Fourth Sunday in Lent – Cycle A

1 April 2014

Reflecting on John 9: 1-41

The thing is, we know this guy.  We’ve known him since he was a child.  As far as anyone can remember, he was always blind― blind from birth, his parents said.  Obviously, he’s a sinner.  His parents, too.  You don’t have a terrible affliction like blindness without a long history of sin in the family.

Moses insists we open wide our arms to the needy, so we’ve been giving him alms all these years.  That’s what makes what happened today so infuriating.   The sinner Jesus has been in Jerusalem with his disciples since the Feast of Tabernacles.  He’s caused his usual uproar, saying outrageous things about himself, even giving some people the impression he is replacing our feasts of water and light with himself.

None of us has forgotten what he did last Passover, when he drove the money changers out of the Temple and hinted that he was going to destroy the Temple and replace it with himself!  He even consorts with Samaritan women!  You might have heard about that little travesty, and how she went running back to tell all the Samaritans about him.  He’s obviously a sorcerer, just like they are.

And then there was the business with that woman caught in the very act of adultery.  That was his chance to prove that he was a true child of Moses, but no.  She walked away without a word of judgment from him.  We’d already collected the stones.

Next thing you know we’ll be hearing stories of him raising people from the dead.

In the meantime, now this blind man pretends to see, and says that this Jesus cured him.  And on the Sabbath!  Sinners don’t cure people.  Everyone knows that.

Jesus, the Messiah?  No way.  We just don’t see it.

What behaviors in your life do you refuse to see?

What would YOU like to say about this question, or today’s readings, or any of the columns from the past year? The sacred conversations are setting a Pentecost fire! Register here today and join the conversation.
I have come to light a fire on the earth; how I wish it were already burning (Lk.12:49).

Kathy McGovern © 2013

One Comments to “Fourth Sunday in Lent – Cycle A”

  1. I finally got in after five tries. I treasure the “hunger as the password to unlock grace…” I also need to re-examine my soul’s posture vis-a-vis “The Positive Regard of Everyone I meet.” Thanks for feeding me, Kathy and for constantly inoculating me against vanity.

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Third Sunday in Lent – Cycle A

24 March 2014

Reflecting on John 4: 5-42

Give me a drink.  Seriously, Jesus.  I’m asking.

I’m thirsty, and I know that’s the very thing you want to hear.  My emptiness is the password that unlocks your grace, and oh how I need it.

I suppose that, like your great Samaritan disciple, I’ve had five husbands too.  Hers were the five religions practiced by the slaves the Assyrians brought in to populate Samaria seven hundred years earlier.  The inhabitants of Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hammath, and Sepharvaim knew nothing about Jacob or Moses, or the great prophets Amos and Hosea.

Well, to be honest, even Amos and Hosea couldn’t pierce the deafness of the inhabitants of Samaria all those years ago.  They had the very well that their ancestor Jacob dug, and they gave lip service to the laws of Moses, but still they burned their children alive on altars dedicated to the Canaanite gods.  So there were definitely wide open spaces in their hearts for the allure of the gods of the foreigners who came in with the Assyrians.

I left myself wide open for five husbands too, and they enslaved me.  Their names are Comfort, and Food, and Safety, and People who Look Like Me, and, my most powerful master, The Positive Regard of Everyone I Meet.

I’ve drunk deeply from those wells, but they only made me thirsty again.  Comfort and Food and Safety left me listless and useless.  And the truth is, the faces of your poor look nothing like me, and those who care for them care only about YOUR positive regard.  Give me a sip from the well from which THEY drink and are so satisfied.

Fill my cup, Lord.  I’m finally lifting it up.

What “husbands” have left you unsatisfied?

What would YOU like to say about this question, or today’s readings, or any of the columns from the past year? The sacred conversations are setting a Pentecost fire! Register here today and join the conversation.
I have come to light a fire on the earth; how I wish it were already burning (Lk.12:49).

Kathy McGovern © 2013

One Comments to “Third Sunday in Lent – Cycle A”

  1. I loved the line “My emptiness is the password that unlocks your grace, and oh how I need it.” Oh how true! And when I think of to what I have wed myself to fill this emptiness you got them all! (Comfort, food, safety, positive regard) I was just talking to a friend the other day about the concept that we want everyone to like us and oh how the Gospel concept of persecution contradicts this desire! May this time of Lent (Fasting, Almsgiving, Prayer) help me to seek HIM, who can truly fulfill my hearts desire.

