Saturday, December 25, 2010

Mary's Prayer

A priest gave this writing by Max Lucado as his homily a few Christmas's ago, and it touched me very deeply. I hope it touches you in some way too. Have a blessed and Merry Christmas, and may the baby Jesus find a place to rest his tiny head in the stillness of your heart this Christmas day.

God. O infant-God. Heaven’s fairest child. Conceived by the union of divine grace with our disgrace. Sleep well.

Sleep well. Bask in the coolness of this night bright with diamonds. Sleep well, for the heat of anger simmers nearby. Enjoy the silence of the crib, for the noise of confusion rumbles in your future. Savor the sweet safety of my arms, for a day is soon coming when I cannot protect you.

Rest well, tiny hands. For though you belong to a king, you will touch no satin, own no gold. You will grasp no pen, guide no brush. No, your tiny hands are reserved for works more precious:

to touch a leper’s open wound,

to wipe a widow’s weary tear,

to claw the ground of Gethsemane.
Your hands, so tiny, so white - clutched tonight in an infant’s fist. They aren’t destined to hold a scepter nor wave from a palace balcony. They are reserved instead for a Roman spike that will staple them to a Roman cross.

Sleep deeply, tiny eyes. Sleep while you can. For soon the blurriness will clear and you will see the mess we have made of your world.
You will see our nakedness, for we cannot hide.

You will see our selfishness, for we cannot give.

You will see our pain, for we cannot heal.

O eyes that will see hell’s darkest pit and witness her ugly prince … sleep, please sleep; sleep while you can.

Lie still, tiny mouth. Like still, mouth from which eternity will speak.

Tiny tongue that will soon summon the dead, that will define grace, that will silence our foolishness.

Rosebud lips - upon which rid a starborn kiss of forgiveness to those who believe you, and of death to those who deny you - lie still.

And tiny feet cupped in the palm of my hand, rest. For many difficult steps lie ahead for you.

Do you taste the dust of the trails you will travel?

Do you feel the cold seawater upon which you will walk?

Do you wrench at the invasion of the nail you will bear?

Do you fear the steep descent down the spiral staircase into Satan’s domain?

Rest, tiny feet. Rest, so that tomorrow you might walk with power. Rest. For millions will follow in your steps.

And little heart … holy heart … pumping the blood of life through the universe: How many times will we break you?

You’ll be torn by the thorns of our accusations.

You’ll be ravaged by the cancer of our sin.

You’ll be crushed under the weight of your own sorrow.

Any you’ll be pierced by the spear of our rejection.

Yet in that piercing, in that ultimate ripping of muscle and membrane, in that final rush of blood and water, you will find rest. Your hands will be freed, your eyes will see justice, your lips will smile, and your feet will carry you home.

And there you’ll rest again this time in the embrace of your Father.

Friday, December 24, 2010

A Peacful Christmas Eve

"In this night of reconciliation, let none be angry or gloomy. In this night that stills everything, let nothing threaten or disturb. This night belongs to the sweet One; let nothing bitter or harsh be in it. In this night that belongs to the meek One, let there be nothing high or haughty. In this day of pardoning, let us not exact punishments for trespasses."


-St. Ephraem the Syrian

Monday, December 20, 2010

Extreme Teething

What, you haven't heard of it? Apparently it's the latest baby craze. What these babies are doing is one day they just completely stop eating and cause their mother to become painfully engorged. Then they worry their parents to death by not eating for another four days except for a few sips from a syringe here and there. They worry their parents so much that they decide to take them to the emergency room because their doctor told them that the baby is probably dehydrated. When the baby gets to the emergency room the doctor will explain to their parents that the reason for the eating strike is teething. That's right, the silly parents went to the emergency room for teething. The parents try to explain to the doctors that, really, they don't care about the teething, they just want to make sure the baby is hydrated, but to no avail. The doctors keep trying to solve the teething problem, and then finally administer IV fluids as if to make the parents feel like there was a REAL reason for coming to the emergency room.

My daughter doesn't do anything half-a**. Not even teething. I kind of love that about her, as stupid as it makes me look sometimes. Who goes to the ER for teething...

Friday, December 10, 2010

Things I'm Thankful For This Holiday Season

1. Parents on both sides of our family who are willing to fly in at the drop of a hat anytime we need them. The military is lonely at times, especially when you need help and have no family around. I'm so thankful our family has always been here in our times of need. I'm particularly thankful that my mother-in-law flew in to help over this time of sickness in our lives.

2. Watching my Peanut use such good manners and be so loving. He says "Tu-Tu Me" (excuse me) every time he  burps, sneezes or needs to get by someone. He also hands his sister toys and says, "yeargo Baa" (Here you go Belle).

3. The end of my husbands school semester. The fact that he only has one left.

4. The means to travel to see family over the holiday season.

5. My Catholic faith during the season of Advent. I marvel in the richness of this season and the readings at mass. I would feel so empty if this season was nothing more than buying gifts and sending cards.

6. My sisters, who I am missing very much during these holidays.

7. My husband who works so hard for this family and my children who are healthy and growing every day.

8. Watching Peanut learn the story of Christmas and become obsessed with Mary, St. Joseph and particularly the baby Jesus. He always wants to hold him and kiss him, even if it's just in his story books.

What are you thankful for this advent season?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Defferent Kind of Advent

At the begining of this Advent season I was so determined not to let another Church season pass by without using it to grow closer to Christ and thrive in the richness of the season with joyful expectation of the Baby Jesus' arrival. I had pious resolutions to put our television in a closet and replace it with a statue I own of a pregnant Virgin Mary (I still plan to do this in a week or so). I gave up facebook (which I could write a post about all in it's own) and I resolved to read from a devotional every morning. But Christ had something so much more special for me to start this Advent season, and it has helped me grow closer to Him much better than any of my personal resolutions would have done.

As I stated in my last post, my family has been very sick. Peanut started out with a high fever, crying all the time, miserable with a horrible ear infection. I was to follow with a lost voice and sore throat. When we returned home from Thanksgiving my husband became very sick with terrible fever, cold, body aches, puking and pink eye that was so bad he couldn't even open his eye. My little Belle followed with fever and pink eye. Needless to say, we were all sick. But as you moms out there know, moms can't get sick. There is no time for personal rest when your family is sick. Only self sacrifice, which is the fastest way to the heart of Christ.

For this Advent season I have had the blessing of being able to serve my family in their illness. I have been engulfed for the past two weeks in nothing but their care. All of my personal obligations for play dates and book clubs have ceased, and I have locked myself in the home to tend to their needs. What better than suffering and servitude to make a heart long for a peace that only the Christ Child can bring? Somehow in the smallness of my very own home I have come, through this illness, to experience a longing of heart for better health and a hope for a new day. A longing that surely the Jewish people felt as they anxiously awaited their savior in their hundreds of years of "advent".

Christ had much bigger plans for me this advent season than I could have ever planned for myself, and I am so thankful for that. May your advent bring you a longing for hope and a peace of heart that only the Christ Child can bring.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Sick Sick Sick

I am sorry for my lack of posts lately, but my entire little family got sick over Thanksgiving and we are still recovering. Thanksgiving was filled with no voice for me, a sick two year old with a 104 fever and a double ear infection that got so bad it caused his ear to bleed, a husband with fever and body aches and was topped off with a case of HORRIBLE pink eye for my husband and my little Belle. Don't get me wrong, the company and food was great, but we are still sick around here. Please keep us in your prayers and I will be writing again as soon as I'm done being nurse mommy and nurse wife. St. Lucy, pray for us.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Why I don't Exercise

Wanted to take the kids for a walk today. Just a short simple walk. Fed Peanut so he wouldn't be hungry half-way through. Put shoes on both kids. Couldn't find my shoes. Spent 30 minutes looking for shoes. Settled on a different pair. Found the pair I wanted on the way out the door. Switched shoes. Baby pooped. Changed diaper. Peanut poops. Change another diaper. Load kids in stroller. Go to get dog and realize he doesn't have a collar on. Forget where I put collar. Spend 10 minutes looking for collar. Put dog on leash and head down the driveway. Roll my ankle and go sliding down driveway on knee (in new pants, by the way). Make sure neighbor didn't see. He did. Go back up driveway so he doesn't see me start to cry. Lose all pride I ever had. Tell myself I was too far to turn around now. Walk around the block limping half the way checking on my bloody knee every five minutes. See why I don't exercise?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Following

If the spiritual life is filled with peaks and valleys, I am definitely in a valley. My prayer life is completely dry, and I am lucky if I remember to say my daily offering. Every night I kneel at my bed to say my usual night time prayers and think, "I hardly thought of you at all today, Lord. How easily I forget about you these days." I know we all have valley's, but I don't like them. I don't like them at all.

