Popular Posts

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Why a Blog? I've learned in life you will not become the person God wants you to become unless you comfront your past and learn from its history, then let the Lord use it for His glory.

 I joined facebook the other day for many reasons. Wanting to keep up with friends far away, find old friends and "family and friends" that are in my life daily.. well, hopefully facebook will connect us more often during our weekly routines in which life takes us daily. This journey of finally signing up to facebook also prompted me to start a blog. Hoping to share my faith journey as I continue to grow and learn about my Lord every day. Facebook has its limits when we want to share our most intimate details in life and hopefully this blog will create a space to share my Jesus with you.
 I started out my Christian journey as an infant when my parents baptized me in the Methodist Church. This was only the beginning and it continues to grow each day. My journey has been much like a tree, beginning as a seedling. The seed needed lots of love and water along the way and times of growth were stunted during many spells of droughts in my life. I hope to share many things here in the blog spot. I will love to hear your thought and inputs in this journey of faith. Keep in mind I am still growing and have so much to learn. My Christian journey took me into the Catholic Church three years ago and the Graces are special in my life. I will start with posting some things I have written the past few years... hope this will catch you up and I will continue to add to this Blog when I feel the inspiration bug calling my name.  In Him, Julie

IN HIS TIME / Finding the One

 I self published my first book in August 2009 called
"Finding the One" In His Time. Does God have a special
plan for us in finding a mate? A three+year project in searching
scripture, asking folks the question (does He have a plan?). 
Started the book not knowing an answer to the question myself
to conclude the book.
I finished the book and feel good about the results in which
I came to a conclusion. A few inserts below of my book.

                    There Are Many Shades of Green
    This world in which we live is a complex place and is not always easy to know which direction to go or what is truth? This book is composed with the knowledge of truth that I have discovered in my small world. If we compare it to an early summer drive in the country, after a long period of spring rain. The colors are so alive with life and the dimension of each shade, though the same color is different from the others.  My mother has commented many times during a summer’s drive, “Look at the trees and all the different shades of green they bare, for an artist to paint this they must see all the shades of green."  Not only greens, Our Creator designed blues, reds, yellows, purples, and the list goes on. How did God maker of heaven and earth create so many shades of green? The colors of our world are such a small part to life, but they are so enormous in number, with each shade making the world go around. Have we even taped into them all and identified them by name? I know paint companies are still finding new colors everyday.

                             Love as a Wild Assault

One of my favorite books as a young adult was based on a true story called “Love as a Wild Assault."  Harriett Potter a women whose life drama unfolded in the piney woods of east Texas, a pioneer lady.  As a child I grew up running through the same woods her drama unfolded and I connected to her story. She was a brave woman and endured much hardship in life before, during and after the war between Texas and Mexico. She is very much apart of the history when Texas became a state. Her hardships were a byproduct of wrong choices she made as young women. In her senior years she became very close to a granddaughter. This granddaughter reminded her of herself as a young lady. Harriett’s love for her granddaughter was the driving force to write her memoirs in hopes she would not make the same foolish mistakes she had as a young lady. Harriett in her old age would write as time allowed each day, and then stuff her writing into her feather mattress. She instructing her granddaughter occasionally on how to clean the mattress and then made her granddaughter promise to clean it in the future, the day before she married. That day finally came and her granddaughter found her beloved grandmother’s writings in the feather mattress. What a treasure to find!
This past 10 months my questionnaire has become a treasure to me as well. Some of my elder relative’s who would not fill out the questionnaire, though participated and blessed me with their stories in conversation in how they found “the one”.  We reminisce about how it was way back in their days. All these family members I admire and the longevity of each ones marriage has given me some good material for this book. History is so much apart of whom we are today (good and bad). When we look at the history of the United States and how our forefathers fought for freedom, we see the result today. When I look at the questionnaires and the history of several generations I see the result today. My oldest family member to partake in my questionnaire was 93 years old. This gave me a glimpse of almost 100 years of how the different generations found “the one”. They even shared with me how their parents “found the one”. I really think we can learn from each generation. Each one has something to say; we can learn from their mistakes, triumphs, hardships, victories and what made it happen or not. We live today in a broken world when it comes to the game of marriage and family. No time in our history has divorce and single parenting been the norm. No time in history has crime, drugs, porn, alcoholism, crisis pregnancies been the forefront in our daily lives. Morals are on a decline and they have been for sometime. I will own up to my part and what my generation did for this decline in morals. I was part of the 1960’s-70’s generation when I was a teen.  What does this all have to do with “finding the one”? EVERYTHING!
Diversity is a really cool word today. Companies are starting diversity class for its employees. Diversity is changing the work place and making it a place of security for their employees. The word diversity is being used in politics, social issues and even schools are putting it in their curriculum. The word diverse means; of different kind, diversify; to introduce variety into, to vary. This is all good and it is helping with tolerance. I want to make this very clear I do think this has over all been a “good” thing. 
I also know just like the shades of green that our world is diversified in religion and culture.  I can not speak for other religions or cultures, only Christianity and my roots of growing up in Northern Louisiana. The world is so big and this book is to not judge any faiths or cultures. This book is about my faith and culture and for those who live or claim my stake or part of this very diverse planet. I am a believer in Christ. Just like the shades of green, “Christianity is diversified”. Many reason for this division and that would take another book or series of books that could encompass volumes that would fill the largest library in the world.  My faith is simple and I truly believe that if we could put all our difference aside, seek God in prayer, read His Word daily for guidance and stay connected to the Body of our Lord the “Church” could be a stronger influence for the planet. I have been a Christian for over 34+ years and I am saddened by how many who claim to be “Christian” have never picked up a Bible, the multitudes that have never attended a Bible study, never had a prayer life, claim to be a Christian and do not know who Christ really is according to His word. I’ve listen to several  “resumes”, concerning Christian credential over the years, “Oh I am a Baptist or a Methodist”, “We are Catholics, my family has been Catholic for generations”, “My Mom and Dad are Presbyterian and I was raised Presbyterian”,   so what! Affiliation to a church or your parent’s church is not being a Christian. Look up the word Christianity in the dictionary and it reads; being a Christian, belief that Christ was the incarnate son of God. How can you claim to be a “Scout” if you never attend the meetings and work on the scout badges? The belief that Christ was the incarnate son of God is the definition of a Christian though Satan believes this too. Satan is inspired by those who claim the belief and the multitudes that have never earned a badge or entered a church door. It makes his life easy.
 So, what does this have to do with dating, marriage or “finding the one in His time?”  Be patience, I will bring this all together hopefully in “His Time”.   I want you to understand my foundation in Christ, who I am in Christ.  I am a sinner redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, I need His Grace daily, that only comes from Him, that helps me walk in His truth, not perfect but trying to finish the race He started in me so that one day it might be complete.   I want you to remember one thing as you continue to read this book. I am not the same person I was 34+ years ago. My faith in Christ, how I see morals and values today is my testimony of where I was 34+ years ago. My testimony is about a God that loved me just where I was, baggage and all, Jesus expected nothing from me except to trust Him.  Did not have to clean up my act, run down and join the local church, give up all my unhealthy vices or even clean up my language. He loved me just as I was, unconditionally, no stings attached. He had no reason to love me. I was the most unlovable, self center, selfish, spoiled rotten, lazy unfocused person He ever created. This is my opinion.  I can still remember the love Christ poured out in buckets when I finally gave up and said “Yes”.  “Yes, I can not do it alone anymore”, “yes, I will trust you”, “yes, I know I have messed things up in my life”, “yes, I believe”! I believe you are my Savior, the Christ Child, the promise One, who our Heavenly Father so freely gave that we might have life, eternal life. This surrender of “yes, yes and yes” happen seven years after I confessed Jesus Christ as Lord. I was a stubborn one and it took awhile to stop doing it my way. The buckets of love and encouragement He poured out when I finally surrendered it all gave me hope, a hope for a future. I was so hungry to continue in this state of unconditional love and feeling His presence. I had never experience anything like it before and have not to this day. My circumstance concerning my messed up life did not change over night it took years, but I now had a peace and a reassurance in time my Lord was taking me out of Egypt to taste the promise land. I opened a Bible for the first time to learn about my new love. I had my Daddy’s Bible that I used. My Dad had died 9 years early when I was 14. I started reading the Bible, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth."  I look back to that time and rejoice in that unconditional love that was being poured out in “buckets” buckets of living water flowing into my broken spirit. It was real and it is still real today as it was then. I have had many challenges in life, good and bad. I have had successes and failures, lose of love ones, disappointments, great opportunities, ups and downs. Life is not fair at times, but there is one thing I will never loose, because nothing can take it from me. It is my testimony in knowing I am loved by My Heavenly Father. As the old hymn goes, “He walks with me and He talks with me and He tells me I am His own." Just like Harriet Potter I hope future generations especially my children and hopefully their children will learn from an old crooked road my Lord took me as I pen from my heart.


