[00:00:28] Hello, everybody. What’s up. Welcome back to another episode of Hear and Now Podcast. I am so excited to welcome Mary Lenaburg on today. We’ve already been chatting for like 20 minutes at this point. But we decided to finally start recording. So hi, Mary. Welcome to the show.
[00:00:42] Mary: [00:00:42] Hello Sophia, how are you?
[00:00:44] I am so good. Great to be with you.
[00:00:46] Sophia: [00:00:46] I am so good. Thank you so much for coming on today. So why don’t you take some time to introduce yourself to everybody?
[00:00:51] Mary: [00:00:51] Absolutely. So I’m Mary Lenaburg. I am a writer, a published author, a wife and a mom. I’ve been married to my husband, Jerry, the grouchy historian on Instagram known.
[00:01:02] Widely to all for 32 years now we have a son, Jonathan, who recently got engaged. So we’re very excited. We get to actually plan on the wedding I never thought would happen, which is pretty phenomenal. This fall and our daughter Courtney, I went home to the Lord six years ago. She had a seizure disorder and severe special needs.
[00:01:19] So we have walked through quite a bit in our marriage. My first book Be Brave in the Scared was published by Ave Maria Press about a year and a half ago. And so that kind of explores our journey with our daughter and through healing of our marriage, through addiction, myself to food. And my husband did pornography.
[00:01:35] And how caring for a special needs child sort of affected every aspect of our life. And then my second book Be Bold in the Broken is all about identity and who we are in God and having courage and, and deciding on our purpose and our mission in life that God has given us. So that comes out in March and really excited about that.
[00:01:53] So I’m also a Beauty Counter director and a strategist for the Woman’s School, which is kind of like a life coach. So I get to do lots of different things, all about encouraging women to live a brave and bold life. [00:02:08] Sophia: [00:02:08] many things,
[00:02:09] Mary: [00:02:09] So many things I know. I, I, I told my husband the other night, I said, how is it that, you know, when, when Courtney was alive, we basically lived in a 24 hour ICU unit, you know?
[00:02:19] And so it was really a lot of crisis management for about 22 years. And so stepping out of that, she had been home with the Lord now for six years, I was like, I’m busier now than I ever thought possible. You know, and it’s exciting and it’s a little overwhelming. It’s a little intimidating, but God is good and He is faithful and He is true and He remains by my side, you know?
[00:02:42] And you’ll hear that whisper, like, are you sure that’s what you want to do? Yes. Okay. Then let’s do it. You know, and when I say no, He’s like, all right, then we’ll move this way. So He’s a really good he’s a really good life coach.
[00:02:53] Sophia: [00:02:53] Yeah, absolutely. He’s like your personal GPS.
[00:02:58] Mary: [00:02:58] and the Holy spirit just moves it.
[00:02:59] He’s just like, all right. We got things to do, you know, mountains move you know, waterways are redesigned and it’s just, yeah. He brings me people. We were just talking about that, how he brings us people.
[00:03:11] Sophia: [00:03:11] Absolutely. He’s just got such a cool, cool tour guide system going on there. So I obviously found you through social media.
[00:03:20] So when did you start posting your journey of you know faith and things on social media?
[00:03:25] Mary: [00:03:25] I started my blog, which is still there, in 2007. And what brought me to social media was we were about ready to lose our house. And my husband works in the defense industry. So he has a job that is one that you cannot declare bankruptcy.
[00:03:43] In order to keep the job. I’ll just say that. So we had to figure out when we added a second mortgage on the house, but our medical debt was in the, you know, the six figures and we were just drowning. At that point, you know, 15 years of caring for our daughter. And so a friend of ours came to us and said, you know, before GoFundMe there was no GoFundMe at that time, PayPal had just started.
[00:04:07] I mean, you know, it was the early, when blogs were kind of just beginning to build right out into the social media arena before Instagram, Facebook I think was around in the beginning stages or so. They came to us and they said we really want to do something called a friendraising. Right. So it’s a, it’s a thing known in, especially in Protestant circles where, when you’re going on a missionary trip, like you go, it’s what FOCUS does.
[00:04:30] Right. They do friend raising where people support the mission. And so we put together a letter. And part of that letter was people wanting to know more about Courtney and our journey and our story. And so they suggested I start a blog. And so that’s where it all started. And we did the, we always called the Divine Mercy Novena,
[00:04:48] Courtney’s Novena. I mean, nothing, you know, it’s almost like, sorry, Lord. It’s Courtney’s novena because of course, Jesus, I trust in you. Right? So we sent out this letter to all of our friends. It was horrifying, humiliating, very difficult for us to do that because you’re telling people that you’re in trouble.
[00:05:07] You’re telling people that you can’t do it on your own, and it’s very vulnerable. Then there were people that were so excited because there was finally a way they could help us. We had never asked for help and they were like, yes, we can help you. And then there was this group of people that were like, well, you didn’t do it.
