Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Christmas season is upon us once again. As I unpacked the holiday decorations this year, I came across my copy of the letter, written by “Santa Claus” that I had given to a little girl several years ago. Her name was Cheyenne, and she was from Barberton, Ohio. Cheyenne was the daughter of a woman who had been married to my husband’s cousin. After their divorce she had remarried, and Cheyenne was the daughter from her second marriage. Our family often joked that we wished we could have divorced the cousin and keep his wife in the family instead…The first time I remember meeting Cheyenne was at a family funeral when she was about 4 years old. She was so sweet. Following the funeral we went to a relative’s house. Cheyenne was crawling around on the floor, acting like a puppy dog. We all laughed so hard at her coming around to all of us, barking and begging for food. It was a humorous ending to a sad day.And while I never did get a chance to know Cheyenne real well, I can tell you that the little of what I did know made an impact on me. In talking with her, you felt like you were talking to someone much wiser than their years, an old soul in a young body. In November of 2004, Cheyenne was diagnosed with 2 rare forms of leukemia. The prognosis wasn’t good. I wish I could explain why this disturbed me so much. I barely knew this child, yet I could think of little else but of how I could help her. I went to visit with her and her mother a few times after she was first diagnosed. Understandably, all Cheyenne really wanted to do was lie on her couch and watch her beloved Disney movies, especially the ones with the princesses.The place where I was employed during this time was having our holiday party and raffle. I was still recovering from a bad bout of pneumonia, and I asked my daughter to go with me to help me set up for the party. The gift baskets for the raffle were really nice, and some were pretty lavish. There were themed baskets for everything from various kinds of lottery tickets, to baskets for movie nights, pampering yourself, sports themes, culinary…just about any hobby or interest you could imagine. I bought my tickets, and proceeded to visit the baskets to make my choices on the ones I wanted to try to win. A lot of the women at work had been eyeing this one, big, pink, cardboard treasure chest for weeks that was filled with Barbie dolls and other things a young girl would like. Having no use for it myself, I passed it by. As I went around the room and deposited my tickets in various boxes, it suddenly dawned on me what I could do if I won that basket. With no self-doubt at all, I turned to Katie and told her, “I’m going to win that basket, and I’m giving it to Cheyenne.” Katie smirked at me, but I knew I was going to win. I didn’t have many tickets left, but I put my remaining ones into the packed pink box. It was one of the most popular gifts in the room, and the ticket box was stuffed full.Even though I had a strong feeling that I was somehow going to win the Barbie basket, I was still floored when they pulled out my ticket. I was crying on my way up to claim my prize. Word quickly got around the room as to why I wanted that gift. You could say I won by chance, but I think something bigger had a hand in that gift finding its way to me. The next thing that happened in the following days left me with no doubt of this.

I was still amazed at how I had won that basket. I ended up winning another one too, but I couldn’t tell you now what was in it. It didn’t matter. All I could think about was getting this to Cheyenne for Christmas. We exchanged some of the presents in the basket for more age-appropriate ones for her, and gave those to 2 needy children. People I worked with who had heard about the Cheyenne and the basket also added some gifts. I bought holiday stationary, and “Santa Claus” whipped up a letter to her with an explanation as to why the basket was being delivered via me and my husband early on Christmas Eve. All this was going through my mind as I was driving my car a couple of days later. I was listening to a program on the radio that Leeza Gibbons was hosting. Some of you may remember that she used to be a host on “Entertainment Tonight years ago.” During her radio show, this ad came on about how her show and Kmart were sponsoring a contest to give away $500 Kmart gift cards to people who needed help for the holidays, all they needed was for people to write to them to nominate someone…I thought that there was surely no way they could hear this child’s story and not give one to her. I wondered if I would be able to write it in a way that would make them understand that this child needed their help. I got on the Internet, and gave it my best shot… A couple of days later, I got this telephone call at work. It was a man asking me my name, and told me I would be getting a call 2 minutes later from Leeza Gibbons. I had won the first gift card that they were awarding from the contest. I can’t even begin to describe how I was feeling at this point. So many things were going through my mind. Leeza did call back, and our conversation was recorded to be play on her radio show later that night. We discussed the situation with Cheyenne. After that night, the whole listening audience knew about her too. The gift card arrived a few days later, and was added to the basket. On Christmas Eve, Jim and l delivered this bundle to one very special little girl. She was still lying on the couch, watching her movies on their TV. The procedures to halt the cancer had been started, and she was so weak. She looked at what she could from the basket, but quickly lay back down. We stayed for a while, and then left. The day after Christmas, Cheyenne’s much needed television broke. The gift card was used to buy a new one for her. You can say that this was all chance, and that it was a coincidence that these gifts just happened to make it to where they were most needed. And I can’t say that you would be wrong with your thinking. But I chose to believe there was something more going on then mere coincidences.

