A Crown of Blood Red and Purple Roses


“Hail! Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, my Mother Mary, hail! At your feet I humbly pray and offer you a crown of blood-red roses, in remembrance of the passion of your divine Son. Each ten bound together, recalling to you a sorrowful mystery, with my petition for a particular grace.

Hail! Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, my Mother Mary, hail! At your feet I humbly pray and offer you a crown of royal purple roses, to remind you of your glories. Each ten bound together, recalling to you a glorious mystery, with my petition for a particular grace.”

These prayers begin the 54-Day Novena, well-known in the Catholic community. It is said to obtain a special favor from our Mother Mary. You pray 27 days of intention and then 27 days of thanksgiving for Mary’s grace in fulfilling your request. The thanksgiving prayers should be said even if your request is not granted because our Mother Mary is always working in our best interests on our behalf. I decided to start this novena this past Monday. To be honest, I feel I should already be saying the prayers of thanksgiving. Since the time the quarantine began, the Lord has provided several miracles in my life. The Holy Spirit has moved in ways I never imagined. I still am not sure exactly what their purpose is, but I have complete faith that the fulfillment of that purpose will be wonderful.

Over the last month, I moved from Connecticut to South Carolina. I was surprised the Lord called me to move so quickly since He led me to move to Connecticut just 4 months ago. This must be what happens when you say “yes” to the Lord. My life is no longer my own; I now should be in South Carolina. Looking back on my journey there, it has been unpredictable but also exciting. I have moved over 5 times in less than 3 years. I never thought I would move so often; I believed I would live in my hometown in Colorado forever. I also felt I would hate a life that required moving from one place to another. The miracle is that what I thought I would hate the most has brought me the most joy. Up till now, I have lived in fear of change, but instead, I embrace it.

In thanksgiving for all the blessings the Lord has given me even amidst all the uncertainty in this world, I decided to dye my hair again. I dyed it blue when I moved to New Jersey to celebrate the new changes the Lord granted to me then. The color blue was a symbol and a reminder of the love and care of Mother Mary. I’m sure it may seem odd to some that I would dye my hair as a sign of thanksgiving to Jesus, but I believe that as children of God, we all long to find creative ways to express our devotion to Him. The act of dyeing my hair is an outward sign of the love and trust I have in Jesus Christ. This time I chose red and purple for the colors to reflect the prayers of this 54-Day Novena. I pray it will be seen as my offering of deep red and royal purple roses to Mary and her son Jesus Christ. I have already seen how the Lord can use my hair to allow me to interact with and enter into His family. It has sparked conversation, and the conversations have created joy for both myself and others. I can feel the Holy Spirit working to inspire these conversations because I am an introvert and do not normally initiate verbal exchanges with people I don’t know.

Regardless of what this recent change means or what plans the Lord has in store for me, I am assured that a true adventure lies ahead. I owe everything to Him and will never stop offering everything I have in return to Him with thanksgiving.

Servant Leadership

This world continues its descent into chaos. Every morning I have to actively resist not falling prey to fear. The news is all about terrorism; life as it was has disappeared. We are at a pivotal point in history. I remember my elementary social studies class, learning about the American Revolution in the late 1700’s, the World Wars, the civil rights movement–all shaped the world I lived in. Those events were defined as “history,” which I interpreted as events that would never happen again, certainly not in my life time. I could not imagine that I might one day find myself amid circumstances that would create the history of future generations. I would never have dreamed of the hardships our world is currently facing and that will endure for years to come.

This world has been consumed by fear, anger, hate and suffering. Life seems surreal because I have only read about similar circumstances in fiction. So I ask the question: what am I supposed to do when faced with all this? I have never wanted to be a leader–leaders have too much responsibility, and I have always been a people pleaser, not a people director. Making everyone happy is an impossible task! If I were to fail someone or receive criticism from another, I would not be able to handle it well.

During quarantine, I signed up for a spiritual leadership course, and one of the teachers talked of what it meant to be a servant leader. He made the point that in order to be an effective leader, leadership must be defined differently. The world places leaders in positions of power, requiring them to display aggressive strength as they govern people. This is not the type of leader Jesus Christ was; instead, He took the position of a servant, laying down His own life for His people.

