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Lenten/Easter Testimony

In the midst of the every day, may YOU be the center of my heart. I long to know you deeply and intimately. Please help me this Lent to surrender and see your deep love for me, imperfect, lonely, unseen, tired, broken and allow me to slow down to witness and be truly grateful for the many blessings you have placed in my life. I feel so lost and lonely sometimes, may I get through every day knowing that you are with me through it all and that I need to lay it and trust you will transform all suffering, into something greater for your glory. May your mercy, love and compassion wash over me and draw me into your loving embrace, ready to accept and use my charisms to bring others to you and say yes to my personal fiat. I am so blessed and truly in awe of your love and mercy, help me to extend love and mercy to everyone I encounter.

At the beginning of Lent I really felt compelled to get to know God deeply, to write what was on my heart and allow God to show me what he wants for me. I found there is so much I have yet to learn and know about God, his opportunities are endless, I just need to set aside the time to dive in, learn and grow more deeply in my faith. Every time I prayed about what God wants to transform in my life. I just really felt God asking for my WHOLE heart. There is so many times the things I am the most critical about are the unique gifts God gave me to be perfectly and uniquely made for his purpose. I went to a Women’s retreat to recharge and to be inspired by a small group of women, all so different yet all offering something so beautiful to help each other grow, reflect on and just rest in God’s presence. The day was full of nature, connection, time to support and learn from other women, to feel like I belong and ultimately welcomed and cherished. In Adoration I couldn’t help but feel Jesus asking me why did you stay away so long, I've been here waiting for you. Oftentimes the busyness of life gets in the way of my prayer time, to find a second seemed impossible yet so much of my time I found was being wasted on things that have no value to my spiritual life or family.

As I sat in complete silence in front of the Eucharist, I turned to the exact same page in the Bible 4 times, Proverbs 23:26 GIVE ME YOUR HEART. I sat there in silence as I cried, asking God to show me the ways I hold myself back from your full and never-ending love. In what areas of my life do I still hide, teach me O Lord how and where I still need to open my heart for the needs of my children, my husband, my family/friends and my community. Saint Monica has been a beautiful example to me on the power of prayer, patience and perseverance. Yet at the deepest part of my soul, I deeply long for my REDEEMER, that came to make all things new. I prayed for several days asking God for any wounds, lies and things in my past that I could not move past on my own. I asked Jesus to come and take all of it from me so I was not held back from his love. Do not be afraid daughter, the suffering and challenges are helping to form you to serve my will. Do you not see that every time they struck me, it did not pain me. They beat me beyond recognition, yet I looked at them with my deep, never-ending love. I want you to humble yourself, love without reserve, show mercy, love, empathy and understanding to all. When are you going to ready for more, suffering brings you closer to me. Which led to the next thing that I knew in my heart I needed to do, Confession. The sacrament of confession has always been so hard for me, I never truly embraced the true beauty of this gift and sacrament. I really took it for granted for so many years. Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us, to truly seek forgiveness I must be willing to forgive all the hurt and lies I still held in the recesses of my heart. As I walked into church I was overwhelmed by a warm feeling calling and drawing me in, as I walked up I just prayed to really show me the areas of my heart that need forgiveness, what are my sins that I haven’t forgiven myself for, what is holding me back, what has me stuck, what does God want to reveal to me and ultimately reminded me He already knew everything and would do it all again just for Me.

Sarah Kroger’s songs, Belovedness and Pieces, washed over me as I reclaimed and confessed my sins. Love your enemy, you should love your enemy as much as you love God the Son, how can you love me, when you can’t love the people, you do see. It hit me as long as there was something blocking others from my love and forgiveness, I could not come to know Jesus deeper. My experience at Confession so profound and my absolution was to sit and reflect on the Woman at the Well. I found how much I see myself in the Woman at the Well. Hiding the parts I am ashamed of, closing myself off from others when I am suffering or in despair, yet truly longing for someone to see me as Christ sees me. To have someone see the whole and complete me, not just a few parts or the things I want seen. How often the lies and deepest parts of my heart make me feel hopeless, lost and alone. Yet through Confession, Jesus takes all of it, I CAME TO MAKE ALL THINGS NEW. Only He can ransform sin and turn it into redemption. Holiness is work, I found out quickly I wasn’t being intentional enough with my faith to truly know, love and serve God with my whole heart. Holiness is shocking, it isn’t easy, it requires a change in attitude and discipline, a complete trust and surrender, a longing for more mercy and grace rather than relying on the things of this world. Daughter, I see you, I love you. I release you from your sins on the cross. I will take care of you and I will never leave your side. Know your identity! If you do not know who you are how can you prosper and grow? Be open to my plan, strive always to enter through the narrow door, be aware and be present. My Jesus, My Jesus welcome to my home, Mother Teresa. Suffering is so valuable, to be willing to lay down your life, so you can unite it with Christ.

The rest of Lent was going well until mid-Holy week. My son came

home from his cousin's house, I was told he was not quite himself and

that he didn’t eat or talk much, which is very unusual for him. After

several hours of watching him, asking him what was wrong, asking him

if I could look in his mouth, my concern grew. It was right before bed

that I found him curled up, crying, worrying if he would make it through

the night because it hurt and was hard to breathe. I told him I can’t

help you unless you show me what worries you. Instantly, as I looked

into his mouth I couldn’t help but feel anxious, I couldn’t see the back

of his mouth, his tonsils were inflamed. Checking with my husband and

grabbing the keys to head out the door, we headed to the ER. The ER is

one of the few places I dread to be, watching my son in pain, worry and

unrest. Test after test, they found it was a huge abscess from a cold he

had the week before, we were there for 6 hours, we found out he is

allergic to antibiotics, drained the abscess to get tested, got the things

to look for and bill of good health to go home. Relief after a long night

of worry.

As I sat there I started questioning why him and I couldn’t help but think of Our Lady and reflect on the Seven Sorrows, the pain and worry as she, His mother, watched Jesus throughout the Passion and remained present. How the time stood still, yet she endured, she trusted, she let go of worry, allowed and watched helplessly as God’s plan unfolded. As I sat there, I longed for something to take away the worry as we waited. I dug through my purse for anything to occupy my mind. Eventually, I found a dead phone, a Rosary and a Daily prayer book. Strength, save me, merciful love, trust, transform, steadfast love, communion, mystery of the Lord’s passion, refuge, safety, hope, these are the words that stood out as a sat there, I read the daily readings aloud and watched as our son was comforted and slowly feel asleep listening to the Word of God. I kept reading, prayed while the doctor drained the abscess, and placed everything in God’s hands.

I sat and questioned why he did not say something sooner, why he waited until it got that bad that he worried about breathing. How often our sins hold us down, we lose hope and they become too heavy, instead of turning to our spiritual physician. I came to make all things new! God is the true comfort in our lives we just must trust in him, and give it all to him. My soul is restless until it rests in you. Do I know, love, and serve God in the everyday journey of motherhood, as a spouse, in my vocation and call to be a saint? Do I use my charisms, talents, weaknesses, and strengths to follow God without reserve, without questioning, in total surrender? Do I love the Daughter I am? Am I ready to lay down my life daily for Jesus? Lent was a beautiful journey of growth, love and forgiveness. That in ALL things God may be Glorified! ~JMJ

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