Friday, December 30, 2005

2005 In Review

At the end of every year, I usually write an entry in my journal which touches on the memorable events of that year, and my resolutions for the new year. This year, it shall be no different - and I thought I'd like to share a little bit of my journal entry with the friends I have made on the blogosphere.

This year has been difficult in many ways, and miraculous in other ways. The difficulties we encountered had to do with TP's illness, and DQ's school environment up until April. The amount of emotional energy directed towards both situations was beyond anything I had ever experienced before. The continuous, intense outpouring of maternal nurturing and care-giving was even more exhausting than what I experienced when they were infants. Yet, there were many glimmers of calm and comfort which helped me through each day; and there were several instances of God's healing with His miraculous touch which deepened and sustained my faith.

Now, here I am at the brink of the New Year, and I look back over the past twelve months and think "wow, you made it"! Yes, I did make it - by the grace of God, and with the support of family and friends (including all of you). I am HOPING 2006 will be a little "easier", but only time will tell. In the meantime, I have made some resolutions which should help me as I face the challenges of a New Year.

My first resolution is to ask others for help. Somewhere along the way, I decided I needed to handle everything myself (control issue here?). This year, I found out out I couldn't do it all myself - and I became physically ill holding on to the belief I could. Well, that's not going to happen in 2006.

My second resolution is to put it ALL in the Lord's hands. Period. He'll know what to do with it far better than I ever will.

My third resolution is to improve the quality of my prayer life. I find I spend more time making requests of God than I do just in dialogue with God.

My fourth resolution is to draw closer to my family members.

My fifth resolution is the obligatory "lose weight and get back in shape". And I REALLY do mean it this year!! I'm getting to the age where people begin to develop major health problems if they don't take care of themselves - and I want to do all I can to take care of my physical, emotional, and spiritual health.

I've noticed that a lot of people don't make New Year's resolutions because "I'm just setting myself up for failure because I always break them by the end of January". I am beginning to think that's a cop out - because, in essence, that person isn't taking responsiblity for making some needed changes in his or her life.

There are PLENTY of changes which I need to make - and I plan to get started on them beginning January 1st. In the meantime, I'm going to enjoy my final day of "laziness" by eating some of those delicious chocolate truffles and whatever else strikes my fancy!

To all of you - you have become a wonderful part of my life over the past several months. Thank you for all your prayers, support, comments, and love. I treasure you all, and look forward to sharing 2006 with you. May God bless you with peace and health in the New Year!

Monday, December 26, 2005

Bless Us All

As is our usual custom on Christmas night, we settled down to watch "The Muppets Christmas Carol" - an enchanting version of Dicken's classic tale, starring Michael Caine and The Muppets. One of the songs touched my heart deeply last night, and brought tears to my eyes as I thought of this past year. . .

Life is full of sweet surprises, everyday's a gift
The sun comes up and I can feel it lift my spirit
It fills me up with laughter, it fills me up with song
I look into the eyes of love and know that I belong

Bless us all, who gather here
The loving family I hold dear
No place on earth, compares with Home
and every path will bring me back from where I roam

Bless us all, that as we live
We always comfort and forgive
We have so much that we can share
With those in need we see around us everywhere

Let us always love each other
Lead us toward the Light
Let us hear the Voice of reason
Singing in the night

Let us run from anger
and catch us when we fall
Teach us in our dreams and please, yes, please
Bless us one and all

Bless us all with playful years
With noisy games and joyous tears
We reach for You, and we stand tall
And in our prayers and dreams we ask You bless us all
We reach for You, and we stand tall
And in our prayers and dreams we ask You bless us all

That is my prayer for you in the New Year - that you are blessed with His abundant graces and His love.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Nativity Prayer of St. Augustine

Let the just rejoice,
for their Justifier is born.
Let the sick and infirm rejoice,
for their Saviour is born.
Let the captives rejoice,
for their Redeemer is born.
Let slaves rejoice,
for their Master is born.
Let free men rejoice,
for their Liberator is born.
Let all Christians rejoice,
for Jesus Christ is born.

St. Augustine of Hippo (AD 354-440)

From my house to yours, may each and every one of you have a very Merry Christmas! You have brought so much to me over these past few months ~ each of you have been like a precious gift to me! May God shine His perpetual light upon you, and keep you safe within His graces. Amen.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

All is Well

Just a quick note - the surgery was a success and TP had no complications. Thank you for your prayers and support.

The wait was way too long - over 5 hours from admitting to actual surgery. It didn't help matters that I am still under the weather.

Now, I have presents to wrap, a gingerbread house and cookies to make, grocery shopping to do, and all sorts of other Christmas-y things yet to complete. I do promise to do an entry before Christmas, however, as there are a couple of things on my heart which I need to share.

Monday, December 19, 2005

TP's Surgery is Tomorrow

TP is scheduled for outpatient surgery tomorrow - don't know the time yet - to have her port removed from her chest. It should be a simple outpatient procedure but it does require general anesthesia. I'm anticipating being there the whole day.

