Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Life is an opportunity...

(this is my "one little word" for 2012, "fresh courage daily" will be my motto)

Life is an opportunity, benefit from it. 
Life is a beauty, admire it. 
Life is a dream, realize it. 
Life is a challenge, meet it. 
Life is a duty, complete it. 


Life is a game, play it. 
Life is a promise, fulfill it. 
Life is sorrow, overcome it. 
Life is a song, sing it. 

Life is a struggle, accept it. 
Life is a tragedy, confront it. 
Life is an adventure, dare it. 
Life is luck, make it. 
Life is life, fight for it.
~ Mother Teresa (1910-1997)

 Just when we are happily able to now celebrate one parent recovering from something similar, another falls into the same diagnosis, smacking hard; 

Congestive heart failure 

(Heart failure, also called congestive heart failure, 
is a condition in which the heart can no longer pump 
enough blood to the rest of the body.)

Would you please, in your charity, offer a prayer of Thanksgiving for my husband's mother now out of hospital after a five week stay, AND ... for my father, who endured a very rough weekend, entered the hospital emergency ward yesterday, suffering from heart failure, and there remains himself for a few days? 

Would you please also assist us with continued prayer, that the team of doctors will be touched by the Master Healer, that all will be in His perfect plan and will for my dad.

Love you Dad!

Courage ~ Fresh Courage Daily


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Blue Winter (in Lenten Time)

Blue Winter

Winter uses all the blues there are.
One shade of blue for water, one for ice,
Another blue for shadows over snow.
The clear or cloudy sky uses blue twice-
Both different blues. And hills row after row
Are colored blue according to how far.
You know the bluejay's double-blur device
Shows best when there are no green leaves to show.
And Sirius is a winter bluegreen star. 

~ Robert Frost

On January 12th, a family who tends to keep the tradition each Sunday morning, of sitting directly in front of our family at church, the ones with the little cuties we smile at and have connected with over time, happily celebrated the arrival of their new baby girl "Marie". She was born the most feminine and daintiest little gal, so not like all their other strapping newborns have been before her. 

One week later, many parishioners were invited and gathered for Marie's baptism right after Sunday morning mass. Cake and coffee were served in the basement, and there was no sign, no clue, nor any hint of what was to come, just three days later. 

Rushed to emergency, this wee babe was in a critical state. Her parents were given the difficult news that this precious daughter had a rare condition called "Edwards Syndrome", also otherwise known as "Trisomy 18". She was suffering critical cardiac symptoms, among other associated organ failures, and wasn't expected to live much longer.  

Time with this wee babe suddenly became incredibly precious!

The past few Sundays have created a time of mourning in our parish, just knowing how difficult it must be for this family, the mother weeping quietly while another small one was hugging her tightly on her lap, the father attempting to be strong and hold it together while obviously attempting a prayerful concentration on the photo of his new baby resting gently within his missal, and the rest of the children (this was baby number nine) all trying to be brave while hardly understanding the full scope of what is happening to them. 

Last Sunday was an especially stark contrast when (of all times!) the chicken pox hit their home, and with the help of family and friends, both mother/father attended mass on their own. Both were arm and arm most of the time, or holding hands with tissues moist and interchanged often for fresh ones, they were all alone in their painful thoughts and pew, for the very first time in forever. Recently, their baby had been transferred to a more local hospital nearby after having been transported initially to the children's hospital in a larger city quite a distance away. 

As the case has been each day, they were going again after mass to spend the day with her, savoring every single extended blessed moment possible, as she has lived much longer than all odds were first estimated. Still, with a large hole in her heart and continued multiple organ failures, it remains all too grim for any chances of survival, her last breath only a matter of time. 

Just two weeks ago, the young mother whose eyes met mine briefly gave way to her seeking me and falling full sweep into my arms. Words were unspoken and there she wept, hard, on my shoulder, and her husband watched helplessly nearby, our warm misty united eyes also catching glimpses, but not wanting to be let go, I just held her tightly in a warm and loving embrace until she was able to compose herself again.

The clock ticked, but time stood still. It was such an honor to be a vessel allowing her to release sorrow's pent up expressions, to mourn with her, to know I could at the very least offer her that moment. There are no words for such a special grace as that became for me. None.

It's Lent. I know that. 

A green light beckons for all things in our life's priority reflections, to attempt to gain a closer walk with God, to seek out his will in our personal circumstances, and allow sacrifice to become a way of life for us for a mere, puny, six weeks - six out of fifty-two weeks. 

And many scoff and deny themselves this ripe and bountiful season. In their busyness they tend instead to shift their priorities to the frivolous time wasters, the insignificant in the grand scope of importance.

What an utter waste of promise to skip this opportunity...such a tiny space in time to enable a gain in new longed for habits, spring cleaning anyone (who can miss this one!), and perhaps the glorious understanding of a whole heavenly kingdom. Seems utterly wasteful not to try. 

