Sunday, January 24, 2016

This is Not the Cross I Wanted. By: Deanna Johnston

Today's guest blogger is Deanna Johnston. I have been extremely blessed to develop a friendship with Deanna and share our experiences as new wives and new mothers. I received a rather urgent email from Deanna requesting prayers during the onset of her miscarriage. Her openness to life and to God's will in all ways is one of many admirable qualities in her. After some time she courageously blogged about her experience and has agreed to share it with all of you. This post originally appeared in 

On December 15th I had a miscarriage.  Over the past month I have gone through a roller coaster of emotions, and I am finding ways of healing a day at a time.  I believe that writing is going to be extremely helpful in the healing process.  I also want to be sensitive to those who may find reading this difficult.  I simply ask for your prayers and know that I am praying for all families who have lost children.
This is not how the New Year was supposed to begin. 
I was supposed to hear my baby's heartbeat for the first time at the beginning of this month.  I was supposed to be taking a picture of my 11 month old in her "I'm a Big Sister!" onesie and posting it online to announce Baby #2's arrival in August. I'm supposed to be dealing with morning sickness, mood swings, and strange cravings.  
But I'm not. 
When we found out that we were pregnant with our second child, we were a little surprised (but not really), a little overwhelmed (2 under 2!), but so so happy.  We bought our first house and moved in a week after we got the news.  Everything was coming together.  Were finances about to get a little interesting?  Oh yes.  But our family was growing, and our new house was going to be filled with one more person to love.  
On December 15th it felt like all of this joy and excitement was ripped from us without any warning. 
While my husband and I sat in the ER waiting for the doctors and nurses to come talk to us about what was happening, we started praying the rosary.   
First Sorrowful Mystery... The Agony in the Garden. 
And that's where we were.  
Looking back I see how we were having our own "Let this cup pass from me" moment.   I remember praying: This is an opportunity to show off, Lord.  You can save our baby; you can stop the bleeding and keep our Little One safe from harm.  We trust you and we have faith.  Please God save our child.   
But as things got progressively worse, I just went numb.  And in the midst of going through the miscarriage I kept thinking "I don't want this cross.  This hurts too much." 
The day after our ER visit we went to the Adoration Chapel.  I wasn't really sure what I wanted to say.  Where Christ's words were much more profound: My God, why have you forsaken me?(Mt 27:46)  all I managed to get out in the moment was "You're a Jerk." And we left.   
Sure, I know that we're called to "take up [our] cross and follow Him" (Mt 16:24), but this is not the cross I wanted.   
I was angry.  I was hurt.  None of this made any sense.  Why wouldn't God let this cross pass from us?  This could have been a miraculous story of healing and trusting the Lord.   
A few days later, we drove from Kansas to Memphis to visit family for Christmas.  I got really sick along the way (we later found out I had bronchitis and an ear infection), so I was dealing with that on top of the physical and emotional discomfort from the miscarriage.  At one point the pain became overwhelming, but it was the first time I felt like I could approach the Lord in prayer without anger or hate: 
Lord I didn't want this cross.  It is not something I would have chosen for myself.  But I desire to be close to You. If carrying this cross allows me to be more deeply united to you, I ask that you help me to embrace it... to carry it so close to my heart that it becomes intimately united with Yours.  Amen   
I wouldn't say the pain went away instantaneously, but praying those words in the backseat of the car led to a moment of peace and surrender.  It was just a moment, but it changed everything that has happened since.   
There are still moments when I am angry.  I am still hurt.  There are times at Mass when I just start crying because I still can't make sense of why this happened.  I didn't want this cross, and I know that there will be moments where it will seem impossible to carry it.   
But I am certain that this is a miraculous story of healing and trusting the Lord. 
I know that God's hand has been with us, guiding us, long before our child was conceived.  We have a "Little Saint" in heaven standing before the throne of God interceding for us, and that brings joy to my heart.   
There are difficult moments ahead, especially as our baby's due date draws nearer. 
As many people have told me over the past month, the Blessed Mother knows what it is like to lose an innocent child.  In those moments when I'm so angry at God that I can't talk to Him, that's when going to her will be even more important.  There's still a lot of hurt, but there's also a lot of healing taking place.   
I really didn't want this cross.  It was my biggest fear.  At the same time, I draw so much hope and comfort from the fact that this cross, if I choose to embrace it, will bring me into a deeper union with the heart of our Lord.   
This is not the cross I wanted, but I know that He will help me carry it.   
Little Saint, pray for us.   
be at peace walk on water be not afraid 

