Monthly Archives

April 2014

Infertility

An Incomplete Gospel of Life

April 30, 2014

This is something I have been thinking about for a while now – how do I make visible The Gospel of Life as a barren woman? This is a hard question for reasons I will explain below.

For those of you unfamiliar with the phrase “The Gospel of Life” it is in reference to an encyclical that St. John Paul II wrote titled “Evangeliuum Vitae” about the worth, value, and dignity of every human person. It’s truly a beautiful encyclical. I read it in college and remember being deeply moved…I was literally highlighting every other sentence. Anyone else have books they’ve done that with?

Check out some of the gold nuggets that lie within (bold emphasis added):

Man is called to a fullness of life which far exceeds the dimensions of his earthly existence, because it consists in sharing the very life of God. The loftiness of this supernatural vocation reveals the greatness and the inestimable value of human life even in its temporal phase.”

“To all the members of the Church, the people of life and for life, I make this most urgent appeal, that together we may offer this world of ours new signs of hope, and work to ensure that justice and solidarity will increase and that a new culture of human life will be affirmed, for the building of an authentic civilization of truth and love.

“We are asked to love and honor the life of every man and woman and to work with perseverance and courage so that our time, marked by all too many signs of death, may at last witness the establishment of a new culture of life, the fruit of the culture of truth and of love.”

These can be summed up as follows: human life, as a gift of God, is sacred and inviolable. For this reason procured abortion and euthanasia are absolutely unacceptable. Not only must human life not be taken, but it must be protected with loving concern. The meaning of life is found in giving and receiving love, and in this light human sexuality and procreation reach their true and full significance. Love also gives meaning to suffering and death; despite the mystery which surrounds them, they can become saving events. Respect for life requires that science and technology should always be at the service of man and his integral development. Society as a whole must respect, defend and promote the dignity of every human person, at every moment and in every condition of that person’s life.”

Now why is The Gospel of Life hard for me to think about? Because a subtle lie creeps into my brain with me hardly noticing and here it is:

The Gospel of Life means that to be a good and holy Catholic, you must have lots of children. More kiddos =more holiness.

I’ll be the first to say I believed it without knowing I did. Even before getting married, I wanted 10+ kiddos and to be a stay at home mom….for many good reasons and for the subtle lie I listed above. I am an extremely deep analyzer by nature, which makes me more sensitive to noticing this subtle lie creeping into others’ comments and actions – whether they mean to be reinforcing it or not.

Here is an example of something I saw on Facebook that could reinforce this thinking:

gospel of life phot

 

Or this typical conversation: “I’m from a “big Catholic family”…. one of thirteen children.”  Typical response: “WOW, you’re mom MUST be a SAINT!”

Now, this above Facebook poster did NOT mean to hurt my little barren heart. I get what he’s saying. Life is beautiful. God’s abundant blessings were upon these women and their bursting-at-the-seams families. It truly is a witness to openness to life within marriage and extremely counter-cultural in a nation that is very anti-life on so many levels. It’s one aspect of The Gospel of Life.

I affirm this aspect and let me say again, I am NOT bashing the poster or saying he had malicious intention or wanted me to think that more kids = more holiness. I know he absolutely didn’t. Nor was he likely even aware of how someone battling infertility could interpret his status update.

Nonetheless, the status absolutely crushed me. I cried a deep painful cry after seeing it. Not because I was angry or jealous…but because of the absence of children who may never be in our marriage. The sadness that we can’t partake in furthering the Gospel of Life in that way since we can’t bear children.

But then something dawned on me…something that exposed that subtle lie in my thinking and put truth in its place.

The Gospel of Life is so much more than bearing lots of children. I thought of so many Catholic infertility bloggers that I have come to really care about. I decided to re-write that status I saw on Facebook in a new way:

I just hung out with the blogger friends in my Catholic Infertility Support Group. In attendance, 100+ women, 0 children, plus several adoption applications in process…to put this in perspective, 0 of our children were there and one of the adoption applications was ours… The Gospel of Life!!!

Even as a couple experiencing infertility, we STILL are witnesses to The Gospel of Life because it’s so much MORE than having lots of kiddos. It can’t be reduced to reproduction. It’s about rejecting anything that steals life and dignity from humanity – contraception, abortion, euthanasia, murder, treating a fellow man or woman with less dignity than their very being demands by existence, artificial means of reproduction, unjust laws, and so much more. Realizing this, it’s obvious that ALL persons, regardless of their state-in-life are able to witness to and uphold the Gospel of Life. 

