Honor your Mother and Father

Ephesians 6-2-3This past week, two dear friends each lost a parent. One lost a father and the other a mother. God is rejoicing in heaven with their presence, but we are mourning the loss of their presence. All the memories shared with friends and family brings me back to the loss of my own father. The heartbreak of that loss has never soften or been filled with something else, even when it has been 11 years he has been gone. Nothing can ever replace the emptiness our family feels. I know too well what my dear friends are going through – the pain that resides amid the joy of celebrating their life and legacy.

Everyday you miss their smile, their laugh or their voice. You want to grab the phone when good news comes your way so that you can call them. With each new spring bulb you remember the garden you planted with them. On your daily walk, you talk with them. There is only one thing that can comforted me. It is the only true thing that can comfort anyone.

Resting in the Lord’s promise in a life everlasting.
Knowing we will see each other again in the presence of Jesus.

Our Lord Jesus honored His parents. He listened to his mother, Mary, when He was not ready to perform a miracle. Mary must have known, small miracles had to have occurred when Jesus was a child because she speaks confidently when she tells him they are out of wine at the wedding.  Jesus says “what do you want me to do” but the word doesn’t show a response to his question. Mary turns to the steward and says “do what he says”. Parents know their children. They know what we are capable of, they encourage, support and believe in us through anything. Mary knew Jesus’ gifts better than anyone else. If I use Mary as my model of parenting, which I have always tried to do, I know I will remain in His Love.

As Catholics, we honor Mary during the month of May. Society honors Mothers during the month of May also. And in June we honor Fathers. Honoring our parents, as Jesus modeled for us, is important to do while they are alive and after they are gone too.

Friends, who lost a parent when they were very young, talk about all they missed. The long talks, the advice, the prideful look on their wedding day or graduation. Moments when we want to be surrounded by those we love. Moments that were stolen from them, but I trust in the Lord to provide them with opportunities to receive the love of a parent in many different forms too.

Jesus learned love, compassion and generosity from his parents and the home they created for him. We too are also products of our parents. I see my father in my siblings, nieces and nephews. I even see my father in my husband. He met my Dad when we were in high school and even though he had a wonderful father already, he would say he learned from my Dad too. The hard work of his hands while he builds out of lower level, creating more family space, or the generous nature when he does anything for our children. He often says, “your father helps us when we were young, I want to help them”. And my dad did – he lifted a sagging ceiling with my husband on our first house and was always there to fish with, talk with and to bounce things off of. Parents forever hold our hearts.

As we gather to honor these two beautiful, amazing parents, whom I was blessed to know, I pray the stories shared show their families the love of their parents and honor their memories. Memories that honor them will also embrace you on the days that are hard to bear without your parents.

“Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” Ephesians 6:2-3 

Embrace God’s grace through the memories of your parents who have entered eternal life and those parents who you are able to embrace with love.

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Being Fed

Last month I attended the Religious Education Congress in Anaheim, CA. I know what you are thinking, “getting out of Chicago into the sunshine and relax” right…not for me. I absorbs as much from the conference as I possibly can. Workshop and events from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm, evening concerts and guest speakers, dinner and crash. But it is exhilarating.

I wish I could be in 10 places at once – each workshop time offers over 25 topics and I want to attend so many of them. This year I was blessed to hear Sherry Weddell, Bill Huebsch, Fr. Daniel Horan, Doug Tooke, ValLimar Jansen, Becky Eldredge, Doug Leal, Tony Alonso, Jeanne Cotter, Bishop Bob Barron, Steve Angrasino and Maria Shriver!

The weekend is an inspiration to my personal spiritual growth and to my ministry for Christ. Each year my love for the Eucharist deeps. The amazing gifts of community, unity, nourishment and overflowing love from Jesus was feel by those I met, which represent a universal church. Almost 40,000 ministers of the church attend this conference.

I bring back ideas to spark a flame within the youth, young adults and adults with whom I am blessed to minister to. My heartfelt prayers are for them to see Christ through my words, actions and relationships with them.

The theme of the conference was Rise Up!

My Rise Up truths…
Rise Up to accompany another on their journey
Rise Up to share the gifts God has blessed me with
Rise Up to center on Christ’s presence throughout my day
Rise Up to inspire others to their call of mission
Rise Up to give of myself in service
Rise up to be present
Rise Up to lay down my life for another
Rise Up to reach out in generosity

I am fed by God’s word and His love. I am fed by others who are Christ in my life and I am fed by amazing opportunities such as this conference.

Rise Up! Shine, for your light has come, the glory of the Lord has dawned upon you.
Though darkness covers the earth, and thick clouds, the peoples, Upon you the Lord will dawn, and over you his glory will be seen. Isaiah 60:1-2

Grace embraced through the light of others shining on my life. Help me, Jesus, to shine my light to others.

Another milestone

Oh the joy The Lord has given me this past year.

A year ago today I had my mastectomy surgery. And so began the hardest summer of my life. The only thing harder than this fight I had in front of me was losing my Dad. But I have survived both challenges.

People say “the Lord only gives you what you can handle”…but He doesn’t ask if I want to handle it! I wanted my Dad with me so often this past year. Lymphoma took him within five months, but I know my Dad was with me every step of this past year. I am filled with joy, because I have a faith that trusts in God’s divine providence. I know I might not be able to handle everything, but God can and I usually need to remember to step aside and allow God’s glory to take hold.

