Yesterday was a roller coaster ride, but in the midst of the ups and downs I received a few “shout outs” from God.
After I revealed my initial blog post ivf: how i conceived it is wrong (even though I received the blessing of children) on Facebook, I was blown away by the response. The praise, the compassion and the support was overwhelming and it was the greatest “sign” (and highly unexpected) that God could give me to continue my story and the revealing of truths on this blog. This “sign” was something I prayed for incessantly over the past several weeks because I was playing tug-o-war with God due to this mission that He had given me. I knew that He was telling me to share my story with others, so people could relate to it and not feel alone, so people could learn from it and not make the same mistakes, so people could see the truth of the Catholic Church, IVF, the development of human life and realize their previous inclinations were misconstrued or false. I knew that He wanted me to be transparent for all of those reasons, but I felt that I needed the approval of others. This is where I went wrong, and it’s an area in my faith that I need to constantly work on.
Some people very close to me, whose opinions I’ve always valued and cherished, did not want me to do this, and even believed my newfound devotion to the Catholic Church was a bit crazed. It left me dumbfounded, hurt, and torn to shreds. I was completely bewildered, so I began to pray about it. I asked God for a sign, and yesterday was it!
The sentiments I received wasn’t the only sign I was shown. While walking my kids to the park yesterday, on the side of the road, this cross of perfectly, but randomly laid out sticks caught my eye.
When I witnessed the cross, I felt certain it was God assuring me to proceed on, to progress my faith through this story, and to stop trying to find my worth in other people.
Just as a Catholic Mass indicates the Holy Eucharist is a Mystery of Faith in which the bread is consecrated into the body of Christ and the wine becomes the blood of Christ, I will describe instances where I encounter similar mysteries. They can be answered prayers, little miracles, moments of spiritual clarity such as when God speaks out, or anything that seems a bit mystical.
I would also like to invite you to send me your own Mysteries of Faith. Please email me at email@example.com, so I may read them and post them on my website.
Not that long ago, my sister and I went to visit my grandmother at her Memory Care lodge. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Memory Care, it’s a residence in which nurses and doctors (mainly nurses) take care of patients specifically with Alzheimer’s disease. My grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s many years ago, and, while in my presence, has not recognized us grandchildren in person for roughly 1-2 years.
She recalls very distant events of the past such as her wedding, her daughter’s death, both of her sons’ weddings, many vacations she took with my grandfather, and she knows my father (her eldest son) passed away, which occurred 11 years ago. She also knows who we are when looking at childhood photos, but not while speaking to us in person. She used to repeatedly ask us how our other brother siblings were doing, but she stopped doing that within the past year or so.
My grandfather passed away this February, but before his death, while he was sick, she would only realize his detriment when she would look at him. Once she turned away she would forget and go back to repeating her jokes or ask us questions about our life. On the day of his funeral, she fell and broke her hip, and since then, she has not been able to walk. Now, according to her doctors, she does not have much time left, which led to our recent visit with her.
When we arrived at the lodge, and while were waiting for the nurse to bring her down to us, I said a silent prayer asking God for several things for the day, but among them was that my grandmother would have a moment of lucidity. Moments later, while conversing with her, she addressed me by name. I could not believe it because she hadn’t done that in several years. I immediately said, “Oh my goodness Meme, you said my name!” Soon after she called my sister by her name, as well. I knew God had a hand in it and was so grateful that he answered my small, measly little prayer. It wasn’t a great miraculous event, but it was something quite special to me.
I am back from a family vacation in Montana to visit relatives and I am sorry about the lull in my writing. During our stay, I was able to get in a lot of running, which is one of my favorite ways to exercise and has been since I was a child. If anyone knows me, they know that I’m a runner. Before kids, I would run everyday. After kids, I am not able to get out for a run as often, and even less in this blazing Texas heat. With the cooler weather in Montana and because I was able to have someone stay home with the kids during their nap, I ran everyday during our stay there.
One of the main reasons I love running is because it gives me time to think without distractions. Even when I’m pushing our double stroller filled with my restless twins, I’m able to concentrate on a deeper level than just sitting in silence. I come up with some of my best ideas when I’m out on a run, whether it’s a recipe, a decoration, a birthday gift, a solution to a problem, a name for my unborn son, a blog. This is most likely the case because my heart rate increases therefore pumping more oxygen to my brain, which results in a greater clarity of thinking versus being idle.
During this past lent I was also going through Confirmation, so instead of giving up something, I decided to pray the rosary everyday. I wanted to become closer with God through prayer, and the rosary is such a beautiful and methodical way to do it. I thought, heck, why don’t I kill two birds with one stone (something I love doing) and pray the rosary while I run. I’m immersed in nature, I have no distractions, and I am able to think more clearly. This is the perfect time to fit in some prayer, and maybe I’ll even contemplate the prayer more than kneeling or sitting, so I began to run with the rosary.
