Tuesday, February 23, 2010

What's Your Name?

Hehehe, Ava has been saying/asking some of the funniest things these days, but I think this has been my favorite:
Ava: "Mommy, whatchur name?" (I so wish I could type/imitate the way she says it!)
Me: "My name is Mommy. What's your name?"
Ava: "No, no, no Mommy. Whatchur NAME?"
Me: "Oh, well, my name is Katherine. What's your name?"
Ava: "I Ava. Wuts my name?"
Me: "Your name is Ava"
Ava: "I know. I Ava, but what's MY name?"
Me: "Your name is Ava."
Ava: "Ohhh. So what's Daddy's name?"

Anyways, we went on like this for a few minutes. It was so cute to watch her trying to figure this out.

Monday, February 22, 2010

A Powerful Story

Every spring and fall, an event called 40 Days For Life takes place here in Nashville. Hundreds of families and individuals gather together over the course of 40 days to spend time in prayer specifically for an end to abortion and for all those souls whose lives are threatened by abortion. Another facet of the 40 days is to silently pray outside the abortion clinic here in Nashville for the women who are contemplating having an abortion and ending the life of their unborn child.

For the first time, Bobby and I went on a Sunday after church to pray with our children outside the abortion clinic. It was a powerful and moving experience to draw my heart as close as possible to the women who were entering those dreadful doors. No words were necessary, but as I stood there with Lucas in my arms and Ava in her stroller, my prayer was that perhaps their hearts could be stirred to see the beauty of their young lives. Bobby and I definitely intend to go back, especially after reading the following letter from a woman who DID have an abortion...This is a letter she wrote to her parish priest several years after having her abortion, expressing her pain and remorse.

Dear Father:

I have struggle with writing this letter. I truly feel called to do it, but at the same time, my heart still breaks every time I think of that day. March 6, 1998 - the fact that I was heading towards an abortion clinic hadn't set in yet. I was too busy begging the boy next to me to turn the car around. This boy was supposed to love me.

We'd been dating for over two years when we found out I was pregnant. The plan had been for us to get engaged in two years when he graduated college and marry the year after when I did. I figured this just moved the plan forward a bit. Neither of us had planned on a child yet, but he knew how I felt. We discussed what we would do if this situation popped up. He knew what I believed. He said he believed in a woman's choice and he would support me no matter what.

How naive I was Father. How I wished I had followed the Church's teaching and not had sex until I was married. You see, planning on marrying someone is not the same as actually marrying them. The support is not the same. I also learned the hard way that when the boy said he supported my right to choose, he really meant he supported my right to have an abortion.

This boy I loved had been slowly becoming a dominant force in my life. He had been sweet in high school, but in college jealousy and stress began to take over. I became something he could control and relieve his stress with. Never did I expect him to cross this line though.

I spent a week crying and begging. He spent a week shutting me out. He shoved, grabbed, yelled, and threatened. Then came March 6th: the day of my appointment at the abortion clinic. I was still trying to change his mind.

I told him I thought it was a boy. His name would be Michael. I told him regardless of what he believed, we could at least agree that the potential for life was inside me. If we did nothing, a beautiful child would grow and be born. For a moment I thought he would turn the car around. He just looked at me and said, "You're not going to let this be easy." Of course I wasn't; I didn't want to do it.

My mother had already told me I couldn't come home. I wasn't even allowed to come home just to give the baby up for adoption. She didn't want my siblings to think she approved. So, all my hopes rested on the boy who said he loved me; the boy who said it was my choice. Abortion was not my choice. I wanted my child, but he didn't care.

The closer we got to the clinic the harder I prayed. I prayed for protesters to be outside the clinic doors. I knew I could run to them. I knew they'd keep my child safe. But no one was there in the parking lot. There were no people holding signs. There was no one praying a rosary across the street, waiting to tell me everything would be alright. I was utterly alone.

When we entered the clinic my whole body was shaking with sobs. The lady at the check-in asked if we wanted to t talk to a counselor. The boy shook his head; I told her if we talked to a counselor I'd probably change my mind. She laughed. I had been trying to reach out, to tell her I needed help and she laughed like I made a joke.

The boy and I made our way to the waiting room and sat down. So many faces in there I'll never forget. I watched them go in one by one. My crying was almost uncontrollable now. My helplessness was engulfing me. I wondered why no one in that office came to check o me. Why didn't they say "You don't look ready to make this decision" or "We can't let you do this today" or "We insist you spend time with the counselor first."

No one did. They did come to tell me it was my turn to come down. I followed the lady down the stairs, changed into a gown and sat down with three other girls waiting my turn. I looked around and realized I couldn't do this. I didn't care if I couldn't go home. I would go somewhere, but not here.

