He Is There

 

  • I Am There
  • We Meet

Trying to wrap my mind around the hard words: “Eat my body and drink my blood” (John 6:30 NAB) was impossible; even to believe it was ludicrous.

Human sacrifice, to please the “gods” or ask them for personal needs, sometimes through bartering, is all too common in history.  Just google ‘human sacrifice’ and you will begin to get the idea. History has a story to tell about who we are – – – a motley crew!  Today we still do human sacrifice, but it is sometimes sophisticated and blind.  There must be something in us that requires ‘blood’ to appease the gods, or maybe the gods require it.

This leads me to Jewish history where their God required no human sacrifice to make things right with him.  In the Jewish Temple bullocks were offered as sacrifice until the Temple was destroyed in 70 A.D.

If you study the connection between Judaism and Christianity you discover that God decides to send his son Jesus, a Jew, to earth as a sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins and to meet our personal needs and desires that would be best for us.  We are talking human sacrificial blood not animals.

When I became a Christian, reading John 6:54-56 was the wildest statement I had ever read:

“Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life – – – for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink.”

You receive Jesus through eating bread and drinking wine?

In the Catholic Church, Jesus, through the words of the priest and the power of the Holy Spirit, turns the bread and wine into the body and blood of himself; another incredible statement.

How can I wrap my brain around that phenomenon?  In reality, I can’t; a miracle of faith is needed.

For me that faith came when one morning I woke up out of a dead sleep believing that wild phenomenon. “I believe!  I believe!  I believe that the bread and wine is truly turned into Jesus’ Body and Blood.  Oh, what a gift of faith.”

What a relief it was; not to mention, there no longer need to be bloody sacrifices, human or animal, for Jesus has done it all.  The last bloody sacrifice!

 

 

 

Short Dream

  • Open a bookstore called Our Lady of Grace

One night shortly after becoming Catholic I had that dream.  It wasn’t complicated to interpret; I didn’t need counseling or a dream interpreter, just faith to believe that it was my calling.  The part that needed interpretation was the name.  My knowledge of the 2,000 year old traditions of the Catholic Church was very limited.  My dear friend Susan told me I knew Our Lady of Grace long before joining the church; it’s a special name for Mary, the mother of Jesus.

In the days that followed the dream would not go away; humanly speaking there was no way it would come to be.  There was a small savings that was available, but far short of the $100,000 to make it all happen.  I needed that savings to survive the state cut-back of the program I was teaching.

A friend was sent to me who had vast knowledge of bookstores and Catholic retailing; she came to mentor me on my journey.  Celeste encouraged me to go to a trade show to get familiar with the retailing industry.

On the way to Chicago I had sensed the Holy Spirit nudging me to buy $5,000 worth of books.  However, thinking, this is an exploratory excursion not a buying spree. Besides, we have no store, very little money, and you’ve chosen someone who knows nothing about Catholicism.  At the trade show I bought $2,500 worth of books and returned home somewhat sane; parting with all of my savings was not going to happen.  Our pastor heard where I had gone and asked me if I had brought back the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  “Catechism, Father?  What’s that?  “Conny it’s the first time in 400 years the church has revised and reprinted her teachings.”  Without advanced thinking on my part, $2,500 worth of the Catechism of the Catholic Church was promptly ordered.   Selling books began out of the trunk of my car after week-end Masses.

A gentleman named Wally came into my life; he was the dentist of a successful business man who wanted to see a Catholic bookstore in town; Wally became the connector.  In 1994 I walked out of Domino’s Farms in Ann Arbor with 450 sq. ft. of store space, far better than the trunk of my car.  At that time Domino’s was a typical gray corporate building off the beaten path, for a retail business to be established there seemed ludicrous to me.  The location was hidden in what seemed like the catacombs.  However, I remember leaving the building and the Lord saying, “I will bring the people.”

And He did!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meeting Mary

  • You can meet her

This prayer changed my life:  Jesus, I’d like to meet your mother.

Why, you wonder.  Why not just talk to your own mother.  That’s easy to answer, we did not get along and I needed a woman in my life who knew me.

My experiential revelation in prayer was the overwhelming protective love the Father and the Son have for Mary, it is awesome.  This very same love they have for me and for you.  ASK,  SEEK,  and WAIT.  In succeeding days I prayed that the Lord would prepare my heart to meet his mother.

