The Optimism of Joseph's House

Optimism
Christian optimism is not a sugary optimism, nor is it a mere human confidence that everything will turn out all right. It is an optimism that sinks its roots into an awareness of our freedom, and the sure knowledge of the power of grace. It is an optimism that leads us to make demands on ourselves, to struggle to respond at every moment to God’s call.
— St. Josemaria Escriva

Sometimes it’s difficult to write these weekly updates. The problems and traumas our moms have faced and still face are so very enormous and have been so destructive to their minds, hearts, bodies and spirits, as staff we all could easily drown in sorrow. Many times, there seems to be no answer to the dilemmas and complications they bring to us because we believed such atrocities only existed in works of fiction. Unfortunately, we have come to understand evil does exist and many of those coming to us have been witness to it for as long as they can remember. And so, as our hearts break, our resolve grows and we find new ways to reunite moms with their children. We find new ways to work with other programs to support these women and help them heal their fractured lives. We find new ways to pray and call on Jesus, Mary and Joseph for the patience, strength and perseverance to assist these broken souls even though we are understaffed and overwhelmed and at times we may look and feel like the picture below.

Grumpy Seraphina

And then, all of a sudden, the consolations begin to appear, like little drops of cooling rain to soothe fried brains and frazzled nerves. Kisses from Jesus in the evening sky letting us know He is with us even in our uncertainty. Confirmation from people in far off states that our work is impressive to them and something they want to emulate, gleeful children delighting in one another as they play and make smores, and finally, loving comments of thanks and praise from the very moms we strive to serve letting us know, “Joseph’s House is home.”

Smores

Yes, three statements were made to different staff members who after a most troublesome and wearisome week, could have easily believed their recent work was totally ineffective. However, these most encouraging and heartening comments from our residents helped all understand no matter how much we might doubt our effectiveness, there is something special about Joseph’s House and the blessings it provides.

One mom from another part of the state let us know Syracuse will be her new permanent home because of her experience at Joseph’s House. Another resident who just returned after a few days away said, “I’m so happy to be back home, Joseph’s House is my home. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to come back home.”  A third mom who recently joined us, when asked what was the best thing she had done for herself this week answered, “I came here (to Joseph’s House) to live.”

And so once again my friends, Our Lord consoles our hearts and soothes our minds. Consoles us through the very people He entrusted to our care and asked us to console. His most vulnerable children, who have never known a measure of true love or compassion in their own lives and yet still have the courage to say yes to life for their children. The moms who have the courage to take on motherhood all alone and to come to live in community, so they might learn to love their children in ways they were never loved themselves.

These are just a few of the reasons why many days we say yes to moms and children others say no to. We say yes to moms in dire situations even though those situations are more than we might be able to immediately handle. We say yes to them because they are pregnant or have small children, are homeless and have nowhere to go. We say yes to them because Jesus Christ has continued to say an unequivocal yes for the past five years to this mission of life and love, letting us know He will lead us through the blind spots we encounter until we find answers to the dilemmas these young women bring our way.

These truths are the manifestation of our faith, the basis of our hope and the backbone of our most obstinate optimism because we have come to understand the demands of Our Lord for this, His mission. For this reason, we will continue the struggle to respond at every moment to God's call, saying yes as often as we are able for the Glory of His Kingdom and the safe-keeping of His children. A tall order for sure but most certainly an order filled with the grace and the blessings of Our Father in Heaven. God Bless you my friends.

Love & Prayers,

Kitty

Moving Up, Moving Out & Moving Forward

Searphina graduation.jpg

Happy Summer My Friends,

Hope you all had a restful and enjoyable 4th of July and are adjusting to the blessings of our extended warm, dry weather. As temperatures rise and the sun shines bright it’s the time of year we celebrate accomplishments gained through long roads traveled culminating with another grade level completed, as well as graduations from pre-k to post grads. The excitement of summits achieved and the anticipation of new horizons ahead envelope hearts with zeal for hope-filled new beginnings, while relishing thoughts of lazy summer days and a break from structured routines.

It is very much the same at Joseph’s House where in the past few weeks many of our little ones have graduated pre-k and kindergarten and are preparing for summer programs, new day cares, and more school at new grade levels in the fall. They are getting older, getting smarter and moving up in the world in new and exciting ways. Change is in the air too for some of our moms who have been with us for long periods of time and are preparing to move out on their own and transition to independence with their children. And finally, there are infants moving forward who have been in utero for nine months and have decided it’s time to make an entrance into their new, exhilarating outside world.

Graduation Noah

All this moving, up, out and forward can seem especially perilous to many moms calling us home because the complexities of the problems that have occurred in their lives are so very twisted and so very dark. We could never have foreseen five years ago when we opened our doors the turbulence, devastation and depravity of some of the traumas suffered by these young women. We could have never anticipated the destruction was multigenerational and included immediate and far extended family. It is no wonder they struggle with anxiety, depression and mental health problems making it most difficult for them to untangle 20 years of mistreatment in the 2 years they have with us.

