Ever since I knew the definition of the word, I have been aware of certain stereotypes. Labeling a person or a thing because of looks, past actions, or current situations. Sometimes it’s not even based off of their own doing but someone else’s. Really, it’s unfair and somewhat sad.
In the past couple of years, I have learned that, to me, first impressions don’t really mean anything. The saying “first impressions are everything” is quite the opposite, I think. There have been many times where what I initially felt turned out to be different in a short amount of time, both negatively and positively. I dislike stereotypes even more than first impressions.
This is on my mind right now because, working in a church, you see a lot of different people. Thankfully, for the most part, this is a place where those who feel the most labeled should feel heard and loved. I just read a story out of Oakland, CA, about a homeless couple moving into the home of a successful stranger. This man lives in a predominately white, rich neighborhood. He recognized these people from seeing them on the streets. He felt compelled and moved to offer them a roof over their heads. Very soon, he saw just how important that was. Not long after they moved in, police were getting calls about a suspicious couple in the neighborhood. The couple said no one greeted them or extended a neighborly notion. They felt like they didn’t belong and said they would probably end up going back to what they’ve known for so long- homelessness.
Take a second to think about that. Not one, but two people living on a street, in the elements with no protection from weather or crime, accepted that they felt more at peace in this situation than the other. All because of a stereotype. Because they didn’t look as clean and polished as other people around them and maybe because their skin color wasn’t the same. This just scratches the surface on the intensity of a major problem in our country. Look at this quote for an article posted in 2018 in this very same month “Earlier this year, researchers questioned 6,251 Americans and found “that many urban and rural residents feel misunderstood and looked down on by Americans living in other types of communities.” It also said “Two-thirds of urban and rural residents agreed that “most people who live in different types of communities don’t understand the problems they face.” I think this is because people, I am no exception, can seclude themselves and become naive to their surroundings. But I also think it all goes back to stereotypes and what people assume about one another.
I know this isn’t a very uplifting post. But it's real. And, there is a good message I am trying to get at. Everyone should feel like they have a voice and they matter. Regardless of what they look like. I really hope that people feel like that is the case inside the walls of Trinity. Let’s all work together at this. I know people need to feel safe and there should be procedures, but if someone at our community dinner feels like they aren’t welcomed, what are we even doing? How to we face this? I’d love to learn your thoughts.
Once I turned 25 years old, each birthday seemed to arrive more quickly. When I mention anything about age to someone older than me, the response is often “oh, it’s just keeps getting faster.” No! That’s scary. But, even though some days it didn’t feel like this, overall I do feel like the last three years have flown by.
Saturday is my 28th birthday. As I get closer to 30, more scary thoughts try to creep into my head. I always thought that your 30’s were when life got really great, you had your stuff together. You start to make some money, relationships are generally figured out or at least you know what you want and don’t, things just seem to be on track. Well.. most of that is true for me. Ha. I’m not rolling in the dough but I have a fun and important job with nice people, I have true friends and meaningful relationships, and we’re all mostly healthy. Sure, more money would be nice, but I can effortlessly still say life is great.
It’s easy when we think about our lives to try and act like we know what it should be. I have to remind myself that it’s not up to me. I’ve already been shown this once when I thought I was meant to move away for a job but God had other plans. And, sometimes, it’s not what we think it should be. I say it a lot- I really do believe we all end up on the path we should be on and where God’s plan directs us. I’d love to hear any stories where you’ve experienced this.
I keep journals and I feel like every year when I write on my birthday, I have a lot to reflect on and I say ‘this was a big year for me.’ This year is no exception. Among a lot of things, I made a career change and left what I was previously so passionate about and invested in. I guess every year is big. And God had it planned all along.
I’m taking this birthday as a time to relax and spend quality time with my mother, unplugged and undisturbed about what is next. It’s not up to me anyway.
April is a powerful month, I think. If you’re into astrology, you may believe some of the most loyal and loving (sometimes stubborn but I think the better word is just ‘determined’) people were born this month. It’s rained a lot this month and I think we are all ready for more clear skies. I’m glad you’re entering the next year of life with me and I wish you as much happiness, love and gratitude as I feel, especially this week.
I’ve had moments where I have felt so small in this big world. Still, it’s always amazing to me when we’re reminded how small the world can be. Whether it’s running into someone you haven’t seen in years to find out they live just down the street from you or being in the same room as someone you met in a totally different context in another time in life. Yesterday, I found myself with two women I met when working in the news industry. I interviewed them while they were going through a seriously tough situation. Then, maybe around a year later, we found ourselves in a new place, tilting our heads at each other as if to say “wait, I know you.”
