Long Overdue…

When we had decided to move to Collingswood, NJ, I asked God to please provide us a church that had daily Mass and Eucharistic Adoration. (see link below).   God blessed us in that, at St. Peter’s Church in Merchantville, NJ,  not only can we attend daily Mass before Gary goes to work, but this church also has Eucharistic Adoration around the clock! That’s so much MORE than I had asked for!

St. Peter’s has a special chapel designated just for Eucharistic Adoration and there is someone there (24/7) to spend time alone with Our Lord!  I love being there because Jesus draws me into Himself, transforms my thinking and speaks to my heart as I sit there before Him!   I get to spend unique time with Him there every single day!  See more

This is a blessing to me because it has changed my prayer life for the better!  I find myself drawing so much closer to Our Lord because of spending that glorious and reverent hour with Him in the Adoration Chapel.  I cannot get enough!  What a mystery this is!

Because of my extended time in adoration, I’ve become more sensitive to hearing Christ’s voice in my heart.  I’ve asked Him to make me more sensitive to the areas I am lacking in spiritually and to show me what needs to be healed or worked on in my life.

This week I felt pain in my heart as I realized I had saddened Him.

The Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession) has been a most beautiful and freeing experience for me from the start! There is nothing like it!  I desire to go to confession as often as possible, preferably no more than every two weeks.  Since coming to Collingswood, with getting settled and other distractions, we have not been to confession at St. Peter’s!  It’s been over two months for me since my last confession, and I have never gone that long before!  I realized this week that, even if it’s for a sin like being judgmental or preferring to do things my way and not what I hear God asking of me, I never like to go this long.

Just this week it came to our attention that Gary and I needed to confess something as a result of “leaning on our own understanding” instead of seeking God for His direction.   Needless to say, we purposed to get to confession yesterday no matter what!

When I entered the confessional booth, I told the priest my name and began my confession.  I wanted it to be personal, which is allowed, and I confessed that sin.   As the priest explained to me why it was a sin, it occurred to me that I actually should have known that, and it grieved me all the more!  Then I realized that the other “minor” issues I needed to confess probably wouldn’t have happened had I recognized the bigger sin as sin at the time!

I had been wondering why, in my morning devotional time, I was becoming more easily distracted and wasn’t as attentive to God’s Voice these days…!  Now I know why! As the priest explained it to me, I completely understood and it greatly grieved my heart!  As I was given absolution, I tearfully and joyfully finished and left the confessional enveloped in a sense of peace and love coming from Jesus.  This brought me to tears of gratitude for His Divine Presence in that confessional booth!  I can’t explain it but I know I meet Jesus every time I receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation!

As I sat in church, worshiping Jesus and evaluating what had just happened, I realized that I know I have a long way to go in my walk with my Lord!  I am unworthy of so many blessings He has brought my way yet at the same time I am so overwhelmed with the immense love He has for me!  This too is a mystery, and such a glorious one at that!

I will make it my priority to get to confession on a more regular basis, that’s for sure!   I cannot go without it because it is Jesus Himself who speaks to me through the priest, and there is always freedom and peace as a result!

The beauty of this sacrament is that it creates a deeper desire within me to not repeat any of the sins I confess…and that spurs me on!  I don’t want to offend Jesus, Who is all good and deserving of all my love!  It seems that,  each time I receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation, I am more blessed and have more resolve to please Jesus than in the previous one!  Thank You, Lord, for this privilege to come to You in confession!

