Friday, July 30, 2010

TRUST - God has a plan for your marriage

"Trust me," little girls whisper as they extend tiny pinkie fingers in exchange for big secrets under blankets at slumber parties.

"Trust me, it will only hurt for a little bit," pleads a mama trying to comfort a fearful child as she cleans a scrapped knee.

"Trust me, I love you and want to spend the rest of my life with you," a young man declares with shaking hands as he places a ring on the finger of his blushing bride-to-be.

With the divorce rate creeping closer to 50% it is imperative all who are married, or hope to one day be married, spend time contemplating what is needed to build and sustain a successful marriage.

Marriage is a road sign to heaven. Each spouse wants only what is good for their partner. They sacrifice and work to lift their partner up in ways that are affirming and good for the person they love. Sometimes one spouse is down and in need of some extra TLC from the other. When one is weak the other is strong - because they must be. They take the extra weight off of their partner and put it onto their own shoulders. They pick up the cross. They do so because they love, and because they trust that when the time comes, the weight will be lifted from their shoulders by the one who loves them in return.

Just as Christ emptied Himself fully, giving His life for the Church, married people are called to do the same for each other. In order to let ourselves be loved we must let our spouse fully know us and we must commit to fully knowing our spouse.

How often do you trust someone with your life who doesn't know you?

As annoyed as I get with the well meaning women in the church pew or the grocery line who make a living dispensing unsolicited advice, I tend to take their comments with a grain of salt. Now - if my best friend or husband calls me out on something it tends to sting a bit harder. Why? Because they know me and I trust they have my best interest at heart.

Who knows you better than the one who made you or the one who vowed to love you forever?

So what happens when we are not willing to give ourselves fully? What happens when we take the focus of our love off of how we can serve God by loving and serving the person we vowed our life to and we shift that focus inward, toward self-service?

Marriages fall apart. Society prides itself on free sex and instant gratification. We live on credit and are told we can define everything for ourselves. We drown in a pool of choices and we call it freedom.

This does not work. I can confidently say it does not work for anyone, but unfortunately, that is currently not very PC of me, but I'll say it anyway. It does not work. I can't wrap my mind around our modern culture's view of "feminism."

Stealing my spiritual gift by pumping my body full of chemicals or "allowing" me to make a "choice" I wasn't created to have to face is not "freeing."

A woman's spiritual gift is motherhood. No, we will not all physically give birth and feed a baby at our breast. But we were born as a women for a reason. God has a beautiful plan for us. Some will spend nights snuggling little ones, some will serve in a nurturing role in the world in another glorious way. These are our gift and one is not higher than another. To change the physical chemistry of a women's body with hormones to suppress this gift by convincing the body it is pregnant so that it won't become pregnant doesn't sound too empowering to me. To create barriers such as condoms and other artificial birth control devices and plant them in the middle of the marital act is not self-giving! It robs a women of her spiritual gifts. It robs a marriage of it's very essence - self-giving love. It is disrespectful to to ourselves and the person we claim to love fully. It is disrespectful to Christ who did not place a barrier between Himself and His love for us.

A self-giving relationship is difficult, humbling and fruitful. It's that last word where couples often stumble. Fruitful. No, this does not mean your last name must be Dugger or you aren't fully giving your life over to your spouse or to God. For some a self-giving marriage rooted in prayer has led to the discernment of a call to a large family. This is wonderful - but by no means does it define a better or holier marriage than the family who struggles with infertility or the couple who has prayerfully discerned one or two children.

Due to many circumstances my husband and I know we are not called to an extra large family. But we have been blessed because we have grown together as we've prayed and educated ourselves in the practice of NFP (Natural Family Planning). We don't pop pills or allow barriers into our marriage because we "know" what is best for us. We continually pray. We have practiced time periods of abstinence. We have grown stronger and learned more about each other through the practice of NFP and the times we were called to abstain.

"If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans" is a popular saying for a reason. Just because we will not have 10 children does not mean we will not be called as parents in other ways. We do not shut ourselves off to this. We continue to pray, discern and invite God into our marriage.

This week is National NFP Week. This year's theme is: TRUST God has a plan for your marriage. In our home it is very fitting to celebrate NFP this week for a few reasons. This week in our liturgy we celebrate Saints Joachim and Anne, parents of Mary mother of our Lord. I'm so glad they chose to give themselves fully in their marriage. In doing so, they were blessed in becoming the grandparents of Jesus! Our youngest daughter, Anna, was named in honor of their example of faith.

This week also marks the due date of our 3rd child, Emanuel Elizabeth who we lost to miscarriage over Christmas. I am confident in sharing that without the marital lessons we have learned through our practice of NFP (greater communication, vulnerability, and solidarity to name just a few) we wouldn't have been able to come out on the other side of a difficult and trying time. We were blessed with what we learned about our faith, our marriage and responsible parenthood during the short time I carried that child in my womb. We were able to turn the grief of that child into an opportunity to see the blessings in our loss. The blessing of a new soul in heaven due in part to us giving ourselves fully in our marriage and the blessing of grief has created a stronger marriage. I am a better wife and mother today because I am the mother of a child I will not hold in this lifetime.

