If Only I Had Known….

(I am so humbled to share this witness of a very beautiful friend. Her story is one many women and couples can relate to, and by the grace of God, it is a story of redemption. It is an honor to help her tell it. She saw her wrongdoing, asked for forgiveness, and by the grace of the sacrament has found the healing Jesus Christ offers to all. She has found freedom in the Truth. Please read, share, and pray for all who are hurt by abortion. -Karen)

If only I had known….
Watching the videos that have been released recently about Planned Parenthood’s practices has utterly broken my heart ..
I would like to share my story because if only I had known the truth back in 1981, I never would have had an abortion.
Years ago, at the wise old age of 21, I met Mr. tall, dark, and handsome. He swept me off my feet with a Tecate beer, a lime, and a smooth line. We enjoyed getting to know one another for a few months before we both decided to go our separate ways. Soon after, I discovered I was pregnant and was immediately filled with fear and dread. I was young and carefree, working a construction job to help me get by, and never considered the possibility of having an unplanned pregnancy. The thought of a baby was overwhelming and truth be told, I was in shock. My tall, dark, and handsome was happy to help me pay for an abortion.

I went to my trusted healthcare provider at the time, Planned Parenthood. They had provided me with birth control, which made me so sick I was unable to take it, and now they were all too ready and willing to help me get rid of the resulting problem. There were many voices weighing in and the majority reinforced what I wanted to hear. My sister alone was devastated at my pending decision to have an abortion and tried to talk me out of it. If only I had known the lifelong hurt I was about to cause her and myself.

My friend, on the other hand, offered her assistance and support in whatever way I needed. On a random summer day in 1981, she lovingly drove me to the clinic, so I could end the life of my child. I don’t remember a single detail of that day other than the incredible pain of the procedure. I was emotionally numb, but I felt the stark reality of life being torn from my womb. I buried that day deep down and simply wanted to forget. Though I never said it in so many words, a piece of me died that day, too.

If only I had known how that abortion would affect my future relationships and my self esteem. I muddled through the next 15 years, not recognizing that my relationships were doomed before they began because of my need for healing deep within.
In 1997, I found myself facing another unplanned pregnancy and I knew deep down that I needed to have this child. I had done some growing up, and though I was in no way prepared to be a mother, I listened to that inner voice despite all my fears. Today my daughter is the greatest blessing and the Joy of my life. At the moment of her birth, I could not fully comprehend the miracle that was her life. It changed me in my core and brought healing in many ways. I was confronted with the truth and reality of what I had done years before. I sought forgiveness and that forgiveness has brought me healing. My wounds became scars that I carry with me. They give me passion and compassion and for that I am thankful. My beautiful daughter’s life has taught me what I wish I had known before that fateful day when I carried out the worst decision of my life. 11825233_873754462661330_3274896396235406656_n
If only I had known that a baby’s heart beats at 25 days.
If only I had known that by 8 weeks a baby is fully formed. I had my abortion at 11 weeks.
If only I had known that “my trusted healthcare provider” didn’t really care about me at all. An abortion is not healthcare. Neither is birth control for that matter. If only they had told me that my baby was a living human being.
If only I had known the ripple effect my abortion would cause. My parents never knew their grandchild and my daughter has never known her sibling. That child may have been my only chance to become a mother. By the grace of God, I have my daughter.
If only I had known about all the help that is available when facing an unplanned pregnancy.

Currently, in the Syracuse area the following organizations are here to help:

Elizabeth Ministry– Helps women with unplanned pregnancy and celebrates every child conceived.email elizabethministryrita@gmail.com http://www.jpiicenterforwomen.com/#!about1/cg67
Gianna Healthcare – (315) 488-3139 ext. 16 Prolife Restorative Medical Care http://www.giannasyracuse.com
John Paul II Center for Women 315-488-3139 x16
Promoting the Dignity of Women http://www.jpiicenterforwomen.com
Fertility Education and Care Center– Helping women unleash the power of their own fertility. http://www.fertilityeducationncare.com
Josephs’ House 315-701-4981 where pregnant women can live, have their babies, stay up to two years while continuing their education. Syracuse area. http://josephshouseforwomen.org
New Hope Family Services (315)-437-8300 Adoption services, pregnancy care, parenting education, post abortion counseling, clothing and items for children up to 2 yrs of age. 3519 James Street Syracuse. http://www.newhopefamilyservices.com
Life Call Crisis Pregnancy Centers http://www.lifecall.org Resources for pregnant women. Centers across the U.S.
The Regis Center-/New Hope 315-448-2300 – 1124 E. Genesee St. Syracuse https://www.facebook.com/regiscenterpage
New Life Crisis Pregnancy Center 315-963-2273 – 3349 Main St. Mexico, New York https://www.facebook.com/New-Life-Crisis-Pregnancy-Center-of-Mexico-NY-230642443733477/timeline/                                                                                                                        Project Rachel – 855-364-0076 or email: hopeandhealing@syrdio.org. Post abortion healing.http://www.syracusediocese.org/diocesan-offices/respect-life/project-rachel-ministry/

