Over the past two months, I have been sharing my personal journey back to the practice of my faith and full communion with the Catholic Church. How I lost my faith in God, and how through God’s grace and loving care I was able to repair my relationship with God our Father and experience the loving care he has for me in my life.
Please join me, you may want to get a cup of coffee first …
I took an extended break from blogging during the Christmas season, but now I am back with part 6.
In order to accept God’s grace, I must be open and willing to accept this gift of grace. This gift cannot be understood by the human heart, it must be understood with the eyes of faith. I had to let go of my idea of what my family would look like. I started reading Scripture and the Catechism of the Catholic Church especially its advice to infertile couples. Like Mary, I pondered these words in my heart and prayed that God would show me the way.
As I read I learned that the disciples were not perfect people either. They too had fallen short of the glory of God. Even though they had give up everything and followed Christ, they still struggled as I was struggling. A great example of this is Peter.
Here is Peter in the Gospel of John 6: 66-69:
“Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave? Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom we shall go? You have the words of eternal life.”
Yet, even Peter let Jesus down in his time of need.
“And they said to Peter, ‘You are not one of his disciples, are you?’ He denied it and said, ‘I am not.’ One of the slaves of the high priest, a relative of the one whose ear Peter had cut off, said, ‘didn’t I see you in the garden with him?’ Again Peter denied it. And immediately the cock crowed.” John 19: 25-27
However, on Pentecost, Peter along with the other apostles and the Virgin Mary received the Holy Spirit from then on there was no fear, only faith and the Spirit and grace of God.
And so the Holy Spirit came to me. I woke up in the middle of the night full of despair, such darkness surrounded me, and it scared me. I started repeating this simple prayer, Come Holy Spirit, come.
Soon, I felt the warm embrace of the Holy Spirit around me, and within me. I was at peace and I knew what God was calling me to do.
That night began a long, arborous journey of adoption. This was my first step in “letting go, and letting God”. After two years of waiting, my husband and I traveled to China to adopt a ten month old baby girl who is now our oldest daughter, Katherine.
On my 44th birthday, the Holy Spirit spoke again, as we received a call from my father-in-law, asking us to consider the adoption of our great niece. At the time, due to circumstances I cannot fully discuss on this blog, Bumblebee, then 17 months, was in the custody of my in-laws who were in their 70s. My MIL’s health was failing. Her cancer, which had been in remission for five years, had returned.
My husband and I said yes, we would adopt again. This decision led us to a 15 month struggle to domestically adopt our youngest daughter through a family member open adoption. At the same time, my MIL was losing her battle with cancer, growing weaker by the day. In December of 2009, she died, however the baby’s adoption still was not finalized. In both cases, the strength I was given to go through that time in my life did not come from me. The strength could only come from the grace of God.
When the second adoption was finalized in March of 2010, my husband and I took another leap of faith. On April 30, 2010 I resigned from my corporate job to stay home with my children. It was a huge financial risk. However, it was what I felt it was what God was calling me to do. I had to place my trust in Him.
The past two years have been proof I made the right decision for our family. Every time we have had a need, God has provided for us in amazing and unconventional ways. One time, I dropped my cell phone in the toilet, and the replacement fee was $40. The next day I found $40 lying on the ground in the library parking lot. Recently, we found out Bumblebee needed eye glasses, and we had no vision insurance. That same week at church, a friend (who did not know about our plight) asked if I would be able to care for her children after school and help them with their homework. Another friend asked if I would be interested in cleaning her house on a regular basis. Both of these part-time jobs have allowed us to buy the health insurance we need for the welfare of our family. God truly does answer prayers. I know we are in the palm of God’s hand, and he is watching out for us.
When I stopped working, I was invited to attend a Mom’s prayer group through my parish. This group has been a God-sent to me. It has taught me so much about the Bible. It has strengthen my faith and given me the support I need as I have made the transition from corporate America to stay at home Mom. This year we are reading the Acts of the Apostles along the corresponding Letters of St. Paul.
Recently, we read a passage from the first letter of Thessalonians on how to live our lives:
“Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophetic utterances. Test everything; retain what is good. Refrain from every kind of evil.” 1 Thel. 5:16-22
And just this week, we read from the Catechism about the mystery of suffering:
“Faith in God the Father Almighty can be put to the test by the experience of evil and suffering. God can sometimes seem to be absent and incapable of stopping evil. But in the most mysterious way God the Father has revealed his Almighty power in the voluntary humiliation and Resurrection of His Son, by which he conquered evil. Christ crucified is thus “the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”
Yet I still struggle with my faith. Sometimes, I let the anxieties of life and a busy household distract me from my most important relationship and that is with God, the Father, Son, and Spirit. For me, last summer, the Christ Renews His Parish weekend was a way to me to get away and recharge my spiritual batteries. I went to CRHP with the attitude it would be a retreat weekend for me, but I found it was so much more. One of the things that struck me most profoundly about the Christ Renews His Parish weekend was the abundance and diversity of gifts God had bestowed on the CRHP team and on all of us.
“ Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith, if service, in our serving, he who teaches, in his teaching, he who exhorts, in his exhortation, he who contributes, in liberality; he who gives with zeal; he who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.” Rom. 12: 6-8
I felt the Holy Spirit transform me, and the other women who attended the renewal weekend. I wanted to be part of this movement to share with other women in our parish, to feel the power of the Holy Spirit and the gift of God’s abundant grace.
This weekend during the second Christ Renews His Parish retreat, I will be witnessing about my faith journey.
“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:10