"When a soul recognises the will of God and shows a readiness to submit to it entirely, then God gives Himself to such a soul and renders it most powerful succour under all circumstances." - Rev. Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Sunday, April 5, 2020

What I'm loving lately {coronavirus edition}

Why hello there. One of my goals for this first quarter of 2020 was to write for fun more, which includes this blog...and I'm not doing so well. But so I can remember this crazy coronavirus time, I'm forcing myself to blog. (I mean, I want to blog, but I'm having a very hard time prioritizing things now that I have SO MANY OPTIONS. You know what I mean?)

I started this like 2 weeks ago and forgot about it, but a list of things I'm loving lately seems appropriate, because it's important to remember the good stuff. Here we go!

Family time. I've said before how our family time has always been limited during the school year, with our boys in school during the week and Logan at work on the weekends. So we were suddenly given all the family time we could ever ask for, and although it's been an adjustment, we are grateful.

Baking. I haven't had as much time to as I'd like to bake before this virus, so it's been really nice revisiting recipes I used to love. Maybe I'll do a post with my faves...

Our backyard. Seriously, we just love our yard, and it's been a saving grace throughout this crazy season. Logan has even done some extra touches to it (like adding stones under the bench, adding a sign on the tree, and adding a walkway leading up the Mary garden). The great weather has been a bonus!

Marco Polo app. I've been able to see the beautiful faces of my friends despite everything, which is pretty cool. (It's an app where you can easily send videos to each other and watch live, if you'd like.)

Zoom. This has also allowed me to see the beautiful faces of my friends, and it's allowed Logan and me to continue the couple prayer series we were facilitating at our church. I saw a meme about who was really behind COVID-19...and it was Zoom. Which makes me laugh because seriously...everyone is using it now. (And yes, I know the issues with Zoom and we have taken extra precautions, don't worry.)

The chance to homeschool. I used to think we would homeschool and then it turned out we didn't feel called to it. I always wondered what it would be like, and if it would be a good fit for our family (especially with Logan's work schedule), and now I get the chance! No pressure or risk involved. So that's cool. Although it is going fairly well, I'm not sure we will ever officially do it...but now I know we can.

Our health. We had a crazy scare with Logan who had to go the ER for the first time ever to get x-rays on his leg. And nothing was broken! His leg is pretty bruised and still swollen but is getting better every day. It really made us so grateful that it wasn't worse, because we are definitely still thinking about all of the "what if" scenarios. So scary.

Coloring. Why, yes, this is one of my hobbies these days. It's so calming! I usually color while listening to Marco Polos. Multitasking and all.

Free resources. This has probably been one of the coolest things over the last few weeks. Everyone is offering something for free! Coloring sheets, school stuff, liturgical living resources, etc. I'm loving it.

The Chosen. If you haven't heard of this series, you need to watch it! Logan and I are over halfway through season 1 (which is only 8 episodes), and we are pleasantly surprised at how good it is. It's about Jesus and his disciples (hence, the chosen). Not sure how historically accurate it is, but it's still pretty good and has prompted some good conversation between Logan and me. There is an app, but we're watching the episodes on YouTube.

And now I need to post a goals update now that the first quarter is over. But I need to think about my new goals, because life has definitely changed since January!

Monday, February 24, 2020

Recent Reads (vol.20)

Whoops, I just realized it's been a hot second since I've shared my recent reads...and I've read 11 books since my last post.  Half are from 2019:
 And the rest are from this year:
So I need to get to sharing before the list becomes too long!

Bible Basics for Catholics: A New Picture of Salvation History by Dr. John Bergsma

This was in my 2019 faves list. If you struggle with reading and understanding the Bible, this is for you. I highly recommend it for people in RCIA too!

Intimate Graces: How Practicing the Works of Mercy Brings Out the Best in Marriage by Teresa and Dominick Tomeo

This is an easy and quick read with some great marriage thoughts and discussion questions.

The Thief by Stephanie Landsem

This is the 2nd book in a 3-book series, although you don't necessarily need to read all 3. This was actually my least fave of the 3 because it was so predictable...but I still enjoyed it.

Be Merry: A Catholic Guide to Avoid Anxiety and Depression During the Holidays by Sterling Jaquith

A reread for me and another easy and helpful read. Definitely recommend if you struggle with the holidays (although you could totally read it anytime and it would be helpful!).

The Tomb by Stephanie Landsem

The last in the 3-part series, and I really liked this one. I just found it completely relatable, and although the author did take some (questionable?) liberties with a very popular Bible story, I thought it was pretty interesting.

The Everyday Catholic's Guide to the Liturgy of the Hours by Daria Sockey

Another reread. If you're interested in learning more about the Liturgy of the Hours, this explains everything!

