Words to live by from YOUCAT

What should you do once you have come to know God?

Once you have come to know God, you must put him in the first place in your life. And with that a new life begins. You should be able to recognize Christians by the fact that they love even their enemies.

After all, to know God means to know that he who created and willed me, who looks at me every moment with love, who blesses and upholds my life, who has the world and the people I love in his hand, who waits longingly for me, who wishes to fulfill and perfect me and to make me dwell forever with him, is there. To nod with your head at this is not enough. Christians must adopt Jesus’ way of life. (YOUCAT question 34)

Do I put God first in my life? Can people tell I’m a Christian by the way I treat others, even people I don’t like? Have I adopted Jesus’ way of life, or do I just nod my head at God’s love?

It’s not enough to believe that God is love. I have to believe that God in His love wants to make me perfect, and I have to realize that He can’t make me perfect without my consent and cooperation. God’s love isn’t some touchy-feely “feeling.” Like the old DC Talk song says “Luv is a Verb.” Part of God’s love is the action of providing all the best for me. This includes purifying and perfecting me.  I can imperfectly provide the best for others by doing my best for them, by going out of my way for them. I can, to paraphrase St. Paul “anticipate others in showing honor” (see Romans 12:10).

Infertility Awareness Week, 2014: A Catholic Perspective

This week is Infertility Awareness Week. Having suffered primary infertility myself, this is a subject very close to my heart. As a Catholic, I reject any form of infertility treatment that separates the act of marital love and the act of procreation. However, we don’t reject medical and surgical treatments that will cause a faulty reproductive system to work the way it should. I went through much testing, imaging, giving myself shots and taking dozens of pills (both hormonal prescriptions and vitamin/mineral supplements), and a gluten-free diet. Today, I am the mother of twins, conceived by the grace of God and the assistance of my doctor, but I don’t know what will happen in the future, I may experience infertility again. I have found a community of likeminded women in a “secret” Facebook group, and we would like to share the following with you.


Infertility Awareness Week, 2014: A Catholic Perspective 

 

One in six couples will experience infertility at some point in their marriage. Infertility is medically defined as the inability to conceive after 12 cycles of “unprotected” intercourse or 6 cycles using “fertility-focused” intercourse. A couple who has never conceived has “primary infertility” and a couple who has conceived in the past but is unable to again has “secondary infertility”. Many couples who experience infertility have also experienced miscarriage or pregnancy loss.

 

This week, April 20 – 26, 2014 is National Infertility Awareness Week.

 

We, a group of Catholic women who have experienced infertility, would like to take a moment to share with you what the experience of infertility is like, share ways that you can be of support to a family member or friend, and share resources that are helpful.

 

If you are experiencing infertility, please know you are not alone. You are loved and prayed for and there are resources to help you with the spiritual, emotional, and medical aspects of this journey

 

The Experience of Infertility

 

In the beginning of trying to conceive a child, there is much hope and anticipation; for some, even a small fear of “what if we get pregnant right away?” There is planning of how to tell your husband and when you’d announce to the rest of the family. It is a joyful time that for most couples results in a positive pregnancy test within the first few months. However, for one in six couples, the months go by without a positive test and the fears and doubts begin to creep in. At the 6th month of trying using fertility-focused intercourse (using Natural Family Planning), the couple knows something is wrong and is considered “infertile” by doctors who understand the charting of a woman’s pattern of fertility.  At the 9th month of trying, the month that, had they conceived that first month, a baby would have been arriving, is often the most painful of the early milestones. At the 12th month mark the couple “earns” the label from the mainstream medical community as “infertile”.

 

As the months go by, the hopes and dreams are replaced with fears, doubts, and the most invasive doctors’ appointments possible. As a Catholic couple faithful to the teachings of the Church, we are presented by secular doctors with options that are not options for us and are told things like “you’ll never have children” and “you have unexplained infertility”; by our Catholic doctors we are told to keep praying and to have hope as they roll up their sleeves and work hard to figure out the cause of our infertility, with each visit asking, “How are you and your husband doing with all of this?”

