Thursday, May 18, 2017

A Revert's Perspective

It is no secret that my husband has struggled with deep regret over us leaving the Catholic Church and being away for 10 years. He has since worked through it and has forgiven himself, especially now that the Lord has restored him and he is doing what he is passionate and gifted in. I on the other hand have not dealt with the same regret. I can honestly see how the Lord used our time away and coming back to give us a deeper appreciation for what we had. The Lord can work good out of anything! Also, sometimes, you have to go to the other side to realize the grass isn't always greener. 

I hope I don't offend my Protestant friends. I did gain some valuable friendships during the time we were in a non-denominational church. There were also some things I really appreciated. I appreciated the often passionate worship, sense of community and the openness to hearing God speak. 
 Also, I often enjoyed bridging the gap and dispelling myths Protestants have toward Catholics.

My list however for what I appreciate now that we are back is longer. I share this with you because there are many Cradle Catholics who don't realize what they have and is why converts often make the best Catholics.


I appreciate that when we go to Mass, the focus is not on socializing, but on prayer and preparing ourselves to encounter the Living God!


I love and appreciate the Mystery that is there!

I appreciate the sense of the Sacred and the visible signs that point to the invisible. 


I appreciate the beauty, the statues, the incense... These things magnify God and they draw my attention upward, helping to open my heart to the things of Heaven.


I appreciate that Catholic worship isn't just about the music. There are many ways to worship God. The highest form of worship for Catholics is the sacrifice of Mass.

I have a deeper appreciation for the Eucharist and the depth of intimacy that is available through receiving Jesus in the Eucharist. The Eucharist also helps me have a deeper awareness of the habitation of God within me at all times.


I appreciate, that surprisingly, I am more accepted now with the ways I hear from God than I was when we were in a church that is supposed to accept those things. I guess that shouldn't surprise me. Many of the Catholic Saints had dreams, visions, prophetic words, etc. 


I appreciate that Catholics recognize the Communion of Saints. There are some Saints that I feel very close to and that's not considered weird. I know they are praying for me and helping me draw closer to God.

I appreciate the authority of the Church. I appreciate that, when it comes to doctrine and moral issues, it's not just left up to my own interpretation of scripture, especially because there are many modern issues that aren't even addressed specifically in scripture. 

I appreciate that there are boundaries and a correct understanding of grace; A cheapened form of grace goes around the cross instead of through it. It makes allowance for every kind of sin instead of offering people redemption and freedom. 

I appreciate the safety and protection that comes with the covering of the Catholic Church. I never experienced so much spiritual warfare as I did when we were Protestant. 

I appreciate that I no longer have to defend certain doctrines and morality. The Church does that for me so I can just focus on loving people.

Just like natural seasons, I appreciate the liturgical seasons. There is always something to look forward to. There is a rhythm but it is never the same.

I appreciate that before Christmas and Easter, we recognize the season of Advent and Lent as a time to prepare our hearts.

I have a deeper appreciation for Mary. Catholics do not worship her like some Protestants suspect but in honoring her and recognizing her beauty, I think Catholics have a better appreciation and respect for women, their role and their femininity.

Now I do recognize, sadly that much of the Catholic Church got away from Orthodox Catholicism in the 70's. Like St. Pope John Paul II predicted however, we are coming into a new spring time in the Church. The Church even looks different than it did twenty years ago. I guess, people are realizing that throwing out the baby with the bathwater wasn't such a good idea. The Holy Spirit is definitely at work! There is a new desire and longing, especially among young people for the Sacred, Holiness, and Truth. 

As I am writing this and reflecting on the things I love about being Catholic, I feel a deep anticipation especially for Mass in a couple weeks.  

This year, Sunday, June 4th is the feast of Pentecost. Pentecost is the day the Church was born. Tom and I were here, in Indiana last Pentecost for his interview. We got to attend Mass at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel last Pentecost. It was definitely recognized as a high feast day! They had lots of incense, chanting, and beautiful music! It was very beautiful and you definitely could feel the presence of the Lord!

I also am very hopeful for the future of the Catholic Church and anticipate what the Holy Spirit still has in store!


Matthew 16:18 - ...And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it!

*I had to edit because I originally thought this Sunday was Pentecost Sunday because last year it was the middle of May :).

Monday, May 8, 2017

Recognizing God's Presence in the Familiar

Last week the Gospel reading was from Luke 24 about the road to Emmaus. It is one of my favorite stories in the bible. After Jesus died on the cross, many of his disciples became sad and discouraged. In this story, two of his followers were headed back to Emmaus, to their old life, from Jerusalem because they were disheartened over Jesus' death. Jesus appeared and even walked with them along the road but at first they didn't recognize him.

I have often found it baffling: How could they NOT recognize him?! Yet, how often have I been in his presence and also didn't recognize him?

Like many Catholics, I was born into the Catholic Church. I was baptized as a baby. Catholics believe baptism actually does something. We believe at baptism, we receive the presence and fullness of God through the Holy Spirit. So, because I always had the Lord in my life, I didn't know what it was like not to have him.

 I also spent many weekends at my grandparent's house in Frankenstein, Missouri and often went to church with them. My grandfather helped lay the stones of the Catholic Church there. It is a very beautiful church, but when I was younger, I don't think I appreciated the beauty of it. There were a few things about the church however, that even as a child, left me in awe! One being that when you walk into the church you are greeted by two huge angels holding holy water fonts. Another thing I remember is the beautiful stations of the cross and big mural paintings on the wall. They seemed to draw me in and I remember often staring at those instead of listening to the homily.

When I was 19, I had an "Emmaus" type experience and recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread, through the consecration of the Eucharist. That was the first time I realized Jesus was in the bread we ate at communion. It also was the first time I realized God knew me and wanted to have a relationship with me.

As many of you know, Tom and I left the Catholic Church a couple years into our marriage and were away for about 10 years. We stopped recognizing that he was there and gave up hope that he could resurrect what appeared to be a sleeping giant.

When my grandma died, I went back to Missouri for her funeral which took place in the Frankenstein church that I attended a lot as a kid. Through the beauty all around me, the memories came flooding back. I then recognized that he was there and he had always been there, even when I wasn't aware of it.

After being away for 10 years, Tom and I realized the grass wasn't greener on the other side. We missed the sense of the sacred, the beauty and the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. Being away gave us a longing for these things that we once took for granted.

In 2007 we came back and gained a deeper appreciation for the beauty and the presence of the Lord in the Catholic Church.

I think there is something to be said for beauty. God created us with a physical body, not just a spirit. He gave us senses. He often speaks to us through our senses of sight, sound, smell, touch and taste. The physical world can draw our eyes upward and point us to the supernatural and something bigger than ourselves. There is something to be said for using incense, bells, sacred music, chanting, beautiful art, and what appears to be bread in liturgy. The things of this earth can mirror and magnify the things of heaven. We can know that whatever beauty we encounter in this life, it is only a glimmer and taste of what awaits us in the next!

Philippians 4:8 says, "Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - meditate on these things." 


Friday, April 28, 2017

Mindsets are Powerful but Mercy is More Powerful!

So, I have 6 kids - not because I have good pregnancies, but because Tom and I believed that to be God's will for our life. I actually had very horrible pregnancies! I would have 24 hour a day nausea, gestational diabetes, and preterm labor, to name a few distressing side effects. The worst side effects being the strong contractions and preterm labor that would go on for months! The pressure was so great at times, it was hard to walk; I felt my babies were going to fall out of me!

When we were engaged, before we got married, the Lord showed me a baby boy we would have someday. Well, I kept having baby girls. I love baby girls and would have been just fine to just have girls, but I believed God promised us a boy and so I wanted to see God's promise fulfilled. 

After our 5th baby girl was born, I went to see a priest. I told him how I believed God promised us a boy but I had 5 girls and wasn't sure my body could handle having another baby. He then asked me a question that caught me off guard. He asked if I had ever considered an abortion. What?! "NO!", I said emphatically.

I left the confessional with the priest and reflected on what he had said. I realized it was very plausible that in my teenage, pagan days, there was a very likely chance that I had the attitude- if I get pregnant, I can just abort. After realizing, I may have had that heart attitude, I repented to the Lord.