“For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45

This world desperately needs leaders, but the great ones will not come from expected places, nor will they be prestigious and well-to-do. Jesus calls His people again, asking us to follow His example and serve our neighbors the way we would want to be served. I see this world falling farther and farther away from the teachings of the Church and Jesus Christ, and it is heart-breaking. This world is no longer my home; nothing in it is familiar or comfortable any more, but the people in it are still my brothers and sisters, and I love them, even if they are my enemies. I pray each day that I will find the courage to be a servant of all, and to lay down my life as Jesus did, for their salvation.

Heartburn

This Sunday we celebrate the birthday of the Church–Pentecost. I am amazed I look forward to this feast day so much; sometimes it seems even harder to wait for Pentecost than for Easter. I long for the baptism of the Holy Spirit just as most Christians long for the resurrection of Jesus Christ after a long Lent.This particular time of waiting was especially significant this year. We made the journey through the octave of Easter while in quarantine, which made our experience similar to that of the first disciples. When the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles, they were all hiding in the upper room, filled with fear. Doesn’t this sound familiar? My apartment is on the third floor of a grand old Victorian house and sits at the top of the highest hill in town–truly an “upper” room! But regardless of where people were quarantined, everyone shared a common emotion, the crippling feeling of fear. The apostles, too, were filled with fear and they had just received the promises of Christ in person. Our hearts have been filled with fear lately, although we remain devoted to the Lord and His promise that He has conquered the grave. In light of the current state of this world, the Catholic Church calls us to experience a personal Pentecost.

I strove to achieve this personal Pentecost; I was in dire need of spiritual renewal. During the final weeks leading up to Pentecost, I was enduring a growing sense of spiritual isolation, made worse by the knowledge that I was bringing it on myself. I let my daily devotions take a back seat just by being lazy. I missed seeing the face of Jesus. On the feast of the Ascension, I knew my faith needed reigniting, so I decided to pray a Holy Spirit novena. Through the nine days before Pentecost, some key events happened to me. First, I began to experience serious heartburn. Physical pain completely prevents me from focusing my devotion on the Lord. The fire inside my body was excruciating and nothing could put out the flames. As I walked up to the church on the vigil of Pentecost, my insides felt as though they were going to combust. Yet, sitting quietly in the pew, the Holy Spirit came over me, or perhaps I should say from within me. The fact that my acid reflux was causing my heart to burn in a sense was not lost on me. Suddenly, instead of seeing this heartburn as a curse, I saw in it a gift. Heartburn is truly painful, but it brought me closer to Christ because I could feel the Holy Spirit and was once again in communion with the Holy Trinity, which I had been missing throughout my spiritual isolation. As an added blessing, when I received the Holy Eucharist, the presence of Jesus Christ entered into my soul and body and took away the pain from the acid reflux.

I had a vision of the Holy Spirit coming into my heart in the form of a dove and starting to flap His wings. The flames in my heart were not extinguished, but dispersed. When the first disciples received the Holy Spirit, they were able to depart from the upper room, traveling the world sharing the good news that we have all been saved by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In this time of personal Pentecost, we are once more called by Christ to go out and share His words. We need the Holy Spirit to fulfill this mission; He is the one who can extinguish our fear and ignite our fire.

One prevalent theme emphasized this year was thinking of the Holy Spirit as a person and not as “it.” I had fallen victim to this perception, viewing the Holy Spirit as more of a presence than an actual person like God the Father or Jesus Christ, His Son. The bishop of my archdiocese asked if I ever pray to the Holy Spirit. I was surprised that I didn’t. I prayed to the Father and the Son and usually allowed the Holy Spirit to move within me, but I never really prayed to Him. I have faith that miracles will come from this Pentecost. We can all attain a new relationship, a personal and intimate one, with the third person of the Trinity.

Silence

After eight long weeks, I was finally able to re-enter a church for Sunday Mass. The restrictions imposed by the pandemic that has plagued our country have started to lift. One of the biggest restrictions had been that people could not attend Mass, not in person at least. Thanks to modern technology, most churches had the ability to livestream Sunday Masses and other prayer services, like the Rosary, Stations of the Cross, etc., to their parishioners. This was a true blessing, but watching an online Mass could not replace the deep spiritual experience of attending an actual Mass with fellow believers. I have been unable to receive Jesus Christ through the sacrament of communion for over two months.

That being said, I should have rushed the doors of the church in order to receive communion and celebrate Holy Mass once again. At the beginning of this pandemic, I began to see the devastating effects it was having on the Church and started to envision what it would be like when we were finally allowed to attend Mass in an actual physical church. I pictured people flooding into church filled with joy and thanksgiving; people reuniting with each other and receiving the essential healing they all so desperately craved during this time of isolation and deprivation. Unfortunately, this vision was not the reality I encountered when re-entering the church yesterday.

