Becoming Holy

Be Not Afraid

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I have to be honest. I haven’t been living these words. I feel afraid. A LOT. Afraid of sickness and suffering. Afraid of high blood pressures and low blood pressures and of forgetting to take Gabbie’s blood pressure. Afraid of setting up medications wrong or incompletely. Afraid of not seeing the signs of sickness or struggle. Afraid that when we go back to Seattle they will make us stay. The kind of afraid that makes you realize you are shallow breathing all the time. With knots in your neck and the feeling that you have to be ready to jump to action at any moment.

This makes the. “Be Not Afraid” advice all the more necessary. The chaplain at Seattle Children’s made the above book mark for Gabbie. He drew the picture and wrote the words with the touching reminder that the Angel Gabriel also tells us not to be afraid, that WE have found favor with God. His name is Thomas and he brought not only the bookmark, but hope and healing in the form of Jesus in the Eucharist. He has a soothing presence and a gentle spirit. 

The words, “Be Not Afraid” or similar phrasing appear in the Bible a lot. Some say 365 times. Others say 103 times. Others say the theme of not fearing appears more than 365 times. Regardless, it makes sense that when one places trust in the Lord, we are called not to fear. In the beautiful words of Pope Saint John Paul II:

“Do not be afraid. Do not be satisfied with mediocrity. Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”

I have no idea what Pope Saint John Paul II’s words mean for me and our family. But I hear the recurring request for bravery in the face of opposition. Good will come from this. We will put out in the deep and let down our nets. Just for today, I am going to try to cast off fear and live in perfect love. To trust in God’s plan. To live today for today and not worry about tomorrow. Counting on your prayers. Mine are with you. 

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The Lord Heals the Brokenhearted

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“Remember that when your heart feels restless, when your heart feels hurt, when your heart feels like breaking… ‘I am precious to Him. He has called me by name. I am His. He loves me.’ And to prove that love, He died on the cross.”
 
~Blessed Mother Teresa
My favorite lines of the above quote~”I am precious to Him. He has called me by name. I am His. He loves me.” 
My biggest question? Do I live in that love? Do I hear His voice? Do I believe I am precious to Him?
Heart imagery has become a pretty big deal at our house since the whole “heart failure” episode. The above image speaks volumes of how April and May look to us. And not just Gabbie’s heart but the hearts of all who know and love her. We have felt broken-hearted and light-hearted (depending on the day). We have had heavy hearts, racing hearts, pounding hearts, bruised hearts, hurting hearts, aching hearts, and hearts full of love and gratitude. Each of those words has taken on new meaning and a literal “feeling” to go with them. We are grateful to our God who desires to heal us.

Psalm 147:3-5

He heals the brokenhearted,
    and binds up their wounds.
He determines the number of the stars;
    he gives to all of them their names.
Great is our Lord, and abundant in power;
    his understanding is beyond measure.

Sometimes, in the middle of suffering, it is hard to reconcile what is visible with what is spiritual. We KNOW Jesus died for us and that He walks with us in our suffering. We desire the suffering to go away. We don’t always feel precious or called by name or loved. But we are. The suffering is not ended. Neither is His love. May we always desire to be Christ’s hands and feet on earth. To do His will and share His love. So many of you have helped to heal our broken hearts and to bind our wounds~working alongside Jesus with your words and actions. It is no small thing to help one another. 

It is the greatest.

“Love one another as I have loved you.”

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Dirty Laundry

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I love doing laundry. Really. I love my washer and dryer. They work alongside me. They even continue to work after I go to bed. One of the burdens of our journey to Seattle Children’s was not being able to do laundry at any time. You may be raising your eyebrows in disbelief. But, think about it~even if you dislike doing laundry, there is something about having clean clothes that makes the world a better place.

The artwork above is titled “Polish Madonna” and is a beautiful image of Our Blessed Mother hanging laundry as Baby Jesus plays at her feet. I fell in love with it back in the 90’s and found a nicely framed image about seven years ago. It has hung in my laundry room ever since. It centers me and reminds me of the importance of the daily tasks of homemaking. Even Baby Jesus needed His clothes washed! I like to pray for each of my kids as I fold a specific item of their clothing. With four girls in a row, there are some items that every daughter has worn~I picture each of them wearing it and I smile. I still marvel as I fold little boy jeans and socks and Ninja Turtle shirts after years of pink! Many items have a story and mark the passing of the years. 

Several years back, I realized I was doing a disservice to the kids with my laundry obsession and not teaching them to help. We now have a system in which each child has a day of the week to do his or her laundry. They have that day to wash clothes, sheets, blankets, etc. and get them folded and put away. It helps with not mixing up clothes or drying something that the owner prefers to be line-dried. Towels go into a “family hamper” but everything else is taken care of by the individual. Upon returning from Seattle, we tossed all our dirty laundry into a big pile and we got to do our laundry all together! 

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In Seattle, at the Ronald McDonald House, we shared our “home” with 84 families!  Our room was like a hotel room with two double beds and single cots, a bathroom and sink, and a small table with two chairs, a television and a medicine refrigerator. We were on the third floor.

