Friday, July 31, 2015

7 Takes of Crank with a cherry on top

Listen.  The Planned Parenthood Videos are edited for practicality- the full, unedited videos are easily available on 'theyoutube'.  And youtube is not a secret place no one can access.  I understand we live in a society where people can't think critically, where truth doesn't matter, and where we can just claim things are/aren't and that's the way we 'feel' so that makes it so.  But, for the Love of God, the unedited tapes are fully available.  And, last night, I pretty much laid in bed, DISTRESSED about the fact that the LEADER OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA is using the 'edited by extremists' excuse.  I can't. You guys. I really can't.
Which leads me to my next part... and if you don't like all the cranky, you probably shouldn't read.  This is the opposite of how I feel the majority of the time- but I'll tell you, more and more I'm just thinking it's time for the second coming.  I really do.  I don't know how we can bail ourselves out of this infection of relative truth/weirdness/cultural crisis.  Don't you just wanna sing "behold he comes, riding on a cloud, shining like the sun, at the trumpets call.." and really mean it?  Le sigh, but I know there is work to be done- and so I will try to continue to be a person of joy.

So the Lion thing... there's a lot that can be said and I get it.  But, it has got me thinking, I just can't see any reason, from a Catholic perspective, that Big Game Hunting, or hunting for 'fun' or 'sport' alone would ever be okay?  Population control? I totally get.  Eating the meat you get?  Perfect!  But just for fun, or just to decorate your house with the hide of a Lion... it seems really weird to me when it comes to Caring for God's creation.  Anyone want to weigh in...

So, you know when people make bad decisions constantly and then complain about how their bad decisions have affected their lives, but then they continue to make those bad decisions.  I think that's pretty much the most annoying thing ever.

We haven't had a really good cranky post full of crank in a long time, I hope you are enjoying.

Let's talk about my kids for a second eh?  That will make us smile.
Lil Aaron stuck a kernel of popcorn up his nose on Sunday night.  And it had been a really long weekend and I was BEYOND tired, so I really went a little over the top in my reaction. I was disproportionately upset about it.  It was not a shining moment in parenting.  I kept screaming at him, "Now we are going to have to go to the HOSPITAL!!!!"  to which he kept saying, "I'M SO SORRRRRRRRRY"

But later that night, after I was the freaking hero of the whole world and got it out... we snuggled in bed and I apologized for my reaction.
The good news?
I don't think that kid will EVER stick something up his nose again :)
(knock on a big ol' plank of wood)

John Paul, at least once a day, says, 'hi' to the baby and places his head on my tummy.  Then he just sits there.  It's ADORABLE. I love how much this little girl is loved already by her big brothers. So.much.

That's it for me.  Check out more Quick Takes at http://thisaintthelyceum.org/


Thursday, July 23, 2015

Let me Make you Aware of Something

Warning- sensitive topic ahead.  It could be at trigger for those dealing with infertility-

It’s Natural Family Planning Awareness week!  Who knew we’d need an awareness week for such a thing, but turns out we do.  And I am glad.  There are lots of reasons I am thankful for Natural Family Planning (and lots of reasons I hate it).  I thought I’d tell you about them.  Remember, this is one person’s experience with a system that allows a couple to naturally use the signs of fertility to be open to life, and at the same time avoiding conception when it makes sense (because, sometimes, not having all them babies just makes sense). 

There is one reason I am SO thankful for Natural Family Planning- because this reason is what taught me all about it.  This reason is how I really discovered the reasons for Natural Family Planning, the goods of natural family planning, the challenges of natural family planning and the importance of following the rules if you are trying to postpone a birth.  I've writtenabout this before… but, He, He is the reason I will forever be thankful for Natural Family Planning.

After my second c-section in less than 2 years, it made sense for us to ‘put off’ having a third child.  Having a third child was unsafe medically and because of having such tough pregnancies- it was time, after conceiving our first two relatively easily, to use Natural Family Planning.  

I loved Natural Family Planning as a person who never had to practice it (I am finding I ‘loved’ a lot of things prior to having experienced them, the older I get).  

I remember in college learning about it, being excited to share in such an intimate act of knowing my body, while at the same time, rejecting the culture’s understanding of fertility.  One of my friends (a dude)talked about how 'loving' it would be to ‘read signs together’ as a couple, how it would draw the couple closer- I ate that shtuff up like it was no body’s business.

