somebodylovesmeblog

Sharing God's love with the world, one heart at a time.


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My Second Mother’s Day Without my Mom

Today is my second Mother’s Day without my mom.

I never thought I would be the one to continue to grieve, to be overcome with emotion, and to miss my mother so very much.

Since my mother passed away, about a year and a half ago, I have felt her presence with me…a love that fills me and sometimes overwhelms me.  All of the moments that are precious and a treasure to me now, at the time were experienced as normal everyday moments.  Not realizing the memories that she was gifting me with…going through my days, as though each one was just another day, and not having the eyes yet to perceive true beauty.

My mother lived with Joe (my husband) and me for about eleven years.  Through those years, I was the one that would help her make purchases for gifts.  When it came to gifts for me, she would usually tell me what she would like to give me, and would ask me to choose and purchase.  Needless to say, I was never surprised!

Mom’s Final Gift to Me

When she was in rehab before she died, she was thoroughly enjoying herself.  One of the activities she loved was Bingo.  One day, I walked in to her room, and her face was all lit up.  She told me that she won Bingo, and was able to choose her prize.  She chose a beautiful flower arrangement so she could give it to me.  She was so excited and happy that she was able to surprise me with some beautiful flowers.  I was very touched at the time…but as time goes by, that one simple gesture touches my heart in the most deep way.

These are the moments that stay with us.  Snapshots of time that keep us grounded in love.  The miraculous scenes of life that play and replay through our minds and hearts of times gone by.

Moments spent with those we love.  As I sit here thinking and honoring my mother for all she was, and all she did for us as a family, many of those times come to mind.

Some of those moments that will always be with me:

Watching my mom through the window of the Senior Center when I arrived to pick her up.  Seeing her sitting at a round table with five of her friends, laughing so hard that she had to lay her head down on the table.  I had never seen her laugh like that.

Seeing her in her cute reading glasses, looking up from her book at me, when I came home from work and popped my head in her room to ask her how her day was.  She usually said, “I had a beautiful day.”  I will never be able to part with those glasses.

Watching her eyes light up when Joe or I served up one of her favorite meals.  Or favorite desserts.  Come to think of it, most everything was “her favorite!”

Getting beat royally by her when playing Canasta, Skip-Bo, or Sequence.  Sometimes it was downright mortifying how bad she beat me!

Losing my temper and yelling about our differing politics.  Feeling awful afterwards, I would apologize, and she would just say, “Sometimes things just need to come out.”  She would never hold those outbursts against me.

Strolling through Costco pushing my mom in her wheelchair with a cart in front of us…stacked so high with items she wanted to purchase, that we could not see where we were going!

Her excitement upon learning that she was going to be a great grandma.  That was one of the things that was holding  her back from passing on…she wanted to see her grandson’s baby that would be coming in five months.  I said, “Mom, you know that in heaven you will be able to see your grandson.”  She looked in my eyes and smiled.  She said, “I know, but I am not ready to leave this Earth yet.”  She didn’t make it to see Brayden’s birth, but I KNOW she is with him now.

The privilege of assisting her to shower, wash and style her hair, and put lotion on her.  In the beginning, she was embarrassed to have me help her in that way.  However, it became comfortable and natural for us.  And I enjoyed helping her to feel a little pampered.

Seeing the joy on her face when looking out her bedroom window and seeing three snowmen that the sweet neighbor girls built for her.

Sitting next to Mom at Mass and special worship times, feeling so close to her.

Seeing my mother, as she was near death, look me straight in the eye and tell me that I had the most beautiful blue eyes she’d ever seen.  Then proceeded to call me “Jan,” telling “Jan” that her daughter and son in law take good care of her, but she worries about their health.

A few days before she passed away, I climbed into bed with my mom, and put my arm around her,  I asked her if it was ok that I was there with her.  Her answer?  “We should do this more often.”  Yes, we should have….

Once I asked her if there was anything she would have done differently, being that she had a hard life.  She told me she wouldn’t change a thing.  She said that her family is her blessing, and when things get difficult, you just need to “offer it up to the Lord.”

I have learned to do just that, Mom.  I have finally learned to offer my life to the Lord.  And a large part of myself is the part that came from you.  Thank you for loving me.  Thank you for being you.  Thank you for loving the Lord.

