Our Lady and St. Juan Diego

Our Lady and St. Juan Diego

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Entrustment To Mary = Seeing God's Gifts All Year Long

Christmas Day has passed and the opened presents are there for the viewing. Earlier this week when looking at the wrapped packages under the tree I reflected on some of the “gifts” I had received from God this past year.
On March 30th our daughter delivered a very healthy pre-mature baby girl weighing in at 6.5 pounds. She had a high-risk pregnancy, which had her taking special medicines and shots to keep the baby inside. The neonatal specialists were amazed she hadn’t delivered early - as it was, she gave birth just one month before her due date. The little baby has grown and thrived and her life has brought healing graces to our family as we journeyed with our daughter through the divorce process this past year.
In October another daughter delivered a baby boy, Blaise Emmanuel. She had two “normal” deliveries prior, so our only worry was she would go past due which would limit our cuddling time before our visit would come to an end. She did go past the due date by a week, and she delivered a baby with his bladder on the outside. The New Jersey hospital prepped right away to send Blaise to John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, MD – renowned for such a condition. My husband and I watched the siblings while my daughter and her husband hurried off to Baltimore. They were met by the specialist letting them know Blaise has a “great” bladder and they would be able to take care of putting it back inside the next week. The doctor sent them home to await the surgery.  My kind coworker told me to stay another week, which I did. So we enjoyed having the newborn home, and all was normal except for wrapping the bladder in saranwrap after each diaper change. Meanwhile we were looking up the patron saint for bladder conditions and discovered it is St. Blaise! We felt like this was a hug from God letting us know He was taking care of everything. Plus, we were then able to condescend to the fact the family’s move to New Jersey last January was another one of God’s gifts, since they are close to Baltimore where their baby will be spending a lot of his time with future reconstructive surgeries. Other gifts included the family getting a room at the hospital housing unit, and the other grandma being free to stay the 5 week term of recuperation to help out, and that little Blaise was able to get out of traction after the minimum period of 4 weeks.
God’s gifts are sometimes wrapped in ways that I do not always see them as treasures but rather as tragedies, burdens, and frustrations.  I need to allow Blessed Mom to help me see God’s goodness in all events. For she  accepted God's gifts of a donkey ride while 9 months pregnant, and fleeing her home while being chased by soldiers who wanted to kill her baby. She trusted, awaited, and loved. I cannot do that on my own, but perched in her merciful arms, she can trust, await, and love for me and through me.
So how about you? What gifts did God give you this past year?

"The conviction that everything is 'given' to us, that everything is a gift, can be born on the foundation of the truth about God's unceasingly bestowing love and the truth about ourselves as people who need everything from this bestowing love."
S.C. Biela, TheTwo Pillars, (Ft.Collins, CO: IAMF, 2006), 7.
A note from our bloggers:
We offer our prayers that you feel the Christmas joy, love, and peace
that Jesus brings every day when we open our hearts to Him.
We hope for a most blessed New Year for each and every one of you
 - full of God’s merciful gifts in 2016  ~ the Jubilee of Mercy!


Saturday, December 12, 2015

Our Lady of Guadalupe, My Queen

When I get overwhelmed, or start to experience feelings of stress, even when there is nothing to worry about, I remember the words of Our Lady to St. Juan Diego back in the year 1531...words that I am sure she wants each of us to hear and know she is saying them all of us:

"Listen. Put it into your heart, my smallest child, that the thing that frightened you, the thing that afflicted you is nothing:
Do not let it disturb you...
Am I not here, I who am your mother?
Are you not under my shadow and protection?
Am I not the source of your joy?
Are you not in the hollow of my mantle, in the crossing of my arms?
Do you need something more?"

Today is the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, December 12, 2015.  I desire for all my dear ones to come to know this Amazing Queen who holds them in her Immaculate Heart. I want to shout to all the world: "Let her love you!"

Knowing her love is the perfect way to begin the Jubilee of Mercy ~ for it was Jesus' dying wish for me to "Behold, your mother" (Jn 19:27) as He beheld her when He was placed in her womb, and born into her arms that first Christmas.

Happy Advent, everyone!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Entrustment to Mary = Seeing God's Love In Every Situation

FYI: Keep in mind that I enjoy cookies - almost to a gluttonous fault.

