Children are a gift from the Lord; the fruit of the womb, a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children born in one's youth. Blessed are they whose quivers are full. They will never be shamed contending with foes at the gate. ~Psalm 127:3-5

Friday, December 10, 2010

Little Star - A Book Review

I received a copy of Little Star by Anthony DeStefano in the mail and happily agreed to do a review. My kids really enjoyed this creative and colorful book about a small star with a very big role - to warm the baby Jesus on the night of His birth. The book opens with a little boy asking his father which one is the star from that miraculous night. The father lovingly tells the tale of how the brave Little Star burned out long ago, giving himself in Love. Little Star was a haggard star, the smallest one in the sky, and all the other stars made fun of him. When they got the news that a King was to be born, all the stars in the sky excitedly got ready for the big night. They each wanted to shine their biggest and brightest. But as soon as they learned that Jesus was to be born as a poor baby in a lowly stable and not in the way they thought a King should come, they all lost interest - all of them except Little Star. Little Star was the only one who got the message of Love which Jesus came to share with the world- a message that was made even more significant by the humble way He entered the world. So Little Star mustered up all his might and shined the brightest he had ever shown, to make sure the baby Jesus kept warm all through the night.

Mr. DeStefano's portrayal of the legend of the fictional Little Star, and how he lives on in the hearts of all of us, is sure to delight even the oldest readers! It is a simple telling of one of the most beautiful messages - that Jesus came to give us Love, and the correlation between the star atop our Christmas trees and this little hero tickles the imagination of adults and children alike. Truly a wonderful addition to the classics we read our children! Every year, during Advent, we read one story each night leading up to Christmas. Sometimes we wrap the books and let the fun ensue as the kids excitedly choose a book and unwrap the surprise title. But sometimes we leave them in a stack near the tree and let the kids choose. This year, Little Star is already a favorite, sometimes being picked several times in the same week from the stack.

I highly recommend this book to all of you! It is a beautifully-illustrated, simply-written book of a deep and heart-warming nature. Much thanks to Mr. DeStefano for giving me the chance to share it with you all!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Losing a Baby

When my son was born, my midwife made an interesting discovery: he should have had a twin. The evidence- from the two chambers in my placenta to the two-weeks of extra gestational time- pointed to that idea and I knew somewhere in my heart that it was right. Even though at the time it actually happened I was unaware of what was going on (and thought it was my monthly visitor), the fact that I had indeed miscarried clung to me. It didn't hurt too badly because I had a newborn baby boy to care for, one who needed my attention in so many ways, who unknowingly soothed the ache I felt inside every time I thought about the fact that there should've been another one. It still hurt but I moved on a lot easier than I would have if I had known from the start. His presence in my life has been bittersweet.
We found out two weeks ago that I am pregnant with what technically is our sixth child; a huge surprise but also a joyous one. We waited to tell my family until we saw them on Thanksgiving. I made a shirt for my youngest to wear that said "Big Sister 2011" with stick figures of all the kids and a baby carriage, and we made a game of seeing who would notice it first. Everyone was so happy, and despite my misgivings and anxiety over another child to care for so soon, I truly was a happy mama.
New life inside me always brings so much with it. There's always a slight fear- how will I stretch myself even more to meet the emotional, mental and physical needs of one more child? And the worry- how will we pay for this birth? But canceling out those feelings of weakness and vulnerability are the ones that say babies are a blessing, no matter the circumstance. One more baby I have allowed the Lord to bless me with is one more soul I am in charge of to raise for His purposes, one more child who will teach me about love. This child is a gift.
But as I sit here writing this I am experiencing the end of a miscarriage that began the day after Thanksgiving. I am still in shock and still grieving. It hasn't yet been a week. This one is different in that I am aware of it, I'm experiencing it knowing full well exactly what's going on and that this baby no longer is living inside of me. I'm trying so hard to process it and yet I find myself unable to grasp the right reasoning, the right statement, the one that fits exactly what I need to ease this pain, to sooth the ache I feel inside every time I think about the fact that there should be another baby.
It's so difficult.
My sister in law recently shared a sentiment with me about her set of twins which she miscarried early in her marriage to my brother. It was in reference to a baby-feet tattoo she got in memory of them, with a purple rose in memory of my grandmother (her favorite color was purple). She believes my grandma is up in heaven bouncing those babies on her knee. My grandmother was not very lucid or healthy when we grandchildren started having our babies so she never really got a chance to enjoy her great grandchildren before she died. I'd like to think as well that maybe my babies who I have lost are being bounced on their great-grandmother's knee as they sit in God's amazing presence experiencing a love I could have never come close to giving them.
A friend sent me a prayer that Mother Angelica wrote for women who have miscarriages. I think it could actually be used for anyone who has lost a child in any stage of life, and it is an encouraging set of words. It does give me some peace as I go through this experience, as I have been telling myself since the first positive pregnancy test I ever had that babies are here for God's purposes; they are His children, not mine. It does not matter at what stage of their life He decides to take them home to Him. I may never see the reasoning for this baby's short life, a tiny soul hidden in the secret darkness of my womb only for a few short weeks. I do know that her existence already began to stretch me in ways I wasn't sure it could, and maybe that was the only thing she was created help me to remember that there's always room for more love to be shared.