[00:05:25] Right. And you didn’t take care of it. Right. And you didn’t, you know, until the judgment came, I remember specifically being in a Starbucks and someone had sent us a Starbucks gift card. And as everyone who follows me on social media knows coffee is a love language of mine. And I was in line, you know, I was so excited.
[00:05:40] I’m like, Oh, I got the gift card. You know, I’ll just grab something on the way. I think we’re going to Courtney’s physical therapy session or something. And a woman from our parish was behind me. And I didn’t notice her. And she’s like, Oh, you’re asking people for money, but you’re here at Starbucks. And I just, I froze.
[00:05:59] And I turned around and I had this card and I handed it to her and I said, this was a gift from someone so that, you know, a treat, but I think you need it more than I do. And I handed her the gift card and I left the Starbucks and then I cried all the way to. People think we’re horrible. People think we’re losers.
[00:06:17] People think we can’t take care of her. I mean, it was just awful, but that’s how I started my journey. And so once I began, and then I kind of had this moment of probably around, I don’t know, 2008, somewhere where Jerry and I had gone to Theology of the Body. There was a lot of healing happening in our marriage.
[00:06:32] This was seven years after we had gone to Lourdes with Courtney. And so we’d have this beautiful moment there and all of these things were kind of happening. Healing was happening and it was all coming to one place. And I had been kind of a friend of mine, my friend, Kathy called me a Holy Hannah. She’s like Mary, you drop a curse word every once in a while.
[00:06:50] And you’re a pretty brazen and pretty brash and kind of a bold personality. Like why are you writing like you’re meek and mild, like that’s not you. And so I kind of had to really reevaluate where I was and what I was presenting to the world. And I made a decision then, but I was just going to be me.
[00:07:06] I was going to be statement earring, caffeinated, bold colors, loud, voice, biggest cheerleader. Let’s get this shizzle done Mary, which is who I am. And that kind of kicked off where we are now. I just noticed in my notifications this morning that it was a year ago that I hit 10,000 followers on Instagram.
[00:07:25] It was a year ago today. Yeah. And I remember that moment and you’re thinking, Oh my gosh, what’s that like? Cause you get the swipe up, you know, everybody was waiting for the swipe up. What the swipe up gives you is just, it’s easy. It’s easier access to the information you want to present. And it really was transformative in my ministry in that more people had access to me.
[00:07:45] So in the six years, since Courtney passed away, I’ve gone through a lot. I mean, I’ve written two books, I’ve traveled the world to speak and encourage women and men and parishes do parish retreats, youth retreats, you know, women’s conferences, all sorts of things. I got to go to Rome. I never thought that would happen.
[00:08:04] You know, and it was, it was a year ago. It was a November and a year and a year in some change. And I’m like, wow, I got to do that. And the funny thing is when people ask me, Oh, Mary, you live such a charmed life. Which people have said to me, I always take a moment because I don’t want to like be rude, but I always take a moment.
[00:08:23] And in my mind I’m thinking, but my daughter’s dead and I would take her back however the Lord chose to give her to me and give all of this up because none of this would be what it is without her. She is the one. Because of that friend raising because of that need for help, that showed us the generosity of people.
[00:08:47] There’s a, when I signed my, Be Brave in the Scared book, there’s a scripture that I always signed and it’s Ephesians 3:20-21. And that basically says the generosity of God can never be out done. And that’s, He showed us that because within a week of us sending those letters and saying that novena, the second mortgage was paid off and we saved her house within a week.
[00:09:10] We had never, I mean, we walked out of that experience and we were able to pay for the next three years of medical care with what was raised. And we’ve never had that. Now what happened after that? I mean, yes, it was there more medical debt and all of that shore, but when, and were there more GoFund me’s for different things?
[00:09:29] I mean, we didn’t pay for her funeral. Her funeral is covered by people. They wanted to, they loved her so much. They just wanted to show their love and that’s how they could do it three months before she passed away. We have these thing called love bombs, right. Which you see all over the place now, but we call them love bombs, where you put up an Amazon list and you’re like, we could really use your help.
[00:09:50] I remember Sam was the UPS guy. I will never forget it because he showed up every single day for like a month. And one day the entire truck was for Courtney. Oh my God, her mattress pads, new things that were helping her as she was living the last three to four months of her life. And all of those things that were given to us at that point, we then were able to give to other families who had special needs kids like Courtney.
[00:10:14] And so her hospital bed was given to someone else that needed a hospital bed and insurance wouldn’t cover it. Her lift that helped it’s like a sling lift that helps you transfer her from her, her bed to her wheelchair is now in someone else’s home. You can’t give away a wheelchair, so that one was dismantled and was given to an organization that rebuilds it from parts.
[00:10:34] for, for families that can’t afford them and insurance doesn’t cover, especially in third world countries. So she has two or three wheelchairs hanging out in Africa somewhere, which is kind of cool, you know, things like that. So we never, whatever was given, we always tried really hard to turn around and give back, but.