 

We find it hard to fit in. We have faith and values that are different than our secular culture, but our childlessness (primary infertility) or small family (secondary infertility) makes us blend in with the norm. We have faith and values that are in line with the teachings of our Church, but our daily life looks so much different than the others who share those values and that makes us stand out in a way that we would rather not. We are Catholic husbands and wives living out our vocation fully. Our openness to life does not come in the form of children; it takes on the form of a quiet “no” or “not yet” or “maybe never” from God each month as we slowly trod along. Our openness to and respect for life courageously resists the temptations presented to us by the secular artificial reproductive technology industry.

 

Often times our friends and family do not know what to say to us, and so they choose to not say anything. Our infertility stands like a great big elephant in the room that separates us from others. Most of the time, we don’t want to talk about it, especially not in public or in group settings because it is painful and we will often shed tears. We realize it is difficult and ask that you realize this difficulty as well. We will do our best to be patient and to explain our situation to those who genuinely would like to know, but please respect our privacy and the boundaries we establish, as not only is infertility painful, it is also very personal.

 

One of the hardest experiences of infertility is that it is cyclical. Each month we get our hopes up as we try; we know what our due date would be as soon as we ovulate; we know how we would share the news with our husband and when and how we would tell our parents. We spend two weeks walking a fine line between hope and realism, between dreaming and despairing. When our next cycle begins – with cramps and bleeding and tears – we often only have a day or two before we must begin taking the medications that are meant to help us conceive. There is little to no time to mourn the dream that is once again not achievable; no time to truly allow ourselves to heal from one disappointment before we must begin hoping and trying again. We do not get to pick what days our hormones will plummet or how the medications we are often taking will affect us. We do not get to pick the day that would be “best” for us for our next cycle to start. We are at the mercy of hope, and while that hope keeps us going it is also what leaves us in tears when it is not realized.

 

Our faith is tested. We ask God “why?”, we yell at Him; we draw closer to God and we push Him away. Mass brings us to tears more often than not and the season of Advent brings us to our knees. The chorus of “Happy Mother’s Day” that surrounds us at Mass on the second Sunday in May will be almost more devastating than the blessing of mothers itself. We know that the Lord is trustworthy and that we can trust in Him; sometimes it is just a bigger task than we can achieve on our own.

 

Please…

  • Pray for us. Truly, it is the best thing that anyone can do.
  • Do not make assumptions about anything – not the size of a family or whether or not a couple knows what is morally acceptable to the Church. Most couples who experience infertility do so in silence and these assumptions only add to the pain. If you are genuinely interested, and not merely curious, begin a genuine friendship and discover the truth over time.
  • Do not offer advice such as “just relax,” “you should adopt,” “try this medical option or that medical option” – or really give any advice. Infertility is a symptom of an underlying medical problem; a medical problem that often involves complicated and invasive treatment to cure.
  • Do not assume that we will adopt. Adoption is a call and should be discerned by every married couple. Infertility does not automatically mean that a couple is meant to adopt.
  • Ask how we are doing and be willing to hear and be present for the “real” answer. Often times we answer, “OK” because that’s the easy, “safe” answer. Let us know that you are willing to walk through this the tough time with us. Frequently we just need someone who is willing to listen and give us a hug and let us know we are loved.
  • Offer a Mass for us or give us a prayer card or medal to let us know you are praying for us. Just please refrain from telling us how we must pray this novena or ask for that saint’s intercession. Most likely we’ve prayed it and ask for the intercession daily. Please feel free to pray novenas and ask for intercession on our behalf.
  • Be tolerant and patient. The medications we take can leave us at less than our best; we may not have the energy or ability to do much. Please also respect us when we say “no, thank you” to food or drinks. We may have restricted diets due to our medical conditions and/or medications.
  • Share the good news of your pregnancy privately (preferably in an email or card or letter and not via text, IM chat, phone call or in person) and as soon as possible. Please understand that we are truly filled with joy for you; any sadness we feel is because we have been reminded of our own pain and we often feel horrible guilt over it as well. Please be patient and kind if we don’t respond immediately, attend your baby shower or don’t “Like” all of your Facebook updates about your children. Again, it is really about us, not you.
  • Help steer group conversations away from pregnancy and parenting topics when we are around. We like to be able to interact in a conversation to which we can contribute meaningfully.
  • Do not ask when we are going to “start a family” (we started one the day we got married).
  • Do not ask which one of us is the “problem” – we are either fertile or infertile as a couple.
  • Do not say things like “I know you’ll be parents some day,” or “It will happen, I know it will!” Along the same lines, please do not tell us stories of a couple you know who struggled for years and went on to conceive or to “just adopt and then you’ll get pregnant” (this one actually only happens a small percentage of the time). Only God knows what our future holds, please pray with us that we are able to graciously accept His will for our lives.
  • Do not pity us. Yes, we have much sorrow. Yes, we struggle. But, we place our faith in God, lean on the grace of our marriage, and trust that someday, whether here on earth or in heaven, we will see and understand God’s plan.

