Most Popular Posts, Motherhood & Parenting

2nd Most Popular Post of 2019: A Miscarriage

Dear Readers, this wasn’t an easy post, and considering the high traffic it got, I suspect that many of you can relate to the hurt of a miscarriage.

What hidden suffering dwells in the heart of a mother or a father who has miscarried a precious, little baby?  The Lord knows, and may all these little souls give glory to Him.

The following is my story from earlier this year.  It’s almost unbelievable to me.

A Mother’s Heart During a Miscarriage

I just recently miscarried our 8th child.  I had only been pregnant 5 weeks, which is to say, that I had only known I was pregnant for about a week before the baby died.

Backing Up a Bit

Now let me back up a bit.  In case you’re new here, you may not know that our family has had one wild year, with the most stressful thing being the health of Paul.  In particular, we have spent the last few weeks making multiple trips to Mayo in Rochester, resulting in two surgeries.

In the midst of this, I became pregnant.  Now I know some of you will think this is irresponsible.  Some of you will shrug your shoulders and scoff at the effectiveness of NFP.  Some of you will think we’re just downright crazy.

And so we are.  For we knew what we were doing.  It was not a reckless choice; rather, it was a decision of love.

Because I do chart according to the Creighton Model, I knew I was pregnant before I took the test.  And truthfully, in spite of it all, I was struggling with feelings of doubt, of stress, and of, well, craziness.

In fact, I spent an hour with Jesus in Adoration, discussing these very things.  After I poured my heart out to Him, I opened my Bible to read my passage for the day, which happened to be Isaiah 61.  Knowing my passage was coming from Isaiah, I fully expected to read something about fire and brimstone and years of exile.  Instead, I got this:

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me…to bring good tidings to the afflicted; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted...to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor…to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called the oaks of righteousness…”

A Year of the Lord’s Favor

I read and reread that passage.  A year of the Lord’s favor…garlands, oils, mantles of praise…  I let it wash over me, and I left Adoration feeling light and full of hope.  This was going to be a year of the Lord’s favor.  I mean, that’s awesome!  Who know what’s in store for me?  Whatever it is, it’ll be great.

A few days later, a pregnancy test confirmed my suspicions.  I’d be lying, however, if I said that I was all jumping jacks and high fives.  No, I was worried.  My pregnancies are never easy after all, and how was I going to handle this?

Then I thought of all the things I’d have to say “no” to.  No to a silent retreat.  (I’d be too sick.)  No to running and biking and even walking later on.  No to fitting into my clothes again.  No to wine and lemon martinis.  No to sleeping ever again.  No, no…no.

Thankfully, however, I have great friends who reminded me of my silliness and then, I also remembered Isaiah  61–a year of the Lord’s favor.  After I hyperventilated for one more minute, I stopped and laughed out loud.  A year of favor from the Lord!

Yes, suffering and pregnancies and children are great blessings from the Lord.  All one needs to do is read Psalms 127 and 128 to know that.  In fact the Bible is replete with passages about children being a blessing.

As a couple of days went by, my husband and I began to be excited.  8 kids!  Under the age of 13!  Wow, we’re so blessed!

St. John Marie Vianney’s Heart

During this time, the heart of St. John Marie Vianney happened to be at the Cathedral for two days of public veneration, so I loaded the children up and braced myself for long lines.

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This is the holy card that they handed out at the door of the Cathedral.

When we walked into the church, however, almost nobody was there.  I held the baby, grabbed the hand of the 3-year-old, and led the children straight to the kneelers, which were placed directly in front of St. Vianney’s heart.  We knelt and prayed.  We touched our scapulars to the glass of the reliquary.  Then I handed the baby off to The Eldest and prayed some more.

I prayed that my guardian angel would somehow take the heart of St. Vianney and touch my heart with it.  I prayed that he’d touch the heart of my cousin, who suffers from alcoholism.  I prayed that he’d touch the heart of a certain priest I know.  I prayed that he’d touch the heart of my husband, my children, and lastly, the little baby growing inside of me.

