"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, January 27, 2017

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

Linking up with Kelly for 7 Quick Takes!

1. RIP comments

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


2. Goal Update

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

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


3. Bullet Journaling

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

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


4. A month for your marriage

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


5. Aaron Joseph (7 months)

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


6. Chase Michael (2.5)

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


7. Landon Gerard (4.5)

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

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

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Just do something {gifts for those experiencing pregnancy loss}

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

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

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

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


Books


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


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


Something with the baby's name





Something with the baby's birthstone


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

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


A print with a quote or verse related to pregnancy loss





Miscellaneous


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

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

Monday, January 16, 2017

Another book list {books to read in 2017}

I made my first book list last year, as ambitious as it was, and I'm thinking it might be part of the reason why I read the most books I ever have in one year. I just love scratching things off a list! So I spent [entirely too much] time making a list for 2017. The one thing I learned is that I was wayyyy too ambitious with the number of spiritual books I wanted to read – of the 9 on my list last year, I just read 5. So many spiritual books take awhile to get through (which is good! You want it to sink in and all), so I tried really hard not to put that many on my list this year. (But of course if I finish the ones here by some chance then I'll read more.)

Another reason I really wanted to make another list is to make sure I read mostly books that are free! You know, ones that are sitting on my shelf still unread or that I can easily get from the library. I don't want to commit to books and realize I need to buy them. #budget

Okay, listed by category because that is how I roll (you can just say I'm temperamental with my reading):

Marriage

The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian - seriously been having this on my shelf forever


Parenting

The 5 Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman


Spiritual/Catholic

Hail, Holy Queen by Scott Hahn

Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales - because he's my saint of the year!

33 Day to Merciful Love by Michael E. Gaitley

Hinds Feet on High Places by Hannah Gurnard

A Father Who Keeps His Promises by Scott Hahn - also been having this on my shelf for years, halfway read (but I'm starting from the beginning again)


Fiction/Classics

Something by Wendell Berry, TBD

The Horse & His Boy by C.S. Lewis - making my way through the Narnia books

Something else by C.S. Lewis, TBD - any suggestions? I'm thinking A Grief Observed or Surprised by Joy or Till We Have Faces. So many options!

Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery - also making my way through Anne of Green Gables

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh

Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen


Biography/Memoir

A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken

Night by Elie Wiesel

Anchored by Kayla Aimee

Four Seasons in Rome: On Twins, Insomnia, and the Biggest Funeral in the History of the World by Anthony Doerr


Self-help/personal development/non-fiction/I don't know

Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life by Henry Cloud and John Townsend

Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly

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

The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brene Brown

Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World by Tsh Oxenreider


My goal is to read 36 books this year, and that's only 24 so I don't feel too restricted.


I mentioned last year that a group of my friends have a reading challenge together, and the above graphic is our new one this year (we each picked a category). We still have an ongoing book-related text message thread about what we're reading each month. It's really been fun having that accountability! So find yourself a book buddy and get reading! ;)

Friday, January 6, 2017

A new year {2017}

Linking up with Kelly to share some thoughts about the new year!

Saints Name Generator

I've been picking a saint for a few years now and sometimes it ends up being just the perfect one. Last year I got St. Joseph and suddenly knew our baby in utero would be a boy. And he was! Aaron Joseph. This year I was thrilled to get St. Francis De Sales because he's the patron of writers and I've kind of considered him the patron of this blog. AND Logan gave me my own writing space for Christmas so maybe this will be the year I finally finish some writing projects. St. Francis, pray for me! (Go pick a saint!)

Word of the Year

 It took me awhile to choose a word because last year I picked ""rest" and it was awesome and how would anything be better than that? But alas, God gave me a new word, the most perfect word for me right now - peace. I've been struggling with anxiety the past few months so I know I need to cultivate peace in my heart, my home, and my relationships.

90-day Bible Challenge

One of my goals is to read the Bible more, so I've been following this 90-day reading plan - started on January 1st. Hopefully it will become a habit by the time the 90 days are up (which will be during Lent!).

Books

Well, after reading 72 books last year (check out my faves here), I wasn't sure what to do as far as my reading goals this year. But since I know I won't be able to read as much (it was due to pregnancy and having a newborn) and the fact that I want to read the Bible more, I'm going to go with a goal of reading 36 books.

Verse of the Year?

