A Couple of Catholics

A blog about faith, intentional living and the joys and struggles of married life.

Author: Nicole Padley (page 1 of 7)

Our Miscarriage Story – Francine Helen

Have you ever just had a feeling deep in your gut that things were not going to turn out alright?

From the day I found out we were expecting our third I just had this ominous sense wash over me. Something just told me that this was not meant to be.

Call it crazy.

Call it mother’s intuition.

Call it whatever you want, but I always knew buried in the depth of my heart that we would not be meeting our child this coming Easter.

Of course, I hoped for a different ending, I never wanted to actually say the words out loud for fear that they would give life to this nightmare I’d been carrying silently in the recesses of my mind.

I know it sounds silly looking back on it, but I always just knew. Just like I always knew she was a girl.

I remember feeling so anxious as I counted down the days to the milestone eight-week appointment when we would be able to see her heartbeat. With previous pregnancies, my nerves always began to settle down after the eight-week appointment, but still, this was not the case with Francine. Her pregnancy was different from the start. Even after seeing her beautiful little wiggles and steady heartbeat on the ultrasound screen my mind was not at ease.

By the time our twelve-week appointment rolled around I was practically bracing myself for the news that something had gone horribly wrong. I remember the morning of the appointment a thought crossed my mind that I should invite Pat to come along. But in a rush, I failed to heed that little nudge from the Holy Spirit and walked right out the door.

As I entered the doctor’s office and laid back on the cold, sterile examining table my thoughts raced as I anxiously yearned to hear her sweet, healthy heartbeat.

My OB rolled the monitor back and forth against my abdomen searching for a heartbeat he would never find and I found myself repeating the names of Jesus and Mary…my feeble attempt at prayer. The truth was my thoughts were racing so fast I couldn’t even remember the words to a prayer let alone muster up the courage or grace to mumble one.

My doctor soon gave up on the heart monitor and kindly asked me to step into the ultrasound room to see what was going on.

I wanted to scream, “you’re not going to find a heartbeat. She’s gone.” Somehow I held tightly onto what little composure I had and played along. Before I knew it, there she was on a grainy, black and white monitor exposed for all to see.

What should have been a moment to make my maternal heart swell with joy and optimism, instead became the moment it was torn to pieces. My heart plummeted to my stomach. The breath stolen from my lungs.

Time stood still as I began to feel the weight of what was no longer a fear, but a reality…my reality.

I know it sounds so cliché, but I’ve never known suffering quite like this. I’ve met suffering before, of course. I’ve watched friends and family pass away, some unexpectedly, others after a long life well lived. But this cross is different…not necessarily heavier just indescribably different. It’s a foreign sort of pain and loss. One I’m still grappling with for sure.

How do you grieve and put to rest someone the world never knew?

There are no stories or memories to find joy or solace. Yet, I knew this beautiful soul, deeply and intimately. Her whole being was wrapped up into mine.

It’s fitting that we lost Francine on the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows.

I could have discovered this heart-wrenching loss on any day, but Our Mother in Her Blessed Sweetness chose to come alongside and meet me in my sorrow that day. Rather, she chose to lead me further into her own Immaculate, Sorrowful and Anguished Heart that day.

In my better moments, I’ve offered to her this unyielding pain as a feeble way to console her Most Immaculate Heart. In my weaker moments, I’ve reached for Her, clinging to the solidarity that we’ve both lost someone so precious to us, someone, the world never truly knew. And as strange as it sounds I’m thankful for that.

The following days and weeks have been a blur. I feel like a shell of who I once was and while its only been a few weeks I seriously doubt I’ll ever get over this.

The truth is even if I wanted to I could never go back. Six short weeks ago I was with child. I had life growing inside of me. I was starting to show, struggling to zip up my pants and anxiously anticipating feeling her first squirms and movements. I was hopeful and starry-eyed for the future this little one would bring. I anticipated her arrival and looked forward to discovering the little personality that would unfold before us.

And now its all come to a sudden halt. I’m not carrying and nourishing a baby inside of me anymore.

Instead of a round, growing belly — a hopeful, winsome, daydreaming heart, I’m left with an empty tomb, hallow and cold, and a heart now pregnant with grief, worry, and doubt.

Though I’m no longer with child, my heart doesn’t seem to know the difference. I still long to mother her, to care for and love her, but my longings are left with no outlet.

