Monday, March 28, 2011

Oh, I forgot to add that I will post pictures of Stella in her lamb costume but I can't find my camera charger right now. And my older sister is going to put some pictures of me and my other two little saints-in-the-making very soon!

From Curls to A Crown

In the last part of my previous post I brought up how it is only a child because of his or her innocence that can be given the privilege to truly share in Jesus' death. Jesus is referred to as the "Lamb of God" knowing that in the Jewish culture lambs that had no blemishes were used as sacrificial offerings. I have noted that God has been showing us that He was preparing us, as He always does because of His endless mercy. I want to share one of these experiences.
I was convicted a few years ago that our family would not celebrate Halloween, we would celebrate All Saints Day. I wanted to bring back the traditional forms of celebrating this beautiful holiday that somehow over time evolved into celebrating the side of darkness. Anyways...Stella, I thought was a little too young to understand and desire to dress up like a saint and since she has a deep love for animals I suggested she be a lamb - like "the Lamb of God." Her eyes lit up with excitememnt and without a moment of hesitation exclaimed, "Yes! I can be Jesus' lamb and Johnny (her brother) can be the shepherd!" So our first real celebration of All Saints Day was decided. Stella would be a lamb. The story doesn't stop here. She wanted her two cousins, Mariana and Grace to be lambs too. So in 2009 I made three little lamb costumes and one shepherd costume. They were the cutest flock of sheep you ever saw.
Within the first couple of weeks after Stella went home, my sister-in-law Monica, the mother of Mariana and Grace, found on her answering machine the message from Stella from over a year and half ago. On the machine in her precious child's voice she asks, "Mariana, Grace will you be a lamb like me?" There are no such things as coincidences and there is no time with God. There have been several confirmations of this very idea of my Stella being a pure sacrificial lamb.
So now as parents many of us in our family are using this to incorporate the becoming of a lamb with our other children. We ask, when for example, sharing does not want to take place, "Are you being a lamb like Stella, like Jesus right now?" It is a real concept for them because they know concretely and personally who Stella is - their sister, cousin, friend.
And I cannot expect my other children to respond to this question correctly if I myself cannot answer it correctly as well. When I am stuck in a moment of grief, thinking of how MY life has changed, how MY heart is broken, and how MY daughter was taken, I stop and ask myself, "Am I being a lamb right now like my Stella, like my Jesus?" And in some selfish moments I think, "No, I'm not and frankly I don't care. It hurts too much." But then grace kicks in and helps me refocus on the giving of myself and suffering for others and the much greater good. And just like my Stella was given an innocent death like our Lord she on the other hand received a GLORIOUS resurrection as well and a marvelous crown of new life. People were often very drawn to Stella and some of it was because she has these beautiful ringlet curls. So I think now how she went from curls to a crown.
And I recall a part I read in the book I've mentioned about Mary. I noticed as I was reading, that Mary prior to Jesus' birth, according to the mystics, never asked God for anything for herself. However, when she became a mother things changed a little. It was time for Jesus' circumcision. She was struggling with this because she didn't want him to suffer any pain. So she asked God that he wouldn't feel any pain "for her heart's sake". Do you know what the answer was? The holy Archangels Michael and Gabriel replied, "...This will be the beginning of His sufferings in obedience to His Father's Will..." This says to me that from the first moment of our existence, from the first moment of our child's existence, they are to serve in the purpose of our Creator. So any suffering even our child endures is to help them in the practice of obedience to our God. And even in our questioning and pain we must remember two things - First and foremost that GOD IS LOVE. And contrary to our cultural beliefs, obedience is NOT an act of imprisonment, but an act of freedom.
My daughter lives fully now in Love and Freedom. And I am sure there is no other place even I as her mother could have shown and given her that could ever had made her feel as safe and joyful as she does there. And as I now know, heaven is truly only a veil away. And this deeply agonizing way I long for my Stella, is how Jesus longs for each one of His children - you and me. Poor, sweet Jesus how he must hurt. For as no one can fill the place in my heart that belongs to my little saint, no one can fill the places in Jesus' heart that belongs to each one of us. And like two puzzle pieces link perfectly together, so does our soul and the specific place that is only ours in our Lord's heart. It is our real home. And just as Saint Augustine said, "You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find rest in Thee."

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Blog Game Plan

Ok, so as I've been praying through this blog thing and my goal is to write a new post once a week. I will be reflecting on what I should write during my prayer time and then posting it. Pictures and videos will evolve as well. I want to make sure I keep it in moderation for myself and not get carried away. I just want to make sure my vocation doesn't get interrupted too much. I think it will just help me organize this into my life. And it will help anyone that is reading it to know when to check for any new posts. In other words, you won't have to waste your time continually checking my site. Anyways, I am praying for each soul who encounters this part of my journey. So yes, that means, I am offering some of this suffering for personally and specifically YOU. So don't be surprised when extra wonderful graces of God come your way. And I have asked my Stella to be praying for each one of you and your families as well. She and I are in this together. I'm not exactly sure what day I will be posting, but I am thinking it will be Mondays. So let us continue on towards this only righteous cause.

