How My Miscarriage Changed Me

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.

IMG_1644

But, now I do.  And, it has changed me.
Read More

Advertisements

God Provides. Yes, He Actually Does.

I am 23+ weeks into my pregnancy with our happy surprise Baby #3 (a little girl).  When I say she is a “surprise”, I mean just that.  We are people who use NFP regularly and though we are pro-life and thus always ready to accept a new little life as God sees fit to give it, we weren’t purposefully trying to get pregnant with this little one (as we were with our other two).  So, when,  that 2nd little line showed up on a pregnancy test last fall, surprised is the best word to describe my reaction.530862_661837282070_1511837382_n

When it took 14 months to get pregnant with my first child, I learned quickly that God alone is the author of Life and only HE knows when it is best for a person or family to have a baby.  Sometimes our will and His will line up (we were trying for a 2nd child and God deemed it to be the right time and we got pregnant quickly).  Other times, it’s challenging to understand why God is or isn’t allowing a pregnancy to happen.

I have never once take for granted the gift of this new little life within me when I know so many people who would give anything to get pregnant and I am so thrilled to be having another little girl.  But, from my limited perspective, I wouldn’t have chosen right now to be pregnant again!  Read More

Two Wrongs CAN Make a Right…

Family

My husband and I are both passionate about raising loving, respectful kids whose strong relationships with Christ and His Church are lived out in their relationships and community.  Sometimes, though, we disagree on our approach and I wonder if our different backgrounds have put us on completely different pages when it comes to reaching our parenting goals.

I’ve got advanced education in Pastoral Studies, Theology, and Teaching. My husband has advanced education in Administration, Teaching, and Social Studies.

I’m a cradle, Catholic-school girl Catholic.  My husband is a convert.

There are times when I seriously challenge my husband to become more comfortable with and better understand the words, signs, and gestures of our faith.  Sometimes he makes himself talk about (or listen to me talk with friends about) theology, Church doctrine, and what it means to be Catholic because I’ve shown him it’s an important conversation.

There are times when my husband seriously challenges me to remember that all those words, signs, and gestures mean nothing if we do not live as Christians in the real world.  Sometimes I make myself to stop talking about theology, Church doctrine, and what it means to be Catholic because he’s shown me that it’s important to just be a Christian interacting with our world instead of talking about how Christianity interacts with our world.

There are lots of times I’m convinced he’s wrong.  There are at least as many times he’s convinced that I’m wrong.  Then there are those moments – those oh-so-precious moments when I’m missing the mark and he’s missing the mark, but together we are exactly right.

This week our 1st grade daughter was asked by her principal to represent her school by leading the pledge at the City Council meeting.

My response:  I’m so proud of you! Because you are so kind and loving and respectful, you are showing people what it means to be a good Christian in our community, how to show Jesus’ love to everyone around you, and they are obviously noticing!  What a great job!

My husband’s response:  I’m so proud of you!  Because you are so kind and loving and respectful, you are showing people what it means to be a good citizen in our community, how to make our world better, and they are obviously noticing!  What a great job!

My daughter, who claims she wants to be either a teacher or a singer when she grows us, was instantly petrified.  She didn’t want to do it – she was too nervous because she doesn’t think she knows the pledge well enough, she doesn’t know these people, and she doesn’t know what it’s going to be like.

I responded by telling her I think we should take a few days to pray about it first. I told her that sometimes doing good things and being a role model isn’t easy.  We talked about how Mary said “yes” when God asked her to do something big even though she didn’t know a lot about what it was going to be.

So…she went to her dad and told him all the reasons she didn’t want to do it

My husband responded by telling her she should take a few days to think about it first.  He told her that it would be a great chance for her to be an example for other kids in her school and that it would give the city leaders hope to see someone her age doing something so big.  They talked about Rosa Parks and how little people can do big things that make them nervous if they do them by thinking about others instead of themselves.

My response wouldn’t have been right on its own – neither was my husband’s.    But both of them together?  We brought Church, State, and family together and I think all of us got a lesson from the ‘school of deeper humanity’…

2 wrong people + God = the right family.

Family communion can only be preserved and perfected through a great spirit of sacrifice. It requires, in fact, a ready and generous openness of each and all to understanding, to forbearance, to pardon, to reconciliation.

There is no family that does not know how selfishness, discord, tension and conflict violently attack and at times mortally wound its own communion: hence there arise the many and varied forms of division in family life.

But, at the same time, every family is called by the God of peace to have the joyous and renewing experience of “reconciliation,” that is, communion reestablished, unity restored.

Familiaris Consortio #21

(Listen, I know that comparing standing up in front of the 6 people on our city council and reciting the pledge to Rosa Parks or, you know, the Mother of God is a little heavy handed and over the top, but it’s a pretty big deal to her! Plus, I am an English major and hyperbole is a legitimate way to prove a point!)

Why We Need Dads

I’ve spent the last nearly four weeks husband-less.  Though this occurred by choice, it was a choice made out of necessity.  I know a month is a drop in the bucket for military families (God bless you all!) and an even smaller drop for those who have lost their spouses (God bless you even more).  But, it’s been a tough month for us.

il_fullxfull.222456628I could go on and on and on about how much I’ve missed my husband and how important it is to appreciate and recognize all he does for me on a daily basis; how we, as wives, need to treasure our other half and realize that, yes, without him, you really are incomplete and don’t function as well.

