The feast of The Holy Innocents, celebrated on December 28th, really pricks my heart. Therefore, I find it rather disappointing that it seems to pass by each year without much attention. Certainly the Church calendar is dotted with the memorials of so many great martyrs, but the Holy Innocents offer us a particular model for our current culture.
In part 1 of this discussion on rethinking your birth control, I defined what it means to be a woman. Not just a modern woman, but a whole woman according to God’s design.
Part 2 detailed attributes of her feminine genius in the form of female fertility. The cyclic ebb and flow of her fertile and infertile phases and the means by which she is able to read her own body language.
The next two installments detailed how contraceptives help fracture womanhood into parts, many attacking female health by suppressing natural hormones and inducing early abortions. Uncovered, also, was the dishonesty of pharmaceutical companies and the pressure placed on women by medical providers.
Fear being a major factor for couples new to Natural Family Planning, I spoke about the need for couples to address their concerns in part 5.
Knowledge is power, as they say, and I think (if you’ve been following along) I’ve covered a fair amount of ground so where do we go from here?
Trash the Contraceptives
Suffice to say, you need to trash the carcinogenic/abortifacient contraceptives (and the whole mentality that goes along with them) and reclaim your status as a woman.
Stop giving yourself away in pieces and demand that your spouse (and doctor) respect you, all of you. Because asking you to jeopardize your health does not equate to respect or love.
And, by all means, start respecting yourself from your imperfect skin and dimpled thighs, to your fertile mucus and menses. Ditch your Cosmo magazine and a few Pilates classes to delve into a book or take a course on Natural Family Planning (aka Fertility Awareness Method FAM).
Start a Communal Conversation
Then, most importantly, begin a communal conversation with your spouse and the One Who made you into the creative being you are.
One of the greatest gifts that stems from NFP is the ongoing discussion it triggers. Unlike long-term contraceptives, that make family planning a generally mute point cycle after cycle, year after year; natural methods invite husband and wife to relay their thoughts, fears, desires and frustrations regularly, so they can decide whether or not to make use of the fertile window.
Since human vision alone is short-sighted (and often selfish,) when measured against God’s Providence, couples seeking to practice NFP successfully turn toward Him (Who orders all things for good) and seek His will above their own.
Baby or No Baby?
Each new cycle leads them to consider, “Should we optimize our chances to conceive this cycle or abandon ourselves fully to God’s timing or do we have a serious reason to postpone a pregnancy?”
Indeed sometimes the answer may be an emphatic “YES” to hoping for a baby. At other times the spouses may discern a real reason to answer “NOT NOW.”
We know a woman who has a heart issue and another pregnancy could result in death. She and her husband sacrifice the fertile time in order to protect her.
Another husband could be struggling to provide financially, or be in danger of losing his job, or a wife may be overwhelmed with a particularly needy child, or suffering from depression, so they, too, may prayerfully discern a need to abstain, for the betterment of the whole family.
Being Sensitive to the Needs of Another
This is part of the beauty of remaining open to life, it causes a husband and wife to be sensitive to the needs of each other.
Our friend’s husband placed her welfare first, and he finds non-sexual ways to express his love during the phases of abstinence.
Perhaps, a wife will opt to work outside the home to help supplement her husband’s income, or he might help with the children more often to alleviate some of his wife’s stress; thus, possibly alleviating the restrictions that prevented them from seeking another child.
NFP Isn’t a Requirement
Couples aren’t automatically obliged to practice periodic abstinence. Some couples discern a call to let the Creator, alone, plan the size and spacing of their family.
Not to be discounted, less fertile/infertile couples, who dearly desire a child or another child, may be asked to carry their cross and/or suffer repeated loss. These couples can also benefit from drawing their strength, comfort and continued guidance from the Lord, Who pours out plenteous grace.
Is There Even a Difference?
Not infrequently discussions abound about the how’s and why’s of using NFP for the purpose of spacing/limiting children. Some ask if there’s really a difference between contraception and natural methods with regards to morality. There is.
With NFP, the wife’s body remains whole. The lovers do nothing to counter God’s design, whether they opt to engage in or abstain from relations during her fertile window. As for right reasons to abstain, couples who continually seek God’s will above their own and strive to mirror His attributes can find the correct course.
Remembering that contraceptives sell women on the erroneous idea that they can strip sex of its procreative purpose and craft a happier ending; it’s not surprising that when God foils their intent with a baby, they rely on abortion to wipe the slate clean.
- Fifty-one percent of women who have abortions had used a contraceptive method in the month they got pregnant, most commonly condoms (27%) or a hormonal method (17%).
Or they accept the unintended pregnancy until some doctor informs them that their child’s imperfections are going to destroy their well-crafted blueprint: 2.1 healthy children (one boy and one girl of course), the white picket fence, and dual incomes. Then it’s off to the abortionist to spare themselves the inconvenience of rethinking their dreams.
