Thank YOU for Sharing Your Stories

In the past week, I have received more emails and comments from readers than I have in the last year and a half as a regular contributor at Catholic Exchange and in my years as a blogger. People from all over the world have written to me about their experiences with miscarriage. More often than not, these families have suffered grief in silence and not even shared it with family members. Most of them felt like they had to keep their pain to themselves. A good many of these people are Catholics; members of the Church that tells us to be open to life and to celebrate each life, and yet, so many suffer in private.

I am not entirely sure why this miscarriage unleashed a fury of writing inside of me. I have barely been able to stop since I learned that I lost my baby, Andrew, two weeks ago. If I am not blogging or writing articles for other websites, then I am writing pages upon pages in my journal. It’s as if the pressure of so much loss and pain has been released and it is coming out at an astounding rate. In sharing my own agony, I have been able to share in yours. Thank you for your courage to write to me or even to write public comments in an arena that is often unjust, uncivil, and insensitive.

What all of this has revealed to me is that there is a serious disconnect going on in our culture, and at times, within the Church when it comes to miscarriage. As I wrote at The Federalist today, abortion has a major part to play in this problem. Since unborn life has been dehumanized and discarded within our culture, miscarriage is not recognized as the loss of a human being. The families who have experienced miscarriage, and who have not been blinded by the ideology of abortion, know they have lost a child. The problem is, that when the loss occurs, they feel that they have no one to turn to, not even the Church.

I don’t have all of the answers to this complex issue, but I am trying to find as many of them as I can. I, and a few other brave writers, have identified this issue and are trying to bring it to light. It will be a process. In sharing the pain of miscarriage, we are automatically stepping onto the battlefield within our culture over the dignity of the human person. In sharing our own stories, we will be attacked by those who hold abortion to be sacred, and it is a religion for some. It is this assault that I fear has kept so many people silent. No more.

The lives of our babies are precious, unique, and beautiful. We have every right to mourn their passing and the loss of motherhood and fatherhood here on earth. We will live the rest of our lives wondering who our sons and daughters would have become, while hoping to meet them someday before the Beatific Vision. The hope of eternity does not mean we do not suffer and ache because of the death of our unborn children. Death is a product of the Fall and not a part of God’s original design and desires for us. That means death is painful. It is painful in losing someone and it is painful in that it will come to each one of us eventually.

I will continue to write on this issue and to clarify the abortion-miscarriage connection. I also want to advocate for those who have experienced miscarriage and recurrent miscarriage in any way I possibly can. I want families to know that they are not alone and grieving over a lost child to miscarriage is completely natural and warranted. YOU ARE NOT ALONE. This is a journey. I don’t know where it will lead. That is up to God. I am still in the throes of grief myself, but I am trying, granted imperfectly, to use my pain for good.

Thank you to all of you who have shared your stories with me. I am sorry that I haven’t been able to respond to all of you individually. Part of that is because my own grief makes it difficult for me to write everyone back at this time, but I do hope to respond in time. All of your emails and comments are read. I briefly engaged a few naysayers at The Federalist today and was able to maintain a good sense of humor and a level head in the face of great ignorance and insensitivity. That must be God’s grace, because my grief should have warranted a different response. I guess I realize that in my walking onto the battlefield, I have to learn to deflect such attacks without emotion. The problem is that our culture cannot engage in reasoned discourse, so all arguments are seen as emotional. Engaging while grieving is definitely a test of mettle and patience. It is the perfect learning ground. I study philosophy and theology regularly and as a formal graduate student. I have the tools at my disposal to focus on reason over emotion and I want to keep it that way, even when truly hateful things are leveled my way. Above all, prayer for conversion is key. God bless all of you.

Small Success Thursday: My Amazing Husband

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I am a firm believer that women should compliment their husbands in public and voice struggles either in private with their husband or with a trusted friend if counsel is needed. If people hear me griping about my husband constantly it will change their view of him and that is wrong. Not to mention that marital disputes are private. With that in mind, I must confess that I am terrible at complimenting my husband in our conversations. I struggle with compliments with most people, except my 3 year old. Perhaps she is teaching me how to be better?

