Jaded

Ever since I grew to adulthood,

I hear the echoes

of everyone who told me,

“That’s not real.

That’s a fantasy.”

Most of the time, I silence them

With a wave of the hand,

And maybe a deep breath,

But then,

Sometimes, a wave of grief comes,

My heart begins to ask,

“Were they right?

Does God give us dreams to take them away?

Does He dangle hopes of a beautiful future,

Just to laugh when you are in pain?

There are times in my life when I believe them,

When the hope that God is listening grows as faint as a fading heartbeat,

The ache swells until my chest begins to cave into itself.

I cease to breathe in in terror of reality,

I force myself to breathe and anger overtakes me that God has turned His back.

But He hasn’t turned His back.

He is here when hundreds have told me He doesn’t hear me.

He is waiting for me when I can hear Him through the despair.

He hears me when I cry out in the pain of the skepticism that is our world.

Cast behind you the words of those who condemn you for belief in hope.

Cast behind you the belief that grief will win.

Cast behind you the grief that God doesn’t hear you,

And doesn’t love the real you.

There is a place for you.

Just because you haven’t found it doesn’t mean you won’t.

Use your wounds to heal others until you escape the chains,

And then free the slaves.

Sometimes God answers no, but not when it’s His promises to you.

If you are called to something, He will bring you to it somehow, I believe.

I believe.

I believe.

I believe.

Even here in the darkness.

I believe.

Give Like no one else: Stay at Home Moms

As many of you know, we are doing Dave Ramsey baby steps. We are working so hard, and definitely struggling at this point. What has brought me a lot of hope in our movement forward is turning every single one of my struggles into a hope for the future.

In that vein, I thought I would start talking about those things on here, and the first thing I want to talk about is a way I want to “Give like no one else.”

I was doing my taxes a while back and we didn’t qualify for the child care credit. Why? Because I am our childcare so we don’t pay for it technically. But really? We DO pay for it. We pay a LOT. We paid my entire salary from a job I actually really enjoyed(although not at that place we will talk about that later), we paid in moving from one state to another, we paid in giving up our beautiful perfect apartment because we couldn’t afford to stay there.

The thing is, every stay at home mom is also paying in so many ways, especially in our culture. She is paying in buckets of humility as everyone around her makes jabs about how she doesn’t do enough, she tries to handle the family’s finances and see her own worthlessness in the money spectrum, she may see the other moms on facebook or tv and do her best to give up the longing to feel like a cool mom.

All of this doesn’t even start to touch the moms who would give anything to be a stay at home mom, but can’t and are paying for it in baby kisses, and missed memories. It’s one thing if they are doing something they love and are missing that time in exchange for something else, but many moms are going to work because they have no choice, being treated like crap, and feeling alone and overwhelmed.

All of this to say, my give like no one else for today is the You Are Worth It Stay at Home Mom Grant.

One day, when I make ridiculous amounts of money(I’m working on it people) I am going to fund stay at home moms with as much money as I can,and if I can it will be retroactive-meaning you will be able to get the grant for work you did in the past.

When I have the money, I’m going to have someone do an official breakdown of everything being a stay at home mom is worth, and then add a love tax, and I am going to give that to them for every single year they did it. Who receives it will be based on prayer, because sometimes the ones who need the most have the hardest time asking.

That’s my promise to you-one day stay at home moms, you will get to feel your worth. One day moms will get PAPER! 😉

What my Miscarriage Taught me About Being Christian

Rachel Hollis said, “Everything does NOT happen for a reason, but you can FIND a meaning in anything.” My first miscarriage is the first thing that came to mind. Every time I read “everything happens for a reason,” my heart hardens and grows colder, the hair on the back of my neck stands up, and I become a little bit nauseous.

Why? You ask.

If you are asking, it is because you haven’t experienced something that painful yet.

I am not saying that you have not been through something painful, or that you have never been hurt or understood pain. I am saying that there is a kind of pain, a brand, if you will, that defies reason. It is the kind of pain that your entire body revolts at the fact that it could possibly exist. It is the kind of pain that teaches you what it feels like to question everything.

For me, that was losing my baby girl. For you, it could be failing a test that was really important. For someone else, it could be actually dying. I am not judging levels of pain, but experience of it. It doesn’t matter how big or small the pain is, but what it does.

A couple of months ago, I read a Facebook status of mine from college. It was something about how everything is in God’s plan. I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately, and about how much I have learned.

