Categories
Baptism Confirmation Ink Slingers Last Rites/Anointing of the Sick Molly G Parenting Pro-Life Issues Special Needs Connection

Seeing Faith: Believing as a Special Needs Parent

When I first heard we were doing a special needs series, I was very happy to contribute and had many ideas flowing. There are so many areas in our faith and faith lives that we can use a voice and guidance. However, the very day this happened was the day my daughter was discharged from the hospital after a month long stay. So today, I will share with you her story and get this series started with some very amazing things that happened.

December 27 started like any other day for our family.  It was my husband’s birthday and we had a lot of family plans including cake and presents.  Halfway through opening presents, Meagan came over to me, put her hands on my leg, and said, “Mommy, my head….” The next thing we knew, she was on the ground out of it – her head bulging, and her eyes glassy. Shortly after she was pressure vomiting and turning color, and I knew we had to get her to the hospital as soon as possible.

For those that don’t know our story, Meagan, my fifth of six daughters, was born with congenital hydrocephalus (fluid on the brain). She was shunted at birth, and since then has many other diagnoses that we have dealt with over her 5 1/2 years including epilepsy, chiari malformation, failure to thrive, developmental delay, and many other difficulties. She has had 19 brain surgeries and many other hospital stays and procedures, and daily life with her is nothing short of adventure. I thought we had seen it all with her, as several of her stays and surgeries had been quite serious – until this last time. 

By the time we got Meagan to the hospital, she was grey and not breathing well. The respiratory team tried to help her as best as possible, but her body wasn’t responding. She then started seizing and going downhill. Her carbon dioxide was through the roof and she wasn’t able to breathe on her own. They had to intubate. Unfortunately, she was still pressure vomiting from her shunt failure, so because of what can only be described as the perfect storm, she aspirated. The neurosurgeon took her to surgery and externalized her shunt to relieve the pressure, but the spiral was already too deep. Meagan was not able to breathe on her own and was a very sick little girl. The week following in the PICU, she was fighting aspiration pneumonia and then contracted RSV on top of it all the week after. It was a snowball effect, and any medical mama knows its the secondary infections that worry us most. It sounds crazy to think I was ‘comfortable’ with brain surgery, but that is Meagan’s life. Once aspiration pneumonia and RSV piled on, I was very worried. It was probably the first time in her many surgeries and hospital stays I was concerned she wouldn’t recover.

In times like these, anyone of faith typically turns to that faith as a comfort. But there is just an intensity that is added when you are a parent to a special child. Everyday is such a struggle, that the yearning for them to get well and fight another fight is strong. You know every time they have met challenges, the walls they already fight to break down, and many other hard times they have encountered – so when they are really down, it is a beyond desperate situation. I knew this time was different – that trusted “mom gut” was very apprehensive and not feeling good about Meagan’s situation. So I turned to the only place I knew had more control than I did – my Catholic faith and God who had been with me since before Meagan was born.

Probably towards the middle of Meagan’s precarious stay, I was on pins and needles. Those who know me well could read between the lines of my updates – this was serious and she was really bad. Meagan had been rushed from birth for her first brain surgery, and was baptized and confirmed at birth. So she already had so many graces to help her along, but this time she would need any help she could get. In hindsight, I see that God was showing me signs along the way. At the time I didn’t realize what they were, but now I see He was offering me comfort and hope.

The first chance I got at Children’s, I had a priest come and give Meagan Anointing of the sick. Not too long after, I had a friend offer a St. Gerard cloth to use to pray with Megs. Our parish priest also came and gave her Anointing of the Sick just a week later. And a family member had a priest say Mass for Meagan at Medjugorje when they heard of her precarious state.

When Meagan was not recovering well, a friend of mine had asked if I had any way to get her some Lourdes water. I told her no, I didn’t. It was a great idea, but I didn’t have a way to get her any at that time. The very next day another friend contacted me asking if she could come visit. I said sure and she made her way to the hospital. We sat down and she took out a package. The first thing she took out was a very sacred relic of St. Theresa that another friend had sent her to be brought to our room for Meagan. Meagan’s middle name is Theresa. The second thing she took out saying to me, “I’m not sure if you can use this, but I thought Meagan could really use it right now and I want you to have it.” I took the bottle from her and then saw it was Lourdes water. I got goosebumps. There was zero way that my two friends knew each other and zero way that this friend knew we had discussed Lourdes water for Meagan. It was truly a God moment in a very dark time. 

