Monday, December 28, 2009

Keeping Up...

Well Christmas season is in full swing. **Catholics celebrate Christmas for more than one day** I made it through midnight mass and even hit the high notes in our choir's arrangement of "O Holy Night" at about 12:45 while everyone went up to communion. I made it out of bed for 10am mass to sing again and actually have some family members here me that time. Then I went home to get ready to host 19 members of my family for Christmas day. I've had a couple days to recover and went to a choir party last night and got asked the same questions again....where am I looking for a full time job?

The choir director works at a school that is just starting up so I would have a good chance at getting a job there. I actually told her I was not looking and was content to substitute at the moment. After I get questions like that I wonder what it would be like if I had a job, a certain keeping up with the Joneses mentality if you will. Our budget would be less strict and our lives would be busier - but I might feel like I was keeping up with the status quo around me. Then I realized that I learned in my psychology classes that as you move up the socio-economic scale you compare yourself to others that are on the next step and that basically goes on forever unless you are someone like Bill Gates. There's a fancy name that I'm not recalling for that phenonmenon but the point is made - I will never keep up...

After thinking about all that by myself I asked my husband if he thinks I should try for that job. He just doesn't want me to have regrets. Would I regret not ever working full-time or would I regret being super busy when I could be preparing to start a family?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Happy Holidays!

The rest of the year is going to be a busy one for me. I am working an afternoon half day in a middle school today and then working at Borders Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. I will also be going to choir practice, a work dinner with my husband, seeing family that is in town from Seattle and Scotland and hosting Christmas - whew! After Christmas I will have family in town from Florida, Massachusetts, Illinois and New York. All this means I don't have to travel to see EVERYONE, but I will definitely be busy.

So I wanted to take the time now to say Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! I doubt I will have any thought-provoking topics to write about since I will just be enjoying time with family and friends. I hope everyone gets a chance to do the same.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


This past weekend I went to yet another NFP meeting. We heard one of the established teachers present her research on the topic. She presented on the process of discerning your family size and I thought it was great, especially since it was something I needed to hear.

She used a St. Ignatius exercise to discern whether or not to try to postpone or achieve pregnancy - ultimately it is out of our hands. She didn't give a handout yet (we will receive them soon), but this is what I remember.

Step one: Don't do this while ovulating - not that we girls would ever bring up a subject like babies unless we were 100% objective ;-)
Step two: sit down and think about it logically, weigh pros and cons
Step three: simplify question into something that can be answered by a strong yes or no
Step four: quiet yourself and listen (this could take days/weeks)
Step five: check to make sure the answer is in line with Church teaching because God wouldn't go against that

I bring this up because
a) I had done something similar to this exercise the night before at adoration and got a strong response to wait and without that I might turn into the nagging wife who "knows" when to have kids and just needs to prove that to her husband.
b) Wouldn't this be a nice piece of information that priests could hand out when the topic of NFP comes up? It goes a little further than just saying the couple needs to seek God's direction and go with that. This way we don't get the extreme responses on either end as well as some concrete steps a couple can take.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Days of Entitlement

Originally, I had this blog mostly as a journal for myself. I didn't have to worry about coming off as prideful or arrogant or anything else because it was just me typing away so my thoughts don't stay jumbled up in my head. As I have said before, a hobby of mine is organizing. I like to have things in their proper place and I like to put things away. This blog started so I could put my thoughts away. So this is me putting my thoughts away on our culture of entitlement even though I am by no means an expert and I'm still working through how to change myself.

Most people would agree that we are living in an age of entitlement even if we argue about the cause. I will keep my opinions on the cause to myself so we can just focus on the topic: Entitlement

As Americans, most of us live with so much. We can have food when we want it (even if we do not feel like cooking) we can buy new clothes when we want, we can go on the computer and blog when we want - this list could go on for quite a long time. The point being, we are used to getting our way when we want something. Said like that it sounds selfish doesn't it?

Of course, this doesn't go for every situation. In high school, my Christian friends would somehow get on the topic of *ahem* intimacy all the time! They would talk about how they were doing good at the self-control thing right now, but when they got married all bets were off. A couple of my friends, in high school and college, talked about how they didn't want to go on a honeymoon at all, but instead wanted to take a month off of work so they could spend a lot of time in bed "getting to know" their spouse.

How does this relate to NFP you ask? In my friends commentary they saw intimacy as something forbidden until marriage and experienced on demand after the vows are said. If you look at it as something that is always available, sometimes the sacredness and specialness of the act is overlooked. It is not instant gratification like fast food, it is something that was created to bring a couple closer to God and each other. NFP has taught me how to look at the marital union in a less selfish and more sacramental way. On the other hand, society (and birth control) have taught us that it is good and should be done as often as possible. Unfortunately, it seems like this country is concerned about quantity over quality in so many activities and parts of our lives.

I don't know how my friends are doing now in that category. I wonder if they still have the opinion that since I'm married now I'm entitled to A. Although I agree in saving yourself until marriage, I think the teaching philosophy is flawed. Just because all of a sudden it is "good" once you say your vows, does not mean you are entitled to it at any particular time. And that seems to be the biggest issue with NFP - but we're married so we can do this when we want, not just when my body allows. No one is taught that this act of love is a total giving of yourself so NFP just doesn't make sense. Anyone know how to explain that without sounding arrogant like I'm sure I did in this post? Again, I write this more as a means of putting away my thoughts than anything else.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Two messages, one story

In college, I really started to like satire. I loved Voltaire and appreciated the way he boldly wrote about current Christian trends. I was so impressed that I even attempted to write and turn in satire as a final paper. That is the only D I have ever received on an important assignment but it was worth it (I still got an A in the class). To explain a little further, it was for a world religions class in which I was required to make up my own religion. Well, anyone that knows me well has probably heard the story, but I think it is worth saying again.

I basically wrote in the intro/abstract that I had a religion and did not wish to create a true religion (probably where I lost all my points) so I took parts from most of the religions we learned about and wrote more about how many people practice it. I pulled from Catholicism, Protestantism, Judaism, etc. but everyone worshiped the same thing - CHOCOLATE. Not that I like chocolate or anything ;-)

In society, I see a lot of people (including myself at times) so focused on their life and their goals that they in a sense become their own god. Not that we would do this consciously, but our actions say "I can do this by myself, I have a supernatural power to accomplish all goals" The definition of religion for this class was that which deals with the supernatural. I wrote write in my paper that since we had been inspired to make the chocolate that we worshiped, we were actually worshiping ourselves. I don't think my professor appreciated that viewpoint of religion, but I was trying to write what I saw without going against my conscious and actually creating my own religion.

Now, why have I thought about that paper again? Interesting question, and it might be hard to follow my reasoning. I'm not sure if anyone has seen the show "I didn't know I was pregnant" on TLC but I have a couple of times. I originally watched one because I didn't know how that could be possible. With NFP, I am taught so many signs and am in tune with my own body enough to know for certain I am pregnant (whether I experience some bleeding during my pregnancy or not) within a very short time span. I argue that the show is a satire for the pro-life v. pro-choice debate. Women didn't want to be pregnant and were using "protection" to keep that from happening. What happened was not expected since labor is usually confused with cramps, indigestion or appendicitis. Yet as soon as the women give birth, they are only concerned about the health of their baby. This show points to me that so many times we debate the intellectual that we forget the emotional and physical attachments between mother and baby. A time that is so beautiful and sacred, that once these women give birth they couldn't imagine being without child. Shouldn't that part of the story be talked about more?

My mind must have wandered a bit this week....when have you found inspiration in an unlikely place?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Openess to Life

One thing I have learned in my journey to promote life, is that everything is connected. One of the bloggers I follow recently wrote about how the million directions she was being led actually came down to one thing. I was reminded of the same thing today. I am amazed at how this journey for others (unborn and future children) has been a journey of healing and growth for me. Although I have a million things I have to do, I'm being led to do things that are not on my list. You would think I would not have enough time to finish everything, but I have. The realization that my life needs to be open to the love of others and of God has helped me leave my to do list and think about what God wants me to get done.

