Tuesday, August 15, 2017

St. Michael's Lent and Novena for Our Nation

     I'm going to be honest, I don't really keep up with any news, except for the little "trending" tab on my Facebook sidebar. Even so, it seems liken there is an increase in all sorts of violence being reported. At the same time, I've been feeling a call to "fast", to do something to combat the evil and win mercy for souls. I've been at a loss, though, as to how to accomplish a fast, since breastfeeding requires I actually eat, and I typically don't have any special foods I eat frequently enough that giving it up would actually be a sacrifice. God is timely, though, when we seek His Will, and this post about St. Michael's Lent which St. Francis of Assisi observed came up in my Facebook news feed on Saturday, as did one for the Rosary Novena for Our Nation, and I knew I had my answer. 

     While I (and many others) cannot fast from food, there are definitely things I can fast or abstain from. Like Facebook, again, and Pinterest, as those are my two biggest time suckers, as is mindlessly browsing on Instagram. I have been having a lot of cheesecake in an attempt to boost milk supply, so I will actually be able to give up sweets, for the first time in forever, once the cheesecake in the fridge is gone. Back to the time wasters, though. There's still going to be that time that needs to be filled, and I'm going to fill it with the Rosary Novena (link on how to do it), spiritual reading, blogging, and going to bed earlier. I will still be posting to Facebook from Instagram, but won't log in unless I have a blog post to share. I literally just ordered a kitchen rosary from Sweet Oak Gallery on Etsy to help with the rosary praying. (The one I got. M. Teresa's been speaking to me a lot lately.) 

     I think there was something else, but I can't really remember. Please consider joining me, and thousands of others, in offering up something for the welfare of souls, and peace in the world. I know I handle my daily sufferings and annoyances so much better when I have an actual and concrete thing to offer them for. Even if you can't commit to the rosary or something big, even just offering one of the small, everyday things once a day from the Assumption (8/15) to the Feast of the Archangels (9/29) can have untold benefits. 

Saturday, January 28, 2017

#March4Life2017

     I wasn't able to go to the March For Life this year, but I was able to listen to the last few of the speeches while cutting sweet potatoes, which I then proceeded to not cook. Anyway, I liked a lot of what I heard, mostly. Maybe I don't fully understand the purpose behind the March. Maybe it's just supposed to be a show of numbers, of the people who oppose abortion in our country. Maybe it's not to make persuasive arguments as to why we are pro-life and anti-abortion. If that is the case, then my objection is no issue at all. However, if we are trying to change minds and hearts, then I think we should stop "God bless"ing everything, and stop "Jesus is Lord"ing, and stop praying for the conversion of specific people during our speeches. No, I don't want to erase God/Jesus from the March, but I have family, friends, and people I follow who identify much, much more with the reasons for the Women's March, and their hearts are not being swayed by the religious talk. Quite the opposite, actually. Our message is being drowned out by the insistence on bringing God, specifically the Judeo-Christian God, into everything. It's fine if you are able to say "Abortion is wrong, and I know it because the Bible/the Church/my Faith says so", but we need to remember not everyone has the benefit of the supernatural gift of Faith informing their life. To me, that is the part we are missing. We seem to assume that "Jesus talk" is the quickest and most powerful way of changing hearts, because we already see with the eyes of Faith, so it all makes sense to us. To someone without that grace? Badgering them about the right thing to do because God said so just causes them to stop listening. We need to focus more on the natural reasons why abortion is wrong, good scientific and philosophical reasons, and let God quietly do the rest. There is nothing we can do or say to change the mind and heart of someone who is not yet ready to accept our message, and it is all too easy to do or say something which hardens their heart more. If it is true that we are living in a post-Christian age, then our approach is going to have to change to reflect that, and appeals to matters of Faith will only become more and more irrelevant and useless. We need to meet them where they are, on the solely natural plane. Maybe then, will our message really be heard. 

