The blessings DO come!

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In the beginning of my Christian walk, I didn’t fully understand what “the blessings come after the surrender” meant…  I had a pretty good idea but I was of the mindset that I’d probably have to “see it” to “believe it”.  My intent was innocent enough in that I didn’t want to blatantly “test God” and he knew it (because He knows everything!), it was simply because I was in the infancy stages of my new life in Christ that He most likely wanted to do me a solid, letting me know and encouraging me in my new found faith in Him.

As I faithfully was in the Bible every day, journaling, attending worship and service each week, willingly and gladly dropping my offering in the “bucket”, serving in Kids Ministry and spreading the Good News, not only with my mouth but via my social media accounts, I watched my new life unfold, like a flower in a garden blossoming under the warmth of the sun, the blessings – big and small – started to come.

At first, and although I don’t believe in coincidences, I did just that…. I thought that perhaps the first few blessings were merely coincidences.  How wrong I was!  His faithfulness is endless.  As our Lead Pastor has said many times, “He’ll meet you wherever you are, but He loves you too much to leave you there.”  Jesus reached down and saved me… doing for me, what I couldn’t do for myself.  God loves and protects me, laying His ever-powerful hand upon my shoulder, gently guiding and moving me forward in my faith.

IMG_0052.JPGPhoto Cred:  “The Hand of God” by Artist Yongsung Kim

As I witnessed the blessings, at first unsure if they were truly blessings from Him, I “Let Go and Let God” and I put my faith and trust in Him.  After I truly surrendered, I could see His love, guidance and direction for me.  Quite frankly, I was in awe… I was truly amazed and I thought, “He truly IS in my life.  He truly IS leading my steps; Psalms 119:105 – “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”

I had suffered an annual financial loss that I thought would ruin my family.  I envisioned all sorts of loss and devastation, uncertain as to how we could possibly make “ends meet”.  This financial loss came at the beginning of this year and I was so afraid as to what the future would hold.  Three weeks later, I turned my life and heart over to Jesus… putting my faith and trust in Him.  And then it began…

I started to build my relationship with Jesus, never looking back, turning back or going back to my old life.  At first, my Christian Walk was in baby steps, after all, I was a “baby Christian”.  As I toddled my way through, before I knew it, I was walking and only falling down occasionally, then I progressed to walking confidently, without a care or thought of falling, unless I clumsily tripped over something!  The next thing I knew, I was running, full-tilt, into his loving and awaiting arms… always keeping my eyes on Him, above and beyond everything else.

I found myself, contrary to what I had anticipated, managing to pay our bills each month without truly struggling.  Why do I have this extra money in my paycheck this pay period?  Oh…that would be an unexpected, one-time discretionary bonus to thank me for my contributions the previous year.  Hmmm…. all of a sudden, the LAST payment for my car loan was coming up… there’s a savings every month that had escaped me in my financial planning/budgetary process.  Oh, look… I just finished making the last payment on a credit card.  All of my blessings have not only been monetary in nature (although gladly welcomed!).  As I’ve continued to be faithful in living through Jesus, I’ve noticed a positive change in some of the people around me.  Although some may not be ready to commit their lives to Him, they’re seeing Jesus in me and it’s affecting them in what I believe is a very positive way.  I love how all of this “works”.  The bottom line is all I needed to do was ask Jesus to forgive me and to be my Lord and Savior and truly commit my life to Him and “Voila!”, the blessings started to come — big and small.  To quote my campus pastor, “I’ll NEVER get over what Jesus did for me!”  Neither will, I pastor… neither will I!

So today’s blessing was that I woke up at 7:20 and thought, “Oh, good grief… I’ve woken up late… I’ve got less than an hour to get ready for work.”  As I lay there, playing out in my head everything I needed to get done in the next 40 minutes, I heard this faint voice say, “Relax…it’s SUNDAY!”  Wha…What…WHAT?!  Yes… YES… Y E S !!!  This was followed by me jumping up and making my coffee and knowing that today was “blog” day… thanking and praising Him through every sip and back-spaced typo!

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~Psalms 23:1-3 – “[1]The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.  [2]He makes me lie down in green pastures.  He leads me beside still waters.  [3]He restores my soul.  He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

And the blessings keep coming!

