Wednesday, June 9, 2010

I'm moving!

To a different blog site

First of all, I am no longer 24 and so the title is a bit of a lie (I really didn't think the blog would last until I was 25).

Secondly, my interests have shifts and so have my writing inspirations.
I don't see my identity as "pro-life" anymore. Of course I am still passionately pro-life, but it is so much more than that. My ideas on life and how to live it have changed. I identify even more with my Catholic faith and how to live in it by understanding Theology of the Body and being authentically female (some may call that New Feminism). So I have decided to write about how my days are effortlessly complicated as I try to follow my faith and my heart to live out my calling.

So if that sounds interesting at all, feel free to follow me over at www.effortlesslycomplicated.blogspot.com since this will be my last post here.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Friday Reflection

It's been an interesting week. I dropped my husband off at the airport on Monday and won't see him until Sunday. I have been busy (if not paid) every day this week and I have felt pretty good. All those things individually don't seem amazing but put it together and I'm shocked:

I managed to eat pretty healthy, although I think I forgot how to cook for one because there are tons of leftovers in the fridge and I think I'm going to be forced to throw some out :-(

I truly enjoyed my time helping at the pregnancy center and giving the director a better system for organizing/keeping track of important documents

I made it through the last couple days even though my husband was not around to tell me to take medicine, go for a walk, don't eat chocolate, etc. to keep my mind off the pain. This month it just wasn't there - I mean dull ache but I don't even know if I can count that. It may not be as fun as one day saying I'm pregnant and don't have to think about cramps (lots of other things instead), but it is comforting to know I have a routine filled with workouts, vitamins, and more that makes my life more bearable. And even more excited to know I found a natural way to deal with it that didn't involve lots of artificial hormones - yay!

I'm also excited for summer to come! Have a great weekend everyone

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

truly pro-life

There is nothing more exciting than being open to life and where it leads you. Today it led me to the priviledge of watching my 10 wk old neighbor all day while her mom had to go back to work. Her mom is a school teacher and has different people watching her each day for the 14 days she was required to work, then she gets to be home for the summer.

Well we had a great morning so I thought we would go out somewhere and boy is it exciting getting all the attention a newborn draws! Everyone comes up and smiles and the world is a nicer and happier place. That is all the argument or experience I need to be pro-life. These babies are our future, and even if we are not their mothers, we have a responsibility to take care of them and the world around them. Maybe it is for this reason that I try to stay out of the political and look more at the social aspects of being pro-life. What are people thinking and why? How can we show what great blessings children are and how much the world misses the ones that were taken?

I guess today I just need to share a smile and time with a precious little girl. Who knows what tomorrow will bring.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Finally...a decision

It is so good to know I made a decision about something. I didn't realize how much it had been draining me until after I made an action plan and stuck with it. I am re-energized and actually looking forward to the summer when I'll have too much time off. I found something I am excited to do in those slow weeks which fits my passions and the causes I want to help succeed. Are you ready for it?

I'm organizing.

Yes, that is right. I have talked about my organizing hobby before and I watched Oprah last week (something I never do but won't go into why - too long/controversial) because Peter Walsh was on it. What? He doesn't have the name recognition of Tom Cruise or Julia Roberts? Well he does in my book because he is my favorite professional organizer and he used to be on the show called Clean Sweep.

Okay, well I guess I'm not "professional" because I am a volunteer, but I am helping at a pregnancy center. The director asked for my personal help and said she has had difficulty organizing her office since things got rearranged in the beginning of the month, do I have any organization skills? How perfect! It feels a little like God is rewarding me for making a hard decision and sticking with it. Maybe it is more an answer to my prayer and an opportunity to serve, but I'm loving it all the same. It is good to know that my random talents/interests are needed somewhere.

Can't wait to help someone else and get out of the self-focused, decision making mode! I think I made a good decision but, unfortunately that came at the cost of being a little more self-absorbed than usual. Hopefully I find a way to serve others today instead of mope about because my husband will be gone for a week.

Hope everyone had a wonderful Memorial Day and thanks to all our veterans and service men and women!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Friday Reflection (one day early)

Well I'm a bit early, but I thought I would write today. I am the type of person that wants to see things through. I don't want to leave work with a project half finished and I definitely don't want to leave a group when I feel like accomplishments have not yet been made. It has been a stressful decision for me to make and I feel like no matter what the outcome it will be wrong.

Wrong for me to stay because I'm not being supported and wrong to leave because I don't want to abandon anyone. But abandon who? Who has done the work that I have offered as a way to move forward? I have made a difference in my pro-life group? I'm not sure. And yet, I was basically offered to be president of the group for the second time. Everyone else is too busy...and then there is me without a full time job or kids.

My pride says I should stay and get everyone excited and involved. My pride says I'm the only person for the job and it would be wrong to walk away. My emotions say run! The meetings are making you weak emotionally and spiritually. No personal goals have been achieved through my involvement in this group and I should promote NFP more. Afterall, I am most passionate about that since it provides an educated way to regulate family size without the chance of conceiving and miscarrying because of artificial means. Isn't that what I talk about most?

I can't just wait this out anymore...that is exactly what other officers are doing I realized. We're all waiting it out to see who steps up. So I'm down to this, either I should step up or step out. No more halfway. Either decision is going to be hard and I think I know which one it should be - I just don't like it.

Ok, I know we have all had tough decisions like this. Where did you find comfort and wisdom? I'm running out of places to look.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Happy 50th Anniversary

Many of you know the 50th anniversary of the pill was this month (at least widespread legal use of it). I'm a little late, but at least I'm in the right month. Many people have also written about this topic and what is popular or common belief now. Mainstream culture may have celebrated the anniversary, but at least one WSJ article talked about a lot of the facts. Seeing those facts brings me back to the summer I spent on researching the topic before the pill was widely available - all the way back to the 20s. Basic conclusion is still the same - contraception won't and can't solve all the social problems it promises to do away with (i.e. unexpected pregnancies). And as I linked to earlier in the comparison to smoking - there are also serious health risks.

Some other promises of birth control have also not been realized. "Sexual freedom" is not a reality because the physical bonding ties us to our "partners" and the more partners we have, the less satisfying the "bond" experience. Freedom should not limit bonds and trust. Artificial BC can do both. Not to mention the fact that women still must deal with unplanned pregnancies even if using the pill. It's a hard truth to face, but here is another one:

NFP never seems to get noticed. A scientifically based method of spacing/preventing births is ignored or seen as backward church talk. People don't think about the lack of side effects, free cost and life benefits received by practicing self-control. Even so, some sex-therapists recommend periodic abstinence as a way of rekindling romance. If it's available every day - no big deal. If some random days are picked to abstain the waiting builds anticipation (and maybe romance) and anticipation leads to greater satisfaction. If only that could be combined with a natural way of postponing pregnancy.....oh wait, that is exactly what NFP does? Amazing!

Motivation

Sometimes it is hard to stick with the same cause if you feel like you are going nowhere. I'm sure just about everyone in politics or other social movements have felt that way at some time or another. You can't change people - they have to want it and you definitely can't change society overnight. I may not see all the change that happens, but it is nice to get some positive feedback.

Yesterday I was quite productive, but two of the highlights among many house chores were talking with a fellow NFP teacher who is very excited about the first set of classes she taught which resulted in friendships and finishing my first series of classes by having a couple over for dinner (then class) who missed last week. It was nice to have that social outlet after cleaning all day and got me motivated enough to come to this blog :-)

Another "highlight" from last week's class is that I caught a student making a comic strip about smoking and asked how it was related to class. He tried hard to make it fit, and I remembered that I read something linking the two subjects. So here is that link written by thatmarriedcouple - always finding great resources and making my life a little easier!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Patience and Acceptance

Well, I don't feel like I have solved all the world's problems or figured out what I am going to do with the rest of my life. I didn't have an ah ha! moment but I've had a few small ones. Unfortunately the small ones seem to tell me I do have to work on patience (can that lesson speed up already?) and a bit a acceptance. It seems to be possible that I already "know" what I am called to do but I don't like it as much anymore.