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Second Sunday in Lent – Cycle A

19 March 2014

Reflecting on Matt. 17: 1-9

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about “daddy hunger”, the term for whole generations of young men and women who grew up without their fathers in the home.  Prisons are full of them―men who had no father to love them and so seek that “daddy love” from participation in gangs, and women who buy guns for felons and take enormous risks for dangerous men who give them the attention they crave.

I know hundreds of fabulous fathers, but incarcerated people often know the detached, violent, or demeaning father whose unloving presence serves as the backdrop for their lives.  Dad can’t say “Good job, I’m proud of you” because he never heard it from his dad, who in turn never heard it from his.  Scratch the surface of the life of a chronically depressed male of any age, and often (but certainly not always) you’ll find his emotionally unavailable father at the center of his wounds.

But not Jesus.  From the moment of his baptism at the Jordan to this transfiguring moment of identity revelation on Mount Tabor, the Father tells Jesus who he is:  My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

Wouldn’t this world be a different place if children, boys in particular, heard this from their fathers on a regular basis?  Yes, this is my beloved son.  He makes me proud every day.

That’s the piece of heaven we learn about first in the gospels:  Jesus is the beloved Son of a heavenly Father who claims him, and names him, and is well pleased with him.  It’s that deep knowledge of being eternally loved that strengthens Jesus to go back down Tabor and face Jerusalem and his destiny.

In what ways do you witness “daddy hunger” in the world?

What would YOU like to say about this question, or today’s readings, or any of the columns from the past year? The sacred conversations are setting a Pentecost fire! Register here today and join the conversation.
I have come to light a fire on the earth; how I wish it were already burning (Lk.12:49).

Kathy McGovern © 2013

One Comments to “Second Sunday in Lent – Cycle A”

  1. I worked with teenagers with addictions in the past and can see the “daddy hunger.” But on a more personal note, I also have been blessed with a great father (not perfect so sometimes may have had a little daddy hunger myself =) But in general I can see how he has reflected the Heavenly Father’s love to me (always providing for me financially, helping me with my car, etc.) but more specifically providing for me emotionally; on one particular occasion, on recently becoming a mother and struggling with certain questions on how to raise our new baby, I left the house frustrated and upset, my dad was also leaving and instead of going the usual way out of the neighborhood he followed me and I texted him as I saw him drive by why he went that way, he responded, just wanted to see that you are okay. Then without any discussion of what was going on, he texted, you are a great mom just the way you are, you don’t have to try to be anyone else. For me in that moment I felt God had answered my prayers and shown his fatherly care for me. God bless fathers! May we always remember to also pray for them, what an important role they have!

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First Sunday in Lent – Cycle A

10 March 2014

Reflecting on Gen. 2:7-9; 3:1-7

What is it about a lie that is so much more comfortable than the truth?  I think any lie that corroborates our own secret desires―which eventually kill us, by the way―will always find a welcome home with us.

The Enemy starts with a lie by suggesting to Eve that God has forbidden her all the trees in the garden.  Oh no, she says, just the one in the middle. 

Seriously? (says the Prince of Liars), I can’t believe that.  I’m outraged for you.  Why SHOULDN’T you have it all?

And you know what?  There is some part of us that thinks that we should.  Just give me a reason, any reason, why I should get to consume far more than my share of the world’s resources and I’ll breathe a huge sigh of relief.  No opposing viewpoints will find such an attentive ear.

Or suggest, as the serpent did, that I should be suspicious of others, that I’m being purposely left out of things, or that my experience is more exquisitely painful than all the rest of humanity, and I’ll lovingly nurture that lie for the rest of my life.

That Original Lie, that we are being secretly excluded by a conniving God―insert parent, or teacher, or coworkers, or friends―is our Original Wound.  And we willfully break that wound open, over and over again.

A million years later the Tempter tried the same lies on Jesus.  But the new Adam rejected Satan, and all his works, and all his empty promises.  And at the end of these forty days we will gather at the Easter Font, renew our baptismal promises, and reject the Liar once again.

