"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

Friday, December 29, 2017

8 years later

Grief is a funny thing. Just when you think that maybe you're actually moving on, the sadness hits you like a ton of bricks. I didn't think I was going to post today, because it's already been a really hard year, for a bunch of reasons that I haven't really explained on the blog, and I didn't really want to dwell on the most difficult day of my life. Yet here I am.

It was 8 years ago today that I held our firstborn son, Levi, who never took a breath outside the womb. 8 years ago that my heart was completely ripped into pieces and I honestly thought I would never recover.

The years following didn't look like we planned. Do they ever? Yet God has this crazy way of leading you exactly where you need to go. I know I'm a better person, Logan and I have a better marriage, and that we love our children more because of what happened with Levi. Gold is refined in fire, after all.

Logan and I often talk about the future of our family. We love our boys so much and life is so full already. How could we possibly open our hearts to another? Especially when that openness can result in another big loss?

I have to remind myself that even a loss can be a blessing. No matter what, we would still have another child, we would still have another saint in heaven, and our family would still grow in size and in love.

Most years, on Levi's birthday, I've been able to think about him with gratitude. I still very much remember those months he was in my womb (probably because my brain hadn't yet been sucked out by childbirth, ha!). I still vividly remember the first time I felt flutters and the first time Logan was able to feel Levi kick. Those memories are such blessings. (I also vividly remember the first time I threw up from morning sickness, but you don't want to hear about that, do you?)

This morning, though, I had to catch myself from bursting into tears. I felt so silly, too. It was 8 years ago! I have 3 healthy boys now! Why the heck am I crying?

Because my heart will never be the same. Levi took a little part of it with him to heaven, and by golly, I really hope I make it there to see him again.

I guess I'm also a little emotional because it's no guarantee that we will even have another baby. Levi is a big reminder of that, especially this year because I'm not pregnant or nursing a baby like the last 6 years.

And that's one thing that Logan and I always think about....we've been taking some time to discern when exactly is the right time to have another baby (this is the first time we've had to do this, really), and while we're not quite there yet, what happens if we're not able to get pregnant when we're ready? Or we do get pregnant and keep suffering losses?

Being open to life is so complicated. But God will give us the grace we need. We just need to ask for it.

Levi Anthony, pray for us! We love you. ❤️

Christmas Day 2017. No fancy church clothes because sickness has plagued our house for a week now...

Thursday, December 28, 2017

My favorite books I read in 2017

Whew, it was hard to pick my favorites this year. I spent much time cultivating a list of books to read and made sure there were good ones. There were! (Stay tuned for 2018's list!) I ultimately decided to pick ones that I would recommend to anyone, anywhere, and saved my honorable mentions for more specific audiences (like married people, people experiencing pregnancy loss, etc.). You'll see what I mean.

I'm kind of stingy with my 5-star ratings, but all of these received that precious title from me. All of these books have stayed with me throughout the year and many will likely be reread in the future. Just so you know. Now let's get to it!

33 Days to Merciful Love by Fr. Michael Gaitley

I'm looking forward to reading this again. It just might be my yearly Lenten read.

Left to Tell by Immaculate Ilibagiza

Immaculee's story and trust in God is amazing and inspiring. I literally read this in 2 days.

Hinds' Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard

This was not what I was expecting but it came highly recommended and I loved it.

The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis

I still think about this a lot. This past year I've been even more convinced of how sneaky the devil can be, and this book is the perfect reflection of that.

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande

People in the health care industry will probably find this more fascinating than most, but I think it's an important read for everyone.

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

This is extremely relevant right now, as it deals with white supremacy and racism. Page-turner, for sure. Some parts are hard to read, though.

Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend

When I first read this, I thought that maybe it would only be good for people who have difficult relationships. But now I think that anyone could gain some insight from this book. Relationships are hard...but they don't have to be.

Tattoos on the Heart by Fr. Gregory Boyle

This will make you think twice about stereotypes...I think Fr. Greg just came out with a new book too!

A Father Who Keeps His Promises by Scott Hahn

I just finished this so it'll probably be in my next Recent Reads post. Not the easiest read at times (but maybe I was just distracted by other books too), but it helped me greatly appreciate and better understand the Old Testament and God's plan for salvation.

Honorable Mentions:

  • A Severe Mercy: A Story of Faith, Tragedy, and Triumph by Sheldon Vanauken - mentioned in this Recent Reads post
  • The 5 Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell
  • Blessed is the Fruit of Thy Womb: Rosary Reflections on Miscarriage, Stillbirth, and Infant Loss by Heidi Indahl - you can read my review here
  • The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian
  • Boundaries in Marriage by Dr. Cloud and Dr. Townsend - I'll be sharing about this one in my next Recent Reads post but basically, I think every married couple should read this!
  • Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott - I think every writer should read this, but fair warning, she has a bit of a potty mouth and a weird sense of humor (which I personally found hilarious)
  • The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery - the word that comes to mind when I think about this book is "delightful." Predictable, yes, but such a fun read.

I probably could add a few more buuuuut I think that's enough. You're welcome.

Oh, and in case you're curious, I've read a total of 54 books this year and might even finish one or two more before the year is officially over. I definitely did not expect that (my goal was 36) since I knew Aaron would be more mobile and I wouldn't be nursing anymore halfway through the year. I'm still trying to decide on my goal for 2018...

So what about you? What were your favorite books this year?

Thursday, December 21, 2017

What I'm loving lately

Well, it's been a more difficult month than expected....so perfect time to share some things that have brought me joy lately, right? I know Christmas is like 10 minutes away (okay...3-ish days), which is crazy, and I should probably be cleaning the house or baking a dessert or something. But bloggers gonna blog. Some of my fave things lately:

Every Sacred Sunday

At Edel, I had the privilege of meeting the lovely ladies responsible for this beautiful journal. I also got to look at the prototype and knew I wanted it! Logan and I have actually been using this together. The idea is to read the Sunday (or Holy Day) readings together before Mass, pick out our favorite verses, talk about it, and write down prayer requests and what we're thankful for that week. We haven't been perfect about it, but I love the times we've done it and I'm looking forward to having this journal for the entire liturgical year!

Rooted in Hope 

Gosh, two journals, Jen? Yes. That's how I roll. Honestly, I haven't been the best about the actual journaling part in this one, but I'm loving the Scripture parts and reflections. My favorite part is probably the big layout at the beginning of the week, where you can plan out each day, list tasks you need to accomplish, and things to take care of to prepare for Christmas, etc. It makes my organizational heart so happy.

Random games with Logan

Why yes, we randomly played Bananagrams on a Tuesday morning. Logan was determined to beat me....and didn't. 3 times. He's still a little bitter. (Love you babe! Don't ever question my spelling skills again.)

