Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Our Love Six Times

Amen. Children are gift, the ultimate gift. When I wrote in my last post about how my husband's response to another girl and his goodness through this pregnancy has surprised me, it is really seeing that he and I are on the same page. This little one is a gift!




 Male or female! 

I am slightly embarrassed to admit I thought there was more of an agenda.  I knew Justin wanted our son to have a brother, he grew up with a brother. I had this idea that God would answer this prayer. Even as I learn about trusting God's plan, I still have the boldness of offering to him ideas on what would be best.

His ways are best. 




His ways are true. 

God was still so gentle because here we are with our baby girl, in what has been, praise Him, a very healthy pregnancy. 

I was unsure if I wanted to find out the sex of our baby, but I was having a hard time connecting. I think that as you have a busy full home, at least for me, I would often times not even realize I was growing someone until that someone would wriggle around in my belly. Oh yes, there you are! And then on to making pb&js! Obviously, with the fact that I blog, I also journal, and so to write to a daughter now in my journal is a crucial part of connecting with baby.

Yes.



And so, I was having anxiety the day before the "finding out" ultrasound and at dinner the children had already left the table and Justin put things very bluntly when I expressed my anxiety to him.

He said:

"We really didn't plan this one and we really didn't try to avoid this one either. I think things just happened and we were just being married, and so we are now blessed to be having a child."




I know. He really does make me want to be a better person. 

And it really is that straightforward, we were just being married.

Why has society made it more complicated than this? 




We are married so we...naturally...have children!

Couples struggle with infertility and finally conceive a child and people are overjoyed. A couple decides to finally have a baby after they have traveled or finished school and everyone nods in agreement. A couple rounds out their family when they have a baby boy after their first is a girl..perfect, two of each! A couple like us has a sixth child and they scratch their heads.



Ha! Except that I think people have lumped us more in the "oh they just have a big family" category now and we honestly don't get as many surprised looks anymore!

But there are always questions...and that's ok. Why so many children? Oh are you TRYING for another boy? Were you not being careful? Do you even know how expensive children are? And then the most irritating and rude one to say to a beautiful family with amazing children...you know what causes that right?

All of these questions boggle me and I find THEY are really making it much more complicated than it really is.

It is very simple folks, WE are just being married.



Justin and I have a vocation to marriage. Above careers and lifestyles and higher education and all of the milestone markers of our privileged first world society, we are first called to be married. For Justin and I, we are seeing with this big family thing that all our money is really going into feeding, clothing, keeping healthy and educating our littles...and they are really the BEST reasons to be spending money!

                                             
So in this call to marriage is this beautiful design: married love is meant to create.

Cormac Burke says it is the very nature of love.

"Love is creative. God's love (if we may put it this way) 'drove' Him to create. Man's love, made in the image of God's, is also meant to create. If it deliberately does not do so, it frustrates itself. A couple truly in love want to do things together; if possible, they want to do something "original" together"

"Nothing is more original to a couple in love than their child: the image and fruit of their love and their union. That is why 'the marital thing' is to have children;



and other things, as substitues, do not satisfy conjugal love."

My dear friend has given my husband and I a new expression, that I love very much. I used it in my husband's last birthday card...

"I love you and I love that we have our love six times."

This is what we do that is original together. We have something original of us times six.

Being the day after St Valentine's Day, I thought it would be nice to reflect on the all the original "you me" versions from your creative marriage toddling around your home.

Amen to real romance.



God Bless xxoo



Sunday, February 5, 2017

Overcoming Certain Limits

Hello! We have had a whirl wind of a week, which included finding out that our sixth child, who will be here mid June, is a daughter.

Our fifth daughter!

I'm still walking around in a daze of utter bewilderment...am I really going to be the mother of five daughters? Am I really going to have my very own version of the Bennett family (plus a son!)?



Yes! So that is our news! We are expecting.

We are so happy!

But oh...yes yes yes...

Oh, I would be lying to you if I didn't admit how I was really wrestling in September..and March, April, May, June, July..about having another child.

As my youngest was getting older, as my body was recovering, as my sister welcomed a son, as life went on and as I lived this life with Justin, I thought about the possibility of this little one.

I was reading some pretty powerful words from Cormac Burke's Covenanted Happiness and I was wondering if Justin and I might just have one more child.


I was wondering about one more as my dear friend told us in late August while on a visit that she was expecting and my neighbor and bestie was growing another little one.

