Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Great day in Lansing

Today I made the long trip to Lansing to attend a pro-life event. It was great to see people that were on my side and the day was full of stimulating conversation. One lasting thought about the day - it is all about education, and that is my goal in this blog. Hopefully I am doing a good job of that and not offending people with unneeded judgments - I think there is a good place to hear people's opinions so I intend to keep those coming. There are just so many things in this movement that are not covered on a day to day basis for people to hear.

Any comments, suggestions or questions are welcomed as comments.

How can I be more effective? What have you tried successfully? What topic have I missed?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A place for everything and everyone

Well, this week is a busy one for me.
- went to a class Saturday
- completed a test Sunday
- going to Lansing on Wednesday
- another meeting on Saturday

Today, I find myself in a Special Education classroom, and it is full of blessings and new perspectives. It made me think about something -

Environmentalists tell us that all species are important - even the annoying ones. We need to save animals that are endangered to preserve the balance in this world. I agree that every species is special and that we are given the responsibility of taking care of this world.

I think it is the same in the human world. Every life is special and worth protecting. With the advance of science, there are always more ethical questions. One of the most recent question has to do with birth defects and genetic problems - is it okay to terminate, or abort, those pregnancies? Had that been a common practice 15-18 years ago, I may not have had the wonderful experience I did teaching those special students some community skills. I am glad that I was able to interact with each and every student I taught today. It was also nice to get about five times as many compliments today than most days - who wouldn't want to have someone like that in their life?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Plan B and Abortifacients

Plan B has been in the news recently in regards to age restrictions. It is in the process of becoming available to teens without a prescription or parental knowledge. Many see this as progress and a willingness to distribute resources, but I would argue most do not know what it really does or how it works.

Plan B is an accurate name since it is taken after the fact, within 72 hours, of intercourse. It contains a high dose of "birth control drugs" - hormones- that can either prevent ovulation or prevent a fertilized egg from implanting. 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. I just want to give those children the respect they deserve and speak out in their behalf. I'm sure, if they could answer, they would want to live. To be fair, the abortive action does not happen the majority of the time it is taken, but that is not the only reason that this news is upsetting to me.

The birth control pill is full of hormones that can negatively affect the health of the women. The possible side effects are numerous and sometimes frightening. My original rejection of the pill had more to do with health than religious reasons. I had health issues in middle school and high school that required me to take medication daily. The pills I took affected my appetite, weight, ability to concentrate and, at times, indirectly affected my self-esteem. My body was not made to take in all those chemicals, but the alternative was to be sick so I did what the doctors prescribed. I told myself I would not subject my body to that type of treatment out of convenience or selfish wants. It helped me stay clear of drugs and drinking while in high school and helped me keep an open mind about NFP.

Do women realize the stress they are putting on their bodies? Do they realize that Plan B is not a lot different than the pill because they both prevent implantation as a last resort (if somehow fertilization had already occurred)? Last question - if the pill needs to be prescribed by a doctor because all of the side effects and the morning after pill or Plan B is 50x that dose, why do we think it is a good thing to give 17 year-olds access to it without a prescription? If someone has an answer to that please let me know.

If you want to know more of the theology behind my stance on contraceptives, look at the previous post.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Many blessings

Well, tomorrow is my birthday and I am feeling very blessed. I'm surrounded by people that care about me, not to mention all the material blessings I have been given all my life. Most of these things seem to have come for free - but some blessings you have to work toward.

All the blessings of my friendships did not happen overnight, you have to show you care and put some effort into the relationship. All the blessings from my marriage did not just appear either - we work at it and have learned from books based on Theology of the Body how to become a better spouse.

I found a NFP website that I think is helpful in explaining what I have learned. There is a quote in the bottom half of the article that explains how God's "love is free, total, faithful and fruitful." Since we are created in the image of God we need to try to love as He does. His love is freely given without any reservations. His love will never abandon you and is so strong that it needs to create more to love. We are called to love like that. I would even look at it as a marriage mission statement. Love is a free gift, no strings attached. It is total in accepting the entire person (in fertility or infertility). Love is faithful through good and bad and love is fruitful. It can be fruitful in many ways, most obviously children. Less obvious is the ways in which spouses lift each other up and be witnesses to the community of marital love. Right now, I believe that is what I am being called to do through my life ministries. The thoughts and theology behind this post can be found here.

