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A House of Prayer

I had a new revelation at church this week. Cue the flashing lights and trumpets! Everyone leans forward in their chairs! Because, as we all know, everyone wants to learn about new stuff! But what I actually mean is, God did NOT reveal something other than his Word to me, he revealed something about his Word as it relates to my life. Sorry to disappoint. 🙂

Anyway, the past few weeks, I have felt really BUSY at church. My brain has felt scattered and cluttered, filled with things I need to do while I’m there. I usually walk to church and on that short walk, my mind starts coming up with people I need to talk to when I’m at church and I start planning how I’m going to fit it all in. For instance, this Sunday alone, I had 4 people I needed to talk to about different ministry things, I needed to connect with the other Young Adult leader about some things, I’m the secretary of a committee and needed to confirm a meeting for this Wednesday, AND I had a meeting right after service. It’s a lot to fit in if you count trying to find all the people and talking with everyone else you bump into.

And the problem is, IT’S ALL GOOD STUFF. And it all does need to get done. But by the end of church I was frustrated because first of all, my list wasn’t complete, and secondly, there were other people that were hurting at church and my heart WANTED to talk with those people but because of my “to-do list”, I didn’t have time.

And that’s when my focus cleared up. Verses from Matthew and Mark quickly popped into my head and I realized that I had made church a place of business instead of keeping it a place of worship and prayer. Once my “have-to” stuff became more important than ministering to those that needed it, God quickly convicted my heart. And I’m so thankful he did!

I also realized that there was absolutely no need for those things to be done on Sunday. In my mind, I just always say, “Oh, I’ll see them at church and talk to them then.” BUT I DON’T NEED TO! Why in the world do I have phone calls, texts, and emails if I’m not going to use them?? I don’t NEED to push everything to Sunday because it can be done before then. What I need to do is restructure my mind to think this way and diligently plan ahead of time.

Ok, so maybe this wasn’t a new revelation for you at all. But it was for me. And now I have a list of things to do before Sunday gets here. I’m sure things will still pop up on Sundays but that’s ok. I’m praying my mind and heart will be able to focus a little bit more on the reason I go to church this coming week.

 
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Posted by on September 11, 2018 in church

 

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In Case of Emergency

The other day I had to fill out an online questionnaire. (You have officially read the most boring opening sentence ever.) HAD is the crucial word in that sentence because it was a long, and in my opinion, meaningless, questionnaire but it was something that I really did have to do. I sincerely hope that the people who received it were able to get some sort of information from all the random questions they asked.

Anyway, one of the questions read something like, “In the event of a real emergency, how many people do you have in your life that you could count on to help you?”

Somehow my brain translated that question into “How many people would you call in the event of an emergency?” and I actually answered with 1. I thought of the time I needed to go to the ER and literally all I did was call my best friend, she came home from work to take me in, and contacted all my family. She handled everything. So in my mind I just thought, “Well, I’d call Natalie and go from there.”

I was about to click to the next question when I glanced over it again and realized my error. Oh! How many people could I count on?? That’s a totally different question! The options were 1, 2-5, 6-10, or 11+. Suddenly I knew my answer and at the same time how incredibly blessed I am.

I realized if I REALLY needed someone to help me, not only would my friends and family drop everything and come, but my church family would do the same thing. And the other churches in the area would respond too. How do I know? I’ve experienced it and I seen it over and over again. Suddenly 11+ seemed like waaaaayyy too small of a number for this question.

My guess is that the people reading the questionnaire can probably see how long I spend on each question and if I change my answers. They probably thought I was rigging my answer when it switched from the lowest number to the highest.

Nope. Just remembering the kind of community I have in Christ and what a blessing it is.

 
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Posted by on September 4, 2018 in blessing

 

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Shout-out to Moms

Today was my day off and this morning I was asked last minute if I could help in my church’s VBS nursery. I didn’t really have any pressing plans so I showered really quickly and walked over. I LOVE the nursery by the way. I’ve always loved working with kids and 0-5 is my favorite age. From the time I turned 13 until I moved away from home, I did more babysitting than I can remember. I don’t think a week ever went by that I didn’t babysit for someone or something. And I loved every minute.

