Sunday, December 27, 2015

Advent Re-Cap Maranatha

It is interesting that the 1st week of Advent coincided with Ma Crow's first week with us. She was discharged Monday Nov. 30th from the care facility and let me tell you, everything that could go wrong did. First off, the at home equipment that she was supposed to get did not show up and then we learned that the insurance would not approve anything except for a specialized walker. So we scrambled around in the beginning of the week to secure the necessary equipment. Since she did not have a hospital bed, Ma Crow stayed in our bed. JJ slept next to her so he could help her in the middle of the night and I slept on the couch. First time in our marriage either of us has slept on the couch!

The reason why JJ stayed the night close to her is that she was sick from her stomach and started to get a bad cough. She was up every two hours on the dot needing to use the restroom so we were all very sleep deprived... we kind of still are. I upped her probiotic and started giving her bone broth almost daily to help clear all that up. Seriously, you don't feel close to a person until you are checking the status of their poop! For her awful cough, which kept us all up all night, I did what my mom used to do; warm honey and cough medicine. The cough was almost completely gone in less than a week. We also had her breathe in steam to break up any mucus in there. Again, inspecting someone else's bodily fluids makes you feel really close to them.

Dealing with the insurance has been a pain. JJ has been the one dealing with them and I deal with the Drs. and medications. I am so used to taking so many meds and supplements a day that organizing someone else's is not that hard of a job. My main jobs have been meals, meds, laundry, clean up, blood pressure/temp. checker and  my favorite: poop inspector. On top of all that, I have been JJ's support when he feels overwhelmed. It is truly God's grace that got us through the first week. At one point JJ and I both said, "Maranatha, Come Lord Jesus!". The penance, emptiness and wonder of Advent has been deep within our hearts this year.

This has not been easy at all! Finding the balance between compassion, nurturing and fostering independence is hard. I am so glad God made me who I am as an organizer and scheduler so I have some format to go by. I am constantly trying to problem solve or see how we can make things work better for us all. Don't get me wrong, there are no rose colored glasses about scheduling because it can go out the window at any time. By the grace of God I have been able to keep tabs and remember her meds and my supplements daily without missing any of mine. Again, this has been due to God's grace! There are times where I even feel like I am thriving by doing this! We all have our moments of highs and lows or times where we are annoyed with each other. We are three introverts living together, so it is bound to happen that we get under each other's skin. It has been very difficult for me to have people in my house that I am not used to seeing on a regular basis; whether that be JJ's siblings, my FIL or medical personnel.

This care giving is a 24/7 job. It requires all of me and I am constantly asking God for the grace to get me through. There is no more "just me and JJ"; we have to consider Ma Crow. We have to make sure she is taken care of even when we are not with her. We have noticed that when we do not let her know in advance that one of my SILs will be with her for a few hours while we step out, she is thrown off  her routine and we all get a very bad night's sleep. She is not just recovering from a fall or surgery, she is recovering from a major stroke which means there has been some brain damage. Whether that is permanent or not is yet to be determined. There are times where JJ and I have both been at our breaking point and have thought we should not do this anymore, but usually the other is the strongest at that point and we encourage one another to keep going. I think the first two weeks JJ was having a hard time and this past week I have been the one struggling.

Time alone with JJ is a rarity and it has been hard to keep up our communication at this time since there is someone else here when we want to talk. Our 8 year wedding anniversary was spent with Ma Crow and we did not get to have a date alone on that day. We know that was a sacrifice we had to make at the time. My FIL is not my cup of tea as far as personality goes, so I have been having a really hard time with seeing him on a regular basis. There are times where I want to scream, hide or run away to go live with my mom. But that is not what marriage is. JJ and I are a team and this is where God is calling us to be; this is what He is calling us to do. I have realized how weak I am and how strong Jesus is. It is not because I am this great person that I am able to help care for Ma Crow, it is because God is so great that He can allow us to do extraordinary things.   

As tough as this is there is so much joy. There is much joy in giving of yourself to God's will for you moment by moment. There is joy in seeing Ma Crow's face after she does something she thought she could not do. It has been so amazing to be a part of her recovery and healing. I have discovered that I like crossword puzzles, thanks to Ma Crow, even though I thought I was not any good at them. My marriage is growing and JJ and I are becoming more in sync as we work as a team. Even though we have not had much time to communicate alone together, the skills we had before are proving to be very valuable as we care for Ma Crow. I cherish the inside jokes that we all have together. I know that JJ and I will not regret this time we spend with Ma Crow as trying as it can be at times.

I have received so much encouragement from family, friends and random strangers for caring for Ma Crow. The lady who processed our order for the medical equipment we borrowed from a local charity gave me a hug and said, "You are such a good daughter in law. Your mother in law is lucky to have you." People at church have stopped me to say that they are encouraged by JJ and I taking care of Ma Crow and my aunt gave me a great big hug at Christmas and told me I was doing a great job. My mom has been so helpful and a wonderful listening ear for me when I need her. She has helped me to get through the roughest patches. These encouragements have helped me to keep going and are confirming that God has me exactly where He wants me. I do not do this perfectly and I don't have a magic formula on how to do this well because there are so many areas I can grow in.  

Now Ma Crow has been with us for a whole month! We are not sure how much longer we will be taking care of Ma Crow before she is ready to go home. We take things day by day but we will need to figure out something soon, since we told our landlord that she will be staying with us for 4-6weeks. This has certainly been an adventure and has made us focus on what is important. Our Christmas has been pretty simple, but filled with gratitude. God has been so good to us and I pray He continue to bless us with life giving love. Merry Christmastide!   

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Care Giving and Motherhood

The notion that care giving and motherhood are the same would have had me shaking my head NO WAY a couple years ago. Heck, even a few months ago I would have strongly disagreed. I had this hazy fantasy of what motherhood is. I would be always joyful with light beams coming out of my fingertips and floating around as I do daily tasks for my children and husband. My home would be perfectly organized, the weekly menu was always planned and the chaos of family life would be easy to handle, since it would help me grow in virtue. Now that I am in the position of helping care for my mother in law (Ma Crow) a few days a week while she is rehabilitating from a stroke, I see things much different. My idea of motherhood is now very different than the idealized dream that infertility gave me. 

Yes, I still see babies as the cutest creatures on the planet and when you see them, the struggle to care for them makes it all worth it. But now I see what a struggle it is to care for another human being who is not independent and needs you to feed them, clothe them, change them and make sure their needs are taken care of. My mother in law is not at the point where we need to physically feed her but we do need to cut up her food and be preparing healthy nutritious foods for her recovery as well as watch her as she eats to make sure she does not choke. We are so used to seeing babies as the most vulnerable in our society, but what about our aging parents and grandparents? Well, Ma Crow's condition has certainly challenged my ideas of love and my capacity to give of myself.

