Why Belonging to a Church is Important for Christians

Before Dr. Wile E. Coyote and I moved way out to Kentucky from the northern Midwest, we looked online for a church similar to ones we’d been attending. We prayed for seven-ish months before we moved that the first church we went to in Pikeville, KY, would be the church that the Lord had for us to grow, flourish, and get plugged in at.

Why?

Because having a church home is how you grow. True, one can do Bible studies on their own or podcast a sermon. But IT’S NOT THE SAME. The church is VITAL to individual spiritual growth. Did you know that for couples who attend church regularly, the divorce rate goes down, leaving it at 1%? They don’t even have to be born again Christians for that to happen—the Lord uses his bride for that effect on people.

Churches are also important because of FELLOWSHIP. Dr. Coyote and I also prayed that we would find friends right away. We came to Pikeville on a Saturday, so that we could go to church the following day. In church the next morning, we met Jim and Erica, a couple from the northern Midwest, as well! They took us out for supper that week, and told us about gender specific Sunday school classes and the time they met at. So the next week, we began attending Sunday school!

Sunday school (or small groups that can meet anytime during the week) are great to get plugged into for a few reasons:

  1. You get to meet people! There aren’t as many people in a small group than there are at church. You will get to know them, and they will get to know you. Friendships may form, if you let them!
  2. You get to grow even DEEPER in your spiritual walk. Not only will you cover extra material, but a small group gives a chance for questions or discussions! VERY helpful.

Which leads me to another reason why attending church every week is so great: You develop a church FAMILY. Not only did we get new friends and new opportunities to grow, we could request prayer for something and know without a doubt that there will be prayers petitioned on our behalf. We can greet people we see at church in the store, not only because we recognize them, but they are family!

There are some people that have had bad experiences with church or never feel welcomed. Let me touch on the second point first:

At some bigger churches, especially, where there are multiple services, not everyone is going to know anyone else. They may just think your new face is in their regular service because normally you go to a different one. REACH OUT! Tell somebody that you’re new there. Dr. Coyote and I were lucky—we got to the church we currently attend during a holiday weekend, so EVERYBODY knew that we were new—we weren’t sitting with anybody, and there was a scant crowd that day. But I didn’t instantly recognize people as family after one attendance. “Hi, I don’t know you!” I sometimes say while I’m greeting somebody. Whether I’m simply unfamiliar with a person or they are new—it doesn’t matter.

do-you-think-god-cant-use-you quoteThe first point: Yes, many churches have hurt people. I have heard tales over and over about it. But does that make you want to give up church all together? Not all churches are the same. I’ve attended churches of all sorts of denominations because to me denomination doesn’t matter, as long as the pastor preaches from the Bible and there is a welcoming atmosphere. Those two things are honestly the most attractive first-impressions of a church. (I’ve moved around a little bit in my lifetime, believe it or not.) Why were you hurt? Because of a conviction you received that you didn’t want to hear? Because of something you, nor anybody in the congregation had any control over? I find it sad that after a church has issues with a pastor, many times they disintegrate. Who was that church following? The pastor? A human being, just like you and I? Or Jesus Christ, the God of the universe? Just so you know, Jesus can use ANYBODY. He is able to use a pastor who has committed a crime, he is able to use a homosexual pastor— he used prostitutes in the Bible, for goodness’ sake! And liars and thieves and drunkards and ahh! So many.

Here’s something else: We’re told to.

Hebrews 10:25
Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Jesus went to the synagogue regularly (when he goes to Nazareth, he went to the synagogue AS WAS HIS CUSTOM). All over the New Testament, we are told to gather together! Love one another! Serve one another! What better place to do that than the church?

Most of all, friends, I actually love going to church. My weeks get long, but when I go to church, I know I’ll find someone to hug, and I’ll get my “fellowship fill” for the most part. I’ll learn something new, and the Lord will teach me things that GO WITH THE SERMON all week. Seriously, that happens all the time. When I’m down, I receive encouragement. When others are down, I can give it. Life gets monotonous and draining, but the Lord is with us through it all! (And don’t JUST go to church—spend time with God every day! He’s just that fun to hang out with. But…that’s a rant for another post.)

Anna E. Meyer

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Prayer Really Is Powerful.

I have started reading this book that I received at one of my wedding showers from my aunt Sheryl. It is a book by Stormie Omartian called “The Power of a Praying Wife,” and I highly recommend it for any Christian wife, no matter her stage in life. Anyway, through it, God has been showing me the kind of wife that he wants me to be. He keeps leading me back to scripture, showing me what all exactly I am called to do to be Dr. Wile E. Coyote’s wife. “How can I be the wife of a med student?” I have been praying for a month now. “Everyone says I need to be his support, but I don’t know how to do it!” Fervently, I have prayed for his help. But, you know, I didn’t really know how he’d answer. OH MY GOODNESS. Ask God for something specifically and expect an answer, and HE WILL GIVE IT! All you have to do is give him the opportunity.

