Category Archives: Vocation

Our First Go At NFP

Our youngest turned 1 last week. She’s a little doll who seems to think she’s closer to 5 as opposed to just barely 1, but she’s cute so we just let her act however she wants. (I’m kidding…mostly.)

First birthdays are obviously a big deal. But you know what else is big deal around here? Me celebrating my child’s first birthday— and NOT already being 4-5 months pregnant with her younger sibling!!! woo!!!

Thanks, NFP!

So because it’s NFP week, and I’m basically a professional NFP-er now, I thought I’d share a little about my family’s ~experience~ using NFP this past year.

A little background:

My husband and I both come from big, Catholic families. We wanted to get started on ours right away, so, like a lot of couples, we got married, started having kids, and figured we’d just learn NFP if and when we needed to.

For some women who breastfeed, children just end up being naturally spaced about 2, or maybe even more, years apart—no real charting or effort required.

These women should not be trusted.

No, just kidding. But—as my husband and I learned through the very welcome exciting news of both our 2nd and 3rd babies—I am definitely not one of those women.

So as we were getting ready for the arrival of number 3 last year, we prayed and thought and decided that maybe a slightly longer gap between number 3 and 4 would be a good thing.

My goal: To not be halfway pregnant with the next baby when this kid turns 1.

A modest goal. Not shootin’ for five years here or anything, just a little bit of breathing room.

I looked at different NFP methods, read myself a textbook, and then later a blog post that saved the day, and found myself an instructor. Just like that, I was doing NFP!

We used the Marquette Method of NFP. Honestly it was the one method that seemed least appealing to me at first. I mean it requires a monitor and testing every day, which just seemed like a lot of waste and cost up front, vs. the other methods that just seemed to take paper, pen, and a thermometer. But then I got practical. Taking my temp every morning at the same time wasn’t gonna happen with my kiddos (even with those fancy reminder/record gadgets, I just don’t wake up at the same time every day). And, sparing the gory details, the postpartum/breastfeeding time makes charting other NFP symptoms kinda fuzzy anyway. Basically it came down to having a monitor and *science* to go off of, vs. just my own guessing. That blog post that saved the day that I mentioned was really what sold me on Marquette- check it out!

Takeaways…

NFP sucks. I mean it’s great and wonderful and empowering and all that, but there’s nothing fun about abstinence in marriage. There I said it. NFP is hard and it’s not fun and sometimes it’s especially really, extra un-fun.

BUT- It is super cool and empowering knowing your fertility down to the day. And learning it will make you annoyed that you weren’t taught this stuff as a teenager. It helps you understand so much! Mood swings, the grumps, bursts in productivity! And that’s just the little stuff–some women actually discover important medical conditions that need attention, just by charting their cycle. Learn it! If nothing else it’ll make you feel like a badass.

Also- They say the key to any relationship is communication. Well Tyler and I have always been able to talk about anything, so I never would’ve thought we needed to improve communication. Yet we both see that NFP strengthened our marriage and our bond with each other. Before, we would talk about whatever we were thinking or feeling, but thanks to NFP, we now have a little more insight into why I might be thinking or feeling a certain way. So that has been helpful.

And yes, denying yourself is tough, but if you let it (and full disclosure: it’s hard to let it sometimes), the sacrifice will grow and strengthen your relationship and your love for one another.

So thanks, NFP! A week after celebrating my daughter’s first birthday, I am happy to say I am not five months pregnant.

…I am just shy of five *weeks* pregnant! Hey-o!

Happy NFP week, everyone! 😉

My Favorite NFP Resources:

Simcha Fisher’s The Sinner’s Guide To NFP – I actually read this as I was learning this whole NFP thing, and it helped keep my sanity about me. It’s not a how-to, by any means. It’s just some hilarious but also thoughtful reflections about what it is actually like to practice NFP.

Taking Charge Of Your Fertility The “textbook” I mentioned. It is a super helpful resource to have on hand, and actually reads very easily even though it weighs about as much as a newborn. It’s not strictly NFP, because she mentions barrier methods which are no-nos in Natural Family Planning, but her science and explaining the ins and outs of how all this stuff works is really top-notch.

