"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, September 16, 2018

Recent Reads (vol.14)

The post in which I prove that I do read fiction sometimes! And I'm only 1 book behind now in my reading challenge. Woot.

  • Total books read this year so far: 30 (goal is 45)
  • Books completed on my 2018 reading list: 14 (out of 24)

The 21 Undeniable Secrets of Marriage by Dr. Allen Hunt

2018 will be known as the year I read too many marriage books. I read this because of a FB group I'm in, and I enjoyed it. Easy read. I'm not sure I had any new revelations, but it was still good. (4 stars)

Dollbaby by Laura Lane McNeal

I read this for my August book as part of my reading challenge with friends. August's category was "a book set in a place you have visited", and a friend recommended this since it takes place in New Orleans. It wasn't the best written novel, but I loved the characters and how I recognized all the places. I wouldn't read it again, but I still liked it. (3 stars)

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

This was a fun read - reminded me of The Awakening of Miss Prim. Delightful, slightly humorous, and makes you wish you could live there and know all of the characters personally. The movie was good too! I talked about that here. (5 stars)

Middlemarch by George Eliot

It took me over 3 months, but I finished! The first half was slow and a little confusing with all of the characters, but I was pleasantly surprised with the second half. I loved several of the characters and was not expecting so much of the book to be revolved around marriages. But it was, and I loved it. (What I learned: there have always been struggling marriages! Even before divorce was common.) (4 stars)

By Love Refined: Letters to a Young Bride by Alice von Hilderbrand

I cannot believe I had not read this before. It came highly recommended, and now I can't recommend it enough. Every woman should read this, preferably in the first year or two of marriage! It's one of those easy reads that is good to pick up every now and then for a refresher. (5 stars)

Walking with Purpose: Seven Priorities that Make Life Work by Lisa Brenninkmeyer

I read this for an upcoming book club of Catholic women, and it was recommended by their awesome priest. It was one of those perfectly-timed reads for me. It kind of reminds me of A Mother's Rule of Life, but if you didn't like that book, you'll probably like this one better! The priorities were very similar (at least the first 4), but this book had chapters dedicated to friendship and outside activities. I found it extremely helpful and encouraging. (5 stars)

You know the drill! What good books have you read lately?

Friday, September 7, 2018

What we've watched lately

I'm not sure I've ever dedicated a post entirely to TV shows and movies, but there's a first for everything! And I just really wanted to share about some of them Logan and I have watched together recently.

Lost in Space (find it on Netflix)

My friend told me about this, and since we're big fans of space movies (as long as they don't involve time travel...Interstellar, you were weird), we were intrigued. There was an older version which we haven't seen, so we didn't know what it was about at all, and it turns out they're basically, well, lost in space. (GET IT?) It was SO MUCH better than I was expecting. It didn't take us long to finish Season 1, and now we have to wait entirely too long for Season 2 to come out. Sad face. Fair warning, it contains one of my least favorite characters ever, but it also has a super cute guy. So there's that. (I'll let you decide who I'm talking about. And Logan knows because we are weird like that, don't worry!)

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (find it on Netflix)

I'm that person that totally wants to read the book before the movie, so I did, and I convinced Logan to watch the movie with me right after. He was not so sure based on the movie description. But the beautiful Lily James (main character, she was Cinderella) totally kept him interested, and we both really liked it (although the book was better, in my opinion). I loved the cast. Logan guessed what was going to happen within like 5 minutes though, because that's what he does, but thankfully he didn't ruin it for me since I had read the book!

The Case for Christ (find it on Netflix)

I know there's a book by this title because I used to work at Family Christian Stores back in my college days, and people RAVED about it. So I was excited to see the movie on Netflix, and once Logan saw it was the same people who did God's Not Dead, he was interested. Yes, it's one of those Christian movies (that tend to be cheesy), but the difference is that the acting in this one is SO MUCH better. And it wasn't cheesy. Seriously. I also really appreciated seeing how a married couple worked through it when one converted to Christianity and the other one did not.

