Tag Archives: trust

Praying through Infertility – Adopt-a-Blogger

Adopt-a-Blogger-CircleMany times when we face struggles in our lives, especially personal struggles, we are tempted to keep it all to ourselves.  To deal with the feelings, the emotions, the hurt, completely on our own.  We think that because it is a private struggle, we should hide it from others.  But the truth is that when we share our trials with others, when we bring our struggles out of the darkness and into the light, we open ourselves up to the powerful prayers of many others and may even inspire someone else along the way.  Throughout our journey of infertility, I have gradually begun to share more of our story.  This month, I am humbly blessed to to be chosen as the September Blogger of the Month for the Adopt-a-Blogger Prayer Campaign run by Conceiving Hope.  The Adopt-a-Blogger campaign chooses one blogger each month who is struggling in their journey to have children and asks for the readers to pray for that person throughout the month.  I am so blessed and thankful for all your prayers and wanted to share a little more about my journey:

I have always wanted to a mom.  I imagined meeting a wonderful man, getting married and having a great big family.  I was blessed to meet the man of my dreams my senior year of college and we were married a year after graduation,  He was everything I could have hoped for, and then some.  I couldn’t wait to start our family together.

Fast forward through four years of marriage, three years of actively trying for a family, numerous negative pregnancy tests, temperature charting, ultrasounds, medication, missed cycles, blood work, two HSGs, ovarian cysts, and a laparoscopy.  I have discovered that I have poly-cystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and stage IV endometriosis.  The combination of the two has resulted in a frequent lack of ovulation.  Through all of this, I am still not a mom.  The second bedroom in our apartment is still not a baby’s room.  And I still keep hoping for next month.

Infertility is an exhausting journey.  It drains you physically, mentally, financially, and emotionally.  Because every month I can’t help but hope for a pregnancy, every month there is ample room for disappointment.  There are tears and questions and worries and doubts.  I never expected it would be so hard to do something so natural.

No matter how tough it gets, I strive to remember all that I have been blessed with.  I have been blessed with the most wonderful husband who stands by my side, who makes me laugh, who puts up with my crazy emotions, and who always reminds me that God is in control.  I have been blessed with incredible family and friends who help me along the journey.  And I have been blessed with an adorable little dog who snuggles up with me when I need a good cry.  For these and countless other blessings, I know I have to thank my Lord.

Because in the midst of all the tears and frustrations, God is still there.  I may not understand His timing.  I may not understand His will.  But I know in my heart, beyond a doubt, that my husband and I were meant to be parents.  I know that my God loves us and has a plan for us that is far greater than any I could come up with on my own.  And so month after month, as the hope turns to disappointment, I turn to the Lord.  I cry out to Him, I plead with Him, and I ask Him to give me the strength to go through it another month.  He never disappoints.

There are little victories along the way.  Gentle nudgings from God that seem to tell me not to give up yet!  Things are looking up from a medical standpoint and I have every reason to believe and hope that we will be blessed with a child.  I don’t know when or how, but I know it will happen.  Even though I know these things in my heart, the emotions can take over at times and I humbly ask for your prayers to help me through this struggle.  Prayers for my husband and I to stay strong in our marriage and to grow even closer in our relationship with each other and with God.  Prayers that we will conceive and that God will bless us with a precious baby to add to our little family of two. Prayers that my will might be one with the will of the Lord.  And prayers that through all the struggles, the ups and the downs, we will always remember to look at the numerous blessings we have been given and trust in the Lord.

Thank you so much for your prayers and know that you are in mine as well.

Never Hunger

A few weeks ago we were singing “Eat This Bread” as our Communion hymn during Mass. It is a familiar hymn, one that I have sung countless times. And yet on this particular Sunday it hit me in a new light.

Eat this bread, drink this up, come to me and never be hungry.

Eat this bread, drink this cup, trust in me and you will not thirst.

These words sung over and over in the refrain come from the Gospel of John, Chapter 6.

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. (John 6:35)

They are simple words. And yet, as often seems to be the case, a deep and profound meaning comes forth from these few words. Jesus is the bread of life! And whoever comes to Him will never hunger; never thirst.

Never hunger. Never thirst.

What is it that we hunger and thirst for? Perhaps someone hungers for a big promotion at work. Or maybe someone is thirsting to meet that special someone who might one day be their spouse. We hunger and thirst for many things throughout the day and throughout our lives.  These hungers, these thirsts, these desires within us leave us aching feeling that seems to be ever present. A feeling that something is missing. My heart hungers for a child. And while I might try to ignore the ache, it is still there. That constant, aching hunger is exhausting. That thirsting leaves you tired. Yet we keep at it,   forging ahead doing whatever we can to alleviate the hunger; to conquer our thirst.

