Thursday, February 28, 2013

A reflection...

...in which I think about my journey with Pope Benedict XVI

I remember seeing him in Cologne.  To me, the wound of losing Pope John Paul II was still very real. I know those of you who are not Catholic, or are not part of my generation might not understand, but losing John Paul II was a very real pain to me.  I remember a college professor once warning, 'you will have to be intentional about embracing the new Pope, because it will be hard'.  You see, John Paul II, to me, was truly like a friend. I had the privilege of seeing him several times. I felt loved by him.  I decided to go into youth ministry, in part, because of his love and belief in me (and all young people).  So when it was time to go to World Youth Day Germany, I wasn't sure how it was going to go.  You could tell he was nervous.  Tight smiles through the chaos of 1 million young people hanging on his every word. I sometimes wondered if the 'party' atmosphere of it all was a bit much for the introvert.  But he did well, and his words were profound.  The young Church embraced their new leader.

Our special Group in NYC on our way to see the Pope
I remember seeing him in New York.  My friend Jodi, six teens and I loaded up the cars and headed out to NYC.  Why?  Because our Pope was coming to the United States and that 'don't happen often' so one thing was for sure, we were going to be there.  At the youth gathering, we got there early (maybe too early???) and we got great seats.  Seeing him there was fantastic.  The ol' Pope thing was now suiting him well, there was so much Joy as the young people of the United States greeted him with cheers and smiles. It was pretty amazing to be there with these six beautiful young people.  We were on an adventure.  I reflected on his predecessor.  It was said John Paul II invited everyone to the feast, and the new pope's job was to feed them.  As I listened to him with these wonderful teenagers I was blessed to know, I knew in my heart that statement was true.

The Popemobile flying by us
I remember seeing seeing him in Sydney.  Australia was a significant point in my own personal faith journey.  Could it be true, Holy Father, it was a significant point in your faith journey as well?  Without any more insecurities, without any more hesitation, I saw him completely embrace the joy coming from 500,000 young people excited to bear witness to the faith!  I will never forget waiting for him, in front of the Opera House.  We waited for hours!!!  His boat passed, but wouldn't you believe, we completely missed seeing him.  We were deflated beyond words.  But wait!  He was coming in the pope mobile. We waited for more hours, and then, there he was.  BRIGHT smile, cruising by us.  We screamed, oh my did we scream!  I remember promising that by the next time I saw him, I would be married with a kid.  Everyone laughed, knowing that I hadn't had a date in years.  Knowing the next time I would see him would be three years...stranger things have happened, I promised.

Our motley crew in Fatima en route to Madrid to see the Holy Father
I remember seeing him in Madrid.  Madrid was hard.  My life had changed significantly, I was separated from my heart for 15 days.  I left my child to go see him.  Something was different about this trip.  I knew it would be a long time, if ever, that I would take a trip like this again.  I cried, nightly, by myself.  I carried many crosses during those 2 weeks.  I wonder now, Holy Father, if it was similar for you?  I will never forget when his zucchetto (the beanie) went flying in the air. What a trouper he was as the storm settled in, staying with the pilgrims in the rain, bearing witness to the love we are called to have for each other. After what seemed like the longest 2 weeks ever, he had the final Mass. I remember one of my alumni, Andrew, pointing out that the Holy Father didn't say, as he normally did, 'I will see you in Rio' rather, he announced 'the next World Youth Day will be in Rio'.  Andrew wondered if maybe he was telling us something.  Announcing to young people first, that his papacy had an expiration date.

When I woke up a couple of weeks ago, after feeding sweet baby Joey and saw the facebook status that the Holy Father had resigned, I was scared. I emailed a priest that I knew.  I was very aware of the depth of this announcement. The historical nature.  The unprecedented move.  As the reality settled in though, I felt excited for him.  I am still a bit wary of what will go down the next couple of weeks, I am not someone that deals with change well.  But, I will be praying.  And, I will be trusting.  And, I will be reflecting on those oh so important words, 'Be Not Afraid'.

The Day of the Papal announcement of abdicating the office.
As of 2:00 pm, Pope Benedict XVI. Peter, will step down from his role of leading the Church.

And Pope Benedict XVI, I guess what I am trying to say is...