My heart swelled with emotion, as I knelt there with all 8 of my children surrounding me.  God is so good, so good.

Afterwards, we stopped by a friend’s house, and I mentioned my pregnancy and the Isaiah passage about a “year of favor from the Lord.”  She said, “You know, that reminds me of the Annunciation, when the Angel Gabriel greeted Mary with, ‘Hail, Favored One.'”

How beautiful!  To connect a year of “favor” and pregnancy to Mary, Full of Grace, and certainly favored.  My heart was full.

My Heart Breaks

Two hours later I began bleeding.  At first I couldn’t believe it.  Maybe the baby would still be ok?  I called my doctor, but I couldn’t get in to see him until the next day.

And that night the baby died, as I bled and bled.

In the morning, my husband and I stood before the icon of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and my soul cried, My little baby!  I will never hold you in this life!  Did I tell you how much I love you?

My husband held me.  We prayed Morning Prayer and knew that the baby needed a name.  As I had mentioned Isaiah 61 and the Annunciation to him earlier, we named the baby Gabriel Marie.  We thanked God for his life, and we commended him to Jesus and Mary.

We told the children too, as they joined us for Morning Prayer, and we answered their innocent, concerned questions as best as we could.

Then my husband had to go to work, and I had to take care of the children.  It was an emotional day.

My Heart Grows

Life must go on.

A few days later I was in Adoration again, and I was overcome with a spirit of doubt–doubt about my feelings, doubt about naming the baby, doubt about the existence of the baby himself.  Maybe I was just being ridiculous?  Overreacting?

I soon realized, however, that these agitating thoughts were not from Jesus, and I cast them aside.  But still, in a place of fear, I begged Jesus, Please will you give me a sign about little Gabriel?  Jesus, I am weak.  If my Gabriel was real, let me come across someone named Gabriel today.  But not my will, only Your will be done.

I left Adoration feeling a little down and drove to the grocery store.  As I pushed the cart around, I forgot all about my prayer and moved to a checkout lane.  I zipped by an empty one, because I was looking for a particular clerk that I always go to.  But she wasn’t there, so I backed up and entered the empty lane and began unloading my groceries.

When I glanced up, I noticed a new clerk, someone I had never seen before.  His name was Gabriel.

I was stunned.  Could this be a coincidence?  No, for there is no such thing for those who believe in God.  Oh, how my heart swelled again!  How weak and fickle I am, but Jesus is so good to his little ones.  I felt His love in that moment and knew that my Gabriel would be ok.

I continued unloading my groceries, and I smiled at Gabriel the clerk.

When I got home, these greeted me:

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While I was away, someone had anonymously sent me these beautiful flowers with a quotation from the Bible which reads,

“Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age, alleluia.”

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3rd Most Popular Post of 2019: 10 Things I Wish I Knew

Today I offer you my 3rd most popular post of 2019:

10 Thing I Wish I Knew 8 Years Ago

Homeschooling: Hard, But Rewarding

Now I’ve been homeschooling for about 8 years, and this has been the hardest job I’ve ever had.  It’s certainly harder than when I taught sophomores at a high school.  Or the time I shelved books in a library.  Or the time I cleaned toilets at a state park.  Or, well, you get the idea.

And I hate to break it to those of you just beginning, but it does get harder.  For example, eight years ago, I only had a kindergartner.  Now I’ve got a 7th-grader, two 5th-graders, a 3rd-grader, and a 1st-grader.  (Not to mention a 3-year-old and a tornado-wrecking-toddler.)  But the good news is, it’s all worth it.

The following is a list of things that I’ve found helpful to remember over these last 8 years.

