The Time is Now

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It’s been just about a year since I moved from the little house on the lake and completed a life transformation that began about a year before that. Reflecting on the past few years I can see such a difference from where I was then to where I am now, and I owe it all to God. I was defeated, worn out and just going through the motions. Until I began to put my trust in God. I talked to him about my problems, asked him for help, listened, and followed his answers. Yes, God will give us the answers. They may not always be the answers we want or expect but they are the right ones.  More

Are the Animals Lining Up

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As I am sitting here listening to the rain tattooing the roof of the building I am in I am wondering if  this will be going on for another 39 days. Of course, I know that God promised Noah that it wouldn’t happen again, but could he change His mind? No, because he doesn’t renege on His promises.

I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth. – Genesis 9:11

Now that isn’t to say that the end isn’t going to come some other way, in fact, we can pretty much count on it. When it will come we
do not, nor will we ever know, but it will come. Which is another reason to live each day as if it will be our last, always keeping the end goal in mind. What is that end goal? Come on, you know, I’ve told you before. Anyone? The end goal is to do whatever we can to get us to heaven so we can spend eternity with the Lord.

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me;  and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. – John 10:27-28

Follow Him and receive eternal life. What a deal.

The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and for evermore. – Psalm 121:8

Life is what you make it. About five or six years ago I was diagnosed with fibro
myalgia. It basically drains the life out of you. (Yes, you can buy my book here). I decided I had two choices, I could be miserable and let it beat me, or I could go on living and beat it. I beat it. It is the same with anything we do. We can wake up and decide we will have a good day or a bad day, it is our choice. We can decide if we are going to live as a good Catholic and Christian or if we will follow Satan. In other words, we can choose to live with the end goal in mind or not.

A Single Step

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I know, I know, I missed two days, but I promise to make it up to you. In my last post, I promised to go through my bible and locate all the passages that helped me get through my troubles, the ones that helped me to trust in God and to live one day at a time. There are 32 of them that I have counted.

I wish that I had kept some kind of a record as to a timeline or how I happened on each one, whether it was through my normal reading or whether God directed me to them, but alas I didn’t. So I will just tackle them one at a time and try to explain them as best I can. I will begin with James 4:7.

So submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

As a quick sidenote, James is one of the shorter chapters in the Bible, yet percentage wise I  have more passages marked in this chapter than any other.

When I first began my journey I was definitely under the influence of Satan. I had been for a long time. While I had gotten better in some respects, I was still under his influence. I was beginning to see that in order to resist Satan I would have to submit myself to God, trust in Him, listen to him, and follow his lead. This wasn’t easy at first, the submitting myself to God part at least. I was able to resist the devil although I always knew (and still do) that he was never very far away. But totally trusting in God was a little tougher. I describe it as climbing up a mountain, and when you reach the top there is too much fog to see what is on the other side. You don’t know what you will be walking into, so you turn around and go back the way you came. After all, you know what is that way.

But why should I trust in the Lord? What proof do I have that He has ever been there for me, that he has ever helped me? After all, my life (until recently) has been a struggle. How can I say that it would have turned out any different if I had trusted in Him? I can’t go back to the past and change things. I suppose I could try to guess but that is just that, a guess. I needed to think back to any time in the past He may have helped me. Was there one?

Come to find out there were many. One is what had caused me to begin this journey in the first place. I had fallen off the back of a truck and was almost hit by a machine known as a scissor-lift. I was working hauling small construction machines with a “Roll-off” tow truck. It was a wet day, and I wasn’t paying attention and took a shortcut. The scissor-lift began to slide backward, knocking me off the bed of the truck, and as I lay there I was watching the machine come to me. I thought “This isn’t going to end well.” Just then the machine turned slightly missing me be a few inches. What caused the machine to turn ever so slightly? There was nothing on the bed, no defect, there was no wind, nothing I could see that would have made it do that. Was it the hand of God? Did I have a guardian angel?

I laughed it off but couldn’t stop thinking about it all day. My thoughts turned to the question of whether there is life after death. Is there a heaven and a hell? Is God real? I realized even though I was a cradle Catholic I had no idea what being Catholic meant, what I was supposed to believe or not believe. When my day was done I realized I better find out and determine what the truth is. That marked the beginning of this wonderful and sometimes confusing journey.

