numbers and scripture suggestions! 

Finally, I have picked up a copy of Beside the Still Waters from a local Amish market. I was skeptical at first, but found that this daily devotional is pretty good as well. This one directs you to a select set of scriptures. Once you read them, the book has a short discussion on the things you have just read. While it takes a bit longer than God Calling, it is well worth the time!

Image result for beside the still waters

Another way I have felt more connected to God is through my music. My favorite place to listen to music now is YouTube. Not even my Pandora stations cut it anymore. Why you may ask? Simply because I have found some amazing groups and songs on YouTube that do not circulate through my stations, try as I might. For your reference, I’ll give you a list of my top ten favorites, again in no particular order. 

And now for the final part of my list: sports. You may think I am crazy to say sports bring me closer to God, but I’m not talking about the NFL or NBA here. Actually, my church has their own softball team. We play other groups from churches around our county once a week over the summer months. While I started this adventure earlier this year simply because I missed playing softball so badly, I have come to realize that it means a lot more to me now than I thought it would. Through our games, I have become closer to others who share my beliefs. We have been able to connect more through these times than through church services, mostly because we are able to communicate with each other and work together as a team. I am forever grateful that this team was brought to my attention. While I am almost the youngest, and the only girl on the team, I am saddened to think that our season ends next week and I will have to wait until next summer to play with this team again! More importantly, I have found it significant that God has led me back to my favorite sport through my faith. 

So as I said when I first started this post, I’m just wondering: What brings you closer to your God? 

~B

Back at it!

Standard

It seems like every summer I come back to this, back to this webpage that very few pay attention to. Yet being able to write without my hand cramping quite so quickly is a good way for me to get some thoughts out and process the things in life that just seem to be a bit too overwhelming. During the school year, I normally resort to a good old paper journal, but that’s more due to time restraint and loving the feel of paper and pencil than anything else. 

Here I am again though, sitting at my kitchen table and thinking about so many things that I cannot keep my mind straight. So I come back here, to this blog that I started so many years ago. At the time I wasn’t sure what my intentions were or what the result would be. Surprising (or not…) this page has basically become a hodge podge of my life. I’m a teacher, I’m a christian, and I somehow have a lot to say. 

So I think I’d better start again… since last summer (or whenever my last post was), a lot has changed. I’m married now, to that man I’ve mentioned many times by the name ‘T’. We’ve got our own house and two precious pups (Jasper and Zoey). I’ve gone through a job change that almost resulted in a full-out career change. And more than anything, I’ve gone back to my roots. 

Starting in September or August of last year, I returned to the place where I originally did my student teaching. In case I never mentioned it before, it’s just a little Catholic school in the middle of a tiny town that very few people have ever heard of. The only reason I know of it is because we always go through it to get from one town to the next. In any case, this small school holds a huge place in my heart. It may not have changed much since 2013 when I last visited for a few months, but it seems to always be there when I need it. When I was offered a job there for the 2017-2018 school year, I had no idea that it was also a way of God telling me that I needed to get back to my religious beliefs and my kind and concerned self. Somehow I started to lose those things over the stress of a career that wasn’t super fulfilling and time restraints that it invoked in my life. 

Not only did this job change really start to point me in the right direction, but I also returned to my church practices. Let’s be honest, my church had a change in leadership a few years back and my attendance there quickly dwindled. I’m not a very good Christian by saying that, but there have always been preachers and pastors who really spoke to me… and unfortunately those who have talked either around me or straight over my head. As a young person in today’s society, it has always been hard for me to get my butt to church on a regular basis when the preacher doesn’t ever seem to reach me with their messages. This caused me to fall into old habits, and I had stopped going to church completely a few years back.

Luckily, I decided to get married and knew how important it was to my family (and more importantly, to myself) that I get married in a church. So I did a lot of work to seek out a pastor who would perform the services for us. Doing so changed my life, possibly forever. I was so fortunate to find a pastor who I was easily able to connect with and who genuinely cared about not just my religious self, but my husband’s not-so-religious ways. He was caring and kind and gave us so many assurances about how strong of a relationship we had.

