Perinatal Anxiety: How do I know if I’m ready for another baby?

My most recent pregnancy was wretched. I didn’t have much morning sickness, I was just the normal amount of tired, the baby grew beautifully, and I had no medical complications. But I had perinatal anxiety, and that made everything suck, and it still sucks.

Perinatal Anxiety: How do I know if I am ready to have another baby? Observe women's mental health month by sharing this with a pregnant woman you love and care about.

It started in my first trimester with an increase in panic attacks. I normally get them a couple of times a year, but they started happening a few times a week. The doctors kept telling me that I was just anxious about having another baby, but I knew it wasn’t normal pregnancy anxiety.

As the weeks went by, I started having panic attacks so frequently that I was checked into the local hospital. I simply could not catch my breath in between the episodes as they were just compounding on top of one another. In addition to the panic, I was also having very depressing and suicidal thoughts. I knew I had no intention of ever killing myself, but the anxiety made me feel that I might be going crazy and eventually take my own life without my consent. It was such a dark time, you guys.

The hospital stay set me up with a new dosage for my anxiety meds as well as a therapist and a psychiatrist. I visited both of them frequently throughout the rest of my pregnancy, and I found a bit of comfort when my psychiatrist told me she would set me up with a women’s mental health clinic if or when we ever decided to have another baby.

Theodore Patrick was born on February 18, 2015, and almost instantly, my anxiety vanished. While it was reassuring to know that it was pregnancy hormones causing all of this (and not me actually going insane), it left me with the question: Do I ever want to go through this again?

We’ve always wanted a large family, and we still do. After our older kids were born, we knew we would get pregnant as soon as we were able again. But this time was much different. It’s not a given that I will go through the same suffering the next time, but I am at a much higher risk.

And that’s where we are right now. Do we want another child? We do. Am I ready to face that same type of pregnancy if God asks me to? I don’t know.

There are days when I am positively positive that I am ready for another. Theodore was so worth it, after all. But, the majority of days I am too scared to face the same fate again.

Our plan for now is to wait until the good days outnumber the bad days. And we pray. Lord, let us know what you are asking of our family. If you would like us to bring new life into the world, make it abundantly clear, and help us to feel peace in your request. We desire more children but fear the implications on my mental health. Thank you for all of the blessings you have already bestowed on our family. Help us to leave the future in your hands and to suffer well if you so ask it of us. Amen.

Giveaway

God brought good out of my story. He filled me with the Holy Spirit and enabled me to write a book filled with all of the tips and tools I use to manage my panic and anxiety. Check out 30 Days to Calm in my Etsy shop, and enter for a change to win one here.

To Enter: Follow me on Instagram (@callherhappy), and then comment here telling me that you did (or do). I will choose a winner June 6, 2016!

xx

Share your story at Flourish in Hope or read more stories like this one.

The True Cost of Your Closet

There are two truths that precede this post.

The first is that I am staunchly, whole-heartedly, unapologetically, no exceptions pro-life.

The second is that I understand documentaries have an agenda, but this particular film’s agenda lines right up with mine, so that made this all so very convenient. wink.

You look in your closet for this weeks outfits. Shoes, jeans, yoga pants - even lingerie. But, do you know the real cost of all of that fashion that ends up in your laundry room floor? Who is sewing your latest winter outfits from Nike or fall outfits from Urban Outfitters? Where does your maternity fashion or fall fashion come from and at what cost? Find out how you can be sure your closet is socially responsible while still being fashionable.

image via dollar photo club | saratm

Ever since Mike and I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, we have been looking at our consumer habits much more closely. We didn’t just donate a few things here and there. We got rid of almost half of our belongings, and we are attempting to keep it that way. We’ve noticed that, yes, we have regretted some of the things we gave away, but the freedom of having less has been much more worth it.

Even more worth it is our new outlook on consumption. For years, heck, my whole life even, I have gone through fits where I purged tons of “stuff” from my room or my apartment or house. I didn’t want all of these belongings, and I didn’t want to feel attachment to possessions. But, stuff kept creeping back in.

We all know why that happens. Products promise to fix problems in our life, but, well, they don’t. Instead we are left with more stuff to take care of (goodbye, time), and less money in our accounts. It’s what our society is built on. It’s really hard to get away from. I still struggle with this. I want all the stuff. This will be a lifelong process of unlearning my poor consumption habits.

What I’ve come to realize after our great and final purge (please, God), is that clothing is one of my weaknesses. Raise yo hand up if that is you too. After watching The True Cost, my resolve to fix this part of my life became firm…

But man, can I burn through Target tees and other cheap, expendable clothing. After all, it’s only meant to last for a season, right? But, where is all of that cheap clothing coming from? Sweatshops and poor working conditions are not foreign concepts to us, but they are certainly things that are easier to not think about than to put in the front of our minds when making purchases.

Cheap clothing has its advantages: people who are on a tight budget are able to afford new clothing at these cheap prices, and many people who come in contact with this clothing (from harvest to retail) are making money in the process.

Here is where my problems come in.

Do we accept the fact that workers are being paid pennies per day working in dangerous conditions so that we can fill our closets? Do we tell ourselves that these people need work otherwise they would have no money at all? Is it ethical to justify the abuse and sadness that these humans put up with day in and day out by saying, “well, they are lucky to have a job?”