My strep throat has blossomed into something else, so I need to get back into the doctor again but that can't happend until Wednesday. I've had a pretty rough time of it the past several days, and haven't been able to get anything done.

TP's car went on the fritz again this morning, which will require another towing plus repair job (how I wish money would grow on trees). I picked her up alongside the road this morning, took her to school (30 miles away), and came home to find out that the BRAND NEW garage door opener isn't working.

I think I'm going back to bed for awhile. But first, I want to ask all of you to please keep TP in your prayers tomorrow. Thanks - you're the best!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


I grew up within a large Catholic family - four brothers and one sister - where tension and strife were common. By the time I arrived on the scene, both of my parents were well into their forties, and I was considered an "oops" baby. Money was always tight, and my dad's drinking habits consumed a lot of it. Mom was a very devout woman, and Dad converted to Catholicism more out of love for her than any burning desire to profess Catholicism as his religion. Despite all of the problems within our family, there was never any question that I was loved by my parents (some of my brothers, however, did their best to let me know I wasn't wanted), but by the time I left for college, I had an unhealthy view of relationships which got in my way of knowing how to form and keep them.

Christmastime at my house was kind of a nightmare. It started with getting the Christmas tree. We'd go and pick one up, either at a tree farm or a tree lot on the corner, and deciding which one was the "perfect" one was kind of a joke because each one of us had a different opinion. It wasn't fun - it always ended up in an argument. Then, when we'd get home, the argument would spill over into getting the tree in the stand - my dad would be yelling at the boys because they wouldn't hold the tree still long enough for him to push the screws in. I would end up in my room because I hated listening to them. Putting the lights on the tree was a horrible chore, because that meant figuring out which lights needed to be replaced. Decorating the tree was fun - providing the boys didn't yell at you for putting an ornament where they wanted to put one. There was no sense of camaraderie - only a sense of begrudging duty. There was little happiness, a lot of anger, and an attitude that people would rather be anywhere but there. I can remember hearing my mom crying late at night, and I am sure all of the animosity hurt her soul beyond repair.

I am writing this so that you can get a sense of why Christmas is such a "big deal" to me. I know, at a certain level, that part of the reason why I decorate my house so lavishly is because I am trying to "make up" for those Christmases past as a child. I know that I tend to go all out for the kids because that didn't happen for me as a kid. I know that I do so much for my family at Christmas time because I want the memories to be happy and loving ones. I want to give my kids traditions to pass on to their kids. I am also trying to help them understand that the REAL reason for Christmas IS Christ's birth. Without His coming into this world, I would never have been able to get beyond the pain and unhappiness of my childhood and get to where I am today - a woman who has forgiven and who has been forgiven, a woman whose broken heart is now whole, a woman who loves and has been loved, and a woman who strives to give everything because she has been given everything.

Christmas is a story of redemption. And I have truly been redeemed by Christ's presence in my life.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Question of the Day

I totally forgot how icky strep throat makes you feel. I can barely swallow, I feel like a truck has run over me so I can barely get up, and I've had a fever. I am hoping the antibiotics kick in soon, as my to-do list just keeps on getting longer.

My question is - why is it that I feel GUILTY about staying in bed when I get sick? I wonder if it's a "mom" thing - that we are programmed to "keep on ticking", even when ill.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Children from the Heart

As a counselor, I hear many stories from people who have struggled with infertility issues. In fact, I tend to get a lot of referrals from infertility specialists who send their patients to me so that I can help these couples through the process of their treatment for infertility.

One of the options which we discuss in these sessions is adoption if the infertility treatments fail. Invariably, one of the fears raised by most of my clients is wondering whether or not they could love a child who is not biologically theirs. In all honesty, it wasn't necessarily a fear of mine so much as it one of these questions I had to ponder just to make sure I would make a good adoptive parent.

What is it like to love a child which you have adopted? I hear stories of pregnancies and labor and births, and I know that I am not able to share those kinds of stories with others. But, I did have my very own form of this process - a unique form of growing a child in my heart rather than in my womb. Like all women, I loved my children even before they were born. I didn't have sonograms, or hear their heartbeats, or have the morning sickness - but I did know that another woman was experiencing those things in order to give birth to OUR child. I didn't have labor pains, but I did have the pain associated with infertility. I couldn't give birth, but I could give love to a child sight unseen. To me, it was like I was CHOSEN to be my kid's mom - that I was predestined to be the one who was given the gift of having these lives entrusted to my care. I have always been very cognizant that another woman suffered a huge loss in her life so that her child could become my child, so that her baby could experience a "better" life with me. How could I not love a child under those circumstances? A baby needed a mom, and I needed a child.

