Friday, January 3, 2014

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

I'm back!...and Thanksgiving

I'm so excited to have finished my NaNo WriMo!  I came in at 50,003! 

So here's how it worked out:

I started off writing a historical inspirational fiction piece inspired partly by my grandmother's life.  I had high hopes for this novel, wrote an outline, spent time developing my hero and heroine and felt rather confident.  Then about 25,000 words into it, I knew that the story wouldn't work.  I can't exactly explain it, but I just knew this wasn't the story for me and the words completely stopped coming.  Then I remembered some words of wisdom, which were "If you were writing only for God, would this be the story you want to tell?"  Well, the answer was "no", even though I really wanted the story to work out.  So I stopped, prayed and started again.  Luckily, a story formed and I was able to complete my new NaNo WriMo in two weeks!  My next step is editing which is going to be a  huge process, but I'm looking forward to really digging my heels in and getting going.

So let's switch gears and talk about Thanksgiving.  This year, I'll be spending it with my father, his girlfriend and of course my husband and son.  Tomorrow is the big day and I'm a little nervous about baking the turkey.  I've done it a few years now, and it always comes out different.  Usually, it's done either way before or way after the fixings, but this year I bought instant stuffing, so at the very least, I can just add some water and the stuffing will be done whenever the turkey is ready.  (Hey, don't judge me on the instant stuffing :)  )

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I'll go ahead and follow the tradition of mentioning things for which I am thankful.  I know it's a bit predictable, but I really am thankful for Jesus.  He saved us from darkness, carries our burdens, and loves us unconditionally.  Without him, there is no hope.  I'm also thankful for my husband, who is the most amazing man on the planet, and my son, who is Captain Awesome.  If I were to list more silly things for which I'm thankful, I'd say peanut butter fudge milkshakes and cheeseburgers.  Yup, I'm thankful for yummy food :)

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Taking a break for November

You've probably noticed that I've slowed down.  I haven't been blogging as regularly.  This is because I'm going to be participating in National Write a Book in a Month month starting November 1st.  I've been spending most of my time researching and getting prepared and once the month begins, I'll be spending most of my time writing. 

If you're interested in seeing what I'm up to, or anything related to my writings and publications, check out my other blog

Until December! 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Church Shopping

It's been awhile since I've posted.  My family and I have been trying to decide what to do about our current church situation and I wanted to share the journey with you.

We moved to our current location a year ago after my husband's company shut down one branch and moved us to another.  At our old location, we had an amazing church.  Amazing.  It wasn't just that they had a contemporay service, which we really enjoy, but God gave the pastor wisdom and the ability to transfer that wisdom into captivating and inspiring sermons.  I actually took notes when he spoke, something I'd never been moved to do.  My husband and I would talk about the sermons for days, also something new for us.  And, perhaps the most surprising thing to us, we all wanted to go to church.  We looked forward to Sundays.

Now about a month or so after we found out that my husband's company would close that location, our Pastor stood up and said he'd be retiring.  My husband and I, as well as other congregation members, felt loss at his news.  Loss for knowing that his words would no longer be spoken on Sundays, but we also were filled with gladness and gratitude that we got to hear them.  For my husband and I, it was the final determinant in whether we'd move or stay.  You see, we'd been talking about perhaps trying to stay in the area and on our list of "pros for staying" was our Pastor.  That's how inspiring God made him.  But with him leaving and moving on, we knew it was time for us to do the same.

So here we are in our new location. 

We moved on a Saturday and Sunday morning we went to the only Lutheran church within a 20 mile radius of our home.  It's ELCA, which is a major plus, and everyone was welcoming and friendly, but we didn't feel a spark.  We didn't feel the stirring of the holy spirit within us.  Please don't get me wrong - it had nothing to do with the church or the people.  They are lovely and warm individuals, but we just weren't feeling connected.

