A Divine Juxtaposition

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I’ll tell you what, I think it is just amazing to see the ways in which God works.

In the last two days, God has plopped in my lap, two very very apparent juxtapositions for me to contemplate.

I swear – the minute you start looking for God in your everyday life, you realize that His presence and His orchestration are ALL OVER IT. Seriously – try it…it’s fun.

But as you read on Monday, I went to the *phenomenal* ProLife film, Unplanned, in NYC, and was the ONLY PERSON IN THE THEATER. I know – crazy, and disappointing and just such a let down. And side note — GO SEE THE MOVIE, IT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE.

But, after that film, I was equally fired up about getting out there and changing the world and fighting the good prolife fight, and yet also disheartened that I was seemingly fighting the battle alone. I mean, until you watch a film in a completely empty movie theater, do you fully understand what “alone” really feels like.

Anywho – fast forward now, two days later, to yesterday, when I had such a ~spoiler alert~ spirit affirming experience.

I went to the Young Adult mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral – Cardinal Dolan had the mass, and Audrey Assad (!!!) provided the music for the hour of adoration beforehand, as well as the music during mass. And the cathedral was standing room only.

It was packed. PACKED! And with people between the ages of 18-35! I mean, what?!?

It was incredible. I shuffled into my pew, and the ~very handsome~ young man behind me was on kneelers praying, and quietly singing along to the Audrey Assad song, knowing every word.

Granted, his girlfriend shuffled in a few minutes later, so…womp womp…but still — what a sight to behold!

But it was such an uplifting, beautiful gathering of young people of faith! I was positively buzzing afterwards.

What an incredible juxtaposition God provided that evening, from my previous movie theater let down just 48 hours earlier.

But Cardinal Dolan’s homily was so powerful. It was about how our memories and dreams are some of the most important things we have in this life. And indulge me for a minute – I want to try to share the message in a nutshell.

We cherish our memories. They shape who we are, and we have this special bond with the past. But the greatest – and divine – purpose for our memories, is remembering how God saw us through trials and challenging seasons.

And sitting there listening to this in the pew, I was nodding my head going — Okay…yes!! This could not be more true for me.

I mean, I have a complicated relationship with my past. Because for as beautiful a childhood and upbringing that I had, my past and my memories are also full of a lot of pain. Seasons of sorrow – from the severe anorexia that nearly took my life, to the Ulcerative Colitis that ravaged my body and had me on bedrest for 11 months, to the sorority scandal, to my mom’s stroke. There’s a lot of pain. But in that pain is also beauty: because as Cardinal Dolan reminded us — those memories highlight God delivering us from those trials. Loving us through the hardships and comforting us in the grief.

Our memories are important, because they point to Him.

And then…dreams.

Our dreams are a powerful thing. They help shape our decisions, they influence our actions both today, and in the future. They are a truly defining part of who we are.

But when we get down to the nitty gritty — ask anyone on their death bed, and no longer are they dreaming of owning a vacation home, or a fancy sports car. They’re not dreaming of being a movie star or a major league baseball player. They’re dreaming of Heaven. They’re dreaming of eternity with Jesus. That’s what matters. That’s the greatest dream of all.

And the sooner we realize that, the better. Because then we will let that ultimate dream influence our decisions, and the way we live our life.

I don’t know why I was supposed to hear that particular homily, in that particular setting, but I don’t think it’s a coincidence.

Obviously, one of my greatest dreams is to get married and have a family. And, given my recent miracle, I am so beyond grateful that that dream can now physically be a reality for me someday, God willing.

But it’s like that homily was bringing my whole story full circle, right? – Coming to peace with my past, that I – admittedly – feel so much shame and guilt for. Coming to peace and seeing it as a victory of God’s mercy and love and grace.

And then, to consider my dreams. And to confront my dream of marriage, literally in a church that is standing room only with eligible bachelors.

I mean…well played, God. Well played.

Granted, I was also sitting behind a row of young nuns, so there’s that too…

But. I definitely felt God’s hand in that whole orchestration last night. So, thank you, Padre.

