Tuesday, August 4, 2015

#UnplannedParenthood Part Two

***Before I begin to share this story, you should know I have talked with his Birth Mother and made sure to get permission to share her story.

I shared my story about my first experience with #UnplannedParenthood and now I want to share with everyone my second, most unexpected, story and blessing of #UnplannedParenthood.  It is especially amazing as we get ready to celebrate our 3rd Fantastic Five Day {our special name for Adoption Day} with our chosen, and very much unplanned child, Keegan.  The unbelievable gift of adoption placed him in our lives.  The very opposite of abortion but no less heartbreaking for the mother. 

I am so overwhelmingly grateful for every woman who made the choice to not abort their child and instead choose the beautiful option of adoption.  The amazing selflessness and courage these birth mothers show in the face of adversity is something so heroic it can not be put into words.  As I shared in my first story, I could never have the strength to have made that decision.  To know another woman is raising and loving my child would have broken my heart into a million unrecoverable pieces.  Because of that knowledge, I have such a special relationship with our Birth Mom.  I know how she suffers but I also know how happy she is to know her little boy is loved and cared for. 

Keegan is the poster child for Abortion.  I mean this in the most respectful way.  So many people who advocate for abortion and places like Planned Parenthood use the examples of children conceived through rape to teenage, uneducated, drug addicted mothers.  This is my son's exact story and start to his life.  This boy would be the perfect reason to walk inside a clinic and make the appointment to rid the world of his existence.  My son, who has suffered so much in the first 2 and a half years of life.  My son who is so beautiful, inside and out.  A little boy who captured this mama's heart at hello and who literally changed me into the person I am today.   This boy, the world says, should not exist.  She didn't listen.

Somehow through the grace of God she knew she was meant to bring him into this world.  She had determination to see her "choices" through to the other side.  Thank God she felt a baby growing inside her and knew it was such an important job to give him life.  She loved him enough and took a chance on her #unplannedparenthood.  She was so scared but refused to believe the naysayers that told her it would not be worth it.  She didn't listen 

So Happy This Little Boy Came Into The World

She had everything going against her.  She was 16 and had just learned to drive.  She had definitely been known to party a time or two.  She had no job and was in high school.  The father of her baby was abusive and was accused of raping her.  He was currently in jail.  I can't even begin to imagine the fear her future must have held for her. Even with all of that adversity facing her, she still said yes to life.  I can't begin to imagine the judgement, ridicule and bullying she would have had to deal with .  Mostly from people who call themselves pro life.  I know it must have been hard, because even though I was 3 years older than her, I had walked that path.  I knew how convincing these pro life cowards can be.  She didn't listen.

Sweet Cheeks

When Keegan was born it was far from an easy road for her.  Her addictions grew over time and it was a huge struggle for a teenage mom to raise a son she was not prepared for.  She had a variety of helpers who would take care of her son on the weekends.  She had a support system but it never seemed like enough.  It was hard to live on her own and make ends meet.  It was pretty clear that Keegan was not receiving the right care and he was starting to suffer.  She was exhausted, mentally drained, addicted and overwhelmed.  The Pro Abortion advocates would use this part of the story to say, "see, he would have been better off never having been born."  She didn't listen.

A Beautiful Picture of Keegan And His Birth Mother

When I had the pleasure of meeting Keegan, he was a ball of energy and so incredibly smart.  I fell in love with him at first sight.  I befriended his mom and did my very best to encourage her.  We talked for weeks... almost every day.  When his mom told me she was thinking of relinquishing him to foster care because it was too much for her, it was a natural instinct only a mother could have, when I said, "Let us take him.  I will be his mom".  At the time, I didn't know what this would mean but I did know that sweet Keegan needed a family and a mom that could love him and take care of him.  I felt such a sisterhood with his mom and was already deeply connected to her.  Mother to mother... she needed help, he needed a mom and God gave me the immense blessing of being chosen for him.

Right Before I Met Keegan- 2 Years Old

The world would say she should not give up a child she had raised for 3 years.  That it was her selfish addiction that she was choosing over her child.  How could she walk away from this baby boy she fought so hard for?  The world told her again and again that she was such a horrible person for saying she couldn't do it.  It didn't matter that she spent countless nights tossing and turning trying to find a way to be the mom Keegan needed.  The world didn't have time to empathize with her but had plenty of time to dish out judgment.  She, again, didn't listen. 

The Face I Fell In Love With

I am forever grateful to his mom for being open to adoption and not listening to so many people who told her it was impossible.  I am deeply humbled that she chose me to be his mom.  I don't take this responsibility lightly.  Her courage and faith she demonstrated by carrying her baby to term is stuff of legends.  Her selflessness to place her child into the arms of a woman she barely knew, but knew enough to know he would be loved, should be an inspiration to young mothers everywhere.  Her humility {which I am working so hard on learning myself} in admitting she could not do it should showcase to the world the power of being a virtuous person.  Adoption is not the answer for every mother facing adversity but she so clearly showed that it is an option that can be a win/win for all parties. 
Keegan and I On His Adoption Day- "Fantastic Five Day"

We chose to have a semi open adoption with Keegan's birth mom.  We chose this because it was in Keegan's best interest.  You see, our child, is always at the heart of every decision we make.  We stay in touch through pictures and social media.  We text and I give her as many updates as I can on how her sweet little boy is doing. 