The weather

It was in the 70s today. I'm okay with wearing flip flops in December. I will never move. #louisianaforever
It's supposed to drop into the 40s for Christmas Eve and Day, I think, which is cool. But I'd be okay wearing flip flops then too.

Our Advent wreath time

Okay, I should say that we have kept it very simple and low-key around here, which is good because life got crazy. So that means we only light the Advent wreath on Sundays. But Landon (5) and Aaron (1) love it. Landon sings O Come, O Come Emmanuel with us now which is adorable and he usually has a really good answer to our reflection question. It's cool having kids get old enough to participate more! Chase (3) just tries to ruin everything by tackling Landon to the ground while we sing, but we'll take what we can get.

My kids waving to strangers and making their day

Chase and Aaron like to wave at random people. It's weird....but pretty cute. This week, I was at the store with just Chase, and he starts waving at someone. I turn, and realize he's waving at this older lady 20 feet away who doesn't notice. She seemed a little stressed. But then she suddenly noticed Chase waving at her....and she immediately smiled big and waved back. It was such a precious moment. Crazy how a simple wave and smile could really turn around someone's day.

My crazy toddler throwing cereal everywhere

....just kidding. I don't love that. This is what happens when I try to blog. 😉 (Also, evidence that having a dog can be helpful sometimes. But that's also why she's fat.)

I hope all of you have a blessed and joyful Christmas season!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Currently {Advent edition}

recovering from a crazy first week of Advent. For the first time ever, I was 100% done with Christmas shopping and had very, very low expectations for our family...yet so many unexpected things came up and I felt so overwhelmed. Life is crazy sometimes.

celebrating some of our favorite feasts day this month...including St. Nicholas Day! It has become one of our favorite traditions.

journaling in Rooted in Hope whenever I can, but not nearly as much as I would like. It's hard fitting it into my prayer routine already, but I'll keep trying!

struggling with getting quiet time in the morning. Baby boy is up SO early.

reading Scott Hahn's A Father Who Keeps His Promises. It was a slow beginning, but now I'm totally into it and can't believe how perfectly it goes along with Advent!

thankful that the stomach bug did not spread to our entire family and that we've still managed to avoid the ER with all of the crazy injuries. Three boys (in 4 years) are not for the faint of heart. SO MUCH WRESTLING. SO MUCH JUMPING. SO LITTLE FEAR.

loving the Christmas cards we're getting in the mail, especially the ones with accompanying letters! Makes me want to start doing a letter instead, sharing details about our family's year.

praying for anyone not feeling especially joyous this time of year. I know the holidays are hard for many.

shocked that it snowed on Friday! First time in 9 years here - Logan and I were engaged the last time. And I couldn't help but think how perfect it was on the feast of the Immaculate Conception. Mary, conceived without sin....white as snow. And proof that miracles do happen. 😉

pondering a different aspect of Advent this year. Usually I'm more focused on Jesus's birth, but now I can't help but focus on His second coming. I think the fact that I'm not pregnant or nursing this year is giving me a different perspective. It's kind of neat, though.

excited about my new blogging mastermind group. I've been wanting to be part of one for awhile now!

realizing that today is Logan's and my 8.5 year anniversary. No, I don't normally notice half-birthdays or half-anniversaries....but for some reason I did today. On the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. ❤️ (and now that I've made that connection I'm pretty sure I'll remember our half-anniversary every year)

asking for prayers for a special intention this week. Please and thank you! Let me know if I can pray for you in a special way too 😊

looking forward to Gaudete Sunday, when we bake and decorate cookies! Landon asks every year when we will do it, and I love how I can tell him when we light the pink (rose, I know) candle!

planning our schedule for Christmas - when to go to Mass (twice), when to give the kids their presents, etc. Logan's work schedule makes things a little complicated...

watching more TV than usual. The shows I'm trying to keep up with are The Good Doctor, This is Us, and Designated Survivor. They're just all sooo good!

Happy Advent and happy feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Recent Reads (vol.9)

After not reading much during October thanks to my daily blogging endeavor, I've picked up the books again! I hit the 50-book mark for the second year in a row, which is CRAZY. (My dad is always like "That's more books than I've read in my life! LOL.) But I'm realizing that reading books is part of my self-care. So. Yeah. Here are a few I've read lately:

And Then There Were None by Agathie Christie

This was my first book by Agathie Christie, and I have to admit I read it partially because I wanted to watch the 2-episode adaptation featuring the guy who plays Poldark. The other reason is that I found out that Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey, Beauty and The Beast) narrates the audiobook. He did a great job, the book was good, and the mini-series was good too even though they totally changed things and added a couple inappropriate scenes. Ugh. But yeah, now I'm intrigued about Murder on the Orient Express, since it's a movie out right now...

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott

If you write and/or consider yourself a writer, you need to read this book. Anne manages to be helpful and hilarious at the same time, reassuring the reader that while writing is hard, it's worth it. Maybe her sense of humor isn't for everyone, but I definitely LOL'd a lot. (There were like at least 2 times that I rolled my eyes at some minor detail - like when she refers to God as a she - but that won't stop me from recommending this to anyone who writes.)

Fire by Night by Lynn Austin

This was #2 in a trilogy. It was a little predictable in regards to the love story aspect, but it was still adorable. It takes place during the Civil War and the main character becomes a nurse, which was totally up my alley. It was interesting reading about the beginning of nursing. Some aspects of nursing have changed over the years, but the basic concept is still the same, which is amazing.

A Tangled Mercy by Joy Jordan-Lake

This was my first Kindle First read, and I really enjoyed it. It goes back and forth in time, from 1822 to 2015, and takes place in Charleston. The main character is trying to find answers about why her parents left Charleston and why her mother was obsessed with events from 1822. I pretty much fell in love with several of the characters. Considering I had just read a book about the Civil War, and this book had a lot to do with slavery, it was a nice follow-up in a way. The author even tied in real events, but I won't spoil it for anyone!

Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life by Marshall B. Rosenberg

This was hard to get through at times (oh, the cheesy poetry!) and perhaps could have been presented a little better...but I gained some life-changing insights. So I’m glad I stuck with it!

What books have you read lately? You know I love to hear!

Monday, November 27, 2017

What's for breakfast? {five favorites}

One of the things I do to keep our food budget down is try really, really hard to make breakfast (ahead of time) from scratch. I love baking, I love breakfast, and I really do notice our grocery expenses being less when I'm making more of an effort to do so.

I tend to make the saaaaame recipes over and over because I am a creature of habit, and I know what I like and what our family likes. So here are 5 of our favorites! Linking up with Ashley...you should too :)

1. Really Good Blueberry Muffins from Andrea Dekker

I probably make these the most! The recipe says it makes 24 muffins but I can usually get almost 36 - just depends on how much you want the tops to overflow. I've never put the extra sugar on top. They freeze great so I always keep a dozen out for the next morning and stick the rest in the freezer.
The boys all love these and there are always crumbs everywhere but totally worth it, in my opinion.

