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“Angel” – that is the name of my beautiful kitty cat. But I should have named her “Ornery”.
She is chock full of personality, and sometimes I call her “Miss Personality”. It is hard for me to hold her and love on her because she always wants to get down and play. When I talk to her, she rolls onto her back over and over again, and she loves to talk back. In fact, she is the most talkative cat that I have ever owned. One of the funniest things that she does is when she smells something, she will open her mouth and just look at me. It is one of the funniest things I have ever seen!
When I throw a toy in the air, she jumps up so high to get it – sometimes three to four feet! I am always shocked when she jumps that high. While I write in my living room, she goes down to the first level of my townhouse and looks out the window at the birds and those who walk their dogs. She absolutely loves to do this, but every 15 minutes or so, she comes back up to “check” on me. She lets me pet her head and she rubs up against me, and then she returns to the lower level to look out the window. It is so incredibly cute!
To understand this story, I have to share my morning routine. Angel sleeps on the bed with me. When I wake up, I turn on the TV and listen to the news for about ten minutes or so, and Angel knows this, so she patiently waits for me. But if it takes any more than ten minutes, she will start to meow. Then she will jump on the nightstand and start pushing things off onto the floor. I know at that point that I need to get up and get moving.
Yesterday was Mother’s Day. When I woke up, I immediately picked up the phone and called my mom. This was different from the normal routine, so I guess it bothered Angel. While talking to my mom, she went over to the blinds and started patting them as hard as she could with her paws which made quite a bit of noise. I snapped my fingers to get her to be quiet at which point she stopped and looked at me. I continued to talk to my mom, and she went back to batting at the blinds. I gave up, got out of bed and went downstairs with her while I talked to my mom. We both laughed at Angel’s behavior – cats certainly know how to get us to do what they want!
This morning, when I woke up, Angel started to bat the blinds again with her paws. She didn’t even wait the usual ten minutes or so. I think she may have learned from yesterday that if she messes with the blinds, I will get up immediately. And that is exactly what I did! She certainly has me figured out!
Well, there is a picture of Jesus on the wall that I see every day when I go downstairs. This picture of Jesus is the same one from the book “Heaven is for Real”, and it is my favorite picture of Him. This morning, I was caught off guard as I glanced at this picture. For a split second, it looked as if Jesus was smiling….kind of as if he was about to laugh. I quickly looked back at the picture, and He looked just like He had always looked, but I knew what I saw in that split second. I smiled and then chuckled.
“Yeah, you are the one that gave her to me!” I said quietly as I walked down the steps, laughing. I then picked up Angel and loved on her, knowing that she was a gift from Jesus. I always knew that, but this morning I was reminded of how lucky I am to have this wonderful cat in my life.
Since the beginning of the year, it seems like I have been bombarded with quotes and pictures about red cardinals.
The first quote I saw was in January on my Facebook page. This quote, by Victoria McGovern, gave me great comfort:
“May you come to find comfort in and remember cardinals appear when angels are near. So go now, sit outside and drink your tea. Keep a look out for the little red bird – it is there, your loved one will be.”
This quote was accompanied by a picture of a beautiful male red cardinal in the snow. I immediately thought of my dad since he passed away in 2014, but I doubted that I would see any red cardinal since it was the middle of winter. At my home, I usually see finches or sparrows, but only in the spring/summer. It was a nice, fleeting thought, but I didn’t think much more about it.
About a week later, a friend of mine who is also an excellent writer and photographer posted a picture that he had taken that day. It was snowing, and two red cardinals, one male and one female, sat in the branches of a tree outside his window. I was stunned! I knew that this was a sign that angels were near. Again, I thought about my dad, and I told my mom what had happened which gave her great comfort.
A few weeks later, another post came across my Facebook page. Again, it was a picture of a male red cardinal. The quote read as follows:
“Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, loves leaves a memory no one can steal.”
Once again, I thought about my dad and how no one can take away the memories I have of him. I remembered how he sat me on his lap and let me act like I was driving the car. I remembered how me held on to the back of my bicycle as I learned to ride while promising to not let go of the bike (even though he eventually did). I remembered how he taught me to calculate complex math problems for my school homework. I remembered how he wrestled with me and my brother and sister on the living room floor and had us laughing so hard we couldn’t breathe. I thought about how none of these memories could ever be taken from me. I smiled.
A few days later, as I worked in my office, I looked up at my bookcase as I took a small break. My eyes immediately were drawn to a book that I had read last year – “The Gift of the Red Bird” by Paula D’Arcy. I thought about the red cardinal once again, and joy filled my heart.
Just about three weeks ago, I saw yet another post on my Facebook page. Again, it was a male red cardinal in the snow, and the quote was as follows:
“When a red cardinal appears in your yard, it’s a visitor from heaven.”
