Credit where Credit is Due
#1 My Beautiful, Amazing, Wonderful, Loving Wife
What else can I say? She's the joy of my life. My anchor that keeps me grounded. The love of my life. She's my everything. Beautiful inside and out. Thank you for being so patient with me over this past year. Love you sweetie!
#2 The Catholic priest who so warmheartedly received and acknowledged "the letter"
You know, there's been two men of "the cloth" - yes, there are many others, but these two men by far stand out to me the most - that I've grown to greatly respect and admire in my life. The first was a Prostestant/Non-Denominational pastor who I had the pleasure of being a member of his church from roughly 2005 through 2010. So much so that after that man retired from the pastorate, it really threw me into a tailspin for a few years following his retirement. That's how much I loved and cared for this man. Why is that? Because he believed and taught from his heart based on what he received from the Holy Spirit as evidenced by his powerful yet humble sermons.
The second is the Catholic priest whom I delivered "the letter" to (see the The Journey of Two Lost Souls page for full details) back in the summer of last year (2021). The odd thing is I actually know very little about the man himself, but his humility and meekness shine through like nothing else. As Saint Francis of Assisi was quoted as saying, “Preach the gospel at all times. Use words only when necessary.”
These two men in many ways exemplify the type of man I wish to [hopefully] be someday. However, in my case, while I'm generally soft-spoken in verbal communication, if you can't already tell, I [now] love to write. Funny thing is before June of last year I absolutely hated it. I felt like I had zero talent or ability in that area. And I absolutely dreaded writing papers in college, so much so that I would fall into a deep state of dispair just thinking about the idea of even getting started.
Most importantly, I pray that the words I type are humble, or at least perceived as humble, because IMHO, humility is probably the hardest virtue that many of us struggle with at times (or at least I know I do). So much so that I have to set a reminder to pop up from time-to-time just to annoy me into asking myself, "Self, is what I'm doing at this moment being done out of humility and love, or do you have another, more selfish ambition/intention at play"? And if I can't answer that question honestly, then it's time for me to step aside from my writing for a bit until I get my "head straight" and answer that question sincerely and honestly before I get back to my writing.
#2 All the Heavenly Hosts who have helped guide me on this journey
I know that's a rather broad brush stroke, but seriously, there's absolutely no way this site would ever happened without the help of...
The One True God, Jehovah Almighty - Yes, I still call my Father in Heaven "Jehovah" from my days as a Jehovah's Witness growing up. Not all the time, grant you, but it's at least always in the back of my mind. Why is that you might ask? Because growing up as an active, dedicated Jehovah's Witness for 14 years of your life will leave some indeliable marks on you. And although I'm now a fully devoted Catholic instead, I still carry with me the "best parts" from what I learned as a Jehovah's Witness such as study of God's word and the intrinsic feeling that I need to do what I can to share Christ's redemption story with others in "the world" as Jehovah's Witnesses call non-believers. In my opinion, Jehovah's Witnesses do a lot of things "right"; however, unfortunately they also believe in a number of things that don't line up with traditional Christianity such as not believing in the divine Trinity. But I'm not going to sit here and nit-pick another religion in this post. I may be wrong, but I believe that even with that huge discrepancy in their beliefs that Jehovah's Witnesses will be "just fine" in the end. I cannot imagine that an all-loving God would turn them away from everlasting life when their day comes to meet the Man upstairs.
- Jesus Christ His Son, My Savior and my Salvation, my "Great Teacher" - As an aside to not believing in the divine Trinity of God, Jehovah's Witnesses consequently do not believe that Jesus is the same as Father God. They believe Jesus is God's first creation rather than God's only begotten Son. However, Jehovah's Witnesses do stress that Jesus was a "Great Teacher" which is something I definitely agree with. Jesus is most certainly not only a great teacher but is the best great teacher that ever lived on this planet. And He continues to teach us still to this day via the living Word of God, the Bible. And as Catholics, we also believe He continues to teach us through the passing down of sacred tradition.
The Holy Spirit - The Holy Spirit of God is Awesome! And Powerful! He spreads His "Wings" as far as the East is from the West ... and from North to South ... and all points in between and yet, somehow ... some way ... He also lives within our body's sacred, spiritual "temple". The Holy Spirit doesn't ask for our worship or our praise, He just asks for us to simply honor Him. That's all! Talk about the ultimate example of humility! The Holy Spirit of God, the third Person in the divine Trinity, is Who keeps this universe running. He stretches His majesty across the fabric of space and time ... and yet He still finds the time to pray for us - each one of us individually - as I mentioned in "the letter", in "utterances that we do not understand." (Romans 8:26).
