I’m excited writing a monthly column, “Finding Faith in Everyday Life,” in our diocesan paper, The Catholic Times, starting this month. So here’s my May column!

My kitchen faces west and every evening this time of year I receive what I’ve come to think of as a love note from God.

Lately, I stand there, the sky splashed with bright oranges and brilliant pinks, and think of how much God must love me. I’ve been battling, over the last two years, some mental health issues and a whole lot of “Poor Me” attitude. A lot has happened that I just plain don’t understand. If God has a plan–and I’m sure he does–he hasn’t clued me in to it.

In the last year, I’ve been blessed by the influence of one of my nieces. She just turned 13 and she is intrigued–and maybe even a bit obsessed–by the sky. She’s always taking pictures of sunrises and sunsets, and she loves when the sun lights the clouds from behind.

Because of her, I’ve been paying attention to the sky a bit more too. Sometimes, there’s no getting away from the sun as a huge orange ball dipping below and leaving a trail of beauty behind.

Looking out at those startling winter sunsets from my kitchen window has become a reminder to me. These difficult days I’ve had? They’re but a snap of the fingers in the larger picture of my life. Maybe, with God’s grace, it’s making me stronger, more compassionate, open to God’s will and grace in a whole new way.

When I think of how God loves me, looking at the sky these last few evenings, it’s hard not to think of Mary. In so many ways, she embodies love to me. I never wanted to be a mother, and I still struggle with my vocation as a mother. Deep in my heart, I wonder if I’m any good at it, if I’m scarring my kids and burdening them with my baggage, if I’m letting the most important part of my world down with my ongoing failures.

In the midst of those worries–and so many others–stands Mary. Usually, I see her feet first, because my head is hanging low. When I bring my gaze higher, I see that there’s an arm, and it’s extended, reaching for me.

Mary is always reaching for us, trying to bring us closer to her Son. There’s a message of love that, so often, I miss. I ask–sometimes at a bit of a scream–where God is in the midst of my struggles. The answer, without fail, is never farther than the view out of my kitchen window at sunset.