Buckle up, friends–I am taking you with me on my journey of faith. Hold on to your seats.
It is true–God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He does not change, and His love for us does not change. This could seem a bit boring at first glance. At least that is what I thought, until I found out about the Holy Spirit, the saints, spiritual warfare, the entire life of Jesus, miracles of God’s providence and healing, Eucharistic miracles, Marian apparitions, incorruptible saints…just to name a few.
God is creative, powerful, all-knowing, a problem solver, a way maker, a healer, a counselor, a helper, a miracle worker, closer than we think, merciful, lives inside of us, loving, and yes…I believe God is adventurous.
I first encountered Him while on an 8th-grade N.E.T. retreat when our leaders invited us to write a letter to Jesus and tell Him anything. A team member eventually came near me and prayed for me by name. Just like that, I knew Jesus was there with me, and He knew me personally and loved me. It was a gift.
After returning home, I walked into my mother’s bedroom and boldly announced, “Mom, Jesus is real! Jesus really loves me and I am going to tell everyone about Him!” I ran to my bedroom and found a box of prayer cards my grandmother had given me throughout the years. I pulled all the ones with images of Jesus on them. I quickly discovered my favorite one because it was an image of Jesus praying for us. He looked handsome, sweet, and He seemed like a gentleman. I was intrigued.
I began reading the big dusty Bible I found in the living room on the top shelf. I did not get far.
A few months later, I attended my first Steubenville Youth Conference. During this conference, again, I was visited personally by the Holy Spirit. I had zero understanding of the gifts of the Holy Spirit and had never seen anything like this before. About five thousand people were singing at the top of their lungs with their hands lifted high to God, there was such a strong sense of peace, and I felt like I might be drunk and had to lay down. Before I knew it, I was crying, laughing, experiencing unexplainable joy, and speaking in a foreign language that I did not understand. I had no idea what was happening, but it was so good I did not go to sleep that night. In my hotel room, we gathered and continued to pray and ask the Holy Spirit to be with us. With my eyes closed, I began seeing images along with a clear understanding of their meaning as I shared it with others in the room. I knew this was a real supernatural experience, and it was very good.
This was the beginning of my faith adventure with God. Why does this matter? It is so important to remember…He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
My faith grew more as people mentored me and truly supported me in getting to know God. They taught me how to pray and many other aspects of our faith. Even to this day, mentorship has been a key part of my faith walk. Without it, I have the potential of forgetting how good God is, and I can so easily get lost in myself and the distractions of this world.
After college, I was offered an opportunity to lead pilgrimages to holy sites all over the world with a company called Magnificat Travel. I know, right!?! I was paid to travel on pilgrimage, to walk in the footsteps of Jesus and the saints, and to accompany pilgrims on their journey. Even writing it right now, the thought of this makes me laugh with a childlike giggle. When the owner Maria asked me to take the position, I tried to convince her this was a bad idea. Although I was thrilled, I told her the truth about myself. I have a horrible sense of direction; I have a fear of being lost, and I do not speak any foreign languages. She laughed and told me she trusted me because I trusted Jesus.
I had no idea how much I would need this quality later in life.
There are so many stories I could share, and I will reveal lessons I learned while bringing people on pilgrimage. One of the greatest opportunities I have now, I believe, is I get to share these inspiring stories of conversion, healing, and commissioning with you. What a great privilege! Thank you for being on this journey with us. After all, we are in this to sharpen and encourage one another and to remember that we are not alone! Right?! Can I get an Amen?
Ok, back to the story.
After traveling for several years, I met my husband, Marcelo. Jesus sent him to me. I believe this to be true for many reasons I will share later. Here is a hint: God knows I like being different, and I love keeping people on their toes. I will leave it there for now, so you read more later. See, it’s working, right?
Here is the great news: God knows I enjoy adventure, and I never wanted a white picket fence. A mural is more my style. Although I do not personally have a mural in my backyard, we created one at the community diner/soup kitchen that we manage. We live in a rural, small town in southern Louisiana near crawfish ponds. How funny is that? Oh, did I mention my husband is from New York City? It has been so enjoyable teaching him how to peel crawfish, understand Cajun accents, and learn how to Zydeco dance.
There are so many other things I want to share. I cannot spill all my beans now, so stay tuned.
Cheers to our new faith adventure together, friends! And finding joy along the way.