Sharing God's love with the world, one heart at a time.


One Year Ago Today

One year ago today, my mother in law, Velma, left this earth and returned to her heavenly home.  As I sit down to write about the blessing that she was (and always will be) in my life, my heart is completely filled with love and many emotions are welling up inside me.

After knowing her for 39 years, and being her daughter in law for 35 of those years, it is easy to see the transition of our relationship, although for some years it was difficult.  Words can never express what I feel for her, and the empty place in my heart knowing that I will never again see her face, hear her voice or laughter.  I will never again feel her hand holding mine or her arms around me.

However, I will always feel her love.

Pulling a line from one of my favorite romantic comedies, “Sweet Home Alabama”, Velma was “a complicated woman.”  She struggled through a horrendous childhood, one that she spoke of often to me; however, she never fully acknowledged or released the evils and pain she endured.  Instead, she focused her entire being on raising her six children…5 sons and a daughter.  She loved them intensely, and wanted to give them a secure home, in the only way she knew.  That was through homemaking.  She kept house like no one I ever knew, and her cooking and baking were her shining glory.  That was how she showed love…by nurturing.  Velma had her flaws, as we all do.  Deep in her heart, she knew she had these flaws.  She compensated by DOING for people…in so many ways.

When I first met Velma, I was dating her son, Joe, and I was just 17.  She nurtured me…helping me to feel accepted and loved, by inquiring about me and my family, and always feeding me something special.  I remember, she would sit me down, and ask if I wanted a steak.  Then she would reach in the freezer, pull out a steak, and fry it for me. I never had my own steak before…my family always ate “family style”, so that impressed me.  She made the most awesome sausage and pepper pizza I have ever tasted…her pizza dough recipe was the best, and the tomatoes and peppers were home canned.  Simply delicious.  And her cookies, Swedish tea log,  bread pudding and pizzelles.  Yum!

Remember… Velma had six children.  That lead to crazy unforgettable Holidays, filled with her children, grandchildren, food, love, laughter and lots of noise!  The whirlwinds of activity were overwhelming, but how I miss those times!  Those were the years that changed the “in-law” relationships to “family” relationships.

Velma’s greatest gift to me is her wonderful son, Joe.  (my awesome husband) All of my brothers- in-law, sisters-in-law, and their families are also a blessing to me.  We are a family of heart…separated by circumstance and miles.  But we are always there for each other, in mind and spirit.

When I was a very young newlywed, Velma was very intimidating to me.  Since her cooking, baking and cleaning were the best (her favorite line…”that’s the way I do it”), and my self-image was zero, that was an uncomfortable time for me.  In my own mind, I could never live up to Joe’s mother, and I felt inadequate as a wife.  This feeling continued through the birth of my two sons.

I always felt I had to be “perfect” in every way…clean house, perfect wife and mother, perfect food, etc.  And I knew I wasn’t perfect, so I had a real dilemma in my own mind.

Two things happened that changed and molded our relationship.

The first thing was something that probably shouldn’t have happened.  Joe and I were experiencing extreme pain and difficulty in our marriage.  I went to my mother-in-law in despair, and shared what was happening. (through the  years I learned not to share those kinds of things concerning our marriage)  I later learned that while I was at work, my mother-in-law showed up at our front door, and confronted Joe.  She let him know that he had a good, loving wife, and in no uncertain terms, gave him a piece of her mind.  When we talk about it now, Joe gets a chuckle out of the memory.  I feel the love; in finally being aware that she loved me, and thought I was a good wife to her son.

The next thing that changed our relationship was mortifying to me at the time.  I had been a stay-at-home mom, and then had to work part time.  With two young sons, I just could not get it all together.  My house was a mess, and I left it that way when I left for work one morning.  A few hours later, my mother-in-law, who had our house key, had decided to drop over to bring us a few things. Oh, did I tell you how many times she stopped over with bags of food and “supplies”?  So she called me at work, from my dirty house!!!  I had never felt so exposed and embarrassed.  She let me know that the house was now clean, and there were some groceries she brought and put away for us.

At that moment I realized, I never had to pretend to be perfect for her again.  She loved me no matter what.

And I learned to love Velma no matter what.  Because through the tense times, hurtful words spoken, and all that occurred due to human frailty and weakness, I was able to feel her love.  She loved her whole family immensely. And because of that, she left a legacy in her children and their spouses, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

On the morning of her death, she was found, peacefully unresponsive, with hands still holding her rosary.  Although my  family did not arrive in time to hold her hand to say our last good byes, she was surrounded by other loving family members.

She will hold our hearts forever.

We love you, mom.

