"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, August 30, 2015

10 years later

Ten years ago, I was starting college. It was a rough transition, since I moved into the dorms and didn't have any friends from high school with me. I was at a school less than an hour away from my hometown, but my sister and 2 best friends were at a different college, a couple hours away. Logan was still living with his parents and going to school in New Orleans, so I was only going to see him on the weekends if I went home.

After 5 days of classes, Hurricane Katrina was projected to hit New Orleans. There was a mandatory evacuation, so my parents and I headed west, away from the storm. It was Saturday, August 27, 2005.

The next day, I wrote this in my journal:

Wow. This is really surreal. Meteorologists, politicians, and other people (including my dad) seem to think that this hurricane will mean the end of New Orleans. They’re predicting up to 20 and 30 feet of water in the city. Right now my family is assuming that we won’t have much of a house to go home to. It’s pretty scary. It’s been difficult to call people with the networks being so busy. I talked to Logan for about 10 minutes (if that) the entire day. I’m not sure when I’ll get to see him. Ah, I just don’t know what to think. This is a life-changing event. I might not have school for a LONG TIME. It really sucks to think about what could happen in the next couple of days. I just keep telling myself that everything happens for a reason. Man, I don’t know what else to say…or think. Everything is in God’s hands. Maybe the hurricane will just disappear…

I still remember my mom saying that she couldn't sleep that night. We've evacuated several times before - it's just part of life in southeast Louisiana - but that was the first time we really wondered if we would go back to a standing house.

The storm took an eastern turn and hit on Monday, August 29, 2005. By the end of the day, we were hearing reports about neighborhoods that were underwater and people being stranded on their roofs. It was crazy seeing all these familiar places on the news. Thankfully, we heard that our neighborhood was fine - just didn't have electricity, sewage, or water. We weren't allowed back home for a few days and ended up having wind damage to our roof and fence. But otherwise, we were counting our blessings!

Although the storm damage itself ended up being minimal, many aspects of life changed. It was hard getting in touch with people because the cell phone networks were so busy. I would go days without hearing from Logan, who had evacuated to Arkansas. My classes were cancelled for a week and a half. All schools in New Orleans closed for the entire semester, which meant my school took an influx of new students - including Logan. My campus also had a hurricane relief area for weeks.

My brother and a few friends were living in a house that was flooded, so he and two of his roommates moved in with my parents - and brought their small business with them. So I had a couple extra "big brothers" when I went home on weekends. It seemed like so many friends ended up moving away or going to school several states away. Never before had a hurricane affected life that much.

The crazy thing is that in many ways, it could have been much worse. If the storm had stayed on track towards New Orleans, even more neighborhoods would have been underwater. And so many times I wonder if it's worth staying here. Each hurricane season we wonder, is this the year another big storm hits?

But anyone who has lived in New Orleans and the surrounding area knows that it's a special place. Good music, good food, and faith-filled people. We know New Orleans is a stronger and better place because of Katrina.

And unless God calls me elsewhere, I'm happy - and proud - to call Louisiana my home.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Because friendships are important

I consider myself pretty blessed when it comes to the friends I have in my life. There are several people I consider my best friends and even more that I consider pretty good friends.

But it wasn't always that way.

In high school, I had two best friends. Seriously, two. Sure, there were other people I considered friends, but as far as hanging out and calling people? Just my two BFFs. And my twin sister.

And then in college I had a pretty awesome roommate (hi Lauren!) and a couple other friends while I lived in the dorms. But nursing school was pretty crazy, and it was hard to stay close with old friends, even though I went home on weekends. And then Logan and I broke up for an extended period, my parents moved out-of-state, friends moved on to other things, and...I was pretty lonely.

While I definitely think quality over quantity is more important when it comes to friendships, I also think it's possible to have more than a handful of people that you consider close friends. And in case you need a little help in the friend department, I thought I would share a few things that I do to help foster and maintain friendships. I hope you find it helpful!
Our high school reunion with my 2 BFFs...one is still one of my best friends!
Stay in touch.
Text, call, email, you name it. There's really no excuse these days as to why you haven't talked to a friend in over a month, because there are a million ways to keep in touch. My fave these days is texting, because it takes about 10 seconds to send a "Hey! How are you doing?" or "Can you say a prayer for me please? Rough morning" to a friend, and it doesn't matter if your day is full of diaper blowouts and toddler tantrums...you can still text in the midst of the craziness. (And you'll probably feel a little less alone.)