Last weekend we needed to attend the Saturday evening vigil mass, because we were helping with a pro-life university outreach all day on Sunday. I really don't like theSaturday vigil mass. In my experience, most people attend it with the attitude of "getting church over with" and come in with shorts and a Hawaiian shirt on at best. I was a little miffed at having to attend this mass, and even more miffed we had to attend a church I didn't particularly care for with a priest who reads canned homilies from the pulpit. Then my friend's words came to my mind. I remember him telling me, "pray to the Holy Spirit that He will give you some nugget of wisdom, no matter how superfluous the homily may be." So I did.

I asked the Holy Spirit for a nugget, and that's just what I got. Nothing more and nothing less. The kids were restless during mass and so was my mind. Just as the priest was wrapping up the homily I realized I had heard almost none of it and made one last attempt to listen. And then I heard this:

"And so you think of Him, but you do not follow Him."


Nugget. That short little sentence explains my valley. I think often of what I should be doing. I think of ways I should be living and think of prayers I should be praying. But I am not following. I am not doing, which is what following is all about. Following Christ demands action. Action that I am often to scared and down right lazy to take. But if I, a Christian woman, do not follow, do not act, who will? I am the salt of the earth. We are the salt of the earth. And it's time for action.
.



Monday, October 18, 2010

Gone Missing

I just wanted to let everyone know that I'm going on vacation (back to New Mexico) until next Monday. Sorry if posts are few (or none) until then! I'll leave you with one of my favorite saint quotes as I often like to do:

"Guard your eyes that they may not look upon anything contrary to purity; your ears, that they may not listen to evil conversation; your mind, by banishing from it all suggestive thoughts; your heart, by stifling impure desires at their very birth." - St. John Baptist de la Salle

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Housewives and Homemakers

When we first moved to Oklahoma, I was already pregnant and knew I would stay home with our children. Because of this I decided there was no point in finding a job that I would need to quit in a few short months. I would instead stay at home. Most days I would sleep in to my liking, clean up a little around the house and then find somewhere I could go or something I could do. I blamed my need for escape on cabin fever and could not stand spending a whole day in my house.

Now, even with two small children, I tend to do this. Granted, I cannot sleep in anymore, but my days are planned around where I can go that day or what errand I can run to get out of the house. I am constantly stressed about the mess of my house and feel I can never have company over without many hours notice (to clean before they come). The laundry is constantly piled and the toys are never picked up. Every time I walk in the door I feel a mound of stress creep up in my body dreading the massive amount of housework that I should be doing.

For nearly three years I have been a housewife, but I have not by any stretch of the imagination been a homemaker. Now, when I say homemaker, I am not talking about the "home" that you take everywhere with you. Not the "home is where the heart is" home, but the house part of the home. It is time for me to start embracing this part of my vocation as a mother and wife. For the first time in my married life, I am starting to embrace my home. I am enjoying becoming more organized, getting in a cleaning routine, and discovering healthy recipes to cook for my family. It is a wonderful feeling and something I feel God is really working on in my life right now. With this new found love for homemaking comes a drastic realization of what a lost art homemaking is. How many women do you know that keep a nice peaceful home while still cooking healthy meals and tending to cleaning and laundry. I know a few, but not many. I have learned, the hard way, that just because you stay home with your children, doesn't mean you have provided a home for them. I consider this to be a woman's obligation to her family, and an important part of her vocation. Taking care of your children and your home is a full time job, and maybe we have just shoved in too many "extra curricular activities" to be able to enjoy it.

So women, put on your apron, cook a nice homemade meal for your family and enjoy dinner at the table together. These are the memories your children will remember. This is the home they will love to come to. The home that you made for them.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Liking and Loving

My great friend and I were blessed last weekend to have a weekday wherein our husbands were off work. It was a beautiful Friday morning, so we all decided to go to the Science Museum. I love going to museums on weekdays. There are no crowds to worry about and people to shuffle through. I don't shuffle gracefully with a double stroller. Anyways, as we moseyed around the museum we passed several rather large families. My friend commented to me, "They must be all homeschoolers because it's a weekday and they aren't at school." I thought about it for a minute and then agreed saying, "Yeah must be. I wonder why that is: homeschoolers and big families seem to go together most of  the time." Then my friend, in her brilliance, stated,  "I don't know, maybe because they actually like their kids and want to have more and spend time with them."

BINGO!

That statement hit me like a ton of bricks. I don't think most people like their kids these days. I didn't say they don't love their children; that they wouldn't jump in front of a car for them, I'm saying they don't like them. Now, please don't be insulted if you don't homeschool or have a lot of children. If you say you like your kids, I believe you, I just think you are a rarity.

I have been struggling with something lately. This whole concept of "mommy-time", or whatever you want to call it. It seems to be on everyone's lips, "I need time away", "I need time for myself" etc. I do understand that mothers need adult conversation and time out of the house to spend with friends away from their day to day tasks. What I think can be a problem is the attitude with which we do this. Are we really doing these things to enjoy the companionship of other women and bask in much needed adult conversation, or are we doing it to get away from our children? Do we really enjoy the company of our children, or are we just waiting for our husbands to walk in the door to "relieve" us of our duty? Are our children an inconvenience that takes us away from what we really want to be doing, or have we adjusted our attitudes so that raising our children is what we want to be doing?

I think the sacrifice of child-rearing is what keeps a lot of people from having more. Children do take time, money, a whole bunch of patience and self-giving, but what better thing to do than raise an immortal soul for all eternity? It's time for mother's to start doing what we were made to do. To pour ourselves into our families totally and completely. To start changing our attitude towards our children and enjoying their littleness. Sure, go out and have a drink with your friends every once and a while. But I hope you like your kids enough to miss them while you're gone.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Real Thoughts

Usually when I write I have sort of themed posts; something I have been thinking of for a while, and decide to write about. Today I just want to share some random real thoughts I have been having lately.

1. Two has got to be the most interesting age to watch unfold. I'm not talking about the kid, I'm talking about kids parents. I've watched at least a dozen times since my child turned two, parents give in to their children after fit throwing a whining. Not to say I've never done this, but I like to think that I'm the boss of my kid, not the other way around.

2. I watched today as my son imitated me in his speech and demeanor after I got annoyed with my husband and bickered at him. It hit me then that it's not in really big things that you mess up as a parent, but in the little, everyday things. I think kids can especially get screwed up when we don't treat our spouse with charity. This is where I fail as an example to my children and a wife to my husband. I'm quick to snap. Must pray harder.

3. I met a really great group of Catholic women this week (the Lord gaveth!). They go out once a month for a "Mommy's night out". Of course it has to be on a Tuesday, the day my husband has night school. Did I mention how much I hate my husband going to night school. I hate my husband going to night school.

4. We are trying to change the way we eat around here. It's overwhelming thinking of all the changes that need to be made. I bought a Vitamix thinking it would help us eat more whole foods. I had to have it in red, so I have to wait ten days for it to get here. It's been a loooong ten days.

5. Every night I go to bed feeling a little guilty about what I fed my son for the day. So many people say, "only feed him healthy foods and don't worry about his weight" and others say, "just feed him whatever will put the weight on him (i.e. sugary foods). I have been dealing with this issue for a year and a half now and I am worn out. Can you hook a two year old up to a feeding tube?

6. Miss Belle is already crawling (well, army crawling) and can get into everything. Where did my few months of peace and immobility go? 5 month olds are not supposed to crawl.

7. I'm thinking we, as a family, may need to start going to The Latin Mass. In these times of trial and change, I don't know how much more liturgical abuse and lack of community I can take. I find it funny that all these Novus Ordo churches (for those who aren't Catholic, those are churches who use the new mass, not the Latin) are so focused on community, but when I want real community and real friendships I need to go to a Latin Mass where the entire focus is solely on Christ. Valerie, if you are reading this, you were right.