I Can Only Imagine (rented on RedBox)

Another Christian movie, and it wasn't cheesy either! Even Dennis Quaid was in it! It's the story of how Bart Millard, lead singer for MercyMe, came to write the hit song "I Can Only Imagine." Which is one of my fave songs. (I feel the need to mention there is a story line of abuse, in case that's a trigger for you.)

Now tell me some good shows and movies you've watched lately!

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Life lately

It's been entirely too long since I've rambled about whatever. Let's get back to old school blogging today!

Our summer was crazy, but mostly in a good way. We had 2 fun trips, a week of VBS, and lots of other fun/craziness that I can't remember at the moment. Summer seriously flew by.

Now it's August, which I always thought was the craziest month even before I had kids in school. And now I have TWO KIDS in school, and August is insane. So insane. But it's almost over. And Landon and Chase are loving school so far. Yay.
And Aaron is thrilled when the boys get home and gives them the biggest hugs. So stinkin' cute.

So what am I doing with all of my free time now that I only have Aaron at home?

Bahaha. Free time. You funny.

It still amazes me that I am still SO BUSY. I'm on a couple church committees, I'm babysitting once a week for a local homeschool group, and I'm finally going back to teaching CCD (religion class). Plus I still have this [neglected] blog and the whole Surprised by Marriage thing, which I really wish I had more time to devote to. (Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel yet? Can you please??)

All of that said, I know I'm being called to all of those things right now, and they are all very good things. But please don't ask me if I'm bored with one kid at home because the answer is a hard NO.
Why do my kids look so grown?? 2 and 4 years old even though they were born like yesterday. (And yes, people think they're twins allll the time.)

What else, what else? I feel like there were a million things I wanted to mention.

Oh! You know what I realized this summer? That this is the first time we've had a 2-year old without a newborn. Isn't that crazy? We're very thankful for a bigger gap this time around, because whew, I can't imagine adding more crazy to the craziness. Aaron has been our most difficult thus far, which is part of the reason why we don't have a newborn right now. But we're also enjoying life without a pregnancy, because we've been able to do so much with the boys that we haven't been able to do during pregnancy/newborn life.

That being said, we are open to another baby, but we're also totally cool with life right now. (Because I know you're curious, right?)  It would be super nice if Aaron would stop coming in our bed in the middle of the night though and even better if we could potty train him before getting pregnant, buuuuut you know. God is in control and all of that.
Seriously, this kid. He makes me crazy and then he does cute things like this.

One last thing: I'm going to the Abide Conference in February! You should come! It's in Louisiana, 2 hours away from New Orleans, and my besties and I will totally be your friends if you need some. Jen Fulwiler is the keynote speaker so I'm sure it's going to be awesome.

What's new with all of you? What should I write about? (Because I promise, trying to be better about consistency now that school is in swing.)

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Recent Reads (vol.13)

Blah, 4 books behind on my reading challenge! I've read 24 out of 45. But I'm determined to catch up. It was a craaaazy summer. I'm not sure the fall will be any less crazy but I'm going to make sure to make time for reading. Because I love it and it relaxes me and is totally self-care.

The Mission of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson

This was a perfectly-timed read for me, reminding me that raising children is the most important thing I will do. Maybe it's not everyone's cup of tea, but I found it very inspiring. I recommend it if you're needing encouragement in your worth as a mother.

Not of This World: A Catholic Guide to Minimalism by Sterling Jaquith

I was already big on decluttering and all before reading this, but I appreciated the Catholic perspective. It definitely motivated me to declutter again and consider minimalism for the spiritual aspects as well.

The Temperament God Gave Your Spouse by Art and Laraine Bennett

This was the only temperament book by the Bennetts that I hadn't read yet, and I really liked the specific examples for married couples. Learning about temperaments has been such a game-changer for my marriage so I definitely recommend this one.

Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis

Whew, ya'll, the hype on this! I was invited to a girls' night about this book so I listened to the audiobook. It was hilarious and I enjoyed it. I don't understand all the hype, though. I mean, I guess I do. Rachel says a lot of things that women need to hear. But I couldn't relate to most of it. (I feel SO WEIRD about that.)