Are there other alternatives? I can’t fix the garment industry on my own. But, there are ways we can make noise with our dollars. There are other places we can put our money. And yes, that may mean a worker from Bangladesh is not seeing work immediately, but it will also mean that companies are forced to change the way they do business. We cannot accept the fact that a mother must give up her child so that she can make less than a dollar a day in a garment factory where she plays the odds each day of whether she will die from a building fire or chemical exposure.

The alternatives to our shopping desires certainly range in price. We can always buy second hand. This is my favorite way to make sure no new manufacturing is taking a toll on humans or the environment. But, if you are looking for something new, you’re going to pay the price. You’re going to pay that person’s wage and healthcare and so on. Which means you won’t be able to buy as much. But it begs the question: do you need more?

It boils down to a life issue. With this knowledge of where your clothes are coming from and how they are made, can you be pro-life while supporting fast fashion industry that puts profit and quantity over human life?

I think not.

5 Tips for Shopping Smarter

and

A List of Better Alternatives

Please feel free to add more resources in the comment section. Or, if you know something about these companies that I don’t, let me know. I’m ready to learn!

Second Hand and Resale Stores
ThredUp
People Tree
Seamly
Lands’ End (nevermind…)
American Apparel (Although I take issue with their marketing practices.)
C&C California
The Good Trade
Fair Indigo

some links affiliate

30th Birthday Mess

Instead of writing a bunch of separate posts, you get this big old mess of a post, but it’s my (30th!!!) birthday today, so maybe just roll with me?

Dia de los Muertos

Today is All Souls Day. Remember to pray for the Holy Souls in Purgatory. And learn more about today’s indulgences here. I’ve got some pics of this year’s sugar skull makeup. See past years here.

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We spent yesterday at the Detroit Institute of Arts where they had an ofrenda exhibit. I was in Dia heaven, while the kids were less than thrilled and more than scared.

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made by my cousin, Patti Pfaendtner!

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The best gift? My brother surprising me from Cali <3

Etsy News

  • I’m having a sale in my shop until the end of today. 15% off with code DIADELOSMUERTOS. Get some Christmas shopping done, maybe?
  • Also until the end of the day (7:30 est), there is an Insta-auction going on to support the Van Drie family. Kristen is a fellow Michigan maker, and her family recently suffered the loss of their sweet 6yo daughter Kaylee. Consider supporting her family by bidding on one of the hundreds of donated items in the Instagram auction located at @candlesforkaylee.
  • My friend Kathie just opened up her Etsy shop, and it is just in time for the chill coming in. Adorable hats and high quality photography. I mean, check out my kiddos:

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I think my favorite item in her shop right now is the Cinderella hat. Supah clever! Click over and give her a heart on Etsy.

 

Blog Announcement

Now that my book is done I feel like my blog has come to fruition – like it was all building up to this: a resource to really help people battle a cause I feel passionately about.

I’m not done blogging; I’ll still post here from time to time, but I’m going to focus my efforts on my embroidery shop and (if the winds of the spirit blow me in that direction) homeschooling. Oh, and God wants me to write another book coming next year: The Lazy Liturgical (all about how to celebrate and observe the many feasts and solemnities of the Church without any preparation at all) – so there’s that too. 

Ashley will be taking over 5Faves starting Nov. 11. She’s so incredibly qualified that it ain’t even funny.

And my site will remain as well. Consider it more of a landing page for all things Call Her Happy: the blog, the book, the shop, the girl.

And, if you’d like to keep up with me, I’ll be over on the gram peeking on you too.

El Fin

If you made it all the way down here, good on ya. Leave the names of your faithfully departed in the comment section. I would love to pray for them today.

What, you too? I thought I was the only one.

I’m going to attempt to do a little reflecting on this past Saturday’s Blessed Is She Southeast Michigan brunch…while all three kids are awake…at 7am. You’re in for a treat.

First off, Mary was on point and on fleek and super swag with her talk, per usual. The topic was sisterhood, and the takeaway was that in order to foster genuine sisterhood, we need healthy doses of honesty, affirmation and prayer.

It’s easy to talk about fashion, makeup and dinner recipes, but how do you get to a place where you’re comfortable baring your soul to another person? In order to make genuine friends, we’re all going to have to go a bit deeper with honesty, affirmation and prayer.

3 Things You Need to Make Friends as a Woman

Honesty

How can we get to a point in our relationships with other women where we can say, “What? You too? I thought I was the only one!” if we are not honest about the fact that we sit our 5-month-old in front of the TV so we can catch the tiniest of breaks? Or that we are unhappy in our profession? Or that our marriage is struggling?

Affirmation

And when another mom bares her guilt-soaked soul to us, how do we respond? Do we automatically tell her, “Oh, it’s fine” and change the subject? Or, do we listen to what she is saying? Are we in turn honest in letting her know she is not alone? Even if we disagree with what she tells us, are we sympathetic to her emotions and helpful to her by steering her in the direction she needs? Easier said than done, amiright?

Prayer

After the honesty and affirmation parade, we need to follow up with some good old-fashioned prayer. None of this, “I will pray for you” and then not doing it crap. Pray for your sister. Pray over your sister. Yes. Right in front of her.