Maybe we'll stumble, maybe we'll forget. Often. Maybe we'll put ourselves to the test, with tough goals for home and hearth, things to do around our homes, such lofty pious goals perhaps included in the long list. Maybe though none will be attained. But at least we can say we made a worthy attempt. And, "we tried". 

Maybe Lent will visit us, we won't have to go looking for it, because as anyone knows; life happens!

And he cometh to his disciples, 
and findeth them asleep, and he saith to Peter: 
What? Could you not watch one hour with me?

~ Matthew 26:40

During this time of the liturgical year however, on the flip side, the reality is some folks have extra painful crosses unexpectedly filling their lives, with weak and horrendously futile attempts made to try and understand such things. 

And worst of all, a misty fog of disbelief creates a blinding vision. Like the almost invisible mustard seed, they eventually sift through, and find their way through the pain to the cross, and blessings come their way in most mysterious ways when all is said and done.

Nothing else seems to matter during times such as this. Priorities are mindful, because it's the only way to move forward. How long Lord? How long? 

Time floats elsewhere, somewhere out yonder, certainly time shockingly stands still, the feeling of being in a bad dream begins to creep in, and never leave. 

A stormy time awaits our parish couple as they've been forced to prepare for the burial of their new baby. The topics with their children have included death, plans for an upcoming funeral, and then searching to remember that there is a beautiful and eternal life waiting ahead, a happy thought to be sure, for their wee Marie. Still, it's evident the bond of the parents and child are strong, offering up their own desires to the express will of God's is tough.

My heart hurts for them, for this couple who yearn this baby's heavenly reward, and for a happier time ahead before all are reunited some day. We may not know why this happened, but we trust and know there is a greater heavenly purpose to be sure, a possibility perhaps that very soon a perfect little saint will be amongst us. 

As more newborns are about to enter our church pews, a constant reminder of new fresh from heaven little lives, I pray and offer up my Lent for this family, that they may experience a tremendous and beautiful peace that surpasses *all* understanding.


Friday, February 03, 2012

when back in October...

When October had finally arrived, an open window appeared to get back to the westcoast to be with the rest of our family. 

With Thanksgiving briefly behind us, we quickly celebrated our daughter's birthday and praised God she was alright after having been in a car accident. 

At dusk, when driving down a country road, quickly without warning an entire family on bicycles came into view before her, and when the little girl fell off her bicycle directly in her path, she had no choice than to veer to the right, in order to miss running her over. Swerving hard to her right, she veered into a meadow straight and hard - into a tree, which was damaged and uprooted a bit from the blow. 


Thankfully, another larger tree on her left side prevented her car from flipping over when her roof hit it, the blunt force tipping back to get her wheels back on the ground. 


Traumatized, sore and suffering from whiplash, it was a nail biter until her car came out of the shop the day before I flew to Vancouver so she could get to work in our absence. 

Both hubby and I found ourselves often thinking and praying for our young lady - during our entire trip, prayer intentions continually offered heavenward.

For many months, there has been such sweetness filling our lives, coupled of course with an almost equal amount of sorrows. Life is just that way of course, always something to either kick us down, keep us on our knees, and allow us to remember the fragility of life. People matter, more than things, my mantra over and over again. We're so pleased that our long hoped for visit back to the westcoast was able to happen, where we truly delighted in meeting face to face with our newest grandbaby and hugging all the many ones we love who live there. 

Our "attempts" to travel were indeed many, half a dozen times from June-October at least. The preference had been a summer road trip to avoid air travel and hypoxi issues, but eventually after two emergent health situations fairly much took our breath away, my husband was, at last given clearance to fly. Actually, he was given clearance, with strong life saving prescription in hand...just in case, lots of medical advice, and at the very same time, none of these medical professionals really could predict how all would end up. 

Also, behind him during September and early October were photography sessions with over 250 assorted photos snapped, and a few hours of live video taken, all to be unveiled slowly over time in dramatic presentation form, for a major fundraiser at the respiratory physiotherapy hospital he continues to attend, and visit other patients at biweekly. 

I love this photo of him above, sent to us by the hospital director, where words have no business being attached, his pose and stance like mine, which speaks loudly on how we both feel about still having our life together despite all the unknown variables this year.

Frustrated, and nothing working out in our favor, all while new grandbaby was growing older and older before we could even meet her, finally we had to throw in the towel after cancelling so many times and just hop on a plane and get over there.  Our grandbaby was eight months old, and at last, we would be able to be face to face with her. 

All must have been meant to be because for the first time in several years, nothing emergent, or of an anxious producing nature occurred. We left in the rain, we arrived in the rain, it rained most of the time during our trip, but no matter the barometric pressure wasn't an issue either. Thank you God!

Emotionally, all becomes a little overwhelming with so many attempts made, so many disappointments to yet again have to share with our older children; no, we can't come at that time after all, when they've spent vacation times from work, awaiting our visit, working their schedules so many times around us. 

Once there, our visit became joyous and gut busting exciting, crazy and exhilarating, but somehow also absolutely exhausting! Gee whiz though, so many warm memories were collected, so many poignant moments were shared, so many "I love yous" exchanged, so many warm hugs collected, and then all too soon, it was time to leave - again. 