A question that came up a few weeks ago at a Bible Study we attend and then being snowed in a few day later started me writing and pondering. The discussion was about Judas, the disciple who betrayed Christ and the different inputs made me question myself and look into what the church teaches. Discussion: Is Judas in Hell?
This is what I found out and also did a little more research on my own.

Is Judas in Hell? The Catholic Church teaching on this question is; the church has no opinion and uses Matthew 7: 1-3 Stop judging that you may not be judge. For as you judge so will you be judged, and the measure will be measured out to you.

When I learned about the Catholic Church’s answer to this question, I wanted to understand more about this matter. I then went to some Catholic websites to get a bigger picture. The following are discussions going on in these sites. Seems other folks have the same question. The questions are answered by the staff of Catholic Answers.

Catholic Answer website: www.catholicanswer.com

Since Judas's betrayal of Jesus likely was a grave sin, why did Jesus give him Communion at the Last Supper? Or had Judas left the table by that point?      

If Judas did receive Communion—as Scripture appears to indicate (Lk 22:19-23)—then there may be any number of reasons why Christ allowed it even though he had already been plotting Christ’s betrayal (Lk 22:3-4). Two possibilities include: Christ may have hoped that the grace of Communion ultimately could save Judas’s soul. Judas did indeed feel remorse for what he did (Mt 27:3-4), although he chose the wrong means to demonstrate that remorse (Mt 27:5). Or perhaps Christ respected Judas’s free will, just as he respects our free will, and so did not deny Judas Communion even though he apparently did not have faith that it was Christ’s body and blood (Jn 6:66-71).

Since we know that the only sin that is not forgiven is the sin against the Holy Spirit, could Judas Iscariot have sought forgiveness instead of falling into despair and hanging himself?      

Yes, of course. Bishop Fulton Sheen, in his book Life of Christ, devoted a chapter to the betrayal by Judas, contrasting it with the betrayal by Peter—with which it was similar in some respects—and concluding that the tragedy of Judas’s life was that even after the betrayal he could have been St. Judas Iscariot if only he had repented instead of despaired. The sin against the Holy Spirit, the one that cannot be forgiven, is the sin of final impenitence. God can forgive any repented sin, but man must repent of his sins before he can be forgiven. As only God can judge hearts, we cannot know whether Judas was impenitent to his very death, but we can know that he did not demonstrate the heroic virtue of Peter, who repented his betrayal of Christ rather than allow despair to consume him.

Did Judas go to hell?      

Jesus said, "Woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born" (Matt. 26:24). While this statement implies that Judas’s final destination was hell, it cannot be known whether or not he repented of his sins before his death, and so it cannot be said with certainty that he is in hell.

The reading below was on the same site:
In recent years there has arisen a movement that might be called "neo-universalism," according to which it may be that all men, without exception, go to heaven. Advocates of this movement often say things like, "The Church does not teach that anyone is in hell," and they cite statements from Church leaders and documents which sound—taken out of context—as if they teach this. If one reads the documents carefully, it is clear that the Church is not saying that no one at all is in hell but that it has not taught that any particular individual is in hell.
In Luke's Gospel, Jesus is asked, "Lord, will those who are saved be few?" He replies by stating, "Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able" (Luke 13:23-24). Given the question that prompts it, Jesus' answer cannot be interpreted to mean anything other than that many will not be saved. There is nothing conditional about the question or Jesus' answer. He does not say, "If someone does this then he will be damned" or "Anyone who does this will be damned." He says that there are many who fail to enter—and the context is salvation.
Finally, although the Church does not teach that any particular individual is in hell, I believe that Scripture indicates that Judas Iscariot is in hell. (I acknowledge that other orthodox commentators may disagree on this point.) Jesus says, "The Son of man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had .not been born" (Matt. 26:24). If Judas ended up in heaven rather than hell, it would be difficult to see how it would have been better for him not to have been born. Going through any amount of temporal pain and disgrace is not worth comparing to the joys of heaven (Rom, 8:18), and, if Judas went to heaven, matters still came out infinitely to his benefit. Only if Judas went to hell, it seems to me, would it have been better for him not to have been born.  
After searching the web I decided to look up scripture concerning this subject and find my conclusion in this topic.
What does scripture say about judging and judgment?
Matthew: 3: 28-29 Amen, I say to you, all sins and all blasphemies that people utter will be forgiven them. But whoever blasphemes against the holy spirit will never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an everlasting sin.
Romans 14:13 Then let us no longer judge one another, but rather resolve never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.
James 4:12 There is one lawgiver and judge who is able to save or to destroy. Who then are you to judge your neighbor?
2 Tim. 4: 1-5 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingly power: proclaim the word: be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient: convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching. For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to truth and will be diverted to myths.
1 Cor. 4:3 It does not concern me in the least that I be judged by you or any human tribunal; I do not pass judgment on myself; I am not conscious of anything against me, but I do not thereby stand acquitted; the one who judges me is the Lord.
Romans 2: 15-16 They show that the demands of the law are written in their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even defend them on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge people’s hidden works through Christ Jesus.
What does scripture say about Judas?
Luke 22: 1- 5   Now the feast of Unleavened Bread, called the Passover, was drawing near, and the chief priest and the scribes were seeking a way to put him to death, for they were afraid of the people. Then Satan entered into Judas, the one surnamed Iscariot, who was counted among the Twelve, and he went to the chief priests and temple guards to discuss a plan for handing him over to them. They were pleased and agreed to pay him money. He accepted their offer and sought a favorable opportunity to hand over to them in the absence of a crowd.
Luke 22 19- 22 Then he took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them saying, ‘This is my body, which will be given up for you; do this in memory of me. And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying “This cup is the new covenant in my body, which will be shed for you. And yet behold, the hand of the one who is to betray me is with me on the table; for the Son of Man indeed goes as it has been determined; but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed.
Matthew 27 3- 9 Then Judas his betrayer, seeing that Jesus had been condemned, deeply regretted what he had done. He returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying: I have sinned in betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? Look to it yourself.” Flinging the money into the temple, he departed and went off and hanged himself. The chief priest gathered up the money, but said, “ It is not lawful to deposit this in the temple treasury, for it is the price of blood.” After consultation, they used it to buy the potter’s field as a burial place for foreigners. That is why that field even today is called Field of Blood. Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah the prophet, “ And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the value of a man with a price on his head, a price set by some of the Israelites, and they paid it out for the potter’s field just as the Lord had commanded me.”
Acts 1 15- 20 During those days Peter stood up in the midst of the brothers ( there was a group of about 120 in the one place). He said, “ My brothers, the scripture had to be fulfilled which the holy Spirit spoke beforehand through the mouth of David, concerning Judas, who was the guide for those who arrested Jesus. He was numbered among us and was allotted a share in this ministry. He bought a parcel of land with the wages of his iniquity, and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle, and all his insides spilled out. This became known to everyone who live in Jerusalem, so that the parcel of land was called in their language ‘Akeldama,’ that is, Field of Blood. For it is written in the Book of Psalms: ‘Let his encampment become desolate, and may no one dwell in it.’
My thoughts after looking at Catholic websites and the scriptures:
As we say at Mass: “Lord have Mercy, Christ have Mercy.” I cannot judge Judas any more than I can judge my neighbor. God is the JUDGE. I agree with the church teaching on this subject. I have no opinion. But, as I read the story of Judas in scripture it saddens me that a man who walked, talked and ate with our Lord could fall so far from grace. Showing me how important our Christian journey is and applying the scripture, Php 2:12-13 Therefore my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.                                                                                                                                                                                                           Do not get me wrong here, I am a firm believer in Ehp. 2: 8  it is by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God; it is not works, so no one may boast. For we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God prepared in advance, that we should live in them.                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Yes, Christ bought my salvation on Calvary. I cannot earn it, nor do I deserve it. Though this statement does not eliminate this scripture, James 2: 14-17 20-26  What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and in lack of daily food and one of you say to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. 20-26 Do you want to be shown, you foolish fellow (that is you ignoramus), that faith apart from works is barren? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works and faith was completed by works and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘ Abraham believed God and it was reckoned to him as righteousness’; and he was called the friend of God. You see that man is justified by works and not by faith alone. And in the same way was not also Rahab the harlot justified by works when she received the messengers and spent them another way? For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so faith apart from works is dead?
When I think of Judas’s life I conclude with these last scriptures, I ask for God’s grace and help so that I may apply them to my faith journey and use Judas’s story as a reminder:
Hebrew 10 : 26 If we sin deliberately after receiving knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains sacrifice for sins but a fearful prospect of judgment and a flaming fire that is going to consume the adversaries.
Hebrews 6: 4-6
For it is impossible in the case of those who have once been enlightened and tasted the heavenly gift and shared in the holy Spirit and tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then fallen away, to bring them to repentance again, since they are recrucifying the Son of God for themselves and holding him up to contempt.
Jesus’ own words in Matthew 24: 10-13 And then many will be led into sin; they will betray and hate one another. Many false prophets will arise and deceive many; and because of the increase of evil doing, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who perseveres to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the world as a witness to all nations, and then the end will come.
Well sorry for the long winded reflection… That’s what happens, when I get snowed in and no place to run.
In Him, Julie

