7QTF: NFP Week 2016

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Linking up with Kelly and the rest!

To conclude my week of NFP posts, something light! NFP memes!

So, on one of our honeymoon drives, PJ and I listened to one of his favorite soundtracks to one of our well-enjoyed movies, Top Gun. My sense of humor being what it is, and my musically Ignatian prayer life literally seeing God in everything, started thinking of NFP memes based on the lyrics–drawn from a communal well of experiences relayed in public forums, articles, books, witness talks.

*TTA: trying to avoid, TTW: trying to whatever; TTC: trying to conceive

*Phase 1: period, Phase 2: fertile, Phase 3: infertile

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God, forgive me.

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 If you practice a sympto-hormonal method or would like to learn and need the gear, Simcha Fisher has just one more day left of her ClearBlue fertility monitor giveaway!

NFP Week 2016 – Humane Vitae: WWRW

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Another two-fer! A very late link up to the July Wednesday book reviews from fellow bloggers hosted by Carolyn Astfalk and Catholicmom.com.

I finally, FINALLY read the gem Humanae Vitae. This encyclical was “given” (how nice a turn of phrase! like a gift is given) on July 25, 1968 by Pope Paul VI. Annually, NFP Awareness Week is celebrated at this time to commemorate the anniversary of this life changing document. And yes, it is a gift.

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Though I’ve mentioned this encyclical before, I actually had never read it–not all the way through. And now that I have? My, what a beautiful meditation on marriage and humanity. I particularly liked the sections on God’s design for marriage and married love (8 & 9). Those paragraphs should be inserted into every wedding liturgy homily.

Also wonderful? How Paul VI clearly communicates the Church’s authentic mercy for families. He and the Magisterium got it–all the way back in 1968–got how the world has its trials, how couples may have a serious or reasonable rationale for delaying or spacing pregnancy, and how it is okay to use God’s wonderful design to do just that! Of course, true mercy does not involve flouting morals, for how can you be merciful if you care so little for the soul? Further, he calls upon everyone to essentially fix the world so that family life can be improved.

His proscriptions for politicians, doctors, scientists, etc., show that the Church doesn’t want to just leave us hanging. And in the case of Catholic doctors and scientists in particular, some people have taken this message to heart. We have incredible advances in fertility awareness methods, as well as NaProTechnology. Section 15 does address use of certain elements strictly for therapeutic means–I bet he’s smiling in Heaven to know that doctors are continually working to treat and cure bodily diseases with God’s own design of the human body.

However, I am sure he is displeased that his predictions (17) have come true. I’d read about them before, but seeing how precisely he laid it out was humbling. One that stuck out to me that’s not mentioned as much was this: “There is too much clamorous outcry against the voice of the Church, and this is intensified by modern means of communication.” (18) Facebook or Twitter fights, amirite? I really feel like if we as a society could just take time to fully listen, to fully engage with such documents as this (and Pope St. John Paul II’s Love and Responsibility, whose philosophy on the human person can be traced to elements in HV), there’d be less clamor and less outcry. Another disappointment was in what solutions have not been fully realized. In particular, I feel that some priests have shirked their responsibility in answering the Vicar of Christ’s call to accompany couples as they live out these teachings. While some priests and bishops are quite vocal in their defense of the teachings of marriage, I’ve heard stories of others, who, especially when it comes to the beauty of the why of NFP, do not have “stamped in the heart and voice…the likeness of the voice and the love of our Redeemer.” (29).

But I am glad for Pope Paul VI’s message to the world, along with his calls to each of us sons and daughters of Christ. In particular, I  favored this mission, one I’ve adopted through my writing for teens: “the need to create an atmosphere favorable to the growth of chastity so that true liberty may prevail over license and the norms of the moral law may be fully safeguarded.” (22)

That about sums it up. May we leave this week to “go and do likewise.”

Don’t forget! If you want to use a sympto-hormonal form of acceptable spacing births, Simcha Fisher is giving away ClearBlue fertility monitors!

NFP Week 2016/NAS – Wedding Fun

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It’s two-for-one day here at the old blog! Linking up with Morgan and the rest with another July post. The theme is “wedding fun,” and what better kind of opportunity to also touch upon NFP Awareness Week! I mean, the USCCB’s graphic features a couple in their wedding clothes!

