Don’t Want an Abortion? Don’t Have One?

Sonogram of a BabyI’ve often heard the phrase, “If you don’t want an abortion, don’t have one,” as though permitting abortion only benefits those seeking to terminate the life of their unseen child and has no effect on the rest of us. That couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Please do not tell me, abortion only affects those who have one. I could go on about the tax money I am forced to pay to murder your child, a child I would gladly raise if you were to choose life and then ask me to take her.

Please do not pretend that only those faced with an unwanted pregnancy understand the stress of motherhood. Motherhood can be tough – tougher than I’d ever imagined!

Don’t pretend that abortion only saves lives of women. Women, even today, even in America, continue to die at the hands of abortionists. But what if there is more to it? What if those having an abortion are not the only ones who have their lives placed at risk through doctors who have become immune to the death and loss of the unborn?

I was about seven weeks pregnant when the bleeding began May 10th 1996 – so close to Mother’s Day. It was light spotting at first, and I wanted to believe…

But then, May 13th, a day I will remember forever, I had the appointment when I’d learn I was losing my baby. Only it wasn’t phrased like that. The words swam in my head, and over the next few weeks I’d hear things like “products of conception,” “fetal tissue,” and assorted other phrases spoken by those at the doctors’ offices. Each phrase empty of meaning, devoid of life,

but never once would I hear the word, “baby.”

On one visit, I sat in the waiting room with pregnant women of all shapes, sizes, and ages. I was pregnant too…but I was waiting for my child to die. No one sitting there knew that. Women smiled at me, and I forced myself to smile back. They probably assumed I was only a few weeks pregnant, not showing yet, but anticipating the arrival of a wondrous gift.

Instead, I was waiting for that gift to be “expelled” from me.

I would continue to feel worse over the next four weeks. I would get dizzy, feel faint, and experience an extreme stabbing pain. Some days I would bleed a lot. Others hardly at all, and I would think, “This must be it. This must be the end. It is finally over. I can get on with life again.”

But then it wouldn’t be over because the bleeding would pick up again (and in truth, even after the bleeding ended, I knew it would never be over; a piece of that child would always remain inside of me), and I would make another appointment with another doctor in the group.

At one of many appointments, the secretaries missed my name on the list, and I sat watching one smiling, joy-filled woman after another go in for her appointment, and I watched several of them leave glowing as they mooned over their new sonogram photos while I sat there.

Tears burning my eyes, I finally got up to tell the desk I was leaving. Realizing their mistake, they apologized profusely and took me right to a room. At least I didn’t have to face another woman asking when I was due, but things didn’t get better in the exam room.

A doctor I hadn’t met with yet came in shortly, and I figured they grabbed whoever was first available. He pressed on my abdomen a few times. He examined me internally. The pain was overwhelming, and I replied, “Yes I am feeling pain,” every time he asked whether I was feeling pain or just discomfort. I had the feeling he did not believe me and finally said that I wasn’t going to die from it, but that I was in pain, which made the doctor stand up and say, without looking me in the eye, that if I was not going to die from it, it was just a miscarriage, and we would meet again under better circumstances. He literally left the room in the same breath. The whole appointment took less than five minutes.

I’ve gone over that heartless wait I sat through while waiting for my name to be called and the exchange between myself and the rushed, uncaring doctor many times over the years, and neither the heaviness and confusion I felt nor the callousness of his behavior, the emotionlessness of his voice have been forgotten.

I have tried to give him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe there was no eye contact because he knew the loss I was experiencing, but I have to dismiss that view every time. It didn’t match the rest of his demeanor.

I really believe he didn’t care. He could have been diagnosing the loss of my child or removing a wart. Neither mattered to him. I have also thought many times about how this doctor, about how so many doctors, must separate themselves from the fact that they are dealing with babies in utero if they are going to also perform abortions on those babies.

It must be impossible for a doctor to sympathize with the loss of one woman’s unborn child one day and pull the arms and legs off another woman’s unborn child the next.

