Miraculous Mary

In the summer of 2008, my first-born son Mikey was dying. He had turned four years old in the midst of chemotherapy and radiation for his brain tumor, but we knew he would never see age five. I can’t begin to describe the roller coaster of emotions I was riding as July turned to August that summer, and my baby was slipping away. I can tell you that it was terrifying and lonely. I spent my time with him hoping and praying for an epic miracle because I just couldn’t face the writing on the wall. I knew that once I embraced that cross that I would have to see it through to Calvary. And no mother ever wants to accept that cross…

Without even thinking about it, I sought advice from our Blessed Mother. I didn’t really know her well, but I knew we shared this cross and at the very least I wouldn’t be alone in it. At the very most, I begged her to show me how to accept and abide as she herself had done. In the moments between the terrifying reality and unthinkable future, I sought her counsel and companionship. I had nowhere else to turn. My God and my Savior had yet to take His rightful place in my life and in my heart, because He had yet to reveal me to myself.
But Mary was my comfort. Though she couldn’t heal or fix or save my little one, any more than she could her own son, she was with me through it all. She walked beside me and gave me what she gave her son, the quiet, steady confidence of her trust in the Father. I learned by her example that I wouldn’t perish with each next step. Slowly I walked, one foot in front of the other, one painful step at a time, with my wise and gentle Mother at my side. She didn’t look away or run from the excruciating reality, and that gave me courage to face the impossible. Just as she stayed with Jesus until she held his dead body, I knew she wouldn’t leave me, ever.

August 19, 2008 arrived and my disbelief turned to acceptance, that with each passing moment and Mikey’s slowing breath, there would be no 11th hour miraculous healing that would save us from our ultimate cross. Mary understood that process very well.

Our family was gathered around Mikey’s hospital bed in our home that morning. In truth, I had kept vigil with him through the night, not wanting to miss a single precious moment of his last hours. He had spent his last weeks in this favorite room of our house, the sunroom, full of light and windows with peaceful and serene views of trees and landscape. It’s a space that became intimate when filled with a hospital bed, our whole family, and a million prayers sent to Heaven with hope. Even now, 12 years later, I feel the presence of those prayers like a cozy blanket, sent on behalf of my little Mikey then, and now somehow returned to me.

At about 10 o’clock that Tuesday morning, his breathing changed and slowed. The space between each breath grew longer and I think we collectively held our own breath waiting for the
next one. Until there just wasn’t a next one. Helplessly, we breathed his last with him and barely realized that it was happening. One moment he was here with us and the next moment he wasn’t. The reality slammed with full force and no matter how prepared you think you are for the moment to come, the finality of death has a way of ripping into your soul.
The room had gone silent, the only sounds being the gentle wracking sobs of our 8-year-old and the distant, yet gut-wrenching, wailing of our 7-year-old from another room. In my heart, there was peaceful silence. Mikey’s machines were turned off and there was no more pain, medications, treatments, therapies, or agonizing helplessness and worries. He was free. I sat in the rocker, where I had held him for the better part of his four years, and held him for the last time. He was off the cross and in my arms and Mary held us both.

Our last family photo with Mikey that hangs in our sunroom

Those moments were pivotal for me. Infused with the peace that passes all understanding, I was set free, too. I suddenly understood with a divine clarity that although my little Michael couldn’t come back to me, I could CHOOSE to go to him. His lifeless body brought the greatest conviction, to seek LIFE, that I have ever known. In that extraordinary moment, there was no anger or fear or even sadness, but only a gentle and peaceful assurance that my life had found its purpose and I would be in the greatest of company. How did I suddenly understand this without having a clue of where to begin? I was serenely confident that Mary would be showing me the way.

The family gradually dispersed; Bill to call the undertaker and begin arrangements, my mom to handle logistics of visitors and food and love already piling in. Bill’s mom took the younger girls from the room with the excuse of checking the mail. I guess she had also noticed the mail truck pulling up just as Mikey was taking his final breaths. Strange how life ticks on even in the moments that stand still. Notice the mothers in this scene. They might largely go unnoticed except they carried on life and meaning in the most essential ways. In those moments, and in my memories now, I know I couldn’t have survived that day without them, without the comfort of their steady presence.

Suddenly, the girls started running from the mailbox back toward the house waving a letter. I could see them from the chair in the sunroom where I sat still holding Mikey. They barreled into the room breathless with excitement and said, ‘Mom! Look what just came in the mail!’ and excitedly presented me with the full windowed envelope that clearly contained a beautiful yet sorrowful picture card of our Lady and the words “With Sympathy.” I tucked that awe-inspiring, and yet somehow expected, tender loving message into my heart where I carry it to this day. Mothers often love in miraculous ways!

How did I walk through those following days of preparation for his burial with Joy in my soul and Trust that all would be well? They were agonizing days full of a billion tears after all.

On top of the mercy and grace that was showered upon me from heaven, our Blessed Mother walked beside me, and Mother knows best.

The card she sent in the most important moments of my life
Note the copyright 2008

My Divine Mercy Miracle

By Karen Pullano Edited by Nancy Impelizzieri

One of the stories I love to share when I give talks, is the miracle of my own salvation during Divine Mercy weekend in 2008. Of course in the usual way the Lord works, it was a miracle that began taking place long before I noticed. The seeds for it were planted at my baptism; by those who taught me the faith; and by my mother who brought me to the grace of the sacraments throughout my childhood. Much later, the Lord made manifest this work He began in me by way of a tremendous agony in my life. For that, I am eternally grateful.

When Mikey was diagnosed with a deadly brain tumor at the age of three, I refused to accept that he might actually die. My faith in God was shallow at best, but I had faith enough to turn to him in my terror and sorrows. I was terrified of losing my son, and sorrowful day in and day out for all that he had to endure. His childhood was being stolen away and all my dreams for his life and health were increasingly crushed throughout the months of treatment.

As time went on we kept hoping for healing and recovery, but what I didn’t realize for a long time was that as that possibility diminished, my hope in the eternal was growing. We are an Easter people and hope is written on our hearts from the beginning. That hope of course has the face and name of Jesus, but I didn’t understand that then.

Mikey suffered through many rounds of intense chemotherapy after his brain surgery was unsuccessful. Imagine our extreme disappointment when again and again we were told that it wasn’t working. The tumor continued to grow despite the worst poison this world had to give it. After two months of rigorous treatment, the doctors decided to stop. It was the briefest and longest two months of my entire life, as my baby’s life hung in the balance. I used to hug him so tight that I imagined there was no possible way the cancer could survive the squeezing. And in brief moments of pure love and prayer, hope in the eternal was growing. The rest of the time it was ignored as we continued to look to the doctors and the world for the cure that surely must come.

I remember receiving one particular card in the mail that contained a pivotal scripture for me. From Jeremiah 29:11 it read, “For I know well the plans I have in mind for you declares the Lord. Plans for your welfare and not for woe. Plans to give you a future and a hope.” Upon reading this, I was filled with the Lord and the Holy Spirit, though I couldn’t recognize Him at the time. I knew beyond a doubt that the promise was true. I knew the Lord would be faithful and do exactly as He said, giving both Mikey and me a future and a hope. Naturally, I took it to mean that Mikey would be healed. I had no room in my mother’s heart for any other possibility.

So, facing the end of treatment options in March of that year, we brought our first-born son (the 5th of seven children) home from the hospital, to rest and heal from treatment and love him as much as we could while continuing to seek the instrument of his grand miraculous healing. We enjoyed Easter at home together as a family, and hope rose as never before. A new day, the Lord’s day, that He made for us to rejoice and be glad in, had sprung up along with the daffodils in the yard and the buds on the trees promising new life everywhere we looked. That very Easter night, the doctors called and said he should have another chance at treatment since they had detected some response. I knew it! The Lord had promised after all. We eagerly took Mikey back to the hospital that Easter Monday for more toxic chemotherapy. It was a rigorous and near deadly cocktail in and of itself, but it was our only hope.

As was the routine, Bill and I took turns staying with him around the clock throughout that week. On Friday, at about 3 o’clock, I relieved Bill so he could come home to shower and rest. I couldn’t wait to be with my baby even though I knew it would be heartbreaking to be so helpless in the face of his suffering. Imagine my surprise when I arrived and he was sitting up in a chair smiling and talking! Bill felt good about leaving him for a short time and it filled my heart to have some time with this little boy, treasure of my heart. He chattered away telling me his big plans to get Daddy’s keys and drive home in the truck, and play with Andrew and take care of his new baby sister Laura. As he spoke, there was a gleam of life and joy in his little face. (It was years later that I recognized the significance of the 3:00 hour of mercy, and how God showed His great mercy to us on that Friday, in that hour.)

A short time later, the nurses came to get Mikey for a quick procedure. We made the arduous journey down the hall with all his paraphernalia, got through the procedure just fine, and made the slow move back to his room again. Along the way back, out of the blue, he suddenly couldn’t breathe. Instantly there was mayhem. Nurses were running and yelling for doctors and the blue light in the hall was flashing and screeching. Our hospital neighbors all stood in their doorways watching the commotion and I numbly but hurriedly followed the stretcher as we made our way to the elevator and down to the pediatric ICU. Mikey was whisked through the giant double doors and a team descended on him at which point I was stopped by his doctor. Despite the roaring in my ears, I heard her ask if I wanted him to be resuscitated, but somehow the question made no sense. Nothing made sense in those moments. I was expecting a miracle of healing, after all I had been praying so much more, and surely the Lord was pleased with me. But most importantly, He promised! So I answered with the only possible answer I could give and despite her loving protest, I begged her to save his life!

With shaking hands, I called Bill and tried to explain the unexplainable. I called the rest of the family and repeated the doctor’s thoughts, that the tumor in the middle of his brain stem had simply grown enough to shut down his life center. One minute he’s here and the next he’s just… not.

I remember watching Bill arrive. Perhaps he seemed unhurried and at ease to the casual observer. I saw the defeat of a Dad who couldn’t save his son, but more importantly I saw the humble confidence of a son who trusts in his Father. He stood firmly beside me in that trust when the doctor finally returned with the news. Armed with brain scans, she explained that, as they had feared, Mikey was brain dead and being kept alive by the machines. She showed us the scans with the white areas of dead tissue and explained that our next step would be removing the ventilator and saying our goodbyes, not necessarily in that order.

I remember feeling nothing and everything. I remarked to no one in particular that I would never be able to eat again. It felt like my insides just twisted up and died, not that it really mattered. But most of all, I felt such complete disbelief. If Mikey died, then God wasn’t really who He said He was to me. The God I thought I knew lied and let me down. If Mikey died, then my Hope did, too. That was the source of my despair as I stood at his ICU bedside and the priest arrived to give last rites. He led us in the Our Father just as Anna was arriving.

The kids had been scattered at their various activities with family members and had filtered in as soon as they could. Anna was the last to arrive before we could say our goodbyes as a family. The doctors encouraged us to talk to Mikey in case somewhere between life and death he could hear us. So we did and nonsensically I said, ‘Mikey, Anna’s here now, do you want to see her?’ And all of us gathered there, in that moment, saw the slightest nod of his head. His doctor urgently told me to ask again and when I did, his little eyelids fluttered open. There was mayhem as the doctors scrambled to their large screen with the images of his dead brain still visible to us all. They couldn’t make the pieces fit, but I could! This was more like it. Hope unfurled it’s glorious wings. The priest happily joked that he was no longer needed there and led us in a few more prayers before he was on his way. Mikey was not showing signs of breathing on his own, but he was awake and responding and definitely alive!

The night for me was spent keeping a vigil of sorts. How could I sleep when the excitement of what the Lord was doing was palpable within me? I didn’t understand it all, but I was filled with a ‘knowing’ that He is God and we are not. I saw His power and majesty and understood this God of mine in a whole different way. He alone is the Lord of life and death. He is mighty to save and to heal, if it is His will. He has plans in mind far greater than what we can see or conceive. I felt His love and His Favor and was giddy with excitement about this incredible miracle. I knew He wouldn’t take my little Michael away from me. Not yet.

I spent Saturday in a feeling of incredible relief and thanksgiving. I was intimately connected with my Lord in my newfound space of trust, even as the doctors continued to look grim. Mikey still had a massive tumor filling his brain stem and was intubated in the ICU, but I was celebrating! And by evening, he was showing hopeful signs of being able to breathe on his own.

Our family took turns at his bedside, two at a time per ICU regulations, throughout that day and night and it was decided that on Sunday they would try to remove the tube. We made a plan to come to the hospital early and go to Mass in the chapel and then gather together by his bedside for the removal just in case it didn’t go well. Once again, I was so excited at what my newfound Lord and friend was about to do that I wasn’t able to sleep.

I was so sure of the total miracle He would finish in restoring Michael that I was unaware of another miracle He was bringing about in my very own soul.

It would be years before I would understand what the Lord spoke in my heart that Sunday morning when we arrived for Mass. The priest announced that it was Divine Mercy Sunday and I was floored. It was a somewhat new celebration in the church calendar and I had honestly never heard of it before. But on this day, with that announcement, suddenly it was everything. On Friday, in the Lord’s divine providence and mercy, He had restored my Mikey to life in the greatest show of a miracle that could neither be ignored nor denied and I wanted to shout it from the rooftops. After Mass we headed for the ICU. I was ready for His incredible mercy to be made manifest. We entered Mikey’s room not knowing the procedure was done and that adorable little face greeted us with a beaming smile and words to the effect of ‘let’s go’. It was finished. My little boy who died on Friday, was resurrected on Sunday, Divine Mercy Sunday. We could bring him home. And I didn’t know it, but that wasn’t the Lord’s greatest work that weekend.

Although the next months were filled with disease, we had tremendous hope of a total miracle of healing. The Lord had already proved that He could and would, and it was impossible for me to accept the mere reality of impending death. Without realizing it, my hope that had been in doctors, medicine, and treatments, had gradually shifted to hope in the divine and eternal. It was July when the Lord gave me my first glimpse of this.

I was desperate to take my family and escape from reality. In a crazy move, our entourage of 12 boarded a plane bound for the magical world of Disney. Mikey’s wish was to see Mickey Mouse and though he was wheelchair bound and declining rapidly, to the Mouse we went. The plane took off up through the scant clouds and a great peace descended upon my soul as I looked out over the vastness of the earth below. The Spirit breathed truth and life into my prayer, “Lord you have created all this, you have us too in the palm of your hand.” I flew right into His heart that day and barely realized it.

As July turned to August I could feel that Michael’s time was short. My ultimate cross was looming and instinctively I took refuge in Mary’s heart. She had walked this road before me and I begged her to show me how. So gently did she take my hand and guide me, that I didn’t realize she had.

August 19th my sweet baby, my first-born son, the little prince of our hearts, breathed his last and Mary was with me. There was anguish and there was tremendous peace. Instinctively, I knew that he had to go to the Father in order for the Spirit to come, even as I grieved and hated it. He couldn’t come back to me, but I knew Mary would show me how to go to him. Suddenly I wanted nothing more in my life than to find the way. And so I began.

The miracle of that Divine Easter weekend of mercy had little to do with saving Mikey’s life and everything to do with saving my own.

The Master has need of it

By His stripes we are healed. By our own stripes, the world around us can be healed, too. But what makes our suffering into a stripe that heals others?

Love is what brought Jesus to the gruesome torture and suffering of the cross. Love for each of us, but more importantly, love for the Father and love for His perfect will. The Master had need of Jesus to bring about the salvation of the world, and He has need of us, too. Each of us in our own suffering can help bring about the salvation of souls when we love the will of the Father more than our own. We heal each other when we love others in our suffering more than we love ourselves. I trust in Him wholeheartedly that the loss of my children is being used in his perfect and holy master plan of salvation for others. And so I choose, as often as I can, not to focus on my own pain and suffering, but on the glory of what He will do with that pain and suffering when I unite it with His. He brings about the incredible and the miraculous in hearts and souls.

https://images.app.goo.gl/XKxgrbTkh6B9hzSBA

I recently listened to Bishop Robert Barron’s Stations of the Cross reflections (The stations of the Cross with Bishop Barron). At the fifth station, he parallels Simon being pressed into service to carry the cross, with the donkey being pressed into service to bear Christ into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. In both Luke (19:31) and Matthew (21:3), a servant is told to go and untie the donkey and told, if questioned to simply respond, ‘the Master has need of it.’ It struck me! The Master also has need of you and me, especially in these days of uncertainty and fear that we are walking through.


The Master has need of each of us in the same way Jesus needed that donkey on His triumphal entrance into Jerusalem, and needed Simon on the road to Calvary. We are all equipped in some way for these days we are now in, but maybe not in the way we think. Of course all of our gifts, talents, and riches can glorify God when we allow ourselves to be pressed into His service. But it is the crosses we bear, the sufferings we endure with faith, and the wounds we bravely face, that, when suffered with great Love of God, become the stripes that can heal. My suffering is actually my greatest blessing.


I can’t begin to know how my crosses, small in comparison to His own, serve Him, but I do know how THE cross has served me. It has healed me and made me whole. It has given me freedom and taught me deep and abiding love. If my stripes, united to Him, can do that for His beloved children, then I don’t have nearly enough of them.

The Master has need of me. And you.

“He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His stripes you are healed.” 1 Peter 2:24

7 Years

In these past 7 years, I’ve come to understand my suffering is a gift. A gift not exactly given to me by God, but allowed by God so that He might shower me with so many other amazing gifts and graces. In the rawness of my grief, when Mikey died 12 years ago and when Anna died 7 years ago, God taught me that when you are clawing at air and think you have lost too much to survive, He is there. And He is enough.

He’s proved His love for me constantly, always keeping every promise. He’s been by my side in the darkest valleys and to the top of the hills.

We’ve walked through fire together and I would follow Him anywhere. Even to the cross. After all, that’s where He did His best work. And where I do mine. Mostly because that’s where I meet Him, the one who is Love and Mercy itself. There is no fear at the cross with Jesus, only looking forward to resurrection. Where then can fear live, if the worst case is the cross with our Savior? It’s not death that stings, so much as the fear of death. And the fear of death does not compare to the fear of living without the One who loves me above all else. If that were possible, then everything would sting!

Today I am reminded of all that we have lost in our beautiful and vibrant Anna. I am of course mourning once again all her ‘lasts’ and the really empty space in our family. All the what-ifs and should-haves can bring such great sorrow, but I consider them all a gift because I know they will bring me face to face with the cross. It’s so hard to see the one we love in such agony. He waits there for me anyway. Alone the grief is heavy, but together the sorrow is transformed. I am His and He is mine. He is enough.

These memories are joy but are also a painful and sorrowful cross

This is the Cross that heals and redeems

What Finally Matters

On this day five years ago I had no idea it would be our final hours with her. Tomorrow I will celebrate, with great hope, her birth into new life. But today I remember her and celebrate her in this life. Of course, I face all the questions that I can’t help but raise. Why didn’t I squeeze her hard before she left and say a proper goodbye? Why didn’t I drop everything to tell her how much she was loved. Again. Why didn’t I call her before I went to bed? I didn’t because… life. That’s just how it goes sometimes. But the real question that burns as I ponder what finally matters is, “Did I show her Christ?” Did I lead her there enough? If not what was I waiting for? Could it ever even be enough? When she came to her moment and stood before HIM in the wee hours of this night, did she know Him as her own? Did I love in such a way that her choice was as plain as day? If I failed in this then I have utterly failed and all I can do is trust that where I fell short is where God’s mercy abounds.

“Therefore keep watch. For we know not the day nor the hour” Mt 25:13

Love and Sacrifice

Our family grew by one again this past Christmas. It’s taken me this long to catch my breath and write about it, but here she is. img_0009 Meet Pepper − a little 4-pound ball of playful enjoyment! She’s filling up all kinds of empty little spaces in this family. If you are thinking that I’m the very definition of crazy, I won’t argue. This chubby, happy baby and this precocious 3 year-old

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Olivia Grace

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Leah Denise

are enough to keep me running and hopping, not to mention the rest of the gang.  I’ve been resisting a puppy for over 20 years now, so why suddenly did I dive in? And yes, I squeezed my eyes shut tight and dove− just went for it before I could think about it too much and change my mind!

There are lots of reasons why it isn’t and has never been a good idea for us to take on a puppy. Trust me, I’m still going over some of them in my head… BUT there is one very good and simple reason why I did it. Love. Not just my love for my children and certainly not because I have a particular affinity for dogs (though she IS really growing on me), but to teach them the truest kind of love. Nothing teaches this love like the sacrifice required to care for babies and puppies! I want my children to have hearts filled to overflowing with Love. There’s so much I can’t give them or protect them from. Much of what we can give them is just stuff that’s filling them up, but leaving them empty. Sadly, our kids are such victims of technology today. Victims because they are learning that their acceptance and worth depend on the number of likes they get on a photo or post. The instant reactions and interactions come more from the feelings of the moment than from reason, deep thought, or the care that is necessary to foster personal relationships. In short, our collective young are trading empty accolades for actual love and have no idea! We have become a society that rarely recognizes what Love actually is and I include myself in that condemnation. I have enough work, enough people to take care of, enough responsibility, and practically zero time for myself. Why in the World would I even consider adding a puppy to this already packed and crazy schedule? And yet, can there be enough love?

Love requires sacrifice. Love is not easy. Love doesn’t even always feel good, believe it or not. When I’m so exhausted I can’t see straight and have to spend my entire day cleaning poop from butts and floors, I can assure you that I’m not exactly feeling the love. But when the kids run off that school bus full of excitement and anticipation, it’s not because the computer or television is waiting to tackle them with a bear hug. They come in with Joy to greet the kind of Love that has no expectation beyond simply accepting it; the kind of Love that teaches you HOW to love simply by receiving it.

When I think about my children growing up and heading out into the world on their own, there are so many things that I wonder if I’m teaching them well. Will they be good people, prepared to face the inevitable challenges of life? Will they be productive and successful? Will they be happy? Will they seek the path and the purpose that God has designed them for? I can really get caught up in all the ways I fall short. I wonder if the lasting impression I leave them with will revolve around the endless work, sleepless nights, and the stress and frenzy of trying to fit it all in. Will they even know my Joy? Because I swear I have it. Will they know my peace? Because it’s there and is rooted down deep. Will they walk away remembering the supreme frustration I expressed when the dog had her 100th accident in the house or will they hold more dear the elation I felt when she finally had a successful day going outside? Truthfully, I hope it’s both.

I’m not proud of some of my parenting moments. I often lament that I sure didn’t channel the Blessed Mother in the way I handled a certain situation or another. But I take heart from the messy stuff because what I hope my children will take away from their first-hand witness of the struggle and sacrifice is that I was committed to Love. I’m committed to loving them and teaching them love. My sacrificing, day in and day out, is the legacy I hope to leave them, because love in its purest form bears the depth of sacrifice. It is life-giving and has the ability to teach and to heal, requiring nothing in return. Love without sacrifice is a shallow thing at best. I love certain things, but wouldn’t sacrifice a whit for them. If I can leave my children one lasting example, I hope it will be this real, deep, and true kind of love. When they are grown and gone, I hope they remember the sacrifice and see the beauty in it.

And then I hope they remember their Jesus and that He did it for them first.

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

LOOK UP!

Godversations is 2 years old today!

I thought I would share my very first post again. I was a different person when I wrote this but the message is rooted in Truth and will always be relevant; Listen, Trust, Obey. Thank you for your unending Love and Support in the Joys and Trials we have encountered on our journey of Faith. None of us ever walks alone and I am honored to have each one of you beside me.
I am also excited to be sharing faith on a new blog for the John Paul II Center for Women in the diocese of Syracuse. You can find it here http://jpiicenterforwomen.wordpress.com. The mission of the John Paul II Center is to promote the true dignity of Women. Check out the website for more information http://www.jpiicenterforwomen.com . The Holy Spirit is at work and I am so honored to be part of sharing Wisdom and Truth!
Okay I am publicly putting this out there – eeeek! I have started writing a book. I have no idea if it will get finished, or published, or read, but I have started one. So there ya go. Like the Godversations Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/godversations and leave me a message or shoot me an email every now and then to keep the pressure on! (Oh no, what have I done???)

Happy and Blessed Easter and I will remember all my readers especially in my prayers this Easter Season.
Love and Peace from our family to yours.

Godversations

Look Up! Look Up! Look Up! Melissa Look Up! Look Up! Hurry Look Up! Just lift your head and Look Up! Look at me. Look at me Melissa. Look at Mommy! Look at my Face! Look Up!!!

This is pretty much how bath time goes with my 2-year-old every time. I shampoo her hair and when she knows the rinsing is coming she looks down to try to shield her face and cries louder and louder, probably to be heard over my pleas, until she reaches full-out hysteria… and we’re done. I’ve tried reasoning and explaining, but my normally brilliant 2 yr old, just can’t seem to get the message.

If she would only listen to me, and trust me, and obey me, then the water would pour nicely down the back of her head and hair washing would be a non-event. Bath time would be considerably more enjoyable all…

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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.

Jesus I Trust in You

I’ve written here before about the death of our 4 year-old son Mikey almost 5 years ago.  Michael Julian PullanoHe was diagnosed with a brain tumor and battled his disease for 9 months before he died.  That journey, while being one that no parent ever wants to take, was responsible for so much fruit.  You can read more of my thoughts over the years on my caringbridge site. My faith and my writing have grown from that suffering and the continued carrying of the cross.  Though it never leaves our side we have gotten very used to carrying it.  We have found JOY despite sorrow and loss.  I can look at that sweet and beautiful face and know with certainty that his little life was precious and meaningful to God’s design and in the plan for my own salvation.  I can even go so far as to say I am thankful for having him, knowing him. loving him and losing him because God is faithful.  When He says He has plans to give us a future and a hope He is faithful.

Several weeks ago now, we once again got that dreaded phone call.  Every parent’s worst nightmare has become our newest living reality.  “Your daughter has been in an accident.” “She’s in critical condition.” “She was hit by a bus.” “She’s intubated for now.” “Mr. Pullano… Your daughter is dying.”