May the words of my mouth and the meditation

of my heart be pleasing in Your sight,

 Oh Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”  

Psalm 19:14

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“…Defend Us in Battle…”

Gripped by Fear

I was with someone the other day who I’ll call Kathy.  We had spent the day together and while we were talking that evening, her countenance changed in an instant!  She was distraught with sadness, fear and confusion.  She said she saw the ambiance of the room we were in completely change.  “A large dark shadow surrounded and overcame us” and it filled her with fear.  I saw nothing but was certain she was under attack by the Enemy of her soul.  She complained of sharp pain in her stomach, began shaking and crying and was instantly nauseated.  We went into a bathroom where she sat by the commode, burped constantly into it and expecting to vomit at any moment.  I told her that I thought it was Satan who was doing this to her, and she agreed.  She went on to say that she knew it was him because “he has done this before” to her.  She told me that whenever she wants to “do something important or kind to someone, Satan comes to me” and provokes her to do just the opposite!

I have been a strong advocate for understanding spiritual warfare for many years!  I learned a long time ago, while working in a trauma unit in Lexington, KY, that Satan is alive and well and presents himself in cunning and crafty ways.  I’ve made a habit of declaring the name of Jesus aloud every time I have been under attack.  As a missionary, I often sensed spiritual attacks and, in an audible voice, would rebuke Satan in Jesus’ name and recite the armor of God (Eph 6:1-10).  During those years I grew strong in Him and His Mighty Power and was able to overcome evil attacks by the devil on various occasions.

We’re not Alone in the Battle

Recently I learned from God’s Word that we don’t have to completely depend upon ourselves to rebuke Satan and his evil minions.  There are verses in the Bible about this that I often wondered about, but never paid much attention to.  Zechariah 3:2 refers to the Lord being the One who rebukes Satan:The Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, Satan! The Lord, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you!”.  Jude 9-10 says, “But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not himself dare to condemn him for slander but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”.

 So, I’ve come to believe that I don’t have to fight this battle against the Evil One alone!  The Lord defends me and has anointed the Archangel Michael to fight these battles!  Psalm 91:11 says For He will command his angels concerning you   to guard you in all your ways;”.  I had forgotten how many scriptures there are concerning angels!*   So God uses his angels to guard and protect us; something I had never considered before becoming Catholic.

I never thought of seeking the help of an angel, much less an archangel, for anything in my life!  I have preferred to not try to figure them out, even though they are in the Bible.  They always seemed unrealistic and fairy-like to me.  Since becoming Catholic, however, and experiencing results of the Archangel Michael’s victory in my life, I am convinced of the authority he has from Jesus Christ to defeat the Enemy of our soul!  I have called upon the Archangel Michael every day for almost a year now to fight my battles for me, and he does!  He defends me in every battle I encounter whether it’s a spiritual, emotional or physical battle, and he always wins!

So, while Kathy was shaking and crying in pain, expecting to vomit into the commode, I knew I could call on the Archangel Michael to fight this spiritual battle for her.  I knew it was a spiritual one and that she would be fine and wasn’t going to vomit.  She was too weak and upset to believe she was going to be ok.  It broke my heart.  I knew what I needed to do.  She isn’t Catholic and I wasn’t sure if she would understand the prayer I was about to pray, but it was essential that she be free of this torment.

I was certain that the Archangel Michael would come to her rescue and the result would be victory.  I have proof that he fights my battles and I was sure he would for her too.  Victory was soon to be hers!

Victory!

I called upon the Archangel Michael to fight the oppressive spirit that had overcome Kathy by the power and authority he has as an archangel.  Within a minute she calmed down, began taking deep refreshing breaths, stopped burping, relaxed and smiled.  It was over.  I was then able to explain to her that St. Michael is someone we can depend on to fight our many spiritual battles!

Hebrews 1:14 declares: Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?”.  I am so glad that we can depend on the angels of God to serve us!

I reminded her that when we sense the presence of evil in our lives, we can immediately call upon St. Michael to defend us no matter what the battle!  May we always have confidence to trust God for St. Michael’s warrior position in our lives!

The following is the prayer that I used that day with Kathy.  It is scripture from the Bible put into prayer form.