So where do I go from here?

After all, this is the kinda stuff that can cripple people.

The kind of stuff that can unleash a darkness in the heart that never seems to fade, a darkness that if not reckoned with could easily take hold for the long run. If there is one thing I know it’s that there is no middle ground with grief…you either deal or you don’t. You either face the darkness and eventually find the light or the darkness will overcome.

I’m certain Our Lady grappled with the same feelings, the same darkness, the same mess of emotions we desperately try to bundle together under the guise of grief. I’m certain that her pain was infinitely more piercing than mine…even on the worst days. And I’m clinging to the confidence, supplied only by His grace that like any good mother, she will walk with me through this grief to a place where it doesn’t ache quite as much.

After all, didn’t she do just that when the world fell into despair on those three darkest days her Son was in the tomb?

She stayed with the apostles and Mary Magdalene, grieving with them, consoling them. At a time when she could have isolated herself, sitting in the darkness of her own grief…a grief brought on by the world itself, she didn’t. Instead of blaming the world or shutting herself out from it, she did the very opposite.

She brought the lamenting world into her warm, loving embrace.

She consoled the world who put Love to death, resting in hope and confidence that the Lord was not finished. She found healing for her broken heart by giving it to others, by caring for and nurturing like mothers so often do.

And oddly enough it is in her very suffering that I have found hope, hope provided by God’s goodness but brought to life by her example.

So it is my prayer that I can follow the road she has paved for me, walking side by side with those who suffer in whatever capacity, offering hope and encouragement that He does, in fact, have more in store for us, each and every one of us.

This is where I can begin to move past grief and into something greater. This is where healing is found.

Back From Radio Silence

Hello again. I know what you’re thinking…it’s been WAY. TOO. LONG.

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I wish I could tell you that this virtual sabbatical was an intentional decision full of meaning and reflection, but let’s be real it wasn’t. Nope, truthfully our lives have just been full. Full of big life transitions and full of ordinary mundane tasks. Full with all the sorts of comings and goings that inevitably make up a life.

However, stepping away from the blogging scene for a while gave us time to reevaluate why we began blogging in the first place as well as a new sense of determination to get back to the things that once brought us so much joy. So here we are…back from radio silence. 

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Let me catch you up on a few of the major highlights….

As many of you know the last time we chatted we were in the midst of welcoming home our second sweet lil babe, M. And then in a blink, she turned one!

While our adjustment to a growing family has been joyful, it did not come without its fair share of upheaval. Two months before M’s birth we opted to go “heads down” on saving for a house and were graciously welcomed into my in-law’s basement, making ourselves quite cozy there.

With the new, adorable little addition to our family came the expected readjustment to our routine, but once the dust began to settle and I began to emerge from the sleep-deprived zombie state that is postpartum we found that most days were spent trying to savor every minute.

Nothing reminds you quite how quickly the babies grow up like looking at your rambunctious toddler thinking… ”wait weren’t you just the baby I was losing sleep over?”

Look how our babies have grown! Photo by Mel Watson

Summer turned to fall and with the change of seasons so also came yet another change in residence.

On my 31st birthday, Pat and I placed an offer on our very first house. That’s right, my husband bought me a house for my birthday! So to all the fellas out there, you’d best be stepping up your gift game for the ladies in your life. 😉

A short six weeks after our initial offer, on the first snowy day of the season and precisely one week before Christmas, we moved out of my oh-so gracious in-law’s basement into a real-life, pay the mortgage, shovel the snow off the driveway, replace the heater within a month house. It’s all so wonderfully responsible.

Truly though, we have been so blessed. As the dust begins to settle we look forward to sharing more with you. Thanks for your patience with us during this season of life when the things we want to get to don’t always get done.

Y’all are awesome!

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[Image credit]

Choosing Godparents

A few short weeks ago we celebrated sweet little M’s baptism and with that welcomed another lovely little soul into the Catholic Church. Who doesn’t love a good baptism, babies being cleansed of original sin and beginning their journey toward Christ through His Church?

What better way is there to spend a Sunday…really? Plus there is usually cake involved…double-win.

In the months leading up to her birth, Pat and I prepped for the arrival of our little lady as any parents would, stocking up on diapers and girly outfits, scouring through baby name books. Not one detail was overlooked, including the choice of her godparents.

But what exactly goes into such a choice?

