Mary – Who Do You Say She Is?

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We, as Catholics, call Mary, “Mother,” because she was the pure and holy vessel that God chose to be His Mommy here on earth. Mary is called Immaculate because she was conceived without sin. As we begin to learn more about, and love our Catholic faith, we not only get to know Jesus; but also the Holy Family; Jesus, Mary and Joseph. As we contemplate in prayer the Scriptures, we see the many roles that Mary played during her life on this earth. It is then that we come to realize why Mary was God’s choice.

 

Mary was a daughter.

She taught me how to be a daughter too. One day the Lord was dealing with me about my relationship with His mother. It was 1979 and I was in the kitchen in my home in Vernal, Utah. God said, “You do not love my mother, because you do not love your mother.” The word from my Heavenly Father was spoken clearly, yet in in silence. It happened in an instant, and I knew that it was the voice of God. I also knew that God had read my heart. I immediately repented. Then I began the journey of healing a wounded heart. Only God could lead me. I needed a spiritual surgery that only He could perform. For my spiritual needs, I sought prayer and wise counsel. For my natural, I made phone calls, bought presents, encouraged, visited, supported, and listened to my mom. I learned to know her; I learned to love her. It was a slow but steady journey, with the Holy Spirit as my GPS. God was right. As my relationship with my mom grew, so did my relationship with His Mother. Now I call Mary my Mother too and my mom and I are now best friends. She is my daily laugh. Just ask Deacon Pat. My mom will never be a Mother Teresa type like I had secretly hoped, one who serves the Lord with gladness and prays me through life’s challenges. Rather my mom is more like a Marie on the sit-com Everyone Loves Raymond. Liking her for who she was, and not wanting her to be who she was not was key to my healing. There is no perfect earthly mother. I learned that when our earthly mother fails to measure up to our idea of a perfect mother Mother Mary fills in the gaps. She is blessed indeed. God knew how much her children would need a Mother’s love.

 

Mary was a Mother.

She taught me along with God the Father how to be a mother too. When it came to motherhood, I was clueless. Before marriage I did not even like children. I rarely even babysat. In fact, I thought I would never have any children!. I had a long way to grow into a mother full of virtue and sacrificial love. I guess you could say that as I was teaching my children character and virtue; Mary and Jesus were teaching me the same. I needed all the grace and wisdom I could get. Trust me on this one. Hanging in our home when I was a young mother was a picture of Mary hanging the laundry.  It was next to the picture from the Family Circle cartoon where the house is a total wreck and the caption reads, “I thank you God for my blessings, but I could use a little help around this place too!” By comparing the look on that mother in the picture’s face with the look on the Blessed Mother’s face I was daily reminded how very human I was. Mary and Jesus to this day, I am convinced, look down from heaven at Ellen Mongan, mother of seven living children, and shake their heads at each other saying, “This truly this is the greatest miracle that we have done in her life. We have given Ellen a Mother’s Heart. “I thankfully agree; Jesus changed me completely, with a little help from His Mother.

 

Mary knew how to stand at the foot of the cross.  

Mary taught me how to stand at the foot of the cross too. Many people were there to wave the palm branches and welcome Jesus, into Jerusalem. BUT….. OH…, so few were waiting and praying just a few days later with the same Jesus at the foot of His cross. Jesus was facing His toughest hours of His suffering, His crucifixion, and His death, but so few, so few had come to show their love and their support for Him. At His Passion, Jesus was quite alone except His friends; John, Mary Magdalene, and His mother Mary. Isn’t that the way it is today? When a  new baby is born, a couple weds, or one  moves  into a new home; all friends and family come to  rejoice and celebrate; to eat, drink, and make merry. Then disaster strikes; sometimes like Jesus at the cross we are almost all alone. Our friends are nowhere to be found. Remember this friend, Jesus is there, and Mary is too. Also, those who have been taught to stand at the foot of the cross will be there. Mother Theresa said, “When you are at the cross, you are so close to Jesus that you can kiss Him.” Do you want to be close to Jesus? Do not be afraid to stand at the foot of the cross. You will find that that is where the grace is. You will discover that even if you feel you are alone God is closer to you there at the cross than ever before. You will be in good company because Mary is always willing to stand at the cross with one who is suffering.

