Posts tagged ‘Faith’



{by Mary Lauren Weimer, My 3 Little Birds}

I almost didn’t go.

It was spitting Michigan sleet and I was tempted to change into sweatpants and curl up on my chair with dinner in my lap.

Sometimes, if I turned the antenna in just the right way, I could pick up Canadian channels. To me that sounded almost exotic–watching foreign television. But I’d worn a dress and heels to work, and all that wardrobe effort would have been wasted on another evening alone in my apartment if I didn’t venture out.

It was Ash Wednesday.  I needed Lent like detox.

I’d spent a long time searching for arrows in my life, guideposts telling me which way to go. Some came in the form of the lives I modeled:

 The vegetarian girl.

The young mother across the street.

The twenty-something who worked at my hometown music store, the one who steered me toward Joni Mitchell.

Some came in what I thought were signs:

A “C” in Sophomore English meant I had no future as a writer.

The boy who treated me badly meant that others would too.

Some came from others’ expectations…my family, teachers, professors, friends.

I looked to them to tell me where I was going, and more than that, who I was.  There had been years of living a want-to life.

I’d talked to my mother earlier that day. She told me the trees back home had started to bloom.

I cried,

hungry for Spring,

ready for change,

sick for home.

I sat by myself in that church and let the familiar words wash me clean.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

After the Gospel a woman stood and approached the lectern.  She clearly wasn’t a priest but on that dreary Detroit Ash Wednesday I heard the voice of God through her West Virginia accent.  It was a gift.

In that service I was home.

That day I learned the difference between looking for myself in others and listening to the voice inside.

Looking, listening.  Searching.

I still get lost on the path to finding.

I save the moments, though–like the unexpected Appalachian voice in a Michigan church.

These moments are crumbs along the way.  Bread.

I take them and eat, well fed for the day.

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Read Mary Lauren’s original post and comments at My 3 Little Birds, a blogging spot she declares a pillow fort.   Follow her on Twitter and Facebook for even more of her MOMents of Motherhood.

{Pick by Story Editor Robin Dance :: @PensieveRobin.}


How To Be An Artist

{by Emily of Chatting at the Sky}

Piano was my major until my sophomore year of college. That was when I quit. Required practice and theory classes and hours upon hours in fluorescent lit rooms with Chopin and Czerny did not bring out the art in me, it nearly made it die. I quit simply because I wanted to love it again. It’s the same reason why I will probably never be a real professional photographer. The art of it doesn’t outweigh the responsibility enough, and so I continue to learn at my own pace and in my own way. I take pictures because it helps me see. And that is all.

For a long time, writing was private for me. Over time and through this blog, writing has become something different. Of all the art there is in the world, writing is the art that brings the most satisfaction as well as the most fear. I can avoid the piano for months at a time. But if I don’t write, there is a distinct possibility I might not exist. I know that isn’t actually true, but that is how it feels.

I write for pleasure, for remembering, for learning, for listening, and for money. I can write in the early morning hours as well as late at night. I squeeze it in ten minutes before it’s time to get the kids and quick while the water boils. Unlike piano or photography, the art of writing outweighs the pressure and expectations. For some people, the art of making music is worth the fluorescent lights with Chopin. For me, the art of writing is worth the fear, the risk, and the isolation.

Because I believe I’ve found the art that is also my worship, it is important to me to use it. To practice it. And to share it. When I played piano, it was always really difficult for me to play for people. I was nervous, embarrassed, and tried to avoid it at all costs. If I would have decided that was the art I wanted to pursue, I think I would have gotten better at sharing it. I would argue that unshared art is still art, but it feels more like a hobby. When you invite others to enter in and receive your creativity, then you are doing something holy, worshipful, and also terrifying. And that is the life of an artist.

Emily writes faith-words that become blocks for soul-towers, at her blog.
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Featured by story editor, Sara Sophia | @sarasophia


the wide white empty

{By Jessica at One Wild and Precious Life}

Today the earth is pressed against this wide white emptiness and there is still this gap in me, this hesitation.

I’ve been thinking about painting.

I remember in college making the best art when given many rules.
The still life was constructed. The lighting already determined.
Stand here. Paint that.
And so I did.

My fear was the blank canvas and nothing to paint.
No model, no instructions.
A painting.
I’d cringe.
I still do.

