Category Archives: Love

Seeking to Console

14492355_10104705101121664_5578315947801954111_n“Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
 Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
 Where there is injury, pardon;
 Where there is error, the truth;
 Where there is doubt, the faith;
 Where there is despair, hope;
 Where there is darkness, light;
 And where there is sadness, joy.

 O Divine Master,
 Grant that I may not so much seek
 To be consoled, as to console;
 To be understood, as to understand;
 To be loved as to love.

 For it is in giving that we receive;
 It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
 And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.”

Today is the feast day of St. Francis of Assissi. This prayer, attributed to him, is very well known. It is recited often, printed on cards, and is the basis for hymns. In fact, we recently sung this beautiful prayer during Mass.  While I’ve been familiar with the prayer for a long time, the part that has stuck out to me most recently is that second paragraph:

 O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled, as to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved as to love.

We all face difficulties in life. Whether in our marriages, our careers, struggling with illness, financial troubles, infertility, death of a loved one, you name it.  Not one of us walks through life without being touched by some sort of trial, big or small.  And sometimes these troubles seem to take control of our lives.  In those times when all our focus is on the troubles we face, we tend to expect a certain reaction from those around us.

We want the people around us to be better at consoling us, to understand us more, to show us love in a different way. We get frustrated when they don’t have the right words to say. Or when no matter how hard they try, they just can’t understand what we are dealing with.  And when we don’t find ourselves consoled “properly” by those around us, it can lead us to feel more upset.

The second paragraph in the St. Francis prayer seems to me to be a cry for help in just these moments. In the times when we think to ourselves “no one understand what I am dealing with,” this prayer asks God to help us realize that, even if we ourselves don’t feel understood, we can still seek to understand the pain of those around us.  If we do not feel consoled by the words of others, rather than letting it upset us more, we can pray for the grace to see others in pain and find the words to console them.   It is a prayer that takes our attention away from our own struggles and instead redirects the focus to those around us who are in need.

