Our Lady of Lourdes

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Last weekend I was meant to be in Seville competing in my first Olympic triathlon. Although I hadn’t been very well on and off for a while I was determined to try and train through it all and complete it! It was clear that someone had a different plan for me. After a couple of good training sessions two and a half weeks before the event I fell ill again and spent another 4 days in hospital. This time I felt that the training had something to do it with it. So naturally, I pulled out. For a while now my friend had been joking that she was going to take me to Lourdes and get my dunked into some holy water to heal me! In the lead up to all of this my friend and I had been receiving little messages from Our Amigo. Everything was pointing at us to go to Lourdes. The day before I was admitted to hospital I bumped into her parents who happened to have a planned pilgrimage trip with a group from Gibraltar the same weekend of the event, they told me that we should join them. After then being release from hospital the week later, it was clear that we needed to go to Lourdes. So just like that we signed up!

I arrived in Lourdes with an open heart ready to experience everything. I really didn’t expect to get so much out of it. The day usually started with a private mass in one of the little chapels. Although sometimes a little early, this was my favourite way to start the day.

When we arrived, what really caught my attention was the other pilgrims. Massive crowds surrounded the Grotto and just seeing so many people gathering at this sacred site, the hundreds of people queuing up at the baths, the thousands of people doing the processions, all the different spoken languages, it all made my heart pound stronger! I am amazed at the ways the Lord works to draw us, the children of God together. Lourdes allows one to truly see Jesus in the faces of all the people around them.

Our plan was to go to the baths three times. It turned out I only needed to go twice. The first time we went in we were really lucky not to get too much queue. We waited on the benches provided and we were into the changing rooms fairly quickly. At first I felt very nervous. I had no idea what to expect and it all felt a little intimidating. There were three women there to help me so I followed their instructions and said my petition to Our Lady. I then made the sign of the cross, they walked me down the bath, sat me down quickly and stood me back up again. The water was very cold and it absolutely took my breath away but I loved it. Before I knew it I was dry and popping my clothes on again and thinking about the next day to do it all again.

The next day we planned to go after lunch and when we arrived there was already a massive queue. We waited it out and even queuing up was a beautiful experience. There were different priests doing talks and prayers. There was music and singing. But the best part of the wait was watching people going in and out. Their faces were glowing when they came out, there were tears of sadness and happiness. All I could feel was an overwhelming feeling of faith and peace.

We were called in separately this time so I didn’t have the comfort of having my friend with me. I started feeling nervous again but was praying the rosary to try and calm down a bit – it worked. It was my turn to go in and I followed the instructions as before. This time though, after I had sat down in the bath I asked them if I could have some water poured on my head. The women poured some out of a jug into my hands so I could put directly onto my head. Then they asked me if I was sick. I’ve never been asked this question in this way before and I really struggled to say yes. I was admitting to complete strangers that I was sick. Something I would almost always lie about. It was hard. Once they knew that I wasn’t well it all changed in there. They bent me forward and started pouring the water all over my head whilst praying. They then stood me up and placed my hands on the statue of Mary at the end of the bath and carried on praying with me whilst embracing me. They gently turned me around and walked me back up the steps of the bath. That’s when one of the women put the cloak back on me, placed both her hands on my face kissed my forehead and made the sign of the cross. She kept her hands on my face, looked into my eyes and said in broken English “You’ll be OK”. It was a very emotional and powerful experience. Once we left the baths I knew that I didn’t need to go back the next day. Something happened in there that was so special I will never be able to describe it properly and I will never forget that moment. It will forever be an experience that will stay in my heart.

The rest of the day was a build up of emotions that were just waiting to burst out! I knew the second I had some quiet time it was all going to come out. That evening we went to the Grotto and prayed the rosary. This is where the tears started to flow… Every time I looked at Mary I would re-live the bath experience and see the women holding my face telling me I’ll be OK. Every time I would close my eyes I’d see the women again embracing me. Even now when I close my eyes I see her. I know this was a direct message from Our Lady, I can feel it in my heart.

On our last night, before the procession we headed down to the Grotto. I was still full of emotion from the day before but I felt a sense of peace that I had never felt before. I closed my eyes and felt my heart go to heaven. I handed it straight over to Jesus and Mary. My whole heart, body and soul is in their hands now. It is the most incredible feeling ever.

We experienced beautiful processions, private masses, international mass, confession, the baths, the stations of the cross, tours and many other things. But what I experienced the most was realising the love I have for Mary. The love and intimacy that I have now for our Blessed Mother is brand new.

I was also incredibly lucky to be able to share such an incredible experience with my best friend. Without her the trip wouldn’t have been the same. I am forever grateful for the day that the Lord decided it was time for us to cross paths and go on this journey together…Stuck at the hip!

I was sad to be leaving this beautiful place, but I know that the lessons I learnt in Lourdes will always be a part of me no matter where I am. People go to Lourdes for spiritual or physical healing. I was going for the experience and hopefully to feel a little better after it. I can certainly say that I have come back a different person and still feel like I’m floating on cloud 9!

I look forward to my future visit as I have no doubt that I will return one day. In the mean time, I can close my eyes and be back at the Grotto with Mary.

My Hope

Father,

When I’m lost in the darkness you’re my Light.

When I’m tired and in pain you’re my Strength.

When the days and nights feel lonely you’re my Friend.

When I need a cuddle you send one of your Angels.

When I need guidance you’re my Abba.

When I start losing hope you give me Faith.

You’re my Savior, My Love, My Hope.

