Tag Archives: Love

Do What Love Requires

mom-and-meSix years ago, my Mother died. Just two days before that, we had celebrated her 64th birthday. She had been on Hospice for a couple of weeks, and we knew her death was imminent. Even when you know your loved one is dying, it’s painful and difficult to be prepared for it on this side of heaven. Prayer, my family, friends, Hospice, and my parent’s Parish community were instrumental in preparing me as best I could be.

Do the best that you can was what my Mother often told me. As a perfectionist (recovering now), she was the positive voice in my life that would remind me it’s OK to make mistakes, and that when I did, not to beat myself up over them. And there I was, trying to do the best I could through one of the greatest trials in my life. The word that the Lord gave me to hold onto during this time was, “Do what love requires.”

I had never been present when someone took their last breath, and that was something I was trying not fear, along with the grief of losing Mom. With several of us taking turns staying next to her bedside 24-hrs, I didn’t know if I would be there or not. But, “Do what love requires.”

The night of her last earthly birthday, we had an impromptu prayer meeting around my mother’s bedside. We felt that was her birthday wish. Having grown up in a Catholic Charismatic Community and later attending the Franciscan University of Steubenville, prayer meetings were very familiar to me. With my husband, brother, and Dad, we read to her from her Bible – her most highlighted, favorite passages. We sang the old praise and worship songs that she loved from back in the day. It was beautiful, and as I reflect on it now, I think that somehow we were preparing my Mother’s soul for the throne room of God. I’m humbled greatly by that, and honored.

You see, there is something transformative about worship, and I hope that more people (especially in a world full of anguish) will come to understand and truly experience it. Worship is the gift that we can give back to God, from our heart to His. Anyone can be grateful and express praise when our hearts are full of it; but when we are in the valley, when we are fearful, anxious, sick, exhausted or whatever we are going through – it is then when worship is an act of the will. We must will to thank and praise God, and rise above our temporary feelings, into a humble posture amidst our sufferings.

In worshipping God at that time, and taking the focus off of myself and my fear and grief – I placed it all where it needed to be; and afterwards, I realized that those things had been diminished. What grew was peace, love, strength, and acceptance. Fear is not of God, but rather it is a powerful tool of the Devil. It’s rampant in our culture, and the media stokes it. And if we’re not afraid, we’re too busy or distracted. Or trying so hard to self-help ourselves out of whatever pain or problem we’re facing. Our lives are so full and busy, that it very easy to become self-centered, allowing our feelings and fears take primacy.

While self-reflection is important, if we become too focused inward, we can become overly critical and more readily judge others. What they’re doing, not doing, or should be doing. We’re so quick to want to change others, but how about ourselves? By changing ourselves through prayer, humility, and perseverance – we WILL change others.

This is one of the most important things that my Mother taught me, in her daily example, and even through her stumbling. She was a woman of prayer, and her faithfulness to her family and prayer — reading the scriptures, fasting, going to Mass, praying the Rosary —  were the steadfast example that we needed. It was the foundation that her and my Dad laid that carried our family through good times, as well as times of great suffering.

Mom showed me to be faithful to whatever you are called to at that time in your life. For her, that included Cancer – twice. Be yourself, and allow others to be who they are; yet, call each other on to be good and give your best. And while she didn’t go to college and have advanced degrees, she wasn’t a high-powered CEO of a corporation or a movie star with a platform, she did make an impact by who she was, where she was, and how she lived.

That is the power of one. One life that touches others, shapes and molds them daily, by word and action. To do what love requires of you, right where God has placed you. It may not always be fun or feel fulfilling, and it may even feel like drudgery at times; but you have the power to choose joy or not. Mom’s joy was a magnet. It was what drew people to her and made them feel at ease, and drew them into relationship with her, and to experience God through her.

Mom loved many people, and many people loved her. By just being herself, she allowed others to be themselves, and feel loved and accepted. That’s the greatest gift you can give another, truly – as it’s what we all desire most deeply. We don’t have to understand each other, but we are called to love our neighbor as ourselves.

Love is greater than tolerance. Mom showed us that love can remain, even when we don’t agree with each other, or the other’s life choices. She didn’t berate or belittle someone else for who they were or what they believed, yet she held respectfully to her own opinions and beliefs. More importantly, she lived them. If someone needed help, she was always wiling, as it wasn’t “to each his own” – but that we are the Body of Christ. And as such, if you needed correction, she would give that too. Out of love.

moms-prayer-card

On this anniversary of her death, I am thankful for the strong and nurturing example of womanhood that she was. She did what love required in her family, in her community — with joy, and that is how she changed others.

