Thursday, January 31, 2013

Extreme Makeover Part 2 - We "Plan" while God laughs

On January 11th, 2013, I was all by myself & on my way to visit my husband in Wichita. Patrick’s mother, Kathleen, called and asked me if I knew anyone who could come in and clean up the Connor’s house. She lives states away and had the same gnawing feeling that everyone else had of needing to do something for her son & his family. I replied, “I think I can do better than that.” I assured her that I could get a few friends together and really go at the housework if she would get them out of the house for a weekend.

 The dates were chosen and it was time to send out the e-mail to my homeschool loop. My original e-mail asked for volunteers for a “deep cleaning, yard work, mounting a ‘couple’ book shelves, etc.” I had NO idea how this endeavor would end up. 61 families responded to my e-mail. I don’t think I know 61 families but whatever, I’ll take it. I had 2 weeks to come up with a plan. I asked a couple of my partners in crime, Laura Holden and Ginette Green, to come to the Connor’s home and help me figure out what each room needed. I took notes and made categories. We made a perfect team. We each had qualities, idea’s and personalities that complimented each other. Laura is a thinker, organizer and planner. PERFECT!! The planning scenario went something like this…. As we went into each room, Laura placed herself in the center of the room, circled it slowly and put her index finger on her lips and chin for about 2 minutes while Ginette and I stared at her in stone silence. The talking and planning and taking notes began. Off to the next room with a repeat of silence and watching Laura think. Before we knew it, 3 hours have gone by and every room had a plan.

 I went home and sent out my first e-mail that consisted of everything we wanted to have donated. Since people were willing and in the mood to help in ANY way they could, this was tooo easy. The donations began pouring in. I had a family from every part of the metro area offering to be a drop off point for donations. Philip & Natlie Sadler up North, Laura Holden in Independence, Stephanie Jacobson on the Kansas side, me in South Kansas city & Ginette Green in Raymore. I tried to keep my new “Helping Connors e-mail loop” up-to-date with what donations have been taken. Within a day, I almost had everything I needed so I thought up of some “pie in the sky” donations, as I liked to call them. They were donations that were for luxury only and were not necessary. These were items like a mattress pad, electric blanket, etc.

 Since I didn’t want to overwhelm the e-mail loop, I sent out my plans one at a time. First was the pleading for donations. The second e-mail was the “Big Jobs”. I look at my list of big jobs and just laugh now. But when I was typing them out, the only one that was laughing was God & Nolan. “You poor, poor girl. You have no idea what is really going to happen.”

 This was my “Big Jobs” list….

 Pick up carpet & tack stips in hallway (maybe boys room too)

Pull bunk beds apart & separate into 2 separate beds

Find the studs and mount the hooks by front door

Mount bookshelves in living room and possibly the kids bedrooms

Put up a new screen door in the front

Put up curtains and curtain rods

Fix hole in family room floor

In bathroom, boys room, girls room

Put up door stops in all the rooms

Clean out Patricks car

Bent fence in the back yard

Trim branches hovering over the driveway

Make an altar on the family room shelf

Get rid of the non working appliances (3 dryers, 1 refrigerator, 1 dishwasher)

Make a corner in the basement a play area for the kids

Put toilet in the parents bathroom

Put door knob on the back door

 
Yes, God was laughing. This was about 5% of what really happened that weekend.

 

To be continued…..