I started attending his church for two reasons: it’s in the town where I now live with my husband, and I was curious to see the preaching style of the man who was going to marry us. I’m so fortunate that I did! For about the past year and a half or so, I have been attending church on a much more consistent basis. What really amazes me about this is not the fact that I have returned to church, but the fact that my faith has grown so much even having been away from a Sunday service for a year or two. Plus, the pastor I have been speaking of has an assistant pastor, and somehow they both speak to me! Some days I’d swear that the sermon is directed right at something going on in my life. Which has taught me that maybe it’s not the person delivering the message after all; maybe it truly is the message that needs to get to me when it is given. Like many people say, God will get you what you need when you need it. Clearly these two men have come into my life right when it’s necessary. 

And so, to tie all this change together in my life, I originally thought that this was all just a path to God, to my beliefs, to the person who I used to be and have always wanted to be. I have been so ecstatic and happy about all of these changes. I love being able to be myself and do the things in life that I have not stopped doing during my absence from this blog. Yet I have also been reminded that at the end of a long day, I can sit down in my house with my family and realize that I am doing my best to be a good person, that I am being led in some fashion through my Faith, and that I am able to learn more than simply what a college course can teach me. I learn every day from these kind and caring people who have openly joined me in belief of God. And while I’m no zealot or anything extreme, I feel like I have become a better person by focusing more on the good that I am supposed to accomplish in life, the good that I can hopefully teach to my students, and the happiness that you can very easily impart on any person at any given time. Yet as this summer rolls by, I’m starting to see that this new focus is not even half of the reason that I’ve been led back to God in such a fast and strong way. I think more it’s that God knows I’m going to need my Faith and my belief in him very soon, and possibly more than I ever have before.

But more on that later… 

~B

Struggling Today

Standard

Yep, that’s right. I’m having a rough day. I mean, everything is working out okay, but I am struggling to understand why some people step into leadership positions (for jobs or otherwise) when they have no intention of being kind, considerate, or helpful to others around them. The biggest thing I have ever learned from teaching is that the job is NEVER about me. I have to force myself to look out for my needs, my health, and my happiness. Luckily, I like the job, but unless I focus on doing things for myself, they don’t get done. Other people have equally (or more so) selfless jobs, but not everyone treats those jobs the way that they should.

Why am I struggling with this in particular? Because at the same time that I land a job in a religion-based private school, I am also having to switch churches. Don’t get me wrong, my faith is not changing or being swayed by anything going on, but I have never been so ashamed to be in a church before in my life. Moreover, the person who is supposed to be giving me religious guidance is doing nothing really but to make me wish people weren’t so gossipy and selfish.

As I sit here writing, I’m trying not to sound selfish (or feel selfish for that matter) about the decision I have made. I’m trying to remember how much it means to my grandmother for me to attend church with her (though she’s never said so out loud). I’m trying to remember how important family is to me and how I feel so amazing knowing that I am sitting in the same pews that my ancestors have sat in for over 80 years now. And yet I cannot bring myself to go back.

So this week, I’m determined to go to the same church that our wedding officiate will be attending. In fact, he’s the senior pastor there and is more than understanding of circumstances that change your life in ways you never see coming. He, thankfully, has recognized that I am trying to lead a faithful life and to be a more regular attendant at church. And more than anything, he believes in me and would sit down with me any day at any time to give me advice or help through any situation.

I haven’t had a super great pastor or reverend to look up to in a long time, and I’m not excited about switching churches (again), but I feel like this is a change my life needs right now. I just pray it turns out well and that I can find myself with less anxiety about simply attending my church on Sundays. Here’s to hoping!

Stations of the Cross and Update to my Faith

Standard

I learned something new at work the other week. And, honestly, I quite like it. For those of you who are not Catholic, just try to follow along.

Each Friday, the kids travel to the church to participate in what they call Stations. It is actually the practice known in Catholicism as “Stations of the Cross.” Not being a Catholic myself, I did not understand that first day what stations were or why they were important. After my second day of participating (today), I have realized that this is a pretty unique process that truly means a lot.