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10 Things I Wish I Knew 8 Years Ago

  1.  Get up before the children do.

Yep, you just need to do it.  You’d never stroll into your old job at the office without being ready for it.  I mean, praying, showering, putting on “real” clothes…  If you can do this, your day is set.

Now that said, there are seasons when this is not possible.  For example, the three-month-old baby screamed all night and Susie puked and Timmy wet the bed.

But just because I think this one is really important, I’ll give you Jennifer Fulwiler’s thoughts too:

“It’s not always possible, but if you can make a habit of getting up an hour before everyone else in the house, it will change your life. (I say this as the biggest non-morning-person in the universe. There are vampires who enjoy watching the sun rise more than I do.)”**

**Click HERE for Fulwiler’s complete list of things she’s learned while parenting.  She’s hilarious.

  1.  It is a bad idea to compare yourself to others.

I’ll repeat that: it’s a bad idea to compare yourself to others.

For example, I will never be a crafty mother.  I detest finger-painting, gingerbread-house-making, and sticker charts.  If my children can’t do the project on their own, forget about it.  Now I know some of you are very talented in these artistic areas.  This is a good thing, and I’m genuinely glad for your family.  I’ve decided not to worry about my creative disabilities, however, and it’s freeing.

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This is the extent of my “craftiness.”  The children may draw whatever they want.  Then they can hang it on the Art Wall themselves.  My Art Wall, which adorns a hallway, consists of a white board with a few clothespins stuck on it.

But it goes beyond not worrying about my lack of creativity.  I’ve also got to not worry about all that awesome curricula that other mothers are using and I’m not.  So what if my kids don’t have a Book of Centuries?  Or don’t have official Science books?  I’m ok with that because we’re working on things that we’ve decided are important for our family.

All families will look differently.  And that’s a good thing.

  1.  Quit worrying about your children not learning anything.

This one’s absurd.  Anyone remember Andrew Pudewa relating his experience in a “public prison,” by which he meant a public school?  How he would get so bored, he’d see how hard he could bite himself?  Then, when he’d get sick of that, he’d see how long he could hold his breath.  (I actually remember doing that one in public school too.)  The point is, our children are learning.  And in the very least, they shouldn’t have to resort to arm-biting and breath-holding.

  1.  Make a “Rule” or schedule for your days and stick to it.

This is really freeing–almost as much as not comparing yourself to others.   With my Rule, my priorities are set, and I know what I’m supposed to be doing at all times during the day.  If you’re looking for more about this, I recommend Holly Pierlot’s A Mother’s Rule of Life.  She’s really intense, but insightful.

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This is my 3rd or 4th copy, as I keep giving them away.
  1.  Just because one child seems born to learn quickly, don’t think they all will.

I had a child who sat down and read the Old Testament for fun, at the age of five.  I can tell you, it was a piece of cake teaching that one to read.  But with the next two children I spent at least three years in purgatory, just sitting on my couch, praying to Jesus to give me the patience to not rip the book out of the kid’s hand, chuck it across the room, and storm out myself.  (May it please God to not test my patience any further with slow readers, for I may not make it.  Amen.)

  1.  Outsource those terrible subjects you hate.

I hate math.  And guess what?  When I attempt to teach math, my loathing for the subject comes out, no matter how hard I try to hide it.  But my husband loves math, so a few years ago, he took it over.  (I will love him forever for it.)

In our household, math starts at 7am.  Yep, before breakfast, and it still goes well.  If there’s a subject you despise, think creatively.  Maybe switch a subject with another homeschool mom?  Or, budget for and hire a tutor?  Enroll in an online program?  (We’ve got one enrolled online this year too, and it’s awesome.)

  1.  Eat breakfast like a prison camp.

In our house, everybody eats breakfast at the same time; everybody eats the same thing; everybody cleans up their spot together.  We eat peanut butter toast every single morning.  We’ve done it for years.  There’s never any complaining about it because they know what to expect.