This is one of the many reasons we at Joseph’s House are called to go further out on a limb for our moms and kids than anyone ever has before. We are called many days to walk a tightrope, so these young women might see evidence of how true compassion and the love of Christ are forged together. As we extend ourselves in unexpected ways and in new directions, we make this love and compassion evident, not only to them, but to those to whom we advocate on their behalf, as well as to those who have since cast them away.

We had many examples of all of us teetering on limbs and walking on tightropes with The Monica Miracles, written about last week. This week there were more crisis to be addressed and more high wire acts completed as we fought for a mom to get healthcare needed for years due to unrelenting abuse suffered since early childhood. This situation has been brewing throughout this young mom’s life, has come to a head and is finally being addressed due to the unrelenting persistence, assistance and compassion of all of our staff, most especially our Case Manager Rebecca. This young woman is now in a safe place getting the extended care she has required for years because of Joseph’s House. When she has addressed her problems and is in a better state of mental health, she knows she has a safe home and loving family to return to who will give her all the support she needs to become a strong, independent survivor and wonderful parent to her children as we continue helping her move forward in her life.

We have recently been confronted with another situation we never anticipated five years ago, which is helping moms gain custody of their children. However, hindsight being 20/20, we are able to now see how Our Lord has led us into these situations slowly and carefully. We are able to see clearly how He has been waiting for us to be prepared for them and how He has been instilling within us courage and confidence through past experiences to handle the complications they entail.

You see Jesus always prepares us, although we may be unaware until we find ourselves in the midst of a situation that would once have caused a panic attack, but is now handled calmly with gravitas and discernment. These are situations where we encounter people who in the past would have intimidated us. People we know are more educated than we are and have vast experience in their respective fields while we have none.  At these times we remind ourselves of our total surrender to God’s Holy Will as we find ourselves serving as an arbitrator, making split second decisions, and fighting battles in legalese for which we have no real comprehension. And yet somehow by the Grace of God, words of conviction are spoken from the unschooled, the court battle is won and the underdog prevails. The next thing you know we are at the hospital whisking away a jubilant mom’s newborn child taking her HOME, to the place that will forever be her first home, our home at Joseph’s House.

Ava

While that conflict was taking place, there was another happening 120 miles away right here in Syracuse where a real lawyer, our Executive Director Bronson, continued a plea for sole custody for another mom for her children. This situation has been ongoing since March and once again, another hard-fought battle was won, another great result achieved because of the courage and perseverance of Bronson and a mission built on the foundation of forgiveness and compassion that is always seeking the way that is Jesus Christ.

I can honestly say we are all exhausted by the weeks’ events, almost to the point of delirium, but so filled with awe that we are invigorated with hope and wonder. This hope and wonder are another gift that comes in being filled with the Holy Spirit as it gives us the motivation to keep moving up in reliance towards Jesus, moving out to extend our comfort zones according to His Will and moving forward towards more victories for His most precious children in unforeseen and incredible ways. What an adventure it is and what an adventure it will continue to be as we step out daily in faith for our moms, for their children and for Our Father in Heaven. We have positions available if you would like to be a part of the hope and wonder that is the Joseph’s House mission, a mission moving up, moving out and moving forward! God Bless you my friends.

Love & Prayers,

Kitty

The Monica Miracles

IMG_9712.jpg
I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
— John 15:5

The above quote from John is my favorite and it is the quote that was a catalyst for me as we worked to build Joseph’s House. Our hope and prayer at Joseph’s House is to always be fruitful branches on the Vine that is Our Lord Jesus Christ. Some days it’s easier to see the fruit than others and in the past few months we seem to have a bumper crop made up of a series of miracles we never saw coming our way.

Since our fifth anniversary celebration on March 19th of this year the miracles have included three more newborn babies making us a family with 55 newborn children who will forever call Joseph’s House their first home. The newborn miracles are what one might expect at a home like ours, however recently we have been gifted with a series of unexpected and somewhat phenomenal happenings we will refer to as The Monica Miracles.

Monica, born and raised in Ghana, Africa, came to us on March 26th of this year through a referral from our friends, the Sisters of Life. She went to the Sisters because she was a single mom expecting her second child, she was losing her apartment and she was all alone. Wanting to leave the NYC area, Joseph’s House seemed a good fit for her. We had taken in 3 new moms a few days prior to her arrival, so Monica’s intake was delayed a bit. On the day she was to meet with our Case Manager Rebecca, Monica was found unresponsive on her bedroom floor, her 13-month-old sitting in his crib looking confused and afraid. An ambulance was called and Monica, along with our CM Rebecca left for the Hospital.

The two amazing nurses who worked to save Monica’s life when she was in most critical condition. The visited Joseph’s House and brough in donations collected from their hospital unit for Mother’s Day.

The two amazing nurses who worked to save Monica’s life when she was in most critical condition. The visited Joseph’s House and brough in donations collected from their hospital unit for Mother’s Day.

