Tag Archives: God’s plan

This Little Light of Mine

It’s been a long road. I kept telling myself that over and over, and somewhere along the way I got tired of hearing myself say it — first joking about it, then realizing how true it’s been. Then I started to think about just how exhausted I was — dragging myself around with a leg that didn’t move well, even though the femoral nerve was pretty much back, and learning that the cancer in my pelvis was now debilitating my hip and it created a stress fracture. The pain was getting worse. When did it all change so quickly? So it begins again…………..

I looked to God for the answers. I talked to him everyday, all the time, like he was with me, like I always did — but where was he, I couldn’t hear him anymore? I felt… hopeless. Whoa, what is going on? I completely trust God. I focused on that, but somehow, I don’t know I believed it anymore. He wasn’t answering my prayers. Okay, so his plan and mine aren’t meshing right now — I get all of that, but it was making me very sad. I prayed for God to send me light.

I knew that somewhere along this long road, I had to recharge the light inside of me. I was always so full of positive light in everything I did — always living large. That light got me through some of the darkest moments without ever losing faith or hope over the past 15 years. As disappointing as it is that I have to deal with this again, it had to still be inside of me.

Green trees with the glorious sunshine.

Green trees with the glorious sunshine.

When I was a kid, I would love to lay on my back and look up through the trees, at the stars shining like diamonds in the sky, under the Christmas tree with all it’s twinkling lights, or at the clouds on a blue-sky kind of day. Debbie and I used play a game — who could find the best shape in the clouds. There was always a dog. A face. The mane of a wild stallion. Maybe a cross. Or a streak of light breaking through the clouds. I used to pretend that streak of light would break out of the sky and shine directly on us from the Heavens. Hmmm. It had been a long time, but I decided to meditate and take myself back to our grassy front yard on a puffy cloudy, warm and sunny day to imagine this exact scenario. Only now Debbie and I are adults, but we still see some of the same things. I focused on the streak of light and imagined the light coming from Heaven into my body. I would send some to Debbie too, because she was fighting her own battle. Then I prayed, “God send us light.”

The plan came sometime in late February that we would genetically test my tumor cells. You’ve probably heard about that kind of stuff, but do you really know anyone who’s been through that? So regardless of my condition, it gave me something to be excited about! Well, the process was delayed by three weeks with an administrative error, but I eventually got the testing and the results, and there was a new drug — a targeted bio-agent that would kill my cancer cells. There were actually four, which I hear is fantastic, but only two had been approved by the FDA and my doctor sent both to my insurance company for approval. In the meantime, one of my other doctors did a cryoablation to help get rid of some of the pain I was having. About the same time, I got the news that the bio-drug was approved by my insurance company. We finally had a treatment plan!!! I thanked God for he was unveiling his plan, while continuing to pray. I had to wait three more weeks to start the treatments. This new drug would only “target” my cancer cells and not touch many of my normal ones, therefore there would be very little side effects and no hair loss. I was starting to shine.

One morning I woke up and the sun was coming in from the window in the bathroom on the back of the house. We have these nifty dual view honeycomb shades — you can pull them down from the top and a more sheer fabric appears, while still blacking out the bottom. We keep all the blinds in the bedroom and bathroom about 12″ from the top so we get a lot of natural light into the rooms. Well, that morning the sun was so intense, it shone through the sheer fabric and directly hit the large statue I have of Mother Mary that sits on my dresser — she stands about 22″ tall, looking down with her hands outward. And that light shone across her tiny hands and belly. I couldn’t believe it. I imagined the light was coming from Mary’s hands to me and I prayed, “Mother Mary, send me light.” Things were getting better. This was a sign. I was shining brighter!

All it really takes is a little morsel of some happy news in the right direction to put me on top of the world. If that happens, you can’t bring me down. I had my worst and best day this past Tuesday, in that order, and ever since then, this little light of mine, shines once again. I had gone to the hospital to have my blood work done — something I have to do every week during treatment. I had planned to take myself, but for some reason, the pain in my hip and leg was greater than it ever had been. This had me worried, but it didn’t matter at that very moment, I had an appointment at 9 am, so my sister took me. After my blood was drawn, my nurse took my temperature and blood pressure, and said, “Pam, do you have a fever?” It was reading 100.3°. I was like, huh? Yes, I mean, I’ve been having low-grade fevers all weekend, I’m not surprised. I promised her if it reached 100.5°, I would call my doctor.