But with all the health stuff, it’s been a while since I held some babies so I was more than happy to oblige. Ummm…guys…it was EXHAUSTING! Seriously! I literally can’t believe how tired I am hours later! I’m pretty sure those kids just zapped the energy right out of me!

At one point, I was rocking a sweet baby and yawning (trying hard not to think of the two long hours that I still had to keep awake) and I realized that the other three ladies with me were all moms. The one was causally telling a story about how many times she gets up in the middle of the night to nurse and how many times her other kids wake her up just to ask simple questions. And the others laughed and nodded knowingly.

What??! Here’s the deal. Sleep is and always has been very important to me but even more so now. The little amount I get is a precious thing. I thought about how SO. VERY. TIRED. I am all the stinkin’ time and realized that I just have myself to take care of. And I can barely handle that on some days. And here these moms have all their kids dressed, out the door, and at VBS by 9am AND were talking about going strawberry picking after it was done!! I knew exactly where I was going when it was done and that was to lay on my couch. I sat amazed.

Now, I realize that my health issues complicate matters for me and that I take three medications that all have a top side effect of sleepiness. But I also know a lot of moms with health issues too. Like my mom. She’s awesome.

So I would just like to give a big shout-out to all the moms out there! I’m not quite sure how you do it but thanks for letting me love on some of your little ones today.

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2018 in encouragment

 

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What I Wish MY Church Knew About ME

In case you didn’t think memory loss was real, I’ve had this paper sitting on my desk for about a month now with blog ideas scribbled on it so that I wouldn’t forget them. I purposefully left it there to remind me to write a post. And what do you know today I sit down to write and behold, my paper (okay, to be honest, it was a prayer sheet from church…but hey…I have to write on whatever I find at the time…) was gone! I looked all over for it and then remembered that I cleaned off that area earlier this week and could I possibly have thrown it away?? Noooooo…surely not. So I went to my bedroom trash can and looked through it but no old prayer sheet. 😦 And I can’t search my main trash can because I did some crafting this morning and there is glitter and modge podge in there and EVERYONE knows you can’t open that back up.

All that to say this is pretty much the only post I remember from the list and I’m still waiting for the others to come back to my brain so this is what ya get today!

It has come to my attention that Sunday is usually the hardest day of the week for me and almost no one at my church knows it. It’s my fault. I’m really good at putting on a fake face, so good that I fool myself sometimes. I’m still learning to be more open with people. I know I need to work on it.

Sundays are hard because they require a lot of energy. Mental, spiritual, and emotional energy. There’s also pressure to be “put together and cheerful” although there shouldn’t be.

Sunday School starts at 9am. I walk to church (duh) which I love to do. Don’t get me wrong- I am surrounded (literally) by people who go to my church and would gladly give me a ride but I like the 11 minute walk there. If it’s raining, that’s another story lol. SS is great because it’s more interactive than church. But it requires more thinking and concentration- first energy drainer.

There is a half hour in between SS and worship to fellowship. My heart really likes that time because I get to talk with people and find out how they are doing. But sometimes it can be really hard, if I’m feeling lonely or tired, it’s hard to put myself out there and engage others- second energy drainer.

Worship is my favorite time because as stated before, I LOVE music! I wouldn’t trade the singing time for anything. But I also said before that the noise hurts my head most days. A lot of Sundays I think to myself, “Which would you prefer, Lord? Do you want me to stand up and be silent or would you like me to sit and actually sing? Because I’m not sure I have the energy to both stand AND sing right now.” -third energy drainer.

By this time, I’ve actually made it to the sermon. I will listen as much as I can but I won’t be able to tell you what it was about later. For instance, I can tell you my Pastor right now is preaching out of Titus on elder qualifications because we are in the middle of a pastor search but probably anyone who follows our Facebook page could say the same thing. Pretty sad, huh? Once in a while, something particular will catch my attention and will stick but not often. And taking notes actually makes it worse as weird as that sounds. I usually remember more from SS because of the interactive nature of that setting than from the sermon- fourth energy drainer.

And then I will walk home (or sometimes get a ride) to fall asleep on my couch for a while. Later that night, I’ll either go to small group or Sunday night church- fifth energy drainer.