The prognosis was not good. Monica had suffered an extreme episode of eclampsia. Doctors were able to safely deliver her little boy by c-section and were simply amazed he was born entirely healthy. Soon after delivering her child Monica went into cardiac arrest five times. Doctors and staff did chest compressions on her for five hours. She lost copious amounts of blood and was placed on a massive tranfusion protocol; the hospital nearly ran out of their supply of her blood type due to the number of transfusions. Monica was transferred to another near by hospital, a Level One Trauma Center. Doctors and nurses both let Rebecca and Bronson know they had never seen trauma like this. They gave little hope for her survival.

In the first week we constantly anticipated bad news. Bronson & Rebecca found themselves in the position of being Monica’s advocates and in charge of making her medical decisions as the few family members she had in the States were unknown . Rebecca and Bronson rarely left her side and conducted Joseph’s House business from ICU at the hospital for 19 days. Monica was showing few signs of responsiveness during these days. The complications were many, no one was sure how she was surviving but they remained hopeful. Over the next 7 weeks as she struggled to gain consciousness, many life-threatening complications occurred from blood clots, to infections and emergency surgeries to stop internal bleeding. Doctors were not sure she would recover and if she did, there was the possibility of longterm damage.

Back at Joseph’s House our other residents were scared, they were tearful and overcome with emotion thinking someone they considered a new friend may not survive and so we prayed with them. We encouraged them to pray on their own. We shared with them and with all our staff and prayer warriors, the Divine Mercy Chaplet, a prayer we learned was a favorite of Monica’s and her family in Ghana. Many who had never heard of this prayer of God’s unfathomable mercy began reciting it and sending it on to others so they might pray for a miracle for this young mother and her children. Soon people all over Syracuse, in NYC and Long Island, down in Texas and in Kenya and Ghana were praying for Monica and the baby steps needed for her recovery began to take hold. The Divine Mercy image was displayed in Monica’s room the very first week she arrived in the hospital. The Divine Mercy Chaplet sung by Trish Short was played for Monica and although we were unsure she could hear at all, she responded to this prayer with tears even while in her coma. Her rosary was wrapped around her fingers and specific prayers were said asking the Blessed Mother to help Monica move her hands. The prayers were answered as her fingers regained movement & dexterity.

The doctors and nurses were amazed at the progress she was beginning to make, they were overcome with the dedication of our Joseph House staff most especially Rebecca and Bronson who were on the short list of visitors allowed to see Monica. They were also overtaken with the faith they observed from our staff members and some of them were moved to include the Divine Mercy Chaplet in their own prayers as well. The moms at the house began to realize God was hearing their prayers and their prayers were helping Monica to improve, to heal. Seeds of faith were being planted and sowed in our home and in far off places because of the tragedy suffered by this beautiful young mother. Through this tragedy and suffering God rained down mercy, and blessings abounded for Monica and for all those she touched. We could all see clearly Our Lord’s miraculous work through the hands of the doctors and nurses and in the transformations in Monica’s recovery. Most importantly the transforming power of prayer was made clearly evident to many of our residents and acquaintances near and far.

After 56 days, Monica returned to Joseph’s House on May 28th and was soon reunited with her children. She is still recovering and with the love and support of our staff, the other moms, volunteers and everyone’s prayers, she continues to improve becoming stronger every day.

As if all of these miracles of healing and the spreading of prayer were not enough, yesterday we learned of more miracles. It turns out Monica has an uncle in Ghana who is a priest. His name is Father Jacob and he traveled here to visit Monica and do some other priestly works. As He prepared to leave Ghana, he remembered a priest he had gone to seminary with in Ghana 33 years ago. He knew his friend was somewhere in the US but had no idea where. Imagine his surprise when he was reunited with his old friend, Msgr. Francis who just happened to be right here in Syracuse, New York at St. Rose of Lima Church. As if this GODincidence was not enough, Father Jacob also realized a Sister he knew 20 years ago was also here in Syracuse and so they all visited at Joseph’s House Friday evening, old friends brought together through a young mother’s tragedy, Our Lord’s intervention and Joseph’s House.

Mass.JPG

Saturday morning Father Jacob gifted us with Holy Mass at Joseph’s House. It was attended by fifteen of the prayer warriors responsible for much of Monica’s healing. It was an incredible morning where the GODincidences of Monica’s journey became abundantly apparent to all. Father Jacob led me to understand through his words of wisdom; Joseph’s House is a branch bearing fruit on the Vine that is Jesus Christ. He made us understand without Joseph’s House, Monica and her two children may not have survived. He explained that in Ghana they don’t have hospitals to deal with the complications she experienced and if she had been in NYC in her apartment, no one would have found her and her 13-month-old because she was so very alone. He added that Joseph’s House is the vehicle Our Lord used to reunite old friends from Ghana in Syracuse NY, as well as family members unseen for seven years who flew in from Chicago this weekend to visit him, Monica and the children.

Monica family.jpg

There are more Monica Miracles to report in car loads of donations received from the Crouse Hospital nursing staff and new relationships built because so many new people have come to learn about our work. Bronson was told by doctors and nurses from the hospitals they have never witnessed an agency so dedicated and concerned for a client. This comment is testimony to Bronson and Rebecca who spent endless hours at Monica’s bedside to be sure she had “family” she could count on, to be sure she understood they would be God’s presence for her during all her difficulties.

