PROTECTING LIFE IN A NEONATAL WING
And generally coasting through our brimming and busy days around ratios, circumference, the Pythagorean theorem, Earth science reference tables, test tubes, microscopes, assorted, strewn-about art supplies, Paul Revere’s midnight ride, half written essays on the causes of World War I, vocabulary lists, scattered violin and piano sheet music, baseball game schedules, self imposed writing deadlines, cleats, mitts, a bottomless laundry basket, always-dueling John Wayne impressions, homeschooling paperwork, tests, workbooks and inexplicably multiplying piles of legos and tech equipment. Oh yeah. And lots of noise.
I recently read a lovely book called Come My Beloved: Inspiring Stories of Catholic Courtship. Since it was nearing our 9th wedding anniversary, this book got me reminiscing about my own courtship with my now husband. And, because reading/hearing about how God brings a couple together always inspires and uplifts me, I thought I’d share our story in the hopes that you will share yours. 😉
To begin this story, I have to back up a bit. As most of the people who know me, or who read this blog regularly, know that I spent a number of years discerning a religious vocation. I entered the convent after recently returning to the faith, firmly believing that I was called to religious life. Yet, there was an underlining <em>something</em>, a doubt that I suppressed. Like I said, I had only a couple years before returned to the faith and I wanted to do “something big” to show my love to the Lord. I thought it was to sacrifice family and become a religious sister.
Over the years, the signs that my vocation was marriage and to have a family firmly showed themselves, so during Holy Week 1999 I returned home. It was a bittersweet time. I loved the sisters but knew I had to live the vocation God was calling me to. I began to pray for a spouse.
My prayers weren’t answered until a couple of years later. I like to have a good time, but I’m no party girl. Doing the whole “club scene” or going to bars isn’t my thing. A couple of people tried to set me up but that wasn’t my thing, either. Then I started hearing stories of different couples who met online.
I wasn’t sure if that was my thing or not, but as a birthday present to myself, in 2002 I signed up for Ave Maria Catholic Singles. After filling out my profile, and doing the search, my now husband’s profile showed up. And then again. And then again. And then again. 🙂 Finally, I got up the courage to send him a message.
He promptly wrote back to inform me that he was currently discerning marriage with someone else. Okay, I thought, that door is closed. But, EVERY time I went to the singles site his profile would show up as a 100% match.
I started communicating with a couple other of people and tried to ignore Michael’s face every time he showed up. Several weeks later, I received a message from him. The relationship he was in didn’t work out and he wanted to know if we could chat. I said yes. 🙂
We started emailing through Ave Maria’s messaging system. We clicked right away in our emails and I had a good feeling about him. And the funny thing, the day after Michael and I started messaging the other guys I was communicating with dropped off the face of the earth. Literally. Our communications had been friendly and going well, but they instantly stopped writing, their profiles were gone, and I never heard from them again. It was as if they never existed!
A week after we started emailing, Michael asked if he could call me. I gave him my number and when he called we talked for over an hour. When we hung up, I said out loud, “This is the man I am going to marry.” I just knew. It was as if the Lord Himself was telling me this. Of course, I continued to pray about it, and every time I did, I had this “knowing.”
A week later, Michael asked me out on our first date. Our first date was May 1, 2002, the feast of St. Joseph the Worker. I have a strong devotion to St. Joseph, so I took this as a good sign. So much so, I was ‘dumb’ enough to let him pick me up from my apartment instead of meeting him at the restaurant!
What can I say? Our connection went deeper. We talked at the restaurant over two hours. Left the restaurant and we talked some more. A week later, we met each other’s parents. Six months later, on his birthday, Michael asked me to marry him.
His proposal was so special. He didn’t take me to a restaurant or to our favorite spot to propose. He took me to church. We went to the local church which had perpetual adoration. After we were praying for a while, he whispered to me to close my eyes. “Why? I don’t want to,” I said. “Just do it,” he said. So I closed my eyes and after a few seconds he told me to open them. He had placed the ring on the top edge of the pew in front of us. When I saw it I started trembling and I looked over at him. He knelt on the kneeler and said, “In the presence of God, Carol, will you marry me?” Obviously, I said yes. We prayed for a couple of more minutes before going to share the news with our families and continue to celebrate his birthday.
Nine months later we were married. Two years later we had Andrew. Like I said above, it hasn’t always been easy. But God has always been faithful. Both of us have grown and changed and we’ve been through some very rough times, BUT we trust in the Lord and know that the Lord has brought us together for His purpose and glory.
Your turn. How did the Lord bring you and your spouse together?
As today is Vocation Sunday, I feel better about the delay in posting my notes as this is the perfect day for the subject!
