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

Monday, October 1, 2012

A Mom Is Always A Mom

I just returned from Parent's Weekend at my son's college.  I must say, the university did a fabulous job planning many fun activities. For me, however, it was more about the hugs.  
It was all about checking on in and spending time with my son, rather than running around to all of the special events. (Though we did attend a few:) Let's face it, Moms worry about their kids and we never stop wanting the best for them, even when they leave home as adults.  I'd be the first to admit that sometimes I cling too tight...Especially when the distance is incredibly long!  I know in my head heart that Jesus has the wheel on this one but I still need an occasional visual check and tangible reassurance that my child is o.k., all these miles away. (Even if he's almost 19 years old)!  
I just had a few simple questions that I needed answers to.  Is that really too much for a Mom to ask?
1. Is my son really o.k., alive and well?
2. Is my son happy?
3. Is my son healthy?
At first glance, he looked really tired.  I heard about the tough academics and I saw, first hand, the physical effects.  Yet all the answers came out with a yes. Yes, he is alive and well.  Yes, he is healthy (though a bit thin) and YES, he is happy.  Best of all, I saw that he is not just artificially happy on the outside but deeply fulfilled on the inside.  In return, this makes a Mom unequivocally happy, right?  
I must say that I observed that this joy seems to be a common experience at a university that digs deep, beyond the surface of our shallow humanity.
This begins with the campus.....

It's a beautiful campus, don't get me wrong.  But it's not immediately pleasing to the visual expectations that the world might have. Although it does have this strong tower...
I found that exploring this particular university is a process of discovery.  Obviously, one does not come here for the beach or the mountain scenery...there is none of that. 

But there's something else that you find here, something beyond the beach and the mountains.  There's just something about being here that you can't put your finger on...something about peace...
...And there's something about the trees that help deliver it.
As I meandered down the lush green paths, framed by an assortment of branches, I felt protected.
If you really pay attention to the silence in your heart, it might seem that these woods have arms begging to embrace you...At the same time gently nudging you down mysterious walkways, leading you beyond yourself.  I wondered if the students here feel the same way...?
The students call the campus a "bubble" and I found it rightly so.

Maybe it's just me but despite the mystery, I found simple and purposeful beauty everywhere I looked...

At the heart of the campus, I found what I believe is the source of peace, the energy behind it, delivered by the trees of course...
The Lord of heaven and earth is exposed here every day, all day.
How can this place not be a bubble? 
Or a canopy of love?
That's my motherly opinion, anyway.
I'm also not naive enough to believe that it's a perfect fairy tale, here in this place.  Don't get me wrong, I understand that college kids are having all kinds of fun, day in and day out.  Yet a mighty force is still there, I just know it is.  It's boldly watching and waiting, strategically exposed by the trees.
And back to that strong tower...Oh how I've fallen in love with the tower.  Surely I'm one in a million who have done the same thing!

Seen from almost every nook and cranny of the campus, it is the beacon of light that shines over the heart.

It is there for all to see.
"...the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."~1 John 1:5
I'll admit there were moments when I forgot where I was...You could be anywhere, really.  Especially when it poured buckets of rain.
Take your pick...Texas or anywhere...Near a lamp post or lantern waste, maybe?
It doesn't really matter when you have a strong tower.
Some dear friends, whose daughter is now an alum from here, asked me to give the strong tower a hug for them.  I was happy to do as they wished!
Greeted by new friends and smiling faces, an army of angels encamped me!
I got to meet a dear bloggy friend for the 2nd time...This time around was super special as I got to meet her lovely children!  Patty, who blogs at Reasons for Chocolate, met me on campus and whisked me away for an authentic Texan lunch...Stuffed, fried, avocados, with tortilla soup:)  YUM!
Patty is a dear, just like you would imagine, and her children reminded me so much of my own.  They (all of them) truly blessed my whole afternoon!
Looking back on my trip, it's hard to believe that I fretted so much about coming back to Texas.  Traveling alone is what stressed me out.  I had been to campus once before in the secure company of a dear friend.  But I knew this time was meant to be different.  I needed to face things on my own, once and for all.  I have often wondered why the good Lord has brought our family full circle...Back to a large state that holds very traumatic memories, a place where my late, dear, husband was killed.  Texas state prisons hold the robbers who committed this horribly, random, crime.  The whole circle, bringing our son back here for college, is so mind boggling that only God could have designed such a plan...a plan for His peace.
Peace came right along, right here, in spite of my fretting, in spite of myself.  I give full credit to my local prayer warrior friends that I called upon before my departure.  I know, without a doubt, that I was carried on the wings of their prayers.  Truly, not an ounce of fear beheld me, not once! This is a miracle as I'm one who struggles with anxiety and PTSD. It was certainly amazing grace.

This statue of St. Michael stands at the entry to the Church of the Incarnation on campus.  On Saturday, the Feast of the Archangels, I found it fitting to pray in thanksgiving.
(September Magnificat, pg. 386)
"Give thanks to the Lord, all his hosts
his servants who do his will.
Give thanks to the Lord, all his works,
in every place where he rules.
My soul, give thanks to the Lord!"
In my last hours at the university, I strolled around campus while my son did some studying.  Popping into the Adoration Chapel,  I offered my prayers for all those who have prayed for me.  Last but not least, I entrusted my son to the great I Am.  In my foolishness, of course.  After all, it is I who had been the borrower all these years.  Our children are never ours to keep, they are His and we are the entrusted ones.  
Kneeling there, I left them there, all of my prayers.
College boy might just think he's the one that's "free"...but guess what?  So am I.  Not free of being a Mom, of course. (That job is never done) But free of the things that keep me from trust...Trust in the one who trusted me in the first place, the One who entrusts all Mothers (and Fathers) with His children.

