So many people have asked me to write down some of the stories that I have shared with them; stories of the “pilgrimage” that we have been on. So as promised, here it goes. Please prayerfully enjoy!
I am writing this less than one week from our ‘one year’ anniversary of being ‘home-free’. We call it ‘home-free’ because we actually chose not to relocate our belongings into another rental home when the owners of the house we had been living in for 3 years decided they wanted to move back in. So we put our things in storage, and continued our life with very little interruption, other than securing an office where I could produce my 4 day a week ‘one-hour’ show.
Well the thing we didn’t know was that the Lord was going to ask us to step off the boat onto the water for ‘His purposes’ by making my job so profoundly different in scope from the time I was invited to work with this group 3 years before, that I realized that they really couldn’t support me anymore, unless I agreed to fit into a new job description; and because I was not performing the way the ‘new job description’ required. (I will include a future post with a story line that goes in a different direction here).
Our first night
We had returned the U-Haul, and set up camp in Skyline Park in Napa and were all lying down to fall asleep when James (15) said “it’s kind of weird to think we don’t have a nice home to go back to after this little camping trip.” We kind of chuckled, said our prayers then went to sleep. But it was an eloquent statement. Brief, but eloquent.
Prophets speak the truth of ‘heaven’s view’ of the Church, whether that view reflects a healthy vital church, or an anemic sickly one is not the prophet’s concern. Prophets speak the truth regardless of the prospects of the ‘word’ being accepted, or rejected.
The fact that I am writing this 360 days into this ‘kind of weird’ journey means a couple of things: 1.We haven’t killed each other 2. More seriously, Vickie and I are still together. I say this because you need to realize that choosing this path will force you to deal with every single issue in your relationship. There are very few more powerful crucibles. 3. Not only did we make it through that first novena (9 days) we have made it through each day by accessing the grace God makes available to each of us every day in the Eucharist. 4. There are three Carmelite nuns that have 100 acres North of Santa Barbara and they need your help. And finally: 5.There are dozens of stories of how God has brought us through trials small and large in this process.
I would like to share some of the stories with you, if you have time to step off your hamster wheel for just a moment.
First, you need to understand our ‘context’ before much makes sense. What is the purpose of this ‘pilgrims’ process’?
One word: holiness.
Now I am not saying we are now ‘holy’ and can go back to our regularly scheduled life of TV, music lessons, school, sports, bills, and all the other things you can think of that constitute a ‘normal life’. No, on the contrary, we have only just begun, and have a very long way to go!
And I am not saying that ‘regularly scheduled’ life is somehow ‘less than holy’. If anything what we have learned is simply a confirmation of what we already believed: Holiness is not an option for just a few ‘blessed souls’ who are somehow given a special heavenly light to make them glow and speak in slow motion and smile lovingly, etc. All of that is very good and a potential sign of holiness if it comes from an authentic heart. What I am saying is this: holiness is not an optional aspiration in Christianity; it’s not just for a few. We are all called to holiness. Oh yes, and you can’t get to heaven to spend eternity partying and avoid hell and eternal fire and separation from God and love and all that is good, unless you are holy.
The issue most people have with this is that they have met a lot of ‘holy-ish’ people. Holy-ish people put lots of energy into making themselves look and act holy so that others will be convinced that ‘if they look and act holy, then therefore they must in fact be holy’. The result is that you need to put more and more energy into the ‘cosmetic’ aspect of your holy-ish-ness. The result is the caricature of Tammy Fae Baker, for example. And most people who value authenticity would say something along the lines of ‘blechhh’.
Before I go on to today’s story I just want to say to those of you who have been supporting us along the way by allowing us to sleep in your guest rooms, or park in your driveway, or share a meal at your table, or give us a car when ours went away (yes it happened), we want to let you know that it truly has been YOU that our heavenly Father has used to show His tender love to us, and to help us understand what he wants of us. As I share these stories, know that even those of you who wish to remain anonymous will NEVER be anonymous in our hearts or in heaven! You will always be the ones to whom Jesus says: “Well done good and faithful servant, now enter into my kingdom…” I will write about you guys later.
So where’s the story Chris? Come on!
