Wednesday, September 25, 2013

John 12:24

We all don't like to get unsolicited advice from people especially if we just spent time pouring our heart out to them. While I was in Alabama I asked for some advice from a woman named G who has been married about 20yrs. and they were never able to have children of their own. They got married when they were in their early forties and knew that they might not have children, even knowing this they were still disappointed. I asked her "how do you do it? How do you live or start to live your life knowing that children won't be a part of it the way you had hoped?" G explained to me that she didn't get too wrapped up in the disappointment or TTC she just lived her life with her husband. She said she poured her maternal instincts into her nieces, nephews, godchildren and children that God put before her to take care of. They never looked into foster care or adoption because it didn't really cross their mind. G told me to not give up hope that I will be a mother to a child here on earth someday and that it's all in God's hands and His timing. G told me to love my goddaughter and get to know her more, to pour my maternal instincts into loving her. Overall I left the conversation with G feeling very blessed and refreshed in hope!

Another scenario that happened while I was in AL was a woman who I have known since I was a teenager showed me a picture of someone I had gone to youth group with, in the picture she was holding her healthy baby that looked about 6months old. This woman knows our struggle very well and I asked why she was showing me this picture especially since the woman in the picture was not really a friend. She asked if I knew that the Drs. told the mother that the baby was not developing properly and would need surgery upon delivery if the baby had survived. She said they had a lot of people praying for the baby and when the baby was born she was fine, no surgery needed. I said I had known the story, puzzled the woman asked if something was wrong. Due to my post peak PMS bravery I told her that it is so hard sometimes to see pictures and hear stories of "miracle" babies when we don't know if that will ever happen for us. We don't know if God is promising us children now or in the future, that is what we are trying to discern. She seemed taken aback by my honesty and still confused as to why I would not find this story comforting. Believe me I am happy for this woman and that her baby is healthy but I left this conversation feeling like I was broken.

I don't want people to walk on eggshells around me because of IF but I do want to inform people that IF is no easy road where it is just peaches and sunshine as you wait and trust in God. The encouragement that they are trying to give you can call attention to the wound when you were not even thinking about it or leave you feeling like you are not doing enough. IF is a fight, a wrestling, a struggle, an inner war and an uphill battle as you try and make sense of the situation and then on top of that to try to follow God's will. You can't just wish or pray your IF away, which is super frustrating because believe me I have tried! Even if a beautiful healthy pregnancy occurs or an adoption takes place it does not magically make you "fixed" now or give you joy. Will you be happy? Of course, but it will not erase the pain that you endured and could still endure from the years of IF and/or miscarriage.

Now I have heard these lines of encouragement from people many times before "it's all in God's timing" or "its not God's will yet" or"you should relax and go on vacation, that's when it will happen" or "it will happen for you I just know it" and it would always frustrate me because I thought that the person didn't understand what I was trying to say, they didn't understand the pain and hurt I was in. So I would always brush off their advice or words of "encouragement" I would especially brush them off if they had children and had not gone through IF or miscarriage. It is very easy to dismiss those who "just don't understand." A lot of the times I would hold bitterness in my heart about their comments and warn myself never to share our struggles with those people again. It is very easy to turn inward and become bitter from IF and miscarriage.

Oh miscarriage, and I feel like my life changed forever the day that I started to miscarry. I no longer looked at our journey with a wave of hope, instead I saw a wave of disappointment that would continue for quite some time. I turned inward and started to guard my heart even closer, closing myself off from forming new or closer bonds with friends w/children or staying away from babies as much as possible. Part of this was a natural part of grief and part of it was self-pity. I turned inward in grief only revealing my true feelings to God alone, I barely started sharing some of these details with JJ. Then while in AL God gave me a glorious opportunity to share my heart with my husband. I let him in on the pain I experienced last year, he knew most of it but there was still stuff I was holding back. God convicted me while I was in AL of self-pity and many other things. It was such a wonderful release to lay it all down with Jesus and allow Him to start to heal those wounds from losing Cecilia. God did a wonderful thing to start to heal my motherly heart that was in so much pain.