One morning the blessed mother said to me, “I always lead people to my son.”  These were freeing words because I falsely thought Catholics worshiped Mary; I just wanted to meet her.  In the days that followed Mary had many things to teach me as a woman who was full of feelings and thoughts of unworthiness, inadequacies, and insecurities.  It’s hard to face the day when bombarded by lies from the evil one in one form or another; I wanted to know myself.

A favorite story of mine was when Mary said she was going to take me shopping.  I have always wanted a personal stylist because it is not one of my strengths.  About three months later I found myself in Miami on an unplanned shopping spree with my sister-in-law, who has all the talents a woman needs.  We were, I should say, she was showing me what I would look best wearing.  We even got into make-up, ear-piercing, and accessories, all of which I hope would not turn me into a five-hour let’s get up and get ready for work routine.  She did have to take a few short cuts.  Needless to say, we had a grand time and a full day.  Just as we were about to exit this elegant store the blessed mother said to me, “See, I took you shopping.”

Shortly after this shopping spree I found myself on a personal retreat in Scottsdale, Arizona at a Protestant sisterhood dedicated to Mary, the mother of Jesus.  While on retreat Mary spoke again.

“My daughter, I never led, I was a model for others to follow.  You see, whoever follows and believes my son allows him to lead in all matters of life.  My daughter, you have been made for your own purposes for him.  Do not let the evil one torment you with lies of unworthiness.  You have a mission and a call from him as I did, all my daughters do.  Do everything he tells you to do and you will become a well-spring of joy.”

These two particular encounters were significant in healing my relationship with my own mother and helped me to embrace my womanhood. Our blessed mother is faithful to us as women in the world we find ourselves today.

“Do whatever he tells you.”  John 2:5 (RSV)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Child’s Dream

  • Is waiting on the sidelines

When my mother was a child her mother forbid her to go to church, especially a Catholic Church.  Why?  Who knows, we are a motley crew of people.

One day her best friend asked her to go to church, a Catholic Church.  My Mom told me, “When I walked into the church and sat down, I knew Jesus was there and I wanted to become Catholic”.  For those not familiar with Catholic practices, Jesus is always present in the tabernacle; that is what my mother had sensed.

Time went on, World War II was in full bloom and Mom volunteered to help at the USO for service men and their families; she met her future husband in the process, my Dad.  Mom had fallen in love with a Lutheran and knew when they married she would become Lutheran not Catholic; together they would raise two children.

One day the daughter, that’s me, announced she was going to join the Catholic Church.  What a surprise to the family and a shock to my father.  My only response was thinking: this to shall pass and all will hopefully be well one day.

My brother and I lived many miles away from our parents and could not give them the physical help they needed in their waning years.  My Dad had made provision for he and Mom to reside in an assisted living situation in the town they lived; my brother and I were thankful.

On one of my visits to their new home, my mother tells me: “I want to die Catholic.”  Personally, I was shocked; I did not know all that I’ve shared with you so far.  My response was, “You need to talk to Dad about that decision.”

Up to this point in my life I had been Catholic for about 10 years and Dad said to Mom, “I see Conny has not gone off the deep end, so you can become Catholic.”  I don’t know whose heart exploded more joyously mine or Mom’s.

My mother’s dream as a child did not come about until she was 83.  After Dad died my mother lived with me for 5 years and passed away at the age of 90.  I had the privilege of burying her Catholic, her childhood dream fulfilled.

Messengers

  • the angels

Two back surgeries in one week left me debilitated to the point walking again was looking bleak.  The surgery was successful, but the aftermath was not; what a predicament.  While lying in bed helpless a blue code went off, someone’s life is in danger.

My kidney’s were shutting down, bowels quit, and 30 lbs. of water had accumulated in my body.  Breathing mask on and accompanied by many people in blue coats, off to ICU I went.  On waking, a new apparatus had joined me, a ‘bicycle chain’ down my throat.  Someone was always pushing pills, taking blood pressure, giving shots, feeding, bathing, and wiping my butt.  Many days and nights were sleepless; this whole scenario was not my idea of a good day.