8. We have been waiting for Peanut to start talking for quite some time. Now that he has, I'm not sure I like it. I told him we would go to the park today when his daddy got home. As soon as my husband walked in the door I had to listen to "Park, Park Park, Park, Park" for 30 minutes straight. I guess God wants me to have more patience. I think they should use two year olds for torture interrogation methods.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Turning Two

My son turned two yesterday. Two years old. How could it have gone by so fast? My husband and I stayed up late talking in bed the night before his birthday, "Do you remember how scared I was to have a c-section? Remember how cute he was when we saw him for the first time?


"Remember how tiny he was? How you could place your hand on his back and it would cover his whole body? How when you burped him, it felt like he might break?"



"Do you remember how we used to have to feed him with a syringe because he didn't have enough fat in his cheeks to latch on?"

"Do you remember how well he used to fit in your arms?"


"Do you remember when he first started sitting, and first started walking?"


"He is such a good little boy", my husband commented. I then started talking about how we should probably move him out of his crib and into a big bed. And then I started sobbing and saying, "no, no he has to stay in his crib! If he moves to a big bed, that means he isn't a baby anymore! That means he is all grown up and it's all over, and I'm not ready for him not to be a baby anymore."

And then I cried. And cried. And cried.

Tonight I mourn the loss of a baby and look forward to getting to know a little boy. Son, you have brought more joy to my life than you will ever know. You are my heart.

I love you,
Mama



Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Lord Giveth and The Lord Taketh Away

I never really understood that verse fully until I became part of the military family. Lately, it seems the Lord has done a lot more taking than giving. I feel as though He is stripping me from all comforts, all companions at this time in life.

I haven't made many friends in my short time in Oklahoma. I am somewhere in between an extrovert and introvert. I'm not the type that just goes up to someone and tells them my life story, but will definitely talk if someone initiates. In the past years, I have grown tired of "becoming friends" with people who I can't talk to about real issues (i.e. my faith) and have to keep my  mouth shut around. This has been a big part of my lack of friends in this area. I have, however, made two very good friends while I have been here. The kind who go through life with you. The kind  you can call just because your day has been really crappy. The kind that you can share a little piece of your soul with.

The Lord, in his wisdom, has decided to take both these people away from me at around the same time. As my husband talks of future deployment and both my true friends start preparing for their new life, I am left here. Alone. I don't fear many things, but to be completely and totally honest, I fear loneliness. One of these friends once prayed so beautifully, "Don't give me family, O God, but make me an orphan. So that in my lonliness,  I may learn to turn to You for comfort."  I wish I could pray these words with sincerity. What I really want to say is, "Why Lord? Why do you take them from me? Humans need companionship like they need air. Are you sure you know what you are doing?"


The military is a funny thing in that, whatever friends you make, you know with certainty you will have to say goodbye to them. It's like this constant, dreary, anxious cloud that hangs over your head, knowing these people, this life you have made in this city,  will be incredibly short lived. Right when you feel rooted somewhere, those roots are pulled from under you. I do trust the Lord, though. I do. I may not understand His reasons, but I trust them. He will take care of me. In my loneliness and search for new friends, He will be my companion and guide. If I can not be rooted in a permanent home, I will have to root myself deep in Him.     

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Freedom in Humility

"Conquer yourself and the world lies at your feet" -St. Thomas Aquinas

My sister made me a CD to listen to in the car. The very last song is the Litany of Humility in Song. If you are not familiar with the Litany of Humility take a minute to read it. Heck, take a minute to pray it. 

O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From
 the desire of being esteemed,

Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being loved...
From the desire of being extolled ...
From the desire of being honored ...
From the desire of being praised ...
From the desire of being preferred to others...
From the desire of being consulted ...
From the desire of being approved ...
From the fear of being humiliated ...
From
 the fear of being despised...
From the fear of suffering rebukes ...
From the fear of being calumniated ...
From the fear of being forgotten ...
From the fear of being ridiculed ...
From the fear of being wronged ...
From the fear of being suspected ...
That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be esteemed more than I ...
That, in the opinion of the world,
others may increase and I may decrease ...
That others may be chosen and I set aside ...
That others may be praised and I unnoticed ...
That others may be preferred to me in everything...
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become holy as I should...


Kind of hard to pray isn't it? I have come to love this Litany. There is so much freedom in it. Think about if you could truly perfect this litany. If you were delivered from fears and desires that really only matter to man. If you desired nothing more than to be humble in the eyes of Christ. What's standing in the way that is keeping me from totally living for Christ? Me. I'm standing in my own way with my pride. My fears and  my desires for worldly praise keep me from being who God calls me to be. I feel hopeless in this battle against myself. I lose it daily. But watch out self. Move aside because someone else is coming in. My Father is GOD, and He hears my prayer.  

Friday, September 10, 2010

Being Where You Are

My husband I are both up for new cell phones. We have been for sometime, but neither of us can decided what to get. Let me rephrase that, my husband knows exactly what he wants, and I don't want him to get it. I want the simplest phone possible. Just a phone that can call, text and take a picture. Plain and simple. My husband, on the other hand, wants one of those fancy things that starts with a D and ends with a ROID. You know, the phone with the app that can tell you when you are going to die, how many kids you will have and whether or not you will have steak for dinner tonight? Yeah, that one.

I generally don't put restrictions on things my husband wants (except a motorcycle and things we can't afford), but here's the thing with the phone: I don't want my husband to take me to dinner and bring a third party (who happens to know EVERYTHING) along. I don't want to sit at the dinner table, having a discussion about something, and him magically find it on his phone. I like the discussing part, thank you very much. I'm not sure I like the idea of always being connected and having an app that can do everything but eat, sleep and...well you get the picture.

We went to a wedding a few weeks ago and got sat at a table with a bunch of people my husband went to college with. About forty five minutes in to the reception I observed something. Every single person at the table, including myself, started checking and playing with our cell phones. What did we think we were missing? A really cool status update? A call from the president? It was like an alcoholic who needed a shot. People today are literally addicted to technology and need a "fix" every hour or so. I'm not putting the blame on everyone else, although I don't do this so much with my phone, I'm terrible with a computer on hand.

When did we lose the ability to just sit and be with one another? When did it suddenly become o.k. to pick up your phone and check Facebook in the middle of a conversation. Do you honestly feel comfortable telling a friend something of importance when they are sitting and texting the whole time? Which leads me to my next question, who are we missing out on getting to know and what's not being said because of cell phones?

So, next time you are with a friend, or better yet your spouse, turn off the phone, be where you are and listen. Heck, they may even have something more important than a status update to say.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Top Ten Surprising Things

I got tagged in a meme by the mom (who is awesome by the way) to list the top ten things I have done that surprise me. So, here it goes:

1. I got engaged at 18 and married at 20.
2. I chose having babies over finishing college. I was supposed to be a doctor ya know.
3. I've talked to hundreds of random college students about abortion with a graphic, twenty foot, 3-sided exhibit behind me.
4. I've worked with post abortive women through Rachel's Vineyard.
5. I have a daughter. I always thought I would have all boys.
6. I'm a military wife. I always wanted to stay close to home.
7. I live in Oklahoma. Refer to number 6.
8. I'm able to clean up vomit on a regular basis without vomiting myself.
9. I actually wanted to give birth naturally and then did it (and liked it!).
10. If I really need to, I can nurse a baby while they are still in their car seat.

Since I don't have as many followers as most of the people doing this, I'm only going to tag 4 people (you are supposed to tag 5 to keep it going). I tag:

Megan at Heart of St. Monica
Katie at Sometimes Lonely
Andrea (with the cool name) at The Mantilla Diaries
Laura at Little Bee

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Picking Dad

As promised, here is the "more on that later" that I promised in my last post. After my mom and I drew names for the fast for everyone, my mom made a comment that it would be neat if we picked names of people that were particularly hard for us to fast for. I told her my dad would be hard for me to fast for. It's not that I like my dad any less than anyone else I could have picked, it's just that, in my eyes, my dad is still my hero. I'm still 9 years old and think he can do no wrong. I can't see what he needs. 

I'll admit it, I'm selfish. A big part of me wanted to see to benefit of my fasting. My sisters and I share a lot with each other. They know my struggles and I know theirs. Same with my mom, and of course I'm married to my husband so he would have been a good pick too. With everyone I could have picked, except my dad, I could literally name a struggle they had, and offer my fast for that struggle. I could be specific. Men in general don't like to admit their shortcomings, especially to their own daughters. I think picking my dad was God's way of forcing me to give it all to Him, and not make it about me.

