Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Jeweler's Shop


My book club just read The Jeweler's Shop, a short play written by Karol Wojtyla, Bishop of Krakow (later to become Pope St. John Paul II). I just finished it, albeit a month late. It's only 75 pages but I think I had a pretty good reason for my delay! :)

It. was. so. good.


JPII has a special place in my heart. So many of his writings have formed me, especially his Theology of the Body and reflections on the meaning of love and what it means to be human. I told Mike it felt like I was reading something written by an old friend. JPII pray for us, I miss you!!!

The play is a reflection on the meaning and existence of love in three different marriages. JPII writes "with insight, and at times with great power, about human love; love that has survived the grave, as in the case of Andrew and Teresa; love that has withered and died, as in the case of Stefan and Anna; love budding out of complexes, doubts, and uncertainties as in the case of Christopher and Monica. There are no easy solutions, there is no happy ending. But there is hope, if only we can reach out of ourselves, see the true face of the other person, and hear the signals of a Love that transcends us" (from the introduction).

A few lines were nuggets that I want to preserve for my own record. Hope you enjoy them too!

"Love is not an adventure. It has the taste of the whole man. It has his weight. And the weight of his whole fate. It cannot be a single moment. Man's eternity passes through it. That is why it is to be found in the dimensions of God, because only He is eternity." - Adam, page 43

"In the Bridegroom's face each of us finds a similarity to the faces of those with whom love has entangled us on this side of life, of existence. They are all in him." - Adam, page 49

"Love is a constant challenge, thrown to us by God, thrown, I think, so that we should challenge fate." - Christopher, page 61

"Sometimes human existence seems too short for love. At other times it is however, the other way around: human love seems too short in relation to existence - or rather, too trivial. At any rate, every person has at his disposal an existence and a Love. The problem is: How to build a sensible structure from it? But this structure must never be inward-looking. It must be open in such a way that on the one hand it embraces other people, while on the other, it always reflects the absolute Existence and Love; it must always, in some way, reflect them." - Adam, page 73

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

How You Can Help

Thank you for being so excited for us and for caring so much about our sweet Lucas and new family of three! 

Many people have been asking us how they can help.

Adoption brings with it certain unique expenses. Our adoption costs are just over $30,000 and you can read more about our costs here. Anyone wishing to help can contribute through the links on the right-hand sidebar of our page (Paypal or tax-deductible through AdoptTogether).



Thanks a million for all of your love and support during these exciting times. Please continue to keep Lucas, his birthfamily, and us in your prayers!

Monday, November 23, 2015

We have a son!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Welcome to our family Lucas Adrian!




On October 9th we received an email from a wonderful family that was considering making an adoption plan for their precious Lucas.  The birth-family is from the same area that we grew up in, so they heard about us through several different mutual acquaintances.  God was really at work in bringing our two families together!

We instantly fell in love with Lucas.  He's so adorable and has the best personality.  He's almost always happy, he wakes up smiling, and has no problem around new people.  He just melted our hearts.  We visited Lucas and his family nearly every weekend leading to the adoption to get to know them, and to let him get to know us.




Lucas has been so blessed to come from a wonderful and very loving birth-mother.  We're in constant awe of the decision she made to give her little boy a mom and a dad.  The rest of the birth-mother's family is also amazing.  Lucas has had so much love before he came to our family, and you can just tell it by looking at him.  One of the best things about an open adoption like ours is that Lucas will grow up knowing not only our family, but also his birth-mother and her family.  The more people to love him, the better!

There were some ups and downs along the way.  Truth be told, it was a real roller coaster for everyone as some legal issues needed to get sorted out and sometimes looked like they might not.  We enlisted the prayers of family, friends, many priest friends we know, a whole monastery of monks, and the whole heaven of saints and angels.  God heard our prayers!  On Friday, November 20th, the court hearing occurred, and Lucas became our son.  Our first full day with him, November 21st was National Adoption Day.  Today, November 23rd, he is seven months old.

We're getting used to being new parents.  Spit-ups, less sleep, diapers, and all that.  We're nervous and thrilled, terrified and ecstatic all at one.  We would't trade it for the world!  We're in Wisconsin living with Mike's sister's family until inter-state issues allow us to return home to Illinois.  We're using this time to let Lucas get to know us, and to visit family and friends.