And I never have to worry about meal planning for breakfast.  On the weekend, there is a reprieve.  Saturday is oatmeal.  Sunday is cold cereal, which is their favorite.  You can imagine their excitement when my parents give them orange juice, as a present.

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I keep the bread and PB right above the toaster, as it’s The Eldest’s job to make all 13 slices of toast every morning.
  1.  Learn to say no.

Do you want to destroy your family life?  Then frantically run from event to event, never eat a meal together, and never pray together.

As a culture, we are far too busy.  Little Sally does not need to participate in gymnastics and tee-ball while playing on the soccer team and taking violin, piano, and voice lessons.  This is ridiculous.  Pick one.

And let your children experience a childhood of climbing trees with their siblings, reading a book on the grass, eating dinner as a family, and receiving Dad’s blessing at night.  This other Chosen Busyness is Satan’s great attempt to divide families.  And it’s crept right into Catholic and home schools.

  1.  Are you going crazy?

From time to time, I have to put myself in time-out.  I mostly prefer to hide in the laundry room with a glass of wine, but there isn’t anywhere comfortable to sit, so sometimes I sneak out to the garage and grab lawn chair.  What do you do to get away?

Furthermore, I recommend instituting quiet time every afternoon.  And if possible, take a few Saturdays off a month, and go on a monthly date with your husband.  Life is too short to do otherwise.

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This oughtta look classy in the cupholder of my camping chair in the garage.
  1.  Lastly, and most importantly, begin each day with prayer.

This goes along with #1.  Get up before the children and pray.  You need it.  In fact, not only should you have a regular time for prayer every day, but you should also consider a weekly Adoration hour.  Shoot, it might be the only quiet hour of your week.  (It is of mine.)  So, get after it!

Jesus should always come first.

 

If you’ve found this post helpful, send it to someone else who might appreciate it.

Anyone have other thoughts or ideas?  I’d enjoy hearing about them.

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4th Most Popular Post of 2019: Veiling

Today I offer my 4th Most Popular Post of 2019.  It’s on veiling, which I find interesting.  I mean, that so many of you were curious enough to read it, and that some of you must have passed it along to others, as the stats show.

Well, here it is.

Why Do I Veil?

The other day I came across a great article at Catholic Sistas, written by Antonia Goddard, called 5 Reasons to Wear a Veil (and Five Not to…).  For any of you who might be curious about veiling, click over there and check it out.  She’s spot on.  (I especially appreciate #4.)

My own experience with veiling began around 15 years ago.  I was living in St. Paul, MN, and was attending St. Agnes Catholic Church.  At the time I had never even seen a veil.  And there I was, attending both the Novus Ordo and the Traditional Latin Mass, and there were women veiling all around me.  It was beautiful, and my heart wondered about it, and I was drawn to this tradition.  Naturally, I began to pray about it.

Two years later, I ended up in Bismarck, ND, where such things as veiling and the TLM were sighted as often as the Lock Ness Monster.  They just didn’t exist.  And my heart ached for them both.

Should I Start Veiling?

I spoke to my spiritual director about veiling, but he didn’t know anything about it, being from the area and likely never having attended a TLM.  But he suggested that I continue to ask Jesus for guidance in wearing it, and that I just begin to veil at home during prayer and also at Adoration.

Of course I immediately did this, and it was great for me, because I became used to having something on my head, but more importantly, it gave me time to learn about it, for I wanted to be sure I was desiring it for the right reasons.  (Again, see Antonia’s article HERE.)

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The 3-year-old modeling her older sister’s veil.

Over those early years, my heart did grow in love for Jesus and with the desire to veil at Mass, whether it be the TLM or the Novus Ordo, for wasn’t Jesus present at both?  But I was scared too.  What would people say about me?  Would they think I was being prideful?  Or holier-than-thou?

Eventually those fears, however, melted away, for how could I presume to know what other people were thinking?  Why should I attribute negative thoughts to them?  I know I certainly try to curb my own negative thoughts.  It’s just best to not live in other people’s minds.