This semi-open adoption has not been easy for her or me.  She allowed her parents and brother's family to have contact with Keegan and our family.  This is definitely not easy for her as she watches us form relationships without her.  While she can not be in his physical presence, she has given that gift to her family.  We both have to constantly work through feelings of selfishness, jealousy, anger, hurt, guilt, sadness and grief.  We pray for each other and for our son.  We celebrate every one of his wins and cry over each of his struggles.  Even though we are walking two different paths, we are so connected in everything we feel and do.  She is my son's birthmother, my friend and mostly, my hero.  She made a decision the world told her should not be made and I am so very grateful EVERYDAY.  
Little Baller

Our birth mom has shown us the incredible courage it takes to change a child's life for the better.  While we were given the gift of fertility and had never "planned" on adopting a child, our birth mom gave us a much undeserved gift of life and love that we now know is transforming.  Some facts to consider... as of 2006 the CDC reported that 600,000 women in the United States were waiting to adopt a child.  That same year the CDC reported that 845,000 abortions occurred in the U.S... eliminating the ability for these woman to become mothers.  EVERY woman can choose not to listen and instead grab ahold of their #unplannedparenthood with faith, hope and trust.  EVERY woman can consider the gift of adoption and giving another woman the blessing of being a mom.  That is giving women "choices".  That is giving power to women.  Adoption is a beautiful option and if was sold as aggressively as abortion, could you even imagine the sisterhood that would exist? 

Adoption Day in the Judges Chambers
It has not always been an easy journey.  The road to adoption and #UnplannedParenthood has been incredibly painful for myself and family.  It has been costly in more ways than just financially.  But it has also transformed our lives in ways too numerous to count.  Throughout this journey, I have learned so many valuable lessons.  To always have hope in every situation and to use your faith to hold you up when it seems hopeless.  To love unconditionally and give it up to God.  Trust that He is guiding the course of your life and will NEVER let you down.  Most importantly, NEVER listen to the world.  Society is full of jaded people who can never really know your story or the strength of your character.  Bravery exists in some of the weakest people and those people inevitably inspire the world to be better. 


How could the world say he should not exist?  How could they defend the millions of Keegans we are missing in this world?  I can't even fathom a world without my son in it.  It would be a world empty of adventures and the beautiful spirit of curiosity.  It would never hear his crazy laughter or see his boundless energy.  It would never feel his snuggles or his juicy kisses.  My Tom Sawyer would not have a Huck Finn to ride through life together.  I would not have someone to love so fiercely my heart breaks at the mere thought that his life would be anything less than perfect.  Keegan has taught me the most important lesson and I hope his story has taught you something too... EVERY child has value, even when society tells you they don't.  EVERY child has the incredible ability to change your world if you just let them. 

Our Fantastic Five....#UnplannedParenthood
***If you enjoyed this story of #UnplannedParenthood, please share it with some encouraging words of affirmation and love for Birthmoms everywhere. 
 Also, when you share it, please include a prayer for all women who have had abortions.  Pray that during this horrific time of investigation into Planned Parenthood, they feel peace and sisterhood with women everywhere.  May we bring hope, LOVE and support to each other, especially in times of adversity.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

#UnplannedParenthood Part One

Planned Parenthood has got my knickers in a twist.  I recently saw this new trend of showing pictures of your children that were unplanned and how that has made your life so much better.  For a long time, I have wanted to share my story of #unplannedparenthood.  Today seemed like the perfect day.

When I was 19, I fell in love with my husband.  We knew on our second date that we were going to get married.  We started dating in August and by January we were engaged.  We wanted to get married right away.  We had such amazing plans that included school, traveling and all sorts of amazing dreams.  I found out I was pregnant in March. I had just turned 20, Shawn was 19.  I was scared to death.

I was the oldest daughter of a staunch Catholic house.  My parents already were not necessarily happy that I was engaged to a boy they hardly knew.  I knew this would ensure that they would hate Shawn forever.  On top of that I grew up hearing my dad say, "If you come home pregnant, you should probably not come home".  Being pregnant before marriage was probably the worst offense a girl in our family could have. 

Before I even told Shawn I contemplated "My Choices".  Based on everything I knew and was told by society, I could not trust that Shawn would want this responsibility.  Society gives men a "Get out of jail free card".  I knew he could choose to leave me and I believed I was doing him a favor by letting him off the hook.  I could run away and have the baby at a home for unwed mothers.  I could raise the baby on my own.  I contemplated adoption... but not for long.  I couldn't bear the thought of another mom raising my child.  I even contemplated an abortion.  No one would know.  Shawn and I could have that magic fairy tale wedding and no one would be the wiser.  It was the simplest decision and would "rid" me of this blemish... this blob of cells that meant nothing.  It wasn't even a baby yet. 

