Sweet Surrender | Birth of Nolan Carlos

5 months ago (cue every surprise and shock emoji here) I gave birth to a sweet sweet boy, Nolan Carlos. After months of transitioning and fighting through writers block, I have finally written his birth story down. 

The months leading up to my due date with my second baby were a bit chaotic. We had Christmas, a wedding in the family, and New Years all before baby time. I was getting both physically and emotionally exhausted. Physically, for obvious reasons. Emotionally exhausted because I knew that our little world was going to change so much and change is always scary– and if I’m honest? I was slowly get more and more scared to give birth a second time. For those that don’t know, I had what would best be described as a semi-traumatic birth with my oldest son, Theo. I pushed for about 3 and 1/2 hours and suffered a postpartum hemorrhage immediately after giving birth.  All of this to say- giving birth again scared me because I was well aware of what COULD go wrong. 

As the weeks got closer I began visualizing what I wanted for the birth of this baby. I wanted to labor at home for a while, comfortably, while listening to my birth playlist and diffusing my essential oils. We would go to the hospital when I was pretty well dilated and I would be laboring there for a shorter amount of time. This plan changed once I had my 33 week growth scan. See, my husband and I have relatively good sized babies. Our first was 8 lbs. 11 oz. and our second was showing signs of being another good size. Due to that, my Doctor decided I might have the best chance to avoid a C-section if we induce a week early and I was completely on-board! I didn’t have to have a C-section the first time (luckily) but if I were to go over my due date this time — the risk would be much higher.

I was at peace.

Sure, my initial birth “plan” would change but my hope was still to push this baby out myself.

By 36 weeks we had scheduled the induction and our new plan was set in motion! During this time my sciatica nerve pain was getting really intense and I had been going through prodromal labor. I felt ready … physically.

It was the mental that I wasn’t quite ready for.

My family & friends showered me with prayers at a Catholic Blessingway while I was a little over 37 weeks (check out Geena Harrington’s blog post on blessing ways here). It was on this night that I could finally speak the words I was too proud to say… “I am scared.”

I cried as my loved ones encouraged me, hugged me and wrote uplifting words to help support and guide me through labor. Through prayer I could acknowledge my fear – and yet not be trapped by it.

Jesus was simply telling me to surrender all to Him.

January 9th approx. 2:30 AM (37 wks 4 days)

I woke up to the groans of my toddler and noticed some slight cramping. After rocking Theo back to sleep I quickly went to the bathroom because, well, I figured that I should just go now that way I won’t have to get up later. It was then I noticed a piece of my mucus plug. My heart began to race. When I was pregnant with Theo and I lost my mucus plug – almost immediately I went into labor. I pushed away any thoughts that labor was coming and went back to bed.

At 6:30 I woke up to contractions. They were about 15 to 20 minutes apart but noticeably more painful than average Braxton Hicks. Again, I pushed away any temptation of thinking I was in labor and assured Tim that it would be fine if he went to work. It was only an hour later that I called my Mom to ask if she would come to my 37 week appointment with me and that some interesting things were occurring. We spent our time before the appointment walking around Target and gathering last minute baby items. Contractions were about 10 minutes apart but I was still convinced that it was nothing and they would stop soon.

As my appointment got closer I finally decided to call Tim and tell him to come home. There were enough contractions for me to assume that active labor would be coming soon.

12:00PM 3cm 80% effaced

Shortly after my appointment, I came home to my sisters Dana (+ her boys) and Jenna.  We laughed, ate lunch and watched one of my favorite shows, ‘The Office’, to get my mind off of the intensity of my contractions. The best distraction though? My sweet nephews. Their joy and playfulness filled our home and Theo was on cloud nine getting to run around with his favorite buddies.


My contractions were increasing in intensity but still seemed pretty sporadic. They ranged from being 30 seconds long every 2 minutes to a minute and a half long every 8 or so minutes. Movement helped remedy the pain of the contractions and so I kept walking, bouncing and swaying. Tim rubbed my low back each time I got a contraction and let me tell you– that.was.amazing. By 5 PM I was thoroughly convinced that we should be going to the hospital but there’s was one thing I wasn’t quite ready for…. to say goodbye to my oldest guy.

Change is both scary and beautiful.  Saying goodbye to Theo before leaving reminded me of that. We were excited for this new little person to enter our family but we were saying goodbye to our normal. I gave my little boy a big hug with tears streaming down my face… looking to my Mom I found comfort that all will be even BETTER than I can imagine.


We were immediately admitted.

