Listen to God's voice at the foot of the crucifix." ~St. Gaspar del Bufaro~

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Groping for God

Hello God, it's me, Tiffany.
Where are you?
My family has fallen apart and I don't understand.
One day I was a homeschooling Mom who made liturgical food and crafts with my kids and the next day, my whole world crashed down around me. 
I thought I had it all. 
Where has that life gone? 
Oh, how I'd give anything to have it back.
Things haven't been the same since that fateful day...
Our family, our children, our marriage...
Crumpled under the cross.

Holy week came this year and my husband was getting his own apartment. 
No more Husband, no more Dad in our home.
I saw you carrying your Cross, Lord.  
Every Friday, I watched and listened to your suffering.
I wanted to be just like you but I couldn't.
I just knelt there and poured out my grief upon you because I was too weak to bear it...
Consumed by the cross.

Somehow I got through it...Another Holy Week. 
You were there, Lord.  I know you were. 
Suddenly I see that clearly because
that's where you love us best...on Calvary.
Our Calvary is your Calvary.
Time and time again, you meet us there to show us we can do it.
What holy irony it is that we are closest to you there.
My pain and sorrow is also your pain and sorrow.
You show us that suffering is not the end.
I choose hope.  I choose you, Lord.
Help me to model this for our children...
Huddled near the cross.
Please forgive me for wondering what this is all about
and for missing the old life. 
Like it or not, I'm traveling a new road.
No more homeschooling but still a home built on faith.
Help me to keep you alive in our family, Lord.
Help me to remember that when we are weak, you are made perfect in us.
When we are empty, you have more room to fill us up.
Always and forever...
Family At the Foot of the Cross.

"What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." ~John 1:1-18

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

I'm Turning My Husband Over To Another Woman

The torment has been unbelievable,
the anger unbearable,
as I have attempted to navigate the road of hurt that has occurred in my marriage.
I dropped the cross and began to wrestle with it.
I lost sight of grace and began taking matters into my own hands...until a hurricane of fury landed smack dab in the middle of my kitchen a few days ago.
I just couldn't take it anymore. 
I had allowed the suffering to consume me and I bought into the possibility that I could bring about justice by battling my husband, who had become the enemy. (So I thought)
After all, he owed me some kind of justice after robbing me of my dignity through years of lustfully desiring other women, right? 
I deserved truth after the many lies he had told me, right?
He should pay a steep price for all of the damage he has caused to our marriage and family, right?
Wrong, just wrong.
Wrong by the way I was going about all of this.  I began to permit the damage to start sucking me under by demanding justice, failing to recognize that justice is God's job, not mine.
Not wrong that the wounds are real and should be dealt with but wrong because I have allowed these hurts to disguise themselves under the cloak of pride.  I had allowed me to start consuming me
A faint memory came flooding back as I remember wanting my late husband's murderers dead.  I felt like that would be the answer to all of my misery.  If they were dead, then justice would be served.  Wrong.  I was forced to remind myself that once again, this was not about me.

PrIde...Satan's number one favorite sin.
PrIde...Being consumed with me, myself, and I, had slowly  crept into my soul in another tragedy.  Like a burning ember, prIde began as a small spark and spread like a rapid wildfire before I knew it. 
The lies that the prince of darkness whispers in our ears had penetrated my husband's heart and now I was buying in too.
As my screams echoed in the kitchen that day, it was a miracle that I could still hear a small, soft, voice cry out inside of me...What are you doing? Who is it that you are battling here?
It was a good question that begged emergency attention and prayer.
Who was it that I was really battling?
How could I have missed the real enemy? 
Maybe because he doesn't actually have horns or wear a little red suit...
Maybe because he disguises himself as a helpful voice to fill ourselves with more of ourselves...
Yes. It was he, the epitome of prIde, vice, and death that continued to relentlessly seek our marriage, just like he does with many others. 
Now, more than ever, it wasn't time to throw in the towel...It was time to call for backup.
It was time to turn my husband over to another woman.
Who better to oppose the real enemy in our marriage but the woman who is at enmity with the devil (Gen. 3:15) by bearing the Savior, Jesus Christ, God Himself, in her womb? 

She crushes the serpent through Christ's birth and by opposing the devil with her humility, virtue, and life.   What better woman to call on than the Mother of God, Mary, most holy.
It became clear that I needed to battle the true enemy with my prayers and not with my pride.  This mess is way too much for me to even consider trying to figure out or control.  I desperately needed help.
This woman...She's got this.
She's our mother. 
At the foot of the Cross, Christ entrusted Mary to all of us. (John 19:27)
Her soul magnifies the Lord. (Luke 1:46)

I place my husband into Mary's arms with perfect confidence.

