Friday, April 29, 2011

The Pregnancy School Part VI

This next birth left me learning another very important, although not necessarily faith-based, lesson and that is that some things are better left not shared with lots of people.  Ranking right up there on my list of things better left not shared is the birth of a baby.  Sorry, but my experience with this one confirmed that for me!

By the time I was pregnant with our next child, which was very soon after my miscarriage, we were growing in our faith by leaps and bounds, we had started homeschooling and I had discovered home births.  Now I never thought I'd partake in one of those, but after my last experience at the hospital, I felt moved to give it a try.

At this point in my life I was full of exuberance and ready to take on the world, so I decided to invite my mother and mother-in-law to be with us at our first home birth.  I don't think either of them talked to me for a week after that :)  It was a rather difficult birth and there was a doctor, a doctor-in-training, two nurses, my husband, my mother-in-law and myself all in our small bedroom.  My mother opted to stay downstairs with my children, it was the middle of the afternoon at this point, and to cover up my loud vocalizations they just kept turning the movie up louder and louder.  Finally by 3:00 in the afternoon I was begging God for mercy (something I had never been able to do before because I didn't know anything about God's mercy :) and our fourth daughter was born at 3:28. 

In my enthusiasm (or in reality, my deliriousness) I called my kids in to see their new sister.  Unfortunately no one had been brave enough to tell me that I looked like death warmed over, so my girls were a bit taken aback when they walked in.  It wasn't till I saw the pictures of them with their new sister that I realized how horrible I had looked.  No wonder everyone was upset with me :)

The next few months were very trying for us.  We were trying to sell our house (it was kind of funny that our agent had called during the birth to see if she could show the house.  Now that would have been quite a "showing"), my husband's back went out in a major way, I had a crack in my nipple the size of the Grand Canyon so every time my daughter nursed I cried, and it was Christmas.  

How I wish, as I look back now, that I could have been a much better sufferer!  Hopefully during all of that time there was at least one millisecond that I was able to make use of.  Why is it that many times we don't realize until we are out of the trial period how badly we behaved?  It is a good thing that time as we know it does not exist with God, so maybe my desire to have done it all better can still be put to some good use.

Life went on and we somehow managed to sell our house and move to a bigger house closer to our church.  As our faith grew, so did our family once again.  When daughter number four was 13 months old, I found out I was pregnant again...

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Pregnancy School Part V

The pregnancy went along fairly well, not much that I can remember standing out about it, except that I remember craving Quarter Pounders with cheese, no onions the ENTIRE 9 months.  Whenever this child has a problem, we blame it on all that high-quality pregnancy food!

So we finally get to delivery time and the contractions hit full force.  We had just finished a lovely dinner of steak and potatoes when I started with these intense labor pains that would take my breath away.  I called the doctor and couldn't even talk to him, so of course he told me to hurry on in.

Well, let's just say that he was a bit miffed at me when I got there and he checked me out just to find out that he left his house prematurely.  Gotta love a doctor who gets ticked off in front of you because you thought you were going to have a baby any moment, but you really weren't.  Oh well, in his frustration he decided to start me on pitocin, since he was already there and all.  In my ignorance I said okay, since I was already there and all.

So here is where I had my introduction into how seriously God takes you when you say you're going to offer up your sufferings to Him.  I thought that meant that I could have my epidural and offer up any pain and/or inconvenience I might feel beyond that.  Sounded pretty good to me.  He thought that meant that I should be pushed beyond what I thought I was capable of :)  So they got the pitocin started, which got the contractions started, so I called for the epidural (which, if you remember, didn't work the first two times, so I'm not sure why I expected it to work this time) and, you guessed it, it didn't work. Well, one thing all of that did do was cause me to throw up my lovely dinner all over my wonderful husband :)  Men have it sooo easy, don't they?