To engage in abortion, you must tell yourself the baby moving around inside the woman, the baby sucking his thumb, the baby with a beating heart, intact spinal cord, functioning brain waves, and even tiny spiraling fingerprints is not a baby at all.

You must tell yourself there is no reason for a woman who loses a pregnancy to feel any more loss than if she had lost a job she wanted.

Yeah, it was a dream to get that promotion, but another opportunity will come up when the time is right. No big deal.

Yeah, it was a dream to have that child, but it was really just fetal tissue at this stage anyway. You can have another when the time is right. No big deal.

I left the office that day forever changed. I have always been prolife, but that day it truly hit me. Abortion is not just between a woman and her doctor. Abortion affects all of us.

I would continue to bleed for four weeks, returning to the doctor’s office many times, until finally, at 11 weeks, one doctor would have enough and kindly order the internal sonogram that found the ectopic pregnancy. I was sent quickly to the hospital for emergency surgery and was moments away from having that tube burst. I believe it is a miracle that it did not. Many ectopics burst long before that time.

An ectopic pregnancy can be difficult to diagnose, but over the years, I have wondered if the doctors who saw me had cared perhaps just a little bit about that unborn child, if they had spent just a few extra minutes with me, if they would have diagnosed that loss more accurately earlier? Was my life placed at risk by doctors who had seen caused the death of unborn children so often that they were incapable of recognizing the true pain of pregnancy loss? Did their failing to see the loss of my child as anything noteworthy place my life at risk?

Was my life placed at risk because of the practice of abortion? I believe it was.

Will someone you know have her life placed at risk because of the practice of abortion?

If you don’t want an abortion, do not have one is an invalid argument. Abortion truly does affect us all, and the doctors, who once preserved life and now choose to end it, make life less meaningful for all, putting all at greater risk of misdiagnosis.

Tomorrow prolife advocates will march in Washington DC and around the country praying for the unborn. Please pray for those innocent children, for the women holding their futures in their hands, for the fathers who often have no voice and for those fathers who selfishly or cowardly push women into abortion, for the grandparents and extended family members, for the doctors choosing this profession, and for our legislatures dictating law which truly does affect us all. 

God Bless…

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Resolutions Can Begin Now

Setting blogging time limits

Time isn’t endless. Choose resolutions that have meaning.

Less than three weeks ago we welcomed in the New Year and folks around the world resolved to do any number of things – quit smoking, lose weight, workout more, reconcile with family, cut off bad influences…

What was on your list?

Here’s just a bit of mine, in no particular order.

  1. Write back to those who have commented on Single Mom Smiling!
  2. Lose 20+ pounds.
  3. Find time to work out.
  4. Spend time with friends and family.
  5. need to sleep more.
  6. Complain less.
  7. Balance my bank account.
  8. Pay bills on time, every time.
  9. Start a retirement account.
  10. Donate more.
  11. Buy less.
  12. Study math harder.
  13. Read a book just for fun.
  14. Maybe go on a date someday. Maybe not ;)

My list could be endless, but why bother? I haven’t done a great job keeping any of my resolutions even in these few short weeks. In fact, I never even bothered (until now) to write my resolutions down – a sure sign of doomed resolve.

The truth is, I never put real effort into this year’s resolutions. I never bothered to tell anyone who would hold me accountable. I never really thought about how important the word resolve should be!

And here’s more truth, the resolutions on my list are pretty shallow and self-centered.

I’d like to lose 20 pounds, but that is so I feel good about me. I’d like to organize my finances, but that’s because I don’t like debt. Even donating is less to help another and more so I can get rid of stuff.

With such shallowness accompanying my resolutions, what difference does it make whether I stick to them or not? What difference does a start date make?

But what about those things we can’t do over?

#1 on my list had been to read the Bible or pray the Rosary daily,

but I’ve already broken that resolution so many times that it doesn’t seem right to add it to the list at all anymore. I’ve missed the opportunity to spend special time with our Lord, and it can never be given back.

Sure, I’ve prayed daily, several times each day in fact, but that’s not what I had said I resolved to do, and now it’s too late for those days.

