Read: A Felicitous Surprise from God by Richard Budd

There can be few bonnier babies in this world than little Felicity Jane Budd. Felicity, pictured above, is the fifth child of Maureen and Richard Budd who is also the Director of Marriage and Family Life for the Diocese of Lansing.

To mark this year's Natural Family Planning Awareness Week, Richard writes in the latest edition of FAITH Magazine about the reality of being generously open to new life and how God's grace is always sufficient in any circumstance, no matter how challenging. Richard writes:

On July 4, 2015, my wife and I got married in Grand Rapids surrounded by hundreds of family and friends. I’ll never forget that day. It was sunny – and warm, and I was getting to marry this woman. Standing up there in front of everyone and declaring my commitment to my bride, my voice cracked with emotion. (I know, very cliché.) In addition to declaring that we had come to the altar freely and promising lifelong union, we also declared that we were “prepared to accept children lovingly from God and to bring them up according to the law of Christ and his Church.” Every couple says this, but we had no idea what we were promising at the time.

Fast-forward to May of 2021. A housing crisis hit just after we sold our house. After months of searching and six days before our fourth child was scheduled to be born by way of c-section, we were packed and out. Most of what we owned was put into storage and we got to experience the immense generosity of fellow parishioners and family who took us in, gave us beds to sleep in and kept our family afloat while my wife recovered from major surgery, we got acquainted with our new son and the search went on.

In August, eight months after we originally sold our home, we were still looking. Our oldest was about to begin kindergarten and we didn’t have our own front door to take those cute first day of school photos in front of. My wife was still recovering from the c-section, and then one day, she came to me with a positive pregnancy test. A new one. Not one left over from one of the other kids.

I was dumbfounded. I tried to figure out if there really was a line there. Then I got angry. “How could this happen? We’re living in someone else’s house. We were using NFP. She told me it was safe.” But really, all I kept thinking was: “She’s only three months post-op. Is my wife going to be OK?”

I was spinning. Not much work got done in the office that day. Trying to grasp reality — being homeless and pregnant and scared — I tried to blame my circumstances on God, her, anyone. I went home angry. I ate dinner angry. I put the kids to bed angry. But then the Holy Spirit reminded me about the times I found out that our other four kids existed. I celebrated every time and here I was, sitting silently on the couch after having spent the whole day angry.

So, I made a choice. I decided to celebrate even though I didn’t want to. I poured myself a scotch and got my wife some water, and we toasted this new life — because we said we would “accept children lovingly from God.” We both decided to be joyful, even though that’s not what we felt. God’s grace in our marriage buoyed us up and enabled us to receive our daughter’s life because on our own, it was just blame, anger and fear.

We decided to name her Felicity Jane. Felicity because we didn’t want her story to be our weakness but, instead, happiness, and Jane because it means “God is gracious.” Even though we didn’t realize it at the time, as we went months with seemingly unheard prayers for a house and now a new baby we weren’t planning on, God only gives good gifts; he is a gracious God. It turns out, as our little girl turns one, that she is living up to her name. She is perpetually smiling and laughing in our new home. She lifts the mood of any room she enters, and her siblings all adore her.

The theme of this year’s Natural Family Planning Awareness Week (July 23-29) is Marriage: One Flesh, Given and Received. For each of us, on the day of our weddings, we had no idea what we would be asked to give or receive. For some of our friends, it has been the cross of infertility. For us, it was the grace of an unexpected child. But God’s gifts are always good, and he wanted little Felicity to be in our family. Each of us is so much better because of it.

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