|“I realized how I needed to change to be a better wife and mother. I began to truly embrace my faith. As this love affair with Christ unfolded, I began to live in hope."|
“I graduated from the Familia program four years ago.
As I look back over the past years, I stand
in awe of how wonderful God truly is. I thank
him every day for sending us Familia, because I know
that without it, we would have continued in that devastating
downward spiral.” --Cheryl Carlson
Cheryl and Trent Carlson share a love
story, but not just any love story. When they reached
their lowest point, full of disillusionment, mutual estrangement, and broken
hopes, God gave them a second chance, renewing their love
and restoring their fertility. The story of their new love
for each other is really the story of God’s love
for both of them.
Invited to Abort
From the very start
of their marriage, Cheryl and Trent had overcome special challenges
with the help of prayer. Cheryl conceived twins during their
honeymoon, and the medical complications began almost immediately. One of
the boys had cystic hygroma, a lymphatic chromosomal disease, and
the doctors were predicting a less than 5% chance of
survival. She was advised by doctors and specialists to abort
the sick baby immediately to save the other baby’s life.
and Trent firmly refused, and their friends and family members
began offering prayers and Masses for them, begging God for
a miracle. After 24 weeks, an ultrasound revealed that the
cystic hygroma had somehow disappeared. The doctors could not explain
But the battle wasn’t over yet. Another medical complication had
reared its ugly head: one of the babies was giving
all of his nutrients to the other baby in a
“twin-twin transfusion.” If this continued, the weaker twin would not
live beyond 26 weeks.
Three weeks later, after many more
prayers, the results of another test revealed a surprising new
development: the weaker baby had made a dramatic leap in
growth, and was now healthy. In time, Cheryl delivered identical
twins in perfect health.
That was only the first chapter
of their love story with God.
A Bad Choice
babies were born healthy, but as time went by, Cheryl
and Trent’s marriage began to sicken. Then came the bad
Wearied by the stress and expense of their first childbearing
experience, Trent had decided to avoid future complications by getting
a vasectomy. Cheryl had her misgivings, but gave in after
three months of fighting about it. Tense times had put
their marriage to the test and she wasn’t even sure
she wanted to stay with him anymore.
“Finally I said
fine. At this point, I knew we were not going
to be married forever, so what did it matter? I
really thought I had made a terrible mistake in marrying
Trent. I thought, how could God do this to me?”
After the vasectomy, their relationship spiraled down. They fought
over religion, Catholic education, and going to Mass. Over time,
an embittered silence set in between them.
“We drifted further and
further apart,” says Cheryl. “We were growing out of love.
We knew divorce was not the answer, but it was
beginning to look more like a reality.”
as the situation had reached its lowest point, a friend
invited Cheryl to participate in a Familia study group. She
went to an informational meeting, felt deeply drawn to the
group, and even wanted to be a facilitator.
prayed about it, I thought, I am not knowledgeable enough
in my faith, my marriage is a disaster, my husband
has a vasectomy, and I am not worthy to facilitate
this program.” But after three days, she decided to give
it a try.
The results in her own soul were dramatic.
She had been searching for the truth, and she recognized
it in the teachings of John Paul II. She began
“I realized how I needed to change to
be a better wife and mother. I began to truly
embrace my faith. As this love affair with Christ unfolded,
I began to live in hope,” she says.
But after a
lesson about openness to life, depression settled in. The awareness
of what she and Trent had done began to hit
her. She felt lonely in her marriage, alone with the
realization that they had closed themselves off to life. After
an emotional breakdown, she realized that she needed God’s help
to change not only herself, but also her husband.
As the weeks of her Familia study went
by, Cheryl began to turn to prayer like never before.
She began going to daily Mass, prayed the Rosary every
day, and went to weekly adoration. She also started a
54-day Rosary novena for Trent’s conversion.
At the end of her
novena, as they lay in bed together one night, Trent
confided that he regretted the vasectomy and said that he
wished it had never happened. In the darkness, tears of
|“Slowly we started praying as a couple and as a family."|
gratitude and joy streamed down Cheryl’s face. The ice was
melting, and new life was stirring. Difficulty and tension was
still in the air, but Trent was coming back to
“Slowly we started praying as a couple and as a
family. God was becoming a real presence in our lives.
But he too was in a hurry. He wanted us
to be happy,” she says.
Another Miracle for Life
as Cheryl and Trent were visiting some Familia friends, the
husband, Rob, brought up the topic of vasectomy reversals.
knew we were having marital problems, and I think that
Rob suspected that Trent had had a vasectomy,” Cheryl says.
Rob shared the experience of his own vasectomy reversal and
offered Trent a pamphlet from an organization called “One More
Soul” (OneMoreSoul.com). Both of them were astonished by the negative
health consequences of a vasectomy.
Shortly after, Trent joined his
own men’s Familia group and decided to get a vasectomy
“A lot of things came together,” Trent says. “I felt
that getting the reversal might help our marriage, and I
never wanted to face God knowing that I didn’t do
everything possible to correct this horrible choice.”
The couple was
short on money, so they prayed another 54-day Rosary novena
for the funds. Unexpectedly, the money came in. It was
what they needed, to the penny.
The date of the surgery
was August 29, 2000. Just before the procedure, the staff
at Dr Cary Leverett’s office in New Braunfels, Texas, gathered
around Trent and prayed that God would guide the doctor’s
hands and create new life again.
Within three months, the
Carlson’s conceived, and their baby boy, Jordan Aloysius, was born
on August 2, 2001. Since then, they have had two
more children, bringing the total to five.
Looking back, both Trent
and Cheryl see the hand of God at work, saving
their marriage and opening the way for new life.
thank God for his generosity and for the many friends
who have helped us to live as Catholics,” Trent says.
Cherly adds, “I graduated from the Familia program four years
ago. As I look back over the past years, I
stand in awe of how wonderful God truly is. I
thank him every day for sending us Familia, because I
know that without it, we would have continued in that
devastating downward spiral. God has been good to us. He
has been good to me!”