Blessed By Sadness

July 2018

A little over a month ago, my 90 year-old mother passed away after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s.  Despite the fact my family and I had been saying goodbye to Mom literally for years, I think many of us were surprised how hard it was when she died.  Being people of faith, we know that the tears are for us and not for her. We are confident that Mom is now with God and knows more joy than she ever could have known on earth. (And that’s saying something because that lady was JOYFUL!) Yet, the sadness is still there…

The same week my Mom died, an obituary made the news not because of its beauty but because of its darkness.  It was written by the children of a woman who had died. At first, just the facts of her birth and death were given but the ending talked of how she had abandoned her children and that the world was a better place without her.  The pain and bitterness of her children was obvious in the piece.

The contrast between my Mom’s live of love and joyful service and the life of the woman in the obituary got me thinking.  A long life can be either a blessing or a curse. Not to yourself, mind you, but to those you meet along the journey. You see, a long life gives you lots of opportunities.  Those opportunities can be used to give love and bring healing or they can be used to create division and cause hurt. If, at the end of your life, people are still sad that you’ve gone, you probably sowed lots of seeds of love during your time on earth.  But, if your obituary could read like this one, then….

I know, I know. Sadness sure doesn’t seem like a blessing, does it? But when the sadness comes from the loss of something beautiful it is a great blessing and a gift.  I feel so blessed to be sad that Mom is gone; so glad that I miss her. And what a testament to her life that so many people miss her and are sad that she’s gone! Of course, we know that this separation is also temporary and merely physical.  We are still in union with Mom through the communion of saints. She’s our best advocate in heaven, second only to Mother Mary, I assume. But, Mary has billions of children on earth to advocate for. My Mom only has one husband and 10 children (plus their spouses, and grandchildren, and great grandchildren, and her siblings, and their children…ok bad example) to keep an eye on. And just wait until our final reunion!  What a party that will be! Then the sadness will be completely gone and our joy will know no end. Until then, I will cherish the sadness as a sign of my love for her but it will never eclipse the joy of having her in my life.

Cast Out Fear!

A little more than three years ago I had the unexpected opportunity to accept a full-time job leading the children’s catechesis ministry at my parish.  This unsolicited offer from my pastor caught me off-guard and definitely by surprise.  I hadn’t worked full-time since having my oldest child who was, at that time, 18 years old.

So, with the help of my husband and my spiritual director, I prayed, discussed, thought, and prayed some more about whether this was where God was calling me at this time in my life.  After a lot of obsessive thinking and waffling between yes and no, I accepted the position with my husband’s support. 

Almost immediately after accepting the job, I started worrying about whether I had made the right choice.  I was filled with fear and anxiety.  What was I thinking?  How could I manage a family and full-time job after all these years?  Where did I get off thinking that I could teach anybody about a holy life? After all, I was just little-ole Laura trying my best to be a good wife, mother, and daughter.  Most often, though, it felt like I was just trying to survive each day!  How could I take on this important task of teaching the children of our parish?

In my panic, I emailed my spiritual advisor and shared my anxieties.  His response was exactly what I needed to hear.  “You’ve thought and prayed about this and have discerned your decision. Cast out fear!  Our God is bigger!” He was right.  I needed to trust my discernment process but, more importantly, I needed to trust God.  Whatever I couldn’t handle, He would.  Besides, especially when you enter ministry, you need to be keenly aware that you are NOT the one who brings forth the fruit of your labors.  God is the one doing the heavy lifting.

In my fear, I was putting limits on God that He doesn’t have.  It’s so easy to forget that God is truly beyond our understanding. He is so much more than we give Him credit for.  By trusting Him, I was following His will for me.  Looking back on that time, I see that I answered God’s call with my own “fiat” the day I accepted this job.  But, if I had given in to fear, I would have run away from God’s plan (probably while screaming!).

When in your life have you given in to fear rather than trust God and step out in faith?  How do you need to “Cast out fear” in your life today?
 

If Classic Literature and Sci-Fi had a Baby…

Jane EyerFinal-FJM_High_Res_1800x2700…it would be Unclaimed by  Erin McCole Cupp.

Intrigued?  You should be.  This novel holds a unique place on the bookshelf that not many can live up to.  In Unclaimed, Cupp manages to take a classic piece of literature, Jane Eyre, and incorporate not only sci-fi but, social justice issues such as child labor, third world poverty, and the lives of unclaimed embryos.

Despite that long list, Unclaimed isn’t a book of propaganda.  It’s a story about a girl who wants desperately to be loved  and to belong in a world that overlooks her at best and abuses her at worst. A look inside the mind and heart of a soul suffering the consequences of her ambiguous heritage, Unclaimed is a story told with love and with hope.  As a reader, you’ll find yourself rooting for Jane as she learns not only to survive but to thrive despite all that’s against her.

In case, you’re still not sure how I feel about this novel, check out my “official” review:

A mistake-everyone tells Jane E that’s what she is.  An unclaimed embryo born into the world alone, Jane lives with a foster family that doesn’t want her and who treats her with a mixture of fear and loathing.  Until one day, Jane finally has had enough.

