Tag Archives: miracles

Miracles Do Happen Everyday

This weekend was my friend, Jen’s baby shower. So back on February 6, I posted that “miracles happen everyday,” and I had a secret. Well, the secret has long been out that Jen and her husband Mikey were having a baby. And while a baby is always a miracle — for Jen and Mikey — it was a long time coming. I was overjoyed at the news — and just as much overjoyed when she told me they were having a baby girl. A daughter. A sweet, precious little girl. Sigh…..

The shower was nice, because I got to sit at a table with old acquaintances — two from my previous employer and two who have left MarketSpace within the last year. And it didn’t take long for one these friends to tell me about the last few years and her bout with ovarian cancer. I didn’t know — and it wasn’t like Jen to gossip, especially when it involved something personal with someone she cared about. She went on to tell me her story — about her surgery and how she went through chemo treatments for an entire year — completely clean and cancer free after that time. But then there was a scare recently where spots showed up in her abdomen on her CT scan. It would mean treatments directly to her abdomen. It meant starting this all over. And I know better than anyone the defeat that comes with this kind of news. The defeat, the fear, the panic, the resolve, the strength and the courage to move forward. That’s kind of the process that happens within a very short period of time.

She prayed. I wished I had known, because I would have prayed too. She lit candles — and she went to a healing mass with her sister.

I’d be a little timid of a “healing mass” too, as she was when her sister first brought it up. You see it on TV and think, “this is all for show.” But, I believe. My aunt when to a healing mass in South Carolina — with Father Fernando Suarez when she was very sick. She needed to have surgery and we were all praying for her. She went to this healing mass and when Fr. Suarez laid his hands on her, she fainted. Just like the shows you see on TV, she dropped to the ground and they moved her to the side of the stage with others that had also fainted. When she came to quite a bit later, she couldn’t believe she had actually passed out. She had this feeling come over her body that caused her faint. That next week, she went in for her surgery, was prepped and in the operation room when her doctor realized she no longer needed the surgery — a problem that had escalated over two months and there was really no way for it to heal without surgery. When she was brought to from the anesthesia, the doctor talked to her about how this was quite impossible — and she asked him to pray with her — and together they prayed aloud in the recovery room. It was her miracle — her healing miracle from God.

And for my friend, it was the same story. While she didn’t have hands laid upon her, she prayed during the mass — and her sister prayed — and together their faith was so strong, and there were so many prayers offered for the sick — that she had her own miracle. The spots were just gone — and the doctor had no explanation for how that could happen.

I think it’s interesting that she said to me, “I have always believed in miracles — I just didn’t think they could happen to me.” I think we all feel that way. You hear stories and you think it happens to other people. If you truly believe — and you open your heart to the love of God — you can have your own miracles. And not only that, you are rejuvenated by the miracles happening all around you, everyday. You see miracles in the simplest of things and miraculous stories find their way to you. I had no idea I’d walk into Jen’s baby shower and hear about a wonderful miracle.

I sat there as Jen opened her gifts, watching her smile and hold up the cutest little baby girl outfits. She absolutely glowed! This miracle couldn’t have happened to a more wonderful friend — what a great Mother she will be. And next to me sat someone I hadn’t seen in eight years — and she too had her own miracle in that time.

God shows us miracles everyday.  Just  B E L I E V E !

Look for the Signs

BalloonI was talking with a good friend today. He’s worried about his Mother as they’re trying to diagnose if she has cancer, and if not, what she’s suffering from. She’s less than a month away from her 70th birthday. He’s having a couple of his own health issues. He’s suffering from head aches and back spasms. He’s had another MRI to monitor an area of bleeding in his brain. He’s not getting the results — he doesn’t want to give his Mother something else to worry about. He’s going to wait for an entire month so that he can give her an awesome surprise birthday party without the topic focusing on him.

You know I think the hardest part of living with a disease is the constant anxiety that comes with the diagnosis. All the tests, the waiting, the serious nature of the conversations — talking about solutions and options — trying to find your way through new territory. It’s more than scary, and you’re so in tune with the fact that you’re human and your life is so precious. You start thinking of all those people you love and all those things you haven’t done. You’re determined to make a difference, but you feel like you’re running out of time — why had you wasted your time for so many years? It’s really quite overwhelming.

