Sunday, July 28, 2013

My Religious Background OR My Conversion Story

I made it!  7 Posts in 7 Days Challenge complete!

I was raised protestant by a single mother who had been divorced from the time I was very young, maybe around three years old.  During my younger years we attended a Nazarene church.  We attended church every Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and also Wednesday evening faithfully every week. Basically our whole lives revolved around it.  Our friends were from church.  Our families participated in all the activities at church.  Our parents were ushers and Sunday school teachers; they helped out in the office, and ran Vacation Bible School. They hosted ‘Harvest’ parties so we had an alternative to Halloween. We grew up waiting for the day we turned thirteen so that we could join the youth group and join the bible quiz team. We helped out at Sunday school when we were old enough and we participated in children’s church. Our social activities were what ever was going on at church. That is because we were taught that things like movies, music, and dances were all sinful. Even if the movie or music was morally good, the money we paid for it could go to make others that were not. We led fairly sheltered lives, except some of us attended public schools. I had a solid faith formation in the Nazarene church. I knew it was important and that God loved me.

About the time I was in my early teens, my mother had remarried to a Southern Baptist man. So we began going to a Southern Baptist church. My step dad smoked cigarettes and even drank a beer after work each night.  It took a while for me and my sister to understand that those things were not sinful, in that context, as I had been taught for many years. We continued to attend the Southern Baptist church regularly. My family was still very involved in the activities of the church, youth group, Sunday school, usher, vacation bible school. For reasons I won’t go into, my family returned to the Nazarene church before I had finished high school.  At this time in my life, I had become more involved in school activities and my life did not revolve around church as much as it once had. By the time I went off to college, I wasn’t really attending church much, but I still always knew that faith was important. While at college, I found a local church that I attended occasionally.  They were really nice and tried to focus activities for the college students, but I only ended up staying at that college for one semester.  When I moved back home, my parents were attending a different Baptist church.  I rarely went with them and wasn’t living my life the way I should have been.

Over the next couple of years I met my husband and we got married in the Baptist church my parents were attending at the time. We actually attended fairly regularly before moving to upstate New York. Once we got here, we did not attend any church. I knew my husband was raised Catholic but neither he or his family were attending Mass and hadn’t been for quite some time. There were stories they told and pictures they had of weddings in church and of an old priest that they adored.  But I didn’t have any feel for what made the Catholic Church important to them or that anything they believed was different than what I had grown up with. They didn’t have anything good to say about the priest that was here at the time and I didn’t know any better to question it.  After all, I had grown up in churches that when they didn’t like their pastor any more, they got a new one. But as our daughter started to get older, I knew she needed to have some kind of exposure to church. Even though we hadn’t attended for some time, I still knew the value of my faith. I knew it was important for me to pass that on to my children. So I began my search for a church to attend.  I attended one service at a local Presbyterian church, and then decided I should check out the Catholic Church since that is what my husband’s family professed to be.  I had made my decision and went with my bible in hand to see what it was like. Obviously, I didn’t know the responses and felt a little lost, but I was intrigued. I listened intently and once I discovered the missalette, it helped.  I could see that the reading were directly from the bible.  I of course knew the Lord’s Prayer, but was curious about why there was an added piece in the middle of the end of it. The kneeling was very reverent and respectful to me, even though I didn’t understand the True Presence yet. The sign of the cross was a little awkward at first. I had seen other people do it, but I really didn’t get that it was a blessing.  All I had ever really thought about it was that it was a sign that the Catholics did to show they were Catholic. But through God’s grace, I was drawn in to the Mass.  I kept going and finally decided I would find out about religious education for my daughter. I was lucky enough that the priest at the time was very caring and willing to offer me any support I asked for.  He was teaching a confirmation class at the same time that my daughters First Communion class was being taught.  He invited me to join them until there was a RCIA class ready to start, which I did.  Of course sitting in a class full of high school kids raised in the Catholic Church was a little uncomfortable but I sat back and listened and soaked up all I could.  It wasn’t too long before the RCIA class started.  In the meantime, I had been hired as the new parish bookkeeper and secretary.  A job I knew God had called me to, without a doubt.

It wasn’t much of a stretch for me to accept the teachings of the Catholic Church. At that time, I could see enough similarities between it and the faith I had grown up with. I came to understand that the Catholic Church was the Church handed on through Peter and the disciples. That it had been the Church in existence since Jesus’ time. And that the protestant religions were break offs from the Catholic Church. History truly is amazing. I had always had reverence for Mary, so no harm there. The little bit tougher teachings were confession to a priest and the True Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. My faith had been strong enough all my life that if I truly believed that the Catholic Church was handed down by Jesus, then I had to have faith that these teachings were true. That was enough for me, I went to confession and although I didn’t feel the grace of the sacrament, I knew I was doing the right thing. I became a full member of the Roman Catholic Church at the Easter vigil in 2001.Little did I know at the time, but I had so much more to learn.