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Two Years Later

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” – John 1:5photo (15)

IMG_7230Mother Mary, at St. Monica’s, was really where the story of Mike and I began, happening at the same time as my Mom’s illness.

Last night we visited Our Lady, in remembrance of Mom.

A mingling of joy with tears, gratitude, love, petition, thanksgiving…just laying it all out before Our Mama.

Mom and MeMe as a toddler with my beautiful Mom.

We celebrated your birth into this world two days ago. Today, we celebrate your rebirth into another.

It’s been two years without you, physically; but I’m grateful for the 30-something I had with you.

We love you, miss you, and are all better for having known and been loved by you.

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Love Is

I’m going to give myself 5 minutes on the clock.

Free writing, so un-edited. This is my 5-minute Friday exercise.

On what? None other then what makes the world go round – LOVE. It’s not just a many splendored thing, ya know!

If anything, this are thoughts, scattered or not, on what I have found to be true about love.

Ready, set, write!

Love One Another

Love is not about some grand gesture, although nice when given.

Love is an act of the will. You choose, in each moment, to act, even speak, in love or not.

It’s not quite like choosing which kind of meal deal you want at drive-thru. A 2-year-old can tell you what they want to eat. Love is a different kind of choice.

Love comes from the center of who you are as a person – from your heart.

If your heart does not possess pure love, then it cannot provide it.

If your heart is entangled in layers of narcissism and self-seeking, then how can love for others thrive?

Love is a gift. How can a gift be given, freely, purely, if it is not truly possessed for self first?

EL FIN.

Gosh, that went quick. Well, at any rate, I hope you got your 5-minutes worth! It’s a great exercise to do. Give yourself 5 minutes, when your head is cloudy, to dump things out on a page, blog, journal, or what have you. You should try it sometime, if you haven’t already!

I have obviously been pondering what it truly means to love another person lately. Of course, St, Paul has some profound thoughts on that in his letter to the Corinthians (1:13).

Bonus 2-minutes thoughts (the clincher):

But my favorite thought to ponder on how St. Paul speaks of love, is that if I have not love, then I have NOTHING. How many people doggedly pursue success, fame, fortune – and after they gain it all, feel so completely empty?! Love is what the human heart wants and needs. God is love. So we need God.

As much as people don’t like to talk about or accept it, it’s the one thing that has never changed, nor will ever change.

Ok, so I sneaked in 7 minutes. Guilty.

Even better. Watch this:

What are your thoughts on love? Sharing is caring…leave me some comments!

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Today We Celebrate Her Life…

I imagine that it was a cold, January day in Detroit, 1947, when little Eve came into this world. She was the first of four beautiful girls born to Anthony and Helen.

Family Photo: Tony and Helen, my Grandparents, are both 2nd from the Left

The blond curls of her tow-headed youth faded at some point to the short, brown hair that we always knew.

My Mother’s Graduation Photo

So too, her shyness as a girl later gave way to the chatty-with-anyone Mom that sometimes made us, inpatient children, sigh in exasperation in the grocery store line.

Little Me & Mom

Yet she showed us how to love, just by being who she was.

Simply by taking the time to have a friendly conversation with a stranger, or bringing a glass of cool lemonade to a worker in the yard, or giving her freshly, baked goods to the staff at Dentist office, or making her Fluffy Buttermilk Blueberry Pancakes when your friends came over…all her simple acts of love were saying “you are special”. Such a beautiful reflection of God, who provides so many little and big ways to let us know of His love and care for us.

She made us laugh by making herself laugh.

She would thoughtlessly shake her foot on the bed as she tore through the paperback pages of her library romance novels.

She would tell you all the ingredients, measurements, and instructions to a recipe that you didn’t realize you wanted.

She would say, “Better let you go,” at least three times around the end of a phone conversation before she actually would let you go.

She would have your favorite meal on the table when you came home for a visit.

She spent many evenings playing cards or board games.

She would befriend someone that she just met outside a movie theater.

She loved us incomparably.

As did we.

My Parents on their Wedding Day

Our family in the great outdoors – as usual.

Grandma & Friend, with Four Daughters & Son-In-Laws

Mom spent every Christmas with her Grandchildren

Mom loved to be with her family. Family Reunion 2009

She would play games and/or cards on a dime

She loved her daughter-in-laws like her own

Spending time with family was always a priority

Always making something delicious from scratch

She took a surprise like a champ. My airport surprise when she was going through Cancer treatments the 1st time

She had a good time wherever she went

Mom + Dad = Witness of a loving marriage

Her humor and faith brought her through everything. At the games she secretly organized, after found out her Cancer had come back. Mom showed us we could laugh, even in the hard times.