There are some moments, some things that can’t be undone, words that can’t be unsaid, opportunities that come up only once in a lifetime and are too good to let pass by.

Resolve to take advantage of those moments, those things, and recognize them for the treasures they present. Resolve to put your best effort into that which is worthy and which can never be redone. Do not wait to begin your resolve on a new year or even a new day.

Resolve to begin anew on each new moment.

Resolve to not spend one more day not taking full advantage of today.

For me, I wish I had prayed the Rosary or read the Bible from the start of 2015, but I Love that the Lord lets me begin again today, now, here. I don’t need to wait for a new year to pick up where I left off and to try again.

God is so Good!

This is the first day of the rest of your life. For me, I am putting this in writing so that I can be held accountable:

I resolve to read the Bible or say the Rosary daily.

Perhaps not for all of 2015, but for the rest of 2015, and now I am going to go and do just that. The reading I never got to this morning, Colossians 4 if you want to join me and share your thoughts!

Thank the Lord He lets us start each day anew when we ask for His help and Blessing!

If today there is something you should resolve to do that cannot be put off or cannot be undone later, resolve to do it now. New Year’s Resolutions are not the only time resolutions can or should be made. Seize the day! 

God Bless…

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A Single Mom’s 2014

This year I again had no time to write out and send Christmas cards. I thought of friends near and far those I see all the time and those who I haven’t seen in years and are fortunate to still be 20 years old in my eyes. This year, I did buy the cards and really did plan to write them out, but it seems like there is just never enough time and so I again sent not a one.

And so, as 2014 comes to an end, I thought I’d share some of my favorite memories from the past year and hope that you know that I will be thinking of you and praying for you again in the year ahead. I hope you enjoy my glance through 2014 and join me for 2015 and all that the Father allows to touch our lives.

Winter 2014

2014 SKi Lift

George & Noah on the ski life – The boys’ first time skiing was Winter 2013-14.

 

 

 

 

Noah, cut nose after skiing

And along with that new skiing experience we took some good falls. Luckily, this was the worst of it!

 

hunting the cat

You never know what you’ll see at our house. On this day, I found Noah & Kaleb hunting our cat. Notice the helmets (my kitchen bowls) and weapons (spoons and spatulas). This is one of the reasons I gave up my old rule of no guns in the house.

When my boys started biting their fruit role us into pistols and shooting each other at snack time, I decided to scrap the no gun rule and teach them gun safety instead. I've been thankful for that decision and the decision to educate myself on gun safety too.

When my boys started biting their fruit role us into pistols, I decided to scrap the no gun rule and teach them gun safety instead. I’ve been thankful for that decision and the decision to educate myself on gun safety ever since.

 

Spring 2014

Little League winners

2014 was a great year sports wise for my boys! Some are more athletic while some are more into the fun!

 

 

 

 

nursery school graduation

2014 was also a big year for school events: the older guys didn’t mind missing some school for Kaleb’s nursery school graduation.

Subway celebration

If you could celebrate at any restaurant in town, wouldn’t you pick Subway too? I guess you would if you were 11! Noah’s elementary school graduation!

Scholarship for high SAT scores

At a school ceremony on this night, Troy was surprised with a nice scholarship and guaranteed admission based on his high SAT scores to one of his top colleges where he hopes to pursue chemical engineering.

Troy at the National Firearms Museum

As a reformed gun-phobe, I cannot say enough good things about this program.

 

Summer 2014

Boys in the car

Summer 2014 sent us on trips all over the place, which is fun but means a lot of time in the car. To save money, we tent camped and got in touch with nature! God makes some beautiful creations, doesn’t He?

George and Kaleb

George and Noah to their first Boy Scout sleep away camp experience thanks to an anonymous donor who I will pray for again tonight. Here Kaleb greets George after a week at environmental camp, a trip he won for sportsmanship during a local fishing contest.

Kaleb and George being goofy!