~Let Love Lead The Way~ TP

 

 

I’ll NEVER Get Over What Jesus Did For Me!

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In being a “baby Christian” (as my fellow bible study ladies lovingly refer to me as), this IS all new to me.  I’m like a sponge… I’m in the Word every day, sometimes multiple times per day.  I believes it’s a living document, directing me where I need to be each day.  I’ve poured over John 3:16 more times than I can count.  When I was baptized last month, my testimony ended with, “I AM a ‘Whosoever’!”

In being raised Catholic, I memorized what was said during every Mass.  I was taught that “Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary and became man… He suffered, died and was buried… and on the third day He rose again in fulfillment of the scriptures.”

Did I ever really understand what all of that meant?  DID I?  Not really, much to my embarrassment.  It wasn’t until I turned my life over to Christ and got into the Word daily, that I began to fully understand His sacrifice.

The title of this blog, although I mean it with every fiber of my being, isn’t original to me.  The wonderful woman that directs our bible study (she got me through Genesis!), shared with us that this is something she had heard our young Campus Pastor say, and it resonated with me.  It made me stop and REALLY think about what Jesus DID for the world.

I had watched “The Passion of The Christ” a few years ago… struggling a little with what it all meant (as I had never read the bible), and the graphic nature of how Jesus suffered and was crucified was quite disturbing.  After becoming a Christ follower in January of this year, as Easter approached (and since I had been in the bible every day), I decided it would be a pivotal time to watch it again.  I did cry the first time, but the second time, I was a blubbering, snot-sobbing mess.  As I watched it the second time, I was like, “I know this!” and “I know that!” and “I know him!” and “I know her!”  It’s like I finally knew what the heck was going on!  The second time I watched it, I didn’t look away like I did the first time… not once, as I felt like I was there, witnessing in person what had been prophesied.  As Jesus hung on that cross, broken, bleeding and dying for all of our sins, the magnitude of His suffering was almost too much to bear.  The words that I had simply memorized growing up became real, tangible, living and breathing as I finally realized ALL HE HAD DONE for us; for me.

Our Lead Pastor has told us many, many times that Jesus isn’t “mad at you”; he’s “mad ABOUT you!”  He didn’t come here to teach us about “religion”; He came to save us…to rescue us… He came to do what we couldn’t do for ourselves.  The coolest thing about Jesus is that He’ll meet you “wherever you are”.  No matter where you are in your life, no matter what you’ve believed or done in the past, He’s waiting for you with His arms wide open.  God knows each and every one of us, even before creating us in our mother’s womb.  He knows everything about us before we even know.  He has a plan for each of us.  He is our greatest defender and protector.  All we need to do is ask Jesus to forgive us of our sins and to be our Lord and Savior.  So very simple but more importantly, it’s soul-saving!  Heaven vs. Hell?  I know where I want to be and I DO BELIEVE that all of my treasures await me in Heaven.

And I want everyone to be saved.  I want everyone I know and love (and even those I don’t know!) to experience the love, joy, peace and salvation through Jesus Christ.  I am fully aware that not everyone “thinks” they “need Jesus”.  All I can do is keep doing what I’M doing, and they’ll see Jesus in me!  When you see someone who is happy, fulfilled, joyful, and peaceful, I would think that you’d want to have what they have.

The Lord’s Supper, is MUCH more meaningful to me now.  The countless times I received communion over the last several decades, although touching at times, was not as powerful and impactful as it is now.  I’m not sure what other Christian churches do when it comes to Communion, but my church only does it every few months.  Because it’s not an every week occurrence, when my church announces that Communion is “coming up”, I wait with the anticipation of a five year old on Christmas Eve for Christmas morning to arrive!  Now, when I receive His “body” and His “blood”, I thank Him with my whole heart and soul, and “yes”, I cry.  I cry not only for WHAT HE DID, I cry because He did for me what I couldn’t do for myself.  I am forgiven…I’m saved, and I’m on fire for Jesus!

John 3:16 ~ “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life”.

I AM a “Whosoever”!

