Thursday, April 26, 2012

Powerful Contradictions

[The last couple of posts have been personal and profound; so, let’s switch gears this week and explore some provoking ideas.]

    For those who didn’t know, I have written a book called “Woman, How Great Thou Art” and it is being decided upon at a publisher presently.  Part of this process is obtaining peer reviews for the manuscript and I love all the reviews, but one struck me particularly.  It holds a key point that will be quite valid for today’s thoughts.  Part of the review said,

“Fun, fresh, real, and insightful, Theresa Martin presents us with a beautiful ideal of Catholic Christian femininity, grounded in the reality of hope in the Resurrected Christ.  She explores both commonly-held and little appreciated truisms about the nature of women, often turning them on their heads to get at an even greater truth.  No maxim, whether feminist or fundamentalist, is safe in Woman, How Great Thou Art…” - Rhonda Ortiz, Catholic convert, wife, mother, and writer

    The line that struck me was “No maxim, whether feminist or fundamentalist, is safe in Woman, How Great Thou Art. I can’t take credit for the thought; it’s the same truth it has always been.  God just gave me a gift to explain it simply.  (On a side note, many of you had inquired about the book and how you can help get it published.  Thank you for your concern!  Truly, you are so kind!  The best thing you can do is to share this blog.  They wider the audience, the more likely they’ll take it up.)

    "No maxim is safe" – it’s true.  Taking a black and white approach to anything is easy.  Being extreme in any sense, is easy.  It’s at least easier then walking that rocky trail of truth.  What you think simplifies it in your mind, often minimizes it and therefore, destroys it.  When you see the first idea led to its destruction, you swing to the opposite extreme and again lose truth.  Truth is found in that steady middle ground, that constant commitment.  It’s not a state of compromise, but a willingness to be in the mess of things, in the great whirlwinds of life, and still plow forward in consistency - unafraid.

    I say all this to let you know that truth is not always easy and in fact sometimes challenges what we thought we knew.  Many truths seem like great contradictions.  Looking at our Christian faith, the contradictions are frequent: you must die and be buried in order to live, you must love your enemies, to serve is to reign, you must have faith in order to see.  (That last one definitely flies in the face of our scientific world where “seeing is believing”!)  Even the crucifixion itself is a contradiction.  What God would allow Himself to be murdered by His own creation?  In our view, it seems to show weakness and confuses us.  Isn’t this God who is all powerful?  Why would He do this?

    Our logic is at a loss to understand Jesus’ words.  (And I do go into this in much more detail in my book, but for the time being, this will have to do.)  So, you have to suspend, if you can, your personal understanding of power, might, leadership, in order to understand Christ.  Even many of the Apostles were confused by Him and did not understand.  It’s difficult to separate ourselves from our culture’s definitions, but we must try if we are to understand.

    There is a certain issue concerning the role of women and men in marriage, which I have recently heard discussed and is most intriguing.  It is often thought and understood in conservative circles that the husband is  the “head” of the wife and that he is active, she is passive.  Some even explain it in the right words saying the husband is to be “head of the wife as Christ is head of the Church”.  Yet, what happens in the very next moment is where it gets all sticky.  The next thought is that this “headship” of the husband means the final say comes down to him, and that he must be the one leading his wife and his family (in other words, he’s the one in control).  Did you see that red flag go up?  (Or ladies, did the hair on the back of your neck stand on end?)  Not to worry!  Even Blessed John Paul II blows this idea to smithereens. 

    Remember how we have to read apart from our cultural influence?  Apparently, as I learned Saturday evening, the “headship” term and usage in marriages came both from Protestant circles and the influence of the lack of equality of women in culture (can’t go into much background here, but it is thought to have entered into Catholic circles during the charismatic renewal).  Yet, this is NOT what we believe!  In JP II’s Apostolic Letter On the Dignity and Vocation of Women, he addresses the text this comes from (Eph 5:25 - 32) and not once – but FIVE times[i] he reiterates the first line of that text: that the whole passage MUST be read in context of the fact that there is a “mutual subjection” of both “out of reference for Christ”.  (Can I emphasize that again?  He repeated this FIVE TIMES!)  We see “lead”, “head”, or “headship” and it is immediately defined in our minds through our world-view: in control, leading the way, taking care of everything, making all the decisions, and being in charge.  But that is NOT how Christ meant it.