 

 

 

 


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Be What God Created You to Be

After all the rain and gloomy weather we have been experiencing in Northern VA, we are blessed today with a glorious, sunny, warm day!  I took full advantage of it, and just returned from my lunchtime walk.

God always finds a special way to communicate with me, and today was no exception. As I walked, I looked over to the quasi-pond (drainage ditch/reservoir filled with rain overflow) in the front of our building.  My eyes first took in the sight of muddy, dirty water.  Then I noticed the paper cups, garbage and pieces of wood and cardboard floating by.  All I could think of was “yucky, dirty mess.”

When I looked closer, I saw a turtle sitting on top of the floating piece of wood. Since I rarely see turtles in my day to day life, that sight made me smile.  The next thing that my eyes were directed to was a few ducks serenely swimming, oblivious to the dirt and garbage scattered around them.  Then a movement in the tall grass caught my attention, and there was a regal heron, standing proudly, partially hidden from view.  Who would have thought I would see such beauty on my walk through a parking lot, in a filthy little pond?

So, of course, this scenario got me thinking.

Those beautiful creations of God, were smack dab in the middle of ugliness. However, they were not screaming in defiance, or questioning why God allowed them to be there.  What they were doing, was simply “being what God created them to be.”  They were swimming in the water, looking for and receiving the food that God provided for them, basking in the sunshine, and feeling His breeze gently cooling their bodies.  Instead of fighting and questioning every aspect of their life, they accepted the reality of their surroundings, and continued to be the beings that God created them to be.  They radiated their individual beauty, from the midst of their unclean environment.

We, as Christians, are in the midst of some serious unclean circumstances. There is much garbage floating in our world, and the dirtiness and muckiness of evil and perversity, surrounds us at every turn.  Although we are quite aware that we are also sinful in nature, we confess our sins and ask God for His forgiveness.  We are called to find refuge and live a pure life in Him.

At times the evil of this world is overwhelming and we forget that we are in His care. We forget that Our Lord’s peace is not given to us as the world gives…and no matter how hard we scream and shout, and attempt to fight the evil around us through our human ways, some evil will always remain until Jesus’ second coming.

The key is knowing who we are. Who we belong to.  When our hearts, souls and beings are safe in the love of Jesus, we are free to be ourselves in this unclean, evil world.  We are free to live the Divine Purpose our God created uniquely for each one of us.  We are free to simply just be…to thank God every day for the blessings He gifts us with, and to be happy and peaceful in our innermost being.  When we invite the Holy Spirit into our hearts to fill us with His love and light, our natural God-given beauty will shine brightly as a beacon to others…our hearts that are one with Jesus will shine and illuminate the world around us, exposing the evil for what it is.  And drawing in those who are living in darkness, and searching for the one true light.

Don’t be afraid to be the light in the darkness. Don’t be afraid to be the beauty among confusion, ugliness and despair. Find your true identity in the love and mercy of Jesus, and feel the freedom of simply “being what God created you to be.” 

 

 


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Beauty and Love are Always to be Found

Since my mother’s death in September, it has been hard for me to focus on the feelings and truths that are waiting for me to acknowledge.

It’s  not that I am consciously afraid of the feelings that will bubble up, but more that I know the immense tidal wave of feelings and memories that will engulf me, and I just need “me time” to sort it all out, and actually have the time to feel, face and process all that the Holy Spirit reveals to me. 

My heartfelt thanks and gratitude go out to all of you that have prayed for my mom, me, and my family, and also for your love and support.  An extra thank you to Tina, who reached out to me in her special way, to empathize and encourage me to write.  She knows that writing helps me to sort things out, and hopefully my search and struggle will help others who may be experiencing similar things.

Right now I am feeling overwhelmed, with the magnitude of what is occurring in our country and the world, and also with the tapestry of my own  life.  Although none of us will ever know the full beauty of our life tapestries until the Lord reveals them to us in His Glory in heaven, I feel as though some of the golden threads will be made visible to my eyes, through the Holy Spirit.  Somehow, the Lord will open my eyes and heart to understand the reasons for events in my life, and also the lessons that I was meant to learn through each struggle.  How everything was interconnected, and how the Lord always leads us to beauty, even through things we consider to be evil and ugly.

Beauty and Love are always to be found, especially when things are the darkest…especially in the midst of pain, struggle, and any evil that Satan wreaks on our lives.