What started out as a bad, emotional day has turned into a loved-filled and productive day. Maybe my prayers at mass for the feast of the Immaculate Conception were heard - help me listen like Mary!

A Change in Plans

I had planned to publish a post today on the Entitlement of this country and how it is affecting family life in a negative way but it just didn't feel right to do that today - maybe I'll post it later this week. I can't talk about entitlement, or warn of its dangers, when I am struggling with the very same thing right now.

As I have said before, NFP has been a blessing and a cross for me to bear. I am aware of the cyclical changes in my body which helps ease my mind about some symptoms that would worry others. On the other hand, even with my treatment of healthy diet, exercise and progesterone cream (natural because synthetic can cause some bad side effects), I cannot get rid of two of my symptoms - fatigue and irritability. For those of you who know STM, my luteal phase is all over the place on some cycles. There is a definite temperature shift but it doesn't always stay up. It is also the phase I have the most fatigue and irritability. I know it is from my cycle, but that doesn't make it any easier for me or my husband to handle.

Off the pity train and on to the confession part. Even though God has blessed me with the knowledge of my body to the point where I am at peace with it and what God gives me each day, I tend to get a bit demanding. I fall into the bad habit of feeling entitled to help. Okay hubby, you don't feel like crap right now so I am entitled to your attention and support. You need to love and care for me! Even though I don't say it that bluntly, I know my attitude is selfish in desiring love and support without wanting to even try to think about how to show love in return. It's the Jenelle show and no one else is as important. I've gotten better about turning to God in my pain, but my emotional issues are another story. I never stay in the ultra-selfish mode for long, but it is long enough to cause damage to myself and my husband.

Needless to say, I'm frustrated that these symptoms aren't going away. At this point I'm not looking for medical advice but I would love some pointers if you know how to diffuse a tough emotional situation. Any tips on how to stay away from selfish emotional temptations? Like a quick prayer or saint to learn about who had similar temptation?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Precious Little Ones

As a substitute teacher, I am blessed with the opportunity to interact with tons of different people. The past two days I was in early intervention (birth - 3yrs). All these students had some impairment that qualified them for public school services at such a young age. We sang songs, played in an indoor jungle gym and completed a craft. Many students needed hand-over-hand help and some couldn't walk even though all of them were at least 18 months old.

They were adorable! Yes some cried - a lot. Yes some just didn't want to do anything, but I found them absolutely adorable. There was even a set of twins! I hope I get to sub there again. Every time I work in special ed I am just filled with joy. All the parents (especially of the younger students) are a true testimony for the sanctity of ALL human life. There are tests done to find abnormalities in the womb (I know a number of these mothers knew about issues before their children were born) and, when they are found, abortion is laid out as a option. Thank God all these mothers chose life. Their children are a lot more work (they don't reach milestones like crawling without the help of physical therapists) but they teach so many lessons to everyone. I truly appreciated my time with them.

Today I go off to my other job - holiday helper at a bookstore (it will be about 8 days total this year). Here's to hoping I won't spend my entire paycheck before I even leave the store!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


I've had a couple busy weeks with the holidays approaching so I thought I would re-post something I wrote back when I just started this blog and not many people were reading. The comic at the end says so much in such a small space!

This country has a fabulous document intended to safeguard the right of all people. Additionally, this country started its fight toward independence with a declaration that everyone has a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The problem comes when we try to figure out what is included.

In my eyes, the trend seems to be moving us toward relativism. Relativism is really hard to enforce and hard for me to support because it means that the rules of what is right are different for each person. Since it is so hard (maybe impossible) to regulate it moves closer to the idea that anything goes.

Yesterday, I kept hearing about education. I think that needs to include government documents like the Constitution and Declaration of Independence. How can you define freedom (liberty)? It is a very difficult question because there are some obvious limits to that freedom. Those limits are put in place to protect the safety of others and are not questioned because people think it is just common sense. Then the question arises - If it is illegal to harm yourself (suicide is a crime) why can you harm something that is living inside you? Abortion was legalized because it dealt with the privacy of the woman and her body, but somehow that privacy doesn't extend to harming her body, just the body inside her. Those two positions just don't seem to match.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Intentionally NFP

Well there has been a big to do in some places about how to use NFP in a morally licit manner. Many comments say go to your spiritual director, pastor or priest. Well I know that the Catholic Church teaches NFP is the only acceptable approach to spacing children, but not all priests adhere to that. I for one was shocked when I went to the priest who was presiding over our marriage ceremony said not all couples are "mature" enough for this method. He knew we were planning on learning NFP and he still wasn't encouraging it? How can I go to that person and ask to use the method correctly?

Needless to say, my husband and I were feeling a bit lost and confused in the beginning of our marriage (mostly me - he had more confidence in our discernment process). Were are reasons just? Who could help us out if not our NFP instructors or priest? And then you read some NFP dialogue and they say "being newlyweds" is not a good enough excuse...well I'm pretty sure I used that one for a couple months. In my defense, I had never shared a bed (at least as long as I can remember) and it took me a couple months to have a full night's sleep. Plus there are so many other adjustments that correlate with "being newlywed" so in my head that just summed up all the parts.

Moving on, I thought I would write a post on my take in this debate. First of all, I think any couple mature enough to get married is mature enough to use this method. Marriage is about communication and mutual self-giving. NFP enhances both. Secondly, I agree that "just reasons" need to be discerned by the couple and will be unique to their situation. With that being said, I can't judge if any particular couple is using the method correctly but I have found myself asking a few questions as a guide.

Is my reason selfish? I say this to remind myself that I should be making the decision based on what is best for my family and future children. If it is just because I want something or don't want something, then I am not thinking about family.

Am I truly open to life? NFP is all about being open to life in that you don't artificially avoid conception but there is a difference between physically being open to life and mentally being open to life. Would I be happy if I had a baby in 9 months? This question I ask without all the qualifiers of the next and most standard question...

Can I support a new life physically, financially, spiritually and emotionally? This is the only question where I find it appropriate at times to say no. Yes I am married and my husband and I would love to have kids, but right now is not the time for us based on all the needs this new life would have. We are working toward better meeting those needs so I know I am not being selfish and I would lovingly accept a child if God gave us that gift right now. However, lovingly accepting the Church's teaching on NFP does not mean we all have to race to see how many children we can have as soon as possible.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Spiritual Direction

First of all, this is a title of a great book by Henri Nouwen. That is also one of the first references I ever paid attention to about the topic. The book was "optional" reading for a class but I didn't see the optional part and bought it. Instead of returning the book, I decided to read it...

A couple years later I got a real life spiritual director. I have enjoyed the process of meeting with someone who is trained in spiritual direction and has a similar life story in many of the concerning areas I have brought up in conversations.

One tip she has given me: know thyself. It is important to know who I am and what I stand for. I've always had that philosophy but I haven't prayed about it much until now. It has been comforting to know NFP has helped me find the hormonal connection to my fatigue and mood. Throughout all the craziness of surgery and pain I am thankful that I know myself. I know how my body works and the pain and fatigue is not a mystery. So while it is hard for me to talk about how NFP can help diagnose/treat problems when mine seem to hang around, it truly is a blessing that I can understand what is happening. I don't have to blindly trust doctors which would be so much easier but much less informative.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Good News... without the lawsuit

This weekend I went to South Bend to visit a friend and her two month old baby girl. The new family was so precious and the two days went by so quickly! I learned a lot about parenting and will treasure that weekend, but that wasn't the good news I wanted to announce....

I started a new chart a while ago and it is the first one in a while where I did not ask my husband to write down "pain" in the disturbances box. No migraine and only mild cramps that went away with the medicine which I only took for 2 days and not the usual 3 or 4.