Each time we visit the westcoast, even as quietly as we were about heading over there this time because we were concentrating on all the family events to attend, it always, very quickly becomes a whirlwind of connecting with our loved ones. 


Never in the plan is exhaustion, no way for we get three additional hours, don't we? For some reason though, it always seems to end up very tiring, after the fact, at least once we arrive home again. I'm going to blame it all on time zone changes. Yep, that sounds good to me.

Of huge importance was not only spending time with loved ones, giddily, in the forefront and of huge importance, our younger two children were invited beforehand by a former priest, that if our trip west worked with the designated timing, they could participate in the reception of their Sacraments of Confirmation, right along with their niece, AND family around for that event, all which happily coincided during our visit, though it seemed like such an odd time of year.

As exciting as the whole idea was, reality struck hard, and it fast became an intense study time to fill hours and hours of our days. But as odd as that timing first appeared, nothing prepared me initially for just how perfect all would be revealed, when we realized the beauty and blessing of having this sacrament fall on the traditional Catholic calendar of the "Feast of Christ the King"

It meant so much to all of us for these two to obtain this sacrament with extended family present, but it also meant a continued commitment to studying ahead of time towards that goal, on the plane, reviewing with their sponsors on the telephone and in person, more studying at the hotel, and finally - a huge oral/written testing plus face to face interview with a familiar priest. 

I'm sure not only the candidates are tested, so are the parents. :) Whew! This mommy was really sweating while awaiting the results. Pacing back and forth became a temporary pastime on that appointment evening both for my hubby and myself. We paced for what seemed like "forever"! 

On Confirmation Day, it was a wonderful surprise to find my husband volunteering and working alongside the other men in the kitchen, all preparing ahead of time, to present a scrumptious celebration meal. 

What a great afternoon, just to sit and absorb what had just happened in the lives of our younger two and grandaughter, to be able to visit with family and friends, to engage in wonderful conversations over a meal, and to have their new Bibles gifted to them, and then blessed and signed by the Bishop in remembrance of this wondrous sacramental day. And then there was our grandson, heart swelling moments for me to catch my breath when seeing him as an altar boy for the first time. 

Many more wonderful memories for sure were at hand, so many; grandchildren slipping their little hands in mine, sneaking onto my lap or kissing my cheek for no reason, cherishing the vision of our daughter in law as sponsor to our daughter, and then happily seeing my father accompanying yet again, another son on to the altar as Confirmation sponsor.

Nothing is more fitting than ending with Benediction, especially when one is bursting with an abundance of gratitude and utter thanksgiving for the great day! 

It was odd traveling without the entire family together, at all. Our older two living over here are deep into the wonderful world of adulthood, both having completed schooling in career training over the past year. It's hard though. It's so hard to have the family split up and not able to reunite altogether more often.
Onward, we had a full agenda to devote all of our time with family. Aside from all the studying and preparing for the upcoming Sacrament of Confirmation for our younger two, we also had our sweet new grandbabe to spend time with, birthdays to celebrate; my mother, six grandchildren, daughter/grandaughter to have a horse riding lesson together, a soccer game to attend, sharing in everyone's interests, and so forth. 



Back and forth on rainy days from hotel to wherever we had to be, be it 7:00 am to see grandbaby before her morning nap, as early to share breakfast out with Nana/Grandpa for the birthday child/children individually, or dining together with family for a meal, strong coffee was a definite necessity. 

I wouldn't trade a moment of any trip, not ever, and find it's always difficult to spend and think of final moments with everyone before having to leave for home again. Regrets only for having a somewhat broken camera, realizing I missed so many photo opportunities along the way, a tremendous and great regret for a photography buff like me for sure.

As we boarded our plane to return back home after 2 weeks, my husband's mother had just undergone a very serious operation for a large blood clot, only two days after we all pitched in to move them into assisted living. The timing just didn't seem fair, not at all, for she barely got to nest in her new home. The photo above seemed like a happy time when in actual fact, we were awaiting an ambulance for her, and then prayed all would be well.

Deep in thought, our departure was very bittersweet, mostly as we began to assimilate the gravity of the situation. Should we stay? Should we leave? She's since remained in a vicious cycle of continual recovery mode, hoping and praying all might begin to settle down soon even as I type this up today. In hospital with congenital heart failure, fighting pneumonia, with two IVs in her arms, we send her our love and continue offering prayer for her.

As we spent our final evening at the airport's hotel for our ease towards our very early morning flight, we gulped back our worries, silently keeping them to ourselves and began perusing the menu together. As if they'd known how special, how truly wonderful it would be for us, appearing suddenly from around the corner, there they were, friends who drove all the way out to meet us there just because they wanted a hello/goodbye with us before flying off. Changing tables, they joined us for dinner, the best dinner ever for sure! 

Love them, such good friends to "be there" for us, to sacrifice their evening and travel so far just for the purpose of spending time together. This was definitely one of those beautiful, unexpected, stolen moments we will always treasure. Forever...