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: OR 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


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?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Health Care Update

Christmas is officially over. Ornaments have been put away and trees are absent. I no longer see stockings hanging from my fireplace and Christmas carols are long forgotten. Students are back in school and soon all members of congress will be back at work in D.C.

Health Care has not passed yet. Some people say that since both house and senate have passed their version, health care is as good as completed and implemented. I beg to disagree with my husband's doctor who made the statement and many other who I'm sure have been led to believe it. The house version included the Stupak-Pitts amendment that puts limits on abortion coverage and basically makes sure we don't go further than the status-quo. The Senate version is drastically different. Consider contacting your representatives as they return to D.C.

* Representatives return to D.C. January 12th
** Senators return January 20th

Friday, January 8, 2010

Friday Reflections v. 1 n. 1

A fitting first reflection - lessons learned in blogging.

When I started this blog last April, I didn't think it would last a year. Most social sites I try and fade away from within a few months. My facebook is neglected and twitter just baffles me - I have yet to open an account for that. I thought "24 and prolife" would be a great name because I figured I would stop blogging before the end of my 24th year - now I'm not so sure.

This blog challenges me to state my opinion in a loving and forceful way. Persuasive, intelligent and thought-provoking topics challenge my mind and heart while hopefully engaging readers. How can you expose hard truths while loving people on the other side? The researcher inside of me screams her answer - facts! Those facts are objective and deserve some time in the spotlight. There are enough commercials giving the facts and side effects of different medications, I'm just trying to even the playing field. Another part of me argues that love will show the way. Both of those answers provide my motivation to blog and to teach NFP - more people need to have the opprotunity to learn about safe and effective methods.

So what did I learn last year blogging? That I have so much to learn - making my opinion matter very little. Yes, blogs invite commentary and opinion, but at the end of the day I know it is just that - opinion. It is not my place to judge - here or anywhere else. I desire to be open, honest and approachable while providing a resource for myself and others. Even with all the lessons, I have only been blogging a short time and have a lot more to learn. What have you learned through blogging?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Loving Others

Right now I am reading a book on Mother Teresa. The book is insightful and straightforward - just my kind of reading, yet I'm having a problem finishing it. The dense reading may be giving me too much to ponder.

One of the biggest themes of the book, along with many other spiritual books, is about how to be God's love for others. What I like about this one is all the great analogies and real life examples. I don't need to go to Africa and become a missionary to be God's light to others. I can start right where I am with who I meet and talk to on a daily basis. I can't think of a better pro-life stance than that. Part of the way to do that is...

Tough Love
I have always believed in tough love. One of the few bible verses that comes to my mind often is Proverbs 27:17. To paraphrase - iron sharpens iron, so man should sharpen man. I don't feel sharper if I have sugar-coated conversations all the time. Mother Teresa was a shining example of loving others with true compassion no matter who they were or what they had done, but she didn't stop there. Tough issues were addressed and in her 1979 Nobel Lecture she noted:
The poor people are very great people. They can teach us so many beautiful things. The other day one of them came to thank me, and said, "You people who have evolved chastity, you are the best people to teach us Family Planning. Because it is nothing more than self-control out of love for each other."

I love the way she started that statement with compliments. It is easier to hear a hard truth if you can first feel the love and acceptance of God - no matter where you are at in your life. She also spoke about the dangers of abortion and I encourage you to use the link above to read more of what this amazing woman said. Like her lecture, I can be tough and, hopefully, loving at the same time. I am learning through the example of those who went before me, but it is a long process. So, for today, I will let the loving words of Mother Teresa be the main focus of the post. NFP was accepted and appreciated by the poor. Again, I don't know any better pro-life stance or argument than that.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Politically Incorrect

When did the term politically correct come to mean polite and non confrontational? The phrase just does not make sense to me. I seem to be politically incorrect quite often be it my eating habits (which don't follow the low-fat ideology but do include lots of healthy produce) or my use of NFP for health and spiritual benefits.

My issue with politics and the expectation to be "politically correct" in terminology and topic choice is that it seems to prevent us from having thought out conversations about the true issues. One issue I have studied a lot is birth control. I studied the history behind the 1920s movement to promote it, the church history of when different denominations allowed it, and the side effects linking it to stroke, breast cancer and more. Unfortunately, it is politically incorrect to bring this topic up - especially if you are against it in most instances (there are medical benefits for some women). Since my husband's family doesn't follow "politically correct conversation topics" a discussion started about why we should hand out free contraceptives. Unlike this topic, I did not let it go.

I argued that this would not be a good use of my tax dollars. Before you think I'm too extreme, I also stated that I don't believe abstinence-only education is effective. I believe teens and young adults should be taught about what is out there - they know it exists! Trying to hide the obvious can come off as close-minded and unenlightened no matter how beautiful you message is. However, when you hand out the pill or condoms for free, you condone and promote behavior that uses that method and people forget there are other ways to act and other successful methods of family planning. I was never taught about NFP in school or church and, even at my small Christian college, the pill was pushed as my only option for my medical complaint. It is saddening that even young people who want another way have trouble finding it.

People barely heard me. I was just told that not everyone is as smart or sensible as me and it is the only way to prevent supporting more people on welfare. How do you compassionately respond to that comment? And if you agree, why do you think it is the only/best solution?

Monday, January 4, 2010

Don't you like people?

My husband's family did not get the memo - don't speak religion or politics at Christmas gatherings. Even so, it was refreshing to debate topics like women priests as well as social justice issues and how that relates to politics. I don't get a chance to share my knowledge and opinion on those subjects very often.

During one political discussion between siblings I overheard the line "Don't you like people?" The question was directed at her brother who announced he had voted for McCain. I decided that was just too easy to turn into an abortion debate, but decided to stay out of it - my much younger cousin decided to take the bait and discuss Obama's abortion position and record. He must have been shocked by her response (a neo-natal doctor) :

"I would preform an abortion on anyone"

Does anyone else find this ironic? How is it that, according to some, we can claim to be compassionate when we kill babies yet if we voted against Obama we don't like people?

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year, New Adventures

Happy New Year! I hope everyone enjoyed welcoming in 2010. We had a few house guests bring in the new year with us and we each talked about what we are looking forward to most in 2010 before watching the ball drop. I thought that would be more exciting than watching J-Lo on TV.

I'm excited about many things, but the one I mentioned probably tops them all - I will be celebrating my 25th birthday in Rome, Italy. I'm also excited to teach two STM series of NFP classes, attend weddings and family vacations with both sets of parents. I'm also excited to go to the March for Life in a couple of weeks. I will be spending 12 hours on a bus, then 12 hours at the March in D.C. then 12 hours on a bus (and hopefully sleeping). It will be just one weekend but it should also be a memorable lifetime experience. It has also been a good way to bring a prolife topic - I'm going to D.C.! The first question in everyone's mind then is for what? I'm excited for everything coming up and can't wait to see what other surprises 2010 will bring.