Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Is NFP Good?

In all the recent furor over NFP and the wonderful campaigns to make it accessible and relevant to a new generation of women, I have found myself wondering: is NFP, in and of itself, a Good?

Some Catholics have been saying we should try to market NFP to non-Catholics, saying that even getting them off the Pill is a start! Others resist this and say we need to promote NFP for what it is: Catholic teaching on sex, marriage, and the meaning of being male/female. I really didn't chose a camp, until I was pushed.

The more I kept thinking about promoting NFP to non-Catholics, trying to make it less radical, the more it seemed repugnant to me. If we promote NFP minus Catholic teaching then what we're promoting is FAM (Fertility Awareness Method), which is basically NFP + condoms + contraceptive worldview. What I think this is missing is that no one is writing essays about how FAM helped their marriage, elevated their dignity and helped them understand their purpose and the meaning of sacrifice in marriage. No one writes that about FAM because that's not its purpose; that's the purpose of NFP. So if we begin to market for FAM, are we really selling a false bill of goods, hoping that eventually the people will tire of yet another false idol and come asking for the real thing?

NFP shouldn't just teach you how to avoid pregnancies. NFP should teach you how to discern a pregnancy, how to communicate with your husband, to respect your marital bond and bed as holy, and how to welcome life because God is the ultimate author of it.

I don't think NFP is Good unless we teach it as NFP. Teaching FAM does not liberate anyone because we are not preaching Truth; Truth is what sets people free. Not information, not knowledge - Truth! It is great for women to be able to chart for general health reasons - it enables them to have greater knowledge about their bodies, helps detect possible problems earlier, and allows women to make educated decisions about their healthcare. But what it doesn't do is liberate them to realize who they are as eternal creatures created by a God that loves them so much He died for them. And that is what makes NFP Good.

I get what a lot of people say about "meeting people where they are." But I was a contracepting, pre-marital sex having, non-Catholic and I benefited not from people saying, use natural BC!, but from people saying - there's a better way of love and life. I realized believing it all would take risk and would mean a change in my whole life, but I also realized that it was worth it. Why aren't we giving people the chance to realize that it's not just their method of birth control we want to change, but their whole lives?

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Appearance of Jesus

In the accounts of the Resurrection that we have from the Gospels, we see that Christ appeared first to the women, but then over some time, to greater and greater groups of people. From the Apostles in the upper room, to the two men on the road to Emmaus, Christ appeared to each in time, to confirm what they were hearing from Mary Magdalen: He is Risen.

Easter was here a week ago, and will continue through Pentecost, yet I have not been feeling like an "Easter people." It did not seem that Christ had appeared, not to me. I saw and felt him at the Easter Vigil, but once the night was over, doubted my own eyes. Still being mostly without female companionship and tired, I missed my parents as soon as they left on Easter Sunday and although I was glad to get the week with Mr. Oram, I was disappointed that my 12th week of pregnancy was not bringing me instant energy.

And then He appeared to me. He began to whisper to me on Friday, telling me He had need of me, kept gently tugging on my heart on Sunday, but I didn't truly hear Him until today. Today He said to me, I have people who are in need of you and I will give you the strength to minister to them. Today He appeared and said, you must be my mercy to a hurting world. Today, for the first time in three months, I felt someone needed me. Two friends are struggling and asked for help; two teens came to me and sought counsel. I was able to help, I had something to give.

I tried to express to one of the friends today - it is a blessing to be able to help, to be asked. If you are in a situation where you are hurting or need your Christian community, please reach out. You never know who you are blessing by asking them to bless you. Christ appeared to me today, and just like Mary Magdalen, I ran to show others. I was able to go to others and offer them Christ, and that has revived my soul such that I cannot express! I came home tonight and cleaned my house - for the first time in three months! I had the energy, the joy, and the sense of sacrifice to offer my housework for my friends, for my husband, for reparation for my own sins.

