Of sacrifice, suffering, and skipping Starbucks

Every week day, I pack up my two kids and drop my husband off at a train station about 20 minutes away. Then we pick him up again at the end of the day. We commute with my husband, sort of. He commutes much farther to NYC… but we commute too.

Back to our weekly routine… picking Daddy up at the train station #njtransit #commute #hardworkingman #family

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The other day we were picking Bodie up from his train and it was later in the day than usual, the kids were crankier than usual, and there were no parking spaces at this particular station. So I’m just doing the carpool circlin’ thing and I get this text…

“Train’s stopped, not sure for how long.” or something like that. Ugh.

I thought, noooo not today! Not on this day that is already late, and with fussy babies and no parking places! Typing it out now it sounds silly. That text could have been something MUCH worse, it wasn’t so bad, but at the time it seemed pretty bad.

So I start thinking to myself, I could go to the drive through Starbucks and get a really delicious caffeinated treat. Yum. Oh I don’t drink coffee anymore. Well, when we lived in LA and I was pregnant, I used to go to the McDonald’s drive thru (I know, worst mom ever) and get those little McD’s soft serve ice cream cones… I could go get one of those now!

So I sat there, thinking about treats I could give myself to make myself feel better about the suffering I’d have to endure waiting for my husband. And then I stopped. Because that seemed so… kind of wrong.

I thought about suffering. I thought about why we suffer. I thought about sacrifice. I thought that actually,  I was being pretty silly and my husband’s train would start moving soon. We would all be just fine. I didn’t need to panic and go find something to make myself feel better right now.

This small example is relevant on a much larger scale.  We humans sometimes have this constant need to fill our lives with joyful things; to avoid sacrifice, to escape our troubles and sorrows both big and small. But those escapes, the things we fill that hole with are never enough. They always make us feel worse. We can only truly be fulfilled by accepting our suffering both big and small (and really, really tiny as this ended up being).

healing, suffer, suffering, sacrifice, parenting, family, life, chrustianity, catholocism

Christianity delves deeper into this suffering and sacrifice and rightly notes that by doing this, we are drawn closer to God, and to goodness. In practice, offering up my own little sufferings and not trying to fill my life with things that bring me immediate joy only to disappoint me later has brought many cathartic tears, and much true happiness.

On that day at that train station, it turned out that I had misread my husband’s text. He had said that the train was stopped, but he didn’t think it would be for long, and they weren’t far away. He came home, the kids didn’t totally fall apart.

If I’d sought out immediate gratification, perhaps the caffeine or sugar would have made me cranky. Perhaps I wouldn’t have been back in time to meet his train arrival. Perhaps lots of things, but it definitely wouldn’t have made me truly happy. Being willing to endure suffering gives us peace, real peace, peace that is not rocked by minor upsets or even major problems.

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A season of preparation, and finally, Easter

The past few seasons have been like a whirlwind. I got married and had a baby in the same week. My in-laws stayed with us for an extended visit to help after James was born. Lent started, we worked on getting the house cleaned and organized. My country focused on who would be the next president. My toddler adjusted (or is adjusting?) to life with her new brother. I am adjusting to being a new wife. I had my first hours, days, and weeks as a stay at home mother of two.

And through it all, I’ve had these feelings, these unshakeable intuitions. I didn’t want to talk about them at first, because… well, I felt like they were whisperings of the Holy Spirit and that those precious, mystical intuitions were something to keep hush about. And not just because people would look at me like I’m crazy if I went around talking about how God was nudging me.

holy spirit catholic lent easter christian faith testimony oh the simple joys God is good

So starting this winter I had this intuition, this whisper inside me saying: prepare. I didn’t know what I was preparing for. I tried to prepare mentally, spiritually, and outwardly. I tried to live simply and minimize my life, get organized, donate old clothes. Change can be big and scary, but since I had this gentle and comforting warning, I felt at peace with whatever Big Change might come next. I wondered what it might be. I didn’t take myself too seriously, because you never know how reliable these kinds of intuitions are. But it felt reliable. So I watched, I waited. It was Lent, so I prayed and I spent less time on social media and more time with my children.