Facebook Groups! I’ve never been much into Facebook groups, but there is a Catholic NFP Facebook group as well as one specifically for Marquette Method that I am a part of. They’re great places to ask for help, especially when you’re just getting the hang of it.

 

Do More Than Just Survive Your Single Years (Free Book Available Now!)

A little over two years ago, I received a question from a reader. The gist of it: “Why are we women in such a rush to get married?”  I thought it was a good question deserving of a good answer, so naturally I deferred it to someone else 😉 A close friend of mine (who is practically my big sister), Lisa Marie Hunt, wrote a two-part answer about Why We Long For Love and How To Glorify God In Your Singleness:

“…I wondered why God didn’t think it was time for me to get married.  Was I not holy enough?  Not pretty enough? Was God upset with me for something?  Did he want me to be a Sister, even though my desire to be a wife and mother was so strong? Was I ever going to get married or would I be stuck as a lonely, old, lady… who couldn’t even have cats because I am allergic to them!?  And then about five years ago I read the very first paragraph in the Catechism: “He calls man to seek him, to know him, to love him with all his strength”.  Nowhere in that sentence, or the paragraph that encompasses it, did the authors mention marriage, religious life or singleness.

I had been dwelling on the longing in my heart and thinking it was for a man, when in reality that longing was for Him and my purpose was to seek Him, to know Him and to love Him.  If getting married would help me to do that, then Praise God! if becoming a Sister allowed me to do that, then Praise God!  And if for whatever crazy reason God wanted me single, then Praise God!  That moment was a life-changer for me.”

(You can read Lisa’s whole answer by clicking here: Part 1  Part 2)

Why talk about this today?  Because yesterday Lisa published a book!

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The Moment Is Now: Do More Than Just Survive Your Single Years, Practical Tips to Live Them For God’s Glory is available to download on Amazon FOR FREE today and tomorrow only (after that it will cost money, so download it today and tell your friends to do the same!).

I had the chance to read the book ahead of its release, and–even as a married mother of two–I kept finding myself nodding along with Lisa’s words. There are books on chastity in dating and how to date the “right” way as a woman of God, but The Moment Is Now delves into a less-discussed topic. What does a single person who understands– and truly finds beauty in–the call to chastity and the vocation of marriage do to make the most of the time of singleness God has given her beyond just…waiting?

Lisa is very up front that this is not a book about waiting. The Moment Is Now is about what to do with the gift (and it is a gift!) of singleness that God has given you.  I very much recommend that you check it out! (And it’s FREE today, so why wouldn’t you?!)

You can download the book on amazon by clicking the picture of the cover above, or by following this link: The Moment Is Now: Do More Than Just Survive Your Single Years, Practical Tips to Live Them For God’s Glory.

Don’t forget to share with your friends!

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In Defense Of “Soul Mates”

It has been said that:

Real love is not all feelings.

Real love takes work.

Real love requires choosing your beloved on a daily basis. 

These are all statements that I believe to be true.  But, can I let you in on a little secret?

I believe in soul mates. And [thankfully], I believe that I married mine.

“I have found Him whom my soul loves.”
(Song of Songs 3:4)

It is certainly understandable why so many people want to do away with the notion that those of us called to marriage are predestined to a specific “soul mate.” After all, what if you marry someone who is not your soul mate, and then end up meeting your “true” soul mate five years after the wedding?

For this reason, I did not always believe in soul mates. After all, real love requires work. You are not always going to have that warm and fuzzy feeling about your beloved. I used to reason that as long as I married someone that I was attracted to, and who understood these things, we would likely have had a pretty good marriage and probably live a happy life together.  And that would be just fine.

Then I met Tyler.

