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November 2019

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The Little Ways

This article is a follow up to the article More Love

It’s early and I am up again moving my son’s sore and tired body. This surgery is hard to heal from. The body takes time to recognize a new shape. Time truly does heal. In the meantime, my husband and I wander back and forth like strangers in the night, rotating his body and trying to keep him comfortable.  I remember telling him this surgery was necessary and that I would walk through it with him. Even in the exhaustion, I need to honor my words. God always provides.

I have been reflecting a great deal on God’s provision lately; the Respect Life cause, specifically. I see many examples of holy families who dedicate their lives to this crucial cause. Families pray outside abortion clinics or fund a bus filled with the latest ultrasound equipment so that a young mother can hear her baby’s heartbeat. These acts of mercy are ever so important and necessary.  However, in the spirit of St. Therese, I am all about the little ways we can live out being pro-life.

When Gabriel was born, and I sat in the NICU rocking him night after night, I remember a two am tap on the shoulder as I rocked him to sleep. A dear friend had driven his motorcycle to the hospital and come to take a shift singing and rocking so I could get some much-needed sleep. His act of mercy still in my heart stands as a testament to his character. Throughout the years, friends and strangers have mailed checks, helped pay for flights, cleaned our home, watched our children, dropped off a meal, dropped off care packages for the kids, mowed our grass and even put together Christmas for us while we were traveling home from the hospital close to Christmas eve!  All these tasks were done out of the goodness within their hearts. They thought of my family and came and did a small good deed. That good deed sent ripples through the hearts of my children. They now seek to go and do the same. “Momma, can we just stop by? Momma, Could we grab a gift card for them? Momma, I’m just going to go help; she looked tired after mass.” The support for a family who faces a difficult pregnancy or special needs child, or any life issue shouldn’t stop with a meal when that baby is born but rather the true need comes when that family is living their yes to the Lord. 

Our family has been privileged to be involved in many organizations that see the need to support the whole family through the life of raising children with special needs. A Kid Again is an example. They plan monthly adventures for the whole family. It is incredible how necessary but unthought-of a trip to Magic Mountain or a Clippers Game is to constantly stay connected as a family and step outside of the medical need. I wonder if there is such an organization for single moms who are facing the everyday struggle of raising a child on their own. To know they are supported and to be given an opportunity to step outside the worry is life-changing. Living pro-life for me is having eyes to see that life indeed does start at conception but the act of walking that new path with that new life needs continuous support. Like a garden that gets watered throughout the hot weather, the one that gets a dose of extra plant food every now and then not only thrives but also blossoms. Think of the bouquets we are building up in heaven by our efforts here on Earth. Lord, please place before my heart those whom you know need a vision of your love on Earth and help me to be a witness of your gentle love. Amen.

Reflections

He more than me…

Image credit: iStockPhoto.com. Licensed for use by Holy Cross Family Ministries.

I love to be loved. I love knowing my husband loves me, my children love me and my friends love me. I love the feeling of intimacy and security being loved brings.

Lately, I have noticed myself needing that love a little too much. I have noticed when the love that I am giving is rejected, the hurt I feel wounds deeply. Words that teenagers say in the heat of the moment sting sharply and cut at the heart of who I am as a mother. The fluidity of our daily life, the constant coming and going, has kept me on edge and I am feeling stretched in a way that mandates me calling on the Lord for realignment and focus.

I’m re-evaluating things there in my heart. I’ve always been about relationships. I seek them, form them, share them. I’m wondering if perhaps my focus should be more on the relationship my children have with Jesus than the relationship they have with me.

If my children are in a relationship with Jesus then they are in a relationship with me because if you are in a relationship with Jesus then you know love and not only know how to give and receive love but you desire to do it because you know the joy it brings. If my friends are in a relationship with Jesus, then they too shine with joy and love. Sometimes we all need reminders that we are in a relationship with Jesus. Relationships take work. Investment is key.

But how? Of course, there are the usual ways to introduce Jesus to your children, family, and friends. We go to mass, read stories of saints, share fellowship with others who know and love Him. But it goes deeper than that.