I can’t explain precisely why compliments are hard for me, and that includes taking them. It is not that I don’t have positive thoughts about people, although, I will admit to a few periods of gloom in my lifetime. This is on my mind, firstly, because my Confessor told me to work on it, and secondly, because my husband sacrifices a lot and he deserves my praise.

My husband has had to give up a lot while I go to graduate school full-time. He no longer gets Saturdays to tinker in the garage or work in the garden without our daughter. Instead, he runs errands, grocery shops, and keeps our daughter entertained while I study. He does this throughout the week too, while I study. It’s hard on me too. I have to sacrifice a lot of family time for the next 1.75 years. I get 3 months off a year and I need to make the most of that time. But, my husband works 50-60 hours a week, sometimes has to travel for work, and then comes home to take over for me so that I can hit the books. He is amazing and I need to make him more aware of that fact.

In my studies, I can get tunnel vision. I have a paper due this week! I actually have two due this week and one next week, followed by final exams. So my head is not exactly in the vocational game as it should be. Our daughter has started the difficult period of 3 years of age and has started throwing tantrums and lying. This is a time when really learning how to parent is crucial. While my head has been a bit distracted, my husband has really risen to the occasion.

This morning my daughter threw a couple of different tantrums and screaming fits. I texted my husband in exasperation. He clearly and reasonably explained the situation to me. I wasn’t paying attention like I should be. Our daughter is learning independence, but she is scared too. Her mommy is now studying and taking care of the family. That is a big change. So we need to teach her authentic freedom, but make sure that she knows we are here if she needs us. I listened to my brilliant husband and I was so grateful that I married him. God gave me this guy because he knows how to help me grow. He knows how to take the reins, when I need to sit and take the ride. Our daughter is in good hands.

So my small success for this week, is opening up my eyes to the man God gave me. The one who sacrifices so much for our daughter and me. The man who pushes me to dream, holiness, and selflessness. The one who is keeping (always does) this ship on course while I study away. My husband is awesome!

What are your small successes this week? Come join the conversation at CatholicMom.com by clicking on the picture at the top of this post.

I waited a long time for the right man to marry.
I waited a long time for the right man to marry.

Celebrating Our 4th Wedding Anniversary

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Today is my 4th wedding anniversary.  It has been an amazing and interesting ride.  I have learned more in the past 4 years than I did in the 29 previous years.  I know more about my self; my strengths and my weaknesses.  Marriage is a vocation because it is a path to holiness.  As I look over my life, I see that God gave me the husband that I need, the one who would make me a saint.  My husband loves me with an authentic love.  He wills my good.  I just tend to fight back at times, just like when I sin.  My husband sees my struggles from the outside and wants to help me break free of them to become a better version of myself.

I did not get married until I was 29.  I met my husband and we were engaged within two months of dating and married in 10 months.  He was 33.  We were both older and knew what we were looking for.  Our Catholic Faith reigned supreme in a hunt for a spouse.  It had not always been that way for either of us, but God guided us to one another through our broken experiences.  Getting married later can be a struggle.  I am fiercely independent.  I had lived all over and taken care of myself for over a decade, so even though I love my husband, I struggle with that part of me.  The part that is torn by pride.  I can do it myself.  I have ALWAYS done it by myself.  But, that is not God’s vision for marriage and it creates struggles. 

God gave me my husband to teach me healthy dependence on another person, so that I may more fully embrace total dependence on God.  Marriage and family life is a reflection of the Holy Trinity.  It is meant to be a total self-donation.  I am to serve until I am spent, and then give more.  Now, in my sinful nature, I struggle to overcome my desire to do it my way.  I struggle to let go of my personal addictions.  They seem small to our culture: too much sugar or too much social media, but they aren’t.  My husband knows that because he sees the impact on me.  He also knows that to grow in holiness we must detach from earthly things and learn to appreciate them in a healthy way.  My husband is a lot wiser than I am.