A Christmas Letter Summer 2010

Dear All,
Felt led to share my journey of faith as it unfolded this summer.
End of June, Jim was laid-off from his job with 6 weeks pay. Oh my, was my faith tested and gave me a chance to sit back and really examine the important things in life. Six weeks of pay, how far will that take us before we will have to start using everything we have saved for retirement? Jim’s age was a concern. Last time he seriously had to look for a job (hated the one he was in) it took a year. The news every night paints a picture of many in our Nation who cannot find work. Boy was that in the back of my mind continually as well as the fact we now live in Arkansas, land of not many opportunities. I also thought about my grandparent’s and parent’s generation. They grew up in the depression with their luxury being the food on the table at each meal. My grandparent’s never made big corporate salaries, lived in simple homes (paid for), they owned one car they shared, (no frills & paid cash for it) never had a credit card, died with money in the bank and money to bury them. Very few women worked in those days and today most American families have a hard time making ends meet on two salaries.
I thought of all the stuff we have bought over the years that were wants and not needs. Have to “have” and really could have lived without it just fine. If we had lived like my grandparents, I am sure we would be billionaires today.                                                     
Our world tells us we need the latest fashion, IPods’, designer tennis shoes, granite counter tops, leather furniture, boats, television in every room of the house, big screen, surround sound, and on and on.
Jim and I have built our own little castle and if he cannot find a job, all this “stuff”, all of a sudden, seemed to feel more like bondage.
A friend of mine that just got back from a mission trip has been remodeling her home. She has remodeled with top of the line, every aspect you could dream about, the latest, grandest fixtures, appliances, hardwood, granite, tile and decorated every room like it was built for a queen. She has one more room to go, her master bath. She went to Belize on her mission trip with a team of doctors, dentist, hygienist and dental assistants. They ministered to 4,000 people. They pulled teeth and they witnessed every illness you can think of. For 10 days they worked non-stop and treated these desperate poor people with the limited supplies they had. They stayed in a compound with no A/C, no running water, mosquitoes pestering them continuously, and filth everywhere. My friend has never seen conditions like this in her entire life and then lived in it for 10 days. As she is telling me this story I am beginning to think she was sorry she went. So I asked her, “Sounds like you were in hell and wish you never went?” “No!!” was her reply, “It was the best experience I ever have done in my life. It showed me how blessed our nation is and you know my Master Bath? When I came home it was the most beautiful bathroom I have ever seen and I could care less if it ever gets remolded.”
This is where the Lord finally took me a few days after the shock of this lay-off. We start with nothing in this world and we sure won’t be taking it with us when he calls us home. If we are to go down with the ship, “It is well with my soul”. To be truly honest with you my prayer was “help me Lord to accept the things I cannot change and show me ways I need to change.”
We are blessed and we only went three weeks not knowing what our future held. We only knew who held our future. The three weeks seemed like six month, but in the end Jim’s ex-employer wanted him back, they pulled some strings (really God was pulling them) and he is back with his old company.
I am humbled by the outcome of our story because so many in our Nation are out of work. I pray that things will turn around, but I know it is going to take sacrifice for it to happen. We have all become the McDonald’s generation… We want it now and we do not have the patience to wait. I know through this experience He showed me the ways I need to change. I will ask myself more often when I go buy something, “Lord is this a want or a need?” This was our valley we walked through this summer and praise my Lord, He carried us. Though my story is not over, for He then carried us to the mountain top, the summit.
The month of August for many of us has been very busy; vacation, getting ready for school, getting married. The list goes on. Our month of August turned out to be a time of rest & a time we escaped the world to learn more about our Lord Jesus. I have felt like I have been on the mountain of transfiguration with Jesus, Moses & Elijah.   Occasionally hollering down to Peter, “Yes, please do build the tent around all of us… because I do not want to come down.”
Starting out this spiritual journey, our family went to the Catholic Charismatic Conference in Little Rock with great speakers; Our Bishop Taylor was there with his family which included his parents, siblings, nieces & nephews. This was the last day of the conference when they attended. They were all there because that week-end he was celebrating 30 years as a Priest.
Jim and I then traveled up to Eureka Springs to Little Portion Retreat Center and spent a weekend with Michael Card discussing the Book of Luke. Folks from Canada, Michigan, Ohio, Florida, Colorado & other parts drove many miles for the retreat. We were the only ones from Arkansas. Great time!
Last week I went with Jim on a business trip to Huntsville, AL. We drove it and my plans were, while he works, I get to play & visit some old friends. We lived in Huntsville 6 years & still kept up with a few friends there.  About 45 minutes outside of Huntsville I saw a sign… big sign… Shrine of the Most Holy Sacrament. We were ahead of schedule and I asked him to follow that sign. Did not know what it was that and my adventurous spirit wanted to know. After 19 miles of nothing, Jim is getting a little annoyed I took him off our Huntsville destination. He is picturing a shrine of stacked rocks with a cross that someone built and 19 and 19 is almost 40 miles we will have driven to see stacks of rocks. Then all of a sudden out of nothing, nowhere…  was this most beautiful place. On 380 acres of isolated farmland encircled by the Mulberry fork of the Warrior River sits The Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament. In 1996 Mother Angelica, who started EWTN, visited Bogota, Columbia and while praying next to a statue of the Child Jesus had a vision or word from God. “Build me a temple and I will help those who help me.” When she returned from her trip, she began looking for land in Alabama. She found over 300 acres that belonged to a 90-year old lady and her children. They were not Catholics, but when Mother Angelica told her what she wanted the land to build a temple for Jesus, the lady responded, "That's a good enough reason for me."
December 19, 1999: Consecration of the Shrine took place - in the Bible Belt, where Baptists are the majority and Catholics are only 2 percent of the population. I used the term Bible Belt in a restaurant in Alabama & the manager corrected me “It’s the Bible Zipper.”
Five donors paid for the property, all the construction costs, and materials.  This is a miracle. The architecture is 13th Century.  Mother Angelica wanted the marble, gold, and cedar for the temple that God commanded David to build him in the Bible.  The ceramic tile came from South America, the stones from Canada, and the bronze from Madrid, Spain. The floors, columns, and pillars are made of marble.  There is a rare red Jasper marble from Turkey that was used for the red crosses in the floor of the temple.  The wood for the pews, doors, and confessionals was from cedar imported from Paraguay.  Spanish workers came to build the doors. The stain glass windows were imported from Munich, Germany. The Statutes of the Stations of the Cross were hand-carved.
One of the most striking parts of the temple is the gold leaf wall.  There is an eight foot stand with gold plated top for the consecrated host. Two nuns pray in 1 to 1 1/2 hour shifts 24 hours a day behind the gold leaf wall in the temple.  The cloistered nun’s purpose is to pray and worship Jesus. They pray for those who don't pray for themselves. The nuns stay focused on silence, solitude and prayer. 
Jim and I were both touched by our Lord at this place. You knew you were on Holy Ground. You could feel Shekinah Glory “Yahweh’s Presence”. I was overwhelmed by it all and before we went and entered the temple to pray before the Most Blessed Sacrament, I called my Aunt to share with her this journey, only to find out my Uncle was in intensive care, again. He is my second Dad and he has had heart disease for 20 years – 2 bypass surgeries, stints, balloons… you name it he has had it. For six months now his heart has kept him in the hospital numerous times – in and out of intensive care. The several Cardiologists who have cared for him have been going in circles trying to figure out what to do for him. They have told us, surgically nothing can be done. The area of the heart that is causing the problem contains vessels and arteries that are very small. Medicine is the only hope, and the medicine was not helping.
I entered this Holy Place with a heavy heart, but got as close as I could to the Eucharist and looked upon the Host. I knew Jesus was with me. I shared with Him my heart and a peace filled my spirit and I knew whatever the outcome was I trusted it and knew He was with us.
I learned later, a few hours before I was on my knees at the Shrine, a nurse came into my Uncle’s room and told him about a Cardiologist in Ft Worth that might be able to help. So while I was on my knees my uncle’s Cardiologist came to his hospital room & gave the okay to transport him from intensive care to Ft Worth. This was Wednesday afternoon. Friday afternoon my uncle went into surgery and 2 stints were placed in this area of the heart that no other doctor would tackle. Sunday morning my uncle was at his Parish worshipping his Lord.
Why do I want to share this with you? 1 Thessalonians 5:10-11; He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
Sr. Ann Shields who spoke at the Charismatic Conference has many Catholic Books and DVDs out there. I bought a DVD of hers titled “The Fruit of Suffering In Our Lives”. Very good DVD. One thing in the DVD that stood out and spoke to me the most was this statement: “Most Catholics do not like the word evangelize. It threatens them in so many ways.  But in the whole scope of this world we live in, we are all being evangelized. Who is evangelizing you? Is it the television, the media, the Internet, your peers, your friends, or is it your Catholic Faith?  Parents, I ask you the same question, who is evangelizing your children?
As most of you know I am a new Catholic. I was baptized as an infant in the Methodist Church, married in the Presbyterian Church and grew in my personal relationship with Jesus in many Protestant churches that I have attended over the years. Do you know every time I dip my hands in the holy water as I enter a Catholic Church, I thank my parents for that act of obedience to God they did for my own personal journey to start life as an infant in the Christian faith? To say that I am Catholic today is not, in no way, saying to you or anyone, “I am a convert to Catholicism.” I have been on a journey of conversion, growing in my Christian faith since the day my parents baptized me in the name of the Father, Son & Holy Spirit. Christianity is a lifetime of one’s journey in growing and knowing we are only here for a speck when you take into account, eternity.
On your Confirmation day you said to Jesus, “I will follow You.” We are to pick up our cross and follow Him; to learn about Him, to grow in Him and to help others know this treasure we carry in our hearts and this treasure we partake of every time we come to Mass.
This August 2010 I will always have fond memories of the special times I shared with my Jesus and so many others in the Body of Christ. Life is full of mountain tops and valleys. I look forward to the next summit. I end with James 1:4; Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
I encourage you all, rise up in the valley, get involved and seek the summits Jesus has for you. God Bless.


