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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

MERRY CHRISTMAS 2012 AND A HAPPY 2013


What a year we have had in our small little world and hope your year has been a good one with many blessings from above. Our year 2012 has been full of many blessings and obstacles and I even debated (with myself) to even do a Christmas letter this year. With all that has happened in our lives, I (Julie) finally came to the conclusion that this year should not be skipped because of all the JOYS, SORROWS and GROWING PAINS of life in which we experienced, truly point to the true meaning of Christmas. The following Scripture has rung loud in my soul the last 11 months…going on 12 as I ponder 2012 and all its happenings.
Ecclesiastes 3: 1-9 & 11
For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;


a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.

11. He has made everything appropriate to its time, and has put timeless into their hearts, without men’s ever discovering, from beginning to end, the work which God has done.

“He has made everything appropriate to its time!”

As much as we don’t want to admit it.. Jim and I have witnessed many seasons in life and hope to be a part of many more. This year’s “Season (2012) of Life” I think we experienced every event, emotion that Ecclesiastes describes in that small passage. As we finish the race of 2012 we rest in knowing we have a God that has it all worked out.                                                                                         

“He has made everything appropriate to its time.”

SORROW

We said goodbye this year to my mother; Jan who was loved by many and especially those who called her; “Mama and NANA”, Jim’s; Uncle Tom, my aunt; Aunt Mary Jane with a knowledge and hope….. “Until we meet again.”  

“He has made everything appropriate to its time.”
JOY
We said “hello” to our 1st grandbaby Ella Grace  born November 24, 2012 weighing 7lbs 6oz and 21 inches long. What a special joy she has brought to our lives.
 
“He has made everything appropriate to its time.”
 
GROWING PAINS 
Growing Pains are a good thing when you see God working in your midst.
Jeanine is now referred to as Novice Jeanine and is loving following her heart into the “religious life.” She will finish her canonical year this March in hopes of taking her temporary vows in September 2013. I think we will call her Sr. Jeanine after she takes her temporary vows. She will still have 2-3 more years of discernment before her final vows. We talk with her every month and have made several trips to see her. Her life is full and she loves everything she is being exposed to and the challenges it carries each day. She is blooming in our midst and she thanks the Lord for this road she has chosen to follow…  
                                                                                                      “He has made everything appropriate to its time.”
 
 
Many years ago I would have never dreamed or predicted this amazing faith journey in which our Lord has carried us. One cannot describe with words (at least I can’t) the “why”, “how come?”, when we felt led to study the 2,000 year old history (good and bad) of the Church and Christianity (good and bad) in which it inspired us to understand more about the Catholic faith.  This journey of Church history and learning about the different Christian faith denominations in time challenged me and Jeanine to become Catholic. It was a hard surrender…but when we finally did…Oh my! Never a dull moment. Jim has been very supportive of our journey of faith and has study right beside us, along the way. This October 2nd after 6 years of studying the history of Christianity and the Church, the Catechism, the Sacraments, the “whys” and “how come?” he decided to journey home into the Catholic Faith. 
  
      “He has made everything appropriate to its time.”       

We know this journey of ours might be very confusing to many family and friends….especially our Protestant brothers and sisters in Christ. A favorite quote of ours, in which it might shed some light;
“There are not one hundred people in the United States who hate The Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they wrongly perceive the Catholic Church to be.”Fulton J. Sheen
In “love” we challenge anyone who would like to ask questions about “why” Catholic? We are ready and willing to explain any details or concerns you might have. We hope our journey into the Catholic faith might help bridge the gap of misunderstandings that seems to divide. We understand and see the divisions in Christianity are a BIG stumbling block for a hurting world to see who Christ really is. We are all “One” in the Lord.  We pray that wherever God plants you….. GROW IN HIM! And we encourage you; If you’re not planted, you want grow.                                      

“He has made everything appropriate to its time.”
                                                                                                                                                                In closing:
 
We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Wonderful 2013
 
May the Savior of the world fill your hearts with the coming of His birth on Christmas morn. God’s Peace and Blessings Be with you and your family!   Jim and Julie

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Angels That Are In Our Midst Are Dropping In Number


Our family just welcomed a new baby into our lives, and as we shared pictures with our family and friends through email and Facebook, I felt a need to share the whole story. The pictures of our first granddaughter are beautiful, but the story behind that “new life” tells an amazing story. This story is not to give any attention to ourselves or our new bundle of joy, but to those who our society has rationalized almost to extinction in our world.

