Monday, November 30, 2009

A Newlywed Tale of Christmas Decorating

This weekend my husband and I decorated our apartment for Advent and Christmas. This is a special time for us since this is our first holiday season as a married couple. No children, tiny apartment, living in a town where the number of bodies laid to rest in the cemetery far outnumber the number of living residents. We're not completely happy with this arrangement. We'd much rather have a little one to dote one, live in a happy, cozy house and reside in a town that resembles civilization. (Maybe next year!)

Instead of focusing on the negative, we're choosing to look at the positive. This is time for us to really learn about each other's holiday traditions and favorite memories. This is a time for us to dream about what our future Christmasses will be like. A time for us to bond. A time for us to fall in love all over again.

Also a time to argue...playfully of course! We've come to a point where each of our family traditions differ. But this is also a time to work on building our marriage. Compromise, communication, sacrifice- all important tools for a good marriage.

Our fully decorated tree. Pretty isn't it? One of the points of disagreement was the use of sparkly garland. My mom and I have always used it. Ryan informed me that his family doesn't. But my dear husband, after seeing what the garland looked like, gave in.

Now don't get me wrong- I love Star Wars. I'm not ashamed to say I'm a huge fan. However, I didn't want the whole galactic gang on the tree. There's only so much room!

Good ol' George Brett. Hero of the Kansas City Royals. But look at my poor angel in the bottom right-hand corner. So little room for my ornaments!

Here is my very first "Mary's Angels" Hallmark ornament. It is #9 in the series. I have bought one every year since then. This year's angel is #22. That's a lot of angels to put on the tree. Ryan graciously let me put up all of my angels. I let him put up the Millennium Falcon, Satchel Paige, Cal Ripkin Jr., and Batman ornaments. It might not look "pretty" but it sure gives the tree character. I realize I need to stop being so selfish. And I think my angels like having Han Solo as company on the tree.

Perhaps one of my favorite memories of decorating this year's tree was the ornaments we bought together. Here is the ornament we bought at Mount Rushmore during our honeymoon.

This is the ornament we will always remember. When we're old and grey we'll remember this was the ornament we bought for our first Christmas together at the very first town we lived in as a married couple!

Another point of disagreement. This nativity scene is from the Holy Land. Ryan's uncle bought it while he was a seminary student. Ryan made the box holding the nativity scene when he was around 10 years old. He was bugging his mom (I can't imagine that!) so she told him to go down to his dad's shop and build a house for Baby Jesus. This was the result. I wanted to put it underneath the tree so it didn't look so bare. Ryan was worried that our dog Chandler would a) pee on the nativity scene b) eat one of the sheep or c) gnaw on one of the wise men. Seeing how Chandler kept wanting to sniff the tree and walk behind it, I put my pride in my back pocket, admitted to Ryan that he was right and put the nativity scene on one of our book shelves.

After a few days of disagreements and compromises, we ended up having a very blessed weekend. We watched the movie The Nativity Story. We lit the first candle of our Advent wreath, read a meditation and prayed a decade of the rosary. (We're taking Advent seriously this year!) We were safe and warm in our beautifully decorated home after a fun few days spend with our families.

Our disagreements were all in fun and I am thankful that Ryan takes traditions just as seriously as I do. I can't wait to make new traditions with him. I can't wait to see his mannerisms and characteristics in our future children and how he will make Christmas special for them.

But for now, our little family consists of him, Chandler and myself. Last night we used the self-timer on our camera to capture a family portrait in front of the Christmas tree. The dog wouldn't cooperate.
Finally we captured a decent pose, but Ryan had to hold a doggie toy off the the side to get Chandler to sit still!

"Is your house on fire, Clark?"
"No, Aunt Bethany. Those are the Christmas lights."
-Christmas Vacation

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Advent is Here!

Wow, I sure had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I hope you all did as well! Today I decorated our apartment with our Advent wreath and Christmas tree. I can't believe tomorrow is the first Sunday of Advent- this year has gone by so incredibly fast! (I guess getting married and graduating college in the same year will do that to a person!)

Below is a poem that is a good read as we prepare our hearts and minds for this Advent and Christmas season. My priest read it in one of his homilies and it really struck a cord with me. Something our culture really needs to hear:

Mary's Dream
I had a dream, Joseph.
I don't understand it, but I think it was about a birthday celebration for our son.
The people in my dream had been preparing for about six weeks.
They had decorated the house and bought new clothes.
They'd gone shopping many times and bought many elaborate gifts.
It was peculiar, though, because the presents weren't for our son.
They wrapped them in beautiful paper and stacked them under a tree.
Yes, a tree, Joseph, right inside their homes! They'd decorated the tree with sparkling ornaments.
There was a figure like an angel on the top of the tree.
Everyone was laughing and happy.
They gave their gifts to each other, Joseph, not to our son.