I take that back, the epidural worked for exactly 30 minutes; the amount of time it took me to pray my rosary, because I hadn't prayed it yet that day.  Once I said the last prayer it stopped working again.  By that time the pitocin was in full swing and I started telling the professionals in the room that it felt as if this baby was going to shoot out my stomach.  Of course they didn't believe me, until I really started to tell them that if they didn't figure something out, this baby was going to shoot out my stomach right at them.  That started everyone yelling at everyone else.  The doctor was yelling at the nurse to turn off the pitocin drip, the nurse yelling at the doctor that she did and me yelling at both of them that they better figure something out quick!

Somehow our third baby girl was born the way she was supposed to be born and was just as wonderful as the first two.  I have to say, however, that that experience made me very leery about offering up my suffering for something.  I was so taken aback by the way it all went that for many years (okay, even 15 years later :) I have a hard time in offering something up for fear that it is going to get a lot worse!  Trust!  I still am working on that one!

I had a brief respite (well, an extra year) before I got pregnant again.  First, though, I had another miscarriage.  My other children were too young to really know what was going on, but in the way that children can be so perceptive, my eldest daughter came to me that day with a picture that she drew of her and her two sisters staring up at a rainbow.  God is good!  That is definitely a lesson I have been taught over and over and over again! 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A B See - G is for...

Guys, as in army guys!

 Check out the other entries for this week, or add your own by clicking on the image below.

Next up is baby #3 in The Pregnancy School!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Sabbath

Now there was a man named Joseph from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man, who had not consented to their purpose and deed and he was looking for the kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud,

and laid him in a rock-hewn tomb, where no one had ever yet been laid.

It was the day of Preparation, and the sabbath was beginning. The women who had come with him from Galilee followed and saw the tomb and how his body was laid; then they returned and prepared spices and ointments. On the sabbath they rested according to the commandment. Luke 23:50-56

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Crucifixion

So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called the place of a skull, which is called in Hebrew Golgotha. John 19:17

And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene who was coming in from the country and laid on him the cross to carry it behind Jesus. Luke 23:26And when they came to the place which is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on the right and one on the left. And Jesus said, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." And they cast lots to divide his garments.

And the people stood by, watching; but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, "He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God his Chosen One!" The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him vinegar, and saying, "If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself:" There was also an inscription over him "This is the King of the Jews." Luke 23:33-38

It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun's light failed; and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice said, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit:" And having said this he breathed his last. Luke 23:44-46

And he was taken down from the cross and placed in the arms of his sorrowing mother.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Flashback to the Last Supper

When it was evening, he sat at table with the twelve disciples;

and as they were eating, he said, "Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me." And they were very sorrowful, and began to say to him one after another, "Is it I Lord?" He answered, "He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me, will betray me. The Son of man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born." Judas, who betrayed him, said, "Is it I, Master?" He said to him, "You have said so." Matthew 26:20-25

Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to the disciples and said, "Take, eat; this is my body."

And he took a chalice, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, "Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins." Matthew 26:26-28

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Judas, Pilate and the Crowning with Thorns

While he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the Twelve, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, "The one I shall kiss is the man; seize him." And he came up to Jesus at once and said, "Hail, Master!" And he kissed him. Matthew 26:47-49

And when those who were about him saw what would follow, they said, "Lord, shall we strike with the sword?" And one of them struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus said, "No more of this!" And he touched his ear and healed him. Luke 22:49-51

Now Jesus stood before the governor; and the governor asked him, "Are you the King of the Jews?" Jesus said to him, "You have said so." But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders he made no answer. Then Pilate said to him, "Do you not hear how many things they testify against you?" But he gave him no answer not even to a single charge; so that the governor wondered greatly. Matthew 27:11-14

So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, "I am innocent of this righteous man's blood; see to it yourselves." Matthew 27:24-25

Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the praetorium and they gathered the whole battalion before him. And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe upon him, and plaiting a crown of thorns they put it on his head, and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him they mocked him, saying, "Hail, King of the Jews!" And they spat upon him, and took the reed and struck him on the head. And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe, and put his own clothes on him, and led him away to crucify him. Matthew 27:27-31

