Monday, September 9, 2013

A friend's request for a 'Yes' to God story...

My ‘yes’…such a funny thought that at first sounded easy to me. But the more I thought of, the more complicated the request sounded. A ‘yes’ to God is not a onetime occurrence, it is a continual and intentional choice to follow him. The opportunity happens daily, moment to moment.  Our relationship with God is organic and grows and changes.  Our faith is like a river that sometimes rushes and sometimes is calm and slow.

I feel like a ‘yes’ is renewed each time we choose our vocation over our wants, or we sacrifice even in the smallest way. Each day that comes we have opportunities to say ‘yes’. Some we miss, some we don’t. Business I would say is my biggest block from seeing or hearing Gods call to a yes.

But when I look back on the big ‘yeses’ , the pivotal times in my life where I had to stop and take a leap of faith to follow God even when it didn’t make sense at all, I guess the most profound is my first big ‘yes’.
Faith was always a stirring seed but never a committed lived experience for me. It wasn’t really practiced in my home growing up but my grandmother was always a beacon of gentle reminder. But, as an 18 year old college freshman faith became my lifeline.

 I sat one February night with my roommate staring at a very blue (before the stick) positive pregnancy test in shock. Yes, the lucky ‘just once’ over a Thanksgiving break with the boyfriend I missed so much. The best way to describe the moment in that dorm room is a tunnel, a time standing still moment of shock that the Asian flu that I had for months..that everyone else had too, had  actually been a pregnancy. I could hear myself breathe and my heart beating.  Terror, fear, shock; I still say unless you’ve been there you don’t realize how dark and frightening that can be.

I guess for me to have the baby was never a choice really, there would never be a question that I would terminate the pregnancy. But I opened my text book to human development anyway, and there was the little 8 week embryo. I closed the book.  I knew for me to continue, I had to shatter the lives of everyone around me.  I had to look up, ask God for the strength, hold my breath and move forward.
Yes to God does not mean easy for sure.  It was difficult, people’s reactions even more difficult. Rejection and rumor harder still. But deep within my soul was a strength that I couldn’t express. There was no question.

God’s provision and protection was in the people I loved. My parents said simply, ‘We love you, come home’. My boyfriend ran and broke my heart but my best friend stuck by me like glue. Letters and calls came from outsiders once I was home encouraging me with their abortion stories to abort. They just made me sad for them. My boyfriend’s father came to our house when I was five months pregnant with a list of late term abortion clinics, my father kindly but firmly escorted him to the door.

My doctors were hero’s, my friends parents loved me and prayed me through. Even the nasty comments from other adults that made me crazy because I knew what their kids were doing didn’t get me down. The only deep burden my soul carried was the loss of my boyfriend. My broken heart was shattered.
In August that year, my boyfriend refused to stay home until I had the baby and went back to college. I cried and prayed, I knew it make a difference if we was home when the baby was born. Half way to North Carolina his appendix ruptured, he was hospitalized and then sent back to New Jersey. I delivered a baby boy. He was home and saw him. It was the beginning of renewal.

How things change once that baby is born. The heavy stress is lifted and pure joy enters your life. By the time Christopher was four months old, I found myself at the moment of another ‘yes’. Do I completely choose God in my life? I said yes. I began sneak watching EWTN and teaching myself the faith. I started to go to daily mass with baby in hand. I began to read the Bible. My life was forever changed; Eucharist, reconciliation, psalms; all made for a new me.  None of which would have happened if I hadn’t said yes to that baby.

By the time our baby was 3, my boyfriend and I were married. By the time that baby was 12 my husband was a convert to the faith with a conversion of heart to match. By the time that baby was 22 we had a total of 8 beautiful children.  That baby just turned 26, that baby boy is now it Seminary at St. Mary’s in Baltimore and God willing will be ordained in 5 years.

Yes isnt easy for everyone, I was blessed and supported by amazing people and prayer. I do feel Christopher was spiritually adopted. I don’t think that kind of strength was from me. A total of 12 other friends and acquaintances aborted babies within 4 years of Christopher’s birth. I call him a holocaust survivor. There were times when the nay sayers were loud; there were times when I doubted myself. But that one yes has led to so many ‘yeses’ in my life. Some easy and simple, some difficult, but always lovingly guided by the boundless love and protection of God. 

