In the first installment of my new Bold, Brave, Catholic series, I am going to share the words of an inspirational fellow Army wife. However, not every issue of this series will be written by a woman connected with the military. Instead, this particular series is choosing to highlight all Catholics who are living their Catholic Faith in normal, everyday situations, but in a Bold, Brave, Catholic manner. I invite you to join in on this series, which will have a new post during the last week of every month!
**Affiliate links may be included in these posts. By clicking and purchasing through an affiliate link, you will be allowing me to receive a slight compensation from Amazon.com, as sort of a finder’s fee. However, this compensation is at no charge to you, the reader!**
Today, am excited to introduce you to Mrs. Lynda MacFarland. Lynda was an Army wife for 33 years, and is currently the author of one published book. Lynda loves Jesus, and for that reason, she loves to write and speak on matters of faith. You can follow her blog at Drowning in Lemonade, where she offers encouragement to fulfill our Christian mission.
Lynda’s book, Drowning in Lemonade: Reflections of an Army Wife can be purchased directly from Amazon using this link:
And here, in Lynda’s own words, I present:
Finding Strength in Prayer and the Word
When I was a young college kid, I had never really thought very deeply about my Catholic faith. My siblings and I got all our Sacraments and we said grace before dinner with the family every night. But that was about it. There were a few sacramentals around the house, but we didn’t talk about God too much when I was younger. I was a shy kid who tried hard to blend in during class discussions so as to not get called upon. It was not that I didn’t know an answer; I was just so nervous about speaking in front of others.
My siblings and I knew more or less what was right and wrong because we learned about the 10 Commandments in CCD. I attended CCD until I made my Confirmation in 8th grade. The same was true for my siblings. My upbringing was not that unusual for the time in which I grew up, the 1960’s post-Vatican II era, when it seemed everyone was going a little ‘crazy.’ No one was talking very deeply about anything and so we sort of floated along on the surface of things. And, I was okay with the status quo until I started my college courses and met ‘born again’ or evangelical Christians who were so on fire for their newfound faith that they could talk of little else.
I was impressed by their enthusiasm for Jesus, a name I rarely heard or used outside of Mass on Sundays and other Holy Days of Obligation. These Christians were wholesome and talked about being “convicted” about their sins, which we would define as guilt. They talked about how, now that they were “saved” they didn’t hang out in bars or discos anymore. Yes, I’m a disco girl, I’m that old! And then the question would come, “Are you saved?” Now, I didn’t know what that meant initially.
Had I made Jesus my personal savior?
Had I asked forgiveness for my sins and was I going to leave my Catholic faith behind because who was the Pope anyway? And, why should anyone listen to some mere man?
Who was Mary and why did we worship her?
Now, these latter questions I knew in my bones were not a correct understanding of the faith in which I had been baptized and grown up. But I didn’t know back then how to respond. I actually started to ask myself, “Well, why IS the Pope so special?” and “What about Mary? She’s just a woman after all.” Due to my fear and timidity, I didn’t want any confrontation, or really any discussion, if I could avoid them.
I was on very shaky ground and I was in danger of falling down, for sure. I thank God and the prayers of my family (most especially, those of my grandmother) for ensuring that while I may have wavered at times, I did not leave the Church. My maternal grandmother, my abuelita, was a woman of great faith who talked about God to us when we saw her, though that was not often enough when I was growing up. And she was the one who stopped everything at 3 p.m. to go pray in her room, even if there was a houseful of people there for a party.
We all knew that Grandma would be heading to her room for prayers and we all accepted it. But none of us joined her. None of us kids, anyway. Sometimes the adult women, her daughters, would join her. But none of the younger generation. I know I had no idea what she was doing in there, what she was praying about or for whom. I now know that, among other things, her prayers were for each and every one of her children and their spouses and then their kids, too. She probably prayed a lot for her own husband, too, my grandfather, who had his issues for sure. But that’s for another blog entry!
Slowly, I began to ‘fight back,’ against the false impressions of my Christian friends, and began to arm myself for the confrontations I would have with others who were so quick to pity my Papist faith and misguided ways. I wasn’t ‘really’ a Christian in their eyes.
I started to stand up to that accusation. I read… and I asked questions… and I prayed… a lot.
One born again Christian I befriended was especially instructive in his knowledge of the Jewish faith which helped me to appreciate our salvation history more, though I didn’t know to call it that for many years.
One of the things I learned had to do with the gifts of the Holy Spirit. I know I should have learned about those in my Confirmation prep classes, and I’m sure my teacher talked about them. But I didn’t recall a thing, sad to say. I learned that I could pray to the Holy Spirit for these gifts. What a concept! And, as a timid, even fearful teenager (I was 19), I wanted more than anything the gift of wisdom. Just like Solomon! I prayed for it every night with my evening prayers. “Lord, give me wisdom – to know Your will and be my strength so that I may act out Your will.” That was pretty much it. I prayed that for decades, and still do from time to time. For years it was a daily prayer, and I know that God has provided… too many times to count or relate here. But, I am living proof that when you ask God for something good, He delivers!
The other thing I asked for, that is just as important, is that God would “teach me what to say.” One of the things my evangelical friends taught me was love of Holy Scripture. I began to read my Bible. For me, that was a scary activity! It sounds so silly now, but back then, the thought of reading the Word terrified me. I knew we read from the Bible at Mass, but we didn’t really read from it at home. Ever. I saw it; I had one of my own, but it was then for the first time, that I began to pick it up. And, I began to read.
As I had asked for wisdom, most often I found it right in the pages of the Book. Surprising to no one, I know. I think I was afraid because I knew it was going to change me. My life would never be the same. That is now a fact that I am forever grateful for, but back then, it was strange and made me fearful.
I am thankful to the people who were praying for me back then. Both my family who didn’t know where my journey was taking me and those Christian friends who thought they were leading me away from Catholicism to the promised land of fundamentalism. I wish I had been able to tell them boldly and bravely about my Catholic faith, but sadly, I didn’t have the knowledge then. They did help me though, to grow in my faith by leaps and bounds. And, that growth continues still.
So I thank God for them, and I hope they have come to the fullness of truth that is our Church.
I thank God for the people who were praying for me back then, as well as my Christian friends who helped me grow in my faith by leaps and bounds. – Mrs. Lynda MacFarland
But the wisdom that came to me from the pages I read, with no Catholic teacher to guide me or accompany me on the way, astonishes me to this day. The Holy Spirit led me to just the passages I needed to read to start my journey toward really deciding to be a committed Christian and Catholic, and to truly follow Christ. The fear I experienced quickly fled with each passing day.
I read that, before Jesus ascended, He told His apostles when they would be arrested and brought before judges for their faith, that they didn’t have to worry about what to say because, in the translation I had at the time, “the Holy Spirit will teach you what to say.” Then that became my prayer, too! “Holy Spirit of the Living God, teach me what to say if I should ever have to speak out in defense of my faith or to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ.” That is another prayer I have prayed for close to 40 years and still do. Not as often, but for a long time—perhaps 20 or 30 years—it was prayed daily.
When I look back at that scared little girl who was afraid of everything really, even afraid to live a life of faith in Jesus Christ and to speak out to defend that and to explain to people who Christ is to me and to all of us, it feels like I’m looking back at someone else’s life.
But it’s mine.
And all I can say is thank you, God, for the gift of faith.
Thank you for the people you placed in my path who challenged me and for making me brave enough to walk away from what was not Your will for me and for making me brave enough to find out, through the power and grace of the Holy Spirit, what my path should be.
It has brought me much comfort, peace, and joy in the years since. The gifts and fruits of the Spirit are intermingled in my life. At one particularly dark period of my life, I said that the Holy Spirit “animates” me, as It should all of us. There are peaks and valleys and I find that, when I stop listening to the wisdom God has given me, I wander off the path and I find myself afraid again.
Keeping a constant prayer, a conversation with the Lord, is imperative to our faith life. It is also crucial to keep reading the Word of God outside of Mass, with the aid of knowledgeable, God-followers who are steeped in our Catholic Faith.
Keeping a constant prayer life, and reading the Word of God outside of Mass, is imperative to our faith life. – Mrs. Lynda MacFarland
Don’t be afraid! It’s repeated again and again through out Scripture, old and new. That’s another way of saying, Be Brave. And then you can Be Bold. Which helps you to be truly Catholic in the world today. You were born for such a time as this! God gave us a mission; it’s the same mission His Son had when He walked among our forefathers and foremothers in faith.
Follow the Leader who was always bold and brave and never afraid. That Leader who gave us the Eucharist and all that goes with it, expects nothing less of us. We have been commissioned into the Lord’s Army. My little grandson who is not yet 2 years old says Soldiers are “good guys” and “tough guys.” Well, there are ‘good gals’ and ‘tough girls,’ too! (He’s just too young to know that yet.) And, we are all good and tough in the Lord’s Army too. Yes? Can I get a Hooah?!