[00:10:48] That’s a long story to say in 2007, I started a blog and this is why I never, this is why I don’t do Twitter because I can’t do anything at 140 characters,
[00:11:00] Sophia: [00:11:00] no long form communication, no short form communication for you. Well, I was going to say, my next question was how has this influenced your online ministry?
[00:11:09] And of course, you know, you’ve covered some of that, but after she passed away, is it something that you’re still trying to aim for? It’s giving back to people, you know, either who helped you or help pass on the message of, you know, Courtney?
[00:11:23] Mary: [00:11:23] Absolutely. Absolutely. It’s always about giving forward. It’s always about taking.
[00:11:30] what has been given to you, whether it be through charism, through talent, through a gifting financially through the books that I write through, the retreats that I give everything is about. It’s almost as if I feel sometimes like, I’m just the warehouse. It comes into me and then I bring it out.
[00:11:49] Right. So I am, I’m just the conduit in which sometimes the Holy Spirit speaks to other people because of course he speaks to us through all means through music, through the spoken word, through the written word, through beauty of art. Through simple conversations over zoom or over one day, I hope a cappuccino and a cafe without a mask, you know, all of those things, he speaks to us through that.
[00:12:13] So yeah, I talk about Courtney all the time. I talk about the lessons learned from her life because I read this morning actually in the Magnificat where it said, I actually see this as a Holy Spirit moment where it said now, and then God’s people of old needed to be reminded of the care with which his love had surrounded and protected them.
[00:12:35] And sometimes we needed to be reminded too. And I thought, yeah, we need to be reminded about his love and his care. But also it says in the first reading from the letter of Hebrews, which was the first reading of this morning, it says because he himself was tested through what he suffered. He is able to help those who are being tested.
[00:12:54] And I think if you were to put my ministry in a sentence, it was that. Because of what I have gone through and how I was tested and how God has healed me and continues to heal me. I’m still on a healing journey for all different kinds of things in my life. We always are. We should always be moving forward, always learning, always growing, but because of what specifically in the last 32 merit years of marriage, I have learned and gone through, I am now able to take those lessons because you have to remember I’m six years out from burying a child.
[00:13:26] So I can talk about her and not cry. I can talk about her and not go into a depression or, or be sucked into the grief of it. Now, there are days where that’s not true, but I actually have to like, just sit and feel the loneliness of, of not having her in my life. But those days are, are, are the stretches in between them.
[00:13:47] Are much, much longer than they used to be. So I’m on, as my friends would say the other side of something. Right. And so now I’m able to go back and take those lessons and help somebody else. Who’s just at the beginning of it. Whether it be grieving, a child who you suffering a marriage that is breaking up a child who’s left the church.
[00:14:07]The fact that you’re not married and you don’t have children, you know, all of these different things, help those that come for it in a way that I never was able to before. So it’s always about paying forward. It’s always about generosity of God. It’s always about living a brave and bold life.
[00:14:24] Sophia: [00:14:24] A hundred percent.
[00:14:25] I mean, when I was going through my hearing loss journey for, you know, the last 10, 12 years of my life, I never thought I was going to be on the other side of it per se, because it’s something that I’m always going to be living with. But, you know, once I fully achieved the death stage where I don’t have any hearing loss, I can speak to those people and say, you know, this is the grief and the, you know, experienced it.
[00:14:46] You’re going to feel as you’re going through this trauma of finding author, you’re losing your hearing. And one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done is being able to mentor people, especially moms with young children who are going through this, you know, because I can say, Hey, I lived here. I’m 20 I’m in college.
[00:15:02] I’m doing all the things of a normal life. And so things are going to be okay. And so I think that paying it forward, it doesn’t have to be financially. It doesn’t have to be monetary. It can be spiritually, it can be through a mentor. Can I think that generosity of people is something that is almost unmatched that you almost you’re like, how could I ever give back to somebody who gave to me?
[00:15:23] And so I know,
[00:15:24] Mary: [00:15:24] right? That’s the weird thing they’ve given so much to you. And you’re like, I can never like, I don’t, I, how do I give back? Like, and it’s not about equal. Yes,
[00:15:35] Sophia: [00:15:35] exactly.
[00:15:35] Mary: [00:15:35] It’s never about equal. It’s always just about gift, whatever it is.
[00:15:40] Sophia: [00:15:40] Exactly. You know, sometimes it’s just like a simple, thank you for them would be like, that’s just enough.
[00:15:46] You know, to know that my, my generosity is appreciated and recognized is more than enough for somebody. And so you briefly touched on it, but how grief has kind of shaped your life? Did you ever find yourself angry at God for taking.
[00:16:03] Mary: [00:16:03] Oh, my gosh. Well, you know, there’s the famous book, the seven stages of grief, right?