It is easy to be excited when you are just starting out and there are new people to meet. the new pro-life group that was so young and enthusiastic, hasn't gotten very far and seems to be dwindling. I don't live in the city where they meet and I'm not the most outgoing so I don't seem to be the best fit for the job - luckily I didn't become president and feel comfortable in my role as secretary, but I am itching to do something new and exciting. I'm anxious to reach more people with my message. So right now all I know is I can't give up and I'm searching for inspiration. If anyone has a good book recommendation or other insight let me know. In the meantime, I still love reading your blogs :-)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Living a Calling

I don't know about you, but sometimes I can get a bit overwhelmed. I just went on a cruise and briefly visited a third world country. It is such a difference and reminds me of how blessed I am. However, I'm only one person so I can't save that country - but what can I do? Yesterday I read from the book Here and Now by Henri Nouwen and the excerpt was on this topic exactly! What a lucky coincidence or sign.

It is easy to get so overwhelmed by all the good that needs to be done - save the poor, care for the sick, educate the uneducated, donate to a gazillion charities and then try to enjoy time with friends and family. How can it all be done? Easy answer - it can't. Henri Nouwen put it just that simply - you can't do it all. Oh the nerve of him to assume I can't give myself to eight charities at once while also going on trips to help communities in Africa which is all very true. That much was easy to accept, but what should I do?

This was the hard part. Be patient and wait to be led to your calling. Discern where you need to be and give your all to that vocation. Not everyone is called to the same vocation so that we can all have an impact where we are instead of all being spread too thin. Problem is, I prayed and prayed and God gave me direction. Yippee! I know what to do - but that was a year ago and I feel lost again. I haven't changed the name of this blog yet even though I'm 25 because I don't know if I will stay with it or if the topic will change slightly. It has already changed because when I started I tried to keep religion out of life issues but without it there just isn't a compelling reason to make sacrifices like caring for a baby when you hadn't planned on it - if only for 9 months until you give it up for adoption.

In any case, I seem to be back in a period of discernment and so I don't get distracted I probably won't post again for a while until I know there is a purpose for it. Hopefully I find/realize something soon because I really don't like working on the virtue of patience ;-)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Back to Reality

Well I definitely enjoyed my trip. It was nice to live in the moment for 2 weeks. I didn't have to think about how we were going to make it to a new destination - I just went to sleep and woke up in one. Oh the wonders of cruising I discovered, but I won't rub your face in it much longer. Just for the time it takes for a short reflection.


While every spot was great, my favorite was Pompeii because you really got a good idea of how people lived as opposed to seeing an ancient site in the middle of a modern city. The picture above is actually a hot food restaurant, think ancient McDonald's. I met some great people including a number of newlyweds who were pretty close to us in age and I got spoiled with the tea selection on board - at least two cups a day. I went to the store today and didn't find the kind I was looking for :-(

Okay okay, actual reflection now. It was nice living in a fantasy world, no worries and amazing experiences like our fabulous window overlooking the shopping area of the ship (great people watching spot). No responsibilities like laundry and planning things to do - everything is taken care of for you. It was nice to feel loved and care for, but the ship doesn't really care for your spirit. There was a chapel but there were no Christian services for the two Sundays we spent on board. One was at sea all day so we definitely couldn't get to Mass and the other was in Egypt - just as unlikely, so we had a service ourselves with the Sunday readings and boy were they needed! Other than that, I got really lazy and I'm paying for it now. I'm too wired to sit and reflect even thought that is something I love doing.

So I have tried to reflect and think about what is worth writing about. I think my trip came at the perfect time. I stopped over analyzing all the little decisions I am trying to make and remembered to enjoy life in the here and now. No thoughts about buying a house or what to do about where and when I am volunteering (am I in the right place or not?). All I did was enjoy lots of quality time with my husband going to shows and having dinner with different people every night. The ship was also so calming that my mood swings were greatly diminished and I was surprised to have cramps when I got home because my usual early warning signs weren't there. Even though at this point I was most definitely back to reality, I felt grateful. I was given such a blessing that I could handle one day of suffering. I could pick up my cat (whom I missed) and be thankful that I have people (and cats) to love and take care of me. My marriage is great and re-energized by the trip and we get along pretty well even in my trials because he is so good at taking care of me. We are not stressed by the pain (at least not yet) because it does not mean we are infertile. There are many couples that have it worse than us. My reality really isn't so bad and I'm glad to be back.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Angels & Demons

Well this post is more serious than I will be in Sicily, Italy! It is the last stop on our cruise. We will have one day at sea and then I'll be on my way home. Maybe I will take time to do a Friday reflection...maybe not. Hope everyone has enjoyed the blast from the past (year old posts) and update on my location. Can't wait to tell everyone about it!

Usually, you would think those two beings are opposites. Would anyone mistake an angel for a demon? Certainly they wouldn't in pictures - one usually has thorns on its head and the other white wings. One is all good and one is inherently bad.

Unfortunately, in real life, angels and demons can easily be confused. Something may sound really good, but is it just because of the careful wording that is being used? Universal, rights, liberties and justice all look like "angelic" words. We forget that those words can also be used for evil to an extreme - Hitler arguing that justice involved killing innocent people. It is easy to point out the extremes of the past and say "of course that was wrong," but Hitler won political power before he started his radical killing spree. People of the time did not understand everything that was going on and many supported him.

So I ask anyone that reads this - how do you figure out who/what is an angel or demon? How do you explain to someone that something that is seen as incredibly bad by the media is not actually that way? Are we on the right track as a country/world or are there some things that are slipping by us that will have serious consequences later? The dichotomy of angel v. demon may be a bit extreme - but I think calling pro-life advocates terrorists is pretty extreme as well. A true pro-life person is someone who respects everyone's individual right to life - whether a healthy 20 yr old going to school, an elderly grandma, a baby in the womb, or even a criminal. How can standing up for life be a terrorist action? How are we causing terror? I was reminded twice yesterday that pro-lifers are terrorists and that has me wondering why? Any help would be appreciated - the concern of mine is that the movement will be even easier to dismiss once it is widely labeled as a terrorist organization (has that already happened?).

Monday, May 3, 2010

Information...

This quote is a bit out of date - but I'm pretty sure she holds the same views now as I do. This was originally posted last May. This May I have just finished an overnight tour of Egypt seeing lots of amazing ancient wonders! Maybe I'll have to post pictures when I get back.

We live in a world today that is full of information. It is staggering how much information you can find on the internet - and I am hopefully adding to that just a bit. In an age with so much information available - and free internet access at libraries - how can we say that people are denied access to information? It is out there if you are willing to look for it. I think this is one of the greatest steps mankind has made in the last century but it comes with a cost. There is so much information out there that the problem is not finding some, the problem is getting too much to go through. I look at something related to sanctity of life every day and I am still far from an expert on all the current debates happening right now. With that as my understanding, I found this comment that Hillary Clinton made at a Planned Parenthood event quite interesting:


[W]e know that Margaret Sanger's work here in the United States and certainly across our globe is not done. Here at home, there are still too many women who are denied their rights because of income, because of opposition, because of attitudes that they harbor. But around the world, too many women are denied even the opportunity to know about how to plan and space their families. They're denied the power to do anything about the most intimate of decisions.


Any time someone says the "world" it is too much for me to process. I do know simple family planning methods have been taught in developing countries and are well received. I don't know where exactly, how often, etc. On the other hand, I can say something with a bit more authority about the United Sates. No one in America is denied the opportunity to learn how to plan their families. There are opportunities online and through books (that libraries lend for free) for women to learn about family planning. Natural Family Planning classes are open to everyone and in my area range from completely free to a one time cost of $75-100. That is much more cost effective for the woman and for the taxpayers. I wish there was a good source to go to for both sides of the story - but each side is going to stick to their own.

The point of the post: don't take anything on the news or from politicians at face value (for either side). Evaluate the facts and do some research before you write them off. That I have done and I finished with more respect for the pro-choice movement. They have good goals: help empower women and improve their health. I just disagree with how they go about reaching those goals. I think empowering women to choose and embrace life while making wise choices in their daily activities is worth fighting for every day. I plan to continue doing just that.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Children

A post from last May...again, my thoughts haven't changed much since I still don't have the experience. Today I will be in Ephesus, Turkey and yesterday I was in Rhodes, Greece

I was asked a question that sounds easy but is incredibly difficult to answer. What excites me most about having children? Before I try to answer, I think a lot of mothers would say their idea of motherhood changed drastically when it went from theoretical to actual. Right now I can have some great dreams and ideas about raising children - but I have no experience.

