Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Forty Days for Life.

There is a campaign that begins tomorrow, Wednesday, September 23rd through November 1st, and it is the largest, coordinated pro-life event ever!  Jesus says, "Where two or three are gathered in My name, there I am." How amazing to be a part of 40 Days For Life that will pray for an end to the murder of innocent human lives.

You can participate by praying and fasting for an end to abortion over the next 40 days.  Here is a link to a page of daily devotionals for the next 40 days. 

This issue has come close to my heart in all that we went through with Mary Grace.  Knowing that there are many women whose babies are given a fatal diagnosis in utero, I feel especially called to participate in the 40 Days For Life campaign this year because every moment you have with your child is special, in and out of the womb.  Let's all pray that all mothers will choose life for their children. 

I thought about ending this post with the last paragraph, but sometimes we read these "please help" campaigns and think, "Oh that'd be nice to do..." and then forget about it, or think it is too much work.  So let's look at it in another way.  Let's pretend we can rewind the clock and that I am still pregnant with Mary Grace.  In fact, it is the day that I have just gotten the news from the amnio results that Mary Grace's condition is fatal...she will die in utero or once she is born.  Let's pretend I am not pro-life.  In this scenario, I am debating whether or not to abort Mary Grace.

Does that leave you with shudders?  I shuddered as I wrote it.

And out there in the world is another mother in my same shoes.  Another mother who is told her baby will die, so why not go ahead and "finish it"?

Maybe you agree that women should be allowed to choose to end their child's life if it is already going to die.  I don't agree with that, but you might.  So then pray for the healthy babies that mothers are aborting.  I'm not here to debate with you.  I'm just here to beg you to pray for the killing to stop.

Can you say one prayer for 40 days?  Do you have 15 seconds to say one Our Father a day to help end abortion? 

Can you give up one thing that is keeping you from spending time with God?  Give up one television program, or 30 minutes of internet time? 

Thanks for reading this.  Let's spend the next 40 days making a difference for tiny little innocents like her.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The joys of parenthood.

This morning I just happened to be watching the news when they interviewed a woman, Corinne Maier, who wrote a book about 40 reasons not to have children (No kids: 40 good reasons not to have children).

I was at first disgusted that anyone would write such a book and then to my surprise and horror they stated that the author is a mother of two!  That was when my disgust changed to heartache for her and especially for her two children.  I wondered about the emotional state of two children whose own mother's ideas about raising children included:

"your kid will always disappoint you"
"kids are the death of desire"
"motherhood or success: pick one"
"motherhood is a trap for all women"

Unbelieveable and appalling.

That made me want to make my own list of good reasons for having children. 

Here are a few:

Oh, as if this pic weren't good reason enough?? 

Increased love.
The joy of watching your child grow.
The wonder of discovery.
Loving pride of watching your child take his or her first steps.
How your heart melts when they say, "Mommy, I love you!"
Knowing your child has made you a better person.
Self-centeredness turns to selflessness.
Innocent questions.
Newborn baby smell!
Baby smiles and coos.
Cuddling a little one in your arms.
Knowing Mommy's hugs have meaning.
Children are a blessing from the Lord.
The desire for more children.
The laughter of your child.
The smile it puts on your face when you hear those giggles.
Sponataneous kisses and hugs.
Little hands reaching for yours.
Squeals of delight.
Knowing that you are your child's role model and biggest influence.
Becoming a family.
Sharing your child with his or her grandparents (don't they just delight in them?).
Knowing you worked together in the creation of a new life with God.

These are just some of the reasons that I came up with within a matter of minutes, and I was interested to know what your reasons are/were for having a child.  I'm not about to say that having a child is not hard work, it is!  But the joy, love and delight that come from having a child far outweigh the negatives in my mind.  Hopefully in your mind too!  Please feel free to add your joys of parenthood in the comments section!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Listening for God.

When I was in kindergarten, the teacher would always tell us, "If you're not looking, you're not...?" And then the class would answer with a resounding, "Listening!"

If you're not looking, you're not listening.

Remember that? That phrase has definitely stuck with me since I was five, although I'm not always the best at applying it. But it made me think about a person's relationship with God. It has at least been the case in my life, that when I am looking at God, when I am focused on Him in my daily life (talking to Him throughout my day, making an effort to live His teachings, offering my actions to Him throughout the day), I am more open to hearing the Lord when He wants to say something to me.

