Saturday, October 6, 2012

We Love You, Nanny... God Bless... It's True!

This morning we had the memorial service and burial for my beautiful, dear grandmother, whom we affectionately call, "Nanny."  It was a beautiful, sunny day here in Southern Florida and some of our family and my grandparents' friends were there to join us in remembering my Nanny and pay our respects and send her our Love and warm thoughts as she her body was being laid to rest. 

I loved my grandmother so much... and still do, that I am almost at a loss for words as to what I can even say that will do justice to her and how much she means to me and how much I Love her.  She was truly like a best friend to me, and I her.  A long time ago, I bought her a little, white, guardian angel bear and when you pressed it's stomach it would say, (in a cute little voice), "I'm your guardian angel... I'm your special friend! She Loved this gift so much, and it was priceless to her... and throughout the years, she would play it to me on the phone and would tell me that I was like her guardian angle and best friend. We were very close, (as I am her only granddaughter and my children are her only great-grandchildren).

When we went to her house to visit her a few weeks ago, while she was very sick, shorty before God called her Home, she was in her home where she lived with my grandfather, and she spent most of her time on the couch where she could be as comfortable as possible, and still be around the family and friends there visiting with her.  She was happy to see all of us, but, I believe most especially happy to see her two beautiful great-grandaughters!!!

Seeing them and holding them made her so very happy and the smile on her face and Light in her eyes that their presence brought to her was just priceless!  Audrey's special gift to Nanny was... (just like I did when I was younger...), she wanted to give Nanny the special gift of song and dance to light up her day and make her a little bit happier.  Thus, she insisted that I and Grave too, sing and dance with her for Nanny... (all kinds of songs), though, she kept coming back to one of her favorites... "Oh, Mister Sun, Sun, Mister Golden Sun... please shine down on Nanny!"  And when Audrey said, "Nanny," she would gesture her hands towards Nanny, like a true show girl!  It was so touching and endearing... and I know it really touched and blessed my grandmother's heart!!!  <3

My grandmother was a classy lady.  She was a very stong person, who like me, had been through some very difficult and challenging times, and she would often remind me, throughout my life, during my most difficult and trying times, how stong I was as well... and that she believed in me and knew that, "With the help of God," (as she always would say...), "I know you will make it through this, because you are strong like me, and we come from strong stock!"  :)

It is God's help, His Grace and favor that make us strong indeed, and I believe we have both learned throughout our lives just what the Bible says... that when we are at our weakest... we are at our strongest... becuase, truly, "God's Grace is enough!!!"  :)  My grandmother was always praying for me, and me her. And we will contine to do this still.

We of great Faith, although, sad for a time because we are going to miss her... know and believe that her soul is in God's Loving care... and truly, certainly without a doubt... he will raise her to eternal Life and we surely shall see her again.

And so today, again, though sad for a time, is not a day of deep sorrow, (at least not for me and my daughters), but a day of JOY... as we rejoice in the fact that God I am sure said to her, "Well done, good and faithful servant!" and we need not say, "goodbye," but rather, "until we meet again!"

I will always remember her sharp and witty sense of humor... and sweet things she would always say, such as, "No where to lie..." and when somebody would sneeze, she would say, "God bless... it's true!"  I will miss her frequent phone calls just to say, "Hello," how happy it always made me to hear her voice and how she endearingly would say my name, in her wonderful New York accent... and so much more!  Yet, these precious memories are not lost but will live on in my heart and in the hearts of all who Loved her, forever more!

It was so very special for my daughters to be able to know their Great Grandmother.  It was a true honor and privilege and I am sure they will cherish the memories we have made with her as well as all the pictures and videos I will show them as they grow older.

We LOVE you, Nanny, so much, more than we may have ever known, and we will continue Loving you and praying for you forever more!  Please remember to pray for us too, as I am sure you already have and will continue to.

May God's perpetual Light and Love continue to shine down upon you always... Amen!  :)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Let The Little Children Come To Me

Jesus said, "Let the children come to Me," and He meant it... because although He Loves everybody, He Loves the little children most of all! Before we are too quick to judge a child and think or say, "He or she is this or that..." we must see them as Jesus does and Love them as He does... and remember too that He tells us all in Sacred Scripture, "Unless you become like a little child, you shall not enter the Kingdom of Heaven." 

To some, I am sure that might not mean much, though, I can guarantee, that for those this doesn't mean much to, they will be thinking very differently about these meaningful words of Jesus at the end of their life if they are blessed enough to have such time to think of these words.

