Church Search Pt.1

This past Sunday I spent an hour of the morning alongside a friend in a pew.  We had finally made it to a local church that was on the list of ones to check out.  I felt like a fish out of water.  Growing up Catholic, I know what to except when going to mass.  I know when to stand, when to sit and especially when to kneel.  I know the prayers, the order of mass and I especially know not to laugh or giggle during a hymn.  Today, none of that mattered.

congregational church

Photo source: unknown

 

This morning, my friend at Crazy Beautiful Chronicles joined me as I went to a Congregational church for the first time, and it was quite a different experience.  She blogged about the morning, which you can find here.  Some differences were fairly obvious (a woman was running the show and we did not receive communion) and some were far less obvious (we didn’t kneel).  Upon entering, I noticed a few things right away:

1. The image of Jesus was not represented anywhere.
2. We were the youngest by several years
(this did change when a family with teenagers came in at the last moment)
3. That I had no clue where to sit.
4. The room was very simple, yet had a sense of beauty about it that I just can not seem to describe.

The minister began speaking and right away I knew I was about to experience something completely different from any of the masses I attended in a Catholic Church.  For starters, her (HER!) mic was not on, and with a quick laugh to the crowd she ducked behind the pulpit.  When she returned, she began again, not missing a step in her opening.  Not only do I not remember something like this ever happening at my former Catholic Church, I cannot imagine the mic recovery going so smoothly.  This one simply blip in the morning made me feel like the minister was one of us, not above us like a priest in a Catholic church.

The one major thing that has impressed me is the fact that here I sit, two days later, and I could still give a fairly descriptive summary of that morning’s service.  Not only did the minister hold my attention for the full hour, but more importantly I was left truly thinking about what she had said.  The sermon this past Sunday was about the miracle of the five loaves and two fish.  For those who are like me, and really do not ever remember discussing this in CCD, here is my extremely simple version.  This is the story of how Jesus fed 5,000 people who had come to see him, while only having five loaves of bread and two fish.    He took the little food he had and offered it to the people.  Once everyone had finished eating, twelve baskets were returned to him still carrying food leftover from the original loaves and fish yet everyone there had eaten.

 

Source: unknown

Photo source: unknown

During Sunday’s sermon, the minister explained why this was one of her favorites.  She told us her interpretation of the miracle and spoke to us about sharing with our neighbor.   She spoke not only with confidence, but in a way that it felt like I was speaking to a friend.  She laughed at herself as she shared a childhood memory and she teased the congregation at the end of a hymn which everyone seemed to laugh and struggle through (the fact that it was in a different language may have had something to do with that).  She spoke in a serious tone without sounding like she was lecturing.  All-in-all, my friend and I were impressed.

After church was over, we both wanted to see what the rest of the rather large building had to offer, so we headed towards the social area.  On the way, we noticed several large event boards covered with things for the members to take a part in.  Everything from hikes to dances to volunteer events to non-church related events.  It was really refreshing to see that there was such an active presence in the community.  This is definitely something I would want in a church.

While we were looking at the last of the event boards, a very kind woman introduced herself to us and chatted for a little while about her role in the church and was curious about our own stories.  While talking, two other members joined to say hello.  It was very surprising how welcoming everyone was.  When people  realized we were new, they made it a point to help us feel welcomed.  In any of the catholic churches I have visited, no one has every said hello.  I’m not even sure how many people stick around after communion is received.

When our conversation had hit a quiet point, my friend and I politely excused ourselves and headed for the car.  I was honestly hoping no one else would stop us.  It was at that moment we realized the minister was following us, and I am sure you can imagine the looks we gave each other (keep in mind we were laughing about how young she looked and had a moment of fear that maybe she heard us).  As it turns out, she had a family event to attend, was also leaving, did not seem to hear us laughing that she looked so young and also happened to be parked next to us.   She introduced herself to us by her first name and the three of us chatted for a few moments.  She seemed genuinely interested in what we had to say, and then invited us to reach out to her if ever needed.  We had explained that we were visiting and she ended the conversation simply stating “If I do not see you again, I hope you enjoy your journey.”  There was no pressure to join the church and we were not asked by anyone if we would be back the following week.  I found this to be a very quiet, but powerful statement.  I did not feel pressure to commit to attending again and I did not feel guilt about possibly not seeing them again.  It left me feeling like they were truly happy we had decided to visit that morning and that was enough.  The ladies did not have a hidden agenda when they came to say hello, they simply wanted we say hi.  It was so refreshing.