Well, I don’t have a “yard” since I live in a townhouse. But, my mom has a nice big yard, and she loves to watch the birds in her backyard. She has a bird feeder that she keeps filled all the time, and the birds come often…that is if the squirrels don’t get to the feeder first. I called her and told her what I had just seen on Facebook and told her to keep an eye out for red cardinals in her yard.
A couple of days later, I again was surprised when I saw that another one of my good friends posted a picture that she had taken of a red cardinal in some tree branches. I didn’t have a yard, but that red cardinal somehow still managed to show up. Again, I smiled and thought of my dad.
That same day, I called my mom, and her first words were “You aren’t going to believe this!” As she sat on her deck that morning, she thought to herself, “I wonder if I will see a red cardinal today.” Not long after that, a female cardinal showed up in some bushes followed by a beautiful male red cardinal. She just couldn’t believe it, but she was so comforted. I was just shocked!
About two weeks ago, I went to visit my mom, and I stayed overnight. While we ate breakfast, we talked and looked outside through the bay window in her kitchen. Suddenly, a male and female red cardinal appeared near her bird feeder. It was probably the same pair that she saw just days earlier. The first thing that I noticed is that the male was such a bright red color and was absolutely gorgeous – probably the brightest red cardinal I had ever seen. We were both quite sure they were visitors from heaven – angels that had come to tell us that we were loved.
My mom’s birthday was March 1. On that morning, as she prepared her breakfast, she looked out the window only to see that gorgeous male red cardinal. But this time, he was sitting in the crape myrtle tree next to the house. This was my dad’s favorite tree. The cardinal looked directly at her and didn’t fly away. He just sat in the branches of my dad’s favorite tree and stared at her. It was a moment that she will never forget and is one of the best birthday gifts she has ever received. This was most certainly my dad sending his love from heaven.
Always be on the lookout for these “angels” from heaven. Love is being sent our way all the time, sometimes through the most simple and innocent of ways – we just have to slow down and look for it!
Well, I really don’t want to be involved in politics in any way. However, since the ugly behavior after this historic election has dipped into my religious beliefs (will explain in this blog), and I do like to blog on Christianity, I decided after thoughtful prayer that I must address the hate seen in America today. It affects Christianity because a lot of people who call themselves “Christian” are not acting in a Christian manner. This behavior may instill negative views about Christians, so I feel a need to clarify a few things, even going so far as to call out some of my fellow “Christians”. It’s a bit lengthy but worth the read in my opinion 🙂
Hypocrisy. Jesus warns us over and over again about hypocrisy throughout the gospels:
“You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger and lead it away to give it water?” Luke 13:15
“So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others.” Matthew 6:2
“You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.” Matthew 7:5
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the plate but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.” Matthew 23:25
These are just a few.
So how does this relate to the election? Well, both sides are so quick to throw insults at the other side,but each candidate has their own long list of issues. I recently saw a meme of a woman crying, and it said “I argued with conservatives, they used facts”. Well, I will now present many facts showing that neither side should be throwing insults at anyone.
Let me start by saying that I did not support either Clinton or Trump during this election. I saw serious problems with both candidates. What bothers me most and the reason I decided to write this blog is that the amount of the hypocrisy and hate that is out there. And it is coming from both sides!
Let’s start with a little background on Hillary. Here is a list of issues that have concerned voters:
- Clinton Foundation issues – the pay-to-play scheme between Hillary and the Clinton Foundation has led to serious issues and concerns. There is a strong possibility of an indictment. Although Mrs. Clinton signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that she would not accept money from foreign governments during her years as Secretary of State, the Foundation did accept several million from seven different foreign governments. According to CNN, some e-mails between top Clinton aides were suspicious and added that these e-mails “raise questions about the Clinton Foundation’s influence on the State Department and its relations during her tenure…” In October, 2016, the Wall Street Journal reported that the FBI was collecting information about the Clinton Foundation to determine if there was any evidence of financial crimes.¹
- Whitewater scandal – tax evasion and fraud were found. Vince Foster, the primary legal council for the case, committed suicide which cast a very dark cloud over the Clintons and their involvement.
- E-mail scandal – Hillary’s use of a private e-mail server during her years as Secretary of State has led to a very prolonged investigation. Although she has been cleared as of now, questions still remain.
- Leaked e-mails show that there may have been some behind-the-scenes attempts to get Bernie Sanders out of the picture during the election process.
- Hillary told the story of how she was under sniper fire when she landed in Bosnia; however, the video of her exiting the plane clearly shows this not to be true.
- The Benghazi scandal – this was a very clear a and definite failure on the part of the State Department. She lied about the cause saying it was a result of an anti-Islam video. She was also able to skirt around taking responsibility for the loss of four lives during the attack.
