Jul 24

Father Differences

A Christian songwriter shared in an interview his “all about me” bubble burst when he married his wife. And he was glad. When they had children, it was more evident that real life is about everyone else.

He also said that being a father has given him a glimpse of how God as Father takes care of us. The songwriter gains great pleasure to care for his children’s every need, just like God for His children.

My next thought was, “Yes, good analogy. But that’s where the similarity ends.”

Besides the contrast of God being perfect and humans imperfect, human parents are dramatically more different from God the Father in other ways. For one, people raise their children to become less needy, even independent and self sufficient.

But Our Father who created us desires us to remain like little children not only in purity of mind and soul. Forever He wants us to go to Him for every need. His greatest pleasure is to love us and be loved by us. Perfect love that provides and protects will never allow our separation from Him because we have little need of Him in our ‘grown up’ state.

I’m grateful for His unconditional Fatherhood. How about you?

3 silly sisters who grew up to be lovely, independent women. We are proud of who they are.

3 silly sisters who grew up to be lovely, independent women. We are proud of who they are.

 

To leave your comment, please click on the name of this post. It will take you to the comment page. Thank you!

 

Jul 20

Whose trip of a lifetime?

What steps do you take to reach a big decision? Please share in the comments. If you don’t mind, I’m going to ramble on about a huge decision I must make. I guess we could call this live journaling. You might be able to sway me with your insights…

My current dilemma is whether or not to go on a trip to Palestine and Israel this Fall. Expensive, I know. But cost is not the point of my quandary because I was given free passage. It will cost me a tip to the (Palestinian Christian) tour bus driver and a few lunches. You might be thinking, “Well, that’s a no-brainer. Go!”

All through my younger adult life I wanted to see the entire world. I’m now on the older side of adult life and have seen little of the world. My go-to list is dramatically shorter. In fact, the last 10 years or so, my complete list to visit is:

  • All 50 U.S. States
  • Italy – all of it
  • Ireland (while in Ireland, I’d be happy to tack on Scotland, Wales and England if it can work into the timing)

To say I’m excited to have a plan in the works for my first trip to Italy in June 2015, is a gross understatement. Possibly I’ll be able to enjoy a month in Avila, Spain, directly from Italy. Spain is not on my list, of course, but since I will have already paid my airfare, if I can afford the college course offered, I will love it, I’m sure.

The Holy Land trip popped up after the Italy plans were underway. I needed to reply quickly to the free passage offer. My family and friends found it hard to believe I said I’d think about it overnight.

Every person I talked to said, in one way or another, I’d be a fool not to go. After all, I’m a Christian. Why wouldn’t I want to walk the land where Jesus walked, renew my wedding vows at Cana where he turned water into wine, and step into the sea where he was baptized? Besides that, my soon-to-be-released book, Who is Jesus? Eyewitnesses Tell their Stories, is set in that region. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see for myself what I’ve researched the last four years? And didn’t I spend every weekend of the last three years spreading word of the plight of Palestinian Christians to Catholic Churches in the United States? Wouldn’t I want to meet more of the people I represented?

I caved and said, yes. Everyone smiled. Except me.

The dilemma is not because of the recently renewed violence in the Mid East. It is because during these last four to six weeks since acceptance of the gift, I have waved back and forth on the idea. Most often my thoughts are, “I haven’t actually ever really wanted to go there in the first place.” If I’m more honest with myself, I might see that my hesitation is related to being an introvert. Or maybe it’s not that I’m such an introvert, but more that I’m a homebody. I like to leave home occasionally to do things with friends. But I’d often just as soon stay home. I don’t desire a lot of alone time, as much as home time. In fact, I love to open my home to all kinds of folks. If this adds to my inability to settle on this, so be it.

From the standpoint of seeing some of the world that may or may not have been on my travel list decades ago, it makes sense. What fun it would be to see those stamps on my passport. But, honestly, that doesn’t matter to me anymore.

People have told me the trip is life-changing. That when you step off the plane, your spirit senses that you are in a place of holy beginnings. That you feel Jesus in an unimaginable way. I’m sure it can be just that.

