Saturday, April 9, 2011
Hope for a Mother's Heart
"Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!
See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
your walls are ever before me." Isaiah 49:16
I am staying this weekend at Holy Hill. https://holyhill.com/ It is breathtaking here. I needed some time to get away and think and pray and read and write and... relax. This morning I woke up after a long night in my room with NO HEAT and got dressed very quickly. I called the maintenance man who said he'd fix it and then he made a very apropos joke about me paying my penance! I'm not even Catholic... I wonder if it still works??
In awe, I explored the grounds and the magnificent church. I spent some time in the shrine which is pictured above. The Mary and Baby Jesus caused me to think of the scripture that I posted above. God wanted us to know how deep is His love for us.
I am staying at Holy Hill because a friend of mine recommended it. My friend is named Jennifer and she and I have known each other a very long time. She was raised in the Catholic church and then she spent many years in an Evangelical church and now she is Catholic again. We have always shared a love for Jesus that connects us deeply but we have another connection as well. We were both given children with special needs. Little did we know when we were young newlyweds together, giggling at all the excitement of being young wives, the calling that we would later share together.
Jennifer has a sweet daughter named Anna and another sweet daughter named Sylvia. http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/annaw Anna has a very rare disorder called Alexander's Disease. It is a degenerative disorder and most children who have it do not live later than seven years of age. They did not realize that this is what she had until Anna was about five years old. My friend Jennifer has struggled with things that I could not make up in my worst nightmares. She is such an amazing Mother and True Seeker and I think God had her in mind way back when Isaiah scribed the words about Mothers' love and compared it to the love God has for us.
When I brought Noah home from the hospital I had the worst postpartum depression and sense of fear that had come over me. I had no idea what was in store for our Noah, but I think my soul knew. Jennifer called me that day. She also had no knowledge of Anna's condition at this time, other than the fact that Anna struggled with some developmental delays. The phone call we shared that day was as if God Himself were calling me. Jennifer let me cry and cry and share my heart about these fears and feelings of dismay I could not explain. She did not offer any "fix-its" but listened to me and then prayed for me when we ended our conversation which was probably the most beautiful prayer anyone has ever prayed. (I want it played back when I get to Heaven!)
About two years later things became much worse for Anna's health. She was deteriorating rapidly. Noah too was probably at his worst time with health issues, however no where near as severe as dear Anna's.
I remember Jennifer telling me that they were seeking healing services for Anna and I remember being a little fearful for her faith during this time. (Ha! As if I were the "Author and Perfecter of it! So silly.) However, I knew that sometimes "healing faith" can be about the person's "amount" of faith and then when the healing doesn't happen, it's because they didn't have "enough" faith. Sad. I worried my friend would struggle with unnecessary guilt and condemnation on top of everything else. I just kept my thoughts to myself and prayed and fasted for Anna AND my sweet friend!
Awhile later, Noah was in the hospital for another common cold that had him SO sick. The time at the hospital was horrible. He wasn't officially dehydrated, but it still took them a total of over three hours trying to get an IV into him. It was hell. When he was admitted into NICU, they allowed the interns to "try"... I was BESIDE myself with horror and dismay. By the end of the night they had finally succeeded and I could not even stand up anymore. I waited in a room outside of the NICU while Frank was with Noah and I laid on a couch just breathing and trying to manage the worst migraine I have ever had. I remember looking up at the wall and seeing a crucifix that portrayed Jesus suffering. I remember thinking about how Jesus' mother must have felt. How God must have felt. I remember utter sadness.
I came home the next day to pick up some things and take a break before I would return to my Noah. I checked my e-mail and saw a note from my friend, Jennifer. The note described how Anna had taken a complete miraculous turnaround lately. She was starting to get better and stronger!!! She was supposed to deteriorate and she was getting better! Later, the doctors would tell Jennifer that indeed it was a "miraculous" come back! After reading that, I thought about my worry for Jennifer with her hope for healing for her Anna... I remember looking up and saying to God... "OF COURSE YOU CAN!!!" I then fell to a heap on the floor and laughed and cried and repeated over and over, "OF COURSE YOU CAN HEAL!!!"
Jennifer's good news hit me at a time that was one of the lowest in my life of wondering if God could truly be a Good and Loving God. He told me right there that indeed He is a Good and Loving God. Regardless of our circumstances. I prayed He would never let me forget that. I forget it from time to time. He reminds me again.
About five years have passed since that time. Anna is 13 and has a had a wonderful and full life. But in the last year has been starting to deteriorate again and her family is extremely worried for what may be in store for her. Jennifer and I met a few months ago and shared with laughter and tears what only we two can share. Our hope in the One True God and our struggles with being Mothers of Special Needs Children. Tonight I'll be going back to the Shrine at Holy Hill and I will light a candle and pray for little Anna and her amazing family and I will trust in a God who truly loves us and is truly good.