Not too long after, I was talking with one of my very close friends. She had mentioned St. Joseph oil that would be good for Meagan, but she wasn’t sure where it had gone. It had been her mothers, which was extra special because she prayed a lot for Meagan, but a lot had been happening and she was sure it had been misplaced. The next day she called me and said she had opened a drawer and the bottle of oil was there. She said she would place it in the mail and send it to Meagan. Around the same time, several families organized a local prayer vigil for Megs and brought together people from all aspects of our life at a local venue to pray. The night ended up being very stormy with rain and thunder and lightning all over the place – yet, they still showed up and it was an extremely moving service. 

Meagan had a very tough time with the RSV. She was already struggling neurologically and was fighting the aspiration. But the RSV on top of it all was really bad. She would cough and cough and cough and she would struggle immensely. Her oxygen would drop and it would be a challenge for the nurses, doctors and respiratory therapists to bring her back to a normal saturation. Meagan was still intubated at this time, so they would suction her many times, and all we could do was sit there and hold her hand and talk her through it. She wasn’t awake, but I knew that somewhere deep down, she had to hear me.

One night, Meagan was worse than ever. The coughing fits were constant and she was really struggling. The doctors and therapists were amazing, but she was really having a bad night. I took some of the Lourdes water and rubbed it on her chest praying for relief for her. Soon, her oxygen recovered to a good saturation and she came out of the coughing fit. The therapists were able to suction the sticky and thick phlegm from her lungs for the first time and she seemed to be more comfortable. It was the first time I talked to Meagan and actually saw response from her in her face. I couldn’t believe it because we had not seen much improvement at all before this. For 3 weeks I had waited for signs of my daughter, and that night I got it.

That morning after her terrible night and the storms during the prayer vigil, we had several people text us with pictures of clouds opening with sunlight shining through, and rainbows covering the sky. It was more symbolism that she had turned the corner and was going to be okay. She had overcome several complications, two illnesses, a shunt failure, seizures, and her 19th brain surgery and was once again coming home. After over a month of uncertainty, I was finally given the signs that she was on her way to recovery. Looking back on this last stay with her, I think it was a big reminder of how much we don’t control with Meagan’s life. I think that is something that is hard for special needs parents in general, and a big reason I am thankful for my faith and the signs we were given along the way.

As a special needs parent, you are always in fight mode. Even when your child is doing well, you are preparing, gathering, and learning. You are always on alert and always looking ahead to the next challenge that lies ahead. Are Meagan’s eyes glassy because she’s tired or about to seize? Is Meagan tired because of normal growth, or because her shunt is failing? If Meagan gets sick again, is she going to be able to fight it at home, or will she be back in the hospital fighting for her life? The biggest struggle I face as Meagan’s mom is recognizing and accepting that I don’t control everything in her life. I can be her best advocate, physically and spiritually, and still, I cannot control what ultimately happens. 

As a Catholic mom of a very complicated daughter, our faith has helped me better understand the lack of control we have in lives of our special kids. The faith grounds me when I feel lost, it pushes me when I feel challenged, and it comforts me when we are in times of need. For our family, it’s a great source of strength – and I am so happy that this series is started to help guide us through this journey we are on together. As special needs parents, we know that there are just aspects of our lives that no one else gets except other special needs parents – and this is also true when navigating areas of our faith. We have encountered many challenges and even road blocks along the way, and those times have sparked questions and discussions that I think is important we have as Catholic parents. 

As tough as those times have been, however, I do know one thing – it has made us stronger to hold on to our faith because it is times like Meagan’s most recent stay where you are sitting in a dark hospital room, ice cold as they try to stabilize your child, the only sounds around the beeps of her machines and the bustling of the nurses and doctors trying to help her the best they can.  All you can do is sit there and think, “Not after all she’s been through.. this cannot be …” But luckily for us, we have a light in the darkness – we have a string of hope in very hopeless times – our Catholic faith. 

I’m very excited to go on this journey with you, and discuss ways we can make our everyday experiences even better for those of us who have been privileged enough to have a child with extra challenges. Meagan is a gift. Our faith is a gift … sometimes she sees things that I don’t see … and makes other things come together that we would have never thought possible. We now have the opportunity to share with each other how we can make our faith experience better than ever with our special kids, and from there show the world how much they can teach us and bring us closer to God. 

Meagan asking her sister about Joseph and Jesus
Categories
Current Events Faith Formation Marriage Mass Molly G Parenting Prayer Rosary Special Needs Connection

Hosanna

hosanna

We have all been there – sitting in Mass with our children and just waiting for that moment when we may have to step in and distract, redirect, step out, or pray the moment passes where they feel like being loud at the most inopportune time.  It always gives me a chuckle because as a parent, you just know.  You know that moment when one of the kids might be reaching their threshold. 