I still cannot put my finger on why, but this past Sunday morning has really stuck with me.   I have found myself thinking about the Minister’s message in her sermon, about the community activities, and about the parting words we were left with “I hope you enjoy your journey.”  I do suppose making us reflect on our lives is the point.

Finally, a huge thank you to my pew partner for the morning!  Not only did we have an enjoyable time visiting a new church, we had a wonderful time catching up over brunch afterwards.  Please take a moment to visit my friend at Crazy Beautiful Chronicles.  I really think you will enjoy her insights on the world around her.

Until next time, I hope you enjoy your journey.

101 in 1001 Challenge: Progress

101 in 1001 challenge progress
UPDATED ON: 7/27/14
1.  Ride in a hot air balloon.
Completed on:
2.  Host a family dinner party.
Completed on:
3.  Take a yoga class once a week for a month.
Completed on:
4.  Send a message in a bottle.
Completed on:
5.  No Facebook for 7 consecutive days.
Completed on:
6.  Volunteer at an animal shelter.
Completed on:
7. Complete 25 random acts of kindness in 1 month. (0/25)
Completed on:
8.  Order our wedding album.
Completed on:
9.  Try 10 new restaurants. (1/10)
Completed on:
1. 7/27/14  2._____ 3. _____ 4._____ 5._____ 6._____ 7._____ 8._____ 9._____ 10. _____
10.  Try 10 new foods. (0/10)
Completed on:
1._____  2._____ 3. _____ 4._____ 5._____ 6._____ 7._____ 8._____ 9._____ 10. _____
11.  Send out Christmas cards.
Completed on:
12.  Go to the optometrist.
Completed on:
13.  Take Madigan hiking.
Completed on:
14. Have a picnic.
Completed on:
15.  Start a new tradition.
Completed on:
16.  Go a month without eating at a restaurant / getting take-out.
Completed on:
17.  Make a drastic hair change.
Completed on:
18.  Get a hot stone massage.
Completed on:
19.  Spend a weekend with no technology (cell phone, tv, iPad, laptop, kindle)
Completed on:
20.  Attend my graduation.
Completed on:
21.  Visit 3 different churches and select one to go to on a regular basis. (1/3)
Completed on:
 1.   7/27/14       2._____      3. _____
22.  Go an entire day without complaining, repeat this on 5 different days.
Completed on:
23.  Switch to only reusable bags for grocery shopping.
Completed on:
24.  Finish Disc 1 of Rosetta Stone.
Completed on:
25.  Find out my blood type and donate. (1/2 completed)
Completed on:
Thanks to my mom, I have discovered I am A positive.  Now I need to find strength (I’m not a fan of needles) and a blood drive!
26.  Exercise 3x per week for 2 months.
Completed on:
27.  Visit 5 places I have never been to. (0/5)
Completed on:
1._____  2._____ 3. _____ 4._____ 5._____
28.  Find my perfect foundation color & brand.
Completed on:
 So far I have tried a mixture of MAC NC20 and NW20.
Seeing as I have to mix it myself, this combo is not exactly what I am looking for.
The hunt continues!
29.  Attend a live taping of a tv show.
Completed on:
30.  Blog 3x per week for a month.
Completed on:
31.  Update address book with mailing addresses and important dates.
Completed on:
32.  Create a fairy garden.
Completed on:
33.  Create a 101 in 1001 journal.  (in progress)
Completed on:
34.  Paint the upstairs hallway.
Completed on:
35.  Organize the coat closet.
Completed on:
36.  Complete an Instagram challenge.
Completed on:
Any ideas on one for me to do?  There are so many I’m having a tough time deciding.
37.  Organize my bedroom closet.
Completed on:
38.  See a drive-in movie.
Completed on:
39.  Attend a cooking class.
Completed on:
40.  Participate in a 5k, without walking.
Completed on:
41.  Catch up on our yearly family photobooks.
Completed on:
42.  Let go of an unhealthy friendship.
Completed on:
43.  Complete dailyburn.com training program.
Completed on:
44.  Send 10 “just because” cards to 10 different people one month. (0/10)
Completed on:
1._____  2._____ 3. _____ 4._____ 5._____ 6._____ 7._____ 8._____ 9._____ 10. _____
45.  Make 5 new friends. (0/5)
Completed on:
46.  Take dogs for a walk daily for a month.
Completed on:
47.  See a dentist re: shifting teeth.
Completed on:
48.  Order curtains for the kitchen.
Completed on:
49.  Complete 10 recipes found on pinterest. (0/10)
Completed on:
1._____  2._____ 3. _____ 4._____ 5._____ 6._____ 7._____ 8._____ 9._____ 10. _____
50.  Create and follow a monthly meal plan for 2 months.
Completed on:
51.  Wake up by 7:30am for 2 weeks.
Completed on:
52.  Go to bed with no technology for 2 weeks.
Completed on:
53.  Drink 100 ounces of water each day for a week.
Completed on:
54.  Organize my seasonal clothing storage.
Completed on:
55.  Create a weekly household cleaning plan and follow it for 2 weeks.
Completed on:
I have created a plan, now I just need to stick to it!
56.  Vacation alone for a long weekend.
Completed on:
57.  Plan a full course romantic dinner by candlelight.
Completed on:
58.  Complete the Princess Half Marathon.
Completed on:
59.  Complete a 2 minute plank.
Completed on:
60.  Do 25 sit-ups every day for a month.
Completed on:
61.  Complete the Wine Trail Passport.
Completed on:
62.  Leave 100 notes for operationbeautiful.com (please click here for progress!)
Completed on:
63.  Send 25 cards/letters to soldiers overseas / OR / Adopt a soldier for one year.
Completed on:
64.  Send 10 care packages to soldiers during a non-holiday season. (0/10)
Completed on:

1._____  2._____ 3. _____ 4._____ 5._____ 6._____ 7._____ 8._____ 9._____ 10. _____

65.  Introduce myself to 5 neighbors I have not met yet. (3/5)
Completed on:

1. 7/17 while I was walking Madigan    2. 7/19 Introduced ourselves to the couple that recently moved into neighborhood

3. 7/20 – while doing yard work I introduced myself to a neighbor who was walking her dog

4._____ 5._____

66.  Host a neighborhood BBQ.
Completed on:

67.  Be part of a flash mob.

Completed on:

68.  Photograph a landscape from the same location each season and frame the pictures.

Completed on:

69.  Complete the “50 questions that would free your mind”.

Completed on:

70.  Attend one meetup event every month for a year.

Completed on:

71.  Complete the couch25K program.

Completed on:

72.  Have a date night each week for a month; get dressed up no matter what the activity is.

Completed on:

73.  Do my hair & makeup every day for a week.

Completed on:

74.  Have professional pictures of the family taken.

Completed on:

75.  Start a family.

Completed on:

76.  See a dermatologist.

Completed on:

77.  Come up with weekly blog topics and write about them weekly for 2 months.

Completed on:

78.  Print & frame travel photos.

Completed on:

79.  Stay at a bed & breakfast.

Completed on:

80.  Visit a country I have never been to.

Completed on:

81.  Complete therapy dog training with Madigan.

Completed on:

82.  Go ice skating in NYC.

Completed on:

83.  Spend an afternoon traveling the state taking pictures.

Completed on:

84.  Complete 10 projects found on Pinterest. (0/10)

Completed on:

1._____  2._____ 3. _____ 4._____ 5._____ 6._____ 7._____ 8._____ 9._____ 10. _____

85.  Comment on one random blog each week for 2 months.

Completed on:

86.  Find an organization in my town to volunteer for.

Completed on:
87.  Write a yelp review the next 10 times* I use the app to help me decide where to go. (3/10)
(* I realized I did not have a qualifying “goal” attached to this, so I have edited it to doing this 10 times)
Completed on:

88.  Get professionally fitted for, and purchase, good quality running shoes.

Completed on:

89.  Document “A Day In My Life” in pictures.

Completed on:

90.  Say “no” to one thing each week for 2 months I would normally agree to just to keep people happy.

Completed on:

91.  Take a cake decorating class.

Completed on:

92.  Walk 10,000 steps every day for a month.

Completed on:

93.  Visit 5 different National Parks. (0/5)

Completed on:

1._____  2._____ 3. _____ 4._____ 5._____

94.  Go to a professional football game.

Completed on:

95.  Try Reiki.

Completed on:

96.  Cut down our Christmas tree ourselves.

Completed on:

97.  Hand-make at least 50% of my Christmas gifts for others.

Completed on:

98.  Finish the afghan.

Completed on:

99.  Go kayaking.

Completed on:

100.  Ride every ride in Walt Disney World.

Completed on:

101.  Create new 101 in 1001 list!

Completed on:
*Bonus*
102. Go skydiving with my Mother-in-law!
Completed on:

Operation Post-It Notes

Number 62 on my 101 in 1001 Challenge reads:

Leave 100 notes for operationbeautiful.com

On this page, I will be documenting my 100 post-its for operationbeautiful.com with a picture of the note and a quick description of when and where I left it.

I can not wait to start!


Why operationbeautiful.com?

Looking through our photos from our Bahamian anniversary trip, I had a hard time looking past my body shape.  Being our anniversary trip, I wore a bikini for my husband (something I NEVER do).  Throughout the trip, I can remember asking him if I looked ok, if my stomach looked bad (whatever that meant) and so on.  Every time I asked, his response was always the same “You look beautiful.”  For some reason I could not believe him.  I would convince myself he was just being nice.  Why was is so difficult to accept that even with my extra 15-ish pounds, he sees me as being beautiful?

While browsing through the photos, I realized I was flipping from photo to photo looking at my body, and the bikini I was wearing, more than I was looking at the main focus of the photo.  I sat in front of my computer and felt embarrassment for how I looked among the group of people (none of which I will ever see again).  It took a lot of strength to stop criticizing myself.  Once I looked up from my stomach and thighs, I saw unfiltered joy in my face.  I was excited, I was having an amazing time, I was so happy, and in that moment the picture was taken it did not matter what flaws I thought I had.  Other pictures caught me in moments of self-consciousness and it was obvious.  The look on my face was drastically different, the way I was standing changed, I did not look like someone who was having fun.  I can not believe I let the image I have of myself steal away so many happy moments throughout our trip.  This was truly a wake-up call.

How many of us look in the mirror and only see our flaws?  How many of us think “I wish I had _____ like her” or “I wish I could change _______ about myself”.  I can’t even count the number of times I have changed outfits because I didn’t like what I saw in the mirror (these are the same outfits that a week prior I thought I looked good in).  When I look in the mirror I notice the small lines beginning to form around my mouth and eyes, I notice the fullness of my face, I notice that my hair is not perfectly in place,  I notice the blemishes that seem to never go away, I never notice anything positive.  I never notice the beautiful color of my hair; I never notice the smile that over years has contributed to those small lines; I never notice that a few blemishes can be hidden.  I simply never notice the things my husband sees.  I know I am not alone in this.  Woman everywhere have been programmed to nit-pick themselves, and for what?  Why have we become our own worst critics?  Why do we have such negative conversations with ourselves about our bodies?  If we can not see the beauty in ourselves, then who will?

Now let me introduce Operation Beautiful to you.  Operation Beautiful was originally launched in 2009 on the blog Healthy Tipping Point written by Caitlin.  In a nutshell, Caitlin’s inspiring mission is to end negative self-talk one post-it note at a time.  As I read through the official Operation Beautiful blog, I knew this was a project I wanted to be part of.  Keep checking back to this post as I update my progress.  I can not wait to start!

