Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Abandoning Baby Books


Did/do you make baby books for your children?  Or, are you like me?

I started a book for Jane before she was born, and I filled it with every last detail.

Then, I got pregnant with Walt when Jane was six months old.

To the back burner with you, baby books!

I finished Jane's first year of life in scrapbooks, and I made it to nearly 6 months for Walt.  After that, the books abruptly ended!  Harry (gulp) doesn't even HAVE one!

I continue to blog to keep archiving what we're up to, I love looking through previous Facebook posts with their quotes or funny things that they've done, and we have an OBSCENE amount of digital photos.

Jane was asking about what it was like when I was teaching while pregnant with her.  I told her we could look at her baby book.  That turned into Walt wanting to look at his (lame, half-incomplete) baby book.  They loooooooooooved it!  

Good news: Walt didn't even notice that his abruptly ended at six months.  I know that will all change someday soon, so now is the time to act!  

Looking at baby books together at the kitchen table
Resolution: It's time to get with the twenty-first century and actually come through with my promise to create digital photo books.  The time-consuming baby books aren't working anymore.  It's time to let go of what's not working and embrace that digital photo books are better than none at all.  Perhaps adding my own captions will help me to let go of self-imposed silly mommy guilt for not making baby books.  

Shutterfly, I *WILL* be placing an order before Christmas!  Just waiting for a great coupon to come along...

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Moment Residency Became Worth It


Last Saturday, Philip and I had the opportunity to attend Hearts of Hope, a fundraiser for Midwest Heart Connection, an organization dedicated to supporting families with children that have congenital heart disease.  


Unfortunately, the only picture I have from the evening is from the sports bar where we went after the event to watch the Husker game!  GO BIG RED!  Someday, I'll become a good blogger and learn to photograph the things I write about.
Our family became linked with Midwest Heart Connection when our nephew, Patrick, was born with pulmonary atresia and a VSD.  Thanks to the dedicated staff at Omaha Children's Hospital and the support of Midwest Heart Connection, Patrick continues to flourish and keep us all on our toes as a healthy young boy should!  Like the rest of the children in this tearjerker video, Patrick's heart is a work of art!



The evening started off with a cocktail hour and silent auction.  As Philip and I made our way around the room, it became obvious that he knew the Children's Hospital staff in attendance--and they remembered him.  He was on the receiving end of a bunch of warm hugs, handshakes, and questions about what he has been up to since finishing residency.  (As a pediatric resident in Omaha, most of his time was spent at the Children's Hospital, so he got to know the staff very well.)  It was endearing to hear the various doctors and nurses say how much they've missed him and tell him that they send as many Lincoln patients his way as they can.  

As we approached our table for the evening, the young couple seated there immediately stood up.  The wife beamed at Philip and gave him a big hug.  The husband gave him a strong handshake.  Philip introduced me to the couple, and the wife gave me a big hug.  "Phil took care of our baby when she was born two-and-a-half years ago.  We had no idea what was going to happen, and Phil took such great care of her.  He really helped us to get through that time."  We had a great time visiting over dinner, and I learned that their little girl is doing great today.  Throughout the rest of his residency, the family had several hospital stays.  Whether or not their baby was his patient during their stay, Philip always made it a point to stop by and check in when he saw their name on the admission list.   

At the end of the evening when we were saying goodbye, the wife gave me another bear hug.  While Philip and the husband were exchanging goodbyes, she said to me, "I am so glad Phil is a pediatrician.  His patients are so lucky to have him!  He is going to make such a difference in all of those families' lives."  

I put my hands on her shoulders and said, "Oh, you have no idea how much your words mean to me!  Residency was a long haul, and there were several times when I thought, 'Why are we doing this?!'  Tonight, after meeting you and your husband and hearing your story, I know that this is why we did it. Thank you so much for sharing your story and for telling me how much Philip means to your family.  I know he loves his job, and getting to meet you has made all of the long hours so worth it."  I let them know that their daughter is in our prayers and told them to take good care.  