I pray...
Every day, I must pray for my husband:

That he sees Mary's beauty as the perfect model for womanhood and not desire to view false images that come up empty.
That he feels the warm embrace of a woman who carried God in her arms and never feel lonely again.
That he may know the mercy of the woman who suffered her Son's murder and followed him to the cross, hence know freedom from shame.
That he accept this woman as his queen and sureness to heaven and be home.
That he breathe in her Immaculate heart full of love that gives freely and return real love to others.
That he never look away from her gorgeous gaze that reflects purity and grace and see what a real woman should be.
And most importantly...I pray that he chase after her to know her Son, Jesus, more perfectly.  Jesus, who came to give us life and hope that is beyond the Cross.
She knows that He knows.
She leads us to Him, the way, the truth, the life.

I'm turning my husband over to another woman because in doing this I am also turning over myself.
I'm done fighting the wrong enemy and strengthening my resolve to battle the real one.
We have help in this battle and we are never alone.
Regardless of what happens in my marriage or in this life, I want to be on the right team...lest I forget who wins!
+++If you can spare a prayer, please continue to keep Rod and I (and our family) in your prayers+++

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

A Journey Least Expected...Pornography's Path of Destruction

Well, first let me tell you, this isn't a title that I'd ever imagine to be blogging about here in this little space that shared the joys of home education and frolicking feast days! 

Aside from being one of the most difficult things to sit down and share, I am also struggling through the pain and sorrow of betrayal's aftermath. Never would I have dreamed that this would have happened in my marriage.  Yet that's what life's about, isn't it?...You end up in places you least expect.  For whatever reason, God put me here to share another struggle, the next cross to bear in life...right here, right now, I share the heartbreaking path of destruction that pornography creates and the havoc it wreaks on marriage and family. 

It wasn't that many months ago that I thought I had a blessed and beautiful marriage.  No, we weren't perfect but yes, blessed, nonetheless.  Even now, I know somewhere deep inside that our marriage is still blessed because it's the Sacrament that God gave us to guide us to heaven and give us grace until we get there. (We hope!) I am learning now, more than ever, that this Sacrament binds us together with supernatural glue, heals us, and helps us act in ways (mercy and forgiveness) that would otherwise be impossible under normal human circumstances.

In my last post Gimping by Grace Through the Gauntlet, I shared about the struggles of betrayal that have occurred in our marriage.  My husband was My Joseph so this has been a deep and painful blow for me.  To be honest, I'm grieving the husband and family that I thought I had. At the same time, I realize that all is not lost but it sure feels like it when a bomb like this goes off in your life...

Before I go any further, I'd like to thank any readers, from the bottom of my heart, for any and all prayers that were lifted up on our behalf...Believe me, they have helped!

All of this started after the devastating discovery that my husband was pursuing and desiring another woman outside of our marriage.  This emotional affair was exposed upon his return from Ukraine back in December.  Not knowing what else to do, I immediately began praying the Novena to Our Lady Undoer of Knots.  In the middle of these prayers, the knots came flying loose at a miraculous and record-breaking pace. No joke! Lies upon lies were exposed, or should I say "truth" was revealed faster than a speeding bullet.  At the same time, the darkness nearly pulled my husband away from our family as it had such a tight grip on his soul.  His addiction to fantasy, lust, and sex, was leading him to self-destruction, tempting him to leave his precious, God-given family, for a secret life. 

By the grace of God and many, many, prayers from dear friends and family, my husband's long, 35-year, addiction to pornography came out.  It was a very deeply rooted secret, woven into a web of other issues.  It's not surprising that he was able to maintain these things for so long, due to the nature of his job and being gone from home on a regular basis.  After a 2 month separation, it was a miracle that he was willing to get help.  With the powerful unraveling of this tight knot, he now has a chance at recovery...God is good.  {Even being willing to have me share this story is a huge and courageous step on his part.  For this, I am grateful.}

I can't begin to tell you, unless you've experienced this yourself, how traumatizing it is to know that your spouse has been with thousands of other women in his thoughts, dreams, and actions.  Looking back there were "signs" that I often ignored because I never had proof.  If you are wondering what those signs might be, you can look to many resources about the behavioral warning signs of a sex addict.  (10 Signs of Porn Addiction)

With our personal experience, we have learned that pornography in the form of a sexual addiction, is often a symptom of other problems so it's critical to get professional help.  I can't emphasize this enough...We receive counseling, spiritual direction, as well as my husband being in a 12-step program.

