Category Archive: Meant to Be Miracles

A Meant-to-Be Meeting Becomes A Great Gift to Our Family

   7 15 reunion fireworks

Celebrating 28 years of O’Keefe Reunions, the result of a long-ago meant-to-be meeting between cousins! 

Nearly thirty years ago, my husband Dan happened to be in Arizona on a business trip. He decided to reconnect with his cousin Greg, who he didn’t see much due to thousands of miles of distance between them. During a delightful visit over a few beers, the two men reminisced about the couple of times their two families had vacationed together, not far from Superior, Wisconsin, where Greg’s mom and Dan’s dad (who are siblings) grew up.  Dan and Greg’s long-ago nostalgic meant-to-be conversation became the impetus for starting a family tradition of every-other year family reunions that has enabled once-distant cousins and their offspring to become great friends.

The first reunion occurred over a long July weekend, in 1986.  I had only met Greg and his two brothers once or twice before then. Similarly, I barely knew any of Dan’s other cousins, and wouldn’t  have been able to recognize any of them on a street corner.  This was very different from what I was used to with my own huge family, especially on my mother’s side, since most of her relatives still lived in Minnesota. We often saw each other at large gatherings which included 42 first cousins, plus many second, third and once (or more) removed ones.  When Dan and Greg decided to have an O’Keefe family reunion, I was excited that our children would now get to know more of Dan’s side of our family.

Dan’s father and his two surviving sisters (one brother had already died) and their spouses were thrilled to gather with their children and grandchildren at a resort near Cable Wisconsin. Over pot luck dinners, evening bonfires, long pontoon rides and just hanging out on the beach, the O’Keefe cousins reconnected with each other. And their spouses and children got to know a new extended family.   Thanks to the organizational leadership of another cousin, Barb, every now week-long reunion since then has become even more fun than the previous one.

Dan’s father and all his O’Keefe aunts and uncles are no longer with us. His mother Liz, at 89, is the last remaining member of her generation.  She loved being with the many members of a family that has been hers for nearly 65 years. She especially loved welcoming the five newest additions to her clan:

7 15 grandma and girls

 

 

Barb, Greg and Dan, along with their other cousins and spouses, plus their children and grandchildren, all treasure the times they have with each other, not only at the reunion, but whenever else they can see each other. Had Greg and Dan not gone out for beers that long-ago evening, none of us would have the precious memories of so many meaningful times together as an extended family.

It’s never too late to start a new tradition, especially for families who don’t see each other often.  I encourage anyone who feels inclined to reconnect with family (and/or old friends!) to do it.  You are hearing that message for a reason. Responding to it will be a great gift, not only for you, but for your children and grandchildren!

 

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A Christmas Meant-to-Be Miracle Story

                                                                                              Merry Christmas!

                                                   http://hohulinc.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/acc_marbles_bag.jpg

On this special day, I’d like to give you the gift of a story from my book, Meant-to-Be Moments: Discovering What We are Called to Do and Be. In this true story, a caring woman, Cathy Svacina, heeded an intuitive prompting she didn’t understand and ended up helping a desperate mother find the perfect Christmas gift for her young daughter:

The Marble Lady

We never know when the chance to show love to another person will present itself, but when we open our hearts to the possibilities, the opportunities are there, especially after we ask for them. That was true for Cathy, “the Marble Lady,” who helped a distressed mother find the perfect last- minute Christmas gift for her daughter. Here’s her story:

I was a stay-at-home mother of five facing an upcoming divorce. Without a completed college degree, I scraped by financially by waitressing, housecleaning, and doing childcare. However, I was still trying to set an example of community service for my children, so I was doing presentations about marble play at schools free of charge. I also was researching and working on a simple little booklet to help preserve the wholesome, traditional game of marbles. Having put aside my quarters from my waitressing tips for over a year, I finally was able to self-publish my small booklet, Knuckles Down: A Fun Guide to Marble Play. I could afford to print only one thousand copies, but I planned to donate

many of them to grade-school libraries and historical societies because at the time, you couldn’t find marbles at stores anymore, and there was very little information available in research materials about them. Quite literally, Americans were about to lose their marbles!

