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We met over 8 years ago at church as Shaun was walking in and I was walking out. The few words exchanged sparked an interst that kept Shaun coming back. When we FINALLY began dating 4 years later we soon knew there was something special here. Our first year quickly flew by and we both decided we never wanted to spend another year with anyone else or without each other. We married in the place where it all began on January 1, 2011 (1/1/11) and gave birth to our beautiful daughter Ava Marie on September 22, 2011 our next little one, Clara Rose came 16 months later on February 11, 2013. This blog began with our preparation with our wedding and has entered into recording the days and events of our newlywed life and new motherhood.

The Happy Couple...

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Ava Marie

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Clara Rose

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Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Gift of Life

Our lives are so interconnected.  I've always thought that, but tonight was really reflecting on it.  We never know what God has planned or how he will use us to touch the lives of others or how he will bring others into our lives to teach us something.

Tonight I went out for the first time since Ava was born for almost an hour and a half.  I really missed her.  I honestly have not felt overwhelmed by her (I'm sure this is partly because she's so good), but also because I've waited for her for so long and I really enjoy being her mother and being Shaun's wife.  I love being home and I love taking care of them.  ...but I went to the gym with COLLEEN as she loves to work out and I need to get in shape... bad.  Around 30 min into my workout I was ready to go home.  Partly because I was out of shape, but really because I missed my baby SO badly!  I pushed through it, though, finished my workout and headed home.

(can't you just tell how much she ADORES her?)

My mom was watching Ava.  They played and played and played (most of Ava's toys are gifts from my Mom) and Nana sang to her (I find myself singing the same tune my mom sang to me as a baby to my little Ava) and prayed (I love hearing my Mom pray with Ava as she whispers each prayer into her ear).  I am very very very lucky to have my mother nearby.  She stops by pretty regularly and I sort of think that she just may be the Easter Bunny in disguise because she loves to leave presents at my door.  Often meals.  REALLY good meals.  My mom is a great cook!  Did I mention how lucky I am to have her nearby?

Well, Nana's been dying for some one on one time with the beautiful babe and so she was only too happy to stop by and watch her.  Ava was all smiles when she saw Nana and I left them playing as I headed out.  When I arrived home I saw her little tear filled eyes and red cheeks and my heart broke a bit.  Then she smiled when she saw me through her little sad face and I was done for.  Evidently she was very very very good while I was gone (no surprise) and probably about the time I was thinking of heading home, she was missing Mom as well and began to tell Nana all about it. 

I nursed her and kissed her and held her and was so grateful for her all over again... and it had only been a little over an hour!  Though tired, she fought her sleep.  She fell asleep a few times and every time I tried to put her to sleep for the night she woke up and cried for me.  I eventually took her downstairs to sit with me as I prayed the rosary with the EWTN sisters (I get easily distracted on my own).  That put her out.  As I sat with her, the rosary ended and I put her up to bed leaving the t.v. on.  This time she really slept. 

I came back downstairs and meant to switch it off as Shaun & I gave up T.V. for Lent, but caught the next program instead.  I felt like I was supposed to watch it.  It ended up being on this lady

I was incredibly moved by her story.  I couldn't help but think about how powerful it was.  I also felt it quite ironic that we were the very same age and how often over the years I had thought of how close I too could have been to never being here at all.  My mother was the perfect example of a young mother in a difficult situation who could have chosen to abort me.  She was a single mom in her 20's coming out of a dangerous relationship with another baby less than a year old and who had found herself pregnant again ...with me.  I think I remember hearing at some point growing up that a doctor even encouraged her to abort me.  She was between homes and jobs trying to make her way back home where she may not have known how she would be recieved by her 9 brothers and sisters and traditional Catholic family as the only one to find herself in this "predicament".  Perhaps she felt fear.  Perhaps shame.  I'm not sure what she felt.  But I do know one thing.  No matter what she felt or what temptations she suffered, she chose to give me life.  And I'm so grateful she did. 

While I've had these past months with Ava, and even throughout my pregnancy, I've thought a LOT about my mom.  We have had our ups and downs in our relationship over the years, yet, I can say that I have found tremendous forgiveness, appreciation and love for her as this year has continued on.  Ava has unfolded this gift in me. 

There's a quote from Oscar Wilde that says "Children begin by loving their parents; as they grow older they judge them; sometimes, they forgive them." 

We often expect our parents to be "perfect".  I think that daughters are especially harsh on their mothers.  Yet in all this we do not often think as we grow of what they have gone through or the sacrifices they may have had to make for us.  Sometimes this occurs when we become parents ourselves.  Then we realize we better forgive, and hope that our children are not as harsh with us as we may have been with our own... at least this is my thought.