So I ask for your patience, as I trudge forward, one step at a time.  I ask the Lord to use me as a vessel, to touch hearts that need to be touched with love and comfort.

This past Saturday, I went grocery shopping.  As I listened to Christmas music while strolling the aisles with my cart, my eyes caught the rice pudding.  The delicious, all natural rice pudding that I always bought for my mom.  All of a sudden, I was overcome with emotion.  It was an all consuming sadness, happiness, and love, all at once.  I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit, and  just stood there, looking at the pudding, unable to move.  I allowed myself to feel all of it fully, and then just moved on.

After that, little snippets of memories kept popping up.

The awesome birthday parties mom gave us.  Mine was a fall birthday, so the decorations were always fall themed…lots of orange and black crepe paper and pumpkins.  Orange, yellow, and brown flowers on my cake, and honeycombed bright orange  pumpkin centerpieces.  I absolutely LOVE fall, and those birthday parties are probably one of the reasons I love it so much!

The delicious soft boiled eggs she made for me mixed with pieces of white bread.  When I was feeling a little sick, the eggs were so comforting to me.

Playing cards and board games with mom…she was the master of Canasta!

The way she always had something to serve to visitors.  Even if it was store bought cookies and coffee, or sharing our dinner, there was always something to offer to guests.

The grocery store.  When Mom first moved in with us, she would go grocery shopping with me, using her cane.  She would just want to buy everything, mostly sweets, so we got two carts and we both filled them.  Then she started using her walker, which then led to a wheelchair.  Although it was stressful when she shopped with me, it was sad when she no longer asked to go.

As soon as I walked into the house after shopping, she would always ask, “What goodies did you get?”  Meaning, cheesies, donuts, ice cream, cookies, pudding, etc.  I tried to limit them a little, but she  ended up getting most of what she wanted.

“The rosary is on at three thirty; would you like to pray it with me?”  When I finally accepted Mom’s invitation to pray with her, our relationship changed.  I remember one occasion vividly.  While we were praying, I looked over at her face.  There is no other way to describe what I saw…her face was illuminated and transformed.  I could literally see the Holy Spirit shining from her.

The many times she told me to just relax.  There was always so much to get done after work and on weekends to stay caught up as well as I could.  She was always telling me to let things go and just relax.  Maybe I should have listened???

On one of the days right before she passed away, my sister asked how she felt.  Mom said, “I’m good, but not as good as I will be in February.”  When my sister asked her what happens in February, she said, “I am going to have a great grandson!”

At one point, I said, “Mom, you know you will see your great grandson once you are in heaven.”  She looked at me with a glint in her eye, and said “I know, but I am not ready to leave this world yet.”

One night when she was having a hard time sleeping due to her breathing issues, I climbed in bed with her, and held her hand.  I asked her if it was ok that I was in bed next to her.  Her answer?  “We should do this more often.”

The look of wonder in her eyes the day before she died, when she looked straight into my eyes and said, “You have the most beautiful blue eyes I have ever seen!”  And then she called me “Jan” and proceeded to tell me about her daughter, Bernadette, and her husband that take care of her.  She said they did such a good job, but she worries that they do too much and worries about their health.

That moment when our eyes connected, when she was so weak and had gone through another breathing episode.  She asked me if I gave her “the pill” yet.  I “knew” that she meant that she was ready to pass on…she was ready to leave.  I am not sure why she thought there was one “pill” that would allow her to die, but I do know that she trusted me and she was telling me that her time on earth was ending.

Where does this all lead to?

Beauty and Love are always to be found, especially when things are the darkest…especially in the midst of pain and struggle.  And too many times, we do not understand the truth of that, until our world is shaken.  Until that person is taken away from us.  Until a stressful or difficult situation is behind us. 

I take great comfort in this truth:

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.  Romans 8:28

 

 

 


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The Blessings of Barrenness

 

This is the time of year that I used to dread.  Most of the Christmas decorations have disappeared from our neighborhood’s homes, the warmth of holiday music has dissipated, the air is bitter cold, and the trees are dark and seemingly devoid of life.

My husband and I commute to work together, and lately I have been struck with beauty that I haven’t noticed before.  One thought has been swirling in my mind for a few days now.

There is great beauty to be found in barrenness.