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The 6-year-old modeling one of my veils.

So after a few more years of praying, I brought the matter before my spiritual director again, and he agreed.  It was time–my heart was in the right place.  And so I began veiling at Mass–at both Masses, the Novus Ordo and the TLM.

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The Eldest modeling my black veil.

And What Do People Say?

Surprisingly, I’ve never received a negative comment about veiling.

I do think, however, I have some family members who think I’m crazy, but they never say anything, and I don’t ask!  Probably other people think I’m crazy too, but most people are just used to seeing me this way.

I have, however, received positive comments from other women, both young and old.  Generally the older women touch my arm after Mass and look into my eyes and say, “I, too, used to veil.  Thank you for veiling.”  And the younger women say, “I’ve always wanted to veil.  Where did you get it?”

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Look closely to the right, in the first pew.  There we are, veiling.  I’m holding the wriggling baby, but the veil is staying put!

Practical Matters

Where do I buy my veils?

I buy them online at Veils by Lily.  I prefer these veils because for a few additional dollars, they will sew a clip or a comb into the veil.  (You can do this yourself; it’s just that I detest sewing.)  And these clips are absolutely necessary for any mother with children.  This way my babies can grab all they want, and it’s not coming off.  It’s also nice to not worry about the veil slipping.

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See the clips?  Genius.

It’s better to buy locally, though, if you can.  For those of you living in the Bismarck/Mandan area, Mayo Pharmacy on 4th street now carries beautiful veils.  You can walk right downtown and buy one.

And how about colors and styles of veils?

Over the years I’ve noticed that married women tend to wear darker veils, mostly black, and unmarried girls tend to wear lighter colors, mostly white.  While there is no rule about it, I kind of like this distinction.  White is a great symbol of virginal purity and black has always been a reminder of our death to this world.

But really, you can wear whatever color or style you want.  Go with what’s comfortable.  I’ve seen it all.

Any questions?  Be sure to ask!

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Top 2 Books of 2019: Marshall & Schneider

Over the next few days, I’m going to offer some of my most popular posts from 2019.  Today I’m featuring Dr. Taylor Marshall’s Infiltration and Bishop Athanasius Schneider’s Christus Vincit.

Have you read them yet?  If not, I promise it’s worth it.

Without further ado…

Infiltration by Dr. Taylor Marshall

I’ve been wondering, just how in the world did we get such a character as Ex-Cardinal McCarrick serving in the Church anyway?

Furthermore, why do we have a pope that refuses to speak clearly and won’t defend traditional orthodoxy?

For that matter, why do most Catholics not even believe in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist?

About a year ago, my husband and I stumbled upon Dr. Taylor Marshall’s YouTube videos, wherein he and Timothy Gordon began exploring these questions.  It was refreshing.  They were asking all the same questions that my husband and I were asking.  The only difference was, they actually did some research.  In fact, Dr. Taylor Marshall did a lot of research and has recently released a book titled Infiltration.

Infiltration*

I just finished reading this book, and I think you should all buy a copy and get at it.  Click HERE for it on Amazon.

I will warn you, however.  Marshall doesn’t spare the likes of Pope John Paul II or Pope Benedict the XVI.  This might upset those of you inclined to think that neither of these men made any mistakes.