 

Mary always points to Jesus.  I somehow felt like half a Catholic, without her. But I was to learn through my search that that just was not true. The heart is a work of God; not a work of man.  We must seek, pray, and wait. We must be led by God’s Spirit daily, listen to His still small voice, then do whatever He tells us to do. We must repent when we sin and surrender our hearts to Him. God will, as we yield, do a work in our hearts. We must never rush a work of God. As I was thinking on this, I began to see how Mary was in my life all along. I just did not see her. Why, I pondered? I did not see Mary because she was never drawing attention to herself; she was always pointing me to Jesus. Mary has taught me so much. She is a gentle woman who teaches wisdom and teaches us how to love. We as Catholics Christians are in the family of God. We have both a Father and a mother. Mary, our mother, has a lot she can teach us and she will if we but let her. ARE YOU WILLING?

Jesus cries out from the cross, addressing His Best Friend John, “John, behold your Mother.” Next, Jesus, in unbearable pain addresses His Mother Mary, “Mary, Behold your Son.” He says those same words to us today.  What is your answer?

 

photo credit: M&J — 24th street in noe valley, scott richard via photopin (license)

The Right to Mourn the Loss of Your Baby

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When it comes to the loss of our babies, it seems that our culture has certain ideas about who has the right to grieve. For example, couples who lost a child later in pregnancy seem to get more empathy than couples who lost a child early on. In fact, early miscarriages may elicit responses like, “It was a good thing that you lost it so early.” While physically, early miscarriages may be easier for the mother than a loss later in pregnancy, (though that is no guarantee) her baby died nonetheless and it wasn’t a “good” thing. Some couples who have miscarriages early on get to grieve if they don’t or can’t have other children, though even then some will hear the assurance, “You’ll be able to have more!” or even “At least you know you can get pregnant.” as if those things make the loss okay. Women who have a living child, however, seem to fall into the “don’t have the right to grieve” category. They often hear things like, “At least you have other children.”

For those who receive support and understanding at the loss of a child, I am truly grateful. Because they need it. They deserve it. I just wish that we extended that same level of support to all families who have lost a child. Because regardless of the circumstances surrounding the death, all families need and deserve it our support.

In a few days, on August 11th, it will be one year since the burial service for my fourth child lost to miscarriage, whom we named Rosario. Also on the 11th, my newborn son Mateo will be one month old. When it comes to “rules” about who gets to grieve, I am a conundrum. I have other children. All the miscarriages happened early in my pregnancies. I had a full term birth before my first miscarriage, and I have had full term births after.

Still, no matter what our culture thinks, this is what I know, born from experience. The fact that, one year after a miscarriage I have a newborn baby to hold, doesn’t mean that I don’t still grieve for the loss of Rosario. Having other children doesn’t mean you won’t have to grieve your child/ren lost to miscarriage. It simply means that you won’t have to mourn your child’s passing while also having to mourn the pain of infertility.

The fact that I conceived Mateo soon after the loss of Rosario does not exempt me from grief. I’m happy of course that I have my son — elated in fact. But being elated from Mateo’s newborn presence doesn’t mean that I won’t mourn the loss of Rosario. Similarly, having the presence of Eva, (my secondborn) didn’t mean that I didn’t or don’t mourn the loss of Isabela. Therefore, I also know that the presence of children conceived soon after loss doesn’t mean that you won’t grieve for the children lost earlier. I don’t get to escape tearing up at seemingly random times as I think of my deceased babies. I still will and do. It just means that I will feel sadness at my children who have died and also joy at the presence of my children who are living. Rather than feeling sadness or joy, I will feel both.

Like Mary said in her powerful post a few weeks ago on your rights during a miscarriage, you have the right to grieve your baby. I’d just like to say that this statement is definitive. You have a right to grieve your baby. To those who have lost one baby or several; early in pregnancy or late; compounded by infertility or not; whether you lost your first pregnancy, your last, or neither; you have a right to grieve the loss of your baby. Period.

August Prayer Needs

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Please join us this month in presenting to Our Lord the following needs:

+ for teens and young adults, that they might exhibit strong Christ-like character in the face of negative peer pressure.

+for an increase of healthy marriages and families.

+for strength in the fight against pornography and premarital sexual temptations.

+for film-makers and web designers, that Christian values would be shared and exemplified.

+for healthy, open and respectful relationships between parents and children.

+for the healing and reconciliation of previously unhealthy parent/child relationships

+that parents of young children would give their children the attention and care that they need to be healthy.

