Thursday, September 19, 2013

Small Victories

Lately I find myself glancing at my calendar and sitting there in shock. I'm doing so much these days. I'm able to handle more than I have ever been able to since Caleb died. These are what I'd like to call "small victories," because to other people they seem small. But to someone who has been through grief and had their world torn upside down, doing the following things really are a big deal:

(In no particular order)

- I hosted a party, with like 15 people at my home. I cleaned, decorated, made food, and hosted. All without collapsing afterwards. In fact, I even felt rejuvenated from it!

-Decided to get a part time job. Woah! Big step for someone who quit her job after her son died because it was too much. I really didn't see myself working again, but I found something fun and small and hopefully will fit in with our schedule. It feels great to have the "professional" side of me back again.

-Booked a trip to North Dakota for whole week without my husband! Travel after Caleb has been filled with anxiety. But for some reason, I just felt like taking this trip was another step in learning to live again. I used to travel alone all the time. But since Caleb's death Ive been afraid, anxious, and overall resistant to doing anything by myself, let alone traveling. So I took the plunge and next week Abigail and I will get on a plane and fly by ourselves to North Dakota to visit friends and family for a whole week!

- Started up Bible Study this year and feel like I can actually participate. Last year it took all my energy to just show up and sit with  "normal" people (non-grieving people) and try to function. But this year, I don't have to try, I just get up,drive there and enjoy the day.

Those are just some of the main things I'm doing lately, but they feel so good. I think when you have had everything taken from you, and then you start to get it back, there is a certain sweetness to it. Only grieving people can understand how much energy it takes to just function and for so much of the last 2 and a half years I have been  "just functioning."

Saint Irenaeus has a quote that says, "the glory of God is man fully alive." I've been reflecting on that a lot and thinking about how much glory it brings to God when I fully live my life. Yes, God is there in the brokenness, but He never wants me to stay there. And while I will always carry the wounds of Caleb's death on my heart, just like Jesus carried his wounds after he rose, there is still a lot of life to live. I want to glorify God by living fully alive, by drinking deeply from life and being intentional with my time. Small victories which are allowing me to become fully alive and hopefully that brings God glory.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Our Lady

Our Lady, Mary, the mother of God, has been close lately. Today is the start of a nine day novena I'm beginning to Our Lady of Sorrows. I used to wonder why Mary had so many titles she went by. Now that I've gotten to know her better, it makes sense. So many titles for such an incredible woman. And we all have different titles-mother, daughter,sister, cousin, friend, boss, neighbor,etc. We have a title for whatever relationship we are in, and so does Mary.

Our Lady of Sorrows
Our Lady of sorrows is the name given to Mary to honor her sorrowful heart, the one that was pierced (Luke 2:34-35 And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed and a sword will pierce even your own soul—to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”) The novena I'm saying is a nine day prayer I say every day leading up to and ending on the feast day of Our Lady of Sorrows. I'm praying for all the moms who have lost a baby, for our ministry and for my own heart. I think its going to be good and I can feel Mary pulling me deeper into the mystery of herself as I begin this prayer time.

Another one of Mary's titles that's been sticking out to me lately is Our Lady of Ephesus. Of what? Exactly. I had never heard of this title until last summer when I picked up a book about Our Lady of Ephesus. Catholic tradition has it that after Jesus died, St. John took Mary and moved her to Ephesus, a town in Turkey. There she made a home in Nightingale Mountain and lived quietly until her death and assumption. I say quietly because even though Mary lived in the town of Ephesus, St. Paul had to come spend 2 years there evangelizing and converting the people! This shocked me when I put all the pieces together. How is it possible that Mary lived somewhere and the whole town was not conformed to Christ? I mean, who knows Jesus better than Mary? But for some reason, she was silent in Ephesus and lived her remaining years there.

I started feeling the tug to pray to Our Lady of Ephesus about a month ago-and I had no idea why. It just kept coming to me and during times when I would feel sad or miss Caleb, I would simply say-Our Lady of Ephesus, help me. Then on August 15 the Church celebrated the assumption of Mary-the day when her body was taken up, or assumed into Heaven. Another common name for Mary on this feast day is Our Lady of Ephesus!It's believed that her body was assumed into Heaven from her home in Ephesus. While I was praying that day, I was asking Mary specifically to help me with my vocation. It had been a rough week and I was feeling pulled in different directions and not sure if I was doing my best as a wife and mother. Then I heard her say,

"Just make a home without your son."

I realized why I was so drawn to Our Lady of Ephesus. It was because it was the only place Mary had lived as a mother without her son. For whatever reason, Jesus asked Mary to stay here on Earth after He ascended into Heaven. We don't know how long or why. So Mary stayed and she made a home in Ephesus, a home without her son. That must have been painfully hard. So many memories. I can almost  picture her sitting at her kitchen table, perhaps the one Jesus made as a carpenter, and crying because the house was so silent, so still. And that was her path to holiness during those years. She wasn't asked by God to be out in the streets telling people about her son. "Its too painful to talk about him," she told me, "people wouldnt understand my relationship with him, I didnt have the words for it, so I stayed quiet in my home." 

It was a prayer filled with grace for me. Since then I've really tried to re-dedicate my time to making a home without my son. Because I know that's my path to holiness right now. So many times I don't have the words for what happened in my heart when my son died. Its too deep and sensitive to try to explain to people, especially now over 2 years out. So quietly I'm going to build a home without my son. And there will be tears and continued heartache over his absence. There will also be Our Lady of Ephesus to guide me and cry with me because she knows how hard making a home without your child is.

As I reflect on the last month in my prayer I can see Mary with me constantly. As I continue to try to live again and breathe again and function again, she's there cheering me on. My prayer is that Mary can comfort you in your time of loss. I know some non-Catholics may be scared to go to her, but truly she always leads us closer to Christ. She's his mother and longs for us to be united not with her, but with her son. So please, if you feel called, pray this novena with me. Our Lady of Sorrows is there-she gets its, she's cried too many tears to count.

Novena to Our Lady of Sorrows-Starts on Page 7

Our Lady of Sorrows and Our Lady of Ephesus, Pray for us!

Mary's house in Ephesus!!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Because I don't have the words

I can't seem to write these days. I have the feelings, but no the words. Good thing someone else has the words. I found comfort in this post tonight and these words:

I didn't kill her, yet I have spent nearly five years forgiving myself for her death. Only you understand that.

I loved these words. The guilt never goes away, even if I tell myself that there is no guilt-thats a lie, its always there. Feeling everything in this post tonight.