For Moms Who Feel Like They’re Failing

The Many Faces of Failing

Well, I lost my patience. Again. The kids were absorbed in playing a game and forgot to take our puppy out. Then he went to the bathroom on the floor. As the lone adult in the house for nine hours each day, I know I should be able to be the mature one and maintain my calm, but sometimes I fail. I take in a slow deep breath and prepare to make amends, feeling as shattered as my kids’ hearts at my sudden harshness.

I loaded the dishwasher as fast as I could while my youngest screamed for more candy. I had already given her the chocolate chips as a distraction so I’d have time to finish this one chore. But I got distracted by another kid asking a question and by the time I got back to it, the tot was screaming and holding an empty bowl up to me in chocolate smudged hands. Completely overstimulated, my hands start shaking and I’m not quite sure how I’ll get it all done.

Sometimes, I yearn for quiet. Not a stolen moment here or there, but quiet I can count on. I want to be left alone long enough to take a long shower, or read a full chapter of a book, or think a single complete thought without interruption. In and of itself that isn’t bad, but the surge of guilt I feel over even having those feelings becomes its own kind of failing, too.

Often, in the middle of all these failures, I’m completely overwhelmed by the fact that there are four tiny souls in my care and it’s a huge part of my work on this earth to help them get to heaven. I know that I want better for them. I know they deserve better. I look at pictures of our Holy Mother and feel so far from being like her that I have to turn away.

What Do We Do When We Feel Like We’re Failing?

When my book came out, I would hyper-focus on negative reviews and dismiss the good ones, even though there are so many more good reviews than bad! It became necessary for me to stop reading reviews as a whole so I could keep a healthy balance as I wrote the next things. If only I could stop reading my successes and failures in the same way and live in some mythical land of neutral ignorance.

But we can’t just avoid our weakness or our triumphs in some assumed ignorant bliss — we have to live them all. And we have to reckon with what they mean.

So, what do we do when we feel like we’re failing?

To start, my many failures make it abundantly clear that I’m not a saint yet. I sin, I am flawed, parts of me are broken. I’m not fully the person God made me with the potential to be.

I think we can do two things once we have that realization. We can think that we never can be saints, that sainthood is reserved for the Mother Marys, and Thérèses, and Lucys, and that we’ll never quite make the cut.

I like to think that most days, when the dust settles, I look toward an option two. Option two is the voice that tells me there have been many quiet saints made of mothers throughout time, most of whom we’ve never even heard of. It tells me that this calling can purify me and build me into an example of holiness for my sake and the sake of my children. It’s the option that tells me I’m not a saint yet.

My kids see me struggle. They see me kneel down and ask for forgiveness for being impatient, or raising my voice, or assuming the worst.

Perhaps one of the most important things is that my children see me not give up. They need to see me go to Confession, they need to see me say I’m sorry and work to make amends. They need to see me practicing the faith and receiving the Sacraments and working every day to open myself up more to Grace.

Because, when all is said and done, they’ll have their own paths to sanctification. Maybe it will be smooth sailing and Grace will flow in them and through them from an early age, filling them to the brim. But maybe it will be more of a rocky road.

And if their path includes stumbling and picking themselves up, over and over, then maybe, just maybe, they’ll remember their mom struggled and never gave up, too.

So, to all the moms who feel like a failure. Let’s keep going. Let’s show repentance and penance and let’s show redemption. Let’s let our children see us lean into our faith when we struggle. Most saints are made, not born that way.

Our little future saints need examples to follow, not only in the great saints of the Church. They also need to see it inside the walls of their home. God has been so faithful to convert so many hearts, I have to trust that he can take what mine has to offer and mold it into something beautiful and fruitful, too.

-Lorelei

Also Published on CatholicMom (May 2021)

Learning to say “I Forgive You”

Struggling to Say It

Growing up, the words “I’m sorry” and “I forgive you” didn’t always come together. I think my parents, particularly when dealing with me and my brother, did their best to teach us how to get along and make things right when someone was offended. But one of the things that strikes me the most when looking back, is that repentance and forgiveness wasn’t necessarily modeled to us, at least not regularly and consistently for me to remember that as a pattern of family life.