Making Friends as a Grown Up

What is it about being an adult that makes making friends so incredibly difficult? I could list off reasons, but we all have our own.

And, you’d think it would be simple: we are all looking for deeper relationships with other women, so, let’s just do it. But you can’t force that, right?

So what is it that brings people closer together?

I once knew a singer and a soldier who said sins create the closest bonds. But, since we’re Catholic in this neck of the woods, let’s see if we can avoid the sisterly trip to the confessional.

That means we’re back to the honesty, affirmation, prayer method. And, I don’t know about you, but when someone asks me how I’m doing, my reflexive response is, “Great!” even when it’s not. No one wants to be the Debbie D. friend. It’s much easier to pretend like the messy stuff doesn’t bother us, or even easier: just put the highlight reel out there.

Or what about when someone does drop a truth bomb on us? Easiest way out? Smile, say it’s ok, change the subject. AVOID ALL THE CONTROVERSY AND UNCOMFORTABLE.

Then I need to pray over this person? Talk about awkward. Don’t I need to be close to that person already to do that?

Making It Work

Those are all of my excuses for why I can’t make those hard things work. I guess I’m being…honest. Easier online, eh?

Now how do I get past those things and into the friend-zone? How do I drop my guard? How do I make one of those friends that you can sit with in totally comfortable silence?

I don’t know.

The best I can come up with right now is to take a deep breath when you’re with a friend. Inhale, exhale and tell yourself to be calm and listen. Stay in the moment and don’t try to get rid of the uncomfortable.

That’s all I’ve got. What do you have?

 

How to Discuss Gay Marriage

I can take absolutely no credit for this post. I simply asked two very intelligent friends of mine to chat with each other about the recent SCOTUS decision regarding the legalization of gay marriage. So, before I let you read their conversation, let me give you some background and ground rules:

Background and Intros

Cara has been my friend for 23 years now. She lives in CA where she works for an organization that helps philanthropists achieve greater good with their resources. She has her Master’s from University of San Fransisco.

Jenny lives in CO and has three children with one on the way. She writes for Catholic News Agency which hosts her blog, Mama Needs Coffee. She studied theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville. 

ha. Just realized they both were schooled in St. Francis of Assisi inspired locations. Anyway.

Both people agreed to email back and forth so they would have time to process and respond.

Ground Rules

I invite you to join the conversation these two women have started, but. BUT. I am completely aware of the fact that the readership of this blog will tend to disagree with the SCOTUS decision (myself included), so let me make this crystal clear: please be genuine and tactful in your comments and questions. Both of these women are wonderful people (who I love) with intelligent thoughts on the matter. Please engage them in conversation while respecting their humanity.

Tips for Online Debate

So, let’s get this party started. I hope you’ll enjoy seeing how this conversation unfolded. It was amazing to watch how they were able to

  • address ideas without personal attacks
  • defend their beliefs while inquiring about the other’s
  • understand that they weren’t going to change each other’s minds, but they could clearly lay out their case for others who may be reading
  • know they could help the other person understand but not agree
  • come to a polite conclusion when they felt they had finished

What do you feel the effect of the legalization of gay marriage will be on the future of our country?

p.s. this is long, but oh, so worth it.

With SCOTUS recently ruling wedding rings for all, we are all finding ourselves in need of a lesson in online etiquette. Learn to stay true to your beliefs while still tactfully engaging another in conversation. | gaylove | gaypride | gay marriage | internet safety | debate topics

© Masson / Dollar Photo Club

 

 

Cara:

I was sitting at work in DC when I heard the news of the ruling. It was coming off the heels of another SCOTUS decision upholding the ACA, and it felt to me like a SCOTUS magic week. The news started to ripple through my office, and we all cheered, breathed sighs of relief, and a few people were walking around waving equality flags that HRC was handing out across the street.

I dove into my iPhone to be sure I knew exactly what this ruling meant and when/how the decision would be implemented. The fact that it was immediate law and that couples could get married right away sounded almost too good to be true. I live in California where marriages have been legal and then annulled with the back-and-forth laws that have been state-driven. Throughout the day, I started to hear stories like Jack and George, and I shed my cynicism and believed this could really be a turning point.

Quite simply, when I think about what this ruling will mean for the future of our country, I think it means that we are one step closer to equality and that the future is a little brighter. It means stories like Jack and George can finally be a thing of the past and that from this point forward, individuals can marry who they love and enjoy the legal and societal privileges that come with that. I believe that the next generation will be astounded that this was ever a debate, much the same way that our generation can’t fathom that interracial marriage was illegal less than 50 years ago.

I do still have a very real concern for the future of LGBTQ rights in this country. Same sex marriage is a huge win, but it’s not the end of the fight. There is still incredible discrimination in employment and housing, for example, and the trans community remains one of the most marginalized and vulnerable populations in the US. So, I know there’s a real possibility of the movement losing some momentum after this, which concerns me. I must say though, this ruling has given me so much hope that hearts and minds really are changing and that acceptance in a concrete, legal form has finally been given to a large community.