A lot of time in the car and kids happy to be reunited!

sleeping boys in the car

Of course not all the time in the car was harmonious. At least here, most of the boys are sleeping. Ahhh…blessed is the Mother who has sleeping children for long car rides!

brothers

Animated conversations… Love these moments!

Preschooler in sunglasses

Kaleb too cool in his shades on vacation with the ENTIRE family! Up to 150 of us have gone some years.

Jumping over sand dunes at the beach

Action shots – Run and dive!

Cuddling on the couch

Nothing like a good movie…unless it’s cuddling with the brothers…

Backgammon and the boys

…or having them teach you a new game!

ice cream birthday

Birthday ice cream treat with my boy!

5th birthday at the park

Birthday party at the park. How can 5 years have passed so quickly???

 

 

children's soccer

Kaleb begins soccer. Life would be easier if I raised couch potatoes, but it wouldn’t be as much fun!

apple picking

Apple picking!

Noah is always taking goofy pictures of himself - and everything else!

Noah is always taking goofy pictures of himself – and of everything else too!

pumpkin flower

Pumpkin picking, and Kaleb picked this for me!

1st day of school

The first day of kindergarten! YIKES!

George and me
George and me – Did you see these goofy kids??? I guess there are so many reasons I don’t do Christmas card photos! Time may be one, but getting 5 boys to sit for pictures is something totally different! There’s always more to see. Hope you join us in 2015!        
Happy New Year and God Bless…

 

 

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A Vision of the Holy Family

the Holy Family

Reflecting the Trinity – Perfect balance is seen the Holy Family

Husband-Wife-Child the Family as God intended it. From the beginning, when God first made man, He knew man was not meant to survive alone. Man was meant to have a partner, someone to walk through life with, someone to share laughter and love with, someone to reflect a fraction of the Love God felt for man. Even in the Garden of Eden where nothing ever hurt man, the Lord knew loneliness might be an issue. God, in His infinite Wisdom, knew man would need a partner to physically be by his side daily and so God gave Adam Eve.

Thousands of years later, the Lord produced His Son, Jesus Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit. The God, the one God, omnipotent, omniscient, God, Father of All could have given Mary the strength to bear that child alone. He could have given her an awesome job and set her up in a sweet little palace on the outskirts of town. He could have given her servants for her beck and call. He could have provided her with armed guards and angle armies.

But He didn’t.

Instead, He provided her with a simple man, a carpenter, a man named Joseph.

And together with the most precious infant, they formed the Holy Family.

We see this family together and celebrate their Goodness in a special feast day, Jesus at the center. Jesus who could call the wrath of Heavens down upon those who wish to hurt Him, is placed between His earthly parents. Mary and Joseph standing behind Him protectively, watchfully, silently.

Jesus, who can do anything, be anything, go anywhere, Jesus, Son of the one perfect Father, was given an earthly Father to be present in His every day life, a father to teach Him to walk and talk, a father to bounce Him on his knee and make Him laugh aloud, a father to kick a ball and play catch with, a father to talk to about friendships and women and peer pressure, a father to teach Him a trade helping Him provide material and financial well-being for His family, a father to hold His hand in good times and bad, a father to physically represent the Love that the Father has for each of us made in His image.

Jesus, who could have arrived in a golden chariot, was instead delivered in a stable to a Mother, gentle and strong. Jesus was given a Mother to comfort and guide Him, a mother humble enough to deliver in a stable, a Mother to hold Him to her breast and nurse Him, giving Him nourishment and warmth the human Lord could not provide for Himself, a Mother to pick out His clothes each day and take Him to market when He had outgrown His sandals, a Mother determined to find Him when He was preaching in the temple, a mother to listen quietly, taking in what even she could not comprehend, a Mother teaching Him, even in His infinite wisdom, the value of Faith in a Loving, Just, Forgiving God, a Mother strong enough, loving enough, trusting enough to stay with Him as He was nailed to the Cross and drew those last shuddering breaths when time both stood still and passed too quickly all at once.