Catholic couples experiencing infertility or sub-fertility have to stand for The Gospel of Life in a different way than couples experiencing abundant and blessed fertility…but they no less witness to it despite feeling less at times. Not only do we stick out for not practicing contraception in marriage and being open to life during the marital act, we also have to battle the mainstream infertility culture that screams “IVF, IVF, IVF,” etc. It can be easy to feel rejected from the “fertile-Catholic-crowd” but also rejected from the “mainstream-infertility-crowd” so we have banded together for support in this arduous journey.

We stand for LIFE in just as beautiful a way despite feeling like we don’t. A way that may never result in the physical blessing of children. A silent way in some aspects. We can also stand for life in other ways that stretch far beyond our reproductive abilities or lack thereof.

I have asked God to forgive my silly thinking that more kids = more holiness. Sometimes I wonder if infertility wasn’t a gift to keep me from going to a very prideful place. Only the Lord knows and I will get the details in another life. It is interesting how these subtle lies can creep into my (and possibly others’) mind over time. Like unwritten rules and expectations everyone knows but never says. By God’s grace, these lies will continue to be replaced with all that is true, good, and beautiful.

Uncategorized

Little Happies: Easter Octave Celebrations

April 28, 2014

This week’s Little Happy link-up is brought to you by….THE EASTER TRIUDUUM!!! WOOT!!!

There are many many things I love about our Catholic faith…but the celebrations and feast days are simply the best. Little glimpses of what is yet to come, forever!!! The Teixeiras take celebrating pretty seriously, so every single day of the Easter Octave brought with it some celebratory activity.

–one–

photo 1

Easter Monday

Jamba Juice. Even had two $2.00 off coupons. Booya! This night we also went to  The Wizard’s Chest to grab a Settler’s of Catan expansion. Wahoo!

–two–

16-bocce-ball-lg

Easter Tuesday

We had the Digital Campus team over for dinner and after enjoying Huevos Rancheros we played a round of Bocce Ball. If you haven’t played this intense and fun game…you NEED to as soon as possible. I haven’t had this much fun with a yard game since the good old days of Kuub.

–three–

photo 2

Easter Wednesday

Remember when I told yall I got the America’s Test Kitchen gluten free cookbook? Well it’s turned out to be worth it’s weight in gold. NOTHING tastes or feels like it’s gluten free. In some cases, the recipes are actually far better than it’s gluten cousin. Above are the brownies we made and served on top of vanilla bean ice cream. It was quite the indulgence.

We ate these while watching Captain America…in preparation for the next Little Happy.

–four–

Captain-America-2-PosterEaster Thursday

We went to see Captain America – The Winter Soldier and were very pleased! What’s funny is that I never used to be a comic-movie type of gal until I was taken on a date to see Iron Man 2 several years back. Since then, I have seen pretty much every Marvel movie that’s been made. Call me nerdy but they are just so entertaining!

What made this night extra special? We bought movie theater popcorn! The Teixeiras usually don’t opt for this artery-clogging snack luxury…but hey, it’s Easter!

–five–

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Easter Friday

I saved the best eMeals recipe on our weekly menu for Friday – Creamy Pesto Pasta with Chicken and Asparagus. We ate on the back porch underneath our strings of lights. It was possibly the best dinner I’ve ever made.

–six–

photo 3Easter Saturday

Apparently all we do is eat when we are celebrating. Hmmm.

We went and got our free Chick-Fil-A sandwiches with gift cards received at the new one in our neighborhood’s opening day celebrations. Since it’s Easter, we added fries and one of those delicious lemonades. Afterwards we went to Costco and continued eating by trying all the free samples.

I guess we are easy to please! 🙂

–seven–

collage 1

Divine Mercy Sunday

POPE SAINT JOHN PAUL II canonization day!!! AGGGHHHH! We were married on his first feast day, so we’ve claimed him our dude in heaven to pray for our family.

We were so excited that we decided to celebrate this final day in the Easter Octave in the Polish spirit. We listened to Polish radio all day long and had no idea what they were saying but it was great music. We also set out our JPII photos, statue, and 3rd-class relic (aka something touched to something JPII touched).

We made stuffed cabbage for dinner followed with sugar cookies (again from America’s Test Kitchen). Our neighbors joined us for dinner and we all watched a John Paul II documentary together to end out the celebrations.

Now I am resolved to read Witness to Hope. I think JPII knew a LOT about suffering and I need to become his student because I don’t suffer so well let alone redemptively! Pope St. JPII, pray for us!!!

Money

Saving for a Down Payment

April 26, 2014

Jonathan and I sat down in August to have a conversation about where we were going financially. In the process, we reviewed the Total Money Makeover and we were technically in Baby Step 3B – time to save for a down payment. I was feeling like I needed more encouragement, as the Denver housing market is pretty intense.

So I called Dave Ramsey himself. In his own words:

“The Denver market is white-hot and you should scrape together a down payment as soon as possible.”

He also said that he could tell we were focused and intentional about our finances – how did he know?!?! 🙂 I guess he has a sense about these things. It was the highest compliment we could get from Dave himself.

Into Baby Step 3B went we!

It’s not technically one of the “7 Baby Steps” but it’s between Baby Step 3 and 4. For those wanting a refresher on Dave’s Baby Steps:

dave-ramsey-baby-steps

We didn’t quite go back to beans-and-rice-gazelle-like intensity but we’ve been close. We have definitely lived like no one else so later we can live like no one else. As you can guess, we won’t be doing this home buying process like the average American.

Check out Dave’s home-buying standards:

  • Be completely debt-free and have a Fully Funded Emergency Fund of 3-6 months of expenses (otherwise Dave says Murphy will move into your spare bedroom and bring his cousins Broke, Desperate, and Stupid)
  • 100% down is preferred (OK being realistic, we are NOT doing this)
  • 10-20% down payment minimum (20% preferred to avoid PMI aka wasted mula)
  • Total payment <25% of your take home pay (most Americans qualify for a MUCH higher monthly payment…making them susceptible to being house poor)
  • 15-year fixed rate mortgage (Dave has studied how the 30-year mortgage hurts people long term. He also says if you think you will pay a 30-year mortgage like a 15-year mortgage, you are kidding yourself)

Pretty different approach to the typical American home-buying behaviors. Sure, Dave’s advice is fairly conservative but I know this – it will never lead to our harm. Will we follow ALL Dave’s recommendations? I really hope so but sometimes I get impatient and want to compromise…as there is so much to factor in. For now, things feel a little touch and go. Currently the Denver real-estate market is the 7th most overpriced in the nation. Ouch. There is talk of a “bubble” happening again. Maybe. Maybe not.

What do we do? Get in quick or wait? Buy a house (the most overpriced type of real-estate) or a town home (priced more appropriately)? Do we buy something we will have to move out of in 4-6 years as our family (PLEASE GOD) grows? Or do we buy the bigger house we could stay in for 10+ years that would require us to take a 30-year mortgage (at this point in time)? Or do we go for the cheaper fixer upper on a 15-year fixed mortgage but have to put $30K in updates/repairs during it’s first couple years? Or do we wait one more year, hope interest rates don’t climb and the market doesn’t keep inflating? What are the longterm affects of delaying retirement savings another entire year? So very many options. Enough to make ones head spin.

We will be using this mortgage vs buy calculator for many varying scenarios to calculate the smartest move possible. But there will always be risk we just can’t get rid of. Dave’s standards help minimize that risk, thankfully.

We are currently going through the “pre-qualification” process and from there, we will either begin looking at homes in there area or decide to wait and save longer. We are committed to that 10% down minimum but are going to shoot for as close to 20% as we’re able. Join us as we continue this home-buying journey! I will keep yall updated as we make various decisions.

Anyone out there have any advice? Regrets? Encouragement? I look forward to hearing from yall!

Catholicism

Return to Galilee

April 22, 2014

Pope Francis is such a gift to our times. His simplicity and humility pierce through so much of today’s complexities. He possesses a fresh and welcome perspective.

His homily from Easter is pasted below. I highlighted the phrases that stood out the most:

“The Gospel of the resurrection of Jesus Christ begins with the journey of the women to the tomb at dawn on the day after the Sabbath. They go to the tomb to honour the body of the Lord, but they find it open and empty. A mighty angel says to them: “Do not be afraid!” (Mt 28:5) and orders them to go and tell the disciples: “He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee” (v. 7). The women quickly depart and on the way Jesus himself meets them and says: “Do not fear; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me” (v. 10).

After the death of the Master, the disciples had scattered; their faith had been utterly shaken, everything seemed over, all their certainties had crumbled and their hopes had died. But now that message of the women, incredible as it was, came to them like a ray of light in the darkness. The news spread: Jesus is risen as he said. And then there was his command to go to Galilee; the women had heard it twice, first from the angel and then from Jesus himself: “Let them go to Galilee; there they will see me”.

Galilee is the place where they were first called, where everything began! To return there, to return to the place where they were originally called. Jesus had walked along the shores of the lake as the fishermen were casting their nets. He had called them, and they left everything and followed him (cf. Mt 4:18-22).

To return to Galilee means to re-read everything on the basis of the cross and its victory. To re-read everything – Jesus’ preaching, his miracles, the new community, the excitement and the defections, even the betrayal – to re-read everything starting from the end, which is a new beginning, from this supreme act of love.

For each of us, too, there is a “Galilee” at the origin of our journey with Jesus. “To go to Galilee” means something beautiful, it means rediscovering our baptism as a living fountainhead, drawing new energy from the sources of our faith and our Christian experience. To return to Galilee means above all to return to that blazing light with which God’s grace touched me at the start of the journey. From that flame I can light a fire for today and every day, and bring heat and light to my brothers and sisters. That flame ignites a humble joy, a joy which sorrow and distress cannot dismay, a good, gentle joy.

In the life of every Christian, after baptism there is also a more existential “Galilee”: the experience of a personal encounter with Jesus Christ who called me to follow him and to share in his mission. In this sense, returning to Galilee means treasuring in my heart the living memory of that call, when Jesus passed my way, gazed at me with mercy and asked me to follow him. It means reviving the memory of that moment when his eyes met mine, the moment when he made me realize that he loved me.

Today, tonight, each of us can ask: What is my Galilee? Where is my Galilee? Do I remember it? Have I forgotten it? Have I gone off on roads and paths which made me forget it? Lord, help me: tell me what my Galilee is; for you know that I want to return there to encounter you and to let myself be embraced by your mercy.

The Gospel of Easter is very clear: we need to go back there, to see Jesus risen, and to become witnesses of his resurrection. This is not to go back in time; it is not a kind of nostalgia. It is returning to our first love, in order to receive the fire which Jesus has kindled in the world and to bring that fire to all people, to the very ends of the earth.

“Galilee of the Gentiles” (Mt 4:15; Is 8:23)! Horizon of the Risen Lord, horizon of the Church; intense desire of encounter… Let us be on our way!”

Wowzers.

I think this is a beautiful homily to sit and pray with. To think back to that first encounter with Jesus…and to think about how his grace has woven itself into our lives from that point. To recall the zeal of the early days in our conversion. Maybe even to consider what has robbed that zeal from our hearts – anxiety? fear? burdens of life? lack of prayer? cut off from the Sacraments? Identifying obstacles to God’s grace in our lives can open up opportunities to “return to Galilee” and re-encounter Christ.

I urge anyone reading this to “go to Galilee.”

Encounter the Risen Christ for the first time or once again and experience the joy which “sorrow and distress cannot dismay.”

Infertility, Marriage

Little Happies: Easter

April 21, 2014

This Little Happies link up is brought to you by the Easter Triduum!

–one–

easter 3Holy Thursday

Jonathan and I were honored to  be asked by our Deacon to have our feet washed at the Holy Thursday evening mass. I have never gotten to do that before and it was truly a humbling and meditative experience.

Afterwards, our parish had a side chapel where people could spend time with Jesus in the “garden” since we are remembering those three days with him. After the Last Supper, he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemene and finally was arrested and imprisoned that night. It’s a really special time to “keep watch” with the Lord “in the garden” to prepare for Good Friday.

–two–

Good Friday

We were unable to make it to any Good Friday services at our parish due to a ultra-sound I had to get on my ovaries to check for any follicles. The happy in this was that I  was able to unite my real sufferings to Jesus during the hour of Divine Mercy on Good Friday. Usually I don’t get to have that concrete of something to grasp onto when I am drowning in pain or sadness. Another happy was that there was a mature follicle and I got to take a HCG trigger shot to attempt at getting it to ovulate. Getting a intra-muscular butt shot from Jonathan was another way to unite myself to the cross in a tangible way that made me happy.