What is most exciting?
I will be fulfilling my vocation as a wife. One of the 3 intentions stated at a Catholic marriage ceremony is that the couple will willingly accept the children as a gift from God. I am excited that, with the help of God, I will actually create new life - if he grants me that gift. I am excited to see what dreams and interests my children will have and I'm excited to share my love for life with more people. It feels like a natural progression -

1. Get married and strengthen the unifying love between my spouse and I
2. Prepare financially, physically, spiritually, emotionally for another person
3. Create life - the super exciting part
4. Have a child - too mysterious and huge to say I'm excited about A or B

Right now, I am just excited to be defending life and trying to live in a way that is open to life at all stages. Eventually that will bring me to the motherhood. I believe there is no better vocation than accepting and nourishing life - at least no better vocation for me. My mother (and father) have taught me and love me and supported me in so many ways. I'm looking forward to doing the same.

For those who have already entered the motherhood - Happy Mother's Day! Especially to all the new and expecting mothers I know. I hope your weekend is full of joy and quality time with family.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Love

Another great post from about a year ago...I even double-checked the links and they still work :-) Today I am in....Athens, Greece

Yesterday I read about St. Therese of the Child Jesus. She was born in the late 1800s and was named a saint in the early 1900s. Her message was to do everything in love. She wanted all her actions to be done with an attitude of love, no matter how ordinary the task. It is simple yet profound. How do we know what love is and how can we constantly show that love? I know I don't have all the answers, but I know love is not just sitting silent when bad things happen. With that said, my single point for today is that I am trying to love everyone in two ways

By speaking out for those who have no voice.

By educating anyone that will listen about benefits they could see in their life by practicing a natural form of birth control.

Random side note - any words that are a different color than the majority of the text have a link to a helpful website, not everyone reading this has realized that. I put two in this post that were in previous posts that some might have missed

Sunday, April 25, 2010

NFP and intention

Another good one from last April! I was really hardcore then huh? My opinion on this post is still the same and it has been quite a journey trying to "improve" areas of my life to make more room for my future family...still no different news to share from a year ago. And if anyone is curious, today I am touring Pompeii!

Last night, as I was catching up with one of my college friends, I was reminded of a previous conversation we had a month or two ago. It related to the intention of a couple using NFP. When I was learning the method, I remember my teacher saying that you can use NFP in immoral ways, but I don't remember a lot of details on how that is possible. If you aren't using anything artificial, how can the system be immoral?

First of all, I want to say that NFP can be used for more reasons than many people think. Dr. Gregory Popcak (PhD) put it best when he wrote:
The phrase 'grave reasons' comes from a popular - though flawed and unofficial - translation of Humanae Vitae that has caused much harm and misunderstanding. The official Vatican translation from the original Latin reads 'serious reasons.' What constitutes 'serious reasons,' however, is left to the couple to discern. Pope Pius XII indicated that the reasons a couple may choose to prevent pregnancy are 'in truth, very wide.' The Church asks only that every couple give prayerful consideration to 'both their own welfare and that of their children, those already born and those which may be foreseen' as well as to exhibit a willingness to 'reckon with both the material and spiritual conditions of the times as well as their state of life...[and] the interests of the family group, of temporal society, and of the Church herself' (Gaudium et Spes, no. 50) - Gregory Popcak Ph.D Holy Sex: A Catholic Guide to Toe-Curling, Mind-Blowing, Infallible Loving pg.185

Serious reasons can and should include physical, emotional, spiritual and financial needs. The question then needs to be asked: Can we support a new child in all of those ways? If the answer is no, then NFP can be used to avoid pregnancy.

That brings me back to my original question of how NFP can be used immorally. In my understanding, it all comes down to intentions. Is the couple prayerfully considering a family and their ability to care for one? This is where the confusing gray area is found. Only the couple can know where they are at in all the categories above, so the church is necessarily vague in discussing serious reasons. However, if the couple sees children as a bad thing or just an inconvenience, don't they have the same mentality as those using artificial means? It is something that only the couple and God can know for sure. I have to ask myself every month if I am remaining truly open to life. If my heart is closed to the possibility of a new life, the fact that I do not use artificial means to prevent pregnancy is not benefiting me spiritually.

As I stated in an email to my friend after the conversation we had, it is hard for me to answer that question sometimes. In regards to one of the categories, my answer is no and has been for a number of months. On the other hand, saying no to children without trying to improve my life so that I could switch that answer seemed incomplete. Being open to life and really questioning my intentions behind NFP has helped motivate me to live a healthier lifestyle so that I know that I am working toward turning that no into a yes.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Friday Reflection v.1 n.13

During my trip I'm going to schedule a couple of my favorite post from months ago. Reading my early posts re-energizes me because I can remember how passionate I was about both causes then - before some of the struggles and frustrations. This was originally posted last April.

This morning I contemplated something that would cause so many to lose hope. The pro-life movement seems nowhere near its ultimate goal of ending abortion. Many leaders, including President Obama, do not support the movement. Nothing I can do by myself will change that fact. I have never been a dreamer - I am just one person. Uniting with millions more is still not enough for me to think I can change the world.

What keeps the movement going? For some it is belief that what they know to be true will triumph in the end. It is a complicated issue the involves social justice which most people want. Unfortunately, there are many groups in this world that want to achieve justice through their ideas and aren't concerned about other points of view or other developing people. I wish these groups could work togetherbut, all too often, we get stuck arguing over the means with which to get there. One of those means for many people is abortion. I don't see an agreement coming any time soon - but that doesn't mean we should give up and stop seeking a solution. There are unfathomable odds against the pro-life movement and yet the movement just won't go away - kind of like the abolition movement that seemed never-ending.

For me there is something more to it. It is my faith in God that has drawn me to the movement. Anything that happens in the group I help, will be from God, not me. God can handle and fight against the unfathomable - I cannot. Although I don't intend this blog to be "religious" and I am so thankful for all the nonreligious that support the movement, every once in a while it needs to be stated that there is something bigger giving me the strength to give my all to this cause. I could not do it by myself. I would get stressed out and decide it's not worth it - but I know someone who went through much more and stayed true to His faith. Hopefully I can continue to do the same.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Birthday!

Happy birthday to my sister! We turn 25 today. I will be in Rome, she will be in MI. She will get to go to Italy in the fall though...so she has something to look forward to in the near future. I can't believe we're 25. I feel like we should definitely be grown-ups now. I guess we are - married, going on exotic trips when we want, maintaining a house - at least one of us is a homeowner :-) I still feel like I'm "playing" house since I have not financial investment into it.

Well Happy 25th Birthday sis! I hope it is a great one and you have a wonderful weekend after. Can't wait to hear about all the good times and see you in May!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Friday Reflection....

NFP class went great yesterday! I can't think of any details to add. I was a little too overwhelmed because I had a bad day substitute teaching so I just let the evening wash over me without being super analytical - crazy right? I prayed for maybe a minute and just sensed I was supposed to go next door and just play piano. Maybe God knew he would lead me and my head would distract me. Playing piano was the most peaceful time in the moments before class. I wasn't thinking about worst-case scenarios and I wasn't concerned about setup - yet. I just got to play - poorly at that but who could hear?

Now, I am in the middle of another not-so-great sub job but who cares? I am leaving for Rome next week and I get two birthday dinner/celebrations leading up to it! That means less cooking/mess for me to deal with while trying to get started on that packing thing....

Hope everyone has a great weekend and week! I scheduled posts to come up while we're gone - you can check in to see where I am and what I wrote a year ago. Otherwise, the next post I write won't be until after mother's day. So to all you mothers out there - congrats, thank you and all those nice things to wish a happy mother's day to you all! You have the best job ever :-D

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

New Volunteer Opportunity

For the past couple months I have been trying to take a step back from my life. I tried to let myself move to the background so that I could be led in the right direction. So many times I have thought "I should do this" and then go fulfill my wishes without looking back. Many of those things have been good, but maybe not the best. Maybe I could have done something better or more exciting instead of having blinders on until I decided I finished the task.

On the other hand, my husband the chef is quite the opposite. He has to approach multiple angles multiple times before coming to a decision in the first place. This is a great skill to have, even if it is not the most convenient when shopping for a new camera or at the grocery store. I know what I want and I'm ready to be done while my husband has barely started.

