Ask, Seek, Knock

“And I tell you, ask and you will receive;
seek and you will find;
knock and the door will be opened to you.
For everyone who asks, receives;
and the one who seeks, finds;
and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
What father among you would hand his son a snake
when he asks for a fish?
Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg?
If you then, who are wicked,
know how to give good gifts to your children,
how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit
to those who ask him?”
Luke 11:9-13
I was moved with gratitude and faith when I read the Gospel reading yesterday.  I had always wanted to stay home when I had kids.  It seemed like it wasn’t a possibility when we had Henry, and it didn’t seem like it was going to be possible when we had Joseph, either.  This has been a prayer, though, for as long as I can remember.  And God has opened the door for this to happen.
God has invited us out of the boat of our comfort of me working.  I never would have said it was comfortable while I was working, but now that I had to say no to working, I have realized what a comfort it was to us.  We are taking a leap of faith – with Him – and I am going to stay home with Henry and Joseph.  I still have to work.  I am not working full time, though, and I will be able to be home with Henry and Joseph more.  We stopped daycare, as well.  We are praying and trusting God will provide the work our family needs.
God has answered our prayer.  It is not in a way I would have thought, but He remained faithful to His words spoken in this reading.  And for this, I am so grateful.  He is faithful.  He is trustworthy.  He is compassionate.  He is merciful.
Another part of the reading that stood out to me was that God will give the Holy Spirit to me if I ask Him.  God has been inviting me into a deeper relationship with the Holy Spirit lately so I know He is deepening that invitation by telling me these words.
Lord, I boldly ask you to fill me with the Holy Spirit.  Open my heart, mind, and soul to the Holy Spirit.  Fill me with the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit.  Help me to decrease so you may increase.  Banish all fear out of me.  May the Holy Spirit be alive in me to bring others to You.  Show me the charisms of the Holy Spirit you have given to me.  Develop them in me and use them.  Come, Holy Spirit.  May the Holy Spirit be alive in our family.  Holy Spirit, work through Craig and me to bring Henry and Joseph to our Father and to form Henry and Joseph.
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Encountering Christ

Growing up my faith was always important to me.  I knew faith was important.  I knew it by the way my parents lived out their faith.  I knew it by the fact that they sent me to Catholic school and that I had religion class everyday.  I knew it by the way my parents had my family live out our faith.  What I didn’t realize was that my faith wasn’t just a way to live, a set of rules to follow, or guidelines to go by.  My faith is meant for me to encounter Christ and to live in a personal and loving relationship with him.

I was so reminded of this this weekend at my brother, Jeff’s, wedding to Marianne.  Jeff and Marianne have met Jesus Christ and have let Him transform their hearts.  It is evident by their joy, their genuine presence to others, their priority for prayer in their day, and their love for each other and others.  When Marianne started walking down the aisle, Jeff’s face lit up with the biggest smile.  It wasn’t just a smile.  It wasn’t just happiness.  It was joy — Christ’s joy.  It still brings tears to my eyes seeing how joy filled he was.

I feel like my first encounter with the person of Jesus when I truly opened my heart to receive Him was during adoration.  I was in adoration at the Newman Center in college.  I was praying, and I knew so deeply in my heart He wanted a relationship with me.  It was there, in the silence, in His presence, He knocked on the door of my heart, and I finally opened my heart to Him.

Henry and Joseph,

I pray with my whole heart, mind, and soul that you may encounter Christ.  I pray that you may encounter Him, His love for you, His mercy for you, His compassion for you, His kindness, gentleness, and patience for you.  Your Catholic faith is meant to help you to encounter Him.  May you encounter Him in the silence of your prayer and of your day.  May you encounter Him in the sacraments, through His Blessed Mother Mary, through the saints and angels, in the Mass, in adoration, in the Bible.  May you encounter Him through your Dad and me, your family, your friends, your teachers, priests and religious, strangers.  May you encounter Him and let Him in.  Let Him in to your heart and spend time with Him, talk to Him, listen to Him, receive from Him, do things for Him.  Let Him in.  Nothing will ever be the same.

I love you with my whole heart,

Mom

 

Brothers

Henry loves his little brother, Joseph.  He loves saying ‘Doe!’ (for Joseph), pointing at him, and moving his hand at him to come with him.  It is so sweet to watch him love on his little brother.  It is so pure and genuine.  Here are some ways he has been loving his brother:

One of the first days Joseph was home, he was crying.  Henry walked over to Joseph’s toys and brought one over to Joseph to help him to calm down.  It was so thoughtful and melted mine and Craig’s hearts.

He likes to explore and try out Joseph’s pacifier.

