my struggle of finding a church home (long post alert!)

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I’ve been going to church my whole life. I even bragged to friends that I never missed Sunday School as a child except when I visited my grandparents. (I even went when I had the chicken pox!) When I was younger I belonged to every church activity possible- choir, bells, puppets, clowns, serving in the church’s soup kitchen… I mean everything. We moved when I was in middle school, but still…. As a teen I was super involved in youth group & leadership. Even into my first few years of college, I went to the church I grew up in & attended community groups.

And while that church continues to preach the gospel, I left. I left because of sin committed against me, & I just couldn’t be there. (I definitely believe this sin is forgiven, but I am a true believer that sin has physical & earthly consequences.) My parents left & moved. I church hopped for a while, but still attended A church on Sundays. I’d go to church with friends invited me, or to a local church that’s kind of big in numbers so no one really knew if you were new or not, & it had a lot of people my age. I’d go, but I never felt ‘seen.’ How dumb does that sound? Pretty silly, right?

I never felt like people noticed me or reached out, but at the same time I wasn’t making an effort to get to know anyone, get involved, or taking steps toward fixing the hurt of being alone.

Why is it that as an adult I’m struggling to feel this way? Isn’t it suppose to be pre-teens that struggle with feeling accepted? No. By talking to a handful of people, I’ve realized I’m not the only one who struggles with this- feeling invisible at church.

Lately I’ve complained about this to my coworkers (who are also followers of Christ, how sweet is that!). I told them that I’ve been going to a new church by my house since November, and I don’t think the pastors could pick me out of a line-up. Actually, on Easter, the pastor’s wife spoke to me (because I was with my sister, who was a friend of hers), and mentioned how nice if was of me to visit the church that Easter. I was pissed. I’ve been coming to this church for like 5 months! How are you just now seeing me? It’s not a large church! I’M GOING THROUGH THE MEMBERSHIP CLASS THAT YOUR HUSBAND LEADS, WHY DO YOU THINK I’M NEW?  (I recognize my fault in this: I held her to a higher standard  because she’s the pastor’s wife. I could, just as easily, made an effort to seek her out, too, previous to this. Even though I’m equally guilty of not talking to her, I still was hurt.)

By the by, I’m taking the membership class, because I was convicted (thanks God, through coworkers), that I can’t complain about not feeling ‘seen’ if I don’t try to be ‘seen.’ I don’t think the point of church is to be noticed by others, but I do think that as a community of believers we should ALL be welcoming to all. Whether that be saying hi to people who sit near you, or asking if they’re in a community group, or even just a smile and eye contact- helping people feel like they’re in the right place is just nice.

Through the membership class, a pastor emailed me and connected me with a lady in the church. This lady, Crystal, immediately responded to the email thread and invited me to her community group THAT night. As an introvert who likes to prepare for new social interactions, I was SO NERVOUS! I went. I went the following week. I met up with one of the leaders of the group, this week, for coffee. It was great. It is great.

I’m mad at myself for not trying to be involved earlier. I’m still a little hurt that I didn’t feel reached out to (in all fairness, Sydney from work has invited me to her community group. A girl in the membership class also invited me to hers). I don’t know what I was expecting. I don’t know what the ideal church would have done. I do know that my introversion is not an excuse. That my pride got the best of me- I didn’t talk to new people because I was scared of coming across as weird and desperate; that people wouldn’t see me as Liz, but instead only as Gayle’s sister.

Why did this take me 5 months? Why was I scared? Why was I hurt? Why didn’t I do anything? Why? Why? Why?

Am I the only one who struggles with this? I know I’m not, but it would be great to hear how other people got over feeling this way too!

 

Valentine’s Day

I love Valentine’s Day. I get it, it’s a commercial holiday. Who cares? I love love, and spending time with others. Anytime those can be celebrated I think they should be!

Also candy.

This year I wanted to celebrate it the office, and what better way than the good old fashioned elementary school way? Valentine’s boxes! I made everyone in the office a box (because I don’t think anyone had time to make their own).

The boxes were a hit. Also a hit- candy.

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The Fish’s Death

I murdered a fish. I didn’t mean to though, I mean it’s not like I went fishing and KILLED a fish. No, this was an accidental murder.

If you’ve ever been so lucky to have me as your house-sitter, you know my motto is to leave the house cleaner than you found it. Who wouldn’t want me to watch their house?