One day, just as I was backing out of the drive- way to go to work, the UPS truck turned in and delivered my first box of the marble books. I was in a rush, so I threw them in the trunk of my car and went on to the restaurant. That night I had a table of twelve people from all over the United States. They were a lively group! I asked them what brought them all together and they said I wouldn’t believe them if they told me. “I’ve got five children,” I said. “Try me!” They said they were there for a marbles auction! When I told them I had just writ- ten a book on marbles, I saw two of the men wink at each other as if they didn’t believe me and thought I was just going for a bigger tip. I took their orders, then ran out the back door to my car and grabbed a book from the box in the trunk. I served them their drinks along with a copy of my book. The women in the group cheered and the members of the Marble Collectors Society of America bought two hundred and fifty of my books that night! They also invited me to speak at their upcoming Boston convention.

It was meant to be. My books arrived just as I was heading to work, where I waitressed just one night a week. My serving section was swamped,

but the boss asked me to take on the big group from another section, saying that if anyone could handle them, I could. They weren’t staying at our hotel and had come to our restaurant because they were tired of the food at their hotel down the street. And that night was only the beginning. Several marble miracles have occurred that continue to answer my prayers many times over.

One of those miracles happened while I was alone organizing marbles in my marble room. I plainly heard a voice direct me to put together a beautiful bag of marbles. I looked up to see who spoke to me but no one was there. Nevertheless, the voice had been so clear that I got my finest draw- string velvet bag with embroidered flowers on it and filled it with beautiful marbles. I carried that bag around for the next three or four days, not knowing why. Then, just three days before Christmas, a meeting at church was cancelled due to a child’s illness. Since I had some extra time before my next meeting, I went across the street to the Dollar Store to look for last-minute Christmas items.

While I was in line waiting to pay for my things, a woman came rushing into the store and asked the clerk where their marbles were. He apologetically told her they had no marbles. She insisted they must have some marbles and again he apol- ogized and told her they had none. At that point, she started to cry. I tapped her on the shoulder and said, “Ma’am, I have some marbles you can have.”

Between her sobs she asked who I was. As I took the bag from my purse I told her, “I’m the Marble Lady!” Seeing the marbles, she sobbed even harder and asked for my email so she could explain later because she had to rush off right then.

That night I received an email from her:

Dearest Marble Lady,

My little girl, Michaela, is our adopted daughter. We just finalized her adoption on the fourth of November. While in foster care, she experienced horrendous physical, sexual, and mental abuse no one should ever experience, let alone a three-year-old child. Michaela came to live with us at age three and a half, and is now five years old. She has made tremendous progress and continues to progress and heal daily. She is pure, non- materialistic, and she loves the Lord.

For the last week, I have been looking all over town for marbles for her. That’s all she wants for Christmas— just marbles! I looked everywhere, but I couldn’t find them anywhere. I was very upset. The night before I saw you, I prayed that the dear Lord would help me find marbles for my little girl. The next day, something told me to go to the Dollar Store, and you know the rest of the story. Now, how many times have you been in line at the Dollar Store needing marbles, and the lady behind you happens to have a bag of them in her purse? This was Divine intervention and you were an angel for my daughter this Christmas. I can’t thank you enough!”

I keep her email in my journal, and ever since I received it, I ask God in my daily morning prayer to help me tune in to anyone nearby that might need my help! That prayer has been answered over and over; I have learned not to question that still, small voice when it speaks to me! And, I’ve stayed connected with Michaela’s mom, who says that she still plays with her marbles. I will be sending Michaela a very special bag this Christmas!