As time went on I began to remember other times when things happened to me, things I couldn’t really explain. I even remembered two specific times I had actually prayed to God and he answered me. The first time was maybe 30 or 35 years ago, the second was 7. Had I realized it the first time, or more correctly, had I not ignored it, my life would have turned out much differently. But  …

For I know well the plans I have in mind for you—oracle of the LORD—plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope. – Jer 29:11

God has a plan for us. We never know what it is, but there is one. And most of all He doesn’t give up on us, even when we give up on Him. We may not know exactly what His plan is, but it we listen to Him, it will be revealed to us in bits and pieces. The first time he sent me a message was when I asked Him to show me a sign, He did, but I didn’t take it seriously. He could have given up on me, but He didn’t, he tried and tried again. Maybe falling off the back of the truck was the last time, I don’t know but at least it worked.

In my next post, I will get into the story of the first time  I prayed for help and the sign God gave me. For now, I will go back to the first passage I shared above. This was the first step I needed to take, to give myself to God, put myself in His hands and resist sin and temptation. Once I did, my life slowly began to change.

This is where everyone needs to start, put your trust in God, and He will lead you.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, on your own intelligence do not rely; In all your ways be mindful of him, and he will make straight your paths. – Prov 3: 5-8

It isn’t always going to easy, it will take some time and a lot of patience and perseverance, but it will come. Every journey begins with one step.

Keeping Watch – Luke 12:35

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I certainly don’t claim to be a biblical scholar, and I certainly am not a theologian (I can’t even pronounce it), I am just a layperson who sees how God has worked in my life. When I began my journey one of the many things I learned was that every time you read a passage of scripture for the second third of more time, you will learn something new. The latest of these is Luke 12:35 – 40.

This is the parable where Jesus tells the story of the master who has gone to a wedding feast and the servants are charged to stay awake and await his return especially if he returns after dark. In the time of Jesus, there were only locks on the inside of doors, probably a sliding bar of some sort. Once this bar was in place the door could only be opened from the inside. It was up to the servants to listen and know the sound of the master’s voice, even his footsteps to ensure they didn’t open the door for anyone but him.

Most people interpret this parable, correctly I might add, that it means we must be ever vigilant to hear when Jesus comes to our door at the end of time and invites us to come with him. If we don’t open the door for him, we will be left behind. Jesus isn’t going to open the door himself, he isn’t going to wait for us, he will move on. He can’t open the door, we must open it for him. We need to know when he is there.

The last time I read this passage, actually last Sunday since it was the Gospel reading, I was struck with another thought. Couldn’t this also mean we need to be as vigilant to not open the door for the wrong person, i.e. Satan? Isn’t he trying to get into our door as well?  We need to be as, if not more, attentive to who is at the door before we open it.

But here is the problem, there is so much noise around us in today’s world, we can’t always hear. We are surrounded by noise, noise of all kinds, from all directions, from all sorts of devices. When was the last time you were actually immersed in complete quiet? No television, no cell phone, no computer. It’s probably been awhile. This is exactly what Satan wants from us, to be surrounded by noise. When we are, we can’t hear God talking to us. The saying “Out of sight, out of mind” comes to mind. When we can’t hear God, we forget about Him. We put Him away somewhere and wonder where He is later when something happens. Just like the Evil One wants.

I was never one who listened for God. It wasn’t until I fell off that truck and really started thinking about things that I realized that He had been talking to me all my life, I just never listened. I didn’t know who was knocking at my door. I didn’t know who I was letting in and who I was keeping out. Now I do.

Let me share a quick example as to how I have done this. The last job I had, I would always let myself be dragged into the negativity, gossiping and back-biting that was a daily occurrence. At my new job, this still goes on, and at a higher level than at the last one, but the difference is now I don’t let myself be dragged into it. I don’t and won’t participate no matter how much others will try to get me to. I know who is knocking and I don’t answer the door.

Take the time to listen. Listen for God, listen to God. Take some quiet time to learn what He looks like and what He sounds like. Learn to differentiate between Him and Satan. He is out there. Once you shut out all the noise, you will find Him. I have and so can you.

