Monday, March 26, 2012

Greatness is not defined by how much you have, but by how much you loved.

"For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much..." ~ Luke 7:47

My father-in-law Joe was called home today during the hour of mercy (3:40 p.m.). Last Monday evening, on the feast of St. Joseph (his namesake), Dad had a severe intercranial hemorrhage (stroke).  He woke up paralyzed on his left side.  My mother-in-law Kathy was able to get three of her sons and their families on the phone with Dad.  We were all able to tell him how much we loved him, and he us,  before he slipped into a coma less than thirty minutes later.  We experienced many signal graces over the past week, as we surrounded him with love and faith.  As I think over the last twenty years that Joe has been part of my life, I am honored to have shared so much with him.  He is one of the greatest men I have ever known.  I wrote Dad a letter the day after his stroke; I had to put all my feelings into words.  Below you will find the letter, and I hope that as you read it you are able to get a feel for the man that so many of us have loved.  If love is the test of greatness then Dad has excelled in this life.  He is a man that would go out of his way to help you and always made you feel important.  I ALWAYS knew I could count on him.

Dear Dad,

As I sit here thinking over the past twenty years that you have been part of my life, I am filled with gratitude.  I am so thankful for the many hours I got to spend with you on our “projects”.  Whether it be building the deck at the lake home.  Moving massive China hutches/furniture, or the complete remodel we did on Steve and I’s house in Sioux Falls, we always worked well together.  I remember in the dating years with Steve, you made it quite clear that a little girl couldn’t be lifting on those things, and doing those kinds of jobs.  However, you changed your mind quickly “once you saw me in action” as you once told me. I still remember your reaction when you and I moved your China hutch from the bedroom to the kitchen.  You smiled at me and said “you are one tough girl, that is my girl”

I am just so thankful, because you and I just understood each other. Even the times we didn’t see eye to eye, never seemed to drive a wedge in our relationship.  You have been a father to me in so many ways.  You are truly my dad.  It is not very often in life that someone gets to have two fathers.  You always took the time to ask about me and my family. My other dad always speaks so highly of you.  He always tells me how much he liked you and the times you got to spend together. You always took the time to help Steve and me if we needed anything.  Some of my favorite memories are of you and Mary snuggling on the couch when she was a baby.  There was times when no one could seem to calm her, but you put her in papa’s arms, and you guys would watch TV and out she would go.

As I am sitting here thinking about you.  I am sad because the time I got with you wasn’t long enough, but I am happy because my life has been blessed to have you in it. I’m a stronger person, mother, daughter, wife, and friend because of your influence.  When I was younger, I needed a father figure, and you gladly filled that role without hesitation. I always knew I could count on you.  I am thankful for the many conversations we have had.  How you shared with me about Grandma Castles journey with cancer, and that I had to promise you that when it was your time to go, I wouldn’t let them put any of that crap on you, that we would just let you go. I never thought that would be the case that we actually would have to decide to let you go.

Dad you have always been a provider and a protector of your family, and you gladly pulled me under that umbrella.  Thank you for loving me.  Thank you for being my dad in all the ways you were.  Thank you for the wonderful memories, Thank you for your son.  Thank you for asking me at times if I wanted you to kick said son’s ass. Thank you for being a wonderful papa to my children.  Thank you for being my friend.  Thank you for being you.  I love you with all my heart, and when I think of you, I don’t think father –in-law.  I think Dad.  You are my Dad, and I will miss you.

Love, Your Girl,

Monday, March 19, 2012

Why is fertility a bad word?

As I have been reading articles on the HHS mandate, and the Institute of Medicine, a government funded element of the National Academy of Sciences that HHS hired last year to come up with recommendations for “preventive services” to be mandated under Obama care. I find myself asking " why is fertility such a bad word to this administration. When reading the recommendations of this committee “The committee recommends for consideration as a preventive service for women: the full range of Food and Drug Administration-approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling for women with reproductive capacity,” which the administration accepted verbatim into the HHS mandate, I wonder when sterilization became preventative care?