I think that I tend to live my life way, feeling for the boundary.
Just tell me what to do and I’ll do it, I’ll find a way to make it mine.
Whatever it is- make the best of it.
Bloom where you are planted.

I like limits.

I love the nights when I haven’t bought groceries in weeks and our pantry is nearly bare and I see that we have potatoes and I think, ah, potato soup .. . and then I remember I still have a little bacon in the freezer, and a hunk of cheese, and I’ll bake bread, and there is that cake mix I need to use, and frozen peaches, and suddenly this is sounding like the best meal all year.

But I can walk through the grocery store unable to think of one thing to make for dinner.
This is Art-
This is Life:

you find your materials:

the still life of junk-

the ugly sweater-
the lump of clay-

the useless, the forgotten, the awkward, the ordinary-
the lonely-

and you work, and rework, and see, and see again, and change directions and look, and turn it upside down and step back and see again . . . you get a cup of coffee and find a new cd and sit down and stand up and look and wait and see . . . and then you dip your brush and your hand is shaking just a little but you’re getting a little bit excited too because you’re thinking that maybe you’ve found something- and you keep digging, you keep painting- aware now that you are the magician, redeemer, the fairy godmother . . . releasing, liberating the thing, it’s up to you . . . but you’re sure now that it’s in there . .. the beauty . . . now it’s all you can see . . . and you keep painting, or sculpting, or writing, or maybe just waking up every day with all of the life that is in you and trying,

again . . .
until the beauty comes.

Tonight I am still sitting and looking.

It is the hardest part: the waiting, the empty canvas . . .
the search for beauty in what is not beautiful, meaning in what feels meaningless.
There is no lonelier place than before a blank canvas.

It is an act of faith,
this making art-
this making a life.
A long and usually lonely process of waiting,
and looking.

Of believing
and seeing again-

the beauty finds you.

Story Editor~ Heather King ::: @HeatheroftheEO

Jessica writes at one wild and precious life
You can read the original post here

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February 7, 2011 | Featured 2, HeatherEO, Wednesday 1

Everything Will Be Okay

{by Aidan Donnelley Rowley}

It is one of those moments. I am curled up in a bed not my own. Wrapped sloppily in scratchy wool. On my left side. It is late morning. The girls are outside playing with their father. Looking for hippos and dinosaurs. Making believe. Being kids.

And I am here. There. Resting. Because I am tired, so tired. And it’s quiet, so quiet, too quiet. In the distance, I hear the growl of a washing machine, the clanking of pots, the dragging of something big. But mostly? I hear the buzz of being alone.

An avalanche of anxiety. I think of all the things I must do and haven’t done. In the next two months. In my lifetime. I think of the sadness, sweet and stubborn, that lurks in the ale of adulthood; the pearly mist of melancholy we see and feel once we stop pretending. I think of my friend and the unthinkable tragedy she and her family suffered on Christmas day. On Christmas day.

I lie here. There. Body motionless, mind whirring with wonder and dread and, finally, some improbable and exquisite peace. I feel a kick. A thump. A something. Bold and strong and full of life. Just next to my belly button, that spot, small and centered, hidden so well. Beneath clothes and blankets and the most ferocious of fear. I reach my hand under the layers, real and imagined, splay my fingers wide and rest them there. I wait for more. For another movement. Another reminder. Another something.

And it comes. And here, there, alone, never alone, I smile to myself. And words come, a slow trickle, a silent stream.

Everything will be okay.

Words foolish and glorious. Words ridiculous and true. Words that save me.

And I sit up slowly, on that bed, less alone, more aware. Life and love, longing and loss pulsing proudly inside me. Me.

And I write these words. And in writing them, something lifts.

Everything will be okay.


Aidan Donnelley Rowley has been writing at Ivy League Insecurities since 2009. Subscribe to her blog by RSS or by email.
Aidan’s debut novel Life After Yes was released on May 18, 2010. She can also be found on Twitter and Facebook.

Featured by Story Editor Heather ::: @HeatheroftheEO


When Jesus isn’t enough

{by Kristen from We are THAT Family}

When I sat in his closet-sized home in the middle of Africa, I couldn’t take my eyes off the pathetic interior or ignore the dripping rain on my head.