As I lay in the hospital awaiting Ava's uncertain birth, I had many hours to think and pray.  I thought a LOT of my mom as I awaited labor and how I would have been terrified if I had been her.  She was trying to get home and found herself in Kentucky (far from home and family) living with a group of religious sisters who had taken her and my brother under her care during her travels.  She didn't even have a home to come back to when she was discharged from the hospital.  No nursery to place me in.  No one but the sisters to watch my brother as she labored to bring me into the world.  Two days of difficult labor passed before she gave birth to a 13lb 8.5oz raven haired "doll" of a baby.  (and I thought 9lbs 4oz was big!)  I kept thinking of her situation over and over again and couldn't believe that I hadn't really pondered on it over the years, but now it was so prominent in my mind.  I was so grateful to her!  I asked her if she had been terrified to give birth alone (I would have been).  She said, "I wasn't alone.  I was never alone.  I was filled with such tremendous peace during that whole time.  I wasn't afraid"  God is so Good isn't he?  Ironically, I also had become friends over the years with a group of sisters, here who have a home that welcomes mothers with no place to go.  I wonder if they realize the gift they are bestowing.  Years later I worked at a home for unwed mothers as a "house mother".  The irony.

While watching the video(watch here) I could not stop crying (and still can't).  The part where she talks about her daughter, Olivia...

...and says "I just can't imagine the world without her!  And that's what I want people to understand" really gets me right at the heart.  I have often prayed outside abortion clinics and with heartbreak watched each mother drive up to those doors to walk through them, knowing when they leave, the world will never be the same because of all the lives that will be changed because of that one fateful decision.  If only they had HOPE!  I've desperately wanted to hold a sign that said "PLEASE don't do it!  I'LL take your baby!" 

I look now at my own little Ava Marie, (named in honor of Our Lady, another young mother with difficult circumstances and an uncertain future surrounding the birth of her own child) and think about how SHE wouldn't be here if it wasn't for my mother's brave choice.  My mom did not know what would come in the future and honestly, our lives were not easy, but that does not mean that God has not blessed us because of her choice.  He has a way of compensating for everything and his plan is so much more perfect that we could ever imagine.  There's a saying that "God writes straight ...with crooked lines".  Thank God my mother had hope.  Thank God Our Lady trusted that he had everything in her own life in His loving plan and he would reward her choice to "say Yes" and hope... for all eternity.

I think of how every young person I've taught or ministered to or witnessed to in any way... would never have experienced that if it had not been for God giving my mother the gift of courage and hope.  The homes that were built in Nicaragua because I was inspired to help raise money for the poor years ago... because my mother had hope.  Everything that will happen in Ava's life would never happen, were it not for my mother... I do not know what her new life holds, but I do know that every person that lives after her and every other child I give birth to and every child they give birth to, on and on through the ages is a testament to my mother's courage and a testament to the gift of life.

I find it interesting that because I wanted to linger with my daughter a little longer tonight and she also seemed to need to spend a bit more time with me, that I caught this program which brought with it powerful memories and tremendous gratitude.  We are all... interconnected.  And that's a good thing.
(Three Generations)


  1. And sometimes God says, "Hey, you should read this today, right now, because you need to hear this..."

    1. :) This is good. How's that baby and Mama doing? I miss your beautiful face!

  2. Dear Marijanna,

    I think this post is my favorite of yours because it describes beautifully the precious bond between a Mama and her child! How blessed Ava Marie is to have you and Shaun as parents! She is blessed also to have your Mom as her Grandmother! Reading this post and seeing the love and devotion in your eyes for your daughter brought tears to my eyes! So many in this society of ours don't realize what precious gifts children are. Everytime I hear about a Mama considering having an abortion, I cry. Every day I pray my rosary for all Mamas and Dads to choose life, for the unborn children, and for the end of abortion. I wish I could do more.

    Beautiful Baby! Awesome Post! I feel so blessed to know you in person and be friends with you! You are such a wonderful Mama to Ava Marie! May God Bless you, Shaun, and Ava Marie!

    You're in my thoughts and prayers!

    PS. I am trying to learn more about the process of adopting. I am thinking of turning my blog into an adoption blog.

    Maria :)

  3. What a story. Thank God for your mom. I'm glad you two have worked out your difficulties. I don't get along with my mom, so this post hits home for me in that way. The hard thing, is I don't think I will ever. I hate to say this, but some of the things that bother me about her, bother me so much, it's very hard to be around her.

    I really like that quote you quoted from Oscar Wilde.

    PS, I love to follow along on EWTN's rosary too! I can complete a rosary when we pray as a family--we try to do it in the mornings--mid morning break from school!

    1. Thank God for my mom is right. The difficulties between a mother and daughter are not overcome overnight, but after many many years of prayers for forgiveness and the ability to love unconditionally, his prayers are working. I'll pray for you and your mom... I understand.

      As for EWTN, thank God for their rosary. Easily distracted people like me with hubbies who have long work schedules, need it!

  4. I forgot to add, how beautiful your mother is, wow, what a lovely woman!

    1. She is beautiful, huh? She's the 7th of 7 daughters (with 3 brothers) and they all look like models... although I personally think my mom is the most beautiful, but I'm partial!


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