~Let Love Lead The Way~ TP

My Bible Has A Heartbeat

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Since I turned my life over to Jesus Christ about six months ago, I’ve been in the Word on a daily basis (sometimes multiple times within a day) and I’ve had the suspicion that the Bible is a “living” document.  I have monthly Bible Reading Challenge journals that direct me to “somewhere” in the bible each day to read, and then journal about it.

On way more than one occasion (actually, nearly always), wherever I was directed to in the Bible, it unequivocally related to what was happening in my life – either it pertained to the very day before, but most times it pertained to that very day!  Seriously?!  Of course!  God knows everything, about everyone, before they even know it.  It amazes me how he directs and guides me each day and, in being a relatively new Christ Follower, I didn’t put the puzzle pieces together as quickly as someone else who’s further along in their Christian walk might’ve.

I have been struggling lately with being able to fully forgive and forget, to not be resentful, to “let go and let God”.  This morning, before reading my daily Bible Challenge, I prayed to the Heavenly Father about it… hard.  I then turned to my challenge for the day and it directed me to Colossians 3:12-17 ~ “12-Since God chose you to be the holy people whom he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tender-hearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13-You must make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive the person who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. 14-and the most important piece of clothing you must wear is love. Love is what binds us all together in Perfect Harmony. 15-and let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are all called to live in peace. And always be thankful. 16-let the words of Christ, and all their richness, live in your hearts and make you wise. Use his words to teach and consulate others. Sing Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful Hearts. 17-and whatever you do or say, let it be as a representative of the Lord Jesus, all the  while giving thanks through him to God the Father.”

I’m not one of those people that has to be hit over the head with a two-by-four to “get it”!  Message heard loud and clear, Lord!  The fact that He always directs me to where I need to be in the Bible at the precise moment to understand, learn a lesson, and to be humbled, never ceases to amaze me.  Quite frankly, God amazes me every, single day.  The fact that He faithfully and lovingly will meet anyone, anywhere, any time, any place… right where they are.  As my Pastor has said on more than one occasion, “God isn’t mad at you…He’s mad ‘about’ you!”, i.e., “He’s crazy about you… He loves you… He wants to turn your ‘messes’ into ‘messages’!”

I’m so very thankful and blessed that my Bible has a heartbeat!

~John 20:23 “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

~Let LoveLead The Way~ TP ❤️

 

Born Again Christians and Pit Bulls

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I’ve come to realize that both get a bad rap.  Not that many years ago, I believed all the hype…a “Born Again Christian?” :::insert eye roll here:::!  My thoughts were, “Oh, good grief… they’re all Jesus-freaks in bible-thumping cults… they better not come banging on my door and stuffing their craziness down MY throat!” Pit Bulls?  “Fahgedaboudit!  They’re vicious…can’t be trusted…they’ll ‘turn on you one day’!”  Wow… I’m really ashamed of myself at how ill-informed I was on both counts.  I bought it all, just like wares from a snake oil salesman.  I bought it, alright — hook, line and sinker!  At that time in my life you could’ve sold me oceanfront property in Kansas…I’d have bought it.

Fast-forward to December of 2012… I already had two dogs… an Australian Shepherd and a Chihuhua.  I’ve always been a dog lover and owner, but unfortunately, I had lost two of my beloved dogs earlier that year.  All of a sudden, I found myself on PetFinder seeking to adopt a Pit Bull.   I have no idea where that came from but I was “on a mission”!  To make a very long story short, I found a four year old Pittie that needed a home.  When I went into the description for him, I noticed a little green heart that meant he was a “special needs” dog.  He was blind.  I didn’t care… I wanted to meet him.  I did so by attending an adoption event which he was at.  It was love at first sight… we adopted him.  He was the BEST dog ever!  We lost our beloved Poet a short seven months later very unexpectedly.  He changed our lives forever and we have since adopted the exquisite Sir William Poet, pictured above.

Being raised Catholic, I went through the motion of attending church on and off throughout the years.  I had been searching for “something different”… looking to connect with and having a relationship with Jesus Christ but I just didn’t know how.  On January 28th of this year I found a local, bible-based church through a Facebook acquaintance.  Stepping out of my Catholic comfort zone, I attended a service.  And there it was… all that I had been searching for, for years!  Turning my life over to Christ was a no-brainer…. He was waiting for me, all that time, with arms wide open.  Asking Him to forgive me of my sins and to be my Lord and Savior was as easy as loving-up on a Pit Bull!

