Veni, Thanksgiving-us

 

some thanksgiving humor via catholicreview.org

 

Here is a prayer I created in honor of Thanksgiving that I would like to share.

It’s a play on the beautiful “Golden Sequence” otherwise known as Veni, Sancte Spiritus that is prayed during the Mass at Pentecost.

A little humor, a little thanks, a little love.  I hope you enjoy!

Veni, Thanksgiving-us

Come, Thanksgiving, come!
And from this busy roasting oven

Spread a feast that’s purely divine!
Come, Turkey of the great outdoors!

Come, pumpkin pie; Yes, Please more!

Come, plentiful laughter and good wine!
You, bring comfort foods best;

You, the fall’s most welcome guest;

Sweet refreshments, unending flow;
In our cooking and baked treats

Show the love amidst this fleet

And gratefulness to those we know.
O this blessed Family of mine,

Where the Catholic sun does shine,

Never lose our sense of humor

That would be worse than a cancerous tumor!
In these times of struggle and fear

We send to The Lord our worries and tears

Pull us out of this thick dense fog
Give us the strength to fulfill our duty

And change this world into a place of beauty

Because it is there that we find God!
Faithful to Christ who we adore!

Hopeful for all who believe no more

Charitable to those who need and depend.
Give us thanksgiving’s sure reward

Of tight clothes and plenty poured

Give us blessings that never end.
Amen.

Live, Learn, Let It Go, Laugh, Love

Last week I had an epiphany, or rather, a dunce dawning moment from an act of confession that re-awakened my “penance” from my first confession in over 25 years, which I explained in detail in my first blog post

To recap, I believed that my penance was measly compared to all of the wrong I had done.   

I did not deserve to get off so easily, but what I didn’t realize then was that it was not really a penance, it was supposed to be more like homework. 

I was told to tear up my list of sins that I had carried with me and to pray for all the good I had done in the past, which was to illustrate God’s mercy and to prevent myself from looking back and dwelling on my previous life, so I could heal, move forward, and grow in my faith.  

Presumably, this was meant for application to future cases of regret and remorse, as well, but I was too blinded by self-pity to put it to use.

The priest could hear in my voice and my cries that I had punished myself enough to justify my redemption.  I felt Jesus lift up and carry my pain, remorse, and suffering, so I would no longer assume be burdened with it.

But, my pigheadedness prevailed, and since then, I’ve tormented myself with guilt.  A guilt that I knew had been washed away by God, but I hadn’t let go of personally.  

Akin to a jackhammer, I kept breaking, digging, pounding, and grinding my way further and further down into that deep dark pit of shame that God had already pulled me out of, but with bits of momentary reminders from friends and family that I needed to stop being so hard on myself because God doesn’t keep tabs on my past mistakes.  

His prize is that I came back, and to stay there.

These little “pep-talk post-it notes” helped bring me back up a notch or two from my self-loathing abyss, but it would not sustain me forever.

The diatribe of my journey through IVF and that which followed on my blog, I thought, was a way to prune away at the rotten parts of my life, so I could make room for the good fruit to grow, but in reality, I pruned away less, in which the fruit kept building up on my branches, and I reached a point where I couldn’t bear the weight any longer.

That point was when Matt and I found out our two children did not survive our most recent IVF transfer.  

My branch had split in two.  I was broken.  And I was taking it out on my family, particularly, with Matt.

I needed mending, so I did what any normal person does when they need “a fixin’” and went to confession.

One defining distinction between now and my first confession in over 25 years is my physicality.  I no longer kneel behind a screen, rather, I sit in front of the priest.  

This may seem like a minor change, but moving just a few simple feet created an alternative universe in the confessional.  A universe of divine conversation through human interaction instead of an agonizing and penitential divulging of sins.

With this confession, I received a visual and physical compassion that elevated the spiritual element to a place of greater accessibility.

The priest hugged me, consoled me, and told me that our sufferings are redemptive.  Jesus died on the cross, so he could restore us through our pains and sorrows, but first, I needed to give them up to him and stop holding on.
And that was when it finally occurred to me, really and truly sunk in, hit me like a jolt of caffeine, that I need to let it go.  Leave the past behind.  Stop beating myself up over my mistakes, learn from them, forgive myself, and move the heck on!  