Cheyenne lost her fight with cancer on September 4, 2007.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

New ways to evangelize

Are the days of going door to door to talk to people about God obsolete? Probably not, but as our lives have gotten busier, you might have an easier time reaching people through Internet social networking sites such as Twitter, Myspace, and my personal favorite, Facebook.

I first heard of Facebook from my daughter back when it was still just for college students. I also heard of the horror stories caused for students who posted too much personal information or pictures of themselves that might cost them a future job if a prospective employer would happen to see the pictures.

Eventually Facebook opened up to anyone who wanted to make an account. I made one, but deleted it not long after that as no one else I knew was a member. Late last year, after Facebook membership exploded in the United States, I decided to opened another account. In time I found many of classmates from my old high school, and we've had a lot of fun getting reacquainted with each other. But I think the most amazing thing is how my church, St. Nicholas Byzantine Catholic Church in Barberton, Ohio, has used this resource to reach people all over the world.

As activities and events happen at St. Nicholas, they are photographed and/or videotaped, and then posted to Facebook and YouTube (

With the click of the mouse, these items are shared all over the world. Many members of our eparchy have Facebook accounts and can see what we've been up to. Our priest and his family are from Slovakia and can easily send these events to family members and friends back home. But anyone on the Internet who happens to come across our website can also see these activities and what an active parish that we have, and possibly be persuaded to make a visit to our church.

As society as a whole changes, Christians need to adapt to reach people in these new formats. There will never be a replacement for talking to people face to face, as this is the most effective way to evangelize to others, but these electronic formats definitely have a place and use in these times to show others that the Holy Spirit is living at St. Nicholas Church.
So, writing...
I am seriously thinking of writing a book. A few people have suggested that I do so...I have an idea for one. I'd like to write about the 14 year gap during which I left Christianity until I came back to it earlier this year. I think these missing years that I haven't really talked or wrote about could maybe help someone who may have went through similar issues that I did.

The University of Akron offers non credit classes on how to write and edit, and get published, and I think I am going to sign up for the class during the spring semester if it's offered again. I have ideas for subjects to write about and post on Facebook and on my blog site, and I'd like to continue to do so while working on a book. I might consider self-publishing if I can't get someone to publish it for me. I have no idea how much something like this would cost. The goal from this is not to make money, but to help someone. So, if I can't find a publisher, I would put it in some format online, for free.

So that's the plan. May God bless my endeavors.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Friday, September 11, 2009

There are angels that walk among us

There are angels that walk among us, disguised as humans. And I think I met one at Mount St. Macrina last weekend.

You can read about the details of what this pilgrimage is about at:

A fellow member of my church offered to share her hotel room with me if I was interested in making the pilgrimage to Mt. St. Macrina. I accepted, and make the trip with her. The three-hour trip through the mountains of Pennsylvania passed quickly, and we were soon at our destination. Once we were settled in our room, we went over to Macrina, which was just across the street. My traveling companion's brother is a priest with an eparchy in California, and we went to meet with him, and the three sisters from his parish who came with him. I interpreted that the three sisters were nuns, but they were actually biological sisters who made the trip together. They made the trip early to help the nuns of St. Basil prepare for the onslaught of approximately 5000 pilgrims from all over the world that would be descending on that mountain over the next several days.

