Hello friend; going my way?

Welcome to all the new readers who’ve joined and signed up for updates. For the past six or seven weeks, you’ve been getting a weekly post about my spiritual journey. I hope you all stick around as a pivot to a blog about my hobbies: baking bread *yum*; cooking all sorts of things and sharing recipes; volunteering at my church, reading, reading, reading, and reading some more as I balance two book clubs; writing something besides this blog; and finally, going deep on gardening this summer. I’ve bought so many plants, potting soil, seeds, and more that I can truly relate to this meme:

Seen, felt, heard.

Moving toward the Spirit, part 7

Thoughts on growing in faith. Last in the series. To catch up: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6.

My quest to draw closer to Jesus continues, no matter where I go. At times I’m very good about devotions in the morning, praying and reading my Bible; most of the time, I honor daily devotions in the breach by thinking about it for a few minutes. And then feeling guilty. Every time I deviate from my ideal I realize that I’m falling away from relationship with the Lord. He doesn’t move away from me; I’m the one straying. That’s one of the reasons I’m so grateful for the Anglican Book of Common Prayer. The structured Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, and sometimes Compline have been a super way to keep me praying, reading Scripture, and spending time with God. Not that I do them all the time. Like I said, I’ve been much better at observing them as something I should do.

I decided to get a leather-bound copy of the 2019 Book of Common Prayer. Built to last!

When I discovered podcasts devoted to morning prayer, I was thrilled. Finally – a way to listen to Morning Prayer while walking my dog! (Usually, I’m listening to something that isn’t filling my head with good news.) CotA’s church plant, All Souls, created the wonderful 10-minute podcast Lord, Open My Lips and I use that. Another way I’m focusing on God is to go to the Wednesday morning Eucharist our church offers. I’d been off and on, but on my birthday last October, I decided my goal for the next year was to go each week. I’ve been more often than not and I’m keeping on.

It’s not usual to find an Anglican running around in my part of the South; anybody seeking out liturgy is usually an Episcopalian. Most of my friends today in Columbia are Southern Baptist. That only makes sense, because 1) I spent 20 years in a Southern Baptist church, and 2) the top three religions in South Carolina are Baptist, Methodist, and SEC Football. But over the years my spiritual journey, ever since I was 12, has led me to going to where I truly think the Spirit of Truth is. I felt that in my time with Wesley Monumental, with Lamb’s Chapel, and then RHBC. Right now, that is in the Church of the Apostles, a member of the ACNA. In my Apostles 101 class I loved how our past Dean (that’s a fancy Anglican word for the head priest at the cathedral church of the Diocese) described the church: the place where the Scriptures are rightly taught and the Sacraments observed. At least that’s how I remembered the saying. And everywhere I’ve gone, I’ve been looking for a place that carefully paid attention to the Bible and actually believed it.

I think I’ll end my journey written journey here, with part 7. It is, after all, the perfect number.

Moving toward the Spirit, part 6

This is the next-to-last post in this series. If you need to catch up, just look at the previous five weeks of posts!

It started with an Excel spreadsheet. Wait: before the Excel spreadsheet, there was an unfortunate administration change at my old church. RHBC’s beloved senior pastor was retiring after a long career. And the new guy was (is) hard-charging, young, enthusiastic, with clear vision and purpose. Unfortunately, his vision didn’t include the outstanding choir director who had led our choir for the past 10+ years. After he was shown the door, I waited until Christmas, to sing in one last Christmas cantata. (I wouldn’t have done that again to witness the chaos resulting from a choir that wasn’t fully in sync with the director and vice versa – missed cues, botched songs. Ah, schadenfreude!) I waited some more, thinking we’d get a new permanent choir leader and everything would start afresh. When that didn’t happen, and the temporary director became the director, my last day was Easter Sunday 2018.

Here’s where the Excel spreadsheet came in. I put together a list of the requirements I was looking for in a church and decided to start visiting around. Here’s what I put them on a spreadsheet:

Continue reading “Moving toward the Spirit, part 6”

Moving toward the Spirit, part 5

Hopefully I will wrap this multi-part series up soon, but no promises….

