Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Sunday Services



I got a phone call a few weeks ago and I had to listen twice to the voice mail message, I wasn't sure I heard the name right.  Oh I knew the name but I thought I was mistaken. 
It was someone I had never met. I've only seen him on TV and heard his name on local commercials.  It was Pastor Buddy Cremeans from the Northway Church in Clifton Park. Yes, I know of him and have wanted for two years to attend one of his services but didn’t have the nerve.  You see I was raised Catholic.

I went to Parochial school, received every sacrament possible (so far) and was taught Catholicism is the only way.  When Pastor Buddy called me I was excited.  How does he know my number?  Who told him I needed prayers?!! Does he know I've wanted to stop by and check out his church but I feel I'd be cheating on my own parish?
Well, I listened to his voice mail and returned his call.  I had no idea what the heck I would say other than to let him know I was stunned he dialed my number.  I had a lot of questions racing around in my mind, most especially who told him about me, who should I thank and exactly what did they tell him?  His phone call made such an impression.  He took the time to reach out to me to say hello and tell me I was making a difference and I was inspirational. Me!!!!!? Really?  It was hard to wrap my head around and digest.

I have Pastor Buddy's cell phone number, now that's not a number I thought I'd ever have. But then again whodathunk I'd be on texting terms with the SHEN varsity football coach, Brian Clawson or NYS Senator Kirsten Gillibrand???? There's something I need to keep grounded about, I need to keep in mind we are ALL just people, with various jobs.  Most of us were not born into our position, it develops with time and effort but we are human and come from families that are regular working class people. 
If I use myself as an example I understand it best.  I'm just me, Regina.  I grew up in Albany with a regular, although large, family with regular neighbors and classmates.  I'm going to guess Pastor Buddy did too.

So, he invited me to attend one of his Sunday services. Yes, you bet.  I have been wanting to. Matter of fact I really wanted to go two Christmases ago to the Times Union Center in downtown Albany when there was a huge crowd but I was afraid to.  Now I've been invited so I've got a legitimate reason to go!  I've never strayed from the Catholic Church even though I pick and choose what I believe from each sermon.  My mom was an organist for over 60 years and I shudder to see her gasp at the mere thought that I attended a non-denominational church and liked it. (I didn't tell her)...

The only other service I've attended recently (or ever really) was on Christmas Eve when Pat Hardy asked me to go with her.  I was planning to skip this past Christmas completely as everything was so raw and I wasn't sure I could spend the time out in a crowd.  She asked and knowing I wanted to spend as much time with Matt as possible I agreed.  We went to Grace North church in Halfmoon and I loved that service too. Uh yuy yuy... My mother wouldn't care for this if she knew.  I felt so guilty!!
Well, last Sunday I went to the 11:30 service after the pancake breakfast for Matt and Bailey. I got there in time to meet Pastor Buddy and his wife Debbie who were incredibly gracious and personable.  We had the opportunity to talk for a few minutes and I enjoyed his service very much.  The uplifting music and heartfelt singing was nothing like I'm used to.  I don't usually see a full set of drums, several electric guitars and multiple singers belting out praise for God in the manner I saw this past weekend.  Overwhelmed would be a good word for how I felt.  I stood there sobbing like child. As I sat in the front, the poor lead singer must have thought there was something wrong with me!  
All I could think of was "Chris would love this!"  I had to drag him to mass most times.  This he would have found inspirational.  I'm bringing Jeremy when he's home for spring break... If anything was non-traditional in my world, this was it.  Incredibly faithful though.

I still don't know who asked the Pastor to contact me.  I think it was more than one person because Pastor Buddy said people have been mentioning me to him.  Thank you for that, your prayers are amazing.  I know I have a tendency to re-tweet Joel Osteen’s messages on my Facebook and Twitter accounts and some of you were trying to get him to call me.  Well, guess what?

video
I heard from him!  Imagine???  I've been a closet Joel watcher on TV for a while now and working on being a faithful person and look at what happened! 