First of all, I did not have the feeling of excitement I expected. I didn’t wake up in the morning filled with anticipation knowing I was going to receive Christ in the Holy Eucharist once more. Instead, I found myself making excuses as to why I should not go to Mass. I had too many obligations that day, and if I were to go, I would probably be turned away because the church had reached its limited capacity of 25% full. I feared I would be rejected by the church. Of course, this fear was illogical, but my mind still dwelled on it. I overcame all these doubts and hesitations and set off for church. When I arrived, the parking lot was almost empty and I had expected it to be packed with cars. I immediately wondered if I had the wrong time. Had Mass been cancelled at the last minute? The Holy Spirit quelled my doubts, and I got out of the car and went to the church.

In church I had to face the difficult truth that the state of this pandemic was still alive and well. We may have been granted permission to attend church, but people are choosing to remain at home and watch Mass virtually. The fear of catching the coronavirus is prevalent in our lives and though we can celebrate communally again, we are unable to celebrate as a complete community. Social distancing was blatantly evident by the blue tape on the floor indicating where we were to stand and almost everyone’s face was hidden behind a mask. I was so focused on maintaining social distance while walking up to receive communion that I almost missed my chance to fully encounter Christ in the sacrament of the Eucharist. My mind was engulfed by fear–the simple fear that I would make a wrong move and compromise the health of my fellow parishioners.

Amid all this trepidation and doubt, the joy of the Lord would not be denied, and the gift of joy He gave me will sustain me until the threat of the coronavirus has been totally extinguished. During Mass, a deep silence rested over the church, and within this silence, I entered the Lord’s presence. It was the first time the ceremony did not revolve around the homily or the dialogue I engaged in through prayer. In holy silence, the Lord is most present. He did not have a grand message for us all; He wanted us to be with Him in His home again. It seemed like a reunion with loved ones you haven’t seen in a long time. We first embrace each other without words; we know they will come later; it is more important to be with the other person and take in his or her entire being. I believe this was my experience in church. I may not have been able to physically embrace my brothers and sisters in Christ, but I was embraced by Christ. Before and after receiving communion, my body felt waves of goosebumps or “Godbumps” which is the better term. Every time I receive these “Godbumps” I know the Lord is near. The Lord was very near in that church yesterday, and He did not need to reveal His presence through grand and elaborate gestures, but rather in His deep and abiding silence.

Celebration of Life

My grandfather died this week. I have experienced the loss of several loved ones throughout my life; I should be able to accept death. The truth is that every loss is different because each person was different and played a different role in my life. What never changes is the immediate transition into grief the moment I hear the news that my loved one has left this world. I have always struggled with the concept of grief, mainly because the grief I feel is more for me than for my loved one, which makes me seem selfish. I am truly blessed to have faith in the Lord that provides me with the peace of knowing he or she is in heaven with our heavenly Father. From that perspective, grief has no place in my emotions; my loved ones are at peace and their sufferings and pain have been taken away forever.

I grieve because I am still in my earthly body without the love of the person I lost to help me deal with worldly trials. I grieve because I mourn the loss of a companion I had grown up believing would never leave me. I remember being a child surrounded by family. This family was the cornerstone of my life, and I could not imagine a world without it. As a child I did not understand the concept of death. Somehow I never outgrew this misperception, and when I began to experience the deaths of my family members and other loved ones, the stability of my life was shattered. The hardest image I find myself needing to alter is that of my wedding. It started in a church filled to bursting with family, and with each loss, I need to change the vision of my wedding day and the church becomes less full with more empty spaces. My grandfather was the hardest person to remove from that image. I believed he would be around to see me married and to have his great-grandchildren.

At one time in my life I would be angry with the Lord each time my family diminished. I did not understand how He could take away the people who made my life what it was. The truth is that I cannot build my life on those of others. The only person I can rely on to always be a part of it is Jesus Christ. Due to the COVid-19 pandemic, my family was not able to be with my grandfather when he died. This might sound tragic, but the only person who needed to be with him was there. I have complete faith that Jesus was at my grandfather’s bedside when he died, ushering him into heaven. In fact, I believe his hospital room was packed with a host of angels, saints and other family members ready to accompany my grandfather on his journey to his new home in heaven.
Every time I face death again I do feel the fear of being alone, but then a soft voice whispers, “I am here.” We are all human and we will all die, which means we cannot count on each other always being around us, at least, not physically. The one person we can count on is the Lord. I am thankful for this because He is the only being worthy of complete trust, and I know He is the only one I need.