Next time, I’ll just have to work up the courage to stick around for the mixer afterwards.

How do you feel your memories and dreams impact your present life? Do you make decisions based off of your dreams? Let me know in the comments!

“This is what the Lord says to these [dry, dead] bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.” Ez 37:5

Hugs and love xox

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118 responses to “A Divine Juxtaposition”

  1. Wonderfully inspiring series of posts. St. John of the Cross writes about how memory must submit to hope… memories are of things already obtained/experienced, hope is in what is coming, which for the Christian is eternal unity with God. I am glad that the Spirit is stoking your hopes. Christ’s peace be with you.

    • Thank you so much 🙂 I so agree – hope in what is coming! i really appreciate your kind words 🙂 have a great night. big hugs xo

  2. Great post!

    I just recently received feedback on a short story I wrote for a competition. One of the judges said that my portrayal of a cruel, insane mother was spot-on. The funny thing is that I based that character in my story on my actual mother, with only a few fictional liberties taken. It felt validating to hear this judge in the contest call her cruel and insane. (I’m mentally ill, so I’m not trying to sound pejorative by using the word “insane”, but… yeah, “cruel and insane” pretty much describes the sort of mother she was.) And the judge really liked the story, so I realized that the challenges I’ve been through have allowed me to emerge as a great writer, and it made me happy.

    • Hi Meg! thank you so much! oh that’s so exciting! congrats on your short story!!! hugs xo

  3. I have two reactions to share with you. First is Julie’s parenting mindset; the job of a parent is to give their children great memories. Not things. Memories.

    Some of my fondest memories with Julie involve my bypass surgery and the absolute peace I felt when she just sat with me and watched over me as I dozed. One especially vivid memory was biking on Put-In-Bay in Lake Erie about 9 months after bypass surgery. I lost energy and needed to lie down. We found a nice patch of grass in the town square, and I napped in the sun while Julie sat there with me. Pure bliss!

    Second: I know you struggle with your past. All I know is the wonderful friend you’ve been to me and can’t imagine anything else. When I hear that pain, I’m back to wanting to embrace you and kiss the top of your head as I wrote years ago in Beauty and the (ED) Beast. Christ has redeemed you from that! He’s made you that bright, Tiffany lamp shining from within. And, as much as one can redeem oneself, the person you are has redeemed the person you were.

    That’s me this evening. Here’s to memories we have and memories we will have!

    • Wow Jeff, this is so beautiful, thank you. Amen to that – Christ has absolutely saved me from that past and Praise be to God for that!! Thank you for say that. 😊 Isn’t it so amazing the way God can put those beautiful moments amidst seasons of difficulty. Like the peace you found with Julie in the quiet moments. Or for me, when I was on bed rest and my mom with sit on the couch with me and just do her needlepoint. It’s those quiet moments that have so much meaning. God is so good how He gives us that. Thanks for such an uplifting comment. Hope you and Julie have a beautiful weekend. Hugs and love xox

  4. Hi Caralyn: It seems like forever since I have responded to your blog. Life has gotten real busy, with complications.
    Anyway, it is always neat when God speaks and confirms things, or directs us. The important thing you are sharing and teaching, is we need to listen for Holy Spirit, and listen to Holy Spirit. Your life is a Prime Example for each of us.

    Thank you, and God Bless,
    Luv, 😀❤️🌹😘
    p.s. – looking forward to hearing future Holy Spirit guiding, with excitement.