Hearing him say my name out loud was surreal.  He was talking straight to me.  I've seen him talk to 15,000 in his congregation and I've been singled out?  Unbelievable!  Now I don't know his history, I don't know how he grew up or if he was a regular kid like me but seeing him there sharing words of encouragement was pretty awesome.  I stood there with my mouth gaping open shaking.  I love his down to earth encouragement.  To change the channel when someone is bringing me down and that a flood is coming for me.  Yep.  The flood gates opened Sunday thanks to all of you and I'm so grateful.  Still can't believe it.
So, I told you the other day that I fell apart Sunday night.  Now you know why.  I had already had a really full weekend of events and then attended the Northway Church and received an incredible message.  My meltdown and river of tears to God were a mix of thanks, bewilderment, sadness and fear.  Sometimes I think I'm going to burst.  So many emotions start brewing and I feel a volcano is going to spew out the top of my head.  I feel like a pressure cooker and all I can do is lay down and let it ride.  Eventually it passes and I get a grip again.

I thank each one of you who said a prayer for me, for Chris and for my family.  For all of you who reached out on my behalf, you were heard and now I'm sharing what you accomplished.  Thank you Pastor Buddy for contacting me and Pastor Joel Osteen for helping me feel so special in the wake of such tragedy.  I bet my son Chris is getting a kick out of all this and that makes me joyful.  You should consider experiencing a service at Northway Church. It’s quite inspirational. I plan to attend again.

Thank you for reading.

30 comments:

  1. I was so disapointed I didnt get to meet you Sat. I was supposed to help at the breakfast and I got sick. So happy for the turnout, the money raised and to once again see the overwhelming support for your families. This post today just makes me want to shout, Thank God! I have family who attends Northway, Pastor Buddy has such a way with words, I know hes helped others through hard times and I am happy for you that he reached out. Your always in my prayers too, God just must have you on the minds and hearts of so many...I am sure Chris is making sure of that!

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  2. Regina,
    Your blog has become part of my morning ritual... Up at 5:00 get ready dressed for the gym read your blog and leave for the gym. Your thoughts and words are so inspriring. I know thanking you s maybe not the right thing .. but I want you to know that you make a difference.. so yes Thank you !!

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  3. Holy cow. You really did have quite the weekend. I'm so happy you had such great experiences. I have been raised episcopal, so I know what you mean about reluctancy to go to a non-denominational, non-traditional church. I'm glad you did though! Fun fact: Pastor Buddy's daughter, Natalie, has the locker next to mine! She's really quite lovely just like her family. As a matter of fact, I've been to their house a few times for birthday parties. It's a small world. They really are great people though. I'm so glad Joel contacted you. Check that one off my list. (hehe)

    Like Joel said, God won't just bring you through, he'll bring you out stronger. I firmly believe that. Sometimes, it's easy to forget and sometimes, yeah you really do have to take it minute by minute, trusting that He will bring you out of that tiny little stretch of time, but so far, he always has. That gives me hope.

    Not only do you have people in Houston that love you, you have so much love here too. Keep moving forward. You're doing great.

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  4. Regina,
    How wonderful! I understand completely how you feel. It is so overwhelming when you know so many people you don't even know are out there supporting you. I have experienced this myself just recently and I had such a meltdown. I had to take a day off from work. My friends didn't understand why I was so upset. Why I was finding it so difficult to deal with. I was simply trying to explain to them that I was not use to people coming up to me that I didn't know simply wanting to tell me what I had done was so wonderful. I appreciated all these people and at the time it was so so sweet. I met the nicest people, and like you, I have met some wonderful new friends, but it was extremely overwhelming and it got to a boiling point where I just couldn't control my emotions anylonger. My situation is somewhat different than yours, but I do understand how you are feeling and how your emotions can take over at times and this is probably why I circled you several times at the Shen/Shaker game the other night as people were cornering you. I guess I started putting myself in your shoes and decided against introducing myself at that time. Then I woke up and read your blog and felt awful. I merely was reliving how I felt recently. I WILL be introducing myself the next opportunity and I look forward to it. I am so glad to see you smiling. I have only tweeted a couple of times and still don't really know what in the world I am doing, but I am so glad Joel Olsteen contacted you. God is good my friend. Chris is your angel and is taking good care of his mommy. <3

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  5. God Bless you...you are amazing! How you are handling everything is an inspiration to all of us. You have helped so many. God and Chris is helping you along to do wonderful things! Thank you and remember there is no correct way to handle all of this, you do the best you can, and from what we see, you are inspiring.

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  6. I am so happy that you got to meet Pastor Buddy and heard from Pastor Joel. That is amazing. You deserve all the best. As I said before you inspire me and I am going to keep everything that you have mentioned in your blogs to help me through what I am going to be going through one of the biggest fights of my life. I am going to be fighting my ex in court for his failure to pay his support and for wanting to evict my children and myself from the childrens home. Because of you I got the courage to get a lawyer and filed for failure to pay support. I just want to Thank You and God bless you.