So begins Unclaimed: The Memoirs of Jane E, Friendless Orphan-Book One.  This futuristic retelling of Jane Eyre is not only compelling and thoroughly enjoyable, it also evokes from the reader compassion for anyone who feels they don’t have a place in the world and helps them realize that all human life has value no matter how small or powerless. Are you a fan of science fiction? The classics?  Then you’ll love Jane_E!

So…what are you waiting for? Go! Read it! It’s on Amazon and everything!

Blessings for the Journey,

S.S.

Come see what all the cool bloggers are reading over at Carolyn Astfalk’s Open Book. You won’t regret it!

 

 

 

 

Striving for sainthood

Jeannie-300dpi-214x300

When I was a young girl, I would often daydream of one day accomplishing something so extraordinary, so valiant, that I would be decorated as a heroine for my bravery.  My longing was to “do great things for God,” and I saw this only through the lens of extraordinary martyrdom or extreme renunciation that many of my favorite saints exemplified.  Reading about them wasn’t enough for me.  I wanted to become one of them.

At the time, however, my untampered zeal had not been cooled by God’s embers of love.  My fervent ardor was, indeed, supplanted by God, but I was young and impetuous, not yet seasoned by life experience.  In my naivete, I did not acknowledge that my particular path to sanctification might be something rather undesirable – even loathsome – to me.

Naturally, my understanding of holiness was altered by both theological knowledge, as well as what became my reality of grief: betrayals from friends and ex-boyfriends, premature deaths of both family members and friends, the presence of addictions and mental illnesses in my family, and, now, raising two daughters with special needs.

My oldest daughter, Felicity, has developed severe sensory and psychological problems.  She is my invisible martyr, because her suffering cannot be detected by others. There are times I overlook her struggles, because, like the rest of the world, I tend to view her in lieu of her typical peers.  Sarah, my younger daughter, was born with a rare craniofacial condition called Apert Syndrome, which was not detected prenatally.  Her birth was dramatic in the sense that my husband, Ben, and I received the shock of a lifetime.  Sarah’s visible differences make it easy to love and care for her, but despite her sanguine temperament, she requires ongoing daily medical care that depletes me as the primary caregiver.

Over the past two years, I have acknowledged that my children are my highway to Heaven.  Caring for them will lead me to a path of constant self-denial and rebirth in Christ.  I’m not just speaking of caring for their fundamental needs as all parents are required to do, but instead caring for their needs while growing in virtue.  This is the challenge for me: to display patience, forgiveness, and charity while handling a hot-headed toddler who tries to kick me as I put on her orthotic inserts and special shoes or as my preschooler so easily sasses me without prudent thought.

I learn each day through my primary vocation as a mother that I must model the virtues I wish to instill in my daughters, and I so seldom succeed.  In my perfectionistic frustration, I am quick to judge myself rather than extend the same mercy I desire from Jesus.  He has shown me, however, that my myriad weaknesses are the tunnel for His grace; they are the means by which I will become empty so that He can fill me with Himself.

At the end of the day, I realize my entire life’s journey can be summarized thus: “God’s grace compensates for my lack.”  I do not accept this as an excuse for sloth on my part, but instead it is a statement that wells a renewed hope in me each time I falter.  My limitations are great, but God’s goodness and mercy is greater.  In the messiness of life, my path to holiness is strewn with rocks and thorns, but it concludes with gratitude for God’s pruning.

Text Copyright 2015 Jeannie Ewing, all rights reserved.

Image Copyright 2014 “Trappist Church” by Capecodprof on Pixabay and edited in Canva by Jeannie Ewing.

Jeannie Ewing is a writer, speaker, and grief recovery coach.  She is the co-author of Navigating Deep Waters: Meditations for Caregivers.  Jeannie was featured on National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition and Tony Agnesi’s radio show Finding God’s Grace.  She offers her insight from a counselor’s perspective into a variety of topics, including grief, spirituality, and parenting children with special needs.  Jeannie resides in northern Indiana with her husband and two daughters, both of whom have special needs.  For more information on her professional services, please visit her websites lovealonecreates.com or fromgrief2grace.com

Striving for Sainthood


Striving for sainthoodStriving for sainthood

Striving for sainthood


Jeannie-300dpi-214x300Jeannie-300dpi-214x300

Jeannie-300dpi-214×300

When I was a young girl, I would often daydream of one day accomplishing something so extraordinary, so valiant, that I would be decorated as a heroine for my bravery.  My longing was to “do great things for God,” and I saw this only through the lens of extraordinary martyrdom or extreme renunciation that many of my favorite saints exemplified.  Reading about them wasn’t enough for me.  I wanted to become one of them.

At the time, however, my untampered zeal had not been cooled by God’s embers of love.  My fervent ardor was, indeed, supplanted by God, but I was young and impetuous, not yet seasoned by life experience.  In my naivete, I did not acknowledge that my particular path to sanctification might be something rather undesirable – even loathsome – to me.

Naturally, my understanding of holiness was altered by both theological knowledge, as well as what became my reality of grief: betrayals from friends and ex-boyfriends, premature deaths of both family members and friends, the presence of addictions and mental illnesses in my family, and, now, raising two daughters with special needs.