I think that’s partly why, as an adult, it was really hard for me to say I was sorry, and even harder for me to say “I forgive you” after someone had apologized to me. This was especially true when it came dating and early marriage. I remember times, sitting in the car with my husband driving, when he had apologized for something and I just sat there, staying silent. I literally felt the heat of anger inside of me as I made him wait a long time for those words. Even when he pointed out my reluctance and that it ws hurtful to him, my mouth did not want to open. I still don’t fully understand why it was so hard for me to offer that to someone I loved, other than some selfishness in me felt it would be more just to make him suffer.

Confession and Forgiveness

Another piece of my journey in this area that’s been helpful has been the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Five years ago, as I neared the culmination of my conversion to the Catholic faith, I began to understand and deeply appreciate the value of examining my conscience-saying I was sorry, and literally, audibly, hearing forgiveness offered to me by the Priest, who is really standing in Jesus’s place. Trusting you’re forgiven is one thing. Hearing that mercy spoken to you out loud is certainly another. Confession has changed me, and continues to do so. I know now very deeply how it feels to know you are forgiven by hearing it said. I know how much it has the power to heal.

My husband had grown up in a home when repentance and forgiveness came easy, or readily, at least. And he couldn’t understand why it was so hard for me to offer forgiveness to him. I’ve had to work really, really hard over the years to say “I’m sorry” as soon as I understand I’ve caused hurt to someone, and to say “I forgive you” honestly and quickly after an apology is offered to me. We are now teaching this to our kids and modeling it intentionally with our own actions in and out of the home.

Because here’s the thing: Our entire faith is based on an ocean of unmerited grace. It doesn’t really matter what someone has done to me or how I’ve been offended. If I believe in Jesus and his sacrifice on the cross and his power over death, and his doing all of that to offer reconciling grace to me and everyone else who has ever existed or will ever exist, that significantly changes how much of a right I have to hold a grudge.

In some cases, offering forgiveness and also letting go or setting boundaries might be the appropriate choice. But I also think there is something to be said for the healing power of forgiveness not only for the person being forgiven but also for the person who forgives. Forgiveness can help heal the offender, but it also heals the offended. And if the Creator of the Universe has chosen to not only forgive us, but has suffered greatly to do it, then how freely should I open my arms to others and forgive them?

If we truly understand the former, then the latter isn’t even really a question.

Lent is a beautiful time of year in the Church for so many reasons. The continued call to conversion through almsgiving, fasting, and penance helps prepare our hearts for Easter in such a special way. If you haven’t been in a while, or even if you have, perhaps it’s time to go to Confession. To find a few quiet moments this Lent to examine your heart and say you’re sorry and turn yourself back to love.

And then, of course, to receive an absolute ocean of unmerited grace. A grace that has the power to fill us, and flood out into the whole entire world as we forgive others, too.

-Lorelei

Purchase Lorelei’s Books Here:

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Bringing Christmas Into Lent

Lent is almost upon us! This time of year brings with it so many wonderful memories and feelings for me. To start, five years ago, Lent meant my final period of preparation before becoming Catholic. It was my first major liturgical season fully embracing the traditions and history and beauty of Catholicism. It’s a season of penance, and waiting, but also of hope that is to come. That feels extra significant this year because last year everything began closing down during Lent, and we had to celebrate Easter in our homes. This year we have hope that as summer comes things will start to look a bit less like they have been, and that we’ll be moving closer towards what they will be.

Connecting Christmas

One of my favorite parts of the Christmas season is picking up the mail and opening Christmas cards from family and friends. I love seeing family pictures, beautiful holiday illustrations, annual updates, silly stories. Some cards come from those we’ve known our whole lives, while others have been more recent additions. But no matter who it’s from, a holiday card brings a smile to my face and reminds me of all the people we have to be thankful for. We display the cards in the dining room, adding to the collection as the weeks go by.

Our family has started a tradition, one that allows us to pull the Christmas season with us along into the new year, and particularly into Lent. Instead of recycling the cards we received or storing them in a bin, we now place them in a little basket in our bedroom where we do bedtime routine, right in the spot where we read stories, sing songs, share snuggles, and lift up prayers with the kids each night.