Friday, July 8, 2016

Remember Who The Enemy Is

     As Christians, our worldview boils down to God vs Satan, Good vs Evil (lack of goodness). But, I think, we lose sight of that, and that's the way the Devil likes it. He gains power by separating, sowing discord, dividing, cutting off. He worms his way into our lives in the form of comparison, self-doubt, critique. He destroys our ability to see other people as people like ourselves, delighting when we can only see the "other", the not like us part. He wins, when we no longer see him as our common enemy, but think the other person is instead. And we tear each other down, rip each other apart, in an attempt to build ourselves and our side up, and he laughs, because we can't see how it destroys us in the process. 
     I've been noticing a trend, lately, that focuses around building each other up. The Girls Gone Strong community, focusing on strengthening the whole person, and not just the body. The Momastery community, full of Love Warriors. Others, too many to name, looking to find common ground amidst the division being sown among us. Loudly proclaiming that the only way to end the cycle of violence is to project love and peace, starting with those closest to you. What's more, these are overwhelmingly secular voices. The Gospel is gaining ground, even though many in religious circles might beg to differ, and many non-believers as well. "Love your enemy. Do good to those who persecute you." (Matthew 5-ish, paraphrased). The hearts of the secular world are stirring; it is no wonder that unrest and violence are growing. Satan sees it, and he is afraid. Why do you think there is such confusion and discord amongst the Church? He is losing his grip on the secular world, so it makes sense that efforts against the Bride of Christ would be redoubled. 
     But what of us? What do we do, when it seems that our only recourse is to draw the line in the sand of us vs them, and stick to our guns? When it seems that the only sure way to win is by completely obliterating the other? Stop. Breathe. Pray. Remember that this "other" is not the real enemy - Satan is. This "other" is a person, just like you, who Satan is using as a weapon, a human sword as it were. In battle, the fight is never with the sword, though it may seem like it. Once the weapon is out of the enemies grasp, the good warrior ceases to fight it, for it no longer has the power to harm. Instead, efforts are focused on defeating the living enemy. Don't lose sight of who the real enemy is. The Devil is using God's Children to do his dirty work. People Christ poured out His Lifeblood for, who He loves with an infinite and intense Love. In everything that happens, don't forget that. These people are not the enemy - Satan is.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

"But, I'm Not An Angry Person!" Part 2

For the messy, raw Part 1, click here. If you'd rather skip and focus on what I have been doing to manage my depression, please continue reading.

     So we muddled through until Little Miss was born in August. I decided to have the placenta encapsulated this time, but I don't know taking it helped any or not. We decided to start with learning to track my fertility with the Creighton model of NFP, and began the end of October. While it isn't certain what causes postpartum depression, it has been speculated that hormonal imbalance is a plausible cause, and Creighton seems to be the best way for us to see how my body is functioning. We are blessed to not only have a good instructor reasonably close, but a NaPro trained doctor in town as well. Our instructor was able to give us a referral to the doctor, who was able to get me in to see him in November. And that really is a bit of a miracle, considering how busy he is. We had my hormone levels tested, and when the results came back normal for how far along I was postpartum, we decided to supplement with the generic version of Zoloft. He also recommended talk therapy, because being rejected by girls when I was young left me more deeply wounded than I thought. Honestly, we were just chatting as he was looking at my intake forms, and saw that I had Italy and Ireland down in the foreign travel section. I told him it was with the Christendom Rome Program, and he asked how I liked the place. Being honest, I told him it was really great academically, but really awful socially, considering the people I thought were my core group of friends abandoned me Thanksgiving break freshman year with no explanation. He found that very interesting, and proceeded to ask "Do you get a long better with guys or with girls?" Guys. Second question I don't remember exactly what it was, but similar vein. "Were you rejected by your female peers when you were younger?" Yes. (I'm tearing up as I remember.) "I think that's the root of your depression." Anyway. The rest of my prescription included exercising 20 minutes a day, spending time outside, and play dates. Yes, play dates. He said when women talk with each other they release oxytocin, which is one of the "feel good" hormones, and can do a lot to lessen stress, anxiety, and depression. I started therapy with the psychologist he recommended later that month, also a fantastic person. I'm not sure why I've been given such amazing people to help me through all of this. 
     My dosages of antidepressant were on the low side, and the doctor said that, generally speaking, they ought to be used to help the brain get used to feeling "happy", and when "happy" becomes the new default setting, the meds can be dropped. I weaned off mine in April (will document experience later). I've been rather stable since, once the withdrawal effects wore off. Up until last week, anyway. I've been an burrier of "bad" emotions for so long that learning to navigate them is a bit rough, to say the least. I plan on writing a post dedicated to my experience with therapy at a later date. For now, though, I recommend it. Being able to talk to someone who won't judge you and doesn't know everyone you know is wonderful. It removes the fear of gossiping or destroying another's good name, while also providing constructive feedback and perspective. 
     My fertility chart has been a typical breastfeeding one, with no indication of hormonal imbalance, which is good. We are getting much more outside time with the warmer, and sunnier, weather. It seriously rained all but a few days end of April into mid-May. My diet has been decent. We've been getting out to see people, and even hosting play dates. The only things I'm not good about are getting to bed before midnight, and exercise. And feeding my introvert. I stay up late because it's our only time without children. Every time I try to get up earlier than the kids for a workout and quiet me time I give myself a sinus infection. Hopefully on the tail end of one now, actually. And nursing baby who has no interest in a bottle is preventing good, restorative alone time. And change is hard and I'm really good at using the kids as excuses to not do things. But we are getting there. I am moving forward, oh, so, slowly. 
     Hopefully you will find my experience to be useful in some way. The first step - actually seeking help - is the toughest. Don't let fear keep you trapped. Some people have called me brave for being as open as I have about my journey, or other things in life, saying they would be too afraid to do something similar. It's not that I'm not afraid, because I am, often. But what they might not realize is that bravery is not acting without fear, but acting in spite of fear, or, as I prefer, hand in hand with fear. You don't have to struggle through this alone. Many of us have been there, and we are more than willing to help you get out.