My oldest daughter, Felicity, has developed severe sensory and psychological problems.  She is my invisible martyr, because her suffering cannot be detected by others. There are times I overlook her struggles, because, like the rest of the world, I tend to view her in lieu of her typical peers.  Sarah, my younger daughter, was born with a rare craniofacial condition called Apert Syndrome, which was not detected prenatally.  Her birth was dramatic in the sense that my husband, Ben, and I received the shock of a lifetime.  Sarah’s visible differences make it easy to love and care for her, but despite her sanguine temperament, she requires ongoing daily medical care that depletes me as the primary caregiver.

Over the past two years, I have acknowledged that my children are my highway to Heaven.  Caring for them will lead me to a path of constant self-denial and rebirth in Christ.  I’m not just speaking of caring for their fundamental needs as all parents are required to do, but instead caring for their needs while growing in virtue.  This is the challenge for me: to display patience, forgiveness, and charity while handling a hot-headed toddler who tries to kick me as I put on her orthotic inserts and special shoes or as my preschooler so easily sasses me without prudent thought.

I learn each day through my primary vocation as a mother that I must model the virtues I wish to instill in my daughters, and I so seldom succeed.  In my perfectionistic frustration, I am quick to judge myself rather than extend the same mercy I desire from Jesus.  He has shown me, however, that my myriad weaknesses are the tunnel for His grace; they are the means by which I will become empty so that He can fill me with Himself.

At the end of the day, I realize my entire life’s journey can be summarized thus: “God’s grace compensates for my lack.”  I do not accept this as an excuse for sloth on my part, but instead it is a statement that wells a renewed hope in me each time I falter.  My limitations are great, but God’s goodness and mercy is greater.  In the messiness of life, my path to holiness is strewn with rocks and thorns, but it concludes with gratitude for God’s pruning.

Text Copyright 2015 Jeannie Ewing, all rights reserved.

Image Copyright 2014 “Trappist Church” by Capecodprof on Pixabay and edited in Canva by Jeannie Ewing.

Jeannie Ewing is a writer, speaker, and grief recovery coach.  She is the co-author of Navigating Deep Waters: Meditations for Caregivers.  Jeannie was featured on National Public Radio’s Weekend Editionand Tony Agnesi’s radio show Finding God’s Grace.  She offers her insight from a counselor’s perspective into a variety of topics, including grief, spirituality, and parenting children with special needs.  Jeannie resides in northern Indiana with her husband and two daughters, both of whom have special needs.  For more information on her professional services, please visit her websites lovealonecreates.comor fromgrief2grace.com

God is My Rudder (on Catholic Mom)

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again-I’m a slow learner.  God usually has to hit me over the head to get me to pay attention.  But lately I’ve started to see His hand at work in my life in a different way than I’ve ever seen before.  I’ll tell you more over at Catholic Mom.  Come take a look!

May Your Journey Be Blessed,

S.S.

Have I Got A Deal For You!

Hello Blog Reader People!  I know it’s been a while since I’ve graced your inboxes. So, as a token of my remorse, I’m sending you the inside scoop on a great deal on an even greater book.  Believe me.  After this, you won’t even remember that you’re annoyed with me. (I hope.)

Don’t You Forget About Me

by Erin McCole Cupp, author extraordinaire, is on sale through Amazon Kindle until May 1st for –wait for it—

99 measly cents!

People, you can’t even buy a cup of coffee for that anymore!  (Unless you know something you’re not telling me….)



Here’s a little about the book

here

. And, here’s a little about Erin here:

Erin McCole Cupp is a wife, mom, and lay Dominican who lives with her family of vertebrates in the middle of Nowhere, Pennsylvania. Her writing has appeared in Canticle Magazine, Parents, The Catholic Standard and Times, and The Philadelphia City Paper, and she is a regular contributor to

CatholicMom.com

. Her other professional experiences include acting, costuming, youth ministry, international scholar advising, and waiting tables.

Her influences include Neal Stephenson, Gerard Manley Hopkins, and Jane Austen.

Her weaknesses include iceberg lettuce, frozen drinks, and anything labeled “Visitor Center.”

Erin is the author of Jane_E, Friendless Orphan:

A Memoir (Broken Wheel Media, 2006), Don’t You Forget About Me (Full Quiver Publishing, 2013), and Working Mother (Full Quiver Publishing, 2013), all available on Amazon.

You can find more about Erin at

erinmccolecupp.com

.

Did I mention that she’s funny too? 

Seriously though, I’ve read the book and I really enjoyed it.  It’s a murder mystery dealing with environmental destruction and infertility with a heroine that’s struggling to get past her past while she’s contemplating a mystery and falling in love all at the same time. 

Just. Go. Buy. The. Book.  You won’t regret it.

Oh, did you know that you don’t have to have a Kindle to read Kindle books?  You can download the Kindle app for your smart phone or for your computer and read your book while you’re pretending to work.  I won’t give you away.  It’ll be our little secret… Shhhh…

Blessings,

Laura