Well, I got home later than planned, and my digital manager,  Jen and I had a call at 10:30. So I rushed in and up the stairs  — it’s like being in slow motion with my crutches and the pain! — Jen and I wrapped up in 15 minutes, because I could barely stay awake for the call. My eyes were so heavy — I could not stop it — something was pulling me to sleep. Pulling me… I woke up with a jump, completely soaked from head to toe, like I had taken a shower. Wow, it was so strange. So, so, so strange. I stood up, I had no pain. No fever. What had just happened to me? It was a sign. And today, my tears were happy ones.

God heals in unexpected ways — maybe it’s just some relief from the pain for a few days while I go through the process, or less anxiety as God speaks to my mind to tell me it’s going to be okay. While this journey is way too long in my opinion, I am following his plan for me.  Today I send light to all of you, my friends and family who have prayed tirelessly for me over the past few months. This too shall end, and nobody looks forward to that day more than me.

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine. Ohhh, this little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine. This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine. Let it shine. Let it shine. Let it shine.

Always B E L I E V E !

Serve God joyfully. Let there be no sadness in your life: the only true sorrow is sin.
— Thirsting for God by Mother Teresa

Not a Care in the World

Well, the season for Pittsburgh Steelers is officially over. It was fun, and we can thank the Steelers for giving us a couple of extra weeks to celebrate. I was most impressed by a few Steelers who showed us what you can do if you put your mind to it, fighting through the pain of injuries. They’re an inspiration to us all.

What a difference between the two playoff games the Steelers played in. The first was the Pittsburgh Steelers against the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals were mean, spiteful and angry football players — just a poor example of bad sportsmanship for us all to see. As the game went on, they played dirty with unnecessary late hits, taking out not only our quarterback, but our best wide receiver — he ended up unconscious with a concussion. And the player who hurt both these players was just so proud and boastful — it was abominable. When Ben Roethlisberger, our quarterback, was wheeled off the field, the Cincy fans were cheering and some of them threw things at him. I never saw such a disgusting display of poor behavior. I honestly think very poorly of Cincinnati right now.

I don’t normally pray for outcomes of football games. But this is one game that I prayed to God that we would be victorious, because it was just not right that the behavior they displayed was rewarded with a win. And then there was an incredible turn of events, as the Steelers were moved down the field to score the win. It was not only unbelievable — it was miraculous.

Steelers Party Selfie (at Peters' Pub)

Steelers Party Selfie (at Peters’ Pub)

What a difference one week makes. The Steelers played the Denver Broncos this past weekend. While we lost the game, the team and fans showed respectful sportsmanship. And I can circle back around to Big Ben, who played his heart out with a painful shoulder injury. It’s the first time in his career that he took a shot for the pain to get through the game. That’s an inspiration to me.

I live my life everyday with managed pain in my hip and pelvis. Some days it’s hard to get out of bed. But then my mind starts running through all the things I have to do that day. It still takes me two hours to get ready, and that’s rushing — being on crutches is just not easy in the morning. I’ve never been a morning person, and now I’m getting up at 6 am! I set the alarm an hour before, because I take some pain medicine, so I can actually get up at 6 am. My daily responsibilities are endless and many people count on me. Some days I dream that I’m snowed in with my husband in a little cabin in the middle of nowhere with the fireplace crackling. I think of it all the time. I have not a care in the world.

But, then I volunteer for everything I can, make time to spend with friends and family, talk to my Mom often during the week and find time for my husband. Life is too short to do any less.

So, always keep the faith and believe that God truly does have a plan for you. I may not always understand the plan I’m on, but I still believe. And for each of the Pittsburgh Steelers, well, somehow the nastiness that goes on with their sport is all part of each God’s plan for them.

