Celebrating all the Saints (the long version;-)



I think it's easy, clicking around on the web, to get the idea that Catholic families are feasting almost all the time. It seems there is a "special" day weekly, if not more often. In reality, most families observe just a handful of days that are important in their particular homes. True, there are feast days and memorials nearly every day and we pray them with the Universal Church. But the cake and the finery? In most families, those are the exceptional days.

Many of our exceptional saints' celebrations are tied to our  name days or birthdays (or both). It's as if the feast finds us and is forever ours. So it is with All Saints Day. Beyond observing All Saints Day as a Holy Day of Obligation, the day really never stood out for me. I'm not a big fan of Halloween. (This isn't any kind of moral indictment. I dislike talking to strangers and I was never all that fond of candy. Dressing in a costume to ring doorbells and ask for candy was a nightmare of epic proportions to me as a child. And I've never really gotten into it as an adult, either, though it's more fun to dress my children than it was to dress myself.) All Saints Day was sort of The Day after Halloween for a long time. It was a day of incessant battles over the candy and dealing with fallout from sugar fatigue.


Then there was my Year of the Saints. That was the year that Sarah Annie came into our lives. All sorts of saints found us that year. And they found their way into my prayer book. I got to know them, to appreciate them, to love them. Some of them, we celebrate on their own feasts, but the others, well, they introduced me to All Saints Day. And like so many unbelievable blessings in my life, they came to me in a hospital bed.

The night that Sarah Anne was born began early in the morning, just a few ticks past midnight. I remember staring at the puddle of blood and thinking, "I hate Halloween. Can't we possibly wait?" Um, no. But then, there were the hospital miracles and what looked like a crash delivery in the wee hours turned into a peaceful delivery well into the vigil of All Saints. I delivered right at trick-or-treat time. And as soon as I was sure I was alive, I started planning a party. That was last year: Sarah Anne's first birthday.

All Saints Day was on a Sunday last year and fit right in with my party plans. And as soon as I swept up the mess and wrapped the last of the cake, I wondered what to do with her birthday this year. I didn't want to share it with Halloween. I didn't know how to meld it to All Saints Day.

Care to hop down a rabbit trail with me?

I had a very recent conversation with a friend. She commented that in my daybook this week, I had a Julian of Norwich quote and a picture of Sarah Anne with Nutella. She said how cool that was, what with the hazelnut being a symbol of Blessed Julian and all. I wish I could claim such seamless ingenuity, but this was all news to me. So I did a little research.

In her book Showing of Love, Julian of Norwich writes about how God showed her the magnitude of His love:

And in this he showed me a little thing, the quantity of a hazelnut , lying in the palm of my hand, as it seemed. And it was as round as any ball. I looked upon it with the eye of my understanding, and thought, 'What may this be?' And it was answered generally thus, "It is all that is made."' I marvelled how it might last, for I thought it might suddenly have fallen to nought for littleness. And I was answered in my understanding:It lasts and ever shall for God loves it  And so have all things their beginning by the love of God.

       In this little thing I saw three properties. The first is that God made it. The second that he loves it. And the third, that God keeps it. But what is this to me? Truly, the Creator, the Keeper, the Lover. For until I am substantially oned to him, I may never have full rest nor true bliss. That is to say, until I be so fastened to him that there is nothing that is made between my God and me.

      This little thing that is made, I thought it might have fallen to nought for littleness. Of this we need to have knowledge that it is like to nought, all things that are made. For to love and have God that is unmade.

      For this is the cause why we are not at ease in heart and soul, for we seek rest here, in this thing that is so little where there is no rest, and knowing not our God who is all mighty, all wise and all good. For he is true rest. God will be known, and he likes us to rest in him. For all that is beneath him cannot suffice us. And this is the cause why no soul is rested, until it is noughted of all that is made. And when he wills to be noughted for love, to have him who is all, then he is able to receive spiritual rest.



In the same coversation, but on an entirely different tangent, my friend and I talked about those wooden saints dolls that we've come love so in this house. We call that basket the "All My Saints basket." And then it hit me. I had already established an All Saints tradition. Just like Michael always has a Devil's Food cake (spiked heavily with Kahlua) on his Michaelmas Birthday and Patrick has angel food cake on his Guardian Angel Birthday, Sarah Anne will continue to have a hazelnut cake with all her saints. We'll do it again. And again. We already know she's a hazelnut fan. A tradition is born.