But back to my friend who is always wavering on faith issue, because he’s seen suffering and can’t believe that God would be present. I told him a story tonight about a miracle that happened last year. I think miracles happen to help us B E L I E V E. But you need to look for the signs — and you’ll start to see them everywhere! You need to not think with your reality brain and try to explain it off as something logical. Just for once, think that it’s a miracle that you are being blessed with — you’ll feel so touched by God’s presence.

So the story goes that last year Glenda passed away from her long, long battle with cancer. Glenda was Aunt Helen’s daughter who I mentioned in an earlier post. And after her passing, Glenda’s sister Arlene had brought the items from her hospital room back to Aunt Helen’s home. She had one gift from her niece, Lisa that was a plant with a mylar helium balloon. I may mess up some of the details in this story, but from what I recall, Aunt Helen and Arlene released the balloon by setting it free outside of Aunt Helen’s home and watched it fly into the sky until it could be seen no longer. It was truly a symbol that represented them letting go and releasing Glenda to Heaven. And then they went on with their day.

The next day, Glenda’s sister Nancy was about 10 miles from Aunt Helen’s home where they released the balloon the day before. She had Aunt Helen with her and they were stopped at the intersection of Rt. 51 and Rt. 168 when Glenda’s mylar balloon landed on the hood of their car as they sat at the stop sign. And they gasp and watched it drift up and over their car and off into the distance once again. They were certain it was Glenda’s balloon. They looked at each other and knew that Glenda was the only one who could have made that happen. And they called it a miracle. Glenda was saying goodbye and that she was happy and joyous. And with that miracle, Nancy and Aunt Helen were also just as happy and joyous. And it gave them hope for what eternity holds for us. And it spreads that hope through all of us who believe.

Okay so let’s look at it logically. Sure, we could probably say that the balloon had to have gotten stuck in tree overnight, even after it went way into the sky. Okay, so it came back down, probably because of some scientific reason that helium becomes less at greater heights or something. And it got caught in a tree about 10 minutes from Aunt Helen’s house and remained there overnight and into the next day. And just at the very moment that Nancy and Aunt Helen were sitting at the intersection, the balloon was miraculously freed from the tree and floating down on the hood of the car — and then woosh, back up into the sky. Coincidence? What are the chances?

Look for signs in your life that will help you make sense of the hard moments in your life. You’ll be surprised at the signs all around you. And maybe even among those signs, you’ll be blessed with a miracle that you can’t wave it off as a coincidence.

“I Have Seen Many Miracles”

The title of tonight’s blog is my favorite quote from Aunt Helen’s daughters at her funeral tonight. I had the chance to talk to Arlene, Nancy and Elaine about all the things that Aunt Helen experienced the last few days leading up to her passing. I had posted earlier that this side of my family was very superstitious and had many stories of an unexplainable nature. Tonight was no exception.

Aunt Helen was on pain medication during her last week, but she was still of sound mind as she knew all those who came to visit. She would comment on things she was seeing that nobody else could see — Nancy was sure that Aunt Helen had been visited by all those who passed. Skeptics would probably say that it was the morphine causing her mind to conjure up these illusions. The night before she passed, she woke up, completely lucid and told Nancy, “I have seen many miracles.” Nancy asked her what she meant and she closed her eyes and drifted back to sleep.

I had never heard of anyone saying those words as the day drew near for their passing. I’ve been thinking about it all night. I believe that maybe she saw those who had passed — and that alone was miraculous. Or maybe she saw the future and saw miracles happening all around us. Or maybe she saw something even greater — maybe she saw Heaven and all the Saints and Jesus himself. We may never know until that day comes when we are welcomed into Heaven.

The Zombecks are Reunited

Heaven_soarMy Mom called around lunch time today. We’ve been catching up on Saturdays ever since she’s been working all week at the township building — she’s too tired to talk in the evenings. Hopefully her replacement will be trained soon as she officially retired December 31st!