 

Resources:

Infertility Companion for Catholics

Facing Infertility: A Catholic Approach

Reproductive Technology: Guidelines for Catholic Couples (From the USCCB)

 

Bloggers who contributed to this article (those with an * have children after primary infertility or are experiencing secondary infertility. They are marked as such so that if you aren’t up for possibly seeing baby/child pictures today, you can meet them on a day when you are, but please do take the time to go and visit them.):

 

Amy @ This Cross I Embrace

DM & AM @ Snapshots

K @ Lucky as Sunshine

L @ Infertile in Minnesota

Lora @ Abounding Love

Mary Beth @ Grace of Adoption

Mrs. Fitz @ Romans 12:12

Polkadot @ Making God Laugh

Rebecca @ The Road Home

Stephanie @ Blessed to Be

Stephanie @ Chateau d’IF

*A. @ All in His Perfect Timing

*Alison @ Matching Moonheads 

E. @ God’s Plan is My Joy

*Jenny @ All Things

*Katie @ Just Think of Lovely Things

*M. @ Joy Beyond the Cross

*Morgan @ Life as We Know It

*Sarah @ Fumbling Toward Grace

 

There is also a “Secret” Facebook group with over 150 members who contributed to this article as well. For more information or to join the group, email Rebecca at RebeccaWVU02@gmail.com.

Seven Quick Takes

— 1 —

I’m so tired of snow. I got my car caught in the street in front of the babysitter’s house yesterday morning. I was able to get it out, eventually, but I felt pretty stupid. Come on spring!

— 2 —

One of my managers got me this for Christmas. I know Christmas was a while ago, but I use it every day and it’s so fun. I’m not a big fan of the color orange, but I like the look of the little fishies swimming in my water.

Goldfish Tumbler

— 3 —

My kids are just so cute! I don’t have a lot of stories to tell yet since they’re so little, but I enjoy them so much. Their little smiles light up my day.

— 4 —

I am so spoiled with people bringing us meals. Next week is the first week that we’ll only have one meal brought to us. Now we have to cook again. I enjoy cooking, but since Brett can’t nurse the babies, he’s the one who usually gets to fix dinner. I’m thinking about starting to do once-a-week or once-a-month cooking, but at the same time it’s so daunting. Has anyone had success with cooking this way?

— 5 —

I filed our taxes, and thanks to having two babies, we are getting the biggest tax refund I’ve ever seen. With that money, we plan to purchase a new (to us) car. Okay, an old car, because it’s not that much money. But having two cars will be sure to feel luxurious after sharing one for so long.

— 6 —

The best thing I’ve read today, from Leanne at Life Happens When.

This particular holiday changed and defined me as a memory maker. From here on out, I’m not going to worry if the moments aren’t perfect.
Things will go wrong. More often than not, nobody else will even notice. There is no need to beat myself up over it. Sometimes things will go horribly wrong, but often the things that went wrong are the most fun to remember down the road.

— 7 —

Mental Floss offered an e-booklet of the “25 Most Powerful Songs of the Past 25 Years.” My favorite was number three on the countdown, “The Song that Eases the Anxious Bovine Mind.” Researchers in the UK have discovered that REM’s “Everybody Hurts” is the best song to play in the barn to help cows give more milk. They also included five other “Great Milking Songs.” I just thought that the category was so funny. I decided to make myself a Pandora radio station based on their recommendations. Not because I have a cow, but because I pump milk for my babies. I play my Milk Radio station during my pumping breaks. It doesn’t make me produce half a pint more milk like it does to those cows in the UK, but it is relaxing music. Relaxation is key for making milk.