And we see Jesus, the Child, the center of the family. The child Joseph embraced without understanding how or why He was given to him. The child Joseph swore to protect, the child Mary swore to nourish body, mind, and soul, the child we see listening, learning, loving, the child who would lead the world but still yield to His earthly parents, the child who had every right to stamp His royal foot and selfishly demand things be different, that He be given the toys He wanted, that He be allowed the freedom to do what everyone else was doing, the child who would never do those things, the child the parents would give their lives for had they been given the chance, the child placed in front of his family, the Leader of millions not placed in front to lead his parents, although He would certainly do that too, but a child they placed in front of them, a child they would sacrifice for and provide for and pray for, and would protect and watch over and shower with Love.

And the balance of the family was perfect,

as God intended it, reflecting the Trinity.

Father-Son-Holy Spirit.

Husband-Wife-Child.

Please join me later in the week as I discuss single parenting and the Holy Family. Thank you.

photo credit

God Bless…

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A Christmas Birthday – Does A Christmas Baby Get Cheated?

Christmas Day photos

I had a baby born on Christmas Day, but would he always think that is special or would he feel cheated?

Finding out our baby was due on Christmas Day thrilled me beyond measure, but being due to have a baby on Christmas Day and actually having a  baby on Christmas Day are two different things, and I couldn’t help but think, “Really, who has a Baby on Christmas? Certainly, I couldn’t be lucky enough!”

However, Christmas morning rolled around, and it became obvious that this would in fact be the big day. The cramps came closer together; the pain became more intense, and I knew we had to go.

(The above is an excerpt from part 1. To read the rest, please click here).

At the hospital, we were greeted by a Jewish doctor wearing antlers and a Rudolf nose. Even if he hadn’t quite grasped the meaning of Christmas, he couldn’t deny the Joy the season brings as he happily delivered our son into my arms. Our little one was placed in his bassinet, the name we had chosen months ago written on a tag beside the bright red Christmas stocking the nursing staff had hung above his sleeping head.

Later, I’d think more about the name for our Christmas baby. We had chosen Grace Noelle had he been a she, but for some reason it didn’t occur to me until later that perhaps we should have named this baby boy Christopher or Nick or something Christmassy too.

Maybe it’s because I’ve spent almost four years of my life pregnant and I’ve gotten used to people critiquing baby names. Maybe it’s that I’ve learned to accept those name choice critics as part of parenthood, or maybe it’s that, now that my little one is five, the memory is so distant that I don’t remember, but whatever the reason, the criticism of his name didn’t bother me as much as things people said about his birth date. People would, at first, light up upon hearing he had been born on Christmas Day.

A Christmas Baby! they’d always exclaim, then quickly look crestfallen. “Poor kid,” they’d say, “he must get so cheated!”

Somehow,  the specialness of being born on Christmas Day had been replaced by the realization that he’d have only one celebration a year, and I began to wonder if I’d been selfish to be so excited about having a baby on this wonderful day.

There were years all his friends were away for Christmas, and he didn’t get the party I’d hoped to throw, and there have been many times he received birthday gifts in Christmas wrapping paper or received one gift meant for two celebrations, but there were good things too

Some of his best “birthday” celebrations weren’t on his birthday at all. We had modified half birthdays, and my mom had the great idea of taking him out to dinner on the 25th of some month, kind of like a surprise party. Those ideas were great, I still feared that this little one’s day would always be overshadowed by Christmas.

Most children are #1 on their birthdays. 

My Christmas Baby would always be #2 on his special day.

I had to be sure he didn’t miss out.

Christmas morning begins in one of the boys’ rooms with a Bible reading of the birth of Jesus. Then my Christmas Baby opens the first gift, his birthday gift, while his brothers are impatiently trying to be patient and wanting desperately to see if Santa has come. Only when my Christmas Baby is ready do we follow the glow of the tree Santa has decorated and begin to open Christmas presents.

My efforts to make him feel special sometimes extend to our Christmas decor. Some years, our living room has skipped the traditional green and red in favor of green and gold for the Green Bay Packers or maybe it’s an alien invasion Christmas where Star Wars and aliens play a prevalent role in the scheme. I’ve even made him a, “Christmas tree birfday cake that is really an alien spaceship disguised as a Christmas tree so no one knows it’s really a cake!”

