New beginnings, blessings and answered prayers 

(This story was originally published on December 31, 2016...)

December 31, 2016. It's New Year's Eve.  Many of you are probably thinking about the exciting plans you made for ringing in the New Year at midnight.  Not me...  

I don't need fireworks, loud music, or champagne to usher in 2017.  I have everything I need right here, at home...  It has been an extremely busy year and I'm cherishing the moments of heavenly peace!  

If you're going out tonight, my wish is for you to have a good time as you celebrate with friends or with those you love. My prayer is that 2016 ended the way you wanted it to and that 2017 will bring the fulfillment of unrealized hopes and dreams.  

For many people, not everything went the way they had hoped or expected in 2016.  Some of my friends have lost loved ones... parents, siblings or pets; some are struggling with illnesses or are grieving for their family members who are suffering.   

In spite of my own difficulties, I'd like to think that I have a servant's heart... helping those in need and in doing so, giving glory to God.  I've witnessed and been the recipient of the generosity and friendship of kindhearted friends and strangers.  I believe in paying it forward... accept the blessings, and be a blessing to others.  That's where true happiness lies, in my opinion.  

It's easy to think sometimes that "I need it just as much as (or more than) the next person". But we are meant to be a blessing to others. My friend Carolyn told me how she once gave her last $20 at church. Sometimes I give what I don't even have to give. Even though to the world it may seem impractical or irresponsible, God sees and is pleased.

It's not always about money. We can be a blessing by recognizing the needs of others, then fulfilling that need.  Jesus wants us to love one another.  And that love begins with friendship.   

My prayer today is that you will take YOUR prayers to God. One woman lamented to me that God doesn't listen to her prayers because of her past. "That's not true," I assured her. "He hears your prayers. He heard your prayers for me!"   

I told her of my own past "mistakes" (and sins).  And yet in spite of it all, God has blessed me immensely.  He has remained close to me.  There may have been times when He was silent.  But every single thing... the heartaches, the wrong choices, the random events of life... they all contribute to make me what I am today... which is grateful.  It's never too late to begin again, to banish the wounds and regrets; to start a new day with new purpose.  The past does not matter. Only what you do from this day forward.  

We have so many blessings that we take for granted. We may not find them gift wrapped, but they are there. Imagine those who don't have a warm bed, a roof over their heads, a car, a job, even a family. I start every day giving thanks to God for all my blessings, which I have, in spite of the challenges. Even the challenges are blessings! 

Earlier this year, I resigned myself to having to sell my beloved home.  However, I prayed that God would allow me to remain here one last summer.  I called the contractor.  He sent someone to paint and do some minor repairs, such as fixing a couple of the water-damaged ceilings. I found out that one of the water stains was not from the roof as I thought, but due to a cracked water pipe.  This led to a delay in my plans to put my house on the market, which allowed me to stay through the summer, through the fall, and now through the winter.  

I thank God for the cracked pipe.   

On November 30, I received a call from a friend at church.  "Are you still looking for a roommate?" she asked me.  She has a friend who is looking for a place to live.  I'd been on the lookout for a roommate for the last four years, and I'd given up hope. Long story short, I met her friend. She is a lovely woman, and she is now going to become my roommate!  And best of all, she is exactly what I was looking for!

I thank God for sending me a roommate.  

It snowed the week before Christmas. There wasn't much, but it mixed with sleet and freezing rain and it was a heavy, wet snow.  I grumbled to myself as I was out there, shoveling my six-car driveway.  Then I looked at the statue of the Assumption of Mary on my front lawn. So I changed my focus from grumbling to praying the Rosary.  I also prayed that God would allow me to see a cardinal. Not just see one, but to be able to take a picture.  After I was finished, I went inside, had lunch, then sat down at the computer.  I looked up and there, just outside the window, was a cardinal!  I grabbed my camera, but pictures never come out as well when you're taking them through the window.  He flew away. I went upstairs, and opened the window in my hall. Within just a couple minutes, there were FOUR cardinals and I was able to take dozens of wonderful photos.  

I think God for the birds in my yard, and for my neighbor who feeds them.  

God hears our prayers.  He gives us what we don't want.  He sends us what we need.  And once in a while, He will give us the little desires of our hearts.  


This New Year's Eve, I challenge everybody to name three things you're grateful for.  

I'm thankful for each one of my friends. For new beginnings, blessings, and answered prayers.  Happy New Year and God bless you!