Ancestry

It seems like every fall I get the Ancestry bug. Inevitably a free trial offer or message containing new information draws me in and I get completely hooked before the reality and busyness of life kicks me in the rear and I snap out of it. I absolutely love the hunt, the find, and the puzzle of learning about my ancestors. Thinking about the people who have come before me, who have paved the way to my being here in this time and place, strikes my heart with awe and wonder. It affords me a perfect opportunity to step back and marvel at how God‘s design gives us the freedom to live, work, be, and do, and yet His plans and His designs are still carried out. And here I am, no accident of circumstance, but planned by my Creator. He made a space for me in the great big whole of His design and I have a very unique and specific purpose here, as we all do! In 100 years, I will be little more than a square on the giant family tree. Perhaps if you click my profile you will be able to piece together some of the details, but it won’t be until we are in heaven that we will see clearly and understand the fullness of the role each of us has played in history. I think that’s what drives me so much, knowing these relatives were so much more than I can learn from the records we have. And it’s not lost on me that I always seem to find myself immersed in genealogy research in the month of November, a time when we remember the saints already in heaven and pray for the holy souls in purgatory. And of course I do exactly that for the time I spend with each ancestor, and somehow I come away feeling a little more connected.

Last week, I spent some time researching my second great aunt and uncle, Philip and Olive. They had nine children and I immediately wanted to know more about them for obvious reasons. (I have 10!) I soon discovered how much we really did have in common as stories of all that they suffered were revealed. They lost their eighth child at almost one year old. Their seventh child died of breast cancer at age 45. Olive buried her husband just shy of their 50th wedding anniversary. A few years later she lost her 25-year-old grandson in a car accident. In her 90th year, she buried her fourth child in May and her fifth child in October. I can’t begin to imagine the joys and heartaches she endured in her 96 years here, but I know she must have been one tough lady. It’s daunting to think of all that she suffered knowing the suffering that is unseen was far greater than what is now seen in these records. My heart hurt for her as I tried to empathize, sympathize, and pray about all I was discovering. At one point, I wondered to myself how one woman could endure all that. Did she have faith in God Almighty and hope in heaven? How did she cope with losing children and a grandson without her husband by her side?

My thoughts turned to the more recent tragedy of the limo crash here in New York State that killed 20 people, most of them related or friends. Four sisters and their spouses or boyfriends died in that horrific accident. What about the parents of those sisters? How do they go on in the face of losing their children – all of them? When I originally heard the news of the story it rocked me to my core! In the midst of all my prayers for them, I had some moments of begging God to show me how they could go on and find Joy. He reminded me gently of how this goes; the same as is true for me, for those parents, for Olive and Philip. Truth with a capital T! Truth is how and the Truth has a face and a name – Jesus: the Way, the Truth, and the Life. When we are stripped of everything is when we learn that the author, creator, and source of all remains, and we live because of Him! He is the true home we long for, even as we make our way here in this time and place we were made for, with all its joys and sufferings.

When I was a child, the thought of losing my parents scared me and I felt that if anything happened to them surely I would die. When I grew up a bit and got married, the thought of losing my husband terrified me. If he died, surely I would too. When we had children, the thought of losing any of them was enough to make me break out in a cold sweat. Certainly there is no way I could go on without them I thought. But when the very worst happened and Mikey died, I didn’t die. In fact, the surprising truth is that I discovered instead who I live for. When Anna died, this truth was reinforced more. I didn’t die at all (though some days the grief and pain were pretty unbearable), but I learned why I have Hope always.

Even now, the thought of losing another child terrifies me. I don’t know how I would survive it, but I know that I would. With Jesus. Were I to bury them all, the Truth would remain, and in light of that Truth, the affliction is momentary and light. It’s like when you are unexpectedly plunged into darkness. Perhaps someone came along and turned off all the lights without realizing you were in the room. You don’t just stay quiet and accept the darkness, right? Usually the reaction is to wait in expectation of the light. Maybe you call out and then you hope and trust that the light will return because you know it can and will. You wait and strain to find just a flicker or maybe you fumble through the darkness seeking the light on your own. You know you will find it and eventually there will be light, and hope lives.