While the treatments (healthy diet and progesterone cream) have not worked overnight I seem to be getting generally better over time. Hopefully I will stay on track over the upcoming holidays... In any case, I know I am getting healthier and I'm doing so without the lawsuit of Yasmin, Yaz, etc. I saw the commercial advertising the class action suit a day or two ago and realized that I have been getting "shorter, lighter cycles" with the treatment I'm on...and hopefully continually less pain... without being on a pill that had side effects which brought on a law suit.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Blood Money Trailer

I was sent an email today about a new documentary coming out on Planned Parenthood. It looks interesting- check it out here

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Change of Heart

Six years ago I started working at a bookstore. I read My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult in about 2 days. I liked the way she was able to write about something controversial (designer babies) and make it relatable to an entertaining and though-provoking story. Every once in a while, when I'm ready to think and read about something else controversial, I will pick up one of her books.

The book I'm reading right now, Change of Heart, is about a death row prisoner that does not act like a typical death row prisoner. I won't go into the details of the story -it's worth reading - but I will say it has made me feel like I should actually say something about the death penalty.

When a certain friend of mine found out I was part of a pro-life group, the first question he asked was "What do you think about the death penalty?" My answer was that I don't support it, but I know many who consider themselves pro-life are on the opposite side of that situation. I can easily see how they can argue one life has done nothing wrong, and one chose to do something awful.

On the other hand, pro-life means much more than the political term meaning anti-abortion. My involvement in the pro-life movement has more to do with honoring the sanctity of all life than it does with disliking abortion. Obviously, I wish abortion would stop, but that is only one small part of the problem. If we can't value a life that is already living alongside us and breathing the same air we do how are we going to value a life we have not met yet? If God created us in his image, who are we to judge that the image created is not good enough to live? A touchy topic I'm glad someone wrote about in a non-judgemental way. She gave me the push to mention it here despite my wonderings if I'm going to upset readers with the different, althougth related, topic.

Monday, November 16, 2009

busy week

Last week I worked four days and on the fifth (actually Wed) I:

1. attended Mass w/my mom :-)
2. went to Staples to replace the ink in my printer
3. worked out
4. installed ink and printed many documents for pro-life meeting
5. made lunch (and dinner while waiting for lunch to finish)
6. met with spiritual director
7. ate the prepared dinner while making agenda for meeting
8. led meeting

I know I don't have a full time job - but this week sure felt booked! The meeting went great and I felt like God opened our eyes a bit to the direction He wants the group to take. What a highlight of the week right?

Too bad that is not how I felt. Everyone I talked to has tried to reassure me, but a nagging feeling remains. It is hard to describe it. If I had to do so, it would be self-doubt but that is incomplete. It feels like an out-of-body self-doubt because I don't really believe it and I can let it pass over me. I feel at peace with my direction in life, but I also feel a black cloud following me, hoping to catch up on a bad day and consume my thoughts. It is the weirdest kind of spiritual warfare I have ever experienced, maybe because it is one of the first times I can see it for what it truly is. It is truly draining and makes me appreciate great spiritual lives like Padre Pio's all the more. The book I read about him dealt with really serious stuff - supernatural and from his own community. He went through so much and I am having difficulty keeping up with life because of a vague "feeling" - I have so much to learn....

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Changes in Society

I was reading a blog and comments that talked about conforming law to things that happen in society. Many people want to do "x" so we should push to legalize it. Sometimes that is a good thing and sometimes it takes a long time - Women's suffrage took decades. There are a number of items like that in the news right now: legalizing marijuana, same-sex unions/marriages, universal health care....

Now that I have become broadly controversial in this post I think I'll narrow it down and get more controversial. A popular argument against teaching NFP in the Catholic Church is that most couples don't use it anyway; therefore, let us conform religion to society. Religion should be more binding than laws anyway. Religion is defined as pertaining to the supernatural. That does not change because society changes. I don't think it is possible that all the ancient religions and all the contemporary religions are 100% true. It just does not seem logical that the way the world was created and how it works changes when people's ideas change. So it is interesting that the stance on contraception has changed in that way. Most Christian denominations used to be against it quite recently, well after the modern dating practices started in this country.

What is my response to the argument? I love being Catholic - the church stands up for its beliefs against controversy and has been around long enough with enough theologians to research the topics just a bit. Some may see it as oppressive - I see it as an informed, conscientious decision that has withstood the test of time and opposition. If you look closely, the reasoning behind the position is at the very least respectable and in my eyes awe-inspiring.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Small Pro-Life Victory

I don't know if anyone was watching the news this weekend, but I was. I hosted an officers meeting and, once the meeting had concluded, we turned on CNN. We watched Nancy Pelosi talk about the Stupak-Pitts amendment and claim she wanted this to come to a vote although most of us have been "misinformed" on that. Watching politicians on TV is not something I enjoy so we soon turned off the broadcast once we found out the vote would not happen until at least 2:30. Well, I'm a couple days late in presenting this story, but I wanted to do so and include part of an email I received from the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC):

The House adopted the NRLC-backed Stupak-Pitts Amendment, 240-194. The Stupak-Pitts Amendment removed two major pro-abortion components from H.R. 3962. Specifically: (1) the amendment would permanently prohibit the new federal government insurance program, the "public option," from paying for abortion, except to save the life of the mother, or in cases of rape or incest; and (2) the amendment would permanently prohibit the use of the new federal premium subsidies ("affordability credits") to purchase private insurance plans that cover abortion (except to save the life of the mother, or in cases of rape or incest). The amendment was sponsored by Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mi.) and Joe Pitts (R-Pa.). It was supported by 176 Republicans and 64 Democrats. It was opposed by 194 Democrats. One Republican withheld his support by voting "present."

I know it is hard to stay on top of what is happening with health care so I thought I would post an update. Unfortunately, even with this victory, a lot could still happen that would make a loop hole around the Amendment. Hopefully that will not happen and this country will have health care reform that we can all support - at least on moral grounds. The financing is a different story for someone else to tell.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Truth and Consequences

Recently I was a substitute in one of my former teacher's classrooms. When I walked into his classroom I was flooded with dreadful memories of my teen health class. Thankfully, I was only teaching English that day. Even so, it was quite an interesting experience for many reasons.

I don't remember much about my teen health class. I remember that the standard - don't do drugs, sleep is good for you, first aid - messages were present, but I have no idea how they were taught or any specifics. I do remember some specifics of the reproductive section. I remember some girls walking around the class with the pregnancy belly, though that did not deter one of the girls who became pregnant before finishing high school. I also remember the serious warning that a girl can become pregnant at any time in her cycle and that there is no way to know what time that is going to be. Was this a scare tactic or an actual fact? We went over statistical success rates of different methods. We also were taught multiple times that just because the Trojan brand is "most trusted" does not mean it is the "most trustworthy" - obviously this wasn't an abstinence only program.

Why do I still have issue with this 8 years later? Because it was a lie and there are consequences to lies. If one oddball teacher said this, no big deal - most people listened to him just enough to pass the class. The problem is, most of society says the same thing and it hurts me to know women I care about are being misinformed throughout their whole lives, starting with teen health class. My previous post on "Who is man for woman..." talks about lying with our bodies when using contraception. Lying is bad and can result in consequences. 13% of women face fertility issues and studies show that artificial contraception and abortion increase those rates. NFP charts back this up with infertile patterns seen when stopping hormonal contraceptives.

Quick story to put my anger and passion on this topic into perspective. I know someone who has been married for a couple years. She started the pill in high school for abdominal pain. She stayed on it for 8 years until she wanted to conceive. Since that time she has been unsuccessful, been diagnosed with PCOS, gone through major surgery, and had to change her diet and start taking Clomid. She is the one that brought this up and how she was upset her doctors didn't take the time to diagnose PCOS in the first place to treat her symptoms instead of just covering them up. When are doctors going to stop lying and saying this is a miracle pill and start taking a genuine interest in helping/treating their patient's individual needs?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Who is Man for Woman? Part 2

Amazing to know I have more to say on this right? I apologize for my last post (I guess I should have split this into 3 parts), but it is so hard to shorten these profound and completely relevant points that Fr. Loya has made. This post will be more concise and will contain two points: honesty and language.

First to address honesty. Most people would agree that honesty is part of what makes a person good, but Fr. Loya took that one step further. His argument is one of alliteration: Being honest will help make you holy, what is holy will bring happiness and also lead you to heaven if you are dishonest it will go in the opposite direction and result in harm of some kind.

