Wednesday, March 25, 2015

never too old to make a difference...

BA and MA in Psychology...

US Navy Vetren (served in the Vietnam War)...

mother of eight...

married faithfully for 36 years and has been a widow for fourteen years...

tended to my father for ten years as he fought non-hodgkins lymphoma as a result of exposure to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. 

daily mass attendee...

extraordinary minister of Holy Communion...

Confirmation CCD teacher...

skydived for her 60th birthday...

swam the Great Barrier Reef for her 71st birthday...

awesome human being and inspiration to ALL of us...

taught me what sacrificial love looks like...

faithfully helped care for her granddaughter, my Courtney,  for the last six months of her life...

these are just a few things that my mother has done and is doing. today though, today she went above and beyond. 

So VERY PROUD of my 73 year old mother, Marianne Green, who was arrested today in DC as she quietly protested at Rep. John Boehner's office in support of the H.R.36 - Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. 

She and eight other protesters were kneeling in prayer for the unborn when they were arrested. She said they were treated with dignity and kindness by the police officers. Praise God for that. 

My mother has lived her faith and love for God every day of her life. I have had a wonderful example of sacrificial love my entire life with this woman. 

I have never been prouder of her than I am tonight on this beautiful feast day. Stand for what you believe my friends. 

Stand tall and speak with love and grace. 

Mama, I am so proud to be your daughter. 

You are one badass Catholic. 

#stand4life #fortheunborn #livewhatyoubelieve 

twelve weeks and counting...

Today is the Solemnity of the Feast of the Annunciation. This is when the Angel Gabriel appeared to the Blessed Mother with a message from God announcing that His Son, Our Lord Jesus, would be born through her womb. 

Mary accepted this and answered with her whole heart...Be it done unto me as you will it Lord. She said yes not knowing anything other than she loved God enough to take on this special task and He would see her through.

As I sat by Courtney's graveside yesterday evening, I kept thinking of this incredible event in salvation history. Mary said yes two thousand years ago, trusting completely in God's plan.  

I said yes twenty-two years ago when God blessed Jerry and I with our daughter. Like Mary, we had no idea how the story would end but trusted that God would get us to where we needed to be. 

Well, that may be stretching it a bit. Actually...that's stretching it a lot. Think a taffy pull on speed. 

We had no clue, but we loved her and we made the decision to fight for her and for our family to remain intact. We made mistakes. Many, Many mistakes along the way. Our faith wavered and we cried out to God time and time and time again begging Him for relief or healing or whatever we needed in that moment. 

He gave us what we needed each time, until he didn't. 

I take that back...sort of. He didn't not give us what we needed. He gave us the strength to survive what He needed to happen next. 

It's been twelve weeks (12/27/14) since my sweet daughter Courtney Elizabeth breathed her last this side of heaven. I have spent the last six weeks in a "silence" of sorts, trying to figure this whole grief thing out. I miss my girl deeply, every single moment. My whole day for twenty-two years was consumed with her care. This took a toll on my marriage, my son, my body and my heart but I did the best I could. 

I am not a saint. I am not a super strong person or anything like that. I am simply a mother who found myself facing a situation that I felt completely unprepared for when Courtney's seizures began. Jerry and I had no clue how to proceed but we knew we had to try our best to help our kid. 

So for better of for worse, we did what we could. Each day a choice had to be made to make the best of whatever came our way or to give in to the fear and anxiety that hovered just above the surface of daily life. 

Some days we chose fear but thankfully most days we chose hope. 

Then God called her home and my whole world fell apart. There was no goal for my day. No therapy to get to, no doctors appointments, no formula to make or meds to give. I didn't know what to do. It scared the hell out of me. I went form a very regimented day to one filled with nothing but laundry folding and occasional dishwashing. 

Nobody needed me like Courtney needed me. 

I hated every moment of it and it sent me into a downward spiral. 

Have I mentioned how much I need to be needed?'s a thing with me. 

Then Lent began and I entered the desert. This time of electronic silence forced me to fill my day with purposeful activities without distractions. I had to think about what I needed instead of what others needed from me. That is much harder than it sounds. It also made me sit still, taking the time to examine all the BIG feelings that grief brings to the surface. 

I am still working through all those BIG feelings. 

I am still figuring out how to handle the waves of tears that sneak up on me at the most inopportune moments, usually in public and when I least wish for them to come. I am still trying to figure out how to handle the deep sadness that penetrates my heart and leaves me numb to the world around me. I am also still trying to figure out what God needs me to do next. 