The sister's devotion to God was apparent, as well as their love for the Blessed Virgin. You could see it in their faces as well as through their actions. One of them especially touched my heart. During the liturgy on Monday morning, there was an elderly gentleman that was having trouble standing. She helped him to his feet, and then went and made sure that a priest came to him to offer communion. It was apparent that the man wanted to try to do all of this on his own, but was unable to do so. Of anything that I witnessed over this weekend, this was the most moving site that I saw. It wasn't the procession, or the liturgies; it was watching this woman giving of herself to make sure that this man was taken care of spiritually. But I am getting ahead of myself in this story.

For the past few weeks, I've been hunting for a copy of a small Byzantine prayer book that my friend Joanne had lent to me. Hers is an old book from the 1960's. I had not been able to find a copy online anywhere. So I was very happy when I found one in the gift shop. I hoped to find some time to read it while we were there on the mountain. There was an enormous amount of people there, and trying to find some kind of solitude, even for a brief time, seemed impossible. I would have loved to have been there by myself, sitting in the chapel of the old Motherhouse, or outside at the Shrine Altar. This was probably a selfish thought, but it was how I felt.

Saturday evening's candlelight procession was very nice, but it couldn't compare to the events of the next day.

Sunday found me lighting candles for many people. I got a telephone call that morning from my husband saying that it was possible that the shingles my father in law developed two weeks ago from the cancer had spread to his eyes. I went back and lit another candle.

There was a Divine Liturgy at 4:00 that Sunday afternoon. The outside pews quickly filled up, as well as the surrounding areas behind them. My friend and I arrived early to get a good seat. There was an empty spot next to me, and a young man came and sat there. We started talking to each other, and I looked down at the book that he was holding, and it was the exact same prayer book that I had bought the previous day. I asked him about it, and he said that he bought when he was at the seminary. I thought maybe he was studying to be a priest, but he said no, that he had a family. His name was Michael, and he had a starry eyed look to him that made me think that he was new to the faith. I found out that he was actually in his ninth year of coming back to the church. I think that what I was seeing in him was someone who was totally in love with his God, and that the experiences of that weekend were touching his heart immensely. We talked about how we both hoped that we would always feel the way we did at that moment, and that we never wanted our experiences in the faith to become routine.

My new friend said that he was coming back next year, and was going to bring his family with him. I pray that I meet him again.

My traveling companion and I didn't walk the procession that evening. She decided that it would be too much on my ankle, and she was probably right. So she scouted out a good bench for us to sit and view it. We had a little bit of a wait before things were going to get started. My friend wandered off to talk to old acquaintances, and I pulled out my new little book from my purse. While I was reading, I shut out everyone and pretty much everything that was around me. But one person, who I had never met before, found her way over to me. My traveling companion and this person had a mutual bond of a priest they both knew. I put my book away. I had a feeling that this was someone who I was going to want to listen to.

This woman had something about her, different from anyone that I have ever met before. God seemed to beam from her. Her name was Mary. All of her very grown 4 daughters were named Mary with different middle names. I told her that I could trump her because I had given my daughter the exact same name as mine, Kathleen Marie. Mary's were in abundance. You could say this was an irony, but I don't think so. God surrounded me with Mary for a reason.

Mary and I talked of our faith. She asked how I came to become a Byzantine Catholic. I told her about my Chrismation, and about how much it had changed my life. While there was a human body sitting next to me, it felt like I was talking with something much more than that. She asked about my husband, and I told her about our upcoming Convalidation ceremony. She put her arm around me and said "Honey, I am so happy for you." Tears filled her eyes, and they ran down my face. This woman understood my happiness, and my heart. We talked about a lot of things that evening that I have since forgotten.