Those things are very true, but the hardest part about my husband being gone has not been because I miss him (though I have, terribly), but because I miss him being with our children.  I miss my other half, but I really miss the other half of our parenting team.
 
So, with Father’s Day on the horizon, I thought I’d take a minute to mention some of the things that Dad brings to the household – things that I’ve always known, but that have become glaringly obvious while the father of my children has been away.

(None of these are things that a Mom can’t and doesn’t bring to the family, too.  But, they are things that Dads really bring in a special way.)
Read More

Don’t you know?

Have you seen the Dove Real Beauty Sketches video?  Dove’s statistic says that  only 4% of women around the world consider themselves beautiful.

Who are you?  How would you describe yourself?  How would your friends describe you?  Your husband/boyfriend?

Here’s how God would describe you:

You shall be called “My Delight”… for the LORD delights in you…As a bridegroom rejoices in his bride so shall your God rejoice in you. (Isaiah 62:4-5)

The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.
(1 Samuel 16:7)

Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?
(1 Corinthians 3:16)

You are more beautiful than you think.

Parenting: Harder Than it Looks

I would consider myself a pretty confident person. In fact, I would say that I have always been fairly confident about myself and my abilities. I never really struggled with school. I always had a knack for sports or physical activities. I was never excellent at one particular sport or subject, but always picked things up easily and felt good trying out something new.

Well, I am.

Well, I am.

I wouldn’t say I was overly confident when it came to guys or my looks. Though I was probably the first homecoming queen in history who didn’t have a date to the Homecoming Dance, things like that didn’t break me or cause me to not really know who I was or where I was headed in life.

Yes, confidence would probably be on the list of “What are 3 words that describe you?”.

But, I have found the one thing that is trying to break my confidence. The one thing that is not just “something I do” or something that I am trying out to see how I like it. No, it’s the ONE THING that is second only to my primary vocation as a wife. It is the ONE THING that will never, ever end and I may not ever get right. Read More

The Baby Name Game

Choosing the name for a child is, in my opinion, sort of a big deal.  When we were thinking about what we wanted to name our son (our first), I got really stressed about it. What if we choose the wrong name?  What if it seems fine, but then once we get home and start using it, we hate it?

This is how your child who then becomes a youth then a teen, young adult, and then adult will be identified FOREVER.

FOR.EV.ER.

I want to be friends with this person.

A name can say so much about you and can end up defining parts of your life based on how it is used or nicknamed.  You’re stuck with it (at least until your 18) and you can’t do anything about it.



Yeah, no pressure.



Yet, here we are, playing the name game again with our 2nd child, a little girl.

In my family, we have a tradition unintentionally started by my sister who had the first grandbaby to not reveal the name we choose until the baby is born.  This is a good thing for a couple of reasons. Read More

How Romance Novels Almost Ruined My Marriage…In Bed

Yesterday, I blogged about one of my main frustrations with romance novels – the unrealistic expectations they foster about who men are supposed to be once they fall in love.  My second huge problem with romance novels – and one of the reasons I stopped reading them – is the unrealistic expectations they set up about sex.

Disclaimer:  Some folks are going to be uncomfortable with the discussion that follows because it’s about sex – and I’m talking about it in public (though I don’t think it’s quite as scandalous as the Fifty Shades of Grey discussion).  If you have slightly more puritanical sensibilities, I recommend you skip this blog and read this one by my friend Rebecca instead.

Let’s talk about Sex, baby

Just a one sentence theology lesson apparently

I’m not going to get into a whole theology lesson on how these romance novels fail to uphold our Catholic understanding of sex as a sacramental experience of grace that reflects and imitates the Divine Love of the Trinity when it is expressed within the context of a marriage and is free, total, fruitful, and faithful.

No, my big beef with the sex in these novels isn’t that it often takes place outside the marriage bed and with contraception making an often intrusive appearance.  No, my beef is that as soon as the male lead falls for his lady, the sex becomes incredibly unrealistic.

Suddenly they are having marathons in bed with multiple orgasms on everyone’s part and never a single question about physical needs (food, shower, sleep) or even stamina.  The man will never, EVER think about reaching his physical peak before she has – at least 2 or 3 times – and she will never, EVER think about turning him away if he indicates he’s interested.

Let’s not forget THE moment.

If words paint pictures for the mind, this is the picture of a woman’s climax that’s painted by the romance author.

The woman’s physical peak (which again, comes 2 or 3 times every time) is described with some of the following phrases:

  • dizzying explosion of feeling
  • erupted in dazzling undulations
  • frenzied explosion of exquisite sensation
  • frenzy of simultaneous explosions
  • glorious waves of splendor
  • riding on a wave of frenzy
  • wave after wave of rapture

Read More

How Romance Novels Almost Ruined My Marriage

Everyone who knows me – even a little bit – knows that I love to read.  My first word was “book” and I take a book with me wherever I go.  So, what surprises people is not when they discover how much I read, but often when they learn what I read.

