Category Archives: Personal Experiences

How much do we waste?

this trash wanted to go in a can, but the can ...

this trash wanted to go in a can, but the can was too full, so it’s waiting for the next one (Photo credit: purplepix)

When a new neighbor moved into my neighborhood a few years ago, his first reaction to my brood of four kids was: “Oh…my…when we were having kids, it was all about ‘zero population growth.'”

NFP and big families are linked in the minds of the public, and this is one of the major hurdles we face in promoting NFP. Whatever your opinions on environmental policy, you can’t argue that we are called to be good stewards of creation: not using more than we consume, protecting the earth for future generations to enjoy.

In fact, as NFP users, you could say we have an even greater responsibility to be careful of how we use the earth simply because we often do choose to have more children than the “norm,” and that lays us open to criticism about our use of resources.

Sometimes we defend our choices based on the principle that more immortal souls can never a bad thing. While that’s true, I don’t think it’s the most effective response.

This article caught my eye this morning: Humans on course to triple waste by 2100. I am constantly appalled by the amount of trash I see on the curb in my neighborhood every week. I don’t understand how people who are at home a quarter of the time we are can generate five times as much trash. I think our best defense is to show by the way we live our lives and the way we teach our children to live their lives that a family of six or eight can actually have a significantly lower carbon footprint than a family of three or four. Because once we live it, we demonstrate that “bigger” doesn’t necessarily equal “more.”

What about you? What do you do to reduce waste and consumption in your families?

Sharing the Journey: Natural Parenting

Note: The views expressed in this post are personal in nature and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Couple to Couple League, Inc.

This post marks the beginning of a new series, Sharing the Journey, in which I and fellow NFP families will occasionally share about our own life experiences. They may deal directly with the use of NFP in our spousal relationships and planning our families, but probably more often than not we’ll talk about the indirect ways our uses of NFP influence our lives.

I consider myself a spontaneous organizer. Yes, that is basically an oxymoron. I am a conflicted person. My living and working space HAS to be organized otherwise I grow increasingly anxious and eventually break down or blow up, as my dear husband can tell you. However, I also enjoy changing things up (hence my constant rearranging of furniture), or deciding to go somewhere or do something at the last minute. Sometimes one attribute overwhelms the other, like when I suddenly decide to go somewhere only to realize I forgot to look up the directions beforehand and thus have absolutely no idea how to get there. True story, multiple times over.

Knowing this about myself, particularly the driving-without-directions tendency, when we found out we were expecting I threw myself into organizing mode, like big time. The funny thing is that despite growing up around babies and children, babysitting, and STUDYING child and family development as a major in college, no less, I suddenly forgot every single thing I ever knew and felt sure I did not know enough to subsist outside of the hospital. I began grabbing every parenting book I could get my hands on and scheduled Jeremy and me up for the entire series of child preparation classes the hospital provided. Still, when the day came for our scheduled C-section (how can you get more organized than planning the actual birth day, I’d like to know, though that wasn’t the intention), I felt so inadequate. I kept praying and chose to trust that God would guide us. And He has.

Soon after bringing our daughter home, I finally got my hands on a copy of the Sears’ Attachment Parenting book. I am not exaggerating when I say it changed everything, our whole approach to parenting. There were two other books that were also pivotal (Breastfeeding and Catholic Motherhood and Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing, both by Sheila Kippley), but for some reason the Sears’ book really hit home. I learned that by following a few basic guidelines and allowing my mothering instinct to guide me in responding to our baby’s cues, everything would fall into place and the result would be a healthy, happy baby and family. The continually unfolding story of our lives is telling me that this is happening.

So, we threw all those modern ideas I had been reading about out the window and began simply listening and responding to our baby’s cues instead. It could not have been simpler! For example, before reading the section about sleep, we had tried getting up for night feedings and laying her in the bassinet by herself to sleep. When I read about co-sleeping, however, it seemed to directly meet the communicated need to be closer to us, through the long, dark night, and it solved our sleep deprivation problem. Thus, I morphed from Zombie-Mom to Happily-Adjusting-Mother-of-a-Newborn, which is a more pleasant state of existence for all involved. Then also, reading the section about babywearing and all the benefits of keeping baby close was so insightful and made so much sense!  She seemed so much happier close to our hearts, and to the sound she had heard for nine months, and then as she grew it was apparent she was benefiting from all of the constant interacting with us. And of course there was breastfeeding. I had already decided to exclusively breastfeed, but it was so reassuring to be reaffirmed in the practice of pacifying her at the breast, breastfeeding when she indicated a desire and not according to a schedule, and that in fact it meets not only nutritional needs but also a very essential emotional one as well. These are just a few out of the many experiences we have had.

All of these things made sense to use because of our practice of NFP. By charting my body’s naturally-occurring physiological changes, I have come to believe and trust in my body. I understand how it works and appreciate its natural design, its intricate workings so delicately balanced and set in motion. I know that it is the way it is for a reason. All I have to do is pay attention and then respond to my natural cues, which is precisely what natural parenting is: paying attention to my child’s natural cues and responding appropriately and lovingly.

