Tag Archives: Prayer

Stations of the Cross and Update to my Faith

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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

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With Every Day there is Despair

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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

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!

Sunday’s Sermon: The Seed That Kept on Giving

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Sunday Sermon

I went to church this morning, partially because I haven’t been in a while, partially because my entire family finally had the opportunity to go today. It may too have had something to do with the fact that I was searching for some kind of answer as far as how to deal with everything that has been going on lately. Needless to say, I didn’t find it…

The Parish that my church is a part of has a single pastor, three churches. We take in students from the local Seminary to give them real-world experiences for a year at a time. Our most recent student, a girl, just finished her time with us. I didn’t realize that today we would be welcoming a new member into our arms. Well, let me rephrase- I knew we were getting someone new since we were having an ice cream social for him after the late service. What I didn’t understand was that he would be giving the sermon today.

Though no big deal right? Everyone preaches differently, everyone “deciphers” the Bible differently, but I am quite used to new pastors, reverends, etc. Today was different though. Today I was really searching for something, some sign of comfort and guidance from the service. I didn’t get it. Maybe that’s why I was so disappointed by the sermon itself, though maybe it was just the fact that the sermon was given by someone who’s name I didn’t even know. 

Regardless, I learned a lot about mustard seeds. In fact, the entire sermon focused on it. A parable in one of the Scriptures we read involved the seed. Unfortunately, by the end of the sermon, I couldn’t remember what the parable had said. 

So now I’m wondering- is this bad of me? Maybe I was too distracted by the newness of the situation, maybe the sermon was just too long for my attention span… Regardless, I feel really bad about the fact that I got nothing from the sermon and spent more time focused on the little baby in front of me. I’m sure that doesn’t make me a bad person, but I always feel like I should walk into church and walk out with at least one new thought, feeling, etc. Today, I didn’t.

I guess I did walk away with one thing, though not what I was searching for, hoping for, or used to. It got so hot in there that we all started sweating and having a hard time staying cool. (Yay for no A/C in the church!) Someone that I hold very dear got so overheated that they had to leave early. In lieu of going into more details on that matter, I’d just like to say that they are okay now, but I need everyone out there to send a big prayer for them just in case. This isn’t the first time that a dizzy spell has been a part of their day lately, and it worries me that it won’t be the last.

So maybe in the end, God wants me to focus more on my loved ones than on myself. I feel like the wires here are getting crossed; last week I felt like I was focusing too much on making everyone else happy and it was hurting me and making my anxiety worse. Now though, I feel like if I don’t focus more on everyone else than myself different things will happen. First, I’ll lose time with the ones I love that I cannot get back whenever I feel like it. Second, I will stay so stressed about my own life that I’ll never get out of this hole. 

So now, along with focusing on nature, being thankful for the simple things (as I talked about yesterday), I need to focus on other people, especially those that I love. Let’s see how this goes…

In ending, this scripture from John 15:13 sums up the focus that I am going to try to maintain:

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.