At the beginning of July is when all of this started; when Ma Crow was sent to the hospital by her Dr. for extremely high blood pressure. That weekend while she was hospitalized, we learned that her right carotid artery was about 90 percent blocked. The hospital doc sent her home with meds and a warning to go to her primary Dr. asap to get a surgery date to unblock the artery or put in a stint within the next few weeks so they could prevent a stroke. Can I just say I HATE HMO insurance! All this led up to our greatest fear and what we were trying to prevent, a stroke.

The day before the stroke, JJ and I took Ma and Pa Crow to Santa Barbara and showed them our favorite spots to eat as well as exploring the Mission. We had such a lovely day with them. 

Pa and Ma Crow at Savoy Cafe where we had a very healthy breakfast

JJ and Pa Crow on the Mission Grounds

The Drs. said there was nothing more they can do for her condition. There were no other surgeries they would attempt; they would just monitor her every 6 months. It is almost like we were all waiting for this to happen, since we knew that a stroke was a huge possibility. The next morning after Santa Barbara, around 6am, the stroke happened. Thank God my SIL was home to call 911 once she realized what was going on; because my FIL had no idea what was going on. I got the phone call around 6:45 am and then called JJ right away so we could get to the hospital. That was six weeks ago. Since then, we have been by her side as much as we can advocating for her care.

 JJ's siblings are all adults and some live as far away as Arkansas, so it has been hard on the whole family. Everyone is doing what they can in the capacity they can to help care for her. Not being a blood relative, there are times where I question if I am stepping on any one's toes for speaking directly to her doctors and nurses; but then I think, if this were happening to my mom I would want to know answers. Plus, I have gone to almost every Dr. appt. with her, so I know what they have all said and question any discrepancies.

Here is the Crow Clan circa 1987.
JJ is the one Pa Crow is holding with a white shirt and a scowl on his face, lol. 

I have always had a pretty good relationship with my MIL. She is easy going, not one to tell me how to do things, and easy to get along with. JJ is very much like her. She and I have great discussions about Catholicism and her growing up in Minnesota. I have JJ call her often to ask how to cut up a chicken or I text her corny jokes. Even though she is not one to give advice, I will ask her for it because hey, she raised 6 kids! Having a good relationship with her has made it easier to care for her. There have been times since this has happened where JJ and I have cried at different times because this is hard to deal with and we truly feel we are walking with her through this suffering.

Caring for Ma Crow has made me feel even more like a mother than when I found out I was pregnant with Cecilia. I have been stretched and poured out in the way in which I am being called to at this point in my life. I told JJ last week as we were going to bed that I felt like a wet cloth wrung dry. Yes, I am tired, but it is a good tired; a tired that I remember feeling when I was a missionary. One where you know that you are doing exactly what God asks of you and grace allows you to take it day by day. I relate to my friends who have children in the sense that sometimes you are so tired you forget to brush your teeth in the morning, you are trying to figure out when you are suppose to eat and shower, you just want to wear lounge pants all the time to get things done and sometimes you feel so overwhelmed and ask "can I really do this?" Now, I am not saying I am superwoman and in charge of her entire care yet, but the days we have been with her at the rehab facility all day are tiring; especially in the beginning when we had to do so much for her. She still needs a lot of help, but she is progressing. It takes her so much longer to do simple things because she is very weak and still has some paralysis on her left side.

It has been such a rewarding privilege to be able to be a part of Ma Crow's care and see her progress. I am learning that it is not about me or any "pats on the back" of a job well done. That does not matter. What matters is Ma Crow and her recovery. I need to check my attitude and impatience (with my FIL) at the door and be a positive light for Ma Crow. I need to be an encouraging cheerleader and nurturer for Ma Crow. Letting her know that she can do it and God has a plan for her; even in this suffering. I need to push her doctors and nurses when needed so that they don't cut corners with her care. I see so easily in these facilities how people can get left behind because there is no one to speak for them. 

 Mainly, I need to practice charity toward Ma Crow and all those I encounter. It is not easy to do this normally, but when you are sleep deprived, it makes it that much more difficult This charity is going to become much more real in the next couple of days since a recent development is that Ma Crow will be released from the rehab facility and she will be coming home with JJ and I! Our home is the best imperfect situation for Ma Crow at this time. We have a small 1 bedroom apartment right now which sounds like this whole idea is crazy and the thoughts, "Can this actually work?", keep running through my head. Our whole life is about to get turned upside down again. My work schedule, alone time, time with JJ and daily tasks are all about to change and as a melancholic that is difficult since I do not like rapid change. I will be caring for another human being full time in my home and still working with CrMS clients. We will have some help from the insurance home health care worker for a couple weeks so that is a relief! I will have to realize that I have to cut myself some slack with work and family life since I will be learning how to juggle both at this time, which will be very difficult since I have high expectations for myself. I am terrified and feel like there is a moving train that I can not stop; so I either need to hop on or let it hit me. I vote for hop on!    

This is much like motherhood in that the true nature of our femininity needs to shine through and our gifts as women must take over. This is where that "feminine genius" St. JP2 talked about in his apostolic letter, becomes such a powerful tool to heal our broken world. That innate ability to care for others and desire to keep them safe."Grace never casts nature aside or cancels it out but rather perfects it and enobles it." (Mulieris Digitatem par. 5) Femininity and motherhood are made perfect in me through my very nature, even if that nature includes infertility. Motherhood includes the entire person, not just the body parts needed to become a biological mother. 

"The moral and spiritual strength of a woman is joined to her awareness that God entrusts the human being to her in a special way." (Mulieris Digitatem par. 30) Again, this entrusting is not just physical; it includes the entire person. This takes a continuous preparation through out a woman's life. This is uniquely designed for women. Men are not entrusted with the human being in the same capacity a woman is. This is why women are fierce and have so much power in our society, especially women who realize this responsibility. Women who possess this awareness become "an irreplaceable support and source of spiritual strength for other people, who perceive the great energies of her spirit." (Mulieris Dignitatem par. 30) Wow, just wow. Is this not a beautiful goal to strive for? This is is my goal. This is the type of woman and mother I want to be.