I want women everywhere to know what I wish I had known. You and your baby are not alone. There is hope and healing for each of us~ always.

An open letter to our beloved Catholic clergy, here in the Syracuse Diocese, and everywhere

Dear Father:

On a Sunday morning in July, I arrived at Mass a mental, physical, and spiritual mess. The busy summer schedule had me running ragged in an effort to keep all my little darlings (7 of them) busy and happy, as well as meeting all of my basic responsibilities. As the weeks of summer wore on, the frenetic pace caught up with me and the physical toll meant that I started sleeping through my “prayer time” alarm every morning. That is always the first sign on the slippery road to spiritual wasteland in my experience. I felt like I was in a vast desert with no water in sight. I doubted that even Mass could restore me to peace.

This particular Sunday, we had some (all-too-common) teenager miscommunication and couldn’t get all the kids to Mass. It was either some of us or none of us, so I was overwhelmed with frustration at life in general and myself in particular. Couple that with grieving the recent loss of my mom, the 2 year-old still-stinging loss of my oldest daughter, and the 7 year-old ache of missing my first-born son, and this mama wanted to throw in the towel. I never would, but it’s the honest truth of how I felt. I was exhausted, overwhelmed, overburdened, and feeling inadequate and powerless to fix any of it. I truly love and live to serve as a wife, mother, friend, and member of the body of Christ, but often it’s a difficult and thankless job. (Often it’s not, but on this particular Sunday I had lost sight of the flip side). As the Mass began and the priest arrived on the altar, he looked right at me and said, “Karen, it is well, I am here to serve you.” OK, not really, but I heard it and felt it and in that moment my hope was restored because a faithful and devoted servant of God was standing his post.

Later, I wondered in awe at the sacrifice and dedication it takes to be a holy and devoted priest in the Church today. Do you get lonely, irritated, tempted, selfish, or struggle with obedience? I certainly do. Do you sometimes feel so overwhelmed by the tasks before you that hopelessness, fear, and despair rear their ugly head? That sounds familiar. Does living your vocation faithfully require determination, faithfulness, and lots of supernatural grace? Welcome to my life. As I contemplated our different vocations, (and forgive me if I’ve presumed too much), it dawned on me in a new way; if you can do it, then so can I. God’s power is made perfect in our weakness. I want you to know, your faithfulness shines like a beacon in darkness and brings relief to the desperate, like finding water in a dry desert.

I can’t imagine my life with the absence of the priesthood. I don’t want to imagine it either. You’ve been there in every joyful, difficult, sad, questioning, and holy moment of my life. You welcomed my children into the Church and to the body of Christ. By the power vested in you, you’ve absolved me of my sins and counseled me. You united my husband and me in holy matrimony thereby cementing my vocation. You prayed with us and for us in our times of devastating loss. You have been there, every single Sunday of my life, bringing Jesus truly present to this sinful and needy soul. At every Mass you are John the Baptist crying in the desert, “Behold, the lamb of God.” Without you there would be no need to respond with humility and need, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof…”. There would be no exchange. There would be no Mass. There would be no hope. Without you the tomb would always feel empty and hopeless.

I have experienced a taste of that hopelessness twice before. It’s a feeling that felt to me like Good Friday x1000. Twice now, we have held a wake to say goodbye to one of our children. Twice, we have greeted thousands and smiled and cried for hours on end. Twice, we have gone home afterwards to stumble through the longest night and wonder how on earth we would face the morning. The tomb was empty and so were we. Then twice again, we have said goodbye and closed a casket and trembled on our way to a funeral Mass, silently screaming to God to let this cup pass us by. Both times we arrived to escort a casket into church and approach an altar flanked with you holy men of God. Devoted in service to Truth, you were standing there like pillars of strength and compassion. You represented the reality of eternity when we were tempted to wallow in the temporal. You represented Resurrection! We needed you and you were there, many of you, silently screaming back to us that we were not alone. When one part of the body suffers, we all suffer together. We never walk alone. Those two funerals changed me in many ways, but the royal priesthood standing up for us is something I will hold dear forever.

