Monday, November 29, 2010

Readings for the First Sunday of Advent

I'm a day or two late with these. I want to try to post the readings for each Sunday, partially in attempt to read them myself before Mass. The readings will be taken from the USCCB website, New American translation.

Reading 1

Is 2:1-5

This is what Isaiah, son of Amoz,
saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
In days to come,
the mountain of the LORD’s house
shall be established as the highest mountain
and raised above the hills.
All nations shall stream toward it;
many peoples shall come and say:
“Come, let us climb the LORD’s mountain,
to the house of the God of Jacob,
that he may instruct us in his ways,
and we may walk in his paths.”
For from Zion shall go forth instruction,
and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between the nations,
and impose terms on many peoples.
They shall beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks;
one nation shall not raise the sword against another,
nor shall they train for war again.
O house of Jacob, come,
let us walk in the light of the Lord!

Reading 2
Rom 13:11-14

Brothers and sisters:
You know the time;
it is the hour now for you to awake from sleep.
For our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed;
the night is advanced, the day is at hand.
Let us then throw off the works of darkness
and put on the armor of light;
let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day,
not in orgies and drunkenness,
not in promiscuity and lust,
not in rivalry and jealousy.
But put on the Lord Jesus Christ,
and make no provision for the desires of the flesh.

Jesus said to his disciples:
“As it was in the days of Noah,
so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.
In those days before the flood,
they were eating and drinking,
marrying and giving in marriage,
up to the day that Noah entered the ark.
They did not know until the flood came and carried them all away.
So will it be also at the coming of the Son of Man.
Two men will be out in the field;
one will be taken, and one will be left.
Two women will be grinding at the mill;
one will be taken, and one will be left.
Therefore, stay awake!
For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.
Be sure of this: if the master of the house
had known the hour of night when the thief was coming,
he would have stayed awake
and not let his house be broken into.
So too, you also must be prepared,
for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”

Friday, November 26, 2010

Update... Doing Better

I love Romans 8:28. "We know that all things work together for good for those who love God." Well, He has proven that to be true once again!

I had a very difficult time with this miscarriage, being angry with God for having put me through this again. Well, I also have recognized a recurring theme in the last year. Have you noticed it?? (you don't really need to tell me if you have). The theme has been this: complain, complain, complain. Hopefully I really haven't been that bad, but truly I have been frustrated with my need to work, my thyroid and hormonal problems, my kids' behavior... I won't go on.

Meanwhile, my husband says, "It is what it is." Often. Alright, alright, I get it... or I thought I did.

No, really, I didn't get it like I should. It's not so much that life isn't fair (as in, it's not fair I have to work; it's not fair I have to deal with all these imbalances). Fair Smair. What is fair? (And I don't really have it that bad anyway). Whatever!

No, life isn't fair. But really, it's not unfair either. If we believe in God, we're given enough grace to work through whatever situation He's put us in. No, life is what it is. We're dealt what we're dealt. We need to accept what's in front of us. What does it do for us to not accept it... to complain? It tears us up inside is what it does! No, we need to accept it. Some things can be changed, but it often takes time, so in the meantime, we can accept where we are and start to take the steps to change it. Accepting where we are helps us to trust in God. We aren't truly trusting in God if we aren't accepting what He has given us. And if we don't trust Him, we can't surrender to Him; besides, if we are complaining (outwardly or in our heads) and wanting to get out of the situation we're currently in, we are not at all surrendering. And surrendering to Him and trusting in His great wisdom, power, and love for us is what helps to bring us peace and joy. And what allows His plan to take shape in our lives... the plan that is absolutely best for us and may even include that change we desire.

I thought I was surrendering all to Him... even as I was feeling cheated. But by wishing it was different, I was holding on too hard to let it go. Now I am saying, with my husband, "It is what it is," including about the recent miscarriage... and work... and the thyroid... and kids' behavior (which is also improving by the way). And I'm finding it easier to happily accept God's plan and to trust and surrender to Him.

So my husband was right... again! It's not fair! :)

Time for Christmas Cards...

Thanksgiving is over, and Christmas is right around the corner. It's hard to believe Advent is starting in two days already! Andy and I are hoping to get our Christmas cards done and ready to go out earlier than usual this year (earlier than our usual anyway!) (47)

We bought matching sweaters for the boys (on huge sale!) - how much longer will they let us dress them in matching outfits, after all? Today we went out to try to find a Christmas tree to take a picture near. No one had theirs out except retail stores, where price tags were hanging off all the ornaments... a little tacky, perhaps. But we're hoping Church will have their Christmas trees up on Sunday, since it is Advent, so the boys can wear their special sweaters to church.