I prayed a lot and was lost in thoughts for a few days.  I quickly realized that I could not abort my baby.  I knew he was going to be a son.  I felt it and I already loved that blob of cells.  While it would be an answered prayer to "do away" with my pregnancy, I knew I couldn't do it.  So, I decided that no matter what, I was going to be his mom... and a damn good one. 

I am so glad that during this time I did not have Dr. Drew to watch, Pro Choice friends to talk to and I thank God everyday that I NEVER went into Planned Parenthood.  Based on my anxiety, it may not have taken much for anyone to convince me to have just a tiny operation that would erase my "mistake".  So many women have been duped by their lies.  My son could have easily become an organ sold to the highest bidder.  I would have held the deep emotionally traumatizing scars so many of my friends hold years after the "tiny operation on a blob of cells".

More importantly, I was so glad I did not talk to my Pro Life friends or family.  If I had talked to them without knowing with 100% certainty of what I would do, I may have been scared enough to have an abortion.  Their judgment, ridicule and lack of support would have been the final nail in that coffin.  I could never have prepared myself for the judgment that Shawn and I would receive.  Most of it coming from the "Pro Life" community.  I could never have anticipated the lack of celebration for this new life that we were blessed with. 
After I made my "choice", I wrote an embarrassing letter to my fiancĂ©.  I told him what was going on and the decision I made.  I also gave him permission to walk away... I did not want him to feel like I, or our son, had ruined his life.  I also did not have the courage to look at his face when he heard the news.  I knew he would have the same reaction I did.  Fear, shock and disappointment.  If he chose to stay, I did not ever want that face in my memory. 

I was so stupid.  Shawn was scared, in shock but far from disappointed.  He was disappointed in me for writing that letter that reduced him to nothing more than a statistic that society has created for men.  He was the ONLY person during the next few months that reminded me EVERYDAY that this is not a tragedy.  This is a blessing.  We were just going to do things a little differently.  God gave us a son and we should celebrate that.  This is a precious life that was entrusted to us.  Shawn was the one reason that I got up every morning to face ridicule, judgment and negativity, mostly coming from our Pro Life friends and family.  Our church community was the worst.  Catholics were some of our biggest critics.  The same Catholics that now post these videos had no problem standing in condemnation of our "sins". 

We were married when I was NINE months pregnant in a Catholic Church with one of our biggest supporters, Fr. Bob.  He was a true angel sent to us.  When other priests refused to marry us because we were keeping our baby {aka pregnant before marriage}, Fr. Bob counseled us with honesty and most importantly, COMPASSION.  Fr. Bob was the definition of Pro Life.

Shawnie was born 22 days later.  Our lives were forever changed for the better.  He is the light in my life... still.  He is getting ready to turn 16 and is one of the most caring kids I know.  He is intelligent and a born leader.  He is so creative and is part of a really amazing band.  He has great friends and is the best role model to his siblings.  They look up to him as their hero.  I KNEW he would be a boy and I KNEW he would be a world changer.  And, he is.  I still don't know exactly what he will do with his life but I do know that it will be amazing.  He is my #unplannedparenthood and I am so thankful everyday for the strength and courage that it took to make the only "choice" that could be made. 

To think that this kid may not have been born, hurts my heart deeply.  I am so deeply ashamed that I contemplated, even for a moment, ending his life.  To think that I could have made a different "choice" and he would not have existed is mind boggling.  I can not imagine a world without him.  There are so many Shawnies that have been lost to the lies of Planned Parenthood. 

It is time for all of us to stand in solidarity and be TRUE representatives of what Pro Life is all about.  It is about supporting the women with honesty, compassion and endless support- both financial and emotional.  If we all band together to do that, there would be no reason for abortion.  Women would know that they will NEVER be alone and their precious baby is a GIFT.  They would feel powerful to be included in this circle of women that have been given  this amazing ability to give life to a human.  Men would know that they do not get nor deserve a "get out of jail free card".  And for once, women would feel the slogan "I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar".  Planned Parenthood has stripped so many women of this knowledge by reducing them to a powerless, used woman who made a mistake and needs to be rid of it.  That is NOT my definition of a woman.   We are SO much more strong and courageous than that.

These videos MUST be watched.  No matter how disturbing or graphic.  We must be aware of what Abortion really is.  We must advocate to DEFUND this illegally operating company and demand  PROSECUTION of the criminals involved.  We can not do this without being fully informed.  Don't just watch the edited version.  Watch the full length video, so you can defend these revolutionaries who may just finally help turn the tide on Abortion in this country.  Or at least redefine this "blob of cells" that has no value.

This CRIMINAL organization, that for years, has successfully convinced women in crisis that their babies were just blob of cells and useless tissue.  A problem that could be disposed of.  Interesting that this blob of cells is now being sold to the highest bidder.  Not just sold as a blob but as discernible organs and body parts from the first trimester into the second and third.  The world is totally surprised and disgusted but I am not.  

I challenge each of you to work everyday to be fully PRO LIFE and stand arm and arm with women who make the choice to embrace #unplannedparenthood with courage, dignity and hope.  Give them a reason to walk away from the lies that society rains down on them.   Be the change you wish to see in this world.  Be the reason kids like Shawnie exist. 