I have felt since our son died seven years ago, that if his death helped bring one beloved soul home to our Savior then he did not suffer or die in vain. I would suffer it all again knowing how precious every one of us is to our Lord. The same is true for our daughter. So many beautiful testimonies of faith stemmed from her death and I know there is so much wisdom in allowing her to leave us. I freely offer Michael and Anna and trust in Jesus to work it all for good. I simply wanted you to know that by your faith this one soul has been soothed and saved.

From the very depths of my heart, I thank you:
I Thank you for answering your cell phone in the middle of the night when a terrified and desperate mother needed to know you were praying for her child.
I Thank you for going to the hospital, instead of to bed, to offer prayers and comfort when my mother was afraid and facing the end of her life.
I Thank you for the many house calls to unite our family in prayer when our son was dying of cancer.

I thank you for bringing Mass to our home when we were too distraught to bring ourselves to Mass.
I thank you Bishop for the personal hand-written, snail-mailed letter of encouragement and affirmation that renewed my strength again and again.
I thank you for your service to the kingdom of God.
I thank you for standing for truth, especially in the face of growing persecution for daring to speak it. The thing is, your faithful flock knows the Truth deep within and we need you to reaffirm it. The voices of the culture would have us buy into the lies and we might be tempted, if not for your voice of truth. As long as there is a spark of light, there cannot be total darkness.
I thank you for your prayers and Masses. You will likely never know what they have meant to me this side of Heaven.

May you have the courage to stand strong in this world as the tide rises against all that you have given your very lives for, and the fortitude to suffer for the Truth no matter what lies ahead. Just as you have reminded me time and time again, when you walk in obedience and service to the Truth, you never walk alone.
With gratitude, admiration and love,
Karen Pullano

“The Priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus. When you see a priest, think of our Lord Jesus Christ.” ∼St. Jean Vianney

Source: An open letter to our beloved Catholic clergy, here in the Syracuse Diocese, and everywhere

Mary From The Treadmill

CrossTreadmill

I can’t finish Lent without doing a post about Mary. Especially since she has been interceding so beautifully for me through my time on the Treadmill and bringing me ever closer to her son Jesus. She is truly a mother to me in so many ways.

I think what has struck me in a new way about Mary is the transformation brought about by the total journey of her life. We are used to thinking of her in terms of singular events as depicted in the mysteries of the rosary: the Annunciation, the Visitation, the Nativity, Finding the child Jesus in the temple, her Ascension to Heaven and her crowning as Queen of Heaven. We have only a handful of stories about her in scripture, but she teaches us more than most other characters in the Bible by her beautiful example in each situation: her Fiat, Obedience, Trust, Magnificat, and simple, quiet acceptance.

When I consider the totality of Mary’s journey, especially in light of the fact that she is still physically appearing around the world fulfilling her Motherly duty, it’s hard to remember that she was a simple child of faith when the Angel of the Lord appeared to her so incredibly. She wasn’t born any more divine than you or I but she learned through her life of sufferings and joys to accept and abide in God’s will. It isn’t any single moment in her life that makes Mary great (although she sure did have some doosies!), but rather the sum total of all the parts. What hope for us mere sinners! We can walk in those very footsteps! St. Thérèse of Lisieux, known as the little flower, recognized this same Truth and lived the way of “doing little things with great love.” If we pick up our cross daily and simply live as we are called, we undergo a slow and steady transformation, the end of which we can never fully imagine at the beginning.

Mary walked step by step, day by day, in faith and obedience, and consequently, God elevated her tremendously, all the way to assuming her bodily into Heaven and crowning her Queen of Heaven, mere human though she was! Her first big ‘Yes’ was only the beginning of her lifelong assent to God and He continues to use her in His plan for bringing the kingdom into its fullness. I doubt she knew and understood at the cross how she would live out her role as Mother for her eternity. What human could conceive of such a plan? She simply said Yes to her Lord in every moment. Her apparitions at Fatima, Lourdes, Medjugorge, and countless other places are evidence of her ongoing ‘Yes.’ Her message is constant and simple, Pray, Pray, Pray. Return to Jesus. She has much to teach us and we can learn as she did by allowing our life, step by step, to be lived for doing God’s will. It is God’s grace that will make something great from whatever humble offering we can make.

