Author Archives: Maria

About Maria

Maria and her husband, Jeremy, are a certified natural family planning (NFP) teaching couple through the Couple to Couple League (CCL).

Snow: A Cross or Joy?

Happy New Year! I hope this new year has started off well for everyone.

Last year, our family kicked off the new year with a new hot water heater – the old one having broken the very last day of 2014. A memorable New Year’s that was! Though it was a bit stressful, in the end it was a blessing to finally have hot, not lukewarm, water on a moment’s notice. It’s the little things in life!

Actually, they say the key to happiness in life is pleasure in the little things. Like today, snow is forecast, which means slippery roads and sidewalks, but it is also a call to slow down in every sense of the word. Take time. Don’t rush, not just on the roads and walkways, but in life. Like stopping to smell the roses, stop to watch the snow fall. This is the season of blanketed fields of white, sweaters and hot cocoa. Sure, we may pine for sunshine and breezy summer days, but those are joys for another day.

snowy road in winter

A call to slow down…

There are joys reserved for us every day. Sometimes they are disguised as crosses, as in the case of snow. It is all about perspective.

The following reflection from Day 3 of the 9 Days for Life Novena was offered on a day when praying for those who long for a child, but it applies to many situations:

It can be very difficult and painful when the Lord doesn’t answer our prayers the way we hope. We may have many doubts and questions, wondering why we face the challenges that we do. Yet even though our suffering is often shrouded in a sense of mystery, we believe that the Lord loves us with great tenderness and compassion that is beyond our imagination. Knowing this, we can trust that “all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose” (Rom 8:28).

Whatever your cross is today, we pray that, in this moment as you read this, the Lord will bless you with His peace. May He show you the joy He has reserved for you today. And may we all praise and bless Him for His goodness!

Please consider joining us for the following upcoming events in the Mid-Missouri area:

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Happy Thanksgiving

It is that time of year again!

I love how we have a national holiday to reflect and give thanks for all of our blessings.

I retain mixed emotional memories about Thanksgiving. As a kid, I found it difficult to spend hours at strange relatives’ houses, eating strange food in even stranger shapes and colors, cornered with interrogative questions, and always seeming to elicit a laugh I didn’t understand. But ironically enough, something I always enjoyed was the festive gathering of family from near and far, and the spirit of family. Though it was obvious not everyone always understood one another, love was the bond that brought and kept everyone together.

Coming from a large family has always been among my greatest blessings.

These days, my husband and I are creating new memories and traditions with our own little family. One of my new favorites is attending the Mass on Thanksgiving Day, and offering up special prayers that day. I have found some beautiful Thanksgiving prayers I’d like to share. This year our plan is to pick one to copy out and pray together that day while holding hands and bowing heads, offering thanks to God for all His bountiful gifts. So far, this one is my favorite:

O Gracious God, we give you thanks for your overflowing generosity to us. Thank you for the blessings of the food we eat and especially for this feast today. Thank you for our home and family and friends, especially for the presence of those gathered here. Thank you for our health, our work and our play. Please send help to those who are hungry, alone, sick and suffering war and violence. Open our hearts to your love. We ask your blessing through Christ your son. Amen.

The holidays can be difficult for people for many reasons, but I pray that this Thanksgiving and upcoming Advent be a time of reflection, prayer, and peace in our marriages and families.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Credit: Couple to Couple League, Inc.

Credit: Couple to Couple League, Inc.

NEW Self-Paced Online Course

I am so excited to announce that CCL’s new Self-Paced Online Course is now available!

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Designed with busy couples in mind, this course replaces CCL’s old Home Study course and can be completed in the convenience of your home, at your own pace.

This is an exciting new development for CCL especially as it will potentially meet the need of those couples desiring to learn NFP but unable to physically attend a class, whether it be a scheduling conflict, distance dilemma or a comfort issue. While we always recommend in-person classes as being the best way to learn and to connect and receive support from a teaching couple, sometimes a physical, and even a virtual class, just isn’t possible.

Want more good news? It is only $99! This is an introductory price, and we encourage couples to take advantage of it while available.

Even more good news: course fees for our Live Online and Live Onsite classes have also been reduced. Only $130 each! (Shipping and handling not included.) What a deal! Especially considering that the information gained from learning NFP generally leads couples to a greater understanding and appreciation for each other, which generally leads to healthier choices, which generally leads to healthier lives, which generally leads to healthier families, which generally leads to a healthier Earth. (Whew!)

Each class format has it’s unique benefits, and challenges, but the hope is that couples will find at least one of them to be feasible and affordable, and learning NFP that much easier.

Natural Family Planning: a tool for your health, marriage, family, world. Learn it today!

Laudato Si and NFP

I am only a few pages into Laudato Si, but I am already loving it! Our beloved Pope Francis truly has the heart of St. Francis. He is a poet. He is also challenging me in ways I did not expect.

