Uncensored, unedited me!

Reflective

Three things make me reflective: 1) engagements, 2) babies and 3) birthdays. The first two are other peoples and the last is my own.

My birthday is slowly approaching, I’ll be 33 in 38 days (if my math is correct). Friends and relatives are getting engaged, planning weddings and popping out babies. If I focus on these I’m sad. I’m 32 and very single. I’m not a fake single, those with a significant other but no commitment. Its been a year and 8 months since I’ve been on a date and before that it was 8 years, so it could be said that I handle the single life well. And I do for the most part.

I have a good job, something that keeps me busy and something I have passion about. I’m happy. I have good friends at work, in KC and spread all over the world. I have a loving family, a roof over my head and a working vehicle. I have great hobbies and outlets for my creativity and am happy.

But I do have this part of my life that sometimes makes me sad. I don’t really like being single. I know that the person for me is out there but I do wonder if I will ever meet him.

One of my friends on Facebook posted a cryptic message about God saying no or not yet about something important to her. She asked for people to tell her stories when God was faithful. I started to think about my employment journey: being fired, being unemployed for so long, and then getting a job and moving. I waited so long for a job and then God put me into a job that has taught me so much. God was faithful and his plan was perfect. I need to remember these things when I start to doubt God in the area of romantic love, weddings and babies.

Sometimes being reflective is helpful. God’s timing is perfect, perhaps I can remember that when loneliness knocks again…..

Our God

Do you ever have one of those days where you wake up singing a song? This morning I woke with Our God by Chris Tomlin, literally coming out of my mouth. It was absolutely awesome. 

Finding a church in a new town has been difficult because I want something particular and I’m not finding it. I’m looking for great worship and community and I’m not finding it. I’m become hardened through this process and getting the motivation to go to church is difficult. I even feel like I’m losing part of myself. My faith is as strong as ever because I’m becoming a person who is immersed in God daily. 

Every morning I get up, get dressed and greet the sun coming up over the horizon. I get to see the sunrise on my way to work every day and I am awed at the beauty and glory of God. I pray on my way to work and I worship right along with K-LOVE. When inevitably some person cuts me off or does something idiotic, after my heart slows down, I thank God for giving me good brakes and making me an defensive driver. During the day I’ll thank God or pray for one of my co-workers or the individuals I work with. Then on the way home it’s more of God’s amazing creation. I love the city, but I am beginning to love rural Missouri as well. The open fields and glorious animals are awesome to see. There is a great Park on my drive and in Fall it was glorious, now it’s a little dead but I cannot wait to see what it looks like in spring. God greets me daily and I speak with him and marvel at his glory and beauty and we are close. 

But I still miss church. Sunday mornings I get up at a decent time and meet God in devotionals and Christian music. God still speaks to me but I know I’m missing out by worshiping in my apartment by myself and not in community with others. 

But I also feel like this is our time together to get me ready to go back out there and search for a church. God knows my heart is hardened and that I need this time to rejuvenate, so that when I go back out there my heart will be open to hear what and where God wants me. 

A few months back he gave one of his children a message for me, “there is someone, somewhere that is ready and waiting for your help. There is a church that needs you and is ready for your help.” I have to find this church, I know that but I also know that this isn’t the time, but that time is getting closer, because a month ago I didn’t remember this prophecy. But slowly God has been reminding me of my passion and making it evident that even though I have a job, I need to pursue my passion because God gave that to me. He is cultivating me to be the person that can help others, he’s getting me ready.

So even though I sometimes feel guilty, I know that right now, it’s okay. I’ll be back when I’m ready. For now I’m going to enjoy my time with Our God. 

I’m soon going to get back to my morning devotional but before I do, I wanted to share just a few lines from the song I woke up singing this morning. I hope you’ll see in it what I did, that this time I’m taking is important. If not I hope you’ll see a message for yourself. God often speaks to us through songs, books, and other people. I hope you have a great Sunday and that you spend a little time getting a little closer to God.

“Into the darkness you shine, out of the ashes we rise……And if our God is for us, who could ever stop us”

2013 What a year!?!

I don’t know about you but I get really reflective at the beginning of a new year. I look back and see what happened in the previous year and where I am today. 

The most exciting thing of 2013 was moving to Missouri and getting a job. 2 significant things that changed things for me late in the year. At the end of January I will reach my 90 days at work. An achievement to be sure. I still really like my job. There are days when I feel like I am in in my stride and know what I am doing and then days where I still have no clue what to do. It’s very interesting. 

