Sunday, December 27, 2009

NFP- Say it loudly, say it proudly!

The Holy Family

Today on the Feast Day of the Holy Family, I decided to do a blog directly related to family. Since you get enough about my pictures and happenings of my family, I'm writing about a very important, yet very misunderstood, and even less talked about topic. NFP--it stands for Natural Family Planning. Well, here I am, saying it loudly, and saying it proudly- NFP is beautiful and if you are married, you don't want to miss out on the best tool God has given you to strengthen your marriage.

Until recently, my husband and I had little knowledge of the beauty of NFP (because of the aforementioned reasons). Although we practiced it, we were unaware of the virtues one can grow in when using it, and unaware of how it enables God to strengthen your marriage by leaps and bounds with grace filled intimacy and genuine romance.
And for your reading enjoyment, here is a list taken directly from Dr. Popcak's Holy Sex showing just how great NFP is:
  • NFP is the shared responsibility of a husband and wife (unlike contraception)
  • facilitates communication between them about each others' bodies
  • requires a husband and wife to continually talk and pray about their priorities and keeps in play discussions about becoming or being parents
  • is completely natural with no side effects
  • has been found again and again (particularly in the Creighton Model) to be over 99 percent effective)
  • keeps lovemaking fresh and exciting by building in little breaks for the couple to work on their overall marriage
  • requires the couple to focus on relationship and romance rather than just habitual sex
  • can even be an extraordinary useful tool for helping couples to intentionally conceive (in fact, ob/gyns use modified forms of NFP as a first-line treatment of fertility)
To learn more about how NFP can transform your marriage, read, Love and Responsibility by John Paul II, (Karol Wojtyla). Or, a less intimidating book, Holy Sex by Dr. Gregory Popcak.

NFP is not contraception (artificial or otherwise). If someone says they practice NFP, yet in the same sentence says, "We are not having any more children- two or three or however many is our 'perfect' family. This couple/individual is probably using NFP as contraception. Rather, NFP is always life giving. Besides being open to life each and every month by prayerfully discerning God's will for your family on whether or not to have any more children, NFP enables a couple to meet the spiritual, emotional, and physical needs of each of the family members. Even couples who have passed the time of having more children can use NFP to be life giving in generous service to others.

Contraception, on the other hand, is not life giving. Aside from the fact that certain kinds of contraception being abortifacts, it also kills the love between a couple. Love is not love until it is (fully and completely) given away. A couple practicing contraception can not give of themselves because their holding back one of their most precious gifts- his/her fertility. For more information on the Church's stance on contraception and NFP: Read Pope Paul VI's Humanae Vitae:

A couple who practices NFP recognizes that the Sacrament of Marriage is a holy gift given by God and it is only God who can decide the will of the Family because only God knows best. So, the next time I get asked for the millionth time how many children I want, my response is still the same, "As many as God wills." (if you think this means I'm going to willy nilly be a baby producing machine, reread above paragraph on "meeting the spiritual, emotional and physical needs of current children")

For more information on how to use NFP, here are a couple links to two different kinds of NFP- the Creighton Model:
and the Sympto-Thermal (couple to couple league):

Friday, December 25, 2009

A Christmas Blessing

As I write this Christmas, I am filled with the gratitude that only God can supply. Not only am was I blessed this Christmas with the gift of a wonderful husband, children, and all other family and friends, but I am blessed this Christmas with the gift of Jesus' love and mercy.

I am embarrassed to say that I have been trying to get to confession for the past 9 months unsuccessfully. I like to go much more frequently, but with the only confession time of Saturday afternoon in my old church during which my husband was still sleeping since he worked nights, it made it very difficult to organize a trip for Mommy to get out the house without the kids. Believe me, I planned a trip to confession on those Saturday afternoons probably a dozen times, but every time something happened where so and so was not able to watch the kids because of this or that, or something came up where we could not go even if my husband woke up early. Sure, I should have been more diligent about it, and I guess my flaw in this all was that I was not making confession my number one priority. When we moved to our new home, our new church had 4 different times during the week where they offered confession. It was top on my mind when we moved, but I put it off until the house was in somewhat working condition. I made three attempts to go to confession during these new "convenient" times. First time: confession cancelled. came back home disappointed, but hey, more time to prepare my conscience. Second time: Confession cut short because of some event in the Church. Came back again disappointed. Third time: sat in line for an hour and a half. Was the third from the front of the line, when I had to go because my husband had to go to work. This time I was sure there were other forces at work keeping me from confession. I thought, maybe I should schedule a time with a priest. But then in this busy Christmas season, I was sure they'd all be too busy. I decided to try once more. The LAST day of confessions before Christmas was on Wednesday night. I got there early this time and there was still about 25 people in front of me (and about 50 behind me). One of the priests made a comment that everyone had waited until the last minute, and I tried to humbly agree as I hoped I wouldn't get that priest for my confession. Two doors open at the same time- the annoyed priest, and one whom I had met before. I chose the latter. He was very kind and understanding, and gave good advice--a true model of Jesus' loving mercy. I left with the proverbial "veil lifted from my eyes" The clouds of sin were cleared and I could once again see clearly. I did my penance, thanked God and left renewed. My prayers seem that much more grace filled, and my thoughts more lifted to God now that he gave me the most precious gift of a good confession. I believe that was my Christmas gift from Him this Christmas, and I hope I never take it for granted again. He knew what I needed- as always.