It was fun growing with you, and I will miss you.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Why NFP does not work... (Part 1)

Just kidding…it does :)

To people reading this blog who might not know, NFP (Natural Family Planning) is a way of being aware of one's fertility and using the awesome cycle that God gave us to intentionally have a child, or to try to avoid a child (with the openness to life, if God wills it, as center).  NFP is often mocked by those that don’t use it.  People think it doesn’t work.  Although, studies have shown time and time again that NFP is as effective, if not more, than artificial birth control.  However, to many, many people, Aaron and I have probably given a ‘bad’ witness of NFP, because we have the blessing of being with child ONCE again :) We will have three kids in three years.  Our children are only 14 months apart.  What a failure we were, only, after sometime, I realized, we weren’t using NFP to avoid pregnancy when we got pregnant.  

We weren’t using NFP to avoid pregnancy when we got pregnant with this third child. I just thought I should let you know that.  I have been trying to find the words, for some time now, to explain how this gift of a third child came about, when we have made it very clear we were going to try to wait a year (mostly because of the two c sections and my hatred of pregnancy- love the result, hate the process).  To be honest, even though I announced this pregnancy like this, I had written another blog, 2 weeks early that was defensive and angry and answered people’s accusations before we were accused. 

We weren’t using NFP to avoid pregnancy when we got pregnant with this third child.  You see, I have told many of you that I am still having a hard time ‘wrapping my head’ around having a third.  I have ALWAYS wanted a big family, but truthfully, it just ain’t smart to have three kids in three years.  And it really ain’t smart to have three major surgeries in three years.  I cannot wait to hold this baby that I am blessed to carry in my body right now, but truthfully, ‘timing’ would have worked out better in the fall.  We had things planned.  We planned a ‘we are out of debt’ cruise with our really good friends.  I REALLY wanted to drink a few bud lights on St. Patrick’s day.  Although this child is not a mistake (why, in God’s name would anyone call a child a ‘mistake'), the timing of this child was certainly unplanned or less than ideal.  But it wasn’t because NFP failed at helping us avoid pregnancy.

You see, I read THIS ARTICLE this morning, and it made it all clear to me.  NFP has rules.  You follow your signs, and you follow the rules.   I HATE the comparison, but if you are taking artificial birth control, and you ‘forget’ to take a pill one day, you broke the rule.  And, with NFP, if you ‘break the rules’ you can’t blame the process.  Now, I am about to get a little, ‘TMI’ up in here, but I think it is worth it, so I am going to proceed.  If TMI, turns you off, you might want to skip this next part.  Aaron and I ‘broke the rules’.  We decided to um, “engage in marital relations”, on a day when we knew that chances of fertility were VERY low, but possible. I had looked at when I ovulated, and decided we were ‘probably good’.  BUT, the monitor clearly said, ‘low chance of fertility’.  The signs were showing low chances of fertility.  On that night, we knew there was a ‘chance’ (albeit) small that we could conceive.  And, we decided to proceed anyway, even after having a conversation about the low signs of fertility.  See, for a split second, I let my brain forget that my family is CRAZY fertile, so a ‘low chance’ is a ‘high chance’ in our family.  There is no such thing as a low chance.  To some of you that might struggle with infertility, I get this might be difficult to read, but if at any time during the window of fertility (the looongest window possible) we choose to um, ‘engage in marital relations’ (not sure how else to put that) we will get pregnant.  Our family’s history has shown me that.  And still, we decided that night to proceed. 

And, God blessed us with a third child.  And it wasn’t because NFP failed, it was because, for that night, we decided we weren’t going to use NFP to avoid pregnancy.  So, for those of you that might be thinking, ‘see, that Catholic way just does not work’, it does work…we just decided to break the rules.  The cool thing about it is, when you break the rules, you get a kid!  And although it has taken me sometime to wrap my head around it, I can say with 100% certainty, when I get to look in the eyes of the kid who is cookin’ inside of me, I just might think it was the best rule break I have ever done!

So that I don’t bore you with too many things in one day, I am going to label this Part 1, with Part 2 to follow.  In part 2, I am going to tell you about a conversation I had with my favorite other NFP couple blessed with crazy fertility about how NFP really does ‘ruin the romance’.  And, my response :)  I am sure you will be waiting at the edge of your seat!

In the meantime, if you know me, and you hears someone say something about how we are expecting our third because we are too silly to use artificial birth control and instead use that ineffective form of spacing called, ‘Natural Family Planning’….can you clarify that when we got pregnancy with our third, it wasn’t because of NFP, we weren’t using NFP that night :)

Friday, February 22, 2013

7 Quick Takes- Volume I don't know because I have never kept track

--- 1 ---
I woke up to a surprise planned by my husband this morning.  On our counter was a pot, in that pot was a piece of paper and a box of matches.  On that piece of paper was a number 42 thousand and some odd dollars.  It said, 'American Education Services'.  Some of you might be familiar with American Education Services.  As of today, they are no longer a part of my life.  American Education Services had the majority of my school student loans.  Together, we have paid off over $42,000 of AES loans (we have a couple more other loans to go).  I took that sheet of paper and I burned it in the pot, and lemme tell you, it felt awesome.
--- 2 ---
I am so thankful for the gift of cesarean sections :)   People rarely say that.  A LOT of women try to make other women feel bad if they ended up having one.  A LOT of women feel like failures if they happen. I do not.  I am so thankful that each of my boys have been born healthy and fantastic through this gift of medical science.  Last week, one of my best friend's wife had a baby!  Woot woot!  She ended up having an emergency c-section.  We talked a few days later about how thankful we are for medical science, and how, although natural labor would have been awesome, we are so thankful for how things worked out.  C-sections rock!
--- 3 ---
I'm on a roll, so I shall keep going, I am so thankful for the gift of formula to nourish our babies.  Breast feeding is so awesome and beautiful and bonding and delightful.  AND I am totally okay with the fact that my children are formula fed (for reasons my husband and I decided).  It's funny, yesterday on a fb post, a women was talking about the critique of breast feeding moms on formula feeding moms.  The person who posted this has just adopted a little boy and wasn't able to breast feed.  There were LOTS of comments in support, but one comment said, 'breast feeding advocates, such as myself, would never criticize an adoptive parent for not breast feeding'.  On the thread, most parents encouraging her were NOT adoptive parents and still ended up formula feeding. I couldn't believe the boldness of this 'breast feeding advocate".  It's so unfortunate, what women do to each other.  And, I feel so grateful for all the beautiful women in my life that have encouraged me and my decisions.  
--- 4 ---
So, I'm going to try to make this short. I have been doing a LOT of thinking on NFP lately.  When we found out we were pregnant with this new little guy, I had a bit of a hard time with it.  What was amazing is, a few days later I read Coleen's blog and it made me feel less alone.  Then, this week Bonnie's Blog spoke to my heart.  An openness to God's plan for your fertility is really difficult in today's culture.  REALLY difficult. Particularly if you have been blessed by crazy fertility, as my husband and I have.  Yesterday, we had our first real OB appointment.  The doctor was literally SHOCKED when we told her that any form of artificial birth control would not be an option for us (tubal ligation?  Nope. IUD? Nope. Vasectomy?  Nope.).  She was crazy surprised.  Not rude, just surprised.  She asked what religion we were, we told her Catholic.  Then, she was even more surprised, because she had never met a couple who practiced an openness to life this way. I wasn't angry at her, but I was shocked that we would be the ONLY patients, out of ALL her patients that would be living a reality of no artificial birth control.  Anyway, I'm developing some deeper thoughts on this (don't worry, non judgmental ones) that I shall share at  future date.
--- 5 ---
Little Aaron has started really playing with Joseph and it is such a joy to see.  The other day, Joey was finishing his bottle, and Aaron went up to him and held it for him.  When he finished, he laid on his tummy. I watched it all happened and felt so so so very grateful for the awesome reality that is my two sons.  Geez, did we get lucky.
--- 6 ---
You know who I don't like at all?  Mary.  Downton Abbey.  I think she is MEAN.  And NASTY.  Especially to her sister, and I don't think that is cute. So, while she is stunningly gorgeous, she has to start being nice to people.  That is all.  
--- 7 ---
This morning I realized I double-booked myself for two talks next week. This has never happened and I have that pit in my stomach, like you do when you did something really bad. Please say a prayer it all squares away, I am sure it will...but I am just feeling so bad about it.  Sometimes, my phone does not sync with my 'google' calendar, so THANK GOD, I even realized it this morning.  Here's hoping everything works out AND great lesson learned about  the failures of modern technology!

Have a great week and check out more quick takes!
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Special 8th take at my husband's request.
He just found out.  Cheesecake Factory is coming to the Metro Detroit. He is VERY excited. 

Friday, February 15, 2013

--- 1 ---
So, for Lent, I will be giving up complaining on fb and the blog about the sickness I feel in pregnancy. I couldn't totally give up complaining, because the husband is a massive amount of support to me when I am not feeling well, and I need that.  
--- 2 ---
See number 1...you know what I am thinking (wink, wink)
--- 3 ---
So, I got invited to be a part of this really fancy committee for the AoD on the New Evangelization.  I am way out of my league here.  But, so honored and excited to be a part of something so exciting.  Think I am lying about being out of my league?  The first meeting, was at the seventh floor of the chancery (I just had to look up the spelling).  A security guard had to swipe his card in the elevator to send me up.  When I got up there, a woman took my coat...then I walked into a room with primarily men in suits, Bishop Byrnes and Archbishop Vigneron.  Archbishop Vigneron said, 'hello, Mary'...and that is when I knew this was a different type of committee than what I have sat on in the past.  Truly though, all fun aside, we are so blessed in this Diocese to have a Shepherd who truly wants the hearts of his flock to fall deeper in love with Jesus.  Should be an interesting few months!  
--- 4 ---
see those folders? That is what he took! :)
Think I am fancy?  Wait till you hear about my Youth Minister.  After the super fancy meeting, I walked across the street to my high school youth minister's office (she now leads youth ministry for the diocese), and she said she had a fancy meeting the day before.  During HER fancy meeting, a Monsignor pulled out the voting folder that Cardinal Maida used in the last Conclave (this is BIG TIME CATHOLIC NERD TALK). Apparently, it is this huge, red, leather folder.  And inside, it still had ballots and a tally sheet for the Cardinals to use!  Can you imagine getting to look at that?  Wait, the best part is coming!!!  Apparently, the Monsignor was like, 'Cardinal Maida wasn't sure he was suppose to take it and no one else took theirs, but he did anyway'. So, I'd like you to get a visual of the Cardinal of Detroit, sneaking out of the last conclave with a huge red leather folder.  We laughed a lot imaging that this time around there will be one missing :)  Gosh, I love being Catholic.  If you are not, you should consider. 
--- 5 ---
I had an uncomfortable dream last night that I had dropped the ball on some major youth ministry events.  BUT, what was awesome, is DURING the dream, I was aware there was no way what was occurring actually would have happened.  So, I knew I was dreaming. I love when that happens.
--- 6 ---
We are getting a new couch! I am so excited.  When we got married, we thought we so 'cool' and 'hip' so we bought a really 'cool' and 'hip' couch.  You know, the kind made for lounging.  You know, the kind that is completely impractical.   You know, the kind that has so many sink holes in it that, at this point, to sit on it is an act of penance (#firstoworldproblems).  So, yeah,  I am super excited to replace it!  I'll keep you updated.
--- 7 ---
I am quite uncomfortable with Meteors (big ones) hitting the earth.  But, in a way, it reminds us of our finite nature (at least here on earth).  Interesting...and now, I shall go to confession!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

My thoughts on BXVI's decision...

...with a little bit of sass.


There is such beauty in Pope Benedict XVI being self-aware enough, humble enough, trusting enough, to make the decision to step down from the papacy. My favorite definition of humility is “knowing who you are before God, nothing more and nothing less”.  What a witness to humility our dear Holy Father is.  That being said, the implication that Pope John Paul II ‘should’ have stepped down, or ‘wanted’ to step down is redonkulous.  I have read SO.MANY. REPORTS, and heard SO.MANY.PEOPLE. say, ‘oh, if only John Paul II had the courage to do this…’ etc.. etc… What you have there, my friends, is a simple misreading of the two drastically different Popes.  JPII, an extrovert, used his sickness, age, etc…to witness to the world a beautiful kind of suffering.  His CHOICE to stay in the papal office until the day of his death provided many of us a spectacular witness of humility. A similar humility to that of Pope Benedict XVI.  Thanks Holy Fathers, you have taught us a lot.