So there's the dessert part. Recipe at the end of the mega post.

To prepare for the feast, we'll pray the litany of All Saints, beginning October 23 (which is happily Mary Beth's birthday). The litany is quite long. You can find it here. This is an ambitious prayer undertaking for a family with lots of small children, but we'll give it a go and see where it leads. That litany will be follwed by this novena prayer:

My heavenly brothers and sisters, from those most renowned to those of greatest obscurity, I come before you now in all humility and commend myself, and all who are dear to me, to your intercession.

Pray for us always, that we may awake each day with a burning desire for the Lord whose Face you behold, that we will maintain an intimate personal relationship with Jesus, our Savior and Head, and that we will not hesitate to proclaim God’s greatness to others, and love them as the Lord loves us.

As you offer your continual praise before the throne of God,   I raise my heart to you now to implore your powerful intercession for these special needs:  (………).

I am confident that your prayers on our behalf will be graciously heard by our loving and merciful Lord.  By his grace, may we someday join you in the glory of the Father’s house.

If necessary, we can do the litany at one time and the novena at another.


Our family icon wall has lots of saints on it and the children all have icons of their name saints in their rooms. Usually, I put the saint of the feast on the desk in front of the wall, like it is above, pictured on the Feast of St. Therese. I think for the Feast of All Saints, I'm going to gather them from all over the house, open the desk and prop them all up there. Then, we'll take all the statues and put them on the nearby piano (we may need to temporarily move the Emmy to make room.)

So that's the plan. The Novena Starts Saturday, on Mary Beth's birthday, and finishes on October 31st, Sarah Anne's birthday. I love it when things work out just so!

This recipe came to me from Stephen's Godmother, who is an extraordinary baker. Anything less than extraordinary in this version is my embellishment, but I can't remember what's mine and what's hers.

Hazelnut Cake
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon Frangelico (I used more, probably a Tablespoon or so.)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cup sifted cake flour
3/4 cup hazelnut flour (get from Trader Joe's)
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
12 TBSP (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter (or use regular butter and omit the salt), SOFTENED

•     Trace your 9" round springform pan onto parchment or waxed paper & cut it out. Grease pan, put in paper, then grease and flour.
•     In a medium bowl lightly combine the eggs, 1/4 of the sour cream, and the extract.
•     In a large mixing bowl combine the dry ingredients and mix on low speed for 30 seconds to blend. Add the butter and remaining sour cream. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Increase to medium speed (high speed if using a hand mixer) and beat for 1 1/2 minutes to aerate and develop the cake's structure. Scrape down the sides. Gradually add the egg mixture in 3 batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure. Scrape down the sides.
•     Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface with a spatula. Bake 35 to 45 minutes or until a wire cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center. The cake should start to shrink from the sides of the pan only after removal from the oven.
•     Let the cake cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Loosen the sides with a small metal spatula and unmold or remove the sides of the springform pan. Allow to cool completely before wrapping airtight.

I made four times this recipe to make a 12 inch, two layer cake.


The filling was chocolate ganache. You can also use raspberry jam and chocolate ganache. Mike doesn't like fruit with his chocolate, so we don't mess with jam. BUt if you're jam fan, just spread a thin layer of seedless raspberry jam on the bottom layer. Make the ganache by heating whipping cream almost to boiling, then adding an equal volume of chocolate (I used Trader Joe's brand chips) and stirring until melted (1/2 cup each is probably enough for one cake, but if you make more and it's too much, it freezes well--or you can eat it plain the next day; that's what we do!). When the ganache is cool enough (it thickens a bit as it cools), spread or drizzle it over the jam and refrigerate a bit before putting on the top layer. Alternatively, spread Nutella (hazelnut/chocolate spread) between the layers.

French Buttercream Frosting

So worth the effort!

It is rich rather than sweet. It sounds like a lot of work, but it really just takes planning. Do the cooking part in the morning and the beating part at a later, convenient time. One batch makes about two cups, enough to cover the 9" cake. 2 batches covers the 12" cake to a substantive thickness.

