A Mother’s Love

19 But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.

Luke 2:19

Becoming a Mother

In the middle of an airport terminal was the first time I saw my adopted son. I recall feeling a sense of awe and anticipation as I took him in my arms. A surreal feeling washed over me as I held him. He was little bundle, and 4 months old. I’ll never forget the flicker of fear that passed through me as I realized nothing prepared me emotionally for this moment. I am a mother. I didn’t have 9 months to biologically bond with my child. Although my husband and I had received regular updates, and photos taken by his foster mother – I had that initial feeling of awkwardness when meeting someone for the first time. Then the stunted reality that this precious bundle will be my son, and I will be his mom.

We repeated this process a few years later. This time, my husband and I picked up our adopted daughter (8 months old) from an orphanage in Taiwan. The same feelings resurfaced. I again felt like a newbie, and was just as emotionally overwhelmed. I am now a mother to two children.

In retrospect, there was and still is, a sense of awe and thankfulness to our Almighty God for answered prayers. Both times, I recalled the feeling of inadequacy, “What am I getting myself into”? Each time I felt the surreal – when reality and longings fused. There was also the overwhelming weight of responsibility that comes with answered prayers. “Yes, I am now endowed with the responsibility for two gifts from God.” “Lord, guide me to be the mother you want me to be to them, and let my gift back to you be worthy.”

I cannot to this day, imagine the emotions their biological mothers must have felt in giving up their babies. I can only thank the Lord my God for blessing me with two beautiful children. One is now a young adult, and the other a teenager. By God’s mercy, He has given me two gifts and my job is to love them with all my heart.

Motherly Love

The love of a mother is not just an emotion. When my I first held them in my arms, I had to learn to love them. The bond of love is developed over time. My love for my children is also a relationship which starts with caring for their needs, guiding, teaching, mentorship, and above all. in the giving of myself without expectations for rewards. Both children are uniquely different in temperament and personalities. Their learning styles were also different. Love not only grows and deepens as I got to know each, but it led to my own growth as a person and mother. I learnt let go of my own ego, to love the uniqueness and difference in each of them. It also opened my eyes to who I was as a mother and as a child of God.

Now that my children are older, this love continues to grow and mature in depth and width. In fact, this feeling of maternal relationship and love never ceases, and grows with every trial that each child goes through.

Daughter

So often, my relationship with my own children has led me to recall my mom, and my relationships with her. Often I hear her echoed in me when I talk to my children. As I live in another province and city, I miss her, and often make the effort to call and talk to her. Our mother – daughter journey is reflected in the different stages of my life, from that of a child, a rebellious teen, a young adult, and finally, as a mom.

Holy Mother Mary

The care, love and nurturing of a mother is a bond she establishes with her child. Nothing can compare to the love of a mother. I thank the Almighty God for giving me the opportunity to be a mom. It is in being a mom and daughter, that I can imagine the depth and width of our Holy Mother’s love for her son Jesus, and for us. Her immense love pours out for us, and she longs to intercede on our behalf to her Son – Jesus.

My initial steps towards our Holy Mother – The Virgin Mary, was awkward. Coming from a Protestant background, I was not familiar with her. I remember asking the Holy Spirit to grace me with a sincere heart in getting to know her. Like a newly adopted child, I looked upon her to take care of me, and I embraced her with child like trust.

Praying the Rosary is part of my steps towards my Holy Mother. It is through prayer that relationships are established. It is through communicating in prayer that our relationship with one another – between Mother and child – is deepened. From silent whispers, to fumbled sentences, to soulful moans, and now with trusting velocity, I have a better understanding and insights into my faith. Like a child, I thirst for intimacy to be in the abode of the Holy Family.

I long to get to know my holy family through the graces of my Holy Mother.

Let us pray for the grace to love Mother Mary more, and for the grace that through her we can ask her to intercede on our behalf to have spiritual closeness with God the Father, His son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.

Praise be to God. 💖

He Hears Us

As my 14 year old daughter was preparing for bed the other night, I quietly reminded her, “Don’t forget to say your prayers”. Her response to me was, “Mom, I don’t pray to God, I talk to Him”. As much as I wanted to give her my two cents worth of insights, and share my own prayer experiences, I held back. Why?

