I just found this in my drafts folder and decided to share it with you today.
My Lenten journey that began in Spring of 2014 was obviously preparing me for what was to come, although of course I didn’t know it at the time…
I’d committed to doing more spiritual reading that Lent and began with this book that ended up rocking my world. It’s the story of the life of St. Augustine but told in the form of a fictional story, and it was just the nudge I needed to go more deeply into my faith. I couldn’t wait to read more every day during my morning quiet time and I was on a spiritual high unlike anything I’d experienced since my conversion in 1994. I’d often end up in tears when reading something especially insightful or profound. At the same time Kent was also doing more spiritual reading, so we’d have great talks and grew even closer to each other as our faith was growing.
That Lent I also listened to these parish mission podcasts from Father John Riccardo, and they helped me to grow deeper in my faith as well. In one of those podcasts was this song that still brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it because it reminds me of that time in my life: No Rest ‘Til We Rest in Thee, with lyrics from St. Augustine’s life.
It was a powerful Lent in many ways, and that mountaintop experience was perhaps my strengthening before the coming storm, when God prepared me for the valley.
~First, our oldest got a good job and moved out of state after graduating from college. While we were very proud and happy for him, I cried a lot at the thought of the six of us never living under the same roof again, having nightly family meals or going to Mass together, etc. I’d often find Kasey upset too, so we’d cry together. We all just missed him. (He likes to joke about how quickly we moved bedrooms around after he left, though, so I could have my own office!)
~In early June I spent some time with a dear friend who was in the hospital fighting breast cancer. I left her hospital room one day and headed to my Mom’s doctor appointment…
~That day, on June 3rd, we were told Mom had advanced cancer.
(Here’s the post I wrote about that: It’s Not Benign and I’ve Already Had a Run-in With the Cancer Doctor.) While we hoped and prayed that we’d have at least a few more months or years with her, we also knew we might not, so we spent as much time as possible there, and all of us kids took turns caring for her in those first weeks of summer. This meant juggling appointments, medicines, treatments, visitors, meals, and helping to manage her pain. Kent and our army of friends here at home helped me keep my sanity during that time by making us meals or taking care of our kids while I was with Mom. She had good and bad days, but her sudden death on July 28th shocked everyone — she hadn’t been well by any means, but she certainly wasn’t on her death bed! I’m still not over that shock and feel especially sad that I never got to say goodbye.
~Shortly after that there was a very disheartening issue with her estate that none of us expected, and this taught us more about forgiveness and continuing to love when it’s not easy. Those are never fun lessons, but I often reminded myself that I’d rather learn those lessons over something as insignificant as money vs. the way some people have to learn it, in a situation that’s much more devastating.
So it was one slam after another, but above all Mom taught us to count our blessings.
Since there are so many more of those and it always could be worse, I continually tried to focus on thankfulness. Not just for the blessings all around, but for that Lent that deepened my roots in the Lord so I could remain faithful and steady through the trials. Don’t miss your chance this Lent to go deeper in your faith, because we never know what struggles are around the next turn in this often sad and messy-yet-beautiful life.
How do YOU grow in your faith? Please share in the comments. 🙂
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