It has taken a while for me to fully accept the blessings that can occur. At first, it was hard to trust that I could read the signs of my body. A 4 month class doesn't completely undo the years of being told you could get pregnant at any time - one of the only things I remember from my teen health class and something that many people in college told me. But as the months have slipped by I have thought less about charting and more about how the love I feel has grown exponentially. I feel cherished and honored in my marriage knowing that I am being loved just the way God made me.

That love has raised me up to a higher goal - spreading the word. Words will never begin to describe the joy that has come into my life once I have truly meditated on and put into practice that which natural family teaches: openess to life.

Monday, April 20, 2009

health and NFP

I find the way that the media talks about different issues. You can take things at face values or search for bias. You can claim unfair coverage when the media says things like anti-abortion and pro-choice. One is against something and the other is for something - wouldn't you rather be for something? That doesn't necessarily mean that coverage is not balanced. As I was reading the news this morning I came across something interesting in the women's health section. It reported a study that showed women on oral contraceptives don't build as much muscle mass as those not on the pill.

The study lasted 10 weeks and the women worked out with same intensity and weight training 3 times a week. What the analytical part of me noticed was the way they worded the article. Usually in studies, the control group is the one that does not get the treatment. All the comments seemed to put the women taking the pill in the control group. Instead of saying women taking the pill gained less muscle mass, they said that women not taking the pill gained more muscle mass. To me, that made it sound like those not on the pill were doing something to enhance their body's ability to create muscle mass. Whichever way you spin it though, the study shows that the pill is harmful to your ability to create strong, healthy muscles.

In a culture that is now so focused on being green and learning nutrition (e.g. the huge debate over high fructose corn syrup) I think it is important to think about all aspects of health and what we put in our bodies - not just finding a scapegoat to blame like corn syrup. There are many studies about the harmful side effects of any artificial birth control method. Natural Family Planning offers freedom from those side effects and a healthy understanding of female anatomy. And a bonus I found out today - better ability to build muscle.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Compassion and Education

After my last post I have been thinking about compassion. I don't want to be so far on one side that I offer no compassion to the other. My prayer for the Obama family and the leaders of this country is sincere. I want them to be successful in leading our country because when you get down to basics they have the same goals as their opponents - to make the country a better and safer place.

Like I said yesterday, I think people should concentrate on facts. While in college, I wrote a paper about a controversial topic in the 1920s - birth control. I wrote about each side and found a common ground between them. One of the biggest compliments I got as a historian was actually a question. At the end of my presentation, a professor asked which side I agreed with. I was able to lay out the facts without harping on one side and making one side look perfect. To me, that is a type of compassion - honoring the opposing side enough to just state the truth and not turn them into a villain.

I don't think the pro-life movement is perfect and neither is my work with Natural Family Planning. One of the biggest criticisms is education - people just don't know what resources are out there. Planned Parenthood does a pretty good job of making sure people know what options are available. On their website they even talk about Fertility Awareness methods of birth control which Natural Family Planning teaches. Information is out there if people are willing to look. I truly believe if people become more aware of the pro-life movement and the resources available abortion will not seem like the best solution anymore. I also believe that if more people knew how amazing Natural Family Planning is they would be more inclined to learn it. Speaking of education...

Norma McCorvey is better known as Jane Roe. She brought the abortion case to the Supreme Court when she was faced with an unplanned pregnancy. The judicial process was too slow and she became a mother and recently became a prominent leader in the pro-life movement. I think she should be mentioned as often as possible. There must be a reason why the leader of the pro-choice movement switched sides right?