Deanna M. Johnston is a Catholic wife and Mom who also works in full time ministry in the Diocese of Dodge City.  She blogs at about the adventures in marriage, motherhood, and ministry.   

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Seeing my Mother Through my Daughter's Eyes. By: C.C.

    I see the way my daughter looks at her. The way her eyes filled with joy smile when she enters the room. I hear the laugher in her voice as they play together. And I see them happy. I see my mother truly happy and I know it is only by the grace of God that I have arrived at this place of forgiveness, that I have healed , and that God's merciful love is to thank. These simple moments I witness succeed in shattering any place of hardness left in my heart toward my mother.
   Mental illness unfortunately remains one of those things that there is still much silence about. Regardless of some positive movements and initiatives by major corporations to shed light on the importance of mental health, many remain alone and ashamed of their struggles. These struggles are not only isolated to the mentally ill, but also to their loved ones and caregivers. For years, I struggled (most often privately) and battled to accept the reality of my mother's mental illness. 
   Her instability for much of my childhood resulted in a manifestation of resentment, hurt, and loss. I was eight years old when her suffering truly began. My parents mustered up explanations to my brother and I at the time that would help us come to some sense of understanding that "mommy is not well". Everything changed then. It took many years before I would recognize the way that our Lord and Lady so graciously surrounded me, how much they provided for me and how this wound within would become a place of grace. My mother's brokenness would in turn enable me to be whole, but this took much work on my part and perpetual consent to forgiveness. 
  Addressing the brokenness within became a serious priority when I began my return to the Church. It did not take long for the grace of clarity to set in, and for me to recognize how the lack of forgiveness and this mother wound had hardened my heart. The urgent pressing on my soul to rid itself of this ill became increasingly important as I began to recognize where I thought our Lord was leading me--to married life and motherhood. 
    We can often get caught up in the expectation of parents to be as gods. For years I desired a different mother. I wanted her to be something, someone so much more.This prevented me from appreciating everything she was, or from taking the time to get to know more. My father was good at reminding me to be compassionate and understanding. He held things together as most things were falling apart. It is unnatural to mother your mother, yet this is a reality that often enters into the lives of children at some point as age sets in. For me this reality entered a lot earlier. Though this wounded me, it helped make me wise.
   We are not defined by the brokenness of others or by our own. As St. John Paul II once said "We are not the sum of our weaknesses and failures. We are the sum of the Father’s love for us and our real capacity to become the image of his Son…"  To reclaim this image, and by pressing on in faith seeking to understand what being a child of God means allowed the healing to begin and continue. Through growing in a relationship with our Blessed Mother and being made aware of her maternal care encouraged me to reclaim my true identity as one of God's beloved daughters. It encouraged me to also see my mother as a beloved daughter of God. It enabled me to be a mother today, striving to imitate the virtues of our Blessed Mother and not burdened by the shortcomings of my mother, or the shadow of her illness.

  The Father's love for us does not diminish the reality of our hurts. It can not take away the wound completely. His love can birth love within our heart and renew our hope. He alone can help us enter into the wounds within and aid our forgiveness. The grace of His healing, the grace of our Lady's love can transform us and our experiences if we genuinely allow it....

   I see the way she looks at my daughter. The way she loves her. It shows me how far she has come out of her brokenness. It reveals to me how she once loved me. God's love for me is unconditional. He does not take His love away from me on account of my brokenness, He loves me through it all. By His grace, and through the gift of our Blessed Mother I can love my mother today through all her brokenness. I am learning everyday to see my mother through my daughters eyes.(CC)