Thursday, April 17, 2014

The NOW of Holy Thursday

Good morning!  We are settled in here so as to live fully the week that changed the world.  I need this week pretty bad right now. How about you?

I want to take you back to where I left off with my NFP journey.  I’ve strayed a bit with some other writing…or lack there of…and Holy Thursday this year reminds me of a Holy Thursday three years ago…

when this one was conceived…

Look what I found in the garage Ma!

Our fourth.

I left off with this post about learning to be at home with my three daughters after being an officer in the Coast Guard for five years (a.k.a working mom).  I eventually did learn to be at home and so much to the extent I felt called to home school my children as well.  I had spent three and half years putting my eldest daughter into daycare only to dread the day I would  have to say goodbye to her yet again as Kindergarten started.  “Well,” my dear friend Janet said, “you’ll just have to do Kindergarten at home then.”  I’m not equipped to write coherently on homeschooling and the WHYS and HOWS of it all, but it has been rather fulfilling and amazing so far.

So the winter of 2011, I was home, homeschooling, and I have to admit I went through a season of intense loneliness.  I’m not going to dwell on this too much here, maybe for another day when it makes more sense.  I remember this time very well because it started right after my dear friend Rebekah had twin boys.  I missed her and her mother as they were engulfed in baby land and I was trying to find a balance between choosing family and navigating various social realms (Coast Guard wives, church friends, home school moms).  And…well…there you have it…I was lonely.  It was quite a dry time for me spiritually but God did pull me out of it in the spring. 

I see these young moms with a cross of loneliness, it is a particular type of suffering.  He walked with me as I carried that cross and I know He is with those young mothers as well.

As I came out of that spiritual winter into spring, the workings OF spring seemed to take hold in our family.  Our youngest would be two in the summer and something about the spacing and what we envisioned for our family started working on us. 

Yes, an itch, you might say.

However, more than just feeling like the time would draw near to perhaps trust God in being open to another, with this fourth one there was a definite…NOW.

I had never truly experienced this NOW like I did with my son. 

It wasn’t the word “now” in my ear, spoken in my English tongue, the call was in the language of the air and the flickering of candles around the Blessed Sacrament on Holy Thursday evening of that year.

The NOW had crept in during Mass just a few hours earlier.  I watched Angela’s son, a young handsome man in his early twenties, as an alter server so reverently serve the priest in Mass.  Angela’s son.  I wanted a son.

I felt the desire engulf me…a son, O Lord…is it possible?

I saw possibilities as I looked around the church on that holy evening, surrounded by gentlemen….grandfathers, fathers, uncles, nephews…all were each a son. 

The NOW was gently imploring to me that this NOW would be a son.

Is this too bold of me? I’m just writing what happened.

Justin had stayed home with our littles so that I could go to Mass and Adoration.  For Holy Thursday, our family does a “Last Supper” dinner together with flat bread and sparkling grape juice and we read from our children’s Bible with the great illustrations.  Then we have a family foot washing (the LITTLES LOVE THIS).  Triduum can be SO much sometimes depending on where each of your littles is at, and that 7:00 in the evening can go so many ways…so sometimes we all go…and sometimes we don’t and that particular Holy Thursday…I was by myself.
My friend Suzanne came to Adoration after Mass with me, and we stayed with Jesus.  Or…as I have said before…really…He stays with us.  Such great love (I wrote another post about Adoration and NFP here).

So I felt the NOW and I usually bring my journal so I was also writing while I felt the NOW…and I think the miracle is not that this was being communicated to me as if I were a saint (because…um…I’m not)…but that I was able to respond  to this NOW with LOVE.

The NOW was in the beauty of the stained glass, the stillness of the day chapel, the iconography telling the history of salvation, the soft kneelers, the thin pages of the Bible, the clinking of a rosary, the lingering incense from the procession,  the large cross holding the Sacred Host, holding the Axis of the Universe.

God gave Justin and I the grace to respond with LOVE and be open to life.

God's grace is liberating.

I was thinking…it didn’t feel like “obeying.”  The Lord had brought us so far on our NFP journey that we weren’t just “obeying” Church teaching and “following rules.”

Our marriage, by practicing NFP and respecting each other and abstaining and constantly discerning His will, had become intimately familiar with this Third.  We were all cooperating.

And BECAUSE bringing another child in the world is SO HUGE and MIND BLOWING…He pours His grace over us so that saying “yes” feels easy.  The grace upholds and comforts and gives confidence.

Usually, oh say around half way through the first trimester when the house looks like a bomb hit it and our littles are being particularly chaotic and I am doing the “I’m exhausted I’m going to bed now” preggo dance, Justin and I will shoot each other a glance that says “And we are having another? Are we crazy????”

Looking back on those moments, it is so humbling to realize how much of the conceiving and carrying and raising the child into our world is not about OUR work, it is truly His work. 

He calls these children here.

I’m so glad that God was so good to use Holy Thursday in this way.  I hope you have a very blessed one as well.  Thank you for reading :)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real - Spring Vacation

Blessings! We have been on vacation in the Lower 48 visiting grands and great grands!  I have a few pictures to share today and I have a bit of a Lenten reflection going on in my brain that I hope to jot down soon.  I kept thinking on vacation as we did a premature Easter egg hunt with cousins

and had way to much sugar

that we weren't really focusing on Lent.  However, when you live far away from family....everyone just wants fun and memories crammed into the little time we have.  


