Wednesday, July 28, 2010

How Beautiful

Peace be with all of you.

I must start by saying thank you to everyone who has called, written, attended the visitation, and the funeral. Thank you; Thank you; Thank you.

It was apparent to all just how much you all love Ann and our family with an estimated 500+ people at the funeral. It is also apparent how much that God loves us and how touching it is as you care for one another as well.

I have witnessed many beautiful scenes of nature, the birth of my children, my wife on our wedding day... I must say the way that all reached out through the visitation and funeral transformed that time into something sacred, holy and beautiful for me. Odd as that may sound, I felt the Father's love through each hug, kiss, and tear shed with you. He is surrounding us with love the way that only He can. I have learned that when God decides to show you His love that it will be through a broad array of people, nature, sounds, smells, and touch. Without taking a moment to step back to see He is at work, we may write something off as a coincidence -- I try not to if I can.

The funeral itself started with the same song that Ann walked down the isle last year for our 10 year wedding vow renewal -- "How Beautiful". It was an emotional moment for me as I followed the casket into church all the time refecting on the joy I felt last year versus the pain I was feeling now. It was hard -- as the Mass proceeded I was touched by all the ways that many of you contributed to having this be a beautiful goodbye for Ann. I was very touched by the homily from Fr. Craig -- it was spot on. Perhaps I will be able to get the text and post it here for all to read. The music was beautiful (many of Ann's favorites) the readings seemed written specifically for the occassion even though they come straight from scripture and I couldn't have hoped for things to have been any better.

I have had many prayers in these past few weeks -- God is gracious and merciful to us and has answered many of these prayers -- we are so blessed. Now, my family is pursuing a new "normal". We are working through getting setup for school and the logistics that are involved. My parents have been so helpful -- as well as many of you too; thank you. I don't think Zoe, Grace and I really know what "normal" looks like ourselves -- other than that the 3 of us are closer than ever before and we have learned to slow down and enjoy each other. Sure there are struggles each day -- we are working through them; the greiving will certainly be long and at times tough but know that our trust remains in God and He will provide the graces to us that are needed in just the moment that we need them.

To all that wonder what is next, I pray this motivation you feel to help via the Holy Spirit continues and that you seek a way to reach out in love to those around you wherever that may be and share the gifts that you have been given. Do not dispair. God is faithful and good - He loves each of us beyond all measure.

Sounds simple huh? Perhaps, but I believe that is exactly what we are called to do each moment of our day -- I just need not to make it more complicated... How beautiful is the body of Christ...


Monday, July 19, 2010

Ann's Goodbye Ceremonies

Peace be with you...

I wanted to get some quick information about visitation and funeral out to you that are wise with technology.

Her visitation will be on Wednesday night from 6-8 pm with a rosary following. The funeral will be on Thursday morning at 10 am. Both of these events will be at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Shawnee, KS.
5501 Monticello Rd, Shawnee, KS 66226

The funeral home taking care of all of the arrangements is Alden Harrington Funeral Home (913)422-4074

We are asking that any donations in lieu of flowers be made to the Sacred Heart of Jesus School Endowment Fund.

With love and prayer.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

We all miss Ann!!!

Zoe here - At 4:00AM was probably the worst goodbye and crying and emotions shared in room 21. My mom died with love and hope & some memories to carry with her to heaven. A double rainbow that Mike talked about that appeared right out on our front doorstep on Friday after the storm welcoming her to heaven.

We Love You Mom!!!

Ann Elizabeth Schierts 1966-2010

Saturday, July 17, 2010

In the arms of Jesus

Peace be with you all -

Ann passed on to our Lord at 4 am today. She passed in peace while I was holding her hand. I love her so much and there is certainly an emptiness in the house today. I know that she is in the love of God with all of her pain removed. She will remain connected to us all and we now have a beautiful soul in heaven advocating for us.

The day she passed while a blur was at the same time sacred - I was by her side doing my best not to be the Martha but instead witnessing the love being poured out on her by our heavenly Father through the double rainbow Mike mentioned as well as so many caring friends and family. She spent many moments of prayer through the weeks and days leading up today. She witnessed rosaries being said for her on our driveway -- what a witness to the children. She had the opportunity to be well prepared for her death by Father Craig and she was at extreme peace.

If I were to have a message in this it would be twofold. 1) I heard Ann say it many times; slow down be open to how God is working around / through each of us; we have such a tendency to rush to fill the void of needs with our own skills / approaches that we, at times, prevent God from doing the work that is His -- when God answers it is elegant and flows with love; 2) Focus more on the hope of heaven rather than the challenges of this earthly life. As I said to Zoe and Grace, its ok for us to have boo hoo's (down moments) but we need also to looking for the woo hoo's (up moments) as well. Please, please, please, let Ann's passing not become a stumbling block for you with God. This disease, cancer, was the culprit not some uncaring or sadistic action of God. God is good and I am very comforted by the knowledge that my dear lovely Ann is with Jesus.

Zoe, Grace and I now take up the process of grieving as I know many of you will do in your way as well. Please know that we will forever trust in the Lord and in His goodness.