After a failed dose of nitrous oxide and hours of intense contractions I was ready to have the one thing I really wanted to avoid- the epidural. See, I am not one of those ladies who wants to avoid an epidural because I am afraid of needles or even because I want everything “all natural” … I wanted to avoid it because I didn’t have a great experience with the epidural when I was in labor with Theo. It slowed my labor down and I felt pretty sick when I got it.

Nevertheless, I was ready to feel some relief and I opted for getting an epidural at 8 centimeters dilated. Once the epidural went in I felt intense relief but it didn’t take long for the numbness to spread everywhere even to my throat. My sister could see my panic and she ran to go get my nurse who was immediately worried that I got a spinal (which would numb me all over) instead of an epidural. The anesthesiologist came in and said that more than likely I had a half spinal / half epidural and he would try to lower my dosage of the medicine. Only about 30 minutes after getting the epidural i started to get the shakes REAL BAD. I thought it was a side effect from the epidural but my nurse knew better! She checked me and sure enough I was complete! 100% effaced and 10 centimeters dilated. What should’ve been push time had to be delayed because I couldn’t feel a n y t h i n g south of the border (darn you half spinal / half epidural!!). My nurse turned off the epidural and we patiently waited until some feeling came back not only to my legs but my arms and throat as well (DARN YOU EPIDURAL). 

By 10:30 I was feeling much more like myself, baby was very low, and we were ready to push!

My sister, Dana, on one side of me. Timmy on the other. I was ready to meet my baby! (Gender still unknown at the time)

Timmy counted, Dana encouraged and Dr. Finnegan coached. I had literally the BEST birth team around! It made a world of difference.

10:42 PM on January 9th, 2019: Nolan Carlos Medearis was born.

What followed his birth were the sweetest moments.

There is nothing like seeing your child’s face for the first time. I know I am extremely biased but my Nolan was… perfect. Absolutely perfect.

“This is my body given up for you…”

Christ’s words that are given to us at each and every Mass echoed through my heart during my pregnancy and most especially during labor and delivery.  This body… has seen better days. It’s stretched, loose and wholly imperfect but I am so incredibly proud of it. Enduring through immense pain for the sake of my children has been the greatest honor of my whole life. I had to remind myself through the intensity of a contraction that I was MADE FOR THIS. 

Some days its not easy looking at the imperfections sketched on my body. But most days I try to look at those imperfections with affection because they tell a story. Each mark was made as my boys were growing inside me. Maybe I got one of my stretch marks when Theo was rolling and punching around. Maybe one of the marks was from Nolan stretching his tiny body inside me for the first time. 

All of those imperfect marks tell me a story and its the most beautiful one of all. It is the story of L I F E. 

Sweet surrender. 

What a sweet sweet cross we Mothers have to bear. 

In giving birth to our children and all of the parenting that follows. 

Is it a cross? 


But… It is one filled with tight hugs, bellowing laughter, snotty kisses and joyous moments. 

The word that I prayed for during my labor with Nolan was … surrender. 

“Here I am
Down on my knees again
Surrendering all
Surrendering all.
Find me here
Lord as You draw me near
Desperate for You …
I’m desperate for You.
I surrender.
Like a rushing wind
Jesus breathe within.
Lord have Your way
Lord have Your way in me.
Like a mighty storm
Stir within my soul.
Lord have Your way
Lord have Your way in me.
Like a rushing wind
Jesus breathe within.
Lord have Your way
Lord have Your way in me.
I surrender.
I surrender.
I wanna know You more.
I wanna know You more.”
-I Surrender by Hillsong United

This song was the perfect anthem for Nolan’s birth and its words continue to strike my heart. 

I hope maybe this can encourage you, wherever you are at, to surrender to whatever cross Jesus is asking you to bear. Maybe – just maybe- it might be the sweetest cross of all. 

All photos were taken by: Dana Sebastian

That One Perfect Day


(photo courtesy of Joshua Paul Photography)

On June 18th, I married my favorite person. We had waited, prayed, and hoped that the day would come and when it finally did- it was completely surreal.

I remember the stress and worries about all the fine details on the night of the rehearsal but waking up on that beautiful (and HOT) Saturday morning I felt nothing but complete and total peace. I knew that God was with me, strengthening me, and about ready to change my entire life. It was so exciting!

This day- this ONE day- literally changed my entire life.

Before I get into that, I want to talk about something that we had been preparing for throughout our entire engagement, taking classes on, and having SO many conversations about- natural family planning. 