I say this because my beloved grandmother was called Home to be with our Lord in Heaven this past Wednesday and we have spent the last few days at the services of her wake, (and viewing), and yesterday, at Church for her funeral Mass.

Both of my daughters, Audrey and Grace were there as well as some of my family members, and friends of our family and my grandparents. This was the first experience of the death of a Loved one that my daughetrs had to face, and of course, Baby Grace, at just 5 months, was a little bit too young to at least verbalize how she felt about it all, my precious daughter, Audrey, at 2 1/2 was very much a part of all of it, taking every bit of it in and then expressing in her own, special, innocent way how she felt about it all.

My parents, my 2 daughters and myself have been here in Southern Florida visiting with my grandparents for about the past 20 days or so. We came here to visit and stay at my grandparent's home because my grandmother was very ill and we didn't know how much longer she had on this Earth to live, (as none of us know for sure), though, we wanted to come and visit her... to help brighten her days and help her to feel better which she did.

She Loved seeing us, and most especially visiting with Baby Grace and Audrey! Grace Loved to kiss her on the cheek, which made my grandmother so happy and Audrey and I sang her little songs and danced for her which she Loved as well. Though, even though, her spirit was uplifted her body was getting tired and was not recovering. Hope Hospice came in to help and shortly after, she was brought to their Hope House for the last days of her life here on Earth.

At the wake... as soon as Audrey saw our grandmother, whom we call, "Nanny," she said, "Mama... Nanny is born!" and she said this several times.  I was so touched, even if someone else might not have known what she was talking about... I did! And I said, "Yes, Audrey, she is born to Eternal Life!" What a beautiful message God inspired Audrey to deliver! Out of the mouth of babes!  :)

Audrey was so sweet at the wake, as she kept going up to the casket and touching Nanny's hand, and saying, "Mama, I want to hold Nanny's hand!"  and "Mama, look... Nanny has a rosary!" and "Mama, Nanny is not sick any more!"  She also, (when she thought no one was looking, perhaps), took her binki, (pacifier), her most favored and beloved, "yellow blanki," and her stuffed animal bear and placed them in the far end of the casket near Nanny's feet. I waited a moment before asking her to remove them.  I was so touched at the sentiment... that was her own, special way of saying, I Love these things... they belong to me and I want you to have them!"  It was really quite touching and sweet.

I had the privilege and honor of singing at my grandmother's funeral Mass, as the cantor.  This was something quite familiar to me, as a Church cantor having cantored at Mass, weddings and funerals for over 6 years.  I also had the honor and privilege of singing at my brother, George's funeral Mass in this same Church 18 years ago so this was extra-special to me.

I really thought that Audrey and Grace would be OK with me being the cantor and not being able to sit with them during the Mass, because Grace is still so small and often times sleeps through Mass and is very quiet even when she's awake and Audrey never seemed to have much of a problem with me, (except for one time), singing in Mass with the choir, while she sat with my parents. Though, all that I can say is... as much as you can plan and or envision something to go one way or another... the fact is... it's gonna just go the way it's gonna go... and ultimately, God is in control... ands when we TRUST in Him and His Divine Providence and Wisdom.... it really is ALL good, as they say!

That being said... I was up on the padella at the ambo, singing, our prelude, "Let There Be Peace On Earth," and the doors to the back of the chapel where the Mass was open and my grandmother's casket was there, the priest was there, my family... and there was my precious Audrey crying, "Mama!!! I want Mama!!!" with big, big tears running down her face!  I felt so bad, I wanted to cry myself! And still, what could I really do, other than sing, other than stop singing and run to the back of the chapel to rescue her... (which wasn't far from my mind, BTW!).  I hoped that she would stop crying, but had a feeling she wouldn't at that point so I just prayed that someone would be kind enough and compassionate enough to bring her to me!  God heard my prayer, quite quickly and within what seemed like moments, her gently took her by the hand and walked her up the padella to me.

The next thing I know, I have her on my hip and we were both singing together.  It was actually very sweet considering the circumstances... of how well she had done up until that point of being away from home and her friends and her classes at the YMCA for so long, being in my grandparent's house, watching her great-grandmother die and having to listen to the crying that followed and sorrow that filled the house. My mom and grandfather were crying at the funeral Mass and they are, "grown-ups," and so it only made sense that a little 2 1/2 year old would cry as well, and want her Mama.