Nevertheless…

Top Ten Reasons to Read Infiltration:

  1. This book is essentially a history book.  Now I went to public school, and I didn’t learn a thing in my history classes, so I really appreciated Dr. Marshall outlining the last 150 years of popes, freemasons, the Second Vatican Council, and the Church.
  2. Ever heard of Bella Dodd?  She was a former communist agent who worked tirelessly to to infiltrate the Catholic Church in the 1930s, and boy did she succeed.  She testified before the U.S. House Committee in 1953 that in the U.S. alone, they put   1100 of their men into the priesthood in order to destroy the Church from within.  Four of those men eventually became cardinals.
  3. Incidentally, she later renounced her Communism and was received back into the Church by none other than Archbishop Fulton Sheen.  That whole chapter is unbelievable.
  4. Anyone ever wonder about those individuals responsible for creating the Novus Ordo?  Marshall does great work showing us what these guys were up to.  Annibale Bugnini…not a great man.
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien will always be dear to my heart.  Now I’ve heard of his response to the Novus Ordo before, but any book that highlights it, is a must-read.  For those of you unfamiliar with what Tolkien thought of the New Mass, be sure to read Chapter 23.
  6. Tolkien wasn’t the only famous person not enthusiastic about the changes after the Second Vatican Council.  Novelist Agatha Christie, who wasn’t even a Catholic, lamented the destruction of the liturgy for cultural and literary reasons.  And Pope Paul VI granted an indult to the Cardinal of Westminster because of her.
  7. Most people ignorantly brush off Archbishop Lefebvre and the Society of Saint Pius X as a bunch of crazy whackos.  In reality, the real situation is much more complicated.  Marshall does a great job of detailing this movement.
  8. Have you ever wondered about Our Lady of La Salette?  Or the third secret of Fatima?  Mary seems to play an important role in these last 100 years of history.
  9. And how about Communion in the hand?  Where did that come from?  Did you know that the Protestant reformers–Luther, Calvin, Cranmer–all insisted that people receive in the hand because it signified that the Eucharist was just ordinary bread?  Which is why, as Catholics, we say Lex orandi, lex credendi.  Our actions and postures matter.
  10. Finally, you need to buy your husband a Father’s Day gift anyway.  So click HERE for it on Amazon.
*Notice who wrote the forward??  Yep, none other than Bishop Athanasius Schneider.  Now there’s a man!

Best Book of 2019:

Bishop Athanasius Schneider’s Christus Vinvit

Angelico Press recently released Bishop Athanasius Schneider’s book Christus Vincit: Christ’s Triumph Over the Darkness of the Age this last September.  Click HERE for it on Amazon.

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I am so thankful to God and to Bishop Schneider for this clear and moving account of the affairs in the Church.  Seriously, this is the best book I’ve read in a long while.

I came across this book in an interesting manner.  Of course I had heard about it’s coming release this last summer, but what with Paul’s medical problems, I couldn’t pay much attention.  Then a friend, who knew how our family suffered by lack of a regular Traditional Latin Mass in our diocese, read this book and found much hope in it.  She mailed me a copy by way of a gift.

The book, however, sat on my shelf for about a month, for the simple reason that I was trying to force feed myself Cardinal Sarah’s book.  (Not worth it, by the way.)

Then one night I couldn’t sleep.  As this happens to me a lot, I’ve tried to just accept it and be grateful for it.

I have a plan, though, for when it does strike:

  1. If I’ve been lying there for about 15 minutes or so, I force myself to get up.  (I hate getting out of bed.)
  2. Then I walk to the living room and kneel before our icon of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in complete darkness and cold.
  3. I tell Jesus what’s on my mind, and He looks at me.
  4. Then I pray a Divine Mercy Chaplet for all my intentions.

Normally I can then walk back to bed and fall fast asleep.  But not this night.  No, I was wide awake.  So I sat on the couch in complete darkness and watched the stars out of the window.  It was quiet and beautiful.

Then I remembered Schneider’s book, sitting on my bookshelf.  I picked it up, out of curiosity, and couldn’t believe the story I was soon reading.  The story of a family surviving cruel and inhumane gulag camps in the Ural Mountains.  The story of persecution and faith in communist Russia.  The story of a young man experiencing the liberal craziness of 1970s Germany.  The story of a bishop shepherding his flock in the midst of raving wolves.

I’m telling you, it’s gripping.  It’s clear.  It’s prophetic.

It’s the best book I’ve read all year.