I started to feel guilty about all the thoughts and feelings I had last year and then I realized that it was all part of a necessary process. It was all part of the process of grief. The day we were leaving for AL we got to have a private Mass in our Carmelite friars private chapel w/ one of the priests that was going with us. The Mass was at 3:30am as we had to be at the airport by 5am, so God gave us the grace to wake up for it. It was such a beautiful Mass and my Carmelite heart was so happy! This line from the gospel for that morning was very poignant for me and it kind of became my theme for the trip:

"Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit." John 12:24

It's kind of cryptic I know, but it really stood out to me, unless I die I will not produce fruit. Does that mean physically die? What do I need to give up? This got me thinking and journaling about this gospel verse. During one of my holy hours in AL I let my mind wonder on this subject...

I certainly felt like I died last year when we miscarried and JJ had his horrible accident at work. I felt like God was stripping everything that I loved away and I felt like death was ever before me. As a melancholic I think I am going to die all the time or the people I love most will. The gloomy outlook is something I am used to dealing with but last year was something different, death became really real. I always knew that my family, friends and I would die someday but suddenly my life became a real journey toward one end, heaven. To get to heaven we must die. Sorry to make this post so morbid it gets better I promise!

I started to think of this pang that I feel in my heart from IF and losing Cecilia. It gets better where you don't always think about it but it is still there always, like chronic pain you learn to live with. Then I thought this is kind of like the stigmata that some of the saints had. Now I am not comparing myself to some great saint but it reminded me that those saints had this special painful thing about them that kept them in constant union with Christ and His sufferings. This pain allowed them to constantly remember that their ultimate goal was Heaven and their life was naturally ordered toward Christ.

Then I realized that I would rather go to Heaven than have children. Not that children are evil or anything like that but that I need to NOT make children an idol before God. I need to stop turning inward and start turning outward toward others especially JJ. I need to not hold back love from humanity by saving it for my children that are not even here yet or my child who is not here on earth. I need to open up my heart more to those around me, keeping some boundaries obviously. I need to not just brush off people who are fertile or don't understand me. I need to not think my pain and cross are bigger and heavier than everybody else's. I need to realize that infertility and PCOS are just medical diagnoses I have, they are NOT who I am. All in all I just need to get over myself! This is not to say that I will be happy go lucky and the ever optimist, that's just not me or that the pains of IF will not effect me anymore. It is to say that I don't want to just remain a "grain of wheat" anymore I want God to take me to places I never thought possible. I am ready to bear some fruit  ;)

I will leave you with a song that has been my theme song this summer. It is kind of long but well worth the listen.  

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

General Update (No, I couldn't think of a better title)

So here is my attempt as I have some time between the laundry and making *home made coffee ice cream to update y'all on what has been going on around the Crow's Nest. JJ got some work for a couple weeks which was great but that ran out so he is back at the hall again. Hopefully he will get more permanent work soon, I really have no idea when that will be. I have been cutting back on things in the budget and learning how to do stuff for free or cheap like making sunflower seed butter at home instead of paying $5 for a 12 oz. jar in the store or trimming my own hair and adding layers by watching videos online. I will soon experiment with making my own laundry detergent and cutting JJ's hair (I am more scared about cutting his hair than my own). I have also been finding yummy paleo and grain free vegetarian recipes online and everything has come out good so far. So I have been pretty domestic lately which I have always loved and it is a fun challenge to live healthy on a budget!