2. Best Banana Bread

I couldn't find the exact link of the recipe I use but this is basically it - just use 4 bananas! It takes just a few minutes to whip up and is the reason why I always buy a crapload of bananas. I want to make sure I have enough to make this deliciousness!

3. English muffin bread from Money Saving Mom

I love bread. I make bread a lot. This is probably my favorite bread recipe ever. I should just leave it at that but I want to add that it freezes great (it makes 2 loaves so I freeze one, already sliced) and it definitely tastes best toasted, with butter. Sometimes we eat just the toast (I like butter and jelly, Logan and the boys like butter and honey) but we usually serve this with scrambled eggs. SO GOOD.

4. Chocolate banana bread from Money Saving Mom

I make this when I'm a banana short for the the real banana bread or when we want some chocolatey goodness. It's a fun breakfast treat on a holiday or feast day!

5. Homemade Freezer Biscuits from Money Saving Mom

I will never buy canned biscuits anymore because of this recipe. Seriously. I try to have these in the freezer when we have company spending the night because they're so easy to pull out in the morning and who the heck doesn't like biscuits?
Throwback to 2015. Landon still loves to help!
Okay, I'm off to make one of these recipes now. Ha.

Do you have any breakfast faves? Let a gal know!

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Forget the turkey {Advent thoughts}

I know we haven't even gotten to Thanksgiving yet, but I just can't stop thinking about Advent. I love Advent. I'm a little bummed at how ridiculously short it is this year and wondering what the heck we're supposed to do in that awkward week after Thanksgiving before Advent starts (since usually that week is the 1st week of Advent) but...I guess I'll survive.

A couple of my besties are giving me a copy of Rooted in Hope (an Advent journal specifically for this year) which I'm so dang excited about. I really wanted it as soon as I found out about it but it's just not in the budget right now so I'm just really grateful for my friends and their awesomeness.

I'm usually pretty terrible at celebrating feast days (unless it's a Solemnity) but tend to make up for it during Advent. We go big on St. Nicholas Day (December 6) by filling stockings, we usually have Mexican for either St. Juan Diego (December 9) or Our Lady of Guadalupe (December 12) or heck, sometimes both because we love Mexican food. Special crafts for the boys usually consist of printing out a coloring page of said saint because I am so fancy. But they love it and remember saints that way so yay for lazy liturgical living. Oh, and those CCC videos help too!

Logan made the executive decision to not take out the Jesse Tree this year. I really do love it but have yet been able to do it every single day so I guess it's okay to take a year off and come back motivated next year. We can't do it all, folks.

This will be the first Advent in 7 years (SEVEN, people) that I'm not pregnant or nursing a little baby. It kind of blows my mind, considering there was a time I seriously wondered if we would ever have any living children.

The Advent 7 years ago was the one almost a year after we lost Levi, and we were having trouble getting pregnant again. It was hard (obviously), especially because the year prior was when I was pregnant with Levi and it was such a fruitful Advent. It was already so neat to be pregnant, because you're literally and figuratively waiting for a baby to be born, and then I found out on the feast of the Immaculate Conception (December 8) that our baby was a boy. So to be pregnant for the first time with a boy, just like our Blessed Mother was 2000 years prior, was such a gift.

I think that first Advent (the first in our marriage too actually) is a big reason why I still love Advent so much. It's a time of waiting, trusting, hoping. It can be a time of uncertainty too. But no matter what you're going through, Christmas still comes. Jesus is born. We can rejoice in our Savior, who has come - who did come - to redeem us.

Until then though (two more weeks!), I have to admit I'm looking forward to some turkey and all of the other classic Thanksgiving food - especially because I'm not in the throes of morning sickness like I was for our last 3 boys. There's not much that can ruin a holiday centered around good food and giving thanks, but puking up all of said food can get pretty close.
The winner for our Christmas cards. Landon wins for best pose!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Friday, November 10, 2017

NFP, veiling, Christmas, and my red ranger (7QT)

Well, well, well....it's actually pretty nice to be blogging about something other than marriage. You know I gotta jump back into the usual randomness with some quick takes, right? Right. Linking up with Kelly!

1. 31 Days of Marriage Fun

I just need to say thank you again to all of you who followed along for the month of October. It was one of those things that I really didn't want to do, but I just really felt God calling me to it. And whoa, He made sure to give me a lot of confirmation that I really was supposed to share that much about marriage. Never have I gotten so many texts, comments, etc., saying that a particular post was exactly what someone needed to read that day. I learned a valuable lesson in following God's promptings, no matter how crazy they may seem.
And all of the marriage talk made Logan really anxious to see me in my wedding dress again, so he asked my mom to bring it when they came in town. It fits! The straps are MIA and it has a few stains that I have no recollection of from the big day, but it was a really fun nostalgic moment.

2. Bye bye, MacBook Air

Just mere days before my month of blogging began, I spilled water on my beloved laptop and it died. For good. Because that is how my life works. But I persevered on using Logan's desktop and am still trying to decide what to replace mine with. We can't afford a Mac right now, I hate Windows, and I really want a Chromebook (cheap + portable). BUT I can't use Scrivener (this awesome writing software that I've been using) on a Chromebook. First world problems, you guys. I guess it's a good thing I can't decide because our funds are pretty pitiful right now anyway.
Landon has made good use of my dead laptop, though. He's so creative!

3. Advent + Christmas

It'll be here before you know it!! I'm 90-95% done with Christmas shopping and wrapping and am optimistic that I will be completely done before Thanksgiving. So, so good. This is a first for me and I really, really hope I can do this most years. Advent is my fave and I'm looking forward to a quiet, stress-free few weeks! Especially because Advent is unusually short this year.
Proof of my badass-ness (that should be a word)

4. NFP + the future of our family

Gosh, so many good posts lately about NFP and being open to life. (Jenny and Colleen!) I have so many thoughts. Since we've had our boys pretty much every 2 years on the dot, we're usually pregnant by now. So it's kind of weird not being pregnant. But it's also pretty nice. While Aaron was our easiest pregnancy, he's been our hardest baby. So that just complicates our already complicated situation of just really hating pregnancy but still wanting another baby. But this time around, I'm really seeing the beauty of NFP and how it calls us to something greater - in our prayer life and in our marriage. I guess this is getting a little deep for a quick take so maybe I need to just blog about it later...or not. You know how it goes sometimes.
It's moments like these that I'm like LET'S HAVE ALL THE BABIES! Seriously. Siblings are the best.