Every treatment, chemo, radiation, therapy, doctors appointments and bad day was in God’s ultimate plan. And it feels so good to know that someone all knowing has my back.

This past year has taught me how precious life is…I always knew it of course, but to be thrust in the middle of a life battle really makes you look differently. It also gives you the ability to not sweat the small stuff.

Every blade of grass has a purpose, every ant a mission. What a wonderful gift to be given…a new pair of eyes to see Gods creation and to contemplate its purpose and mission.

Look at the world differently today. Because we are here today, does not guarantee tomorrow. God gives us so much each and every day…we need to embrace each grace, smile and give love back.

Grace embraced this year through the beautiful creation I have seen with my new eyes e of God!

Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day. Genesis 1:29-31

Celebration!

Well it happened…I tried to stop it, but it came anyway… I tried to ignore it, but they would not let me…so I took a deep breath and celebrated 50!

I truly wanted the day to be quiet and fade into yesterday easily.

I did have hopes.
When I began this journey in March, I imagined and hoped I would have a new chest by my big birthday…that was not to be
I hoped to begin radiation on my birthday (I began Taxol on Kevin’s birthday)…that was not to be
I hoped to be done with all treatments by my birthday…now I’m just dreaming
None of these were to happen.. .I reflected on what my pastor said months ago…”don’t schedule anything through this cancer journey.” It still holds today…probably the best advice I was given. I realize my hope remains where it always has been; in my faith.

However my family and friends were not going to let this birthday slip into tomorrow.

The week after Columbus Day my daughter was home for fall break from her teaching position in AZ. That week was gift for me! Even though it was filled with medical appointments that I have written about already. I got to spend time in the waiting room with Jaclyn! She is my best friend and my strength on days I am week. Her positive energy and constant love is a life line some days.
Well, she and my husband talked to our dear friends Dan and Mistee on Monday. Mistee is the world’s ultimate party hostess. She said yes to having a celebration in their home that Friday…yes in FOUR DAYS!

I was not amazed that Mistee said yes, because that’s who she is. A giving, caring and loving friend…and has a welcoming home, she wanted to do something for me anyway (but I think she was expecting a little more planning time). I was resistant when they told me about the party, because I did not want to celebrate my birthday, but then I really wanted an opportunity to see friends that have done so much for me these past months. I penned out a list to include all my treatment angels and more. Then I could not believe it!

In four days, everyone made time in their schedule to join us! They made the trip south to Peotone, to Dan and Mistee’s beautiful home. It was a dark night and some friends got lost on the gravel roads to a home they have never been to, but they made it! Some asked why it was not a surprise party and I told them, there was no way they would be able to surprise me. Dan and Mistee live on 12 acres with a long driveway – no place to hide the cars!

Did I say everyone made it? They did! My heart was so filled with love and thankfulness! It was a celebration of love so much more than a celebration of my birthday. But when I arrived Mistee put a birthday crown on me and when I asked if I really needed to wear it, she smiled and said “a party in four days…yes” I laughed with her and was happy to honor her request. Then I proceeded to forget it was on my head, so it’s there for most of the pictures. Oh well!

Kevin was asked to say a few words before we prayed and ate. He was overwhelmed with the love in the room and said thanks, but did not know what to say. But I knew. I could not let this moment pass without me giving thanks to my heavenly Father for everyone in the room. “To Dan and Mistee for their eternal friendship and their willingness to open their hearts and home within the week to all these people. To Mindy for all the delicious weekly meals that have been continuous since May. To all the cards, emails, texts, and calls that everyone send, I felt the prayers and love every day. In a special way to my treatment angels; Don, Kathy J., Lori, Wendi, Colleen, Jaclyn, Zachary, Kathy, JeanneMarie, Kathy E. (who were all in the room) and to my sisters Diane, Teri and Toni and niece Brook, who took time from their lives to bring me to treatments. All of you have made this journey bearable because you have held me up when I needed to be carried. I love you all!”

Then as the night was winding down, they forced me to open gifts. I really did not want to, I told Jaclyn to say no gifts. I mean you were calling people on Monday for a party on Friday! And I don’t need for anything when your life is filled with hope, faith and love!

But just like the crown, I succumbed to the persistence of my daughter and hostess. The faith filled books, music, wine, collectibles were beautiful, each with special meaning from the giver. Then a theme began to unwrap. My family bought me a Pandora bracelet and many friends bought charms. As I opened them they shared why they chose the specific charm for me.

As they explained the charms my heart warmed and my eyes filled with joy: Journey, “from the journey with the Lord we have taken together”; Birthstone, from my mother; Wedding Cake, “because we stood up in each other’s weddings”; Angels Wings, “because you inspire me”; Snowflake, “for how much you love the snow and to remember your ski shop days”; Angel of Hope, “for the hope you have in God”; Pink ribbon and Family charm, my struggle and my strength (from my children); Purse, “for all the shopping we will be doing after recovery”; Bible, “for your faith”; Crown “because we serve the same King, Jesus”. As I opened the boxes, Jaclyn created a bracelet of love. I have worn to every treatment and radiation since then knowing that I am encircled with love.

I was exhausted, but made it until all the guests left…past midnight (and my bedtime!). Thank you all those near and far that show so much love to me!

My Treatment Angels (missing Kathy E, Diane, Teri, Toni & Brook)

Dan and Mistee!

My incredible family…I LOVE YOU!