I am pro-life and it is hard for me to understand how anyone could have an abortion. I understand it happens due to misinformed young and old immature people in today’s self-centered world who will not listen or learn the facts of “real truth” – this is a baby and the heartbeat of new human life can be heard after 6 weeks of development. Society tells us that unplanned pregnancy will ruin our lives if we keep the “fetus” and the best thing for unplanned pregnancies is to have an abortion. This is so far from the truth. Many options are available to the mother. Take for example adoption. There are many, many, many couples needing a baby that cannot have one on their own. As much as pro-choice folks preach” it is not a baby at conception”, medical science says it is and the reality of abortion is MURDER. This statement is a fact, but not the story I want to share. Rather, I want to share a journey that showed me how bad our society has truly come and how selfish we are. Through our selfishness we are missing out on understanding what true love really is.

Our daughter-in-law gave birth November 24, 2012, exactly one year after having a miscarriage at 6 weeks. When news of her second pregnancy was shared with us, it was shared with the hopes that she would not miscarry again. We were all informed to wait until we spread their news about the pregnancy,” just in case”…… At her 6-weeks check-up they heard a heartbeat and we were all so excited!

Our 30-something year old daughter- in-law had a sonogram of the baby at 4 months and learned we were having a baby girl. Because of her age they did a very thorough sonogram. The sonogram showed all her skeletal features seemed normal. BUT, the baby had a “bright spot” on her heart. The doctors informed her that all Down Syndrome (DS) babies have a “bright spot” on their hearts and recommended she have further testing to see if the baby had DS. The test is called amniocentesis and carries a risk of miscarriage. The risk ranges from 1 in 200 to 1 in 400. In facilities where amniocentesis is performed regularly, the rates are closer to 1 in 400. Miscarriages can occur because of infection in the uterus, the water breaks or labor is induced prematurely. Because of this factor the new expectant parents decided to not have this test for fear of a miscarriage. If she was DS, it would not matter. She was a life created by God and they would trust the Creator’s plan for them and their child.

Our daughter-in-law’s Midwife advised her to not worry, that her baby was fine and many healthy babies have a “bright spot” on their hearts. During her months of pregnancy I would always tell the new parents that the “bright spot” was a special “mark” from above. God had already marked her with a special calling on her life. To be honest with my story, it was hard at times to trust God and even though we would be prepared for “whatever” our Lord had in store for us, we worried and continually reassured each other “God is in control.   No matter what happens His Grace will carry us through.” It is easy to say, BUT putting it in “motion” is another story.

Four month… Five months… Six months… Seven months… Eight months and what a perfect pregnancy. Our daughter-in-law was beautiful pregnant and was textbook all the way. We visited them during her eighth month and seeing how well she was doing confirmed to us “we are having a baby” in a few weeks. Praise God! The wait was almost over. The excitement of these new parents was contagious and seeing all the labor of love they put into the nursery and the childproofing the house showed they were ready. With all this said, the “bright spot” still bubbled up fear from time to time. Trust God! It is so easy to say.

The end of the ninth month (the week she is due) we as grandparents started our 2 day drive in hopes we would arrive for the birth. It all worked out and we arrived at the hospital just in time. After a wonderful labor and delivery (no complication) our daughter-in-law, with the help of our son, gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. She was perfect and started nursing (she was hungry) within a few minutes.  A quick check of her lungs, heart, etc. revealed a healthy new life. We witnessed this beautiful baby (our granddaughter) who entered the world around 9:30 pm.

The next day we arrived early at the hospital to take a peek before church and witnessed two parents beaming from head to toe. We even discussed how all the worrying we did the last nine months was over and how textbook her pregnancy was, but also how the medical world puts so much fear in the “could happen” scenarios.

We (new grandparents) left the hospital and headed to Mass to give thanks to the Creator. Scripture readings at morning Mass were preparing us for the end of the Liturgical year, a “New Liturgical Year” was beginning the following Sunday. Advent was around the corner and as our year ended with the good news of Christ second coming, the start of the new liturgical year was a new beginning of the anticipation of His first coming. In so many ways this ending was so appropriate for a 9-months wait. There was new life in our midst; our granddaughter. I gave thanks to my Jesus and told Him I look forward to His birth in a few weeks (the first coming of the Messiah) and thanked Him for the life in which the Holy Trinity had created for our family to LOVE and CHERISH.