Now that Lent is upon us, we will pull out a card each night and share a bit about our relationship and care for the person or family who sent us the card. Then we pray for that family together. We’ll do this for as many nights as it takes for us to pray for them all.

Another variation on this idea would be to gather your family and make a list of people and families that you care about, and choose one from that list each day during Lent to pray for, too, no Christmas cards required.

There are so many beautiful ideas for liturgical living during the season of Lent. I’ve grown fond of selecting a Lenten discipline that adds something to my spiritual life in recent years, and this has been such a simple, yet joyful addition to the devotions of the season for our family as a whole. During a year where there has been less ‘togetherness’ than we’re used to, it feels especially profound to draw near to those we love in prayer in this intentional way.

-Lorelei

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Learning to be Present

I’ve had a presence problem for a long time. Even before the strange and troubling events of this past year, I’ve been very good at being distracted. At spending a lot of my attention listening to the running commentary inside my head.

I need to do this. I didn’t do that. What if this happens. What if this big risk I’m taking fails. What if I fail as a parent. My house is a mess. How is there possibly a mountain of laundry already. Why can’t the kids put anything away. Will I ever stop doing the dishes. I am always doing the dishes. Did someone just sniffle? Did we catch something at church because that’s the only place we’ve been going. What’s for dinner when do I need to put dinner in I think I need chocolate oh no the kids ate all my chocolate.

Exhausing, right?! Maybe you can relate, maybe you can’t, but I felt like my brain was on one constant speed-like I was driving with the windows down on the highway all the time.

I’m a planner by nature. I like to mitigate risks and maximize efficiency. It’s taken me five months, but I finally finished reading a book that has actualy helped me to slow down, make room for all my worries and feelings, and be more present in the moment. It helped a lot when my debut was launching, and has helped even more in the day-to-day life since!

The book is called The Happiness Trap, and you can purchase it here:

I love how the book is written in a linear, easy to follow and understand format. It has exercises you can do throughout. And I was able to take it in bite-sized pieces over time, which helps when you are juggling many things and balancing many plates.

There are three areas where I’ve found it’s been most helpful:

1- The running commentary in my head. I’m doing a better job at making room and accepting uncomfortable feelings. This leaves me more space to be present in the moment with my kids. To catch Zelie in a playful mood and play a silly game by the stairs. To color with Mary. To notice the concentration on August’s as he learns to draw his favorite super hero from a tutorial. To catch how Felicity’s hair falls over her cheek as she’s mixing batter for cookies. My commentary is still there, and still loud often, but I’m noticing more moments in my life and am less distracted.

2- I learned that avoiding bad feelings at all costs isn’t actually a healthy goal. A lot of self-help books seem super focused on being positive and eliminating bad feelings. This book did the opposite. It made sense for me to learn to accept that life will come with negative thoughts and feelings, but that I don’t have to place judgment on them, or even try to avoid them. I can accept them for what they are- negative thoughts. They don’t have to have any more value or worth than any of the other thoughts inside my head. Their existence doesn’t make them true or not true. And I can make decisions that align with my values no matter what my thoughts are thinking.

3- Creating a life I value. As I read the book, I realized I had done some important things to create a life that aligns with my deep values already. I was willing to take on a lot of discomfort to make it through four pregnanacies, and also to pursue the scary unknown of writing a book. But I honed in more on the specific things that I deeply value, and have worked on aligning more decisions with those vs. making decisions by default or because of fear. One of the big consequences of that has been that I’ve reduced my presence on social media. I still have a FB page for this website and for being an author. But I deactivated my personal account. So far, that’s been a healthy choice for me.

Precious Little Moments.

If you find yourself listening to the running commentary in your own mind, struggling with negative thoughts or worries or fears, if you are feeling like your life is somehow a mismatch for the things you feel are truly important, this might be a good resource to check out! I have a long way to go, and this is something that’s a life-long process, but it’s definitely helped this constantly-thinking momma, and I think it could be helpful to others too!