We have a child with severe food allergies, and from the moment of her diagnosis just about everything in our life changed. There’s nothing like a crisis to instigate change. We had to rethink everything we did, from cooking to bathing and everything in-between. We gained a new vocabulary, learned to decipher nutrition labels, and gained new skills. It took at least a year, if not two, to accumulate an arsenal of new recipes and familiarity with cooking new foods. We removed all allergens from our home, shopped the organic aisle, developed rules about encounters with friends and family, rules about traveling, and in the meantime learned more about natural health. Let me tell you, it was a challenge. Nowadays much of this is routine, but it was a big learning curve.

Reading this encyclical feels kind of like being diagnosed with food allergies again.  We have just been diagnosed with major life changing news, but in this case the diagnosis includes everyone on the planet. Pope Francis, while expounding a bit on the theology of creation and our role as caretakers of our Brother Earth, describes the dire state in which our world lies. We have misused our resources and are placing the planet, and all lives, in jeopardy. He is calling for change and to take responsibilty for the problem. But will others understand his message and the crisis he depicts enough to change?

I recently read an article from the National Catholic Register entitled Birth Control in Drinking Water: A Fertility Catastrophe in the Making? It seemed rather appropriate that it was published around the release of Laudato Si. It cites a recent report by the U. S. Geological Survey (USGS) that has found evidence that some fish have been dramatically affected by excreted birth control hormones contained in drinking water. The effects on the fish included reduced fertility (up to the third generation even when not directly exposed), reduced fertilization rates, impaired embryo survival rates (miscarriage), and the drugs’ ability to “feminize” male fish. Sound familiar? As a NFP teacher perhaps my ears are attuned to the numerous stories of couples who are struggling to conceive or who have suffered from miscarriage. How much of this is due to contaminants in drinking water and food? The USGS study, says the article, “adds to a growing body of evidence that man-made endocrine-disrupting chemicals — those that affect hormone systems and numerous body functions, including conception — are damaging wildlife, wreaking havoc on reproductive, immunological and nervous systems.” But this information is being shrugged off and ignored. Something the Pope warns about in this new encyclical.

Reading both this article and the encyclical reignites my passion for promoting NFP. How can people, especially doctors, justify prescribing birth control (and unnecessary medication in general) when scientific research supports that it negatively impacts wildlife, and ignore the logical respective repercussions for humanity? Especially when NFP is just as effective as a means of regulating birth, if not more so. NFP is not simply a moral and religious question, it is a clear-cut solution to the environmental dilemma our world is facing.

Our family is already familiar with label-reading and organic food, but it needs to be taken to a new level. Now we need to think in terms of how all we do and consume impacts the planet. Everything, from shampoos to detergents to medicine, it all weighs upon our common home, and we have a responsibility to take measures to care for and protect it for all to enjoy. This includes NFP and the need to promote it vigorously. We are one family, and all of our efforts, big and small, make a difference.

I hope you will join us.

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Happy Father’s Day

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Happy Father’s Day!

Fathers are so important. It is easy to forget that, especially in a society torn by divorce and mixed messages about marriage. As a great reminder, Dr. Greg Popcak has listed 15 Reasons Dads Matter. I can personally attest to many of these as I witness them in my own home, especially in regards to language and social development.

Reading (3)Ever since she was a baby, I could always see a positive change and growth in our daughter each time Daddy interacted with her. Her facial expressions and mannerisms have always been different with him than with me. As she has grown older, I can see changes in her speech and vocabulary after each playtime with Daddy. Suddenly, she is a big girl with loads of self-esteem because Daddy, her prince, has spent time with her, even if only a few minutes (of course, the more time the better, but we work with what we have). These are precious development, precious moments for both her and us.

How grateful I am that we have an entire day dedicated to celebrating and honoring fathers! Their presence and support is irreplaceable.

On behalf of all of us at Mid-MO NFP, I’d like to wish a special day to all fathers, natural and spiritual, those who are with us and those who have gone before us, to those whose children are in heaven, and especially our NFP dads. Your loving support, protection, guidance, and witness mirror the love of our heavenly Father. May He bless you for it and all the sacrifices you make in service of Him and your families. We pray especially for our spiritual fathers, our priests, pastors, brothers, whom we also honor and thank today for their ministry to us. May God bless you all!

NFP Family Potluck June 28th

potluckpic6-28-15Summer time is here again! Well, okay, not officially until Sunday, but you know what I mean.

It’s time for our annual NFP Family Potluck! I know, weekend plans get booked way ahead for some families, but we hope you can squeeze this into the agenda. There’s always room for good food and fellowship, right? 😉

This year the event will be held  Sunday, June 28th, at Schaefer Pavilion, which is just outside Jefferson City (3108 Cedar Bend Rd.). Dinner will be from 11:30 AM – 1:30 PM. Some of us will also be attending the first Mass of Thanksgiving by newly ordained Fr. Geoff Brooks at Immaculate Conception at 2:00 PM. Feel free to join in either/both celebrations.

Note: Due to food allergies, we ask that you do not bring finger foods that contain milk, eggs or nuts.

We hope to see you there!