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Posts tagged ‘God’

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”

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….

Church Shopping: Week 1

Today I went to my first church in Sedalia. I wish that the first church I went to was the church I stuck with but the visit this morning has me doubting that will happen.

So instead of just telling you how it went or what I thought, I thought I would turn it into a Church Shopping  blog series. That way I can continue to update you as I continue to experience churches. Plus I thought this would help me turn disappointing churches into fun blogs to write. There’s nothing worse than sitting down and realizing within minutes that you don’t want to be there. Such an experience happened to me this morning but I said a little prayer and asked God to help me get through the service and out popped this idea for a blog series.

In this series I will name the church, and talk about particular points and ratings for each individual church.

The points will be

  • The welcoming atmosphere
  • Ease of which to follow
  • Age range and size of congregation in attendance
  • Music
  • Sermon
  • And over all feel

There might be bonus points that I go over as well but those could change week to week so there’s no point in bringing them up now.

The ratings will be on a scale of 1-5 (1 being they’re missing the mark, and 5 meaning they’re doing it just right). This is of course a subjective system and is only reliant upon my opinion.  You might be offended by my ratings and if so invite me back to you church and I’ll give it another try.

I decided this morning that each church will get 2 weeks to impress upon me it’s ways. I thought 1 week might be unfair because people have off weeks and so church’s might too because after-all they are made up of people.  Plus if like today’s church they have another service to attend I would like to give that a try. So with that said let’s get down to the first church in the series.

Broadway Presbyterian Church of Sedalia, MO

It must be said that I didn’t really like their website but this church is .6 miles from my apartment so I figured I could walk there on nice days. Today was a cold and windy day but I walked anyway. It was chilly but I made it and I got to see more of the town I now call home.

I went to the 10:30 service and I’m glad I did because their 8:30 service was not actually held today. This might be a good thing to put up on their website. If I had tried to go to that service this week I would have been disappointed.

Anyway, I walked in the church which was actually much harder to do than I thought. The front of the church had doors but they were all closed, probably because of the cold, so I just assumed I couldn’t go in that way. When I walked to the back none of the doors were clearly marked even though that is where there main parking is. I that once in the building it was clearly marked which way was to the sanctuary but I would have preferred a sign outside. My church back home has it clearly marked on the outside of the building which entrance is the main entrance. It is the one under the “Welcome Home” sign.

Let’s get to the points of discussion and rating.

  • Welcome 4. When I speak of “Welcome” I mean were the people welcoming. Yes they were. I had 3 separate people invite me to the after church coffee social that I didn’t want to attend. I had the same 3 people try to find out information about me and to invite me to go the weekly dinner (that I work too late for) and the weekly Women’s Bible Study. Which I thought was really great. The pastor even came up to me when Communion was being done (intinction style) and asked if I wanted him to serve me. But I’ll come back to the that in the bonus. Overall I found the church very welcoming so I gave them a 4.
  • Ease of which to follow 2. When I say, “ease of which to follow” what I mean is can I easily find the entrance, can I easily follow the music, is there an atmosphere in the service’s flow that makes me feel welcome? I have to say that they failed at this. They are a welcoming group but not being able to find the entrance to the church is kind of a big deal. The entrance I did find had me going in through the doors at the front of the sanctuary (ie stage area) so everyone that was already seated got to watch me walk to the back of the sanctuary where I wanted to sit. It was kinda creepy. The bulletin was also not easy to follow or understand so I was at the beginning stumbling quite a bit. And the hymns we sang no clear voice was leading it and the pace for at least the first one was off, so that by the end of the song people were ending on different words. It was so bad I stopped singing. Also when it was time to sing a hymn they gave you no time to find the hymn. I need at least a few seconds to find a hymn please.
  • Age range and size (there’s no rating for this I’ll just give you the range and size). The age range in general terms was 0-90. But that’s not taking into account that they have no 20 somethings, 5 30 somethings including me, and the rest of the congregation fits into the 50-90 range. So not a lot of people in my age range and those that were, were married couples with little kids. The 3 people I had conversations with were in the 60-80 range. Not that there’s anything wrong with an older congregation but let’s get real. I’m young and would like to hang out with people in my age range. Even at my previous church the people I hung out with met the 30-60 range. But there was a range. I need the range. I need people my age in attendance so that I can have a community that has range. The size of the congregation in attendance today was probably 50 people. It’s a small congregation but this is a small town so that is to be expected.
  • Music 3. The choir was good and the instruments that were played were good. But it’s not my style. Their earlier 8:30 service I have been told is contemporary so I will be checking that out next week. I like contemporary music and style because it’s easy to follow and I understand the words and can easily find meaning in the songs. Hymns for me are an older style that I cannot get into because I have to stop and read the words and then find out the meaning of the song. I know hardly any hymns and the way they were played today is definitely not my style. But like I said the choir did a good job and they deserve props for the music that they sang.
  • Sermon 4. I was actually quite surprised by the sermon. I mean the pastor is still wearing robes, and the music was so old I figured I was in for a real snooze fest but he was actually really relate-able and interesting. The sermon was all about being careful and thoughtful when you speak because we cannot take back our words. He told good stories and even though he spoke from the podium he did so without a manuscript which I thought was great. He also pulled out a guitar at the end of the service and played some of the songs with the organ. It was an interesting sound combination but I like that he tried to bring the service some contemporary pieces.
  • Overall Feel 3. I didn’t feel out of place in the service but I did at the beginning have to talk myself out of leaving or even leaving early. I had to convince myself that it would be worthwhile to stick around. I’m glad I stayed for the whole service. I’m not sure I would attend this particular service again but I look forward to giving their contemporary service another try next week.