But it turns out NFP for us was difficult.  The waiting period between having a baby and my cycle returning (because ain't nobody as fertile as me gonna use breastfeeding to space deez babies) was difficult.  Learning how to love each other without being able to express that love physically during certain periods of time was difficult.  Natural Family Planning, for me, was NOT proving to be the breeze I was promised by all the fancy fliers and talks I had attended.  NFP wasn't as intimate as was promised in the big thick binder of instruction given to me by my sister and a friend.  NFP kind of sucked. 

And so one night, as I wrote about in the past, we decided not to practice NFP for just a second.  We decided to ignore the ‘very low’ signs of fertility.  We decided it wouldn't happen this time, for a bunch of reasons that seem a little silly right now, but were highlighted by romance and the holidays…
And then… we got John Paul. 

I cried. A lot.

I felt like a failure, after telling all those skeptics about Catholics being forced to have babies that we would be waiting and it wouldn’t be a problem.  Did I mention, I cried?  A lot??????

You could call it a lack of faith in God’s plan, and you know what, I’ll even accept a little o’ that.  But I also get really sick in pregnancy.  My youngest was 5 months and my oldest not yet two- the thought of going through another pregnancy was so amazingly overwhelming, I couldn't even wrap my head around it.  I was so tired, and so sick through that pregnancy.  My husband never loved the name John Paul (he does now) but I always wanted it.  Seven months into pregnancy, I text him from yet another test at my doctor’s office and wrote something to the effect of, “Guess what? You don’t get a say, I need his name to be John Paul”- I think I needed that name to help me in those last two months, five appointments a week, more tired than I have been in my life.
But then this happen-
Look at all that booze I needed to celebrate!!!
And it all connected.

There’s a reason, we, as Catholics, are open to working with God regarding our fertility, and it comes in the form of a smile like this. 

I don’t say this lightly, having a third child in just over three years was impossibly difficult at times.  However, I enjoyed his ‘newborn’ phase more than any of the others. I loved the quiet nursing time and, true to God knowing what you can handle, his spirit was one of gentle calm.  John Paul, in my opinion, made Aaron the dad he is.  I have written about their special bond before, but often times, I was so tired, Aaron had to take over with him.  There were many a night the two of them would be up quietly in the wee hours of the morning.  Cheesy as it is to say, John Paul Francis changed my husband and made him more tender than I could have ever imagined.

My very favorite picture of Aaron and a child
 After having John Paul, our doctor told us she was comfortable with us having a fourth child, but she would prefer (um, that was putting it mildly) we wait at least a year.  So this time, we were strict about NFP.  

Sometimes putting our physical desires aside for the sake of the good of our family is tough, real tough.
I loved nursing John Paul (oh man- Breast feeding advocates are gonna freak out at this next part), but I only nursed him for 6 weeks- for me, and my level of comfort, having my ‘signs’ back and my cycle back are necessary to safely reading my cycle. 

There were plenty of times when Aaron and I had to remind ourselves of why we were spacing and how important it was to not ‘break the rules’ when signs were showing us to be fertile.  Sometimes it would be challenging, sometimes I felt frustrated, sometimes I felt jealous of my friends who take a pill once a day and can feel free to go about their, ahem, businaaaasssssssss. 

We were both relieved when the window of one year closed and we were able to start being open to trying again.  I’m getting older, so my fertility is getting less.  It took us four months to conceive Malia.  I found out I was expecting her two days after returning from the hospital to visit Paul for, what I didn't know, would be the last time.  Paul got to ‘meet’ her, that’s important to me.
Paul got to 'meet' Malia- who's middle name will be Paul
The thing about NFP is that it is a cross, it is a challenge, it’s so hard to do something so different than what the rest of the world is doing, but Natural Family Planning is an amazing way to open your tribe up to a whole different level of working with and through God to create something really, REALLY cool.

I’d imagine in about four months I’ll be cursing the system again, our expectation (which could be wrong) is that my doctor’s suggestion (which we will trust) will be avoiding future pregnancies… but I am glad we have the confidence of knowing we can space our children in a completely natural, organic way.  And, maybe I am just a little glad that if we did decide to 'cheat' again (no plans)- we'd end up with something as cool as John Paul Francis Wilkerson. 

For more information on NFP- check out this site….

For an awesome talk on why Artificial Contraception might not be all it’s cracked up to be… check out this one.