We know you are in heaven with Jesus and the angels He allowed you to see while on earth.  We know that you are enveloped in His pure love, peace and joy that can never be felt on earth.

We will carry you in our hearts until we meet again.



The Monsters We Create

The other night, I happened to see a discussion of the movie “The Bride of Frankenstein.” Upfront, I need to let you know I have never seen a Frankenstein movie and have never read the book. It just did not interest me. Although I usually do not put any credence in what “stars” say, Drew Barrymore’s  words interested me. She said it was a beautiful movie, with lots of symbolism. She also inferred there was a strong ethical and moral theme throughout the story, and a person could not help feeling sadness and compassion for the “monster”.

My curiosity was aroused, so I watched the movie.

Then I had to watch it again with my husband. This movie was filmed in 1935. There are many scenes that modern movie enthusiasts might laugh at, because of the acting and low technology, according to today’s standards. However, what I saw was a truly beautiful film, with much symbolism and reference to God, good, and evil. That kind of shocked me…I was not expecting that. Here was a monster that was created from dead bodies, and given “life” by crazed scientists. When the monster acted like a monster, the people were horrified, terrified, so of course they turned against him. They did not understand him, and were too afraid to even be in his presence. The monster stumbled his way around, because he simply knew no other way. He killed a few people indiscriminately, some of them by accident.

One truly beautiful scene, was when a lonely blind man was playing his violin in his little shack. The monster heard the music, and was drawn in by the beauty. He opened the door to the shack, and expected the man to scream and run. Since the man was blind, he did not do that. He literally prayed to God in thanksgiving…thanking God for sending him a friend in his loneliness. The man nursed the wounds of the monster, provided him with food and drink, and even tucked him into a comfortable bed, so he could rest. He accepted the monster as he was, without preconceived judgment. Not only did the man minister to his new “friend’s” needs, he also taught him to talk, and shared some finer things of life with him…namely wine and cigars. They became friends to each other. Because of the man’s blindness, he was able to show love without fear; he did not see the monster in his friend.

At that time, some men who were lost, happened to come into the man’s shack and saw the monster. They tried to kill him, and pulled the man out. The shack was left burning, and you see the monster escaping out of the flames, sadly calling out for his friend.

I won’t tell you the ending of the story, because I don’t want to completely ruin it for you. But let’s just say, the monster ended up having more humanity than the humans that created him had. I know it sounds weird, but that movie truly touched my heart. How many times do we create “monsters” and then turn our backs on them?

We allow the removal of God from our schools, and then are shocked when throngs of young adults turn their backs on God and the Church. And then, because of political correctness, we allow them to continue on their Godless path without a word, because we do not want to “offend” anyone.

We allow and condone the killing of unborn babies, the “innocents”, and then we wonder why there is so much violence and murder…and such disrespect for life in general. Again, we remain silent, after all, isn’t killing a baby in the womb a woman’s right? Really???

We allow our children to play violent, gory, evil games for hours on end, and then wonder why they cannot relate to people in a normal, healthy, loving way. In extreme cases, they play out their killing games in real life. Again, we make excuses. It’s only a game, it’s only a movie, it’s only music. Again I say…Really???

We allow the infiltration of our society’s minds, including our children’s innocent minds, with immodesty, promiscuity, and disgusting behavior. Then we cringe and back away when we see the results. Physical disease and debilitating emotional and spiritual sickness, unwanted pregnancies, suicide. But we often just want to turn away from what we have created. We judge and point our fingers at the “sinners.”  After all they chose that lifestyle, and need to repent. Right???

Because of busy work schedules and lifestyle choices, we spend less and less time together as families. Family meals are far and few between. Because of “smartphones” and other technologies, we have lost the art of personal communication and relationships. Families communicate through pithy and clever phrases, and don’t take the time to truly discuss feelings, dreams and beliefs. Our children are floundering…they are hungry for unconditional love and attention. But we are doing as much as we can; our family needs our two jobs, and we all need to be “active” and involved in community and recreational activities. We are exhausted…no time for anything else. Right???

Maybe we should all step back, and breathe in the love of God. Maybe then we will realize all the monsters we are creating on a daily basis…once created, the monsters we would like to ignore. The monsters we would like to destroy.

However, those “monsters” are our children, our friends, our family, our community, our country. The monsters are us. Instead of going with our first instinct of turning away in fear and disgust, we need to  look toward God for the grace to love His children in blindness to their circumstance and guilt, and love them for the beauty that  He sees inside their hearts.

Jesus sees the hurt, pain, sin, and darkness that we all have in our hearts. He is waiting for us to open ourselves in faith, submission and humility.

That is how our world will be converted to a much more beautiful place. With less monsters.