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    1. Evelyn,

      Keeping you and your children in my prayers. I hope every thing works out in your favor.

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  7. Regina,
    I know how you feel about "cheating" on your Catholic Church. I am also Catholic and have been to a few non catholic services. The music and words to the songs really lift me up and I love to listen to what the pastor has to say. I feel that going to a different church now and then keeps me growing in my faith. It has actually helped me to grow stronger in my catholic faith. I hope you don't feel guilty anymore and embrace the wonderful message that you received and let it grow in you. God is where you are and He is loves that you go to mass or a service and worship and praise. I'm sure Chris is proud that you stepped out of your comfort zone and did something you previously were afraid to do. Have a great day.

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  8. By any chance was this close up picture of you taken after Sunday services? I just think you're glowing in it. I'm so happy for you that you experienced divine inspiration and met these two leaders that you have been following. I believe that God wants fellowship and a deep relationship with each of us. Wherever you find that is ok. Of course, I was raised Methodist so I am unfamiliar with the Catholic guilt element, but I truly believe God just wants you to know and feel his loving arms. The fact Buddy and Joel reached out to you is just another great example of the impact this blog is having on the world. And it shows us all that while we would rather none of this had ever happened, Chris did not pass in vain. A 17 year old can change the world. Have a great day! Thank you for sharing.

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  9. Hi Regina,
    Wow!! God is good and so are his people no matter what the denomination. God is so much bigger than our man made denominations. It doesn't matter where you go to church as long as the redemptive work of Jesus Christ is being done through his delicate balance of grace and truth. There are many great churches in the capital region that are still teaching his truth and displaying his grace.

    Northway Church is close to my heart. It was right around the corner from my house in Clifton Park. I have been non-denominational for over a decade now. When we moved back to NY I visited several churches in the area, but when I first attended Northway...I was blown away!! I felt so alive and left radiant with hope. The music is incredible. I am a singer, so I love extraordinary music. I love to be lead by Claire, with her incredible God given talent. Worship at Northway is like a glimpse of what it will be like in heaven. I never met Pastor Buddy personally but God worked through his messages to change me. I must speak highly of Debbie Cremeans, too. She is one of the most incredible women of God in the area! She led my first women's group. My Dad had just been diagnosed with the terminal lung cancer. Debbie walked me through it!! I would email her often, thinking she would never have time to answer me. You know what- she answered my email each and every time. You have been connected with one of the most amazing families and you have put joy in my heart this morning. Guess what...now I really really want to come home to the CP!!
    May God continue to bless you on this journey! He is doing his work through you! Especially, working through the hearts of the teenagers and young adults in the 518!!!!
    Rachael

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  10. Regina, Although we have never met and I never had the pleasure to meet your son or your family I read your blog religiously. Every morning with my coffee I read and it brings me peace. After reading this post I sat with my mouth to the floor because I felt like I could have written the part about cheating on your church. You see I too decided to try out Northway Church and I am a Greek Orthodox Christian which is close to catholosism. I felt horrible "cheating" on my church and the traditions and cultures that I was stepping away from. As soon as my daughters and I stepped into the Clifton Park Northway church I got goosebumps. The people were welcoming and the music was amazing. I never in my life had ever had that experience. The girls went to the daycare they provided and although I had reservations because I didn't know these people something told me to trust and let them have fun. I attended the services and I too started to cry. I know this sounds crazy but for the first time in my entire life I felt a relationship with God, I felt his presence and I truly felt like family. The people at Northway Church are so inspirational and Pastor Buddy and Debbie are amazing and the girls had a great time! I am so happy to hear that you went and had that experience! This is exactly what you needed and as your sister of God I will continue to pray for you and your family. Thank you again for your daily blog!

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  11. Good morning Regina: You falling apart on Sunday makes SO MUCH sense now. After the basketball game; meeting new people; witnessing the community coming out in droves again both Saturday and Sunday; and then the visit to Northway Church as a result of an official invite, not to mention what you experienced of course you fell apart! (that was a long sentence!) Yet you still seem surprised that people reach out to you!!