Monday, July 20, 2015

St. Paul... The World Changer

Six months ago the world suffered a devastating blow. It was not highlighted on CNN, homeland security was not called in, the President did not issue a statement... but nonetheless, the world was changed.  Schools did not close, flags were not lowered to half mast, a day of remembrance was not nationally recognized... but, again, the world did change.   I saw it.  I know.

The day Paul died was really surreal, especially for those that knew him.  Paul had the heart of a true adventurer and a love for Jesus like no one I had ever known.  He was a real life Superman that scaled mountains, jumped off cliffs, took sporadic road trips into the unknown.  He had a passion for life that I have not seen in anyone else.  When Paul was diagnosed with aggressive cancer, it was unfathomable.  It would be like telling someone the oceans had dried up overnight.  Imagine everyone's surprise when he passed one MONTH later.  My family has never experienced that kind of shocking loss.  The world had truly changed.  It was a little more empty but filled with so much more faith, hope and love than I could ever describe.

As this 6 month mark comes up, I have to reflect on all the ways Paul has changed the world.

My family also had never seen so many people come together to pray for strangers with true love and humanity.  10,000 people went to his facebook page and read the daily updates on Paul and his family.  Strangers around the world began to #LiveLikePaul.  They posted photos of how their lives were made more spectacular by this amazing man.  Strangers began to #LoveLikeAnn and collectively raised money and donated furnishings to complete a home for her and her 3 precious babies.  Strangers showed how to #LoveLikePaul as we all celebrated the birth of sweet Blaze and prayed for his mama.  The world had truly changed for the better.

Ann, Paul's Mom and Little Blaze
Paul's message to everyone who was praying
In his suffering and very early death, Ann helped to show us God's love and trusting in his perfect timing.  Her sharing of his illness and death came at a time when society was totally cool with terminal people throwing in the towel.  Paul's determination to not quit and continue to suffer through treatments has been a true testament to the value of LIFE.  While we all shared pictures of how we were going to #PrayForPaul, he held up his own sign and told us he was praying for our intentions with his suffering.  His passing with his arms raised to God is proof that he was a good and faithful servant.  He gave us hope for our own calling home.  Our world has been changed for the better.

Shawn's inspired Leap of Prayer

Dylan's Prayer

While Paul lived, he witnessed to all of us Buckleys how to pray and live with humility.  After Paul passed he was my inspiration to visit adoration, find a new love for the rosary and live my faith out loud and with passion.  He showed me, by his example, to put your faith on display... not in your face but a part of who you are.  I had never really done this.  My faith was very private but Paul's life showed me it is inspiring when you share your faith.  I began to really seek out a more fulfilling spiritual life.  I finally got the courage to get a Spiritual Director and have made daily prayer a part of my life.  My world had changed for the better. 

A quiet moment of prayer and reflection

Photo of Adoration a few nights before Paul passed

While Paul lived he and Ann were inspirational in the adoption of our Keegan.  After Paul passed he was my intercessor as I learned how to really LOVE my sweet boy who was just diagnosed with RAD.  I have always loved Keegan but for 3 years I had been trying to "Fix" Keegan.  My boy is a firecracker!  During Lent my daily prayers including asking Paul to help show me the way to be a better mom to Keegan, I heard very clearly..."Your job is not to fix him, it is to love him".  That answer gave me the peace that I was searching for and the confidence to know that God's got this.  I also found so much comfort in knowing how "crazy" Paul was and that his energy is how he served God.  I am so confident that my "crazy" Keegan will bring that same energy to his life and I am so hopeful that he will inspire others, too.  My patience and empathy increased and I was able to have more fun with my kids.  The peace I felt by this message of hope made me such a better mom to all of my children.  My children's world has been changed for the better.
Me and my Sweet Boy

My prayerful art work made during Lent

My own Superman...

While Paul lived my family would be entertained by stories of his adventures.  Mary would spend time sharing and laughing about these, seriously, crazy things he had got her to do or had done.  He never said no to an adventure.  When he lived at our parents house, his laughter filled up the room.  He hated when we fought and would make us laugh at our own stupidity.  He valued the importance of family.  After Paul passed he became my family's push.  The push to get out and make adventures of our own.  We brought Paul with us on hiking trips, on sporadic road trips and have even used him as our inspiration for a camping trip to Missouri.  My little boys wear their pink shirts on every adventure and we all remember St. Paul.  My family's world has been changed for the better.
Walking across the Bridge

Hiking at Natural Bridge

Posing at the top

Wearing his St. Paul shirt

Everyday he is carried in my heart and his family is carried in my prayers.  There are a hundred other little ways that Paul's life and death have profoundly impacted me.  Ways I could never make people understand.  These are the little miracles that Paul has given to each of us.  I know he is up there, looking down on all of us.  He is continuing to pray for us and is changing lives through the example of his own.  I am deeply humbled to have known this man.  I continue to be deeply humbled to call his wife a long lost sister.  Their examples have changed the world for the better and I have been lucky to see that in my own life.  #StPaulPrayForUs #LiveLikePaul #LoveLikeAnn

If you have not read Paul's story you should... www.livelikepaul.com
If you have not donated to Ann and her family, you should... www.lovelikepaul.com
If you have not been a part of the Facebook page that is changing the world, you should.... https://www.facebook.com/paulandanncoakleyneedamiracle?fref=ts

If you have stories to share of how Paul has changed your life, please post them on the facebook page.  Let's let the whole world know how it has been changed.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Well Done Good and Faithful Servant

The Parable of the Talents is one of my favorite stories of the bible.  Yesterday as I prayed for Paul in adoration, I was getting very frustrated that I was not hearing God.  I couldn't hear him.  I wanted some peace and found that I left without feeling it.  I had taken a journal and drew as I prayed {no judgement- this is how I do prayer}.  I ended up writing "Well Done, Good and Faithful Servant".  I saw that a lot today.

