choices


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.

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Excerpt from manuscript I’m working on:

When God designed our bodies he instilled in us a natural healing process for when we get injured or when we get sick. Just watch the way a cut heals for an example of this.

The healing process doesn’t always happen in the way or the timing that we want though. This is because we are not in charge of our own healing, God is. The healing is God’s choice, it’s always God’s choice. For example, God may choose not to heal the physical or mental illness. He may choose, instead, to give us the inner strength, peace, and resources to cope with the illness.

When it comes to emotional and spiritual wounds, however, I believe that God wants to heal us. I believe he wants to heal us so we can be effective instruments in furthering his work in the world in the specific way he chose for us to do that. In his book, The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren states “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 wants us to fulfill the purpose he chose for us, and he wants us to fulfill it effectively. Therefore, he gave us the skills, abilities, talents, and gifts to fulfill that purpose. In addition, he gave us a passion to do it. By giving us everything we need to fulfill his purpose for our life, he wired us to succeed. We will not succeed however, if we are unhealthy emotionally and/or spiritually. Therefore, if we want to successfully walk in God’s specific will for our lives, it is imperative that we allow God to heal our emotional and spiritual wounds.

Remember though … God is a gentleman. Just as he doesn’t force his invitations for relationship on us, he also doesn’t force his healing on us. He gave us free will. This means we have the power to make choices, and the choices we make can either allow God to heal us or can hinder him from healing us. Our choices can either facilitate the natural healing process or can block it.

Another excerpt from manuscript I’m currently working on:

A very important and difficult part of my spiritual journey has been coming to terms with my Catholic upbringing. The Catholic Church did not lead me to God. On the contrary, the Catholic Church erected many obstacles on the path to God—roadblocks that seemed impossible to overcome.

As I read and studied, I came to see how the Catholic Church took very simple concepts and complicated them to the point where it was next to impossible to understand them. The Church instilled fear and apprehension in me and solidified the toxic shame that developed as I grew up in my family. Rather than teaching me that God loved me, the Catholic Church taught me that I was not good enough for God and would never be good enough no matter what I did. The whole concept of having a personal relationship with a loving God was totally absent. It was nowhere on my radar screen.

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.

I have been in the writing zone all day. I would like to share an excerpt with you. Here it is:

A very important and difficult part of my spiritual journey has been coming to terms with my Catholic upbringing. The Catholic Church did not lead me to God. On the contrary, the Catholic Church erected many obstacles on the path to God—roadblocks that seemed impossible to overcome…The whole concept of having a personal relationship with a loving God was totally absent. It was nowhere on my radar screen… 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.

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I have been lost in the writing zone since Christmas. The manuscript I am currently working on is about half finished. I hope to have it completely finished by late spring/early summer. For those who are interested, this is the dedication: To individuals carrying emotional and spiritual wounds. The words in this book, both my words and the words of others, are written to you and for you. Words are powerful. They can hurt or they can heal. They can entertain, encourage, criticize, or fill any one of numerous other functions. The words in this book are meant to be healing words, helping words. They are written in the sincere hope that they will help you make sense of your experiences, encourage you, challenge you and comfort you.

As I was doing research for the manuscript I am currently working on, I came across an excerpt from one of President Obama’s speeches in Diana Butler Bass’s book Christianity After Religion. I decided to post it as it really resonates with me. Here it is:

“In May 2011, President Obama began a speech by telling a story about Miami Dade Community College, a school where immigrants from 181 different nations had earned degrees. ‘At the commencement ceremony,’ he said, ‘181 flags–one for every nation that was represented–were marched across the stage, and each one was applauded by the graduates and the relatives of the graduates with ties to those countries.’ He explained. ‘When the Haitian flag went by, all the Haitian American kids shouted out; when the Guatemalan flag went by, all the kids of Guatemalan heritage shouted out.’ So it went with 181 different nations, 181 different flags, and 181 different ethnic groups cheering their native places. ‘But then,’ the president continued: ‘The last flag–the American flag–came into view and everyone in the room erupted in applause; everyone cheered. It was a reminder of a simple idea as old as America itself: E Pluribus Unum. Out of many, one. We define ourselves as a nation of immigrants, a nation that welcomes those willing to embrace America’s ideals and America’s precepts. That’s why millions of people, ancestors to most of us, braved hardship and great risk to come here so they could be free to work and worship and start a business and live their lives in peace and prosperity.’ This, President Obama concluded, was the American future: out of many, one.”

My ancestors came to the United States from Ireland during the potato famine, the Great Hunger. They came because their survival depended on it. I hope that we continue to be a nation of immigrants, offering hope and safety and a second chance to those who need it.

I’m de-Christmasing the house. As much as I love Christmas (and believe me I do LOVE Christmas), I am looking forward to putting the busyness of the holidays behind me and returning to my regular routine. Even though all the outside trappings of Christmas will no longer be visible, I hope the spirit of Christmas will be visible all year long through my regular routine. How? You might ask, well …

As we know, Christmas is really about celebrating the birth of God’s Son, the long awaited Messiah, Jesus Christ. God sent His Son to bring light to a dark world. We celebrate His birthday one day a year on Christmas Day. Those of us who are Christ followers, however, can make Christmas last all 365 days per year. How?

Individuals who have experienced spiritual rebirth carry God’s Spirit, His light, inside us. That light comes with marching orders. We are to let His light shine in us and through us so we can light up a dark world. We allow God’s light to shine through us when we choose to love/give regardless of how we feel. Real love is a verb. It is a choice. It is selfless. It is choosing to do something for someone else regardless of the cost to self. It is not a feeling. It is an action. It is this love that brings light to a dark world. When we do that Christmas can last 365 days a year.

Chris Rice sings about this in his song Go Light your World. Here’s the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WsM5lt9tCFo

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