There was a time, not that long ago in our society, when fertility was considered a blessing from God. Now we have to prevent it?  This mandate is saying that girls as young as fifteen are considered women of reproductive capacity. Girls under 18 can get an abortion with out parental consent, and with this new mandate, you can bet they can get sterilized without parents approval as well.  So our children, who cannot vote, drink alcohol, or in some states even drive, can independently make the decision to kill their unborn child, and possibly receive sterilization.  How is this good for women? How is this health care for young girls?  Studies have shown that contraception is linked to breast cancer. Abortions have long lasting emotional and at times medical side effects. Now adding possible sterilization, a choice made at a young age, and someone possibly living with that pain for the rest of their life.  I know a lot of people think, who am I  to tell someone else how to live their life, but as Christians we have a responsibility to stand up against injustice.  Just because something is legal, does not make it right.

I find fertility beautiful.  I think of my husband and our relationship.  I have four living children and three little angels in heaven due to miscarriage.  My pregnancies have never been easy.  I am sick with nausea and vomiting the entire 9 months.  I am exhausted and don't always feel beautiful, however, I am so humbled by the gift that I have been given as a women.  I am able to carry life within me.  I am able to bond with my child in the most intimate way.  I get the joy of safely growing life within me.  It is amazing.  I also think of the love my husband and I share.  We have used Natural Family Planning throughout our marriage, and yes there are times that calls for abstaining within our marriage, however it has made our love grow stronger.  There is something to be said for denying yourself out of love. It brings a closeness and a bond that is hard for me to explain.  I have seen  Steve's love and respect grow towards me throughout our marriage, and mine in turn for him.  The thing Natural family planning has given to us is, a greater respect for each other, and for our bodies. 

Contraception teaches us, that it is okay to have sex with whoever,whenever, as long as it is "safe sex".  They  preach this over and over to our children in school health classes.  It takes away a level of respect. Women/men are no longer seen as the beautiful beings we are made to come together in sacred union of marriage, to share the most intimate level of love sharing and trust possible.  Sex has become a  commodity.  People have become a commodity because of it.  We are not to be respected, we are to be conquered, to give into our beastly desires and thrown to the side after use.  Society through contraception is teaching us that we can do whatever we want without giving it a second thought.  How is that good for women, and for that matter, how is that good for men?

Being an object of desire is much worse than being the love of some one's life.  I have a husband who has given his life to me.  He has given up certain dreams and things that he wanted to have, for our family.  I have given my life to my husband, and I gladly sacrifice personal desires for the beauty we have in our relationship.  We love God and we try each day to serve him, and we try each day to help each other get to heaven.  Now I am not saying we are perfect, we can have a knock, down, drag out fight better than most.  We get frustrated with each other,  there are times I could kick the man, and I am sure he feels the same way about me, but we are committed to each other, and we love each other.  I find comfort in the fact that even though my body is not what it used to be, that his respect and love for me has grown. 

Fertility is not a condition that needs to be "prevented".  Fertility is a gift from God.  I understand perfectly that everyone is not called to having lots of children.  However, abstinence and Natural Family planning can help balance the number of kids you have.  It also helps you know and understand your body as a women.  I know the minute something is off, because I know my body.  I have a great respect for my body and what God made it to do.  I love being a woman.  I love that I am hormonal and irrational at times.  I love that I am strong and loving,  I love that I am a complex and to my husband at times a mystery as to how my moods may be.  I love that God has given me the ability to carry children and give birth to children.  I love that I don't have to be a man.  I appreciate my differences from men.  I am grateful that God made men and women to compliment each other.  I am always in awe of how my husband can make up for areas I lack, and I can make up for areas that he lacks.  I love that together Steve and I make up a pretty good ONE. We are better together than apart.