But the reality is, I don’t need to go there to “feel” Jesus. Whenever I choose, I can close my eyes, breathe deeply, and enter into His presence in the innermost room of my soul. I can be in my prayer room, on a mountain path or by a lake, at Adoration or receiving His Body and Blood in the Eucharist. I enter into Him; nothing can be more real than that.

I’m in Colorado now as I write. I’ve never been depressed while here but since I arrived three days ago, the dark night has taken me down. I know I am supposed to be living here by now and I am pretty darned certain I never will. Both realities are part of that “knowing” thing. Many people don’t understand what I’m talking about. That’s okay. For the first time ever, each time I looked at the Rockies since Thursday, I cried tears not just of longing, but also those of real grief.

I’m relieved now that at this time, I am no longer in the throes of depression. I’m sad, but not overwhelmed with darkness. I went to mass at ‘my’ church, 18 miles from where I’m staying. The ride is north along the Front Range. It was a painful trip. I began to remember His message to me, “I am your mountain.” The words repeated over and over all the way through mass, and into the drive home. And as I gazed at the mountains (glanced, actually, I was driving), and repeated His words, the pit opened and I was lifted out.

I don’t need to live in my Rockies, in order to be where I am supposed to be. I am where I belong every moment, because I am with Him and He is with me, and that’s all that matters. And I don’t need to visit the Holy Land to know Jesus better or even to know the region better to fulfill my vocation to write.

I still don’t have an answer regarding the trip. But I am keeping in mind a rule of thumb I’ve learned when making key decisions:

When in doubt, wait. When in doubt, do nothing.

That platitude has kept me out of all kinds of danger – physical, spiritual, financial – more times than I remember. I will apply the rule now.

August 6 will be three months before the flight leaves U.S. soil. If I don’t have perfect peace by then I still may not know why. That answer is not for me to know. But if that lack of peace continues, I will give up my seat so that someone on the waiting list has time to prepare for their trip of a lifetime.

In the meantime, I would appreciate your thoughts. God bless.

If you would like to leave a comment, please click on the actual name of this post. You will be taken to the comments page. Thank you!!

 

An olivewood carving by a Palestinian Catholic

An olivewood carving by a Palestinian Catholic

 

Jul 09

He is My Mountain

If anyone knows me, they are aware of how I’ve longed to live in the Rockies of Northern Colorado for more than four years. In fact, I am convinced that it is where I am supposed to live. I am as sure of that as I was to marry my husband, to enter the Catholic Church, to adopt little orphan girls from China. I knew those things as much as I knew that I was born to Richard and Elaine Foster.

A snapshot of us in Our Rockies.

A snapshot of us in Our Rockies.

It is now apparent we will not be moving to Colorado anytime soon. It has been a very sorrowful time for me as I face this reality. It is the same sorrow I have known since the adoptions could not happen.

I also know that I am a writer and have much good to share with the world. In addition, I know that building a profitable distributorship with Shaklee Corporation is meant to be our/my financial foundation.

I have allowed much of life to interrupt being a writer and distributor – like the birth and death of our Hard Bean Café and the care for and unexpected death of my two sweet parents in 2013, to name two of many. Sometimes I try to convince myself that I could never be expected to ‘do everything.’ It’s how I try to pacify my guilt over interrupting the flow of the call on my life. But in the end, every reason is an excuse. Some excuses are relatively valid but all excuses obstruct. If I truly believed what I am called to do and be, I would find a way.

So, I come to 2014. Soon I will hit 64. How much time do I really have left to accomplish what I believe in and that will make a lasting mark in the world around me? How much time is there to move to Colorado and actually enjoy some strong and healthy years in the mountains that I love? Sure, I feel great today but absolutely no one knows the hour or the day when we will be called home. I feel like my time is running out and that I have not been a good and faithful servant.

On March 1st, I participated in a Re-treat called Your Story Matters. It was a sweet morning highlighted with guided meditation by my friend Lyn Morse Brown. She read Mark 8:22 about one of the many blind men Jesus healed. After the reading, she guided us through a series of thoughtful questions intended to help us relate to being in the place of that particular blind man. Jesus took our hand as the blind mand removed us from the bustling village, he placed his healing hands on us, and he asked what we wanted of him. Here is the picture I breathed during the meditation:

There were people I did not know, all around me, and there were many distractions to my (meditative) thoughts.

Then I felt Jesus take my hand securely in his and pull me gently toward him. I leaned into him and wrapped my arm through his as we began walking up a rocky way. I couldn’t see where we were or where we were headed. I didn’t stumble because he held onto me.

This happens to be a smoother part of the rocky path we took

This happens to be a smoother part of the rocky path we took

After climbing the rocky path, my eyes were opened, and I discovered us at that place in the Rockies where Ed, Annie and I had hiked a year or so ago an enormous clearing in the woods, a great hill that was wide open, green, and very steep and I saw the same lone bench we three had rested on.

Jesus and I sat on that same bench and looked out over the expanse of rolling mountains before us, easy to see because of the wide and open hill that held us.

An expansive view of some of His creation.

An expansive view of some of His creation.

I leaned against him as an inner sigh of contentment began to pervade my soul. I was so happy to be in that beautiful spot with him, a place I know and love. (In fact, I have often envisioned myself sitting on that very bench, while the muse takes my pen and weaves words that change lives.) I was thrilled, actually, to be there with him.

And I told him I needed to know his presence every moment and his direction and his assurance that I am fulfilling his desires for me.

And with a strong yet soothing voice he told me to be assured. That he has everything under control – everything – our move here (the Rockies) and my writing and my business – and not to be afraid. And I melted within. It was like my heart was overflowing with a warm, honey like substance – soft, sweet, warm. And I knew his safety.

He placed his hands on my head and said, “Know my presence.” And I had peace that looks like a glass-like lake high in the Rockies, pristine and crystal clear – like Lily Lake when it is quite still. And all was well.

IMG_2802

Lily Lake at RMNP

And I knew that Jesus is calling me to peace with him, to trust that I do know him, and to remember that he will keep me on his path. I do not have to worry or fret about staying on it.

And he said, “I am your path. I am your quiet place. I am your mountain.”

He is my path. He is my quiet place. He is my mountain and my cool, refreshing stream of life. And I see it. And I see him.

Thank you.

He is My Mountain: My Protection and Perfect Peace

He is My Mountain: My Protection and Perfect Peace

(When I wrote this piece, I was so happy to find pictures I had taken of those very same places in my meditation!)

 

I would be pleased to hear from you. If you click on the actual name of this post, it will take you to a comment block.  At that spot, you will also have the opportunity to follow my blog. Thank you!

 

Jun 29

I Met a Saint Named Juan

About 5 foot 7, graying blonde, with merry blue eyes and soft wrinkles mapped across a chubby face, and chunky around the middle, he wore a yellow collared knit shirt with a beautiful solid gold crucifix that poked out at the top.

“I used to be in prison ministries,” his accented voice continued our conversation. “Back when we could meet face to face with even the toughest criminals, with no guards around. They were the most rewarding years of my life.”

“I’ll bet,” I smiled in agreement, remembering the days when my husband and I ministered to those dying in a hospital for AIDS victims.

“I met pretty regularly with the same group of men. But one day I found myself with a group I had never seen before. We walked toward the outermost end of the courtyard. I heard murmuring and turned around to look at the unfamiliar faces.

“ ‘You know, we could kill you right here. It wouldn’t matter to us.’

“I looked squarely at them. ‘Yes, you can. You can kill me when I turn my back, like cowards. Or you can kill me face to face. Which do you want to do?’ I moved my hands to call them toward me.

“ ‘This guy’s crazy,’ they mumbled to each other.

“Maybe I’m crazy. But one thing I know is that if you do kill me right now, I will be immediately in the presence of God because I’m here to tell you about him.

“ ‘How do you know that?  What do you mean, tell us about him?’

“I don’t know a lot of things but I do know how your life can change for the better.

“ ‘Really? How?’ several asked.

“By coming to know him and living the way he tells you to live.  I am positive your life would be better.

“They looked at each other. ‘So, go ahead, tell us more.’’

I’m sure my eyes were ready to pop. “Really?”

“Absolutely.”

“So what happened next?” I asked.

“I told them everything I knew,” Juan replied simply.

“And, then?”

“And then we met again and again. And they were changed.”

My eyes brimmed, “Thank you for sharing that with me.”

“You’re welcome. What’s your name?”

“Cheryl.”

“I’ll pray for you.”

And I believe he will.

 

 

 

If you’d like to share a comment, I thank you. Just click on the actual name of this post and it will take you to the comment blocks.

 

To share your thoughts or comments, click on the ‘(numeral) comments’ link below and next to “posted by Cheryl Ann Wills.’ I would love to hear from you!

Jun 27

Enter the Lord’s Living Room; Moments of Peace

Some days I linger in the nave for over an hour after 6:15 AM mass. I pray the rosary, I read scripture, I lift my friends, family and strangers to the Lord, I journal. Sometimes I read a spiritually worthy work. Currently I am reading The Apostolic Letter MULIERIS DIGNITATEM
of the Supreme Pontiff
JOHN PAUL II
on the Dignity and Vocation of Women on the Occasion of the Marian Year. 
It happens to be one of the most enlightening and rewarding pieces my mind has ever consumed.

The banquet table has been cleared. And from time to time I raise my eyes to gaze at the Tabernacle where the resurrected body of my Lord is safe. It’s as though I am now spending time with him in his living room.

Our bond does not require speaking. We’re just together. The flame of the Holy Spirit in our midst warms my soul. The crackle of its fire adds more peace to an already tranquil moment in my life.

I bask in the solitude that is not solitude. It is, rather, the infilling of the Presence of God – ultimate peace.

 

IMG_2068

 

 

 

If you would like to share a comment, I would be pleased. When you click on the actual name of this post, it will take you to the comment blocks. Thank you!!

Jun 16

Journeys to Peace. . . .The Journey Home

I grew up in a suburb of Philadelphia. My family was Presbyterian and practiced Godly values. We were also very involved in our church. Every day of any given week some or all of us were there being busy in the life of the church. For each of us, this was by choice.

Even so, after high school I found a gazillion reasons not to go to church. The further I moved away from a regular connection to that life, the deeper I sank into the deception of the world. As I heard in a homily recently, if you live your faith fast and loose, someone will surely come along and kill it. And by age 28 I was knocking on death’s door with my worldly lifestyle.

My first true realization of God’s grace was at that time. Deep inside I desired life – not death. I knew where to turn because of how I was raised. I ran back to church, back to Jesus. I was renewed by God’s grace. I have since made a daily conscious effort to allow God to work through me and to change me, be it ever so slowly, into the image of His Son.

Not long after, I married. Ed is a man who loves God with all of his heart. It was another act of God’s unending grace. But much too long a story for this writing; perhaps another time.

Ed was Episcopalian. And so I began attending the Episcopal Church. After several years of attending the church of his choice, I came to love the liturgy and its history. The ancient prayers, the secure boundaries of the liturgy in worship spoke to my heart. And I chose to be confirmed in the Episcopal Church.

A short time after my confirmation, we moved our family from Virginia to Texas. And though we both loved the liturgy and sacraments, incredibly enough we became part of an independent Charismatic church. Even as I loved the little Texas church and its people, it was here that a tiny spot of emptiness and longing began to grow inside my heart.

Two years later we moved to the northwest corner of New Jersey, rural and mountainous. My husband was pastor of a small church in the woods. We lived in this idyllic setting for seven years.   While in this place we experienced, individually and as a couple, some of our greatest spiritual growth. And the most intense. Despite the beauty of our surroundings, the greater part of this growth was as though by fire.

Yet – though my relationship with our Lord grew closer and deeper than ever – that strange emptiness and longing continued to expand. And it was during this time in New Jersey that I became so disillusioned with what I thought to be Christ’s church, I very nearly walked away.

