My mother-in-law moved in with us on Saturday. As you can imagine, we are all immersed in adjusting and trying to establish a routine. In addition, I take care of my granddaughter two days a week and did not want to give that up. Soooooo, I spent Monday and Tuesday with a 92 year old woman and a 14 month old baby. Talk about a vivid experience of both ends of the life cycle! I wish I had some wise words to share. I don’t.

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I spent the past week in Ocean City, Maryland writing and walking. I finished the manuscript I’ve been working on since January. Sent it to the publisher. Editing will begin this week.

one more excerpt:

In 2003 I stumbled upon Celebrate Recovery, a Christ-centered 12 Step recovery program, and that has made all the difference for me. Through working a program that continually pointed me toward Jesus, I learned how to access his healing power. My childhood wounds were finally healed, not coped with but healed. My habits are being broken one by one, and my crippling hang-ups have evaporated. They have been replaced with faith and trust in my Higher Power, Jesus Christ.

another excerpt from manuscript I’m currently working on:

As the discrepancies between Roman Catholic doctrine and Scripture became clearer and clearer to me, I became very angry at the Catholic Church. I was angry at them for teaching me and countless others a distorted gospel—a gospel that leads to fear, anxiety, and shame rather than peace, joy and love. My anger at the Catholic Church simmered under the surface for years and would flare up when I would attend a Catholic Mass or observe other Catholic rituals or ceremonies. As my family of origin were still practicing Catholics, all family weddings and funerals were held in Catholic churches. Each of those events became times of much internal struggle for me. At times I was able to hold my anger in check, at other times I was not able to do so.

It eventually became clear to me that I needed to make peace with the Catholic Church if I was to grow in faith and truly walk the walk. With God’s help, I was able to accomplish this by learning to see the cup as half full rather than half empty. I began to look with appreciation at what the Church did do, rather than look with anger at what they didn’t do. What the Catholic Church did do is: teach me that God exists; that he made me; and that spiritual matters are important. The Church also instilled in me a belief that church is where one develops good morals. If it were not for the second lesson, I would never have brought my children to church and I would never have been led into a relationship with the real God.

I am now at a place in my faith journey where I am grateful to the Catholic Church for what they did teach me. Though anger at the Church still rears its ugly head from time to time, it is quickly replaced with a deep sadness for the multitude of faithful Catholics who do not know the joy and peace of resting in the certainty of their salvation and the unconditional love of their heavenly Father. At the same time, I am extremely grateful to God for leading me away from the Church and teaching me that it is not about religion, it’s about relationship.

Excerpt from manuscript I’m working on:

Throughout my childhood and adolescence the emotional lessons I was learning at home were paralleled by the spiritual lessons I was learning in church (Catholic) and in school (Catholic). While I was learning at home that I had to earn my parents’ love and acceptance by what I did, I was learning in church and in school that I also had to earn my way into heaven. Church and school were virtually interchangeable. We would frequently attend Mass during the school day, and religion was part of the curriculum.

I learned that my salvation was dependent on what I did (good works) not on what Christ did for me. I learned a very complex system of checks and balances in which certain types and amounts of good works and penance made up for certain sins, and sins were divided into categories of venial and mortal. I learned that if I died with mortal sins on my soul that I had not sufficiently made up for with good works and penance, then I would spend time suffering in purgatory to purge my soul of these sins. The amount of time I would spend in purgatory would depend on where I was in this check-and-balance system regarding sins and good deeds at the time of my death. This greatly increased my anxiety and contributed significantly to my sense of not being able to measure up no matter what I did. Due to this I was not only afraid of life on earth, I was also afraid of life in the hereafter.

My picture of God was of a very cold, distant, critical God who didn’t care about how I felt or what I needed, and who had very high expectations of me, so high it was doubtful I would ever reach them, and he wouldn’t love me or welcome me home unless I achieved them. He certainly was not someone I could trust or depend on. He was someone to be afraid of and stay away from.

During my early adulthood, I drifted away from church and away from God.

I ended my January 15th post with “So, for the next few months, I plan to hibernate and write. I hope life doesn’t interfere as it has a tendency to do.”