Merry Christmas to you and your families. May God Bless you richly- in only the ways that He knows how :)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Snowed In- Day 4

Yes, today is the fourth day I have not left my house. I'm not one of those people who go crazy if they're stuck inside all day, so I'm actually fine with it. I've gotten a lot done, including my new website (it's close to being finished!) Don't worry, it will have the same web address.
Here's the summary of our life at home:
  • Snowed In- day 4 (if I don't get out tomorrow, I'll go crazy)
  • Boxed Meals- day 2 (one too many...)
  • Snow Plows on our road- 3 today (not one did any good- see next point)
  • People who have gotten stuck on our road- too many to count (even after the snow plows today) Liam was enthrawled with the first snow plow.
The snow was very wet and melty today, so Liam and I tried to make a snowman.

We didn't get too far because I couldn't lift these heavy balls! Maybe tomorrow my husband can get them stacked.

Here's my little snow princess out for the first time in the snow. She cried after sitting here for more than a minute while I was trying to get a good picture. Definitely not a Minnesotan! And those snow plow drivers- definitely not Minnesotan! I guess there are some things I miss about MN... besides my family :)

Daddy's Girl

I am happy to say that my daughter is a Daddy's Girl. After all, my son is so much a Mommy's boy, it's embarrassing at times ;) Analee lights up whenever she sees Eric, loves to cuddle with him, or will just crawl over to him just to be near him. She often sits by the bathroom door when Eric takes a shower- just waiting for him to open the door- or trying to open it if he hasn't shut it all the way. Here she is waiting like a little love sick puppy.

Finally, she says, Daddy's back!

It's so stinkin' cute, I had to share it with you :)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Snowy Day- fun, but NOT for everyone!

Record breaking snow fall hit Virginia the last couple days and what fun it was- also what a pain it was (for my husband who still had to go and work!).

Liam really enjoyed the snow as you can tell by the pictures. He couldn't wait to get out and play in it! Then came back in twice for hot chocolate :)
Since my husband works weekends, we usually go to Mass on Saturday night. We shoveled our way out of our driveway, (as much as we could), then tried backing our Volkswagen Pasat out onto the street. I no more than got, "boy, we should receive special graces for going to Mass in weather like this," out of my mouth when we got stuck. Thankfully some kind people driving past our house in a big pickup truck helped push us out. We made it to Mass and were about one in ten families there. This was very unusual since there are usually hundreds there!

My husband left early for work that night, and got stuck in traffic 10 miles from our house for 6 hours!!! Poor guy! A tractor trailer tipped and blocked the whole road. It took him 8 hours to get to work last night.

Since the road by our house is not a major one (even though a crazy amount of cars fly by all day and night to avoid a long wait at the signal...) our road was not cleared even today. Eric again got stuck trying to come onto the road on his way back from work. I'm pretty sure he received some special graces for his patience in his hardships yesterday!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Fourth Week of Advent

It's almost the fourth week of Advent, so I have to get an Advent theme blog in before it's over! I love Advent. It's my favorite litergical season, yet I find it the most challenging. At least during lent, there's required fasting, but Advent always seems to fly by without too much spiritual progress. However, it's still my favorite. I love to light the Advent Candles at dinner time, I love to tell my son about the Nativity Story, I love to stare at our Nativity Set beneath the Christmas tree, and I love the idea of "slowing down and remembering what's really important", but I find it so hard to do! One thing I have tried to keep in mind this Advent is the thought that Baby Jesus needs a place to stay- not just 2000 years ago in Bethlehem, but he needs a place to stay in my heart. My job is to cut out all the clutter in order to make more room for Him.

My prayer has been this: Jesus, show me what is not of you in my life and give me the grace and courage to get rid of it. I want to make more room in my heart for you. Come Lord Jesus, Come!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Nativity Bead

Every so often, I have to remake a bead when I run out of my current supply. I'll try to post pics of my remakes so you can see how a bead is made. The last few days, I've been remaking the Nativity bead. People often ask me how I how I make this one especially. I guess it looks more complicated than the rest. It really isn't compared to the Mary bead!

So, here's my play-by-play:I first make the figures our of white clay. Then I wrap black clay around each figure.
I fill in the spaces with more black clay to make it into a rectangular shape
I added a star, white border, then filled it in with more black clay.

