My Blog Got a Makeover!

•May 21, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Hello friends!

I know that I have some subscribers that have signed up to get an e-mail notification when I’ve written something new, so this blog post is mainly for you!

My blog has been given a makeover, as well as a url change, so this site will no longer be where I’ll be posting.

If you are still interested in receiving e-mails letting you know when something new is up please visit:

 

http://www.julienglowacki.com/

 

and sign up for the e-mail updates again on the right hand side πŸ™‚

 

I’m sorry for the inconvenience! I hope to resume my writing here in the near future. πŸ™‚

 

Thanks!

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Comfort Zones

•January 25, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Hello Everyone.

So, I come to you today with my head hanging in shame. I knew that it had been awhile since I’d made the time to write a post but what I did not realize was that it has been almost 4 months…..

While I am slightly ashamed, I also must admit that I needed the break. In my last blog post I reported starting my new job as a one-year-old teacher, this among other things have seemed to soak up just about every last ounce of my energy so when I do find a moment of quiet in the evenings I usually retreat to my bed with a big glass of water and Netflix on the computer. If I’m being honest, writing this right now is a bit of a challenge for me. I got off work this afternoon at 4:45, came home to freshen up, ran out for some dinner and was back at church at 6:30 to work childcare for the Wednesday evening service. I’m pooped. I’m going to take a quick shower and crawl up into bed but first I’d like to write to all of you wonderful people taking the time to follow and support me! πŸ™‚

As mentioned before, I have been working at my “new” job as a preschool teacher for about 4 months. When I first began the position I was shocked at how quickly I fell in love with my kids and how hard I fell. I didn’t realize it was possible to be so in love with kids that aren’t my own? Sometimes I sit back and watch them play and interact with each other, or I look down at them holding their arms up, begging to be held, and I literally think I can feel my heart tingling and growing just a little bit bigger in order to love them just a little bit more. Almost as if my capacity to love them grows day after day of being with them. Maybe I’m crazy and I’m just feeling heartburn or something. πŸ˜‰

But, let’s be honest here, 8 hours a day with 12 little ones isn’t all warm fuzzies, it’s a lot of WORK, patience, self-control, discipline, routine as well as flexibility. I know that I’ve said it time and time again, but working in childcare is not my calling. I don’t feel in particularly talented at it, nor is it in my spiritual giftings, day after day I feel as if I’m being taken out of the comfort zone of what I KNOW I’m good at, out of the comfort of what I’m really passionate about, out of the comfort of feeling in control of my circumstances and of my life. For a control freak like me, walking into work knowing that I have zero control over 99 percent of what goes on the eight hours that I’m there (Zack has a fever, Rhea wet through her pants…..again….., Ellie is climbing on the shelves…..again…., three of the teachers called in sick today so I have to sub in a classroom that’s not my own, it’s raining so we can’t go out onto the playground, therefore our kids are running around the room like mad, tossing toys about and screaming) makes it difficult to feel grounded or at least like your head isn’t spinning for a minute.

As a matter of fact, taking a moment to think back on the last 4 or 5 years of my life, I can pinpoint several things that the Lord took me through in which I would label them “out of my comfort zone”. I’m sure that every single one of us can think of at least ONE thing that the Lord has asked of us that wasn’t in particularly comfortable.

This last Christmas I flew to my parents new house in Indiana to spend the holiday with my family. On the trip there I took with me a book that I had been TRYING to finish reading for some time, and what better time to force yourself to finish a book then when you’re smooshed in between two strangers who you’d rather not converse with. You can’t look out the window because you’d make the person on THAT side of you uncomfortable, and what’s the use of staring into the aisle, you’re just going to make the person on THAT side of you uncomfortable as well as the person sitting across the aisle from you. No, it’s better to face forward and focus on something of your own, i.e. a book that you’ve been trying to finish for months. The book is called “Longing for You: The Journey from Intercession to Intimacy” by DL Cossu and was actually very insightful and powerful at times. I encourage anyone looking to deepen their prayer life to pick it up. Anyway, somewhere towards the end of the book the author wrote a sentence that JUMPED out at me. To be honest I can’t remember the full context, nor can I remember what that chapter was about, but the sentence alone sparked a train of thoughts that I have pondered ever since.