She has her personal journey with Jesus. It is different from mine. She “owns” it so to speak through her prayer, and this makes it real for herself. Does it matter how she communicates with Jesus? As a parent, I can guide from behind the scenes – stealth mode. I pray for the hand of God, Holy Mary, and all the Angels and Saints to protect her from the clutches of Satan’s guiles (this can come from television, social media, etc.) as she journeys with Jesus.

My daughter is also absolutely right, praying is talking to God. Her way of communicating with God is personal and private. As I reflect on my own prayer life today, and how I use to pray in the past, I see a transformation in my prayer life as my own faith grew. Prayer is synchronous with my own growth and development as a Christian. From awkward prayers to free flowing lucid ones – “I don’t know what to say to Jesus!” – to sincerely heart felt prayers that often have me in tears before our Savior.

Prayer is also related to our own personal experiences. Each of us experiences and makes sense of our world based on different sets of lens. Our worldviews and the way we see things changes as we ourselves change and adjust to our environment. Prayer is much the same. It grows, expands along with our own sensitivities and life experiences.

Faith, Hope, Love!

Jesus, I trust in You!

Prayer is our dialogue with the Almighty. Through prayer, we acknowledge He is our God. He hears us.

The story of Esther in the Old Testament is a testament to this:

Queen Esther’s Prayer  

Esther C: 14-25, 14:4-9

“My Lord, our King, You alone are our God.
Please help me, for I am alone and I have no one else
but You to turn to; my life is in danger.
As a child I was always told by the people of the land
of my forefathers that You, O Lord, chose Israel
from among all peoples and designated our fathers
from among all their ancestors as a perpetual heritage,
and that all of Your promises to them were fulfilled.
Now, however, we have sinned in Your sight
by worshiping the gods of our enemies,
and You have delivered us into their hands
because You are just, O Lord …
Do not forget us, O Lord.
Be present to us in the time of our distress and grant me courage,
O King of gods and Ruler of every earthly power …
Save us by Your power, and come to my aid,
for I am alone and have no one but You on whom to depend, O Lord.”
Amen.

God hears!

Yes, and He answers Esther’s call for help by softening the King’s heart. Esther was also able to reveal to the King the treachery that belies his throne, and stop the persecution of the Jews.

As I reflect on my journey into Catholicism, praying has become the center of my day. Through faith, I know God hears me. Whether He answers right away is up to Him. I can only hope that He will answer me. Through prayer, I acknowledge Jesus and His divine greatness. Through prayer, I tell Jesus I love Him. It is a simple truth based on faith and love.

Sincerity is all that God asks of us.

There is a rich vault of prayers and chaplets in the Catholic faith. They are powerful tools for us to pray with. It was through praying the Rosary that I fell in love with my Holy Mother. As a former Protestant, I will admit that my yearly nod to the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph was only at Christmas (in the nativity story). I never delved deeper. My journey in the Catholic faith was the rediscovery of our Immaculate Virgin Mary through the Rosary. It is also a rediscovery of St. Joseph.

I recall those early days when after an online search and armed with YouTube and printed material, I awkwardly said the Rosary. After many weeks, it dawned on me, “I enjoy praying the Rosary”. There are days when it calms me. There are days I find myself sobbing and crying. I was led into an intimate journey through the Passions of Christ, His suffering and love for us. I was shown our human weakness.

Through praying the Rosary, I also got to know Holy Mary. The repetition upon each bead, I prayed, “Hail, Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of they womb, Jesus”. The Holy Spirit revealed to me insights and mysteries that transcends the day to day repetition of the Rosary. I think this is something each Catholic must discover on their own, as I believe it will be unique to each.

Praying the many prayers and chaplets shows our trust in God. It also acknowledges a bond of trust.

He hears our prayers.

God hears everyone and every whisper of our heart!

Our act of faith goes a long way.

God Bless 💖

Let’s Get Personal

(Personalizing Christ the King Novena)

(In the name of the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit)

Jesus, my Savior, and King

I humbly pray before you

May you grace my heart to love and adore you more,

to give me the grace of deepening faith

to give me the grace to place my trust upon you above all others,

and to give me the grace to be confident you are ever present in my life.

