Lessons about abundance, scarcity, and the strength of God’s love

Relationships

August 26, 2020

motherhood
our home
portfolio
follow @everyday_mamas
Here is where we share all things related to home and design—written by everyday mamas, just like you.
Motherhood
Relationships
Home
Musings
more categories
EM

My husband and I locked eyes at the dinner table. Wide-eyed and stone faced, our forks frozen in mid-air as our children began screeching yet another nonsensical song about spaghetti squash. Just as I moved to quiet them, our two-year-old daughter broke into a solo, reaching a record-breaking crescendo that rivaled the likes of Idina Menzel. 

Then the newborn shrieked along, and our sons burst into hysterical laughter. I watched my husband’s face slowly melt into a smile that became a laugh, and I exhaled, joined in the ruckus and thought, “This is everything.”

Six years ago, however, my life looked very different. 

I used to live in a big house with my sons. The love, compassion, and protection of my sons’ father vanished when I made a personal decision to return to practicing my Catholic faith. Emotional upheaval filled the void, and my world turned upside down.

This was my first real experience with scarcity of love.

But in this time of scarcity, God was giving me an abundance of grace. He was asking me to pray, to trust and to listen. And for one of the first times in my life, I did.

With two little boys in the house, I endured what I had to for their sake. I moved into the guest room down the hall and threw myself into caring for my two young sons during the day. I used the little energy I had to squeeze out the biggest bear hugs and tickles, saving my worries and tears until they were fast asleep. 

The evenings were hardest. This is when I experienced the most anger from the boys’ father about my faith. I would quietly close the door to the guest bedroom, turn off my light and curl up in a ball under the weight of the covers. I threw myself at the feet of our Lord, admitting my frailty and offering up whatever I could for the resolution of the pain.

As weeks and months went by without relief, I started praying for clarity. I asked the Lord to give me eyes of faith, and as I prayed I felt my breathing slow to a steady pace, as if someone had scooped me into their arms. Inhaling and exhaling more deeply than I had in a long time, I closed my eyes and began to dream. In my dream, I saw a tiny apartment.

In my dream, I saw a tiny apartment.

In the dream, our big house had fallen away, along with its possessions that I once believed made a house a home. My subconscious fashioned a tiny, imaginary apartment located on “somewhere boulevard” that contained very little.

I imagined two bedrooms; one for myself and another for my sons. In my bedroom, I saw a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary on my nightstand, the one that used to be my grandmother’s. I saw this as a symbol of the promise of joy that would come with the freedom to celebrate my faith and to share it with my children. The freedom to share all of myself. 

The boys’ room was equally as small with just a few toys to keep them occupied. And then there were the three of us: smiling, laughing and sharing bowls of macaroni and cheese for dinner. We weren’t stressed and I wasn’t worried about the boy’s father. 

It may sound like a modest dream to some, but for me, it was a dream of great abundance—a place where there was peace, happiness, and love in our home. That imaginary apartment became a refuge from my mental, physical and emotional anguish. It gave me hope that maybe someday, everything would be okay. 

A few months later, the boys’ father and I decided to separate. I stayed at the house with the boys during the week while they were in school, and then their father would come back on the weekends while I stayed with my parents. I took a job in a restaurant and began saving money. 

Although the months we were separated provided only a temporary reprieve, I can look back and see that the Lord was providing everything I needed each step of the way. Nothing more and nothing less.

I can look back and see that the Lord was providing everything I needed each step of the way. Nothing more and nothing less.

Then, everything changed. 

One sunny morning that spring, I answered a knock on the door with my one-year-old on my hip. I looked up at a man who asked me to confirm my name. Then he handed me a manilla folder. I closed the door, my heart pounding and my hands trembling. 

I opened the folder to see that the boys’ father had filed for sole custody of our children. Blindsided, sucker-punched, devastated and terrified, I burst into tears. In a matter of seconds, the four walls around me closed in and I could no longer trust the floor beneath my feet. It suddenly felt like the house itself had betrayed us, exposing our vulnerability and denying us protection. I took a deep breath, trusting that God would somehow make this good.

The year that followed was nothing short of daunting. My sons and I moved back home with my parents, whose abundance of unconditional love, patience and generosity was the salve to our wounds. 