We returned to the hospital after Mass to see the baby and the new first time glowing parents we had left earlier, only to learn when we returned, the new parent’s world in such a short time, had been turned upside down. While at Mass, a Pediatrician entered their hospital room, and knowing about the sonogram and the “bright spot”, examined our little granddaughter. She informed the new parents that she suspects that this baby is Down Syndrome and most likely has a serious heart problem that is common in a DS baby. This doctor had left her art work on a white board indicating the problems she suspects with the baby’s heart. Our daughter-in-law is an RN and is a heart transplant nurse coordinator. She truly understands the heart problems of the DS babies and I am sure she had struggled with this knowledge since her sonogram. Our son was crying uncontrollably and really did not know how to process this information. We all had a hard time with it. We just could not see what this doctor was telling us. Was our love blind? We decided to leave them alone, so they could work through this as a family. The new parents did not need interference as they cried and sorted through this news together. When leaving our son said “I will be so mad if this is a CYA (cover your ass) because of her age and etc. To put us through these doubts and worries during her pregnancy was hard and now if it is a CYA, it’s not fair. I can accept it if she is Down Syndrome, but a heart problem…. the thought of losing her.. I cannot handle.”

We left the hospital emotionally drained and the “joy” of being first time grandparents was now shadowed with fears of an uncertain future. Immediately I started goggling information about Down Syndrome babies and this is what my story is really about; the message I want to relay to anyone who reads this writing from my heart.  As much as I googled and read, I still did not see what this doctor saw…. Our baby did not have the precious (small) features that DS children have. We even laughed at the first glance, when we saw how big our grandchild’s feet and hands were, thinking to ourselves she might make a good basketball player one of these days, when she grew into those hands and feet.  I read about the heart troubles DS babies have and I cried. I also read that 90-95% of Down Syndrome babies are aborted today and I cried. How selfish has our society become?  Only 5-10 % have a chance at life, because they are being murdered in the womb. I thought of the eagles and the whales and how animal activist fight so hard to save them from becoming extinct. These are animals…… and we are talking about special human beings shrinking in numbers because society does not understand what love truly means. I read stories of families who have chosen life for these precious children and how they are the APPLE of their EYES. They bring so much joy to their lives. My search brought me to the conclusion that if she is Down Syndrome, what a special package from above we had received. How blessed I felt that God the Father would put so much trust in this family to raise one of these precious children. How honored I felt that He would trust us with a life that so many do away with. I came to accept this wonderful gift and felt honored, if it was true. I still had a hard time with the heart issue and prayed that He would give us the graces we needed each day to walk through this, if we had to. We shared this with nobody until we got all the facts. I was tempted many times to call our Priest and our daughter, who is a Novice in the religious life, for prayer; to ask him, her and the Sisters to pray. We needed to wait until we understood all the facts, and we waited.

The first test was on her heart and the results came back that it is perfect! Praise our Lord! Another Pediatrician delivered the news about the heart the following day and also was not convinced in what the other doctor saw. Her advice was to do genetic testing  ”just to make sure.” When they gave the long awaited permission, they could finally take their beautiful baby home. Praise the Lord! 

What a joy it was to finally take her home! The next day she had an appointment for her first baby wellness check-up with the Pediatrician who had not met her yet. She examined the baby and was amazed at how perfect she was, how beautiful she was etc., etc., etc. Finally, her parents asked the doctor if she had read all the notes from the hospital. “No” was her reply. They asked her to please look them over. She retrieved the paper work and began reading. After a few double takes, she was shocked at what this one doctor had put them through. She could not see what this doctor saw, and did not understand. Her words: “Well I am 99.9 % sure the test will come back negative….. so sorry this happened to you!” 

The genetic testing came back yesterday and it is negative. I guess my son’s fears were right; “CYA” a doctor’s way of handling things in a most unprofessional way. We as a society think we have come a long way in medicine. Have we really? Through this journey, as hard as it was, I am thankful for the things I’ve learned. I have always been pro-life and even volunteered my time to help educate a world that does not know the facts. The Lord open my eyes to a reality that I knew about, only never knew how bad it was. I will continue to be an advocate for the unborn babies….. Now my heart cries for the Down Syndrome babies. Folks please learn the facts.  I pray that the Lord will open the door and show me and others how to make a difference for these precious families and their children. It is sad that medicine, the medical profession, that is supposed to be a vessel that God uses to heal mankind, is now a part of our society that kills, if it in any way seems to be an inconvenience to our existence and our pleasures. My husband calls it “child sacrifice on the altar of convenience”. I wonder if the doctor’s “Hippocratic Oath” has changed. Does it now say “heal” and “kill”? Just wondering?

In Closing:

Jeremiah 1:5

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations."

You remember the “bright spot” on our granddaughter’s heart? I was right. It was a special touch from above….. see how God used that spot to bring awareness to her grandmother for the precious little ones that are so loved by HIM! She does have a calling on her life.