This is what she said, ” Whenever anything involved taking you out of your comfort zone, “No” was a simple answer. He is your comfort now, and you want to be wherever He is.”

That my dear friends is the sentence that has sat in my spirit for a month.

For so many years I have held with me the idea of “comfort zones”. That I have this little bubble of the things I know, love, am good at, things I’ve done before, people I know or have at least met before, and places I’ve already been. The things that are inside of this bubble around me are my “comfort zones”. We all carry them, we all have them. These “zones” if you will, in which we would be just fine never having to come out of.

This is what I felt the Lord lay on my heart, HE is my comfort, and if I truly believe and stand on the truth that that is EXACTLY what He is, how can there be any zones? any limits? My God is sufficient and knows no bounds. He is yesterday, today and forever. He is the great I Am. He is always with me. ALWAYS. My comforter is ALWAYS with me. How often do we put a box around the Lord by creating “comfort zones” in our life that we, probably more often than not, choose to never leave because it’s scary. How many of us perhaps hinder what the Lord is trying to do in our life because we base decisions off of whether it’s comfortable for us or not?

I looked it up, in the NIV bible, there is some form of the work “comfort” 71 times, in the KJV bible, 119 times, and 52 times in the Message bible. Any way you slice it, I’m pretty sure the Lord is trying to get across to us that He is our comforter.

The peace and comfort the Lord provides is without a doubt limitless and we cannot be taken out of it as long as we are in His will, so the next time you reach into your back pocket to pull out the old “that’s totally not in my comfort zone” excuse, I challenge you to reach again.

When you proclaim the Lord, your God and Savior as your comforter, your zones no longer exist.

Period.

❀

New job, New church, New month, New beginnings. :)

•October 2, 2011 • Leave a Comment

“New”.

Just that word inspires much thought and feeling. When I think of the word new I usually think of the giddy feelings. A new dress. A new friend. A new car.

Or perhaps the unsure feelings? Trying a new recipe. Taking a new route to work. Going to a new school.

The word “new” usually conotates “change” in some form or another, but even more so than change, I think of “freshness”. It’s interesting to me how I quiver at the thought of “change”, but welcome the idea of a “fresh start”.

New.

So many things in my life are connected to the adjective “new”. A new job. attending a new church. the start of a new month, a new season, a new schedule. I can literally feel the change as if it lingers in the air. I can feel my attitude shifting from icky change, to fresh beginnings. I suppose that’s all it is, isn’t it? Our attitudes towards the events laid out before us?

Where do I even begin?

Last Sunday I visited a new church for the first time.

I have been shopping around for a new church here in Lakeland for a little while and this was the second one on my list to physically go and attend. There were/are so many thing about this church that I had to consider, both pros and cons. The church is right down the street from my apartment complex and , when the weather is nice enough, and when I muster up the energy, I can literally walk to church. It’s a fairly large church (about 1,500 people between 2 services on a Sunday morning) which I really enjoy and there are lots of ways to get plugged in and involved. However, it’s a denomination I’m not really familiar with…or at least I wasn’t. It is a Nazarene church, a denomination I knew almost nothing about prior to visiting. I grew up Assembly of God, so really the thought of any other denomination was a little intimidating. I am also attending alone. I don’t know of anyone that goes there that I might know, so I am finding myself in the same situation I was in in Kansas City. I have no problem attending church alone, I have found it to be strangely liberating, but it’s always a LITTLE bit harder to get up and go to church every week when I know no one will miss me if I’m not there. Also, not having any ties or connections makes it a little harder to get involved. Not that they would turn me away or anything, but for me personally to gather up enough courage to put myself out there and get involved.

All things to consider, and all things that were running through my mind Saturday night and Sunday morning.

Service started at 10:45, so by the science of visiting churches, I showed up at 10:52. πŸ™‚ I slipped in to the VERY last row of the sanctuary, mostly because the place was so crowded and the lights were down so low I couldn’t see any other options. I had hoped that by showing up 7 minutes late I would have missed the dreaded “greeting time” where everyone turns all around and greets the people in front, to the side, and behind them. This is, in all actuality, not a terrifying experience at all, but for someone new (like me) who wants to stay invisible, it is a highly anticipated part of the service. I unfortunately did not miss it and was forced to shake hands with several people.

Anyway, the service proceeded after that with worship, announcements, offering, and the sermon with a final worship song at the end. A pretty standard church order. However, almost immediately after starting worship I found myself completely overcome with the Holy Spirit’s presence in the room. There was no special prayer asking for it, there was no cry out or anything, it was just…..there. The people are so filled with the Holy Spirit that He just resided in the room. I can only assume that people were individually asking for the Lord’s presence and so it just…. was. I’m not sure I can accurately describe it but as soon as the first chord was struck I was overcome with emotion. Tears to be more specific. I didn’t know 3 out of the 4 songs in worship, yet I still found myself uninhibited. I was able to worship freely without being distracted by the strange songs. That’s how pure the presence of the Holy Spirit was. Even after worship ended, the tears did not. Throughout the entire service and even on the short drive home I couldn’t help but stay in that place. What a pleasant surprise! For not knowing anything about the Nazarene church, I could now say with great certainty that they were a spirit filled group of people. I enjoyed myself so much I went back to church again today.

I don’t know if it’s the Lord’s will for me to make this church my home and get involved. I can’t say for certain just yet, but I do know I would like to continue “visiting” until I get a clearer answer.

Church Website: http://hpnaz.org/

In other news, I started my new job! πŸ™‚

About 3 weeks ago I was hired on to be the lead teacher in one of the toddler rooms at Small Wonders Preschool. As with any organization I was required to complete a background check and get finger printed, however, I could not start work until these things came back all clear. All part of working with kids.

What I was NOT counting on was the TERRIBLY long wait for these things to come back. Almost 3 weeks I waited. and waited. and waited.

But finally everything came back all clear last week (as if anyone was worried. πŸ˜‰ ). I started my new position last Wednesday and I absolutely love it!

I am working with a class of 12 one-year-olds every day and so far am having a blast! They are at such a fun, interesting, critical age where they are learning SOOO much. It’s a very sensory focused age as well as a time where they are learning the basics such as sharing, discipline, routine, and consistency. I have an incredible group of babies with SUCH different personalities and levels of ability so all-in-all it is not only a joy, but a challenge.

I have one little girl that hasn’t started walking yet, while all the others are walking and at times running (no matter how wobbly they are). I also have a little girl that verbally seems to be ahead of the others, although she can’t form ACTUAL words, she babbles CONSTANTLY, and soon I know that babbling will turn in to actual words, while most of the other kids keep pretty quite with the occasional laugh or cry or random noise. Most of them are pretty self-sufficient in their play time, but there are 2 or 3 that still want to be held all the time. I can hold most of their attentions during circle time, while there are a couple that can’t seem to sit still. There are a few that LOVE art time and doing sensory learning (i.e. feeling and touching different materials) while there are QUITE a few that HATE it.

So many different kids with different levels and personalities! It’s so much fun and SO exhausting at the same time!

Wednesday and Thursday I got home from work and literally CRASHED in my bed.

I know that as time goes on and I learn more of the routine and the way things are supposed to be done with this age group it will get easier. I will be able to write lesson plans with ease and I hope and pray that by the end of the school year I will be able to see a little bit of progress and some of the results of my work. That is one of the main challenges I know I’ll be facing with this position, although I know what we do every day is going to place them WORLDS ahead of other children when they enter into elementary school, and while I tell myself everyday, that although they can’t sing their ABCs and count the 1,2,3s WITH me, that the repetition will implant it in their minds and one day they WILL get it, I am a task oriented person through and through, and it is difficult for me to feel like I’m making a difference if I can’t see the results or cross things off of my to-do list.

So, I will continue to pray for my kids and my paras every night and I will believe that before this school year is up I WILL see the fruits of my labor. πŸ™‚ but in the mean time, I will look at these PRECIOUS faces, and smile knowing that if NOTHING else, my job is really fun. πŸ™‚

 

In regards to all the other new beginnings in my life. Well, I embrace them wholeheartedly. October has begun and the weather is RIDICULOUSLY gorgeous here. I have been sitting out on my balcony soaking in the perfect weather all afternoon and I don’t plan on stopping any time soon. I welcome fall and all that comes with it….whatever that may be.

I know that I have had so many of you following me through this journey and praying with me the whole way, please know that I don’t take that for granted, and that your prayers are working. The Lord is and has been blessing me in numerous ways. I also would like to ask that for anyone that wants to, to pray for me as these new beginnings turn into routines. Please pray for me in my new job that I would be successful with my kids, and successful in connecting with the parents. That I would have complete peace and focus as I start lesson planning. And ultimately that the Lord’s will would be done in this new job.

Also, if you could pray for me and my church hunt. If this new church is the one for me, I pray that I would slip in with as much certainty and ease as I did at Evangel in Kansas City.

I love you all so much! And to everyone back home, I miss you more than words could EVER say!

I’ll try to keep ya’ll posted!

❀

 

Our roots say we’re sisters, our hearts say we’re friends.

•September 25, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Last weekend my big sister came to visit me for a couple of days. She had a couple days of vacation and chose to spend them with me! She flew in Friday late in the afternoon and left BRIGHT AND EARLY on Monday morning (we left the apartment at 4:45 a.m.), therefore, we had to cram as much activity as possible into our Saturday and Sunday!

Saturday we spent the entire day on the beach. Paradise. πŸ™‚ My favorite place in the world is the beach and I was happy to share it with my sister. We layed out and tanned, played in the ocean and the waves, walked in the tide and searched for shells, and eventually watched the sun set. Perfection.

On Sunday we were able to visit Walt Disney World! We had park hopper passes which gave us the freedom to visit any and all parks throughout the day. We chose to spend time at Animal Kingdom first, then Epcot, and then Hollywood studios (Christina had never been to the Animal Kingdom or Epcot before).

In Epcot you can taste all different kinds of Coke from different countries around the world! πŸ™‚

We ended the night at Hollywood Studios! After riding the Tower of Terror and Rockin’ Rollarcoaster we settled in to watch the Hollywood Studios night show! This was a really neat mulit-media show. It’s really difficult for me to explain, but there were fountains, fire, Disney characters, video projections, music, lights, fireworks, and floats. Got it? haha

There was so much going on and the lighting was always changing, so it was really difficult to get good pictures. Here was our attempt. πŸ™‚

I have to admit, after dropping my sister off at the airport at an ungodly hour of the morning on Monday I literally felt like I had been hit by a truck. We had done so much in so little time, but it was SO worth it. Getting to spend time with my big sister doing some of the things that I love most, wouldn’t trade it for anything.

❀

Couponing 101 – The Coupon Binder

•September 22, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Hello friends!

I hope I find you all having a splendid afternoon on this beautiful day! (Well, at least in Florida it’s beautiful, I can’t speak for the rest of the country!)

So, recently I have been embarking on something new and different, it’s a growing fad and I am not ashamed to say that I am on the verge of jumping on that bandwagon. Based on the title and the photograph (hilarious) above, I don’t think it’s any secret to what fad I’m referring.

{Couponing}

A good friend ofΒ  mine has been perfecting the art of couponing for the last few months and has now taken me on as a VERY willing student!

When I first moved to Florida I lived with her for about a month and was a tag along on MANY a shopping trip which is where I got to see first hand the amount of money her and her husband were saving due to this skill she was dedicating herself to. Of course I was like most, skeptical that all of the work that goes into couponing is ACTUALLY worth it. I mean who has the time to clip coupons and actually keep track of them just to save a few bucks? But as I observed, I found myself watching her acquire things like feminie products, deoderant, tooth brushes, and toothpaste (just to name a few) for FREE.

{ABSOLUTELY FREE}

That’s all it took to get my curiosity peaked.

