Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Our Success Story Goes Up on the AMS Website!

Finally, I have gotten around to submitting our success story to AveMariaSingles.com!  It should be up on their website any day now.  Here is a copy for you to enjoy, if you feel like reading it!


Chapter 1: The Novena to St. Joseph
I always ignored it, that little call I felt from Our Lady.  It started back when I was probably 23 years old. 
No way did I want to surrender my dating life to Jesus.  I was just fine making my own decisions, thank you very much.  After all, I had the wonderful example of my parents’ marriage to follow.  I thought I knew what I was doing.  And I thought I ought to do it on my own.
But years passed.  And heartache ensued.  And no matter how many men I dated nor how many long-term relationships I invested in, I couldn’t find my husband.  Finally, after years and years of unsuccessful dating, I realized that I needed all of Heaven’s help.
Reluctantly, I agreed to the call of Our Lady.  I felt compelled by her in 2007 to devote 3 years of my life to her Son by giving my heart only to Him.

Those 3 years were a long and lonesome time for me, for I selfishly focused on the fact that I could give my heart to no one except for God Himself.  And these years were right in the middle of a critical time of life for me.  I was ages 28, 29, 30, and 31 during the promise.

Many men who entered my life during this time soon found themselves leaving, for God did not permit any man's heart to engage completely for me.  He wanted me only for Himself.
And, try as I did to break my promise, God helped me stick to it.  He removed from my life any man that I was interested in.  God helped me keep my focus and dependence on Him!  I learned to fully rely on Him, and I fell deeply in love with Him.  The intimacy we shared was beautiful, and I realized that I could never love a man more than I loved God!
While those three years were sometimes painfully lonesome, God never abandoned me, and I grew in holiness.  More importantly, the emotional path to me was now clear for my beloved husband to walk.
When only 9 days remained before the conclusion of my 3-year Marian promise, I decided to pray a novena to Our Lady’s spouse, her wonderful husband St. Joseph.  St. Joseph is a wonderful model of true masculinity, fatherhood, and selfless devotion.  I asked St. Joseph to help bring my husband into my life.  On the very day that I started this novena, Michael contacted me on AveMariaSingles.com!
Chapter 2: The Novena to St. Philomena
Delighted with his email yet knowing that my Marian promise was not over, I asked Michael if he would please wait to communicate with me until my novena to St. Joseph was completed.  This he agreed to, telling me that I would come to discover that he was a very patient man.
But even when my 3-year Marian promise concluded after those 9 days, my will once again got in the way of God’s.  Even though Michael and I communicated a lot by email, telephone, text, and Skype, I naively declared that I didn’t want to meet him.  I was much too preoccupied with the new Catholic rock band I was in.  All of Heaven must have been in an uproar at my response to him, who was to be my future husband!
Another month would pass before I began to suspect that my will was, once again, interfering with God’s plan for my life’s happiness.  I felt distinctively that my eyes were closed to seeing His will.
So, I began a novena to St. Philomena, asking her to help open my eyes to recognize my husband.  But, in my human weakness, I botched up her novena.  I would often fall asleep while attempting to pray it.  On some nights, I forgot to pray the novena completely.  When the 9 days concluded, nothing happened… and I could understand why. 
And I turned to Heaven and cried out to Philomena, giving her my heart, telling her that my devotion to her would be relentless...that I would still promote her to all of my friends...and that I could care less if my prayer request did not come true at this time, for I understood that she (as all of the saints) are bound by the will of God, just as I am.  If He says, "No," then it is a no for all of us.

But God, in his great love, must have listened to this young little saint, praying on my behalf at the foot of His almighty throne.  Despite the big celebration that perpetually goes on as all of Heaven worships Him, He heard her small little voice.  And He responded generously to her.  Perhaps He couldn't resist doing so.  He loves his martyrs so much!

Not fully realized by me yet at this point, my novena to St. Philomena had softened my heart, and on July 16th (just three days after the conclusion of the novena and this being the Feast Day of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, which is a special day to us because both of us wear the Brown Scapular and which, one year later, would become our wedding day), I did something I didn't anticipate or plan.  In fact, I did it on a whim.

Michael had, once again, sent me a text message, saying that he prayed for me at daily mass that day on his lunch break.  But this time, I decided to TEXT HIM BACK!

I sent the following text message to Michael's phone:  "Ask the Holy Spirit if you should take me out on a date.  And if He says yes, so will I."
Chapter 3:  Our First, Second, and Third Dates

God must have said yes to Michael because three days later, on July 19th, we had our first date.  God opened my eyes and heart the moment I saw Michael, and I drove home that night with brand new feelings in my heart.  And while our second date was already scheduled to happen in the upcoming days, I awoke the next day with a distinctive desire to double-check and see if these feelings I had inside my heart were real.  So I asked if I could see him the very next day, which seemed to both surprise and delight him.