As we left the parking lot, I squeezed Philip's hand and told him, "I am so proud of you.  Thank you for taking such good care of their family, and not just their precious baby.  Tonight has made all of those crazy years of residency so worth it.  Now, I'm so glad that you get to be a pediatrician.  It's so special that you get to walk families through all of the stages of their child's development and care for the whole family along the way."

He squeezed my hand back with a cute little tear in his eye, "Thank you.  That means a lot to me."    

Monday, October 20, 2014

Put It To Work 2

Whoops!  Sorry I missed a week on this new "regular feature" on the blog.

In case you missed it last time, this is a weekly opportunity (on Mondays) for us to swap prayer intentions.  The goal is to actively unite our intentions to the cross for one another, putting those prayers "to work"--especially in times of suffering (no matter how small). 

My intentions this week:

  • Continued patience with the kiddos
  • Being a better wife all around (generosity in time, focused attention, acts of service, using more words of affirmation)
  • Our GodTeens (especially those unsure of God's existence or why He matters in their lives)
What about you?  What prayer intentions can I start "putting to work" tonight at adoration?  I'll add them to my prayer journal and bring them with me.  I will continue to bring these intentions to my prayer time throughout the week.


Thank you for praying for us!  You're in my prayers this week, too!

Friday, October 17, 2014

New Fall 'Do

It was time for a hair intervention!  I hadn't gotten my hair cut since April.  Between the move, getting settled, and the start of the school year, my locks fell further and further down the list of priorities on the totem pole.  I had dry, dead ends, and my spring highlights had grown out so long that I looked like I had a poser ombre look going.

Here's my before picture:

  
I finally got in yesterday, and I feel like I lost ten pounds.  Maybe I should have weighed myself before and after because I probably DID lose one pound!  Every little bit counts, right?  Right???

So long, dead mousy brown hair!
My hair isn't super thick, but I do have a lot of it, and it has some natural curl.  I asked the stylist for something versatile that I can wear curly or straight.  I wanted a big, swoopy bang across my brow, but I wanted it juuuuuuuuust long enough that I can still tuck it behind my ear or pin it back.  These were my inspiration pictures for the style.  Thanks, Keri Russell and Charlize Theron:



For the color, Miss Emma Stone was my muse:


Here's my version:


It's so much easier to get ready with half of the hair, and it's fun to have some new color.  Whatcha think?

Don't be like me and wait until it's hair intervention time to make an appointment.  Get a date night on the calendar, call your stylist, and rock a new 'do!  It's amazing how a little cut and color can put some extra pep in my step.  

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Another Way

Yesterday, I shared the story of Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old woman facing a terminal cancer diagnosis.  Brittany plans to take a pill on November 1 that will kill her.  

Praise God, the voices that object to suicide are getting louder, praying that Brittany will change her mind.  Among those voices is Kara Tippetts.  Kara, a young wife and mother of four, is also facing a terminal cancer diagnosis.  



Kara Tippetts, Mundane Faithfulness
Kara embodies courage as she battles for her life, entering fully into whatever suffering may come, trusting that Christ can meet her in her suffering and bring blessing to herself and her family as she suffers well.  Please read Kara's letter to Brittany.  You will know that you are reading Truth.  


"Suffering is not the absence of goodness, it is not the absence of beauty, but perhaps it can be the place where true beauty can be known."

I pray that Kara's words can soften Brittany's heart and help her to consider another option.  Wouldn't it be amazing if Brittany accepted Kara's invitation to meet, talk heart to heart, and share one another's stories?  Please, God, open Brittany's heart to hearing Kara's beautiful message.    


Kara Tippetts is facing her battle with cancer with the same courage and faith of Blessed Chiara Luce Badano. Chiara is on her way to becoming the first "Generation X" Saint.  