It's day two of the fast. I'm having sugar withdraws. Literally. It's much worse than I thought. Headaches, cravings, the whole shabang. I never realized how much I give in to every little craving until now. So dad, here's to you; for whatever special graces you may be needing in your life right now. Even though I can't see it, I know these sacrifices are not for nothing.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Lent in September

"Self-denial is the root of all virtue" 


After reading my last post, my sister sent me a text that read, "Hey! I just read your blog. Do you want to give up one thing from your list and we will fast for each other?"

What a brilliant idea! Of course, I said yes and began to discern what I would give up. I decided to tell my mom about it. She wanted in on the fast and graces that would come from it. She told my dad about it, he wanted in to. My older sister found out and joined the gang, and I thought my husband would feel just plum left out if he found out we were all doing this without him, so he is in on it too. A huge family fast...in the month of September.

The next day, my mom and I placed all our names in a basket and prayed for the Holy Spirit to help guide and strengthen us all in our fast. We then picked names (from oldest to youngest) for each person to fast for. I picked my dad (more on that later). My husband picked me. I told him he better pick something big to give up!

I decided to give up sweets for the fast (refer to number one on my list: food). I picked this because it was the only one of my attachments that involve just me, and thus seems the easiest to start with. The rest would require compliance from my husband, so I'm saving them for a later date. Anyways, we decided not to start until the first (that's tomorrow, ya know?) so we could all pray about what we were going to fast from and then pray for the strength to fast. So here it goes...no sweets for thirty days. Hopefully and prayerfully, this 30 day act of self-denial will root me in the virtue of temperance and self-control.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Attachments

"When we are who we are called to be, we set the world ablaze" -St. Catherine of Sienna

I love this quote. It hangs on my refridgerator and I read it often. Usually I read it with a moment of awe, and then sadness comes sweeping over me. I am not who I am called to be. There are certain things, I feel, that keep me from being the woman God wants me to be. Attachments to worldy things I just can't seem to break away from. At the top of this very long list is:

Food: As Americans, I'm sure we all struggle with this one. But I happen to have an enormous sweet tooth. I can't even keep them in the house it's so bad. You've never seen a bag of Oreos disapear so fast in your life. The thing that bugs me most is when I walk into the kitchen, not hugry, and I hear God saying, "Give this one to me. Deny yourself and grow in temperance"  and then I eat four cookies.

Movies: My husband and I love to watch movies. Unfortunately, over the years, we have collected some that are extremely violent and some with quite a bit of pre-marital sexual relationships in them. A lot of people say to let this one go, that it's just a movie. But if Christ were sitting on my couch, I would be ashamed for some of our movies to be playing on the television. I have gone to clean the movies out many times and every time, I just can't. I alway think, "I paid so much for this." or "This one is so funny!"  Yeah, guess who's going to be laughing on judgement day. Not me. It's like some supernatural force (satin?) keeps me from taking the movies from the video stand to the trash.

Television: We don't have cable at our house, and by "don't have cable" I mean we don't have one single channel on our television. I do, however, own a few television series I really enjoy. I don't have too much guilt over watching these, except for the fact that my husband and I usually watch them in place of saying our daily prayers, or learning more about our faith. Someday, today actually, God will ask how I spent my time. I'd like to say I spent at least a little in prayer. I don't think saying, "watching The Office" is very pleasing to Him.

Computer: I love getting on the computer. I love checking facebook, reading blogs, and responding to e-mails. The thing is, I think I've gone overboard lately. It's become an addiction instead of a means for communication. I check my facebook every half hour and I feel like I'm neglecting my children when I get on the computer. Heck, who am I kidding, I am neglecting my children when I get on the computer. How can I be truly present to them, when I am reading or writing something else? (As a side note, I only blog when they are asleep, which is why sometimes my post are few and far between). What kind of example am I setting for them when every free second I get I spend it on the computer?

Obviously there is a lot for me to work on. I would really like to get to the root caust as to why I am attached to these things. I just feel very blessed to have a Heavenly Father that is patient, because otherwise I'm sure He would have given up on me a long time ago.

What are you attached to? How to you go about breaking free from these attachments? I would love some ideas!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Persecution

I have a big fear. The fear is that, one day in the future, I will be asked to choose between my life and Christ and I will choose the former. I pray often that if the opportunity for martyrdom should come my way, that I would be given the grace to faithfully and boldly choose Christ. These aren't just words, I literally pray for this all the time.

I'm not a superstitious person. I'm not one you see reading all the apparitions and the book of Revelation trying to figure out what's going to happen next or when the world is going to end. I generally try to live for today, not tomorrow. But recently, something has changed both in my life and that of my family. Persecution. Persecution for holding true to our faith. To be honest, there have always been the "normal" daily persecutions of "you guys worship saints, the pope is the anti-Christ, blah blah blah..." But recent persecution has come from our own friends and even our own family. Even if the world is not going to end tomorrow, I think anyone can see that something is going on out there, something is changing in the intensity and force of the way Satan is acting in our world.

I came across this status update the other day on my Facebook page:

"Getting hammered on the blood of christ is f****** metal". 

Shocker, I know.  I of course, responded to the update, not trying to convince this person of the true prescence of the Eucharist (trust me, I have already spent hundreds of hours in discussion about this with this person) but merely trying to come to an agreement that this was extremely offensive to Catholics and disrespectful to other people's religion. No agreement could be made. In fact, after a while of conversering over the internet, other people started to chime in with comments like:

"I drank the whole cup once. I'm pretty sure it was Easter Vigil, and my mom woke me up for Communion. Y'know, a kid is thirsty when he first wakes up."


and:


"Religion doesn't have to be respected. It shouldn't be respected. It's superstitious, credulous, stifling of reason, and an exaltation of faith, believing things without evidence. People are indoctrinated at infancy and taught never to question those beliefs. Then, they are insulted by those who prefer reason and rationalism. They are owed no special privilege not to be offended. 'Philosophy is questions that may never be answered. Religion is answers that may never be questioned.'"


What a crazy time to be living in. A time where the very idea of God is not only disrespected, but seemingly repulsive. What kind of future can this attitude (one that is becoming more and more popular) possibly hold for Christians? It seems there is a very fine line between not respecting a person's religion and not respecting the person. People today seem to be getting a little too close to that line. I can think of a few times in history where that line was crossed, where one group of people thought that another group of people were undeserving of respect in any form, and we all know how that story ended. God forbid I or my children should ever have to live through something as horrific as the holocaust. But still, even if we do, I am still so thankful for this faith. A faith worth dying for.

***Update: Click on over to The Mantilla Diaries to watch an awesome video on dying for the Faith (plus, you'll love this girl, she has a great name!).

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

From Sister to Friend

St. Lawrence, Pray for Us.

Dear Laura,
A year seems like such a short time, yet so much has changed in this year for you. Heck, who am I kidding, the last few years have been a roller coaster of change for you. In the past few years I have seen you go from a girl who seemed to only care about her feelings and her problems to a glorious woman rooted in finding and doing God's will in her life. I have seen you turn from a girl who spent her spare time with friends doing "normal" teenage stuff, to a woman who spends every second of her free time in prayer, studying scripture or defending the unborn. What a miraculous and wonderful transformation this has been to see. You have grown so much in the last few years.

You see Laura, sometime in the last year something changed. Somewhere along the road you were no longer my baby sister, you became my friend. A friend much braver and holier than me. A friend who would spend a whole year saving money so she could go to a good Catholic University. A friend who had the courage to stand on the streets of a busy highway defending the unborn and be unjustly arrested. Oh, to have your courage! How I wish I had the courage to stand on the sidewalks of the abortion clinics and speak to the hurting women who walk through those doors, to try and talk a security guard into quitting his job. How I wish I had so much trust in the Lord as to give up everything, beg for other people's money and go work for a non profit organization in hopes that maybe just one of the innocent would be saved. Yes, my sweet sister, sometime in this short year, the tables turned. I stopped needing to teach you, to give you advice. Instead, I started looking to you as an example, an example of faith and of trust.

On this 20th celebration of the year of your birth, please know that you bring great joy to everyone you meat and everyone you know. And not just any joy, but the joy of Christ. Your timeless sense of humor and contagious laugh brighten everyone's day. The laughs we have shared and the tears we have cried are forever imprinted in my mind and I am forever grateful for them. I am eternally gratefull you.