Monday, July 20, 2015

6 Months of Living Like Paul...


Two weeks ago I was in Frankenmuth, Michigan with family.  It was a great trip with several of my siblings and a whole crew of nieces/nephews. We had so much fun, but I couldn't help but remember the trip I took there several years ago with Paul, Ann, Uncle Mario, Aaron and our kids at the time.  As we stopped in several places to take pictures with family, I was reminded of smiling at the same places with my dear friends, one who is now with Jesus.  The day we left, I put the boys in their, ‘Uncle Paul’ shirts, you know the ones, the ones that have the date of his homecoming on the front, and a reminder to LIVE LIKE PAUL on the back.  When the boys are dressed alike, I’m just gonna be honest and say they are ADORABLE, a woman saw the front of their shirts and said, “Oh January 20th, what’s special about that date?”  She seemed embarrassed when I responded, “That’s the day their uncle went to heaven, but he was a really awesome guy, so we celebrate it.”  We went on our way with smiles but ran into her again, and this time she saw the back of the shirts… “LIVE LIKE PAUL, “ she said, “Wow, your uncle sounds like a really great guy”.

So, it’s been six months since Paul took his last breath here on earth and his first breath in the presence of Jesus.  That is SO.HARD. for me to believe.  And yet, in these six months, like so many of you,  I have been so blessed to see Paul making a lasting impact in the lives of others.  I have witnessed it in so many ways, as people have used the hashtag #livelikepaul

His wife, Ann, lives like him every.single.day.  Radiating a humble honesty as she reflects, often with joy about the tremendous impact of her husband.  She gives updates about the kids, and shares pictures of little Paul “Blaze” Coakley, born at home a few months after Paul’s passing.  Ann inspires me so much, in a particular way, to trust in the mysterious plan of God.

I've watched other people live like him too.  People going on adventures. Living more joyfully perhaps than they would have six months ago.  I followed on facebook as Ann’s cousins walked the Camino, all the while sporting their ‘Live Like Paul’ shirts. I watched his mom/sisters traveling to Alaska- enjoying their time together as pictures are displayed on social media.  Father Jon made a few of us a mixed cd, filled with songs to remember Paul by.   He also went out and got himself a truck, christened it the new “Josephine” and promised it would be full of adventures.  I have loved reading updates on the facebook page of people living like Paul, and reading personal testimonies about how this man Paul, sometimes a stranger, has profoundly changed the way people are living.

But I have to ask the question myself- how has ‘living like paul’ impacted me in the last six months? I gotta be honest, the answer doesn't come that easily.

I’d love to say I have been more adventurous, challenged myself to take risks and do crazy things.  But the truth is, I still kind of love indoors and fancy hotels more than I think I’ll ever like doing ‘outdoorsy’ or wild things.  However, there’s a certain sweetness that perhaps the part of my life, the really crazy adventurous part, is protected in a place of lived memories with my dear friend Paul.

I’d love to say I have been a better wife, using the example of Paul and Ann to push me to choose more patient words when dealing with my ‘opposites attract’ husband.  But, the truth is, in grief and in pregnancy I've probably been more short tempered with the ol’ husband than ever before.  However, every time I read an update from Ann about the love Paul and her shared, I challenge myself to be better. 

I’d love to say I have been a better mom, using Paul’s love for his children as an example to remember the most important thing I can give to my children is time and love.  But, the truth is, I have done a lot of couch parenting as I work through this pregnancy and some days it’s all I can do to not irrationally yell as I park them in front of the TV for another show while I face rounds of nausea.  However, I have often been able to tell them about their Uncle Paul, and, in their young lives, I have watched heaven become real as they talk about him with me. 

Living like Paul in these last six months hasn't been obvious in the Wilkerson house.  And, as I was reflecting on this blog, I was kind of feeling ashamed of that. Shouldn't my friend, my brother in so many senses of the word, have had a bigger impact in the way I am living from day to day?  But then, the other night, I had this realization.

During the Eulogy I was blessed to give, I reflected on how I often wondered why Paul would choose to be friends with a big ol’ pagan like me.  When I said that, several people in the Church laughed, (some more than others) leading me to believe perhaps other people had wondered the same thing;)  You see, as you know, Paul and I were very, very close friends.  As we moved through our early and mid-twenties, we lived so many memories together.  We learned how to go from living in our precious little bubble of Franciscan University, to discerning how to love well in this big scary world.  

But... he always did it better than me.  

However, he always loved me.  He loved me for exactly who I was and exactly where I was at, while inspiring me with the way he lived, to be better.