[00:16:08] That’s, that’s the truth, you know, at first you’re shocked. Like you’re, you’re, you just become totally overwhelmed with the idea of loss. Like, how do I go on? You know, I got fired. I mean, I was I was her caretaker for 22 years and in one breath I was fired. And so when you know how to do something, I knew.
[00:16:30] How to care for this child. I knew her likes or dislikes. I knew her med schedule. I knew her doctors I do, or therapists. I knew how she, what, what clothes she liked to wear and what clothes bunter. I knew that she hated shoes. She hated peas. Don’t even consider giving her raw spinach. It had to be cooked.
[00:16:48] I knew how she liked her eggs. I knew what formulation she liked with her. She had a feeding tube. What would make her tummy. You know, like bloated and what would make it not, I mean, these are really important things. When this person can’t speak to you and say, mom, my tummy hurts. So I knew her intimately and then she was gone and it was literally weeks of walking around the house, not knowing what to do.
[00:17:14] I don’t have any memories of, of her. Other than I remember the day we buried her. You know, the day she died and walking through to her funeral mass. I remember all of that. And then the next memory I have is February. So that was like two months later when I was in adoration on a youth retreat, because I was part of youth ministry.
[00:17:33] I still am. And I had a, a beautiful experience there with her. And then the next memory I have is Easter in April. Like I can’t – there’s period I just don’t know what happened. I don’t know. You know, I can go back and look at pictures of my Instagram and I was grieving, you know, but then come somewhere in there comes the anger.
[00:17:53] Like why, why did it, you know, we had grieved everything when she was alive. We were smart. We talk about mentorship. We had been told by several other families who had lost their children as you go through, especially with a severely disabled child. When you get to the kindergarten and they’re not going to kindergarten, they’re going to a special school or you get to middle school or you get to high school where they should be dating and there should be prom.
[00:18:19] And all of these things, you have to grieve what you thought was going to be to make space for the joy of what actually is. And that is a huge, important lesson in grief. Right. You have to sit with the feelings. And I was not about ready to sit with the feelings cause they were so overwhelming. I didn’t think I could breathe.
[00:18:39] I mean, it was just like a panic attack and then I got angry and I was like, why now? Why didn’t you take her when she was younger? Why did you let her be with us for 22 years? And then say enough? You know, I mean, I was sassy. I was in his face. I was irritated and mad as a wet hen, like seriously upset. And you have to face that that’s part of facing those feelings.
[00:19:05] That’s part of sitting in the grief, working your way through that, because the next step after that is like resignation that she’s gone. I can’t get her back. And so what has, how has grief, grief shaped who I am? Grief will always and forever be with me. If I am a tower grief is the Ivy winding its way around the tower.
[00:19:30] And some days it will choke you off and other days it’s beautiful and green and memories and the, and the little flowers bloom like a morning glory by a vine. There’s the beautiful flower of the memory. Other days you just feel suffocated by it. And that’s just part of it. It’s just part of my story. It doesn’t her life and her death do not define who I am.
[00:19:53] They are part of who I am, but they’re not the definition. I am a daughter of the most High King. I am his daughter. That is who I am and I am royalty and she was royalty. And now she has entered into her full reward. And I’m still working in the vineyard and there are days where I kind of get mad at her.
[00:20:15] Like really? How are you doing up there? You doing okay, enjoying that, you know, nice steak dinner and the chocolate pudding you couldn’t eat here because it would give you seizures. So I’m sure you’re like just basking in it. You know, I really. You know, and with the craziness in the world, there are some days that I literally pray.
[00:20:30] Like it can be today. God really, it can be, I just want to confession, like how about now? Now’s a good time, you know, can you come back now? And I think as I get older and I began to spend time, like right now, what is grief doing for me right now? Well, our son is engaged to a beautiful young woman who is actually Courtney’s age.
[00:20:50] And how did Courtney come into their courtship and into their story? Well, Jonathan was on a dating app. He did not have success with it. He was going to cancel it. There was one message in his inbox and he didn’t know if he was going to answer it. So he went to his sister’s grave, which is what he does when he is trying to figure out a big life decision.
[00:21:13] And apparently they had a really good conversation. I would have loved to have watched that. Jonathan tend to pace, he’s like his dad, he paces back and forth. So he was, must’ve been pacing back and forth talking to her. He comes home and he’s like, I have nothing to lose. Courtney said, just answer the message.
[00:21:27] I have nothing to lose. It’s either going to be a date on it. And if it doesn’t turn out, then I’m done and I’m walking away. And so he answered the message. Well, the message was Jessica and Jessica, unbeknownst to Jonathan had read his little blurb about his sister and loving and caring for his sister on his profile.
[00:21:44] And she asked for her intercession and said, if you, you know, if I meant to be with him, if I meant to meet him, if I met to date, whatever it is, I’m going to need your help. And here they are. They, we either one knew about those things until about the third or fourth date when they kind of shared, you know, why you, why did I say yes, why did I, and it changed everything for them because the one thing Jonathan was always concerned with was the Courtney vote.
