I will begin with how I was raised. I was raised in a single parent home with very little religion. I went to church at times but it was mainly for fun with the other kids.  We were certainly not a religious family. My mother went through a period when she attended church often and had my sister, my older brother and myself baptized in a Baptist Church. I was 12 at the time. That was the last time I attended church for years. I began dating a boy when I was 15 and he 16. By age 17 I had a baby and was married (not by choice.) My life went downhill from there. Not too long after I had my first child I had another child, a son who passed away. I was absolutely devastated and blamed my husband for his death. I could not bear to be around my husband or even look at him. I left him shortly after that. I was raising my daughter alone. Still hurting so from the death of my son I turned to drinking. During this time I remember very little time in which I was sober. I was hanging out with the wrong people. One night after much drinking I had went to a friend's house. Late in the night her friend forced himself on me and raped me. As horrible as that was I am thankful for it. It was a wakeup call for me. If I had not been drinking I would not have been there or would have at least been able to possibly stop it if I was sober, not to mention what I was doing to my daughter. What a bad mother I was. I quit drinking and began to go to college shortly after that. I then tried to forgive my husband and we got back together but as much as I thought I was over my son's death our marriage just could not withstand it. My husband had numerous affairs and eventually asked for a divorce. Within this time we did have another son.

So I was single for many years raising my children. Working for my Microsoft certifications and raising two children the last thing I was thinking about was God. Then I met a man. We were friends for a year then started dating. He is Catholic but had not been in a church since a child. Shortly after we began dating his mother passed away. I went to the funeral. I was quite nervous because I knew she was Catholic and I knew a priest would be there. I had never seen a priest before and silly me was afraid he would see all my sins when he looked at me.

It was not like that at all. When I saw him I saw true compassion and love. I saw that he was with God and that God was with him. At that moment everything made sense. I cannot describe in words the feelings. I knew where my life had to go. I knew what I needed to do. I lived another state at the time. I called the parish here that conducted the mass for his mother to make an appt with the priest. I asked if my kids could be baptized which he was of course thrilled to do. I began to drive the 2.5 hours each week to attend mass. After experiencing mass for a month I asked my priest if I was allowed to convert. He was so thrilled he threw up his arms and hugged me. For months longer I continued my drive each weekend to attend mass. One day on faith alone I quit my high paying job and moved the 2.5 hours to another state to be near the parish, which I now considered home. No job and no place to live. God provided me with everything. I am now a Computer Engineer, just bought my first house and married my now husband in June. I attend mass at least 5 times a week. My children are very involved. My daughter had her first communion in May. She is so devoted to Christ she even refused her first communion for fear of a small sin. True, she is being a little hard on herself but I was never so proud. My priest felt so bad he gave her absolution in front of everyone and she was able to receive communion. My son wants to be a priest. I just love that!!

Up until a few weeks ago I had still been struggling with the loss of my son. It was so hard to deal with daily. My priest and I were speaking about it one evening since I was having a tough time. He asked why I was being so hard on myself and didn't I trust Jesus. He said that my son knew me and loved me and knew that I loved him. With those words in my mind I went to bed in tears. I prayed to Jesus. I offered my son to Jesus that night and told Jesus that I did trust Him and thanked Him for His Mercy. I then found that answer that I had been longing for. I had to give my son a Catholic name. I renamed him after a Saint and also after my priest. His name is now Mark. I felt so much peace after that. The next day I was reading the Gospels. I opened it to Mark and immediately came across the scripture Mark 5:34 "Daughter your faith has healed you, go in peace and be free from your suffering." It is amazing how God speaks to us!!!

I am going to classes that will last for 5 years. It is training so that I can begin and be certified in my own ministry in the Catholic Church. My ministry will be grief counseling. The classes are wonderful. God has blessed me many times over, none of it I deserve. His mercy and love is beyond my comprehension.

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