He likes lying on Joseph’s play activity mat when Joseph is on it, too.

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He wants Joseph to come outside and play with him.

He wants to watch me change Joseph’s diaper and feed him.

When Henry holds Joseph, he will give him kisses on his head, tummy, or feet.  It’s almost as if he gets so overwhelmed with love he wants to hug him all over.

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When Henry is upstairs playing in the closet, he always wants Joseph to come in with him.

Joseph loves his big brother, too.  It is already a very special relationship between them.  We love you boys so so much and love watching you together.

Joseph’s Name

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Joseph Miles — 1 week old

Craig and I spent a lot of time praying and thinking of a name for Joseph.  We discussed lots of names and went back and forth between 3-4 names before deciding on Joseph.  We had a feeling we wouldn’t decide up until right around when he was born depending on what day he was born.

In April, Fran gifted us with a name consultation with Kate at sanctanomina.net.  We were so excited to receive this and to hear what she had to say.  I gave her a list of names of our current children, names we had been considering, names we wouldn’t use for whatever reason, and names of saints we possibly wanted to honor in a name.

Here is Kate’s response:

“I was most struck by the last part of your email, where you listed the saints you love: Mary, St. Josemaria Escriva, St. Joseph, and St. John Paul II. Specifically, my mind started clicking over St. Josemaria and how to work with that. Josemaria is a combination of Jose and Maria, which of course are Joseph and Mary in Spanish—and you have Joseph and Mary on the list of saints you love! So my first—and heartiest—suggestion would be for you to name your little guy Joseph (you had Joseph in the list of names you like anyway!), which covers St. Joseph and could cover St. Josemaria as well, but especially if you make the middle name something to do with Mary. Possibilities include:

  • Joseph Mario or Joseph Mariano—neither Mario nor Mariano are etymologically related to Mary, but they’ve both been used for a long time as a male form of Mary.
  • Joseph Miles—I don’t know if you’ve come across any of the many many many (!) times I’ve tried to push Miles on expectant parents, but I love so much that it’s got traditional usage in Ireland as an anglicization of the old Irish name Maolmhuire, which means, literally, “servant of the Virgin Mary.”
  • Joseph Mercer—one of my name books (Oxford Dictionary of First Names by Hanks, Hardcastle, and Hodges) says that Mercer (a last name derived from the Old French for “trader”—mercier) “may sometimes also have been chosen as a kind of male equivalent of mercy,” which would be really cool because it could be a nod to Our Lady of Mercy—in keeping with trying to come up with a combo that mirrors Josemaria—and it can also be a nod to the Divine Mercy pope, JP2, which would work in all your favorite saints!
  • Joseph Marion—you could totally channel John Wayne—who was born Marion Robert Morrison—by using Marion as a middle name!
  • Joseph Maria—this would be the most explicit way to honor St. Josemaria in English. Mary/Marie/Maria as a middle name for boys used to be a traditional practice, especially in Europe, but I’ve seen hardcore Catholic parents do so recently too. I’ve love for that tradition to come back!
  • Joseph Marriot(t) or Joseph Murray—both Marriot(t) and Murray have ties to Our Lady: Marriot(t) is an English surname derived from an old diminutive of Mary (Mary-ot), and Murray comes from the Irish Mac Giolla Mhuire (son of the servant of Mary), which is anglicized as Kilmurray, Kilmary, Kilmurry, and MacElmurry. Murray is the “Mary” part and has become a surname in its own right.

Those are my ideas for how you can incorporate your favorite saints into your son’s name, and Joseph was actually listed as a style match for Henry in the Baby Name Wizard book (which, as you may know, I almost always use in my consultations as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity), so I think it’s a really great option for you.

As for the other names on your list, I love them all—your list looks very similar to my own in case I’m ever blessed with more boys!

You have a really great list and great ideas, and I think the Joseph M. option is amazing and perfect, but of course I can always come up with more! 😀 Based on my research in the BNW using the names on your list and Henry’s name, what would you think of:

(1) Edmund/Edmond or Edward

Edward’s actually a style match for Henry, Joseph, William, and George; Edmund for Benedict; and Edmond for Conrad—all great, saintly names! St. Edmund Campion’s awesome, as is St. Edward the Confessor. They all remind me a bit of Benedict, because I’ve seen Ned as a nickname for Benedict, and Ned is also a traditional nickname for the Ed- names. I know a little Eddie too, which is really cute, and Ted is also a traditional nickname for Edward.

(2) Theodore

Speaking of Ted (and Ned and Ed), Theodore—which can be nicked Ted—was another good match for your style. It has that sort of Brit feel that I get from Henry, and Ted(dy)’s super cute; Theo’s another great option. Theodore also has the awesome meaning “gift of God.”