Thank you all for your prayers and support.  Now we ask that you please focus your prayers on Lucas' birth-mother and her family.   As we rejoice, this is also a time of mourning for them.  They love Lucas so much, and it's because of this love that they wanted him to have a mom and a dad. He'll remain a part of their lives, but in at a different way now that is not the same.  It must be that a part of their heart has been broken.  Please keep these loving, generous people in your prayers.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

St. Philomena

Yesterday we asked friends and family to pray for a special intention through the intercession of St. Philomena.  Today Mary Beth found this on her car.  Thanks to whoever did this!!!


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Prayer Request

Hey everyone!
Can we ask all of you to pray for a special intention related to adoption over the next couple of weeks?
We're especially seeking the intercession of St. Philomena.
Thanks!

SAINT PHILOMENA

We beseech Thee, O Lord, to grant us the pardon of our sins by the intercession of Saint , virgin and martyr, who was always pleasing in Thy sight by her eminent chastity and by the profession of every virtue. Amen.

Illustrious virgin and martyr, Saint Philomena, behold me prostrate before the throne whereupon it has pleased the Most Holy Trinity to place thee. Full of confidence in thy protection, I entreat thee to intercede for me with God, from the heights of Heaven deign to cast a glance upon thy humble client! Spouse of Christ, sustain me in suffering, fortify me in temptation, protect me in the dangers surrounding me, obtain for me the graces necessary to me, and in particular
(Here specify your petition).
Above all, assist me at the hour of my death. Saint Philomena, powerful with God, pray for us. Amen.

O God, Most Holy Trinity, we thank Thee for the graces Thou didst bestow upon the Blessed Virgin Mary, and upon Thy handmaid Philomena, through whose intercession we implore Thy Mercy. Amen.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Except for the Lord

A pic from our trip to the U.P. last fall

We sang "Come to the Water" at mass this morning.

The lyrics really hit me, especially the two lines at the end of each verse.

Why should we pay the price? Why should we spend our lives? How can our souls find rest? ...Except for the Lord!

What a comfort that our lives are worthwhile and our souls can find rest because of the Lord.


O let all who thirst
Let them come to the water
And let all who have nothing
Let them come to the Lord
Without money, without price
Why should you pay the price
Except for the Lord?

And let all who seek
Let them come to the water
And let all who have nothing
Let them come to the Lord
Without money, without strife
Why should you spend your life
Except for the Lord?

And let all who toil
Let them come to the water
And let all who are weary
Let them come to the Lord
All who labor without rest
How can your soul find rest
Except for the Lord?

And let all the poor
Let them come to the water
And let the ones who are laden
Let them come to the Lord
Bring the children without might
Easy the load and light
Come to the Lord

Monday, October 12, 2015

Adoption through Jesus Christ

Part of Mike's work for the parish is providing content for a site the parish runs called the Fisherman's Net.  His latest video deals with adoption and how we are adopted sons and daughters of God the Father.


Monday, August 24, 2015

A Special Thank You

A great big thank you to all our family and friends who have been so wonderful in reaching out to us in the last week.  We are so blessed to be surrounded by such loving and supportive people.

A special thank you to our friends Kate and Debbie who pitched in to help us when we got home from visiting family.

And a great big thank you to everyone who has been praying for us, and for those who contributed to the spiritual bouquet we found waiting for us at home.  It means a great deal to us and we are so grateful for you all.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Story of Ben

Benedict John Paul David, Born August 17, 2015
I wrote this Friday, August 21, 2015 about 36 hours after our sweet little boy left my arms.

My heart aches to hold him, our sweet Ben who was in our lives for 36 hours.

Here is the story of how he came to be ours for just a short time but will be in our hearts forever.

Monday

It was a typical Monday. I left work for lunch and went to visit a friend and bring her a Wendy’s frosty. When she didn’t seem to be home I decided to stop at our apartment and share the frosties with Mike. I glanced at my phone before driving home and saw that our social worker (sw) had called. When I walked in the door of our apartment Mike was on the phone with our sw and waving me to sit down. I could hear him talking to her about a baby being born.