I completed my first consecration to Jesus through Mary this past summer using Fr. Michael Gaitley’s book, 33 days to Morning Glory. It is a beautiful journey with some of the great saints who had a devotion to our Blessed Mother and have so much revealed wisdom to share with us. If you haven’t made your consecration through Mary yet, the next day to start is Easter Sunday if you already have a book or April 10, 19th or 28th. The booklet takes you through a short reading and reflection every morning for 33 days that will bless you and help you live your own Fiat more fully. For love of God, seek Him through His mother and you will find Him in new ways. I would love to pray this devotion again along with you. Leave a comment if you want to start and we can do it together!
You can grab your copy HERE for a nominal fee

Have a Blessed and Holy Easter!

Reflections From The Treadmill #8

by Karen Pullano
This is my last lenten post on suffering. Thank you for journeying along with me and I hope you have been encouraged. Stay tuned for more Wisdom from the treadmill! Is there a 5k in my near future perhaps?
CrossTreadmill
Pruning

After six weeks of running on the treadmill it seems that I have a knee ‘issue.’ I’m not sure if it’s officially an injury, but what started as screaming rebellion from many of my joints has now settled into nagging, persistent pain and swelling solely in my right knee. I am trying to get in better shape here, not worse, so it is a little disappointing to have to baby it all the time, but strangely, I am ok with it. As annoying as it is, I feel like it was a necessary price to pay to get myself moving. I wasn’t moving otherwise, so I clearly needed to take drastic measures. I can live with the knee pain if it means far more important gains.

I think God allows and uses our trials and sufferings to prune us if we allow Him to. What feels like a casualty or loss is often necessary in order for new growth to happen. Our sufferings turn us more fully to our need for Him, which is always a far greater good than anything we can suffer here. I don’t exactly like this physical change with my knee but I do like the newfound stamina, muscle tone, and endurance I have gained. Spiritually, we can Trust the Lord to prune us in such a way that we are thankful for the new creations we can and will become, but it takes obedience and acceptance first. If we continue to cry over what we think we have lost, we are in danger of missing the fruit God is trying to grow in us.

I look to my own life, at the loss of my 4 year-old son, and I could question all day long why God let that happen. I remember vividly one particular moment during his illness. I was hiding in my bathroom for some private crying time and, looking back, I can clearly see that I had no acceptance in my heart whatsoever. I was desperately begging God to just let Mikey live and then I would change myself and my life in a million awesome ways. A week or so later, when we got some hopeful news, the first thought that popped into my head was, “Thank God, let’s get back to our regular life.” I hadn’t actually accepted that changes were necessary and good, rather I was focused solely on the outcome I desired. I guess if that weren’t human nature, we would never need pruning. It is only the result of our tremendous freedom and the choices we have made throughout human history that we experience suffering. It is never God’s will. On the contrary, I know the heart of Jesus was broken right along with mine when my son died. Jesus wept with me. His Mother was my constant companion. They both taught me what they knew from experience. All things are being made new.

He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. (John 15:2)
Continue reading

Holy Week Reflection from the Treadmill

CrossTreadmill

I love Holy Week. Our Faith life is so rich and full and the sense of anticipation is great. You may have noticed by now that I have a Love/Hate relationship with my treadmill that is echoed this week as well as in all of my sufferings. It seems fitting that, despite the expectation of Joy, we remember the greatest suffering of the Passion and death of our Lord, and share in that by our sacrifice. Thankfully, the moments of intense discomfort on the treadmill have grown fewer and there are actually moments that the work I am doing isn’t my foremost thought. I am reminded that we are not supposed to suffer always. There are seasons for every purpose under Heaven.

In my own sufferings, my cross is one that will never be gone from my shoulders, and yet, there are moments when I am not ‘suffering’ at all. There are plenty of times in my day-to-day life that I am not thinking of my sorrows or feeling their weight. There are many moments that my inner Joy is more present and I am filled with a sense of Hope. I know there are many reasons for that, not the least of which is tremendous grace, but there is room for both to coexist. They need to coexist. The one is made more powerful by the presence of the other.

The mysteries of the rosary speak to this constant dichotomy of suffering and Joy. Out of twenty mysteries surrounding the Life of our Lord and our Lady, only five of them are sorrowful. We only meditate on them two days out of seven (Tuesdays and Fridays). The church, in her wisdom, sets aside time each year to dig into suffering, but only six weeks out of fifty-two. How appropriate for me that the timing of my toughest dates lead in and coincide with this time in the church. For those who haven’t known suffering of their own yet, meditating on the sorrows of Jesus and Mary can transform us. How can we have hope in Resurrection if we don’t first know death?

