This Catholic Journey
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Name: Amber
Location: Reno, Nevada, United States

I am a 34-year-old single mother of three. I am a convert to Catholicism and came into the Church on April 7, 2007. This blog is a collection of thoughts and things I learn in my journey of faith. All comments are welcome!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Adoption Update

The meeting with the expectant mother went great and she has chosen to place her twin boys with my sister and her husband! Our family is so excited! The cost of the adoption is just about what they have saved up and some family members have promised to provide any amount they may be short! God has truly made a way for this all to happen. We all feel such a peace about everything!

In less than two months, I'll have two brand new nephews! The first one born will be called Jaden, which means "God has heard". The second will be called Joseph, which means "may God add/increase". Both names are perfectly fitting!

I want to give a very sincere THANK YOU to everyone for their prayers and for those who donated even the smallest of amounts! It is because of this that God has heard our prayers and brought this dream into a reality!

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Thursday, March 06, 2008

Egg Yolks and Babies

My sister, April, got a call from the case working handling their adoption yesterday. There is a an expectant mother due in July who is looking to place her babies in a loving home. April and her husband are going to meet her on Saturday! That's right, BABIES... She's having TWIN boys!

There IS something significant about the concept of adopting twins:

One morning a couple of years ago, after April and her husband found out that it was indeed impossible to conceive, she was praying about adoption... a serious long talk with God in the morning. She went out to the kitchen to make some breakfast, pulled out the eggs and cracked one into the pan. Out came twin yolks. Interesting but nothing to write home about until the SECOND egg cracked into the pan was ALSO was a twin yolk. Since that time, my family has thought of these TWO twin eggs as a sign that God is in control... and that, one day, their dream to adopt would be realized (though we didn't exactly expect TWINS!) We have always linked those eggs to my sister's morning prayer about adoption. There have been a couple of occasions when I have also cracked open twin eggs, thinking instantly of my sister and her adoption prayer.

So, when this expectant mother came up with twins, we all thought of this twin egg occurrence... Could this be it? Is this God's way of giving us peace about this particular possibility?

Please keep my family in your prayers. Please pray that everything will go as God wills it. Pray that these babies are the answer to prayer we've been waiting for and that my sister and her husband can finally be the parents they've always wanted to be!

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Monday, December 10, 2007

Adoption Update

As many may know my sister and her husband have completed a home study and are trying to raise money to adopt. For the last couple of months my family, especially my sister, has been working away at making all kinds of hand-crafted items to sell at an open house to raise money for the adoption. We held the event at my parents' house on Saturday, December 8, and it was a huge success! We managed to raise $4535.45, bringing them that much closer to their goal!

Praise God for his blessing on this event! People were so generous and it was quite an emotional time for our family. I know that some people stretched themselves in their giving and this was more than we expected.

In addition to this amount, another blessing happened Thanksgiving weekend. Their social worker in their adoption case, decided to drop a few bucks into a slot machine (Nevadans!) with the intention (she prayed about it) that anything she won, she would give to April and Tim. Well, she won $450!!! We couldn't believe it! She gave them every penny of it!

Tim also got a higher paying job with a company he previously worked for. THEY approached him about the job!

God is truly moving things and making them happen. I know that all the prayers are being answered and God has a huge plan in their lives and the lives of the child (or children) destined to be theirs.

April has decided to also start a blog. Once she puts her first post up, I'll share the link with you all! Thank you to all those who are praying for them! They are thankful and appreciative beyond words!

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Thursday, October 04, 2007

Baby Hope

A few posts ago, I mentioned that my sister,April, and her husband's adoption process was cut short due to lack of funds. Just when they felt their dream was within reach, they were informed they were still short... setting them back a bit. The home study is complete and the only thing standing in the way is the mighty dollar! But, we believe if God wills it, He will make a way and I've put together a few ideas to help them out. We handed out baby bottles to close friends and family and they are using them to collect their pocket change at the end of the day. My kids and I have already filled two bottles!