A birthmom picked us to be the parents for her child!!!  She was heading to the hospital because of bleeding. Birthmom wanted a totally closed adoption and didn’t want to meet us or see baby. She felt it was just too hard for her. Birthmom was from Poland and hadn’t told anyone she was pregnant. Her grandmother and sister lived in the area, but even they didn’t know she was expecting. It made us sad that we wouldn’t get to meet her and that our child wouldn’t get to have birthmom in his or her life.

Thinking about our baby being born, we were overjoyed, shocked, excited, ecstatic, and totally amazed. I went back to work for the rest of the day but could hardly concentrate. I tried to organize things with the thought of being out for a while. The whole time I was thinking and praying for birthmom and the little baby waiting to be born. 

Our sw called at 6:00pm and told us birthmom’s water had broken and she had received an epidural. We called our parents and siblings to let them know. Our niece was so excited over the phone, it was beautiful. Mike and I were excited, but also quite in shock. It seemed surreal.

So many things to get ready! We had no baby stuff in the house at all.

We went to get a stroller, car seat, and pack 'n play. Mike got the book, “What to Expect During the First Year”. It was pouring rain as we went from store to store. While out and about we talked about ideas for baby names. We stopped at some dear friends who lent us their pack 'n play and some baby clothes.

At 10:00pm our sw called to let us know a little baby boy was born and ready to meet us in the morning! He was 7lbs, 3oz and 19.” Born at 37 weeks. We were overjoyed!

Mike and I made a list of our favorite boy baby names and settled on “Benedict John Paul.” We planned to call him Ben.

It was so hard to fall asleep knowing our little baby was all alone in the nursery at the hospital. I wanted him to be in my arms. I wanted him to know he was loved. It broke my heart thinking that our baby was waiting for us, but we couldn’t be there to hold him.  

While we were lying in bed Mike played the song, “With Arms Wide Open” by Creed. In the past it always made him sad, but finally, tonight, it had a happy meaning.

Tuesday

We started Tuesday with Mass. After Mass we told our pastor that we were going to meet our future son. He was so excited for us, having walked with us along the road of infertility for the past six years. He prayed a blessing over us in the sacristy.

Then we were on our way to the hospital! The drive was only 45 minutes but way too long in my opinion. I was so impatient. We got there around 10:00am.

At the hospital we waited for an hour or so before paperwork was signed allowing us to meet baby. 

We met the doctor and nurses who were taking care of him. When we met the nurse she said, “I have been taking care of Ben this morning.” That was the first time I heard someone else say Ben’s name and I choked up immediately.  

We walked into the nursery around 11:30am. It was a special care unit, kind of like a NICU, but less intensive. When I saw Ben for the first time my heart swelled. The nurses put him in my arms and I saw Ben’s beautiful, sweet, precious face for the first time. He was perfect. He had the most beautiful dark hair, chubby cheeks, and adorable “rosebud” lips. I couldn’t stop gazing and loving.

There were a few other babies and their parents in the unit. I was self-conscious about talking too loudly but I told Ben he was beautiful and that I loved him. Then I just held him. And Mike held him. And I held him some more. It was bliss.

We had lunch around 3:00pm and came back to hold Ben. The other babies had been discharged so we had the nursery to ourselves! At that point the sw told us that his birthmom wanted to come hold him. We were so glad to hear this! Initially when birthmom hadn’t wanted to see baby it made us so sad. We wanted her to meet her son, hold him, and see his sweet face. We wanted her heart to heal and have closure. At the same time we were also quite nervous that once she saw him she would change her mind.

We left the nursery and went to the lounge to wait. Our phones were dead so we sat there and waited and stared into space. It was the longest hour and fifteen minutes ever. Finally we got to go back to the nursery. We heard that birthmom’s visit was emotional but very good. Despite our nervousness we were very glad that birthmom had visited Ben. In Illinois a birthmom can sign papers 72 hours after baby is born. Since Ben was born at 8:00pm on Monday, she could sign at 8:00pm Thursday, allowing Ben to be ours.

We cuddled our sweet little boy for a few hours more. We talked to him. He got the hiccups and they were adorable. Mike blessed Ben on the forehead with the sign of the cross.