No, I don’t hold a rosary while I’m running. I listen to a rosary Podcast during my run and pray along with it. In doing this I am able to fit more prayer time into my day. Because of all of this oxygen pumping throughout my body and into my brain I obtain a keen awareness of the rosary and the people or subject I dedicate it to. In a sense, my entire body is praying and encountering the rosary rather than just my soul and mind. I am breathing in the pains and troubles of those I am praying for, experiencing a blip of discomfort from the constraints of the run and the fatigue in my muscles. Sweat pours out of me. Finally, I release the strains, little by little, through each exhale, and give them up to God.
Now, I’m not perfect about staying focused directly on the rosary, but I never waver in my direction toward God. For example, if I dedicate each decade of a rosary to a different family member or friend who are atheists or have a misconstrued view of Catholicism, I will subconsciously listen and say the prayer by mouth while also thinking of ways in which I can cleverly and warmly touch the hearts and minds of these people. In doing that, I may veer off my thoughts, but I am still focused on the person or persons that I am praying for. I also contemplate ways in which I may converse with them about God’s existence or how to defend the views of the Catholic Church or areas where I may be helpful to them in a difficult situation. All of those thoughts are not of the rosary, but the rosary caused me to think of them, and, in the end, ways in which I can bring them closer to God.
The rosary only takes up about 15 minutes of my run, which I do at the beginning. For the remaining time I listen to either the Catholic Channel on SiriusXm radio (I am a huge fan of Seize the Day and the Jennifer Fulwiler Show) or a podcast pertaining to Catholic Theology such as teachings by Taylor Marshall from the New Saint Thomas Institute. I am not technically praying for the remainder of my run, but I’m filling my mind with God through the Daily Mass Readings, hilarious everyday life occurrences from large Catholic families, conversion stories, current events and how they affect our values, and, especially, anything focusing on saving the lives of our unborn children.
What is the reasoning behind this? To motivate you to exercise this way. In a way, you pray yourself into shape! I had no idea anyone else was doing this until a month ago when I heard Colleen Scariano’s story on the Catholic Channel. She started running with the rosary to comfort herself through pain and sorrow, then she founded SoulCore, which does very much the same thing, except instead of running, the exercises are focused on the core muscles, although, the essence still remains the same, pray with your whole body. I love this quote by St. Ignatius on the SoulCore website (soulcore.com), “Remember that bodily exercise, when it is well ordered, as I have said, is also prayer by means of which you can please God our Lord.”
I challenge you to begin this today. Start praying the rosary on walks, then turn it into runs. Or do it while on the elliptical, StairMaster, or treadmill at the gym. I use the Laudate app (free) on my iphone to listen to the rosary. It has Rosary podcasts that change to the correct mystery each day (Joyful, Sorrowful, Glorious, and Luminous). Just go to Rosary and Chaplet > Mysteries only and Podcasts > Podcast with David MacDonald (I use this one because of the music in the background. For me, it provides a greater sense of spirituality.)
I hope you enjoy this method of exercise and prayer as much as I do!
Today I attended my very first Planned Parenthood Prayer Vigil. It is a group of Pro-Life advocates who stand out in the blazing hot Texas sun every Saturday from 9am-1pm (I was there from 10:40am-1pm) in front of the Plano Planned Parenthood (810 N Central Expy Suite 116, Plano, TX 75074), which is located right next to the intersection of I-75 and the George Bush Turnpike and we pray and hold different signs that all have the same message that is to end abortion.
The number of people who showed up (I believe the count was 40 people today) was impressive.
At a little before noon, there was an accident on the freeway (we said a silent prayer for those involved), which backed up traffic and therefore forced people on the feeder road right near where we were standing. I couldn’t believe the reactions (good and bad) that we received. The bad were few and far between, but they were less difficult to forget. One guy yelled at our roadside recruiter, Steven, and gave him the finger. Another guy yelled out “Don’t knock it until you try it.” That was a bit crass. Lastly, a group of women yelled out the window “We love Planned Parenthood!” All this tells me is God is working through them and the hurt that they are going through. They didn’t have to say anything to us, but they did.
The good was much more impressionable and greatly outnumbered the bad. Many people honked their horns, holding a thumbs up, smiling, dancing, and telling us thank you for doing what we were doing. We even had a few semi-trucks who could see us from the freeway that gave us friendly loud honks. Steven was even able to get several emails from drivers who wanted to join us during our next vigil. It was truly awesome.
As for the Planned Parenthood clinic itself, there was a security guard out front to keep things under control because everyone knows prayers and signs are severely lethal. I only saw 4 cars drive up during the entire time I was there. We held up our signs higher for them when they got out of their cars. I’m not sure if it worked, but I do know that no one was in there for more than 10 minutes. The manager stepped outside for a few minutes and another woman who looked pregnant lingered around in front of the building for some time while on her phone. She didn’t look too interested in us, but why wasn’t she inside? Who knows, but I pray that we gave her, even the tiniest of inclination, to alter her path and choose life.
I prayed that we would have a strong influence, and today I know we did. It was blatantly obvious with the reactions that we received. I could actually feel and witness the power of prayer when I was standing there. This will be the first of many times that I’ll be at this Prayer Vigil, so come and join me if you’d like!