Now that you have both stories maybe you'd like to know the why behind it. I have tried to follow my husband's method of making a decision and realized I'm not very good at it. There is too much time for doubt and confusion to slow me down. Wait, wasn't that the point in the first place? Oh yes, well it's been months on the same question and I just can't get a clear answer - although I just might have today. Should I fade out of one group to have more time to volunteer for another? That is the months old question. Today, on the day when I put another commitment before my commitment to be at a meeting, I got an email about a volunteer opportunity. I didn't ask for the email or contact the group in quite a while, but I got the email on the day I am "skipping" the meeting for the group in question for something at church.

hmmm....hmmmm.... something else to ponder on my trip - maybe ;-D

Monday, April 12, 2010

People v. Property

Last night I finally watched the movie Amazing Grace about the slave trade in England. It was a great movie and I truly enjoyed it. It also got me quite hopeful. Here was a story of someone who was going against the weight of the world. The slave trade was necessary even if it was evil and, what's more, it was completely legal and supported by the government. After all, society would fall apart if slaves did not produce sugar because the economy would not survive.

In so many ways, the movie seemed to parallel the fight in which I am involved.
Movie/slavery: "property" was needed to increase economic stability
My life/abortion: "property" is private and needs to be disposed of to increase economic and emotional stability

Movie: it was taboo to bring the subject up in polite company, because of course William Wilberforce was crazy to think he could bring about change in a matter of private property - even if hundreds die on each trip to the West Indies
Life: Of course it is crazy to think government will change on the subject of abortion because it is a matter of privacy, not a matter of killing millions of babies

Movie: years of evidence of unsanitary conditions, opposition, cruelty and deaths did not work very quickly - more like decades
Life: years of evidence of life (especially in the last trimester when the baby is viable) has not led to more restrictive rules

I wonder if my life story will turn out the same - not that I will be the modern day Wilberforce, but that a change will come. It doesn't seem any less likely or less than the slavery issue. After all, they were property too.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Friday Reflection v. 1 n. 12

A year in blogging...

Well with the occurrence of Good Friday I missed the fact that it was my one year anniversary on here. Silly me, I was at church instead. I had a great Easter weekend and then an admittedly non-great Easter week (see previous post). So it is hard to reflect more on my insanity than I already did yesterday. Instead I'll reflect on this blog. It has helped me see how I have changed and stayed the same in my convictions. It has shown me how I can be led in a different direction than what was thought a year ago. News flash: I can't predict the future - can you believe it?

So I guess, overall, it has been a good thing to do this. On the other hand, I'm still unsure of what I want to do once I am actually 25 and prolife. Keep the same blog, have it be something more like 24/7 prolife, go in a different direction? Not sure...I have a few weeks and a trip of a lifetime to weigh my options.

In the meantime, a trip down memory lane and a post from a little over a year ago.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

A pro-life use for the pill

A long one...but necessary to show my point that the pill can help someone be more pro-life. This is still an exception as you will see my "exceptional" story below. We have a medical solution to the pain of endometriosis and we, even as conservative Catholics, are free to use it with specific guidelines.

Some readers may remember my three options to ease menstrual pain resulting in my decision for surgery last summer. It seemed an easy one to make at the time. I didn't want to live with the pain, and I didn't want to go on the pill. I'll take surgery please. I like using NFP so I know what is going on with my body. I know when I'm ovulating, I'm not suppressing my happy hormone that helps me do so, and I know when I can and cannot get pregnant. Let's not have that change.

However, even in my NFP classes, we teach that the pill can be prescribed for medical reasons. We can try supplements and even surgery first, but sometimes it is hard to find the cause and the pill may be the best source of relief. Starting a hormonal pill can balance out your body and hopefully even after you come off things will be better.

I chose surgery to diagnose the problem - endometriosis. I also found out that it can be caused by estrogen imbalance and cod liver oil (or other fish oil) supplements can increase that problem. Solution (treatment to prevent recurrence): get pregnant or try supplements, exercise and progesterone if necessary. Well I have tried all three (not the pregnancy part) and gotten nowhere.

NFP doesn't make life perfect and supplements don't always help. Even with my lifestyle changes, I still could be classified as having PMDD - meaning I can't function. At this point, I not only have pain but awful mood swings and anxiety attacks. By my charts, I know it is basically the week before my next cycle. It must be hormonal right? But increasing the progesterone doesn't help the emotional part and adds extreme fatigue to the mix. What is a girl to do? No pregnancy to blame the hormonal insanity on and no support from mainstream culture who would have put me on the pill 5 years ago.

If I could talk to my May 2009 self, I might advise the pill. I knew then and still know now it can be pro-life if used with periodic abstinence. I also know that my definition of pro-life includes many different things including quality of life. What can I do to make myself healthier - oddly enough that may have, and still could be, the pill. If I can't function for almost a week at a time, then it is hard for me to get outside myself and live a good example.

I don't regret my decision because I couldn't see into the future, but I would advise people in a similar situation to think about the option long and hard and not judge those who take the "easy" way out. No way is easy, and the goal is overall health. If over the counter supplements and progesterone do not help, the pill just might. I'm still reaching for that goal and I'm once again weighing my options.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Voices of Silence

In college I took the required English class and my professor called it "Voices of Silence." I thought it was an interesting name and signed up. Oddly enough, we ended up watching movies like Fight Club and Silence of the Lambs of which I have totally lost the relevance by now. Even so, it was nice to reflect on how voices get silenced and we even got to do some fun meditative exercises as well. It was nice to have my "job" include sitting outside quietly 15 minutes. I wish someone would force me to do that again.

When I get stressed, I tend to shut off that reflective "silent" voice and go on autopilot. Ironically it's that silent voice that gets "silenced" by the noise of everyday life. Holy Week was busy with church events and choir rehearsals. Lots of family events and gatherings on Sunday. All those were great things, but things that are somewhat loud in my manner of thinking. Although I loved seeing family and celebrating Easter, my usual Sunday routine is church and then relaxation at home - no visitors.

As crazy and anti-social as that might sound, it has been a system that helps me keep my cool and gives me the quiet moment I need to go outside myself the rest of the week and try to help others at school, with NFP and in the pro-life group. Good thing I get a week break after Easter then huh? I have had the quiet time to plan out what needs to be done at the next board meeting. I have been in contact with half my NFP students checking up. I have also had time to sit down and think and go to Mass. What does God want me to do. I still feel mixed signals with the pro-life group but great feedback about NFP. Not sure what it means yet...but I will have a trip of a lifetime in two weeks to step back a bit and think about it. Have I announced that here? Two weeks from today I fly to Rome and spend my 25th bday there before getting on a ship headed for other parts of Italy, Greece, Turkey and Egypt. Then I guess I won't be "24" and prolife anymore so not sure what I'm going to do with this blog....but I'll definitely share highlights from the trip :-D

Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday Reflection v. 1 n. 11

This week I have truly been reflecting on two major things.

1. That people are more bold in blogs than in real life. Yep, I'm stating the obvious. We find a similar group of people and build each other up. Frankly, most of the blogs I read and most of my readers have a similar ideology when it comes to life issues so this isn't a great resource for learning new things and understanding different perspectives. I have to realize, different perspectives and winning people over with different views is not my objective. It would be hard to measure and frustrating to analyze. not doing that is okay, blogging is nice for reading what different people think and that I am not alone.

That being said...I will address number two knowing I'm not going to change the world from online.

2. In my lenten devotional book I came across an interesting quotation:
When I feed the poor, they call me a saint. But when I ask why there are poor, they call me a Communist ~ Archbishop Dom Helder


Going about daily life and trying to help the less fortunate is seen as a great thing. Following the rules of your job and staying employed is the responsible thing to do. The point of the reflection was to see if we have the courage to ask the question why. Why do you review employees in this way because it seems an unfair assessment. Great question to ponder. It led me back to the prolife movement and how I seem to be losing some of my drive to speak up.