In the story the master gives his 3 servants talents.  The first servant gets 5 talents, the second servant gets 2 and the last servant gets one.  The first servant goes out and trades with his talents and gets 5 more.  The second servant goes out and makes 2 more.  The last servant, in fear of making his master angry, buries his.  The master calls them to him to see what they did with what he gave them. He praises the first 2 and says, "Well done my good and faithful servants.  Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities.  Come, share your masters joy"  To the 3rd servant he says, "For to everyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away."  He then threw the servant out into the darkness.

Today I thought of this parable and took some time to reflect on it..  We come into this world with all of the gifts God has bestowed on us.  When we leave he expects to ask us what we did with those gifts.  Did we use those gifts to gather more riches for our master?  Did we bury them away, to return them unused to the master?  If you are given faith and use it, you will receive goodness in return.  If you are given faith and do not use it, everything will be taken away.

I think about Ann's post on Paul being victorious- even in death.  There is no losing for a man of faith.  When you live a life of faith like Paul, you are blessed and lifted up in prayer.  You are taken care of and so is your family.  You are also called to share that faith and return it to your master doubled.  I believe you do that by sharing it in everything you do.  Encouraging those around you to live it.  You do that using the talents God gave you.  God gave Paul fearlessness, kindness, joy, courage.  He used every one of those and wore his faith like a superhero cape.

Paul definitely changed my life and the life of my family.  I have learned that laughing does a person good.  Laughing at yourself is sometimes the greatest joy you can have.  I have learned that if you look at a tree and say, "that looks like it would be fun to climb", you climb it.  I have learned if you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all and challenge yourself to lift that person up.  I have learned that when God gives you crosses, you carry them fearlessly and you never, ever give up.  I have learned that all of us are one day going to die, we are called to do so faithfully and courageously.  Most of all I have learned that having gifts from God are useless if you are not going to use them to inspire others.

There will be a lot of talk on the lack of miracles and the "see, praying does no good."  But you have to use the faith God gave you to see beyond the disappointment of prayers, seemingly, unheard.  Look to the miracles God has granted Paul and his family through the millions of prayers he received.  Prayers he received because he gave out his faith like candy.  Look at the way, God has used Paul to change something inside of yourself. 

Look at the thousands of people who are following Paul's story and are changed for the better.  They are inspired by the love shared between a husband and wife.  They are encouraged by Paul's refusal to stop trying to live every moment he is able.  They are inspired by how his community of friends is rallying to rebuild his home.  They are in awe of his faith, even at the hour of his death.  Most of all people are seeing and believing in the victory of his death.  Today he dies victorious and returns to the master with arms full of the blessings he gave during his life.  This is not the tragic story of a husband and father who died from aggressive cancer.  It's not the end of a life, its the beginning of a beautiful story of faith.  It is a story of a Good and Faithful Servant returning home victoriously.  Well done, Paul, well done.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Power of Prayer and NEVER Giving Up

Last night all I did was pray and check Facebook like a stalker for word on Paul.  I was so scared to fall asleep because I didn't want to wake up and read that he had died.  Well, guess what dear readers?  He is still alive and kicking, only through the ever present grace and mercy of my God.  He is not giving up and is STILL fighting.  In that beautiful moment of survival, I believed in the power of prayer.

I am a cradle Catholic.  Every Sunday I went to mass with my family.  We prayed the obligatory rosary as a family.  We fasted, we confessed, we read the bible.  Statues adorned our home, our entryway had a holy water font and rosaries were in a jar in the kitchen.  We had the creepy Jesus picture that seemed to watch you anywhere you walked.  As a family we learned to pray in times of need and promised to pray for all those suffering.  This was part of who I am today.  Those Catholic traditions and customs are now in my own family.  But, something changed for me yesterday.

I came home from mass and felt the need to finally write that blog about Paul.  Before I wrote it, I prayed to the Holy Spirit to give me the words to make everyone see how amazing him and his family are.  I watched the views grow and couldn't believe how many people read it.  In a matter of hours 2000 people had read that blog.  I have only had on average 40 views on anything I had written.  It was about Paul and people who love him.  People who are praying and not giving up.

Last night I found myself looking over the Team Paul and Ann Coakley page and could not believe that over 4000 people have liked this page.  I looked through the photos of people ALL AROUND THE WORLD who stopped for a few moments of their day to post a photo of solidarity.  I knew that each person had taken the time to pray for Paul.  No one was giving up.  For a few moments I allowed myself to believe that a miracle could still happen.  It's not impossible. 