Happy Birthday my sweet little sister. Happy Birthday my friend.

I love you,
Dre Dre

Thursday, August 5, 2010

My Second Conscious

There are many expectations I had when I found out I was a mother, but one aspect of motherhood I did not expect was how often my children bring me to my knees. I'm not talking about falling to my knees because of parental failings (which happen often I assure you), but more because my children convict me every single day. Especially these days.

Peanut has entered the "imitation" phase of childhood. You know, the one where he likes to copy everything I do and (at least attempt) to repeat everything I say?  Yeah, that one. Anyways, I found out he had entered this phase the other day after I had a kids movie playing on the television. An innocent children's movie that I put on while trying to get him to drink some pediasure. In one scene in this movie, a male character becomes angry and starts yelling and throwing his fist in the air. After I turned the film off, my 22 month old son went around for a good half hour yelling and throwing his fist up in the air. Wow. The other day I dropped something and let the S-H word slip from my lips and my son promptly said it right after me (this is the kid who says all of 4 words). Great. And then there was me yelling at my husband from our living room to bring me a diaper in a somewhat annoyed tone. Peanut, sitting right next to me, yells and points his finger in the direction of his father.

Having a two year old who imitates things is like having a spiritual mirror to look into every day. I no longer have to make a long examination of conscious before confession because my son is always reminding me of how I fail everyday when he imitates actions that are obviously not virtuous. When people tell you they are like little sponges, this is no exaggeration. I will no longer ever use the excuse,  "oh, it doesn't matter he is too young to understand" when watching a movie or listening to something I maybe shouldn't. Furthermore, this has me thinking, if I don't like Peanut to imitate this action, should I really be doing it or watching it in the first place? Society today has this crazy mentality that you have to be a certain age of "maturity" to sin. Take PG-13 movies for instance; all this is really saying is that society thinks that 13 is a decent age to introduce your kids to sex, violence and cussing. But should any of us really be watching these sort of things? 

I think everyone needs a little toddler to follow them around and imitate their every action. Surely people would act better. As for me, I will be forever grateful to my son for opening my eyes to the things I need to change about myself. This little tiny child makes me a better person everyday. Now that's humbling...

Saturday, July 31, 2010

We're Back!

Thank God. Vegas is as bad as ever; I still don't like that city and really have no plans to go back in the future. My husband and I both agreed that if our son was even a little older we could never bring him there. I have seen a lot in my days and Vegas can still shock me and make my heart sink with the deep rooted sin and objectification of women. Some of the most notable signs that show one just how bad this city is:

A sign that said, "Surrender" with the S shaped like a snake with an apple in it.
A sign that read, "Seven deadly sins? We demand a recount."
And my absolute favorite, a sign for "Tao Nightclub" that read, "Worship Thursdays. The way the Vegas Industry Prays" with a picture of a half naked woman on it.

I realize as I write these that many people write them off as, "Oh it's just Vegas. That's just the 'culture' there". And to be completely honest, in the few days I was there, I became numb to it as well. The naked women and awful signs became 'normal' and just a part of my daily life there. The sickening affect they had on me the first day quickly left, and the wight on my conscious for even looking at the massive signs was severely lessoned. How sad. How quickly we can become accustomed and comfortable with sin when it surrounds us. But doesn't it surround us everyday? Granted, not as "in your face" as it is in Vegas, but really it's everywhere. And maybe I have become numb to it. Numb and used to the sex scenes in movies, to the homosexual relationships in almost every television show, to the tons of people I know who live a lifestyle of sin, and worst of all to my own sins of selfishness, pride and sloth. The sad and sometimes scary thing is that although I may be used to these sins, although they are normal to me, they are not to God. They are as shocking and as displeasing to Christ as they were at the beginning of time. My life and my sins are probably just a mini-Vegas to Him.

All of this has come down to one simple resolution: to beg Our Lord for a more sensitive conscious. One that is shocked and displeased with the slightest of sins and one that is being constantly formed into something that is pleasing to Him.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Sin City

My husband, kids and I are going to Las Vegas next week. My husband has a business trip that I decided to tag along on. While most people these days would be thrilled to go to Vegas, I am not so much. Although I am excited to show Peanut the water display at the Bellagio and the animals at Circus Circus, I cannot help but thinking how much this city must displease our Lord. This is a city where men and women gather to drink in excessive amounts and spend imprudent amounts of money on gambling. This is a city where women sell their bodies, legally might I add, for a cheap price and men sell their souls to their lustful sins. In all honesty it makes me physically sick to think of the souls lost in this place and all the evil that goes on there. There is a big reason they call it sin city. I feel as if I am entering some sort of spiritual warfare, not going on vacation. Why do people, Christians in particular, find this place so alluring? Aren't we supposed to stay away from temptations?

Our Lord, as always, is taking care of me through this vacation. Firstly, my in laws have decided to join us which keeps me from having to stay in a hotel by myself all day. Secondly, our Lord has blessed my family with the means to be able to go to this place together. I for one don't want my husband walking around a city that routinely shoves pictures of naked women in your hands. I assure you my husband is a very noble and chaste man, but I don't care how virtuous a man might be, Las Vegas is not the place to go alone. I'm taking my rosary and holy water and plan on dousing the place with it. Maybe it will just melt away...

So, my friends, please pray that my family and I will have an enjoyable time on this vacation next week. More importantly, please pray that we may all stay far away from anything displeasing to our Lord.  

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Lost Stages

My main purpose in my day to day life is to serve God by teaching my children. It amazes me, though, how often they teach me. Peanut has always been interested in the world. From the moment he came out of the womb he has been attentive and alert, taking in everything around him. I love to watch him discover the world. Throughout his short life he has gone through many stages where he is interested in different things. First it was airplanes, then birds, then dogs, monkeys, horses, lawn mowing, and bugs. When I say "interested" what I really mean is obsessed. When he was interested in birds, he would literally spend all day looking out the window, watching and waiting for the birds to come and go. I spent many hours with him, explaining what the birds were doing, who made the birds and so forth. The funny thing is, I never got bored watching the birds or looking at pictures of monkeys or even showing him the lawn mower man for the thousandth time. I found and continue to find joy in discovering the world with my son.

I'm always sad when a stage passes. Now Peanut passes by birds without a second look. They have become something normal and routine that no longer catches his tiny eye. Yet, they are the same birds he once spent hours marveling at. So Peanut has me thinking, have I become this way with God? How many times a day do I pass Him in His glory, in His creation, without a second look? When I was discovering my faith I spent hours marveling at Him, seeking Him and waiting for His reply. Now, as a mother, I must learn to rediscover Him in the everyday things and remember to seek Him out when I am frustrated, tired and lonesome. This has been my greatest struggle in my faith lately. I never imagined my children would help me in my faith journey so incredibly much. I understand more and more each day the verse "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."  I hope to become more like my son, to find amazement in the seemingly small things in life. And I hope that Christ never becomes a lost stage, or a passing interest for myself or my children. 

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

You Know Your Kid Is Catholic When

I recently bought Peanut a toilet training potty. Not necessarily because he is ready to be trained, but just to get him used to the idea of sitting on the potty. Brilliant me decided to actually put him on the potty and see if he would go (secretly wishing I had some prodigy child who would magically train himself after one use). After about 5 minutes of waiting for him to go, I decided to let some warm water flow on his legs to stimulate him to go. I took a cup of water and let it flow on his thigh into the training potty and waited. Peanut, with a curious look on his face, looks at the water, then at me, then at the water again. I could tell his brain was working. He then reached between his tiny legs into the water and brought his hand up to make a very reverent Sign of the Cross. I guess you know your kid is Catholic when he thinks his training potty is a holy water font. Maybe he is further away from understanding the whole potty training concept than I thought.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Having a Bad Day?

"If God sends you many sufferings, it is a sign that He has great plans for you and certainly wants to make you a saint. If you desire to become a great saint, ask Him to send you much suffering. To enkindles the fire of divine love, the best wood is that of the cross, which Our Lord used for His great sacrifice of love."

-St. Ignatius Loyola

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Natural Family Planning Rocks: Part II



Natural Family Planning Rocks: Part I


*Please note that many of these examples used in this entry came from Dr. Janet Smith in her CD "Contraception: Why Not?" 