I truly believe there are more Monica Miracles being prepared by Our Father in Heaven for Monica, her children and family and for Joseph’s House. We will be sure to keep you updated on all of them as they appear and until then we will work hard to remain in Christ as He remains in us so we might bear much fruit for Him and His Kingdom. God Bless you my friends.

Love & Prayers,

Kitty

Counting the Baby Steps

Baby Steps

The success of the moms at Joseph’s House depends upon accepting a series of changes to their lives. The most important changes to begin the journey of independence and success is a young woman’s willingness to work hard, follow the rules and give up habits that have held her back in the past. Although this may sound impossible for many, we have seen first-hand it is possible with the correct amount of maturity, resilience and surrender. We have had the blessing of witnessing to many stubborn yet courageous women as they come to understand giving up their freedom in some small ways means gaining their freedom in bigger ones. This seems to happen most often when all are inclined and prepared to work in implements, when all are willing to take baby steps.

Baby steps are the stepping stones for all of us to change our not so endearing proclivities and improve our lives. Whether it is to regain our health, to improve our job skills, attain a diploma, grow in our faith or begin a mission, everything starts in increments linked together by momentum, sometimes building slowly and methodically and other times building very quickly. There is often times a dilemma that occurs as the increments and baby steps take us down a path where we try to ascertain if what we are attempting to achieve is founded in God, backed up by need, and is logical in an infinite number of ways.

We have learned with Joseph’s House often times the paths to success defy logic, not only for our moms but for the growth of our ministry. For the moms, these paths are created in unexpected ways, at times through a single conversation, hastening their resolve to succeed thereby pushing them uphill from a long-standing plateau. For our mission, the unexpected introduction of a person met after a Baby Bottle Drive or through a tour, may be the catalyst for growth simply because Our Lord has been leading our paths to intersect in small increments and by baby steps for several months, or perhaps even several years. Many such people have appeared time and time again at Joseph’s House and through their gifts have been the basis for moms to find a road to success leading them to lives of independence. These same people are also often the manifestation of answered prayers giving us opportunities to grow our mission and to move forward following the lead of Jesus.

Circumstances like those mentioned above occur because God has been working in the lives of all of us and all who come to us in increments and baby steps since before He formed us in our mothers’ wombs. He has been opening the doors of our hearts, widening the parameters of our minds and expanding the depth of love in our souls throughout our entire lives so many lost children might find a way to Him because of the good works He has planned. He has been lining things up, getting ducks in a row and bringing the pieces of an intricate puzzle together sometimes slowly and other times quickly, to create a community of love, respect and service to those most in need.

My hope and prayer for all of you is to recognize the working of God through the increments and baby steps in your own lives. As you reflect on all the coincidences leading you to the place you now reside, you will see in hindsight how Our Lord works straight with crooked lines. You will see where you veered off His intended path and come to understand how He put you back on course despite some poor decisions. You will see clearly the difference between the ease of following God’s plan for life and the turbulence when insisting upon following your own. You will be able to undeniably embrace the belief that giving up your personal freedom in small ways results in gaining God’s freedom in bigger and better ways. As the twists and turns of all this contemplation become clear, seeds of gratitude will be scattered and take root deep within you and you will come to comprehend Our Lord’s purpose in giving us rules to follow, bumpy roads to travel, as well as the consummate love He has for each and every one of you. Enjoy the memories my friends, take stock of the increments, count the baby steps and be grateful! God Bless you always.

Love & Prayers,

Kitty

Everything is Better with God

Our Joseph’s House Student Auxiliary at our Birdies for Babies Golf Event

Our Joseph’s House Student Auxiliary at our Birdies for Babies Golf Event

Happy Father’s Day and Trinity Sunday Everyone! What a blessing to have Father’s Day and Trinity Sunday celebrated together. The two celebrations are a heavenly match for sure, as a dad couldn’t ask for better role models than the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, along with Saint Joseph to lead him through the ups and downs of work and family. We are grateful to all of you dads who do your best to love, support and provide for your families as well as be role models for all our sons and daughters. Thank you for being there for your families, and for our communities.

It’s been an incredibly busy week for Joseph’s House once again. It kicked off on Monday in Skaneateles at our sold out 5th Annual Birdies for Babies Golf Tournament. We prayed for days for the rain to not appear but God had other plans. As the skies threatened I recalled a Mother Angelica story where she prayed for sunshine for the out-door opening of her short-wave radio facility. The clouds were low that day and the rains fell and Mother was disappointed Our Lord didn’t answer her prayers. She said to Him, “Why did we have to have rain today?” and He answered, “Angelica, I wanted to be here too.”

Although our prayers went unanswered for the weather and the heavens opened and the rain fell hard, our spirits were not dampened, because we knew God wanted to be with us in Skaneateles, just as He wanted to be with Mother Angelica in Alabama, to celebrate our fifth year of serving His most precious children.

