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Mar 06, 2020 885 Patricia Keane,
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Count Your Blessings Not Your Problems!

Unmindful Grumblings

Recently, I caught myself complaining about a matter so trivial that it would never affect my life. I had to remind myself to stop and keep the promise I made to Our Lady many years ago, amidst the deprivation and poverty of the refugee camps in Bosnia–Herzegovina.

Chastising myself, I apologized to God and set out to thank Him for every blessing. Later that evening at Mass, I prayed, “Lord, my complaints must hurt You when You have been filling my days with grace, blessings and gifts. I must seem so ungrateful to You.” Tears filled my eyes as I reflected on my selfish demands. When I contemplated the joy my loving Father’s abundant gifts had aroused, I felt guilty for grumbling.

I renewed my resolve to thank God throughout the day, in spite of petty irritations. How could I separate myself from disappointment when I did not get my own way or when God did not answer my prayers in the way I expected?

Count Those Blessings

God, our Father, encourages us to accept what we receive, rather than entertaining big expectations and indulging ourselves in discontent. Often, I have been more blessed when Our Father did not give me what I asked for, because it would have been detrimental to my life. Now, I am very grateful for the occasions when God gave me something better. Although I had to curb my impatience when I had to wait, invariably there was always a far better outcome when I let God work it out.

Gift of Tears

Sitting down before the Blessed Sacrament last week, I decided to make a mental list of all the extraordinary blessings God has given me since I began a pilgrim journey with Our Lord and Our Lady in the new millennium.

I began thanking God for giving me the courage to face my fears and accept responsibility for the consequences when I was at fault. When I recall the early days after my first trip to Medjugorje in 1998, I was filled with fear. When I had big decisions to make, I sat in adoration of Our Lord every day for months until I felt reassured that Jesus would look after me. When I faced those tough times, I knew it would never be easy but by frequently repeating, “Jesus, I trust in you,” I felt an extraordinary grace and calm envelope me that was not self-generated.

As I progressed spiritually, I contemplated the sorrows emanating from dark and deep places in the recesses of my mind—places I never wanted to go. I began a long and arduous journey of forgiveness toward my abuser, which culminated many years later in a prayer for his soul as I knelt beside his grave. The gift of tears resolved the trauma I had held inside me and gently opened up my respiratory system.

My childhood stammer began to dissipate. By 2005 it had been healed, and my life became free and enriched with confidence. For the first time, I was able to speak in public without experiencing high anxiety levels.

Miracles Happen!

Throughout all those years, I was sustained by grace to serve the poor and displaced in Bosnia–Herzegovina. In December of each year, displaced families moved into their new homes—our gift to them. As I watched the children growing in character, strength and confidence and the adults settling down to a dignified life once again, I saw miracles happen when people gave without counting the cost. I was in awe at the amazing things God did for His poor and forgotten. His generosity is matchless.

In the richness of God’s mercy, the gaping hole left in my heart because I could not have children was filled with the tender love from little hearts all over Bosnia–Herzegovina.

When I left behind the hurt, hatred, anger and disappointment, I encountered love everywhere. Because I walked with God I was no longer afraid to accept embraces and affection from the most vulnerable of the displaced people, particularly those who had mental health problems and physical deformities. As my trust in Jesus grew, I experienced Him in every situation. Sometimes my heart burned with love as I opened it to comfort and care for the broken, sick, maimed and dying.

Never Give Up Hope

My time in Bosnia–Herzegovina was the most enriching 15 years of my life. Our Lord, Jesus, and His Blessed Mother, Mary, had taught me about the primary importance of the salvation and conversion of souls and how to forgive, to love and to accept people for who they are. I pray for all God’s children regardless of their beliefs.

The steadfast faith amid the suffering of Catholics in Bosnia–Herzegovina inspired me to tell their stories in “Journey of Ten Thousand Smiles.” I did not know how to start but after three years of prayer God showed me how to relate the harrowing traumas they had experienced without being repulsive. He gave me the descriptive words and detailed memories to put their compelling stories onto paper. It still amazes me that “Journey of Ten Thousand Smiles” has gone around the world, bringing incredible peace and hope to many people who had been unable to accept God’s will in their lives.

Even in these hard times, when so many good values we have known in our lives are being challenged, shattered and discarded by many, we must never stop praying or give up hope. I look back and ponder on the miracle that the people of Bosnia–Herzegovina witnessed in their darkest days—then marvel at the Father who kept His promise to His children.

Let us move forward into a new year together in prayer, hope and faith with a mother we are blessed to call Our Lady and a Father who is infinitely full of mercy and love. He wants nothing more than salvation for all His children.

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Patricia Keane

©Patricia Keane is the author of the critically acclaimed book “Journey of Ten Thousand Smiles” and is an inspirational speaker and witness to her inner healing in Medjugorje. She hosts a weekly programme, Health and Faith Matters on Radio Maria and blogs at www.journeyoftenthousandsmiles.org. Patricia received two International Awards for her humanitarian work with the ethnically displaced families of Bosnia-Herzegovina through her tireless work with the charity Rebuild for Bosnia.

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