She was able to meet my Sweetheart, and get to know him a bit…

Beautiful Mom, inside and out

Whatever she was made, it was bound to be gooood

Many family meals together…

She instilled the Faith in us that kept her strong

Loved her sisters, and shopping. Sporting her stylized Converse – fashionable, and Doctor-recommended 🙂

Beloved and loving Mom, thank you.

It is the first time that we are celebrating her birthday without her physically present…tough stuff. Not a day goes by that we don’t think of her or miss her.

Mom, it gives me peace that you are forever happy and whole now. You ran the race with endurance, rest in the greatest Love of all now.

As for us, today we will celebrate your life, that gave us life; the joy that brought many joy; and the love that made others feel so loved.

Love you, my Mom, my hero.

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Our Angel

But He said to me, “My Grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9

This passage from St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians has come to me so many times in my life.  As my mother still lays dying, simply awaiting the birth of her Grandchild, Jacob, (more on that later) I am grasping this profound scripture on a whole new level.

Many people have told my Mom throughout her 2 battles with Cancer that she is an inspiration.  She would tell you, “I’m just me.”  My sweet Mom did not feel like she was stronger, most definitely not more “heroic” then any other person fighting for life — she was simply doing ‘what needed to be done’ to sustain the life she so desperately wanted to still share with us that know and love her.  Yet, she is a hero to many–I told her last night that she was mine–for leading a life uncommon and leaving a legacy of love that will continue to be passed on from generation to generation in her honor.  In a world fraught with so many problems, tragedies, persecutions, etc…a beautiful, pure, light such as my Mom seems so rare, and thus that more precious.

As for me, I first learned love and truth from my earthly parents – and I thank them for the beautiful example they have set.  Not perfect, as no one is except in Heaven, but as good as they could possibly try to be.  And as I continue to receive so many beautiful messages for Mom, my family, and myself, about how the love we have given has made even a small difference in someone’s life, well, it is extremely humbling.  Mom always believed in treating people the way you wanted to be treated.  How drastically would this world change if people actually followed that “Golden Rule”, based on the premise that they actually love themselves in an ordered way and know also how to carry themselves with dignity?

Back to St. Paul, I know more about weakness then strength.  I read kind and thoughtful messages from dear friends saying such things like how ‘courageous and strong’ I am, and quite frankly it is nothing at work in me except God that provides those appearances.  I know that’s probably what my Mom feels, and definitely what St. Paul was referring to in my opening scripture.  You see, as a friend of mine discussed with me the other week, it takes a more strength (to assent from your human will) to surrender then to hold on.  It seems the natural thing to try and hold on and control things, but through experience and being disciplined, I have learned that the more I try and hold on, the more turbulent things become.  Letting go is the hardest thing to do, and just when it appears that I have seemed to make even the smallest progress in that area, the Lord asks me to go deeper in trust and let go, or detach, from something even greater or harder.

Letting go of my Mom is the hardest thing that has ever been required of me.  But seeing how greatly such an angelic woman has suffered, well, it provides the necessary motivation to surrender.  My Dad, 3 brothers and their wives, myself and my fiancee, Mike, have all made our peace with Mom.  We have shared all the love, tears, laughs, and words needed, and told her to go Home in peace.  All that she asks about now–as her earthly light fades, and her heavenly one increases–is about Jacob, who will be the newest addition to the family of my brother, Paul, and his wife, Pilar.  I imagine this baby, Jacob, wrestling in Pilar’s womb, with his frequent starts and stops, much like Jacob in Biblical times wrestled all night with an Angel.  As many refer to my Mom as an Angel, I pictured the two, Jacob and Mom, in a tug-of-war, with Mom praying for him to arrive quickly, and Jacob resisting leaving the comfort of his mommy’s tummy to enter life as we know it.  And poor Pilar is caught up in the mix of it!

Well, God-willing, we will hear of Jacob’s arrival soon.  As my Mother laid crying in her Hospice bed the other morning, I asked her what it is that she wanted before she passed away.  All she kept echoing was, “I want to see Jacob, I want to see Jacob, I want to see Jacob,” as the tears streamed down her face.  I told her God was listening to her, and we prayed as my brother, Jeff, led us into trying to help usher that child into being born.  Well, as of the last we heard at around 9:00 pm EST last night, Pilar was having contractions 15 minutes apart and Paul was pre-loading their bags into the car to be ready.  I am up in the middle of the night with much anticipation, as I await the news about Jacob, and wait to see how it will affect my Mother’s delicate state.  Her body is shutting down now as the Cancer grows and takes over.  I hate Cancer, I hate it.  But I love my Mom and God, and know we all will get through this as so many before us have, and many after us will as well, God forbid.