I don't feel quite as lost as I once was. The fog is slowly lifting. 

I talk to my Courtney every day and I know so many others do as well. She is working hard to make life a little easier for so many. I think in some ways, her real work is just beginning now that she is free and spending an eternity in the presence of the ONE Healer, Counselor and Lord God. 

Where to go from here? 

Enter my little grave side chat with Miss Courtney. She helped me figure out my next little step in life. 

On this feast day, I have decided to say yes once more, like the Blessed Mother did so long ago. I say yes to the next phase of my life as wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend even though I do not have any idea where that path will lead me.

I chose to trust in God's matter what. 

I know, I know. Look what happened the last time Mare... 

Yep, I get it. This is crazy talk BUT it is what is necessary to move forward. It's what Courtney would want for us.  

God never fails. He will make a way for me and my family as we move forward without our Courtney here with us. I trust that God will reveal His plan as the weight of my grief lessens. I know that with each day that passes, God is able to overcome my fear and anxiety that one day I will forget her face or the sound of her voice. 

God is able. He never fails. He just asks for my trust and my yes

So today I say matter what...YES!

God is Able
by Hillsong United

God is Able
He will never fail
He is almighty God

Greater than all we seek
Greater than all we ask
He has done great things

Lifted up, He defeated the grave
raised to life, our God is able
In His name, we overcome
For the Lord, our God is able

God is with us
God is on our side
He will make a way

Far above all we know
Far above all we hope
He has done great things

Lifted up, He defeated the grave
Raised to life, our God is able
In His name, we overcome
For the Lord, our God is able

God is with us
He will go before
He will never leave us
He will never leave us

God is for us
He has open arms
He will never fail us
He will never fail us

Lifted up, He defeated the grave
raised to life, our God is able
In His name, we overcome
For the Lord, our God is able

Lifted up, He defeated the grave
raised to life, our God is able
In His name, we overcome
For the Lord, our God is able

For the Lord, our God is able
For the Lord, our God is able

Sunday, March 15, 2015

mothering sunday and embracing grief...

Hello my sweet friends. 

Do you miss me? 

I miss you all so very much.

These past few weeks have been very challenging but necessary for me to really dig into my grief and embrace a new life, one without my sweet Courtney to care for. Jerry and I continue to grieve our girl one day at a time. I am finding that the initial fog is finally lifting and I am beginning to be able to take on small projects without being overwhelmed. 

Miss Courtney ~ September 2014

Today is Mothering Sunday in the Catholic Church. Our Mother's Day. We had our second Sunday of Scrutinies at our parish with the catechumens that are entering the church on Easter Sunday. The Gospel was my absolute favorite reading out of the Gospel of John, Chapter 9. These verses always make me smile...

"As Jesus passed by he saw a man blind from birth.
His disciples asked him,“Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
Jesus answered,
“Neither he nor his parents sinned; 
it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him. We have to do the works of the one who sent me while it is day. Night is coming when no one can work.
While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

Court's sweet feet ~ September 2014

That highlighted verse is what changed things for Jerry and I as we were coming to grips with Courtney and her diagnosis years and years ago. Today it all came back to me as our Deacon read those words. 

Our Courtney was the light of our world. Her job here was to show us how to love. She allowed God to use her life to glorify Him and therefore teach us what unconditional love looked like and felt like. You see, that's how we loved our girl. Unconditionally, without hesitation, with all we had, both physically, financially and emotionally. We took each battle that came and fought with everything we had. 

22!! ~ August 2014

At the end of each battle another lesson was learned, another opportunity to thank God and glorify His name was given and this was repeated over and over again for twenty-two years. My daily routine did not change. There were seizures to deal with and illness and all kinds of physical challenges, but I changed. My attitude and my capacity to love Courtney changed as time went on. 

My heart grew to overflowing with love for this beautiful child and her big brother. My intellect increased to be able to understand the needs of her care, my soul stretched as I humbled myself before God knowing that the only way I would get through the day was to completely rely in Him and His grace to make it to the end of the day. Some days were ugly--filled with pain and self pity. Others, I was able to really focus on what God needed me to do and just keep moving. 

Always smiling ~ August 2014

As I listened to the gospel this afternoon followed by the beautiful homily our pastor gave, I realized that my time with Courtney is not over, it's just different. Instead of physically caring for her, I am now spiritually caring for her and she for me. She is with me all day everyday, just on the other side of that veil that separates heaven and earth. 