+for protection against Satan’s ploys that demean parental, civic and ecclesial authority.

+for women sorrowed by infertility, those undergoing difficult pregnancies, or those who grieve the death of their children, that they might be comforted.

+that grandparents would be more greatly honored and respected.

+for the continued healing of preemie, Aneal (“ah-nah-yel”) who underwent a ten-hour surgery (7-22-16) to complete an undeveloped digestive system, and his parents.

+for the legal protection of all human life, from natural conception to natural death.

+for the financial needs of Elizabeth Ministry International, generous donors and volunteers.

+for the needs of all who join us in prayer.

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Grandparents Day?

Sometimes a simple lunch can be so inspiring! Husband Michael and I were sitting at our kitchen table sharing a left-over shrimp wrap when he commented, “Oh, Today is Grandparents Day!”

Really? I thought Grandparents Day was in September when grandparents would be invited to the grandchildren’s schools. This was July 26. Grandparent’s Day in July??

“It’s Grandparent’s Day! The Feast of Saints Joachim and Anne!”

Oh, yes! Jesus’ grandparents! The ones on his mother’s side!

Picture taken at the Sts. Anne and Joachim Shrine.

Picture taken at the Sts. Anne and Joachim Shrine. 

And of course, my mind went back to our visit to the Shrine of Ste. Anne de Beaupre near Quebec City, and the enormous devotion to Sainte Anne that the Canadians, especially in the eastern provinces, have. What an gorgeous edifice, Ste. Anne de Beaupre, and what an delight it was being there! The church is filled with floor-to-ceiling mosaics, wood carvings and paintings. There’s one painting (picture on the left) of a young Mary with her parents, and another of Mary and Joseph with a toddler. There’s Jesus at the visit of the Magi, and, of course, Grandmother Anne is there!

When we also visited Saint Joseph Oratory in Montreal, we saw a stained glass window of Mary and Joseph with Baby Jesus at his circumcision (picture below). Joseph handles the knife (anxiously!); Mary’s eyes are averted, and Grandmother Anne holds the ointment!

Presentation in the Temple

Presentation in the Temple

Next I found myself thinking of the opportunities that grandparents have, especially in the summertime, to influence the lives of their grandchildren, grand-nieces and nephews. We can call, visit them, and take them out for lunch! (Or, if the grandchildren are younger, babysit and send their parents out for lunch!!) We can take the kids swimming or visit a water park with them! Invite them to visit a museum or a state park with you! Go hiking! Invite them camping with you for a few days! (Tell them about the trips you took with their mom or dad!) Take them to a worthwhile movie (after checking carefully the ratings!!!), and discuss it with them. Invite them to your home for a cookout (inviting friends with children of similar ages), and a movie night and sleep-over. Whatever the kids’ ages, tell them (more!) about Jesus, especially if Jesus isn’t someone who’s generally a part of their family. Take them to church with you. Teach them, if necessary, a few simple prayers, Bible verses and appropriate church behavior. Share your life and your values with them. Depending on their age, read to them, but consider the choice of children’s books that they might be reading as well as those that are excellent reading. The Chronicles of Narnia is great read-aloud material for ages eight and up. Once started, most youngsters will pick up the book by themselves!

Learn who your grandchildren’s friends are, and what is important to them. Light-hearted comments about cleanliness, modesty, and respect for their bodies and the bodies of others go a long way. Depending on their age, of course, topics about forming healthy relationships, drug or alcohol use, videos and internet usage, premarital sex, pornography, human trafficking, and so on, are valuable topics, and might not be the kind of thing that parents talk about, especially with their talk-sensitive teens. (And initiate conversations with “Tell me about….” or “What are your thoughts about…” Don’t use questions that give you a Yes or No answer, as that’s all you’ll get. And silence!) Another thought: As a follow-up to your visit, be sure to share generally, with your son or daughter any significant concerns that you may have involving the safety or wellbeing of their children.

And parents, you might consider inviting your parents to do something fun with their grandchildren! I can’t imagine many grandparents passing up an opportunity to be a significant influence on their children’s children! Besides, grandparents aren’t getting any younger, and neither are the children!