For us, that “moment” is basically constant with one of our children much beyond the usual expected toddler shenanigans.   Our 5th daughter as you know was born with some congenital brain issues.  This always makes Mass interesting.  Don’t get me wrong, actually, she loves Mass.  But she also doesn’t realize how to whisper, or be quiet on command all the time, control her brain overload, manage her physical limitations, or even acclimate to the environment…even though we are there weekly. 

Hosanna - The Power of PrayerOne Sunday at Mass we were  doing the usual “holding our breath.”  We were doing so more than usual because she had complained of her head hurting the night before (this is never a good sign with Meagan because it can mean something is wrong requiring a hospital stay or surgery).  When she woke up, she still complained.  I had offered to stay with her at home but then Meagan told me she needed to go to Mass.  Of course I obliged and off we all went  She laid on my lap in the pew and seemed to calm down. I remember thinking I hope her head pain was going away.  As the choir started to sing the “Holy Holy,” all of a sudden out of nowhere Meagan sat up and  belted out at the top of her lungs, “Hosanna! Hosanna!”  I started to say “shhh” (while also thinking – wow, she remembered some of the words!).  She continued to belt out “Hosanna” numerous times during the song….. and after. And I continued to hush and try to distract her.  We luckily finished Mass as a family, and Meagan seemed to calm and handle the rest of her day well.

As we left Mass that day, I was surprised Meagan not only remembered the words, but also knew when to sing it.  I also started to think about my initial knee jerk reaction – to say “shhh.”  It wasn’t punative by any means, but why was that my first reaction to my child praising God? To the words finally coming to her lips?  It really got me thinking about kids and prayer- if that stuck with Meagan, what else was swirling around in her head? What other parts of the Mass or parts of prayers was she retaining even if not repeating them out loud? What else was she hearing that maybe we weren’t?

The last few weeks haven’t been great regarding the news in our world.  Unfortunately, we keep hearing about this tragedy and that conflict and these sad events…and the list goes on made much easier to repeat with all the instant access to information.  Some of my older children approached me and expressed concern about some of the things going on.  I understood their concern; it is so hard to balance.  We want to be informed and aware, but how do we balance that with staying focused on God and the good in our lives? And what about all the good in the world? (That does exist by the way despite never hearing much about it…)  Then I thought of Meagan’s “Hosanna” and remembered… prayer! I told the girls the story of Mr. Rogers and how his mother always said to look for the helpers in bad situations – because there is always good in bad.  Light in darkness.  Then I understood what my kids were asking – it wasn’t so much fear as much as they felt helpless.  And they wanted to feel like they were doing something.  Again, prayer came to mind. 

That very night we had a long talk about prayer and how God hears all our prayers, especially those of children.  We talked about the power of prayer and how important it is.  We talked about how it brings peace and love and strengthens our connection with God – and yes, sometimes, even brings about action to help good overcome.  The girls felt much better.  At that moment, the four older ones got their rosaries, knelt by the beds, and started to say the rosary.  It was late so I told them if they wanted to do one decade they could.  And they did….but then they continued.  And so my girls knelt there praying the Rosary and the whole room was calm.  I could feel their fears and worries lift away, and when they were finished, I could hear their voices so much lighter and happy.  They went to bed just fine and woke up with a new sense of calm and strength.

 

Hosanna - The Power of Prayer
Four sisters praying the Rosary together

 

I heard a great homily recently that offered insights and perspectives on why we go to Mass.  The priest related it to the greatest prayer.  He talked about how for that moment, for that one moment at Mass where the Eucharist becomes Jesus Himself, we can free ourselves of our daily worries.  The strife.  The fear.  The responsibilities.  For that beautiful moment at Mass, we are free with Him as He comes to be present in the Eucharist and nourish us at Communion.  The priest continued by saying that by us participating in the Mass and receiving Jesus, we are participating in the greatest prayer; we allow Jesus Himself to be within us to guide our words and our actions for the following week… and bring us peace from within as we go back to navigating our daily worries.  The strife.  The fear.  The …. well, you get the point.