So last week during some personal prayer time, I tried to de-clutter my mind and let God speak to me.

What do you want to say to me, Lord? I want to be still and listen to what You have to say.

I asked Him to give me a word that I could focus on. And the word that came to my mind was


Peace. Okay. So I tried to think about that for the rest of my prayer time, and of course it led me to think about my life....the bigger events of my life were where my thoughts first traveled. My marriage, my daughter, my relationship with God, whether or not we would have more children, and of course, losing my babies.

And as I pondered these things I realized, I do have peace with what God has allowed to happen in my life. I do have peace that I have three babies in heaven. I have peace that God has blessed me with an adorable and irresistibly lovable daughter here on earth. I have peace that our family is a family of 3 on earth and 3 in heaven.

And although we are still trying for a baby, I have found a new peace in my heart over the possibility that it may just be the three of us.

And that word kept popping into my head throughout the week...randomly. It's like the Holy Spirit was just sending me a little nudge every now and then, reminding me, "Peace".

So when Isabel got a fever the evening before her first FULL day of preschool, I didn't stress...I felt peace.

When I realized that because she would not be able to attend school, I would likewise miss my first bible study class, I heard in my head, "Peace".

And to round out the week, when our Engaged Encounter volunteers discerned Robert and I to be the next Local Coordinators for the diocese of Charlotte, (a prospect over which I had previously been trembling in my boots felt reluctant) I had peace.

It's been such a freeing feeling to relax in the peace that the Lord brings. And He invites all of us to turn our worries, stresses, problems, grief and all burdens and shortcomings over to Him. He can do mighty things with you!

"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power." Ephesians 6:10

I do feel stronger, having listened to and applied what the Lord was telling me this week. Have peace and cast your worries on Him!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Passing the six month mark.

We've made it through the six month anniversary of our baby's death. We were on a much needed vacation with friends of ours, which was a blessing. We didn't really have time to reflect on this anniversary while we were away. Which was actually nice. It was nice to be so busy with joyful things that I didn't have time to think about what we were missing. Here is a picture of our family having fun on a boat ride during our vacation. I promise Isabel had fun too, although you wouldn't think so from her stoic picture taking face.

I think I've moved beyond the "I'm sad on every anniversary" phase. Now grief surprises me less frequently and when I'm not expecting it, but definitely less frequently. But when it does surprise me, I feel the way Isabel looks in that picture. My thoughts drift back to all the events of February.

I had time to contemplate things once we were back home and unpacked. I studied pictures of Mary Grace that we had taken. I went through some of her things that I keep in her memory box. I tried to not let my heart linger there too long. Just enough to "remember" for a few moments.

I still have Mary Grace's funeral remembrance card on our refrigerator. It's in the top left corner. Sometimes I'll look at it and think about taking it down, and one day I did take it out from under the angel magnet that keeps it stuck to the door...but I quickly put it back.

I have not been to her grave in quite some time and I do feel quite guilty over this. I know there is not a rule about how often you should go to visit your loved ones at a graveyard, but I guess when you start feeling guilty it's probably time to go, right?

It's just that it's been so gorgeous here the last week. We are getting the slightly cooler, almost-autumn temps with gentle breezes and it is just glorious! I have been praising God for the beauty of these days and it feels like a contradiction to sit at her grave on a glorious day.

There have been many things to keep me busy this month, that is for sure. Isabel starts preschool tomorrow and I am thrilled and a little heartbroken that the house will be so quiet for three hours on Mondays and Wednesdays. I know I am only looking at 6 hours a week of "Isabel-free" time, but I'm sure it will seem more quiet when you are wishing for a houseful of little voices.

When I filled out Isabel's preschool registration forms in January, there was a space for "siblings" and I remember noting "New sibling for Isabel due July 2009" with a smiley face at the end and exclamation points. Yesterday I turned in paperwork with the same "siblings" section and noted, "Baby sister, Mary Grace due July 11th, 2009, was stillborn in February. Isabel knows that her sister is in heaven and will speak of her frequently."

Time does not stop for grief and we are here, in the present, six months down the road. It is true what they say, "If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it." He has certainly guided us through the last six months and will continue to do so if we let Him.