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Infertility

The Biggest Thing I Don’t Trust God With

October 20, 2015

We all have something in our life that we don’t trust God fully with.

For me? It’s infertility.

Shocked, right? 😉

As much as we have been blessed this past year with Josephine, I can see some old fears creeping back in. I need to admit it to myself and to all of you…

I am scared as hell as to how, when, or if our family will grow again.

Last year, I wrote about how becoming a mom changed our battle with infertility. I still stand behind the fact that I won’t completely “go back” to the darkest of dark days I once knew. Josephine has brought too much joy and light to our lives for me to ever get that low again. My deepest desires to become a mother have been fulfilled and I will never forget that.

Thankfully my jealousy of other families I once had is mostly curbed. I no longer get upset that God grows other families just that I don’t trust he will grow ours. I do find myself getting anxious again, though, and I can see the tidal wave of negative emotions beginning to form in the distance.

I am battling a deep seated fear. 

Fear that we’ll never ever ever ever EVER conceive.

Fear that if I do conceive, I will miscarry.

Fear that I will inevitably be the last one standing on the island of infertility…that everyone I know both fertile/infertile/sub-fertile will get pregnant but never me.

Fear that we’ll never be able to afford adoption again.

Fear that if we try to fundraise to adopt again it will all fall apart this time and no one will support us.

Fear that Josie will grow up without siblings we so desperately desire her to be surrounded by.

Fear that all our friends who also have one baby will stop being our friends when then go on to have more babies and only want to hang around “big” families.

Fear that when we start trying to conceive again that it will be the same old crap we’ve been through a million times before filled with treatments and diets up the wazoo yet perpetually unsuccessful outcomes.

Fear that when we try and adopt again, somehow no families will like us or want us to provide a home for their sweet baby.

Fear, fear, and more fear. 

On one hand I am so ashamed that I STILL don’t trust God fully with our family. He outdid himself BIGTIME on bringing Josie into our lives and showed us just how in control he was all along.

On the other hand, I am not shocked because I know me. I am weak, frail, and forgetful. Remember how easy it is to get frustrated and judgey with the Israelites in the Old Testament? They just seem to never get it. Well, now I am basically them. Ugh.

All I can do is take my fears to Jesus, acknowledge them, and surrender. I have to trust that he sees my fears and will conquer them.

In prayer he keeps reminding me of how Josephine came into our lives. It was all orchestrated so perfectly by Him. It’s undeniable that God hasn’t provided for us.

He keeps nudging me to trust that he WILL provide again…but unlike other families with healthy fertility, I get no control as to when or how that happens. (And even they don’t get total control) I am trying to be OK with that. Each day in prayer I willfully surrender these fears to him and cling to truth that, “All things work for good for those who love God.” Romans 8:28

In my core I know that we’ll be just fine. That God will not abandon us. That He will provide for all our needs and will grow our family. I have only to actively surrender myself to His will and the peace of God will fill my heart and soul.

I choose to end this post drenched in fear with a prayer. Through abandoning myself is how Jesus will conquer all my fears and grow trust in my heart. Think about something you struggle to trust God with and pray along with me…

Father,
I abandon myself into your hands;
do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you:
I am ready for all, I accept all.

Let only your will be done in me,
and in all your creatures –
I wish no more than this, O Lord.

Into your hands I commend my soul:
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord, and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands without reserve,
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father.

Charles de Foucauld

Amen.

Uncategorized

How I Got My Prayer Life Back

October 12, 2015

Some of you joined us for this post in which I described the utter obliteration of my prayer life this past year.

Don’t get me wrong – I wanted to have a consistent prayer life but, “The spirit is willing and the flesh is weak.” My chronically sleep deprived body decided to make that it’s rally cry whenever I attempted to pray. Instead of praying, this ole bag o’ bones insisted on daily naps and Netflixing when it stole a few quite moments alone…

Surprised, right?