(3) Thomas

Thomas was a style match for Joseph, Stephen, Peter, William, Michael, and James! While Tommy’s a cute nickname, most of the little Thomases I know go by the full Thomas (including my oldest). Lots of good patrons to choose from too! St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Thomas More are two favorites of my family.

(4) Charles

Charles is another traditional, gentlemanly name like the ones on your list, with an added bit of sparkle: It’s the English version of John Paul II’s birth name (Karol). I’ve known many little ones named Charles in honor of JP2 (including my youngest!), so this could be a way you nod to him without using John Paul itself (since John Paul wasn’t on your list, I assume you don’t care for it). As a slight tangent, I find Benedict on your list to be somewhat difficult to pair a middle name with, because there are so many initials that are potentially problematic, but BC is a fine pairing, so I really love the combo Benedict Charles. Two awesome popes in one!

(5) Oliver

My last idea for you is Oliver, a match for Henry, Simon, and Peter. I love Oliver! St. Oliver Plunkett is a great patron, and it can also be a nod to Our Lady of Olives (I love Marian names for boys!). Henry and Oliver are a darling set of brothers!”

Super fun!  This gave us lots to think about in regards to Joseph’s name.  When I sent the consultation to Craig, he immediately responded, “Joseph Miles”.  That was the name that stood out to me, too.  We still didn’t decide, though, until the night before our baby was born.

When we found out I was going to be induced on the Assumption of Mary, it helped us to decide on the name Joseph Miles.  We felt we were honoring Mary, St. Joseph, and St. Josemaria Escriva.  We feel as though they are all great patrons for our son and great role models for him to learn from, to intercede for him, and to be like.  We like the meaning of the names Joseph and Miles.  Joseph is also a family name.

Husband, Father, Provider

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I am so grateful for my husband.

It is truly inspiring to watch Craig.  I try my very best to always notice all he does for me and our boys.  I know I fail at times, but I try so I can always show him my gratitude for all he does for our family and for others.

It is moments like these transitions in our lives and our family’s life that I see God’s grace showering through him.  He is a natural.  He is a servant leader.  And he allows God to work through him as husband, father, and provider.

My heart is filled with so much awe and wonder at him during this current transition to being a family of four.  During labor, he stayed at my side and kept asking me what I needed or how he could help me.  During our hospital stay, he naturally, selflessly, and lovingly cared for our new baby.  He is a proud father and loves to share his children with others.

From the moment we have arrived home from the hospital, he hasn’t stopped.  I keep thinking maybe after he finishes this task he will take a break, but he doesn’t.  He is anticipating the needs of our family when I can’t do very much right now and is fulfilling them.  He has cleaned our house, done laundry, made meals, made sure I am resting and healing, gotten me water, changed diapers, kept our prayer routine, took Henry, nieces, and nephews to the park, taken care of a sick child, gone to the grocery store, worked on inputting data from surveys for St. Joseph’s, worked on stuff for teaching, and more.  I don’t know how he does it all.  It is evident God has made him to be a husband, father, and provider.  And I know he takes those roles very seriously.  And I can see God working through him to love me and our boys.

Lord, I am so grateful and humbled that you called me to be Craig’s wife and that you called him to be the father of my children.

Joseph Miles Pytleski

We are so glad he is here!

After 6 days past my due date, Dr. Wurtz scheduled for me to have an induction when I went to see him on Monday.  We scheduled it for Tuesday morning at 6:30.  Craig and I brought Henry to Nana and Papa’s Monday evening after mass and had a low key evening at home that night.

Tuesday morning we headed in to St. Elizabeth’s.  We got there a little before 6:30.  We couldn’t check in right away because there were a few other deliveries that came up.  Around 7:15 the nurse came and brought us to one of the rooms.  We were in a great corner room with a nice view.  Craig prayed for a nice view on the way to the hospital, and his prayer was answered.  Since they were so busy that morning, they weren’t able to start my induction until around 9:40.  I was only about 2 cm dilated at this point.  Dr. Wurtz said he would come back around lunch time to break my water since I wasn’t dilated very much.  He wanted my contractions to get started and hopefully get me dilated more.  My contractions quickly became more regular and started to pick up in intensity.  Around 11:40 the nurse, Julie, checked me.  I was about 4 cm dilated.  Julie called for me to get an epidural at that time.  Shortly after my epidural close to 12:30, Dr. Wurtz broke my water.  Dr. Wurtz said he had nothing going on that night, and the clinic closed at 3 so it wouldn’t be a problem for him to get back to the hospital.  Craig asked Julie what time she guessed I’d have the baby based on how I was progressing.  She guessed around 5:30.  Craig and I were able to rest a little bit figuring we’d have some time before I’d have to start pushing.  Around 2:40, Julie came back in to check me.  She said I was fully dilated.  She said she’d go call Dr. Wurtz to come in.  She quickly got everything ready.  I couldn’t believe how fast I dilated.  I don’t think she could either.  Dr. Wurtz and a team of nurses quickly arrived in the room, and I was ready to begin pushing.  I pushed for about 30 minutes.  And then Joseph was born.