[00:22:13] Would she like the person that he chose and here they both have come to understand she helped choose them for each other. So how does grief affect my life right now while there’s a wedding in the fall? And she’s, she’s heavily present.
[00:22:31] Sophia: [00:22:31] That is absolutely beautiful. I mean, I remember you sharing this story on your Instagram too, but to hear it like in person, it’s just so much more beautiful.
[00:22:40] I almost have no words for that because there’s just so much intercession and just so much beauty that can come out of things that are just not sometimes, you know, death, trauma, injury, things like that. There’s just so much hope for no matter what you’re going through. And so what are some things that you hope people learn from your story?
[00:22:58] Whether it is the hope-filled side or that you were angry at God, what do you hope people learn from you?
[00:23:05] Mary: [00:23:05] You can do hard things. You can do hard things. You have to meet the emotion where it is. You cannot, it is not healthy. It is not good for you to ignore the emotion and the depth of the pain. You have to sit in the hard things.
[00:23:23] So. I think the St. Francis to sales, who used to say, if God brought you to this moment, God will bring you through this moment. The only way to the other side is through you have to go through. And so we have to equip ourselves to be able to go through the other thing I want. I want everyone to know death does not win.
[00:23:45] Death does not win. You know, here, we’ve just come out of advent here. The incarnation has happened. We have this beautiful baby, you know, and all of our hope is wrapped up in him and in a few weeks, because law comes early this year and a few weeks, we’re going to be entering into that. Walk that via Delarosa to the cross.
[00:24:06] You cannot have Easter Sunday without good Friday. And what is in the middle of them? Silence. The Holy Saturday of waiting. Many of us find ourselves sitting in a good Friday and we’re angry and we’re tired and we’re physically hurting, emotionally hurting, spiritually hurting. Our family is hurting, whatever it is, our bodies are disintegrating our marriage, our jobs, whatever.
[00:24:34] And we’re sitting there at the foot of the cross and God takes his last breath. And we find ourselves in the silence of Holy Saturday. Wondering how is he going to fix it? How is he going to get us through it? A lot of us live the majority of our lives in that Holy Saturday, stretching that, waiting for an answer to prayer, that waiting for a miracle.
[00:24:57] And then it comes. Courtney was a miracle. We are each a miracle. You are a miracle. I am a miracle. Her life was miracle after miracle after there’s no way she should have ever survived. Half the things she went through, but she did because God had a purpose and a plan for her life and she knew it and she was doing her very best to get it done.
[00:25:20] And her one job was to love was to receive love and to give love. And it’s funny because she epitomizes is exactly what we’re supposed to do. She shows us the face of Christ and to be able to receive love so freely without hesitation. How many of us fight that love that want God wants to give us? Cause we don’t feel worthy.
[00:25:38] And I just, I, every time I, we have a portrait of her sitting in her house, I’m looking at it right now across the computer. And it’s just love like mom, just open your arms and let them love you. Like it’s the best. Trust me. And let him walk with you through the hard things. Let him remind you. Like I just was reminded this morning and the readings that, you know, he loves you.
[00:25:58] He cares for you. You’re the Apple of his eye. He delights in you, even when you’re in mortal sin, he loves you. He loves you so much. He sent his son to die for you. So if we believe that, if we truly believe that down to our cellular level, then we must. Live with hope. We must, we are called to live in actionable hope.
[00:26:24] What is the lesson of Courtney’s life and death? Love. Love, always wins. Death will not win.
[00:26:34] Sophia: [00:26:34] Absolutely. I mean, I, I always come back to Matt Maher’s song, Christ is Risen, and how it’s just like, you know, death, you know, where’s your sting, where’s your victory? You’re not going to win. And I love the imagery that you said about that waiting period of the Triduum.
[00:26:52] How. And Holy Saturday, we’re just like what’s coming next and over and above and beyond, he comes on Easter Sunday, and that is exactly how God is going to live in our lives. If we let him, you know, I was going through a period in my life where I was like, I don’t know what’s going to come next. And one person said to me, just open your hands.
[00:27:12] And so I always just have this image of just sitting there with your hands, open palms facing up. Right. Ready to receive everything at anything that he gives to you. And every single time, he just provides more than enough for you. And that’s my word for the year. Isn’t enough. I am enough. I am worthy. He is going to give me enough to satisfy my life.
[00:27:31] And so there’s just so many graces. So many mercies that he’s ready to give to you at the drop of a hat and because you are worthy. And so I think, I hope everybody listening to this as inspired by what you just said. Cause I know I am, it’s an answer to my prayer.
[00:27:47] Mary: [00:27:47] and that idea of worthiness, especially as women, we really struggle with that.
