Monday, October 24, 2011

Stella and Another Lamb Story Remembered

Stella's arms couldn't stretch up any further. She was grunting and squirming in her stroller. "What on earth could she possibly want so bad? I've never seen her do this. She is only a year and half old. She can barely even talk," I thought to myself. I looked up in the direction of her agony. We were in a children's clothing store, but up on a shelf was a small stuffed animal of a LAMB. It had a little pink flower behind each ear. It really was precious. I handed it to Stella. She hugged it tight and held on to it through the rest of our shoppping. I looked at the price tag. It was an extra ten dollars I didn't have. We put it back on the shelf. Stella was sad and but peaceful.

It was the first time I had ever seen her react and want something so much. I was really taken back by it. The next day I went to my in-laws to visit. I was sitting on the couch talking to my mother-in-law and I told her what happened in the store with Stella and the lamb. She asked, "Well did you get it for her?" I said, "No. I didn't have the extra ten dollars for just a toy." The conversation topic changed and we continued to chit chat. The next thing I knew my father-in-law came in the front door with their mail. He handed it to Phillip's mom. We were continuing our casual conversation as she went through the mail. She opened a letter with a puzzled look on her face. She didn't know what it was about, but she knew who it was for. Inside the envelope were exactly ten, one dollar bills. The letter had to do about some survey. She turned to me, held out the money and said, "Well, I guess the Lord wants Stella to have that lamb." I refused it. She simply yet sternly replied, "I want you to get that lamb for Stella and when she gets older, tell her this story and how the Lord gives us the desires of our heart." I smiled at God's little work. The next day I went back to the mall and got Stella her little lamb.

As Stella grew older, I did tell her that story. She loved it. It was one of her favorites. As these memories come to mind, I continue to be amazed at the careful thought and preparation the Lord gave us for such a cross. How the events in my life, as I look at them, have not been a series of reactions, but a lovely thought out flow that connects poignant events. I see the purposeful direction. My God has steered me to and through many things but amazingly enough, there is a unique rhythm to it all. I had no idea that moment in the store would be so significant and speak volumes to me years later. Only God, who is a God of order and beauty down to the smallest details, could have planned something like that.

I pray and think through that moment. I examine it and look at it. I pray for the deeper understanding of it as I see the reason the Holy Spirit has brought it to mind. I know there is something He wants me to see. I am given the grace to grasp something deeper. I hope I can convey it in words. It is pretty intense and maybe even hard for some to understand and believe. I will do my best. So here it goes. I see how a soul is a soul no matter what the age or development. That even if the body and mind are very young or not well developed, the soul in essence is complete. Our soul is the part of us that shares in God's Divinity, in His eternity. It is the imprint of the Father, our Creator in us. As we grow and get older, our body and mind has more capacity to learn of it, to grasp it, to discover the deeper layers of it. However, those infinite layers have been there from the soul's establishment, its beginning. The soul can still communicate with God and even with others through limited physical capability. The desires of a soul has always been present. They are part of the soul's make-up, just as the color of a person's eyes are already set before they are even born. So even if the body and mind cannot speak for it, does not mean the infinite components of the soul do not exist yet. They are very much present. I can think of a couple other examples.

When I was about five years old, I was in school. I can clearly remember this assignment because I felt so passionately even at a young age. We had a blank piece of paper with a fill in the blank at the bottom. The sentence said, "When I grow up, I want to be ______." I wrote "a mom." And then I drew a picture of myself as an adult. I look back at that and remember the ardent longing and desire I had to one day be a mother. Where did that desire come from? I was five years old! With the physical knowledge and communication skills I had at such a young age, I could probably only convey a little bit of what I thought a mother was and did. I could probably tell you a mother was a lady who had babies. And I could probably give you a few examples of what a mother did like - she feeds the kids and takes care of them. As an adult, as a mother, the answer of myself as a five year old, doesn't even begin to explain in depth of what a mother is. My physical capabilities were not fully developed. I was only five. However, my soul still felt a passion for it. I desired it completely. So much so, I remember as I grew older in Jr. High I had a terrible fear God would call me to be a nun or something else. This fear did not derive from not wanting to be something else or a nun; it came from the depths of my longing to me a mother and the possiblity of that not being fulfilled. I wanted it so badly. My soul somehow knew before it could understand, the walk of holiness and happiness God desired for me.

