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,  

Saturday, January 24, 2015

sometimes they leave you halfway through the woods...

Today was raining and cold here in NoVa, so I ditched the house cleaning, grabbed my girlfriend Marjanna and we went off to lunch and a movie. After a fabulous bowl of Spaghetti alla Carbonara and a delightful cappuccino, we saw "Into the Woods". It was a pretty cool movie. I loved when the Prince and his brother were singing "Agony". Cheesy and fabulous. 

The most touching part for me came at the end with the Baker, as he faces life without his beloved wife, trying to care for his newborn son alone. He is overcome with fear and runs away before realizing that he is not alone in this journey. He can move forward in life surrounded by those who love him and will be there to help him along the way.

I had tears in my eyes at that point, because I was seeing myself. Then I heard this line in the song "sometimes they leave you halfway through the woods". It made me pause and I actually held my breath for a second. 

My mind went straight to my Courtney. She has left me halfway through the woods, and now I have to find a new path. I am lost in the shadows of the trees.

Like...way lost in the freakin' shadows. 

I just don't know how to proceed with life. I have ALL this time on my hands, and everyone has an opinion of what I should be doing and how I should be doing. The memories of my sweet girl surround me daily. I am exhausted even if all I have done is clean a bathroom and that's it. The words and emotions get twisted in my head and my heart. I even have difficulty explaining how I feel to people, including my husband at times.

This coming Tuesday we will pass the one month anniversary of our girl's heaven homecoming. It feels like it happened yesterday. 

One month without holding her. 

One month without hearing her laughter or seeing her bucktoothed smile. 

One month without my sweet, brave, vivacious Courtney. 

My heart aches quietly, every moment of every day. Yet, there is still joy in our home amidst the struggle to remain present in my day and not drown in the sadness that can overwhelm me quickly. My husband and I share stories of our spunky Courtney, then Jonathan jumps in with his own and there is laughter. 

People email me with stories of how my girl is helping them and my heart smiles for I know this is what she has waited for her whole life. That constant joy and pure bliss of an eternity with her Beloved Jesus. She is at home with her Bridegroom and she is loved in a way I cannot yet imagine.  The thought of it makes me giddy. She did it! She finished her race with grace and strength. 

My marathon continues, and damn my legs are tired and my heart is heavy at times.  I am working on celebrating those small pockets of happiness that give me hope and strength to fight through. A new recipe successfully executed, a hug from my favorite pre-schooler, a movie date with a dear friend, dinner with my Youth Ministry kids or holding hands during an evening walk with my sweet husband. 

Small pockets but very good pockets. 

Yes, Courtney left me halfway through the woods, but I am finally beginning to see the path God is setting before me and my family, one step at a time, Courtney's sunshine lighting the way from above.

God is GOOD, ALL the time,  

Monday, January 19, 2015

nominated for a sheenazing now...

I am so honored to be nominated this year for a 2015 Sheenazing Award which are hosted by the fabulous Bonnie over at A Knotted Life

"The Sheenazing Blogger Awards get their name from Venerable Fulton J. Sheen, who was amazing at using the newest forms of media to communicate the beauty of the Catholic Church and his love of Christ to the world. They are a fun way to celebrate the excellence of the Catholic blogosphere and honor Venerable Sheen."

I have been nominated in two categories. One for "Most Inspirational Blog" and "Miss Congeniality". 

I mean seriosuly?? What an honor. I thank Miss Courtney for the inspiring the inspiring part of this blog because without her, I am pretty damn boring. Trust me. You'll see. 

As for Miss Congeniality...shucks y'all. So sweet. My husband might disagree, but whose asking him. 

The voting closes THIS Friday so go vote!! Pretty Please!!

To vote click here...

Sunday, January 18, 2015

broken hearted but surviving...

Today was a hard day. I am still healing from the Black Plague of Lung Death. Thank you Jesus for the inspiration that lead to the creation of Vicadin laced cough syrup.

This week is a busy one for me. Monday we have company for lunch (yay) and then Jerry has a job interview that afternoon. Woot! Woot! Please say a prayer for my guy. He was put on a short term contract last week so he is employed until February 27. It's driving us both a little cray cray but at least he is employed. 

Tuesday I am off to visit Courtney's former classmates at Kilmer Center, delivering lots of equipment and diapers from Miss Courtney.Then I have a sewing class that evening. 

Distractions are good these days. 

While Jerry and I were in Mass this morning, he had a "moment" while singing "Precious Lord". This is what happens. Everything thing is fine then whammo we are hit by a smell or song or someone hangs on to a hug just a little too long and the tears flow. 

So I held his hand, he composed himself and we went on with the day, making sure there were lots of hugs between us. This grieving thing is just wicked tough. I have learned one important lesson though. 

Mary's one rule for dealing with grieving people ...ready...

If the person who has lost a loved one is NOT crying (thereby sucking up every emotion they have to try and keep themselves together) then take your cue from them, suck it up buttercup and DON'T cry!! If they are crying, then let the river flow.

There I said it. No, I am not taking it back. I feel better. Look for my next book to be titled "You totally didn't just say that to me as my daughter lies in her casket"...yeah...

This evening we were going through the photos from the wake and funeral that our friends Susie and Claire took for us. It was a beautiful moment and a hard one too. To see so much love poured out for our daughter made us cry. SO wonderful to see all those precious faces. There were eight priests on that alter to celebrate Mass. Amazing. Just amazing. 

So here you go my friends. More love for our girl. Thank you for continuing to pray for us as we figure out what daily life looks life for us. 

Courtney Elizabeth -HD (720p) from Mary Lenaburg on Vimeo.

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