Blessed Chiara Luce Badano, image from Life Teen
Chiara was diagnosed with an osteocarcoma as a 17-year-old.  She received the treatments and fought hard against the cancer.  She accepted the diagnosis with great courage and faith.  She said, "For you, Jesus...If you want it, I want it, too!"  As the cancer progressed, Chiara put her suffering to work.  Focolare.org recounts:
The more the illness progressed, the more the experience intensified for Chiara. At one point she refused morphine because “It takes away my lucidity” and “I can only offer my pain to Jesus. It’s all I have left.”
Finally, on 7 October 1990, her “departure”. One last smile for Ruggero and then a goodbye for Maria Teresa: “Mamma, be happy, because I’m happy!” There was a huge crowd at the funeral and, as she had requested, Chiara Luce was buried in a white dress, “like a bride going to Jesus”.
Shortly before dying, Chiara Luce exclaimed: “The youth are the future. I can no longer run, but I’d like to pass the Olympic torch on to them. The young people have only one life and it’s worth it to spend it well!” The 25,000 young people who attended her beatification ceremony in Rome on 25 September 2010, demonstrate that Chiara Luce Badano has given witness to a model of holiness that can be lived by everyone!
My friend, Emily, pointed out that the anniversary of Chiara's death was just two days ago on October 7.  Chiara's feast, October 29, is just a few days before Brittany Maynard's chosen date of death--November 1, All Saints Day.  Please join me in praying that Chiara Luce Badano and all of the saints in heaven can intercede for Brittany.  Pray that Brittany will hear the stories of heroic people like Kara Tippetts or Chiara Luce Badano.  Pray that hearing their stories will help her to face her own battle with renewed courage and strength.  God, please bless Kara, Chiara, and all those who have united their suffering to You abundantly in heaven.  May we all follow their example and start putting our suffering to work, uniting it to the cross on behalf of Brittany Maynard and all of the other souls contemplating suicide.   

Blessed Chiara Luce Badano, pray for us!  


St. Michael, the Archangel, defend Brittany in battle!  


Come, Holy Spirit!  Be with Brittany, now and at the hour of her death.  


Amen!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

"Death With Dignity"

Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old woman facing a stage 4 brain tumor, says that she has a right to "death with dignity."  "Death with dignity" is a euphemism for suicide with a prescription drug.  Maynard's doctors told her in April that she likely had 6 months left to live.  She intends to take a prescription medication on November 1 to end her life while maintaining that it is not suicide.  

"Death With Dignity"?  

The phrase "death with dignity" reveals a misunderstanding of what dignity is in the first place.  The presumption is that there's a way to die without dignity.  

Well, what is dignity anyway?

We get the word dignity from the Latin dignitas meaning "worth."  All human beings have dignity--inherent value and worth.  The way we die has nothing to do with our worth.  We have dignity because we are human.  Period.  

How did we get our dignity as humans?  

"Let us make man in our image, after our likeness..."  (Genesis 1:26)

We have dignity because God gave it to us.  He made us in His image and likeness.  What can be more dignified than being made in the image and likeness of our Creator?  When we understand what dignity really is, we understand that it is impossible to die without it.  

So, what do people mean when they say that they are seeking "death with dignity"?  They seem to mean that it is undignified, or beneath the worth of a human, to have to suffer.  We hear this language all the time--especially when the person envisions themselves "becoming a burden" to loved ones or going through the humiliation of losing their physical or mental capacities.

It seems ridiculous to hear that line of thinking and gaze upon a crucifix. 



Or look at images from The Passion of the Christ



Christ suffered.
He was humiliated.
Would we even dream of saying that He died without dignity?

He is God, and He went through humiliation and suffering before His death for us.  Nonetheless, we seem to think that we are above certain ways of dying. 

While we don't believe that suffering is good, and we can make appropriate medical interventions to avoid it unnecessarily, we may still suffer as we die.  Palliative care is a wonderful blessing and gift for the dying, but we are not guaranteed that death will be as neat, tidy, convenient, efficient, or easy as we try to make the rest of our lives.  So, if our death comes with suffering, we might as well put it to work.  

Just like the woman in the story, I am a 29-year-old woman full of hope and plans for the future.  I have no idea what God has in store for me.  I pray that His plan includes raising our children into adulthood and living a long, healthy life, but it may not.  


I've never received a stage 4 brain cancer diagnosis, but as Fr. John Riccardo says, "we're all terminal," from the moment we're born.  I don't get to choose when or how I'll die, but I pray that God will give me the strength to do it well.  My life is pure gift, only He gives me dignity, and only He will get to decide when my life will end.

