Labor Pains

This past Sunday’s second reading really resonated with me, since I can recall with clarity the labor pains I went through 3 weeks ago.

St. Paul writes in Romans: “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us. . . We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now. . .
we also groan within ourselves as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.”

On June 26th I woke up with contractions. Since my other two kids needed pitocin to induce contractions, I was not sure how to handle these on my own. The weren’t close together, but they were strong and so I headed to the hospital. When I was 6cm dilated later that day, my water broke during a strong contraction and I was ready for an epidural. You guys, even with a good working epidural, pushing was really hard.

My husband swears I only pushed for maybe 20 minutes, but it felt like an eternity. There was lots of groaning and “I can’t do this anymore” talk. But my body isn’t made to be pregnant forever, and I’m told after Luke’s head came out, next popped out his hand and he did a little wave like he was saying, “hello world. I’m here.”

There was groaning as I waited for my son to be born because I knew that there was something better coming than just my labor pains. I had to get through the suffering to be able to hold my new baby boy.

Just like we aren’t pregnant forever, so we aren’t on this earth forever. The redemption of our bodies, our birth into new life, is what we were made more. What felt like an eternity of pushing was really only 20 minutes. Our suffering on this earth can not last forever. We were made for more, and the suffering will be transformed into glory before we know it.

What sticks out to me during that time of pushing was all the encouragement from my husband, the nurse, and the doctor. “You are doing great!” “You’re almost there!” “You can do it!” That helped me make it through. We can call on the intercession of family, friends, and especially the saints to help get us through our current sufferings. The saints have all been there before us and they are cheering us on to the finish line, the end of labor pains, the crown of glory in eternal life.

"Hello, world!"

“Hello, world!”

Finding My Own Way of Being Pro-Life

I was never one of those people to go pray in front of an abortion clinic. Sometimes I felt like a bad Catholic, since the thing to do at Franciscan University of Steubenville was to do just that, but I just never felt like that was my thing.

Instead, I was involved in youth ministry.  I felt that if we could teach the message of real love and chastity and the beauty of life and marriage to teens, then we would have less abortions to worry about anyway. In youth ministry, girls ministry and chastity were the topics I was most passionate about. In it, I saw my part in spreading the culture of life.

Then I got married, had kids, and left youth ministry. I’m not about to bring my 2 ½ and 1 year old to pray a rosary in front of an abortion clinic (if you do, you rock but I’m not going there). I can’t donate my stuff to a crisis pregnancy center because, well, I’m still using all of it.  But I have been encouraging other women to embrace their vocation to life as mothers, and most recently this week I realized my part in the pro-life movement is being a witness to life by simply being a mom.

What do I mean? I mean, instead of being all frazzled and running around yelling at my kids all day, I can ask the Holy Spirit to bring peace into the chaos. I have two kids ages 2 and 1, and I am clearly pregnant again. In public, this brings on a lot of uncomfortable stares from strangers. But instead of being embarrassed, I want to be a witness for life and show the joy of life with children to strangers, instead of the stress.

This morning I took the kids to the indoor playplace at our mall to run off a little energy.  Instead of sitting there on my phone while they ran around or being stressed about trying to keep an eye on both at the same time, I asked for peace and just went with it. As I played with them, I saw strangers smile at us instead of give the usual uncomfortable stares. I felt the peace of being in the moment with my children,

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Mind you, this is just day one of intentionally asking for peace in my mothering and I definitely can’t stay that I’m a peaceful, stress-free mom all the time (or ever, usually). But I know God can give me the grace if I keep asking! We had a speaker at our moms’ group last week who is pregnant with their 9th child and their 8th boy.  She gave all of us younger mothers so much encouragement as we watched her speak with peace and joy about ways to raise your kids in the faith.  I want to be like her. I want less stress and more peace and in doing so I can be a powerful witness to the culture of life.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the story of Martha and Mary. In Luke 10:40 it says that Martha was “burdened with much serving.” Sounds like the story of every mom’s life. Jesus says to her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things.” Like, feeding my family and paying bills and stopping fights and doing laundry and changing diapers and cleaning up. But Jesus goes on to say,  “There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part.”  Mary, who was sitting at the feet of Jesus and listening to him speak.  “Mary” can be you and I, as moms, sitting at the feet of our children and basking in their glorious, messy, and chaotic joy. It is witnessing to the presence of God in each little child that deserves a chance to live.