Category Archives for "Sarah Heidelberger | Hearth and Homestead"

Oct 25

Anything But Ordinary

By From the Heart | Sarah Heidelberger | Hearth and Homestead

The household has been bustling over these last months in hurried speed. Hanging on to Summer’s end, I took a couple of outings with my teens, including enjoying a show at Chanhassen Dinner Theater and hitting up the State Fair. The younger kids had an afternoon at Hemker Zoo with my husband, and we all did a family day Sunday to Inspiration Peak.

September launched us back to schoolwork.  A couple of field trips with our homeschool co-op group. My youngest turned three and oldest turned sixteen. And, because my teens are currently in a season of being theatre junkies, “mom’s taxi service” took on evening rehearsals. Fall entered the scene and decided to disturb the ordinary with a wet, rainy plot twist, rather than blissful, warm daylight hours. It felt like a week without sunlight, but plenty of rain, was going to last nearly forever and keep us away from our beloved outdoors indefinitely!

All of those full calendar pages and weeks in my planner that fly by with flip after flip of the pages, and cold, rainy days could easily get me down on what is lost—summer and a long, beautiful Fall. I could dwell on the years that are gone and the moments that passed too soon. As I’ve been reminded many times recently when people look at my children in wonder or express the popular “You must be busy!”, time marches on with life’s ebbs and flows. Am I losing something in the meantime? Am I cultivating relationships and growing children who will be able to withstand life outside our domestic church?

I’m so glad that I take imperfect selfies, impromptu precious, as well as awkward, photos, as often as I do. If I didn’t, I think I’d forget about that season when the toddler stuck his tongue out during every photo, or the afternoon we made a quick drive to attend the St. Padre Pio relic tour at the cathedral. When I look back at the photos from the month as I upload them on my computer, the ordinary is fondly recalled. At our home we often can be heard saying, tongue-in-cheek, as if it had been a long time past, “remember that time we….?” about something that happened only the other day, last week or at some point in the very recent past, but already feels like a distant memory. The point is, while in this stretch of mothering through an active season of family life, the seemingly little things or smallest of moments tend to get lost in the pages of the bigger memory book. That’s so unfortunate because if I really think of it, the small nuggets of everyday life could be as fondly recalled as the bigger celebratory times.

I guess I’m an “ordinary time” kind of gal. I used to joke when I worked for a parish that I liked the church’s ordinary time the most, because it was less busy.  Less altar cloth changing and planning ahead for those intricate details of upcoming feast days. There are special days that still fill these ordinary times that help to build up and anticipate the momentous ones too. That week of gray, gloomy weather reminded me that my body needs the warmth of the sun and the sight of the splendor of fall colors. When the sun shone again, my heart lifted, and my soul found new refreshment. The same happens when we step out of ordinary time to the next liturgical season, where our hearts will swell and await another big, amazing happening in our Church life. We don’t wish away the ordinary for the extraordinary, but instead take in the journey one step at a time, careful not to wish or rush away the present.

What ordinary things and limited moments are you taking the time to enjoy during this season? Who can you share them with and what unique memories can you make during these ordinary times?

Sarah Heidelberger is a wife and homeschooling mom of five who keeps her days steady with her planning and organizing skills. Read more about her on the “Meet Our Bloggers” page.

Sep 14

How Beautiful Is The Body of Christ

By From the Heart | Sarah Heidelberger | Hearth and Homestead

She sat across the table from me recounting numerous stories, ways God had revealed himself through all of it, with fierce conviction and love in her tear-filled eyes.

It was my first encounter with my dear friend who had lost her teen daughter to cancer just nine months prior. To hear her recount instance upon instance of the certainty of God’s plan and His orchestration in the life (and death) of her daughter, Mallory, is beyond words that my human mouth can form. As a distant bystander and prayer warrior for nearly a year during Mal’s illness, it took me months to even begin to grasp the work God had done. I struggled to fathom His plan in all this, the intention and meaning. How were our prayers not answered (in our way)? How could her family even face life without her?

As I sat there clinging to every word, the words that echoed in my heart and mind were “the Body of Christ.” It became the recurrent answer when I considered our family connectivity to theirs, our hearts’ desires for Mal’s healing, the ache and sorrow that lingered and loomed whenever we tried to make sense of it.

