My husband and I used this past weekend to get away, unplug for a bit, take in some of the beauty of the west coast of Florida, and relax.
I didn’t go with the intention of learning but as I reflected on the weekend and some of the beautiful sites we saw, God offered me a lesson on perspective.
I saw this tree that I found to be absolutely beautiful. It’s called a Banyan tree and is one of many types of strangler figs. They grow from seeds that land or are deposited on other trees. As the tree grows, it sends down roots that eventually smother the host tree and grow branch like supporting pillars into the ground that look like tree trunks.
Banyans are the worlds biggest trees in the terms of area coverage. The largest one alive is in Kolkata India. It covers 4.7 acres and can shelter 20,000 people. Their fruit sustains many species of birds, fruit bats, primates, and other creatures.
Being a “strangler” and “smotherer” sounds incredibly negative and somewhat sad. But what I see is beauty in the way this tree grows, it’s sheer size, how many creatures it provides food for and the vast number of people it can shelter.
It makes me think about my own life and how I can get tangled up in, strangled by, and often smothered by the hectic tendencies of my own day-to-day busyness and this world, that I often fail to step back and see (as best as humanly possible) the big picture of my life. My life may sometimes appear to be a tangled mess but it truly is big, beautiful, and incredibly blessed.
My prayer is that through faith and God’s grace and mercy that my life produces good fruit and many seeds are planted and will lead many to the widespread goodness of a life of faith.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
This is not necessarily a new topic for my blog, but it is weighing heavy on my mind and heart and I feel the need to share, if for no other reason than to pour myself onto the proverbial paper as an escape for my pent up emotions and feelings. I have been feeling incredibly frustrated and angry lately. Not with any person, but with my foot, the chronic pain, and how it has impacted nearly every part of my life. I express myself better through writing and considered this would be a safe place. I feel somewhat unsure in general about sharing my frustration and anger. I have received some blunt criticism on other platforms for sharing the negative feelings that come with my experience. I work very hard to share my truth with as much optimism as possible. Lately, however, and much to my disliking, my feelings and negative attitude have gotten the better of me. In attempts to find my courage to write this, I began searching online for quotes and encouragement about “sharing my story”. I came across a website that said, “Sharing Your Story Is Heart Work.” I immediately connected with that statement because “heARTwork” is what I do. I went on to read this:
“You’re not a victim for sharing your story. You are a survivor setting the world on fire with your truth. And you never know who needs your light, your warmth and raging courage.” — Alex Elle
I don’t know who needs to hear my story but this is my truth and I pray that my truth will find those who need my light, my warmth, and raging courage!
I have a great life! Big picture, I feel I am a well balanced, well adjusted, loving, kind, friendly, and an overall compassionate human being. I love my family, friends, and people in general. I give, a LOT, and have plenty of blessings to count and reasons to smile.
Speaking of BIG, do you know Goliath? Goliath was a giant from scripture that was defeated with a single stone, fired from a sling shot by a young boy named David. Obviously, I’ve never met Goliath, yet he has come into my life in many ways. Over the last 5 years or so, he has been disguised as unrelenting chronic pain and along with that, this recent anger and frustration I feel. I’m not so young, nor am I a sling shot yielding young boy from the Bible, but like David, I do receive strength and courage from God. The Goliath in my life hasn’t been defeated yet, but I know God provides what I need to persevere.
I don’t typically curse and there are a few not-so-nice words I feel like screaming, but I still cannot bring myself to use foul language, it’s just not how I operate. However, I am so angry, frustrated, and exhausted, at my foot and because of the pain. I agreed to and have undergone seven surgeries on my right foot over the course of the past six or seven years, believing each one was the next right thing to do. Five of those took place in Northern Virginia. I truly believe that doctor did all he knew to help correct my problem. But despite what I believed were his best efforts, I was a mystery. I was living in pain and wasn’t getting much, if any relief without prescription pain meds. He is a great doctor, award wining in fact, even if it is a one of a kind award I made for him!
Moving to Florida in late 2018 meant new doctors of course. I was referred to a new foot doctor by my insurance company, and what a fool I was for thinking a referral implies qualified experience of that or any doctor in my network of providers. Hindsight is a great and often bitter teacher as my minimal research and naive trust in the system and that doctor only proved to make things worse.
I had surgery in December of 2018 that was supposedly going to alleviate my pain. A short year later, I was still in pain that seemed to have shifted into high gear and came at me with a vengeance. According to the doctor my bones were fused and healed. With an “I don’t know why you’re still in pain”, a referral to physical therapy and pain management, I felt incredibly discouraged and dismissed. The doctor didn’t have answers and didn’t know what else to do, so of course, by all means, just pass me off to someone else.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
There had been some other things at play during 2019, including physical therapy and pain management. I had an amazing pain relief experience with a trial spinal stimulator that disrupts the pain signals to the brain. The week of relief had me walking pain free and excited to have a permanent implant and get on with life. The permanent implant procedure proved to be difficult. I was in surgery 2 1/2 times longer than planned and was sent home still half sedated! Within a short time frame after the permanent implant procedure, I was no longer getting relief. There were setting changes, equipment adjustments, but still no relief.
Not long after, an X-ray revealed the reason it wasn’t working. The implanted electrodes had moved and were pulled away from their intended location, taking with them the possibility of the much needed pain relief I was so hoping for.
The doctor said I would need another surgery to correct the problem. Why would I put myself through that again when it obviously wasn’t done correctly the first time? The process and time involved with all of it was not something I was willing to endure again. I was told I might want to consider alternative treatment but there was not much more they could do for me. Again, dismissed. The doctor got his money but who really paid the price?
So it’s now heading towards 2020, and at the recommendation of a friend from church, I had started seeing another pain management doctor. I trusted her, not only is she my friend but she works for that doctor and can speak to what a kind and compassionate doctor he is.
I felt this doctor listened to (and heard) all that I has been through and genuinely wanted to help get me some relief. I felt at ease with him, from early on and was so thankful he trusted me enough to act quickly to relieve as much pain as possible while he came up with a long term plan. The doctor had me in several different therapies in attempt to provide pain relief. Then in March, just before the country’s dive into the pandemic and after a significant withdrawal from our bank account, I underwent stem cell therapy. My own cells were harvested from my abdomen, processed, and injected into my foot. I can’t say the stem cell therapy has provided any pain relief but I personally believe it provided a boost in my immune system at very critical time…Covid time. God be with us.
Even with all the therapies and efforts of so many medical (mostly) professionals, my gut instinct told me that something still wasn’t right with my foot, I sought out two other doctors, on my own time, for a second and third opinion. Both were of the opinion that the last foot surgery performed was unnecessary and even though it was done, it was done incorrectly. Two of the three joints involved were NOT healed. I don’t know if the doctor that made such a mess of my foot simply didn’t know what he was doing or just flat out lied to avoid potential ramifications. Either way, the consequences fell on me in the form of a great deal of pain and mobility issues.
