Containing Joy—Rainbow Baby After Miscarriage Maelstroms


Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on June 29, 2018. My wife and I gave birth to our rainbow baby daughter late 2018.


rainbow baby

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life events such wedding your best friend, celebrating an anniversary, graduating school, overcoming major illnesses, and learning to overcome addictions normally lead a person to joy.

Usually such cathartic experiences bring incredible joy—joy that cannot be contained! However, I am currently struggling to bring myself to seize the joy of the anticipate birth of my fourth child. Let me provide a little background to clarify my hesitancy.

Past Losses Make Current Joy Tough

Dating back to late 2017 and beginning of 2018, my wife and I lost two children due to miscarriage. Because of the previous loss, and the insane amount of pain associated with it, I conditioned my heart, mind, and soul to be cautious. In fact, I guarded my expectations to prevent possible pain of future loss. As a result, I am neutral, stoic, non-responsive to the current joy in my life!

burying a child

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sifting through writings, thoughts, and quotes about miscarriage I came across profound wisdom from the great C.S. Lewis,

If a mother is mourning not for what she has lost but for what her dead child has lost, it is a comfort to believe that the child has not lost the end for which it was created. And it is a comfort to believe that she herself, in losing her chief or only natural happiness, has not lost a greater thing that she may still hope to “glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” A comfort to the God-aimed, eternal spirit within her. But not to her motherhood. The specifically maternal happiness must be written off. Never, in any place or time, will she have her son on her knees, or bathe him, or tell him a story, or plan for his future, or see her grandchild.

Okay to Feel Joy Again

While I am not a mother, the Christian apologist’s words still pertain to me and my fatherhood [really any father who suffered the misfortune of having a child not survive pregnancy. A lot of my writings over the course of the year relate to my suffering, pain, distress, worry, and ultimate purgative experiences with miscarriage. Along with the pain and memory of hope dashed, I struggled mightily with letting my guard down to feel joy, to reacquaint myself with happiness of a birth announcement, and to re-orient myself toward hope.

According to Bishop Robert Barron in his book Catholicism, “We say something is beautiful—a face, a painting, a golf swing—when it hangs together as one (it has wholeness), when all of its parts work together in consonance (it has harmony), and when it shines forth as an archetype of what such a thing should be (it has radiance).” A family missing a member(s) cannot reflect the truth and power of the Holy Trinity. I sense that same is true for my family now.

God is in control

Always a Plan

Gazing at my three children playing at the park and helping each other go up the various climbing apparatuses or going down the slides, I imagined a fourth playing. Difficult to describe this scene it occurred more in the inner recesses of my heart that actually a physical vision or daydream.   During my wife and I’s engagement we talked about being open to life, raising a larger family, and we both seemed to desire [at least open to the desire] for at least four children. We cannot describe this desire in mere words. I just believe God’s Providential plan is at work in my life.

I pray for continued support, strength, and opportunities to unleash the joy of the Gospel during our family’s time of anticipation and cautious yearning for a safe birth and delivery of our child!

 

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Why You Should Have a Purpose in 2020

2020 vision or hindsight is 2020?!

🌐 Start with your “why” and keep the end in mind to know the start.

🌐 I officially started my career as a freelance writer in the middle of 2019.

🌐 That journey already has included peaks, valleys, and plateaus.

❓Why do I write? Why deal with the anxiety of entrepreneurship? The loneliness? The stress?

2020 Vision

One word—PROCESS

Everything we do in life is a process or a journey. It takes time, patience, understanding, willingness, collaboration, humility, and gratitude.

🖋Writing has been my passion forever and I am made a better person—a more patient parent, an empathetic employee, and forgiving friend—the more I write and share with the world.

Our world is impatient, angry, assuming, unforgiving, and divided. I imagine a world where more people know how to #communicate with both TRUTH and CHARITY.

💫I believe it is my purpose in life to provide content that provides real unity that goes beyond the screen of our phones.

As a Catholic, my Church has been scandalous and lost the trust of the world and many of her members.

🙏I am here to help earn that trust back—not for any personal gain, but because I need to share my gift as a means to thank God for every blessing in my life!

❓What word would capture your goals for 2020?

Catholicism 2020 vision

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3 Reasons Why Life is Confusing like a Maze

The great Chinese philosopher Confucius once said, “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” His words seemed geared especially for my ears. I tend to overthink and over analyze situations in my life.