How can I tell you of that evening's procession? It was surreal. The wind picked up, and quickly turned over the leaves of the trees. These are the evenings that I wait for all year, the early beginnings of autumn. Having all this happen while up on the highest part of a mountain doubled the experience. As the evening prayer started after the procession, the moon rose over the shrine, and it was blood red. I've never seen the moon this color before.

And then, as quickly as my Mary appeared in my life, she was gone.

There are angels that walk among us, disguised as humans. And I now know that I met one at Mount St. Macrina last weekend.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself

This past weekend was the yearly trip to Mariapoch in Burton, Ohio. For those not familiar with what this is, it's an annual pilgrimage made to pay homage to the Dormition of the Theotokos (i.e., the passing of Mary, Mother of God). It's a sister shrine to the place in Hungary where there is an icon of Mary that first wept tears in 1696. The last recording of the icon weeping was in 1905. There is an old looking icon at Burton of Mary, but I don't know the history of it or if it has any connection to the Mariapoch in Hungary.
The grounds and buildings at the American Mariapoch are absolutely beautiful. I was fortunate enough to be able to make it there for both Saturday and Sunday. The weather was so hot that it limited how much I was able to look around and all the statues and groves dedicated to Mary. I plan to go up at a later date (and to not forget my camera on both days) and spend more time looking at everything and taking pictures.
There were several services over the weekend, including Vespers, Liturgy, and an Akathist service, as well as a campout for the Eparchial Byzanteen group. On Sunday, they were supposed to recite the Jesus Prayer at 2:45. There was something being broadcasted over the loudspeakers, but it didn't sound like the prayer. So I went and checked out the new gift shop and bought some things. The Hierarchical Divine Liturgy was the main reason I had went up on Sunday with our church priest and his family. I was present at two liturgies that our bishop had celebrated in the past, and had enjoyed listening to him speak. The gospel for this Sunday was from Matthew 18 23-35. It's the parable about how a servant of the king asks for more time to pay his debt, and the king absolves him from it. Then, this servant admonishes his own slave for the same thing and has his put in jail. Now, this was the fourth time I had heard this passage in as many days, and it was haunting me. It started the previous Thursday with a video I watched on the same subject, and then continued with an mp3 program I had downloaded and listened to that afternoon. The ironic thing was that this is the very subject I had been wrestling with, forgiveness. I had been questioning why I was having such a hard time forgiving myself for my past, when God had forgiven all. The things I were beating myself up over weren't even things t hat I needed to go to the person and ask for forgiveness, and there weren't amends that I could make, it was just me. Forgiveness had already been given. I talked about this subject on Facebook, and a friend there told me to get over it, and she was right.
The next morning, I finally realized why it was that I was having such a hard time with forgiving myself. As much as I had thought in my own heart that I had forgiven wrongs that were done to me, I truly had not forgiven them. I said the words during liturgy, but it was said in my head, and not my heart. The hurts that I thought were finally in my past were still there. I don't think I need to forget them, but I need to forgive so that I can move on from this point. One of my favorite quotes is that "Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself." And I was refusing the gift.
At the Friday night vigil for the feast, I was told to mentally put my hurt in a box, place it up there on the altar, and offered it up to God. And while it wasn't all gone, I made the promise to try to forgive.
Being at Mariapoch on Sunday, and listening to the message once again from the bishop, it was hard to hold resentment inside of me anymore.  After all, if Mary held no resentment whatsoever toward those who had crucified her son, who I am to hold anger and hurt toward those to have wronged me?  Maybe this is just the start of what may be an ongoing process, of me placing my hurt up on that altar until the last of it is finally gone. 
I wonder a lot why people have to go through the things that they do.  I believe that there is something to learn from every experience, good and bad, although the reason may not be obvious to the person at that time, or it may not be understood until many years have passed.  I do know that in the end, it makes us stronger people.  You can be bitter about what has happened, or you can use your experience to help someone else.  The choice is theirs to make. Their life can be ruled by love, or fear.  My fear of being hurt again is keeping me from being able to fully forgive.  And I need to learn to let go of it, and to fully trust God.
So I pray that this is the true beginning of my hurt being gone, and that I've been made a stronger person for having gone through it.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Getting out of my own way