So in closing  my hope is that others can see what a gift fertility is.  What a gift it is to be a women, a wife, a mother.  I hope people see through the lies being thrown around in the name of woman's rights and health care. Enjoy being a women, God made us quite spectacularly!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Why is Discernment so hard?

I have completely failed as a blogger as of late.  I have to be honest, I love when I sit down and blog, it helps me put so many thoughts in order, yet It takes a great act of my will to do it.  I have not quite figured out why it takes so much motivation to do something that in the long run, helps me.  I guess it is kind of like my exercising.  I have fallen off the exercise wagon since my half-marathon in Oct.  I have tried repeatedly to get out there, but staying consistent has been the problem.  I go out one day and not the next, and so on and so forth. Before I know it another week has passed and I have a marathon relay coming up in May.  Procrastination is no longer an option.

I have been juggling so many emotions/thoughts/feelings as of late.  I am TERRIBLE when it comes to discernment.  It seems to be something that comes easy for some people, but for me, not so much.  I see contradicting signs in everything I try and follow.  Okay let me be more specific.  I have an incredible desire and overwhelming urge to do more in the arena of Pro-life. I've always been passionate about this, but lately it is a whole new level.  It is to a point where I feel I am going to burst some days.  I see things going on in our world today, and I am overcome with such passion and Zeal to take a stand and scream out against injustice, but I don't know how.  I am involved with the LIFE Runners (which I LOVE).  I started a pro-life committee at my Church, but it has had a hard time catching on and I'm losing committee members due to mostly other obligations.  I have tried to discern (with the help of my spiritual director) if this urge/desire I have is God calling me to action.  I feel it is, but everywhere I turn there are road blocks.  I am trying to be as creative as I can, but every avenue I take leads me to more questions and seemingly more roadblocks.  I pray regularly asking God to show me for sure if this is the way I should go, but it seems when I think it is other thoughts and questions come to mind.  For Example:  I feel strongly that God calls us to take a stand, and stand up in the name of love for those who can not stand up for themselves. Then I wonder if me desiring so deeply to do this is for lack of trust in God, what if it is because I feel like I need to somehow do something because I don't trust he can.  I really hope that is not the case.  I try desperately to always trust in him, but I will be honest, trust is hard for me.  I have been hurt by many in my life  that I thought I could trust, so sometimes I shy away from relationships getting to deep, so I don't have to be hurt. Yet I know God is not people and his love is perfect.

There is a lot of confusion right now, and I am a true believer that Satan uses confusion to try and distract us from God's will.  So is that what is going on?  That I am supposed to be doing this and Satan is trying to stop it?  Or does this mean this isn't what God is calling me to?  How do I know?  I guess that brings me back to my spiritual director.  Who tells me prayer and patience.  To wait on the Lord.  Did I mention I suck at waiting?  I wait to buy presents for people until the day they are supposed to get them, because the minute I have them, I want to give them to them.    Maybe the Lord is teaching me patience.  My spiritual director shared with me that blessed mother Theresa spoke of this desire and urge she had to help the poor, and it took six years of doors being shut, before she was able to start doing what she desired. Not that I am comparing myself to Mother Theresa, but  maybe the Lord is trying to teach me perseverance.   I think I might go loopy if I juggle with this for six years!  God help me!

I ask for all the blogger's out there who may read this to join me in prayer.  I could use extra prayers for peace,discernment, understanding and patience.  I love my Lord, and I truly want to serve him with all my heart.  I have always struggled with self doubt and trusting even in myself that things are sincere.  I so dearly yearn to be sincere and genuine, and always do things for the right reasons.  My desire to do things the right way for the right reasons has often caused me paralysis in my life.  I'm so afraid of doing the wrong thing, or doing it the wrong way, that I don't act.  Then again there are times that I am so overcome with emotion, that I act without thinking.  As I said in an earlier post I am one big contradiction. I wonder if this is what comes with being such a passionate person?

Well I hope this blog post comes off a lot less confusing than I think things are, or I may have just taken you on a journey of epic confusing proportions. :) Until next time!