No, I am not breastfeeding a baby, changing poopy diapers, homeschooling or dealing with tantrums. I am not caring for little ones or cleaning up their mess. I am not lulling them to sleep or reading bed time stories. I am not worrying about a little ones cough or about the color of their poop. I am making bone broth, making healthy meals for Ma and Pa Crow to eat, helping her brush her teeth, telling her she did great at PT and praying with her when she feels she can not do it. I am brushing her hair, asking what outfit she wants to wear and making sure she does not choke on her food. I am sacrificing my usual amount of alone time and time with JJ because this is more important right now. I am seeing the toll this can take on my marriage and how easily the enemy can try and use this situation to drive a wedge between us.There are days when I am just trying to "get through", and the pile of laundry that needs to be put away or dishes in the sink, just have to wait. I relish my morning prayer time with a cup of tea when I get up early enough before the start of daily tasks. I ask God to help me keep going when I just want to curl up in a ball under my covers and hide from the world. 

I see the dignity of Ma Crow and want to uphold it while I care for her. But then the worry starts to creep in; that you are doing this all wrong because you see others do it so naturally. Being woken up in the middle of the night because the person you are caring for needs help. Being attached to your phone when you are away from the person you are caring for "just in case" that phone call or text is about them needing help. The worry that another stroke can happen to Ma Crow, since they can not really prevent it from happening again, and she is at high risk. I am leaning on the grace of the sacraments; heeding the words of my confessor that "a lung that breathes in also must breathe out" and trying to find a balance between what God is asking me to do vs. what I think I should do. This is motherhood. This is care giving. They are one in the same.

 My ideas of motherhood have been challenged and oddly fulfilled during this time of trial. No, I am not carrying life within my womb. I am mid-cycle right now and we did 5 different novenas the past cycle to conceive in a last ditch effort. I have actually been thankful that we don't have small children to care for at this time so that we can focus on helping Ma Crow. I feel that these past 7 years of infertility have trained me for such a time as this.  I am carrying life in my soul. That life is Jesus Christ and He is the life of the world. This is my calling as a woman: to bring Christ to the world around me in each situation I encounter. This is going to make me the care giver that Ma Crow deserves to have. This is going to transform and sanctify my soul. I know I will be very challenged in the coming weeks and months especially with regards to introversion, privacy and perfectionism. So, prayers would be greatly appreciated for us all! Finally, I think St. JPII says it better than I ever could: 

"The Church gives thanks for all the manifestations of the feminine 'genius' which have appeared in the course of history, in the midst of all peoples and nations; she gives thanks for all the charisms which the Holy Spirit distributes to women in the history of the People of God, for all the victories which she owes to their faith, hope and charity: she gives thanks for all the fruits of feminine holiness." (Mulieris Digitatem par. 31)

What would our world be like if more women answered this call or realized this awareness? What would your world look like? How would you go about your daily tasks differently?                            

Friday, October 30, 2015

Birthdays, Anniversaries, Chaplains, Anxiety, Illness and Retreats

I can't believe it has been more than 2 months since I have written here. I have been reading here and there when I get a chance but a major reason I have not written is the crazy schedule I have had lately. There has been so much that has gone on! What has changed is me. I feel like I have made some major strides and yet the same set backs and challenges have been there. So last time I left this little hub we had just taken our pilgrimage to Spain.

Since then we had an exciting and nerve racking opportunity to present a Creighton Model Introductory Session to about 100 military chaplains. This crowd included the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of the Military, military chaplains from all over and a couple monsignors! I was surprised at how once I got rolling with the presentation it felt so natural and easy. Well it should I have been giving it for almost four years! We got to meet the Archbishop and all I could muster to say was "Your excellency, thank you for having us here" while doing a slight bow. Yeah weird I know. I totally turned into a 13 year old fan girl at that point! I should have asked him for a blessing! It was so cool because they had a lot of practical questions for JJ about using NFP and its effects on a marriage. Overall it was a great experience aside from my awkward half bow to the Archbishop. One priest was even interested in having us come out to his base in Hawaii to present this there! We have not heard from him but to my knowledge there is not a practitioner in Hawaii and JJ and I feel if we are needed there then who are we to deny the great state of Hawaii from this vital information?

I had my 31st birthday back in July and JJ had his 33rd birthday at the beginning of September. It is funny that we are both summer babies yet we strongly dislike the summer and hot weather. We did not do much just went out to dinner with our parents. We have been so busy lately that not doing something was much more fun for us.

Right around the time the second or third PP video was released I started to have panic attacks and anxiety. I had not experienced them this bad since we lost Cecilia. I was afraid to be alone and I did not want JJ to go to work in the morning. We knew part of it was hormonal as my progesterone was low post peak and my PMS symptoms were increasing. We knew that the PCOS symptoms were getting worse with some unexplained weight gain and fatigue. Even though I knew I could fight the PCOS stuff with diet and getting back on progesterone I knew I needed professional help from a therapist. I have been wanting to pursue therapy for awhile. Actually I told my mom I needed therapy when I was 13 but, she never pursued it for me.

I did not want to slip back into the debilitating anxiety that I had a few years ago again so I asked my friend who I go walking with who her therapist was and if she was taking new clients. It turns out she was not taking new clients but she had a referral to another Catholic therapist. The therapist being Catholic is important to me because I studied a lot of psychology in college and I know there are weirdos out there that do not respect Catholic principles. Plus I wanted to have that common ground with the therapist so that I would be comfortable sharing with them. My first meeting at the end of August was great and I have been going weekly. I love that part of my "homework" from my therapist is to spend some time in Adoration with Jesus. There are so many layers for me to get through in therapy and not all are infertility related. I am glad I made the humbling leap to say I needed help because I am doing so much better today than I was doing a month ago. The anxiety is manageable and I have gotten great support from JJ and some good friends.

One of the things that was causing anxiety was the fact that we had the anniversary of Cecilia's due date in September. She would have been three years old. My heart hurt that day and it still does. I was growing anxious since we have not achieved a pregnancy again. The thought of "I am running out of time to be a mother" kept crossing my mind. The thoughts that I am "letting so many people down" by not being able to have children and "I am pathetic" also crossed my mind. Don't worry I know these thoughts are not true but when you are already dealing with anxiety it is hard to battle these thoughts. Again, therapy has been so good to bring these notions to light so I can battle them one by one. I will probably write about this at some point but I don't think I am quite ready yet.