I enjoy the people acting as though they were not surprised by this unprecedented (in any sort of recent history) move.  You were surprised, stop lying.

The speculations regarding who the next pope will be are very funny.  No one knows, stop acting like you do.

Anyone with any type of true understanding regarding the nature of the Roman Catholic Church knows that “Traditions” with a capital T are not going to change, no matter who is elected pope.  Might I suggest, in the upcoming weeks, if you are receiving your news from a source that speculates electing a pope who might modernize the Church’s teaching…that you seek another source.  
***Certain Church teachings are NEVER going to change.***
The Church will always be opposed to the ‘trigger issues’ secular culture would like us to change.  Lemme give you a hint.  The Church will ALWAYS say  birth control, gay sex, and abortion are in opposition to God’s plan for sexuality and life.  And the Church will ALWAYS say that women cannot be ordained.  Oh, and she will ALWAYS say that you cannot judge people and must welcome all with open arms.  If you are waiting/hoping/speculating that a more ‘forward thinking’ Holy Father will be chosen to take the Church out of the dark ages…you are wasting your time.  If you are receiving news from a source that indicates it is a possibility, you are receiving news from a source that clearly does not understand the Church, the Magisterium and of course, the Papacy.

Cardinal Dolan CAN be elected.  Sure, he probably won’t be.  But to say an American will NEVER be elected is crazy talk.  AND, to act like a desire to want one’s favorite Cardinal (i.e. Dolan) to be elected shows a lack of understanding the greater Church…well, that is super crazy talk.  Yes, I know my fav. has a very VERY small chance, but I’m still rooting for him!  Go Dolan Go!!!!

That is all. Please carry on.

Friday, February 8, 2013

--- 1 ---
So, totally overwhelmed by the amount of love we got with our big announcement.  I have said it time and time again, if it wasn't for this pesky pregnancy part, I would want to have a crud ton of babies.  But, oh my gosh, do I hate the pesky pregnancy part.
--- 2 ---
I've been pretty sick.  It's pretty not awesome. I am going to try not to complain, that is not easy.  What is fantastic is that I have a husband who really 'gets' that in order to make this work, we truly have to operate as 'Team Wilkerson'.  With some crazy youth events, two little guys, and constant queasiness, he has really had to step up.  And step up he has.  Good men rock...he is a good one.  
--- 3 ---
Advice needed. Like I said, I am pretty sick (did you pick up on that yet?), here is my question.  Mornings are the absolute worst.  TMI- but I throw up at least 3-4 times each morning and I am SO TIRED. As much as I would love your advice on how to not be sick, with my other two pregnancy, I think I have pretty much tried everything.  So, this just gets to be my reality and I get to try to handle it with class. My main issue is, I now have a 22 month old and a 7 month old who need to be occupied when I feel like I can barely stand.  Anyone had to occupy the time of little ones when you can barely get off the couch?  All suggestions would be fabulous.  So far, the big ol' flat screen box has been my go-to, but it is getting pretty ridiculous in terms of how much tv they are watching.  I'd love to hear your ideas :)
--- 4 ---
So, I did this awful thing last night and watched this 'conspiracy video' regarding the Sandy Hook school shooting.  Have you guys ever done that?  NOT smart.  Because, although I know that most of it can be easily explained, there are some things that are so weird, that I have to go, 'hmmmm'.  With conspiracy theories in general, I try to not think about them, because if I do...well, I would totally be one of those crazy people.  
--- 5 ---
As some of you know, I get to eat Raisin' Cane's this weekend, words cannot describe my excitement.  But, I am really, REALLY excited.
--- 6 ---
My husband stayed home today, because we need to replace our water heater (cha ching!), he is shoveling  snow right now.  How fantastic is it to have a wonderful person to shovel snow!?!?!  
--- 7 ---
So, the thing is, I am very excited about Raisin' Cane's, but I suppose I should add that I am ALSO excited to see my sisters in Kentucky this weekend. I am excited for the cousin time. I am excited for the fancy hotel that priceline gave us for a really cheap price. I am excited to swim! I am excited to be godparents to one of my dear sister's twins, 'Molly Maria'.  I am pretty much excited for the next twenty four hours.  But, lest you think my attitude is too positive, I am NOT excited to pack and I am NOT excited for the drive.  Prayers would be pleasant!