Monday, August 12, 2013


I haven't written anything in a while on this blog, honestly I forgot I had this one! Chip and I have spent so much time working on You Can NOT Be Replaced and Hurricane Sandy Relief that I feel like I've missed two years of my life.

People are funny, you cant please everyone. You wont be every one's favorite, some people may not even like you...gasp!  Isn't funny how its a shock that someone might not like you, but we have no problem saying there are people we don't like? 

The hurricane in our area brought out the best of humanity in relief efforts, but after a while ego set in and you're left with 'I did more, I handed out more money, I saved the world...who are you?' We're out, we handed out over $100,000.00. We helped hundreds of families with supplies, furniture, rebuilding, connecting resources, providing counseling. But the egos of others turned us off big time. We loved that we had the opportunity to help but we don't like non sense, so we're back to YCNBR full time and now my art is back online at

In the end, I kept being reminded by the Holy Spirit (or my own brain) of 'perceptions'- 'write about perceptions'. Because really, the culture is screaming 'there is no compassion', 'walk a mile in my shoes before you judge me', 'Karma will eventually get the haters'. Well, I don't believe in Karma. I dont believe that there is force that attacks individuals because someone feels wronged. Karma also doesn't explain why bad and sometimes horrible things happen to very kind and good people.

There's the push for communication, 'all relationships must  have open communication and build trust'. Blah. Trust comes through honesty. Trust comes through predictability and sincere commitment. Communication is essential but, have you ever had a conversation with someone that you were as clear as you could possibly have been and they still spinned your words into something you never intended to say? I have, too many times, there is nothing more frustrating. 

Can we ever really imagine someones lived experience without implementing our own into the situation? There are so many nuances to life and facets of sensitivity to peoples personalities it must be impossible, our own life experience has to pepper our opinion. Even my husband and I living the same life have had very different experiences of the same journey. I really do this is what Jesus means in Romans 14:10 'You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God's judgment seat.' How could we ever really, truly understand someones motives?

Imagine a woman is walking her three small children down the sidewalk of a main street. She is a wonderful mom, attentive, patient and kind. She gave up her career, her book club and her hobby of shopping in order to stay home with these children she loves so much. But today, the kids are a little cranky and her middle child, a three year old boy is not too happy to sit in a stroller. He keeps sliding out and she keeps putting him back in. 

From behind her an older man who was the father of 6, and now the grandfather to 13 approaches. He sees the struggle and remembers the exhaustion of caring for his own sons and the way his wife looked on certain days when he walked through the door. He smiles at the frazzled mom and pats her on the back telling her the phase is short. A little annoyed but appreciative of the distraction from wanting to yell, she smiles and put the boy back for the 4th time. He screams in protest as she does. 

At that moment a young single woman walks out of a cafe. She is on her lunch break and looks up in shock as she hears a poor child shriek. Her heart is in her throat and it pounds as she remembers being grabbed by her step father. She can almost feel the grip on her arm and the heat of the tears. She looks at the young boy whose tears she can taste and her heart breaks. 

Immediately she steps back into the cafe and grabs the police officer at the front table. He approaches the mother and questions her. 

Imagine the mother's horror that someone would question if she hurt her child or not. Imagine how she looks for the older grandpa to stand by her and back her up in sheer panic but he's gone. She would never  hurt her child, but only the young woman saw the 'incident'. She was simply keeping her son from running in the street. 

But also imagine the young woman, how grief stricken she was with the image she saw. Imagine the grandfather who is still warmly remembering his own young boys unaware of what is happening on the path he walked. 

The young woman never intended to hurt the mother, but she did. The mom had months of questioning from child services and sleepless nights rethinking what kind of mother she was. She was afraid to walk in town, afraid to discipline the kids, afraid to breathe when she saw a police officer with her children in the car. 'Was she driving too fast, were they buckled correctly, what if she was pulled over?' 

The mother could resent and even hate the young woman for reporting her, but can she? The young woman perceptions were so tainted by the abuse of her childhood that her sensitivity to the child's cry was magnified hundreds of time more than someone who hadn't experienced abuse. We never really know the whole story. 

Empathy is essential, but how could we possibly ever really understand the pain or experience of another. Communication is key, but we aren't the ones hearing the words. Perceptions is not just experience. Its personality, level of sensitivity, family order, maybe even movies watched or books read...the list could go on. We never really stop long enough to consider all things because we couldn't possibly ever know them all. 

Kinda changes 'dont judge' doesn't it?