Show up.

Never underestimate the importance of showing up! Birthday parties, girls' night out, etc. If I invite you to things and you consistently don't show up, no offense, but...I'm going to wonder if you even want to be friends.

Let some friendships go.
This one is hard but important. Sometimes someone might not want to be friends, and that's okay. I know there are some people who used to be my best friends that seemed to fall off the face of the earth once I got married. Or they just kind of pull back as situations change. If you're constantly reaching out and they don't reach back, don't take it personally. Focus on the friends you do have! (Do keep in mind that some people just go through periods of needing space and might reach out again at some point. Welcome them with open arms!)

Be honest.
This goes two ways - be honest when sharing about your life (even the hard stuff! especially the hard stuff!) and be honest when a friend asks your opinion. I've always been a pretty honest person, but I've learned to not be so blunt sometimes (um, I try, anyways...). And I really think most people appreciate honesty, as long as you are tactful about it. If I ask a friend for an opinion, I want the truth! Not just what you think I want to hear. So if I'm complaining about my husband a little too much, you can tell me. Really. I need a kick in the pants sometimes.

Go out of your way sometimes.

Your friend really needs a babysitter but that means you have to wake up earlier and rearrange your day. Just do it. And don't expect anything in return! (I firmly believe that you will be rewarded, whether in this life or the next.)

Remember the important stuff.

It's the anniversary of the day your friend lost a parent. It's almost the due date for the baby your friend miscarried. Send a card, shoot a text, or bring her out for dinner if she could use the distraction. Write those dates down if you need help remembering! I've texted on the wrong day more than I care to admit, but my friends still appreciated the fact that I was thinking about them and praying for them.

Surprise her.
Know your friend is feeling just a little overwhelmed with life right now? Mail her a gift card to her favorite coffee place and don't tell her beforehand. Drop off something sweet for her on her birthday to find on her doorstep when she gets home.

Don't just offer - just do it.
It's pretty common for people to say, "Let me know if you need anything!" - especially after having a baby, losing a baby, or just going through a rough period. And I know during those times I HAVE NO IDEA what I need. I just know I need help! If you ask if I need anything, I'll probably say, "I'm good, thanks!" But if you just say, "Hey, I'm bringing you dinner tomorrow night. Is that okay?" I will say, "YES, you rock!!" I'll also love you forever and ever.

Quit making excuses, and don't give up!
I used to make excuses that I was too busy for friends, that finding good friends was too hard, and that people never seemed to reciprocate when I tried to be friends. Don't give up! Chances are there is someone out there feeling just as discouraged as you are, and God will bring you together at the right time. Keep being a good friend, and one day you'll realize you have the best friends in the world.

So...what do you think? What would you add to the list??
"No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.John 15:13

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Because I can't put together a coherent blog post

Well, it's official. August is THE hardest month to blog (just like last year). And I don't even have kids in school!

Remember the auction Logan and I were in charge of last year? I'm doing it again. Because I'm crazy God told me to. BUT it is much less stressful this year because (a) I'm not pregnant, (b) I don't have a newborn), and (c) I actually know what I'm doing now. Plus this time the best sister-in-law ever is co-chairing with me.

So that's that. I'm also teaching CCD at my church parish again this year. Can you believe this is my fifth year? So crazy.

I have been trying really hard to simplify things and make life more enjoyable for everyone in our little family, so a few things I've been doing (that have totally been helping) include:

  • decluttering, decluttering, decluttering....and decluttering some more
  • unload the dishwasher before breakfast
  • stay on top of the dishes for the rest of the day (which can only be done if you unload the dishwasher ASAP)
  • do only one load of laundry a day and no more - washed, dried, folded, and put away
  • pray!
  • read more books!

It's pretty cool how much better I feel about life when I'm being intentional about keeping up with the never-ending dishes and laundry. And then I feel like I have more time to pray and read books to the kids. Win-win.