When I help at a pregnancy center - people all think I'm amazing for volunteering in a needed area when so young. When I bring up NFP or my pro-life involvement I get reminded that contraception is necessary and life in the city slums is not good and should not be imposed upon the growing baby so abortion is a "necessary" evil. I could be labeled a right wing extremist or worse no matter if I routine vote for that party or not. I don't think the Archbishop wanted to be called a communist and I don't want to be called a conservative wacko. But my question, when and why did abortion become "necessary"? Why is the pill and other abortifacient methods of birth control become necessary? Even that question doesn't seem to be enough. Once the why is discovered the next question is how - how do we change? The answer does not seem to be available online

Thursday, March 25, 2010

New Life


I am not one to take lots of pictures. Even when I take my camera somewhere, I don't take the time to pull it out. On the other hand, when my neighbor (who was currently in labor) calls and mentions first that there are 6 - yes 6! - baby foxes in the backyard I had to grab my camera and try to get a picture. Believe it or not, this picture was taken by me from my backyard. There was a group further back in the trees that just could not be caught very well on film.

Oh wait - my neighbor was in labor. The second thing she mentioned was that she should probably leave for the hospital soon and could I possibly watch her daughter and nephews while the family was at the hospital. Sure - but should I drive you since your husband isn't here? Nope. Less than four hours after arriving at the hospital and healthy baby girl was born. What an exciting day! Now, after babysitting and meeting family members who were gushing over the little one's big first day, I am exhausted and off to bed before 10 o'clock so I can get to work at 7am. Hope everyone else is enjoying their week!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Busy Life..blessed life

Well today I feel busy - I worked all day and went grocery shopping than went over to the neighbors and took their adorable daughter off their hands. Yep, I'm babysitting and watching her draw in one of my journals - now playing with a stuffed animal....now....got to go!

Yesterday I felt lazy and lonely. I had been sick over the weekend and decided to take the day off so I wouldn't give germs to the kids. Too bad I had nothing to do and no one to talk to for most of the day. It is nice to know that either way doesn't last. I have moments of relaxation and if I was never busy it would be upsetting. Another little life moment to remind me how blessed I am and how much I love little lives like my 2 year old neighbor ;-D

Friday, March 19, 2010

Friday Reflection v. 1 n. 10

This week was long and busy for me. Our parish had a mission and I went through PAC training yesterday to interview candidates who want a pro-life endorsement. With all that going on, I didn't find the extra time at church all too relaxing and revitalizing. I did however, take the time to visit with my neighbors when they had their 3 year old daughter come knock on my door.

No worries that I was doing dishes while pre-heating the oven and planning dinner for my husband so he could eat when he got home. No worries that we were supposed to be at church at 7pm and they knocked on my door sometime around 5:30. It was sunny and we wanted to be outside, talk and draw on the driveway. This neighbor is also 38 wks pregnant - so excited to meet the little one! So even though I had plans after work Mon-Thurs I offered to babysit so they could have a date before they are busy with baby #2. Her response - they are hosting out of town guests (maybe)! Crazy huh? They are way more busy than me and they think social life slows down after kids? I think they just can't remember the weekends because they are so full. So maybe I will babysit tonight....

Reflection though? You can't be prolife and not stop to help those who are living examples of it. I hope that I will get to spend plenty of time with the little ones. I might take some days off from subbing to babysit the baby when she goes back to work in June for a couple weeks until school is out. It would be so wonderful....

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Is NFP too hard?

Now that I have started teaching NFP, I have to think again how to make it appealing to different people. In the class I have four couples and at least two are definitely planning on using the method - the other two are thinking about it. In the beginning of the class we announced the three criticisms
1. It's too hard
2. It doesn't work
3. We're to lazy/forgetful

We also announced that we would address all of them to the point where everyone could feel comfortable/safe using the method. Here is a post I originally wrote last summer addressing the first concern.

The biggest question/concern people have approached me with is the perceived idea that NFP must be too hard to follow - especially as newlyweds. I have a couple friends getting married in the near future and have had discussions with one. She seemed to like the idea behind NFP and the natural way it works - but thought it would be too hard to follow so she didn't want to risk it.

To everyone that is already married - think back to when you were just dating. Those of you that aren't married yet won't have to think back too far! There is excitement and a drive to go out and do new things or explore new places. My husband and I took part in a lot of different activities and date nights to keep the relationship interesting before getting married. We took dance lessons and impressed guests at the reception with our salsa moves. We still make a lot of time for new activities and outings with friends. With NFP there is a wonderful cycle of courtship and honeymoon periods that keep the relationship exciting and fresh. Even secular therapists are proposing times of abstinence to spice up the relationship. Granted there are some days when many couples would say it is easier said than done, but those same couples would take the next sentence to explain all the benefits and excitement the method brings.

I want to mention one such story very briefly. This is a couple that was first using the pill and then learned NFP. When using the pill they took their relationship for granted and were filled with the usual excuses (busy, tired, etc). When they started using NFP they knew there would be times of abstinence and made an effort to adjust schedules to make sure they could be with each other. In the end, they were/are together more often since starting NFP.

I have to agree with them that NFP helps keep me from taking things for granted. It has actually helped me change my point of view in other aspects of my life to truly appreciate each day that I am given. When I take the time to think about it, I am so filled with joy that I want to spread the knowledge and true happiness that I have and I am glad that I can do just that through this site.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Friday Reflection n. 9

Yesterday was an eventful day as was Wednesday evening. I'm not sure how I scheduled these back to back, but Wednesday I led the meeting for my pro-life group and Thursday I taught my first NFP class! Both evenings went really well even though there were some personal struggles behind the scenes.

Highlights - I kept everything on time and I got other people involved. Many people had input during the meeting and my husband did a great job teaching some of the most crucial points - hopefully that meant the guys listened closely.

Some more good news - even though some of the couples were required to be there everyone had a good attitude, paid attention and each couple even took the time and effort to ask clarifying questions. That seems to point to the fact that I kept their attention. My husband did great offering a few stories of his own and I made some references to experiences and myths as well including a bit of my health story and fascination with the show I didn't know I was pregnant. Now that they are in my class - they definitely won't be on that show :-D

Now my only question as I reflect on the experience is was I clear enough? I hope since questions were asked the girls will go home and confidently start charting, but I know I was a bit overwhelmed and stressed by it after my first class. I guess I'll find out the answer to that question after next class. Although the week was busy and stressful, I'm glad I was able to inform couples that the 98-99% rate is accurate, tested and in the physician's desk reference and if numbers aren't helpful my anecdotal evidence is pretty strong as well. What was the highlight of your week?

Have a great weekend everyone!

Monday, March 8, 2010

New Motivation

My husband and I went on a really fun date night this weekend - chaperoning a youth group lock-in. My husband was mistaken for a student and I was mistaken for 29 years old. For those of you that know me (and youthful face :-D) you may be shocked about that. Most people were guessing based on my involvement in pro-life ministries. It was good to see the youth involved and my husband got to play basketball and rock band so he was happy.

While on door duty, one of the Catholic members of my group asked me if I had kids or when I would be trying to do that. As always, I didn't give an exact answer but I did say that my husband and I would be teaching natural family planning this Thursday. He was curious how that could me "on my heart" when I didn't have kids so I said it was a natural way to know when a woman could or could not get pregnant. Apparently that is not a clear explanation because he asked if I was on BC. I was reminded why I started this even when it seems like people are not interested and re-motivated to publicize more. People need to make an informed decision and they don't know about all their options!

Even Catholics who were married in the church in the last 10-15 years have no idea that NFP has advanced scientifically past the dreaded rhythm method. It barely gets mentioned in Catholic parishes so how do we change that? Does anyone belong to a parish or in an area where the information is presented to more than just engaged couples or those who search for it? That is a dream of mine - for it to get out there. I keep hoping that it will get more popular with the organic movement so people at least know it's out there and effective.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Friday Reflection n. 8

Surprised by Joy

Although I want to reflect on what a stress it is to go to the doctor, God put something else on my mind for which I am quite thankful. Yesterday I taught math (horribly) but the kids understood. They weren't exactly excited to see me because they have a great teacher and I don't really understand geometry. I vowed to not teach math today and I succeeded! Instead I'm working a half day in a special education classroom so I can get my dose of joyful living. Whenever I go in a special classroom (like when I wrote this post) I am reminded of how easy it is for me to think about so many serious things and forget about life's simple joys. They point those out to me. I can't worry about my past stresses of the week because they are happy to see me and can't wait to show me what they are learning.

On a similar note, my husband seems to be trying to do the same thing for me this week. He bought me roses so I have to stop and smell them and remember all the little blessings I am showered with every day - too many to even list.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Responsible Living

There are many different views of how to start a family. Some say leave it completely up to God. Some say they are ready to get married but definitely not ready to parent so they go to a doctor and get a prescription and some might think about it entirely too much. I really can't say which one is right and I believe all will argue that they are trying to follow the guidelines they believe make up responsible living. While I may be on the "conservative" side of leaving the topic open to prayer and God's guidance, I haven't felt led that way yet.