After rolling and stretching the bead, I sliced the canes into mini nativities.
Of course, I couldn't have done it without help...
I'm just taking a cue from Santa and enlisting the help of a little elf in my workshop.
Ok, two elves.
Analee woke up early from her nap so I tried to keep her occupied while I worked by letting her play with one of her Christmas toys (pretty sure I'm going to be put on the naughty list for that one!) . As you can see, she finds much more joy in playing with Mommy's toys.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Get your popcorn ready. Here's a little treat for you on the Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe. I haven't seen this film, but I found this on Youtube. I just might have to check it out...

"Let not your heart be disturbed. Do not fear that sickness, nor any other sickness or anguish. Am I not here, who am your Mother? Are you not under my protection? Am I not your health? Are you not happily within my fold? What else do you wish? Do not grieve nor be disturbed by anything."
(Words of Our Lady to Juan Diego)

NEW Product!

I am so excited to announce my new line of necklaces! In honor of the Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, I made four different versions of Guadalupe Necklaces. The necklaces are made of the same Guadalupe bead that I make for my rosaries, but I made it bigger. I wire-wrapped the pendant and made a funky couple of swirls on the bottom of Our Lady's Dress. Our Lady of Guadalupe is so colorful that I had many choices for complimenting strands of beads. My favorite is the multicolored strand with the extra string of turquoise beads. It's so cool looking, I definitely have to make one for myself when I get some more beads. I had so much fun making these necklaces, I feel guilty for selling them!

The only thing is that I only have the four available right now. I used more glass bead than I thought I would, and ran out! When I get more in stock, after Christmas, I will have them available again.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Feast Day of St. Juan Diego

Today is the Feast Day of St. Juan Diego (and also my mother's birthday). I wanted to include in my blog something about this saint who is so closely related to my work- especially my recent Mary bead. I appologize for not having a post for yesterday- The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception- twas a busy day!
This is taken from the Vatican website:

When he was 50 years old he was baptized by a Franciscan priest, Fr Peter da Gand, one of the first Franciscan missionaries. On 9 December 1531, when Juan Diego was on his way to morning Mass, the Blessed Mother appeared to him on Tepeyac Hill, the outskirts of what is now Mexico City. She asked him to go to the Bishop and to request in her name that a shrine be built at Tepeyac, where she promised to pour out her grace upon those who invoked her. The Bishop, who did not believe Juan Diego, asked for a sign to prove that the apparition was true. On 12 December, Juan Diego returned to Tepeyac. Here, the Blessed Mother told him to climb the hill and to pick the flowers that he would find in bloom. He obeyed, and although it was winter time, he found roses flowering. He gathered the flowers and took them to Our Lady who carefully placed them in his mantle and told him to take them to the Bishop as "proof". When he opened his mantle, the flowers fell on the ground and there remained impressed, in place of the flowers, an image of the Blessed Mother, the apparition at Tepeyac.

With the Bishop's permission, Juan Diego lived the rest of his life as a hermit in a small hut near the chapel where the miraculous image was placed for veneration. Here he cared for the church and the first pilgrims who came to pray to the Mother of Jesus.

Much deeper than the "exterior grace" of having been "chosen" as Our Lady's "messenger", Juan Diego received the grace of interior enlightenment and from that moment, he began a life dedicated to prayer and the practice of virtue and boundless love of God and neighbour. He died in 1548 and was buried in the first chapel dedicated to the Virgin of Guadalupe. He was beatified on 6 May 1990 by Pope John Paul II in the Basilica of Santa Maria di Guadalupe, Mexico City.

The miraculous image, which is preserved in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, shows a woman with native features and dress. She is supported by an angel whose wings are reminiscent of one of the major gods of the traditional religion of that area. The moon is beneath her feet and her blue mantle is covered with gold stars. The black girdle about her waist signifies that she is pregnant. Thus, the image graphically depicts the fact that Christ is to be "born" again among the peoples of the New World, and is a message as relevant to the "New World" today as it was during the lifetime of Juan Diego.

I especially like the last paragraph about the black girdle and Christ being "born" again. Very good meditation- epecially for this advent season we are in.

St. Juan Diego, Pray for Us!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Christmas Music

Frequent Christmas music is a must for the Christmas/Advent season. And who better to get me into the Christmas spirit than Jewel! She's by no means a Christian music artist, but she's been one of my favorites since her first album debuted when I was in high school. When her Christmas album came out a number of years ago, I had to get it. I was so surprised to hear her sing almost all Christian songs- and even a Catholic one (Ave Maria)! Now every year at the start of the Christmas season, I bust out my Jewel and she sings- as only she can sing- my favorite renditions of Christmas classics over and over again. Here is my favorite song on the album: