Monday, April 28, 2008

WHAT!!!!! CHARISMATICS DON'T BECOME CATHOLICS!!!! (or do they?)





Now that things have settled down in the Richard's house, I can finally have a few moments to get back to some serious blogging. I had an awesome experience last week of having lunch with an old (emphasis was mine---sorry Jacob) college acquaintance who I probably haven't seen in at least 15 years. After we caught up with marriage and kids and the family stuff, the question came: " So how does one go from 'We bring the sacrifice of praise' to 'Ave Maria'?" You have no idea how many of people from my past ask me that question. And to be honest, I never tire of answering it.




A couple of blogs ago, I really put into metaphor what my conversion was like. It truly was a love story that blossomed between me and the Church that our Lord established. But exactly how did it happen? What caused me to "flip" or "cross the Tiber"? I have gotten all sorts of answers from what other people think. Some believe that I have been possessed by a "religious spirit". Others think that I have psychological imbalances. I have even been told that I have fallen for the pomp and circumstance. Lastly, I have been told that I converted just to "be different...to stand out". I mean, after all, there is no good reason that a "free Charismatic" would give up his freedom to return to the "slavery of Rome." And now that I look back on it, I can understand why any good protestant would ask. After all....how can you explain Tradition, Confession and penance, the Eucharist, Mary, Purgatory, Saints, Priestly celibacy? Aren't these all unnecessary, cumbersome inventions of the Catholic Church to keep people in line. That is what I was told. Control mechanisms to keep people in line and intimidate them into "submission".


For us, it happened a bit differently. Sometime in 2002 there was an unrest in our hearts with our spiritual journey and where we were at the time. Just as a background, Laura and I had been raised in a Charismatic Non-Denominational background for our entire lives....nothing else, so everything else to us was foreign. We were used to the entire Charismatic experience and all that goes along with it. As a matter of fact, Laura and I met each other at Liberty Bible College in Pensacola, Fl., and we were very happy. After moving to Jackson, MS for a few years, Laura and I returned to Pensacola and began attending Liberty Church again until 2oo2. We had been very active there in the Church, working with the youth, worship team, prayer teams the whole nine yards. At that point, Laura and I knew that we had to make a change. We talked about it and we both agreed that our time in the Charismatic movement was over. There were many concerns that we had with the direction that the Charismatic overall was headed, not necessarily with Liberty itself. The Charismatic gifts that I had been brought up with were not satisfying this longing I had to truly know Christ and move closer to him. How do I go about this? Worship to us began to be more of a performance trying to engage the congregation emotionally and I was tired of pretending. I didn't want emotionalism, I WANTED TO KNOW JESUS! Who He was, where He was, what He wanted me to believe, who He wanted me to be. I began to question and search everything that I had ever been taught. Why do we believe that the Bible is the Sole Authority of our Faith? And if this is the case, which of the 10,ooo+ denominations is correct in their interpretation? How did I know that what any pastor was teaching was absolutely correct? Is there anyway to know that? I was told that Scripture was the guideline. The only way this can be true, however is if you have a correct interpretation of Scripture. How can we have that verification that our "yardstick" is the correct interpretation? By the Holy Spirit that is within us? If that is the case, then which of the 1o,ooo+ denominations have the correct interpretation? (I will address these questions individually in separate blogs.) This was my dilemma, and it was no small potatoes. At this point I decided that it would be best for us to make a move to a denominational Church......but which one? It was at this time that a buddy at work who knew that I was searching for a new church asked me if I would be offended if he brought me some reading materials. The reader that I am, I gladly accepted his offer. The next day, I found on my desk a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church,
along with a subscription to This Rock Magazine, a Catholic Apologetics Magazine. I readily devoured this material and honestly at that point, even though I could not put my finger on it, I knew that there was some truth in what was was being taught. It was at this point that I had my introduction to the writings of the Church Fathers. Wait, Church Fathers, what are you talking about? I am talking about the early writings from the disciples of the first apostles, the ones that actually established the Church after Christ left us. People like St. Clement, Ignatius of Antioch, Polycarp, St. Irenaeus, Origen, St. John of Chrystostom, St. Jerome, St. Cyprian, St. Augustine and Gregory among others. This was a whole new world to me? Why didn't I know about these guys and their writings? I had to find out more. It was at this time that I visited my first Catholic Mass.....all by myself. I sat on the very back row, and had no idea what was going on. I was lost as a goose and now I had even more questions that ever, so I had to have some questions answered.