We were truly overwhelmed by the patience, perseverance and good humor displayed by all the golfers who became more than a little bit wet and only completed three to six holes before calling it a day.  Eight foursomes completed all 18 holes of golf while everyone else hung out in the bar sharing stories and laughs with one another. With one hundred forty four golfers and nearly two hundred for dinner including our moms, kids and many staff members, Skaneateles Country Club was filled. Guests won many high-end raffle prizes, enjoyed delicious food and great company while learning more about the latest accomplishments of our moms and the miracle stories of our mission. It was a wet and chilly day but it was a day filled with the warmth of laughter, good will and compassionate hearts and an open bar for many hours! God is good my friends, and the day was better because we saw Him in the rain and felt His presence, as He blessed us with another very successful event raising substantial funds for our mission of Joseph’s House. Many thanks to all who attended and sponsored this fantastic event and thanks be to God.

The rest of this week we have been doing the daily work of serving our moms and kids. Our staff continues to amaze us with depths of their talents and commitment to our ministry. Many interviews of potential moms have taken place and the phone seems to be ringing off the hook from those in need of food, shelter, love and support. Yesterday morning I heard from a mom who was with us our first year and is now living in Connecticut. She sent photos of her son’s pre-k graduation. When I thanked her for remembering us she texted back to me, “How could I forget you. You guys gave me and my child shelter when we had nothing. You will always mean the world to me. My only regret is falling for fake love and leaving before I was ready, but God held on tight to our hands and now, all is amazing”

Those words certainly brightened my day as just before this mom texted I was having one of those moments where I wondered if our work was making a difference to anyone at all. Her message right at that time was certainly a little gift of consolation from Our Lord and confirmation that even on the tough days we are making a difference. We are planting seeds of faith in the hearts and souls of women who once had none simply by loving them as He loves us. Simply by being His hands and feet for others. Simply by speaking the truth in charity and helping all who enter our home come to believe everything is better with God, The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit. May the blessings of the Holy Trinity be yours today and everyday.

 God Bless you my friends.

 Love & Prayers,

Kitty

Immersed in the Spirit

Savanna 2.jpg

Happy Pentecost Sunday from this tiny, wistful wonder of God’s creation. This precious child is one of many now residing with us and each and every one is a wellspring of joy and amazement to us daily. We are charmed and delighted by their exuberance as they grow in the warmth of our loving home and we thank God we are able to be a safe haven for them, their moms, and all our Joseph’s House family.

Pentecost is one of my favorite Feast Days and so I wanted to share with you one of my favorite prayers directed towards the Third Person of the Trinity, The Holy Spirit. It is a prayer that easily brings tears to my eyes as I offer myself to the Paraclete, our God of Love. It is the prayer that rescues me from gloomy moods, soothes my anxiety and fills me with awe as the words deliver me to a peaceful place where the depths of the love of Jesus for His prodigal children are made apparent. It is the prayer where I recall life’s sorrows and miracles and see perfectly how Our Lord and Savior is always at the center of each and every experience. It is the prayer empowering me to unearth the magnificent omnipotence of He who is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, illuminating me with a knowledge of His endearment for all those He has chosen.

Perhaps you will consider adding these enchanting words to your daily prayers, gifting yourself to God’s Holy Will through total surrender. As you repeat the words each day strengthening your soul, grace will overtake your heart and you will come to understand how offering your entire being to the Advocate results in becoming completely fulfilled and thoroughly immersed in the Spirit .

God Bless you my friends,

Love & Prayers,

Kitty


PRAYER TO THE HOLY SPIRIT

Holy Spirit.jpg
Holy Spirit God of Love, be present to me

Accept this offering of myself I make to you.

Receive my hands, my feet, my eyes, my tongue and all my senses.

Receive my memory, my will, my understanding, my sighs,

the longing and aspirations of my heart.

Receive my every moment, my every hour and all the happenings of my life.

Holy Spirit God of Love, knit my soul to yours.

Let your love possess my whole being, my powers, my inspirations, my very life.

Let your love rule my labor and my rest, my going and my staying and move me as it pleases.

Let your love humble or exalt me, calm me or disquiet me and burn away all of my faults.

Holy Spirit God of Love, nothing will cause me fear as long as your love enfolds me, for your desire to give is greater than my desire mine to receive

Transform me into yourself, so I may no longer know myself, nor find myself except in you.

Day By Day at Joseph's House

Carmen & Mara.jpg

The month of May, Our Lady’s Month has been busy at Joseph’s House. It began with the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker on May 1st and ended on Friday with the Feast of the Visitation on May 31st. Mother’s Day, a variety of Marian Feast Days and spring arrive in May and give all a new lease on life filling the day by day activities of our home with excitement and anticipation. We have been busy with Baby Bottle Drives, grant proposals and field trips. Our home is much like yours and because we have a large family there are many astonishing moments where we all witness the hopes and dreams of our moms come together making the anticipation and excitement even greater.