Tom and I became open to having another baby. I got pregnant and ended up miscarrying at 9 weeks. I offered that baby to the Lord and felt like that offering was like a mustard seed that Jesus talked about in Matthew 17. I felt, mysteriously and supernaturally, that offering was going to produce abundant faith and fruit in my own heart and life.

Two months later I got pregnant again. At 20 weeks, to our great delight, we were told we were having a healthy baby boy! Amazingly, I didn't experience any strong contractions before it was time to have him. This is the first of all my pregnancies that I didn't experience that! 

I really believe, not experiencing preterm contractions and pressure with my last baby was because I repented of having an abortion mindset. I never had an abortion but Jesus said, having anger in our heart is the same as murder (Matthew 5). In my case, having a heart attitude of abortion was the same as having an abortion. That attitude was also manifesting itself physically, as my body was trying to reject my pregnancies.

What I really find moving, is that I didn't need to jump through hoops to receive mercy or healing! All I had to do was repent! Once I repented, Jesus was able to come in and bring healing!

This past Sunday was Divine Mercy Sunday. It is a feast day based on the revelations of Saint Faustina. She had a vision of Jesus with rays of mercy flowing out of his heart.

God's mercy is bottomless! When we encounter his mercy, we are filled with joy! It is the joy of the Lord that gives us strength (Nehemiah 8)!

And I will leave you with this to chew and meditate on:
Habakkuk 3 - His brightness shall be like light itself, rays shining from his hands - there is strength hidden...But I will rejoice in the Lord, take joy in God my savior. He will make me as sure-footed as the deer. He will lead me up to the heights.
May you encounter Christ's bottomless mercy in your own life today! His mercy is new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23)!!! 

Monday, April 3, 2017

Receiving the Gift of God

Okay, I'm going to ask a personal question: Are there sins you continue to struggle with over and over again? Do you get discouraged because you just can't seem to overcome them?

The root cause of our addictive heart and our struggles is that we don't understand the gift of God; we don't understand that we are His Beloved; we don't understand His bottomless mercy or His love! Therefore, we turn to stagnant water that does not satisfy instead of springs of living water that only God can give.

A couple weeks ago, the Gospel reading was about the woman at the well (John 4). That story wasn't just about that woman. This past Sunday the Gospel was about the raising of Lazarus (John 11). Again, that story isn't just about Lazarus, it is about us!

Like the woman at the well, we also have a tendency to run to wells that will run dry and never fully satisfy. Like Lazarus' body was bound, our souls are often bound by sin. Our eyes are bandaged and prevent us from seeing.

We don't see the gift of God that is available to us (John 4:10).

The problem with sin is that when we choose it, we become less of who we were meant to be. We become less human and less like Christ; we are left feeling sad and incomplete.

We are called to give it all; give our whole lives! We are left feeling sad when we give less of ourselves and settle for temporal pleasures. Just look at the story of the man who asked Jesus what more he could do to acquire eternal life: Jesus told him to go sell all he had and come follow him. The man couldn't do it and was left feeling sad (Mark 10:21-22). Money and material possessions was the vice of this man.

There is nothing we could give up that God would not bless us with 100 fold (Mark 10:31)!

If we recognized that we are the Beloved of God; the Bride of Christ, we would also expect daily bread. His daily bread is every word that comes from His mouth (Matthew 4:4) and is also available in Holy Communion (John 6:35). Let us taste and see that God is good (Psalm 34:8)! We can seek an encounter with him daily (Matthew 6:9)! He desires to speak to us daily! Nothing else will truly make us happy and fulfilled like encountering him daily! May our eyes become unbound so we see His workings in our daily life! He is the eternal Word! He is always speaking; He speaks through His creation; He speaks through other people and situations; He speaks through Holy Scripture; And yes, he speaks directly to our heart!


Let us have ears to hear and eyes to see! Let us daily drink from Springs of Living water that will never run dry and will fulfill our restless hearts!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

A Core Fact

So, if you have been following my blog for any length of time, you have probably figured out that I like analogies. It is also the way God gets my attention and speaks to me.