-Lorelei

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What We’re Teaching Our Children About Prayer

A Thin Foundation

Growing up, I didn’t really have a strong foundation in the area of prayer, or how it worked, or what it really meant. I knew in a general sense that prayer was talking to God, and that it often meant asking Him for something, or giving thanks. A lot of times I saw people pray for things they wanted to happen that didn’t come true, even though they prayed for it really hard.

That kind of thin, shapeless theology ended up causing trouble for me as a young adult. I didn’t understand how my prayers would even matter a little bit to a God who had so many bigger problems to deal with. I also didn’t think prayer really worked, so I went through the motions of praying at church and with family. And when alone, I didn’t really pray at all.

Fast forward to raising children and becoming Catholic. I understand prayer a lot differently now, I think, in part, because I understand God differently. As such, in our home, we’ve become much more intentional about how we pray, and what we teach our children about it, which can be boiled down to three main ideas.

1: Share Anything On Your Heart

This is one aspect of prayer that I understand better because I’m a parent. We teach our kids that they can literally come to God with anything on their hearts. As such, our kids often pray really beautiful, honest, and vulnerable things. And sometimes they pray that they would grow up to become super heroes and rock stars, too.

We teach them this because, as parents, I don’t care what my kid is feeling, I am ready to hear their heart. Any thought they have that they want to share, I will kneel on the floor in a heartbeat and lean in close. I want them to know I am a safe space for the vulnerable places inside them, or the joyful places, or the silly ones. God is the absolute best Father, and I am certain that He leans close too, no matter what we have to say.

2: God Gives What We Ask…Or Something Better

I think prayer can sometimes fall into operating like a slot machine, where we want the answer we want and right when we want it. We can get disillusioned if we get something else instead, or if we receive silence. Which is why we also teach our kids that God always, always, answers our prayers. And if he doesn’t give us what we ask for, he will give us something better.

Now, this doesn’t mean if you ask God for a lollipop that He’ll give you an entire candy store, although He could! What it does mean is that God knows our needs far better than we do, and we need to trust that He can and will only give us what is good for us.

I think, if I let them, my kids would eat pure sugar for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They might think that sounds amazing. They might think doing that would be the very best thing. But I know a bit about growth and nutrition and blood sugar, and, because I know what’s good for them, I can’t let them have candy any time they want. I have to say no and offer them an apple instead.

God might answer our prayers a different way than we asked it. But He is Good, and just like as a parent I understand that certain things are good or bad for my children that they might not understand or see, God knows which things are good or bad for us too, and He will never give us something that isn’t truly good.

3: The Role of Suffering in Prayer

Which brings me to this. We also teach our kids that sometimes God might allow us to suffer. We live in a world that is fixated on comfort, and often strives to avoid suffering at all costs. But our Catholic faith doesn’t even come close to teaching that comfort is best. Sure, we can and should hope for better things to come, but we also need learn to accept what He gives. Sometimes, there might be a thing that is broken inside us that will hurt while it mends. Growing in holiness comes with the pain of releasing attachment to sin. We don’t deserve comfort, even though sometimes we are gifted it generously, and for that we can and should be grateful.

But our goal isn’t comfort. Our goal is sainthood, whatever it takes. We need only to look at the cross to see how suffering is redemptive. The most loving God saved us through it.

The Three Things

Let’s especially remember, as we head into a new year after a year that brought so many hardships on a global scale, to ask God for whatever’s on our hearts, trust that His answer is good, and to accept what He gives, even if it means we need to accept the call to suffer. These are three big things I’ve learned about prayer as a parent and a Catholic. And I pray that my kids will hold onto these truths both now while they’re children, and as they grow up in the faith.

Lorelei

Purchase Lorelei’s Books Here:

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A Blessing for Our Home

We had the absolute honor of hosting our priest, Father Mike, at our home for dinner and to bless our house this weekend. We meant to do it much sooner, but with pregnancy and nausea and newborn life, this was the soonest we could make it happen, and we’re so glad we did!

The kids helped set the table for our visitor. We busted out the fancy placemats and cloth napkins, and Felicity even made place cards for everyone at the table! It was very sweet.