French Buttercream
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
3/4 cup milk (any kind)
2 sticks of butter--one salted and one unsalted
1 tsp vanilla or Frangelico (hazelnut liquer) I used WAYYY more Frangelico, to taste

•     Combine sugar and flour in saucepan.
•     Stir in milk. Cook over medium heat and stir constantly with a whisk until very thick. Remove from heat and pour into your mixing bowl. Cool to room temp (I cover w/ waxed paper).
•     Cut butter into several pieces and add to mixer as it's beating. Add vanilla or Frangelico. Beat at medium-high speed until smooth. It will be scary if you watch to closely, because it will appear to curdle and you'll think it will never get smooth--don't worry! Check for smoothness by tasting--it's the only way to detect butter lumps.
•     This icing is soft, so spread soon after mixing. Cake should be stored in fridge if made in advance, but take it out at least two hours before serving or the icing will be as hard as ... butter. :-)

Grateful for Hazy Clarity

The reason that we are not fully at ease in heart and soul is because we seek rest in these things that are so little and have no rest within them, and pay no attention to our God, who is Almighty, All-wise, All-good, and the only real rest. ~Blessed Julian of Norwich

I sit this morning in the unexpected quiet and wonder when it was that I last fully felt at rest. In my mind, I replay my adult life. Was it early in my marriage? No, a difficult job and a first pregnancy troubled me that whole first year. Was it the first year I was a mother? No, I spent that year frantically trying to figure out motherhood, flitting to and fro, book to book, having endless conversation with friends who were also new mothers. And so it has gone, year after year, always something to learn, always someone to consult as I seek to figure it all out.

The explosion of the internet fed the noise in my brain. As I found more and more information, more and more communication, I lost more and more rest. Literally. How many times have I sat here in front of this screen, when really I would have been better off praying myself to sleep?

There's just so much to know! There are just so many people from which to learn! It's such a big, big world. And now it's all right here at my fingertips. Conversation. Discussion. Debate. It's all so interesting.

The closest I have ever come to being fully at ease was the last few weeks of bedrest. Though I was anxious regarding birth, I was not anxious about the other aspects of my life. In order to preserve and pursue my peace, I had winnowed my contact with the world to a very tight circle of friends whom I knew would keep directing me towards Him. Of course, I had none of the "outside world" with which to contend because I never left home. But even at home, I was careful to preserve peace and to preserve interior stillness often enough to hear the Lord.

Even now, I relive the day Sarah was born. Sometimes, I am fully awake. More often, I am half asleep. I remember the ride to the hospital. I remember I tried to make one phone call to one friend. She didn't hear the ringing. She never picked up. And then, it was just Mike and God. There was silence around us as we drove through the countryside in the dark of that autumn night. The midwife on call called about halfway there. She was frantic. No peace there. Just Mike and God. All that blood. Life and death. And absolutely nothing left to say.  Peace settled as night turned to day. Grace was palpable. I couldn't have asked for more.

I settled into a room and continued to wait to see how God would write this chapter. The thing is, I can't remember the phone calls. I know I talked to people that day and I know I asked for prayers but I absolutely cannot remember the conversations. I remember Michael coming in with a dozen roses and I remember thinking how Kimberlee and Molly would so approve of his choice of flowers. I know he stayed a long time; he missed classes and training. But I don't remember a word he said.

I can't remember the conversations. I can only remember the grace.

I do remember the doctor. In my memory, she shone. Very strange. I was sure she was one of God's great gifts. But I'd never met her before that day. Never had a conversation. And really, she talked and I listened. Not much conversation there. And the midwife with whom I'd had all those careful conversations, nurtured that precious friendship over all those years and all those babies? She was out of town. Never did she suspect I'd deliver so early and she'd miss it. No. It wasn't in the conversations of the day that I found rest. Not at all. It was in the willingness to relinquish my will in order to know His. I stopped seeking. Stopped asking. Stopped looking to other women to shed light on this matter or that. For that space of time, I saw the things that were little and I was embraced by something much bigger.

Have mentioned yet how grateful I am for the hazy clarity of the memory of Sarah's birth?

That's #20 on the gratitude list.

Here Comes the Sun


It started September 23rd. That was the first day of bedrest. For six weeks, I was confined to my house, my room, my bed. And then, there was a baby. And I was confined to the hospital, to the well-worn path to the NICU. We brought that sweet baby home. And the doctor said solemnly, "Keep her inside, away from crowds, and out of public places until the end of flu season. Probably late March." I tried not to cry. I reminded myself that I am an introvert, a homebody. I got to know the extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist. I counted my blessings and there were many.

But, slowly, I started to feel it creep in. The cold. The loneliness. My walls grew closer around me. The baby fussed. The big kids acted needier than the baby. I resolutely told myself a hundred times a day that this was not postpartum depression. We hit rock bottom.

