Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

The Human Heart is the strongest muscle in the body.  It keeps our bodies living, and houses our soul.  I find it ironic that it is perhaps the easiest muscle to "break", and perhaps the hardest to heal.  But these tears and healings have the ability to make it even stronger.

This post it officially my last post to this blog.  I know I haven't written in quite some time, but I just couldn't.  Not because there weren't things moving in my soul, but because I didn't have words, and talking about Vivi's little sister, Iris, on her blog wasn't ok.  This space is sacred to me, and is devoted to her.  But in the past few weeks, my heart has experienced healing I didn't expect, and I've finally felt ready to finish here what I have started.

November 7, 2013, my world changed...and the hole left in my heart that I thought was healed, truly filled with a new love I couldn't have expected. November 7, Iris Gianna, Vivian's little sister was welcomed into this world.  She came in a hot hurry--I woke up at 7, we left for the hospital shortly after, and she was here at 11 am.

Many emotions surrounded these moments...had been hovering around the entire pregnancy.  A client helped me coin my emotions "optimistic hesitation".  How can I not be excited for a baby?  But, how could I not think about loosing my baby? Thank God I was puking and not able to relax before I received the epidural, because these thoughts weren't a part of me in the Labor and Delivery room, until the moment for her to come was upon us.  My doctor walks in, by himself, checks me, and says, "she's right there!  Ready?" Was I ready? But more importantly, I was wondering where everyone was--the nurses, the doctors--Vivi came into this world with quite the audience. And here we were, ready to bring this new life into the world without the "scene".  After about 5 minutes, and 3 pushes, Iris was here. 

Something happened as she was laid on my chest--there was no hurry to whisk her away, there was no 'exhale' when she started breathing, there was NO RUSH...I suddenly had no fear, no reservations to loving my new baby girl.  In those sacred first moments with Iris on my chest and Rod at my side, I felt Vivi so strongly present with us.  There had been this emptiness within me--not because Vivi was gone.  I miss her, I wish she was here, but the emptiness was more because I didn't get to live with her in the life I imagined. But here, laying on my chest was her twin (kinda creepy!)...and my new chance to love in a way that I would never be able to without loving Vivian.  My lost sense of sincerity and joy was found again in this strange piece that was needed back in my heart.  This piece (and peace) is not a replacement, not a 'band-aid', but necessary for my moving on and true healing as a mom, a wife, and a friend.


Today, on this beautiful holiday set aside for us to give thanks, I am so thankful--I am blessed.  I am blessed with an amazing husband.  I am blessed with two beautiful daughters.  I am blessed with an amazing grace of faith.  I am blessed with an awesome family. I am blessed with beautiful, true-blue, one of a kind, blessed-if-you-find-one-EVER friends. (I have a couple!) But most importantly today, I am thankful and feel so blessed for healing. For me, the unexpected gifts, are the most meaningful.

Thank you for being a part of our journey--of Vivian's story.  As I have said many times since she has died, it is just the beginning.  We are  blessed to be beginning Vivian's Victory--our own non-profit to help families who are experiencing some (and more) of what we experienced.  Please follow us on Facebook for updates as we start this journey--we absolutely want you as part of it! The start of VV is a story within itself, one that will be shared on its blog, as soon as we get it up and running...hopefully in January!

May your today be especially full of love and blessings, and again thank you for being with us along this journey :)

Monday, June 24, 2013

June 24

Chris you were right--I didn't post our exciting news MONTHS ago...I guess the announcement just made its way through Facebook.  To catch you up to speed:

This was found by our family in Easter Eggs, Easter Saturday.  God wanted to teach my heart a lesson--that there is always new life in embracing the cross.  After living my Calvary in the Church calendar, I had the grace of truly living New Life Easter brings.

Now it's June 24, and this Wednesday, we go to the doctor for our 20 week.  There are many emotions and thoughts that surround this date that I have been counting down to since I saw the "+" sign on the pregnancy test.  The hardest thing through this has been that Vivi is not growing inside me.  She isn't coming back, and that fact that a new life separate of her is being given to us is awesome, weird and bittersweet. 

Rod and my experience of seeing your child for the first time on the TV screen isn't the 'typical' experience--although we had the grace to have joy and love in our hearts despite the anguish of learning about Vivi's heart, our, well my view on this 20 week visit that is the pinnacle of pregnancy (i'm not counting birth) is tainted.  I don't expect to walk into the ultrasound room and see a beautiful healthy child.  I expect to see a beautiful child....but a beautiful, health-challenged child.  I have realized that I have been trying to be so positive, so optimistic, and most everyone buys in. But the truth is that the hardest person to "buy in" is myself, and it is AWFUL!  I hate that every time I have gone to the doctor my blood pressure is high for me, that I expect the worse and with every ache, pain, or weird feeling I wonder, "is this baby going to be ok?"  Surrendering these feelings is more difficult that giving Vivi back to Jesus...and I didn't think ANYTHING could be that hard.