Divorcing sex from its procreative potential leads couples to view children less (if at all) as gifts to be received and more as property to be obtained or discarded. One doesn’t have to look far to see how this mentality has negatively impacted marriage and the family structure.
My Newlywed Plans for Perfection
As a newlywed, I thought my white-knuckled hold on life would result in fulfillment, so I contracepted until we deemed ourselves ready to widen our circle. Like many people, I expected life to unravel according to my ambitions. But, three years in, God shook hold my clenched grip with the death of my firstborn. Devastated, my eyes were initially blind to the doorway that swung open because of that event.
My husband and I could have chosen to separate. Or we could have built up a wall of protection. But, instead, we learned to savor life, to value its preciousness and to accept its unpredictability (as well as its sometimes insufficient length). We kicked the Pill to the curb with those revelations and that unobstructed door has welcomed 8 unique persons into our family and ushered 6 souls into eternity. Indeed in my imagination, I never could have envisioned the abundance of blessings that would pour forth from our willingness to allow God to reign in our marriage.
Take the Next Step
After you dump the contraceptives and learn to read your body’s language, fortify your marriage by discovering more ways to express your love. Deepen your faith together and agree to solicit His counsel, first and last.
Finally, when your life changes (and it undoubtedly will) become a witness to Truth. Show that women deserve better than abuse, masquerading as modern feminism. Stand up as proof, that God’s ways are always better than anything we can conjure up.
Did You Miss a Post in This Series?
(1) Reclaiming Womanhood: Why It’s Time to Rethink Your Birth Control Plan; (2) Demystified: How the Female Fertility Cycle Works; (3) The Nitty Gritty of Birth Control and the Abortion Back-up Plan; (4) Knowledge Is Power: How Doctors and Big Pharma Profit From Ignorance; (5) Pulling Back the Veil and Exposing Your Genuine Fears; (6) Now That You Know, What’s Next
Thursday morning started out way too early. By the faint light of the moon, we rose at 4am and began the task of getting ten people woken up, bundled up, filled up and buckled up.
Spirits were high, though still a bit groggy, when our big van rounded the driveway in route for a long journey. After completing an internal inventory of gloves, lunches, coats and kids, I tuned in the radio.
Like a wild fire doused with buckets of water, my heart was temporarily depressed as the newscaster reported that the Unborn Pain Capable Act had just been shelved by the Republicans. An insult to the injury that marked this day, I considered the timing of that decision a direct hit meant to snuff out the hopes of so many faithful who, for the 42nd time, were planning to put boots on the ground in the capitol city.
The Tiny Person in My Lap
Just less than thirty minutes later, we dashed onto the buses that pointed north. Sometime after roll-call, a blessing and breakfast, the baby on my lap relented and let sleep carry him away.
Sitting there admiring that little person, remembering the prayers I’d prayed to get him and the trials I’d endured to keep him, my heart felt heavy as salty tears tried to form in the corners of my eyes.
At that same time, the bus captain pressed the play button on a pro-life video in which a cast of players detailed the horrible history and statistics of abortion. A worthwhile film and one I’d watched last year, my mind went into overdrive in an attempt to ignore the movie.
My avoidance wasn’t connected to boredom, but to a self-preserving strategy that meant to guard my already fractured heart.
Thoughts of the Sacred Heart of Jesus burned in me. My stomach hurt thinking about the wounds He bore for such an ungrateful humanity.
Unborn Pain Capable Act
That Unborn Pain Capable Act my representatives cast aside would have given legal protection to a child at 20 weeks gestation and beyond. Thinking of not so very long ago when the body on my lap was wriggling inside of it, anger stirred in me as I thought about how easily another mother could execute her child even up to his/her date of delivery.
At its inception, proponents of Roe vs. Wade focused their arguments on the false debate that abortion didn’t end a life; it simply ended a pregnancy (as though pregnancy, when unwanted, doesn’t actually involve a baby).
Now with the advent of ultrasound, that argument fails. Common sense should dictate that good medicine would focus on truth and well-being thus eradicating the tragedy of abortion; but instead, the blood thirty Planned Parenthood-minded puppeteers simply rewrote their talking points.
Today, a woman’s right to comfort and ease trumps a baby’s right to life (end of story).
Taking Evil to a Deeper Level
This shift in debate takes the evil of abortion to a deeper level. While once young and frightened mothers could mask their deed behind the shield of ignorance, today they see clearly that the appointment at the clinic is nothing less than a date with an executioner.
And who can sanitize the job of the abortionist who wholeheartedly forces not only the peanut-sized child from his mother’s womb, but today is free to kill her full-term child as well.