2013 Also brought changes to the family. One of the saddest was the loss of Grandma Shirley. I spent most of today watching The Ghost Whisperer which is a good show but I don’t recommend it if you have recently lost someone, talk about depressing. I cried at the end of every episode and am crying now deeply feeling the loss of a woman I loved wholeheartedly. No grandmas left :(……

2013 Brought other changes to the family like heartache and complete disbelief. I mean you think you know someone (sorry to be cryptic but it’s not my story to tell, nor did it really happen to me….it just happened to a great woman and her awesome kids that I love and the betrayal is still shocking to my core…but again not my story so that will be the last I say about it.).

2013 Also brought great joy in the form of my younger sister getting married. It was a great celebration and Jeff was a  great addition to the family and I thoroughly enjoyed his company this Christmas. 

I finished my 2nd Masters but there was hold up with people dropping the ball and I’m still waiting to receive my degree. Very annoying but luckily it didn’t hold up me getting my job so it’s all good. 

My health was pretty good. I mean I wasn’t hospitalized that year which is a feat in itself. There were no surgeries and the only time I was in the ER was for work :). That’s pretty good. I did have some gluten issues but that was only when I wasn’t supremely careful which even now I make a mistake and only know it after the fact…its annoying but luckily infrequent. I do have migraines pretty frequently which I still blame on that stupid accident and I still pass the occasional kidney stone and have the occasional kidney infection but nothing too serious (its all relative).

Life in 2013 had ups and downs but I still have my health and a car that works, a roof over my head and a family that I love. I’m still single and I live alone and I don’t know my neighbors but there’s always next year, right? 

I hope your year had more ups than downs as well and that this year will bring new goals reached, new joys surpassed, and new adventures. :)

I love the Christmas season, it’s a time of hanging out, seeing family and my favorite playing board games! What I don’t love about Christmas is Christmas Hymns and Church services before Christmas. I cannot stand them, I cannot stand them so much that I actually skip church during the month of December and listen to old pod-casts and my Christian music favorites. Don’t worry, I feel guilty about this but I ask for God’s forgiveness and move on. I’ll be back in the New Year when sermons return to relate-able topics and move past the virgin, the inn, and the newborn babe. I just don’t know how churches stretch this for so long. Seriously?

I know I’m hard on Pastors and churches at this time of year, mainly because I’ve been in the church since before I came out of the womb and sitting in a pew for 32 years listening to the same boring music and the same sermons about the baby Jesus is a bit much for me. Can’t we move beyond it? I know I could try to get beyond my bah-humbug church feelings and show up on a Sunday morning ready to worship but the truth is, once that first hymn is sung after Thanksgiving it’s over for me. I’m annoyed and I bring that to the service. The only service I don’t mind singing Christmas music for is Christmas Eve. Until then I can handle the occasional Christmas song on the radio but once they play 2 in a row I’m onto the next station.

I know this is crazy and that Jesus had to be born this way so that he could die later that way. I get it. I know the theology, I know the Scripture stories. I can tell you everything you need to know about the baby Jesus and his parents and the angels that came and I can sing you every verse of the favorite hymns over and over again without looking at the words. I want something fresh at Christmas, not retired old sermons that I could repeat for you, year after year. I want something new, and since I know I’m not going to get that at church, this close to Christmas I stay at home and keep my bah-humbug ways to myself and listen to podcasts of previous sermons until Christmas Eve and then I am full on Christmas spirit and ready to hear all about the baby boy that saves us.

Until then, you’ll find me home on a Sunday morning listening to Christian music and old sermons. And trust me, you wouldn’t want me in your church during this time of year, I’m much more critical than any other time :).

My new Job

Ever since I got my new job everyone has been asking if I like it or not and I realized that I haven’t shared much about it. Some of that has to do with fear, fear of losing a job I like and some of that has to do with HIPPA and sharing just enough but not too much.

So let’s start with the fear. My last job was ridiculous, lots of pressure for no reason. Sure students taking tests are important but not that important. This job is really important. I’m advocating for people that need help advocating for themselves, I’m part of the checks and balances system that makes sure that they are being treated like people and that they are safe, have comfort, are healthy and have some security. My job is important and I really like doing it and I don’t want to lose it. I’m still in that 90 day period which was when I got fired from my old job. The first 30 days of this job I was on edge, because I made myself that way. No one else did that. I did it to myself. My boss is very nice and she keeps reassuring me at every turn. I’ve settled a little bit because I’m learning the ropes and things are making sense and my case load is starting to grow. Plus my co-workers allow for an atmosphere that allows you  to ask questions and to learn more and more as you go. I love that.

HIPPA is a system of importance but it makes sharing things about my job kind of ridiculous but I can give you some generalities without any specifics :). Most of the time I work in an office with right now 13 on my case load with an eventuality of possibly 30. I make sure that all the paperwork is done for Medicaid, Medicare, and DMH (Department of Mental Health). I also check on my people and go and visit them throughout the year. The frequency of my visits depends on each individual’s personal plan. I visit them in their home, at their work, or at an activity center. I visit with them to make sure that they: are safe, are comfortable, have security (has more to do with money than with safety) and that their health needs are being met.

