Looking Forward

Patricia Ann Mueller fell asleep in the Lord on January 8th of 2012.

Grandma Mueller and Evie

There are many things I would like to say about this dear Saint, in particular about her love for people and for me.  As I was looking back at old pictures I found one from my bridal shower where Jake and I are standing with Grandma and Grandpa Mueller.  It is a sweet memory I have.

Living far away from home I wasn’t able to have a bridal shower with my side of the family, but Jake’s mom and sister put together a beautiful shower for me over our spring break.  There were so many people there.  90% of whom I had never met before that day.  Grandma and Grandpa Mueller have six children so… there are plenty of names to remember :)

That day was sort of my initiation into Muellerhood, so to speak, and it is a small snapshot of the mixture of feelings one has as their identity shifts and they suddenly become family to dozens of people who were previously strangers.  Isn’t marriage a wonderful thing?  There is joy and fear, anticipation and hesitation.  The melding of so many emotions at once can be described most simply as: overwhelming.

Although I dearly love all of Jake’s family, and everyone has made me feel welcome, Grandma Mueller had a way about her that simply oozed love and acceptance.  As soon as you began to speak with her you knew – you were family.  There was no transition period from the time I met Grandma and the time I felt like her granddaughter.  It was an instantaneous bond, because Grandma Mueller had open arms for everyone; that’s just who she was.

And that’s who she is now.

I don’t want spend this post reminiscing about Grandma’s life here on Earth.  Not just because I only met her a handful of times and know only bits and pieces of the great legacy she left behind, but because remembering her as she was is not what has dominated my thoughts these last several days.  I could talk about how she raised six children who are now beautiful adults.  I could praise her for the good works and the difficulties she overcame through her life.  I could remember how excited she was about her great grandbabies and how she loved to hold Evie and watch her play.  But I don’t want to focus on those things because those are not the things that have given me comfort this week.

It doesn’t give me comfort to think about who she was, because that life on Earth is now past.  All we have of it is memories.  What I do want to focus on is the life she has now, and her future which is so so bright.  I want to imagine how wonderful it must have been for her last week when she met her Creator and Redeemer face to face, and for the first time saw her two children that she never did meet here on Earth.    What a marvelous amount of catching up they must be enjoying right now.  I would rather rejoice with her in her entrance into the Church Victorious, her freedom from the chains of sin and the reward she now has in Christ for finishing the race.  This alone is grander and more glorious than any achievement she reached in this life.

Although my memories of Grandma and Evangeline are precious, I take more comfort in knowing that she will one day meet the child I am now carrying.  Oh how I have wished my second baby would know her love, but it soothes the pain to know our children will grow up hearing all about Great Grandma Mueller and they too will be able to join Jake and I in anticipating that Great Day when we will meet again.  She was so excited to hear we were expecting, and I know she will be equally excited to see our completed family on that Day.

Our memories and reminiscing are good to have, but our focus should be not on these things which have passed away; it should ultimately rest on the new life which is to come.  The death of a beloved saint is a great blessing to those of us in Christ.  Grandma is now with Jesus, and in order to be with Grandma we must be with Him – it is the only way to be with her now.  Her death draws us closer to Christ and causes us to long even more for those heavenly things.  For where your heart is there your treasure will be also.  My heart is with Grandma… and with Christ.

For now I relish in Holy Communion, where we partake in that foretaste of the feast to come with ALL the saints in Heaven and on Earth.  Sweet, mystic communion with our Lord and with those who have gone before.  I will be with Grandma this morning and every Sunday.  I look forward to meeting her when the time comes that I too can meet the One who has given me True Life.  And I long for the greatest hope of all, the ressurection of the dead and the new Creation we will enjoy together forever.

Grandma and I only had a few short times together, but we have many more to come.  Eternity is a long time to make up for that which was lost here… and I can hardly wait.  See you soon Grandma, and until then, enjoy your rest and your reward.

Love,
Your Granddaughter

Grandma Mueller

“I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten…”

Amen.

Ecological Breastfeeding: Part 1

In a recent post I discussed the many benefits of extended breastfeeding.  Both mother and child benefit physically and emotionally from a natural breastfeeding relationship, and babies also receive developmental benefits from the nutritional value of the milk.  Unfortunately, in our society, this natural way of mothering has been all but lost.

With so many distractions and roadblocks put in the way of motherhood, and so many alternatives to the comfort and safety of a mother’s breast being endlessly advertised… it’s no wonder we have forgotten the beauty and the blessings that come with mothering our young children the way that God created and intended us to.

When I was pregnant with my daughter, I knew that I wanted to give her the best start possible, and I also knew that would include breastfeeding.  It wasn’t until I read Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing that I realized I hadn’t thought of how I wanted to breastfeed.

My approach to parenting has always been that God has given us all the tools necessary in His creation to raise children who are healthy physically, emotionally and spiritually.  I don’t buy into the idea that you need the latest gadgets, toys, orthodontic binkies or whatever the latest craze is…  It’s not that these things are inherently wrong in and of themselves, I just didn’t think that they are necessary.

I knew that God didn’t create babies for cribs or strollers or bottles.  God created babies for mothers and fathers.  So I have always been skeptical with cultural parenting practices; I critique cultural parenting techniques from every angle before I will accept them, because I know that God did not create man for 21st century America.  Many of our innovations have gotten away from God’s intended purpose for families, so I make sure that whatever cultural practices I do adopt in my vocation as mother, they encourage God’s order rather than undermine it.

This is why I have chosen ecological breastfeeding.  I truly believe that the principles of ecological breastfeeding are the natural, intended way God created us to nurture our children.  I also believe that when we follow God’s intended order for our lives that it is healthier for us in every way; there are natural and spiritual consequences when we choose our ways rather than God’s ways – even when it comes to breastfeeding.

To be clear, I am not condemning anyone who does not follow this particular pattern of nursing.    I am saying that having the worldview where children are burdensome and so I will only have a few, and the sooner I can get them to not need me for extended periods of time the better… is a wrong perspective.  God has such a better way.  With that being said… let’s get to the good part.  These are the seven standards of ecological breastfeeding:

  1. Breastfeed exclusively for the first six months of life; don’t use other liquids or solids, not even water.
  2. Pacify or comfort your baby at your breasts.
  3. Don’t use bottles and don’t use pacifiers.
  4. Sleep with your baby for night feedings.
  5. Sleep with your baby for a daily-nap feeding.
  6. Nurse frequently day and night, and avoid schedules.
  7. Avoid any practice that restricts nursing or separates you from your baby.
These seven principles should be followed for the entirety of your nursing relationship with your child, until he is ready to wean himself.  This is not something that you instigate, but a natural consequence of maturing that will happen when he is ready.  The only principle that you do not continue indefinitely is the first.  Obviously, after six months of age, food can be introduced when the child begins to show interest.
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I want to finish up today’s post with some of the benefits our family has had from following this path.  I have been using ecological breastfeeding with Evangline from the time she was born.
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  • Evie has only been sick twice in the short 19 months of her life; both times she fully recovered in just a couple short days without any need for medication.
  • She has never had an ear infection or other any of the other common illnesses babies tend to be susceptible to.  She is incredibly healthy in every way.
  • Evangeline is an extremely happy and secure baby.  She knows that we will always be there when she needs us.
  • I gained 45 pounds during the course of my pregnancy.  Without any kind of dieting, exercising or trying at all, I lost 41 of those pounds within the first 7 or 8 months postpartum.
  • For many women this natural form of breastfeeding helps to naturally space out children.  Although our family was not concerned with the spacing of our children, this definitely has been a side-effect of ecological breastfeeding.  I did not have my first cycle until 15 months postpartum. (I have to say it was nice to go two years without having to deal with that!)
  • Not only is this extended period without a menstrual cycle beneficial in spacing children, but it is also very healthy and is one of the main ways that ecological breastfeeding can help prevent breast cancer.
These are just a few of the short-term benefits we have seen in our own family.  In Part II of this series I am going to go through each specific standard of ecological breastfeeding and explain some of the whys behind them and how implementing each one has looked in our own household.  If there are any questions let me know and I will include them at the end of the series.
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