To be continued...

**edit - Amanda at Worthy of Agape is hosting a "conversion story" link-up, since I just recently posted this, I am going to add it to her link-up.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

St. Brigid's Church

Day 6 blog post of the 7 Posts in 7 Days Challenge.

On our free day during Catholic Heart Workcamp, we visited Lexington, MA.  The town/site of the first shots fired during the Revolutionary War. 

I had no idea what discovery was in store for me as we wondered around the town and took in the historical sites. 

As we came upon one of the Catholic Churches in town, the words on the sign jumped out at me.  Church of St. Brigid. I almost ran to it, after all, my patron saint that I choose twelve years ago at my confirmation was St. Brigid.  It was a really neat unexpected surprise that I am thankful for.

I may tell the story here someday about why I choose St. Brigid. Finding her was an emotional journey that involves events that happened in my life, but just know she means a lot to me.


Friday, July 26, 2013

{7QT} Camping + A Couple Favorites

Day 5 of the 7 Posts in 7 Days Challenge by Jen who also hosts every Friday's Seven Quick Takes.  So I'm cheating just a little bit.  One blog post, some pics, and a couple favorites will round out my seven.
7 quick takes sm1 Your 7 Quick Takes Toolkit!
1. My husband and son went camping last Monday.  That's right, pretty much just Monday.  It was an impromptu trip, supposed to be later in the week, but the weather forecast scared them into going early.  So Sunday evening the packing began, including pulling the kayaks out of the shed to 'de-bee's nest' them. Then Monday morning they were off. They couldn't get a spot on the lake that they wanted (free camping) so ended up at another lake they like to kayak on.  Too bad there were a lot of boats on it, so Hunter was the only one that got to kayak, close to the shore.  The neighbors were noise with barking dogs. And they just weren't feeling it. So early Tuesday morning they packed up and came home.  After all, they decided they could make bacon and eggs just as easily at home.  Oh well, it was good father/son bonding time spent and that can't be bad.
Here is some of the proof:
Hunter and their Campsite

Isn't he cute?

The view sure was pretty though.
Just chillin'
6. This week I was trying to figure out 5 favorites so that I could link up with Moxie Wife Camp Patton guest hosting this week.  And I guess I just don't change things up enough to get some new favorites. But what I did discover this week were Lemon Twist Oreo's.  ohmygoodness Yummo!!!  They're limited edition, but if you can find them, you must try them.
7. And I was able to come up with a second favorite thing this week.  And that is a new blog I came across. So go check out Haley at  She's just the cutest little mommy and funny and insightful. I'm so glad I came across her blog.
See you all tomorrow for Day 6. :) 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Theme Thursday: Askew

Day 4 of 7 Posts in 7 Days

So, I really got next to nothin' so I thought I would use Cari Donaldson's Theme Thursday as a filler.

Anyway, my askew picture is going to be of me.  During the adult skit at CHWC, this was taken and pretty much fits the bill.

me, askew :)
That's it for today...see ya tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Reflecting on my week at Catholic Heart Workcamp

Day 3 of the 7 Posts in 7 Days Challenge

Well another amazing week has come and gone.  We had the opportunity to bring several youth with us this year that had never been to Catholic Heart before.  It is always a joy for me to see them grow over the six short days that we have at camp. 

They start out a little nervous about the unknown and a little hesitant about having to work with a group of people they have never met before. As the week progresses, they come out of their shells, they smile and laugh at inside jokes with kids from their work teams, and they shine with joy and praise as they join in the songs and dances during praise and worship time.

And then there is the straight out shock and surprise that all of us adults get when we see their reaction to adoration. They are reverent and lost in prayer in Christ’s presence, many of them long after they are allowed to leave.  We are further shown their devotion to their faith as the line for confession continues through the allotted time and then more time for confessions has to be set up for the next day. 

Part of the last night is reserved for the residents that have been helped all week to come and express what the work that has been done for them has meant to them.  It is such a powerful testimony for the kids to see how much it really does mean to give just a little of themselves for another. 

The funniest thing happened this year at the portion of the program where the residents get to speak.  The first lady got up to say thank you for the hard work her team had done and how she had the very best group of kids at her house.  As she finished, another lady who had been helped got up and said we would probably not like to see two little old ladies fighting but she was up to it because her group of kids was the very best.  Everyone laughed as she finished talking about how grateful she was for the work that had been done for her.  The next lady got up and promptly called each of the other two ladies by name and said she would have to jump in the fight because she had the best group at her house.  It was hilarious, and maybe you had to be there, but love and gratitude was lying across the auditorium like a ton of bricks.