Due to dropping my time to connect with Jesus each day, I stayed not only physically exhausted but mentally and spiritually as well. The joy faded from my eyes and I felt empty and bored. I lost my sense of purpose and nothing seemed to make sense anymore.

It was time for a change.

Thankfully around the time I was already feeling convicted about reestablishing daily time with God, I met with a wonderful priest for spiritual direction. If you haven’t heard of that before, think of someone listening to you and then asking questions/providing spiritual guidance on how to move forward towards the Lord. Its great.

Well this particular priest is a good friend of mine and while he’s kind and gentle, he can also shoot it straight. I needed the latter and he definitely brought it that day.

We were talking about how some moms simply adopt the vague idea that, “Their day is a prayer.” That they just pray as they go about changing diapers and folding clothes instead of carving out alone time with Jesus since they don’t have time.

He said that notion was, “Bull@*$#!” That everyone, including busy moms, need set apart time for personal prayer each day. Yes, those other ways are prayer too but nothing can substitute that alone time with God.

#spirituldropkick

I agreed wholeheartedly and felt reinvigorated…but also scared. What if I failed at prayer? What if I forgot how to talk with God? What if my attention span is 17 seconds long and I get distracted or worse, bored?

With our conversation behind me and a few practical tips on how to get prayer back into my day, I made plans to change my schedule.

I am happy to say that I am now a few months into my new routine with prayer and it’s been going really well. I don’t share this to toot my own horn. Quite the opposite really, since it only shows how weak I have been this past year. I want to share with you all what’s been helping me in case it might help YOU!

Online Adoration

Everyday during Josie’s first nap of the day, I hunker down in my home office and pull up Jesus via online adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. A couple websites I have used are here and here. Physically seeing Our Lord in this way changes the feel in the room, my attitude, and commands my attention. It’s also cool to see others praying the chapel at the same time. I don’t feel alone in my efforts.

Reading Scripture

After just chatting with Jesus for a few minutes and preparing myself to receive grace, I dive into reading the bible. Sometimes I read through certain books. Other times I have followed along with the daily mass readings, since you cycle through most of the bible every three years doing this. This is usually the bulk of my time with God as I ponder over his words and try to listen to how he’s using them to speak to me in the present moment.

Spiritual Reading

I am currently reading Time For God by Jacques Phillipe and it’s rocking my socks off. Basically anything by this guy is pretty darn awesome. This is the time I’ve got set aside to read from various authors and/or saints.

The Rosary or Divine Mercy Chaplet

I usually do the above prayer time altogether. Later on during the day, I would still like to intentionally mull over spiritual truths so I try and pray the rosary or divine mercy chaplet. Typically I pray these while I am walking my two babies – Josie and Wrigley. I use an app on my iphone to keep on track and focused. Yea, it’s the lazy man’s way to pray them but hey, at least it’s happening.

Daily Mass

I’ve been attempting to attend daily Mass once per week in addition to Sunday. When we’ve been traveling, we enlist the help of Masstimes.org. It’s been a challenge since Miss Josie is busier than ever and wants to eat all the pew books and crawl around but the blessings of being at Mass outweigh the difficulties. It also provides me with an extra dose of social interaction as I get to chat with others after mass too.

Intercessory Prayer

Jonathan and I have been trying to incorporate prayer as a couple together each day. It’s becoming part of our bedtime ritual to ask the other how their day went and to pray over the big things that happened – worries, joys, fears, opportunities, etc. This has kept us communicating about the big themes of each day and uniting our marriage together with God in prayer.

And that’s what’s changed in my prayer life over the past 8 weeks or so. It’s brought back so much life to my soul and I can feel the old zest and passion returning. Again, I share these things not to say, “This is the exact way to pray.” I offer it to spark inspiration and encourage you to make prayer more part of your day if it’s not already.

I would love feedback on how any of these resources help or encourage you!

Catholicism

I Was About to Leave the Church Then THIS Happened

September 11, 2015

I arrived on campus planning to leave the Catholic Church. I’d become disillusioned with religion over the last few years, and now that I was out of Mom and Dad’s house, it was time to stop going to church.