    • Hi George! So great to see your name pop up! I hope everything is okay! I will be saying extra prayers for you and yours. Amen to that – the Holy Spirit is the best guide. What a kind thing to say, thank you my dear friend. Hugs and love xox

      • Thank you Caralyn. I appreciate all your prayers. The situation with our nephew, Ken, is worse. He is the 34 year old who went to the hospital for heart surgery, and came out of surgery with brain damage. He has short term memory loss, affecting walking, Speech, eating, talking, all life really.
        After six months in hospital, he was discharged, saying they can do no more for him.
        He lives on his own in an apartment. A nurse has been coming in morning and evening, to teach me to crush all his pill meds, mixing them with liquid meds, and thickening to correct texture due to swallowing problems.
        He also needs all beverages thickened, and all food minced. Temporarily he has PSWs coming in 3 times a day for 2 hours each, for getting him up and washing / dressing in the morning. Then changing for bed at night. And each is to prepare meals. Some are not sure how to mince the foods, and have a hesitation of thickening the drinks.
        So Barb, my wife, and I are spending most days there.
        Up at 5:30a.m., with Ken, visiting, preparation of food, running around, or having meetings with various therapists, nutritionists, directors, and more, then sleeping around 9:00p.m.
        Still more, but that is part of our days now. Working on getting him into a Retirement Home, short term, or Long Term Care, at 34 years old.
        This morning I was to be at another pre-planned meeting, so I phoned Ken to see if he was awake. No answer, so I went over to make sure he took a early med., and so the door would be open for the others. He was sleeping when I arrives

      • Sleeping in a chair when I arrived. He awoke ok. But he was so sad looking, and as I thought of his situation, I made sure all was ready for Nurse and PSW then I left. I left quickly, because my tears started flowing, and I didn’t want Ken to see that. I returned straight home, crying all the way, cancelled going to the meeting.
        Sorry for taking up all this space and time Caralyn. It wasn’t planned to be do long.

        Thanks for your prayers.
        God Bless,
        Luv, 😀❤️🌹😘

      • Oh gosh, that just breaks my heart. Please don’t apologize! I appreciate you sharing. Know that I’m with you, Barb and Ken in prayer and spirit.

      • Oh my gosh George, what a blessing you and Barb are for Ken. Gosh I am so sorry to hear that he and you all are going through that difficult scenario. It sounds so tough. I will definitely be praying for him and you guys. Hang in there. Remember – Matthew 25 – the care you’re showing Ken is really the care you’re showing Jesus. 🙂 I admire your and barb’s hearts. Thanks for sharing that. Hugs and love xox

  5. Great post to read. Could the worshippers at St. Patrick’s Cathedral reflect who you need? I had memories go with a couple of decades of adulthood, and dreams, when I am aware, giving me pictures dealing with a process.

    My lovely sister once gave me a “dream dictionary,” a book explaining symbols in dreams we have when we sleep. Please make the most of what you’ve seen at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Although we all love you for your tears and want you to feel restored every time you’re sad, your readers want you to keep to a path where you know The Lord will guide you.

    • Thank you so much 🙂 how interesting! So true – i trust in His guidance!! 🙂 thanks for the encouragement! Hugs and love xox

    • Thank you so much Ryan for your prayers! I will join you in that prayer! Amen!!!! Hugs and love xox

  6. You are so right. It is in our darkest moments we sometimes experience moments of the purest joy. I have had many challenges through the past five years, trying to bring two teenagers through an extremely challenging divorce, which had at times shocked even my experienced and worldly lawyer . I have lost my best friend here in Australia, to cancer. I had youngsters studying hard to make it to university and having to deal with that pressure but in the midst of all that, there have been moments of pure love and peace, made all the more precious because of the swirling turmoil, trying to envelop us all.

    • Thanks so much friend. Yes! The purest joy. Oh my gosh I am so sorry to hear that about your friend. Saying a prayer for them. Hang in there. Hugs and love xox

  7. My dear friend,

    Often we find layers of consciousness even in words – when looking at them with a passing look, we only see the surface – so regarding you feeling being “alone” (when you saw that film) – we can have a deeper look into this word: alone means: there is only one, you are “al(l) one”, just “one”, “all-one” – all one, one in all and all in one, just al(l)-one. So God is in you as (all or al) and you are in Him as one – one and all, “al-one” – this really shows our condition: He the One of All is in every heart and we are one with Him…

    Have a relaxing weekend my dear friend
    From heart to heart

  8. My dear friend was also a Catholic like you. We often saw things differently but in the end, all that matters is that somebody is there for you, when you need a friend.