It was fine that she was up there with me, and at times walking around on the padella.  A few other people seemed to have a problem with it, but... I just hope and pray that Jesus will touch their hearts with His LOVE for the little children and His Truth! Even the dear priest commented on how the tears of little children and Joy, (as she was dancing near my grandmother's casket), can be God's Presence.  Truly they are. He didn't mind in the slightest like I know some other priests would have. So He was a really blessing to us that day... and truly showed us all what Jesus is all about! He filled Jesus' shoes that day and I will be forever grateful for it!  :)

I have to say, while we were up there singing, I looked out a the faces out there in the congregation and many of the faces were stunned to say the least. They just looked to me as if they were thinking, "Well, I have never attended a funeral Mass quite like this before!!!"  And I have to say, after the Mass was done, almost every single person came up to me and hugged and kissed me and told me what a beautiful voice I had, (and Audrey too... who BTW ended up singing the entire Ave Maria with me, on key and unrehearsed!!!), and what a great job I did.  They didn't in the least say they were annoyed by Audrey's crying or presence up there! And that they knew my grandmother was so proud of me! Thanks be to God for people with hearts for Jesus!!!!!  Amen!!! Amen!!! Amen!!!

So, yes, my grandmother's funeral Mass most certainly did not go as they way I had expected or hoped, but, I truly believe it went exactly as God wanted it to go... and my heart is touched with Love, Joy and even holy Laughter and I am sure the hearts of others were as well, and I think that is how God wanted it.

My grandmother, as Audrey so sweetly reminded me... "is no longer sick!"  Indeed she is no longer sick but enjoying the riches and blessings of Heaven with our dear Lord of Love!!!  She is still very much a part of us and with us and always will be!  We LOVE her very much... she will be missed, but, truly she IS with us and praying for us as we pray for her!

Friday, August 17, 2012

We Are The Light Of The World... So Let It Shine!!!

In Sacred Scripture we are told that, We are the Light of the world and that we should let our Light shine before men, in such a way, so that they might see the good that we do and glorify God in Heaven! (Matthew 5:14-16).

How encouraging is that... to know that, "we are the Light of the world" and that we MUST let our Light, (ultimately, God's Light within us shine), in such a way, that in so doing... others might see the good that we do and give glory to God in Heaven! Praise God for this Good News... and may we be encouraged by it... and may it inspire us to go out into the world, ever more... and let God's Light within us shine for all to see, doing good works for the Glory of God's Holy Name!

Just a word about, "humility," that I feel I must share here... (and not just for everyone else, but for myself as well!).  I believe sometimes that Christians can have the wrong idea about humility, thinking that because God calls us to be humble and even clothe ourselves in humility that we are to somehow deny or hide our God given gifts and talents... (one of the greatest gifts that God has given us is His radiant Light, the Glorious Light of Christ shining within us...), of which He gives us not just to give true Light to our own eye, that we might truly see... but to the eyes of all the world so that they might see truly, the good that we do... and give glory to God!

Another gift that we may feel the need to hide at times, (in thinking that we are being, "humble," in so doing is the gift of Love God has given us...), and we are told that of the three gifts that God gives us... "Faith, Hope, and Love... the greatest of these is Love!" This is true.. and the power of Love can do amazing things in our lives and in the lives of others, yet, if we hide it... how will we ever accomplish great things for God that may give Him glory?  After all, we are born for greatness... and so we need to share the gift of God's Love and shine His Light for all to see to become the great people and accomplish the great things we are created to!

There are other gifts that we tend to hide in thinking that we are being, "humble," such as our talents, (whatever they may be... because we all have them, whether we may realize it or not... and they are different and unique for each and every person whom God has created with such Love!).

It is my special prayer today, that all of God's children will realize how very special and precious they are to our God of Love... our Creator... and that they will humbly recognize all the special and unique, God-given gifts and talents God has given them... and will share them with others and with the world... for in so doing... they will truly be letting their Light shine, God's glorious Light within them, doing th egood works God calls us to do... and others will take notice and give glory to God!

Peace and Love of God be with you my friends! 

                                                   God's Blessings are upon us!!!

Let it shin, let it shine... let it shine!!!  :)

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Finding Grace and Beauty in The Cross

Although, I have shared this in a couple of other previous blogs, still there are people who have not yet heard the news of what happened with me and my daughters following the birth of my second daughter, Grace. And since I have been thanking people for their prayers for us and asking for continued prayers... I'd like to share again, what has happened and where we are with it all today.