Complete Trust in God
Do not look forward to the trials and crosses of this life with dread and fear. Rather, look to them with full confidence that, as they arise, God, to whom you belong, will deliver you from them.

He has guided and guarded you thus far in life. Do you but hold fast to his dear hand, and he will lead you safely through all trials. Whenever you cannot stand, he will carry you lovingly in his arms.

Do not look forward to what may happen tomorrow. The same Eternal Father who cares for you today will take good care of you tomorrow and everyday of your life. Either he will shield you from suffering or he will give you the unfailing strength to bear it.

Be at peace then and put aside all useless thoughts, vain dreads, and anxious imaginations.

Always B E L I E V E !

BELIEVE there is good in the world

Dear Megan

God has a plan for you, my beautiful, smart and extremely talented niece. I knew it from the very minute you came into this world. There you were at the Medical Center in Beaver, PA wrapped in my arms with a little cap on your gorgeous little head — I fell in love with you at that very moment. And then your grandma said, “look at all her hair,” and pulled the little cap off and there fell three or four inches of fine brown hair. Just precious. You changed my life at that very moment.

I spent almost every night at your house for the first six months of your life. I think your dad was probably sick of seeing me, but your mom would hand you to me and then go wash her floors or do laundry or other things. She was happy I was there. I would feed you and play with you — I couldn’t get enough of you — you just loved to snuggle in my arms. You fit there so perfectly. I used to look down at you while I fed you your bottle and talk to you about where life would take you. And dream about all the things God had planned for you, my tiny niece.

And then you were baptized and as your Godmother, I made a promise to always take care of you, keep you safe and teach you about our Catholic faith. Staying true to your faith will guide you and comfort you as you begin your new journey. And with every difficult decision you encounter along the way, find a quiet place and talk it over with God. He will give you the right answer. Always believe, Megan. Always believe deep inside of you that God will protect you and guide you. God has something wonderful planned for you.

I was there for so many of your firsts, Megan. Your first steps, your first words. Your first tears and your first giggles. You used to giggle at so many things — especially your little dog Barney. Or your bouncy chair. You were a beautiful, perfect baby — with big spiral curls and the bluest, most curious eyes. Even as you got older — I was there to see your accomplishments, awards, ceremonies and recognitions. I am so proud of you, Megan. I’m so thankful that I was able to experience so many of your firsts.

Your Mom and I took you everywhere. We would go to the mall on the weekends. I remember one trip to the mall where I bumped your head by accident on one of the metal clothing stands in Lazarus department store. You screamed and cried, and I took you outside of Lazarus inside the mall where we sat by the water fountain. I cried with you, because I hurt you. I remember holding you close and rubbing the little red mark on your head. I told you I was sorry and you smiled. I’ll never forget that. I’ve learned over the years that forgiveness is so important. Everybody makes mistakes and everybody learns from those mistakes. You have to forgive and move on and remember that most people are really good inside and want to do the right thing. Always give everyone the benefit of the doubt. You won’t regret that.

I believed more than anything that God sent you to us at the very moment in life when you were needed here. My dad, your grandpa or “Pappy Bob” was sick and you were that gem in his day that made all the difference, Megan. The relationship the two of you had was simply endearing — you would run to him, giggling and he would have a smile from ear to ear. Those moments and all the moments between you and my dad simply touched my heart. If you’re ever feeling alone or sad, just think about how special you are — you made such a difference in so many lives. And God’s plan for you is still unfolding!

I wish you would have known my dad the way we all did. He was a man of great faith who knew what was important in life. He could do anything he set his mind to and he taught all of us that. Dad’s advice was the best kind. He knew what the right answer was and was our guide. You and I got our talents from him. And today I believe he is your guide as you embark on this next chapter in your life. He’s looking down on you and is so, so, so proud of that little baby he knew for such a short time. Pappy Bob would sing to you all the time, “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy when skies are gray. You never know dear how much I love you, please don’t take my sunshine away.” You gave him a reason to love life when life was dishing him lemons. It was you who changed his life.

