#Whatwomenneed for Valentine’s Day

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When I was a kid I loved St. Valentine’s Day. I once made a 3-D teddy bear Valentine box out of cardboard, fabric scraps, and old buttons. It was my first experience with a glue gun and I was in my glory. But now that I’ve passed the craft and character themed card phase of this holiday, all I really want out of Valentine’s Day is c-h-o-c-o-l-a-t-e, am I right? At least that’s what I thought…

I recently came across this post on Facebook. It’s a picture of Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood, presenting what women want for Valentine’s Day…

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Face. Palm.

As you can imagine, it’s gone viral. As has the response of women from all over the US, posting pictures of what it is they really need this Valentine’s Day under #whatwomenneed. I’ve compiled my favorite posts below from these lovely women of the interweb who think we deserve better. (Check out Women Speak for Themselves to get in on this hashtag action).

Top 10 #WhatWomenNeed for Valentine’s Day
(and every day)

10. Non violent options for an unplanned pregnancy & resources and support to make non violent choices. #adoptionloveadoption

9. Happy family life, dignified work & paid maternity leave

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Helen Alvare, founder of Women Speak For Themselves

8. The truth about the birth control pill.

7. To know that size or a number on a scale doesn’t determine beauty.

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6. Prenatal care and mammograms (which Planned Parenthood does not provide. Lame.)whatwomen need

5. To know they are strong enough to choose life

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4. Knowledge and education about how their bodies work; Instruction on natural, safe, effective family planning without dangerous hormones (Shout out to Creighton Model!)fertiliyt

3. Less superficial beauty, more true beauty (Watch this amazing short film by Wacoal, #mybeautifulwoman )

2. Committed relationships rooted in chastity, respect, sacrifice, and real love. (Because marriage is awesome!)

And this

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Ladies, you are the crown of creation and your femininity, fertility and all, is a beautiful & wonderful gift. Blessings to you this Valentine’s day!

***(Oh, and Zac, I’m still gonna need some chocolate. A lot of chocolate.)

Good reads:

Letter of Pope John Paul II to Women

Made in His Image

1Flesh

 

My husband is such a Took

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My husband and I recently determined (while sitting around with my brother discussing what usually ends up on the table: the great J.R.R. Tolkien) that if we were to take one of those online quizzes, “Which Middle Earth Character Are You?” we would definitely all be hobbits. Besides our love for second breakfast, even thirds, and our snug little hobbit-hole on the farm, we like to laugh, sing, drink (“It comes in pints!?”), and generally make merry.

But while I am more of a mild mannered Brandybuck, Zac is definitely a Took. Yes, I said it. The Tooks, according to Tolkien, had quite the reputation for unusual and undesirable hobbit behaviors and qualities. They were adventurous, devilishly curious, clever, and dare I say courageous? Flip through The Hobbit to see just how much trouble one Bilbo Baggins (son of a Took) gets himself into (i.e. trolls, goblins, dragons, nasty stuff). 

I mean what was Bilbo thinking leaving Hobbiton? Six meals a day, cozy hearths, peace and quiet- why leave all of this behind to go on an adventure?  A dangerous, dirty adventure? Me? My response is more: “Sorry! I don’t want any adventures, thank you. Not today. Good morning! But please come to tea-any time you like. Why not tomorrow? Good bye!”

And so you can imagine that when I read Pope Francis’ The Joy of the Gospel, I was troubled. Yes, I fretted like a comfort-loving Brandybuck. Because the Church, it turns out, is not a sanctuary from the grimy world we live in:

“I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security… More than by fear of going astray, my hope is that we will be moved by the fear of remaining shut up within structures which give us a false sense of security, within rules which make us harsh judges, within habits which make us feel safe, while at our door people are starving and Jesus does not tire of saying to us: “Give them something to eat” (Mk 6:37).” (49)

Being a Christian is a lot like going on an adventure. And If you’ve read the news lately, both at home and internationallyit’s a pretty mucky and increasingly perilous one. But it’s an adventure that some crazy people choose. My husband converted to Catholicism in 2011 (have I mentioned the sweet spot in my heart for converts?)  If we cradle Catholics imagine for a moment the courage it takes for a free thinking adult to embrace faith, mystery, the spiritual- call me a romantic, but I say it is heroic. I wonder myself if I had not been raised Catholic, if I would have the courage today as an adult to be one. In a world that yells, “more!” Christians chose a life that whispers “less.” Be less selfish, less angry, less lustful, less lazy and be more of who you are made to be.  And while this may not exactly strike you as dragon slaying material, it sure sounds like it to me.   