Anyways, she called to let me know that Aunt Helen passed away this morning. She had been sick for about a month and about three weeks ago, she left the hospital to stay with her daughter, Nancy. Aunt Helen was my grandma’s youngest sister and the last of the Zombeck siblings — there were seven of them. She died at the age of 90. And my Mom was sad, but she was very happy that all of them were together again. She told me that Aunt Helen had been seeing things all week. Arlene (another one of Aunt Helen’s daughters) told my Mom that on Thursday evening she was calling out, “Laura, Laura, Laura…,” who was my grandma. She had passed peacefully with all of her children around her. And I know my grandma was there to greet her if not the angel that carried her to Heaven.

Aunt Helen was seven years younger than my grandma. What I remember most about her was that she was so beautiful. Even at age 80, she looked to be no older than 60, and her face was always so perfectly made up and wrinkle-free. Her hair was always blonde, and she never let it go to white like my grandma. I remember as a child when I learned she was my grandma’s sister that I couldn’t imagine it — she looked just so much younger — more like her daughter. She was polish through and through and spent Saturday evenings at the dance hall, dancing the polka all night long, drinking beer. Yes, the Zombeck women were beer-drinkers all the way. Aunt Helen always wore bright red lipstick every week to church. As she got older, the lipstick was not always on her lips — I guess she should have put her reading glasses on to apply her lipstick! She belonged to St. Rose of Lima, and we saw her often, sitting in the back on Saturday evenings.

My grandma and Aunt Helen looked the most alike, but you could tell that Aunt Annie was their sister too. Aunt Annie had passed in 1993, Aunt Celia in 1999,  my grandma in 2008 and now today, Aunt Helen. They were all crazy little polish women with giggles that matched their somewhat broken English. It’s the way they emphasized their words… Pam would be spoken as Paaa-am, and Carol (my Mom) would be Kaaay-roll. They came from Poland and their parents were unable to speak English well, so the children had a limited vocabulary. The brothers were the same.

All of Zombecks were very superstitious. My grandma and her sisters would quote superstitions to us all the time, “don’t do this…oooooooo — Paaa-am, don’t do that…,” my grandma would say. My Dad called them “all the crazies,” but I was fascinated by it. To this day, I remember all those superstitions and “don’t do that, ever.” They could see spirits and talk to loved ones that had passed. There were always so many miracles in the family, and they shared them with all of us that believe — even miracles when Glenda passed away last year. A few of us have some of those gifts, more so than others. When I was younger, some things happened that scared me, and I learned how to block it out. And I truly believe that the Zombeck women were very gifted women and not “the crazies.” My cousin, Barbara, Aunt Annie’s daughter is one of those with the gift. When I see her at the funeral on Monday, I know she will have talked to Aunt Helen, even though she lives in Erie, PA, two hours away. She will have known that Aunt Helen passed before anyone called to tell her.

Aunt Helen was absolutely the caregiver of the family. When my grandma was in the nursing home, she visited her several days a week if not all seven. When her daughter, Glenda was sick with cancer and living in a more permanent hospice facility, she visited her every single day, even during bad weather for more than a year. When Glenda came home, Aunt Helen nursed her every day. When my Mom had her heart attack, she was the first one at the hospital and visited every day. And this was for all of the family — she was there for everyone. She gave of herself freely and her time, and her heart was full of love for all those she knew. She lived a humble life with simple, yet deep faith.

Tonight as Tom and I went to Communion, they played “On Eagles Wings,” and I smiled at Tom. For this song represents those of who have passed in our families. And I knew at that moment that Aunt Helen had made it safely to the other side, where she is dancing the polka with her sisters and drinking a freshly poured draft beer. For they are celebrating that they are all together for eternity.

On Eagle’s Wings
by Michael Joncas

Verse One:
You who dwell in the shelter of the Lord, who abide in his shadow for life, say to the Lord: “My refuge, my rock in whom I trust!”

Refrain:
And he will raise you up on eagle’s wings, bear you on the breath of dawn, make you to shine like the sun, and hold you in the palm of his hand.

Verse Two:
The snare of the fowler will never capture you, and famine will bring you no fear: under his wings your refuge, his faithfulness your shield. (REFRAIN)

Verse Three:
For to his angels he’s given a command to guard you in all of your ways; upon their hands they will bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone. (REFRAIN)