“If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy.” – 1 Corinthians 12:26

 The Body of Christ.

It’s because of that. We are uniquely and forever bonded in faith to all the members of the Body of Christ. When we hurt, others hurt, too. Others rejoice and we rejoice along with them. We comfort when they need comforting. We pray when we don’t know what else to do. We pray when they cannot and they do not know what to do. We make hotdishes, bake breads and cakes in order to bring comfort to a family grieving.

We do and we feel because we are. We ARE the Body of Christ.

Is your heart aching? Your soul yearning? Is that person over there—that one just a little too “different” for you—the one who really needs you to look at them and be their light today? Pray for the members of this aching Body and ask Jesus to send you someone today for whom you can be His hands. Whether you are seeking someone to be the Body for you or someone to whom you can become the Body, they are there. We all want to be a part of something and we already are. Albeit broken, quirky and odd at times, this Body of Christ needs you to help serve, to mend, to minister to it.

Go forth and reach out!

“Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks with compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”   – St. Teresa of Avila

 

Sarah Heidelberger is a wife and homeschooling mom of five who keeps her days steady with her planning and organizing skills. Read more about her on the “Perpetual Posters” page.

Aug 31

Gathering Lemons

By From the Heart | Sarah Heidelberger | Hearth and Homestead

We’ve all heard the saying “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade,” right? We also all know how sometimes life takes you unexpected places. That’s kind of how our summer unfolded. We dubbed it “The Summer of Lemons”.

It really wasn’t a catastrophic event that came our way, but instead a measure of disappointments, hurts, letdowns and events that gave us pause as we tried to readjust our tarnished halos (and pride).

Don’t get me wrong though, there were also many memory making days this summer and captured photos of life as a family of seven just doing our thing. Boy, did we cross off fun things on our bucket list! Sprinkled within though were some days where I thanked God for nowhere to run, no one to taxi and no appointments to get to.

But the lemons…What did we learn?

We learned that apart, we may not have the courage to face struggles head-on, but together, we link arms, rally behind our team and do our best. We discovered that sometimes our expectations of others, even family we love, can lead to them disappointing us. Hurt and misunderstanding are commonplace, even in family. I found myself coaching my kids along many times over these recent months asking them how they will choose to handle defeat and obstacles. Will it be our stumbling block or our stepping stone?

Even more so I found that as the adult and mom who knows this is life and how we learn these valuable lessons is by walking through them, it’s hard to do that while gently leading your child at the same time. I am human and I am also a “mama bear.” I will fight for my young, but I also want to encourage them to learn how to love, defend and fight for truth along with goodness on their own.

And then, when we thought perhaps many of summer’s lessons had already been dispensed, our eyes were opened and we had another hurt we could not keep from our children. The grand jury report in Pennsylvania was released, opening wide a gaping wound of hurt of at least 1,000 children who had been abused by clergy in the last 70 years. To stand in front of our teens to tell them the truth about hurting people, innocent souls, violated lives, of kids just like them at the hands of priests, much like the same men we have taught our children to respect and pray for, it was not what we expected to encounter this summer. But then those children never expected what they received either. We chose to respond to our teens by giving them honest answers, having discussions and providing them with the information and resources that helped us discern how to respond. We chose to fast and pray to make reparation for the abusers, the ones who mishandled it and those who hid it. We decided to still cling to faith and hope in a Church that has some important work still to be done.

It’s so easy to want to throw in the towel, call it a day and hole up in our safe home and comfortable routines when adversity strikes and life’s lessons are a bit more difficult than we anticipated. We aren’t called to do that, but instead to take an active role in our Church, families, home and our lives.

We were so blessed this summer. We are all healthy and thriving. I wasn’t spending my days at the bedside of a sick parent or child. I didn’t watch my child die and face heart-wrenching, devastating pain and grief. God didn’t ask that of me this summer. He asked me to be faithful. He called our family to be light in darkness, to be the good, cling to Him and one another, serve with gladness and fight for justice.