5. To veil or not to veil

Our awesome pastor recently proposed the idea of veiling to all of the women in the congregation. I've always thought veiling was a beautiful devotion but not necessarily one that I felt really called to - mainly because approximately 1-2 women at our church do it. So I took this an opportunity to start! And I'm actually very surprised at how it's (positively) affected my kids, others, and myself at Mass. Again, I could probably do a whole post about this...but yeah. Do you veil? What are your reasons why (or why not)? I'd love to know!

6. Kiddos

It's been forever since I gave little updates on the boys...
Landon (5yo): He's loving kindergarten and is doing really, really well. It's nice to know Logan and I discerned correctly in sending him to school! Thank you Jesus.

Chase (3yo): Well, sometimes he is our easiest kid and sometimes he is our hardest. Because, well, he's 3. But seriously, those dimples, y'all.

Aaron (16mo): Whew, it's a good thing this kid is cute. Normally the 12-18-month age range is my favorite...but Aaron has me changing my mind about that practically every day. He's happiest (and less destructive) when he's outside so that's where we spend lots of our time.

7. It's morphin' time!

Logan has been dying to have a Power Ranger costume and they're just so dang expensive. But I found one for FOUR DOLLARS at Target this week and surprised Logan, and obviously, he was thrilled. Now I'm kicking myself for not saving it for Christmas! I may or may not have gotten the pink ranger costume for myself. And I may or may not have photographic evidence of it. The things I do for this husband of mine...

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

First Comes Marriage {day 31}

You know that song we used to sing all the time as kids? “First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby in the baby carriage.” Or something like that. Well, let me just change it up a bit…

First comes God, then comes marriage, then comes…everything (and everybody) else.

It’s so easy to let other people intrude into a marriage, when really, the only people that should have any say so in a marriage is the husband, wife, and God. That’s it. Sure, there’s nothing wrong with seeking advice from a trusted friend or a wise professional (I actually totally recommend counseling or meeting with a priest, and know many couples who have done so!). And it’s probably okay if a well-meaning person makes the occasional suggestion or wants to give some advice - assuming it’s not laced with passive-aggressiveness or with an air of judgment.

The problem comes when an outside relationship becomes more of a priority than the marriage.

Logan is my best friend, partner in life, and the person I talk to the most. If you can’t say the same, I’m guessing you probably aren’t thrilled with your marriage right now. (And let me be the first to admit that I definitely have not always been able to say that!)

Please don’t misunderstand me - it’s important to have close relationships with friends and family. I have several extremely close friends (who I consider my besties), and I talk regularly to both my mom and sister. These relationships bring me joy, and all of these people have helped me grow as a person. (Thank you to all of you!!)

But my husband still comes first. If another relationship is taking time away from time with Logan (and same with him), something needs to change. Or if another relationship is causing strife in your marriage, something needs to change. Sometimes putting your marriage first will make other people unhappy. Sometimes putting your marriage first means letting go of other commitments or relationships.

Sometimes putting your marriage first is just really dang hard. But oh, it’s so worth it.

(Obviously if your spouse is deployed or some other extenuating circumstance, it’s not always possible to talk to them as much as you would like. My utmost sympathies! And I know there are some seasons where a certain obligation - sick child, planning a conference, etc. - takes up majority of your time. Those are just temporary. I’m talking about when something is consistently being put ahead of your marriage.)

I hope my posts this month have inspired you at least a little to focus more on your marriage and your spouse, and perhaps have given you a few ideas on how to do so. Thank you so much for following along!

P.S. We made it! Blogging every day all month was hard, but so worth it - just like marriage. 😉 I’m unplugging for a bit to recover. But I'll still contact the giveaway winner tomorrow! It ends at midnight tonight.

Monday, October 30, 2017

The hubby: an interview {day 30}

In case you didn’t know, this here blog actually started off as something Logan and I both did. I can probably count on one hand the number of posts he did, and they were a long, long time ago. Even though he doesn’t write anymore, he still reads most of what I write. (Not the book posts, though, because he doesn’t read. Ha.)

Logan definitely reads every post about marriage or that includes him in some way, and I’m very appreciative that he allows me to write about him so much! That means that Logan has read every.single.post before I published it this month. That’s a lot of dedication for a guy who just wants his wife to get off the dang computer!

I thought I’d let Logan participate by answering some questions…(his responses are italicized)

What do you like about our marriage? Communication
What would you like to change about our marriage? Communication. What? That makes no sense. Yeah, it does. It’s what I like and I don’t like. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad. 
How can I help you be a better husband? Words of encouragement - continue that.

What do you like us doing together? Playing games. Dates. 
What is one thing you refuse to share? My toothbrush. 
What is one thing women do that grosses you out? Periods.
What about men? Not washing their hands after they use the bathroom. 
What’s your favorite thing about marriage? Sex (🙄) 
What’s your least favorite thing about marriage? Pregnancy (He says that because we can’t have sex, lol. And I just can’t do a whole lot in general so life isn’t very fun.)

What’s one thing you wish I did differently? Laugh at my jokes.
I laugh. Ok. I wish sometimes you would be a little looser with the rules of life.
Like what? Go 6 over instead of 5 over the speed limit. Don’t wear your seatbelt just going down the driveway. 
(I’m just going to cut him off right there because, um, he’s ridiculous.) 
What’s your favorite way to spoil me? Buy you ice cream or something. Clean the house. 
What qualities of mine first attracted you to me? You were shorter than me.
Are you serious? Yeah. 
What do you think attracted me to you? I was taller than you.
Everybody is taller than me. My ruggedly good looks. My personality.
(He was right - I thought he was cute and funny!) 
What is one way I’ve changed for the better since we got married? You’ve opened up more. (Pretty sure I can thank him for that.)
What’s your idea of the perfect date? Skydiving.
For reals? I don’t know. Moonlight cruise. 
Would you rather me take out the garbage or bring you breakfast in bed? Take out the garbage. 
If you had to give newlyweds one piece of advice, what would it be? Pray together. 
Are you my #1 blog fan? No.

Gee, thanks babe.

I asked him more questions and some were pretty lame answers, but it was actually still kind of fun. Just google “questions to ask your spouse” and you can find a bunch of good lists with conversation-starters. You might just be pleasantly surprised with your spouse’s answers! And you’ll probably learn something new about him.

P.S. Tomorrow is the last day to enter the marriage bundle giveaway! One more post left!!

Sunday, October 29, 2017

A Weekend Away {day 29}

I’m a big advocate for marriage retreats and weekend getaways. I know sometimes it takes a miracle to make it happen, but it’s always worth it. Date nights are important, of course, but there’s just something extra special about setting aside an entire day or two (or more!) to spend solely with your spouse.

Logan and I have done this three times since kids came along, and I know to some people that will sound like a lot and to others it doesn’t sound like a lot at all. I have one friend who has a child with special medical needs and has accepted the fact that her and her husband are in a place right now where weekends away just can’t happen.