The Catholic Church has such a beautiful reflection on sexuality, marriage, and family planning but many, who don’t know the logic behind the church’s teachings, view the church’s teaching as a strict “no you can’t do this, no you can’t do that, NO NO NO.”

It’s true that the Church is all about abstaining from sex until marriage and is it true that the Church is strictly against the use of any contraceptives. What many don’t know is that the church has those beliefs not to say “no” but to give a more profoundly beautiful “yes” to life and authentic love.

Abstinence is not designed to torment the couple but rather empty themselves in service to one another and in some way die to themselves in their sacrifice. Much like what Christ did on the cross — all for the sake of love. We want to enter into marriage knowing that our beloved will be given all  of   us, all of our brokenness and vulnerability. Also, the physical act of “consummating” ones marriage is a physical reality of what happened during the couples marriage ceremony. In the exchanging of the rings, saying of the vows, and nuptial blessing the couple becomes one. In the same way, the couple physically becomes one as a physical sign of their commitment to each other and their vows. This is A LOT to take on before you have actually committed to one another in marriage! Saving that intimacy isn’t a way of torment but rather a way to ensure the couples center on Christ, His mission, and loving the way Christ loved… which was (and still is) through sacrifice.

During our vows, Tim and I promised to uphold all of the teachings of the church, raise our family according to the church, and accept children lovingly and freely. On the day of our wedding the reality of that last phrase didn’t really hit me until later- “accept children lovingly and freely”. 

I tell all of my students whenever we talk about theology of the body and marriage that marriage has two purposes: babies and bonding. As a couple we are living out the vocation of marriage in being intimate with one another but we also are living out our vocation by being open to the will of the Father in regards to children.

Tim and I were the last of 3 other couples to get married in 5 weeks- oh man- it was a busy few weeks! We were able to witness the marriages of many close friends and obviously had the opportunity to be engaged at the same time.

While being engaged with 3 other holy and beautiful couples- it came with its challenges. Many times all of us would sit and talk about our classes, how we are preparing through prayer, and yes– natural family planning. The other couples were practicing the ‘creighton’ family planning method while Tim and I were practicing the ‘sympto-thermal’ method. This brought up some really fruitful and interesting discussions.

All four couples, including us, had planned on waiting at least a year or two before starting our families. You know that thing about what God does when you make plans? Yep, He laughs.

The church, in her wisdom, gives us natural (and contraceptive free) methods to plan our family along with prayer and discernment from Our Lord. Natural family planning is very effective when used correctly and also allows for God’s will. God’s will can be for the couple to have a child unexpectedly or for the couple to wait, in joyful anticipation, for their family to grow. Natural family planning is all about teaching love and responsibility. 

Unfortunately, I felt that many discussions I had with other Catholic couples about the upcoming wedding day and plans for a family seemed to center on fear of pregnancy. All the women were charting and plotting when the potential ovulation date would be in relation to wedding dates. Many panicking at the thought of ovulating over the their wedding weekend. What I didn’t like about those conversations was the impression that the potential of a positive pregnancy test a few weeks later would be the ‘worst case scenario’. Are we even aware of how many women who would LOVE to be pregnant right now but maybe are not? Or those who continue to try and PRAY for that positive test?

As the weddings got closer, some women found out that they would in fact be ovulating either ON or close to their wedding date. Obviously this may present a challenge if you would like to both wait on starting your family AND consummate your marriage.

I was one of those women.

Many of us discussed and even prayerfully concerned what we would do- would we abstain on our wedding night to avoid pregnancy? Or would we consummate our marriage and “risk it”?

On June 18th, I have never felt the grace of God more in my entire life.

Our photographer and friend, Josh, had told us before the wedding that we should pray for all the graces of the sacrament on that day and that if we did that we would truly be able to FEEL them. Boy oh boy was he right…


(photo courtesy of Joshua Paul Photography)

We could feel our Lord’s presence as we said “yes” to the many challenges, joys, and sufferings in our life together. We understood that it wasn’t just the two of us – but as Fulton Sheen has so eloquently put, “it takes THREE to get married”. We needed Our Lord on that day and (God willing) the many after.

Marriage is about WAY more than just us. We know this now more than ever.

We were stepping into an unknown territory but one that would fulfill our greatest desires in life and push us to become the best version of ourselves.


(photo courtesy of Joshua Paul Photography)

True freedom relies in complete and utter trust in God’s will for your life. It is allowing God to be the writer of your story, and you the pen. True freedom lies in saying “yes” to Our Lord… together… and continuing to trust in His goodness.