- Bill Clinton’s sexual history – Juanita Broaddick accused Mr. Clinton of raping her in the late 1970s. She denied the rape for many years but recently accused him again. Paula Jones filed a lawsuit against him in 1994 in which she claims he exposed himself to her. During the deposition, Clinton denied having an affair with Monica Lewinsky which we all know now was a lie. The lawsuit ended with an out-of-court settlement. Kathleen Wiley claimed that Clinton had groped her, but her testimony was thrown out because it was determined that she had lied repeatedly.²
Now, here are the issues surrounding Trump:
- Trump Foundation issues – The Foundation gave $25,000 to the Florida Attorney General’s office (Pam Bondi) while she was reviewing fraud allegations against Trump University. Her office didn’t bring any charges against the Trump Foundation, and there is some concern that this may have been bribery. The Foundation used some of its money to settle legal disputes with Trump’s for-profit businesses, and some of the money may have also been used for political purposes during his presidential campaign. In October, they were ordered to cease fundraising for the Foundation because they were violating state law by soliciting donations without prior authorization.³
- Trump has used bankruptcy laws to get out of paying debt, leaving his workers to foot the bill. He also refuses to release his tax returns.
- Trump University – now defunct, the state of New York has filed a $40 million lawsuit stating that false claims were made and that the University defrauded people. Trump was found personally liable for failing to obtain a business license.
- Trump has been married three times and has had multiple affairs.
- Trump’s sexual issues – First of all, Trump himself admitted on a 2005 Howard Stern show that he entered the dressing rooms of beauty pageant contestants while they were undressing. Second – the October 2016 release of the audio clip from Access Hollywood caused a huge uproar when he made multiple inappropriate comments, particularly “grab them by the p***y”. Third, multiple women have accused him of sexual harrassment. Jill Harth filed a lawsuit in 1997 saying that Trump attempted to put his hands between her legs in 1992. She also states that he pushed her against the wall and tried to kiss her. The case was settled out of court. Jessica Leeds claimed that while on a flight (1980s), Trump attempted to put his hand up her skirt and grabbed her breast. In the 1990s, Kristen Anderson claimed he groped her at a Manhattan night club. And there are quite a few more.(4)
OK, so now that we have the background, let’s look at some of the mean, hateful things that are being posted around the internet. First we’ll do the anti-Hillary stuff:
- I’ve seen quite a few people refer to Hillary as narcissistic.
- REALLY?? Trump is the definition of narcissism. Clear hypocrisy.
- Someone was happy that a person was shot at the Azusa polling station in California, saying “At least they are killing CA liberals”.
- This one speaks for itself, but I will say it anyway – look in the mirror. Look at your own candidate!
- I can’t even count the number of times Hillary has been called “crooked”.
- I can agree as we all know she is corrupt, but look above at what Trump has done.
- “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” John 8:7
- “Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgement you make you will be judged…” Matthew 7:1. I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t want to be judged by those measures. If you decide to judge either candidate, be my guest. I would be careful, though, especially when both candidates have such a long history of issues….
- There’s a meme which says “Hi, I’m Chris Hansen with Dateline NBC. Why don’t you take a seat?” There is a picture with Hillary walking in the room.
- We could EASILY put Trump’s picture in place of Hillary’s picture. Clear hypocrisy.
- Another meme – Picture of Hillary and it says “This loser will never be president. Get over it losers.”
- Let’s remember this Bible verse: “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” Matthew 5:5
- Picture of Hillary with the caption, “Satan, why have you forsaken me?”
- Again, look at the list of issues above regarding Donald Trump.
- Again,“Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” John 8:7
- Another meme – “Pro-God, Pro-Country, Pro-Life, Proud to be Pro-Trump, 2016”.
- Pro-God? Jesus preaches kindness and compassion. Where is Trump’s compassion when he makes fun of a disabled person? Where is his kindness when he calls people “weak” or “a disaster” when they don’t agree with him (which, BTW, is also extremely narcissistic)?
Now for the anti-Trump comments:
- I saw a sweatshirt with the following statement: “Trump sucks. If you like Trump, you suck too.”
- REALLY?? Look at Hillary’s list of issues above.
- Many make fun of his hair and the orange-colored makeup on his face.
- All I can say is let’s remain focused on the issues. This is nit-picking and not necessary.
- There is a Wizard of Oz meme saying that Trump “doesn’t have a brain”.
- Again, not necessary. We need to stick to the issues.
- I saw a news report where a Chicago man was beaten and his car was stolen, all because he voted for Trump.
- Awful!!! We as Americans have the right to vote as we wish without the threat of violence.
- There are some people who are carrying around “Kill Trump” signs during the protests.
- Any threat of violence is unacceptable and should never be tolerated.
- I know of someone who was called “racist” for voting for Trump.
- Putting everyone in one big category is just wrong. Yes, there are racists out there, but just because someone voted for Trump doesn’t mean he/she is automatically a racist. Some that voted for him did so because of the Supreme Court as they want more conservative judges to occupy those positions. They are not hateful, racist bigots.
- I read that the CEO of GrubHub told his employees that if they supported Trump, they need to resign.