Basically, there are 14 stations, or images, depicting the last few days of Jesus’ life and his resurrection. The priest, along with three students holding the cross and candles, walk around the church and stand under 14 different “stations”. These are statues on the wall that depict Jesus being nailed to the cross, Jesus carrying the cross, Simon helping Jesus, etc.

Along with this practice, there is a book. Each student has a copy of the book. As the priest names the station, the students kneel. They then say a short response, followed by a reading of the situation Jesus was in at that station. The priest follows with a prayer, followed by a congregational prayer. Then, a three-line hymn is sung while the processional moves on to the next station.

It sounds really boring, pretty long, and not very important if you don’t know the details. But what has been the biggest impact to me about this practice is the prayers that the students and congregation recite. At points they thank Jesus for dying for their sins. At other times, they are praying that they will never take for granted their ability to go outside on a sunny day when Jesus couldn’t even leave the cross. For each station, there is a prayer that the students hope will help them to lead better, purer lives. But these prayers are simple and truly connect to the children’s actual lives. I too find myself wishing for many of these prayers to be heard in regards to my own life.

Anyway, as I continue to work in the Catholic schools and attend church each Sunday in my own Lutheran church, I find that God is an important part of my life. I have found myself praying during my days at the public schools, and hoping that even my future plans will all work out okay. My faith truly is strengthening as it did a few years ago when I first started this blog. I hope it continues to do so.

In the meantime, if you are interested in more details about Stations of the Cross, try this website: http://www.catholic.org/prayers/station.php

~B

Church of Drama

Standard

I haven’t written in a while about anything religious. For that, I apologize. I know some of my followers like the posts when I talk directly about my beliefs and my opinions. Unfortunately, the reason that I have not been writing about these topics is because they have fallen a little bit to the wayside in my life lately. No, I have not stopped believing in God or praying throughout my days. I have just taken more of a backseat in my church lately and have been very frustrated with the organization that we call church.

Here’s the thing: my church joined up with these other churches in town to form a group that is “run” by a board. I think of it sort of like a school district with a school board and superintendent. Anyway, I know that church attendance is going down all over the world, but joining up with these other churches has hurt my church in particular way more than just struggling for attendance on our own. For the past few years we have been sharing pastors with other churches in the area, have changed all of our hymnals to new books that some of our members cannot even read or follow, have amended the way that our services run, and have even changed the types of meals and items that we offer during our summer picnic.

Now I know that everything must change to adapt to the new parts of the world that arise over time. I’m not saying that I expected everything to stay the same forever. All I’m saying is that my church has become (at least in my eyes) more about politics than speaking of God or singing those songs that I grew up loving to sing with the choir. Now I go to church… pretty much never, and I try to participate as little as possible. After I volunteered one time to read the scriptures, the coordinator decided that I had elected to read scriptures for an entire month in a row at random intervals. I feel like the worst person in the world to admit this, but I was unable to attend church during some of those weekends. There were one or two when I would have been available, but even then I came up with something else to do simply because I was upset that I had not actually been asked to read. It’s nothing like thinking you are walking into a group of like-minded, kind, and understanding people only to find out that they don’t understand your schedule or priorities at all. I still stand by the fact that I fully believe attending church is not necessary to be able to believe in a God or higher power. I also don’t think that I need to attend church for God to forgive me when I make mistakes or that I need to attend so that he does not stop listening to my prayers.

In any case, I’m getting tired now and don’t have much else to say on the subject. Part of me feels like more people in the world need to believe in some source of good to make Earth a better place. The other part of me sees how much drama and politics are being brought into my church right now and I don’t understand at all why anyone would want to start going or go back to a religious service again. It’s going to take some convincing on my own part to get me back to a service. That, more than anything else right now, makes me sad.

Perfect Snow Days

Standard

I know already that today will probably be the last snow day that I have this winter, so I’m trying to soak it up and enjoy it. So far I have successfully finished some school work, had some fun with a friend, watched three movies, taken a nap, eaten a decent lunch, and had an overall great day.