Second point - language - is something more than just words. Fr. Loya talks about the language of the body. The language of the body can either honestly reflect the words you say or not. If two people become one in marriage, that means you are completely unified. You give the total gift of yourself. If you "speak" honestly with your body that includes everything, including your fertility. After all, God did make it possible to postpone pregnancy while still telling the truth with your body.

His conclusion: The Church is against contraception, not because they want lots of children to ease the shortage of priest, because it is a way for you to lie with your body.

Friday, November 6, 2009


So I wrote a long post about the rain (pain), now I want to talk about a rainbow.

Right now the rainbow is my husband. The days and nights I have been in pain he has most definitely filled his role as provider/protector/supporter. Anything I ask for - I get! How nice is that? Now I'm sure if I asked for anything crazy he might stop this practice. Since my requests are limited to things like mint water (a natural relaxer/pain reliever), heating pad, etc, my wish is his command. One of my biggest requests for him lately is to help me relax. I jokingly mentioned the Bradly Method in my last post since we are not pregnant right now, but its philosophy of relaxing the body is relevant. My husband has practiced relaxation techniques and is really good at leading me through them. It is amazing how he can help me relax the rest of my body and in doing so, ease the burden of the pain (even though it doesn't go away). Hopefully this means we'll be in a good position if we do have children and choose to go through a natural birth.

Hopefully another rainbow in my future will be children. The possibility of future children is one of the things I keep in mind while I am going through the pain. Yes, it is painful now but what a great gift God has given women to receive love in such a way that lets us carry life within us and give birth. I can wait and make it through to that special day.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

rain before the rainbow

Maybe I am bringing this up now because I am quite frankly in a bad mood. I'm not a fan of the subcaller in our district who called me and said I want you to work job A and when I call back her back she just says no, I don't need you anymore - good bye great 4 day job. Even without that, this topic is something that has been on my mind for a while.

So I am unofficially done with my NFP training. I have one more Saturday scheduled but that is more of a tie-up loose ends and distribute materials day so I don't expect much instruction. The whole time I was going through training it was very difficult to talk about some aspects of NFP. I am blessed with an NFP-only doctor which I have been seeing for around 4 years now, but that doesn't make everything perfect. He is a great doctor and truly believes in the Catholic Church and all of its teachings on fertility etc. so I know I am in great hands and I don't have to try to explain/justify my reasons for not going on the pill.

I guess it is not his fault that I chose to do things the hard way. I chose to have surgery (which discovered and removed endometriosis) and I thought that way I would be "cured" of all the pain I have experienced over the years. Well that most certainly has not happened. I can remember at least three instances, since the surgery in August, when my husband was so concerned for my well-being that he wanted to take me to the emergency room. I said no because I knew this pain and that, besides giving me large amounts of pain medicine, the doctors were going to say "it's just cramps" and there's really nothing we can do. What makes this worse? I have painful ovulations as well and I'm pretty sure I tend to have cysts that burst. Yesterday I woke up in ovulation pain but it went away pretty easily so I don't think anything burst this time.

So why am I writing this post? It's not to get pity, it is that I am completely frustrated and wondering if anyone has heard about different ways to reduce pain? I have called my doctor and he said that can happen and it's just how your body works. Well the whole reason I had the surgery was to diagnose and get rid of pain! I got a second opinion from a holistic doctor who wants to put me on a progesterone cream. He used to have me on a really high dose for most of my cycle (it is natural progesterone, not progesten so the time you can use it is extended). But that messed with my charts - some incredibly early peaks that were not predicted from my signs and could have meant I would be blessed with motherhood a bit earlier than expected. It also left me sleepy and I just don't like the idea of being on hormones. I don't know what to do next besides get pregnant which is probably not too far off (Lord willing) but not in the next couple cycles either.

Back to the beginning, it was incredibly hard to talk about all the "health benefits" of NFP while in training. Yes it helped me diagnose that I had endometriosis, but sometimes I feel like my health is worse and I would have felt better on the pill. Anyone have another idea I can try? I'm already working out and watching what I eat but it just seems to get worse. It is to the point that all I can do is lay down and have my husband coach me through relaxation techniques while I have a heating pad on my stomach - maybe this is my introduction to using the Bradley method of natural delivery.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Girl Power

So I tried to keep yesterday's post short and failed. I'll do better today. One point that Fr. Loya highlights from Pope John Paul II's TOB and repeats quite often just needed to be on its own to make a full impact. Ready?

Woman is the archetype of the human race. He didn't say this as a joke claiming Adam was the rough draft, he explained it as our gift of receptivity. The human race was created as something that God could pour His love into. Woman's body reflects that, so we are the archetype. I teased my fiance, now husband, when I heard him say this. I repeatedly asked him to answer who was the archetype because you don't hear the answer of "woman" very often to that; after all, Adam was created first. In reality, we aren't better or worse than men, just different.

I just had to point this out and put extra emphasis on woman. It is so easy to look at the practices of the Church (only men can be priests etc.) and forget how much admiration is found for women. A pope declared woman to be the archetype and truly respected all that we were created to be. I find it sad that most people can't understand that and think I am part of a religion that is oppressive to women when I feel the exact opposite.

Who is Man for Woman? Part 1

I commented here on the topic of marriage and brought up the name Fr. Loya. Fr. Loya was blessed with the opportunity to study in Rome and here Pope John Paul II speak on Theology of the Body. One of the Pope's most memorable quotes for him was:

Humanity, its dignity and its balance will depend at every moment and on every place on the globe on who man is for woman and who woman is for man. - Pope John Paul II
I believe the thesis of this talk is: To understand marriage, love and sexuality you need a total vision of man. If you can't fully answer the question "Who is man for woman and who is woman for man" you cannot understand Church teaching on this topic. I think that is 100% true. I hesitate to write the post because when narrowed down to a blog it may sound like it just plays on stereotypes and is insensitive to people who don't fit the norm. That is not my goal in any way. The goal in this post is to touch on something I feel to be true - God made man and He also made woman. We were both designed to be perfect and I would say equal. However, something else I have found true in many ways over the years - equal does not mean the same. Please read with an open mind.

I am not a theologian so if you want all his biblical references that support his point you should definitely get this cd. Instead, I will mention a few "real world" examples that he mentions that I find helpful in conversations on this topic -

His first point that is made involves compliments (different things that go together). Many compliments can be found in the world - night and day, man and woman, work and play. In those examples, each is more appreciated and life is more balanced when they go together. More than all the artificial, immoral and emotional arguments for and against marriage, biology can prove to be a strong resource when explaining why there is a "natural order" found in the marriage between one man and one woman and all pro-life and NFP ideals.

Women are internal and men are external. Women like to bring things to themselves and men like to act outwardly which is mirrored in our anatomy. This comes down to how young children play with toys. Boys like to test toys and bang them against things (car crashes) and girls like to play house or play with dolls and create connected stories. This phenomenon continues through life. Women are internal and connected. We like to talk with each other, we like to console others and not worry about solving a problem. Men are made for separateness and external acts. They want that "man cave" to withdraw after a long day of problem-solving. They usually do not want to talk just to talk - they want to solve something. They withdraw and re-energize so they can come back and solve all the "problems" you bring up when you talk about your day.

When I first heard this talk, before I was married, I did not realize how true that was. One of the adjustments when my husband moved in after the honeymoon, was giving him some time to "withdraw" after a hard day. There is nothing that I can do to help him because that is not how he was made. I was also amazed at how many times I would clarify that I was not talking about a "problem" and was not looking for a solution.

Going back to the complimentary aspect. Women are internal: they want to help other feel loved, accepted, build community, etc. Men are external: they want to solve problems. Both have a hugely important role in our lives, but they need balance. It sounds stereotypical, but it is true in my life. The procreation difference (obviously same-sex partners to do that differently) is losing ground with contraception and IVF among other things - but our biology has stayed the same. We were created differently but equal.