I don't think they even knew him.
They never mentioned his name.
I had the strangest feeling that, if our Jesus had gone to this celebration he would have been intruding.
How sad for someone not to be wanted at his own birthday party!
I'm glad it was only a dream. How terrible Joseph, if it had been real!
-Author Unknown

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

I was planning on writing a list of what I am thankful for, but I ran out of time! Maybe after all the Thanksgiving festivities I will write one. But until then, I'm taking a blogging break! I hope all of you have a very blessed and safe Thanksgiving. God bless you!

Monday, November 23, 2009

"But the Catholic Church is Boooooooring...."

I was honored to volunteer for this year's National Catholic Youth Conference held in Kansas City and was excited to hang out with my brother. We listened to some speakers, visited some expo booths, walked in a Eucharistic procession and basically witnessed 20,000+ teens on fire for the faith.

It was an amazing experience and my brother pretty much took the words right out of my mouth in his blog post of fourteen things that were amazing about NCYC. It was quite clear and obvious that the teens there were excited about being Catholic.

However, of course, there were kids there that had a bit of a lackluster attitude. During the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament there were kids there that didn't kneel, that were sleeping, or simply sitting there with a comatose "ZzzZzzzzzzZZZZ" look on their face. Hello people! That's JESUS UP THERE!!! Do they realize this? Probably not. Do they realize that while participating in the Mass that Heaven and Earth are connected and we are in the presence of all the angels and saints and God Himself? Probably not. Do they realize the amazing graces they receive in the Sacraments? Probably not. They see the Church as boring.

The nature of being a teen has a lot to do with this lack of knowledge of the Catholic Church. However I have seen this attitude in adults as well. There are adults that leave the Catholic Church for a Protestant church or stop participating because they feel the Church "doesn't do anything for them." It's boring. Just a bunch of pomp. The music makes you want to snooze. Catholic weddings and funerals are too long and emotion-less. Too much external stuff (kneeling, genuflecting, candles, incense.) Not enough spiritual content.

I will admit there was a time I felt this too. I went into a big church with all those saint statues looking down on me and I felt like such a horrible sinner. I felt like the paintings of Popes were looking down on me saying, "You better get on your knees and pray little girl!" I felt an emptiness in the Catholic Church. I wanted Mass to get over with because I was bored beyond belief. I knew there were resources to learn more about the Church, but basically was too lazy to take the time to read them or I was worried I wouldn't understand what the heck the authors were talking about.

Finally during my spiritual growth spurt I started to learn about what the Church was really about. Yes, I read "A Dummy's Guide to the Catholic Church." I read "Why do Catholics Do That?" by Kevin Orlin Johnson. Finally it took a book written by a former Protestant preacher turned Catholic named Scott Hahn to make me really want to learn more about the faith that I had been a part of since I was a newborn. His book "Rome Sweet Home" details his journey of being a proud Protestant, almost a tad little bit anti-Catholic, to how the Bible and other Church writings led him to the Catholic Church. Yes, it was a former Protestant that made me proud to be a Catholic!

This may be a horrible analogy, so bear with me. I think of the Catholic Church like the ocean. Imagine you are in a boat in the middle of the ocean. Sure the waves and the ripples of the surface look interesting, but they don't really do anything for you emotionally. But you have to dive into the ocean to see the real beauty. You have to really learn about the Church to see her true beauty. There are whole mountain ranges down blow the water's surface. There are volcanoes, canyons and ravines. There's amazing plant-life that you will never see on dry land. There are thousands of unique and beautiful animal species that find their home in the sea. There are even species that we don't even know about. The saints, the papacy, the Church teachings, the history- these are gems and treasures of the Church, but instead of looking at them you need to learn about them! Sure gazing down from the boat you can see a little bit, but you have to have faith and take the plunge (sorry I couldn't resist) to see all the awesomeness the Church has. You have to have faith that the Holy Spirit will guide you in your learning. Don't judge the Church by it's cover.

I pray those who have left the Catholic Church know exactly what it is they left. There are those who have done their research and have left, and I respect those who honestly feel that the Holy Spirit is calling them somewhere else. I will never judge those who leave the Church, but I will admit I always get a little sad. But everyone has their own reason, and that's between the Lord and them.

Unfortunately there are those Catholics out there that are a little less than charitable when it comes to dialoguing with our Protestant brothers and sisters and even fellow Catholics. I like to call them "Catholic Puritans" who have no sense of humor and who tell everyone different from they them are going to hell. These are the Catholics who think Christopher West is the devil and give the stink eye if they see someone not going to communion or to a parent who brings in young children. Yes, I am proud to be Catholic, I uphold the Truth, but I like to have fun and be joyous about it. Yes, I like Christian rock. Yes, I like Gregorian Chant. No, I don't think the priest should say "Our Creator" Instead of "Our Father". No, I don't believe children should be left at home or have a Sunday School class during Mass. I think it is about moderation.

The Church can seem boring. That is why I am thankful for programs such as NCYC that ignite the flame. Maybe someone was snoozing during Mass, but hopefully during this past weekend a seed was planted. I'm thankful the Holy Spirit gave me a nudge to learn more about my faith!