So, as I am learning couponing 101 as of lateΒ  I am here to pass on my new knowledge to YOU lovely people! I will be the first to admit, I’m no expert, nor do I have the craft, the science, nay the ART of couponing down yet, but one thing I CAN offer you is the resources to start this project YOURSELF!

The resource that my friend has highly recommended, and the source that I now use is thekrazycouponlady.com.

I encourage you to take the time to REALLY get familiar with the site. It is so overwhelming at first that, at least for me, the urge to just exit out and forget the whole thing came over me several times as I attempted to browse. Fear not though, there IS a beginners tab! πŸ™‚

http://thekrazycouponlady.com/beginners/

So, being the OCD, organized, perfectionist that I am (most of the time) my first concern was how in the world do you keep your head on straight when you are literally dealing with hundreds of coupons at a time and they are spread EVERYWHERE as you are collecting them. (This was NOT going to fly in my apartment.)

The way the Krazy Coupon ladies suggest is exactly the method I adopted.

{A COUPON BINDER}

You will findΒ  more in depth instructions under the beginners tab on thekrazycouponlady.com.

OR

Watch an instructional video at

http://www.youtube.com/user/TheKrazyCouponLady#p/u/9/rCfLqp7JwvU

Items you will need:

  • LARGE binder, after you get started your binder will fill up FAST. Suggested is between a 3-5 inch binder.
  • About 35-40 page protectors
  • Baseball card holders (You will need A LOT of these)
  • A pair of scissors
  • A calculator

There are 2 ways to organize your coupons within your binder, by date or by category. My preference is to organize them by categories (Beauty, Produce, Frozen foods, etc.) One of the GREAT things about the Krazy Coupon Lady is under the beginner tab they offer a printable table of contents and printable category separators! You don’t even have to make up your own categories! πŸ™‚

Here is a picture of the front of my binder and the printable table of contents. They have created 36 categories, but as you get in the swing of things you are always at liberty to tweak based on your needs.

The sheet protectors are, of course, for your category title pages. Each one is numbered in correlation with the table of contents making it SO easy to flip to the category you need!

And the last item in your binder will be your baseball card holders! After you acquire and clip your coupons they will slide nicely into the slots intended for baseball cards! πŸ™‚

And that, my friends, basically sums up your binder. Is that not SO easy? I don’t know about everyone else in the world, but I know that after every school year/semester I was always left with random school supplies that I didn’t know what to do with, so I’m sure you can all find a old binder, a calculator, and a pair of scissors lying around, and then, you’re half way there!

I have to brag a little here and say that my friend/instructor was SOOO gracious and provided me with all my materials! πŸ™‚ She is literally THE BEST!

So there you have it. The start to a new and exciting activity! After you have your binder put together there is nothing left standing between you and couponing!!

Well, other than finding all the coupons. πŸ™‚ But I can assure you, between purchasing multiple Sunday papers, dumpster diving (maybe I’ll cover this in my NEXT POST πŸ˜‰ ), browsing the internet, downloading coupon apps on your smart phone, and even simply LIKING things on Facebook, there are coupons EVERYWHERE. You just have to be on the lookout for them!

The Krazy Coupon Lady.com is already really great about helping you find the coupons, especially online. As I suggested earlier, make sure you get really familiar with their site, it will be your best friend!

As I leave you though, I will not leave you completely empty handed. Here are some coupon websites to get you started!

{GOOD LUCK}

+

{HAVE FUN}

{Employoment}

•September 19, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Good evening!

It’s only 8 o’clock my time, but I write to you in my pajamas in my bed. I am slowly attempting to recover from quite possibly the most exhausting weekend ever. My sister came to visit from Missouri, but was only here for 2 days, therefore, we had to cram as much as we could into those 2 days πŸ™‚ I will post about that with pictures soon!

Tonight I come to you, to update you on a subject that has, as of the last couple of months, been the bane of my existence. Something that has inspired many an emotionally driven post, caused many an angry, frustrated prayer, and caused even more tears.