    For Christ, to serve is to reign.  Christ’s leadership was at the filthy feet of His Apostles, not with the decision makers of the Church.  He gave His will up to the Father.  He lead the Church by sacrificing His pride in every moment, by giving of Himself totally (time, energy, love) over to His people.  A husband and wife must submit to each other with Christ as their head.  The husband particularly is called to be the first to lay down his will, to sacrifice his pride for the love of his family - this is the definition of leadership as Christ exemplified.  Both husband and wife work together in that mutual submission, that mutual self-giving love that creates the foundation for their family.

    If I have upset the norms for you, here’s a little solace.  Blessed John Paul II never dictates in detail how that mutual submission must be played out; it must be the decision of each individual couple.  The interpretations will be as numerous as the distinctness of each relationship!  What I found reassuring for women, is that Christ is not asking us to “just go with what your husband decides, because after all, he’s the head of the family”.  It is a vibrant complementarity of the sexes that brings in the unique gifts of each spouse and through mutual submission under Christ and respect of each other’s personhood, each person is able to fulfill their divine potential in a much more profound way.

Well, that's my view of it!  And I welcome yours!  (Please comment below!)
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A Personal Note: Please do not take this as a judgment piece on anyone or on any particular group, community or movement.  It is definitely not that.  It's merely a discussing of the misunderstanding of this scripture passage.  I have many personal friends who have been a part of the charismatic renewal and are in full agreement with the "mutual submission under Christ" idea.  No sweeping judgments or stereotypes here!  God bless you!

[i] Blessed John Paul II, Mulieris Dignitatem 24.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

"Better off dead"???

   Is suffering worth it?  I believe at the heart of the question of whether a person should live or be allowed to die (abortion of babies with disabilities, euthanasia, etc), is the concept of suffering.  What do we think about suffering?  If we believe no one benefits anything from suffering, then of course someone would consider it cruel to keep someone alive who has to suffer.  Suffering requires sacrifice and sacrifice flies in the face of the instant gratification society we have created for ourselves.  We have fast food, fast internet, fast cable access, fast shopping, fast credit cash, fast games, fast communication.  Everything is now.  What can such a generation possibly understand about perseverance and sacrifice? 

 The question, then, is this: which is higher, the value of life or the value of comfort? 

   Indeed, Life itself is more powerful than suffering.  This is true for every person, but particularly for women.  Even within her body, she was created to give life through her loving selflessness.  Love is sacrifice.  It is putting the good of the other above your own.  

   Today we have another contributing author, Elizabeth Slattery.  This amazing woman is the mother of ten children (7 on earth, 3 in heaven).  She has an incredible story to share on being stretched in love.  I am particularly proud to share this post, for this woman taught me what real love was.  Our family would be an empty shell without her breath of vitality.  Without further ado, I would love to introduce you to my mother

   “Elastagirl!  That moniker taken from The Incredibles is the mom's alter ego and what a great one for the mom!  How often do I feel stretched beyond my abilities and yet stretched again!  Stretched like the tuning of a guitar string.  Tighter and tighter.  Let me tell you of a time in my life when I was feeling a bit like Elastagirl or that guitar string.

   I thought that my life up to a point had been wonderful, full of God's grace and blessings.  I had a loving husband and now six amazing children with six different personalities.  They challenged us and taught us so much. Life was energized and exciting.

   We had our shares of troubles.  I had suffered the wrenching loss of two miscarriages.  And my husband had a serious condition that required two surgeries and a summer of recovery that I wouldn't wish on anyone.  Even that had passed.