Sooo…weddings are fun. I love being brought back to the joy of Day 1 of PJ’s and my marriage, especially given that one of the most exuberant dance songs (Walk the Moon’s “[Shut Up] and Dance with Me) I danced to plays every day on the radio. And yeah. Ahem, other wedding fun [usually] happens, which everyone appropriately avoids talking about or alluding to, except for maybe some relatives of a certain age or nosy disposition who ask about when the grandkids are coming or helpfully do the math when you have a special announcement before the professional photos are even ready or show their disappointment if there’s not. But, as hilariously (and okay, slightly inappropriately) depicted on Jane the Virgin (about 3:20 in, after a very lovely and respectful portrayal of the celebration of the sacrament of Catholic marriage), it seems like maybe a given.

I’ll let you in on a married lady secret. For some newlyweds, when they hear this question, they could be thinking some different answers (which most would never dream of telling you): “Not tonight! [because I know my cycle, and yeah, it’d be a miracle]” or “Not tonight! [and our serious/just/grave reasons are none of your beeswax]” or “Maybe! [because we’re taking the que sera, sera approach]” or “Hopefully! [because I know my cycle and tonight is the night!”]. They do this because they’re already starting their marriage with Natural Family Planning (or not–see the que sera, sera couples).

Prior to marrying PJ, I’d blogged about NFP before (see the categories), but from the perspective of a single or in-a-relationship or engaged-and-learning woman. As a woman practicing it, with a whole other person, my understanding and perspective has naturally been transformed. There’s “knowing” what you’re getting into, and then there’s knowing. Once you add another person’s heart, mind, attitudes, and behaviors into the mix, NFP is like advancing not just to another level, but advanced kingdom.

Heading into our wedding, PJ and I had to make decisions together, decisions I’d encourage any engaged or seriously dating couples to consider. And if you’re like me and have an NFP knowledge base or opinions, understand that you may have to shift or compromise (on what you discern) or (hopefully not!) open your eyes to a challenge to resolve before saying “I do.”

  • What are our NFP IQs? Having worked for a Catholic publisher and being an avid reader of Catholic lady bloggers and family life forums–I knew a lot. So when appropriate, PJ and shared what we knew (and I didn’t scare him off with TMI or “Look, enough people say this can be really hard. You ready for that?”!)
  • What method will we use? There are many! Each has its advantages and disadvantages. I had a pretty clear idea what I wanted to do, and having worked with the coordinator of my archdiocese on an app, really wanted to travel back to learn a sympto-hormonal method. I explained why, giving a brief overview of the other methods, and PJ was on board! What’s important is that if you don’t have a specific method for specific reasons like I did, that you and your guy both explore enough about the options. If you severely disagree, I would recommend finding someone through the Family Life Office for a couple (or the couple at your pre-Cana experience) to talk to–or even a priest to talk in general about how to manage the conflict. Just be aware that sometimes the diocese only offers one form, and in my estimation of the writing, many are fans of theirs and cannot objectively speak to others. And as the graphic above says “open the heart of your marriage”…to possibly changing–maybe not now or in a set time frame, but as circumstance allows. You do not need to have a forever plan.
  • When are we going to start? And to what end? I wish I knew how to underline in WordPress. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO USE NFP IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO. Sometimes some Catholics give other faithful a bad rap for extolling the virtues of NFP too much, as if it was mandatory, or worse, sinful because just/serious/grave  only means “there’s a war on” or “here’s the signed statement from the woman’s uber-Catholic doctor saying she could die.” So you two may decide on wedding fun without consulting a chart. But I do recommend learning a method, as a tool in your back pocket, for when you may discern you need to use it. One of the glorified benefits of NFP is communication. And this applies to engagement. You’ll have to talk about if you need  to start from Day 1, if you don’t care, as well as have to talk about whether wedding night fun should not happen (hey, it’s not a guarantee, and a perfectly valid and survivable choice!).  Another benefit is NFP can not just help you delay pregnancy, but achieve it! So if you both talk and agree you want to start your family as soon as possible, it might just take the guesswork or an agonizing monthly wait-and-see out of it. PJ and I talked about all these things, and more, and acted on the information accordingly. And that’s all I’ll say about that.