Every child is a joy, a gift, and there is not a doubt in my mind that this child is the same.  I know that  this gift that is growing inside me, is another lesson on my journey.  That regardless of sickness or health, this child is special and has a very different pair of shoes to fill for Christ, and for this world. I am anxious to get a glimpse of what they might look like on Wednesday.  My prayer is upon seeing this child my heart is injected with a new hope--the Hope that comes from depending and surrendering completely on Christ.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Vivian's Victory 2013

We are about 10 weeks away from the Second Annual Vivian's Victory 5k Walk/Run.  This year, all the money will be benefitting 1heart2souls ( so we can spread Vivian's message of love and hope with other struggling families.  If you feel you are wanting to get involved, there are a few ways to do that:
  1.  COME!  Share the morning with us.  For those of you there last year, I am certain it will not rain.  Viv won't let that happen :)
  2.  DONATE!  If you would like to donate items for our silent auction or raffle, or can't make it to the event and still want to give a monetary donation, please call Janet, 513-478-4025.
  3.  PRAY!  Begin praying now for the event, and especially for the families that will be benefitting from your generosity.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day

My dearest Vivi,

Although I want to have you in my arms and cuddle cheek to cheek, I must admit that having a little Saint isn't all too bad.  I have been thinking a lot today about what being a mom means to me, and I realize, what I think now is all because of you.  No, I have no idea what a feeding schedule is, or when you transition from breast milk to baby food.  No, I have no idea what check-ups you need or when, or what shots to say yes or no to. No, I have no idea what number diapers you would need, or how much those things add up. But those things are silly.  None of those things really matter.  I know I have the ability to figure it out.  And in all honesty, pretty much anyone's opinion on any of those subjects is valid.

But what you have taught me and what I do know is that you, my child are a gift.  That the purpose any child is to make the world better....especially to make me better.  What you taught me I couldn't learn from just could only be from you.  I have learned what true strength is--and who really gives it.  I have learned that the best (and easiest thing in the long run) is to let go of you, and put my trust in the One who created both of us, knowing He loves us both and only wants what is best.  You have taught me that love is not something that only brings joy, but pain and sorrow, because you give so completely of your heart.  You have taught me that sleepless nights aren't worth getting too upset about, and that a baby's cry at any time--day or night-- is perfect.  You have taught me that just because dreams don't come true the way I planned, doesn't mean that they weren't ok...or that they might just pan out a little differently than expected.  But most importantly, you have taught me that a mother's love is perhaps the most powerful thing of this earth--it could only change me for the good.  And for that, I have you to forever thank. 

I know that more babies will come, but God knows the perfect order.  None could have taught me the values of love that you could one could have better prepared me for life, the life I have always truly wanted, but you.  This my dear, is the greatest gift...the greatest gift I am so thankful, so blessed I was able to share with you.  You are my Sunshine...

I love you,

Saturday, March 2, 2013

March 2

This morning I ran a 5K.  Although this wasn't my first, I have participated in a hand-full, this was the first since I have been actively trying to be a running enthusist.  Getting ready this morning I was so excited to immerse myself in the excitment of race day--the crowds, the music, the anticipation if accomplishment--the atmosphere of race day is a high.  I knew going in to this, that there was a bit of a 'bump in the road' for me.  A few weeks ago while running a five mile circuit, my right knee just had a little "pop".  Immediately, there was some pain and probably more fear, knowing that the potential of immense damage was possible.  One thing I knew for sure, the rate at which I was running was going to significantly decrease.  Needless to say, I have not run five miles since this, I can barely run a 5K without pain.  However, I wasn't going to miss the race.

I started out at a good pace, feeling good.  But then, not even a mile in, the pain began.  I immediately wondered if I would be able to finish.  As I began to get really discouraged, I found myself running a little harder so I wouldn't stop.  And then it happened.  The pain buckled in my knee and I knew I had to stop for a few minutes--luckily I had just come up to a set of steps so I stretched for a minute, walked a little further, and continued with my run.  I hadn't seen any mile markers for awhile but figured I was really slowing down, or I wasn't paying attention (although the combination basically hits the nail on the head, I am leaning more toward the latter).  My body felt like it was needing to be finished.  Just then, my friend caught up with me and asked, "do you want to sprint to the finish?" Quickly I answered "no", and was thinking "heck, I am barely making ti here, there is no way I am sprinting!"  and off I watched her go.  The finish was just around the corner, still out of sight.  My head began the playing my litany over and over, "you are stronger than your are stronger than your body!"  As I brought my eyes up from the pavement, I saw it.  FINISH in huge red letters.  I don't know why, and I don't know from where the tears came, but they streamed. 