As a result, instead of simply living I conflate daily stresses into something bigger than need be. I started doing puzzles to help me deal with my anxiety. I also rediscovered my childhood love of maze puzzles. That got me thinking life is sort of like a maze. The dictionary defines the word maze as “a network of paths and hedges designed as a puzzle through which one has to find a way out”.

A secondary definition for this word is when it is used as a verb: “to be dazed and confused”. I will incorporate both descriptions about mazes in my writing today. Here are three ways why my life lately is like a maze.

maze.gif

Life is complex, yet beautifully simple

Life is a busy and complex event. As a parent of four children, life grows greater in complexity: school is starting up shortly, bedtime routines need to be followed strictly, kids get sick, and my job schedule is in transition. Life is complex. But does it have to be?

When I stop and reflect on my life all I truly need to do include: feeding my family and myself, providing a shelter, teaching my children, providing clothing, and helping my wife. Life is a paradox—it is both simple and complex.

Matthew 6:25-34 tells of the simplicity in life and Jesus urges his followers [and us] not to worry as we will be provided for because the birds of the air and other creatures are cared for as well.

Mazes are both simple and complex. All mazes have a beginning and end—simple. However, each maze is unique in its level of complexity due to the amount of dead-ends and size—complex.

beginning and end.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

Know the beginning and the end

The desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to himself. Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for:

The dignity of man rests above all on the fact that he is called to communion with God. This invitation to converse with God is addressed to man as soon as he comes into being. For if man exists it is because God has created him through love, and through love continues to hold him in existence. He cannot live fully according to truth unless he freely acknowledges that love and entrusts himself to his creator. (CCC 27).

Through faith and science I know that the origin of the universe began with a omnipotent force—known to Christians as God. Witnesses of the saints’ lives, the teachings of the Catholic Church, and my faith inform me that death is not the end. Rather it is a springboard to a possible eternity with God. Life is like a maze in that it is book-ended with a clear start and finish.

  • Why does the in between section [life] become complicated?
  • Why do I find myself laboring through a labyrinth?

The answer is simple! I forget the beginning and end goals of my puzzle that I call life.

Dot-to-dot living—perception or possibility?

Along with mazes, I enjoyed completing dot-to-dot puzzles in my elementary years. Having children in elementary school has reminded me of these fun and simple type of games. Unlike mazes, dot-to-dots are straightforward—you simply start with the lowest number [or letter] dot and connect it to the next digit until the puzzle is complete.

Oftentimes, I wish my life played out more like a dot-to-dot puzzles than a maze. I enjoy order and a linear pattern to living.

  • Why does God allow life to exist in dot-to-dot manner?
  • Why does He permit mazes caused by evil [personal and natural] to tangle up my life?
    Holy Thursday bread and wine dot-to-dot.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I asked these questions during period of my deepest depression and intense suffering. Arriving on the other side of suffering, I came to realize both through experience and prayer that God allows mazes to develop in human life due to the gift of free will.

Freedom is both the greatest gift and great challenge we face on a daily basis. I am free to try impose my control over this life and fashion it into dot-to-dot living or I am free to embrace the a[maze]ness of this life and learn to rely on others and God for help and support when I inevitably face apparent dead-ends in my spiritual life.

Centering my life on a proper order of love—God, family, friend, fellow men—provides stability. Instead of laboring through life’s labyrinth, embracing my maze allows me to live to the fullest. Saint John tells us of God’s enduring nature in Revelation 22:13, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, then beginning and the end.” When I view life through this sense I am able to incorporate Confucius’ teaching in daily living.


“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”

alpha and omega.jpg

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Pretzelgate 2019

Control reactions

🤔”Life is 10 percent what you make it and 90 percent how you take it.” ― Irving Berlin

🔶Reactionary responses rarely are the best—especially if you are in a stressful situation. 

🔶Yesterday, I was trying to get some rest as I worked the overnight shift. Thankfully, I got a solid short nap in. I woke to the sight of the contents of a 20 Oz pretzel 🥨 bag scattered on the living room floor. 

🔶Immediately, I fretted. I got angry. In hindsight I realized it was actually a bit humorous. 

🔶The kids were just trying to get a snack without waking me. Plus, Avila did benefit from Pretzelgate! 

🔶She crawled swiftly over and took a fistful of pretzels for her snack. Grinning from ear to ear she held up her delicious trophy triumphantly.

🤔”Life is 10 percent what you make it and 90 percent how you take it.”

