Tuesday, September 30, 2008

video

I got this from a friend's facebook page and it is from youtube. It is amazing and such a gift to me today and tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow...

Friday, September 26, 2008

Silent Sadness

Silence...Sadness...Many emotions flooded my senses as I drove around Ironwood Circle this morning. My time slot for standing/kneeling vigil was for 11:00 and I noticed that there were several people there not even scheduled to stand vigil that came on their own, it was a beautiful thing! I then took note of the full parking lot of the abortion clinic next door and my heart broke. I'm not outraged at the issue of abortion. I am silent and I am sad. I have been a young woman with a crisis pregnancy. I know the temptation of "making it all go away." I know the fear and the shame and the anger that comes from making a choice that led me to become pregnant at 19 and unmarried. I know the conversations that can happen behind one's back and even right in front of one's face because you got "caught." I know the sleepless nights that can happen as you wonder how life will ever be the same after this moment. These things I know because I was that girl!
But... I also know that one can come out of this situation whole and strengthened. I know what it's like for someone to take my hand and give me hope in a hopeless situation. I know what it's like to have everyone telling you what you should do but I also know the relief I felt when someone told me to take my time and to just breathe! I was blessed to know the Lord - even though I felt as though I had failed Him tremendously and that He would probably not want too many to know that I follow Him. I also know through my friends, my parents, my parents' friends, and others that the Lord was carrying me. God worked miracles because I was quiet and I listened to Him and I let him carry my cross with me.
My prayer for those most affected by abortion - which, in essence, is all of us because it's our doctors, our priests, our mothers, our teachers, our fathers, our religious, our bus drivers, and so on that are being aborted - my prayer is for peace. We usually only hear a prayer for peace in regards to war and this is a war! Those faced with a crisis pregnancy need peace; they need guidance; they need prayers; they need solutions; they need options; they need us! I pray, most especially, for those that work in any capacity with these women - the doctors, nurses, counselors, volunteers, drivers, legislators, lobbyists, - that their hearts and their eyes will be opened to the horrors of abortion. It is not a necessary thing in this 21st Century! There are options and there are solutions!
Let's all pray, pray, pray - Pray without ceasing!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Check out http://www.40daysforlife.com and join the campaign. My family and I will be doing our part with prayer, fasting, sacrifice, and silent (prayerful) protest at the Women's Pavillion off of Ironwood Drive on Ironwood Circle (Ironwood Circle is a small road just next to the McDonald's on Ironwood between Edison and Notre Dame Avenue)
It is time to let God work and it is time to turn the issue of life over to Him through this campaign!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Something Short

From the book, I Believe in Love, "And if, in addition to all that, you give Him your many miseries with great humility, but also with great confidence, then you give Him His great joy - His joy of being Savior. Every soul in a state of grace is for Him a Heaven which only that could could give Him." Are you kidding me? Isn't that huge? I have never thought that about Jesus' role as Savior. Sure, I am in awe of the kind of love and obedience that it took for Jesus to die on the cross - it's unfathomable! But to think that He actually feels joy from His role as our Savior - JOY! I am going to try to wrap my over-tired and overwhelmed little brain around this gem!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Big Enough