In regards to a more recent event, it is a lack of education that results in the majority of Catholic senators voting to rescind the conscience protections for health care workers. Nothing has officially changed in that regard, but it is still making forward progress. How can we say we offer religious freedom when workers could be forced out of a profession or forced to do something they find morally wrong? I know there are enough doctors and nurses that will prescribe birth control and perform abortions, why bully those that won't? Again, this will not be solved by complaining. Education is key. Natural Family Planning doctors know a lot about fertility and how to achieve pregnancy (since all you do is reverse rules if you want to avoid pregnancy). If leaders understand that, can't they find a loophole? We could call those doctors fertility specialists and refer couples that are seeking a larger family to those doctors? Then I would still be able to go to the doctor I chose.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter prayers

Easter came quickly this year for me, but I still couldn't wait. No more fasting and waiting. We can celebrate Jesus rising from the dead. I enjoyed waking up and going to Mass with my husband and relaxing for a bit before we visited with his family. It was a beautiful day and we got to spend time outside in the sun - so relaxing.

Later on that day, while the majority of the family was watching the Masters, I picked up the Weekly Standard. Admittedly, this is an ultra-conservative publication. You only have to read about half an article to pick up on that fact. So, I would argue, it does not give fair and balanced coverage. Despite that fact, I found myself reading an article on abortion and the new administration. Now some things may be taken out of context, but in the article, I found this quote:

“Statutes that curtail her abortion choice are disturbingly suggestive of involuntary servitude, prohibited by the Thirteenth Amendment, in that forced pregnancy requires a woman to provide continuous physical service to the fetus in order to further the state’s asserted interest,” - Dawn Johnsen

President Obama appointed Dawn Johnsen to be the head of the office of Legal Counsel. She has quite the credentials when it comes to law and previous experience. However, even if the quote was out of context, it does not sit well with me. I know she has excellent past experience, but when did this country start thinking that pregnancy involves being harmed by a parasite that should be destroyed? And, in most cases, wouldn't it be the result of an activity that was completely voluntary.

Even though I disagree on the abortion issue, I tried to direct my prayers this Easter to the Obama administration. I want to see good come to this country and wish the administration the best. I hope they will try to follow God's lead and take time to truly discern what that lead might be. It is a truly difficult job to run a country and try to make time for God and family. I hope that his family will grow even stronger through this challenge of leadership. I hope that I (as well as others) will find time to ask for blessings to this country and seek common ground with everyone. If we can't find ways to show compassion and support, each side will feel defensive and move farther from the other. I believe that just as strongly as I believe that showing facts instead of simply expressing anger and hurt will help bridge gaps. Hopefully you enjoy the cartoon below that has some interesting facts that hopefully offer constructive criticism.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Choosing a doctor

Two or three years ago, I chose an ob/gyn doctor based on a Catholic newspaper article. My doctor made the front page and the article went on to say he had recently changed his practice to natural family planning only. I was warned when I made the first phone call that he would not prescribe the birth control pill. I was excited by that statement because I was looking for an alternative to what the nurse practitioner at my college had said - "the only way to get rid of cramps is to go on the pill"
I can't speak for anyone else, because I know a lot of women accept that statement but I was not buying it. There has to be a solution that did not involve me swallowing hormones every day to stop pain on one or two days. My doctor works with me and examines possible causes instead of just putting me on medicine that he hopes will work.

Why am I bringing this up now? Most of the people I know have heard this story because I feel so blessed to have found my doctor. The pro-choice movement is pushing to make it mandatory for all doctors to refer for abortions and prescribe birth control. My question is why? Why make it mandatory when women could choose a different doctor? After all, I was warned before I made my appointment. Why make it mandatory when people like me are glad to have someone on their side? My doctor knows and understands the family planning method I use. He can support me and answer questions if I am having problems with it whereas other doctors might say it's too hard and recommend artificial contraception instead. I can only hope that the policy changes don't go through. If they do go through, I pray that good doctors like mine don't leave the practice and new ones enter despite the harder circumstances.

Sunday, April 5, 2009


One of the great things about my lifestyle is....Sundays are full of rest. There is one day a week when I don't have to feel guilty or lazy about taking a nap and having a laid back day. God even took time to rest. I hope everyone had a wonderful time on this Palm Sunday. Blessings to all during Holy Week.

As part of our Sunday of relaxation and retreat, my husband and I watched part of a video on NFP. It is part of our training, but not an overly strenuous task for a Sunday. One theme was brought up - stress can affect charts and/or fertility. I definitely experienced that when I was taking classes and planning a wedding (somewhat stressful). I think taking a day each week helps - emotionally and, as I was reminded today, physically as well. However, I found another way you can combat stress...