Next step, finding a place to have the cards made. I've been happy with Shutterfly's service, and they have many cards that say "Merry Christmas" rather than "Happy Holidays." And bloggers get 50 free Christmas cards if they blog about their cards... can't beat free! Especially when you're only working 20 hours and your husband's in school!

Their selection is amazing... almost overwhelming! If you can't find something you like here... Here are some links if you want to take a look:
Christmas photo cards
Christmas cards
thank you cards

I found some more religious and Christ-centered cards (click to see):

How can you get your 50 free cards? Just click!

Our Lady of Medjugorje, Nov 25 message

Message of Our Lady of Medjugorje: November 25, 2010

"Dear children! I look at you and I see in your heart death without hope, restlessness and hunger. There is no prayer or trust in God, that is why the Most High permits me to bring you hope and joy. Open yourselves. Open your hearts to God’s mercy and He will give you everything you need and will fill your hearts with peace, because He is peace and your hope. Thank you for having responded to my call."

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Great Quote for Catholic/Christian Wives

"We are called to love our husbands with the love of the Father loving our husbands through us. Oh yes, our human love is important, but our human love does not have the power to heal; our human love does not have the power to convict; our human love does not have the power to convert. But God's love, flowing in us, through us, to our husbands, to our children, to every person that we meet, has the power to do all of that and so much more. That is what the sacrament of matrimony is all about. That is why God raised the sacrament to be precisely that... an outward sign instituted by Christ to... give us grace....
"Our matrimony is our vocation. And a vocation has two missions. A vocation has an interior mission, and a vocation has an exterior mission. The interior mission is about our sanctification... our marriage is the path to sanctity that the Lord has chosen for us and that that path is to be lived with another individual, and that we are to both serve each other by bringing each other to the fullness of life in Christ Jesus. And that every circumstance that we experience in our married life together can be used by God to perfect us, to help us to grow in the virtues, to help us to experience that abundant life in Jesus Christ, even in the painful moments.... God will take all of that and lead us to the fulfillment of the interior vocation and mission of our life together - the sanctification and perfection of the other for the sake of eternal life where there is no marriage. The greatest gift that we can give to our husband is to lead him into union with God by being a conduit of God's love for him in his life. The greatest thing that he can do for us is to do likewise. And then we will arrive safely at Heaven's gate... and the Lord will say, 'Well done, My faithful servant. Come into everlasting life.' And we can look at our husbands and say, 'Honey, this is my gift to you - life on high in Christ Jesus.'
"The exterior mission of our vocation to married life is this: to be a sign and a witness to the world of the love of God. A Catholic marriage is meant to be that light that is not hidden under a bushel basket. A Catholic marriage is meant to be that salt of the earth. A Catholic marriage is meant to be that leven in society that says to the rest of the world, "Look there is no reason for [a high] divorce rate because... we made a covenant before Almighty God that, come what may, we will be faithful to Him through our marriage vows, and our marriage testifies to the fact that GOd's grace is real and... is available to us and... binds us closer together in adversity than in those times of joy."

-Johnnette Benkovic, For Love and Marriage, a CD distributed by Lighthouse Catholic Media

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Countdown to Graduation and Update

6 months today until Andy graduates! Amazing! I started this countdown around 22-23 months, at least in my head; I didn't check if I had started posting at that point. 6 months does not seem like a long time really, in some senses, though lately it seems to be much too long still. But this time will pass. A few weeks ago, I was starting to realize there may be a few things I will miss about working and about other things that may change. Then my miscarriage happened, which once again pointed out some of the disadvantages of being a working mom. Realizing the stress, my boys started misbehaving again, and I longed even more to stay home to get them back to normal faster. And I grew more frustrated than I had been with having a boss who discourages me from talking with anyone at work about my thyroid, depression, hormonal issues, or miscarriages, for fear of upsetting the other staff. I don't need to talk about it a lot, or with everyone there, but I'm female. I need to talk. Especially when I'm having a bad day. No wonder I feel isolated from the other staff. I thought it was just that I was too busy to talk with them.