There are three other ways to help out my sister and her husband with the adoption costs. And I'm asking everyone to choose one:

One (and the most important): Pray, pray, pray. Please pray for God's will... that if they should be parents, God will provide the means. Also, pray for peace and comfort in this process since, at times, it seems so hopeless for them.

Two: You can visit their Cafepress.com shop, The Baby Hope Shop, and purchase something. We will be adding some new designs in the next couple of weeks.

Three: You can go to any Bank of America and make a deposit to their account:

April Durnil
Bank of America Acct No: *REMOVED*


I know there were some people interested in donating... and I thank you in advance for doing so. May God bless you for your generosity!

Also, thank you Ma Beck for your heartfelt post and purchase from the Baby Hope Shop! My sister and her husband are very grateful.

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

Adoption

My sister and her husband's adoption process was stopped short due to lack of funds. It has been a marriage-long dream of theirs to have a child and just when it seemed within reach, they were informed of the actual total cost... They have more than half the cost but this still brings them thousands of dollars short.

So, I set up a store at Cafepress.com. I know that, if it God's will for them, He will provide... but I'm being pro-active in the meantime. If anyone would like to purchase something for the cause, please check out the store at http://www.cafepress.com/babyhope. There is also a link at the top of the left-hand column.

I will be setting up a PayPal Donations account soon as well, if anyone would be so inclined to donate that way, the advantage being that they would benefit from the full amount given.

Of course, any prayers you can offer will also be VERY MUCH appreciated...

Thanks in advance to anyone to helps us fulfill the dream they have to parent a child.

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Friday, September 07, 2007

First Day

Here is my baby girl on her first day of kindergarten...

Trinity - first day of kindergarten

First day


She had a great day and made lots of new friends. She loves her teacher, too!

I finally have all three kids in the SAME school! Woot woot!

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

We have a date!

On June 24, 2007 at 5:00 pm, my three children will be baptized in the Catholic Church. We are all excited and I think they sense the significance of the event. My daughter even told my mom the exciting news:

T: Grandma, I'm going to be baptized!
Mom: Oh, yeah?
T: Yeah, and I know what that means! They are going to pour water on my head. Sometimes, if you're a big person, they put your whole body in the water.

*Cute*

Originally, the baptism was scheduled for June 3 but I found out my dad would be in Kenya at that time. I called my dad to ask if I should reschedule, should they choose to attend. He said not to reschedule. I had to reschedule it anyway because, as it turns out, I'll be moving the weekend of June 3. But this let me know that my parents will likely not attend the baptism. This, of course, is what I expected.

My parents show up for EVERYTHING. What will I tell the kids when they don't show up for this?

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Preparing For Baptism

I met with the deacon last Sunday about the baptism for the kids. Outside of my children climbing up the walls in the deacon’s office, the meeting went well. He asked about Godparents and I told him I’d have to get back to him. We set a date but I had to leave a message with him to reschedule because I forgot I’ll be out of town that weekend so it looks like it will end up being sometime in June.

We had to attend two classes about baptism. The classes were okay but they didn’t give enough information to the kids about the purpose and importance of baptism. The woman mentioned the use of water and oil. She mentioned some stories in the Bible that symbolize baptism and the kids did some art projects. Not once did she mention original sin and the need to remove it from the soul. Nor did she mention the Holy Spirit’s role in baptism.

No problem, however, because religious education comes first from the home and I have been talking about these things with my children myself. But what about the families who are not telling this to their children? I think it’s important, if they’re going to have a mandatory class prior to baptism, that it actually teaches the kids these very important aspects of the sacrament.

The kids are really excited about being baptized... They keep asking me, "Are we going to be baptized today?" My oldest keeps telling everyone he wants to be "dunked" because "that’s the way Grandpa was baptized". I explained that they don’t do it that way at our parish but he seems insistent. I’ll have to spend a little more time talking with him about this, I think, so he understands it’s just as effective either way.