Keeping this in mind, I no longer grieve for my departed loved ones, but rather celebrate their lives. My grandfather’s life was definitely worth celebrating. The day he died, my brain raced through all the beautiful memories I shared with him. They are so precious and even though I wept as I remembered them, my tears were from joy because the memories are such treasures. My grandfather’s life was a gift from God, which I will carry the rest of my life. My grandfather will indeed be with me the rest of my life. He lives on in my heart, and the hearts of the many people he touched.

Dear Grandpa

The Lord called you home yesterday. I find myself smiling as I think of the happy reunion you will have with our heavenly Father. Your journey to eternal rest was long and very difficult at times; I rejoice that you can finally find peace in the Father’s everlasting arms. I can only imagine the conversations you two will have–all about tennis and the weather.

There are many words I wish I had shared with you before you left this earth. For most of my life, I often saw you as my everything. I felt completely protected and secure with you from the time I was a tiny baby. At our first meeting when I was about 6 months old, I found comfort in your arms, and from that moment on you played a key part in shaping my world. I owe much of my creative spirit to you. You took me on wonderful adventures to magical parks where you would place me in a swing set and push me high enough that I could touch the sky. You always dressed up like Santa Claus at Christmas and showed that me that Santa Claus was real because you emulated his spirit so well. You found wonder in the simplest elements of nature which allowed me to see the Lord.

You were a respected and successful lawyer and judge, but you never let your position define you. Work, money, esteem were never that important. Love always came first. I know what love is not because of the words you spoke but by every action you took in life. You were the perfect gentleman to everyone you met, putting everyone else before yourself and expecting nothing in return.

I owe my life to you and your love. For this reason, I can let you go now and assure you I will be okay without your physical presence. During so much of my life, I looked to you for guidance, and it was that guidance that brought me to my faith in the Lord. Your faith was phenomenal! It breaks my heart that I was not with you in your final hours, but I know my presence was not necessary because Jesus Christ was with you, the only Presence you needed to be there.

I spent most of my life worrying about what I would do without you in it. Now I am finally facing that reality, but fortunately, I learned from you to rely on the Lord. Thank you, Grandpa, for the memories, the peace, and most of all the love with which you filled my life. You will never leave me because I hold you forever in my heart.

Praying Deeper

It is officially May, and I have been in a state of isolation for over a month due to the pandemic. In the past week, I have undergone several mental struggles. I’ve become frustrated with my lack of motivation. I have all the time in the world, but cannot get anything done. Each passing day I seem to waste more time. A little voice in my head keeps saying, “Make the most of this time; you’ll miss it when you don’t have it.” My mind actively sought to accomplish everything I “should” be doing. I should be volunteering, walking outside, reading more books, even writing a book! These thoughts left me with more anxiety–my to-do list was increasing, but I was unable to complete anything on the list. The anxiety came from my belief that I was letting the Lord down. He gave me this gift of time, a time I truly wanted to give back to Him and devote to Him, but I was squandering it by twiddling my fingers and wandering aimlessly from one random thought to another.

I was reaching my limit; my frustrations were mounting uncontrollably, when I tuned into a talk led by a Franciscan friar. He echoed many of the same feelings I experienced, saying this was a time to draw closer to God; however, this friar had a different perspective of what this call really meant. I was looking for ways to draw closer to God through man made means: seminars, books, live-streamed Masses, and specific prayers. The friar’s way of drawing closer to God was much simpler–it was to go deeper into prayer. So many times I have focused on the specific prayers I should say daily–like the Rosary and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. These prayers are wonderful, but I become so fixated on saying them that I forget to actually allow for transformation to take place. The friar pointed out that there is a deeper form of prayer we can achieve. He illustrated this idea of our hearts on top of a mountain, and on this mountain, we can weather the storms around us. This is where we can encounter Jesus Christ. It is so easy to let our emotions and thoughts define who we are, but we are deeper than that definition. The chaos created by our emotions and thoughts causes the storms surrounding us. By going further into prayer, we can overcome these storms and find ourselves on top of the mountain where we can be with Christ and only Christ. Then we can discover what He is truly saying to us.