[00:27:51] We are worthy because we are a breath of God. We are made in his image and likeness and we are part of him, right? We are not worthy on our own. Nobody is worthy on our own, but we are worthy because God is within us. And we, we are enough because he makes us enough. Right? And we are the Apple of his eye.
[00:28:13] You know, you look at the world and, and none of us look alike. We are all so unique and unrepeatable, there will never be another Courtney Elizabeth Scholastica Lenaburg. There will never be another one, right. The world doesn’t need another one because she came and she did her job. The world will never have another Sophia Lebano.
[00:28:34] They’ll never have another one. Why? Because you’re here for a purpose and a mission that is uniquely yours. It doesn’t look like mine. It doesn’t look like your sisters or your brothers or, or your cousins or your great aunt betty. It doesn’t look like any of those because it’s unique as you are unique.
[00:28:52] And that’s where we get into trouble with one another, especially as women, we, we compare. Right. And so comparison is the death of joy. So I have a philosophy of encouragement over envy celebration, over comparison wit over wit and wisdom over wisecracks. I was going to say something else, but I’ll be, I’ll get my language, you know, over that, that, that just kind of sarcastic by play that we do, you know, that passive aggressive baloney that we play with one another.
[00:29:26] So we are called to love each other, even though you and I are walking together, right. We’re walking side by side, hand in hand, and we’re all supposed to be pointing each other toward Christ. That’s our job. Right to speak and preach into each other’s lives and always be pointing toward the cross. Always be pointing toward the tomb, which is now empty because he has risen from the dead.
[00:29:54] Sophia: [00:29:54] Absolutely. I mean, just it’s so mind blowing to think, and you can, you can say those words a thousand times and somebody might not actually internalize it, but I think once you do, it’s just so powerful and it’s just so moving, you know, God can move mountains within you if you let him. And so I almost have nothing else to add to that because it’s so powerful.
[00:30:16] Mary: [00:30:16] He moves mountains we don’t even see. I mean, he’s working constantly, you know, a lot of people are, they rely on their emotions instead of their intellect, right? There are so many things we know as Catholic Christians. We know that God is God and we are not. We know that you look at the creed that we say in our mass every week, these are things we know.
[00:30:36] And yet we get sucked into the emotion because you don’t feel him. Like, I don’t feel God in my life. Well, there are saints like Mother Teresa for 60 years who never felt him, but she knew what her job was and she knew what her mission was. And she continued to serve in that silence once she understood.
[00:30:54] That God was faithful and true. And always with her, you know, there are many Saint Therese everybody’s these saints that we hold up with such today is one of the doctors at church Saint Hilary. He was a Bishop. And so his big thing was diplomacy, right? Like we need him today so desperately because he would say you have to meet your neighbor where they are.
[00:31:14] You have to be like your brother to understand what walk they’re walking, and then. And only then when you’re in relationship, do you put your arms around each other and go, okay, now let’s walk together. And that really is, it’s a game changer when you have that, that personal conversion moment where you truly understand that God loves you.
[00:31:38] You love him with the capacity you will never be able to fully comprehend. And Our Lady is standing there with her, you know, her mantle wrapped around you going you’re okay. It’s okay. Mama’s here. We’re going to be okay. And there are just so many things out in the world today that people are being consumed by that they can make a choice.
[00:31:55] They can make a different choice. And the only way they’re going to have the power and the will to make that choices with God in their life.
[00:32:02] Sophia: [00:32:02] Absolutely. And I think it’s just, it’s such a hope-filled message for everybody. No matter what you’re walking through in life is that God’s fair. You know, if you’re walking in your Holy Saturday and your good Friday, that Easter Sunday is just right around the corner.
[00:32:14] And so I’m going to use that. I think that’s wonderful. So thank you for giving that to us, but do you have any other tips or advice or anything that you want to give to those who maybe are currently experiencing grief, death, trauma, injury, something that they’re living through right now?
[00:32:28] Mary: [00:32:28] I get asked a lot.
[00:32:30] How can I believe in God when so many bad things happen and you have to go back to our understanding of why, you know, sin exists and exists because in the garden, Adam stood silent and Eve made a bad choice, right? And so it’s this rupture of heaven and earth, and now there’s a breach. And so we are constantly asking God to repair the breach, right?
[00:32:52] Even in our own lives with our own sin, but someone that’s gone through a trauma, they’ve lost a loved one. They themselves have experienced a personal assault of some kind or, or, you know, just a huge difficulty in their life. And they’re struggling with the idea of where is God. I know for me, what was so incredibly helpful was to just be mad.
[00:33:17] And to be honest with my feelings to come to the Lord and say, I don’t know like you right now. I love you. I know you’re God, but I don’t understand why you would allow this. You, you, for this person, you gave a miracle, you healed them for this person over here. You know, you healed them after a time of suffering.