Here are my thoughts and prayers that everyone was able to rest today and start Holy Week refreshed and rejuvenated.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

What's in a name

I thought I would explain the title I chose for my blog. I feel like a good part of my identity right now is my young age and being pro-life. Only the title is not entirely true - I won't be 24 for about two more weeks. Since college I have volunteered in a couple different areas and there is a common theme - I am the youngest or one of the youngest ones. That theme has continued in my NFP and pro-life work. People are almost shocked to see me. I network with friends of my parents and their friends.

Example - I went to a neighboring area's Life dinner and saw my mom's best friend. Once I told her why I was there she insisted on introducing me to all her friends in the organization. None of them were in their 20s. I am learning from many great people with so much more life experience. I feel blessed to be part of this movement.

Happy note for the end of the week - the UN did something right for this cause. Delegates of numerous nations at the Commission on Population and Development stood up to say abortion should not be included and was not a right that automatically fell under "sexual and reproductive health and rights." In the end, the phrase was not accepted into the document because many delegates felt it would lead to allowing abortion.

Friday, April 3, 2009

What did I get myself into?

That is a question that I have asked myself for the last couple months. Since I graduated college I have had the luxury of a lot of free time - working part time as a substitute gives you that. However, since the end of January I have:

1. joined the pro-life movement and jumped straight to VP
2. committed myself and my darling husband to training for NFP teachers
3. Taken on the permanent building substitute job (no more choosing to take the day off)
4. Started working with a spiritual director (which helps me process all of this)

Why did I do all of this at once? Well I have a few answers. Taking part in Natural Family Planning is in itself a pro-life lifestyle since I am open to the possibility of bringing a new life into this world at any time. My spiritual director is keeping me accountable for doing my best in both areas. And working everyday will help save money for when the time comes to either buy a house or start a family. So I guess what I am trying to say is that my life feels like it is going in fast forward the last couple months but all with one goal -

Fight for the Sanctity of all human life

All my involvement stemmed from learning about Natural Family Planning over time. I have learned a lot more about Theology of the Body as well and I wish more people were talking about this topic on a regular basis. Being part of the organic movement, it is nice to know that there are ways to live my life that work with what God has given me instead of fighting against it. I feel healthier and happier since I learned how to monitor the signs of my body. I also feel truly blessed that my husband is committed to the lifestyle and that I found it very easy to learn and use NFP.

Last, I thought I would explain that I put a picture of a flower on my blog instead of my picture to represent life. I can't wait for spring to truly arrive and flowers remind me of that new birth. The picture was taken by my husband while he was studying in Australia.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Why I am blogging...

I experienced the best day of my life just over 9 months ago. I got married to the love of my life and everything changed forever. I have a partner to support me and encourage me to be better. A lot of that encouragement is directed to my volunteer work. When I am discouraged by my pitiful paycheck (from substitute teaching) or criticized for my lack of focus on finding a career, he reminds me that he wants to support us and make sure that, as a family, we are making the time to give back.

I believe my husband's vocation is in leading his family (me) and supporting us whereas my vocation is to give back to the community and support my husband's career goals. I work M-F, but I leave work at 2:30 so that gives me plenty of time for chores, errands, or volunteering.

Now to get to the title of the blog - why am I doing this? I have been inspired by other blogs that are uplifting and spiritual. I have also felt called to do this as a way to calm my mind and get my thoughts out. Most of my posts will be related to the two main causes that I have recently joined. The first group I joined is part of the pro-life movement. The group was just starting up when I joined so I am already one of the officers and I look forward to helping the group grow.

The second commitment I have put upon myself and my husband is learning how to teach Natural Family Planning (NFP) classes. We went through the class ourselves a year ago and have experienced how it can truly bless a marriage. I can't wait to use my teaching skills to inform and encourage others to consider this method of family planning.

There is so much information on both pro-life issues and NFP that I am overwhelmed and feel that it will help me to write about them. Maybe, in the process, I will help someone else someday, somewhere.