I tried not to imagine the “community toilet” he shared with neighbors adjoined by paper-thin walls or how far he walked each way to school everyday, in the dark, both ways.

The peace on his face was undeniable and the light that radiated from his eyes filled the dark room of his orphan-led home.

I didn’t understand how he could be so content with so little. And I couldn’t stop the question, “Why are you so happy? Why aren’t you afraid?”

He looked at me as if I’d missed it entirely and said, “Because I have Jesus.”

He didn’t say anything else. It was a heavy statement. It was enough.

He was right, I had missed it. Entirely.

I equate Jesus to comfort and blessings. And when I sat in a hovel, a young boy called home, void of every comfort, I was envious of his contentment.

I returned to a lifestyle with every blessing, only wanting more.

I add Jesus like salt and pepper to a tasteless dish.

He isn’t the main course, just an extra on the side.

Jesus isn’t enough for me.

I think about my happiness that is clouded with every storm that blows into my life. I think about my happiness that is contingent upon what I have versus what I want. I think about my happiness and the strings I attach to it.

I think about a young boy who taught me more about Jesus and myself in a single sentence than my entire Bible College degree and 37 years of living.

One of the great lessons I learned in Africa: When Jesus isn’t enough, something is wrong.

I’m on a quest to make it all about Jesus. It’s easy surrounded by the comforts of my American life to melt back into the The American Way-bigger is better, more is what matters.

This is a painful journey, but more than anything, I want Him to be enough for me.

Is Jesus enough for you? If your happiness, like mine, is determined by how much or how little you have or the next exciting thing in your life, can I gently remind you to return to Him? He is waiting to be enough.

Kristen writes with depth and humor at We are THAT Family and has recently co-founded The Mercy House.
Subscribe to her blog or Facebook.
Follow her on Twitter @WeareTHATFamily.

Featured by Story Editor, Robin Dance.


Prison Break

Religion and Philosophy Blog Nosh MagazineOriginally posted on Ponderings.
first appeared on Blog Nosh Magazine on August 12, 2008

I attended a funeral for the father of new friend of mine recently. In our understanding he died too soon. He was only in his early 60′s. Although I never had the opportunity to meet this man, his funeral impacted my life. The tributes and memories shared by family and friends were beautiful. We viewed a slide presentation set to music, tracing the journey of his life. The one thing that really spoke to my heart was that this man had truly lived.

He was an adventurer. Fear didn’t hold him captive. He lived out loud. He wasn’t afraid to follow the dreams God had placed in his heart, and yet he didn’t take foolish risks. He enjoyed life to the full. In many ways he has gone from living to living.

My life in comparison would be such a shadow. Many of us would be likened to “dead men walking” in contrast. Oh, maybe outwardly we’re going through the motions. Jumping through all the right hoops. We know how to play the “Game of Life”. For generations it’s been the same. We’ve read the rules. We know the expectations. Years go by, but our passion is getting buried deeper and deeper. We are allowing ourselves and others to dig our own grave…only we’re still breathing. We’re being buried alive.

I read recently of someone who, though living, described themselves as dead. Have you been there? Have you been to that dark place that numbs the heart. Apathy is your new normal. You feel indifferent…listless. You’ve lost interest in all your surroundings. Dejection and weariness characterize your existence. You are no longer a participant, but a spectator. You have eyes that see, without seeing. Ears that hear without hearing. A heart still capable of loving has become your prison. You feel empty, drained, alone.

Unbelievers are not the only ones held captive. Many Christians live life behind locked doors. Self-imposed cells. Discouragement, pain, rejection, insecurity, fear, accusations, past, present, future all build up walls. Gasping for breath you feel smothered, yet weakness and familiarity keep you hostage. It’s often comforting to stay in the security of this new normal. Realizing work and effort may lay ahead, awakening holds too many uncertainties. A strange part of you enjoys the attention, pity and compassion from others. Silence is your truest friend and your most consuming enemy.

The problem? Right now life seems too overwhelming. Negatives far out-weigh the positives. Somehow your focus has shifted from what can be, to what is. Often it’s a slow fade. Unfulfilled desires in a marriage, demanding children, a stressful job, painful, abusive memories, illness, …disappointment in God. Oh, you’d probably not come right out and say that, but somewhere along the line, you’ve felt God has let you down. You had plans. You had desire. Your life was filled with enthusiasm and drive. You’ve been robbed in the cruelest way possible. You don’t have to worry about being one step closer to the grave, you’re already there.