I took these things in. I took words in and the faces of my children in and I was very aware of this gradual expansion of what I thought was my limit. A limit I had imposed on my own life, was being tested by a distant quiet...yet very constant..call.

At times I was all out wrestling in a very "must get on top" or "must have control of things" way. I have my own agenda of starting an atrium, wanting to get some skiing in this winter, wanting to reach a certain weight goal, etc. I can be a slave to wanting to look "together" and wanting to "be organized" and wanting time to breathe some more. An infant means putting off our summer trip to Alaska

And still..other times, usually in the quiet of the morning or the sigh of an evening when kids are tucked in, I would HOLD this WONDER of a sixth, the POSSIBILITY of a sixth...in the palm of my hand like a tiny mustard seed. And sit with it for awhile.

I walked Theresa's pregnancy as my last, which is so interesting considering I believe so much in life-giving love. My husband was on a boat at the time and my varicose veins were only manageable by wearing hardcore compression hose. I had asked a lot of my body and there was pain and I kind of coped by just knowing...this is it. Five children is so nice and I am blessed.

And well..here I am..21 weeks along and wearing compression hose again. My husband is home every night and so, things are already different there. I also have big helpers. Like...eleven year old and nine year old kind of helpers.



I AM tired but at the same time I surprise myself for what I do have the energy to do. For example, I took the kiddos iceskating Friday, no problems! They loved it! We loved being outside and I enjoyed watching them.


My eldest wanted a break so she took her skates off and then took her two year old sister for a little walk around the rink. And well..as you can see I was just taking it all in and snapping pictures.

























Lord, if you had showed me these things!

Oh...but showing you the graces before you give the trust...no that is not how this covenant works!

Trust.

Trust.

Trust.



Does it hurt you Lord that I thought this would be different? I thought there would be so much suffering and hard work? I was prepared to make a martyr of myself by taking on the work of another baby and then you laugh and make this all gift. I have uncomfortable times and yet I have friends and family and big children encouraging me and cheering me on. You knew all these things.



And it makes me settle into a deeper love for the Good Shepherd. He called this little girl by name. He called her here into this family in this particular moment in history. He called upon Justin and I to love her and serve her, here, in this time, now.


I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life. (John 10 vs 27-28)



Sophia Cavalletti wrote

" ' Eternal life' is an expression that may be very vague. If we substitute 'life in abundance' it gives a new and different concreteness to the term 'eternal life'."

"Each time we grow beyond certain stages and overcome certain limits in our life here and now is evidence of the presence of eternal life. After death there will be new ways of living this life. We reach it by being enabled to go beyond the limits of our life here and now, by a continual overcoming, and a gradual growth to higher levels of our existence."



"Every time that we pass through one of the limits in our life, we are living in a way that is more abundant than that which proceeded it."



I think when other mommies or well meaning friends or neighbors are surprised that we WANTED another child, that we said...YES GOD if it is YOUR WILL please BLESS US! I think that last thought by Sofia sums it all up, I would say:

Every time we have another child, we live a family life, we live our own marriage, more abundantly than before.

I am overjoyed that the Good Shepherd gently called me past a limit and goes before me and blesses.

If you could please pray for a continued safe journey for this little girl, I would be so grateful. I want to tell you next how my Justin is a rock and how his goodness surprised me and makes me want to be a better wife and mother.

God bless and enjoy your Sunday!




Friday, January 27, 2017

The Pursuit of Normal

Where did January go? That snow dump was such a blessing, my eldest said she was so thankful for it as it is now almost spring weather here in Virginia and we at least had a few days of good snow play.



Your prayers have been working friends as my parish has graciously designated a space for a Level 1 Catechesis of the Good Shepherd Atrium. I have been helping to teach the Sacramental Preparation classes in this almost atrium and I have simply showed the First Holy Communion children how to prepare the altar. It is not how I envisioned starting the CGS work here but I will tell you, just this lone altar work has been very fruitful in showing catechists there is a different way we can speak about our faith with children...and that it is WONDERING with them.



I had my last class for the month last night and as this class was leaving, there was a young boy who had kind of been aloof the whole time who gave me a gift. During our session, he always seemed to stay back from the group but when it was his turn to prepare the altar, just him, he leaned on it with both his elbows, hands clasped in prayer...and I was so surprised...I had never seen a child kneel into the altar like that before. 