Last night, Dr. Wile E. Coyote and I were invited over for a game night with some other Christian med students and their wives/families. Scott and Tammy, we had met in church on Sunday. And then we also met Andy and Sarah, John and Leslie, as well as the adorable children of John and Leslie (John’s a fourth year) and Scott and Tammy (Scott’s a second year), who were already friends with each other. We were playing this game called “Bang!” and Doug asked, “So, what is the best and worst part of being married to a med student?” That is all he asked, and he told me the next day that he had no idea where that question came from. But, alas, it led to some amazing conversation and advice from the wives of those students! Who did some OMT on The First Year. J According to all the wives, being practiced on for OMT (which I think stands for Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment? Correct me if I’m wrong) is one of the best things about being married to the student of an osteopathic med school. Especially this one! ‘Cuz they push OMT here in Pikeville a lot. And, it is a little known fact that KYCOM is one of the best schools for osteopathy. But boy, are they proud of it in this town! Plus, if you need a chiropractor or have pain in some muscle, there are a bunch of students who need practice, anyway.

God has specifically been answering so many prayers for this big faith step taken by Dr. Coyote and I. I just can’t get over it! I have a job, a great place to live, and FRIENDS. I have a purpose here in this town, and a reason for doing what I’m doing (being a teacher, the wife of a med student, etc). And here’s a prayer that wasn’t even prayed by us—John and Leslie dated long-distance, as well, so they were telling us how hard the first year was for them, because they never went through that “dating normally” stage. Like today, when Pre-Doc Wile E was looking everywhere for the scissors we used yesterday. I can misplace my phone after 45 seconds of being in the house. It’s one of those things that many couples get over while dating. It’s whatever.

Dr. Wile E. Coyote and I have been appreciating all of the prayers that have been coming our way. We are SO blessed to know all of you! We are getting plugged in here and acclimated to the culture that is so not like that of the Upper Midwest. Next week will be a transition week, as Dr. Coyote begins orientation and I do more at Sound House Music. I’ve already been meeting people (okay, one person) who wants their child to take lessons from me!

So blessed.

So thankful.

Praising God for his mercies and grace,

Anna

I’M MARRIED! And God is good :)

Colossians 2:9-10, “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.” Basically, this is saying that Christ completes us. Not a soulmate or lover. Christ. In Genesis 2:18, God says, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” And then woman was formed.

Anna and Doug Meyer
Photo credit: Byron Bredlow

Here I was, all ready to gush about my recent wedding and the awesomeness that it is being Mrs….Wile E. Coyote (AKA Meyer). And then the Lord just kind of tapped me on the shoulder. Christ completes me. D and I do help each other and kind of fill in gaps, but we are not the fullness of the other. I knew this, and I just want to make it clear. (Now that I found where it is stated super clearly in scripture!) D and I are our own, independent people. We have individual relationships with God and with our own friends. We are two totally different people. What a miracle it is that God can take two very different people and make them ONE! “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). When someone gets married, relationship priorities shift. Parents don’t help make big, important decisions. The spouse does. Parents may give advice, especially when sought out, but the number one person in a married person’s life is their spouse.

Dr. Wile E. Coyote and I have been praying since we started dating that our relationship would be glorifying to God. He has been hearing our prayers. This I know because of a few things: the doc (student) and I started dating in August. We were engaged on New Year’s. Married on June 28. Everything in our relationship has just landed in place. It’s incredible. Our wedding was focused 100% on God, and all our guests could see it. We didn’t have alcohol at our reception, but it was a PARTY! That fact really spoke to the place where our reception was and the people helping us out there. Those who we’ve shared our story with have been encouraged, and those who have been watching our story unfold have seen it, too.

So here we are, living in Pikeville, Kentucky. The Lord has been hearing our prayers for this place, too. Awesome landlords, we fell in love with a church the first full day we were here (Sunday), and we’ve been invited out to supper sometime this week by a couple that has lived here for a while (from Minnesota!?). Anyway, we honeymooned out here with minimals and some wedding presents. Dr. Wile E. Coyote’s parents will be out here next week with a U-Haul and the rest of our stuff. So, it’s been a challenge filled with late-night Wal-Mart runs when we realized how smart we were and forgot a blanket for the bed, a pillow for me, and laundry detergent? Ha.

I’ve only been married for like, a week, but already I have been hearing prayers answered there too. I have been praying that God loves my husband through me. I have been given this patience I didn’t know I possessed when I really just want to yell. I have been showing grace, when other parts of me fight it. Ya’ll who aren’t married yet? Patience and grace are huge things you notice real fast.

I felt like I needed to update you, my readers, on my life. I can’t even really talk about being married yet because it has been 10 days. That’s it. But those 10 days have been awesome and filled with road trips, no schedule, and a plethora adventures—exploring new cities, going to new restaurants that are common in the south, and talking with all those nice people with different accents. (Although, I guess since we’re the outsiders here, it is us with the accents!)

