How It All Started
I have known Charles Piccirilli since just after High School. At that time I was a real mess - a feminist, romanticized anarchist, searching desperately for God.
The guy I was dating at the time worked for Charles and had heard many of his miraculous stories of divine encounters. Although my boyfriend was a doubting agnostic, he knew that my philosophical search for the supernatural would certainly be intrigued by this fine specimen of spirituality.
Curious, I agreed to meet my boyfriend's boss. I walked into the graphic design firm and brushed a pink lock of hair out of my eye, which was heavily enhanced with black eyeliner. My attitude certainly preceded me as I skeptically introduced myself.
The conversation that ensued is hard to describe. Although we spoke at some length, it was much more internal than it was verbal - God moved in my heart. What struck me the most was the way that Charles seemed to see right past my guarded exterior to the gentle soul within me. His smile seemed to pierce me, and I remember him revealing things about me - my struggles and my search for God - deep things I had shared with no one.
He then told me how beautiful I was and how much I was truly loved. Those words shattered me. Normally, if someone said that to me, I would scoff in disbelief and dismiss it as a mockery. Yet, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that he was genuine, and that the love he spoke of came from something much bigger than all of us. Warm tears streamed down my cheeks as walls crashed down within me.
That was just the beginning, as I had so many unanswered questions brimming. Charles invited me to bring anyone and everyone I knew who had questions to the community center he was a part of. I took him up on that offer, and with me came an army of misfits. We sat collected at a table and came at him like a firing squad. But Charles melted them all like ice - even the most motley of them. The truth just crumbled the hate within us.
This began a ministry to young adults started by Charles and me, called Straight Forward - Seeking Truth Together. For many years that ministry thrived and we saw many questions answered and lives changed through it. I was radically changed through those years as well. I went from antagonist to disciple. Christ was real and accessible and I began to experience the moving of mountains all around me, and especially within me. I was filled with love and joy - feelings that had been long estranged from me.
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My life-changing experience is just one of many whose lives have crossed paths with Charles throughout the years. In fact, so many miraculous events have surrounded his encounters with others, that he has been asked time and again to share his stories in print. After many years, he has finally agreed.
The Book: Once I Was Blind But Now I See
I am so incredibly blessed to have been the one to write this book with Charles, and I pray that the stories are as effective in text as they are in person! Perhaps what I have been most influenced by is the simple philosophy to see God's love in all circumstances. Many times I find myself growing angry, frustrated, or resentful. Perhaps I am feeling sorry for myself, and wondering why something bad is happening to me. It is in these moments that it strikes me that God is actually loving me in some way through this small crisis. I then turn to God and ask what he is doing in my life, or why he is allowing something to happen to me.
Charles shares his often funny upbringing, with an overbearing Italian mother. He shares his dabbling with the occult, which follows him in the background of his life through many years. He tells of the first time he heard God speak to him and how he met his wife, and the comical and tragic stories of their first years of marriage. Then the reader is mesmerized by the wild ride God takes Charles on, as he re-introduces him to Christianity through the Charismatic movement and eventually the Catholic Church!
How Will You Be Changed?
Laugh, cry, and pick your jaw up off the ground in disbelief as the goose bumps run up and down your arms. I hope you read and are truly changed by this book, but most of all I hope that through it you also learn to see God's love in all circumstances.
The book is now available for purchase directly from The Lion of Design website or from Amazon.
Be sure to check out our Book Notes archive.
Copyright 2017 Kimberly Cook
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