Another clear example is quite simple. Gia is eleven months. She cannot talk, walk, or communicate physically very much. She can't do much physically at all. However, her soul still has some capacity to convey its desires. For example, and I kid you not. This started a few months ago. We go to daily Mass and we have images of Jesus and Mary in our home. When Gia passes by ANY of them she goes nuts. She starts kicking and squirming. I sometimes can barely hold on to her. She starts squealing with joy. She waves at the images and blows them kisses. She reaches out to touch them. She even starts to clap at them. And when we go to receive Communion she gives whoever is the one who hands the Eucharist to me, she gives a GIGANTIC smile. Her mouth cannot get wider and her eyes are squinted shut. Normally, when we encounter a stranger she just stares at them with a judging look. Gia also knows which image is Jesus whether He is in the form of a man, child, or baby. She knows the difference between Mary as well. I ask, "Where's Jesus?" And she can always point him out no matter what age He is. And when there is Mary, she points and says, "Mamam." Her soul, even though her physical being is so young, still communicates of such heavenly things.

I see how even though Stella was so young, her soul, the part of her that is eternal was calling out its desire to her Creator, to her Abba, her Father. He answered back and truly did give her the desire of her heart even if she didn't understand it yet. For it is The Father that placed it in her to begin with while she was fashioned ever so perfectly in my womb. As the body and mind, the person grows, certain formation of the soul takes place. It can mature in the Light of Truth or be hindered by surrounding darkness. However, the soul's presence is not diminished nor does it get bigger. Its value remains the same as when God gave it to a life until the day it returns home. The discovery of each new-found layer is what enlightens each person, but the layers are and always will be there, found or not. Or on the other hand, if the soul is not fed attributes of God - that is what is good, holy, pure, beautiful, etc. the layers and facets will remain hidden. And with much sorrow I say, by one's own self, the soul's existence my even be forgotten all together.

Contrary to what the world teaches, the physical world was intended to point to the realities of the spirit world. The physical world should aid us in the spiritual, not the opposite. It should reflect, make tangible, manifest, and represent the spiritual, whether the good or the evil. It is the same concept of God using the physical world, the natural, to communicate to us the spiritual, the supernatural. We see Jesus do this constantly in the Gospels when He speaks of parables and stories of events with His followers. These stories and parables about His life are not just to know about what He did when He walked on earth, but to learn of the spiritual teaching He has for us. He continues to speak through us in similar ways. So as I see it, the physical story of Stella in the store speaks to me of the spiritual teaching. Just as my soul spoke of my desire at a young age of the path that would lead me to a deeper awareness of God, so did hers. I see that story as another preparation for the great calling God had for my Stella and my family. If we carefully and prayerfully listen to the desires that our SOUL speaks from the depth of us, not the desires of the flesh, we see we are actually responding to our God, the One who place them there in each of us from our very beginning. He loves us so and has triumphant plans for each of us.


Well, I hope I was able to convey fairly clearly my enlightenment. I know it's pretty deep. I feel like I could only touch on the surface through writing what I was shown. Praise be to God forever.




**Just for fun, I also wanted to show you a picture of the name craft I did for Gia. I always do one for children's rooms. I hope to share more work as I am able to do it. I was inspired by some letter I saw at Anthropologie so I did my own version. I hand painted the G. I bought a number "1" at a hardware store, flipped it upside down and added some buttons and the heart shaped rock we found on the beach when we went to visit my family in August. I painted it and used it as the dot on the "i". The letter A, I stitched fabric and placed it on a board I covered with an old vintage children's book page. I then found the little black shelf at the goodwill for a few dollars. So...my project cost me about $15-20 dollars, with the metal "1" being the most expensive item at about $9; instead of buying manufactured letters from Anthro for over $50. YAY! It was fun.



