Well, I digress. I've just been much more depressed again lately; hopefully it's just situational and will pass soon. I know it also has to do with having been on progesterone and having been taken suddenly off of it, with my body also producing very little if any progesterone of its own. And of course, having had another miscarriage. I was able to handle that first one really pretty well, being more patient with the process and truly grateful for the gift of having a little one in Heaven surrounded by Jesus' love, praying for us. I am grateful this time also, but also... angry and much more saddened. The last one, I somehow "knew" days after I found out that I was pregnant that I would not be able to be with him/her long and relayed that feeling to my doctor when all looked as if it were going fine. This one I truly thought I would be able to keep. I felt more "settled" in my pregnancy. The miscarriage was a complete shock. It leaves me wondering when (or perhaps even if) we'll have a child to hold in our arms. One miscarriage can be chalked up to something wrong with the child, but it is more difficult to explain away two that way... is there something wrong with my body or with my hormonal system, beyond low progesterone. Also, it leaves me wondering if I'm doing something wrong... like taking too much progesterone (I'm not blaming myself or my doctors if this is the case - we all do what we think is right), especially after finding what looked like chicken skin during the last miscarriage (I don't think I saw it yet with this one) and with a couple of my periods while on prome.trium and reading about that online only in regards to bi.rth contr.ol pills. I brought up the question of the chicken skin once during my appointment, before my miscarriage, and my doctor had never heard of it. But these are the questions this raises in my mind. The shock of this miscarriage also has left me angry with God, something I have not felt in a long, long time, and feeling alienated from Him, having difficulty praying (another reason I have appreciated all the prayers said for me).

Sorry about the downer of a post. I really don't like posting updates like this, and I don't like being a complainer. On a good note, God is teaching me more about surrendering to His Will and letting go of things when they don't go my way (good thing after all I said on this post, right?), but I'm learning pretty slowly. But I'm learning. And that is an awesome lesson to learn!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Big News for Two Former Wisconsin Bishops

Today, Archbishop Raymond Burke was formally named a cardinal, one of 24 new cardinals elevated today. He grew up in western Wisconsin and had a zeal for priesthood from an early age; he was in seminary in La Crosse Wisconsin and later became the diocese's bishop (1994?). In 2004, he was named Archbishop in St. Louis. Cardinal Burke has also been very involved in the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, the Church's highest court of Canon Law (from my limited understanding). From 1989 to 1994, he served s the defender of the bond for the Apostolic Signatura, and from 2006 to 2008 (while still Archbishop in St. Louis), he served as a bishop-member of the Signatura then was named as its new prefect in 2008. He has also been a member of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, the council which authentically interprets Canon Law and a member of the Congregation for the Clergy, which regulates the formation and training of seminarians and those being trained for the permanent diaconate, both since 2008. In 2009, he was appointed to the Congregation for Bishops, whose members discuss the appointment of new bishops to vacant seats and send their recommendations to the Holy Father. He was also appointed earlier this year to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments and the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. In addition, he is the president of the Vatican's Commission for Advocates, which is the bar association for canon lawyers. Whew!! What a list! (info was taken by an article in The Catholic Times, from the Diocese of La Crosse)

And, most importantly, as my husband just pointed out to me, he was confirmed by Bishop Burke.

I really cannot believe how much Cardinal Burke has done in the past many years. It simply makes my head spin! God has truly blessed this man with intelligence, faith, and humility! I don't think it was a surprise to anyone that Pope Benedict XVI announced that Archbishop Burke would be among those named cardinal.

While I have never met this holy priest, I have been impressed by his cordial nature but willingness and ability to stand up for the Truths of the Catholic Church, without wavering. When I went to school in St. Louis, from which I graduated over a year before Bishop Burke became Archbishop, some friends of mine brought me to a church off campus. I do not remember its name nor care to remember. But even at that time, when I did not have the understanding of the Church that I do now, the Mass and homily made me feel very uncomfortable. It was one of those churches who preached social justice and inclusion. I believe they had some disagreements with the bishop even at that time. Very quickly after Archbishop Burke arrived in St. Louis, the priest at that church was warned and did not change, and the church was declared to be not in union with the Church. He has also taken a strong stand against Catholic pro-abortion politicians, stated for one that they are not allowed to share in the Eucharist. I'm sure some (liberals) say, to Bp Burke's elevation, "It figures; what else would you expect from the Catholic Church?" but I for one don't think the Pope could have made a better choice for one of the 24 new cardinals.

Not to downplay Archbishop Timothy Dolan's new appointment to USCCB president. The article I have from The Catholic Times does not say as much about his prior or current duties within the Church, but I do believe he was Archbishop of Milwaukee until just recently, when he was named Archbishop of New York. He has also been chairman of the Catholic Relief Services board of directors, a position he will need to step down from, but I do believe he will remain Archbishop in New York. I also have a lot of respect and gratitude for the USCCB's work in our country; in a culture of death, the USCCB brings clarity and truth.

May God bless and lead these two holy men in the posts He has newly called them to! Please say a prayer for both of them.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Marian Mondays

Since I posted my first Marian Mondays post, perhaps a month ago, I have been trying to figure out what direction to take those posts in, as I would like to continue them. But there is so much information on the internet about Mary's apparitions, and I have not yet found it to be very well organized or easy to find really good, basic information (if you have a site you particularly like, please do let me know, even for my own reading, or for posting).

