6 Things I’ve learned in the past 48 hours

Who let me be a parent!? I literally have been thinking this multiple times a day lately. I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing. I just pray for the grace to keep my kids alive and hopefully they won’t need therapy when they are older.
Here are 6 things I have learned in the last 48 hours:

1. I am 90% more productive if I get dressed first thing in the morning. Not after breakfast, but right away.

2. Insurance sucks. But it pays to make phone calls. I have saved a few hundred dollars this week and it feels good.

3. Lily loves her jumparoo. She will literally jump for an hour straight. I can get stuff done, and it also wears her out so she will go to bed earlier than 10pm. (see below)

4. Whenever Timothy is quiet, he is stuffing his face with food he shouldn’t be – like chocolate or graham crackers or my coffee.

5. Do not wear white shorts to the park. Or to the pool. Probably never while you have young children.

6. I feel much better about myself and the world when I am clean. I need to shower often.
Yesterday was our 3 year anniversary. Nate worked for 10 hours then we picked up my car from the shop, had leftovers for dinner and were in bed by 9pm.  Good thing we went out last Saturday. Things change in 3 years!

Here is Lily.

Here is Lily.

Here is Lily jumping.
Here is Lily jumping.

Here is Lily passed out from jumping.

Here is Lily passed out from jumping.

I can’t believe she fell asleep like that. Anyway, I moved her to her crib and had time to write this post!

NFP…and the language of love

I’ve had people tell me: You’ve got your boy and your girl. A perfect family!

And it bothers me. Believe me, after 2 kids in 2½ years of marriage, my husband and I would like to take a break from having babies. But who knows how we will feel a little down the road. I think about my husband: he is the 6th of 8 kids. If his parents had stopped having children after two, or three, or even five, then he would have never existed for me to marry!

And that’s what I love about Natural Family Planning.  As a couple, my husband and I need to always be evaluating what God is asking of us as parents. A future child will be someone’s future spouse some day, or maybe even the Pope, so God needs to be a part of our decisions for our family.  Therefore, in honor of National NFP Awareness Week, I’d like to offer these thoughts.

NFP (Natural Family Planning) is:
-100% scientifically proven, and 99% effective. You can accurately know when you are ovulating to achieve or postpone pregnancy.
-Encourages respect for your whole person, including your fertility, in the marital act.
-Fosters communication between spouses
-Is 100% natural, no artificial hormones or bad side effects (like every other contraceptive device out there). If you buy organic, then you need to be using NFP.

Practicing NFP isn’t always easy. But it’s the right thing to do. And most things that are right aren’t very easy. My dad said something to Nathan and I about NFP when we were engaged that I think everyone should know. He said that Natural Family Planning allows you to become fluent in the language of love (and who doesn’t want that?).  When you are abstaining to postpone pregnancy, it’s necessary to find other ways than having sex to express your love, like when you were engaged. Then when you can be intimate again, it’s like your honeymoon all over. In this way, your love is always fresh, new and exciting. After all, studies show that Catholics do have the best sex.

My last reflection is in honor of the 45th anniversary of Humanae Vitae (July 25th). In the encyclical, Pope Paul VI predicted that if we became a culture that used contraception, (birth control, condoms, IUDs and whatever else they’ve come up with),the following 3 things would happen:

1. An increase in marital infidelity and the general lowering of standards (TV, movies, pornography)

2. Men will “forget the reverence due a woman” and will reduce her to a “mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires” (HV 17) ie, Rape, prostitution, human trafficking, domestic abuse, etc.

3. Government imposition of whatever contraception they deem useful:
“Finally, careful consideration should be given to the danger of this power passing into the hands of those public authorities who care little for the precepts of the moral law. Who will blame a government which in its attempt to resolve the problems affecting an entire country resorts to the same measures as are regarded as lawful by married people in the solution of a particular family difficulty? Who will prevent public authorities from favoring those contraceptive methods which they consider more effective? Should they regard this as necessary, they may even impose their use on everyone.” (HV 17)  HHS mandate anyone?