I pray weird. I pray every morning while I am taking a shower.There are a couple of reasons for this. One, I take a shower first thing in the morning, and two, it’s a place where I know I won’t be disturbed for some time. My first prayer usually goes something like this: “God, I probably messed up something yesterday, let’s try this again today, shall we? And I promise to try harder to get things right today.” My second prayer is to pray for everyone that I know needs to be prayed for, and my third prayer is to open myself up to let Him work through me whatever way He sees best.Sometimes, I end up being late for work because I spend too much time in the shower JAbout 2 weeks ago, I started writing an article called “I am Catholic.” I only intended it to be a one-blog piece about how I came to join the Catholic Church. But as I wrote it, It seemed to take on a life of its own and ended up being 3 blogs long.After I finished the first part of the article and posted it, I was asked if I would mind if it was included in our church bulletin the following Sunday (tomorrow). I said yes with no hesitation. Half of the reason I write is because I hope it can help someone who struggles with the same issues that I do, besides helping me to think out loud.But as I started writing the second part, I had to include some subjects to show how I got to where I did spiritually. There were other things that were happening before and after the time that my nephew lived with us, not of my own doing, just circumstances in other’s lives that had a profound impact on me. I don’t know if it was the subject matter of the second part, but I started to feel really uncomfortable with my decision to let my story be published. Saying I was uncomfortable is putting it mildly…. I’ve been so worked up that my stomach has been in knots for days. I know I have been driving a few of my friend’s nuts with my insecurities. I didn’t write anything horrid, or untrue, but I haven’t been able to put my finger on just why it’s upset me so much. Maybe it’s just the dredging up of unpleasant memories that I’d rather not think about. I thought of asking that it not be included in the bulletin, and then just deleting the blogs and forgetting that I ever wrote it. But that wasn’t right. Everyone kept reassuring me the article was good and that they thought it would help a lot of people. This didn’t console me much. I don’t know what it was, and maybe I will never know.Regardless of the reason, the time has come to let go of what happened in the past. And maybe writing is a way for me to work through this.Before February of this year, I never wrote, I never felt a need to. I have a blog on Livejournal that I’ve kept for many years, but I’d just assume no one read it :)But since this past February, writing is all that I seem to want to do. It’s like something takes over my hands, and the words form themselves. It’s like it’s all bottled up inside of me, and I can’t rest until it’s wrote down. Jim and I went to the liturgy this evening. We sat in the back of the church. I opened the bulletin, and the entire article was there. I took it out, and put it aside. I was glad it was there in its entirety instead of three parts, better to get my agony done and over with instead of dragging it out over the next few weeks. About halfway through the liturgy, I had worn one of my fingernails down to a nice scoop shape from picking at it so much. I kept staring up at the icon of Jesus, and suddenly realized that my prayer, the one asking Him to work through me as He saw best, had been answered. He’s been doing it the whole time, and here I am, fighting it because I didn’t particularly enjoy the subject matter of this article, even though it will help others. Truly, I am at peace with it now.Sometimes, I need to get out of my own way, and let God do the work that I asked him to do.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

I am Catholic, part 3

There were other things that happened right around that time that contributed to what I was going through. I didn't believe that I was ever going to be able to pull myself out of my depression and get back to the person that I was before all this happened. I guess if the truth were told, I didn't really want to go back to being that person anyway.

The other night, a friend of mine said that if you are not feeling close to God, ask yourself which one moved. I know God never went anywhere, it was me to chose to turn my back on Him for all those years. This past February, I was accused by a former friend of something I did not do. My simple prayer that morning was "God knows me, God knows my faults, and He knows the truth about me." And I got an answer immediately. Yes, God knew me, God knew my heart, He knew the truth about me….and He wanted me to follow Him again. Imagine God dope-slapping you upside your head, and that's about what it was like. I never looked back.