You might be asking: why do you go if it’s so hard? I’ve asked myself that too sometimes and occasionally I need to leave early to give my brain a break. But it’s worth it. It’s worth it to fellowship with my brothers and sisters, to worship our Lord together, and to learn more about Him. My struggle is infinitely less than what he went through for me and he still counted the cost and thought it was worth it. What a good God!

But if you see me dazed or sleepy on a Sunday or doing something unusual (like the fact that I usually take off my shoes during the service lol…) come ask me about it and I’ll gladly explain.

 
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Posted by on May 26, 2018 in church

 

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What I Wish the Church Knew About Singles

Disclaimer: Everything you are about to read is going to be highly biased. I’m not kidding myself- I know that very well. I know that I’m basing all of this on my own experiences and on the experiences of others in my church. Your experience may be totally and completely different. Feel free to dump my opinion in the garbage if you don’t think it’s true. 🙂 Also there has been such a long break between posts because of how much thinking and praying went into this post.

My family would probably call me a sneaky or snoopy person. I prefer the word observant. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve had the ability to somehow…um…gain information that no one else had. For instance, Mom and Dad would be planning a secret family vacation and somehow, I would be the only kid who would knew where we were going. Accused often of eavesdropping (probably true), I like to think that I just happened to overhear things that no one else did. On top of that, I love to people watch. Sit me in a coffee shop and I’m a creeper- extraordinaire. I watch what people do, but more than that, I watch their facial and body expressions. Yup, creepy, right?

So over the last few years, I have gained some knowledge in the area of singles in the church. Not only by being one, but by watching others. And I’m here to share that knowledge with you all. This is not a desperate cry for HELP! nor is it a guilt trip for the church. I’m not trying to sound petty or sarcastic, although it may come across that way at times. Please take it as a friendly post from a friendly person. Here goes:

  1.  Singles are not scary human beings. This may seem like an odd thing to say but I have a reason. I think it’s pretty “stereotypical” for singles to complain about being left out of things at church. I also think that hospitality is one of the least taught on commands in Scripture. Let me say this: It is VERY rare for a single person to get an invitation to a family’s house for dinner. I think people feel awkward inviting just one person over. But several times I have seen it happen that as soon as there’s a couple, it’s easier for others to invite them. But the Bible commands hospitality to all, even strangers. Not just those you are comfortable with.
  2. Singles LOVE kids! This is along the lines of the last one. Most of the singles I know in my church love to be around kids. I asked for advice when writing this post and my best friend said that even to be invited over to a family’s house with the parent’s still there (AKA, not always to babysit) and just to hang out with the family. She mentioned reading stories to the kids and playing with them. Just being a part of the family.
  3. We are busy people too. This one might get a lot of “but, but, buts” coming from people. I’m saying it with a grain of salt so take it that way. Listen, we ALL have the same 24 hours in our day and we ALL choose what to do with those hours. After work, singles can choose whether they will stay home and watch Netflix, just like parents can choose how many sports their kids will participate in. Sometimes there is an assumption that if you are single, then you MUST have an abundance of extra time on your hands and you absolutely must be using that to serve or you don’t love Jesus. Now there is some truth that we don’t have a family and kids to take care of but there are singles I know that are some of the busiest people and it IS with serving! Yet they are always expected to do more because they are single.
  4. Singles are adults. I hear a lot of unhelpful/untrue statements from married people. Things like, “It’s such a shame that some guy hasn’t snatched you up yet” or “You’re going to make a wonderful wife” or “God has the right guy out there for you.” These statements give us the idea that singleness is just a transition state and actually lend towards discontentment. Also, you do not know whether a person will get married or not. It’s not up to you! Please leave the matchmaking to God and treat singles as full adults, instead of something hanging in between teens and married adults.
  5. Singles know we don’t know everything. After reading this post, you may be thinking, “You sure don’t!” Haha that’s ok. I know it. I’m thinking of one area in particular. A lot of times when you hear singles talk about marriage, if a married person is around, you will almost surely hear them pipe up, “Hey! It’s not all it’s cracked up to be!” Or something along those lines. First off, thank you for making God’s covenant design look soooo appealing. -_- Secondly, we aren’t 12 anymore. We have real expectations of marriage. We don’t expect Disney marriages. We know that marriages happen between two sinners and there are bad days, months, even years. We know that there are dishes to do, toilets to clean, bills to pay. And that’s not even adding kids into it! We know that getting married is complicated. But think back to when you were single…did you desire to be married then? Please realize that YOU are our example of Christ’s union with the church and we need good examples. They are few and far between. Actually, my best friend and I tried to think of some really good marriages (knowing that it’s only what we see from the outside) that we would look at and say, “Yeah, I would want my marriage to look like that.” We thought for a looonngg time and barely came up with two out of all the couples we knew. Please remember that none of us know everything and we can all learn from each other.