Do my kids look like my husband or me? Not in the least! Did that stop us from loving them? Again, not in the least! How shallow a love would be if we loved only the basis of looks. What is amazing to me, however, is how much the girls act and sound like me. They have so many of my mannerisms, and their voices are so similar to mine to the point where when people call us on the phone they can't tell us apart. Nonetheless, the girls have other mannerisms, certain talents, and unique characteristics which I know didn't come from either my husband or me. And, I absolutely love the differences they possess as much as I love the similarities. The differences make no difference at all, if that makes any sense, because those differences are what makes them special. And, isn't that true for ALL families?

I think I am going to start chronicling a little bit more about adoption issues. It's an incredibly special experience, and it would be my hope that I could dispel some of the myths and/or bad hype it receives, and I would also like to encourage others out there to consider it as a wonderful way to form a family. After all, God has adopted us as HIS children!

Sunday, December 04, 2005

A Precious Gift

At church this morning, I noticed the elderly gentleman behind us as we walked into our pew. He was all alone, yet he didn't appear "lonely", if that makes any sense. When it came time for the congregation to offer each other a sign of peace, his handshake was warm and friendly, and his eyes seemed tender and somewhat misty.

After Communion, as we sat awaiting the final prayers of the Mass, I noticed that my husband was holding onto TP's hand while DQ had her head on my shoulder. We were united in our love for each other and our Lord, and we just felt very close and at peace. I smiled at my girls, knowing that their faith sustained them and had helped them through some difficult times recently. As we stood up for the final blessing, I noticed that the girls were smiling at each other and they briefly held hands.

As were were preparing to leave after the Mass, the gentleman behind us leaned over and touched my girls arms very gently. He had a soft smile on his face as he said, "I just want to let you know that the tenderness you have as a family is very moving to see, and I was very touched by it. It's a wonderful thing to see the love you have for each other, especially between the two sisters. God bless you". I was very moved by his words, and I went to shake his hand, as he continued with saying, "Could you pray for me and my sister? She is in Florida and she's scheduled for a bone marrow transplant. I am on my way today to go down there, and I would like to have a safe trip. I would also like for my sister to return to good health, but she might not make it. . ." His voice trailed off as we assured him of our prayers for his sister's health and his safe travel. I asked him if he was going to be the donor for his sister's transplant, and he indicated that he was. We shook his hand again, and we wished him well so that he would recuperate quickly, too.

I know I had tears in my eyes as I was walking down the aisle to leave church. I was so touched by this gentleman and his words of love to us, and the demonstration of his love for his sister. What struck me the most is that he didn't ask for prayers for his own well being throughout his surgery - rather, he only asked that he be delivered to his destination safely so that he could help out his sister. I thought of what love he and his sister must have for each other - and I couldn't help but think if watching my girls this morning, when they were showing their love to each other and to us, reminded him of when he and his sister were much younger. I wondered if he was remembering Christmases past with her. And I wondered if it even occurred to him what a precious gift he was giving to her this Christmas - and what a precious gift he gave to our family with his kindness and his simple words of love.

May our kind and gentle man have a safe trip. May he be kept safe during his surgery. May his sister benefit from this tremendous donation and gift given by her brother. And may God smile down on them both and bless them abundantly with his graces, and keep them safe in the palm of His hand. Amen.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

A Milestone

A long-awaited milestone happens tomorrow.

TP is scheduled to have her final Solu-Medrol infusion.

It's been over 18 months now since the home health care nurse has come here routinely to examine TP, get blood, do vitals, and access the port in TP's chest so that I can start the IV drip with the medicine which has basically saved TP's life. We have kind of developed a love-hate relationship with this "liquid gold", as you can well imagine.

Initially, TP had the infusion three times a week. A few hours before the infusion, I mixed up the meds in the little vial with sterilized water which came in a separate vial. It was a slow and tedious process at first - making sure that everything was sterilized, learning how to insert a needle with a syringe into a vial and transferring the liquid in one over to the crystallized medicine in the other, then emptying the diluted medicine vial by a needle which was then inserted into an IV bag, which was then hooked up into long tubing and then joined together with the tubing from TP's port. After awhile, I became quite adept at it, and it is still something I can do quite aptly even though the infusions have been decreased to the point to where now they have been administered several weeks apart over the past few months.

I have played a crucial part in the caretaking of my daughter during her illness. At times, it's been very exhausting. But when I look back over the past 18 months and see where she is now compared to where she was then, I consider all the hard work and emotional upheaval to be well worth it. She is thriving and stable, and her faith has deepened tremendously (as has mine).

I won't miss these infusions at all. I will miss the giving TP the extra care which she required during the procedure because I believe it brought us closer. It was an opportunity for me to minister to her in a very special way, and for that, I am grateful.

I am also grateful for the wonderful nurse that TP had from the home health company. She has been such a blessing, in more ways than one. It will be difficult to say "good-bye" to her tomorrow! But, this is the day we have been hoping for, praying for, for a very long time.

What a reason to celebrate! And what a reason to offer up prayers of thanksgiving to the Healer who has brought health back to TP.