And so, as I go through this life with the knowledge that my dear friend is in heaven, I am continuing to strive to live like him. 

I feel his presence so deeply when I tell groups of people about him during presentations.  As I explain that living like Paul means living as God called you to be, and that call is NEVER boring.  I feel his very real intercession as teens and adults I am with ask for prayers from St. Paul.

I hear his laughter when I mutter under my breath, ‘mother effer’ at the bee flying around my head as I suffer through playing outside with my kids.

I hear his correction, “MARY!!!!!!!!!!!!!” when I mouth off to Big Aaron, hearing the shock he would sometimes express at how UN-Christian I could be….and that was all he needed to do.  No long lectures, but a firm reminder that I could do better.

I know he delights as I jam out and cry in my car to songs as cheesy as, “Life Goes On” by 2 PAC (edited version, of course); or as honest as, “Angels Calling” by the Tenors. And I know he sings along with me to “Devil Goes Down To Georgia”- and mimics the fiddle parts with me like we used to until my arms are sore, but his heavenly arms could keep going for eternity.

I guess the thing is, Paul always loved me, in a very real way, as I think Jesus does.  Where I am at, while gently pushing me to be better…and as I reflect on the awesome gift of that, I realize I AM living like Paul, I've been living like Paul as I let his legacy continue to affect the person I am today and the person I will be in the future.

***During the next month, we will be encouraging people to post on the facebook page   ways that they have been able to '#LIVELIKEPAUL',  or been challenged to #'LIVELIKEPAUL' in the days and months since his passing.  Please consider posting how Paul's death (but most importantly LIFE) has impacted you and the ones you love.  You can do this by picture, by words, by links to blogs (my favorite), but help us to carry on his legacy by putting it out there for others to read***  

Friday, July 17, 2015

A little Takes for you this Friday

Last Friday, Big Aaron said, 'I'm leaving at four, have the kids shoes on and let's go for a drive"- it was pretty much the best message ever.  I'm all about family adventures.  We went to an art fair and ate corn dogs and looked at pretty things like beer candles (who knew that was a thing?).  Spontaneous adventures are where it's at for me, I was just so darn happy I could have been walking on a cloud.
Corn Dogs make my boys VERY happy.
Speaking of adventures, I have been trying to convince Aaron to take one this weekend.  It's about the last weekend where we have zero necessary plans until the baby gets here, and honestly, despite what Big A thinks, there is a LOT to do before the baby gets here, so I'll be filling our weekends with house projects through the month of August.  Anyway, that's why I've been trying to convince Aaron to go on an adventure this weekend. I was thinking Chicago, but then, my good friend Erin was like, 'um, it's suppose to be 90' in Chicago' and ain't no 3rd trimester got time for that.  So... my newest angle is gonna be Niagra Falls- which I KNOW Big A is gonna reject, so feel free to post your approval on his facebook wall.  It's only four hours away.  We can be there by 9 or 10 tomorrow morning, do all the cheesy tourist stuff and be back by a reasonable time on Sunday.  The boys would love it, I would love it and Aaron (who doesn't LOVE adventures as much as me) could love the fact that we loved it so much.  WINNING!

Joey's third birthday was last Sunday and his party was Saturday.  By party it is meant that (little Baltimore catechism phrasing for my old school Catholic homies) I remembered a week before we hadn't put anything on the calender so we invited our parents and our cousin Judy and I made a cake.  I've talked to the ol' blog about my sensitive child Joey- life is just really hard for him sometimes in general... he's special that way.  But man, watching him light up with having the weekend be all about him was so cool.  He was in construction truck and super hero heaven.  I loved seeing the glow of his smile and him stretching his fingers to show he is three.  That boy is just the best, I am so glad God saw fit to give us him.
I'm pretty much a profesh cake decorator

One of Joey's gift was a 'Paw Patrol' board game.  The thing about me is I don't do a lot of games, or puzzles, or coloring, or pretty much anything that has pieces and can make my already cluttered house more cluttered.. BUT, they LOVE this game.  However, because we don't do games a lot around here, lil' A is having a hard time with the fact that he can't win every single time.  Yesterday he had a mini-breakdown when Joey 'won' for the third time.  Completely melting down because it was 'his turn' to win, but it's a chance game like 'candyland' so Joey was just lucky.  Anyway, all of this is to ask you a question.  How do you teach your growing children the value of being a good winner and a good loser?  What is some language you use that's helpful?  I mean, this kid was legit heartbroken that he wasn't winning. 