Here’s another thought, and this applies especially to those of us associated with Elizabeth Ministry. There are 740-some registered EM chapters. However, many of the leaders of chapters that were formed fifteen or twenty years ago have moved from chapter leadership over the years as their children matured. Sometimes there is no one to ‘pick up the ball,’ in their particular parish, and the chapter becomes inactive. These “former” Elizabeth Ministers, these more mature parents, can also share their experiences and skills to teach and influence their daughters (and sons!) in the areas of chaste premarital relationships, marriage preparation, NFP, parenting skills, not to mention the dangers and consequences of pornography.

Indeed, we parents and grandparents have many significant skills and opportunities that we can do to contribute to the care and development of the next generation. And, for heaven’s sake, do pray for your grandchildren, nieces and nephews! Sign up by emailing prayers@elizabethministry.com to be a prayer warrior for Elizabeth Ministry! If you haven’t noticed, the battle for the souls and lives of our younger generation is fierce!

Another thought: If you’ve retired, you travel, don’t you? Do you attend a daily Mass? Are you able to share the message of Elizabeth Ministry and RECLAiM Sexual Health in the parishes that have not yet learned of these important ministries? Call Elizabeth Ministry International (920-766-9380) and speak to Don about the EM/RECLAiM Ambassadors program! Distributing information about RECLAiM and the battle against porn use can have a significant effect in the support of healthy marriages and families!

When my husband and I travel, which we do whenever we’re able, Michael carries the RECLAiM confession cards which find their way from his pocket into the men’s rooms or bulletin boards at gas stations along the way! Statistics show that the information is needed!!

And as always, financial assistance is a major need and concern at Elizabeth Ministry/RECLAiM. Every little bit and big bit helps. As we said, the battle is fierce; we need your help! Pornography is infecting too many individuals and destroying too many marriages! We do need your help!

As you know, Elizabeth and Zachary were models of faith in the life of John the Baptist, as well as for Mary. Anne and Joachim were those who formed Mary’s faith and character, and Mary and Joseph were the primary examples of faith for Jesus, the Son of God. Without these strong parents and grandparents backing them up, how did these children become strong leaders in their own generations?

Happy Grandparents Day! Make it YOUR day, today!

photo credit: Reading Time with Uncle Bob via photopin (license)

It’s the Little Ways that Make Our Days

Beth with three of her four children Will, Aiden, & Kathrine, climbing to greatness in Walhalla, SC.

Beth with three of her four children Will, Aiden, & Kathrine, climbing to greatness in Walhalla, SC.

Simplicity, detachment, restraint, clarity…how many of us have thought of making our lives less chaotic by de-cluttering or “spring cleaning”? I’ve been working at this for many years. After our leap of faith, which you can read about here, I have begun to see more clearly the path God has laid out for me.

St. Therese the Little Flower teaches us to love. Simply love. Why is this so hard to do?

If it is hard to give to whoever asks, it is still harder to let what belongs to us to be taken, without asking it back, or rather, I ought to say it seems hard; for the yoke of the Lord is sweet and light (Cf. Matthew 11:30): when we accept it we feel its sweetness immediately. Story of A Soul, Chapter IX

After all the recent tragedies that have taken place in our nation, I’ve been reflecting more on how I could deepen my simplicity.

Simple living is not just about clearing out your closets. Living simply is not only regarding de-cluttering your home. YOU are a vessel for Our Heavenly Father. You must de-clutter spiritually as well as physically. We are His tabernacles while we live and breathe. We need to be open to be used by Christ in whatever way He calls us to. This all boils down to doing little ways of loving others and ourselves.

One of the finest quotes, in my opinion, is from Martin Luther King, Jr. It is so simple, yet eloquent.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. 

I’ve always fancied this quote, but lately, I appreciate it all the more. These two very powerful sentences remind me of St. Therese’s vocation in love and how we all should strive to love our neighbors as simply as these two very inspiring people did.

This summer I have been reading a wonderful book on turning your de-cluttering and organizing projects into a spiritual journey. Instead of simply de-cluttering, make a conscious effort to detach from worldly things.

What if we take it a step further and detach from hate? How about we focus on loving our neighbor, who may just happen to be the complete opposite in all we stand for in morals, values, and beliefs. Does it still seem so simple?

Why is loving so difficult for so many of us? How can we as a society spread compassion for our neighbor?

Simply love and love simply.