—Cathy Svacina

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A Meant-to-Be Moment Song Sign From My Father

Today is December 11, 2014, the day my second book, Meant-to-Be Moments: Discovering What We are Called to Do and Be, is being launched on Amazon. In conjunction with this event, I have been on several radio shows discussing ‘meant-to-be moments”.   Today, on the third interview of the day (things in threes are often ‘meant-to-be’ to me), the host took a break and played an Irish song, in honor of my Irish heritage. As I heard the words of the Irish Rovers sing their signature song, The Unicorn Song, my eyes filled with tears. My now-deceased dad loved the Irish Rovers, along with Tommy Makem and the Clancy Boys, the popular Irish group. For some unknown reason, the host of the show happened to mention how he liked the Clancy Boys, even though he is Jewish, not Irish.  When I was in high school, my dad often played both The Unicorn Song and many of his favorite Clancy Boys songs on Saturdays while we did our chores around the house. So hearing this song on a significant day like today was a touching ‘thin place’ moment for me, reminding of his continued love and presence in my life.

And speaking of the book launch, here’s my shameless marketing effort: When you purchase Meant-to-Be Moments today, Dec. 11, your name will be entered into drawings for a variety of prices and a free PDF of my first book, Thin Places: Where Faith is Affirmed and Hope Dwells.  Please check my website for prize details: www.marytreacyokeefe.com or visit my Facebook page for Mary Treacy O’Keefe. You can learn more about the book, including reviews and purchase information via this link to Amazon:  http://tinyurl.com/knw852c.  Thank you!!

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Book Launch For Meant-to-Be Moments on Nov. 18, 2014 in St. Paul, MN

FINAL Meant to Be Moments cover copy

Please join me at the book launch for Meant-to-Be Moments: Discovering  What We are Called to Do and Be, at 7pm, November 18, 2014 at Assumption Church, lower level, 51 W. 7th St. W, St. Paul, MN.

Here’s a story that opens my book, about the first time I experienced a meant-to-be moment in my own life:

“Get out of the car,” a voice inside me whispered one cold Minnesota evening as my boyfriend and I sat talking in his car in front of my parents’ home. Not wanting to explain to Dan (now my husband of more than forty years) that I was hearing voices, I ignored it. But when that voice became an urgent command, “Get out of the car, NOW!” I obeyed. Moments after my perplexed date and I were safely inside the house, a drunk driver smashed into Dan’s car and sent it careening into the neighbor’s yard.

There was an explanation for the accident: the driver drank too much, lost control of his car, and drove headlong into ours. Yet the voice I heard seemed meant to be: it saved our lives. But where had the voice come from? Had it been luck? My overactive imagination? Or was it the “still, small voice” that Scripture says comes from God? (1 Kings 19:12 KJV)

Since that long-ago incident and others like it, I’ve wondered: Are some experiences meant to be? Does God really call us to be a certain way and do certain things? Is there really a Divine master plan? And if so, what is our role in the plan?

 

My second book, Meant-to-Be Moments:Discovering What We are Called to Do and Be contains fifty-five inspiring and hope-filled stories along a four-part process for finding meaning within your own meant-to-be moments. If you are in or near the Twin Cities, I hope to see you tomorrow night! If not, the book is now available on Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com.  Watch for more news about the Amazon book launch, with prizes, to be held on Dec. 10.  And please continue to email me at mtbstories@gmail.com, with any meant-to-be stories to be considered for publication in my next book! Thank you!

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Meant-to-Be Penny from Heaven from Mom

                                            10 01 mom and sisters

Our mom, Terry Culligan Treacy, with my sisters and me, taken the year before she died.

May 1, 2014

Twelve years ago today, my beloved mother died of a infection, less than three months after we buried our father. As many of you know, I wrote about the time before, during and after their deaths in my first book, Thin Places: Where Faith is Affirmed.  After she died, one of the ‘thin place’ signs some of us noticed was what she (and many others) called “pennies from heaven,” when someone finds a single penny and interprets it as a comforting message from a deceased loved one.  It’s as if that person is letting their family member or friend know that they are okay and still with them in spirit.