At the time of our first encounter, the couple was feeling like outcasts in their community. Their family was hurt and heartbroken. I don’t think they knew (who could?) that in the months to come they would decide to leave and get away from it all. (Note- it wasn’t Fort Wayne but nearby.) They felt like it was just too much to take. Really, they lost faith in their neighbors. At the same time, unknowingly, I was crawling toward emotions relating to my job which I loved that I hadn’t expected to reach either.
About two months ago they decided to move back to Indiana, but this time to Fort Wayne. While getting everything back on track, they’ve found themselves needing someone with them in that journey. Then they discovered Trinity. They aren’t members and haven’t been here before but somehow heard about our care and love for our neighbors. They came to talk with someone about food. There they heard we would be filling Dignity Bags, stocked bags of personal hygiene products we give to our partners at Wellspring, and that we would be filling them in a couple days. So, they decided to come help. The mentality was you were there for me, I would like to repay that and to be there for you.
As we caught up, we shared our stories of how we ended up at Trinity. Though everything isn’t exactly perfect, these two women are pushing forward and things are looking up. The future looks brighter for them and you could feel their determination and positivity. They were surprised to see I wasn’t in news anymore and we talked about how that happened and the effect the decision has had on me. All of it circled back to one simple thought: life happens as it should and I was meant to end up here. So were they.
I’m so glad that Trinity’s mission isn’t a secret. We were just featured in Fort Wayne Magazine discussing some of the work we do. As great as that was, seeing two people from the past find us from another town and come here to trust in us is even better. We care about our neighbors and I think they care about us.
What is on your mind? How can Trinity be a better neighbor for you? As the new season is closer than ever, new beginnings are so close. Let’s get there together.
(This post is dated back to the end of February)
Happening in the present. H.I.P.
I have this little tag in my office as a daily reminder to live in the present. On one side it repeats “H.I.P” and the other “happening in the present.” It probably came from a piece of clothing or some candle I bought. Either because I sometimes have a problem with “collecting” (if you want to call it that) random things or because it is important advice. Maybe both. I always try to live in the moment but am not a perfect person, so I forget.
Sometimes I forget because I always have some dream in my mind- some place I want to go, something I want to accomplish. A “dreamer’s” mind sounds cliché but I guess that could be part of it. None of this is to say I am not happy with where I am, nor is it “just a millennial pipe-dreaming” (mom). I just know there is a lot of awesome stuff out there and don’t ever want to limit myself.
I also forget to live in the moment when I’ve a bad night of sleep and wake up to meet a forecast just as dreary as my energy. I could complain and say “I’m so tired. I’m sick of this weather.” But then the rest of my day would be wasted. Plus, it’s really not bad. All of that little stuff changing my usually bright mood just shows how good I have it. That’s when I have to check myself, saying “Sara, life is great.”
I think about all of the people who are at their wits end and would rather live anywhere than in the present. I pray for people who are having a tough time every night when I say my prayers before bed. The mood I started this day with is a reminder in itself to realize what really matters. Our friends, our family, our community. How can we help each other be in a better mood? I really do believe it’s up to us to decide how our day goes. We certainly cannot dictate what happens to us all the time but we can choose how to react to it and I think that can really make a difference in what comes next. Have you had a positive experience at Trinity with someone showing they care about you? Suggestions on how we can boost your mood alongside your own efforts? I’d love to hear.
I just stumbled across this really sweet community called “Words of Women.” The woman who started it originally couldn’t find a publisher or agent for a book so said “okay, I’ll self-publish.” She believes quotes come from real and personal stories and what was on her social media feeds wasn’t showing that. So, she shares these quotes and actual stories with them. Her Instagram and website are now filled with words from women all over. A quote I saw today said “it’s the right decision at that right moment.” That applies to everything I’ve felt up to about 12:30 Monday afternoon. In reference to the dreaming and in changing my mood as well as thinking more about the people around me instead of my pity party invite. Note, I do strongly believe in self-care and appreciating our feelings and moods. I didn’t choose to ignore or hate how I felt, just decided that’s not how my day was going to go. A bit later, the sun came out a bit. I’ll take it.
“The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts. . . take care that you entertain no notions unsuitable to virtue and reasonable nature.”Marcus Aurelius. He gets it.
Something great that happened last week. We launched God on Tap at Hop River Brewing Company. It’s a time where we can bring our thoughts, questions, doubts, etc. and safely share them over a beer. The goal isn’t to get everyone to agree or to get them to come to Trinity. It’s just about good conversation. We all have questions. Doubts. For sure. Trinity learned about this from a church in Virginia. It all stems from Pub Theology- an effort that has smaller groups all over the world. Fort Wayne is now on their map.
We promoted it and invited people by word of mouth with no idea if anyone would actually show up. Then, it was SUPER windy and cold and icy and not nice out. I was beginning to think maybe it would just be Pastor Erdos and I talking and enjoying a beer.