A few other things of note, if you care what's been going on in our little family:

  • Dr. H - my OB/GYN- is retiring next year. *sob* But I have found THE perfect doctor, something I never thought would happen. Seriously. (I started a blog post about it but I'm having a serious problem finishing things these days.)
  • I'm pretty sure Chase could walk by himself if he wanted to...but he won't even try. He's content pushing around anything and everything while walking behind it.
  • Landon is doing his second session of soccer - except this time he also gets to try football, basketball, and t-ball too!
I suppose that's enough randomness for one day. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

What I'm loving lately (5Faves)

I've started a few blog posts recently but can't seem to finish them...so how about I share some of my favorite things lately instead? This is not a sponsored post nor are there affiliate links...I just really like these things. Mmkay? Okay. Onward. (But if you're buying something on Amazon totally find another blogger to support! Or shop through Amazon Smile to support a charity - one of my faves is Woman's New Life Center in the New Orleans area.)

The Fresh Factory deodorant
My sister told me about this deodorant her friend makes that I should try, but then I forgot about it because that's what I do. BUT Jess (my sis) gave me a try-it size as part of my birthday gift last month, and after a few weeks of using it....I can honestly say I love it. The only thing I find weird (but am kind of getting used to) is that you have to put it on with your fingers, as opposed to rolling it on. But I love it so much I can deal. You can add essential oils to it if you want but I haven't tried that yet.

Nalgene water bottles
I've been on a search for the perfect sippy cup and I am fairly certain it doesn't exist. However, we've had the best luck with these Nalgene water bottles. Landon has been having his for over a year now and I recently ordered the green one for Chase because all his other cups are making me CRAZY. And now I'm color-coding everything - i.e. blue toothbrush for Landon, green toothbrush for Chase. Because I'm weird like that.

Shorter Christian Prayer
I really want to dedicate another post to this, but how about a short version? I've grown a love for the Liturgy of the Hours but got frustrated about the fact that it's nearly impossible to do all the hours when you have kids (I'm an "all in" kind of gal). Then I discovered Shorter Christian Prayer which is just morning and evening prayer. Which is totally doable! And the book is kind of adorable (is that weird to say?) and I love it. (Hopefully I'll expand on this in a future post at some point.)

Chews Life Rosary
The second I saw these rosaries, I knew they would be a perfect gift! So I bought one for our new goddaughter for her baptism. It is super cute and I want one for Chase now!

Usborne books
I bought their Alphabet sticker book at a homeschool conference in April, and Landon LOVES it. So I gladly ordered more books when my sister hosted a party last month. (Landon is looking at his big dinosaur book in the picture - which goes perfectly with his toy dinos!) Then my sister had to go and sign up as an Usborne consultant which means we will buy even more books whenever we can fit it in the budget. But that's okay because they're awesome books. I just hosted a party for her and earned a bunch of free and half-price books which is SO FUN and I'm totally counting down the days until our books arrive.

Go check out more favorites at Jenna's!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Livin' the good life (7QT)

Linking up with Kelly this week! You should read her post from last week about her family's journey with Spinal Muscular Atrophy. So inspiring.

1. Did you hear the news that my friend Lauren shared? Go click over and look at her adorable pictures!
Landon was 6 months old at Lauren's wedding (and now he's 3 years), so we've been praying for this news for a long time! We are SO excited for them. (Totally not the best picture of me, but you look beautiful, Lauren!)

2. Logan and I have a new godchild! Felicity Jane. We both were already godparents but this is the first time we've been godparents to the same baby, which is really exciting. She is so stinkin' cute!

Thanks to my cousin and his wife for asking us :)

3. Kristin Lavransdatter. I'm trudging my way through the 1124 pages (currently about 40% of the way through), but I have to say, even though it's taking me forever...I love it. This book is so Catholic and I don't know if the author intended it to be (since she wasn't a Catholic when she started writing...but later converted), but yeah. I'm glad my SIL is reading it at the same time as me so I can talk to someone about it!