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We enjoyed some cheesy pasta, one of our favorite easy family dinners. We also had salad and garlic bread. We made chocolate chip cookies from my favorite recipe earlier that day. Now, the cookie recipe is a small batch, so if I’m being super honest, I usually quadruple it. However, this time I accidentally put 8x the amount of flour in so (oops!) we had to make a lot more than even I intended haha. I froze some in little balls in a bag so we can pop them out and have cookies for weeks to come!

Father brought us some holy water, a beautiful crucifix from the Holy Land, and a book on St. Francis de Sales.

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We did some prayers together at the front of the house, and the kids were so cute following Fr. Mike around as he blessed the rooms and doorways in our home.

 

I think it was really interesting for them to see, and I’m so happy that we were able to do this together as a family. The kids even insisted we show Father Mike our recent family video, The Super Kids. Which was adorable. 🙂

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Father was even up for a selfie- we got most of everyone in!

Next weekend, Felicity will have her first reconciliation, so if you think of it, please pray for her as she prepares to receive that Sacrament for the first time! I made a little “Guide to First Communion” that you can access by clicking here in case it’s helpful at all for you or any of your little ones. So thankful for all the means of grace through the Sacraments, as always!

Talk soon!

Lorelei

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How Postpartum is Going This Time Around

My Postpartum History

I’ve had a lot of family and friends checking in on me since sweet Zelie was born. It’s been so nice, and it’s something I try my best to do when my friends and family have a baby as well.

This is because of my history with postpartum depression and anxiety, which I first identified after August (our second) was born, and when things were pretty severe. I’ve chronicled a bit of my postpartum experiences here.

So now, with our 4th baby clocking in at 5.5 months old, I think I can say with confidence that this has been my best posptartum ever.

*cheers*

Hooray!!! And, indeed, I think this is something worth celebrating. But the reason it has been my best postpartum isn’t because I haven’t dealt with any issues, but it’s because I feel like I knew what supports I would need and prioritized putting things into place ahead of time so I had the best chance possible of being a happy momma with my new baby.

Disclaimer

I very much believe that mental health is really important for moms to consider and to talk about when preparing for and living in the postpartum days.

However, I would never presume that what has worked for me will work for all moms, or even another mom. What I do hope is to share one example of one mother’s journey towards taking care of her mental health during her postpartum period. And in this way, to provide an encouraging example of someone who lived through postpartum depression and anxiety, who came out the other side, and who was able to successfully manage postpartum with future children.

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Photo Credit: vJoy Photography

My Strategy

This pregnancy was definitely my hardest both physically and mentally. I had nausea for the entire 9 months, to the point that I took medication for it each time I ate a meal. Feeling so much discomfort inside my own body, and for so long, definitely started to take its toll. I was feeling pretty sad, and found myself just going away to break down and cry sometimes. So, during my third trimester, I communicated with my midwife team, and we started me on a low dose of an antidepressant (sertraline). And…it helped me get through the rest of the pregnancy in a healthier mental state.

Medication

Once Zelie was born, we planned on me increasing my dose of sertraline from 25 mgs to 50 mgs. This is due to my strong history of postpartum anxiety and the fact that I decided I’d just rather be happy and able to enjoy my time with my baby instead of waiting to spiral into anxiety and only then getting help. I’m quite sure my postpartum struggles have a large chemical/hormonal component, and I can confidently say that with sertraline’s help, I enjoyed the newborn weeks with Zelie. It is a lovely, exhausting blur, but I didn’t feel overwhelmed or unable to function. I usually stay on an antidepressant postpartum for about 6 months, and then taper off.

Communication

I have had some anxiety this time around even with our good preparations. The biggest spike was when I returned to my day job half time, and transitioned to the change in pace and leaving Zelie with a babysitter. During those times I worked really hard to communicate with JP what I was feeling, and also to keep in mind that this spike was likely due to the transition, and would not last forever. And we did fall into a new rhythm after a few weeks.