I’m a college educated English literature major whose favorite authors are so classic they’re known by initials and last names only:  Dante, Milton, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkein, and Shakespeare.  But there has been a seedy underbelly to my reading habits as well: authors whose books are found in the checkout line at the grocery store instead of the college bookstore.  Authors who aren’t really a part of the classic lit canon:  Nora Roberts, Stephanie Laurens, Jude Devereaux, and Johanna Lindsey.

Yes, it’s true – I have a history as a voracious romance novel reader.  Harlequin romance novels.  You know the ones: with the cover featuring a scantily clad lady and a Greek god slowly tearing her dress off her shoulder.  At one point, I had 2 whole bookshelves (not 2 shelves of a bookshelf, 2 whole bookshelves) filled with romance novels.

Romance Novel Cover

I own this book… {hangs head in shame}

When I first got hooked on romance novels in high school, I loved them because they were quick, easy reads – a nice break from the Chaucer, Stephen Crane, and Mary Shelley I was plowing through in my literature classes.  Unfortunately, like most people with a slightly obsessive compulsive personality, I let things get out of hand, and what started as a vague enjoyment became a compulsive habit.

My husband will tell you that the problem was not in what I was reading, but that I was reading compulsively – all the time – and he would be partially right.  I have a tendency to compulsively read an entire novel in one sitting and ignore everything around me including my needs (eating, sleeping, etc) and the needs of my family.  But what he didn’t know is that those romance novels were causing a bigger problem.

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised – after all, you are what you read, and what I was reading set up some pretty unrealistic expectations about what “true love” should really be like.

Let’s blame the men.

The male leads in these books are everything a man should be.  That’s not to say they’re perfect – there’s usually a sordid past or some emotional (or physical) scarring going on – after all, we want these characters to be believable! Usually they have a problem being a little too demanding, bossy, heavy handed, etc with the leading lady as well.  And then BAM!  They fall in love, and suddenly this guy is falling all over himself to change all the negative parts of his personality to accommodate his beloved.

If he was domineering, he’s suddenly trying to loosen up and let out the reigns a little.  If he was a workaholic, he’s trying to spend less time at work and more time with his lady. If he hated everything that the word “family” stood for, he’s reaching out and rebuilding broken family relationships.

You get the picture.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with these male characters – and they’ve come a long way since the romance novels of the 70s and 80s where the man would rape and kidnap a woman and then somehow win the heart of his passive, innocent lady.

The problem is that when I’m escaping into worlds where the men are constantly trying to prove their love by trying to change, I end up looking at my own husband and wondering why he isn’t quite so malleable.  Suddenly, my unconditional love and acceptance of him as a man created in the image and likeness of God slowly shifts into frustration that he’s not the man I’ve created in the image and likeness of the romance novel character.

You know, if I shave this guy bald, he actually does kind of look like my husband 🙂

These changes in thought process were gradual and it took me a really long time to even notice them, but they were there.  Every time I finished a romance novel I found myself a little irritated with my husband – even if he hadn’t done anything wrong.  I found myself thinking of all the things I wish he would do or be that he wasn’t instead of appreciating the things he does and the person he is.

So, I gave up romance novels – or at least seriously, seriously cut back – so that I could learn to appreciate the man my husband is instead wishing (even subconsciously) that he would be more like the men I was reading about in the romance novels.

These unrealistic expectations followed me right into the bedroom…leading to my second huge problem with romance novels…but that’s a blog for another day.

Fifty Shades of Grey…A Second Opinion

In my first opinion, I wrote about my initial reactions to the popular Fifty Shades of Grey books and attempted to open a discussion about their morality.

The opinions poured in!  Unfortunately, most of these opinions were not shared in the comment section on the blog itself, but rather through Facebook and other social media.

Many of the comments argued with me on whether or not these books would be considered pornography by the Church.  In my original post, I wanted to get away from the plethora of Christian bloggers who are deeming these books inherently sinful.  I acknowledge that there’s a danger in these books leading to sin, but I made the argument that I don’t think they constitute a grave wrong in and of themselves.

I was wrong

Tell my husband to mark it on the calendar – these are not words I often say!

I spent days searching to try to find an answer about whether or not erotic literature was considered pornography in the eyes of the Church…in vain.  I couldn’t get a clear cut answer from any of the sources I looked to, and so went about trying to interpret the Catechism of the Catholic Church’s comments on pornography to see if they applied to books like these.

One of the things I did was a Google search for “Catholic erotica” (a potentially dangerous proposition).  Surprisingly, it was not inappropriate stories about Catholic school girls that showed up, it was news reports from Germany about some German bishops who owned a stake in a publishing company that sold erotic books.  A German newspaper reported that the Catholic Church was selling porn, and the bishop’s threatened to sue saying that erotica is not porn.  Chalk one up to me, I thought…even the German bishops agree with me!

A few months later, Pope Benedict addressed a letter to the Church of Germany that covered a variety of topics, but included a line or two in reference to the publishing company scandal.  Here’s what he said (emphasis mine): Read More