The people on my caseload are awesome. And they are PEOPLE! They are not their disability. How we talk about people matters.

My office is actually in the same building as the Sheltered Workshop which gives jobs to individuals that can work and choose to do that in an atmosphere that is built for them. Some work in the job prep section that teaches them how to do the job. Some work on finish work like making tables for those in the workshop or making things to be sold in craft shows. Some work in the section that does all the recycling. They work hard and they make a wage. The finishing area is where the ice machine is located so I see the individuals that work in there more often than those that work out in the recycling center. I talk with them every day and they tell me about what they are working on with such pride.  It’s awesome and they look forward to seeing me everyday. It really is nice.

I like my job. I understand it’s importance. I have a 2nd cousin named Brianna who has Sturge-Weber. She had a Hemispherectomy a few years ago and it really helped her because she was able to learn where previously that was not a possibility and it stopped her seizures. I love her. She loves to do all the fun things: watch Disney movies, color, and play with animals and kids. She’s fun. She’s 18 or so (sorry I can’t remember) but functions more like a 12 year old. In the days of the Habilitation Centers she would have been dropped off at the front gate of a large facility and never picked up again.

There is a Habilitation Center in the town of Marshall, where I work, and it saddens me. Luckily it is no longer used as a habilitation center and it is slowly closing it’s doors. It has a long history that saddens me, people simply didn’t know what to do with people with disabilities but that is not how we treat people and they are learning that there are better ways to treat individuals.

I’m really glad that the life of the Habilitation Center is not the life for Brianna and I’m really glad that I look out for people and make sure that it is never again. I love that individuals are given every freedom that they can possibly have. Some live on their own in apartments, or in their own homes. Some live with other people in group homes, like having house mates. And some simply cannot live on their own and need full time care and provided that in the least restrictive environment as possible. We work to do the best for each individual and we do what is best for them based on their needs.

I really like my job and I’m hoping to do a good job and keep it. So far, so good. This week we are hosting a Winter Ball and it should be a lot of fun.

Here is a photo of the old Habilitation Center (remember these people were just housed and were not allowed to do really anything, they lived and died on this land). 

Here’s a link to an old article that explains the closing down of Habilitation Centers: article

So that’s my job. I don’t provide services but I make sure that people are receiving the services that they need so that they can live a full quality life.

Church Shopping Week 3

Last week I had the flu so I didn’t go to church at all but this morning I attended a church that was recommended to me by someone I work with so. Today I give you:

First Christian Church of Sedalia, MO

I told my co-worker what I was looking for in a church: people in my age range, contemporary music and a community I could get connected to. I did tell him I was picky, because try as I might I can find anything wrong with any service because I sit there and say to myself, “wow you went that way with that” or “I would have done it this way.” It is extremely difficult to turn that part of myself off and to really focus on the church and the service.

I did feel a little pressure to like this church because I had been invited by my boss’s boss. But when I arrived I talked to myself in the car and told myself to just check it out, without the pressure and to just see how it went.

When I arrived I went in the opposite door, on the complete other side of building where the service was to be held. And instead of aimlessly wondering around the building, I went to the first group of people I found and asked them where the 11:00 service was and then the Children’s Minister kindly walked me to the room and gave me a visitor card to fill out and a pen to keep. It was very painless and I was very grateful that she actually walked me there instead of just saying, “it’s on the other side of the building.” So they definitely get welcome points.

Alright, back to the format: (to visit the first in this series click here and for the second week in the series click here)