But, people showed up. Actually, 12 people showed up. Even more, only four were members of Trinity. I said prior that I would be thrilled to have 10 people show for the first one. So, I was really happy with this. I can’t wait to see what it forms into. Hopefully we will learn from each other and maybe even say “wow, I never thought I’d connect or like someone who has such different beliefs than I do.” Then, I’d really be happy :)
P.S. – How are you feeling this Monday? I am getting pretty ready for spring! I don’t think this winter has been that bad BUT I’m approaching the end of my interest in it. How about you?
Have a great week!
My mind is not fully there for writing right now for some reason. Well, writing full sentences. I’ll jot down just kind of some quick thoughts in my frame right now. Maybe a poem?
Winter is fully here.
It’s a time where eventually I'll dream of warmer days.
Dream of sun.
Time to really make it a point to remember why I am happy because it’s easy in this gloom to sometimes feel gloomy.
Last year was the first time I experienced it.
Vitamin D vitamins have been recommended.
I don’t expect to feel as low this year.
I wasn’t happy at work and it wasn’t hard to go in for the day only in the winter.
Winter it just got worse.
There were weeks without sun.
I love the sun.
Did she leave us?
She always comes back.
And so quickly everything can feel different.
Everything can change.
Just like when she left.
To be in a place where the air changes.
Warm, hot, cold.
Everything around the air changes with it.
Trees, grass. Ecosystem.
4 seasons. 4 times of life.
Life is different in each.
Feelings are different 4 times. At least.
I haven’t lived another way.
By the time one season comes to an end, I am ready for new air.
This Midwest pattern is all I’ve known.
I think I like it.
But how would I know?
Some people really love winter. I certainly am seeing people at the church who most definitely don’t prefer it. Wherever you stand, I hope you are warm. If you have pets, I hope they are warm. I mean it so deeply that it’s all I am going to wish for you this week.
September 10, 1935- January 17, 2019
Sometimes new things can be challenging. When you’ve been part of something, an institution maybe, for a long time or even your whole life and then developments happen it can cause a lot of different emotions. I really do believe that change isn’t a bad thing. When something is evolving, it shows it’s alive. If this something means a lot to you and has been a part of your life, that could be very exciting for you. I think it should. But I understand change isn’t always easy.
I’ll get to the point. What I’m talking about is the idea of a church being a community neighbor and opening its doors to people other than its members. I just had a conversation, and it surely was not the first and won't be the last, about all of this. A long-time member wondering why do we have to do this? Our members support this church and have since its existence. Are we not enough? To that I said bringing more people in is not a factor of something lacking within. Bringing new people in is part of what we are all about. It’s our call to be Godly people and lead a path the way Jesus wants and expects us to. Almost perfectly centered in downtown, we have immediate access to this adventure. I’m not an expert but I imagine Jesus as someone who would open his doors to anyone and everyone. While still loving and appreciating his closest allies, he would be willing to accept those who live beyond his doors. Shouldn’t we be doing the same?
I hear and understand the opinions of a change like this. However, overall, this is not a new idea. Larger cities have been working at this for more than a decade (check out this article.) I believe churches all over our community also now know their existence has to include their neighbors. I am not a member here at Trinity and that was known when I was hired. My bosses wanted someone with an "outside” point of view because those are the people they want here with our members. I have already since September grown to appreciate and care for Trinity and am forming relationships within. I am already proud to talk about what goes on here and how we can be a place for you, no matter what your circumstances are. While I am doing that, the focus is in no way going away from the beloved members that call Trinity home. We just want to show more people how great your home is and hope that here they can form, at the least, pieces of their home.
What if anything do you know about Trinity? Are you a member here? Have you ever been here? What do you think a downtown church should encompass? How can we be a better neighbor for you? Please, I want to hear it all.
It’s January 4th and I am outside writing on my laptop. I’m just next to our garden which is really gorgeous when in full bloom. (I like it now, too.) How crazy is it that I’m sitting here in the sun sweating in my winter coat and boots! Maybe this weird warmth means winter will last longer or it comes at the hand of global warming…I don’t know…I’m not going to think about it that much and get into all of that. I’m just going to enjoy this.
The holidays have come and gone for another year. I cherish the time with family, but it seems to get a little different every year. I guess I just care more about our time together than the traditional excitement that comes with the season, I think. I hope you felt joy and love, too.
Now there is a lot of focus on a new year and resolutions. I’m not one who focuses hard on New Year resolutions. I never could figure out why limiting my potato chip intake would make me a better person. SO, I strived for more personal goals. Listening more, getting impatient less, etc. But, even then, these are things I work at all the time so I don’t really stress too much on 2019 resolutions but just keep trying to be better. Do you have any resolutions?