This summer had me taking a few flights to destinations to be with family for special occasions. When booking my flight for a niece’s wedding I noticed the day I was to return would be my anniversary date for entrusting myself to the Blessed Mother. I had full confidence in booking on that day, knowing she would be treating me to blessed travel.
My departure flight was to leave on a Thursday evening having me fly through the night with one connection to change planes in Phoenix. My son-in-law was meeting me there to join my next flight so to surprise my daughter by arriving a day earlier than planned. We were going to surprise my husband too, not telling him he would be picking up both of us.
The departure flight was delayed an hour before loading. There had been a maintenance issue which needed paperwork signed. When we loaded the plane, we sat awaiting the FAX for clearance for another hour. As the time ticked on, I realized I would not make my connection. My son-in-law was already in the air heading toward Phoenix. I texted my husband and told him I would be detained and that he was still to go to the airport and pick up our son-in-law the next morning. After I sent the text message I began to cry. Big crocodile tears rolled down my cheeks. I tried to hold it in as a young man sat next to me and I didn’t want him to think I had “lost it”…which I had. I felt great anxiety not knowing what awaited me in Phoenix. Was I to be sleeping in the airport? The airline was not being very comforting in their announcements, and did not say what would happen if anyone missed their connections. In my desperate state, I prayed more out of a sense of duty - acknowledging God’s power, admitting I knew He would take care of me, but I found no real sense of comfort in Blessed Mom’s arms. I tried to get some rest but an uncertainty covered me like a blanket. When the plane landed we were told to go to the airline’s service desk. When I approached the clerk she asked my final destination. I told her, and she looked through a stack of vouchers and found mine. She handed me a set that included a voucher for a hotel room, breakfast, and plane ticket for the following morning. She told me to contact the phone number on the hotel ticket for their shuttle to pick me up. I headed to baggage claim thinking I would be getting my bag, but found out it was kept to be sent to the final destination. When I called the shuttle they told me to look for the van with the big “cookie” on the side. Once I made it to the hotel at 1:30AM, I was greeted with a fresh baked cookie and a room key. I had to smile and sincerely thank God for His loving care, especially seen through the cookies. My fears started to subside as I drifted off to sleep. The next morning I enjoyed a free breakfast buffet, then a shuttle ride to the airport where I had an uneventful flight and was greeted by my son-in-law and my suitcase!
My return flight and travel was indeed blessed like I had assumed it would be. So what I learned in this event is I only trust when I think I “deserve” a blessed event, like an anniversary date, or a holy day. This is why I need my entrustment to Blessed Mom so she can be my daily trust, especially during times when my plans are changed, and my schedule is altered. She has to be my belief that in all events God is taking good care of me - even when there are no cookie surprises, He is still managing my affairs with His love and His mercy!

"If we are surprised that God foils our plans and leads us down a different road than the one we imagined, let us recall that it was the same in the life of the Blessed Mother. Mary also thought of her sanctity, her road, her mission differently. The one who gave up motherhood was called to an exceptional and unique motherhood. This call foiled all of her plans."  
Tadeusz Dajczer, The Gift of Faith, 3rd. ed. (Ft. Collins, CO: IAMF, 2012), 116.
"In every situation Mary realized the will of God with full inner peace, because she accepted everything with childlike trust."                         
S.C. Biela, In The Arms of Mary, 2nd. ed, rev. (Ft.Collins, CO: IAMF, 2005), 128.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Entrustment to Mary = A Vacation From Blog Posts

Dear Readers,
We report that we are currently on vacation from writing blog posts. With our Blessed Mom, we are seeing more truths about ourselves and will be relaying these discoveries in the near future. May you all be blessed with such revelations as we turn our calendars to the last full month of summer.
With gratitude for our fellow Sojourners en route to our eternal home,
Scaredy Cat, High Hopes and Control Freak

"Both our work and our leisure time are given to us so that we may deepen our bond with God and seek our support in Him. If we try to see God and to seek His will in everything that He bestows upon us, then our time for rest will strengthen our faith in God's omnipotent love."
S.C. Biela, God Alone Suffices, 3rd. ed. (Ft.Collins, CO: IAMF, 2011), 18.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Entrustment to Mary = Leaving My Comfort Zone

