“But God will redeem my life from the grave; he will surely take me to himself.”
I am completely humbled at the thought of God using me in any manner other than sharing Bible studies with local ladies-even that is crazy to me. If you told me 8 years ago that I would be doing half the things that I am (or have done) I’d tell you to get checked out “because your trippin.” Then He came along with a ‘But God’ moment.
So. Here’s my story.
I grew up in a household with two Irish immigrant parents. Church on Sunday was a given, as was listening to 90.7 that afternoon to listen to Irish music and ‘news from Ireland’. My parents showed their belief and love of God in their commitment to Him. From attending service regularly to saying the rosary and working hard. FAMILY was the center of our lives. Family comes first. If and when we have the opportunity to travel to Ireland it is expected we take time to visit family. We had family reunions on my dad’s side while I was growing up… Traveling into Long Island wasn’t exactly fun (traffic is horrendous) but we had a blast once we got there. Family-the people that know the good, bad and the ugly…. and still love you. Well, that’s mine at least.
I attended Catholic school from first through eight grade. After eight years there you’d think I’d have a ton of stories to tell but I don’t. Just a few. To be honest, I don’t have a lot of memories from my childhood. Not sure why. I’m not going to say anything bad happened. Because it didn’t. Grade school had some fun parts to it. One memory I like is playing ‘duck, duck, goose’. Oh, then there was being in the play ‘Singing in the Rain’. I don’t remember too much about it except swinging with the paper umbrella. The best part of that memory though is my first memory of my childhood best friend…even if she was upset with me. LOL
As part of growing up in the Christian faith is preparing for our Confirmation. It was during this prep time that I really began to feel how much God truly loved me. The sacrifice that He made for me brought tears to my eyes and my heart ached for the pain He went through. For me. For all of us. The prep time also included learning about those that gave their life for Christ. Those that suffered to share His Word. I’m not sure if it is done in the Protestant churches but in the Catholic Church we choose a saint to be named after. Mine was St. Catherine DeRicci. It was a memorable time for me.
As I grew up and went through high school I fell away from God. As many of us do. By the end of high school I met my first husband. We were definitely too young to marry, but we did. Although the marriage was difficult and didn’t last we had two beautiful and awesome kids. My ex and I had a few years of difficulty at first (with the divorce) but that didn’t last too long and we all get along great now and often spend Christmas Eve together with our kids and our new spouses.
***NOTE: I am NOT encouraging anyone to get divorced. Marriage is meant to be a life time commitment and I am sorry that my first marriage ended in such a way. If your married, FIGHT for your marriage, for the one you love. It’s work but it’s SO worth it!***
During the time after my divorce and meeting my second husband I fell in and out of relationship with God. Looking back I get aggravated a bit with myself because I was able to see, even then, that when I spent time at church worshipping God I always felt better and stronger. Even through all the storms. As I look back at that time I can see how God worked. As financially strapped I was He always provided a way to pay the bills. He guided me to a job in which I was only a few minutes from home and was flexible with time off. However, I so very insecure on who I was. What I was capable of doing and would anyone really love me. You see, I didn’t really know God yet.
In 2005, my niece and my husband’s nephew & niece set us up to meet (blindly) at a 300 club dinner. I had just days before told God that if He wanted me to meet a good man it was all up to Him…I wasn’t ready for this one! I looked at the night out as time out, I knew at least my niece would be there. As I sat there his neice brought him directly to me (to my surprise). The words out of my neice’s mouth still make me turn red. “Uncle Fred, this is my Aunt Tara. We’re trying to find her a man.” I was floored! And poor Fred. I’m already a quiet person when I first meet people. He was lucky if I spoke ten words that night. LOL
Now comes my ‘But God’ moment.
We bought a house about an hour away from our families in an area we could actually afford. Less than a year later (and almost 8 years to the day from today) God put on my heart to ‘do’ something for Lent rather than give something up. And that ‘do’ He wanted was to help out a local food pantry. I called our town clerk’s office and was given the number to a local Methodist church. I called and left a message. Within a day I had a call back from Bill. Bill, who I quickly found out, enjoys to talk. He had me on the phone (with no complaint from me) for over half an hour! By the time we hung up I had promised to stop by the food pantry that Saturday to drop off a bag of food.
Saturday came, and with a bit of getting lost, I got to the food pantry with my bag of food. I didn’t get to meet Bill, but there was Barbara. After a little discussion with her I told them I would see them at church the next day. Fred and I had been looking for a church in the area at the time. The next day, on my birthday, I walked into the 8am service-alone, Fred had to work Sundays at the time. I. WAS. HOOKED! The pastor at the time had (and still has) such a passion for the love of God and His Word. It was just amazing. For weeks and weeks I sobbed through the service. God was saying ‘Welcome Home‘, and ‘I LOVE YOU‘-I love you-no matter the mistakes you’ve made (and I had made so many). I know now that people were wondering what was wrong that I cried, even sobbed so much, but no one knew me well enough to ask yet. And to be honest I didn’t really get it at first. I found God’s forgiveness, His acceptance and the true power of the Holy Spirit for the first time.
It was here that I first went to ‘fellowship’ after service. That I learned about Bible studies-and how important they are. I couldn’t get enough of worship service, Bible studies…. It was a whole new world to me. I didn’t know that my relationship with God could be SO personal and intimate, so fulfilling. I slowly noticed how God changed me. Changes I was not making consciously. I no longer enjoyed certain books or movies and now enjoyed being in the Bible. The INFALLABLE Word of God.
With the guidance of lay leaders in the church and different pastors I learned to be involved in the church and not just attend. I learned the importance of sharing His Word, of committing to tithe back to Him what is already His. And eventually to having the opportunity to share His Word to my church on a handful of Sunday mornings. I am not being called to be a pastor. In fact God has recently called my husband and I to a new church. Calling me to trust Him with my life. It was difficult to completely leave that first church. So many friends. So many memories (my husband and I married there). In the new church I will not be able to share His Word on Sunday mornings. And that’s OK. God is good. He is always faithful. And His ways are always better than our ways.
He placed in my heart months ago to begin a blog but didn’t give me the go ahead. Until now.
There is so much I personally would love to accomplish with this. To share my love and passion for Him. To show that He loves us all. Believer or not. To share this with those around us. All things and many more I would like to explore with you.
It’s going to be a journey. I hope you’ll join me.