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Pregnancy School Part IV

And so began the search...for exactly what, we weren't sure.  We just knew there had to be something more exciting out there.  Maybe another denomination?  Maybe just another parish?  God is so good, though, that He didn't make us search long.  What was born next was what allowed our subsequent children to come into the world.  Without this birth, none of the others would have been likely to occur.
About that same time, our Catholic parish was holding 40 hours of Eucharistic Adoration.  I had no idea what it was, but I felt compelled to sign up.  I showed up at my appointed time  feeling pretty good about myself for doing something so holy (even though I still wasn't sure exactly what it was I was doing :).  I grabbed a book on my way in about examination of conscience.  I began thumbing through it and boy did my mind start to reel.  

What did they mean that birth control was wrong?  Why weren't other denominations the "true" church?  You mean I couldn't pick and choose what I wanted to believe?  

Believe it or not, this was all news to me.  Still unknown to me was that this was the beginning of the birth of my faith.  God used a childhood friend of mine to begin to bring the truth to me, as well as a powerful movement of the Holy Spirit.  My short search ended right then and there.  I believed in everything the Catholic church teaches - lock, stock and barrel.

But back to that birth control thing.  Our second daughter was only 6 months old.  I still wasn't convinced I wanted more children, although I knew it was wrong to use birth control to prevent them.  What to do?  We called our parish and took a crash course on Natural Family Planning. 

God was so patient with us as we learned about our faith and learned to trust Him.  We might not have been completely ready  (but then again how many times are you really ready?) but five months later we found out that our third baby was on its way.  Our first post-conversion baby!  How exciting!  Finally I would know what to do with all that suffering...

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A B See - F is for...

Flowers.  But instead of posting the same picture twice, just look up at the picture in my header and you'll see which one I chose for this week's entry :)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Pregnancy School Part III

After about a year I started to think, "What if it takes me three years to get pregnant again?"  We really didn't want our kids to be four years apart in age, so we began to think that maybe we should start trying again.  Not that I had any thoughts at that time about what God could or couldn't do, but He found that tiny crack in the door and stuck His foot into it.  

Wow, were we surprised.  Within that first month we had conceived again and nine months later we had another bouncing, baby girl.  The pregnancy itself was rather uneventful but the delivery was a little more difficult.  With our first baby I had tried an epidural but it didn't work very well;  everything was completely numb except this small area above my left hip bone.  All the pains of labor came pouring out of that one small spot.  However, this time I was more optimistic, so I tried again.  Unfortunately this one didn't work at all.  To top it off, I had gone into labor right while I had the stomach flu.  Try having contractions while you're running to the bathroom to throw up...well, I won't go into all the gory details.

Our little girl was born (sunny side up, I might add) and...slept, and slept and slept.  I look back now and wonder why no one told me she looked so emaciated. You could light a bomb under that girl and she wouldn't wake up.  Good for my sleeping, not good for her nursing.

So we managed to make it through that time, as well as all of the adjustments that come with having two children instead of just one.  At that time, my husband and I began searching.  It just seemed as if there should be something more to life.  I had my two kids (in my mind, I was DONE :), I was working on getting my teaching certificate, I should be fulfilled, shouldn't I?

It was during this first year of our second daughters life that God started to make His presence known.  It was time for me to do my student teaching and I got hooked up with some great fourth-grade teachers who also happened to be know, the kind who actually TALK about their faith. 

I'd come home and share with my husband what they would talk about and what they would tell me of their churches and we began to wonder if maybe there wasn't something better to be found beyond the confines of our lack-luster Catholic faith.  Maybe we should go shopping, we thought...

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - The Birthday Present Edition

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Pregnancy School Part II

...and this time, 9 months later we were the proud parents of a bouncing baby girl.  She also turned out to be a very agreeable, totally flexible, baby girl, which was a good thing.

At this point, I still didn't know God, I still didn't understand suffering and I was still on the "life just isn't fair" tour.  While I had been pregnant, both of my grandmothers died.  It just didn't seem fair that they had waited  so long to see my baby and neither of them made it.