- This again is unacceptable and just plain wrong. We live in a democracy, and we all have the right to vote as we wish.
Now, to finish out this blog, I want to address how religion ties into all of this.
Neither Clinton nor Trump supporters really have any right to throw insults at the other candidate. Each candidate has baggage, and to finger-point is completely and totally hypocritical on both sides.
I know that some people were told to vote for Trump in order to get conservative judges in the Supreme Court. I do understand this reasoning as I struggled with it as well. It was a very real concern, and that is one reason why I am happy that Trump is now president. But that’s the only reason.
Franklin Graham recently made this statement: “I believe God’s hand intervened Tuesday night to stop the godless, atheistic, progressive agenda from taking control.” This statement does not make sense nor does it support Christianity. Donald Trump is an adulterer, a self-proclaimed greedy man, and someone who has left the small businessman out in the cold by filing bankruptcy even though he has billions. Take a look again at the list above. Does this man really sound like the type of person Jesus calls us to be?? Of course not. Franklin, I would re-think that comment. Wayne Grudem called Trump a “flawed candidate”, but thankfully he stated that he regretted that comment and he changed his opinion, asking for Trump to drop out of the race prior to the election. Sin is sin, and immorality is immorality. You cannot call someone a sinner and then turn around and call someone else “flawed”. Again, that is hypocrisy.
Politifact states that Trump’s statements are verifiably false 76% of the time (DallasNews.com), so we can safely say that Trump lies. Whatever happened to “Thou shalt not lie?” For all those who praised God for the election of Donald Trump, did you conveniently forget all the sins this man has committed? Yes, I do believe in forgiveness, but this man hasn’t repented as far as I can tell. He needs to truly apologize, especially to women (not saying it’s just locker room talk) and to the disabled. According to what is written in the Bible (and that’s all I can go on), I would venture to say that God isn’t happy with either of the candidates. I would bet He isn’t happy with America. Why?? Because none of us can get out of our own way to actually see the truth, and the truth is that we are all hypocrites.
Jesus taught us to be kind. He gave us the Ten Commandments which He expects us to follow. He expects us to love one another. To love our neighbors as ourselves. Christianity is centered around kindness, mercy, forgiveness, empathy, love, and faith. So-called “Christians” who can do nothing more than send out a constant stream of hateful posts, messages, videos, etc. are not practicing true Christianity. I don’t want those who are not Christian to look at us and think “what hypocrites!” Many do, and it’s the result of this kind of behavior. I want these non-Christians to know that true Christianity does not condone this kind of behavior. Jesus NEVER taught us that violence, distasteful comments, hateful memes, gloating over an election win, lying, adultery, etc. was alright. It is NEVER alright. We are to love each other just as God loves us and we are to follow His commands. I am ashamed at the behavior of some of the American citizens right now, especially those who say they are Christian but don’t act it. I think it’s time for people to stand back, look at all the facts, think about what they have done and then re-evaluate their behavior. We need to act like true Christians, not hateful hypocrites.
The Scripture quotations contained herein are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright ©1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. All rights reserved.
Several months ago, my aunt recommended that I read three books by the author Paula D’Arcy that had really impacted her. The Gift of the Red Bird: Story of a Divine Encounter really spoke to me as I recently had what I believed was a divine encounter with some finches (see my previous blog). She described how she was able to feel closer to God by being alone in nature, and this made me think. How could I feel closer to God while living in the city? Where could I go?
I remembered a special place that my friend Sharon had taken me several years ago…a Benedictine monastery. It was so peaceful there, and it seemed like the perfect place to go for meditation and prayer in this busy area. At this particular monastery, there was a labyrinth. Sharon told me a little bit about the background of a labyrinth as I knew nothing about it. Basically, it is a place to go to spend some quiet time with God away from all the hustle and bustle of the day and to get clarity for any problems through prayer and meditation.
A labyrinth is a type of maze that only has a single track, so you can’t get lost in it. It has been around for thousands of years and is present in many churches around the world. The belief is that if you walk the labyrinth, you will go through three stages:
1. Purgation – you are released from all the worries of the world while walking through the winding paths
2. Illumination – a divine revelation as a result of meditation and prayer. This occurs at the center
3. Union – reflection on what you have learned as you make your way out of the labyrinth.
Well, I thought about the labyrinth while reading Paula’s book, but I didn’t go immediately as life got in the way. I was so busy writing and working on my house that I just couldn’t find the time. Then, one night, I started to read the next book by Paula D’Arcy – Seeking With All My Heart: Encountering God’s Presence Today. Amazingly, early in the book she had an entire chapter on the labyrinth! I knew at that moment that I had to make the time to visit the Benedictine Monastery.