I have heard many stories of survival lately. On the Today, show there was a man that survived getting run over by a train; on Oprah, a woman fighting her third round of cancer; on the Internet, a woman that survived a botched abortion - she being the baby! In each of these cases, the comment was made that God must have something important for them to do and that's why their lives were spared. I've heard that statement many times and I've even said it once or twice to a survivor of something. It makes sense, that statement, but it doesn't seem accurate. I know the meaning behind it - these people survived the "unsurvivable", they dodged death and why? There has to be something that they are supposed to do now, right? Something huge that God has planned for them. In my jaded eyes, I then thought, couldn't these people have just been saved from death and that's the important thing. That they get to continue living, couldn't that be God's will for them? Couldn't it end there?
On the other hand, shouldn't we all be searching or wondering what important thing(s) that God must want us to do? See, because I struggle with the huge thought that God could possibly love insignificant me, I think there has to be more that I'm supposed to be doing. I haven't survived cancer but I survived losing my husband to cancer! Does that count? Am I now expected to do huge things? Oh my! The pressure we put on ourselves to do the big things instead of seeing the big things! Keagan pooped in the toilet (lovely, huh?) that's a big thing! I didn't do it, I helped teach him to do it - that's a big thing. Murphy took a shower tonight without complaining or sighing, that's a big thing (believe me, it's huge) Briege, my little saint, got all of her spelling words correct for her first test in the 3rd grade - big thing! Why can't I/we see these things as pleasing to God? Must the things be demonstrative? Must they be obvious to the world? Must they be tangible?
We live in a world that says yes to all of these questions. You must be like Oprah or like Joel Olsteen or like Pope Benedict or like Derek Jeter (can I have a moment?) I so want my kids to grow up to be like Murphy O'Brien and like Briege O'Brien and like Keagan O'Brien and know that this is huge - it's a big thing; it's a beautiful thing; it's a God thing! That should be enough for us because I know (the Bible tells me) that it's enough for God!
Don't get me wrong, the survival stories that I mentioned are inspirational and definitely God-made! I am moved by these stories and many more - local ones like Bobby Kloska inspire me and make me want to fight to live! We can all glean from these stories and we get to see God's amazing work in tangible form but it should awaken those "radars" so that we can see God's amazing work in the hidden things and in the small, every-day things. It is a daily challenge for me to find these little things and just take a moment to say thanks be to God for them! The shower thing with Murphy, not always something I'm thanking God about because most days/nights it's a battle and I pray to God for serenity, not thanks. But maybe next time I'll try thanking God when Murphy gets in the shower, fight or no fight, and just maybe, I'll see what a big thing it can really be! (on a side note: Murphy, if you are reading this, I'm sorry if this embarrassed you - it was only to illustrate my point and I love you)
There is this song called Big Enough by Ayiesha Woods - listen to it sometime on iTunes or wherever - it really has become my theme song - a good line from it is "I don't want to box You in; You've been doing big things since the world began. Sometimes I just don't want to believe that You're big enough." Isn't God big enough to know us and that we can just stop trying to prove to him how big we are and let Him be big enough for the both of us! Ahhh... I just love God!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Work in Progress

In getting back to my reading, I Believe in Love, it has been such a gift to read this book because every page is a wonder to behold. This particular line I love; "What is more, we must live a presently existing love. Too often, we make our life of love with God in us something to be realized in the future - someday when we shall have made sufficient progress for that. The word sufficient makes me smile, because, after all, how could we ever establish this sufficiency?"
Don't we all feel this way? I hate to presume that others feel what I feel but for the good of my sanity, I like to pretend that I am more like others than different! I am often caught up in the thought that I am a "work in progress." While it is true, that we never stop learning or growing or improving, etc. Right now we must accept God's love as complete. His love is not depending on the fabulous things that we will or may do in the future. His love is right now - flaws and all! I am in the habit of beating myself up for not having accomplished big things in my life as if then I'll give God a reason to love me. To realize that He already does love me, given what I've already done and given that He knows what's to come, is more than my little brain or heart can take! Yet, to accept that love RIGHT NOW is something that I hope to cherish sooner rather than later. In my heart it makes sense but in my brain it makes no sense. I will continue to try and mold my relationship with the Lord with my heart and not so much with my brain and all of the old, rusty, dusty, dirty, painful, hurtful, twisted, etc. thoughts about what I think God needs and I'll fill it with what I know in my heart and in my soul that God has already received from me and know that I have so much more to give Him! It's just amazing how much we still have to learn about the tremendous amount of love that God has for all of us.