   But I wasn't stretched enough!  In 1998 we gave birth to our beloved Stephen, a beautiful baby born with Down syndrome.  Piling this on top of all our life experiences thus far was a stretch I did not think I could muster.  And yet I knew the Lord had chosen me to love and raise this child.  Have you even tuned a guitar string to such a pitch that your were sure it would pop?  Yet it was made to hit that note and you just had to have faith that it would not pop and go ahead and tune it a little higher.

   I was getting tuned to be just the right pitch.  Questions raced through my mind.  What problems would this child have?  What care would he need?  How in the world would I be able to care for him?  But just like I approach the rest of life, I just needed to step forward one step at a time.  (like you tune a string very slowly, a little at a time)
- Today, he needed to be changed and fed.  I can do that today.  (slowly tuning)
- Today I can monitor the pulse oxygen level and call the nurse if it gets low. (one more tweak in the string)
- Today I can watch the doctors scan his heart to check the blood flow and detect a valve problem.  (tweaking just a little be higher)
- Today I can say a prayer for him to be healed.  (almost at perfect pitch)

   Tomorrow I will begin again. 

   As it has turned out, about fourteen years later, Stephen is a pretty amazing guy.  He had heart surgery at 4 months of age (stretched that string to a near breaking point!). But since then he has grown and blossomed and awed us over and over again.  He is an avid swimmer (the heart is strong).  He adores his family, especially the big brothers (It is a mutual admiration society - blessing upon blessing).  He is reading and writing, playing games, being an altar server at church.  With time and repetition he can do most anything he desires.  We are all so blessed.

   Did I know this when he was born? No.  Did I realize how adorable he would be?  No. Did I imagine he would win swim races and play baseball?  No. Did I believe he would be the one to remind me to give  him his medicine because I forgot? Never.

   But had I known all this, I would not have had to stretch so much.   I am better tuned because of my dear Stephen.  My notes clearer, my pitch more precise.

   Yes, you could call me Elastagirl.  But I thank God for my ability to stretch, my ability to go with the flow when needed, and my ability to adapt what I had always done in raising children to a new model for this one.  My skills stretched to increase my computer skills and online research to provide learning material for him.  My teaching skills expanded to include special needs awareness. 

   And like Elastagirl, often times I feel like I am creating a protective covering  for my special son.  But that's what a mother does.  That's what God expects of me.  That's what being a mother is all about.  It just seems more intense when your little one is fragile – more necessary.  Certainly this umbrella of protection will last a lot longer than the ones I had over my other children as they can mature into adults who can care for themselves. 

   But I don't for a minute regret Stephen's birth or the impact he has had on our family and the life around him.  The world is better for having Stephen in it. And I am certainly a finely tuned instrument of the Lord!”   - Elizabeth Slattery.

   My brother Stephen is such a precious and treasured member of our family!  To think that 90% of Down Syndrome children are aborted (because they have DS) should make everyone Stop. Think. See. 

    SEE this amazing child before you!  God has allowed things to go wrong sometimes, but through that evil He can bring an even greater good!

   Life IS worth it!  Christ gave meaning to suffering on the cross and only in dying to oneself can we have new life.  Who is courageous enough to go into the dark ground of suffering and sacrifice, not to seek it out but take it when it comes?  Who is courageous enough to be planted in that rich soil of sacrifice, to die to self, so that you may truly live?  And in what can feel like an overwhelming darkness, where there can be pain, hope is found at the foot of the cross.
   Thank you, Liz for sharing your story of love with us!  (I love you, mom.)

That’s my view of it and I welcome yours!  (Please comment below!)
And if you like what you’ve read, PLEASE SHARE!  THANK YOU!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Open to True Love...

(Today’s post is a little longer than normal, but only because there is so much to share!  New feminism IS rising!!  First culture updates and then another contributing author’s story!  Enjoy!)