And so as he was leaving he turned around and came with open arms to me and gave me a big hug. We had only spent half an hour together, but...I could tell he knew that something special happened in there and that it was for him.

My mama heart was so moved. 

And then it was my mama heart that wanted to get back home to my own littles! My youngest gives me the best homecoming on these atrium nights (which, are only three nights a month....but all the same week). She runs into the foyer and she announces, "Mama home!" and gives me a hug on the leg. Am I rich or what?



I have waited a year and half for CGS to come about at this parish, and much of it had to do with waiting for the new building to be completed. I have had wonderful counsel from my very good friends about being careful to not take too much on and to also let it be a slow work. This start is truly the mustard seed.

But....




Even with it being so perfect...






And even with it finally happening...




It wasn't very easy to be out of my home for these evenings!

That is what I wanted to chat about this post. See, last week when I had a late meeting at the parish and then I had another afternoon/evening of setting up the atrium and going to a parish family meal, we (as in my entire crew) all came home to a very messy house with very exhausted people. I was spent physically and mentally from the amount of energy that had gone into loading and unloading and setting things up. My kiddos had helped themselves to way too many cookies from the buffet line. It took us half the morning the next day to even recoup, and that was even just getting the house back in order before we could even think about schoolwork.

This sent me into a bit of a panic as I thought of how I would be out of the house three nights next week! And even Monday my eldest three will be at their worship dance class!

Hahahahaha! I KNOW. So you are laughing that I can't leave the house? Anyone with teenagers is saying...oh my gosh...that is really nothing compared to what our evenings look like all of highschool.



But for me...all content and happy and holed up in my home on cooler January evenings, being out of it is asking a lot. It is especially asking a lot of my husband who has already put in a full day's work. This might sound too domestic Betty, but I judge much of how the day has gone based on the few hours we are ALL together in the evening. 

It is so simple yet so impossible to execute at times, specifically background work. Is the den picked up? Is there something being made for dinner? Is the table set? Oh how giant it can feel!

I think that as we have extremely busy days or late evenings or travel, it becomes quite natural to DESIRE a NORMAL evening. An evening where there are no out of the home obligations, there is no one else expected for dinner, it is just...us.




But isn't this what it is all about! The it being NORMAL. A good, peaceful, uneventful normal. I mean, aren't Normal meals what literally NOURISH family culture? Who are we when sit down together? What are we talking about? What have we done today? All those answers, as varied between family members as they are, make up YOUR family.



And I keep coming back to this conclusion...that it is MAMA who makes these NORMAL moments happen! Can this happen if I'm gone from the home? Hence my original panic. 

So it boiled down to this past week being about meal preps and clean kitchens before I left and strict orders to have pajamas on before I got home. Asking more of my people in terms of helping and them being on board because of the very beautiful work that CGS is.  We did manage one meal together sitting down and that made me very happy.

I thought it most appropriate to write about this craving for order in the evening, this desire for a normal, a sense of leisure and ease in a home because I believe it is one of the many battles of the modern twenty first century young mommy. We are raised to believe we can be anything, we participate in clubs and sports and we go to college and start careers and then we get married and as we are married we say yes to a vocation that  is almost a mystery a times...motherhood.

Even the daily life of the Holy Family was kept private with a veil of mystery but I believe it was pretty normal. "Joseph, Jesus, please wash up, it is time for supper." The carpenter tools stop and the sawdust is washed away one more evening.

And so with motherhood we are thrown into sacrifices we are not quite used to, this is the hard work I wrote about in my last post. We are in an age of distractions and so saying no to outside of the home and yes to staying with our people in our domestic church isn't always easy.


EVEN in the beautiful, good work of Catechesis of the Good Shepherd I am trying to be as prayerful as possible in thinking where I am NEEDED. I decided against a book club evening this week, which I enjoy so much, because I knew my own limits but also the big impact it would have on the order and normal of a night where I had already been away.

So...I pretty much don't know if any of this makes sense other than this personal challenge I am kind of wondering you might want to do with me? Can we give some thought to our space and our time in a way this coming week that changes our attitude from seeing simple domestic tasks like...a normal evening...not suffocating or laborious or injust to us...but see it as an opportunity for us to be loving, creative and thinking women? To see it as a win if we can decide against an out of the home activity? Can we be for our people?



Can we let them eat us up?

Today is a no car day for me! I am so grateful.

Prayers to everyone who IS out of their home for the March for Life!

God Bless!