You tell me if his predictions haven’t come true in the last 45 years.  Click here  for more information on Natural Family Planning. Or click here.  Happy NFP week!

Facebook…and jealousy

Facebook can be a dangerous thing for a mom.  And not just because it can be a time-sucking vortex, but because of the appearances and judgments that you can make from it. To be fair, I do love how social media has kept me connected to the news, to the outside world, and to lots of other moms. It can share the truth that mainstream media wont. It has even been endorsed by the Pope as a means of evangelization.

But like any online world, it can warp our reality. On Facebook you can be the awesome mom who always cooks gourmet meals and gets their kids to bed on time.  And when I see posts like that I can spend my days feeling like every other mom is better than me. When I see mothers share things about how well they are eating and exercising or how much they got done today or all the fun things they did with their kids, I can easily get down on myself about feeling like I’m a bad mom for not getting dressed before 2pm or binging on chocolate-covered cranberries or letting my kids watch too much TV.

I’ve been feeling guilty lately because I feel like I’m not living up to some standard set forth by Facebook posts of what kind of a mom I should be.  I realized I felt like Peter when he was sinking in the water because he took his eyes off of Christ. Facebook posts are not a real portrayal of motherhood; it’s only showing the part we want other people to see. And Christ is not asking me to be the same mom that Sally over here is. He is asking me to follow Him and He will show me my path to holiness and perfection. I need to stop comparing myself to other moms and look to Jesus, and to Mary as my model mother.

Sure, I could post that I ate a salad for lunch and went on the elliptical and did 5 loads of laundry and Timothy rode his bike through puddles all afternoon and you might think I’m an awesome mom. But then I could post a picture of my messy basement and tell you that my son ate hot dogs three times last week and that the other night he stayed up until 11 watching TV and right now my daughter is in her crib screaming because I just can’t deal with her right now, and you might think I’m a horrible mom.  All of the above is true, but it just depends on what I decide to share. Altogether, it just means I’m a regular mom trying to do my best. Looks can be deceiving, the grass is always greener, and all that other cliché stuff.

I write this because I’m sure I’m not the only one suffering from Facebook jealousy of everyone else’s lives. And I bet if I posted a picture every day of something we did than you might be jealous of my family, too. But don’t be. We aren’t that awesome. Sure there are things we can learn from each other and I’ve gotten some great advice from other Facebook moms but the bottom line is: every mom is different. So be the mom that God is asking you to be for your children, and stop comparing yourself to everyone else!

Dear other moms, I like seeing pictures of your kids and reading the funny things they say. I am inspired by some of your activities.  But go live your life instead of thinking, “I should share this on Facebook.” You don’t have to prove to us that you’re an awesome mom.  If your kids and your spouse think so, then that’s what counts.  And besides, it’s making me jealous.

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But just in case you WERE curious, here’s what we’ve been up to:ImageImageImageImage

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Tom…and Scripture

Let me tell you about Tom. As an older, retired man, he was always at the church. For Religious Ed in the evenings, he was there, helping make photocopies. No matter was Sunday Mass you attended, he was there as an usher. One advent my mom and I went to check out the Filipino Misa de Gallo Mass at 4 in the morning, and even though he isn’t Filipino, there he was singing in the choir!

Years ago my parents started a prayer meeting on Friday nights at their church, and Tom started to attend. I had given a talk one night about how Jesus fulfills the scriptures, and afterward Tom wanted to share about his experience with Scripture. He told us there was about a month or more when every Sunday’s readings directly applied to what was going on in his life. After several straight weeks of this, the following Sunday’s gospel was about Peter walking on water. “Surely, Lord, this one can’t relate to me!” Tom thought.  But then, after Mass, he was helping lock up when someone came up to him and said the ladies’ bathroom was flooded and he needed to clean it up. He then realized that the walking on water Gospel did apply to him after all!