I proclaim you Prince of Peace and lift you high above all in this mortal realm.

As I wait for your second coming, let me not waste a moment

I ask that you grace me – this unworthy sinner –

with the inspiration and confidence to use the gifts you have given me

to share your story and love with others.

So that they may also rejoice in having a living God in their lives.

(In the name of the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit, Amen)
Grant Whitty (@grantwhitty) | Unsplash

I started praying the Christ the King Novena yesterday, and following the lead of my sponsor, I have reflected upon it, and personalized it. As I think in the abstract, one of my challenges is to bring it down a notch – or to bring it out of my headspace into the everyday.

Through prayer, especially the Rosary, I feel the depth and width of my love for Jesus growing with each passing day. There has been a few instances when during prayer I have been overwhelm with emotions and tears as visons of sin unrealized and unconfessed come to mind. Jesus has also shown me through prayer that He has always been with me, and He has also shielded me on numerous occasion from falling into the clutches of darkness. Just as he has opens my eyes, He also comforts.

Once a part of the darkness, the road back to the light is soul wrenching. There is no other way to describe it. I know that meeting my husband was God send – His unconditional love for me never faltered through our 30 year plus relationship. Just as my children were gifts from God – to me – a woman who fervently claimed I would never bring children into this world. God blessed me with two adopted children.

The goal is making Jesus Christ real in every facets of our lives.

Since the start of the Advent, my sponsor and I have each chosen a Novena to focus and pray on. Through the process of sharing our thoughts each day via phone or text, I have come to realize how each of us have personalized and made praying real based on our personalities and character.

Through a process of self reflection and reflecting on key words or concepts, it opens up for each something uniquely special and personal. It leads to a journey of deepening faith and love for Christ. It guides us to prepare our hearts for celebrating not only Jesus’ arrival to us through His birth, but preparing our hearts and soul to receive Him upon His second coming.

Having a partner during this prayerful period has enriched me. As I am a person of extremes, my prayer partner reminds me to maintain a balanced life. This has been an enriching experience for me, as I realize through our conversations and text messages that not only are we two unique individuals, with different approaches to prayer, she has shown me her own process of personalizing the Novena. This has helped me to bring abstract concepts from my headspace into my daily life. Coming down to earth so to speak – as I think in the abstract – personalizing my Novena, brings it down to my everyday.

From the Mouth of a Child

My daughter often says to me, “Mom, use normal words, I don’t know what you mean.” Upon which I would stop and rephrase my sentence, or explain to her what I mean.

The other day I reminded Aleeza to pray (and ask Jesus for the confidence to stand in front of her class for her oral). Her adamant response was, “Mom, I don’t pray. I talk to Jesus.” I smile now as I recall her statement. Yes, that is what we do when we pray, we talk to Jesus. I like the way she has personalized her relationship with Jesus. He is her friend.

Finally, from the mouth of a child, “Jesus is our friend”.

Aside: God has a way of grounding us through our friends and family.

God Bless.

Monday Mania

24 This is the very day of the Lord that brings

gladness and joy, filling our hearts with glee.

Psalm 118:24 Passion Translation

Today was one of those hectic Mondays where I went totally off schedule – all because I decided to stay in bed for one extra hour. That snowballed into a manic Monday! I worked through lunch, and at one point was multitasking between my iPad, laptop and my iPhone. I also didn’t walk the dog. What was my excuse? “It snowed the night before, and it’s too cold and slippery out!”

I really think the one thing I got right today was reading todays scriptures while I was still in bed (I am being a bad role model here). Another was logging online to participate in my daily morning Mass surrounded by my devices. I had to mentally slap my hands a few times when I heard my iPhone ding with incoming text – “Ignore them” I said to myself. I had this mental image of me in front of God on judgement day – of my hands moving towards my tablet or iPhone. Oh Lord God, forgive me…my flesh is weak!

Partaking in the Eucharist is a daily must for me (virtually these days) – to let the Body and Blood of Jesus spiritually heal and grounded me for the rest of the day.

Alone my flesh is weak, and I thank God for His Grace and Gift of Faith.

