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2017 In Review

19 Feb

Hello, my friends!  It’s sooo good to be back into blogging.  I can’t tell you how many times over the past couple months I’ve thought of what I wanted to write about, share with you, and type out on my friendly little laptop.  All those stories and pictures got tucked away in my “things to write about” mental file.  We haven’t had internet installed at our house yet, so when I had some extra time after work today, I seized the moment, set up my laptop, and started typing away.

I thought it would be good to start with a “2017 in Review” so that I can fill you in on all the goings-on in the past year that I have been away from blogging.  So much has happened in a years’ time! 

(I have a couple pictures to share right now, and more to come later.)

January – House-hunting.  Need I say more??  House-hunting (for me) was so emotionally draining, It was incredibly time-consuming and tedious.  (The housing market was NUTS.  Houses were being sold nearly as soon as they went on the market.  We’d find a house we were interested in, and it would have an offer on it by the time we tried setting up a showing.)  Did I mention that it was also discouraging?  We prayed A LOT that God would help us find the right place.  Needless to say, we learned to lean on God more and learned how to trust His timing more.  (More about this below.)

February – Welcomed a new nephew into the world. 

Went to WI to visit my husband B’s two sisters and their families.

March – Marriage prep meetings with the priest who officiated at our wedding ceremony.  Our priest encouraged us to pray together, which we already were doing, but when we started praying even more intentionally together, we realized even more how important it was to pray as a couple because by praying more together, we grew even deeper as a couple.

April – Honeymoon finalizing (road trip out west!)

May – We signed the closing papers for our house the DAY BEFORE our wedding.  You don’t even know how stressed I was.  In hindsight, I’m not sure how I got through all the stress except by the grace of God.  In the four months leading up that that day, I took a class for my job in insurance, I combed the area for the best interest rates for our mortgage, researched and found good insurance coverage for our house, planned our wedding (with the help of my amazing husband.)

And then my favorite part ❤ ❤ ❤  On a beautiful spring day in late May, I married the man of my dreams.  We got married at a beautiful cathedral, had our family, friends and relatives as our honored guests, a gorgeous pipe organ playing our wedding music, and all the graces and blessings of Heaven flowing down upon us.

Receiving a special blessing from the priest during our wedding ceremony.

One of my favorite post-ceremony photos of me and B., laughing with delight!

Went on our honeymoon to the Grand Canyon and to a few other National Parks out west.  I got “hangry” a couple times.  We hiked down into the Grand Canyon, spotted lizards and deer, ate ice cream, and took LOTS of pictures.

June – I was in my older sister’s wedding. 

B. and I moved into our new house!  It was strange to move from the house that I had shared with my sisters for 8 years.  Sad, but exciting to start a new journey with my husband!

July – I was in the wedding for one of my younger sisters.  

B. and I hosted a 4th of July party at our new house, and found that our house is very conducive to hosting friends and family. 

A new niece was born! 

We enjoyed many evenings sightings of a deer and her baby twins wander through and frolic in the field behind our house.

August – I turned 30!  B. took the day off to spend with me, so we took a leisurely scenic drive through the countryside, and drove up to the State Park where, a couple years prior, we each had the realization that we liked each other 😊  My birthday was so special.  B. baked me a chocolate cherry gluten free cake (YUM!), gave me a beautiful potted flower, and made my birthday so sweet.  We packed a picnic lunch and road our bikes all around the park.

September – Hubby and I ook a trip to the Smoky Mountains over Labor Day weekend and went hiking.  On the way home, we were able to visit my older sister and her husband who live in Kentucky.

October – Another nephew was born! 

October helped me re-realize that baking is one of my favorite past-times, and a wonderful way to unwind and de-stress after a long day or a long week. 

B. and I painted our “office” room in our house.  It was a not-very-pretty pink before we painted, and now it’s a nice creamy-white color.

November – Thanksgiving and trip to WI to visit family. 

Went to a Notre Dame game in the freezing cold rain and unanimously decided afterwards that we are going to avoid football games in November in the future.  Brrr!

December – Our first Christmas as husband and wife (all the love!)  I absolutely LOVED our first Christmas.  I loved decorating our house and setting out the Nativity set we received for our wedding.  I loved putting up the tree with B., and playing Christmas music as we put up the tree.  We went to Mass at the cathedral where we got married. 