Friday, November 20, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday Vol. 1


This is my first volume of 7 Quick Takes Friday. I'm not sure of the exact format, but judging by others' Quick Takes, it's seven short random tidbits. Am I correct? Or will these next six be complete butchering of 7 Quick Takes? :-)


I just got back from my shift as a "Night Angel" at NCYC. I have got to hand it to these youth group leaders, chaperons, and volunteers. A lot of hard work goes into this conference. They have put in countless hours and many sleepless nights to make this an enjoyable event for the youth. I felt like a weenie for being worn out for just working two and half hours! God bless you guys in your work to bring teens closer to Christ! I sure wish I would have went to events like this...maybe I wouldn't have had my "dark years."


While patrolling the halls at the hotel I noticed that all hotels smell the same. Well except the real cheapy roach-motels. They have a completely different smell all together!


I love being in the same room as my husband and brother-in-law. We always laugh so hard and have a great time. I miss the days when we all lived in Atchison and we'd watch "The Office", browse hilarious YouTube videos and grab a bite to eat at Subway. My husband and BIL have such a great relationship. I hope our future sons have a bond like that.


I've mentioned before how I love reading the blogs of mothers, especially stay at home Christian moms. However, I've been blessed to make two new blogging friends- That Married Couple and Fumbling Toward Grace. Both of these women have been somewhat recently married (to two amazing guys it sounds like!) and have many of the same goals, dreams, beliefs and values as I do. They are such and inspiration!


I used to take piano lessons when I was in junior high. I quit when I was a freshman because I was just too busy chasing boys, talking hours on the phone to my best friend even though we had seen each other all day at school, and...well just being a teen! My mom said I'd regret it someday and....*cringe* she was right. I've been having an itch to play again. Maybe in the future I can take adult piano lessons!


I love my Burt's Bees chapstick. I am getting sleepy and writing seven quick takes were a lot harder than I thought it would be. So yes, in an attempt to write a 7th, I looked at the closest thing next to me and that chapstick was it. So it got me thinking- I always have my Burt's with me. There's an extra in my purse, one on my bedside table and I always have one in my pocket or if no pocket is available- right next to me on a table. Such yummy and soothing chapstick!

Well that's all for now. I could have elaborated a little more on some, but my eyelids are getting heavy and I've corrected about a gazillion typos.

Please pray for those attending NCYC!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wondering Wednesdays Vol. 1

Last Sunday my older brother called me up to ask if I wanted to volunteer as a "night angel" for this weekend's National Catholic Youth Conference held in Kansas City, MO- my neck of the woods(ish). Basically some other adults and I will patrol the halls all night to make sure the teens have their lights out and don't go gallavanting around after hours. Because of this I'm kind of preparing my body for a disruption in my sleep schedule by staying up later than normal. Since I cut caffeine out of my diet I should have expected that drinking three Dr. Peppers tonight would have me WIRED at 3:00 a.m. So I suppose since I'll blog now instead of later when I wake up (which will probably be late in the afternoon!)

I'm sure some other clever blogger has thought of these kinds of posts. However, I'd like to start my own "Wondering Wednesday" posts because so often when I daydream/pray/meditate all these pondering thoughts pop in my head. So I'd like to share my ponderings with you. Some weeks they will be deep and theological, other times they will be just plain silly everyday wonderings. I've already rambled on enough, so here I go.

I wonder what the disciples thought when they saw Jesus ascending into heaven. I wonder what it looked like. The accounts in scripture and in art depict Christ being raised bodily into heaven. You know when someone lets a helium balloon go and it floats slowly higher and higher and higher in the sky and it becomes smaller and smaller until the tiny dot of a balloon disappears? Was that what His ascension looked like to the disciples? What were they feeling? Amazement, I'm sure. They had seen their Lord defy the laws of nature, and here He did it again. I'm sure they felt sorrow as well. Jesus had been ripped away from them so violently and I'm sure when He appeared to them afterwards in His resurrected body they were so happy to have him "back." He was their teacher and leader. And with the ascension he was gone bodily again, so did they again feel sadness and fear that Jesus wasn't there to guide them? What were those nine days like before Pentecost when they felt their Lord with them again in the form of the third person of the Trinity? They must have had tremendous faith and courage to overcome their fears and sadness.

What did Jesus' laugh sound like? I know this sounds kind of silly. In the Bible we read of some of Christ's emotions (death of Lazarus, agony in the Garden) but the writing styles of the early Church weren't written like novels or biographies that go into great detail of what people are feeling emotionally. Even in most art Jesus is pictured in a very noble and serious manner. I bet Jesus had the most warm and gentle smile and a hearty laugh. I wonder if He ever joked around. I love the flashback scene in The Passion of the Christ where it shows Jesus joking around with His mother (respectfully of course!) It shows the human side of Jesus. He's not some strange spiritual entity that is foreign to us. He lived, breathed, ate, drank, suffered, slept, enjoyed wedding feasts, worked, taught- just like we do or will do in our lifetime. We can relate to Him. Yeah...I bet Jesus had a great laugh!