What lies do you resolve to reject this Lent?

What would YOU like to say about this question, or today’s readings, or any of the columns from the past year? The sacred conversations are setting a Pentecost fire! Register here today and join the conversation.
I have come to light a fire on the earth; how I wish it were already burning (Lk.12:49).

Kathy McGovern © 2013

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Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

3 March 2014

There is a moment in the long-ago television show Thirtysomething that has stayed with me all these years.  One of the main characters was an avid environmentalist who didn’t drive a car.  He rode his bike in all seasons, and his friends worried that he would be hit by a car, or slide on the ice and fall into traffic, or hit a pothole and break his ribs, or get stung on the tongue by a bee and go crashing off his bike and then skid ten yards into traffic.

No, wait.  That’s my bicyclist-husband Ben’s resumé.  The bicyclist on the show was suddenly killed off in one episode, and yes, it was a car accident, but the unexpected twist was that he happened that night to be a passenger in a car that was hit by a drunk driver.

Isn’t that always the way?  We decide on the things we’ll worry about, and devote our sleepless nights and years to them, and sometimes the things we’ve worried about happen right on schedule, but more often it’s the things we never saw coming that take us to our knees. That’s what Jesus meant by sufficient for a day is its own evil. Every day brings its own challenges, and then blessed sleep repairs our psyches and prepares us for the next day.  Or, as the Genesis author wrote so beautifully about God’s work in the six days of creation, evening came, and morning followed.

There was, of course, that anguished, sleepless night in Gethsemane, and the terrible events of the next day. But Good Friday came, and Easter followed.  Jesus has won the right to tell us to cease worrying.

Over which worries have you lost way too much sleep?

What would YOU like to say about this question, or today’s readings, or any of the columns from the past year? The sacred conversations are setting a Pentecost fire! Register here today and join the conversation.
I have come to light a fire on the earth; how I wish it were already burning (Lk.12:49).

Kathy McGovern © 2013

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Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

22 February 2014

Reflecting on Matthew 5: 38-48

As the Olympics come to an end this weekend I find myself wondering: What if there were an Olympics that awarded medals for individuals or nations that best perform three events put before us in today’s readings?

  • Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against any of your people (Leviticus 19:17).

Are you STILL nursing that grudge against your sister after all this time?  Get over yourself.  Review the past and see things from her perspective for once.  Disarm yourself.  Call her.  The family member who takes that advice to heart wins the gold medal, and gets the biggest chocolate bunny this Easter.

  • Give to the one who asks of you (Matthew 5:42).

On the website that accompanies this column there was an exchange last week that brought this controversial Olympic event into focus.  Due to a childhood in poverty, Becky’s basic reading and writing skills are poor.  During the past few weeks she expressed on the site a number of beautiful theological insights drawn from her lifetime of suffering.

An English teacher might be tempted to take a red pen to the errors in spelling and sentence structure.  Instead, Cris, a highly educated reader a thousand miles away, chose to read past the grammatical struggles and responded to her heart, the heart she was asking to be cherished.   It’s a tie.  They share the gold medal, Becky for having the courage to ask to be heard, and Cris for truly hearing.

  • Forget not all God’s benefits (Ps. 103:2).

When you drew open the blinds this morning did you instinctively thank God for sunlight?  Step up to the dais.  The gold is yours.

In what virtues are you training for Olympic gold?

What would YOU like to say about this question, or today’s readings, or any of the columns from the past year? The sacred conversations are setting a Pentecost fire! Register here today and join the conversation.
I have come to light a fire on the earth; how I wish it were already burning (Lk.12:49).

Kathy McGovern © 2013

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Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

17 February 2014

Reflecting on Matthew 5: 17-37

Now that the Jaqueline Kennedy interview tapes have been released, we know the fascinating advice her husband gave her about managing the hostility she felt toward some of the foreign guests at the White House.  He said, “Jackie, you can’t think these insulting things about people, even in private, because someday those thoughts will come slipping out of your mouth at some state dinner, and next thing you know we’ll be at war with Russia.”