 

operation beautiful operationbeautiful.com 101 in 1001 challenge

 

Bahamas Sandals Anniversary Trip Pt. 1

For our first wedding anniversary, my husband and I spent a long weekend in the Bahamas.  We stayed at the Emerald Bay Sandals Resort in Great Exuma, it was wonderful!  Having never been, I was not sure what to expect, … Continue reading

101 in 1001

What feels like a completely different lifetime, I had started the 101 in 1001 Challenge while I was in college.  As time went on, I completed about half of the items on my list, although some unexpected bumps and turns caused me to stray away from the project.  Many years went by and somewhere along the way my journal, which held my only copy of my goals and my progress, had gotten lost.  (One of the downfalls of being so very “old-tech”!)   Over the last several months I have been toying with the idea of starting a new 101 in 1001 challenge.  I am not sure what took me so long to begin, but it finally felt like the right time to sit down and create my list.  Maybe it was an inspiration found in the book I am currently reading, or maybe it was my desire to put a little more focus on the fun and happy side of life.  Maybe it was my continued attempt to not be afraid of failing.  Whatever the reason, I am thrilled to be sharing my personal journey of the next 1001 days with you! For those of you who have not heard of the 101 in 1001 challenge, it is a list of 101 goals you wish to accomplish in 1001 days (which equals about 2.75 years).   Similar to a bucket list, but with an end-point (that doesn’t involve death, as my husband jokingly pointed out).  How many times have we all said: “One day, I’m going to _________”?  Days turn to months, which turn to years, and we never did check that some-day goal off our list.  This challenge helps turn all of those some-day goals into reality.  I had so much fun the first time I did the 101 in 1001 challenge, I can’t wait to see where the next 2.75 years leads me.  Here is an official explanation of the project, copied from Day Zero Project’s website:

The 101 Things in 1001 Days Challenge

Day Zero started out with the catchy challenge of completing 101 things in 1001 days. This has been enormously popular with tens of thousands of people getting involved and sharing their lists. We now offer many more types of challenges, but here are the original guidelines for the challenge:
 
 
The Challenge:Complete 101 preset tasks in a period of 1001 days.The Criteria:Tasks must be specific (ie. no ambiguity in the wording) with a result that is either measurable or clearly defined. Tasks must also be realistic and stretching (ie. represent some amount of work on your part).
 
Why 1001 Days?Many people have created lists in the past – frequently simple challenges such as New Year’s resolutions or a ‘Bucket List’. The key to beating procrastination is to set a deadline that is realistic. 1001 Days (about 2.75 years) is a better period of time than a year, because it allows you several seasons to complete the tasks, which is better for organizing and timing some tasks such as overseas trips, study semesters, or outdoor activities. (source: Dayzeroproject.com)
 
So without any further delay, and in completely random order, here is my list!
 