To the stranger in the grocery store who drops her coupon, pick it up for her with a smile. To the elderly man sitting alone in Wendy’s, spark up a conversation and get to know something about him…you may be surprised at what you can learn from him. To the disheveled mother with three sick children at the doctor office, smile at her and, with sincerity, tell her she’s beautiful. To the man with the tattoos and piercings, accept him and do not look at him with fear or judgement. For every single person, no matter what race, color, or creed, you need to place yourself in their shoes, love unconditionally, and be Jesus for them.

You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 22:39

What does de-cluttering and detaching have to do with loving your neighbor you ask? It is very simple. We are all on this journey through life together. If we can learn to love one another in spite of differences, we may be able to see Christ in each other. We, as Catholics, need to remember the mission that Jesus appointed to the twelve:

Then Jesus called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. Luke 9:1-2

WE are the twelve. Jesus appoints US now, in this day in age, to fulfill His mission. WE must be those who take nothing for our journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money – not even an extra tunic. (Luke 9:3). This is the act of detachment.

How on earth can we do this though?!

Every day, every moment, make a conscious effort to live intentionally. Live selflessly. Cherish those who walk into your life, no matter if it is family, or if it’s the cashier at the grocery store. Love even the person who sped past you and cut you off on your drive to work. Love the unborn, the disabled, and the elderly; and speak up for them. Purposefully love those whom you encounter every day. The Holy Spirit guides each of us together, in subtle ways, for a greater purpose. Sometimes we may never know the reason to have an encounter with another person. It is up to us to be as mindful as we can to be aware of every single human being we come into contact with.

And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13.

 

 

Your Rights During a Miscarriage

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When it comes to birth more and more women are realizing the rights and the amount of choices they have.  We are slowly seeing a shift in provider and hospital protocol in our country towards respecting the rights of the mother to make choices in her care and that of her baby.   Birth plans and questionnaires are becoming more common and hospitals are tiptoeing their way into care that places the respect and love for mothers and babies ahead of profit and efficiency.  It’s very slow, yes.  We are far from where we need to be but the movement has been growing for years and is finally making some headway in mainstream birth.  But just as it is true that mothers have the right to a dignified birth and true evidence based care, they also have a right to that when it comes to miscarriage.

Regrettably, this is not always the case and in the midst of shock, fear, grief, and ignorance, the mother suffering a miscarriage is swept into a medical system that may or may not be giving her proper individualized attention and care.  She often feels like she doesn’t have a choice in her treatment or course of action.  She often doesn’t get valid answers to her questions or because she is in the midst of grief, doesn’t think to even ask them.  Very rarely are options presented to this vulnerable mom so that she can then make the choices that are best for her in her circumstances.  There are countless mothers and fathers who, looking back upon the loss of their baby, wish they had done things a bit differently.  Because of this, while of course we hope and pray the information is never needed, it’s important for women of childbearing possibility to know their rights when it comes to having a miscarriage before it happens.  So, below are a list of rights that a woman has when it comes to miscarriage and stillbirth.  This list is not exhaustive and I welcome you to add any others in the comments below.

During a Miscarriage…

You have the right to another ultrasound to confirm beyond any doubt that your baby has passed.

You have the right to request a copy of the picture.

You have the right to a funeral for your baby.

You have the right to bury your baby.

If the baby’s body passes in the hospital or the remains removed via a D&C, you have the right to your baby’s remains.  Be aware that in some states there may be laws governing how his or her body is released.  (Funny how in some states this same “blob of tissue” in some laws is now considered human remains and cannot be released without a funeral director’s oversight.)

You have the right to ask to be tested for progesterone levels and an immediate prescription for supplements if there is a chance it could save your baby.

You have the right to know all the short term and long term risks of a D&C procedure.  For some women a D&C may be the smartest option however women deserve to know that it has the risk of causing infertility or compromising a future pregnancy, weakening the cervix resulting in a future premature birth, or complicating a future birth because of scar tissue.

You have the right to refuse a vaginal exam.  If baby is still alive, it can increase the risk of a membrane rupture and preterm labor, compromising the life of the baby.  They also carry the risk of infection to the mother.

You have the right to have the father, a doula, and/or other support person present during any medical exams or treatment.

You have the right to hold your baby’s body and not be rushed.

You have the right to choose some sort of pain relief.

You have the right to take personal time from work.

You have the right to say no.

You have the right to choose to do nothing.

You have the right to opt to deliver the baby’s body at home.

You have the right to ask questions.

You have the right to trust your instincts.

You have the right to not have any concerns dismissed.