Another niece was born just a couple days before Christmas.  What a wonderful Christmas present!

 

Whew!  Did I mention that 2017 was a whirlwind?!  So many emotions, ups and downs, learning and growing a lot as newlyweds.  We learned how to trust God more than we new we had the strength to.  It wasn’t easy or perfect, but it was beautiful, grace-filled and full of wonderful memories.

 

 

 

 

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“She Laughs without fear of the future” Proverbs 31:25

11 Jan

These words hit me like a slap in the face.  As I sat on my bed, overwhelmed with wedding planning, these words jumped off the wall at me.  The verse “She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future” is printed on wall art that hangs above the desk in my bedroom.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the worry and fear of what could happen, what might not work out and what could go wrong with wedding plans, marriage preparations, and marriage itself.  It’s so easy to get lost in the stress and caught up in the fears of something going wrong.

BUT.

The Holy Spirit stopped me quick in my tracksHe asked me to trust in GodTrust God radically and like none other.  Because when we put all of our trust in God, and trust in HIS POWER and HIS PLANS, and when we do our part to carry out God’s work in our lives, when we are STILL. AND KNOW THAT HE IS GOD (and that we are imperfect and yet perfectly imperfect wonderful human beings), God is glorified.  If we allow the fear and worry to grip our minds, and when we allow the fear to creep in and take ahold of our otherwise peaceful lives, the glory is taken from God.  God does not want that.

God asks us to Trust Him for His plans are greater than ours, and when we sense that peace leaving our hearts, we must remind ourselves that God is in control.  We don’t have to be the conductor for the orchestra that directs every instrument.  We have to be that one single instrument that plays that one part, and the conductor, God, will take care of the rest.

I worry about not having enough time for planning and organizing everything for our wedding.  I worry about not having a house yet.  The fear of the future causes my head to spin “what if this happens?” “what if that happens?”  About every imaginable fear and worry runs through my head.

But for what?

What it boils down to is a lack of trust in God’s plans for my future (Jeremiah 29:11.)

My fiancé B. and I have taken classes regarding fertility and cycles, and we’ve read about St. John Paul’s II’s Theology of the Body, and we have been living as single people.  We have read books on good marriages and gotten advice from fantastic couples, and have prayed so many prayers for our future marriage.  And still I have this fear of the future.  I have been charting and watching my cycles and trying to remember to take my vitamins, exercise when I can, etc.  I dream of having children and being a wife and mother.  Oftentimes when I think of being able to be a mother someday, it makes me cry just thinking about it – in a good way – because I want it so badly.  I pray that we can have children – children who are healthy, happy and holy.  I need to trust God.

B. and I, like every other couple on the planet, are not perfect.  We mis-communicate, misunderstand each other, and assume instead of talk through things.  I am afraid of the “honeymoon phase” wearing off and “getting used to” each other.  We don’t want to ever take each other for granted.  But we do forget to say and do those things that show each other how much we love and cherish each other.  Does that mean we are failures?  No.  It means that we are human.  And thankfully, we can step back, look at the situation after the fact, and laugh at ourselves. 

“We are clothed with strength and dignity, and we laugh without fear of the future.”

Join us!

A Testimony to courage and faith in the midst of suffering

24 Feb

My friend Catie and I have talked about the meaning of suffering, and we’ve talked about how we are each called to pick up our crosses joyfully and carry our crosses with love and generosity.  Catie kindly agreed to write a guest post on the meaning of suffering and how to carry our crosses joyfully. 

Let’s give Catie a big warm welcome!

On Enduring Suffering Joyfully:

Everyone suffers. Not a single person, thing or being is free from heartache, grief or pain. Each of us carry our pain in our own way. For some, the emotional pain that they carry is far greater than any physical pain…and yet there are others who feel the angst of physical pain daily, and thus willingly and cheerfully take up their cross. Regardless, pain is pain.

Toxicity spreads like wildfire.

At work, I have the tendency to get extremely frustrated with a few people on a fairly regular basis. Some say it is “learning to work with different personalities” and I just say they are inconsiderate individuals. On the surface, it appears they are just out to make my work day heck and they will do everything in their power to create more work for me. They stir the drama brew and it just perpetuates negativity which ripples like an atomic bomb hitting the ocean with just as bad repercussions. Negativity and sin is toxic and causes more suffering than we might want to recognize.

