This morning at five a.m. three of my kids were working out hard in the garage. They came in at six a.m. all sweaty. I was in the kitchen making breakfast because that’s what I love to do.
It was so funny because I am 51 years old and my hormones are doing their thing. My eggs (not the ones on the stove!) are getting hard boiled and I am pretty much a hot mess. I found it hilarious to have these three very vibrant teens fill my kitchen with their hormonal selves, on the brink of adulthood and here I am on the backside of that, slowly decaying, adding my sweat to theirs in the kitchen.
And I found it profoundly beautiful in its own way. We celebrated a lot of life today in my kitchen.
I love life. AND I want to sincerely thank you for being part of this community. For three years I wrote at “Prayer and Duct Tape,” and I loved almost every minute. But I felt the desire and urge to write in a deeper way on topics that were more eternal.
I mean, it seemed to me that there were enough blogs on how to make the best meatloaf. I wanted a bit more.
So if you like to think over the deeper topics, then you will enjoy this blog.
Last week I shared my conversion story with you; it was SO surprising to me. I didn’t expect it at all.
If you didn’t read or listen to that episode, here’s it in a nutshell: I realized I had a deep mistrust of God the Father. I didn’t know HOW to get into a relationship with Him because He always seemed angry at me.
That belief was built into me and I couldn’t seem to shake it.
So I asked Jesus to show me the love of His Father. Surely He’d lead me by the hand to God the Father.
Well, He did.
What surprised me is HOW He did it.
He showed me through a book, “The Victory Over the Darkness,” written by a Protestant pastor. The author, Neil Anderson, changed how I think. My spiritual DNA shifted and I am serious.
Neil used language that was simple; but not only that, he explained why Scripture changes lives. It’s not something we need to debate. If God said it, it’s true. And so I could intellectualize 1 John 5:13 or I could bring it on in and allow the Word to do its thing in me.
That felt beautiful and it absolutely changed everything. I see things differently. I speak differently and I love differently. I am beyond grateful.
I am a Catholic with a metric ton of knowledge. My husband and I love Catholicism. Why didn’t I GET the message from my Catholic Church? Neil wasn’t teaching a “Protestant” teaching. He was preaching something basic that ALL CHRISTIANS must know in order to advance in their faith journey.
So in May I went to one of my favorite places to pray: The sauna at the west YMCA.
Don’t laugh. It’s a place of miracles for me. I go there because it’s a small little dry sauna and I’m always by myself and as sweat pours out of my body, I pour out my anguish to God. And yes, I pray out loud.
On that particular day I kept asking God why. When I look at the Protestant world, it looks like it’s a world of You, Jesus. It’s a world of clear disciple-making based on Scripture. Is that not for Catholics? What exactly went wrong?
As I was in my hot box at the Y, pouring out my heart, I kept asking Jesus, “WHY? Why don’t we have this? This is a HUGE MISSING PIECE. Why don’t we have this in the Catholic Church?”
I was incredibly perplexed.
I didn’t receive any answer while in the sauna BUT when I got in my car and was driving towards the main road, this huge huge huge revelation more or less descended.
It was crystal clear:
Instantaneously I knew exactly what that meant. And I gasped. I started crying. Because here you have two CHRISTIAN groups, sold out to Jesus, divided.
How was Satan dividing?
I realized that this was deeply personal. MY ENTIRE LIFE I had dismissed any type of “You are saved” message because it sounded too Protestant.
In my heart of hearts, I felt like Protestants were on the wrong side. They left the Church. I knew I was right because I was in the Church with Apostolic Succession and The ACTUAL Blood and Body of Jesus Himself. We had Mary, the Queen Mother. We had Divine Mercy. I was in the right camp.
I instantaneously saw the devious ways that Satan had divided good, strong, beautiful Christians, men and women SUPPOSEDLY willing to lay down their lives for another.
I sat there, tears streaming down my face.
I felt the Holy Spirit saying to me, “This division? That’s not the way I wanted it to be. That’s not the way I want it to be.”
I repented, right then and there.
I’d like to use this space to profusely apologize to all of my brothers and sisters how very sorry I am for my self-righteous attitude, all the times I have been smug and full of pride. I was wrong and I.am.incredibly.sorry.
And when I realized that this confusion was caused by the father of lies, I got kind of happy. The truth sure does set a person free.
We serve a GOD OF MORE and I want more for myself, my family and all CHRISTIANS.
Now, all of that happened in May. The news of the priest scandals hit in late summer. As I’ve said before, a perverted priest doesn’t make my faith. I have been angry as well as humiliated by the events but on the flip side, I’ve also realized that as a strong Catholic woman, I can use my platform to support faithful priests and seminarians. Do not be afraid. I believe in you and I believe in The Church.
I believe we must unite AND we must have the courage to challenge the status quo. Especially after the scandals, trust is kinda low. For all of us. We must think differently.
Interestingly, I started reading “Rebuilt” last night. “Rebuilt,” is the story of a Catholic church in Baltimore that realized this exact thing that I’ve been getting at, they weren’t really living the Gospel Message of evangelization. For five years they really doubled down on what they had been doing. But it didn’t work.
The priest, Father Michael White, and Tom Corcoran went to churches that were thriving. Yep, they visited the mega Protestant churches.
The goal: to help priests, staff, volunteers, and parishioners more effectively proclaim the irresistible and life changing Gospel of Jesus Christ. Can I hear an AMEN?
Isn’t that exciting??? I haven’t gotten very far in the book, but I’m super impressed with how they switched gears and became other-people focused, reaching the unchurched and creating a space that felt welcoming and safe.
As you can see, I have learned SO MUCH in the past six months. Unity. Always unity. May we all strive for unity. Many mornings I listen to Bill Johnson, a really good preacher. He opens the Word and has given me many insights and I love it. (I just use YouTube!)
This is not about “Protestants vs Catholics” or “you vs me.” This is about us. ALL OF US. Together.
Together We Are Stronger.
PS! - Here's the two books I mentioned today: