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Last night I received an email about my last post  (The “thanks” in Thanksgiving, 11/21/13).  Usually I just email a return response, but I thought THIS email might make a good follow up post.

Dear Kim:

I don’t understand how someone (like yourself) can say you believe in God and claim to live your life so gratefully when everyday we hear about people getting cancer, or dying in accidents, or losing their job and they have no idea how they will keep a roof over their head. 

I am not saying I don’t believe there is a God, but what I mean is IF there is a God, why would it let “big challenges” (your words) happen, even to people who are just trying to lead a good life (meaning one where you do what you’re supposed to: work, follow the law, go to church etc.)? 

So, my question for you is how do YOU know there is a God and why would you be grateful for some of the challenges that have been put into your life?

Definitely thought provoking.

How do I know there is a God?

How DO I know there is a God…

I can think of several instances in my life where something “more than coincidence” happened which led me to believe in the existence of a Higher Power.  (I’ll be completely honest and say none of these things occurred while I was enrolled in Catholic School from 1-12th grade).

Here is a great example of why I believe there is indeed a God (or Higher Power or whatever you are comfortable calling it):

I have five children, and while each of their arrivals into the world was a miracle to me, the birth of my daughter in April of 2003 was something more.

She was due on May 8th, but on the night of April 2nd I woke up out of a sound sleep by an intense contraction.  My previous two children were both born prematurely, so it wasn’t out of the question that might happen again.  I didn’t immediately feel anything else, but decided to go downstairs and watch television for a while.  After a short time I felt the same thing, so I called my doctor.  Within the hour I was hooked up to monitors at the hospital and waiting for the next step.

Four hours later, nothing.  My husband was not happy I had woken him up at 4 a.m. to take me to the hospital, and when my doctor said there was not enough contraction activity to keep me, he said to me, “See, I told you the baby wasn’t coming today!”

Which, at the time, was a total asshole thing to say.

While the doctor was out of the room getting the discharge papers together and my husband took a walk down the hall (I am pretty sure he knew he’d said the wrong thing), I began to pray.  Really hard…to God and to all of my dead female relatives (what can I say, it just seemed like the appropriate group to pray to).

Ironically, five minutes later contractions started, in earnest, and in less than an hour my daughter came into the world!

I could give you more examples, but suffice it to say I think that day (for me) sealed the deal.  You can decide all the quirky little things that happen and people who come into your life are mere coincidence, or you can have faith that we are all a part of something bigger.

Again, it is a choice.

Your second question was:  why am I grateful for some of the challenges that have come into my life?

Two of the most stressful emotional challenges that have occurred in my life involved my eldest son Nick.  The first one was when I found out he existed (I was an eighteen year old freshman in college), the second was in 2008 when he was twenty years old and we discovered he was spiraling out of control with alcohol.

Both situations were months of stress and angst.  But, both ended up giving my life focus and direction.

Although I was a very young mother, Nick’s arrival into my life gave me reason to get a job, move out on my own, and figure out life pretty quickly.  It wasn’t easy and, at times it was very lonely.  I still feel Nick’s arrival gave real meaning to my life.

When Nick was drinking heavily it was very difficult to figure out what to do next to turn things around for him.  I had no family or friends with any experience with addiction, and it didn’t help we were living 1.000 miles apart from one another.

It look some time, a great deal of stress and prayer, but I am so proud to say Nick has been sober since May, 2010.  He has achieved everything I thought was possible for him and then some.  Having walked that path with my son gave me the desire to go back to college and finish my bachelors in psychology (it took 20 years…) and I am now working with adolescents and their families in substance abuse treatment.  I have many more hours of internship to complete, but I love what I am doing and I know the time will pass one way or another, at least I am working towards my ultimate career goal of a being a licensed counselor.

Although it has been said over and over again, God does work in mysterious ways and everyday we make a choice in how we will respond to what is on our plate.

I choose to live in gratitude, and with God’s help being an example my children need to do the same.

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