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.

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But, now I do.  And, it has changed me.
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Our [Imperfect] Family Rosary

“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.

childs+hands+holding+rosaryBut, 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.

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You Are Still Alive.

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.

12144836_607956026009598_3499854651974307397_n Read More

This Was Not the Plan

I don’t know when I started to realize that no matter how many and how often I made “plans” I made for my life, it would almost never go the way I envisioned it.  When I look back, I can see how different things that happened in my life were dots that were going to connect me to another dot in a way that I hadn’t envisioned and never would’ve thought of.

The first place I can really remember it happening and changing the course of my “plans” was in high school.  After two years of playing on the volleyball team (one of those years as varsity), I was unexpectedly cut altogether.  I was devastated and had all my high school plans and dreams seemingly crushed. Crossing out Plan A and writing Plan B on a blackboard.

But, that event led me to a new dot – going from running track in the spring to running track in the winter, too.  Though I never really wanted to pursue track in college or try to make the Olympic team or anything like that, I ultimately had a much more successful career as a runner than I probably ever would’ve had as a volleyball player.

God knew what He was doing.  Imagine that.

When I review my life thus far, I can now clearly see how things like that happened constantly, changing the course of my life and taking me in a new and better direction.  Sometimes they were things I had no control over (like getting cut from a team), but often they were choices offered that I hadn’t considered, I ended up choosing, and that made all the difference. Read More

Assumption of Mary: Reflections for You & Your Family

Assumption

Although it is not mentioned in Scripture, the Assumption of Mary has been a solidly held belief of our faith since apostolic times, and has been officially celebrated by the Catholic Church since 6th century AD.

The Assumption of Mary was declared a dogma of the Catholic Church by Pope Pius XII in 1950: “The Immaculate Mother of God, the ever-virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heaven.” (Munificentissimus Deus)

The Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a holy day of obligation for Catholics – meaning you need to get to Mass today!

A few reflections to help you enter more fully into today’s feast:

From Pope Francis’ Assumption Homily:

“At the end of its Constitution on the Church, the Second Vatican Council left us a very beautiful meditation on Mary Most Holy. Let me just recall the words referring to the mystery we celebrate today: “the immaculate Virgin preserved free from all stain of original sin, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, when her earthly life was over, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things” (no. 59). Then towards the end, there is: “the Mother of Jesus in the glory which she possesses in body and soul in heaven is the image and the beginning of the church as it is to be perfected in the world to come. Likewise, she shines forth on earth, until the day of the Lord shall come” (no. 68). In the light of this most beautiful image of our Mother, we are able to see the message of the biblical readings that we have just heard. We can focus on three key words: struggle, resurrection, hope.

From St. Josemaria Escriva:

“Joy overtakes both angels and men. Why is it that we feel today this intimate delight, with our heart brimming over, with our soul full of peace? Because we are celebrating the glorification of our mother, and it is only natural that we her children rejoice in a special way upon seeing how the most Blessed Trinity honors her.”

From St. Bernard of Clairvaux:

“And with regard to ourselves, how deservedly do we keep the feast of the Assumption with all solemnity. What reasons for rejoicing, what motives for exultation have we on this most beautiful day! The presence of Mary illumines the entire world so that even the holy city above has now a more dazzling splendor from the light of this virginal Lamp. With good reason thanksgiving and the voice of praise resound today throughout the courts of Heaven…let us not complain for here we do not have a lasting city, but we seek one that is to come, the same which the blessed Mary entered today.”

From Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB:

We celebrate three great moments of Mary’s life knowing that they represent all of our lives…God was present and moving in Mary’s life from the earliest moments. God’s grace is greater than sin; it overpowers sin and death. Through her Immaculate Conception, Mary was called for a special mission.

The second moment of Mary’s life is the Incarnation. Through the virginal birth of Jesus we are reminded that God moves powerfully in our lives too. Our response to that movement must be one of recognition, gratitude, humility, openness and welcome. Through the Incarnation, Mary was gifted with the Word made Flesh.

The Church celebrates Mary’s final journey into the fullness of God’s Kingdom with the dogma of the Assumption promulgated by Pius XII in 1950. As with her beginnings, so too, with the end of her life, God fulfilled in her all of the promises that he has given to us. We, too, shall be raised up into heaven as she was. In Mary we have an image of humanity and divinity at home. God is indeed comfortable in our presence and we in God’s. Through her Assumption, Mary was chosen to have a special place of honor in the Godhead.”

Share this feast with your children:

  • Women for Faith & Family has some suggested activities including placing flowers around a statue of Mary in your home or church.
  • Catholic Mom has an idea for an art project reminiscent of a pop up book.
  • Catholic Culture suggests having a tea party in honor of the Assumption.
  • Take them to Mass!
  • Pray the Glorious mysteries and focus specifically on the Mystery of the Assumption.

Any other suggestions? How are you helping your children understand this important feast day? Other than going to Mass, how will you celebrate this feast?

The Weakness of God

To be brutally honest, I’ve been feeling very worn down lately.  Numerous things have happened in my life that have left me feeling a bit more broken than usual, and I had really come to the conclusion that I am under attack.  I was already feeling this way when a priest said to me “In your line of work, and with what you’re doing, you are going to be under attack.”  He went on though, “You need to do everything you can to be protecting yourself, spiritually.”

St. Michael the Archangel - Head of the Original Secret ServiceAnd the St. Michael Prayer has been readily on my lips and in my heart lately.  If you’re not familiar with it, here ya go:

Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle;
be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray:
and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host,
by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan and all the evil spirits
who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.
Amen.