Being in ICU quickly subdued any thoughts of being in control of anything.  So I’m thinking, where are all of those angels who are supposed to encompass and help me in my time of need.  Have they all gone on vacation?

At that complaint I sensed the Lord saying to me, “Do you see all the people who have helped you?”

Yes.

”  – – – – these are my ‘holy angels of mercy.’ ”

My heart leaped with joy and I began telling everyone who took care of me they were a ‘holy angel of mercy.’  People responded with joy, tears, a smile, thank you, and gratefulness.  What a beautiful message of love from the Creator to those who helped me.

There were many who supported me through this trial; I am especially grateful to the ones who wiped my butt and bathed me, that’s mercy.

There was only one person who did not respond to being a “holy angel of mercy”; this puzzled me.  The Lord later revealed that this person was to self-sufficient.

Oh! – – – I see – – – like me?  Yes, like you.

Psalm 91:11  “For he will give his angels charge of you to guard you in all your ways” (RSV)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Am A Mystery

  • to myself
  • but not to God

Reeling from a failed marriage left me broke, alone, depressed, and confused; there was no hope, no future – – – life was over.  My most cherished beliefs were crushed: marriage, children, and family.

Being a vagabond was not my idea of happiness, but for a while I was until a family took me in.  To earn my keep there was plenty of stripping and painting of furniture to do; the family was preparing to move to a new city.  I went with them to their new home that needed lots of painting and repairs; more board and room chores was good.  Through all the stripping and painting I had lots of time to think of why this failure, where to go now, and where am I going to get the strength to go on.

The family was quite spiritual; I tagged along with them to church.  Slowly my sense of God in life returned and I began to immerse myself in reading the Psalms in the Old Testament to gain strength for every moment of the day. There was one Psalm that gave me great comfort Psalm 139:14 (NAB)  “My very self you know.”  The Lord knows me better than I know myself, especially at this point in my life.

One day it was time to return to the working world, in trepidation I began my search.  There was a small ad in a shopper’s guide paper that read: Adult education teachers wanted.  I had no idea what an adult education teacher was, but I did have an education degree.

It was in in the arena of adult education I began to heal and have purpose.  I had the privilege of working with people who were looking for a second chance in life just like me.  Adult education was teaching those who had not completed their high school diploma the first time but were returning to get it the second time.  My students ranged in age from 18 to 85; what a privilege to serve them.

It was in serving and nurturing others that life began to return and it was in immersing myself in the Psalms that my soul began to sing again.

Serving and worshiping the Creator who formed me and gave me life from the beginning had not abandoned me; and he will not and has not abandoned you.

 

 

My Mother

  • I have two
  • Natural
  • Spiritual

My natural mother did the best she could in raising us; she came from a rugged background of childhood abuse.  Her childhood memories affected her relationship with my brother and me, but as we grew older we understood and were given the grace to forgive her and ourselves for not loving more.  Ignorance is not bliss.

It’s not easy to be a mother; your self-love must die and perhaps some of your dreams.  The bottom line is that we women were made to nurture and raise children whether they are our own, adopted, or others who need nurturing.

I had no children of my own, but one day I found myself suddenly having to take care of a new born baby.  To my amazement, and everyone who knew me, every natural maternal instinct kicked in and I had become a “mother” overnight. Motherhood is part of being a woman, it’s instinctive, do not squelch it.

There is another mother to meet, her name is Mary, the mother of Jesus.  She came into my life during a period of deep depression and rejection; a dark cloud so thick it was impossible for me to get out of on my own, not a friendly storm.

I asked Jesus if I could meet his mother because I needed a woman in my life to help me; she came to me, mother to child and woman to woman.  My spirit at last began to fly again as she gently restored me as a person and as a woman.

One day she said to me, “I’ll take you shopping.”  Personally I hate shopping and was never good at it.  I have a friend who is par excellence at shopping; she could make a buffalo look feminine.  My friend and I were hanging out at a high end clothing store when suddenly she’s picking out all kinds of new outfits for me to wear, all were exquisite, so was the bill.  We were about to exit the store and Mary says to me, “See, I took you shopping.”  What a great mom!

I pray you ask to meet her too!

 

 

 

Who’s Your Father?

  •  Who he was has affected who you are.