My Journey:
Looking back in my Christian walk of over 30 years, I can now see my steps into the Catholic Church as a reflection of the poem “Footprints in the Sand”. My feet have traveled into many Christian denominations the past 30 years, such as Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian USA, PCA, Assembly of God, Non-denomination and Bible Church. My footprints and Jesus’ prints were side by side for several of those years. Then somewhere during those years (for many years) I looked down and I could only see one set of prints, thinking they were mine and I was alone in this journey.  My love for Jesus was so real in my life, but why could I not feel at peace in the church? I felt alone in this walk and began to think just maybe something was wrong with me. Now, I see that they were Jesus’ footprints carrying me into the Catholic Faith.   Fifteen years ago my faith was challenged in the church I attended in which I was a member. I was hurt deeply and this was when my journey into the Catholic faith began, not having a clue this is where my journey would end.  Fifteen years ago “Catholic” was not in my vocabulary. My search for a new church began after I was hurt and my feet trotted to many denominations with no peace to be found. A place of worship “one on one”, worship with my Lord, was my heart’s desire. An anointed sermon and music (praise & worship) was my agenda, and yes I found this in many churches I attended.  I also loved to study the Word of God. A good study was encouraging as well. Good sermons, good music and good teaching meant a good church. I traveled into several “Jesus and Me” churches. Then somewhere on my journey, some things just did not add up right. I was confused and challenged by the different “truths” that were being taught. One of my greatest hurdles was the PCA (Presbyterian Church of America). The teaching of John Calvin from the post reformation period really challenged my faith. The predestination theology was a big influence in my journey to discover the history of the church. Up to then in my Christian walk, I was living in the now and never realizing the church of Jesus Christ had 2,000 years of history. The PCA encouraged me to read about the reformation and how Luther, Calvin and John Wesley changed the course of history concerning the church of Jesus Christ. Still, after I read Calvin’s theology it was not balanced with the totality of the Bible. It confused me even more and if we were predestined, then why should I even pray? I also got a lot of negative opinions about the Catholic faith during this time of searching. Always hearing about the bad history and not realizing the Catholic Faith had a 2,000 year old history compared to a 500 year history of most main stream Protestant churches, I needed to discover its humble beginning with Jesus as the Foundation and His Apostles being commissioned by Him as the builders. How did the building of this faith start? Who was in charge? What was the theology of the early church? Did it have a theology? I knew the New Testament was not available for more than 300 years into the church history. How was the faith taught and who was teaching it after the Apostles died? With no New Testament Bible how did the church keep this Christian faith from heresies?  How do I find these answers to all my questions?

My Uncle and Aunt journeyed into the Catholic Faith in the early 90’s. They shared with me their journey from time to time, not to convert, but just to share what they were experiencing.  Rives and Penny attended many “Life in the Spirit” retreats and even traveled to the Holy Lands with a Catholic group. They always came back from each event full, complete and with a joy for this new found spiritual experience.They invited me to several Catholic Charismatic Conventions during the 90’s and I enjoyed them, but I was not Catholic and really did not desire to be one. They would on occasion hear a good teaching on tape, such as Scott Hahn, and sent it to me to hear. “That was nice”, I would always reply.

I love music and “worship music” is my favorite. In the mid 90’s I ordered a Christian CD by John Michael Talbot, not knowing anything about him. I loved it.  I bought more of his CD’s and begin to learn he was Catholic; hummmm. In my journey there have been times that the music of John Michael Talbot was my only source of worship. I realize now the words he sang were historical to the church teaching and the faith of my Lord. The Holy Spirit would always comfort my soul with the prayers and truth John Michael composed in his music.

In 2004 my husband’s job relocated our family to Magnolia, AR; heart of the “Bible Belt” and where there is a Baptist Church on every corner.  Our move was a new start in a new town and just maybe we could finally find a church. We started visiting all the churches in our area that we could relate to; Non-denominational, Baptist, Assembly of God and etc. We visited most all except the Catholic Church. This was still not an option. Two years came and went and we still could not claim a church as home.
I ordered a book written by John Michael Talbot during this time called “The Joy of Music Ministry” thinking it was all about worship music. I soon discovered it was about sacraments, sacred music, liturgy, the Catholic Mass and how the Mass brings you into worship with God the Father and Jesus Christ our Lord and the Holy Spirit. I also found a new station on television called EWTN; Journey Home, Fr. Mitch, Scott Hahn, The World Over, Mother Angelica, Threshold of Hope and Abundant Life.

I argued for several months with my Lord, when I knew the Holy Spirit was saying “try the Catholic Church”. I would say “Lord we are in Baptist County. No one probably goes to the Catholic Church”.  Being a Protestant all my life and listening to views the Protestant’s held concerning the Catholic Church was a tremendous hurdle for me. Pride was a factor as well. For about one year EWTN was a place I learned about the Catholic faith. The grace of God opened my heart and I became hungry for more. I wanted fellowship with believers of this faith to discuss and learn about it. The Lord kept encouraging me to just visit the local Catholic Church. To be honest, I was scared of the outcome. What if it did not work out? This meant “I had not heard God’s voice”.  I was very tired and longed for a church I could call home.  I finally surrendered to the direction I felt sure my Lord was sending me.

