Be Not Afraid

7 Quick Takes

Hello all! I’m back to share some happenings in the McGinley world!

1. Jen at Conversion Diary has been having some serious health problems (pulmonary embolisms in her lungs) and is not only pregnant, but a busy mother of five children (not to mention an incredible writer.) Please join me in keeping her in your prayers in a special way during this time.

2. Speaking of Jen, Mike and I recently used her Saint’s Name Generator to select a “Saint of the Year,” a Saint that we’ll have a special devotion to and to learn from in 2013. I’ve never been very good at sticking to my resolutions (or even making any for that matter), and I’d heard of some people choosing a theme or word of the year (like my beautiful friend Caroline), but I felt overwhelmed at the thought of narrowing my theme down to just one word (I’m not the most concise, if you haven’t noticed.) So, I said a quick prayer, let the computer do it’s thing, and voila! My Saint of the year is Saint Gianna Beretta Molla! I know little about Saint Gianna, besides the face that she was an Italian doctor and mother of four who refused to have an abortion and hysterectomy when she was pregnant with her fourth child, despite knowing that she could die, which she did seven days after the birth of her child. But I’m excited to learn more about her this year.

And yet, when I first saw that Saint Gianna was my Saint of the Year, I admittedly thought it was a little strange. Two years ago, when I was gearing up to find out I had cancer when I was pregnant, when I was about to be asked to balance the health of my unborn son with my own, and when the possibility of leaving my young son motherless was at the forefront of my mind at all times – then, yes, it seems a devotion to Saint Gianna could have been an extremely fruitful thing.

But, the more I read about Saint Gianna, the more I see how applicable lessons to be learned from her life are to not only all mothers, but all people. Her life was the true embodiment of true love (“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. John 15:12-13). Plus, if I’ve learned one thing, it’s that God will reveal His reasons and His ways in His time – I can only imagine that when I look back one year later how clearly I’ll see how perfect Saint Gianna was for me at this time.

3. Mike and I recently celebrated our 5th anniversary on December 29th. We had an incredible time spending a night on the town in Chicago (move over Denver, I think I’m back in love with the Midwest. But don’t worry, I’m sure the tides will turn in a few weeks when I fall back in love with the coal mining region of Pennsylvania or somewhere else.) I had a blast making the following video and surprising Mike by playing it for him on Christmas Eve (it was especially fun to record The Lumineers “Ho Hey” a capella – did you know I was in an all girl’s a capella group in college? Oh yeah.) You should watch it for no other reason than that my version of “Ho Hey” will probably make you laugh!

4. Emotional healing after cancer continues to be a long and often difficult journey. It sometimes feels like I take two steps forward and then one step back (have I said that before?? I’m also finding that healing contains a lot of deja vu!) Often the weeks I feel I’ve made the most progress end with me completely losing my cool over something completely insignificant at someone I love the most (i.e.: the lucky Mr. McGinley!) When I finally calm down I realize that my anger had nothing to do with him, and little to do with the situation, and that it’s just an extension of that small pot of fire that still burns in my soul with anger at getting cancer, going through treatment, feeling robbed of time with my son and my husband, the injustice of the hundreds of thousands of people who die from cancer everyday, the injustice of the hundreds of thousands of people who suffer everyday, and on and on the list goes.

I know there are some things that can help with this (medication, talking to someone, finding a productive hobby) and I’m taking steps to do those things, but God is also working through others to clue me into some steps I need to take before this anger ever goes away. While being prayed over during a holy hour led by the lovely Kelly Pease (a beautiful musician and sweet soul who you should check out – listen to her “Mother’s Song“) our Deacon reminded me that it is perfectly okay to not only be mad, but to be mad at God. I don’t know if he realized it, but this was truly a revelation to me. I have been mad, yes, but I’ve mostly stuck with ending my anxious pleas to God with “but, let thy will be done.” And while following the ways of Jesus is the most important thing in our faith, how can we expect to get there if we’re not honest with God about how we’re really feeling (and in my case, that’s admittedly not just angry, but angry at God)? It was a grace-filled moment, and I suspect I’ll be digesting what it means for a long time.

5. Since I still harbor feelings of extreme anger and sadness towards cancer, it’s probably not surprising that a video about cancer would make me cry. But the great thing about this particular video is that it makes me cry, then smile, and then laugh, and I think it’ll make you do those things too. People never cease to amaze me with their ability to find joy in the midst of suffering.

6. How was our Christmas, you ask? Well why don’t you take a look at these pictures and figure it out for yourselves?

ChristmasToddlers ChristmasGrandparents Okay, okay, just kidding. I mean, there was a lot of that, but there was also a ton of laughter, joy, and fun. It was wonderful to be home, and especially meaningful to put on a memorial Christmas concert with my amazing siblings in honor of my Nana at the nursing home where she was so wonderfully cared for and loved. I hope you all had an equally blessed holiday season!

7. After wearing a tie for our Christmas pictures, JP is obsessed with his “tieeee,” wants to wear one every day, and well, it’s pretty darn cute.

ChristmasBoy HandsomeboyI mean, right??

Happy weekend friends!


  1. Just found you on Jen’s site and am catching up. Your Lourdes story was beautiful. I have been there twice and those holy water baths are something you never ever forget. I will offer a special prayer for you in overcoming your anger…which has been a special personal mission of my own this year. Aaannd, LOVE St Gianna. She has a shrine in Philly, I prayed there, with her gloves on my womb…and she sent us a daughter (via adoption) – who became official one year after those first prayers.

    • Ohhh thank you so much for the prayers and for sharing your beautiful story about Saint Gianna!! How amazing!! You’ve made me even more excited about learning more about this amazing woman this year, and I’m going to read more about your story as well. 🙂

  2. I’m a big fan of St. Gianna, hers is a story that just stays with me. I’ll pray for your continued emotional healing. I think emotional healing from anything can be the biggest mountain to scale.

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