    That is a genuiness in you that I admire. Just like your plight to us to remember Chris was a normal teen. The honesty in your words when you share such deep emotional times, is so genuine Regina, and that is why people *like me* want to reach back and just help! That’s all anyone seems to want to do right now is help. You put yourself out there, which was a risky and BRAVE thing to do so early on, and now it’s just empowering. By you being open to accept help, if only in the mere form of verbal reaching out, you not only help so many understand so many different things, but you are receiving amazing gifts as well. I’m not talking material gifts, I’m talking gifts that will stay with you forever. Each day that goes by is so filled with the presence of God. Anyone that cannot see that… isn’t open to see it.

    Back to the topic of church … Being raised a devout Catholic and receiving every sacrament (so far), by a father who was set out to be a priest when he was in his late teens and having a Great Uncle who is a Priest and an Aunt at the time who was a nun, I know the inner struggles veering from the only way of worship that I knew! “If anything was non-traditional in my world, this was it. Incredibly faithful though.” My father was very verbal about his thoughts on me attending Grace Fellowship with Ally, but I told him GOD is GOD… Where we worship shouldn’t matter, as long as we do! What started as me going with Ally, ended up with me, Ally, her friend, her friend’s sister and father and then 2 other girls from our neighborhood going every Sunday. I felt pretty moved, and apparently moved enough people by telling them about my experience at Grace Fellowship. Like you said “the uplifting music and heartfelt singing was nothing like I'm used to. I don't usually see a full set of drums, several electric guitars and multiple singers belting out praise for God in the manner I saw this past weekend.”

    When I walked into Grace Fellowship I was looking for something. I guess I was looking for direction that was lacking where I had been going for 11 years… I am a believer in taking what I like, and leaving the rest, but I wasn’t getting the inspiration I once had, and that bothered more than anyone will ever know. I wanted an experience that moved me, that made me a better person. I feel that going to church is continuing education for adults. If we are open, we learn, and for years I learned at my church, but things started changing and I felt very uncomfortable there. I wanted to go somewhere where no one knew me and I could be open, yet privately, to learn. Talk about being overwhelmed. I was one of those ones standing there sobbing! After going there a while, being a typical human, I wanted to mix the 2 churches to get the perfect fit… Still searching… If I could go back to my childhood church I would be happy, but even that, like everything changes and we need to search for what works for us, at any given time, I guess.

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    1. shocker, my reply was too long... so I will finish:

      I will end with something I have been looking into lately, that might be of help to you… I read this yesterday and thought of you and this new “journey” you are on…

      “Are our lives and all the events in it predetermined?”

      Yes! We all came to this planet to experience ourselves! There are ‘lessons’ we are here for to enrich our experience. It is up to us to be Conscious enough to recognize what our ‘lessons’ are AND with that comes the POWER to CHOOSE HOW WE LEARN THAT LESSON!! Our overall lessons are pre programmed, the way we LEARN them is not! This is why the power of positive thinking, and stating positive affirmations is so important. Example- If one of our lessons in this lifetime has to do with ‘lack’-a belief that we do not have enough’ , experiences of ‘lack’ will KEEP SHOWING UP UNTIL we recognize it and CHANGE our THINKING about it. If we BELIEVE we don’t have enough, then THAT will always be our experience. IF we stop focusing on ‘lack’, and start to affirm in our thinking, statements that affirm “There is enough to go around”, “I am taken care of effortlessly”, “ I always have what I need and more”, “There is no limit to what I can have in my life”. ..etc. Once you change your thinking, you will change your experience! AND you will have Mastered one of your lessons on this planet! Awesome, right?

      Gob bless friend… xoxo

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  12. Dear Regina,

    While it's OK to attend protestant services in Spirit of love and Ecumenism, Catholics are not supposed to attend in replacement of Sunday Mass. Our faith is that Our Lord fully present in the Eucharist

    I understand that many Catholics are not aware of this so I felt it important to post this

    There is information from the catechism #2180 and #2181
    http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/_P7O.HTM

    The love that your son exuded throughout his short life here on earth is a tribute to the wonderful upbringing you gave him and bears witness to the Sacraments he received through the Holy Catholic Church

    Dear Regina, In attending Eucharistic Adoration you will find the answers you need.

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  13. Regina,

    I too am from a larger (6 kids) catholic family. I went to parochial school k-8th grade. I even have a sister who is a nun!

    There is nothing worse than good Old fashion Catholic guilt...well...except for maybe Jewish guilt, "Ovay!"