The Lord wants what is best for us. He knows what is best for us. While the things that we hunger and thirst for might be worthy causes, we cannot let these desires come before the Lord. When we place our hope and our trust 100% in the Lord, there is no more hunger! Because to trust so deeply in Him means knowing beyond a doubt that He has a plan. If the desires of our hearts were placed there by the Lord, then we should be able to fully trust that He will fulfil them! And if these desires do not come to us from the Lord, then we should trust in Him to change our hearts and open us up to His will. There is no need for me to hunger so deeply for a child when I know that God is the Creator of life! He has a plan for me and my family far greater than I can think of.

Being only human, it is hard to completely let go of all those hungers and thirsts, big and small, throughout our day to day life. To let go of all of that and fill our lives instead with Christ is a noble task, but a difficult one.

How do we go about relieving this hunger? Jesus says to come to Him, to believe in Him. How can we do this in a practical way? We can spend more time in prayer, set aside quiet time to read and reflect upon the Word of God in Scripture, and take count of our blessings rather than focus on the things we lack.

But perhaps the best way to help us grow closer to Christ, to fill our heart, soul, and in fact our entire being with Him, is through the miraculous Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. Jesus tells us,

“Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them.” John 6:56

To partake in the gift of the Eucharist is to abide in the Lord and to welcome Him into our very selves in the most beautiful and complete way. Through Holy Communion, we are able to let go of all other hungers, all other thirsts, and to focus solely on Christ, physically present there with us.  In this way, we truly fill our souls with Him and His love. Jesus is the bread of life. To eat of this bread means that we will no longer be hungry. Through this most holy Sacrament, we are given the strength to let go of all our desires and to be filled with Jesus. Through this beautiful gift of the Eucharist, we no longer hunger or thirst because we are filled completely with everything that we need: Jesus Christ our Lord.

How Can this Be…?

Paolo_de_Matteis_-_The_AnnunciationMary’s YES to the Lord can seem incredibly daunting.  How could Mary, as a young virgin girl, hop on board so easily?  Why do I struggle so much with discerning God’s will for my own life?  Why can’t I say YES in the same way?

When Gabriel greets Mary he tells her that she is full of grace and that the Lord is with her.  What wondrous words!  God’s grace had already filled the Blessed Mother.  And while this was her biggest YES to the Lord, it was hardly her first.  Gabriel tells Mary she has found favor with the Lord.  She has been living a holy life, following the Lord, and placing her trust in Him.   She was given a special grace from God to prepare her for this moment.  In short, she was given everything that she needed to make this decision.

Our God loves us.  He does not desire to put us into situations we are completely unprepared for.  Instead, He calls each one of us and is by our side constantly in life to prepare us for what He has in store for us.  He gives each of us the grace we need to say YES to His call in our own lives.

But as I am only human, there are times when I still feel confused by it all.  Times when I want to know more, to understand what will happen next.

Then I read those words again,

“How can this be…?”

Mary did not understand it all either.  When Gabriel greets Mary, she is troubled and confused.  Even after Gabriel tells her not to fear and that she will be the mother of Jesus, the Son of the Most High whose kingdom will reign forever, she asks, how?  She wanted to understand.

Eve wanted to understand, too.  She was literally surrounded by God’s goodness, but she still wanted to know more.  She wanted to know the how and the why of it all.  She also had a choice to make, and she chose to follow her own path, to turn away from God.  Rather than trusting in His promises, she took matters into her own hands, choosing sin over God.

Mary chose differently.  She was still confused.  She still wanted to understand more.  But rather than trying to figure it out on her own, she turned to God.  She asked, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?”   And she took the explanation that was given to her.  Gabriel did not explain exactly how it would all work.  He didn’t tell her how to deal with the questions from others, including Joseph! He didn’t reveal everything that the future would hold.  But he did remind her “nothing will be impossible for God.”

Mary didn’t continue to question the specifics of everything.  She knew what she needed to know.  And so she put her trust in the Lord and said YES.

Sometimes saying YES to God means we can see it all clearly before us.  And sometimes, saying YES means knowing that we need to trust in Him even when we can’t understand how it will all work out in the end. We may ask the Lord, how can this be?  To ask Him this is to seek His guidance.  And though we may not see it right away, He will always answer with whatever it is we need to know.  Even if all we need to know in that moment is that nothing is impossible for God!

