Friday, August 29, 2014

Love Story #11: Craig Loves Lucy

Please welcome a guest with an amazing love story written by St. Joseph and Our Lady, as narrated by Lucy...

My love story started when I left the noviciate after 18 months due to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and felt God speaking loud and clear to me that His plan for me was not to be religious life.  I rallied against it as I felt that the best way to serve God was obviously through religious life.  After all how many stories of the saints had I read about stay at home mums??

So I fought God about it but finally gave in and decided to start praying novenas to St. Joseph for a good husband. This was the only way I could see of ever getting married as I had a chronic illness, had to move back home with my parents and wasn’t able to work or go out socially much due to my health.  I needed a major miracle and thought God did it for Mary with St. Joseph so I’ll go straight to him.  There was a beautiful statue of St. Joseph in a side altar at my church, and I would often pine longingly in front of it.

Any male that darkened the door of a church was a potential object of dreamy desperation for me.  It was quite sad but true.  Not that I ever would have shown it, but in my mind we were already married with a vanful of kids by the time he had sat down in his pew.

I was like an eagle (or vulture?) with precise vision for the vaguest sight of movement that would allow me hone in on my potential target.  This was of course all in my mind as I felt, “What can I as a woman do?  I want the man to make the first move!”

I don’t remember how many novenas to St. Joseph I prayed, but it was quite a lot.  In the meantime, I began to get quite cranky with men in general.  I perceived a lazy kind of complacency amongst many of the Catholic men I knew.  Just kind of comfortable with all these girls around and no real interest in exclusive or committed relationship.  Sorry guys this was harsh and coming out of my impatience, so bear with me!

During my illness I had an idea of going on a “holiday”  from being sick.  My Dad’s family came from the other side of Australia (called Western Australia) and I had never visited there.  This was the only real option for me as my funds were limited.  A few weeks before I left, I had a sense of Our Lady sitting on the edge of my bed before I went to sleep one night and she said, “You will meet your future husband in the next month or 6 weeks at least.” 


Was I dreaming??

I thought that maybe my pining had taken on a life force of its own.  Nevertheless, I filed this thought away in the back of my brain.  I was very cautious about divine inspiration after my failed attempt at religious life.  I had been SO sure that God wanted me to be a nun and that all ended in disaster, so how could I know whether this was my imagination or not?

Well, off I flew to the other side of the country for 6 weeks.  During that time I was invited to a Catholic black tie dinner/dance by some girlfriends, and asked my Aunt who I was staying with, whether she knew of any boys we could ask to even up the numbers on the table.  She was a committed Pentecostal but was (freakishly) attending a Catholic prayer group where she did know of a fellow.  He was the second on her list after the first one said "no thanks".  His name was Craig and he was a convert.

Well, she called him and he said, “Sure but I am going to be joining the priesthood in a couple of months is that ok?”

She said, "No problem."

When she told me I thought, “Typical.  The only available Catholic male in this whole half of the country is going to be a priest.  I’m doomed.  DOOMED!”

He suggested coming over to meet me before the big night.  So we met at my Aunty’s home.  He called before he arrived and I just loved the sound of his voice.  Then he arrived and about 5 minutes into meeting, I was absolutely smitten.  Head over heels.  I spent the rest of the time with him trying not to make a fool of myself.  Then, that night I prayed, “Lord, I really like him, but if it is not your will and you wish him to be a priest then please take away this feeling I have for him.”

I then had a sense again of Our Lady sitting on the edge of my bed saying, “Rest assured.  He is the one.”

Then, I (ever so skeptical) said, “If that is true, he has to give me a red rose on the night of the ball."

Now I have never asked for a sign in my life, but I had this picture of him come into my head giving me a red rose, so I guess I just went with it.

The night arrived and downstairs I went.  Craig was chatting to my cousin in his tuxedo and NOT holding a red rose so I thought, “Great.  Clear sign.  Not the one.”

Then he said, “Hang on a minute, I’ve got something for you.”

He left the room and came back in with a single red rose.  Yep.  

Now I am trying to look calm on the outside while inside I am saying swear words no Catholic girl should say when a divine revelation swoops into her life.  Off to confession for that one.

I spent the night at the ball with a split personality.  The calm exterior and the stormy interior.  It is one thing to know God wants you to marry someone, but what if they don’t know it yet?  What if they still think they are meant to be a priest?  I made a decision then and there to say nothing to Craig about it but give him his free will.  I guess I didn’t want him to like me because he thought he HAD to because God told me this.  I decided I would tell him if or when he ever proposed to me.  I had a while to wait. 

It was a couple of months before he joined the seminary, then spent 3 months there before deciding it wasn’t God’s will for him.  A week after leaving he called me and asked me out.  We started “going out” (we don’t tend to say “dating" here).  We went to Mass one day at my church and after Mass Craig said he was going to have a pray.  I looked across the church and there he was kneeling in front of the same statue of St. Joseph that I had prayed and pined before so many times. 

We also worked out he was converted at the time all those years earlier when I had first begun those novenas.  His conversion was from a pagan background and he was literally “zapped” by God while working on an oil rig in the North Sea.  But that’s a whole other universe.

A year later, we were engaged on the Feast of the Annunciation.

Then married the following year on the 1st January, 1998.  The Feast of Mary, Mother of God.

16 years later and the Lord is continuing to bless us.  Time and again we marvel at His work in us.

Thanks for allowing me to share my story.


Anabelle Hazard said...

Lucy, I LOLed at "anyone darkening the door of the Church..." and "how many saints are stay at homes?" I have an on and off devotion to St. Joseph (currently off) but I'm sure your story will cause a surge in devotion to him. What a blessing he obtained for you in finding a good man! Thank you so much for sharing your story.

Lucy said...

I am deeply grateful for your willingness to allow me to share my story. Thanks so much Annabelle! What a wonderful vision you have of spreading these stories. God invented romance long before Mills & Boon novels came along!

Sue Elvis said...

Hi Anabelle and Lucy!

I meet people I know in unexpected places. Anabelle, Lucy and I have been exchanging emails about our Australian Catholic Families blog and now I find out she knows you!

Thanks for sharing your story,
Lucy. I love a good romance, especially one that involves God!

We also have a devotion to St Joseph. He has helped us out of lots of tricky situations.

Anabelle, you must know another of my Aussie friends. I see Chelsea writes with you for Catholic Stand. Chelsea and I both went to the Catholic Digital Media Conference in Sydney several weeks ago.

I hope you and baby are keeping well!

Anabelle Hazard said...

Sue, I don't know how Lucy found my blog but I suspect its probably you since you're a famous Australian blogger and speaker now. Someday, we'll all be part of a big party and realize just how closely connected the universal Church is!