And on that note, good night folks! Have a great weekend!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Seven Quick Takes

— 1 —

On Monday, you may have seen that my fingernails looked like this:

Already a little chipped...

Already a little chipped…

Today, they look like this:

Nails on Friday

Because yesterday, they looked like this:

That didn't last a week!

That didn’t last a week!

Here’s my question: Should I buy the clear polish for a base and topcoat since I like the color so much, should I try to use it with solvent-based base and topcoat, or should I cut my losses and only paint my nails with it just before a big event, and remove it after?

— 2 —

Oh, in case you’re wondering, this week I look like this:

Once, I wondered if I'd ever look pregnant...

Once, I wondered if I’d ever look pregnant…

— 3 —

I had an appointment with my obstetrician yesterday, and there were a few big developments: I gained ten pounds since my last visit (two weeks ago), bringing my total weight gain up to 50 pounds and putting me past a big milestone weight that I never, ever thought I’d see; My feet are still swollen (big surprise) and so I have to rest over the weekend; I don’t have any other signs of complications, but I’m going to have to start fetal non-stress tests twice a week in a few weeks – because of my age.

— 4 —

I’m not looking forward to my weekend of rest. My bathroom is dirty, my bedroom needs sweeping, there’s laundry to be done, the nursery needs to be emptied out and cleaned before painting, and I have to send my husband grocery shopping alone. I figured it would be okay to go to Mass, my baby shower tomorrow, and my Bradley childbirth class, but housework is right out. I’m going to be bored. I sympathize a little with women who have to rest through their entire pregnancies. I have been very blessed not to have any serious problems.

— 5 —

I do have a couple of friends who are having serious problems in their pregnancies. Please join me in praying for them.

— 6 —

The fall stuffies and sneezies have taken hold of my house. They hit Brett harder than they have me, but I have sneezed about ten times in the last half hour. I am trying really hard not to take any medication for the sake of the babies, but Claritin is looking pretty attractive right about now.

— 7 —

I ran out of takes. I guess that means I can’t take it anymore ;).

Have a wonderful weekend! God bless you!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

 

Seven Quick Takes

— 1 —

This is what I’ve been busy with:

29 weeks down...

29 weeks down…

— 2 —

I am still obsessed with pregnancy, so I don’t have much to talk about.

— 3 —

I went to my first Mothers of Twins Club meeting last night. It seems like there are some really nice ladies there. I hope to get to know them better, and after the babies are born and get a little bigger, I hope to get active with this group.

— 4 —

We lost a great lady last Saturday, my Ma, Olive Taylor, at age 92, went to be with Jesus and my Pa, who preceded her in death by about 11 months. You can read her obituary here .

I will never forget Ma’s cookies and muffins. She showed me one way to love people is by providing food for their bodies.

Ma and Pa

Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her.
May she and all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

— 5 —

I was super bummed because I couldn’t go to Ma’s funeral. I went to Pa’s funeral last fall, but because of distance, money, and pregnancy, I couldn’t go spend this time with family in Maine. My mom, dad, sister and nephew drove up and they’ll be home on Saturday.

— 6 —

I have been doing quite poorly on my gluten-free diet. My diet these days is more like a see-food diet (when I see food, I eat it). I am sure this is because of the babies, but I am a little nervous about how it will be to lose the weight after they are born (as of last week, I had already gained 40 pounds!). I know what I have to do, though: eat mostly gluten-free, eat only when I’m hungry, and stop eating when I’m full. That’s how I lost about 20 pounds at the beginning of 2013.

— 7 —

A co-worker came to my desk this week and asked if I would be offended if they start an office pool on the birth date, genders, and weights of my babies. I laughed, of course I wouldn’t be offended. I’m glad I can provide entertainment.

Have a great weekend. God bless you.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Memorial of St. Martha

July 29 is St. Martha’s Day. I took St. Martha’s name when I joined the Lay Fraternities of St. Dominic, partly because I’m “a Martha” and need some encouragement to be “a Mary” sometimes. Also, partly because of this, which inspires me, knowing that many women didn’t merit names in the Bible, or if they did, we don’t know what they ever said. I am inspired by the audacity of St. Martha’s faith:

Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. And even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, he who is coming into the world.”

John 11:21-27 RSV

christ-in-the-house-of-martha-and-mary