As the final day of work, then praise and worship winds down, we all get ready to pack up and head out the next morning. We leave very different people than who we arrived as having given of ourselves, having shared in prayer and worship, and having been filled with God’s grace. 

The kids leave filled with feelings of sadness because they don’t want to go home just yet; but they also leave with lots of new social network friends.

Because the group that we had this year, very few of them knew each other before the trip, now I believe they would consider each other as good friends.  New connections in Christ are an amazing thing for young people to have.  It’s so good for them to know that they are not alone in their beliefs and values.  And it is so good for them to see that they can make a huge difference in someone’s life.
My prayer for them is that they remain close to God in their personal lives and that they always remember to “Be Seen” in Christ.

 Me, sweaty and dirty working on the walkway.
Final group shot before our trip home.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Day 2 of the 7 Day Challenge

This wasn't going to be my post for today, but since I don't have six more prepared I'll go with this today and leave 'your originally scheduled' blog post for tomorrow.

So...on the way home from work today I hit a deer!  Yes, it happens around here all too often. But if you have to hit a deer, I would recommend the way I did it.  I just barely caught the tail end of it.  Of course, I jumped on the brake, but I knew it was too late, and I'm so glad the deer was going so fast.  It could have been a lot worse.  So the sound of crunching plastic, deer is gone, and I pull over as I watch the van behind me slow down for the second deer crossing after the first. 

I had no idea what to expect when I got out to look at the damage, and thank goodness, I really had to look for it.  The bumper was barely popped out on the side and just a little deer hair stuck to it.  So here it is (popped back in):
God was watching over me!
Then there is something I wanted to set straight. (Probably not necessary, but I want to just the same). (And it made me laugh, so it's good to share.) :)
Following my blog post yesterday, I put the link to it on Facebook and Twitter.  Later in the evening, I received a tweet from a priest I know.  Here's how the conversation went:
I'm sure he was very intrigued when he saw the same castle that he had been to on my blog. I am so proud to be able to share it and grateful that he is ok with it.
So to set the record straight...the photo of the castle above was taken by Fr. Chris Looby on his last trip to Ireland.  Thanks Fr. Chris!
One more thing to bring this impromptu post to a close; I ask for prayers for a friend who is 11 weeks pregnant. She has had some major health issues in her life and currently has an issue that shouldn't affect the baby, but none the less, please pray for her health and the health of her sweet baby during the pregnancy and birth.  Many thanks!
See you tomorrow!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Time to Leave the Nest Day OR Nature vs. Nurture

Linking up with Jen and all for the 7 Posts in 7 Days Challenge. (And for me, it will be a challenge, except I have a couple draft posts prepared, I just need to stay ahead of myself)

On our back deck, there is a bird nest in the rafters. It’s been there for two years now. On Tuesday, apparently the mama bird decided it was time for them to enter the world on their own and learn how to fly.  When I noticed them, there were two birds left in the nest and there were three more on the deck. Anyway, the dog was going crazy because she wanted to play with them.  As the evening went on, another one of the birds in the nest must have been pushed out. I tried to watch them but the mama and papa birds were going crazy because they could see me and the dog through the glass patio doors. When we went to bed on Tuesday night, four baby birds set a various places on our deck and one baby bird was left in the nest.

Wednesday morning, before I left for work, I didn’t see any of the baby birds on the deck, and the one was still left in the nest.  By the time I got home, two of the baby birds were back on the deck nestled together close to the house. And another was sitting on the track of the sliding glass doors.  Of course the dog was going crazy, she would have scratched through the glass if possible. I start getting concerned for the one baby bird left in the nest.  However, I could tell the mama and papa birds were still around.  I kept thinking should I help the last one out and set him gently on the deck? Or just let nature take its course.  I knew if I touched him he would probably be abandoned by mama and papa, but worried that he wasn’t going to get fed anyway.  I did nothing.

Thursday morning, I couldn’t find any of the other four baby birds, and the one in nest was still in the nest. When I got home, there were two of the original four baby birds on the deck again.  They were closer to the edge and were cuddled together.  Then I noticed that the mama and papa birds were feeding them, but they were also feeding the baby left in the nest.  At that point I started to relax a little about the poor baby left; I knew the parents were still feeding him.
Friday morning, there were no babies on the deck and I wasn’t sure if the nest baby was still there. As I watched Friday evening, I came to the conclusion that the baby bird left in the nest was finally gone.  The parents had left him there until he was ready.  Nature surely knows best.