I'm not sure if you can see this doll house very well.  It is thirty years old and was made by my Great Aunt Virginia.  Lovingly constructed with cardboard, furnishings and fabrics, it was very pretty to my four year old.  She played with it for two hours straight!


We went to Aunt Joanna's littles couldn't have been more 
happy playing with a cooler full of spring chicks!

The gloves eventually came off...chicks are 
TOO SOFT to try to enjoy with gloves on, but they must have washed their hands fifty times :) 
(imagine me gently reminding them every time they emerged from the cooler).


At our hotel in Seattle...

George Washington's birthplace in Virginia...

(He was a surveyor you know!)


Many military families have the choice with their vacation time to either visit family or not.  Many of us choose family, we do, even if spring in Virginia and Ohio means we won't be coming back with nice tans.  Traveling with four littles is quite a "task", and God in his goodness provides, because in the end the money, time and energy is well spent. These are my wonderful grandparents so happy to have their great grandchildren around :) 

Click over here for more PHFR! God Bless!

Sunday, March 9, 2014


Thank you Roxie for nominating my blog for the Sunshine Award.  That a mama of eight beautiful children would even think of me in this way is a much needed boost for me right about now.

Here are 10 tidbits about me:

1.  I am a Navy brat.  My father's career in the Navy took our family all over the East Coast.  I don't know where to say I am "from" but I do love Juneau, Alaska where I have lived with my own family for almost five years.  I wonder if Juneau can just adopt me and I can say I'm from here.

2.  I love reading.  I can hole myself up in used book stores for hours.  I always have about five books going on at one time.  I selfishly home school my children because it is another excuse to READ wonderful children's literary classics that I never got to read.  I just read The Little Prince for the first time!

3.  I love watching period films, all things BBC, etc.  I do love my Jane Austen movies.  I of course love the novels, but something about seeing those manners and civility, the dress and dancing, the restraint of two lovers on the big screen...well...a five hour version of Emma or seven discs of Pride and Prejudice just doesn't seem long enough. 

4.  I am addicted to coffee creamer.  I mean of course I have a little coffee with the creamer, it just gets chilly here in Alaska during the winters or on particularly rainy days. I like peppermint mocha creamer the best.

5.  I like to dance (err...contra dance, when a caller tells you what to do).  I love Juneau because not only have I been able to go to my first opera here, learn to skate ski and eat smoked salmon...but...I have been able to attend some barn dances. These are fun! My lovely friend Angela and I share a birthday and so we go on our birthdays to dance.  Her handsome husband plays piano for the band and my handsome husband dances (but I do share him).  It's only once a year, and this year a gentleman said I was rather "jumpy" when I danced but I think it's because I'm so stupidly excited to be dancing in an old fashioned fun way. See number 3...I like period films and there is ALWAYS dancing.

Look there is Doug playing piano see!

6.  I cannot play a musical instrument.    But this is ok! My strategy has been to surround myself with people who CAN play.  My husband plays guitar and my eight year old daughter plays violin and my six year old daughter plays piano.  I want to foster a love of music and I think singing, musical families have fun rocking out together.  We love musicals too and we belt out songs in our home regularly.  

7.  How I Met My Husband.  We were cadets together at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy! After our summer from the monumental shift of being a swab (freshman) to a third class cadet (sophomore) I wanted to see my friend Russ after a long three months away from school (we were sailing on a tallship across the Atlantic Ocean). Russ was in my company, Delta company, and I knocked on his door but his tall handsome roommate answered....and his name was Justin. We married three weeks after we graduated from CGA and I scratch my head sometimes as to how on earth I made it through a military academy...and I know its by the grace of God that I needed to meet this guy...

8.  I follow the Catholic Church's teaching on being open to life. That husband and I do.  I started this blog because I think some women, by the grace of God, are in marriages that are called to this holy teaching.  I don't blog about how to use NFP...there is enough writing out there about that... but I do blog about my own journey on how God continues to support us in this way of life. And if you read my NFP posts...I tell you my is the Holy Mass and the Blessed Sacrament that is the Support!

Hmmmm....2 more!!!! Geesh...

9.  I keep a journal.  Writing in my journal is a form of prayer for me. A blog is one thing, but I have kept journals since college, and I do with every pregnancy. I love going there with the pen and paper, the Lord has really spoken to me when I can get in those pages.

10.  Teffa.  My name is Stephanie, but my family somehow got "Teffa" out of it and it is a funny nickname that I sometimes hear on the phone calls I get here in the Last Frontier.  Actually, my grandmother in Ohio just called me and said "Hi Feff." So Feff too. 

God bless.

* oh! And I am nominating Katy Rice as someone who "positively and creatively inspires others in the blogosphere."  Her work with children in the atrium is life changing!

Here are the rules for the Sunshine Award:

1. Use the award logo in your post.
2. Link to whoever nominated you.
3. Tell us 10 pieces of information about yourself.
4. Nominate fellow bloggers who "positively and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere".
5. Leave a comment on the nominees' blogs to tell them of the award.