4. We've been doing all the summer things lately. First up, Cool Zoo at the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans! It's a really neat splash park. Only downside is that you have to pay extra in addition to admission to the zoo (but thankfully we have a membership so we only had to pay for the water part).

5. We also took a little drive to Mississippi to visit Gulf Islands Waterpark. The boys had SO much fun. (Normally we don't do that much in one week but realized last minute that last Friday was the last day we could use our rain checks at the waterpark.)

Chase pooped out much sooner than Landon, so I hung out with him in the shade while Logan played with Landon.

6. Is it possible to have too many popsicles and snowballs in August? Please tell me no.

Landon was voluntarily giving Chase bites of his snowball. He can be sweet when he wants to be...;)
And in case anyone is in need of a new snowball flavor, try peach. It's my new favorite. (You're welcome.)

7. I would just like to say that I know it seems like I've been over-sharing on the blog here lately (i.e. NFP, sex)....trust me, I know. But I can honestly say that sometimes I feel very inspired to write about certain things (usually when I'm praying the rosary), no matter how crazy they seem, and although I would rather not put some things out there for the world to see - I also know that those seemingly personal posts are the ones that seem to resonate with people. And if only ONE person gets something from it, then, well...it's worth it.

So thanks for putting up with me (and still being friends with me in real life! ha). Y'all are the best.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Some things you never forget (and our NFP status)

Exactly 6 years ago today, we conceived our first son (who is now in Heaven). It might sound absolutely crazy but I knew during that marital act that something was different. I remember thinking to myself, I think we just made a baby. And turns out we did - with God's help, of course.

This year I remember it even more because the calendar year is exactly the same. It was a Monday. The next day, Tuesday, August 11, I found out my uncle was killed in an accident - leaving behind a wife and 4 kids. Looking back, it's so crazy to think of the whole "God giveth and He taketh away" you always hear. Because seriously, He does. (One of my good friends actually conceived her son the day we lost Levi. True story.)

I just want to randomly throw in here that my late uncle's youngest daughter just gave birth to a beautiful baby boy this weekend, who is named after her father, and although I can't imagine how bittersweet it will be to celebrate the anniversary of his passing tomorrow...I know my uncle is smiling big time about his first grandson. Maybe he's high-fiving Levi, too. :)

It was a little crazy to think that Logan and I were actually trying to have a baby at the time. We were married for barely 2 months, I was unemployed at the time and couldn't find a new job, Logan still had his high school job making not a lot of money, and um....yeah. Looking back, it seems pretty stupid. And I know a lot of people thought we were crazy at the time. (But people are going to think we're crazy no matter what, so whatever.)

But when I think about how that little boy we conceived in those early days of marriage has taught us so much about life and that losing him has truly prepared us for other trials...I'm so grateful we were open to life. Even when it seemed nuts to the rest of the world.

Is it weird that I remember each time I conceived a baby? Seriously. I remember Landon and Chase's conceptions. It's like God gives me a little heads up.

I feel like God gives me a heads up about a lot of things...if I'm willing to listen. Because while we were trying to use NFP to avoid pregnancy until my cycle got going again, I'm starting to wonder why we're doing that. I might not get my cycle back for months. Months that I could be with my husband (if you know what I mean)! Charting is annoying sometimes - a lot of times - and I can't help but think that we're probably avoiding for nothing. My reproductive system is unpredictable, as history has shown.

Not to mention we've just been SO AGGRAVATED at having no "safe" days in like 2 months...so we haven't really been following Creighton rules. Ahem. (Screw you, green baby stamps!! Jk. Kind of.)

I've also just been thinking (and praying) about being content with life, no matter what comes our way - so that made me start thinking about the possibility of not being able to get pregnant for awhile. Because it's certainly possible. Would I be happy with just my 2 boys?

I want to be (I am now, though!). Since Logan and I both feel that our family isn't complete just yet - even if we can't get pregnant again - we both would love to adopt if given the opportunity.

I think giving God complete control of my reproductive system, as well as the number of children we might have (or not have) is important for us to come to accept whatever God has planned for us. (I know God has complete control anyway, but to stop using NFP to avoid is an act of surrender for both Logan and myself.)