People and strangers have now really started asking the baby question. I have been married for a little while and I don't even have a full time job so I should cut my losses in the professional world and have babies now until things turn around. At least that was one comment I got. Only that just accounts for finances (or lack of my own) and not my physical or emotional/spiritual health. In my own version of responsible living/parenthood here are some of the things I have adapted to my lifestyle to prepare mind and body for future motherhood:


1. diverse eating habits - before I might say I had fruits and veggies but they were always the same two or three. I have broadened my horizons to squash, cabbage, asparagus, berries, nuts, brussel sprouts, and some I can't even name. That is a bunch more than broccoli and carrots and apples and bananas.

2. more consistent exercise - I'm not going to say how much because all you exercise fanatics will laugh, but it's more than before and that is a start.

3. Doctors appointments among doctor appointments. I want to make sure I am healthy before trying to sustain another human being. These appts included:
1. Neurologist and EEG - check ups from a surgery done in 1999
2. Routine Physical - check blood levels etc to make sure I don't have nutrient deficiencies and that I'm taking the right supplements
3. A bunch of other appts I thought I could get out of the way including an eye exam and trip to the dentist and then second trip for a filling.

Wow, that seems like a lot and I'm only taking care of myself. Hopefully my emphasis on NFP and knowing about my body will help when I feel a call to motherhood and, even if I am part of the 1 out of 7 couples who experiences infertility, I will know I did all that was in my power to prepare for the physical demands of motherhood and even conception. If there is one thing I know from learning/teaching NFP it is that conception is not a right - it is a gift.

If you haven't guessed yet - I have a lot of doctor's appointments this week and I'm trying to convince myself it is worth all the hassle :-)

Friday, February 26, 2010

Friday reflection v.1 n. 7

Wow - Friday already? How did this week go by so fast when I only worked for 3 days. What to reflect on.....humility

So many times we become part of a cause and think "I'm on the right side" and that gets a ball rolling. Well of course I don't have to listen as closely to their argument because I'm right. Well of course everyone should act like me and speak out for the unborn. I would be wrong to sit and do nothing when babies are aborted.

That line of thinking doesn't look very compassionate does it? And unfortunately it sometimes seems to just fall into my head. The lesson in humility I seem to be learning this week is somewhat different from the situation listed above. I think I do try to listen to the other side in the pro-life debate and show compassion for the concerns of others. I am hyper-sensitive to it most of the time because it is such a hot button issue. My problem comes in the every day. When my husband asks me to do him a favor I really think he should do. I didn't even consider it because I didn't want to help, I wanted to watch the olympics instead - they only come every 4 years (or 2 if you count summer). Surely it is okay that I ignore any duties after 8 o'clock so I can watch skiing and skating.

Then at the end of the day I realize most of my day was spent debating about what I wanted to do and not about how I could help others. The attitude seems selfish and arrogant and therefore the word that pops into my head this week is humility. When I took the time to think about it, humility helped me scoop the litter box (one of my husband's daily chores) do laundry and clean dishes when it would have been easy to save them for the next day or not do at all. Hopefully these little steps will help me slowly change my attitude. What did you learn this week?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Following the Crowd

H/T to thatmarriedcouple for pointing out and writing on this great article

The phrase herd mentality is pretty common. People tend to follow the crowd on many things - how else would ladies fashion trends be profitable? I do not have the money to buy many trendy clothes nor do I find it very important, but there are many aspect of my life that are impacted by the herd mentality. The biggest example I can think of is my career path. I am from an upper-middle class family so of course I am going to college. That was never a doubt in my mind even before I had any idea what I wanted to do. If I had really thought about it I might have ended up a hairdresser - one of my more unique childhood dreams as opposed to the very common teacher aspirations. That storyline is unlikely, but possible.

How might we describe a mentality (there are many examples past the herd)? Here is one definition as found in the article titled "Contraceptive Mentality"

A "mentality" exists in a society when enough people react automatically to a situation without thinking of the long-range consequences. "Mentality" describes a pervasive—almost Pavlovian —mindset that is awake to the immediate benefit but asleep to the distant repercussion.
The contraceptive mentality truly fits this definition. People automatically turn to artificial means of contraception to regulate family size. That is what the culture teaches and that is what is assumed by most. I can't blame anyone because I have followed many other types of herd mentalities as well. The immediate benefit is widely advertised - postponing pregnancy/parenthood while the disadvantages are reasoned away. It is hard to get past the mentality that postponing pregnancy is best left to doctors and not to a beautiful and holistic understanding of female anatomy.

If you want to read more I encourage you to go here and read the blog by thatmarriedcouple (in case you missed it) who was able to give a better and wider review of the idea of "contraceptive mentality" than I.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The ease of taking a pill

I am finally reading Fertility, Cycles, and Nutrition by Marilyn Shannon. It is a book published by the Couple to Couple league and has information on how nutrition can improve fertility and overall health - lessen the affect of PMS. If you notice on the website, it is frequently bought together with Optivite PMT which is recommended in the book. Optivite is a multi-vitamin that is specially formulate with those who suffer from PMS. Multiple double-blind studies have shown effectiveness. So why haven't I read this book before? Because it is very technical and overwhelming. I'm reading it to prepare for the class I will teach but I don't think I would force myself to read it otherwise because it is information overload. Back to the PMS topic, I definitely have that issue and I have seen a holistic doctor as well as a NFP-only ob/gyn who know my complaints on the topic. Why have neither brought the vitamin to my attention? Enough about my rant...on to the purpose of this post

There is a non-hormonal vitamin that, when taken daily, lessens the severity of PMS. Irritability, cravings and cramps diminish just by taking this vitamin. As someone who has struggled to eat healthy and exercise with no luck and a surgery to boot, I wish they would replace some of those YAZ commercials with Optivite commercials. It almost seems too good to be true that there would be a vitamin supplement that can have the same beneficial results without the risk of stroke or miscarriage. What I found appealing about the option of the pill last summer was the relative ease - take a pill and you're done. Now I find out I could have switched multi-vitamins and potentially had the same results? wow!


Has anyone actually used this vitamin and if so does it really work?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Friday Reflection v.1 n.6

Today is my last official day of break. I have enjoyed the time to go to mass 3 times this week and get some doctor's appointments out of the way. I still have a few more to go including another EEG - yuck! Haven't had one of those in years. Anyway...back to mass

This morning Msgr. talked about fasting. It seems like in most places that is getting thrown aside - or not feeling like a sacrifice - how is smoked salmon a Friday sacrifice anyway? We concentrate so much on the parts that we forget about the motive. That was the topic today and it got me thinking about pregnancy centers. How does not eating switch over to pregnancy? Let me explain how my mind works.

Fasting has layers and one layer is drawing closer to God, or just becoming a better person. There should be a positive change like increased self-discipline and not a negative one like complaining of hunger. The same layers can be seen in the pro-life movement. Some are so focused on telling the other person/side why they are wrong that they forget the positive change we could be making. That led me to pregnancy centers and a shout out to all those involved with pregnancy centers by donating time, talent or treasures. It is the positive change that makes our movement shine. Another part of the homily talked about how we can have more empathy for the hungry if we experience a little bit of hunger. We can have more empathy for surprised mothers-to-be if we take time to know and help them as opposed to just arguing the politics of the options available to them in this country.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Road Less Traveled

Last Sunday the sermon incorporated the famous Robert Frost poem. There are many different things that road could represent and we were given a few ideas. Being kind to a grumpy co-worker, smiling and having a pleasant conversation with someone who disagrees with you, taking time to volunteer...you fill in the blank.

The sermon as well as the poem gets me into a reflective mood. What road should I travel? Can even tell which is the one less traveled and which one is more common? I don't see a clear fork, it's more like a lot of little twists and turns that have me confused.

I realized I haven't written in here a lot lately. While teaching I didn't seem to find the time, but I have worked 1 day in the past two weeks. Somehow I am still at a loss of what to say. There have been a lot of changes in my pro-life group and I am struggling to discern (meaning it is a bit difficult for me to listen) what I'm meant to do. Maybe I'm not listening because I'm too busy saying "I need to do this.... I need to do that...." So I'm trying to minimize that and listen. That doesn't leave me a lot of time to search around for enlightening "pro-life" blog topics.