At 7:00pm we left to go buy blankets, bottles, and diapers. We also wanted to get a gift and card for birthmom. Mike found a precious necklace with two diamond stones (a big one and a little one) surrounded by a silver circle. The caption in the gift box said, “Whether we are near or far apart, we are always together in one heart.” It was perfect.

Friends and friends of friends offered to start pumping for us so our little boy could have breastmilk. Mike set up the pack 'n play and I cleaned out cupboard space for bottles.

Wednesday

Wednesday morning our sw called to say that birthmom wanted to meet us. Birthmom told our sw she was “100%” for adoption. We were excited and nervous to meet her. What a blessed opportunity. 

We wanted to thank her for giving her son life and for choosing us to be his parents. We wanted to invite her to be a part of Ben’s life. We got to the hospital at 10:00am and held Ben for 20 minutes. 

Then we had to leave the nursery so birthmom could have some time with him before she met us. Holding Ben for only 20 minutes that morning was way too short. I didn’t want to set him down. It was so hard to leave the nursery.

We went into the waiting room and waited to meet birthmom. I was out of my mind nervous. What would I say? How could I show my love and admiration for her? Would she like us? Would she change her mind after meeting us?

Our sw and birthmom finally came in. I saw birthmom, hugged her, and started bawling. She was crying. I was crying. We hugged each other and just bawled. We sat down and told birthmom how much we admired her. We told her that her son was beautiful. We asked her about her pregnancy. We told her how grateful we were. We told her that her love for her son was so beautiful. That we loved her son so much. That it was so hard to leave the hospital the night prior without him. We gave birthmom our email addresses and told her we wanted Ben to know her. She was so sweet and quiet. 

We could tell she loved her son so much. In between her tears and our tears we gave birthmom the necklace and card. She seemed so grateful and touched. She started crying even harder when she read the caption. We told her that we picked the middle name, “John Paul” because we heard she was Polish and Pope St. John Paul II was also Polish. We asked her if she had any ideas for a middle name, because we would love to include that. She said she would think about it. After about 20 minutes birthmom was ready to go. We took a quick picture with her and hugged and said goodbye.

What an emotional but incredible morning!

We went back to the nursery to hold our sweet baby. The nurse told us that while holding baby birthmom had commented that “He will have a good life,” [by being adopted by us]. That was encouraging to hear. Our sw called and said that birthmom seemed in a much lighter mood after meeting us, like a weight was lifted from her shoulders.  While walking out of the hospital she was joking and smiling. We felt so grateful and blessed.

We spent a few hours holding Ben, ate a quick lunch, and got back to the nursery to find out that Ben was ready to come home! We were overjoyed! The nurses gave us some instructions and basic supplies to get us through the first few days. We quickly set a pediatrician appointment for the next day and put Ben in a cute outfit borrowed from a friend.

Then we packed up our sweet little boy and were on our way around 4:00pm.

It was an amazing feeling to be taking our son home! On the drive home our sw called to tell us that birthmom had been calling baby “David” and wanted to suggest that as a middle name. Of course! The name David was high on our list from the start, so “Benedict David” was perfect.

We made a quick stop at Goodwill to look for a rocking chair and dresser. Our nephew met us there to see Ben and “pinch his cheeks.” What a sweet moment. While we were standing at Goodwill Mike commented, “Why aren’t there any strangers coming to tell us how adorable our baby is? Aren’t strangers supposed to come say hi?” 

After a few minutes a lady came over by us to see our baby. She told us how sweet and cute he was. Mike gave her a hug and told her that she was officially the first stranger to tell us how cute our baby was. We made one more stop to pick up some donated breastmilk and made it home by 5:45pm.

We couldn’t believe it. We were home with our baby.

Our pastor sent us a lovely “It’s a Boy” flower bouquet.

I sat on the couch and just held Ben skin-to-skin with a blanket around the two of us. I was in love. Mike came to bless Ben with special holy water from Epiphany Sunday. So proud that Ben had such a good father.

Mike cleaned the house and organized the baby stuff. Then we switched places. Mike held Ben. I organized and emailed to set up newborn photos.