I think it is really hard to navigate tough times with children.  They want so badly to feel action – that they are doing something or helping the situation or taking control of their circumstances.  And so often, they just can’t.  I’m so glad I was able to be reminded of the importance of prayer  for our children.  It is not only a way to talk to God, but it is in fact a way to take action! Prayer is something we DO – it’s an active communication with God, an active plea for peace and calm, and an active way to teach our kids to not just pray “for,” but pray “to accept.”  We ultimately pray for His Will to be done.  To teach this to our children is priceless. 

It wasn’t too long after my mini reflections on prayer with our kids that we were back at Mass another Sunday.  As soon as the Holy Holy started, sure enough it happened again. “HOSANNA!!!HOSANNA!” Meagan just as loud and proud as could be kept saying “Hosanna!” But this time I just thanked God for the “do over.”  I looked at Meagan and instead of saying “shhh,” I whispered in her ear “That’s right! Sing!”  So she did.  And I’m sure God heard her prayer.

Hosanna - The Power of Prayer

Categories
Ink Slingers Marriage Mass Molly G Motherhood Parenting Prayer Pro-Life Issues Respect Life Special Needs Connection

Jesus’ Door

I have always been pro-life, and so when we were faced with an unexpected diagnosis with our 5th daughter at her 19 week scan, there was no question we would bring her in to this world and face her challenges along side of her.  Immediate thoughts included just keeping her alive, getting her through surgeries, and learning as much about what we were going to go through with her as possible from the medical side of things.  Now that she’s 4 years old, although there are (and always still will be) medical emergencies, surgeries and all the things we thought about the last half of her pregnancy when we tried to imagine our life with her, there is a slightly new perspective I’m gaining. 

Meagan is doing well.  Her brain condition she was born with really leaves parents with a “toss up” situation.  Kids have a wide spectrum of outcomes, and often times things that happen along the way as they are growing also impact those outcomes.  Now at 4 years old, she is talking, she is up on a walker moving herself around, she loves to sing and learn and play just like other kids.  But, she is still not a typical 4 year old.  It’s hard enough with typical little ones at Mass, but with her it poses an additional challenge. 

When her four older sisters were toddlers or younger, of course they went through the things we typically go through with those ages.  The squirming, the restlessness, the wanting to move, the tantrums, the frustrations, the noise making…and the list goes on.  We do our best to help them through Mass each week and help them learn, and eventually, we see these challenges subside, one at a time and we see their understanding grow and before we know it, we have our little kids sitting in Mass with us behaving “pretty well” most weeks.  It’s a process (and yes, at times, it is daunting!), but we know it’s a process and we will move on at some point when upon looking back, it seemed like the blink of an eye.

Then, there is the experience of being Meagan’s mom at Mass.  She goes through the same list as above – but – imagine that there is no process for the time being.  There is no seeing things subside over time.  And, even more challenging, there is never a clue as to what will set her off – whether it be into a frustrated tantrum, or whether it’s into joyful, albeit loud, noises that do not cease.  While I understand there can’t be screaming through Mass, it does pose a challenge to me, and other special needs moms.  We can’t tell as easily what they are soaking up, and behaviors may change over many years rather than months, or never change at all.  This is where I started thinking back to our firm decision to bring Meagan into the world despite recommendations to terminate.  That was an easy decision in hindsight.  This…. This stuff… is hard.

One Sunday while at Mass, Meagan was having a little rougher time than normal.  We had a lot of rain come in, and because of her ever changing pressure in her brain, she has a very hard time with weather shifting.  She was just frustrated, upset, and couldn’t get comfortable.  It had been a seizure-filled morning for her and that usually is never a good start to her day. (nor would it be for anyone!).  Finally after realizing there was no reaching her, I took her to the back of the church.  She seemed more content to be on her walker, but, it is very loud.  She loves to move, now that she can move, but she has little steering capability and absolutely no awareness of objects or people in her way.  She would clunk clunk clunk down the back aisle of the church, hitting the pillars, sides of the walls, or people’s feet if I wasn’t fast enough.  She was happier and more content being in Mass that way, but, she was loud.  I kept trying to steer her back down the aisle because she kept trying to go in this narrow passage to a door at the back.  The door had glass and I was trying to keep her away from potential disaster.  I would turn her around, she would freak out and turn back towards the door.  Finally after repeating this process several times, she stiffened her body and yelled “No! I go Jesus door!”  It took me aback as I had no clue what she was talking about.  But she was emphatic enough, I gave in and let her go to the door.  She pulled her walker close to the glass, put her hands on the glass, and looked inside.  She said “It’s Jesus!”  I walked over behind her and couldn’t see anything due to the reflection, but as I looked in, I realized what room it was.  It was where the Blessed Sacrament was always present – Adoration. I looked around the room, and except for a few chairs with the kneelers, there was nothing else but the tabernacle in the room.  I wondered to myself, “how did she know that was Jesus?” 