Well, one time I was watching a house, whose owners I adore (and if they ever read this… I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry.), and their fish tank looked DIRTY. Being the sweet person I am, I thought to myself, “Liz you’ve never cleaned a fish tank before, but the family cannot come home to a dirty tank. Also this fish must be miserable being in this gross tank. You will clean it.”

So I just started cleaning the tank. I don’t remember my thought process on this, but I do know I didn’t Google it. Me. The girl who Googles everything before doing anything or talking to anyone. I didn’t research it. WHY DIDN’T I GOOGLE HOW TO CLEAN A TANK?! WHY?!

I lifted the filter, with the large fish still in the tank… and gunk, goop, and grossness came pouring out. Out into the already dirty water. The water where the fish still was. I freaked out. FREAKED THE FREAK OUT.

I immediately typed into my phone how to clean a fish tank. (A little too late Liz, a little too late.) Guess what, you’re supposed to take the fish out of the tank before cleaning it. I then took the fish out. Genius move. I cleaned the tank to the best of my ability, which wasn’t very good.

After cleaning the disgusting tank (remember, all the gunk in the filter had come out and moved ALL over the 40 gallon tank, settled on the bottom under the tiny rocks, in-between crevices, just everywhere. Also, I couldn’t lift the tank (it was heavy. I am weak.), so basically I half-assed the cleaning job after poisoning the fish.

I put the fish back in the tank. I left the house to have a drink with a friend. I came back to the house… the house smelled LIKE DEATH. I refused to look at the tank, and then went to bed. When I woke up the next morning, the house still smelled like death. Guess why? BECAUSE THE FISH EFFING DIED IN THE GROSS WATER.

Fish are supposed to float when dead, right? THIS ONE DIDN’T. Guess whose arms don’t reach the bottom of the tank! (ME!) Also guess who refused to put her bare arms in the tank! (Me again!) AND guess what fish net didn’t reach the poor, gross, dead fish! (The only one I could find!) What’s a girl to do?

I’ll tell you. (Dear sweet Hammer family, please stop reading.) You use the plastic sleeves newspapers come in, wrap your arms in them twice, go to the kitchen (seriously, if you know the Hammers, please never tell them this), grab the longest tongs you can find, get a plastic Ziploc, and go get that fish out. (And then I stuck it in the freezer). You then freak out, call the family to let them know their fish died (and who knows why it did…), and ask them what to do with it. Their suggestion- just throw it away outside in the trash bin. (*I also boiled the tongs after that for sanitation.)

I then tried my hardest to really clean the fish tank. I mean after all, I’m a good house sitter.

fall is my favorite

When Fall hits New Mexico, I’m convinced there is no other state I’d rather live in.

img_8812I know Fall started in September, but for me it doesn’t truly start until Balloon Fiesta happens!

There is nothing that feels more like Fall than green chile roasting, balloons in the air, and cooler mornings. The days might still get up to 80 degrees, but when you have to start the day with a sweater I know FALL IS HERE!

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I don’t get it when New Mexicans, especially those who live in Albuquerque, don’t take advantage of Balloon Fiesta? Thousands of people from all over the WORLD come to enjoy this event- and people who live here don’t go? I just don’t get it. I’ve been every year since 2003! EVERY YEAR IT MAKES ME SMILE. It’s totally worth getting up at 5/5:15/5:30 am; and I hate mornings.

Anyway this post is basically just an exclamation of how much I love Fall, & how very happy I am that it is here!

 

Keep Calm & VENT On

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Lanay & I during her 2016 visit!

I am a emotional bottler. I keep all my non-happy emotions stored inside me until there’s too many and I just pop. (Also, the pop is probably my favorite onomatopoeia.)

Yesterday was a pop day. Also sometimes when I pop I cry. Or laugh uncontrollably. Sometimes it comes in heavy tears. Or light tears. And other times complete crankiness. Yesterday was an all the above type day.

The day started off with finding out one of our kids passed away the night before. Cancer sucks. SUCKS. SUCKS.

It continued with going into work and everyone around me being a bit grumpy. Ew. No thank you.

Then I found out I had to drive a town away after work for an interview with another family. Not the worst, just not super convenient.

After that, I received an email from my apartment saying that they were doing next day apartment inspections and pets had to be kenneled or out of the home. UGH. My apartment was a mess (like a “I haven’t done dishes in a month mess & my closet looks like it threw up.” btw that’s just a sink full, not like overflowing). AND WHERE DO I PUT MY DOG WHO HAS NEVER BEEN IN A CAGE?