“St. Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle (Ephesians 6:11)
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil (Ephesians 6:12).
May God rebuke him (Jude 1:9), we humbly pray,
and do thou, O Prince (Daniel 10:21 and 12:1) of the heavenly hosts,
by the power of God (Jude 1:9-10),
thrust into hell Satan (Revelation 12:7-8),
and all the evil spirits (Revelation 12:7-8),
who prowl about the world (1 Peter 5:8)
seeking the ruin of souls. (1 Pet 5:8)    Amen.”

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My husband Gary loves to cross stitch.  He is currently cross stitching the picture above of the Archangel Michael for me.  Notice how St. Michael has defeated Satan.  I cannot explain the peace and gratitude I have to God for helping me find this prayer to help me in those times of need!

*There are 96 references to angels in the Bible.

Nino and Nina?

Nino and Nina?

We have two new names!   “Nino” and “Nina” (pronounced Neeno and Neena, to not be confused with the Spanish pronunciation Niño and Niña).

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Last month Gary and I had the privilege of standing with our good friends as the godparents of their little baby boy at his baptism.  We covenanted with them to stand in the gap for this precious boy’s spiritual health and well being for his entire life!

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As we stood there together, I was overwhelmed with a deep sense of peace.  To be a part of such a sacrament as this was a true blessing!  While Milo sat on his daddy’s lap, Father Robert first anointed him with holy oil in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  That was precious!  And Milo’s face proved it!

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Then at the baptismal fount, as the holy water was flowing over little Milo’s head, I was blessed by the beauty of what God was doing in that very moment!  The stain of original sin was being washed away and Milo was becoming a member of the Body of Christ by water and the Spirit!  (1Peter 3:21).

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John Martignoni* says that “infants need to be baptized, just like anyone else, so that they can be “in Christ,” so that they can put on Christ, so that they can become children of God, so that they can become members of the body of Christ, so that they can be granted eternal life.” **

So, by being Milo’s godparents, we are committed to be his mentors, educators, and spiritual support to guide him in the way of Jesus!  What a joy it is to pray for him and dedicate our lives to nurturing him as Christ leads in that endeavor.

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So why did Matt and Laurie ask us to be Milo’s godparents?  They were friends of ours and attended the church Gary pastored.  But that’s not exactly why.

In the winter of 2015, they began searching for how to better live out the Gospel through a radical expression of it.  That February they decided to volunteer for one month at the “House of the Dying Destitute” in Calcutta, India, founded by Mother Teresa.  The nuns there, the Missionaries of Charity, vow to a life of poverty, chastity and obedience to Jesus Christ.  Their lives are very difficult and they never leave the grueling work in the heat and abuse of that land.  Matt said those nuns were the most joyful of anyone he and Laurie had ever known!  That month’s experience transformed them both from the inside out and were greatly impacted by the nun’s loving ministry to the dying.

Because of their time in Calcutta, they became very interested in the Catholic church because they could see Jesus in the lives of the nuns.  What was it that gave them such victory despite the pain?  Thus, their journey began.

After their return, Gary asked to meet with Matt to hear about his experiences in Calcutta.  Matt told him of the impact the nuns had on him and explained how it caused them to pursue the Catholic church.  Upon hearing that statement Gary confessed that he too was on a journey toward the Catholic church.  Both were shocked and relieved to have a mutual desire to walk that journey together!

Within a few months, the four of us attended classes to become Catholic and naturally grew closer as the months progressed.  We were received into the Church of the Good Shepherd in March of 2016.

matt and laurie convalidation

Before long, Laurie was pregnant and they asked us to be their baby’s godparents.  What an awesome privilege it was for us to commit to that endeavor and prayerfully seek wisdom for it, even before baby Milo was born.

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They soon moved to New Jersey for Matt to attend medical school but we kept in contact from time to time.  Within the year Gary was offered a job with the American Bible Society in Philly.  That was certainly a confirmation of God’s plan for us to be closer to our godson who was now about 8 months old!  We began looking for an apartment near them.  The first one we saw in their town was the one we took and we love it!  I love how God works these things out!