I loved hearing Mike cuddle and sing to baby. The only thing he could think of to sing was “The River” by Garth Brooks. My heart melted. Mike told Ben all about the dissertation they were going to write together. He promised to teach Ben MLA citation style and how to footnote.

A friend stopped by to bring us headache medicine (hello no sleep!) and hand sanitizer. She also gave Ben his first baby gift, a super cute outfit and diapers. We told her Ben would wear the outfit on his first outing to the pediatrician.

Around 10:30pm I started getting ready for bed. We made plans for who would take the “night shifts.” My phone was charging and I checked it before going to bed.

I had the following text from our agency director:

“Mike and Mary Beth, if you get this message tonight would you call me? Don’t worry about what time it is. Birthmom has been texting sw since about 6:00pm, has hold her grandmother about the baby and does not feel she can move forward with signing papers. We don’t want you to go on through the night without knowing this. I am so sorry to tell you this in a text. Feel free to call me.”

Our hearts sank. 

We were crushed.

The sweet little boy that we fell in love with was being taken away from us.

I called the agency director. She said we could keep Ben until morning or they would come get him tonight. I told her to come now.

I hung up the phone and completely lost it. I was a hysterical blubbering mess. Over and over, through the tears, I kept saying, “I don’t want to give him back, I don’t want to give him back.” And to Mike over and over, “I don’t want you to go through this.” It broke my heart to think of Mike hurting as much as I was. Mike was holding Ben and I was standing crying with my arms around them both. Then I collapsed to the ground and cried and yelled and cried and screamed.

Then I took Ben from Mike and held him and gazed at him and cried and told him we loved him. Mike lost it as soon as I calmed down a bit and started sobbing too. We were a mess.

I gathered up all of the stuff the hospital gave us: formula, diapers, wipes, pacifiers, footprints of Ben, etc. and put it in the bag. My. heart. was. breaking.

We waited two hours for the social workers to get there. They arrived at 12:30am and needed to borrow our car seat to take Ben to his mom. When they walked in the door I started sobbing again. It was awful. I didn’t want to give them Ben, so I just stood there. We all stood there. Me crying and holding Ben. Them looking at me. I couldn’t just offer him to them. I didn’t want him out of my arms. After an awkward silence I knew they weren’t going to take Ben from me, so I put him in the car seat. It was so hard to do. We buckled him in. Our agency director said a prayer for everyone and they left with our baby.

A piece of my heart walked out the door.

I never knew it was possible to fall in love so hard, so quickly. I always thought I wasn’t a “newborn” person. I always thought it would take me awhile to get attached. Not true. I was smitten and in love. 

Ben will always hold a piece of my heart. As much as I understand and respect birthmom's decision, my heart still hurts.

Exhausted we went to sleep.

Thursday

In the morning we knew we couldn’t look at our four walls with all the baby stuff around us. We got in the car and went to Wisconsin to be near family. We cried and talked on the drive. We realized that Ben had only been in our life for a short 36 hours. It was enough time to win our hearts.

We spent the next few days grieving with family. Being in Wisconsin was healing. We have the best family and friends. I am so amazed at the outpouring of love and support and prayers from people near and far.

Friday

We stayed at Mike’s sister and brother-in-law’s home on the lake. They are so generous. I sat in the chair facing the water all day until 3:00pm. Praying. Journaling. Writing Ben’s story.

Mike’s mom told us that “Love is never wasted.” I know she is right. As hard as it was to love and let go, I know it was worth it. We got to hold our sweet boy for just a short time, but we were there for him when his birthmom couldn’t be. He touched our lives in a way we could never imagine. For that I am grateful.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Seven Quick Takes: Essential Oils, Flower Arranging, and Free Time!


Visit Kelly at http://thisaintthelyceum.org/
Still here and finally have time to catch a breath! Here is some of what I've been up to this summer:



1. Test = Over!!!!!
The past 15 months have been an intense time of class several nights a week, a big paper, and a six-hour certification examination. During my studies I somehow amassed quite a collection of pink school supplies. It feels soooooooooooo good to be done. Looking back, I haven't had a weekend off since February. First I was working weekends during tax season, then I was studying every night and every weekend. I can't believe it's over. So excited to have more time. So grateful for the support and patience of my hubby, family, and friends this past year!!!