You see, before Jesus came, people saw those who had disabilities as people filled with sin or that their parents were filled with sin. The only saw a mistake. Then Jesus changed the game. He preached love and forgiveness and allowed these special ones to be known as a conduit to praise and glorify Him. God makes no mistakes. Each of us is made in His image and likeness and meant to be loved, fully and completely, not marginalized because of our differences.

Final rest ~ December 31, 2014

He loves us so unconditionally that he allows situations in our lives where we have to humble ourselves and rely totally on Him. How else would we learn how much we need Him in our lives? If we didn't suffer, then why would we seek him out? 

I realized that the unconditional love I gave my daughter is just a tiny speck of the amount of love God gives to me. 

A tiny speck. 

That blows my mind. That makes my heart explode for joy. I am truly overwhelmed by Him and so blessed for it. Yes, I miss my beautiful Courtney every minute of everyday, BUT because Christ died for me and my sins, I now know without a doubt that one day I will see my Courtney again. One day I will hold her in my arms again. 

Always snuggling ~ November 2014

On this Mothering Sunday, I know deep in my heart that I will always be Courtney's mother for that kind of love stands outside time and I am ever so grateful for that. It doesn't take away the pain of my loss, but it brings me joy and gives me hope for the future. 

Thank you my sweet baby girl for teaching me how to truly love without selfishness or pride but with a heart filled with humility and grace, God given, one day at a time. 

Happy Mothering Sunday my sweet friends. I look forward to my full return here in this space on Easter Sunday. I thank you in advance for your prayers. 


Monday, February 9, 2015

entering the desert for awhile...see you on the other side...

Hello my friends. How goes life in your neck of the woods? Things here are cold, foggy, a bit dreary but then it is winter in NoVa. This is about the norm. I would love a good snow storm. New England shouldn't have all the fun. 

Today I spent several hours watching a sweet three year old and had a blast. I do love the pre-school age so much. All their excitement over simple things. Their willingness for adventure and most are generally sporting a good attitude. We read books, danced to music, played dolls for hours and just had a wonderful time. It was a balm to my still tender heart. 

Tomorrow it will be six weeks since my Courtney went home to Jesus. I no longer wake up crying or sad. I smile more when I think about her than feel bad. Talking about her doesn't hurt as much either. Slowly but surely I am coming out of the fog that descended in September when we first came home to hospice. I am determined to take the time needed to fully enter in to this grief process. I tend to just power through when things get difficult. My daughter deserves more than that from me this time. 

I think often of her final days and hours here with us. They were such an incredible gift to us. Maybe some day I will be able to share all the beautiful things that happened those last 48 hours. Right now, it's too close to my heart to survive the process. One day. 

For now, I have some news. I met with my spiritual director last week and we were discussing what my lenten practice should be. I have done many different things over the years, including giving up different things, adding in more prayers to my daily life, and participating in different religious retreats during the Lenten season. 

This year will be very different. I have felt a kind of separation from God recently. It's like there is a big gaping whole in my heart and I feel very little consolation from Our Lord. When Father asked me what I thought I should do, my answer was blunt and honest. I said "I think I have given up enough this year, don't you?"

Yes, I said it with a straight face without any disrespect in my voice. Yes, I do have a PhD in SmartAss 101. Yes, my spiritual director knows me extremely well and smiled when I gave my answer. 

He bowed his head, still smiling, closed his eyes and was quite for a moment or two. I just waited for his response. 

It was a doozy. 

"OK my friend. This is what I think you should do. No, this is what I know you will do."

Danger Will Robinson, Danger...

"You are in a desert right now. A spiritual desert. I think that it would be very productive and healing for you to truly enter into this journey with Christ this Lent. He was in the desert for 40 days. You will be joining Him there." 

He was still smiling. 

I started to sweat. My heart rate picked up. 

Por que?? What is this joining Him there? 

"So what exactly does that mean...joining Him in the desert?" I asked. My voice actually cracked. I have been given a direct assignment only once before, so I knew this was serious. 

"I think it would be a wonderful idea for you to go through Lent without ANY distractions. I would like you to give up blogging, Facebook, instagram, Twitter, and any other social media you participate in daily, for the entirety of Lent. I want you to go to daily Mass when possible and make at least one holy hour a week. I want you to journal by hand what God is telling you in the silence. If you start working on your memoir, I want you to write it out by hand. Since email is a part of life, limit yourself to twice a day, no more than 30 minutes each time. Let's start with that and see where God leads you."

