Thursday, May 11, 2017

Truth

Oh that Catholic leaders would talk to their flocks with such candor...also, what I wish I had known in my 20's (although I was not Catholic or in a good relationship for much of that time)...   


Friday, April 21, 2017

Easter

I'm linking up with This Ain't the Lyceum to bring you 7 quick takes from my world this week.  

~1~
I've always hated Lent.  It was foreign to me, being raised Protestant.  I think I confused Lent with self-hatred in my early years as a Catholic.  I think I'm finally "getting" it, and I don't hate it anymore.  I had a very meditative and meaningful Lenten season.    


~2~
Sometimes you choose your suffering, and sometimes it chooses you.  This year, after months of trying, we conceived, but had a miscarriage in February.  Mourning the loss of our first child coincided with Lent, and I was able to understand our Mother, Mary, and the stations of the cross so much more deeply this year.    


~3~
Also for perhaps one of the first times, I was able to keep my Lenten fast pretty much all of Lent.  In addition, I really *really* tried not to eat meat on Fridays and made it through Lent doing that with good consistency.  That was a first.  Today, being the first Friday of Easter, I'm actually noticing the meat in my meals and the "feasting" happening.  It's true that when you fast well, the feast is so much more meaningful.  


~4~
One of my Lenten resolutions was to read the Confessions of St. Augustine.  I totally failed on that one.  I read quickly, and I already own the book.  It just didn't happen.  


~5~
Where to go from here?  I'm not sure.  I don't really feel holier than when I started Lent.  I didn't learn any great lessons.  In fact, I'm so aware of my own failings.  It gives me great comfort that even Jesus stumbled and fell under His cross.  But, the tough things in life are still tough.    


~6~
I took a long blogging break, and I think I may need to do so again.  Social media in general is sometimes a source of self-pity for me.  I just feel surrounded by moms.  Sometimes moms who vent their frustration and lack of gratitude for their children...gifts I would gladly take off their hands.  I know it's not easy to be a mom.  Everyone needs their venting, maybe I just don't need to be part of that audience..., but the Catholic and married without children community seems pretty small.  It seems like some people take for granted their families and children sometimes.  To those of us who want kids and don't have them, it's kind of a slap in the face.  I told so few people about the pregnancy that equally few know of the miscarriage.  It's not uncommon to miscarry, but it seems no one talks about it, so people end up feeling alone.  I was hoping to have good news to share, now I don't.  Do I just call some old friends to share the *bad* news?  I don't think so.  I don't know if it's the introvert in me, self-pity or some self-preservation, but I just feel the need to withdraw.       


~7~
Now that Easter is here, I'm ready for some resurrection in my life.  I'm sick of this cross. That doesn't mean it's gone just because Lent is over.  But, we keep putting one foot in front of the other, and try not to give into despair.

We are an Easter people, and Alleluia is our song.  



Monday, April 10, 2017

Holy Week

Here is a thoughtful meditation on Judas for Holy Week.
His human nature is all too familiar.  
Thank you, Fr. Scalia.  


Friday, February 17, 2017

7 Quick Takes: Miscarriage Story



I'm linking up with Kelly to bring you 7 Quick Takes from my world this week.  

~1~

I have been on a blogging hiatus for a variety of reasons.  One of them was that I needed to focus on my vocation - marriage.  I needed to focus on real life, not spend time sharing or creating an online presence that would divert me from that real life.  (I know others can do this effortlessly, but for me, it was taking too much time.)  I'm back if only for this week to share news.

~2~

After about 6-7 months of trying to conceive, we got pregnant last December.  And then we had a miscarriage at around 7 weeks (mid-February).  I'm reviving the blog to share my miscarriage story. It may help others.  Others may help me.  

~3~

I'm considered "advanced maternal age." (I'm in my mid-late thirties.) My doctor put me on a progesterone supplement after confirming the pregnancy because mine was low.  She also mentioned that my HCG was not doubling every 2 days.  It was increasing, but not doubling.  She said there was nothing they could do about that.  We heard a heartbeat at week 6.  The doctor said it was on the slow side, but within the normal range for that young.  The next week when we came back, however, the heartbeat needed to be much, much higher.  I was hoping to beat the odds.    