Jenny:

My heart sank that Friday morning, when news of SCOTUS’ decision filtered down through my newsfeed. I was scrolling through the news and periodically raising my eyes above the screen to see my kids diving off the couches in the family room. My first thought was “what is this world they are going to inherit?”

My next thought was one that I’m convinced of more and more with each day that has passed since the ruling was handed down: “this is the Roe v. Wade of their generation.”

What I mean by that is twofold, one, that the High Court issued a mandate against the will of the people, as she did back in 1973, further eroding State’s rights and, along with them, the integrity of the American experiment a little more in the process, and two, my children will not grow up in a world without gay “marriage.”

Just as I have never known a world without abortion.

I’m not naive enough to think that our present culture places much value on marriage in any form in 2015. No fault divorce and contraception are rampant, and are lauded as fundamental human rights, so on the one hand, why not allow gay “marriage,” along with polygamy and incest and any other sexual arrangement that happens to come into vogue? We’re certainly not living, culturally speaking, an experience of marriage as a covenant of life-long fidelity and fruitfulness.

But I want more for my kids. I want them to see (please God, let them see) in their parent’s marriage the fruitfulness and the sanctifying grace of Christ present in the exchange of love between spouses. I want them to recognize the profound gift of new life in the face of each new sibling that comes along, and the awesome responsibility that we, their parents, have in co-creating and raising them.

And I want that for everyone else’s children, too.

I want them to experience this impossibly wide, self-denying and cross-carrying and soul-stretching love, whether they are called to the married life or to a celibate vocation. Because that is where real happiness lies. That’s where fulfillment of the deepest variety resides. And nothing the world can offer them in terms of popular sentiment or trending behavior can compete with that.

And so my job as a mother got a little harder on June 27th. Because now I must explain to these children of mine that not all laws are good, and that wherever our human laws stray from the natural law which is written on each of our hearts, there is tremendous suffering.

I see a unique opportunity here to impress upon them the incredible dignity of every human person – no matter their race, religion, sexual preference, socioeconomic status, and all the rest. Because there is surely a wrong way to teach the truth about love and human sexuality, and I’ve seen too much of that these past couple months.

But it’s scary to think that in teaching them the truth about their sexuality and how they were made – for communion with one unique and unrepeatable member of the opposite sex, if they are called to marriage – I am exercising what is now considered “hate speech.” I’ve been called a bigot 100 different ways online these past 3 weeks, and worse than that. Not because I’ve spoken ill of any gay person or suggested homosexuals deserve inferior treatment in the eyes of the law, but because I maintain that marriage is a unique arrangement fundamentally ordered toward the creation of new human life and,because of those new lives, is worthy of protection and distinction in the eyes of the law.

I don’t hate gay people. I don’t hate anyone. And I don’t believe there is such a thing as gay “marriage,” no matter what 6 unelected public officials and the far more important court of public opinion says about the matter.

People should be allowed to love – and to contract legally binding arrangements with – whomever they please. In my own state, that way already the case.

But I also don’t actually believe this was ever about securing a legal right for a certain class of people, but was rather about abolishing one of the last vestiges of Judeo-Christian morality from American civil law. And it’s going to be a slippery descent downhill, as mentioned above. Because polygamy, incest, and the like are all coming. And on what grounds can we deny anyone a legally-binding and civilly-recognized sexual relationship with any other person – or creature – of their preference? No matter how self-harmful. No matter how disordered. No matter how utterly incapable of producing new life or of investing in the future of a stable and just society.

We can’t. And that’s the world we’re passing on to our children. Not a world of greater equality and opportunity, but of darkened reasoning and of bizarre sexual deviance that everyone will be required, by law, to applaud for with a straight face, affirming that each choice is equally good and loving and valid, because the tyranny of the individual will now rule over the greater common good.

Cara:

Regardless of how absolutely opposed our views are on this, I do appreciate you sharing your thoughts with me. The shock and sadness I experienced while reading your words made me think about how I really surround myself with likeminded people, for better or worse (no pun intended), and that because of that, I so rarely hear this side of the debate. So, in that way, I’m grateful to hear where you’re coming from and how you think through this issue as it’s honestly a side of the debate I so rarely am up against. Did I mention I live in San Francisco? ;)
There are about a million things I want to say in response, but I thought it might be interesting to look at three big areas where I think we start from the same place and then diverge wildly from a similar origin.

First, I think we both have strong relationships with God and that in big or small ways that is guiding our view on this issue. I was raised in a liberal Catholic home and have kept the main lessons from my childhood as pillars in my adult life. These lessons all center around an impossibly loving and accepting God who creates each of us as intentionally unique and strong individuals who are put on the earth to connect with one another. The God I have known since birth is 100% behind supporting loving gay marriage, and he doesn’t even put quotes around the word marriage! He would urge all of us to fight for the equal rights of everyone in our communities to ensure a safe, just, and loving world. A couple weeks ago, I marched in the SF Pride Parade with my Jesuit-run graduate school. It felt so great to represent a side of the church that is open and excited about this, as I think our voices are often muddled into “religious people” who are categorically opposed to gay marriage.