I had started reading St. Louis de Montfort's The Secret of the Rosary fairly recently and picked it up again tonight. Perhaps, until I am done reading this little book, I will pull a few quotes from it every so often to post.

One I found to be interesting is from the "Seventh Rose" (or "chapter" 7). St. Louis de Montfort says this:

"The chronicles of Saint Francis tell of a young friar who had the praiseworthy habit of saying the Crown of Our Lady (the Rosary) every day before dinner. One day for some reason or other he did not manage to say it. The refectory bell had already been rung when he asked the Superior to allow him to say it before coming to the table, and having obtained the permission he withdrew to his cell to pray.
"After he had been gone a long time the Superior sent another Friar to fetch him, and he found him in his room bathed in a heavenly light facing Our Lady who had two angels with her. Beautiful roses kept issuing from his mouth at each Hail Mary; the angels took them one by one, placing them on Our Lady's head, and she smilingly accepted them.
"Finally two other friars who had been sent to find out what had happened to the first two saw the same lovely scene, and Our Lady did not go away until the whole Rosary had been said.
"So the complete Rosary [of 15 decades] is a large crown of roses and the Rosary of five decades is little wreath of flowers or a small crown of heavenly roses which we place on the heads of Jesus and Mary. The rose is the queen of flowers, and so the Rosary is the rose of all devotions and it is therefore the most important one."

What a beautiful thought - placing a rose on Mary's head with each Hail Mary said and completing the crown for our Holy Mother with each Rosary. What a wonderful way to honor the Mother of Our Lord and Our Mother.

St. Louis goes on to say, in the "Eighth Rose,"
"It would hardly be possible for me to put into words how much Our Lady thinks of the Holy Rosary and of how she vastly prefers it to all other devotions. neither can I sufficiently express how highly she rewards those who work to preach the devotion, to establish it and spread it, nor on the other hand how firmly she punishes those who work against it."

The Rosary is a beautiful prayer, full of the richness of our faith and full of petition to Our Lady. Truly blessed is She who Our God has chosen to be the Mother of His Son! Blessed is She who God saved from committing sin in order to be the perfect vessel to bring Jesus to us. Blessed is She who is still with us, given to us as our Mother, helping us and praying for us. And truly blessed is the Fruit of Her womb, our Savior, Our Lord. She who is blessed and touched by the hand of God will bless us who have devotion to her.

St. Louis de Montfort describes one type of "confraternity" to the Holy Rosary which is doable, especially if you can break it down into pieces (he does not say whether this is allowed or not): "Ordinary membership which entails saying the complete Rosary [fifteen decades] once a week." There are many places in which it is suggested we pray the entire Rosary once a day, but I do believe Our Lady understands for some of us this is not possible. My husband and I pray one Rosary (5 decades) a day, and that is often a struggle for me but has been very worthwhile, and I feel it's the least I can do to honor Mary and, through her, her Son. But this "ordinary membership" is a wonderful place to start or to devote yourself to over the long term - or one Rosary a week is also a great beginning!

Thank you, again!

Thank you for your continuous support and prayers and your kind and encouraging words! You have helped to lift my heart during this time.

I'm doing better today than I have since I heard about my low hCG numbers last Wed. Gosh, does is seem like it's been a long time since then, but it's really been only 5 days! What a week! I am saddened, of course, that I will not be able to hold my own little one in my arms in July but hopeful I someday will be able to hold another little one. But I am also relieved to know the answer. And I am relieved that my decreasing hCG levels indicate a miscarriage, rather than an ectopic pregnancy - which would be likely if my numbers were continuing to slowly climb as they had been.

There is something about being in limbo, not knowing the answer, that bothers me and really irritates me and causes great impatience. Does anyone else find that they feel similarly? It is a real cross for me and but one that I need to work through and, with God's grace, to learn to maintain patience and level-headedness when I cannot see the answers. Could it also be a trust issue, I ask myself; I'm not sure. Perhaps an issue of control? That's more likely. Or perhaps it's just natural. Oh, but whatever it was, did it make the last 5 days even more difficult than they otherwise would have been! Now that I am able to know the answer and able to begin to accept it and allow the miscarriage to happen, this is something I will be working on. Trying times often have a way of bringing things to light - I suppose another thing to be thankful for.