I will share a story but let me tell you of some needs we have. The number one need we have as a family is for your prayers. If you could just imagine yourself for a minute with your spouse and kids not having a place to call your own, and yet being blessed by the generosity of people who are able to offer a bed and a shower for a few nights, sometimes more. Add to that the usual challenges of family life and the relationship dynamics of five souls living together. Even the most loving of families would experience suffering. Though we have a small income from my Family Life retreats able to sustain us in the very basics, and I have interviewed for at least two full time positions each month, with countless resumes being sent out, still no jobs are available. I do see it as God’s will. Mysterious? Yes.
We have been blessed to offer humble encouragement to countless souls, and most recently have been blessed to begin our concert series having done three so far with more in the works. But our car needs a new water pump (@$300.00 job); we owe the storage facility rent ($620.00). Ever see the show ‘storage wars?’ We would not like to see our ‘stuff’ being auctioned off. And finally, we have some more serious concerns that are ticking away (@ $2500.00). If the Holy Spirit moves you, we would be moved too should you want to help us on a practical level.
The truth is, God has more than taken care of our needs in general, and these current more pressing financial needs are His way of continuing the purification process in us. The way I described it to my friend Michael John Poirier (http://prayerbreaks.org/) to whom I was speaking on the phone today (who by the way is another family in our same clan) is that we are being dried out like wood to the point where it will only take but a spark for God to ‘light us up’ for His purposes.
So first we need prayer. Second financial support, and third, if you have a car or RV to donate to our 501c3 (Divine Mercy Inc.) for either use (us), or sale for the ongoing expenses of the sisters property in the Santa Ynez Valley please let me know soon! You know the rule; if you haven’t used it in a year, you should give it away so someone else can use it. You can even make a monthly pledge here: http://sfcatholic.com/NLFM/. If I had a Starbucks coffee every other day instead of every day, it would add up to the lowest monthly pledge. Or if you want to make a ‘one time’ donation or a prayer pledge just email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
O.K. How is this for a story?
That “Andrew” guy!
One summer day in Napa while I was doing some production work for a demo radio show (that was ultimately not picked up), Vickie and the kids decided to eat dinner at Raley’s. You have to understand that we have been learning a lot about the psychological dynamics of ‘house-less-ness’ and have also recognized that there are hazards to eating comfort food the likes of which you would find at Taco Bell, etc. So we try to eat healthily; good produce, protein, etc.
Anyway, they find something very interesting tucked away in the dining area of the little Raley’s café; this guy was in the process of taking down his music and sound equipment, and he sees them coming and says ‘oh, do you guys want to hear some music?” Of course they say ‘sure’, and he proceeds to put on this show with a loop station, guitar, sax, vocals, etc. that was awesome! This guy named Andrew has as much energy as PG & E and he has it focused in the direction becoming the very best version of himself he can. I mean this guy was good! He had a talk afterwards with the family and mentioned “I knew I was going to meet a musical family today” and Vickie says “how did you know?” And he said “I’m kind of prophetic that way”. Of course the conversation deepened and widened at that point.
For another two hours.
And of course they were very late to pick me up so the angels helped me bat away the demons that were presenting all manner of imagined tragedy that explaining why they were missing. I had the feeling later that I was drawing fire away from them. But this experience was really good for my kids as if to say “Hey! All those music lessons and symphony rehearsals for the Napa Valley Youth Symphony are to help you develop your God given talent so you can be a light wherever you are placed in this world”.
This Andrew guy also proceeded to tell my boys countless words of encouragement like “you should wake up every day and ask yourself; what am I going to do to make myself a better man today”? it was really nice to have a mature, talented adult male encouraging them in virtue. Thankfully, even though my boys have an Xbox, they nonetheless have logged hours and hours practicing piano, violin, guitar, drums, and vocals. Earlier, when they were young, they had no choice, but now as they are teenagers, they see it as a gift; while their peers have invested their precious years developing video gaming skills, they have become musicians and their peers are sad, and a bit angry at their parents for not ‘forcing’ them to become ‘something’ other than a moog.
The truth is, more than anything, my kids can pray. And their relationship with Jesus is growing stronger and stronger every day. Meeting Andrew was a sign for my kids that the Holy Spirit used to say ‘you’re on the right track!’ You may have seen this Andrew guy yourself if you have watched Americas Got Talent. Say a prayer for our friend Andrew. He is a good man, and is truly locked in on God’s frequency. My friends I close today’s entry by giving you, our new found friend (as of last summer) Mr.Andrew Beal! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ey9Ao26kcA
(Next story: “the homeless guy and Archbishop Jose Gomez)