Friday, December 23, 2005

Merry Christmas

I want to wish everyone who reads this site, and especially those who comment, a very merry Christmas. The feedback I've gotten from this site has truly been life-changing. I may have eventually ended up on the same path I'm on now, but it would have taken months (if not years) longer without the valuable guidance and feedback you all have provided me.

With all the wonderful things this blog has brought in 2005, I can't wait to see what happens with it in 2006.

Merry Christmas and happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

I found a church

My husband and I started looking for a church to join back in January of 2004. About once or twice a month since then we've gone to various churches in our area, mostly Catholic, Episcopal and Lutheran. I think we've hit just about every Catholic church and most of the Episcopal churches in our city.

Last Saturday we went to the evening mass at a local Catholic church that a few of our friends highly recommend. I thought it was fine, there were plenty of things that I didn't care for (modern music, people in casual dress) but I started to realize that I just wasn't going to be able to find a church that was totally "me." On the way home my husband and I agreed that this would probably be the church we'd join. We weren't particularly excited about it but at least our long search would be over.

Then, Sunday morning, my husband suggested that before we pull the trigger we try one last church. A couple weeks ago I'd taken my regular commentor Steve G. up on his suggestion to help me find a church in my area and emailed him my location. He sent me back a wonderfully detailed email with his recommendations for the top Catholic churches in my area. There was one church that was far and away his favorite. I checked their website and decided that I wasn't interested for a couple of reasons.

But Sunday morning we decided to go ahead and give it a try since Steve seemed so convinced that it was the place to be. We thought of it as just a rule-out trip like we'd done with a few other churches that we were pretty sure weren't for us -- we'd just duck our heads in, glance at the literature and confirm that it was indeed not for us.

Interestingly, when we first walked through the doors I had a vague feeling of having been there before. I was pretty sure this was going to be it. We took our seats in the pew, my one-year-old son mercifully deciding to be quiet and just stare at the lights, and I started to look through the handouts we'd picked up. Those of you who read this post will not be surprised to hear that I read this one flyer (below) and leaned over to my husband and said, "this is it."

[CLICK TO ENLARGE. You may need to click once on the image once it's in its own window to enlarge it again if your browser automatically shrinks it to fit the screen.]

(Wouldn't you know, this is also the one day that I dressed casually to go to church. I had horrible morning sickness that morning, none of my nice pants were clean, and I decided to just go with the flow and dress in jeans and a shirt like everyone else does these days. Oops.)

I'll write more about what I liked about it later, but I thought that some of my regular readers might get a kick out of reading that flyer about dress code. Not only do I agree with its message, but I find it refreshing to see pastors who will boldly stand up for what they believe is right and wrong without fear of alienating their membership. (Many of the churches I visited seemed to wuss out on big issues for fear of people not wanting to go there anymore.)

I'm surprised at how excited I am to have found this church. It's really made an otherwise abysmal week much brighter.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

A quick question about prayer

My husband came home tonight and gave me some bad news about our business that we own: one of our biggest clients is considering leaving us. If this comes to pass it would be a huge challenge for us and mean a ton of extra work for him, which seems almost impossible considering how hard he already works.

I was thinking about this while putting my son to bed and realized that this is a good opportunity to practice praying. But I got stuck on the same issue that always keeps me from getting very far with prayer (other than the obvious fact that I'm not sure if I believe in God): are you supposed to ask God for things? Isn't that kind of bossing him around? I mean, what if it's part of God's plan that this client leaves us?

I don't think I'm ever going to believe that every single thing that transpires on earth is God's will, but I do think it's possible that at least some things are. And considering that I have no idea which of those things might be part of God's will and which aren't, I feel silly and unjustified expressing a request to God that things go a certain way.

What do most people do when they pray about difficult situations? Is it OK to ask for specific situations to turn out a certain way, or are you just supposed to ask God to give you the strength to help him implement whatever it is that is his will?

Any thoughts on this would be helpful, because I've never really been able to pray because of this issue.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Updates coming soon

I've been sick for the past couple weeks, hit with the combo of a stomach bug on top of morning sickness, but I have lots of thoughts and will update soon. A couple quick notes:

- I've been really bad about going to church. I've got to make that more of a habit. I think once we actually decide on a church and join one it'll be easier to get into it.

- I finally finished Orthodoxy. It was...interesting. I liked it but think that it's more for wayward Christians than true atheists. More on that later.

- This morning we asked my mother if she wanted to go to church with us. She said that she didn't want to because she'd planned to spend the morning decorating the house for the holidays. Her quote was, "I don't want to waste my time with church stuff, I want to focus on Christmas today." Maybe for Christmas I'll buy her a clue. :)