Monday, October 17, 2011

Silence is Not Golden, it's a Gift

I cannot help but continue to think of the gift of silence. Silence can also seem a bit strange and uncomfortable as well. However, once I got passed the initial squirming that comes with it, the beauty through it is necessary and revelling to my soul. (I don't that "revelling" is a word, but it's just what came out in my writing so I'm leaving it). I remember four to five years ago when I was reading about the call to silence in the home, I became convicted of it. (By silence in the home, I mean eliminating or cutting down on unnecessary or as much outside noise as possible. Not the interaction of the family, or talking, or sounds out doors.) I worked on keeping the "outside" noise to a minimum. I designated certain days to run errands, specific times the children and myself could watch TV, driving without the radio or music, and even trying to limit phone conversation and calls. I gradually worked my way into each one of these tasks, building on each step to more quiet and contemplation in our home, or our "domestic church", as Blessed JPII calls it. For our homes, our families, give us great opportunities to strive for greater holiness and is a place where God dwells. Becoming aware of these things is much easier done when we quiet our lives as much as possible. Silence eliminates many unnecessary distractions. This venture of mine was more difficult than I had thought.

At night I got into the habit of after the children would go to bed I would just plop on the couch and find something to watch on TV. It was my time to unwind and zone out before bed. This is a wonderful thing to do. It is good to have some time to relax at the end of the day. However, spending it infront of the TV isn't the only way. I needed to check my moderation of such a habit. I can picture one evening when the children were sleeping, actually I only had Stella at the time, so when Stella was asleep. Phillip ran out to get ice cream or something. I sat down to watch TV. I decided to challenge myself to not turn on the TV just until Phillip got home and simply sit on the couch in silence. So I couldn't go distract myself with another task. I actually sat there fighting myself! I would watch the clock feeling like he was taking hours. I would even give in and turn the TV on a few times for a minute and then I would tell myself, "No, turn it off, you can do this." That is how much I relied on distraction, noise, entertainment, etc. Phillip would be gone for a total of about thirty minutes and I would literally be battling myself the whole time! Gradually, such a task became easier and conquered and I would move on to the next one. This little story is so humbling as I sit here thinking of what I am writing. But it's true. I didn't think it would be as challenging as it was. I was surprised by how strong and large my human weakness is, eventhough I shouldn't be. It is just a reminder of how and who I am without God - very helpless and pathetic indeed. I say that with conviction and gratitude. I am not discouraged by it. Instead, I am relieved. For the more aware of my weakness and helplessness I am, the freer I become. For I know that Jesus promises to make up all that I lack and that all things in life have God's hands on them. He and I both know how by myself, everything is a mountain for me to climb. I do not expect to do much on my own. However, with His grace the mountains become mounds that can simply be stepped over. As long as they are the mounds He wants me to conquer.

Anyways...back to silence. So this goal I had years ago has been up and down, just as life is. There are days and seasons when no silence has been obtained. For instance, after we have a new baby, the TV is on much more for the other little ones. And that is okay too. For as St. Therese says, "EVERYTHING is grace". She said during the last months of her life when she could not receive the Eucharist because of her illness, and her sisters felt so terrible for her, Therese would say that receiving the Sacraments is a grace, but that if there are times when God does not permit it, that too is grace as well, because everything is grace. However, over all I do try to make silence in our home a general goal.

I ask myself as I ponder these things, "What have I undeservedly gained from silence?" More than I know I am sure. More silence in our home has helped me focus on the mundane tasks God gives us to become more like Him. It aids my awareness of heaven's presence and communication through ordinary life, making it extraordinary. In silence, my soul hears the quiet voice of the Holy Spirit, for He is soft and gentle. Jesus spoke these words about silence to St. Faustina, "Strive for a life of recollection so that you can hear my voice, which is so soft that only recollected souls can hear it."

The silence helps even our children know their parents are available to talk to them, listen, spend time and play with them. It makes us as parents more approachable and available to our children. The PRACTICE of silence and recollection helps me to learn of my own self, my interior life, my soul, Jesus' Kingdom on this earth. This practice helps me to learn to remain at peace no matter what challenges lay before me. It helps create a haven in our home from the chaos of the world, for anyone who enters it. One of my favorite things it has done is it has led the way to many blessed, fruitful and anointed conversations with Phillip and the children. I believe our striving for silence helped open the door for Stella's soul to blossom so much as it did. It was a tool for her own soul's preparation to go Home. For that alone, I am deeply grateful.

But tonight, I am going to enjoy going out with Phillip and maybe even watching a movie if it's not too late. So silence is not on the list for tonight. Blessings!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Conversation of the Merciful God with a Soul Striving after Perfection

I just wanted to share a passage from Divine Mercy in My Soul - The Diary of St. Faustina. It is titled by Faustina as - "Conversation of the Merciful God with a Soul Striving after Perfection."