 

{Unemployment}

 

I do believe I’ve said it before, but I will, without hesitation, emphasize it again, although I do not fully understand the reason behind the Lord’s delay in opening the door to a job, and although, I do not wish unemployment upon anyone, I have thoroughly enjoyed my “time off”. It has allowed me to read several amazing books, spend LARGE amounts of time with the Lord that the average person doesn’t get, wrestle with some of my own issues that I, quite possibly, was entirely too busy before to even notice, and it has given me a WHOLE new perspective on life.

How often does one get all of those things, and more? I hate to say that the Lord had to force unemployment upon me in order for it to happen, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

I now also have this incredible new appreciation for work. I have sat without a job for 2 and a half months, and all the while I have listened to so many people complain about their jobs, complain about all the stress that comes with it, complain about how their jobs consume them. I have listened to people who have no appreciation for the employment or the income it provides and I have to wonder, do they know who they’re talking to? At least they HAVE an income!

I hope to God I never take any employment the Lord hands me for granted again.

And….speaking of employment the Lord hands me……

 

I am not officially….

 

{EMPLOYED}

 

πŸ™‚

 

That’s right. I come to you tonight with a more positive update. My unemployment stretch is coming to an end and I could not be more thrilled.

I am now the new lead teacher in the toddler room at Small Wonders Preschool!

I know, I know, those of you that know me are probably reading this thinking, a preschool teacher?? But she majored in business? But she has no experience in a classroom setting? But she’s only ever REALLY worked with teenagers?

And to that I would say, yes, you are absolutely correct.

Our God works in MYSTERIOUS ways. πŸ™‚ This position was not even something that was on my radar. For the last couple months I had been applying like a mad woman for business positions. Administrative assistant positions. Reception positions. Etc. Etc. I had 10 interviews in 9 weeks and still no job. Although people were telling me how strong my resume is and not to worry, something will fall into place, nothing was. Although I have LOTS of education and experience in the field I was applying, still no one seemed to want to hire me.

After awhile two things began to happen in my mind.

 

{Panic}

and

{Creativity}

 

Panic being, my God, I need a job NOW, a job, any job, just GET A JOB.

and Creativity being, lets think outside the box, lets apply for things you might not normally apply for.

 

This included things like waitressing and retail (the usual) as well as, a cheer leading coaching position, nannying, a number of para professional positions in the local elementary and high schools, etc. etc.

A couple weeks ago though I had a conversation with a good friend of mine who works at Small Wonders preschool, she knew I was still searching for a job so she mentioned that the preschool was losing about 3 of it’s employees, a teacher and a couple of paras. She said she didn’t know if I’d be interested in doing what she does (a para) but that I should apply.

Trust me, I was there the NEXT DAY getting an application.

After which, I got an interview.

After which, I got the job. πŸ™‚

Funny thing is, I walked in applying for and hoping to get a para position, however, in my interview the director of the preschool made it clear she needed to fill the lead teacher position and wanted to fill it with me.

I can’t even describe what was going through my head at that moment. A lot of fear and doubt that’s for sure. I’m not qualified. I’ve never done this before. Why would they want ME? I have no idea what I’m doing? Lord, preschool? Really? Why the heck did I get a business degree?

And yes, all of that DID flash through my mind in a split second.

But, despite every instinct in me to say, “I’m sorry, I just don’t feel qualified for this position”, I literally herd myself say:

“Oh, yes! I’d love to! It sounds like a great, very fun opportunity!”

……………………………………

Lord have mercy.

And just like that. I became a preschool teacher. πŸ™‚

I turned in my background check and got finger printed at the end of last week, it should come back in the next couple of days and then I will be able to start this new exciting season of life!

I have no idea why the Lord would place me here, but I’m so excited to find out! If He sees it necessary to grow and stretch me in this area, far be it from me to deny Him. I’m ready to learn! I am also ready for that paycheck! PRAISE THE LAMB!!

I’ll keep you posted as the job unfolds!

Thank you to all who have been so faithfully praying for me in this difficult time! I am blessed to know there are so many of you out there committed to partner with me in such a meaningful way!