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Extreme Makeover Part 1 – Comfort the Sorrowful


In the Catholic Church, there are 7 Spiritual works of mercy. Some of them are: Counsel the doubtful, bear wrongs patiently, instruct the ignorant. Comforting the sorrowful is the spiritual work of mercy that friends, family and acquaintances have been offering the Connors family ever since the terrible tragic day of Dec. 31, 2012.  Eleven year old, Liam, tells his mother that his 13 year old brother, Nolan, looks sick. Mom walks into Nolan’s bedroom to find his lifeless body on the bed. For reasons yet to be known, the young boy had passed away sometime in the night. I can’t even imagine how she must feel. Only once for less than a minute did I feel like something terrible MIGHT have happened to one of my kids. That was the longest minute of my life. I was physically nauseated and an emotional whirlwind. I cannot wrap my brain around that minute lasting for an hour, a day, months or years.
I can think of one mother & father who lost their son, their only son. The mother was the most loving and nurturing, not only to her son but to everyone young & old. There is no one that was more undeserving of such suffering. Her son not only died a violent death but she had to clean up the bloody mess. Watching Nolan’s grandpa clean up the blood that was spilled by the EMT’s reminded me of this story.  The parallels were striking. I know that Jill could seek comfort from this mother. Her name is Mary, our spiritual Mother in Heaven. Jill & Patrick are feeling abandoned by God as they suffer, have no answers and do not see the point of robbing them of their precious boy.  Another person that can relate to this feeling is Jesus. God’s Son even felt abandoned by His Father, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” He felt abandoned by the same Father that took Nolan. The parallels of Jesus’ death and Nolan’s death do not stop with feeling abandoned by God. The story continues. With the death of Jesus came redemption, mercy, the opening of heaven, blessings, graces and more graces being poured out. The death of Nolan will and has brought redemption, mercy and graces that I thought would be sprinkled everywhere. How na├»ve I was!! There has been a downpour of graces that I can’t WAIT to tell you about!

People are coming out of the woodwork giving support to this family. The funeral plans were immediately paid for in full by an anonymous donor. Thousands of dollars were collected, flowers, gifts and gift cards are overflowing their home. The outpouring of comfort is constant. Everyone wants to do more.

“What do they need?”

“How can I help?”

“Do they have clothes for the funeral?”

“Do the boy’s need haircuts?”

“How are they with food?”

“Do they need help cleaning up for company?”

“Are all of their appliances working?”

“Do they need a deep freezer for all their meals?”

“Tell me what to do!!?”

To begin with, friends from the homeschool community set up a breakfast/lunch/dinner schedule for 2 months straight. The slots filled up quickly. They were inundated with food and supplies by day 3. The donated deep freezer was on its way!

Within 3 days, all the kids clothes….shoes, belts, tie’s, socks, dress shirts, dresses, stockings, suit pants & jackets were bought and delivered for all of the kids. A generous wife & mother, Linda, made a wonderful video tribute of Nolan and worked together with my husband to get it set up and on display for the visitation and funeral. There were visitors and playdates for the surviving kids to keep them distracted and happy.

 Although the outpouring of support was overwhelming and miraculous, people were still left with all these feelings that they needed to do more.

 

And more came….:))

 

To Be Continued……

 

 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Trying to make sense


Eternal Rest grant unto him O Lord and let your perpetual light shine upon him and may he rest in peace.

 The world lost a beautiful boy on Dec. 31st, 2012. His name is Nolan Connors. He was the oldest out of 5 children. Nolan was only 13 years old. He was a remarkable young man. He was so gentle and kind to his younger brothers and sisters. He was always thinking about other people. He went to bed completely fine. Sometime in the night, he just stopped breathing and was brought back home to God. As you can imagine, this is a terrible blow to his parents. Just 10 days earlier, Nolan gave his mom a booklet that was full of everything he was going to do for her in the next year. He was full of love. Their suffering is greater than I can imagine. Why must they suffer so much? What the heck is the point of this pain?  I remember asking myself this question years ago when I was talking to a mom who was unable to have any more children after her 2nd one was born. This woman was the happiest and most joyful and reverent woman I knew. Why would God not want her to have dozens of children?!  During my studies about Purgatory and suffering, the puzzle pieces began coming together. Is it better to suffer the way these parents have, who have brought up this young man the way they were instructed by God, than it is in Purgatory?

Without question, it is better to suffer on earth than in Purgatory for 3 reasons:

One, suffering on earth is easier and less painful.