But for most of us, I think they certainly can happen. Sometimes it will take a lot of figuring out, perhaps a little bit of money, and maybe it will at first seem like it’s not worth all of the hassle to make it work.

And sometimes you will actually manage to get your husband to ask off work for an entire weekend, you’ll find babysitters, and book a marriage retreat…just to have a hurricane pop up out of nowhere and head straight for your area, causing the retreat to be cancelled 36 hours before it starts, and the hurricane will end up turning east and missing your state completely. (I really wish that was a hypothetical situation, but nope, definitely happened to us at the beginning of the month. Thanks for nothing, Hurricane Nate.) (We are thankful to be safe, of course, but MAN, it’s still frustrating, not knowing if we can make another retreat anytime soon.)

Once you actually do make it happen, though, you’ll understand why a weekend away with just the two of you is so important.

Logan and I have been on two marriage retreats in the last four years (and attempted to go on another one this month, which didn’t work out because of the hurricane), and both times have been so, so fruitful for our marriage and our family. Getting out of your house for an extended period together with zero distractions is something that I’ve found is extremely helpful in seeing your life more clearly.

The first time, I was pregnant with Chase, which was one of the hardest times of our marriage, and I can’t even adequately explain how much that weekend away was exactly what we needed at the time.

At the last retreat, when I was pregnant with Aaron (our youngest), we talked about many changes to make back at home. It was much easier to have certain conversations without worrying about cooking, cleaning, tending to the kids, etc.

Marriage retreats are wonderful, obviously, but sometimes the timing just doesn’t work out. So, I think the next best thing is an overnight date.

We did this two years ago because I just really wanted a fun weekend away with just Logan before we got pregnant again. Due to limited time and money, we only stayed at a hotel one night (and managed to get a great deal on a room thanks to Logan’s coworker), and kind of did a no-spend month beforehand so we could afford eating at a few restaurants.

That weekend getaway is a big reason why I wasn’t completely overwhelmed when I was staring at a positive pregnancy test less than 2 weeks later. Why yes, we did conceive a baby on that trip, because God is funny. It’s even funnier to think about how I vividly remember looking at my calendar to figure out a night that we could go, and that weekend was the only weekend that seemed feasible.

But anyways. When you have a bunch of kids running around (and even when you don’t), it’s hard to think about the fact that one day, it will just be you and your spouse. And if you don’t do what you need to do to foster that relationship with each other, you might find yourself as empty-nesters looking at each other like, Do I even know you? Why do we feel like strangers now that the kids are gone?

Our main responsibility now is raising our kids to know, to love, and to serve the Lord - but they’re going to be on their own before we know it. It’s way too easy to let your kids and housework take up all of your time which is exactly why getting out of the house is a great idea if you need some one-on-one time with your spouse. A change of scenery can be good for the soul too.
Last year on our marriage retreat!

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Rough waters {day 28}

After almost a year in our cute little rental house, Logan and I decided to start looking for a house of our own. We looked at a couple, even put in an offer on one (that didn’t work out), and for awhile there were no other houses available in our price range that appealed to us. It was pretty frustrating.

Over a month later, we had almost given up on our house search when I got a text from my friend who was helping us look. Logan and I were out and about when my friend’s text said there was a new listing that she thought we should see. When she gave us the address, I realized that it was literally a block away! So Logan and I drove by it on our way home.

I knew as soon as I saw it that it was the perfect house for us. It reminded me of our rental house (which we loved) but was much bigger. We went back to see the inside as soon as we could, and I felt like it was already ours. It had exactly what we were looking for - 3 bedrooms, 2 full baths, and only a minute away from where we were currently living. It was a little outdated, which meant there were a few things to fix, but I felt much better about this house than the previous ones. I really didn’t want to get my hopes up again, but I had a feeling that it was really meant to be.

I was right! We closed on the house a couple months later, and the next day we got to work taking out the old floor and putting down new laminate. It looked so much better! Logan’s dad and brother and my brother were all a huge help. We worked nonstop for several days since we needed to be out of our rental house soon.

We stayed busy over the next couple of months as we unpacked, arranged furniture, and painted the walls. Everything fell into place, it seemed. We need to replace the broken dishwasher (that we knew was already broken when we bought the house), and I found a great deal on one. Logan had an extra side job that made just the right amount of money to pay for it.

Situations like those kept happening, and it was confirmation that we bought the perfect house. Since we had finished a lot of our house projects, we decided to plan a housewarming party for our family and friends. Many of them had already seen the house, but we wanted to have a big official celebration.

Three days before our housewarming party, I woke up at 6:15am for work as usual. Our bedroom was upstairs, so as I walked downstairs, I heard running water. I thought that maybe the toilet in the downstairs bathroom was making noise - as it was known to do - but then I realized that the water wasn’t just running. It sounded like it was moving very fast! The hallway to the bathroom has a step down, since the back of the house was added on at some point, while the front of the house is raised. When I stepped down into the hallway, my socks were instantly soaked with water.

Naturally, I panicked, and kind of ran around in a circle - trying to decide if I should discover the source of the leaking water or just wake up Logan and make him do it. It was dark, so I couldn’t see the extent of the flooding, but it did not sound good.

Since the rushing water sounded very close, I went into the bathroom and looked to the right at the toilet. It was fine. I looked straight ahead at the tub - it was fine too. I stood there in the flooded bathroom, wondering where the heck the water was coming from, and felt like an idiot when I finally realized the noise was coming from beneath the sink.

I opened the cabinet doors to find water blasting out. Once again, I panicked and immediately ran upstairs to get Logan to wake up. It probably sounded something like: “LOGAAAAAAAN!! HURRY HURRY THE HOUSE IS FLOODED!! LOGAAAAAAN!!”

Being more sensible than I am, Logan hurried downstairs and immediately turned off the water under the sink. I felt like an idiot for not thinking about doing that, but hey, I was totally new at this owning a house thing.

Logan and I walked down the short hallway that led into our living room and our hearts sunk. The entire living room, which was by far the biggest room in the house and where we had just put new flooring, was flooded. Logan said a few choice words, I cried, and we both just stood there in the water for a few minutes. (That’s an accurate representation of how the two of us handle crisis. Ha.) We had only lived in the house for two months and we were going to have to change the floor for a second time already.

Add to that the fact that we had our first class that night to be certified as foster/adoptive parents. Plus, I had just started our first round of Clomid as we had been trying to conceive for 8 months already. It was pretty insane how everything was happening at once, and Logan and I were both so stressed because of everything. We both had to go in to work that day as soon as we got all of the water out.

Even though the whole ideal was pretty ridiculous, we were thankful that the flooding was contained to the back of the house, and that we were home when it happened. Our housewarming party still went on as planned - just with messed up flooring.