Boys Should Be Boys: 7 Secrets to Raising Healthy Sons by Meg Meeker

I kept seeing Meg Meeker recommended for moms of boys, and this did not disappoint. Highly recommend.

The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare

This was my January read for "a book recommended by a friend" and I really enjoyed it. You would too if you like stories that take place a couple centuries ago.

The Light: Who Do You Become When the World Falls Away? by Jacqueline Brown

A friend heard about this 5-book series on Danielle Bean's podcast, and we both started reading it. It's Catholic fiction, and although it's not the best written series, I really appreciate the Catholic aspect. It's also like an ends time kind of scenario, which is pretty cool. The kindle books are pretty inexpensive (and are included on Kindle Unlimited).

Through the Ashes by Jacqueline Brown

Book #2 in the above mentioned series. I kind of hate the endings because it makes you want to immediately read the next one. I really want to read the rest of the series but I'm trying really really really hard to finish some other books first. There are 2 characters that I just love in this book!

The Boy on the Wooden Box by Leon Leyson

This was my February read for "a memoir or biography." I listened to the audiobook on Hoopla since it was pretty short (4 hours plus I listened to it at 1.5x without a problem). The main character owes his life to Oskar Schindler, and it really makes me want to watch the movie Schindler's List (which is based off another book). I either cannot remember the movie or or maybe I actually haven't even seen the whole thing...can't remember. Either way, this book is a good read if you're into WWII stories.

I'm currently in the middle of 7 other books, which is ridiculous. But half of them are just taking me forever...so it might be my Lenten goal to power through and finally finish them.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Lent is coming! I'm ready but not ready

I can't even believe it. Wasn't it just Advent? I'm equally dreading Lent and looking forward to it. January and February have been just so nuts, so I'm looking forward to life slowing down a bit. (I feel like I always say that...)

It's been a couple years since we've had the wiggle room in our budget for me to buy an Advent or Lenten devotional, but I finally bought one again! My moms group is doing the Blessed Is She Lenten one—Here, Too—which I'm looking forward to. I ordered a bunch to get a discount plus there was a coupon code, both of which don't seem to be an option anymore, so I highly recommend going that route ASAP next year. Each copy ended up being $19.70 as opposed to $25!

I created 40 Days of Loving Your Husband for Surprised By Marriage, and Logan has already told me he realllllly wants me to do it during Lent. So I guess I'm doing that too, ha. It's basically doing one small thing for your husband, and obviously he really likes that kind of thing. (It's included in the Catholic Mom Bundle, available until Friday only! This is our affiliate link, please and thank you.)

We've been doing the Jesus Tree with the boys for a few years now, and they love it. So we will probably do it again, but try the one from Elizabeth Clare, also included in the Catholic Mom Bundle.
Flashback to Lent a few years ago!

Logan and I both decided months ago that we would give up eating between meals for Lent. We did it for a few days back in November and couldn't believe how hard it was! Oh, and we also decided to read The Secret to Holiness in Marriage once Lent starts. It's a 33-day retreat for your marriage so starting it on Ash Wednesday will mean we will finish it juuuuust in time to check off that goal for the first quarter.

I always try to do one thing for myself during Lent, one thing with Logan, and one thing with the boys...so that pretty much covers it.

Oh wait, one more! A couple years ago, I bought the print copy of Walking Holy Week with Jesus: A Prayer Journal and it was sooo good. Since the printable version is also included in the Catholic Mom Bundle (and only available there), I'm looking forward to doing it again this year! (Can you tell I'm just really excited about the bundle? There are so many great products!) I really like how this journal is just one week...totally doable and not overwhelming. Maybe I'll ask Logan to do it with me since we will have finished our book by then.

This is where I shamelessly include our affiliate link for the Catholic Mom Bundle: Check out the details here. It ends Friday at midnight! $25 for $333 worth of products. About half of the 24 contributions are Lent-related and half aren't. Best of both worlds.

Are you ready for Lent? Do you have everything planned or are you just going to wing it?

Sunday, February 2, 2020

A new year and a new way to set goals {Jan.-Mar. 2020}

Welllll, I wrote this post a few weeks ago and things kept coming up. I told myself I'd post before January ended...but failed. But now I'm watching the Superbowl and bummed that it looks like the Chiefs are not going to win...so blogging it is. [Edited to add: just kidding! They made a comeback! 🎉]

I totally wrote a goals post last year and never got around to posting it. (You sensing a theme here?) But looking back in my drafts folder, I only did 5 of the 12 things I said I wanted to do. Not good.

So that got me thinking about goals and what's effective. Setting yearly goals are not really feasible when life can change so quickly. Our life changed a lot halfway through the year! So this year I'm going to set goals every 3 months. And to make things simple and well-rounded, I'm (mostly) picking one thing in 6 different categories: personal, spiritual, educational, home, marriage, and family.