I am also amazed how many people suffer with infertility issues. Having looked at a few other Catholic's blogs, I am humbled. Many have lived with infertility for years! What a cross! And having read success stories on many of theirs, I feel more hopeful, and also feel my own heart praising God for the beautiful gift He has given many of them in healthy pregnancies and healthy children. Most seem to have worked with doctors who practice NaPro and use the Creighton method of fertility care; what a gift we have in that!

Lord, please hold my little ones in Your loving arms, since I am unable to. Let them bask in the light of Your love. And may Andy and I, and our living and future children, also one day be able to meet these children face to face.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


Well, it seems I have my answer. My hCG, which should double every 24 hours, has dropped from 196 on Thursday to 192 today. A miscarriage is pending. My doctor told me I can stop taking prometrium/progesterone. And the miscarriage will likely happen within the week (though last time it seemed to take longer than that). She also told me we'd be looking into other reasons I may be infertile, and perhaps then other treatments such as shots of hCG on months we're trying to conceive. We'll also retest my basic progesterone/hormonal levels again in either December or January.

We are blessed, though, in that we have two beautiful children here with us and now two beautiful children in Heaven. I also blessed in that I am in good hands in the doctor I am seeing. She is a wonderful Catholic woman and mother and works with infertility using the Creighton method and NaPro technology. She and her partner at the clinic are so very good at what they do and so very caring. If anyone you know has any problems with infertility, please refer them to someone who works with the Creighton method and NaPro. It is awesome and really pretty effective, and it completely is in line with the Catholic Church... in fact, one of the centers who does research into treatments is the Pope Paul VI Institute (did I get that right?). I'm sure there is a listing of providers online. If you can't find one, ask me, and I'll look. So I am in the right hands for learning what I need to do in order to carry a baby to term again.

Again, thank you for your prayers. They have been greatly appreciated.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Thank you!

I feel very "hugged" by prayers today. Thank you for all who are praying for me and my family during this time!

I don't know any more than I did yesterday, but, besides the prayers, I am also feeling better because I am allowing myself to hope that this child may still be alive. If I don't hope, staying on the progesterone and continuing all the lab tests feels to be for naught and does nothing except prolong the "inevitable," and that is very frustrating.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Again? Really??

Well, I'll start with the good news. God is answering my prayers: He is helping me to become more patient and trusting and giving Andy a chance to practice being sensitive to my needs and communicate about his feelings.

Just not the way I was hoping He would do it.

Nine days ago, I found out I was pregnant... need I say more??

But I will anyway. Excited, I called my doctor. She ordered two hCG tests, 48 + hours apart, to be done quickly because of my recent history of miscarriage (Feb 2010) and because I'm on progesterone to help with pregnancies and cyclical hormonal levels.  Didn't hear anything, so figured they were normal (really didn't even think about it), then heard the levels were too low (86 and 92) and didn't quadruple as they should have. So another was ordered, which I did yesterday. It was somewhere between 160 and 200 (a week after the first lab, so it should have doubled seven times, or been about 260 times the first number)... can't remember the exact lab value as I had too many things going on through my head when the nurse told me. But it still went up, so the doctor doesn't want to let me go off the progesterone yet and ordered another lab... which I will likely not know the results of until Monday. As long as I'm on the progesterone, my body will not miscarry, and as long as the doctor thinks there is any hope of this child being alive, I will remain on the progesterone, leaving me in limbo (do I mourn, or do I hold onto hope?). This is so similar to what happened last time, except earlier (5 weeks instead of 8). I am certain I will have a miscarriage. The near constant central abdominal cramping (albeit 1-2 on a scale of 0-10) does not help my optimism, nor does the dropping progesterone levels, also per lab tests. But we must be sure first... and it's the not knowing that's the toughest.

As I said, God's teaching me patience and trust. And today I failed. Hopefully tomorrow, I'll take my lesson a little more seriously.

It doesn't seem like a miscarriage should be so tough, especially this early in the pregnancy... the first one didn't seem so bad, but this second one just seems so much harder to take. 

And hopefully God sees fit to give us another child someday... maybe soon?? I think that's the hardest part (besides the not knowing... actually, it's a toss up). Will I be able to have another? Will God allow that, or does He only want us to have two? Faith tells me yes, we will have more, but it's easy to doubt or wonder if there's something in my body that will not let me carry any more children.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Does That Mean You Appreciate Discipline?

A conversation in the car today, after picking Blaise up from kindergarten:

Me: It's such a nice day out, let's all play outside before it gets dark.
Isaac: Ok.
Blaise: But I want to go inside. And I want you to inside with me, Mommy.
Isaac: Mommy, will you play baseball with me?
Blaise: But I want you inside, in case I do anything wrong.
Me: Silent and dumbfounded.