Somewhere mixed in there at the end of August we took a road trip to Phoenix, AZ for a World Wide Marriage Encounter retreat. The beautiful Leila put an advertisement out on the book of faces. I checked our calendar and by God's amazing plan we had nothing scheduled that weekend! Which in itself was a small miracle since we had and have been booked every weekend since. JJ and I knew we needed this since we wanted to do something to build up our marriage. It was so neat to actually meet Leila in person and to get to talk to her a bit. Her and her husband are a gorgeous couple! Although the rules were pretty strict not to socialize too much with other couples since they wanted the spouses to focus on each other. I had to stop myself from going up to her and talking about Catholicism. The weekend was much needed for us and we did not realize how much we needed it until we were halfway through the retreat. It was hard to come back but we have gained some valuable tools from that weekend.

After that weekend we were tested with illness. Well I had a busted blood vessel in my eye the weekend of the retreat that was healing slowly. Oh and plus aunt flow cramps! Stupid AF showed up the day the retreat started. I guess we could not get away from infertility, not even for a weekend! Then the week after the retreat JJ had vertigo and I got food poisoning. So neither of us kept much food down for a couple days. Oh yeah, fun times in the Crow household!

The biggest illness has been my mother in law, Ma Crow's blocked carotid artery on the right side. Since early July I have been going back and forth to the Drs. with her to figure this out. They tried to do surgery and could not because they found the blockage to be too great. So basically the top vascular surgeons around said there was nothing they can do for her but keep her on medication and monitor her every 6 months. Well two weeks ago she ended up having a stroke. It has been a very difficult and trying time for us all. Our schedules and priorities are changing. JJ is going through a lot since it is his mom and I am trying to help in any way I can. I am blessed to have a mother in law that I love very much and am close to. She is always supportive and willing to listen to me, even about infertility, so I am having a hard time watching her suffer. I am so proud of the way in which Ma Crow is taking this suffering though, more on that to come in another post. Please keep her in your prayers please! She is an amazing lady who loves God and those around her. Her favorite prayer is the Anima Christi prayer so you can pray that for her.                        

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Buen Camino, Peregrino!

I recently had a friend who made the pilgrimage of  "The Way of St. James" or "Camino de Santiago". She was putting pictures and videos up on the book of faces, and as I watched her walk the camino I imagined myself there. I imagined the toil, strength and will it would take to journey that far. I have always wanted to go to Spain but could not afford the opportunity. I can't imagine I will anytime soon either. Then when I saw this post by Cecily about an at home pilgrimage to France, I thought JJ and I must do the same! So this past Sunday we became peregrinos to Spain from home. Here is what our day looked like...

We actually started preparing for our journey by watching the movie, "The Way", on Friday and Saturday evening. In the morning on Sunday we took a walk, because all pilgrims need to walk if they can. So we headed to our local Carmelite cloistered monastery.

This is a bridge we crossed on our way there. I chose to do black and white photos to make them a little more artistic. Doesn't JJ look so deep in thought?

The connection to Spain is that these are Discalced Carmelite nuns; the order of St. Teresa of Avila. You can actually go to Mass with the nuns every morning M-Sat. except Sundays, since it is their community only Mass. We are very blessed to have these Sisters so close to us and they are so faithful in praying for your intentions if you ask them.

Every pilgrim needs to stop and smell the roses. They also must contemplate what brought them on their pilgrimage and how they can become closer to God through the experience. Their roses smell lovely by the way. 

This is my favorite picture of the day! So serene and hidden you can be at a cloistered monastery. I love the shadows of the trees and the sunlight on their porch. JJ found this spot after me protesting that on Sunday the monastery does not like visitors so we should not go on the porch. He insisted that, as pilgrims, we must explore. I am glad he convinced me! 

While at the monastery we sat on the steps outside the main chapel and read the life of Sts. Isidore the farmer and his wife Maria de la Cabeza. JJ lead us in praying St. Isidore's litany and we took some time for reflection. Did you know Sts. Isidore and Maria only had one child who died in childhood. We feel so much more connected to these Saints now.   

After the monastery we headed home and got ready for Mass. Luckily we already go to a Discalced Carmelite parish so we did not have to seek out anything far from us. We went to the 1pm Mass which is the Latin High Mass and I wore my Spanish mantilla of course! 

When we returned home we had a snack of cheese, olives, figs and chocolate. We could not have a pilgrimage to Spain with out chocolate. After our snack we took a siesta.   

Then I got to work on dinner which was paella and white wine/peach sangria. Yum! These pictures are better in color so you can see the beautiful colors of the food.  

We ate this delicious dinner as we watched Episode One on the life of St. Teresa of Avila with Concha Velasco who is a famous Spanish actress. The whole thing is almost 8 hours long so we will be watching it over the next week or so. We call it our telenovela.   

All in all, I think it was a fun day and we had some time for prayer, reflection and rest. We definitely want to do this again and we have other countries already picked out. Our goal is to do this once a month so give me any suggestions for Saints or Countries. So far we want to do France, Italy, Ireland, Mexico and Israel. It was so good to go out of our normal routine and purposefully give the day a more spiritual reflection. I encourage each of you to try this as I am sure you will not regret it! Buen Camino, Peregrino!    

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Raising Children is not Sanctifying... Me!

Raising children is not going to sanctify me. At least not at this point in my life. Let me explain before you think I am anti-child or parenting. I have been mulling over this thought of how raising children is sanctifying. I  know that it is sanctifying my friends and family because that's what children do right? I keep thinking "I know raising children is hard and can make you less selfish, which is sanctifying you every day. Why is God waiting to give me sanctification?! I want to be sanctified!" 

Well, dear reader, guess what?! Having children is not what is going to sanctify me, at least not at this moment. What is sanctifying me is NOT having children. For those who are dealing with the day to day diapers, meals, messes, tantrums and everything else that comes along with having children, this may be hard to hear. It may make you feel like what you are doing is not important for the Kingdom of God... Welcome to my world of not having children and how that can make me feel. What I am saying is that what you are doing corresponds to what God chose for your sanctification; but not for me. It may be hard to wrap your mind around how not having children can be sanctifying. I mean, I must have such an easy care free life, right? No tantrums to deal with or sleepless nights. It is true I am not dealing with raising children at the moment, but I do have some sleepless nights and JJ and I do throw an occasional tantrum. Despite NOT raising children we are being sanctified, becoming less selfish and growing in virtue.  