It's a long story, though, to make it shorter... what happened is that because I have a chemical imbalance that I have to take medication for and is very manageable and livable...  I ended up having post partun depression, which I am pre-disposed to having after the birth because of my chemical imbalance.

75% of women after giving birth, experience what is called, "the baby blues," and periods of sadness, tiredness, inadequacy and so on.  This is considered to be quite, "normal," however, if it persists for it can become post partum depression, or could have already been post partum depression, without the mother ever even knowing it.

Many women end up having postpartum depression after the birth of a baby, and despite what they might feel at the time, (like they will never overcome it and get better), they do and even up recovering completely from it and going on to live happy, healthy, blessed lives with their children, especially with God's Love, Grace and continuous Guidance... becoming the wonderful mothers they hoped they would be!

I experienced postpartum depression after the birth of both of my daughters, which manifested itself in the form of me becoming very exhausted from lack of sleep, staying up till all hours of the night with Baby Grace, who we found out later had gastrual reflux and cried and cried in pain and was much of the time inconsolable. This, because of my postpartum depression, made me feel very inadequate as a mother, feeling like I wasn't doing a very good job at consoling my daughter, and led me in a downward spiral of helplessness.

Some of the contributors to PPD are an unstable relationship, lack of support from a spouse, a difficult pregnancy, concern about the baby's health before and after birth, and exhaustion, as well as already being pre-disposed to having it because of a chemical imbalance, and also you are most likely to get it if you have already had it with a precious pregnancy. These are just a few of the contributors to PPD and it is no wonder that I experienced it because I had them all.

Aside from me becoming physically exhausted, (even having 2 complete days of vertigo that was so bad where I could barely walk and was very scary), my PPD also manifested itself in the form of anxiety which is also another common contributor, and unique to my experience with it, I became after the birth of both of my daughters, very over-protective of them, feeling like they were in danger and I had to protect them.

I had to be hospitalized both times to get the chemicals in my body balanced out, and while I was in the hospital after giving birth to my daughter, Grace, trying to heal from all the trauma I was dealing with before and after her birth, someone called the DCFS, (Department of Children and Family Services), and made a false allegation about me saying that I was abusing my children. Thus, they opened an investigation, and ended up placing my two daughters in foster care with complete strangers, with them being in two  separate homes.

It's been quite devastating on the whole family, though, most especially on me and my daughters. We have been praying that they will return home soon and asking others to join us in prayer... and hopefully, God willing they will return home this Monday. And then the Healing begins... especially for my precious daughters, for me and for our entire family... (for we have all been effected by this in varying degrees). God's Love is great and so is His Grace and it has been getting us all through this horrible experience to a brighter, healthier, happier "future full of Hope," that He has promised us!

I don't know exactly why this had to happen, why God allowed me to get sick with PPD or why He has even allowed me to have a chemical imbalance that pre-disoed me to having it in the first place.  All I know is, it's a part of my cross and in the cross is found great Grace, Beauty, Love, Joy and Hope if we but seek to find it there.

Perhaps, God has allowed all of this to happen in my life because He knows that with His continued Love and Grace and Hope I will continue to get through and overcome this trial as I have so many others in the past... and perhaps, this time... it's finally time to stop feeling ashamed of the cross He's given me and keeping it locked up inside of me as a secret only few have known about... but to lift it high and truly allow the radiant Light of His Glory to come shining through and from within me.

For, "It is no longer I, but Christ Who lives within me," Galatians 2:20 and how He longs and Loves to show His Glory through through those who live for Him and have suffered as they have lived their lives through, with, and in Him! Maybe, in so doing, I just might even be able to inspire others to do the same... to lift high the cross God has given them, (no matter what it might be), and allow God's radiant Light to shine through it and from within them... for their is great Beauty to behold in the Cross!

God's Grace has been carrying me and my daughters through this and will lead us back to each other very soon, so we can continue the beautiful new lives God intends for us to live. I just continue to pray that throughout all of this God Will be glorified and with thriumpth as He always does and that others will come to believe in Him and have even stronger Faith then before because of it!

Thank you for your ongoing prayers.  Many Blessings of God's Love, Grace and Goodness be with you and your family for your kindness! 

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Let Us Be Like Sonflowers!

Let us be like beautiful sunflowers... for we belong to the Son! ♥ :)
Let us be like beautiful sunflowers... forever growing upwards... with our faces always reaching towards and facing the sun... The Son of God, that is... who saves us, Loves us, nutures us, heals us and gives us new Life eternal, and ALL we ever need in Him! May God's glorious face ever shine upon us as we grow closer and closer to Him! :) ♥
                                                          So Keep on looking up!!! 

