My Day with the Lord in Poustinia, Homeschooling and more

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“I have said this to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33

Two days ago I spent ten hours at the Madonna House, a house of prayer and listening. I had been thinking and praying about going there for many years now, ever since I first visited the Madonna House and learned about what it is to make a ‘Poustinia’ which they offer there. Poustinia is a Russian word that means desert. As I read in the papers they gave me so I could learn more when I first arrived, “it is a time to meet Christ in joyful solitude.” This is what I had been needing for so long. A time away from the world, from my ever busy daily life to just be with Jesus alone. I needed time to cry (which I did), to read the Bible, to just think and listen to the Lord in prayer and to be able to pour my heart and soul out to Him.

It has been a rough year and a half. I had a rough pregnancy in which I had to be on intravenous fluids for seven weeks in my home due to dehydration. The nausea and vomiting were just too much this time around. My sciatica once again reared its painful head for a few months in the latter part of my pregnancy which caused a great deal of pain and frustration and made it difficult to move certain ways or get around easily. My son had to be born by emergency c-section because his heart rate kept dropping with my contractions and the doctor was afraid his heart would not tolerate a couple of hours of pushing, which is what it would have taken to get him out naturally because he was too high up. Not to mention the fact that during this scary time the doctor put a  heart rate monitor on his scalp to better monitor him and we still could not find his heart rate at one point. I never was so scared in all my life- I thought the baby was dead. I kept looking from my doctor to my husband back and forth while my heart raced with fear. Turns out the nurse had just plugged the cord into the wrong connection. I finally asked my doctor what we were going to do and told him how scared I was getting. He thought a few seconds more and told me firmly but compassionately that we were going to do a c-section. After seventeen hours of labor, I was extremely exhausted, I had been trying to push and I had hardly anything left in me. I was both relieved and frightened. It happened so fast. The nurses and doctors got me and my husband ready. The doctor had the baby out within a couple of minutes once we got to the OR. As I laid on the OR table with my arms both out to the sides in cruciform position I immediately thought of our Lord on the cross suffering and dying for us. I prayed for my baby to be okay, for me to be okay. I offered up my sufferings as a good Catholic should do. I offered up my sufferings for all the special people in my life and all their needs. So much suffering in this world is wasted because people do not offer it up and unite it with our Lord’s on the cross to help others. I was determined to offer mine up for so many who are suffering far worse than I ever will or far worse than I could ever imagine.

You see, during the whole pregnancy I had a horrible gut motherly feeling, the kind only a mother knows, that something scary or bad was going to happen. I never told anyone not even my husband until the end of the pregnancy. And so it happened-I had to have the c-section that my doctor knew that I NEVER wanted. I had to have it to save my child’s life. I praised God so much after that for the gift of modern medicine and for the gift of advancement in surgical procedures. I thought a lot about all those women and babies who always used to die so many years ago because they needed a c-section but could not have one. I praised God for the gift of my doctor who knew the right thing to do and when to do it. It was a rough, very painful recovery. I could not even carry my baby for a few weeks afterwards because of the pain. Oh, such burning pain in my abdomen. I never knew that it would be so horrible. I offered it all up. What a gift, to be able to suffer and to be more closely united with our Lord! How much better to suffer when you know it is not in vain but that it can help another soul in this world or in purgatory. I cried for about 6 weeks after the baby was born not just because of my physical recovery but because I was just full of emotions, sad, happy, grateful, worried, lonely,scared and a whole host of other things. I was an emotional wreck. But slowly and gradually the Lord gave me healing and I picked myself up again.

As a homeschooling mom, life can not just slow down when you have a baby. I could not let my older children get behind in their school work so a few weeks later we started ‘hitting the books’.  Homeschooling is a way of life for us. This is our 11th school year and it is filled with so many challenges and joys all at the same time. I would not change it for anything in the world.

When the baby was three months old we had a very traumatizing event occur in our home which really threw my family and I for a loop. I know we still have some healing to do from it. We have come a far way but still have a ways to go, but God in His mercy is giving us the tools we need to succeed and find peace about what happened. So, you see these past eight months of taking care of a new baby who is very active, homeschooling an 11th, 7th, 2nd, and very anxious-to-learn pre-schooler plus dealing with a traumatic incident in our home has taken a toll on me. I have been stressed, anxious, and fearful about many things. I have not been myself.

I went to Madonna House to make a poustinia in order to sort it all out in my head and my heart. I was there to work it out with the Lord. I was there to find my inner peace that I had until it was trampled upon by those I love and hold dear and yes, whom I forgive from the bottom of my heart. A line was crossed with my children and it has affected them and me greatly. It is such a difficult situation so I continue to try every day to put it in the Lord’s hands and ask Him to make all things well. I continue to try to trust Him completely, to surrender all of my fears and concerns to Him who can do all things. I know I haven’t blogged lately-it’s been almost four months mostly because I don’t have time to even think some days but mostly because I have been very distracted lately.

Life with five children sure seems a lot busier than with four. It’s hard taking care of your infant son while your 3 year old needs help or wants you to play or hold just her. It’s hard teaching your seven year old to count money while your baby needs you. It’s hard writing out lesson plans for the week for your high-schooler and middle-schooler  while your younger two daughters want you to play with or read to them. It’s hard to stay awake at night to give time and attention to your husband when you are so tired from the day but it’s the only uninterrupted time there is in the day. It’s hard helping your older two children with their school work when you feel like you are being pulled in five different directions. It’s hard to find quiet time at home to just listen to the Lord when you have five incredible children who need you and whom He has so graciously bestowed on you. It’s hard but by the grace of God He gets me through each and every single day.

Do I ever think about how much easier it would be if my older children went to school? Do I ever think about how much more cleaning, how much more alone time I would get? Yes, I think about it! But the Lord in His mercy called me to homeschooling many years ago. It is indeed a calling. Just as some women are called to be nuns or sisters, teachers, doctors, lawyers or missionaries, I and my husband were called by the Lord to homeschool our children. We are convicted by the Holy Spirit and we know that it is from the Lord. It is not something we do on a whim. It is the Lord’s will. I would have put them in school years ago if it had been MY idea. It was and continues to be the Lord’s will for our family. Homeschooling is not easy. It can be very difficult and challenging at times but life is not supposed to be easy. Jesus told us we would have trials and tribulations and that it would be difficult. He told us to take up our cross daily and follow Him. I wouldn’t trade homeschooling for anything in the world. I love being with my children. I enjoy their company. I love teaching them and seeing them through the ups and downs of life.

I know that I have been all over the place in this blog but I think I really needed to vent, to share, to unburden my thoughts and my soul, to think aloud and to just get it all down. Journaling, as a form of prayer, can be very productive. God took me to the Madonna House into Poustinia to think, to pray, to vent to the Lord, to read and pray with the Scriptures, to heal, to fast, to just be alone with Him in silence and in solitude. He took me there to open my heart up to His plan for the next chapter in my life. It was a wonderful, incredible experience. I felt like I was on a date with my Beloved Lord and I am so grateful He called me to go. What an awesome experience and I do feel so renewed and strengthened in spirit because of the time I spent with Him there. I plan to go again and I can’t wait.

I thank you Lord for everything especially for my FIVE greatest treasures on this earth that you so perfectly knit in my womb. I am humbled that you would think that I your “little” daughter could raise them up for You– A Great and Mighty King.”

To God I Give All The Glory!!! Amen and Alleluia!!