Now, the paths of life are never straight. And God uses every twist and turn to His glory and for our good, if we will allow Him. Again, no time for details. Suffice it to say that God’s grace was once more evident in my life when in 1993 our little church joined a new Protestant denomination which practiced a liturgical, sacramental and charismatic style of worship. I thanked God unceasingly. Because their foundational teaching was from the Apostolic Fathers, I discovered that what I had been considering leaving was what man had done to the church, not the church as God had established it.

That emptiness and longing that had begun years earlier was being filled and healed. And so began my journey to The Church which Peter began under the authority of Jesus the Messiah, The Holy One. By God’s grace my eyes were being opened to see what had been all along. I read The Church Fathers, other ancient authors and their contemporaries, listened to lectures in person and on tape, and spent endless hours of discussion with friends who were on the path with us.

Though this Protestant denomination was the catalyst for my journey, it began changing to be inconsistent with their early teachings. I began to see that they liked the Catholic look, but wanted no part of Catholic authority. It was about this time that we had moved to the Kansas City area.

As I studied The Faith and read the Catechism, I discovered two truths that were turning points for me.

First, I came to see how the Holy Spirit has truly protected the deposit of faith given to the apostles. The Church has kept pure that core of faith. Having grown up in denominations that either had a sandy foundation borne out of protest and rebellion or, worse, made up the rules as they went, I suddenly realized that I longed for stability. A church that preserves their central beliefs for 2000 years is a very solid foundation; a safe place for any believer – a safe place for me.

And through this study I came to the simple, and by now obvious, realization that the See of Peter was truly the authority given by God to rule His Church.

I knew I had no choice. If I honestly desired the fullness of life that God intends for each of His children, then I had to submit to the authority of The Catholic Church.

This was my heart. Yet I felt I could not go alone. I have a family. Another example of His grace in our midst: God brought us individually to the same point at nearly the same time. The choice was personal for every one; we each have our own story.

I must make a very important note here.   There are only two decisions I’ve made in my life that I can say this about: the peace that I knew in my heart at the point of each of those conscious decisions has continued to grow deeper the further I am from that point. Those two decisions were to marry my wonderful husband and to submit to the authority of The Catholic Church. It is a peace which truly passes all understanding.

Not long after our communion with The Church, we were asked to speak to a tenth grade confirmation class. These were my closing words, which can I can share with conviction to every believer in The Catholic Church:

“Learn your faith. Know it inside and out. If you ‘live your faith fast and loose’ you will meet those who will attempt to kill it. You may even kill it yourself. Guard and protect your faith. And live it. Your place in The Church is unique and planned. Continually seek the plan that God has for you here.

“Some of you are converts, like me. Some of you were baptized into the faith in infancy. For each of us, this church is an inestimable gift.

“For 2000 years God’s children have been given the privilege of taking refuge in His Church. Let the refuge be your peace. His children have been given the privilege and honor to receive His grace to carry on, through the Body and Blood of His Only Begotten Son. Let the knowledge of that honor permeate your soul.

“I nearly missed it. I am close to tears every time I receive our Lord. Tears of gratefulness that He brought me to this place. And tears of fear when I think of how close I was to missing it. Why? Because I was so busy sacrificing to build the church – a misguided Protestant direction.

“The Church is built and the Blood of the Martyrs have paved the way for its work. They have paved the way for us to be the Church. To be the hands, the feet, the heart of Jesus on the earth. To feed the hungry, clothe the poor, shelter the homeless, visit the prisoner, care for the widow and the orphan. And through the Sacraments, we will know the power of His grace to work through us to those ends.

“This journey has also taken me to, at last, finding the meaning of life, a quest of many years. God is Love and He is my Creator. I was created to love and to be loved. That is the meaning of life. Now I am in a place where I can grow in its revelation and make it my reality.

“Because of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, the Blood of the Martyrs, the work of the Holy Spirit, and the gift of the Sacraments, though my spiritual journey will continue, it will continue in that safe place which God has made for His children. In that place that is Christ’s One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

“I am home, at last, with you.”

 

 

 

I welcome comments on my blog. Just click on the actual name of the post, and it will take you to the comment block.Thanks!

Jun 15

Notes in the Night

 

Rare chance to be together - best family ever! Always my inspiration.

Rare chance to be together – best family ever! Always my inspiration.