- Mary, Mother of our Savior - I'm not even sure where to start when it comes to describing the Virgin Mary and her [continued] part in salvation history. I guess part of that is because I've only very recently (as of late July/early August 2022) started to truly appreciate and understand Mary as my spiritual mother and "untier" of the many knots in my life. I'm sure I'll be adding more thoughts on her as days go by, but for now, let me just say "Hi [spiritual] mom! Glad to finally start getting to know you! And thank you for everything you've done and continue to do for God's children here on earth, in Purgatory as well as in Heaven."
- St John the Evangelist (my Patron Saint) - The author and writer of the Book of John, the Book of Revelation as well as 1st, 2nd and 3rd John was a pretty amazing man. One of Jesus' selected twelve apostles as well as the man that Jesus asked to take in and care for His mother at the time Jesus was nailed to the Cross and was about to pass away from His physical existence here on earth. Saint John, thank you for all that you've done and continue to do in the lives of the saints both here and in Heaven. Saint John is the saint who I chose to be my patron saint while I was going through the Rights of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) before being "received" into the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil of 2013.
#3 Dan Brown
My next credit goes out to Dan Brown, the inventor, designer and developer of BookStack (bookstackapp.com). Dan is the man who had the incredible vision to create the software that this site runs on. Thanks Dan! When I sent you that DM a while back with I a few technical questions that you got back with me on almost immediately and I told you that I considered BookStack to be a "Godsend", I wasn't using that word lightly. I was being literal if you couldn't already tell based on the content of this site . May God bless you Dan for creating such an incredibly easy to use yet powerful as all get out piece of Wiki software that runs oh-so-well on self-hosted Linux servers with bare minimum server specifications.
#4 Danny Gokey
Talk about a true talent on fire obviously for God. Danny Gokey is simply an amazing Christian song artist. I currently have three of his songs embedded on this site as of 17/August/2022. Thank you Danny! You are truly blessed. Keep up the incredible work!
#5 One "retreatant" in particular from our 2022 ACTS retreat
After being "on team" for the 4th time for our recent parish's "ACTS" (Adoration, Community, Theology and Service) retreat in 2022, I finally built up enough courage to give a "talk." Afterwards, in reflecting back on it, I thought it went fairly well but I just wasn't sure. Doubt started almost immediately setting in, and I started becoming very self-critical of myself, and reflecting too much on what "went wrong", and what I could have "done better."
Later that day, one of the retreatants in particular came up to me to say "That was amazing..." followed by some other incredibly kind words...but my mind seemed to get stuck after he said the word "amazing". Like as if I almost didn't hear or at least remember anything he said after that point.
Of course, even after he said this, my mind would still refuse to accept that the talk was actually "amazing" as he described it, but it did allow me to accept that it evidently went at least well enough that at least some of what I spoke about resonated with at least one person in the audience. And as I mentioned at least a couple of times on this site, if at least one person benefits from what I've written on this site - or in this case said in the "talk" - I'll feel like I've done my job, or perhaps better said, I'll feel like I'm fulfilling my calling.
But most importantly, to that retreatant, now a fellow ACTS team member - you know who you are - who said those incredibly kind things about me/my talk, "Thank you", from the bottom of my heart! YOU are part of the reason I've built up the additional courage to pick back up on developing this website post-retreat. YOU are an incredibly kind person with a soul pure as gold.
In addition, congratulations to you and your wife on the arrival - or soon to be upcoming arrival? - of your new baby!
Oh, and also, can't forget about your dad! Big guy, touch as nails, could probably knock someone out with a single punch, and yet one of the nicest, kindest, sincerest people I've had the privilege to work with "on team." Please feel free to pass this along to him as well.
May God bless you, your dad, and your family! Again, thank you!
#6 Another fellow ACTS brother from years past
My next giant "thank you" goes out to a dear ACTS brother of mine that I've known now for over five years. This man has taught me many things, but first-and-foremost it's not necessarily what he's taught me, but what he's shown me. He doesn't just "talk the talk", he "walks the walk." He is a true believer in Christ and the Church here on earth, and a great inspiration for others.
So, to my fellow ACTS brother whom I just emailed, when and if you see this site, I just want to say "Thank you", again from the bottom of my heart for just being You. You wear your faith on your sleeve and it's outwardly evident to all you come in contact with.
And, probably most importantly, you are one of the most humble people I know (I know, there's that word again...starting to see a pattern)? So, "Thank you" again for helping me see the spiritual road in front of me and for guiding me on how to avoid some of those road hazards in life.
If you believe you benefited from what you've read on this site - or if you know someone who you believe might - would you please pass the word along to them? Posting the URL “https://testedbyfire.org” and a quick summary/synopsis of what you thought about the experience to your Facebook friends, communities, Twitter posts, Instagram and/or others would be greatly appreciated. Thank you - Stephen Losh