Saturday, April 22, 2017

Life is...Hard

It's been a hard week for me for some reason.  I can speculate what the triggers are and why it's happening, but it doesn't really matter.  Life just feels a little hard right now.  Things feel overwhelming.  Grief is rearing it's ugly head in unexpected moments and with unexpected feelings.  On Monday, I had a mini meltdown after the cleaning crew came in and packed up my entire basement leaving me feeling very vulnerable; like I just let the world see the mess that was my basement, and really felt like the mess that is inside of me.  The mess of feelings, uncertainties, and looming questions gone unanswered.  I messaged my friend who keeps me company during the days with a running conversation.  I told her all that I mentioned above.  I told her life felt hard right now and the feelings felt BIG...too BIG.

Later this week my friend sent me the following article.  I was going to try and articulate how all that she said reiterated all that I was feeling.  But instead I think I'll let you read it for yourself.

My prayers for you all is that this week you are able to sit with your suffering, look it in the face, and let someone else in.  Life is indeed hard sometimes.  We all have our crosses to bear.  Don't feel like you have to carry that cross alone.  Don't feel bad for admitting that your cross is too heavy right now.  Find a friend or confidant to carry your cross with you.

We wait until heaven....

Friday, April 14, 2017

The Mother of All Mothers

Today....Good Friday....I can't help but think about Mary.  If there ever was a mother who knew the grief of losing a child, it was her.  Not only did her son die, she watched him die a barbaric death that He didn't deserve.  It was the ultimate case of unfair.  Even with her knowledge of what was to come, I can imagine the horrifying grief she endured those days and the disbelief that would follow....

In losing my son, I found my Mother.  I found the Mother of God who when I couldn't talk to God, I could go to her because she understood.  She held her dying child at the bottom of his cross, and I picked up my cross when I held my dying son in our hospital NICU department.

So on this day I can't help but to stop and say a prayer of Thanksgiving for the gift of my spiritual Mother who would wrap me in her mantle, hold my hand, and quietly remind me that she understood as the tears ran down my face.

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary,
 that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection,
 implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided. 

Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother;
 to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. 
O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, 
but in thy mercy hear and answer me. 


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Permission to Rest

It's 12:45 on a Wednesday, my children, who started waking up at 4:30 this morning, are both taking nice long naps.  Noah, our oldest living son, doesn't nap much anymore, but a tantrum of epic proportions and a way too early start to his day won out today and he sleeps.  And my goodness, I almost forget about that tantrum when I peek in on him to see him sleeping soundly.  So when I suddenly found myself with a few quiet hours on my hands I almost didn't know what to do... and then I did.  I won't lie, I did wipe down the bathrooms, picked my 5 items for my daily minimalizing challenge I am currently in (life changing...I've gotta tell you all about it another day), and did manage to shower.  But you know what else I chose to do? Guilt free? I chose to rest.

My blogging position today.  If you look closely you'll see my son's uneaten breakfast and spilled cereal all over the floor.

I won't pretend that there aren't at least a thousand things I could be doing right now.  But something I have learned in my grief and in my motherhood is that sometimes choosing to rest is the wiser choice for me.  We all know that grief is emotional and mental, but we often forget that grief is also physical.    

In this fast paced world it's often hard to find the time to just allow yourself to rest.  Ask any parent on the planet and they will tell you the struggle is real.  But I don't think it's even necessary to be a parent to feel this way.  Even my 3 year old resists rest.  He's too busy to stop and allow his body the rest he needs.  He wants to go, go, go! And sometimes it takes an epic tantrum for both him and us to realize he needs more sleep.  And aren't we all the same? The laundry, the errands, the dishes, the meals...we need to go until we collapse into bed at the end of each day.  Now add in grief and you become a real hot mess!

This used to be me, and honestly many days it still is, but one thing I learned in my grieving is that I needed to not only work through my emotions and feelings, but I also needed to listen to my body. I needed to know that there were times the dishes and the toys would have to wait and I was going to allow myself to nap with my kids or sit quietly in my, what I like to call, "Old Lady" recliner.

Our culture tells us that our houses need to always be immaculate, our kids need to be in every activity from soccer to Girl Scouts to ballet, and success in life is achieved by being the most productive person on the planet.  So when I found myself deep in the trenches of grief and knowing my body needed to recharge, I knew I needed to rest, but couldn't shake the voice of GUILT that echoed in my mind.  "Lazy," it told me.  "Not good enough.  Get over it already. No wonder you are out of shape and overweight." 

