Thursday, December 31, 2009

Oh 2009! I did not know what you had in store for me.

What an amazing year 2009 has been. 

We found out we were having our second baby girl on the same day that we found out she was likely to soon die.

We loved and fought for her with a passion and strength that I didn't know we could have for a little one we had not yet met.

We prayed that God's will be done in her life and in ours.

We grieved when the doctor told us she had gone.

We carried her coffin down the aisle for her funeral and buried her on a gusty March day.

We began to live life "after Mary Grace died", although for a long time it was a blurry mess of tears and pain.

We began to heal.

I stopped counting the time since she died in hours, days and weeks.

We opened our hearts to new life and struggled with God's timing.

We relinquished our desires for another baby to God's will and gave up fighting for control.

We began to experience joy that comes from knowing our suffering unites us to Christ in an intimate way.

We suffered an early pregnancy loss in November.

I have gone from being agitated by seeing pregnant women to being envious, to being happy for them, to longing to be them.

I have grown deeply in my relationship with Jesus through my suffering and have an ever-increasing desire to do His will.

Oh Lord, what a special job my two "2009 babies" had if it was to bring me closer to you.  If by losing them I was forced to look at my life, my desires, my intentions and conform them to Your will then that is the greatest gift they could give me.  With prayers from friends, family and strangers we have persevered this year.

In this way God has deeply blessed our family this year.  Thank you God!

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance.... in the kingdom of light. Colossians 1:9-12

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas, Mary Grace.

Merry Christmas, Mary Grace!  I thought for sure as I carried you in my womb last December that this Christmas you would be in my arms as a sweet little 5 month old.  Oh we just do not know what is in store for us when we think ahead to the coming days.  I would have never guessed that you would not be with us.  But my heart is full of joy this Christmas as I think of you celebrating our Savior's birth right there in heaven!  I feel like I catch a glimpse of the awe and majesty of what that must be like when we attend Mass on Christmas Eve night.  There is a sense of wonder, awe and anticipation of the glory of Jesus!  How true it is that while we anticipate His birth each year, we also anticipate His ultimate return in glory! 

Mary Grace, my Christmas prayer is that I and all my friends and family may have a pure heart where Christ might be born every day.  Please pray for us.  I love you.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Saying "yes" in the small things.

I have always loved to take a hot shower.  And when I say "hot", I mean usually my water heater cannot handle the temperature at which I would like my water.  Yes, it goes against dermatologists' recommendations (especially in the dry winter time!) but I don't care.  Yes, my husband thinks that the temperature of my shower is something extreme, but I LOVE it. 

In fact, my hot shower is one of the few moments in the day which I get all to myself. 

So yesterday morning I got into my hot shower and immediately I had this interior feeling that Jesus was asking me, "Would you turn your hot water down for Me?" 

I paused and thought, I must be crazy.  Why am I thinking this and why would Jesus even care about the temperature of my shower water?  But the question then came to me in a different way:  "Would you make a small act of self-sacrifice for me right now in this moment?"

I thought, Oh Lord!  This is my SHOWER you are talking about...but okay.  I'll try it.  I turned the faucet a fraction towards cold and shivered. 

So much for my long, hot shower, I thought.  And then after a minute had passed, I realized that my body had adjusted to this new temperature in a short amount of time.  I was shocked, but thought, I can turn the water down a little more.  My initial resistance to offering up something I really enjoyed eventually turned into a lukewarm-bordering-on-cool shower!  (I'm not going to pretend that I wound up taking a completely cold shower....but lukewarm is pretty much "cold" for me!)  And by the end I was feeling really good that I had practiced a little self-sacrifice.   And I felt good because I had said "yes" to God when He asked me. 

Sometimes we feel the Lord gently asking us if we would give up something for Him.  Sometimes the request might seem a little silly (like my hot shower) but the point is:

Do we hear Him asking us?

How will we respond?

I look at it as a little exercise for the soul.  When I practice saying "yes" to God with love and obedience in the little things, my spiritual "muscles" will be stronger to say "yes" to the bigger ones.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Walk by the Spirit.