This happened many times over the last few weeks. An Exodus mom who has tried to work on attaining her GED for more than 15 years finally did it. Not only did she do it, she did it the very first time she took the test and passed everything. Another one of our moms who has been working on her GED and is ready to test this summer, began her first part time job last week. This is a major stepping stone in this young women’s life she knows would have never occurred if she had stayed in an abusive relationship. The joy in her face and her new found confidence and independence come from knowing for the first time in her young life, she is appreciated and valued by others, and she has many God-given talents she never knew existed.

All the achievements occurring in our home are a result of of our loving, supportive and most dedicated staff. Our CM Rebecca, our HM Karen and our Exodus leader Sue, work around the clock to direct our moms and their children. There are late night and weekend phone calls that pop up routinely because the job descriptions of these staff members begin with, ‘you are a mom to the residents and a grandmother to their children’. We all know moms are on call constantly and it is most certainly the same at Joseph’s House. Our moms succeed and grow because our staff members are incredible moms who model success and show them how to grow with God as their center. We are forever grateful to all our staff who serve and model with the love and mercy of Jesus.

Genie and Monique.JPG

Our moms all had a “Come to Jesus” moment this week as Karen our HM took the whole crew to the amphitheater for the Franklin Graham event. Other staff and volunteers stayed at the house with the little ones so the moms could take in this once in a life time event. They were awed by the message and jubilant with the Holy Spirit and want more Jesus in their lives. To this end Karen has been leading them in the Alpha program and will be teaching more spirit filled programs in the future. This is one way to instill purpose and create plans for their young lives attuned to the will of God.  For many this event on Thursday evening feels like it was a new beginning and opportunity for them, and for us, as we work to direct them towards the ways of Jesus Christ.

Leading our children to Christ is the most imperative and most difficult task we will likely encounter. Like all of us, our moms are resistant to the call of God in their hearts and souls. They are easily sidetracked and led by the direction of a secular culture.  They are inundated everywhere they go and in everything they see and hear on social media to the falsehoods society teaches. How do we change this? How do we fight against this? How do we instill within them and within our own children the truth that life is better with God?

Francis.jpg

Unfortunately, the way to truth many times is filled with pain, potholes and hardship. Many times, we need to hit rock bottom to find the path to true freedom in Christ. Many of our moms are already there when they come to us. Others are still tumbling downhill and watching them delve into darkness before hitting ground zero is agonizing. However, God is always there to lift them up if they only know to call on Him, and Joseph’s House is there to give them a chance to learn and remember this remedy for all despair. Is it easy? No. Is it exhausting? Most definitely. Is it worth all the angst, tears and heartache we encounter in trying to teach them? Unequivocally, yes.

We have come to realize and work to make all understand, Jesus knocks at the door of their hearts and ours in sometimes almost silent, imperceptible ways. When we finally notice Him and let Him into the emptiness residing in the center of our being, He fills us with a radiant warmth that burns in us and shines through us so we may share Him with others. He is the answer to the never-ending itch we can’t reach and the desolation experienced in the wee hours when we are lost and alone. He is the end of the race we are all trying to finish and the sun rising and setting on the horizon bringing us peace. When we are finally ready to accept the legitimacy of His truth, the treasures and certitudes of life unfold before us.

So, we ask you to pray for us. To pray for our staff who give endless hours for love of our mission and for our moms who are many times at fathomless lows. Pray for them and we will pray for you, so all may perceive Christ in their lives making each one of us more serene, more blissful and more open to the inner workings of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in our lives day by day. God bless you my friends.

Love & prayers,

Kitty

Manifestations of God's Love

Mothers day.JPG

 

It’s been a busy few weeks at Joseph’s House with many Baby Bottle drives last weekend in celebration of Mother’s Day and Good Shepherd’s Sunday.

Baby bottles.JPG

What a beautiful combination of blessed days they were. Mother’s Day and Good Shepherd’s Sunday. To many, their moms are their best friends, their biggest influence, their loving guides and guiding stars. Mom’s are the first loves of their adoring children and the best shepherds in their lives. Our Lord most certainly sent us our mothers as a symbol of His love for us and many do a superb job shepherding their children according to God’s plan.

This is exactly what happens at Joseph’s House as well. We are shepherds to Our Lord’s lost sheep. To His precious, vulnerable children who may not have mothers or fathers to lead them. Our Lord leads us and we lead all the children He sends our way and In that way we emulate the love of God each day and are symbols of love to others.

Manifestations of God’s love have been made apparent throughout the readings this week in the Gospels of St. John. In the words of Christ and in the actions of Christ we witness examples of how we are to love others.. From His declaration in last Sunday’s Gospel “My sheep hear my voice; I know them and they follow me. I give them eternal life and they shall never perish”, to this week’s gospel command to love one another. “As I have loved you, so you should also love one another. This is how all will know you are my disciples.”  The readings are overflowing with the profession of the love of Our Father in Heaven for each and everyone of us.

