Holy Moments – Day 14 – The Path


From 2006 to 2007, I went through 9 months of RCIA – the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, the education and discernment process by which adults enter the Catholic Church. We met weekly to learn about the faith and the Church, familiarizing ourselves with terminology and concepts that previously seemed foreign. It was a deliberately slow but thorough process, designed to allow for reflection and consideration.

I had been curious about RCIA for years – ever since the 1999 wedding reception of two dear friends, where I was seated next to the officiating priest. He was the first person I’d ever met from Malta. But he really drew me in when he told me he was finishing up his dissertation at Catholic University, focusing on the role of imagination in faith.

In college, I double-majored in French and English, and I loved all things related to art and literature. If you bring up the topic of imagination, I will stick to you like glue. Almost needless to say, this priest and I had a lengthy, meaty conversation. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the other guests at our table.

This gentleman told me about RCIA. But looking back over my life now, I can see that this encounter was like so many others. The Lord had His hand on me, and had arranged this meeting to knock gently on the door of my heart.

On the first night of RCIA, our deacon’s wife led us in an exercise. She said something along these lines:

Close your eyes. Take a deep breath. Imagine you are walking on a quiet path, meandering over gentle green hills. The sun is warm but not glaring. There are light, puffy white clouds in the sky. A breeze blows across your face. You are, in every way, comfortable.

Someone is coming up behind you. You look back. It is a man. You turn to move aside but he does not push past. Instead, he looks you in the eye and smiles a friendly smile. Then, he falls in step with you. How do you feel?

As the script continues, we learn from the description of the man that this is Jesus. As I imagined the scene, I was overcome with a peace I’d never felt before. All my life, I’d seen paintings, sculptures, films – other people’s representations of the risen Christ, but I had never spent a long moment deep enough in thought to visualize Him for myself. It was a powerful experience. And a turning point for me.

I felt just like the two disciples who encounter Christ after his resurrection on the road to Emmaus.

Then they said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning [within us] while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?”

-Luke 24:32 

Now, when I pray, I seek His face. I look for that same face that I saw on my walk.

What a day it will be when I can truly see Him.

Holy Moments – Day 9 – Seamus

Here’s one of our beloved dogs, Seamus. We think he’s adorable, in that funny-cute kind of way – with his brindled head and paws, black back, white starred chest, and graying muzzle. If we scanned his genes to determine breed type, we’d probably find every kind of dog registered with the AKC. Truly – he’s one of a kind. A “mix-up,” as our 5-year old son calls him.
And here’s a video of his signature move – the hoot. He’s calling us to let him in from the back porch.
He will keep this up for as long as it takes. I repeat: AS LONG AS IT TAKES – until we open the door for him. His persistence can be annoying. But I admire it.
And when he comes in, his tail is wagging as if no time has elapsed at all. He’s grateful to be reunited with us, back from his romp around the back yard, returned to his safe and loving home.
We got Seamus from a rescue group who had saved him from a shelter in South Carolina where he’d been brought in – a stray guy, just skin and bones, but with a big, big heart. On that day three years ago when he crawled into my lap at his foster parents’ house, I knew without a doubt his ‘forever’ home was going to be with me.
But learning to accept our place as ‘home’ took time. On his first walk with me, his tail slumped between his legs and his head sunk down. In the house, he sat in corners for the first couple days, and he was frightened by the stairs. When our Beagle Luna arrived a week later (we planned for them to be playmates), he allowed her to be the alpha, and didn’t really challenge her authority, even though she was younger, for almost a year. And when my husband approached Seamus’s food bowl while he was eating, Seamus would back away sheepishly. He ran from loud noises. We wondered if he’d been abused, if someone had yelled a lot, or just neglected him.
Nevertheless, he wanted to be with us. And the more we loved him, the more love he returned to us.
At one point, my relationship with God was similar to the one Seamus had with us. I couldn’t sit through any church service without crying. The emotions I felt inside would just bubble up and spill out in quiet tears, and my stomach would turn in knots. I was timid, fearful, and unsure whether I could truly trust Him. In a sense, I had been a stray. I’d traveled a few roads and didn’t feel at home anywhere.
But the Lord’s love is relentless and tender. Fiercely compassionate and constant. Patient and true. A gentle hand that promised to cradle me forever when I was finally ready to fully relax into the safe home of Him.

Brownie Points

Have you ever stood in the corner of your kitchen, hiding from your youngest child, and eating the very last brownie – just before you dash out the door to pick up the other two kids, while thinking two things?

1. Now the three of them won’t fight over it….


2. Man, I deserve this.

Here’s the (partial) proof of my stolen moment.
I only thought to take a picture for you after my first bite. Sorry!


Truth be told, I started writing this piece in June just before school let out for the summer, dropped in the photo, and never finished it. But some things don’t change. Here I am, mid-July, still feeling that I ‘deserve’ something along the lines of a brownie every day.