So I watched you grow up into an amazing woman who is talented in so many ways. My dad always told me that if you do something in life with the talents God gave you, you would be so happy and fulfilled. You are a baker, a decorator, a designer. You are an artist, a painter, and a masterpiece creator. You have an incredible imagination that helps you dream big and your creativity is endless. You chose the right field of study — architecture. You’ll soon be immersed in a whole new world of textures, fabrics, upcycled, recycled, reclaimed, metals, woods, natural stones and countless other materials for fabrication. You’ll learn about the history of furniture and styles — what’s new, what’s old and what’s to come. And I’m going to be that pesky aunt who wants to know everything about coming.

Dream big, Megan. I believe you can do anything you put your mind to. Dream big for yourself and for those who matter in your life. Get a dream book and write down 100 dreams you have for yourself. That’s right. At least 100. You can write them, list them, draw them, doodle them. Take your dream book everywhere you go. Make notes and date them. Add to your book. Cross of things as you accomplish them. And find ways to make new ones come true. Don’t ever stop dreaming, Megan. Dreams will help you live life to the fullest. And, it will be interesting to see where your dreams today take you and what your dreams look like 10 years from now.

Love with all your heart. “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 1 Corinthians 12:4-7. This Bible passage is something I read at least once a week, especially if I’m upset about something. Whenever you’re annoyed with someone else or a situation, just read these words and know that if you believe in these words, the situation will just fall apart and go away. Try it! It really works.

Be the good in the world. And believe there is good in the world. That’s my best advice, my most favorite quote. Believe there is good in the world, because there is. And you have the opportunity to Be the Good by your actions and what you do. Your kindness already touches those around you. You are so smart and caring — you’re beautiful inside and out. Your smile is so genuine and the way you show respect to those around you is admirable. Goodness oozes from within you, Megan. And goodness is contagious! You’ll attract others just like you who believe they can make the world a better place for everyone.

God has a plan for you, Megan. It’s just starting to unfold before us. I sit here and think about how much you’ve grown up and how much I love you. We would have said, “I love you big piles!” when you were two years old. The answer is still “big piles!” I can’t help but wonder where life is going to take you. Get on that ride of life and hold on tight. Never let go and always climb higher. I believe anything is possible, Megan. And I’m anxious to watch as you move into the next chapter of yours, ready to experience more of your firsts that are yet to come.

Always  B E L I E V E !

Love,
Aunt Pam

My nieces

My beautiful nieces. Megan is on the left and Tara on my right.

 

 

I Give It Up

Thursday is my CT Scan. It was supposed to be last week, but was moved because my doctor was going away for the holiday. Good for him, he deserves some time away. I’m a little nervous because I’ve been having pain in my leg, in my hip — somewhere that I can’t quite pinpoint for the past month or so. I know I hurt a muscle in it when I twisted my leg to trim my toenails. I had trouble walking for over a week and a half. Thankfully that pain went away.

Yesterday I twisted it again when I fell off the jet ski and my leg was still stuck in the jet ski for a few seconds. I knew I hurt it again. When I finally was able to climb on the boat, my left leg was shaking and weak like it was in shock. It calmed down, but when I got home after sitting in the car for over an hour, I couldn’t put my weight on it to go up the stairs, but I could walk on it. It seemed weak. In the end, though, I have to admit, it was pretty funny — what it must have looked like as I slipped and fell into the freezing water. I can only imagine what anyone who saw it thought about it!

I’m nervous about what may be going on in my pelvis. The pain tells me that the cancer is still a problem. I pray for the right solution to zap this thing once and for all. I hope that my doctor does a major cryoablation like he did in 2012. This one needle zap doesn’t seem to be working holistically. It kills the cells where they zapped, only to have the tumor grow on another side. We need to zap it from all sides and kill it once and for all. And my imagination is running wild. I’ll have pain and when we look at the scan, it’s a very small active area we’re talking about.

I have this worry and fear every three months and my mind makes up all kinds of things. But I remind myself that I trust God’s Plan for me, and I give this worry over to him. So today, I give it up. I’m not giving up. I am giving it up to God.