Then I got a phone call.

Matt, from Catholic Campus Ministry wanted to get together. He got my number from a contact card I filled out (under Mom and Dad’s insistence) when we visited over the summer.

I wasn’t against the Church or God, I just didn’t care that much. Matt seemed nice enough, and I thought I’d be a jerk to say no to meeting, so we set a time to grab a bite.

We got together, and it turned out that Matt wasn’t some crazy religious nut. He was actually a pretty cool guy. After talking for a bit, Matt invited me to a new student event at the chapel. I had no reason to say no, so I said yes.

At the event, Matt introduced me to some other freshman guys. They were cool, friendly, stand-up dudes. These were guys I wanted to hang out with. They also happened to love Jesus.

I hung out with these guys, and they started rubbing off on me. They were all going on a retreat, so I did too. That retreat sealed the deal.

At that retreat I met 40 people who cared about me like nobody else I’d met yet on campus. These people had a joy that was unknown to me. I went to confession, (and laughed in it!) I prayed in Eucharistic adoration for the first time.

When I got back to campus, I joined Matt’s Bible study. I decided to spent more time with my Catholic friends. I attended daily Mass several times a week. Matt taught me how to pray. Before I knew it, I had a new way of looking at the world. I learned that God loved me, made me for a relationship with him, and became man and died to ensure I’d be able to enter into that relationship. Everything had changed.

And it never would have happened if Matt wouldn’t have called, if those other freshman guys didn’t welcome me in, if the Catholic Campus Ministry at George Mason University wouldn’t have made the decision to share the Gospel and evangelize the Campus. When we choose to leave our comfort zone and share Jesus, lives change. I know, because mine did.

Mission

The September My Life Changed

September 9, 2015

It was September 2003.

I was a itty bitty Freshman at University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) and had recently rushed Greek Life and became an Alpha Phi.

alpha phi

My pledge class

And that, my friends, is where the Lord changed my life.

WHAT?!?!

Who goes to college, joins a sorority, and THEN meets Jesus?

Me.

It definitely wasn’t part of my plan but it all makes sense looking back…

You see, I grew up Catholic and definitely knew a lot about God. There were even times where I would say I was close-ish to God. But a personal, intimate friendship day in and day out? Nada.

The Spring before college began, a speaker named Jason Evert came and spoke at my High School. He talked about chastity and Jesus. Something began to stir in me that day.  I was tired of going through the motions. I was tired of relationships that were superficial and shallow. I was tired of living for myself and needing to control my life.

I was just tired of living the way I’d been living for so long.

At the end of Jason’s talk when he offered for people to sign a commitment card pledging themselves to Jesus, I sprinted forward and signed the card. I didn’t know what giving your life to Jesus looked like but I wanted it.

Then, I remember praying and asking God to surround me with friends who knew and loved him…so that I could learn how to know and love him.

Back to September 2003. I joined Alpha Phi with the intention of making life-long friendships with my sorority sisters but little did I know that God would use them to answer my prayers in bigger ways.

Within one week of joining the house, I was given an invitation to join a bible study and attend a Greek fellowship on campus sponsored by a non-denominational ministry. I have no other way to describe what began to occur within me than to use the word transformation.

biblie study

My first bible study leader Danielle (Gamma Phi Beta) on the right.

Every time I opened the bible, it was as if the words were JUMPING off the pages at me. The scriptures were alive and I could feel the presence of Christ. I was hearing truth preached at the weekly Greek meeting and at Mass on Sundays. Truth I had absolutely been exposed to my ENTIRE LIFE but was deaf to. It was as if my ears were unplugged and I could finally hear what God had to say to me.

I was challenged to surrender myself to God. To accept that I indeed was a sinner. That I couldn’t save myself from my sin…only Jesus could.  I was challenged to give him my plans. My dreams. My hopes. My desires. And to follow him wherever he would call me.