I do like the idea of a new beginning with a new year, however. I think it’s nice to look back on what the last year brought- obstacles, triumphs- then look ahead to a fresh start. I experienced a lot of new challenges and emotions last year and am happy with what I gained in the process. It certainly wasn’t all challenging! But, during all good and not so good emotions, I prayed for patience and trust. Patience is definitely my weakest virtue, so I pray a lot for guidance in that realm. I prayed for patience when I felt like I wasn't sure where I was going. I’m glad I ended up where I did. Now, a whole new set of patience comes in the picture. Patience with a change in a career, a change in tasks, a differently-paced job, and more. It’s all exciting though and I’m very much looking forward to what’s ahead.
The last couple weeks I’ve dipped my toes into some new finance lessons, too! Learning ways to handle my credit card, looking into options for a reliable vehicle. First week of 2019 I think I’m learning a lot! But, today, my head hurts from the new “adult” information a 27 year old learns. Patience is definitely needed here ;)
It’s so comforting to know that no matter where we are- reflecting on the past year, easing into a new year, learning life strategies- God is right there with us. We may not end up learning the way we want to but I am going to try my best to use patience in knowing that it’s learning the way he planned me to. Happy 2019 to you.
Being sick is no fun! I know, no news there, Sara. But, wow, did I get a reminder this week. Monday was a great day. We had just spent a long weekend in Florida enjoying each other’s company before weekend schedules fill up until the spring. It was lovely. Then on Monday, I woke up in the late evening hours, possibly already morning, very ill. It came quick! I feel like I haven’t had a fever since I was a child.
Florida Doggo livin' the good life
It’s crazy how quickly it can happen. I mean it was just like “boom!” And, man, no turning back for more than 24 hours. But, hey, it happens. It comes and goes. I cannot imagine those who are struck and stuck with illness. Also, I have so much help if I need it. My family was there, my partner, my friends, my coworkers who have turned friends. The real ones in need are those who do not have access to medical or personal help.
I am confident, after only working here almost four months, that Trinity can step in with those situations. I know there is the option of at home communion for those who can’t make it here. Plus, if someone just walked in the doors needing help they would not be turned away. It is such a great thing for our community to have that right here in the center of downtown. Somedays I want to just shout from our rooftop “you’ve got to see what this place does!” Part of that is because I’m still newer here and it’s exciting to learn. But I don’t think that impact will wear off over time.
I hope none of you get sick this holiday season! I joke that it’s almost like we just want to hide inside to avoid it. That would get lonely. Already after two days I was feeling like “okay, I’m bored.” There is only so much Netflix and Hulu. Or is there? ;)
As the weekend approaches, I’m reflecting on thankfulness for my health and praying for those who are down. Physically and mentally. I woke up feeling back to myself yesterday and thankful for all of those people I mentioned who have my back and who I’m blessed to call friends. Then I came into work to holidays cards and gifts on my desk. I couldn’t be more grateful. As we approach Christmas, I wish you health and so, so much love. If the flu does find you, I hope you have someone at your side. Not that I think you aren’t tough enough on your own, but a little support is pretty great in these moments. If you don’t, call your neighbors at Trinity or call me.
P.S. I’m a big music fan. Music makes me feel good. Well, not every song of course. Today it’s happy music! I want to start sharing what I’m listening to sometimes. Here are a couple. Share any in the comments, please!
P.S.S Caboodle always knows when I don’t feel myself. He slept on my pillow with me while I was sick. (this photo was before, clearly.) I just love him and wanted to share.
Everyone is in full swing of the holiday spirit and busy schedules. It’s kind of weird but the holidays feel different to me than when I was younger. Not that it’s less exciting, but just not as much anticipation I guess. It’s almost as if it’s calmer. It gives me more time to remember what this is really all about.
We all know having faith can be hard sometimes. You wonder why bad things happen. And how people can deal with things they go through. I don’t want to be a person who pushes God on people. But I can’t imagine getting through it without some belief there’s a plan, even if it’s far off in the distance and we may never understand.
Advent is a good reminder of being patient and having faith during those times when faith is hard to obtain. As we wait for the coming of Jesus, there are #Advent words we can reflect on during the season. I wrote about mine being “wild” and “smooth.” I think one of my favorites though was “grow.” I like that word because we think so much about being patient and waiting and having faith but we don’t really think about how that’s making us grow as a person and grow on our journey. It’s a part of our religious journey during the season to wait and grow and with busy schedules we can forget that.
I like that the holiday season has become a little different for me. I have more time to think about growing and having faith. And I hope those who are going through horrible things can step back from their schedules and take time for this themselves.
Welcome to my blog. I am so happy I get to do this. Please know that I will be open, honest, and personal. I never wish to offend you or your opinions but rather use this forum as a way of expression. Blogs give people that freedom and I hope with each post, even when we disagree, we have mutual respect for each other as well as appreciation and gratefulness for this type of medium.