We'll see how this goes! I'll reevaluate at the end of March and decide on some new goals...or maybe even stick with similar ones. Who knows??

January to March 2020


Write for fun. I've been so busy writing magazine articles and marriage blog posts, and that's really changed how much I write elsewhere. So when it comes to writing for fun, that means blogging on this here blog, journaling, and getting back to writing projects that have nothing to do with our Surprised By Marriage ministry or my side magazine job. (Oh, long lost book I used to work on...I see you.)

Exercise twice a week. I originally had "ride my bike once a week" which sounds really lame. But then I signed up for a 5K which is in like a month. Yikes. And I'm totally not in that great a shape, because exercising has dropped in my list of priorities over the few months. But I need to be better!


Read the Bible everyday using the Bible Timeline reading plan. I really enjoyed reading through the Bible in a year in 2018...but it was hard. I attempted to read the Bible every day in 2019 but would go through spurts because I didn't have a plan. So I found this 3-month one based on the events of salvation history, which is totally doable and all about things I've been reading and listening to lately. And it's just a little too perfect considering I'm making 3-month goals and the reading plan covers 3 months.


Read 8 books. So that means about 32 books for the year, if I keep the same amount each quarter. It's lower than I've been doing, but I really want to focus on enjoying the books I do read, as well as finally tackling some longer classics. I'm even debating rereading Kristin Lavransdatter! But we will see. I don't want to feel too much pressure!


Declutter 200 items. My friend told me that she's attempting to declutter 2,020 things in the year 2020. While I am not quite that ambitious, I do think it's a great idea to challenge yourself to a certain number. So I've got 3 months to declutter 200 things (and actually, I've already done over half)...and maybe I'll be motivated to do even more the next quarter.


Read 3 Secrets to Holiness with Logan. This was totally a book we said we would read last year, but better than never, eh?


Read aloud one chapter book per month. This is another one of those things that I do in spurts, and I reallllly want to be more consistent about it. One book each month might not seem like much compared to some of you and your awesomeness, but maybe I'll be able to up it next go-round. (And sighhhh definitely failed in January.)

Hopefully my first quarter update and my second quarter goals post will be a little more punctual.

Are you making any goals this year? Tell me!

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Books I'm reading in 2020

It's hard to believe this is my 5th annual book list! Not once have I read every single book on it, but I've gotten pretty close. Most importantly, making a list really keeps me reading somewhat consistently.

This past year, I realized I made my list too long, so I'm going to stick with 12 books—one for each month. I've also learned that I should not include any deep spiritual or theological reads or super long classic fiction reads. (I will still read those, of course...I just won't feel the pressure from putting them on my list.) I'm also (mostly) sticking to books that I already own this year! So here's my list of (hopefully) fairly easy reads that will not stress me out:

The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare

Interior Freedom by Jacques Philippe

The Diary of a Country Priest by Georges Bernanos

Mission of the Family by Jon Leonetti

Jesus and the Jewish Roots of Mary by Brant Pitre

The Opposite of Spoiled: Raising Kids Who are Grounded, Generous, and Smart About Money by Ron Lieber

The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

The Printed Letter Bookshop by Katherine Reay

He Leadeth Me: An Extraordinary Testament of Faith by Walter J. Ciszek, S.J. and Daniel L. Flaherty, S.J.

Anne's House of Dreams by L.M. Montgomery


Say Goodbye to Survival Mode: 9 Strategies to Stress Less, Sleep More, and Restore Your Passion for Life by Crystal Paine

A Mother's Rule of Life: How to Bring Order to Your Home and Peace to Your Soul by Holly Pierlot

I also realized at some point this year that I forgot to include the reading challenge I do with with friends every year in my book list for 2019. So here is our reading challenge for 2020! In case you wanted to do it too. :)
What books are you reading this year??

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

My favorite books I read in 2019

It's that time again! I share my favorite reads from the previous year. And in case you're new here, these are books I give 5 stars to, and I don't include rereads. Last year, I had so many faves that I had to narrow it down to books that I'd recommend to anyone. This year, I didn't have as many faves, but I still have quite a few to share.

Here are my previous fave lists in case you're making a book list for 2020 (I'll be sharing mine soon!):

Okay, now for this year's faves!

Unplanned: The Dramatic True Story of a Former Planned Parenthood Leader's Eye-Opening Journey Across the Life Line by Abby Johnson

I listened to the audiobook (it's on Hoopla!) and whew...intense but good. The movie was great too.


Into Your Hands, Father: Abandoning Ourselves to the God Who Loves Us by Wilfrid Stinissen

Well, obviously I had to include this because it goes along with the whole theme of my blog. This was the only book I've ever highlighted in, if that gives you any idea of the words of wisdom it contains.