Since then, whenever I drop a penny, I leave it on the ground. My hope is that a grieving person finds it and is also comforted by the coin.  So today, when I dropped a penny on the floor near the cash register at Whole Foods, I thought of mom, on this special anniversary, and didn’t pick up the penny.   About an hour later, I was at another store, several miles away, waiting in line to pay for my purchase. I happened to look down.  There was tarnished penny on the store’s floor. Picking it up, I decided to keep it.  I like to think this one was meant for just for me, a penny from heaven from my mom.

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Meant-to-Be Rainbow on the Anniversary of Dad’s death

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February 6, 2014

Twelve years ago today, my father died peacefully as the rosary was said over the intercom at Our Lady of Good Counsel Cancer Home, a residential hospice (now Our Lady of Peace) in St Paul. In the midst of our grief, my nine siblings and I found great comfort after his death and less than 3 months later, when my mother died, whenever we observed what I call ‘thin place signs.’ Thin place experiences are meant-to-be moments when we feel as if the veil between this world and the next one is very ‘thin.’  Over the years, I’ve learned that one of the most common after-death thin places is seeing rainbows after a loved one died.

In my first book, Thin Places: Where Faith is Affirmed and Hope Dwells, I wrote about how my soul friend, Terry, (who I call “Beth” in my book), also lost her father, George, on February 6, the year after my dad died. As you can read in the excerpt from Thin Places below, we both were comforted after seeing vertical rainbows we call “sun dogs” that eventually formed a rainbow, on the day after her dad died.  This morning, as we do nearly every February 6, Terry and I were to meet at 7am mass, in memory of our beloved Irish-Catholic fathers.  Today, just like 11 years ago, I was late for mass. Despite knowing I’d likely miss the entire service, I went anyway to see Terry.  After saying a silent prayer together at a side altar, we wondered aloud if anything exciting would happen on this significant day.  I silently asked God and my deceased dad for another sun dog ‘sign’ to reassure me of my father’s continued presence in my life.  Later that morning, my prayer was answered.

Less than a half hour after we’d left the church, Terry called and said she had seen a vibrant sun dog in the shape of a single vertical rainbow as she drove to her office. I told her I wasn’t able to go outside to look at it just then, but if it was “meant to be,” I would see a sun dog later.  When I first left the building I was in, there was no sign of a sun dog or rainbow, just a brilliant sun in a cloudless sky.

About two hours later, I stopped for coffee then decided to exercise at the YMCA. For some unknown reason, I drove right by the “Y” that was a  half-mile from Caribou Coffee shop and headed south on Robert St. in West St. Paul.  As I crossed into the adjoining small town of Inver Grove Heights, I happened to glance to my left. There there they were: two curved sun dogs that looked like they either had just been a rainbow or were about to join to create the familiar half circle.  I quickly took a photo, shown above, then the sun dogs vanished.  As I composed an email to send with the photo to Terry, I realized her dad had been mayor of Inver Grove Heights many years ago.  Because of the coincidence seeing the sun dog while driving in his hometown, I interpreted this comforting thin place sign as coming from both her father as well as from mine. George must have known I’d tell Terry, so the sign was for both of us.  Maybe our two fathers were now soul friends, in heaven, just as their daughters are now on earth. Seeing the partial sun dog rainbow reminded me of a nearly identical experience I had eleven years earlier. Below is an excerpt from Thin Places, the story of a “meant to be” thin place moment that also involved a sun dog:

The Celtic Rainbow

From Thin Places: Where Faith is Affirmed and Hope Dwells

There are only two ways to live life:

One is as though nothing were a miracle.

The other is as though everything were a miracle.

                           —Albert Einstein

February 5, 2003

I anticipated my friend Beth’s call moments before the telephone rang.  When caller ID displayed her familiar number, my intuition was confirmed. I had just been thinking about Beth—praying, actually—knowing what she was facing in the days ahead. Her father was dying, just as mine had been, this same time last year.