Monday, July 23, 2012

My Soul Proclaims The Greatness of The Lord

 Mary's Magnificat... (Her Song, And Mine Too)
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children for ever.

Wow!!! What Beauty and depth of Spirit! What Love pours out from the soul of Our Blessed Mother upon hearing the Good News that She was with child and not just any child, but God's very, own Son, Jesus, Who would soon be born with the greatest destiny and purpose of all... to save the world and all mankind from the darkness of sin and death and with the gift of God's Mercy, Forgiveness, Love and His Grace...give Light and the gift of Salvation to all who believe in Him and give their hearts to Him! For Jesus came to give us Life, everlasting... so that our Joy may be complete! How full Mary's life must have felt, most especially on this blessed day... it is clear that her Joy was the most complete it had ever been in Her entire life up until that day, as She rejoiced in beautiful, spontaneous song!  :)

I can't help but say that this is how I felt with both of my pregnancies with my sweet daughter, Audrey and Grace!  Both times, upon hearing that I too was with child and that like Mary was called by God to be a mother, I too was called by God to be a mother as well.  The blessing I felt from God on both of those very special days that I will always remember and treasure deeply is beyond what I even have words to describe. With Audrey, on that first day I found out she was growing in my womb, I too like Mary was inspired to sing a new song of Joy, gratitude and praise to our God who brought my sweet daughter into being. It is my canticle, my own fiat, and I even recorded it that day and when I found out that I was pregnant with Grace, I also felt the exact same way... my heart was filled, once again, with so much Joy... that like with Audrey, truly my cup overflowed and still does to this day.

One of my favorite lines from that song goes like this:  "Forever life has changed, and only for the greater, God's Glory and God's Beauty, arising in my soul, with secrets far too deep, and sacred to even whisper, I hold and I cherish all this beauty in my heart!"  and then it goes on to say... "May my life be always an endless prayer in motion, of praise and thanksgiving to my God, Who's saved my life, and blessed me so deep, that my cup it runnith over, only Goodness and sweet Love will be with me in my life."

It's such a blessed gift to be called by God to be a mother and as much as I will always continue to cherish both my pregnancy journeys... just as much, if not more do I strive with all that I am to be as present as I possibly can to my daughters in every which way... and to cherish each and every, new and precious moment that God gives us... holding the and keeping them saving them and protecting them deep within the depths of my heart where they cannot be touched or corrupted, nor stolen from another. They were made by me and my daughters and God, of course... and they belong to us... for us to enjoy always and forever!!!  :)

I hope and pray that every mother feels likewise and I continue to pray for all mothers where ever they are in their journey of motherhood for God's great blessing to be upon them in the most special way! May the Christ Child bless, protect and be with them and their precious children as well! :)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Future Full of Hope... Always!

Above is one of my all time favorite verses found in Sacred Scripture.  It was given to me from someone as a kind of gift many years ago when I was just entering my young adulthood... and it became a beautiful, glowing golden promise from God to me that has continued to prove true in my life over and over again!  :) 

In my life, I am forever running towards this precious promise of Hope God has given me and us all... and one might ask me, if they simply look at my life from the outside, "Well, have you reached your future full of Hope yet?"  The answer is... "Yes!" and also, "I'm still getting there!"

As Christians, living on this Earth, we are forever on a journey Homeward to our Heavenly Home and we are called by God to keep our Faith in Him strong whatever may come our way... and run the race before us to Him.  As we do so, we continue to reach and reach again this, "Future full of Hope," that God has for us! It is forever changing for the better and transforming to fit our needs as we grow in our Faith and life's journey.

God gives us all the gifts we need to make it through our lives, back to Him, in the most Graceful way possible! Life can be so challenging at times and among the other spiritual gifts that God gives us to endure all the trials we face in our lifetime, such as, Faith and Love... God gives us too, the gift of Hope to lift us high above, on the wings of eagles to help us realize His promises for us and His Loving will for us.

If we want to make it through life, and reach the finish line... and God, we've gotta have an endless amount of Hope in our hearts.... Hope Always, and in impossible situations, with the gift of Hope strong and bright in our hearts... they can be turned around and transformed... and the miraculous can take place! 

So keep on Hoping.... and asking God to fill your heart with more and more Hope and dare to believe in the beautiful, golden promise above that God has for us all! Your life will be blessed abundantly because of it!  :)

Wishing you a beautiful, Hope-filled day!  :)