Ash Wednesday was a huge event for me. My book, The Girl with the Grace Tattoo, released on that day. It was my first Ash Wednesday after two years of observing Lent alone, that I finally got those ashes I had craved, and that same day was the day that I was gifted with a gorgeous set of Anglican prayer beads. I find it so appropriate considering my spiritual journey, that I was given the rosary on Ash Wednesday. It’s really cool that I got them on the first day of Lent and have been able to use them ever since. Basically, praying with the rosary has started as a Lenten discipline for me. It’s in those little co-incidences that I realize that God really does care and God is paying attention to me, knowing how significant it would be for me to receive them on that particular day.
With all the stuff that had happened, I was having a lot of trouble with prayer and it seemed like my prayers consisted more of angry tirades rather than anything useful. The rosary has helped me to focus my prayers, and using it means that I’m actually praying in some place in addition to church. The repetitive nature of the rosary prayers helps me to go to bed with my mind fully focused on God. Feeling the beads adds another sensory element to prayers and therefore more of my body engaged in the act of worship. Submitting both my mind and my body to Christ in prayer is amazing, for me it’s also an entirely different trust level, it’s a huge step in my relationship with God.
The Anglican rosary has been such a positive thing for me; I’d been taught that things such as prayer beads and repeating the same prayer over and over were “vain repetitions”, in other words, they didn’t mean anything. But for me, using the rosary has been very meaningful, it has helped along my relationship with God in ways that I never would have imagined. It keeps my mind on God and it keeps me focused on the prayers instead of having my thoughts run to so many other different things, such as my to-do list, what I’m making for breakfast, or what clothing items I need to buy for what child. Of course it’s not a lucky charm but for me, working with the beads and adding that sensory element is just so beneficial.
In the end, anything that helps rather than hinders a relationship with God is a good thing. For me, the rosary beads have been one of the helpful things.
Every Sunday when I attend mass, something happens to me. When I go up to the altar and kneel to partake of the bread and wine, the body and blood of Jesus, it doesn’t matter what I ate before I go to church, I feel physically hungry. I feel both physically and spiritually hungry for the bread, and when the priest says it is the body of Christ and hands it to me, I feel spiritually and physically full. And the wine, the blood of Jesus, satisfies me spiritually and physically. I never knew that I could feel physically hungry and then be physically satisfied, with spiritual food, but I suppose it makes sense in a mysterious sort of way. The Eucharist is an amazing sacrament, one full of mystery and wonder, one in which we were never meant to fully understand because let’s admit it: a piece of bread and a sip of wine physically satisfying anyone, let alone it actually being the literal body and blood of Christ.
It’s a mystery because it’s supposed to be full of wonder an awe. I have had people ask me when I will get tired of taking communion every week. That hasn’t happened yet, and until I came to the Episcopal Church I never realized how vital the Eucharist is to my faith. I was spiritually starving and didn’t even know it. The thing is, every other church I’ve been in has believed that the bread and wine were merely bread and wine, symbolic, but bread and wine all the same. But the Eucharist is food for the nourishment of my faith. Every Sunday I take part of Jesus, and every Sunday, it changes me a little more.
This year was my first Ash Wednesday, and after two years, I finally got the ashes I had craved so much. It was an amazing experience. I know some people take the ashes for granted, but for someone who craved them and couldn’t get them, I know they are a big deal. On Sunday I got to pray The Litany for the first time, and it was awesome. I never knew that I could have such rich experiences in my faith, or that these things really meant much of anything until I truly experienced them the way they are supposed to be experienced. When I didn’t believe that the Eucharist was the body and blood of Christ and therefore spiritual food, taking it was merely something that was added to the very end of a church service once a quarter that I had to make it through and participate in because everyone else was doing it. It was supposed to be something that we did merely as a symbol rather than as a nourishing experience. The Eucharist is not just a symbol, it’s a meal, it’s partaking of Jesus, and its life changing.
My first book, “The Girl with the Grace Tattoo” released on Wednesday February 18 2015. Click the link provided to order from Amazon.
I haven’t kept up the blog as well lately because on Ash Wednesday, 18 February 2015, my first book, “The Girl With the Grace Tattoo: Confessions from a Woman’s Fall to Grace” released. “The Girl With the Grace Tattoo” is a religious memoir about living and leaving Christian fundamentalism. It is the #1 new release about Christian fundamentalism on Amazon. It is an adult book with adult themes and words but that wouldn’t have been necessary had fundamentalism not damaged me the way it did. The writing is raw and honest and it’s a story that will compel you to keep reading.
