Tag Archives: God

The Avenues of Faith

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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

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Back at it!

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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

God Has a Plan

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In lieu of doing a Reader’s Choice post today, I’ve decided to do something a little more like my Sunday posts. Unfortunately, no one has been sending me ideas for Reader’s Choice topics, so I’m out of ideas on that account. 😦 While it’s sad, that was probably meant to be for today. I have something much more pressing that needs to be written. 

My doggy passed almost a year ago now. I grew up with him, since he had been a Christmas present in the year that I attended first grade. (I’m in my 20s now if that is any indication for how long we have been together and how close we became). When Max first got sick, I always thought that it wasn’t right to put him down; we didn’t know how much longer he may have lived, and we would be cutting his life short by putting him down. He ended up living for well over a year after the vets predicted he would make it. We’re pretty sure it was cancer, and it was a long, slow process to adjust to his way of life as an older dog. At the same time, we held on because he showed no signs of pain and was just as attentive and special as ever. When we got back from a trip in October of last year, he started dwindling faster; we could tell he didn’t want to eat as much, his legs hurt him more, and he was so skinny that it was almost scary. But he continued to fight. And then, one week, I just knew. Before he even began to whimper or cry, I knew that he was ready to go and that God had called him to His side. I’m not sure how I know, though I attribute some of it to my closeness with Max. That’s when we decided it was best for him to go where he was needed. 

DSCF0058 (Max in 2012)

The decision to put Max to sleep was by far the hardest decision I have ever had to make. My family took it really hard since he was our first (and only) pup, and it was even harder for me knowing that I had been one of the first people to say that it was time. But God sent me a message somehow and told me that it was right. I didn’t realize it then, but I realize it now.

I’ve wanted another dog since… well, a long time. I thought Max would love a companion, but it turned out he was too protective and selfish in his own cute way. So he was an only dog, and loved every minute of it. It didn’t take long for my love of dogs to return to me, and I’ve been wanting a pup ever since. Unfortunately, the rest of my family was hesitant to move another animal into our lives after such a horrible loss. And then, miraculously, yesterday my parents said that it would be okay. I’m not sure what happened to change their minds, but Mom said she had been feeling it for a while now, and my sister was on board with her too. It took a few days to convince my Dad, but at the end of the day, he just wants us happy and we all know he (secretly) loves dogs.

I spent a lot of time last night searching for dogs on the Internet. It’s not the first place that I would go to find a puppy, but I was trying to find out what the best location to visit would be. I particularly wanted another schnauzer, but after some tears from pictures that looked too much like Max, we opened our options a little bit more. 

After everyone went to bed last night, I couldn’t sleep. I decided to keep searching and came across this local organization that rescues animals from high kill shelters and surrenders from households. Many of the animals are young, but not all of them. I searched the entire list. May I just say, it’s sad to me to know how few places there are to help these animals considering how many animals there are. I have always known about animal abuse and overpopulation because people are stupid sometimes, but I never realized just how bad it was. I started leaning towards adopting a rescued pet instead of buying one from a breeder. 

The website that I was searching, funnily enough, had a picture of two little schnauzers on it. They were mixed breed schnauzers, and looked slightly larger, so I sent an email inquiry and then moved on. I figured that, with their long legs, they would be giant schnauzers instead of miniatures. 

This morning I checked my emails to no avail. The company hadn’t returned my inquiry yet. We went in town to run some errands and have some fun at a town festival, and then we planned to head to the SPCA to check on some other dogs that I had found. Here’s where the huge irony hits… the organization that had the little schnauzers was at the town festival! And the dogs were there! 

Needless to say, I did fall in love with the little boy, and even filled out an application. Then, more wonderfully yet, our vet showed up at the festival and was able to give a great reference to the organization on our account! As I sit here now, I keep frantically checking out the adoption agency’s website to see that he is not pending adoption yet- this is great news for me! And the more I sit here and think, the more I feel that this was a sign. The stars aligned just too perfectly in this case for it to be anything but a small act of God. I believe that my family was destined to get a pup, destined to make the decision this week as we did, and destined to run into little Jasper at the festival.

 Jasper

I‘ll leave you with two thoughts to end this post. 1) Spay and neuter- I don’t care how much you have to pay to get it done! Be responsible. Seeing so many animals in shelters (even non-high kill shelters) killed my heart and smashed it into pieces today. If I could have adopted them all, I would have! 2) Remember that God always has a plan and it’s only after the fact, and through some deep reflection, that you may ever see the path that He has led you down. But, regardless, be thankful. Everything happens for a reason and God does indeed send messages to those who wait and open their ears to hear him.

Wish us luck in this new adventure, and I’ll be praying for greatness for all of you too!

