It's a grand adventure.
Sometimes you are in a valley and can not see the light.
Sometimes you reach the summit of the mountain and survey all the awesome wonder God has made.
Most times we are heading up that mountain or on the other side heading down.
God has a purpose for each season and each challenge we face within that season.
Courtney has been in Heaven for 20 months now.
I don't cry every day anymore. I don't even cry every week. I save it for special occasions, like her birthday or a day when I need to just sit in the grief for a bit, mulling over my loss and allowing myself to go that dark cavern, way deep in my heart where I keep my pain and loss.
One does not "get over" losing a child.
One does however, learn a few new dance steps, so that one can move through life finding some joy and happiness again.
Over the past three months or so, I have been wrestling with my life goals and dreams. I am approaching my 49th birthday in a few weeks. This has made me stop and really think about what I really want out of life.
You notice I said "I wanted" right?
God noticed as well.
When I was in Portland, Oregon last week, for the Catholic Women Rejoice Conference, God and I got to spend some quality time together in the quiet of the Franciscan Sister of Our Lady of Sorrows Convent. He has spent the last year leading me out of heavy grief and into a new dance, demonstrating each new move with patience and grace, allowing me time to adjust and get used to the new choreography.
My sweet daughter has been with me in every moment of these lessons. I thought that it was all about what "I wanted" and while there, I may have learned another thing or three thousand.
You see, we celebrated Courtney's birthday while on the west coast and that night in prayer I felt led by the Holy Spirit to ask God the Father to speak to my heart, peel back my fear, and show me where He needed me to be. I asked Courtney to intercede for me during this time so that I would really listen and hear His voice if He chose to speak to me.
|my inspiration and my heart <3 - 2013|
Note to self: do not mess around when asking Courtney to intercede for you. My girl does not play around.
Oh did he speak...
Courtney taught me many things while this side of heaven but one of the most precious lessons is one I had set aside for a time, but no more.
Life is short.
Time is precious.
Love fully, holding nothing back. No regrets.
Live everyday as if it's your last one.
Because it just might be.
My daughter's life was filled with strife and difficulty, BUT, God always brought so much joy and hope to us no matter what was happening. It came through ALL the love and support you all gave so freely. It came from family members who moved mountains when needed to help us meet whatever need existed at the time.
When it came to living in the moment, our daughter was the bomb dot com. Things would literally change on a dime, but, she still smiled and laughed and allowed us to love on her with wild abandon. I am so very grateful for that sweet gift.
God brought these memories forward in my heart and mind last week, reminding me that He still had work for me to do for the kingdom.
I have long held a dream of one day speaking and writing full-time. I have made many mistakes in my lifetime but in each and every one, I have found God's forgiveness. Not only that but He has encouraged me and loved me through all the insanity. I have never been alone for one moment.
As I stood on a stage in front of 250 women, the Lord spoke directly to my heart and said "I want to give you the desires of your heart Mary. You see these faces? Speak to them from your heart and share my love for them with them. Dig deep my Mary. Be vulnerable and don't be afraid to expose your deepest hurts. I have forgiven them and healed them. Help draw these women to me, so I can heal them too."
I put my notebook down and spoke straight from my heart for 50 minutes about how God has made all things new in my life. I spoke about my husband, son and daughter, our ups and downs, our failures and triumphs. I spoke honestly, exposing the bruises in my life without fear. I told these beautiful women about the Lord's love for them and how He wished to heal them if only they would open the door to their hearts.
It was beautiful.
There were tears and laughter.
In the end there was an embarrassingly long standing ovation, followed by hugs and whispered secrets, prayers asked for and given and so many blessings. I was blown away that so many women followed the prompting of the Holy Spirit and headed to confession. God must have been so pleased to have so many souls reconcile with Him that day. The Holy Spirit showed up in spades and I was witness to the wonder of His overflowing grace.
I get goose bumps just thinking about it.
It has happened this way every time I step out and give my redemption story. You think I would have gotten the message by now that maybe He had different plans for me but no. God is so patient with me.
When I went to bed that night, I knew what new challenge God was calling me to. I knew that it was time to step out in faith of His provision for me and my family, and jump off the cliff trusting him with my landing.
I came home filled with peace and a little bit of excitement. I chatted with the hubby, we prayed about it for a few days and then decided it was time to make some changes.
|At the National Shrine of Our Lady of Sorrows - Portland, Oregon|
After a year of serving my local parish family with love, pouring myself out to assist families burying their loved ones as well as all the other jobs that go with being the Liturgy Coordinator, it's time for me to step back from that job and answer the call on my heart, placed by a loving God who needs me to walk in a new direction.
September 30, 2016 is my last day on staff at St. Mary of Sorrows Church. I ask for your prayers for my pastor as he interviews and makes a decision on who my replacement should be. This will not be an easy thing for him. I'll add my prayers to yours. I have no doubt God will show up in a HUGE way. After all, He said leap, so He will cover the hard parts with mercy and grace. I have no doubt.
I am going into full-time ministry speaking and writing all about the love God has for us, no matter what we have done in our past. jerry will remain gainfully employed so we can eat and have a place to lay our heads at night.
I'm going on the road to give retreats and talks all about letting go of shame and embracing who God made you to be. About accepting whatever cross God gives and wringing out every ounce of joy you can in honoring that gift. About finding joy after devastating loss, trusting God to renew and restore your heart. About letting God be sovereign in your life and walking with him. About keeping your eyes on him, never losing hope no matter what comes your way.
About so many other things as well...
I have one devotional book three quarters done and a memoir almost half way done.
Life is short and time is precious.Courtney's and my story needs to be shared. Life needs to be celebrated. The dignity of the human person needs to be honored.
God gave me an awesome gift this past year. He allowed me to step out of grief and into service, showing me that I am capable of doing more than ever thought I could. He spoke through my pastor, urging me to love so many. He is now urging me further to step outside my comfort zone and bring His message of love and acceptance to as many as I can, all while letting go of the financial security of my steady salary.
It is daunting.
It is exciting.
It is terrifying.
It is the answer to a decade long prayer and Courtney is right in the middle of it all.
Every time my stomach rolls or I break out in a sweat thinking about what needs to be done and how crazy this all sounds, I talk to my girl. "It's your fault I'm here so you had better intercede for me, moving mountains girl. Your momma needs you now more than ever." She has yet to disappoint.
There you have it my friends. Life is beautiful. Life is short. Time is precious. It is time to leap and go forth and teach. Won't you cover me in prayer for this new adventure? Cover Jerry too since this requires his to really trust in the Lord's provision for our family. Pretty please?
Here we go friends...here we go.
If you are looking for a speaker for your retreat or a single talk at your parish, give me a jingle won't you? I can be reached at (firstname.lastname@example.org) I am totally willing to go wherever and the subject matter of each talk is individualized for my audience, wherever and whomever they are.
It's time for new beginning #1,034 don't you think?
Labels: catholic family life, confession, Courtney, encouragement, married life, new beginnings, public speaking, writing