Praying for (and With) Your Spouse by Dr. Greg and Lisa Popcak

This was our first book club book for our Surprised by Marriage Facebook group. Even though Logan and I have been praying together since before we were married, we still gained a lot of insights from this and it'll probably be a book we refer to again from time to time. (There was a chapter on praying through difficult times, a chapter on praying through decisions, etc.) Definitely recommend for married couples, especially if you haven't prayed together before or been consistent about it.

You Learn by Living: Eleven Keys for a More Fulfilling Life by Eleanor Roosevelt

This was on my 2018 list and while it seemed a little outdated at times, it still had solid advice. Eleanor seemed like she was extremely reasonable and rational, as well as a good role model.

Who Does He Say You Are? Women Transformed by the Gospels by Colleen C. Mitchell

My first reread of the year. I was invited to a book club about it (I know, all these random invites...it's like people know I love to read, ha) so decided to reread it since it was actually on my 2018 list anyway! Last time I read it was in 2016, and I loved it both times. The second time did seem to drone on a bit, but I still think this is going to be one of those books I revisit periodically because it speaks to my soul.

Everybody, Always: Becoming Love in a World of Setbacks and Difficult People by Bob Goff

There's a lot of hype about this one too. Although I did like it, I wasn't a fan of his sense of humor. But maybe I'm just weird.

Well, now I realized I haven't finished any fiction in the last few months. Whoops. I'm 3/4 the way through Middlemarch though! And I'll remedy the lack of fiction for my next Recent Reads post, promise.

What good books have you read lately? 

Sunday, July 29, 2018

The secret (except it’s not really a secret) to all of life’s problems

I used to read the Bible a lot when I was younger. I don’t remember exactly when I started, but I know I read it in high school because I still have a notebook that I filled with my favorite verses - all written neatly in various colors. (I was kind of a nerd. Logan still thinks I am one. Yet he still married me!)

When I was in college, I read the Bible every morning before going to class. I still remember sitting at my dorm room desk, eating a pop-tart, and reading my Bible. Ah, memories.

If you’ve followed this blog for awhile, you know that the general theme is accepting God’s will in everything - even the hard stuff. And even though I know that God has my best interests at heart, sometimes it’s hard to trust in that. It’s been especially hard since I’ve gotten married, because boy, life has not exactly gone according to plan. (Hence the blog title.)

But I’ve realized something this past year. I had forgotten a vital component to this whole having faith business!

Reading the Bible.

Sure, I read the Mass readings and delve into the Psalms whenever I get on a Liturgy of the Hours kick...but I had stopped reading Scripture consistently. And by consistently I really mean daily.

One of the best decisions I’ve made was to put “Read the Bible in a year” on my 2018 goals list. I wrote in my goals update post that I could write a whole post about it, so here you go. A whole post about reading the Bible regularly.

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." -John 1:1 (NRSV)

The Word was God. So when you’re spending time with Scripture every day, you’re spending time with God. And because He is awesome God who loves us so very much, He likes to make sure whatever verses we read on a particular day encourage us in the precisely the way we need.

Like that week back in March when it was one ridiculous thing after another: I slammed my elbow in the door frame and left a bruise, hit my head, got a mole removed (for the second time), caught a cold, had the worst grocery store trip of my life thanks to the 2 littlest ones (seriously, the worst), had all 3 kids screaming at me before 6:30am several mornings, and juuuust to top it off, the baby knocked over a glass that shattered everywhere so I had to put the screaming baby in his crib while I cleaned it up.

When I finally sat down to finish my Bible reading that particular morning at the end of that ridiculous week, fussy baby in my lap, I just so happened to read 1 Corinthians 10:13 (as part of my yearly reading plan): “No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it ” (NRSV).

As I was reading that verse, the baby fell asleep in my lap. It was such a grace-filled moment, one that I desperately needed at the time. And that’s just one example! There have been countless ones (that I don’t remember specifically, because my kids steal my brain cells and the only reason I remember one example is because I posted it on Instagram).