When we are faced with confusion and doubt, when tough decisions come our way, when we simply feel the need to know and understand, we have two choices. We can choose to give into the temptation and place our quest for knowledge above our trust in God, as Eve did.  Or, we can use the grace He has given us to say YES to God even though we may not understand it all. We find hope in the knowledge that nothing is impossible for God.  And through this hope, through His grace, we can follow the example of our loving and holy Mother Mary and say “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.  May it be done to me according to your word.”

Advent: Calm in the Chaos

nativity-447767_640Advent.  A time of waiting and preparation, both for the celebration of the birth of our Savior, and for His glorious return.  Sometimes we might feel as though there is too much going on in our lives to truly focus on the Advent season.  But the season of Advent can be celebrated in our hearts in times of quiet prayer and pondering as well as in the midst of hectic preparations.

In the time leading up to the birth of our Lord, Mary and Joseph had a lot going on. The angel Gabriel comes and delivers a most wonderful message to the Blessed Mother and she joyfully accepts the will of the Father, even without knowing exactly what may be involved.  Then an angel of the Lord appears to Joseph to assure him that what Mary said was true.  He, too, accepts the will of the Father and takes Mary into his home.  Suddenly their lives were forever changed.  They had been two seemingly ordinary people preparing to be married.  And now they were married and expecting a child.  Not just any child, but the Son of God! The child they were preparing to welcome into the world would “save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

In what I can only imagine was a whirlwind of wonder and joy at the events that were transpiring I am sure that there were also some hectic moments.  Mary went to visit Elizabeth for several months.  They had the usual preparations for expecting a baby.  And rather than staying close to home while waiting for the Christ Child to be born, they had to go and journey to Bethlehem for the census.  Can you imagine being in Mary’s position?  Leaving family and friends and the comfort of the home you have likely been preparing for months for the arrival of a baby, to travel while quite pregnant would be stressful for most of us.  And what about Joseph?  He loved Mary dearly and I am sure he was concerned for his new bride with all the commotion going on.  I can imagine him frantically trying to find a place for them to rest before finding the stable.  I think it is fair to say that most of us would be overwhelmed by it all.

Was Mary overwhelmed?  Were Mary and Joseph stressed out and frantic as their plans kept changing?  Mary and Joseph were people just like you and me.  They had plenty on their plates!  And in their time of waiting, they couldn’t constantly sit back in quiet solitude and contemplate the events that were going to transpire.  They had to continue on in their preparations, deal with changing plans and forge ahead with their lives.  They couldn’t escape the whirlwind of life.

What they could do was make time for the Lord in the midst of it all.  They could trust in His Almighty plan for them, even when things seemed chaotic and confusing.  They could lean on His promises and ponder in their hearts the glorious mystery they had been called to live out.  They could proclaim His goodness even if it didn’t all make sense to them right away.

As we make our way through this Advent season we journey in our hearts alongside Mary and Joseph.  The world around us is hectic.  When everywhere we turn there is commotion and chaos, we can still find the peace of Advent within us.   While we wait for Christmas to come there are things to be done!  Gifts to wrap, cookies to bake, decorations to put up, family get-togethers to plan and attend.  Even if we manage to avoid the frenzied pace that can accompany the Christmas season, what then? After Christmas we will still be waiting for Christ’s glorious return.  Do we truly expect to avoid all stress, all chaos, all commotion for the rest of our lives?

That holy night in Bethlehem when Christ our King was born was truly glorious.  But the journey wasn’t over.  And it wasn’t always calm and peaceful.  Imagine the commotion and uncertainty as they fled to Egypt in the middle of the night to save the Baby Jesus.  And imagine the frantic search for the Child Jesus for three days before finding Him in the temple.  Even with the Son of God living there with them, I am sure that Mary and Joseph had their share of stressful and hectic moments.  We all do!

Try as we might, the Christmas season may not be quiet and peaceful at every moment for us.  We may not avoid all the chaos and commotion in this season or in the months and years to follow.  Even so, we can still find peace.  Emmanuel!  God is with us!  Even in the hectic moments, He is there.  And those moments will seem a little less hectic if we strive to remember that.   When we feel the frantic pressure of waiting in long lines to purchase gifts we can say a prayer of thanks for the loved ones in our lives.  When we find ourselves stuck in an endless traffic jam we can take advantage of the extra time and say a few prayers while we wait.  When life is swirling around us and we seem to find confusion every way we turn, we can trust that God is there beside us even when we can’t see the way ahead.