I’m not sure that I did well squeezing those lemons and making lemonade, but we did learn how to tastefully use lemon zest this summer and get in a good dose of vitamin C.

Sarah Heidelberger is a wife and homeschooling mom of five who keeps her days steady with her planning and organizing skills. Read more about her on the Perpetual Posters page.

Jul 30

Pondering the Psalms

By From the Heart | Sarah Heidelberger | Hearth and Homestead

Sun’s out, the lawn needs mowing and the garden produce is kicking in. It must be mid-Summer!

Are you enjoying every waking moment of the longer days?

While these summertide days seem to be slipping away with off-kilter schedules, I’m finding that I thrive best when I maintain my morning prayer time routine. Coffee in hand, I sit down at my laptop ready to check in with the daily readings and devotions from Blessed Is She. Another addition that has blessed my prayer time over this past month has been the Summer of Psalms study from Take Up & Read. For me, having a guide and chosen bible passage to read already decided for me is beneficial. Keeping with simplicity during my prayer time allows me not to feel like it’s just another task to be checked off when completed. It leaves room for the Holy Spirit to settle in and nudge me, maybe only to a word or short verse on which to reflect.

I didn’t realize how refreshing the Psalms would be to these balmy days. What a resonating beauty those repetitions of O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever’ have had in reminding me of all the goodness God has bestowed on my life.

A few others that leaped off the page and gave me reflection:

Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord.  Psalm 31: 24

Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust in him, and he will act.  Psalm 27: 4-5

Be still, and know that I am God!  Psalm 46: 10

Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy.  Psalm 126: 2

I’ve mentioned before how lovely the Take Up & Read studies are and the ladies who write them are spirit filled in their words. There’s a new study, True Friend, that begins the end of July (but you can start any time really) and lasts for four weeks. Care to join me?

If you’d like to follow the Summer of Psalms reading list that I did, you can find 28 days easily planned out for you on their website by clicking this link.

May the scriptures find a way into your heart this summer and reside there giving you peace, companionship and strength for the daily journey.

Sarah Heidelberger is a wife and homeschooling mom of five who keeps her days steady with her planning and organizing skills.

Jun 19

Pockets of Grace

By From the Heart | Sarah Heidelberger | Hearth and Homestead

It certainly seems that we’re all in the throes of summertime. Graduation party announcements are stuck to my whiteboard, an expected wedding invitation will arrive any day now and a quick glance at our family calendar tells me we’ve got plenty of things scheduled. Any casual conversation during a grocery store run-in indicates that summer is in full swing and we’re all “busy.”

If I take a step back from over-analyzing and fretting about those calendar squares, I see there is goodness within these summer months. My perennials came back to life this year in full abundance, exceeding any expectations I may have had during those cold winter months. The garden was planted weeks ago and is shooting forth good growth while we begin to anticipate its fruitful vegetation. Another homeschool year is complete and I’ve already begun ordering and planning our next school year. A couple of bigger outdoor landscape projects that we were determined to finish before July, have come to completion.

It takes a different mindset to retrain our focus and find the correct perspective, doesn’t it? As someone who is a planner and organizer, the over-filled squares and the endless list of “must do” can get me anxious. There’s never enough time in the day, the weeks are too filled and I’m too tired at the day’s end. It does take me numerous times throughout any given day to stop myself and look around. I only need to seek what is the next thing that needs doing. What does my day look like today (not the full week or month ahead)? Who needs me most this day?

When the world and life is swirling, my restless heart begins to do the same. My children notice my stress and rushed pace, right along with an unhappy household.

When I take a deep breath, rest in the Lord and pray a silent prayer, the outlook is much more simple. Do you know what I see? I call them “pockets of grace.” Moments of beauty, calm and living life uncomplicated. Do they last all day? Very rarely. I again get caught up in the bothering of daily life. BUT, I know they are there. I know that only through the grace I’m sent each day am I even able to accomplish the smallest (and largest) of tasks that my life and vocation call on me to do.

I look forward to this season of summer, even if it flashes by in a blur. I desire to be intentional this summer. To make time for people and not screens, relationships and reconnecting rather than disengaging in frustration, days of rest, a treasury of books read and picnic lunches at playgrounds before dropping off my older kids at rehearsal. I remind myself that these days are passing, things will slow down again when we cozy up with blankets on dark winter nights.