Keep it real, my friends!

Lovin’ life and livin’ in the moment,

Anna MEYER

Dating Someone with MS

I asked Dr. Wile E. Coyote to write a guest blog of his experiences dating someone with MS (hence the title) after I wrote this post about the importance of relationships while having MS. Oh, and have I told you, my readers, that I am marrying this man in like, two weeks?  🙂  Enjoy!  -Anna

 

I don’t know everything. I don’t know everything. I don’t know everything. I don’t know everything. I don’t know everything. I don’t know everything. I don’t know everything. This is the phrase that really humbled me and really began to sink in when starting to date Anna. She has a disorder called multiple sclerosis (MS). So what is it like dating someone with MS? I’m not sure if it is the same for everyone because every person is different, every relationship is different, and MS varies drastically from person to person, but I pray that sharing my experiences a little will help people out there understand what it can be like. Anna’s blog is so encouraging and I don’t want to stop that trend with this. I love you Anna! 🙂

 

The summer after I graduated college is when I really started thinking a lot more about moving our friendship to something more. Anna had shared with me glimpses of her MS and some personal things in day to day living that she struggled with, but not a whole lot of the deep stuff and really personal ways it had and has affected her. I’m not sure if it was soon after we started dating or right before (we will say right after to make things more consistent) I started getting afraid. What if we can never have children? What if she gets the JC virus and becomes a vegetable before we even get married or during our marriage? What if we can never have sex or it won’t be the same because of her MS? What if we can never run or walk together, because I like to run? Can I handle taking care of her in the future if things get worse? Am I ok sacrificing my dreams of being a doctor and beyond to take care of Anna if needed? What if she ends up in a nursing home really young? Can I be there to support her through all this? These are just a handful of the questions that would fly through my head. To add to this fear, my dad would ask questions like, “Do you feel like you will be missing out on some things in life by pursing a marriage with Anna?” Little did he know that was a very bad question to ask that made me doubt if my family even supported my relationship with Anna (not sure if he meant it that way, but that’s how I took it).

Additionally, my first time seeing Anna’s MS in action since we were dating was at her Mayo Clinic visit in Rochester. This was also our first time seeing each other in person for more than a day since summer 2011. This was August 2013. I was really nervous and tried my best to keep an open mind. Anna had described her limp to me multiple times, but to really see it was different. Well, up walked Anna and her mom, linked arms. We hugged and I got Anna’s arm and away we went. I was actually quite proud and giddy at this moment. Locking arms is kind of romantic. The doctor’s appointments raised a lot more questions, more out of curiosity, love, and concern, now. I am a born learner and observer though, especially when it comes to medical stuff and human body stuff.

Backtracking a little bit, leading up to the visit to Mayo with Anna, I did a lot of research and digging into her medicine Tysabri. This really triggered a lot of fears in me and my family when I shared some of the things I had learned with them. To put it simple, this medicine makes a person more at risk of getting infected by a virus known as the JC virus. This virus has the potential to turn someone very quickly into a vegetable with not much to stop it (at least that is what I remembered reading or what I perceived it as). *Disclaimer from Anna: the JC virus just means an increased risk for PML, the brain disease that can transform a human into a vegetable. D did his research months ago, and the risk for PML has also been getting smaller over time.* From what I remember, the odds are 1:1,000 of being infected while on the medicine. What was I getting myself into? For just starting to date a good friend, could I handle all this? Do I love her enough to be by her side if this happens? My doctor side kicked in as well and questioned whether there was other options of medicine (not knowing Anna’s whole story too well yet). So at the doctor’s appointment, her doctor never really mentioned if they found evidence of the JC virus infecting Anna or not. This scared the pants off me and really worried me because I wanted to hear it myself that everything was still okay. Anna and her mom weren’t too worried about it and tried to reassure me that no news was good news. I wasn’t convinced.

Basically, I made MS much larger in my head than it really is. It is a sucky disease, but by no means life threatening or aggressive (for Anna at least and most I know who have it). And with today’s research and medicines, can be controlled quite nicely along with its symptoms. Also, I distrusted Anna’s doctors and the LORD that the best decision was made for her to be on Tysabri. The LORD would protect her from getting the JC virus and has for about 6 years already. He would also give me all the strength and abilities I would need to take care of Anna how she needed it no matter what happened. He brought us together. He will help always.

Something else that made a difference for Anna and I was that I loved Anna for who she is before seeing her MS in full action. I loved her writings A LOT! I loved her optimism in the midst of MS struggles. I loved her musical talents. I loved her desire to hug people. I loved her relationship with Jesus and where they have gone together over time. I loved her spontaneous personality and go-get-um personality. I loved her Minnesotan and Olson dialect. I loved her many smiley faces. I loved her stubborness and affectionate nature. Okay, I love a lot of things about Anna and could go on for a long time with these things, but I must move on with this blog. Honestly, at Mayo clinic walking with her, I still saw her as Anna, not as someone to pity because they limp and have no sense of texture in their fingers. Not someone to feel sorry for because they have a life altering disease called MS and had it since 13 years old. How did I do that?