Please pray for my children as they get closer to this sacrament. Please also pray that my family will be open to attending. My family never misses events for the kids but I fear they may choose not to attend this one and I worry that my children may not understand their absence.

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Monday, February 26, 2007

Elephant

As I expected, my family did not show up to the Rite of Election on Sunday. Saturday night, I had a feeling they wouldn’t be there and I was pretty upset about it but Sunday, I was a bit more at peace with the idea. At this point, I’m not sure I’ll invite them to the Easter Vigil. I can’t be disappointed if I don’t expect them to be there. My mom has always been one who does not like to miss “important” events in our lives but, apparently, there is a line she won’t cross, though I didn’t know that line existed until now.

Today, I’m feeling a bit angry that they didn’t show up... My sister graduated from a Catholic high school for goodness sake! What would they have done if she had converted while she was going there? If they were THIS opposed to Catholicism, what in the world were they thinking by putting her in that school?

I believe the worst thing about them not showing up is that they completely ignored the invitation... I received no response at all.

My conversion, to them, is the big elephant sitting in the middle of the room. Everyone knows it’s there and no one will talk about it, or acknowledge it. They simply step around it and pretend it doesn’t exist. They all treat me great. They aren’t mean or spiteful or rude. But on matters of faith, they are completely silent. It is, in a sense, a shunning that I didn’t expect.

On the other hand, the rites were AWESOME... I'm going to think a bit more about the experience before I post about it...

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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Things On My Mind

Tonight’s RCIA class is about Marriage and we are asked to bring our spouse/significant other. I managed to get a sitter so Damion could go with me since he usually is the one watching the kids. It should be an interesting evening and I’m looking forward to it!

 

The last few days I’ve been thinking about inviting my family to the Rite of Election and to the Easter Vigil Mass. I’m not sure if I should invite them to both or just Easter Vigil... I’m not sure if they’ll even agree to come. My mom is not one who likes to miss the “big things” in our lives but considering the way she feels about this, she may decide she simply cannot attend. In addition, I have the task of asking her to sign an affidavit stating that I was previously baptized. I have no certificate of baptism and the pastor who baptized me is living somewhere in California. The church I was baptized in fell apart so any records would likely be lost, if there were any to begin with. My mom does not recall having a certificate. I don’t think she can even recall the date I was baptized. If she refuses, I’ll need to seek out another witness... I pray my mom will simply agree to sign it.

 

Yesterday, I listened to the story of Fr. John Corapi. What an amazing and beautiful story! He was born into a Catholic family but did not understand the faith when he was young. Always seeking to “be somebody”, he became a Hollywood millionaire and got addicted to cocaine only to find himself broken and destitute. He eventually found healing in God’s mercy, was called to return to the Catholic faith and became a priest! His story is a perfect example of God’s healing love for us. You can get a copy for a small donation (as little as $1) on catholicity.com.

 

May God bless you this day!

 

 

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Re-focusing

Philippians 2:1-4
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. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.


This is a passage I need to spend more time contemplating in my life. I so often get caught up, as many of us do, in looking to my own interests. I do this in all aspects of my life... even with my own children.

It seems that the more I work on building my faith, the more I am attacked by the world and the more it seems that the evil one tries to break down what the Lord has built up in me. Yesterday was particularly difficult. I was irritable all day, easily frustrated and annoyed by my children. I woke up this morning with a prayer on my heart to seek ways to get over that frustration and subsequent negative reaction I give my children.

Their lives are so precious and I have them only for a short time. I want to show them my best but it seems they often get left-overs from me and I don’t want that for them.

Lord,

Please give me patience and the energy to focus more on them and less on myself. Please show me ways that I can encourage faith in them while they are still young so they will grow to be firmly planted in a relationship with you. Do not let negativity flood my relationship with them, but give me an abundance of your love and patience so I can positively encourage them in all aspects of their little lives.

Amen.