Happy 4th of July! Another year in the life of our country is complete. I cannot say I am proud of the decisions our Supreme Court has made this past month. Yet through this spirituality I have learned to always look at myself and see where I have failed, instead of pointing fingers at others. What I see is that I am very quiet when it comes to sharing the Good News of the Gospel.
Being a "Scaredy Cat" I fear conflict. I like to keep things status quo. I feel "safe" praying in private for worldly issues. While I am not being sinful by not joining the front lines, I am choosing to be comfortable, and maybe that is something I need to change. Getting out of my comfort zone will lead me to beg for help from my Blessed Mother. She will have to carry me into the areas I fear and to be my strength in the battles I join to uphold the truths of her Son. I must remember also that God, my Father, is in charge, and the Holy Spirit is protector of my soul ~ so I need not be afraid!
The presence of God throughout history affects equally the things that happen in the realm of politics, society, and the economy, as well as in our family or in professional matters. He is present everywhere, and everything depends on Him. In His hands lie the destinies of all of us, as well as the destinies of nations and of the world. We come to know all this through faith, which brings about inner peace in us. This peace flows from faith that gives us the understanding that He, Who is the eternal might and eternal love, holds everything in His hands filled with mercy. He guides everything with His eternal wisdom and total love. Faith gives us feelings of security and peace, and the confidence that we are always immersed in God’s love.”
Tadeusz Dajczer, The Gift of Faith, 3rd ed. (Ft. Collins, CO: IAMF, 2012), 8.


Friday, June 26, 2015

Entrustment to Mary = Viewing My Spouse Through God's Eyes

Our parish started up a Marriage Ministry group, which includes Date Nights once a month.  For my husband and I, this is wonderful - planned date nights on the last Friday of the month, with babysitting included on the parish grounds.  After dropping off our kids into the capable and caring hands of an adult couple and multiple teens, we are greeted next door by other team members with a tray of red or white wine.  The tables are set with care - candles, candies, gourmet snacks, prayer intention cards for the prayer tree.  A spread of delicious appetizers are offered before the program begins:  a speaker, table discussions and individual couple private prayer together.

I bring this up because although my husband and I were familiar with much of the material, one of the points was to take a look at how our marriage, and marriage in general, is reflected in the world.  For example, are we affectionate?  Are we joyful?  Do we support our spouse - in public?  Can those around us see our relationship as one of hope and joy and prayer?  Do they see the positive aspects of marriage, the beauty amidst the struggle?  The speaker asked us to even take a look at how we were sitting next to our spouse at that very moment.  Did we reflect unity? Joy?  Friendship?  In some ways, married couples were to blame for the many younger couples cohabitating instead of trusting in the grace and beauty of the Sacrament of Marriage.  What kind of example are married couples providing to the younger generation?  Are we bitter?  Complaining?  Critical?  How easily do we forgive and reflect God’s mercy to one another?
My husband and I are close to 19 years of marriage.  I am amazed at how well God chose my spouse for me.  He knew I needed someone who was lighthearted, prayerful, and brutally honest.  God saw to it that I could discover His forgiveness and patience and affection through my husband.  He brought me someone who can calm me, refocus me, and see the positive – God’s very loving Presence – in difficult situations.  It has taken these years for me to appreciate how God is loving me through my spouse.  So many times I am tempted to call my husband to an impossible standard of perfection.  Even after all these years, I am unfairly disappointed with his weaknesses.  God allows these weaknesses, of course, so that I do not make an idol out of my husband and continue to seek a deeper union with Himself. However, God also, in His great humor, has allowed me to experience so much more of my own weakness in order to soften the lens through which I view my husband.  I’ll share a few light examples: 

First, I have prided myself on my great memory.  In the workplace, my co-workers used to even comment that my memory was like a steel trap.  Recently, my husband received a jury duty summons, which I scanned and filed and marked on our calendar.  The evening he was to call in, I pulled out the summons, only to find out that I had completely forgotten to fill out the online survey within 10 days of receiving the notice (yes, me, as we have agreed that I would be in charge of paperwork in our household).  He was not in the system and therefore didn’t know whether he was to report the next morning or not.  Of course, the fine print warned of fines or jail time if one was not to report to jury duty.  He shrugged it off, and said he would call in the morning.  Even though he trusted me to keep him informed, he reflected God’s great mercy.  If the roles had been reversed, I would have freaked out completely! The situation humbled me greatly. 

Second, my husband, in his great exhaustion from his workload at his jobsite and at home, has taken on a deeper level of snoring.  So many nights I lay awake, irritated beyond belief, and wake up cranky and resentful for my lack of a good night’s sleep.  I prayed about my frustration, and do you know how God answered my prayers?  He allowed my husband to be awakened in the middle of the night by my snoring!  What?!  I don’t snore, usually, but, gratefully my husband found it funny, not annoying.  If my husband can accept my weaknesses with a sense of humor, I am more humbled and inclined to accept his. 