Anna Noelle Pullano January 27, 1995- March 2, 2013

Anna Noelle Pullano
January 27, 1995- March 2, 2013

Time is frozen in that moment and yet it steadily marches on as we adjust, adapt, re-define and accept.  We’ve been here before.  We’ve walked this road of pain, sorrow and grief and, ultimately, with God’s grace, this road of HOPE and FAITH.  We will walk it again because God has asked us to.

My understanding is so limited and so narrow.  I can’t begin to answer all the Why’s that are so much a part of our human nature.  Why us? again…  Why her?  Why do our other children have to bear this again?  It is so unfair.  As parents we do all in our power to protect our kids and keep them safe from harm and the evils of the world.  This is completely out of our hands.  Why Lord would you allow them to suffer so much?

And you are an all-powerful and amazing God.  As sure as I have 10 fingers and 10 toes, you could have intervened and prevented this tragedy for us.  Why Lord?  Why didn’t your angels keep her safe?  Why did you allow this in our lives when you so easily could have spared us?  You could have intervened and you didn’t.

You could have intervened but you didn’t.  

And that leaves only one thing to say.

Jesus I trust in You.

We will seek refuge and take comfort in the arms of God.  Where else could we possibly go?  We will answer as Peter answered, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of everlasting life.” (Jn 6:68) bearing in mind the words of Jesus, “I am the vine and you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit. Apart from me you can do nothing.” (Jn 15:5)

We will bear up and carry this newest cross.  How?  With God’s grace and with His love.  It is a love that is not from us but a divine love that bears all things.  It is love for God and the desire to do His Holy and perfect will that will bear this cross.  It was the same for Jesus, He came to do his Father’s will, and it wasn’t an easy road to walk.  The road to Calvary is never an easy road.

It is a road however that we can freely and humbly choose, even in circumstances that we would never ask for.  Had I known, I would have BEGGED my God for this cup to pass me by, but truly not my will but yours be done Father.  And armed with that Trust and Love, all a grace, we will freely choose to walk this road alongside our Lord.  We will not be felled by the enemy of despair and we will not be victims of darkness.  We will walk uprightly in the light, even though we may falter.

The sadness and the grief are sometimes overwhelming.  The future looms large with this enormous cross that we will never be out from under.  The presence and the weight will be constant companions this side of Heaven.  It is no different from so many crosses.  The death of any loved one or the decision of a rape victim to choose life for her child when that choice feels impossible.  The gay man or woman who chooses celibate love for their life in order to more fully live the Gospel.  People suffering with debilitating, life-long illnesses or chronic pain or mental disorders.  All are crosses that are not necessarily chosen but can be freely borne.  Why would we want to bear them?  The same reason Jesus wanted to bear his cross.  Love. Pure and simple.

But what about our happiness?  I thought you wanted me to be happy in my life God?  Giving me children and then taking them away doesn’t sound like the greatest recipe for happiness to me.  In fact the pain of it is blinding sometimes.  How can I ever be happy with that?  At moments I cry out with Jesus, “Father, Why have you forsaken me?”

English: Divine Mercy. Painting in Divine Merc...

And the answer comes, “Today, you will be with me in Paradise”

Jesus I trust in You

I want to know the extreme and heavenly love that bears a lifetime of days without my first-born baby girl and our first-born son.  I want to bear the fruit and know the Joy that can only be understood in light of the pain and the suffering.  We can’t truly know light without darkness.  What a thrilling discovery when we are in darkness to understand that the light dispels it perfectly and completely.

Do a good and perfect work in me Lord.  You are my potter and I am your clay.

Jesus I Trust in You

Testimony:Cradle to Grave

Written by Anabelle, Age 37 in AL

From Cradle To Grave Catholic With Detours in Between

CradletoGrave

(That’s not me but my daughter. My photos are too orange to publish.)

I don’t have a memory of the most important day of my life.  But I know it happened because of acid-oranged photographs with my godparents, a Baptismal Certificate with my name on it, and no one tried to stop me when I received First Communion.  The seal of Catholicism was a cornerstone for my formative years, nurtured by a daily communicant mother who scuffed holes in her pants from kneeling pilgrimage-style across Church aisles; above-reproach principal who sang vibrating soprano-key for the daily 7:00 AM Mass; teachers who marched us to confession regularly; and a staunchly Catholic extended family with reunions that were marked by Baptisms, Church weddings, and funeral parties that always served garlic peanuts appetizers and roasted pig for the main course.  Being born into a predominantly Catholic country where public transportation was decked out with Jesus/Mary emblems and dangling rosaries on the rearview mirrors, was a support system that fostered my spiritual infancy and kept me on the straight and narrow.