My husband asked me just last week how it is that I can still maintain a sense of shock and naivete whenever events like the Republicans’ refusal to stand by their public convictions occurs. I pointed out that hope causes me to invest in goodness, to believe that every sinner is only a step away from repentance.
Four hours later, the bus deposited our group in front of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception for a diocesan Mass celebrated by our bishop.
Taking our pew, my eyes spied an image overhead of Christ pouring out His graces. With saints caught up beside Him, I remembered Who we are all called to serve at every moment (most especially in the most difficult ones). I drew strength from the picture, encouraged by the holy men, women and children who persevered throughout the ages.
My Marching Orders
Then as the responsorial psalm was sung, I couldn’t help but whisper a prayer of thanksgiving as God reminded me of my orders that day. (Ps 40:7-8a, 8b-9, 10, 17)
Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.
Sacrifice or oblation you wished not,
but ears open to obedience you gave me.
Burnt offerings or sin-offerings you sought not;
then said I, “Behold I come.”
R. Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.
“In the written scroll it is prescribed for me,
To do your will, O my God, is my delight,
and your law is within my heart!”
R. Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.
I announced your justice in the vast assembly;
I did not restrain my lips, as you, O LORD, know.
R. Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.
May all who seek you
exult and be glad in you,
And may those who love your salvation
say ever, “The LORD be glorified.”
R. Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will
Gone to Do His Will
We were there for the Lord on Thursday, January 22nd, gone to do His will. Not matter if our representatives failed Him again, the opposition mocked us or our culture railed against His laws, we had to stay the course with ears open in obedience.
Later from our marching path, we caught sight of the dome of the US Capitol Building. Wrapped in scaffolding, I couldn’t help but find it a fitting visual for the day.
That majestic dome which invites the eyes upward has become weathered, cracked and eroded, like our government itself. Its beauty now shrouded under construction; it distracts the onlookers attention, keeping us earth-bound.
No matter what the appearance on the outside, the same structure exists inside, a structure erected under and to the Creator’s precepts.
For 42 years, this pro-life march has been tread down the streets of our capitol and the halls of our legislatures.
For 42 years, unborn citizens have suffered the injustice of being discounted from the rally cry that ‘every life matters.’
For 42 years, the blind and deaf have stood in our governmental assembly whimpering a cowardly refrain and abandoning their convictions when the winds of self interest blow in their direction.
In juxtaposition, for 42 years, faithful men, women and children have come forth to speak with unrestrained lips, giving testimony with footsteps, to the glory of God and His creations, born and unborn.
Though we may tire of the task, feel un-welcomed, discouraged or overwhelmed we must and will continue to carry our signs, hold fast to our convictions and march forward until the day when every life matters according to the law and in every heart.
We no longer: drink diet soda, eat a growing variety of sweets or chew gum with artificial sweeteners. My husband switched us to tooth polish without fluoride and soap without antibacterial agents.
Our eggs come free-ranged, our bread whole grain, and our produce organic. Attending home school functions nowadays, we have to be mindful of gluten, nuts and food dyes in whatever we bring to share.
From sensitivities to allergies, and everything in between, there’s an increased awareness of how what we put into our bodies affects our well-being. Labels contain ingredient lists, product packaging includes warnings, and restaurants highlight low-calorie menu items, to aid consumers.
Once upon a time, airplanes and eateries had smoking sections. School lunches consisted of peanut butter and jelly on white bread. Today, you’d be hard pressed to find even an outdoor event that welcomes tobacco users, and whole school buildings are designated as nut-free.
Time and science have taught us a few lessons about toxins and disease, allergies and life threatening reactions. In fact, the government felt so compelled to protect the citizenry from harm, that it now regulates sales and distribution of tobacco products (among a host of other things). Continue reading
It’s happening again. Article after article appearing in my news feed. The theme is the same, although each has a slightly different slant to offer. Just as last year, I pour over each one, nodding all the while as my eyes scan the screen. The topic is birth control. Each post does a good job at lifting the veil and sparking interest. However, I’m usually left thinking that there are a few more dots to be connected if the author’s aim is to cast a wide net.
What I mean is, there is so (SO) much more to this subject than simply deciding whether or not to swallow a pill or allow a doctor to insert some device inside of you. Yes, yes we need to shout from the rooftops the truth about the indisputable physical harms being perpetrated against our sisters, but that’s not where we need to start.
Let’s Start Talking
Here’s my intention: I want to begin a conversation and continue it for a while. I want to offer a few thoughts/facts for you to ponder. And then let you walk away to digest it. I hope you’ll come back with questions because I’m going to try to cover a few more bases than I’ve seen covered recently, by the end of this blog post series. Continue reading
Imagine you are a scared teenager who has just discovered you are pregnant by a boyfriend who adamantly tells you he’s not interested in raising his child. Maybe you’re a single woman whose married boyfriend finally admits he has no intention of leaving his wife and helping raise his child. Perhaps, you are too poor to take care of the kids you already have and you feel overwhelmed by the thought of having another. Or you trusted your contraceptives to make your sex life sterile and now you’re shocked to find out they didn’t work.