Postpartum Doula

This required some advance budgeting on our part, but we again utilized a postpartum doula to help with the first weeks after JP went back to work. Ashleigh at Guiding Mothers, who we also had help us after Mary was born, joined us again. And, like the Mary Poppins she is, she helped care for Zelie so I could do some self-care. She also cooked bulk freezer meals for us, helped with laundry and tidying up, joined me on errands, and provided much needed emotional support. It was so nice to know I had that break and that help coming as we transitioned to having 4 children.

Exercise

Doing a 20 minute work-out about every other day helps boost my mood, so making that a priority and having JP or the other kids help with the baby while I do it also is something very important that I prioritize to take care of myself.

Breaks

Whether it’s a trip to Starbucks to work on writing, reading a book, taking a bath, etc. When I need a break, I let my family know and I take a break. I don’t feel guilty about it, because a mom who has time to recharge her batteries is a better mom for her kids, at least in my case. Sometimes it’s funny how even a short period of time of knowing I’m going to be uninterrupted and do something I specifically enjoy, can have a long lasting impact.

Co-Sleeping

I know this is an area that divides many a parent and expert alike. However, I’ve found that I am in a better mood when I sleep better, and sleeping better, for me, means sleeping next to my child so I can easily nurse her in the night and so we both drift back off to sleep. For Zelie’s first 5 months, we’ve slept on a firm mattress on the floor in our bedroom, without any heavy blankets. I sleep in what’s known as the “C” position with her, which both protects her and makes nursing easy. I’m cozy, she’s cozy, and we both wake up less and to a lesser extent than we did when I slept separately with Felicity. I’ve co-slept to some degree with my youngest three children. Others I know have used co-sleepers next to the bed, or the pack-n-play with a bassinet attachment. We’ve used some of these too as we transition the babies to sleeping alone over time, but co-sleeping for the first few months has helped me.

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Photo Credit: vJoy Photography

Overall

Overall, I’m very thankful for the relatively few bumps we’ve had along this postpartum journey. I’m thankful for the friends and family who have been checking in, and for our family’s commitment to being proactive so I could really be present as we welcomed Zelie into our family.

-Lorelei

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A Special Prayer Request

*Content warning- this deals with a situation involving violence*

Just over four months ago, Kayla Sanmiguel’s life changed.

Sanmiguel
Javier, Kayla, and their 4 children

What happened has been well-documented over the news in the St. Paul area, which you can learn more about here, here, here, and very easily over on Google if you search “St. Paul Good Samaritan Shooting.”

The short version is that Kayla and her husband Javier heard a car accident outside their home. Javier, being who he was, ran out to make sure everyone was okay while Kayla called 911. The person who caused the crash had crawled into the trunk of his hatchback, and when Javier opened the trunk to make sure he was okay, the man shot him and killed him.

Kayla, who is JP’s cousin, is now a widow. They have four children together. She is my age. And everything she thought her life was going to be is going to be different now.

She is in need of prayer as she adjusts to life as a single mom of four and a widow at such a young age. Please pray for Kayla and her children and her family who are so very deeply impacted by this loss.

There is also a GoFundMe set up, and you can click here to donate if you feel so led.

-Lorelei

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What We’ve Been Up To

It’s been a while, my friends.

A lot has happened since my last post. For one, the grieving process of losing my aunt the way we did took a lot out of me. Still does, sometimes. I struggled to think of ways I could write encouraging or even true posts on our family blog, and the words just weren’t coming like they usually did, at least in this way. So I gave myself some grace and some much needed time.

But, interestingly enough, words did come in other, different ways. I had been pursuing publication with my first manuscript, but the summer after we lost Jeannine I came up with a new story. A story written for children but that also, in the strange way that stories do these things, helped me walk the path of my own grief, too.

That story is going to be published by Penguin Random House’s Philomel Imprint on September 1 of this year (2020). It’s called The Circus of Stolen Dreams, and I can’t wait to share it with the world.

That was one of the big things that has happened since I wrote here last. You can learn more about my journey as an author by visiting my author website, www.loreleisavaryn.com

The other big thing is after 9 months of constant nausea, I gave birth to Zelie Rose, our 4th child. She has also been keeping us busy!

For those wondering where we got her name, St. Zelie Martin is one of my favorite Catholic Saints. She is St. Therese of Lisieux’s mom. I admire her greatly, and am so excited to have had the opportunity to name a child after her.