I thank God for opening my eyes to the love and joy of owning Pit Bulls and of loving and living in Jesus.  I look at the world much differently now…. just like Planet Fitness, I’m a “judgment-free zone”.  Now that I know what I know about Pit Bulls and Born Again Christians, again, I’m ashamed that I bought into all the hype.

Today is a very special day for me… I’m taking the next step into obedience and I’m being baptized… publicly committing my heart and life to Jesus!  My very best friend from high school has joined my church and is doing the same!  We were somewhat hooligans in high school…. not bad kids, but we bucked the system every now and again… a couple of loud-mouthed, hard-laughing, life-of-the-party kinda gals.  Although our shenanigans have become somewhat tamed over the last three-plus decades, with marriage, kids, etc., we’re forever soul sisters and best friends on fire for Jesus!  I told our Pastor that they should pre-emptively hire a general contractor because we are gonna blow the roof off of our church TODAY!

People can negatively think what they want about Born Again Christians and Pit Bulls, but I’m so thankful that I opened my eyes, heart and mind to both.  I’m gonna wrap this up so I can go hang out with my dogs, especially the big, loveable blockhead who stole my heart and brings me as much joy and love as Jesus does.

Acts 3:19 – “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing come from the Lord.”

~Let Love Lead The Way~ TP

 

 

I am Forgiven!

When Jesus was nailed to the cross, broken and bleeding, willingly dying to take away the sin of the world, I paused on Good Friday to truly reflect on the immeasurable suffering He endured and my heart was heavy.   Knowing that “For God so loved the world He gave his only Son and that whosoever believes in Him will not perish and will have eternal life.” ~John 3:16… how truly blessed I am to be a “whosoever”.  Jesus not only “saved” me, he “rescued” me, so I was no longer held captive by the enemy.

In being raised Catholic, I knew that “He suffered, died and was buried and on the third day, He rose again in fulfillment of the scriptures.”  I’m embarrassed to say that until now, those were simply memorized words that I recited when I attended Mass.

Easter Service for me this year (my first in my bible-based Christian Church-Granite United), was AMAZING!  My fellow church-goers (myself included) take this “Jesus-thing” pretty seriously!  There were hundreds of names on each of my church’s campuses Prayer Walls…HUNDREDS of souls that were prayed for leading up to the celebration of Easter!  Hundreds of people that had not previously attended (this) church walked through the doors and many were saved… it was awesome!

I don’t think I can ever thank Him enough… but I can, and do, put my trust and faith in Him… he is so, so good… so loving and faithful!

I AM a “whosoever”… I AM forgiven. He’s given me a brand new heart and a fresh start!  I’m not special in anyway… He does this for EVERYONE who calls upon Him.  Ga’head… call Him whenever you’re ready… He’ll always be waiting for you!

~Let love lead the way~ TP

I’m NOT a violent person, but the “Bunny” MUST die!

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For real.  Long before I began my Christian Walk (I was raised Catholic), I never understood the concept of the Easter Bunny…filling baskets with fake grass, chocolates, Peeps, candy eggs, etc.  I was quite happy as a child to receive an “Easter Basket” filled with goodies, and I was equally as happy to see that the Easter Bunny had consumed the carrots that I left for him, along with a glass of milk (and he always left me a “note”, just like Santa Claus did, encouraging me to “be a good girl”).  I’m not gonna lie…I did the EXACT same thing for my children when they were little.  That’s all I knew, so that’s what I did.  I raised my children in the Catholic church to the best of my ability, but I was always searching for another way to connect with God… to praise Jesus Christ who died for my sins, thus, I joined a bible-based Christian church and I’ve never looked back.

But as far as the Easter Bunny thing goes…long before I became a Christian, I’ve been somewhat offended (and I’m not easily offended) that the holiest of holy days has been made a mockery of via a “Bunny”.

