"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

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A month for your marriage {week 4 – sacrificial love}

In case you missed it, I'm hosting a weekly marriage challenge! Read the previous posts: week 1, week 2, and week 3.


How I did on week 3, surprise and spontaneity


So here's where I admit I actually did this challenge a couple weeks ago - Logan read all of these posts in advance and specifically said he was looking forward to this one the most. So obviously I needed to make sure he was really surprised.

I was soooo tempted to setup the best in-home date night (take-out sushi, wine, and a movie, anyone?), but like I said last week, Logan would much rather go out. So when Logan got home from work one day, I told him - well, Landon beat me to it - that the big boys were going to their cousins' house for a sleepover so we could go to dinner and a movie! Logan has been begging to go on a date lately but between our tight budget and Aaron being so ridiculous in the evenings, we haven't made it happen. Needless to say, Logan was thrilled about our date!
Don't be fooled - that cute baby was not happy 90% of the time at the restaurant and spilled my water all over my dress. But we had a gift card so I GUESS it was okay he kinda ruined dinner. We had time to kill before the late movie so we enjoyed strolling around without a care in the world.

To make up for his terrible dinner behavior, Aaron then slept THE ENTIRE MOVIE (where we also had a gift card! #winning). It was lovely. All in all, the night was fun and so, so nice getting to spend time together without having to rush back home to a babysitter or whatever because the boys were spending the night elsewhere. Most dates we just go to dinner so it was cool having an "extended" date. Logan definitely appreciated my efforts!

So what surprise did you end up doing?? Link up your posts or share in the comments!  

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Week 4, Sacrificial love


It's so easy to get caught up in who is supposed to do what in a marriage. It's also easy to let bitterness and resentment build up if it seems like you're doing more than your spouse.

I just love Rachel's post “Happiness in Marriage” (go read it!). Here's a quote from it: “But in marriage, in happy marriage, there is no split. It’s each member of the union giving 100 percent and praying, trusting, that this 200 percent will add up to happiness.”

I find that the times I'm giving my all and just doing what I need to do - whether it's normally my responsibility or not – is when Logan starts doing little extras. He sees me working hard, so he starts working hard too. It's nice.

But I will admit that I often struggle with keeping tally on how many times he forgets to take out the garbage in a row, or the fact that I have little to no break with a nursing baby while he can do whatever he wants (and still forgets about the garbage), or or or. It's hard to keep a sacrificial and loving heart sometimes!

It does seem to me, though, that the more one practices sacrificial love, the easier it becomes. So even though I fall back into the whole bitterness/resentment/keeping tally foolishness, I keep trying. Again and again.

Your challenge this week: Do something for your spouse – a chore that they normally do. And don't tell them!

Some ideas:
  • Take out the garbage
  • Cut the grass (sorry, Logan, I am NOT doing this one...just saying)
  • Bathe the kids or put them to bed or both (since these seem to be “assigned” tasks for many couples I know, for whatever reason)
  • Let your spouse sleep in while you cook breakfast

Check back next week (on Mardi Gras!) to see how everybody did and to wrap things up!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

A month for your marriage {week 3 - surprise and spontaneity)

In case you missed it, I'm hosting a weekly marriage challenge! Read the previous posts: week 1 and week 2 (go check out the linked-up posts!).

How I did on Week 2, Affirmation


I said last week how I really struggle with Logan's love languages, and let me tell you....giving affirmation is so hard for me! I wish it wasn't. I had a particularly hard week with a teething baby, not much sleep, and whiny children...which made it even harder for me to affirm Logan – I was already so spent. So! While I didn't say something aloud to him every day (but I did try some), I focused on what was easier for me – writing.

The credit for this idea totally goes to a friend in my church playgroup. It's an empty picture frame, and I use a dry erase marker on the glass to write a compliment, an encouragement, anything! I used to do this more often but it kind of got put aside when Aaron was born. So this past week I put the frame next to Logan's sink again (we each have our own) so he can see a new affirming message from me each day. I think I did forget one day, though. (Logan has his own videography business on the side and he's SO good at it, if you didn't know!)