The 2nd opinion doctor, while very helpful, quickly moved towards a different type of stimulator. In and of itself, a stimulator may have been a solution, I just didn’t want to live with an external device, battery pack and wires.
My third opinion doctor, in my mind, was my last chance for solutions. Thankfully he was in my network of providers, and came highly recommended. He works in a highly respected and well established facility with a long list of credible doctors and a history of excellence. I got on this doctors calendar and with my first appointment, my confidence was boosted and I finally had a glimmer of hope. Leading up to that appointment I was ready, willing, and on the verge of finding someone who would do an elective amputation. YES, you read that correctly. Unrelenting chronic pain had gotten me to that place. I’ve witnessed amputees that live a more active life than I do. While I understand an amputation comes with its own set of challenges, at this point in my journey I could have been one foot down and a prosthetic away from living the active lifestyle I desire.
The only logical solution, in this doctor’s opinion was corrective surgery. So in early November of last year I had yet another major surgery. Hardware was removed, joints cleaned up, new hardware installed, even had a major nerve severed with the hopes of diminishing the pins and needles pain of neuropathy. I spent just shy of 11 weeks in a cast and on crutches. Fast forward to this past week…I’m in a boot and trying to wean off of crutches. It has been a struggle physically, mentally, and emotionally. Due to some fairly intense, weight bearing pain and lots of uncertainty, I called the doctor. He expressed no concerns about healing as x-rays just two weeks ago confirmed I am healing well. He did recommend I take it easy for a few days and give my foot a rest. I feel a bit of relief (mentally) and am praying the emotional roller coaster I have been on will find the straight smooth path to an exit. I do my best to have a positive attitude and trust God, even though I don’t see my good Doctor’s long term plan.
There’s a lot to my Goliath story. He has shown up in many ways over the course of my life and for now, my Goliath is my foot. He hasn’t been defeated yet, but through God’s mercy and love, I have discovered my inner “David”. My “David” is the tremendous clarity and spiritual growth that has come with my battle through chronic pain and being forced to slow down. Experience is an incredible teacher, especially with God leading the way. Despite this valley I have been in, I still look up and thank God for every step (and hobble) of my journey. I still hope and pray for complete pain relief. God has certainly shown me the strength only HE provides, through faith, when the way is smooth and especially when a Goliath is looming along my path.
God promises many good things. He doesn’t promise the way will be easy or devoid of struggles, but He does promise eternal life for ALL who follow Him. I don’t know what my future holds but I know who holds my future.
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Is there a “Goliath” in your life? Are you able to see the blessings despite your struggles? Do you trust God to strengthen you and provide for you or are you relying on your own strength? I pray you feel God’s presence and guidance in your daily journey.
As I sit on my couch, studying about Noah and the Ark, here’s what struck me.
Noah was a faithful man and followed God’s instructions to build the Ark and gather the animals before the 40 day/40 night flood, the flood that destroyed everything on earth except for Noah, his family, and the animals.
Even after the rains ceased, there was more waiting to be done. Noah waited until God instructed him to exit the Ark and bring his family and the animals out, to once again inhabit the earth.
Noah waited on God, obeyed and praised God. Even when the time came to get off of the Ark, Noah had only his family. All of their friends and relatives were lost in the flood. Life as they knew it was no more, yet Noah remained faithful, patient, and obedient as he knew God would keep His promise.
It brings to mind this time of unrest and anxiety in our country and around the world. There is waiting. Waiting in the midst of a pandemic, and in the uncertainty of who will be in leadership for the next four years.
I could very easily let my thoughts carry me to a place of anxiety and fear. But I find myself digging deeper into prayer and God’s Word and discovering true peace of heart and mind. The waiting is often the hardest part, but for me, I recognize I have no control over the big picture. I can Rest In Peace, knowing that my God of mercy, justice, order & love sees the big picture. I know my God is there, in the midst of the uncertainty and chaos and is using it all for His glory.
I am human and at times, I let my thoughts run away from me, but, I believe in the One who is in complete control and find peace in Him.
I cannot know how it feels to live life as anyone except who God created me to be. Part of who I am is my highly compassionate, peaceful, sensitive, and spiritual self. I believe it is exactly those parts of who I am that cause me to feel things at such an intense level, deep in my heart and soul.
God calls me to speak my heart and mind, maybe not out in the midst of crowds of people, but from my sensitive, peaceful heart and mind, through my written words and sentiments. Please don’t mistake my absence on the front lines as lack of outrage against racism and injustice. Just as each of us are created as unique individuals, I may not be called to the streets but I speak out in my own way, raising my voice in unison with others and in the silence of my heart, whispering my prayers in the ear of God.
Know that I am praying for YOU, who are loved and valued, regardless of who you are, where you’re from, or the color of your skin.
“Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, and please the widow’s cause,” Isaiah 1:17
My prayer is that God continues to reveal Jesus to me in the eyes and hearts of everyone I meet. My experience has been in my seeking I find, and in the finding of my Savior in others, there also, I find love. I pray for peace, for a unified stand against racism and injustice, for discernment, and for the wisdom to know how and when to stand up and speak out. I pray for God to use me for good and I pray that God be with us all.
“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8
If you follow my blog or happen by a post of mine, I pray you’ll notice, even if I don’t post often, I post when I feel God calling me to share what’s on my heart.
I’ve been busy the past nine months. Going back about a year ago I heard God’s calling to start training to become a spiritual director. It’s not about directing anything, but through contemplative listening I’m learning to help others notice the movement of God and to hear invitations of the holy in their own lives.
As my first year of training comes to a close in a few weeks, I thought I’d share what I have learned and how God is working in and on my life. It is admittedly a bit long, but I hear God prompting me to share it with you, so here it is.
God knew me before I was formed in my mother’s womb. Before I was born, God set me apart, for such a time as this. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11) My God is a god of love, purpose, and order. I believe every experience of my life is part of God’s divine purpose for me. Looking back at my life, where I have been, and where I am now, it isn’t so hard to see the ways God has prepared me for this moment. My God of order led me to Barracuda’s night club, where I met Paul. My God of purpose prompted Paul to invite me to Alpha nearly twenty-eight years ago. My God of love knew what an amazing conversion would take place in me that October weekend, not only in my personal spiritual journey, but in my heart, and in the physical journey of my life. My God of love, purpose, and order called me to this moment. It is a beautiful journey and a journey to be shared. So, sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride of my life.
