We Are the Same

Your skin is brown, mine is white,

We both bleed red.

You are Atheist, I am Christian,

We both believe.

You are single, I am married,

We both are happy.

You are tall, I am short,

We both see things differently.

You frown, I smile,

We both have emotions.

You have joy, I have grief,

We both rejoice and suffer.

If, we are all so much alike inside,

Why treat the outside different?

You have a house, I have an apartment,

We both have shelter.

You are a C.E.O, I am a secretary,

We both have jobs.

You are gay, I am straight,

We both have love.

You have parents, I have one

We both are loved.

You go Temple, I go to Church,

We both worship.

You laugh, I cry,

We both feel joy and sadness.

If, we are all so much alike inside,

Why treat the outside different?

My Lighthouse

Jude 22
And of some have compassion, making a difference:

Merriam-Webster defines a lighthouse as a structure (such as a tower) with a powerful light that gives a continuous or intermittent signal to navigators. My lighthouse is so much more than that. My lighthouse is Jesus and as I grow more in my faith His light shines brighter every day. I was very blessed to grow up within a ministry called The Lighhouse Mission. This mission was started many years ago when I was just a small girl. It got started by Dennis and Laura Holland, who have turned out to be pivotal people in my life. I can scarce remember a time without them. They started this mission out of the back of Dennis’ pick-up truck serving sandwiches and coffee in downtown Worcester. Having a “helping heart” I wanted to volunteer but since I was seven, I got to stay home instead. So, I went around our neighborhood with a coffee can and collected pennies for them instead. Mom volunteered and dutifully walked the streets sharing her love of Christ. Eventually we grew to a big blue bus which was used for years until the church it was started out of fell apart and we all went our separate ways.

I was around fourteen when we found Dennis and Laura and of course, the Lighthouse, in the basement of Pleasant Street Baptist. Only this time, I too could volunteer. I spent many a Tuesday and Thursday ((and then we switched to Saturdays)) pouring coffee, plating desserts, handing out food, and watching as God continued to grow this ministry and we became a family. As I got older, I spent less time there but I still always found myself there at least a few times a year witnessing and worshipping. We grew into a full grown-up ministry right around the same time as I reached early adulthood. And seeing the work we were doing ((giving bikes away, having block parties, providing Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, even giving clothes to those in need)) I saw God.
I saw God in the eyes of a little child whose name was called for a bike. I saw Him in the souls of those who volunteered from other churches. But never, have I seen God more than when works through Dennis and Laura. Dennis is kind of gruff and comes off a tad grumpy at times but I have seen this man bow his head and pray earnestly for the lost around. And Laura is just so sweet, even when she’s mad at you, she makes it hurt just a little less. But she has such a warmth and a beautiful smiles that lights the darkest day that you do everything you can just to keep her smiling.

Sadly, the Lighthouse Mission has closed its doors and Dennis and Laura no longer live nearby. But, I can just pick up the phone if I need some of Laura’s love and warmth and since I do love Dennis’ preaching I frequently watch him preach online from the pulpit in the First Baptist Church of Port Huron.
In short, I am blessed to have not one lighthouse to guide me, I have three. One is my Heavenly Father and I’ve got Dennis and Laura Holland here on earth who continue to guide others as they have always guided me towards the Lighthouse of Jesus.

Blessings,

My name is Amanda-Lyn (Aly), and I am the founder of Faith Like Mary Ministry.  I currently reside in Worcester, MA.  My husband and I have 3 boys, and both work full-time jobs.  We are blessed to be surrounded by loved ones.  My prayer is to take Faith Like Mary Ministry from my computer to around the world.  Our verse is Luke 1:46 “and Mary said, my soul doth magnify the Lord”.  I started this ministry as a Facebook page.  Originally, I thought the Facebook page would be it.  Then God laid it on my heart to get my stories of faith out into the world and share His grace and mercy with others.  And so, the Faith Like Mary Blog was born.  This ministry will be geared toward women ((sorry fellas)).  It will be used to empower women in their faith and in their personal walk with Christ.

I would like to tell you a little of how Faith Like Mary got its inspiration.  I was listening to a song sung by Francesca Batistelli called Be Born in Me.  The song is about Mary accepting to be the mother of God without question, in absolute faith.  And she was just a teenager.  At 14, I was just starting figure out this thing called life.  After my father’s passing, I thought about him and how much he loved to witness from his computer, and I got to thinking about all the souls my Dad reached for the Lord.  I pray to use this ministry to honor both my Heavenly Father and my Earthly Father.

Please encourage the men and women of your church to visit

https://faithlikemary.wordpress.com/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/263624658269329

https://www.bonfire.com/store/faith-like-mary-ministry/?fbclid=IwAR07wfIETuKtiDm1v0idPGrGnWMkNGoPNvS_862A_3-K6RBwEkjuxO8fkcA

Thank you and God Bless,

Amanda-Lyn Gasco
FLMM

Connecting to God

Exodus 15:20-21

Then Miriam the prophet, Aaron’s sister, took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women followed her, with timbrels and dancing. 21 Miriam sang to them: “Sing to the LORD, for he is highly exalted. Both horse and driver he has hurled into the sea.”