That Disciple Bible study was the first time I had done in-depth Bible study. I wouldn’t study the Bible so thoroughly for another two years. I finished the course and put the Good Book back on the shelf to gather dust. In the meantime, I left Savannah, took a job that kept me working afternoons and evenings, and stopped going to church for quite a while.

It wasn’t until I started attending Lamb’s Chapel, a non-denominational church in my next town that I truly started reading the Bible again. I went there because a couple of friends I made in my new town were attending. It was as different from the liturgical United Methodist church as could be … there was no liturgy. Instead, we sang all out for about 30 minutes, followed by a few announcements. Then, the senior pastor would commence to preach, straight from the Bible, for 45 minutes. And what made it fascinating was that I actually liked hearing his sermons. They weren’t the dry sermons I was used to hearing. I actually started taking my new copy of The NIV Study Bible with me to church and making notes in it. I marked up that new Bible completely with notes from those sermons. I stayed at that wonderful, non-denominational, Bible-filled church until I left Florence about 18 months later.

Continue reading “Moving toward the Spirit, part 5”

Moving toward the Spirit, Part 4

This is the fourth in a multi-part series on how I grew in my Christian faith. See part 1, part 2, and part 3 to catch up.

Ah, the recycling. That and the fact I was pulled in so many directions, like most American teens, had a lot to do with my falling away from the faith for quite some time. I may have attended church during the college years, but it was a faith grown “lukewarm.” Yuck.

After graduation I moved to Savannah in early 1990 for my first job. Sad to say, part of my motivation for finding a church was 1) because the president of the place I interviewed at told me about important church was to him and 2) I was looking for one of those beautiful old churches in the historic district. Not too much on the actual faith part – more of a “looking good” type churchgoer. In a happy accident I wandered across one of the most spirit-filled churches of all, which just happened to be historic, beautiful, and blessed with a magnificent 60-rank Noack organ: Wesley Monumental Church. I was determined to go to a church with glorious music just once in my life!

Wesley Monumental at Christmas – I was lucky enough to sing in that choir
Continue reading “Moving toward the Spirit, Part 4”

Moving toward the Spirit, part 3

Third in a multi-part series See part 1 and part 2 to catch up.

Right after the high of the Youthciple experience, I really wasn’t sure what I was supposed to “do.” So, I just kept going to church. But certain things didn’t set well with me. First, I didn’t like how so many kids my age just started dropping out. It was hard to keep going to MYF when I knew so few people, and I wasn’t the most outgoing person to boot. They were all from different middle and high schools – I didn’t know them! And I didn’t like how so many things we were taught in Sunday School didn’t seem to play out in daily life.

Continue reading “Moving toward the Spirit, part 3”

Moving toward the Spirit, part 2

this is the second part of a series. The image above: Noah’s Ark by Edward Hicks

Believing was so simple, so pure when I was a child. God said through the Psalmist he who had clean hands and a pure heart would ascend the hill of the Lord. And I wanted that.

“…Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Matthew 18:3

I think the first scattering doubts crept in when I read a child’s version of the Epic of Gilgamesh. It had to be around fifth grade, maybe fourth. This volume was published by Disney! It had to be okay. Disney was practically patriotic in our house. Some of the only television we kids were allowed was Sunday night’s Wonderful World of Walt Disney.

There was a character in the epic named Ut-napishtim. In these stories from Mesopotamian mythology, he survived a great flood by building a ship to transport his family and some animals. Hmm….

Continue reading “Moving toward the Spirit, part 2”

Moving toward the Spirit, part 1

This is the first of several parts.

