"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heavens." Ecclesiastes 3:1

Sunday, August 21, 2016

I am Not a Badass, but I am Catholic

In an ironic turn of events, Buddy and I celebrated Natural Family Planning Awareness Week with a positive pregnancy test.

When I ripped open the test that Tuesday (which also happened to be the feast day of Mary's parents, Saints Joachim and Anne), I was simply looking for reassurance. I was so sure that stress had once again messed with my cycle, I assumed we were trading that $3 test for peace of mind.  I honestly never expected that blue line to appear, but it did. Two seconds into the waiting period and it was boldly staring right back at me.

We were both in shock, but Buddy quickly jumped on the happy train. I, on the other hand, was left crying at the station. I feel horrible admitting that, but pregnancy and I do not play well together. If my past repeated itself, I knew I only had a few days before morning all day sickness would hit, and it always hits me hard. Even with medication, the first trimester of each pregnancy has left me lying on the cold bathroom floor, spent and depressed. These memories are burned into my mind along with the echo of my desperate pleas that Buddy never ask me to do this again.

Don't get me wrong; our hearts still ached for another child. Neither one of us felt like our family was complete.  But we did have a few things we needed wanted to get settled before I got pregnant again.  Even though we are constantly discussing and reevaluating, we were both hoping we'd be ready for another baby before the end of this year. I was just counting on these next few months to mentally prepare myself for my next pregnancy!

As I was fighting my way through a lot of mixed emotions, I started mindlessly scrolling on Facebook and saw this:

I laughed at the thought. I am definitely not a badass! I'm His child, and He is simply doing what a father does. He is pushing me because He knows the desires of my heart, and as my father, He refuses to let me settle for anything less than my potential. God saw our desire for more children was being smothered in fear--fear of judgement from a world that thinks two children is more than enough, fear that our finances will be tighter than they already are, and fear of going through the trial of another pregnancy.

At first, this pregnancy felt like God had shoved me into the deep end of the pool. He knew that I could swim, even if I didn't feel ready. At first, I had all kinds of feelings about that unexpected push, and some of those feelings still creep back up when I'm crying in the bathroom praying that my dinner stays down. But no matter what emotion I'm experiencing, this baby is absolutely wanted.

The thing is, God sees the big picture. He knows when the timing is right, even when the rest of us are left wondering what the heck He could be thinking. So even when I've struggled with the fear of not being ready, I've found peace in knowing that God knows what He is doing. He has a plan, and His plan is always our plan, even when it's unknown and scary.

Ironically, I wrote this post on August 4th of last year, which was almost exactly a year before we found out about this baby. It was such a blessing to read my words again when it popped up in my Time Hop. We have been very blessed to have this kind of supportive family nearby, and I continue to pray that God will help me to be that same kind of blessing to my own children.

It's been a rough few weeks, but it looks like I finally found a new medicine that is helping me feel human again, so praise God for that! We also went for my first ultrasound last week, so we got to see our little bean and watch the tiny heartbeat light up on the screen. As I held Buddy's hand, my eyes filled with tears. Praise God for trusting us with this new life!

Once the ultrasound was complete, we were ready to start announcing to more of our family and friends. While most of the responses have been positive, unfortunately, we've heard a few negative comments as well.  The most popular so far seem to be that we are crazy and that we need to learn how to control ourselves. Much to my surprise, someone even felt the need to shame me for getting pregnant again. (I'm still unsure if this person was trying to make that comment as a joke, but it sure didn't come across that way when it was said.)

I somehow always forget about this part of pregnancy. My brain never forgets the misery of first trimester, but it manages to block out the part about everyone losing their filter around pregnant women.

These kinds of comments are what led me to write this post when I was pregnant with #4 and then this one a few years ago. Everything I said then is still true today. Buddy and I are in a healthy, loving, and faithful marriage. While we are crazy in love with one another, I do not think we are crazy. Anyone that knows anything about how Natural Family Planning works, knows better than to say we need to learn how to control ourselves. And as for shame? I'm honestly still trying to dust myself off from that one.  Planned or not, I'm never going to be ashamed of my family. EVER! Each one of our children is a gift from God, and as faithful Catholics, we will always accept every gift that God gives us, even if that gift comes before we feel like we are ready. 

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Hand in Hand: 11 Years of Marriage

11 years ago today, I married my best friend. We were still babies to most of the outside world, but together, we felt like old souls. Desire for marriage had been in our hearts for years, but we wanted the best for our future together, so we spent a lot of time talking and praying about what that meant.