This may seem so small, but today, tying on that apron, and scrubbing the sink, I wanted to yell with joy. When Jesus appears to me, it becomes a blessing to serve.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Reality Check

I took Mr. Oram to work this morning at 6:30am, so that I could have the car for the day until I came until work later. Couldn't get back to sleep when I got back, and so for the rest of the day as I've done my work (sung one Mass, worked on next year's youth ministry budget, planning for tonight's youth ministry meeting), I've been thinking "oh I'm so tired, oh I'm so achy, gosh I wish I could go to bed, I hate that my husband has to work weekends" and on and on and on.

Then I got the chance to talk to one of my teens. She's in tears as soon as she sees me and tells me what's going on in her life. It's painful, horrible stuff - soul-forming, gut-wrenching really grown-up type of stuff. It's the same kind of horrible things I had to face at her age, that I swore I would never let my kids face at her age, that I have dedicated a small part of my life to trying prevent youths from experiencing at any age. It broke my heart.

Me in college with two of my best guy friends, pre-Catholic

I'm so proud of her for coming to Mass today, even though what she wants to do is stay home and shut out God forever. I'm so proud of her for talking to me, even though she probably didn't want to hear what I might have to say. I'm so proud that when I said, "this Church is your family, will always be your family," her response was a smile and a nod and "I know."

Thank you, Jesus. Thank you for Divine Mercy Sunday, for bringing that teen here today, for providing that sweet child of yours a chance to hear your message that your Love overcomes all sins, all fears, all obstacles, even death. Thank you that I have left my former life behind, that I'm no longer a lost 19 year old looking for truth amidst lies, that you have brought me to a place of healing, redemption, and peace. Thank you for my husband and the child in my womb, because these were dreams I cherished in my broken heart even at my worst.

My reality is Good. I can only bear witness to what Jesus' saving power and press deeper into the heart of our Wounded Healer.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Just a Word -

It's late, I need to go to bed, my husband's calling my name because he wants to say our prayers and drift off, holding hands, like we're wont to do -

But I have to tell you. I have to tell you to read Stephanie Nielson's book, "Heaven is Here."

My only disclaimer? Bring tissues because it will move you. Unless you have major issues with Mormons, in which case her book might bug you. But I love me some Mormons (not theologically but I swear I always end up being close with Mormon people), and this woman is just the best.

This kind of book is the best kind - the kind that makes you want to be better, but even more - makes you believe you can. And! it doesn't ignite that spark of envy at all (which I am particularly susceptible to). She's so real and beautiful and blessed. Her tragedy shook me to my core and has made me realize how grateful I am for my silly little life. It's not hokey, it never comes across as fake, it's just Good.

Do yourself a favor, bless yourself by reading this book! And happy Divine Mercy Sunday!

Friday, April 13, 2012

You Say It's Your Birthday?

It's true. Today is my birthday.

To be fair, it's a bit of an anticlimax, because my wonderful darling Mr. Oram gave me my present on Monday (he can't wait - neither can I - we have impulse control problems, thank God we don't gamble). I got a beautiful lovely MacBook Pro! I'm thrilled, and so so blessed. Since my old computer died, I had been fretting about how to study for the Bar (I'm doing online classes) and been feeling isolated, since everytime I wanted to blog or send an email, I had to either go into work or ask my husband if I could borrow his computer when he was home (when all I wanted to do was spend time with him). This is a huge blessing. Thank you Apple for selling refurbished computers!


I have so far discovered my favorite part of this Mac, which is Kindle for Mac. Even though I have a Nook, not all eBooks are available on Nook - nor are they very cheap! And I have Amazon giftcards, not Barnes and Noble. So it's nice to be able to go back and forth between the two devices, reading what I can on both (and of course all my print books, which take over my house daily). 

With this, I finally read local girl Kelle Hampton's book (now #11 on NYT Best Seller List!) Bloom. I like Kelle's blog and was interested to learn more about her and her journey with this book. I thought there were great parts about it, and I was happy to read a honest account of how a person deals with  discovering their newborn has Down Syndrome - that at first, it's not treated like good news, even though you love your child so much. 

