My Conversion Story

To read my conversion story, I have posted it in .pdf format available for download.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving Reflections

I originally posted this on my Facebook page as a note on the day before Thanksgiving 2011, but you only see Notes if you go looking for them. No one knew it was there. I'm giving it a shot here, but I know FB is messing around with the RSS feeds, so who knows?

I have the day off of work today. I’m cooking the family turkey early and bringing it over to my parent’s tomorrow. It’s in the oven, and my wife is out getting her hair done. I just finished saying the Rosary and am listing to Palestrina on Pandora radio (

So, suffice it to say, I have some time this afternoon to take stock of what is going on in my life since last Thanksgiving and to think on what I am truly thankful for.

During the past year, I got a new (to me) car, and new camera, a new bed (badly needed) and lots of other material things. But am I really thankful for everything that I have, or do I take them for granted? Should I be? Some were necessary and I thank God for them. But there are so many others that I did not need. I have wasted money on frivolous items that could have been better used elsewhere, and yet I have no money at the end of the month for giving to those who need it much worse than I. I am grateful that I do help where I can, but I know I could do so much more.

It is only just over four years now since I have rediscovered the Faith of our Fathers, the Holy Faith, the Catholic Church, begun by Christ himself. I have come so far in the last few years. There are so many people on the internet, EWTN TV and radio, Catholic Answers radio and the forums, Fr. Robert Barron, Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, and of course, probably the best author of our day, Pope Benedict XVI.

I go to St. John Vianney in Wyoming. This is the parish where I was baptized as a baby. Fr. Mike Alber is literally a Godsend. He is kind, humble yet manly, cognizant of Church Law and proper Liturgy. We now have Fr. Luis Garcia, freshly ordained earlier this year. If you don’t think you need to go to confession, you will after you hear him. He can be hard to understand sometimes as his Columbian Spanish is thick. But God speaks through him and his message is clear. If you can get through one his homilies without laughing a bit (ay, yi, yi!,) you must be daydreaming.

I am thankful for so many members of the RCIA team at SJV. Barb Scott is one of the most godly women I have ever met in my life. And she knows her stuff! I always learn a lot from her at our training sessions and every member of the team, and ultimately, every person in the parish who is the recipient of some kind of Faith Formation there, learns a great deal because of her love for the Lord, and her dedication to furthering his Kingdom on earth and in Heaven. (Do I win a prize for such a long run-on sentence?)

I am thankful for the Catholic Information Center and the good instruction I have received from them, even if they can be a bit ‘liberal” for my liking.

And of course for my family.

I wish my wife, Mary, would join me in my faith journey and return to the Catholic Church of her childhood. She loves the Lord, but we are not on the same page on this. But we are still very much in love with each other and I wouldn’t trade her for anyone or anything. I would be so incomplete without her. I can be a hot-head at times and she keeps me even-keeled. Every day, I am always amazed at how much she reflects Christ in her actions, her conversation, her sensitivity to sin, her caring for people, her wisdom, and her insight. Even if I do or say something that hurts her, I know that when I see how much I have hurt her, I can see Christ’s face in hers convicting me of my sin and bringing me back to him and her, and his forgiveness covers all.

I am thankful that even though there have been some rocky financial times and employment issues, our kids and their wives are still together and love each other. Mike and Matt are still be the best of friends. They are both making choices that can scare a parent, but I trust that God is bringing them where they need to be and all will be well.

Very recently my big sister, Cathi, lost her husband to liver cancer. I am thankful that although he did not lead what many of us would call a “Christian” life, he was a baptized Catholic, and he did receive the Anointing of the Sick before his passing. I do hope that we will all be reunited again one day.

Which naturally brings me to God’s Mercy. What can I say? If God can have mercy on me, he can have mercy on anyone. There is no sin so powerful, or so heinous, that his Mercy cannot overcome it. Praise Him, our most excellent Redeemer!

My other sister Vicki, is recently employed after being laid-off from her former job. I am so thankful that she now has some money coming in. Although it is a physically demanding job, I hope she can find something different. I know that she would appreciate a prayer or two about her job situation, and for her husband and children who have also had a lot of trouble finding work.

I love my brother, Jeff, dearly. It’s hard to believe that as I was growing up, I found him so annoying. Six years his senior, led to a lot of teasing and I used to pick on him incessantly. That is until my dear Aunt Jitter, who lived with us in the last months of her too short life, asked me “Jim, why do you torture him so much?” Here was this sweet woman, literally on her deathbed, in terrible pain, correcting me for my behavior. After she passed, I was never able to pick on Jeff again. I still can picture her scolding me for that and I truly believe that God was speaking to me through her. There is a lot that Jeff and I have in common, and a lot that we don’t. I cannot go into details here, but I know that he would appreciate your prayers for him too. I can’t tell you the situation, but God knows, and He cares. He loves Jeff, and again his mercy and His grace abound for those who wish it.

During the past year, my mother was hurt badly in a fall while she and my dad were visiting a friend in Boston. She has survived another hip replacement and is on the road to recovery. And this is after almost two years since we almost lost her because of her heart. Praise the Lord that I still have my Mommy!

And my Dad too. He was in a car accident about a year ago and broke a rib. He has definitely slowed down since then and it’s just hard seeing you parents getting old. In so many ways, I still depend on him for so much.

I am thankful for my job. I am the Senior ITS Coordinator at the main campus of Davenport University. Right after the first of the year, I will have been in this position for 13 years. I really love my job,. I have worked at other IT jobs before DU, but there is something about working in Academia that is different than just working in a typical commercial environment. Those who know me, know that I like to read and learn. Just being surrounded by those in an academic environment is personally stimulating. But most importantly, I like doing my part to support people who are trying to fulfill their dreams and goals, to begin a career that may lead them to an exciting life, or for older students trying to change their life.

I don’t teach—I don’t have that kind of patience! But I know that I do my part my supporting them, helping where I can, and by providing an environment where they can achieve their dreams.

But enough of the DU commercial.

There is so much more I could write, but it’s already so long that most people are probably not going to read it.

God’s blessings to you all.

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