This Much I Know

January 2015

1/11/20159 min read

It took me a long time to figure out what I needed and wanted in my life. As a cradle Catholic, I had the foundation of my faith but not the knowledge to truly understand what it meant. When I met my husband at the age of 25; I was already once divorced and he had a very vast knowledge of the Bible and its contents. Although he wasn't Catholic, his knowledge increased my desire to want to know more. The feeling that I had been missing something greater intensified within me. Although this awareness was there, it has taken time for it to grow to fruition. It took several years to reach the point where I am now, and it is an ongoing journey.

We got married, but it wasn't a Hallmark movie full of bliss and romance. It had a rocky road right from the start. However, I knew in my heart of hearts, we were meant to be together. Praise God, my husband believed this, too. I had never gotten an annulment from my previous marriage although I had tried previously. I was married in the Eastern Rite Catholic Church and I wasn't comfortable with the questions I’d have to answer. I felt I would be judged and my life and previous relationship would be exposed like looking through a fish bowl. After feeling so vulnerable, the process became unimportant to me and I brushed it off. That was until I found a new church and met a wonderful Priest, who is now my Pastor. This was a traditional Roman Catholic Church - one that upheld the laws, morals and values the Church was built upon.

Father not only explained the importance of an annulment as well as the process; he also wanted to help us make sure that our marriage was a true sacrament- one that strives to reflect the love of Christ for His Bridegroom, the Church because of the graces given to the spouses. Everything inside of me wanted what Father had presented to us. I wanted things to be right. I loved my husband very much and knew we were going to start a family very soon, so it was very important for our relationship to be strengthened in this way. We had our union blessed and the Sacrament Marriage performed exactly 2 years from the date of our natural law wedding. At that time, I was pregnant…3 weeks away from giving birth to our daughter.

I believe that God speaks to us through every day occurrences in our lives. It’s not always an audible voice, but an event, person, or circumstance that nudges us to remember that Our Lord is in control, and constantly bestowing His Love on us. After our Sacramental Marriage was when I started to notice these signs in my life.

Our daughter was the first sign for me. I had miscarried a child exactly a year prior to her conception. It wasn't easy for me to get pregnant. A friend suggested having someone pray over me who does healing masses at local churches. I talked to my husband and decided, ‘Why not?’. He came over to our house, told us the story of his journey to faith, and then asked if he could pray with us and for us. As he did, there was an immediate chill that travelled all through my body. During that time, I was also praying to St. Terese of Lisieux's parents, Louis and Zelie Martin, for they always sought God's will with an unwavering faith. Two months later, I was pregnant with our daughter, Giana. At that point, I knew God wanted more for us and had a plan. I started going to church more and searching for greater meaning in my life. The homily’s were great and I started asking more questions. I had close friends that were married who were very deep in their faith and we started getting into discussions here and there. I started asking God to enter my heart, my home, my marriage and my soul. Every day I would ask for His intercession and to bring me closer to my faith. I asked Him to begin to fill that void that I had felt for far too long.

I kept getting pulled more and more into my faith. As I would go to Confession, I started feeling weight lifted off my shoulders. Although, I also started feeling guiltier when I reflected on my past and things I had said or done. And so, as I was getting pulled in, I found things in my life getting more difficult, not easier. I started seeing that if I missed Mass on Sunday, my week was horrible. But if I went, things were better, and I was better able to handle whatever I encountered during the week. I am not exaggerating this. However, problems would still occur in my personal life. And it would cause me to question God, my faith and why I was doing this. I still didn't get it. Now I know that I was embarking into spiritual warfare. The closer I got to Christ, the more I felt something trying to sidetrack me. Two years after Giana’s birth, we were blessed with another pregnancy, and that’s when things really affected me. I knew prior to our ultrasound that I was pregnant with twins. No doctor, nurse or test told me this, but every part of me was telling me I was, and it was confirmed a few weeks later. We heard the first heartbeats and it was wonderful. One heartbeat was really strong, but the other one was weaker, although steady. It would be another 4 weeks before my next ultrasound. My husband and I started talking about names and I had a strong feeling we were having a boy and a girl. The week of my ultrasound I had a dream. In my dream, I was having a conversation with a man in a room, but I couldn’t see his face. We were discussing names for the children. My husband and I had several picked out for a boy but only one for a girl. However, this man kept repeating a name to me that was only a choice if we were going to have a boy and girl. The name was repeated 2 times and I asked if he was sure. Once again he repeated the name. After the third time I asked him what he thought of the name Emma, for that was the name we had chosen for our daughter. At that moment the room went completely black and I was suddenly woken up from a deep sleep. At that moment, I knew something was wrong. My husband thought I was exaggerating about the conversation in my dream after I told him that I knew it was God. A few days later we went to our ultrasound and I wasn’t too excited. Sure enough, as the tech was hovering over the kids, I saw the look on my husband’s face and I knew. The child with the strong heartbeat had unfortunately passed and the one with the weaker heartbeat was strong now. We left that office and I told my husband that if we find out we are having a girl, than we lost our son Ethan Luke. If we were having a boy, however, that meant our girl Emma was in heaven and God wanted us to name our son Ethan Luke. A couple months later we found out what we were having. At the moment the tech said it was a boy, my husband and I looked at each other and in the same breath said Ethan Luke. I’ll never forget those days and think of and pray for Emma often. That was a very difficult loss for me and I still look at my son and see her as if she was there. However I know the Lord gives us what we can handle and I know there was a reason for all this. I trust in that whole heartedly.

Things really started changing a year ago. I started learning more about praying and how to pray effectively. I also learned more about the Blessed Mother. Everything I was learning was directing me back to one word. One simple word that I had a very hard time with. Once I understood the depth of this word, everything; and I do mean EVERYTHING - made more sense. I started to learn about forgiveness. Forgiveness is such a powerful thing. It’s not just about forgiving others and saying you forgive others; it’s about forgiving the way Christ forgave and forgives us. I learned how to forgive others without expecting anything in return or maintaining any bitterness towards them, with all my heart and soul. I needed to forgive myself and then I needed to forgive God. That was something very difficult at first, but I knew that if He had a love so great for all of humanity, who was I to not forgive?

When I started to truly forgive, I also started noticing a change in my home life. My relationship with my husband started evolving. He saw my involvement with my faith and realized this was going to be a big part of our lives, as well as the lives of the children, so he decided to enter the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. Although he was baptized Lutheran, he had many misleading understandings of the Catholic faith. My husband’s decision to embark on this journey of learning and becoming one in Christ as a family was another prayer answered. My personality continued to change. I started noticing that my reactions were more hesitant and whenever I did or say something wrong, I immediately felt guilty and asked for forgiveness. I regretted that I didn’t truly love Christ and call on him to enter my life before; I wanted nothing to do with the “old” me. I saw a shift in my personality, friendships and what, and more importantly who, I choose to spend my free time with. My views on the world started to change. These things were very apparent to my husband and I and it made me feel more and more at peace with God. My life became centered on Christ. I started asking the Blessed Mother to intercede for me and help me to become a better wife and a better mother. I was starting to pray this every night as well, and asked my daughter to pray for me as well. I started attending more church functions to connect to people that shared my morals, values and beliefs. I realized that it was more important and fulfilling for me to have company and conversations with people that I can learn from and that lead me closer to God and not away from Him. In doing this, I found myself distancing myself from things and people that weren’t the best influence. This change in my lifestyle even led me to decline a job offer for fear that it would lead me to drift away from Christ. I continued my prayers to Our Blessed Mother, hoping she would help me in my weaknesses. I knew her love for Christ was far greater than any of us can experience for Him.
Who better to teach me how to love my children and husband than the Mother of Christ and the wife of God?

One day, I was at an early morning mass and two young women stood up at the podium to give church announcements. A new ministry was starting at our church for middle school children, and they needed volunteers that were willing to mentor and coach the youth on their path with God. Immediately, I felt my whole body perk up and I felt like I was the only one being spoken to. I walked up to them right after the Mass and asked what I needed to do to sign up. I was informed that I would have to go through an interview process. I still remember that day. I didn’t want to go. I started questioning what I was doing, how much time this was going to take and if I could afford the stress it may lead to. However, my husband told me I would never know unless I interviewed and it could be the involvement I was searching for. This group has changed my entire spiritual life. I realized shortly after that Blessed Mary had answered my prayer in being a better mother. I am learning so much about these kids, their spiritual life and what I should and can do with my own children. I’ve developed friendships that not only enlighten my faith and have brought me so much closer to God, but they are friendships that are going to last for all eternity.

I’ve learned so much this past year that it disappoints me that it has taken so many years to get to this point. I realized that my life previously was more centered on myself, my feelings, my wants, my desires…all about ME. It was about who said what to me or about me, what people saw me as, who did more for me and who did less. I prayed to God but I prayed for things and asked questions of why and how. It wasn’t until I truly knew about loss, sacrifice, forgiveness and love that I understood what God’s love meant to me. And I never want to turn back.

I am still a fallen soul with so much to grasp and learn. Every day I feel a different grace or connection from God. I am silent more so I can hear Him. I try not to cloud my head with things that ultimately do not lead me to Him. I love my family more than anything and it means more to me to make sure that they lead a God-filled life that will lead them to His glory than it is for brief moments of self-satisfaction.

This much I know.

“Take care of your spiritual life, your relationship with God, because this is the backbone of everything we do and everything we are.” Pope Francis