But despite my best efforts, I still often wondered if my Christmas Baby was begin cheated by having been born on this day.

Inevitably, at random times of the year, people would exclaim,

“Oooh a CHRISTMAS BABY!”

and instead of watching for their crestfallen face as they realized it would mean fewer presents, I watched my son’s face for signs that he may be crestfallen too. Instead, I often saw something else.

The Christmas Baby exclamation would cause my little one to put his chubby, dimpled little fists on his sweet, little hips and pucker his scowling, if-looks-could-kill, little brow. Sometimes he’d mutter under his breath. Other times he was not nearly so subtle, but either way, to me his words were always clear and made me hold back laughter,

“I am not a Christmas Baby!

I am a Christmas Big Boy!”

Being a Christmas child was not bad for him.

It was just very much part of who he was.

I began worrying less about him being cheated in the ways most people meant. The secular celebration of Christmas has become such a part of our lives, and things like Green Bay Packer decorations and alien invasions, first gifts and surprise dinners out have become so expected at our Christmas celebrations that I began wondering instead if my Christmas Baby was in fact getting cheated, not because of the doubling up of gifts or the lack of birthday wrapping paper, but because, in all the compensating, he might lose the realization that this special day was also Jesus’ special day.

I now worried that he would be cheated,

not for want of more cheap toys,

but for want of the gift of Our Savior.

I shouldn’t have worried. God doesn’t run competitions between His children, especially between His Son, Jesus Christ, and those He has given to us. He knows it would be an unfair contest no matter how great my children are. My Christmas Baby didn’t have to be 2nd in the way I was afraid he’d be 2nd. He was 2nd in the way we are all 2nd to Christ – and that’s okay – even on your birthday! No compensating necessary!

My Christmas Baby was going to be all right, and I knew he got the gift of Christmas when he said to me one day, very matter of factly,

Mom don’t worry. Everyone shares a birthday with someone.

I’m just lucky that I share mine with Jesus.

He is smarter than I am some days.

Now, years later, I am happy to say, I am continuously thrilled to have that Christmas Baby, and when people still sometimes pity him for being born on this special day, I just smile. I no longer worry about him feeling cheated.

In fact, sometimes I wonder if those bemoaning his birth on this day are being cheated instead. Do they not know what an honor it is to share this day? Do they not know that the real presence of our Savior is so much more valuable than any credit card purchase?

I can wonder about them, or I can pray for them, and then I can leave it all to God. I know that God has great plans for all his children – whatever day they were born upon!

Merry Christmas! 

Happy Birthday!

(Just in case your birthday falls on Christmas too, and notice, no Christmas colors in that message!)

God Bless…

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A Baby Due on Christmas Day

Sonogram of Baby due on Christmas Day

Having a Baby on Christmas Day!

We laughed hearing the due date -

Our Baby was due on Christmas Day!

The Christmas season has always been my favorite time of the year, and Christmas Day has always been my favorite day of the year. To have a Baby born on this day would be just immeasurable Joy, but really…how many babies are actually born on their due dates and how many of those babies are born on Christmas Day??? I knew the chances weren’t good,

But still… a Christmas Baby!

Now, that really would be a Blessing!!

Christmas morning, I was up before dawn. We had been hit by some sort of awful bug that week, and even my husband and I had been running high fevers and feeling miserable. Luckily, my fever had broken Christmas Eve, so I was feeling only a bit under the weather. My husband, on the other hand was still miserable, and at some point during the middle of the night, he moved himself to the couch to try to sleep. I knew, in addition to not feeling well, he hadn’t slept well either, so it was with some trepidation that I thought of waking him up with the news.

“I think it’s time.”

Telling people you THINK it’s time on a regular day is one thing. Tearing people away from family and celebrations, gift giving and eggnog (especially when they are sick!) is something else entirely, and I sure didn’t want to cry wolf on this special, Glorious day, but as the sun turned the cold winter skies to grey, my pain became more intense.

