Friday, October 28, 2011

My Conversion Story - updated

This is not a feel good story. But I've been feeling the need to share it all, and there must be a reason for that, so here it is.

I had a difficult childhood. I was almost aborted. My mother was brave and walked out of the clinic despite heavy pressure. But, being born to a newly 17 year old girl came with a lot of struggles in my life. My bio father was absent. I had 3 stepfathers before I was a teen. I suffered abuses.

Whenever possible, I would escape home life by visiting my grandparents. My grammy loved to yard sale and I'd go with her pretty often. When I was around 8, I picked up a crucifix key chain at one of the yard sales and asked her to buy it for me. I took it with me everywhere. My family wasn't Catholic, but I loved this little keychain. My step dad would tease me for having it and would jokingly ask if I was Catholic.

I kept it on a shelf in my closet, where I kept all my treasures. I sat in my closet to read sometimes. Most of the time, though, I was there to hide. It was a comfort to be tucked away from it all. When I was especially scared I'd hold my crucifix and gaze at Jesus.

After a few years, I eventually succumbed to the teasing and got rid of the keychain.

As a teen I church hopped with friends, went through an agnostic period, then church hopped some more. A few of those friends were Catholics. I was confused as to why my family wasn't Catholic and for some reason, wished we were, even though I had spent only a handful of Sundays in the Church. I loved the traditions, the prayers, the depictions of Jesus. They comforted me. I felt at peace when I was there. I loved seeing the wonderful things Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II did throughout the world on TV. And throughout my depression, my vampire obsession, my teen rage, (which was expressed through angry music, dark clothing, and cutting myself), I felt called to something else. I truly can say that I felt a pull to the Church then, but I didn't understand it and I certainly didn't listen.

I have always been pro-life, by default, I guess, I think down deep in my soul, I knew I was almost aborted even though I hadn't been told the story yet. I always had a literal view of sex that my mom instilled in me, "Don't want a baby? Don't have sex." When I was 19 I started volunteering for the Arizona Right to Life. At that time I was not going to any church, and truthfully, the rallies with Christian music and prayers were very uncomfortable for me. I had finally started getting out of my funk, was working with children, which is what I loved and was truly good at, and things were going well.

When I was 20 I met a guy and he proposed a few months later. I left my job and Phoenix to move in with him in Flagstaff.

Just after I had moved in with him, my great grandma died and my mom and I had a huge falling out. It was then she told me that I was almost aborted. But she used the story to hurt me. I took every pill in my apartment to hurt her in retaliation. Just as I was about to pass out from the pills, I called 911, and an ambulance took me to the hospital. When they release me that evening, I looked at life differently. I saw the beauty in the world, in simple things like wildflowers, clouds, and even the hospital bracelet that reminded me of how precious life is.

After all of that, 9-11 happened. We were married the next month. It all happened so quickly because at the time I believed I might have endometriosis and was afraid I wouldn't be able to have children if I waited. I couldn't imagine not being a mother. We conceived a baby the day after Christmas of that year, after being married for not even 2 months.

I had gone to a midwife's practice and when she confirmed my pregnancy she asked me if it was okay. I was shocked. Yes, I was young, but I was married, and yes, it was "okay." But being a college town, I'm assuming they're not used to someone being happy about a pregnancy. I was ecstatic. I had the normal symptoms, I took my vitamins religiously, but when I went for my first ultrasound to see the heartbeat, my world came crashing down. The baby wasn't alive. There was no heartbeat. The midwife was cold and bluntly told me, "oh, I guess you're going to miscarry." I was heartbroken. I told her that I wanted a second opinion, and that I would like to wait for it all to happen naturally. She was not happy with me for that, for some reason, but after her behavior, I switched to a doctor at another practice, and he helped me the right way. I had a series of ultrasounds to be sure that the baby was not alive. He assured me that he was "in the business of life, not in the business of death" and that he would never, ever recommend a D&C if he was not 100% certain the baby wasn't alive. I told him I still wanted to wait it out. By this time I was going on around week 12 or 13 of my pregnancy, and he told me he would not let me go past 15 weeks because I could end up septic. So I agreed, and scheduled the D&C for 15 weeks, figuring things would happen naturally before then.