I do have one dilemma and it sounds so superficial but I need new clothes. I have been losing weight and have gone down two sizes in the last 6 months. I haven't even been trying, I know I know cry me a river, but I do need to get back into working out. I have not done a good workout since before my surgery, it has been so hot around here that I have still been sweating it off but my muscle is fading. Anyway back to the clothes situation, a lot of my clothes are baggy now and the ones that aren't I just use over and over or they are for the colder weather. My mom told me I looked sloppy the other day as I told her my jeans were too big. She said that they didn't look too big and then I lifted my shirt so she could see that my backside was what was holding up my jeans and that I had a few inches gap between my belly and the jeans. I didn't ask her to buy me jeans as she had bought me some bras earlier that day. I am getting rid of a good amount of clothes from a couple of years ago where I was about 2-3 sizes bigger. I was holding onto some of them as "just in case I get pregnant clothes" but I really feel it is time for me to let them go.

So you are probably thinking, Kat just go to a thrift store and get some clothes on the cheap. Well here is the thing I don't mind buying clothes from a thrift shop as long as I wash them thoroughly, JJ on the other hand thinks its gross and does not want me to buy used clothes. Plus it is hard to find any clothes let alone at a thrift shop for a petite pear shaped gal. I really don't think I can justify spending any money outside the budget especially for clothes. Maybe I will just take JJ to the thrift shop and show him that it is not gross.

We will be teaching RCIA this year to one student who is a friend of a friend and she has an amazing story of why she wants to become Catholic. She was in the Army and visited the Vatican and she had a desire to become Catholic. She was not baptized or raised in any religion though her family is buddhist. I am so excited to teach her about the Faith and grow in my faith as well! We met with her a couple time and she is so solid as a person and really wants to be baptized, please keep her in your prayers! So I will be co-teaching w/  JJ on Sundays, volunteering at the convent when they need me, leading the support group and doing CrMS all of the other time. Oh yeah and babysitting my goddaughter Monday mornings! This is going to be a fun year :) 

As far as TTC goes we go back and forth a lot on this issue. I stopped charting the cycle we went to Alabama and it.was.glorious. the only thing was that I didn't know when to take progesterone so I didn't. I had a false pregnancy test when I thought I was late and AF came later that day. This cycle we decided to do the fem.a.ra and AF should be coming by the end of the week, hopefully she doesn't and stays far far away. If she does come we are taking another cycle off from meds. and then we will do clo.mid the cycle after that. Then after that we just don't know, we have said we will stop treatment but I don't know if that is forever or for a little while, God will let us know. We are just taking things cycle by cycle and seeing how we feel. I have discovered that stopping medical treatment is sort of like a weening process. There is so much pressure to keep going especially because we had the surgery, they recommend you try very strictly for 12-18 months after your surgery because the ovaries are more sensitive to the meds. To be quite honest we don't want to do too much meds. in the first place because we are uncomfortable with them. We really are just trying to give it to God and not try and control the situation. I really just want to do God's will!

I will end with a prayer request for a good friend of mine she and her DH are pregnant with their 1st baby. Her Dr. said that her HCG levels dropped a bit so naturally this new mom is scared. I know that you all are some of the strongest prayer warriors I know so please pray! I urged her to rest so I will be taking her dinner tomorrow night so that she doesn't have to cook or lift a finger. Please pray for her peace of mind and for the baby that it may be healthy and strong!


*So I have tried this recipe making it exactly how she does it except substituting 1/4 cup maple syrup instead of regular sugar. It cam out a little icy from the coffee added. So instead I warmed one of the cans of coconut milk in a small saucepan on the stove. Once it was warm I dumped in 1 &1/2 tablespoons of coffee grounds and let that steep for about 10-15 min. I strained it and combined it with the other can of coconut milk and rest of the ingredients. Then I let that mixture chill in the refrigerator for a couple of hours before putting it in the ice cream maker. She also has instructions on how to make it w/out an ice cream maker. I also got to make it with decaf coffee since I am sensitive to caffeine :)

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Sweet Home Alabama

I figured I would end my silence from the blogging fast with talk about our trip to Alabama in  August. First off, yes we are crazy for agreeing to go there in the middle of August. This Cali girl can not deal with humidity but God was so merciful and gave us beautiful weather. The nice folks in AL kept telling us it was such unusual weather for them and it is usually miserable mid-August. We are now paying for that weather by having the worst heat wave EVER! It was upwards of 108 degrees last week and we had humidity, ugh I hope fall comes soon.