(In the end, both boys decided to go inside and watch a 30 min movie. I got to sit in the front stoop for 20 min to catch the last little bit of sunlight before the movie was over.)


The boys recently started a learn to skate program in preparation for playing hockey at the local ice arena. Here they are in their pads the afternoon before the first lesson.

Ready to go on the ice. Both boys are pumped!

Blaise did a great job! He just keeps getting better!

Isaac, on the other hand, was afraid of the ice and sat in the chair pouting the whole time. The coaches were great with him, though, pushing him around in the chair and also on his bottom on the ice (trying to help him get over his fear of ice). This last weekend, he and I did a little experiment. We put water into a tupperware container and put it in the freezer. Isaac was excited when he discovered that it turned into ice! Ice is only cold water! Nothing to be afraid of. So this last week, he was a puppy, tongue hanging out, moving around the ice on his hands and knees. Well, it's progress, anyway. Hopefully next week we can get his skates on the ice!

Wordless Wednesday: Blaise and 2 Month Old Cousin Brooke

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Glory Stories Are Back!

Glory Stories are back, at Holy Heroes. I'm not the best for explaining what they are for those who don't know, as I just found out about them myself... but apparently they're an awesome way to teach kids about the saints. A friend of mine was SOOOO excited when I told her about these, because her kids (6, 4, 2, and baby) LOVE the one CD that they have and have been asking for some time for more. Katie, please explain this better if I do a poor job. The CDs teach about saints in story form, with conversation and hold the kids' attention. The CDs available now include St Juan Diego, Mother Theresa, St. Faustina, St. Martin de Porres, St. Cecilia, St. Rose of Lima, St. Maximilian Kolbe, and others.

Alright, now for my story, how I found these... or more truthfully, how I was led to them.

Blaise and Isaac have been interested in super heroes... Superman, Batman, Spiderman, etc (boys... sigh). I, of course, am not thrilled with this interest, and wonder where they learned of super heroes (sigh...). So I was trying to explain, about a month ago, that "super heroes" are not the real heroes. Saints are. Saints did amazing things, out of love for Jesus, and they are the ones we should look up to. "What amazing things, Mom?" What can I say that will compare to flying through the air or swinging from strings from building to building, especially at the spur of the moment? I tried to explain the stigmata, but the didn't get it. So, I said, I'll find a book or movie or something that will show you why saints are the real heroes. I forgot my promise for two weeks, until All Saints Day, and suddenly remembered it when praying in church, so I sent up a quick prayer that the Holy Spirit lead me to something that will help me to teach my children about the saints. That afternoon, I received an email from another friend, who had somewhat "randomly" chosen to let me know about these CDs... and immediately bought three of them, justifying the cost by telling my husband, and myself, that they would be Christmas gifts... but the real justification is that these, I do believe, are an answer to my prayer. Oh, but will I need to wait until Christmas to give these to the boys? (I think I know the answer already!)

Monday, November 8, 2010

God, You're Doing Great Work in Blaise's Heart!

Just over a week ago, Blaise decided he wanted to pack up some toys to give away because he and Isaac have too many toys. OK!!! So we took out a paper bad and did a good job filling it with toys to give away. He was really pretty generous with what he wanted to give away: he even wanted to give away one or two pieces of his foam hopscotch set - I had to talk him out of that one! (What would someone do with one piece from a hopscotch set??) I gave him the option of bringing the bag to St. Vincent de Paul to donate or selling the toys at our local resale shop for babies and young kids. He wanted to sell them. Ok. I would have preferred he say give it away at that point, but I figured we'll sell it and perhaps use the money for one toy rather than having a bag full of toys we don't need.

So we brought the toys to the local resale shop a week ago, after school. On the way, I asked Blaise what he wanted to do with the money. Should we look around that store or another store for something he wants? No, he said, I want to put the money in my pocket. Ok. I've got a saver on my hands. I can appreciate that, being a saver myself. What are you going to do with the money in your pocket? I asked, expecting him to say he would save it.

The next comment blew me away. I'm going to give it to someone who doesn't have money, he said. Really?! Oh, Blaise! Praise You, God!

So we got $14 from the toys Blaise sold. We put that in an envelope, and I told Blaise to keep his ears open for someone asking for money, saying that would most likely come in the form of someone who helps those who have little rather than someone who has little coming to him themselves. A missionary priest came to our church yesterday. He works in Papua New Guinea, with people who are affected by all sorts of natural disasters - volcanoes, earthquakes, and a tsunami - and have needed to move out of their homes and/or whose crops have been destroyed and live on less than $1 a day when they have any money at all. They are surrounded by corrupt people and a corrupt government, who benefit from a huge goldmine nearby and have brought in drugs, alcohol, prostitution, HIV, and all kinds of effects of sinful, selfish living. Blaise decided to give his money to these people. We were given a couple envelopes in which to put donations and bring back next week. We gave one to Blaise so that he can put his $14 inside and put it in the basket at Mass on Sunday.