The way I understand it in my life comes down to this scenario
When someone has had a hard day
Me to my husband: how can I help you relax/feel better?
My ideas: back massage, relax, have time alone while I clean up dinner
My husband to me: how can I fix the problem
His ideas: create a to do list, find a way to make x problem not occur again, if that is not possible find way to adjust routines etc. so problem is not so upsetting

Now, I am not saying that is the only thing my husband and I do. I want to help him fix problems and he wants to help me relax, but our first instincts are different and we learn from each other how to do that which does not come naturally.

Truly Revolutionary

I originally posted this back in May. I thought I would post it today in response to some blogs I read over the weekend on defending marriage. I thought the quote would be truly fitting for the situation - we are revolutionaries! Let's get the information out and start a revolution.

In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act

- George Orwell

This quote (that I saw in an English class on Tuesday) has spoken to me a lot this week. I feel like I am part of two revolutionary groups when really the ideas that they support are not new. I came across a website called "Catholics for Choice" the same day I saw the quote. It is a website that claims since the majority of Catholics support birth control (among other things) our religious belief should change to reflect that. I wish more people took the time to look at or, better yet, were told the beautiful message of the Church on marriage and love. In any case, just because most people don't like it - doesn't mean the truth changes. That logic is easy to follow when we talk about things that have been proved incorrect. Everyone now knows that the earth is not the center of the universe and never was (even when the majority of people believed it to be true). Same goes with religion - either it is true or it is not true. It can't stop being true because public opinion has changed.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Life at Home

Well my long term job ended which let me open up my schedule a bit. I took today off for fear of halloween party disaster. I have about a million (or ten) things on my to do list, but seeing as I have two done already I though I deserved a writing break ;-)

One thing on my to do list was go to Mass. It was so nice to get up as my husband was leaving instead of the other way around, watch some news and go to Church. The homily was Halloween related about how we wear masks to hide the truth from others and sometimes from God. I'm sure we all do that sometimes and it's a good reminder to be aware of it; however, it made me think mostly about all the different aspects of myself and roles I am playing. I have been so happy to take some extra time to play housewife this week. I cooked Shepard's Pie from scratch yesterday - no easy feet with about 20 ingredients and I didn't even have to exaggerate that! I have cleaned and done laundry and generally gotten the house back how I prefer to keep it. I'm cooking a nice meal again for company tonight and I'm so happy to have the time.

I've also been blessed with the opportunity this week to spend time with a number of friends who have little ones. I got to see two young brothers play in their yard on Monday while holding the youngest boy who is just 2 months! I played with my 2 year old neighbor while her mother made dinner and finally talked on the phone with my friend who gave birth at the end of September. I'm excited to visit her in three weeks and learn more about new motherhood before I embark on that same journey (no time frame on that yet). All in all, it has been a great week and I am looking forward to enjoying the rest of my day and to do list at home.

p.s. update on the halloween candy post - yes I got chocolate and no the bags did not make it into the house without being "tested" for quality. Well they are hidden now until tomorrow - have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Holistic Living

The term holistic seems to be most used in the medical field these days. I go to a holistic doctor and my primary care physician and I love that massage therapy is part of holistic treatments. Who else has a doctor that has prescribed massage therapy? I think that is pretty neat and was the only excuse needed to schedule one regularly (as in every couple of months).

However, the term has so much more depth to it. It simply means to emphasize the whole instead of its parts and is a philosophy I was taught while going to Hope College and getting a liberal arts degree. I had to take everything from health to music to philosophy to statistics in order to graduate. This made getting out in 4 years difficult but worth it. Health dynamics was the class that really changed my thinking. Since then I have worked out on a fairly consistent basis but, beyond that, it was the class that really converted me to be a liberal arts, holistic learner. I realized how connected body, mind and spirit are and I think that comes out in my posts now.

So often in the past I have gotten tunnel vision - I need to focus on this test, this project, this upcoming at a time! Now everything is connected. It is not enough to fight for the unborn if I don't help their caretakers with resources and information or appreciate the life once it is here - that goes for every life, including mine. So I blame/credit my college for making me think in a way that connects everything to respecting the sanctity of life. From dancing to pregnancy centers, special education to the death penalty - everything deals with life. If I don't value what is there in front of me - am I setting a good example? Probably not. So thank you to Hope College - I guess I'm still using many of the skills I have learned even if I do not have a full time job.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Waiting vs. Avoiding

I have to admit that I have gotten to the point in my marriage when people have declared we are past the "newlywed" phase and with that comes questions about children. I don't know if I was deaf to it in my first year of marriage, but the topic seems to come up a lot more than it used to - even with strangers. I was guest teaching in a classroom last week and the teacher said "avoid as long as possible" which made me stop and think.

If children are such a blessing, why must we avoid? Doesn't that word just sound wrong? I'm starting to realize how much wording can affect attitude and perception. If something needs to be avoided - it must be bad somehow. People want to avoid children so they can go on trips and live their lives because once the kids are here its over right? It's all about them. Now, I don't have personal experience with this dilemma but it just doesn't sound right. It paints the picture that I will be a servant to my children, not in a Christian love kind of way but in a "do as you're told" scenario. I'm just not sure if two year olds can handle that kind of power, but I'm getting away from my initial point.

Waiting vs. Avoiding

Esentially it looks like the same thing, but is totally different in my mind. Right now my husband and I are waiting to have children for a number of reasons that give us concern about our ability to provide all the needs of our child. My life doesn't look any different than someone is avoiding children. I hope my mindset is a bit different, but it is hard to know for sure. Question of the day: are we giving/getting bad advice to avoid pregnancy/children? And to follow that up: How do we prepare for kids if mentally we have to go from avoiding to accepting and loving children?

I'd really like some feedback and answers if anyone has some. The best I can say is that NFP has helped me contemplate the whole "openess to life" idea and how far that extends. I know it is part of my life and something that will hopefully help me ease into parenthood a little easier. I look forward to children being part of my family life and enjoying that time not "getting it over with." I can't predict the future or know that everything will be perfect, but I know that my family (husband and I) are planning and anticipating the day when we can lovingly bring a child into our home.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Pregnancy Center Banquet

Anyone who knows me well knows that I love to be on time and early. Last Thursday was a crisis pregnancy center's banquet and I was a table host. I wanted to arrive close to when the doors opened at 6:15 so I could greet my guests. Unfortunately I did not make it until after 6:30 and walked straight to my husband to say "I'm in a bad mood." He had come straight from work and was able to greet his parents who arrived before me. Even though I was thankful my husband had come early to the event, my initial thoughts of the evening were along the lines of: I've had a bad day, there was a stain on the shirt I planned to wear, I don't feel good and on top of all of this I let my guests beat me to this event! This is going to be a long night!

Much to my surprise, for I can be a bit grumpy a times, I put a smile right on and went around to greet my guests. I had rounded up 14 people so I really had about a table in a half to greet. I started with the half table since I wouldn't be sitting with them during the meal. We joked about some meeting stuff (whether or not we would have a musical guest at our next meeting) and talked about a future fundraiser. I went back to my table, said hello to my other guests and missed the salad course due to all my talking.

During dinner, I enjoyed some fellowship and music - they didn't start with the speaker right away so I got a chance to talk with some people I hadn't said hello to before dinner was served. By the time the program started, I realized that the night was going much better than I had originally anticipated. My smile was more genuine and I was truly joyful to be there. I felt like I was in my element and it became one of those aha! moments. I must be doing what I have been called to do because my awful day turned into a splendid one. As an introvert, any time a social event with lots of people brings me energy it is very exciting - especially at the end of a bad day. The only question now is once again: Where do I go from here? It is energizing to hear personal testimonies of the good works being done - but how can I help? I haven't figured that one out yet.

I've never been the one who needed the advice that you can't say yes to everything. I've always chosen my activities carefully because I want my introvert time to recharge. Somehow I am having a hard time of doing that lately - officer of a pro-life group, setting up NFP classes, just joined the choir at my church, hosted the table at this banquet and I've actually worked 5 days a week since mid-Sept. What commitment can I make to this wonderful resource without saying yes too many times? I guess I'm still waiting for my next aha! moment.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Ballroom Dancing

I have to admit that a show I enjoy watching is Dancing with the Stars. I personally love to dance and sing and most anything that involves good music. The pros also did a great tribute to Michael Jackson on Tuesday night with amazing dancing to some of his most loved songs.