~4~

We entrusted our little baby to the sacred heart of Jesus and the immaculate heart of Mary.  We prayed his or her little heartbeat would increase and asked others to do the same.  The doctor mentioned that once a heartbeat was established, the likelihood of miscarriage went down to 3%, so we were optimistic.  The words "the Lord, the giver of life" stuck out to me in the Creed like never before.  God created this life.  If it were to be sustained, God would have to do that too.  

~5~

Last week, we went back for a check up, and there was no heartbeat anymore.  The baby hadn't grown since the week before.  I didn't have any bleeding, and I was feeling as nauseous as ever, which I took to be good signs.  It wasn't the case.  Two days later (last Friday), I had a D & C procedure.  

~6~

My doctor and the hospital had never (in 33 years of existence) been asked for the fetal remains to be returned to the parents after a miscarriage or stillbirth.  We asked for the remains in order to have a burial of our child, if possible.  It was incredibly painful and hurtful to be met with so much resistance in this situation.  Trying to advocate for myself while in a hospital gown and on drugs was very difficult.  My husband did most of the fighting for us, thankfully.  I was told that we should have asked earlier (we did to no avail), that it wouldn't be possible, that I may have to delay surgery until there was paperwork on file, etc.  I wasn't sure my doctor's position as far as pro-life/pro-choice before this moment.  This event unfortunately confirmed to me that she saw us as difficult patients, religious freaks, who were wanting to do something like a burial ceremony for a lost tooth.  She said she was sorry that the pregnancy didn't turn out the way we'd liked (not healthy), but I'm not sure that she felt we had lost a life, a child, not just a potential life or potential child.  There were two kind nurses who took a moment to hug me and say they were sorry for my loss.  That made a huge difference and was so appreciated on a dark day.      

~7~

There are some club memberships you never want to have.  I didn't want to be in this club - mothers of miscarried babies.  We haven't yet picked a name because we don't know the gender, and had considered very male-specific and female-specific names.  I've had no special revelation of the gender of our baby, no instinct.  Physically, it has been much easier to recover from the miscarriage than it was to be pregnant for 7-8 short weeks.  I would take that discomfort back in a heartbeat.  It almost feels like a dream/nightmare.  Was I really pregnant?  Was it really over that quickly?  Are we really discussing urns?

We were able to get the remains back from the hospital, and our little baby is now in the safe-keeping of a funeral home until we can arrange a burial.  I feel like he/she is much safer there than at the hospital.  For those who might be in this situation and don't know the options, I suggest Catholic Miscarriage Support.  They were incredibly helpful to me and answered an email I sent them in less than 24 hours.  I also suggest contacting your diocese and the pro-life office, if there is one.  Our pro-life office reassured us that it was our legal right to ask for the remains back, and helped us get in touch with a funeral home and a cemetery right away.  They were also incredibly kind and clearly understood this was a loss of life, not a medical procedure or inconvenience.  

That is all I can say right now.  Peace be with you.

Edited to add: Between the time of the D & C and the time of our burial service, my husband and I were praying that we would have a little bit of a revelation as to the gender of our lost baby.  While pregnant, I had no intuition about this, although I thought I would just "know," I never did.  I was sort of angry and upset that we still didn't know at the time of the miscarriage.  I thought it could help us have more closure to have a name and a gender.  I asked for a divine revelation.  Separately (without discussing it), my husband and I each strongly came to the conclusion that it was a boy over the course of a few weeks.  I suppose we could be wrong, but each time I imagined that child, if I tried to imagine it was a girl, there was an immediate thought that I was wrong and a resistance to the idea that it was a girl.  It got to the point that I just felt and almost knew in my heart it was a boy.  When I mentioned this to my husband that I was concluding it was probably a boy, he had been having the same experience of that strong impression it was a boy.  We ended up naming our child Dominique, which simply means "from God."  If spelled in the French way like this (-que at the end), it can be a male or female name.  So, we went with that name since we didn't know 100% absolutely for sure, although we do feel it was a boy.  And, for what it's worth, our little nephew who is 4 years old had just started to refer to the baby as a boy without any prompting.  He also told us the baby is playing in a waterfall with God and that "there will be another baby."  I think kids are in touch with God more closely than the rest of us sometimes.  I hope he's right.    




Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Friday, September 2, 2016

7QT: Seven Quick Takes

I'm linking up with This Ain't the Lyceum to bring you seven quick takes from my world this week. 