Several days ago, I finally went and spent quite a bit of time by myself in that quiet place. No one else was around. There were many things on my mind at the time, but mostly I thought about how my life had changed since my divorce. Five years ago, I had this life of lab work, dance, and a twenty-year marriage. Now, all of that had been taken from me. Why did that happen? I had been plagued by that thought over the years.
As I started to walk the labyrinth, the first thing that I noticed was that my mind quieted. I felt God telling me to be quiet and just listen. Just listen to the birds and crickets. Just feel the slight breeze blowing on my face. Just be still and listen.
As I walked, I began to think about how the labyrinth mirrors life. We walk straight ahead in one direction, and then suddenly we are forced to turn in the opposite direction, just like what happened to me five years ago. Do the curves in the labyrinth represent our difficult/challenging times? Was this God telling me that sometimes the path we walked previously is no longer to our benefit? Is there something on that path that could hurt us, so He is taking us in a different direction?
“We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28
As I continued to walk, I noticed that some of the bends in the labyrinth were hard to maneuver without falling a little off the path. I noticed that my momentum brought me one direction while the path directed me another way. This made me think about easy it is to lose our way in difficult times. It is easy to get discouraged, depressed, or fall into a sinful life when challenges arise. I was intrigued.
The next thing I noticed is that the stones around the curves are very small in relation to the stones in the straight areas. This made me think about how, in difficult times, we have to take “baby steps” to get through it. For example, during the divorce, my strength was sapped and I just couldn’t do as much as I did when I was married. We talked at length about this exact thing in my divorce support group. We were told that some days, we would find it hard to even get out of bed. For me, these small stones so accurately depicted what happens to us, physically and mentally, during difficult times. We have to be patient with ourselves and take “baby steps” until we eventually get back to our normal lives (the larger stones).
Other ideas came to me as I continued on the journey. Some areas of the labyrinth have longer areas without bends while other areas are shorter. This also mirrors life as some times we will have longer periods of peace and stability while at other times, it comes in short spurts. Also, some of the bends are a complete 180 degrees (lots of change) while other bends are 90 degrees (some small change). Finally, I realized that some of the bends could actually represent good times that are also stressful (marriage, a move, etc).
But the biggest lesson I learned that day is when I walked into the center of the labyrinth. I realized that no matter what we go through, if we stay on the path to God, it will lead us to salvation. The little bends in that labyrinth cannot even be compared to the beauty of walking into the center of the labyrinth. I realized that if I stay on that path, even through the difficult times, it will ultimately lead me to God. Straying off the path into a sinful life is not an option. I just have to trust in Him, keep my eyes on Him, and walk through that narrow door.
“But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” Matthew 10:22
When I pray, I always ask God to speak to me through His Word. When I open the Bible, I assume that God has me open it to whatever I am supposed to read that day. I have always done this, and I usually read something that really speaks to me that day. This is just the way I do it, and it works for me.
Today as I prayed, I felt like God was asking me to be silent. To just sit in His presence and listen to His still small voice. I have read some books recently which taught me this concept, and today, I felt like I just needed to listen to Him. Well, something came to my mind almost immediately. This had been in the back of my mind for a long time, but today, I felt as if God wanted me to delve in and understand this event in my life on a deeper level.
In 2011, just months before I found out that my husband had been having an affair, I began to have dreams that I was divorced. If you have read any of my past blogs, you will know that I had occasions of premonitions through dreams. My dad had this happen to him too – he dreamed that his brother was killed in a car accident, and a week later, it actually happened.
The first time I dreamed I was divorced, I just blew it off. I woke up thinking how ridiculous the dream was as I had no intention of ever getting divorced. When the second dream happened, I was a little bothered and wondered why in the world I would dream about something so crazy. When it happened a third time, I woke up confused and worried. I told my husband about the dream, and I asked him point-blank if he was going to divorce me. Although he denied that he would ever divorce me, his response was anything but convincing.
If that isn’t strange enough, around that same time, another amazing thing happened (although I didn’t understand it at the time). On at least three occasions while falling asleep, I audibly heard a voice say “Maria!” I opened my eyes, sure someone was calling my name, but no one was there. My husband was asleep next to me, and he didn’t move at all so I thought I had dreamed it. When it happened again, I thought that maybe it was an angel or even God trying to say something to me. Each time, I heard “Maria!”, clear as day, and when I opened my eyes, no one was there. My husband never moved, so clearly, he never heard it.
As I thought about these events this morning, I wondered if this was some kind of warning about what was going to happen to me later in 2011 when I found out about the affair. Was that God’s voice speaking to me?
I opened my Bible to Isaiah 41:
“Listen to me in silence…” Isaiah 41:1
This was interesting enough. But it went on:
“Do not fear for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand. Yes, all who are incensed against you shall be ashamed and disgraced….For I, the Lord your God hold your right hand. It is I who say to you, “Do not fear. I will help you.” Isaiah 41: 10-13
When I look back on these events, I now know that God was right there. I believe He was telling me that He was watching everything, and he knew every detail of the affair even when I had no idea what was happening. I believe this was His way of telling me that He never left my side during that time, and that even though I was going to be divorced, He would bring me through it. Even though I was about to go through hell and be yanked out of the life I knew, He would ensure that I would get through it and would end up in a much better place.
