Tuesday, February 26, 2013

For His or Her Own Sake

Last week, in my 7QT, I hinted toward a reflection on the reality that if RG had been born, then this little one would not be here. I've been thinking about this for a long long time.

For the most part, even though it has long been on my mind, I never really wanted to let myself fully think it through because it just felt.....wrong. I mean, it felt ugly to think of how grateful I am for this baby, but at the same time still so grieved for RG, and that my current feeling of peace and joy only came after he had to die. It felt heavy, and wrong, and guilty, and I didn't really want to go there. But I knew that if I didn't think this through, and pray about it, then I might linger in this heaviness for much too long, not allowing myself to be fully grateful, nor fully grieved. I'd be stopping myself from moving forward in Hope.

Part of this is knowing that both events--the death of RG and the conception of this new life in my womb--are the work of my Lord, and knowing that His ways are perfect and never malicious. I know He wouldn't want for me to live half in grief and half in joy.

At first I asked Him, "why this paradox, Lord?" "Why," again, becomes the question. But I've already worked through the "why's" of RG's death, and I never really wanted to question the "why" of this new baby. I didn't want to question why God allowed us to conceive this one, for fear that I was looking my gift horse in the mouth. But somehow, that's what dealing with this paradox came down to. In order to feel both grief and joy, fully in each event, I needed to work through that "why" just as I did when RG died.

And so I pray. I have prayed. I'll continue to pray. (Lift thine eyes to the mountains, whence cometh help!)

***

This morning, as I was getting ready for work, my mind was mumbling to God; it was not focused prayer, more like stumbling through a jungle of thoughts, with little snippets of prayer and other thoughts popping up like tree roots along the path.

And then, I heard in my mind, as if coming to a clearing at the end of the dark and knotty path, the following:

"This new baby is a gift. This baby is a blessing
Don't think of this baby in terms of what you have lost." 

The Lord was telling me to change my perspective. It's not: 

"If RG hadn't died, then this baby wouldn't be here. I'd have one or the other."

 Rather, He was asking me to think of it this way:

"The Lord gave me both babies. Two babies! Each with his or her own dignity, soul, and purpose. I can have them both, love them both, grieve--if I must--for both, and REJOICE in both." 

The Lord didn't give us RG, and then allow him to die, just for the sake of this baby to be born. Though I do appreciate the possible metaphors of death and redemption, dying and rising, and death-to-new-life, I really think the Lord is asking me not to think of this baby as redemption for RG. I think that kind of thinking puts a lot of pressure on this new baby to be, not only him or herself, but also RG. It also makes RG less of his own self, and denies the reality of him, that which I have treasured and desperately tried to hold on to. Most importantly, I think it would create a tendency to not allow this baby to be born for his or her own sake*, but as some kind of replacement for RG. This is neither fair, nor correct.

This baby was created by God for his or her own sake, as was RG, and the sooner I orient myself toward that paradigm, the better. 

And so, it no longer feels ugly, nor heavy, to rejoice in this baby. I can be filled with Hope, knowing that I have been privileged and blessed with three children, created for their own sakes, and gifted to my husband and I by God, in His mercy and glory.

Oh Lord, I thank you. I thank you for each of these three lives, each of these gifts. For your love, your mercy, this insight, those which I do not deserve, but which You give freely. I praise and exalt Your Name!

"But let all who take refuge in you be glad;
     let them ever sing for joy.
Spread your protection over them,
     that those who love your name may rejoice in you.

Surely, Lord, you bless the righteous;
     you surround them with your favor as with a shield." Psalm 5: 11-12





*Thank you, Ecce Fiat, for your help in my journey toward this insight, though you may not have been aware of the help you provided me.


Friday, February 22, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday

1. If you have not listened to Danielle Rose sing about the Lord, I strongly recommend that you get to it. From her meditations on the mysteries of the Rosary, to her Memorare and other--dare I say Sacred (rather than "Christian" music)--Danielle is a beautiful voice for the Lord. Look her up on you.tube or Spot.ify.

She also sings a beautiful version of Psalm 139, which I referenced last week.

2. Quick update: We had a OB appointment on Wednesday, and everything is still going along smoothly. I was told I can just finish up the last of the progesterone supplements I have, and then I won't need to continue them. Praise the Lord! Of course, I would really do anything--ANYTHING--in my power to keep this baby living, and the progesterone supplements are a small sacrifice, but I am thankful nonetheless to be abandoning them.