And so I did.

On one hand I was experiencing more joy than I’d ever known. God was filling me to the brim with His presence and it was such an exciting ride. On the other hand, I was a freshman in college. The whole Jesus thing didn’t exactly jive with the Greek scene I was now part of. I felt torn often but God continued to fill me with peace. I was on the right path in following him and he provided me with strength to live for him.

That September I learned how to pray on a more intimate level than simply reciting learned prayers, as good as those prayers were. I dusted off my bible and began to study it. I found other Christians and experienced what authentic and deep friendships can look like. My mind, heart, and soul were renewed. My life completely transformed.

It’s been twelve years since I was that little spring chicken in college. So very much has changed…except the one thing I became sure of that September: I am a sinner in need of a Savior, Jesus Christ. He is the only one worth living for and the only true source of lasting peace, joy, and happiness in this world. And that will never change.

If you also would like to know him in a more intimate way, shoot me an email and we can talk more offline. I would love to help you encounter Him.

Catholicism

5 Destinations for Your Catholic Road Trip – Northeast Edition

August 9, 2015

There’s nothing like a road trip to bring together a group of friends, and nothing makes a road trip better than great destinations. For all of who live in the in the Northeast or have a desire to road trip there, here are a few places I suggest you visit (paired with some great eats nearby):

1. The Abbey of the Genesee – Genesee, New York

This Trappist monastery, located in rural Western New York, is home to about 30 cloistered monks. They spend their days (waking up at 2:15 AM!) praying and working. To support their monastic lifestyle the monks of the Abbey of the Genesee bake bread which they sell at the monastery and in grocery stores throughout western New York. Not only can you buy every variety of Monk’s Bread at the monastery (including monastery exclusive unsliced maple cinnamon) you can join the monks in praying Liturgy of the Hours throughout the day!

Tip: After spending time with the monks, head into nearby Geneseo and go to Pizza Paul’s for the half-sub, half-calzone subzone.

 

2. St. Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal – Montreal, Quebec

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St. Andre was the main driver behind building an oratory in honor of St. Joseph, which has been enlarged multiple times over the years. There’s a lot to explore and see nowadays, but my two favorites were seeing St. Andre’s heart (they took it out and put it in a glass box!) and the hall honoring a dozen or so of the many titles of St. Joseph (e.g. Terror of Demons). There are also multiple places throughout the grounds that are covered in old crutches that people left behind after miraculous healings.

Tip: While in Quebec, you’ve got to grab some poutine, which is french fries and cheese curds covered with brown gravy. Yum!

Bonus Tip: While in town, check out the amazingly beautiful Notre Dame Basilica.

 

3. National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette – Attleboro, Massachusetts

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This shrine dedicated to Mary’s apparition in La Salette, France is a great visit any time of year, but is exceptional during Christmastime, during which they pull out all the stops with the Christmas Festival of Lights. They deck out the grounds with over a quarter of a million lights.

Tip: Bliss Bros. Dairy is only a 1/2 mile away from the shrine! Stop in for a sundae or milkshake, and be sure to take home a ice cream pizza. Yes, such a thing exists, and yes, it’s everything you want it to be.

4. Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs A.K.A. North American Martyrs Shrine – Auriesville, New York

shrinepan2

This shrine is built where the Mohawk village of Ossernenon stood. This is where St. Isaac Jogues and two of his lay companions were martyred. The other North American martyrs are also celebrated here. If that wasn’t enough, it’s also the birthplace of St. Kateri Tekakwitha!

Tip: Auriesville isn’t exactly a bustling metropolis, and this is the one location on this list I haven’t personally been to. I searched Yelp and found Forever Young’s diner less than 10 miles away. They’re known for their korean-inspired Bolgogi (fire meat) omelet and their thick-cut made from scratch cinnamon raisin toast.