I came in after sister had finished speaking and took these notes from Father’s talk.
He explained that vocations to religious orders vs. a diocese differ in their defining spiritualities. Comparing them to doctors, he related cleverly that orders are like specialists – working missions or involved in education, or working with the poor. In a diocese, the work is nitty-gritty. A religious there is more like a general practitioner.
Strongly stating that the parent can not push a vocation to religious life, Father went on to give a list of things a family can do to increase the faith of it’s members. These are qualities of homes that religious have come out of. These are qualities that make HAPPY and dedicated religious. So…to nurture a vocation a family needs to:
respect the faith and LIVE the faithbe generous with time and talents with the Churchmodel the value in giving, tithing for instanceteach discipline and sacrificegive chores and responsibilitiesfall in love with the Mass and prayteach children to be loving and praybe devoted to Our Blessed Mother (Father related that praying the Rosary everyday changed his life)foster a desire to learnbe loving to ALL, the popular and unpopularbe a part of the Churchteach good social skillsencourage listeningunderstand what Mother Theresa meant when she said that compassion and thoughtfulness are the beginning to great sanctity.enjoy the gift of youth, don’t wish childhood awayfor boys, teach them to be deferential to women…chivalrousengage in conversations about hopes and dreams but never badger or force religious life – God gives callings.doing God’s will is #1attend discernment group formationfind a mentor, spiritual directorpray for your children daily and be a role model of faithtrust in God!
The CHAPLET conference (www.Chaplet.org) was, once again, a great experience that revitalized parents in the work of trying to raise children who will love and honor their Catholic faith. Many thanks to the organizers and inspiring speakers.
Hi my name is Jacqueline, everyone who is near and dear calls me by nickname: Jackie. I am a very blessed wife and mommy with many job hats that works for Free, but barters with hugs and kisses, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
I am a homeschooling stay at home mommy to 5 Lil’ Rascals for 10 years and schooling for 4 years. We also have a lil’ Baby Love angel up in Heaven above who sadly died of fetal demise in February 2008. Our extended pet family includes 2 cats Valentino and Tigger, and one cutie beagle Buster Brown. I have been married to my soul mate, best friend and husband Dennis for 11 years and blessed to know his beautiful soul for 14 years and counting.
Before my blessed mommy years I worked and aspired in a career in marketing. For 10 years I worked as a graphic and web designer and then as a project marketing consultant and analyst for several New Jersey and New York advertising agencies as well as newspapers in the tri-state area. I use my God-given talent and background in business to help me with my homeschool and mothering ministry. For a while, in my early mommy years I thought I was totally useless to the working world, but I slowly realized with help from many of my favorite Catholic authors and bloggers that this was not the case. God is awesome and He had a very definitive purpose for my life,whether in my career or as a mother. My background in business has helped me to organize and fulfill happiness in my domestic church (aka- my home) as well to properly organize my children in homeschooling and extracurricular activities. Because of the many online mommy blogs I read, I was able to learn about this beautiful and divine ministry of mothering and get out of my slump.
My personal goal with my family blog is to chronicle my Catholic family trying to live the word of God everyday through His grace and infinite wisdom. Life is supposed to be messy, and not perfect. I hope to chronicle the good times with the bad, and also to be able to payback forward and mentor those who are just walking into the divine and heavenly trenches of mommy hood, as it was done to me early in my mommy stages. It’s a beautiful ministry made from the hand of God. Our American culture is too quick in giving our mothering ministry a bad name. In time and with God’s grace, we as mother’s have to realize that we are not in control.
One day at a time, one thing at a time is my piece of advice to any mom in need of spiritual uplifting, and it may sound silly but always try to have God on your mind when you drink that glass of water. It’s simple lil’ thing I do often during the day. I am always thankful to God, but the only time I have for prayer is when I drink a glass of water, and it’s for 1 minute, if that! =) As a mommy we will have our good and bad days. On those bad days with the kids frayed on your nerves and the house messy and husband getting at your last lil’ nerve, PRAY. It works and keeps you sane and happy. I truly believe it’s our divine vitamin from God.
If you would like to be a regular contributor to these pages, please respond with comments on this post mentioning your Catholic blog address and your email address.
For the time being, we have decided not to create a schedule for posting.
To give everyone a chance to post, here are a few guidelines:
Wow! What a week it has been! It was a blessing to go to the March for Life last week (has it already been a week since the March in D.C.?), but it’s always a challenge to get home from a short/long trip and get back into the routine. I felt like last week I was playing “catch up” after I got home, especially since life never stands still when you go away for a bit!