But there will be one more Angel, or I think of her now as standing more with the Saints, Eve Marie Sanchez, in Heaven to intercede for suffering Cancer patients and families.  She will be powerful in prayer, and loving as ever – true to always how she has been, and perfected in Love for all eternity.

I am quite certain that I am sharing some very personal thoughts and family moments with you here and now for a purpose greater then I can now understand.  I know undoubtedly that there are people who need encouragement and to experience GOD’S LOVE for the first time, or again; and even in her preparations to leave this earth, it is amazing to see how the love in and around my Mother is still doing that.  I am in awe, and know that people will still respect my family and the suffering that are also going through even now.  I write to process these things as well, and it is something healing for me, and hopefully for my family too.

I will bring this to a close now.  As my Mother’s first Grandchild, Alyssa, my niece, holds a special relationship with my Mom.  At only 13-years-old, I am very proud of the sweet and faithful young lady she is growing into (good job, Jeff & Annette!).  She has shared many beautiful writings with us over these trying months and weeks that have moved many adults to tears.  The last one she wrote before they left my parent’s home on Monday is what my Mom said that she’d like to go with her in her casket.  Since a public tribute it will become, I felt it honoring to both my Mom and Alyssa to share it here and now, as it says everything much more simply and perfectly then I am able to at this point.

On the front of the paper, Alyssa drew a picture of a lovely Angel, and it says, “My Grandma”.  On the back, it says that which my Mom is longing for as well as what I will leave with you for some time now (I will be with some of Mom’s family coming in soon, and attending to some of the many loose ends to wrap up as time allows…):

You will have long hair in Heaven.

You will have the most beautiful dress in Heaven.

You will have nice long legs so you may dance in Heaven.

You will have wings to show you are free and can fly in Heaven.

You will have the brightest smile for when you look down at us – our day will be wonderful!

You will have a halo to show you are an Angel, but you don’t need one to show you are one now.

I love you, Grandma,

Alyssa

Your 1st Granddaughter

UPDATE as of 6:15 AM on 1/18/11:  I just got a call from my brother, Paul.  They are at the hospital, and Pilar is dialated at a 4 out of 10 right now.  She is having pretty severe contractions right now, and they will not be going home – this baby is coming!!!  But it will still be awhile.  Poor thing, she is exhausted, not having slept in 3 days, and has even gotten sick in her labor.  Please pray for God’s will, including strength for Pilar, support for Paul, speed for Jacob, steadfastness for Mom, and peace for us all.

Finally, this beautiful song from Audrey Assad, has also been speaking to my heart.


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A Valentine for Him

With only five days until Hallmark’s lottery of a holiday, one cannot enter a store without the visual bombardment of heartshaped overkill and death by chocolate, make it a double.  Yet at the heart of Valentine’s day (ba dump bump), the memorial of a Saint who gave his life for Love, exists noble intentions still.  It is from there that I have decided to allow my pen to try and release a bit of what is contained within my heart.

There is a love which has changed me, a love from which I will never recover even should I desire to do so.  All from a man who selflessly provides for me daily, accepting and appreciating me always just as I am.  Everyone who really knows him can’t help but love him.  He’s incredibly gifted and all too generous. He’s doing very well for himself considering he has abundant resources at his disposal, yet remains so humble.  I could go on and on…  You may be thinking, why have I not heard about this amazing relationship – what?!  But you have, I talk about Him often.  You see, there is none but Him, none but Jesus.

I share my love poem to Jesus with you, so that maybe you too will look within your heart and share with Him what is there, or perhaps even what you want to be there. You don’t have to write it out, you could pray it, sing it, YouTube it, skywrite it or whatever.  Love is not meant to be contained, so however you do it, let it be a true expression from you.  After my poem you will find a video of what I imagine could be His response to my Valentine.  With a moving slideshow, “God Is” by Danielle Rose, is the musical pairing I’ve selected.  Her voice, those words – well, just listen, you’ll understand.

MY VALENTINE FOR HIM

His is the heart from which all desires emanate and actualize.

With radiance that shatters obscurity, He illuminates the path of hope.

He is mercy that is unfailing, inexhaustible, crucified, and conquering.

Endlessly outstretched, His arms ache to impart the redemptive embrace.

Shrouded in humility, He remains incomparably reknown.

The purest proposed, His love is eternally in pursuit.

All-consuming is His enkindling fire, which purifies where it blazes.

Then quenching is His ocean of peace which pervades.

His faithful gaze is ever watchful, guiding, protecting.

The existence of all creation rests in His generous hands.

Who am I, that even a whisper to Him should escape my lips?

Though gently He takes my hand, dazzlingly adorns me, and draws me near.

In Love’s victory our hearts rejoice, each beat releasing restlessness and fear.

Mine is the heart comprising all I have to return to Him, which is His delight.

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