Oh, Lord, please take this money from my son - from Your son - and multiply it! As little as $14 is, it comes from a big heart!

Thyroid Update

It's been a while since I've written an update on my thyroid "adventure."

Since I last posted, just over a month ago, Andy and I have been doing MUCH better. He has dramatically increased sympathy for my "condition," I believe partially because he understands better how my thyroid condition affects my mood and also because I've been acting better. I do think being on Armour Thyroid has helped my mood and my ability to remain patient and loving with Andy and the kids. I've been a lot easier to "deal with." As I see it, God made our thyroid glands to produce T1 and T2 as well as T3 and T4. No one knows what T1 and T2 do, but they must do something!! Especially with how much better I feel overall and how much clearer my thinking has been (I didn't think I would ever have a day without horrible brain fog again - praise the Lord, it has happened, and the brain fog is minimal or none, always, now!).

Now, that being said, my wonderful doctor and I are still trying to adjust the dosage. Two weeks ago, I suddenly started having a difficult time sleeping. That first night, I was awake from 2:30 on and had been awake at least 2 hours every night for 11-12 nights straight. It's slowly getting better, though I was awake perhaps 1 1/2 hours again last night. I have been having both hyperthyroid symptoms (unable to sleep, anxiety, heart rate 80 bpm), and hypothyroid symptoms (very tired - perhaps partially due to lack of sleep), but still not as bad as I had been before starting the Armour. My doctor ran my tests early and found that my TSH was somewhat high (high indicates not enough thyroid hormone), T4 too low, and T3 borderline high. Because Armour has too much T3, we chose to drop my Armour back from 90 mg to 60 mg and add back Levoxyl (T4 only). I am slowly improving again and am hopeful this regiment will work, as long as my reverse T3 is not too high (see a previous post: God, please give me my thyroid back, if you want to know more about that). That lab should come back late this week or early the next.

One more thing I want to say in case there is anyone reading this who is struggling with their thyroid or with starting on Armour: Do not blindly follow some of the protocols online or force your doctor to follow them, unless somehow appropriate for you. One of the main ones is that found on Stop the Thyroid Madness's site. I was on 1 1/2 grains (90mg), which we found to be too much for me because of the high T3 in Armour. Most of the people on that site are up to 3-5 grains (180-300mg)! I cannot imagine being on that high dose! And I have NO thyroid. The only time I can think of when high doses like that may be appropriate are in the case of cancer, when you're trying to suppress the thyroid. I asked my doctor about it, and she said doses like that are not safe in that they cause atrial fibrillation, a dangerous heart condition, and other problems, including running the adrenal glands ragged and burning them out. She had one patient who insisted she put her on doses like that, and my MD had that patient sign a waver saying she was not responsible for the outcomes; the patient asked that her thyroid level be lowered soon after that due to heart palpitations and other complaints. I am so glad I do not have a doctor who follows that protocol!

So all is looking up, and I am feeling better overall and looking forward to feeling even better in the future!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Happy Birthday, Little Guy

Isaac turned 4 yesterday. Happy Birthday to our sweet boy. Unfortunately, he was sick yesterday, on his birthday. He was running a temp all day and was tired and was laying down on the couch or in bed a good portion of the day. We were unable to go bowling as we had wanted to. He went to bed with a 103 degree temp and ibuprofen and luckily woke up this morning doing much better. Luckily, my parents came to celebrate the night before and Andy's parents and Isaac's godparents are coming today, so he's getting plenty of celebration.

Happy Birthday, Isaac!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

A Reflection

I was drawn to read Luke's passage about the Transfiguration - Luke 9:28-36 - and a reflection on the reading from a book I have mentioned before - The Better Part, by John Bartunek, LC.

It is not often that we have the opportunity to witness a true miracle - Christ acting in all His power - and especially not with such pizazz as was the Transfiguration. Wouldn't it be wonderful if Christ would reveal Himself to us is such splendor? Wouldn't it make faith so much easier? Yet, look at Peter's reaction to the Transfiguration: he had no idea what to say! He was overwhelmed and really not at peace. No, God has a better idea.