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Monday, January 08, 2007

They Just Don't Understand

It seems my sister is even more opposed to my conversion to Catholicism now that I asked her to be the Christian witness. When I explained what that would mean, she was upset by the "rules" which she says alienate people.

I can understand this because this is how I felt about the closed communion before I understood the reasoning. Isn't it funny how we're all ready to follow the "rules" put out by our government: paying taxes, driving the speed limit, etc? But as soon as the Church has a "rule", it's legalistic or alienating? These rules, help me maintain a healthy relationship with God and help my children also get the best possible upbringing. Isn't that what we all want?

This gave me an opportunity to talk about the history of Catholicism and the authority the Catholic Church was given by Christ himself (in Mt 16) but I'm not sure if she really listened to much that I said. Unfortunately, we were nowhere near a Bible since we were in the middle of the mall so I was not able to substantiate much based on actual scripture but rather on paraphrased scripture.

I asked her what the pillar and foundation of truth is for the Bible. She said, "God." I told her about 1 Timothy 3:15 and said, "Why does God tell us in the Bible that the Church is the pillar and foundation of truth?" She told me that she didn't agree with that... of course, she has to because it's in the Bible!

She said she didn't really want to talk about it... and I got the response I had been waiting for, "Well, I went to four years of Catholic school so I know what they teach!"

If my family truly knew what the Catholic Church taught and held it up in light of scripture, they would also be converting.

This exchange with my sister made me realize how difficult it will be to EVER get my family to understand my reasons for conversion. It breaks me heart that they view me as "lost" when I am so much closer to God now than I was a year a go... when my understanding of Scripture is so much deeper than it was a year ago.

I am so thankful to know there are others out there who share in this journey because I cannot imagine how lonely I would feel otherwise. I feel like the outcast in my own family when I know that what I'm doing is right and that it's what GOD wants me to do. People are constantly trying to re-write my story for me. They cannot accept that this would be God's will and they'd rather believe I was never saved to begin with.

On one hand, this whole journey is joyous but it also comes with a lot of loss for me... but from suffering comes greatness. If Christ could suffer for all my sins, I certainly can suffer this small thing as I follow Him in obedience.

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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Finding a Godparent

In roughly three months, I will be officially accepted into the Catholic Church. I am waiting with great anticipation and, at the same time, I have the task of trying to find a godparent for my three children, who will be baptized in the spring. I have no idea who this person will be.

Several weeks ago, I asked my sister if she wanted to be the Christian witness, but I'm not sure she's up for the part. She is not staunchly anti-Catholic or anything but she doesn't understand the faith and, therefore, has some reservations about it. She's the only one in my immediate family who is not condemning my decision to become Catholic. Ironically, she's also the only one who attended a Catholic high school. (I find this amazing in light of my parents' reaction.)

My children are willed to her should anything happen to me but this presents a small problem because she would not take them to the Catholic church. I asked that she only NEVER speak negatively of the Catholic faith in front of them, which I don't believe she would, and that she permit them to still attend the Catholic Church should the godparent (whoever that may be) be willing to take them in my place. I asked her to think and pray about it and talk it over with her husband, who happens to be a former Catholic.

Strangely, my sister and her husband are godparents for their niece but I'm puzzled at how this was permitted since neither of them are practicing Catholics... I'm also puzzled why someone would choose godparents who are not practicing their faith. Doesn't that seem a bit contrary to the purpose of a godparent?

There is no one else I'd will my children to. I only hope that it will never come down to that and if it does, I pray that the Lord would continue to guide them in the Catholic direction. I'd hate for them to miss out on all the beauty and treasures contained in the Catholic faith, which encourage such a reverence and love for the Lord.

I thank the Lord for my Protestant background, which I believe has led me to a deeper understanding of the Catholic faith. Everything good in Protestantism remains with me still and I will encourage those positive aspects in my children as well. I know if something happened to me, that my children would still be raised knowing the Lord, which gives me comfort but I pray that God will bless my children with a faithful Catholic who will stay actively involved in their growing faith... a godparent that God may be preparing even now for such an important role.