There is a wonderful story for you today about a woman longing for motherhood.  Permit me, please, to share with you first some interesting conversations about the nature of woman and motherhood going on in our world.  Both womanhood and motherhood have recently be under attack this week, but also defended. 

Actress Ashley Judd actually wrote an op-ed piece about the comments people were making about her “puffy face”.  She was horrified that there was no assumption of goodness, but instead all they wanted to know was whether she had plastic surgery.  She wrote powerfully,

“The Conversation about women happens everywhere, publicly and privately. We are described and detailed, our faces and bodies analyzed and picked apart, our worth ascertained and ascribed based on the reduction of personhood to simple physical objectification. Our voices, our personhood, our potential, and our accomplishments are regularly minimized and muted…
The only thing that matters is how I feel about myself, my personal integrity, and my relationship with my Creator…
I choose to address it because the conversation was pointedly nasty, gendered, and misogynistic and embodies what all girls and women in our culture, to a greater or lesser degree, endure every day, in ways both outrageous and subtle. The assault on our body image, the hypersexualization of girls and women and subsequent degradation of our sexuality as we walk through the decades, and the general incessant objectification is what this conversation allegedly about my face is really about…” [i]

I love that she is bringing this up!  I believe that we, as a society, are beginning to see how this is not good for women!  And even on MSNBC, there was a discussion about a new show “Girls” and the idea that pornography and that women could “have sex like men” has been unfulfilling and demeaning for women.  “It’s easier to find equality in the boardroom than in the bedroom” was one of my favorite lines.[ii]  Yes!  That is what they said! 

And again, as we had mentioned in last week’s Unsolved Mysteries post, stay at home mothers have gotten slammed.  A democratic strategist (Hilary Rosen) dismissed Ann Romney’s knowledge and insight into women’s issues by saying “she has never worked a day in her life”.  Not only has Mrs Romney raised five sons, but she has also survived cancer, deals daily with MS and is a volunteer for many nonprofit groups.  She fought back saying that a woman’s choice of career should be supported and worthy no matter what she chooses – even if she chooses staying home with her children.  

To his credit, President Obama actually commented as well,
“There is no tougher job than being a mom," Obama told a TV station in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. "And when I think about what (my wife) has had to do, when I think about my own mom, a single mother raising me and my sister, that's work.
"So, anybody who would argue otherwise I think probably needs to re-think their statement. More broadly, I don't have a lot of patience for commentary about the spouses of political candidates.”

It is so good to have this discussion, because many have underlying sentiments like Ms Rosen that undermine the value of motherhood.  
And yet, what happens when we pine for physical motherhood and it doesn’t come?  Where is our meaning found when that’s all we’ve been hoping for?  Emily is a friend of mine who I met while in Washington, DC.  She currently lives with her family in Dallas.  

WITHOUT FURTHER ADO, here is her story,

“Eight….that’s how many kids I wanted….well, maybe 12. I had all their names picked out – Katerina, Tatiana, Oksana (I loved those 1992 Olympians!), Scarlet (I had just read Gone with the Wind) …yep, I had it all figured out in 8th grade. Who knew that 15 years later it would be so hard to even have one baby?

Infertility never crossed my mind. I’m sure it crossed my husband’s. He’s the worrier. But, me, nah….I wasn’t worried - my family is huge! I’ve always prided myself on having well over 40 first cousins. Having babies would be no problem. Sure, we might worry about them coming too soon or too close together, but we would certainly have them.

As it turned out, it wasn’t so certain.

I knew early on, once we started trying, that it wasn’t going to be just a matter of months before we conceived. I could just feel it deep inside. As time wore on, there were some very, very dark days and nights. Eventually, we sought professional help, but were haphazardly treated for infertility with no answers as to why we couldn’t conceive. Spiritually and emotionally, I was on a roller coaster. I wondered “why me?” and “what did I do wrong?” I thought that perhaps if I could just be a better wife or if I strengthened my prayer life, then God would give us a baby. Sometimes I caught a glimpse of my husband’s pain, and it reminded me that I wasn’t the only one hurting. But, often I felt alone. I hardly ever talked to anyone about why we didn’t have children. I didn’t see anyone else in my position….I could only see my pain.