I drove by the little Catholic Church several times and even stopped once. It was locked up and nobody was there. The church sign gave information concerning the times of Mass; Thursday at 6:00pm and Sunday at 10:00am.  My thoughts were “I guess I will have to show up at a Mass” and we finally did. Our first few visits would have probably been our last visits had we been visiting a Protestant Church. The priest is from Africa and we could not understand a word he was saying (I have over time taught my ears to understand & know this priest is God’s instrument for this Parish). There was no choir, no wonderful dramatic worship music playing.  I do have to say one thing about the music there. Two different ladies   (they take turns) with servant’s hearts play the organ and though they might not have the tools of a choir, musical instruments, power point songs and high tech speakers, they are faithful. We sang hymns about; One Body, One Church, One Eucharist and One Lord. We also sang scriptures such from Psalms, Old and New Testament. With the soft playing of the organ in a slow timely manner the hymns became prayers (Be still and know that I am God). St. Augustine said, “he who sings, prays twice.” Quote taken from The Joy Of Music Ministry.

The Lord’s Grace has been my walking stick in this journey and a peace to continue moving forward. For the first time in my journey it was not about me and I had to trust.

A few weeks into this new journey, a young man of the church who is the “educational organizer” invited us to a small group called Why Catholic.  My foundation about the Catholic Faith so far was built on trusting God (blind trust), EWTN, The Joy Of Music Ministry and things my uncle and aunt had shared with me about the teachings of the Catholic Faith.  I had a lot of questions about how this faith lined up with the word of God.  Why Catholic was a wonderful starting place. I came to realize that I was not the only one who did not understand the faith. Why Catholic challenged the cradle Catholics on “why am I Catholic”. I had the honor last spring to facilitate a group at my home. We did the first six chapters in “The Celebration of the Christian Mystery”. Facilitating gave me the opportunity to attend the leadership class in Hope, AR. The Eucharist was the topic that evening. The teaching and discussion about the Eucharist during this class time reaffirmed what I was already learning. A lady present at the class shared with the group her testimony about receiving the Eucharist for the first time when she entered into the faith. She was a Jewish convert. With tears rolling down her cheeks, she shared the mystery of worship when she took of the present “Body & Blood” of her Risen Savior.  Her faith sharing touched me and gave witness to me that this is the worship I had been longing for.  
 It has been almost two years since my first visit to Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church.  I have discovered 2,000 years of tradition and church doctrine that is beautiful. The early Church Father’s writings confirm the teachings that are still being taught today in the Catholic faith. The history of these teachings has survived the test of time. I realize my journey is just now starting and I have so much more to learn.

I am now in RCIA and looking forward to “coming into the fullness” of the Catholic Faith this Easter, 2009.  Good preaching, good teaching, good music is all good and has a place in the church. It’s the “one on one” worship “The Mass” that feeds the soul. Thanks for letting me share my journey and praise The Lord I will be part of a church home Easter.                 In His Everlasting Love

A Love Letter To Jim

Dear Jim,
To the engineer in my life who thinks with the brain and analyzes how things fit together and makes them work. To the man in my life who has stood beside his wife and daughter as they became Catholic. I thanked my Lord the other day in prayer for reasons I do not understand “why” you have not followed me into the Catholic Faith. Because of this refusal, you have challenged me more in the deeper depths of this ancient faith. Had you not had this refusal to become Catholic, I would not have had the desire to understand and learn about the 2,000 year old history of the church and I am still learning. I would have not grown and learned as much as I have. (Thank-you!) You know why I said "yes" to the Catholic faith? Because it was my heart that did not put God in a box, to say “yes” to the sacraments and to say “yes” has given me strength in my journey.  Nothing can I compare this strength against in my 30+ years as I have toiled and failed my Lord many times. Your refusal has challenged me to study as a theologian and convinced me even more about the beauty of God’s plan for salvation.   My faith is no longer built on the pastor's message, the music, and a good Sunday school lesson because in time these things all wore off. These things very useful and helped build my Christian foundation in so many ways, I will always be grateful. Many years my foundation was shaken, tossed and blown here to there. I felt like I was stuck in neutral. His mercies were to be new every morning as the song goes. Where is His mercy and I felt like my testimony of growth was past tense? The miracles in the days gone by were a memory. I want to grow, get out of neutral and know You more, feel Your presence in worship and find a church I would know I was at home, this was my prayer for many, many years. I want to see You in my life and I want others to see You in me. This I have come to understand is a process of dying to the flesh. How do I get the power and strength in my life to move toward sanctification? Sure in the past I died to flesh many times, only to return again and again. Do not get me wrong I have not mastered dying to self, far from it. And I know you are much aware of this. The journey into the Catholic Faith and learning about the sacraments has taught me and shown me personally that the sacraments are an ongoing process (tool) in one’s life toward sanctification. If you open your heart to them and let the Holy Spirit guide you into this truth, you move toward the graces of God that do not stop giving. I choose to be a participant or not. It was a choice. Before I tell you what the sacraments have done for me I want to make this very clear. Christ died on the cross for me, you and everyone. It is the grace He pours out that works in the hearts of men and women to believe. To say “yes” to believe He is my Savior was His workings in my heart. To believe and have this power of faith in my life is my ticket to heaven. The ticket gets you into the gate but much is required. Christ said, “Take up your cross and follow me”. Many stand at the gate with ticket in hand and never take up the cross. As they stand, the powers of this world are enticing them to leave the journey they are in. The powers of this world are saying “you’ve got your ticket, come follow me on earth and you can use the ticket when you die, follow me and let the world renew your mind and be your lord. Have fun, who needs God now?” The ticket at the gate is not where scripture tells us to stand and wait for eternal life. To hold onto this ticket we do have to pick up our cross and follow Him. Much is required to grow in faith. Just like the website I sent you to read of Mark Mallet, he said it well:
DO you really want to see change in your life? Do you really want to experience the power of God that transforms and liberates one from the powers of sin? It doesn’t happen on its own. No more than a branch can grow unless it draws from the vine, or a newborn baby can live unless it suckles. New life in Christ through Baptism is not the end; it is the beginning. But how many souls think that that is enough!

In Baptism, we are made into a new creation. We are cleansed of sin and made whole. But it is as though we are born in the baptismal font. We are merely babes who must yet grow and mature…
…until we all attain to the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the extent of the full stature of Christ, so that we may no longer be infants, tossed by waves and swept along by every wind of teaching arising from human trickery, from their cunning in the interests of deceitful scheming. (Eph 4:13-14)
The terrible disease in the Church, particularly in the Western world, has been a complacency of faith, a maintenance of the status quo and almost a repulsion for anything that would challenge that. So long as you come to Mass on Sunday, you can pat yourself on the back and congratulate yourself for "doing more than most." If going to Mass were a ticket to Heaven, then by all means, why bother doing more?
But it’s not a ticket. In fact, for some, it will be an indictment—that after having been given so much, we have done so little. But, in truth, the sheep have also been offered little. The pulpits in many places have fallen silent on explaining the Catholic Faith; devotions, such as the Rosary, have been relegated to antiquity along with reverent liturgy and sacred art; and the Sacraments in some places have become something we do, rather than encounter. As a result, there has been a general loss of hunger for God, of passion for Truth, and zeal for souls; many Christians in the modern world have remained infants, and what’s most tragic, "infants, tossed by waves and swept along by every wind of teaching arising from human trickery…"
Having a clear faith, according to the credo of the Church, is often labeled as fundamentalism. Yet, relativism, that is, letting oneself be tossed and ‘swept along by every wind of teaching’, appears the sole attitude acceptable to today’s standards. —Cardinal Ratzinger (POPE BENEDICT XVI) pre-conclave Homily, April 18th, 2005
Becoming a Christian is not about becoming a member of some club, but completely changing the course of one’s life. It means a complete renovation of one’s lifestyle according to a new pattern, a new mode of being. Yes, it’s radical. It’s bloody radical! Because it was made possible by the shedding of Christ’s blood. Jesus died on the Cross to free you from the power of death so that you can truly live, be fully alive. A Man DIED for you. How can this be a little thing, a "nice" thing, a private thing? It is the thing. It should become the center of your life, the pivot of your thoughts, the force behind all your actions. If it’s not, then who are you? Are you really the man or woman God created you to be, or still an infant who has been swept away by the world?