Amen.

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Struggling

Have you ever learned something new, heard an amazing story, or discovered something that you just wanted to share with everyone you know?

That's how I feel about the Catholic faith and the truth I've discovered within. But disappointment has set in. Those I want to share it with the most, don't want to hear anything about it. I've been re-directed in conversations and emails have been flat out ignored. If I'm talking like a Protestant, all is well... but if I say anything about my personal faith journey and growth, they shut down.

The unity I've found within the body of Christ has brought disunity within my own family. They doubt my faith. They doubt my salvation. It's as if they never knew me at all! It's as if the faith they saw in me my whole life has been reduced to a lie in their eyes...

I want to tell them the truth! That everything they have been taught about Catholicism is inaccurate... it's just a collection of lies propagated for the last 500 years! I want to tell them that they don't have to push verses they don't understand under the rug! I want them to read John 6 and its undeniable reality that Christ is truly present in Holy Communion! I want them to understand that Catholics don't "worship" Mary, that the saints are their "very alive" brothers and sisters in Christ, that Christ truly IS the bread of life present in the Eucharist that isn't merely a symbol, and that the Holy Spirit truly washed them free of sin at their baptism! How can I keep such fullness of faith a secret? How can I NOT share with them all the beauty and significance in the rituals and sacraments of the Church? How can I make them understand that Mary is their mother too and that Christ gave her to us... that they should call her blessed like the Bible says, instead of ignoring her? How can I make them see that what they view as legalism is simply a prescription given by God and the Church for healthy living?

It is so difficult to just sit quiet and to sense their disappointment when I know with my whole being that I'm following Christ into His Church!

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Monday, September 25, 2006

Informing the family

I was not nearly as nervous as I expected to be as I spent the afternoon with my family. I told my sister first. She was great about it... understanding that Catholics are ALSO Christians. She even told me that she's experienced moments in a Catholic church where she felt very close to God... And she knows she's in no position to judge.

My mom and dad did not take the news as gracefully. I informed them that I would not be regularly attending church with them any more and they questioned me as to why. I told them my personal story... leaving out some details of course, or I would have been there all night!

My mom asked me how I justified praying to Mary. I explained that one is not required to pray to Mary to be a Catholic but explained the difference in prayer to Mary and prayer to God. "They are 'dead'" was her main point... dead in body, yes... but their soul lives on and is still a part of the body of Christ. I don't think my answer was heard, much less accepted... which was to be expected.

What hurt the most about the whole thing was my mom asked if I was "saved". I couldn't believe my ears. It was like my own mom didn't even know me. I told her that I do not believe that salvation is a one-time event and that is why we are called to "work out our salvation with fear and trembling". She told me that that is not what that verse means! I suppose there are a million different interpretations for that verse, able to be used by anyone for their personal advantage...

In short, when the conversation began to heat up a bit, I simply said, "I don't want to argue... I just wanted to let you know what was going on with me. I don't expect you to understand and your reaction was also not unexpected. I have a book I can leave with you that easily explains various doctrines of the church if you so choose to read it."

My mom then asked me if I would be willing to read a book written by an "ex-Catholic who left the Catholic Church". I told her I'll read whatever she wants me to read.

I left the book but she didn't have on hand the one she wants me to read.

She asked me if I believed "this" and "that" and I told them yes but explained that I am not willing to answer questions shot at me like ping pong balls. I told them if they wanted to discuss a particular area of concern, that I'd be more than happy to plan a subject and a time...

I also explained that I was no just jumping blindly into Catholicism... that I've been reading and studying and praying for a while about everything... and that I'm only following God.

Both of my parents hugged me when we were done talking with each other (so at least I know they aren't going to disown me!)

My prayer is that they will see I am still the same person.

I thank God for my sister and her very kind and loving reaction.