3. Oh, and also, the doc couldn't find baby's heartbeat with the Doppler (read: I had a heart attack in on the table after too many minutes of searching) so we got to have a quick ultrasound to make sure the little one was still alive. PRAISE GOD he or she is alive, heart is beating, and baby was moving when we look at him or her! We are 11 weeks and 4 days, and we could see that little peanut's arms and legs, little chin, and belly. It was a beautiful sight to see, oh yes, a true, good, and beautiful sight.

I told her she really needs to get a new Doppler.

4. We are still waiting for our secret (not baby related) news. And with such anticipation!! As the case may be, there may not be any news at all, so we're just hoping there IS news, and hoping it comes quickly! I promise I'll tell you as soon as we know.

5. Seeing this baby's heart beat presents a difficult set of thoughts to me: If RG was here, this baby wouldn't be. There is a lot to explore here, mentally and spiritually, and it definitely merits another--more lengthy--post. But for now, when I see the ultrasound pictures we have of this baby and then look over to our only little ultrasound picture of RG, I am overwhelmed with so many thoughts. It is difficult to sort them out.

6. As part of my Lenten sacrifice, I've been saying a Chaplet every night for my husband (and I've added a special intention for our peanut too). The Lord has already worked wonders in his heart. Or, maybe the Holy Spirit has been prompting me to notice things more too. My hubby said a beautiful prayer for us and for our baby the night before our appointment. He has been so helpful with little A. He has thanked me every night for the "beautiful dinner" I made. He has seemed to be more at peace. The other day I thanked him for helping me get through everything this last year, and he said to me, "we can do anything because we have the tools through the grace of God." This kind of statement from him is a rare one, and it just demonstrates his faith in a way I haven't seen in a long time. I'm just so grateful for what the Lord has done to soften his heart.

7. Since it's Friday, I thought I'd share one of my favorite meatless recipes. This recipe is affordable, adaptable (see: affordable), easy, and delicious. My husband loved it. My toddler loved it. I loved it. I found it on Pint.erest. I love to add a little homemade tsatziki sauce to it, but you can dress it any way you like! I give you.........Sweet Potato Burgers. Let me know if you try them!

For more Quick Takes, get yer self over to Conversion Diary!


Friday, February 15, 2013

Friday Quick Takes

What a week! It's been a whirlwind, what with all that has been going on in our little corner, and all over the world. So, without further ado, here are my takes (as always, thank you Jen at Conversion Diary for hosting!)

1. My hubby walked by me this week, while I was getting ready for work in the morning, and said, "Hey, you know? Pregnant looks good on you."

Me = blushing

2. Hubby also took little A to a Valentine's Father/Daughter dance put on by our city. I tagged along as a fly on the wall to take pictures. Honestly, seeing all these dads dressed up in jackets and ties and dancing with their daughters restored my faith in humanity, just a little bit.


He gave her a red carnation at the dance--you should have seen the delight in her eyes!! As a two year old, she kept blowing her nose into the flower, trying to smell it. Looking back on these pictures, I know she will treasure her daddy's love for her.

3. Our God is so so good. I forget all too quickly the things He does for me. I had asked Him, about a month ago, to provide the financial ability to pay back little A's Emergency Room bills in a timely manner, and somehow, without earning more money or changing our expenses, we will be able to pay them back in less than two months. I suddenly realized this morning, as I was writing the check, that He had made it happen. Lord, I am so so grateful.

4. Soooooo on Wednesday, when I officially made my promise to the Lord for my Lenten sacrifice (offer up every inconvenience, disappointment, stress, problem, or praise for my husband and his faith), I didn't really expect to have that come in the form of little A waking up last night six--yes SIX--different times, and head butting me on the way back to bed. But that's the thing about Lent, I think. We get a lot of chances to make our sacrifices, and they come by unexpected means. The other thing is that, in the spirit of St. Therese of the Little Way, each small thing matters greatly when offered to the Lord.


5. A Valentine from God: Psalm 139. Read it. The way the Lord speaks to us in the Bible is true now, as it ever was and always will be.

6. This take is super random, but in the doldrums of February, I miss living in a place that has local produce that is easily accessible. I used to live in Seattle, where I could just pop down to my farmer's market or look in my CSA box for delicious, organic, and affordable produce of all kinds. Now I'm landlocked and the veggies are lackluster. :(

7. Little A can sing her ABC's! One day, I picked her up from preschool and she started singing it in the car. I was so proud, and it made me feel slightly less guilt for sending her to preschool while I'm at work.