[00:33:38]What we came to understand with our daughter was the third way the Catholic church believes in healing as an acceptance, that it will only happen when you enter to heaven, the heavenly reward. And so Courtney was healed. God did answer our prayer. It just didn’t look like we thought it would look like.
[00:33:53] So there’s an acceptance after trauma that your life isn’t going to look like what you think. But again, you have to sit in those feelings. You have to build a community around you. Let’s say, for example, I think more importantly than what do I say to the person that’s experiencing the trauma? What do I say to the person?
[00:34:09] That’s best friends with the person that’s gone through a trauma, sit with them. You don’t got to fix it. It’s not your job to fix it. It’s your job to see them to know them and to love them, to allow them. Let’s say they’ve lost a loved one to allow them to talk about that love when in a way where they don’t feel guilty and they can cry and go through an entire box of Kleenex with the ugly cry and all of a sudden sitting there saying nothing, but I’m so sorry for your loss.
[00:34:37] I love you. My friend, I am here. I am here to walk with you, right? You don’t ask them, Hey, if you need me, just let me know. That should be eradicated from our vocabulary. No one is ever going to ask for help. No one. And so show up with it, show up with that meal show up with that. Those flowers show. Send a letter.
[00:34:57] Show up with the help and if they aren’t in a place where they can receive it and say, thank you, then just give it as gift and don’t expect anything in return. That’s what a gift is. It’s to give something of yourself without expecting anything in return. It’s the best thing we can do for one another is this gift of time, this gift of attention, but for someone who’s just really, really stuck and is hurt, I just go to the cross because Jesus was abandoned.
[00:35:27] The apostles were nowhere to be found. It was his mother who remained it was John, the one he loved the most, his closest companion who remained. It was the people that were able to step outside themselves and step into his pain that were there. And so whenever I get stuck in the anger or in the, the grief, like we have this wedding coming.
[00:35:50] I know on that day, it will be, it’ll be a bittersweet day for me, it’ll be a beautiful, glorious, wonderful day because my son and the one that holds his heart will become one, but there will be an empty seat next to me. And so I know that, I know that, I know that’s coming. There’ll be the moment where she tries on her wedding dress and I won’t ever get that moment with Courtney.
[00:36:14] And so in those times, what I’m learning six years out, is I take those feelings of loss and grief and pain. And I literally, in my mind ,wrap them up as the most beautiful present I could wrap. And I put them at the foot of the cross and I give them to Jesus as gift. There is a reason we suffer. And it’s so that we can offer that suffering for another it’s the beautiful theology of redemptive suffering.
[00:36:47] You know, we carry one sliver of the cross of what Jesus carried. That’s what he offers us in those moments of suffering. So if you are experiencing trauma, if you are experiencing pain, you are experiencing loss in any way, just know that you have never once for one millisecond of time than alone in that he’s been right there with you.
[00:37:08] And whether you’re going to yell at him or kick him out the door, just talk to him, let him come into that pain because he knows it intimately.
[00:37:19] Sophia: [00:37:19] Absolutely. I mean, there’s nothing else I can add to that, to top that. But I did see this video on Instagram when a couple of days ago where it’s just like, you know, to talk to Jesus more than you talk to your best friend, talk to him more than you talk to your mom.
[00:37:33] At the end of the day, he sees everything that’s going on, but he still wants to hear from you. And he still wants to have that intimate conversation with you. So fill him in and yell at them like you would your best friend.
[00:37:44] Mary: [00:37:44] think he’s a big God. He can take it.
[00:37:46] Sophia: [00:37:46] Exactly. You know, he carried the world on his shoulder.
[00:37:48] So I think he can do it at this point and listen to it, but I think that is something that a lot of times people are so afraid of is that aspect of redemptive suffering. Like, why me, what am I doing to add to this? And what’s my purpose? Why are you giving this to me? And I think it’s kind of always in those, those hindsight moments that you’re going to see what God has to offer.
[00:38:10] You know, I’ve found a lot of times in my life that those rewards and those gifts don’t come until after the fact. And those are the ones that are the most rewarding that you can say, Hey, I went through this and this is what I get to offer, and I get to move forward with. And what you were saying about, you know, just sitting with somebody.
[00:38:29] My mom wrote a blog post about this a little bit ago, there’s a song by Crista Wells. It’s called Come Close Now. And you know, what can I bring to your fire? And. No, how can I sit in the smoke with you? And sometimes all they need is just to know that you’re sitting there with him, you know, you can be outside the door, you can be a thousand miles away, but I think, you know, that aspect of, let me know if you need anything, it leaves the door open to you, and you’re not in that place to accept and say, Hey, I need help.
[00:38:59] Come reach out to me now. So I think just acknowledging your presence and there’s, it’s probably the most rewarding and fulfilling thing you can do.
[00:39:06] Mary: [00:39:06] One of the things that I’ve come to do over the years, which is quite simple. It’s just a note. My friend Kathryn calls it the ministry of the unexpected note and it just, I would just write a note.