I have written you already about having the Heart of God and becoming the Face of Love to others. But you are not just spirit and body; you also have a soul. It is that place where the will and intellect reside. To love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength (Deut 6:5) is to align your complete being with him. That means you should also put on the mind of Christ.
Jesus demonstrates what this means. When He was just a boy, Jesus suddenly left His parents:
After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions… (Luke 2:46)
If Jesus, the God-Man, found it necessary to seek out teachers and to find answers, how much more do we, whose minds are darkened by fallen human nature, need the light of knowledge to show us the path to take?
You have been told, O man, what is good, and what the LORD requires of you: only to do the right and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8)
What is right? What is good? We live in a world that showers us with condoms, birth control pills, reproductive technologies, alternative forms of marriage, abortion, and a growing list of ethical complexities. What is right? What is good? The Christian must put on the mind of Christ, because moral actions either produce life—or death. We need to turn off the television and begin to grow "in the knowledge of the Son of God" so that we may live.
So I declare and testify in the Lord that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds; darkened in understanding, alienated from the life of God because of their ignorance, because of their hardness of heart, they have become callous and have handed themselves over to licentiousness for the practice of every kind of impurity to excess. That is not how you learned Christ, assuming that you have heard of him and were taught in him, as truth is in Jesus, that you should put away the old self of your former way of life, corrupted through deceitful desires, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new self, created in God’s way in righteousness and holiness of truth. (Eph 4:17-24)

St. Paul’s vision of spiritual transformation is incarnational. He does not sit passively waiting for God to change him. Rather, he exhorts us to actively renew our minds.
Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect. (Rom 12:2)
So many Christians today are formed by Oprah Winfrey or the latest self-help guru rather than by their Mother, the Church. They listen to false teachers who tickle their ears with Da Vinci codes, speculation, and subtle deceptions rather than the truth that would set them free. They are sometimes like infants who prefer candy rather than healthy food.
Let no one deceive you with empty words… Although you should be teachers by this time, you need to have someone teach you again the basic elements of the utterances of God. You need milk, and not solid food. Everyone who lives on milk lacks experience of the word of righteousness, for he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those whose faculties are trained by practice to discern good and evil. (Eph 5:6; Heb 5:12-14)
We have to learn "by practice" to distinguish between good and evil. We do this, says St. Paul, by taking "every thought captive to obey Christ" (2 Cor 10:5). This filtering, however, is not a subjective process. Truth is not something we decide because "I prayed and thought about it." Truth is rooted in the natural law and in the moral revelation of Jesus, as given to His Church, and revealed through the Holy Spirit. Even the Spirit speaks only what has been given:
…when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears… (John 16:13).
The proclamation of Christ, the proclamation of the Kingdom of God presupposes listening to his voice in the voice of the Church. "Not speak on his own authority" means: to speak in the mission of the Church…—Cardinal Ratzinger (POPE BENEDICT XVI), The New Evangelization, Building the Civilization of Love; Address to Catechists and Religion Teachers, December 12, 2000

Having the mind of Christ is to have the mind of the Church. The mind of the Church is the mind of Christ. He is not divided from His Body as you cannot be divided in your thinking from the Head. But there is something deeper and more personal here. God wants to speak to you, in your heart (see God Speaks… to me?). To put on the mind of Christ is to above all come to know the mind of God—to know His Heart. This is remarkable, of course, because God wants to reveal His inmost being to you. He wants you to dwell in the regions of His Heart "that eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him" (1 Cor 2:9). He wishes to give you Wisdom, a wisdom that the world does not know. He wants every single one of His people to be a mystic. For a mystic is simply one who raises His eyes from the temporal into the eternal, who takes the time to look into the eyes of Love. This is possible, to one degree or another, for every single Christian. It is, in fact, our vocation:
…that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the holy ones what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Eph 3:17-19)
This knowledge will only come to you as, day by day, you seek first the Kingdom of God, spending regular time in prayer, opening your heart to the One who will speak to you. He will speak to you, above all, in His Word, the Sacred Scripture, which when received like a little child, has the power to change and transform you. But like a branch that must draw sap from the vine, or a baby, milk from its mother, you must actively dispose yourself to the contemplation of God through humility, prayer, and obedience.
Contemplation is a gaze of faith, fixed on Jesus. "I look at him and he looks at me"… Contemplation also turns its gaze on the mysteries of the life of Christ. Thus it learns the "interior knowledge of our Lord," the more to love him and follow him.Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2715
The Word of God—listening to and meditating on the Word of God is a daily encounter with "the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ". The Council "forcefully and specifically exhorts all the Christian faithful, especially those who live the religious life, to learn this sublime knowledge" (Dei Verbum 25). —Eduardo Cardinal Pironio, Prefect, The Contemplative Dimension of Religious Life, 4-7 March 1980; http://www.vatican.va/

My testimony of the Sacraments:
To confess my sins to a Priest and being accountable for my actions is a healer of my soul. As a Protestant to confess in the shadows of myself, I knew I was forgiven, though my soul was not healed. To know that Christ established the Priesthood to help me in this area of my journey gives me comfort.  Whatever is loosed on earth will be loosed in heaven. Confession of sin is a healer of my soul and also a growth process to help me in the process of sanctification, to help me move forward toward holiness. I must be Holy as God is Holy. Will I get to this state of Holiness here on earth? The graces of confession will help me in this earthly journey, but I am sure it will be finished in Heavenly places.                        
To look at marriage as a sacrament in my life has given me a new appreciation for what God foresaw for man and woman in this holy communion of two coming together as husband and wife in one’s personal Christian journey. To sacrifice self for someone is a special grace that helps you grow in holiness. The graces that come from Him in marriage are a miracle.  If one does not understand this they are doing all the work without Him, and this is why so many marriages fail today in our society. As I wrote to Josh and Mel in my book; know that marriage is a sacrament and you will receive its graces. Sacrament means an element God uses to draw you closer to Him and continues to refine us closer and closer to holiness. Eph. 5: 21-27 Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, be subject to your husband as you are to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife just as Christ is the head of the church, the body of Christ, so we also wives ought to be, in everything, to their husband. Husbands love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, in order to make her holy by cleansing with the washing of water by the word, so as to present the church to himself in splendor, without a spot or wrinkle or blemish. In the same way, husbands should love their wives as they do their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one hates his own body, but he nourishes and tenderly cares for it, just as Christ does for the church, because we are members of His body “for this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two will become one flesh. This is a great mystery, and I am applying it to Christ and the church.                                                                                                  If we take this scripture to heart, we both have failed greatly in this area and do not let God use this union of two people united as one in the power of the Trinity to receive the graces to help us grow in holiness. Areas I see we have both failed in this scripture; I have not "totally" let you be the Priest of our marriage, home and family and I am sorry. It is a trust issue that comes from the fact you fail as much as I do in this scripture. Make her holy by cleansing with the washing of water by the word, so as to present the church to himself in splendor, without a spot or wrinkle or blemish. You are to help me become holy and wash me with the word. What word? (just a thought) The New Testament had not been written when Paul wrote this. It shows me how important the Old Testament was held high on Paul’s list to read. I also read in this scripture you are to help me become holy? Do you think if you help me in this area you will strive to be holy? Or can a husband encourage a wife to be holy and he remains a pagan? ( I am not speaking of you..just asking a question in general terms..your not a pagan.. maybe sometimes?? Ha)  The church is mentioned in this reading as well and what church are we talking about?                                               
To know and understand what Baptism is in one’s life is to know it is the washing away of original sin and being born into the New Covenant. Baptism is a sacrament and it releases the Holy Spirit in the depth of one's being. For an infant to be baptized into the Holy Trinity of God they are born again in the spiritual realm of God and the original sin of Adam and Eve is not an issue. They are born into the New Covenant and will receive the Holy Spirit in the depths of their being which is connected to the Holy Trinity which include Father, Son and Holy Spirit. A special grace this sacrament is for one to begin their Christian journey. I pray for all those who have been baptize and are now adults that the spirit awakens them. Baptism is not a ticket to heaven though scripture requires it to help us in our salvation journey.
Holy Orders
The sacrament of Holy orders; this is made up of the priesthood that started with Melchizedek and follows through the Old Testament and continues as Christ calls those into this ministry to help Sheppard His flock on earth while he sits at the right hand of the Father as the high Priest forever and ever. The Priests on earth are cheering us on to eternal life, encouraging us to partake of the sacraments, to live the sacraments, while Christ the High Priest is going before the Father in the Holy of Holy's beyond the veil for our sins. Isn’t it amazing how God can use men that are not perfect, just like us that are on the same journey as we are toward the goal of eternal life? The earthly priest appointed and called by God, who struggles with sin day after day just like us, but obedient to the calling are used by God to help us on our journey to eternal life. They are married to the church (body of Christ) and they are to be just like a husband should be to his wife. Make her holy by cleansing with the washing of water by the word. Do they do it perfect? Do we do it perfect? When we strive to grasp this sacrament it is a helpmate to encourage us toward the prize of eternal life.
Confirmation is a sacrament and a tool for the Baptized to bring their baptism to life in the fullness of the belief and hope they can have in Christ Jesus for the promise of eternal life through the power of his death, sacrifice, resurrection and accession to the right hand of the Father. The Lord uses many to help the baptized in this journey and I truly feel that the parents, the Christian community, the Priests, teachers and we can add our Protestant brothers and sisters to this equation as well. We are all going to stand before the Lord one day and give account for areas we have failed many in discipleship. If we took this sacrament serious just like all the other sacraments, think of the graces we would receive and those who are babes in Christ would receive? Keep in mind with all our failings from marriage, the priesthood and being used to help others in confirmation, God is still in control and still uses all of us who are plagued with the sin nature of man. It is He who does the work in the hearts of men and women. This shows you how special His love is for us. Forgive them Father for they do not know what they do. Confirmation is an act one confesses and believes in the Lord Jesus Christ. Scripture tells us if we do not believe we have no life, no eternal life.
Anointing of the Sick
Anointing of the sick a sacrament and is very scriptural. If anyone is sick bring them before the elders of the church and anoint them with oil. Jesus encountered the sick on a daily basis and healed them. Physical, mental, spiritual and those possessed with demons, He healed them all who trusted and believed. Jesus commanded his disciples to do the same. When a Priest administers this sacrament, graces flow from above by the power of the Holy Spirit. These healings we encounter in our life that comes for the graces from above encourages us toward the prize of life, eternal life. Many of our illnesses are the underlining sickness of sin. Can a sinner go to heaven unless he confesses and gives it to Jesus our mediator?  Is this a onetime confession? Scripture tells us we must confess our sins to have life, eternal life.                                                                                                                               
Eucharist                                                                                                                                         I Saved this sacrament for last, the Eucharist. Oh my, I could write a book about this and just read a book about this “The Biblical Basis for the Eucharist.”
Chapter 1: The nature of God: God & covenant, God's anger at sin & desire to be appeased, Propitiation in the Old Testament, Protestant misconceptions about atonement.
This chapter on the nature of God... foundation of text was scripture.