So, how did you do? Did you get creative? Let's hear all about it. Link up your posts below or share how you did in the comments!


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Week 3, Surprise and spontaneity


What Logan and I lack in communication, we make up for with surprises and spontaneity. We love impromptu dance parties in the kitchen and deciding to splurge (AKA using our monthly “fun” money) at our favorite Mexican restaurant after Mass. Logan is especially good at these things – like doing a quick house cleaning while I'm at the grocery store or taking me on a dinner date and informing me on the way to the restaurant that we were actually going to see my favorite singer in concert instead. (And then he grabs sushi, one of my fave takeout foods, from the backseat to eat in the car on the way to the concert because this man covers all his bases.)

Surprises or being spontaneous is really good when you're in a rut, or just struggling, or heck, it's good even when life is gooood. I highly recommend it.

Your challenge this week: Plan a special surprise for your spouse this week. (This is your opportunity to do something if you didn't for St. Valentine's Day!)

Some ideas:
  • Cook something that you know your spouse really loves but that you don't normally cook (whether it's because of difficulty or cost or whatever)
  • Book a babysitter, make a dinner reservation, and don't tell your spouse until he/she walks in the door after a long day at work
  • Plan an “in-house” date night – order takeout, put the kids to bed early, and have the house looking nice and clean. Maybe light some candles and set out a comfy blanket to eat picnic-style?
  • Send your spouse out of the house for a few hours to do whatever he/she likes (bonus points for cleaning the house during that time, ha)
One last thing - make sure you do something your spouse will enjoy, even if it's not what you would choose to do. (i.e. I'd much rather a night in but I know Logan would always prefer going out.) Can't wait to hear from you next week!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Teething, family walks, and going to the movies (7QT)

Linking up with Kelly with some randomness. As I do. Go check out everyone else's better takes and Kelly's hilarious post if you're looking for some fashion advice!


1. Teething sucks

You know those weeks you feel like you get NOTHING done? Yeah. I'm having one of those, thanks to a teething baby who won't let me put him down and won't sleep....and some other whiny children. I've always thought potty training was the worst part of parenthood, but I'm seriously thinking it might be teething BECAUSE I'M ABOUT TO LOSE MY MIND. And this was just the first tooth!!
But he's so cute (and finally sitting up)!


2. Family walks

On a more positive note, one thing I wanted to start doing more this year was going on family walks and they have just been lovely. We're usually having to squeeze it in before the sun sets, but it actually makes for PERFECT weather and a beautiful landscape. Logan and I are running a couple 5Ks in April, and I was realllly hoping to be able to run for the entire race both times...but my dang knee is starting to act up again. It does this every time I start to really enjoy running. I guess it's to be expected after 20+ years of playing soccer. Sigh.
This was right before Chase stepped in ants. Fun times.


3. Thinking ahead

Here's where I admit I already have everything for the boys' Easter baskets. This is because 1) I tend to do things wayyyy in advance so I don't stress over it later, 2) we're doing a no-spend month in March so I didn't want to leave only 2 weeks in April to get things together, and 3) I don't want to spend Lent doing Easter prep. You can roll your eyes all you want but I'm pretty proud of myself. You have 2.5 weeks until Lent! You can do it too!


4. A month for your marriage

Are you doing it?? I hope so! The 2nd challenge is up if you missed it. I really debated whether or not to include a link-up but decided to just do it. So far nobody has linked up (which is fine! I'm fine! I just want people to do the challenges) and I just realllly want to know how you're doing if you're participating. Comments instead of linked up posts are more than welcome! (I'll also take suggestions on how to make this whole thing better.)