Still, we continued to go because it's a Lutheran church and we are Lutherans.  But eventually we began church shopping.  This - for those who've experienced it - can be completely overwhelming and exhausting, especially when all we wanted was to sit and worship God.  Instead, every Sunday, we went to a new church, met new people, talked to new Pastors, Reverends, ect. ect.  Because there were no other Lutheran churches we explored other denominations such as Baptist and Methodist, and soon all the churches began to blur together until we finally threw our hands in the air and became members to the Lutheran church.

We went there for about a year, but only - on average - twice a month.  This would not do.  I knew what the holy spirit could do within us when we became a part of "our" church (  "our" meaning the church that fits us ).  We'd experienced it back in our old home and I wasn't going to settle for less.

So, this summer we started the exhausting process of church shopping again.  Again, we were overwhelmed, tired, and eventually threw our hands up, went back to our Lutheran church and figured that would be the end.

But when God wants you somewhere, He isn't going to throw his hands up and let you quit.

I again felt like something didn't fit and again told my husband that we needed to continue shopping.  Last Sunday, we went to a local Baptist church held in a school cafeteria.  Now, where we live, there are mega churches, beautiful stain glass window churches, old historic churches filled with rich history.....but this past Sunday we found ourselves walking into an elementary school and heading to the cafeteria which had about ten rows of chairs, a praise band and a stand where the Pastor (Reverend? - It's a Baptist church so I don't know which is accurate.  Please forgive the mistake!) would preach.  We were greeted by friendly folks - like we had been in each of the churches we experienced - and given a gift bag.  The band started to play and I started to feel relaxed, comfortable.  The Pastor ( Reverend ?  Ok, I'll learn the right word for it ) began to preach. 

Now at this point, I grew concerned.  Not only do we live in an area of mega churches, but we live in an environment of conservative points-of-views, those that we don't necessarily agree with.  This church is Baptist, and Baptists have a reputation for...well....conservative ideals.

The sermon was about love.  Pure love.  Love that Christ gave, love that Christ wants us to give to others.  He read parts of the Bible and cautioned us not to take the words out of context, to read the whole scripture, not to pick something out and think that's the whole story.  (I've blogged about this exact thing.)  He talked about using Christ's love in our lives, not to just accept him and revere him.  Not just to be in awe.  Not just to say "I love Christ" but to show it with out actions.

And that's when I felt it.  The familiar warmth and stirring of the Holy Spirit.  It felt like home.

My husband felt it too.  Thank God! 

We'll be going back next Sunday when the congregation will be fuller.  Last Sunday, all the young families were away since it was Fall Break, so we'll see if we still feel the connection, but I'm praying that our journey is over and that we've found our church family.

It isn't a Lutheran church and yes that does worry me a bit, not because I think people have to be Lutheran.  I don't think there is a "right" denomination.  What worries me is the stereotype that the Baptist church has and how it clashes with our views on certain subjects that the ELCA church is much more open minded about.  But I realize I'm not being fair.  I'm putting all Baptists churches and therefore all Baptists into this bubble.  Not fair.  So I'm praying for my own open-mindedness as we continue to attend this church.  I'm also praying that the details (how they do communion, how my son will eventually do communion, ect.) won't serve as a stumbling block if this is where God wants us.

So what's the point in this long post? 

1.  If God wants you somewhere, keep searching until you find that place.  This could be a certain church, or maybe a certain job, or a certain city, but if you feel unrest about your current situation, pray and ask for guidance.

2.  The journey is worth it.  Keep at it, no matter how exhausting it becomes. 

3.  You really do need to find a church, not because going to church gets you into heaven (it doesn't - only by accepting Christ's sacrifice are you absolved from sin and therefore able to enter and enjoy the perfection of Heaven), but because you really need a community to nourish your soul, help you grow and learn about your faith.

4.  There are TONS of awesome churches and awesome people.  If you've ever said something like, "Look at that person.  They're suppose to be a Christian and they just cut off that car in traffic.  See?  I told you religion is ridiculous.  There's no point in even going to church, everyone is a hypocrite,"  get your butt into a church.  Seriously.  You'll see that - yes, no one is perfect and even us Christians cut people off in traffic - there are people trying, really trying to show their love of Christ through there words and actions.  They're are people, Christians, who really will try their hardest to make you feel welcome.  In all the churches we went to - and we went to A LOT - the people always did what they could to make us feel like we truly belong, so stop the excuses and get into a church.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Review of the Pope's Latest Comments

Wow.  Just Wow.