I was going to write three of these do-dads; but, alas, sleepiness has crept up on me. I know that maybe these aren't too enlightening or brilliant, and I'm sure some seasoned theologian could run circles around my "ponderings." But these are my wonderings for the week!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Tis the Season...?

Thomas Kinkade's "A Blessing of Christmas"

There are blog postings and facebook statuses expressing concerns and annoyances of Christmas being talked about so early. I will admit that I find it disturbing that the day after Halloween you can go to Wal-Mart and find skulls and vampire teeth on clearance right next to Christmas cards and nativity scenes. Yeah, now that's just plain weird. And I am a firm believer that you should not decorate for Christmas until after Thanksgiving.


I will also admit that when I look past the Halloween goodies and see all the Christmas stuff I melt into a pile holiday happiness!

I'm not the one who complains when Christmas carols start their jingle jangle over the radio. Like a little kid I go running (in a mature adult way of course) to the holiday section and oogle over the ornaments and stockings. I might grab a box of candy canes while grocery shopping.

But it's not just Christmas that I get so excited about. I'm not the one to skip over Thanksgiving and Advent- I think it boils down to that I just LOVE this whole time of year. I am anxious to write a "What I am Thankful For" blog posting and a theological reflection of Advent and Christmas. I want to write a list of my favorite Christmas memories. But I don't want to jump the gun with all this holiday happiness too quickly.

I get excited seeing all the Thanksgiving fixings all bunched together in the grocery store. I get excited for the first snow of the year. I'm jealous of those of you in my hometown and at Benedictine! (Just to let all you know who just rolled your eyes/laughed/scoffed/thought I was crazy for the previous statement I only like the first snow the year, snow at Christmas time, and any snow I don't have to drive in!) Even though most of the time I hate how it gets so dark early, I love the feeling of being safe and snug inside snuggling with my hubby.

I get so happy to see the buzz of excitement for this time of year. Families coming together, delicious food, and lots of laughter. There are people who are less fortunate who don't get to experience all these joys. However, and this may be my Pollyanna view of the world coming out in me, but I'd like to think that people step up and show their generosity towards those in difficult situations.

Maybe all this joy is due to all those "breaks" schools give out- fall break, Thanksgiving break, Christmas break. Any chance to relax after hard work and spending time with family is always great!

Maybe all this joy is due to seeing the excitement in kids' faces when they get to see Grandma and Grandpa and their cousins at Thanksgiving and the optimistic joy in writing letters to Santa and making Christmas present lists (because deep down they think there's a possibility of getting everything on the list!)

Perhaps most of all, I think all my joy regarding this time of year is reflecting on all of God's beauty and all the goodness He has provided for me.

So bring on the jars of gravy, boxes of stuffing, Christmas trees and twinkly lights.

I love it all!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Why St. Joseph is My Homeboy

One of the many things I enjoy about being Catholic is how we honor the saints. Such amazing and inspirational stories of holy men and women- priests, nuns, popes, lay people, married couples, even children, point to the glory and power of Jesus Christ. We have a patron saint for just about anything: St. Jude, saint of hopeless causes; St. Peregrine, saint of cancer patients, St. Anne, saint for mothers; St. Clare, patron saint of television. We even have St. Gertrude of Nivelles, saint of those who fear mice.

When I was a child, I remember really admiring and loving the Virgin Mary. For me she was like a very holy version of a Disney princess. (I know that sounds bad, but I mean it in a very endearing way!) I used to put blankets on my head like Our Lady's veil and my baby dolls were Jesus and I "played" Nativity scene.

I will always have a great devotion to Mary. However as I became a boy-crazed teenager, I grew a new-found devotion for Mary's husband, St. Joseph. I never really knew why I went to light candles below the St. Joseph statue rather than under Mary's statue. I didn't know why I felt drawn to his statue. He looked so simple and humble, yet strong. I couldn't quite put my finger on it.

Mom and I started going back to Mass regularly around the time I received the Sacrament of Confirmation. Around that time I started singing in the Christmas Choir at my small parish of about 50 families. There was one song called "Joseph's Song" that had a gorgeous melody and beautiful lyrics:

I felt alone, I felt betrayed.

How could Mary feel such joy when I felt so afraid?

Though I wanted to believe her when she said an angel came,

I feared that she would only bring me shame.

I wish that I could understand why this has come to be.

The life I built with rugged hands is just a broken dream.

The pain within my heart is more than any I have known.

How could I ever hold this child and love Him as my own?

And then last night the angel came.

While I dreamed he spoke to me and called me by my name.

He consoled my fear with comfort, and faith became renewed.

I knew that Mary's words to me were true.

Although I do not understand why this has come to be.

A father who has rugged hands will find the strength he needs

to build a place within his heart where tenderness is shown.

These rugged hands can hold God's child yet love Him as my own.

This song struck a cord with me. Here was Joseph, a good and holy man, and his betrothed (essentially his wife) was pregnant with a child who was not his. How heartbroken he must have been. He had a very difficult choice to make- send the woman he loved to death for breaking the Law, or divorce her quietly. Here was God's plan laid before him, but he felt betrayed and confused.