Really I had all that I needed to grow in the fullness of my faith.  But my Catholic identity waned in a liberal Catholic law school when I reached the age of adulthood.  Oprah Winfrey’s ‘wisdom’, popular culture world views, new age novelty, immoral entertainment stole the truths that were deposited in my soul. I began to live in the prevalent narcissistic philosophy of ‘I/me/mine first” and accepted the whopping secular lie that in order to impress others, my spiritual life must be kept under the wraps of designer fashion and accessories.  I was the average dissenting/cafeteria/lukewarm Catholic.

On the brink of my graduation, the Year of the Holy Spirit, I unexpectedly pilgrimaged to Banneux, Belgium to an approved apparition site of Our Lady of the Poor.  There, I rambled on a litany of self-absorbed prayers:  help me pass the bar exam, marry a blue-eyed man, travel the world over, find the right shade of copper lipstick for my new dress etc…  But My Blessed Mother must have begged God for my conversion of heart because when the bar results were released, I was .02 % short of becoming a new lawyer.

There’s nothing like a dose of humility to make one see with clarity.  And the truth of what I saw was this:  I needed to ask God what He wanted from me instead of telling Him what I wanted Him to do for me.  The life that I’d built for me myself and I was shallow and unfulfilling.

With tail between my legs, I boxed up all of my leather purses and flirty perfumes and moved back home to recapture the peace of my childhood years.  I also kissed dating goodbye (thank you Joshua Harris!), joined a Charismatic prayer group that taught me about Jesus & the Bible, sought spiritual direction and re-discovered that a conscience living in a state of grace is where peace reigns.  This state of grace was the gift I received at Baptism, I could receive again at the Sacrament Confession. Being a cradle Catholic left it’s imprint in my soul that long before I was a student, lawyer, sister, friend, or any other label, I was a first and foremost a Catholic – a child of God and daughter of the Church.   That privilege was bestowed on me by faithful parents and the destiny to become a faithful Catholic woman was a path ingrained in me at Baptism.  I didn’t have to look to law school, to TV, to Oprah, new age or to the secular world, to find who I am and who I should be.   My identity was there in my faded photographs and Baptismal certificate.

The laws of Catholicism, the Sacraments, the devotions, and traditions drew me back into the Church started by Jesus Christ and this time, I was no longer a robot walking through rules and regulations.  I was in love with Jesus in the Eucharist, awed by a loving, forgiving God in the Confessional, captivated by the Blessed Mother and her rosary and longed to impress and become part of the communion of saints. Through the example of virtuous Catholics, I realized that being a lukewarm Catholic was worse than being a mediocre teacher/writer/lawyer/wife/mother/sister/friend and that in order to be the  best teacher/writer/lawyer/wife/mother/friend/sister, I had to become the best Catholic I could be.   I don’t mean a holier-than-thou-know-it-all but someone who stands firm in obedience to the Church Magisterium, who is willing to defend her from persecution, who prays for the conversion of my brothers and sisters, who strives for Mary’s sanctification and embraces Jesus’ Divine mercy when in sin.  A disciple of Christ who constantly studies the faith, repents, changes, inspires, corrects, evangelizes, and stays silent when necessary.

Hebrews 8:10 is the summary of my spiritual journey: “But this is the covenant I will establish with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord:  I will put my laws in their minds and I will write them upon their hearts.  I will be their God and they shall be my people.”

 Obviously, not me either.  It is sadly, my fifth baby.

Obviously, not me either. It is sadly, my fifth baby.

And wouldn’t you know it:  I DID eventually move across the world to sunny California, practiced immigration law with some travel perks, married the blue-eyed man of my prayers, and settled in a friendly Sothern state with peaceful cows and generous chickens as my neighbors.

Catechism and reading the saint’s writings have encouraged me to write novels, articles, and even blog about the Catholic faith I now hope to pass on to my children and take with me to the grave.

We cradle Catholics tend to take our faith for granted and look for answers elsewhere but in the Church, but if we really studied Holy Mother Church’s true teachings and seek God with a humble heart, we’ll find that everything we’ve searched for was right under our noses, poured over our foreheads, tucked under the Baptismal caps, and clothed on us in our Baptismal gowns.

Anabelle Hazard is a practicing Catholic, non-practicing lawyer, penniless novelist, happy homeschooler, and long-winded blogger at Written By the Finger of God