Some people get it, that the road calls us onward and that if we stop off we get comfy and fat and lazy (a few of my favorite things, unfortunately). Going through RCIA with Zac and experiencing his excitement for the Church was like a reminder for me to get up and get going. Because I realized my faith had gotten a little squishy around the waist, keeping nice and comfy in the safety of my church walls. But we were not made for comfort- we were made for greatness (shout out Benedict XVI!). I think you adult converts, you crazy Tooks, you get it. You live dangerously. You are on fire with this excitement for Jesus and it is contagious. You give me courage to get out there, in my own ordinary, little way and live my faith. Courage to go on an adventure.  

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Click this link below for a video of Zac briefly talking about what it’s like being a young, bearded,  NFP promoting, metalhead convert to the Catholic Church and why just being “nice” is kind of boring when you could be courageous.    (Begins @ 5:00 – 14:00 minute mark. The rest of the video is a speaker for the Catholic Alive! series at St. Paul’s in Butler. You can check out the rest of the series on the church’s website.) 

Zac speaks on his conversion to Catholicism. (What a Took.) 

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Meme courtesy of The Catholic Gentleman, whom you should follow.

“Our culture has filled our heads but emptied our hearts, stuffed our wallets but starved our wonder. It has fed our thirst for facts but not for meaning or mystery. It produces “nice” people, not heroes.” – Peter Kreeft, Jesus-Shock “The world offers you comfort. But you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.” – Benedict XVI “You’re bored? That’s because you keep your senses awake and your soul asleep.” – St. Josemaría Escrivá “Each Christian and every community must discern the path that the Lord points out, but all of us are asked to obey his call to go forth from our own comfort zone in order to reach all the ‘peripheries’ in need of the light of the Gospel.” — Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel

I am the Fourth Candle

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Image“It’s not gonna make it!” I worry every year about that first purple candle on the advent wreath. The first week, a pep talk. “It’s gonna be a long four weeks, friend. And you’re not gonna like it. But this year, you can do this.” Week two comes around and that dollar store candle is definitely less than half way gone. How in the world is it going to make it two more weeks? Two more weeks!? This stinks! By week three I light the wreath and wonder what be the chances of that first flame licking a branch of the by now completely crunchy pine needles in the wreath? (And then write a note to get us a fire extinguisher because without one in this old farmhouse we are really living dangerously.)

As for me, I’m really more like the last purple candle. Get in there last minute and give it your all for like a hot second. Less work for equal glory? I’m in! Or maybe like the rose candle, all joyful and pink. I mean, who doesn’t like fun time pink candle? But this year I was determined to make an effort towards that first candle, bearing that long wait for all four weeks and offering up some sacrifices here and there.

Advent is the season of wait. A time to tidy up our messy souls all comfy cozy for the Savior to come and rest. And so this advent, I made it a point to unplug. I ditched most of the social media apps from my phone and limited screen time in attempts to savor some good old fashion reality. Just staring at the falling snow like a crazy person or trying to appreciate the stillness of our little apartment in the morning. It was surprisingly and unfortunately really difficult to do most times. It’s become hard just to be still. We also tried to spend more time in prayer together as a couple. We rolled those beads in the light of the wreath praying for our future children. Uniting our wait for a house filled with oh, say, a half dozen or so little ones, with the wait for Christ. We also waited to decorate our Christmas tree (if you can call a two foot tall jumble of artificial branches a tree) until today. Christmas cookies stayed in the freezer. Our Frank and Bing albums would have to wait, too. It was time to suffer savor the wait throughout advent to totally rejoice throughout the coming 12 days of Christmas.