Since the party was just a couple weeks before Christmas, and we were attending foster/adoptive certification classes every week, we waited for life to settle down a bit before we replaced the flooded flooring. As it turned out, I loved the new flooring even better than the first one we had put down. Plus, we were able to replace our ruined furniture with some fun new pieces. Funny how things work out sometimes.

It was a good lesson in trusting God, even when it seems like things go from perfectly fine to completely terrible just because of one broken pipe. But somehow there’s always a lesson to be learned in the craziness - whether it’s something simple like learning how to turn off the water or something a little more complicated…like how life can be absolutely nuts sometimes but it always works out in the end.

Friday, October 27, 2017

When God says Wait {day 27}

In the summer of 2010, Logan and I had been married for about a year. But in that year, we had already experienced so much, including losing our first son…and we were having problems getting pregnant again. Let's just say that it was a rough time for us, especially me, as I had no idea what God was doing in my life and I struggled with waiting for him to do something about it. Our baby’s due date had come and gone, our attempts to buy a house weren’t working, and I was feeling pretty empty. I just really wanted to be a mom.

Read the rest here.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Marriage bundle giveaway {day 26}

Even though experience is the best teacher, I've gained so many other insights about marriage through the books I've read and the talks I've attended or listened to over the years. I try to read at least one marriage book each year because I know there's always more I could learn.

Since you all have been so great following along this month, I wanted to take a break from my typical posts and do a giveaway of marriage-related books and other items. The marriage bundle will go to one lucky reader. Giveaway widget is at the end of this post, and it'll be open until the end of October. I'll contact the winner on November 1st! (US residents only please, so sorry!)

The marriage bundle includes:
  • The CD Wives Do What? Ephesians 5 & St. Paul's Life-Changing Vision of the Christian Family by Dr. Brant Pitre
  • A chalkboard and chalk for you to write affirming messages to your spouse (made by me)
  • The book A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken
  • The book The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian
  • A stretch rosary bracelet (made by me)
  • The little book Spousal Prayer: A Way to Marital Happiness by Deacon James Keating, PhD

Full disclosure, all 3 books were mine that I've read so there is some slight wear - but I just really want to pass them along to someone!

I really appreciate everyone hanging in with my daily posts and for all of your sweet comments and messages thus far. Five days left!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

How watching Fixer Upper changed my marriage {day 25}

In case you haven't had the privilege of watching an episode of Fixer Upper, it's a show about a couple, Chip and Joanna Gaines, who fix houses together. Chip is the contractor guru and Joanna can literally turn the ugliest house into the prettiest house you've ever seen - her style is amazing.

While the flipping houses aspect of it is certainly interesting, there's another part of the show that is just as inspiring to me - the relationship between Chip and Joanna.

It doesn't take you long after watching the show to realize that they have opposite personalities. Chip is the goofy, outgoing one, and Joanna is the more serious (but still funny!) one that usually has to do the hard things (like call a client and tell them about replacing the $7,000 AC unit). 

They remind me a lot of Logan and myself. He's the one making silly jokes or doing goofy things, and I'm the one rolling my eyes.

But I have to admit that's where the similarities end. Chip and Joanna seem to have a mutual respect for their differences, and they are SO good at encouraging and affirming each other. Seriously. It's so cute. I know it's just a show and possibly edited, but there's no denying that Chip and Joanna's marriage is something special.

It's really made me think that I need to be better about how I talk to Logan.

So you know what I did? Without telling anybody, I decided I would try really, really hard to speak to Logan more respectfully and lovingly. No matter what. No matter if he was ugly to me, or ignored me, or what. I would stay calm and remember that he was my husband and we were in this together.

And this is where I admit I failed miserably.

But I was totally pregnant at the time and decided to give myself another chance when not pregnant.

I failed miserably. Again.

So I decided to just give myself a break because I had a tiny baby and was still hormonal. I eventually forgot all about my self-imposed challenge. I mean, I still tried to change how I spoke to Logan, but I didn't let it consume my thoughts or anything.

A couple months ago, over a year later, I realized there were some episodes of Fixer Upper on Hulu that I had never seen. So I started watching the show again and still found myself admiring the way Chip and Joanna interacted with each other.

The difference, though, is that it made me realize that Logan's and my relationship had vastly improved. I still have my moments where I snap back at him when he explodes over nothing. I still have a hard time holding back a snarky remark sometimes. But overall, I'm being more respectful and loving towards Logan. (He agrees, by the way.)

So what changed?

Honestly, I'm not sure. Part of me thinks small, daily efforts eventually grew into a bigger long-term effort.  Part of me thinks it's because I've made more of an effort to be respectful and loving in my actions, which flows into my speech.

But I'll also admit that God's given me a heck of a lot of grace in the past year. To understand how Logan sees and hears things, and to realize how much of an impact I have on him - and it's up to me to decide if that impact is positive or negative.

So I try to remember to keep everything positive. It doesn't always happen, but knowing how far I've come in just a year gives me motivation to continue my efforts. My marriage is worth it, and it's crazy how much a TV show made me realize it.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Finances {day 24}

If you ask marriage experts for reasons that couples divorce (or heck, just do a google search), finances is usually one of top causes. Whether it’s because of lack of money, or not seeing eye to eye on how to handle money, finances in general can just be extremely stressful in a marriage.

It’s definitely been a struggle in the financial department for us. I wasn’t expecting that. We both had a decent amount of savings going into our marriage, and we didn’t have any debt.

While I am technically a Registered Nurse, I haven’t been working in almost four years. We discerned that the best thing for our family was for me to stay home with our boys for the time being, and that may not always be the case, but for now it’s what works for us.

We even recently revisited the idea of me returning to work, but both Logan and I felt like the timing was off. I’ve tried doing little side gigs, here and there, which certainly helped in some seasons, but right now we’re not in a place where I can feasibly spend time on a home business without it causing undue stress on our marriage and family life.

Even though I knew God was calling me early on to be a stay-at-home mom and I’m so blessed to be able to do so, it hasn’t been easy. I thought that God would bless Logan with a really good job that provides for all our needs and more. (That hasn’t happened yet.) After all, if I’m able to stay home, my husband must make a heck of a lot of money, right?

Please excuse me while I giggle. A lot.

Up until four and a half years ago, Logan was still at the job he had had since high school, working for a landscaping company. He had a degree in film and started his own videography business since it was hard finding a job in his field.

Needless to say, he wasn’t making a lot of money. To make things worse, neither one of us had benefits with our jobs. Our individual health insurance policy left a lot to be desired, so we had just paid a heck of a lot of money to have a baby. Since I was technically high-risk, we had a lot of extra medical expenses, and we assumed that each pregnancy would be the same. I also ended up on bedrest with my oldest so that meant I couldn’t work.