How true.  Maybe that’s what Jesus meant when he said that insulting each other is like committing a murder.  Unkind words are not easily forgotten, regardless of how much we assure the contrite friend that all is forgiven.  The general trajectory of hurtful words is hurt feelings, which invariably lead the offended party to get revenge in some unconscious way.  We have no real cultural model in which to say, “You really hurt me last month, and I thought I could forgive you, but I find that I am apprehensive and hostile towards you now.” True forgiveness is hard work, and probably takes longer than we’d hoped. 

So, the way to avoid all this is to go on a fast from thinking uncharitable things about people.  This is harder to do today than ever because creatively insulting people is the national media pastime, especially in election years, and when is it not an election year? Fast from imagining some hilarious barb you would sling at someone, and chances are you never will sling that barb, which will keep them from having to come at you someday with a hatchet.

What experience have you had with the “murder” that hurtful words can cause?

What would YOU like to say about this question, or today’s readings, or any of the columns from the past year? The sacred conversations are setting a Pentecost fire! Register here today and join the conversation.
I have come to light a fire on the earth; how I wish it were already burning (Lk.12:49).

Kathy McGovern © 2013

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Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

9 February 2014

Reflecting on Matthew 5: 13-16

I am surrounded by light.  I can’t even remember what darkness looks like.  Every time I pick up a bulletin, every time I have a conversation with a friend, well, I am almost blinded by light.

Have you noticed that Jesus didn’t say, “Do good works and you will be the light of the world”?  He said, “You ARE the light of the world.”  YOU, right now, are a little lantern walking around in your home, your job, the soccer field, your parish.  And every time you share your bread with the hungry this huge burst of light pours out of your lantern and warms everyone around you.

YOU are the city set on the hill.  You know that enchanting, light-filled house you can see from the highway and want to drive over and see it up close?  That’s YOU.  And every time you shelter the oppressed and the homeless your house becomes even more inviting, more alluring than the brightest star, and immigrants and refugees take courage as they make their way towards it.

YOU are the salt of the earth.  You know that gracious, open-hearted, open-handed person who removes oppression, false accusation and malicious speech? That’s YOU.  And every time you stop gossip in its tracks and end conversation that is hurtful of others, YOWZER!  A gigantic salt-shaker makes everything around you delicious.  Bring on the margaritas and chips.

Want to make your city on the hill even more visible? Check out www.oxfam.org.  Want to give out more light than a supernova?  Go to www.covivo.org .  Let the Vincentian charisms wash over you, and then step back.

Break forth, oh beauteous heavenly light.

Who are there people in your life who radiate light?

What would YOU like to say about this question, or today’s readings, or any of the columns from the past year? The sacred conversations are setting a Pentecost fire! Register here today and join the conversation.
I have come to light a fire on the earth; how I wish it were already burning (Lk.12:49).

Kathy McGovern © 2013

7 Comments to “Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A”

  1. People in my life who radiate light have always been people I see at mass week after week. What great training we get in prayer and spirituality by coming back to mass every week. I am also grateful for a mom and dad who radiate light and faith to me and all those around them.

  2. There are so many people in my life who radiate light, but to tell the truth, I never think of MYSELF that way. This reflection really stopped me in my tracks!Anyway, some of my “lights” are: the teacher down the hall from me who always seems to have the time for and a way with the worst-behaved kids in school, the nurses who care for my mom in the nursing home, my precious grandchildren who are so open, loving, and accepting, our priest who is always so warm and welcoming. If you look for it, you can always find a light somewhere in your life, right?

  3. Kathy, that is a amazing view of the loving and giving nature of humans! Iam a house mate with two of the best examples of this weeks Gospel. They are always extending good will to those around them. I am learning a lot from their true acts of Christian love. They aren’t the kind who boast about themselves. They just see a need and act on it to the best of their ability. They saw a need for me to relocate and they came to Colorado to move here. Just being around them makes me want to imitate them. You know I have always thought that Good deeds are contagious! And may be that the secret our Lord was teaching here, if everyone did just a simple kind gesture out of the kindness of their heart, I bet in no time it would spread world over. There are things everyone can do, visit a sick person may do there dishes, dump their trash or walk their dog. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money or if you don’t have any just your company will pick their spirits up. The light that shines forth just might be the shine in their eyes. We all have a gift to share rather we know it or not. The many time I have been hospitalized seeing a person stopping with Communion lift me up and my whole mood has changed. It’s so simple and also so seldom that people act on the chance to act.