Narrow Paths and New Beginnings

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For the past few months, I have been undergoing some transitions in my life. Since about January I have been preparing to move from the house we have lived in for the past 15 years, and the house that could be considered an ancestral home of sorts as it has been in the family for about 100 years, and moving to a new place back where it all began. (You can read more about that here if you would like)

We are settled into the new place now and I am trying to make a decision on whether I want to change parishes. I have been regularly attending St. Anne’s Parish in Sturbridge since returning to church and have been a member there since first moving to Sturbridge in 1980 something. But now I am living in the place that I have always considered to be my hometown, Southbridge, and am closer to my old parish, Saint John Paul II Parish, formerly known as Notre Dame Parish, the parish in which I received all the sacraments in (except the last one as I think I am still alive) and have been gravitating back to this one.

I guess if I rejoin this parish, I will be a new member of my old parish? Or would I be an old member of my new parish? Although, since technically it isn’t the old parish, but a new parish, would I be a new member of a new parish?

I have always had a problem with feeling like I belonged anywhere, whether it was at school, in church, in the community, which is why even after moving from here to there, I always felt like this was still my hometown. I think this all goes back to an incident in my youth when I was left tied under a porch while the rest of the family went to frolick and play up at the same place I just moved from. But that is a blog post for another time. I have always had a difficult time making friends and fitting in with others in the past and am not sure going to a new parish will make any difference.

But alas, enough of that. What I really want to talk about is this: I have been able to turn my life around in the last few years, ever since the day I fell off the back of that tow truck. I can see the difference that trusting in the Lord has made in my life. I have had some pretty low times in the past years, and it wasn’t until I finally gave in and said “Lord, my life is in your hands now” that things really began to turn around for me. I stopped worrying about what happened yesterday, and I stopped worrying about what will happen tomorrow and I began to take my life one day at a time.

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat [or drink], or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they? Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span? Why are you anxious about clothes? Learn from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work or spin. But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith? So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’ All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom [of God] and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides. Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil. – Mt. 6:25 – 34

I truly believe that once I followed this advice from Jesus, that my life has changed. I know that it could change tomorrow, it could go bad at any time, but I also know that God will take care of me as long as I continue to stay on that narrow path. I stopped worrying about “things” and worried about what comes after this life and it has made all the difference in my life.

It’s been a long road, and I have come a long way, and I know I have a long way to go, but with Jesus having my back, I’ll make it.

The Same Only Different

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Only five more days until Christmas. For some Christmas is a time for joy and happiness. For others, it can be anything but. For me, I am somewhere in the middle. I spend a lot of time reflecting on my life, where I was, where I am now, where I am going. This year is the same, only different.

The last couple of years have been tough on me. I have been struggling with what seems to be an endless financial mess. My health hasn’t been all that great, I can’t do the kinds of things I like to do, physically I just can’t do it. I have had to make some pretty hard decisions. That is what has been the same.

The what is different is that I finally seem to have an inner peace within myself. I realize that no matter what happens I have Jesus at my back, guiding me and pointing me in the right direction. I know if and when I stumble He will be there to help me up. And more importantly, I have finally realized that there actually is a purpose to life, an “End Goal”.

So many people struggle with trying to figure out where they want to be in life. They wonder what life has in store for them, thinking it is the here and now that is the most important thing in life. They surround themselves with things, always trying to get ahead, to have the latest “stuff” and forget about what is really important along the way. They are so busy pursuing these dreams of wealth and success that they forget why they are really here. They forget about love and kindness. They forget about the “End Goal”.

What is that “End Goal”? It is to use this life to get to the next one, the one where we will spend eternity. We have two choices as to where that will be. We can either spend it in Hell with Satan, or we can spend it in Heaven with Jesus. We always hear about God having a plan for us. Well, this is what is plan is, to spend eternity with Him in Heaven. We won’t get there through materialism, narcissism, hedonism or any other “isms”. We will only get there by being virtuous as we can be, by living our lives the way He wants us to.

Do I always do that? Nope, but I try. And looking back over the last few years I realize that I have come a long way in reaching that goal. Yes, I have a long way to go, but at least I now have the “End Goal” in sight. I am working to that goal each and every day. Whether it is at home, at work, through my writing (which I have done darn little of lately) or through my day to day actions, I am doing my best to get there.

How about you?

Trust in the Lord

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The last few weeks have been especially hard for me. And I admit they  have been testing my faith. There was a time when these same things would have beaten me but not this time. Why? Because this time, I have faith. I know that God is with me and will give me the strength I need to handle whatever comes my way. More

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