Last weekend Tom cracked one of his front teeth. His dentist was on vacation and he didn’t have money for an emergency clinic. He wasn’t going to come to the prayer meeting, but decided to anyway. They reflected on this past Sunday’s Gospel where Jesus was instructing his disciples, and during intercessions my mom prayed for a fix for Tom’s tooth so he could “eat what was set in front of him” (a reference to the Gospel).  The next day, at the Saturday anticipatory Mass, Tom came up to my parents and smiled a big smile with his tooth all fixed! Apparently a woman came to the prayer meeting for her first time the night before and she happened to be a dentist. So the next morning she took Tom in to her office to get his tooth fixed.

This inspired me to read the readings every day this week and pay attention to how they applied to my life. While I had no crazy experiences like Tom, I was struck by Thursday’s reading about Joseph. Sold into slavery by his brothers, went up the ranks in Egypt, and ultimately used by God to help save people from famine and much more.  The end of the reading said, “It was really for the sake of saving lives that God sent me here ahead of you.”

Hopefully your siblings never sold you into slavery, but things often happen that we don’t like or don’t understand. It could take years or until heaven to see God’s plan, but the fact of the matter is He has a plan. So Jesus I trust in you!  I hope we all can see God’s Word working in our lives like Tom!

Makeup Remover…and Chastity

Several years ago, I decided to try the Target brand of make-up remover over my usual fare since it was bigger and cheaper. The whole time I used it I was disappointed in how poorly it actually took off my makeup. Being cheap, when the bottle was used up I went out and bought the same kind again. Only this time I saw the directions on the label: shake well before using. My next thoughts went like this:

“Man! Why didn’t I see this before?”
“I’m glad I’ll be able to use this new bottle properly”
“This is kind of like chastity!”

My old youth minister Judy would be proud. She could relate anything to chastity. So here I was making the connection: stuff doesn’t work properly when you don’t follow the directions.  My mascara wouldn’t be removed if I didn’t shake the bottle. And so our bodies were made for love. But if we don’t follow God’s directions to practice chastity, we end up being used or using someone else. That’s because the definition of chastity is a virtue that frees all of our sexual thoughts, desires, and behaviors from self-seeking and orders them towards the truth of authentic love. My original thought at the time was to use the analogy in youth ministry, but I thought I’d revisit it for a look into married life.

As my last blog mentioned, authentic love is about willing the good of your beloved. It’s about sacrifice, self-giving, and openness to new life. Chastity is just as important IN marriage as it was before marriage.  The following summaries and quotes are taken from “The Good News about Sex and Marriage” by Christopher West.

Chastity in marriage means that sex is:

– an honest expression of the marriage commitment (free, total, faithful, fruitful) (pg.88)

-an unconditional surrender to each other in a completely naked and honest revelation, delving into the inexhaustible mystery of the other person (pg. 97)

Living the truth about sex is intensely joyous. There simply is nothing that compares to the satisfaction of living in accord with the image in which we’re made (Hence, the makeup remover analogy (pg. 99)

Chastity in marriage IS NOT:

-manipulating your spouse to have sex as a means for power, reward, or a need for gratification (pg. 90)

-seeking climax while being distant, or without being vulnerable, transparent and giving yourself as a total gift (pg. 90)

“If a husband and wife spontaneously follow their disordered passions, their love for each other will be overshadowed by self-seeking. They will inevitably end up using each other.” (Pg. 98)

“Is your desire for sex a desire to make a gift of yourself to your spouse and renew your marriage commitment? Or is it simply a desire to “relieve” yourself at their expense?”  (pg. 103)

“Fun is not the right word for marital union. Sublime ecstatic bliss is more like it… ‘In the joys of their love [God gives spouses] here on earth a foretaste of the wedding feast of the Lamb.’ CCC 1642” (Pg. 99-100)

To sum it up, marriage isn’t a license to do anything sexual that you want with your spouse. It’s an expression of God’s love, a union of persons that is a gift to one another.  Chastity is simply using your body’s instructions properly!

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