I believe the Lord gave me an analogy that some people reading this blog post may need to hear. I share it in order to encourage you in your walk with the Lord.

You may especially need to be encouraged during times like Lent when you are fasting and trying to draw closer to the Lord. It can almost feel as if you are going backwards instead of forward. Be encouraged however and don't trust your feelings; you are probably closer to Him than you think!

Imagine your soul is like a body of water and Jesus is an anchor. We are called to allow this anchor to go deep into our soul. The way to do this is through fasting and prayer. As we fast, pray and draw closer, eventually this anchor is going to hit bottom. When the anchor hits bottom or the depth of our soul, it stirs up all kinds of muck. It can even uncover creatures like crabs and such. The crabs don't like to be uncovered and brought into the light so they may try to pinch and attack.

If you will persevere, find a quiet retreat in your soul to commune with God, the light of his face will cause the enemy to flee and the mucky water to become clear again!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Let's Find Our Way Back!

Recently I watched the new Disney animated movie, Moana. The Producers spent 5 years researching and visiting the islands in the South Pacific before making the movie. In doing so, they were able to get acquainted with Polynesian culture. Under the special features section of the Moana DVD, one can learn about the culture as well. 

While I was watching the "making of the movie", it occurred to me just how far we have strayed from the way God originally intended the world to be.

On these little islands in the South Pacific, the people have held onto their cultural heritage. They have handed down their traditions and history through stories passed onto their children. They also have a real sense of family and community. They even help raise one another's children, considering everyone in the village, family and they share everything they have with one another. One thing that struck the directors was the sincerity and friendliness of the teenagers that lived there.

Along with respect for people, the Polynesian culture has a great respect for the land and ocean. They live off the land, using all the natural resources available to them. They have the mindset that the land owns them, they don't own the land. Their faith is also a big part of who they are and worship with their community is very important to them.

Another thing that is interesting about them is, despite modern technologies, they have stuck with their own way of doing things that has worked for them. For example, many still rely on the stars as a way of navigation instead of GPS.

It occurred to me while watching the movie that in this day and age, with the technology we have, we are able to connect with people all around the world but we are no longer connecting with our own family, neighbors or community. Modern technology has become our Tower of Babel. With technology we have attempted to become like God apart from God and have failed to recognize God in our neighbor and working within nature. We've become out of touch and blind as we have sought bigger and better advancements; no longer seeing Him in the details of everyday life.

It all started in the Garden of Eden. Man chose knowledge over Wisdom and Life. True Wisdom and Life can only be found in God. We wanted to become our own little god instead of eating from the source of Life to become like the one true God. We thought we could attain perfection by gaining more and more knowledge but instead it has caused us to become less of who we were made to be and whom we were made for. We have strayed farther from our roots, our true identity, our heritage. We have strayed far away from the way life was meant to be lived.

Although it doesn't sound half bad, I don't think the answer is to sail off to a little island and start a community. In Christ there is hope! Jesus can redeem anything! Through the cross of Christ we have the opportunity to once again eat from the Tree of Life and become like Him! We can put Jesus first instead of being distracted by the latest technology. We can begin connecting and reaching out to our neighbor and those around us. In Christ we can live life to the fullest, build community and be an example to others of the joy that comes from following Him!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

It's Not Too Late!

We are almost a week into this Lenten season. How is your Lent going so far? Are you keeping your Lenten promises? Are you drawing closer to the Lord?

A good thing to keep in mind is that God desires our hearts, not our sacrifices just for the sake of sacrifice (Matt. 9:15; 1 Sam. 15:22; Hosea 6:6; Psalm 51:16)!

If you want the best Lent ever, think of those things that distract you from drawing close to the Lord; those things that hinder your walk with him and prevent you from receiving all of his love for you! Then refrain from those things. It's not too late! We still have 34 more days!

Joel 2:12-13 Come back to me with all your heart, fasting, weeping, mourning. Let your hearts be broken, not your garments torn, turn to the Lord your God again, for he is all tenderness and compassion, slow to anger, rich in graciousness, and ready to relent.