I eagerly tried this new method of prayer because I wouldn’t feel limited by everything I was “supposed” to do or say, all I really had to do was draw closer to the Lord. It worked! For five minutes, I felt as though I had accomplished more than in the past month of quarantine. Within those five minutes, I did not try to pray for anything. I had no pre-arranged agendas; I simply allowed myself to be with Christ. I was finally at peace with this unique time in my life. God is asking me for a deeper prayer life with Him, but this does not require any heroic effort–all I need to do is to be with Him.

Work of Faith

This past week focused my attention on several new realities it’s difficult for me to admit. When my company first temporarily shut down, the concept of being unemployed seemed somewhat appealing. I could get paid for staying home and “relaxing.” What could be better? Unfortunately, the reality was not “relaxing” at all! Each passing day, my mind returns to a conversation I had with my father when I first sought steady employment. He told me work would bring worth to my life. At the time, I remember rolling my eyes and thinking he was crazy. I couldn’t imagine ever wanting to work and appreciating the value of the work I did. Yet now I wake up every day wishing for work. While talking to friends who complain about their heavier work load, I am envious of them. During these times, I have a growing desire to work. I want the struggles, the annoyances, the irritants–all elements I used to complain about in my job. As difficult as my tasks at work used to be, they gave me a purpose. Coming home at the end of the day, I had a reason for my exhaustion because I had put in a good day’s work. Now I am discovering how plagued I am by anxiety. My biggest concerns are not even crucial issues–they are minor worries about preparing dinner or calling a friend at an appropriate time or returning a text.

Among all these trials, the Lord keeps taking the opportunity to teach me. Whenever I am confronted by a new concern about work or another stimulus to my anxiety, I am learning to seek Him out. There is absolutely nothing more important that should be placed as a higher priority. If I go to Jesus first, I receive His promise that He will take care of everything.

At this time when I really do not have that much to do, my gaze must remain fixed on the Lord. With each moment of every day, what can I give back to Him? This may be the best time to evangelize. There are so many people suffering and falling into despair, losing sight of the Lord. In the moments when people approach me with concern, instead of admitting to my fears and anxieties, I can turn the conversation around. The truth is that amid all this chaos, I have found peace and even joy. When I can overcome the external voices making me afraid of my future, I can hear the Lord’s soft and calming voice. He has not abandoned me nor has He abandoned this world. He is actually more present than ever and the best use of my time at this moment is to profess this to others. It may appear that I am in a difficult spot: I am not working, I have no guaranteed income and I am living on my own. The truth is I have my faith and it has set me free. I am not on my own; I am living in my Father’s house and He is taking care of me. There is nothing to fear.

The Comfortability of the Uncomfortable

Each passing day I find myself becoming more comfortable living in an uncomfortable place. I started this period of quarantine committed to not letting myself accept a life of isolation. Unfortunately, this commitment is getting harder to maintain. The temptation to stay isolated is easy to allow, especially when you are alone with nothing but the voices in your own head to keep you company. When I first entered quarantine, I made an effort to reach out to friends everyday, and whenever there was a virtual social gathering, I was the first person to sign in. I probably talked to several different people each day, and was astonished because these virtual platforms made it easy to connect with others. I now find myself tired and declining phone calls instead of initiating them.

Today I reached my ultimate limit and found myself experiencing feelings of fear. I am quite familiar with fear and know it takes many forms. This particular form was one I had not encountered in a long time; it was a fear I truly believed I had conquered. This morning I actually had a reason to leave my apartment. I needed to get blood work done in New Jersey in preparation for my annual doctor’s appointment. Instead of waking up to a feeling of excitement, I woke up in a state of anxiety. I dragged my feet getting ready and kept trying to invent excuses to get out of making the trip. The fear was coming from the unknown elements that I faced in the long drive to New Jersey. What’s funny is that the trip to New Jersey is not that long, but with the new pandemic circumstances, it seemed a lot longer. I have Type I diabetes, and I check my blood sugar level every morning. Today the number was a bit lower than I would have liked. This is when my old fears came flooding back. The fear that my blood sugars would go dangerously low when I am away from my apartment is the fear I allowed to dictate my life when I was first diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 18. After my initial diagnosis, it took a long time for my blood sugars to stabilize. According to my doctors, this was normal considering how long I had lived with my diabetes undiagnosed. Regulating my sugar levels was a battle and terrifying at times. I did not understand how my body would respond to the amount of carbs I ingested. This resulted in sometimes overestimating my insulin dose. When someone has too much insulin in his or her body, blood sugars drop, which can lead to uncomfortable and even life-threatening symptoms. Throughout this learning process, I did encounter some challenging low blood sugars–the ones that I remember most all occurred when I was away from my home. One happened during a college class; I became dizzy and my vision blurred. I also got overheated with feelings comparable to a hot flash. Going through one of these low blood sugar episodes is enough to make anyone never want to leave home again.