I am thankful to be celebrating 4 years with the man I know God gave me.  We have a beautiful daughter who is teaching us more and more how to be open to love and sacrifice.  I will continue to embrace this amazing and difficult vocation that Our Lord has given me.  I am reminded of the words of the priest’s Homily at our Nuptial Mass: “It is your job to lead one another to Heaven”.  Happy Anniversary, Babycakes!  I love you muches!

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7 Quick Takes for this Gray and Occasionally Sunny November Day

Today I am linked up over at Jennifer Fulwiler’s Conversion Diary for 7 Quick Takes. Join us with your quick takes for the week here:

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1.  My husband and I bought our first home together in May of this year.  We actually ended up in the town where our parish is located (long story as to why we drove 30 minutes to Mass…let’s just say “spirit of Vatican II” and leave it at that).  My husband now commutes every day, but we think that it is worth it.  We have been blessed with even more friendships through our church and have been able to get more involved.  We have become good friends with a family with four girls.  I teach junior high religious ed with the dad/husband.  They are our board game friends.  We have almost made Sunday dinner and games a ritual.  We chat after Mass and then end up planning to play games and have dinner later that day.  It has been a great blessing for us.  When we lived in Boone, NC we had a couple we used to play Settlers of Cataan and pinochle with.  Now we play all kinds of games with our friends from church, including a Star Trek version of Settlers (so awesome!).
2.  I am learning to enjoy reading the same book over and over again to my toddler.  One of my blog readers from CatholicMom.com pointed out that I  need to foster a love of “nonsense” with my child.  I thought about it and decided that she is right.  I used to have a great imagination and I am working on my first novel, so I should be able to read Pinkalicious to my daughter and enjoy it, even if it is not one of my favorite books.  Michaela is even “reading” to herself these days and that makes me so proud.
3.  Conquering my coffee addiction is not going so well (she says while slurping down a peppermint mocha).  Facebook was easy for me, compared to coffee.  I think that some of my readers are misunderstanding my conquering addictions.  Holiness is about letting go of the things we allow to control us, so that we are free to enjoy them in moderation.  Facebook was leading me to sin. Coffee is an addiction, not something that I merely enjoy.  God gave us these gifts as “pleasant inns” to borrow from CS Lewis.  That means we enjoy them, but not allow them to consume us.  If we read the works of the Saints, we will see how they call us to detach from those things that control us, which really means things that replace God in our lives.  Today, I did not do as well as I wanted with the coffee, but I will try again tomorrow and by God’s grace be freed from my addiction, and hopefully some day just be able to enjoy coffee, rather than feel I “need” it.  A priest told me that I needed to do this in Confession recently.   No one “needs” coffee he said.
4. I got to go on an impromptu date with my husband last  night.  My awesome friend Christine (you can check her blog,, Domestic Vocation, out here) agreed to babysit our toddler with 2 hours notice.  We had not been on a date in over two months.  I am sure all of you parents understand.  We had a nice dinner at a cafe downtown.  We even walked down the street holding hands.  Some day that will embarrass our daughter.  I think when  we kiss it already embarrasses her.  There are such similarities between a two year old’s reactions and a teenager’s.
5.  This past week our junior high religious ed class discussed vocations.  Have you talked about vocations with your kids?  The most important thing we discern is where God is calling us to.  Not everyone is called to marriage, even though that is what our society tells us.  We need to encourage vocations to the Priesthood or religious life.  Here are two great videos to share with your kids about vocations.  The first is for young men on the Priesthood and the second is for young women on becoming a sister or nun.

