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The Coming of Hope and Light

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I have embraced a much-needed slow pace of quietly preparing these first weeks of Advent—the coming of hope and light.

The last 48 hours have been less slow-paced and more like quick steps as we danced the night away at a party to celebrate 18 and my dancing girls counted steps across an outdoor stage to showcase Joy in the World at their Holiday Dance Recital. We are here for it. 

I am/we are searching for light. 

And Joy. 

I have been pondering many things as we wait for the coming of our Savior—Christmas and every day.  

We ARE preparing for the coming of Christmas and our final destination as we journey to Bethlehem.

I have been leaning in and patiently listening to the wisdom in the whispers of the Lord.

I have been looking for the light in the dark days.

“In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

John 1:4

I have been pondering all the ways God has been showing up in my life, not just since my late husband Jon’s death, but in his life and in mine and in our kids’ lives, in the life we built together. If you could see the intricate details in the threads He is weaving through our lives in our sorrow and joy, I am often left speechless until I explode with joy for the love and consolation God delivers in those details. It soothes the longing and ache of missing Jon. 

It makes sense I am turning to the interior and pondering, mourning, wondering, processing, reconciling, releasing, embracing, and lingering over many things. It’s our season, with so many things coming—birthdays, Christmas and our anniversary—all these firsts without him by my side, this side of Heaven.

It has been a difficult—grief and widow life—few weeks with emotions flying high, energy running low while being flexible, not resistant in this ever-changing season of unknowns, things out of our control, and the deep chasm of loss.

I am learning to hold less tight and let God hold me more. 

Riding the waves of intense pain and longing.

Asking for clarity.

Searching for joy amidst the sorrow.

Embracing the moment.

Expecting little, accepting what has been provided.

Receiving supernatural peace.

“My soul rejoices in God.”

Is 61;10

It brings me closer to Him as He presses His Sacred Heart against mine until ours beat in unison. 

Last Sunday, our priest asked the church to take a moment to consider: “What does it mean for your family and you to believe in God?”

The priest proposed: “It’s breathing like you are not aware you are breathing.”

That is what it feels like for me. I can only hope and pray this is what Jon and I modeled for our children in their walk with faith and believing in God.

We know God is there—we believe, see, and know how He keeps showing up. He is the breath of Heaven.

One heart beats in unison until the rhythm shifts thanks to our sinful, selfish ways and not trusting in Him. We are messy, grieving, imperfect humans…we need mercy and grace to transform us.

In the middle of chaos and grief, I lost my cool last week long before I heard the question posed at mass. “We” were not moving as promptly as I wanted to accomplish a task and visit a sacred space before the clouds rolled in and the drops fell from the sky. 

Tears were the only thing that fell that day.

“The Lord is gracious and merciful; slow to anger, and of great kindness.”

Psalm 145

I wish I was a bit slower to anger that day. Why must we resist?

It makes sense I’d become frustrated as I juggle many things—life, grief, parenting, confusion, domestic duties, and my domestic church—alone without my partner who built this life with me. We get tangled in grief like Christmas lights in a bin. It’s a lonely walk.

There is only so much if anything, I can control. I am learning to be interruptible for God.

Things would, could, and should spiral for a moment. 

Until…

They didn’t because I was reminded of words I heard the day before: “Cooperate with grace and allow God’s light to transform us.” 

I heard God call me to be still and know. I laughed and said under my breath, “I guess you are going to show me where you (God) are in this moment as I watch the sky grow dark and make our way to the destination in the heated moment.

And a light did transform the moment and my perspective.

I am glad He made me attentive to His ways.

After our short visit to the holy ground and a quick visit to our favorite little shop, I was stopped in my tracks as the sunset exploded brilliantly across a sky that only a short time before was gloomy with dark clouds.

So I ponder, “What does it mean for my family and me to believe in God?”

What does it mean for my family and me to believe in God?

