Who We Are:

We are women, we are wives, we are mothers, and we are open to life. This is our way of standing by one another, learning from each other, and leaning on Christ our Savior.

Mar 28, 2012

Notes on NFP, Note 1

I'm always amused to find myself in the middle of NFP "moments" more often than not these days. I'm not sure if it's because my ears are more in tune now that I somehow fell into managing an NFP blog (which I still don't know how happened ; ), or because my life and friends are in our child bearing season, or if it is God gently nudging them my way...I'm sure all of the above. At any rate...I've been mulling over these conversations and circumstances for a time and I thought I would share them with you, as they seemed to stick with me.

At a Funeral...
"Thank you Grandpa for being open to life, because my dad was number 10." that excerpt came from my sister Anna who wrote a tribute to my grandfather, at his funeral. He was 97. Present at the funeral were all 13 children about 60 out of 65 grandchildren and then many great grandchildren (64 I believe).

That line in her testimony rang in my ears. My gosh, if he stopped at 5 or 8 my dad would not be here! I would not be here, nore would my children and eventually their children. Half the people in this picture would not even exist. Just the magnitude of one life and the generations of people that come from one person! This is one couple being open as to what God wanted out of their life.
                                               (This was taken at their 65th wedding anniversary)

My grandparents house was small,a ranch house with 3 bedrooms and 1 1/2 baths. They never owned many material possessions, and all their children had to earn their own way into college. They lived a simple life that was full to the brim! And he died surrounded by multitudes of people who loved him.

Hanging Family Pictures...
I come from a long line of fertility, you might say, "Fertile Myrtyls". I'm from a family of 11, my dad is one of 13, my mom is one of 10, her mom is one of 13, and so on....
I wanted to find some pictures of my grandparents to hang in my house and tell their stories to my children. I found these pictures from my mom's side of the family. They are of my great grandmother Neoma and grandmother Margaret.

     (my great grandmother is fifth from right, Neoma. She went on to have 13 children,   pictured below, and 97 grandchildren. Below, are 12 of her 13 and my grandma is 6th in line from right.)
(my grandparents on my mom's side...did they know here that they would go on to have 10 children?)

I stared at these pictures for a long time. Take one or two or five children out of that line up and there are dozens and hundreds of lives that would not have come into existence.

What I'm not saying, is that in order to be open to life, you must have at least 10 children.  Being open to life should never mean a certain number, but it does mean being open to what God wants, as many as HE wants and not so much what you want.

There is this one passage of scripture that I always go back to..."And he sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the multitude putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums And a poor widow came, and put in two copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him, and said to them, "Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For they all contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, her whole livelihood." Mark 12:41-44

and especially this one:
"For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it." Mark 3:35

Good grief, those are some hard sayings, but I have watched my own parents and grandparents live by those passages. They gave their whole livelihood in being open to life. I think at the heart of nfp, this is what God is asking of us. The sizes and shapes and spaces between each family will look different, but deep inside it is meant to look the same. That whatever our family size ends up being, even if God sends us infertility, it is not about a specific number, rather, it is about giving and what being open to life is doing to our souls. It is ultimately a surrender of our will to his, our LIFE for others. 

 I think of livelihood as those things that you enjoy: eating food when it's hot, getting a full night's sleep without being awaken or sleeping in, traveling abroad, getting away for a weekend, concerts, going places alone, I could think of a million. All these things are good things in themselves and by no means, bad, but good in healthy doses I guess, but we willingly give them up at times for the sake of someone else, a little soul.

As I looked at these pictures, I couldn't help, but think of the sacrifice my great grandparents, grandparents, and parents went through by being obedient to God. Because of their yes, their trust, and their very lives, I am here. I believe what my great grandparents and grandparents and parents did was RADICAL. It is so completely counter-cultural and against the norm, and it cost them everything, but I believe it's right because it is life focused on eternity.

Jillian Michael's Workout DVD: "In order to change, you have to get uncomfortable."
Her quote holds a great deal of truth. It applies physically and spiritually. How ready are we to put our bodies through intense physical and rigorous workouts to maintain good health or to look good? And yet, we have to do the same for our souls, be ready and willing to GET UNCOMFORTABLE if we want to change and become the best version of ourselves

(Sidenote: Ha, I didn't really pay any attention to her until I read that lent post and then got inspired to order "No More Trouble Zones" dvd. I can't say I'm a big fan of her "kick some butt" attitude,I personally find that annoying, but she is a really good motivator and the dvds are making me sweat!)