Unfortunately, I really didn't think before I proceeded further. I had no contacts in the Catholic Church other than my buddy at work and I certainly couldn't tell him that I had questions. That would have been crossing a line that I was not ready to cross yet and and I needed a "neutral" opinion. So where did I go? A former Liberty instructor who was a former Catholic Priest that lived in town. I remember that day like it was yesterday. We met at a local restaurant for breakfast so I could get a good opinion on me moving to the Catholic Church (he didn't know that. I just told him that I needed some questions answered). After that meeting, I was done. I begged forgiveness from our Lord for even considering the Catholic Church. I was made aware that Catholic Church was full of Sacrilege and idolatry. I was scared to death......I knew I could never, ever become Catholic. I was convinced and sold................for then.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

GIRLS, GIRLS, GIRLS!!!!!!

So, Here is my new blog. If any of you have met Laura and me and our girls. We automatically stand out in a crowd. If you were going to have met us in 2oo2, you would have just have seen Laura and myself. My, my, my have things changed. I wanted to dedicate this blog to the history and story of our wonderful girls.













Abigail




My Abigail......


We began our adoption process after the loss of several miscarriages and we decided that it was more important for us to be parents than it was to actually go through the process of giving birth. We met Abigails mother through Children's Home Society in Pensacola. The first time that you actually go through the adoption process, you realize what an amazing gift that you have been given in your children. There is a woman or a couple who has come to a very sobering reality that they (for whatever reason) are incapable of giving to this child the home that they deserve. Rather than terminating the pregnancy, they have decided to give that child life and now that child is with you. They have your name, your life and your heritage. It is an awesome responsibility. Abigail was born in the spring of 2003 and believe me she hit the ground running. She came home with us when she was 4 days old. The most favorite thing that she says now is: "Daddy, can you hold me?" I know that it won't last forever, so I try to savor every moment that I have.














Isabella


This, I think, is one of my favorite pictures of Isabella. There are others, but this just shows the tenderness of her heart. The story behind Isabella is quite a surprise....to us all. This story started one November day in 2004 when Laura got a call from our good friends at CHS. There was a mother who was needing a home for her girl that was not born as of yet. She was in West Palm Beach, Florida and there were problems with finding couple interested, being that the area is full of septugenarians who have been long done with their child rearing days. So, since Children's Home Society is a state wide agency, they put out what was essentially an All Points Bulletin for all locations in Florida to send in profiles. Hence the call to us. We were informed that this was a long shot, but we were the family that they wanted to send in. OK.....we will do it and were open. Prepped with what they told us, we weren't expecting anything, really. Honestly, I had forgotten about it. Actually Laura was in the process of trying to retrieve our profile back one day in March when The Call came. I remember it very distinctly, even though I was at work. Laura called me and told me that the case worker had called and needed to come by to "update some paperwork". All innocent enough, right? When she got there, we were informed that we had been chosen by the birth mother. When Laura called me, my first question was: "What birth mother? I didn't know that we were shopping?" It was then that I remembered what she was referring to. Within 2 days we were off to West Palm Beach with Abigail and my sister-in-law in tow. That was one of the longest trips that I had made in my life. What made it longer was the fact that we knew that Isabella had been in foster care for almost 5 weeks....with Catholic foster parents (coincidence....I think not. )


In addition to getting a new daughter, I had an awesome experience of being able to attend Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church. At that point the church was pastored by D.James Kennedy, who since that time has passed away. I remember meeting him after the service and explaining why we were down there. He had adopted children himself and was very supportive.


This was a total new experience....an African American child. I love her so much. She is a total ball of energy who can't sit still for any time at all, but when she does, she is a cuddle bunny.....beautiful girl.