Two things really helped with this: 1) The love that Jesus has for me overflowed to the way I loved and saw Anna. 2) I had gotten to know who Anna was as a person for about 2 years through letters, emails, phone calls, and Skype. *Note from Anna: Skype didn’t start until summer of 2013. But spending, like, 4 hours at a time on a Skype call pretty much made up for that.* To see inside a person you have to get to know them. Talk to them. Ask them questions. Open up with them about your life and listen to them when they open up about their life. Then, you must remember that Jesus knows, created, uniquely designed, and loves that person and see that person with that same frame of mind.

So more about my experiences (sorry I tend to get more preachy then real). Walking with Anna is tough sometimes. We have to walk slower and I have to be more conscious of where I step or the space we have so we don’t walk off the street or on uneven ground (Anna can handle uneven ground or will walk on it anyway even if it really wasn’t worth it because of her stubborness or impatience). I never thought I would become a unit with Anna everywhere we went, but I grew to like the closeness. It actually made me kind of protective because I wasn’t sure if she could handle walking without support. Of course she reassured me often, sometimes I think biting her teeth, that she can.

On the note of protectiveness, I would be concerned for Anna a lot (and still am) when I don’t see her. She will tell me about her day of little energy or how bad she felt her walk was that day. She will tell me about getting super hot and not sure how she would continue with the day. She would tell me when any of her symptoms would flare up a little. This worried and worries me because I want to be there to support her all the time and be there to comfort her. I don’t want her to overdo it and burnout. I also want to see her care about her body and health as much as I do, so I encouraged her often to stretch and eat a little healthier (I still do both). Through this I learned a couple things and am still learning them. One, Jesus is always there to support, provide strength, and comfort Anna in her time of need. She knows this and looks to Jesus for that support. When we are married Jesus will use me to do this, but not always because her help is ultimately from Him, not me. Second, Anna has to make the decision herself to make lifestyle changes when it comes to her health. I can encourage her, but I can’t force it on her. Just like asking any person to change to or add healthy habits, that person has to find the motivation and need in themselves before the change will take place. I am learning to accept this and be patient with Anna’s decision making on her own health.

The toughest part about dating someone with MS is understanding the nature of the disease. I can never understand it because I can’t experience it without having it, but getting Anna to describe what happens to her body or how she feels in specific and analogical ways is extremely helpful. When I can go through a whole day even on low energy and still stay standing, Anna cannot. It took some time to learn her energy levels vary a lot because of fatigue and MS. I remember shopping at target together a few months ago registering items for our wedding. We walked around the store for a good 1.5 hours I would say. Anna had to stop and sit down. She was beat tired. I was fine. She was not. Also, Anna will get frustrated with her limp or energy swings often. She will try to push herself too far even though I may give her a very concerned look as I think, “I really don’t want you to overdo it.” I cannot fully understand the frustration inside. But I must let her work through it herself. I learned quickly to let Anna be stubborn if she is set out to be (at least to a point). I also learned that Anna is still an independent person. And like all people, needs help with certain things in life. Anna may need help balancing while walking a long distance. I may need help washing the dishes faster. I am not saying I learned this overnight, but trusting Anna that when she needs help, she will let me know. She is learning each day to ask for help when she needs it and it takes time for her to learn this. I try my best to be understanding of her learning processes.

This leads me to why Anna and I are complements. She is a get-r-done kind of person. I am a think-it-through kind of person. She has a disorder that forces her to slow down. I struggle with gettin-r-done when I need to. God has given me a spirit of understanding when it comes to people that is supernatural to me sometimes. I do not boast in this, for it is not of my own. This has helped me tremendously to understand Anna and her MS. I try to get into Anna’s world and perspective. I even looked up how much an average human leg ways to try to imagine what it would be like to limp like Anna. I sometimes think intently about what it is like to walk with a foot-drop and try to mimic it. I told Anna on a day or week when MS is made aware throughout the world, I will wear gloves and weights around my left leg, and potentially a device that forces my foot to extend so that I can experience at least somewhat close to what Anna does each day.

One more thing before I wrap it up. Psychologically, Anna has been to the depths of the dead sea and back. I count it a miracle she came back by God’s Great Grace. This scared me at first that this might happen again. But I see now it won’t. Anna now looks at only the potential for who she can be and what she can do. She loves people more than ever and pursues her dreams without letting MS stop her. Along these same lines, Anna has learned to deal with stares from those who don’t know her. I now get stares when with her. Maybe people pity me and her. Maybe I shine the light of Jesus that I love someone with a limp the way I do. Maybe they think I and/or Anna are both mentally handicapped. After a while, I learned not to care. I know I love Anna and I know who she really is. She is beautiful to me inside and out. A quick note on that: I honestly was kind of indifferent to Anna physically at first. But very quickly that changed. When I knew Anna on the inside, I think the inward beauty started transferring to how Anna appeared on the outside to me. Now she is my babe! And we are getting hitched in 13 days!