To conclude, I want to say that today is the feast of Sts. Anne and Joachim, the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God. What must their wedding have been like? Scripture doesn’t tell us much about this couple; Tradition, a little. Like any bride and groom, I imagine they may have been full of hope and expectations and dreams–but could they have conceived of the notion that together they would conceive our Blessed Mother, a sinless child, and be doting grandparents to the savior of the world, Jesus? On that day, NFP was not a “thing” for them, but we can surmise that love, mercy, life, and a marriage of open hearts was. May they pray for us.

If you want the chance to win a ClearBlue fertility monitor, which is used in the sympto-hormonal forms of NFP, head on over to Simcha Fisher’s blog.

 

NFP Awareness Week 2016- Media Meditation Monday

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Hat tip/credit to the USCCB.

Let’s get this week really underway! (If you’d like a primer on NFP, explore the links provided by the USCCB.)

A couple of years ago I decided to recognize NFP Awareness Week with some regular posts. I’ll try to tag them so you can look them up (and honestly, I need to review what I’ve already said!).

Today I wanted to bring back one of my personal favorite categories, Modern Media Meditation. Considering myself musically Ignatian, I most often and profoundly experience God in music. And believe it or not, some of the principles of NFP are preached in music. That you hear on the radio! No need to wade through the one generic Christian rock station or break out Matt Maher CDs, unless you’d like to.

“All of Me” by John Legend. For our first dance, PJ and I swayed and twirled to young singer Jasmine Thompson’s cover.

Many posts ago, I analyzed the lyrics to the song, with maybe just a hint of an idea that perhaps it could be used for my very own marriage! If someone knows of a version with male and female voices, please let me know, so it can be my new favorite thing. To further connect the words to NFP, especially the lovely theme devised by the USCCB:

  • Love: Not just the passionate, romantic kind (eros) the singer feels for the beloved, but the sacrificial (caritas/agape) kind: “Even when I lose, I’m winning.” Something I could only superficially understand before marriage and living the practice out–“NFP entails loving sacrifice”–I am now experiencing more deeply. Think of any hard part of NFP and that you were losing–the idea is to have the grace to see you’re actually winning, because what you have given up was out of love for the other. And that is “winning.”

 

  • Mercy: This virtue is showing compassion, to “feel with.” Despite  the beloved’s “imperfections,” or the “world beating you down,” the singer loves the person totally and completely. To me, the latter lyric could signify our sinful nature in this fallen world. And NFP in practice does still offer a channel for evil to enter in. What couples have to do (and what PJ and I are striving to live out) is be merciful to one another when he/she struggles, and like God, love anyway–and use that love to “show us still a better way.”

 

  • Life: Okay, this is a little bit of a stretch, because nothing in the song talks about creating a life together. HOWEVER, the singer repeatedly mentions giving his/her “all” to the other, as does the beloved reciprocate. In NFP, you are giving all of yourself, including your potential fertility. When you’re both “showing hearts” (just what shape do you think some NFP charts use to indicate intercourse?), you’re showing openness to each other, but also a child.

And just because there has to be some humor, some choice lyrics are “You’re crazy and I’m out of my mind.” Relying on (a very effective) method of spacing or achieving pregnancy that relies on discernment is a very radical act in today’s culture, and given some of the practice’s idiosynchrosies, a little intimidating. Also, “Risking it all, though it’s hard.” I will always be honest. Before marriage, I could point to forums, articles, “experts” and say, “Let’s not be naive. This is hard.” Now I can say, “Yup! I was right.” Sometimes it is a challenge, and you’re feeling like you are taking a risk. But the point is you do it anyway. Not because you’re lazy. Not because some old man in a funny hat told you you had to or else hell. But because you want to. Because you see it as an act of love.