I took a long hot shower.

Maybe the warm, soothing blasts would ease the cramping.

But the cramping didn’t ease.

I turned on the television and put on some music, soft but upbeat tunes.

Maybe I could work off the pain through exercise. Braxton-Hicks contractions fade with exercise.

But real contractions intensify, and finally I couldn’t wait any longer.

I went and shook my sleeping husband.

“Honey,” I whispered.

“Don’t say this is it,” he mumbled back.

I cringed, “I’m sorry, but think it’s time.”

I called my mom. “Mom, I think it’s time, but it might not be, so don’t rush. Take your time. It’s probably a false alarm. Who has a Baby on Christmas anyway?”

I remember the conversation, and yet, by the time my mother, smiling and happy, full of Christmas cheer and the exciting prospect of meeting her new grandchild by the day’s end, walked in the door, I was seriously considering causing bodily harm to her for doing exactly what I’d told her to, “Take her time.”

My brows were knotted. My expression deadly as she walked in that door, “Where were you???” I asked between contractions. She innocently replied with logic and truth, “You said take your time. I let your brothers open their gifts and…”

I think my expression stopped her, or maybe it was just the next wave of pain blocked her out. I do remember her surprised look as she questioned how quickly the contractions were coming.

Sometime during all of this, Troy had woken up and strolled out to oooh and aaaah over the lit up tree and presents. I handed him a package when really he wanted to delight in the tree and the colorful lights and the delicious piney smell of Christmas.

“Open it,” I’m sure I demanded.

And he did, “Oooohh blocks PLAY!”

This happily grinning toddler wanted to play with his new blocks! Why would he want to do that?? Didn’t he see I didn’t have time to play with blocks (Little did I know then, the demands on my time would get exponentially worse over the next year or twenty).

“We have no time for blocks! Open the next one.”

And so it went. This little child wanting to play with his blocks, his trucks, his whatevers, and the adults rushing him through his gifts.

I’m guessing this day is part of what led to his wanting to play more with the box than the toy in his later years!

Finally, it really was time. I couldn’t wait a second longer.

Please join me for Part II later this week.

God Bless…

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Francis Xavier Had The Whole World

Path to Bible

Only one path lets you keep your soul.

Francis Xavier had it pretty good. In fact, to some, he may have seemed to have the whole world. After all, he was an aristocrat; he was highly educated, wealthy, young, respected,…you name it, Francis really did seem to have it all.

Including a pesky little illiterate friend named Ignatius, later known as Saint Ignatius of Loyola – founder of the Jesuits.

Francis Xavier was at the university of Paris when Ignatius began hounding him to join religious life. Saint Francis wanted no part of it. He planned to pursue worldly things, to be counted among the intellectuals, the respected, the admired of the world. How could this happen if he gave up his own goals to follow Christ?

But Ignatius knew better. “What profits a man,” Ignatius repeatedly asked Francis, “if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?” (See more at: http://www.ignatianspirituality.com)

The question took a while to sink in but eventually, Saint Francis became one of the greatest missionaries of the Catholic church, traveling to India and Japan among other places and winning 30,000 souls for Christ.

But that’s the end of the story,

and we often forget years upon years worth of the middles of our stories.

Yes, we know Francis had a comfortable life and attended the university. Yes, we know Saint Ignatius was instrumental in helping him find his path. Yes, we know that path led to leading others to Christ, including those who had never heard of Jesus Christ, those who worshiped idols instead of their Loving Father.

But we miss everything in the middle.

We jump from cushy lifestyle to sainthood

in the space of just a few short sentences.

But there’s a whole lot of middle-of-the-story we miss.

We assume the road to sainthood was easy for Francis and others like him without thinking of how foolish Francis must have looked to his high class friends, how worried must his mother have been, how disappointed must his father, advisor to the king, have felt. We skip the idea that others must have tried to talk him out of his vocation as much as Ignatius talked to him about it.

