(Editor’s note: This is Teresa Woodard’s story, as told to Cheryl Brogla-Krupke, of Called and Gifted in the Quad Cities.)
I finally acknowledged God’s requests following countless years of his pleas. I had my very own agenda that did not include him. God patiently awaited my reply!
Even though I went through the motions of attending Mass with my children, my attendance was anger driven, and not for the love of God. Attending Mass for a period of time was an opportunity for me to lambast him for what my life had dealt to me.
God continued to send me invitations, but this time, I actually RSVP’d! I was asked to be a part of the Called and Gifted experience and attended the first class. Sadly, because of my past life, I made up my mind that I didn’t have any gifts, so I decided not to return after the first class. Unbeknownst to me, God was waiting patiently for me to grasp his hand and finally accept his invitation for a future beautiful life. What patience God had with me when I failed to look to him for my happiness!
My life’s road that I felt would lead me to happiness included several failed relationships that either ended in divorce or were flings that ended in pregnancies. God, however, did bless me with five beautiful children, one of whom I could not care for in the way my child deserved. My baby was raised by another loving family; a second child, a son, was killed in a hit-and-run accident; and a third son succumbed to an aneurism.
Now, looking back on these trials, I know in my heart that God had been with me through it all. The famous “Footprints in the Sand” is so dear to me because in a dream one night my son who had been killed came to me. I started to walk towards him and he walked away. He kept looking over his shoulder and smiling at me. He had a beautiful smile! I followed him into a church and when I was halfway up the aisle, he turned to me.
Before I spoke to him, he said, “I don’t need you anymore, but she does.” Then a young girl got up from a pew and walked past me. I knew that this dream told me she had been abused and was now pregnant. Was she someone I once knew?
The peace I felt when I awoke was inexplicable, a peace that I had longed to feel about my eldest son for such a long time. I knew in my heart that I was being called; however, I ignored the Lord’s invitation, his outstretched hand, once again. God waited patiently for years for me to reply to his countless offers.
Following the death of my oldest brother, I chose to return to Iowa and began looking for a rental property. One afternoon, the agent who was helping me to find a residence leaned back in his chair and asked, “So where are you going to go to church?” I thought, “God is serving me another invitation! How patient you have been Lord!”
As I reflect on all that has happened in my life, I am most happy to share with you that I just returned home from working at the Women’s Choice Center in Bettendorf. I attend Mass regularly at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport, am an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist, and a greeter — finally answering God’s call — a real RSVP! God has placed me where I am able to use my past to help others make better choices. Now, was I that girl in the church who I met in my dream, or is it some young lady who I am to meet at the Women’s Choice Center?
Lord, thank you for never giving up on me, placing the Called and Gifted teachers before me and accepting my RSVP many years after your generous invitations!
(For information about beginning a Called and Gifted program in your parish, please contact Nikki Gartner at jngartner@ aol.com or call (563) 370-3360.)