5. Going to the movies

When Landon and Chase were babies I was terrified to bring them to the movie theater. So I never did even though Logan and I have always really enjoyed the movies. But little Aaron has already been to the movies THREE TIMES in his 7.5 months. And it's been fine! Totally fine!
Two of those movies were kids ones so we brought the whooooole family which is actually pretty cool considering we only have to pay for Landon right now. (I mean, we usually go only when tickets are cheaper during the day or we have a gift card but that just helps us stretch it a little more.) Gotta take advantage before Chase turns 3 in July!!
This dude totally ruined dinner but he slept through the movie soooo I guess I can't be too mad...


6. I just want some cheese

I've been avoiding dairy for over 3 months now for Aaron's sake and it.is.hard. I just want some queso or a piece of pizza or a big bowl of ice cream. This has made me more aware/sympathetic of people with food allergies and I seriously don't know how you guys do it. I just want some cheese.


7. Words I needed to hear this week

"Cast yourself into the arms of God and be very sure that if He wants anything of you, He will fit you for the work and give you strength."- St. Philip Neri
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Tuesday, February 7, 2017

A month for your marriage {week 2 - affirmation}

In case you missed it, I'm hosting a weekly marriage challenge this month (with a link-up)! Read last week's post with more details here.

How I did on Week 1, Togetherness


Well. As soon as I published last week's post, I realized we had company coming over 2 nights in a row, Logan was working the next 2 nights in a row, and then we were going over to a friend's house for the Superbowl the night after that. How the HECK were we supposed to be doing things together? (I just need to say that most weeks are most definitely not like that!)

Honestly, I don't think we managed to do something specific every day – particularly the days he was working evenings, since our mornings were full – but I'm actually thankful this challenge coincided with a crazy week. It made me more aware of the fact that we needed to seriously make time for each other amidst the craziness! Even if it was just taking 3 minutes to jam out to Queen in the kitchen when all the boys were sleeping. (True story. We're kind of weird.)

On Sunday, though, we got really creative. We were going to Mass at 4:30pm right before the Superbowl and decided to leave REALLY early so the kids could nap in the car. It had been literally 24 hours since we had seen each other (crazy weekend, I tell ya), so we picked up coffee and talked to each other. For an hour. While all 3 boys slept. It was lovely.


Photographic evidence.

So, how about you? Did you manage to make time for each other every day? Tell me all about it. Link up your posts below or share how you did in the comments!

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Week 2, Affirmation


There's a book called The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman and the basic premise is that we all have one or two top love languages. We should strive to “speak” to our loved ones in the love languages that touch them the most. For example, Logan's favorites are Physical Touch and Words of Affirmation.

I struggle with that because those are NOT my love languages AT ALL. I'm not a touchy feely person and I don't care either way if I receive compliments or not. Logan, on the other hand, very much thrives on both of those things. (My love languages are Acts of Service and Quality Time.)

Your challenge for this week: Say something affirming to your spouse every day this week.

I know that's just one of the love languages but I think affirmation has a positive effect on everyone, regardless if it's one of your top love languages or not. Plus, affirming others is something we should be doing regularly (I know I certainly need the practice)! Maybe you're already really good at this. If so, you're awesome. Feel free to do your own challenge in lieu of mine – maybe choose a different love language to focus on. The goal is just to enrich your marriage!

Some ideas of affirming your spouse:

  • Examples: "You cooked a delicious meal" or "Thank you for working so hard for our family"
  • Send a random affirming text - Logan and I are slightly obsessed with Bitmojis and they make things pretty funny too
  • Leave a handwritten note for your spouse to find upon waking up (if you don't normally wake up at the same time)
I'm praying for everyone participating! Can't wait to hear how you're doing.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

A month for your marriage {week 1 - togetherness}

This month I'm hosting a weekly challenge (with a link-up!) dedicated to our marriages. I thought it was the perfect month to do something marriage-related – with St. Valentine's Day on February 14th, National Marriage Week February 7-14, and World Marriage Day on February 12. So each week in February (probably on Tuesday or Wednesday), I'll post a brief reflection and a challenge for you to do. Don't worry, I'm doing the challenge too! Check back the following week to hear about how I did. I'll also have a new reflection and challenge for you.