I was curious enough to Google the origin of the Easter Bunny and here’s what I found (info cred:  Historydotcom):

“The Bible makes no mention of a long-eared, short-tailed creature who delivers decorated eggs to well-behaved children on Easter Sunday; nevertheless, the Easter bunny has become a prominent symbol of Christianity’s most important holiday. The exact origins of this mythical mammal are unclear, but rabbits, known to be prolific procreators, are an ancient symbol of fertility and new life. According to some sources, the Easter bunny first arrived in America in the 1700s with German immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania and transported their tradition of an egg-laying hare called “Osterhase” or “Oschter Haws.” Their children made nests in which this creature could lay its colored eggs. Eventually, the custom spread across the U.S. and the fabled rabbit’s Easter morning deliveries expanded to include chocolate and other types of candy and gifts, while decorated baskets replaced nests. Additionally, children often left out carrots for the bunny in case he got hungry from all his hopping.”

Sheesh.

I continued my Google research, which brought me back again to Historydotcom to find the meaning of Easter in Christianity:

“Easter is really an entire season of the Christian church year, as opposed to a single-day observance. Lent, the 40-day period leading up to Easter Sunday, is a time of reflection and penance and represents the 40 days that Jesus spent alone in the wilderness before starting his ministry, a time in which Christians believe he survived various temptations by the devil. The day before Lent, known as Mardi Gras or “Fat Tuesday” (<-I can relate!), is a last hurrah of food and fun before the fasting begins. The week preceding Easter is called Holy Week and includes “Maundy Thursday”, which commemorates Jesus’ last supper with his disciples; Good Friday, which honors the day of his crucifixion; and Holy Saturday, which focuses on the transition between the crucifixion and resurrection. The 50-day period following Easter Sunday is called Eastertide and includes a celebration of Jesus’ ascension into heaven.”

I’m down with that.

I guess I really don’t want the Bunny to die.  That wouldn’t be very Christian of me and I believe I’ve made my point.  Knowing that my young nieces, grandnieces and grandnephew are delighted when they get their Easter Baskets will continue to be a treasured memory of their innocence until the time comes when their innocence is gone and they know that there’s no such thing as Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, etc., and it’s replaced with the reality of what really “is” and “isn’t”.

I will hold Easter as the most sacred of holy days in my heart, because I know what it truly means.  Some people feel that I’m “taking this ‘Jesus thing’ way too seriously”.  Hmmm… last time I checked, I think Jesus took me VERY seriously when he was nailed to a cross and died for my sins.

  • 1 Corinthians 6:14 – And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power.

~Let love lead the way~ TP

“You’ve Changed!” Why “Yes”, “Yes, I have!”

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“You’ve changed.”

“Yes, I have.”

“You’re not the same anymore.”

“I know… and I’m THRILLED about it!”

There’s this “mystery” surrounding my recent decision to become a Follower of Christ.  Actually, it really wasn’t a decision, per se… I just knew it was time and boy-oh-boy was I ready.  The mystery is how/why I’ve changed(?)  I’ve heard that the church I belong to is a “cult”.  Really?  A “cult”?  That’s disheartening.  It’s not like they’ve put a burlap sack over my head, thrown me in a rusted out panel van and whisked me away to some secluded compound where my family and friends can’t find me.  I’m not being brainwashed, coerced, cajoled or anything of the sort.  I’m simply worshiping my Lord & Savior, attending church each week, volunteering and serving when I can.

I can think of a lot worse things that I could be doing other than loving and worshiping Jesus.  I could be a terrible wife, a neglectful mother, a bank robber, serial killer, kleptomaniac,  self-aggrandizing narcissist… truly the list is endless.

I’m curious as to why MY journey in Christ is “scary” or “disdainful” to others?  Perhaps they’re afraid of what they don’t understand or what they’re not willing to seek?  I’ve always believed in God, in the Father, Son & the Holy Spirit and so do most of my family and friends but now, when I openly honor and praise our Heavenly Father, I’m the odd woman out.  Go figure.