 

11988477_10153170673546406_8300054905011307314_n

Often times, our kids pick up a lot more than we think at Mass.  I know I’m shocked by what my older four kids sometimes tell me from just hearing things over and over, but I was even more shocked by Meagan that day.  With all she has been through, we have tried to keep her close to Christ and to her Confirmation saint, Saint Gianna.  We pray the Hail Mary with her nightly, and treat her just as our other kids are treated.  But Mass has been a huge challenge.  It was so nice to see that day, that somehow, and some way, she knew Jesus was in that room.  My older children probably don’t even realize that, yet Meagan knew – she just knew His presence and wanted to be close.

Mass routine with Meagan hasn’t changed much.  She is still clunking her big leg braces between the pews, or slamming her walker in to the wall or pillars, or constantly talking not understanding how to whisper or be quiet, or on bad days arching backwards with head pain I don’t even want to imagine.  But I ask other parents, and other Catholics in general, to be patient.  To the regular eye that glances our way, it may not appear Meagan has “challenges,” and I know how sometimes we are quick to judge, especially during Mass when children are loud. We are so thankful we have such wonderful parishioners who, so far, have been extremely patient and accommodating to her and us, but we know this is not the case everywhere.  So I challenge everyone to take a breath, or even better, say a prayer, for that child that may be too loud, too awkward, too boisterous during Mass – it could be Meagan, or someone like her just trying to find their way. 

My job as her mother is to bring her closer to Christ, and find her way to heaven after this life is over.  So through her clunking and awkward questions and noise, just know that by her being there in Mass, she knows Jesus.  Every week now she asks to go take her walker and stand by Jesus’ door.  And, I let her…..because that’s why we suffer through all the challenges to bring her to Mass – so she can know Jesus. And so far, I think she’s doing a pretty good job at that.  She’s helped me to see that maybe sometimes, I just need to stand in front of Jesus’ door, and enjoy His presence in my life.

 

Enjoy this video below of Meagan reciting part of the Hail Mary….she’s catching on 🙂

Meagan saying Hail Mary

 

Categories
Anima Christi End of life Molly G Prayer

Line By Line Prayer Reflection: Anima Christi, Part X

This is the tenth of a series of posts reflecting line-by-line on the Anima Christi.

anima christi

As a mom of 5 kids, I am often plan ahead for things.  My older girls dance competitively, and so each week, I transport the whole family to dance class.  As I begin sending kids to their respective dance studios, I can also be found dishing out dinner in pre-made thermos containers for the others who are waiting, passing out coloring books or homework, and hooking my youngest up to her tube feed or giving seizure meds.  I often get comments on how prepared I am to have everything ready for our long nights away from home.  This is true.  I just have to be.  Whether it is school, dance, appointments, or other daily tasks, as  mom of a large family that also includes a special needs child, preparedness is just a necessity.  It’s a way of life.  This prayer got me thinking, though – am I truly prepared in the most important way? Am I properly preparing my children to be ready for God and His call? Upon reflection, these lines of the Anima Christi really speak to me about two important things – listening, and preparedness.

It is easy to get caught up in our everyday lives, schedules, and obligations and forget to listen.  We shush the children to move forward quickly, rush through dinners to get to a practice, or don’t take time to hear what others are saying so we can finish an assignment and move on to the next task.  Listening is often just ignored.  With the noisy world we live in, we forget sometimes that listening is just as important as speaking.  Actually, in our spiritual life, listening is probably more important than speaking.  We need to listen to God and what He is calling us to do in our lives.  During tough decisions, more than talk about it with 500 people, maybe we should listen for God’s peace.  During hard emotional times, rather than discuss it with multiple friends, perhaps we should listen for God’s comfort.  By doing these things, listening not only brings clarity to our lives as far as what God nudges us to do, but also helps us to be prepared.

Being prepared is so important in many aspects of our lives.  Spiritually, this is imperative, as we all know this life is temporary.  We are here only for a short while to do good, learn about God, and get ready to be with Him in heaven forever.  In the rush of planning children’s dinners to take in the car, or buying supplies ahead of time for an upcoming projects, we also need to be helping them to learn to listen to Christ.  I need to prepare them for the fact that His calling of us, is, well, unplanned.  We do not know when God will call us home, but without lessons in listening or preparing our souls the best we can, we may let other things cloud that blissful moment.