Christians. You. Can. Not. Say. That.

Not everything is in Gods plan, and that is very very very important.

Christians believe that death was NOT the original plan. Eve ate the apple and so did Adam and the snake screwed up too, but this was NOT the plan. This was ALLOWED, but it was not the plan.

God did not plan for us to watch babies die at the hands of the Nazi’s, or for us to suffer from any number of hormonal issues. He did not plan for us to shoot each other in malls, and schools, and churches. He did not plan for us to be too prideful to apologize to our friends, or to hold grudges. He did not plan for us to be sick for months on end.

God planned paradise for us. He planned a blissful life of lounging amidst a beautiful garden eating all the best the world has to offer. He planned a life of luxury and goodness to each other and ourselves. He planned a life of peace with Him and contentment with everyone else. He wanted us to swim in waterfalls of joy, not to sink in rivers of tears.

It took me a long time to realize this. I had to learn that these every day platitudes were wrong, or at least, not fully right. There were a million things along the way that helped me to learn it. I had to learn that God loves me, that God wants me to be happy(although that’s a daily struggle,) that God hates sadness as much as I do, and I had to let go of my pain enough to see a way forward through it.

That doesn’t mean I’m healed, I’m not convinced anyone ever is. It doesn’t mean I’m perfect, no one is that either. It does mean that I have learned something from who I was and who I became later, and it means that I can bring some good about because of my miscarriage. I can be kinder, I can defend those who are being hurt, I can hold space for those who need it, I can tend to my own wounds.

Most importantly, I have learned two things.

1. Do not tell someone who is in pain that it is in God’s plan, because it may not be, also included in this is never ever say “everything happens for a reason.”

2. The second is a prayer I say now when I am angry at God for something that has happened. “This is not what He wanted either.” I repeat it like a mantra over and over until I can breathe and I can love Him again.

#Checkyourprivilege

The Church was on my list of parishes to check out anyway, so when I realized it had the only Mass time that would work for me today, I hurried to the car. I went back and forth the whole drive over whether it was crazy of me to skip Mass at our home parish, but I hadn’t been to praise and worship in months, and it had been years before that. I started to get a little nervous when I saw the exit I was supposed to take. There was nothing around but power lines in disrepair and a junk yard of cars. It even had the trademark blue jalopy with the orange roof, netted in with the chain link fence that is an immediate warning sign. As I drove I remembered another church that was in the industrial part of town, but in a gorgeous haven inside. Maybe it will be ok I thought.

I started praying as I drove, “God please protect me. Don’t let it be too dangerous of an area. Please don’t let me get infested with bugs. Please don’t let my car, or anything in my car get stolen.”

I laughed nervously when I saw the train tracks. “Haha, I’m literally going to be on the wrong side of the tracks. It could get better on the other side?”

The train passed quickly, luckily, and I drove through a lovely little park. The played ground was a little beat up, but it allayed my nerves a little bit. That was when I saw graffiti on someone’s house.

I had never seen graffiti on someone’s house before. Instantly, a scene played out in my head of a family walking up to their house and seeing it, trying to explain it to their child. It flared red against the grey peeling paint of the house. I saw all of the houses differently after that. I saw fear and lack of safety, and I realized how ungrateful I have been for never having been in a situation like that. I felt like the Pharisee from scripture, “thank you for not letting me like that person.”

I’m ashamed to admit how judgemental I got. There were couches on the front porches, one on the curb, I could feel myself separating myself from “these people.” Then I saw the Church. They were spidery black tendrils wrapped around the stone that seemed to be barely holding itself up. It was contained by another chain link fence, and I was so relieved that that was not the Church I was going to-because it was obviously condemned.

It wasn’t.

It was the Church I was going to.

The parking lot was crowded to say the least, and you could barely call it a parking lot. It was a series of pot holes and piled asphalt so big you could barely tell where the ground originally was. There were no painted lines except in the very back and I got trapped in a corner because the parking lot was designed badly. I grumbled to myself about it, and inner road raged about the other cars that pushed me to know how to get out of my spot.

I walked in alongside a Spanish teenager holding a guitar decorated like a mariachi band instrument. The inside was breathtaking. The stained glass windows in particular were some of the most magnificent I had ever seen. They rose high above the congregation in saturated color bringing life to everything inside. I asked for the location of the bathroom and was directed out of the church to the basement next door.