What is that ugliness inside me that argues for more despite all that I already have? And more significantly – why can’t I shake that rascal voice on my own?

I was thinking last night about the futility of my own thinking. About the fact that none of my lingering issues over the years – the ones that have plagued me and developed into worry, fear, anxiety and obsession – none of them have been solved by my intellect. So, mulling things over for any length of time – wondering why I might have been in a funk, wanting to withdraw from friends and the like  – won’t help me.

At the same time, talking these things through with well-meaning people won’t help either unless those people are the kind that point me in the direction I already know I need to go. Back to do the work that needs to be done.

Because over the years, I’ve learned that the most effective way to deal with ME is not to huddle in the corner of my kitchen eating the last brownie and justifying it with “good reasoning.” No. I need to turn myself over to the One who knows Me best.

But He is a gentleman. He doesn’t chase after the woman He loves. He waits patiently for me, and then loves with tender abandon so that I remember that my heart, in fact – my life, was made to glorify Him.

So this morning, I grab my tea and head to my desk with my Bible, book of verses, and journal. I tell the kids I’ll answer their questions – about re-wrapping an injured hand, and whether we can melt some crayons and coconut oil to make homemade lip-balm today – after I spend some time with God.

And this is Our time – me and The Lord. And hiding here with Him is the best place to find refreshment. So much better than a brownie.

The Lord is my strength and my shield,

in whom my heart trusted and found help,

So my heart rejoices;

with my song I praise my God.

Psalm 28:7


Gym Love

Two months ago, I joined a gym. It was time. It wasn’t about weight loss, and I won’t pretend it wasn’t at least a little bit about vanity. (I’m 42. At some point, you have to admit you’re going to have to work a bit harder to keep whatever it is you’ve got, right?). But mostly, it was for my heart –  I was panting after climbing two short flights of stairs (and we have six in our house, so that most definitely was not good). And, it was for my bones. By themselves, those chocolatey calcium supplements are simply not going to fight my genetic predisposition toward osteoporosis. No matter how much I wish they would. It was time to start pumping some iron.

I brought up my need to some friends, who told me where they go, and that’s where I joined. By grace, and yes, I’ve asked for His help in this, because I can’t tell you how I loathe to work out, I have faithfully made it to the gym 3x a week ever since joining. Just knowing that there are others in the same pursuit of health is what gets me there. I know I’ll never have the figure of a supermodel (and hello! I LOVE cake), but it has made me appreciate my body and its remarkable capabilities once again, too.

Today, I was reflecting on where my body has taken me in this incredible life so far:

It gets up every morning.

It has lived in 6 U.S. states and traveled to many, many more.

It has taken my soul to Western Europe, a bit of Northern Africa, and much of North America.

It has enjoyed and absorbed nutrients from thousands of meals.

It has loved – in all senses of the word – and, with my amazing husband, was given the privilege of carrying and birthing three people.

It has embraced and learned from others every single day, and miraculously, kept working with relatively few problems for just over 42 years. Indeed, through none of my own doing, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139:14).

It’s taken me a long time to say it boldly, but I LOVE my body. And I’ll keep on using those medieval-looking machines to show my gratitude – by taking care of it.


Day 22 – Who’s Calling?

The phone rings.  Thank goodness for Caller ID.  It tells me the caller is “Unavailable.” I roll my eyes. We get too many of these calls.

It used to be that no one had a choice; we all had no idea who was on the other end of the line when we picked up a ringing phone.  But today, technology is demystifying almost everything. Even the political calls I got earlier this month were each labeled, “Political Call.”

“So,” I want to ask this caller, “why should I listen to you – someone who won’t identify himself?”

I would only ask hypothetically, of course, because the truth is, I’m not going to pick up this call, or any other “Unavailable” or “Political Call” coming my way. I mean, why does anyone want to talk to someone who won’t reveal what he’s about and what he wants? That sounds kind of dangerous, doesn’t it?

About 10 years ago, this is how I thought of God, and frankly, I was ok with that.  I believed in a benevolent being and knew a few Bible stories, but the idea of pursuing a relationship with God sounded freakish and threatening.  And there was a lot I just couldn’t square – like how the God of the Old Testament had anything to do with the God of the New.  The heart of the issue was this – keeping Him at a distance seemed safer than asking questions that would give me more information about Him, because if I dared ask, I might find something that turned me upside down.

Like what, you ask?

– Like answers that cleared up confusion I had about His story

– Like a new way of understanding my own past

– Like people in Scripture I can relate to (who would have thought?)

– Like peace and wholeness I could not explain

But I eventually, tentatively entered into the conversation because He had been nudging me for a very long while – piquing my curiosity through my interests in literature, art, and places I’d visited around the world. He’d also made my path cross with certain people, sparked conversations that left me wondering, and whispered truths to me that my soul recognized instantly.

Now I understand. He just wanted me to come home.  He cares for me and protects me, and always has, even when I didn’t acknowledge Him. And now I’m so, so thankful that I finally accepted His call.