So now we’re Nino and Nina and Milo will soon be calling us that!  We’re “family” now because that’s basically what happens with godparents.  We share the covenant and commitment of raising Milo to know, love and serve Jesus Christ!  What an honor this is and such a huge responsibility!  We accept it with deep joy and determination as we seek God’s wisdom and direction for this little guy.

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Proverbs 2:1-11 has been my memorized “mommy scripture” for my own children and my grand kiddos for many years now.  I am committed to praying this prayer for little Milo as well.

“My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you,
turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding—
indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding,
and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.
For the Lord gives wisdom;  from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
He holds success in store for the upright, He is a shield to those whose walk is blameless,
for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones.  

Then you will understand what is right and just and fair—every good path.
10 For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.
11 Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you.”

That has been my prayer for my eight grand kids all these years and now I am adding my little godson as well!  May God guide his little heart to be ever so near to Jesus, the “leader and perfecter” of his faith!  (Hebrews 12:2a) 

*catholicanswers.com

** John 3:3,5;  Gal. 3:27;  Rom. 6:4:  1 Cor. 12:13;  Acts 2:38;  2 Cor. 5:17

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now What?

Now What?

Only New York City dwellers can truly understand what I’m about to say… Why? Because living in NYC is entirely different from where I now reside! I’d almost forgotten what life was like on the other side!

A large kitchen, wall-to-wall carpeting, a large bathroom, two comfortable bedrooms, a washer and dryer, a quiet neighborhood (sans of drug dealers and extra loud music!), a town that is up and coming near Philly, gas that is $.40 cheaper that a New York City, and a choice of two awesome churches to attend! Need I say more? We are blessed beyond words!

We sought God’s will, asked for clarity and direction, and waited on Him even when it took much longer than we wanted. We now see God’s hand in why we moved to Collingswood New Jersey! He has showered us, as He always does, with deep peace and joy! But it’s not only about the conveniences of life here!

No matter where we go we know that God calls us and wants to use us in service to Him. And once again, here we are in the center of His will for us. We moved here because, as of one week ago, Gary is working with the American Bible Society located in Philadelphia. His love for God’s Word and the Spanish language are now a large part of his 40 hour week at ABS. It thrills me to see him so fulfilled in these two areas he has always cherished! He is part of a team working to help people become more engaged in Scripture and his main focus is with the Spanish language.

So what have I been doing?

I’ve had more fun setting up our new home in this quiet neighborhood. It’s been most enjoyable for me with the conveniences we now have. While Gary is at work I have been emptying boxes, organizing rooms and setting up our new life here, especially using Facebook Marketplace!

What I haven’t experienced yet is what I left back in NYC. I had an active and very busy life there. I was babysitting my grand kiddos a great deal, working with the women’s organization at my church, working part-time babysitting children in my neighborhood, and finding time to meet up with old friends for fellowship. I was very busy and loved it!

So now what?

One thing I have determined to continue with here is to attend Mass every single morning! When we were looking for an apartment near Philly, I asked God to please provide us with a church that had early morning Mass.  Since becoming Catholic over a year ago, I’ve grown to depend on meeting Jesus in the Holy Eucharist every single morning!  To our surprise (not!) God has given us two choices! We have the privilege of choosing between the 6:30 a.m. and 6:45 a.m. Mass celebrations nearby, and have yet to determine which one to attend on a regular basis.

As far as the rest of my life here in Collingswood, New Jersey goes, I wonder what God has next for me!

About a year ago Gary mentioned to me that he sensed that the elderly are a group of people often overlooked by society, and wondered how we could participate in their lives. Little did we know that we would become a part of a residential village full of elderly folks! God has been preparing us for this and here we are! What that entails I have no idea, but, as always, I can’t wait to see what God wants to do through us.

