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

Friday, November 25, 2016

Advent In A Broken Family

The holidays are upon us and I recognize this heavy weight on my soul...It's grief calling again.  I smile on the outside but the grief over my broken family is a deep ache, down to my core, that doesn't let up.  This is the first holiday that my husband lives apart from us...

Just when I've been sitting well with the suffering these past few weeks, I stumble and fall now. Grief is like that. Things like holidays can trigger loneliness or sadness and the pattern continues with two steps forward, one step back.  The pain ebbs and flows. As the waves wash over, I blink and hang on.  The memories haunt me as I wonder about love.  I mourn the wedding vows. I crumple to my knees by the side of the bed where we held hands every night.

The very honest thing is that it's devastating to have a broken family during a season that once held unity and togetherness.  It hurts, terribly.  Wait, I recognize this pain.  I've been here before, aching over another husband's tragic death, clinging to our baby boy during the holidays. Never would I have dreamed I'd be here again.

This time I'm alone in our family home with 4 more children.  Their Dad still sees them but emotions are strained and our home is empty of him. I know it, they know it. It feels like a punch to the gut as I watch them hurt from the severed bond of sacred familyThis is the exhausting reality of our daily life and magnified now, during a season that should be filled with our family in tact. 

I've learned that it's not a pity party to talk about loss because the acknowledgement of the hurt enables us to work through it, heal, and keep moving.  Otherwise, we get stuck. Right now we need to keep our souls moving towards the light...Namely towards the star of hope.
Lord, help us focus on this family, the Holy Family...This is the real family that our Holey family should cling to.

The hard reality is that separation (or divorce) are different kinds of death. All people in the family are suffering and grieving.  We didn't ask for this and we have no control. Highlighting the death is the fact that it's even more awkward for those who encounter us.  The dear souls who acknowledge the "death" and offer their hearts to us are treasures.  I am grateful for those who check in, knowing the treacherous journey we are on.  Unfortunately, many people avoid us which compounds the sadness. This stirs a calling in my soul to write about it. I encourage others to reach out and not shrink away from the victims of broken families.

It's exactly this that brings me to Advent in a broken family.  No one feels quite as broken if they have hands to hold on to. 
I catch a glimpse of four long faces fixed upon me for guidance...How are we going to do this?

Yes, let's think about how we're going to do this...What I know for sure is that we are not alone.  There are countless people suffering this time of year except now it includes us. A plan comes to my heart...I hope this plan also helps others who might be suffering during this time of year.

In the spirit of keeping things simple, I propose four pledges or goals for our Broken Family Advent.  They represent the 4 weeks that we should consider an opportunity to carry the weight of grief to the manger on the road to Bethlehem.  As the Holy Family surely encountered...The road is not easy.  We know this by now...The best rewards are never easy.  Yet, we will walk it, we'll keep moving, and we'll get there!  We will arrive with hearts ready to peer over the manger, gazing into the face of a baby Savior.

The Broken Road To Bethlehem:
We will read these on the first Sunday of Advent and each week, holding tight to the hands around us. 

Week 1. I vow to reach out to those who might be suffering.  We are the body of Christ and when we give, we receive.  This is the best gift of the season.  Let us look for little ways that we can reach out and pray for others, even if we cannot afford to give with money.  We will keep a list of prayer intentions by our wreath. 
Getting out of ourselves, gets us into the manger.

Week 2. I vow to think of all those "others" when I'm worn out from the toils of the day, the season, alone with the weight of my grief.  In these moments, I will light the candles on our Advent wreath in the honor of all the others who suffer.  The silence of my soul will echo prayer and unite my broken heart with theirs.  Let me remember that light casts out darkness.
Let us close our eyes and remember the Star of Bethlehem... A beacon of hope that beckons.

Week 3.  I vow to be thankful.  Here lies the best glimpse of the season and it begins in the manger.  If I truly love the Christ baby who came to relieve us of this earthly suffering through His birth, death, and resurrection, I will pause each day in thanksgiving.  Let us share the thankful things in our lives each week with one another.
A Savior's birth is the dawn of gratitude...The bridge from death to life.

Week 4.  I vow to hold baby Jesus.  Let us practice holding Him this last week of Advent.  If I look into His eyes, I will see the whole world...He came for everyone.  Let us see ourselves, along with all those we struggle with, in the eyes of this Godly baby.  Let us see that he loves all of us.  May this help us grow in love and reconcile our sorrows.
From the crib to the cross, He shows us how to live and love.