"Jesus: I am pleased with your efforts, O soul aspiring for perfection, but why do I see you often sad and depressed? Tell Me, My child, what is the meaning of this sadness, and what is its cause?

Soul: Lord, the reason for my sadness is that, in spite of my sincere resolutions, I fall again into the same faults. I make resolutions in the morning, but in the evening I see how much I have departed from them.

Jesus: You see, My child, what you are of yourself. The cause of your falls is that you rely too much upon yourself and too little on Me. But let this not sadden you so much. You are dealing with the God of mercy, which your misery cannot exhaust. Remember, I did not allot only a certain number of pardons.

Soul: Yes, I know all that, but great temptations assail me, and various doubts awaken within me and moreover, everything irritates and discourages me.

Jesus: My child, know that the greatest obstacles to holiness are discouragement and an exaggerated anxiety. These will deprive you of the ability to practice virtue. All temptations united together ought not disturb your interior peace, not even momentarily. Sensitiveness and discouragement are the fruits of self love. You should not become discouraged, but strive to make My love reign in place of your self love. Have confidence, My child. Do not lose heart in coming for pardon, for I am always ready to forgive you. As often as you beg for it, you glorify My mercy.

Soul: I understand what is the better thing to do, what pleases you more, but I encounter great obstacles in acting on this understanding.

Jesus: My child, life on earth is a struggle indeed; a great struggle for My kingdom. But fear not, because you are not alone. I am always supporting you, so lean on Me as you struggle, fear nothing. Take the vessel of trust and draw from the fountain of life, - for yourself, but also for other souls, especially as are distrustful of My goodness. "

I hope this uplifts the journey you are on this week. Blessings!

Posting Today

Sorry about the delayed post. I will be posting tonight. The children have been under the weather and I went to a healing service last night. I got home later than I anticipated and I was too tired to type. I will post after the children go to bed tonight.

Monday, October 3, 2011

IMPOSSIBLE

I've been thinking about a fact I recently heard. A mother carries cells from each child through her entire life. Furthermore, she carries even more if the child never reached full term. I've just been dwelling on this amazing way God created women. I think about how it must be biologically impossible for a mother to ever forget her child. Each one leaves an imprint not solely on her emotions, mind, and soul but on her physical body! I think of how I will carry physical parts of Stella in myself the rest of my time on earth. My mind is trying to wrap itself around such a wonder. It is so beautiful to me. I cannot help but think of the passage Is. 49:15, "Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget I will never forget you." I dwell upon how God made it biologically impossible for a mother to forget her child and yet in this verse He tells us even IF the IMPOSSIBLE came to pass, He still could NEVER forget us. I am thankful for this because I know a soul such as mine, could never live for even a moment without Him. I can live without my daughter for a time while I am on this earth, but not my Jesus. Furthermore, I am confident in His love for me that no matter how he tried, he too could not stay away from me either. He feels this way about each of us.

I hear these words speak from the depths of my soul. My sould tells me, "Francesca, do you not perceive it? Suffering is NOTHING. I say it again, suffering is nothing, and yet it is EVERYTHING. For in suffering I am promised my life. I am promised His Kingdom. I am promised HOME! I say to myself, "I don't like it. I can't do it. It hurts too much. Please Jesus, ask someone else. Someone holy. Someone stronger." But then I hear the words, "But my child, who? If not you, then who?" There is no other way. He would not call me here, if He couldn't give me greatness; if He didn't have ALL of heaven to give. Yes, life moves forward. There are many joys to share with Him and my loved ones on earth, but it CAN NOT steal my heart from the place I am MADE for. It can NOT steal my heart form the hands that formed me, the hands I am made for. So then, how then do I carry on? How do we do this Jesus? Through silence. A soul cannot thrive if it is choked by the chaos of the world. On the contrary, a soul will experience freedom and pieces of heaven in the simplicity of silence. He loves me too much to let me go. Every tear I shed is kept in heaven and when I come, they are transformed into precious jewels for the crown that I have been fashioning on this earth. We are daughters and sons of Royalty. I must go now and quiet my soul, for my King has treasures of heaven to whisper to it.

We are never forgotten. Let us strive this week to quiet down our days and not forget Him who surrounds us! Blessings upon you all!! All is well.