  4. Good insight on being light even before the good deed. The sequence is important. Thanks, Kathy.

    Good deeds are contagious – - I need to remind myself of that too. Thanks, Becky.

  5. Cris, every time you look pass the misspelled words and the typos right to the meaning You are doing a good deed. That just it A light on the hillside or the salt that favors a simple dish cost nothing more then a moment of time and a kind word, Being Christ like is a easy thing to do but doing a Christ like deed cost time and sometimes our reputations Thank You for lighting up my day.

  6. Suzer mentioned the “people she sees at Mass week after week” and this reminded me of my professor who said: “Do not underestimate routine because routine is the backbone of life.”

  7. My husband is a light, after working a 48 hours helping people in crisis all.night long, he comes home and although incredibly sleep deprived will be up late helping with our sick daughter or offer to help around house.he does a great job being bright and cheery with little sleep. Now that is a light!

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Presentation of the Lord – Cycle A

3 February 2014

Reflecting on Luke 2: 22-40

Rembrandt, Simeon in the Temple, 1669

Even though we are reading from the gospel of Matthew this year, today’s feast falls on a Sunday and therefore trumps the Ordinary Time readings.  Since two female saints, Mary and Anna, are featured in the account, you can bet that Luke is the author.  He loves to tell us stories about women, especially Mary, and we love to hear them.

This story is all about timing.  Mary and Joseph waited the prescribed forty days and then entered the Temple.  Simeon was led by the Spirit to go there that day, and Anna purposely placed herself in the Temple every day so that she could bear witness to God’s perfect timing.

Have you ever been at the right place at the right time? So often it’s only in looking back that we recognize the perfect timing that led us to our spouse, or to our friends, or to faith itself.  But much of “perfect timing” has to do with aligning ourselves with grace.  Mary and Joseph complied with the Law.  Simeon complied with the Holy Spirit.  And Anna complied with her inner knowledge that if she was to see her Savior she needed to stay in the Temple.

We live our lives immersed in mystery.  We are astounded at the perfect timing of many events in our lives.  Somehow, we intuitively sense the Divine, and situate ourselves to be receptive to the presence of Christ, visible and invisible.

It’s in that patient day-to-day watchfulness that our lives unfold.  And one day, in God’s own time, we too will say:  Lord, dismiss your servant in peace, for my eyes have seen your salvation.

What moments of “perfect timing” have you experienced?

What would YOU like to say about this question, or today’s readings, or any of the columns from the past year? The sacred conversations are setting a Pentecost fire! Register here today and join the conversation.
I have come to light a fire on the earth; how I wish it were already burning (Lk.12:49).

Kathy McGovern © 2013

5 Comments to “Presentation of the Lord – Cycle A”

  1. You wrote: ” So often it’s only in looking back that we recognize the perfect timing that led us to our spouse…..But much of the “perfect timing” has to do with aligning ourselves with grace.” – - – I appreciate the profound insights contained in these words, Kathy because it took from 1964 / 65 to 1972 before I finally got to marry my wife in 1972 – - all with the timing that comes from grace alignment; and then my landing a job in Denver in 1987 – -the timing that did not look like “grace” because it was occasioned by unethical politics by supervisor in Richmond – -now looking back, Denver has been a most grace-full experience.

  2. I wrote a rather lengthily share last week that still applies this week. It amazes how God gives me life changing gift right a difficult time. When I first got psoriasis at the same time I and my family had been homeless for three months, and then my grandma died I thought please Father no more I’m sick and I’m tired, please no more suffering. And then I found a job at Laradon. It was my chance in a life, I am very educated and I have always been obese, But here I was at a job serving God’s special needs people. I think I can relate to the Gospel the long awaited salvation and hope for a better life had arrived. I retired in 2006, but I still reap blessings from working there the friends I met and my pay that has offered me a reasonable disability check. Sometimes the blessing aren’t exactly what we asked and sometimes they are even better. Jesus wasn’t the great warrior Israel was looking for, He was better He was the Son of God and our salvation.