I changed back into my clothes and walked up the stairs. I was about 100 feet from the door when he stopped me. I looked up into his face and told him I couldn't do this, we would figure something out. At that moment he grabbed my arm and asked the nurse if there was a room we could talk in. She sent us in a back room alone. She let him lead me away from that front door. She sent on one in to mediate, no one in to check on us.

I had to endure a half hour of hearing how he regretted ever knowing me. He told me that he would take out his hatred for me on this child. He grabbed my face, shoved me into a wall, looked down at me, and told me I could not leave. When I was allowed to leave that conference room, it was because he was sure I had no more fight left. He was sure I knew no one was going to help me.

I flipped him off as I headed back down the stairs. No one stopped me, but by this point I didn't expect it. I knew they weren't really there to help me. They wanted the same thing he did, to rip my child from my womb, to pretend my Michael never was.

The thing no one tells you about abortion is that you hear it. They give you meds to numb your body, but you are awake. I heard them scrape my baby from my body. I had nightmares about that sound for years.

Then I was moved to a recovery room. It was filled with recliners. I sat in one still crying. There was another girl across from me. I asked her how long she thought it would hurt. She gave me the clinical answer of about 4 weeks. No, I told her. How long do you think our hearts will hurt? The girl began to tell me her story, she began to cry as well. This was where the nurse finally intervened. She came and moved the girl away from me. Apparently it was not okay to show emotion for the loss of the children that never were.

Eventually I left that clinic and left that boy. I have never left that experience though. I have never been able to answer all my questions.

I know that it took about 6 years for me to stop having nightmares. I know that I stayed away from Church for about 4 years because I felt unworthy to be there. I know that I spent many nights after the birth of my children wondering what Michael would have been like. I know that I ask God to take care of my little boy in heaven. I know that God forgives. I know that I have been healed in this Church. I know that the pain in my heart will never go away. The past eleven years have dulled the pain, but it will never disappear.

What I don't know...is why I got so close to that door, but never made it out. Why was no one there to help me? Why did they let him take me alone into that conference room? Why did they let me go back down? Why wasn't I strong enough to keep fighting?

I'm not 18 anymore, Father. I am much stronger. While I cannot fight for Michael, I can fight for other women/girls like me. I can fight for children like Michael that deserve the life he never had. Please use this letter however you see fit. Let this experience become something for God's glory.

Love in Christ,
A member of the parish.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Rite of Passage! :)

Sooo...I drive a minivan now...

Bobby and I have been talking about this purchase for a while now. In fact, when we bought our Mitsubishi Montero SUV a year ago, Bobby was pushing for us to look at vans, but I said, "No way Jose!" My argument was that I was only 24 and pregnant with our 2nd baby. Well, well well. Fast forward 6 months, 2 babies, and one too many roadtrips with me squeezed in the backseat like a sardine in between two carseats, and well, we are now the proud owners of a 2004 burgundy Toyota Sienna! It must have been meant to be that we got it because I have been looking at vans on craigslist for a while now. I really wanted one that was a 2003 or higher model and the best perk would be a DVD player, but it would not have been a deal breaker. Our budget was $9,000 and so we were having a tough time finding one in that price range.

One day Bobby came across one that we both really liked. It was a 2004, had a DVD player, one owner, and in great condition! And it was only $7500! The only con was the mileage: 144K. Bobby talked to the guy, and we got to know him and he was so excited when he learned that Bobby worked for Dave Ramsey. And it turned out that his wife works at the same hospital as me. Anyways, we started to feel comfortable with this family that we were potential buyers for. BUT we still needed to sell my Montero in order to pay cash for the van. So last Saturday, we took a few pics of the Montero and listed them on Craigslist. No joke, within 7 minutes, we had received 3 emails and one phone call asking about the car. We sold it the next day!! Not only that, we sold it for $150 more than we paid for it a year ago! Craziness!

After the whirlwind of selling our Montero so quickly, we called the Sienna guy and the van was still available. We talked about it and prayed about it and bought it! As much as I was so not into driving a van 1 year ago, I really do like it. It was a major rite of passage for me!Not to mention, it's a tremendous blessing that we were even able to find it at just the right time for our family.

So that's it. A nice long blog about our "new" minivan!
Lucas felt like such a big boy in Ava's carseat! Not yet little guy!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

On Being a Wife

Wow, a friend of a friend of mine wrote this, and it encouraged me so much and helps me in my appreciation, love, and respect for my husband Bobby.