But somewhere in those years, I learned to get over myself (mostly), and I realized that children are a precious gift. You can’t demand a gift – it is freely given from another. Sometimes you get lots of gifts and sometimes only a few. And sometimes you don’t get any at all.   

Society never warns you about infertility. Women are encouraged to get on the pill and men are told to be responsible and carry a condom. Children are welcomed when they are “wanted,” but not before. Unwanted children are discarded and, many argue, better off never being born. And little attention is given to the role that hormonal contraception, STDs, abortion, and delayed parenthood play in infertility. Society tells us to go ahead, have fun with your body while you are young and when you decide you “want” children, we can make one for you – in your womb, someone else’s womb, or a petri dish.

We were lucky because our faith had a lot of things to say about marriage and family and babies. We had guidance on how far we should go in our desire for a child. Someone close to us, after going through the pain of an unsuccessful IVF treatment, said we were lucky that we had a faith that taught IVF was wrong…because at least we had boundaries. She and her husband tried IVF again and were, again, unsuccessful. I can’t help but think that if every option is fair game, it must be very hard to say no to a treatment that might make you a family. We were lucky – we did have guidance and boundaries, and I was grateful.   

In Donum Vitae 8, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith says: The child is not an object to which one has a right, nor can he be considered as an object of ownership: rather, a child is a gift, "the supreme gift" (Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes, 50) and the most gratuitous gift of marriage, and is a living testimony of the mutual giving of his parents. For this reason, the child has the right, as already mentioned, to be the fruit of the specific act of the conjugal love of his parents; and he also has the right to be respected as a person from the moment of his conception.

Finally, we got in touch with people believed just this - that children have a right to be conceived within the loving embrace of their parents. They aren’t in the business of baby making – they are in the business of finding the root cause of infertility. And, as it turns out, they back their beliefs with top notch medicine. We traveled across the country for diagnostic surgery and discovered I had severe endometriosis. Six months and a second surgery later, I was endo free. From 3 states away, the good doctors and nurses of the Pope Paul VI Institute (link to: monitored my hormones and adjusted my medication. With the guidance of a FertilityCare practitioner (link too:, my husband and I tracked our fertility using the Creighton Model. We were in good hands.

And then….it happened. We got pregnant. When I found out, I laughed. I laughed and laughed and laughed. I felt like Sarah when the three angels told her that she would bear Abraham a child. She laughed. After so many years of married love without a child, it seemed funny to me too. On our seventh anniversary, we heard our son’s heartbeat for the first time. At seven weeks, he looked just like a bean, but he had a heart, and it was beating. I cried.

Children are a gift. Sometimes they come fast and sometimes they come slowly. Sometimes they don’t come at all. Somewhere in those years of infertility, I began to feel like a mother because my heart was open to the possibility of a baby. When I loved my husband, it was with the love that yearned for our love to grow into another. When our son was born, he was the embodiment of that love. But, even if we didn’t have our son, I’d still have that mother’s heart – a heart open to love beyond myself. As John Paul II says in Mulieris Dignitatum 31, In the Spirit of Christ, in fact, women can discover the entire meaning of their femininity and thus be disposed to making a "sincere gift of self" to others, thereby finding themselves. I am grateful that I had to wait to become an actual mother. I don’t think I would have appreciated my son or my husband or God as much if we had gotten pregnant easily. I think it took me much longer to learn that we only find ourselves in losing ourselves…that when we make a sincere gift of ourselves and expect nothing – not even a baby – in return, we are more like God than we know.”  - Emily from Dallas.

And I will leave it at that!  Thank you, Emily for sharing!  