The day before my scheduled D&C, I started bleeding. A lot. I was in so much pain and bleeding so much, that I called my husband home from work. He was angry. He told me I was fine. He wouldn't really even help me until the bleeding got so bad that I couldn't leave the bathroom. I sent him to buy a heating pad and he threw a fit. After about 12 hours, I started blacking out. I ended up in the emergency room and I was dilated, so thankfully they didn't have to dilate me manually, but they tried to finish it while I was awake and without medication. It was far too painful. The nurse who was helping carried over a little jar, then walked out of the room while saying, "Okay, I've got the spaceman." At the time I didn't realize what she meant. I was in too much pain and was crying too much. But now I realize that she carried my baby out in that jar with a callous, joking attitude. It haunts me to this day. I had to be put under to finish it. The pregnancy ended up being a rare and strange problem, called a partial molar pregnancy, which, to this day, I still don't understand.

Once I recovered physically, I was in a daze. I couldn't handle being around children, pregnant women, or anyone, really. My husband told me repeatedly that he was happy the baby had died, that he wasn't ready for a kid, even though we intentionally conceived that baby. I was really confused and heartbroken.

While out running errands one day, I felt like I needed to go to church. I went to a Lutheran Church first, but the doors were locked. I drove around a bit more and finally ended up at the old gothic style Catholic Church in downtown Flagstaff. The doors were open. I sat in the pews, gazed up at Jesus, and cried. From then on, I couldn't pass that church without going in to sit and pray.

Hard to resist this kind of beauty, even if it is pink. :)
We moved back to Phoenix and we started going to church, and I started researching doctrine. Not only the Catholic Church, but many churches. I read, I studied, I compared, and when it came down to it, I felt most comfortable in the Church and agreed with the doctrine. I loved that Catholics were so actively pro-life, especially. But I could never find an RCIA class that would work with my work schedule.

My marriage got progressively worse, my husband would scream at me for hours every night, he was controlling, and I was so scared that some day he would hurt me. (He never did, thankfully). It was just pure emotional abuse.

In 2003, I left him. I was free. I went a little wild. Dated a few guys, never went to church, but at that point if someone had asked, I would've said I was Catholic. I'm not sure why. I met Kyle in 2004 and got pregnant pretty quickly after that and moved to California with him. (Apparently I don't learn). He had told me he was Catholic (he really wasn't, he just identified that way because of his mom and grandparents), so we started looking for a church. We couldn't find one in California that wasn't totally weird. When we moved back to AZ I told him that we had done things so backwards already, that I really wanted to raise the baby in a church and be responsible parents and he agreed. We ended up at a super liberal Catholic church, which finally had an RCIA class that worked for me, and I started the process just after Amelia was born.

My RCIA class was ridiculously lacking. Luckily, I met a girl named Jessica, who I actually didn't like at first because she was too much like me, (haha!) in that she had a very strong personality and talked too much. But once I finally let that all go and started talking with her, I don't think we stopped talking for years. She would read a book about the faith, we'd discuss it. I'd read a book, we'd discuss it. We'd talk Catechism, we'd talk liturgical abuse, we talked about everything. Without her, it would've been ever harder to learn the faith. But God put her there, and having her helped me in more ways than I think she knows. I had a Church buddy to keep me accountable when I needed it. Amelia, Jessica, and I were all baptized together in April, 2006. Soon after, we moved to a more traditional parish, Jessica joined the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist in 2008, and took her final vows in August, 2016.

But I digress, luckily, an amazing priest was at this new parish, Fr. Oliver Mohan, who told me that I was not to take communion until Kyle and I were married in the Church. Wednesday night confession, rosary, divine mercy, and mass brought me so close to God. It was exactly where I needed to be while my family grew and I sought after truth.

Kyle joined RCIA in 2011. Our marriage was convalidated and then he was baptized, confirmed, and we received communion together at the Easter Vigil in 2012.

We moved to another parish after meeting our pastor, and we are still there. We miss our old parish, but it was too far of a drive. We love our new parish and where we are. Seeing our kids grow to understand the faith and truly know God is so wonderful. We have an amazing community of friends. And although I wish Kyle and I were at the same stages of our journeys, I can still see the Holy Spirit working in our lives. Even though we have had struggles in almost every aspect of our lives, The Lord has always, always provided. He has blessed us so very much, and it's up to us to appreciate it and share that with our children.

