church

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Religious or Spiritual? Universal!

Published February 24, 2015 by Maryanne

HelloBuddhaDrawing by Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta, 2005

“Religion” means God-fearing. And in this day and age “spiritual” means people-fearing. People are so afraid others thinking they are Catholic or Christian, they wear the word “spiritual” like a badge of courage.

That upsets me.

Because while, no doubt, it’s not healthy to be God-fearing, dogmatic and/or pious, religion does have a huge place in ethereal growth. Yes, even Christianity.

Hear me out.

In the mid-1980s, I spent almost a year studying several different religions with a spiritual mentor. I was only in my mid-20s and back then it was unheard of for a young girl to want to study with a man old enough to be her father. For almost a year, I spent less time in nightclubs and more time in meditation. It was a wondrous experience I will never forget and have several diaries in case I do.

The conclusion I came to was that everyone is right. In fact, my favorite book that my mentor gave me was called “Everyone is Right” which is available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Everyone-Comparative-Religion-Relation-Science/dp/0875165656

Even though I came to this conclusion I was still drawn to the Christian church. What can I say, I just love the teachings of Jesus Christ. Mind you, I was never forced to go to church as a child. I came to love Jesus on my own. And a few years ago I found a Christian church I was able to call “home” though I don’t go as often as I probably should.

Some Christians don’t relate to me because I still take from other religions. And on the flip side, many non-Christians turn their noses up on me as well for going to church.

It’s okay though. I feel completely comfortable being around others who are not exactly thinking like me. This is the beauty of putting faith into a ritual (of sorts) and sticking to your guns about it. I feel that in order to grow spiritually, you need to be around others who are different from you. That kind of experience makes you more spiritual. Uh … wait … I can’t use that word, it’s become too hipster (and possibly a code word for non-Christian).

Let’s just say I’m universal! That’s a badge of courage I can live with! 🙂

Dancing in the Rain

Published May 24, 2014 by Maryanne

Rain

I must be the luckiest person in the world.

Yesterday, I spent the second half of the day writing my second book and decided to go for a bike ride since it was so gorgeous out. Well, I got half way around the park and it started drizzling. I thought I’d be able to make it home, but then suddenly it was torrential, almost blinding and I was stuck.

I had no cell phone with me. It was just me and my bike. So there I was, out in the middle of a park, about to enter a wooded area. I was stranded and helpless.

I had no choice but to knock on the door of a random home for shelter and to ask if I could use the phone to call my husband Dennis.

In this day and age, I don’t make it a habit of knocking on random doors, but we live in a lovely area and I heard children, so I figured it was safe.

The children answered the door and I asked, “Can I speak to your Mom and Dad? I need to use the phone.”

The dad came out and said “Sure.”

Then the mom came out and she screamed, “MARYANNE!”

She knew me! Then I recognized her from church! She invited me in. Her husband let me use his cell to call my husband. Dennis wasn’t home yet, so the husband was nice enough to give me a ride home! The wife offered me a glass of wine or tea, but I was soaking wet and said I’d prefer the ride. (Plus, I didn’t want Dennis to worry about me). They were so nice they said they’d keep my bike in their garage until I was able to pick it up!

Of all the homes I could have knocked on the door, what are the chances of me picking out a random home that turned out to be the home of someone I knew from church? If you’re not a believer of God or a higher power, this story will definitely make you a believer!

When I got home, safe, to my husband, we had such a laugh over this. I was drenched and couldn’t wait to get changed, but we both just stood there laughing and laughing at how funny and cool this story was! A definite dance in the rain!

Kindness From a Stranger

Published July 19, 2013 by Maryanne

No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted, Aesop

We’re having a massive heatwave in New Jersey — like 101 degrees for several days now.

Yesterday I went to church and to the health food store. As I got back to my car my battery died.

Since I’m my own boss, no worries under normal circumstances, I could have just called roadside assistance, but who wants to wait in 101 degrees? If it was a gorgeous spring day, I would have went for a walk or gone shopping.

Well, luckily a Good Samaritan from the local hardware store decided to help me out.