2. Celebration
We are going to a crepe restaurant tonight to celebrate. A jazz trio plays on the patio on Friday nights. I've never been, but doesn't it sound lovely?!?!?!

3. Essential Oils
Over the past year a number of friends have started using essential oils and raved about the results. I want to join in the fun but not sure where to start. Do you use essential oils? What's your favorite way to use them and which ones?

4. Flower Arranging Class
A friend invited me to a flower arranging class at the library. It was delightful. The teacher gave us some good tips and we got to create our own little arrangements.

5. Life's Tiny Graces
Check out my awesome SIL's blog, "Life's Tiny Graces". My SIL is super creative and crafty and she shares lots of ideas for affordable home decor, crafts, and toddler learning. Check out this patriotic themed decor craft and this post on no-sew baby doll diapers.

6. St. Martha
It was St. Martha's feastday a few days ago. I've always had a soft spot for St. Martha. Probably because I tend to fill my life with too much busyness and not enough time spent with God. I can relate to her struggle. This reflection by St. Teresa of Avila in the Magnificat was lovely:

"O my Lord, how does anyone who has so poorly served you and so poorly known how to keep what you have given her dare ask for favors? What can be entrusted to one who has often been a traitor? What, then, shall I do, Consoler of the disconsolate and Cure for anyone who wants to be cured by you? Would it be better, perhaps, to keep still about my needs, hoping you will provide the remedy for them? Certainly not; for you, my Lord and my delight, knowing the many needs there must be and the comfort it is for us to rely on you, tell us to ask you and that you will not fail to give."



7. St. Hannah and Infertility
The story of Hannah in the Bible has been on my mind lately. Probably partly because the infertility support group I lead is named after Hannah and we have a meeting coming up. Hannah cried out to God and was blessed with her son Samuel, after years of infertility. Infertility still hurts. So much. I feel like such a wimp. So many others are going through their own difficult struggles with way more grace than I am. Mike and I are so blessed in so many ways. What is my problem?!?!?! As excited as I am about the accomplishment of passing my test, I SO wish I could be a mom and join the ranks of my many pregnant friends. 

It is hard to understand why God hasn't said yes to our prayers for children these last six years. I struggle with surrender. "Jesus, please help me surrender and accept this cross!" This is also partly why I relate to St. Martha, I need to spend more time with the Lord! I know that only He can truly heal my heart, but sometimes I am not so good a letting Him. 

If you are in the Chicago area and interested in the infertility support group, more info here.

Thanks for visiting. Enjoy the weekend!!!
MB

Monday, June 29, 2015

Two Pieces of News

Hi everyone!

It's been a while since we've given an update, so here's two pieces of news from the journey of adoption.

We had another close call.  A birth mother picked our profile about a month ago.  Of course, we got our hopes up, but were trying to be a little more guarded, since we know these things can fall through.  As it turned out, we never even ended up speaking to her.  A bit of a long story, but in the end she decided not to make an adoption plan for her child.  We wish her and her baby the very best.






We also have a new avenue by which birth mothers can find us. We set up an on-line profile with Bethany.  You can check it out HERE.  Please consider sharing the link on social media!

We're back to what seems the main task of the adoption process: more waiting!

Keep us in your prayers!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

So Close



This weekend we came very close to being matched with a little one to join our family, but it was not to be.

How it happened...

A few months ago a friend heard of a birthmother in another state looking for a Catholic family. We sent off our profile to the lawyer coordinating the match. 

For several weeks we didn't hear anything, so we assumed that the birthmother had picked another couple. It didn't bother us too much, because we've heard of a number of potential adoption situations in the past year (thanks to our AMAZING family and friends keeping their eyes and ears open for us), but none have worked out. This situation seemed like more of the same.

A few weeks ago the lawyer coordinating the match reached out to us again. The birthmom had a few follow up questions for us and a few other families. Excited, we penned our response.

Again, nothing for a few weeks, so we assumed a different match had been made.