At one point my friend and I had sat down and gone through a list of questions to help people get to know each other better. Some of the questions were silly. Others didn’t even make any sense because it was ten am and they were asking things like “what is the best thing that happened to you today.” Needless to say the best I could come up with is that I got to sleep in.

Now, as I sit on the couch watching Mystic River with some people I care about, I feel nervous about nothing in particular. Maybe that Mom won’t come home and ask fifty questions, maybe that my friend isn’t feeling as uncomfortable as I feel like he is, or maybe that I have nothing to worry about but am just tired or stressed for some reason.

Regardless, I am finding myself relying heavily on my faith right now as I try to remain calm and sort out my tangled web of thoughts so that I can successfully settle myself enough to be able to enjoy the rest of my evening.

It’s funny; though many people disagree with my beliefs because I an either too religious or not religious enough, when I sit down and think about it, I think most people would understand my faiths if they just asked me to explain it.

Faith to me is this… believing in some thing, some person beyond myself who can control more than I can. It might seem silly to believe in something I cannot see, hear, feel, etc. but it doesn’t make any sense that someway, somehow, I can feel like crap one minute and feel better the next. There are moments when anxiety and nerves can get so huge and encompassing that it’s impossible to focus on anything else. And when that same large effect continues for any length of extended time, there just seems to be no hope that it will ever go away. So I have to have faith. Because if I’ve already given up on myself then who else is going to believe in me but some higher power?

Along similar lines, if I don’t have someone who believes in me in heaven or some other unseen place, then How can I ever expect to make a difference in this world. Most times I know I am smart and caring, but sometimes I have very little self-confidence and even less belief that I do things because I care about others rather than because I am selfish.

I might write again later but for now I just need to ask this: How can anyone know what is right or wrong for another person unless they are psychic? I’m ridiculously scared of hurting other people, particularly with my words and actions. So how do I know which things are okay to say and do if I don’t have my own psychic powers? I guess I’ll just have to pray about it and hope that somehow I get an answer before I hurt someone else in my life.

With Every Day there is Despair

Standard

I never thought I would be writing a post like this, not the day after Christmas; maybe never at all. But things happen in life that God has planned for us that never really come up on our radar until the moment of impact. And that’s when it all changes…

Angels


I cannot stop thinking about one of my friends today, as they mourn the loss of their brother. I don’t know what this kind of loss feels like, this heart-wrenching, deep, awful pain that he must be feeling. I’ve lost people in my life, but never something like this.

On the night of Christmas, a young man passed away, and no one knew until they awoke the next morning to find him unresponsive in his bed. What a shame and a tragedy this must seem to those who found him lying there, to those who realized what it all meant. 

But even more the tragedy, this family does not deserve this pain. This life, this young man, he still had some living to do. God found it right at this time to take him back and use him for a greater purpose. And all we can hope is that things work out so that some day we see the importance of losing this loved one so young. 

I am going to sound like a bad person by saying this, but I’m truly glad that I did not know this lost soul. It’s hard enough for me to know his brother and to be so slapped in the face by the pure facts of it all. What it must be like for them to even begin to comprehend that their loved one is gone. With no explanation, no cause… all they are left with is the hole in their heart and the aftermath of it all. I pray that one day they will fill that hole with all of their memories of their son, their brother. I pray that things work out for them because that’s how God wants it to be. And no matter what, I am praying right now for them, that they may find the peace to understand why God needed a piece of their heart at this celebratory time of the year.

No one ever thinks that a death is going to occur in their family when it happens. A large majority of the deaths in this world are by accident or come as shocking news in some way. I pray, that whatever happened to this poor boy, his parents and family knew it was coming and were able to start preparing for this loss. And yet, as hard as I pray, I’m pretty sure this is not the case.


