(WARNING: This is a long blog!)
She was supposed to be our “rainbow baby” – the joy after the storm.
When we found out we were pregnant again, 4 months after losing our baby Gale, I was excited. The likelihood of miscarrying again, back to back, was very low. My doctor had me come in within a couple of days of my initial call to check my HGC levels to make sure the pregnancy was strong. I registered “low”, but passable and was put on progesterone supplements. A couple of days later, my HGC levels were checked again and were soaring.
At 8 weeks, we loaded up the whole crew and waited to see the newest member of our family up on the “big screen”. After waiting through a “full work-up” OB appointment for me, the kids running through halls and the staff being kind enough to put up with all the noise, we finally got to see the baby. Her heart was beating like a champ, the kids were thrilled to discover they were going to have a new sibling (“Please, not another girl, Mom,” said our 5 year old, only son), and I felt confident that we’d be celebrating another birthday around Thanksgiving. My doctor scheduled me for another ultrasound at 11 weeks “just to be sure of things”. Read More
It’s really hard to discuss miscarriage. It’s not that it’s taboo, exactly. It’s just that it’s not something that’s usually very public unless your pregnancy was already public. And, when you lose a baby early in a pregnancy, many people don’t even really consider it much of a loss. In fact, I was one of those people. I mean, there has never been any question that once you conceive, that is a life with a unique soul. But, I always thought, “If the pregnancy is lost early, how could you even feel very attached to that baby?” I truly did not understand because I did not have a frame of reference for that type of loss.
But, now I do. And, it has changed me.
“Continue to pray the Rosary every day.”
(Our Lady of Fatima to Sister Lucia)
I don’t think there’s any practicing Catholic out there who would deny the importance of daily recitation of the rosary. The saints, the Popes, and even the Blessed Mother herself invites us to pray it on a regular basis, promising great spiritual wealth and growth as a result of it. And, I have no doubt at all that that is true.
But, for the vast majority of us, praying the Rosary daily is actually rather challenging. Or, maybe that’s just me. I am not sure if it’s that I lack focus or the ability to sit still that long, but when I am attempting to pray it alone (which, let me tell you, happens about 0.1% of the time of my life) or when I am driving (which is more realistic), I easily get distracted. I do much better when I pray it aloud with other people.
But, the only people I am with on a regular daily basis are these tiny human beings that I call my children. Which, hey, is GREAT! Because, praying the FAMILY rosary is possibly an even more beneficial and spiritually efficacious type of prayer than praying it alone.
Maybe efficacious isn’t the right word. Perhaps saying it’s a source of “great sanctification” is more appropriate. Especially when your prayer partners are 5, 3, and 20 months old.
I just received word through the social media grapevine that a couple that I knew only distantly in college suffered a great tragedy – the husband was killed in a car wreck late last night and she is now widowed with 6 young children and a 7th on the way.
Tomorrow is the 1 year anniversary of death of another friend from college who was diagnosed, fought, and died valiantly from an intense form of cancer all in a couple of months time. His wife was also left widowed with 3 young children, pregnant with their 4th.
On Dec. 12, a lovely young mother here in town also died from cancer, after 6 months of fighting, leaving behind her husband and 3 daughters who are 3, 2, and 6 months old. She was only 32.
Poor Martha. She always gets such a bad rap for “being worried and bothered about many things” (Lk. 10:41). She was a doer, perhaps a slightly Type A personality (though, not all of us Marthas are actually complete Type As).
Though many people skip over it, previous verses indicate that “MARTHA welcomed Him [Jesus] into her home.” (emphasis added) Not “Martha AND Mary welcomed Him.” Just Martha welcomed him. She was the hostess who was presumably doing things like making the meal, setting out the food, filling drinks, keeping up with everyone’s things, cleaning off dirty feet, etc.
We Marthas know that we are worried and bothered by many things. We see the overflowing trash, the mess on the floor, the sink full of dishes, the dirty laundry, the toilet that needs scrubbing, the sticky fingers on kids. We are the ones doing the majority of the chores and keeping the household in order. We take action, get the job done, and our love language is most likely “acts of service.”
We’re also the ones who get stressed out when visitors are coming over to the house – not because we have an “image” to uphold or that we are trying so much to “impress” the guests. But, more because we want everyone to have a pleasant experience. We want the food to satisfy, the seats to be comfortable, the drinks to be cold, and the friends to feel at home.