I was a conscientious kid who loved going to church at Virginia Wingard Memorial United Methodist Church. My favorite parts were singing in the children’s choir and looking at the beautiful stained-glass windows when the sermons got boring. The windows depicted the life of Christ. As I remember there were seven or eight on each side. His birth in a stable was shown in the first one on the right, leading to his baptism by John in the next window, and so on down the right side and around to the left, culminating in his first resurrection appearance (or was it his ascension? I think that was it. I’m having trouble remembering) on the left closest to the front. Those stained-glass windows were an education in themselves, helping little kids who couldn’t pay attention to the sermon the basics of the faith in beautiful colored pictures that shone gloriously when the sun hit them just right.

I just looked all over the web for pictures of those beautiful windows and the best I can do is an image of someone’s wedding, when they aren’t even the focus. Besides, in 1990 the church redid the interior, changing the pew alignment, the choir arrangement and the color of the walls. Those windows will have to live on in my imagination. Because I can’t find a picture of that beautiful stained glass of my childhood, the header image is something just as glorious: the stained glass at Sainte-Chappelle in Paris. Be sure to click over to the site for the tour.

Learning to sing

Back in the early 70s kids’ choirs everywhere were singing “Do You Hear What I Hear” at Christmas. We did it for a big extravaganza presentation with the combined children’s and adult choirs. Our adult choir director and director of music, for many years, was Dr. Richard Conant, RIP, a wonderful singer, professor of voice at the University of South Carolina, and founding director of Carolina Alive.

Continue reading “Moving toward the Spirit, part 1”

Learning to focus

How do you maximize the time you have to do the things you enjoy?

As part of this ‘work-at-home’ journey I’ve been on for the past nearly two years, I’ve had to learn more about focusing than ever before. As much as I enjoy my job (well, not all the meetings, that is) it is tempting to sometimes let my mind wander. And before I know it, 15 minutes has passed. And then I need to work later, longer hours to make up for it. And that eats into my “me” time – my time for my hobbies, the time for my stuff outside of work.

So today I’m going to share with you one of the tried-and-true methods I’ve found for making it easier to stick to the task at hand…

Continue reading “Learning to focus”

Goals Set, Goals Missed, Goals Set Again

I’m only two weeks into restarting my blog and I’ve already missed my first goal: publish at least twice a week. I even have 16 different blog topics started in various drafts. And I set up thrice-weekly reminders on my phone to post. Yet still – offline for a week!

I’m going to treat this blog the way I’m treating my successful (so far) diet: a slip doesn’t mean it’s all over. I just get back up and get back to the goal.

To paraphrase fictional heroine Bridget Jones: if it is true that success is the progressive realization of a worthwhile dream, then that is the definition of a diet. I don’t have the energy to shoehorn that into a blogging metaphor as I’ve been up since before 5, but I like the quote.

(At 9 p.m. my eyelids are falling shut in spite of me. Yes, I need to re-arrange my writing schedule and write when I am fresh, in the morning. I’ll start that Wednesday.)

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to get the last of my “personal” topics out of the way – nine of my 16 remaining drafts are related to personal thoughts. And then, after that’s out of the way (in four and a half weeks if I stick to my twice-a-week schedule, less if I post more) then I’m going to turn this blog to what I really want to focus on: in-depth look at the hobbies that I’ve come to love over the pandemic, and two that’s been with me all my life. I’ll be focusing first on three areas: Books, Gardening, and Writing. I’ve been a bookworm all my life. Growing up, if I loved a book, you could usually tell because either a) the book covers were read to pieces, b) it had a tomato stain on a page from a pizza slice I munched as a read, or c) I read it so much I had it memorized and was quoting parts to you. (Ask my dad about how I recited parts of Erma Bombeck’s “At Wit’s End” from memory.) I’ve loved writing ever since third grade, when our teacher had us write short stories every week. Part of my career was working in journalism, and I’ve saved a few clips from along the way. And thanks to COVID, and the big backyard I have now, I’ve been doing more gardening than ever.

Come along with me for a look at my favorite books, what I’m planting in my gardens and my latest writing. (That’s after I finish emoting in those nine personal posts!) As I’ve learned from my latest diet – you need to bundle a reward with a chore to increase your chances of success. Once I can sustain my regular posting schedule for four weeks, I’m going to treat myself to a new logo for the blog.