❀

Goodnight.

Church Shopping

•September 4, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Happy Labor Day Weekend to all and a special happy Sunday. πŸ™‚

The internet is out at the apartment so I find myself curled up at Starbucks with my Strawberries and Cream Frappuccino and a Sunday paper. πŸ™‚

This morning I went shopping……….for a new church. This experience is not an unfamiliar one to me, I went through it 2 years ago in Kansas City and found myself at Evangel, which was the best place the Lord could have placed me. Now, I’m back at it here in Lakeland. I have to admit though, although this whole process isn’t new and I’ve “shopped around” for churches alone before, it still hasn’t gotten any less nerve-wracking at times. The whole experience of searching the internet for churches in the area, then visiting each website to get a feel for the church and what they believe, and then mapping out a schedule of when you will visit each one and when Sunday finally arrives, getting yourself out of bed and dressed. I usually give myself a little pep talk in my head as I’m putting on my makeup, yes, I’ll admit it, I stare at myself in the mirror, mascara in hand and tell myself “You can do it!” πŸ˜‰ It would be so much easier to just go back to bed and do a devotional on my own, so instead of letting myself slip into that mindset I usually pump myself up all morning while getting ready.

This morning I had chosen an Assembly of God church not far from the apartment to attend.

I chose this one first 1. because it was so close to home, 2. because it’s an Assembly of God church and that’s what I grew up in so I figured it would be the most familiar to me, and 3. because the building looked fairly large, so I assumed the congregation had to be a pretty good size which would make it easy to slip in and out if need be. (yes, I’m one of THOSE visitors)

I pulled into the parking lot, which to me looked pretty full, this was a good sign. I pulled in about 7 minutes late, so almost everyone should already be there. 7 minutes is an appropriate amount to be late because if the church PURPOSELY starts 5 minutes late to accommodate the late comers you are STILL a little late and can slip in the back during worship without being noticed. (Yes, I’m one of THOSE visitors too)

Trust me people, there is a science to visiting churches. Take notes. I’m a pro.

However today didn’t go exactly as I had planned :/

As I said, I appropriately showed up 7 minutes late. I walked in with confidence and was greeted by the tiniest, sweetest old lady I have every met! She handed me my bulletin and Pentecostal Evangel and HUGGED me! haha! It was pretty much all down hill from there though.

I slipped into the sanctuary and to my horror they had not started worship yet, there was a lady, a missionary I think, speaking to the congregation and asking for prayer. Now most of you are probably thinking well that doesn’t sound so bad, and you would be correct, THAT was not so bad, but let me mention that all the lights were turned all the way up and the way the sanctuary is set up the pews go all the way back to the back wall, there was no back aisle or anything. And when i say pews, I mean PEWS, like old school, long, wooden pews and they are all angled in such a way that when I walked in, 7 minutes late, the last 3 rows could see me. Ugh :/ Also, the men that were standing at the back doors, I’m assuming they were ushers?? did not offer one bit of help finding me a seat. So I stood there for a moment attempting to collect myself without distracting the missionary lady that was speaking and find myself a seat.

Can I just say that when you are completely out of your comfort zone and you feel like the WHOLE room is watching you (even though no one is) and all you desperately want to do is find a seat and blend in with the crowd, that is the exact moment that you can’t seem to focus enough to find a seat!

I finally spotted a row though, that was basically empty, however, the only way to get to the empty seats I had spotted was to crawl over someone. Awesome. And that is exactly what I had to do.

After I got seated and collected myself enough to look around I realized that the sanctuary which was a pretty good size, probably held 500-600 people, was only half full and 90% of the people in the room were over 60 years old. I don’t think uncomfortable even accurately describes how I felt.Β  All I wanted to do was blend in, but now, being fully aware of the fact that I was sitting in a sea of grey hair and canes, there was no hope of that happening.

To be fair though, I was still looking forward to experiencing their worship and hearing the pastor speak, I mean it IS a holiday weekend, so maybe half of their congregation was out of town……….all the young ones.