You have the right to be treated with respect and dignity and at any point you have the right to change providers or ask for a new staff member.

You have the right to name your baby, grieve your baby, and talk (or not) about your baby.

Especially when a mother and father are grieving, they deserve to be treated with compassion, evidence-based care, and have their voices heard and respected.  Maybe, slowly, as more and more people share their stories and stand up for better care, we can make a difference, not stopping until every mother and baby receive the care they deserve.

Please feel free to comment with your thoughts on or additions to the list below.

 

Do We Have to Tonight?…Again?

Today we have a guest post from Erin Romans. Erin is a full-time working mom, wife to Mike, and mom to two adoptive children. She and her husband are also licensed foster parents in rural North Dakota. She has a passion for adoption, orphans, and for helping those who are living with silent battle of infertility. Before returning to corporate work, Erin was a full-time working-from-home mom while she owned and operated her own photography business. She and Mike have adopted both through domestic infant adoption and through the state foster care system.

This post has been reprinted with permission. The original can be found here.

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You’ve been trying to get pregnant for almost a year. You’ve read all of the books, taken ovulation tests, spent more money on pregnancy tests then you care to admit and yet you still aren’t pregnant. Why? What happened to just having sex and getting pregnant? It seems to work for millions of other couples and women that aren’t even planning a pregnancy — yet they have sex a few times a month and they see that little plus sign that you are so longing to see. Pretty soon you find yourself downloading apps on your phone to track your cycle, reading more books and interpreting every possible symptom as a possible pregnancy, and month after month you are disappointed. It seems as though it’s a never ending cycle of disappointment and discouragement. After all what happened to just having sex?

How do you handle it when sex becomes a chore? When you have resorted to scheduling your sex life in; when you are planning your girls’ weekends around your cycle; when you miss out on your long-awaited spa weekend; when you ask your husband to skip his annual fishing trip with his buddies because this weekend you KNOW you’re going to see that peak in temperature or get a positive ovulation test. You may have thought to yourself, at what point did my marriage come to this? You’re tired of hearing “Relax! It will happen!” But when? When will it happen?

When you begin doctoring for infertility, you are putting what is already a very personal part of your relationship out in the open. Pretty soon you have doctors, nurses, and interns reading your chart and knowing everything about your hormone levels and your sex life. Modesty is thrown out the window and you feel like your bedroom life is an open book.

So what do you do when sex becomes a chore when you are trying to conceive? How do you handle the stresses of keeping the romance alive, yet making sure that all of the “stars align” and you are intimate at the right times? From someone who has been there, done that, and got the infertility T-Shirt — I’m going to speak from experience.

  1. Remember to date. Remember what brought you on the journey in the first place…you fell in love and wanted to get married and have children. That didn’t happen overnight. So date! Get dressed up, let yourself get excited and get goosebumps when your spouse walks in the room dressed to the nines!
  2. Remember, being intimate doesn’t necessarily mean sex. You can still communicate on an intimate level without having sex. Intimacy can be holding hands, lying together watching a movie, talking about how each of you is feeling, writing love letters to each other, or even just being together. Sometimes being intimate without sex is the best type of intimacy! Trying-to-conceive sex can be the worst kind!
  3. Don’t be afraid to take a break from “trying.” Sometimes you need to throw the calendar away for a month and quit trying. Let yourselves be spontaneous and have fun! If throwing the calendar away is to scary, make it a point to be intimate when you’re not fertile!
  4. COMMUNICATE!! NEVER QUIT COMMUNICATING! After walking the infertility walk, I can honestly say, I can see how it could ruin a marriage. It is so easy to shut down and quit talking to your spouse. BUT DON’T!! Be open and honest about your feelings without placing blame on each other! Remember you are a team! Break down, cry, email, text, call each other on the phone, but ALWAYS tell the other how you are feeling!
  5. RELAX!! I’m not saying relax and it will happen; I’m saying let yourself relax. Understand that God’s plans are already in place and believe that! If it is truly God’s plan for you to have children, you will. You will be a parent! Stressing and having anxiety isn’t going to make things any easier.

Ultimately, remember that infertility is a scary journey, but you are walking the path with your spouse. Communicate your feelings and be open and honest with each other. Put your relationship first. When you do that, your relationship remains healthy, and you can enjoy a healthy sex life long after you achieve your goals of parenthood!

photo credit: Tidal. via photopin (license)

Words Once Spoken…..