In response, I self-imposed my own quarantine. I was sick and I felt justified in removing myself from society. The reasons I quarantined myself were similar to those putting everyone in quarantine now. I isolated myself because I no longer had the strength to deal with society’s expectations. “People just wouldn’t understand,” I told myself. In my isolation, I built up strength and eventually was able to leave my home and re-enter society, but it was a long and difficult process. I put myself and my family through a great deal of pain.

As I drove to my doctor’s office in New Jersey, I reflected back on this old fear that I was experiencing once again. Here I was becoming comfortable in this state of being apart from the world. The Lord created us to be in communion with one another, but it is so easy to run away from that. As human beings, we gravitate to remaining in darkness because that darkness hides our deficiencies. As this pandemic continues, I wonder what it will be like re-entering society when it is finally over. I hear many people say, “I can’t wait for things to go back to normal.” There are moments when I am so eager to do normal things–going to a mall, seeing a movie in a theatre, getting a haircut! Then fear enters in and I start thinking about the reality of the situation. There is so much unknown about the future, and I quickly retreat to the sanctuary of the safety of my apartment.

The truth is that the world has changed, and the old idea of “normal” is no longer the same. We really have no idea what life will be like when we are able to leave our homes in freedom again. Nothing is certain and we have nothing material to rely on. More than ever, we need to turn our focus to God alone because He is the only constant that will never change. I could easily fall back on my old ways and what I relied on when I first quarantined myself while dealing with diabetes, but I must remember I am not the person I was then. Through the grace of God, my heart has been transformed. When first managing diabetes, I sought solitude in the comforts of this world–my home, my room, even my family. The problem with these sources of comfort is that they can all change. At this time, I know I will keep encountering fear and struggle when the time comes to transition to another way of living, but I will not seek assurance from the things of this world. I will seek the “blessed assurance” of the Lord, my God and Savior

Quarantine

It has taken some time, but I am finally experiencing the fruits of this quarantine. A dear friend of mine sent me an email echoing the current emotions I am embracing while being isolated. The email basically broke down the meaning of the word “quarantine.” It comes from the Latin root for “forty.” In the Bible, there is a theme that involves repeated use of the number 40:
The great flood lasted 40 days.

Moses left Egypt for 40 days.

Moses spent 40 days on Mt. Sinai to receive the 10 Commandments.

The Exodus was 40 days.

Jesus fasted for 40 days.

Lent is 40 days.

Whenever the number 40 appears, it is normally followed by great change. Ever since Easter Sunday, I am feeling the Lord’s presence, and He is at work in this world and in the hearts of His people. I do believe God is going to change this world and for the better. Even amid all the negative news that fills the headlines, the belief continues to to dwell in my mind and the negativity cannot enter my heart because it has been filled with the Holy Spirit. Pope Francis referenced the days following the resurrection of Jesus Christ and how His disciples were “filled with Joy.” Joy is a gift from the Holy Spirit; therefore, you cannot have joy without the Holy Spirit. In these uncertain times, there is one guarantee–Jesus Christ has risen and He has set us free.

It is remarkable how scripture passages have taken on new meaning during these times because essentially the way we are living is parallel to how the disciples lived after the resurrection. We have isolated ourselves in our houses; we are fearful and scared of what the future might bring, just as the disciples were. Jesus came to them and opened up their hearts so that they might understand the scripture and go out and proclaim the good news. In our present time, it is more important than ever to hold onto the promise of salvation and share it with our brothers and sisters.

The world is changing, and there is sadness, disease, despair, poverty and death more prevalent than ever, but not even death can keep us from receiving and expressing the joy of the Holy Spirit. I do not think the world will be the same after this pandemic ends, but that is not necessarily bad. Each day I see beautiful transformations; people are staying home with their families; people are praying every day; people are finding the Lord.

We are in the year 2020, and 20+20=40. God is doing great work among us; we just need to keep our eyes fixed on Him and trust. I know that Jesus Christ has risen and is walking among us, as He did so many years ago. I am reading the gospels and applying them to the lives we are living right now. I am in the fishing boat with the disciples and have seen Christ on the shore. Jesus Christ is calling to me and I must go to Him. This is a time more than ever before when our faith in the Lord can allow us to walk on water.