101 in 1001
 
1.  Ride in a hot air balloon.
2.  Host a family dinner party.
3.  Take a yoga class once a week for a month.
4.  Send a message in a bottle.
5.  No Facebook for 7 consecutive days.
6.  Volunteer at an animal shelter.
7. Complete 25 random acts of kindness in 1 month. (0/25)
8.  Order our wedding album.
9.  Try 10 new restaurants. (0/10)
10.  Try 10 new foods. (0/10)
11.  Send out Christmas cards.
12.  Go to the optometrist.
13.  Take Madigan hiking.
14. Have a picnic.
15.  Start a new tradition.
16.  Go a month without eating at a restaurant / getting take-out.
17.  Make a drastic hair change.
18.  Get a hot stone massage.
19.  Spend a weekend with no technology (cell phone, tv, iPad, laptop, kindle)
20.  Attend my graduation.
21.  Visit 3 different churches and select one to go to on a regular basis.
22.  Go an entire day without complaining, repeat this on 5 different days.
23.  Switch to only reusable bags for grocery shopping.
24.  Finish Disc 1 of Rosetta Stone.
25.  Find out my blood type and donate.
26.  Exercise 3x per week for 2 months.
27.  Visit 5 places I have never been to. (0/5)
28.  Find my perfect foundation color & brand.
29.  Attend a live taping of a tv show.
30.  Blog 3x per week for a month.
31.  Update address book with mailing addresses and important dates.
32.  Create a fairy garden.
33.  Create a 101 in 1001 journal.
34.  Paint the upstairs hallway.
35.  Organize the coat closet.
36.  Complete an Instagram challenge.
37.  Organize my bedroom closet.
38.  See a drive-in movie.
39.  Attend a cooking class.
40.  Participate in a 5k, without walking.
41.  Catch up on our yearly family photobooks.
42.  Let go of an unhealthy friendship.
43.  Complete dailyburn.com training program.
44.  Send 10 “just because” cards to 10 different people one month. (0/10)
45.  Make 5 new friends. (0/5)
46.  Take dogs for a walk daily for a month.
47.  See a dentist re: shifting teeth.
48.  Order curtains for the kitchen.
49.  Complete 10 recipes found on pinterest. (0/10)
50.  Create and follow a monthly meal plan for 2 months.
51.  Wake up by 7:30am for 2 weeks.
52.  Go to bed with no technology for 2 weeks.
53.  Drink 100 ounces of water each day for a week.
54.  Organize my seasonal clothing storage.
55.  Create a weekly household cleaning plan and follow it for 2 weeks.
56.  Vacation alone for a long weekend.
57.  Plan a full course romantic dinner by candlelight.
58.  Complete the Princess Half Marathon.
59.  Complete a 2 minute plank.
60.  Do 25 situps every day for a month.
61.  Complete the Wine Trail Passport.
62.  Leave 100 notes for operationbeautiful.com (0/100)
63.  Send 25 cards/letters to soldiers overseas / OR / Adopt a soldier for one year.
64.  Send 10 care packages to soldiers during a non-holiday season. (0/10)
65.  Introduce myself to 5 neighbors I have not met yet. (0/5)
66.  Host a neighborhood BBQ.
67.  Be part of a flash mob.
68.  Photograph a landscape from the same location each season and frame the pictures.
69.  Complete the “50 questions that would free your mind”.
70.  Attend one meetup event every month for a year.
71.  Complete the couch25K program.
72.  Have a date night each week for a month; get dressed up no matter what the activity is.
73.  Do my hair & makeup every day for a week.
74.  Have professional pictures of the family taken.
75.  Start a family.
76.  See a dermatologist.
77.  Come up with weekly blog topics and write about them weekly for 2 months.
78.  Print & frame travel photos.
79.  Stay at a bed & breakfast.
80.  Visit a country I have never been to.
81.  Complete therapy dog training with Madigan.
82.  Go ice skating in NYC.
83.  Spend an afternoon traveling the state taking pictures.
84.  Complete 10 projects found on Pinterest. (0/10)
85.  Comment on one random blog each week for 2 months.
86.  Find an organization in my town to volunteer for.
87.  Write a yelp review whenever I use the app to help me decide where to go.
88.  Get professionally fitted for, and purchase, good quality running shoes.
89.  Document “A Day In My Life” in pictures.
90.  Say “no” to one thing each week for 2 months I would normally agree to just to keep
       people happy.
91.  Take a cake decorating class.
92.  Walk 10,000 steps every day for a month.
93.  Visit 5 different National Parks. (0/5)
94.  Go to a professional football game.
95.  Try Reiki.
96.  Cut down our Christmas tree ourselves.
97.  Hand-make at least 50% of my Christmas gifts for others.
98.  Finish the afghan.
99.  Go kayaking.
100.  Ride every ride in Walt Disney World.
101.  Create new 101 in 1001 list!
 
I will be updating this list as time ticks along, adding when the goal was accomplished and a link to any related posts.  Have you started and/or completed your own 101 in 1001 challenge?  Post your link in the comments, I would LOVE to see what goals you included and how you kept track of your progress!
 
 
source: pinterest.com

source: pinterest.com