 The way that God has chosen to refine me is by not raising children, at least at this time. How does this refine me? On a practical level when I hear my friends' or family's children call out "mama", I desperately want to hear that said to me. In those moments the cross seems so heavy to carry. In those moments I have to turn to God and ask Him to give me the grace to accept the life I have been given. And not just accept it but to live it joyfully with gratitude! When I hear people jokingly say, "Oh wow, you get a lone time?! I would love some of that!", it takes all the virtue I can muster to not tell them to shut their trap. When I see a pregnant woman rubbing her belly and complaining about her pregnancy in conversation, it takes courage to stay there and not run to the bathroom and cry my eyes out. When I have to tell my husband that aunt flow is visiting again it is a lesson in humility that I do not have control over creating human life; God does. When I feel lonely when JJ is away and wish I had a baby to cuddle in those early mornings, I have to gratefully accept my life. When I am feeling cramps instead of labor pains I have to pour out my life to God and say "Thy will be done." 

If you have known me for a long time you would know that the most important thing to me in choosing the vocation of marriage was to raise children and have a big family. My friends and I used to joke that I would have a 12 passenger van or an SUV full of children and a crazy chaotic home life. We all agreed that I would be so good with children and domestic life. We always said I was made for it. So those who have known me a long time can recognize how heartbreaking infertility has been on me. How sanctifying it has been for me.  

You see, we can get caught in the line of thinking that parents are the only ones being sanctified because of their heroic duty of raising children. This simply is NOT true! We are all being sanctified in the day to day life that God is calling us to live. I used to think "If only...I would be holier" or "If I had ...I would be content." We can all get caught in that type of thinking whether we are infertile or not. I remember feeling like I needed to change my circumstances when I was a missionary in order to be "better sanctified". I was on a missionary team that had very different team leaders than myself. As an introvert, that was one of the hardest years for me because I got very little, if any, alone time. I remember thinking "if I were only on a team with like minded individuals I would be holier" or "this can not be the team that God meant for me! The supervisors got it wrong" or "maybe I should just go home. This is too hard." Conveniently during that trying time I was reading The Imitation of Mary during part of my daily prayer time. On a day that I was struggling the most I read the following:

"No, your state is not of itself a barrier to holiness. For it is not the place nor the occupation that sanctifies a man; it is the man who must sanctify the place and the occupation. 

We often turn our thoughts to some state other than the one in which we are. The reason, however, is not love of goodness but our restlessness. 

What gain would you have in changing? Would you be a better person? No: in changing your situation or condition, you might change your mood, but not your character. 

Wherever we go, our defects follow us. My child, what you must change is not your state or duties but yourself..."  

Ouch, right? These words hit me particularly hard when I was a missionary and they have resurfaced lately as I contemplate this idea of sanctification with out children. You see, it was not my team that needed to change, it was me! That team was exactly the one I needed to be on to sanctify me. It's not the infertility that needs to change, although that would be awesome, it's me that needs to change. I need to be sanctified right where I am at, and for me that does not include children at the moment. It may never include children here on earth.  

Whatever your "only if" is, let it go. Let it go right into the arms of Jesus. You can grow and be sanctified no matter what state in life you are in, even if it is one you never imagined for yourself. If God in His infinite wisdom and mercy can make ME see sanctification in living a childless life, I am sure you can too, since you are most likely less stubborn than I. Know that this does not diminish the struggle, but makes it holy; an offering to God. All of us can be refined and glorify God. Not one situation is more sanctifying than another. Raising children is NOT more sanctifying than consecrated religious life, childlessness or the single life. We must encourage one another as we walk this road of sanctification, urging each other on toward Heaven. Onward and upward!     

 "Sanctify what you do in your present state by referring it all to God, and you will not have cause to complain that your duties are a source of distraction...

Holiness does not consist in serving God where and as you would like, but where and as He wishes. 

You will glorify God more on a bed of pain if it be His will that you lie there, than if you were to wear yourself out with hard work in an effort to win souls for Him."      

Friday, July 10, 2015

Big Prayer, little work

I have been much busier than usual lately. As an introvert and more on the extreme introvert side of the spectrum I have been stretched to my limits lately. Well let's back up here a bit... So in April my CrMS work was pretty slow so I had more free time. The other practitioner at our center and I were wanting to get more clients but wanted to wait to see her final exam results before we did business cards and such. So we didn't do much on the CrMS front other than go to a clergy day organized by NFP in OC for clergy in the Orange diocese and surrounding diocese. Well I am technically in the L.A. Archdiocese but I was invited to go so we can mingle with priests from my area if they went. It was kind of an introvert's nightmare but I got through it and talked to a couple of priests and a deacon's wife.

 Then I got the crazy idea that we should do this in L.A. and do what they are doing in the Orange diocese with NFP. So then I started speaking with the priest who was organizing the event and he is a go getter let me tell you. So we met with him to figure out what we need to do which I knew the answer but didn't want to hear it. We have to do a lot of networking with fellow NFP teachers and enthusiasts, more nightmares for an introvert! So he gave me some homework to do which simple, like emailing NFP teachers in L.A. to see if they would be interested in helping. Have I done that yet? Nope. I know that once I do that the real work begins and I am procrastinating. So there is that assignment looming in the back of my head. 

I got another crazy idea that I could start to babysit my cousin's 7 month old son full time. It seemed like a great idea at the time since CrMS was slow. Well let me tell you how bad an idea that was! The week I watched him I had 3 CrMS inquiries and took on 5 new clients a week later. I had to break the news to my cousin that I could not watch her son, that was tough. I would like to do everything for everyone but I can't.

 God is making it clear that right now that the work He is setting before me is CrMS. As much as I'd like to be doing mostly domestic things, like raising children, that is just not where He has me right now. The week that I babysat baby J was amazing and difficult. Props to the mamas and nannies raising children out there. God gave me great consolation in the follow ups I had that week with my clients. I was exhausted from baby J during the day and then going to follow ups at night but I cried because I love my job so much. I love being a practitioner and the people I get to encounter. So I have taken on 8 new clients since then and 2 transfer clients while another practitioner is on maternity leave. This has kept me pretty busy but with each inquiry and new client I say "OK Lord what do you want to teach me through them? Let's do this!" I also need to start the process of getting my certification since I will be the responsible practitioner at our center. This means more paperwork, applications and continuing education training. Which we have a practitioner refresher course coming up in a few weeks in Orange County. 

Aside from that JJ and I recently went to an NFP speaker training in the diocese guessed it Orange. I know we should just move to OC but we know God has us in L.A. for a reason. We would like to get more involved in doing NFP talks at parishes and anywhere where they want to hear what we have to say. JJ has talked about wanting to do this for years but I am the one who would just like to be in a hobbit hole and hide from the world. I would like to stay in my little comfort zone but God keeps pulling me out! So we are on a roster of speakers that they can call to give talks at parishes where they request an NFP speaker. I am sure we are at the bottom of the list since we technically don't live in the OC diocese but hey its still a step forward. 