But at the same time, I was disappointed that Hampton felt the need to begin her book with talking about her parent's divorce, which came about in no small part because her father is gay. She writes about the hurtful things people in her church said about her father, how they warped her relationship with him, and how in the end she ditched church and went back to loving her father. I'll be the first one to talk about the problems that churches have in their treatment of gay people - it's most often wrong and at worst, sinful. But I have a problem too with people who write off the entire concept of "organized religion" because of their experience with their one parish. Of course, it's her experience and her book - but I was sad that she started this way because for the rest of the book, I resisted being drawn into the story. It was a really bad first impression - and I'm not sure why it was necessary. Was she trying to connect acceptance of her father to acceptance of her daughter? That link wasn't made very explicitly (or maybe I'm just dense), so it felt like putting that huge chunk out there, right at the beginning, instead of letting it slowly come out through the telling of the rest of the story, was like this huge disclaimer: BY THE WAY I TALK ABOUT GOD BUT I DON'T LIKE CHURCHES OKAY? Okay, okay - I get it! Thanks. 

I'm getting ready to start Stephanie Nielson's "Heaven is Here." Have you heard of this woman? I don't know how I haven't before today! She was in a plane accident with her husband, suffered major burns across 80% of her body, and had to learn how to love her life again. She's a mother of four and part of that cadre of Mormon mommy bloggers that has astounded the world, and I fell in love with her today. I'm betting her book will be awesome. 

Later today Mr. Oram and I will be heading over to Ave Maria town for a chant conference (like liturgical chant...Gregorian...that kind of thing). Tom calls it my birthday present, because I do enjoy Ave a lot. I'll be glad to get away, even if it's just for a night. Besides, since it's my birthday, I have every excuse to go crazy in their bookstore...and they have plenty for me to go crazy over! 

I hope you all have a blessed weekend and a fabulous Friday the 13th. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Thank Goodness for Parents

So I took a while off from my blog, because I realized that I was unhappy.

Not like, in a funk-I'm-pregnant-and-grumpy unhappy, but a deep discontentment with myself unhappy. I needed to take some time and look at that, even though what I wanted to do was put my fingers in my ears and say "la la la la, not happening!"

My mom came to visit during her Spring Break, the week before Easter, and finally had a sit down with me on the back porch. She gently took my hand and asked, "how are you really doing?" I couldn't for the life of me remember the last time someone had asked, and I broke down in tears. Out came pouring everything that usually runs through my head at night: that I feel horribly guilty for not enjoying being pregnant, that I hate the condition of my home because messiness to me is unallowable when I'm a stay-at-home wife, that I don't know how to enjoy my life when  I feel so useless and exhausted, all the time.

This is not a condition of being a SAHW, but more a condition of being pregnant and overwhelmed by my own neediness during this time. I'm not used to needing to nap, not being able to eat, getting dizzy easily, or any of the other pleasantries of the first trimester. For some people, maybe they'd take these changes with ease; I take them like Nancy Kerrigan getting hit by that jerk with a collapsible police baton: "Why? Why? Why meeeeee!"

Both of parents came up for a long Easter weekend, Holy Thursday through Easter Sunday and it was perfection. They cleaned my house - not just slightly cleaned, but super clean! We didn't get to every room, but the main rooms were covered and our bedroom (which had begun to resemble a shanty town). I can't express the absolute peace in knowing that if a clean a small corner of my house, it matches the rest, instead of just making a tiny dent in the dust pile.

I am beyond grateful. Between my parents and Tom's parents a couple weeks earlier, my house resembles a grown person's home, and not a decrepit frat house. I don't have a plan for how to stay on top of it in their absence, but since I'm 12 weeks today, I'm hoping that soon this phase will pass and I'll be feeling energetic and nest-y.

I hope you all have been well - any tips on getting by while pregnant would be greatly appreciated!