Looking for Love

But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.  1 Corinthians 2:9

Wow…those words amaze me.  From Scripture, we are promised that we can’t even fathom the wonder and beauty of what the Lord is preparing for us.  All the splendor around us, all the creations of God and all the ideas and inventions of man, will not even TOUCH what is waiting for us.

Did you read the part that says “neither entered into the heart of man”?

That means that no matter how clever or gifted we think we are, we cannot come close to even imagining the love of God for us, and the beauty that will surround us when we enter heaven.  Think about it…we will be in the presence of the One True God.  We will be infused with pure love.  In human form, we can’t even comprehend what pure, unconditional love is.

So we go through life searching for love.  And as the song goes, we are looking for love in all the wrong places.

We feel an emptiness, so we try to fill it with possessions.  Cars, homes, clothes, jewelry, entertainment, and all the other things we feel we need to be happy.  The trouble is, once we attain those things, the novelty wears off and we move to the next thing.  Sound familiar?

Wealth and power are coveted by many who believe that status will bring stability and respect.  After achieving that success, they are left with the nagging insecurity of wondering who would be left to stand with them if all was taken away.  Are there really any true friends that would love them no matter what?

Education and titles seem to be the choice of many to earn “status” so they will be admired and respected.  But deep down inside, they feel that their status is an illusion, and if anyone knew who they truly are, they would no longer be accepted.

Vacations are marketed as a way to “get away from it all” and a time to build relationships.  However, a funny thing happens.  After the vacation, we are once again thrust into our normal day to day life, and the day to day relationships seem to stay the same.  So we look forward to the NEXT vacation, instead of focusing on improving the relationships we so desire.

Many people are devoid of true joy and do not have any idea of their worth.  They try to fill that void through pleasures of promiscuity and immorality.  After the momentary pleasure, they find themselves truly alone, and even more empty.  And even if they do not admit it, they feel used and dirty. They are really looking for true love, and don’t even realize it.  The search is on…over and over again.

Others find solace in looking “perfect”.  An overwhelming number of people turn to plastic surgery.  Sixty five year olds trying to look like twenty five.  Women thinking that large breasts, full lips and a wrinkle free face will bring them love and acceptance.  Men and women changing their appearance in any way imaginable, even their “gender”.  They erroneously believe that once they obtain that “perfect place” they will be happy, accepted and loved.

All kinds of addictions are destroying lives.  Why do we think that drugs, alcohol, food, sex, gambling, shopping will fill that never ending feeling of despair, boredom, loneliness and pain?  The pain is numbed for a short while, and then reappears once the “drug of choice” wears off.  What are we thinking?

Being human, we will never fully understand the glory of God.  However, the trust and faith in his love for us, is the only way to fill that nagging ache in our whole being.  Our souls were created with a homing device, which keeps us longing for more.  But the longing is not for all the false things we strive for on a daily basis; the longing is to return home….to our Father in Heaven.  Once we are secure in His Love, we no longer have a need for all the substitutes.

So once again, read this scripture:

But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.  1 Corinthians 2:9

We need to realize that we don’t know what we don’t know.  We can’t even dream or fathom what our God has waiting for us.

Where does that leave us?

Pure and simple.  Faith and trust.  Not so much in ourselves or society…we know where that road takes us.

Faith and trust in the merciful, illuminating, all consuming love of our Father, His Son, Jesus, who suffered and died for our salvation, and in the Holy Spirit who is constantly working in us and through us.

That is where we will find the love we are looking for.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  John 3:16 

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.  1 Corinthians 2:9

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.   1 John 3:1



In All Things, Give Thanks

Lately, I have been feeling a little overwhelmed.  The last few months have been pretty well filled up with travel, and a busier than usual schedule.  There are also personal struggles and pressures in our family dynamic.  Being that my husband and I love to live a simple, laid back life, we kind of got off of our comfortable routine.  Everything feels different…our daily habits changed, we stopped eating as healthy as usual, our sleep isn’t as restful, and I have to confess, my prayer life has dwindled.  I know the Lord is with me, and I talk to Him throughout the day.  However, I haven’t been setting aside special time for meditation and personal “alone” time with Jesus.

One day in particular, I was feeling extremely stressed, overwhelmed and depressed.  It was a feeling I have not felt in many years…like I was completely drained and limp.  My heart was devoid of joy, and I knew that I was being attacked by Satan.  I did not even have the strength to pray.

Enter in, one of my new sisters in Christ.  Through the veil of hopelessness I was experiencing, there was one person who kept coming to mind.  I have learned to trust the whispers of the Holy Spirit’s direction, so I reached out to her.  Her name is Tina and she enveloped me with love and prayers that day.  She listened with her heart and mind, and offered me friendship, affirmation, and encouragement.  It was so comforting to have a fellow Christian to lean on for support; one that I could trust with my bruised spirit.