Second, I think you’re absolutely right that soul-stretching love (I love that wording!) is where true happiness lies. Marriage is an incredibly beautiful commitment between two individuals. I would bet that both of us know of strong and weak marriages. I can tell you with absolute certainty that two of the strongest marriages among people closest to me are gay marriages filled to the brim with soul-stretching love. One of these marriages was put on hold for decades because of archaic laws, while the other marriage is between two young men who were able to commit themselves to each other through marriage own their own clock because they happen to a reside in a progressive state. I am so happy that couples like these no longer have to hide their love away for their whole lives.

Finally, I think we both agree that the creation of a family within a marriage is something very special and something to protect. While I in no way believe that marriage has anything to do with some responsibility or calling to “create new life”, I do believe that a married couple can provide a loving home for children and a great foundation for a family. Same-sex couples do this equally as well as hetero couples, and this ruling offers an opportunity for the creation of so many more families to be formed with such greater ease and stronger protection. How can one not celebrate that?

Jenny:

I’m actually really enjoying that we can go back and forth without fear of misunderstanding or emotional fallout – so refreshing from what I spend a lot of time doing. Because of work I’m actually in fairly regular debate/discussion with people on both sides of the issue, so I’m not shocked by really…anything, at this point.

Oh, and ha! Just to cement our uncanny likeness a little further, I was born in San Fran and raised in the Bay Area. And my spiritual director is a former Jesuit, and my mom is a Santa Clara and USF grad, so maybe one of those is your alma mater too?

To address your first point, I want to challenge the logic of making an appeal to popularity or common option (the other alums and students who dissent from Catholic teaching on gay marriage.) That’s a valid emotional experience for you, but logically it falls under the fallacy “argumentum ad populum,” so it doesn’t strengthen your argument.

I was also raised – and am still a practicing – Catholic, and I don’t like the labels “conservative” or “liberal” – I really think they do more to divide than to unite, and we’re a big ‘ol universal church.

For those who will be reading this, I’d like for us to clarify what marriage is, and what it was created for. Since we’re both coming from a faith angle I think it’s safe to bring that into the conversation, but it could also be made solely from a natural law perspective, so really we could leave God out of it.

He’s already here in our email thread though, so let’s examine what He says about marriage and about human sexuality: first, He created us male and female with a purpose and with a distinct complementarity between our sexualities, to image in a particular way the life-giving exchange of love within the Persons of God, the trinity. And then the first instruction we receive from Him? Be fruitful, and multiply.

This lays 2 clear imperatives from the creator, first that there is something intelligent and intentional about our sexual differences, and second, that we are intrinsically ordered toward the creation of new life, just as God Himself is.

You say that marriage has nothing to do with children, in your mind, and that is probably the most difficult piece of your argument for me to answer, because it leads me to think we’re not actually discussing the same thing.

If marriage is not primarily ordered toward “the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring,” then what, exactly, is the purpose?

I’m guessing you’re going to say romantic fulfillment and life-long companionship, which are two goods of marriage, but are somewhat periphery to the two primary ends mentioned above. So could it be that we’re not actually talking about the same thing at all?

Like I said in my earlier email, our culture jettisoned the idea of marriage as something intentionally ordered towards bringing forth new life and raising that life in faithful, committed love, but does that cultural rejection actually alter the nature of marriage? What I mean is, can we redefine a thing based solely on popular opinion, considering we didn’t create marriage to begin with?

Finally, I want to challenge – so gently – the notion that children adopted into same sex partnerships do equally well as children raised by their biological parents. It’s simply not been borne out in all the research, and many adult children of loving, homosexual couples are coming forward and saying that no matter how loving their two “moms” were, and no matter how much they loved them in return, there was a void where the opposite sex parent was missing. And that void impacts them in a real and irrevocable way. I don’t think it’s right to discount the real experiences of children who are living on the front lines of our cultural experimentation and have something hard to tell us, even if it’s difficult to hear. That invalidates their lived experience in the name of furthering an agenda, and unfortunately many of these kids – now adults – are afraid to speak out or do so knowing they’re going to be alienated and rejected by the very community within which they were raised. Katy’s story of her experience being raised in a lesbian household is worth reading.

One final thought: of course children deserve a loving home and of course, orphans and single parent families and all the other impoverished and imperfect arrangements we find ourselves in, when parents die or the crushing demands of poverty overwhelm them, or when teenagers get pregnant or women are abandoned by the men who helped them create the child in question… because we live in a fallen world, and we’re all sinners. But neither of us would, I think, look at those aforementioned situations and call them ideal.

To intentionally deny a child their right to a mother and a father is a grievous injustice to that child. My favorite Jesuit – Pope Francis, says it well: “Children have a right to grow up in a family with a father and a mother capable of creating a suitable environment for the child’s development and emotional maturity.”
So if marriage has nothing to do with children, what is it for? And why should our government take any interest in it, in the first place?

Cara:

So funny – USF is my alma mater! Go Dons!

I think we’re getting somewhere because I didn’t even need a deep breath for this one.

I want to be crystal clear here that my support of gay marriage and equal rights for all forms of sexual orientation and gender expression have exactly zero to do with appealing to some popular opinion or “common option.” There is nothing new, trendy, or popular about this. Same-sex love has been around since the beginning of time and all that is news here is that our country is finally coming around to showing this type of love and commitment the respect and legal rights that this community should have been entitled to for all of history.