At the end, when all on this earth will be left behind, we will want clarity.  We will want peace.  And we will want comfort from fear.  What better way than to listen to God as we live each day, so when He calls us for that final time, we can remember with confidence His promise to be with us always…. “…in the hour of my death call me.  And bid me come unto thee….”

the joy of letting God speak to us

Categories
Ink Slingers Marriage Molly G Special Needs Connection Vocations

Comfort in Faith

I remember before I became a mom I thought it would be hard.  But I also thought it would be the best journey and a joy to experience.  My husband and I married after he finished Graduate school and we had our first child a little over 10 months later.  We decided having them close together (God willing) would be good so before long, I had a 17 month old and a newborn.  We soon realized with us, our 80 pound lab, two young children, and wanting more children in the future we would have to make a change.  The change for us, was to move away from where we were living at the time.  The cost of living was high, the houses were tiny, and we had very little resources to do things that were important to us and the children.  There were downsides however as we would be leaving my parents, my only sibling and his family, my husband’s oldest sibling who had several children, and a lot of very reliable and trustworthy friends.  It was definitely a scary decision, but a decision we felt was best.

Once we decided, of course we had a lot of questions from a lot of people.  The area that opened up with the best job opportunity for my husband was far away, and many people could not grasp why we would choose to move versus finding ways to stay.  We were even asked about why we would “do this” to the grandparents or how we were going to “keep our faith” by doing such a drastic move.   I, too, had thought this over.  Were we doing the right thing? Yes we would miss people, but especially these days, there were plenty of effective ways to keep in touch with family and friends.  Yes we would be “on our own” but as adults weren’t we always on our own to be responsible with our faith? Once we weighed all the pros and cons, we were confident going was the right thing for us.  Not necessarily the “comfortable” thing but definitely the right thing.  Seven years later, here we are.  And we love it. Was it an easy transition? No. But through the ups and downs, we have grown as a family unit, found new friends, and grown our own family. It’s home.

Enjoying their new home
Enjoying their new home

Fast forward four years.  We were pregnant with our fifth daughter.  At our 19 week ultrasound, a serious brain condition was discovered.  Upon seeing the perinatologist we were advised to terminate.  When we declined we were encouraged to meet with the genetic counselor for a detailed meeting.  There really were no details, but instead a 45 minute session of us answering questions as to why (gasp) we would want to bring such a child in to the world when we already had four to tend to. Again, it was  a very uncomfortable situation.  Was there ever a doubt in my mind what we would do? Absolutely not.  However it was awkward and uncomfortable to sit there and restate what felt like the same argument over and over in the face of what was obviously not support for our decision.  Seeing my daughter about to turn three, starting to crawl, talk, and smile at everyone in sight  – defying every single thing that counselor told us is gratifying.  It’s been a tough road, and will continue to be, but having her with us was always the right decision, no matter how uncomfortable it made others. We cannot imagine our lives without her.

Our youngest daughter visiting the Memorial to the Unborn
Our youngest daughter visiting the Memorial to the Unborn

Thinking back on those particular situations (and the countless others, both important and trivial that have occurred in the same timespan) and the struggle it was to make or stick with such a big family decisions, I have started to realize how much that is like our faith today in this world.  Think of all the things we have coming at us daily whether from pop culture, news media, horrible events in the world, or non-faith sharing friends who share “harmless” Catholic jokes that have us writhing inside.  All of these things just scream at us to stay in our comfort zone and hide. Even small events within our own day to day lives that make us squirm or have that moment of doubt if we are doing the right thing.  I once heard a teacher say “If practicing is easy, then you aren’t doing it right.”  She was talking about dance…..but I think this applies to us all in our faith lives.  Practicing isn’t easy.  It just isn’t.  And sometimes making the right decision for us or our family is also extremely difficult and uncomfortable.

Despite this discomfort that may occur from time to time, we must never lose sight that we have the ultimate Comforter right at our finger tips, right in our heart, and right in our soul each and every day.  God is always with us and most especially in those situations in which we doubt our choices because of how they will affect others.  He is always with us to help nudge us in the right direction.  As Pope Benedict said, “We must become mature in this adult faith, we must guide the flock of Christ to this faith.” All decisions in our lives have consequences…but decisions where choosing what is right for us, our family and our faith that cause us the greatest discomfort in others’ eyes, are often the ones that reap the greatest rewards in our lives….both here and in heaven.   And I guarantee a few hearts will be pulled with you along the way.

Always trust your faith
Always trust your faith – the children do notice.