The culture of death wants us to embrace suicide as "death with dignity."  To convince us that "death with dignity" is a good choice, the proponents have to do language gymnastics.  Brittany Maynard describes "death with dignity" like this:
"It is an end-of-life option for mentally competent, terminally ill patients with a prognosis of six months or less to live. It would enable me to use the medical practice of aid in dying: I could request and receive a prescription from a physician for medication that I could self-ingest to end my dying process if it becomes unbearable."
"Aid in dying"?  "End my dying process"?  Suicide is the taking of one's own life.  How can taking a prescription to end one's life be considered anything but suicide?  Look no further than the comment boxes related to this story, and the people choosing "death with dignity" are called heroic, selfless, and brave.  


I wrote a few months ago that I want people to do this when I'm dying: get a priest, make sure I receive the sacraments, and keep bringing me lists of intentions of people to pray for until I die.  By God's grace, I'll be able to die a holy death.  If I'm honest with myself, I admit that I'm terribly weak, so I'm trying to get spiritually fit for that moment now.  I'm keeping lists of intentions and *trying* to remember to unite all of my sufferings (big and itty bitty) to the cross.  That's tough stuff.  That's the stuff saints are made of.  Yet, that's what we're all called to.    

As we approach November 1 (All Saints Day), the day that Brittany Maynard has chosen to commit suicide, let's all pray that those suffering find strength in the risen Lord and remember their dignity.  May they imitate the lives of the heroic men and women in heaven who also suffered, remembered their dignity, took up their crosses, and followed Him. 

"If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me."  (Luke 9:23)  

If you or a loved one is struggling with how to navigate end-of-life issues, consult the National Catholic Bioethics Center.  They provide a free consultation service with qualified ethicists on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week -- (215) 877-2660.  They also publish an informative Catholic Guide to End-of-Life Decisions.        

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Put It To Work 1


Lord knows I'm always needing prayers, and I'm sure you could use some, too, so let's start sharing!  Today, I'm starting a regular feature on the blog called "Put It To Work."  It's a weekly swap of prayer intentions.  I'll share mine, and I'd love it if you'd share yours!

Instead of just talking about what's going on in our lives, we are going to do something about it on Mondays.  Are you walking with pep in your step and are bursting with joy this morning?  Fantastic!  Put it to work!  Is something bringing you down that's contributing to your "case of the Mondays"?  Instead of letting it take over the day or week, put it to work, too!  Put it all to work.  We are going to encourage each other to actively unite all of it to the Cross--our prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of every single day.  No more wasting any of it.  Put it to work.

My Intentions This Week:  


Philip is taking his pediatric board exams all day today.  Please keep him in your prayers!  What are physician board exams, you ask?  Well...when a physician passes his or her board exams, they become "board certified."  This means that they passed a test showing their competence in their area of medicine.  For Philip, this would mean that he demonstrated his competence in pediatrics.  

As Philip puts it, "It's like being a car repairman who is certified to repair Hondas.  The people with Hondas are going to think you're the most qualified to fix their cars.  The board certified physicians are the most qualified in their area of medicine."  

So, please keep the guy in your prayers today!


In addition to praying for Philip with his board exams, can you please add these intentions to your prayers?

  • Our GodTeens - that this week's meeting will draw them closer to God, especially for those who may be doubting God's existence or His Love
  • For meperseverance with morning prayer time, patience and gentleness with the children instead of impatience or anger

Please share your prayer intentions in the comments below, on Facebook, or via e-mail.  Philip and I are sharing a weekly holy hour, and it's my turn to go tonight.  What intentions can I bring before the Lord in adoration?  Please pass them along, and I'll write them down in my prayer journal before I go.  I loved bringing your intentions with me last time, and I continue to pray for them.

I hope you're having a great start to your week!  How are you going to put your prayers, works, joys, and sufferings to work today? 

Morning Offering

O Jesus,
through the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
I offer You my prayers, works,
joys and sufferings
of this day for all the intentions
of Your Sacred Heart,
in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass
throughout the world,
in reparation for my sins,
for the intentions of all my relatives and friends,
and in particular
for the intentions of the Holy Father.
Amen.