I don't know if anyone else watches but, if you do, the following comment will probably make sense. I was pretty excited when Edyta was voted off soon after the start of this season. For some reason a waltz, tango, and foxtrot all call for dancing costumes that resemble bikinis. I love the dances - it motivated me to take more than a few lessons - but sometimes it is hard for me to watch with my husband. I wouldn't say I'm the most modest person out there.
If I was, I probably wouldn't watch the show. I just wonder if it would get the same ratings if they toned down the outfits - maybe something closer to this picture for waltz and foxtrot if nothing else. I also am starting to wonder what message the show is actually conveying: dancing is a great workout that has helped many contestants reach a healthier weight vs. dancing is an excuse to wear as little clothes as possible.

How does this fit into the subject matter of my blog? The more I get involved in helping fight for the sanctity of life, the more I find myself thinking about how I am living that out on a daily basis. How am I respecting the sanctity of my own life and of those around me. Somehow this week it did not seem respectful or enjoyable to be watching a dance where I could see all the way down one side of the dancer's body. Did they run out of fabric? In any case, I changed the channel before that song was over - I did not like the view my husband was getting.

Big question of the week: does it make a difference if I watch or don't watch shows like that? I don't know and I obviously can't answer for my husband. The follow up question would be any new relaxation/activity ideas for those nights when you both come home tired and want to do something that doesn't involve a lot of energy? I would appreciate some insight because I seem to be forming the habit of turning on the tv at night be default - it's too early to go to bed but too late and too tired to doing something productive.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Health Care

Just in case you have been hiding under a rug for a couple of months, I thought I would bring this topic back to the spotlight. I have gotten a little annoyed at news shows etc. because they keep repeating the same thing. You get to the point where you don't want to hear it anymore. It's like a broken record - and I don't want to sound like that all the time.

There is a crucial point to make though so I will say it again: Health Care, how I define it, is something that helps your body function properly. If you are sick, medicine might help you get better. If you twist something in your back, a chiropractor could help you get better. If you have something serious like appendicitis, surgery may be needed to help your body get better. Notice a trend? If you are pregnant, an abortion does not help your body get better - there are many health risks for you that usually are not associated with the actual pregnancy. As a result, abortion does not fit my definition and here is an article that explains the current events pretty well if anyone is interested.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Right to Choose?

Yesterday I was reading a blogpost on feminism. I'm not going to try to dissect that term, but I did want to talk about one theme. In the 1920s women's movement we were given the right to vote and it became more acceptable to work outside the home. I'm glad women have the option to go to school, work and marry for love instead of economic necessity. In that area we are all truly lucky and should be thankful of the women that came before us for paving the way.

However, when did that choice become mandatory? I have received a lot of unsolicited advice from family, friends and strangers about how I can advance my career. Honestly, it would not be that difficult to advance from substitute teacher - any full-time job would be a step up - but most people are saying I should go back to school for a year (standards changed and my certification is already out of date). Most of the time, I go along with it because that is the path of least resistance. Yes, it is easier to go back to school when you are young and yes that would make my individual financial future a bit brighter.

On the other hand, no one has asked what I want to do. I don't want to be a full-time teacher. I would get a full time job if I needed one but, truth be told, it's not necessary. With mainly my husband's income, we have been able to save a good deal of money for trips and future expenses. When did the freedom to choose life outside the home become a mandatory life goal? I'd rather have a loving family that I have time to nurture and support. So here is a shout out to all the stay at home moms. I think you have a fabulous job that is so crucial to the benefit of society.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A beautiful fall day

Yesterday was a great day for me. I went to work, came home, worked out, and then told myself I would not do any chores before sitting down and relaxing a bit. Of course, the workhorse that I am would not accept that and put in a load of laundry anyway. oh one is perfect.

I sat down in a reading chair to open the book Here and Now by Henri Nouwen. The book is all about living in the present. I looked outside and was amazed at how beautiful the fall leaves are right now.
I sat there content to just look outside (it's a bit chilly) and enjoy the beauty of God's creation. I'm excited for fall and all that brings - walks around the neighborhood to admire all the trees, homemade applesauce and pumpkin pie. More than that, I have been waiting for acorn squash to arrive in the stores. My husband bakes sausage and pasta in it and the result is delicious! Maybe I can get him to make it for me for Sweetest Day. In case you are like me and don't know when that is - it's this Saturday. I have a local flower shop to thank for informing me.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

My Highest Compliment

This weekend I went to Cleveland with my husband to present some research I had done a couple years ago. I was required to do this as part of my training to become a certified NFP teacher. It went much better than expected and the group seemed generally impressed by my findings. The best compliment I received? That I presented a compassionate report of each side.

Our presentation was historical: The 1920s Debate on Birth Control

I compared and contrasted the National Council of Catholic Women with Margaret Sanger. After looking through archives of primary sources and reading many books my whole paper comes down to one main point, which was basically the only point I had time to discuss in the 10 minutes I was given.

Freedom v. Control
The point isn't as straightforward as it may seem since the two movements defined them in drastically different ways. I always find it amazing how one word can mean so many things. Life is certainly confusing and we are all just trying to do our best with what we have and what we know. I think that is still the case today and why there is so much compassion that is needed.

In the 1920s up to present day I believe everyone on both sides have been looking for the same solution - happy and healthy family life We want the freedom to make intimate family decisions so that we can create the best life possible. The problem doesn't arise until we look at the means of getting there. What is right - the freedom to take a pill every day or the freedom to work with a woman's cycle to space the birth of children? In the end, we have to remember that no matter what side, we all have the same goal.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Becoming a Woman

This phrase has so many meanings. I remember being embarrassed about some milestones and enjoying others. I bring up the phrase because I recently stumbled across a blog that I truly enjoy and her post on this subject sparked my interest. The post and comments people have left on her site are definitely worth reading.

I thought it would be a great time to highlight a fresh and somewhat different perspective from my own.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

NFP and Romance

I am getting close to being a trained NFP teacher and it is definitely crunch time! In the next two weeks I have to present research and teach a sample lesson so that my teaching skills can be assessed - I'm not too worried on that end.

I was catching up on some reading about NFP and found one letter quite interesting. The man who wrote it had been practicing NFP for 18 years and absolutely hated it. He believed it killed the romance in his marriage and led to unreasonable and harmful amounts of abstinence since his wife wasn't interested during the infertile times.

That is truly a painful story to read about and I hope my teaching will help students realize the true, and sometimes hidden, potential of NFP. And, before I go any further, I have to give a shout out to my wonderful husband who took me out to dinner last night. He always finds great new places for us to try. I must say I have an amazing marriage and an even more amazing husband. He has embraced the blessings of NFP and takes time to make it work. I'm not ignored when I'm fertile - I am romanced and supported.
Taking the time to send a sweet email, bring home flowers, watch (*ahem* nap) to Sunday football games together, go out to dinner, and so many other activities we enjoy together keeps our relationship strong at all times. It comes back to a popular marriage tip: never stop dating each other.

It is humbling to know how much my husband serves me and how I need to do that in return. He takes care of me when I'm not feeling well, humors me when I am craving three different things at once (with only minimal jokes about what I might be like when I'm actually pregnant), and shows love in numerous ways every day. To leave on a positive note, a different articule pointed out something that I find to be true. On days that are fertile, the acts of kindness and love mean a whole lot more. They are truly meant to show deep love and not to move things along to an expected end. I think NFP has brought me to a deeper understanding of my husband's love for me and I thank God for that.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Loving Others

Right now is just one of those times in my life when I feel like the same message is being presented to me over and over. It's like when you learn a new word or topic you suddenly notice it everywhere. The message of my morning reading, Sunday's sermon and many other random comments etc have been talking about love.

