Monday, August 25, 2014

little happies!

It's been a while since I've joined in with Stephanie's Little Happies link-up, but I've enjoyed reading everyone's posts and they truly put a smile on my face!

{happy #1}

Our new home has a dishwasher. That may sound unspectacular, but this is the first home since our wedding three years ago in which we have not had to wash each and every dish by hand. Let's just say I'm thrilled and somewhat in awe of its magic =)

{happy #2}
special masses!

On Sunday we were blessed to have mass in our home as part of a married couples' group we're in. Pretty special! And we had our house blessed - a two-for-one special. Then today we had a private mass with a priest of a nearby parish who has a healing ministry. Also really special. Can't get enough of those sacraments!

{happy #3}
adoption books!

I checked out a bunch of books from the library and also ordered one to read, and it's so exciting to be learning about adoption now that it's a viable option. I read "Secret Thoughts of an Adoptive Mother" (mentioned on the Grace of Adoption blog) and it was eye-opening. I liked her honesty, although I would appreciate a Christian "Secret Thoughts" because there wasn't much about prayer or trust or believing that God has meant this child for you and you for this child. But overall it was worthwhile.

{happy #4}

I had a day off last week and indulged in a baking project in honor of the Assumptions. I made a triple-layer devil's food cake with cream cheese frosting and decorated it with blue sprinkles, twelve stars around the edges, and the message "she will CRUSH his head." Liturgically correct cake if ever I saw one =) And it was yummy too!

{happy #5}

Our housemates have a dog, so I guess he's our housedog...? He is adorable and fun and we love him already! He's a Corgy (short legs, big ears) who likes to play chase, tug of war, fetch (if he's in the mood; otherwise he pretends he doesn't understand you). He likes to eat bacon grease and peanut butter, and he doesn't bark at all but has the cutest little howl. We love having a dog buddy with zero responsibilities!

{happy #6}
the weather!

It's been absolutely gorgeous here, especially for August. No a/c, cool breezes, almost-crisp mornings. Ahhhh.

{happy #7}

We succeeded in hanging up curtains in every main room except the kitchen, which already had them. The dining room curtains are on a trial period - I like them, but since it's a shared room, our housemates have to like them too, so we're trying them out. I spent about $80 total on curtains and hardware, which I think is reasonable especially because curtains and curtain rods are reusable. I just love how they make our home so homey.


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

"we were blessed with one"

I recently read this article (thanks to finding it on Catholic Mutt's blog) and not surprisingly, it struck a chord. I've never read anything like it, and it felt both like a breath of fresh air and a painful poke on some tender insecurities (since I've been there, worrying about what others will think when they find out that no, we don't have any children yet).

It also reminded me of an encounter that happened years ago but that I'll never forget.

It was the year after college, and I was a few months into a service year, living with other recent graduates and serving the poor. One blessing among many of this year was that we got four retreats during our time together. It was Fall, and we were on the second retreat, in the beautiful mountains of Colorado. I can't even remember what exercise we were doing, but we were in small groups talking about something or other. I ended up with another volunteer and a middle-aged woman who had come along just on the retreat to help the leaders out.

At some point, I asked her that innocent question that I now dread: "Do you have any kids?"

It's her response that will always stick with me.

She smiled and said, "We were blessed with one."

It wasn't so much the words - although they've stuck with me too - it was the way she said it. It was the complete opposite of objectification (see the article I linked to) or apologizing for having "only" one child. She said, "We were blessed with one" as if that one child was the most precious treasure and most wonderful gift she could have possibly received. And there was something else too in her voice - I heard it even then, and I can definitely relate now - that said without saying that she would have loved to have more, but she was blessed with one. 

"One" being infinitely more than zero!

I remember not knowing how to respond. It felt almost like a reverent silence, the way she said it. I have no idea if she struggled with infertility or miscarriage or both, or whether she married late or her husband died young or whatever. No idea. But wow, what a message of love-beyond-suffering came through in that short little sentence.

Since then, I've been at many Catholic events where a speaker or leader is introduced and we're told that they have a larger-than-average number of children (6, 10, 12, etc.) and everyone kind of gasps and even applauds. That always makes me feel so uncomfortable. It's not like I don't want to celebrate children! But 1) children are not someone's "accomplishment" and 2) would people ever clap for the parents "blessed with one"? My guess is no. And how horrible is that? Is that child worth less because he or she wasn't blessed with a half-dozen siblings? Anyway, I know that's probably my infertile angst coming out.

