Wednesday, November 9, 2011

All Saints Day

This year All Saints Day took on a whole new meaning for our family. We lost our precious unborn baby girl, Gemma Marie, on October 19. I was 20 weeks pregnant and we went to the ultrasound to find out the sex of the baby and instead were told by the ultrasound technician that she died somewhere around 16 weeks. I am a revert to the Catholic faith, so I'm not one of those people who knows everything there is to know about Catholocism. After our baby died, I had several people tell me that she was a Saint. They said that we have our own personal Saint to intercede for our family in Heaven. Let me admit something here: Before Gemma died, I didn't even know that a saint was a person who had made it to Heaven. I guess I had never given it much thought. I knew that saints had feast days and holy cards, but I had never stopped to actually think about why they are so important. So imagine my confusion when people were telling me that Gemma was a saint. In order to clear up my confusion, I asked Leila, the owner of the blog Little Catholic Bubble. She's great and always takes time to respond to my questions. I have learned a lot about the Catholic faith from her blog. Anyway, here's what she said:
The Church (and Christ) never speaks on the situation with unbaptized babies. Even limbo was only a theological construct, and that was a place of perfect happiness, but not quite Heaven. Since Jesus never revealed it specifically, presumably so that none of us would delay in getting our children to the sacrament, we can never know with certainty, but the Church does say that we entrust these beloved babies to the mercy of the Father. So, the hope is that they are in the Beatific Vision and in Heaven. My thought is that it's a "baptism by desire" situation. We would have baptized those (and any) babies if we could have. The Faith of the Church at work. So, when people say "Saint" they are really hoping or assuming that the baby is in Heaven. I prefer to say "With the Lord" because if they are not in Heaven yet, they will be one day (They certainly would not go to Hell, and I doubt that there is a "limbo" to stay in forever!). Personally, I do think they go to Heaven, but we just cannot declare it to be doctrinal, since Jesus did not reveal it (This is another reason why the Church is divinely protected and not merely human…any mere human institution would have "answered" the question of what happens to unbaptized babies loooooong ago. But we just can't say what has not been revealed. The Church has no such authority.).

If they are in Heaven, they are saints like anyone else in Heaven (Although there are degrees of holiness….a hierarchy. The Virgin Mary, for example, is closer to the heart of Jesus than I will ever be!). But all are perfected and perfectly happy. The canonized saints (saint just means holy) are the ones who have a public feast day recognized on the Church calendar. I would celebrate your little ones (and the one I lost) on All Saints Day or All Souls Day, to cover it all. And the feast of their patrons, of course. So, I think they are in heaven, but would not say so "officially".

After she explained it so well, I knew that All Saints Day (and All Souls Day) would forever be special to our family. All Saints Day is a special feast day to celebrate all Saints, especially the Saints who don't already have feast days such as Gemma Marie and the other baby we lost. And to cover it all like Leila said, we also attended mass for our loved ones on All Souls Day. One of my friends told me about an outdoor mass at a cemetery. I had never been to an outdoor mass and it was beautiful! The leaves were full of color and were getting blown by gusts of wind on that overcast fall day. I only wish I had been able to take a picture to post here to show the beauty and simplicity of that mass. Celebrating mass outdoors in God's creation was such a special and memorable way to pray for the souls of our babies and our grandparents.

As part of our All Saints Day celebration, we attended an All Saints party with our local homeschool group. The children got to dress as Saints. They gave clues and had the other children guess which saint they were dressed up as. Here are the clues my children gave about their Saints.

"I am a doctor and a mother. I risked my life to save the life of my unborn baby."

"I gave my inheritance to the poor and gave gold to three girls so they could be married. I am a Bishop. My feast day is December 6."

-Italian doctor
-mother died of diabetes
-one of first to experiment with insulin
-evacuated hospital after eruption of Mt. Vesuvius
-unsuccessfully enlisted in WWII (they thought he was more useful treating the wounded)
-didn't charge poor for treatments
-gave money to poor to buy medicine
-feast day November 16

Almost Wordless Wednesday

Looks like I got lucky and decided to post these pics on a Wednesday, so rather than thinking of something to write about Halloween, I can just use the "Wordless Wednesday" excuse and call it a day! Boy am I lazy!

In case you were wondering why J11 didn't have a picture of his own, it's because I was trying to take a picture of him and this little stinker got in the way at just the perfect moment. Turned out funny though!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Angels, Saints, and a Prayer

I see our tragedy as a test of faith, and faith makes such a difference. We lost a baby 7 years ago through miscarriage and this time (after knowing more about the Catholic faith) it makes more sense. It has a purpose. We had been given the wonderful gift of co-creating life with God and now one more soul exists in heaven praising our Lord. Once I went to RCIA (just to learn more about the faith from a very knowledgeable priest) and the topic of the night was angels and saints. Our parish priest came in for the class, just to give the talk on angels (he is very knowledgable about angels). He said that during mass the entire church is filled wall to wall with angels and saints, all uniting to worship God. That painted a beautiful picture in my mind, and now when I am at Mass and we sing "Holy, Holy, Holy", I can easily picture my babies praising the Lord with our family on earth; we are united at the moment in honoring God. This gives me great peace.

