Marrying “The One”

Q: “How did you know that he/she was The One?”

A: “You just know.”

A common answer to a common question. But is it that simple?

Honestly, it wasn’t for me. My mom always told me that marriage was a calculated risk. I spent a lot of time calculating, and it took me a while to allow myself to take the risk.

When I met Gary, I asked mutual friends – GUY friends – about his character. They all were thrilled with him. No one made funny faces when I mentioned his name or hesitated when they told me I should give him a chance. I also sent him to talk to my spiritual director so he could get approval to begin the courtship. Why in the world would I do that? Because Fr. Ed is an excellent judge of character, specializes in Ignatian discernment, and is one of the strictest priests I know. If anyone was going to catch inconsistencies in this new boyfriend of mine, it would be him.

In every conversation, email, and letter (yes, he wrote me letters!), Gary did make sure to give me as much information as he could about how he grew up, successes and failures he had experienced, and life lessons that changed who he was from the inside out. He was very open with his dreams, his faith, his struggles, and his faults. Gary wasn’t trying to paint a picture for me of a false reality. I could clearly see that he was constantly working to give me the best version of himself.

Did he tell me EVERYTHING? No.

After we got married, I was surprised by the fact that he liked to watch a lot of TV. Would that have been a game-changer during our engagement? Of course not. Within the last six years of marriage, I found out that he also liked boy bands more than I did, he has a fetish for hats, and will randomly burst into song in the middle of a conversation.

By July 8, 2006, I at least knew what kind of a man I was going to marry, and I wanted the whole package. Forever.

It helped that I got input from the people who were important to me. Not just from my friends, but from my mom, my siblings, and my priest (since my dad passed away when I was 18). If I had doubts, I would always bring them to Fr. Ed, and until this day, he will only have good things to say about my husband. This means a lot to me because as our confessor, he has always been well aware of the challenges we have faced individually and as a couple.

Do we have our conflicts? Sure, we do. They’re not frequent, but it definitely still takes work to keep our relationship strong, as it would for anything you want to be good at. Have I ever regretted marrying him? Not for a second. There are too many signs that confirm how perfect he is for me. I’m a better person because of him. My trust in God has grown with him. I’m even healthier now than I was without him. And we have become a team in more ways than one – as parents, as mentors to other young couples, in ministry and in service to God’s people.

All that being said, I cannot stress enough how important it is to allow God to work in your life as a single person first because it prepares you to not only receive the gift of your future spouse someday, but also to give the gift of yourself to him or her. I remember making a list of all the qualities I wanted in a husband. Then I wrote a note to myself in my journal, saying that I needed to be all those things first. So many people are rushing into relationships for all the wrong reasons. They haven’t yet healed from the brokenness suffered from previous breakups and tend to bring their open wounds into their new relationship hoping for that person to just make the pain disappear. They are looking for someone to complete them, often not paying attention to the red flags that signal future heartache and frustration.

It’s a journey that we can only take with Jesus by our side, for the simple reason that He is the one who heals us. He transforms. He encourages. He empowers. He teaches us to love with a selfless, sacrificial heart.

So if you ever ask that question, “How do you know when you’ve found The One?”, you need to pose yet two other questions.

“Does he or she love you the way Jesus loves His Church?”

and

“Can you love him or her with the same self-giving love of Christ?”

+AMDG+

The Promise

I had the most profound conversation with my 4-year-old daughter just a few minutes ago. This is how it went:

Meleana: Mommy, why do you and Daddy have rings on your fingers?

Me: Because we’re married to each other. It means we’re going to be together forever and ever.

Meleana: Why?

Me. Because we love each other.

Meleana: Why?

Me: Because God gave us to each other. God gave your Daddy to me to take care of me.

Meleana: Why?

Me: Because sometimes I can’t take care of myself.

Meleana: When me and Therese are big like you, we’re gonna get married too…just like you and Daddy.

Me: You want to get married?

Meleana: Yeah.

Me: Do you want to have babies after you get married, like I had babies?

Meleana: Yeah. But me and Therese don’t have babies because our tummies are small!

Me: If you and Therese get married, we have to pray that you’ll have good husbands, just like Daddy. Does Daddy help take good care of me?

Meleana (nodding her head): Mmm hmm.

Me: Do you want a good husband to help take care of you, just like Daddy takes care of me?

Meleana (nodding her head): Mmm hmm. But me and Therese don’t want to be alone here all by ourself.

Me: You won’t be alone. That’s why Daddy is here to take care of you when I go to work.

Meleana: But when you and Daddy go away and me and Therese get married in the Church, we don’t want to be alone by ourself.

Me (tearing up): Lea, when Mommy and Daddy go to Heaven, we’ll always pray for you. It’s okay, you won’t be alone.

