“This shouldn’t be that difficult,” I blubbered to my husband. We were newly married and DESPERATE to find a church home. We had visited several different churches in our area, trying to fit in anywhere and it was awful. Really awful. No one would talk to us. We attended different classes and we got the cold shoulder. We sat in worship service and sometimes no one would even sit by us. NO ONE.
It’s bad enough to sit by someone who won’t talk to you, but to sit alone in a pew is even worse. Sitting alone in a pew is like being naked in church, because you feel like you are putting yourself out there, only to be left in the cold. (Disclaimer: It isn’t ALL about going where everybody knows your name. But when at least one person introduces themselves to you, it lets you know that someone noticed you!)
We wanted to find a church that had a great community and a strong mission, where we could serve and be around people who were passionate about God and about helping their community thrive. I’m a big definition nerd, so I want to share a couple of definitions of community from Google. The short definition of community is “a group of people who live in the same place”….cool. People live near each other and that’s all it takes. BUT–real community is so much deeper than just being in close proximity to each other. Here is my favorite definition of community: “a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.” I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that the second definition is way better than the first one. It goes way beyond just being around one another.
So, why is community important? I thought of a few reasons:
Community Helps the Church Grow
When I say “grow,” I don’t just mean in numbers (although that could stem from this idea). I mean spiritually. With closer relationships come more opportunities to help each other grow! One of my favorite verses in the bible is from Proverbs 27:17. It talks about how we affect change in each other. It says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Just like this verse says, it is important to help each other become better people. Strive to sharpen others.
Community Gets Work Done
The power of people working together is amazing. When a community comes together to support something like a food pantry or a Vacation Bible School, big things can happen in God’s name. If one person is trying to do something alone, they may be able to get a lot done, but may not reach as many people or have nearly as much effect. When we work with others it is truly great for the Kingdom.
Community is Involved in the Community
Not only is community involved in helping others grow spiritually and getting work done, BUT it is also important to be involved outside of the church. I know. Who has time for that? We have to pick either church or what’s on the outside, because we’re so busy. It doesn’t have to be a chore or take a lot of time out of your schedule. It can be as simple as picking up some cookies at the store for a function or volunteering at the library to read to some kiddos.
When you work as a community to reach others, people will feel more welcome and inclined to see what you are about. When we love people together, our love becomes infectious.
I want to challenge you to look for opportunities in your church to help build your community and get to know it better.
And when the time comes, look for ways to add people to your community and show them that love. Don’t let someone sit alone in a pew.
My Weird Imagination
I have always wondered what my funeral would be like. Of course, I won’t actually see it with my own eyes, but I still play a scenario of the experience in my head. I imagine that they will have a projector in the front of some church auditorium, and on the screen, they will be scrolling through my Facebook page and other social media.
“Look at how many people she friended during her lifetime.” or “This is the post that had the most likes while she was living,” they will say with heavy hearts.
Then they will move on to my Pinterest account. I picture my husband walking up to the front with a paper in hand.
“Megan had 64 Pinterest boards,” he will say with tears in his eyes. “And here are all of the crafts that she never got a chance to complete.”
This seems a little crazy, right? Why would this strange, made-up scenario from my weird imagination ever happen?
I guess this thought came upon me one day when I was on my phone. My daughter was playing happily by herself, and then she decided to crawl over and see what I was up to. She tried to get my attention while I was still in a trance…watching stories on Instagram. It took me a while to pull myself out of it. Then I thought to myself, “Why did that take so long?” How much time was there between my daughter crawling over to me and the time I ACTUALLY put my phone down? I was so upset at myself, and I decided that I needed a reality check.
The Bible says this in Matthew 6:19-21 (NASB):
19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Do I treasure my phone? No. I really don’t. This was the reality check that I needed. My phone is not a treasure, my daughter’s beautiful soul is.
Friend or Foe?
Something else that helped me with my reality check was to look at my social media as a tool. That’s really what it is. It’s something that is helpful in communicating with others. Putting together an event for multiple people? Done. Posting a picture of your daughter so that all of the grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. can see it all at once? You betcha. You signed up to make a dessert for potluck? Pinned it.
When we stop using social media as a tool, we start falling into an illusion. Believe it or not, social media is not reality. To answer my question above…friend or foe? It depends (everyone’s favorite answer). How will you use it? As a staple or a tool?
If you feel like you are constantly looking at your phone screen, or scrolling through on your computer too much, I want to challenge you to take a step back and look at where you are storing your treasure. Maybe you need to set a phone curfew for yourself (I’ve done it, that’s how deep I was), or maybe you need a detox day where you only use your phone if someone calls you (like the good ole days!). Just remember what your priorities are.
I like vacations.