–three–

easter 2

Holy Saturday

Jonathan and I went to our friends’ home on Saturday to color Ukranian Psanky Easter Eggs! This is just one example of the cool things you can do with these eggs. Try it sometime!

We had plans to go to the Easter Vigil but Jonathan’s psanky egg may or may not have taken five hours…so we missed the vigil this year and went Sunday morning instead. As we prepped food and cleaned the house, we watched The Ten Commandments again. Love that movie!

–four–

Easter 1

We had another couple friend over for the day and had an Easter Sunday Dominion Tournament. Enough said.

eastercollage.jpg

This was part of the food spread. I even used the good china! We had homeade gluten-free crepes with a variety of fixings, a sausage breakfast casserole, asparagus, baked grapefruit, smoky gouda cheese and cracker platter, veggie platter, coffee, mimosas, and chocolate chip cookies with vanilla bean ice cream. It was glorious.

We even threw a game of Catan Cities and Knights into the day to mix things up. Our friends came over at 11:30am and left eleven hours later. It was a very fun day and it took my mind of the HCG trigger shot situation.

But sadly, as I write this post, I have a lot of abdominal pain. Meaning I most likely did NOT ovulate and have yet another leutinized unruptured follicle aka LUF…I guess the Good Friday graces for me to suffer happily are gone, as I feel totally devastated and alone…again. It also doesn’t help that everyone and their dog decided to announce they are pregnant on Facebook today. Lesson learned – don’t get on Facebook on national holidays when you are infertile. Everyone will either be 1. pregnant or 2. taking some perfect family photo with their children in cute outfits and posting it for me to see. I know nobody means harm to me but getting on Facebook anymore feels like getting run over by a semi truck. An infertile girl can only take so many babies and bellies being flaunted on one’s newsfeed before they go insane and grow into a depressed shell of themselves.

But this is not a post about being sad. It’s about the happies in life, so I won’t linger any longer.

Getting back to focusing on the blessings in life – How will we celebrate the entire EASTER OCTAVE?!?!?!?! I don’t know yet but we will be doing something to celebrate every single day. Hope yall do the same because it’s really Easter for eight full days! Wahoo!

Infertility, Marriage

Waiting At The Tomb

April 19, 2014

A few months ago, someone suggested a few places to “visit” in prayer. One of those was the Tomb of Jesus on Holy Saturday.

I began imagining the scene. I recalled the previous 48 hours of events . The Last Supper and institution of the Eucharist. The indifference of Pilot. Jesus’ crucifixion and death. How they brought him off the cross and Joseph of Arimethea offered a tomb to lay Jesus’ body in. The darkness over the land. The broken heart of Our Blessed Mother. The confusion of the disciples. The despair of Judas. The denial of Peter.

So very much to think about.

But now, everything is still. It’s quiet here at the tomb of Jesus. The disciples are nowhere to be found. Just a guard or two lurking nearby. Not much is happening but I know what’s coming.

Holy Saturday is a weird place to be caught. It’s not Good Friday nor is it yet Easter. It’s like an intermission.

As I meditated, everything was relating back to our journey with infertility.

In carrying this cross, in many ways, we have died with Christ. Dreams shattered. Plans crushed. Control surrendered. Selfishness stripped away. Entitlement shred. Part of us is “in the tomb” with him yet we wait on the outside. Our desires have been put to death but are awaiting resurrection. That’s where we live from day to day. I hope that doesn’t sound morbid or weird but it’s just our reality.

Our life, in so many ways, is an ongoing Holy Saturday. 

The tomb on Holy Saturday is the perfect place for me to “go to” in prayer. It depicts my reality so well. Heck, anyone in the midst of suffering and waiting for a resurrection should meditate at the tomb. It doesn’t have to be infertility.

I know Easter Sunday will come in due time. The resurrection will manifest itself. We will not wait in limbo forever. Knowing that brings my heart peace to keep waiting and offering my pain up…watching for that tomb stone to roll back. To see Jesus in all his glory and to allow him to resurrect the pain we’ve united to him.

Death will not get the last word.