How can I write of this? I’ve been there. I am all too familiar with premature death. But, can I offer you hope? If you are still breathing, you are not dead. Like a seed that may sit dormant all winter long, you are experiencing a winter in your soul. The season will change. Like the story of the “Secret Garden”, there are treasures in you to be unearthed. Darkness can have a valuable purpose.

I don’t know what God will do to call you back to life again, but He will. God is a God of Resurrection.  He specializes in bringing the dead back to life. He wants to see you running and leaping. He comes to you, as He did to the blind beggar named Bartimaeus and asks, “What do you want Me to do for you?” He will not force Himself on you. He holds the keys to your release in open, nail-scarred hands and offers them to you. He is not the one holding you in bondage. Self-imposed shackles are the only things holding you hostage. Today could be your Prison Break!

Acts 16:26 “Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody’s chains came loose.”

Editor’s Pick by Robin @ PENSIEVE. Although we didn’t meet in person, Joy and I first crossed paths at SheSpeaks in June. Her signature, “Joyful”, suits her, all of her posts are infused with light and life. I love reading Christian writers who don’t offer trite, “Sunday school answers”, and Joy candidly shares her journey of faith without falling into that trap. Subscribing to Ponderings in your reader will bring joy to your life, I promise. Clicking through to Joy’s original post will allow you see her comments as well.


Canoe Day

Religion and Philosophy Blog Nosh Magazine{Originally published  at Graceful}

A few weeks ago I realized that I am getting better at praying.

We were canoeing in the Boundary Waters, a remote, uninhabited wilderness in northern Minnesota. I should preface this by admitting that I am not a canoeist. Prior to this outing I had canoed twice in my entire life, both times when Brad and I were first dating (that alone speaks volumes). But Brad wanted to take the kids on a little adventure while we were in Minnesota, and I wasn’t going to be the only stuffed shirt who stayed home.

We glided across the glinting lake, our paddles dipping rhythmically in and out of the water. The kids dangled their fingers in the lake as we wove around lily pads and through golden lake grass, undulating like ribbons just beneath the surface. Noah admired the lavender iris springing from the edges of the marshy shore. It was, in a word, Heaven.

After about two hours of easy paddling, we pulled the canoe onto an island and portaged (i.e. lugged really heavy, cumbersome canoe across dry land while being viciously attacked by massive swarms of mosquitoes) to the other side. But as we rounded the corner on the far side of the island, we were surprised to find ourselves nearly knocked flat by a gale force wind. Somehow the wind that had been a barely perceptible breeze at our backs had escalated to Hurricane Andrew.

Brad and I secured the kids’ life vests, and as we plunged in, pushing off the rocks lining the shore with our paddles, it took about 30 seconds for me to realize that the return trip was not going to be relaxing. Though I was paddling as hard as I could, when I glanced at the shore, it wasn’t moving; we were literally paddling in place. To make matters worse, the water was no longer gently lapping but was instead gushing over the bow of the canoe in a torrent, and every few minutes the canoe threatened to turn broadside against the waves.

“Michelle! Michelle! ” Brad yelled over the wind from the stern. “You have to paddle faster, paddle harder! The canoe has to stay against the waves, we can’t get broadsided!” The kids were terrified, and I was afraid, too (not sure about Brad; he doesn’t let on in situations such as this). When I looked over my shoulder, Noah was clutching the sides of the canoe with a steely grip, his eyes wide like he was witnessing Loch Ness rear out of the lake. Meanwhile Rowan was screaming over and over, “We’re all gonna die! We’re all gonna die!”

I tried to console them. “No, no, no, everything’s okay, we’re going to be just fine, everything’s going to be just fine, it’s just a little wavy, that’s all.” The problem is, you can’t really speak soothingly in hushed tones in a 30 mph wind. As I screamed reassurances, my voice pinched and shrill, the kids just looked more terrified.