So I hit my knees and I prayed.  I prayed really hard.  I prayed a prayer for peace.  If it was God's will, a peaceful passing for Paul.  Peace for the many people who loved him and will be left behind.  Peace for his sweet wife as she endures the hardest fight of her life.  Peace for his children now and throughout their lives.  Most of all I prayed that God would give a miracle to Paul and his family.  I prayed that Paul would not give up.  The world still needs that beautiful smile.

Today I received the update that Paul is still actively fighting for every moment of his life.  The doctors are shocked by his strength and the way he is not giving up.  He is far from out of the woods, but the hospital and his family are allowing him to fight.  I am so proud of Paul and Ann because fighting takes true courage.  Facing down your greatest fears with an attitude of defiance is something that is absolutely inspirational.  As I watched those numbers climb with people ALL OVER THE WORLD following our friends and praying with all of their hearts for peace, was unbelievable.  No one has stopped believing in the power of prayer or miracles.  Least of all Paul.

I was thinking of all of this as I went to grab some groceries.  As I went to pay for my purchases I found a copy of the most recent People Magazine.

After I saw the cover, I offered up a prayer of Thanksgiving that Paul had not given up and that he continues still to believe in the power of prayer.  He desires and asks for a miracle through the intercession of Margaret Costello.  I offered a prayer of Thanksgiving for his wife, who is allowing him the right to fight even though, I can only imagine how that must be ripping her apart.  His family who are standing by Paul and encouraging him even though the prognosis leaves much to be desired.  I thanked God for using Paul as inspiration to get 4000 humans praying for hope. 

I then prayed a prayer for Brittany and so many like her who fear the possibility of pain and question the power of prayer.  I prayed for her husband who lost hope in miracles and assisted his wife in ending her life.  I prayed for all of the people who stand in solidarity with Brittany and mourn that they have never experienced a fighter like Paul.  I was really sad that they gave up and waved a white flag in surrender.  Life is precious and we should fight every day, just like Paul, to live it fiercely and never give up.

I know Paul may not make it.  But, that doesn't mean a miracle is not, even as we speak, taking place.  People are praying.  Hearts are changing.  Prayer changes everything.  It gives hope to the hopeless.  Offers faith to those who don't believe in things unseen.  It encourages those who are experiencing spiritual drought.  So as we lift up Paul in prayer, so too are we lifting ourselves.  His story is becoming ours and changing our outlook on life everyday.  We are watching the suffering of a beautiful soul who refuses to give up and continues to fight for every breath of the body God loaned him.  We are thanking God that he is still here fighting and we are praying still... ever hopeful for a miracle and ever faithful to God's will.

You see, today prayer changed for me.  Prayer became a thing that is alive and powerful.  To pray is to truly believe in what you are asking and with humility, accepting the answer God has for you.  Praying is about NOT giving up and putting all your worries at the foot of the cross. Praying as a collective, raising your voice in community, begging God to bring healing and peace... this is powerful stuff.  This is miraculous.   Prayers can be answered in unexpected ways, and you may find that as you pray for someone else, you are helping to change yourself.  As Paul begins his next round of Chemo, pray like crazy.  Know that we are lifting up Pual but we are also being lifted up by Paul.  We are all fighting for Paul and he is fighting for his life.  And most, of all, WE ARE NOT GIVING UP!


Sunday, January 18, 2015

"Why Do Bad Things Happen To Good People?"

My heart has been so heavy lately as I watch our friend Paul's health failing.  For those of you who don't know the story, Paul was diagnosed just before Christmas with testicular cancer.  The cancer has spread to his lungs and his brain.  They found a hole in his heart and a very dangerous blood clot.  He has been in the hospital for weeks... teetering between life and death.  He is 34, married to the most lovely lady Ann and is expecting their 4th baby in April.   Last night, he almost didn't make it. When I told my kids about Paul's condition, my oldest daughter Emma, broke down sobbing.  She asked the question I have asked myself time and time again.  "Why do bad things happen to good people?"

Paul is not just a good person.  He is truly a saint.  In my life I have known only 3 people I put in this category.  For those that are not Catholic, a saint is someone who lives a virtuous life and positively impacts the lives of others.   Saints go straight to heaven.  They pass go, they collect $200 and no questions are asked.  Paul fits this category because since I have known him, he has inspired every person to become closer to God.  He doesn't seem to try to.  He just does.  With no judgment or righteousness, he finds some way to shine that light of Christ directly into your eyeballs.  Like an annoying camper playing flashlight tag.  You can't escape it.  Even after you are blinded, that light stays with you. 

Paul lives his life out loud and has always done these crazy, spur of the moment, carpe diem things that us regular ol scaredy cats can only dream of.  Some of you Paul people have got to accompany him on this journeys.  I am jealous.  I always watched from a distance, in awe and in admiration.  In these adventures, God is always present.  He has taken God along for the ride and we have all seen that.  His life is his testament to his faith in God.  That faith has permeated every relationship he has ever had.   We have been lucky enough to witness that and it has a lot of us talking, praying and spreading the word about who Paul is. Strangers are inspired to follow his journey, share the joy of his life and pray for a miracle.