Friends, it took a lot of tears, reading, and conversations to finally get to the point that I was able to shut that ridiculous voice down.  When I gave myself those moments of rest whether it was sitting on the couch for 20 minutes with a cup of coffee, sleeping for 2 hours while my kids napped, reading a book or blog, or working quietly on a craft or art you know what? I became a better mom, wife, and person.  Even my house was a little cleaner and more organized because allowing myself those small moments of rest allowed me the recharge that I needed to be more focused on my call in life as wife, mom, and homemaker.

Then this Lent I found rest in the most unexpected of times...I found "rest" at 6 am when my alarm goes off and I crawl out of bed (OK...after a few hits on the snooze button) and quietly grab a cup of coffee, my Blessed Is She daily devotionals, my Bible, and I take time (sometimes it's only 10 minutes before someone wakes up and sometimes I have an unexpected prayer partner that day) to rest in Him.  Scripture tells us, "Come to Me and I will give you rest." Matt 11:28 Starting my day off (or some days my kid's nap time) by resting in God's word and presence has also brought a much missing peace and focus to my days.  

So friends find rest in your life.  Whatever that looks like to you.  Unplug, unwind, and relax.  Say no to a few invitations.  Put yourself first for a bit.  Decide you're worth it.  Find rest and let your body soak up all that it needs.  Let the guilt go.  You're worth it!

We wait until heaven...

Monday, April 3, 2017

Jesus Wept

Yesterday at mass the Gospel reading was the story of the resurrection of Lazarus.  If you are unfamiliar with the story, the shortened version is this.  Lazarus, brother to Martha and Mary and dear friend of Jesus, has died.  Jesus is called to come to Bethany, but is delayed (by his choice).  When He arrives, Martha tells him if He had only come sooner He could've saved Lazarus.  And in His final miracle from the Gospel of John before His passion begins,  Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. (You can read the actual gospel here....the story teller did a much better job.)

I bring up this gospel, because although I was familiar with the raising of Lazarus, and had heard it many times before, yesterday in Mass I heard one line very differently than I had ever before.  The shortest verse in the Bible.  Jesus wept.  Upon hearing his friend had died and before raising him from the dead, He wept.  I don't know about all of you, but when I envision a person weeping, I see gut wrenching sobs, rivers of tears, and weakness of body.  So when the gospel writer chose to tell us that Jesus wept, he was telling us something great.  Jesus truly God and truly man, shows us His vulnerability and humanness as He mourns the loss of his great friend.  He knows the miracle that is about the ensue, but He takes a moment to allow himself to feel the loss of his friend in front of a crowd of people.  Jesus wept for the loss, He wept for Martha and Mary who had just lost their brother, He weeps for the soul of Lazarus.  Wow.  For the first time, I really saw Jesus as a man and a person, and not as a God looking down up earth from His thrown ready to perform His miracle.  In that moment, we see a man who feels and experiences all that we humans feel and experience.

And then ever so gently, the Lord began to show me, his daughter that He loves as much as He loved Lazarus, that when my boys died, He wept with me too.  Bad things happen to good people.  Humans are flawed, people die...yes, sadly even babies.  And trying to understand it or make sense of it all is way too much for my brain to handle these days, but one thing became very clear to me as the priest read the gospel yesterday.  I don't know why my boys died and I don't know why God didn't provide me my miracle of Lazarus, but I do know without a doubt, when I was weeping and mourning the loss of my sons, Jesus was weeping with and for me, his daughter.

Maybe this is just new to me, and maybe not, but to understand that God joined me in my sorrow, and  shared in that human moment of sorrow with me changes my perspective so very much.  Yes, Christ was there to gather into His arms my children at the gates of heaven, but in a way only God can He was holding me and mourning with me.  And even if He has greater plans for my family that will come from this loss, I know that He also was very much with us in those intense moments of loss.

And you know what friends? He's there with you too.  When our hearts break over grief and loss, His heart breaks too.  He's not only the conductor of all of humanity, but He's also our father and greatest supporter.  Just as it breaks my heart as a mother to see one of my children hurting or sad, it agonizes Him in the same ways.  Yes, He has greater wisdom and knows greater purpose than we do, but he weeps with His children.

My grief journey changed directions a little bit yesterday.  Yes, I'm still sad and wish every day that I had 3 living children to mother here on earth while still carrying my 4th in my belly.  Yes, I will always wish that God spared and saved my children the way He spared Lazarus.  But now when I question and wonder where God was when I losing my sons, I know with out a doubt, He was there, holding my hand, and crying tears with me.

Until Heaven....

Also yesterday morning I read a wonderful reflection on this gospel in my daily Blessed Is She email.  If you'd like to read more on how this story relates to our grief click here.  Also, if you don't know about Blessed Is She...You should.  (Well if you are a woman...)