The two of us had big dreams, and our young love required making big sacrifices with those dreams in mind. One reason we put off getting married was because we wanted to make sure we finished college. When we finally made it to the altar, we still had one semester left to complete, but we knew we would finish. It was only one semester, right? 

Hurricane Katrina hit just a few months after we said our vows, which sent our perfectly laid plans out the window for a while.  Our last semester had to be postponed to the spring, which meant our hopes to start a family looked like they were also going have to wait. 

(Again with the waiting!)

We were crushed.

Then, we did something crazy. Despite some pretty convincing reasons why we should avoid getting pregnant at the time, we opened our hearts to whatever God decided for our family. 

It was scary and exciting all at the same time. It felt like Buddy took my hand and helped me climb onto the roller coaster that was officially our new life together. 

At the time, our house was smashed under a tree, Buddy's job status was unknown, and we still had to finish school. And yet, even amid all of that chaos, God decided to send us a child.

It turned out that our original plan to get pregnant at the end of that fall semester would have been disastrous. I got so sick during my first trimester, I could barely hold anything down. I lost a lot of weight and barely made it out of bed most days. 

By the time the spring semester started, I was finally feeling mostly back to normal. I was able to eat again and getting out of bed was no longer impossible. By the time we turned in our final exams, I was officially waddling. We never did make it to our graduation ceremony, though. I was 8 months pregnant and already having contractions strong enough to worry us about braving the crowd, but we did it. We both graduated college.

And exactly one month later, our baby girl was born!

Our first year of marriage was quite the roller coaster ride, and each year that has followed has proven to be its own adventure. We've gone through so much together already--mostly good, but we've also had our fair share of scary dips and turns that have sent my stomach into knots.  But no matter what craziness was going on around us, Buddy was always right there next to me with his calming smile and reassuring presence.  

Hand in hand, we continue to ride through this life together, sharing every feeling--anticipation, excitement, fear, and love--just to name a few. And deep in my heart, I know that the success of our marriage all goes back to how we approached the ride.

Because when Buddy took my hand in his, our life became our prayer.

Friday, June 10, 2016

40 years

Today is my parents' 40th wedding anniversary!
Forty years!
These two people have shown me what it means to love as Christ loves. They taught me that a good marriage involves laughter and sacrifice and strength. They have given me the gift of seeing firsthand what a difference it can make when you take on life as a team with God as your captain. By their example, I have learned how to give of myself even when it hurts and to love even when it's hard. They have instilled in me the desire to love and serve God, and for that, I am forever grateful. 

Happy anniversary, Mom and Dad! We love you!

Monday, May 30, 2016

Five Loaves and Two Fish

Despite a long break from writing and a weary mind that is struggling to find its groove again, I wanted to take a moment to not only thank God for His blessings, but also encourage those of you who might find yourself feeling frustrated and alone, wondering if God is even listening to your cries.

God recently sent my family a reminder that He cares for us even in the little things. Sometimes He takes our desires, even the stuff that we know we can live without, and He moves a mountain just to remind us that He can.

I really shouldn't be surprised by these blessings anymore, but every time God takes our loaves and fishes and multiplies them, it catches me off guard and brings me to tears.

I wish I could say with certainty that things were going to be better for us soon, but I know we still have storms ahead. I try to put on a brave face, but there are times that I find myself staring at the dark clouds in the distance, and I can feel the devil trying to fill me with fear.

If nothing else, this season has toughened me up and taught me greater confidence in my God. I admit that I still struggle with trying to find a quiet moment to spend with Him, but when I do meet Him in prayer, He uses that time to fill my heart with His peace. He reminds me that no matter what is ahead, He is still God, and that means He can stand up at any moment and command the storm to calm. He has proven time and again that no matter what we are facing, He will provide.

This season hasn't been easy on our family, but we will continue to move forward with hope in our hearts. We do grow weary at times, but God always knows when to send us a reminder that He is in control. We trust that He will guide our path if we choose to follow Him, even though that occasionally requires us to take a road that we never expected to take! (He definitely loves to bring us along on His adventures!)

I wish I could post more details of our most recent blessing, but sometimes, despite our desires to shout God's miracles from the rooftops, He asks for us to quietly rejoice.

But just in case any of you have also experienced that same weary feeling, wondering if you will always be operating on five loaves and two fish, let me be the one to remind you:

It's not how much you have to offer that matters. What matters is how you are taking the blessings that God has provided and putting them to good use.

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