A Package arrived in the mail. A lovely Package. A Package that made me smile to see the name in the sender's corner and brought tears to my eyes when I saw what it contained. It was a hat and booties--a darling hat that fit just perfectly. A hat with sweet hearts over baby's ears. Ah, but I sighed. We never go anywhere. And an urgent need made itself known. I had to get out of this house with the baby. I had to go somewhere worthy of The Hat.

Yesterday was one of my top five worst homeschooling days ever. And I can't even think of what the other four are. As I went to sleep last night, I remembered The Hat. I told Mike that I was taking the children to Bull Run. Bull Run--Home of the Bluebells--is the place where we go every year to herald the spring. It's the place where I am happy and relaxed and content just to be. It's our springtime. Gently, the love of my life reminded me that it is still February. Doesn't matter. I have The Hat. I had to be at Bull Run.

The day dawned a bit gray and windy, but not all that cold. The forecast was for rain by noon. No bother. I was up early. I had The Hat. I told the children the plan. Nicholas balked. He doesn't like rain. It's not a typical "not like," --it's sort  of a "thing" with him. It's a really big deal "not like."  I wasn't going to fight it. I told him he could stay home with Patrick. Christian had to go to art.No matter. This wasn't about them. It was about me. And my baby. And my place. And the Hat.

We took the familiar road and parked at a familiar place. We hiked in to "our spot," all the while noting how gray it all seemed. The landscape had changed. The log I posed the children on every year had  decayed to a point where no one could sit there. Right next to it, however, a new tree had fallen--bigger and sturdier and longer. "Just perfect," Katie declared. "There are too many of us now for the old log anyway."

Several trees had fallen. The top of their favorite climbing tree was now laying across the river. I thought of those windstorms last month, the tree that fell and claimed the life of a beloved pastor. I heard trees creaking around me and branches snapping in the not too distant distance. Good thing Nicholas stayed home, after all; he would not have enjoyed this time at all. We tried mightily to find signs of spring. There were a few small buds and some tiny shoots, no signs of the bluebells yet, though.

I snuggled my sleeping baby (she sleeps?) and breathed deeply of the fresh air. Oh! how this place speaks to me, even in its grayness. I thought of how much I missed it last fall, when the leaves were changing color, and my only glimpse of fall came in my inbox through the kindness of a friend's photos. I remembered my long talks with God and how begged him to grant me many springtimes to hang out with my children in the woods. I thought about how much I wanted to walk that trail with this baby. I breathed gratitude. And hope.

I just sat there, nibbled on pistachios, and watched the delight of my two-year-old as she saw this place anew.   Marveling at the familiarity and the changes, I understood that this place is ever old and ever new. My children looked different to me in the natural light. They were sweet and innocent and silly and fun. The baby slept soundly on my chest, warm and loved beneath The Hat. My head cleared. My shoulders relaxed. I had faith that I could get safely to the end of winter and reach confidently for the holiness of spring. Recalling that God has written two books, Scripture and nature, I resolved to read them both this Lent as my soul stretches and my face turns towards the Son.

Lessons Learned

I've had writer's block lately. Not my ordinary writer's block, but some kind of strange variation. I can think of all kinds of things to write, but I have no time at the keyboard to give them voice.And then, on those rare occasions when I do have some time and all my conditions for allowing myself time at the computer are met, it either doesn't seem worth saying or it would take too much time to write in the time allotted. But this post has been bubbling for months. I promised Stephen's godfather, Bill, that I would write about lessons learned during bedrest. I saw Bill at the shrine Christmas Eve and remembered that I'd yet to make good on my promise. Bill is a 50-year-old bachelor who goes survival camping in Alaska for fun. I'm not sure what he can take from the experiences of a 42-year-old pregnant woman trying to care for 8 children from bed, but I'll give it a shot. Because I promised, and this seems like a good time of year to review lessons learned.