Your love for me is something my mind cannot totally phantom

It’s depth and magnitude too much for this mere mortal to comprehend.

I imagine it to be as far reaching as the endless sky above me

As vast and deep as the universe that has no end.

I can only kneel before Thee.

Thank you Jesus for dying on the cross for me.

my little prayer to God Almighty

It’s Starting to Feel Like Christmas

Many homes in my area have already decorated for the holidays. It’s so nice to see the outside adorn with pine garlands, Christmas wreaths, and lights.

After being pestered by our children to decorate for Christmas, my husband finally took out our artificial tree and several boxes of decorations.

Joy to All

As my daughter and I decorated the tree, I shared with her the stories behind some of our ornaments. There were “Baby’s First Christmas” bells and balls, to their first kindergarten Christmas crafts, to their own collection (my husband’s best shopping day is Black Friday and Boxing Day. He delighted in a yearly trek amidst the crowd to let them chose a decoration for their own collection – at 50% off). There were also decorations gifted by my mother-in-law, as well as decorations to Meimei from her aunt.

Meimei’s Tree from Aunty Joanne as

It’s touching to see our children decorating their rooms this year. They wanted to personalize their room with their own decorations.

For many, it will be the first Christmas alone or with the immediate family. We normally travel to Toronto to see my side of the family, but due to Covid-19 restrictions we are not traveling. My side of the family decided to keep it simple, and we’ll have a zoom gathering on Christmas Day.

Christmas Past

In Montreal, Christmas has changed in the past few years. We live in an age of political correctness. Christmas is now refer to as the “Holiday Season”. Festive window decorations in stores are a thing of the past.

People of all ages use to come downtown just to see Oglivy’s Christmas window.

There was a sense of wonderment when children watched the mechanical display. I use to bring my children to see this display after the Santa Claus parade.

Oglivy’s has since donated their window decorations to the local museum.

Since the onset of Covid-19, one of the things I miss most is going downtown. I have fond memories of walking along the main streets to look at all the colourful Christmas lights.

Boulevard René-Lévesque lined with trees wrapped with lights is beautiful at night.
Along Mountain Street, Montreal
Hotel Crystal
Along Mountain Street, Montreal

Christmas Present

My husband and I have always focused on the birth of Jesus at Christmas. Pre Covid-19 Christmas Eve, we would attend Candlelight service and sing hymns.

This year most churches will have a limited seating capacity of 25. Most have adapted to COVID-19 restrictions and will use zoom or live stream to celebrate the birth of Christ. I pray that all of you will be able to celebrate Christmas via one of these technological platforms.

Today as we live and adapt to new norms, I find we need to create our own Christmas tradition. A tradition that embraces and envelopes those around us in love and peace. After so many years of celebrating Christmas with the family, we are kind of forced to isolate. We shouldn’t let this stop us from sharing with one another. We can text, zoom, email, or call someone on the phone. We can use snail mail and send a card. I think the important thing is to not leave anyone out.

I really appreciate my neighbours decorating early this year. They drew me into their warmth. This helped create the mood in me to decorate and celebrate. My neighbours added to the Christmas ambiance by sharing their joy and love of the season. I think this is the most precious part of this year’s Christmas – sharing the peace and love of Christmas with one another with a festive heart.

From our house to yours, God Bless❤️

Praising God

Almighty God, I lift up my hands praise!

I’m embarrassed to show my watercolours, as they are often quick ink sketches. They are like journal entries, expressing of my thoughts about Jesus and my relationship with Him.

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will dine with him. And he with Me.” Revelation 3:20

They are also about finding hope in Christ in our lost humanity. His Salvation and Glory is free. All we need to do is accept it as Zaccheus (Luke 19: 1-10) did.

“Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God, The Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come.” Revelation 4:8
“Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” Luke 23:34

Jesus died for the mankind’s original sin (The Fall of Man in Genesis 3) so that we may be redeemed if we believe in Him. When I think about His death on the cross, I am thankful that an unworthy sinner like me can be forgiven all my sins. I thank God for letting me draw closer to Him.

In return I send praises to my Almighty God, to Jesus the Son, and to the Holy Spirit for giving me the gift of faith. I, in turn, share my faith with all of you.

