My father was the product of a marriage that lasted about five minutes. According to family lore, the ink wasn’t dry on the marriage license before the d-word came up. The breach in his parents’ marriage had a lasting effect on Dad. The healing came when he realized that God had called him into being despite the circumstances of his conception, despite the animosity that existed between his parents. Even though his parents’ refusal to speak to one another lasted sixty years, Dad knew that God had a plan for him.
My sister and I are 10 ½ months apart in age. I wasn’t in the plan – at least not the plan my parents had set into place. My mother was into her fifth month of pregnancy before she would wear maternity clothes or admit to anyone that another child was on the way.
I know how she felt. It’s how I felt when my third child was born before the middle child was two and the older child was four. But my discomfiture went far beyond the spacing issues. The circumstances surrounding the conception are still painful and something I keep private. Bottom line, I did not want to be pregnant.
Talk about a long line of less-than-ideal conceptions. Dad. Me. My daughter. The world would probably give its nod to terminating any pregnancy conceived in these circumstances.
The world is wrong.
I learned about unconditional love from my father. He was the first and best example I have experienced of the love our Heavenly Father has for His children. As a Protestant pastor, Dad lived and shared the Gospel message. He was an evangelical with a heart for ecumenism. What a great combination! His suffering and death sent me on a journey that ended with my entry into Mother Church. He taught me to love God and follow Him – no matter where the journey took me.
Dad’s life was a gift to everyone he met.
I am the mother of four children. At the age of 40, I entered the Catholic Church. To date, I have written articles for 43 diocesan newspapers, shared my conversion story with numerous parishes, been a guest on two EWTN programs, and been interviewed on so many radio shows that I have lost count. I have taught hundreds of students over the years. I continue to write, teach, and pour myself into my children, grandchildren, students and readers. I have a passion for the New Evangelization and ecumenism. I learned from my father that these two are completely compatible. Two sides to the same coin. My greatest joy is sharing the faith.
I hope my life is a gift to everyone I meet.
My third child is a free spirit. We laugh at the things she’s tried. Soccer. Flute. Swimming. Fencing. Guitar. Community college. Massage school. Dog grooming. My daughter, the free spirit, is a gift from God.
She moved back home about a year ago, along with her two sons. She isn’t married. Hasn’t ever been married. After a long day, she lays one baby down in a crib in one corner and another baby in a toddler bed in the other corner and then climbs into her own bed. It isn’t ideal. The guest room was never designed to be used as a home for this little family. We are all tired and used to capacity. Bottles line the top shelf of the dishwasher. Laundry is going around the clock. Babies cry out in the middle of the night. Every day is a new adventure into the many ways a day can deviate from a plan.
We are living out the call to respect life. We believe that all human life is precious to God. Each life is a gift from God to the world.
I don’t know what God has in mind for those two little boys. All I know is this: God made them, just as surely as He made my dad and me and my daughter – because the value of a life has nothing to do with how it is conceived. Human life has value because it is made in the image of God.
Life is a gift from God. Our pledge to be a people of life does not end with the birth of a baby. We show that we are a people of life every day because each life is a gift from God to the world.