Always know that God sees EVERYTHING. He sees everything that is done in secret. He knows every insult, every lie, every betrayal….everything. Nothing can be hidden from God. On the other hand, He feels every single pain of betrayal. He sees every teardrop, feels every hurt, and goes through all the suffering with us. Remember – God was betrayed by Judas. He knows full well the pain of betrayal of someone who He believed loved Him.
He will always be with you, even when you think He isn’t there. God never leaves our side…EVER! As it is written in Isaiah 41:13, “Do not fear. I will help you.”
If you have read any of my previous blog posts, you know that I notice signs from God in everyday life.
Last Wednesday, a line of very strong thunderstorms came through this area. A line of severe weather began to develop around 4:00, and I watched as this line grew closer and closer to my neighborhood. However, as I watched, I began to notice that the really bad storms were just north and south of where I lived. Severe thunderstorm warnings were issued to my north, and tornado warnings were issued to the south.
At around 5:30 or so, it began to thunder outside of my home, but the storm was small and only lasted about 15 minutes. I was so thankful that this area had dodged the worst of the storm; however, I later heard of some deaths associated with this line of storms due to tornadoes. Although I was happy this area dodged the worst of it, I was deeply saddened by the loss of life.
A few hours later, I saw reports of rainbows in the area. Not only was it a rainbow…it was a beautiful double rainbow! I remembered the time when I saw a rainbow during one of the worst times in my life (see previous blog post, “God’s Rainbow”). When I saw the picture of the double rainbow, I immediately felt a sense of peace as I knew God was sending another sign of His love.
That night, as I climbed into bed, I noticed that my rosary was once again glowing. Even though this rosary glows in the dark, I rarely notice it for some reason (see previous blog post, “A Christmas Miracle”). On this night, I did notice it, and it just happened to be the same day that the double rainbow appeared in the sky. I felt like God had His arms wrapped around me. I felt so loved and protected.
The next morning as I prepared my breakfast, I couldn’t stop smiling as I remembered what had happened the previous night. I happened to look over toward my window, and I noticed my peace lily. This lily was from my dad’s funeral in March, 2014. The poor thing almost died, and I almost threw it out, but I really wanted this plant to live since it reminded me of my dad. I kept it and nurtured it, and it eventually began to put up new leaves. However, it never bloomed. On this particular morning, I was stunned to notice that it was getting ready to bloom. I walked over to it and noticed that two white blooms were getting ready to open. I couldn’t believe it!
In Christianity, the peace lily is associated with the Virgin Mary, Easter, and Christ’s resurrection. It indicates a season of rebirth and is a popular funeral plant as it symbolizes the rebirth of the soul of the departed. This beautiful plant is associated with hope, peace, purity, prosperity, and innocence.
The timing of the blooms are amazing to me. First of all, it occurred the morning after I noticed the glowing rosary and the appearance of the double rainbow. Second, it occurred during the season of Lent, just a month before Easter. Third, this plant, which reminds me of my dad, is now blooming just one month away from the date of my dad’s death. Fourth, the lily is my dad’s favorite flower. In fact, we had lilies engraved on the headstone for this reason.
What better gifts can a person get for Easter? Candy? Easter eggs? An Easter basket? Nope, this is definitely the best gift a person can get, and I thank God with all my heart for sending me these wonderful signs from heaven.
Be sure to stop and look around this Easter season…you may be missing messages of love and encouragement from God. He sends them all the time 🙂
There have been two suicides that I have had to deal with in my life. One was a family member, and the other was a friend. In both situation, the stresses of life were just too much for them, and they clearly felt like there was no other way out.
All of us have had difficult events in our lives. But have you ever felt like your life was completely falling apart? Have you ever been in a situation where you felt like there was no way out?
I’ve been there. Let me give you a little background information about me. I danced for over twenty years. I started dancing at the age of four when my mom put me in ballet classes. In my teenage years, I became the captain of my high school flag team and began to take jazz classes. Eventually I moved onto modern, pointe, and even ballroom dancing while I was in college. After college, I tried ice skating and tap. Needless to say, I absolutely loved to dance!
In high school, I really became interested in science and performed quite well in science fairs. This interest propelled me into getting a bachelor’s degree in Microbiology, and eventually I ended up working in the field of genetics for about twenty years. I loved this work even though most people don’t understand why…lol…as I sat behind a microscope for eight hours of the day. The passion for this work was just something I was born with, I guess!