And that’s when I prayed. I’ll admit, it was a combination of cursing and praying…but this is progress. A year or two ago, it would have been entirely cursing. So when I wasn’t blasting Brad in my head – “Stupid, stupid idea. Mr. Stupid Nature Man dragging us out here in this god-forsaken stupid wilderness.” (you get the idea), I was praying, “Please God, please God, please don’t let the canoe turn over, please help us get to shore safely, please give me the strength to keep paddling, please keep my children safe.” I even thought about suggesting to the kids that we pray out loud, together. But I ditched that idea when I realized it probably would have panicked them further. “What??? Mommy’s praying? Mommy’s praying! We’re all gonna die!!!”

We made it to shore; I lived to tell about it (and complain about it). And when it was all over, I realized two things in the aftermath. One: that I was seriously lacking in upper body strength; so much, in fact, that turning the knob on the radio dial would require two hands (one hand to turn the dial and the other to brace the arm of the hand turning the dial) for a full week. And two, that I could turn to God, that I would turn to God, in a time of distress. Sure it was a desperation prayer, but those count, too – especially when you feel in your heart that those prayers will make a difference.

Editor’s pick by Michele from Sparks and Butterflies.  Michelle is a new-to-me read. What attracted me was her simple, matter-of-fact approach to describing her relationship with God, as well as her honesty in the direction and changes this relationship has had. When I read her, I feel like I’m reading truth – warts and all. Please check out her original post, and then be sure to subscribe to her feed.


Bennett Ryan

Blog Nosh Magazine Pregnancy Birth Adoption{Originally published on Weddings by Heather}

It would be impossible for me to describe the emotion that I witnessed today with Jason, Kelly and their families.  They entered the hospital with a terminal diagnosis for their son and the anxiety and emotion leading up to his delivery was difficult to process.  But I can tell you this, in no uncertain terms, I witnessed a miracle when I heard Bennett cry as he was born. He was able to breath on his own. A MIRACLE. This is Kelly getting her first good look at her new baby.

Pittsburgh Newborn Photography

To capture these first, precious moments of Bennett’s life for Jason and Kelly is an absolute honor and I cannot thank them enough for allowing me to share in this very special, very private moment.

Pittsburgh Newborn Photographer

I do not use the term miracle lightly; this sweet, little boy is the product of God’s hands.

Pittsburgh Newborn Photographer

And when I say I witnessed a miracle, I mean that Bennett’s birth has profoundly impacted my life.

Pittsburgh Newborn Photographer

It was amazing to watch him wiggle and hear him making newborn sounds. He even yawned, which I though was just the best thing in the world. Poor little guy was so tired from all of the activity.

A father and his new son.

They transported Bennett to Children’s Hospital for for further tests, please keep him in your prayers. And congratulations to Jason and Kelly on their first newborn son! Praise God!

Editor’s Pick by Deb at Missives From Suburbia. In addition to being a talented wedding photographer (Pittsburgh-area brides, take note), Heather is a volunteer for the Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep Foundation.   She was contacted by Jason and Kelly to photograph their son Bennett after his birth.  At his 13-week ultrasound, he was diagnosed with holoprosencephaly and not expected to survive for long after delivery.  Instead, Bennett arrived crying and breathing on his own. Heather’s photos of his Bennett’s parents during his birth are among the most purest expressions of joy I have ever seen, and I’m very grateful she has allowed us to share them with our readers.



Religion and Philosophy Blog Nosh Magazine{Originally published in Wisdom Pursuit}

I learned a great Hebrew word in my quiet time recently- Hineni.

Hineni means “I’m ready, Lord; I’ll go if you send me; I’m listening, Lord, tell me what you would have me to know.” It is the word Abraham used when God called to him and asked him to sacrifice Isaac; it is the word Moses used as he stood before the burning bush, and it is the word that young Samuel used in the temple when he heard a voice calling to him in the night.

It’s a powerful word. A word that brought life- changing events for each of the people who spoke it. And I bet not one of them would take it back. Not one of them regrets grappling with the fear, but giving in to the will of the God who is Good, who has plans to prosper and not to harm us.

The hard part comes for those of us who are a little more seasoned in life and have seen that God’s ways are not our ways, and that our lives are not always going the way we think He should have them mapped out. His plans to prosper us and not harm us may be in the next life, and not right now. So, to conquer our fears we need an eternal perspective, a reminder that this life is but a blip on the screen of time. God sees it all, and He has a great call and plan for each of us, both in this life and the next.