Back to Alabama: Why did we go there? Family? Nope. A desire for the country life? Nope. Wanting to subject ourselves to humidity? Nope. Cracker Barrel? Nope. Ok ok, I'll tell you. We went on pilgrimage to Shrine of the Blessed Sacrament. You know the monastery that Mother Angelica built,  you know the little cloister nun that started EWTN. Yeah that's the one! In all honesty my dear reader even knowing that this place existed did not give us a desire to go there. We have friends who have gone several times and we were always like "what is in Alabama? I'd rather go to Europe or something. This doesn't sound like much of a pilgrimage." When the organizers first asked us we declined, then they asked us again because our friends who would be newly married would be going and wanted someone to share the car and house we rented. Originally we thought that we would be taking a road trip there, which is why we said yes in the first place, haha we were wrong we took a plane but it was still fun. So God roped us into going and I am glad He did!

First off Los Angeles sucks in terms of hospitality, we all know it. We are not big on having a sense of community here in L.A. and people don't really talk to each other on the street but Alabama now that is a whole different story. The people were so welcoming and nice as well as genuine. On top of all that people are not afraid to talk about Jesus or wear their Christian apparel, it is part of the Bible Belt ya know.

We were there for a week and we spent most of our time at the Shrine. It was like a pilgrimage/retreat/vacation all rolled into one. I got in a lot of prayer time and God really spoke to me there. I went to AL w? a lot of questions for God; What are you doing with my life? What do you want? What are our next steps regarding children? Where are you taking me? Will JJ ever work again? Should we move out of L.A. to find JJ work? What is the meaning of life? The last one is a joke, obviously.

 He did not give me answers pursee but He did give me peace and healing. The best part of AL was JJ and I were not "the IF couple" there. We were just us, a married couple on pilgrimage with 36 other pilgrims. It was such a wonderful feeling to forget about our IF even for a little while, more on that to come in a later post. The Mass is so beautiful and reverent there, the cloistered sisters sing at 7am Mass everyday. Everything there is centered on Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and it. is. beautiful. Go to the link above and look at some of the pictures. They have the 2nd largest monstrance in the world, almost 8ft. tall! If y'all ever have the chance to go there you must, we plan on going back.

There are a lot of topics percolating in my brain from our trip and as a result of the blogging fast some deal with IF and some do not. We have made some decisions regarding our TTC journey which I will share later. Oh yeah, I fixed the comments so that you don't have to do the word verification. I know that it can be annoying so I will try it but if I get a lot of spam I will go back to making you prove you are not a robot or spammer. For now here are some pictures from our trip!

The outside of the main Church.

Cool Perspective

Look at that blue sky! This is also their conference area and gift shop. It's a castle!

Love the clouds in JJ's glasses.

The gorgeous house we stayed at!

Goofy Pic

Serious Pic

Me outside in the courtyard.

My favorite pic taken on our last day there. It was cool and windy!


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

From fasting to fasting...

It is no secret that things are getting tense in the world so we here @ The Crow's Nest will be joining the Holy Father Pope Francis in his call for fasting and prayer this Sat. Sept. 7th. Our parish will be having all day adoration so we will be doing a holy hour and fasting for peace! I can't technically fast from food due to the hypoglycemia but I will be doing some form of fasting. I urge y'all to join us, imagine how awesome that will be for everyone to pray for the same intentions all day! 



There is so much that God has been doing in me through this blogging fast. I hope to share it with you all very soon. God has been speaking to me and working on me so much especially when we were in Alabama of which we took some great pictures. God bless you all and let us join in Pope Francis' urging to fast and pray for peace!