Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Back when the kids were smaller and we were poorer

As I was writing the article for the NCRegister linked below, I saw that Rebecca Frech had written about things she misses about being poor. She reminded me of the friendships I thrived upon with fellow mothers in the throes of early motherhood. We spent so many mornings together sharing food, watching our children play, and drinking cups and cups of coffee. We made meals for each other at the birth of our babies. We shared clothes. We basked in the simplicity of having small children without busy schedules of older children. Those friendships are so special to me, and now I live hundreds of miles away from those ladies I spent so many hours with, I still cherish the friendships we had back then while we stay in touch now.

Pancakes were a lunch we often made for each other. Whenever I make them for lunch now, I think about those friends. They are the ultimate comfort food on a cold Fall, Winter, or Spring day in these northern states that I have been settled in. They are also an inexpensive meal that I can guarantee my children will eat, and mostly healthy since I use whole wheat flour.

We paid off my student loans last month, and have not yet quite realized the financial freedom which we now have. With older children the money will be redirected towards things like piano lessons, home school supplies, more clothes. But I will always try to remember the times when money was more sparse and when we felt guilty for buying even the simplest of things.

NCRegister Blog: Our Open Hands Can Open the Hearts and Arms of Mothers

There is a growing feeling among pro-life Catholic Millennials that those segments of the pro-life movement that focus just on law have failed to see and do what will really save lives. Having all been born since Roe v. Wade, we have lived all our lives with the reality of legal abortion. Many of us spent countless hours of our youth praying outside abortion clinics, being yelled at by passing drivers, being scorned by the media, but not afraid to be persecuted for our defense of life. We have heard from our earliest days that Pope Saint John Paul II told us, “Do not be afraid!” So we have been brave in our defense of truth and life issues, and we are not afraid to continue to face persecution.

Read more at the NCRegister...

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

My Intention for St. Jude, Patron of Hopeless Causes and Desperate Situations

Today begins the novena to St. Jude, Patron of Hopeless Causes and Desperate Situations. Last year my intention was for baby T's teeth to come in and him to start sleeping in longer than 45-90 min stretches at night because I was desperate for sleep. St. Jude has been a dear patron of mine since that time. I ask for his help a lot.

In this year's novena I am praying that enough citizens decide to vote third party or write-in a candidate for president of the United States that neither Mrs. C nor Mr. T win the presidency. Or that neither of them is elected by some other means.

This presidential election is truly a hopeless cause and desperate situation.

Here is the link to the St. Jude Novena at Pray More Novenas.

St. Jude, Patron of Hopeless Causes and Desperate Situations, 

Pray For Us!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

At the NCRegister Blog: In Memory of the Babies We Have Lost

I have four living children. I also am a mother to two others. The only evidence I have of the existence of one of my children is a hunch based on careful charting, an early period, and a blood test with traces of HCG, which is a hormone produced by a placenta. His or her existence on Earth, when my eldest was 10 months old, was brief, but not forgotten by us. Our child always was and still is in the hands of God.

Today, October 15, is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. And interestingly enough, in a country where it is legal to murder one’s unborn children, we have a day to honor the loss of innocent life when it happens through miscarriage, through stillbirth, or through the death of a newborn baby...

Read the rest at the National Catholic Register...

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Story of Our Relationship, Part Two: Abroad in Austria

Where were we? M and I had just broken up after a crazy, intense beginning of our relationship. All of July and August I struggled to let go of him, because he was trying to figure out his vocation. Yet, every time I prayed about him I knew that there was something more for us. I felt deep inside that we were supposed to be together.

Behind the wall in Gaming, Austria.
In trying to remember that time, I recently reread my prayer journals from when were broken up, and I asked my mom why I had such a hard time letting go of M. Again and again in my journals I talked about how young and foolish I was, at just 19 years old. But somehow I felt that this was a crucial relationship in my life, and it turns out, it was.  My mom pointed out that I really did know, that God was showing me in my heart, that M and I were meant to be together, and that watching me that summer, she saw what was going on.