Feel free to blog about your experiences and how you did so you can join the link-up! (I'm fine with you including it as part of another post, like 7QT!) Or if you don't have a blog, share in the comments. I would love for you to join me either way! (Of course I totally want you just to do the challenges regardless of whether or not you share it with me. Mmkay?)
In the book A Severe Mercy, the author Sheldon Vanauken writes about how he and his wife talked about what they thought was the problem of failed love. They thought the answer was “creeping separateness” - doing things on your own, having your own interests...instead of doing everything together. While adultery or boredom or something else might happen, it was first caused by “the creeping separateness: the failure behind the failure” (page 37).

I can definitely see that being the case. Even though Logan and I are so, so different, we have enough common interests – like our faith, sports, and board games, just to name a few. We pray together, we watch (and sometimes play) sports together, and we play games together. It's easy to get caught up in our own hobbies, where I'm reading a book and he's watching random videos, which is fine as long as we're doing things together too. But I know how easy it is to let a day or two go by and realize we haven't done much with our spouse (especially when you have kids!).

Your challenge for this week: Do something together every day this week. (I'm tempted to say that watching TV together doesn't count, but...you decide.)

Some ideas:
  • Pray (I really hope you're doing this anyway, but it's never too late to start!)
  • Play a game
  • Cook a meal together
  • Go for a walk

Keep it simple, okay? Check back next week and I'll share how I did. I'll have a link-up on the next post for for you to share your experience too! I'd love for you to join in.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Bullet journal, goal update, and a month for your marriage (7QT)

Linking up with Kelly for 7 Quick Takes!

1. RIP comments

Sooo somehow my commenting system disappeared and when I finally got it back, all of the comments stopped showing up on each post! Ugh. I've spent entirely too much time trying to fix it to no avail. I know God is probably teaching me a lesson in humility, but it just kills me to have lost all of your lovely comments on previous posts. (The comments still exist if you click over to Disqus, but who the heck is going to do that??)


2. Goal Update

It's been almost a month since I've been doing my goals for the new year, so how about a little update on how it's going? For the most part, things are going well...

I have to admit I'm struggling the most with my Bible reading challenge. It's basically reading 4-5 chapters a day, and I'm currently in the Old Testament which tends to drone on and on about cubits and animal sacrifices and things that make me go "Say what?" soooo 4-5 chapters a day is A LOT. But I skipped one day and wanted to gouge my eyes out trying to catch up the next day. What I'm learning: read as early in the day as possible because it's not going to happen if I wait until 9pm. That could be applied to any goal actually! I know it's one reason I've been able to keep a daily Rosary - the latest I normally pray is nap time!


3. Bullet Journaling

I'm totally late to this game, but I got my first bullet journal this week. At first I was scared to write in it and mess it up, but now I am totally loving it! It's the perfect brain dump, which I definitely need right now. I can't say it will completely replace my planner, but it has helped keep me accountable in getting things done on a daily basis. Ashley shared about what's working for her on the same day I got my journal in the mail, so I'm going to go ahead and take that as a sign that bullet journaling was made for me. (I'm 99% certain I will be blogging about this again in the future because I LOVE JOURNALS.)

And seriously, how cute is this one from Annunciation Designs?? It's already got built-in pages for an index, a key, and monthly set-ups, which is really nice, especially since this is my first bullet journal. And there is a saint quote on each page! Plus a list of Catholic feast days.


4. A month for your marriage

Check back here next week (Wednesday) for the start to a monthly marriage challenge I'm hosting! I'm even attempting a link-up. Logan and I have had our struggles and have learned that marriage goes much smoother when you actually put effort into it. We know so many friends who struggle in their marriages too so I'm hoping this will motivate everyone to do a little extra for their spouse. It's nothing hard, I promise - and I really hope you'll join me! (I had this idea in December and Logan has been very excited for me to actually do it.)
Look! I even made a fancy graphic!


