hope does not disappoint...

"And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us." Romans 5:3-5

These past few weeks I have been thinking a lot about HOPE and the future. My life has changed so much in the past two years it boggles my mind sometimes. We had Courtney's Campaign which changed the course of our future, for the better. Praise God! Jonathan graduated from High School and went away to college. He has stumbled a few times, but dusting himself off, he gets up and tries again. Courtney seizures got worse, then better, then worse again, now better again. She came through a very difficult summer doing much better than anyone expected her to. No surprise there some would say. She's a fighter. Take it from the one who slept on the floor of her room more times than I care to admit, it's been tough. Jerry is almost finished with his Masters degree and will be starting his Ph.D in the next 18 months or so. He is following his dream to one day teach History. I am so proud of all of them. I am blessed that they are my family.

Then I stop for a moment and ask...what am I doing? How am I making my life better or that of my family? Am I pursuing my dreams? Is it what God wants me to be doing? What is the HOPE for my future? My families? Am I being the best Mom I can be? The best wife? The best Catholic Christian?

So two weeks ago,on Courtney's birthday, I did what I always end up doing when there is so much crowding my mind and my heart. I took a little pilgrimage...to the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in DC. As we pulled up in front of the shrine, all was well with my soul. This place is filled with God. It's like walking into a warm embrace.
 Jonathan and Courtney came with me so that we could pray together and so I could rededicate them to Our Lady for another year of her prayers of intercession, protection and grace. It was the best decision I have made in a very long time. The history of this great church is astounding. The quiet within these walls call a soul to be reflective and to listen to God speaking through the silence. You know that you are on holy ground walking through the different chapels. It restored the HOPE in my heart that everything would be OK once again.
The most moving part for me was when we read Courtney her birthday blessings that everyone had left for her here on this blog. You were so generous, all of you, with your prayers and blessings for my daughter.
Do you see her smile? We were at the chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes. Courtney was dedicated nine years ago to her patronage during our trip to Lourdes. We pray for Our Lady's intercession to her Son Jesus every single day for Courtney. That wonderful look on her face, the peace, that gives me HOPE that she is going to be OK, no matter what happens or where God directs our path. Those moments praying and rejoicing in that chapel will stay with me for a very long time. If there is life, there is HOPE!

I had the children light a candle by Our Lady and pray together. Jonathan is dedicated to Our Lady of Mount Carmel whose mission is purity and chastity among others. I pray each day that he chooses to follow God and remain on a path His choosing. Watching him with Courtney is a joy.
I watched as my son took his sisters hand and held it while they talked to Our lady begging her to take their cause to her Son. I actually had the presence of mind to take a picture so that I would remember the tenderness of that moment because I don't know how many more we may have. There is HOPE in those hands. I see it now and tears spring to my eyes and joy leaps into my heart. I am so blessed! I am! As I stepped back and watched these two miracles that God has blessed me with, I was struck by a wonderful calm in my heart. As long as I gave honor and glory to God, work hard to preserve my faith and my family, He would grant me the desires of my heart. HOPE is a decision I must make each day to rely on God for all He has promised, whether I see it or not. It is a choice to believe in my unbelief. I was sure of it that day and I am even more sure of it now.

To be the mother to these two young people is an honor. My HOPE is in the God who granted them life. Do I get frustrated? You bet. Do I get mad and loose patience? Every single day. Am I the perfect cheerful, happy mother and wife, every day? That would be a no! Do I thank the living God who chose them for me and me for them? Every moment I am alive!

It is rare for me to slow down in my daily living. Seizures don't really allow for a calm and peaceful home all the time. But on this day, in this place, I was still. God was there. Our Lady was holding my hand and my heart offering it to her Son. She had her hands on my children comforting them and loving them as only a mother can. I stopped questioning how things would get done. I stop negotiating for my future success.

I knelt down and prayed for the perseverance to come, for the HOPE to remain in my heart forever and always. God is HOPE, now and forever. I will place my trust in HIM.
Blessings and Grace,

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