    I think if we keep in mind that there is only ONE God then you can eliminate some of that guilt. I used to think my mother who does everything for her church, still attends mass daily as an 84 yr old would be upset if her kids wandered from the fold, I have heard her say. "I don't care where they go as long as they go somewhere to worship."

    I am sure if your mom was aware that you attended a non-denominational church, she would be ok because God is God. And she would think it is better than you not going anywhere.

    I attend St. Ambrose in Latham and our 5:30 mass on Sunday night dubbed the Life Teen Mass has a violin, piano, drums, sometimes sax and trumpet, at least 3 singers and they play non-traditional more up beat music to keep the teens interest. It definitely gives the place a different atmosphere with songs that require clapping sometimes and shouting replies or hand motions. It is not for everyone, my husband finds this out of his comfort zone...I like it!

    I am so happy that you have heard from Pastor Buddy Cremeans and Joel Osteen, I encourage you to go were you feel comfort and go where you can get closer to God and don't get caught up in the titles of religion, God can hear your prayers where ever you pray.

    Besides I can feel the excitement in your blog today, you sound up-beat and energizered and if the Northway church can do that for you that can not be a bad thing. Enjoy the journey and go where you feel comfortable and welcome. No guilt needed!!!

    God Bless, XO

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  14. Regina, Peace, is something all Gods people need. Wherever that is found all of Heaven rejoices and the World is just a little bit better place.

    My wife Jane & our kids grew up Catholic, and all I knew since the age of 15.

    But the day 3yrs ago in April my wife and I walked into Northway Church something, everything, changed. Everything for the good. I have only missed a couple of weekends in 3 yrs and cannot wait each week for weekend. Sometimes I laugh, sometimes the tears flow, as a person, a family and our marriage continue to grow. The people are great, & Pastor Buddy & Debbie Cremeans are people of Honor & Grace. Truly a place where all are welcome and Honor is celebrated.

    Thank you for sharing your story. For I know in my Heart your helping heal the Hearts of others through your story. Hope to get to introduce ourselves sometime at Church!

    All the Best. Paul Woolley.

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  15. Regina, Thank you for attending Northway Church. As part of Northway Church's worship team, it's always amazing to hear how we as a church can help to impact lives. Each week we prepare, we constantly remind ourselves that we are doing this not for ourselves but for everyone sitting in those seats that needs God or are far from God. Your story is an inspiration to many. Thank you so much, hope to see you soon. Take care and God bless.

    Sincerely, Mike Malatino

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  16. Pastor Buddy is a wonderful man! My brother and his family go to NC and my niece Gabby is in the music group. I get chills every time I go! (Which hasn't been for a while, as I'm in Albany without a vehicle for the time being!) We were all born and raised uber Catholic, too. Our parents might not always understand, but I'm pretty sure God doesn't mind. ;) Glad you had such a special Sunday! P.S. It's ok to be exhausted. Normal is a dryer setting. :)

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  17. Hi Regina!
    Check you out sister friend....God is Good. I'm happy to hear through prayer and His Word things are coming together for you and connecting you with such brilliant people. Hoping one day we will connect. Still pray each day and think daily about you.
    Peace be with you

    Xo Lela

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  18. Hi Regina,

    Truly many blessings are being bestowed on you.. And so well deserved. As they say.. "You reap what you sow" .
    I'm so happy that you are finding that inner peace ... If you can find that .. We can find it as well.
    Today's blog gave me a lot to think about all day.. I've also been raised Catholic.. Went to parochial school in my elementary years .. And have always had a deep connection with God. It's not something that I discuss often or even practice as of late. I have a small extended family and my only uncle is a Catholic priest. I love going to his sermons but his church is a few hours away. Once several years ago I'd gone to Grace Chapel and found it very comforting as well. But.. The old Catholic guilt got to me also and I never returned. After reading the blog today and all of the responses.. You are all so right.. It's better to worship somewhere rather than nowhere..
    I really love how everyone helps each other out in this blog.. It's a very supportive place to come to..
    We get to hear all about Regina ad Chris.. Celebrate and honor his life and learn from it. We want to better ourselves because of it.. We've learned to cherish the here and now.... and on top of that.. we've developed a friendship with Regina and each other.. It's a win win situation for everyone. Thank you Regina!!
    Xoxo

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  19. Regina ~ this is so awesome! God Is SO good and so real and involved (wants to be involved) in our daily lives)! I love your blog anyway, but this one cracks me up because of how God answers prayer. I'm more Impressed wIth how you were touched by the servIce and thankful you were able to experIence It. I didn't grow up Catholic (Protestant) and when I was in Junior High my parents were invited to a non-denominational church. We loved it and 30 years later we are still non-denominational. Gasp! The heresay!! LOL. We shook up our whole family and now that my husband and I moved here (he's from here) we tend to shake up the Catholic family - but it's all good! I just know Chris is cracking up too!

