Thursday, October 30, 2008

What I Did of Importance Yesterday

And I voted for life. I took a stand, no matter how small, for the unborn.
Over at his Crunchy Con blog, at, Rod Dreher says he is not voting for president because Obama is against life and although McCain is for the life of the unborn, Dreher feels as though his anti-life campaigns of war and bombing and his poor choices of late (of which, Dreher includes the choice of Sarah Palin as vice president) disqualify him.
I hate to be a single issue voter, but for president, this year, I had to be. But wait, there's more...
I am sick of politics. Sick and sickened. I am so ashamed to be living in a country where running for president is an undertaking over 2 years in the making wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars. I have been badgered for money countless times. I can give you my time and support, but let's be realistic, someone on my salary, with two small children, can't contribute to a political campaign. Most ironic for me in this election regarding money is that the Democratice candidate declined public financing. And without it, the GOP hopes would have been sunk.
Which, strangely enough brings me back to abortion. I am sick of the politicalization of abortion. We are so caught up in a woman's "right to choose" that that is where the political money is flowing. Forgotten in this argument all to often is the voiceless, the helpless children. The aborted babies unable to assert their "right to choose" their own lives are caught in the crossfire, yet widely ignored. Instead, the anti-life crowd focuses on the mother and the prolife crowd, all to often, shamelessly focuses on their superior morality. I have heard one too many smug prolifers on the television and radio not even mention the baby and speak about how this is "just wrong" and these people are "sinners" (let he among you who has not sinned...). It's all about the sound bite, the money flowing to the right candidate.
Here is what both sides are missing that as a Catholic, I find reprehensible. Abortion is the murder of an unborn child. That child is not the only victim. His or her mother is as well. As a Catholic, I am proud that Project Rachel exists to counsel the "living victims" of abortion. In addition, women are often the victims of abortion not because of a "selfish desire for their own lives" but due to lack of education on other options and sheer desperation at not being able to provide for a child.
So, now, we come to where I have had disagreements with fellow conservative Catholic mothers. When the majority of women I speak with who are Catholic mothers speak about other options than abortion for women, this is typically restricted to having the baby and keeping it with help from family. I almost never hear the words "adoption" come out of a Catholic mouth unless we are talking about a couple that cannot conceive. We talk the talk about being "open to life" but restrict that to only our own reproductive lives. This is one place where the Protestants, especially the Baptists and Methodists, have us beat. I have met many Protestant families made of biological and adopted children. A coworker of mine has five biological children and six adopted children. And while she is white, her adopted children are all African American. They are a wonderful cohesive family. We can show much more support for a mother deeply troubled in her pregnancy and considering the murder of a child if we show her that we are a family, loving and deeply committed to providing a good life for any child. I once posted to a thread on a blog regarding a woman who had had multiple c-sections (as I have) who was deeply troubled that she may not be able to have the large family she believed God wanted her to have because of the restrictions of having a c-section. Over 25 posts went up immediately about so and so who had 10 c-sections but also cautioning that after 2, someone else was forced to have a hysterectomy. I read in disgust that NO ONE even considered the large family could be just as fulfilling if the children were not biological. So, I posted stating that as a pro-life Catholic, I was astounded that adoption had not been mentioned and that there is no greater way to support a mother's "choice" of life as providing a solid home for that child. The mother who had originally posted the query posted about three hours after my post saying she had lost the pregnancy she had been carrying and thanking everyone for their comments and then singled me out as someone who had opened her eyes to a new way of thinking and she was so grateful for that and it put her mind at ease that a large family may still be attainable regardless of her status with c-sections. That opened my eyes to the fact that as Catholics, by and large, we don't consider adoption.
And if I see any rays of light in an Obama presidency, it is that he has committed to helping increase adoptions as a viable option for pregnant women. He has realized there are many families out there with love to give who are disqualified for adoption because of antiquated standards and many babies who could be saved if adoptions were more easy to attain. That was one of my great disappointments in President and First Lady Bush who were infertility patients (ever wonder how they got twins when twins didn't run in either family?) and were preparing to adopt a child when they finally did become pregnant. There story was powerful, and they had the power to change many hearts and minds. And didn't. It is my hope that if my vote for Senator McCain counts toward his victory as president, he will also commit to helping increase adoptions, after all, he is the father of an adopted daughter himself!
So, while Rod Dreher doesn't seem to think a vote for the unborn is a vote worth giving this election cycle. I had to disagree. My vote may be one small stand for the unborn, but hopefully it will elect a man who can change humankind.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

So Today

I got my flu shot and my arm hurts. Really bad. Every time I move it. Ouch.

Amazing, this little vial of medicine injected in my arm, despite the pain, will keep me from becoming very sick (provided I don't catch a strain not covered by this vaccine).

A little thing. A big payoff.

Prayer is like that too. No prayer is ever too small of insignificant. They are all important to God. Whether it's a, "please help my dog feel better," or a "we need a miracle to heal grandma" nothing is ignored.

The important thing to remember with prayer, though, is that all prayers are answered although not in the way we might like. I remember this when my cousin Andy fell ill this time last year with an inoperable brain tumor.