I had never seen anything like it. The ceiling was low and jagged, the floor slightly uneven. There were areas where stone and rock peeled through as if the walls could not hold back what was here before the Church. The tile was grungy white like my church had when I was a kid, before my mom and our family spent hours scrubbing it to make it look better.

Inside the women bathroom, the ceiling was large lumps of hard plaster that hung so low that I had to bend to get into the stall that couldn’t lock. I hurried as fast as I could to finish. Only after did I realize that there was no sink, and went looking for one only to find it in the main basement space next to a washer and dryer. The hand dryer was suspended on a stone wall, someone had scrawled on it “this works.”

I went back in to the Church and sat down to wait for Mass to start. Mass was in Spanish completely. I guess that made sense since I was the only white person there, but I was too annoyed by it, now what? I was going to have to sit there in silence and pray while the Mass went on around me. To be fair, I hated Latin Mass when I was a kid and it felt like that all over again, so I probably over reacted because of that, but still I would like to be excited to see different cultures Mass styles.

The language barrier left me free to think and observe throughout the Mass. I couldn’t focus on actually praying. I gazed into the gorgeous stained glass windows, but squirmed in disgust at the smell of mold rising from the burgundy vintage carpet. I watched the families thinking how cute they were, but also thinking how they just wore normal clothes. They wore the kind of awkwardly shaped outfits that thrift stores have to give. I simultaneous thought, they are so poor this is all they can afford, and maybe this is what I am supposed to be like. Maybe I should figure out how to just be happy with shabby worn out clothes.

It occurred to me that I was on such a high horse, like I was better than them because I don’t shop at goodwill, or because my Church is so beautiful, or because I kept thinking about how good I had it. I became a swirl of thoughts and emotions.

Well, Mother Teresa talked about how loving the poor are to each other, maybe my suffering is just different from theirs because I’m so lonely.

Maybe we are supposed to be poor so we can love each other as much as they do.

Some people would say it was their fault they are stuck at a church like this. Couldn’t they go to my Church too? Why would they come here?

Maybe they don’t have cars and they don’t have a choice.

Oh my gosh I am so judgemental.

They are all duh better Catholics than we are.

They are just normal people.

I used to hang out with more people, since when did I sound like such a racist?!? I love Mexicans!

They are just normal people.

Why does it feel so much like a Latin Mass? The Spanish church in Dallas didn’t feel this way.

At communion, the priest said something, and then a small percentage of the congregation went up and received communion. I ran through scenarios of what he might have said, but I dared to go up for communion anyway. Most of the congregation remained in their pews. I still can’t wrap my mind around that. It seems absurd to think that they would all think they were in mortal sin. I had never seen anything like it. In every Church I have ever been to, almost everyone goes up for communion.

By the end of Mass, I had realized that I was coming up against my privilege. I was face to face with a completely different culture, and realizing what I did and didn’t have. I was seeing my discontent as completely absurd, but I needed to work forward better. I wanted to be just one of them, but at the same time, I thought of them as something other than myself. I wanted to think of them as people just like me, but I was suddenly so aware of the divide, and of how completely I did not understand them or their lives.

Finally, I resorted to prayer for them, and for myself, that I would know how to love these people, but not pity them, how to help them, but not to make them feel like less. I tithed more than I ever do, because it was all I could think to do. I wanted to restore their Church, to remodel their bathroom, to rip up the awful carpet, but I couldn’t. It occurred to me that if I were to do that to the Church, it could skew the value of property in the area, so I would rather help the whole neighborhood a little bit, than remodel just the Church, or they could end up feeling out of place. It could be such a sweet area, if someone had the money to help them.

The more I see places like this, the more grateful I am for what I have had, but simultaneously I learn more about what I don’t have. I hope that one day through everything my husband and I are doing to help ourselves financially we can be there to help others too. I hope that I rebuild every low income area I can find. I hope I can remodel the lost places. I hope I can give to all people a sense of home when I talk to them, and treat them all as equals, no matter how different their culture is.

What the New York Abortion Bill Means to Me

When I found out I was pregnant with Emma, my husband walked away from me, went upstairs and blared slipknot. I trembled downstairs in fear.

When I was pregnant with Emma, my husband and I fought every single day. These were not little, meaningless spats. They were screaming arguments, “How are we going to pay for that? How are we going to take care of her? What are we going to do?” We would scream at each other for hours and break down into the kind of sobs that take over your whole body, and your guts come out through your eyes.