We are still teaching an NFP marriage prep. class at our parish once a month too which hasn't gotten slow since it is wedding season. We have encountered some great couples from doing this over the last few years. So we get to practice talking about NFP in small groups of about 4-12 people. The practice helps and has made us too very comfortable talking about NFP to people. 

On top of all of this my mother in law was in the hospital last week. She was released last Friday but has to go back for surgery within the next few weeks. This has been a bit nerve racking since this came out of nowhere. I love my mother in law very much and get along with her really well and am praying her surgery goes well. Please keep her in your prayers if you remember! She is an awesome lady who raised six children and despite living in L.A. is such a down to earth mid west Minnesota woman. I am going to her Drs. appts. with her so that I can ask them questions and feel them out. I told my MIL she is going to be so tired of me at the end of all of this! She said she could never get tired of me. I am her favorite daughter in law...well I am her only DIL, haha. 

Sometimes I just want to hide and ask God "how do you expect me to do this?" He has answered with "BIG prayer, little work." When I look at it that way it doesn't all seem so overwhelming. I need to go back to daily Mass which means I have to get up and be ready by 7:15 am to make it by 7:30am. I need some discipline and Mass has always been a preferred way for me to pray. I have been catching adoration whenever I can steal a moment at the office. I mean the adoration chapel is down the stairs and down the hall from my office so I have no excuse! JJ and I have tried to pick up doing a daily rosary together again. This is hit and miss lately but we are getting better at it. With all that has been going on I know I need to steal away time for prayer, solitude and fun or I am not a great human to be around. 

So that's what is going in my life lately. JJ and I will be going out of town for a couple days to relax. Not too far away since we want to be close to my MIL still. We are going with my mom who is on vacation from work so it will be a nice little family getaway. We so need it! Oh and next week is my birthday! 31 I can't believe it! I will probably have some reflections about that soon. JJ asked what I wanted to do for my birthday and I said, "I'd like to got to a coffee shop by myself so I can read and write. Well you can be there too so long as you don't talk." Ha, classic introvert ;) 

Here are some things that have kept me happy and sane during this time. Yes they revolve around food and drink, don't judge me!  

Making Pioneer Woman's recipe for iced coffee. It is super easy! 

Drinking said iced coffee :) Is it wrong that I feel the only way to drink iced coffee
 is out of a glass mason jar? 

This slice of gluten free cookies and cream cheesecake JJ got me from a specialty bakery.
Don't worry I shared with him ;)  

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

When NFP Sucks...

I know, not what you would expect from me huh? The NFP loving CrMS teaching practitioner is saying that NFP is a form of sacrifice and it sucks at times. All those posters and brochures about NFP are of happy smiling couples; so why is it so hard for some? Well it just is. Like anything in life, it's not something we want to have to do. Can't we just get what we want right away with out having to do any work? It's the American culture, right? 

All of my many CrMS charts which hold 6 months of charting so that is at least 5 years of my life right here! Not to mention the 3 STM charts I had previously before starting CrMS so that is another 3 years...

"Kat, I'll be honest; I feel complacent. Why am I doing this?" 

"Why can't I just go see the Dr. right away? Why do I have to chart two cycles with you and delay the process of seeing the Dr.?" 

"How did we conceive? That was suppose to be a dry/infertile day?" 

"What's going on in my chart? I am so frustrated!"  

"I am scared to get pregnant again! The last one had so many complications and my kids need me." 

"I don't want to do this but my priest is making me take these classes before I get married." 

"I feel so messed up and broken inside like my body knows what normal is and does the opposite." 

"Is today a 'safe' day?" 

"I just want to know when I can have sex with my wife again."

"This has been hard on our marriage!" 

"I thought this was suppose to be easy!" 

I have heard all of these platitudes from clients in the last 3 years of teaching CrMS. I have walked along side every difficulty with my clients as well as wrestling with my own NFP difficulty. The truth is that NFP, however you are using it, is not always easy. I have clients who find it very easy to do and have been able to postpone a pregnancy for a year and then get pregnant on their 1st cycle trying to conceive. I have people who love this and even want to teach it someday. I have people who get pregnant after 6 months of using CrMS after 2 years of prior infertility. 

I also have the tough cases. The ones we NFP teachers are afraid to talk about because we don't want to scare anyone away from NFP. The ones who are still infertile despite the best charting and normal looking cycles even with cooperative medical treatment, umm hello that's me! The ones that were seriously trying to avoid a pregnancy, followed instructions and still became pregnant. 

We got a call last night around 8:30pm, we usually don't answer calls at that time since JJ has to go to sleep by 9pm or so. JJ answered the phone before I could yell say "don't answer it!" It turns out it was a man inquiring about CrMS but he already had a practitioner. He wanted to see if there was another one closer to them. My husband told him we were the only ones around his area which isn't a far drive but its not convenient for them. Well after talking to him for about 20 minutes my husband realized this man just wanted encouragement to keep going with learning CrMS. He and his wife have 5 kids and he is motivated to stick with Church teaching and not use contraception but his wife is not. This man just needed someone to acknowledge his struggle and say he was doing a good job. I am so glad JJ answered the phone even though I initially was upset because he needed to wake up at 3am the next morning for work!

This man's story is no different from many I know where they have a love/hate relationship with NFP. They love the idea of it with the lower divorce rate, better communication with your spouse and knowledge about a woman's overall health and fertility. What is difficult is when we are met with challenges to something that seems so beautiful in its ideology and difficult in its practice. We want a magic wand to wave away the difficulties so we can go on with normal life and not have to analyze our cervical fluids everyday. 

Here is the thing y'all; NFP is just more difficult for some of us. There are various reasons it can be difficult which include, but are not limited to, the observations, charting, instructions, timed intercourse with your spouse or ,despite you following the method 100%, you are still not getting the desired results. I am here to encourage you to keep going if NFP is something you need to do. This is why the Church says that if you are going to avoid a pregnancy by periodic abstinence during the fertile days of a woman's cycle it must be for a serious reason. NFP makes you realize whether or not your reasons are serious because who among those with difficult cases and fertility signs would do this if they did not have to! For those who find NFP difficult because they have not been able to achieve a pregnancy or figure out why they keep losing babies, I am right there with you. You have a special place in my heart and God initially called me to teach CrMS because of you. 