Monday, September 15, 2008

To Bridge the Gap

It is amazing to look out my window and actually see the sun peeking out from behind a cloud today! I didn't think that I would ever see the sun again with all of the rain that we've had here. I gave pause before complaining because of those that have been hit much worse with rain and terrible winds due to the hurricanes in the South. So, I complain with a light touch!
I think that the weather started to affect me spiritually. I have been feeling like I've been in a bit of a spiritual drought lately and wanted God to quench my thirst somehow. Ironically we smashed records with the rainfall we've had and yet, I'm still parched spiritually. It's funny how when we feel numb, indifferent, dry in our faith that we turn to God and ask Him what the problem is. On the one hand, I think that's just what He wants us to do - turn to Him when we feel lost or "lazy". On the other hand, how convenient that God becomes the one I blame for any kind of separation from Him. I have been assured by Scriptures, by theologians, and by oral traditions that God does not separate Himself from us, we do the leaving!
As a parent, I watch this relationship that I have with God and I see me leave; then I see me come back crying and crawling; then I see me leave; then I come back promising never to distance myself again; then I see me leave! Do ya see the pattern? I guess the good news is that I keep coming back but I wonder if God has any of the same frustrations that we earthly parents have with our children just not trusting us to know better. The blaring difference between God and us (quite obvious) is that He NEVER fails in His decision-making or in His immense love for us. I know that I have failed many times (like right now) in making too-quick decisions and in saying "NO" too often instead of taking the time to talk it through. I want to have the kind of love that God has for me and I want my kids to get that from me! To bridge that divide between Heaven and Earth is the key, I guess!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A Challenge

God often puts challenging people and challenging situations in my life for a reason. He is so smart and I realize it is to improve my patience and my compassion along with a laundry list of character issues that I need to improve. Honestly, most days I just want God to "test" someone else! I'm tired of it all and I'm tired of failing the test. So, for more than a few moments, I wallow in the poor me mentality until it hits me - perhaps I'm not doing so well and in God's HUGE capacity for love, He keeps giving me chance after chance. And, heck, I'm still blowing it time and time again. But, now when I blow it (just snapped at Murphy during homework time) I realize it more quickly and I amend my way and I try again. I am so glad that God isn't impatient with me! I can only imagine what it would be like if God took a page out of my parenting playbook! So, I am painstakingly trying to be more patient and to have more compassion for those challenges in my life. To those I've snapped at, I'm sorry, I am truly working on it!

As I continue to read I Believe in Love, I am continually in awe of how simple life is when we get out of God's way and just let Him lead with love! A quote from the book that I love which can be attributed to St. John Vianney, the holy Cure of Ars, is; "The good Lord is more eager to pardon a repentant sinner than a mother to rescue her child from the fire." That is amazing!
So, in keeping with my earlier mention, my challenge with difficulties, this only further comforts me. God's incredible desire to love and to welcome our tired little souls warms me! I thank God so much more than I have before today. Hopefully tomorrow I will thank God a little more than I have today.

Now I must be off to break up a fight between my three lovely little challenges - Oh Lord, please pray for me!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Background