Always B E L I E V E !

Thinking of Dad with Laughter

Memorial Day — one of my favorite holidays when we remember those who served and those who gave their lives so that we can be free. In Pennsylvania, it’s the official kickoff to summer with a long weekend, usually warmer weather and family cookouts.

Friday, the 22nd was the funeral mass of a friend’s wife. I had never met her, but I knew about her illness as I talked about it with him. She had an aggressive form of cancer and he had asked me about mine. I prayed for her often and for peace for her family. I lit a candle for her when I heard about her cancer and then again when I heard she had passed away. I had no idea until I attended the mass just how much faith they had.

Thursday evening I was apprehensive about attending, because she was only five years older than me, and I was worried that I might be pensive the rest of the weekend. I couldn’t have been more wrong about that. In fact, I was inspired. I know that is an odd thing to say after leaving a funeral mass. I felt the same way when my Dad passed away and we left his funeral mass. It’s because I believed! I remember belting out “On Eagle’s Wings” as we left the church, and I knew in that moment that my Dad was with God!

Their family believed. During the eulogy, he told us their story — that they put all their faith and trust in God that he would make her well — but they knew if he didn’t that it was his Will. And either way it was a win-win situation for her. His faith was simple and beautiful. And he believed that everything came with a lesson and was teaching them something. He smiled and laughed — and he had peace, as did the rest of their family. As we sang “On Eagle’s Wings” as we left church, I thought of my Dad. Saturday was the anniversary of his death — May 23, 2002. It’s been 13 years.

I thought about my Dad all day on Saturday. Tom was servicing the jet ski, because we were taking it out to Shenango Lake on Sunday, even though the water was only 68°. If you’re careful, only your legs get wet — I figured we’d be okay as long as we didn’t fall in. We were going to church at 5 pm at St. Gregory, going out to dinner at the Waterhole after church, and then watching the fireworks show at Cooper’s Lake.

I talk to my Dad all the time, even though he’s not here. I pray for him everyday and then I talk to him. I’d just love to see him smile at me one more time. When I think of him, I remember a very fond memory of him where he is sitting on his bed watching TV and I go into the room and his face lights up — he grins and exclaims, “Pam! What are you up to?” And I jump on the bed next to him and give him a hug. I can recall his face so clearly and the sound of voice. I think of this all the time, because I never want to forget him.

Pyrotechnics at Coopers Lake

Pyrotechnics at Coopers Lake.

As we waited for the fireworks to start, I was thinking of how appropriate to watch fireworks on this day, because Dad loved a good fireworks show. We couldn’t hear the music during the fireworks, but I imagined something patriotic — in memory of Dad.

Sunday we headed out to the lake. Tom got up early and waxed the jet ski, because it was looking a little dirty and sun-faded from last year. That turned out to be a big mistake!!!

We met up with my brother Tommy and his fiancé, Gretchen and her son Sam who were already on the boat. After cruising around a bit, Tom and I went out on the jet ski for a couples ride. We didn’t do that often, because it’s not as fun with the extra weight on the jet ski. When we went back to the boat so Tom could get off, Tommy wanted to take the jet ski out with Gretchen. So we both decided to get off. And that’s when it happened.

Memorial Day on Shenango Lake.

Memorial Day on Shenango Lake.

Somehow Tom leaned the wrong way when I was supposed to get off and the jet ski started to tip, but as I tried to counter balance, my foot slipped on the side of the jet ski and boom — I was in the water before I knew what hit me. I twisted my bad leg and I’m not sure what I’ve done to it (I can’t put any weight on it when I go up the stairs). Tom also fell in — we were lucky that neither of us hit our head or were injured any worse. Tom’s leg was also stuck sideways in the jet ski.

Well after this fiasco, Gretchen and Sam no longer wanted to go on the jet ski. I told them that I have never fallen in — because that has never happened to me! Thanks Tom for waxing it and creating a super slippery surface. In the shock of what happened, I never even felt the 68° water temperature. So, after talking Gretchen and Sam into going, Gretchen starts to climb on the jet ski as Tommy is already seated on it and she slips on the super slippery surface and before you know it — she’s in the water too.