Some other examples:

  • “Take Me the Way I Am” by Ingrid Michaelson. The sentiment of accepting a person the way she is–you know, a person with the gift of potential fertility (or with challenges)–is clear. The line about Rogaine is unfrotunate, BUT the rest of the singer’s reciprocity is about small acts of care, especially the physical. NFP is all about honoring and caring for your beloved’s body.
  • “Stand by You” by Rachel Platten. While not an obvious choice, this song captures the commitment, even in the most difficult times, a beloved feels for the other. I hear elements of sacrifice and mercy (“I’ll walk through hell with you”) and charity (“Take my [wings] so yours can open to”). NFP involves a deep commitment for spouses, and depending on your discernment, can have its “heavens” you can’t find, and its hells that maybe you find yourselves in. Not to mention that the teaching of why NFP is an approved practice is based on Truth, and living it out requires faith.

What songs have you heard lately that might apply? Which lyrics will see you through your journey?

Oh, and I want to shout out to the blogger and author who really “sold” me on NFP. Simcha Fisher is running a contest for SIX ClearBlue fertility monitors all week. You can use this trusty device as part of a sympto-hormonal method of NFP to achieve or postpone pregnancy.

My Sunday Best

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Linking up with Rosie and the rest!

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This picture had to be taken this way, as my legs are currently propped up in what has been a weekend cycle of “stretch them!” “put them up!” “walk some more!” “elevate with a heating pad!” (Plus my sainted husband is scouring the bathroom and fully deserves to collapse in a chair instead of taking my picture.) Apparently the charley horse in the wee sma’s of Friday  was not properly flexed out, and my right calf has been SORE all weekend.

Though I normally don’t like to layer in the summer–especially now that I have to sport compression stockings–church was quite chilly with its A/C. The pink tank is Old Navy, I’m pretty sure; the white top might be H&M, can’t really remember; and the skirt is a consignment store find that I was able to get one last wear out of. The waist could sit above the bump!

Best Line: “What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish?”

I like this line from Luke because to me, it’s a reminder that God doesn’t give us bad things after we’ve asked him for good ones. But it is also challenging in the sense that still, bad things do happen. As I understand it, it’s not so much God willfully ignoring prayers for say, health, and gleefully pressing a tragedy button instead. But more like because we live in a fallen world, bad things happen, and though it may be hard to understand, God uses those times to give us even greater goods.

Oh, and I wanted to make some special connection to this and NFP Awareness Week, as I usually like to acknowledge the time with some writing, but I’m at a loss. Here’s the mention: It’s NFP Awareness Week! Erm…it’s a fish, not a snake.😛

REMINDER: Caitlin E. (a blogger) and Deanna T., or you know followers of this link-up with those names, please email brittleighbooks@gmail.com. You’ve won a prize!

7QTF: Pregnant. And a Pause.

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Linking up with Kelly and the rest!

So there was a little pause there with my blogging, and no it wasn’t “pregnant” (meaning it wasn’t serving some greater purpose); just lazy. : P To give you an idea of how much I have to muster up the wherewithal to commit to this project that has given me joy, an outlet, etc., I started this post on Sunday.

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Happily still pregnant, even if as Sunday’s picture shows, not really looking at it. In the interim, PJ and I found out who we should be expecting around Thanksgiving!

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Meet Sweetie, Jr., y’all. His name will be the surprise.

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Saw this recently and laughed and laughed.

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Yup, that’s pretty much what it’s like.

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I may have mentioned on an NAS post (“What I’d Miss ABout Being Single”) about loving my bed. It’s like a cloud. And when PJ and I started talking about how we like to sleep and appropriately testing out his existing mattress, I told him, “We’ll need a new mattress. I like ’em soft enough to think I’m on a cloud.”

People, my cloud came last week.

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That’s the LeachCo Back n Belly surround-fluff system. Worth every penny (and got us to qualify for the Amazon Welcome Box for Moms, as well as a SkipHop toy for Prime Day).

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Sunday featured many young ones raising their voices to the heavens–some in delight, most in supplication. Our son was all

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and that little fist (or more likely foot) of his echoed in reply.

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 Speaking of kicks, every time I feel him move (or is it his hiccups?), this is how I react:

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 Yeah, totally had an XL Kit Kat for second breakfast. What? I needed something to go with my half-caff coffee, which I needed because I had an earlier shift at work…

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IN TIME FOR CHRISTMAS/NEW YEAR’S RIGHT?!?!?!

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Little dude is due Thanksgiving, and already I’m thinking about how we’ll need to get back into the practice of NFP. More to come next week, as I’ll try to do my usual recognition of NFP Awareness Week with some posts. But, yeah, getting excited that there’s potentially even MORE clarity post-partum than what Marquette/Boston Cross Check offers.