This thought strikes me as my eyes take in the awesomeness of those trees that in the past I would describe as cold, dead and dull.  What I see now is entirely different and enlightening.

As we drive home after work, the winter sunsets are almost overwhelmingly gorgeous.  Last night there were deep shades of indigo, violet, magenta, pink and blue.  The colors were layered beautifully, and could be viewed through the intricate patterns of lace and latticework formed by the branches of those “dead” trees.

All it took for me to notice and see the beauty of barrenness was to look past it, and focus on the beauty through it.

Our lives are like that.  We tend to focus on what is lacking, and sometimes just can’t understand why a loving God would allow certain things to happen in the world.  We look at our own lives, our sufferings and weaknesses, and we feel barren and sometimes even abandoned.

We are called in faith to look through the barrenness and focus on the perfect beauty and love of God.

He is the beauty that calls, amazes, humbles, and overwhelms us with love.  He is The One that works all things toward good for those who love Him.

Do you love Him that loves you?  Are you willing to look through your weaknesses, persecutions, and sufferings and focus your trust and whole being on the saving love and grace of Jesus?  Will you open your heart to His Divine Mercy?

Only then will your eyes be opened to the intricate beauty of barrenness… for only Our Lord knows the full design of the tapestry that is being masterfully created through what we view as unacceptable.

 

Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.  2 Corinthians 12:8-10

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28


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My Day was Changed

Today, instead of the salad that I had planned for lunch, I decided to go out.  When I left the office, it was very dreary; a little chilly, no sun, and while heading in to the restaurant it started raining.  Add to that the haze I have been in due to a respiratory bug I am recuperating from…my spirit really needed  some lifting.

As I was sitting and enjoying my lunch, a sweet little girl caught my eye.  She was about two years old, with short, shaggy golden brown hair that magnified her beautiful, smiling brown eyes.  She was in a cute little polka dot shirt and black leggings.  As she sat on the table facing her mother, every now and again she would burst out in laughter due to unknown words her mom whispered to her.

Their joy was contagious!  The innocence and beauty of the love between this mother and her daughter touched me, and I felt my heart fill up.  For some reason, I felt a connection with them, and couldn’t keep myself from smiling.

As they were on their way out, the little girl broke free from her mom, and ran over to me.  She looked up at me with those gorgeous eyes, said good-bye, then ran back to her mom.

My day was changed in a matter of moments. 

In the past, I may have not even noticed the beauty that was occurring right in front of me.  Sometimes it is so easy to be overwhelmed with the negative around  or within us…we forget to open our eyes to the goodness that is always right there in front of us.

As I grow in faith and maturity, I am learning to keep my eyes, ears, and heart open to God’s whispers to me.   He never lets me down.

Today, He was reminding me that His love is all around me, sometimes in unexpected places.  And I am reminded to praise and worship my Lord and Savior, and to be grateful in all things.

Need I tell you, the sun is now shining and there is no sign of rain?

 

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.  Philippians 4:8-9

We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.   Romans 8:28

 

 

 

 


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Straight to the Heart

 

Something has been on my heart for a while now, and I have learned in the past that when the Holy Spirit nudges me, I need to act.  So here I am, Lord.  I pray that these words touch the hearts that need to hear them.

One Saturday, as I was heading into my usual grocery store, my eyes fell upon a person that by the world’s standards, might not be considered physically attractive.  I have learned to get to know someone by what is in their heart, however, it is a fact that we are all different…some more attractive than others.  Many people were born with a disability or maybe a deformity of what we would consider “normal.”

I asked the Lord why some people were more beautiful or attractive, that it didn’t seem “fair” to me.  As quickly as I asked the question, I received his reply.

“I don’t see beauty the same way the world sees beauty.”

I realized that everything that we “see” with our human eyes is veiled.  We think we “know” and we think we “see”, however we do not see or know with the fullness that God does.  Although I should have already been aware of this, something in my spirit finally clicked.

God sees the beauty in each of the souls that he created; he knows the journey of each one of us, and he loves us for our uniqueness.  He knows the depths of our hearts, the source of our joy, and also the source of our sorrow, pain, and sin.

The Lord looks past the physical, and sees our hearts.

Wow.

Thinking about what the Lord communicated to me, it led me to think about another question I have harbored.