He could have sent Mary to her death, wiped his hands clean and moved on. He could have abandoned Mary to raise her child all by herself. He could have forgotten all about her.

But he didn't. He stayed by her side. He continued to love her. And by the grace of God he was able to follow God's will (even if it made NO sense- the Messiah the Israelite nation was yearning for coming into this world as a new born babe in a manger? Who'd a thunk it?) Joseph didn't abandon Mary in her time of need, and that's what made me realize why I admired St. Joseph so much.

I didn't meet my father until I was eleven years old. To make a very long story short (perhaps another post on another day) my father abandoned my mom when I was born. He was faced with a difficult situation. They weren't married, he already had a thirteen year old daughter, and to put it bluntly, he was selfish. He could have been brave and stuck around like St. Joseph, but he didn't. He left my mother in a time of great need.

At the time I realized why I liked St. Joseph, I was in high school. You know that time, when your boyfriend breaks up with you the world is going to end? And when you see him flirting with another girl by the pop machines you can feel your heart breaking into a jillion pieces and sinking to your stomach? I had a couple of serious relationships in high school- some great, some not so great. And of course I had a myriad of crushes that never panned out. At this time when I felt like all the "loves of my life" were leaving me I really looked to St. Joseph for comfort. I knew in my heart I would find a good man someday.

It was St. Joseph's model of manhood that made me really look up to my brother and uncles who were huge father figures in my life. His example made me really appreciate the good men in my life.

But the story doesn't stop there!

While I was in my "dark years" trying to figure out where to go to college, my mom prayed a St. Joseph novena. Of course it didn't "work" then since I decided to to go Northwest instead of Benedictine. But when I moved to Atchison and expressed a desire to apply to Benedictine she prayed another St. Joseph novena and a week or so later I was a BC student! (A lesson that prayers work, just not always in our time.)

When my husband and I were in our best friend phase we went to Sonic after class. While we were waiting for our food he asked me to hold on to his wallet. ( I snatched it to be nosey!) I opened it up and right there tucked inside the plastic covering his driver's licence was a St. Joseph medal. "Cool! You like St. Joseph?" I asked. "Oh yeah, my whole family has a great devotion to St. Joseph. My grandma always told my mom to pray to St. Joe to find a good husband." Little did I know that St. Joseph had already led me to my future husband- right there beside me in that car eating tater tots!

There are MANY reasons I love St. Joseph. Here is a YouTube video that I encourage you to look at. It's kind of long, but very interesting. Plus this video features Fr. James Martin S.J., the chaplain to the show Colbert Report.

St. Joseph pray for us!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Spiritual Epilogue of My Miscarriage

In my last post I mentioned that I was going through a spiritual dry spell. I won't go into detail, but it got pretty bad. There's nothing worse than feeling depressed, hopeless and in despair of the future (finances, having children, careers) and feeling you can't reach out to God. Talk about feeling completely alone and utterly terrified.

Thankfully, by the grace of God (and I'm sure many prayers) I'm feeling a lot better. I decided to turn to Mary, the Mother of God, for her help. Then the other day I woke up and felt in my heart that everything was going to be OK. My husband and I had a sincere heart to heart and have laid the foundation for our plans for the future. We're not expecting things to get better right away; life may possibly get worse before it gets better, but we feel a great sense of peace.

So that brings me to be able to write more about my miscarriage and how my faith helped me through it.

Just a couple days ago my neighbor had her baby. I looked out the window when they were leaving for the hospital. Jane was standing by the car; her fiance, Shawn, was running back to the apartment and running back with a towel for her to sit on. I guess I should also explain that I live in a four-plex: Jane and Shawn live across from us, Jane's mom and sister live below them, and Jane's grandparents live below Ryan and I. So their whole family was all a buzz with excitement. Grandpa was yelling at Grandma to get in the minivan but she was busy calling relatives. Shawn was a nervous wreck, and Jane's mom was running around with her cell phone to her ear and trying get coats and pillows stuffed in the car. The funny thing was that it appeared that the most calm person in the group was Jane.

I looked on with a feeling of excitement. Jane became pregnant right around the time that Ryan moved into the apartment, so we have been a part of their journey of pregnancy from beginning. There had been some minor complications in her pregnancy so it was good to see that she had made it to term. As they all drove away in separate vehicles down the driveway I became a little sad. Their lives were about to change forever with the arrival of their new daughter. Not too long ago I had visions of what my own baby's delivery would be like.

We found out a couple hours later that there were complications and the baby had to be shipped off to a bigger hospital. Jane didn't even get to hold her baby and had to stay in the hospital due to a lingering fever.

A couple days later the new happy family came home to be together for the first time. We went over to see Jane, Shawn and the new baby. We decided to take our camera and take pictures to document their first day home. The next day we took in our camera card to Wal-Mart to print off the pictures we had taken.