TRUST - God has a plan for your marriage!

He really, truly does. I love my husband more than I could have ever dreamed. We are best friends. We have one of those relationships - the kind that makes people sick. That being said, I could not do this marriage thing without faith. I trust we are joined together by God and that He gifted us with each other to help navigate our way through life to heaven. I don't know how other people do it without God and with the addition of man made barriers preventing them from being completely self-giving.

The truth is - people aren't doing it. The divorce rate is astronomical and prenuptial agreements are a normalcy. People are entering into marriage with a fail safe and a heart open to the possibility of failure. With those things on the table marriage will not survive.

If you're never looked into NFP I encourage you to do so. Do a little research and I promise you will be AMAZED at how much you will learn about your body, your fertility and the wonderment of God! That alone is worth a look.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5

Basic info on NFP

Couple to Couple League

Humanae Vitae (On Human Life)

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Sixty Dollar Panda

I have a new best friend! After much thought, Joseph and I have decided to name the newest member of our family Sixty the Panda.

The story of how Sixty the Panda came into the Rutchik namesake is a good one. Before I tell it, I thought I would share a few of our most recent family photos.

This is Anna loving Sixty.
This is what Tessa looks like when we talk to her about how she needs to share Sixty with her sister.

Sixty loves story and prayer time before bed.

Sixty loved watching the fireworks as a family this past 4th of July.
Here is the story of how Sixty the Panda became a Rutchik:
Not so recently Joseph's family came to town to spend a Saturday with us. We shoved the mess into our bedroom, cleaned the common areas are prepared for a fun day with family. We took the girls out to eat. After we were done Joseph and his mom would bring the girls home and put them down for their afternoon nap while my SIL and I snuck out to catch an afternoon movie.

To be honest, I had been looking forward to seeing this movie with my SIL for weeks and as we snuck away from the girls and dodged out the door of the restaurant, I had one of those "I'm free!" moments every mama longs for when alone time has been sparse for a bit too long.

The movie was great and SIL bonding was had. But, like most mamas, once I felt that "free" feeling for a half hour - I really missed my kids. I opened the door to my home expecting big hugs from my gals. Instead I was greeted with a little story.

It seems Tessa threw a mega size fit on the way home from the restaurant (why we EVER tell ourselves it will be ok, just this once, to take her somewhere during nap time I will never know). Joseph was holding her hand when she decided to collapse and refuse to walk into our front door. She went down fast. Tessa was on the ground, but her little hand and little arm was still with Daddy. Joseph heard a pop. Tessa was in a lot of pain and so Joseph and his mom decided a trip to the ER was in order.

We literally live next door to the emergency room so off Daddy and Tessa went. Joseph reports that by the time her name was called all the attention of the folks in the waiting room had sucked the pain right out of her arm. She was giving high fives.

She is fine. It seems her little elbow popped out, was popped back in and all was well. Joseph was sent home with some papers with some medical lingo that translates into "take it easy" and a bill for our deductible: $60. Tessa was sent home with high fives and a stuffed Panda. Our Sixty dollar Panda!

Just like most homes with the pidder padder of tiny feet, we have tons of stuffed animals. Most of them collect dust on the shelves and take up my closet space. Sixty the Panda is different. Tessa clutches that Panda like it's her trophy. The second she puts him down he is scooped up by Anna who loves him so hard I worry his little head may just pop off. "Baby!!!" she screams.

Neither of our girls have ever taken to an item as their "comfort" item. There are no blankies or binkies in this house. Oh we tried! Oh did we try. We've tried every trick in the book to get Anna to attach to something in hopes she would learn to use it to comfort herself in the night when she wakes and scream 27 times between the hours of 8pm and 6am. She never had an interest in anything. The closest we came was items of Daddy's "used" clothing. I'm fairly confident there is a sweater he will not get back. I guess they are never too young to start going for your clothes!

But now we have the Sixty dollar Panda! It seems both our daughters have claimed it as their comfort item! This has led to interesting lessons on sharing and some crazy conversations between my husband and I. Who ever though we would be giving thanks for paying $60 for a stuffed animal!? If anyone wants some stuffed animals, I would consider offering to pay $60 for them to be removed from my home! But, this Panda is magic. We're talking Buzz Lightyear and Woody magic over here.

So, the question at hand - how long before we can take one of the girls back into the ER to get another one of these things? I mean, we are by no means wishing ANY ill will on our girls. Believe me, we've had enough of that over here. Most of Joseph's medical care (sniffles, cuts ..) is done in the ER because even when something little happens he needs immediate attention. I'd even be willing to fake a little something and go in, but I don't think they give Pandas to parents. We also don't want to take anyone in too soon, least we get a call from social services wondering why our kids are in the ER so much. I'd end up on some news program as one of those moms who makes their kids sick for attention. Really all I want is another Panda. We need it, we really do. I'll pay the $60!!