Monday, March 21, 2011

She Carries Us Now

My legs ached, my ears hurt, my heart broken. My Stellers battled with colic. I knew nothing different being my first experience with having a new born. My husband was working a night job on top of his career and I paced our hall over and over. She launched me into a crash course of parenting. Murmuring prayers, singing songs, and walking miles became a nightly ritual in our home. I still become exhausted thinking of that season. And now the roles are reversed. Within the first week after Stella went home to our awaiting heaven, I was up once again at night crying walking the hall. I said to her, "Stella, your dad and I carried you for miles in your agony when you were a baby. Now it is time for you to carry us in ours." And she is. Jesus is so good. He allows her to be revealed to us in new ways now, confirming time and time again two realities - she is alive and heaven is real. Those stories will eventually evolve in these posts as I discern where they should be. So much is being taken in right now and so much is being shown to us. I cannot stress the gratitude I have towards my Creator in giving Stella to us as a gift. I love who I am because of all the unknown sacrifices I have had to make in becoming a mother. And despite how it may appear from the outside, I cannot say I wish I was not experiencing this suffering because in it I come face to face with my Jesus and that, my friends, is the will of God - his perfect and loving will. I would tremble in the past imagining suffering like this, and never understood when others would talk about the beauty in it. But it is true. I sit here and I can't believe what I am typing. The beauty in suffering is like no other. Try not to ever be afraid of it. The grace is consuming and is the direct effect of His infinite mercy. And His infinite mercy is the direct effect of His profound and transcendent Love. And it is this Love that my daughter ran towards. Do you have any idea how unfathomable that reality is as a mother to say? My daughter, when she saw Jesus RAN towards the greater Love. I think, "Whose love could be greater for a child than her own mother's?" A child does not easily trust someone. A child runs to her mother when she is unsure, afraid, happy, excited, hurt, etc. There she knows she is safely and unconditionally loved. And yet, Stella when she saw our Lord went RUNNING, not to me, her mother, but to her God. What kind of Love must this be? I desire to know it more and to give it more. If a child is clearly drawn and can recognize the magnitude of this perfect Love, then I too must become like one. And this is how my Stella carries me now. She showed me with her time on earth and she shows me now as she sits next to her Daddy God's thrown, that she is setting the path before me to recognize the greater Love. For as Scripture says, we must become like little children to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. For a soul that goes home as a child is given the privilege very few are given. They are given the glory of being united to Jesus' innocent death. Only a child can be given such an honoring gift. Jesus died innocently and only a child can receive that crown in union with our Lord. GO STELLA! Help mommy to become little like you.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Thousand Times "Yes"

"Would you have said yes if you knew what it would entail?" This was one of the first questions Fr. John asked as we sat with him in the room upstairs at my in-laws. "A thousand times over," I answered with fervor and without hesitation. The question still rings out in my head and each time I think of it, the answer remains the same. How could this be I think? How could I say yes to so much suffering? My flesh does not understand this answer my spirit launched forth. I cannot help but compare everything in this time to our sweet Mother. She brings such consolation to me. I have been given books on grieving and losing loved ones, but the book I find to be the most comforting and helpful is "The Life of Mary - As Seen by the Mystics." Nancy Mills, a mother of five whose nineteen year old son received his crown of new life after battling cancer about eight months ago, gave this book to me. She knows. She gets it. When I pick it up, I feel like our Lady takes soothing balm and gently rubs the wounds of my heart, as only a mother could do. With such tenderness she does this for me and my strength and hope is renewed. The Holy Spirit revealed to Mary all that was to come if she accepted the request to be the Mother of God. And as we know, she said yes. So I say yes too. And as it is shown that even through her parents and the way St. Anne and Joachim were prepared, and then how God prepared Mary, I see in hindsight how God has been preparing me too.
"Your thoughts are not my thoughts. Your ways are not my ways. So far above is heaven from earth, so are my thoughts above your thoughts and my ways above your ways."
(I probably didn't get that word for word correct.) This is the Psalm I read the day before I found out I was pregnant with Stella. I just graduated college in Indiana, moved back home to California where Phillip and I got married that August, and then moved to Arizona where my husband lived. My mom begged me to push the wedding back a couple months just to give myself some time to breath after graduating. We discerned "no." My plans were to go to graduate school at ASU. God's plans were different. Stella was conceived on our wedding night. I know that for a fact. Her Aunt Monica would always say, "Well, if Stella ever starts questioning why she is on this earth, we'll just tell her the story of her conception to prove there is no doubt that God has a unique plan for her." And now I think not only of the story of her conception, but if I would have pushed my wedding back as my mom desired, she wouldn't have been born at all. And I am eternally grateful for God's guidance in that decision. So... a few weeks later after I came home from class, to my disbelief and shock I found out I was pregnant. Tears of devastation flooded my eyes for about a month as I was forced to get used to God's way and let go of mine. For Phillip and I were always convicted that as soon as we had children I would stay home. I just didn't think it would be so soon. During my very sick pregnancy I knew her name was to be Stella and I wanted to honor our Lady so her middle name is Maria. She is Stella Maria - Star of the Sea. On, May 11th 2005 after a very difficult and long labor my little soon-to-be saint was born. I unlike Mary, had no idea what our life together would hold, but none-the-less I did say yes.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

This is a love story.
It is not a typical love story where boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, get married, and live happily ever after, THE END. This is a love story that we don't get to watch in the movies or read in a novel. This is the part of the love story "they" don't tell you about. The real love story. It is the part inbetween the "getting married" and the "the end". It is about the "living happily ever after". Have you ever wondered what that means? We hear and read it plenty of times but no one gives us the details. My love story is just that - the answer to that question. My love story does have a little of boy meets girl and so forth, but it does not have "THE END." For as I am realizing, my love story is actually only a continuation of the GREATEST love story; that is, when God sent His only Son. And since God is Love, and God is infinite, Love NEVER ends. This is my journey for the one righteous cause - that is, the Cause of Love.