  1. Welcome 5. A very welcoming bunch of people. At my old church I always groaned when the pastor, my father, would ask us to turn and greet someone new, because hello I knew everyone. But this morning when the pastor asked us to greet someone new all I had to do was turn around in a circle and greet everyone in the circle. Very nice indeed. Before the service began the pastor came and introduced himself which was nice and like I said the Children’s Minister walked me down to the fellowship hall, where the service was being held. Very nice indeed.
  2. Ease of flow 4. I did actually find an entrance outside, it just wasn’t the entrance I needed, but had I been going to the first service it would have been the correct entrance because the Sanctuary was right off that entrance. If I think back to my old church their entrances could easily have the same difficulty as this church. Since I was coming from the north side of town I parked on the north side of the church. I didn’t even see the south side entrance, where the service was held. Had I gone over there, perhaps there would have been an easily visible entrance. You almost need signs at each entrance telling you where you are headed. So 1st service head to the sanctuary and 2nd service head down to fellowship hall ie keep walking straight. Besides posting signs or people at each entrance I’m not sure how you combat this issue of too many entrances but with help I easily found where I was going and I could easily find my way out.
  3. Age range and size. From what I could see (I was sitting towards the back but not all the way in the back) there was a nice mix of ages and about 50 people present. There were some older people but there ages were probably in the late 60s early 70s. There were quite a few in the 50s and even more in their 30s-40s. I think there might have been one or 2 in their 20s and then some teens and some young kids. I liked that it had a range of ages. Where I was sitting I was probably sitting with mostly people in their 40s which was nice. There weren’t a lot of men but to be honest I’m looking for church, not a singles club and community will probably be wrought through relationships with women anyway.
  4. Music 4. The music was pretty great. It was contemporary, there was a band and there were one or 2 songs I hadn’t known but the ones I did know, I knew from listening to the radio which was a special treat. The only reason I’m not giving them a 5 is because the soprano sang things that were obviously out of her range. The alto did a great job and I loved that she led a good portion of the songs because her voice was soulful, which was excellent. There were a few moments where she was out of range as well but it wasn’t too bad. The drummer had a solo and there was a woman playing the base. It was really great and fun.
  5. Sermon 5. I really liked the sermon, mainly because it made me think. I even wrote down quite a few notes, which was great.
  6. 6. Overall feel 5. I really liked this service and not just because my boss’s boss recommended it. I really liked the peace that flowed over me and that I got something out of the service. I’m kinda bummed that I won’t be back next week, because I’ll be back in KC for Thanksgiving.

Overall I really enjoyed this church. The two churches I have attended have served communion by intinction which means I don’t even get to participate in even a little bit of communion. Back home I could at least have the juice but that’s not an option when inside the cup is a whole lot of poison to my system. Oh well. What are you gonna do about that? Not much to do except, accept it.

So overall a pretty great service and I look forward to returning in a couple of weeks. :)

Total: 23/25 92% not too shabby :)

Church Shopping: Week 2

My first week in the series: Church Shopping: Week 1

Today I went back to Broadway Presbyterian Church and it was worse than last week.

I had high hopes as I got up and got dressed this morning. I was hoping to see younger faces, hear better music and be filled with great words from the pastor and I was disappointed on every level.

  • Welcome 4. They were still a very welcoming bunch. They introduced themselves and were overall very pleasant.
  • Ease of which to follow 3. Things were a little easier to follow this morning. They had a worship team who led all the songs. They did a pretty good job but most of the songs were out of the leaders range so as a worship goer it was worse. The service I attended last week had probably about 50 people in it. This week we were down to maybe 25. And they all sit on the same side of the sanctuary. When I came in, a new person not knowing this rule, I sat on the wrong side. I was going to be rebellious and sit on that side but when two people came up to me and said that basically I was sitting on the wrong side I decided to move. What would have been better, is if the people that had been attending for awhile decided to conform to the new person. I know that is completely out of our comfort zones but when a new person shows up it is much better to put them at ease than to make them feel weird and out of place. They should have just adjusted to what I was doing, but oh well. There was no offering this morning which I thought was weird and there is no formal acknowledgement or directions that you need to sign the attendance pads. These are little things but when you are new to a church/service, the little things are all that count.
  • Age range and size. I already noted that the size was smaller than their other service. The age range is pretty bad. There were about 5 kids under 10. There were 2 teenagers. There was 1 32 year old (me). I would say there were 4 or 5 in their 40s and 50s and the rest were 60-90. I’m looking to join a church to build community. I mean sure it would be nice to meet and marry but that’s not the goal. The goal is to have somewhere, where I can contribute in some way, where I can meet people in my age range 25-40, and where I can get something. I want the give and take but I want there to be that opportunity. In this church that’s just not a possibility.
  • Music 4. They were playing contemporary music and I knew all but one of the songs we sang. They did not execute it very well and it was obvious that they probably got together that morning for the first time singing the songs but for a small church they did pretty well. I do have to say another annoying thing about the music was that they printed in the bulletin every word for the songs but we didn’t sing it all. For instance, we sang one of my favorite’s this morning, “Hungry” by Kathryn Scott but we only sang about half the song. That was really annoying. I love that song.
  • Sermon 2. I was really hoping the sermon would be good this morning but it, like the rest of the service, fell flat. It was disjointed and really didn’t go anywhere. I felt like he had ADD. It was really disappointing.
  • Overall feel 2. I just don’t feel like this is the church for me. I was hoping it would be but I’m going to have to go church shopping again next week and I don’t know what church I’m going to go to. Any ideas?

There was a bonus this week and that was that they announced that they were going to add two people to the second service that would lead the hymns which I thought was really great. They need that and they recognized the need.

Overall very disappointing and I won’t be returning. Also they are not having the contemporary service for the next 6 weeks. What’s up with that?

Overall score this week: 15/25 60%

It was definitely a fail.

Oh well on to the next….

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