I never prayed for being cured. I only prayed for God's will to be done. Now, there may be some out there who feel I was wrong. I know my mother wanted everyone to pray unceasingly and fast and believes if we had done this, Andy would be 100% cured now and still with us. But I just can't believe God works like that. If that assumption were true, than we would have to assume that God only answers the prayers of people in the way in which they would like when we don a sackcloth and offer sacrifice. We all know that is not true. I did neither and yet, I was given two children when doctors at one point thought I had a less than 10% chance of carrying a healthy baby to term. That assumption would also lead us to believe that those who offer prayers that are brief and not public would never hear God answer them with a yes. See where I am going with this?

In the movie Bruce Almighty, Jim Carrey is given the awesome powers of God but also the awesome responsibilities. Remember the scene where he is answering prayers (in the form of heavenly email) and responds yes to all of them. Remember the fall out from that?

I viewed Andy's illness as a win-win, either God would cure Andy and allow him to stay with us here on Earth, OR, God would bring Andy home. That is not to say I wanted Andy to suffer the brutal effects of chemotherapy and radiation and the inevitable emotional pain of cancer. I would have spared him 100 times if I could have, but that was not what God wanted.

As the weeks of Andy's treatments went on, I kept hearing people say things like, Andy didn't deserve this (no one does) and they could not accept that God would allow Andy to suffer like this, what kind of loving, benevolent God allows children to get cancer? I struggled with hearing these comments, because in my heart it had been revealed to me, not the outcome, but that there was a purpose for this and that it was not for me to understand. With great heaviness, I accepted that revelation (which came while praying the Divine Mercy chaplet). I knew others might not believe or trust me. One day, as I was driving around town, listening to Relevant Radio, I heard Father John Corapi say something that spoke to my heart. I don't know the exact quote, but he said something to the effect of, as humans, we struggle with God's decisions. We want to know why, but we can't. We cannot understand because we are not God and it is not for us to understand. Only God in his divine wisdom can understand the struggles we endure and the pain we sometimes suffer. I pulled over in a parking lot and cried. I knew I was supposed to hear this, I knew Father Corapi was chosen as the instrument, and I knew now that when someone made a comment to me that Andy shouldn't have this happen, I had to share these words. And I did often, with friends and co-workers and family. I remember telling one co-worker, a single mother of two boys who desperately was praying for Andy and our family. She is not Catholic, so I hesitated just for a second. When I told her, her face and whole countenance changed as if she was truly hearing the word of God. Now I don't claim to be an instrument of God, but it's hard to deny what happened in those few moments. She later emailed me that she was going through a severe crisis of faith because of both Andy's illness and her son's behavioral issues. She said hearing that moved her toward God just as she felt she was drifting away.

And in the months of his illness and treatment, Andy touched thousands, probably millions around the world with his faith. Child saints are revered for their undying faith in God. Andy's faith never waivered. He never asked, "why me?" He was saddened by the fear that lived in his parents and siblings. He knew he would miss them, but he joyfully accepted God's will. He posted on his caringbridge site about revelations he received in dreams. He inspired people around the world to pray. And he was unselfish, he used the platform he had to ask for prayers for others. In particular, for one little boy who posted on his site frequently whose mother was fighting breast cancer.

When Andy was brought home by God in May, he went peacefully, joyfully. He loved his life, his home on the lake and the mountain house, his golden retriever, Honey, his sisters and brothers, his parents, his best friends, his godparents, but most of all he loved God and trusted God. He knew no prayer was too little. And he knew God answered all prayers.

Prayers are like the spark we light in the darkness. They guide us to God and an answer. We must learn to accept the answers God gives us and accept we may not understand God's answers, but it may not be for us to understand. Instead we are to walk with him in faith and understanding that because He is God, He will always do what is best for us.

"He has shown you, O people, what is good and what the Lord requires of you. But to do justice, and to love kindsness and to walk humbly with your God."
~Micah 6:8

Friday, October 24, 2008

A Godmother's Prayer.

His name is Andy and I am proud to be his godmother.
On May 9, in the Year of Our LORD, two thousand eight, at the age of 13 ,Andy began his new life with Jesus and all of the angels and saints in Heaven.

When a body is given the privilege of being a godparent he is charged with the responsibility of of supporting and bearing witness to the faith development of the child. I loved the special "holy" gifts and offering up prayers for all of my godchildren. I hoped for them all to be inspired by my faith I imagined them giving testimony of my example at the celebration of my mass of the resurrection.

I never in my wildest dreams imagined that one of them would witness to me the way to walk the walk. I never thought that I would be the one proclaiming Scripture at their memorial service. But that is, in fact, what came to pass.

God spoke to Andy. Without hesitation and in the purest of faith, Andy passed it on.
"melesureJ dogevoL"
"Love God, Jerusalem"
When you think about it, it really does encompass all that is good.

Shortly after Andy's homecoming a poster on his website cited all of the child saints and suggested that even though Andy is not formally canonized he can surely pray with us and for us in his state of grace.