Of my many passions, natural family planning has got to be near the top of the list. I love telling people about it and am always advocating that people give it a try. Before I tell you why, I should state that I believe NFP should only be used to avoid pregnancy for grave reasons such as not being able to afford a child, rather than because you want to drive an Escalade and live in a 5,000 square foot home. That being said, here are the reasons why NFP rocks:

Communication Between Partners: How often do you think people who are using artificial contraception have to talk about expanding their family? I figure maybe once every few months at the most. In fact, I would say that for most couples it is more like a few times a year. Couples who use NFP, however, HAVE to talk about it at least  once a month, if not more often. They are in constant discernment about whether God wants more children for them in this part of their lives and must make a decision to either be apart during a women's fertile time or come together and have more children.

Communications with God: A faithful Christian couple who uses NFP must also always be in communication with our Lord as to what he wants of their family. Because our fertility comes in cycles, the couple must consistently reevaluate God's wants for their family. If the couple is using NFP to avoid pregnancy for a grave reason, they must also pray and discern if these reasons still exist and if God wants them to be open to more children.

Same as Birth Control?: Some people say that NFP is the same as birth control because both are used to avoid pregnancy. I will say that NFP, when used to avoid pregnancy for reasons that are not grave, can be used with a birth control mentality. However, to say two things are the same because they share a common end would be like saying shooting your grandma in the head is the same as letting her die naturally. In both cases you end up with a dead woman, but the way she got there matters. In one case we are cooperating and working with the way God made us, and in the other we are using unnatural and sinful methods to achieve the same end.

Respect of the Women's Body and Growth in Virtue: Unlike artificial contraception, NFP involves both people in the relationship. It isn't a woman taking a pill every day filling her body with unnatural hormones. I find it funny that in a society full of nature crazy feminists, not a one has a problem filling their bodies with artificial hormones to stop an otherwise completely natural process. They have no problem with a woman taking contraception so that she can essentially be used for her body.  When a couple chooses to use NFP the man is forced to respect the woman's body and fertility, because it is not always available to him 24/7 as it is if she were using artificial contraception. Furthermore, NFP trains both the man and women in the virtue of self-control when the couple must abstain. Contraception, on the other hand, sets marriage up for infidelity by telling the man that he can have any woman any time without the consequence of pregnancy. How many men do you think would cheat on their wives if there was no form of contraception and pregnancy was a common consequence of the action? I would guess not many.
.  
The Honeymoon Effect: Why is it that when we are away from our spouse we tend to miss the marital act the most? Often times a couple who has been apart for some time experiences a sort of "second honeymoon", as if they were newlyweds. Couples using NFP often find they have more exciting and romantic marriages because they can't be with each other all the time. They must abstain and then come back together, thus experiencing this honeymoon effect quite often in their marriage.

Openess to Life: In every sexual act between a husband and wife using NFP, God is welcomed in to use His creative power. Bonding and babies are always kept together and God is never shut out of the marital act. If a couple is avoiding pregnancy, then they are abstaining from sexual relations during the fertile period and therefore abstaining from both babies and bonding.

We as Christians need to prayerfully and willingly discern if we are using our bodies the way God created them to be used. Are we using them for His glory and the growth of our marriage? Or are we using them for our own selfish sexual desires? I hope your marriage can benefit as much as mine has from an openness to life and the gift of Natural Family Planning.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Natural Family Planning Rocks: Part 1

Natural Family Planning Rocks: Part II

My husband and I took NFP classes before we were married, and although we have never had to use NFP to avoid pregnancy, we have used it to achieve pregnancy and are both very knowledgeable about the subject. I get questions all the time about NFP so I decided to write about it. This is part one of a two part post. In this first part, I would like to share my feelings about the use of artificial contraceptives in marriage and then in the second post, I want to share why NFP is so great and why it's not the same as birth control. I probably won't do this justice but here is goes...

God and Sex: God made sex, plain and simple. He made it for one man and one woman and he made it for two purposes: bonding and babies. The man and the woman come together to form the strongest bond in this world and God comes in with His creative power as a sign of the two people's love for one another (just like in the Trinity). You can't separate bonding and babies because God put them together. When a man and a woman bring contraception into their marriage they are essentially saying, "we want to bond and come together as man and wife, but we don't want to allow you (God) to work in this act". Furthermore, the marital union is supposed to be a full and selfless giving of oneself to their spouse. How can one give them self fully and withhold their fertility at the same time? It's not possible. A couple using contraception is essentially saying, "I love all of you, except your fertility" or "I want to give myself completely to you, but not my fertility."

The Pill and Our Fertility: Think about this: the use of the pill (or any chemical contraceptive for that matter) is the only time a woman will take a pill when she isn't sick. In fact, she is taking a pill to stop something that is working correctly! I once heard an analogy relating the use of contraception to bulimia. Bulimics throw up their food after eating to keep themselves from gaining weight; a natural occurrence from eating food. No one would ever say this is a good action to take after eating. So too, couples who use birth control stop a natural consequence of an action from occurring. Pregnancy doesn't mean something went wrong, it means something went right. It means that our bodies are working just as they ought to. Our fertility is an awesome gift from God, not something that we should suppress and damage through the use of contraceptives.

What if God isn't done: I know many couples who are "done" having children. My thought on this is always, sure you may be done, but what if God wasn't/isn't? Many of these same couples have been sterilized, thus closing themselves off forever to another child. I realize that at certain points in life it is prudent to avoid pregnancy, but to say no to more children forever seems extreme. How can one possibly know that in future months or years, Christ wouldn't have wanted a couple to have more children? Of course all the couples I know who have been sterilized would say that their family is "complete". To them I would say this: picture your family without one of your children. Would it be complete to you? How can we be sure our family is complete in God's eyes if we have shut Him out of that part of our lives. Completion of one's family is for God to decide, not for us.  As long as we are fertile, we must be in constant discernment as to what Christ wants for us as parents and for the expansion of our family.

I will end with these questions: Who is planning your family?  Is it God or you? Can we really claim to be Christian and close ourselves off to God's greatest and most miraculous gift? God the Almighty allows us as Christians to share in His creation; to bring forth souls into the world for His glory. This is a responsibility and a gift we cannot take lightly.


Part II to come.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Parental Failings

Tonight was a rough night. My husband goes to school twice a week which means I am alone putting the kids to bed. The rest of the day is fine; it's bedtime that always gets me. Peanut was exceptionally whiny this evening and I attempted to put him to bed at the normal time. If I haven't mentioned it before, I should mention now that Peanut doesn't say much yet; he uses some baby sign, but doesn't say many words. This, often times, leads to him being frustrated that I don't know what he is saying, and me being frustrated that I don't know what he is saying. He can communicate quite a bit with sign, but not everything. Tonight was no exception. As I placed him in his crib (while holding Miss Belle in my arms. Did I mention she doesn't like to be put down?) he was still whining/crying and kept signing "ball" and "daddy". I had no idea what he was trying to say and he was very upset about it. Long story short, after about thirty minutes of him crying, Miss Belle crying and trying to figure out what he needed, I lost it for a moment. I hate when my emotions control my actions. To be honest it is a rare occasion for me, but when it happens it is usually a quick blow up and then a quick cool down. I was so frustrated that I decided to give up on bedtime. I grabbed Peanut out of his crib, pushed his little back and told him to get out of his room in a not so nice tone of voice. He was nothing less than hysterical.

As I held my screaming daughter and watched Peanut ball his eyes out, I was reminded once again: he is little. He doesn't understand why mommy is frustrated or why she isn't being nice to him. He just continues to try and communicate in the only and best way he knows how. I know a lot of people would say this isn't a big deal, that we all loose our tempers sometimes. But the guilt one can feel after intentionally treating their child in an unkind and irrational way is only something another parent could understand. How I treat my children now is important whether they remember it or not. In these formative years, they will learn how to function in society and how to treat other people. More importantly, the way my husband and I treat our children will affect the way they see their heavenly Father and mother.

My children are young and there are many years to come in their formation. When my part is finished, I want my children to hear the word mother and think of a kind, compassionate and loving person, not a tired, stressed out woman who is always on edge. I know this is only one occasion and there will most likely be many more where I lose my temper, but that is no excuse for the behavior. Every occasion effects not only my soul, but the soul of my child which God has entrusted to me. May God grant me patience and peace so that I may raise saints for His heavenly kingdom.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Sleep Much?