6.  I have a confession to make.  I do not make my pancakes from scratch.  I think about it, but the box of multi-grain pancakes at Kroger is so much easier.  I just add water, and then, whatever I want.  This morning I made sweet potato pancakes with the leftover mashed sweet potatoes from dinner two nights ago.  I followed the directions on the box and then added 3/4 of mashed sweet potato puree, and a dash of cinnamon.  They were so good.  I did not even use syrup.  You can add whatever you want.  One of my favorites is cottage cheese and blueberries.  Give it a try!  Sneak some healthy stuff into those pancakes for picky eaters.
7.  This song is so beautiful.  I hope it blesses you as you go into your weekend. My husband and I saw Casting Crowns in concert when we were dating.  It was a great show.

Small Success Thursday November 14, 2013

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It is really easy to get to this point on Thursday and wonder if I have any small successes this week.  They are there I just have to find them through my own critic.

First, Monday was Veteran’s Day.  I am a US Navy Veteran and I decided to enjoy the day.  I went out to lunch at Applebee’s, for my free meal, with a friend of mine.  Instead of rushing home to do dishes, we decided to go to the mall.  You would have to know me to realize just how much of a rarity this is for me.  I am not a shopper, in fact there I times I loathe shopping.  That evening I went out to dinner, for another free meal, with a good friend of mine.  We had a great dinner and she embarassed me exceedingly by showing the waiter my picture on my DD-214. I could not find my VA ID, so I took my DD-214 with me instead.  I can’t believe I joined the Navy 14 years ago.

I have mixed emotions about my military service.  I am proud of serving my country, but I am heart-broken about what this country is becoming.  I was a Russian linguist and I am not happy with what my previous employer  is doing to violate everyone’s privacy.  It pains me to have been a part of that power grab, even though my work was “lawful”.  I am thankful that I was able to be a 9-11 relief worker, so it is a mixed bag.  My success was to embrace and celebrate my service.  While it is nice to hear “thank you for your service” most of us Vets don’t know what to say.  We were just doing our jobs.

Second, I have written quite a bit on my blog this week.  It is always a step in the right direction when I write regularly.  I figure I will keep writing and see what happens.  I do need to get back to writing my novel.  The solid idea is there, now to get it fully to the page.  It is a Catholic thriller, I guess would be what you would call it.

Third, I am remembering to be thankful for the life I have been given.  This year has been insane for us.  I have had to call two ambulances for my husband because of his debilitating migraines, I had emergency surgery for a miscarriage and lost our 3rd baby, our daughter was in the hospital for 3 days with a staph infection, a friend nearly died of eclampsia, a good friend from the Navy died suddenly in July, we moved into our new house, and we have been fixing problems in the house. It is one of those years you just want too see end.  Strangely, I have a deeper faith and gratitude for life.  I have never understood the adage that suffering makes us stronger.  It’s like I woke up one day and  it all made sense.  I could see God working in my life. Even though this year has been difficult, I have a greater faith and prayer life.  I am beginning to understand how He is refining me in the furnace.

What about you?  What are your small successes for the week?

Michaela’s Inquiring Mind

Does this hair make me look a little crazy?
Does this hair make me look a little crazy?

Michaela continues to amaze me on a very regular basis, pretty much daily.  She has progressed to full sentences.  In fact, she makes a point of using full sentences now.  She is also in the question stage.  Inquiring minds want to know, about everything.  Her favorite question is: “What is it?”.  She asks me this repeatedly throughout the day.  Usually it is not because she does not know exactly what something is, but because she wants to learn how to describe things.  She is interested in adjectives and properly used “little” last night.

If there is one thing that is teaching me about the beauty of the human mind, it is my daughter.  Her cognitive abilities have exploded in the last year.  It is breathtaking.  I watch videos of her when she was a 1 year old and I am stunned by the difference.  She is a little girl now.  She is extremely bright.  I will have my work cut out for me homeschooling her.
I am also seeing how crucial discipline is at this age.  I don’t mean punishment, I mean instilling actual discipline, something that I struggle with, even after 6 years in the Navy.  Toddlers think that they are the center of the universe.  Now is the time to teach her that she is not the center.  She thinks that everything is hers and “mine” comes out of her mouth repeatedly.  She is learning about possession, but does not want to relinquish her grip on things.  It is fascinating and frustrating to watch.
Inquiring minds want to know: What is it?
Inquiring minds want to know: What is it?
Motherhood continues to humble me.  This morning, I once again am awed that God entrusted this little person to me of all people.  I have to fight the urge to ask Him if He is crazy.