My father has left me with some of his scars from his childhood – – – like

  • He’s loving, kind, and gentle when not drinking
  • he beat me on occasion

Who’s your father?    Who he was has affected who you are.

  • He had an inappropriate relationship with me
  • I do not trust men

Who’s your father?  Who he was has affected who you are.

  • He is a good provider, always working
  • he is distant from me

Who’s your father?  Who he was has affected who you are.

  • He left me
  • I feel rejected

Who’s your father?  Who he was has affected who you are.

  • He is not loving
  • I feel empty

Who’s your father?  Who he was has affected who you are.

  • I have a good father
  • but he is not perfect in his love and acceptance of me

Who’s your father?  Who he was has affected who you are.

  • I don’t have a father
  • then you have an emptiness in you, a hole, a void, something missing

Who’s your father?  Who he was has affected who you are.

  • Jesus reflects his father’s love
  • embrace him
  • I and the Father are one (John 10:30 RSV)

You and I did not have a perfect earthly father, but all of those childhood hurts can be healed when we embrace Jesus who reflects his father’s heart that can heal all your hurts, rejections, and sorrows.  Let him love you.

Call to your heavenly father to bring his healing balm of love to your soul.

One morning in prayer the father came to me and encompassed me with his overwhelming protective love.

 

 

 

 

Companion to All

If you have read Jesus’ biography, you know he did not leave us alone, he gave us his Holy Spirit as our constant companion.

Your family, friends, and those you admire will not always be with you, but the Holy Spirit is.  Wherever you are, call out and listen; the Holy Spirit will come and give you guidance, wisdom, and understanding.

My first encounter with the Holy Spirit was being baptized.  Did I understand it then, no, but the Holy Spirit did.

My second encounter was wondering what this life and my life was about. The Holy Spirit took that vague thinking of mine and turned it into my greatest adventure.

Look back on your life and see where you have been and now ask yourself where am I going from here.  Come Holy Spirit!

The Holy Spirit can speak to you through your daily circumstances, reading a book, conversation with a friend, music, long checkout line, drama, joys, nature, dirty diapers, local and international news, grouchy customer, walking, running, flat tire, entertainment, your troubles, sadness, vexations, and even your pet or that pesky mosquito; there is no limit to his voice only my failure to listen.

Come Holy Spirit

  • when I find myself helpless and hopeless
  • when I feel like I have been rejected again
  • when I am suffering
  • when I am unable to love those around me
  • when I am happy again

The more you come to know the Holy Spirit and see his action in your life he begins to impart to you characteristics of his personality: love, joy, peace, and patience.

Come Holy Spirit and fill my life with you.

“I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. (John 14:18 NAB)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who is This Jesus?

  • How can I come to know Him?

My friend advised me to read the Bible, but start with the New Testament.  It is Jesus’ biography written by those who followed him during his life on earth.  Jesus never wrote anything, but he had a special way of fulfilling his journey on earth that included a lot of people.  He gave hope to his followers, healed the sick, restored hurting minds and wounded hearts, and comforted the poor.  Reading the book of Mark will give you a good idea of who he was and what was his mission.

That’s nice my friend, but how does that affect me today in my life with all of my troubles, wants, needs, desires, hurts, and insanity?

Jesus is alive!  He is able to help you through this earthly journey just as he helps all those who have faith in him.  His stories will invite you to come and sit with him as you would with your best friend.  Jesus is full of wisdom, kindness, and most of all, love and acceptance of you as a person.  There is no condemnation of your past, only forgiveness.

My friend, forgiveness of my past would be a great gift, but what about my daily wrongdoing?  Sometimes I can’t seem to escape my own misdeeds and they are repeated again and again without my intention, sometimes with my intentions, which I regret later on.   These misdeeds have a way of piling up again higher and higher.

In scripture (the Bible) Jesus calls all misdeeds or wrongdoings sin. You, I, and everybody else do not live perfectly in a loving and compassionate way.  I think most of us would like to, but our capacity to do so is a little shaky.

Jesus has a plan to help me and you live our lives helping and accepting others and ourselves as he does.

“For I know the plans I have for you – – – – plans to give you a future and a hope.”  (Jeremiah 29:11 RSV)