Afterwards, I told Jim that I wanted to find a church to attend, a Catholic church. At that time, the only rite I had heard of within the Catholic Church was the Roman rite. Jim had attended a Byzantine rite church two years prior for a brief amount of time. He would come home and tell me about it, but frankly, I didn't pay much attention to him. He told me what the liturgy was like, and it sounded very confusing. Then he remember ed that this Byzantine church broadcasted the previous week's liturgy on Thursday mornings on cable, so we taped it. Once I watched it, and also studied some on just what Byzantine Catholicism was, we decided to find a church to attend. It only made sense to start with the church we had watched on TV, especially since it was so close to our home. The priest looked like a kind man, and the choir sounded awesome. But just in case this wasn't the church for us, we wrote up a list of all the Byzantine church's in the area, and made up our minds to check them out until we found one that felt like home.

We both knew our search was over by the end of the liturgy, and we joined St. Nicholas Church a couple of weeks later.

And now I am back to the question I asked at the start of this article, why join the Catholic Church? Why was I so attracted to it over the course of so many years?

I believe with all my heart in the undivided trinity, that Jesus is really present in the Eucharist, and that confession is a gift from God (even though I have a hate/love relationship with it).

Catholicism is the church that Jesus founded. Byzantine Catholicism hasn't changed a whole lot over the centuries, and I love the tradition of it. Being Catholic isn't easy, especially in today's world. I could have chose a denomination of Christianity that didn't come with the discipline of Catholicism, or one of those mega churches that are popular now.

But God called me home, to the Catholic Church.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

I am Catholic, part 2

On that night in the church, I cried my heart out to God. Why was this happening to us? I thought that all my years of dealing with children would have prepared me for the challenge of this one child. I started babysitting kids when I was 10 years old. I had been a glorified traveling nanny for a few months after I graduated from high school for a group of doctors who were trying to recruit residents for the new Barberton Family Practice Center. When my children were little, I ran a daycare in my home for several years. I was a Girl Scout leader, Room mother, lunch lady, and had worked with children who had fetal alcohol syndrome at a local daycare for parents who were in treatment for addiction problems. We raised our own children well. Children were my life. Surely I could straighten this one child out.

I put everything I had into my nephew. I enrolled him in a school for children with Asperger's syndrome, found him a new therapist, and placed him in a school for karate that was also designed to help with self-esteem issues. I even went from full time to part time work so that I would have the time20to get him to where he needed to go, and to be home when the construction work was going on. My children were really starting to resent the intrusion their cousin was making in all of our lives. I really believed that I could"fix" him, and hoped that they would eventually understand why I was trying so hard.

But my attempts to help my nephew weren't working. He had learned very well how to control my in-laws during the 6 years that he had lived with them, and they couldn't see through it. My nephew also has Neurofibromatosis type II, and there were some small shadows of tumors on his brain. And while this could possibly make him prone to headaches, they always seemed to conveniently appear Monday through Friday at 8:00 a.m., before we were supposed to leave to drop him off at his school. I don't mean to make light of his illness, it's a very serious one. He will have to be monitored the rest of his life to watch for tumors. Nevertheless, he knew how to use it to manipulate those around him.

On the mornings when he would attempt to get ill in our bathroom, I would ignore it, and make him get in the car so I could take him to school. I was becoming someone I didn't know anymore…this wasn't me. I had never treated a child like before. I had learned to put up a wall of emotionless expression whenever dealing with him so that he couldn't see that I had any amount of sympathy for him anymore, because if he saw me crack, he would use it to manipulate me. I didn't like the person I had to become when I was around him. I felt like a robot, not being able to give him normal reactions to things he would do or say. He would say cruel things about my family, and make up things one had said about the other that had no basis in truth, in his attempt to pit us against each other.

A couple of years ago, we were told that my nephew was incapable of feeling how other people do. His doctor said that he had severe attachment problems, and that he would probably always be this way. As long as he was placed somewhere where his basic needs were being met, it was the best that could be hoped for. But we didn't know this at the time that he lived with us. He had been abused in various forms during the first 3 years of his life, before he lived with my in-laws. But I was going to fix him. In hindsight, I understand this now; that there wasn't a whole lot I could have done to help him. At the time though, I felt like a failure.