I might possibly have had my mouth drop open and there may have been some drool escape, as my astonishment rose by the second. 

Ahhhh....crickets brain scrambled

He was still smiling. 

I was not. 

"'re serious?"

"Indeed, I am. The Holy Spirit gives some wonderful spiritual direction don't you think?"


more silence

"It's going to be a great Lent. God has incredible things in store for you Mary. Enter into that silence and embrace Him. OK then, shall we go to Confession?"

That was the end of that. 

No words. None. I have never taken on something that felt so daunting for Lent before. But then, I have never lost a child before either. Daunting it is. 

I have decided to just jump in and start tonight, since Lent is a week away. Crazy is as crazy does.  

What does it mean for this space? 

Well, my next post will be on Easter Sunday, April 5, 2015. 
Until then, know that I will be praying for each and every one of you. Will you in turn, keep praying for me and my family? Especially for my two guys who are both still interviewing and looking for new jobs? I would be so very grateful. 

I understand how the interwebs work. I may lose many readers and I am sorry for that. Father challenged me when I told him the same thing. His answer "Who do you write for God or man?"

OK then. I will make the same announcement on my other other social media feeds. Seven weeks total of no social media. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH....

ONLY by the grace of God will I be able do this. This is insanity. I can feel the instagram withdrawal as we speak. 

Blessings and Grace my friends. I will see you on the other side. April can't get her soon enough for me. 

OK we go...

All my love and prayers, 

Saturday, January 31, 2015

empty room...

Today we finished going through everything left in Miss Courtney's room that have wasn't already been given away or donated. 

I took down all of the artwork that was sent to her for her last birthday this side of heaven. I will rehang it in new spots throughout the house so she is with us in every room. 

Now I am staring at a turquoise shell with awesome curtains my friend KGS made for my girl. It feels as empty as my heart without my beautiful Courtney here with me. 

I know the room where she took her last breath will one day be a place of peace, joy and creativity but right now it's just me...

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

one month ago...

October 2014
Courtney looking up and knowing where she would be in a few short weeks.
The JOY on her face is just breathtaking...

Today marks one month since my beautiful girl went home to her Beloved. I woke up this morning to a winter white landscape outside and both my guys home. One tele-commuting for the day and the other with a rare day off. ALL of us together as we were that night one month ago. Funny how my girl made sure we could all hug one another and share a meal as well as laugh telling stories and sharing memories on this first month anniversary of her passing. 

She's sneaky that way. 

Once again, my daughter has gotten her own way. Gee, color me surprised. 

Things are beginning to very slowly come back into focus. Sleep is easier than a month ago. My appetite is slowly returning. Jerry and I are getting used to our new found freedom. We are taking the time to learn how to be a couple again. We are spending time with Jonathan learning how to communicate without Courtney in the daily picture. 

We are rebuilding our family one day at a time. 

I still walk into her room and cry. I still find myself watching the clock to make sure I keep her feeding/med schedule. I even got the blender out yesterday morning to be prepared. I still walk through the children's section of the book store or library looking for good books to read to her. I still look online for cute sweaters or soft clothes to keep her warm. 

I know the automatic response to do these things will slowly fade away but for now, it's how I am coping. It will take some time for twenty-two years of training to be reprogrammed in this brain of mine. 

In time all will be well. 

Monday, January 26, 2015

apparently I am Sheenazing!!

I don't even know what to say. 

Y'all are the VERY best readers on the planet. Bonnie @ A Knotted Life notified me last night that Passionate Perseverance won "Most Inspiring Blog" and I won "Miss Congeniality". I mean me...Miss Congeniality. Wowza. Not sure my brothers or husband would agree with that but I do so appreciate your kindness. 

I will admit to squealing when I read it. I may have jumped up and down a time or two as well. I have never won a blogging award of any kind before, so I am extremely humbled and so very grateful for your support. 

The fact that anyone takes the time to come here to this tiny little corner of cyberspace to read my words, let alone pray for me or my family, just amazes me. I feel like you guys are an extension of my family. I am just blown away my friends. Blown away. God is so very good. 

Love and hugs to all of you who took the time to vote. May your day be blessed with lots of laughter, love and maybe even a surprise or two. Mine already has. 

My Courtney continues to shine her light on my path and I am ever so thankful for my daughters daily gift to me. 

Keep on smiling sweet girl and dance, dance , dance. Mama might join you in one down here on Planet Earth. 

Have an awesome Monday,  
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