It means we must cooperate with grace and allow God’s light to transform us.

It means a magnificent sunset sent straight from the Holy Spirit to the foot of the cross on a cloudy day.

It means a generous gift from a stranger in the form of a Blue Heron that makes a way to ease the pain.

It means a surprise from Austria to the States, with a pit stop to bring comfort, joy, and hope to someone I love.

It means a conversation during a retreat on divinization (haha, a big word that means holiness and sanctification, to become more like Jesus) and learning to see God’s image staring back at me in the wrinkles on my tired face where I see half of me.

“O Lord, show us thy face, and we shall be saved.” 

It means a yes and full surrender from me to invite God in because I cannot do this alone — He gives us grace and always makes a way.

It means saying yes to a celebration (even if it feels hard) for an 18th birthday for a young lady whose heart could use a love note and some cake to know she is not forgotten and loved beyond measure. (see picture below)

It means a profound revelation from the Holy Spirit that the birth of that 18-year-old birthed something monumental and life-changing in me. God keeps revealing many intricate details for the story written in a book He is weaving in me. 

It means the gentle guiding presence of Our Blessed Mother, also a widow, and her mantle of protection as I navigate mothering and raising children through sorrow and joy now as a widow, too. Though challenging, her example and Fiat bring me hope and peace.

It means discovering that it’s a gift to become interruptible, flexible, and malleable for God and allowing Him to meet us where we are so we can be an instrument of peace and disciple of truth for Him.

It means learning to ease my white-knuckled grip and only grasp for His loving, gentle hand. 

It means becoming docile to the living and effective word of God and learning to recognize and respond to the promptings of the Holy Spirit with the truths he lays on our hearts.

It means showing up for God and being open to receiving the grace, mercy, and love He offers as we build the intimate and personal relationship He deeply desires with us—a relationship that can best be described in similar language to the depth of love with a spouse.

It means walking through the fire of loss while we are baptized with the cleansing waters (tears) that come and go in waves of grief. 

It means contemplative, meditative, ongoing prayer and dialogue, a never-ending conversation with God.

It means observing the holy days, attending church, living the Sacraments, and instituting a liturgical life.

It means trust, surrender, dying to self, and clinging to the cross.

It means saying yes to His invitation and accepting even when we don’t know or understand His plan. Sometimes, it’s a mystery; often, in His time, He reveals the magnificence and generosity we can hardly hold in our hearts, let alone our hands.

Heaven waits for us. That beatific vision will be beyond our comprehension. 

What does it mean for my family and me to believe in God?

It means being attentive to the details and staying present to the sunrises, sunsets, and everything between each day.

It means walking in faith, holding on to hope, and loving a God who shows up in the magnificent details from beginning to end.

May we cooperate with grace and allow God’s light to transform us within.

May we wait for His coming with hope.

Happy Birthday my sweet, determined, attentive, creative, artistic, humorous brown-eyed girl. May you always know who you are and whose you are. May you always know you are loved.

I am grateful all of my birds are in the nest for the Christmas season. Please pray for our hearts as we encounter, embrace, navigate these special daysbirthdays, The Coming of Christ, an anniversary and a New Year without our beloved husband and father.

“It is your light, Lord, whose brightness can illuminate even the darkest night. It is the light of many courageous men and women who, because of their meeting with you, have decided to consume themselves announcing your reign and your salvation to every creature. It is the light of new families in which life is welcomed, protected, desired, and loved. It is that light that many of us have found again and rediscovered after many years of darkness, sadness, loneliness, and death in-side. It is your light, Lord, the light of that little child born in Bethlehem, who broke open the story of humanity and who still today desires to cross our paths, too often full of darkness, to dye them with the color of hope. Thank you, Lord, because our darkness does not frighten you. Thank you, because you came with your light to meet those of us who have walked in the darkness for a long time.” Mother Elvira Petrozzi, December Magnificat, December 17,

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