Some of us may feel lied to because NFP was touted as an easy way to "plan our family" but that is not always the case. They never mentioned the struggle before. They never mentioned that not all of us get exactly what we want or what we think we want out of planning our family naturally. Not all of us have perfectly "normal" easy to read signs of fertility. Not all of us have predictable fertility. As someone who is not getting what she wants from NFP and teaches it, sometimes I feel like an impostor for teaching about NFP because it has not "worked" for me. I know I am a rare case and most people can use NFP with out too much trouble. NFP has not given me a living child but it has helped me to uncover some serious issues and get them treated appropriately. It has allowed me to know so much about my body and assist my doctor in treating me. Good things aside, it has not always been easy.  

I know this is a huge reason why I teach CrMS. Not just because I have a natural knack for understanding this subject, but for those of us that fall outside of the spectrum of the norm. The hardest part of NFP is trusting God with your family size. Trusting that His will is better than your will. Since I have experience in learning to trust God's will as well as still struggle with it, I can better understand those who are experiencing difficulty with NFP. Even though their situation may not be the same as mine I can understand wanting to rip your charts, burn your books and toss your thermometer in the trash. But for those of us where NFP is necessary at this time and are sticking with it despite the difficulties, I commend you. I pat you on the back, give you a standing ovation and high five you. I sometimes question right along with you; why can't it be easier? I am here with you, walking my journey too.           

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Why I Veil

Wow I am a blogging machine lately! Its really because I have about 15 draft posts that I would like to finish up. Before I get to talking about veiling, here is a craft I recently did for our door! 

There have been various articles on veiling that I have seen floating around on the web. There are some on the tradition of the veil, how a veil is attractive to a man and why some women choose to wear a veil at Mass. As I was talking to my friend about it all I told her my story with the veil. She said I should write about it so here it goes! I am not trying to convince any woman to wear a veil to Mass, although I think it would be lovely, I am just sharing my story and why I wear it. 

I have been wearing a veil to Mass since January 2009. I wore it to a wedding...well actually the first time I wore a veil to Mass was at my wedding in Dec. 2007. My connection to the veil was long before 2007 though. My great grandmother, Rafaela, was my first exposure to the veil. I can't remember an instance where she didn't wear it in church or at Mass. She wore one up until she couldn't physically go to Mass anymore. When I was a child and saw her wearing it I thought it was the most beautiful romantic action of hers because it reminded me of history, tradition and a wedding of course. She passed away in Nov. 2006 at 97 years old and my fondest memories are seeing her in Mass wearing her veil. The veil represented her commitment to God and His Church and I thought it was so cool that this holy woman was my great grandma. When I would see her at first Friday Masses in elementary school I would go up to her after Mass while she was doing her after Mass prayers and tell her "hi", even when I was in junior high. Yup, that's how proud I was that she was part of my family!

Fast forward to my time on N.E.T. and I remember one of my sisters from TX (shout out to TX!) was talking about how she wore the veil sometimes and I was so intrigued. I thought it was a beautiful tradition but wasn't sure if it was for me. I didn't want to hide my hair plus at the time I was a jeans and tshirts gal, even to Mass. I was having a really hard time with my femininity at the time too as I was in that "I am no longer a teenager but wouldn't consider myself a woman yet" I just wasn't quite sure what real femininity looked like. Who would I be as a woman and how did the veil fit in? The veil is also a symbol of chastity which is something I had always struggled with. Before I became a missionary I was in an unhealthy relationship with a man who was older than I was. Part of the reason I became a missionary was so that I could get away from the whole situation because I couldn't seem to stay away from that relationship, yet I was unhappy that it was driving me farther away from God. 

When I got home from N.E.T. I was seriously thinking about the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart and if God was calling me to enter that order. I thought about being Christ's bride and His alone which would mean I would wear a veil all the time. This really made me plunge into reflection about my femininity. The veil would encourage me to uphold my dignity in and outside of Mass especially in regards to what I wore to Mass. I couldn't just wear a tshirt and jeans or a short dress/skirt to Mass with my veil now could I? I had to dress modestly, with style of course, but modest. Wearing the veil would also mean I would need to uphold my dignity in regards to purity which is something that was going to be a challenge for me. It was easy to be pure while I was a missionary because we weren't allowed to date. When I got home the dating scene was still there, this man was still there and the same temptations never left but something was different, I was different. I wanted something different and I was going to strive for it. I wanted to strive to be worthy of my wedding veil either as a sister or a wife.   

When I was on retreat with the Sisters I very clearly felt that God was not calling me to them which saddened me in part because I would not get to wear a veil. I remember thinking the only time I would get to wear one was on my wedding day. Little did I know that people can still wear a veil and be married or single! I was so naive. At the time I was still uncomfortable with the prospect of wearing a veil to Mass because I would stand out. I don't like attention on me so if I wore a veil people would see me and I wasn't ready to let that happen. A big part of that was pride! When we think of ourselves and our insecurities too much we aren't thinking about God and pleasing Him. I also thought about the whole "why do women have to cover their hair? What about men?! How sexist is that?!" Again, pride. But the veil is so much more than just covering your hair and men vs. women in the Church!  

You see, I like to be veiled or hidden at Mass not because I need to hide my getting more grey by the day gorgeous hair because it is a distraction. I veil because it is sign of my, here comes the word that makes everyone squirm, submission to God. It is a sign of my submission to Christ, His Church and the vocation he has given me as JJ's wife. As a woman I feel more attuned to being the bride of Christ than my husband does, he never got to wear a veil at his wedding or be called the bride. He is not the bride. I am and he is the bridegroom. This is why men find it harder to relate to being the bride of Christ because they don't get to be one in the natural world! They much more relate to being the bridegroom because that is who they are in the natural world.

In one of our conversations with each other JJ remembers me telling him that I would want my future husband to propose to me by giving me a veil. I wanted to be like my great grandmother who was a beautiful example of a woman and part of her beauty was her wearing her veil. She humbled herself before the Lord and I wanted to do the same, to humbly serve in my vocation. One of the traditions behind the veil is the symbolism of a woman being part of her husband's family, of being under his protection. So when JJ proposed, part of it was presenting me with a white mantilla veil and I knew he was going to ask me to be his bride at that point. The whole proposal was really beautiful but the fact that he gave me a lovely white mantilla veil was particularly meaningful. I knew this meant he wanted to guard my femininity and honor it with his own masculinity. It meant that he was taking me under his headship as my husband and my beauty is reserved for Jesus and him. I also love the fact that he remembered our conversation. How romantic! 