“Oh, Beth, I was just thinking about you,” I said as I picked up the phone. “How are you doing?”

“It’s hard—as you know. It won’t be long. The doctor said Dad could go at any time, maybe tonight, maybe tomorrow. But because of the Alzheimer’s, I almost feel like we lost him long ago.”

“I’m so sorry you have to go through this.” I hesitated, not entirely sure how she would react to what I was about to say. Yet from our many soul-searching conversations, I knew Beth is deeply spiritual. She, like me, looks for ways God is present in our daily lives. She, like me, often finds the good in even the most difficult situations. So I said what I was thinking. “You know your father will be at peace. And if he goes tomorrow, it would be like a sign, wouldn’t it? As sad as his death will be for you, don’t you think it would be significant if your father dies on the same day as mine did? Then maybe our fathers will be spiritual friends, just like you and I are now.”

“I like that thought.” I could hear the smile in her response.

February 6, 2003

Beth’s father did die the following day. The coincidence of losing our fathers on February 6 comforted both of us. Maybe they were together now and would become soul friends, just as their daughters had. Perhaps they were already communicating as Beth and I often did: without words.

Beth (not her real name) is my anam cara, a Gaelic term that means “soul friend.” One of the many gifts of our soul friendship is that she has helped me become closer to God. In his book of the same name, theologian and poet John O’Donohue describes an anam cara as “one of the most beautiful concepts in the Celtic tradition … a person to whom you could reveal the hidden intimacies of your life.” With an anam cara, “your friendship cuts across all convention and category. You were joined in an ancient and eternal way with the friend of your soul.”

Beth and a few other special friends had given me emotional and spiritual support during the sad events of the past year. Now she would experience her own loss, grief, and sorrow as her father’s life came to an end. My heart ached for what she was going through, and for the grief that still lay ahead.

Thank God she still has her mother, I thought. I wish I still had mine.

The past year and a half had been filled with bittersweet memories for me; some brought comfort and others brought tears. The final visits with Dad in the hospital, and later at the hospice, were both touching and sad for our family. After he died, all of us tried to, but really could not, help Mom adjust to living in a house that seemed more than empty without her husband of more than fifty years. Then, before we could recover from Dad’s death, we lost Mom. I still cannot believe they’re both gone. I still pick up the phone to call them before the futility of the effort dawns on me.

Yet in the months after my parents’ deaths, when tears still came uninvited, our family had several experiences that affirmed what we believe: that our parents were happy, at peace, and still with us in spirit. On their birthdays and anniversaries, we saw rainbows and heard their favorite songs. Many such incidents occurred, it seemed, to help us heal. Whenever these signs appeared, we felt connected to the God who, we believed, orchestrated them. I hoped that Beth’s family also would experience these signs that brought so much comfort and peace to ours.

A few hours after Beth’s call, my family gathered for Mass and a dinner to honor the one-year anniversary of our father’s death. During the meal, one of my siblings asked if anyone had noticed anything unusual during the day. Since Beth is also a friend to several of us, we mentioned her father’s death. But other than that, nothing out of the ordinary had occurred.

As I lay in bed that night, I mentally visited with Dad, as I often do. This time, I made a request: Dad, will you ask God to send us a sign to let us know you’re still with us? Oh, and please ask for one to be sent to Beth’s family, so they will know their father is OK too. I didn’t know whether he could hear my thoughts, but I felt close to him in saying the words.

February 7, 2003

At 6:40 the following morning, I awoke suddenly—startled, as when you think your alarm clock didn’t go off. Instantly, I felt I must go to Mass at the church where we held Dad’s funeral Mass. The feeling wasn’t a direct command, but I knew what it meant: Go to 7:00 a.m. Mass today. Yet I argued with my instinct: But it’s not even Sunday. And it’s too cold outside. A second later, the masculine radio voice that typically wakes me proclaimed a temperature that was harsh even by Minnesota’s standards: “It’s fifteen below zero today. With the wind chill, it’s about twenty-six below. Bundle up, folks.” I snuggled even further under the covers. No way am I going out in this freezing weather.