There was a snapshot of all three of them and there was no doubt you could see the joy in their eyes. But then there was one picture of Jane holding her daughter, looking down on her smiling. That was the perfect picture showing what a mother's love and joy looks like. I got tears in my eyes. A couple months ago I would have printed off the picture hastily and been very upset that my chances of looking down on my own son or daughter had been ripped away from me. But instead of those feelings, I felt happiness. Happiness for Jane and her family, but also happiness in knowing that someday I will be a mother as well.

There have been many times in my life where I've run from God when I have had to experience a hardship. Thankfully my pride and stubbornness didn't keep me from begging for God's help during my miscarriage. I clung to Him, ran to Him, begged Him for help.

I knew going to Mass was going to be hard. I was still in pain and was worried that a medical emergency would suddenly occur and I'd faint during Mass. I also knew there were going to be a lot of happy families there. Women rubbing their pregnant bellies, mothers trying to wrangle a wiggly toddler and young children finding a snuggly pillow to rest their heads on their fathers' shoulders.
Despite all these obstacles, I needed to go to Mass. I needed the Word of God for strength. I needed the liturgy and to know that since Mass is literally supposed to be Heaven on Earth that all the angels and saints and my loved ones in heaven were there to comfort me.

Most of all I needed Christ in the Eucharist. My womb was empty and I needed my whole body and soul filled with the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus. Going to Mass brought me great joy and peace.

During all the physical pain I experienced I tried to remember all the pain Jesus suffered on the cross. His suffering, his tears, his pain- it was all for the greater good. I knew that in my own suffering something good could come out of it. I united my suffering with Christ's.

During all my emotional pain I remembered the Scripture reading when Mary and Joseph presented their newborn son Jesus in the Temple. Simeon had a prophesy regarding the future of Christ and in that prophesy he told Mary "...a sword will pierce through your own soul also" (Luke 2:35) When I got the news of my miscarriage I felt like sword had pierced my own soul. Now, I know I shouldn't compare my suffering with Mary's. Her's was much more substantial. However, I chose to imitate her example in following and accepting God's will. No matter how painful or unfair it seemed, I knew that God's plan was the best for us. Of course it didn't make sense, and it never will until (hopefully) the day I get to Heaven. God is all knowing and ALL GOOD so I knew He would take care of us. I could rest assured that Gus was safe and sound in the arms of God.

After the miscarriage was done my emotions were strange. When the doctor first told me the news of course I was devastated, but most of my attention was focuses on "OK, when is this going to start?" When it finally did start my attention was focused on "OK, when is this ordeal going to finally end?" When the miscarriage had completed itself I felt kind of lost- what was I supposed to do next? That's where my faith came in again. I devoted myself to prayer and asked God to guide me in what to do next.

In the following weeks I came across a girl on facebook who had also suffered a miscarriage. I had never met her and really had no idea what made me add her to my facebook months ago. My heart ached for her so I sent her a private message. In my hopes of offering comfort she in turn gave me strength. She explained that her pregnancy as well as mine were "huge successes." I had never thought of it in that way. In all my sorrow I forgot to be grateful that I was able to get pregnant. Just the act of conceiving can be a huge obstacle to some couples. And of course one of the main goals of being a parent is to get your children to heaven. Well, our Gus was of course in heaven which means we have our own little saint in eternal happiness praying for us. What a great success! This tragedy has brought me closer to a sister in Christ, and even if we've never met, I feel that is also a great success.

If I didn't have my Catholic faith to hold on to, I don't know what this experience would have been like. I really don't want to know. We have to remember that children are not a right, they are a gift. God has given me so many gifts- my family, my friends, my husband and my little Gus. And I know someday I will get to experience a mother's joy and happiness when I smile down at my own child.

A Miscarriage Prayer:

My Lord, the baby is dead!

Why, my Lord—dare I ask why? It will not hear the whisper of the wind or see the beauty of its parents’ face—it will not see the beauty of Your creation or the flame of a sunrise. Why, my Lord?

“Why, My child—do you ask ‘why’? Well, I will tell you why.

You see, the child lives. Instead of the wind he hears the sound of angels singing before My throne. Instead of the beauty that passes he sees everlasting Beauty—he sees My face. He was created and lived a short time so the image of his parents imprinted on his face may stand before Me as their personal intercessor. He knows secrets of heaven unknown to men on earth. He laughs with a special joy that only the innocent possess. My ways are not the ways of man. I create for My Kingdom and each creature fills a place in that Kingdom that could not be filled by another. He was created for My joy and his parents’ merits. He has never seen pain or sin. He has never felt hunger or pain. I breathed a soul into a seed, made it grow and called it forth.”

I am humbled before you, my Lord, for questioning Your wisdom, goodness, and love. I speak as a fool—forgive me. I acknowledge Your sovereign rights over life and death. I thank You for the life that began for so short a time to enjoy so long an Eternity.

-Mother M. Angelica

Friday, November 6, 2009

My Childhood Writing Career

Gosh, there's a lot of stuff I could write about today. I have so many thoughts just buzzing about in my brain, but really no motivation to write them down. I've been meaning to write a sort of "spiritual epilogue" to my miscarriage story, but I just can't find the words. Lately I've been spiritually sluggish. I am beyond stressed after learning that I didn't get the job I interviewed for a couple weeks ago. I guess you could say I've hit a spiritual dry spell. I'm just finding it hard to believe that everything will be alright. I've just been feeling blah.