Order your copy today! The story will draw you in. It’s a story of brokenness and redemption and about a relationship with God that almost died but instead revived.
The Girl with the Grace Tattoo can be ordered on Amazon for $14.95.
When I ordered the Book of Common Prayer off of Amazon, I did so because I thought it was a book full of prayers. I had no idea that it contained the liturgy for the Episcopal Church. I was disappointed and I almost returned it, except that the liturgy seemed beautiful and I realized this was part of what my soul had been craving. There are a lot of things that I am growing to appreciate about the Episcopal Church that I recognize even as someone totally new to this.
- The main themes in the Episcopal Church appear to be grace and peace.
- The Episcopal Church ordains women and LGBT people as priests, recognizing that everyone is equal in the eyes of God.
- I love the focus on community and the fact that worship is a communal event. We pray together as one, we recite creeds together, we partake of communion together from a communal cup, kneeling at the altar beside each other as equals.
- I love partaking of the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist.
- The Episcopal Church is tolerant of a wide range of beliefs. It seems that if one believes the Nicene Creed, everything else is open to interpretation. Questions and doubts are totally acceptable.
- The Episcopal Church doesn’t tell me what to wear and values my individuality. I haven’t come across any modesty police yet.
- I like the structure and the ritual of Episcopal mass.
- It’s nice to finally be in a church where I am accepted as an equal rather than as a second class citizen because I’m a woman and I’m bisexual.
- I appreciate the fact that I am re-learning faith and that right now I don’t know a lot and sometimes I feel uncomfortable but being uncomfortable is often a good thing.
- The Book of Common Prayer.
- Reconciliation of a Penitent (confession). It’s a beautiful sacrament and I really like being assured of God’s forgiveness and being offered absolution.
- The Episcopal Church is a safe place to question faith without being written off as rebellious.
- The liturgy is beautiful.
- I love how much Scripture is read in the services and it’s awesome to know that other people all over the world are reading the same passages as we are, it’s that whole community thing at play again.
I really appreciate the Episcopal Church. I’m so very thankful that God lead me there.
There are so many things that I appreciate about the Episcopal Church that it would be hard to mention them all in one article. There are so many reasons that I came to the Episcopal Church also, and one of those is one I’ve not talked about on here yet. For me, the acceptance of the Episcopal Church to gay, lesbian and bisexual people was a huge deal. It meant that I, as a bisexual woman, am treated with equality and respect despite my sexuality because my sexuality isn’t an issue to the church. I feel like I can finally relax enough to really search for God now that I’m in a church that treats me and people like me with dignity and respect.
Not everyone in the Episcopal Church is welcoming to LGB people but the church as a whole is welcoming. Not only that but they don’t see my sexuality as a problem that needs to be changed. The Episcopal Church as a whole recognizes that when God created me, God created me bisexual for God’s glory. I’m made in God’s image like everybody else and God is both male and female. God is fine with me being in a relationship with a man, or a woman, or with nobody, and right now I’m pretty damn happy not being in a relationship.
I like that I can go to church and no longer have to hide a huge part of who I am, who I was made to be. For me it’s been an awful long journey into accepting myself because I couldn’t seek a church that accepted me when I couldn’t accept myself. It’s horrible growing up knowing that you are different but that knowing your church, your friends, your family, think you are an abomination. I know why a lot of LGB teens commit suicide, I attempted for the some of the same reasons and many others. I couldn’t understand how I grew up being told that God made me special just to find out that it only applied if I were heterosexual. Seeing as I wasn’t heterosexual, I was an abomination.
I tried to change who I was, and that didn’t work it just made me more suicidal. It’s been a very long journey to get to where I can accept myself and even then I didn’t start really studying the issue out until I realized that if one of my kids were LGB, I wouldn’t know what to do even though I’d love and accept them. I’m so thankful that I can now stop worrying about being an abomination to God through my very being alive and instead relax and come to know God better. Knowing that God truly does love me and wants the best for me is something amazing, and something that I never knew until I accepted the fact that I was bisexual and that was not a sin, it was who I am. It’s a shame that I had to wait until I was almost 30 before I knew this.
Disclaimer: My blog posts are my own thoughts. I am not speaking on behalf of the Episcopal Church and anything I say are my own perceptions and are liable to be wrong at times. Nothing I say here is endorsed by the Episcopal Church as a whole or Christ Episcopal Church. I speak for myself and myself only.