I met my husband when I was 25, and we married a year later. I thought I had found the love of my life. We lived in three different states – South Carolina, Virginia, and Texas – and I worked in the laboratory in all three states, sometimes teaching aerobic classes after work. We had a beautiful home and plenty of great friends. I thought my life was perfect…until…
It all began when I woke up one morning and my right leg gave out. I had a herniated disc in my lower back, and a few months later, I had my first spinal fusion. During the surgery, the doctor discovered that my back was actually broken. About five months later, we learned that two of the screws broke, and the fusion had failed. A few months later, a second spinal fusion was performed. This second surgery also failed. I began to worry that I would never be able to dance again. Also, I had to leave my job due to these ongoing issues with my back. So, at this point, I had lost my favorite hobby, and I had lost the ability to work.
Around this same time, my dad was diagnosed with lymphoma. He began chemotherapy about a month later but had a very bad reaction to it and ended up in the hospital for about 9 weeks. During that time, he almost went into respiratory arrest due to an infection in his lungs. Fortunately, he was able to recover and eventually went into remission.
While preparing for my third surgery, an imaging test revealed that I had a brain aneurysm. I was shocked and frustrated at that point. Two days later, I woke up and realized that the right side of my face was paralyzed. Terrified that I had a stroke as a result of the aneurysm, I rushed to the hospital along with my husband and parents. Luckily, I only had Bell’s Palsy, and it cleared up within a couple of months. But the experience was awful!
About a month later, I underwent surgery for the brain aneurysm. The doctor placed a coil and stent in the affected blood vessel, and thankfully, it has remained stable to this day. However, I had to take a blood thinner for several months to make sure a deadly blood clot didn’t form near the aneurysm. This meant that I couldn’t have back surgery until I was taken off the blood thinner. Eventually, I was able to plan for the third back surgery.
One month before the surgery, I found out that my husband had been having an affair. We separated almost immediately. The next few weeks were the worst of my life as I had to obtain an attorney, fill out mounds of paperwork, make sure evidence of the affair was secured, have pre-surgery testing while crying and venting to the nurse (who was incredibly supportive, btw), and make sure I was prepared for surgery (food, transportation, etc). During this month, I endured many phone calls from my husband who wanted to sell the house prior to my surgery, believe it or not! Thankfully, I had an excellent attorney who squashed that idea rather quickly.
This was definitely the lowest point of my life. I had lost my favorite hobby, my career, and my husband. I felt like there was no way out and that my life was over. I can’t even describe the feelings of anger and desperation that I felt. But, I chose to turn to God.
After recovering from my third spinal fusion, I made plans to move from my house into a smaller home. The day of the move was long and tedious, and I was exhausted when the movers left at around 11 p.m. The next morning, I woke up to a house full of boxes, but before I could start the unpacking process, I had to return to my former home for its final cleaning. On my way there, I received a phone call from my mom saying that my dad was in bad shape. He passed away later that day. Thankfully, a close friend stepped up and offered to help me. She and her family cleaned my old home and began to unpack boxes for me while I was with my mom planning my dad’s funeral. Two weeks later, my divorce was finalized. So…in a period of about three weeks, I had a major move, a death, and the finalization of my divorce.
In my previous blogs, I describe numerous times when God sent me signs during this deep valley in my life…from dreams to rainbows. I hung onto Him and His Word for dear life, and He pulled me through. Through prayer and counseling, I have recovered and am living a peaceful life. I now write books as much as my back will allow me to do so, and I have the most incredibly supportive friends and family around me. I enjoy watching dance shows and listening to old music as it brings back so many great memories. My life has definitely changed, but I’ve never been happier. I not only survived, but I am a much better and incredibly stronger person than I ever was before. I am here to tell others that suicide and/or giving up should never be an option. God can pull you through anything…and I mean anything!
I thought about writing this blog after I read a passage in Psalms yesterday. This particular passage really touched my heart, and I want to share it with you today 🙂 When times are tough, really tough, reach out to God. Cry out to Him and NEVER GIVE UP!
“In my distress I called upon the Lord; to my God I cried for help. From his temple He heard my voice, and my cry to Him reached His ears…He reached down from on high, He took me; He drew me out of mighty waters. He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from those who hated me; for they were too mighty for me. They confronted me in the day of my calamity; but the Lord was my support. He brought me out into a broad place; He delivered me, because He delighted in me.” Psalms 6, 16-19
Happy New Year to all of my blog followers and readers! I hope 2015 brought you many blessings and joy, and I hope 2016 will be even better.
I was so blessed to have a wonderful holiday season this year. I was able to spend time with my family, and I was also able to reconnect with friends that I haven’t seen in a while. We enjoyed wonderful meals, beautiful Christmas lights, and I even rode a camel with a good friend at a Christmas festival! We had an awesome time.
To top off all this fun, I received an amazing gift from God that I will never forget. My mom spent the night at my house on Christmas Eve, and we planned to go to the 10:30 mass at the local Catholic Church. Both of us were exhausted as we had quite a busy day on Christmas Eve, so we ended up going to sleep at around 9:30 or so. I didn’t think I needed to set my alarm as I was sure I would wake up in plenty of time to get to church.