But when the intuitive feeling persisted, I knew I had to go. Over the years, I’ve learned to trust my intuition. So even though I would be late for Mass, I threw on a sweatshirt and a pair of jeans, grabbed a jacket, stuffed my pockets with a pair of gloves, and drove to Assumption Church in downtown St. Paul.

Entering the church as Father John Malone lifted the communion host over his head to consecrate the body and blood of Christ, I hoped he wouldn’t see me slip into Mass so late. Why am I here? I asked the question like it was a prayer. Maybe Father Malone will say something especially profound in his homily. But then I remembered he doesn’t give a homily at his weekday Masses. The services ended just minutes after I had arrived. I whined to God as if I were a petulant child: What was the point of dragging myself down here?

Driving home, I noticed what seemed to be a vertical rainbow, a single tower of iridescent colors—a phenomenon some call a sun dog. I instantly dialed Beth on my cell phone to tell her to look out her window. Beth views rainbows as a sign of the Divine, as I and countless others do. She and I had heard stories of how rainbows often appear after someone has died. Rainbows validated our belief that nature often is a manifestation of God’s gracious design. Maybe seeing the resplendent light would comfort her at this distressing time. I felt certain that this was the sign I had asked for the night before.

When Beth didn’t answer, I left a message, hoping she would retrieve it in time to see this beautiful sign of hope. Wanting to capture it in case she missed it, I headed home to get my camera. Driving around my neighborhood, I tried to find just the right vantage point. At a pond near our home, I noticed something unusual about the sun dog. Instead of radiating far off in the distance, the filaments of color were shining directly in front of me. Tiny particles of bright light flickered in front of nearby shrubs, not behind them, as you would expect with a rainbow. Later that day, my sister Maureen said she too had noticed this phenomenon.

I took a few photos, then drove to another spot near a small, snow-covered lake and marveled to see yet a second rainbow of the same size and shape, now parallel to the first. Next, at a park where Beth and I often walk, I saw that the two erect beams of light had joined, forming a more familiar rainbow shape. The sun shone brightly in the middle of the half circle created by the arch. I had never seen a rainbow that framed the sun. The radiant light was too much for my camera, which refused to work. Trying for a better angle, I noticed a bird feeder on a pole. Thinking the pole might diffuse the brightness, I positioned myself so the sun was behind the feeder. With one eye squinting through the viewfinder, I was thrilled that the entire rainbow could be seen in the tiny square. In the past, when I had photographed a rainbow, I could never fit the whole scene into the picture (shown above).

I dropped off the film for one-hour developing and went home. Beth called, saying she had received my message forty-five minutes after I left it. “I was disappointed because I couldn’t see the rainbow out my window, so I assumed I had missed it,” she said. “But I was wrong.” Minutes after listening to the message, Beth left her home to go to a final meeting at the nursing home where her father had died. Within a mile, she saw the sun dog shape I had described. It was in the distance, in the direction of her destination. As she approached the nursing home, the vertical rainbow hovered over the building. The base of it appeared to touch the ground in front of her. The sight of it comforted her, and reassured her that her father was at peace.

“I think I got it in on film,” I told Beth. “At least I got a picture of the rainbow I saw. If the photo turns out, I’ll bring it to you later.” Ordinarily, my photos are never as beautiful as the real-life scene. But this one not only turned out, it proved to be especially poignant. I had captured the entire rainbow, end to end, on the four-by-six-inch photo. Inside the rainbow the sun was not its normal round shape. With the bird feeder in front of it, the diffused light appeared in the shape of a cross. Knowing Beth would love this image, I made a copy for her, and for her mother and siblings.