On the eve of the terrorist attack in Belgium, I had a nightmare. I don’t remember the details but I knew it was big and bad and that everything would change and my nightmare gave me the day: Easter Sunday. I woke up sort of skeptically terrified. I knew that it was just a dream. But I feared there would be a huge terrorist attack, or that a loved one would die, or that something would happen to me or Bodie or my children. Have you ever had a dream like that? Where you know that it’s just a dream and yet you can’t shake the feeling of, “What if it isn’t”?

So, I tried not to obsess. I stared at my babies beautiful faces more and spent even less time on the internet. I cried and I prayed. (Postpartum hormones anyone?) I told myself, it is just a dream. After a day or two I moved on and worried about it less often. Then I read this article and realized: these feelings and intuitions are about this liturgical season. My children weren’t going to die, Jesus was.

No giant worldly change was coming. It hit me like a ton of bricks, Lent is supposed to be a season of spiritual preparation. Good Friday is supposed to be big and horrible and tragic and devastating. My heart broke for Mary, who must have known what was coming for her son. Who had to watch her baby be strung up and crucified and ridiculed and tortured and killed. But then I was filled with the peace and joy of the resurrection, of Easter Sunday coming, and because of this, we are safe. Saved.

Realizing this all made me think wow, is this some kind of liturgical seasonal affective disorder? Some bad postpartum anxiety? But I think not. It isn’t a disorder, it’s a blessing. It is something that I’ve prayed for — to be closer to Jesus and experience his experiences, even those that are painful.

God is good, and when we pray to be close to Him, he draws us near in unexpected ways.

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Welcome sweet boy! Baby James’ birth story

Welcome to the world James! We love you so much already, and you aren’t even a week old.

welcome james birth story oh the simple joys second child postpartum childbirth

James was born Tuesday, January 26 at 2:04pm in the afternoon. He was an unexpected 10 lbs 7 oz, and 23.25 inches long!

My OB had mentioned to me, “I don’t think you grow little babies” (Miriam was 8lb 9 oz) but truly we were all surprised by how big he was. 

The week James was born was the most incredible week of my life. Bodie and I got married! Then there was a huge blizzard. Then baby James was born! All in one week. I’ll share more details about those things later, this post is all about our new little one.

And now for his birth story…

Monday I did some serious nesting, in fact I think I nested myself right into labor. I was setting up the guest room / kids’ room, sorting baby clothes, etc. and just as I was grabbing some empty diaper packages to recycle, my water broke right there in front of the changing table. I had just said to Bodie “We need to get this, this and this done before your parents and the baby come”, and then next thing I was screaming for him from the other room to tell him my water broke.

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Annunciations about enunciation, 7 quick takes

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Moving. Moving, moving, moving. Everything is quiet around the blog because I’m in a pregnant flurry of many loads of laundry and packing. We’re moving Nov. 1, to a house that is so many kinds of perfect.

I am a little sad to leave our apartment; it’s been our home for a few wonderful years, and though it only has one bathroom and requires that I walk down an outdoor flight of stairs with toddler everytime I want to go somewhere, it has been a great home.

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Taking the time to slow down: a pregnant mother’s prayer

slow down oh the simple joys pace pregnancy rest relax self care take care parenting

I have to slow down. I don’t want to. I feel like I’m finally at a point where I am (barely, tentatively) getting the hang of this stay at home mom thing… and now I have to stop. To slow down. To not get as many things done as I’d like. I sound more frustrated than I am, probably. I’m thankful that I am healthy, that my baby is healthy, that this pregnancy is progressing well. I am glad to rest when I have the time, and when everyone is fed, watered, and given plenty of love and attention.

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