I look forward to meeting the folks here. I’ve already become good friends with someone who shared with me that she was just told that she has breast cancer. I told her I would be praying for her and it took her off guard!  That was the beginning of a new and special friendship. I am committed to walking this journey alongside her.

A blind lady lives above us, an irritated and irrational man lives down the way, and a quiet older woman dying of cancer walks her dog all day long to keep active. These are just a few of the many residents here that God is calling me to befriend. I am open to His plan for me. He may have me work part time in the dermatology office here in town or perhaps I’ll just hang out with the folks here in Pewter Village!

I am honestly a bit nervous about what all this might mean!  But I know that God walks beside me and He’ll work out the details as I trust Him. How fitting it is that as I write this today, the priest spoke of this very thing in his homily (sermon) this morning from Matthew 11:25–30.  God is inviting me to come to Him, especially in my weakness, and learn from Him. He promises to walk with me  in my simplicity. He asks me to join Him in obedience to what His purpose is for me in these new surroundings. I don’t know what that is but I want to reflect Him in my life. It’s Jesus who gives me the strength and desire to say “yes” to whatever He asks of me and I honestly look forward to finding out what that is!

15 x 3 is ?

15 + 15 + 15 more?

Have you ever watched a child build a pyramid out of Duplos or Legos?  I love watching my grandkiddos build and create – but I especially enjoy seeing the end results of their creations!

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My life has developed into a pyramid of sorts that has been built piece by piece through the depth and grace of God’s love and guidance!  The major building of this pyramid has occurred in fifteen year increments.

The Pyramid’s Foundation

The base of the pyramid was established when I decided to follow Jesus by giving Him my heart and life at the age of sixteen.  It was a clear decision that made sense to me.  I had very little knowledge of what it would mean for the rest of my life, but that didn’t concern me.  This was a new beginning for me.  It was a foundation I needed because I desperately needed God in my life.  My new relationship with Jesus was going to carry me into the future!

Every building must have a foundation.  That’s basic.  No building is stable without a firm foundation.  My foundation was Jesus Christ and I knew He was “Rock” solid!  During my high school years and into college I found myself developing a “best friend” relationship with Him.  I learned to trust Him, cling to Him as I walked into adulthood, and rely on Him for financial, emotional and spiritual issues that were to come up.

Building on the Foundation

The first layers of this pyramid were the fifteen years we spent in Lima, Peru as missionaries.  I loved Lima, my neighborhood, the culture and the people.  I was so blessed to live there!  Spanish was all I spoke outside our home which was both challenging and most fulfilling!  During those years in Lima God took me down a few notches, humbled me and created a deep longing in me to know Him.  He kept me on my knees as we established an Evangelical church there.  He also blessed us with the privilege of adopting a precious baby boy.  Little by little more blocks were being added to the pyramid God used to keep me depending on Him!  They were difficult years but in our difficulties I could choose to depend on Him or reject Him.  I chose dependency.  I learned much about spiritual warfare and what it meant to cling to Jesus and confide in Him every moment of the every day!

I established some very dear friendships and left my heart there when we realized God was calling us elsewhere.  We had to obey and we saw our time in Peru come to an end.  It was sad to close that chapter in my life, but a few more layers were to be added to my pyramid.  Only God knew what was to become the next addition to it.

The Pyramid’s Center

I had no idea that the second fifteen years of my life would be just as beautiful and fulfilling as those spent in Lima.  The next building blocks were these years we’ve been in New York City.  I can’t believe we’ve lived here for a full fifteen years!  We’ve had our share of difficulties here, but the blessings have outweighed the difficulties!  The saying is true: “Only in New York!”.  These years have been most fruitful* and I am certain that God used this city to conform me more and more to His image!

I discovered how many prejudices I really had while living here.  I experienced trials that took me to my knees.  I’ve lived with difficulties beyond my expectations… and I’ve come out alive! I’m not only alive, but I’m thriving because of Christ’s power and strength!  I wouldn’t change it for anything!