As I drove to him on July 21st, I prayed Blessed Teresa of Calcutta's "Emergency Novena" by saying the "Memorare" prayer 9 times.  I begged God to show me His will that night.  I begged Him to make it clear.  I begged Him not to give me a divided heart.  And I prayed that Michael would experience the same certainty of God's will that evening also.

That night, we had our second date -- under the stars in the night sky, while eating dinner on a pier, overlooking the water and the boats that were at the dock.  God had made the setting incredibly romantic, although neither Michael nor I were being so, yet at this time.  That night, back at his house, we prayed the Rosary together and did Night Prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours.  From this, we would soon decide to put Christ in the center of our relationship, along with Mary and all the angels and saints.
Two days later, we had our third date beneath this old tree in the pasture behind my house.  Our date was a picnic I had prepared, complete with a red-and-white checkered blanket and a basket that opened up from either side.  Cheesy as I am, I surprised Michael with heart-shaped sandwiches, and he smiled from ear to ear as he ate.

We sat on that blanket (with my dog Macy by our side) until the sun set and the moon rose in its place.  With only the trees listening, I told him my life story, and he told me his.  And then we shared what was in our hearts.  And that night we became a couple.  :)

Chapter 4:  Our Courtship

During our courtship, we were very careful to deliberately keep God at the center of our relationship, to allow Him to dictate the timeline of our courtship’s progression, and to avoid situations that would tempt us to sin with one another.  It was hard work but we loved God and each other so much that we did not want to offend Him.  Plus, our life experiences had taught us that God loves each one of us SO MUCH that He will do ANYTHING to get us to spend Eternity with Him, and that could include the removal of persons or things in our lives that lead us away from Him.  So, we wanted to protect each other’s sanctity.
Michael and I were sure to spend lots of time together with our families.  We took the time to have fun but also to be serious and have “critical conversations” about our future goals and dreams.  We prayed a lot together and hoped that God would continue to bless us and show us the way, which He did.
Chapter 5:  The Proposal
After 8 months of dating and after asking for the approval of my parents, Michael proposed on Ash Wednesday!  And while some guys take the girl to a mountain top to propose, instead Michael took me to prayer.

In my candlelit Prayer Room, shortly after we prayed our daily Rosary and Night Prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours, Michael popped the question.  He had everything planned out beautifully.  I had several envelopes to open, several Scripture passages to read about love and marriage, and a few other special things to read and look at (which are personal to us).

I started crying even before he proposed, because I could feel in my heart that it was coming.  And then, once he told me to close my eyes as he got down on one knee and opened the ring box, I really started crying.  When he said I could open my eyes, he said my full name as he proposed with, "Lisa Lynne Catherine Gorman, will you marry me?"
I said "YES!" as quickly and as fervently as I could, and then the full-body sobbing began!  He held me as I joyfully cried about 5 happy gallons worth.  :)

When I finally regained composure, he slipped the ring onto my finger -- and it fit perfectly!  It's just gorgeous!!
I thank St. Joseph and Our Lady for interceding before the Throne of God for us, as the last novena we prayed together before this blessed event was the Novena to the Model Married Couple, St. Joseph & Our Lady (which concluded just 6 days prior, on March 3rd). 
And I praise God for the beautiful signal grace He allowed us to see that night in the Prayer Room.

When I had "lit" all the electronic candles before we started praying, I was disappointed to discover that the center candle (which flickers in a red glass votive beneath the main crucifix in the room) would not turn on.

Figuring the bulb had burned out or the wire had become bad, I gave up on it.  But, moments before Michael proposed, the candle CAME ON on its own, clearly by the power of the Holy Spirit!!

I fervently whispered, "Michael, look!  The candle is burning beneath the cross now!"  He, too, was amazed.  What a special, happy moment.

Chapter 6:  The Sacrament of Marriage

July 16th, the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, was very special to us.  Not only did we both wear Our Lady’s Brown Scapular devotedly before meeting each other, but July 16th was, if you recall, was the day that I finally said “yes” to Michael.   So, we decided to plan a wedding in just 4 months so that we could marry on the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.  To honor Our Lady further, the girls in our wedding wore beautiful brown dresses.  It was a wonderful day!

Chapter 7:  Getting Blessed by the Pope

We spent our honeymoon in Rome, in the hopes of meeting Pope Benedict XVI and having him bless our marriage.  And our prayers were answered!  Our entire honeymoon was a pilgrimage to so many holy sites, and we visited endless churches and catacombs.  We prayed that God would bless us with a long, healthy, and happy marriage, and that we would soon conceive our first child.

Chapter 8:  New Life Growing Within Me!

After a prayerful dedication of my womb to the will of God and another novena to St. Philomena, asking that she might pray before the throne of God for us that we might become parents in God’s perfect timing, Michael and I conceived our first child!

How beautiful it was to discover that we were pregnant on a day hugged between two special feast days: The Feast of the Holy Family (December 30) and the Feast of Mary, the Mother of God (January 1).  God’s perfect timing is amazing!

Now we await our little one’s arrival in early September 2012.  We are hoping that Baby aims for September 8th, the day our Church celebrates the birth of Our Lady!