On a lighter note, I dug around my massive memory chest today. I think I have every birthday/Christmas/Valentine/congratulations card that has ever been given to me in there. There are love letters, notes that were passed between my best friend and I from high school, and trinkets that I don't remember where they came from tucked safely away. My pom-poms from my cheer leading days are stuffed in there in addition to a hot pink inflatable guitar I won in a dance contest at my junior prom (deflated of course!)

I finally found what I was looking for- my beloved Purple Folder. In this folder there are many stories I wrote when I was little. There's a story of a witch-woman who becomes a good person and fell in love with a prince only for her evil witch grandmother to cause problems. I wrote a ghost story involving a boy who was lost at sea in the 1700's who haunted an old light house. I typed out a story of a snotty rich girl (the typing on the typewriter made me feel very grown up.) There's a romance story of a teenage girl who falls in love with the new neighbor boy. I mentioned before that I even wrote a comic book series called Magnificent Magg-o (sadly she was retired after #3- The Fight Against the Arch-villian Papercut.)

Many of these stories were never finished (I have unfortunately inherited the McAdams' Procrastination Gene.) I often wonder what my eight-year-old brain envisioned as an ending for the witch story or the ghostly tale. A lot of the stories make me laugh. Not only were there atrocious grammar and spelling errors, but the way I wrote I thought I knew it all (especially regarding teenage love- HA!)

I still am interested in pursuing writing on a bigger level. I worked up the nerve to email one of my favorite bloggers who happens to be an amazing Catholic woman, devoted mother and talented freelance writer for advice. I've been looking into taking some writing classes to help me become a better writer. I know my goal of writing will take an extreme amount of patience.

But all that has happened in the last few months has taught me that patience is indeed a virtue. I know things will get better.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A Scripture Reflection

I should keep my laptop right next to my bed, because it seems that I get my greatest blog ideas when I'm getting ready to go to sleep.

Each night I try to read a chapter of the Bible. I'm reading the book of Mark in the Navarre Bible series. I love this series because it has commentary mostly consisting of Church Fathers, popes, and other saints. It really helps me to understand Scripture in a way that is more consistent with how the writers of the Gospels wanted their writings to be understood.

Last night I read Chapter 10 of St. Mark's Gospel. In this chapter is a story we've all heard in other Gospel readings and has been explained in sermons and other devotional material. It's the story of the rich young man. Here is the passage:

And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and
knelt before him, and asked him,
"Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.
You know the commandments: 'Do not kill, Do not commit adultery,
Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud,
Honour your father and mother.'"
And he said to him, "Teacher, all these I have observed from my youth."
And Jesus looking upon him loved him and said to him,
"You lack one thing; go, sell what you have, and give to the poor,
and you will have treasure in heaven;
and come, follow me.
At that saying his countenance fell, and he went away sorrowful;
for he had great possessions.
-Mark 10: 17-22

Like I've said, I've heard this scripture reading before and heard many Homilies about it. However last night my mind started to wander and reflect on this passage. This may sound corny but I felt a strong pull to put my thoughts into words. But I could barely keep my eyes open and sleep won over my itching to write. I prayed to God to please help me remember what I wanted to write about. I'm sure I'll forget some things, but I'll try my best to clearly explain my thoughts.

My first thought is how Jesus mentions keeping the commandments. The rich man informs Jesus that he does keep the commandments. One thing that caught my attention is that after the rich man said that Scripture reads, "Jesus looked upon him and loved him." I think this shows us that the commandments from the Old Testament were not wiped out by Jesus. Christ says in Matthew 5:17: "Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them, but to fulfil them." I have a small pillow that has an embroidered message: "The Ten Commandments Are Not Multiple Choice". God, who is not a fickle human being, but who is all powerful and all knowing, did not create the Ten Commandments and other commandments found in the Old Testament only say later, "Eh, these rules don't matter anymore. Just forget them."

We still have to follow the commandments of the Old Testament. Keeping holy the Sabbath is still a rule (and "keeping holy" doesn't mean sleep in and laze around.) It is easy for us to just sigh and complain, "Why did God make all these rules?! Why do we have to go to Church on Sundays?" God didn't make these rules to make us little puppets in his play- they are for our benefit.

Jesus did build on the commandments by adding the Great Commandment. You can find it in Matthew 22: And he said to them, "you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind." I don't feel that it is enough to just say "I love God." and leave it at that. We have to show how we love God with our actions. For example, we say "I love my parents." But is just saying we love them enough? Don't we show our love by going to visit them, talk with them frequently, care for them, give thanks to them for giving us life? Well what about God, our Father? Shouldn't we visit him ? (during Church or Adoration) Shouldn't we talk to him through prayer? Shouldn't we be giving him thanks for our lives and for all the goodness He has given us?