5. Our Lady of Victory National Shrine and Basilica – Lackawanna, New York

www.ourladyofvictory

Father Nelson Baker’s heart broke for the poor and beat for Our Lady. Throughout his life, he did much for both. The orphanage he ran was so well known that children were put on trains all over the country with “Father Baker’s” pinned to their clothes, and they railroad staff knew exactly where to take them and made sure they got there. He spearheaded construction of a new church in honor of Our Lady of Victory (a personal favorite of his) and the absolutely beautiful basilica was completed in 1925 for over 3 million dollars without going into debt. (You know I love that!)

Tip: Lackawanna is right next to Buffalo, so head on over to Anchor Bar, birthplace of the Buffalo Chicken Wing, and chow down.

This post highlighted Catholic road trip destinations in the Northeast. Please list any Northeast favorites I missed in the comments, as well as spots to list in future posts about other regions of the country!

Catholicism

Why I Wanted To Hate #Edel But Couldn’t

July 26, 2015

The Edel Gathering for Catholic women was July 10-11th in Charleston, SC.

That means this blog post is a bit late to the party. It’s alright to judge me a little. 😉

So who in their right mind would want to hate a conference of Catholic women?

Bitter, jealous, and infertile little old me from one year ago.

I’d heard about the first Edel Gathering and saw all the gushing blog posts that followed. last year. It seemed like in order to attend you needed to have a cool mom blog and tons of kids to blog about.

None of which applied to my life…leaving me feeling completely excluded and on the outside. It was pretty darn easy to hate Edel a year ago.

But then something happened.

God worked on my heart and freed me from former bitterness and jealousy. I became a mom through the blessing of adoption. And a dear friend from college invited me to sign up when I was delirious with an 8-day-old baby at home. 🙂

I am glad I got to go and actually experience the conference as opposed to sitting on the sidelines making judgey eyes. Below are my biggest takeaways from Edel 2015:

1. Abandonment To God’s Will Leads To Joy

Of course since I had Josephine with me I couldn’t find the ability to actually write down all the amazing quotes shared on this topic…so I can’t really share with you any quality content, just my reflections.

Whoops.

Throughout all the speakers I felt the Holy Spirit telling me LOUD. AND. CLEAR. that only in God’s will for my life is where my joy lies.

Not in someone else’s situation. Not when things are only going “well” according to my standards. Not when I reach x, y, or z state in life that I am not currently at.

His will TODAY is where my joy can be found. Accepting whatever comes with peace and trust with ungripped hands will wash away my stress, anxiety, and fear that all too often hold me captive and unable to live my vocation to the full.

2. I Am Not Alone

If I had $1 for the times I felt alone this past year I’d be a very rich woman indeed.

Staying home with Josie has been undoubtedly one of my BEST decisions but it’s the HARDEST thing I’ve personally ever done.

It was a looooong winter and the days sort of blended together. Thanks be to God I had a few other Mommas I knew going through the same stages with babies almost identical in age to Josephine.

But the loneliness still crept in on those long snowy days. I think the Devil is an expert at isolation in general but it was unreal how lonely I got those days on end where I never left the house.

Just knowing other moms are out there feeling the same thing was comforting. That I’m not a freak or weirdo for battling these feelings as a mom. I needed to know I wasn’t alone.

3. Moms Aren’t My Enemies

If I am being honest, there used to be a part of me that hated moms. Not only because I was battling infertility and was just flat-out jealous of them but because it seemed like they couldn’t talk about anything BUT their kids…which I found annoying.

Moms became an enemy and I preferred to hang with singles or other married-without-kiddos gals.

Since becoming a mom myself I’ve learned at how kind and giving other moms are. I’ve had other moms reach out to me and be some of the most supportive women I now know. And yes, talking about the kids is tempting, but moms can still talk about MUCH more than the kids if given the freedom!

And I met dozens of those women at Edel.

Moms who were my allies and friends…anything BUT my enemy. It was refreshing to meet Catholic moms from all over the country with all types of personalities and interests yet going through the same things vocationally.

It was truly refreshing. I couldn’t hate it at all. 🙂