One thing's for sure, I'll carry that strong tower in my heart, until we meet again.
I'll carry the mystery and possibilities of a future filled with promise.
I'll carry the little things in life that really matter, the things unseen by the human eye.
The treasures of blessed moments and time well spent.

There among the roses, kneels Our Lady, Queen of Angels, Mother of God.  Peeking through the branches, of the trees that deliver me, I smile.
No words spoken, no words needed.
A statue remains but a mother's heart still beats in us all...
She more than anyone else surely knows that a Mom is always a Mom.


  1. What a beautiful campus and what a beautiful post! So glad you were able to feel like you have come full circle a bit, see your son is happy and doing well, and you got to see Patty again!! Your posts always give me much to ponder and reflect upon. Thank you for that.

    1. Thank you, Jen! I pray we can all have a group get-together one of these days:) God bless!

  2. "It's a beautiful campus, don't get me wrong. But it's not immediately pleasing to the visual expectations that the world might have. "

    This made me laugh! When my family and I first visited UD my senior year, my parents looked at the soggy, empty campus (it was the middle of winter break) and asked skeptically "You sure you want to go here?" while I was beaming saying, "Yes! Isn't it perfect?!"

    I am so sorry we missed seeing you. I pray there will be another opportunity! Maybe we can have your boy out for dinner and try to fatten him up a bit!

    1. I was so sorry to miss you, too, Charlotte! We never made it to the Cistercians so I'll save that until I can go with you:) I hope you are all feeling better soon! Please keep college boy in your prayers. (I think I'm officially changing his bloggy name;)

  3. Tiffany, I pray this university is still going strong 12 years from now when my daughter is ready for college. It's a place I love, after reading this post. What a beautiful place, but also a spiritually-filled place. truly, an awesome place for a mom to know her son is. God bless your heart !

    1. Thanks, Gardenia! I do think we need to pray for all of our Catholic colleges that they maintain their true identity...I'm with ya:)

  4. What a beautiful post sharing the heart of motherhood. And, what a beautiful campus. I love that it's not actually appealing to the wordly eye, but you sent a glimpse of so much more beauty simply in your writing and photos. I wasn't aware that it was such an amazing college.

    Glad to hear that it did your mama's heart well to visit and how wonderful that you could meet up with Patty. I must say, I'm a bit jealous :)

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Sarah! Wouldn't it be great if it were easier for some of us to meet up? I am so thankful for some amazing ladies I've meet here, both in person and not:) Have a blessed day!

  5. Oh your Jen said, they always give me something to ponder. Food for the soul they are! You did a great job capturing the heart and soul of the campus. The full circle you have come to...and it now branches out for your son. He has great plans for your son. God bless you, Tiffany!

    1. Thanks, Patty:) May God bless you, right back!

  6. Tiffany, dear sweet one, you have such a marvelous way with words! I am so happy for you and for your son, as you both grow in love with and in trust of the Lord. I have enjoyed these pictures and these words-what an adventure your parent's weekend was! You are so blessed! Thank you for sharing those blessings with so many!

    1. It's been a blessing to travel this path with you, dear Anne. (Our oldest leaving for college the same year) You and your family continue to be in my prayers!

  7. Oh Tiffany, just as Gary said we cried through the entire Blog. Your words were said so perfectly! Thank you again for hugging The Bell Tower, that just made our day. Jesus is our Tower of Strength!

    Love you,


    1. Love ya right back, my kindred UD friends:)

  8. I love the pictures in this post! Please know of my prayers for all of you and your son as he continues through college.

    God Bless,


    1. Thanks for popping over, John. I am honored to be in the prayers of a seminarian!! God bless you and be assured of our continued prayers for you too:)

  9. I am so so happy that you had such a wonderful visit! I was praying for peace for you as I know you were apprehensive about going to Texas. I am thrilled that you were showered with peace and God's love and had such a good time with your son. What a gorgeous and peaceful campus! I am glad that all went so well and that you were able to visit with a friend too. I can only imagine how difficult it is to not only make this transition gracefully, but, having to deal with returning to TX as well. I too tend to cling a bit, but, they are such wonderful and sweet and lovely little people to cling too :-) You are such an inspiration to so many, Tiffany! Thanks again for the sweet inspiring words!

    1. Thank you so much for your prayers, Ann-Marie...That means the world to me. God bless you always!

  10. What a beautiful and joyful post, Tiffany! I am so happy for you that you had that "time well spent" with your college boy.

  11. I loved reading this post.. Just beautiful! And so happy that you were able to visit and check in on your son - I know I will have to do the exact same thing when my oldest leaves for college. God bless you all!

    1. Thank you for stopping over, Jessica:) Appreciate your kind thoughts! God bless your sweet family too:)

  12. Tiffany,
    I hope my children are blessed enough to attend a college this beautiful! What a beautiful visit to your beloved son! I love that you got to meet a beloved blogger friend, Patty. I admire her blog as well. Thank you for posting the beauty and chronicles of your life. God bless you, your family and son in college.


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