My parents told me I would never meet a nice guy in a bar/night club, and I suppose to some degree I believed them. But I also believe God already had a plan for me to meet this guy in the nightclub named Paul. Nice enough guy but I didn’t see us being much more than friends. Regardless of my plan, my God of purpose prompted Paul to invite me to an Alpha Retreat weekend. I wasn’t prepared for the conversions that would take place over that weekend. There was an amazing conversion of my heart that took place, not only regarding my feelings toward Paul, but a shift in my faith. The experience of the Catholic Mass was the first (but certainly not the last) time in my life, I became an active participant in my faith through the doctrine and Mass of the Catholic faith. I had no idea at the time where I was going, but looking back now to twenty-eight years ago, it is very clear to me what God was doing. To this day, I can still hear God laughing, lovingly of course, at my plan. I married that nice guy from the bar in August of nineteen ninety-four and nine months later I was confirmed into the Catholic Faith. Paul and I have a beautiful life together with three amazing children and an overflow of God’s grace, mercy, and blessings. Looking back through the years and chapters of my life, I realize how God was preparing me for Audire. Many times in my life, I have been called to listen to friends and family during a difficult or painful experience, or sometimes to celebrate in a joyous moment. I sense God provided these and other opportunities like these as part of His plan for my life, for this moment, and for this journey. Fast forward to Spring of twenty-nineteen, the day I saw Audire mentioned in our parish bulletin, I knew, without a doubt, God was calling. I am in awe of the amazing work God has accomplished in and through me over the last seven or eight months. This is only the beginning of my life’s next chapter, My Life, God’s Plan.
I believe God planned long ago for me to journey down this path. I also believe my life’s Guide took me the long way around so I could grow, emotionally and spiritually and be at the best possible place Audire. That path landed Paul and I in Merritt Island about two years ago where we were quickly welcomed into the community of Divine Mercy Parish. Early in 2019 we accepted an invitation to join a Small Christian Community with eight other people. Through our Friday night gatherings these people became my people, my friends. Each, in their own way have challenged me and helped me grow in so many ways. But it is my friend Liz that has become my spiritual director and I am very grateful. I understand the importance of meeting with a spiritual director as a requirement for Audire, but little did I realize what an incredible impact this “companion for my journey” would have on me, my life, and my relationship with God. Initially, I was unsure about how my sessions would go, questioning how I was going to feel with sharing, often times very personal and private problems, concerns, and details of my life. In nearly a year of experience in meeting with Liz, I feel incredibly blessed by what God has revealed to me, through her and my own moments of silent observance and listening. I have learned how to better, intentionally and purposefully, tune into the heart of God and listen to what is being communicated directly to me. I know my God is a god of love and love has the greatest impact on every aspect of my life.
Very recently my daughter learned of the unexpected death of her high school boyfriend. This young man was so very bright in more than one sense of the word. Yet while he was in relationship with our daughter, there were many red flags for us as her parents. It was a series of events, but I am sure it was God’s grace, mercy, and love, that led us to discovering she was alone with this young man at his house against our wishes. Within a week or two, she was in outpatient treatment for her emotional/mental illness as well as substance abuse. We did what we thought was best for her at the time, keeping her home and away from this young man. Fast forward to the night we found out about his death. That night and into the next few days, I found myself feeling a mix of conflicting emotions. I sensed a feeling of guilt for being both sad and grateful at the same time. I sat with my feelings for a bit before taking it to spiritual direction. I shared with Liz what I was feeling. She helped me realize that all of the emotions I felt were all coming from a place of love for this young man. I recognized; God doesn’t want me to feel guilty for loving another human being. It doesn’t have to be a choice between one feeling or the other. It is and can be both and, and that is ok.
As I reflect back on my spiritual direction sessions, God is revealing to me that many of the cracks or broken places within me didn’t happen from lack of love, but because I love…deeply. Through spiritual direction about this and so much more, the brokenness has healed, and I have been exposed to the healing that comes with sharing those parts with my companion and, in turn, my capital “C” Companion. I believe my God of purpose walked me through these parts of my life to better prepare me for today’s journey. It is through all of my life experiences, my own cracks and wounds, joys and victories, that my Healer works, so I may be a better “companion for the journey” for others.
My journey didn’t begin with Alpha or Audire, but each of these experiences began a new chapter in my journey of faith and my book of life. As I read through the various reflections, I find myself walking side by side with my Guide, through healing, tremendous growth, new awareness, and new perspectives on life. I feel more aware of who I am, excited for how far I have already traveled, and eager to grow, change, and discover more of myself, as well as the journey alongside and with those whom I am in relationship with and those not yet known to me.
The morning of our first Audire session. I remember feeling such joy, excitement, and love, walking into the chapel through the crowd of cheering people, some new faces and some familiar to me. I remember it screamed an affirmation from God, a reminder that this part of my journey was on the map my “Tour Guide” had planned for me. Throughout that first session God revealed so much to me about details of my life that landed me here. I recall many occasions in my own life that I have been called to listen, to be a “companion for the journey” for others. Whether the need is simply to verbalize a hardship, share a difficult or painful experience, or sometimes, to celebrate in a joyous moment. I often find the experiences of my friends and family are very similar to current events in my own life. It is the struggles, painful life experiences, and even the joyous ones that have come and gone. In hindsight, I see how God used those situations to teach, strengthen, guide, and grow me. My experiences have helped fulfill my Creator’s purpose for my life and bring glory to my God. One of my life’s experiences that has produced strength, guidance, and growth is the journey I have been on and continue to travel through physical pain. Reflecting on my journey, I can almost visualize a line graph where God met me in my pain and drew me into acceptance, appreciation, and gratitude for the journey. Of course, I would certainly prefer not to live in residence with pain, the larger part of me appreciates and loves the invitation to grow through the pain and offer it for God’s glory.
My first-year journey in Audire has been filled with the same joy, excitement, and love as I felt on day one, only the intensity deepens, along with the deepening growth, understanding, and love. I definitely feel the presence of God within me, around me, and in others. I am finding that with each Audire meeting, I feel extremely open and optimistic about each day and the experiences throughout. I am a theologian. Not in the sense of my younger idea of what a theologian looked like. Some old, gray–haired man, hunched over a desk, in the dim light of a single candle, quill pen in hand, scratching out his head knowledge of God’s Word from decades of study. The type of theologian I am, is who I have become because of my years of faith, practice and especially my experiences of God. I have a great deal of experience, self-awareness. I continue to grow and change with each God experience. I desire to fully surrender to and trust completely in God. I want to grow in prayer and grow so close to God that I am able to live in the perfect plan my Pilot has for my life. I am called to be the incarnational embodiment of God in this life.
“Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours.Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good.Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body.Christ has no body now on earth but yours.” ― Teresa of Avila
I am called to be the hands, feet, eyes, and body of Jesus. I love how Audire has already been a conversion in my life. It has opened me up to better look beyond any differences I have with others and truly see each individual for who God created them to be. I love how I have grown through and am on my way out of my personal challenge of writing/speaking about God in inclusive terms. Inclusive in the sense that I don’t speak of God in terms that might limit another person’s idea of who God is. I have a long-standing relationship with God, and I relate best to God through the language that has been part of my faith for the majority of my life, God as Father and Son. I am free to relate to God as I desire, in the strong, solid, masculine being that rules over my life. But in the framework of spiritual direction, I recognize how speaking about and referring to God in my own terms could limit someone else’s idea of who God is, and that is not beneficial to that person or in the context of a spiritual direction session. Inclusive language, that comes across more as titles of God will be of greater help/benefit to any given directee that comes to me. I feel a little awkward in referring to or speaking about God as “she”. But just as my relationship, much like my feelings, are not right or wrong and do not have to be one way or the other. They can be both and.