    I'm just truly blessed to hear how you continue be encouraged by this awesome community and the Lord ;) Thank you for being so real and transparent and allowing us to share your journey.

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  20. Regina,
    I am also a Catholic. I too, attended Parochial school from grades K-12. My Mom was at Mass every Sunday until the day she passed. I was brought up to do the same.
    About three years ago, we were going through some difficult times at home and decided to check out what Northway Church was all about. My daughter was a teen at the time and she attended with me, along with my sister. Wow! It was definitely different than Catholic Mass for sure. But the thing that was the same....we were all there to WORSHIP GOD!!! And isn't that what it's all about? My daughter, sister and I really loved it. The music was SO uplifting....it moved me to tears. I left there inspired, really feeling something that I've never felt before. Of course, I went home and called my Mom to share our experience with her. Although she was just fine continuing her weekly ritual of attending Catholic Mass (which was perfectly fine for her), she was accepting and happy that we got something out of attending Pastor Buddy's services. She didn't lay on any kind of a guilt trip. She supported our choice :)
    I am so happy that you have attended Northway Church and enjoyed your experience there too. They are a great group of people who reach out and provide so many wonderful services for our community and beyond....and you can bet that God feels your love for Him whether you are worshiping in Northway Church or in a Catholic Church. Peace be with you...((HUGS))

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  21. Wow.. Regina - You were my sign today from my mother !! - I do read your blog everyday; I have posted an occasional comment, but mostly just keep the smiles amd familiar thoughts to myself. But today I just cant. I lost my mother 3 years ago on 2/23, I lost my father 4 years ago 2/21. They were not married to each other, and haddent been for 20+ years but were friends. (so were their spouses) I was so sad when my Dad passed, but the following year when my mother passed I was devastated to say the least, my mom was not just my mom, she was my best friend. I think about her everyday and thank god that we had such an amazing relationship. So, back to Joel – My mom loved Joel and watched him every Sunday. She would forward me (email) his “daily blessings” when she through I needed them. I was fortunate to be able to say goodbye to her. I sat next to her in my childhood house in long Island with my step father and brother and took care of her. Everyday she would ask me to “read her a little Joel” so that’s what I did. I read parts of Joel’s books to her daily. She was even cremated with the book (as her request, along with many others requests, the woman just about planed her own services- She was amazing). Last year Joel was at the Times Union Center, and I believe for Valentines day, my husband got me tickets. He knew how hard Feb. is for me and figured a little Joel Olsten can make anyone feel better. - So, today being Valentines Day, and almost the anniversary of her death, I asked her for a sign. I do get signs from her often and they are pretty obvious. – Well Regina, you are my sign!!! As I’m sitting at my desk at work reading your blog, my heart skipped a beat as I read your passage about Joel – Almost like someone was tapping me on my shoulder saying “pay attention”… Thank You Thank You !!!! – Happy Valentines’ Day to you and Bailey

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  22. Dear Regina ,

    Ever since the tragedy that befell your family, I have kept you in my prayers. It wasn't until yesterday that I learned of your blog. I know several families who have lost children through illness or accident. While we do not know each other, I wanted to express my heartfelt and sincere condolences.

    In 1st grade, my teacher brought a statue into our classroom, be raffled off. It was a replica of Michelangelo's Pieta. Even at the tender age of 7, my heart was immediately drawn to Mary's as she lovingly cradled the body of her Son. As a child, I imagined the pain my own mother would feel and embraced her that much more, when I returned home. The chances were only a penny and my father gave me $1! The odds had to be in my favor. To my great dismay, another child, who purchased only 1 chance, won the statue. But that image never left me. Later in life, I was fortunate to visit the Vatican and see the original.

    When I learned of your loss, it was the image of the Pieta that immediately came to mind. Mary who once bathed the baby Jesus now holds his lifeless body in her arms. "And thy own soul a sword shall pierce." (Lk 2:34) The hands that were now pierced with nails were the same baby hands that Mary had once held tightly in her own. The head that now held a crown of thorns was the same head that had napped on her shoulder. The feet that took their final journey were the same feet that took their first steps in front of her. Mary was witness to all the wondrous miracles that God gives to mothers – but, she was also witness to the agony of watching her child die.