Last week we heard from the attorney again. The birthmom wanted to talk to us and one other family! Wow! Us and one other family!!!!!! Really!?!?!?! We spent an hour on the phone with the birthmom last week. What started out as a somewhat awkward conversation quickly moved to an easy flow.  We discovered that we had a lot in common: similar values, faith, and interests. We felt hopeful.

All weekend we were cautiously hopeful. Thinking about welcoming a little one soon. Preparing our hearts. Planning for the future.

Today those hopes were paused. The other couple was chosen. Glad for them. So very sad for us.

Lord, help us hope in you. 

Friday, March 6, 2015

Seven Quick Takes: Mike's New Hamster, My New Skirt, and Lent


It's such a good feeling to have our adoption home-study done and be officially waiting to connect with a birthmom considering adoption. While we wait, here's a little window into our lives:

1. Mike's New Hamster - Mike got a hamster. He loves it!!! We got a little clear ball to put the hamster in so she can run around the apartment. The funniest part is watching the cat's reactions to the hamster's presence. Priceless.

2. My New Skirt - I've had my eye on a skirt like this since last summer, but could never find quite the right one. So excited to find this one! Thank you to Mike for running to Target with me at 9:00pm to get it. My question is, what to wear with it? Any suggestions?

3. Lent - So far this Lent has been going pretty well. One thing I am trying to do is go to bed by 10:15pm. It's tough but it is also SO MUCH easier to get up in the morning and get some prayer time in. I also think more sleep is helping me cope with work stress better.

4. Stations of the Cross - One of my favorite Lenten devotions is the Stations of the Cross. Last Friday I went to an event at a local parish called "Mary's Way of the Cross". The prayers for each station were from Our Lady's perspective (as she watched Jesus suffer on the way to Calvary). It was beautiful. Last year Mike and I prayed these Stations of the Cross - Infertility Style. Infertility continues to be very tough, so I really need these prayers again this Lent.

5. Tax Season - It's tax season at work, so I have been at the office A LOT. Although it's tough to work so much, Mike has been coming in on Saturdays to keep me company. I work on taxes while he works on his dissertation. So sweet.

6. Thumbs - My thumbs have been tingly lately. It all started three weeks ago with sore wrists for two weeks. Now the sore wrists are gone, but my thumbs have a slight numbness / tingly feeling. It's a weird feeling, so probably going to get it checked out. Has anyone else experienced this?

7. My Dad - I have the best Dad. In the midst of tax season my Dad sent me this super cute card and note. I love my Dad.



More quick takes at Kelly's blog

Have a great weekend!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Another Look at Suffering


Three days ago I started reading meditations from the book Divine Intimacy, which came highly recommended by several people.

The meditations were written by Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D. who was a Discalced Carmelite priest. He had a deep knowledge of the spiritual life and how to grow in closer union with God. He was an expert on the spirituality of many Carmelite saints (St. Teresa of Jesus and St. John of the Cross) and served as a spiritual director to many. The meditations in the book follow the Mass readings of the older, traditional Roman liturgial calendar.

The meditation for Quinquagesima Sunday, the Sunday before Ash Wednesday, really hit home today. I thought I would share, mostly to record these thoughts for my own future reflections.

The meditation starts by discussing the sufferings of Christ's passion and the paradox of the cross: the fact that new life and our salvation came from the horrific suffering of Our Lord, which ended in his death on the cross, and resurrection on Easter Sunday. It also reflected on our sharing in Christ's sufferings through our own sufferings and trials. These sufferings serve to refine us and help us grow in holiness.

After reflecting on Christ crucified, what St. Paul called: "A stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles," (I Cor 1:23) the meditation turned it's focus to explain how we can make sense of this suffering. Both Christ's and our own. 

This is what really touched me, so I've included part of it below:

"It was not until after the descent of the Holy Spirit that the Apostles fully understood the meaning of the Passion; then, instead of being scandalized, they considered it the greatest honor to follow and preach Christ Crucified.

The human eye has not sufficient light to comprehend the value of the Cross; it needs a new light, the light of the Holy Spirit. It is not by chance that in today’s Gospel, immediately after the prediction of the passion, we find the healing of the blind man of Jericho. 