Another Angel

Yesterday our beloved Tita Victoria passed away. She had been poorly for a long time now and had been suffering but at the same time she still had a lot of life left in her.

Today at her funeral, you could see how much love everyone had for her. The youngest sibling out of 9, needless to say there was a lot of family there. The mass was really emotional but at the same time beautiful. At the end, the priest asked us all to pray for her to make her way into the Kingdom of Heaven to be with our Father and live forever in peace.

So I knew that today at adoration this was one of the things I was going to talk to you about.

A wonderful and very clear image came to me of you embracing her and then my abuela holding her younger sister so tightly. Everyone was so happy. No-one was sick or sad. The image was so clear I’d say it was like a vivid dream.

Thank you for sharing that little glimpse of heaven to me.

On the drive home I had this song stuck in my head….

There will be another angel
Around the throne tonight
Your love lives on inside of me,
And I will hold on tight
It’s not my place to question,
Only God knows why
I’m just jealous of the angels
Around the throne tonight
Singin’ hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
I’m just jealous of the angels
Around the throne tonight

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Our Hearts Beating as One

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I’ve had a great few days feeling not only happy but also healthy. It’s made a lovely change since the bad run! I know I have you to be thankful for this. Yesterday was a pretty standard day at work, following by a few nice hours at home, a trip to the cinema with my sister and then something wonderful happened.

After the film I was eager to read your word at bedtime. I lay down peacefully and got stuck into the book of John. As I was replying to a message I rested my bible on my chest and placed my hand on top of it. I felt my heart racing im my chest and much to my amazement I could feel my heart beating through the actual bible! The feeling was so amazing I struggle to describe it. It was if our hearts were beating as one.

I knew it was you, there was no doubt about it. I moved it off my chest and place my hand on my heart and I couldn’t feel the same pounding as before. I placed the bible back and there you were again. I welled up knowing you were there in my heart with me.

Whenever we read the Bible, something miraculous happens. You are directly speaking to us. Well last night not only did you just speak to me but I physically felt you. It was magical, emotional and the most wonderful feeling I have ever felt.

The reading that stood out on that page…

John 4:13

Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.

The Day I Realised You Were Truly There

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Today has been a day of realisation. What started off as a good day, which are few and far beyond at the moment, quickly turned into a bad day – you know the type, the dark ones.

I’ve realised that as much as I don’t want it to be real, my body is changing. A few good days made me think that maybe it had all gone away, that maybe it was just a ‘bad patch’, a bad dream and I was hoping and praying to you that this was true. The fact is, it isn’t true. Those good days have made me remember what it was like to not feel pain, to not feel fear and the horrid uncertainty that lies around all of this.

It certainly came down hard on me and it made me feel so angry. Angry with my body – for not doing as it should do. Angry with you – for making me go through this. I feel like I’m mourning my old self and at the same time need to learn how to be this new person. I don’t like this new person, she’s weak and vulnerable. I need to be stronger, to be able to look after my family without fear that something will happen to me.
All these feelings had been building up throughout the day and I knew the second I sat down at the chapel I was going to lay it all on you. And that’s exactly what I did. I couldn’t hold back the tears, the blame, the guilt, the sadness and desperation.

And what did you do? The moment I thought that I couldn’t do this anymore. That it wasn’t helping me sitting there crying to you and that I should just head home; You literally came to me and held me. I felt paralysed in your presence. I couldn’t move, all I could think of was that you were there with me and that I couldn’t leave just yet, we had unfinished business. I still had anger in my heart which I had to let go. Feeling you there with me I knew straight away that I wasn’t alone on this journey, that you are suffering with me, that you are carrying me when I feel like I can’t go on and that you will give me all the strength I need to get through this.

Today I realised that you were truly there. Thank you for giving me the extra help I needed to see the light when I was lost in the darkness.

John 14:27

Peace I leave with you; peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

8/3/2018

Where my Journey Began

I was born in London to an English father and Spanish mother. Raised in the UK and have now been living in Spain for 10 years. I was Baptised, did my Holy Communion and my Confirmation. I attended Catholic schools and have always considered myself a Christian. But what did that really mean to me? Did I believe in God? Of course I did! Did I ever pray? No not really. Did I ever go to Church? Only for Christenings, Weddings and Funerals.

Then everything changed for me one day last year. I’ve been happily married for 5 years and lucky enough to be Mummy of two beautiful children. After a long exhausting day at work followed by the chaos at home I was putting my little boy to bed. Laying next to him with my hand on his heart, he was already fast asleep. Out of nowhere I started to pray. I thanked God for giving us such a wonderful blessing and asked him to always watch over him and keep him safe. Suddenly he woke up and said ‘Mummy, you’re the best Mummy in the world and I love you so much!’ and then passed out again. I felt something in my heart that I had never felt before – like it was about to explode. It was such an intense feeling I was completely overcome with emotion. This was the moment I opened the door and let God into my heart. From that moment on it all escalated very quickly. The more I prayed, the more I felt that amazing feeling of love and peace. I was hooked! For the last year, I’ve been trying to take everything in. I go to mass every Sunday and read a lot to keep learning.

I recently felt a tug at my heart to start writing about all the wonderful experiences I was having. At first it was just for me, so that I would never forget the special moments (I have a terrible memory). But then I realised that he wants me to share my faith and stories. So I’m going to go completely out of my comfort zone and go for it.

If by sharing my stories and experiences I can inspire or help just one person then I am happy with that. So if you come across this blog and are feeling lost, lonely or just need someone to talk to then please drop me an email.

Much Love

Stephanie X