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The second floor was the lobby, mail room, and a few sitting areas. The first floor was the Dining Room and kitchen areas. There were two kitchens, each with four sink areas or work stations. Each family had a double door cupboard and a mini fridge for food. The seating area had a dorm cafeteria like feel. The basement is where the laundry room was. A streamlined system was in place.  Twelve stackable washer/dryer units were in one room. Each family could have two loads of laundry in progress at a time. Magnets with our room number were placed on our washer/dryer when we used them. If one needed a washer and the cycle was done but the laundry hadn’t been moved, we were asked to put on gloves, get a big plastic bag, place the clothes in the bag and the family’s magnet on top. I really didn’t love the idea of other people moving our clothes around, so I tried to be very vigilant about our laundry, making certain to check the washer often to be ready to transfer. In the beginning, it was impossible to spend any length of time at the McDonald house as so much was going on at the hospital with Gabbie. The laundry piled up. It was hard for one of us to leave to do laundry, though it was a welcome break for Max, who could play air hockey and video games while we waited. 

This is yet another item on my grateful list. In Seattle, I found myself dreading laundry. I had many conversations with myself. The two of us (me and myself) would talk about women in third world countries who would DELIGHT at the ease of doing laundry at the McDonald House. I imagined many scenarios as I trudged down the stairs with our laundry basket~washing clothes in a muddy stream, carrying water in a jar on my head, having so few clothes that there was not much to wash. I was made aware in powerful ways just how easy I have it. I was disappointed in myself for my lack of gratitude. I was truly thankful to have somewhere to do laundry but I also truly wasn’t. I really wanted life back the way it had been. I promised myself I would never take anything for granted again! 

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Thank you, God, for the gift of being home. Thank you for the gift of laundry~your reminder to us that what is dirty can be made clean. Thank you for laundry soap and for Downy. Thank you for dryer sheets and clothes drying racks. Thank you for stain spray and soaking sinks. Thank you for my laundry room and the precious picture of Baby Jesus and His Momma on laundry day! Thank you for reminding me to be thankful. Please bless everyone at the McDonald House as they do their laundry. Hold them in your hands. Remind them of your presence. Help them to be renewed with each basket of clean clothes. Help our prayers to touch them and bless them and give them hope. 

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Home is Where the Heart Is

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We are home. At. Last. For Gabbie, April 8, we left our driveway and did not return until May 15. Through gray skies, this beautiful stream of balloons marked our return.  They were the first to wave at us and celebrate our return to normal. Prince Charming awaited at the door!  A delicious dinner, made with love by family, awaited us. Home. Sweet. Home. In our five and one half weeks away, I discovered some things about myself that I want to remember when this journey is a distant memory.

We are blessed. Daily life is a blessing! Some things I learned to treasure while living under different circumstances include having my own bed and soft pillow, favorite sheets and a quiet place to fall to sleep. Waking up and stepping out of bed onto warm, soft, inviting CARPET! A coffeepot~any kind really~and the choice to make coffee when/if I want to. No charge. No trip to the coffee cart (once a day) for a small cup of joe. Pretty mugs and a skosh of creamer. Sharing it with those I love. Okay…here is a biggie…driving in IDAHO!  Where the biggest obstacle is farm equipment being moved from field to field and where you truly can measure distance in time vs. miles. Quite the opposite of Seattle. 

Bigger blessings…hmm…the health of our children and each other…living in a country with excellent medical care…friends who pour out blessings of prayer and resources…charities like the Ronald McDonald House…doctors who have sacrificed to gain the kind of knowledge that helped bring Gabbie home…nurses who make the difference between a good day and a great one…pharmaceuticals that make all the difference in healing a heart or replacing it…the list could go on and on.

For now, I want to say thank you…to each and every person who lifted up a prayer for Gabbie and our family. For prayer services, Masses, Holy Hours, Team Gabbie Events and Support.  For handmade quilts, knitted hearts and slippers, stuffed animals, flowers, plants, candy, gluten free baked goods, balloons, cards, gift cards, gifts of $$$, letters, loan of guardian angels, bathrobes and jammies, clothing, puzzle books, magazines, care packages of snacks, and lip balm. For blessings, Anointing, Confession, Holy Water, visits from priests, Eucharistic Minister visits, and conversations. For new friends, barbecues, dinners out, dinners in, foam mattress pads, coffee cards, nail painting, Jamberry, Mother’s Day gifts, gifts for siblings, Cupcake celebrations, and so much more. 

We feel so blessed. We have been carried by angels. Please continue to pray for sweet Gabbie. Our prayer is that all the medical intervention along with the pacemaker will heal her precious heart. We want to keep her treasured heart here at home~the place she loves best.

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Team Buna

Phillippians 4: 6-7 "Cast your cares upon the Lord & He will give you a peace and grace beyond understanding" ....in other words.... As Bob Marley sang it, "Say, don't worry, about a 'ting, cuz every little 'ting, is gonnna be alright!"

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