Since we are but temporal creatures, our job is to be willing, just for today. We are not called to know what God has in store for us in the next life, or even next year or next week. We are called to take one step at a time to seek God’s plan and to follow it with conviction.

Wrestle with the fear, and beat it down if you must. But, if you truly seek God’s call on your life, then offer to Him these words:

“Hineni, Adonai. Here I am.”

Editor’s pick by Robin @ PENSIEVE.  Lisa Scott is one of those writers who gives me reason to read several of her posts in a row if it has been too long since the last time I visited her blog.  She’s wholly devoted to God and that shines through in her words but never in a “holier than thou” kind of way.  She’s approachable and engaging and her posts bring you into an identifiable “very real world”–you, too, may relate to her experiences.   Lisa’s original post deserves a wider audience, and after you spend a little time peeking around her site, I bet you’ll want to subscribe to Wisdom Pursuit and follow her on Twitter.


What I loved about Christmas was Christ

Religion and Philosophy Blog Nosh Magazine{Originally Published on Conversion Diary}

When I was an atheist, Christmas was my favorite time of year.

The huge haul of top-of-the-line gifts stuffed under the tree each year (the spoils of being an only child) certainly helped my enjoyment of the season. But that actually wasn’t the most important thing to me. There was something else, something that stirred my soul more than any number of boxes wrapped with shiny paper ever could. I could never quite put my finger on what it was, but I sensed it every year when December rolled around.

There was a change that came over my family, my neighborhood, my town, and even my whole country in the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Things weren’t perfect, but they were better. And better in a certain way.

Kitchens that were normally empty, only waystations for frantic parents to rush home from work in time to pick up the children for private tutoring or soccer practice or violin lessons, were suddenly filled with laughter and the smells of apple cider and baked goods. School was out, lessons and sports were on hiatus, workloads were lighter, and kids leaned on the counter and chatted with their parents as they cooked dinners from the old family recipe book.

Neighborhood folks who usually offered little more than a terse smile and a half wave opened their homes for Christmas parties, showering neighbors with the warm welcomes, relaxed conversation and even some homemade cookies.

Airports were filled with the sounds of high-pitched greetings of loved-ones who hadn’t hugged one another in months or years; highways were dotted with cars jammed with luggage and presents, families driving for hours and hours just to be in the same room with the people they loved on Christmas morning.

Workplaces normally filled with politics and stress came together to adopt families in need; miserly curmudgeons uncharacteristically slipped a couple bucks into the Salvation Army bucket; longstanding grudges were more likely to be forgiven; people seemed to spend more time thinking about others than about themselves.

When people would ask why my family loved Christmas even though we weren’t Christians, these are the images we’d point to.

We’d explain that the kindness, togetherness and love that permeated the holiday season were what made it magical for us. “You don’t have to be burdened by religious superstition to appreciate love, kindness and goodwill toward men,” the thinking went. For us, Christmas was a season of love, and that’s what we were celebrating.

What we didn’t understand, however, is that we weren’t as different from the Christians as we thought we were. We atheists celebrated peace, love and goodness; our Christian neighbors celebrated the One who is Peace, Love and Goodness itself.

Later in life I would come to see that the love I sensed back then seemed so palpable, so real, because it was real, and it was bigger than I could have ever imagined; I would come to understand that wherever I sensed love I sensed God, because he is pure, perfect Love; I would come to know the shocking truth that God became a man to walk with us, to suffer with us, to suffer for us, and that his coming into this world was the coming of Love itself.

It was only then that I could see that the warmth and beauty I sensed all around me in those cold December nights was not something, but Someone. Whenever someone feels love, they feel God — even if, like me for so long, they don’t even know he’s there. That’s why I see now that what I loved about Christmas all along, even when I was an atheist, was Christ.

{Editor’s Note: You can also find her here at Blog Nosh under the blog title, “Et, Tu?”}

Editor’s pick by Michele at Sparks and Butterflies.  Jennifer is a wife, mom, and a devout Catholic who used to be an atheist.  She writes about her life and faith from that perspective.  While I am not of the Catholic faith, I find her writing compelling all the same – reading of the experiences she has had at Adoration simply move me.  Please read her blog, or subscribe to her feed!

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