Up until 4 weeks ago I have been hibernating and writing. Life then threw me an unexpected curveball which ground my writing to a complete halt. Curveball: Due to a conglomeration of financial, emotional and family issues my husband and I decided to move my 92 year old mother-in-law out of the assisted living facility 4 hours away in which she is currently living to our home to live with us. She will be moving in on May 19th.

Since the decision was made that she would live with us, my mind has been totally consumed with putting as much as I could in place to try to make the transition as smooth as possible, i.e. transforming my office into a bedroom, transforming our sunroom into my office, contracting to have a bathtub turned into a walk-in shower, registering her with doctors in her network, and arranging for some in-home care to protect my mental health. (As my husband is still working full time the majority of the caregiving will fall to me) This is now all done AND, now that things are pretty well set on this end, we will be spending 2 long weekends with her to get things ready on her end, i.e. sorting through her possessions and disposing of things we cannot bring with us.

Finally, in an effort to not have my life completely derailed, I have arranged to spend 5 days at the beach in early May to finish the manuscript I’ve been working on all winter. I know that once she is here I will not be able to focus the way I need to focus to write. So, it needs to be finished before she arrives.

To each individual who follows this blog, I wish you a Happy and Blessed Easter.

Thank you for following me.

Mary

God has a plan and a purpose for our lives. He has a specific role he wants each of us to play. That role is the purpose for which we were created. If you are not sure whether you believe that God has a specific purpose for each individual he creates, I suggest you read the Bible. The concept of God having a plan and a purpose for everyone he creates is referenced throughout both the Old and the New Testaments.

The prophet Isaiah was one Old Testament figure who believed this. Isaiah told Cyrus, a pagan king, about God’s purposes and plans for him. The people of Israel then began to question God for working through a pagan king. To them, Isaiah said, “Destruction is certain for those who argue with their Creator. Does a clay pot ever argue with its maker? Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying ‘Stop, you are doing it wrong!’ Does the pot exclaim, ‘How clumsy can you be!’ How terrible it would be if a newborn baby said to its father and mother, ‘Why was I born? Why did you make me this way?’ This is what the Lord, the Creator and Holy One of Israel, says: ‘Do you question what I do? Do you give me orders about the work of my hands? I am the one who made the earth and created people to live on it. With my hands I stretched out the heavens. All the millions of stars are at my command. I will raise up Cyrus to fulfill my righteous purpose, and I will guide all his actions’” (Isaiah 45: 9-13). Isaiah told the people of Israel, and us, that God is sovereign, that he knows what he is doing, and that he chooses whoever he wants to do whatever he wants.

Jeremiah was another Old Testament prophet who also believed that God has a purpose and plan for everyone he creates. Jeremiah relayed this truth in a letter to the Israelites when they were in exile in Babylon: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope’” (Jeremiah 29:11).

A New Testament figure who believed that God has a specific purpose for everyone he creates, and who had a very clear understanding, as well as an acceptance of the role God wanted him to play, was John the Baptist. “At this time, John the Baptist was baptizing at Aenon, near Salim… John’s disciples came to him and said, ‘Teacher, the man you met on the other side of the Jordan River, the one you said was the Messiah, is also baptizing people. And everybody is going over there instead of coming here to us.’ John replied, ‘God in heaven appoints each person’s work. You yourselves know how plainly I told you that I am not the Messiah. I am here to prepare the way for Him—that is all’” (John 3:23-28).

The Apostle Paul also believed this. In a letter to the church at Corinth, he stated, “But we will not boast of authority we do not have. Our goal is to stay within the boundaries of God’s plan for us” (2 Corinthians 10:13).

If you want to know God’s purpose for your life and don’t know how to discover that purpose, here are some suggestions:

“Before God created you, he decided what role he wanted you to play on earth. He planned exactly how he wanted you to serve him, and then he shaped you for those tasks. You are the way you are because you were made for a specific ministry…God never wastes anything. He would not give you abilities, interests, talents, gifts, personality, and life experiences unless he intended to use them for his glory. By identifying and understanding these factors, you can discover God’s will for your life.” (Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life)

“God has created every person with a purpose. But not everyone discovers what that purpose is. To find out, get to know yourself—your strengths and weaknesses. Look at your opportunities. Examine where God has put you. Then seek His counsel. He will give you a vision for your life.” (John Maxwell, Becoming a Person of Influence)