So, although my life has not been all sunshine and rainbows, I have hope that it is the difficulties that will sanctify me. The truth, beauty, and goodness in the Church will get us through.

Thank you, Jesus, for the Catholic Church.

(First posted 10-28-2011. Updated 9-10-2016)



  1. Thanks for sharing your story! I think we all have regrets about mistakes we made, but the important thing is that those mistakes have become learning experiences - and ones that serve to remind us of the mercy of God. :)

  2. I'm proud of you for posting this! It's not easy to be open and honest about things that are so personal.

    When we lost the baby before Xavier I was pretty much 13 or 14 weeks and I bled like crazy too, thankfully we only lived 5 minutes away from the hospital so we went as soon as I started bleeding bad. All they ever called it was a "tissue specimen", which, at the time I was like, oh whatever, must have been a clot or something. And then thinking back I remember seeing it even though they didn't want me to and it was a decent piece of "tissue". According to my doctor they didn't find any baby but I know they did. Random tangent there.

    I'm so glad you've gotten to where you are now. And you will do just fine with those girls of yours!

  3. Thank you ladies!

    That's so sad, Phronsie. It's horrible how callous some medical workers are.

  4. Hi Kara,

    We are told so many lies by the media and people. One of these lies are about the religion i belong to islam which is the most misunderstood and lied against religion in the world yet the fastest growing by far.

    This religion is founded on believing in One God, or Allah as He is called in arabic. The God of all the messengers and prophets from adam, Noah, Abraham, David, Solomon, Joseph, Moses, Zacharias, John the baptist, Jesus and finally Muhammad ( to mention a few) they were all sent to their people and was commanded by God to forward one message which is also the purpose of our creation: To testify that there is nothing worthy of worship except God alone. When the people didn't believe in them they were given miracles and these miracles were challenging what the people was known to be advanced or exceptional in at that time for example Jesus could heal the blind and ressurect the dead and this was challening his people who were known to be exceptional in the field of medicine and Moses stick turned into a snake and he had many miracles that challenged his peoplewho were known to have mastered the art of magic. The final messenger Muhammad was sent not ony to a group of people but to the whole of mankind and therefore his miracle that he was given has to be there until now since he was the last and it still is. Because people will never believe until they have proof and that is only just to give them. His miracle is the book he was given the quran, which is the uncreated spoken word of God given to Muhammad as a revalation through the angel Gabriel who by the way brought all the scriptures to the prophets (i.e the original gospels to Jesus, not the one there is today which is corrupted and have many different versions, the torah to Moses etc..) by this quran God was challenging what the people of that time was best at which was the arabic language. It has many many many miracles like for instance by giving it to an ilitterate man and this is not the only miracle. It has never been changed not even a letter! And there are many scientific facts in it ( i.e the big bang theory, the forming of the feutus in the mothers womb, the mountains holding the earth together, many facts that human beings recently discovered in the 21st century with the help of advanced technology)and it is a guidance for those who believe.

    Islam literary means to submit to the will of God and a muslim means one who submits to the will of God.
    Here is a short chapter in he quran that describes God;

    In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

    Say: He is Allah, the One and Only! Allah, the Eternal, Absolute; He begetteth not nor is He begotten. And there is none like unto Him.

    Having a personal relationship with God without any intermediaries between you and God. In islam you have a direct connection with God anytime you want you can ask Him for anything and in prayer you are talking t Him directly and when you read the quran He is talking to you through His words.

    "And behold Allah will say: "O Jesus the son of Mary Did you say to men, Worship me and my mother as gods besides Allah He will say-"Glory to you I could never say what I had no right (to say')" (Soorah Al-Maa'idah-5:116)

    "And your Lord says:"Call on Me and I will answer your(prayer)."(Soorsh Mu'min 40:60)

    "You alone do we worship and from you alone do we seek help".