The past two years, however, have been used by God in exceptional ways.  My faith has been deepened through my understanding of and becoming Catholic.  This has brought both joy and sadness to my heart: joy because many have rejoiced at our deepened faith in Christ and obedience to His call to do so, and sadness because others consider it a wrong move.  My relationship with Jesus has been, in these past two years, one that words cannot describe!  I have experienced a closeness to Jesus Christ that surpasses my understanding!  And as I’ve said in previous blogs, I have no words that can explain it’s sweetness and peace.

Warren girls with GWB

Today as I babysat some precious girls, I found myself getting a little teary-eyed as I looked out at the George Washington bridge just beyond their beautiful back yard.  I’ve loved New York City!  As I watched my granddaughter and this new best neighborhood friend (and little sister) play together I found myself peaceful and grateful for my time here!  As they played together, I pondered.  I reflected.  God has done so much in me these fifteen years and I sat there feeling very thankful.

I’m really going to miss this city that has molded and shaped me!

The Top of the Pyramid

As I look back and see how the blocks were added to this pyramid, fifteen years at a time, I wonder what God will do in and through me in these next fifteen years!  I must admit that it excites me beyond words!  I’m approaching the top of the pyramid now, as this move will most likely be our last one, but who knows!  I can’t wait to see what the building blocks to the top will look like.  And if they are not pleasant, I am okay with that .  God has held my hand in the past and walked with me, lead me through thick and thin, and held me tight when I most needed it.  I’m sure He’ll do the same if not more in the years to come.  I’m His and that’s all that matters!

* See my previous blogs

Pins and Needles!

Have you ever hoped something awesome would happen, then braced yourself so you wouldn’t be disappointed if it didn’t work out?   For me that’s a bit nerve-racking because I’ve been extremely idealistic all my life – always hoping for the best! But I do try to not be so idealistic in order to not be disappointed…

But this time it was different.

I couldn’t help but be excited and hopeful without reserve!

Since Gary stepped down from the pastorate two years ago here in New York City, he has been working with an upstart insurance company, mostly on the phone.  That’s pretty different from being the pastor of a church!  It has been rich and he has learned a great deal, but it’s not his passion.  That’s why this “awesome thing” that came up was exciting for me!

With the help and encouragement of a dear friend of ours, he saw a job opening at the American Bible Society that was a perfect fit for him, and applied for that position on May 1st.  He was given a written assignment to complete and return, which he did.  Then he awaited a response.  I was on pins and needles!

It was over two weeks later that they asked him to come in for a second interview.   It went well and he waited again.  He was told there were two others being interviewed as well.  This created a bit of curiosity in me to say the least. So once again, pins and needles!  I was on the edge of my seat!  The interview went well, he said, but still no word.

I found myself hopeful and prayerful at the same time.  I prayed that “God’s will would be done” but at the same time yearning for a “yes” to that position.  Remember, I’ve spent my life trying to not get too idealistic about things, but in this case, I just couldn’t help it! I also sensed a great deal of peace because I knew that either way, God would make it clear and we would live with whatever the outcome.  It’s important for me to trust Him in all things, even when I myself get in the way!

My life has been filled with needing to trust God for many things, especially the ones that are beyond my control.  And this was one of them.  Gary did his best at the interview and so we waited…

I was secretly on pins and needles once again.  I didn’t want to get my hopes up because often my heart gets broken, but it looked like Gary might get the job!  Then one day, five weeks after his resume submission, he received an email offering him the job!

Now What?

We had to switch gears.  Our move was to be in three short weeks and we had to find an apartment!  Reality set in.

More pins and needles, but these were new and exciting ones!  I love moving!  I suppose it’s because when we were missionaries we moved several times in those fifteen years. And during our fifteen years here in New York City, due to rent changes, etc., we have lived in four different apartments!  So moving is fun for me and I was excited to find a new home once again!