I mean this is my kid’s soul I’m talking about. There has gotta be some sort of qualifications for such a role…something more significant than finding my closest buddy who doesn’t mind sticking around a few minutes after next Sunday’s Mass for the baptism…right?

Of course, there is.

We’re Catholic and if there is one thing certain about Catholics, we love our rules. Am I right?

Canon Law clarifies it nicely stating that in order to be a godparent one must be a faithful Catholic who has received all the sacraments of initiation: Baptism, Holy Eucharist, and Confirmation (canon 874, Code of Canon Law).

This makes sense.

After all, the duty of a godparent, aside from presenting the baby alongside the parents at baptism is to help the child learn and faithfully live out the teachings of the Christ. (canon 872, Code of Canon Law). How can someone adequately achieve this if they haven’t been fully initiated into the Church?

The godparent must also be leading a “life of faith.” That one seems pretty self-explanatory. We want our child’s godparents to be a good example of Christian life…regularly receiving the sacraments, engaging in a life with Christ through prayer, reaching out to be of service to others. You get the idea.

Along this vein of thought, Pat and I decided that we additionally wanted to foster an ongoing relationship with the godparents of our children as much as possible. While I will strive to have open and honest conversations with my children about faith I do realize that there will most likely be times when my kids may feel more comfortable talking with another adult about such matters. I hope and pray that their godparents could be those people for them, leading them toward Christ and His Church just as I would.

I should clear up that it is perfectly fine to have a person stand alongside the parents and witness the baptism who is not Catholic, but still Christian. The only catch is that a faithful Catholic must also be chosen as one of the godparents.

So there you have it. Pretty straightforward guidelines for ya. And just because I can’t pass up an opportunity to brag about the newest little Padley here are some pictures from M’s blessed baptism.

M's baptism

J looking intently as M get’s baptised

Our little family

Our little family

M's Godparents

Look at those beautiful people a.k.a. M’s godparents

Image credit: eCatholic

Expecting More Than I Deserve

It’s an understatement to say that God throws us a curve ball every once in a while. There are seasons when everything seems to be rainbows and butterflies, His blessings and grace apparent everywhere you look.

But just as there are times of abundance, so also come times of drought and spiritual dryness. Times when we struggle to believe that God hears us or even cares. As far as I’m aware this is a common part of the spiritual life shared by so many.

Nevertheless, the current spiritual climate I find myself in seems novel, yet oddly familiar. It began in early spring. A healthy seven months pregnant and with the toddler in tow we did it.

We took the plunge.

Patrick and I packed up everything and moved, but instead of stepping into the ever-coveted title of homebuyers we opted for the much more glamorous lifestyle of squatters.

That’s right we have temporarily taken up residence with my in-laws to save some money for a down payment…and now I can safely say I’ve accomplished all I’ve wanted by the age of 30. 😉

There is no doubt that we are blessed and grateful for my in-law’s unceasing generosity. Still, as we find ourselves in the height of the home-buying season, I must confess I’ve encountered some struggle along the way. Saving for a house while simultaneously trying to manage the costs of a growing family has proven to be daunting, to say the least. At times I’ve doubted the whole thing, wondering if we will ever be able to reach these lofty financial goals.

It’s been wisely stated that comparison is the thief of joy, but still, I must admit comparison is where my weakness finds itself.

I’d be lying if I said it hasn’t been frustrating watching so many around us move into homes, get promotions, go on vacations, etc. while we are snuggling into basement living. I’ve felt dissatisfied, wondering why God has not blessed our family in the same way He has blessed others.

I don’t share this in a “woe is me” sort of way.

I’m ashamed that I struggle with comparing myself to others. After all, I know I have been given so much more than I could ever deserve. Even so, I am only human and a weak one at that.

The Lord does not owe us anything.

NOT. ONE. THING.

Yet, He wants to give us everything. He wants my life to be full. He wants it to be abundant…abundant in blessing, joy, passion and love. He wants me to find prosperity in Him, during this life and in the next.

“I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” John 10:10

Which leads me to believe…dare I say…that I should expect more from Him. Not demand more as if to give God an ultimatum like some petulant child, but expect more.

I should boldly approach God with confidence that He wants only the greatest of things for His daughter.

See, I’ve never had a problem espousing to the notion that all things are possible with God. I have no trouble believing that He can do all things even in the direst circumstances.

My failure is in trusting that God will do great things. There is a big distinction between believing He can act and He will act, not only in the lives of others but in mine too.

However, believing God will accomplish great things is only the first step. The Lord always has more for us. Taking that thought one step further reveals that God desires to do amazing things in my life and in all of our lives.

The more I talk to others about trusting in God’s divine action the more I realize that I am not the only one who struggles with having holy expectations. This feeling of doubt masked by a false sense of humility plagues many of us.

We fear humbly asking our Lord for things…big things and small things.

We buy into the lie that God is too busy or that there are more important concerns in the world. But if God is infinite then so also is His ability to meet the needs of all His creation.

Why then do we sheepishly go to Him (if at all) with our needs…assuming He will push them aside for “more important” and pressing tasks?

I feel so foolish asking God to provide our little family with a house, but why?

Is it because it feels greedy…almost sinful?

Is it because on some level I believe it to be too BIG of an ask, even for God?

Or is it because deep within my soul I am lacking faith…faith that He can provide, that He WILL provide? More so that He WANTS to provide such blessings for my family and I. After all, I know who I am and I know who God is.

I am in no way deserving and there are plenty of others who have much greater material needs than I. There is not a single, valid reason He should give me anything, but still, He does.

The truth is my faith in God should be so solid that I approach Him in prayer making all those outlandish, ridiculous requests knowing that if He wants He will achieve great things for me. Instead of assuming a request is too big for God, I should humbly and expectantly ask allowing Him to be the One to harness in my lofty dreams if He sees fit.

At what point did I start putting limits on God and on His generosity?

May we become expectant in our faith, following the example of the hemorrhaging woman. Mark 5 depicts that her bold, unashamed faith in Christ is what saved her. She knew deep in her soul not only that Christ could heal her, but that He would heal her. She recognized the authority and power Christ had over all things.

She dared to expect that Christ cared deeply about the struggles she was facing just as He cared about others too. It was this expectant faith that ultimately released her from this cross.

And it is this kind of expectant faith that I want to imitate.

So yeah, as ridiculous as it may seem to ask for a house…ask I’m gonna…knowing that God will act on my prayer in perfect timing. Until then, our little family will snuggle on into basement living and praise the Lord for how much he has blessed us.

The Greatest Lesson I Learned From My Mom

It’s an understatement to say that we’ve learned a thing or two from moms in our lifetime. Maybe it’s our own mother or someone else’s, either way, there are countless lessons these nurturing women have taught us over the years. While some may be long forgotten, others have been burned into our memories forever. Maybe they are silly and of no consequence like the way she taught you to make your bed. Or maybe it’s a piece of timeless advice on how to treat another with love and recognize their dignity. Possibly it’s somewhere in the middle.

Whichever life lesson or silly habits you attribute to your mom, thank God for their beautiful witness to love and constant dedication to their vocation of motherhood.

Among the plethora of wisdom and counsel my mom passed along to me, one thing stands out above all the rest. It’s a simple gesture that can change an entire perspective. Continue reading

Lent Giveaway: Win A Copy of “Rediscover Jesus” & Mystic Monk Coffee

Here we are, just shy of two weeks from Ash Wednesday. Alas, Lent has snuck up on us again!

Now comes the spirit of sacrifice, but as we prepare for this Lent let us remember it isn’t just about giving up candy, coffee or Facebook. It’s about moving beyond our own imperfections and sin and recommitting ourselves to the Lord. It’s about conversion.

The Church has summed this up nicely by encouraging us to redirect ourselves to prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Over the years (at least in my own life) I regret to say that this season has often been watered down to “giving up candy.”

Still every year I recommit myself with a new fervor to truly growing closer to Christ and becoming more of the woman He desires me to be. That being said, I may begin on Ash Wednesday with all sorts of pious ideas and then about ten-ish days later I find myself struggling…doing the bare minimum of what I can and going through the motions.

But not this Lent!

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Our Daughter Turns One (The EPIC Party in GIFs)

Oh my gosh, how time flies…everyone said it would, but you just really don’t understand until you are trying to intricately place sprinkles into the shape of a one on your eldest child’s birthday cake. That’s right…we recently celebrated Johanna’s first birthday party and like all first-time mommies I made sure to take extra time to make this event special.

Johanna does love her brandy.

It began with a vision…

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