I hope everyone chooses and enjoys a road less traveled during this Lenten season and hopefully I will find some inspiring topics to add to that journey.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Friday Reflection v. 1 n. 5

This week was the first true week since my long term position ended. I spent the last two Fridays celebrating my "last" day at that assignment. A week ago it was actually true. I am happy to have the time to relax and get on top of a few things again...one being my quiet/prayer life. With Wednesday being a snow day, I only worked Tuesday so I have had LOTS of time. I've gone shopping (although I only bought groceries) and I've organized a meeting that took place Wednesday and then did all the follow up Thursday.

I also did a bunch of chores/work around the house. Cooking (or re-heating), dishes, laundry, organizing. I enjoy doing all these things (sometimes) but I always feel like "I did nothing" all day. I sure hope that attitude changes before I have kids or I might just live a life of "doing nothing" all day most days! My husband came home this week and asked how my day off was. I responded something along the lines of "fine but I didn't do anything." Then I rattled off a list of 6 or 7 things. Anyone else find this strange or know how I can change my thought process?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

All You need is Love

Lately I have been going back and forth about this blog. At times I feel like I have nothing constructive to say and at other times all the constructive words seem to come out the wrong way. How can you show love online in a blog like this?

I guess it goes back to the fact that I see this as an outlet for me and a way for me to find more great resources while I follow some other great bloggers that discuss the topic occasionally. When I find more inspiration I'll be back and if anyone has a great story they want to share let me know.

Monday, February 8, 2010

A Healthy Diet

In the past couple years I have gotten a lot better at eating veggies and staying away from sweets (sometimes). I am by no means a nutritionist or dietitian but I have tried to make some of the easier changes - snack on fruits instead of chips and add veggies to the dinner menu. Hopefully all this means I am living a healthier life.

Another "healthy" aspect of my life that I mostly take for granted is my knowledge of my cycle. I have seen how some menu and supplement choices have increased the length of my luteal phase and generally balanced out my charts. I also know that this lifestyle choice helps prevent me from putting more chemicals or pills in my body that are unhealthy. I bring this up because I was just reading in a book today that the "pill depletes fertility and pregnancy nutrients, including folate, vitamins A, B6, and Zinc."

The short excerpt on the pill also confirms that yes - many women are ovulating within the first couple months of coming off the pill and 95% by the end of the first year. Many women can get pregnant right away. On the other hand, those nutrients are pretty important for mom and baby so it might be a good idea to wait a while before trying to conceive.

Hopefully reading books like this will help me with my first ever NFP class that I will teach starting next month. You never know what questions you will be asked so I'm trying to catch up on some reading before I start so I will know lots of good resources to turn to for help :-)

Friday, February 5, 2010

Rage v. Serenity (Reflection v.1 n.4)

Which one would you rather have? I would prefer serenity but can be drawn to rage pretty quickly. Wednesday seemed to be one of those days. My co-workers had just finished saying I'm a calm spirit when I just got so mad at all of them. Everyone was looking out for themselves and I was trying to show them how teamwork and communication help keep me calm -would they listen? No. So what does that mean....

I really can't change the situation. Wednesday's response of making the class work a little easier (for my sake), going home, working out and then eating enough to totally negate the workout obviously did not help.

Today I have calmed down with the help of two realizations

1. No matter how much you "respect life" in all its forms, you won't always be in a great environment. That doesn't give you an "out" to stop showing love and kindness

2. The serenity prayer - I have a cross stitched version framed that my great aunt made. You'd think since I pass it every day I would be a "calm spirit" At least I am sometimes right?



God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change
The courage to change the things I can
And the wisdom to know the difference

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

When the Truth Doesn't Help

I realized I haven't posted a lot of new stuff lately. Maybe it is because I had the proverbial log stuck in my eye when others only have some sawdust...

We all know people like this. You talk and they listen - that's the great part. The not so great part - they don't do anything about it. It would be very easy to dismiss them and not even bother - but is that the right thing to do? I talk a big talk and it's hard to live up to the movement all the time. Respect the sanctity of human life doesn't mean just babies. After all - who doesn't love to see little babies? To believe that human life is sacred is to believe all humans are sacred and deserving of kindness and respect.

I was torn about going back today to the assignment I thought was over. I hadn't thought about working in the same classroom for 5 weeks when I was originally signed up for 3. I also hadn't planned to try to change the classroom much because it's not mine to change. However, none of the workers are happy and I have been observing and thinking about things that might help. Instead of going the easy way and saying I'm respecting everyone by just doing what is told, I think I may stick my neck out tomorrow. To put it lightly, the room is quite tense. There are two sides and I tried to keep them connected while I was there. Some things worked, some didn't - but I think the teacher deserves to know what I think and given some loving encouragement to keep trying. Tomorrow is the last day I will work with him...

So, I will talk and he will listen. Of that I am sure. Will my comments be respecting his life and worth? I hope so. Will I take enough time to organize them in a way that will be understandable and compassionate to his struggles with this issue? I hope so. Hopefully with a peaceful meeting I will get the log out of my eye tomorrow. Anyone else have an "ah-ha" moment lately?

Friday, January 29, 2010

Friday Reflection v. 1 n. 3

After this week I am left with two main thoughts

1. I am truly blessed with a privileged life. I don't have a lot of job responsibilities and I am surrounded by people who greatly appreciate the little things I actually do.

2. Everyone is important.

I guess I already know everyone is important. Many people as well as the Bible and other religious books from many religions will teach that in one way or another. It is one thing to read it but it is entirely different to be hit over the head with it. For the past 4 weeks I have worked in an Autism classroom. At any given time, there are about 8 students in the room with a few others in regular classes. Each student is different and each student had a lesson to teach me in my four weeks (today is my last scheduled day although I could get extended).

One student came in with a smile and a goofy personality every day. He helped me take time to relax and play make believe for just a couple minutes before getting back to work. Always there was hope in his eyes that he would have a great day with lots of fun.

Another student was more like Eeyore. Talks slow and keeps his head down. He helped teach me the importance of speaking to everyone kindly. If you lost your patience and demanded he answer - he would shut down. If you worked with him he spoke loud and clear.

There are so many other beautiful and insightful lessons my students gave me. They were a joy to be around and a huge pro-life statement. Even the low-functioning can have truly joyful moments and can be proud of the progress in something as simple as standing unsupported for 20 minutes. If you pay attention, they will teach you the important things in life. Even though I wouldn't wish a disability on anyone, I respect and appreciate what they bring to the world. I'm glad there is no pre-natal test to get rid of them like with down-syndrome and sad to know how many babies we are missing because of that fact.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Disconnected Society

I read an article about one area of disconnect found in our society. Some of you may have already read about these two lists but, if you don't know what I'm talking about, I encourage you to read it here. In my journey to promote lifestyles that truly respect life at all stages and in all forms, I have mostly been drawn to the social/societal issues and debates. The article gave two great lists that showed our society believes there are completely different requirements for when it is okay to have intercourse to when it is okay to have a baby. She went on to make another point that I wanted to highlight:

In an article published by the Guttmacher Institute's Family Planning Perspectives, John A. Ross estimates that a woman using contraception with a 1 percent risk of failure has a 70 percent chance of experiencing an unwanted pregnancy over the course of 10 years. Guttmacher also reports that more than half of women seeking abortions were using a contraceptive method when they got pregnant. As soon as we as a society accepted contraception, a large-scale game of Russian roulette began, with women and their unexpected children as the players with the guns to their heads.


Shocking to know that accounts for every contraceptive and method of family planning. My plug for NFP - we acknowledge the connection between love and babies and can't get mad or blame a faceless enemy like the pill if conception occurs. Hopefully we appreciate and love the life for what it is - life!

On the other hand, I am the type of person that can get a little emotional especially if something really serious goes wrong - like making a wrong turn or forgetting to get milk from the store. I can't imagine the decisions I would make if my life was different and I ended up in that 70%. I work with many organizations (pro-life group, pregnancy center, religious groups) that try to help women with such a difficult decision, but how can we help before it comes to that?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sanctity of Human Life Weekend

As I said last week, I went to D.C. for the March for Life. I'm not usually into crowds or protests but I felt God calling me to go so I listened. It was an interesting experience, but I don't have an emotional testimony to give from it. Here are a few thoughts from the entire weekend. And a picture that can't even begin to show how many people showed up. Estimates I heard - 450,000!

