One month ago today I gave birth to a baby girl. She was big, as in eleven pounds nine and a half ounces big. She was beautiful, with long fingers, a sweet chin, and delicious chubbiness all around. She was alive which, after miscarrying my first child and delivering a stillborn with my fourth, was something I spent the entire pregnancy and labor not expecting. But our generous God gave us another undeserved gift, another child to welcome into our family and to love. He gave us Life.
We named her Teresa Marie. Mother Teresa once said something that has deeply shaped my vocation of motherhood. “Stay where you are,” she said. “Find your own Calcutta. Find the sick, the suffering, and the lonely right there where you are — in your own homes and in your own families, in your workplaces and in your schools. You can find Calcutta all over the world, if you have the eyes to see.” Every diaper I change, owie I kiss, meal I fix, and craft I endure may not seem as heroic as lifting a leper out of the gutter, carrying him home, and caring for him while he dies but to Jesus they are. Marriage and motherhood is the vocation He has given me and I know that in them and in Him I will find my happiness. When I pursue Him and His holy will I Pursue Happiness.
Teresa was born into a culture that teaches that freedom is doing whatever you want whenever you want with no consequences as long as no one gets hurt. The Catholic Church teaches that true freedom is, as George Weigel wrote, “the capacity to choose wisely and to act well as a matter of habit.” I prefer that notion of liberty – the one that relies on and reinforces reason, formation, virtue, and a belief in furthering the common good. This is the Liberty that I will teach to Teresa and all my children.
During this Fortnight for Freedom I am praying for our Religious Freedom while being mindful that our rights do not come from government but from our God. He gives us Life, blesses us with Liberty, and guides us in our Pursuit of Happiness. While I wonder what persecutions may be in our future I also know that no one can take these inalienable rights away from Teresa or anyone else. I am scared of what may happen and I worry for what my loved ones may be asked to suffer but I’m trying to focus on that one fact – God has given us these things and no administration can truly take them away.
Happy One Month, my beautiful baby girl. The world is a better place because you are here.
(Technical difficulties mean I couldn’t upload a picture of my newborn. You can see pictures and read her birth story here.)
[author] [author_image timthumb='on']http://www.ignitumtoday.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/BEngstrom-e1314017018199.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Bonnie Engstrom is a cradle Catholic and stay-at-home mom. She married her dashing husband in 2006 and they now have four children: one in Heaven and three wandering around their house, probably eating pretzels found under the couch. Bonnie lives in central Illinois and gets excited about baking, music, film adaptations of Jane Austen books, and the Chicago Bears. She is the Assistant Director for Behold: A Catholic Conference on the Dignity and Vocation of Women and she blogs at Learning to be a Newlywed.[/author_info] [/author]