Because if I can’t forgive myself as God has forgiven me, then I can’t be a good Catholic, a good wife, and a good mother.  I’ll remain stagnant and unsustaining, missing new opportunities and more ways to strengthen my faith.

So I’ve decided, NO MORE of this!  

No more tirades about the immorality of IVF because it seems to be a way of punishing myself.

No more self-depreciation because it’s destructive, not restorative.

No more speaking of my past sins and past regrets.

Instead, to cure my broken-heart, to remedy my troubled soul, to experience the ultimate catholicon, I will:

Live Learn Let It Go Laugh Love

Live for God by praying, as often as I can, by seeking His will and not my own, by working on my vocation as a wife and mother to the best of my abilities, and by showing thanksgiving for all of the graces and blessings He has given me.  

Learn from my mishaps by admitting my faults, taking responsibility, and changing my bad habits into good ones.  

Let it go through God’s redeeming grace by practicing confession, receiving the Body and Blood of Christ through the Eucharist (which I will finally be able to consume again this coming Saturday when Matt and I convalidate our marriage!) and to “lift up my heart” more often, consuming my thoughts on heavenly things rather than my troubles here on earth.

Laugh about my fumbles and stumbles and the “What was I thinking?” moments such as forcibly trying to get two-year old twins to use the potty for 3 straight days when they clearly weren’t ready or willing.  I’ll also continue writing, but without disintegrating myself, instead, I’ll show the good, the fun, the ugly turned to lovely, and the humorous components of the sense being knocked back into me.

Love.  Love myself, love my husband through a sacrificial love called charity, love my children through nurturing, love everyone else, and love Jesus Christ.

Godspeed,

Kara

is ivf a modern-day form of slavery?

Title:  'Hagar and Ismael Seeking Water' Painter: Hermine F Schäfer Year:  1964
Title: ‘Hagar and Ismael Seeking Water’
Painter: Hermine F Schäfer
Year: 1964

A year ago, a women’s bible study would have never been a blip on my radar screen.  I considered it a laughable task that “religious freaks” did in their spare time. Today, I’m a proud member of that bizarre group of people who study the bible.  It’s part of the very essence I’ve been missing in my life.  Learning about the Word of God gives sustenance to my embodiment like a husband does to his wife or as a mother’s milk nourishes her newborn child or like peanut butter is the perfect accompaniment to chocolate.

Not only am I absorbing the valuable works of the Bible, I’m meeting Catholic women who are going through struggles, sorrows, love, happiness, and frustrations that are not similar in structure to my own, but are of the same spiritual and emotional substance.  And, predominantly, these women hold the same fiery and uncontrollable fervor for Jesus Christ as I do.

I feel so much warmth and comfort in attending because I’m not alone walking down the path to strengthen my faith and truly grasp the Catholic ideology.

We are currently delving into the women of the bible, and this past week, we reviewed Sarah and Hagar.  I couldn’t help but notice how both of their stories mirror my journey through IVF, and in seeing this correlation it brought to mind, am I a modern-day Sarah?  Not only that, but in learning about Hagar and her son, Ishmael, I have to ask, is IVF a modern-day form of slavery?

To further understand this, let me briefly take you through Sarah, Hagar and Ishmael’s biblical history.

Sarah, Hagar and Ishmael

Sarah was the wife of Abraham in which she remained barren for most of her long life.  God promised her that he would give her a child, but because she was well into her “Golden Years” she decided to take matters into her own hands, and asked Abraham to sleep with her trusted maidservant, Hagar.  When Sarah made this demand, she fractured her alliance with God and sacramental promise to her husband.

Back in ancient times, using a slave as a surrogate mother was common practice for wives of masters who could not bear children. Hagar, as a maid with no rights, had to accept this situation willingly.  Although, upon realizing her pregnancy, pride took over and she became boastful in front of Sarah, which made Sarah angry and jealous.  Soon, Hagar bore a son to Abraham named Ishmael.

Despite Sarah’s impatience and self-reliance, God kept his promise and gave her a child, Isaac, when she was 90 years old.  

Over the years, Sarah’s envy of Hagar increased, which led her to banish Hagar and Ishmael from their home and into the desert.  When Ishmael was dying of thirst, God sent an angel to save him and Hagar from death.