On June 30th Tim and I, while on our honeymoon in Costa Rica, found out that we were expecting our first little one. I have never been filled with more fear or excitement.

On our wedding day we said “yes” to God’s plan for our lives and he provided us with the greatest gift we could ever receive — our first little baby.

My mother-in-law had a beautiful reflection on this gift by explaining that, “The greatest grace that a married couple can receive is the gift of a child. Therefore, the graces must truly have been flowing through your wedding to give you this tremendous gift.”

I have reflected on that statement so much in the past four months. Despite the fear, anxiety, and worry about our little one coming a little earlier than expected and having had only 12 solid hours of just Tim and I in our marriage- what an irreplaceable gift we have been given. Our baby is not ‘worst case scenario’ but rather ‘best case scenario’. After returning to the United States and telling our family, I was struck by an image I received while praying the rosary.

The image was of the visitation between Mary and Elizabeth but instead of Elizabeth being there- I was standing in front of Mary. She looked at me with such joy and just laid her hand on top of my stomach right where my womb is, smiling and giving me the reassurance that she was with me. I stood in front of her smiling and placing my hand over her womb, in total adoration of Jesus within her.

She rejoiced as I was rejoicing in the gift of life. 

As I sit here today, tremendously grateful for this tiny life, I reflect on the words that were sung as I walked down the aisle to Tim on our wedding day….

“Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders, let me walk upon the waters wherever you would call me. Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander. Let my faith be made stronger in the presence of my Savior.”


(photo courtesy of Dana Sebastian)

Little one, you are loved more than you will ever know. We are grateful for you and the gift of realizing that our marriage is about way more than just us. 

I thought nothing would compare to seeing your Dad as I was walking down the aisle…. I was wrong. 

Seeing you for the first time on a big screen forever changed me. 



What Backpacking the Grand Canyon Taught Me about Love


Most of us, in some fashion, crave adventure. For us women, we long to be swooped up and carried on a wonderful adventure with the man of our dreams. For men, they long to: lead, protect, and serve the women who join them on their adventure.

Women want to be captivating.

Men want to be captivated.

What is all the adventure for? Does it actual exist? How can we find OUR adventure?

“I may not be there yet, but I am closer than I was yesterday.”

I want to tell you a story of this one time when I backpacked the Grand Canyon….

I was asked to go with Tim and his family to hike the Grand Canyon, and although I was nervous, I said ‘yes’. As the months flew by and March was approaching, my excitement grew. I finally understood the excitement of Bilbo Baggins in the Hobbit when he yells, “I’M GOING ON AN ADVENTURE.”

What made this more exciting? I was going on it with the man of my dreams.

The thing is? Adventure is great but we just don’t realize how much suffering we may have to endure along the way. If any of you have seen or read The Hobbit, this is definitely true for Bilbo.

The same was also true for me… I wasn’t prepared for the pain I would feel from carrying a backpack and hiking down 8 miles. I wasn’t prepared for the pain in my legs as each day exhausted every muscle in my body.

We always think we’re ready! Right? We think that “our plan is best”, “we know everything”, “we have it all worked out”. Yet, when we make our plans… God laughs.

The first day of the big adventure was amazing! I did much better than I thought! After making it down to the bottom and celebrating by washing our hot and sweaty feet in the cool creek by our campsite, Tim and I shared a victory beer and stayed up late to see the sky glittering with thousands of stars. It was like a dream!

The dream slowly fizzled when the pain of the ascent began. I was hurting in every muscle of my body, no joke.

The climax of this pain came on the very last day, on the steepest part of the canyon, and filled with over 40 switchbacks. I stared in fear at the distance we had to travel and could feel in my legs a soreness from my pack. My silence was piercing and I could tell that Tim was stressed to see me in pain. Tim would look behind to check if I was OK, I would give him a little nod and continue praying my rosary. Hoping that no one would notice how much pain I was in.

Unfortunately, Tim knows me better than that. He kept asking and asking; “how are you doing? Do you want to take a break soon? How does your pack feel?”… I was embarrassed and frustrated so I would just give him the “I don’t want to talk about it” look and continue on very slowly.

It seemed like forever until we could see what remotely looked like the top of the canyon! I hurried as quickly as my slow feet would go and hiked up the remainder of the canyon, with Tim following shortly behind me.

WHAT A RELIEF. I wanted to cry, but I was way too exhausted.

The ride to the airport was filled with quiet music and heavy breathing. Tim’s sister was asleep in the back seat and Tim could sense I was still agitated from the last few miles up the canyon.