I think I need more sleep. My poor son walked around the doctor's office for two hours like this. I wonder why no one said anything? 

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Little Things

I wouldn't consider my husband a romantic, but he does do romantic things...or at least I  think they are romantic. When we were dating he would stop studying at 2am and make a 20 minute drive to my house to let me know he was thinking of me. I would wake up in the morning to find my car covered in post-it notes, all with a little something written on them. We went on frequent dates, fancy and not so fancy. My vase on the kitchen table was always filled with flowers and my text message inbox was always full of  I love yous.

Now, with a toddler and a newborn, romance is a little hard to come around. But my sweet husband still seems to find it. I used to get notes on my car, now he takes this...

And does this...


Yes, that's Peanuts "bath crayon" and a note left on the shower wall for me to see. Sure the only time my husband can find for romance these days is in the five minutes he spends in the shower, but at least he does it. And I'm so thankful for that. I think for a lot of women it's about the big anniversary date, or the diamond earrings they want for their birthday. But for me, it's about the little things. It's about the notes on the bathroom wall or the fact that no matter how late he is running for work, he always comes to kiss me goodbye. Or when he cleans the living room without me even asking, or makes sure my car is filled with gas. It's the small gestures my husband does that let me know, no matter how busy he was that day, he thought of me and appreciates me. Thank you, sweetheart, for the little things.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Vacation?

This weekend we are meeting my family in a resort town in New Mexico. It will be a seven and a half hour drive (turned into 13 I'm sure) one way with two kids under two. This is supposed to be a vacation, but I have a feeling that word may have a new definition for me. Vacation used to mean getting away to a quiet spot and being able to relax for a few days. Now it means packing an insane amount of luggage for two days, listening to a newborn cry in the car for hours and hours, and trying to figure out how to entertain a one and a half year old for seven hours while he dances around trying to figure a way out of his car seat. Also, on the last three vacations we have taken Peanut (which is my new blog name for my son) has puked in his car seat, making the car smell like vomit the whole way. Yes, I know I am painting a lovely picture here. My husband and I used to get away with one piece of luggage for the both of us. Now I have a pack n' play, a bassinet, two suitcases, a highchair, a stroller, carriers for the baby, diapers and a bag of food for the toddler. I feel like I'm moving, not leaving for a few days! Luckily, at least on this "vacation", there will be the relief of seeing my great family on the other end of it. And I would drive any (ok, almost any) distance for that...

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

True Friendship

My darling daughter was baptized this past Sunday on the feast of Corpus Christi. It was an awesome day shared with family and friends. Miss Belle's godparents are my sister and one of my husband's childhood friends, Nathanael. I haven't spent a whole lot of time with Nathanael, just enough to know he would make an awesome godfather (the fact that he has spent the last six years in seminary told me that!). What I didn't know was just how awesome of a godfather we picked.


For the past three days I have been able to spend some personal time with my daughter's godfather discussing everything from our favorite youtube videos to the deepest issues of our faith. I feel I have found a new friend in him; a kind of friend that doesn't come along very often. Nathanael is the type of man who makes you want to be the best you can be. The type of person who, somehow, just by their very presence draws you closer to Christ. The kind of person you watch what you say around, not because you are being fake, but because they call you to something higher. Have you ever met someone like this? If you haven't, I hope you do someday.
He is the type of man who doesn't just talk about his faith, he lives it. Despite fatigue and company he makes time for prayer (and lots of it) and ignites a strong desire in me to become more fervent in my own prayer life. He is always willing to answer my thousands of questions about moral issues and the way he was raised, and he does it with so much compassion and charity. He is the type of person I want my son to grow up to be like.

His visit got me thinking a lot about friendship. Out of my many many friends there are very few who bring me up. How awesome the world would be if we held each other accountable?  How awesome would my friendships be if I could push my pride and fear away and ask a friend to pray with me? How much better of a friend could I be if I spent more time in prayer and expanded my knowledge of the faith?  I'm going to try and be a better friend; one who brings my friends closer to Christ. Thank you, Nathanael, for reminding me of what Christ created friendship for and for being a true friend and an amazing Godfather.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Home is Where the Heart Is

My Godfather is an amazing man. I have spent many hours sitting in conversation with him trying to soak up his wisdom and advice. When I was about to move away from home and embark on the military life a few years ago, he said something that I think of often. As I was sharing with him my anxiety about leaving my family he told me, "Andrea there is a lot of truth to the term 'home is where the heart is' and I think your anxiety stems from your young age. You will learn, over time, that home is not where your parents are, or the town you grew up in, but it is the place where your husband and children are."

Flash forward two years later after living away from home for a year. My in-laws, also very wise people, give my husband advice that I also think of often. There advice was, "you are not an island. Just because you move away from home, you can't separate yourself from the one's you left behind. They are still your family."

To be honest, I don't think I have really learned or embraced my godfather's advice yet. I still cry every time my children have to say goodbye to their grandparents and my heart still really desires to live closer to them. I struggle with this a lot because my head wants to tell God, "Your will be done Lord, send us where you please next tour", while my heart cries, "Please Lord just send us somewhere close to home. Close to our family." I know most people in society today would say it's good to get away from your parents and the place where you grew up; to become independent and separate yourselves. But to be honest I don't feel that way.

I want my kids to know their grandparents and aunts and uncles, not just visit them twice a year. Am I saying I want to move in next door to my parents or in-laws? No, but driving distance would be nice. Yes, it would be cool to tell people we spent two years in Europe and yes it is a once and a lifetime opportunity. But how does that compare to having a personal relationship with extended family? How does travel around the country compare to memories of your grandfather teaching you to fish, or laughing up a storm in the living room with that grandma who dances every time a song comes on? Everyday memories, not just holiday memories.

Maybe I just need to spend more time embracing my family here and not thinking so much about what comes next or where we will be stationed. Maybe I just need more time to "grow up" and I won't feel this way anymore. But I wish it would happen soon so my heart would stop hurting and learn where home really is.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Perfect Family?

Since the birth of Miss Belle, we have gotten many comments on how great it must be to have one boy and one girl. Apparently a family of four with children being of opposite gender is considered "the perfect family" to people in society today. Oh! And the fact that our boy is older than our girl? Well, that is just icing on the cake. Surely we don't want anymore, surely we are "done!"

I have been thoroughly amazed how many people in our politically correct society today think it is just fine to discuss and comment on my husband's and my love life and plans for children in the future. A couple of weeks ago we took the kids into my husband's work to show off the new addition. A man I never have met or been introduced to looks at our family and very bluntly states, "Ok you have a boy and a girl. You have two. You're done. No more now, you're done." Or the woman at mass who commented on how close our children were in age but then went on to say, "When I think of all the aborted babies out there, I'm happy to see a baby. But that doesn't mean you need to go and have another one in a year." Not to mention all the small grocery store comments about how we must have our hands full and how happy we must be that we got one of each sex. I knew people made comments like this before I even had kids, because I know quiet a few large families who get them all the time. But that's just it...they are LARGE families...not families with TWO kids (FYI I'm not saying these comments are appropriate for large families either, I just didn't expect to get any until at least three or four children were tailing behind me).

Why is it that everyone finds a baby to be the most joyous thing in the world and then tells you not to have anymore? Everyone smiles at babies, wants to hug, smell and kiss them all over. There is something about a tiny warm body curled against yours that brings a peace to the soul that is beyond this world, and yet society says two is the max. Two is enough joy, no more. This baffles me. Someday I'll find a good response to comments, I just assumed I had more time. But in case you are curious, here is our plan for the world to know: we take children as God gives them, not at our convenience. Maybe I could just type that up on a card and hand it out to people who think we should be "done".

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Forced Selflessness

I once heard a great quote that I have been thinking of often lately. It went something to the effect of "Parenthood makes selfish people unselfish. You can't be a good parent and be selfish." Man have I found this to be true lately.

In a rare moment when I was actually alone returning some books at the library the other day, I saw a girl sitting in a chair reading a magazine. This simple picture had some deep effect on me. What did that feel like? To have no ties to anything? To be able to randomly go to a library, sit down and read a magazine without worrying about how the kids are, or what I'm making for dinner. I felt slightly guilty for my hidden envy of that girl in the chair, so I have been asking God to help me embrace these hard and busy days as we continue to adjust to our new life. But as many of us know, God in His loving mercy, often shows us more than we ask. Lately, He has shown me the need for a major cleansing my soul needs, and some definite attitude adjustments. And He is using my children to do it.