  5. If you are more interested in knowing who the Creator and God Almighty isthen please read this beautiful summary;
    Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allaah have mercy on him) described the greatness of Allaah in the most beautiful way:

    "He is controlling the affairs of all the kingdoms. He commands and prohibits, creates and gives provision, and gives death and gives life. He raises and lowers peoples status, alternates night and day, gives days (good and not so good) to men by turns, and causes nations to rise and fall, so that one nation vanishes and another emerges. His command and decree are carried out throughout the heavens and on earth, above it and below it, in the oceans and in the air. He has knowledge of all things and knows the number of all things. He hears all voices, and does not mistake one for another; He hears them all, in all the different languages and with all their varied requests and pleas. No voice distracts Him from hearing another, He does not confuse their requests, and He never tires of hearing the pleas of those in need. He sees all that is visible, even the walk of a black ant across a solid rock in the darkest night.

    The unseen is visible to Him, and secrets are known to Him Whosoever is in the heavens and on earth begs of Him (its needs from Him). Every day He has a matter to bring forth (such as giving honour to some, disgrace to some, life to some, death to some, etc.)! [al-Rahmaan 55:29 interpretation of the meaning]. He forgives sins, eases worries, relieves distress, helps the defeated person back on his feet, makes the poor rich, guides the one who is astray and confused, fulfils the needs of the desperate, feeds the hungry, clothes the naked, conceals faults, and calms fears. He raises the status of some and lowers the status of others Even if all the inhabitants of heaven and earth, the first and the last of them, mankind and jinn alike, were to be as pious as the most pious among them, this would not increase His sovereignty in the slightest; if they all, the first and the last of them, mankind and jinn alike, were to be as rebellious as the most rebellious among them, this would not decrease His sovereignty in the slightest. If everything in heaven and on earth, the first and the last of them, mankind and jinn, living and dead, animate and inanimate, were to stand in one place and ask of Him, and He were to give them everything that they asked for, thiswould not decrease what He has by even an atoms weight.

    He is the First, before Whom there is nothing, and the Last, after Whom there is nothing, may He be blessed and exalted. He is the Most deserving of being remembered, the Most deserving of being worshipped, the Most deserving of being thanked. He is the Most Compassionate of kings, the Most Generous of those who are asked He is the King Who has no partner or associate, the One who has no rival, the Self-Sufficient Master, Who has no son, the Most High, and there is none like unto Him. Everything will perish save His face [al-Qasas 28:88 interpretation of the meaning], and everything will vanish except His sovereignty He will not be obeyed except by His permission, and He will not be disobeyed except with His knowledge. He is obeyed, so He shows His appreciation, and He is disobeyed, so he forgives. Every punishment on His part is justice, and every blessing from Him is a favour. He is the closest of witnesses and the nearest of protectors. He seizes people by their forelocks, records their deeds and decrees the appointed time for all things. Hearts conceal nothing from Him, for secrets are known to Him. His gift is a word and His punishment is a word: Verily, His Command, when He intends a thing, is only that He says to it, Be! and it is. [Yaa-Seen 36:82 interpretation of the meaning]. (Adapted from al-Waabil al-Sayib, p. 125)"

    Please write back and tell me what you think or if you have any comments or questions feel free to ask! Take care :-)


  6. Anab, thank you for stopping by. I'm not sure if you think I'm merely a new Catholic who is unsure about her beliefs and could be converted to islam, but I am not. I have loved and researched my faith for years. I am where God has lead me and this is where I will stay.

  7. Beautiful story, Kara! I noticed that you were in Flagstaff during 9-11. I, too, was 20 years old and living in Flagstaff during 9-11. I was on a national exchange for a year at NAU as a geology major. I just reverted to Catholicism around the same time and met my husband there. He was not Catholic at the time and converted much later. I recognize that pink church! Small world. We still love Flagstaff (husband spent all four college years there), even though we now live in Washington State.

    I am sorry for the loss of your baby and the hardships in your life. I truly do not know how anyone survives this life without God and the Church. May God continue to bless your family!

  8. Hi Elizabeth!

    That is so neat! We were the same age there at the same time! That church was such a huge part of my conversion. Without it, I would've been lost in the sorrow of my miscarriage.

    We love Flag too, but it's so congested with traffic that I get frustrated there easily. I do want to visit again soon, though.

    Thank you for stopping by and for the kind words!


"If you can't say somethin' nice... don't say nothin' at all..." ~Thumper