I feel very much at peace with, affirmed in, and excited by God’s call to the ministry of spiritual direction. The road isn’t necessarily easy or smooth, but I have grown to a place where I welcome the bumps and detours in life, because it is from within those times that the best fruit comes. It’s called “produce” for a reason! I am a product of my God of love, purpose, and order and I am so grateful for this call to Audire. I look forward with anticipation, as the “me” God calls me to, the-better-version-of-myself, continues to bloom and grow fruit for the garden of life.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love ❤️ one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. John 13:34
EVERY day is a day to love one another. I recognize for some, today is a difficult day at best, for some, it’s a day to quietly celebrate, and for others, it’s an “all in” day.
Personally, I prefer creating and sharing something that speaks from my heART. It’s what I do and what I did for my husband today.
It’s a take-out box of paper “fortunate” cookies. Each containing one of twenty five (the # of years we’ve been married) of my favorite memories over the years such as: I ❤️ the memory of the #KrispyKreme donuts 🍩 and a name plate on a bar stool at the place we met, our first home together, our first unofficial date at #Dennys after last call.
The bought take-out box
Outpouring of love ❤️
I love giving…its feeds my soul. As much as I love to pour myself out in my own creative way, it pales in comparison to the outpouring of God’s love for us.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
I pray you feel loved. I pray God blesses you and keeps you and makes His face to shine upon ❤️ you and grants you peace.
No flowers, no chocolate, just a little something from my heART to yours.
Living with chronic pain, well, I certainly wish I wasn’t. It is exhausting in more than one sense of the word. Truth be told, if I said what I feel like saying with the words I feel like using, there would be a lot of visible “bleeps” and censored type. But those are not words I use and it would go against my authentic self to speak that way, in verbal or written language.
A glimpse of what I’ve been through…
The feelings I share come from the frustration, anger, and discouragement that followed my pain management appointment last week. I was seen by an NP and shared about how I’m living in the upper half of the pain scale on a regular basis with no relief. I even shared my consideration of amputation. That’s how bad the pain is most of the time and I feel that should speak loud and clear about where I am in this journey.
What I left with was a recommendation to use topical treatments, do yoga, and an Rx for a strong, once daily dose, of what I understand is Ibuprofen. There was even mention of seeking an Rx for marijuana. Ummm, NO!!! Be it the truth or not, what I walked away with is, “Ok, we sold you the implant, it’s in, we’ve got our money, sorry you’re still in pain but there’s nothing else we can do for you.”
I have another follow up appointment with my doctor in early December. I’ll see what his response is and that will help me determine the next best step. Regardless, I feel compelled to move forward with a second and even third opinion in regards to my foot and my pain. So now what? That’s a rhetorical question.
I am angry, frustrated, and discouraged but not without hope. Here is what I know. God is bigger! He is bigger than my feelings and my pain, and HE knows the big picture. I refuse to let pain win and I refuse to wallow in my pain. Even as I say, “I refuse”, I feel content in my heart because I know and believe that God is working for good, for me, because HE loves me and I am HIS!
There’s so much good going on in my heart and in my spiritual journey that I wouldn’t be following God’s call to share my heART if I didnt’ share the good with you too. Besides, I promised to in my last post! ; )
I’ll try to make this a short story instead of a novel ; ) Way back, when I met my husband Paul (here in FL), in 1992, he invited me to an Alpha Peer Ministry retreat that October. It was my first exposure to the Catholic faith and doctrine and I fell in love. I met some amazing people, learned so much, and left feeling high on life. I finished the retreat that weekend and went on to help facilitate many future retreats. It was because of Alpha, that I learned about another program called Audire*. I didn’t know a great deal about it at the time, but the people I met that had been through the Audire program had something I wanted. They all seemed to have a deep and very real, intimate relationship with God and a seeming wisdom in how to engage others in their own journey with God. At the time I thought I had a pretty good relationship with God yet had such a desire to deepen that relationship and to somehow help others do the same. Know what God said to me? “Wait!” That wait lasted for a long time. The waiting lasted through the start of our family, many moves, including two back and forth between FL and VA, a couple of deployments, many joys and struggles of my life, and it even lasted into the young adult years of my children.
Fast forward to July of 2018, after 15 years in the northern Virginia area, Paul, myself, and our middle child made the move back to Florida to be closer to family and slow down a little bit. We joined a parish close to home and in about February of this year, I came across an ad in our bulletin about Audire. I knew the “wait” was over. God was calling me to something bigger. I jumped in head first, attended a sneak peek, and could hardly wait to get home that day to register. I could not contain my excitement for the beginning of my Audire journey. I knew over 20 years ago this was something I wanted and knowing God now was giving me the green light, my heart was overflowing with joy and excitement. My first day of the program started this September. I recall feeling at home. It just fit. It fit perfectly into the desire in my heart and for what I recognize is God’s call. I just didn’t know then what I know now.
I know and believe with all of my heart that God has a specific, beautiful, and amazing path for me and for you. I have faith and believe this is God’s work and I am simply following His lead, being obedient to His call, and I’m exactly where he wants me to be. What I didn’t know (and I could write a book about that, LOL!) was that EVERYTHING I have been through over the past 20+ years would bring me to this moment. That this moment would be much sweeter because I was obedient to God’s “wait” time. In just two months time, I feel God’s great plan at work. I truly feel like the clay in His hands, as He is shaping and molding me for the next part of life as His disciple.
Living with chronic pain, I certainly wish I wasn’t. It is exhausting in more than one sense of the word. Truth is though, GOD is good, all the time. My circumstances, my healing, my anger, nor my frustration and discouragement are beyond God’s power and reach. He is not confined to this moment and because of His love, grace, mercy, and his amazing plans, neither am I…
I don’t know what my future holds, but I know who holds my future. My heavenly Father has my life in His hands and I trust Him implicitly. He is the tour guide of my life, the director, and producer. Nothing is left unfinished by God.
I really wanted to share some art work, but I feel what I have to say needs to be said and not put on hold. Besides, this is a piece of my heART-work, so it counts and I pray you enjoy. This is a “berakah” (Hebrew for blessing). It is my prayer in the form of a poem. I understand that these blessings/prayers are typically much shorter, but I started writing and stopped when I felt my prayer was finished.
Living with chronic pain, I certainly wish I wasn’t. But if it weren’t for my journey through chronic pain, I feel I would be missing out on all the beauty and joy of this amazing spiritual path God has led me to.