I also discovered during the pregnancy that I had a thyroid tumor.  The doctors  did what tests they could at the time and couldn't come up with anything conclusive, so once our daughter was born I had to undergo more tests.  The result of all that was that when she was 8 weeks old I was scheduled for surgery to have it removed.  

I desperately wanted to nurse her so I worked very hard with a lactation consultant to pump and store my milk so that she could still receive my milk through the surgery.  The hospital was great; they put me on the maternity floor so I could have her with me and worked with me to get her nursing again.

The week before my surgery, I also started having gall bladder attacks.  Fortunately I was already scheduled for surgery, so the doctors decided to do a 2 for 1 deal on me.  If the gall bladder went well, which it did, they would move on to the thyroid, which they did.  What a deal!

My daughter took to nursing again only to be cut off once more for good, because two months later I had to go back to the hospital for radiation since my thyroid tumor was cancerous.  Oh the frustrations of having a 3 month old and not being able to hold her close to me at all for the first week, and then only for short periods of time for a few weeks after that.

The lessons I learned during this time only came to me after I had my conversion.  I can look back now and see how God's hand was in everything.  I am thankful for the grace that I can see was present then, even though I didn't realize it at the time.  I am thankful that God made my daughter as laid-back as she was.  I didn't see any of this then.  It just all seemed unfair.  If I have one regret about all of this, it is that I wish I could have made use of all of that suffering.  It seems like such a waste to have not done anything with it.  However, since God does not work within our time constraints, maybe He still made use of it.

I'm happy to say that things got better after those first three months.  It's funny, though, how after trying for so long to get pregnant, I still only wanted to have two kids and I was in no hurry to have another one.  However, our plans are not always God's plans, especially when we aren't working that closely with Him...

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Pregnancy School Part I

Last week my youngest child turned six.  We got to reminiscing about his birth and, well, him in general.  Later on I really started thinking about all of my pregnancies and first few months of babyhood and I realized that God has used that time with each new baby to teach me A LOT!  Each time was a different, but equally powerful lesson.  I thought it might be interesting to put it all here so that I can have a record of it for myself, as well as for anyone else who likes to read these kind of stories.  

As an introduction, my husband and I were both cradle Catholics when we first got married.  We went to Mass on Sunday most of the time, and if we didn't make it, at least I still felt guilty (I know, pretty pathetic, huh?).  After a year of being married, we decided that we were ready for kids.  God, however, must have decided we weren't because we tried for almost three years before we finally conceived.  Our first pregnancy, so much anticipated by us, ended after a few short weeks in a miscarriage.

After trying for so long, we were devastated to see it end this way.  At that time I knew nothing of suffering or of perseverance.  I didn't know how to "offer it up".  I looked at others I knew who were conceiving children out of wedlock and was mad.  Here I was doing it the "right way" and this is what happened!  No matter how I looked at it, it just didn't seem fair.  That, unfortunately, was the lesson I was learning isn't fair.  You can do everything right (which of course I really wasn't :) and still life will deal you an unfair hand.

That was a very difficult time in our lives, but what could we do but pull up our bootstraps and try again. Shortly thereafter, we conceived again...

Sunday, April 10, 2011

A B See - E is for...

Easter Eggs!  I know it is a bit early, but hey, I'm at E and I couldn't think of anything else!

Join the fun at...

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

John Paul II Activity

On the homeschooling front, we've been working our way through our John Paul II unit study in preparation for his beatification on May 1st.  

One of the activities we have listed in there is to find a list of all of the countries that John Paul II traveled to during his pontificate and plot them on a world map.

We found out that he made 104 trips outside of Italy during his 26 year reign; to every continent except Antarctica!  I printed out maps of each of the continents and the kids went through and marked each of his trips on the maps.

At one point my son said, "He must not have liked hot places because he traveled everywhere in Africa except to the countries that are mostly desert".  Some of the countries he went to were so small you can't imagine many people being present!