During that summer I decided that I should also revisit my own discernment of whether I was called to religious life. I prayed a lot about it, and eventually I spoke with a nun that I had known in high school. During the last conversation that I had with her, I came to the realization that while the call to be the bride of Christ was beautiful and wonderful and so, so attractive, it was not where I was being called. My heart was still being drawn to M, and I felt that it would never stop tending towards him. I was right.
The Kartause where we lived, studied, and prayed. Of all the places in Europe, this is one I'd love to be in again.
At the end of August I saw M for the first time after our break up. We were at Dulles International airport in Washington, D.C. And he claims that I was giving him longing looks, but I can tell you that he was giving me the same looks (accompanied by his brown eyes and long dark lashes). On the overnight flight to Vienna for our semester in Austria, I could not handle my desire to talk to him and tried to get him to talk to me. This is pretty much the story of most of our semester abroad: I could not handle my desire to just talk to him and tried desperately to not to. We traveled together in the same group of friends, snatched hours of conversations, gave each other longing looks, went for walks together. All the while I tried desperately to let go of him, and could not. 
We took a lot of pictures of each other.

But few of just us. So here we are in Spain.
I spent the semester praying a 56 day rosary novena for a number of intentions, but the biggest prayer breakthrough for me was when I realized that it was not a selfish thing to pray for M to finish discerning. I prayed that he would finally know one way or the other. I realized that it was not actually selfish for me to ask God to show M His will for M. I had been resisting, because I felt like it was selfish to want the discernment to be over.

This path around Gaming was a favorite haunt of ours together and separate.
It took nearly a whole semester of waiting, praying, and trying to overcome my attraction to him. A whole semester of traveling all over Europe, slipping off to take walks together, late night talks on overnight trains, praying at Masses in every language, and spending hours (separately) in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. As the weeks went by, it became slowly more clear to both of us that he was going to eventually ask me to date him again. (As far as everyone who was on Austria campus with us were concerned, we were definitely an item.) And for him the discernment of his vocation was not just to be a priest or not, but he already knew in his heart that if he discerned to date me again and to not pursue the priesthood, that we would eventually get married. For him, discerning the call to marriage was about the call to marry a particular person, and I suppose in the end it was the same for me. I did not settle on marriage as my calling until there was M in my life.

The most significant trip of our semester was when we went as a study abroad program to Rome. All of the students in Franciscan's Austria program went on a school sponsored 10 day visit to Rome and then Assisi. In Rome I finally worked on overcoming my desire to be next to him whenever possible. We would go on walking tours of the city and I would often stand next to M. Yet, I slowly stopped myself from doing that. I resisted. I also had several emotional meltdowns while praying in Rome (we went to daily Mass as a school and had daily prayer times). I cried a lot, and was so thankful for my good friends who supported me in my weepiness. A few days into the visit in Rome, I noticed that while I had not gone to stand by M on our walking tours, he was starting to stand by me. See the difference? He was seeking me out. Then we went to Assisi for a couple of days, and again I was successful in resisting my desire to be close to him; I even enjoyed spending time with other people and letting go of my anxiety about the waiting. I do not know why I found it so hard to wait.

The view from the hermitage outside of Assisi.
One of the days in Assisi, it was a chilly afternoon, we walked up a large hill to the place of the hermitage of St. Francis and his friars. I began walking alone, but M appeared next to me, walked beside me silently as we prayed our rosaries. He even carried my jacket for me when I became warm and took it off. When we reached the hermitage, we parted ways and wandered alone in the paths of the woods. I found another friend to walk down with, but I had again found some freedom from my desperate longing to be called his.

Thanksgiving was few weeks after our return from Rome and Assisi (which we did through the mountains in a snowstorm), and there was a Thanksgiving Ball after the dinner. A few days before the ball, M asked me if I would dance a most of the dances with him at the ball. I immediately said yes, seeing his desire as a good sign. Then I slowly realized that I did not want to just half be his partner at the ball, I wanted to either go with him or not dance with him at all. So, I went to his door, knocked on it and told him so. (I have never been subtle with guys I suppose.) And to my surprise, he immediately asked me to be his date for the ball, and I, in my astonishment, accepted him.

