Lend Me Your Heart

(Sorry Julie, I had to use your song title for my blog post…it fit so well!)

Although Lent is still a few weeks away, this blog has been sitting on my heart.  I had been toying with writing it early, but kept telling myself it’ll still be there when Ash Wednesday hits (on Valentine’s Day……how ironic!)  But I couldn’t hold out anymore.

Catholics and Christians usually choose something to “give up” for lent (like sugar, coffee, alcohol).  But now that I’m older, that doesn’t appeal to me anymore.  I don’t “get” anything from giving up those things.  And what use is it to “give up” something, just to cross days off a calendar so you can pick them up again after Easter?  Some have such a love of whatever they gave up, that they argue if Sunday’s are exempt from whatever it is that was given up.  WHAT GOOD IS THAT?  Lent is supposed to be a time of personal renewal and change…..not a time to give up sugar, just to pack it all on the day after Easter.  So instead, what  I’ve found works for me, is choosing a “theme” for my Lenten journey.  In past years it’s just been a renewed spiritual journey, but this year I feel is going to be huge.

While my personal theme will still be to grow in faith, through daily mass, adoration, and participating deeper at Sunday mass, I’m also adopting the personal theme of being the heart and hands of Jesus.  ASKING him to lend me his heart, and his mother to lend me hers as well.  Asking Jesus to let me be his hands—–let me touch a crying stranger, and listen to them when nobody else will.  Let me show even the roughest old man love, by simply smiling or holding the door open for him.  The world is broken and wounded—–addictions of every kind, some of which are hidden from sight, plague us everywhere.  When so many choose to walk away from these addicts, I’m asking Jesus to let me touch them.  Let them see something in me, in my actions, in my words—-that touches them.  Rather it touches them to get help, or even if it gives them hope to stay alive another day.  Let me listen to the elderly woman who got a bad report from the doctor and doesn’t know where to turn.  Let me pray with the woman who was just diagnosed with terminal cancer, when everyone else seems side stepped by the diagnosis.  Especially as I prepare to “reenter” the world of patient care this April, with my new job as Unit Coordinator, I want to be the hands, the eyes, the heart of Christ to the patients and families I will serve each day.  I’d like to think that they leave my presence feeling at least somewhat at ease with whatever burden or illness they’re facing.  I want this desire to last longer than Lent….for the world will always need the hands of Christ, not just for 40 days.  We can’t fix everyone, but we can simply do our best to bring Jesus to them through our actions, and let God handle the rest.

Although I am sure I will pay for this (after all, the saying goes be careful what you ask for)….I’m still asking for his heart, to be his hands.  I’m asking him to let me walk to Calvary with him.  To be nailed on the cross with him this year.

Lend me your heart, Lord, and let me be your servant.  That is my Lenten wish, and my heart’s desire.  Do with me, and this desire, whatever you will.

What are your Lenten plans?  To give up something you will pick back up after Lent is over?  Or something deeper, bigger?

(Image used is from my visit to the Shrine of St. Joseph the Worker in Lowell, MA.)

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Empty arms, mending heart

Three years ago today began like any other typical New England Winter’s day—–a heavy storm had blown through.  However, by the end of the day, it would be the second to worst day of my life.

After shoveling my mother out so she could go to work, I began having some slight cramping, but thought nothing of it.  For God gave me a miracle that Christmas morning, with confirmation that I was expecting a baby doctor’s had said I’d never have (even though I knew my body, and had known for a while before confirming it).  He surely wouldn’t give me this overwhelming joy, just to take it away ever so quickly….would he?  I ignored the cramping and got ready for 11 o clock mass at the CMC chapel, as I attended regularly during the winter.  While saying my rosary in there, the cramping became much worse.  I tried to hide it from a nurse who was also praying, but she knew.  A few hours later the physical pain had ended, and I had to begin the emotional pain—–the fact that I had miscarried.  That my precious gift from God was gone.  Although she was unexpected, she was planned by God himself.  And I was overjoyed at the thought of having a child to pass on my faith to, and share in the amazing gifts our faith has.  I looked forward to first days of school, baptism, first communion, what she would’ve been like, who she would’ve become.  All those days and dreams were gone.  All I had left of those dreams was a small bag of ashes, which I chose to bury next to my father.  I had a sense from the very beginning that she was a girl, and named her Delanie Rose.

3 years have passed, and while I have come so far in my grief journey, this day, each year, still feels raw.  I’ve stopped asking why God had to take her home—-for only he knows.  This year feels a bit worse than most, but I am still determined to grow.

Mommy loves you oh so much Delanie—-never, ever question if you were loved or wanted, because you were both.  You will forever be my Christmas Miracle, and each time I see a twinkle in the sky, or the wonder of the Christmas tree, I’ll think of you watching from heaven.  Everything I do, I do with you in mind.  I only hope that way up in heaven, you are looking down with all your angel friends, and saying “See that woman right there?  She’s my mommy, and I’m so proud of her.”

Oh…and one more thing——when it’s Grandma’s time to go meet you, and if I can’t make it there, please meet her, and make her crossing painless.  And give your grandpa a big hug from me.

I love you, always and forever, Delanie.

Love,

Mommy.

What’s in a Name?

Some of you by now have noticed a change in my Facebook appearance.  (Or maybe some of you are now double checking your facebook’s!)  If you look for Mandy Huot, you won’t find her.  Instead, I come up as Amanda.  For some of you, this wasn’t a shock—-you knew Amanda was my real name, but respected my choice to be known as Mandy.  Others simply assumed Mandy was my real name, because that’s how I introduced myself to you as, how ever many years ago we became friends.  Mandy was more than a nickname….

I chose Mandy to “hide behind”—why?  because I didn’t like who “Amanda” was.  Amanda was brought up hearing that she wouldn’t mount to anything more than clerical, retail or janitorial.  She grew up being told she was too fat and far too ugly to ever find a lasting relationship.  Amanda was brought up with each dream she had being shot down by trusted family members, for one reason or another.  Amanda was sexually abused, emotionally beaten, and all out disrespected by family members.  Amanda attempted suicide 5 different times.  Long story short—Amanda hated Amanda.  Thus, “Mandy” was born, and Mandy became someone new.  But Mandy was never truly happy—-for those same wounds were there—-the same person, in a sense, just a new name.  But Mandy grew a bit.  Eliminated the negative and emotionally abusive family members from her daily life.  Found a job she loves and made new friends who supported her.  Joined a new parish, got involved in the choir and tried something new in the form of cantoring.

Now—-I feel empowered and ready to make Amanda who she’s meant to be.  I am dedicating 2018 specifically to THAT.  Making Amanda not necessarily “skinny” or “thin”, but HEALTHY.  I’ll work on believing that there’s more to beauty than the outward appearance.  I’m growing my faith life, and plan to stay rooted in my faith, listening for the Holy Spirit’s promptings.  If I’m meant to be with somebody—-he will open that door in HIS time.  If I’m meant to carry a child again one day, that door too will open.

I’m also happy to announce within this blog that all of your good thoughts and prayers I asked for over the weekend were successful——-as of April of this year, I’ll be the Unit Coordinator for the Observation Unit opening up as part of CMC’s Emergency Department.  I am very excited to take this position, as it’s a major step towards freedom and independence.  I also plan to get a license, begin classes at NHTI, and continue writing. I currently have TWO books I’m working on, and also will FINALLY get my “Sacred Brokenness” tour written and hopefully up and running during the LENTEN season.

For those friends who have stayed with me, or joined at this point in my journey—I thank you.  And I do hope you will stay with me into this new beginning.

—-Amanda