🔶In the Chicoine House life is 10% of what you make of it, 90% of your perspective, and 100% about 🥨 . 

Pretzel day the office

🔶I needed not get salty in  attitude. I should have merely went to work cleaning up by enjoying the crunchy and salty snack.

🔶How has time changed your perspective on a negative event for you?

Share your thoughts in the comments below. 😊

 #perspective  #chicoinecontent  #lifequotes  #lifelessons

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Fortress Mentality—How You Can Keep Negativity Away in Your Life

Fortress

Growing up, I enjoyed constructing blanket forts in the living room or playing under the deck with my siblings in our dirt-laden bunker. Something about forts invokes nostalgia. Security and strength also are words that immediately come to my mind when I think of fort [and fortresses].

Over the past few years, I have noticed an increased anxiety, not only from myself, but from society as a whole. Americans enjoy the pleasure of living in a wealthy and free society—privileges not afforded in other places and times.

My aim here in this post is not to analyze the causes for the increased angst. That I will leave to professionals in psychology, medicine, and psychiatry. Instead, I am going to share a couple reasons why retreating to my cerebral citadel as opposed to actively engaging the stress inducers has worked for me for the past month.

Note: Please be aware, that while this approach may work for me I am in no way endorsing a fortress mentality being a miracle-cure method to fending off fretfulness for everyone.

Offense vs. Defense

Defense beats offense

Swiss-American psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross wrote,“Negativity can only feed on negativity.” From personal experience, I know that negativity only grows when you give attention to it, too much attention will lead to negativity consuming your life. Fighting negativity with an offensive attack does not work. I came across this anonymous quote that stuck a cord on this subject, “When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the fire department generally uses water.

Different approaches are necessary when battling stress and negativity in your life. An image of a faucet comes to mind when complaining controls my life. Last month, I allowed my emotions to get the better of me: both at home and work. Frustrations about unmet expectations caused grievances which poured out like water running from an open faucet.

To combat my weaknesses, I simply went to source—my words and shut off the valve of verbal complaints. This month instead of vocally sharing my grumbles aloud, I created a laconic lock for my tongue. According to James 3, the mouth and tongue act as a gateway for various despicable behaviors. Keeping our words bridled is key to stopping negativity.  The Apostle writes in James 3:2-5,

If anyone does not fall short in speech, he is a perfect man, able to bridle his whole body also.a 3If we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we also guide their whole bodies. 4It is the same with ships: even though they are so large and driven by fierce winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot’s inclination wishes. 5In the same way the tongue is a small member and yet has great pretensions.

 

Albert Einstein Quote

Fortifying not fleeing

The brilliant Albert Einstein once declared, “Stay away from negative people. They have a problem for every solution.” Sometimes turning away from the stresses and negativity going on in life gets equated with running from your problems. Withstanding the temptations to give into the negativity that surrounds you displays strength.

Known as fortitude, courage is the foundation upon which virtue and the ability to withstand the assault of pessimism is built on. Author Maya Angelou succinctly states, “Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.” Shifting my mindset toward stoicism and fortress-like greatly helped me weather the storms of stress.

Becoming more self-aware of my vocal complaints, grumbles, and murmurings prevented me from stumbling into the sea of stress. Distancing myself emotionally from the “bad” or “negative” experiences I faced in the workplace or at home helped me to move more quickly onto the next task or event of the day. The image of a fortress best represents for me the virtue of fortitude and ability to block negativity.

Questions for reflection

  • Are you currently in a negative environment?
  • What steps have you done to change your situation?
  • Think of three things you can do to take action in the next week to decrease negativity in your life.

Quotes for further reflection

“But you, O man of God, must flee from these things; and strive for uprightness, godliness, good faith, love, fortitude, and a forgiving temper.” –1 Timothy 6:11

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline.2 Timothy 1:7

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The Miracle of the Boy and the Wooden Letters

Wooden letters

According to C.S. Lewis, “Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see.” Recently, my faith has been lacking so I was missing the miniature and miraculous letters forming a story before my own eyes. I have previously written about my family’s journey of finding out our youngest son, Josiah, has autism spectrum disorder, but I will provide a short recap for any new readers.

Josiah’s Journey [So Far]

In the summer of 2017, my wife and I noticed our son struggled to make sounds and form words. Because Josiah could not communicate with us he started to  bang his head on the ground when he got frustrated. This habit became so bad that we were basically homebound unless both my wife and I were off work at the same time. On good days we could only take our son out for one errand as any transition proved too overwhelming for him.