The past few days I have been wearing a bracelet Anna gave me that says, “I love someone with MS.” I use to look at that in pride, saying to myself, “That’s right.” or I would smile thinking of Anna. I still do the latter and as I wear it I think of the story Anna and I have to encourage and share with others about MS and our relationship. I am not perfect and do get impatient with Anna sometimes. I do have thoughts here and there entice me that I am missing out on something by marrying Anna. But I know that I will experience far better things then those things I am “missing out on” because I love Anna more than any person on this earth.

 

I hope this was encouraging and real.

 

Doug (AKA Dr. W. E. Coyote)

HOPE

Hope: noun (first definition) the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best

I took a quiz on Facebook today that told me in five simple questions what my happy word is, and it gave me HOPE. Normally, I take those Facebook quizzes for funsies and just laugh at the result. But I liked the description on this one: “You refuse to give up on anyone, including yourself. You see the best in others. You think happiness should be shared. You spread your message of optimism as much as possible. You will keep believing when everyone else has stopped. You think good will always prevail in the end. You believe if we trusted each other more, the world would be a better place. All we need is a little hope.”

I downloaded “e-sword” (basically, a really neat tool for studying the Bible in-depth, even though at first it looks like an old, ’90s computer program or something), and in the KJV, I looked up “hope” and got 130 matches. It’s interesting that modern translations substitute other words like “wait” or something. But the Hebrew dictionary entry for “hope” is this: “tiqvâh tik-vaw’ From qâvâh; literally a cord (as an attachment ); figuratively expectancy: – expectation ([-ted]), hope, live, thing that I long for.”

The word hope gives joy and expectancy. In the trinity, who is continually at work here in ways we can’t see; in the physical return of Christ. In each other. I do believe in sharing happiness with others. Smiles are contagious, you know. I can’t be in the doldrums longer than I want to because of my optimism (even before I was on anti-depressants and cried a lot and freaked….I still smiled, which is kind of weird when I think about it now). Hope is the word that was on those red rubber bracelets before the National MS Society decided that orange was a better color for their logo. Hope for a cure of MS and a better tomorrow. I have dreams and hopes for myself and for the way things will be. I hope to become an author (now with the name “Anna E. Meyer” instead of Olson, as I formerly wrote of often…smiley face). I hope to teach others of the subjects that I love—of music and playing it; of Christ and the many things I’ve learned and want to pass on; of simply living a hope-filled and a Christ-filled life. Because Christ is hope. He is my hope and the reason for my continued smile. It is he whom I trust, and my Minnesota-roots that have taught me to trust others, as well.

There is always a reason for hope. Even when life feels down or bad things happen, God is there. There is a silver lining. Hopes of mine have already become realities: my hope of a husband who loves me for me (well, that’s a month away still, but he loves me for me even now); my hope of writing for an audience (thanks to this blog and readers like you for my start), and my hope of a future, even with this blasted MS. I graduated college in 4 ½ years. I’m currently living in an apartment with three other roommates whom I love like sisters. And I’m getting married in a month! God is good.

Smiling,

Anna

What are your hopes? Have you seen hopes become realities?

Dogs and Men

A Look At a Dog

Dogs smell funny. They have bad breath and gas, too.

Dogs can be picky, but still eat many things, and when they do,

they might get sick. And then we, the humans, must clean it up.

We must feed the dog and give him water in a bowl, not a cup.

I tried that once (and it’s not the best idea ever).

Dogs sleep in random places, and are easy to trick (because we’re more cleaver).

Dogs want to play all the time; they like fetch and tug-of-war.

But we humans set the rules. We decide to let them out the door

or trick them into going outside before we shut it quick.

Dogs are not smart enough for my trick.

Sometimes, they’ll just cuddle and be calm.

But that will soon end, because it never lasts long.

There is dog hair everywhere because they SHED.

Even if they live outside, their hair will end up in your bed.

All in all, I kind of like dogs. They’re not so bad.

They are better than many other living things, so I’m glad.

 

A Look at a Man

Men smell funny. They have bad breath and gas, too.

Men can be picky, but they still eat many things, and when they do,

they might get sick. Because they never know when to quit.

It’s up to us, the women, to help them stay fit.

I tried that once (and it’s not the best idea ever).

Men sleep in random places, and are easy to trick (because we’re more cleaver).

Men want to play and not just talk; they like catch and wrestling on the floor.

But we women set the rules. We decide to kick them out the door

or trick them into doing dishes for us quick.

But men are too caring to see through my trick.