It's something that is so common - of course I'm going to be hearing about it right? Well I guess it is more specific - love your enemies, love those who are different than you, love those who don't have the same blessings as you. Loving people like you is easy, it is a little harder to go out of your way and love those that you don't necessarily think about all the time.

If you fight for the right to life and then don't love the life that is created - are you being helpful? If you want all life to have the chance to see the world and then don't educate yourself on resources or help those who provide - are you being helpful? If you criticize those who are forced to make tough decisions and don't show compassion and support - are you being helpful? I'm not sure.

On that note, I am so looking forward to learning more about resources in my area by attending the banquet of a local crisis pregnancy center. I'm excited that my pro-life group was able to host and fill a table for this wonderful event. It will be a beautiful evening and a powerful message that my group not only wants to speak about life issues but really support a resource that puts into practice what we preach. Thank you to all the pregnancy centers who work so hard to educate and support women that are faced with a life changing situation that can be so scary.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Medical Breakthrough

One of the teachers I work with occassionally has a common saying

It's a great day to be alive

Hopefully every day is like that and we can find joy in something small. Today it is from a medical news article that I can agree with and be excited about. So many medical issues treat life has a thing and not so much as something sacred. Refer to my previous post on a news article if you are confused by that statement. However, the article I was shown today completely respects life and instead of using embryonic stem cells uses the patients own cells. I'm not a medical expert, but wouldn't that be better since they are not "foreign" cells but actually from the same person?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

"Potential" is not enough for moral concern

A new czar, a new crazy idea. The below article discusses one appointed leader's belief that an embryo is just a group of cells with potential - no more human than cells with only half the DNA needed for life. It reminds me of the one question I want to ask most people before they make a decision for someone else: When did your life start? A hard question to answer if a group of cells with your complete DNA are "just a handful of cells."

Sunstein: Embryos are 'just a handful of cells'

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Friday, September 25, 2009

Drawn to You

Has there ever been a person, topic or activity you felt drawn to? I think some things we are just meant to do. Some how early in high school I felt drawn to my husband. I can't remember how everything really happened at this point but I know I just felt like I could go to him and open up about some things I didn't tell many people.

The same thing can happen with topics and activities. Some people are drawn to working out and love the experience but for the life of me I can't figure out why that happens. I feel drawn to the pro-life movement and more specifically to educating people on Natural Family Planning. It is natural, safe and empowering. I have so much information and knowledge and freedom to let my body work in its own way and own time.

Finally I read an article that talks about Natural Family Planning in a way that I think will help priests. It talks about understanding the woman and drawing people in by explaining the beauty of the system. The full article comes in response to a recent conference, but there is a great excerpt from when Pope John Paul II was in California. Here is a firsthand account of his discussion on Theology of the Body and NFP:

Holy Father said that in the great and difficult moral issues we should teach in such a way that people would see church teaching as attractive and be drawn to it. A few months later, at lunch with several other bishops during the “ad limina” visit, I reminded him of what he said, and asked, “Holy Father, how do we do this?” The pope became very serious. Philosophical. “It is necessary to understand the soul of the woman. All these things which were meant to liberate her; premarital sex, birth control, abortion. Have they liberated her, or have they enslaved her?” The challenge he gave to the bishops on that lovely sunny day at the old mission in California must be taken up. It seems the beauty and attractiveness of Catholic moral teaching have only now begun to find a serious hearing among many people. We must take up the challenge to share, especially with our young people, the beauty of Catholic moral teaching in the area of sexuality and marital life, and the value of Natural Family Planning which respects the law of God and the dignity of the woman.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Great book

Today I started a six week job in an ASD room. I will have a consistent schedule and paycheck for at least this time period and I'm looking forward to it. It's an interesting situation (I'm not really filling in for a teacher, but being an extra and needed helper) that will keep me nice and busy.

That being said I thought I would just take a few moments to recommend an excellent book. The Atonement Child by Francine Rivers has a sad beginning but a great story. A woman at a small Christian college is raped and decides to keep the child that results from that act. She goes through a lot of trials and it is written beautifully. If you haven't read it yet, it should definitely be put on a list of "must-reads"

Friday, September 18, 2009

New Neighbors

Yesterday I made applesauce with the apples I picked at Cranes. I've been meaning to meet my new neighbors for a while so I put them in a nice jar and went over with my husband. The mystery has officially been solved. Sometime early in July our current neighbors came over to ask about the neighborhood before putting in an offer and now I know they followed through with that. They seem extremely outgoing and I'm glad they joined our neighborhood.

The couple has a 2 year old daughter and expecting one in late March. So that got me thinking about pregnancy again. The thought that came in my head was the different definitions of "pregnancy." Doctors use the date of the beginning of the last cycle because that is the only easy to identify moment for some women - but that is not when the pregnancy began so the weeks are messed up - as my lovely friend in South Bend has told me before - why would doctors want you to feel like you've been pregnant about 2 weeks longer than is actually the case anyway? I just never really thought about it in relation to other definitions. Plan B proponents would claim pregnancy started about a month later when implantation occurs. Maybe that is part of the reason I am so passionate about spreading the word on how great NFP really is. You can have a more accurate due date as well as a better understanding of the true start of pregnancy. Do doctors realize they are giving out two contradicting views of pregnancy? Two views and neither is entirely accurate. I wonder when "modern technology" will catch up to this little snafu

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Faith in Actions

Right now, the Church is looking at excerpts from the letter of St. James and I always love the reminders that brings to my mind. Last Sunday the topic was faith in works. We were reminded that praying without any action is not as comforting actually doing something like providing food, shelter or even a shoulder to cry on to those people you are remembering.

I think that is a great reminder for some of the groups I am in right now. My pro-life group is just starting up so there has been a lot of talking and no doing. It is important to get the group established but it is also important to just get out there and do some good works. We are finally doing that and I am so glad. So many criticisms can arise if you are all talk and I don't want to fall prey to that. One of the biggest complaints among my friends who are pro-choice lies in the lack of resources. If that is a problem, then we need to work to fix that. I hope to do precisely that in the future as we develop a working partnership with a crisis pregnancy center.

In regards to the works we are doing, we picked one service opprotunity and one group building opprotunity (membership drive) to pursue in the next couple months. I also received an invitation to attend the local pregnancy center's banquet and decided to be a table host. If any of my readers in the area are interested in attending let me know!

Friday, September 11, 2009

different viewpoints

Anyone who is involved in promoting a cause must at some point jump the same hurdle: finding a way to help people with very different viewpoints understand your concern about x, y or z. Whether you are promoting environmentally friendly products, humane treatment of animals, or the sanctity of all human life, you will not get very far if you cannot talk to people from other groups.

I have found this idea incredibly striking in the last couple weeks. My husband is always amazed at how often I talk about this interest of mine. Although I do have many other interests - crafting, music, books, and organizing (you read that right - it can be a hobby and not just a chore) to name a few, I don't walk away or remain quiet when an opportunity presents itself.

Recently I talked to someone who comes from a completely different background. I reconnected with an old friend who is definitely enjoying her life but not a certain part which just happened to come out in conversation. Like many women, she is on one version of the pill and is hating the side effects. She is thinking of switching but has already tried a couple versions with the same results - awful side effects. I casually asked if she was on it for medical reasons and she said not really other than helping make her cycles a little more regular.

How many old friends of mine would fit this same story? I'm guessing a lot and hope that helps this friend stay anonymous. I brought up the topic of NFP but in a completely non-religious, non-Catholic way. I talked briefly about some highlights: safe, natural, 99% effective and the little fact that I obviously love it. I put a little information out there and who knows where God will be able to take what was started and potentially change someone's life. I had about a minute to get the point across to someone with a drastically different life than mine and it made me think - do I really know how to talk to people that don't share my beliefs? I hope so!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Armed with knowledge

I was watching the news after the president's speech and I was struck by something the weatherman said of all people. The news got away from the health care debate just long enough to debate global warming. A respected weather expert came on to dispute the whole idea. He showed statistics and gave a convincing argument but none of that competed with what he said next.