Someone offers you a solution. Maybe it’s the parents who threatened to kick you out or the boyfriend who wants to keep his options open or perhaps the guy who raped you; someone advises you to have an abortion. You know, just some out-patient surgery to dilate your cervix and rip/vacuum out the “contents” or some magic pills to force your body to dispel the little body growing inside of you. It’s just that easy; a bit of cash, some anesthetic or pills and your problems will disappear (at least that’s what they tell you).
** all quotes attributed to the SC group and photos referenced appear in an interview posted on The Daily Dot (dated July 23, 2014)
“Hilarious” that’s the adjective used to describe the pro-aborts’ signs in front of a local abortion mill. A couple has made it their weekend chore to mock Christian pro-lifers and chronicle their efforts on a blog. Their dedication to confrontation merited them some viral exposure from a writer who found the couple’s signs (that state things like “I like turtles” and ‘Hail Santa”) to be side-achingly hysterical. The coverage inspired a fellow parishioner to post the article on facebook along with a call to offer a counter-balance to the situation.
This is the building.
This is the building we used to drive a half an hour to get to.
This is the building that we used to park our big, pro-life stickered van in front of.
This is the building that drew us down to our knees.
This is the building which beckoned us to pray.
This is the building where I encountered my first real taste of venomous words (shouted at my children and me).
This is the building that reduced me to tears.
This is the building where babies were slaughtered, ripped, suctioned and incinerated.
This is the building where women went in whole and came out broken.
This is the building that cried out to God.
God heard the cries.
This is the building now.
This is now the building that people will travel hours if not days to reach.
This is now the building where couples will proudly walk hand in hand through the front door.
This is now the building that will call people off of their knees.
This is now the building in which prayers will begin to be answered.
This is now the building in which words of encouragement are spoken.
This is now the building which will inspire tears of joy.
This is now the building in which the hope of babies will be restored.
This is now the building where women will go in broken and come out whole again.
This is now the building that glorifies the Lord.
Raleigh Women’s Health Organization
Formerly this building bore the duplicitous name of Raleigh Women’s Health Organization. It was an abortion facility.
Then it became a focal point for the 40 Days for Life campaign in Raleigh, NC. That is when my family and I first became aware of its existence. Participating in the 40 Days for Life campaign, my brood of then seven children, my husband and I stood more than a couple of hours before this edifice praying for the souls lost inside.
Anger Words and Angelic Pictures
A worker, angered by our silent praying one bright afternoon, stopped her car at the end of the driveway. She told me how stupid I was. My prayers, she advised, were useless.
I continued praying.
Another day, one of my little ones was full of questions which inspired me to paint him a visual picture.
“Consider the angels,” I said. “Think of them. They must be surrounding this place. The angels are here with us praying for an end to abortion and they’re escorting all those precious, unborn souls back to heaven with them and interceding for their hurt mamas.”
We continued praying.
In time, I heard that the clinic closed. After the death of its owner, there was no one willing to run the killing site.
That was then. This is now.
Time passed, as it always does and I’d filed those experiences away. Prayers had been answered.Though with so much more to be done to end the scourge of abortion, I continued to pray. But I’d largely forgotten that building.
Then, a friend emailed me this picture of the building as it stands today. It’s abortion services long gone, I couldn’t help but consider those angels again. I imagine they are still there, but now their mission has changed. Now they must be singing hymns of praise and thanksgiving, offering petitions for patients’ healing so that new souls can be planted.
You see, the address now houses Chapel Hill Tubal Reversal Center and its two extraordinary physicians, who are making it their life’s work to restore women’s reproductive health through tubal ligation reversal and corrective tubal surgery. Drs. Monteith and Berger claim that,
“Together they have performed more successful tubal ligation reversals and tubal surgeries for blocked tubes resulting in the birth of more babies than any other doctors in the world.”
We know Who triumphs in the end, but it is always a blessing to see the Hand of God so overtly at work.
They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm. Psalm 20:8
|Gabriel Max (Artist)|
Her name was Misty. It was printed in chalk on the nurses’ station board along with a list of other first names. We would never actually meet, but I caught a glimpse of her one day as I walked passed her room. The mental picture I’d developed before that sighting was of course all wrong.
Naive, overwhelmed newbies we were, but Misty’s family were well-seasoned veterans in this system of corridors, white coats and ever-changingprognoses. They took to us and us to them in a fast friendship that felt like it would last a lifetime.