My point was that there are many people who identify as Catholic who dissent from the fundamental bible-based Catholic teachings on gay marriage (and so, so many other traditional teachings of the Catholic church). A large group of people who believe in God and feel a connection to the Catholic church fully support LGBTQ rights and full acceptance and love of all people (backed by actually supporting all people to love who they love). Because we have such different core values, it does make sense to me to clearly delineate conservative and liberal Catholics. They are, in practice, such vastly different approaches to life, and to be honest I would be horrified to be bucketed into the traditional Catholic mold. Unfortunately, I think the conservative approach to Catholicism has been much, much louder on a variety of social issues, so the liberal portion of the church has gotten lost in the shuffle. I do think Pope Francis is doing a lot to improve this, and I’m happy to hear we can agree that he’s the best. :)

As far as what marriage is and why it is so important, I think you’re right we can leave God out of this, and I want to do just that. While religions all around this globe treat marriage as a sacred and monumental event, that piece is far more complex than what was decided on a Friday in June. The fact is that while religion can put many (valid and important and beautiful) layers on top of marriage, marriage is a legal contract in which each marriage is as unique and diverse as the individuals within the commitment. Some marriages are religious, some are secular, some are between young or older individuals, some span across states or countries, some include children, and some are between same-sex individuals.

 You guessed that I think the point of marriage is for “romantic fulfillment and life-long companionship” and I find that phrasing incredibly empty and not even close to capturing what marriage is. When two people decide that they want to marry, that is an intimate decision that carries with it so many different intentions and goals. Because of that, I don’t believe there is one “reason” for marriage. I think it depends entirely on the individuals within the relationship. This diversity does extend to whether or not they decide to have children. Deciding to be a spouse and deciding to be a parent are such different decisions and roles in life, and it is for no one but the couple involved to make decisions about this. Do you know any married couples who have decided to not have children? Do you know any who are unable to conceive? Who have fostered or adopted children? Any who have blended families but have not “created life” together? Do you honestly think these marriages are not valid or living up to some “ideal”?

Your point about children being raised by their biological parents being somehow better off than children of same-sex couples just holds absolutely no water with me. I’m very familiar with the argument that some children raised by same-sex parents are somehow dissatisfied with their upbringing, and I had actually read Katy’s letter before. Some children of ALL forms of childrearing are dissatisfied with parts of their upbringing. There are just as many stories coming from children who are happy with their families, like Zack Wahls. So, this kind of “proof” isn’t proof at all. The stories of all families are complex with varying degrees of success and levels of overall happiness, regardless of the sexual orientation of the parents.

Jenny:

iiiiit’s a small world :)

And brace yourself, this is long, because I’m suuuuuper pregnant and was up thinking about it between 4-6 this morning…

Okay, after thinking it over, here’s what I pulled out as your three main points “pro” gay marriage:

1. Same sex attraction/homosexual behavior have been around forever, so therefore it should be legally recognized as marriage. This necessitates a change from the fundamental definition of marriage (which I’ll define as a legally binding, life-long, exclusive public commitment to a spouse of the opposite sex and any children which may result from that union) to a broader range of various sexual behaviors. I’m reading that you don’t believe children have anything to do with marriage unless the individual couples wills for them to, and then pursues them in whatever fashion they see fit. Is this accurate so far?

The main issue with this point is the final piece, because this view of marriage radically alters the nature of the institution, which is ordered toward the creation and development of a family, which is the fundamental building block for our larger communities, and turns it into something else entirely: a sexual partnership which is not outwardly-focused, by it’s very nature, but which is focused inward, on the mutual satisfaction and “happiness” (quotes because it’s a completely subjective state unique to each couple) of the spouses.

This is not to say marriage should not equal happiness, but that marriage in the traditional definition often results in happiness but is not contingent upon it. Happiness is a happy aftereffect, if you will, but it’s not proper end. So we contract marriages because we love the other person and want to build a life and a family with them, but the vision is directed outward, away from the individual couples, and that other-centered love physically begets new life. Children are a natural good of marriage – and an essential part of the purpose for marriage – precisely because they draw the spouses away from one another and toward a common good, and ultimately, the future.

You rightly mentioned adoptions and couples who struggle with infertility. I set those aside for the purpose of our argument because they’re tangential, but since you brought them up I’ll answer that when a couple cannot conceive this is a poverty in their relationship. Yes, they may be able to adopt and take great joy in building a family through alternative means (moral means, but that’s another topic entirely), but you’ll never hear an infertile couple say that their infertility hasn’t been a great sadness or a source of suffering. Is their marriage any less valid? Of course not. That’s like saying a cancer patient’s life has less value than a healthy person’s because her body has succumbed to a disease. It means something has gone awry physically.

For a homosexual couple, the sterility of their love is fundamental. That’s part of the reason I said in our first exchange that I don’t believe there is such a thing as gay “marriage;” marriage, by definition, is open to life and directed to the propagation of future generations. A homosexual relationship can never bring forth new life on its own, and so it cannot be rightly called “marriage” in the real sense of the word. Legal partnership? Sure. Civil union? Ok. But while the government has seen fit to radically alter the definition of marriage to include couples who are fundamentally incapable of fulfilling the essential duties (I’m using that word philosophically) of the office, there is nothing that can be done, legally or semantically, to actually alter the reality that only opposite sex spouses can contract a marital union.