I am always singing and dancing.  Blame my parents.  I was blessed to be raised in a “musical” household.  There was always some new cantata to learn or I was playing on my flute.  The radio or cd player pretty much played non-stop.  I went to a church where dancing was not considered “appropriate”.  Imagine my surprise when I went to First Assembly and I saw dancing…in church? ok then.  At first, I felt awkward and weird.  But the more I danced, the more I realized it was my way to worship God.  We all have our own ways of connecting through God.  I use dance and singing.  When I am at my lowest and I cannot rise, I turn to my playlist of favorite worship songs.  Truth Be Told, Way maker, Chain breaker, Famous For, all of these and more help me connect and go deeply into God’s presence.

So now here it is.  Your challenge.  Spend this next week finding what brings you deeply into God’s presence ((praying, preaching, singing, meditating…whatever)) and practice, practice, practice.

Our Next Step in Faith

I have been sitting on this and praying on this for a long time.  Ironically, as I write this, Be Born in Me ((the song that inspired us)) is playing over my headphones.  I officially ((and with every ounce of faith I have)) announce the beginning of Faith Like Mary Ministry.  I pray the Lord will use this ministry to empower women ((young and old)) to follow Christ without question, without fear.  Let us women lead the way for the young ladies coming up to take our place ((for one day, we too shall finally rest at last)).  Let us encourage the wiser ladies ((hate using the word “older”)) to keep teaching us with firmness and compassion so that we may pass on that love.

Let us band together in these days ahead and walk by FAITH not by sight.  Let us rise as the warriors for Christ that our mothers raised us to be.  And let us go forth into 2021 with Prayer, Faith, and just a little music to keep up singing.

God Bless,
Amanda-Lyn ((Aly))

Grief: An Old Friend

Sorrow, heartache, pain, anguish, are all symbolic of the word grief.  But I have come to know grief like a dear old friend, who while not entirely welcome, always finds a way in anyway.  I am the youngest of 5 children and the baby of the 3 girls, so I was the princess, the eternal child.  My 3 eldest siblings were pretty much grown and moved out and it was just me and Alex.  He was born August 25, 1980 and I, September 25, 1983.  We were very close and near inseparable.  He also had cancer and lost his battle at 11 years old.  Suddenly, this fairy princess, the eternal child, was shoved fiercely into “maturity” in a way never imagined.  I have spent a great deal of my life wondering why him? Why not me? It has been 29 years since his passing and yet, that ache is continually there. 

Recently, we lost my beloved Father and my adopted “Ma” ((within less than 6 months)).  Grief has now grown up and has children to boot.  It’s been just barely 6 months since Dad’s passing and barely 2 weeks since “Ma’s”.  And once again, grief has moved into my head and is there smiling that impish glee like the wicked friend that always gets you into trouble.  I’m keeping her well contained but I do have my moments where I am an ugly, sobbing, horrific mess on the floor.  I also have moments of complete and utter peace where for just a moment that ache stills and I feel no pain and that is because I know they are no longer in pain, they are free, and they are dancing with angels.

People probably think I’m odd to call grief an “old friend”.  Grief has had a backseat most of my life, always in the background, poking me now and then so I don’t forget she’s there.  Because I have learned the best way to heal, is to hurt.   Say what? Yes, you must hurt to heal.  No, you will never recover after losing someone, but it does become easier to live with if you acknowledge that grief is there and will not go away no matter what you try.  Faith in the Lord and faith that you will see your loved one again someday, is how you keep moving forward in this life.  So, embrace grief, welcome grief, offer her dinner and a room, because she is never leaving your side and oddly enough can be comforting at times ((when you acknowledge her)).

Sweeter Than Chocolate

I have a serious chocolate habit.  Milk, dark, extra dark, milky ways, and snickers galore.  Hershey bars and peanut butter cups, yes please.  When I am feeling sad, lonely, or even just bored I eagerly search for whatever chocolate I have on hand.  Entering God’s presence: is even better than the chocolate I so adore.  I grab my worship music, I press play, and I am transported to this “space” where time and reality do not mix.  I have 3 boys ((2 of whom still live at home)), 1 is a teenager and 1 thinks he’s grown so there is usually a lot of noise going on around me.  It is hard to find those 5 minutes of peace where I can just “be”.  Be in the presence of God, surrounded by His warmth and light, totally immersed.  Once I reach that “space” ((and I use “space” because I don’t know another way of putting it)) everything around me fades.  I hear no noises, smell no smells, see anything, nothing, except a tidal wave of emotion usually followed by a deep cathartic peace.  In the past, that peace seemed to come and go from me and I would have to go searching for it.  Since I got called to starting Faith Like Mary ministry, I find that peace easier ((although some days it is still a challenge for me)).  I get on the computer and the keys start flying and before I realize there’s a story there.  It’s sometimes sad, maybe funny, I never know.  Because I am in that “space” with my Lord, and that is much sweeter than any chocolate I could ever eat.