I’ll tell you how I’ve changed (feel free to reference my previous blog posts); I’m calm, peaceful, full of joy, hope and a love that I’ve never experienced before.  I don’t swear anymore (and I used to… A LOT); it’s not like I made a conscious decision not to swear, I just simply stopped.  I’m still me (and here comes the “tooting-my-own-horn” part — which I normally wouldn’t do — but I am now, simply to state who I was and who I still am).  I’m loving, compassionate, and empathetic.  I love my family and friends.  I love dogs immensely… my dogs, your dogs, rescue and shelter dogs.  I love veterans, the elderly and babies.  I’m a tattooed, vested biker chick…I love driving fast and banging gears in my Mustang GT.  I’m a loyal, dedicated and conscientious employee (at the same company for almost 19 years).  I’m still me… I’m still here.  I truly believe that once a person turns their life over to Christ, there’s no turning back.  It’s like when a mother gives birth to a baby… that baby’s not going back in!

If it weren’t for my beloved one, true highest God, I wouldn’t be here.  I have Him to thank for all that I am, all that I have and all that I’ll ever be.

  • Matthew 22:37-38:  “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” 

~Let love lead the way~ TP

 

 

 

 

You’d think I was pulling wings off of flies!

I must admit, it’s been a little disheartening being faced with some of the “not-so-supportive” reactions from some (certainly not all) of the people in my life simply because I turned my heart over to Jesus Christ.  It’s not like I’m pulling wings off of flies for Pete’s sake!

I came to the realization that something VERY significant was missing in my life, and it took way longer than I anticipated to find it.  Knowing what I know now, I’m pretty sure that in my heart I’ve always known what it was… I was just uncertain as to how to get there!  I’m beyond middle-aged now, and my only regret is that I waited more than half of my lifetime to get to where I am.

Here’s the good news though… the GREAT news, actually… it’s NEVER TOO LATE!

If someone had told me six months ago that I would turn my life over to Him and would immediately become so full of joy and peace, I wouldn’t have believed them!  I was always so anxious…about EVERYTHING in my life…every minute of every day.  Filled with worry and angst…I was a prisoner in my own head.  Now?  I’m calm, relaxed, and peaceful.  I’ve found great comfort in taking some quiet time for reading the bible and journaling every day.

For those that truly know me…they’ve seen the change in me.  Most notably, I used to swear…a LOT!  I never really thought about it…it was just something that I did.  The most amazing thing is that after I became a follower of Christ, I didn’t wake up the next morning and say to myself, “Well, no more swearing for me!”  Quite the contrary…I didn’t even have to think about it!  And the first time I said, “Oh my Gosh” about something or other, I immediately said out loud, “Oh my ‘Gawd’!  Did I just say ‘Oh my Gosh’?”  True story.

So for those in my life that don’t quite understand what my journey is all about, please know this…I’m still “me”… except now I’m filled with more love, joy and peace than I ever thought was possible!

Colossians 3:14 ~ “Above all, clothe yourselves with love which binds us all together in perfect harmony.”

~Let love lead the way~TP

 

My New Journey

I’ve been “empty” for a long time. I’m married (32 years), have two awesome grown children, and I love my family deeply, but something was missing.  I’ve lost loved ones (like everyone does), but the most recent loss of my brother-in-law, who was my best friend (5 years ago), left me so devastated, so mournful that I felt so lost, carrying a huge heartache that just wouldn’t lessen…the hurt was just as much five years later as it was on Day One.

I have suspected for many years that the “thing” that was missing was related to religion and/or spirituality in some way.  I was raised Catholic and attended church regularly as a child, raised my children Catholic, but only attended church when I “had” to.  A few years ago, I started attending my local Catholic church faithfully every week for about 8 months, then I fell off.  I tried to connect with the Heavenly Father but, quite unfortunately, I just wasn’t “feeling” it.

I believe there is no such thing as “coincidence”.  I’ve always believed that God has a plan for all of us…that everything happens for a reason; good and bad.  What I didn’t know is that it’s His plan, and it comes in His time!

I’m blessed beyond measure…to some, I may not have much, but to others I have more than I need.  I’ve always been sensitive, compassionate, empathetic, and have always strived to do the right thing… to be kind, be humble, and to pay it forward.