I would love love LOVE to be "blessed with one." Of course I'd love to be blessed with many! But I pray to God that if we are ever given the completely immeasurable gift of another human person to nurture, raise, and teach how much they're loved, when people ask me how many children I have, I won't say "oh, only one..." as if that one isn't one infinitely loved child of God! but I'll respond like that nameless woman who probably doesn't even remember me: "We were blessed with one."


Sunday, August 10, 2014

long overdue update: moving, masses, etc.

Wow, it's been a while! I finally found (made) some time to write while my husband is still sleeping and before I make blueberry pancakes for our big Sunday breakfast (haven't made them in weeks and am having major pancake withdrawal!) We went to mass last night and so have all day to relax, explore a few places around town, and be together.

Lots has happened since my last post:

New home
We're moved in, praise God! As I anticipated, all the stress and work and setbacks of getting ready for the move - which was a LOT; the house needed some last-minute work that we weren't aware of until just before our move - is already but a bad memory. We love our new place - it's plenty big, has lots and LoTs and LOT of windows =) plus hardwood floors and closet space and a nice homey feel already. Our new housemates are great and their dog greets me at the door after work! This whole week I've been hit with a wave of gratitude at our new home and how it positions us to pursue adoption, among other good qualities. Thank you God!

Mass for hope & healing
The weekend before our move, we attended the Archdiocese of DC's second annual mass for hope and healing. It was well attended - more people than last year, even though we personally know of three local couples who wanted to come and couldn't. Similar to last year, I felt so loved just by the mass happening, by priests taking time out of their busy schedules to minister to us in a very focused way. It was definitely an emotional experience. I cried during most of the mass and a lot of other people did too! That was the hardest part for me - seeing others suffer with a cross that I know pretty well, wishing that they didn't have to go through IF too, and grieving with them. It was both the saddest mass I've ever been too but also very healing. And the talk afterwards was fantastic - a personal testimony by a couple who struggled for 6 years. They were blessed with a daughter last year but didn't make their story one of a perfect tidy happy ending. They were honest and open and real and acknowledged that every person's journey is different. Looking around the room, it seemed like everyone was soaking it up, the chance to talk about such a hidden topic so openly.

Another mass for healing
The day before the mass - looks like I'm updating in reverse chronological order! - Mr. M and I were immensely blessed to receive a private healing mass from a local priest. This priest is known for his gift of healing and his willingness to fit everyone and anyone in his schedule, and it's true! Mr. M contacted him requesting spiritual direction. The priest replied immediately, they met that week (while I was out of town) and he offered to have a mass for both of us the following week. I was so touched and felt so loved! The mass itself was intense. I cried through this one too, naturally. Father annointed us both with blessed oil and prayed for healing. He also gave us some beautiful words to ponder about suffering: that the Church "needs" our suffering (in the sense St. Paul talks about "filling up" what is lacking in the suffering of Christ) - that we are offering a beautiful gift to God in our suffering, etc. It was very consoling to hear words of comfort and encouragement from a spiritual Father. Afterwards, he asked whether we'd like to have another mass. Um, letmethink...YES!! So that's in the works.

Current adoption "plan"
...and yes, I hear God laughing! =) Before our move, we had a wonderful long talk about where we envision the adoption process going and when. The tentative plan is: spend all of August settling in to our new home and getting it the way we want it (pictures, curtains, etc.). September-October-November, research different agencies and kinds of adoption: go to information meetings, make phone calls, and pray. By my birthday (Thanksgiving this year!): apply to an agency. Hopefully get accepted, then begin the home study process in January 2015. And go from there.

It may not seem like a lot, but to us even having those very simple steps decided on feels huge! I in no way feel like we're right around the corner from being parents, and I've even tried looking around our new home and imagining a crib in the corner, or little footsteps on the floor, and it just feels too surreal. My hunch is that moving forward with adoption will also mean peeling layers upon layers off my heart of barriers against all things motherhood related. A good but scary prospect!

For now, I am just so happy and relieved to be here, finally, after almost a year of knowing that our other apartment was not adoption-friendly, and after a few months of actual planning and preparation. *huge sigh of relief*

Now onto those pancakes and a big ol' overdue DATE day!