~1~

Nobody really reads this, nor do I use my real name or too many identifiable details...however, I'm pretty sure I'm going to close up shop here at the blog....again...for real this time.  I do fancy myself a writer in some sense. That's how I process things.  I want the freedom to write down my thoughts and talk about them with others, while at the same time not invading my personal life with the blog.  Maybe I need to privately online journal or open up a word document and call it a day.  Maybe I need to share more with people I actually know on Facebook or in real life to get the connection I guess I'm seeking.  It just seems like most the Catholics online all seem to be either men doing apologetics or moms who blog, which brings me to point number two.  

~2~

I am not a mom.  We are "trying," and have so far been unsuccessful.  It's not my fault that we didn't get married until I was 33, and that was almost 2 years ago.  It's not my fault that my parents didn't pay for my wedding because 1) they're poor and 2) it was a Catholic wedding.  It's not my fault that we started off our marriage with student loans and unexpected medical debt from an accident my husband had that was a very near miss on his life.  That is the way my life has unfolded thus far.  I have not given into despair (yet), nor has it been long enough to have to look into infertility treatments.  It's totally in God's hands.  I have no idea what will happen.  However, it's really hard to be bombarded online with mom-talk, mom-blogs, etc. in the online Catholic world when I want that and don't know if or how it'll ever happen for me.  I don't relate, aside from being an auntie and being close to many moms.  That's not my life (yet? ever?).  On the other hand, it's just hard not to be bitter or even jealous, especially when people complain over things that they seem to take for granted, things that I want, things that I think I would embrace.  I know we all have crosses and that as much as motherhood is a blessing, it can be a cross too.  I just think I need to step away for my own sanity from the overwhelming mommy-sphere of the Catholic online world that I have stumbled upon.  I get it - moms, Catholic moms need community.  I just feel so left out sometimes.  Where is the newlywed community?  Where is the married/no kids community?  Where is the "we accept you as you are" community?  Where is the co-ed, multi-aged community?  Which brings me to point number three.  

~3~

I want community - in real life, online - and I don't think you have to be the same as someone else to have community.  Why are so many women's conferences for moms, not all women?  Why are there so many retreats that are men's retreats and women's retreats, not for couples?  These are my own special pet peeves of life.  First world problems.  I think it helps to find people in your age and stage of life.  It also helps to stretch yourself outside of that.  One of the most life-changing and meaningful relationships I ever had was with someone in her 80's when I was in my 20's.  All that to say, it's rough out there.  In order to get community, we have to intentionally create it.  We are doing stuff in real life to reach out to others in our big city and to create a network of friends and family we can really turn to and connect with.  And it's hard, but it's definitely gotten better than it was even a year ago.  I just don't think the online world has contributed to my need for community, it has (for my own reasons) made me feel more isolated sometimes.  I think I need to step away.  

~4~

I am going through what my husband calls a "Franciscan" phase right now.  In other words, lots of donation bags to Goodwill, lots of shredding of paper, lots of de-cluttering, lots of reading of minimalist books.  It's been fabulous.  I was sick for the first 6 months of our marriage, followed by 9 unplanned surgeries/procedures to my body, so essentially our entire first year of marriage involved medical issues for me.  The second year of marriage was spent kind of getting to a new normal and getting my head above water, but lots of it felt like survival mode.  One major change was commuting to work on public transportation, rather than driving.  In such a large city, I'm still gone for work about 11-12 hours per day, but it's less stressful on me.  Having less driving time (not necessarily less commuting time) has given me my life back a little bit.  I have been able to do more than just "maintain" at home, but actually de-clutter, organize, and simplify.  When you do that with outward things, it makes you want to do that with inner things, and "invisible" things, such as digital presence, social media, etc.  Which brings me to point number 5.          

~5~

Taylor Marshall recently mentioned on his podcast that he and his wife are doing a 30-day social media fast.  It has made him more present in his everyday life.  He said he has more time to read, feels like he is more focus and relational with his children, and it has been a positive experience.  

I've occasionally taken time off or deactivated social media.  I think it might be time to do that again, blog included...only I think the blog might be a permanent closure.  It just seems like relatively little-to-none ROI (return on investment) for the time and mental energy.  There are some high-drama people in my family, and it's hard enough to maintain relationships with them, much less manage their expectations on social media interaction.  It's ridiculous.      