How can you make this a summer of slowing down? What small ways can you reconnect with family, friends and with Christ this summer? Look for the pockets of grace in your day and go to bed each night with a heart of gratitude. Maybe it’s just for surviving the summer carpooling, drop offs at VBS, swim lessons and other social events or maybe for that chance you were granted to serve someone.

Sarah Heidelberger is a wife and homeschooling mom of five who keeps her days steady with her planning and organizing skills. Read more about her on the “Meet Our Bloggers” page.

 

May 14

A Few (Of My Favorite) Places to Find Mary

By From the Heart | Sarah Heidelberger | Hearth and Homestead

Spring is the perfect time to honor Mother Mary and perhaps take a drive on a little adventure, don’t you think? As a child, our family often took Sunday drives to familiar and unfamiliar places. Most times they led to us checking out a well built and beautifully detailed church (Many were left unlocked back then.) and finishing out our journey by locating the nearest Dairy Queen. Now with my own family, we don’t make those same Sunday drives, but we have located a few great spots where we’ve found Mary. I’ll even share our favorite place to pray and honor Blessed Mother Mary at the very end!

  1. Grasshopper/Assumption Chapel, Cold Spring

Image of Mary at Assumption Chapel, commonly called Grasshopper Chapel, in Cold Spring (photo courtesy St. Boniface Church)

This was a common destination for our family when I was younger. Driving up the hill and finding the serene trees and quietness around the chapel was always a treasure. Being there was a prayerful experience, whether inside the cold granite chapel or enjoying a picnic out in the grassy areas. In the summer time, you can even head here for one of the Masses during their annual novena of Masses (watch the Visitor for dates). Read the story about how the chapel came to be and its significance.

  1. Stella Maris Chapel, St. John’s University

Grab your comfy shoes and head out for a walk along The Chapel Trail to find this hidden gem. St. John’s was also a common place where my family headed in my younger years, especially to walk out to the wooden pedestrian bridge that spans the freeway. Just last summer, I took my kids and we met up with my parents and brother’s family for an afternoon trek. With kids ranging from toddlers to teens and a couple of strollers, it made for quite the eventful memory, but it was great to see the renovations and enjoy the woods.

  1. Mary Garden, Sacred Heart Church, Sauk Rapids

Living an hour away from St. Cloud, we only recently discovered this one while on our Holy Thursday Seven Churches visitation tour. Tucked away around the side of the church, following the pleasant path and over the bridge, you’ll find Our Lady of Guadalupe. (I’d like to see this one when in summer bloom.)

  1. Our Lady of the Hills, Millerville

If you’re up for a pleasant country drive to find a 22-foot high Mary beyond the Alexandria area out on a gravel road, this one is for you. The statue was built in 1993 in thanksgiving for answered prayers. The size alone is captivating and kids are impressed with her magnitude in this little hidden away spot. While you’re out driving, you could also make a stop to climb up to Inspiration Peak, the highest point in the area, to gaze out over the land and praise God’s goodness. This makes a great Sunday drive, and family memory worthy outing. Find a bit more and directions here.

  1. Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto, Christ the King Church, Browerville

While stopping in to visit the church a couple of summers ago (If you haven’t seen this magnificent church, you really should stop in and pay Jesus a visit in this exceptional place.), we found the rock grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes. Set in the small wooded area next to the church, it’s a sweet alcove to stop and pray while taking in the enormity of God’s creation in the shadow of the towering church. If you’re following my family’s tradition of ice cream treats along the way, Cherry Grove Market on the edge of town serves up hand dipped ice cream in their little store (closed Sundays).

  1. Mary Garden, Our Lady of the Angels, Sauk Centre

This is our family favorite! Being that we’re just a short 15 mile drive from this peaceful spot (and there’s a DQ in this town as well), it has become a favorite place to stop for a few minutes, to pray an the rosary or Divine Mercy chaplet. Set to the side of the church, between it and what used to be a parish house, once you step within the well designed and landscaped garden with climbing greens and statues of the archangels along with Mary, serenity overcomes you. It is well tended and the flowers are always so exquisite that it surely is just a glimpse of heaven.