But, we feel like we get a bad wrap thanks to this particular verse in Luke’s gospel. Read More
There’s never a lack of tragic situations happening in the world at large as well in our specific communities, families, and churches. Sometimes, though, it seems like certain communities are hit really hard in relation to others.
One of my “circles” of people is my alma mater, Franciscan University of Steubenville. Being that it’s a university, my connections and friendships spread much wider there than some of my smaller, more personal circles. Though it is not a large university, there’s been a specific contingency of people (Catholic young families) overwhelmingly affected by hardships in the past year.
It’s taken me forever to find time to finally write a blog. But, here I am!! And, I wanted to write on a topic that’s been on my heart and mind a whole lot over the past few years, probably since my first child was born almost 4 years ago. And, in recent days, it seems to be a topic that keeps popping up over and over again in conversations and Catholic circles in which I run.
Choosing schooling for our children.
It’s been out there, hanging in the marital and family atmosphere since my son was born. When knew the days would come when he would be old enough to have to begin formal education and we would have to decide which route we wanted to at least begin with. And, when it’s your first child and you have no experience with any type of school one way or the other, it’s overwhelming to think about.
I went to all Catholic school, from kindergarten through college. Every minute spent in a school uniform (well, up until college), nuns as some of my teachers, retreats & Mass as a regular part of our curriculum. I was not homeschooled ever, though one of my sisters and one of my brothers both were for a short amount of time. Those same two were the only ones in our family who ever attended public school. I had some public school friends from work and activities that I did outside of the school, but not many.
I knew plenty of homeschoolers especially through our family prayer group. I went to college with A LOT of homeschooled people. In fact, I am married to someone who was homeschooled for a large part of his education (and, incidentally, who received his college education through the seminary).
We’ve been going through a relatively challenging time in our family over the past several (almost a year) months. I say relatively because the challenges each of us face are different and are difficult based on our own family, lives and circumstances. So, comparatively speaking, the things that have hit us aren’t devastating or insurmountable. But, they have presented us with numerous opportunities to grow in faith & hope, rely on God completely to meet our needs, and to pray.
In October of this year my wife, Liz, and I took a 10th anniversary trip to Florence and Paris. I’d been to both cities and was blessed to see many of the beautiful and remarkable pieces of art, faith, and architecture for a second time.
For the first time, we visited San Marco the home of the Italian renaissance painter and Dominican Friar – Fra Angelico. I had studied Fra Angelico’s work, and my favorite piece is his representation of the Annunciation (Luke 1:26-38). I had first encountered this piece of art nearly 20 years ago, but until this fall had never seen it in person.
When my wife and I climbed the stairs within San Marco and first laid eyes on the beautiful painting you see above, I was stunned. Though I had seen this work hundreds of times, I saw it as if for the first time again. And for the first time I saw the wings of the Archangel Gabriel sparkle. I’d always admired the colorful representation of the angel’s wings, but now I knew that these wings sparkled and shimmered in the light.
Saying yes to God, as Mary does in this moment, is always full of surprises. If you say yes to God, I guarantee that he has beautiful surprises in store for you. Even if you have studied and hoped for and anticipated your next move, if you make that move while saying yes and giving your life over to Christ, God will make it even more beautiful. If you have never said yes to God, I invite and encourage you to say yes, even in a small way, to God’s will for your life. If you do, he will make even a broken and painful life, beautiful.
On this the Solemnity of the Annunciation, I invite you to say one simple prayer – Yes. Say yes to God. Tell God yes. And let that yes be the beginning of a life of yes you give to God. I promise what he will do with that yes is greater, more beautiful than you can imagine
Lent, and especially Ash Wednesday, is such an interesting thing in this era of social media and technology.
Back when I was young, Ash Wednesday was a big deal to us because, well, we are Catholic AND we went to Catholic school. Other than McDonald’s offering fish sandwiches on the menu, the rest of the world didn’t seem too clued in to what we over in our Alabama 1% Catholic community were doing.
When we would show up places after school, we were looked at funny or asked what was on our head. I don’t even really remember there being a lot of Ash Wednesday services at all the Protestant churches like there seem to be today.
But, now, social media is exploding with reminders of the beginning of Lent and Ash Wednesday. The hashtag #AshTag is trending on Twitter. There’s blogs upon blogs upon blogs suggesting ways to make the most of your Lenten season. There’s Instagrams left and right of people’s ashy foreheads (guilty!). There are even a few new and very cool apps out there that are specifically for meditation and reminders to pray daily and not to eat meat on Fridays during Lent.
It’s an incredibly interesting time to live.