5. Aaron Joseph (7 months)

He has officially entered the babbling phase and loves saying "da da". He loves rolling across the floor and hates sitting up, which slightly boggles my mind. Some days he is all about the solid food and other days he just wants momma's milk. Overall, he is such a joy (if we look past his terrible sleeping habits). I mean, seriously, he's so cute.


6. Chase Michael (2.5)

This dude started talking in complete sentences out of nowhere a few weeks ago. It's pretty adorable - especially when he and Landon are carrying on a conversation together. Chase is still very much in the 2-year old craziness, but his cuteness makes up for it. Usually.


7. Landon Gerard (4.5)

Somebody is SO excited about going to kindergarten next year and asks about it all.the.time. He's doing really well in preschool and is becoming quite the little helper at home, always willing to (try, at least) make Aaron happy when I'm in the middle of something. I think Chase has been driving him crazy lately so it's nice that he really loves Aaron.

Well, there's an update. Hope you enjoyed it. Have a lovely weekend!

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Just do something {gifts for those experiencing pregnancy loss}

There was one aspect of experiencing pregnancy loss that really surprised me – most people just really don't know what to do or what to tell you. Some people say inappropriate things, whether intentionally or not, and other people avoid you altogether. So that makes me think that sometimes the best thing to do is to show the grieving person/couple that you care for them if you're not sure of what to say. (I just have to say that I had NO CLUE what to do or say either before Levi and even struggled with it until recently when I had the epiphany to just do something.) 

This past year I had several friends miscarry. While I was tempted to just leave them alone (because there are so many facets to pregnancy loss), I felt prompted to do small things. It doesn't take much to let people know you are thinking about them or praying for them.

And if you don't know what to do, let me just encourage you: just do something! Sending a card or flowers or a meal is perfect (don't underestimate the importance of food!!), but in case you want some other ideas, I've compiled a list. I hope it's helpful!

One more thing before I get to gift ideas: if you think you've already missed the time frame to send something, you haven't! I think it's a sweet gesture to send a thoughtful gift on your loved one's due date or the one-year anniversary of the loss. I can guarantee they will still be thinking about their precious baby. It's never too late to show someone you're thinking of them!


Books


  • After Miscarriage: A Catholic Woman's Companion to Healing and Hope by Karen Edmisten
  • Empty Arms: Hope and Support for Those Who Have Suffered a Miscarriage, Stillbirth, or Tubal Pregnancy by Pam Vredevelt


  • Life-Giving Love: Embracing God's Beautiful Design for Marriage by Kimberly Hahn
  • I Will Carry You: The Sacred Dance of Grief and Joy by Angie Smith


Something with the baby's name





Something with the baby's birthstone


  • A rosary - Logan gave me a rosary several years ago made with Levi's birthstone that also has the date of his death/birth on the back of the crucifix. It's one of my favorite gifts to this day!

  • A necklace – these are a couple I made myself (super easy, I promise, just browse your nearest craft store for the materials) but there are a million options on Etsy. If the baby was named you could include the initial or full name.


A print with a quote or verse related to pregnancy loss





Miscellaneous


  • A box they can put all of their mementos in to remember their baby (i.e. ultrasound pictures, cards from others) – I think the photo boxes from craft stores are perfect for this and actually have one for all 4 of my boys. They retail for $3.99 but are often on sale for much less.
  • A journal to write down their thoughts and prayers through the grieving process
  • Donate to an organization in memory of their loved one – most places will send the recipient a card informing them of the donation. Our favorite organization is Woman's New Life Center in the New Orleans area – they support women dealing with unplanned pregnancies and just really have a beautiful ministry.

Of course this is not an exhaustive list by any means...just a few ideas to get you thinking. For those of you who have experienced pregnancy loss, I would love to hear from you - what was the most thoughtful gift you received? Or what would you have liked from a loved one? Please share in the comments!

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