For practical reasons I like the veil because I can focus better at Mass and not look around or have people talk to me before or after Mass. I am not scrupulous about wearing my veil because I usually forget it for daily Mass. I used to be more scrupulous but found myself shaming myself when I forgot it or not going into adoration because I did not have my veil. As I have worked hard to overcome most of my scruples I don't feel so bad when I forget it. I do have a couple back ups in the car in case I forget my veil pouch but for the most part I usually wear it to Sunday and Holy Day Masses always. Also the veil is great way to hide a bad hair day!       

I feel very connected to the femininity of the veil with its delicate intricate detail yet sturdy enough to last for generations. It reminds me of the way our bodies are made as women. So delicately knit but strong and durable to be able to carry life and give birth. Every cycle women go on a hormonal roller coaster and there is so much going on in our bodies that prepares for ovulation and the possibility of life. One hormone being released has an effect on 3 different body parts at once. It is fascinating to me and it is a reason why I love being a CrMS practitioner! As women we, hopefully, get to shelter a child in our womb the way the veil shelters a woman in Mass. The veil is an outward sign of reverence and covering that which is holy. Even though I have not been able to carry life to full term and may never, I still feel very feminine and motherly because I am called to bear Christ to the world. When I wear my veil I am strongly reminded of who I am called to be and who God made me to be; holy. I feel beautiful when I wear my veil, even more beautiful than I felt on my wedding day.

So all this talk about why I veil, but now here is a little challenge for the Marian month of May ladies: wear a veil once in May to daily Mass or Sunday Mass. If it feels too weird to go to your parish where people know you then go to a different parish where no one knows you. Do you veil already? If you do please share why and how it makes you feel? If you are a blogger write about the challenge if you do it! I am interested to hear other women's perspectives on this topic. If you need help finding a veil try your local Catholic gift shop or Veils by Lily has some beautiful ones in all kinds of colors and styles. If you want more info. on veils in general this is a great resource from Fish Eaters


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Infertility 101

So this week it is National Infertility Awareness week. I have mixed emotions about this week because Catholics dealing with infertility are often put down for not doing treatments like IVF and other ART procedures. It can almost sound like we don't want children bad enough if we don't use ART which is so not the case. I am glad there is a dedicated week to raising awareness about how difficult infertility is, whether primary or secondary. I just don't like the promotion of ART that this week can have but what are you gonna do? To be quite honest I am annoyed with infertility and have been wanting to hide from all the and blog posts about it this week. Infertility is annoying, it is obviously more than annoying but that is my feeling about it lately.

After 6 years of it I feel like we are barely settling into it. All this time we had tried to fight it (rightly so!) with Drs. appts, surgeries, blood draws, medications, ultrasounds, diet changes, charting and timed intercourse. Most recently we did another hormone profile blood draw series to make sure that my hormone levels were not contributing to LUFS. It turns out they are not so, that is some good news! It is also a bit frustrating since everything looks fine and normal except that I am not ovulating but I am producing a great looking follicle that is not releasing the egg. Its almost as if my body is trying to kill off its eggs. The only possible treatment is to inject myself with hcg or another medication each cycle in the hopes that it might work. After a lengthy discussion and praying about it JJ and I have decided not to do that. We are just not comfortable, although it is completely moral, with the long term effects this can have on my body.

Now that that is all behind us we are learning to live as a childless couple. I am letting JJ take the lead if we should try more medical treatment but for now I am trying to be being docile to JJ's lead. His answer has been a firm no for any more medical stuff and I am OK with that. I did not think when we first started this medical journey that it would be ending like this. No baby in our arms. We were so sure that we would have children by now. I do not think I will ever be able to convey the pain and hurt that infertility and losing a child can cause. You just really don't know unless you have been there. You can pray for us all you want but please for the love of all that is good and holy don't give us any advice and don't tell us stories of people who have adopted then gotten pregnant or who conceived after such and such treatment. It really is not helpful. Oh and don't tell us it will happen when we least expect it, for some of us we have not expected it for awhile now and its still has not happened.

Infertility is depressing and that is why for those of us who will likely be on this island for the rest of our lives often find ourselves dealing with people who are uncomfortable with our infertility. Our society thinks "there MUST be a solution to this so I will offer my advice and we need to get these infertile couples children so we feel comfortable being around them so we will bring up adoption or foster care. It is unnatural for married couples to not have children." It IS unnatural for married couples not to be able to have children which is why infertility stings so much but offering solutions that you know nothing about does not help heal the hurt it makes the wound bigger. The reason is because what an infertile couple hears is "you are not good enough on your own and you need to raise children or we see you as less than and pathetic." You may not be saying that exactly but when you offer a solution of trying to "fix" the problem you end up making the other person very aware of their brokenness.

The beautiful gifts of adoption and foster care are not cures for infertility. They take away childlessness which is HUGE but not infertility. As of recently JJ and I have decided to not pursue adoption or foster care at this time. Again I am being docile to his lead in this area. We had a big conversation about it a few weeks ago and I am at peace with our decision. Does it still hurt and would I love to be parenting and loving children of my own? Of course! The pain and frustration although tempered is still there. There are times I can see the very real pain in JJ's eyes and it is heart breaking. Men suffer from infertility too! A lot is focused on the pain of the woman but men most often suffer silently. They put on their strong face for the world but their heart break is just as real even though different from their wives.

One of the things that JJ said only a couple days ago is to take a step back and see where God is leading us. He also brought up a good point that we have so many religious orders, friends, family and readers praying for us that we need not worry when/if it will happen anymore. JJ is open to adoption and foster care just as much as I am but for some reason we are not pursuing it at this time. Adoption is just so expensive and I know we can fundraise and probably will when we do move toward it but I would not want to fundraise before we are home study approved. With foster care we are in the same boat of not moving forward for various reasons. You may not understand why we are not moving forward and some days I do not understand either but it is where we are at.

So here we are married and infertile. Is that good enough? Will you stop reading? Does my barren womb make you uncomfortable? I don't have a cute bump or baby pics to post and I won't have any announcements any time soon, if ever, on adoption or foster care. We may remain a childless couple, I can't believe I am writing these words because this was not our plans for our marriage. Infertility was not in our plans but apparently it was/is in the plans. The feelings of this realization are mixed with sorrow and peace knowing that we strive to remain in union with Christ and each other. That is all we can do and that is all we are capable of right now. I am not sure which direction this blog is heading. I know I like to write and will not be focusing so much on growing our family anymore so I have been discerning whether to keep up with blogging or not. So far I don't have an answer yet.