On being a wife
I have been blessed to know a lot of women who are good wives. I don't mean good mothers, homemakers, or money managers. I mean women who love their husbands beautifully and treat him as a gift from God. Specifically, I think of my Aunt Ange. She and I talk all the time about marriage. She has about a 12 year head start on me. I want our daughters to know this wisdom if God calls them into marriage. So, if for some reason I am not around when they are wives, I want to write to them this wisdom.

1. I try to give John 30 minutes when he gets home without asking anything of him. Nothing. I want him to be glad he's home and not put directly to task.

2. They have been working all day and are HUNGRY. Most of the time, dinner isn't ready, so try setting out cheese, crackers, and a beer. I remember being excited to do this when we were first married, but have forgotten to the more children we have had. I want to return to that. Even if it is carrots and dip or chips and salsa, I want him to have something to munch on while I finish dinner. More importantly, you are saying "Welcome home, thank you for being here."

3. My aunt told me that it is so easy to forget that after a baby is born and really anytime in general, your husband needs a break too. I specifically said after a baby because that is when I feel most overwhelmed and occupied. Their lives "seem" to not have changed as drastically as the mother's have. They go to work like usual, sleep through the night like usual, but they have changed. They have another soul they are responsible for, a wife to hold, comfort, and encourage in the early days of postpartum. Mainly, I just want John to know that I am not taking him for granted. I know it feels as though I've not looked at you in the face for a couple weeks, but I SEE EVERYTHING YOU ARE DOING.

4. Please take time to notice all the small things your husband does. THIS is up there on the most important. From sweeping the floor, holding the baby, making a bottle, warming up the car, dropping you off so you don't have to walk in the cold, getting your coat, bathing the children, putting people to bed, reading a story, offering to help, taking the trash out, telling you how nice you look, always giving you the bigger portion. Please notice and say thank you.

5. Never correct your husband especially IN FRONT OF PEOPLE. No one likes to be humiliated, but why would you do this to the person you took vows to and promised to love until the end of your days. It is our job to correct our children, not our husbands. If something needs to be discussed, it should be done in private. I remember an incident once when we were with friends and our husbands were involved in a very loud and crazy athletic game. We were all staying in a hotel and I remember a lot of the wives really chiding their husbands for being so loud and inconsiderate of others in the hotel and made them quit playing. I may have agreed, but I do not feel it was my position to put John in his place and tell him to stop. He is a mature, considerate adult and can decide those things for himself. I said to myself, "He wouldn't be partaking in this if he didn't think it was appropriate."

6. Never, ever bash their job. It would be the same as them bashing our motherhood. It is much more personal to them than we know. We are to be their voice of encouragement, not their voice of doubt. It may require being content on a meager salary, but being their support will only create strength.

7. Be content with what you have. Most men want to please their wives and give her beautiful things. To make them feel as though it isn't enough, will lead down a path that has no end. What's next? It is a trap. You cannot say to yourself, "Once I build a beautiful home, then I will be content." No, we must be content with what we have now and make that beautiful.

8. DO NOT NAG. DO NOT NAG. DO NOT NAG. DO NOT NAG. DO NOT NAG. It will only make him flee if not physically, he will mentally. He, like you, will make mistakes. My friend was so angry at her husband for wrecking their car. Really? Since he did it, on purpose? No, it was an accident. Say to yourself, "He would never hurt me on purpose." He will do things that you think are wrong. Guess what, you will do things that he thinks are wrong too. DO NOT NAG. DO NOT NAG. DO NOT NAG.

9. The teenage years are about YOUR MARRIAGE. My mom says that nothing tests your marriage more than teenagers. Please remember what really is going on. The devil is trying to ruin this marriage, to separate us, to put us at odds against each other. "Divide and Conquer" is his motto.

10. Lastly, but most importantly- Intimacy. My aunt and I have talked endless hours about this issue. I do not want to seem unladylike to even bring up such an issue on a blog, but the value of understanding this issue in marriage is so very important and so very personal. You want your husband to know that "I am always here for you, to love you, to know you." So unless I am in the Emergency Room or have the flu, you want your husband to know that "I, too, want to be with you." Please do not misunderstand my words. Life presents itself in many different forms, but the underlying message is that you want your husband to not feel this is a source of contention between the two of you. The world paints this issue as "that selfish husband who doesn't understand his tired wife." No, really, he just wants to be with the one he loves most and that is his perfect form of expression to her.

Love your husband desperately. The time, effort, and love you put into your marriage will only produce beautiful fruit. It is easy to be a good mother. Loving your own offspring is natural. It is saintly to be a good wife. It is against our nature to give so selflessly, so continually, so diligently to someone whom we didn't produce. Nurture your marriage. Protect your marriage. Your children will come and go, but we will always be with our husbands. Cherish that.