Manifestations of love have also been apparent everyday this past week in our home and with our staff. Little notes of thanks appearing in inboxes on Mother’s Day from moms successfully living on their own began the downpour of grace. The sighting of an Exodus mom in the mall where she ran to me when she saw me from across the way. A Mother’s Day luncheon donated by our friend Marie Cullen for all the moms in our home and the volunteers who cared for the little ones giving up their Saturday morning so our moms could have “adult time” with one another. Love has been made apparent through the generosity and donations of nurses from Crouse Hospital, the large turnout and unending support of our prayer group and in our most recent mass celebration, and will be made apparent again today as students from Cazenovia High School sacrifice their Sunday afternoon in service to our mission. Each and every day at Joseph’s House prayers are answered; new relationships are built and Our Lord opens unforeseen doors of opportunity to us as we work to show Him, we love Him and His children above all things.

Gio.jpeg

We are blessed at Joseph’s House to see the presence of God and His love in all we are called to do for our moms and children. It has been undeniably perceptible since Easter, through Mother’s Day and through this weekend. What is especially uplifting to all who serve this mission and are overworked, underpaid and exhausted most of the time, is we are allowed to catch glimpses of God’s love reflected back to us from young women who never knew Him until they encountered Joseph’s House.

We observed this phenomenon on Friday as a young mom who is leaving us too soon with a newborn, hugged all the other moms and staff with tears in her eyes and let us know she still wants to be a part of our family. She will come back to visit often and wants to be included in our Exodus program. This is a young woman with much trauma in her past who is articulate, feisty and a survivor. She is willing to work hard for herself and her little one and believes she will be able to take on all the challenges before her. She has support from her mom making the transition a bit easier and the fact that her mom embraces us as well as her daughter, is another manifestation of God’s love and appreciation for the work of Joseph’s House.

53.JPEG

These encounters with young moms with little or no belief in the existence of God make us understand more clearly how seeds of a future relationship with Him are planted in the hearts and souls of all who come to call Joseph’s House home. This young mom in just two months’ time, has begun to participate in the Alpha program. At first, she was complacent and seemed prejudiced in her attitude towards any godly discussions, but through the leadership of our HM Karen and the compassion and assistance of our CM Rebecca, much has changed in the heart and soul of this young lady.

Stories like this make all realize we are able to do this inspired work because we are a mission founded to be the hands and feet of Christ for others. To be the soft shoulder of compassion and understanding when needed while instilling the positive effects of a firm, structured environment. To always be the calm in the storm of turbulence that is the life of all the young women we serve. To always be an expression of Christ’s love to everyone who comes to us leading them to a better future through God’s omnipotent direction. That is the manifestation of the love of Jesus Christ through His ministry of Joseph’s House and by His Grace we will continue to serve many lost sheep with unending love for years to come.

God Bless you my friends.

Love & Prayers,

Kitty

The Hope of Joseph's House

Elena+Sharing
As a mother delights in taking her child on her knees, in caressing & feeding him, so does our God delight in treating with love & tenderness those souls who give themselves entirely to Him, and place all their hope in His goodness & bounty.
— Saint Alphonsus Liguori

Happy Spring my friends! Happy Month of May, the month Our Most Blessed Mother, Mary. Happy Hope is another way we could begin the sharing of the most recent good news of Joseph’s House.

Our 53rd newborn baby recently came into the world, a lovely little girl whose mom is filled with anticipation and joy as she begins the journey of nurturing her most precious gift from God. Hope seems to be brimming over in our home, spilling out the doors and windows with the giggles of our 7 toddlers, the anticipation of our 8 moms and the murmurings of our 4 infants as spring fills the air, trees bud and flowers bloom.

Hope shines at Joseph’s House as a mom who has been struggling with health issues makes great strides to total healing and wellness. It is evident in the eyes of the moms in our home who have prayed for her recovery and have come to truly believe God hears and answers their prayers. Hope radiates as a young mom patiently deals with attending to her 2 little ones, taking one to school, one to daycare and getting herself off to a full-time job while taking a full course load at OCC. She is ready for finals with an average in the high 90’s and filled with the expectation she will pass her road test giving her the ability and the hope to graduate our program and live on her own. She readily admits, this would never have happened without Joseph’s House.

Hope is unmistakable in the demeanor and smile of a mom in recovery from addiction. She has a wealth of talents in the kitchen (to the delight of many!) plus musical talents with a voice to accompany the instruments. We are working on getting her a guitar so she can share with all of us her gifts from God. When I mentioned this to her she was simply elated and a conversation began about hope. Here is what she said to me:

Hope for me means the hard things that are thrown at us make us appreciate the small things in life. It’s not what we have or what we can get that others will remember; they will remember our spirit. My Higher Power, (God) is something that has carried me, not pushed me. Isn’t it ironic that is what Joseph’s House is too? It is truly a blessing to have a family here I never had before.
— JH Resident Mom