[00:39:19] I write a note, a letter to someone expressing, you know, where I was praying for them. And they’re seeing, they’re known I’m sorry, I can’t be there in person, you know, but just know that I’m thinking about you and it just shows up one day. And it always shows up in the exact day. They need to hear it.
[00:39:38] That they’re, that, that somebody sees them. And I think we need to get back to that. You know, we need to get back to the, the, the ministry of the unexpected note. Absolutely.
[00:39:50] Sophia: [00:39:50] I completely agree. You know, sometimes just receiving a letter in the mail is something 10 times more impactful than getting a text from somebody.
[00:39:58]And really just having that personal and intimate connection again, with people as something that we’re really missing especially in a time like this, where we need this more than ever for a lot of us are experiencing grief and trauma 10 times over. So I think if nothing else. Yeah,
[00:40:14] Mary: [00:40:14] this is, this is going to be it.
[00:40:16] This is going to be a very fascinating journey when all of this is over how this has a fact affected an entire generation of young people. And what trauma they’re going to bring forward in their lives to their adulthood. And we, as those of us that are a little older, down the road, how can we equip them to deal with that trauma to handle the big feelings to handle, you know, being afraid.
[00:40:47] I mean, this coronavirus has brought death to the forefront. You know, it’s right there. You can’t avoid it. And, and it’s really brought this idea of only God knows the time. Right? It’s scriptural. I know the time. You’re not to worry about the time. That is never to be a worry or a concern of yours. You’re not to worry about it.
[00:41:06] Cause I know when it’s going to be, so just live your life. And people have been kind of forced to really look at their lives, how they were living them, how they want to live them with intention more so than before. So it’s going to be, yeah, the Lord is really working there. He wastes nothing. This is not wasted time for him.
[00:41:24] He is not surprised by any of it. And there is a plan. I just don’t need to know what it is. I just need to keep serving and loving and scrubbing floors. And, you know, you
[00:41:37] Sophia: [00:41:37] keep scrubbing the floors, but I always come back to Jeremiah 29:11. You know, I know the plans that I have for you. Plans to give you hope and prosper.
[00:41:46] And I always remember that from soul surfer.
[00:41:51] Mary: [00:41:51] You ready? How about Jeremiah 29:11 to 13? Because what happens in the next two verses do you know?
Sophia: Not off the top of my head.
Mary: There you go. Cause it’s the, it’s the basis of my second book. When you call out to me, I will answer your prayer. That’s right after that.
[00:42:09] That’s verse 12. So when we look at that verse, everybody pulls that verse, you know, from, I know it from soul surfer as well. Like I know the plans you have for me, plans that I would prosper plans that you would not bring me harm and then it goes on and it’s like, so when you call out to me, I will answer your prayer.
[00:42:27] Like, boom. There it is. What do we have to do? You have to call out.
[00:42:34] Sophia: [00:42:34] Yep. We have to be the ones to reach out and ask for help.
[00:42:36] Mary: [00:42:36] Yup. The most glorious sound to God is a sound of your voice.
[00:42:42] Sophia: [00:42:42] So inspiring. I mean, I, again, just have no words and I hope everybody listening to this is inspire to just call out to God today and just ask him for whatever you need.
[00:42:52] And so you did mention your book. So I wanted to ask where can people buy your books? You know, what are the best places for people to connect with you?
[00:43:00]Mary: [00:43:00] They can connect with me on my website at Mary Lenaberg.com and then Be Brave and scared and Be Bold in the Broken are both available on Amazon, Barnes and noble, Ave Maria Press.
[00:43:09] It would be awesome if people pre-ordered the be bold in the broken book that comes out March 12th. You can go to my website for a signed copy of, Be brave for that. So yeah, just go to the website and everything’s there and if you’re on Instagram, come say hi.
[00:43:22] Sophia: [00:43:22] Yeah. Amazing Mary, thank you so much for being here today.
[00:43:25] You are
[00:43:26] Mary: [00:43:26] so very welcome. It has been a delight,
[00:43:28] Sophia: [00:43:28] Great to chat with you. And again, I hope everybody is walking away with some nuggets of inspiration today and maybe just taking a second to kind of just evaluate where they are in their life as well. But yeah. So all of your links will be in the show notes for everybody to check out.
[00:43:43] Yeah, definitely order the book. I’m excited to get a copy of it as well. I think this will be going up around that time too. So super, super exciting. But again, thank you so much for being here and thank you guys for listening to this week’s episode of Hear and Now podcast. Have a wonderful and blessed week.
[00:43:59] Thank you, Mary. Thank you. Bye.
It’s the 76th episode of Hear and Now Podcast! Thank you for joining me this week as I have Mary Lenaburg on to discuss Being Bold in the Broken, and how we can deal with grief in our lives.
This is one of the most powerful episodes to date.
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Thank you to Heather Lebano for editing the transcript for this podcast!