Through it all, the one thing I have never stopped believing is that my husband is a good man and a wonderful father. 
This is exactly the point of pornography...
...It does not discriminate.
...It's the latest drug.  Even good men take the hit. 
Many, many, good men (and women) are drinking the poison.
...It's an easy pleasure, easy escape.
...It's too easy (via internet images and videos) and free!
...It's leading to addiction, due to the real changes it makes to the brain.
...It's wreaking havoc on marriages.
...It's not giving new marriages a fighting chance.
...It's destroying families.
...It's gripping our young people who have easier access than ever before.
...It's the dirty little secret that Satan wants people to stay quiet about.
I refuse.
I refuse to stay quiet about something that is plaguing our families, our friends, our churches, our society, like a cancer.
 I don't know what my future holds but I refuse to be silent.
My husband is fighting for his life.
I'm in the fight now.
Hear my battle cry.
The Porn Pandemic is a battle that needs many voices.
I hope you will hear the cry and speak to the ones you love.  Please learn about the devastating effects of pornography to the brain...
It is a drug. 
There are a few good internet filters and accountability programs and apps.  We use Covenant Eyes.  They also have a fantastic blog and a FB page with many awesome resources! (Even articles about talking to kids about pornography)
Other great info:
The Porn Effect
Fight the New Drug
Your Brain On Porn
Matt Fradd
The Victory App

Let's do this.
Let's love the things that Jesus loved...
and hate the things that Jesus hated enough to die for. 
Only He offers true freedom from the chains that bind us. 
The good news is that there is always help and hope, if we so choose.
We are never alone.

Lord have mercy...I beg for continued prayers at the foot of the cross.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Gimping By Grace Through the Gauntlet

St. Mary's Parish Shrine~ One of my favorite places on earth.
  Greetings of Easter peace to anyone who might pass this way!
It's been a long and arduous Lenten trek over in my corner of the world so I thought I'd share some reflections.  I also want to thank any of you kind souls who have been praying for my marriage and family.  We have felt the impact and know they have helped in far more ways than we can imagine!
As I move forward from here in the season of Easter, I truly believe that we are not meant to keep hardships to ourselves.  As I read and think about the apostles after the shock and awe of Calvary, I see that they first wanted to hide.  It reminds me that we can all relate to this as we inevitably go through our own difficult things in life.  Sometimes we feel like curling up in a ball, hoping all of our sorrow will go away... but it never works like that.  God calls us to come out.  Just like Christ drew out his disciples from their darkness to tell people what happened, He also calls us to share how He works in our own lives and give reason for hope.  I would like to do that...Share hope.  I hope in doing so, it might help someone else find light in their struggle and know we are never alone.
 The Pacific Ocean~ My favorite places to find peace
Before arriving at "hope", it seems we have to think about what choices we have to live out our free will in difficult circumstances.  Suddenly, we find there aren't a whole lot of choices in times of crisis.
I recently read this anonymous quote: "When something bad happens you have 3 choices:
One, you can let it define you.
Two, you can let it destroy you.
Three, you can let it strengthen you."
Ultimately as Christians, we know that we are called to pick up our crosses and follow Him.  For in this real person of Jesus, we find exactly what we need to make that third choice of allowing our trials to strengthen us. 
The only problem is actually doing it!
Not an easy thing, I know.
When we are actually call to live what we believe, we look at that bloody face on the Cross with a new lens...
This Holy Week, I found myself in this very position.  There I was, gimping by His grace...
That free gift
of Himself
was all I had to hold on to...
Sacrificial love saves us from ourselves,
it saves us from destruction,
giving strength through the pain,
flowing freely from His wounds.
Our Parish Altar~ The comfort of home
There He was, there He is, being the example for all to see, believers or not. 
He was not a victim but a hero.
Which one will we be?
He lives the Resurrection so that we might believe, we might hope, we might have light outside ourselves, we might (someday) be with Him forever.
And then comes the inevitable question... 
How can we possibly follow this example of absolute love and forgiveness when betrayal and other human sufferings hurt so much?
It seems all fine and dandy for Jesus because He was God, the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, and God is supposed to do that. 
The real question, is what does this look like in real life for real humans? 
Easter Vigil at St. Mary's~ Hope is alive
I've had plenty of time to ponder these real questions (and more) as they have wracked my brain and heart these last 5 months...
When my world came crashing down.
 Never would I have believed this would happen to us.
How does one actually survive betrayal in a marriage, anyway?
How should I respond to my spouse who has been dishonest?
What on earth am I supposed to do when my spouse isn't sure he wants to stay in our marriage after 16 years and 5 children?
How can I gimp through the gauntlet?
The honest answer is that there is no easy answer.
The answer is hard but it's worth seeking.
It's not about me but it's about the surrender of me.
When there are very few choices, the real path to survival is an honest face plant at the foot of the Cross, literally and figuratively.
The will of God is the only answer. 
When we do this in real life, let Jesus take the helm, real God happens.  
Submersing myself in the word of God every day, gave me  exact answers I needed for that very moment. 
Gimping by grace began,
Gimping through the gauntlet continues...
My lifelines and favorite prayer resources
My favorite resources, coupled with the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist gave me strength, along with the prayers and a lifeline of beautiful friends and family who truly kept me (and my family) afloat. 
In real life, the body of Christ embraced me in their loving arms.
In real life, the crosshairs of mercy stared back at me...
Miracles happened.
Mercy does that...It leads to miracles.
The Blessed Sacrament~ Heaven on Earth
As I write this, our marriage is being reconciled.  I do believe it's a miracle and I'm rejoicing in the midst of our gimping, even though I'm terrible at gimping.
  It's not easy to gimp, even by His grace.
 Prayers are still needed because I'm having a hard time.
I know my husband is having a hard time, too.
It's tremendously painful for both of us to pick up the pieces and move in a new direction.
Real life isn't so easy but there is plenty of hope to hold on to, this I know.
In the meantime, I've learned a few good things to share:)
Me learning a new sport~ A new passion!
It's good to stare at mercy through the crosshairs...It's a mirror to your soul. 
It's good to take a hard look at what you believe in because then you have to live what you really believe. "Sweet" Divine Mercy had new meaning this year:)
Krispy Treat~ 2015Our Divine Mercy Rice
It's good to have family and friends who've got your back when you're down.  They are the real hands of God, whether they know it or not.  We should never hesitate to reach out.
It's good to give to others in the midst of your own pain so that you discover it's balm for your wounds.
American Heritage Girls
Holy Week Service Project
Food Bags for the Homeless
It's good to turn to the great Mother of God who knows our suffering and is the best company at the foot of the Cross.  She is the sun that shines for her Son.
St. Mary's Parish Fatima Shrine~ Early morning sunrise
It's good to give thanks for the beauty in the natural world that is heightened in time of trial to remind us that we are part of something bigger than ourselves.
The beautiful tree on my parent's deck!
It's good to have faith that God has it all under control because His grace is what keeps us gimping up, up, up, the mountain, instead of giving up. 
Arduous hike at Pinnacles National Park~Perfect kick-off to Holy Week! (Photo Credit to my friend, Kim)
Through all of this, I also pray that you might receive the grace you need to gimp through your own gauntlet, knowing that God's plan is always better than our own!  
Through my gimping, I trust that He knows what He's doing. 
Thank you for continued love and prayers.
 Family Photo~Easter Vigil~2015
 {Broken but not destroyed}
"Let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith.  For the sake of the joy that lay before him he endured the cross, despising its shame, and has taken his seat at the right of the throne of God.  Consider how he endured such opposition from sinners, in order that you may not grow weary and lose heart.  In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of losing blood." ~Hebrews 12:1b-4