On January 28th, 2017, through a Facebook acquaintance, I found a local bible-based church (Granite United).  I looked them up online and checked-out their FB page.  “This looks kinda cool”, I said to myself, but I wasn’t fully sure if I wanted to step out of my “Catholic” comfort zone.  Because I have a very outgoing personality, most people who meet me would never (in a million years) suspect that I have “pre-” social anxiety (getting all jacked-up BEFORE going somewhere that’s unfamiliar to me).  While contemplating going, I became uncertain and anxious and I vacillated on whether or not I should go to the 4 PM service that was starting in an hour and a half.  I was laying on my couch with my three amazing dogs, listening to Christian music and finally, I “prayed” on it.  Next thing you know, I was up, dressed, and out the door!

The most amazing thing about my “story”, my “journey” is that I had sent a message earlier in the day to G.U.’s FB page, stating that I was interested in learning more about their church, what their service was like…that I was raised Catholic but was looking for something “different”.  My message included this:  “I just want to worship Jesus in MY OWN way; in MY OWN time”.

I walked through the doors of Granite United and was immediately approached by an older gentleman with a kind face, warm smile and a hug, welcoming me to G.U.  I told him that “this is my first time, so ‘be gentle’!”  We both laughed and he introduced me to a lovely couple (a little older than myself) and they welcomed me and asked me to sit with them.  When it was evident that her husband and I were dancing around for the seat on the far end, I settled for sitting right behind them (end seat, naturally — thanks claustrophobia!).  Before the lights were dimmed, I looked around and saw a myriad of attendees… teenagers, young families, older folks, etc., and I was impressed with the diversity of the group.

The lights dimmed and the music started.  The treble and bass were so intense that I immediately lost myself in the beat and in my head, I shouted, “Are you kidding me???!!!  It’s a ROCK CONCERT!  Whoop Whoop!!”  Geez…the pastor hadn’t even begun service yet and I was already “in it to win it”.  While the band was playing, they’re kind enough to have a huge projection screen up front with the current song’s lyrics displayed (I almost want to say it resembled Karaoke, but I’m afraid that could be construed as a little bit insulting – so just disregard that I said it).  I had my hands raised in the air and as a former singer, I was belting out the songs like there was no tomorrow.  Hand-to-God, I felt at “home”… I felt at “peace”….everything felt “right”.

Here’s the part of the beginning of my journey that (to me) is so amazing, so “on-the-money”.  The Pastor’s sermon was written JUST for me… I felt it in my heart.  Fast-forward to mid-way through service…. there was a tall table beside the Pastor on which there were two over-turned buckets.  He removed each of the buckets and seated side-by-side were two Ninja Turtle Chia Pets!  Wha…What…WHAT?!  The one on the left was stark naked, but the one on the right had green leafy sprigs sprouting out all over the place.  The Pastor stated that the “naked” Ninja Turtle on the left, after four weeks of tending to it, remained as such because the Pastor decided that he was not going to follow the All-Mighty-Chia Pet Creator’s way (instructions)… he elected to do it in his OWN WAY and in his OWN time!  However, the blossoming Ninja Turtle on the right, in full bloom, was because the Pastor tended to it (raising his bible), in GOD’S way, by GOD’S instruction and in GOD’S time. (Please reference paragraph 6 above to get the full affect as to how this impacted me!)  Are you kidding me!?  WOW!  Can I get an “Amen”!!

I believe that I had committed myself to Jesus Christ a long time ago, but I did it alone, in my heart, but I truly didn’t understand what it meant to put him FIRST.  Well… I certainly do now!  Unfortunately, outside of my church family, I only have a handful of support from family members and friends.  I knew that in becoming a Christ Follower, I would be faced with rejection, ridicule, judgment, etc.  Hmmmm…. I wonder who THAT sounds like?  I’m in this “all the way”.  For those who judge me or look down upon me for doing so, I pray for them the most in the hope that our Heavenly Father, through his beloved Son, Jesus Christ, will soften and open their hearts and minds.  I hold no resentment or ill feelings toward my naysayers because I am so filled with joy, love and peace now, that my heart simply won’t allow me to do so.

Matthew 18:20 ~ “For where there are two or three gathered together in the name of Jesus, He is there with them in their midst.”

Have a Blessed Day!