To be clear: I do not agree with every part of the common definition of a soul mate. When I say my husband is my soul mate, I do not mean that he is the one who satisfies my heart’s deepest longings or who fulfills my every need. If this is what a soul mate is, then none of us have one, and none of us can be one. As far as that kind of a soul mate is concerned, I agree with Saint Augustine: “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”

On the other hand, I also do not mean that my husband is my soul mate only because we felt some level of attraction for one another, got married, and now we put a lot of work into our relationship. (Even though all of these are of course true statements.)

When I say my husband is my soul mate, I mean that there is a kind of perfection and a peace to our being together that I cannot fully explain— nor take credit for. I think it can only be explained by the grace of God.

When I say my husband is my soul mate, I mean that I believe that I was meant to marry Tyler Pearson, and not just any guy who happened to share my most deeply held beliefs, had similar interests as me, and was easy on the eyes. I believe that God led us to one another, and even though we could have chosen not to, I believe that it was God’s plan for us to get married.

I believe that when I prayed for my future husband while I was growing up, I was praying for Tyler. God knew the name of the man who He would call to lovingly lead me to Heaven through the Sacrament of Marriage. God knew, and it was my job to listen to Him and to discern my relationships to find my soul mate: Tyler Pearson.

If I could tell the younger version of myself one thing about finding my husband it would be this:

Yes, true love will require work and it will not always be easy. But your soul mate will be more than just the result of hard work and similar interests. Believing in soul mates does not mean acting contrary to reason; it just means that you leave some room for grace to lead your heart. Listen to what the desires of your heart are telling you. They are going to lead you to a relationship more wonderful than you can imagine.

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“A Family Which Shows The Spirit Is Alive And At Work”

Last week, my husband and I traveled with our two kids to the east coast to meet up with my side of the family.  After a day or so of having fun exploring New York City, all 12 adults and 15 kids piled into a bus to attend the Papal Mass in Philadelphia, which concluded the World Meeting of Families.

I had a simple prayer intention for The Holy Father’s visit to the US last week.  Like many others, I prayed that Pope Francis would be led by the Holy Spirit, and allow the Spirit to do His work through the events of the visit.  So I was happy to read that, in the Pope’s final homily of the visit, the Holy Father reminded me that I am called to do just the same thing in my vocation:

Anyone who wants to bring into this world a family which teaches children to be excited by every gesture aimed at overcoming evil – a family which shows that the Spirit is alive and at work – will encounter our gratitude and our appreciation. Whatever the family, people, region, or religion to which they belong!

The joy of my family–the joy of all families– lies in showing that the Holy Spirit is “alive and at work.”  As far as I can tell, the best way to do that is to actively seek and see the will of God in everything.  

This, of course, is easier said than done.  Thankfully, our God is a generous and loving Father, always waiting for us to turn to Him even after we stray from His commands.  May we always seek to praise God in all that we do!

Would that all could be prophets of God’s word! Would that everyone could work miracles in the Lord’s name!

 

Here are a few pictures from our Papal Mass adventure:

Yes, matching tshirts were made for the occasion.

Yes, matching tshirts were made for the occasion! (Big thanks to our friend, Nate, for making the design for the back!)

 

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I love my husband 🙂

 

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Pope Francis’ biggest fan!

All glory to God in everything!

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How NOT To Be A Christian

The list of people whose tweets I have sent directly to my phone as text messages is a short one.  It consists of my immediate family, and the Pope.

Pope Francis’ twitter schedule is usually such that his daily tweet goes out in the middle of the night in my timezone, so most days I get to wake up to read a text from the pope. (Not a bad way to start your day, by the way.)

Of all of the Pope’s tweets I have received, this one from last Fall is up there among my favorites:

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There is a tendency to place ourselves and our ambitions at the center of our lives.  This is very human, but it is not Christian.

Right to the heart.  Or maybe closer to the ego.  You’ll have to forgive me, sometimes I am guilty of confusing the two.

We are living at a time when we are encouraged to be selfish.  Sometimes in plain English, (“Your 20s are your selfish years…”), other times maybe a bit more subtly, (“You do you”).

Thankfully, we have a pope who reminds us this is not the call of the Christian.

I don’t know about you, but I certainly need that reminder!

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