Wow, true feminism being demeaned and defended! in our culture and a beautiful story of a woman's motherhood, spiritual and physical - what a lot to ponder! 

That’s my view of it and I welcome yours!  (Please comment below!)
If you have liked what you’ve read – please share the blog!  Thank You!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Unsolved Mysteries

Before our next two stories, a preface must be made.  I would like to share with you a theory… an I idea that I am not sure I am convinced of yet, but one I cannot let go of.  Ever since I first read it, it has been echoing in my mind like a half-remembered dream.  It holds such promise, ringing truth throughout every breath of my experience of life; and yet, I cannot fully grasp it to know for sure.  Like all beauty, it’s a mystery – longing to be known, fully comprehended – but just out of our full grasp.

It begins with a beautiful word: mother.  We all understand the impact of motherhood on the woman and child.  Though I believe the value of the “mother” has been belittled and berated in the public view in the last 40 years, there is still no denying the bond a woman forms with her child – first in the womb, and then in her arms.  They have even discovered that a woman’s body holds onto some of her child’s DNA.  She truly has a piece of him or her with her almost as long as she lives.

Her body changes, stretches, and gives all she has to bring the life of a new baby to the world.  Throughout that child’s life also, the mother changes, stretches, gives all she has to bring that child up in goodness and joy.

The theory is that “motherhood” is a woman’s way of being in the world.  “Womanhood” is who she is, but “motherhood” is how she relates to the world.  Whether she is a physical mother or not, she expresses that motherhood in all she is.  She gives herself to others; she cares about their emotional needs; she gives even forsaking herself; she loves before judging; she seeks to understand and develop relationships; and she breathes life to those around her.

This of course flies in the face of liberal feminism, which points to motherhood as the cause of female oppression.  I would humbly suggest it is quite the opposite.  I am convinced more and more that to the extent that a woman can tap into her “motherhood”, that is the extent to which she will feel fulfilled in life.  It is not motherhood that is the oppression, but the degradation of motherhood that debases women.

From falling in love with the wrinkled newborn in my arms, to empowering women to believe in themselves, to giving peace to the wound of a broken marriage, in every aspect of my life (with my children, the women with whom I work or the couples we minister too), my motherhood is actualized.

Again, my mind is not completely around this, and so I have more questions than answers.  What does this mean for God’s role in woman’s life?  In physical motherhood, He touches down into the body of woman and creates a new soul there.  If that is motherhood, when we live out our spiritual motherhood might there be a special divine grace to bring new life to each relationship we encounter?  Doesn’t this glorify even more the greatness of physical motherhood?  Does this mean without a greater value placed on motherhood in society, women will never have true equality?  With this view of motherhood, doesn’t it seem not to only go beyond the walls of the domestic life but demand that women take a greater role in the leadership of society?

And that is where we must leave it.  A mystery unsolved, but many ideas to ponder as we will hear, in coming posts, women share their motherhood.

There is such a stark contrast in the world.  On the one hand, deep inside we all know the greatness of motherhood.  And on the other, a woman without a career who chooses to be a stay at home mother is brushed aside as less than human…unsolved mysteries indeed.

That's my view of it and I welcome yours!  Please comment below!

If you like what you've read, please SHARE with others!  THANK YOU!

* I have read many philosophers and theologians who have touched on this idea, but I first read it in depth from (where else?) John Paul II's Apostolic Letter, Mulieris Dignitatem "On the Dignity and Vocation of Women" nn 4-5, 8, 17-22.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Angels Among Us

[Our first post (of many I hope!) from the heart of another woman; sharing her experience as woman.]

Last week, I shared about the need to be loved; every young woman has an ache to be cherished by someone.  To continue on that thought, our powerful feminine emotions can be a great asset to who we are…or they can hinder us.  That deep emotional need to be loved can lead a young lady to throw herself into a relationship (even if it is not a healthy one).  She wants so badly to be in love that she affixes her emotions to a young man that doesn't know what love is either.  Her heart is soon entangled within an immature, broken relationship, but she doesn’t see a way to get free.  Here is one such story, and the angel who helped her break the cycle.  This one is from Ana DeLeon.  She has her Masters from the John Paul II Institute of Marriage and Family Studies, and currently lives in Virginia with her husband and daughter.