While he was getting his car situated, idiots were blowing their horns, being impatient. I even yelled at them, “He’s trying to help me — SHUT UP!”

Finally the car got started! I offered him $10.

He declined my offer.

So I went into the hardware store and gave the money to his wife.

She declined too.

I said, “I insist!” and left the money on the counter and ran out of the store.

When I came home, I contacted several newspapers to let them know how kind this business owner was — that he stopped everything just to help me! And in this HOT WEATHER!

One of the newspapers published my letter and I’m so happy because CRANFORD PAINT & HARDWARE, Cranford, New Jersey, deserves much recognition. In this day and age you rarely hear stories like this. So if anyone from New Jersey, in the Cranford area, is reading this, please go out of your way to give this man and his wife business — they deserve it!

Here is my letter to the editor: http://www.nj.com/cranford/index.ssf/2013/07/letter_to_the_editor_thank_you_1.html

And coincidentally, the message of church yesterday was about strangers helping each other!

Hoppy Thursday Inspiration!

Published May 16, 2013 by Maryanne

?????????????????????Bunnies (photo swiped from Google search)

This morning I had to interview students in a theater class and ended up parking several blocks away from the school on a side street. Going back to my car it was so cute, I saw four bunnies chasing each other and two chipmunks. So adorable. It was a perfect morning, cool and pleasant and a little overcast.

I wrote one story, was all caught up and able to go to mid week service.

I was totally honored when the pastor asked me to assist in communion!

As I said before, I love the Thursday service because it’s more personal. It’s only about 15 people, all seniors, and we get to share stories that relate to the service, which reminds me of a Bible Study.

Thursday’s service always reflects on what Sunday’s service was about. Since Sunday was Mother’s Day the pastor was asking us about a story where we felt our mother comforted us as a child.

Since my grandmother raised me, it popped into my head just one of the things she did to show unconditional love.

When I was little I was so shy and so attached to my Grandmother I didn’t want to be separated from her. Not even to go to school — which I loved as a little girl.

So she would wait on line with me until it was time to go into the school. I loved that. It was sweet and comforting. I’m so happy I remembered that today and had a moment to remember my Grandmother’s love.

Jesus is My Boss

Published April 12, 2013 by Maryanne

Jesus is My Boss

When you work for yourself, of course you have good weeks and you have bad weeks. And then there are the weeks like this, that are extremely busy, but with so much to do yet you work and work and feel like you’re not getting anywhere. This week I feel like the little hamster running on the wheel, in circles of infinity. When will it ever all get done?

I am usually so fast and so organized I’m finished with my work and left twiddling my thumbs by 3 p.m. This week with three writing assignments from two different online newspapers, having to interview a bunch of people that were hard to track down via phone calls and emails (writing is the easy part), managing five musicians and an author’s career, ghostwriting/copy editing a book, and having another author wanting to come on board and have me manage her … there are just not enough hours in the day! Plus, add the fact that this is also a week for fun, as I went to one concert Wednesday night and am going to another tonite. So, to say this week’s been a whirlwind is certainly an understatement.

Today I got up extra early because a potential new client was supposed to send me a sample of a typing job he wants. Of course, it’s not in my email and the guy didn’t give me his phone number when he called because he said he’d send it in the email. Figures, but of course there’s always something to do anyway, whether I sleep an extra hour or get up early, it’s all laid out for me.

Then there is God’s work, which is equally busy, crazy and fun.

I’m working on my second assignment, volunteering, writing  for the church newsletter.

There’s this adorable, sweet 89-year-old lady who is a church member and has done so many wonderful things, mostly artistic/creative, but she also started a Caring Ministry where members go to the home bound and serve them communion. I was assigned to write a feature on her for the church bulletin, interviewing both her and her church friends.

As super busy as I was with my own business this week and concerts, I feel blessed that being my own boss I could have the luxury of taking a few hours out of my day to attend Thursday church service and then interview this wonderful lady. (I had to do it in person, not over the phone because she is elderly and hard of hearing). Like any other article I write, it’s always a thrill interviewing someone. We all have our stories to tell. Everyone has an interesting life that should be shared. Especially Christians because the power of Jesus Christ is so miraculous.