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Thursday, August 24, 2006

Please Pray

My sister and her husband are unable to have children of their own and have thought for some time about adoption. My sister knows a woman at work who has a pregnant friend who wants to give up her child for adoption. She previously gave up her two-year-old because she just didn't want to responsibility any longer.

My sister's co-worker mentioned to this girl a while back (before she'd decided to adopt her baby out) that she knew someone who was wanting to adopt. Yesterday this girl asked about my sister and wants to meet them. She said she wants to get everything figured out as soon as possible because the baby is due in December.

My sister knows all the horror stories about adoption, especially when you are approached privately, so they are going to be very cautious.

I'd like to ask everyone to please pray that this is legitimate and that this will be something they will be able to work out between them if it is the Lord's will.

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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Difficult to Let Go

Yesterday, I suffered some doubts...

At this point in time, if the Catholic Church isn't "it", then I think I would be forced to be an orphan of sorts... and that idea terrifies me.

I suppose the doubts are normal.

I am still attending the non-denominational church with my parents as well as Mass with Damion. I am in a strange middle place, trying to get used to the idea that I have to let go of something I've loved for so long. See, some people don't like the "loudness" of non-denominational churches but it's all I've ever known and it saddens me to leave it behind. I don't hear "loudness" or a lack of reverence. I hear passion... and a great love for God. Thing is, Protestants love God no less than Catholics... just differently and they are unintentionally ignorant to the fullness of Christianity that is found within Catholicism.

I am not converting because of feelings. If I were, I would not be converting at all. I am converting because I am following God. This is, without a doubt, one of the most trying times in my life. I seem to go along just fine one minute but then I am brought to tears.

I don't have any particular attachment to the specific church that I attend, but rather an attachment to the WAY in which I've always worshipped. Catholic worship is so different and I'm struggling to "attach" to it...

I know eventually, over time, I will fully migrate over to the Catholic Church but I simply don't feel ready to let go of my non-denominational worship. Intellectually and theologically, I am no longer non-denominational. I do not participate in their communion anymore and I no longer hold to sola scriptura...

But I'm going to allow myself the freedom to slowly let go. I find comfort knowing that I don't have to give everything up completely. I love Christian music and though I won't hear the songs I've grown up with in church, I can still listen to them on CDs and on Christian radio.

I'm going to take my time... and I have faith that God will show me the beauty in Catholic worship and someday I hope to feel at home in it.

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Thursday, August 03, 2006

Family

Being raised in the non-denominational church, I learned all the basic anti-Catholic ideas about Catholicism. Although no one spoke horribly about the church in my family, it was thought that there were SOME Christians within the Catholic Church.

I even remember my mother stating that she believed her aunt, despite her Catholicism, was definitely "saved" because she had such an obvious love for the Lord. I suppose even I felt sorry that she was so devout in Catholicism though I never thought to ask her about her faith at all.

She is now ailing and there is supposed to be a family reunion of sorts in Southern California in September. I would *really* like to be able to speak with her, tell her about my journey and hear her own story of faith.

In fact, through the last few months, I find I am quite inspired by the conversion stories of others. I just finished "Suprised by Truth" by Patrick Madrid. I found myself near tears while reading it and realized how much I have in common with many of them. The light-bulb moments, as I call them... in which you gain a whole new understanding of a passage of Scripture that you previously had no explaination for and, therefore, ignored.

These are all things I wish to address through this blog... one day at a time.

When I finally approach my family with the announcement that I am entering the Catholic Church, I don't doubt that I will be asked a lot of questions about how I have been able to accept certain dotrines within the Church. But I am resting easy in this because the Lord is faithful. There is still so much to learn, so much to read, so much praying and studying to do. But I need to be prepared to answer as many of their questions as possible.

I want it to be clear that I'm not just doing this based on emotion. It is truly the last thing I ever wanted to do but I am constantly reminded to follow God and I see a treasure of beauty waiting to be discovered within the Catholic Church that I now long to be a part of.

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