Advent in a broken family will be an arduous walk to Bethlehem but the joy at the destination will be worth it. 
May we all be reminded that the peace of that baby King is the best beginning and the happiest ending.
+Please keep our family in your prayers. If you are all together as a family, please treasure that...I would have never dreamed this would happen to us. If you are experiencing brokenness, please let me know how we can pray for you. Leave your requests in the comments or email me. It would be a great gift to offer up my suffering/our suffering to pray for you+

I vow to remain here.
Family At The Foot of the Cross

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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Turning 50 With The Dream Team

I'm not a perfect person but I am a real one...Fabulous at 50?  Definitely not. I have to be honest and say that I've been dreading turning 50 in the middle of my family tragedy.  It's next week for goodness sakes...Couldn't this come at a different time?  A happy time?  It doesn't seem fair, as I pound my fist on the table!  At this landmark time that others celebrate with joy, I'm filled with sorrow and endings...I'm seriously tempted to believe the lie that life is completely awful when we suffer. 

Suffering is awful, yes it certainly is.  But completely awful...No.  Being real, I have to admit that suffering is beautiful at the same time.  Many lovely people emerge to help, God shows his face, just when we need it most...I may not have seen God's face otherwise. Clinging to what is good in my life, I see light in the darkness.

During Adoration one day, I felt that I saw joy and pain sitting together arguing about who would make the soul better, stronger, wiser.  Suddenly, they realized that they were not opposing forces after all. Instead, they both offered strength and wisdom in different ways that all humans need for their salvation.  It became apparent that we cannot have one without the other.  Joy and pain are synonymous.  Separated from one of these, we are broken. Having both together, we are strong.  Encompassed in this is the Cross that Christ suffered and bore for us.  He loved us so much that he suffered.  There on the Cross we see the ultimate dream team.. joy and pain unite for the good of humanity. Knowing we cannot have one without the other helped me see clearly how I should journey ahead...

Turning 50 with The Dream Team

I am turning 50 with sorrow and grief...
Yet, I turn 50 with gratitude and grace.

I am turning 50 with wounds and scars...
Yet, I turn 50 with growth and wisdom.

I am turning 50 with disappointments and mystery...
Yet, I turn 50 with triumphs and faith.

I am turning 50 with tears that never end...
Yet, I turn 50 with laughter that is stronger.

I am turning 50 with the reality of aging...
Yet, I turn 50 as a child of God.

I am turning 50 with heavy burdens...
Yet, I turn 50 with song in my heart.

I am turning 50 with the down-swing of life...
Yet, I turn 50 with a life well-lived.

I am turning 50 with the end in mind...
Yet, I turn 50 with the hope of life that never ends.

I am turning 50 marking time in my mind...
Yet, I turn 50 with a warrior spirit.

I am turning 50 with trial and trepidation...
Yet, I turn 50 with trust in God's plan.

I am turning 50 being stripped of my dreams...
Yet, I turn 50 with strength in my soul.

I turn 50 with time gone too fast...
Yet, I turn 50 with blessings, too many to count.

I turn 50 with the setting of the sun...
Yet, I turn 50 when the new dawn comes.

I turn 50 with lost love in my life...
Yet, I turn 50 with a lot of love left to give.

I turn 50 with joy and pain...
Yet, I turn 50 sitting with the Dream Team.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Dreaming of Heaven

I love the feast days of the church...The days to really hone in on what anchors us.  These days give us the opportunity to celebrate the real warriors of faith, gone before us to teach us how to survive this life.  Today is one of those days.  Go figure, it comes at a time when I needed it most.  God is good!

Being crushed by the mystery of what has happened to our family, I woke up crying this morning.  I sobbed in bewilderment about why we weren't worth fighting for.  Feeling a deep punch to my gut as I wondered about the ripple effects of decisions beyond my control, I spun with confusion.  Knowing I will never truly understand what has transpired, I questioned how on earth I will do this life now? Momentarily, I felt abandoned and terribly alone.
Photo taken back in March-St. Mary's Our Lady of Fatima

Suddenly, a glimpse of heaven shined through a holy mother...The Mother Christ gave us Himself.  She's our Mother, your Mother, my Mother...She did this life, just like us.  She walked a road of suffering and agony, continuing to say Yes to God from the 1st day He asked her to bear His son, to the last day He took her to heaven.  How glorious that day must have been for her...To finally be at peace forever, with the Holy Trinity. 

This feast day of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a perfect reminder.

I'm dreaming of that. 
I'm dreaming of heaven...