Whether it be in your home, church, town next door or a Sunday drive away, find a way to encounter Mary this May or this summer, in a new and special way. May she keep you under her mantle of watchful protection.

Sarah Heidelberger is a wife and homeschooling mom of five who keeps her days steady with her planning and organizing skills. Read more about her on the “Meet Our Bloggers” page.

 

Apr 10

With great hope

By From the Heart | Sarah Heidelberger | Hearth and Homestead

While I sit here, I can hear my three littlest kids out on the porch playing in the 20-something degree April weather. What cruel and unusual punishment old man winter decided to deal us this Spring! I’ve already written off April, deciding that we’re just going to lose a whole month of Spring, brown grass and fresh air. Right about now, we all need that new air in our lungs and those of us with younger kids have been hanging on desperately to turn the calendar page to finally get out of the winter season.

There is something that Spring brings and it’s always with a great hope that we long for it, especially when we are in the thick of Winter. How could the season that brings new life, new color and all sorts of new beginnings to our corner of the earth, not be one of great anticipation?

We dressed in our Easter finery (even baring our toes in new sandals), running to the risen Christ who brought us beautiful hope at his resurrection. The sacrifice and struggle of our Lenten journeys behind us (But still with us in the form of our growth in that season.) as we joined in expectant joy celebrating his revealing himself to Mary and the apostles.

When we are a people of faith and of longing, we cannot help but hope. We long for light in our darkness, answers to our long awaited prayers, signs to ease our troubled minds and hearts and we hold on to these sometimes tiny threads through the gift of hope.

Merriam-Webster’s definition of hope is this:

 

            to cherish a desire with anticipation, to want something to happen or be true;

            to desire with expectation of obtainment or fulfillment, to expect with confidence

         

The Catholic Dictionary defines it this way:

            The confident desire of obtaining a future good that is difficult to attain. It is therefore a desire,  which implies seeking and pursuing; some future good that is not yet possessed but wanted, unlike fear that shrinks from a future evil. This future good draws out a person’s volition. Hope is confident that what is desired will certainly be attained. It is the opposite of despair. Yet it recognizes that the object wanted is not easily obtained and that it requires effort to overcome whatever obstacles stand in the way.

The Easter season and Spring fit intricately together, fulfilling those desires for both the liturgical and seasonal changes. We look forward to and embrace the new life in both of them, the longer light hours of our day, the brighter places in our prayer life that were brought about by the season of Lenten observances, and the celebration of Church feasts that follow the Resurrection. We continue to desire and seek hope around us, warding off the desolation and despair that even things like more snow in April tend to bring our way.

I look forward to continuing to rejoice in this Easter season and even optimistically look toward the prospect of mud season. If you know me or you have little kids who cannot ignore the smallest mud puddle, then you know that this is really letting go for me. Letting go of the dark and the cold, the confinement and the snow and truly reveling in the release and rebirth that is Easter. Even if it doesn’t look like it outside my window.

Sarah Heidelberger is a wife and homeschooling mom of five who keeps her days steady with her planning and organizing skills. Read more about her on the “Meet Our Bloggers” page.

Mar 16

Don’t Give Up On Lent

By From the Heart | Sarah Heidelberger | Hearth and Homestead

It’s been a bit of a “muddling through” kind of Lent, it seems. I suppose that doesn’t sound quite right in a way. It’s probably because it just doesn’t really ‘feel’ like Lent. That’s not to say there hasn’t been progress or determination to follow the prayer, fasting and almsgiving standards. I even set the bar low this year with the aim just to follow a small handful of spiritual and physical to-do’s, so that I could intentionally spotlight those areas that needed adjusting.

‘Flourish’ is my word of the year for 2018 and, as I prayed and jotted down Lenten ideas, they seemed to fall under flourishing. There it was, “Flourish this Lent.” Based on something I had recently read suggesting that Lent should reset, pare away and focus on the important, those became my three main focus categories. I could easily come up with areas of struggle that fell under each. I’ll admit that while they look simple on paper, following through in action has proven challenging. Breaking a cycle and changing my ways is hard work, but it took me longer than a short season to acquire these bad patterns. Digging in and prayerfully breaking them down like a chisel to the stone will be part of the duration, not just this liturgical season.

From day one of Lent 2018, two meaningful themes rose to the surface indicating more of what I also needed to find in this season: healing and forgiveness. It became apparent that there were wounds that were going to take time to heal and forgiveness needed to be given. These were not on my agenda and I easily became frustrated that God would ask a bigger task than I felt I could fulfill in six weeks. Small steps and amazing grace will help guide these areas over time.

Those seemingly low bar items on the list have naturally provided me with plenty to work on and God has seen to it to present me with numerous ways to chip away at them. I guess because I don’t feel like I’m being challenged or in great physical pain this Lent doesn’t mean it isn’t worthwhile. I’m in this game for the long haul and it doesn’t all end with Easter morning celebrating. I am just beginning and so are you. We are still in this (sometimes) grueling season, but it is a time of preparation that will reach far beyond Easter. It is a time to renew and pull ourselves back into our relationship with God. Don’t be so quick to wish it away. Dive in. There’s still plenty of time.

Sarah Heidelberger is a wife and homeschooling mom of five who keeps her days steady with her planning and organizing skills. Read more about her on the “Meet Our Bloggers” page.

 

 

 

Feb 08

If I but touch the hem

By From the Heart | Sarah Heidelberger | Hearth and Homestead

When a common theme comes up in your prayer time or the Scriptures, do you hear it? Do you stop to listen and take heed?

I’m certain that such recurring themes are not usually coincidence. Especially not when they fall within a time span of less than one week. When those promptings happen, they tend to stir the heart and get the gearboxes in my mind starting to move.

Consider these recent Scripture passages (emphasis mine):

“There was a woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years. She had suffered greatly at the hands of many doctors and had spent all that she had. Yet she was not helped but only grew worse. She had heard about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak. She said, “If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured.” Immediately her flow of blood dried up. She felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction. Jesus, aware at once that power had gone out from him, turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who has touched my clothes?” But his disciples said to him, “You see how the crowd is pressing upon you, and yet you ask, Who touched me?” And he looked around to see who had done it. The woman, realizing what had happened to her, approached in fear and trembling. She fell down before Jesus and told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.”  Mark 5: 25-34

“When they arrived at the house of the synagogue official, he caught sight of a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. So he went in and said to them,”Why this commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but asleep.” And they ridiculed him. Then he put them all out. He took along the child’s father and mother and those who were with him and entered the room where the child was. He took the child by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise!”   Mark 5:38-41

“Whatever villages or towns or countryside he entered, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and begged him that they might touch only the tassel on his cloak; and as many as touched it were healed. Mark 6: 56

 Reading these over again kind of makes me appreciate the Gospel of Mark with new fondness. When I sat in the pew on Sunday and Father Sudhansu (a priest in themSauk Centre parish cluster) in his homily spoke the sentence that I had been contemplating for several days, my husband and I did a sideways glance and smiled at one another. Father Sudhansu said,

“Those who are in need of healing want to just touch Jesus.”

 These people in the scriptures lay aside everything in order to be near Jesus, meet him, just touch him. This is what we seek, isn’t it? We walk by faith and sometimes it’s only the thread of hope that we grasp. Our bodies and souls are in varying degrees of a need to be healed. In the darkness of the night, I too feel it.

“Jesus, I need you. There is this area of my life, a relationship, unforgiveness, anger, fear, hurt, despair, that I cannot move away from. I cannot fix on my own. Come near me, Jesus, let me just touch your cloak.”

 As Father Sudhansu also mentioned in his homily, just as Jesus felt power go out from him when he was touched, there is a strength and energy that leaves each of us as we hug another person, “Like 1,000 horsepower of electricity!” While Jesus sees our need for healing and He offers that healing to us, He may also send that healing to us through the embrace of a human touch that we can feel and see, or send us to deliver that healing embrace to another for him.