There, I said it…and It doesn’t really matter where we go, because wherever we end up, there is usually good food, new experiences, and is devoid of any chores. But before we go on our trips, we like to save some extra cash so that we can be smart with our money and not max out our credit card for a getaway.
Here are the steps we took to save some moolah, without having to eat boxed macaroni and cheese every night:
Follow a budget.
It doesn’t have to be super strict, but you have to follow it in order to reap the benefits. For a free, online budgeting tool, check out everydollar.com or mint.com.
Use coupons/ savings apps.
I know, I know. Who has time to cut coupons, look up ads, etc.? But once you get in the flow, it can get really fun. Here are some things that we use to save more! I put them in order of awesomeness:
I cannot say enough good things about this app. You can earn gift cards to different stores, which can help you save big later. Learn about it in the link. You can also go to this link to download the app!
If you buy your groceries at Target, this app is great for saving on things that you might already buy, and you can stack it with the Target Red Card! PS: There is a debit card version of this for people who do not want a (or another) credit card.
Local Ads/ Sunday coupons:
Decide what you want to cook/buy that week based on what sales are happening! For more couponing and meal planning ideas, check out Tina’s posts here and here!
Ask for cash back at the store.
Once you check out and use all of your resources for saving money (coupons, apps, etc.) decide how much you are able to ask for. For example, if your budget for groceries is $60 per week and you only spent $40 that week, then you can push the cash back button at the register and take $20 home with you. You still spend the $60, you still get your groceries, AND you get to save up your money!
Put it away right when you get home. If you leave it in your wallet, then it is likely to stay there until you hit the coffee line the next week. Find a place where you can put your money and know not to touch it. My husband and I have one of those glass jugs, like Ellie and Carl have in the movie Up. Some people have a hidden envelope, other have actual piggy banks. It’s your preference!
Saving for Vacation…Or Something Else
Even though we use this primarily for vacations, you can really use it for anything–Christmas gifts, diapers, new tires, or giving extra at your home congregation. It’s up to you! This is something that we decided would be our alternative to using our credit card too much, or overbuying at the store. It keeps me from wanting to impulse buy and helps us look forward to what we can do with our savings.
What is your favorite way to save some extra cash? Comment below!
Please help us welcome Megan to the Creating a Great Day contributor team! Megan has graciously answered a few questions to help us get to know her. Feel free to leave a comment to say hello!
Hello friends! My name is Megan Parker and I am a new writer for Creating a Great Day. This is my first blog post EVER, and I am so glad that it is with this group. To start off my little journey, I will be answering some questions to help you guys get to know me. Here we go!
What is your favorite Bible verse?
I basically have a favorite chapter from the Bible, but I will share just a few verses from it, which come from Romans 5:1-5:
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; 4 and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; 5 and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
I have been through quite a lot in my twenty-four years, so this is a great passage to remind how much our tribulations can help in making us stronger and help us grow.
Who is the most relatable Bible character to you and why?
This is such a difficult question, because we can relate to multiple characters at different times in our lives. Right now, I would say that I am most like (or at least attempting to be like) the Proverbs 31 woman. I am a stay-at-home mom right now, so I am able to do a lot more for my family than I used to.
What is your favorite go-to easy meal?
Whenever my husband and I find ourselves wondering what to eat, we usually go for taco stack-ups. You just brown up some hamburger meat, put some taco seasoning on it, then eat with chips, sour cream and avocado. Really, anything you want to add!
What are your favorite hobbies?
Some of my favorite hobbies include, but are not limited to, baking, playing board games, and/or playing volleyball. I have been getting a lot more crafty lately, so there is more glitter lying around our house!
What is your favorite T.V. show or movie?
My favorite movie is sort of a TV show AND a movie. The Anne of Green Gables series, which is a TV series, but it is really long!
What is your favorite thing to do in your free time?
If I am by myself, I really like to drink a cup of coffee and do something crafty, read, or color in my grown-up coloring book. Grown-up coloring books are great and much more intricate than younger kid coloring books.
Who is your role model?
My role model right now is probably my dad. He has so much wisdom, we share a love of child development, and he is the MOST patient person I know. I have so much that I have already learned from him and so much more to go. You da bomb daddio.
Would you rather vacation at a mountain cabin or a beach house?
The easy answer would be both, but I will choose mountain cabin, because I really like hiking!
What is the best thing about yourself?
Wow…I am very bad at talking about myself, so this is a difficult question. I will say, though, that something I am trying to improve about myself is to be more diligent in everything that I do. I don’t want to do anything halfway. Also, I like to think that I am an excellent card player. Just ask my hubby.
What is one of your favorite books and/or what are you reading right now?
My very favorite book is The Giver (which is a series). There is a movie based on the book, but it is just okay. I am not reading anything right now, but I am wanting to get into Jen Hatmaker! I have heard that she is a really great speaker and writer.