Chapter 2: The Eternal Sacrifice of Jesus, Prophecies of Christ, the Priesthood of Melchizedek, the perpetual Priesthood of Jesus, Jesus offers His blood Sacrifice in heaven, Jesus' ongoing mediation for our salvation. again... This chapter on the eternal sacrifice of Jesus... foundation of text was scripture.

Chapter 3: The real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, "This is my Body; this is my blood", "Offer this as my memorial sacrifice", Paul's teaching on the real Presence, "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood", Philosophical objections to the Eucharist...
This chapter on the real Presence... foundation of text was scripture.

Chapter 4: The early church Fathers on the Eucharist. Miracles of the Eucharist, The Dogmatic Canons of the Council of Trent and the Canons on the Sacrifice of the Mass, Session XXII, Pope Pius IV, Sept. 17, 1562.

The history of the miracles recorded of the Eucharist... you were a doubting Thomas.. on the fence Thomas, the early church Fathers writings.. so blunt about how important the Eucharist is for understanding it is the real Presence, how their writings defended it. I personally was encouraged..                                                                                                                                         Then the Canon Law, To be honest I had a hard time with the black and white picture they contain.
Each Canon Law ended with this remark: let him be anathema.. which means "a formal curse of the church, excommunicating someone or condemning something as evil, a detested person or thing.

Council of Trent:

Canon 1: If anyone denies that in the sacrament of the most Holy Eucharist there are truly, really and substantially contained the body & blood together with the soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ and therefore the whole Christ, but shall say that He is in it as by a sign, or figure, or force: let him be anathema.

Canon 2: If anyone says that in the sacred and holy sacrament of the Eucharist there remains the substance of bread and wine together with the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ and denies that wonderful and singular conversion of the whole substance of the bread into the body, and of the entire substance of the wine into the blood, the species of bread and wine only remaining, a change which the Catholic Church most fittingly calls transubstantiation: let him be anathema.

Council of Trent Canon law went all the way to # 11.. each law basically defended this Eucharist teaching from many angles..


Canon 1: If anyone says that in the Mass a true and proper sacrifice is not offered to God or that the offering consist merely in fact that Christ is given to us to eat, anathema sit.

Cannon 2: If anyone says that by the words. "Do this as a memorial of me" Christ did not establish the apostles as priests or that he did not order that they and other priests should offer his body and blood, anathema sit.

We then have Canon Laws; 3-9 that are to the point.

You listen to these laws as I read them and you say “the Catholic Church says if you don't believe it, let him be anathema.. Does this mean all who do not believe this.. like all Protestants are anathema? My family for many years.. roots are Protestant.. So did they not make it to heaven? According to these laws and if you do not believe you are cursed."