My sister went to a Catholic college and developed strong friendships with all sorts of crazy Catholics.  It would drive me insane because I am selfish.  I never wanted these "friends" to come into my family and take up my precious time.  My sister loved them.  I feared she loved them more than me.  But, then I met Paul.  He was her first friend that didn't piss me off {sorry Steubie friends}.  He made me laugh and made me feel comfortable hanging with them.  I think he also kind of understood my weirdo obsession with my family... and forgave me for it.  He has a way of making every person feel understood and loved. 

When I had Shawnie, every family member came to the hospital to visit... Paul came too.  He came in and acted a fool.  Making everyone laugh by blowing up a hospital glove to make Shawnie a chicken.  He then proceeded to peck my infant son with the balloon.  If anyone else had done that, I would have killed them.   But, it was Paul.  At Thanksgiving one year, Paul took one of my mom's china plates {the same plates we had to HANDWASH because they were so "fragile and precious"} and in front of the whole family, busted that plate over his head.  If any of us had done that, my mom would have kicked our bootie.  But, it was Paul.  Different rules apply to different people.  Paul was always the exception to the rule.

All of us have these Paul stories.  How he came into our lives, why he is so important and so deserving of a miracle.  But my favorite and most inspiring Paul story is his son Christian.  Paul and Ann wanted children so badly and waited so long for God to bless them.  One day God put together Paul and Ann with a little boy named Christian. Christian was an unexpected miracle.  I got to meet him when they brought him to Michigan for the first time.  I was amazed by the love they had for this kiddo.  They were protective, loving, kind and such good parents.  I can't tell Christians story, because I don't know all the details, but I know that God gave them a son in the most unexpected way and they said YES with faith, hope and love.  Their example and advice, gave Shawn and I courage to say YES in a very similar way.  Without Paul and Ann's example, we may not have had the faith to adopt our Keegan.  Their yes inspired our yes and allowed us to not run in fear but accept, with faith, a gift God had unexpectedly sent our way.  This is living your faith out loud.  This is making a difference.

As Paul is battling for his life, we are all left asking the question "why do bad things happen to good people?".  I think it is so that we can reflect on the precious gift of life that none of us are guaranteed.  Every day is a miracle and a gift.  We are called to live our lives OUT LOUD, with passion, love and faith... every day, no excuses.   I don't know why this is happening but watching the numbers grow on Paul's facebook page and seeing photos of people just like me, who have encountered the light of Paul... it's life changing.  It speaks to the power of prayer and the belief in everyday miracles.  It tells a story of courage and how one person can change so many lives without even trying.  It shows the generosity of strangers who want to help a deserving man and his family.  Paul is again inspiring others to become closer to God through his fight with cancer and his incredible faith. 

No one is ready to say goodbye to such a beautiful gift and it makes us all so sad.  God blessed all of us with the light that is Paul and right now I am breathing that in.  I am thanking God for allowing me the moments I had, the life changing and inspiring moments.  I didn't deserve them.  I wasn't always thankful for them but now I am so happy that I had them.  Keep those prayers coming.  Pray, that if its Gods will, Paul will get his miracle and we will have more time to enjoy and savor those moments... moments we took for granted.  The most important lesson I have learned is, when the strong fall, the weak rally, to pick them up and carry them home.  If Paul is headed home, he is going home being carried by thousands of people, just like me, who have been changed for the better.

Here is Paul's Facebook Page.. Go and Be Inspired... https://www.facebook.com/paulandanncoakleyneedamiracle

Some Photos of #prayforpaul campaign.  Share and post your own photos. 
Paul's Beautiful Family

That is a great picture of paul!  Make this your profile picture on facebook!

Kiley being a Mountain Climber a la Paul

Mid Air Superman flight

Just hanging around and praying

Hey there's a tree!  I can climb it like Paul would!

Peek a boo- I am praying for you too!

Awesome photo bomb

Barb wire?  Fence?  Illegal Trespassing?  Never stopped Paul...
{Stole from my sissy} The infamous plate incident.  Best Thanksgiving ever!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

A Look Back at 2014

Whew!  It has been a LONG time since I wrote anything.  I am back on New Years Day for a little look at my year.  Of course I will do it with a rant, a rave and reflection.

If I am honest, 2014 was full of negativity for me and from me.  I have really sat back and tried to take an honest accounting of my highs and lows.  All of my highs were due to the amazing people my children are turning into and the things my husband has accomplished.  Most of my lows were things I had failed at.  This is not to be a whiny blogger... just an honest rant on how I have been walking through my life for the past year. 