    Who better to understand what you have endured than our Blessed Mother. On Good Friday, as we stand at the foot of the cross with Mary, I will entrust my prayers for you to her. May the arms that embraced our Lord surround you with comfort. As St. Maximilian Kolbe wrote: “Never be afraid of loving the Blessed Virgin too much. You can never love her more than Jesus did.”

    A Catholic mother and friend.

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  23. Regina,

    Born and raised Catholic...13 years of Catholic school, I know all about Catholic guilt! I have thought about attending Northway Church for several years and I've watched their show on tv several times. We were first introduced to their church through hockey! My third son was introduced to Northway Chruch by his best hockey buddy's family. They'd played on the same team together for several years and spent a lot of time together on weekends. Brian's family had become members of Northway Church and when Jeffrey was with them he'd go to church with them. He loved Pastor Buddy and tried his darndest to get us to switch. I was adamant that we were remaining Catholic until every one had been confirmed. Once they were confirmed they could chose to be whatever denomination they wanted. Well that happened in November 2011 and I still keep thinking about changing to Northway but it's that ingrained Catholic guilt that holds me back. One of my aunt's was even a nun! I know I need to get over it but I can still hear the nuns talking about the black marks on my soul...LOL!

    I am so happy for you that both Pastor Buddy and Joel have reached out to you. I hope they are able to help you with your path to healing. On facebook I am a fan of the Joel Osteen page and I love the inspirational quotes that pop up daily!

    It is no wonder you were overwhelmed emotionally this weekend. Thank you for sharing.

    Hugs and peace.

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    1. Dear Denise,

      The Catholic Church does not give guilt , it cures guilt through the Sacrament of reconciliation that is from Christ.

      I grew up Catholic and was in a protestant Church for over 18 years before converting back to Catholicism. My protestant years was the greatest error in my life because I had not bothered to realize that Christ is completely present in the MASS - Body , Blood Soul and Divinity in The Eucharist.

      I began to study Christian history and was amazed that every single Early Church Father(some who were even direct Disciples of the Apostles themselves, like Saint Ignatius of Antioch) believed in The Full Presence Of Christ in The Eucharist. They all believed this, every single one of them!

      It wasn't until over 1500 years later during the reformation that this was doubted-which should make anyone realize the error of the reformation .

      There have been so many Eucharistic miracles, Denise

      Take a look for yourself
      Eucharistic Miracles Of The World

      http://www.therealpresence.org/eucharst/mir/a3.html

      Catholics who leave the Catholic Church leave Christ in the Eucharist

      Many leave out of being ignorant of historical Christianity and are drawn in by modernity to be part of a self serving feel good production of Christian worship. Christianity is self giving ,not self serving ,dear sister.


      I wish you a Blessed day.



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  24. Religion is something I struggle with. I was brought up in Catholic faith and I don't always agree with everything they preach.

    thoughts and prayers for you. what a wonderful weekend!

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  25. Regina,

    I know I am a little late to reading this, but I just stumbled across it on Google. This world is so small... I graduated from Shen in 2011 and spent almost every year from Middle School on participating in Ski Club. When I first heard about what happened to a young man named Chris Stewart, I thought...wait, that name sounds familiar and then I thought back to my years of Ski Club and remembered I used to have a friend I would ski with named Jeremy Stewart; I wondered if there could possibly be a relation and felt heart broken immediately. After reading this blog post, now I know there is a relation between Chris and Jeremy. I wracked my brain trying to remember Jeremy's phone number and looked all over facebook for him but unfortunately time erased any connections I had. I so desperately wanted to send my prayers and love to Jeremy and your family...even though we don't talk anymore.

    Next in this small world... Thank you so much for taking the courage to attend Northway Church! I am one of the singers on the Worship Team and I also used to be a Catholic just like you! I was brought up in the Catholic church until I was about 9 when I started attending Northway. One of the best decisions I have ever made. I have grown here more than I have anywhere else and have learned so much about being a true follower of Jesus and what it really means to love people.

    Please come back and see us soon and come say hi to me! I would just love meeting you and seeing Jeremy!

    Blessings in Christ,
    Carlie Murray

    www.twitter.com/CarlieMurray
    http://www.salvationbyfaith.blogspot.com

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