I don’t only suffer, but I can speak to it well for having spent some time there; I have really gotten to know death. By Easter Sunday, I will be ready to shake the dust from my feet, put suffering in its place for a while, and rejoice with the greatest Joy that (sometimes here, and always for eternity) I get to know the reprieve from “having suffered.” I will rejoice whole-heartedly in the next season of Resurrection, which fills my soul with untold freedom and joy!

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: A time to give birth and a time to die; A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted. A time to kill and a time to heal; A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to weep and a time to laugh; A time to mourn and a time to dance.…” (Ecc 3:1-4)

Reflections From The Treadmill #7

By Karen Pullano

To read from the beginning of the series click HERE

CrossTreadmill

 

The Finish Line

As you well know by now, if you have been reading along with this series, I often limp across the finish line. I set a goal ahead of time and push myself to persevere and endure and although I always finish, it’s not always pretty. Lately though, I’ve been having a new experience. As I approach that last quarter mile, I don’t feel as though possible death is imminent. In fact, I feel pretty good and to prove it, I bump my speed up and sprint to the end! That looming finish line is just too tempting and it gives me a renewed burst of energy. All my discomforts are forgotten, knowing there will be time to catch my breath really soon, after I finish like a champ. I can hear the crowds already going wild!

In our trials and sufferings, it is important to focus on the goal, even as we are figuring out how to take the next step in front of us. Life here really is a series of deaths and resurrections as we live in this continuum of time and change. Crossing that finish line is like resurrection. For some, there will be an end to a suffering or trial right here on Earth; for others, there will be no true relief until Heaven. In either case, the finish line is divine Union with God, and our sufferings can bring us ever closer to that. Certainly, there is a time to just put one foot in front of the other in obedience, steady as she goes, and let the pain do a work in us. To quote my favorite line from Finding Nemo, in my best sing-song voice, “just keep swimming, just keep swimming.” We may not see it in the day-to-day struggle, but we are growing stronger and gaining endurance. We are learning our own strength. Then comes the time to pick our heads up, remember what we are about, and dig it out to the big finish with energy, strength, and joy. Resurrection awaits and all of Heaven is cheering wildly.

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.” (1 Cor 9:24-25)

Be sure to Follow this blog via email for all the latest updates!

Reflections from the Treadmill #6

To read from the beginning of the series click HERE.

Preparation

CrossTreadmill

By Karen Pullano

As it happened, I started doing a 21-day gut cleanse diet when I was fairly new to the treadmill. (We should definitely have a riveting discussion of gut flora and healthy bacteria some other time. 😉 ) Basically, the diet consists of vegetables and a little meat and more vegetables; little to no grains at all. I was feeling pretty good, if slightly hungry, but didn’t think much of it as I got on my treadmill about five days into the cleanse.
I knew the minute I started running that I would never make it to the end. I felt weak in my bones. I wasn’t properly fueled and, grace notwithstanding, my simple human body couldn’t do it. Even though I was rested, dressed in comfortable running clothes, and outfitted with top of the line running sneakers, I was weak and exhausted from the start because I had nothing in the tank to draw strength from. I was prepared in many ways, just not the most important way.

I think there is truly only one way you can prepare yourself for suffering. Taking the time and making the effort to grow in relationship with God now, will give you His strength to draw on in times of crisis (not to mention the awesomeness of simply being in a relationship with God!). I don’t want to mislead you into thinking that Loving God will keep you from suffering. To the contrary, suffering is suffering and it hurts, just like running will still hurt no matter how well prepared I am. When trials come, the temptation will be to seek any manner of worldly comforts and distractions, but those things will never truly walk you through the suffering step by step. In fact, they will more likely deceive you and keep you from seeing clearly.  A relationship with God will set you up for success ahead of time.

Building any relationship takes an investment of yourself.
Draw near to the Lord, getting to know Him and His Word. Let yourself be truly and deeply loved by Him in the sacraments. See and understand your deep need for Him and seek Him. Storms must come in this fallen world, but recognizing your deep need for God is the beginning of Wisdom. Together you will weather whatever comes your way.

The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek the LORD will praise him– may your hearts live forever! (ps 22:26)

Be sure to click the ‘follow’ button on the right hand side of the blog to receive new posts via email.