Father, Thy will be done in my life, in all aspects of my life – be it spiritual, physical, emotional. In my thoughts and words, and especially in my actions. God please comfort all who suffer and allow me the privilege of sharing in the suffering of your Son, Jesus. For your glory. Amen
This was my Monday face. When I started writing this entry, it was intended for a particular Monday, September 30th to be exact. But it also became my yesterday Monday face. It’s my “I’m just physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted” face. I would be lying if I said otherwise. Monday or not, some days are just more challenging than others.
Monday’s often get a bad rap just because they happen to fall in line after the weekend. I can’t tell you what day of the week my journey with chronic pain started, but there’s only a 1 in 7 chance it started on a Monday.
Like Monday’s, suffering doesn’t have a great reputation either because who loves Monday or suffering. I can’t tell you that I love either, but I can tell you with 100% certainty that God, my Father and creator, does great work through suffering and not only that, He does great work on any day that end’s in “day”.
My journey has been extremely challenging, especially the more recent part. In mid September I had a micro stimulator implanted in my back that is intended to help relieve some of the neuropathy pain I have been dealing with for several years. The recovery/healing time was difficult, not because I can’t handle pain, but the procedure pain combined with my already, often times, overwhelming foot pain, proved to be nearly unbearable. Yet here I sit, on the other side of what seemed an insurmountable challenge, sharing it with you.
My incisions have healed and I’m getting accustomed to wearing an external antenna and battery pack each day. I would love nothing more than to be able to say that I am pain free, but that is not the case. On top of whatever neuropathy still lingers, I also have something called complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), as well as arthritis, bouts of plantar fasciitis, and achilles tendinitis. It’s days like today, when the pain just won’t ease up, that make it hard to distinguish one pain from another. I could very easily blame it on Monday or even blame it on God and I don’t think anyone would blame me. But I don’t blame either. In fact, through it all I haven’t blamed God once. I don’t believe God is doing this “to me”, I believe with all my heart He is doing this FOR ME. I know that my Father does not want me to be in pain. Pain is simply a part of life and it’s because of and through my Father, that I am thankful for every part of my life, including the pain.
In fact, there is lots of joy, despite the pain and I am so excited to share some of the amazing, joyful, things going on in my life. More to come! Time for rest. God bless!
A little over a month ago I filled out an application for the chance at an experience of a lifetime. Most of the application was typical requested information on pretty much any application. Then at the bottom of the application were two questions that have the potential to lead to a truly life changing experience, an #ItalianSabbatical. Three months of life in the south of Italy 🇮🇹 in the town of Grottole, experiencing life as a local, serving to help revitalize this small village.
I have no visibility of the number of applications received but I imagine it is in the thousands, as it was open to a number of countries and add to that, the vast reach of the sponsor, #Airbnb.
I filled in all the blanks and proceeded to the bottom of the application to those two questions that could be my key to Italy!!
I am sure that of the possible thousands of people that applied, many of them have a formal training/schooling and likely a long, impressive resume to boot. Good for them! I don’t have either of those things but I don’t know that’s what’s important in this situation. I, with my big heart and love of God’s people, have as good of a chance as the doctor from Spain or the Engineer from Mexico (just examples off the top of my brain, I don’t know who applied or what their qualifications are).
So to get to the questions…here they are, along with my responses, true to theheARTofkimmy, from my heart and just being “ME”.
What’s your story and why are you ready to move to Grottole and take a sabbatical?
From a very young age I knew that I wanted to be a wife and mother. I married an amazing man when I was twenty-three, we quickly started a family, and have spent the majority of the last twenty-five years raising our three children. For the majority of that time, I have beenfortunate to be afforded the opportunity to stay home and raise our children while my husband was in the work force, either in civilian life or serving our country in the Armed Forces. He now owns and is running two companies from the comfort of his home office.
This past fall, we dropped our youngest child off at college and moved back to Florida, closer to our elderly parents and other family. While we still have our middle child living at home, we are essentially empty nesters, learning our new normal, settling into our next chapter together as a middle aged married couple.
I have a heart for God’s people and for serving in different capacities in places I have lived. My kids are young adults now and it’s time for Momma to venture out into the world! I have not been able to shake the desire to come to Grottole, immerse myself in such a beautiful place, share my heart, my time, and my talent to help bring new life to this hidden gem.
How would you contribute to the local community and make a difference in Grottole? Tell us what your passions are – Are you an artist? Are you a musician? Do you have arts or craft skills? Do you have any other related experience e.g. cooking skills, a passion for photography, etc.?
I consider myself, in a sense, to be a Jack-of-all-trades. Raising my children has been my top priority over the years so I have not graduated college and I’ve never really had a “career”. I have worked when we needed the money and I have had odd jobs, just because I wanted to work. Some people might consider that a downside to being a stay-at-home mother, I however, consider it an upside!
I have so much to contribute and share with the people and city of Grottole. My passions are simple, faith, family, art, and children. Having been born into a Christian home, Faith has always been a part of my life; it is woven in all areas of my life, including my time spent working with children in different capacities. My heart and soul goes into my passions and explains why being an art teacher at a small Catholic school was such an amazing experience. I have also been a school librarian, an assistant teacher for a first and second gradeclassroom, a Catechist in my parish, and a teacher for toddlers age one – three years of age.
Outside of my passions, I have experience in retail, police dispatching, and as a volunteer EMT. I have some experience with photography, creative lettering, and writing and have even helped pour concrete floors in the Dominican Republic. I am a certified Peer Minister, a Eucharistic Minister, and Lector. I would love to be part of this amazing opportunity and share my heART with Grottole!
The selection process is well underway and finalists will likely be announced within the next week to ten days. I am saying a prayer and leaving it all in God’s hands, HIS will be done!
While answering two questions on an application may affect my chances to participate in the opportunity of a lifetime, there are much more important questions and responses in this life. Answers that affect eternity. Have you accepted Jesus as your Savior? God’s Word says:
“That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.”
I have known Jesus for a long time. I grew up in a Christian home and have been exposed to God’s Word and belief and faith in Jesus for many, many years. Accepting Him does not guarantee a life free from troubles or sadness but it certainly makes this walk through life, the good and especially the bad, a little easier and with a hope and joy that only HE can bring. HE is the provider of all of my blessings and my compass through all of my struggles. I am so grateful, for…
…”It is not joy that makes us grateful, it is gratitude that makes us joyful.” -David Steindl Rast
I don’t have any control over the selection process for this summer sabbatical, but I know the One who is in control. I don’t have all the answers, but I know the One who holds the answers. So, I rest in HIM and patiently wait for His timing and direction for my life. What about you? Do you know HIM?
