Thursday, December 19, 2013

7 Quick Takes...a little early

Here's a little update on life:

1. Work is C.R.A.Z.Y. We are going through a merger, which means A LOT going on in December and January. After the last few weeks of going in early, staying late, and stress, I have so much admiration for those who work long hours on a regular basis. Can't wait to get back to normal hours in a few months. On the bright side, after the merger I will have an exciting new position.

2. Advent is here. I'm trying to make the most of Advent, but its easier said than done. At church hubby and I are doing an 8-week study on prayer called Oremus. It requires about 20min of prayer time (ie. homework) every day. So far, the homework is helping me get my prayer time in before work. Also I made a simple Advent wreath with some garland and ribbon. It only cost $6. The sad part is that due to differing work schedules hubby and I haven't had dinner at home together since I made it, so it hasn't gotten much use. I have lit it some evenings.

3. My birthday! It was my birthday last Saturday. Since IF has become a part of my life birthdays have been rough, but this one wasn't. Yay! I've been so busy at work that I haven't had much time to think about that fact I'm getting older, but still have no kids. My birthday was a Saturday, which meant NO WORK! ...Hubby and I went downtown Chi.cago to a vintage Christmas market, and to mass at St. John Cantius. St. John Cantius is a b-e-a-u-tiful church!! They offer mass ad orientum, meaning that the priest faces the altar during the consecration prayers. It was my first time, and I loved it.

4. My littlest sister's 13th birthday. It's so fun being the oldest of 7 and having a little sister almost 20 years younger than me. Last time I was visiting my parents (we live 3.5 hours away) we did facial mud masks together. I am going to surprise her this weekend and take her to the Melting Pot for fondue. I made her a Minion hat, which she requested, and got her the another present she wanted: perfume from the band One Direction. Oh my! ...She is sooooo cute!

Two of my sisters and I doing mud masks.
I didn't realize until I started it how many different colors are required.
5. Movies. I don't watch much TV (except NFL football, Go Packers!!!), but lately I've had fun watching movies during Christmas preparations. Plus after working so much, I feel like I deserve some down time. Last week I watched Little Women while wrapping presents. This week I watched While You Were Sleeping while working on Christmas cards. I think I might have to make this an annual tradition.

6. Is.real. Hubby and I went on pilgrimage to the Holy Land in November. It. Was. Amazing. The trip was a whirlwind. I still can't believe all that we saw. During the trip it was sometimes tough to pray, because we kept moving from one place to another. Still it was incredible to see where Jesus walked and talked, and get a feel for the geography of the Bible. My favorites were praying the Stations of the Cross along the Via Dolorosa, renewing our baptismal vows in the Jordan River, floating in the Dead Sea, and praying at rock of Golgotha in the church of the Holy Sepulcher.
Along the Via Dolorosa
On the Mount of Olives, overlooking Jerusalem
7. Milk Grotto. One other highlight of the Holy Land was praying at the Milk Grotto in Beth.lehem. Tradition is that Jesus, Mary, and Joseph took refuge here during Herod's slaughter of the innocents. While Mary was nursing, a drop of milk fell to the ground, turning the grotto white. Mike and I prayed for the miracle of children, and also for all couples going through IF.

Milk Grotto
That's what I've been up to lately.

Everything is still on hold with adoption, and that remains tough, but I'm feeling grateful for God's other blessings. This summer we are going to try with a new agency, so hopefully something will work out.

Peace this Christmas!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Advent Prayer

It's Advent! A beautiful season, but also a tough time of year. I really do love all the preparations for Christmas! ...the hope and joy in the air, the beautiful Masses, times for prayer, tree decorating, baking, Christmas cards, and time with family and friends. 

Ever since infertility became a part of our life, Advent and Christmas are also bittersweet. So many of the Christmas preparations and activities are focused on children...which we yearn for, but do not have. Four years in, it hurts to realize that this is yet another Advent/Christmas (and birthday for me) where we still have no children.

Last Advent my dear friend Jen shared this beautiful prayer with me from Seeking the Lamp blog. Please read the short post here. Seeking the Lamp experienced infertility for quite a while, adopted four children, and gave birth to twins this year. 

The prayer is this: 

"Jesus, if your nativity is the only one I ever have, it is enough for me. Thank you for my poverty, because without it I wouldn't know that you are all I want."

As Seeking the Lamp explains: "I admit I hesitated before I willfully prayed the prayer. I knew it meant that I accepted never having babies on our own, that it meant I accepted our third child's death [through miscarriage]. But I think the Holy Spirit gave me another nudge and gave me the strength to pray it. It was a Christmas prayer full of pain, but so much joy, too. It remains so."

Wow. At first I did NOT want to pray that prayer. But the more I read it, and reflected on it, the more I realized I needed to pray it. I need to surrender, I need to realize that Jesus really is all I want, or at least all I "want to want." 

This past year my heart softened. I found myself praying that little prayer throughout the year. It was a concrete way for me to pray for the grace of surrender and abandonment, and to give my little "Yes" to God on tough days.

Now that it's Advent again, I realize still have a loooooonnnng way to go. But, I'm so grateful for this prayer to help put infertility in perspective, and to help me pray that Jesus' nativity really is "enough for me."