This is how I want my life to be.  I want to always be focused and encouraged that I can cross the finish line running.  I thought about Vivi, she will always be on the other side.  She completed her race in record time and is cheering me on to my Victory! Life has the ups and downs of the course, it has different road blocks, different delays and detours, but the Start and the Finish Line are always there.  St. Vivi pray that I have the strength, the hope, and the determination to keep running until I cross that Finish line!  And I would like to cross it with my PR :)

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

February 26

"This journey is not for the faint of heart"
                                       Gandolf to Frodo in the Lord of the Rings:The Fellowship of the Ring

Lent.  Not particularly my favorite time of the liturgical season, not because I do not believe in the great need for change of heart, but because that most usually means some sort of 'growing pain'.  Those pains I am not quite keen of.  And quite honestly, not just those pains, but all pains I would like to sever out of my life period.  As Ash Wednesday rolled around 2 weeks ago, I was explaining all these things to Christ, and in return, He held out His hand and stated, "Walk with me in the desert".  How dare Christ ask me this.  I have been in the desert going on 5 months since Vivi died.  I know You have the power to hurtle me over the desert, so why won't You?  After a few other spurts of colorful reasons why this was a TERRIBLE request, in typical Maria fashion I got up and ran to catch up with Christ.

And already 2 weeks in, Christ has given me such grace to continue deeper into the desert.  Just in the past few days I have been tried in ways that have collectively been almost as hard as giving Vivi back to Heaven.  Each time I have wanted to give into Satan's temptations to drop the cross and run for my life out of the desert, God's Mercy has been so great, each time, He has rescued me.  When I have thought about running, Christ has looked into my heart, bent under the weight of His own cross, reaching out His hand, and has encouraged me to keep going. "For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you.  Plans to give you hope and a future'." He has greater plans for me--plans to get me through the desert-- not go over, not go under, not go around, but to barrel through.  At other times in my life I would have not accepted His mercy. Lets be real, there would have been a DEFINITE negative RSVPed to that invite.  But for whatever reason He wants me here-in the desert.  And I will continue through this desert, if you want me to.

Monday, January 14, 2013

January 14

This post is a few weeks in the making.  I wanted to do it Jan. 1 because I truly feel that although I dub last year "The Year of Great Love" because it was all about Vivi, and I will always consider it one of my best years, I know this year is going to be the best year of my life.  Vivi lets us know that too--she is very present to both Rod and I.  Rod sees Blue Jays all the time, and I see flying "V"s when I least expect them.  I know she wants it to be known that she is with us in a way that none of our other children will be.  Our calendar for the first few months is already packed with good things--I am starting a 3 week course to become a Nurse's Aid, Youth ministry is really taking off and Rod and I are beginning classes to become foster parents.

Rod and I got through the holidays easily, thanks to pre-Christmas break-downs.  The week after Christmas we were able to sneak away and remember all the reasons we really love each other.  I am so thankful for such a remarkable husband!  There truly is no one else in the world I could have gone through all this with.

Since I haven't been working since Vivi died, I have had a lot of time to feel.  This perhaps is the greatest gift Rod has given me ever, because it has allowed my heart to finally be open to growth that I have needed for a very long time.  If you haven't already gathered about me, music is a big part of my life and I do believe it is in the top 3 ways God speaks to me.  Lady Antebellum have a song called "I Run to You".  It begins like this:

I run from hate, I run from prejudice
I run from pessimists, but I run too late
I run my life or is it running me, run from my past
  I run too fast or too slow it seems

The past month or so this verse has kept popping into my head without hearing this song.  I wasn't too sure why, but then I had an interesting conversation with my mom and I realized why.

My whole life I have run away from what I don't want, whether it be because my life got hard, became too mundane, I was scared--I jumped from one thing to the next, went place to place to cover up the "negative" I felt to try something new.  With the "newness" came a different kind of chaos, a chaos that was fun and exciting....but eventually got old and the cycle would begin again.

Vivi, broke the cycle.  She became the only person, the only thing I have ever loved above everything else in my life.  For her, I cried.  For her, I felt the pain.  For her, I lived my greatest fear.  For her, I stayed.  And I would stay, and stay and stay.  Vivian, although she touched so many and came for so many people, I do believe, the greatest reason she came to this world, and died, was for me.  The one person who wanted it the least, but needed it  A child's vocation is to get their parents closer to heaven.  Viv...what a show off.  59 days.

So to begin this new year, I am running.  Not away, but for a purpose.  I began training for the Flying Pig Saturday in Vivi's honor.  This is something I have wanted to do for about 8 years, but as I would start training, it would get "hard" and I would quit.  Not this time!  The training is kicking my butt big time, but I know its what my girl wants me to do--again not just for her, but more importantly for me. And she told me.  As I finshed my first run Saturday morning, a flying "V" met me on the way to my car :)