Lent is upon us and what a world of difference it makes when I choose to view Lent as an opportunity as opposed to an obligation. I’ve always felt this pressure to “give something up” for Lent; chocolate, sweets, or some other “thing” from a long list of possibilities. It felt forced, almost like removing my make-up before I go to bed. It’s not something I have to do but somehow I feel guilty if I don’t, if that makes any sense. I certainly understand the connection of sacrifice. Jesus Christ, sacrificed and crucified on the cross for the sins of all. But nothing I could come up with as a sacrifice for the season felt like it was enough, I personally, wanted and needed something deeper. I always felt, deep in my heart, that Lent was supposed to be about much more than giving up my favorite (food, social media platform, activity, etc).
He willingly gave His life to pay the penalty for sin; my sin, your sin, and all the sins of the world. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Cor 5:21
I have made some personal changes over the past few years where my own Lenten journey is concerned. I discovered two particular Lenten activities that I have grown to love. The most impactful for me is from Dynamic Catholic. They offer a free daily email program composed of videos, a focus, and a prayer that pushes me towards the heart of Jesus and towards a better me. Every time I have followed this program, I find it to be an incredible 40-day journey, a transformation towards becoming a better-version-of-myself. If you’d like more information on this journey, I have included the link at the bottom of my post.
The other activity I enjoy, is focused prayer that I discovered on Pinterest, called “praying in color”. Most of the examples I found were simply a printed, blank, 40-day calendar type page. It may be called praying in color, but of course, you can choose black and white if you prefer. There are forty spaces, (representing the 40 days before Easter, where Christians prepare themselves for the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ) one space for each day of Lent. Each day, during my devotion time, I take time to be still and hear what or who God is prompting me to pray for. When that person or situation comes to heart I either write it out or draw a small picture and add the date to remind me of what my prayer was for that particular day. The page can be as simple as a blank calendar printed offline or I am offering my blank “praying in color” creations for free (see below for details/instructions).
While Lent is a very wide-spread, celebrated season in most Christian churches, I have grown to make Lent my own personal season of growth and maturity in my walk with Christ. I heard a quote today during the ‘Best Lent Ever’ video. The quote is from Howard Thurman and it struck a chord with me.
Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.
Lent has become a time to for me, to take what makes ME come alive; my God given gifts of creativity, my heart for God and His people, and sharing His Word. I know the world needs Jesus and I pray that others will know Jesus by His work through me, in my words and through my actions.
So it is now day three of Lent, but it’s not too late to start or add to your own journey. I pray your journey is blessed and you find yourself better for it at the end of 40 days!
Know that you are always in my heART! God bless, Kimberly
A prayer and a leap, a leap of faith is what this is, because the topic leans towards political and I don’t like talking politics. I have been praying about this and I feel God’s nudging to use my voice, speak my heart and be heard. So, today is the day, and I am trusting in my Father that my word’s will speak to others hearts and be a blessing…for His glory.
I rarely watch or listen to the news because I do my best to fill my life with positivity and goodness so it just doesn’t have a place in my daily existence. What does have a permanent place in my life is my faith and my love of and study of God’s Word. I attend a weekly bible study* with a few hundred other women. Right now in our study of the Book of Samuel, we are studying about David. He was a shepherd, a warrior, who became a king. He became a king because he was chosen by God and although he was a sinner, just like I am, he had a heart for God and he sought God’s guidance and direction about pretty much everything. I am not comparing myself to David, I am certainly not a king, but I am child of God, just like him.
I am so sick and heartbroken over so much of what’s going on in our country. I am upset and angry over the deceitful practices of political leaders, the injustices, and especially the disregard for human life, in particular the most vulnerable. There are so many states that have laws that protect the “most vulnerable species” of wildlife and will go to great lengths to ensure these “species” are protected. In my heart and mind, unborn human beings qualify as a most, if not the most vulnerable species. According to webster’s dictionary, vulnerable means 1: capable of being physically or emotionally wounded, 2: open to attack or damage. I would state that unborn children certainly fit this definition, particularly in today’s society.
I certainly consider my anger and heartbreak justified, but the world is so busy looking out for #1…I, ME, MINE, and “What’s in it for me?” mentality that consideration for others no longer seems to be of any concern. In the rare cases where there is consideration for others…well, who wants to hear about the good going on in the world when we can widen the divide, poke the fire, and stir the pot…even if it’s not the truth.
For anyone who knows me, this post likely seems out of character for me, and that is certainly true of the “me” of the past. I just feel I have an obligation, as a Christian woman, to speak from my heart about what’s truly important, being a voice for those most vulnerable, and sharing the Word of God.
The heARt of Kimmy did not fall off the face of the planet. In fact, I have been so ever present with the reality of so many life changing events that I have not taken the time to share with you in quite a while. I have known that writing and sharing my heart is a great release for the bottle within that holds those emotions so well, for a time, before the pressure builds, the top “POPS!” and its contents pour out at, seemingly all at once. So here is a small “cup” of the outpouring that has occurred since I last shared with you.
My heart and soul are being dumped onto my keyboard, onto your screen, and quite possibly right into your heart. Please handle with care!
I knew when I got in the truck and headed south, it was going to be a bittersweet trip. The journey has been made from many different locations but the destination has always been the same… at least until next time.
A once quaint, sleepy little town where my paternal grandparents, Lewis and Dorothy (Sweetheart), met in the 1930s, married and started their family. The house, since long before I remember has been at 205 E. Leonard St., on the corner of N. Atlantic. It is a home, that for years before I remember, and many years since, was a place for summer vacation, with the family, sometimes just my sister and I, just me a time or two, a home for Christmas, and an occasional off season trip. It is a home, lovingly referred to by family as, “Tara”. It is certainly visible from the street, but what you won’t be able to see from the street is the lifetime of love, laughter, holidays, memories, and even some tears that fill its rooms…if only the walls could talk. I have wandered its rooms, the yard, under the seeming house like cover of the old magnolia in the front yard and yes, even up into the branches of the huge live oak tree that occupies most of the back yard. An oak tree that is at least 400 years old and I imagine its roots are stretched far below and likely as wide as the surface area of the house and beyond. This “home” is my father’s childhood home but I also claim it as my own.
I pulled into the driveway on Sunday, March 11, 2018 knowing full well what I was there for, yet not prepared for what I saw. The “FOR SALE” sign, with its looming, uninvited, and unwelcome presence, took my breath away. One tear, then another ran down my face, not so different from how they run down my face as I sit at my desk sharing this with you. The stark reality of what that sign meant was a punch in my emotional gut and its force caught me off guard.
What I was there for was certainly not what I wanted to do. With my Dad’s oldest brother not in good enough health to join us, my Dad, Mom, my sister, my oldest son and I were there to take on the task of clearing out 80 plus years of my grandparents belongings. Little did I know how daunting, both physically and emotionally, the task would be. We dove head (and heart) first into deciding what we would “save” and what would be left for others to pilfer through at a future open house yard sale, better known as an estate sale. I found myself in a civil war between my heart, wanting to save everything from the average Joe citizen bargain hunter, and my mind, knowing that saving it all was not realistic or feasible. It was three days of reminiscing, smiles, laughter, tears, heartache, heartbreak, family, hard work, mental and emotional exhaustion, and even a few outbursts of frustration and anger. Looking back on it now, I recognize it as all part of the grieving process. Grieving in part for my grandparents (all over again), but mostly for the impending loss of the physical place, their home, “Tara”, that is home to me, my family, and so many years of life.