I love that my highs were about my kids and my incredible husband.  These really made me happy to reflect on.  My kids did unbelievable things this year.  Shawnie joined a band, became class president and was nominated for a leadership scholarship.  He has raised his grades and will start a month long internship at the UK radio station this January.  Emma concurred her fears and sang at Common Grounds.  Not only did she sing... she literally silenced a room full of jaded college hipsters.  Her confidence and talent literally brought me to tears.  This year we became friends.  We are still mother and daughter but we are starting to create this beautiful relationship that will only grow with time.  Kiley Grace was a freaking star this year! She surprised us by stealing the school play, joining her school choir and getting a part in a REAL play.  She is known for her dramatics but seeing her literally lit up from the inside out was a real treat for this mama.  Keegan has finally started to figure out this school thing.  Although we still struggle {keepin it real} in very serious ways, school is starting to quiet down.  His teachers are beginning to see the little kid that stole my heart 3 years ago.  I also learned this year that the ways he shows his struggle is actual confirmation that we are securely bonded and he trusts me.  This is HUGE!  Dylan is a hot mess who graduated preschool, began to read and I am happy to report, is still obsessed with me. 

My husband has taken off in the comedy world and has certainly earned the nickname "Robin Hood of Comedy".   His Stand Up for KY reminds me, with every show and every person helped by his kindness, why I fell in love with him.  He has hit some really important goals on his comedy journey.    He has found his passion and is putting it into practice daily.

All of these things are awesome.  I even acknowledge that I am part of the reason so many of these awesome things happened.  But, I am ranting because I haven't had any awesome accomplishments myself this year.  I have really sat back and tried to take an honest accounting of my highs and lows.  All of my highs were due to the amazing people my children are turning into and the things my husband has accomplished.  Most of my lows were things I had failed at.  This is not to be a whiny blogger... just an honest rant on how I have been walking through my life for the past year.

I am becoming that mom.  You know the one.  She is always running around, looking like a hot mess, with a list of a million things she needs to get done.  She is yelling at her brood of kids and throwing them some fast food as they race to the next destination.  She means well but never has the time she needs to get everything done.  This year I am really vowing to make sure that some of my highs are things I have accomplished for myself.   

I am going to rave about 2 gifts we got for Christmas that I think everyone needs to get.  This Christmas we got the "Christmas Dog".  The kids and I have begged the old husband for years to allow our dreams to come true.  He finally conceded and after searching all rescue places high and low, we finally found our new family member with a breeder {no judgement, read footnote}.  Having a dog has been ALOT more work than I could ever have imagined.  But, it has also been life changing.  One of the big reasons we wanted a dog was for our Keegan.  Keegan has needed some wins and we knew that a puppy would give him some responsibility and some positive praise that he needed.  He has loved Rosie and she has already done her job in teaching him empathy and unconditional love.  Rosie has brought some peace to our chaotic house.  Right now as I type this blog, Rosie is curled up next to me.  There is nothing more comforting than a warm puppy, who loves you unconditionally.  Our favorite Beatle lyric is "All you need is LOVE"... Rosie has given that to each one of us. Everyone should have a dog.  EVERYONE.

We also splurged and gave Shawnie a digital piano for Christmas.  We have always been huge proponents of music in our house.  Every child has learned any and all instruments of their choosing.  We have supported this with no question.  Currently, we have a drum, a violin, a keyboard, an acoustic, electric and bass guitar, harmonica, a trombone and now a digital piano. It has been one of, if not the best, gift we have given our family.  Here is why this is the best gift ever.  For the last week, we have watched approximately 5 hours of TV.  Shawnie has been playing the piano non stop and getting everyone involved in it.  Emma has sang duets with Shawnie and her dad.  They have written original songs and this howling mom has also sang a ditty or two.  It has made us all more creative, more happy and definitely more engaged.  Music has always done this.   But, now we are bringing and keeping the gift of music in our family room.  It is a huge blessing to unplug and connect.  Music has and will always do that for people.  Everyone should create music in their homes.  EVERYONE.

*Footnote: Our experience with Rescues was not totally awesome.  We found most workers more interested in saving the dogs versus making sure the dog was put in the right house.  Because we have an adopted son, we could not take ANY risks with getting the "wrong" dog and returning the new family member.  On top of that, all available dogs were large breeds.  We do not have a big yard and we have a relatively small home.  Not ideal for anyone.  We also travel a lot and a small dog can go with us {remember, we have to fit 7 people and a dog into a mini van}  Rescues are amazing and one day we may rescue, but for our first dog we decided, for all of these reasons, to go with a breeder.   Now, you can judge.

With the new year upon us, I am left to reflect on the highs and lows.  I am deciding to create a very doable list of things I will accomplish for me this year.  I do this every year.  As I am sure you all do too.    This year my list will be short  and will have little fanfare or explanation.  But, hopefully this list will help me find a little bit more  of who I am .  I want to learn how to define myself without using my kids and husband as my only identity.  I will work really hard on doing these.  Maybe I will share my efforts, failures and successes.  But, if I don't  just know I am working on them.  I sincerely hope that for those of you who are making your own list, you will work on creating a doable list that will help you define better, who you are, what you love and the talents that God gave you.  We shouldn't waste these talents and our time on earth should go towards finding ways to use these talents  everyday, with everyone, no excuses. 
My 2015 List
1. Keep a prayer journal that I write in almost every night {leaving room for exhaustion}
2. Go to the gym 3 days per week
3. Be more creative and do Creativity Sundays with Theresa
4. Keep my Wine nights every month
5. Spend a day to myself and ONLY for myself.  One day of out and out selfishness.
6. Be gentle to myself