It snowed in the mountains the night we bussed back from Rome.
Then the ball was anticipated with much trepidation. Was he going to tell me his final decision there? Were we going to be officially a couple again? I put too much weight on what would happen at the ball leading up to it. During the ball, we stepped out to go on one of our evening walks around Gaming, and when he clearly did not ask me out again on that walk, I made a decision to just have fun with him there. We went back into the ball and just enjoyed being together, with a freedom we had not had together all semester. We were there as a date, so we could enjoy being together as on a date. And I realized that I was not over him, and he was not over me, but that we had been falling in love with each other again all along.

These are the very pines.
And then two days later, in due time, he took me on a morning walk. We walked one of our usual routes, rounded a bend, and under a row of tall pines, in the snow, he asked me to date him again. And of course I agreed to it.

We spent our last 20 days in Austria as an official couple, free to spend time together without fear of impeding M's discernment; he had chosen to pursue a relationship with me. We had chosen it together, and as we went back to American I joyfully anticipated our future together.

And I can't really stop here. I will have to tell you the rest another time.

Monday, October 3, 2016

At the NCRegister: How to Defeat the Noonday Devil and Sanctify Your Daily Life

One of the oldest tricks of the Deceiver is disguising his temptations so that we do not realize what they are. Very recently I had a revelation about the vice of acedia or sloth in my life. I have been dealing with feelings of resentment, discontent with my life, and a desire to be doing something other than what I am doing for much of my life. It has never been a continuous feeling, but one I would have when I was alone trying to get work done and once I became a mother a feeling I would have when I was home with my children going about my daily tasks. In fact my feelings of discontentment would increase often when I would be doing the Sisyphean tasks that come with motherhood, ones that demand attention day after day and week after week, and rarely when I would sit and stare at social media for too many minutes of my day. It was a feeling and a temptation that wanted me to be dissatisfied with and seek to escape from the good things in my life.

Read the rest at the National Catholic Register...

Friday, September 9, 2016

Seven Quick Takes: Cake, Planners, and Flowers

I am linking up, yet again, with Kelly for Seven Quick Takes.

1. We celebrated the Nativity of Our Lady yesterday, and the girls wanted me to make all of ours favorite cake. It was inspired by the peanut-butter cup cream pie I always order for my birthday. It is chocolate cake, frosted in chocolate with peanut butter frosting decorations and chopped Reese's cups on top and on the side, and the middle layer consists of a thick layer of peanut butter frosting, chocolate frosting, and more chopped peanut butter cups. It is sooooo good. We figured if Our Lady was having cake with us for her birthday, this is the one she would want.
2. The girls devised a new way to elect a president while I was working on the cake.
The girls:
"We should have whoever can make the best cake be the next president!"
"Yeah, that would be awesome!"
"Mom makes the best cakes."
"Mom, do you want to be the next president?"

"Not really, but I bet I can make a better cake then the people running..."
It might be time for the 28th amendment, but I hope someone else can make a better cake than I do.
3. I featured our house growing morning glories a month or so ago, but we also planted them all along the fence adjacent to the driveway. They are pretty stunning these days.
4. We also have some blue ones on the house, which are our particular favorite.
5. We sent the professor off to his first day of school this semester, and because we had already started school a month ago, I did not mind as much the fussing of a certain toddler-baby. He had been so cheerful all of August that I knew it was just him feeling unwell. The school week went fine after that, and we are peacefully anticipating the weekend!
6. Blessed is She made a liturgical planner for the school year, and I have been using it and loving it. It makes my life feel so much more ordered.
For some reason it is helping to have my day written down, instead of scheduled in my head. It is not that I am doing things any differently than I was before; I am just writing it in the planner. It is absolutely lovely as well, with a full two page calendar every month, notes for planning things at the beginning of each week, and hourly slots for each day.
So, so, nice. They are taking preorders right now for one for the 2017 Calendar year. Don't miss out if you are interested!

My friend Anna is doing a giveaway of the 2017 one. So, you could take your chances over there.

7. Speaking of Anna, and our friend Jacqui, all of us were featured together in an article in The Catholic Spirit, the Archdiocesan newspaper for the Twin Cities. Check it out, mom-bloggers are so interesting... ;)