I've never chosen one before but I kind of like the idea and am tempted to search Etsy for a super cute print of it. I came across it on my Instagram feed and was like YES.
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid." (John 14:27, NRSV)

Fun Mom

It looks like we will be sending Landon to kindergarten next year, and while I could totally write a whole post about that [totally hard and not clear-cut decision that needed to be made so I would stop stressing over it], I just have to say it's making me realize that I want to soak up every minute that I have him with me. So with that in mind, one thing I want to do this year (especially as I've realized during this Christmas break that it's not as hard as it seems) is to be more intentional about spending quality time with my boys. Reading, coloring, play games with them - and not because I feel like I have to but because I really and truly want to. You know what I mean? Having all littles is hard but I know I will totally miss this stage when they're older.


Other "goals"

There are a few other things I want to do and just for the sake of remembering I will jot them down here:

  • Be better about commenting on other blogs (because I know how sometimes we feel like we're writing for nothing and a simple comment can make such a difference)
  • Journal at least every 2 weeks, preferably at least once a week
  • Start scheduling writing time (AKA give the kids to Logan and RUN. Jk. Kind of.)
  • Do a no-spend month
  • Stick to our (newly revised) budget!! So we can finally put more towards savings
  • Go on regular family walks
  • Take one picture each week of each of the boys on my nice camera and make photo books at the end of the year
I'm know I'm forgetting things so maybe I'll come back and add to it. Have a great Epiphany weekend!

Monday, January 2, 2017

My favorite books I read in 2016

I read a total of 72 books in 2016! So obviously I needed to pick my favorites to share with you, as I'm not sure I will ever read that many books in one year ever again. They're in the order I read them (thanks Goodreads!) and all received a 5-star rating from me. Of the 72 I read, I rated 25 of them 5 stars, but I didn't include all of them here. (You're welcome.)

I save my 5-star ratings for books that I couldn't put down, that I will definitely read again, or that greatly impacted my life in any way. In case you were curious. I should also mention that I'm not a big fiction reader - although a few made it onto this list!


In This House of Brede by Rumer Godden

I enjoyed this so much that I plan to reread it again this year. The religious life has always seemed so appealing to me (but I love my life now!), and it was neat seeing the inner workings of life in the convent - even though it's fiction. It's a bit long but don't let that stop you!


Deep Prayer/Deep Conversion by Thomas Dubay

I've heard a lot of people refer to Dubay's writings and knew I would probably like this book but was surprised by how much I did. It's one of those potentially life changing books, so I definitely recommend it if you need a little push in your prayer life.


Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry

This was my first book by Berry and will certainly not be my last. His writing is so lovely! And the story realllly made me want to live on a farm.


Men, Women, and the Mystery of Love: Practical Insights from John Paul II's Love and Responsibility by Edward Sri

If Love and Responsibility is too intimidating for you (*raises hand*), this book is perfect!


A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

I'm not sure I would have read this had it not been for a book club, but I just really thought Ove was endearing in his own special, grumpy way. Loved the ending!


The Temperament God Gave Your Kids by Art and Laraine Bennett

If there was one parenting book I'd recommend to you, this would be it.


Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand

Whew, this guy is totally inspiring and it just gives you some perspective if you think life is hitting you hard. (Well, technically I listened to the audiobook but I enjoyed it.) The movie is good too!


The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

I have a thing for WWII stories, fiction or nonfiction, and this one was SO good. It's becoming a movie too! (I also listened to the audiobook of this! So good with her French accent.) I'm seriously still mourning the loss of one character...and I read it in March.


Chiara Corbella Petrillo: A Witness to Joy by Simone Troisi and Christian Paccini

Chiara's life was definitely inspiring and convinced me that maybe becoming a saint in today's world isn't so impossible after all.


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

This book just spoke to my heart on so many levels. It felt totally inspired by the Holy Spirit and I will be reading it again for sure!


The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines

Maybe I loved this so much because I listened to the audiobook, which was read by Chip and Joanna and I just want to be their BFF. But I also loved how it's a story of God leading you into the most unexpected places.


Honorable Mentions

  • Prayer for Beginners by Peter Kreeft
  • Elijah in Jerusalem by Michael O'Brien
  • On the Other Side of Fear: How I Found Peace by Hallie Lord
  • The Everyday Catholic's Guide to the Liturgy of the Hours by Daria Sockey
  • The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton

If you choose to read these this year, I hope you like them as much as I did! What were your favorite reads this year? TELL ME!

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