She was Jesus to me that day. 

Her kindness and loving heart touched me, and through that love, my heart was filled with the Holy Spirit.

To me, that is the true essence of Christianity.  We are to be Jesus to each other through all things.  Not just when things “feel good” or when life is comfortable, warm and pretty.  We are the body of Christ.  It is through our hearts and our hands that the love of Jesus is infused to all.

We are to rejoice together, and also grieve together.  We need to look for ways to support, edify and help each other.

We are called to give thanks to God in all things…even through the dark times; even when we don’t “feel” the love of God.

When we don’t “feel” the love of God…that is when we are hanging on by pure faith.  We can rest assured that the Holy Spirit is working deep in our hearts and souls, especially when we are experiencing dry spells or dark times.

We must cling to our childlike faith, and trust in Jesus through all things.  And sometimes, we are especially blessed, to see Jesus through the caring and loving heart of a brother or sister in Christ.

Thank you, Tina.  May God continue to bless you and work His miracles of love through you!


In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.  Thessalonians 5:18

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.   Philippians 2:1-2



Think on These Things

All you need to do to see turmoil and evil is turn on your TV, read the news, overhear a conversation, or simply open your eyes to the reality of what is occurring in our government, country, communities, and families.  Some of us are tired and almost at the giving up stage…not sure what can be done to reverse the downward spiral.   Some are apathetic or mistakenly believe that since they are not personally affected (yet), that things are “ok” as is.  So many just “stay the course” in what they allow and support, even though deep in their hearts and consciences, they KNOW something is deeply wrong.

Satan is weaving a web of lies and deceit…he wants us to feel hopeless and abandoned.

It makes me sad to look around and see so many suffering, stuck in that deceitful web.  Many eyes and hearts are closed to the pure light of Truth.  I honestly don‘t know where I would be, or how I would survive, without the saving grace and love of my Savior, Jesus Christ.  I tried for so long to go my own way, knowing He was there, but too engrossed in my day to day struggles to really seek His friendship…after all, “He is God, so He understands.”  Right?

How many times, how many years, have you rationalized your decision to put off “committing” your life to Jesus?  Is it because you’re having so much “fun” that you are afraid commitment to your Lord will make your life boring? Or maybe there will be time to build a relationship with Jesus after your schooling is done, when workloads slow down, after the wedding, when your marriage gets easier, when the kids grow up, when things aren’t so hectic…

When I finally let go and submitted myself to Jesus and the healing powers of the Holy Spirit, my heart was transformed.  Little by little, my walls are coming down, and I can see more and more of the pure light of Christ. This light is allowing me to trust in God more fully, no matter what is occurring around me.  I know God is in control…always working Satan’s deceits and evil into good for my life and all who love Him.  He is building His Kingdom, and is in complete control. Especially when we feel that everything is way out of control.

As my soul is being searched and my own sins are being exposed to me, I am learning to trust more fully, and to look for Jesus in all situations.

So no matter what things “look like” on the surface, I can always look deeper into the stillness of God, and my heart is enlightened to the goodness all around me.  I can see love way past the deceptions of the evil one.

The Holy Spirit is working constantly through us…we are the Body of Christ.  It is our hands, eyes, ears, minds, and hearts that are Christ to each other.  Take the time to see Jesus in the people you encounter.  Focus on Jesus.

What will you see? 

You will see angelic smiles on the faces of innocent babies and children that melt your heart.

Husbands and wives holding hands and looking at each other with love and respect.

A stranger smiling at you, saying hello, or holding a door for you.

This morning, as my husband and I stopped for coffee at McDonalds, it was a “regular” who offered us a friendly “hello” and stack of coupons for free breakfast sandwiches.

Someone’s eyes lighting up when receiving an unexpected card or gift.

An anonymous gift card sent to a person who is struggling.

A mother’s strained and fatigued face after staying up all night with her sick child.

The son or daughter who regularly visits a parent who no longer recognizes him/her.

A man  paying for the groceries of the person in line ahead of  him…because he saw they did not have quite enough cash, and were humiliated.

The hugs and love given to those who are grieving, or those without faith or hope.

The conversation between the homeless person on the corner, and the person who took the time not only to offer money, but also a friendly ear to listen to his/her story.

The peaceful, tear stained face of the person who has just accepted Jesus as their Savior, and feels the total healing and forgiveness of His mercy.

These are the things we must focus on…Jesus in our everyday lives.  

Look around…He is there.  Always.  Where have you seen Him lately???


Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.   Philippians 4:8