On the feast day of St. Francis today, I pray that we might all strive to be a brighter light in the lives around us. To bring peace, love, joy, and hope to those who need it most.  And that when we find ourselves struggling, we may have the strength to turn our focus to others who are also in need and to find a way to help console them, understand them, and love them, even in the midst of our own struggles.

~~~~Baby Update~~~~

Just to update all of you who have so kindly kept us in prayer throughout our journey of infertility and our miraculous pregnancy, everything is going very well!  I am 36 weeks in my pregnancy this week and while I have loved being pregnant and feeling his little kicks and flips, we are so excited to meet him and hold him in our arms in a few weeks.  Thank you again for all your prayers!

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Holding on to Joy

joy of the LordFor years I prayed for a baby.  I prayed so hard and I cried each month when it didn’t happen.  I didn’t know what to do when we were told it never would happen.  I was devastated and prayed for a miracle.  And I am so beyond blessed today to say that I am just about 30 weeks pregnant with my little miracle baby boy.  I still can hardly believe it!  Every time I feel him move, or listen to his heartbeat, or look at his ultrasound pictures, or see my own growing belly, I feel such joy, happiness, and thankfulness.

And yet, despite the joy, it seems over the past month there have been numerous trials trying to steal that joy.  Things that come up and cause stress and worry and pain (all amplified by the pregnancy of course).

Things like my husband having to travel out of town again for work.

Or like my dog getting a severe infection and requiring a last minute vet visit and several medications (not to mention the costs associated with this) all while my husband was out of town.

Or my car (that was paid off mind you) going into the shop for what we thought were minor repairs only to find out the cost was outrageous and it was more economical to purchase a new (to us anyway) car.

Or contracting a bizarre skin infection that has resulted in unexpected doctor’s visits, medicine, and a few added layers of stress.

Why in the world did all this need to happen in the last trimester of pregnancy?

Despite the joy felt by my husband and myself and many friends and family members over the new baby, there is one who is not happy about the new addition at all, and that is the devil.

I am sure that the idea of new life never thrills him, especially considering how much effort he puts into getting others to end life here on earth through abortion, terrorism, suicide, murder, euthanasia.  And the fact that this baby is nothing short of a complete miracle from God?  Well I don’t think he’s very happy about our joy over all this.  And I can’t help but think that maybe this same someone is watching these little trials come my way just waiting for them to take over so that the joy over this baby inside of me is replaced with worry, fear, anger, doubt.

But I refuse to let that happen.  Because when I take a minute to look at the big picture, there is far more to be thankful for than there is to be upset about.  And those things that caused extra moments of stress?  Well when I look at them compared to all our blessings, they are really nothing at all.

It is hard when my husband has to travel.  He is my best friend and I miss spending every day with him when he is gone.  I miss making him dinners and having him beside me when I go to sleep.  Of course I feel sad sometimes while he is away.  But I am blessed to have him in my life, as my husband and as the father of our little baby coming soon.  I am blessed that he is in good health.  Blessed that he shares my faith and helps me grow stronger in it constantly.  Blessed that he has a job in the field that he studied so hard for and that his job is one that is making a positive difference in our world.  So if that job sends him out of town here and there, I can deal with that.  Compared to all the good, that is nothing!

Our dog getting sick was certainly not fun. (She ate something left behind by some stray cats that dogs are not supposed to eat…)  But she was ok.  And despite the stress it caused in the moment, it was a blessing that I had the time to take her as soon as she got sick.  A blessing that it was nothing serious and that the medicine quickly helped and she is back to normal.  A blessing that we have the ability and finances to go to the vet and take care of our little pup when needed.  And a blessing that I still have her following me around, cuddling, taking walks with me.  So who cares about a silly vet visit with all those blessings?

It was so nice to have paid off my car.  But you know what?  We will make it just fine with the new payment.  Things may be tough but there are many things we can do without when money is tight.  We are blessed now to have a safe vehicle that we don’t need to worry about driving with the baby especially on long trips to visit family out of town.  And we are blessed that we found out about the car issues while it was in the shop, not during a break down on the side of the road.

The skin infection was truly random and caused the most worry out of all these.  I was concerned about it affecting the baby and about the medicine I needed to take for it.  But I am blessed that it was on my arm where I could easily notice it and have it taken care of quickly.  Blessed that we caught it early enough that it remained topical and did not get to baby.  Blessed that modern medicine has options for treating it that are still safe for me and the baby.  And blessed that it is healing!

When I sit down and look at all these blessings (not to mention other blessings we have like our family, home, food, running water, and countless more), I realize there is truly nothing to complain about.  Nothing to worry or stress over.  God is in control and has blessed us beyond measure.

So although that thief of joy might be waiting for me to lose sight of my blessings and turn to negative thoughts instead, I refuse.  When I feel myself getting overwhelmed or stressed, I will turn to prayer and to counting my blessings to keep things in perspective and to keep holding on to that joy.  The joy that comes from having the Lord in my life, having Him beside me every step of the way, and from all that He has blessed us with.

“…for the joy of the Lord is your strength” ~Nehemiah 8:10

Boasting of our Afflictions

mountains-1405043_960_720In today’s world, a world saturated by social media and making sure every photo, every post shows you in the best possible light, weakness and struggles are not popular.  Facebook is filled with posts showing bright smiling families and people post photos on Instagram or Snapchat of exciting adventures, laughing with friends, even of a particularly delicious meal.  It is a rare occasion when someone shares instead about something they are struggling with.  No one wants to portray themselves as anything less than perfect.  So instead of posting about the argument you had with your husband last night over finances, you share a “Throw Back Thursday” to your wedding day and gush over how in love you are.  Instead of posting about an illness that has been weighing you down, you post a smiling picture with a fancy filter to show just how great everything is.  Instead of posting about a stressful day getting the house cleaned up and the kids in bed, you share a blissful picture of the sleeping baby to show how perfect your world is at that moment.