It’s a daily prayer for protection and for knowing and embracing that this decision to live for Christ will come with struggles and challenges, and that we are targets.  We need help to endure – and lately, I’ve been feeling the need for more help than usual.

I’m blessed to work for Life Teen, a Catholic organization that calls for the entire staff to share in a Holy Hour every week at an appointed time.  This week during holy hour, I was lead to reading some of Paul’s writing to the Corinthians.  And I was drawn to praying over 1:25 – For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. (1 Cor 1:25)  I read further, but I kept being drawn back to that.

Though I may seem worm out, and though it may seem harder than ever to live for more than ourselves, I need to embrace the weakness that God is giving to me.  Because in that weakness, God’s strength is all the more evident.  That it seems especially difficult to live out this call to, but I am called to rely on Christ more and more and more.

Maybe I am under attack.  Maybe it is Christ teaching me that I need to rely on him even more than I already tried to.

I think it’s both – that in these attacks, I need to fully embrace that I am not strong enough to overcome alone.  But if I embrace this reliance on Christ – if I allow God to be God, His strength will come through more than I’ve imagined.

Announce the Resurrection (Don’t Argue It)

Cardinal Dolan was recently asked in an interview who was the most influential person in his life. He answered, “That’s easy. Jesus Christ.” When the reporter said that it had to be someone alive today, Dolan said, “My answer is still Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is alive.” The Easter resurrection reminds us that Jesus was not a glorious historical figure who left behind a rich tradition of faith, but a presence, a person, who is alive at this very moment.

The women who first encounter the reality of Jesus’ resurrection remember his words, and then rush off to share the Good News with the apostles. The apostles do not believe the women. They do not accept their testimony, but notice that when they are faced with this disbelief, with the ridicule of their friends (it “seemed like nonsense”), the women do not engage in lengthy theological debates, they do not argue. They tell their story and their witness stands for itself.

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They didn’t argue it, they witnessed to it.

Their witness is enough to spark something in Peter. Their story, despite sounding like nonsense, inspires Peter to run to the tomb and experience the reality of the Risen Christ for himself.

People cannot be argued into believing the gospel. Philosophical arguments are not what change hearts. People are not argued into the Christian faith, they are loved, welcomed and invited into it.

We need to proclaim the gospel—not debate it. That is what the women did. That is what Peter did after his encounter. The first disciples did not argue the resurrection; they simply announced it: “This man [Jesus] was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death” (Acts 2:23-24). Announce the resurrection—don’t argue it. God wants witnesses, not lawyers.

How will you proclaim the good news of Christ alive today? How can you witness to the Christ’s living presence in your life with the same joy and astonishment of the women who first encountered the empty tomb?

He is Risen, Alleluia, Alleluia!

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Inside the (empty!) tomb of Christ in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre – Jerusalem.

Originally written for and published in Life Teen Lenten Companion.

The Pope for Everyone

Meet the Pope!

Meet the Pope!

The Church as a whole has seemed overjoyed and hanging on every move of our gutsy new Pope, Francis. The fever ran high immediately: a Jesuit Pope? Just earlier that day I was having a conversation with someone about how there’ll never be a Jesuit Pope. Maybe not never, but not in my lifetime, that was I oh so convinced of. And then he chose the name Francis – it took a while to really get an answer about which St. Francis he was taking the name from – there are 3 pretty big name St. Francises (is that really the plural of Francis?) in our Church history. It came out later that he chose it after Francis of Assisi, for his love of the poor.

St. Ignatius of Loyola gave Jesuits 2 mottos: "for the greater glory of God" and "sinners yet called"

St. Ignatius of Loyola gave Jesuits 2 mottos: “for the greater glory of God” and “sinners yet called”

On top of all of that, he is an American pope – not from the USA, as we so easily think of America, but very clearly, he is a Pope from the Americas. And yet, his family has Italian roots – returning the Papacy to where it had been for hundreds of years prior to Blessed John Paul II.

Ok, so we’ve got an Italian and an American Pope, a Jesuit who took the name Francis.

Everyone got this guy figured out yet? Me neither. And my guess is, the second you think you’ve got Pope Francis figured out, you’re just begging to be proven wrong. Read More

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 Changing of the Seasons

It’s often considered “the most wonderful time of the year.”  To many people, even more wonderful than the ACTUAL “most wonderful time of the year” (the birth of Our Lord and Savior).

It’s the changing of the seasons.  And, no.  I’m not talking about the weather-related changes from the warmth and sun of the summer to the coolness and colors of the fall.

Supporting a team while keeping things in perspective

No, I’m talking about the changing of the sports seasons from baseball to football.  Or, as most people understand it in my state, from “not football season” to “football, y’all.”

It’s hard not to love football when you’ve spent your entire life living in the greatest conference of the NCAA and having your entire society revolve around one of the greatest team rivalries in college football.  Some might even argue that this is, in f act, the greatest state FOR college football (at least, in the past decade or so).



(NOTE:  I’m not saying that it IS the greatest state for it, I’m saying that many in this state might argue such.  So, anyone from Texas, Buckeyes, Californians, Sooners, and whoever else disagrees need not send me hate mail or comments touting your state’s glories.  I know there’s lots of great college states out there.)



Anyways, I have to admit that, yes, i DO in fact love football season.  Maybe it is because of the changing temperatures and getting to break out my jeans again.  Maybe it’s the beat of a drum line on a Friday night, echoing across high school campuses.  Maybe it’s the tailgating, wearing your team’s colors, and uniting with fans of the same team, even if you don’t know each other. Read More