I'm pretty sure having a baby is, in its very essence, the most uncomfortable thing I will ever do in this life, for a whole host of reasons :), but it is the most rewarding. Sometimes, I have to remember, "With great sacrifice comes great love, and with great love, comes great sacrifice." JPII

But maybe, more importantly, being open to life can open our souls, stretch our hearts, and changes us into the women we were created to be.

Mar 2, 2012

NFP Women: Meet Grace

                    Grace grew up in New Mexico and Simon in Kansas; we live in St. Louis now. Simon and Grace are 28, and were married in Auguest 2009. Their two children are: Julia, 16 months, and Sebastian, 3 months.
When did you first hear about the Church’s teachings on NFP and contraception? Did you always know about it or was there a time that you heard about it for the first time?

Simon and I are both fortunate to have parents that practiced NFP so we were always aware of the Catholic Church’s teaching on contraception. I became more aware of NFP in college at Franciscan.

Likewise, was there a moment when you decided that you would use NFP in your marriage or was it just understood that that is what you would do?
    Simon and I dated long distance for several months and talked about NFP almost immediately. We both understood and agreed that we would practice NFP.
Did you have any fears about using NFP? If so, what were they?
    Initially, I was pretty confused by the whole charting process when we started taking the classes. Now, I am one of the few that actually really enjoys charting. I like seeing the patterns that occur each month and being able to anticipate potential mood swings and prepare myself and poor Simon for the impending hormone storm. We have been lucky enough to not be scared or overwhelmed at the thought of a pregnancy at any point in our marriage (that is not to say the day won’t come!).
How has using NFP positively influenced your marriage?
    NFP forces us to be in a constant state of communication about a myriad of issues. From important and meaningful conversations about openness to the possibility of another child to little exchanges about cycle patterns, It has helped us to view our marriage and fertility as a partnership.
What has been the greatest challenge?
    When we were first married it took us a few months to get pregnant. It seemed like the entire world got pregnant on their honeymoon and I was frustrated that I wasn’t able to get pregnant as easily. It was difficult to trust God’s will for our lives. Simon did a phenomenal job of reminding me that as much as NFP is about openness to children, it is also about openness to God’s will, even if that meant not giving us a child immediately.  When I was (“finally” – ha) pregnant with Julia after five months of marriage, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer shortly thereafter. The timing of her conception turned out to be such a blessing as my doctor found the cancer at my initial OB visit and I was able to have surgery in my second trimester.  If I had gotten pregnant right away, the cancer nodule may have been too small to have been detected and we may have discovered the cancer after it has spread quite a bit more.
What would you say to a couple who is considering using NFP rather than artificial forms of birth control?
    I wish our society viewed fertility as a gift and not a burden. I know that taking birth control, getting an IUD etc is so much easier and more convenient than charting, but our reproductive systems are so complex and unique to each individual and charting is a ‘one size fits all’ approach while not all types of contraception will work for every woman. By understanding and working with our cycles naturally we don’t put ourselves at risk for any harmful or unpleasant side effects.  While many couples will conceive easily and quickly, there are many that won’t and infertility causes can be much more easily diagnosed when charting. Understandably, there are so many misconceptions about NFP and it can be daunting thinking about having to constantly discern adding another child to a family but the fruits of communication in marriage and understanding the wife’s cycle (read: hormones!) are abundant.
How do you handle the topic with family and friends? Is it ever an issue? How do you handle criticism about the Church’s teachings?

I’m guilty of not broaching the subject with many people unfamiliar with NFP or who are unaware that we practice NFP. A lot of people ask if we’re done having kids or if pregnancies were planned and I know I should take that opportunity to let them know we practice NFP if the situation lends itself to any sort of conversation.  With the recent HHS mandate at the forefront of many people’s thoughts, hopefully we’ll be able to clearly explain why we believe what we do about contraception and break down any myths or stereotypes about NFP.

Could you share a happy moment/memory that you have of your children? As well as funny story or incident that was difficult? 

Ever since Sebastian was born, Julia has all but ignored him completely. She occasionally lifts her blind eyes moratorium to hit or pinch him but this morning she miraculously smiled at him and he smiled right back which she seemed to think was hilarious. It gave me a little exciting glimpse into the future of their hopeful friendship.

Thank you Grace!! Grace was a friend of mine in college and she was always fun to hang out with...she has a witty and humorous view on life and blogs about it here.