Bonus: Communion. They had communion today by intinction (dipping the bread into the juice/wine), which with a smaller congregation you can get away with that. The deacons served the meal and then the pastor walked around serving it to the older members who were not able to go the front. Before the whole thing began the pastor mentioned he had a gluten free option which I thought was really cool. I was going to go up but when he came around I noticed that the gluten free option was on a plate right next to the bread! EEK! And that the gluten free option (rice cake) was going to be dipped into the same juice as those with bread! EEK! EEK! I politely declined knowing that God would understand that I’d rather not poison myself today. I thought it was cool that they offered the option but they obviously need some more education about gluten free and how to properly serve it.

Bonus: Cute kid. There was a little girl being baptized today and she screamed through out the whole thing. She even grabbed the pastor’s mic (wire on face) and tried to pull it off. She was cute but her brother was cuter. After the sermon her 3 year old brother kept saying, “All Done.” He said it so much I was beginning to think the same thing. This service should have been “all done” quite a while ago. It was super cute.

All in all it wasn’t too painful but I’m holding judgement until I see what their contemporary service is like.

For today their total score is: 16/25 64%

God’s Time

This blog started out as a Facebook status update but when it got to be a paragraph long I realized it needed to be a blog.

My reward for 5 cover letters, resumes, and applications written/filled out this evening: reading a good book. I know God has his plan, and I know in that plan is my job.

I know this in the absence of a job because he continues to care for me. I continue to receive money and I continue to be energized instead of depressed. I continue to feel the drive to write. I also feel the drive to apply for the job I want.

In the beginning of my job search I applied for any and all jobs. I applied for jobs in and out of my field and I felt the drain. Day in and out I was drained by applying to jobs I was hoping I would never get. Once I stopped doing that, once I narrowed in on the jobs I wanted, once I only applied for the jobs I was driven to get, I stopped feeling drained.

I started to fall in love with positions and I started seeing similar positions everywhere.

I’ve started some traveling journals with close friends in my life, people that I hope continue to be close with as lives get more complicated. One of these friends has already sent it back to me. She asked me what kind of positions I’m applying for. I’m applying for positions in nonprofits that work with domestic and sexual violence victims. I apply for jobs that have me interacting with the women and allow for an aspect of teaching.

I love all the jobs I apply for but I’m not depressed. You might ask yourself, “how is this possible? She’s not getting interviews or call backs. It’s been 5 months how can she not be depressed? Especially when she falls in love with all the jobs.”

To be honest I’m surprised myself but the truth of the matter is that I’m at peace. Weird I know but also the truth. Each new job I read about sounds more awesome than the last. I want all the jobs I apply for. I don’t know how many places I’ve applied to, because I’m not keeping track. If I went back in my sent email box I’m sure I could tell you but I like my peace so I don’t think I will.

God is in control and this process has taught me that. I’m just waiting for My Job and I know I won’t get a job until My Job comes. So I’m at peace knowing that its out there. Don’t get me wrong I do ask God when that job will come and if he could speed things up a bit. But I’m at peace actively waiting for his job for me.

So I continue to apply. Tonight I applied for jobs in Washington state, in Maryland, in Kansas and Missouri. Most are for Domestic and Sexual Violence Advocate and Prevention Specialist.

Doesn’t that sound awesome! I’m energized just thinking about it! And that feeling is why I continue my search, that feeling is why I’m not depressed. That feeling is why I’m at peace.

God is in control and I’m excited to find My Job!

Now I’m gonna read my book and have a good night’s sleep because I’m in God’s hands waiting in his time for the right job for me.

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Hero: What’s Your Definition?

TNT has a new show that will star THE ROCK called THE HEROFrom the previews I’ve seen of this show it looks a lot like FEAR FACTOR or some other stunt show. In one of the previews I have seen they have linked being a hero to that of being an athlete.