Once our baby was born, I still worked part-time, because we desperately needed the extra money. At the time, Logan worked just Monday through Thursday because he worked longer days. So, I worked on Fridays while Logan stayed home with our baby. It worked well enough. Sometimes I worked other days that Logan was working too, and on those days I usually brought our baby to my cousin’s house. I hated leaving my baby even that much, but I did it just enough to make ends meet. We were very fortunate that my job was pretty flexible - I was able to work on the days that were best for us.

Thankfully, Logan was able to get another job before our baby turned a year old. It was just as a valet driver, and although they don’t make a whole lot anymore (people don’t tip the way they used to, unfortunately), it was more than his previous job. Plus, he finally received benefits! For the first time in our marriage, we actually had dental and vision insurance too. It was lovely.

Even though it’s been a few more years, we’re still pretty much in the same financial situation. That means we’ve had to make sacrifices when it comes to how we save and spend money. We’ve never had cable television, we don’t go on fancy vacations, we don’t buy new vehicles, and we don’t eat out much - and if we do, we usually skip appetizers, fancy drinks, and dessert. That’s just the beginning, and I know a lot of you understand and do the same.

In a way, I’m grateful for having to struggle a little bit, because I’ve gained some mad budgeting skills and have learned to be frugal. I know that just because Logan is the one earning the money, it doesn’t mean that I don’t have any responsibility. I’ve learned that I need to do my part - stick to the budget and cut costs where I can. Sometimes it means using cloth diapers, other times it means making all of our breakfasts from scratch instead of relying on cereal. (Because let’s be real, I’d much rather bake than add to the never-ending laundry.)

It’s easy to think that life would be easier if only we had more money. And I guess in some ways it would be - I could order pizza or takeout more often, like on those crazy days where I didn’t even get a moment to think about what we would eat for dinner. Or when one of our vehicles kept dying, it wouldn’t have been so stressful had we actually had enough money to just buy another vehicle.

But I know that having more money wouldn’t solve anything. In some ways, it could cause more problems. My parents always say that “the more money you make, the more you spend.” It’s so true - we live in a society that constantly wants more.

Living on a budget is a good reality check. Heck, it’s humbling. There have been so many times where I’m checking out at the store, counting the cash in my envelope labeled “grocery money”, saying a silent prayer that my total isn’t higher than the amount of money in my hand. I always have to add up my groceries in my head as I shop to make sure I don’t spend too much. Sometimes I can’t help but see people quickly swipe their credit card without a thought and wish I could just do the same.

Our financial situation has been hard at times on our marriage, but I can’t help but think it’s helped us too. We constantly have to be communicating about how much money we have and decide together what we want to spend that money on. We have to be on the same page to make our budget work.

It’s also helped us realize what we really care about in life - experiences and vacations spent together, with our kids, instead of the newest gadgets and vehicles.

So in a way - as with many other trials in marriage - I’ve learned to be grateful for our limited income, because it brings Logan and me together in a way I never expected.

Monday, October 23, 2017

That whole "be submissive" thing {day 23}

I know there is a lot of controversy surrounding Ephesians 5, where St. Paul supposedly tells women that they need to do whatever men tell them.

For the record, that’s not what he’s saying. Here’s the passage:
Wives, be subject to your husbands as you are to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife just as Christ is the head of the church, the body of which he is the Savior. Just as the church is subject to Christ, so also wives ought to be, in everything, to their husbands. (Ephesians 5:21–24, NRSV)
I think a lot of people forget about the verses that follow, which are actually even longer instructions for men. But I’m a big advocate for looking up verses on your own so pull out your Bible and read verses 25-33.

I think people also gloss over the verse before, which is telling spouses to be submissive to each other: Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ (Ephesians 5:21, NRSV). It’s a two-way street, you guys.

But anyways. St. Paul is saying that the man is the head of the household, though, and I know that’s a really hard thing to grasp, especially in this day and age - women want to be equals and have all the same rights as men.

Well, I personally think men and women were created differently for a reason, and while men are the HEAD of the household, women are the HEART. (The credit to that concept goes to Pope Pius XI, by the way.) They are two completely different roles, but both are vital to the marriage. Without one, the other is useless.

Honestly, there have been times where I really didn’t want to “be submissive.” I was right, Logan was wrong, and I made sure Logan knew that. Sometimes it feels like I’m better at being the head and Logan is better at being the heart. But what I’ve come to realize is that our family is only thriving when we stay in our God-given roles. When I force Logan to make a decision based on how I feel, things are off. He ends up resenting me, and I become prideful, and well, it’s not good for either of us.

A few years ago, it seemed like Logan was not doing his part, though. He will agree that there were times in our marriage where I was constantly pushing him (nagging might be more accurate, sadly) to be better. To pray more, to find a better job, etc.

You know what, though? A man can only be the head of our household if we let them. That means to back off, sister. (And I mean that in the most loving way possible, and it’s something I’m telling myself most of all.)

Men can’t make decisions if we’re pressuring them. (Well, they can, but they’re more likely to be really dumb ones.)

Men can’t take charge if we’re trying to take charge. Men can’t love us as Christ loved the church if we’re constantly nagging him.

Don’t get me wrong, women have every right to explain how they are feeling in any given situation and to give their opinion on a course of action. I know I certainly do that. (I’ve had to really work on my delivery, though, which is an important factor.) A husband and wife are a team. But if Logan and I don’t agree? I have to leave the decision up to him. I know he loves me, and he’s doing what he thinks is best for all of us, even if I don’t agree with it. Sometimes he sees things I don’t, especially when hormones are involved, and I need to respect that.

Sometimes he makes mistakes. We all do. But I still need to let him.

When I respect Logan - and his decisions, even when I don’t like it - is when Logan blossoms (sorry, that sounds weird, but it’s the only word I can think of at the moment!). It’s amazing how much good Logan can do for our family when I just let him. He appreciates the fact that I trust him with the responsibility to do what he thinks is best for our family. And it teaches me a lesson in pride and humility, which I need.

Sometimes it’s hard to let Logan be the head, but I have to remember that it also means that he has the more difficult role. I’m not saying it’s easier to be a man - because, hello, pregnancy and childbirth - but I do think they have the greater responsibility. Men have to love their wives as Christ loved the Church - and Christ loved the Church a heck of a lot! There’s a lot more to that analogy but this post is already long enough.

So! I highly, highly recommend listening to Dr. Brant Pitre’s talk Wives Do What? Ephesians 5 and St. Paul’s Life-Changing Vision of the Christian Family. (You can buy the CD or MP3 here.) He says all of this, plus much more, so much better than me and is obviously much more qualified than me to do so.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Changing tides {day 22)

Five months before our wedding, Logan and I decided to see the same priest for confession so he could hold us accountable in regards to purity. It was getting harder and harder the closer we got to our vows, which of course is totally normal.