 Maybe now is the time that Jesus is passing by and saying, “Arise! Your faith has healed you, my child.” Let us ask Jesus for strength to walk forward to a path of healing that draws us closer to Him. Now is the time. Arise, my brothers and sisters!

Sarah Heidelberger is a wife and homeschooling mom of five who keeps her days steady with her planning and organizing skills. Read more about her on the “Meet Our Bloggers” page.

Jan 06

Word of the Year {Part 2}

By From the Heart | Sarah Heidelberger | Hearth and Homestead

This is the second in a series.

Right around the same time that baby Joy entered my world via a computer screen, another face also joined hers. This one was slightly familiar, but only by name and photo. Her name was Mallory. Another Facebook post from a friend led to Mallory’s Caring Bridge site and her story which was just unfolding. I had connected with Mallory’s mom several years prior when both of us were just blogging moms whose paths happened to cross. I met Lori twice in recent years and found her to be a faith filled woman whose smile and kind heart left an imprint. Now her family needed prayers as Mal was diagnosed at Christmas time (2016) with rhabdomyosarcoma, a fairly rare malignant pediatric cancer. After a few initial procedures, an MRI and then a CT scan were ordered, and it was confirmed that a cancerous mass was in Mal’s left nasal cavity.

Feeling inadequate, being limited by miles and connection with the family, our family started to pray. It was all that we knew to do in order to help in some way, just as we were praying for baby Joy at that same time as well. With each Caring Bridge update and photo posted, even from across a screen something still came through in great prominence. Mal’s family motto during her hospitalizations and treatments followed a theme, that of St. Padre Pio: “Pray. Hope. And don’t worry.” Their own persistence in prayer and faith began to lead and deepen my own. While I’d always been prayerful, it became evident early on in our following Mal’s journey that God had more in store. Our family became constant prayer warriors for Mal, along with sending words of encouragement and love as often as we could during the months that followed. We connected deeply with this family whom we barely knew, celebrating the triumphs of cancer treatment and hopeful prognoses, along with the heartbreak of new challenges Mal faced.

Photo taken Oct. 30, when Mallory was visited by Dr. Gianna Emanuela Molla, daughter of St. Gianna Beretta Molla.

Through it all, Mallory’s faith never faltered, she never saddened or lost hope in God. And one day as I stared at the screen captivated by the face I saw there, I realized what it was that I was seeing. JOY. As if for the first time, I recognized it. My word for the year wasn’t for my own happiness in what life was going to bring me in 2017. Joy was something I was going to learn. It was being shown and taught to me by following the example of a simple teen whose focus was on Christ while she traveled down an unexpected path. Throughout her suffering, she still shared joy and a smile. She was showing people like me how beautiful life in Christ really is and accepting that He would use her as an instrument for others. From what I’d read over all those months in comments and journal entries, it sounded like young and old alike found joy through Mal’s life and the faith she lived out daily, even before a cancer diagnosis.

Mallory with Sarah’s daughter, Gianna.

In September, our family met up with Mal’s family in Duluth while we were in town for a few days. It was a surreal encounter for all of my family and being able to touch the person and spend time with the family for whom we’d been praying for months. I think I still feel her embrace and playback her gentle smile. While that was both the first and the last time I’d touch her physical body, it will not soon be forgotten. Not two months later, on November 7, Mallory’s earthly fight was over and her eternal life began.

At Mass on the Sunday after Mal passed away, I remembered how much Mal loved Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. After communion I had this overwhelming sense of the joy that Mal was feeling as she beheld the throne of God and the unexplainable magnitude of heaven. It was the first time in days that I caught a glimpse of some meaning behind Mallory’s passing. Her place in heaven was prepared, she was ready and she no longer needed to go through the earthly pain.

Sometimes with joy also comes sorrow. Had I known when JOY was placed on my heart what it truly would mean, I wouldn’t have imagined it quite the way that it ended up. God’s intricate weaving is like that sometimes, creating beauty within a tapestry of sadness that our human minds cannot grasp.

You can read Mallory’s Caring Bridge journal and share in her story at her site by clicking here.

Sarah Heidelberger is a wife and homeschooling mom of five who keeps her days steady with her planning and organizing skills. Read more about her on the “Meet Our Bloggers” page.

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