It never stopped. Every single day we erupted in terror at the only person we could talk to about it.

We were Catholic. There were no options. We were stuck, and we were screwed. We had no insurance because we couldn’t afford it, but because we were paying rent we couldn’t get Medicaid. We didn’t have our own house. We were living in a tiny bedroom, sleeping together in a twin bed as I grew enormous in a matter of weeks. My mom has always said that using NFP meant that you didn’t really trust God, and I had had virtually no sex education so it didn’t occur to me how quickly you could get pregnant, if you were married(obviously you get pregnant if you even think about having sex if you aren’t married.)

Our marriage was ruined, we had no idea how we would survive, or how she would. I was terrified of hospitals, and we couldn’t afford one anyway.

I had fleeting thoughts of wishing I would miscarry, but I could feel her. She was present in me and I knew her, but I couldn’t stand the pain of knowing that she would always be afraid because we couldn’t provide for her.

It got so bad that I considered abortion. Not fully, not seriously, but for a second, I thought about it. It is almost impossible for me to admit that as a Catholic.

Later, I don’t even know how it happened, but one day I realized I was reading a how-to on committing a natural abortion. I think I may have been searching for vitamin safety during pregnancy, and then saw this article and was so shocked it even existed. I had been taking a ton of vitamins that weren’t safe to stay healthy while I was so run down, and again, for a split second, I thought, “What if I just kept doing it?”

It couldn’t be a sin right? It’s just taking a vitamin, for my health. It’d be an accident. I’d like to think I didn’t mean it, but I was so scared.

We lost her a week later.

In the most horrifying, tragic moment of my life, I miscarried our honeymoon baby.

I don’t know if it was the vitamins I was taking unknowingly, the lack of sleep, the exhausting work I was doing, the stress, or just my body’s inability to form the baby correctly, but whatever it was she was gone. She IS gone.

There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t feel some repercussion of losing her. She is my butterfly effect proof. She is everywhere. She was all over my periods every time I questioned whether they were miscarriages or not. She was there every step of my pregnancy with my rainbow, and my double rainbow. She is there when I check my babies breathing at night. She is there when I hear stories of women losing their children. She is in me still, even though she’s not for anyone else.

I cannot believe now that there were moments I did not want her. Now, I would give anything to take those moments back, to have her back. I was so scared, and I try not to blame myself, but losing a child, whether it is your fault or not, is the worst thing that can happen to a woman. It is the greatest pain that you can imagine, and it isn’t healed by time. The thought fades, thankfully, but the grief never does.

In the face of the New York bill, what I want to say to you, is that you do not know what these women are feeling. A woman who is losing her child, has lost her child, or could lose her child, is in a kind of pain that you cannot imagine if you have not been there. There are women who are pro-life who have held their own children lifeless in their arms, and they cannot stand the idea of another child being lost. There are women who are pro-choice who have faced the worst nightmares and had to ask “what do I do?” No matter who you are, you do not know what is in the hearts of who you are against. You do not know what drives them.

So? You ask. What do I do with that information? Find out. Learn from the pain of others how to address problems in a way that helps everyone. Ask the mom who is contemplating abortion what she needs, and help her find it. Start a fund for women who are struggling. Be compassionate. If you are pro-choice, ask the pro-life women what are they worried about, what is wrong with the bill? What do they want?

More than anything, tell your story, tell it as loud as you possibly can, until you are heard. Stop telling everyone else what’s wrong with them, and speak your truth.

Ecstasy

Have you ever felt so much pleasure that you thought your entire body might explode?

Have you ever stopped being intimate because you were afraid you might not be able to handle what was coming?

Have you ever submitted completely only to be racked by a painful pleasure that just won’t stop?

If you haven’t, you haven’t experienced all that the orgasm has to offer.

If you haven’t, you can’t understand Teresa’s expression in the statue called Ecstasy.

If you haven’t, then you haven’t yet had the best sex of your life.

I know, because I told an older married woman that I didn’t like sex, and I didn’t believe her when she told me:

“It gets better.”

Losing My Virginity

Losing my Virginity

“About an hour after the first time I had sex, I woke up in a cold sweat. I was so nauseous I thought I was going to be sick, and I couldn’t breathe. I laid in a dark hotel room thinking I was going to die.