There was not a room in that house, left untouched. We sorted through countless boxes, bins, baskets, a seeming infinite number of papers and photographs. It was most certainly one of the most difficult things I have ever done. But this precious time, with my own family, spent delving into so many amazing memories, the written and photographed, the history of my grandparents lives together, and probably more importantly, a time of more closure for a time of my life, that will be forever tucked away in the corner of my heart.
Those few days at home in Southport were the longest days, yet somehow, not long enough. The day, the hour, the minute, and the second came all to quickly and it was time for me to head home to my own family. There was no doubt, we had to have some selfies and photographs. And there was no question in my mind or in my heart that those pictures should be taken in front of the only thing on the property older than the house and all of us combined…the old oak tree. I can’t help but share this series of photos. It so well captures the release of emotions that built up as that time of departure drew near.
I wouldn’t be true to myself if I didn’t take the opportunity to share some scripture with you. The Word of God is where I draw strength, help, and hope for my journey and I have a responsibility to share it with you.
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace…He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no on can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy while they live. Ecclesiates 3:1-8, 11-12
I have faith in and trust God’s plan…for everything. In my simple human understanding, His bigger picture is outside my scope of visibility and understanding. That is, until He chooses to reveal either or both to me. So I choose to live life’s moments as my God provides.
“Conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the Gospel.” Philippians 1:27
I haven’t shared anything in a couple of months and while I feel the need to apologize, I’m not going to. I am confident that anyone who reads this can relate to being busy, letting life get in the way, the feeling of being out of control, etc. I have felt all of these over the past few months but despite it all, I know for certain, I have never been in control of my life.
Since my last blog on 28 November my family and I have packed up our home, relocated to a rental, had our home painted, repaired, new carpet laid, cleaned from top to bottom, and listed for sell.
We have celebrated my birthday, Christmas, the New Year. I’ve traveled to Orlando with two dear friends for a girls weekend to Disney World,
I have traveled with my husband, Paul, to Los Angeles (my birthday/Christmas gift from Paul) to be part of the live audience of the taping of my favorite TV show, Will & Grace. We got a backstage tour, met the cast
and got a photo with them all, sitting on the back of the set sofa!
I started a new part-time job and in the next week and a half will be resigned. It is to much for my poor feet to handle!
That’s the big stuff!
Then there’s the little things, where the details are, and often times where I begin to feel lost, stressed, and sometimes, alone. But it is also the little things that usually mean the most.
“I am beginning to learn that it is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.” Laura Ingalls Wilder
Thinking back to my birthday in December, of course the big gift of the trip to CA was an amazing gift. We had an amazing trip and it was a much-needed mini vacation for both Paul and I. But we’re talking the little things, right?
I was presented the most precious gift from my sweet daughter. Emma is my youngest of three, a young adult on the cusp of graduating high school and taking off to college to see the world and live life! She has come through some rough water over the past 8 months or so, but has, by the grace of God, landed on her feet. I see her vibrant, funny, intelligent, beautiful, and witty self more often than not these days. She has a heart full of love and the gift of words. For my birthday:
“You’ve filled my days with sunshine so bright, Cunning Little Indian (a lullaby song I learned from my Mom) for sweet dream nights. You gave the gift of life to me, and then in love you set me free. I’ve clung to you in times of despair, finding haven in knowing you’re there. You’ve taught me to love and soon you’ll set me free, to be the brilliant woman you’ve shown me to be. And though soon, we may be physically apart, know we will always be joined at heart. You are my sunshine.”
What precious and sweet words coming from my baby girl. We have had our share of disagreements and often times I don’t feel we relate well at all. But it is precious words like these, and little daily moments that fill my heart and reassure me that I am loved.
But, there are no words so precious or as reassuring as the word of God.
*“For God so loved the world that He gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” John 3:16
Through all the ups and downs, ins and outs of life, no matter how out of control, alone, or lost I feel, God is always there, gently but lovingly guiding me on the path he has planned. (Jeremiah 29:11)
Maybe some of you that read this are struggling in life. I pray that you are rooted in Christ Jesus, and can stand firm and rest in his peace and grace. Maybe you’re struggling and don’t know Jesus, his saving grace, or his eternal peace. It may be because you have never been told about him. Maybe you weren’t raised in a Christian home like I was, or maybe, faith in someone you can’t see is just hard for you to grasp. Regardless of where you were born, what your circumstances are, whether you know Jesus or not, know that HE loves you.
I am one person, sharing my life and my faith. I don’t have the power to change the world, but I am called by God to share his Good News. The good news that anyone…yes, anyone can be saved from sin! God’s grace is a gift, the gift of salvation that he wants you to have. It may seem like a “little thing” but aren’t the little things the ones that mean the most?
Are you ready?
1.Realize & Admit you are a sinner: “For all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God (Romans 3:23) ADMIT YOU ARE A SINNER
2.Jesus paid the Price for our Sins (John 3:16)*
3. Believe and trust in Jesus! “Yet to all who receive Him, to those who believed in His Name, He gave the right to become children of God. (John 1:12)
4. Repent & Confess that Jesus is your Lord: “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be Saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Romans 10:9-10)
Then do this!
Believe that Jesus is the Son of God.
Repent of all past sins.
Confess that Christ is God’s Son.
Be baptized and find a church home.
I accepted Jesus a long time ago. I believe I was about 9 or 10 years old. I don’t remember details about that day but I still have the Bible I was given. Accepting Jesus doesn’t mean life will be easy or without challenges and heartache, but it will give you hope and assurance in your future.
Do you remember the day you accepted Jesus? I’d love to read about it. Feel free to share in the comments.
May God bless you and keep you. May He lift His countenance upon you and give you peace! Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. I will pray for you!
“If there is any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now, and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again.” William Penn
The day I started my blog I didn’t have much of an idea about blogging in general, let alone what I would write about. It wasn’t something in my list of things to do nor did I sit and plan out what it would look like. I didn’t know if anyone would read it, let alone enjoy it. I started it because I felt called to do so. Through my Bible Study, prayer, and quiet time spent listening, God kept telling me, “Kimberly, you have something to share and it’s something that people need to hear…from you. Start a blog and just trust that I will guide you through it.” I have started several posts over the past few weeks but they just weren’t sitting right and I kept feeling stuck and that it just wasn’t the right message. I don’t consider myself a writer, but it felt like writer’s block had set in. So I just waited… waited for God to do what He told me He would do. I woke up this morning with a message on my heart, so here goes!