My insecurities have always led me to believe that I’m not “enough”. In the silence of the car ride I was telling myself, “you are so weak. He probably would rather be with someone stronger. You aren’t adventuresome enough for him.”

To break the silence, Tim said: “Hey, thanks for coming! I feel really lucky that you would do this with us. I know it wasn’t easy.”

He continued….

“Don’t worry… I’ll always be there to lift your pack and give you a lighter load.”

Immediately I broke down into tears. I was confronting head on the selfishness of my actions. See, we hadn’t talked about it but while we were hiking up the last 4 miles I would occasionally feel a weight lifted off of my legs… during those brief minutes I would feel such amazing relief and couldn’t pin down exactly what it was until we had almost made it to the top.

While behind me, Tim was lifting my pack so that it wasn’t as heavy and I could lift my legs more easily.

I felt SO guilty! While I was consumed in my own pain, Tim was fixated on me.

This is where it gets real….

My brothers and sisters in Christ,

I learned while backpacking the Grand Canyon the true authentic depth of love. I learned that to love another person isn’t just simply the butterflies you feel around them. To love someone is to suffer for them and the ultimate love is to die for them. Christ shows us the depth of His love on Calvary and Tim shows me the depth of his love in both the little sufferings of the Grand Canyon and the big sufferings when he dies to himself in chastity.

I started out as Bilbo Baggins anxious for my adventure, I ended as Frodo being carried by Sam up Mount Doom.  We all take turns in the different roles.

I am not strong enough…. neither is Tim. We need each other to get to Heaven. 

Throughout the past year I have witnessed couples thrive, barely survive, and fizzle out completely. The couples who thrived, always had their sights set on Christ. The couples who fizzled out were relying on the perfection of each other to get through life. Hate to break it to you people- we aren’t perfect and we never will be. 

Christ is perfect.

As I reflected on my plane ride home from the Grand Canyon I came to a major realization…

Only one man other than Tim has ever selflessly lifted my baggage up a mountain… This man cried for me, was whipped because of me, carried a heavy piece of wood stained with my sin, and died upon that same stained piece of wood- for me. 

I understood, finally, that if I am “enough” for the God of the universe to die a painful death for… I am enough for Tim, even in my brokenness and embarrassment.

“Finally, I realized that love includes every vocation, that love is all things, that love is eternal, reaching down through the ages and stretching to the utmost limits of the earth.” Saint Therese of Lisieux

On August 15th, the feast day of the Assumption, Tim got down on one knee and asked me the most important question of my life, “Kileen Ann Willis, I love you. Will you marry me?”

It was truly the best day of my life (so far) and I gladly accepted his request!

Before he asked me this pivotal question he wrote me a series of 3 letters and on the second one he included these words in big bold letters.


My sisters in Christ,

Please don’t settle. Ask the Lord who will bring the best out in you and wait for His response. When you grow tired of waiting, rely on Our Lady. Please PLEASE don’t give up! I desire this for each and every single one of you! To grow old with someone who seeks to bring out CHRIST in you is the greatest adventure of all.

It is WELL worth the wait.

“And so it was that she, after having waited long and endured patiently, realized and obtained what God had promised.” Hebrews 6:15


5 Steps to Healing & Eating Again


1 year ago today, I came clean to my family and closest friends about the habit that was secretly driving me away from God… my eating disorder. It is only appropriate that this post comes during Holy Week and is about a scar that so deeply wounded me. Holy Week is the perfect representation of my journey and shows that every Good Friday brings about an Easter Sunday. In a previous post I told about how God is turning this embarrassing story into my strongest testimony, you can read that post here.

I sit here… a year later…. with joy and happiness knowing that I fought for where I am today.

I remember as vividly as if it were yesterday sitting down with my loved ones and explaining to them, “I haven’t been eating”. Fear told me that there would be anger, resentment, or maybe a few “what were you thinking! You KNEW better!”. Instead? I got all of the support and love in the world. Both of my parents wanted to see me heal and were monumental in the beginning stages of my recovery. It was only a few months ago that I was in the kitchen with my mom and catching her up on the days festivities when I told her, “Mama I have been eating 3 meals a day consistently!”. Later she told me that just hearing that I am eating 3 meals a day, which was nearly impossible for me 10 months earlier, made her want to jump up and down.

Now… I want to outline the 5 steps that helped me eat again and how I got where I am today.