Almost There

My insides are torn apart,

There are shards inside my heart.

How much grief can I bear?

Just a little more, you’re almost there.

This agony cuts deep,

I feel as if my soul is asleep.

Is there more, I fear?

Just a little more, you’re almost there.

No, Lord, please let me rest awhile.

I cannot step another mile.

I must stop here.

Just a little more, you’re almost there.

Finding Your Song in the Rain

As we get ready to say good-bye to 2020, I am sitting here and reflecting on this past year.  The world as I knew it for 36 years changed with these words “it’s the Covid-19 pandemic”.  Businesses were closed ((some permanently)), gatherings were frowned on ((no matter the cause)), friends and loved ones were lost ((either to Covid-19 or for other reasons)).  Some of us found ourselves employed with a company where doors were shut but we remained hopeful that they would swing wide and we would be able to return to work.  Others had to go find work elsewhere or collect unemployment and pray for the rest.  Suddenly, going into a store without a mask on became pretty much illegal.  Curfews were put in place.  The life that we had known was now gone and we were faced with newer and scarier challenges.  At the beginning of 2020 for me, I went back to Friendly’s Restaurant.  I worked hard and was promoted to head server just before the shut-down.  Dad’s eyesight was steadily declining but overall was in okay health and Mommy was just being Mommy holding us altogether, loving us, supporting us, and whooping us if we got out of line.  Then, I found myself stuck at home with no idea of the coming weeks ahead.  At first, I relished the time off and spending time with my boys and Will.  Then it got to be “okay, this was fun, but I am bored and not contributing to the household income”.  The days rolled on, each one like the day before.

Then, the call came that would start a total shakedown of my life, heart, and soul.  Mommy had said Dad was not doing well and he kept falling.  We decided Eli would go sleep at Gram’s, just in case, and sure enough, Dad fell for the fourth time in twenty-four hours.  Off to the hospital he was taken where tests were run, and it was determined he had hit his head during one of these falls and it caused a minor brain bleed and mini strokes.  We watched, we waited, we prayed, we cried, and we pressed close to God and our family.  We signed the hospice paperwork and prepared to say goodbye.  Then, another phone call and glory be, Dad was just fine, and he should make a full recovery.  Of course, Mommy and I had our doubts, but I ran to the hospital…to find Dad just laying there in bed and I thought his doctor was nuts, insane, or both.  Then physical therapy came and sat him in a chair, and he seemed like Dad himself ((and he ate lunch)).  I was so happy; I ran from the hospital ((maybe about 3-4 miles)) dancing and singing while calling everyone I knew to praise and share the blessed news.  The next day, Dad was sent off to rehab and we started to make plans for when he came home.  Then another phone call ((I really hated my phone by this point)).  It was the rehab center telling us that Dad had a fever and was not eating or drinking so back to the hospital we went, and it was decided to put hospice care back into play.  My Dad came home to his house with my Mommy on a Saturday afternoon, and went home to be with Jesus on an early, bright, sunny, beautiful Sunday morning.  We had just barely gotten through Dad’s funeral when we received word that two of our cousin’s had gone.  Death was surely done with us as it had claimed three precious lives, right? Sadly, that was not the case. 

My two eldest boys ironically had the same teacher in elementary school ((at different schools)).  She taught Liam at Lincoln Street and Tobs at Grafton Street.  More than that, she became a friend of mine and her stepdaughter became best friends with Tobs.  We got the message mid-August that she had lost her fight with breast cancer.  At this point, I was searching in vain for answers to questions I had no words to form.  God knew my anguish ((He still does)).  I was sure that death was done claiming the people I loved ((at least for this year)).  This morning I woke to find that my beloved adopted mom “Ma” had joined the others and had gone onto Heaven.  My heart is so full of sadness, grief, and love right now.  She helped to raise me alongside my parents and her girls were pretty much my sisters growing up.  I owe her for my life, and I cannot repay all that she has done for me. 

The year has not been all sadness and gloom.  I made some very dear online friends who have been my lifeline while stuck at home.  We are a small, tightknit group from all over the country and they are beyond a blessing to me.  I landed a job with a tax office ((all those years at Salter finally paid off)) and I start next week.  Sometime after the death of my father, I started the Faith Like Mary Facebook page, blog, and store.  I am compiling the blog posts into a book that I pray to have finished by this time next year.  I have gotten to form memories with my boys and spend lots of time with them.  Will and I spend as much time together as we can when he is not at work but is always reachable by text if I need him. 

I have no idea what God is in store for me and my family in the coming year, but I know we are saying goodbye gratefully and hello thankfully.  We will continue praying, laughing, singing, crying, and making memories with our boys.  We will celebrate and we will mourn.  Mostly, I pray to draw closer to God and I pray that you find your song even in the rain