It’s funny, if you read the bios of the contestants you see that some of them are already heroes, like the single mother of the deaf son or the police officer. They are already heroes but are going on this show to prove they are heroes by doing ridiculous stunts. Isn’t it enough to be a hero in real life?

Why does performing several different kinds of stunts make you a hero? They say there will be a moral component to the show but I don’t see how that will factor in.

When you think of heroes who do you think of first?

  • Just this past week in Moore, OK there were many heroes: the teacher who huddled with her kids, the first responders who searched for victims, the people that dug others out of rubble praying that the victim would be alive when they reached them, etc. And there will be many more heroes that come forth as the time goes on. If I were searching for a hero in this case it would be the people that act without thinking, the people that do what they’ve been trained to do and the people that put others needs before their own. How do you possibly measure that on some reality TV show?
  • Memorial Day is coming up, who are the heroes that fought for our freedom? I have plenty of friends and loved ones that have served our country either here in the states or abroad. The people I know gave up their cushy lifestyle not for fame or fortune but because they felt a duty, because they felt called to fight for others. The winners of this reality TV show will get fame and fortune, if they were a real hero wouldn’t they give that up?
  • When we’re little we think of our parents as heroes as they save us from car accidents (you know the whole step on the break and put an arm across your body to hold you in your seat thing). They save us from skinned knees and teach us valuable lessons. What will a bunch of spoiled people on TV teach us about ourselves and life in general? 

The ultimate question in my mind is what does TNT think being a HERO means? It’s pretty obvious to me, every time I see the commercial advertising this new dumb show that they have no idea what it means to be a real hero or what it takes to be a hero.

The dictionary defines a hero as, “a man (obviously they are not very enlightened, substitute person for man) of distinguished courage or ability, admired for brave deeds and noble qualities.” (found on 5/22/2013 @ 6:18pm on dictionary.com). It also says that the person who is seen as a hero then becomes the “model or ideal” that we all look up to and want to become.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to become some yahoo who wins some dumb prize on a reality show. I’d rather be someone who risks their life for mine. I’d rather be someone like Mother Teresa who sacrificed herself for others, or the teacher from Moore, OK or a first responder or someone who puts others before themselves.

I know the Sunday school answer is, “I wanna be like Jesus.” After all he was a pretty good hero. He died for our sins and he healed the sick. He traveled with and talked to the outsiders of the world and he worked hard to change people’s opinions.

I don’t want to be like some unknown person who goes on a reality TV show and turns the word HERO into some lame thing. I want to be like Jesus, Mother Teresa, the teacher, the first responders, the armed forces. I aspire to be the person who does things not for recognition or for fortune and fame but rather because it is right and there was never a thought to do anything different.

A short definition of a hero is someone ordinary doing extraordinary things. It’s someone who puts others first, someone who does what’s right not for fame but because it is right.

The picture I’ve attached is a picture of the heroes I want to look up to. It’s ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

Ordinary people rescuing other people: HEROES!

Ordinary people rescuing other people: HEROES! (taken from http://www.businessinsider.com/inspiring-images-from-moore-oklahoma-2013-5)

To see more photos go to: http://www.businessinsider.com/inspiring-images-from-moore-oklahoma-2013-5

Maybe I’m wrong, maybe the show will be better than I think it will be, maybe these contestants will prove through stunts and fake challenges what it means to be a hero but either way I’m going to aspire to be the ordinary who steps up to do the extraordinary and leave the reality TV kind of hero to someone else.

Aspire to be a real hero…..not with stunts but in real life when the going gets incredibly tough.