Joy in Motherhood on Hallowe’en

Motherhood continues to amaze me in wonderful new ways.  Yesterday was Hallowe’en.  My husband and I had found a bee costume at a local consignment shop.  I put it on her in the early evening last night, and my heart melted.  She was adorable!  I am sure she will be embarrassed by this in the years to come, but right now I get to enjoy her cuteness in all of its glory.

We went over to a friends’ house to have dinner and then go trick-or-treating together in their neighborhood.  Their neighborhood is perfect for trick-or-treating; safe with minimal traffic.  There were a lot of kids out.  We started off with a pizza party.  My husband met us at their house.  He came dressed as a farmer, even wearing his straw hat.  He had put our wheelbarrow in the back of his pick-up.  He was going to wheel our daughter around the neighborhood.  That is a lot of walking for a 2 year old.  My husband is awesome!

At first, Michaela was shy.  She would go up to the door with the other girls and just stand there.  At each house my husband would tip over the wheelbarrow so that she could jump out.  As the night went on, she got more and more confident.  She would say “thank you”, even if she did not master “trick-or-treat”.  She had so much confidence that she would grab multiple items out of the bowl, when people would offer her a choice.  Each time she would climb into the wheelbarrow, she would say, “more candy”.  We could not stop laughing.  The neighborhood loved that my husband pushed her around in a wheelbarrow.  I think that she was the youngest kid out.  Our friends’ daughter would help her up the steps when she wanted to go up without me, which became more frequent as she got the hang of it.

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As I stood at the curb with the other moms who were trick-or-treating with us, I felt the tremendous joy of motherhood.  I had so much fun.  Sure I have fond memories of trick-or-treating in 6 inches of snow, I am from Montana, but watching my daughter gave me such profound joy.  I had the most fun that I have had in a while.  She brought joy to the people handing out candy too.  I could tell as they interacted with her.

Holidays like Hallowe’en, which for us Catholics is not over yet, can be stressful.  The costumes, pumpkins, candy, and all of the preparation can take away from the fun.  As parents, we get to experience the fun and wonder that our child experiences each year, if we allow ourselves too.  Every year holidays take on a new dimension.  This year, our daughter really experienced Hallowe’en.  Last year, we took her to our neighbors’ houses, but it was bitter cold and she was only one.  This year she could figure it out from the older girls.  It is a strange and wonderful feeling to watch my 2 year old to bravely go up to a stranger’s door without me.  The one night a year they take candy from a stranger!  I also started to understand why some parents dress up with their kids.  It is a family night.  My husband got fully involved, after joking with me that he was going to stay at our friends’ house, hand out candy and drink a beer.  Of course I gave him the wife look.  It made me wish that I had thought of something to wear.  I went as a mom.

The longer I am a mother, the more I realize that I am fully alive in this wonderful, painful, challenging, joy-filled, amazing, vocation.  Seeing my daughter grow fills me with bittersweet joy.  It is wonderful to see her develop and learn, but at the same time it pulls at my heart.  I want to hold her tight and keep her as she is, but that is not how life works.  Motherhood is a constant lesson in letting go.  Isn’t that a part of love?  Allowing someone to blossom in their own way, of their own free will.  It is deeply challenging for a mom.  So last night I stood in the dark watching my child filled with peace and joy, while experience the cut that is letting her go.  That is why marriage is a vocation, it prunes away at us.  It teaches us to see joy, which only comes from God.  I am deeply thankful for last night and I look forward to the joyous occasions that are in store for my family and me.  Happy Feast of All Saints!  Get to Mass. :o)