Sunday’s Sermon: Shutting out the Bad, Letting in the Good

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Sunday Sermon

I’m writing today because there’s nothing else for me to do. I feel pretty stuck at the moment, though it’s not because of my anxiety. Instead, I feel stuck because my life is changing drastically and I don’t know what to say about it. I suddenly feel like I don’t understand other people, like I have no clue how to see situations from an outsider’s perspective. Normally I’m pretty good at seeing things from different points of view, at least to some extent. But now I’m feeling sort of lost in that department.

I won’t get into specifics to explain why I am feeling so incapable of a normally easy task, but I will say that one of my friendships is taking a very drastic dive because of this issue. And the worst part is, I cannot tell if the other person is simply being illogical and not thinking about anyone but themselves (as it is starting to seem from my point of view), or if it is the case that I just cannot see things from their angle to really know what to think.

I also feel like I should not be thinking into this nearly as much as I am, but I cannot stop myself. My brain has no turn off button, and it is pre-programmed to focus on the most stressful things in my mind first. Hence the way this day is working out to not be as good as I thought.

I would like to solve this issue, come to some sort of agreement with my friend, move on. My goal in life is to be happy and to become closer to God, but these issues are just clouding over everything right now. It’s increasing my anxiety, upsetting my stomach, and making me sleep even less. Those, unfortunately, are then reacting with other situations to make my life even harder. 

I didn’t go to Church today (that’s another story in itself) but I have been sitting here praying to God to show me the way through this muck. He seems to be telling me that I should just leave things lay. Something will change or occur on its own, so I’m trying to be patient. It’s a very hard thing for me to have patience, so I am also praying about that. 

It’s funny how God answers our prayers in ways that we wouldn’t originally want or expect. I don’t want to sit around and wait for things to occur; I’m the type of person who needs to get things done and settled to move on to more goals and accomplishments in my life. Yet I feel that something has been pushing me to just drop this subject and see how it will turn out down the road. Maybe God is telling me to calm down and leave it be- maybe that is the answer to my prayer. It might seem to be an odd one to a person seeking a direct answer to get something solved, but if not solving the problem is an answer, so be it. 

Along with everything that has been happening lately, I finally got up the nerve to participate in a Church event. I volunteered this weekend at a picnic that my Church hosted. At first I didn’t really want to help out, especially after I heard that everyone else in my family would be working and unable to go with me. But I was specifically asked by one of the ladies to help, so I felt bad for saying no. It seemed like the golden opportunity to participate in something. I’ve been considering Church choir or another religious-related activity- I’ve just been too nervous and wimpy to try anything new. 

The deal that I made with my sister was that I would go to the picnic for about two hours until she got off of work, and then she would come out and help me for the rest of the evening. By the time she got off of work, she was too tired to help, so she went straight home. My dad also left because he thought it was too hot outside, and my grandmother left an hour or so later because she had finished all of the baking and things that she was responsible for. 

Truth be told, I don’t know a lot of people at my Church. I go for myself, and sit with my family through the services. There are very few extra activities that my family attends, and as I stated, I don’t participate in any of the organizations. By the time everyone I really knew left, I felt that I was alone. With the way my stress has been amplified lately, and the way that my nerves have been reacting to other situations in my life, being there with a bunch of strangers was too much for me to handle. It seems silly, but it was true.

I ended up coming home early. I felt bad about it, but there was nothing else I could do. I could have stayed and stuck out the rest of the night, but everyone there would have seen my visible distress. I tried to control myself, calm down, and focus on something better, but it was one of those days where even the most powerful control doesn’t stop my thoughts from running rampant. 

In the end, I’m glad that I got to do some good. I fear that I’ll never feel comfortable enough at that particular event to volunteer there again (for reasons that I also don’t care to explain). However, I hope that one day there will be people at my Church whom I will know or come to know, so that I might participate in activities involving other people who share my Faith and would be willing to give and get support from a person like me.

To sum this all up, I guess we all just have to keep praying. Volunteering will also help us become better people, at least in some way. And even if it doesn’t all work out perfectly, my advice is to reflect on any situation and find something that you may have learned. Or, if you can find some way in which you have grown, that can turn into an equally good lesson. If you enjoy volunteering or have anything to add to this post, let us all know!

The Garden of Inspiration

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So I had meant to follow up yesterday’s post with the rest of the story once I had charged my laptop. Unfortunately, life gets in your way sometimes and the follow-up post had to be put on hold. Here I am again, trying to finally get some new content on my page! Sorry to those of you who follow me on a regular basis and are missing out on all of the daily posts. I didn’t have a Saturday Reader’s Choice topic, so I’m just going to finish up yesterday’s story instead…

As I was saying, I find inspiration in a  lot of different forms and places. My dad is the one who truly inspired me this time, to find some motivation (or at least try to fake it). While I don’t have any kids or pets to look after, who rely on me for love and nourishment, Dad has a garden. Over the past few days he has been calling me throughout the day and asking me to do small chores for the good of the garden. It started with picking the peas, then thinning out the green beans. We also had a plot that had not been sown yet, so one night he came home from work and asked for my help in that task.