We are always somewhat blind when faced with the mystery of suffering; when it strikes us in what we hold most dear, it is easy to get lost and to grope our way like blind men through uncertainty and darkness. The Church invites us to repeat today the blind man’s prayer of faith: “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

The world is often astonished at the sufferings of the good, and instead of encouraging them in their reliance on God, seeks to turn them from Him by urging them to defiance and false fear. Our passions themselves, our innate tendencies towards pleasure, often cry out to us and try, by a thousand pretexts, to prevent us from following Jesus Crucified. Let us remain steadfast in our faith, like the poor blind man. He was not disturbed by the crowd that tried to keep him from approaching Jesus, and he did not give up when the disciples remonstrated with him and wanted him to be quiet; he only shouted his prayer “even more loudly.”

Beautiful! ...and most certainly convicting!!!

What struck me first was the power of the coming of the Holy Spirit. It was the Holy Spirit that helped the apostles see the meaning of Christ's suffering, and eventually their participation in it, as they were huddled in the upper room on Pentecost. It is the Holy Spirit that can help me say yes to my cross even when I don't understand it.

Also, I am guilty of succumbing to blindness in the midst of trial. I tend to focus on myself and my pain. I listen to the world encouraging me to seek pleasure and not Christ. This is especially true of this past week, when in the midst of good news on the adoption front, I allowed myself to become engulfed in the darkness that is the pain of infertility.

There is so much to think about in this reflection. I think it will take awhile to unpack the gems within.

Here is the meditation's closing prayer, which is also beautiful:

"O my Jesus, the Cross is Your standard; I should be ashamed to ask to be delivered from it. From one evil only I ardently beg You to preserve me: from any deliberate sin, however slight. O Lord, I beg You by the merits of Your Sacred Passion to keep all sin far from me. But as for other evils--bodily or spiritual sufferings, physical pain or mental anguish--I beg Your light and strength: light to understand the hidden meaning which they have in the plans of Your divine Providence, light to believe firmly that every sorrow or trial, every pain or disappointment, is planned by You for my greater good; strength not to let myself be influenced by the false maxims of the world or led astray by the vain mirage of earthly happiness, strength to accept suffering of any kind with courage and love."

 - Mary Beth


Thursday, February 12, 2015

Home Study? Check.

It's time for another adoption update! This time from Mike, Mary Beth's husband.

You may have noticed that several of our posts in the past have been about the process of completing our home study.  The home study is a series of interviews, visits, and lots of paperwork done by a licensed professional that results in getting the green light to adopt.  Without a completed home study, our profile could not be shown to birth mothers, and we could not have a child placed with us.

So, after something like two years, several interviews, visits to our apartment, background checks, fingerprinting, cat vaccinations and vet records, physicals, CPR classes, webinars and educational seminars, written biographies and questionnaires, mounds of paperwork, and a series of delays...I'm happy to say that our home study is COMPLETE and APPROVED!!!

We're now on profile with Bethany Christian Services, which means our profile book will now be shown to birth mothers.  We're told the average wait time is 6-18 months.  So, if you know of someone who may be considering adoption for her child, please pass our info on to her!

To wrap up, how about some pictures of Mary Beth and I with some kids?  A picture is worth a thousand words, after all.  Don't you think we just look like we'd make great parents!?

With our newest neice Vivian

With our god-daughter Maggie

Sunday, January 11, 2015

We're still here...


It's been a while since we've updated ye ole' blog - mostly because there hasn't been much progress on the adoption front.

In October we had a home visit from our social worker. That should have been our last stop before being adoption-ready and having our profile shown to birthmoms.  

But it turns out some additional paperwork was still needed.

First, background checks needed to get submitted to the state. Just now got those back.

While waiting on the state for the background check, our fingerprint checks expired. Those are getting re-submitted. It will take a few weeks to hear back.

The (hopefully) last step: Our social worker will come for a second home visit, since the home visit is only valid for 30 days to completion.

It will probably still be a month or two until our home study is completed with final approval.

So.....we've just been waiting these past few months. Some days it's been patient waiting; other days not so much.

Thanks so much for your prayers!!! Please continue to keep us in mind if you hear of someone considering adoption for their baby.

Mike and Mary Beth