And so it’s Christmas Eve. And by now I am that sad puddle of purple dye and artificial wax globbed on some old, charred pine that used to be the first week’s candle. It’s not easy to shed light on your weaknesses, it’s not easy to sacrifice, it’s not easy to wait- but it is totally worth it. Because He makes all things new. And now this hot waxy mess is ready to celebrate!

Make your house fair as you are able, trim the hearth and set the table.

People, look East and sing today:

Love, the Lord, is on the way!

http://AdventUnplugged

 

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On our second anniversary… An Ode to Joy

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Our Marriage Equation:
you + me + loving sacrifices – silent treatment + sense of humor -selfishness(x2) = total Joy.

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Our first two years of married bliss, a summary:
one Polish honeymoon
Zachary’s first communion
Michele’s first heavy metal show
Zac learns about coffee, gardening, & travel
Michele learns about Tolkien, hockey & beard growing
Zac & Michele both learn (a lot) about NFP
2 tiny apartments
2 new careers
& 2 years later.

Marriage is an incredible thing, really. It brings you out of yourself and into something more. It shows you your weakest self (Oh, selfish wretch!) and then, only through the grace of God, it makes you better. You discover quickly the things that don’t belong: having the last say, raging insecurities, & the silent treatment (eh hem, I know. Did I mention the selfish wretch part?).  When Zac and I were engaged we met a stunningly beautiful older woman who gave us this golden tidbit:

I always gave 95% and expected 5% in return. He likewise promised 95% and only 5% in return. We had a wonderful life.

It reminded me of this prayer-mantra: “I must decrease so that You may increase.” It’s like that in my relationship with the Lord and it’s kinda like that in marriage, too, now that I think about it. We both agreed on August 27th 2011 to take our inner selfish brat and slowly, bit by bit, through loving sacrifices, be less bratastic and more better for each other (yes, even more better). And holy cannoli, let me tell you, that’s not easy!  Too often aren’t we all afraid to be the one who loves more, who gives more, because it shows weakness, vulnerability, and that usually leads to heartbreak (hello, giant walls built up around heart. I know thee well)? And, ladies, where have we learned this? I’m blaming every episode of The Bachelor, Cosmo, my goodness the MTV music awards (what the what Miley girl?) and anything post season one of Vampire Diaries (guilty) which have told us for years that we need to be sexy and not beautiful & strong but not loving.  But when you stand before God in an adorable vintage inspired dress and promise not only to love but to give it all for this one handsome person, forever, wow does that change you. It’s through the scrubbing away when dishes pile up again and, ugh, tackling the “I have no idea how to cook meat” nights for a certain carnivore, especially when (waaaa!) I’m tired- I’m decreasing the brat in me. And by Zac waking up every morning and bringing me coffee, frying up one veggie omelette that gets split in half so I have a healthy start, and then supporting like 85.9% of my crazy ideas- that’s sacrificial love. And you know what? By getting less of what I want, I am actually growing more into my true self. It’s crazy against physics! It ain’t always easy, people, or pretty. But in this simple life of growing together in love, we do great things. And this past year, it has been all about just how we define great things. We think it has a lot less to do with square footage and climbing ladders and a lot more to do with those dishes being cleaned, overcooked pork chops, and that 6am cup of coffee in bed. 

Ok, time for Wedding Day recap! (Cause us girls like this sort of thing)

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Two years ago today we celebrated our mucho grande love at St. Paul Church in Butler with 35 of our closest family and friends.

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Zac proposed on February 11, 2011 after we visited the Eucharistic Adoration Chapel for some peaceful prayers with Jesus. It was freezing cold so I ran to the car while he almost plopped to one knee, alone, in the snow- whoops! He proposed in the nice warm car with my mother’s beautiful diamond. Then we went to the Slippery Rock Brewery (Alleluia, craft beer and pretzels drowned in cheese!). We prayed a courtship prayer every night of our 6 month engagement together (because we’re so holy? Child, please, it’s because we needed the grace! It’s super fitting that we were married on St. Monica’s feast day because she prayed and prayed that her son would give up his crazy ways and come home, and we’ve both felt like prodigal sons in one way or another. Also, our favorite prayer together was St. Monica’s son Augustine’s, “Our hearts are restless, Oh Lord, until they rest in thee.”).  And so, on August 27, 2011 we offered our marriage to Our Lady in a special moment during our ceremony at this altar.

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We then had a seriously ridiculous Italian 7 course meal with our closest at Enrico’s Biscotti! Olives, Chilean Sea Bass, pasta pasta! Who cares about cake when you have raspberry pie and chocolate hazelnut torte? So much wine, so much laughter, so much amore.

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Our simple bands.
I wear my mother’s engagement ring and her mother’s wedding band. Completely cherished.

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Joy.

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“Love between man and woman cannot be built without sacrifices and self- denial.” Blessed John Paul II

St. Monica, pray for us.

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Why NFP is Awesome

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Note from Michele: I miss NFP Awareness Week already- so we had to reblog these fabulous Creighton users loving the organic, safe, healthy not to mention totally man and woman respecting benefits of natural family planning. Because God’s plan for human sexuality is good for your body & your soul (Insert your mind blown here).

Disclaimer:  I just realized that from a great (great) distance Zac and I may vaguely resemble Jackie & Bobby, but alas these fine folks are not us but another NFP loving couple. I think it’s the blond and the beard. (The Blond and the Beard -I’m working on the novel already) Cheers!

Jackie & Bobby

I’m not even married yet, but learning Natural Family Planning (NFP) has been awesome. I am for NFP whether a couple wants 100 kids or whether they are avoiding pregnancy for a grave reason (i.e. physical or mental health concerns).  How we, as women, are not required to learn this at a young age boggles me. Rather than learning how our female body really functions (when it is fertile and infertile, or when and why you’re PMSing), most sex-ed classes and almost all OB-GYN’s “strongly suggest” taking a pill to completely neuter our womanhood.

Besides the biological fact that practicing NFP is completely chemical-free and organic (no popping birth control pills that, as a Group 1 carcinogen, can cause deathly strokes, blood clots, and an increased risk of breast cancer), knowing Natural Family Planning has helped me understand my body as a woman, AND has helped my fiancé love and…

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Celebrating my saint with lots and lots of seafood.

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photo (43)Yesterday was the feast day of Saints Anne and Joachim, parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary. And because we love to cook, eat, celebrate the Christian year, and BONUS my mother and I share the middle name of Anne- we feasted.

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Statue of St. Anne, mother of Mary, in St. Cecelia Cathedral of Omaha

We plagiarized some awesome recipes of traditional French dishes served up on St. Anne’s day thanks to Haley over at Carrots for Michaelmas. Apparently the region of Brittany has a particular devotion to the grandparents of Jesus, and so only Moules Marinieres would do. And what luck! Besides the usually tilapia, salmon, and the occasional frozen cheese pizza, Friday meatless meals are a challenge for these two carnivores. But double your pleasure double your fun this delicious seafood dish for this particular feast day happened to fall on a fish Friday! We paired it with a fresh salad prepared by my dear St. Anne middle name sharing mother, an olive baguette for the few gluten eaters, goat cheese for all the dairy eaters, and a very nice Sauvignon Blanc from the Chateau de Ste. Michelle label out of Seattle for all (but let’s face it, most dry wines get the “very nice” from these Bodas…
“I taste pears.”
“Well the bottle says herbs and melons.”
“Tastes like pears to me.”
“You always say that.”
“Because it’s true.”
“Yeah, I know.” *** Finger Lakes wine adventure post coming soon!)

Go ahead, drool away.

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I think I would be afraid of this gang of giant shrimp if I happened upon them in the sea. #healthyfearofanimals

If ever I were to drown I would want to go in something like this: butter, onions, garlic, white wine, and parsley.

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If you could only smell this seafood magic happening

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Ta da!

So if you swing by the Carrots post on St. Anne, and you should, you’ll notice that they have delicious photos of fancy cake that is a St. Anne tradition. Well, because this gal is a poor planner and because most of us are on the gluten free train (and I have yet to enter the scary world of gluten free baking) I opted for this… a gluten free brownie mix from (gasp!) a box. And, yes, they were delish.

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There’s always next year.

Saint Anne and Saint Joachim, pray for us.

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A most romantic painting of married love, by Giotto.

Interested in prayerfully eating your way through the liturgical year?

Cooking with the Saints
Carrots for Michaelmas
Catholic Cuisine
Catholic Culture

It’s even better than the Bunny Picnic!

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Very few “national celebrate this” days get me all jazzed up. There’s national Ice Cream Day (third Sunday in July, or everyday), Cow Appreciation Day (in thanks for burgers, July 15th), not to be outdone by Yellow Pig Day (in thanks for domesticated pigs, of course, on July 17th) and who could forget National Teddy Bear Picnic Day (not to be confused with my fave childhood movie, The Bunny Picnic, on July 10th).

 

But this week is different. I’m officially jazzed, Tina.

This week is National Natural Family Planning Awareness Week!

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NFP or Fertility Awareness Methods are natural methods couples can use to avoid or achieve pregnancy by observing the woman’s biological signs of fertility. No, this is not your grandma’s rhythm method, people. This is real science, organic living, and authentic healthcare that respects the dignity of women and marriage. And what’s not to like about that?

Zac and I are so passionate about the Creighton Model FertilityCare System that I am now a FertilityCare Practioner Intern out of the Pope Paul VI Institute (shout out!).

Here’s a bit of our story and why we have come to love NFP. Warning: NFP graphics overkill.

Natural. We’re concerned with what goes in our bodies. We’ve even adopted the crunchy, organic, farm to fork life. We want to be healthy and dumping artificial hormones into our bodies is, well, not. And there’s this: I’m a type one diabetic and doctors urged me to go on the pill or an IUD until I would be healthy enough to get pregnant. But it didn’t make sense to us that I should go on the pill and put myself at greater risk of heart disease, blood clots, breast cancer, stroke, and mess with my fertility while I was trying to get healthy. By using NFP, I am free from side effects and risks of artificial hormones, and we feel good about that.

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Science. Creighton Model System is the first and only family planning system to be completely integrated with a new women’s science called NaProTechnology (Natural Procreative Technology). NaProTechnology is a disease based approach to reproductive health.  That means that NaPro doctors get to the underlying cause of infertility, miscarriages, PMS, PCOS and then treat it instead of masking symptoms of an underlying problem with the pill or turning blindly to artificial reproductive technology. Once Napro docs identify and treat the cause of infertility in a way that cooperates with your natural system, and then many times a woman can naturally achieve pregnancy. (They do this by precisely timing hormone tests according to each woman’s unique cycle which she learns to chart, and also through diagnostic laparoscopy, ultrasound series, and other surgical techniques.) By treating the disease, her fertility is restored.

Avoiding Success Rates vs Pill

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Shared System. Using the pill or contraception a couple can go for a long time without ever discussing their intentions for a family. A lot of times contraception is placed all on the woman’s shoulders or the man’s. But with Creighton I do the observations, he does the charting, and we discuss each night our fertility and that leads to discussions like when can we start our family? Also, have you heard of the honeymoon effect? By abstaining during times of fertility we grow to truly appreciate our vocation as husband and wife in other ways and it makes our time together even more valued.

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Open to Life. We know even though we are avoiding pregnancy for health reasons right now, we are still open to life and there’s no chance of an abortion via break through ovulation that can happen on any pill or device.  We feel good that there are no barriers or chemicals interfering in our marriage and so we’re respecting each other’s human dignity and the dignity of marriage. Because God made us good, and we don’t need to mess with that goodness. NFP truly gives you the freedom to be who you are and how God made you. 

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Interested in NFP? Check out these pages on the interwebs or email me: michele.a.boda@gmail.com

www.1flesh.org   A grassroots movement dedicated to bringing great sex to the entire universe through the power of organic family planning.

www.carrotsformichaelmas.com  “Women Speak on NFP” Series, check out my Top 11 Reasons for NFP post and hear from lots of women who are going au naturale

www.iusenfp.com And even more from real women using NFP

http://whatshouldwecallnfp.tumblr.com/ Because it’s freaking hilarious

www.creightonmodel.com The Creighton Model of NFP

www.fertilitycare.org Find a FertilityCare Practitioner near you!

www.naprotechnology.com

www.popepaulvi.com