We got the biggest laugh about it on the way home. It was hysterical, and I wish we could have been on one of the boats around us. I’m sure they got a good laugh at our expense. These are the kinds of things that happened when we used to go boating with Dad. Despite my new injury, it was a great day. And I hope my Dad got a good laugh with us.

Always B E L I E V E !

Ordinary Opportunities

Today is Good Friday. I’ve looked back my Lenten plans from February 15. My goal was to identify the road blocks in my life that impede God’s plan for me, and I outlined steps I could take to let go of things from my past. Today, those are complete and this is the first Lenten season that I spent time in prayer and meditation with God daily.

I wanted to share one last video post from Matthew Kelly. It’s message is truly inspiring. I wish everyone a very Blessed Easter and lots of opportunity.

Opportunity

 ALWAYS  B E L I E V E !

In Search of Happiness

This prayer came through as part of my message today for Lent from Matthew Kelly at Dynamic Catholic. It’s just beautiful and what a great prayer for the start of this week. It came with the message that you can only find happiness within God’s plan for your life. I believe in God’s plan, as he has guided both Tom and me on our journey together. This week I will look for happiness.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time, accepting hardships as the pathway to peace, taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it, trusting that you will make all things right, if I current to your will, so that I may be reasonably happy in this life, and supremely happy with you forever in the next. Amen.
The Serenity Prayer

And yesterday, part of Matthew’s message was that “it is Jesus you seek when you dream of happiness…it is he who urges you to shed the masks of a false life; it is he who reads in your heart your most genuine choices, the choices that others try to stifle…the courage to commit yourselves humbly and patiently to improving yourselves and society…”
St. Pope John Paul II

Yes, only God truly knows what is deep within my heart. Tom comes in a close second, but there’s just no way he can know everything. God does know how I struggle in this life from a moral standpoint with what’s going on in this crazy world — and how much I hide my true feelings so I can blend in easier — gosh that never used to be who I was! Somewhere along the way, I decided I needed to blend in.

Back when Matthew Kelly challenged me to think about what I was resisting in order to move forward, it had come to me that I seriously needed to let go of some things that I was holding onto. Some of these things are the same things that have caused me to close myself off and not be so forthright and trusting — I became so serious. So as part of my Lenten journey, I am letting go and I am choosing happiness. Watch out world, Pam Miller Peters is getting her mojo back. And I’m excited to be who I am in all ways, even if I don’t blend in.

Always B E L I E V E !

The Journey Forward

Today I officially got to see the good news for myself — in glorious black and white images on the computer screen — scans that showed even more improvement. My doctor told me that I am the official poster child for Cryoablasion success. He tells me he’s used my scans for talks throughout this past six months on alternative treatment methods. My doctor is one amazing and creative physician whose passion for healing is profound!

I had actually got the good news via voicemail last Friday before we left for Ellicottville, NY. There was no way I could go on that trip without the results of the scan I had done earlier in the week. Dr. Goodman had left a message saying “…I am just WOWED about the way they [the scans] look. Everything looks GRAND!…” He followed up with another call when we got back and told me that the results were just incredible.

Thanks to everyone for all your prayers over the past year. The power of prayer is truly amazing. I believe that this journey comes from God, and I am learning something from it — as well as all those who know me. I may not understand everything in this lifetime, but I know I will one day. I trust God completely and today thank him for my healing.

Always B E L I E V E !

Complete Trust in God
Do not look forward to the trials and crosses of this life with dread and fear. Rather, look to them with full confidence that, as they arise, God, to whom you belong, will deliver you from them.

He has guided and guarded you thus far in life. Do you but hold fast to his dear hand, and he will lead you safely through all trials. Whenever you cannot stand, he will carry you lovingly in his arms.

Do not look forward to what may happen tomorrow. The same Eternal Father who cares for you today will take good care of you tomorrow and everyday of your life. Either he will shield you from suffering or he will give you the unfailing strength to bear it.