John 6:53: Jesus said to them, "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat this flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.
John Salaza really hammers this scripture in his book..  Your reply.. "so if one does not eat his flesh & drink his blood.. do they not have eternal life? What about the Protestants that do not believe? Does our salvation depend on this belief? Where is faith in Jesus and what he did on the cross? What about the thief on the cross? Jesus told him he would see him in paradise. It was his faith in knowing that Christ was Lord".
My answer: While on the tread mill I had a conversation with my Lord about this book and grasping it all. He showed me some unique answers. He told me to look in the Concordance of my Bible, in the back of my Bible key verses that had the word eternal life and life. Many scriptures in the Bible concerning this subject matter, life and eternal life. I do not have the time to type them all in this letter, but I encourage you to read them all.
Eternal Life; Psalms 119:89, Isa. 26:4, Psalm 93:2, Ecc 3:11, Matt. 19:16, Matt. 25:41-46, John 6: 68, John 10:28, Gal. 1:8, Romans 1:20, Romans 6:23, 2 Corth 4:17-18, 1 Tim. 1:16-17, Hebrews 9:12, 1 John 5:11, 2 Peter 1:3, 1 Peter 3:10, James 3:13, James 1: 12, 2 Tim. 3:12, 1 Tim 4:8, 4:16, 6:19, Philp  2:16, Eph 4:1, Gal. 2:20, 2 Cort. 3:6, 1 Corth. 15 :19.
Life: Romans 4:25, 6:13, 6:23, 8:38, Acts 13:48, John 3:15, 3:36, 4:14, 5:24, 6:35, 6:45, 6:68, 10:28, 14:6, 20:31
Baptism: Mark 16:16, Matt, 3:11, Mark 1:8, 1 Corth. 1:17
I could go further and make a point in how important Penance, marriage, priesthood, believing (confirmation) and anointing the sick are in scripture. How they are all a part of the big picture in salvation history. They are tools God uses to help us toward perfection. Yes, Christ died for us all, but we are also encouraged to die to the flesh and strive toward perfection as Paul writes, to press on to the prize.  Our flesh must die with Christ, to self, to renew our minds too that of Christ.
Is it one sacrament that points to eternal life? No it is all of them that point us to God’s way. Do we do them perfect? No! Our Christian journey is to put our faith in Him and use the tools he has given us to stay in the race. To continue, press on to the mark in which Christ Jesus has given us to press on toward, which is the gift of eternal life. You are an engineer and you also have a hobby of woodworking. When you started out many years ago with this hobby you needed tools. You made simple things to start, but you were making things. As you learned and grew in the art of making things out of wood, you continually needed more tools. Every time I wanted you to build me something else, you would say "can't build it unless I have this special tool I need... to build it right." So we would go buy more tools to add to your tool box. Just because you lacked this tool did not mean you were not a  "woodworker." It also did not mean you had to have that new tool to build my new request. The new tool made it easier for you to build the new project. The new tool gave you more POWER in your craft. That is what the sacraments are..TOOLS to give you more POWER (graces) in your Christian walk. The Protestants have tools as well and I should know (I've used them). When we Catholics say we have the fullness of the faith...it is only saying our tool box is full to the brim and the biggest tool.. the BIG Boy is the Eucharist.
The Eucharist is Christ present to me today, body and blood just as much as it was for those who stood at the foot of the cross 2,000 years ago. What our God began in the Old Covenant he fulfilled in the New Covenant. Our New Covenant we do not sacrifice goats, lambs and bulls. We have a perfect sacrifice present today entering into the Holy of Holies, our Lord Jesus Christ.  By the power of the Holy Spirit using an imperfect man (The Priest) who has been called by God to serve in the priestly line of Melchizedek and the Apostles. This man who struggles with the flesh daily is used in a miracle that takes place at Mass. It does not depend on how holy this man is because it is not him that does the miracle at Mass. It is the Holy Spirit that makes present my Jesus, my Lamb of God who takes away my sins. Jesus is my High Priest that lives forever and ever.  The Eucharist gives me life, it nourishes me and is one of many elements my God has put in place for me to have the graces I need daily to stay in the race. And "No" we are not sacrificing Christ in the Mass. Hebrews 7:27 "once for all." The church teaches the understanding in how the Mass is a re-presentation of Jesus' historical, one time sacrificial death on the cross. In every Mass, the priest re-enacts Jesus' priestly actions at the Lord Supper, offering once more his Body and Blood. But Jesus is not sacrificed again in the Eucharist. Rather, his unique sacrifice is made real and present to us here and now, because it is divine reality that transcends space and time.
Our discussion about the thief on the cross; he just believed and Jesus told him he would see him in paradise. Many will be just like that thief and wait till the last moment they breath their last breathe. God have mercy.  Was it his belief that saved him? Only God knows. No place in Scripture does it say all you need is to "Believe in Christ" for your salvation.. then go live life according to the gospel of the world.  Satan believes in Christ and has no place in heaven. I love the way my New Catholic Answer Bible answers this question:
"The Lord is just and loves just deeds, "the psalmist says, and "the upright shall see his face'(Ps11:7). These words summarize the Catholic view (which is also the Biblical view) of salvation. Because God is just and loves the justice, if we hope to "see his face"-- that is, to live with him in friendship forever-then we ourselves must be "upright" as he is. The first letter of Peter puts it this way: "Be holy yourself in every aspect of your conduct, for it is written, "Be holy because I am holy." (1:15-16). That is a big order... we must take up our cross. It is a life time commitment  depending on His daily graces that come down from above.
Our faith in Christ's power to transform us is essential to our salvation by God's grace. Jas 2:14-26 Scripture insists that faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
In this way, good works, and the transformation of character they contribute to and reflect, are indeed necessary for salvation. God rewards the good works we do, works that he himself has made possible (Mt 16:27; 25:31-46). To the obedient "he promises, "I will show the salvation of God" (Ps 50:23)
As for the thief on the cross, we know nothing about him. Who was he? Did he come from a broken home? Did he have to steal to be able to eat? We will never know these answers in this lifetime. I do know he humbled himself on his cross and he believed. The pain he endured in this life, then hanging beside my Lord and enduring the brutal pain of the cross he brought upon himself because of sin. Then to hang beside the giver of life and see the suffering of his God and the love he had for him must have been powerful. Thank goodness my cross in life was not his. For the other thief who hung on the opposite side of Christ, (we can only imagine) his pride and self reliance on this world hardened his heart. He was not able to even look upon the cross of our Lord. He was too consumed by his own cross in life. The thief who was told He would see Him in paradise, Christ knew the heart of this thief, and knew his pain as he endured his own cross, I would like to think of it as the fire that God will use in all of us to burn up our dead works. 1 Corth. 3:14- 15. The cross he hung on was the all consuming fire in which God used to perfect his works.
Now onto the Cannon laws and the terrible word “anathema” that ended with each law. Rives gave me good insight to understand this. The laws were made during the reformation to defend the faith. Not only were the Catholic’s throwing terrible words out there, so were the Protestants. The Eucharist had been the life of the church from the beginning and now many Protestant leaders were tearing this truth into many pieces. Was that a good word “anathema” for men to use? Only God knows the answer. I look at it as the way the Holy Spirit used imperfect men to protect the sacred teachings of the church that had been passed down from the Apostles, the Church Fathers and all the way down to little ole’ me. As Rives said, you need to read what the Protestant were saying about Catholic’s “they are all going to hell.” Funny they are still saying that today.
The church, the sacraments are a tool I have discovered and to sum this all up; “they are graces bestowed upon me that in His time I will be made perfect and I am a work in progress.”  Not to say I never received graces as a Protestant. I did!! Many! God met me right where I was in life, just like the thief on the cross. Being a Catholic now, has taught me how little I know and that I have not arrived with the full knowledge and answers to understand God’s plan for all when it comes too eternal life. I no longer can boast, I can only boast about the ONE who gives life, life eternally. God of Mercy will pour out His mercy to anyone He wants too and it is none of my business. My job is to keep my eyes on Jesus and call on Him every day of my life to do the complete work in me. Work out your salvation with fear and trembling, Phil 2:12-13, Ecc 12:13. Which means God’s wisdom and looking at the whole picture. Not a half glass, a full glass. The fullness of the Catholic faith gives me the full glass in the form of the sacraments. I am no longer tossed around doing this on my own. I have the fullness of the faith. I have my Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, the Communion of Saints, the Angels, Mother Mary, all seven Sacraments and my cup over flows.
To my wonderful husband who has stood beside me in all the craziness, busyness, quiet time and all that life has brought to us for many years. Good and bad, happy and sad, struggles and success, I think we have ridden them all. I can describe our marriage, our relationship, raising our kids and even our many pets we have owned in the context of all these descriptive adjectives and I am sure there are many other adjectives I could come up with to describe our life. Though we might not have it down to perfection and will probably never reach it in this lifetime, we can be thankful for many things we have shared together. I look at our journey of faith in this same context. It has been crazy, busy, good, bad, happy, sad, struggles, success and “yes” quiet times. I have had so many quiet times with my Lord and He takes me to the mountain top. I have also had times of quiet when I did not know He was with me. In my lifetime if I compare the quiet times, the times of not knowing verses the mountain tops, the not knowing would win the prize. Growing up as a child as I look back to the past I really had no faith foundation to speak of, just believing. Believing was my foundation of knowing there was a God. It would take years of many paths the Lord took me to get where I am today. My Lord is sovereign and I know each step and path was a direction He carried me. In 1980 when I truly surrendered to know who He was and ask Him to be Lord of my life I was touched deeply. I was not in a church setting when this all took place. I do remember asking Him to direct my path to His truths, to a church where I could learn more about Him. The Lord really used Betty Caravella during this time of my life. Word of Truth, pastor Robert Tilton was the medicine I needed for my broken spirit. God used that ministry in my life and yours as well. Would we be happy in a church like that today? No! It is amazing to me how he used that ministry to encourage us to move forward and learn. He planted so many folks in our path in Alvarado. Kathy and the prayer group we became a part of for a few years, the Assembly of God Church in Cleburne, Kay and Randy Meeks and a few other folks that mentored and we shared a common love of Jesus with. The power of God’s love and the hope He instilled in us during that time is a miracle. The miracle to even trust in Him to go off to school was amazing. My foundation back then had grown from believing in a God, to knowing there was a God and I could have a personal relationship with Him. Did I understand what Baptism meant, the Holy Trinity and all it encompassed? No! I was living in the moment and was being loved by my Jesus right where I was in life. I was a work in progress and had a long way to go in my journey of faith. Looking back now where I was, I truly thought I had arrived and I knew all the answers to what it meant to be a Christian. I now know the journey never ends until we see Him face to face, and this makes it so exciting. A relationship with Christ is an on going journey of learning to love and being loved, that continues to grow and each season of life it gets better. We can compare this relationship to a husband and wife and the relationship of the Holy Trinity... it is to be mirrors and reflections of each other. Love Always, Julie