Friday, February 28, 2014

February 28, 2014- He is My Rock

            Got another email from the Boston Athletic Association, because after all, I am in the “in group”.  (Doesn’t matter that I have to run like crazy and I still can’t keep up with them.)  It was all kinds of info on race day stuff, and because it is the run after the horrible bombings of last year, they are being ultra-careful on the rules: no backpacks (duh), race number must be visible on the front of your clothing at all times, no fanny packs bigger than 5”x15”x5”. 
I won’t really have any problems with any of this stuff as I carry nothing with me really except this time my tiny front pack that will have some Gu and my cell phone.  I might actually try and carry my glasses too come to think of it as it might be nice to see afterwards.  I wear old sweats that I just take off at the start and discard with the others.  The organizers gather all those and give them to local charities.  Because this race is different from any I have run- it is a straight shot from the town to the west, Hopkinton, 26.2 miles into Boston, I will not see my husband until I am all done.  So I will want to call him to meet up after.  I don’t really like that.  For all my big races we have a game plan him and I about where he will strategically station himself at various places along the course so I can see him.  He is my absolute life line.  He is my rock. 

It makes me think of when I was in labor.  Twenty-four hours of heavy contractions with the first, and twenty with the second, and my James was the only one I wanted with me, (well maybe the doctor to make the spectacular catch) the only one I could look to for safety when they said they were going to do the episiotomy.  He got right in my face, I locked onto only him with my eyes, and we held both hands together as he gave me all the strength and encouragement I needed. 
And when I am in what feels like hell, running with hardly the smallest of comforts to be had mentally or physically, I think, “I will see him at eleven, I will see him at eleven.”  Then, sure enough, he is there as I scan the crowds ahead.  He claps for me, and talks just those few words as I pass by him that rub off and stick.     
            One of the best memories I have from Chicago was toward the very end, the twenty-six done and only the point two left.  I could not see the finish line quite yet (which really, really, really helps when you do) as it was around the corner and there was a slight uphill in the course that was beyond agony on every part of me.  These were the biggest crowds I ever saw cheering at a race, at least six or seven deep, the band playing, noise from everywhere but suddenly I heard him.  “Teresa.”
            I wasn’t expecting him to be there.  It wasn’t in our game plan, but he called my name and immediately I snapped my head around and found him instantly, he had pushed through the tight crowds to look for me.  I didn’t think it could be possible, as the effort to move the corners of my mouth upward was almost the straw to break this camel’s back, but I smiled at him. 
            It was all that I could muster.  He was all that I needed.

February 27, 2014- Isn’t It Always the Way

            I actually have been sleeping well the last couple of months, which is saying something for Ms. Pre-Menopausal, except I had a hard time getting to sleep last night.  I was lying in bed thinking very weighty things like… “I’m gonna eat me a donut tomorrow at the landscape seminar.”   (My fellow plant-loving pal Janie and I go to a number of these things offered over the down-time winter months.  This one was on Top Tree Maladies of 2013.)
            They always have donuts there.  Chocolate covered ones, and apple fritters, and jelly donuts…  And while I have been making every effort to eat healthy (and doing a bang up job if I do say so myself), I am also acutely aware that lent starts in less than a week.  Believe you me- I may be clueless about which one of my kids I am yelling at, but when it comes to the exact count down before dooms day- I am a Swiss watch.  Forty days is an eternity!  It’s like a squirrel, gorging on those nuts for winter.  The eleventh hour.  Got to cram them in before they will be gone forever!!!
            And why is it that when someone says you can’t have it that is when you are craving it the most?  As Grandma Swartz would say: “Isn’t it always the way.”

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

February 25, 2014- It is Really Him!

            Jesus surely heaped on the love today!  Wow!  I hit morning mass before my eight mile Tuesday run out on the Stony Creek loop.  I have been doing the same post-run ritual lately, because it makes me happy (and my husband says, “That’s all that matters dear.”):  I make myself a specially concocted good-for-me smoothie and take it up with me to the shower upstairs.
            We were finally able to afford (after about fourteen years of calling it a pipedream) to redo our upstairs bathroom and boy does it make me happy!  The tile, and granite countertop, and bowl sink, and then the piece de résistance- the beach-rock border in the shower.  Jim, and Gracie, and I actually drove the hour drive to Lake Huron and found the prettiest rocks for me to look at every day in my shower and smile.