After work I drove to my apartment to walk Dolce, and then left for the interview. During my drive I called my bestie, Lanay, to tell her I had to cancel our Bible-study call. While I tried to cancel, we ended up talking. ALL my crankiness came out. It was such a sweet relief. She just listened to me vent. She heard my pain, and frustration and just listened. It is so good to just be heard. To not argue or try to justify why I’m feeling feelings, but just to be loved during my frustration. I hope everyone has a friend like Lanay.

I went to the interview and cried. The child, the sweet, beautiful child was adopted, and dad went into deep detail about the abuse the child had suffered. It just broke my heart. I was sad for the pain the child, and siblings endure for too long- and the lasting consequences of the abuse. Angry that this could happen (drugs suck). Joyful that he was no longer in an abusive home and so loved by his family. ALL the feelings at once is hard.

Driving away I felt all the feelings again. As I picked up Dolce from my apartment to drop her off at my parents (much to their thrill), I called Lanay to talk about Hebrews. Guys, it was so good. We talked about His sovereignty and how He fulfills His promises. It was so, I can’t even explain, so perfect to talk about Truth in a time of suckiness.

I dropped Dolce off, watched Survivor (because come on, it’s on its 16th year and I can’t stop! won’t stop), and ate gelato. Went back to my apartment and cleaned until 2am. During my cleaning time, Lanay would periodical text me words of encouragement. She didn’t expect a response, just kept saying that I could do it. Lanay, move back to NM!

Also, yesterday was the type of day that led me to searching for Christian therapists again (I think I found one!). I told Lanay that in one of our chats, and she was super supportive. I think we should be more honest about our hurt, and emotion; and our search for help. It’s surprising how many people are also looking for someone to talk to, and/or empathize with.

I did it. Guys, I made it through yesterday. I can make it though today.

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ice cream & a selfie, because treat yo’self

 

Desk Meditation

“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.”

-Vincent Van Gogh

Sometimes life is overwhelming. What am I accomplishing? What major thing have I done today? Where is my life going? Am I helping anyone?

At my desk I have a notepad from Rifle Paper Co. with the above Van Gogh quote. I read this anywhere from once to a million times a day. It helps me clear my mind of the negative thought that I can’t do anything by myself.

All the small tasks I do throughout the day are great, because together all those monotonous, seemingly meaningless tasks build together to make something great. Sometimes the great thing isn’t great in anyone else’s eyes but mine (I do like crossing off the to-do lists- that in itself is a great and amazing thing).

Having cute desk supplies with quotes/ scripture is not only visually appealing to me, but also a great way to sit and think about Truth; and to diminish the lies that one, small person can’t do something great.

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What’s on your to-do list of greatness?

 

Dinner Party Revelation

 

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

-Hebrews 10:24-25

The last dinner party of 2015 was so last minute that I didn’t even have make-up on (GASP), but still had a blast. The best part of the dinner party wasn’t at the pretty table- or even the dishes-filled kitchen. After the dinner party a few of us went to grab a Starbucks tea and then sat in the car for hours talking about life. They were the most meaningful conversations of the night- and reminded me that heart conversations don’t have to be had over the prettiest Anthro plates.

Sometimes with dinner parties, it’s easy to focus solely on the aesthetics (at least for me). We forget the true reason of having a few friends over- to listen, to share, to celebrate, to grieve, and to praise God….to…so much more than a pretty Instagram picture.

I forget that. And when I forget the purpose behind belonging to the Body of Christ, I lose out. I lose out on encouraging others, and being encouraged. I lose out on being purely silly. And being invested in.

With so much freaking hate in the World (SO MUCH HATE), why aren’t we living LOVE better? It’s not difficult. It’s literally just sitting down, listening to one another, and breaking bread (and Whole Food’s Chantilly Cake, can I get an amen for that?). And it’s easy to love on people you already like- so this year one of my priorities is more dinner parties and to not give up on meeting with my friends (does anyone else have the most difficult time scheduling hanging out now? Ugh, life of a twenty-something ;)).

“More dinner parties” sounds so silly and almost a bit pretentious. I pray my heart is sincere always when prepping a dinner party- that my heart is true to serving the Body, and less of getting that perfect picture. *(Which is not to say I won’t be taking pictures!)*

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(*ALSO I’ve used Hebrews 10:24-25 in another post. What a  sweet reminder (to me) that I need people. I cannot be content in my pseudo-wannabe-hermit life. We are created to live in community.)