Be at peace then and put aside all useless thoughts, vain dreads, and anxious imaginations.

Perfectly-timed


Another successful Christmas party! As Tom is scraping cooked-on pasta and other burnt nuggets off my crockpots, I thought I’d write an update. We had a fantastic party today to wrap up the Christmas festivities at the Peters’ house. It’s been a busy week of traveling and visiting, eating and drinking — as well as a week of reflection, prayers and blessings.

The week started with a call from my cousin, Kathie on Christmas Eve. My Uncle Frank was rushed to the hospital, awaiting immediate surgery. We sent prayers and I said a Chaplet to St. Jude before we finished the lasagna for Christmas Eve dinner. I also got word to my brother Bob so that he could join us in good thoughts and prayers for a successful surgery. My Mom and I lit candles for him at Christmas Eve mass in both our parishes. We got word after mass that the two-hour surgery took double the time, but was successful. Now the healing would begin. So we continue our prayers for Uncle Frank, as he’ll be in the hospital a bit longer.

Not long after I finished preparing the lasagna, I got a text from Gert. Our dear friend, Ronnie’s sister Rose had been rushed to Presby Hospital with a feared brain aneurysm the evening before. They didn’t expect her to live through the day. I didn’t know that she had passed away until I talked to Ronnie’s friends at Christmas Eve mass, as I was lighting candles for my Uncle Frank, my Dad and Rose.

As I prayed in church, I tried to make sense as to why Ronnie and Marg would have to lose Rose on Christmas Eve. You would always see the three of them in the last row at the 5 pm Saturday evening mass with their other friends. I got to know Ronnie and Marg well over the years as they never missed St. Gregory Super Bingo. And Ronnie had been coming our Christmas Eve parties for quite a few years. My heart went out to her as I heard how hard they were all taking it. Rose was the youngest of them at 81 years old.

And then there was a little bit of fate that evening or maybe it was a little Christmas magic. I hadn’t served as a Eucharistic Minister for a couple of years. Both Tom and I stopped serving shortly after my brother Bob left our parish. My heart just wasn’t in it any longer. Anyways, Sister Patricia had asked me if they needed me to serve if I would mind helping them. I told her I had never served with Father Larry, but if they needed me to please wave me to come up. So there was all kinds of confusion, but it was obvious they needed my help — so after climbing over everyone (the mass was unbelievably packed), I helped give out communion on the side next to the organist.

It just so happens that my line got backed up as people waited for the wine, and I had about 15 seconds to stand there waiting for it to move. And, it got stopped right at my friend, Dona (who also works at MarketSpace), who happens to be good friends with Ronnie. I had wondered when I saw her in mass if she knew about Rose. So I mentioned it to her in line. She didn’t know. Dona text me later on Christmas Eve to thank me, as her family had stopped by to see Ronnie after mass. We couldn’t believe how all the little pieces fell into place — so perfectly-timed — it felt like I served only to get a message to Dona in line in that few seconds. Somehow I imagined that maybe Ronnie had some added comfort that evening on this holy night. And amid a terribly-timed loss, maybe there was a bit of perfectly-timed love.

I reflected on that as I said my prayers that evening. I thought that while we were celebrating good cheer this year, there will always be those that are deeply hurting. And maybe somehow that hurt is perfectly-timed. I fell asleep believing that “God truly does have a plan for us all.”

At church last night, Father Gallagher talked about an eight-year old little girl from Reading, PA who had made national news. I had already read the story online, but the way he told it — in his wonderful tug at your heart strings way — it was difficult not to break down and sob. The story is about Delaney “Laney” Brown who was diagnosed with Leukemia in the spring. None of her treatments had worked and she grew very ill this past month. With only days to live, she had only one Christmas request — to hear the sounds of Christmas. And on December 21st, between 6,000 and 8,000 people surrounded her home and sung Christmas carols so loudly that Laney could hear them inside her bedroom. She couldn’t get out of bed, but posted a picture to Facebook with thumbs up and said, “I can hear you now!! Love you!”