Remember, in those days, he was not Saint Francis Xavier. He was simply Francis of the Xavier family, with all the normal insecurities and desires and doubts of any normal, average every day Joe. To those around him, Francis may or may not have been anyone special, but one can guess that many must have thought he was crazy to give up living in such a world of comfort to live in one of such sacrificial service.

Today, we tend to look at the saints and admire them, but we also tend to put them on pedestals, assuming their greatness came easily to them and that they are far above us, but in many cases the saints struggled with faith too. Some were born gentle and Godly, but many, like Francis Xavier, were distracted by worldly pursuits and required great, consistent, enduring prayer on the behalf of those around them as well as a heart open to receiving Christ. Without either of these, the praying friends and the open heart, Francis may not have heeded God’s call even if he had heard it.

Thankfully for thousands upon thousands of Christians worldwide including us too, Francis did not let his pursuit of worldly goods interfere with the calling God was putting on his heart. He did not let the noise of his generation, the distractions of wealth and education, intelligence and physical comfort pull him away from his true vocation, from what he was meant to do.

In short, Saint Francis Xavier, with the help of a persistent friend and God Himself, refused to trade his soul for the world. Today, how many of us can say the same? When this world and our faith collide in telling us how to act and we choose faith, when friends and family whom we love question and mock our decisions, when we are told we are crazy for doing something we know to be right despite others saying it’s wrong, when we reach out to someone despite risk to ourselves, we are putting God’s Love first. We are  refusing to gain the world while losing our soul. By detaching from things that signify success in this life, we are fixing on God for Love with Him in the next. We are putting eternity with God ahead of temporary worldly gains.

Saint Francis knew that, You do not become fixed on God until you become detached from everything else but God. (quoted from a Latin phrase and Father John A. Hardon’s blog – The Real Presence)

Do you know it too? Do you believe it? Do you live it? Do you Love it?

Are you cashing in your soul for worldly gains? What do you need to detach from in order to more perfectly serve the Lord? What is holding you back from sainthood? Do you doubt God’s ability to turn you into a saint such as Saint Francis Xavier who started out as simply Francis Xavier? 

Tonight, on this feast day of Saint Francis Xavier, I will pray that you make choices that may lose you the world but gain you your soul. When that happens, you’ll never go back.

God Bless…

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When Government & Values Conflict

the WHite House - Government and Faith Collide

When you Love your country, but not all of it’s policies…

Thursday night, President Barak Obama spoke publicly of his plans to invoke an executive order allowing millions of those who entered America illegally and those who have stayed beyond their visas to remain in the United States without threat of deportation.

Before the speech was finished, the division such an executive order would affect was obvious forcing some to face how often personal values go against government demands and to question how to live with both.

America is not the only nation to face challenges which divide people of faith, nor is immigration the only issue to cause division. Abortion, care for the less fortunate, education, gun rights, marriage, and taxes are just some of the many issues that divide people around the world and which governments often attempt to control, sometimes dictating outcomes simply by failing to pass legislation in support of Christian values thereby allowing anti-Christian practices to become accepted common practice.

So what is a good Catholic who also wants to be a good citizen to do?

This article appeared last Saturday on Catholic Stand where I am a monthly contributor. To read the rest of the article, please go to Catholic Stand.

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Thanksgiving, Coincidences, & Gratitude

Thanksgiving pumpkins

Can you give thanks for your situation even when it doesn’t look as good as that of those around you?

I used to be a big believer in coincidence, random things happening to people for no apparent reason. Connections made and lost, games won, keys found, friendships rekindled, car accidents avoided – or not,… you name it!

Pretty much anything could be looked at with wonder. I’d exclaim aloud, “That’s CRAZY! What are the chances of that!?!?”

Not that I’d actually pause long enough to calculate the chances, but I would often laugh (or cry) in wonder for a second or two over the chain of events that led up to whatever the coincidence was that struck me as particularly momentous at that time.

Not so much any more. Now I’ve made that pendulum swing pretty far in the opposite direction realizing that, in truth, very little if anything, is left to chance.Continue Reading