********************

This isn’t the first time Lea has asked about our wedding rings. Our little girl understands more than we realize. She knows the rings Gary and I wear are important…that they mean something to both of us. She knows we have a special relationship with each other…that being married is good…and that we get married in the Church because that’s just what we do.

One day the world will show her that not all marriages last forever…that people rush into a lifetime commitment way too quickly…and that not all men are good husbands. I just pray that she will always appreciate what marriage is supposed to be from the example that Gary and I leave her and her siblings.

Sometimes I get scared when I think about our children growing up. I don’t want them to lose their innocence and I would love to be able to save them from getting hurt. But reality proves that we can’t shelter them from everything and make every decision for them regarding their futures. My husband and I are trying our best to provide a good faith foundation for them so they will learn how to discern what the best choices are for their lives. We talk to them about their feelings and listen to what they have to say. They know we love them even though we don’t let them have or do whatever they want.

So when the day comes that they come to us to let us know there is a “special someone” in their lives, we can only hope and pray that they have also listened to everything we had to teach them about what real love is…what the promise in marriage is really all about…and how we have loved each other through the good times and bad, in sickness and in health, until death and into forever and ever.

I didn’t marry you because you were perfect.
I didn’t even marry you because I loved you.
I married you because you gave me a promise.
That promise made up for your faults.
And the promise I gave you made up for mine.
Two imperfect people got married and it was the promise that made the marriage.
And when our children were growing up, it wasn’t a house that protected them; and it wasn’t our love that protected them – it was that promise.
– Thornton Wilder

+AMDG+

The Brave Little Soul

I’m going to post this email I got from my sister Emeline last night, exactly as she sent it.  I read the news article…I read the blog and it tugged at my heartstrings like nothing else ever has before.

Sometimes I think I have hard days with my kids when they are fighting, crying, or just not doing what they are supposed to do.  Now that I have read Courtney and Tripp’s story, I realize that I have no reason to complain or be frustrated.  I need to be grateful for every moment that I have…every opportunity I am blessed with…and even every challenge that I encounter.

Thank you, Emeline, for sharing this with me.  You have always been one of my guiding stars, and I’m so thankful that you are leading me closer to the heart of God.

********************

If you have time, read this article and check out this blog before reading the story below.

It makes you appreciate all your blessings and change your perspective on the difficulties in life, especially with children.

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/tripp-roths-tears-reveal-pain-epidermolysis-bullosa-strikes/story?id=15173125

http://randycourtneytripproth.blogspot.com/

A story on suffering…
 
The Brave Little Soul
By: John Alessi

Not too long ago in Heaven there was a little soul who took wonder in observing the world. He especially enjoyed the love he saw there and often expressed this joy with God. One day however the little soul was sad, for on this day he saw suffering in the world. He approached God and sadly asked, “Why do bad things happen; why is there suffering in the world?” 

God paused for a moment and replied, “Little soul, do not be sad, for the suffering you see, unlocks the love in people’s hearts.” The little soul was confused. “What do you mean,” he asked. God replied, “Have you not noticed the goodness and love that is the offspring of that suffering? Look at how people come together, drop their differences and show their love and compassion for those who suffer. All their other motivations disappear and they become motivated by love alone.” 

The little soul began to understand and listened attentively as God continued, “The suffering soul unlocks the love in people’s hearts much like the sun and the rain unlock the flower within the seed. I created everyone with endless love in their heart, but unfortunately most people keep it locked up and hardly share it with anyone. They are afraid to let their love shine freely, because they are afraid of being hurt. But a suffering soul unlocks that love. I tell you this – it is the greatest miracle of all. Many souls have bravely chosen to go into the world and suffer – to unlock this love – to create this miracle for the good of all humanity.”

Just then the little soul got a wonderful idea and could hardly contain himself. With his wings fluttering, bouncing up and down, the little soul excitedly replied. “I am brave; let me go! I would like to go into the world and suffer so that I can unlock the goodness and love in people’s hearts! I want to create that miracle!” 

God smiled and said, “You are a brave soul I know, and thus I will grant your request. But even though you are very brave you will not be able to do this alone. I have known since the beginning of time that you would ask for this and so I have carefully selected many souls to care for you on your journey. Those souls will help you create your miracle; however they will also share in your suffering. Two of these souls are most special and will care for you, help you and suffer along with you, far beyond the others. They have already chosen a name for you”. God and the brave soul shared a smile, and then embraced.

In parting, God said, “Do not forget little soul that I will be with you always. Although you have agreed to bear the pain, you will do so through my strength. And if the time should come when you feel that you have suffered enough, just say the word, think the thought, and you will be healed.” Thus at that moment the brave little soul was born into the world, and through his suffering and God’s strength, he unlocked the goodness and love in people’s hearts. For so many people dropped their differences and came together to show their love.
 Priorities became properly aligned. 
People gave from their hearts. 
Those that were always too busy found time. 
Many began new spiritual journeys, some regained lost faith – many came back to God. 
Parents hugged their children tighter. 
Friends and family grew closer.
 Old friends got together and new friendships were made. 
Distant family reunited, and every family spent more time together. 
Everyone prayed. 
Peace and love reigned. 
Lives changed forever.
 It was good. 
The world was a better place. 
The miracle had happened. 
God was pleased.