I'm lazy, I'll admit it. Sloth is one of those things I am constantly confessing over and over again. The Lord has given me two children who constantly pull me out of my love for sleep and relaxation. He has given me a son who wants to play right as his sister falls asleep, and a newborn baby who insists on waking up every time I put her down. I'm selfish and greedy. But these are often cleansed when I am forced to wake up at night to feed my child and money must be spent on diapers and clothing instead of things I really want. And biggest of all, I'm very prideful. Humility is granted to me when I look in the mirror at my post pregnancy body and by the insult to my family in the numerous comments my husband and I have already received regarding having more children in the future (negative comments, I assure you). I always told God that I wanted to be a saint, and He knew in His infinite wisdom that only the love I have for my children would force me to come out of myself and start serving others; to clean out the places in my heart where He should reside.

And secondly, my attitude. My above mentioned laziness mixed with fatigue has not been the best combination. I have lost my temper easily and been lazy in my discipline with my son. I am frustrated with him when he doesn't listen and I am having to remind myself often that he is only 19 months old. Something about having a newborn in the house makes him seem like an adult, and I think I often expect him to act like one. The other day as he was running around being a rambunctious boy,  I was particularly annoyed with his abundant energy and unwillingness to listen (and here again, God is cleansing me of impatience). I prayed for God to give me patience and I was struck with a thought that changed my whole attitude towards him. If my son was the only person ever born on the face of the earth, Jesus Christ would have come and suffered and died for him. How much must Christ love him in his one year old innocence? And how displeasing it must be to God when I treat him like an annoyance in my life instead of the greatest gift He has ever given me? I'm not saying I'm perfect and have not lost my patience with him numerous times since this event, but every time I think of this little thought I am filled with a sense of total peace and love towards my son. A desire to discipline out of love and not anger, and a desire to shower him with love and affection, the way I'm sure Christ would show His love for my son.

I am so thankful during these days of change and transition to have my faith. It's a gift I think none of us can take for granted these days. And I am mostly thankful for a loving Father who shows patience with me every day and knows exactly how to cleanse my soul through such an awesome gift as my children. A Father who reveals and gives much more than I ask and a Father who loves so perfectly. May I learn to love as He loves.


Monday, May 10, 2010

Not that I care but...

When I started this blog I promised myself I wouldn't care about any awards, or the popularity of the blog. I was just going to write to write. But I must admit that I was just a tad big happy when my friend informed me that I was nominated for a catholic blog award under the category "Best New Kid On the Block." Apparently people campaign on their blogs for people's votes and I had no idea I had even been nominated, so I had zero votes until today...pathetic. But I'm still happy to have been nominated. If you are interested in voting, just to flatter me, you can do it once a day here. There is already a sure winner in my category, but hey, a few votes never hurt anyone. And by the way, you should vote for my friend (blog name 'Shoved to Them')  mentioned above under the category "Best Under Appreciated" while you are at it!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Education vs. Vocation

Today is a bittersweet day for me. Today is the day I would have graduated college had I chosen to stay in New Mexico and not gotten married. For most people it seems that somehow getting educated goes right along with their vocation. For me, it did not. With a husband three years older than me, graduating college and moving away on military orders I was only left with two choices: marry the man I thought God called me to marry and move away with him, or stay in my hometown for the tree short semesters I had left and finish school. Of course, the world told me to finish school, but I chose marriage. I could have finished school wherever we moved, but my husband and I were pregnant within the first weeks of our marriage, and the online classes I was taking in an attempt to stay in school on the road didn't jive with a newborn.

When you are young and in school, your life is mapped out for you. You will go to elementary, you will go to middle and high school, you will go to college and then go get a masters or doctorate. Only after all this has been done is it ok to consider marriage and children in the world's eyes. But God had other plans for me than the world did. And I still catch hell for choosing God's plans every day. "What will you do if something happens to your husband?" I am asked this question so often when people find out that I'm not in school. God will take care of me. "Don't you miss it?" is another one I get. The answer to this is simply, yes. I love school, and I was really really good at it. It wasn't an easy thing to give up, especially when you are the former highschooler who was in all the advanced classes and was just expected to be there on graduation day. I'll go back someday; but I have promised myself that someday will be a day when I feel my children are not suffering or missing out on something because of my desires to go to school.

Today all my childhood friends will walk onto a huge stage in front of thousands of people and recieve a diploma. Their names will be called and their families will cheer in proud adoration of their children who worked so hard for this day. They will hug and talk about what a long road it's been, but that it's finally done with. I will spend today nursing a young baby, changing diapers and singing the ABC's. I will not hug friends, but rather the small bodies of my children. My name will be called in the form of a newborn cry, or the sweet sound of my son screaming "MAMA!". My friends will hold diplomas, but I will hold immortal souls.  And I wouldn't give that up for the world.

So Congratulations class of 2010. May you find as much joy in today as I will, and may you find God's will for your life in the future.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Through the Vineyard

I don't watch the news, but I listen to the radio enough to know a little about what is going on in the world. In recent local news, from what I can gather from the two minute snips between songs, the hottest topic seems to be a bill that was passed in Oklahoma wherein women seeking an abortion must obtain an ultrasound before the procedure can be done. I always try and look at things from both points of view, but I have read many articles from people opposing this bill and I just can't see how (whether you are pro-life or pro-choice) this law could be a bad thing. Wouldn't people on the pro-choice side of the issue want women to be informed about the choices they are making? Some of the articles I have read opposing the bill stated that an ultrasound would be a "traumatic experience" for a woman obtaining an abortion. If you can find logic in this argument, please share it with me, because it doesn't make sense. Until then, I'll tell you about some traumatic experiences I have witnessed in my life.

Before I had children, I was very involved in pro-life work. One of the ministries that I worked closest with and which was closest to my heart was Rachel's Vineyard. It's a weekend retreat for women and men who have had an abortion or have taken part in an abortion and are now trying to find healing from the experience. I went into the ministry as a young 19 year-old thinking I could be of great help because the majority of women who have abortions are of college age. Surely they needed someone young who was around these women's age to help on the retreats. Boy was I in for a shock. At my first retreat, (one in which I had to participate, not facilitate even though I am not post abortive) I walked into a room of women (and some men), none of whom were less than 35. I was a bit intimidated to say the least, but I tried to trust that God had me there for a reason.

As I listened to these women's stories throughout the weekend my heart broke, and I was given a deep love for women who are post abortive. Most of the women did have their abortions in college, but it had taken them some fifteen to forty years to finally deal with the events that occurred that day. Some women fell into a life of drugs, anorexia and sexual promiscuity shortly following their abortion and could never understand why  their life went so downhill after the event. Some covered their pain by having two or three more abortions. All this hurt, all these addictions and all this acting out because of a "choice". You want to hear traumatic experience? How about an experience that interferes with your everyday activities? Countless women who can't vacuum their own homes because the noise of the vacuum cleaner reminds them of  the machine used the the day of their abortion. Or some women who are haunted by the sound of a crying baby when they are in the quiet of their own home. These are just a very few of some of the sufferings I have heard women speak of  and that are common to post abortive women. These are real women, feeling real pain every single day for the rest of their lives.

On the last evening of a Rachel's Vineyard retreat, the women are given bereavement dolls. They are small, white cloth dolls no bigger than your hand that the women carry with them to bed at night. The dolls symbolize the child that the woman aborted. I know this may sound silly to some, but it brings great healing to these women to spend one night with their "babies;" to physically hold something that they were never able to hold. These dolls are given, clean and white, and sent to bed with each woman. They are given back the next morning to the facilitators usually covered in various shades of lip gloss and spotted black with mascara. For one night these women kiss and hug and cry over their babies. They talk and sing and hold and rock the child that is lost to them forever. For one night they are the mother they were never able to be, even if it is only to a small cloth doll.


I've seen first hand the results of a traumatic experience, and that experience is an abortion, not an ultrasound. My heart aches for all the women still out there who need healing from their past abortions, but I pray and hope that through this law and the gift of ultrasounds that soon there will be no more need for Rachel's Vineyard. That women will make informed decisions and have the joy of rocking a real baby to sleep at night.