A Year In Review: Laura Knowles Cavanaugh

A Year In Review

by Laura Knowles Cavanaugh

  1. Where were you one year ago from today? And how did you see yourself in a year? A year ago today, I was married just over a year and living in Santa Barbara less than a year. My husband and I were still looking for a church community and I had been unsuccessfully applying for jobs in the area to supplement the part-time work I was already doing from home. I was still recovering from an intense season of burnout and had just undergone a series of medical tests to rule out any medical contribution to my extreme and prolonged fatigue. I would have described myself as tired and isolated but also happy as a newlywed. At that point, I couldn’t summon the energy to project into the future very far and could not imagine what would come a year from then. I knew I would still be married, and I hoped we wold be moving to a different area of the country–preferably one with a lower cost of living and a different community/church environment. The energy I did have I put into building my blog platform and shaping my voice at Holistic Body Theology Blog. I alternated between feeling invested and successful at blogging and feeling drained and like I was wasting my time. Sometimes I felt ready to close it down altogether because I wasn’t getting the return I wanted for all the energy I invested in writing.
  2. Where are you today? What has actually changed from where you saw yourself? Today I am in a very different place. My energy level is at about 80-90%, and I have learned by trial and error how to carefully balance life’s demands so that my energy can sustain me throughout the day. I am still married and loving every minute. We passed the two-year mark and are officially boring married people now and no longer newlyweds. I’m still living in the same tiny studio apartment after a couple of almost-moves out of the area, and it does not look like we will be moving anytime soon. This means I will very likely continue to be without a real community of God that I can invest in as my husband and I have as yet been unsuccessful in finding a good fit. What I certainly could not imagine a year ago was that I would go through a training program to become a spiritual director. That was a whirlwind experience but also very rich and stretching. Now I’m in a place of discerning what effect (if any) this training will have on my blog and online presence and whether I will open up a spiritual direction practice or just use what I’ve learned int he positions I already hold.
  3. Where do you see God’s blessings?  I see that God was giving me the time and opportunity I needed to really rest and recover in a way that I would never have allowed myself if I had stayed single or stayed living in Pasadena where I had more work opportunities. I think I would have probably ended up being hospitalized because I would have literally worked myself to that desperate state. Even though I was discouraged at not having more work or more of a community to be involved in, I see those circumstances now as preparing me to come to the place of pursuing spiritual direction. If i had been busier and more satisfied in my current setting, I would not have begun asking the deep questions and sensing the restlessness that led to going to Arizona for training. I also think if I had given up on my blog sooner, I would have missed out on some connections I’ve made through it that I hadn’t expected. Those connections encouraged me to keep writing and keep stretching myself. I learned that it doesn’t take much to motivate me to try again or not to give up, but I do need confirmation and encouragement from my community to keep giving my all.
  4. What advice or inspirational words can you give to someone in your same position? There are so many directions I could take this question.
  • I would say, listen to your body, to your desires, and to your community.
  • If you need to rest, then rest. If you need to push onward, keep going.
  • If you need to take a different path, have courage! You know more than you think you do.
  • You are more capable than you think you are. There is more in you ready to be realized. Be gentle with yourself.
  • Walk the path where your fear is. Keep walking until you move through the fear into the life that has been waiting for you.
  • Trust others.
  • Invite silence that creates space for God to speak. Be listening.
Laura Knowles Cavanaugh

Laura Knowles Cavanaugh

Haunting Images of Recently Departed

I’ve been working at the hospital as an intern for 6 weeks now and there are some faces that I cannot seem to get out of my head.

There are patients I visit that stay with me for weeks on end. I remember the face of the woman that was run over by a car, I remember her family and the conversation and the prayers we shared. I remember the face of the man who died in hospice and the love family that filled the room and the words and prayers we shared. I remember the face of the woman who had last rights.

I remember the face of man who died this week and the family that was with him. Their faces, their stories stay with me.

There are times where I wish I could get their faces out of my head. Times when the residents at the hospital say that the families they are there for remember their faces but they forget them. I’m not sure how they do that.

Even if my conversation was brief and the person lived I still remember them. It has to be the mind that God gave me. It must be the compassion that lives inside of me.

Almost everyone in my group is certain that is is the kind of work that they want to continue to do. It’s not mine. I can be there for these people, in their moments of deep pain and anguish or in times of crisis but I cannot stay with them for long.

The entire time I sit with families or talk with patients I am trying to escape, trying to leave,  trying to finish the job so that I can go back where I feel safe.

It’s hard to tell people how I am doing because most of the time I am separate from it unless it comes along and slaps me in the face.

I feel broken and bruised and I’m not. My schedule is brutal. Today was my first day off in a while. A day where I didn’t have to go anywhere. A day when the world wasn’t pressing down on me and no one was demanding anything from me. I felt free today. I felt like I got my feet under me and now that I have had this day I can go on, I can gather the strength and courage to go on.

This schedule is brutal but sometimes I am thankful for it. I don’t have time to sit and ponder the things I have done. I don’t have time to ponder the things I haven’t done.

But today I noticed that I’m not taking very good care of myself. I’m not paying attention to how I’m feeling. I’m not paying attention to my emotional health. I’m just going, going, going.

I’m letting the visuals of the people I meet in their most trying times, take over my life away from the hospital. I’m letting them into my life, into my down times and if I’m going to survive this internship with 2 months left to go I better get it together.

I’m just wondering how I can care for myself better. I know I’m not taking care of myself because I’m neglecting everything. I haven’t knitted in weeks. I love to knit, I used to do it weekly with my gals and now I don’t even manage it once a month.

If I’m going to make it I’ve got to find a way to take care of myself and in these times of going, going, going; how I take care of myself may not look like it has in the past.

 

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