Friday, February 13, 2015

Lenten Meditation~ 2015

My friend Julia recently sent me this meditation. It fit me perfectly and I will be reflecting upon it quite often this Lent...It's so good that I had to share!  I pray it might be just what you need as well:)
In His Hands
We must offer ourselves to God like a clean, smooth canvas and not to worry ourselves about what God may choose to paint on it, for we have perfect trust in him, have abandoned ourselves to him, and are so busy doing our duty that we forget ourselves and all our needs.  The more closely we devote ourselves to our little task, which is so simple, so secret and so hidden and apparently so paltry, the more does God enrich and adorn it: "God works wonders for those he loves." (Psalm 4:3)
It is true that a canvas simply and blindly offered to the brush feels at each moment only the stroke of the brush.  It is the same with a lump of stone.  Each blow from the hammering of the sculptor's chisel makes it feel--if it could-- as if it were being destroyed.  After blow after blow descends, the stone knows nothing of how the sculptor is shaping it.  All it feels is a chisel chopping away at it, cutting it and mutilating it.  For example, let's take a piece of stone destined to be carved into a crucifix or statue.  We might ask it: "What do you think is happening to you?" And it might answer: "Don't ask me.  All I know is that I must stay immovable in the hands of the sculptor, and I must love him and endure all he inflicts on me to produce the figure he has in mind.  He knows how to do it.  As for me, I have no idea what he is doing, nor do I know what he will make of me.  But what I do know is that his work is the best possible.  It is perfect.  I welcome each blow of his chisel as the best thing that could happen to me, although, if I'm to be truthful, I feel that every one of these blows is ruining me, destroying me and disfiguring me.  But I remain unconcerned.  I concentrate on the present moment, think only of my duty, and suffer all that this master sculptor inflicts on me without knowing his purpose or fretting about it."
~Father Jean-Pierre De Caussade, S.J.
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