I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling that life seemingly gets in the way of things we want to do and even things we need to do. My family life has been a little bit crazy lately… crazy good with a speed bump or two and some tears. My family and I have celebrated an Army training graduation for our middle son, Paul. We bid farewell to our oldest son, Brendan. The Army has moved him to Texas for the next leg of his active duty journey. We have helped our girl Emma in her college application process. She is aspiring to double major in International Studies and photography. I survived a fall down the stairs at my sister’s house, without any broken bones, thankfully. Then just last week, we, along with our church family, had to say good-bye to our dear Pastor. He passed away from complications related to surgery. It has hit me harder than I imagined, and our parish community is in mourning.
Being the empathetic, highly sensitive, and emotional being that I am, the way God created me, I experience life and emotions deeply, within and from my heart. Sometimes, I wish it wasn’t the case, but I have learned to accept that it is who I am and God made me that way for a purpose…His purpose. Just as He has a purpose for everyone and everything, He does everything in His time. His timing may sometimes line up with mine, but it has nothing to do with my plan…it’s all GOD.
I’ll rewind a little bit and offer a couple of recent experiences with God’s timing in my life.
Our Pastor, Fr. Gerard “Gerry” Creedon, recently passed away. But prior to that, just a couple of months ago, one of his siblings passed away. During his leave to bury his brother, our parish had guest priests that came to help with daily Masses and weekly confessions. There was one in particular that brought such energy and joy to the Mass, but I had such a hard time deciphering his speech, as he had a heavy accent. I don’t recall his nationality, but I struggled to understand his words and would leave Mass feeling I had missed the message. This went on for several weeks, despite my attempts to avoid his mass by changing the day and/or time I attended church. As luck… actually, as God would have it, every Mass I attended, this priest was there to celebrate. I really did my best to be attentive and listen but at any given Mass I felt I might have comprehended about one third of the homily. Anyway, he returned to his regular assigned parish and things went back to normal with Mass, the priests, and my ability to understand what was being said. Fast-forward to 16 November, our Parish suffers the loss of our Pastor. While there have not been any guests priests at our parish, his death has left a tremendous hole in my heart, in our Parish, the community, and across international boundaries.
During my attendance at Bible study this past Monday evening, during our small group discussion, God spoke to me through one of the ladies in my group, about His timing and purpose. She reminded me how I had shared about my struggles in Mass with the visiting priest. She understood and acknowledged my difficulties in both understanding the that priest as well as the death of my Pastor. She talked about how God was preparing me, in His timing, and for His purpose for this loss and for the change that it will bring, not only to our church, but in my own life, both emotionally and spiritually.
Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21
Just yesterday, my husband Paul and I went to look at a rental home to potentially move into at the beginning of the year. We are positioning ourselves to sell our current home and rent through the rest of the school year. Our daughter will graduate high school in June then likely move off to college in the late summer early fall. Our plan is to relocate back to Florida to be closer to family, settle down, and live the life of empty nesters. Anyway, we have been looking at rentals for several weeks and have applied for three different places only to be turned down due to mismatched timelines with the home owners. We had wanted to look at three other houses the day before Thanksgiving but were only able to see two. One of those was not going to work for us and the other of the two would work but an application just hours ahead of ours was approved and went to a rental contract. Paul and I both have faith in God’s timing and both agreed that we wanted to see the one other home we were interested in before we signed a contract on anything. In His wisdom and His timing, we saw the third house yesterday. The home is amazing, the location is desirable, and the timelines between us and the landlord is perfect. It amazes me how when I choose, and it is a choice, to wait patiently on the Lord, EVERYTHING falls into place.
I am so thankful to God for His timing in my life. He is walking with me on this journey and He keeps reminding me that His timing is always best and is always right. He is not confined by the ticking hands on the clock, my own thoughts about how my life should go, or anything else related to my human, sinful nature. He works on me, in me, and through me in His time and for His glory.
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10
Waiting for God and His timing isn’t always easy. I have found it much easier when I spend more time in God’s Word, in prayer, and in just sitting. Sitting in His presence, listening for His voice and direction.
Are you spending time with God daily?
Are you trying to force your own timing in some area of your life?
Where has God’s timing strengthened your faith?
No matter what your circumstances, be still, know that God loves you, cares for you, and will work everything out in His time. Let go and let him take control… HE will always do what is best.
I am not a goal setter, haven’t ever really been, mostly because I don’t take time, sit down and truly consider and think on what I’d like to accomplish. Really, the only reason goals are on my mind now is because of the devotional I am reading called Blessed and Unstoppable by Billy Alsbrooks. I am on day twenty-seven and the first self assessment question today temporarily paralyzed me. “Have I set my goals massive enough?”
At first I began to shrink inward as I thought about how very few goals I have. Of course, there are the ones that seem to go without saying, live healthy, be happy, and to some degree, be successful. But really, I don’t know what my goals are. What is it that will wake me up every morning and propel me forward towards the best-version-of-myself? I know what I enjoy and what I am passionate about. I am passionate about my family and my faith and I have a growing passion for sharing my heart, my faith, my creativity, and sharing God’s Word with the world around me.
After a few minutes of contemplation, it hit me! Like a soccer ball to the side of the face on a hot summer afternoon on my way to marching band practice. Yes, that actually happened, a very long time ago. I don’t play soccer and have never played, but the memory jumped into my thoughts as I was writing and I’m guessing it got your attention, right? Oh yeah, it hit me…I do have a massive goal! It has absolutely nothing to do with worldly success, money, a career, or material possessions. Call me crazy but I want to become a Saint! I’m not talking an NFL New Orleans version, I’m talking the beatified and canonized type. I want God to work miracles through me, to use my life to directly and drastically impact people and souls that I come in contact with. I want him to use me to glorify Him! So when I am gone from this earth I will leave behind my physical being and an extraordinary impact on the world. I know, its massive, but not impossible. After all, Saints aren’t “supermen” who are born perfect but rather ordinary people who follow God with all their heart.
This goal makes any other ones I have seem so small, but there are no small goals when it comes to becoming my best self. God gave me a set of gifts and he has called me to use them here, for this moment. I choose to be obedient. Oh! Back to my devotion and the prayer for the day. As I read it my eyes fill with tears, my heart fills with love and passion as I could feel God’s presence and hear the prayer as if it was written for me. It’s a prayer written by Billy and it reads:
Father, I pray today that you would show me how to take the limits off of you. Help me to dream bigger and believe in the wonderful things you have planned for my future. Give me the strength to aim higher and the faith needed to accomplish it in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Of course, I don’t know what God has planned for my future. I don’t know where each moment or each day will take me, but I do know who holds my every moment and every day… Jesus does. He tells me, “I know the plans I have for you” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11
What massive goals have you set for yourself? Are your goals aligned with God’s plan? Do you know who holds your future? How do you know?