What a great Joy, in the midst of my tragedies, my momentary darkness, to come to know the Light and Truth of Jesus. I know with certainty that He will carry me through every joy and every tragedy and every moment in between, straight into eternity. He alone is the Hope in any darkness.
I stand now firmly in that Truth, by the power of Christ and His cross, in the light of His glory and resurrection. There is nothing whatsoever to fear.

“ For this momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to what is seen but to what is unseen; for what is seen is transitory, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Cor 4:17-18

 

 

 

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Sunrise

The other morning I was Awakened from a sound sleep presumably to see a magnificent sunrise over the ocean. It’s happened to me before, that against all odds of naturally waking up, something has awakened me for a purpose. It happened almost one year ago while taking a mini honeymoon with my husband of 18 years in St. Thomas Virgin Islands.  Morning after morning I could not sleep past the early morning darkness and so got up to watch and pray. Those hours were glorious!  God speaks to us in so many ways and He was surely speaking to me there and then.  I felt compelled to soak in His power and majesty and most importantly, His Love. He was sending it to me in abundance in a physical way and in those few days I wondered what more I could ever want out of life – it was just too good and too beautiful.  In fact what more could any person ever need than to know deeply and truly the depth of God’s love for each of us?  He let me know somehow that it might not always seem so but He would always be with me.  Specifically I heard Him speak to my heart that He was giving me a giant hug now because I would surely need it later.
And as life does, it has thrown some curveballs our way over the last year. You may remember the adoption journey we embarked on – I blogged about it in a virtual scavenger hunt starting here. We welcomed little Sergei into our hearts and knew it would be a difficult road to bring him home but I knew God was holding us close. He had told me as much and I trusted he would give us all we needed for that journey – no matter what road lay ahead. Then we found out we were expecting another little Pullano that I told you about here and it seemed to be even more clear that I would be needing Him. Then Russia banned all U.S. adoptions which has meant coming to terms with the loss of Sergei as well as the questions and doubts about God’s will for us in these situations.  And most recently we were tragically and unexpectedly  blindsided by the accident that took the life of our oldest daughter Anna.  In light of all this, I would like to say with certainty that I now know exactly what God was preparing me for but the truth is that I have no idea. I’m so thankful for His love and presence but I can’t pretend to know exactly what’s in store. I just know that He knows and trust that He’s by my side through every grievous moment of suffering.
In any case, this day was another awakening, and believe me I wanted to sleep!  The message was not at all what I expected though. I had my camera ready to capture the glory of the sun rising on the horizon of the ocean. I waited in eager anticipation, with peace in my soul, knowing confirmation of Gods power and majesty was only moments away. What I thought I needed was another giant God-hug. I waited and started to see glimpses of pink as the sky continued to get lighter and lighter. I wondered when that magnificent orb would finally make its appearance, never questioning that it would. Finally it seemed like it was already daylight. Did I miss it? I was tempted to google the time of the sunrise to double-check but I kept hearing God say, “Wait. Be ready. Don’t get distracted. Just when you look away you’ ll miss it.”  The parable of the ten virgins was running through my mind. Five of the virgins needed more oil in their lamps and just as they left the bridegroom came.  Where is the sun Lord? I can’t see it at all!  I had visions of a beautiful Easter photo captioned “The Son has risen Alleluia!”  The sky was light and it seemed past time. But I waited. I was cold and needed more tea and wanted to find a signal so I could check and see if I did indeed miss it.  But I waited. I kept watch and I prayed and enjoyed the peace of the moment and the peace infiltrating my soul. It was a peace that came from knowing, from TRUSTING that the sun was rising above the horizon even if I couldn’t see it through the clouds. It wasn’t what I expected. Really, you woke me for this God? This sunrise is a total dud. But it wasn’t of course. He was speaking a different message to me than the first time and letting me know that I didn’t need to actually see the sun rising to know that it had. “Thomas you believe because you have seen but blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe”. (Jn. 20:29) Patience. Stay awake. Stay alert. Don’t let life distract you from the truth of Life.