For anyone keeping track, yes, all of our children are named after Saints (some with multiple meanings to our family). Even the two kids we had before my conversion to Catholicism got, by some divine intervention, Saint names. So now we have Felicity, August, Mary, Zelie. And of course my husband John Paul. The running joke in our house is that there isn’t a Saint Lorelei yet, so I’ll just have to become the first one. (No pressure! Ha!)

I hope to be back here more often and writing more about our faith and family life. I’ve missed sharing and writing, and am happy to be ready to return!

-Lorelei

 

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Emerging From the Fog

Lent is always an appropriate time to reflect on suffering, and over the past 12 months, This Catholic Family has had some rough times.

I’ve shared a few times about the loss of my aunt to suicide in February 2018. The grief from that, and the slow path toward healing, has been a part of the fog that made it hard to write at times on this website. I poured a lot of my energy over the past year into writing a fiction manuscript about a young girl who experiences a loss, and finds her way to healing. Using words in that way for that time helped a lot.

The other fog we experienced has been for a much happier purpose.

ThisCatholicFamilyBabyNumber4

We found out in December that we are expecting Baby Savaryn Number 4! New life is the happiest of news, but for our family, we also knew it would be difficult for a while. I, to varying extents during my pregnancies, suffer from hyperemesis gravidarum. This is extreme nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. A condition that used to be fatal for some mothers, and is slowly gaining more publicity in our current times for its devastating impact on an expectant mother’s health while she suffers.

This time, despite proactively taking nausea medication and planning for my care, I ended up incredibly sick. As it amped up, I wasn’t able to be in the kitchen, or prepare food, or eat much. It felt like I was on a boat with severe seasickness 95% of the time I was awake. Movement and smell made it worse. Relief only came when I slept. Then, I hit a point where I couldn’t keep anything down and hadn’t had something to eat or drink in over 18 hours. I had to go to the hospital, where I ended up being admitted for three days until they could rehydrate my body and until I could eat and drink on my own without getting sick with the help of some additional medication.

I was this sick with my son, who will turn five soon, and I had much better medical care this time than I did with him, but it was still one of the hardest things I’ve ever gone through inside my own body. And when it was at its worst, it was very hard for me to see the light beyond all the darkness in the struggle to survive moment by slow moment.

Friends came through and brought us food, and there were so many praying, and my husband was good about reminding me that this would all be worth it.

It was still so difficult to lose myself, even for a little while.

The Hope and the Grace

But in suffering, there is grace.

I was fed by the Eucharist during my suffering, and I weakly attempted to unite my own suffering with that of Christ. In many ways, I do not feel like I suffered ‘well.’ But I also knew Jesus would carry me through, and that if I was willing to walk this path for Him, that he would not forsake me.

On the first Sunday I was home from the hospital, I was still confined to my bed, and the family had to go to mass without me. I hear the door open as they returned home, and in moments, my two oldest children entered my room with their hands folded in front of them in quite reverence.

JP soon followed, and produced that which had fed my soul so many times during this sickness.

A priest at our parish had helped JP bring Jesus in the Eucharist to me right where I was, and I was able to receive communion, right there, in my bed. When I couldn’t get to mass, Jesus came to me.

And there is such hope in new life too. Sometimes it’s hard to wrap our heads around the idea of redemptive suffering. That something good can come out of something hard.

It has helped more than a little to know there is such a clear and redemptive reason I went through all I did. I am bringing a new life into our family and into the world. At 18 weeks now, and finally feeling much better, I can feel our little one kick. I can speak to this baby, as it now can hear my voice. I can reflect on the phrase ‘this is my body, given for you,’ in a new and profound way. I can understand just a little bit better, in some small, small way, how Jesus gave his body for us, and the love that must have been there for him to go through his passion.

Let the Sun Shine In

The fog is clearing away from the difficult year we have had, and the very, very, dark and cold and grey winter. The days are getting longer. The sun is shining a bit more. And our family is soon to embark on a vacation to the beach, a much needed bit of togetherness and warmth and light.

-Lorelei

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