My son once said as he and I spoke about discernment. “Mom, I know who Jesus is, I just don’t know Him.” That struck me because I had thought that was what we had been doing; knowing him. I thought all the rosaries, camps, prayers, novenas, etc were raising our kids in the faith. I am sure all these experiences are beneficial, but what they really need is to learn to take time to be with Jesus. It is in the stillness and the quiet remembrance that there is so much more than me and my desires in this world. That sometimes my desires, even if holy and good, can cloud the path to relationship with too much doing and not enough being.

Relationship begins with an invitation. If I want you to meet a friend of mine, I tell you about them. We go and visit them. In the beginning, its a constant back and forth of phone calls or texts as funny new things are shared. Relationship requires vulnerability. As the relationship builds, we might share a struggle, ask how we can help, show a random act of kindness that says this relationship is worth investing in. This can be built between our children and the Lord. We spend a great deal of time in my church on evangelization. I’ve been asking myself am I building these relationships within my family? within my friends? Heck, do I desire it for all whom I encounter? DO I desire that others have more of a relationship with Jesus than they do with me? The answer is yes. From Dave the Facebook friend to my sleeping daughter upstairs to even the person I am most struggling to be in relationship with, I desire them to be in relationship with Jesus more than me because I know that that is an eternal relationship. I know that time here is fleeting and that our time in heaven is eternal. I have a vision of a relationship right now that is very broken here on Earth and that I cannot fix being ever so well in Heaven; of embracing that person in the kingdom and us knowing that Christ made it well.

I’m on a journey. There is more to ponder, write and flesh out as I seek to bring about this in my relationships. For now, I’m putting it out there as a thought, maybe a challenge and a prayer that this brings healing.

Pray for me as I pray for you..

Much Peace,

MaryBeth

Family

Give Up the Seat

Image credit: Pixabay.com (2013), CC0/PD

It’s an endless battle; the mad rush to sit “shotgun” in the front passenger seat in our car. With so many bodies to fill that coveted seat, the prerequisites seem mind-boggling: Is it defined by weight? Size? Age? I am reminded often that there are so many benefits to sitting in this beloved seat. You are navigator, DJ, and can have a quality conversation with the driver of the vehicle. (The seat warmer is just a bonus.)

Today, as I drove four of my children to morning appointments, the arguing began. My husband is out of the country for a few weeks, and I have been flying solo. I took a deep breath and silently asked for guidance. Immediately, an image came to mind of the parable Jesus tells us in Luke’s Gospel (Luke 14:7), where Jesus reminds us to not sit at the head of the table lest we are told that seat is reserved for someone else. Rather, it is best to take the seat at the end and be asked to come sit in the place of honor.

I explained to my children that what they needed to seek was humility and develop gratitude. The constant assuming that the seat belongs to you can transfer to so many other aspects of their lives. That part in the school play should have been mine. All my friends have nicer cars than the one I can afford. He has the next version of whatever technological gadget is this year’s craze … and then it hit me. I fall victim to this too.

I fall into this same trap. I have had periods of wondering why I wasn’t chosen. Why I was left out. I have thought that I should have been recognized for a certain achievement and not received it. Corrie ten Boom, a World War Two Holocaust survivor and author, is quoted as saying “Comparison is the thief of joy.” When I reflect upon who God created me to be and the gifts He bestowed so generously upon me to get there, I am laid low by my own humanity. It is so human to value place, recognition, accolades. Yet that is our own destruction because, as I reminded my children, our dignity as a person is not defined by where we sit. (Or what we have, or what school we go to, what paper we write for or how many books we have published.) Rather, our dignity as a person is defined by the simple recognition as being a child of God. It’s so simple and yet so easy to whitewash.

I think we need to be careful of this because failing to rest in the simple reality that God created us in His image, and that His cross opens the gates of heaven for us all, denies us this very inheritance. So, my dear children, give up the seat. It was never yours to begin with. If it is offered to you, say “thank you” because the One who loves you is offering it. But please, take no offense, for your worth in my heart and in the Father’s heart is not seen in where you sit but in rather who you are becoming with each selfless act of charity.