Joseph was born at 3:24, during the hour of Divine Mercy on the feast of the Assumption.  He weighed 7 lb 12.4 oz. and was 20 3/4 in. long.  He has a head full of brown hair and dark blue eyes.

Immediately they placed him on me.  I was so so grateful for how smoothly everything went and for a healthy little baby.  Craig’s parents and my Mom were able to come in to the delivery room following Joseph’s birth to meet him.  We  are so in love and grateful for the gift of Joseph to us.

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Charisms

As a part of the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit in the Family apostolate Craig and I joined, we are currently discerning our charisms.  Charisms are spiritual gifts given to Christians by the Holy Spirit.  We receive them from the Holy Spirit at Baptism and Confirmation.  They are meant to be shared with others to be channels of God’s love and presence in the world.

During the prayer portion of the retreat we were on last weekend, the prayer team focused on helping us to pray for our charisms and to discern the ones we have been gifted.  I think knowing my charisms will help me to be more intentional about sharing them within my own family to bring them closer to Christ and to be intentional about sharing them with others.

Craig and I took a Spiritual Gifts Inventory through the St. Catherine of Siena Institute to help guide us as we discern what charisms we have been given.  I am really enjoying learning more about the charisms and how I can be more open to sharing these gifts God gave me with others so that He can work through me to bring others closer to Him.

When I took the inventory, my top 5 possible charisms are:

Faith — empowers a Christian to be an effective agent of God’s purposes through an unusual trust in the love, power, and provision of God and a remarkable freedom to act on this trust

Helps — empowers a Christian to be a channel of God’s goodness by using his or her talents and charisms to enable other individuals to serve God and people more effectively

Encouragement — empowers a Christian to be an effective channel of God’s love – nurturing others through his or her presence and words of comfort, encouragement, and counsel

Hospitality — empowers a Christian to be a generous channel of God’s love by warmly welcoming and caring for those in need of food, shelter, and friendship

Intercessory Prayer — empowers the intense prayer of a Christian for others to be the means by which God’s love and deliverance reaches those in need

I am also asking God for the charism of wisdom so that I may be able to share His wisdom with my family and with others.

I love that God is so generous and shares His gifts with us.  He doesn’t need us to do any of these things.  He can do it all by Himself.  But He allows us through His love and mercy to be His channels of His grace, love, and mercy so others may experience and encounter Him.  It reminds me of the boy in John 6:9 in the multiplication of the loaves —

“There is a boy here who has five barley loaves.”

Jesus did not need the loaves from the boy.  He could have got the loaves Himself.  He is God.  But He allowed and invited the boy to be on mission with Him.  The same is true of me.

Come Holy Spirit.  Help me to discern the charisms you have given to me.  Develop the charisms in me.  May I always use your charisms to bring others to Christ.

The Ultimate Goal of Fatherhood

This weekend, Craig and I attended a retreat for the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit in the Family apostolate we recently joined after moving to Lincoln.  The retreat was designed to help us discern our charisms to share with our families.  Friday night was spent learning about the role and mission of the family.  Saturday morning we went to mass, had brunch together as a group, and prayed the rosaries individually as families in the evening.  Sunday afternoon was spent in Adoration with a prayer team present.

Logan Burda helped lead our retreat.  He spoke Friday night and was on the prayer team Sunday afternoon.  One takeaway I had from the retreat was from some of his research and education regarding fatherhood with us.  He had a paragraph that he shared with us regarding the family and fathers that was very thought provoking:

“In the Church’s Magisterial Documents, the family is called: the domestic church, the church in miniature, the church of the home, and the believing and evangelizing community.  St. John Paul II said that “the future of humanity passes by way of the family”.  Pope Benedict XVI further stated that “the New Evangelization depends largely on the domestic church”.  Dads cannot neglect their role as the priest of their own family. By virtue of their baptismal priesthood, fathers are called to lead their family in modeling, instructing, and forming their children in the faith. When dads neglect being the spiritual leader of the family, studies consistently show nosedives in the percentages of children who retain the faith in adulthood.  Jesus’ mission for every Catholic is to make disciples who understand God’s plan from the beginning to be fruitful and multiply His image in the world.  For a father, this means his ultimate goal is not only to get his children to  heaven but to form them in such a way that they are equipped to get their children to heaven as well as their children to heaven, etc.”