So there you have it...my really random thoughts about all the things baby-related. We really want more kids but we also know it's not a guarantee. Logan and I have both thought about how it would be to not conceive later when we're actively trying - after trying so hard to avoid now - and that thought is just way too depressing. So we're just giving God the reigns and praying that He will give us a baby if/when He thinks we're ready.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Our daily "yes"

I've been thinking about the Annunciation a lot lately, and how Mary so willingly said “yes” to what God was asking of her.

There's no doubt in my mind that Mary was the humblest of women, since she was conceived without sin. But at the same time you have to wonder just what was going through Mary's mind in that moment when the angel called her “favored one.” Maybe she had been knowing that God had big plans for her but wasn't expecting it to be so soon. She was still a young girl, after all. Maybe Mary knew that God was going to ask her to do something BIG. So when that angel appeared and said, “The Lord is with you,” she probably realized that this was it. The big moment. That moment when her life would change.

Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:28-33)

On Sunday night, Logan was at work and I was having a difficult time with the boys. They're generally well-behaved, but I guess the combination of a busy weekend and whatever age-appropriate situation they're in right now (Chase = teething, Landon = 3-year old testing his limits) made for a very drawn-out and exhausting evening.

Landon was fighting me on every little thing – seriously, EVERY LITTLE THING- and I've come to realize he is a dawdler. Seriously, the kid takes 10 minutes to flush the toilet sometimes because, oh look, there's a bug on the wall! And, Mom, what's Marley doing? And I like going on the river. And a million other thoughts about everything other than the one thing he's supposed to be doing. I do not have time for this.

Then sweet baby Chase must be getting his one-year molars because OH MY GOSH when did my sweet baby start being so whiny and fighting sleep?

So yeah. Sunday evening tested my patience big time and I have to say I failed big time. I was exhausted from a crazy weekend, I didn't have my partner in crime (Logan) to talk me down from my frustration – or to help me with the kids – and by the time the kids were in bed it was almost 10pm. They're usually in bed by 8:30.

As the evening seemed to get crazier and crazier, I couldn't help but think how my reaction to the situation is not what I would have liked. I yelled a lot, I almost cried, and I even started to think that there's no way I could handle even more kids when I couldn't even handle the two I have!

(Never mind the fact that evenings like this are RARE and that I usually handle crazy moments better than I did this particular night. The devil is working hard, for sure.)

The next day or so, I was thinking about being able to accept everything that comes at me in life – even the ordinary (albeit overwhelming) evenings by myself – with grace. I truly wanted to just offer everything up to God in the moment, but I had a hard time getting past the “Can't this just be over already?? I'M TIRED.” I even had the thought that maybe someone in my life really needed some extra graces at the time, and I could offer my evening up for them.

But really, I just wanted everything to get easier.

But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And the angel said to her in reply, “The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.” Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her. (Luke 1:34-38)

How can I have the faith and trust that Mary had at the Annunciation? Granted, she is a saint, and I am not, but I really do think that what makes a saint is being able to say “yes” in everything – the death of a loved one, the difficult relationship with a family member, the struggles with infertility, and even the seemingly insignificant things in life, like overwhelming moments in motherhood.

Mary was to give birth to the SON OF GOD. She could have done what any normal human being would have done in this situation – laughed at the absurdity of it all, asked “Why?”, or even run away! Some people might even say something along the lines of: “No, thank you, that's too much for me to handle.” But Mary didn't even hesitate. She said “yes” with her whole heart, without wavering in faith.

I wonder if she knew that the salvation of the whole world was resting upon her response. Did she know all of the suffering that would go along with her “yes”? Did she know she would eventually see her son beaten, mocked, and crucified?

I can only assume that Mary knew great suffering would come along with everything Gabriel was telling her. But she still said “yes.”

For most people, there probably won't be one big moment where God is asking us to do something BIG. But there will be many (hundreds! thousands!) of small moments where will need to say, “Okay, Lord, I don't know why you want me to go through this right now, but I trust in You and in Your plan for me.”

May we all have the grace to say “yes” to whatever God may be asking of us...even if it involves pain and suffering. Because wherever there is suffering, joy is soon to follow.


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