Sometimes, they’ll just cuddle and be calm.

But that will soon end, because it never lasts long.

There is hair everywhere because both of us SHED.

And then you get married, they end up in your bed.

All in all, I kind of like men. They’re not so bad.

They are better than many other living things, so I’m glad.

 

The Olson Family Dog, Pongo
The Olson Family Dog, Pongo

A Note About my Comparisons

Once, I hung out with my dog, but I was missing my long-distance hunny.

So Dr. Wile E. Coyote said that he sent the dog in his place (funny).

I mentioned how annoying the dog was, but he just shrugged.

And I began to see what he was talking about, so the dog was hugged.

It’s not that Dr. WEC is a dog or anything like that,

But I see the dog more often, and he’s not a cat.

And because the Doc is such a dog person, I guess I’ll hear his say;

Especially ‘cuz we’ll probably end up getting a dog one day.

Check ‘Yo Self. And SMILE.

It always interests me and yet annoys me at things we say about people driving in other cars down the interstate, people sitting at different tables at restaurants, people behind the register, and in general, just people that we don’t know. Those we have never seen before and never will again. We automatically make judgments about those whose stories we know nothing about. I fear the judgments being made about me at times. I have a limp, and I can barely move my left leg properly. When I meet someone on the sidewalk: Will they stare? Avoid me? Awkwardly look at me, see my limp, and look away? Ask or assume what’s wrong? When I pull over to the side of the road and stop on the interstate so that I can listen to a job being called and type in numbers on the keypad (substituting): Will those who I just passed wonder what happened, if only for a fleeting moment? Will they think to themselves, “Why did she pass me so quickly if I’m just coming back now to pass her? What was the point?” And I really appreciate those who I pass (while my car is on cruise a few mph faster than them), who will speed up to pass me, and everyone in the vehicle glares at me as they do so. I have heard many rants and observed for myself how putting a cash register between two people changes the attitude of a customer to one of entitlement; and giving the cashier attitude is what they deserve, because they weren’t allowed to budge in line or their card was rejected.

I confess that I, too, am an avid maker of quick judgments. I assume a motive of why a person is driving way faster than anyone else, and I write it off as them being idiot drivers. What if they are rushing home because of an emergency? What if someone in the car is in need of something immediately? There are so many judgments that I used to be so quick to make, but am working on. I would judge those unmarried and living together, those who have children out of wedlock, those who are homosexual, those who have three or four spouses and/or many kids, each with different fathers or something, among other things. I am very traditional, and have all those traditional values. But I DON’T KNOW THEIR STORIES. I don’t know why somebody is like the way they are, and it is wrong for me to assume and degrade a person for an action I only see from the outside. I don’t know WHO they are, so what right have I even to judge? When someone asks for my opinion, I may give it. And I have opinions about those I’m close to because I know them well and I care about them. I try to understand, and I fully support my friends and family, with whatever choices they make.

Words mean a lot to me, so when someone says something unkind or not thought-through, I am hurt by the comment. But when a stranger compliments my lipstick or says a kind word, my day is made.

I challenge you to be more conscious of how your attitude and words may affect other people’s lives, if even in a moment. To make this world a better place, it starts with US and the million choices we make every day. Pass on the positivity! Have you sent a smile to someone today?

Anna

 

1 Thessalonians 5:11, “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”

 

Lord, where are you goin’ with this?

Music. Teaching. Writing. Pastoral Care. All my life, I have been led in these directions.  I am at a loss.  You know when I said, “This is the first time in my life I have no idea what’s happening in the future and I’m okay with it”?  Well, those words are coming back to bite me, because I am not necessarily okay with it anymore.  I just want to know what I’m going to be doing so that I can focus on that and refresh or gain even more knowledge in that area.  I didn’t pass my Praxis education tests to get the score for Kentucky, and I’ve heard from a few different sources about this Christian writer’s conference in Michigan in less than a month.  Do I stop looking for teaching jobs and write more?  I honestly didn’t even know where in the Word to turn to, so I googled the phrases, “God’s will + circumstances” to see what I’d get.  I came across a few awesome articles/blogs.  One of them told me to ask myself these questions: “Where has God been leading us? Has He been doing something even when we couldn’t recognize it?  In the light of all God has been doing for us, does what we think we hear God saying through our circumstances make sense?” (Edmondson).  The thing is, God has been leading me toward all four things I started out this post with.  Even when I don’t see it, I look back and realize he has been making me better at those four things.  And now I don’t know what circumstances are saying, because anything makes sense right now.