Have you read this?


As someone who was baptised and confirmed in the Catholic church, someone who was forced to sit through all of the CCD classes from childhood to my teenage years, I never thought a Pope would say the things stated in this article.

The Catholic church sometimes has a rather conservative hardcore reputation.  You may think of nuns slapping their student's hands with rulers, or Catholic children reciting their prayers over and over in order to pass their confirmation classes.  Then there is the more notorious side of the Catholic church with priest scandals, declarations against homosexuality and abortion.  You may have heard the statistics that the Catholic church is steadily losing members.  Maybe you associate it with an institution and not a church at all.

Then the current Pope comes out with this amazing article in the New York Times, addressing why he hasn't made comments about homosexuality and abortion.  From the article:

Francis told the interviewer, a fellow Jesuit: “It is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time. The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent. The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently.

“I see the church as a field hospital after battle,” Francis said. “It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars. You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else.”

It wasn't a new doctrine.  He wasn't saying that Catholics should change their views on these sorts of issues.  Instead, he made an amazing statement about love, hope and expanding the church from a few to many.

“A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality,” he told Father Spadaro. “I replied with another question: ‘Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?’ We must always consider the person.” 

Wow.  Seriously.  For me, this is an amazing message of hope, a step in the right direction of preaching and teaching love above anything else.  And notice how he speaks.  He isn't condemning, or even changing the vision of the Catholic church.  He's reaching out to the hurt in a way that is kind and respectful.

This is what I've talked about in the past, especially when I wrote my blog on homosexuality.  We can disagree about issues, but it's how you present your arguments that causes conversation or shouting.  I believe the Pope started a conversation, one far over due in the Catholic church. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Where were you?

Twelve years ago, I was 17 years old and a freshman at college.  The day started as any other.  I was getting ready to head to classes when a hallmate rushed past my door and said that a plane just flew into one of the World Trade Center Towers.

I had no reaction whatsoever.  I don't know why but as she passed I just stood there unsure if she were even telling the truth.  The idea that a plane flew into a building just didn't seem possible.  Another hallmate passed a few seconds later telling me to turn on the television because the tower just collapsed.  That's when it became real.  I quickly turned on the television and closed my dorm room door, leaving me alone to watch the events unfold. 

The next bit of time is somewhat of a blur for me.  I remember seeing the imagine of the second tower, black and grey smoke rising high into the sky, then all of a sudden it crashed to the ground.  I remember watching footage of the plane going into the towers, seeing names of the passengers as well as their ages scrolling across the bottom of the screen.  I remember one passenger was a six year old girl.  I remember finally opening my door and catching a friend as she walked down the hall to tell her the news. 

The University issued an email that said classes for the day would go on unless canceled by the professors.  I had two classes that day and neither were canceled, which I thought was stupid and ridiculous.  I certainly didn't want to go, but went because I was a freshman and that's what you did at college.  You go to class.

It didn't help that I was an engineering student.  One of my professors wanted to talk about the structure of the Trade centers and how the engineering designs failed under the stress of the fire.  The other had a niece in the Trade Center.  She couldn't get a hold of her niece and spent the first five minutes of class crying, then wiped her eyes, and continued with the syllabus as if it were a normal day.

I suppose everyone deals with these types of things differently.

The next memory I have is of watching the President addressing the nation.  I sat on my bed, legs crossed, journal in hand, taking notes.  I felt sick to my stomach watching the President talk because I knew we were going to war.  I prayed - I wasn't talking to God much in those days - that somehow we could avoid war, but knew it wouldn't happen.  I cried because I had friends in the military and knew they'd be deployed - they were and thankfully also returned home.

I don't remember asking why God could let this happen, although I would in the months to follow.  I just remember begging God to heal as many as quickly as possible.

I don't remember many things else from that day.  I tucked it away, unable to process everything. 

Where were you twelve years ago?  What do you remember?