This afternoon our homeschool group volunteered again with a local inner city homeless ministry. Our homeschool group provides food and serves the food whenever there is a 5th Sunday in the month. There are volunteers every Sunday at a well-known spot downtown and our homeschool group was blessed to be a part of the food preparation and serving today. We had adults and children ranging from age 7 to teens helping out, including my three oldest “cupcakes” and myself. After the preacher talked with the men, women, and children during an informal church service under an open-air pavilion, they were invited to eat a warm, home-made meal provided by many families and volunteers.
Today we made and served Southwest Chicken and here is the recipe (sorry I forgot to take pictures of this yummy and easy dish)
4 chicken breasts
1-2 jars of salsa
2 -3 cups cooked rice
grated cheddar cheese for topping (1-2 cups)
The chicken can be cooked the day before in a crock pot or that morning on the stove.
Place chicken breasts in a crock pot and add 1-2 jars of salsa, enough to cover the meat and provide a bit extra. Cook on low for eight hours, until the chicken is done, then shred the the meat with two forks (very easy to do when the chicken has been cooking all day).
Mix in 2-3 cups of cooked rice. Place in disposal serving pan, top liberally with cheese.
Heat through, until cheese is melted.
This recipe is very forgiving. It was originally intended to be burrito filling. You can add in corn or beans, more rice or salsa… whatever you want; it all tastes good. You can also use any precooked chicken that you have- just chop it into small pieces first.
Some families also made Baked Apples which was also a hit!
I am always impressed by how friendly and gracious the people are as we feed them. Many of them thank us over and over again for our service. As the volunteers, we are blessed in many ways also by serving in this ministry.
Here are more photos from our afternoon of helping those who always look forward to a warm, home-made meal, a helping hand, and a friendly smile.
|Matthew 25:35-40 |
For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you made me welcome
|lacking clothes and you clothed me, sick and you visited me, in prison and you came to see me.”|
|Then the upright will say to him in reply, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?|
|When did we see you a stranger and make you welcome, lacking clothes and clothe you?|
|When did we find you sick or in prison and go to see you?”|
|And the King will answer, “In truth I tell you, in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me.”|
Last year my family and I attended our first March for Life and I blogged about this incredible experience HERE. This year, my daughter, friends, and I joined a parish in Rocky Mount, NC and traveled to our second march on buses. There were three large buses filled with 150 people from Rocky Mount and surrounding areas.
As soon as we got off the bus, I had a friend snap this picture of my daughter and me standing with Fr. Tim Meares, priest of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Rocky Mount. Fr. Meares has been on many marches and we were all blessed with this holy priest’s presence during our trip.
Here is most of our group with all the bright yellow scarves:
Each year there is a Holy Mass for Life for all the N.C. pro-lifers present at the march. It is just so beautiful to see the many priests and seminarians and our two bishops from the Raleigh and Charlotte Diocese celebrate Mass with the packed church.
Although I missed celebrating this march with my husband and other three children, it was very special to have my daughter with me to share such a powerful event. It’s never too early to teach our children that life, no matter how small, is precious and sacred.
Down in the Crypt Church of the Basilica, I found Cameron Smith’s artwork (No relation to me). Cameron and his family are in our homeschool group and are dear friends. He has incredible God- given talent and he did a painting on marble of Saint Maron and and Our Lady of Lebanon for the Maronite chapel and these beautiful masterpieces are located in one of the many side altars. You can visit Cameron’s website HERE to see his other beautiful prints to view/purchase.
The weatherman called for 90% chance of rain in the afternoon and after we left the Basilica it was drizzling, but then it stopped during the march. The sky was gray and gloomy, but the spirits were high which made the day much brighter for sure.
After our group gathered at the Navy Memorial, we marched with an estimated 300,000-500,000 pro-lifers. It’s hard to know the exact number, but based on previous year’s estimations, I’m guessing this many people might have attended this year’s march. There were men, women, and children from all ages, races, religions, and walks of life joining together to stand for life one step and prayer at a time. It was breathtaking, exhilarating, and powerful to walk among the masses. There was a sea of love, as one friend put it. There was no anger, fear, or hate in the crowds. Rather, there was a feeling of security, hope, peace, joy, and love and all the young people present gave me hope for our future.
Here is a video clip I took while walking in the march. The young people are shouting, “We love babies, yes we do, we love babies, how ’bout you!”
Here is the video.
Speaking of our young generation, here are a few beautiful teens that I know from my homeschool group. They and about 13 others came to the march and are part of our local Teens for Life group. Not only are they shining witnesses for life, but they also love spreading the message of life with bright smiles and duct tape! Awesome!
Like last year, I love all the signs that float through the massive crowds Here is a slideshow of some signs that I saw:
View slide show Here.