To all out there who have ever lost a loved one close to the holidays, on a holiday, or on any other day of any other year… I pray for you. I hope that you have found the peace and the love that you needed to understand why death is a necessary evil in this world. I pray that you are close enough to God that you understand why death is important and how your loved ones will go on living in your hearts and as angels in Heaven. If you do not believe in the same religion as me; well for you, I pray that whatever you believe or whatever you do not believe leads you to a life of happiness again. Because regardless of the circumstances, everyone deserves to be happy. 

~Me

Christmas Wrap

Standard

So here’s the thing about Christmas. I get the point. I’m a Christian and this is possibly one of our biggest times of the year for celebration of Jesus. (It’s between Christmas and Easter, in case you were wondering.) For all of the years that I have been aware of what Christmas is, I have also enjoyed the thought of Santa Claus and all of the magic that gift giving and peace-wishing entails. 

Christmas

My family is not immune to the magic of the holiday, both the religious aspects and the commercial aspects of shopping, wrapping, and giving gifts to our loved ones. We have made it a tradition to view lights one night before Christmas Eve, eat a special meal that night, watch the Polar Express before bed, and make sure that our tree is embedded in a sea of gifts. Our house is all decorated, even down to the small tree that lights up beside my bed each night. So I get it, I really do.

But at the end of the day, Christmas is not what it used to be for me. Today was absolutely amazing in the morning. Last night was great as well. This is the first Christmas that I have my puppy, it’s the first Christmas that I have had as a full-time teacher. I am getting so many extra gifts and so much extra love that it’s crazy. I also feel grateful for the fact that I am able to donate some more of my money to good causes this year. I have made it my mission to do random acts of kindness throughout the year, but giving monetary donations to any cause is normally something I shy away from. (Not because I’m a grinch, but because I am very careful with what little money I do possess.)

So how has it changed in my eyes? Well this year I didn’t get to say Merry Christmas to my fiance; I don’t have a fiance to tell. There were no surprise gifts of vacations to South Carolina or wondrous things that I have always wished for. This year I was so wrapped up in others that I sort of forgot about myself. That’s how I wanted it to be; I didn’t want to think about my hurt or my wish to get over past memories and hurt. And so, I get it now. I get that this is how the holiday is supposed to be. Looking back, I believe I’ve been building up this idea and this perspective for years now. Slowly but surely this holiday has become less about me and more about others. This year was just the icing on the cake, the telescope staring me in the face. This year, I fully understand.

Yes, Christmas is not what it used to be. There were no card games with my cousins, showing off gifts to my aunts and uncles. I didn’t have a moment of pure ecstasy when I opened up a brand new computer or unveiled a new outfit that I had been eyeing for weeks. But maybe it’s better this way. 

This morning when my family woke up, I had the joy of watching my baby pup unwrap his gifts. He was so excited to do it all on his own. By the time his last gift was being unwrapped, he had even come to understand that his mission was to find the toy INSIDE of the paper, rather than to eat all of the paper itself. He was so happy that after his gifts were done, he tried to help everyone else. Then, immediately after breakfast, he crashed in his new bed, surrounded by his new toys. As if nothing in the world could make his life any better in that one moment of pure joy.

My sister and I did so good on shopping ideas for our mom this year that she cried. Twice. She said it was from the same pure joy that Jasper had apparently been experiencing. 

My sister, so excited to get her new outfit and gear for her vehicle, immediately gave us a fashion show, placed her new accessories in the truck, and started to fill out job applications. On Christmas. Because she is just that determined to put her new suit to good use!

Dad got a lot, but I guess some things never change. He had everything guessed correctly before he even touched the boxes that we had “hidden” his gifts in. Smart man, that one. Too bad he hides that pure joy that everyone else had shown.

As I sat there on the living room floor thinking about my family and seeing their smiling faces, I didn’t want one thing to change. The only thing I could do in addition to what was already being done was to pray for my kids, to pray for their families, and to pray for my friends. Those from my past and those from my present, that they may have experienced such perfect bliss as that moment in my life.

As I lay here now, wondering if I missed this amazing miracle every other year of my life, I am content in knowing that there will always be another Christmas. Whether I am still here with my family or somewhere else in the world, I will be looking out for that miracle. It’s the greatest gift that I could have received this year; to know that my family is okay and that one thing, at least that one tiny thing, never changes.