She died on Christmas morning. While other children her age were gleefully rejoicing in their gifts that Santa Claus had brought, Laney had passed away. I can only imagine the sorrow in that home — on Christmas day! I couldn’t recite the Creed. No words would come from my mouth. I think if I tried to produce a sound, it would have been a sob — thinking about what a heart-wrenching story. And then I thought that maybe it was as it was supposed to be. She was no longer sick — she was with the angels in Heaven. And she was having Christmas like no other child would have it this year. These are the moments we must have faith — we must believe. For as we have faith, we trust that everything is part of God’s plan for each one of us. We won’t know what gifts Laney left behind for those who loved her. She was part of God’s plan for them.

So today was our Christmas party, our celebration of my good health, as last Christmas I was in the hospital. Today was Ronnie’s birthday — she is 86. And Rose’s viewing at the funeral home. My Mom and I went to the funeral home before our party began — and Ronnie and her daughter, Chris joined us in celebration between the viewing hours. It took Ronnie’s mind off of things — even if just for a few hours. She had the chance to laugh, eat, drink and be merry amidst her day of loss. And today, we cracked open our expensive bottle of ice wine from Sheldrake Point Winery in the Finger Lakes, NY and we toasted to a year of continued health.

So as we hear these sad stories at Christmastime, we hug our families a little more tightly this year. We tell them we love them maybe one more time than we would have. We count our blessings. For they all come from God and are perfectly-timed.

Always B E L I E V E .

Pope Francis Consecrates Immaculate Heart of Mary

Immaculate Heart of Mary

Immaculate Heart of Mary

So today, October 13th, the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima, Pope Francis consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, as part of the celebration of the Year of Faith. Thousands of faithful Christians made the pilgrimage to the Vatican for this event. The statue of Our Lady of Fatima arrived in Rome yesterday and an all-night vigil watched over her. Today, Pope Francis consecrated the Immaculate Heart of Mary to the world.

Pope Francis offered prayers for peace and let the entire world know of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, who we all should emulate to be.

I’ve joined in this online novena prayers group — PrayMoreNovenas.com. I really like this devotional as everyday I get a prayer emailed to me. It only takes a few minutes, I shut my door at work and pray with more than 63,000 other Believers. Today, we just finished a nine-day novena, leading up to the Marian consecration as a way to celebrate this event with the Pope. It was our goal to join in unity with the Holy Father in preparation.

We look to Mary, the Mother of our Lord, as the first Christian and the model of holiness. The novena we prayed and the Pope’s consecration presented profound opportunities for us to pray that Jesus may give us the Grace to be more and more like His mother and thus come closer to Him. And I truly believe that anytime we unite together in faith, good things happen in the world. I believe there is nothing that happens by coincidence. God has a plan, and he’s masterfully aligning all of us as his faithful followers to reaffirm, reinvigorate and renew our faith in Catholicism.

Here is the consecration prayer recited by Pope Francis in consecrating the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary (from www.thecalltofatima.wordpress.com):

Holy Mary Virgin of Fatima,
with renewed gratitude for your maternal presence
we join our voice to that of all the generations
who call you blessed.

We celebrate in you the works of God,
who never tires of looking down with mercy
upon humanity, afflicted with the wound of sin,
to heal it and save it.

Accept with the benevolence of a Mother
the act of consecration that we perform today with confidence,
before this image of you that is so dear to us.

We are certain that each of us is precious in your eyes
and that nothing of all that lives in our hearts is unknown to you.
We let ourselves be touched by your most sweet regard
and we welcome the consoling caress of your smile.

Hold our life in your arms:
bless and strengthen every desire for good;
revive and nourish faith;
sustain and enlighten hope;
awaken and animate charity;
guide all of us along the path of holiness

Teach us your own preferential love
for the little and the poor,
for the excluded and the suffering,
for sinners and the downhearted:
bring everyone under your protection
and entrust everyone to your beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus.

Amen.

You can see a video here of Pope Francis’ Prayer to Our Lady of Fatima with a variation on the translation of the prayer.