After the interview, one of the church members said that I’d be great for the Caring Ministry because I have a nice personality and am good with elderly people. (I said how much I love the little old Grandmas and that I always have a soft spot for seniors).

So, of course I said, YES! YES! YES! I would love to be a part of the Caring Ministry and learn how to offer communion to those home bound. It would only be once a month and they’d match me up with a home bound person that I connect with. And I would be trained to do this properly.

I was so thrilled because a few weeks earlier another church member asked me if I’d help count the church money and I had to decline because I’m not good in math — and of course my dyslexia doesn’t help. I felt so bad, but I had to be honest with myself and not take on something I wasn’t qualified for. I made a joke, “If I counted money, you’d have a negative zero!”

But if you truly want to be a part of something, Jesus will find a way to make you part of it. Jesus has a job for everyone. And you don’t have to worry about time, because it will fit in beautifully with your life no matter how busy you are! That’s what makes Jesus a great boss! He knows the right person for every job there is. He’ll put you where you are best qualified. With God you always fit in! There are no cliques or favorites when Jesus is the boss, we’re all equally loved and appreciated. And happiness through the love of God is the best paycheck there is!

When I was telling my husband about my day, he said, “Boy, you are busy!”

I said, excitedly, “I’m working for God!”

He’s like, “There you go!”

I think I was glowing!

 

 

 

Thank You For the Service You Do For Our Country!

Published January 22, 2013 by Maryanne

Army truckArmy truck (found via Google search)

Last night in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I participated in some community volunteer service at a local church.

It’s amazing when you have a bunch of people together all the good you can do, and how fast you can do it! There were several stations set up for all sorts of things that could be done. In two hours, I went to two different stations.

At the first station I helped create packages of food for families. At the second station people were writing letters to those in service and coloring/drawing pictures for them. It was interesting because it made you take a minute to think about things you never think of, like what is the first color stripe of our flag?

I challenged myself and colored a picture of a soldier in an army truck, with the heading, “Thank You for the Service You Do for Our Country.”  I decided to go with several colors to create a camouflage colored truck. Everyone liked my picture and even a little girl pointed out to her father, “Look at the camouflage!”

Love is like a chain reaction. People of all ages, all colors/races, creating together, helping together in order to feed people, to brighten someone’s day. The energy was just so grand. Other tables were sewing pillow cases. There is just so much you can do, in one short evening that went by so fast!

I was sitting next to a lovely woman named Barbara who was writing a letter and was impressed by her artistic printing. My printing is like chicken scratch, I can barely read my own writing and I told her so, adding that it’s probably because of all the years on typing on a computer, I’m just not used to printing on paper anymore.

She said she avoids computers. As a retired nurse, she has no use for them. I was so impressed by this. Just as impressed as I was when I read that Stevie Nicks doesn’t have a cell phone.

A very cool lady, indeed! We had several great conversations. Had I not volunteered, I would have never met her!

After the community service, there was a worship service commemorating Martin Luther King Jr., which was held at Cranford United Methodist Church, Cranford. The church I’ve been going to that I love so much is Calvary Lutheran Church, also in Cranford. The service was sponsored by the Cranford Interfaith Human Relations Committee and the Cranford Clergy Council, so we had our Pastor Carol speak, as well as a priest and a rabbi.

The service was electrifying!

The music director of the church, Joseph Legaspi, sang a traditional spiritual song “Deep River.” He baritone voice was extremely powerful.

At the end of the night Barbara asked for my card to keep in touch and we walked out together. I made another friend and I feel terrific! I got in the car, turned on the radio and a very happy song by The Archies came on, “Sugar, Sugar.”

LIFE IS GOOD!

martin-luther-king-jr-day-L-xGOagM1

“We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.” Martin Luther King Jr.

Between last year and this year, it was my second memorable Martin Luther King Day in a row!

Martin Luther King Day is becoming another favorite holiday!

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