Ann -- save that dance for me when I join you.


The Double Rainbow

Mike Book here, filling in for Hal, who has not left Ann's side for several hours. Ann has been moved to the Hospice House. We do not know when her Father will call her home, but it will likely be soon. She has said goodbyes. There have been tears, smiles, kisses and laughter. We were reminded today that God is not in the thunder, He is not in the wind, He is not in the storm. No, He is the slightest whisper. He is the double rainbow that appeared over Ann's house today after the tempest blew over. He is the "I love you" that has been repeated so many times today. I have witnessed His beauty in the selfless love poured out by friends and family, and by Ann and Hal as they openly share the precious gift of allowing us all to participate in these moments. There is no greater love than to give your life for your friends. I love you Ann.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Sneaking Away

Hi All, it's me Ann giving Hal the break this time. I am up in my room listening to the all the sweet sounds of all my nephews and Zoe and Grace having fun blowing up a 2 second firecracker. Oh do you remember those days?
My three brothers along with their families are all here enjoying memories and creating more. even though i am exhausted and in some pain, I continue to ask God to keep me in the present, to let me hold on to this present that he has given to me. I keep reminding the girls that this is so rare where we can come together and celebrate our lives and to see each other in this atmosphere for the last time. How many people get this? How many people just leave this earth in an instant? Truly a blessing is all I can say.
Hal has told you all about the miraculous angels that flutter about all day and I think about how this is just an average day for the heavenly angels though we are too busy to stop and take notice.
You should see my beautiful room that I have. all you ladies have such talent and my peaceful room painted a serene blue with hints of pinks and whites so much remind me of my heavenly mother who awaits me. I can' t tell you the peace and serenity I feel each time I take the moment to rest in there. I am not ready to make it my full time residence just yet but oh how good it will be when I do. This past week has transpired into such a fantastic love fest and Jesus awakes me every morning with a smile on his face and a sort of slant in his neck saying "ready yet"? No lord, I'm not. Then he sends one of his angels named Sarah and we begin our day reading scripture and worshiping his name.
Thank you all for respecting our privacy, I know this is hard on you and that you only wish to see me and make sure I am ok but it does take a lot of energy for me each day to talk as my voice has gotten much weaker and I rely on my oxygen throughout the day.
I have read each card and feel your love, know that I am goood and dressed and even showered each day! I receive communion every afternoon and just watch and listen to the day.
The girls are so smart and so helpful. They understand as much as possible and really show their faith by talking about what is to come and what is troubling them. Although nothing is wrong in their world this second as their older cousins help them turn into little pyromaniacs.
Until the next time my friends, keep this love for me and spread it others who have no one to pray for them. I can share I can share.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Showered by love

Peace and blessings to you.

Luke 1:46-47 And Mary said: "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior."

Ann and I are overwhelmed by the love of God being showered on our family -- such a great abundance of graces being poured out by heaven. It is so beautiful and humbling. I have said to Zoe and Grace many times that if they wonder just how much God loves mommy they simply can watch the flow of blessings coming through our front door. So too, my soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord! My gr attitude to our Lord and all of His helpers.

We are blessed with good care from the hospice team and the house has been made ready for the anticipated events to follow. A big thanks to all of the ladies from the painting crew who did a beauty make over on the room that will be used by Ann. Of course, this is one of the many touching acts of charity which also include: prayers, flowers, food, gifts, cards, hugs, and the list goes on. You are all wonderful.

Physically, Ann has had a bad day and a good day since the last update. I find that she tires easily and we simply out of our own frailty not able to keep up with all of the calls, e-mails, text messages. We both wish we could have the energy and want you to know we are praying for you too. Knowing how easily she tires I would ask all to consider sending or leaving a card. For those that do stop by, I would suggest that early afternoon is the best time for Ann and we have created a stop-light code on the door to let you know if she's accepting visitors (red means she's pooped out or feels like poop; green means its ok to stop). If you do stop, I would ask that we keep visits to a short 15 minute duration with limited number of people at a time.

Ann's spirits remain good. She has received Confession, Anointing, and daily Eucharist. She has a prayer partner come by each day to be with her and Zoe and her even together do the daily Mass readings. I would love to see that habit continue for Zoe (and perhaps a few of you out there too?). In addition, some of the Little Sisters of the Lamb came to the house today to pray with Ann and the family. They are such a blessing to Kansas City - I pray that each of you can meet them yourselves too.

I opened with the words of Mary as I often reflect on her witness of the suffering of Jesus as a good source of learning and application in my life as I witness Ann's suffering. Mary was remarkable. In her Yes to God's request, I learn that each action in every moment is our opportunity to say Yes to God's request in our lives. Mostly, they are little requests for me as I am little compared to Mary and certainly more so compared to God. But, think about the love that is unleashed when all of us choose Yes together -- for me, I see some small portrait of that at my front door each day. Being the mother of Jesus was not Mary's goal in life. Neither was cancer Ann's goal -- how beautiful the painting becomes when God combines all of our Yes choices both great and small to His will?

Keep the faith -- God loves you and desires your Yes today.