The more I learn about NFP, natural parenting, or just nature in general, I am reaffirmed in the belief that God created me and all creation with a plan and purpose. He not only made it so that the deepest, most intimate act of love, the marital embrace, is life-creating, resulting in a totally new and unique human being (love with a name), but He also gives us everything we need to care for our families. One “proof” for me of all this is our daughter. She not only is a pure gift to Jeremy and me, a fruit of our married love, but the efforts of natural parenting has been a happy, healthy, well-adjusted little girl.

Yes, she is this happy all the time!

Yes, she is this happy all the time!

When the time comes, I hope you find the key to the world of natural parenting and discover that you have all the tools and skills you need to build strong bonds with your spouse and children, and a strong, harmonious family life. May God bless you on your journey!

Humor & NFP: A Personal Experience

Disclaimer: Some descriptors of cervical mucus are used within this post. Perhaps this story is only really funny for those who use NFP and are familiar with checking cervical mucus on a daily basis. For the squeamish and weak-stomached, you have been warned: proceed to read at your own risk! 🙂

Those who use NFP may have had this experience: that of finding we know more than our doctors do about our reproductive cycle. No kidding. What students learn in CCL’s Main Course Series is more than just about any student will learn from medical school. Thus, we usually become educators, informing doctors of the use and efficacy of natural family planning and surprising them with our knowledge and insight into our own cycles. Sometimes, too, the educating is done with a bit of humor. Read below for one NFP-user’s recent humorous experience with her OB/GYN.

The Story
Let me begin by saying that I am unusually close with my doctor. My husband is a serviceman. While I was pregnant, after finding that we were both a little more stressed than usual about the coming baby and our life situation he said, “You have to pray and trust in God. I’ll pray for you too.” Later, after our daughter was born and my husband was deployed overseas, I found a second suspicious lump in my breast. My doctor called to give me his cell phone number and told me that my daughter and I would be coming to dinner at his house at least once a week if the lump turned out to be cancerous.

My OB/GYN is a University teaching doctor and so he almost always has medical students accompanying him. Though he is not NFP-only, at every visit he tells the student, “NFP is different than the Rhythm method. I have never had a patient who has actually taken the NFP classes come in here and tell me they accidentally got pregnant.” This past week, he said the same thing to his student, but she also learned a little bit more about fertility and the sympto-thermal method.

This week was my annual well-woman check-up. My doctor asked if the student could do the pap smear as she had never done one before, and I agreed as I trust his judgement. However, pretty quickly she made it clear that she wasn’t comfortable with this exam, and my doctor took over. At that point he said, “This is a LOT of mucus! Where are you in your cycle?”

I really thought this was hysterical and replied, “Oh, I’m probably ovulating in the next day or two. I knew you were supposed to avoid coming to these appointments while on your period, but nobody ever said anything about ovulation!”

“I bet you have mucus that could stretch across the room!” he said, and he showed what he meant to the student, who was clearly very seriously fascinated. It became clear that this student had never seen fertile mucus, probably because 95% of their patients are on birth control or pregnant, and I suppose the likelihood that any woman out of that last 5% happen to show up while they’re ovulating is fairly slim. The student even said as she left, “Thank you for coming today! It was so nice to meet you!”

The situation may sound a little awkward, but at the time it really was hilarious.  Though he is not NFP-only and supports the use of birth control, I think the relationship I have with my doctor is unique enough to keep us there. I also feel the “learning experience” his students receive might entice them to learn more about the benefits and possibilities of NFP and is itself a good reason for visiting this clinic!

To the Inexperienced, Some Explanations
When the doctor described her mucus as able to stretch across the room, he was exaggerating of course. When ovulation is approaching, there can be so much cervical mucus that it feels like a menstrual bleed and soak the underwear. This type of mucus can also be described as “stretchy.” Cervical mucus changes in response to the change in the estrogen hormone, which is always present throughout a woman’s cycle but fluctuates at certain times and so gives a clue as to where in a cycle a woman is at. Thus, our storyteller knew that, based on the type and quantity of mucus (through charting), she knew she would be ovulating within a day or two.

Conversely, when a woman is using a form of birth control and suppressing her reproductive cycle, the synthetic hormones or device used interferes with the woman’s natural hormones and so cervical mucus is not what it would be at its natural state. Thus, many women do not have this experience of abundant “fertile” cervical mucus, which is why both the doctor and medical student were surprised by this experience as well.

Do You Have a Story to Share?

If you have a story, of any sort, that you would like to share regarding your experiences with NFP in some way, shape or form, let me know (preferably by email)! If appropriate for the blog, I can submit anonymously, like the one above. Sharing experiences can be so helpful, especially in bringing together the NFP community and supporting each other along the journey.


Underage Dating: The Elephant in the Social Conservative Living-Room

This is an extremely good, eye-opening article by Bryana Johnson with the College Conservative regarding underage dating, “the cancer of broken marriages and failed relationships,” and how it sets children up for divorce. Here is an excerpt:

“The trouble with underage dating is that it presents an entirely faulty view of what interaction with the opposite gender should be about. Rather than placing emphasis on building one strong relationship with one person at a stage of life when a marital commitment is feasible, dating encourages young people to pour their energies into consistently seducing other young people at a time when neither of them are capable of making any long-term commitments. Their “relationships” are destined to fail from the get-go because they are founded on unhealthy perceptions of love and not backed by any real necessity to stick it out.”