~6~

Not only are we trying to conceive, but I really really really need to get serious about my health.  I feel bad on most days.  I don't know if this is normal, but it is normal for me.  Headaches, exhausted, roller coaster, pounding heart rate, etc.  I am 90% sure this could all go away (or at least be drastically improved) if I strictly followed an anti-inflammation diet.  Oddly enough, deleting a blog, deactivating social media, and cleaning out my closets help me focus on my physical health.  It makes me feel like I have the psychic space and energy to take care of those things.  Exercise, eating right, sleeping more.  I have been able to detox my body before with good results, but I feel like this will be a lifelong struggle, a lifelong choice to say "yes" to this way of life every single day.  It's so easy to go off track (there are cookies in the work break room this very moment).  


~7~

I feel like all six points thus far are really close to some major self-pity.  I don't mean to come across that way.  I love my mom friends, and maybe someday I'll get to be in that club.  Maybe not.  I can't mourn an unknown reality, I just have to take it one day at a time, which has surprisingly been very hard.  Feeling so overwhelmed (as I do by life right now) just makes me want to re-evaluate priorities and get serious about living my best life.  Maintaining this blog doesn't seem to fit in that equation right now.    

In honor of one of my favorite saints and one of my favorite soon-to-be saints, a friendly reminder that it's the little things that matter. It's the small things, the little way, that matters.  I need to do those small things with love, great love.  I need to step back from all that is non-essential right now so that I have the ability to even attempt the little way.    

I wish peace and all good things to anyone who reads this.  



~ Mother Teresa, pray for us.  ~




~ St. Therese, pray for us ~

Monday, August 8, 2016

What Feeds You?

Last weekend I got hurt by someone I loved.  Bad hurt.  Like a dagger in the heart hurt.

I guess we all make certain assumptions about what so-and-so would never do or that such-and-such would never happen.  Then, it happens.  And it's either a dream come true, or a nightmare you hadn't imagined. 

I struggle between knowing that I must forgive and move on, and honoring my feelings, acknowledging them, and grieving.  I know if I don't feel my feelings, think my thoughts, and get in touch with the hurt and anger, then the forgiveness will just be a form of denying reality. 

However, forgiveness is also an act of the will.  "Father forgive them, they know not what they do." It doesn't mean I feel like forgiving.  I can ask God to forgive without the emotions behind it, knowing that it's the right thing to do.  I can also still grieve, feel sick, sad, and angry, even having forgiven.

There's a balance between acknowledging and feeling the truth, and wallowing in it to the point of bitterness.  There's also a balance between forgiveness as an act of the will and being so free that it's as if it never happened. 

I tried to pray, to meditate, to invite God into this.  

Over time, I got two messages.  

One is, "Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace."   It sounds so nice when you're thinking about world peace, doves, or resolving the violence of war and poverty.  When it hits closer to home, being an instrument of peace can be very, very hard. 

The other message is, "Take and eat, this is my body given up for you."  What are we receiving when we receive God?  Unconditional Love.  That was the message I got.

Yes, I believe in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.  But, what that meant to me this time wasn't a message about the theology of trans-substantiation, it was a message that I need to focus on what it is that's feeding me.  If I am receiving The Word Made Flesh into my body and soul, then I need to feed on that.  Rather than feeding on my hurt or on the wrongs of others, I need to feed on Christ, who loves me more than I can imagine. 

Once I was able to grieve and acknowledge my hurt, I moved on to focus less on the hurt and more on the unconditional love of God.  The reason these human hurts sting so badly is that we know there is an infinite, perfect love out there.  We long for it.  We are disappointed when humans deliver something less than that.  We have to feed on the right things.   

I'm not saying I have it all figured out and that my heart is all bandaged up now.  It's a work in progress.  I imagine that choosing what I focus on will need to be a conscious effort for quite a while until I can move on a little better from this.

One final thought is that I realize that I need to pray for those involved in hurting me.
They are screwed up people, just like me.  When I was so focused on the hurt and grief that their actions caused me, I couldn't pray for them.  Now I can.  Just a little bit.  And they really, really need it.  

What feeds you?  

Is it your own sick thoughts of revenge?  Is it your human understanding, which is only a small slice of reality?  Is it an idolization of another person, who may eventually fail you?

Feed on the feast of Christ, the wedding supper of the Lamb, the Bread of Life.  Eternal Life, Unconditional Love.

There's a feast waiting, you just have to accept the invitation to that meal.