Sarah and Kara

As Sarah’s desperation for a child increased in her late age, her reliance on God decreased, therefore, she acted on her own and brought her husband in on the misdeed of infidelity to obtain what she wanted (eerily similar to Eve convincing Adam to eat the forbidden fruit resulting in their disloyalty to God).

In a sense, I acted in the same way.  We live in an instant gratification, Veruca Salt world, and  waiting for God to fulfill my longing for a child was not my intention, then.  I saw my fertility incompleteness as something that I could fix, and if I did nothing, then nothing would be what I received, so I convinced my husband that we should create a child through IVF. This led us to proceed beyond the bounds of our marriage resulting in both of us committing adultery to our conjugal bond.

Comparably to Sarah, regardless of my “do-it-yourself” moment, God nonetheless granted me the gift of children.  Through His gift of mercy to Sarah and I, God was able to break through the barriers of our stubbornness and eventually we realized that in doing it our way, we were getting in His way to satisfy our needs.

Slavery and IVF

Going a little deeper, Hagar, slave and maid to Sarah, considered property to her master, Abraham, was involuntarily pulled into this sinful act of conceiving a child outside of marriage.  As a result, she gave birth to her son, Ishmael, who would thereby be a slave.

So how are IVF and slavery related?  Think about it.  IVF disregards the humanity of children at their embryonic stage by treating them as property, therefore, they are slaves to their owners.  

Additionally, if these children are not immediately transferred into their mother’s uterus then they become “leftover”, which entitles them to an indefinite banishment in a freezer, much like a cold desert.  

On the other hand, if their owners deem them no longer necessary, their human lives face the fate of destruction with no rights of their own, no protector, and no one asking them if they would like to continue being.   

So what do you think?  Is IVF a modern-day form of slavery?

path to more children: pregnancy test results #2

It seems I was right to be skeptic for my news is not good.  My hCG levels did not rise adequately, therefore, my children are no longer alive and my pregnancy has ended.

It’s easy to think that losing children at such an early stage of life would make the loss easier to accept, but it is not.  Not even close.  Instead, my longing to be a mother of another set of twins is…poof…gone.

I wanted so deeply to see and hear their heartbeats, feel their first flutters and kicks, hold them and love them that I actually made a deal with God.  If He granted me this pregnancy then I would strive for a natural birth and forego all medication, so I could feel the pain and agony of childbirth that women were given due to Eve’s sin at the Fall.  I hoped it would make up for my sins in the past and the pain would somehow transform into giving my children the strength to be born.

“Expect the worst and hope for the best” was a phrase my mom often told us as children and I kept repeating it over and over in my head throughout this IVF cycle and, really, any life event in the past.  I thought it would help with the distress, instead it has actually caused a stench.   The putrid stench of guilt.  Why? Because expecting the worst leaves no room for hope, and hope is “placing our trust in Christ’s promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit” (CCC 1817).

Leaving no room for hope is leaving no room for God.  I failed to put all of my trust in Him.  

This kind of trust makes me reflect on Jesus and his call for us to be more like children in our faith because they are pure, honest, and humble; unmarked by the disdain of pride, hypocrisy, and deceit.

Also, their love and complete dependence is placed in the arms of their parents.  For instance, my twins may grab an item such as sharp scissors off the counter and begin to play with them.  Knowing that they could hurt themselves with those scissors, I take them away and say “No, no.  These can hurt you.”  Of course, they start to cry because that was their “toy” and I took it, but who do they run to?  They still run to me for consolation, hugs and kisses because they know that I love them unconditionally, and they trust my actions without question (that doesn’t mean they won’t question me in the future).

We should place that same love and trustworthiness in God, our Father, especially during times of suffering and loss.  We may not know the answer to His purpose for our pain, but we must have faith that He knows what is best for us.

I pray that I rely less on my own strength for it is infinitely weak compared to God’s grace, and rely more on Christ’s promises.

Finally, we are still deciding on when exactly to begin our final IVF trial to release our last child from artificial limbo.  I will keep you updated!

I sincerely thank you for all of your prayers.  I truly felt them.  Please keep us in your hearts and minds during our next cycle.