This is just an excerpt; it is all really, really good!

Meet the Reinkemeyers


Deacon Bob and Lisa Reinkemeyer met at University of Missouri-Rolla (now Missouri S&T) and were married in 1986. Bob’s work moved to Sedalia in 2000, so they bought a small hobby farm and joined the Tipton Parish. They have six boys (yes – all boys!) and two in heaven (miscarriages).  After one miscarriage, they were blessed with two successive pregnancies, and it was then that they decided to embrace CCL’s sympto-thermal method over the Billings and barrier methods. “We were strongly challenged to do this by our devotion to Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body and his teachings on marital love.” They were then able to space their children 3-4 years apart. Under the promptings of the Holy Spirit, the intercession of Padre Pio and St Gianna, and assistance from a Creighton counselor, Lisa was able to give birth to their last two sons, even after doctors advised the use of contraception. “All of the boys have been such a blessing, each unique and a real joy.”

The drive to faithfully live the teachings of the Church led them to devote many years to parish faith formation, and more recently to the call of the diaconate and the role as a CCL teaching couple. With the three oldest active in their life’s vocations and the youngest a teenager, the soon-to-be empty-nesters said they are looking forward to completing their CCL certification and “helping to broaden the awareness of NFP and importance of marriage preparation throughout the local church. We think NFP is the cornerstone of every good marriage based on the love of Christ.”

Lisa and Bob have much personal experience and wisdom to offer couples. Together, they have faced many challenges, from child-rearing to medical complications, including menopause, cystitis, endometriosis, and severe fibroids. “We want couples to know that there is joy and hope! Pharmaceuticals are not necessarily the first or best solution. CCL is a perfect tool for couples to ‘know’ each other in the biblical sense, the fullest sense of the Word and Covenant. ‘Here I am to know, to love, to serve. I am yours, you are mine, unconditionally.'” They firmly believe that this spirituality is the core truth for every vocation. The spiritual basis of CCL drew them to the method, and the sympto-thermal charting helped them recognize the physical aspects, leading them toward better health. “It is an especially good supplement for those young women or married couples that experience reproductive difficulties along the way.” They look forward to the day when all women are encouraged by their physicians to use NFP in helping them obtain true reproductive health, rather than contraceptives which damage the body and society. “We are hopeful that more couples will commit to simpler, more natural lifestyles. Science and faith, morality and logic embrace the true meaning of covenant love in NFP.”

Meet Mark and Chelle Smith-Vandergriff, CCL Teaching Couple!

DSC_0022 for cd

We both attended Benedicitine College and graduated in 2007. We are both still very proud of our alma mater – Go Ravens! Mark got a BA in Religious Studies and played football, and I majored in Religious Studies, Youth Ministry, and Psychology. It was at Benedictine that we discovered NFP, were introduced to the CCL, and began our family. We have been committed to the CCL ever since. After graduating, we moved to Jefferson City with our oldest child, William. In six short years we welcomed Ava, Olivia, an Isabella into our lives. Life is chaotic at times, but always full of faith, family, and fun.

Meet the Hensons, CCL Teaching Couple!

Henson's-Easter 2012

Meet Jeremy and Maria Henson.  They have been married since 2007 and have one daughter, Cari Bernadette.  Jeremy graduated from Truman State University with a psychology degree and works in the financial aid field at Columbia College. He enjoys reading, studying Church history, and everything sports-related.  Maria studied Child and Family Development at Missouri State University and is enjoying learning the art of homemaking, including cooking, sewing and gardening.  They were certified as a CCL teaching couple in April 2012 and are excited about sharing the good news of NFP with other couples.

Meet Kate and Christian Basi, CCL Teaching Couple

Kate and Christian Basi

Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s…….. now wait a minute, who made THAT mess!

Christian and Kate Basi met in the choir at the Newman Center in Columbia in 1995. He proposed to her in front of God and everyone three years later, after Communion at Sunday Mass–and people still stop them in the store to say “I was there when you got engaged!” 

Following a three-year battle with infertility, the kids arrived in quick succession. These days Christian and Kate head up a family of unconventional superheroes: four kids who can reduce people to piles of goo just by batting their big brown eyes, who can yell talk 24/7 without rest and always require a response, who can wrap the hardest-hearted grump around their cute little fingers, and whose imaginations know no bounds. 

In “real life,” Christian works at the university, and Kate is a freelance writer who works from home, surrounded by chaos cute kids. The Basis moonlight as superhero parents by fixing toys no matter how many times they break, finding everything the kids lose (well, almost everything), playing music for weddings, teaching music lessons, leading a church choir, advocating for special needs, and oh yes, by teaching NFP in their oh-so-ample spare time. 

Basi Avengers! ASSEMBLE!!!!

(Yes, we are this cheesy in real life. That’s what makes us such fun NFP teachers. 🙂 )

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