1. I'm glad I read this post about loving others. Our bus stopped at a second location to fill up (although there would be two seats vacant the whole way). I went with one other person who is very tall. His friend canceled making one seat available which he claimed so I sat across the aisle from him. It came down to the last person getting on who could choose to sit next to me or up two rows next to another young woman. I was tempted to stay put on the outside seat and force him to ask someone. He was tall and didn't look like my new best friend, but I decided to stand up and let him in before he was forced to ask. And I learned more from him than I did from anything else all weekend.

2. As much as I appreciate the political aspect of this fight and informing voters so we can elect pro-life leaders, I don't feel called to protest. There were some negative signs that just looked critical to me. Even though this march is known to be the most peaceful and respectful, there are still harsh criticisms on signs that I don't appreciate and believe most pro-choicers feel the same.

3. What will help us? Truth and love. My favorite signs were ones that said things like "Love them both" we are fighting for children - not against people. While I don't agree with abortion policy, yelling at people who support it is not going to change their minds. Giving a loving message on the beautiful miracle of conception and life might lead them to start thinking either now or in the future. I hope to plant seeds of love and I'm trying to think of more ways to gently do that.... Anyone have some suggestions?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Friday Reflection v. 1 n. 2

I will be arriving in D.C. at 6am Friday morning for the anniversary of Roe v. Wade (so I wrote this a bit early). I will get to go to Mass at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. I have been to that church before and it is gorgeous. I will then take place in my first march - never done something so political in my life! With all that going on, this week I haven't even reflected much on the political side of this debate. I have been drawn to the personal side once again.

I am thankful for my family. My mother and father were happy to accept twins and a baby brother 5 years later. My father always celebrates life and told me as a child if I didn't want to do something - I didn't have to. This was in reference to fun activities - I wasn't forced to try or play every sport and activity. My parents made sure my life was relatively balanced and full of joy. I was born much later than 1973 so abortion would have been an easy option had my parents been in a different situation with different morals. My dad always took time to remind me that he would rather have his happy family than be able to afford a fancy car like some of his co-workers. I am truly blessed to know my family as well as the family I married into are family-focused and full of pro-life support. So, for my reflection today, while I am in the midst of a huge political march, I realize that all the politics would mean nothing if we did not have the example of loving families and caring pregnancy center workers. Thank you to everyone who works to promote a culture of life.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Choose Life

In honor of my upcoming trip to D.C. for the March for Life, here is a great cartoon on the topic and another post from April of last year.


This is a life-affirming, positive statement that some would want to distort (cartoon). I was recently sent an email from one of my legislators that said even though she wants to promote life and limit abortions, there are just not enough adoption resources to do that at this time. Instead she signs legislation that promotes abortion since it is "the only option" in many cases.

I find that interesting because there are a lot of resources and many families wishing for a child. Even the 16 year old in Juno was able to figure it out pretty easy - granted that was just the movies. For anyone who might need a resource here are a few: www.adoptionnetwork.com OR www.americanadoptions.com or 1 800-ADOPTION

There are tons of websites if you search "adoption resources" and it would be more specific if you put in a general area. With library internet access how can we argue that these resources are not available? They are just not utilized as much as they could be.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Straightforward Talk....and facts

I originally wrote this in April 2009 and have been thinking along the same lines again - how can you advertise/get the word out about something that generates very little money?

I had dinner with a friend last night and this issue of pro-life and politics came up. She is so driven that she already has experience working in the White House. She knows a lot more about politics than me and I always welcome her input. My one thought last night and today is that I wish more people would be more straightforward and consistent with their beliefs and policies. We talked about how it is a lot easier to respect someone who has different beliefs as long as they mean what they say and are consistent.

A lot of times, people make statements that don't seem to match up with their actions. I try not to be one of those people. Some may say I have a strong personality or I speak my mind. They may even say something with a more negative connotation, but one thing is for sure, I tend to call it how I see it. Why shouldn't I? I may encourage the use of NFP to those who are willing to listen, but I don't talk in a way that argues that is the only choice (i.e. "You should use NFP). I just want to make sure everyone knows they have that option and that it is an effective one. I love that I found this book "Natural Family Planning Blessed our Marriage: 19 True Stories"
People need to know facts though, and that is what I try to do. The way I see it, if there were commercials saying "new method of birth control that is up to 99% effective and has no side effects, talk to your doctor" wouldn't you get a lot of women saying - "Yes! No side effects! sign me up for that. If the commercial went on to say it would increase communication with your partner and cost practically nothing would people listen? If the named changed to emphasize the natural part would more people in the green movement listen?

Unfortunately, since the method is cost-effective (just pay for a class to learn) there is no revenue for fancy commercials and catchy names. Doctors are not inclined to learn it and drug companies would have you disbelieve it. The facts are, from studies and my own life, the method works and it has benefits. And it is not just religious "whackos" that think so. The organic movement is catching on to the health benefits - maybe they'll think up a catchy name and slogan. Or maybe more people will start buying this shirt.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Manhattan Declaration

I'm not sure what took me so long to write about this document that came from an inter-denominational meeting. The declaration stands up for the sanctity of all human life, the sacredness of marriage between man and woman, and freedom of conscience and religion.

It is a great document that has over 300,000 signatures supporting it. If you would like to sign and haven't yet, click here. My favorite part from the defense for life is below

We will be united and untiring in our efforts to roll back the license to kill that began with the abandonment of the unborn to abortion. We will work, as we have always worked, to bring assistance, comfort, and care to pregnant women in need and to those who have been victimized by abortion, even as we stand resolutely against the corrupt and degrading notion that it can somehow be in the best interests of women to submit to the deliberate killing of their unborn children. Our message is, and ever shall be, that the just, humane, and truly Christian answer to problem pregnancies is for all of us to love and care for mother and child alike.
Whereas I don't shy away from confrontation, I do try to shy away from the blame game. This paragraph did better than the one above to site what we intend to do - giving mothers the choice of support, compassion and resources when dealing with a difficult and scary situation. While all the information is great and the stance the writers took is excellent, parts left me asking for more. Granted it is just a paper giving a position and not a social justice plan of action, but I would like something like that to follow. I think something like that should be paired with the Manhattan Declaration to make it even more powerful. Anyone know a good resource or document that shows ways/ideas of how to help instead of just listing the evils in society?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Friday Reflection v. 1 n. 2

I can't believe it is Friday - and the end of the workday already. There is a lot to be concerned about this week but I can't write that much in the 5 minutes I am giving myself to write this late reflection so I will concentrate on something I learned this week.

I have no right to complain - about anything. I live a blessed life and, even if some people are difficult to deal with, the common belief among pro-lifers is that all life is precious and worthy of protecting. If you believe that and do your best to show kindness and understanding you might just get a free and yummy cup of tea when you walk into work at the end of the week. Boy was I surprised when my least favorite co-worker of the week brought me a choice of teas to choose from yesterday morning. Another little reminder that pro-life means everyone.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

This post was originally written in April at the beginning of my training to become an NFP teacher. The loving and fact filled message has been on my mind as I have been challenged on the benefits and difference of NFP v. AC

I went to a NFP class this Saturday and that was the theme throughout the 2 hour lesson. The couple teaching was funny and had some great stories from 47 years of marriage. They had a very simple and straightforward way of explaining how they try to love and respect each other every day.

They talked about Bible references and theology but it all seemed to come down to one thing - respect each other and God's plan for our lives. We are wonderfully made, created in the image of God. Every NFP class has the same statement thrown in at some point: Fertility is normal - not a medical disorder. God gave us the gift of fertility and we need to respect that gift. Trying to artificially suppress that gift is the difference between Natural Family Planning and barrier methods. The Catholic Church's argument against birth control has more to do with changing our body's natural rhythm and possibly miscarrying than preventing conception and most people are not aware of that. Not every loving act is expected to yield a high chance of conception since the woman's body is not always fertile. Normal is a woman that is fertile 6-10 days a month. In relation to that, I learned that fertility treatments are supported by the Church as long as it is bringing the couple back to the normal range and not choosing from six embryos. To simply put the theology - God's plan is perfect so why try to change it?