Have a great weekend!!!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

It's kind of a big deal :)

That danced with you like this...

...And dressed up for beer pong like this...

...and danced with his friends like this...

...and made parenting look as cool as this

...and handled newborn tears like this...

...and looked at his sons like this...

...and had the guts to let you post pictures like this...

...and regularly showed joy like this.

If your helpmate looked this good holding a kid...

or made it look this fantastic.

If he stared at his newly born son with a tear in his eye...

and had the guts to dress like Kanye West.

If your spouse was hot enough to dress as a pirate...

and wear footsie pajamas.

If your baby daddy handled spit up like a champ...

and prayed with your children like this.

And finally, if your husband kissed you like this...


Friday, February 1, 2013

--- 1 ---
Okay, Team facebook, so the Sheenazing Blogger Awards?  I totally got nominated for 'Most under appreciated blog'.  And it was awesome. And it made me feel legit.  But can I tell you the coolest part?  This is kind o' sappy, but you know how I do...Big Aaron was really proud of me.  And it was cool to have the ol' husband proud of my nomination in the world of Catholic Blogging.  He said 'That's a really big deal'.  Who knew that making my husband proud would feel so good?
--- 2 ---
Speaking of the awards, everyone was super pumped about them and who wouldn't be? It is fun to vote for people you enjoy reading on a weekly, if not daily basis.  But here is the thing, everyone owes a HUGE thank you to Bonnie at a Knotted Life.  I wondered it, and she confirmed it, that a crud ton of people ended up voting, like WAY more than she anticipated.  To take the time to tally/make it look cool/give us all something neat to do was AWESOME! So a big PHAT thank you to her :)  OH, And she did all this while cookin' a kid and we all know how awesome that is.

--- 3 ---
I gotta little bit of sass I am going to spit your way.  Remember how I told you last week that one of my favorite signs at the prolife rally was 'pro-gay/pro-life' because I think it is awesome that we can all come together, from different backgrounds/creeds/etc...to say, 'hey US of A, it is not okay that you can legally take the life of a baby in this country'.  Well on 'thefacebook'  this week, FOR REAL, on a post, this one person commented and was like, 'yeah, I don't think that is okay'.  In effect, his point was that to support people who support being pro-life and gay marriage is the equivalent of not caring for other people's souls.  And I was like, 'Um, dude for real???'.  But I didn't even enter back and forth, because you can't fight crazy.  But I will just say this, I hope he is VERY sure his soul is 'right' enough and 'sinless' enough to support the idea that babies shouldn't have their lives taken away.  Because otherwise he is a big, phat, hypocrite   

--- 4 ---
True story, I just used the word, 'phat' twice in two different takes.  It shows my youth relevance, because I am both, 'hip' and 'cool'.  DUH! (I don't think people say DUH anymore, but we should bring it back)

--- 5 ---
Youth Conference this weekend!  Super excited, but super tired just thinking about it. I have said it before, and I will say it again, this particular conference makes me more tired than any other youth event (well, actually the March for Life might replace that).  More tired than retreats, more tired than mission trips, heck, more tired than World Youth Days.  And it is coming at the heels of March for Life.  And, I now have two babies, so coming home on Sunday night, drinking a six pack and sleeping in on Monday....well, that just is not an option.  Shoot some prayers my way.

--- 6 ---
I have decided that the amount of laundry that must be done on a weekly basis in this household is ridiculous.  And, lemme just tell you, my mother had six children and did all of our laundry even through the teenage years (how spoiled were we).  So, I know it is just going to get worse, and that terrifies me.  BUT, someone once said, you should not think about the future with anxiety, because when the future comes, the grace is given to move you through.  I am praying the grace comes for me to accept laundry with a more joyful heart.
--- 7 ---
Huge announcement coming your way next week.  Why next week?  Because that is the appointed time.  (at this point, usually people add, 'I'm not pregnant).  

Have a great week and check out more takes at the link below
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!