  • I learned who my friends are. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, God gave me the grace of knowing and understanding true friendship. This was an answer to a very explicit prayer and I'm grateful for the clarity. From those friends, near and far, I learned how to "visit the sick." I learned so many ways to care and to comfort and to be supportive. I'd list them here, but I'm afraid I'd forget even one and hurt someone's feelings. If ever you want ideas for how to love someone who is homebound or sick for a long stretch of time, email me. I'll send you a long list.
  • I learned to ask for help. Well, not really. But I did learn not to turn it down if it's offered. Progress, I think.
  • I learned how important prayer support is. When someone asks me to pray for them, I take the request seriously. I learned how much comfort and peace I found in knowing people were praying. Now, I offer the efficacious novena to the Sacred Heart daily for the intentions of everyone who has asked my prayers and then, if someone comes to mind or there is an urgent need, I pray a St. Anne chaplet as soon as humanly possible (this is often a middle of the night prayer).
  • I learned a whole lot about marriage. Some of it I wrote about before, much of it I'll hold (and treasure) in my heart. I've seen God do great things over time and I've seen Him do more than I ever asked in a short time. God is awesome!
  • I learned I have limitations. This one is tricky. It's not that I didn't know I had limitations before bedrest, it's just that I always figured that if I pushed myself harder or worked longer, I'd get past that limitation and on to the next boundary.Furthermore, I thought it was in my best interest and the best interest of those around me to push. Somewhere along the way, I had learned to equate performance and productivity with "goodness" or even holiness. When on bedrest, my world became very small and my activity very limited. I went to sleep at the same time every night. I woke at the same time every morning (both sleeping and waking were keyed to the medication dosage schedule, but it's still a relevant point). I never even considered pushing past those "hard stops" because I had too much respect for the physical burden I was bearing. My baby's life was at stake; I wasn't going to try to outsmart Mother Nature. How often--even very recently--have I forgotten the limitation lesson? There are only 24 hours in a day. It is stupid (and I use the word very intentionally) to try to do more than 24 hours worth of work. It is stupid to spend too much of those 24 hours on things that don't bring me closer to heaven. We don't know the hour or the moment. God doesn't grant grace in proportion to our productivity or our "perfection."
  • I learned that conversation means more to me than documentation. This came as a bit of a surprise. You know how sometimes you wonder "If I were going to die in three months, how would I spend this time?" Well, there was a chance I'd die in childbirth. If I'd had acretta, statistically, the chance was as good as the chance I'd have died from cancer all those many years ago. I thought that I'd write for my kids, organize pictures and memories, leave a printed legacy. Instead, I talked to them. Listened to them. And spent an extraordinary amount of time praying for them.  I wasn't maudlin and I wasn't obsessed or even convinced my days were numbered, but I did get a good glimpse of what and who really mattered to me and I'm grateful for the insight.
  • I learned that labor isn't what I thought it was at all. I used to teach childbirth classes. I had seven unmedicated deliveries, including a VBAC. I can't count the times I've said that natural birth is empowering. Really, it's not. God has all the power. If we think birth is empowering, we're really kidding ourselves. We have no power of our own--He has it all and we only work with Him or against Him. I learned that we have no control. God is so totally in control of birthing experiences. We can choose our medical personnel and we can even choose where we'd most like to deliver, but He writes the story. It seemed that every time I went to see the midwife, I became more powerless. I know that some women will write and tell me that I had the wrong midwife or I need to learn to be more assertive or that homebirthing is a viable option to avoid unnecessary intervention or that I needed to be less willing to listen to people in white coats. And I would tell them that I once thought that way, too. But now I understand that "stuff happens" when women are pregnant. And often, that stuff is serious and out of their control. The people in white coats are often our greatest advocates and often they are the difference between a healthy mom and baby and a very bad outcome. I learned to listen in humility, even though I'd birthed more babies myself than all of them put together and even though I thought I knew my body well.Sometimes, handing over all illusion of control is really a greater skill than learning how to "manage" labor without drugs or "manipulate" the medical community.Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to do nothing--but trust.
  • I learned that you absolutely cannot expect your children will behave a certain way if you are not right there seeing that they do. Whether this involves how they use their time (television, computer, Xbox) or how they do (or don't do) their chores, children need close and careful supervision. Mothering in my house is a very active undertaking. A whole lot of bad habits took root because Mom couldn't see what was going on. January will become "habit month" in a big way.
  • I learned that children love it when Mommy is still, when they can find her and know that if they climb up next to her, she'll stay right there and hold them. If they're really big, the same holds true. They sit next to her, and if she doesn't move, pretty soon they start talking. When Colleen solicited advice for me at the beginning of bedrest, I read through all the comments. Tears sprung to my eyes when I discovered one left by Laurel, a friend from college. Of all the commenters, Laurel was the only one who'd ever lived with me and Laurel was the only one who'd been around for my last life-threatening experience. And so she's the only one who saw firsthand my tendency towards frantic, perpetual activity, a tendency that's only become more pronounced as my workload has increased. I haven't seen Laurel in years. She's been off in exciting places being the diplomat's wife and Mommy to three little people. But it was Laurel who said,"May this somehow end up being a gift ... maybe of stillness!!"  In all those years since Laurel and I were housemates, I'd never once been truly still.And it was exactly as she thought it might be: a gift of stillness. There's so much to that. If we are truly comfortable in our own skin, we can be still. If we are cooperating with our friends and colleagues and not competing with them, we can be still.If we are open to our husbands and children, we can be still.  And if we are prayerful and truly faithful and we know God is in control, we can be still. To be able to be still is a gift and--for me--a rare grace.It's a grace I don't ever want to waste.

