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.