Embracing the Cross

“Where there is life, there is hope.” – Bilbo Baggins


My husband and I have been married for just over ten years. Not a long time, but enough of a span to have learned a thing or two about the “for worst” part of our vows. We’ve weathered a deployment, nine moves, five pregnancies, one conversion process, depression, anxiety, family separations and heartache, legal challenges, and enough financial strain to make your head spin. There have been days when the only prayer I could I utter were the words Jesus spoke on the cross in agony: “My God, My God – why have You abandoned me?!”

My crosses are real. They threaten to crush me under their immense weight. I feel alone, struggling to breathe. Like the walls are closing in, and there’s no way out.

In the opening of St. James’ letter to the dispersed Church, in the midst of great persecutions, he writes: “Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4.)  Excuse me? Consider it all joy? The heartache? The pain? The soul-crushing horror? How?! How am I supposed to do that?

Looking back at each of my crosses, I see where God used them to help me grow in love, in kindness, in humility (He keeps sending me the crosses to help with my humility…), in goodness, in mercy, in compassion, and in forgiveness. He is calling me to holiness, and providing me a way to get there. He is calling me to sainthood, to perfection. To completion.  And for this? For this, I am grateful for my crosses. If they bring me closer to Jesus, I daresay I love them. And with His help, I can even learn to embrace them. With joy.

What about you, sister? Pour yourself a cup of hot tea – or coffee with a splash of Bailey’s – and consider the crosses in your life. Pray about the one that is leaving you breathless. Weak. Tired. In that  moment, thank God for the opportunity to grow closer to Him. Ask Him to help you find the joy.

Unequally Yoked: A Catholic Marries an Agnostic (Part III)

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***This is the final post of a three-part series chronicling the spiritual journey of our marriage. Born and raised a devout Catholic, I didn’t take my faith as seriously in college and began dating a pro-choice agnostic. This is the story of how we balanced the yoke. If you’ve ever wondered if a Catholic can marry an agnostic without compromising the Catholic’s faith, read on. Our story may help you discern whether a marriage of “mixed cult,” or between a baptized and unbaptized party, is a good idea.

Read Part I and Part II to get up to speed!

Well, we got pregnant again, and I suffered a temporary setback. I remember throwing my pregnancy test against the wall, and yelling that I just couldn’t do this.   I literally threw temper tantrum while my five month old slept soundly.  My husband just stared at me – I have a feeling he was trying to figure out how my hissy fit factored into my Catholic belief of being “open to life” and babies being a blessing.  Though he was happy about a new baby, he announced that he would be getting a vasectomy (he announced that he was seriously considering a vasectomy).  I was crushed.  I knew this was against God’s plan for our marriage, and that it would only cause more heartache in the long run.  I also remembered thinking maybe, just maybe, I should get some formal instruction in this NFP thing, because clearly I wasn’t getting something right.  I decided right then that every prayer and every bit of suffering of the next nine months would be offered for Superman to change his mind about his vasectomy.  I began to pray and open my heart to God in ways I never had before.  I began to ask for His will to be done, not my own.

Continue reading

Unequally Yoked: A Catholic Marries an Agnostic (Part II)

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***This is the secondof a three-part post chronicling the spiritual journey of our marriage. Born and raised a devout Catholic, I didn’t take my faith as seriously in college and began dating a pro-choice agnostic. This is the story of how we balanced the yoke. If you’ve ever wondered if a Catholic can marry an agnostic without compromising the Catholic’s faith, read on. Our story may help you discern whether a marriage of “mixed cult,” or between a baptized and unbaptized party, is a good idea.

Read Part I here.

He called the next day and said “I have been thinking, and I am ok with getting married in the Church.  You were raised Catholic and you’re a good person, so it can’t be all that bad.”  I was overjoyed! I promised God I would thank Him for that grace the rest of my life.  Superman also agreed that we would use Natural Family Planning (NFP) in our marriage for the times we had serious reasons to avoid pregnancy.  Although he didn’t understand the moral consequences of artificial birth control, he knew that he didn’t want me pumping my body full of cancer-causing hormones.  That September, our precious daughter was born, and we were married in the Church three months later. I offered up the pain of my first childbirth for my husband’s conversion. Since I waited a *bit* too long to get my epidural, well…I’m pretty sure his soul made some decent progress because of that! Hah!

The first years of our married life were tough for me spiritually.  Though I had made much spiritual progress from the place I was when I resented the Lord, I was now resenting our disunity in faith.  Because I resented it, I didn’t go to Mass every Sunday.  I went once a month, maybe.  I reasoned that my infant didn’t know we were missing Mass, so did it really matter?  My prayers were sporadic at best.  My love for God was more like a wimpy tealight candle than a blazing inferno. Continue reading

Unequally Yoked: A Catholic Marries an Agnostic (Part I)

***This is the first of a three-part post chronicling the spiritual journey of our marriage. Born and raised a devout Catholic, I didn’t take my faith as seriously in college and began dating a pro-choice agnostic. This is the story of how we balanced the yoke. If you’ve ever wondered if a Catholic can marry an agnostic without compromising the Catholic’s faith, read on. Our story may help you discern whether a marriage of “mixed cult,” or between a baptized and unbaptized party, is a good idea.

I was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, the first of my parents’ six children.  My dad worked as an engineer, and my mom was a stay-at-home mom.  My parents were cradle Catholics, married in the Church, and all six of us were baptized as babies.  My dad had attended 12 years of Catholic school, and was well-formed in his faith.  Though Catholic, my Mom’s family stopped attending Mass when she was a teenager.  As she got older and without a supportive foundation at home, Mom fell away from the Church.  My Daddy always went to Mass, even when he was sick.  Momma chose to attend a Protestant church, and my brother and I always chose to go to church with her.  It was more fun, after all.  The preacher sent the kids to “children’s church,” where we got grape juice, goldfish crackers, and talked about God.  It was SOOOO much more fun than Daddy’s “boring” church!

When I was in third grade, my dad invited me to attend First Friday devotions with him at his parish.  I will never forget those special nights with him.  We attended Adoration and Benediction together, and I was mesmerized by the incense, the chanted prayers, the Latin, and the solemnness of this type of prayer. Even though Dad’s church was “boring,” those Friday nights really stirred my soul.  Looking at the Blessed Sacrament in the beautiful Monstrance, I was transfixed.  I didn’t know it yet, but I was falling in love with Jesus. Continue reading

One Word for 2017: Think {and a link-up!}

One Word for 2017: Think

For the past few years, I have selected a word for the new year instead of making countless resolutions that are impossible to keep. This year my word is short, sweet, and oh-so-necessary for an impulsive, extroverted sanguine like myself:

Think.

In 2017, I want to think before I respond. Think before I act. Think before I eat foods that hurt my health. Think before I drink too much. Think, in the silence of my heart. To process, to understand, to mull over. To reason. To examine. To ponder.

In the early years of our marriage, one of the things that drove me crazy about my husband was that in the course of a conversation, he would pause – a pregnant, drawn-out, i n t e r m i n a b l e pause. It drove me nuts, especially during arguments. I began to feel like I had to monologue just because it took him forever to answer. I didn’t have time for any of that nonsense. There was always more to discuss, to analyze, and to hash out. I didn’t understand why he wouldn’t engage in a more timely fashion. A friend of ours, upon meeting my husband, actually joked with his wife, “He’s like a stoner. You say something to him, and he just stares, like you don’t even know if he heard you. You just about decide to move on in the conversation, or change the subject, and he finally says something back.” Continue reading