How great is Your love

May we always move and live and have our entire being immersed in the love God has for us. He truly sets us FREE…

…free from all fear
…free from all doubt
…free from all sin
…free from death itself

Our God reigns supreme, and it is He alone who we must look to for everything we need here on earth.

+AMDG+

More Than Enough

A couple of weeks ago, I was at the Life in the Spirit Seminar at St. Pius V…to come back home…to my family…to my community…to my God.  During praise & worship, we sang this song. I didn’t have a whole lot of energy to sing because I was so sick, but as soon as I heard the lyrics, I gave it all I had.  Every ounce of spirit within me cried out to God – to Jesus in the Eucharist right before my eyes.  I was so aware of how weak I was…how much I needed…and I opened my heart to the Truth of who He really was.

For most of my life, I had been looking for love, for approval, for acceptance.  That search led me only to darkness and emptiness and the realization that I didn’t understand what real love was.  Because I didn’t understand it, I couldn’t fully accept it when it was being given to me, nor could I give it to those who were closest to me.

That morning, I knew in my heart that I had to believe that He was more than enough.  And for those who hear me teach and speak…for those who call me for advice…for those who read this blog…it was so important for me to believe it for them, too.  Purity of body, heart, mind, and soul can only come through the Love of God…through the accepting of the Father, Son, and Spirit who fill every void and every need.

I cried.  I cried for me.  I cried for you.  I shed tears for all of us whom God desires to draw closer to Him.  My prayer was and continues to be that we will never forget the complete fullness of God’s Love.  How very good He always is…

Enough
(Chris Tomlin)
All of You is more than enough for all of me
For every thirst and every need
You satisfy me with Your love
And all I have in You is more than enough

You are my supply
My breath of life
And still more awesome than I know
You are my reward
worth living for
And still more awesome than I know

All of You is more than enough for all of me
For every thirst and every need
You satisfy me with Your love
And all I have in You is more than enough

Youre my sacrifice
Of greatest price
And still more awesome than I know
Youre the coming King
You are everything
And still more awesome than I know

More than all I want
More than all I need
You are more than enough for me
More than all I know
More than all I can say
You are more than enough for me

In Pursuit of Love

It’s 3:24 in the morning.  I had to finish because I was having a really “off” evening and something pushed me to get it done.  The story – Part One.  You can find it under “About” to your right, or you can click here.

It will always give me hope in what God can do for our marriage because He was the one who made it all happen.  On good days, our story will make me smile.  On harder days, it will keep us on track.

I never wrote a Part Two about our engagement…or a Part Three about our wedding…or a Part Four about our kids.  But I can remember so much of the days that followed that New Year’s Eve, and I am awestruck at the blessings and graces we have been given over the past five years.  By no means do we have a perfect relationship.  I’m half of it and just flawed as anybody else.  I am so thankful, though, that He keeps us faithful.  In good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, ’til death do us part.

Because “God blessed the broken road that led me straight to you…”

From the bottom of my heart, I love you, Gary.  I really do.

+AMDG+

Falling deeper in love

I’ve been retyping our story for you.  Not quite done yet, but almost.  It’s the next “big thing” that I’m going to add to the blog.  Why?  Because people ask, and it’s a fun read.  At least for me, it is. =)  

Yes, people want to know how we met.  Or where I found him.  I actually didn’t find him.  He found me…on MySpace.

“For real?”

You read correctly, friends.  As my SPOC student Yousy recently exclaimed, “But there are MILLIONS of people on MySpace!!  How could you find her out of all those people?!”

God works in mysterious ways.

And the whole story is about God working…that’s why I need  to tell it and friends have loved listening…to the “Cliff notes” version, that is.  But since we are all so busy these days, I thought I’d share it here for you to read for yourself and see how He changed my heart.  It does me a whole lot of good to read it myself again and again because it helps me see how Providence truly reigns supreme.  God is SO good.  So good.

Our story also makes me appreciate the man I chose to marry.  Ordinary life is full of ordinary days.  The vocations of marriage and parenting are incredibly fulfilling, but we are not spared the challenges and difficulties that come with them.  Some days I forget who he is for me, and coming back to the journey God took us on in our early days makes me realize all over again that as human as Gary is…he is still AMAZING.

How does the story play into the theme of purity?  Our entire relationship has served most of the inspiration for the content of this blog.  Yes, there is much more to tell…much more to share than what you will read in “Part One”.  You just have to keep in touch and wait to find out…

+AMDG+