  3. Sorry for the typos “I’m not very educated” is what I
    meant So many typos and no editing Oh well thank for understanding.

  4. When I read stories like Becky’s, embracing the pluses and minuses of life, the question comes to me:
    “How do you create an accommodating heart?”

  5. Thank you Cris, trust me right now I’m doing well My depression is somewhat under control but there are those days that I just wouldn’t share because I’m in a negative place. And sharing would so difficult, But God Bless you for the kind words.

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Third Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

26 January 2014

Reflecting on Matthew 4: 12-23

The Calling of Saints Peter and Andrew, from the Church of Sant’ Apollinare, Ravenna, Italy

And so it begins.  The Spirit hovers over Jesus, and announces his identity as God’s own Son. Soon afterwards, John is arrested and shut up in prison.  It is time, the time marked out from the beginning of time.  Jesus the Christ moves away from the comfortable Jewish neighborhoods of Nazareth and launches the Age of Grace in the Galilee of the Gentiles.

The people who walked in darkness now see a great Light.  His name is Jesus, and he is living, and preaching, and healing among them.  And he is calling them out of their boats into the greatest fishing adventure of all time.

Sometimes you just know that it’s time.  Time to grow up.  Time to move away.  Time to put away childish behaviors, petty resentments, unhealthy habits, and immature ideas about God that keep you at a safe (but so unsafe) distance from the One who is God with us.

The distance between Nazareth and Capernaum was only 48 miles.  Sometimes the greatest journeys we take are the shortest in distance, but in looking back we say, “Yes, that’s when my life changed forever.”  Jesus knew it was time to stretch out his arms to every person, Gentile and Jew, to heal and console, to catch all creation in his safe embrace, and let anguish take wing.

In time, those healing arms would be stretched out on a cross.  Did he know that when he left tiny Nazareth to catch Peter and Andrew and James and John in the net of eternity?  He caught us too, of course.  We live in gratitude for that, and hope to be his best catch ever.

What has been a significant time of transition in your life?

What would YOU like to say about this question, or today’s readings, or any of the columns from the past year? The sacred conversations are setting a Pentecost fire! Register here today and join the conversation.
I have come to light a fire on the earth; how I wish it were already burning (Lk.12:49).

Kathy McGovern © 2013

3 Comments to “Third Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A”

  1. 1977 I took religious instruction at St Rose of Lima, I met people that I still call friend I grew spiritually and emotionally. 1980 my father passed away and the love and support from this parish carried through the grief In 1982 my grandmother passed, we were close she had raised me. She was the one who first converted to Catholicism in the 1940s and she was the one who had formed my faith as a Catholic from the crib up, A week after she died, I started work as a houseparent at Laradon Hall a facility for the developmentally disabled, I work there for 24 years, I met my best friend Joe there, we have been friends for nearly 30 years. My mom passed in 1992 after a long illness from rheumatic heart disease. my friends from St Rose and my friends from Lardon Hall brought me through that grief. I guess what I’m trying to say there wasn’t that defining moment of transition. God puts me where I need to be and helps me build the support I need for next celebration or the next crisis He provides me the tools I need to survive. I guess what I am trying to say and not doing it so well is there are peaks and valleys in our life and God make His presence known when we least expect it. I don’t believe in luck, I believe Blessings. We all have to experience happiness,grief fear, anger and so on it is a part of growth But by faith we never have to do it alone. I was very sick and in the hospital a year ago. I spent 8 months in bed, I had curtain people who were suppose to be helping me, I found that they were doing some very illegal thing in my home while I laid sick in bed, And Joe came to Denver and helped me move here to California where I am safe. 30 years ago I became friends with someone who would remind that God always makes a way for me even if He starts the plan 30 years prior to the need.

  2. Thank you, Becky for sharing your journey. It makes me reflect and pray.

  3. Becoming a wife and mother has been a great transition full of blessings and growth. It has helped me become less selfish which still is a challenge at times, but the Lord definitely gently guides me along the way. I loved the last line “He caught us too…hope to be the greatest catch.” So true and as I reflect on the call to marriage, I hope my spouse continues to feel that “I am the greatest catch” as well. May God continue to pour his graces on all married couples as with His help they meet the challenge of being His loving presence to each other and the world. God bless

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