Persuasion by Jane Austen

This just might be my favorite Austen novel! I had a feeling it would be...not sure why it took me this long to actually read it.

Theology of the Body in One Hour by Jason Evert

I really wish everyone knew about Theology of the Body, and this is the perfect book to introduce it to people. (It takes longer than an hour to read though.)

The Case for Jesus: The Biblical and Historical Evidence for Christ by Dr. Brant Pitre

This is one of those that I think everyone should read, Catholic or not. It kind of blew my mind.

The Well by Stephanie Landsem

This was the first (and only) book that made me cry. If you like historical fiction, this one's for you. It takes place during the time of Jesus, which is actually pretty cool. (This is first in a 3-part series, and the 3rd book was pretty close to making this list too.)

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

I could have done without the sexual parts, but this sucked me in so much that I had to include it here.  The setting reminds me of good ol' Louisiana.

Bible Basics for Catholics: A New Picture of Salvation History by Dr. John Bergsma

Yet another one that I think everyone should read. This one really made me want to read through the Bible again, believe it or not. Such an easy read too, but totally helpful in understanding all of the events in the Bible.

What was one (or two) of your favorite reads this year??

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Advent highs and lows

Wellllll, we started off the Advent season doing pretty well. Our family actually lit the Advent wreath and prayed together every day for 6 straight days! That's a record for us. It was a really nice change in our family prayer routine, because we sing, read Scripture, discuss a question, and pray. The boys love it. We love it.

And then on the 7th day of Advent, our water heater started leaking. Womp womp.

Long story short, we had to turn off the water to the house to prevent further leaking until we could replace the water heater...which didn't happen until 3 days later. THANKFULLY, we were able to crash at my brother's house in the meantime while they were out of town. So that was nice.

Needless to say, though, that threw a wrench in our routine and we didn't do the Advent wreath until we came back home. (We still prayed though!) I swear, that happens every Advent. It doesn't matter how much I prepare, or if I finish all of my Christmas shopping before Advent starts or [insert any other awesome thing here], something crazy happens to make December just crazy. Whyyyyy.

The whole experience (and just some other things too lately) really made me realize that I suck at surrendering. And looking at the bright side. And being content. Which I guess is a good thing to actually realize, as opposed to sailing through life unaware.

Because I need to surrender. I need to look at the bright side. And I need to be content. I daresay those are things necessary to get to heaven...which is a theme of Advent. (You're funny, God.)

Our CCD program did a live Jesse Tree program which was super cute. Solomon, Jacob, and Elijah!

I mentioned before how we're taking a break from Surprised By Marriage (SBM) during Advent. Despite that, though, Logan and I are just still so busy. I have been able to be more present to the boys...but I still literally always have something I could be doing. Which is a little terrifying. Like, how did we manage to do all we were doing for SBM?

We've been talking and praying about it, because we certainly don't feel called to give it up. But we do need to figure out a way to make it not as stressful. Because it shouldn't be stressful! But sometimes it is when we have many other responsibilities that take priority.

Anyways. If you have any thoughts/advice/tips in that regard, let me know.

In other news, I am not pregnant, which means Aaron will be going off to school next year without a baby at home.  I honestly don't know how I feel about that. It's bittersweet, really. While Logan and I always thought it would be nice to have all the kids in school before having another baby, we didn't think it would actually happen. But it's looking like it will happen. (I mean, technically, I could get pregnant soon and then have a preemie or something...#expecttheunexpected)

I had to talk myself out of a trip to Disney World in 2020. (Yes, I'm nuts.) And every time Logan and I looked into another vacation, we ended up getting super stressed. Which is weird. (Honestly, it's super frustrating that we can't plan too much in advance, not knowing if I'll be pregnant and unable to travel. Because what if I just never get pregnant?) So we just came to the conclusion that we're going to focus on saving money. And if the perfect opportunity for a (last-minute) vacation arrives, we'll go for it.

Logan and I managed to go on TWO dates this past weekend, because of the way things fell. The second one was really fun because we went to an escape room with two other couples...and we escaped! With time to spare! And it was just really neat and something we've been wanting to do but just couldn't afford. (Cyber Monday coupon codes, y'all.)

Christmas is NEXT WEEK which seems so crazy to me. I thought I'd have plenty of time to relax and read and enjoy this time of preparation. But no. I haven't. I mean, I'm enjoying things, but I'm super exhausted and kinda stressed, even though I'm trying really hard not to be. Sigh. But my last CCD class of the year was last night, I finished a transcript today, aaaaand I'm about to submit my magazine edits...which is the really time-sensitive things I had. I still have a couple more projects to finish before the end of the year, but not necessarily before next week..so maybe the few days leading up to Christmas will be nice and low-stress? Here's hoping.

Tell me a high and a low from your Advent so far!
St. Nicholas Day is still one of our faves!


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