5 steps to help heal from an eating disorder

1. Prayer & Sacraments

This first one is quite obviously the first and most important thing that helped me start eating again. Prayer, more specifically prayer for my future spouse, helped open up the line of communication between myself and Christ and allowed for forgiveness to take place. Only through prayer can true healing happen. In prayer, Christ was calling me into a deeper union with Him through the scar of my sins. He was asking that I leave whatever mangled brokenness I had, at the foot of the cross and He would take care of the rest. The other essential piece to prayer was the participation in the Sacraments. I regularly went to confession and received guidance from spiritual directors on how to tackle the sins which caused my eating disorder. Let me explain, the actual disorder itself was not the sin but was the result of my sins. Meaning, the sin of self-loathing and immense insecurity led me to the action which was to stop eating. Through the grace of confession and Christ’s precious body and blood in the Eucharist, I gained the strength needed to continue my journey towards healing. The sacraments are like what a body builder uses the gym for; strength. I gained strength and the ability to have my will be stronger than my head.

2. Exercise

Growing up I was always told “working out produces endorphins and endorphins makes you happy.” This couldn’t have been more true for me! I have to be honest though, it was recommended that I try this but I was worried about the potential of misusing exercise and it replacing my lack of eating with just an over indulgence of working off the calories. Luckily with prayer I was ready to take this challenge on! (Please note how important step #1 is!) My sweet boyfriend was a good help with this step also! He was my greatest coach and cheerleader as I started to change my lifestyle. He encouraged me even to the point where we signed up to run the Bolder Boulder (10K). This helped me gain strength physically and also helped me get hungry. Hunger = food. I’ll get into accountability more but just know that as I was getting hungry by exercising, I was also being held accountable to consume the meals which would relieve that hunger.

3. Daily offerings

Trying to sit down and have a meal as a person who struggled with disordered eating habits can be extremely tough. What is so natural has gotten so clouded. When my spiritual director and I were first trying to figure out a “game plan” for recovery, he told me that if I were to start trying to eat again I would have a hard time doing it for myself so he suggested that I offer up meals for some greater social injustice. I have been doing this ever since! I offer up breakfasts, lunches, and dinners for social injustice around the world such as: an end to abortion, human/sex trafficking, Christian persecution, and many more. Selfishly I had rejected that which many people around the world are denied or not able to have, now I offer up those meals in thanksgiving for the gifts God has given me.


This step is incredibly vital in those first few months. I had a few people that were holding me accountable to meals including: my spiritual director, my family, and my boyfriend. My spiritual director and I had set up a text exchange system where we could talk everyday at 3:00pm (the hour which Christ died) about what I had eaten already and what I would eat for dinner that night. The catch? Obviously, no lying! This helped me learn what was right for me and how I could balance meals. It was definitely helpful that my spiritual director also had experience in the medical field. 🙂


This step was the hardest to accept because I struggled with such self-loathing. I had to accept the love of Christ despite my shortcomings and also forgive myself for how much I had fallen. I also had to accept the love of my “person”. My boyfriend was hurt because over the past 2 years I had lied, plain and simple. I knew that I hurt him so badly and although he was willing to forgive me, I wasn’t willing to forgive what I had done. I remember so clearly taking a drive and talking about this issue with him and as I cry and cry I told him, “I’m not worthy… I’m not worthy.” He simply said, “you’re strong enough, pick yourself up and fight. I love you and that won’t change.” I had to be accepting of this response to love and forgiveness. Love gives us hope. I recently heard this quote from Father Pedro Arrupe:

Nothing is more practical than finding God, than
falling in Love in a quite absolute, final way.
What you are in love with,
what seizes your imagination, will affect everything.
It will decide  what will get you out of bed in the morning,
what you do with your evenings,
how you spend your weekends,
what you read, whom you know,
what breaks your heart,
and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.
Fall in Love, stay in love,
and it will decide everything.

Love. Christ’s love, the love of my family, the love of my friends, the love of my boyfriend, and the love of my future spouse heals. It is what brought me out of the pit of isolation that I was in and gave me hope.

Whatever struggles you are having, wherever you are coming from, do not give up on love. Do not give up on hope! Christ is fighting for you and with you! Sometimes we just have to pick ourselves up and fight alongside him.

“If God is within her she will not fail.” Psalm 46:5

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How God is Turning My Biggest Embarrassment into My Strongest Testimony

I remember the first time I prayed for my future spouse. I was 11.

I am pretty sure I got the idea from either my older sisters or a chastity talk I had been to in middle school. I wouldn’t be able to tell you exactly where the idea came from… I just did it.