Miscarriage Prayer

My Lord, the baby is dead!

Why, my Lord—dare I ask why? It will not hear the whisper of the wind or see the beauty of its parents’ face—it will not see the beauty of Your creation or the flame of a sunrise. Why, my Lord?

“Why, My child—do you ask ‘why’? Well, I will tell you why.

You see, the child lives. Instead of the wind he hears the sound of angels singing before My throne. Instead of the beauty that passes he sees everlasting Beauty—he sees My face. He was created and lived a short time so the image of his parents imprinted on his face may stand before Me as their personal intercessor. He knows secrets of heaven unknown to men on earth. He laughs with a special joy that only the innocent possess. My ways are not the ways of man. I create for My Kingdom and each creature fills a place in that Kingdom that could not be filled by another. He was created for My joy and his parents’ merits. He has never seen pain or sin. He has never felt hunger or pain. I breathed a soul into a seed, made it grow and called it forth.”

I am humbled before you, my Lord, for questioning Your wisdom, goodness, and love. I speak as a fool—forgive me. I acknowledge Your sovereign rights over life and death. I thank You for the life that began for so short a time to enjoy so long an Eternity.
-- Mother M. Angelica

From the prayers section at:

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Should You Trust Dave Ramsey?

Before hearing Dave Ramsey on a Focus on the Family radio broadcast, our finances had pretty much been spiraling out of control. I knew something wasn't right about our financial situation, but for some idiotic reason, I just couldn't quite figure out what it was. I remember calling my dad one day and asking him what we should do if our 15 year old car died before K got his next paycheck-we literally didn't have anything in our bank account because we had just used all of our money to buy a new MacBook. That's just one example of how we spent money. We bought all kinds of embarrassing things as well (In fact, so embarrassing to admit that we actually spent money on some of the things we bought that I'm not even going to mention them here). Looking back at our situation is almost humorous now, but really could have been disastrous then. I suppose I must give Dave Ramsey credit where credit is due. He gave us the motivation and organization we needed to get our financial house in order. We paid off all of our debt (about $50,000) in less than a year. We sold EVERYTHING. We did the envelopes. We had "allowance." We were really "Gazelle Intense." The house of course was not included in the $50,000, but praise God, it is now off our backs as well thanks to a short sale, so I suppose we can now legitimately say, "We're Debt Free!"

Anyway, you must wonder where I'm going with this post. After all, here I am talking about the positive change we had in our lives as a result of Dave Ramsey's program. What could possibly be untrustworthy about a man who encourages people to become debt free? Quite a bit actually. Now I'm not saying it is a bad idea for people to have an emergency fund. In fact, $1000 was never a comfortable amount for me, and even when we first started his program I think ours was closer to $3000. I'm also somewhat neutral on his advice to get completely out of debt since the one and only advantage of the criminal Federal Reserve devaluing our currency is that it benefits debtors. On the other hand, I certainly like the financial security that we have knowing that we don't owe money to anyone. What an awesome feeling! With all that said, it saddens me to say that I believe that Dave Ramsey is misleading many people. Before you take all of his advice you may want to read this article. It helps paint the other side of the picture. If Dave is just a guy who is out there to help people, then why does he charge money for his program to people who are already saddled with debt? Why does he tell people to make lousy investments? Could it be that he is doing more harm than good?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Ron Paul 2012!

I was looking through some old pictures on iPhoto and stumbled across this one. We met the good doctor in May 2008. I found out that he was going to be in Branson, MO for the republican national convention, so we loaded up our tents, grabbed our Silver Dollar City passes, and headed to Branson to see the man that I so hoped would become the next President of the United States. Sadly, he was overlooked in the primaries and was not chosen to run against Obama. Hopefully this time will be different...

Monday, August 1, 2011

Float Trip

This weekend we took a float trip on the Illinois River. For all you Arkansans reading this post, you might wonder why we would ever go to the nasty Illinois River in Tahlequah, OK for a float trip when we have the Kings river just 30 minutes away. Our reasoning was that we can rent a raft as opposed to a kayak or canoe, and therefore be able to take the entire family...well, almost the entire family. My mom was kind enough to watch G1, and for that I am very grateful. I am pretty much making a note to myself when I write this so if we forget once again the name of the place that we always rent rafts from and for some reason think that we are going to go here to rent a raft alongside all the drunk, swearing college students, I will be able to look up this post and recall the name of this quiet(er), family friendly place.

While I like the outdoors and love the water, I also must face the fact that I don't have an adventurous bone in my body. B3 was even more adventurous than I was on this trip. I think it kind of bugs my husband, who will dive off bluffs head first without a second thought while I sit on the other side of the river and snap pictures.

I didn't even want to get my head in the water, but really, can you blame me? It WAS the Illinois River after all. I also wasn't brave enough to do this,


or even this...

BUT, I WAS brave enough to pick up this little guy for B3 to hold. See it there on her finger? Tiny frogs are so fun!

And finally, since I always get left out of pictures because I am usually the one behind the camera, I got J11 to take this...