So this Advent season, if despite your efforts to remain calm and peaceful you find yourself stuck in the midst of the commotion, look to Mary and Joseph.  They show us how to follow the Lord and trust in His ways while still living out our daily lives, crazy though they may be.  Things may get hectic, plans may change, but God remains with us.  He is there in the calm.  He is there in the chaos.  God is with us!  Emmanuel!

Reality Check

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Do you ever find yourself getting your hopes up about something only to quickly suppress them with a “reality check?”  You think for a minute that what you have wanted is just about to come true!  Hopes are high and you are filled with joy and certainty that everything will work out perfectly.  And then the little thoughts creep in…

“well it’s not realistic to expect that to happen immediately…”

“Better not get my hopes up, realistically we couldn’t afford it anyway…”

“Just because I want it to happen, realistically there is a lot standing in the way and chances are pretty slim…”

We dash our own hopes with our perceived notions of reality.  We have an idea in our minds of how things “realistically” happen in this world.  And more often than not, that idea is filled with negativity.  Why is that?

We can tell ourselves it is because we are being realistic.  Because we are thinking logically.  Because we are analyzing the situation from various aspects.  Because we are simply preparing ourselves for what is most likely to happen. But what it really boils down to is this: a lack of trust.

Do we truly believe that our wildest hopes and dreams are too far-fetched for God?  Do we seriously think that for one second we know what “reality” is better than our Father? I’m not talking about tempting God with outlandish requests to see if He really will answer them.  I am talking about sincere hopes and prayers.

Like praying for a friend to be cured.

Praying for a new career opportunity to allow you to spend more time with family.

Or, in my case, even praying for a baby.

When we ask for these things, why do we feel the need to stack the odds against ourselves?  Do we feel as though our requests are too big, too difficult for God?

Truly I tell you, if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and if you do not doubt in your heart, but believe that what you say will come to pass, it will be done for you.”  Mark 11:23

God knows what is in our hearts.  When deep in my heart I know my soul is pleading and praying for a baby, do I really think God is fooled by me listing all the reasons it won’t happen?  The only one I am fooling is myself.  Realistically the only thing I know for certain is that God has it under control.

Our God is loving, kind, merciful, forgiving.  Much more so than any of us ever could be.  When we pray and are open to His will in our lives, we need to have full faith that He hears our prayers. Not only that, but He answers them.  We may not know how or when, but He does.  And if the answer doesn’t come as quickly or in the exact way we wanted, we do not need to worry or feel discouraged.  Instead, we remain joyful and filled with the hope and love of Christ.  Because anything He has planned is far greater than what we could dream up for ourselves.

So while we wait for an answer to our prayers, forget about the logic.  Give yourself a reality check.  Not the kind our world tells us we need.  Not analyzing finances and listing all the reasons why it won’t happen.  But check yourself into the only true reality.  The reality that God loves you.  Remain constantly filled with hope and joy and the knowledge that God is answering your prayer!  And the answer is better than we ever could have expected.

The Human Heart Guard

Doc1I love my little puggle pup. She warms my heart and is part of our family.   As such, I want to take care of her to the best of my ability.   That means treating her to protect against fleas and ticks on our many walks in the park, taking her to the vet when she is sick, and giving her the monthly dose of medicine to protect against heartworm and other worms.  One of the popular versions of this medication is called Heartgard.  Now I am not here to plug Heartgard or advertise for them…in fact I am not even sure that we use their brand!  But as I contemplated the second reading from Mass yesterday, “heart guard” popped into my head.

The reading we heard in Mass was Philippians 4:6-9

Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.  Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.

What a beautiful passage!  “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts…”  Isn’t that wonderful?  I imagine a tiny angel standing watch outside my heart.  Serving as  my own form of “heart guard” by keeping out all the worries, all the fear, the doubt, the anxiety, the negativity.  Only the good is allowed to enter.  And there is certainly enough good to fill up our hearts!  With such wondrous things surrounding us, how is it that those sneaky feelings of doubt and worry and overall negativity somehow break through and enter into our hearts?

Medications like Heartgard are wonderful!  But if you don’t use them regularly, if you let them sit in their box unopened, if you only give them to your pet once in a blue moon, they won’t be effective.  Despite all the merits they offer, without proper use, they won’t protect against a thing.

Perhaps we need to contemplate our own human form of heart guard.  This passage tells us that God will guard our hearts.  But it also gives us the instructions.  “Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God,”  These are our first instructions.  To let go of worry.  To pray about everything and to let God handle our prayers.  To do this requires full trust.  The kind of trust that allows us to leave it in God’s hands and trust our prayers are heard and answered, even if we do not know how or when.