I remember first walking into the hotel room and consciously keeping my smile on because the hotel was not what I had imagined. It was the kind of hotel teenagers sneak to to have sex on prom night, dirt in the corners, everything a little bit rundown. He kept talking about how amazing it was, and I kept smiling. Now, he wasn’t awake, and I was, and all I could do was exist in my fear and this crappy hotel room.

I woke Patrick up, and told him I didn’t know what was going on. He was such a sweetheart and turned over to hold me, but it got worse. I left and went to the bathroom. I took labored deep breaths in one of the tiniest wooden bathrooms I have ever been in, second only to my childhood friends’ RV that didn’t even leave room to turn around. When I looked up out the door there was the glass shower door where we had tried to have shower sex, and my stomach clenched. I felt faint.

I think I need to eat something.” I said when I came out of the bathroom.

My husband got out of bed, in the middle of the night, on his honeymoon, to go to McDonalds. I needed comfort food, and he would go with me. By the time we got to the drive thru, I was shaking, and my stomach had butterflies in it the size of Mars. They were beating their wings against the side of my stomach and I was starving but felt like vomiting at the same time. I kept trying to breathe, trying to calm down, but I just ended up telling my new husband, “I don’t know what’s wrong with me.”

He said I needed protein and water, so he got me a burger and a couple of waters. He listened to me panic and ask him to turn different ways ten times on the way home until I asked him to stop the car at a park. I stared at the grass from inside the car, curling into myself. I shook so bad I could barely open my water. Most of the conversation is a blur, but the first thing I do remember is the moment when he told me, “A lot of women have a hard time the first time they have sex. They have been told no for so long, that they feel guilty when the answer is finally yes, even though it is technically ok.”

The amount of relief I felt when he said this, changed me as a person forever. For the first time, I realized that the way we, as a society, as a religion, as a planet, as families, address chastity is not only wrong, but dangerous. I had read theology of the body, and learned the beauty of Christian Marriage, I thought, but it didn’t prepare me for the insignificance of sex, the banal nothingness of it, and the soul shifting guilt and confusion of enjoying the “wrong” parts of it. Sex was everything and nothing I had expected, and I couldn’t handle the mind shift that was happening. I don’t remember the rest of the conversation, or even the drive home, but I do remember the moment we got back to the hotel. I sat on the hard 70s pull out sofa and breathed. I realized I had leftovers in the fridge that I could’ve eaten, and was paralyzed by guilt about it for a few minutes. We talked about guilt some more, and about how all that was wrong with me was the terror that I was going to Hell now, and I needed to just breathe and be patient with myself. Shortly afterward, my husband pulled me into the bed with him, and with him spooning me and breathing deeply, I was finally able to fall asleep.”

Meadows and Flame

I’m coming to you once again today,
Naked of soul in child’s innocence,
Robed in lavish scarlet of latent love,
And dying for just one moment of truth.

Years of whispering to the night sky,
Yield to the flit of a deer’s flaming tail,
Turning to defy bloodied hunter’s hands,
At the iminent threat to her romance.

The flames beyond beckon her forth
In fear and jubilation’s mysteried threat,
A monster or a dream far, far too perfect,
Driving her into the abandoned meadow.

Flit fair doe for flaws are waiting-
Faint, for the weary road you trod ends not.
It goes on, for the one not stout enough of heart,
The one not willing to sacrifice herself to either flame.

Plato’s Soulmates

You were the one who told me of creatures
Split in two for being too powerful.
You were the one who conjured me seer,
And filled my recognition overfull.

But in the moment you scorned the story,
Highlighting what Plato said that denied
The magnificence of this love-majesty.
Yet it returned to me in love revived.

As we two met in the moonlit star night,
I recognized your soul and my own twain,
Tangled and wrapped in darkness’ self sight
You came to mine, and you loosed my chain.

Each word emitted, now embraces my soul,
For time decreed that you and I must go

Away, and for this time I sometimes mourn,
Though I wish to wish only what is here.
But what twisted between us and was born
Became in me a new sight, made me hear.

So you have melted into what I live now,
Tangling into webs the blackened trees
You’ve never seen, so tell me just quite how
Your breath is what into my soul life breathes.

Fear comes with this life I find solely in you,
For somehow, I find life in Him as well,
But I hope, and ask if all we are is true,
Or if our eternal song has passed its swell.

 

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