What I do know is that God has been making it very clear to both Dr. Wile E. Coyote and I that he has a plan for us, and that we are to be in Pikeville, Kentucky for a season.  He has led us to that path in a way that one can’t question.  This last week, Dr. Coyote, my parents, and me drove down to Pikeville (a 2 day drive from anywhere in the upper Midwest).  It was great.  We looked at our apartment that we had signed the lease on a month earlier (smiley face), D went and turned in some forms in person to the school, and I followed up on some job leads I had.  Basically, there have been 3 music teachers hired in the last year, and unless any music teachers are married to a med student who will be moving on soon, there won’t be an opening anytime soon.  But I picked up the sub application for two districts.  And the newspaper, where I sent my resume the week before, was still in the process of looking at all the resumes that have come in.  But the music store.  The music store is looking to expand on the private lessons it offers to band students.  There is a man who gives drum set lessons who would like to focus on something else, so I could potentially have his students.  The owner of the store said we would stay in contact, and that they would probably be able to use me.  So excited!  I love giving lessons.  I love having that relationship with a student and passing on knowledge and watching them grow!  So, ideally, I could be almost-full-time giving lessons, and maybe I could write?  That would be awesome. And while we were there, we also took in some of the sites and got a feel for the town where much of the Hatfield-McCoy Feud took place.  (And I didn’t even really know about the Hatfield-McCoy feud.  I do now!)

The Lord alone knows what the future has in store.  I’ve been finding verses that I feel the Lord has been speaking to me through lately and writing them on index cards so I have them with me to look at again and again.  Verses that calm worry (1 Peter 5:7, Matthew 6:34), calm chaos (Psalm 46:10a, Psalm 37:7a), encourage perseverance because He is with me (2 Chronicles 32:7, Exodus 14:14, Joshua 1:9, Deuteronomy 31:6), command me to love him (Joshua 24:15b, Matthew 22:37-39, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18), and tell me that he’s got it (2 Corinthians 12:9).  These are only a few verses I read often to calm me and remind me that the Lord is near.

Dr. Wile E. Coyote told me that he thinks the Lord is leading me in 4 directions on purpose.  I know God has been teaching me trust through every single thing he seems to be doing in my life, but this is another one of those things.  He also tries my TEACHES ME patience every time I turn around, as well, smiley face.

Music, pastoral care, teaching, writing.  I don’t really know what God has in store for these things, but I dream of a job where I can use all these things that the Lord has been preparing me for at once.

 

Do you look at verses for comfort or have some memorized to repeat to yourself when you need it?  What are they?  Does God talk to you through circumstances or does he sort of just leave you waiting and trusting until the almost-last-minute? 

 

Anna 🙂

I’M GETTING MARRIED! *SQUEAAAAAAAL*

Hello everyone!  I haven’t blogged in a very long time and I apologize.  I seriously was going to do one about Christmas cards closer to Christmas, but I hit “save draft” and was having technical difficulties uploading pics.  Excuses, excuses.  In the news: I’M ENGAGED!  If you want to know the story, it’s really long and I’m sorry, but I’m not telling it today.  Dr. Wile E. Coyote planned out this whole big long day, and it was wonderful.  That was New Year’s Eve (at like, 2pm, because that’s when he could get into the building where we had summer project, aka, where we met).  Since then, I’ve been a “giggly mess” according to Doc WEC, and I’ve begun wedding planning and talking to friends, telling them the story, etc, etc.  I was on Skype for 5 hours today!  (One of those calls being to the pre-doc.  I pretty much love talking with him all the time.  And that was only for like, two hours.)

I said yes before he was even done talking.  Not that I have a patience problem or anything.  :)
I said yes before he was even done talking. Not that I have a patience problem or anything. 🙂

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about my relationship with D and how fast and how far we’ve come in the last, eh, five months.  I now zoom in on Genesis 24 and talk about D and my relationship at the same time:

Back in July, D told me that he was interested in pursuing me.  In Genesis 24, we see a servant who is sent by Abraham to find a wife for Isaac, and this was quite the task.  The woman was to say something specific, and then the servant was to bring the woman back to the foreign land where Abraham lived with his wife and son.  So the servant goes.  He finds her, this woman for Isaac.  And then he tells her to come with him.  Her family is all like “Ehhh….” but she’s like, “I will go” (v58b).  So she goes with Abraham’s servant and BOOM!  Wife for Isaac.  Backing up to the first sentence of this paragraph: Dr. Wile E. Coyote tells me he’s interested in pursuing me.  There’s a condition, that he’s going to go to a med school that’s way out of state.  First thing I told him?  “I’ll go anywhere.”  In a sum up (because I don’t remember exactly what I said), I told him what Ruth told Naomi in Ruth 1:16: “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay.”  I told him that I can teach anywhere, and if God has another job for me, I’ll do that wherever God brings me.  And God was working in our relationship like crazy.  My friend Marissa calls us “like, 1200 kinds of adorable.”