I am guilty of keeping my faith bottled inside. However we don't have to stand on street corners handing out brochures on how to be saved to show our faith. But I believe that showing our faith means more than just being a good person.

The main lesson we hear from this Bible passage is that material things can get in the way of getting to heaven. Money and great possessions can become a "god" that we worship instead of God. We see money as a god in the news- all these greedy Wall Street executives, Bernie Madoff, scam artists, burglars. I feel grateful that I am not surrounded by people like that. Most of my loved ones know that money doesn't buy you happiness. And it's important to note that Jesus does not condemn wealth as long as it was earned in a moral way and it doesn't get in the way of proper devotion to God.

I don't know any high powered executives who struggle to find God because of all their material baggage is in their way. However, I think it's safe to say for all of us that we have "spiritual baggage" that gets in the way of finding God. The ways our families and schools raised us, resentment for God for taking away a loved one, and even steadfast political or economic ideals can get in the way of seeking God. Our overly-secular culture is definitely an obstacle for getting closer to God. But I think perhaps most of all our own stubbornness and pride gets in the way of getting closer to God.

We take our own opinions and warp them into truth. We think we are masters of our own universe. We put God on the back burner when it comes to living our daily lives. We often forget that it is God who gave us our being, our life. He gave us this world, our family and friends.

Without Him, we are nothing.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Job Woes

It's Monday. The day all those employed people dread.

I don't really mind Mondays, since everyday of the week seems the same to me. I lounge in my PJ's, read blogs, watch CNN, look for jobs in the classifieds and wait for phone calls from those employers that I've interviewed with. Sounds kind of nice, but believe me- I am going stir-crazy. I'm almost becoming depressed because I'm not out there actually DOING something productive. My gargantuan student loan grace period ends in a couple weeks and I'm definitely panicking.

It's Monday, and today I received some pretty bad news.

A couple weeks ago I interviewed for a development position for the Catholic Radio Network. I got a new interview outfit (that made me look like a grown up- a strange concept for me!), dyed my hair and even painted my nails. I was one of five people being interviewed so I did my best to impress. The interview went very well and I've been in agony these couple of weeks waiting for a call.

I got an email this morning informing me the position had been filled. I really wish I could be one of those bright and sun-shiny people who don't let anything get them down and vow that something better will come up and get to work finding another job. I am NOT one of those people. These past few months have been so hard and I was just hoping for a glimmer of a good change.

I've been drowning my sorrows in Diet Root Beer and left-over Halloween candy. I'm also busy baking oatmeal raisin cookies. I suspect five pounds will find their way to my waist this week (but at least I'm drinking diet, right?)

Everyone is telling me that something better will come along. I know God has a plan for me and it will be awesome. I just wish He'd shoot a flaming arrow from heaven with a scroll attached telling me what to do next. I wish I didn't feel so crummy.

I read other women's blogs, and their woes consist of getting a chocolate shake stain out of the carpet or a teething child. Those are the kind of woes I want to write about, not my long lasting unemployment.

I've thought up a lot of "hare-brained" schemes before. When I quit college the first time I had the idea of working at a factory to save up money to move to L.A. or New York to become an actress. (I failed to mention that in the post because, well...I'm a tad embarrassed!) My mom even dragged me to an audition for the Broadway musical The Lion King. I croaked out Danny Boy backstage of the enormous Starlight theater in Kansas City. The director thanked me for coming with a little smirk on his face and I bolted out of there.

While I was working housekeeping and maintenance at the hospital, and I was trying to decide if I should go back to college I thought the perfect way for me to think clearly was to backpack across Europe. I have the long and excited journal entry to prove it.

I don't dream big like that anymore. And since I've received this news that I didn't get the job I'm trying to think of what my next step should be. I have goals, and you all know how I like lists, so I'll list some of them.
  • Of course one of my main goals in to be a mother. I want a whole bunch of 'em and would love to stay at home and take care of them and my husband.
  • I want to write more. I have a purple folder stuff with half-finished stories that I wrote as a child. There's a tornado story, a story of a girl lost at sea, and even four comic books featuring my own "Magnificent Magg-o". Since starting this blog I've come to realize my love for writing wasn't just a childhood phase.
  • Since I've been writing more I've thought about going back to school to get a degree in journalism or writing. That may be another "dream big" dream.
  • I've often thought about going back to school to get my masters in Theology. But there are no grad schools for Theology around here and we'd like to stay close to this area. Besides, thinking about the stresses of writing twenty page papers on iconoclasm scares me a little!
  • I'd love to be a Catholic speaker. Public speaking does not scare me.
  • I've thought about how awesome it would be to write a book. (There I go again with the writing!) I think it would be fun to co-author a book with my big brother who writes Roman Catholic Cop.
  • Most of all, I want to make a difference. I want to bring people closer to Christ. I want to save souls. I want to get to Heaven to experience eternal happiness with all of my loved ones.

Time to go, my raisins, eggs and vanilla have been standing for an hour and it's time for the baking to begin!

P.S. Thank you to all who offered their prayers during my interview and while waiting to hear back from them. God bless you!


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