Worship finally began and they started with “Mighty to Save”, I was pleasantly surprised by the semi-recent choice of song but the worship band was super SUPER conservative. Almost PAINFULLY conservative for me, and the electric guitarist kept playing the wrong chords at the end of every line, not that any one but myself noticed, they probably all had their hearing aids turned down. After Mighty to Save we sang “Revelation Song”, again, I was pleasantly surprised! and our third song was a hymn.

Towards the end of the third song the pastor came up and invited anyone who needed special prayer down to the altar.

And this is where my distaste really began.

I have to stop here and say that through the last few years of visiting new churches I have come to some PAINFUL realizations about how we as a church are not doing our job of being visitor friendly and inviting of those who are still searching spiritually, all too often I have been in a church that is SO inward focused that everything they do is to feed their current congregation as opposed to creating an environment where visitors can visit and seekers can search. Over the last 2 years the Lord has really ignited a passion for this in my heart and I have had my eyes opened to this need.

So anyway, he invited people up for any special prayer need at the end of worship, after he was done praying with those that responded he came up to the stage and said “I feel lead to do something, I want to stop all the music, everything, and I want us to praise the Lord at the top of our lungs, just the voices.”

At this point I was sitting, I had sat down during the prayer time because after a while it just got awkward. All of the older people around me who could no longer physically stand started sitting down and I was left standing all alone. haha

The music stopped and everyone started praising the Lord with just voices, and when I say praising, I don’t mean singing, I mean praising in song and with words. Now, I have been saved since I was very small, I have grown up in church my whole life and I have experienced a lot of things, but can I just tell you, I felt SO uncomfortable during this time as a visitor, can you imagine if I was unsaved?

After the yelling and praising died down a bit someone on the other side of the church shouted out in tongues for about 3 minutes or so. Everyone around me was crying and praising, but I, I sat there awkwardly. I completely understood what was happening, and praise God for His gifts of the spirit, this wasn’t unusual, I have experienced this several times in my life, but as a first time visitor, I felt really uncomfortable.

I felt partially uncomfortable because of what was happening, and the other part of me felt uncomfortable because I wasn’t reacting the way the members of the church were. I wasn’t overcome with emotion or falling at the altar or anything like that. Honestly all I could do was pray that someone would come with the interpretation and keep this whole thing biblical.

After a couple of minutes the pastor began to speak the interpretation igniting all sorts of new emotions around me. Everyone was crying, everyone, but Julie.

I was trying not to be a Debbie downer, what had just happened was worthy of praise, having the holy spirit move like that, but the pastor never stopped to explain what we had just experienced, he never took the time to point out where it is found in the bible, and I’m almost ashamed to say it, but as I was sitting there listening to some man scream out in some foreign language from the back of the room and everyone weeping as he did, I could FULLY understand why people think we’re crazy. It all sounded and looked crazy.

After that the pastor said, “well I’m not sure where to even go from here, so I’m going to open up the altars for anyone and everyone to come and we’re just going to continue praising the Lord.”

I don’t know if I’m allowed to say this, but I was REALLY annoyed. If the Lord had led him that way than praise God, but this was just even more confirmation to me that this was not a church home for me. I sat there for about 5 more minutes as everyone praised and cried and cried and praised and ran to the altar and what nots, and then, I just got up and left, sadly, because of that experience, I will probably never be back.

Now please hear my heart, I don’t share this awful experience with you to diminish the church or what the Lord was doing in those people this morning. I’m sure they all walked out of there touched. My heart is not to judge churches who don’t do things EXACTLY like I want them to be done, there is no formula, there is not “right way”, but I do believe there are a lot of churches who are oblivious to what they are doing and how they just might be shooting themselves in the foot in regards to being welcoming and inviting and growing as a congregation.

I personally believe every church should see their church through the eyes of a visitor. I think they might be shocked at what they would hear.

So, that church was not for me. My search will forge onwards next week and I hope that it will deliver more favorable results.

On a side note though, this morning made me REALLY miss my Evangel family back in Kansas City.

I love and miss everyone from back home. ❀

More updates to follow soon I hope!