A little bit about my story -
On March 7, 2007, my husband, Bill, died from the side effects of cancer. He didn't suffer, it wasn't a long, drawn out process, the kids were quietly asleep when he died, and Bill died in his sleep. This should all bring me comfort but it doesn't. I know that, faithfully, God granted my family a gift not having to watch my husband and the father of my children suffer greatly. I know this! I struggle with being cheated out of being his Florence Nightingale.
Like any marriage, during our 12 years together we had experienced many ups and downs. We had 3 beautiful children together yet we lost 2 more to mid-term miscarriages - up/down. We attended the wedding of Bill's oldest son, Michael, only to watch as their marriage crumbled (they have since reunited and had a baby girl, Kaylee Rose but not until after Bill died) - up/down. Bill started a successful business or two or three only to see them all crash and leave us almost homeless - up/down. Then there were the things in between - struggles with addiction, a brief separation, new jobs, new houses, new schools, new churches, deaths in the family - all of which caused us to fluctuate between love and despair.
So, when Bill went to the doctor with a lump in his neck that was fairly large but not at all painful, we were geared up for the news. We were hoping that it would be Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma because the treatment is aggressive but the survival rate is good. This is what the primary diagnosis was and we were cheering but gearing up for the fight. When they did further testing on the tumor after the biopsy it showed that it was not lymphoma in any form but it was Squamous cell carcinoma. This is, in laymen terms, inside-out skin cancer. It was located near the throat so for simplicity, we called it throat cancer. A huge blow made bigger because the survival rate is dim. I was still prepared to fight! But, Bill wasn't.
He felt such guilt for "getting" cancer. He apologized to me many times until it just started ticking me off! I could tell that he had given up on trying to fight before the fight began. I have had such a difficult time forgiving him for not fighting but I have slowly received the gift of forgiveness. Bill wasn't me and the month before he died he spent fixing all of the loose ends in the house - hanging pictures that weren't hung, finding paper work that was essential in case he died, loving on the kids every moment that he could, and finding a right place with God. In watching him do all of these things, it just made me mad! How can you just give in to it and not be willing to fight? For me? For the kids? For your mother? It has been over a year and I am, as I said before, slowly forgiving him. I try to imagine the torment of knowing that you are going to die while the world is still moving on as usual.
I remember the morning after he died, driving to my parent's house and being so angry that people had the audacity to pump gas while I was mourning the loss of my husband and while my children were wondering where daddy went! How dare the world go on when I didn't know how I could pick out a casket, pick out the flowers, call the church, or just live on without him. This was going to be insane! What was God thinking when He thrust me into this scenario? Doesn't he know what a wimp I am? I can fight for my kids, I can fight for my husband, but this? But then I began to say, why not me?
In a nutshell, it is a process with ongoing hardships, sadness, joys, disappointments, laughter, and much more. I thank God for this trial even though I don't think that I am at all equipped to handle it as well as the "next guy." I have faith in Jesus' friendship for Lazarus; His friendship for Kelly and for Murphy and for Briege and for Keagan. I wake up every morning asking for just a little less hardship and a little more laughter and He delivers even if the two are sometimes entwined into one!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Friendship for Lazarus

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Why I started a blog!

First, I guess that I should mention how I came up with the name of my blog - Friendship for Lazarus. I have been reading a great book called I Believe in Love by Fr. Jean C. J. d'Elbee, it is based on the teachings of St. Therese of Liseieux. In one of the first chapters entitled Humble Confidence, the author describes some examples of Jesus' friends that displayed confidence in Jesus and their reward for that confidence.
Martha and Mary demonstrated their confidence in Jesus at the bedside of their dying brother, Lazarus. They sent out a message to Jesus asking Him to come to the aid of Lazarus because they knew of Jesus' friendship for Lazarus - they knew Jesus' heart and His enormous compassion. The reason I love the story is because Jesus does not do the obvious which is to heal Lazarus on the spot even though it pained Jesus greatly that His friend was dying. Jesus allowed Lazarus to die so that Martha and Mary could demonstrate an even greater degree of confidence. By rewarding their confidence, he allowed an even greater sadness thus testing the strength of their confidence in Jesus.
Perhaps my favorite line in this chapter is "This is what Jesus is like with those who love Him. He does not grant the first prayer; He permits a greater trial. And we become distressed... Because God loves you, He wants to see how far you will push your confidence. He wants to be able to say to you, as He did to the Canaanite woman, 'How great is your faith!'"
So this is how I came up with the title for my blog - Friendship for Lazarus. I have humble confidence in Jesus' friendship for Lazarus and His friendship for me! It is a huge comfort in times of trials that I know that Jesus has my back. I am called to believe in the love of Jesus for me. For me!! It is a hugely overwhelming thought! To think that He, the Lover of love, the Sacrificial Lamb, the Great I Am, loves me in a way that can never be duplicated by anyone. I just don't feel worthy but who is, I guess!
I hope to use this blog as a place that I can turn my trials and tribulations into a demonstration of my humble confidence. I pray that those reading this blog know that I am a broken girl with an immense love my God. I do not claim to be anyone of importance and I certainly cannot solve the world's issues but I do feel called to share my story and that's what I'm gonna do!
Tune in next time...