If you made it this far, congrats and thank you. I’ve been thinking about this for a long time as I watch the singles I know and I observe my own heart. By God’s grace, I’m praying we all grow closer to each other as we get closer to Christ. Feel free to comment below with any thoughts you have.

 
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Posted by on May 9, 2018 in church

 

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Jumbled Thoughts from a Jumbled Mind

I’ve been wanting to post for the last week or so but every time I start to think about what I should say every cohesive thought I’ve ever had leaves my brain, so I would like to apologize in advance for what may follow here.

Hmmm…what to say…well let’s get you up to speed here. I’m done working now and I’m visiting my parents and younger siblings for a couple weeks before I move into my apartment around Labor Day.

Thought 1: Do you know what I have discovered that is different this time compared to other times I’ve come to visit my parents? I have discovered that Ohio has become my home. Of course PA will always be my home and hold a special place in my heart but I have a certain sense of belonging in Ohio that I don’t feel as much in PA anymore.

For instance, I have always called my parents’ church my church for the last four years (even though I didn’t live here lol) because I felt most at home here. I didn’t know that had changed until I walked through the door of it on Sunday and realized how much I missed my church in Ohio and all the people there. And suddenly I realized that it had sneakily become my church without me even knowing it!

Thought 2: My family loves me a lot. My Mom and Dad go out of their way to do things for me, even if it means playing Candyland when that’s the game I pick to play. 🙂 Also, I can barely move the next room without David asking me where I’m going because he’s afraid that I’m going somewhere without him.

Thought 3: Sometimes I don’t want to learn God’s lessons. It’s so much easier to say that your purpose shouldn’t be wrapped up in your job than it is to live that. Sometimes it’s hard to even tell until your job is gone. It’s a lesson that I need to learn but God’s school isn’t always fun.

BUT I am SO thankful he knows me better than I know me! I am thankful that he can look into my heart and show me how to be more Christ-like!

 
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Posted by on August 24, 2017 in growing

 

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What is Church Membership?

My Young Adult group at church has been reading this book and it got all of us thinking: what does it really mean to be a church member? Is it filling out some forms and saying your testimony before a congregation? Is it showing up on Sundays and Wednesdays (maybe) to be fed with God’s Word? Does it mean you have to serve in the nursery once in a while or teach a Sunday School class every so often? What exactly is it? And what ISN’T it?

As we studied, it became very apparent that most people, including us, come to church to get something. We come to be fed. We come to be nurtured and encouraged. We come to be served, whether that’s by those doing worship, providing childcare, or even holding doors. And we have come to expect those things. In some ways, this is appropriate. The church SHOULD be providing for the spiritual, emotional, and physical needs of those who come in. The congregation should leave feeling encouraged and cared for.

Are you ready for the kicker? YOU ARE THE CHURCH, PEOPLE!! You! You are the person who is called to care for the person sitting next to you during service. You are the person who should strive to encourage others and make them feel truly cared for and to ask how their spiritual life is going. YOU! It’s not up to the church leaders. We have gotten so used to saying, “Well, if the church would only do this….” that we have forgotten that WE are that “church.”

What if, instead of coming to church expecting to GET something out of the service or out of worship…we came with the mindset of…”How can I GIVE to my church today?” How can I serve my church? How can I feed my church? What does that look like in real life?

Our group has been learning a lot lately about what it means to truly love each other and how to care for the church. As I have been challenged, I would also challenge you to look at your own heart: do you go to church to get or to give? How can you better serve Christ at your church?

This might be a daily mindset struggle (it is for me sometimes!), but I think in the end our churches will reflect the character of Christ so much clearer and this verse would actually become a reality:

“Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” Romans 12:10

 
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Posted by on May 31, 2017 in church

 

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