“If someone would have asked me at the age of 20 where and what I would be doing with my life at 29, I certainly would not have told them married for almost three years, have a 2 year old (hoping for #2), all while praying for the generational sins of our families to be broken – what?! Really?!!

Luckily for me, I met a wonderful woman in college, my mentor, who changed my life forever.  She gently helped me break away from a broken relationship, and then basically revealed to me, by her actions, God’s love.  Yes, for the first time in my “adult” life, I came to understand and to know authentic love – what it really means to be loved by someone for who you are, made in the image and likeness of Christ.  It took one question to make me realize that I really had no real desire or love for this person: “What do you love about him?” regarding my broken relationship.  I couldn’t think of a single thing!!  It was the web of lies and false love that had us “locked in chains,” as I like to say.  

I see so many young girls today who swear that they are “in love,” but they have not really experienced life enough nor know who they are wholeheartedly...So how can they truly love?  I knew that I was cutting myself short.  What I didn’t know (but would soon learn) is that God had a better plan for me.  It took me a while to realize that, but with the help of my mentor (my guardian angel, as I like to call her), I came face to face with God.  

As I prayed, went to church, kept away from things that I knew were hindering my spiritual walk with God, (and again prayed!), I fell in love with Christ!  I had never experienced Christ to this capacity – ever! My heart was growing and searching for more.  Shortly thereafter, I was introduced to Theology of the Body, and let me just say, I was never the same after that!  I had an open heart and mind, and I was able to hear the truth in the words of Pope John Paul II.  It’s what I had been waiting for.  It’s what I want for every woman and man to know: why we were created male and female and what does the marital union of man and woman say to us about God and His plan for our lives.

Whatever plan you think you may have for your life, forget about it. God has something even greater planned out for you!  I never thought that part of my life’s mission is to pray for the end of the generational sin in my family, but it is.  That’s not my only mission, but one I hold close in my heart.  My story is unique because, well, I’m Mexican-American, so you might assume that I come from a strong Catholic background, but I don’t.  My families, from both parents, have suffered tremendously in the past, and those sad realities still lurk in the background of their lives.  There’s so much more to say about that, so we’ll leave that for another day.  However, I’m grateful for all the experiences in life, because without them I wouldn’t be who I am today.  I wouldn’t have experienced God’s mercy and grace as I did.     

I’m married to an amazing man who also seeks God’s heart more than anything else; his love and passion for God makes me fall in love with him more and more every day!  It’s an everyday thing, but we understand that as long as we keep God first in our marriage, then our love can only grow from there.  And has it grown!  (Yet, again, that’s another story in it of itself!  Let me just say, that the first two years of marriage are the hardest!  Those who say they are the easiest, or call it the “honeymoon years,” are mistaken!) 

We have a beautiful little girl, who embodies in every way, the fruit of our prayers, the beginning of a holy family in our own little family tree.  That is our prayer and it begins with us!  I remind myself of this every day, and I pray that God keeps this always in front of me, so that our family can begin to transform and repair the generations present, past and, future."    -  Ana DeLeon

What a beautiful story!  Thank you, Ana, for sharing with us!  What wonderful reminders to first seek God to fill our love-need and second, if we see another woman (or young woman) in need of help, be her angel!  Only then will she be able to live a life in the fullness of God's grace and follow the path He calls her down.

God has not only given us a gift of womanhood in all our complexity, but He has given us each other!  Our dearest friends, other women who understand the female heart and through love, can resonate truth within it.  Let us not give up on the younger generation!  They may seem hopeless at times, but everything aside – she is still a girl, looking to be loved.

Well, that's my view of it and I welcome yours!  Please comment below!

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