Our next piece of instruction in this passage is hidden within the promise “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”   I am not a vet.  I do not understand how my dog’s heartworm medicine works to protect against disease.  I simply trust that by following the instructions, she will be protected.   In the same sense, we need to trust in God’s loving care and protection even though we do not understand it all.  The human heart guard we are given is the peace of God.  This peace is beyond our comprehension and is far too great for us to understand.  That’s ok!  We do not need to understand it.  We just need to trust.

“Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”    This is where it is really laid out for us.  How do we allow our hearts and minds to be guarded against negativity?  Simple – we focus on the positive!  Rather than filling our minds with thoughts of doubt and despair, we focus our attention on the wonderful things that surround us.  We count our blessings and take a moment to find the good in whatever situation we may find ourselves.

Notice this is not a one time deal.  The final instruction we receive in this short passage tells us “Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.”  This is a continuous process.  To keep doing what we have been taught.  To keep loving God, loving our neighbors, finding the blessings all around us, following God’s commands, and placing out full trust in Him.  To keep up with the things we have received through God’s grace and the Sacraments.  To keep following Christ no matter what comes our way.

What happens if we forget to follow the instructions?  If we miss a dose of our heart guard and find ourselves lacking that peace within us?  God does not leave us.  He is always there with peace so as to fill not only our hearts and minds but truly our entire being!  The more we empty of ourselves, of our own concerns and fears, the more room we make for God’s peace to fill us up.  If we find that we have allowed the negative thoughts, the worries, the fear and the doubt to creep back in, we need not fear!  The peace of God is always within our reach.  We simply need to pray, to trust, to give it all to the Lord, and to focus instead on the wondrous blessings that surround us.  And then we will find our hearts, minds, and souls protected by our very own human heart guard by being filled with a peace beyond our understanding. The peace of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Lessons from an Adventurous Pup

800px-Whipps_LedgesThis past weekend my husband and I took our little puggle pup Amber for an adventure to a beautiful park with tons of gorgeous and fascinating cliffs, rocks, ledges, and more. Amber is about 18 pounds and full of energy. The combination of beagle determination and pug goofiness makes her a crazy ball of fun in any situation but is heightened when surrounded by new smells and exciting trails to explore.

While my husband and I were careful to watch exactly where we were going, little Amber was not so cautious. She ran up ahead as far as her leash would allow her to. She pranced around and jumped from rock to rock without a care, occasionally glancing back at us as if to say “Come on!” She was happy as could be without a care in the world. She couldn’t see the path ahead through all the rocks, but she trusted that we were right there behind her, holding onto her leash and ready to stop her from going too far ahead or too close to the edge.

At one particularly adventurous moment, she took a leap onto a large slanted rock to the side of our intended path, much too steep for her to climb up.  She started to slide back down and my husband quickly picked her up, placing her back on the ground in the direction we had been heading.  Still she wasn’t scared or cautious as we came to the rocks again.  Her tail was wagging in its curly pug fashion as she happily continued along.

As Amber proved to be quite the trooper on our hike, she also knew when it was time for a rest.  The discovery of a small babbling stream through the rocks caused her to slow her step and take a few moments to drink up and cool off.  The sight of a little toad hopping along the path made her stop in her tracks to see just what this new creature was up to.  The lush green grass that grew in clusters along the trail provided more opportunities for breaks as Amber paused to munch on a blade here and there.  Despite her adventurous spirit, even Amber knew when to take a break and just relax.  She knew when to stop and enjoy the treasures she found.

As I carefully watched her to make sure she would be safe, it occurred to me that this is how I should be on my own adventure through life.  To go through life enjoying all the things we have been given and willing to try new adventures without fear.  To be able to feel the tug of the Holy Spirit guiding me even when I can’t quite see the path ahead.  To go forward knowing that if I start to wander in the wrong direction, to get too close to the edge, to attempt a climb too steep and dangerous, God will be there the whole time to gently pull me back to safety and help me find my way again.   And in the midst of it all, to be able to stop, rest, and enjoy the blessings that surround me.

I wish I could see the exact plan all laid out ahead of me with little signs telling me which way to go, what decisions to make, and so on.   But I can’t.   The best I can do is pray for guidance and keep going forward with my full trust in God.  When I feel myself beginning to stress over which way to go next or worrying over what might be ahead in life, I am going to take a cue from my pup and keep moving forward with the plans God has for me, stopping to rest and listen to His voice, and continuing on my journey with faith, hope, and excitement at the wonders God has in store.

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