Recently I attended a concert that was part of Christian Singer Sara Groves' Art*Music*Justice Tour. Sara Groves' music speaks very deeply to Andy's mother, Eileen. Her songs of hope have ushered Eileen to the first baby steps of healing from the depths of her grief. Eileen, my brother Jim and their children had the opportunity to meet with Sara prior to the concert and tell her of Andy's great faith. At the concert Sara spoke of the faithful souls that have gone before us. She said that they had finished the race and crossed the finish line. Before us they are, cheering us on. "I can see Andy is right there along with all the others", she said.

This past August a veil of sadness over Andy's loss darkened my heart as it does from time to time. Now August is the month of my birth, and this year I turned fifty. I was taking a walk and I decided to talk to Andy.

"Andy,please pray for me. Talk to God, and send me the perfect thing to smile about."

Andy loved frogs and used acronym F.R.O.G. (Fully Rely On God). I am fond of red hair and Andy and I had joked about my "naturally red hair". When I arrived home from the walk, a little RED frog was in our driveway. My family will all testify to it. It is pictured right here on this post. The frog lingered in our driveway and garage for a few weeks. The last we saw of him was early September. He made me smile. A Lot! I am blessed indeed.

After Sara Groves had called on the image of saints cheering us on she led into her next song by "O I want to be in that number...."

So do I, Sara.
So do I.

Peace and All Good.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Baby Steps

When I think of the idea of taking baby steps, the first thing that comes to mind is that movie What About Bob? I see Bill Murray taking literal baby steps out of Dr. Leo Marvin (Richard Dreyfuss)'s office. If makes me laugh. A lot.

Right now I have a one year old who is practicing walking. He is getting better everyday, it kind of scares me. Soon the little people walking in my house will be even with the big people.

There is something so cute and also funny, not to mention nerve-wracking about a child beginning to walk. As my dogs have found out, you tend to get out of the way of one so little and so uncertain on their feet. You want them to learn alone, your heart stops when they fall. You cherish the independence it will be as it will free up your arms and time. You mourn that your baby is growing up and no longer needs you for this.

What then must God think of us, muddling through our lives. Not quite making it. Falling down more than we stand up. I think of the Footprints wall hangings and of God carrying me when I cannot make it on my own, the same way I carry my children when they become to weary to stand on their own feet. I realize the love God must have for me, as in the infancy of my eternal life, I am taking very small baby steps closer to his outstretched arms.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Please Say A Prayer

If you are somewhere that you can light a candle, please do, if not a prayer will be enough. Please pray for those babies taken before life in abortion and miscarriage. Please pray for those taken after birth by the hands of violence. And please pray for the mothers and fathers mourning the loss of a child they never knew or a child they knew all too briefly.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

So Here I Am

now one year closer to 30.

It is funny to me how older relatives like to ask, "Do you feel older?" When I was a kid that confused me. No, I didn't, in fact, I felt quite the same as I did yesterday.

Now I answer, "yes," which is usually received with good-natured laughter, although, depending on which day you catch me on, I might be serious ;).

What does a life of almost 30 years encompass at this point?
1) I had 3 little brothers (although now all 3 are bigger than me).
2) I graduated high school.
3) I went to college.
4) I fell in love.
5) I graduated from college.
6) I got married.
7) I got dogs.
8) I bought a house.
9) I had babies.
10) I opened a 401 (k)

Some other things you might be familiar with happened in that time:
1) Ronald Reagan became president and Iran released hostages on the day of his inaugeration.
2) The Challenger space shuttle exploded in mid-air.
3) The Berlin Wall came down.
4) Bill Clinton did not have sexual relations with that woman.
5) The stock market hit 10,000.
6) Mass genocide killed thousands in Rwanda.
7) A monster named Slobodon Milosevic held the former Yugoslavia under a brutal regime.
8) September 11, 2001
9) The US invaded Afghanistan, Iraq.
10) Michael Phelps broke the record for most gold medals won in an Olympics.

My life has been filled with hopes and disappointments, both personal and global. I remember in the 10th grade, at the mere age of 16, which discussing the holocaust in my world civilizations class, the consensus was, we could never let this happen to another people. But it had and still goes on today. In a way, I look at my life as the more it changes, the more it stays the same. Kind of a cynical view you could say. I mean, what could I, one person do? Yet this little voice (which I believe is my guardian angel) tells me each day to get up and be the best person I can be. That somehow, it will make a difference. Who knows, maybe I am grooming a future president, or someone who will find a cure for AIDS. Everyday is a battle to be good wife, a good mother, a hard worker, a compassionate soul, a believer in Christ, to keep my faith strong. I don't always succeed at all or any of these, but I get up and do it again. I once read a quote that was attributed to legendary Alabama football coach Bear Bryant, "Courage is not the man who fights and falls. It's the man who fights, falls and gets up again." I don't think of myself as courageous, but I do think there is wisdom in Coach Bryant's quote. It's how I live my life. All almost 30 years of it so far.

"For when the great scorer comes to write against your name, he writes not whether you won or lost, but how you played the game."
~Grantland Rice