2. When homosexual couples determine that they would like to acquire a child, either through adoption, IVF, surrogacy, etc., this results in a profound commoditization of the child. It reduces the child to a product, if you will, to be added on to their relationship as a kind of familial upgrade.

Do homosexual couples sincerely love the children they bring into their homes and raise as their own? I’m sure they do. But especially in the case of assisted reproductive technologies, there is almost total disregard for the dignity and the autonomy of the child. Their humanity is utterly secondary to wants and desires of the parent(s). Surrogacy is perhaps the saddest example of this commoditization, as it outsources the most fundamental human experience – gestation in your mother’s womb – to an unrelated third party. Does the child have no say in this? And can there really be no consequences to such an impoverished arrangement?

3. I didn’t present Katy’s story as any kind of definitive proof of the inability of a gay couple to raise a happy child, just as food for thought that maybe the children involved in these unions are not being afforded their full rights. We disagree on the nature of marriage as being ordered towards procreation, but there is still an innate drive, even among homosexual couples, to build a family. So the question becomes, what of the rights of the child? Does a child not, as we have legally recovnzzed up until this point, have the right to a mother and a father|? Is it not wrong to preemptively deny them a parent of the opposite sex, simply because two men or two women decide to build a life together?

My final thought is this: if marriage has nothing to do with procreation and building families, then why is the government involved in the first place? Traditionally the government has extended legal protections and benefits to married couples recognizing the unique benefits of marriage to society as a whole, (stable, intact families, healthier citizens, lower crime rates, greater economic stability, etc.) But these all tie into marriages begetting families.

Marriage has been recognized in a unique way because marriage – the sexual relationship between a man and a woman – is uniquely capable of bringing forth the next generation of civilization. Can it be done outside the context of marriage? Well yes, of course. But it’s always at the cost of the children involved, never to their benefit.

Also, if marriage means completely different things to different couples, as you said, if each couple contracts marriage on their own terms and for their own reasons and just wants to call it something that starts with an m….how can there be any kind of legal precedent at all for differentiating what makes the cut and what doesn’t? Can’t I marry my sister? Can’t I marry a second spouse of either gender while my husband is still alive? How is there any grounds, legally, to deny me that?

I’ve really enjoyed the peaceful nature and tone of this exchange (seriously, soooooo refreshing for someone who works on the internet) but I’m not sure we can go much further since it kind of feels like we’re talking past each other on a certain level. We’re using the same language, but we don’t mean the same thing, at all, when we say “marriage.”  So I guess maybe I’m up for one more round of closing arguments, if you will, and then we call it a day?

Cara:

I agree on two points: I really have enjoyed the tone of this, and I think we’re getting to the point of talking past each other in many ways.

There are a number of things I’d like to push back on with what you’ve written here (i.e. those are not my three main points pro gay marriage). I think the fact is that we have wildly different approaches to marriage and family — beyond gay marriage or this particular ruling. I don’t feel the need for closing arguments, per se, as I (thankfully) saw this much more as a conversation than a debate. I would like to offer a couple reflections though.

I will admit that I was a bit nervous going into this. After your first email I had tears in my eyes and ended up going for a couple mile walk with my dog on the beach to de-swell the lump in my throat and unknot my stomach a bit. These types of conversations can be really painful and difficult, but I’m so happy that by this last email I feel better about it all. So — I’m glad we went the email route with this so there was some reflection time built in and an opportunity to compose our thoughts.

Another thing I noticed is that maybe the trick to this is that it didn’t really feel like a debate. We both have clearly thought a lot about this issue and have extremely deep seated beliefs about what is right here. Given that, I think we both quickly knew that we weren’t going to sway the other or “win.” What we could do was explain our stance calmly and (as hard as it may have been for both of us) openly listen to the other side. I think there’s a lot of value in that, and I’m grateful to Jenna for framing this up front that this was to be civil and productive, not a battle or a gotcha debate.

Honestly, I still don’t empathize with your stance at all and I think a lot of what you believe is incredibly harmful to our society, but at the same time I can respect you as an individual and hope that somewhere down the line you have a change of heart as so many people have. And I bet you feel the same about me! At least we’re not apathetic members of society, right? ;) I do feel sure that we both want what we think is best for our world, and those opinions have been informed and shaped in very different ways.

Best of luck with the tail end of your pregnancy, and sincere thanks for having this conversation.

Jenny:

Well, I have to admit I’m a little relieved, haha. Not because it wasn’t encouraging to engage this way overall, but yeah, because it was a little personally devastating to hear someone so passionately opposed to the deepest knowledge of my heart and my faith.

I was telling my husband last night that it our conversation was making me sad, not for you necessarily, but for our culture at large, just because relativism is so overpowering and pervasive, and it makes fruitful dialogue so difficult.

But He is bigger, and I’ve seen firsthand the fruits of continuing to question and seek and wrestle.

I had a massive reversion to Catholicism in college when St. John Paul II died, and I credit him with saving my life. I’ll be asking him to pray in a special way for both of us,

Enjoy your weekend and God bless your willingness to engage in this.