AND OH, would the Caitlin E. and Deanna T. who entered the latest Ten Commandments for Kissing Gloria Jean PLEASE email brittleighbooks@gmail.com? Thanks!

That’s all I’ve got. Happy weekend, everyone!

NAS: Wedding Fun

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Linking up with Morgan and the rest!

We are now fully immersed in wedding season! What are your favorite parts of a wedding? Where do you find the best dresses for the occasion? Have any unique gift ideas? Share anything and all tips and tricks with us!

Well…I meant to do a whole series of posts each Tuesday this month on weddings and marriage, as my first wedding anniversary was July 11!😀 Buuuuut my unintentional blogging hiatus meant it’s half gone. So here are some thoughts from a recentish bride who LOVED going to weddings and how she felt once she actually became one herself! Bonus: Some pretty pictures at the end!

Favorite Parts

Most weddings I’ve attended as an adult were Catholic Masses, or in one case, a church celebration of the Rite of Marriage (no Eucharist). By far my favorite part was seeing what musical pieces, hymns, and readings the couple selected. After attending a few, I came to piece together my own wedding liturgy…years before I’d even met my groom, PJ!

When PJ and I finally did pick out the elements, I did get some of my long-dreamt-of selections, but it was also surprising to see how certain things changed. Since it would make the post too long, I’ll do a future one on what we decided on.

And of course, seeing the bride and groom so happy and in love. Just overall the feeling of JOY everyone has.

Also, a favorite part, to be honest: open bar! Now, I did not get toasted after the customary champagne toast, but it’s always real nice to enjoy something delicious and bubbly without worrying about carrying cash. At one wedding, when I was 20, I had to pay for a soda, while the keg was free. Naturally when it was my turn to plan the reception, treating guests was a must. Plus, there are many classy ways to do so without worrying about people taking things to extremes.

THE Dress

I always like dressing up, and consider weddings, no matter how casual, to be special occasions, and as such, deserving of something a tick above my Sunday best, at least. Most of my favorites came from a consignment shop in the Boston area (also in CT), Second Time Around. Others were from random department stores. One came from Express. For church, I usually used a nice wrap, cardigan, or shrug. A tip for finding Mass-appropriate or modest dresses is to avoid the Juniors section or trendy stores and try the Special Occasions racks at department stores or shops like Ann Taylor. Though they may have had a past reputation for frumpy or “stuff-only-your-aged-aunt-would-wear,” the trend now is for classy frocks. Plus most women of most ages want to look youthful, but not ridiculous.

When I finally got to go wedding dress shopping (a whirlwind 18 hours over a Friday afternoon/evening and Saturday morning involving 20-some-odd dresses), I knew I wanted sleeves and an appropriate back, given my hair will not hold a veil. Thanks to Duchess of Cambridge, Kate, and Downton Abbey, sleeves are more of a thing now, so I got my wish all in one dress, ON SALE, at David’s Bridal. And for the showers, bachelorette party, and rehearsal dinner, I got them all at ModCloth.

Gift Ideas

When attending weddings, I usually just went in on group gift from the registry, or added a personal touch, especially if the bride and I were dear dear friends. For  a non-religious couple in our family, my husband and I got them this wine storage box with some selections we knew they’d appreciate. They had bought a house together a year previously, so they pretty much had it all.

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Some of PJ and I’s favorite gifts:

  • A “bouquet” of Masses in our honor
  • This prayer offering from a fellow Knight of Columbus, who just so happens to be be the brother of the Vocations Director at the Oblates, who was once a spiritual director of mine during a Spiritual Exercises Lenten retreat. SMALL, BEAUTIFUL WORLD!

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But truly the best gift of all was seeing the smiling faces of family and friends who made it all the way to some random town in CT to see us wed and celebrate the start of our lives together. Auntie Seraphic wrote about weddings and acknowledged how sometimes the experience of attending weddings as a single person is not always a blissful one, but do know your presence and happiness for the couple is truly a blessing.

And now some pics from the amazingly talented Jon Cerritelli and Prestige Barkley Photographic Design!

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