This was a great activity and it shows just how well-traveled a pope he was.  Not only that, but it was a great geography lesson, too!   While trying to find some of these small countries, we found out some interesting information on them and saw some beautiful scenery.

If you're interested in, there's still time to download the unit study and get started before the beatification!


Monday, April 4, 2011

Trust in the Lord

This seems to be the theme of my Lent this year.  I haven't been tested on it (yet) but the Lord has definitely been throwing that message at me a lot lately.  I try not to imagine what it is He is preparing me for :)

I just finished two great books on trusting God with your love story and your marriage.  Both books are by Eric and Leslie Ludy and are very much worth reading.  Okay, so the second book is on the mushy side, but if you love a great love story, you'll love the book "When Dreams Come True".  

Now I am on to "God's Smuggler", the story about the missionaries who trust God for absolutely everything.  I'm about 1/3 of the way through and it is a very engaging read.

I've also been reading a little bit of the book "The Passion of Christ and the Sorrow of God" each day.  It, too, has been addressing that same topic of trusting in the Lord and just focusing on doing His Will.  In this passage, the author talks about God's Will and the sacrament of the moment, a key point if you are going to trust in God:

Let us try then, during this Lent, to learn this lesson from our Lord's agony:  the love of God's will, the sacrament of the present moment.  It is not a question of feelings, of never being sad at what God sends us:  we are not to try to be greater than Christ himself.  It is a question of learning to see all events, even the smallest, for what they most deeply are:  Steps in the story of God's love for man.

There are some great points here that make trusting completely in God a lot easier.  They are:

1.  Live in the present moment.  If all you have to do is focus on the NOW and not the past or the future, then trusting in God becomes a lot more doable.  

2.  Remember that God loves us, more than anyone and more than we can comprehend. He loves us beyond words.  No matter what happens, no matter how bleak it looks, God loves us and always wants what is best for us.  Remembering that in our most trying times will definitely make it easier to trust in the Lord.

3.  Nowhere does it say that we must be ecstatic when God sends us trials.  All He asks is that we trust in Him and accept His will for us at that moment.

It is so easy to sit here and type this and nod my head in agreement; even embrace all that I have read and written.  However, when the time of great trial comes, whether it be for the world in general or something specific to my life, will I be able to hang on to those ideals?  Will my faith be strong enough to weather the storm?

I think that is why God sends us these study sessions ahead of time.  If we read and accept and try to put these ideas into action during the little trials of every-day life, then when the big storms come, hopefully we can do a better job of letting go and letting God.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

A B See - D is for...

Daddy-Daughter Dance.  This one was actually taken last year, but I liked it better because all of the girls are there instead of this year when one of them was missing :)

I was going to choose the photo "Dad's Dead Deer" but I thought this one might be more appealing!

Grab your camera and the alphabet and join in the fun.  Just click on the link below!

Oh, and happy Laetare Sunday.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Movie Recommendation

We've been on a great run of good movies lately.  There have been times when we've gone almost a year without watching a newly released movie, so to see three good ones in the past week has been fun and refreshing.

(Okay, I'm only going to talk about one, but the other two we watched were "The Tourist" and "Tangled".  Both good movies!)

The one that most surprised me was "Megamind".  When my husband and I had seen the previews at the theater, we weren't that impressed and so we just pushed it off the radar screen.  Recently it came out on video and a friend recommended it because she said it had a really good message.  We were looking for a weekend movie to watch so we tried it.

What a hoot!  We loved it.  So much so that my husband, who rarely watches movies more than once, agreed to watch it a second day in a row.  It was funny, the music was good (good ole 80s hard rock, but I liked that they would cut the song off before any offensive language was heard!) and the moral of the story was great:  evil doesn't pay!  In fact, an often quoted line in the movie is:

As long as there is evil, good will rise up against it.

And that is just what happens.  The main character, who was "forced" through a set of circumstances into a life of evil, has a chance to turn it around and do good. What a great story for all ages.  I might be behind the times here, but if, on the off chance you haven't seen this movie yet, by all means run out and rent it this weekend!