Instead of coming to us in all His splendor, He chooses to come to us quietly. He comes to us most often in times of quiet prayer, in solitude, even over a sink full of dishes. One of my favorite places, though, is in a quiet church in front of Christ in the tabernacle. Though a quite stream is quite nice too. To find time in a church or in nature for quiet prayer like that is quite a privilege for a mother. But spending time in quiet prayer is a necessity, even over that kitchen sink, or in the wee hours of the morning or after the kids go to bed. That is where we get to know Christ, our source of strength and perseverance in motherhood. I encourage you, find what works for you. If you can steal away for 30 min on a Saturday when the church is open before Saturday evening Mass, do it!

Though God will likely not reveal His Son to us in a cloud and with a loud voice, He reveals His Son to us in other ways, usually when we go off, away from the hustle and bustle of our lives, to spend time with Him in prayer. Jesus went off with three of His disciples to pray on a mountain, which is where the Transfiguration took place; it did not take place in the middle of Jerusalem. And the power with which God can act, even when silently, when we are alone with Him, is dumbfounding. The utter peace and joy He is able to fill our entire being with is incredible and is something we are not capable of doing for ourselves, or opening our hearts satisfactorily to when we are running around doing everything we do.

Now, making our lives a prayer, bringing Christ to every aspect of our day, is an incredibly important task, though a very difficult one in my experience. But I will suggest it is made more difficult or perhaps impossible without time taken in quiet prayer, separated, at least mentally, from that very life we desire to bring Christ into. It is also made impossible without the grace of God, a grace we need to ask for in earnest prayer. Even so, the trials we face and busy-ness of life, and our human condition, dictate that sometimes we feel close to Christ and sometimes we don't; sometimes everything seems to be going our way, and sometimes it doesn't. Yet, when we do spend times in silent prayer, God gives us the graces to get through those more difficult times, as well as times of incredible peace and joy that we can look back on, feeling reassured the He is indeed with us and is a powerful force acting in our lives, whether we feel Him there or not. When we have had time with Him in prayer, truly getting to know Him better, we can better bring Him into every corner of our lives, and grow further in faith and in love.

What do you do to bring Christ into your life? How do you find time for prayer?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Our Lady of Medjugorje, Nov 2 message

November 2, 2010 Message to Mirjana

"Dear children; With motherly perseverance and love I am bringing you the light of life to destroy the darkness of death in you. Do not reject me, my children. Stop and look within yourselves and see how sinful you are. Be aware of your sins and pray for forgiveness. My children, you do not desire to accept that you are weak and little, but you can be strong and great by doing God's will. Give me your cleansed hearts that I may illuminate them with the light of life, my Son. Thank you."

Update on a Good Catholic Book

I am now 3/4 of the way through Carmen Marcoux's second book, Surrender. I must say that as much as I loved her first book, Arms of Love, I am enjoying the second even more. The one issue I had with the first, I am finding not to be the case with the second: the characters in the first were just too good at everything. In the second, the characters are much more believable and more enjoyable; you begin to see their flaws, but, because it is a wonderful Catholic book, you see their flaws in the light of Christ's love and mercy. And it still has that quality of making one want to be a better Catholic; of making one strive for a deeper faith. The book follows Joanie, the oldest daughter of 8 children, and her marriage to Brandon and pregnancy, and also the discernment process, which is turning out to be quite enjoyable, of the next two daughters, Maggie and Amie. I also enjoy the parents, John and Judy, as they are great examples for us parents (I wish I could learn more about them - perhaps another book, Carmen?) and the grandparents, who are quite fun and spunky (hmmm... that could be a book too).

And again, this book is full of wonderful Catholic teachings, including of Theology of the Body and also from the Bible. It truly demonstrates the absolute beauty of what it means to be Catholic.

Monday, November 1, 2010

All Saints Day

Please pray for us, all you angels and saints, that we and our families may grow in holiness and love our God as you did in your lives, and that we may see Him and know Him in fullness in the next. Please pray for our world, that true peace and love may enter all hearts, and that all may give our Father glory. Thank you for your beautiful examples of faith and of acting out your faith, of persevering in times of difficulty and often persecution. I give thanks to our Lord for blessing you and keeping you close to His heart. May He also do the same for us, and may we follow your shining example as we live the lives God has set before us and try to bring our families and others to Him. Please help us and pray for us.

Please pray for us, all you angels and saints, that we and our families may grow in holiness and love our God as you did in your lives, and that we may see Him and know Him in fullness in the next. Please pray for our world, that true peace and love may enter all hearts, and that all may give our Father glory. Thank you for your beautiful examples of faith and of acting out your faith, of persevering in times of difficulty and often persecution. I give thanks to our Lord for blessing you and keeping you close to His heart. May He also do the same for us, and may we follow your shining example as we live the lives God has set before us and try to bring our families and others to Him. Please help us and pray for us.