It seems silly, and even I myself thought that it wouldn’t be enough of a distraction for me. But it has turned out to be a great help over the past few days. The thing is, taking care of that garden is almost like taking care of a pet or child. Not nearly as needy maybe, but just as alive and important if you think about it the right way. 

I’m a farmer’s daughter, and though we no longer live on a farm, it makes me happy to see that I am able to grow something so well without killing it, harming it, or ruining anything. Seeing the growth of the garden is exactly what I need right now to realize that I am better than I am feeling. I can get out of this slump- maybe not today or even tomorrow, but I can if I just hang in there. Because not everything in life is bad, not everything is negative. 

Just as the garden goes through its seasons, so too do I go through phases in my life. While humans might make life more complicated, hectic, and jam packed than I believe it ever need be, the garden is less crazy. But it still grows and moves on. 

As I was weeding yesterday, I realized, maybe God gave us nature for this reason: for us to be able to relate to it, for us to be able to enjoy it, for peace and some small form of understanding. It makes sense, at least for me. I feel more peaceful when I’m by the ocean, around animals, or out in the garden. Sure, the extreme heat or freezing cold puts a damper on things, but when the weather is decent, nature comes out in its best forms. And I, for the most part, am at peace. 

So thank you Dad- for the inspiration to get outside and do something with myself, and for your support in all things. Thanks to the rest of you who have given me support, even if it is just a comment on a single post of mine at some point. And lastly, thank you to God. For I know you lead me in the direction I need to go whether it be easy or hard. Yet at the end of the day, you give me the piece of the puzzle that I need to find in order to be able to regain that peace of mind that I normally carry with me. 

I may not be feeling better yet, but I’m feeling more hopeful, and maybe that’s all that matters. 

Friday’s Mash-Up: The Golden Hearted Girl

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Mash_Up

What to post today??

Well, I’ll tell you. Today’s post is just a mash-up of thoughts that I am having today. First, let me just say two very important things:

  1. I am absolutely LOVING the ability to write on this blog every day.
  2. I am so appreciative of the people who have liked, commented, or followed my blog so far! I don’t have many followers yet, but those of you who are in that category are something special to me. The fact that you even read one of my posts makes my day about fifty times over!

In the words of Confucius,

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”

I am trying to refrain from that type of behavior in this blog. I’ve got too much stress, excitement, and hubbub in my life. Having a few good supporters and a bunch of words to put to the page, I am completely satisfied with my blogging experience thus far.

In other news, I have been spending a ton of time acting like a crazy person. And it’s all because my brain is full of this nonsense…

…Well maybe not all of it. But a lot of it. Chemistry, physics, calculus, geometry. I am literally praying to God that I make it through the next year. If my brain already looks like that jumbled up mess, I hate to even see what I will be like at the end of August! (I’m a teacher, in case you couldn’t guess.)

I am still waiting to hear about my friend’s condition, but have to make a huge shout-out to my best friend, my sister! She has offered to go and live with the family until things get back to normal. That way she can help watch the kid, the dogs, etc. Is it bad of me to be slightly jealous of her? Let’s face it, I don’t have the guts to offer something so bold, brave, and courageous. I’m a wimp for one thing. For another, I don’t do well in situations in which I am uncomfortable (or even think that I may be). So while my sister is out, seemingly saving the world, here I sit praying that I will one day be as good of a person as she is. No one has a golden heart like that girl! If they do, I have yet to meet them. Though maybe meeting them is a good thing… if by surrounding myself with golden treasures, I can become a golden treasure myself, then I’m all for it!

But I have a feeling that my fears and insecurities will keep me from achieving much of the greatest that my sister exhibits. So yeah, I’m jealous of her abilities. But more than anything, I am proud of that girl! She might be my younger sister but you could consider her the bigger sister in so many ways. Sometimes I wonder how you can’t see her heart popping out of her chest, it must be that big.

So does our friend have cancer? Who knows… Will everything work out okay? Uh, not sure…

The only thing I do know for sure is that we definitely still need prayers for the situation and that my sister could be a miracle worker some day. For now, I trust that God is leaving the rest up to interpretation for now because he is teaching me a lesson. I know that some of you may not believe that God makes everything happen for a reason, or to teach us a lesson. (Heck, maybe you don’t believe in Him at all.) Yet I do believe that, even if God is not all-controlling of our minds, talents, and decisions, he does have some kind of pull on the events of the world and how they happen. If that’s true, I highly doubt He’s just sitting up there in Heaven somewhere saying “ooo, this would be funny! Let’s try this!” just for the heck of it. So all of this has to be for a reason. I hope. I’ll just keep praying that we find out what that reason is sooner rather than later, and that (hopefully) it is a good reason. A simple lesson learned, with no one the worse for it.

Sorry my post tonight ended up centering around that situation again. I hadn’t meant it to, but apparently that is what is most on my mind. I’ll try to write something a little different later on. For now, leave a comment and let me know if you or someone you know needs or would like prayer. I will gladly return the favor. 🙂