  9. Maybe. You’ve made a choice, already? One would think, a room full of what you’re looking for and, you exit? 🤔😱😳😕 I mean. That’s a bit like, swiping left.

      • That’s a choice. Let someone in. Let them scoop you up and not let go. I know what being alone is like, I’d feel insecure with someone. But, I’m old. It’s fine.

      • My wisdom comes from a full life of failure and disappointment. Lewis Carroll, said to do six impossible things before breakfast. It’s interesting, choosing six because normally we can only concentrate on six to eight things at a time. So. I have that, “what if” mentality. Improv, is definitely a skill and maybe that’s what you could fall back on when you feel insecure. Those, impossible things are what we focus on rather than the, doing.

  10. Oh my! Yes a divine juxtaposition, as there are so many noted in the Bible. As you eloquently point out, these and/or things live in us. Thank you Jesus for the good work you have begun and will commit to completion. Until then, sister, write on. It is an honor to write/speak beside you in this dark world. #wearebrightertogether

    • Thank you so much Julie 🙂 what a kind thing to say! You’re right – brighter together! Hugs and love xox

  11. Hey we just saw Unplanned today my 3 were the only ones there. But the good news is the movie has be well received and made #5 at the box office last week, grossing it’s budget back on the first run. I think more people will be affected by this if the people who watched it will just pray that God intervene, or just show up at the clinics and pray.

    • Hey Bruce! Thank you so much for going to see it and supporting positive media. That’s so true. I found my local PP today – I plan on going to pray. Hugs and love xox

  12. As I’ve said elsewhere, love is basic to our very being. It is who and what we are. Love is all; love is everything. God is Love. As my departed wife Pat said, “We ask nothing, we have all!” Life and love are forever. As surely as night follows day, the Kingdom of Heaven is within us here and now!.

    • Wow what a beautiful thought – we ask nothing, we have all. What powerful words. Thank you for sharing that. Hugs and love xox

  13. Great post! I’d definitely say that my dreams guide my decisions. My dream finch finishing undergrad was to become a licensed therapist and to open a private therapy practice. It guided many of my decisions as I went through the process and I officially opened my office on Monday and am slowly building a caseload. God is good!

  14. Maybe next time you will stick around, or maybe the time after that. Ask God to guide you and the holy spirit will let you know when to stick around. This time was not it, and that’s okay! 🙂
    Trust in God’s timing, remember it’s always perfect! xoxo

  15. One of my dear friends was at that mass on Wednesday and said it was absolutely beautiful! Thank you for the reminder to keep looking for God in every detail of our lives! ❤️

  16. Hey there! I wanted to send you a message here and let you know that someone has copied a lot of your information on Instagram and created a fake account! I sent you a message on IG as well I just really wanna make sure that you get this so they can get shut down if it’s not you! They’ve also created a webpage with photos of you and I have copied a lot of your story

    • Thank you so much for having my back! That’s actually me!! It is my food blog! I started it back in 2010 when I was on bed rest for ulcerative colitis. I developed all of those recipes and even published a cookbook! I let it go when I started this blog, but decided to incorporate those recipes on here too! Thank you so much for looking out for me! I’m lucky to have a friend like you! Yep! It’s me! 🙂 Hugs and love xox

    • Thanks Tony – yes! Having courage to pursue them is so important! Hugs and love xox

  17. When I first read the statement about the importance of dreams, my mind went to argument mode as I thought of the dreams I have at night which I have no control over and wake up…well shameful….then you twisted it for me about the dreams of our heart…dreams of meeting Jesus. So good! Thank you for challenging me today.

  18. Hi, friend… I’m late in reading this. I’ve had a very busy week, and I’ve really had to concentrate on just holding things together, but the one good thing about going to bed late and waking up early two nights in a row is that I can do things like catch up on the usual blogs.