One night, we had a really good night together - we watched a movie, read some of a book together, and talked. Normally a night like that would end with us kissing just a little too passionately, as we were very ready to be husband and wife. But this particular night, Logan told me that he wasn’t going to make out with me. Instead, he kissed me sweetly and whispered a bunch of things (all of which I do not remember, but I’m sure they were sweet!) as he looked at me with so much love in his eyes.

I nearly cried. I could truly feel Logan’s love for me, and I could tell that as Logan grew in his love for God, he grew in his love for me as well. I felt so incredibly lucky.

Fast forward a few years, the beginning of this year actually, to when we had three young boys, ages 4 and under. The vehicle Logan drove to work had stranded him on the Interstate - for the second time in two months. So we spent over $200 on a rental car for him to drive because I needed our family van to bring our oldest to preschool every day. Our teething baby would not stop screaming unless someone was holding him (and sometimes not even then), our toddler and preschooler seemed to have endless reserves of energy, Logan’s patience level was close to nonexistent, and I was not getting much sleep. I felt so spent, Logan felt so unloved, and oh, the money we had been saving up for a fence - so our energetic boys could run outside with reckless abandon - might need to be used to purchase another vehicle.

Needless to say, when Logan looked at me during that ridiculous time, I did not feel the love that I had felt 8 years before. Nope.

Thankfully, God provided as our vehicle was able to fixed for less than we had anticipated, and we ended up replacing that vehicle once we found a too-good-to-be-true deal on a used SUV. Plus, we were blessed over the next couple of months with a lot of free materials to turn our backyard into the perfect place for our boys.

In the moment, though, when the world seems to be against you - it feels like it will never let up. Even though hard times are usually temporary, it’s not always easy to remember that. Just like the tides had changed from that romantic evening during our engagement to our overwhelmed family of five, the tides are constantly changing. The key is to ride out the waves together until the water calms down again.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Competition {day 21}

Anybody who knows Logan and me, knows we’re extremely competitive with each other. I’ve chilled out about it over the years, but Logan still gets so frustrated when I beat him at something - which is usually what happens. Wink.

Our competitiveness started when we were dating. We’re both athletic, and the one sport we’re both pretty good at - but never played officially - is tennis. So we often played tennis together, and man, those games got intense.

More recently, we’ve played doubles with my brother, Michael, and our friend, Brian, while on vacation. And because Logan and I are so competitive, we can’t be on the same team - there would be just way too much arguing. So that meant Brian and I would play against Logan and Michael. It actually worked out better for me that way, since I would get a kick out of my brother getting annoyed at Logan, and then when Brian and I would (inevitably) win, I got to rub it in both my brother’s and my husband’s faces.

I’m a real treat. Can’t you tell?

Now that Logan and I are married with kids underfoot, our competitiveness takes place in the form of board games. Scrabble, Checkers, Monopoly, you name it - we play it and we play it hard. We also play darts in our garage while the boys are running around, as well as shooting games with the toddler basketball goal. There is a lot of smack talk. No shame.

Most of my friends don’t really seem as competitive with their spouses, which makes me wonder if perhaps Logan and I need to take it down a notch. But then I think that because we’re so competitive, we make a great team when we actually work together.

If Logan and I are both extremely motivated to get a project done, or to clean the house before or after we host a party, or to quickly get the boys bathed and in bed early? Watch out, y’all. We get on it. Our competitive minds jump on the same team and get things done.

I guess we should remember that it’s okay to have a little dose of healthy competition every once in awhile. The problem comes when you’re competitive in ways that are detrimental to your marriage - thinking your way to do things is always the best way (from something trivial like how to load the dishwasher to something more significant like parenting techniques), who does more work, who makes the most money, the list goes on and on. That kind of competition is a great way to destroy your relationship.

I recently read something about healthy competition in marriage, how you see who can “out love” the other. Basically, try to see who can serve each other best. I think that’s a pretty cool concept, as long as you don’t go overboard and find yourself getting a little prideful about it. It’s easy to start off with a healthy mindset and suddenly realize you’re getting resentful when your spouse is serving you better. (Which is ridiculous, I know, but it can happen.)

Whew, competition can be complicated! But I do know it keeps our marriage alive and well, even when I beat Logan at Checkers a dozen times in a row. 😉
Can you guess who won Scrabble Apple based on this picture?

Friday, October 20, 2017

Togetherness {day 20}

One of my favorite books about marriage (that I didn’t read until last year) is A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken. I don’t want to ruin my favorite part for those of you who haven’t read it yet, but there was another part that has stuck with me. (If you do read it, be warned that it starts off slow. But power through and it’ll be worth it!)

Sheldon 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, you gradually end up doing more things on your own. While adultery or boredom or something else might happen, Sheldon and his wife came to the conclusion that it was first caused by “the creeping separateness: the failure behind the failure” (page 37).

Gosh, I can totally see that. It's so easy to get caught up in our own hobbies, where one spouse is reading a book and and the other is watching random videos, or one spouse is exercising while the other is crafting it up. All of that is fine, as long as you’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. Complicated work schedules and needy children can make couple time seem nearly impossible sometimes.

When Logan and I were dating early on in our relationship, I thought it was so strange how much he liked watching NASCAR races. I mean, all they do is drive around in circles. What’s the fun in that? I would watch the races with him (out of a sense of obligation) but not really enjoy it.

But that was several years ago. Although he doesn’t watch every single race anymore, there was a time where I actually liked watching NASCAR with him. Turns out it’s a lot more than guys just driving around. Logan had his favorite driver, and I picked a favorite too, so it was fun having “my driver” beat his. (I liked Carl Edwards and Logan has always been a big fan of Dale Earnhardt, Jr….in case you were curious.)

My sport growing up was soccer. Logan actually played for a couple years in elementary school, but other than, he didn’t really care about soccer - until we started dating. I played for our high school, and I still remember Logan coming to the games, sometimes with a big sign cheering me on. He also has grown to love watching professional soccer games on television, and even surprised me with tickets to see the U.S. Women’s National Soccer team when they played in New Orleans a couple years ago.

So yes, we very much still have our own hobbies - I love to read and write and he definitely does not, and he lifts weights and works out while I definitely do not. After the kids are in bed, I’m perfectly content staying inside reading a book while he works out. And he’s perfectly content watching TV while I blog.

But we both love watching football together every week (and playing Fantasy Football, holler!), and we both like to run. Because we like hanging out together, we’ve also grown to love each other’s hobbies too.

It does take some awareness to notice that “creeping separateness,” but perhaps that’s the perfect time to take more interest in one of your spouse’s hobbies or to even start a new one together.
We ran a couple of 5Ks together earlier this year! Logan is great at cheering me on when I want to stop. 😊


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