Jenna again. Just popping in to repeat, “please be genuine and tactful in your comments and questions. Both of these women are wonderful people (who I love) with intelligent thoughts on the matter. Please engage them in conversation while respecting their humanity.” xx

Your “What’s Good on Netflix Lately” List #streamteam

Disclosure: I have received free Netflix streaming and a streaming device as part of my membership on the Netflix Stream Team.  All opinions expressed within this post are my own.

I’ve heard rumors that there will be a Full House spin-off coming to Netflix in 2016. So until then, keep yourself busy with some of our most recent favorites.

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Documentary: Make Believe

Series: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Old Favorite Movie: The Great Gatsby (1974)

Kid’s Show: Strawberry Shortcake: Berry Bitty Adventures

Girly Movie: Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

Mike’s Pick: Daredevil

Now you tell me: What’s good on Netflix lately?

Useful Screenshots

I take so many screenshots. It’s obscene. I’m always like, “Oh, much easier than writing down, and it saves automatically to…to where? Where is that? What was it even?”

So, I am sifting through things I thought were important enough to capture immediately and save to the abyss of my hard drive. Have any good ones to share? Do you do this too? You do this too, right?

Inspiration and Pics I love

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Recipes

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Apparently Funny at the Time

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To Read

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Fin.

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20 Things that Make Me Happy

Gina dear listed over 20 things that make her happy because she finds joy in life. Then, she asked me what makes me happy, and I’m really glad she did. I am in this place right now where I KNOW I am blessed, but I am tired and out of patience with my charges. So, Gina is forcing me out of my funk, and I like her a whole lot for that. 20 things? I’ve got this.

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  1. Getting packages in the mail
  2. My mom’s pasta salad, chicken soup and fake beef stroganoff
  3. Lemons and limes
  4. Lavender, lilacs, marigolds, ranunculus, succulents, carnations
  5. When Sam points at things and says, “Wussssayyyyt?” (What’s that?)
  6. When I mention that I feel sick and Ellen runs to grab me a bowl. Every time.
  7. An empty inbox that stays that way
  8. Embroidering
  9. Seeing deer standing in an empty field at dusk. So peaceful.
  10. The Glory to God at our parish. Iris? Thoughts?
  11. Rosaries
  12. Having a stack of books I can’t wait to read
  13. Eating at restaurants
  14. When Mike is proud of me
  15. My parents and how much they help us
  16. The mom’s group we found
  17. White
  18. When you paint your nails then get in the shower later and they come out looking even better
  19. My gym membership
  20. Daydreaming about vacations with Mike
  21. Fine, 21. Organization.
  22. Wait, and bags.

And, I tag the whole wide Internet. What is one thing that makes yuh happy?

I probably owe you an explanation?

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things I’ve been working on

Yes, yes. Everything is ok.

I mean, I’m pregnant and hormonal and I’ve got two littles and an anxiety problem. So, I mean, everything is as ok as it can be ;)

I just found that I was becoming overwhelmed and distracted by too many things, and I wasn’t able to give the important things the attention they deserved. So, I decided to take a break. And, I know it was abrupt, but if I didn’t go all in, then it would take me forever to get started.

A little mental vacation is going to be so good. And then, I can come back refreshed and focused on what really matters. A good friend said to me, “I think you’ll look back on this time in your life someday and see it was one of the best things you’ve done. A person can never regret spending time with their family, but almost always will regret spending too many hours with a screen.” Isn’t that so true?

And, if you’d continue to pray for this crazy lady, I would be forever grateful.

Gift from the Sea

Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh (affiliate) is on my reading list. My short list. A friend posted this excerpt from it de udder day, and it just touched me, ya know?

“When you love someone, you do not love them all the time, in exactly the same way, from moment to moment. It is an impossibility. It is even a lie to pretend to. And yet this is exactly what most of us demand. We have so little faith in the ebb and flow of life, of love, of relationships. We leap at the flow of the tide and resist in terror its ebb. We are afraid it will never return. We insist on permanency, on duration, on continuity; when the only continuity possible, in life as in love, is in growth, in fluidity – in freedom, in the sense that the dancers are free, barely touching as they pass, but partners in the same pattern.

The only real security is not in owning or possessing, not in demanding or expecting, not in hoping, even. Security in a relationship lies neither in looking back to what was in nostalgia, nor forward to what it might be in dread or anticipation, but living in the present relationship and accepting it as it is now. Relationships must be like islands, one must accept them for what they are here and now, within their limits – islands, surrounded and interrupted by the sea, and continually visited and abandoned by the tides.”

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This is a lake. I live in Michigan. Sue me.

Mike and I are in a wonderful place right now, but it would be crazy to think that one day things won’t become trying. We’re married, and the way I see it is kind of like the buddy system. Those of us who are called to marriage are asked to pick a buddy to stay with until the trip is over. Even as our feelings change for that person, we are still required to stick with them, and make sure they are safe, accounted for, and ready for heaven.

So, even as feelings wax and wane, we still choose to love that person by recognizing that we are helping him get closer to God. And, choosing to see your spouse the way God sees him may just be the secret to choosing to stay in love.

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