That each of you find the time to pray and draw into a closer relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ.

God Bless.

The Parable of the Talents

This week the “The Parable of the Talents” surfaced a number of times for me. It was discussed in a book I was reading, upon which I looked it up in the Bible (Matthew 25:14-30). It was also the Gospel reading in both yesterday’s and today’s Mass.

Three times the charm so to speak! What is God trying to tell me?

Needless to say, this parable was on my mind.

Who am I in this parable? Am I the one with the 5 talent? Am I the one with the two Talent? Or am I the one with 1 talent?

After praying on this Parable and rereading 3 different interpretations of it (NASB, Passion, and the NRSV) I can discern many different ways to look at this verse – from the standpoint of popular financial management to the more profane and spiritual.

But what does this parable say to me specifically?

I believe God is asking me, as well as all of us, to step out and use my/our “gifts” in praising and serving Him.

God knows us, and He will never give us more than we can handle. To those who can take on more, He will give more responsibility, but the fact remains, God does not want us passive and living in fear.

What skills or gifts?

In my case it could be through writing, my art, or my ability to time manage or multitask. It could be through the simple act of giving donations to your Parish or your Church.

Many local churches along with parishes are having a hard time financially especially in light of the restrictions imposed by the government due to COVID-19. Many parish, like mine have laid off staff, yet despite all these challenges, Gods work is being done. That’s thanks to volunteers who serve God and their community with love.

In many neighborhoods many families have been hit hard financially especially in the service industry or restaurants. Giving groceries to your local church and parish will allow them to send out food baskets to those in need. This is much needed as we head into December and the holiday season.

Believe me when I tell you receiving a food basket makes a difference to a family in need. 10 years ago my husband lost his job, and we were in deep financial difficulties. We were at rock bottom. A stranger from an organization sent us 2 bags of groceries along with gifts for our children. It was one of the most touching and humbling experiences in my life. I remember praying in thanksgiving to God. Sometimes it’s only when we experience pain, that we can see the salvation of Jesus. Nothing could contain my tears.

Gods immense love for us in the Holy sacrifice of His Son Jesus – a man who was sinless and divinely perfect – is a mystery many may never fully comprehend. I am unworthy, yet God calls me and you to his presence. He gives us the freedom to decide if we want to be a part of His family or not – how can I not shout with happiness and joy.

I have the freedom to chose. I can do do nothing, like that man with 1 talent, or I can be proactive and use all the skills and gifts I gave to glorify Him and make a difference.

We all have talents – whether it be the art of story telling, teaching, blogging, or something in the creative field in web design, painting, drawing, or photography. Then there are those with musical talents who can sing like an angel. Some are musically inclined, while others have talents in other areas. Cooking is another skill, one I wish I had. I do try cooking up a meal using Pinterest, but somehow it’s never as tasty as my sister-in-law’s cooking. Of course there are other skills like being able to manage time, multitasking, or use a computer. Some have the talent to make money through their investments. The skills and gifts we have is unique and different from one another.

There are also many of us who possess skills we may not be aware of. Why? We never challenged ourselves to step out of our comfort zone. I bet many of us have skills burrowed within us – and not yet actualized.

God calls for us to use our gifts.

What does the Parable of the Talents mean to me?

So what does the “Parable of the Talents” mean to me? It means showing how much I love God in all that I do, whether it be in writing, making a meal for the family, or stepping out of my comfort zone to show kindness and love to my family, my neighbours, my Parish community, my colleagues and the people around me. It is to make that 1 talent double, triple and grow by using the gifts I have with a sincere heart to glorify God – My Master!

The Parable of the Talents

14“For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; 15to one he gave five talents,[f] to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. 17In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. 18But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. 20Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.’ 21His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ 22And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.’ 23His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ 24Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; 25so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ 26But his master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? 27Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. 28So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. 29For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. 30As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ Matthew 25:14-30 NRSV

Aside: Basically we give and help where we can. My son asked me if we were having take-out tonight. For a family of four that’s almost $75 plus. I told him instead of take out, I’ve donated the amount to our local parish. Seeing his disgruntled face, I explained to him I could cook a meal. I furthered explain, how would it look if God were to ask me, “what did I spend on this month?”

❤️