Monday, March 30, 2015

We are the Easter People and Hallelujah is Our Song

(my article, originally published for the April 2015 issue of The Courier.)

It was during his visit to Croatia in 1994, when Pope John Paul II boldly proclaimed, “Do not abandon yourself to despair. We are the Easter people and Hallelujah is our song.” St. John Paul II taught us many things, but persevering in hope despite suffering or challenging surroundings was one of his most pervasive lessons. From the moment he began his pontificate, he declared, “do not be afraid!”

As we approach Holy Week and focus on the gift of selfless love that is the Holy Cross, the task of taking in the enormity of our Lord’s sacrifice can be overwhelming. So much so that we may dismiss it before it has a chance to reach our inner most being. We have heard the story before, like a familiar bedtime tale. We yawn, we smile, and cheer for our Savior. The pain can feel too much, too deep, too raw if we really meditated on the Cross; it’s easier to go through the motions and move right to the chocolate eggs … oh, I mean, the empty tomb.

For in the eyes of the world, the Cross is ridiculous. It is suffering; it is hardship; it is pain. And in many eyes, it is needless pain. Our world continues to do everything it can to rid itself of any type of suffering. For the world, suffering is discouraging, despairing, unbearable. Indeed, John Paul II taught us that without Christ, suffering is hell. Yet, God does not operate with the world’s eyes. God sees eternity. God sees the effects of evil on the world: sin and eternal death.

God is so great, so powerful, so loving, that He has taken suffering, Satan’s greatest tool of despair, and used it to bring eternal hope. For it was only through suffering that Christ redeemed the world. God conquered eternal suffering with Christ’s suffering on the Cross. Through this one act of selfless love, this one act of giving of Himself to us – wholly, completely, forever – our Bridegroom won victory over sin and death.

Focusing on the depth of Love that is the crucifixion of Christ, it should not send us into a miserable state of pain, but a soul bearing humility. To stand before the One who holds nothing back from you, the One who gives you all of His Love without any conditions, without any judgment, it is His great Love that makes us vulnerable, open and calls us to holiness – if we let it.

It is not the pain of the Cross that overwhelms us, but the Love of it. We are not accustomed to such love, such vulnerability. We can take care of ourselves; we can figure it out. We don’t need to depend on another. We’ve got the American spirit! We can accomplish anything! And yet, we cannot accomplish our own salvation. We don’t like to admit when we are weak, vulnerable and need help. Yet, in order to be saved, in order to grow in holiness that is exactly what we need to do. And it is before the Cross that this profound transformation of humility of our soul can take place.

Yet, the Cross is not the end! It is only the beginning! Jesus rose from the dead solidifying His victory and winning for us God’s eternal life, if we but accept His Word. He gave us the Holy Spirit to build His life in our hearts. As St. John Paul II reminded us, we need not fear. We need not fear temporary suffering, challenges, persecutions nor death, for the eternal victory has been won for us! We live in hope because of Easter Sunday! The song of Hallelujah should ring from our hearts every day of our life despite our trials! For we have been saved; we have been forgiven; we have been eternally loved.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Your Body is Not Broken

Here is the post I promised you about how I changed my mind and decided to wait on my body's timing, despite the pain.


"I didn’t think I would need to hear these words again. After an almost twenty year battle of dealing with the mental aftermath of an eating disorder, I thought I had turned a final corner in how I viewed myself, seeing my body as the beautiful creation that was made just for me. I have even had moments of seeing this almost 9 month pregnant self in the mirror and actually amazed that I felt like singing from West Side Story, “I feel pretty! Oh so pretty!” Those days of hating my body and abusing it in order to force it to subdue to the look I wanted it to be (or that society convinced me I should be) were behind me, right? ..."

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Parental Suffering & Your Children - Spare or Share?

I always thought I wanted to protect my children. I wanted to spare them from any extra worries or hardship if I could. Life has forced my hand this week and I was confronted with having to share the burden with them …

I'm in my final week(s) of pregnancy and due to rheumatoid arthritis it is even difficult to walk. Although I contemplating inducing baby early because of the extreme pain, I have decided to choose to respect my body's timing and let nature run its course here. (I've shared the development of my thoughts and the heart to heart with my OB dr behind that decision in an article for The Guiding Star blog, which will be up soon and I'll update the link here when it is.)

Yet, saying "yes" to waiting on my body (even through the suffering) means saying "no" to almost everything else right now. Even errands which used to be so easy are near impossible without tears. So, once I made this decision to accept the waiting,  I had to let go of the mommy-superstar cape and realize that I just can't do those things right now.

Because my husband was taking the littlest two to a specialist doctor apt an hour away, and I realized I couldn't take the older ones to their karate on my own, we had to call the school and tell them to have the boys take the bus home. I knew they'd be confused and maybe upset. I knew I would have to share my suffering with them - as much as I didn't want them to have extra worries! Yet, this is life right now and they will have to be a part of it.

When they arrived home, they were indeed confused and a little out of sorts, wondering why they had to ride the bus.
We all sat together in the living room and I explained how mommy had to choose between hurrying the baby along or accepting the suffering for now & letting the baby come when the time was right.
I told them that saying "Yes" to the waiting and suffering was a sacrifice I didn't want to do, but that I thought was right.
But what this means, I said, is that we sacrifice together as a family, because if daddy can't be there, we might not be able to do things like karate today.
It won't last forever and I feel so badly that you can't do those things right now, but don't you think it's best to offer this up for our baby? (I was in tears at this point and so were they...)

All three of them said, YES! & "Let's sacrifice for the baby!" & "It's Lent anyway, mom." (Of course it is! How silly of mommy not to realize it would be no big deal - it being Lent and all) ;-)

Who knew drawing them into my suffering would be so rewarding?