So after my initial blog post you may have questions.  Perhaps you’ve known me a while and you’re thinking ....
Wait! WHAT?!
Jen has a blog about Jesus?? I’ve known her a long time, and she’s barely mentioned her faith. Is this for real?
She’s getting up before the sun to pray?! I knew she hit the gym before sunrise, but this seems crazier than that!
Jen went on a SILENT retreat?! Does that mean she didn’t speak for THREE days?? Is this a joke?!

Or perhaps ....
Wait! WHAT?!
She’s reading the Bible regularly?  You mean ... more than listening to Bible readings at mass?
She went on a preached silent Ignatian retreat? I don’t even know what that means!!
She heard Jesus’ Voice... as if they were having a conversation?! Is this for real?? 
Her faith must be stronger than mine. 

To be honest, I would have had many of these same thoughts about myself just a few years ago.

So what happened?  How did I get here.... to this place where I am writing a blog about my faith and my relationship with Jesus?? Great question.

A few years ago I was juggling life and all the roles for which I had signed up. 
A mom with two kids in countless activities - leaving little time to breathe. 
A wife who loves her husband - but due to schedules their conversations mainly consisted of “Who’s picking up who, where, and when?" and "What’s for dinner?”
A Physician Assistant with increasing professional responsibilities, respected by her patients and coworkers, who loves her career - a career that is very demanding of time and at times emotionally draining.
A homemaker trying to keep the household running - complete with menu planning and grocery trips (why does my family eat so much?), countless loads of laundry (Hello!! The clothes are NOT dirty if you only wore them for an hour!), and home decorating (of course I can learn chalk painting techniques to repaint that furniture myself).
A “Cradle Catholic” who had attended Catholic school and went to mass every Sunday - until schedules became crazy and we started going to mass when we could fit it in and on holidays.  

Up late. And up early. 
5-6 hours of sleep was my norm. 
From the outside looking in, I had it all together. I was on top of everything. I had everything under control. Under MY control. More than one friend referred to me as “Super Woman.”
And all was good. I was happy. 
Or I thought I was. 

Then some medical issues came up in my family. Things I hadn’t planned. Things I couldn’t control. I was stressed. My Type A personality flipped into high gear as I reacted by over controlling every other part of my life. I was near obsessive about our calendar and schedule. The cleanliness of our house. My gym time and diet. Achieving “perfection” in all things. 

But still, I thought things were okay. I even remember a conversation where I rationalized and accepted my purpose in life as a permanent caretaker: of my family, patients, coworkers, household and friends. It was a lot of work. But clearly I had to do it. I had to do everything. And I needed to do it perfectly, right?  I was, after all, “Super Woman.”

Then someone I knew was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer that ultimately took his life several months later. During his illness, his wife (who I’ve actually never met) kept others abreast of his condition through a blog. But she didn’t just give medical updates. Despite the stress, pain, fears and grief that she was obviously experiencing, her blog posts radiated a peace and hope that seemed beyond rational. Supernatural. And I wanted it. I wanted whatever was giving her the strength to walk through her personal tragedy in such a genuine, but graceful and hopeful manner. I didn’t understand what she had; I only knew I didn’t have it. But it was clear that her strength was tied to her faith, a faith that was very strong. Much stronger than mine. 

As she publicly stood witness to her faith, inviting others to participate and pray, my own faith journey began without me even realizing it. I found myself doing what seemed to be random things that were quite out of character...
I scrolled through the radio instead of using my presets, landing on a Christian song I first heard through her blog. (No big deal. A coincidence.) 
On this station I heard a short message preached by a local pastor. (Well what did I expect to hear? I was listening to a Christian radio station.)  
I was compelled to listen again. (Okay. A little weird. But I’m in my car alone, and no one knows.) 
I found myself googling the pastor (Wait. What?!) 
And for some reason decided to attend his Sunday service. More than once.  (What is happening to me? What am I doing??) 
There I was introduced to small group bible studies and asked to join one. By a total stranger... 

Each of these seemingly random events made me question whether I had lost my mind! These things defied the “normal rules” by which I lived my life. Yet each time I planned to not go or not do one of these things, something inside me said “Just do it. Just go.” 

So I did. 

And each time I tasted this Joy and Peace, seemingly coming from within, that I couldn’t explain. 

I didn’t know what was happening. It wasn’t logical. None of the stressful things in my life or schedule had changed. But something was different. I only knew that living WITH this Peace and Joy was better than any way I’d lived before.  And I became very intentional in seeking out things that would reproduce and expand those feelings.

While rushing to work or to tackle a crazy list of errands before carpool ... I listened to Christian music on the radio. 
While scrubbing orange baseball mud out of white baseball pants (why aren’t all games on turf???) and doing other household chores ... I listened to faith-based podcasts on my headphones. (Yes, I resembled my 13 year-old son who seems to have earbuds as a permanent appendage). 

I rearranged my schedule (Thank you Walmart grocery pick-up!!) .... so I could go to mass on a weekday or sit in the Adoration Chapel for an hour. 
I was drawn to spend time with others who radiated this inner Peace and Joy (it was as if they actually KNEW JESUS instead of just knowing ABOUT JESUS - which was mind blowing for me!) ... so I made my small group ladies bible study a priority in my schedule. Even if it meant I had to say “no” to other things. 
You see, I wanted to know Jesus too. 

I became a sponge, soaking in anything that fostered my faith. It was as if I was suddenly filling a hole inside my heart, inside my soul, that I hadn’t even known was there. And once I started filling it, I couldn’t stop. I didn’t want to stop. 

My schedule is still crazy. I know I will experience stressful, challenging seasons throughout life. But I also know, without a doubt, that Jesus will help me walk through any storm that comes my way with Peace, Joy and Hope, as long as I remain rooted in my faith and close to Him.

So. There you have it. The (not so) short story of how I got to this place. Of how this blog came to be.  
For everyone who subscribed to the blog, responded to it with kind words, and “liked” or shared it on Facebook...Thank You. This has given me the courage to continue writing.  

To everyone who commented that my previous post touched them, that it was something they needed to read, please know I am humbled at the thought that God might use my story and my words to speak to you.

Praying again that God breathes life into these words...


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