Hope is a virtue of the Holy Spirit that springs and blossoms according to one’s trust, faith and love of God. For many it comes from living through and graduating from the school of hard knocks as we realize our total ignorance and incompetence in choosing the correct path for our lives. It may be born of pain and yet somehow burgeons into a kind of euphoria as one comes to understand the wisdom in following God’s rules. Hope is born in the remembrance of God’s unending mercy for us who have caused Him much suffering through our sin. It is born as one takes inventory of the coincidences in their lives that have detoured them from a path of destruction to a path where one is led by Holy Spirit. Hope becomes apparent as we analyze and audit the miracles of our past that have bolstered us to the place where we are now blessed to reside. It transports us to a destiny where we are eternally efficacious and pragmatic as we step out in faith into the unknown future Our Heavenly Father has reserved only for us. Hope gives us the confidence to step out into the unknown, disconcerting days ahead, understanding every difficulty is an implement used by God to build our strength and fortitude. It makes problems disappear and gives one the resilience to welcome the uphill climb of daily life. Hope is sheer bliss, total ecstasy and what one looks forward to the most each morning allowing us to bound out of bed even after a sleepless night.

The more a person loves God, the more reason he has to hope in Him. This hope produces in the Saints an unutterable peace, which they preserve even in adversity, because as they love God, and know how beautiful He is to those who love Him, they place all their confidence and find all their repose in Him alone.
— Saint Alphonsus Liguori

All of you, our friends of Joseph’s House are a huge component of our hope. Through your unending support and prayers, it is made evident to all of us God hears and answers your prayers. Because of you, all of our dreams, aspirations and yearnings for the future are possible. We thank you from the depths of our hearts for all you do for us and we ask you to continue as our hope for the future is bigger than many believe possible. We can’t do what we do without you, so please storm heaven for Joseph’s House my friends, knowing we will always storm heaven for all of you. Enjoy a hope-filled spring and may God abundantly Bless You!

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
— Jeremiah 29:11

Love & Prayers,

Kitty

Saying “Yes” to Our Heavenly Father

Jesus saying “Yes” to His Heavenly Father as He accepts and receives His Cross

Jesus saying “Yes” to His Heavenly Father as He accepts and receives His Cross

It’s Holy Week and as always, the meditations on Christ’s Passion run deep. A favorite meditation of mine are the Stations of the Cross and this week especially they are at the forefront of my thoughts. They are remembered while praying the Rosary no matter what mysteries are meditated upon. They are pondered while praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet. They are recalled and contemplated when unforeseen difficulties present themselves at home, in the health of loved ones, in the hurts suffered through the words and actions of others, and in the day to day difficulties confronted by our moms at Joseph’s House.

Life is hard my friends as I’m sure you all know, but as one looks at a Crucifix the question of why do we suffer is answered as we identify Perfection thoroughly desecrated before us. How is it possible for one to comprehend the depth of His pain or the depth of despair of His Most Impeccable Mother?  How is it possible for man to perpetrate such unfathomable cruelty towards his fellow man?  How is it even conceivable one human could torture another to this extent? And yet it happened to the Faultless One, the Flawless One, as He said ‘yes’ to God the Father because He loves us so abundantly He wants nothing more than to spend eternity with us in Heaven.  Jesus said “yes” and Mary said “yes” to what They knew would be the most excruciating suffering because They conformed themselves to the Will of God the Father for love of us. Could you do what Jesus did? Could you sacrifice your child to crucifixion as Our Lady did and watch him die for the love of others?

No matter the blackness of our souls, the hardness of our hearts, or the callous indifference of our spirits, Jesus is here to die for us all over again each and every day. He dies and is resurrected each time we share in the Holy Sacrifice of the mass. We partake of His Divinity in our worthy reception of the Most Holy Eucharist. We carry His perfection within our imperfection as His Divinity pumps through our veins making our hearts skip a beat as we are immersed and flooded by His Presence within us.

This may be a way of beginning to say “yes” to Jesus and to Consecrate ourselves to Him daily through the Immaculate Heart of Our Blessed Mother. It may be the way we come to understand what God is asking of us in this life. And so if you are searching for knowledge, understanding and wisdom in saying ”yes” to God, perhaps a good place to begin is by meditating on The Passion of Jesus, meditating on The Stations of the Cross, meditating on the physical sufferings of  the wounds to His Body and meditating on His emotional suffering caused by the loneliness and despair endured as He was abandoned by His best friends, His Apostles and His disciples.

As one goes deeper into these meditations, it is nearly impossible not to understand why we imperfect ones have sufferings and difficulties in our own lives. As one’s eyes are opened and we are able to grasp the logic of the sufferings in our lives, it is easier to unite our sufferings to those of Our Lord’s and to the sufferings of His Mother, Our Blessed Mother.

This is a way of saying “yes’ to Jesus my friends, and once one begins, one may never go back because the union consummated in an alliance and one on one relationship with Jesus is the most glorious experience ever realized. It is a path to holiness and joy making one fearless in pursuit of perfection, no matter what others may think. It is the beginning of detachment from material needs and the taming of one’s passions. It is quite simply the beginning of an extraordinary journey culminating in the understanding of the depths and profound transcendence of the love of God for us, His most prodigal children. God Bless you my friends.

Wishing you a Most Blessed Holy Week and Easter.

Love & Prayers,

Kitty