I'm working my way through the 3rd trimester and workin' is what it feels like.  The irons off again, gestational diabetes is our reality once again, the ol' back is feeling like 'whoa' occasionally (but nowhere NEAR what it was with John Paul) and I am blessed with nausea again... I wouldn't mind some prayers if you got some.  

So, the Edel Conference got me jealous and it got me thinking...
 I think married women's ministry/young moms ministry might be the most extremely lacking ministry in the Church, at least in the AoD. I've been thinking it for awhile.  There's this great married women's retreat, many of you may have heard of, put on by the Sisters of Mary Mother of the Eucharist, in December and it sells out in like, three seconds.  Why?  Because, in my opinion, married women/women with children are desperate for a break with Jesus.  This retreat is the only one I know of in the area, and like I said, it can't serve as many people as would like to be served.  So, after praying about it quietly for a few months... I decided to just go ahead and with the help of some good friends/sisters and the direction of Holy Spirit.... plan an overnight one at a local parish. I am excited. It won't be till 2016, Aaron thinks I am CRAZY (our lives are not what one would call, calm, during this season), but you are invited and I think it will be great.

Cute huh?

That's it for me.  Check out more Quick Takes at http://thisaintthelyceum.org/


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The cold hard truth; people don't care

And, people won’t care. We won't.

That’s the bottom line. 

Do you remember Kermit Gosnell?  Will he be notoriously remembered in history as a serial killer, a man who kept parts of babies in jars as a type of trophy?  Nope.  He is far off the radar of popular culture. Some may vaguely remember hearing his name, but remembering his crimes, like we do, say, with someone like Jeffrey Dahmer?  Nope.  Why?  

Because people don’t care.

I wrote this blog a few years ago, reflecting on the horrors of Kermit Gosnell.  In it, I explained a conversation I had with my husband, Aaron…

Tonight, so upset, I asked my husband, "Why don't people care?!?!".  He said, "They just don't".  I followed it up, "But honey, this would be front page news if it was about puppies, the Michael Vick story was in headlines for months."

"I agree," he said, "But that was about dogs and puppies, people care about dogs and puppies."

"But dear, I like, actually need to have an answer, you need to tell me why people don't care?"

And what he said next is right.  What he said broke my heart.  "They don't care because the story is talking about abortion, and people in this country don't have a problem with abortion, so they won't pay attention to a story that has the word abortion in it."

I don’t know what to do with that friends.  I don’t know how to make sense of this world. I don’t know how to make sense of aworld where a director of Planned Parenthood talks without emotion and franklyabout snapping baby’s heads in the womb in such a way to keep the brain/bodyintact for sale.

Maybe Planned Parenthood sells organs of dead children in  this way for profit, or for medical advancement/awareness/research… perhaps we will never know, especially in this culture where truth-telling is not held to a high standard.  

Maybe they 'donate' the organs with consent, perhaps without; maybe vulnerable women are asked to ‘check a box’ to ensure their ‘terminated pregnancies’ (sounds better when put that way) can be used for some good?  

Regardless, I just don’t know what to do with the horror of it all.  And that’s one thing haunting me tonight.  But the greater thing?  The thing I can’t get over is…

People won’t care.

We won’t.

We won’t care because our hearts are hardened.  Or we've been conditioned to believe Planned Parenthood is a champion of women.  

We won’t care because the dignity of life, and a child’s inherent right to live (even with a tragic diagnosis), is no longer something we just ‘know’ but rather something that is subject to how we feel; or what our personal ethics are- a 'right' to life doesn't exist, because, after all, a human being growing inside a woman's body is only worthy of life if that woman chooses to believe it is. 

Or maybe we won’t care because it has to do with abortion. And people in this country don’t have a problem with abortion, so we won’t choose to be stunned by today’s newest discovery of Planned Parenthood’s atrocities.

But gosh that’s scary.

Because you see, I have always been fascinated with history.  To be honest, I have always been fascinated, in particular, with the points in history when humanity has possessed the inclination to do unbelievably, inexplicably evil things.  How did those things happen?  Where was the outcry?  Why didn't people, good people, stop these things from happening?

I think I have my answer.

People just didn’t care.

St. Michael the Archangel, 
defend us in battle. 
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the Devil. 
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, 
and do thou, 
O Prince of the heavenly hosts, 
by the power of God, 
thrust into hell Satan, 
and all the evil spirits, 
who prowl about the world 
seeking the ruin of souls.