We knew something had to change—he had to get better help then what we could offer at the time. In December 2017, Josiah was evaluated and diagnosed with autism. We enrolled him in a birth to three program offered by the city. He received speech, occupational, and development therapy. Eventually, his speech therapy was increased to weekly hour long sessions. It took a lot of time, focus, and diligence, but with consistent therapy with professionals and reinforced at home Josiah made tremendous gains. He was able to learn to talk and show us his needs for water, food, a preferred toy, and diaper changes. This summer he said his first 10+ word sentence!

Hello My Name is

Power of Words

Over the weekend, Josiah hit another milestone goal—telling me his full name and recognizing the letters to his first name. As I was in the playroom getting him dressed, Josiah pointed at the letters on the wall. For each kid, my wife and I hung their names in wooden letters in their rooms. We recently moved Josiah into the older kids room so the wooden letters remained in the “new playroom” (formerly Josiah’s room). This following was our exchange centered around those letters:

Me: “Yes, Josiah that is your name on the wall. What letter is that [pointing to the ‘J’]?”

Josiah:  “J, O, S, I, A, H!”

Me:  “And what is your name?”

Josiah: “Jo-sia-ah, Fabian, Sha-qin [Chicoine]!”

Practice Makes Progress

Some people have told my wife, “Aren’t you hoping that scientists find a cure for autism? Then you won’t have to waste all the time doing therapy.” This is the wrong thing to say to a parent of children with autism. Thankfully, my wife is quite professional and always tactful otherwise a vicious verbal exchange may have ensued. Autism is not something to be cured. Instead, it is something to be explored. Different does not mean diseased. Unfortunately, people naturally fear the unknown and treat it with disdain.

The reason I continue writing daily and sharing my thoughts is because I want to provide hope, perspective, and joy to families and individuals going through similar situations. Our world does not readily accept differences. I want to be a help change that. I want to bring tangibility and reality as to how autism looks in our little boy.

The Gift of Healing

Rainbow Baby

Before he was born, I struggled mightily with depression. Our previous pregnancy due to miscarriage. We named our unborn child Jeremiah. Josiah proved to be God’s healing gift to us. His name literally means “healer”.  All our triumphs are intricately tied to our struggles, doubts, fears, and worries parenting Josiah. We all have a cross to bear. Our cross is not more difficult than most people’s. It is merely different. Josiah’s smile and giggles are infectious.  Hearing him tell me his name meant everything in during that moment in the playroom.

Do you have special needs or have a family member with special needs? I would love to hear your story. Please feel free to share in the comments.

Miracles do happen we just are too busy to see them sometimes. Our son’s special needs forces me to slow down and view the world differently. I am thankful that I embraced that change of pace this past Sunday. I pray for the strength and humility to be more willing and ready to learn from my son in the future!

Thank you for sharing!

How To Be Authentic in the Age of Social Media

Authenticity

💡💡💡Be authentic. We hear that all the time on across the Internet. Life coaches. Bloggers. Podcasters. Everyone seems to have their two cents on this topic.

If you are like me you probably think: Of course be authentic, but what does that look like specifically?!”

This can be done using the following tips:

1️⃣ Don’t exaggerate your experience. It is good to use engaging language, but if you over exaggerate your story it almost becomes like a tall tale or a big fish story.

2️⃣ Use details in your content.

Over the past few weeks I have been reading Gary Halbert’s “The Boron Letters”. It is a fantastic read for anyone in the field of advertising or copywriting.

I came across this quote of his that actually inspired me to write this post. “Believability is one of the top most important ingredients of good promotions,” he wrote.

Share the details of your story! Today, my older kids are home from school. It is busier than usual. How did I find time to write this post?

I took my kids to the library and we are in a large playroom with tons of toys (play food and shopping carts) and I let them free play. This freed me up to write and read some of Halbert’s letters.

3️⃣ Share your triumphs AND your trials.

It is easy to filter our social media posts or blogging content to show only our wins. Who doesn’t like a success story?

However, the best stories involve overcoming a conflict or struggle. Those also happen to be the realest. Without showing your vulnerability and weaknesses a you run the risk of becoming unrelatable or stuff—one sided lacking dimension. Embrace the fullness of your life. Share your highs lows, and the in between times as well.

These simple tips will lead to being more authentic.

Do you agree with these tips? Let me know in the comments.

Thank you for sharing!