At one point while we were walking we noticed two businessmen watching from high above the crowds from their office windows. We were waving at them to get their attention and they waved back. I wanted to be up there to witness from their vantage point the hundreds of thousands marching. I was wondering what they were thinking? Were they encouraged as pro-lifers themselves? Maybe they were in awe of the crowd, despite being pro-choice? Maybe they were wondering how the news media could continue to miss this BIG story about March for Life each year? Maybe they were amazed that so many people could come together peacefully? Whatever they were thinking or feeling, we as pro-lifers might have planted seeds in their hearts to always defend life!
Here are photos of the crowds. Like last year’s march, I never saw the beginning or the end of the march and I hear the numbers who attend gets higher and higher!
One of my friends from our group had this to say about the march. “We joined in the march at 2:00 PM. It was shuffle, shuffle, stop. Repeat. On the hill itself, it was so crowded that we had to make full stops about 7 times. From the bottom of the hill to the top where the route turns on First Street to the Supreme Court, it was packed. I didn’t see any gaps. We were like sardines. If you had claustrophobia, you would’ve felt it at the National Archives. The official end of the March came at about 4 PM with the fife and drum and bagpipe corps of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property, who run the America Needs Fatima campaign, marching behind Our Lady of Fatima statue. They always bring up the rear.”
We stopped at the Congressional Building for a small reception and to listen to our NC Senator, Richard Burr, speak. We also listened to Congresswoman Renee Ellmers. Both gave the audience words of encouragement to keep marching on to defend life.
After we left the Senate building, we headed toward the Supreme Court where we listened to women tell their stories about how they had an abortion and how much they have suffered physically, mentally, physcologically, emotionally, and spiritually from their decision. It was heartbreaking to hear their stories, but they share their stories to help others through a project called Silent No More Awareness Campaign.
A few feet from where the women were speaking there were different signs that were being held up. It didn’t even register in my mind that these signs were not like the ones I was blessed to see all day during the march. No, seeing these signs made me sad…because these women’s stories were filled with pain, grief, sadness, confusion and even hope, but only a few feet away pro-abortion signs were being held up proudly. I snapped a picture of signs that read “Keep Abortion Legal” and the pro-life signs that read “Defund Planned Parenthood” and “Face It….Abortion Kills a Person”. My 11 year old daughter didn’t understand why anyone would want to keep abortion legalized. She kept asking me “why?” I told her I don’t understand it myself, but we need to keep standing up for life and praying for conversions so that all people will see that each human person is made in the image and likeness of God and each life, no matter how small, no matter the circumstance, is sacred and valuable.
I conclude this year’s March for Life with this video and quotes by Mother Teresa:
“America needs no words from me to see how your decision in Roe v. Wade has deformed a great nation. The so-called right to abortion has pitted mothers against their children and women against men. It has sown violence and discord at the heart of the most intimate human relationships. It has aggravated the derogation of the father’s role in an increasingly fatherless society. It has portrayed the greatest of gifts — a child — as a competitor, an intrusion, and an inconvenience. It has nominally accorded mothers unfettered dominion over the independent lives of their physically dependent sons and daughters”
And, in granting this unconscionable power, it has exposed many women to unjust and selfish demands from their husbands or other sexual partners. Human rights are not a privilege conferred by government. They are every human being’s entitlement by virtue of his humanity. The right to life does not depend, and must not be declared to be contingent, on the pleasure of anyone else, not even a parent or a sovereign.” (Mother Theresa — “Notable and Quotable,” Wall Street Journal, 2/25/94, p. A14)
“But I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child – a direct killing of the innocent child – murder by the mother herself. And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another? How do we persuade a woman not to have an abortion? As always, we must persuade her with love, and we remind ourselves that love means to be willing to give until it hurts. Jesus gave even his life to love us. So the mother who is thinking of abortion, should be helped to love – that is, to give until it hurts her plans, or her free time, to respect the life of her child. The father of that child, whoever he is, must also give until it hurts. By abortion, the mother does not learn to love, but kills even her own child to solve her problems. And by abortion, the father is told that he does not have to take any responsibility at all for the child he has brought into the world. That father is likely to put other women into the same trouble. So abortion just leads to more abortion. Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching the people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. That is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion. ”
“Please don’t kill the child. I want the child. Please give me the child. I am willing to accept any child who would be aborted, and to give that child to a married couple who will love the child, and be loved by the child. From our children’s home in Calcutta alone, we have saved over 3,000 children from abortions. These children have brought such love and joy to their adopting parents, and have grown up so full of love and joy!”
February 1997 – National Prayer Breakfast in Washington attended by the President and the First Lady. “What is taking place in America,” she said, “is a war against the child. And if we accept that the mother can kill her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another.”
“Any country that accepts abortion, is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what it wants.”
“It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.”