    Interesting that you wrote this, because my next post will also be about an interesting juxtaposition involving Unplanned. Not like yours, though. And I don’t mean to steal your idea. I had this idea before I read this. (So, regarding my comment from a week ago, that means that I did in fact get to see the movie. Also, this post may or may not happen today, since I’ve been busy. I skipped Highway Pi last week, and so far I’ve skipped both Highway Pi and DLTDGB this week, because of the whole being busy thing. But I’m getting off topic…)

    Anyway, as to your question about memories and dreams, sometimes I feel like at this point in my life, I’m just an old man full of regrets. I know, I know, early 40s isn’t exactly old, but given the way certain things have gone, and the way that I’ve seen so many peers, and then former students, grow up while my life has remained fundamentally the same, it definitely makes me feel old. And I’ve also had some experiences that have made me question my dreams in the first place. Do I really want to get married? Is this really the right career for me? I don’t know, and figuring that out might be a bit of a process.

    Memories are a tricky subject as well, because it’s easy to get caught up in living in the past. I started writing DLTDGB a few months ago as a way to revisit some of those memories from a specific time period (1994-99, eventually, but the story is still in 1994). I originally intended to focus on the funny and lighthearted memories, but some of the stories have been more like coming-of-age stories and life lessons to learn. That was an especially noteworthy time period in my life: my first time on my own, closer friendships than I’d ever had before, my coming to faith, and my first (and probably still most significant) experience serving in some sort of ministry (church youth group volunteer for junior high kids). I plan on having the character from DLTDGB have a similar faith journey (oops, spoiler).

    As I’ve written many times before in Highway Pi, the sense of community that I had back in those days has not carried over into my adult life, so there’s a strong temptation to want to go back to those days. But that can’t happen. The world has changed. I’m currently about 30 miles away from where I lived at that time; I have a few friends from adulthood that live there, and a few from my college days who never left, and I go back several times a year for college football and basketball games, and if I’m not on a schedule, I often just drive around blasting grunge and 90s pop-rock. I’ve thought about moving back at two distinct points in my life, but I’ve decided it’s not a good idea, because (among other reasons) even if I were to move back, it wouldn’t be 1998 anymore.

    Anyway… thanks for getting me thinking about this today. Have a good one 🙂

    • Thank you so much for sharing this. I feel so honored to be let into your mind space as you sort through these things. I will definitely keep you in my prayers. God will bring you to where He wants you to be, one way or another. Hugs and love xox

  19. ummmm ‘scuse me 🙋‍♀️ prrrrreettttttyyyy sure I told you a few comments ago, that you will find the right guy when you are least looking for him😏. And how good is our God?!??!!! You were thinking about the movie and how you can use your voice/ getting your mind off you and on Him……and bam! Guys everywhere! I am so proud of and happy for you!!! I love hearing your love and recognition of our Father’s love for us. You.absolutely.rock!! xoxo

    • Hahah you’re right! You did! Haha Amen to that – God is sooo good! Thank you so much for your encouraging words! 🙂 Hugs and love xox

    • Thanks so much Sophie 🙂 I LOVE that passage too!! So powerful. Big hugs to you xox

  20. Wonderful post. I especially liked the greatest dream of all, spending eternity with Jesus. Everything here will vanish with time but our eternity with Him in Heaven will last forever. It is unlikely we will ever meet on this earth but I am planning to see you there!

    • Thank you so much Harry!! I really appreciate your encouraging words! Hugs and love xox

  21. Wow! Beautiful write! I too have spent my time alone in a theater, usually when I am going to see a faith-based film. Sad to see, but it is the culture/society we live in for sure. I, too, have a past…we all do. It is truly amazing how hindsight truly glorified our Lord! Thank you for writing this. God bless you.

    • Thank you so much 🙂 amen to that – God uses everything for His glory! Hugs and love xox

    • Oh my gosh – I cannot even begin to tell you how much that means to me. I’m so glad that this was the “red bull” to your soul. That had me laughing!!!! 🙂 heheh hugs xoxox

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