But I could not escape the reality of my precarious situation. I didn’t have the financial means to afford exorbitant legal fees in a state that does not favor one parent over the other. My hand was forced, and I had to agree that our sons would live primarily with their father. I would be the one with visitation. 

The loss was indescribable, unanticipated and blinding. I continued to pray for greater faith, and the Lord continued to show me that His way is perfect.

On my first Easter without my sons, I could barely breathe. I went to Mass and knelt before the cross. Who else could better understand my wounds than the One who voluntarily took on scarcity out of an abundance of love? 

At the sign of the peace, a man sitting in the pew in front of me turned around and offered his hand. “Peace be with you,” he said. The kindness in his smile changed my life. 

It would seem God not only has perfect wisdom, but perfect humor as well, because this man with the dashing smile and assuring handshake would later become my husband, Al. I’ll save the rest of that story for another day, but suffice it to say, that Easter Sunday Jesus opened the door for hope, peace and love to come back into my life. 

At the sign of the peace, a man sitting in the pew in front of me turned around and offered his hand. “Peace be with you,” he said. The kindness in his smile changed my life. 

Two years later, Al and I were married in the same church where we first met. He took to the vocation of fatherhood more beautifully than I could have ever hoped, modeling for my sons everything that it means to be loving, faith-filled and generous. 

And God blessed us with additional children, too. When our oldest daughter was 9 months old, I found out I was pregnant with a son. He was diagnosed with a rare chromosomal condition, and our dear little boy passed away during my second trimester.  Six months later on his due date, we found out that we were expecting another baby. God had turned the scarcity in our hearts over our son’s loss into an abundance of gratitude for the blessing of another life. Our second daughter was born just days before Christmas that same year. 

Together, we have given each other the gift of abundance. Not an abundance of money, things, or popularity, but an abundance of love, patience, total acceptance, mutual respect and a shared faith. 

While the custodial agreement remains unchanged to this day, we continue to pray that the Lord will give us the wisdom, peace and clarity to live out his will for our family. We live in the hope our faith promises that God makes our scarcity beautiful and that his work is nowhere near finished.

As I came back to the laughter-filled dinner table, I became very aware of our family’s abundance. I looked over at my husband and marveled at his patience, generosity of spirit and abounding love for our children. His smile alone is still the most reassuring and grounding comfort.

I looked over at my sons as their eyes danced around the table, losing themselves in total silliness and giggles with such carefree abandon. What an abundance of joy to watch those two brave little boys, who endured an incredible burden at such young ages, whose hearts have remained open to give and receive an abundant outpouring of love and affection. In this my biggest prayer was answered. And for that, I am abundantly grateful.  

As I glanced over at our toddler, her expression full of wonder and delight in her awesomely hilarious big brothers, I felt an overwhelming joy. As the baby waved her arms about in her bassinet, I felt an immense gratitude not only for her health, but for my late son’s life that brought us hers.  

The Lord loves each of us out of His abundance and we are called as Christians to do the same.

In that moment I realized how wealth, possessions and achievements will never be able to satisfy. I could have turned my back on the Lord, and spent my life running after something fleeting. But true riches are found in love, and love exists in abundance around humble dinner tables in houses lining the sidewalks on somewhere boulevard. The Lord loves each of us out of His abundance and we are called as Christians to do the same. With this love comes an unbroken promise of protection, guidance and eternal happiness.

Whenever I catch myself worrying or becoming anxious about the future, I close my eyes and imagine that tiny apartment. And then I remember what it felt like when Al smiled at me that Easter Sunday in church. 

There I am reminded of the peace, joy and gratitude faith promises. In God’s infinite goodness, he saved my family from our scarcity and taught me that abundance of love is all the abundance we need. A life without love is a scarcity we can’t afford.

Comments +

Reply...

DESIGNING SPACES that FEEL WELL-LOVED, INSPIRED, and INTENTIONAL

 We offer e-design, in-person consultations, and full-service design. Our pricing is based on an hourly rate and dependent on the scope of the project. Please inquire to receive a link to our questionnaire and schedule a free 15-minute phone call to discuss your project goals. 

let's work together