It’s not a bad thing to look on the bright side, to choose to be positive despite our circumstances, and to take care that what we share shows us in the best light and promotes hope and optimism rather than complaining.  After all, isn’t that what we are taught?

“A cheerful heart is a good medicine,
but a downcast spirit dries up the bones.”  – Proverbs 17:22

And yet at times, refusing to share the struggles we face may do more harm than good.  I don’t mean to say we should walk around in a cloud of doom over everything “wrong” in our lives and constantly complain to others.  There is a fine line between complaining, whining, neglecting to take note of the blessings we are surrounding, and genuinely sharing a struggle we face with a friend in hopes that they will share our burden and we can do the same for them.  In the second reading at Mass on Sunday we read,

“Brothers and sisters:
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith,
we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
through whom we have gained access by faith
to this grace in which we stand,
and we boast in hope of the glory of God.
Not only that, but we even boast of our afflictions,
knowing that affliction produces endurance,
and endurance, proven character,
and proven character, hope,
and hope does not disappoint,
because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts
through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” – Romans 5:1-5

To boast of our afflictions does not mean we complain and grumble.  Instead, we boast of our afflictions to show that, despite what we may face in life, we know that we will endure, become stronger, and grow in the hope of the Lord.  To hide any struggle we may face also hides the ways which the Holy Spirit works within us to overcome that affliction.  It hides the ways that we have grown stronger.  It hides how we have managed to maintain hope in the Lord through it all, even the darkest of times.

Not to say that our Facebook and Twitter need to show every detail of what we encounter.  In fact, perhaps those social media platforms are best left for more positive sharing.  But perhaps we could so better to share our struggles more, even if it is just with one trusted friend or within our own families.  To share and “boast” of the afflictions we face shows others that they are not alone.  We, too, have had our struggles and will walk this road alongside them to help them endure, to help them grow in character, and to help them hold onto hope.  Because hope never disappoints when our hope is in the Lord.

Get Equipped

Things have been a bit hectic lately and I haven’t had time to write.  So in place of writing today, I am sharing a post from my sister Rebecca who leaves for her mission trip this week.  Check it out!

Get EquippedGet Equipped

Well my bags are packed and I’m Rpreparing to leave for 46 days to serve the Lord on Missions. It’s hard to believe that I’ve been dreaming of this moment since as early as 2008, and I have been preparing for this one trip since August. God has done so much for me in all this time, and I feel he has prepared me so well.

Continue reading here

With God All Things Are Possible: My Miracle Story

13076967_10104245281224424_1389941517515175780_nThis week is National Infertility Awareness week.  Did you know that 1 in 8 couples struggle with infertility?  I’ve posted about my own struggle here before.  Infertility is a very real cross.  The grief of letting go of that hope you have in your heart month after month after month is excruciating.

Last spring, after almost three years of trying and praying for a baby, I was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).  It was the PCOS that seemed to be responsible for the lack of regularity in my cycles as well as hormonal imbalances and cysts on my ovaries.  There are ways to work around PCOS.  Medications to try, nutrition changes to make, etc.  But before we could try any of those things, my body had to get rid of a large complex cyst.  After months of monitoring and medication to attempt to shrink it, the cyst had only grown larger and another one had joined it.  The next step was to have laparoscopic surgery to remove the cysts.  My doctor suspected I may have endometriosis as well.  The only way to officially diagnose endo is through surgery.

During the surgery, she removed the cysts and discovered that I had stage 4 endometriosis.  It had stuck my insides together making it impossible for anything to function properly.  She was able to clear it out but the things about endometriosis, there is no cure.  You can remove it via surgery, but it will likely return.  And the further along you are stage-wise…the quicker it typically comes back.  She advised our best chance at pregnancy would be within 6 months of surgery.

So we hoped and we prayed.  We tried medications to help my hormones and had ultrasounds to monitor my ovaries.  After 5 months we decided enough was enough.  The medications and ultrasounds were expensive and didn’t seem to be helping.  So we decided to stop treatment and see how things progressed on their own.

My first cycle after the 6 month mark was incredibly difficult.  Not only did I feel like hope was lost since our “window of opportunity” had passed, but I was in a lot of physical pain too.  I suspected that the endometriosis was returning or that another large cyst had formed.  And so I went back to see my doctor.  An ultrasound showed no cysts and so my doctor and I both figured it was the endo returning.  My doctor sat down at this point to tell me that despite being 7 months ago, she vividly remembered my surgery because of the severity of the endo.  She explained that the surgery was very difficult and that my whole pelvic region was a mess.  She said we could of course keep trying, but that we had little to no chance of ever conceiving, either on our own or with treatment.

I was completely devastated.  I cried in her office.  I cried in the car on my way back to work.  I cried in the bathroom at work.  I cried when I got home.  I didn’t know what to do or where to go.  I set up a meeting with our pastoral minister Sr. Rose Anne and spoke with her about it all. She was incredibly helpful and encouraged me to keep praying for God’s will and try to switch my focus for a while.

So we did.  We turned our full attention to our search for our first house and found one we loved.  They accepted our offer and things began moving quickly with packing up the apartment and figuring out all the logistics of buying a home and moving.   We decided to focus on the house.  Neither of us felt called to adoption so we agreed to let it be for now and revisit the issue in a year once things got settled.