I used to wonder how “holy” people of God could be loving to those who are living in obvious sin; those that are rebellious and irreverent; those who refuse to open their hearts to the Lord.  Don’t get me wrong, I already knew that we all need to love everyone, including our enemies, however my question was how to act toward those we are in personal contact with who are “undesirable” or outwardly sinful in their behavior.  I did not understand how to be loving without seeming to condone their behavior.

In the past, those questions and the uncomfortable position those encounters would place me in, led me to avoid the encounters as much as I could. I would pray for the people I deemed to be living in rebellion and sin, and would generally just keep my distance from them.

Now I am learning to see through the eyes of the Holy Spirit.  No longer do I judge by the outward appearance of rebellion or by sinful acts.  I am learning to look past all that, to look deeper into the heart of the person.  I strive to look past everything, all the walls they are putting up, and look for the Jesus in them.

The most loving thing you can do is to let someone know that you see a spark of goodness in them; that you see Jesus in them.  No matter what they “look like” on the outside.

You may be the first or only person that ever conveys that piece of hope to them.

They might not accept the saving Truth of Jesus that you are sharing with them at that time, however, I can promise you, when you are a vessel of the merciful and saving love of Christ, that love will make an impact.

As Christians, let’s start looking past what we see in the physical, and start looking for Jesus in every heart and every situation that we encounter.

 

 

He hath made everything beautiful in its time: also he hath set eternity in their heart, yet so that man cannot find out the work that God hath done from the beginning even to the end.  Ecclesiastes 3:11

But the LORD said to Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD sees not as man sees; for man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.  1 Samuel 16:7

Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and [that] the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?  1 Cor 3:16

 

 

 


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Hollywood Sins

This morning I was humbled in a big way.

For some reason while drying my hair, I started thinking of Farrah Fawcett, and the suffering she experienced at the end of her life.  Because of her cancer treatments, she lost the  beautiful hair that was always her trademark.  It took cancer to reveal to her that her true beauty was not her face, body or hair.  It was the beauty of her heart…a beauty that is instilled and treasured by God.  My heart filled with love and sadness for her, and I said a prayer for her soul.

That led me to think about Hollywood, and all it entails.  How often do I think and spew about the evils of Hollywood?  How often do I shake my head in disgust at the lifestyles and lack of faith that seems to permeate Hollywood lives?

God spoke to me very gently, but pointedly, this morning.  He started out by asking me how I would like it if my most embarassing or sinful moments were plastered all over the internet.  He asked me what could I learn from the rise and fall of the “stars” in Hollywood.

Up to this point, my heart has been telling me to just ignore what is happening in their “Hollywood” world…that they have nothing to teach me, I don’t want anything they have and don’t care to know anything that they know.  Because it is evident they don’t  have any real answers “judging” by their lifestyles.

But God told me something very different this morning.  He let me know that Hollywood has much to teach me.

You see, all of these wounded people are his children.  He loves them unconditionally.  He knows why they are angry, bitter, confused, arrogant.  He knows why they are empty, and filled with the sad lie that their worth is wrapped up in their fortunes, bodies and physical beauty.  He knows the reasons for their loneliness and despair.  And he is waiting for them, as he waits for all of us, to open their hearts to his mercy and love.

So where does that leave me?  It  leaves me very humbled.  For right in front of my eyes, every day, I am made aware of these suffering hearts.  All of the people that live on magazine covers and reside on the screen for our entertainment, are REAL PEOPLE with REAL FEELINGS, and have the same real need for God’s love and mercy that I do.

There are countless lives being paraded in front of us continuously.  The immorality, promiscuity, greed, pride, addictions, broken marriages and family issues smack us in the face and remain in our line of vision and awareness all the time.  The Lord opened my eyes to the reality of my judgements against them.

And he also made me aware of  how much all of these people…these souls…can teach me.  Through living their lives in public view, they reveal exactly what they need help with.  Their struggles and weaknesses are evident.

What I can learn from their lives is my need to offer unconditional love, and the gift I can give them is my prayers.

From now on, with the Lord’s help, when I am made aware of the “sins” or weaknesses of others…instead of judging, I will make the choice to love them as Jesus does, and to pray for them.

And to hope that all who know me and see my sins and weaknesses, will do the same for me.

 

Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.   1 Peter 4:8

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.  James 5:16