Now, we’re planning a wedding for the month before he starts med school.  And it will be hard.  A new place, and the only person I’ll know is Dr. Coyote.  It’ll be a different culture, too, and I’ll be totally starting over.  I mean, now is def the time to make such a drastic move.  A couple months back, I was reading Deuteronomy and God told me to go ahead and go to Kentucky (this was before D had officially accepted the offer).  Deuteronomy 31:6: “Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or terrified because of (x), for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you or forsake you.”  (X could equal anything you want.  For me, this was a lot of fear of the unknown.)  Isn’t God great?  D and I talk about scripture and pray together, and it is great.  That’s what first made us notice each other.  [Insert silly lovesick puppy smiley face here.]

I sent this picture to my family/friends to tell them this happened (not that they weren't expecting to hear something sometime soon, I guess)
I sent this picture to my family/friends to tell them this happened (not that they weren’t expecting to hear something sometime soon, I guess)

Anyhoo, the next few months seem to be busy ones, but I’m excited.  They’ll be good.  And I’m getting MARRIED to my best friend!  That’s the most exciting part.  Is there a most exciting part?  Well, that’s probably it.  There’ll be lotsa other good stuff, too.  I have no idea what job I’ll have in KY or where exactly we’ll be living.  But as Abraham tells his worried servant in Genesis 24:7, God is totally at work here.  Wanna bet?  Everything will be fine, because “God will send his angel before you.”  His way will come to pass.  And so far, I like his way much better than mine.

In his grace,

the soon-to-be Mrs. Wile E. Coyote *squeal*

Student Teaching, SDMEA, and Remembering Reasons

Student teaching is seriously getting better all the time.  However, I still have a long ways to go.  I’ve been praying that the Lord will show me direction and all that.  How do I even know I want to be a band teacher?  I heard somebody say that they had wanted to be a band director since 7th grade.  Um, I made the decision my junior year to finish college and “we’ll see what happens next.”  But this band teacher thing….I kind of like it.  But I still question?  Ugh, I digress.

Today (Friday), I went to SDMEA (South Dakota Music Educators Association) instead of school (excused, of course).  I always love clinics and stuff, because I learn things that I didn’t even know I needed to know.  One session was called, “Why Didn’t I Learn That in College?”.  The simple answer being there’s no time.  Also, I am super thankful to Dr. Schilf for teaching us a whole lot more in Secondary Methods than other people learned in their undergrad programs.  Like that marching band drill we had to write?  It wasn’t much, but it was at least SOME experience.  Writing a budget?  Mapping out exactly what we’d like in a band room if we got to help design it (a woman who graduated from Augie when I was a junior was actually asked that and, wa-lah!  She had ideas already).  During that session, we were told that in student teaching, one will learn more than all the previous years of college.  And during the first year of teaching, one will learn more than student teaching and college combined.  I stayed after and talked with the presenter about putting my foot in the door and looking for a job in Kentucky.  Oh my gosh, did he tell me some good stuff!  Like to look up all of the schools near Pikeville and watch their pages for job postings.  And to even find the contact info for the band directors at those schools and shoot them an email, introducing myself or something (to get my name out there).  To go on to the Kentucky Music Educators Association (KMEA) website and look for job postings there (but I think they’d all go on the national page, anyway?).  I seriously made a list today.  Now, a lot of the middle schools don’t even HAVE a band director listed, but I’ll call the schools and check it out.  I also talked to a friend on Tuesday who moved up to Sioux Falls to student teach when she didn’t know anybody here.  She said to talk to everybody.  So I’ll ask here, first.  Anybody know of some young women in Pikeville, KY, looking for a roommate next year?  (Never too early, right?)

About when I was finishing up my general music placement and just this last week, I remembered why I actually did want to be a band director.  I want to teach these kids music.  In band, they’re either there because they want to be or because Mom and Dad say so.  But even if Mom and Dad say so, they’ll eventually love it, probably.  If they play through high school.  I want to teach kids to play their instruments CORRECTLY so that they won’t want to quit because they don’t know what’s wrong and it’s too hard to fix later.  I love the light in the eyes of a student when he or she discovers what a key is for or that they can get a partial higher than they thought they could.  I love being surrounded by music and sharing my love of it with students.  I love having relationships with students, so we can talk about life other than band.  I love talking about band, of course, and I love watching a student improve.  It is such a great feeling.  To know that they know more than they did, or that they can play better than before?  My day is simply made.  A random high-five when I’m walking through the commons, a “Hi, Ms. Olson,” in the hall or even as a student is leaving the band room, a lesson going so successfully well and the students don’t talk out of line but respond to me as I direct from the podium.

I feel like these last few days, I’ve been in a good mood in general.  Which is way better than the “I don’t want to move or do anything” mood I had toward the beginning of the week whenever I’d get home from school.  Even though Dr. Wile E. Coyote and I don’t get to talk during most of the week (like either of us has time!?), we still email and text and he makes me smile and points me to Christ all at once.  We got to know each other better through snail mail, you know.  And emails just get better and better as we get closer (even though we live 10 hours apart).  I feel like that’s a topic for a different post.  Or girl talk.  Whichever.  (Gush.)

Smiley Face,

Anna