I always knew the importance of fathers and have had a great respect and appreciation for them.  I know their importance over their children’s lives.  This weekend, God made it even more evident in my heart their role and mission.  As parents our goal is to get our children to heaven.  But even more so, our goal is make disciples of our children.  I know it is my role as his wife and the mother of our children to  help support and pray for Craig to carry out this mission.

Logan was talking about how at parishes, a lot of women will pray for their priest/s.  This made me think about how I can do this for Craig, specifically for his fatherhood for our family.  I pray for Craig as a dad daily, but I am going to begin praying for his fatherhood for our family more intentionally.

Lord, thank you for the gift of Craig.  Thank you for calling me to be his wife and to be the father of our children.  I beg you to reveal to Him your love for him as your son and that he may always find his identify as a son of God.  I ask you to teach him what it means to be a dad.  Help him to model, instruct, and form Henry and our baby in the faith so they may come to know you personally and may come to know your unconditional love and mercy for them.  Help Craig to lead and guide our family to You.  Open his heart to receive your gifts and charisms to help him be the dad and the man you are calling him to be. Form and mold Craig’s heart to be like our Heavenly Father’s heart.  May Craig be a prayerful, virtuous, merciful, faithful, and loving father who strives to imitate our Heavenly Father.  May be lead and disciple our children so they may disciple their children for generations to come.  Amen.

Summer fun

Whew! Where did the summer go?!  It has been a full, fun, and blessed summer for us at the Pytleski home.  It was busy still transitioning to being in a new home and in a new city.  Craig spent lots of evenings and weekends painting, organizing the garage, and cleaning up the yard.  We spent some time getting ready for Baby P’s arrival.  We got to spend some time with friends and building community here in Lincoln.  It has all been so wonderful.  Since I didn’t update the blog regularly this summer, here are some fun summer things we did that were caught in photo.

Ice cream

Henry ate his first ice cream cone this summer.  Here is his first one, followed by several more — usually from Runza.  He loves ice cream.

sit and spin

Henry had lots of fun with his toys this summer.  Henry got a sit-and-spin from one of my coworkers.  He is starting to spin himself on it.

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We were able to go to the Children’s Museum a few times this summer.  We had to get a picture with the Union Bank pretend play area since Dad works there.

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More fun at the museum with Pops, Grammy, and Aunt Ellie.

sunken gardens

Here we are at the Sunken Gardens.

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Craig and Henry on Father’s Day.

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Henry liked going to the zoo this summer.  He loved seeing all the animals.

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I love these pictures of Craig and Henry.  We got Henry a t-ball set this summer.  He loves playing with it.  This was the first night we played with it.  Craig loved teaching Henry how to play.  He said this is what dads dream of doing with their sons.  It was so sweet.  Now Henry is hitting the ball all by himself.  We also got him a golf set, which he mostly plays with in the basement.  He says “Yay!” every time he hits the ball.  I think Craig feels the same way about teaching Henry to golf as he does baseball.

Dear Baby P

We are anxiously anticipating your arrival.  Your due date is in 4 days.  Daddy thought you were going to come today.  I said I think you’ll come on Monday.  If you follow your big brother’s footsteps, you’ll come a few days after your due date.  As we wait excitedly to meet you, we are praying for you, I am feeling and loving your every move, kick, and hiccup, and we are loving you.

Henry has started to say ‘baby’.  He points to you in my tummy and to all our baby stuff in the house and says ‘baby’.  He kisses and hugs you in my tummy.  You are going to love your big brother.  He is excited to meet you.  Dad asks Henry to try to same the names we are thinking of for you.  Henry always tries to say them back to us.

I have been praying for you every day.  Dad and I prayed for you before you were in my womb.  We have prayed for you every day since we knew we were pregnant with you.  You are a gift to us from God.  I thank Him every day for your life.  I pray for a safe and healthy delivery.  I pray for your heart, mind, soul, and body.  I pray for your vocation.  I pray you may come to know Jesus, to love Him, and to serve Him.  I pray you will be a man of God, a man who strives to imitate Him, and a man who strives to be in relationship with Him.  I pray you will be a man of character and of virtue.

I will always try my best to be the very best mom I can be to you and for you.  My heart is already full of so much love for you, and I know it’ll only grow each and every day.  You are so loved already.  I love you, and I will see you soon.