In my bible study lesson this week a quote jumped out at me and I thought I would share it with you.  It is a perfect summary of what I've been feeling lately.

"Those who live 'by the flesh' experience God's law as a burden, and indeed as a denial or at least a restriction of their own freedom.  On the other hand, those who are impelled by love and 'walk by the Spirit' (Gal 5:16), and who desire to serve others, find in God's law the fundamental and necessary way in which to practice love as something freely chosen and freely lived out.  Indeed, they feel an interior urge- a genuine 'necessity' and no longer a form of coercion- not to stop at the minimum demands of the Law, but to live them in their 'fullness'.  This is a still uncertain and fragile journey as long as we are on earth, but it is one made possible by grace, which enables us to possess the full freedom of the children of God (cf. Rom 8:21) and thus to live our moral life in a way worthy of our sublime vocation as 'sons in the Son'."

                                                                                      Pope John Paul II
                                                                                      Veritatis Splendor, par. 18

Our journey of faith is life-long.  It is not a one-time deal.  We have to continue to choose Christ in the way that we live and love our neighbor.  Sometimes our walk begins to distance us from Christ, but always He is there, calling us back to Him. 

One Christmas I spent a significant amount of time searching for a very specific took alot of time because I was trying to get a more expensive item at a "sales price" I had to do quite a bit of shopping.  Finally I found just the right one and was so excited that the person receiving this gift would be getting "more" than what I could really afford to get them since I found the item at such a deal.  I gave the gift with such excitement and joy, and then was told by the person that I could take the gift back to the store because they had already purchased that item and didn't need my gift.

It was like someone had punched me in the gut.  All the love, time and effort I had spent in choosing the perfect gift and it was rejected. My feelings were really hurt that they rejected the gift I worked hard to give.  It occurred to me yesterday that in a much bigger way, that is how God must feel when we reject the gift of His Son.  He offers us Jesus, his own Son crucified for our sins but we are too busy watching tv, spending too much time on the internet, partying, moving our way up the corporate ladder, or being overly concerned with money and material things to notice.  Perhaps we accepted His Son for awhile, but then our heart grew cool and we gave that gift back. 

While I thought about how God must feel with so many people rejecting Him, I felt overwhelmed with sorrow at how it must feel to God, as a Father to have your child, your only Son rejected.  I thought about how it must feel to Jesus who suffered tremendously on the Cross for our sins so that we might receive the gift He offers.  But so many don't even want the gift.  Being a mother, I thought of Mary.  How would it feel as a mother to watch your Son and Savior be crucified, and after what your own child went through to see Him still repeatedly rejected by the very people He has died for?

Oh Jesus, have mercy on us today and bring so many hearts to You this Advent season.  Open our own hearts so that You may truly make our heart Your home, Your resting place.  Cleanse us from our sin and bring us to a holier life with You!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Treasures in heaven.

Oh dear little one in heaven, today I took down the memory card from your funeral that has been attached to the top left corner of the refrigerator for the last 9 months.  I can hardly believe it has been that long since you left us.  I can hardly believe that you have another sibling with you now in heaven.  I often think of what you and your 3 other siblings must be doing in heaven...

Are you infants and older people are holding you?  Perhaps a young woman who never got a chance to have any children of her own is taking care of you.  Perhaps my own relatives are tending to your needs.  Do you even have "needs" once you are in heaven other than a need to praise God? 

Are you young children?  Do you play?  When I meet you in heaven, will I know you?  Will you know me? 

Mary Grace, you and your siblings are truly the only treasures I can store up in heaven. 

My heart and mind have been full in the last few days of an urgency to draw our earthly family closer to the Lord.  Yes, we are Catholic Christians.  Yes, we go every Sunday to Mass (unless we are ill!).  We go frequently to confession to draw on the graces we receive there to turn away from sin.  I am spending more time with my bible study and daily meditation on scripture.  Yet I still feel like my conscience is tugging at me to do love my neighbor spend time in deep prayer more often, perhaps in nearly constant prayer.  I have started making more time during this busy, busy Advent season to slow down so that I can better prepare my heart for Jesus' birth. 

Maybe my treaures in heaven are praying very hard to put this urgency on my heart right now.