Tuesday, February 12, 2013

On our Holy Father, and other things.

Laura at Mothering Spirit has some beautiful and fitting words on our Holy Father's resignation, words that echo much of my sentiments on the wave of change we all witnessed yesterday.

My major comment of the day was an echo of her words, although less eloquent; most of my comments were that I felt as if my own grandpa had died. And, even though I know he is (thankfully!) still living, it is hard to see him go. Yet I am still excited to see that white smoke, and to proclaim "habemus papam!!" It is one of my favorite phrases.

You see, I was a freshman in college, saving up money for a trip to World Youth Day in Cologne when Blessed John Paul II passed, and when Pope Benedict was elected. Along with the rest of the world, I was somewhat skeptical, especially about how WYD would go with this old man at the lead. Boy, was I wrong. The minute we all saw his smiling face coming down through the crowd, we--all 1 million of us--were in love with our new grandpa. And he loved us; the love was palpable on both sides. I'd never been happier to pull an all-nighter (even as a college freshman) than when I got to stay up late with the Pope.

Some people wonder how we Catholics could love someone most of us have never met--especially an old man who lives thousands of miles away. But when you spend as much time as we do praying for someone, and appreciating the leadership and guidance he has offered freely and sacrificially, it isn't hard to understand our love.

I know our Holy Father has resigned out of humility and genuine love for us, and that the conclave will choose someone, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, who will do for the Church exactly what we need.

***

I just want to clear something up, about the post I edited a little while ago--the one about Lent and my Husband. I feel like I need to clear it up, for me, and then maybe it will be clearer to you too.

When I posted last week about my hubby, it was a vent, and it was uncharitable, considering no one here knows him. I can be extremely sensitive in our relationship, especially when he is stressed or tired, because as I wish to draw nearer to him, he wants to pull away in those times. He is good at solitude; he likes solitude. He is also very social, but he does really well by himself. I am not that way. At all.

I have been frustrated sometimes at the distance I feel between the two of us in times when he is experiencing a lot of stress, because it bleeds into everything we do and are. The stress mostly comes from his job--the job he works so so hard at, the one he attended dutifully everyday in order to support me and little A through grad school. But when he is stressed from work, it is all he can think about. I have tried everything in the book to distract him, to help him through it, to try to ignore it, everything. But it is consuming. And it affects everything we do until he starts feeling better. He can't sleep, he can't eat, he feels like he needs to run.

Thus, my Lenten sacrifice is going to be prayer for him. A lot of prayer for him. And I'm going to try to cheerfully allow the distance to be what it is, with a thankful heart, because I know he is faithful, and that he loves me even if I can't feel it in times like those. It will truly be a death to myself, and it is one I am ready and willing to take on. I hope our Blessed Mother can be my model and help in this.

***

Finally, I want you to know that I have not forgotten my promises and emotions about many of you, your waiting, your spiritual battles, your losses, your intentions. I think of you and pray for you every day, and especially at Mass. You are on my heart.




Friday, February 8, 2013

Seven Friday Quick Takes

Here are my seven friday quick takes (thanks to Jen at Conversion Diary for hosting!)

1. Today is the feast day of St. Josephine Bakhita, who has an amazing story. Her courage is astounding!
St. Josephine Bakhita

2. Hubby is taking me on a  date tonight! I can't wait!

3. I'm reading this book right now, and would totally recommend it.

4. Hubby and I are waiting to hear back about some BIG NEWS (not baby related) and we are growing impatient! Please pray that we will wait patiently and that the Lord makes our direction very clear in the coming weeks. I will spill the news when we finally hear back about it. :) Nothing like suspense to keep you on your toes!

5. I finally met my friend H's baby. He is sweet, and so so little! I am proud that I didn't cry or get overly emotional. The Lord has really guarded my heart from the temptation to be jealous, and I am so grateful for that.

My brother calls this the "ruckus" face.
6. My brother has been teaching little A to do the stink eye....

7. When I told little A that she was having a sleepover at Oma's (my mom's) house, she said, in the way only a two year old can, "Mom! That is a great idea!"

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Lent and my Husband--edited

I have edited the contents of this post because I realized that I posted something that was probably a bit too personal for me and especially for my husband. Suffice it to say, my Lenten sacrifice will be to pray intensely for him, and to be more charitable in times of stress.

***

 You guys know how I like to include music in my posts. Well this here is indisputably the most beautiful music in the world (that's me at the end, saying "so awesome!"):

video