            And that is what I did after completing another day in my training schedule and sort of “earning” that wonderful, hot shower- I smiled.  I let my heart go towards the happiest of places: being grateful.  Boy there is so much joy to be had when you let your mind go and think on all the amazing things in your life you have to be so grateful about!!
            But I was not satisfied with just walking around the house saying thank-you to God.  I wanted to be the leper, the only one of ten who came back to Jesus to say thank-you. (Luke 17:11-19)  So I got in the car (I usually just walk, but my legs were tired and it was cold outside- boo woo) and drove over to church. 
            I do a lot of crying when I am really happy.  I’m kind of a ding bat like that.  I weep and weep and shake my head at the awesomeness of Jesus, and how amazing it is- that it is REALLY HIM there!  Are you kidding me?  It is really Him!  In that tabernacle!!  Wow!!  And I live right next door practically!!  Wow! 
            My heart goes to all kinds of thoughts:  The word Eucharist means thanksgiving.  Isn’t that perfect?  If you really think on it, to be truly thankful to God shows the inkling of a humble heart.  True thanksgiving and humility go hand in hand.  And Jesus, in the Eucharist is the Sacrament of Humility.  How humble is our God, to not only become a lowly human being but then to become a piece of bread- no arms, no legs- at the whims of humans.  Completely vulnerable.  Like an infant in the bath.  If mother lets go the child would have no strength to support itself, and would drown instantly in the water. 
            Jesus in His fathomless humility has chosen to subject Himself to the onslaught.  Why?  For the off chance that some nothing like me might think on Him for a moment and come by to say hi.  He stays there.  Night and day.  This is GOD people!  Why would He do such a thing?  I will tell you the answer.  Because He loves us!  He doesn’t want us to be alone.  He is willing to go through all the abandonment and possible atrocities because He loves us.
            How clueless are we?  Here is heaven, right before us and we walk on by.  All the time.  But for right then, I asked Jesus, Who is outside the scope of time, to let me adore Him and let it be for an eternity.  I fly to the heart of Mary, so my adoration will filter through her pure heart and be pleasing to Him.  And just for a moment I push to the side all my damitable pride and through happy tears I give everything there is in me to give.  As I read in the Divine Mercy booklet written by St. Faustina:

Oh, who will comprehend Your love and Your unfathomable mercy toward us!  O Prisoner of Love, I lock up my poor heart in this tabernacle that it may adore You without cease night and day….  I adore You, Lord and Creator, hidden in the Blessed Sacrament.  I adore You for all the works of Your hands, that reveal to me so much wisdom, and goodness and mercy…. My Lord and Creator, Your goodness encourages me to converse with You.  Your mercy causes the chasm which separates the Creator from the creature to disappear.  To converse with You, O Lord, is the delight of my heart.  In You I find everything that my heart could desire.  Here Your light illumines my mind, enabling it to know You more and more deeply.  Here streams of graces flow down upon my heart.  Here my soul draws eternal life.      
The beautiful rock shores around Lake Porte.

Monday, February 24, 2014

February 24, 2014- St. Monica, Pray for Us!

            This is week eleven of eighteen in my official training schedule.  The second half is by far harder than the first, each week I stack on a few more miles.  I have been consistently hitting the treadmill for my Monday runs as I can absolutely feel the difference- it is touted to offer thirty percent less impact on the body than running on the pavement.  I think that is true, and it is a Godsend because my body is still fighting back from long run Saturday.
            I ran my four with the hill workout while watching Downton Abbey once again.  I also did my core workout, but cut out the squats with weights and just concentrated on the wall sits for the quad work.  It was much better on my knee. 
            Another blue kind of day- they are forecasting another round of polar vortex-type weather this week.  Yippee.  I cleaned the house including the bathrooms (pat pat pat) and decided to take some time off and read a little; my new copy of From the Housetops came in the mail.  This booklet, put out by the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is one I have been getting for years.  Very conservative publication.  The featured saint for this issue is St. Monica, patron saint of mothers.
Mr. Professional Photobomber slinking in on my shot of the booklet.

            While I pretty much know the life of St. Monica, it was really good to learn more, especially since I can so ardently relate to her sorrows right now in my life.  She wept and prayed for twenty years for the conversion of her son, St. Augustine.  She never gave up and her persistent prayer was heard by God.
            Reading about her on one hand makes me feel recharged in my efforts for my own children, most especially my oldest daughter, but on the other I ring my hands that I am not praying, not sacrificing enough for the souls of my children.  If I get too focused on that subject, however, it will honestly rip my heart out!  There is absolutely nothing, and I mean nothing that is more important in this world for me, there is no mission that defines my life more than the salvation of my children’s souls.  I know most mothers feel the same way.
            I can hear my mother now, as she too grieved for the spiritual welfare of her sons, “Heaven will not be heaven if one of my children is not with me.” And also, so many times she would say as she lived her life in the trenches, “Someday I will go before God and He will ask me to account for how I raised my children.  Did I raise them to know, love, and serve Him?  I want to tell Him yes Lord; I did not lose a single one.”   
            But our world is so loud!  The lure of worldly things is so overwhelming, from all sides the hounds of hell pursue!  How can God’s still, quiet voice be heard over the chaos of self-seeking liberalism and a false definition of what love is, what real truth is?  Our modern generation is so “enlightened” and so much wiser than the old-fashioned silliness of our parents.  And so my daughter doesn’t go to church anymore.  She doesn’t call, she rarely communicates with us (well, unless she needs something).  She is young and striving for independence, I know- and that can be good.  But I fret over her strength to stand up for her faith, to be that light for Christ in making right decisions. 
              Thanks ONLY to the grace of God, these reminders only make me roll up my sleeves more and get to work.  The devil is trying really hard to make me think that it is a waste of my time:  Her life is fine; it really isn’t that big a deal.  I over-think too much.  A little sin is not going to matter.  Quit being such a goody goody.  Embracing crosses is useless, why burden myself with them when it really won’t make that much of a difference.
            There are so many levels of hurt and rejection that have been heaped on over the years in this relationship.  But I tell ya, if anything or anyone is going to get me to say yes to the cross, it is this.  It is her.  I say yes, and I only pray that God gives me the strength, the fortitude, the love to battle with even the smallest of slivers that pop up in my journey of ordinary holiness.    
            Help me Lord!  Sanctify me!  Give me the strength to do all that You have created me to do.  I say yes, and I thank you with a full heart for the grace to say it, for my forth reason: for all those you have given me to love…