Not in a morbid way but with great excitement for the ultimate goal.  It actually fuels me to keep moving forward, to keep going on this sojourn.  No matter how painful it is, I know I am not alone and there's much splendor and happiness to look forward to.
Dreaming of heaven gives me the strength to keep teaching the faith in our home, even as a single mother.  A prayer life and rhythm of the church year are still alive here. 

I vow to keep the light on.

We are still a family, bound together by love that can never be discarded. Humans can discard humans but you can't ditch God's love. Hope may dim on our dark and sorrowful days but it can always be rekindled.  Days such as this are a beautiful reminder that good things always come with our eyes fixed on heaven. 

What a day to celebrate! 
I huddled with my children around the kitchen sink this morning, before they left for school, and we prayed for our Mother to give us strength like hers.  Like birds taking shelter in a storm, it may have been a desperate plea but prayer just the same.  May she always keep us close to her Son, Jesus Christ...The heavenly host and true love of our lives.
Our Lady's love is like a limpid stream that has its source in the Eternal Fountains, quenches the thirst of all, can never be drained, and ever flows back to its Source.
~Blessed Margaret Bourgeoys~

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Blog Update And Changes

Hello dear readers of this blog~

The events of my marriage and family life have grown more complicated than originally thought, written, and expressed here in the last year.  More has transpired in such a way that I feel it best to honor the privacy of our family by not sharing any more details via this public domain.  However, I do have a plan to keep writing!

For those of you who have been praying for us, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.  I would appreciate any continued prayers for my husband, my sanity, our whole family's healing and God's will be done. Regardless of the outcome, it is my deepest prayer that this tragedy be turned to triumph in some miraculous way.

 This blog has been a haven for sharing my spiritual journey, alongside of raising a family.  I have met so many wonderful friends and families that I hate to leave behind.  I hope my friends here will keep in touch via email and continue to stop by this blog once in a while. Those of you who check in on me once in awhile have been such a blessing!

Ultimately, I feel called to keep writing, as God sees fit,  because it is my belief that we are not alone on this journey of life and faith.  Most importantly in times of trouble, we need each other to be the hands and feet of Jesus...Who better to share (than you and I) that there's always hope, despite the worst struggle?

I'll continue to share my personal sojourn as I strive to stay anchored to the cross, my battle post.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

He Teaches Me

The darkened church embraced me as I sat in silence gazing up at the throne of God. Like a mother's womb, protecting a vulnerable child, I longed to curl up and stay there forever.   Before the dimly lit candles, I gazed up at the Lord of Hosts and wondered how I could keep facing my world of pain, broken promises, betrayal, and rejection.  Much like a little baby who enters the world wailing, I felt the bemoaning in my soul. 

In sorrow, I am weakened to my knees.
The weight of deceit is crushing.
I am not a good sufferer.
I am paralyzed, not knowing how to proceed from here.

Suddenly, a whisper comes from behind...
He shuffles down the aisle, swishing the tile like sandpaper.
His aged body dangles from the weight of his shoulders and nothing moves but his feet.
I glance up to see who has kept me company in silence.
Recognizing this man from daily Mass and Veteran's Day events, I know that he's a soldier. 
His focus is the altar, Christ present, and Christ on the Cross. 
Those eyes...He teaches me.

As he passes by, I wonder what his story is.
Was he a husband and father?
What about his military service?
Who has he fought for?
Was he courageous?
I know he's alone.
How does he do it at his age?

He maintains a natural smile that upholds his unwavering eyes.
Still focused...He teaches me.

Finally making it to the altar,
he begins a slow descent, lowering his broken body to kneel.  He could have just stood up.  It would have been easier. 
He doesn't take the easy way out. 
There's no one around but me and God. 
Eyes still focused, holding that smile...He teaches me.

I watch as this man suffers.
His body winces in pain but he perseveres with kneeling. 
His heart is steadfast in reaching his goal, offering himself completely, there at the foot of the Cross.
Not an ounce of his suffering body is seen in his eyes, still fixed on the Lord of heavenly hosts...He teaches me.

Suddenly, I'm no longer paralyzed,
I'm inspired for the journey ahead.
Together with my soldier-friend, I gaze up at the same Lord and the same Cross that resurrects us all from our suffering.  
This time, there are two of us smiling through pain.
Faith marches on, there in the silent womb of the church.
From the light of an altar in front of us both,
Hearts open wide, eyes of the soul in focus...
He taught us well.

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. 
I don't know who this man is?
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

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