Laura Sophia
Talk about surprizing.....This is a story. So.......One night Laura and I were out at dinner and we were talking about our family and she tells me that she feels that we are done. How, after all with a 3 yr old and a 1 1/2 year old could we handle any more? And I tended to agree with her. On that point, we weren't shopping or even putting any feelers out.
Then one morning Laura was going to take me to work and she was waiting for me in the car. I was on my way out to the car and the phone rang......it was CHS. In my mind, I remember thinking, "I don't owe you any money.....I am not shopping.....why are you calling?" The voice on the other end stated that Isabellas mother had just given birth to another daughter and that she was very interested in placing her with Isabella so the family could be together. Of course my mind referred back to the conversation two weeks ago. So what did I say? "I don't think so, but I will talk with Laura." BAD, BAD, BAD MOVE!!! Guys, don't EVER try this one. I go out to the car and I am laughing to myself and I told Laura: "Guess what? The funniest thing just happened. CHS called and said that Isabellas mother just had another baby and they want us to take her." What followed for the two days after that is almost a blur in my mind.
"WHAT DID YOU TELL THEM???" Laura asked.
"I told them probably not, I thought we were done," I told her. This was not a good day in my life and I will never, never live it down.....EVER, EVER!!!! Do you understand what I am saying??? After two days of tears and back and forth, we knew that we needed Laura Sophia. Back we went to West Palm Beach. It was just Laura and I, so we could have really used a vacation down there, but nope. A quick nights rest and we were back on the way with our #3 girl....our little angel.
More to come????? We will see.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Mourning...........

I had grand plans for this blog, deliberating between the history of my family and our adoptions, reviewing the past week's visit of the Holy Father to the states, or expounding on a couple of last week's Mass readings, in particular John 6. However, after the events of this weekend I do need to take a couple of minutes to reflect.

When Laura and I got married in Sept. '91, one of the first things that we did in Jan '92 was to purchase a beautiful little apricot poodle puppy....we named her Sassie. When we moved to Pensacola she was only 3 years old and full of life.

Unfortunately, we had the duty and responsibility this weekend to choose the difficult option of putting her to final rest. This was the second time that we have had to choose that option and I can tell you that it doesn't get any easier.

Pets are an integral part of our lives and they always remind us of our mortality and reminds us of the "circle of life" so to speak. I would do the whole thing over again. Sassie brought so much joy and pleasure to our lives, especially before we had children. Even after we had Abby and the other girls, she was very patient and understanding with them and they will miss her.

Thanks be to our Lord for giving her to us for those years and also giving us the ability to make the appropriate choice at the best time for her.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Rats,surgeries and allergies...all in ONE week.

Whenever you have kids, you have stories, and this past month has been the motherload of all stories.

It all started about 3 weeks ago when my wife was feeding our youngest, Laura Sophia dinner. We have all had those nights when you are tired, you have had a long day and you just want to feed your kids and get them down........QUICKLY!!! So this night, Laura decided to give Laura Sophia her first scrambled egg. This was about 5:30 P.M. and all went well until about 1o:30 PM when we heard her crying. I went in there and brought her in the room with Laura and myself. We noticed very quickly that she was swollen up, clawing at her ears, and also that she was breaking out in hives. This was not good. In the moment that it took us to call the doctor, it seemed like she was gasping for air. It was at that point that we made the rush decision to run with her to the ER. We got there probably around 11:30 and by the time that we left it was close to 2:AM. Luckily, it was nothing that a little Benadryl couldn't handle and we know now that she will not be enjoying dads lovely Colorado omlettes.

It wasn't long after that, probably a couple of weeks that we were preparing for Laura's surgery. Nothing major, but it was the typical outpatient removal of a Ganglion cyst on her right wrist. We had been planning this for a while so it was no big deal, right........WRONG, and you couldn't be more wronger. Here is how the whole deal went down.

Laura and I have a lovely older home in East Pensacola Heights, close to the bay. By older, I mean that the house was built in 1941. We love it and have tended to it (especially after Ivan...) and made upgrades and changes that help it. Well, as with any home, you can tend to have some....let's say issues from time to time. This issue was for the past couple of weeks we had heard some "movement" inside our walls. Scratching to be specific. I was very concerned due to the fact that me and rodents don't get along that well. So I did what any normal homeowner would do. I searched along every baseboard and wall that I could get to and looked for any sort of entry point....this was fruitless. I put Glueboards in the attic. Nothing. Until the morning of Laura's surgery.

It was about 6AM and then I heard it...scratching. Only this time it didn't sound like it was in the wall any further...it sounded like it was in the house, scratching on the floor, even squeaking. I went to the bathroom....nothing. Hallway.....nothing. Then for some reason I turned around and I saw it stuck between the wood floor and the doorpost...a RAT. Not a mouse, a RAT....bigger than all get out. it's back legs were scratching trying to get out and it's tail was flopping back and forth like a metronome. I had never had to deal with this scenario before and I had no idea what to do. I couldn't pull him out or he would bite the ever loving #$&% out of me. I only had to think quick..which is not easy to do at 6 AM. I could chop him off...nope, too messy. What to do?? Luckily Laura's mom and dad live very close (this is one time when I was able to appreciate that) so I decided to call Laura's Dad. Then as soon as I dialed he got loose. The streak of grey lightning flashed through the hallway into the living room. All I heard from there was Laura telling me to get a holt of myself, I was going to wake the girls up. I can do this, I am a man....he is a mouse. NO...HE IS NOT A MOUSE!!! HE IS A RAT!!!!!! And I am supposed to have my mother-in-law here in just a few hours to keep my daughters whilst he is loose in the house. So, once I got Lauras dad on the phone, he came over and locked himself with me and the rat in the laundry room. Once we had spread the nets to make sure that there were no exit points we started moving shelves. I had a cane in my right hand as I was sure that I was going to wallop that sucker if he came anywhere near me....(yeah, right). It was at that time I heard Laura's dad say: "He's coming your way!" You should have seen me. At that point, time stood still. With a left hand on a cabinet and my right hand on that cane I suddenly suspended myself in mid air calling out to Jesus, Joseph, Mary and anybody else that would listen. As I was looking down that animal was running in circles below my feet. I will admit it, I was screaming like a girl. It was two seconds later that I heard it. That thing ran across one of the glue boards that we had set out. I have never heard anything more blood-curdling noise in my entire life. That thing was squealing like a stuck pig. But he was done. While I was outside gathering my composure, my father-in-law took another board and sort of "sandwiched" him with another board. He was still squealing. I had no idea what to do after that, so I just simply told him to put it in the trash container.....Luckily it was trash day.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Disclaimer on this blog--and an admission of love for another woman

I must confess that that this blog may not be interesting to very many people, therefore I must put a disclaimer on it. I will write about many things: my wife Laura, my girls, how we came to be as a family, and some of my life experiences over the past 2o years. In addition to that, one of the things that I will probably write much about, in a serious note is my new found love that I have for my faith and how I got to this point. So....this may reflect a lot of Theology and reflection from a Catholic point of view. This, however is a great way for me to pen my thoughts and keep track of where I am.







Like I said in my last post, it was in 1991 when I met the Love of my life, Laura. We met while we were both in College at Liberty. Our meeting was sort of by chance and not really planned. The details of the meeting will vary on whether you are talking to me or Laura, but....since this is my blog...this will be the way that it happened :-)







Through a series of events, in 1990, neither Laura or I had a date to the Spring banquet at Liberty and through a suggestion of a mutual friend, I got up the nerve to chase her across campus (she knew what was going on) and ask her to the banquet. It was very soon after that we had our first date and I still remember it was amazing. We were both bout as nervous as a couple of long tailed cats in a room full of rocking chairs, but it wound up being an amazing evening of talking and connecting. I remember that we went to the Boardwalk on Pensacola Beach and sat there and talked for hours...about our lives where we grew up (which by the way was about an hour and a half from each other). We were actually at many of the same events while we were growing up, which is really strange to look back upon. The months that followed were amazing I couldn't wait to see her again and spend another block of hours between classes talking on those swings. There was a very deep love developing....very quickly. I wanted to find out everything about her. We were then married in September of 1991 to begin our new life together and start again. Going on seventeen years later we are still going strong. Believe you me, we have had our challenges, but we are here; together and commited to our marriage and our ever growing family.







Oh yeah.....the other woman. It started about five or six years ago I guess. There was this woman that I had an acquaintance with from a couple of years prior. I had found out a little about her and there was this strange attraction, something that I could not explain. I tried as much as possible to try to find out everything about her. It was very strange, so for a while I denied myself the urges that I had and decided that it would be best for myself and my family if I had no contact with her--ever. I knew that if I got involved with her that it could have a devastating effect on my family, so that is what I did............for a while.