So, on that night in the church, I was on my knees, praying for an answer. I was at a loss for what to do next. I expect that there was an answer to my outcry, but I didn't hear it on that night.

The breaking point with my nephew came 6 months after he began to live with us. It was a horrid day. He started in on Katie and me from the moment he opened his eyes that morning, telling me things she had said about me, and then would go to her and tell her lies too. By 4 o'clock of that afternoon, I'd had enough. I called my in-laws, and told them I was moving all my nephew's belongings out to our front porch, and that they better come and get him right now. And while this finally resolved the issue of him being out of our home, my severe guilt was just beginning. I had failed.

After my nephew was gone, I didn't go back to that church for a long time. I do know that it comforted me whenever I was there. But I chose to walk away from it. My guilt from kicking him out of our home was eating away at me, and I couldn't make it stop. I stayed trapped in a Hell of my own making for the next 3 years.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

I am Catholic, pt. 1

I am Catholic. Not only am I Catholic, I am Byzantine Catholic. How wonderful it is to say those words! I thought that my journey to the Catholic faith was a recent beginning, but after writing this article, I realized that I have been heading toward it for many years.
Of all the different denominations of Christianity out there, why would someone choose to become Byzantine Catholic? When I was growing up, I went to different sects of churches. My family did not attend church, and they had no problem with me going where I wanted. So, if friends or extended family members offered to take me, I'd go. I went to a Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, Non-Denominational, and a Roman Catholic Church. The church that had the biggest impression on me was Holy Trinity Church in Barberton, Ohio. There was a Hungarian family that lived behind me, and they would go to the Hungarian mass on Saturday evenings. Sometimes I would go with them. I didn't have a clue as to what was being said by the priest, and I wasn't allowed to receive communion. But I loved sitting there and watching everything that was going on around m e. I loved smelling the incense, and looking at the candles and watching the 5:00 p.m. sun shine through the stained glass windows.
The extent of my knowledge at that time of what Catholics did consisted of them crossing themselves a lot, kneeling in the pew, genuflecting, and going up to the priest to get something to put in their mouth after a lot of praying was done. Oh, and confession. I had heard stories from my friends about how you had to go into a little boxed room, with the priest on one side, and you on the other, and a little door between the two of you. Supposedly, your parish priest didn't know who you were, or so one of my friends had told me. Knowing what I now know of confession, I find that hard to believe.
So while I visited many churches during my early teenage years, I never became a member of one. I had a faith in God though. I was baptized in 1989 at a local church. I felt the Holy Spirit in me after that, but that church just was not the right one for me. I eventually quit attending, and I didn t go back to a church for 14 years.
Five years ago I was experiencing a great deal of upheaval in my life. I had literally gone to bed one night one night a few days before Thanksgiving in 2003, healthy, and woke up at 4 a.m. with double pneumonia and was hospitalized for 4 days.  It took me several weeks to recover.  A few days after Christmas, my nephew, who has Asperger's Syndrome, as well as other issues, was placed with us through Children Services. It looked like it was going to be a permanent placement. We started construction work to build an additional bedroom, as well as other projects that needed to be done on our house. My life, as well as my family's, was in an uproar. My nephew doing whatever he could to cause strife between my children and me didn't help things.
About this time my husband, Jim, had started going to a local Roman Catholic Church to pray the rosary at noon, and occasionally I would go with him. Some evenings, we would go to the church and just sit. I think Jim knew that I needed a break from the tension in the house. I never thought that I would be sitting in a church again, praying to God. I was convinced that I had committed blasphemy of the Holy Spirit many years before, and that God would not listen to me again. Praying seemed pointless, but I tried anyway.
One night, after a really bad day, Jim and I went to the church. I remember getting on my knees in front of the statue of the Virgin Mary, and sobbing.