Of course going to my Grandma’s house was not nearly as stellar as that miraculous realization. But I was armed and ready with weapons. I think it’s so weird that I have this huge family (actually, 21 people) and I never really talk to any of them. Except for Mom, Dad, my sister, and Grandma. But the thing is, each of them is so wrapped up in talking to those family members that we only see twice a year (Christmas and Easter, who would have thought!) that I might as well be invisible. Which again, is okay now that I realize the true TRUE meaning of the holiday. 

Yet it’s so awkward for me. Have you ever taught a class before or given a presentation? You know how everyone’s eyes are always on you. Maybe they are waiting for you to perform amazing work or maybe they are waiting for you to mess up; the reason for their attention is not important. What is important is you, at least in that one moment. This is how I feel when I teach my kids. And no, I do not do it for the “fame” or the attention, but it does feel good to not be the child in the back of the room who is too shy to speak out anymore. It feels amazing to be part of the conversation and part of the world that all of these other people are experiencing. 

So try showing up to your family get together on Christmas and realizing that you’re back to being the wall flower. In one room are the boys (or men rather) who fall asleep immediately after the meal and are only there because their wives or mother made them come along. In the other room are the cousins, none of which are within 3 or 4 years of my age. Which is cool, except my older cousin had a baby a few years back and now all they do is sit around and “slobber” over him. Cute, but the kid is going to be starstruck before he’s 4! Finally, the kitchen is full of those people who are worried about Grandma. This year was her 61st Christmas dinner (add that up once), and she always over exhausts herself trying to cook for us. (For example, our intake of mashed potatoes tops 15 pounds, and the 21+ pound turkey is too heavy for her to even lift on her own.) So everyone tries to baby Grandma in the kitchen. 

I’ve tried to find this place where I belong in the jumble. Logic says that I would belong in the room with my cousins, the “young generation”. But I don’t fit in there; two of my cousins are in their thirties and are either 1) sleeping with the men or 2) chasing their son around the house. The younger ones are always giving googly eyes to the baby and seem fairly fake besides. Just the fact that they don’t even acknowledge me when they walk in the door tells you how great of a relationship I have with any single one of them. It’s fairly sad really. But the cousin room, for whatever reason, is out.

Then there’s the adult room. They all just sit there staring at each other and discussing people that I have no idea even existed. Or the topic revolves around what car part is necessary to fix so-and-so’s truck and what was the best part of the Christmas meal. So okay, I can hang out there for a bit, but after a while, a conversation where you give absolutely zero input (because if you did, you would point out to everyone that you are such an outsider) gets boring.

On to the next room, where everyone is asleep. And, with no explanation needed, it’s on to the kitchen. 

I tried to clean up dishes this year and set up desserts, but they told me that there were already too many people in the kitchen at the time. That’s fine I guess, since it was actually true. Grandma’s house is not built for a seven-person chef team. Yet that’s how many were there, trying to be equally as helpful as I was. So, being the youngest and least stubborn of the bunch, I got booted out.

Last year during this time, I ended up in my Grandma’s office, texting my fiance on the phone. He was at his parent’s house celebrating, and I was with my family. It was great. This year, I don’t have that luxury…

So things have been great today, and yet things have been awkward. I get where I belong but I also still feel like I’m lost in a sea of confusion around my extended family.

The only thing I know for sure is that my pup was dreaming at the bottom of my bed and he just woke up with a whimper. (Ironically, this occurred at the exact moment that I said I felt lost….) He immediately stood up and come to the head of the bed, where he is now laying with his shoulder on mine. Looks like it will be difficult for me to type more now, and it also looks like I’m getting some sort of sign that everything will be okay. 

So to end this post, Merry Christmas and I hope you all experienced at least some of the joy that I have experienced today. But whatever you do, don’t forget that your life is never totally stuck in a rut and that you never have everything figured out. Good luck learning more and more thought!

~Me