Friday, October 25, 2013

Reading for My Marriage

A few years ago Mike and I went to a marriage seminar. The speaker recommended reading a book about marriage each year.

This is advice I've tried to follow over the last five years of marriage. It's so easy to take your spouse for granted as time goes on, and generally just become more selfish. Often I find myself asking "What's in it for me?", rather than "How can I best love my husband?"

Happy Day - 2008
Below are some books on marriage that I've found helpful, encouraging, and generally a good kick in the you-know-where. The last two (#4 and #5) are my favorites.

1. The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands, by: Dr. Laura Schlessinger
I read this book last month after hearing about it through Leila's post at Little Catholic Bubble: Women: Save your marriage. In five minutes. Dr. Laura is known for her no-nonsense advice. Her in-your-face style takes a little getting used to. The book explains that husbands yearn for acceptance, appreciation, and approval from their wives. It offers lots of concrete examples of how NOT to treat your husband in various aspects of married life (by women who have learned the hard way). I would have appreciated a few more concrete ideas for how to better love your husband. Still the book was very helpful and convicting. Dr. Laura also includes many letters from husbands across the country. It touched me to read the words of so many sweet, good-hearted men who really love their wives, and are craving the same love in return.

2. The Power of a Praying Wife, by: Stormie Omartian
My mom read this book in her women's small group, and sent it to me. First of all, I love the author's first name! I smile every time I see it. True to its title, the book talks about how be a praying wife. First the book challenges wives to become women of prayer, who seek God first. Isn't that really what it's all about!?! Second the book explains how important it is that wives cover their husbands in prayer in all aspects of life: faith, career, decision-making, fears, friendships, health, and many more areas. The best part is that at the end of each chapter there is a prayer to use in praying for your husband.

3. Three to Get Married, by: Fulton Sheen
Fulton Sheen is the best. His writing style is so clear. Sheen presents the beautiful nature of marriage, explains God's plan for marriage, and offers profound yet simple reflection on how couples can fulfill their vocation to holiness. True to Fulton Sheen's characteristic style, the book is full of many one to two sentence quotes that stop you in your tracks and make you think. He also explains how marital love images the Trinity, and how God must be the foundation of every marriage.

4. Love and Respect: The Love She Most Desires, The Respect He Desperately Needs, by: Dr. Emerson Eggerichs
A church friend, married many more years that I, recommended this book a few years ago. I loved it. The basic premise is that women crave love and men yearn for respect. My favorite part is the practical organization and advice of the book. The first section describes specific ways in which women desire to be loved. These ways are based on the acronym COUPLE (Closeness, Openness, Understanding, Peacemaking, Loyalty, Esteem) and provide practical advice to husbands. Second, using the accronym CHAIRS (Conquest, Hierarchy, Authority, Insight, Relationship, S.exuality), the author provides concrete ways for wives to communicate respect to their husbands. The book has lots of examples from the author's life and ministry. Plus there are helpful appendices with even more practical advice. Yay!

5. By Love Refined, Letters to a Young Bride, by: Alice von Hildebrand
I came across this book while browsing in a Catholic bookstore. A lady came up to me and said it was a MUST READ. I agree. The book is a collection of letters from the author to a new wife. Each letter is short (2-3 pages) and to the point, making it easy to read just a few pages at a time. Some of the letter titles are: "Love is a great thing!", "It really hurt when he said that", "Who should sweep the floor?", "Our marriage just hasn't been the same lately", "I thought I knew how to love", and "I've been trying to pray more". I first read it after being married about a year and was amazed by how it addressed all of the little things we experienced in our first year. Paging through it now, I think it's time to re-read it. Definitely one of my favorite books on marriage!!

What are your favorite books on marriage? I would love suggestions for the future!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Running Therapy

I started training for my first half-marathon once we were done with infertility (IF) treatment.

It's something I've always wanted to do, but never wanted to jeopardize our chances of conception by my running.

After four years of infertility, it felt good to hit the pavement and make running a priority. Mike got me an ipod and showed me how to use it (let's just say spending time figuring out technology is not my favorite). What a difference running to music makes!

Race day was great! Despite forecast of rain, the day was sunny and perfectly cool. Fall colors were beautiful along the trail. It was a good run, despite a slight sore knee halfway through.



I can't believe I did it. So excited!



It was a great day, but the ache of infertility and our paused adoption efforts was still there. Does it every go away??? ...I don't know.

I decided to watch a documentary on marathons to inspire myself. One of the runners profiled had been adopted. She was running to raise money for the agency that facilitated her adoption. Beautiful. In the program she visited the adoption agency and shared about her donation. As inspiring as the story was, I couldn't stop the tears.