As I googled the Philadelphia area for one bedroom apartments, the first one that came up was an upstairs apartment that looked intriguing.  I am unable to use stairs due to my bilateral knee issues, so I asked the realtor if a downstairs apartment was available. She said the only one downstairs had just opened up but was a two bedroom.  The rent was the same as our current rent in NYC, so we said we’d take a look.  We stopped on our way to a retreat in Ohio and took our checkbook just in case.  Within 20 minutes of seeing the gated community of townhouses, the apartment, the huge yard with all the amenities, and a special parking space just for us (!), we were glad we’d taken our checkbook!  We signed and paid the processing fee right then and there!

What?  Could it be that easy?  No more pins and needs for me!

As we chatted with the realtor, she told us that the apartment opened up just days before my email because the folks who had rented it simply “changed their minds”.  Downstairs apartments are hard to come by in that complex, so this was definitely, in my opinion, a God-thing!  I am frequently pleasantly surprised by these sweet gifts God gives me from time to time!  And this one was sweeter than sweet!

Goodbye New York City

New York City is known for  not having washer/dryers in most of the affordable buildings or available parking anywhere on the street.  This new apartment has both and I cannot be more pleased and blessed about that!  By the way, walking in the snow or rain with 6 bags of groceries is also a “fun” thing to do here, but having to drive 10 minutes away for a light bulb or toilet paper might be an adjustment for us as well!  That’s because there’s a “bodega” on every corner here in the City!  So living away from NYC will have it’s adjustments I’m sure!

Living here has been an experience I’ll never forget!  I’ve personally been able to see life with different eyes and a clearer perspective than ever before.

New York has molded me for the better no matter the cost.

New York has changed my view of God’s immense love.

New York has given me a spiritual fervor and understanding of our basic human needs.

I’ve seen in NYC what God sees in His Creation.

It’s been an awesome journey  with its ups and downs, but a most fulfilling one.  I used to tell my kids when they were little that life had a way of making us “grow strong inside”, a phrase that has comforted me through some of the difficult moments during these fifteen years of life in NYC!  But there’s nothing like it and I wouldn’t change it for the world!

But now it’s time to leave.  I thank God for His perfect timing, and I’m sure there will be plenty of new adventures as we move forward.  May He take me by the hand and may I walk where He wants me to go in this next phase of my life with my loving husband Gary, who will most certainly be fulfilled and blessed in this new job experience!

I can’t wait!  Uh oh, there’s that idealistic personality coming through again!  I can’t help it, but I know Who can!  May I follow in His Footsteps and be used by Him in ways I am unable to see right now, all for His Honor and Glory!   Yep, I can’t wait!

 

Cactus. Artificial Plant. Flourishing Philodendron.

What do these three plants have in common?  They represent the different responses we have to the wounds or sins in our lives.  A wound is like a two-sided coin:  One side deals with the pain inflicted on us by someone else.  The other side deals with our potential sinful response to that pain.

What do these three plants reveal about how we deal with our wounds?  I found out last night at church.  Our guest speaker, Fr. Michael, presented us with three plants and explained how they represent what occurs when we have a wound deep within our heart.

A Cactus

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What happens with a wound that has built up extreme defenses for years?   We subconsciously develop tiny, somewhat invisible prickly spines around our heart, like those of a cactus.  A cactus can survive in the worst of circumstances!  We, due to that pain, may prefer to protect ourselves, at least emotionally.  We develop a prickly exterior resulting in anger and defiance.  We don’t water it (with God’s Word).  We simply leave it to survive on it’s own, without giving it the attention it needs (prayer and forgiveness).  We ignore it. But it survives.  It may even begin prickling others in a subconscious way.

When Fr. Michael held up the cactus plant, two prickly spines got stuck to his hand. What a perfect illustration proving how irritating our wounds can be if we set up prickly defense mechanisms to avoid working through them!

An Artificial House Plant

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An artificial house plant may represent another defense mechanism.  This plant looks great on the outside and can be set in a nice place in our home (heart) but it’s not real.  From a distance it appears real, healthy and clean until we get close enough to touch it!  Our lives can appear healthy on the outside as if we have no problems or wounds.  We fake it.  We protect the wound by acting as if all is well.  That’s artificial.

That was the kind of wound I had until two weeks ago*.  My heart looked great on the outside, but when that one wound was touched by whatever triggered the pain, I reacted.   Up came my defenses and I would walk away appearing to not be affected.  I carried on with life as if nothing had happened. Deep within my heart, however, the soil was not healthy at all.  I wasn’t facing the pain with real solutions.

A Flourishing Philodendron

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The third wound is represented by a healthy plant like this.  With healing comes beauty but not the disappearance of the wound.  Healing basically replaces the cactus or fake plant with an alive and thriving one like this beautiful philodendron.  If it is well watered and maintained free of dust and particles, the flourishing plant will survive even when the wound remains.

As a kid one of my monthly chores was to clean and shine the leaves on our philodendrons in my home.  They were beautiful!   My mom’s cleaning concoction was a dilution of milk and mayonnaise.  The milk had the protein needed to help the leaves flourish and the mayo created a brilliant shine.  Even though tedious, I loved cleaning the leaves and removing the dust and particles that impeded their growth.  I was very proud of my work, which took about an hour each month, but the end result was beauty and fulfillment for me!  I took the time it needed and the result made me smile!

This beautiful “peace lily” as it’s also called, has invaded my heart and replaced the unhealthy wound with beauty and freedom!  Jesus healed that deep wound in me two weeks ago!  I already see the growth of a healthy heart flourishing in my life!  I referred to this wound in a previous blog* and was one I lived with for over 30 years.  I now expect this flowering philodendron to bloom, flourish and grow in beauty over the next 30 years!

God’s Healing Mercy

Fr. Michael went on to explain that wound healing comes from the “Mercy of God”. He described God’s mercy as a gift of time:  God has all the time in the world, just as I did when I cleaned those leaves on the philodendron.   He will heal our wounds as we allow Him into our lives to do that!  Being willing to open our hearts to His Healing Touch is the secret.  I’ve had my share of wallowing in the pain without reaching for healing.  I would complain and pout, but failed to ask God for healing.  I always asked for grace, but not for healing.  I’m not sure why, but reaching out wasn’t at the top of the list.

Fr. Michael said that the reason we don’t receive healing is because we don’t reach out to others who can help us.  For me that has changed.  Sharing the depth of my heart has been quite easy since becoming Catholic.  This is due to the Sacrament of Reconciliation (confession).   What I used to consider an outrage I now see as peaceful surrender to a merciful God!  This creates in me a desire for complete freedom in Christ and His forgiveness, no matter what the issue or wound is!

The evening ended with the corporate reading of a powerful prayer of surrender.  We were then given an invitation to take time to share our wounds with any of the four priests available for confession.  I was excited to share my wound with my pastor!

Why? Because it was no longer an open wound!  I explained how Jesus had healed me of it when I “touched the hem of His garment” at the retreat I attended a couple of weeks ago.  It was a joy to share that with him.  He was the one who had previously counseled me concerning the varying degrees of pain I’d had from that wound.   That’s what I love about confession: it’s not just reporting our sins and being told what to do for penance.  It’s sharing our hearts with the confidence that we’ll receive counsel and healing from Jesus Christ through the anointing of the priest!**

God has blessed me through the Sacrament of Reconciliation in so many ways.  He removed the most volatile wound of my life and I’m a flowering philodendron as a result!  I water, nourish and clean out my heart daily to be keenly aware of other wounds that may creep into my life.

* See Blog “The Wound Healer” from 5/25/17

** See Blog “I Wish I Had Known” from 3/8/17