At 11 years old I didn’t know the woman that I would be when I would fall in love with my future spouse. I didn’t know who I would have become in those years or how my relationship with Our Lord would have transformed. I didn’t know who this man was or where he would come from. I didn’t know how he would smile or what sound his laugh would make. I didn’t know much of anything…Except I knew he was out there and he was worth waiting for.

As an 11 year old I also didn’t know the brokenness that I would be carrying into this relationship years down the road, the battles we would have to fight, or the struggles we would have to overcome.

In the [amazing] book called “Woman in Love”, Katie Hartfiel asked this question,

What is your brokenness? Name it. 

This brought me back to last April where I had  to finally name the brokenness that was tearing apart my relationship with God.

This can be summed up into two words…eating disorder.

I struggle everyday with the simplest action of sitting down and having a meal. Yes, that basic human need. Trust me it is as ridiculous as it sounds.

It was only last April, through the grace of confession, that I put a name to the brokenness that was keeping me from God.  My spiritual director sat me down many times throughout the year to ask, “Kileen, are you eating?”. I would reply all offended “Father, of course I am eating! Gosh. Can everyone stop asking me that?”

Yet… that question came up person, after person, after person. My family and friends were growing increasingly concerned over the rapid amount of weight I had lost from my Freshman year of college to my sophomore year. But I refused to listen.

Then I woke up one day last April with the intense desire of wanting to go to confession. This was so weird for me! Although I love the Sacrament it usually takes me days to prepare myself to go to the confessional because I get such bad anxiety beforehand. For some odd reason, this day was different.

In the confessional Father asked me for the millionth time, “Kileen I have to ask because I am your spiritual Father, I care about you…. Are you eating?”

I broke down into tears. I couldn’t lie anymore, I couldn’t fake it.

Throughout the past 2 years I had gotten pretty good at putting on a fake smile and answering the question as if there was no guilty conscious ringing off in my head. I had become used to saying, “Oh no… I walk everywhere so that has really helped me drop a few pounds.”

I was recycling an old lie that was used on me when someone close to me had revealed her eating disorder.

See… the devil knew exactly where to place the sin that I would be too ashamed to share. I didn’t wake up one morning and decide that I wasn’t going to eat anymore. No. It started with my busy life not lending me time to eat breakfast. Then it turned into ‘I’m getting too busy to eat lunch but I’ll have a big dinner’, all up to the point that I was having a smoothie or a few spinach leaves a day. As I stopped eating meal after meal I noticed a change in my body. Sadly, I liked it.

There was still a deep shame inside. After all, my entire reversion was built on ‘rediscovering’ my beauty. In the past I had enjoyed explaining to other woman that they were dignified beautiful creations of God! Yet, here I was. Feeling “satisfied” with the growling of an empty stomach as if it was some victory. While a voice inside said, ” You are a disappointment. You are a failure. You are broken.”

I kept the secret. I isolated the voice of Christ telling me to give Him this brokenness. I felt that if I just shut His voice out, I wouldn’t have to feel guilty or ashamed. It actually increased both.

I wasn’t willing to give up everything for Christ. I was still holding onto a “vision” of my body and along the way I was hurting so many people close to me. They felt lied to… And rightly so.

Why am I telling you this story? 

Well. The man who I began praying for as that 11 year old girl was the same man who helped me heal my own brokenness.

On the day of this same confession, Father continued his spiritual guidance and asked this question, “Do you want to have kids?” My response was a loud and proud yes! He explained gently that if I were to continue denying my body its most basic necessity, I could lose my chance at motherhood.

My heart dropped.

How selfish of me.

Christ was opening up a desire in my heart that was far deeper and held more meaning to me than the size of jeans I wear. I had always desired to be a faithful wife and loving mother, but for some odd reason I didn’t connect my own eating habits with my future marriage and family. One thing I really want to stress is that if I were to have tried to heal purely for me, I would have never started my recovery. In thinking of myself I was led only to self harm and isolation. It was in thinking of the man who God had created with me in mind, the man who Our Lord knew would lead me safely back to Him, that I was able to step outside of my selfishness and name the sin that was keeping me tucked away in darkness.

It was love, namely love Himself, who brought me back into the light.

I was praying daily again. I opened up my first prayer in a little while for my future husband. I prayed that he would forgive my failures. I prayed that I could be the wife he deserved. I prayed for the ability to still be able to have children in the future and if God allows that, I prayed that my children would learn from my mistakes.

It was prayers for my Husband-to-be that began a slow and steady ‘yes’ from God… He was telling me over and over again, “You are enough”.

Months later I still look at the front cover of the journal I bought while beginning my road to recovery, and on it says;

“To You Lord, I am enough”.