God reinforced several truths with this unexpected moment. The light, the TRUTH always dispels the darkness, even if it seeps in under cover of clouds.  It is there, working, being true and requires nothing of us except to accept it.  Even without the magnificence of the sun reflecting off the ocean waters and making its great ascent visibly, we find ourselves immersed in the light.  God was telling me precisely, “Truth is coming”.

It wasn’t what I expected and hoped for, that blaze of Glory, but the truth was profound and wonderful just the same.

He was saying, “I am Coming. I am here.”  Just as certainly as the sun has risen every morning it will rise again.  It can be trusted and relied on.  Steady. Unchanging. Like the Kingdom that awaits.

What a balm to this aching soul.  The promise is true and always kept.  God is with us no matter the trial just as surely as the sun will turn night into day.  And just as surely as He is here now, He will come again.

Why would we ever look away?  Be ready. Be vigilant. Watch and Pray.

Loving this New Year

I went to the doctor for an early sonogram a few weeks ago and the minute the tiny life in my womb appeared on the screen, with it’s heart furiously beating, I started to weep.  The awesome miracle before me just overwhelmed me to tears.  Life so powerful and so fragile confronted me and my angel Gabriel, in the form of modern technology, proclaimed “Behold, you shall bear a child!” The sonogram tech saw my reaction and said, 2013-01-05_18-28-13_259“Awwwwww, is this your first?”  I replied, “No, it’s the 9th little person I’ve been gifted with.”  (Her jaw hit the floor at that!) I think she was a little perplexed by my reaction though.  It should be no big deal after seeing it so many times right?  For her it’s become commonplace, old hat, “seen one little jelly bean on the screen, seen them all”, so she didn’t really ‘get’ me.

Perhaps my reaction could be attributed to pregnancy hormones.  Or perhaps the timing of Advent and preparing for the Christ child to come had something to do with it.  Or maybe it’s simply that Life is a brand new miraculous gift each time it is given and by the grace of God I haven’t been blinded to this beautiful truth like so much of society that would just as soon deny the truth before their very eyes; that Life is Life.

And now the Christ baby is here with us once again.  Truth and light and Love and LIFE have arrived anew.  The mother of all Truth and all light and all Love and all Life has once again brought this precious child into our midst in the most adorable and desirable way.  She gives us a tiny baby in all His innocent splendor; a tiny baby to love and cherish and hold and squeeze and smell.  I don’t think there is any smell in the world like the smell of a newborn baby.

Just thinking of the Holy Family isolated in their little corner of the world, rejoicing, adoring, bonding together over this precious baby from Heaven evokes feelings of love and

English: Holy Family, Mary, Joseph, and child ...

English: Holy Family, Mary, Joseph, and child Jesus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

tenderness for those first days with our own babies.  Days that are nothing short of Holy and gazing upon that tiny new face always feels like we are gazing on the face of God Himself.  All the hopes and dreams and aspirations and the sheer curiosity of what this newest little member of the Kingdom will become are held deep in our hearts as we enjoy every tender moment of newness and innocence.

Love does not get more pure or more true.

The infant savior, Emanuel, has come to us in the purest and truest form of Love.  A newborn babe without adornment or pomp.  Life simply and powerfully present.  Life that draws the world to see it and want to participate in some way with it.  If the story ended right there it would be a pretty amazing story.  God has come among us in the humblest way, naked and squalling and helpless with no expectation or pretense.  He came as all babies come, to love and be loved.

Too soon the world will come knocking.  Wise men will seek and will find Him.  The poor and the lowly shepherds will be given a first glimpse.  Enemies will be out for blood.  And the savior will be suckling at His mother’s breast, safely ensconced in her heart and in her arms, blissfully unaware of all that is going on around Him, simply doing what He came to do.  Loving and being loved.

This is all that God asks of any of us.  To become like little children.  To Love purely without pretense or agenda.  To be lovable as a newborn.  To look at one another as God sees us, worthy and precious and a miraculous gift.

As we embrace this perfect baby and continue on our Journey with the Holy Family, may we never lose sight of the simplest and purest Truth.  Love was born and Love remains.

Wishing you a Happy and Blessed 2013