Later that day, when I brought the photo to her house, Beth found it as comforting as I did. We chatted for a few minutes, then she quickly rose from the sofa and dashed out of the living room, with a quick “I’ll be right back.” When she returned, she held a Celtic cross, the symbol those of us of Irish descent know so well: a cross whose center is surrounded by a circle. “Look, this photo looks just like the Celtic cross!” Beth said excitedly. “And wouldn’t it just be like our two Irish fathers to send us this sort of sign! I’ll bet they’re both looking down on us right now, smiling.”

“I just got goosebumps,” I told her.

“So did I!”

We realized that the bird feeder also was significant. Our fathers had loved watching birds at their many backyard feeders. When I told Beth the cardinal was Dad’s favorite bird, she said, “My father loved them too. He would often whistle and call to the cardinals and they would sing back to him.” (As I write these words on a cold December day, a male cardinal suddenly lands on the branch of the tree outside my window. There’s no feeder on this small bare tree, yet the songbird is in no hurry to leave. He looks at me through the window for several seconds. Maybe it’s just a coincidence that my father’s favorite bird lingers in front of me as I write about his love of cardinals. Maybe not. But I feel as if God and Dad are here with me at this moment.)

For me, the appearance of the “Celtic rainbow,” as my brother Paul has named the photo, was a sign, a thin-place experience, and for several reasons. First, I’m convinced that nature is filled with thin-place phenomena, examples of God’s artistry on earth. Second, had I not responded to my intuition and gone to Mass that chilly Friday morning, I never would have seen the rainbow. The experience validated the importance of listening to the voice that speaks within my heart. The event reaffirmed that incredible gifts and spiritual lessons often become apparent when we obey an inner command, especially without understanding its meaning or purpose. Third, seeing the rainbow reminded me how connected we are to family, friends, and even strangers who have died. Just as scripture promises, love is eternal.

 

DO YOU HAVE A “MEANT TO BE” /THIN PLACE STORY TO SHARE? PLEASE FEEL FREE TO COMMENT HERE OR EMAIL ME AT MARY.TREACY.OKEEFE@GMAIL.COM IF YOU’D LIKE TO HAVE YOUR STORY CONSIDERED FOR MY NEXT BOOK, MEANT TO BE: DISCOVERING WHAT WE ARE CALLED TO BE AND DO.

TO ORDER A PERSONALIZED COPY OF Thin Places: Where Faith is Affirmed and Hope, please visit my  website www.marytreacyokeefe.com.

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A Meant to Be Miracle Comforts My Family

                                 Where there is great Love there are always Miracles        Willa Cather

Eleven years ago today, on May 1 2002, my mother died. She developed a sudden infection that took her life less than three months after my father succumbed to lung cancer. The loss of both our parents was devastating to my nine siblings and me. Yet a series of meant to be miracles I now call “thin places” provided comforting reassurance that our parents were reunited with each other, and also were spiritually connected to all of us. In my first book, Thin Places: Where Faith is Affirmed and Hope Dwells, I wrote about one of the most significant thin place signs that occurred two days after mom died.

On May 3, my brother Peter was going through photos and memorabilia, as were all of us, to put together collage posters for mom’s wake.  He found a birthday card, which mom had mailed to Dad for his 30th birthday on May 5, 1959.  None of us had seen the card before and that it had survived a fire which destroyed my parents’ home in 1987 was a miracle in itself. Check this link to see the card:  5 1 13 mom’s birthday card to dad 1959.

Dad had moved to Minnesota with my two younger brothers, while mom remained in Phoenix, with my two sisters and me, until she sold our family home there. As you can see from the card, she wrote:

My dearest,

I hope this will be your last birthday that we can’t spend together. I love  you darling, so very much.