Also along the half-marathon course there were tons of cute kiddos cheering on their mom or dad. I couldn't help but remember two years ago (two years into our IF journey at the time) when I ran a race in downtown Chicago. After seeing so many adorable little ones with their signs, I promptly asked Mike if he would bring our kids to cheer me on someday. Of course he agreed.

Yet, here we are, two years later, still with no children. Not sure when we ever will.

I hate it when reminders of IF, or sadness over adoption, creep in unexpectedly...trying to cloud a happy day. Even though they tried to rain on my parade, and succeeded for a short while, I didn't let them stay. The race was mostly a lot of fun, and I enjoyed the beautiful day. Mike was also a great cheerleader!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Worn

This has been a rough month so far. Mostly because we found out that adoption is on hold. We hope to try again in a year or two. Right now feeling heartbroken and devastated.

The song "Worn" by Tenth Avenue North keeps coming to me. It is one of my favorites, probably because the lyrics so often echo the cry of my heart in this journey of infertility and adoption. Whatever the cross, I'm sure most everyone has had a time when they've felt "worn."


I’m tired, I’m worn
My heart is heavy
From the work it takes
To keep on breathing

I’ve made mistakes
I’ve let my hope fail
My soul feels crushed
By the weight of this world

And I know that you can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left


Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart
That’s frail and torn
I wanna know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn
Cause I’m worn

I know I need to lift my eyes up
But I'm too weak
Life just won’t let up

And I know that you can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left

Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart
That’s frail and torn
I wanna know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn
Cause I’m worn

My prayers are wearing thin
Yeah, I’m worn
Even before the day begins
Yeah, I’m worn
I’ve lost my will to fight
I’m worn

So, heaven come and flood my eyes

Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart
That’s frail and torn

I wanna know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn
Cause all that’s dead inside will be reborn

Though I’m worn
Yeah I’m worn

Give it a listen on YouTube. And, since Tenth Avenue North is one of my favorite bands, take the time to listen By Your Side. In this song, God is speaking to us, his children. It has comforted me in some very difficult times.


"Jesus, let us see redemption win! Help us cling to you, and our hope for Heaven."

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Our Story

http://www.thiscrossiembrace.blogspot.com/2013/01/adopt-blogger.html

Thank you in advance for your prayers and for reading our story! We are very humbled by the love and support, and blessed to be “Blogger of the Month” for October, as we celebrate our 5-year wedding anniversary (October 3).

We have been experiencing infertility for four years. It has been heartbreaking and devastating to say the least. While dating we often discussed our dreams for a large Catholic family. When we started trying to conceive we eagerly anticipated welcoming our first son or daughter. After a year of trying with no luck, we sought the help of doctors. What followed was three years of doctor visits (some out-of-state), numerous tests, monthly bloodwoork, medications, vitamin supplements, hormone injections, and surgery (for Mary Beth).

We also stormed heaven praying for a miracle. We were especially blessed to take a pilgrimage to Italy in 2011 for Blessed John Paul II’s beatification. 
Every cycle we hoped against hope for a pregnancy. Month after month, our hearts were left empty.

By God’s grace, we have experienced blessings and spiritual growth on this journey. Mary Beth started an infertility support group at church. Mike wrote an article explaining how infertile couples can still image the Trinity through their marriage. Even more importantly God has drawn us close to himself through prayer, the Liturgy, the support of so many. We are learning to trust God more fully, unite our sufferings to Christ’s, and abandon our lives and desires to his providence.

Another unexpected blessing is our embarking towards adoption.


While engaged, we agreed that if not able to have children physically, we would to adopt. We applied in November 2011 and August 2012 to be on waiting lists to begin the process with two different agencies. In the meantime we began spreading the word, hoping to connect directly with an expectant mother considering adoption. This summer we learned of a third agency that did not have a waiting list to start the process. We decided to begin our home-study in July 2013. Once our home-study is approved we will create a profile to be shown to expectant mothers.


It definitely has been a journey to adoption. Romans 8:14-17 has been especially meaningful: 


“For those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a spirit of adoption, through which we cry, ‘Abba, Father!’ The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.” – Romans 8:14-17

We are God’s children by adoption. We can call him “Daddy/Abba, Father”! He has accepted us, welcomed us, and first loved us even in the midst of our brokenness, inadequacy, and sin. He was not afraid to be the first to love. Families built through adoption image God’s love in a unique way. We are excited and hopeful that our future family can be a sign to the world of God’s love for humanity, his adopted children.
We are excited about adoption, but the pain of infertility still echoes in our hearts. Also, there are many unknowns to be resolved and more waiting in our future. So far, our home-study has dragged on longer than we expected. 

Please pray for healing of our hearts from infertility, successful completion of our home-study, and for the expectant mother that will choose us to be parents for her child.  

Mike and Mary Beth