I still carry the scar of my own self harm. I still struggle with eating. Sometimes I still even cringe at the feeling of being full. And no… This disorder isn’t glamorous like the store Urban Outfitters would have you think. They would like to de-sensitize it to make you buy a fashion tee that says “eat less”.

But there’s hope…

For me it began with Christ. He brought me back into the light to name the very sin that was leaving me crippled. It was painful and the first few months were exhausting, some days still are. But as Saint Paul wrote in Romans 8:18, “The pain you’ve been feeling, can’t compare to the joy that’s coming.”

The joy of a fruitful and holy marriage that will lead me back to my Heavenly Father is the joy I pray will come. To my future husband, thank you. Your existence alone gave me inspiration to live not just for myself, but for what may come.

This struggle will not become my identity. Because even the tragedy of the cross, Christ turned into His greatest victory.

This is my cross.

“And he said to all, if any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23

Please pray for me, know I am praying for you as well.


Battle of the TV Proposals


Embarrassingly enough I watched the entire season of abc’s “The Bachelorette” which ended with Andi Dorfman, the current “Bachelorette”, getting engaged to a former professional baseball player named Josh. I know I know. This show isn’t really known for it’s success in marriages. Neither does it display chastity (really of any kind) and its pretty dang unrealistic. Normal people don’t fly through the Mediterranean for their first few dates, something more along the lines of dinner and a movie with a budget sounds more like it. I guess my hope is that maybe someday there will be a couple that strives to live a virtuous life of love through Our Lord, because it has happened before! Check out Sean Lowe and his wife if you don’t believe me. Anyway… This season ended in beautiful Dominican Republic with a romantic proposal. Let me tell ya….

I am a sucker for good proposals.

You got it. Tears and all.

The strange thing was that while watching the much anticipated Bachelorette proposal, I didn’t shed a single tear. Not one! Don’t get me wrong, josh said some really beautiful things and their love could truly be genuine. I even had some “awe” moments. But the reality was that some of the things he said really didn’t strike me to the core like the proposal of Jill Duggar and Derick Dillard from the TV show “19 Kids and Counting”.

As I was talking with my sister and telling her about how strange it was that I cried watching the proposal of Jill and Derick but not the infamous “Bachelorette” proposal, one would think that with all the hype the Bachelorette makes, it would result in a crazy romantic proposal that would bring any girly girl to tears. I realized as I was talking what the huge difference was…. God being the writer of your love story or not.

During the Bachelorette, the proposal was filled with phrases like, “I am so passionate about you…We have so much passion…we have so much chemistry…I fell in love with you on the first night I saw you….” So on and so forth. God wasn’t mentioned at all. Our Lord is LOVE, therefore; how can you fully love someone without involving love Himself?

I remember being glued to the TV as Derick Dillard got down on one knee to ask Jill Duggar to marry him and honor him by, “serving Our Lord with him for the rest of his life.” Even before he got down on one knee, the viewers listened to a beautiful song that was written specifically for the couple detailing their love story. The lyrics went along the lines, “when He made you, it was obvious He was thinking of me”. Isn’t that a beautiful phrase you want to hear on the day you get engaged? The assurance that God had been the writer of your love story! The confidence that God was thinking of you when He created your future spouse. If you want to hear it click here.

Shortly after the proposal the couple went back to the Duggar home to announce their engagement. What was the first thing the family did in celebration? They gathered in prayer.

“Therefore what God has joined together, let no man separate.” Matthew 19:6

A couple who prays together, stays together. It may be entertaining to see the grandeur of ‘love’ displayed on the Bachelorette but without the direction of Our Lord channeling the relationship, it may be like a river without boundaries. The river that lacks boundaries will have no end result and will go in every direction, where as the river with boundaries will flow more smoothly and have a place where it inevitably ends. For Christian relationships this inevitable end is Heaven, and the boundaries that keep us steady on that path are our virtues. Chastity is a biggie. These boundaries aren’t meant to be restrictive, but rather they allow freedom to exist in the relationship. The freedom to leave the relationship if it’s not a good fit because you aren’t physically attached, or the freedom to choose the path to sanctification which is the path of chastity with your beloved. Our Lord asks not only, “Will you accept this rose?” … But asks…”Will you accept both this rose AND these thorns?”

How will you respond?

“If there is any encouragement in Christ, any solace in love, any participation in the Spirit, any compassion and mercy,complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing.
Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but everyone for those of others. Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus, Who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.” Philippians 2: 1-6