I won't quote him because I don't remember his exact words. I will give you his message and put it into my words because I completely agree:

I am not asking that anyone believe me. I'm asking that they take the time to find some facts and decide for themselves. Don't believe the bigger, wealthier side because they are not always right. Take some time to think and use all these amazing resources we have. I say the same thing for my cause although it is sometimes hard to find the information.

I was met with yet another situation today where a woman talked about how she asked her doctor if the pill could prevent a fertilized egg from implanting and was met with "it's not the abortion pill." Hello? She was just looking for yes or no! Why can't we get a simple answer from people that should be resources for us?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Same Commercial, Same Mood

This time I was watching the style network and saw the "Plan B" commercial again. I was surprised at how long it was but had to watch through the end - part of me couldn't believe that it would flat out lie. On the website it does not say anything about how it works other than the fact that it is similar to the pill and not like the abortion pill (didn't even know there was one out there).

That being said, I had to do some extra research and found some answers on another website. Here is the paragraph I think they should have on the commercial:

How does Plan B One-Step work?

Plan B One-Step is one pill with levonorgestrel, a hormone that has been used in many birth control pills for over 35 years. Plan B One-Step contains higher dose of levonorgestrel than pills, but works similar way to prevent pregnancy. It works mainly by stopping the release an egg from the ovary. It is possible that Plan B One-Step may also work preventing fertilization of an egg (the uniting of sperm with the egg) or by preventing attachment (implantation) to the uterus (womb).

And here is what I found earlier in that website:
Plan B One-Step will not work if you are already pregnant and will not affect an existing pregnancy.

I am not the best at science but here is a short lesson for everyone out there.

Step one: egg is fertilized
Step two: zygote (aka your baby) travels down fallopian tube for around a week
Step three: rapidly growing baby implants in the uterus to receive much needed nutrients.

If you take "plan b" less than a week after sex as directed there is no way it could cause a miscarriage from the uterus - the baby hasn't gotten that far yet. It can cause an existing pregnancy to fail because once the egg if fertilized all the DNA is there. In any case, I think that fact that the drug company does not explain how it works on even their website is dishonest and all women should learn a little more about how their reproductive system works before loading their bodies with hormones.

Unfortunately, many doctors, teachers and parents are not helping girls learn the right information. Many don't have it themselves. As a woman that has taken a lot of time trying to figure out what is happening in my body, I hope and pray that I am helping others by finding some sources that explain and reveal what doctors, pharmacists and commercials won't.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Padre Pio

I think one way to show the sanctity of life is to highlight some people that live or lived a life you admire. It gives me strength and courage to face the challenges of each new day and know there were others who struggled through much worse. One person that I have recently started reading about is Padre Pio. He was born in the 1880s and became a monk. He also lived a very different life than most by following strict rules that to me just don't seem like a healthy lifestyle. That did not seem to bother him because through it all he praised God and followed Him the best way he knew how.

Something I found especially intriguing was how he viewed the world and experienced life in general. As a little kid, he saw visions of Mary and Jesus who would talk to him. He didn't take the time to tell others because he thought that happened to everyone. That got me thinking about how I experience the world and if there are some things I just take for granted. Everyone sees with different eyes and in different ways. That is a realization I hope I don't forget soon. I guess I have always known that, but it seems to carry so much more meaning in light of the experiences Padre Pio had.

It's a great book that was recommended by a couple family members. I concur with their recommendation and encourage everyone to put it on their to read list.
Padre Pio: Man of Hope

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Post-Op Visit

Today I went to see my doctor to get more details on how the surgery went. I got to see the pictures of my insides and where the problem was located. I was yet again met with the good and bad scenario:
Good - we found what was causing my pain and got rid of it
Bad - Endometriosis is not a good thing to have and can last until menopause yikes!

I was also given some better than expected news. I have heard many times that it grows back, that no one knows what causes it, and that pregnancy is the best solution/preventative measure. However, when I asked what the likelihood of that happening I was told 4-10%. So my doctor said no rush with the pregnancy idea but he doesn't want me to wait 5 years.

My doctor's advice: take a vitamin everyday, workout and eat healthy. He says it is extra important for me so I can't slack off - too bad I don't have my sister's motivation in that area. Reason? Apparently there are some theories that endometriosis is linked to suppressed immune systems so I have to do my best to stay healthy at all times which is a tough command when you are in a different classroom with different students and different germs everyday.

Friday, August 28, 2009

False Advertising

Last night I was watching TV while my husband read behind me. I think I was watching Scrubs because I really could have used a laugh last night. Too bad that is not what happened - stupid commercial breaks! This is the first time that I have seen a commercial for Plan B or emergency contraception. They ran that add as a backup plan after contraception failure or unprotected sex. They made it look like it was simple and wouldn't cause many side effects even though it is a lot stronger than any birth control pill (how do you think it could work in just a couple days and after the fact).

What pushed me over the top was when they said it would not cause an existing pregnancy to fail. I knew that was a lie and practically yelled at the TV. My husband asked me what was wrong and I told him about their false advertising. So how can they get away with saying that? I looked back on a previous post of mine to find out. Mainly, plan B works by loading your body with hormones to prevent ovulation, but there is a second option that I explained in a previous post....

The second option would be defined as an abortifacient. To get around this tricky word, proponents of the drug define pregnancy as the time when the fertilized egg implants to the uterine lining. However, science agrees that the genetic makeup of the new child is complete once the egg is fertilized and before it implants to the mother's uterus.

How can this misleading add go on tv? Who let them get away with changing the time that pregnancy occurs? Plan B definitely works by destroying the fertilized egg (which they say is not pregnancy) a small percentage of the time. And I'm sure only a small percentage of the time is it actually needed which is almost just as sad. Girls as young as 17 can get this over the counter and some will take it when they are not fertile and have no chance of becoming pregnant. It is a shame that their bodies will go through all that for nothing and that a commercial makes it seem like it is as simple as buying and taking something like cough syrup. I wish pro-life groups had more money so we could make fancy commercials that gave the whole truth and listed other options. I have to believe that most girls and women do this to their bodies because they think it is the only way they can keep living their life. There is information out there but it is many times extremely hard to find and I hope to help change that.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Weekly Update and Surgery Recap

My road trip was awesome! I always get so excited for life when there is a new one on the way. My friend I visited was about 6 weeks from her due date and the baby was moving a lot. I learned a ton about pregnancy and I'm glad that I have her as a resource when that time comes for my husband and I.

The reason I planned the road trip when I did was to escape the reality of my life and get really excited for my friend. She enjoyed the company before she officially started her part time job in a local school. I enjoyed the diversion from thinking about the lack of leader in my pro-life group and surgery.

On Tuesday, I went to the hospital where I underwent a very short surgery. The surgery was over in 30 minutes and I was awake and asking to see my husband about an hour after it started. I didn't know any operation could be that quick! What was it for?

Like many women, I suffer from cramps. In the past year or so it has gotten considerably worse to the point I was bedridden for up to two days from the pain. I also started having more complications with my cycles and my doctor left me with three options:

1. Live with it - that did not sound fun, wasn't I already suffering through that option?

2. Go on the pill for a few months to level out my hormones - problem: that would not give me a diagnosis or any added information on how to prevent this problem from happening again.

3. Have surgery - diagnosis the problem and take anything out that is not supposed to be there

Obviously I chose option three and I'm glad I did. I have a lot more information about my body, the endometriosis was removed (probably by burning it off)and now my doctors know what to treat. Most importantly for me was the peace of mind I received by knowing exactly what was wrong, that it did not permanently affect me in any way. The doctor said the rest of my system looked great. No more wondering if "living through the pain" meant delaying diagnosing something that could affect my fertility later. Now I know that hasn't happened yet and hopefully never will since we know what we are dealing with.

My week has been just about the best case scenario. I was in and out of the hospital in 3 hours. The meds they give you there are strong so the first day I felt great! Yesterday and today I have some abdominal pain that prevent me from bending over too often but I'm not missing any work and I have had a lot of family and friends keeping me company. I'm doing well so I am ready to tackle the next thing on my list...