Terry

Dad died on Feb. 6, 2002.  Mom’s wake was on May 5, what would have been Dad’s 75th birthday.  They never did spend another of his birthdays apart.  I shared this story during the eulogy at my mother’s funeral. It’s a meant to be/thin place story that has not only comforted our family, but, I’m told, many others who have lost loved ones. Please feel free to share it with others.

Rest in peace, dear mom.

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Meant to Be Miracles: A Whisper from Ireland

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Recently I wrote about the still small voice that nearly shouted a lifesaving message, warning me to get out of my boyfriend’s a car just before it was hit by drunk driver, nearly 42 years ago. Last week, the voice was just a whisper, encouraging me to leave a Zumba class five minutes before it ended. After many years of heeding these inner messages, I now try (although not always successfully) to obey it despite not knowing the meaning of the nudge. As I entered the locker room at my local “Y,” I wondered why my intuition compelled me to leave before cooling down at the end of the class. My husband Dan was spending a few days in our beloved Ireland before a business trip to London,so I thought maybe he was trying to reach me. As I reached into my locker to remove my purse, my cell phone rang. Seeing his familiar number on the caller ID, I answered with “It’s happened again, Dan. Just when I was thinking about you, your call came in.” When I explained how I’d left class early, he laughed and teased me for “getting inside his head” once again. This was a minor meant to be moment, nothing dramatic. I’m not sure if the whisper was really from Dan in Ireland, or a gentle nudge from the Divine. But every time my intuition proves to be accurate, it’s another reminder to continue paying attention to the still small voice within me.

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Meant to Be Miracles: Remembering the still small voice that saved our lives

There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle.   The other is as though everything is a miracle.                     — Albert Einstein

As a writer, I’m often asked if I have a blog. Until today, I said something like, “No, but my radio show is like a blog for me, as an extrovert who struggles with the solitary process of writing.” But now that I have more time to enjoy writing, I’m excited to have created this “real” blog. Many people write blog posts, then use them to create a book.  I guess I’m doing this backwards. I’ve nearly completed my second book, tentatively titled Meant to Be: Do Things Really Happen for a Reason?, and look forward to sharing some of the 55 stories contained in it here.

The first time I observed a “meant to be” experience, I was eighteen years old.  Parked outside my parents’ home in my boyfriend’s car, Dan and I were chatting and, well, “making out.” We were having such a good time that when I heard an inner voice say “Get out of the car,” I refused to listen to it. It spoke again, this time so urgently I had to obey: “Get out of the car NOW!”   When I told Dan we had to go inside, he asked why. I didn’t want to tell him I’d heard a voice in my head. Instead, I replied, “I don’t know why. We just have to get out of the car.”

Less than five minutes later, we were taking off our coats in the front hall of my house. Suddenly, there was a loud crash. Racing to the window to see what happened, we then ran outside to check on the driver who had just rammed a beat up green Ford into the back of Dan’s rusted Buick, which now blocked the sidewalk adjoining the neighbor’s yard.  A young man, no older than us, staggered out of the car, dazed and drunk, but unhurt. Later, Dan (now my husband of nearly 40 years) and I realized that had I not responded to the mental warning, both of us likely would have been injured or perhaps killed.

At the time I wondered how I could be so smart, telling myself to get out of the car and thus saving our lives. It never crossed my mind that it might be a message from the Divine or from the guardian angel my mother asked to take care of her ten children every day.  But over the years, as I began to question my parents’ strong faith and wondered whether there really was a loving God, I remembered hearing the still small voice. I realized it was no accident it spoke just before Dan’s car was destroyed.  The meant to be message became the first time I experienced a “thin place,” when the veil is very thin between this world and the next one. Since that long ago event, I’ve heard and observed hundreds–maybe thousands–of meant to be incidents. Some are dramatic miracles, others everyday ones, each a reminder of God’s presence in our daily lives. I look forward to sharing these stories and anecdotes here. And I invite you to share your own “meant to be” and “thin place” stories with me, either as a comment below or, for long ones, please email me at mary@marytreacyokeefe.com.

 

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