What happened next is baffling to me. One day I was at work and I saw her on the television and she was starting to get a lot of attention. Though I had not thought about her for about 2 years or so, my head spun around again, I could tell something was changing about her. Maybe it was her face, but something was changing and I was compelled once again to get in contact with her. At the same time I was so sad. Why did I take so long to do this. I would never know her as I had previously wanted to know her............I knew that it would always be different. Not bad, just different from how I had come to know her. So I very cautiously pulled back out all my previous contact with her. It was a review of sorts, but reading what she had written and what I found out about her grabbed me once again. I had not felt like this since I had fallen in love with Laura-- it seemed that it was happening all over again. I was terribly frightened to contact her directly and in person due to the fact that I knew what tidal wave it would cause in my life, so I decided to contact other people who were very much aware of her and who she was. I just needed to find out if She was the one for me, so for months on end I found those people with their information. The point that sealed our fate together happened on a Saturday morning. That morning, I had to be at work, so I left earlier than normal, probably by an hour. I told Laura that I had to meet a "friend" before I went to work, when in all actuality it was the other woman. We were only to be together for about half an hour or so, that is all I could take. My head was spinning, but I really knew at that point She and I would have to move forward...regardless. The amazing thing is that she knew me, who I was and had been waiting for me and I felt it by the light embrace that I felt that day. I had never done anything like this before in my life. It was like I was walking on a line....a border that I had crossed and I had said that I never would, yet at the same time, I didn't feel the slightest amount of guilt. After that one meeting I was addicted to our affair. How would I keep this a secret from my family: my wife, her parents, my brother , my parents. How would they react. They knew of this woman because she had all of our paths at sometime in our lives and it was inevitable that I would have to tell them, but it was going to have to wait.



The next months would become the point that would change my life. The woman kept calling me. It was if she was connected to the innermost parts of my being. I spent many sleepless nights watching her metamorphasis that was going on because as a matter of fact the change that I had feared did take place. Now I saw her in a new way. I knew that even though I didn't know her as she was before, I would know her in a new way; a strange new way. I remember one time, Laura had gone to visit my sister in Birmingham with the girls. It was just me in the house. It was freedom for me any my new love. That week I was totally engulfed in her, wanting all my waking moments to be surrounded by her.

The most amazing thing is that the more that I got to know her, the more that she kept pointing me not toward herself, the Church, but toward her Son, our Lord Jesus. All my life I had a relationship with our Lord, but that night it was different---deeper than it ever had been in my life. I knew that Jesus was there present with me....The Real Presence as I had never known it. Beyond a shadow of a doubt I knew that this was the Church that our Lord had established. This had been proven to me over and over and over the next few months.

I had come Home.


One year later it became formal. On Easter, 2oo6, I came into full communion with the Catholic Church.





More to come............

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

20 years ago......

As I have just become active in the past week or so with FaceBook, I look back over all the faces that I have not seen for almost 20 years. Can you believe it. I was just thinking about where I was 20 years ago. At this point I was about ready to graduate from High School in Midfield, AL, and I knew what I was going to do...no doubt in my mind. I was heading off to Pensacola, Fl. to Liberty Bible College. That was what I had decided many, many years earlier and that point was finally here. So....here I was, 18 and full of dreams...off to change the world. So I headed out to Jackson, MS to meet up with my bud, Paul. Most of you will remember him. I could tell you some stories about that trip, but I met him there, visited my family and headed south in my 1977 dark green AMC Gremlin. Some of you will remember that as well, it was the one that was highly stickered with all the Pro-Life bumper stickers all over the back.

I was full of vim and vigor and was ready to change the world, as we all were and I loved every bit of it, even my first roommate...btw...anybody heard from Forakis? I spent the next three years there studying, discerning, working, working.......working. I did have awesome opportunites including a trip to Mexico....(beware Liberty guys...I will be posting those pix soon for the entire universe to see.) But most of all I met my wife, Laura. It is hard to believe that we will have been married 17 years in September, how time flies.

20 years ago.........