Later that same month of my disappointing doctor’s visit, at the urging of my husband, I took a pregnancy test.  I was convinced it would be negative.  Despite trying to remain hopeful, my doctor’s words were embedded deep in my brain and in my heart and I fully expected to take the test, have a good cry over it, and move on with the day.

But to the amazement of myself and my husband, it was positive!  I almost didn’t believe it!  I cried but for a very different reason than all the other tests!  I cried with joy at the miracle that God had given to us.

I am blessed beyond belief to say that today I am just passed the 3 month mark in my pregnancy!  I have had several ultrasounds to monitor my progress during early pregnancy and have been able to see little baby’s hands, see him/her moving around, and to hear the precious heartbeat of our little one.  I no longer need to see my specialist and will continue with a normal pregnancy with my regular doctor!

Some people hear this and say “see you just needed to relax and think about something else.”  Or  “see it always happens as soon as you stop trying.”  But I don’t believe that.  I believe the same thing I have believed in my heart all along but that my head sometimes forgot.  That God has a plan.  That everything happens in His time, not ours.  That life is a miraculous gift and a wondrous blessing given by God, not man.

I thank all of you who have prayed for us over the years and I ask that you continue to pray for all those who are still struggling with infertility as well as for our little baby.  And please join me in rejoicing at the goodness of our Lord who has blessed us with this tiny miracle!

Created in God’s Image

in His imageThere is so much attention placed on our bodies.  Countless articles, books, and videos are dedicated to helping people have the “perfect” body.  The media tells us what makeup to wear so your eyes will pop, what hairstyle best compliments your face shape, what type of jean is most flattering, what exercises will make you look red-carpet-ready in the shortest time and with the least effort put forth.

We are so much more than our bodies. So much more than our outward appearance!  Our bodies, in all shapes and sizes, are created in God’s own image!

God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”  Genesis 1:27

How beautiful is that?  God created all things.  Trees that reach up to the heavens, birds that sing so sweetly, fish that glide through the waters.  Our loving Creator took what was nothing but a “formless void” (Gn. 1:2) and out of nothing, created such astounding beauty!  And yet, while the beauty of nature and animals is certainly awesome, God made human beings something more.  We are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps. 139:14)  Not just another part of creation, humans were created separately, in the very image of God Himself!

As such, we are called to treat our own bodies with dignity and respect.  In fact, our bodies are not just empty shells but are the temple of the Holy Spirit!

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own?  For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Created in God’s own image with our bodies as a temple for the Holy Spirit dwelling among us.  How amazing!  If we were only to remember these facts how different would we live our lives?

If we looked upon every human life as created in God’s image, how could we turn a blind eye to abortion, to refugees struggling for a better life, to those who are starving, homeless, or sick?

If we saw ourselves as the temple to the Holy Spirit within us, how could we possibly abuse and degrade our bodies?

What if, instead of focusing on the latest fad diet, we put that time and energy into glorifying God in our bodies?

We need to see God in ourselves and in those around us that we may be more mindful of our actions and words.  More respectful of all life.  More the person God created each of us to be.  More like Christ. For we are created in the very image of God.

“Let us be very sincere in our dealings with each other, and have the courage to accept each other as we are. Do not be surprised or become preoccupied at each other’s failures – rather, see and find in each other the good, for each one of us is created in the image of God.” Blessed Mother Teresa

Fortnight for Freedom: Witness to Marriage

Marriage.Fortnight for Freedom is a 14 day period leading up to the 4th of July where we take time to bring awareness to and pray for our religious freedoms.  It is a time to give thanks for the freedom we have, to pray for those who are persecuted for faith, and to pray that our own country will honor the religious freedoms that we hold so dear.  My parish takes part in this Fortnight for Freedom with a prayer service each year that incorporates speakers, song, and prayers for our religious liberties.  This is my first year participating and I was asked to speak on marriage.  I wanted to share with you my witness to marriage that I will be presenting this coming weekend:

The theme of this year’s Fortnight for Freedom is to “Bear Witness.”  I wanted to share today my own witness to marriage, what marriage means to me, and why it matters to begin with.

This July will be 4 years since my husband and I were married. When we were preparing to get married, plenty of people had advice on how to have a happy, successful marriage. Communication, compromise, making time for each other, and other things like that. Of course those things are great, but it’s something more that makes a marriage strong. I may only be married four years, but I look to the example of my husband’s parents who have been married 29 years, to my own parents who are celebrating their 30th anniversary in November, and to my grandparents who have been married over 60 years and I see one thing in common. They all had God at the center. It is God’s presence that makes a true marriage work.

Without God, there is no love.  God is love! We think we know what love is.  But one look at the cross reminds us that there is a love so deep we cannot begin to grasp it.  A love that created life. That sacrificed itself for us, even when we stubbornly refuse it.  The love of Christ is never-ending. Knowing that such a love exists, even while not fully understanding the depth of it, opens our eyes to the reality that we have so much to learn about love. We need Christ to show us how to love.  We need Him beside us in all aspects of life, in all our relationships, and definitely in our marriages.

Marriage is a gift from God. It is the union of one man and one woman as husband and wife. Marriage is more than the “next step” in a relationship. To me, marriage is a calling from God to live as husband and wife being open to whatever God has in store for us. It is not something to be defined or changed by us. It is a sacred and beautiful sacrament given to us by God.  Marriage is not just about the individual. It is about the unbreakable union between man and wife.  And for a marriage to remain strong in love, peace, and joy despite what life throws our way, that union must include Jesus.   With God at the center of our marriages, we may continue to grow in love for each other and for Him.