Bichon dogHave you ever wished that you could take back the words once spoken? Undoubtedly, all of us have! Or words that we wished to had said, but didn’t!

This “first of the month” blog entry includes prayer needs, and generally the prayer needs are the “Gimme, God!” type. This one is different: more of a “So sorry, God!”

Once upon a time my husband and I had a loveable little dog named Louie. Actually, he was “Louie LaFeet daFoist,” a Bichon Frise we had purchased from a couple who bred Bichons, Jeannie and Bruce Hannemann, the founders of Elizabeth Ministry. (Which, as it happened, is also the way we first learned about Elizabeth Ministry!)

Bichons are happy little people dogs, and our family loved him and totally enjoyed him. As he matured, we learned that Louie was diabetic, which was surprising, as we didn’t know that dogs could be diabetic. (A 20 lb dog drinking 10 cups of water in twenty-four hours seemed a bit much, especially the out-in-out-in-out-in routine of his and my day!) So we went on the twice daily insulin injection routine. (“It’s OK, Louie; all the puppies do this.” And no matter how big or old a dog is, for me, a dog is forever a “puppy.”)

Eventually we learned that Louie was also going blind. One day I walked into our living room and found him on our couch which was a puppy “No-no.” Without thinking, I howled, “Get Off That Couch!!”, which he promptly did, straight up and straight down, hitting the coffee table on the way down. Immediately I regretted my command, as he slunk into his crate. I often wonder if any injury he might have suffered brought on Cushing’s Disease, which he later developed and which led to his early demise.

Have you ever spoken too quickly and injured a relationship? Most of us have. Many times I have wished for a strong rubber band that smacked the words back into my mouth before they could hit the other’s ears! The Letter of James, chapter three, reminds us about the power of the tongue. There are several other scriptures about speaking and being silent, building up and tearing down, especially Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, Jeremiah 1:10 and the Book of Proverbs. How wonderful it is to see the building power of the tongue, and how sad to see or experience the opposite. Lord, preserve us!

It is so easy to speak too quickly and regret it, but equally too easy NOT to speak at an appropriate opportunity. A few weeks ago we attended a wedding in Brooklyn and experienced the subway. We sat for several stops across from a woman whom I promptly labeled “Marian the Librarian.” (And what a wrong thing to do, labeling a person!!! Really disrespectful, isn’t it!) Somehow I couldn’t find a single courteous or positive word to say to a woman who looked so weary.

The tongue, says Saint James, is such a powerful force for good or for evil. Our life–especially since we are involved with Elizabeth Ministry–is to be one of building up, not tearing down. We must nurture relationships. As Christians, our command is to love, and although that includes every person on the planet, it’s so easy to ignore or be rude or belittling to those who are closest to us. It’s even harder to actually listen when you ask someone “How’s it going?” and they truthfully tell you!

As I suggested last month, you could even offer to pray with your neighbor. “And who is my neighbor…?” The person in need! (And aren’t we all needy?) Jesus tells us in Luke 10, be the one who treats others with mercy! Go and do likewise!

So this month,
please join us in praying
for all who in need,
especially:

+those who are alone and appear to be unloved, that they might experience God’s love and the kindness of those around them.
+ for premature babies, Lilly and Brook, and all very young children and their developmental needs.
+for all parents, from conception onward, especially those experiencing difficulties with their children.
+for parents who grieve the deaths of their children.
+for married couples who long to be parents, but rather experience the sorrow of infertility.
+for those who long to be married or struggle with their sexual identity.
+ for those who struggle to maintain healthy relationships or healthy marriages.
+for those who struggle with habits that are destructive, especially pornography.
+for the financial needs of Elizabeth Ministry and RECLAiM Sexual Health.
+for the safety, physical and spiritual well-being of those who work with Elizabeth Ministry and RECLAiM Sexual Health.
+for refugees and those affected by natural disasters.
+for the conversion of those who seek to harm others, both the proponents of abortion and terrorism.
+for all of us when we cause harm to others by what we say or fail to say.
+for Gerrie, an EMI volunteer who has suffered a slipped disc in her back.
+ for governmental and national leaders, that they might be guided by God’s Spirit.
+for the needs of those who pray with us.

LORD JESUS CHRIST, HAVE MERCY UPON US

AND HEAR OUR PRAYER!

photo credit: Kenzo via photopin (license)