Two, we increase our own merit with our sufferings here on earth. However, our sufferings in Purgatory earn us no extra merit. All opportunity to gain merit ends at death. Here is a simple example to illustrate. Imagine we are “cups” of all sizes, meant to be filled with God’s grace. Sin empties us, taking away grace. Each time we suffer on earth and unite our sufferings to Christ’s, offering them as a sacrifice to the Lord for ourselves and others, we not only add grace to our cup, but we increase the size of our cup. Therefore, each time we embrace suffering as God’s gift for our betterment, we increase our capacity to hold more grace. In Heaven, our “cup” will be completely filled, no matter our size. All souls will be completely happy and fulfilled, but some will have the capacity to hold more. This “extra capacity” is the merit we have earned on earth by saying to “yes” to all God sends us. However, in Purgatory, our sufferings do not increase the size of our “cup” any longer.

Third, each time we embrace suffering here on earth with love, not only do we bring grace to ourselves, but also to the whole world. This perhaps is the greatest reason to willingly embrace suffering here on earth because it is true charity toward others. Each good act here on earth has positive benefits for the entire Body of Christ, i.e. fellow man. Each act brings grace into us and the world. Suffering in purgatory does not bring grace to the world; it simply serves as a means to purify us, but brings no added grace or merit to anyone on earth. True charity impels us to desire suffering on earth in order that we can help others by accepting our own. Many of the saints actually said that the angels have a holy jealousy toward us because of our ability to suffer, which demonstrates our love for God and others.

(copied and pasted from piercedhearts.org)

If it is really better to suffer here than in Purgatory, than I am getting a greater understanding about why God chose the mom that dreamed her entire life of having a quiver full of children and these parents who lost their son. Their faith is so great that God is blessing them with this suffering.  If you are not Catholic, I imagine that you are gasping. To put in more plain words; God is having them suffer their Purgatory on Earth for the redemption of themselves, their family and those in the Church Suffering (Purgatory) and Church Militant (here on Earth). God knows that these parents will use this suffering for the salvation of souls. God is making it easier to “increase the size of their cup”.

“Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church” Colossians 1:24 Read that slowly again.

 “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church”

There is a verse in the Bible that says that Christ didn’t do enough? His suffering was lacking something? We have to make up for what He was lacking by suffering ourselves? Not quite. Of course Christ’s suffering was lacking nothing. He is making room for us to join Him in our sufferings. When we join Him, we can be joyful because we are uniting ourselves to Christ. It is redemptive.  It is our Purgatory time on Earth.

Nolan’s death reminds me of all of the Old Testament deaths that seemed so senseless and undeserving. Several times, God orders a “ban” on cities and nations. A “ban” meant that every person, animal and material goods were to be wiped out completely. Inevitably, that meant women, children and babies. Why would He ask such a thing and expect us to believe that He is a merciful God? Children and babies…..(Nolan)?  It would make a sane person want to just flip to the New Testament where we can find our loving Father, Son and Holy Spirit who is all good, merciful and forgiving. To avoid believing that these are two separate God’s and therefore being labeled a heretic, we need to make sense of these deaths that are ordered by our loving, forgiving and merciful Father that we know and love.

My Bible study teacher had explained to the class that this was a total and complete sacrifice to God and that it was an in-your-face reminder as to whom these people belonged to in the first place. EVERYTHING belongs to God.         EVERYTHING. The only reason we are here today is because God planted us here at this time for a purpose. We belong to Him and he entrusts our parents to raise and care for us until we return back to our real home.  We have a job to do. We have a purpose to raise our children to love and serve God so they can be happy with Him in the next, even if it’s only for 13 short years. Nolan’s parents fulfilled their job in lesser time then they hoped but never-the-less, their job is complete. They are my hero’s and my role models.



 

“May the Lord Bless you and keep you. May the Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you! May the Lord look upon you with kindness and give you peace!” Numbers 6:24-26