I’m not saying that reading the Bible every day is going to make your life perfect. Oh, if anything, the last 7 months have been a whole new level of crazy.

But I’ve also stocked up so many words of wisdom and great verses that pop into my head at any given moment. And that has only been possible because I’ve been spending time with Scripture consistently.

When I feel like we will never be where we want to be financially, I remember Matthew 6:19. Store up treasures in heaven.

When I feel frustrated that nothing ever works out the way I plan, I remember Romans 8:28. All things work for good for those who love God.

When I realize I’m trying to force my will and not trusting in God’s will, I remember Proverbs 3:5-6. Trust in the Lord. Acknowledge Him. He will make my path straight.

When I feel under attack, I remember 1 Peter 5:8-10. The devil is prowling around. Resist him! God will strengthen me.

When I feel like I’m disappointing God, I remember the Old Testament and how people kept screwing everything up. Yet God still loved them and kept His promises to them.

And I could go on forever. The Bible is a gift and is full of wisdom and encouragement. If you’re not in the habit of reading it regularly, I highly, highly recommend it. (And I recommend picking a good reading plan. I’m really loving Meg’s that she links to in this post.)

Have I convinced you yet? Are you ready to take the plunge? If you’re already reading the Bible often, how do you fit it in? Curious minds want to know!

Friday, July 6, 2018

Making progress {7QT}

I've been posting goals and stuff for a few years, I think, but I don't know if I ever did a progress or updates post! So here we are, halfway through 2018. I've made some progress...(goals post is here)

1. Spiritual stuff

-Read the Bible in a year. I'm so glad I'm doing this. I could probably write a whole post about reading the Bible regularly, but it has been so fruitful. There was only one day that I forgot (crazy morning) and it was so hard catching up, so I've been making sure I do it every single day. (Evidence above. Highlighted days are the completed ones!)
-Incorporate more silence in my prayer time. Wellllll, if I'm honest, I could be better about this. I have a blog post in my head about this subject, but let's just say it's SO HARD cultivating silence even though I really, really love it and need it.

2. Personal stuff

-Run a 5K. Sigh. I'm so frustrated with this because I kept getting sick in the beginning of the year, so I kept having weeks where I couldn't run at all. Somehow I still managed to run consistently for like 3 weeks before my scheduled 5K! But then the 5K was cancelled the morning of. And now I have zero desire to run anymore.
-Read 45 books. So far I've read 18 books, and in the middle of 4. So I'm 4 books behind schedule. It's been really hard fitting in reading with our video-making and a series of ridiculous things happening, but I'm thinking I will catch up on this once school starts in the fall. Maybe.
-Finish writing a book. HAHA. I'm just really struggling with making time to write, because every time I get in a groove, kids interrupt. And that makes me crazy. So Logan and I need to figure something out. (But maybe this is one of those things that won't happen until school starts!)

3. Marriage stuff

-Attend another retreat. Done! We went in May and it was awesome and we can't wait to go back.
-Go on a cruise. I doubt this one will happen this year, unless by some chance we're not pregnant towards the end of the year when we can get a super cheap rate. Time will tell.

4. Family stuff

-Enjoy our family of 5. We have been! From crazy dance parties in our kitchen to outside time and everything else. (Picture above is from our trip to Kansas City. Go Royals!) Although there are still difficult moments as far as toddler tantrums and all, our kids have grown up so much in the last few months and it's made life really fun. (Still exhausting, but fun.)
-Go on a mini-vacation to somewhere new! Done! Well, it wasn't really a "new" place, as we actually have been there before (for one night a few years ago), but it was Aaron's first time, and we stayed 2 nights this time. We enjoyed the hotel, the pool, the beach, the arcade (see above), and eating out a lot (something we don't usually do very often due to our budget, but we really do love it). It was such a fun getaway and we were so surprised with how well the boys did and how refreshing it was, even though it was just 48 hours. (And thank you Jesus for us helping us save the money in our vacation fund!)