Jen, at Conversion Diary, is collecting posts on lessons learned in 2008. I wrote mine before I read hers, so I think I have more than 8. There is an  inspiring collection of links there.

The Irony is Heartbreaking

The following column was written for this week's edition of the Arlington Catholic Herald. It's not up on the website. I'm not sure why. and I'm not sure if it will be in the print version. I seem to have a difficult time grasping the nuance of writing op/ed pieces without offering a clear opinion. So, this might have been too partisan. Or, it might be that the Herald website is running a little behind this week. But time is growing short!  My point with this piece is to reflect upon the last eight months of watching the culture of death gather momentum while lying still and trying to save just one baby. Please pass it along.

Back in February, my children rudely asked a woman we know how she had cast her ballot in the Virginia primary. She named a candidate who is adamantly pro-choice. They were horrified. “How can you vote for someone who is for abortion?” one of them blurted indignantly.

“I’m more concerned with the people who are already alive than the ones who aren’t yet,” came the steady reply.

I’m ashamed to admit that an uncomfortable silence settled over the room. We were stunned and I was too intimidated by the context of the conversation to say anything more. I still regret that.

Within a few weeks of that conversation, I learned I was pregnant. I had a raging case of the flu at that time. As I fought to keep my fever down in order to protect the tiny being growing within me, I was very much aware that my baby was alive and I wanted her to stay that way.

As the flu subsided, hyperemesis set in. Now, the goal was to control vomiting and stay hydrated in order to protect the baby. I got a glimpse of her via sonogram. I was eight weeks pregnant and we could see her heart beat steadily and surely—a perfect little person who only needed time to grow.

Just as the hyperemesis began to wane, I had another sonogram. There we discovered that the placenta, the organ created by God for each pregnancy to nourish the baby, was in the wrong place and its location threatened both the baby and me. At that sonogram, we also saw her wave her arms and touch her feet to her head. And we clearly saw that she is a girl. But that placenta was troubling. Thus began the odyssey of frequent sonograms and very careful management of a high risk pregnancy. A whole team of doctors was called into to guard the life of this baby—a baby who was already very much a part of our family. A baby with a name we remembered constantly in family prayers. A baby who squirmed and wiggled and kicked and delighted her siblings with her gymnastics. A baby who could have been legally aborted.

And so this pregnancy has progressed. It began early in the election season and has unfolded rather dramatically, a parallel story to the drama in our nation. I lie here on my side now, day after day, counting every precious kick, taking care not to turn the wrong way or sneeze without protecting my belly. Just one life—just one precious child—has a whole army of people working hard to protect her very existence, while out there in the world thousands of people throng at campaign events for a man who has said he wouldn’t want his daughters punished with a baby. In the years since our country legalized abortion, nearly 50 million tiny lives have been ended. While I lie here and pray that my baby is healthy and is born well, I watch in horror as throngs of people cheer a man who would make abortion even more accessible.

I want to show them the latest sonogram. The one where you can see the tiny hairs on her head. The one that always calls to mind those words from Matthew: Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and not one of them shall fall on the ground without your Father:  but the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore; ye are of more value than many sparrows. Matthew 10:29-31

What treasures women are privileged to hold within them! What creatures of infinite value! Our Lord tells us to fear not. He values us and He values the tiny baby whose wisps of hair can be seen and counted by us well before she is born. Who knows the plans He had for those 50 million babies? And who knows the plans He had for their mothers, plans for their good and the good of their souls? There is a man out there being likened to a Messiah. He promises to allow harm to come to the babies. From my horizontal perspective, here in this bed, the irony is heartbreaking.