The longer we are married, the more I see the need for God’s grace to sustain us, encourage us, and bring us back to joy.  I am grateful for my entrustment to our Blessed Mama, because so many times I have called upon her to soften my heart and my words and my tone.  She is the one who helps me stand in truth when working out a disagreement with my husband.  She is the one who helps me ask for his forgiveness when needed. She is the one who can beg for repair for the damage I do with my careless tongue.  She is the one I turn to when I don’t feel like being affectionate or kind or want to watch his choice of movie.  She is the one who helps me love my husband in the ways in which He needs to be loved.  Basically, she is the one who protects our marriage from my ego, which happens to get in the way most of the time!

God has called us to a profound vocation – to be an instrument of His Love to our spouse and to reflect that love in the world. He has allowed us, weak and helpless, to partake in creation and build up His Church through our family life.  He has entrusted souls to us, for heaven’s sake!  I cannot nor do I want to handle this on my own.  Thank you, God, for the graces of this Sacrament that you continue to pour upon us and make available each and every day.  Thank you for trusting us, that in discovering our weaknesses, we discover our need for You.  With a tad more humility, perhaps the world and the younger generations can get a glimpse of Your great Presence within the Sacrament, and seek the graces for themselves with great hope and joy.

…Quite often it will simply be impossible to look at our spouses through the eyes of God.  However, we have to remember that what counts most of all is that we attempt to do this, not that we always succeed.  We need to humbly turn to God and beg Him to grant us the grace of looking at our spouses as if through His eyes.  We have to ask ourselves these questions: Are we doing this?  Are we asking God for such grace? Are we begging for Him to dwell in us, live in us, and use us as instruments in His relationship to our spouses?  (S.C. Biela, God Alone Suffices, 3rd ed [Ft. Collins, CO:  IAMF, 2011], 32.)

Monday, June 15, 2015

Entrustment to Mary = Not Being Fooled

The other night I was putting the Little One to bed when he started to work his way into an anxiety attack. It started off simply as a stall to going to bed, but then he remembered past days of scary dreams and convinced himself that he was going to have a scary dream that night and he couldn’t stop crying and whining about it. He was obviously overtired, but the emotions he was going through were real to him. I know this because I suffer anxiety and so I knew a simple “get a hold of yourself” wasn’t going to be effective!

The Little One’s trouble with anxiety began after he had some bad dreams. First it was fire in his bedroom, then it was bears in the back yard and other animals – all wanting to eat him. The dreams must have been very intense because they sparked such vivid thoughts in the day time that he hated to be in his own room for fear of a real fire. When he awoke from his dreams, he would beg me to lay with him, hold him and say prayers with him. He started to pray differently. He now begs Jesus and Mary every night to protect him from scary dreams and thoughts, and when he wakes up in the morning he is grateful that the prayers are answered. This trial of faith has produced many fruits in his relationship with Divine Love and Mercy to the point I am convinced this was a gift – a gift for deeper faith.

By the grace of God, I was in a very good place the other night when the Little One was too tired to go to sleep. My husband came into the room, concerned the whole episode was going to push me into a bad place, but I assured him I was okay. I was really in the grace of the moment. I had been praying, and started to pray aloud the Psalms that help the Little One when he is most afraid “The LORD is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack…I will fear no evil, for you are with me;” (Ps 23:1, 4).  His response to my praying was to intensify his whining and crying. Why weren’t the prayers working that night? Could it be because he wasn’t living in the moment? Could he be focusing on feelings from the past only to be afraid of the future which is out of his control? Where was his confidence in Jesus and Mary to answer his night time prayer not to have scary dreams?

Wow. These questions were very eye-opening for me with my own anxieties. The very next day I found out my friend with cancer had made a turn for the worse. I started to remember the grief I had really experienced when my father died. Instead of staying in the current moment and wondering what my friend might need, I remembered how terrible I felt in the past, and projected this onto the future – this process put me in a stupor and anxiety pursued! Before it went too far, however, Blessed Mother helped me to remember my Little One’s struggle from the night before. Was I, too, creating undue stress? Was I focusing on my feelings from the past to the point I was more afraid of the future that is out of my control? Since I hadn’t immediately turned to prayer, I could see that the fear I had was more imagined than a real threat. Where was my confidence in Jesus and Mary to carry me, to carry my friend which I pray for incessantly? Immediately, I entrusted my thoughts to Blessed Mother to be immersed in Divine Mercy and Love. That day MOM kept me from being fooled into spending a lot of tears on an illusion--tears before their proper time.

“Anxieties that nag you about the past or the future are also trials of faith. God expects that you will offer Him all of these anxieties so that you can entrust yourself more fully to Him and totally abandon yourself to Him.” (Tadeusz Dajczer, The Gift of Faith3rd. ed. (Ft. Collins, CO: IAMF, 2012), p. 129)