Well, I did wake up, but it was about 5:30 a.m. That was just too early for me…lol! So, after making a trip to the bathroom, I came back to my room, turned on the light, set my alarm for 7:00, turned the light off, and climbed back into bed.
Before I go any further, I should explain a little bit about my background. My parents are Catholic, and I was raised Catholic. I even attended a Catholic grade school. Even though I don’t always attend a Catholic church (sometimes I go to a non-denominational church), I have always maintained a deep respect for Catholic faith as this has been a huge part of my life. However, I am not one who believes that a particular Christian denomination is any better than any other one (see my previous blog, “I Will Call Them My People Who Are Not My People”).
Even so, I have been given many different Catholic statues, books, rosaries, etc. over the years, and they are quite special to me. I have several rosaries hanging on the headboard of my bed, and I still pray the rosary from time to time.
On this morning after I set the alarm and turned off the light, I happened to notice that a rosary was glowing! I was stunned! Later I realized that this rosary glowed in the dark. But it was still amazing to me as I have had this particular rosary for many years, and I never saw it glow, or even realized that it glowed…until Christmas morning, 2015. What a wonderful gift from God on the day of His birth!
Smiling and at peace, I fell back to sleep. I had a dream that I was attending a church service at Nazareth Academy and College in Bardstown, Kentucky. My mom attended school at Nazareth, and I even wrote a book which includes letters that she wrote during the six years that she attended this school. In my dream, I saw my aunt Mary, my mom’s sister, and we visited for a while. Mary lives very close to Nazareth and spends quite a bit of time there.
When I woke up, I told my mom about my dream and about the rosary, and we both were amazed. We couldn’t believe that this had happened on Christmas Day.
If this wasn’t enough of a gift from God, we still received more. During the mass, the priest ended his sermon with the prayer “Hail and Blessed”. I had never heard this specific prayer before, but as I listened, my mom reached out to me and smiled. She whispered that this was a prayer that was said at Nazareth. She HAD NOT heard this prayer since her days at Nazareth…over fifty years ago!
God is simply amazing. As I have said before, miracles happen every day. For all three of these events to happen on Christmas Day is so wonderful…words just can’t express my happiness and joy. Make this New Year the best ever by giving your heart and soul to Jesus Christ!
Hail and Blessed
Hail and blessed be the hour and moment In which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in the piercing cold. In that hour vouchsafe, I beseech Thee, O my God, to hear my prayer and grant my desires, through the merits of Our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of His blessed Mother. Amen.
I had such a wonderful dream last night. I was singing and dancing in The Sound of Music!
I danced for about twenty-five years. I started out in ballet when I was four years old. My parents told me that I moved to the beat the minute I could stand up. I remember the stories of how I would bounce to the music while holding onto the edge of the couch or table.
I continued to dance through the years, moving from ballet to jazz, modern, ballroom, tap, and even a little bit of ice skating. I also was heavily involved in choreography during my college years. Dancing and music are truly a part of my soul. Even after I started working, I would use headphones during the day as I looked through the microscope. It always seemed to put a smile on my face and even increased my productivity…all just from listening to my favorite music.
During a bible study several years ago, we were all asked to bring something that we owned which had deep meaning for us. I brought my toe shoes from ballet class. They were all torn up as they had been worn quite a bit. I explained to the other members of the study that these shoes represented one of the happiest times in my life…a time I danced almost every day.
I can no longer dance like I used to in the past. I have had three back surgeries, and I am very limited on what I can do now physically. The one thing that I miss more than anything is my ability to dance. I have thought about helping out in a dance studio…maybe behind the desk signing people into class or something like that. But this still can never take the place of actually being able to dance.
I told members of that bible study that my idea of heaven is to be able to dance again. I absolutely love the ocean…it has always relaxed me. I dream of the day that I can dance without any restriction or pain next to a heavenly ocean. I also dream of ice skating to the most beautiful music that anyone has ever heard. I dream of being able to do things that I was unable to do here on earth because I just wasn’t strong enough or flexible enough to do them…50 pirouettes without stopping, 50 fouettes without messing up, lifting my leg super high in a beautiful arabesque, being able to do the splits…all done perfectly and with no effort…just dancing, smiling, and praising God. Of course, all of my cats and beloved family and friends who have already passed would be there, and we would all be happy and smiling. All the angels would be rejoicing and singing. That is my idea of heaven.
Have you ever asked yourself what your idea of heaven is? What is your special something in life that has always brought you joy? Where can you go to find the most peace in this difficult world? Take some time today and look deep into your soul. Take time to think about what heaven will be like for you, and then whenever you get frustrated or stressed, go to that place. Remember, that is what is waiting for you if you stay in the Word and stay close to Jesus…happiness beyond all human understanding!
Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!