5. Financial stuff

-Buy tires for the van. Done! I think we did this in April. So glad to finally have that crossed off the list.
-Save another $1,000 for emergencies. Ugh, we've had a few unexpected things come up ('tis life), so we haven't been able to do this yet.
-Buy a reclining loveseat. This is looking doubtful too. Sigh.
-Get a month ahead of our expenses. We're probably about 25% of the way there, I think. It's been slow-going, especially with the unexpected expenses that came up, but the good news is that we're holding steady.

6. Saint of the year

I was REALLY confused about my saint of the year, St. Conrad. Patron saint of hernias and he and his wife both joined the religious life, basically. BUT I recently had an epiphany. I've been having a bunch of weird medical things going on, and it hit me - I could ask for St. Conrad's prayers! Because hernias are weird too. (Maaaaaybe that's a stretch, but whatevs.) And as far as the marriage thing goes (him and his wife going separate ways, which is weird - how could I relate to that?!), I realized that St. Conrad was big on prayer, and we can use him and his wife as an example of prayer in marriage. AND he died in front of a crucifix, which is pretty cool because as married people we are called to that same sacrificial love for our spouse. So yeah. Maybe I'm just pushing it but I've come to appreciate St. Conrad. ;)

7. Word of the year

Grace. Goodness this could be another blog post too, but let's just say I'm seeing the beauty of grace in all areas of life - prayer, marriage, parenting, EVERYTHING. I would not be where I am without God's grace and I'm so, so thankful He continues to give me the grace I need to do what He is asking.

Go check out the other quick takes at Kelly's!

Monday, May 28, 2018

Stuff I love {five favorites}

Goodness, did I really only write one post since the last Five Favorites link-up? Geez. I need to get back in the blogging game! (Are blogs really dying? I kind of feel like it but I also want to blog until I'm 80 sooo I dunno...)

I could totally just copy and paste my Five Favorites post from 2 months ago because it's all still true but alas, I have some new stuff I love too.

1. Costco
Yep, we finally renewed our membership again after going without for about 5 months. We weren't really saving money by not going to Costco. It wasn't obvious at first, because we still had a lot of things from there. But as we finished the snacks and frozen food and everything else from there that is A LOT cheaper, it started to kill me slowly to buy a more expensive item elsewhere. And thanks to handy dandy YNAB, I was able to look back at the last few months and realize yep, we were definitely spending more on groceries when we didn't have a Costco membership.

(I should mention that it is really easy to overspend at Costco, but with a lot of will power and buying only the necessary items and those items that save us money in the long-run, Costco helps our grocery budget immensely. We fill in the gaps at Walmart and occasionally Trader Joe's.)

2. Summer fun
I'm SO GLAD Landon is home for the summer. We created another summer of fun list (similar to last year, with some tweaks) and have already checked some things off. And I don't know why, but somehow I've managed to keep up with housework AND be a fun mom ever since school ended. Weird. Yay summer!

3. Alarm clock
I was getting realllllly tired of getting sucked into my phone every night before bed and every morning when I woke up but I kept thinking "but I need my alarm!" And then realized I still had my old school orange alarm clock from college. So I've been using it for the last 3 months while my phone stays downstairs at night. It's life-changing. (And holler for waking up to K-Love instead of some dumb ringer!)

4. Marriage retreats
Logan and I went on our third one this past month and you should just consider me your biggest advocate for marriage retreats. You need to go on one. Often. Like really. Faith and Marriage here in New Orleans puts on some amazing ones, but I'm sure there are others elsewhere! I just can't say enough about how much good a weekend away with your spouse to embrace the sacraments and spend time together can do for your marriage.
A snapshot from our vlog!

5. Stranger Things
Logan and I attempted to watch this way back when it was all the rage and after 30 terrifying seconds I was like NOPE. So he watched the 2 seasons by himself and continued to bug me about watching it with him. I was still like NAH I'M GOOD. But somehow he recently convinced me to watch it again with him and so we are 6 episodes in and I am hooked. It's so strange. But it's good. Even though some parts are still terrifying.

Well, shoot, I have more things I could add to the list but that's five already. Go check out the link-up over at Ashley's inspiring blog!


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