When we really get to know those we work with closely, we can gain so much understanding into how and why they act the way they do. (Praying for the Gifts of the Holy Spirit is a great way to start). In my circumstance, the individuals are never happy or satisfied with anything. They worry about things. They are complacent with their life being broken without seeking true means of healing. They would rather sit and sift in the negativity or situation rather than make a change. Change would require a lot of them so they just sit and deal with it. (Sounding familiar?) These individuals may or may not go to church. They may or may not recognize sins in the way that I have been taught. They may see them as minor things that have had trickle down effects and yet because they choose not to deal or handle their situations in such a way that asks God for true healing–they too continue to suffer.

Intimacy creates seeds for virtuous growth
You are able to gain compassion through this level of understanding as well. Most individuals that cause us pain and suffering are victims of pain and suffering too. Now, that doesn’t mean we have to share the wealth in that regard; if we personally identify what is causing us suffering (I know it is sin and separation from God) we can work on asking Jesus to heal us.
I have chosen to deal with my suffering more productively. God wouldn’t allow a cross to come if He wasn’t willing to share His Holy Grace to get me through it. How shallow I am to sift in my own misery…not acknowledge the mess that I have found myself in and complain about my coworkers making my life hell….I mean how dare they! How dare they!? Don’t they know how much pain this causes me? No. Usually they don’t. Usually they don’t realize that they are causing you so much grief. But that’s where I pause.
 “Poor Souls in Purgatory, Pray for me!”

We are not called to be complainers. We are called to take up our cross willingly and joyfully. We are not called to return the favor of inflicting pain or suffering in a vengeful sort either. We are called to love and forgive those who cause us grief. We are not called to take justice into our own hands. We are called to pray and forgive these individual.

As much as we complain about others, let’s shift our focus back to how this relates directly to our relationship with God the Father and Jesus the Son.

God’s Love is pure and unconditional

When God created the earth and everything surrounding His Goodness and Grace, He never intended us to be out of union with His Will and Goodness. God did love His creation so much that He gave us free will to chose our direction. Yeah, yeah yeah. We have all heard this before…NO. But stop and think about it! Unconditionally, “I will love you regardless if you choose me or not. I want you to choose to love me!” And even when we are incapable of returning such love…and even though we are so selfish…God doesn’t complain about it. God loves us even more.
So, we have this really REALLY great example of the purest of love there is towards us…and what do we choose to do about it? Do we choose to love Him back? Do we talk to Him, invest in Him, and tell Him how our day is? “God, I am hurting. I am weak. I am angry. I am in pain. I am stressed out! Jesus, give me the Grace to make it!”
God allows suffering and freedom of choice
In the midst of our suffering, we can either choose to take up our cross or not. We can choose to love these broken people. Or not. But, striving to always to love on these individuals is exactly what God does to us when we don’t choose His way. We cause God to suffer greatly through the course of our actions. Remember that the next time someone gives you grief. It is absolutely a game changer.
We are only human. We are never happy or satisfied with anything. We worry about things. We are complacent with our life being broken without seeking true means of healing. We would rather sit and sift in the negativity or situation rather than make a change. Change would require a lot of us so we just sit and deal with it. Don’t personally forget to ask for healing and peace!
Have the courage to find joy in your suffering. Pray fervently for those who offend you in hopes that they too have enough courage to allow themselves healing and peace. Never let a day drift by where you are not demonstrating the same love God gives us so generously. Live as God intended you to do so: joyfully carry your cross.

 

Catie is a born and raised Catholic woman living in northeast Indiana. She is a huge sports fan, loves her coffee and she enjoys good conversation. Catie also co-founder and contributor to a lifestyle blog anchordrop.org. Catch her on Twitter @BanditMetRoses and Instagram @catiemanninghair

 

A Valentine Love Story

15 Feb

Valentine’s Day has always been a fun day for me.  Getting pink and red valentine’s as a little girl was always so exciting.  Grade school through high school, my cousins, siblings, friends and I would make valentine’s for each other and send them in the mail.  It was thrilling to receive a big envelope in the mail stuffed with valentine’s decorated with cute pictures, hearts and the question, “Will YOU be my valentine?”

In college, valentine’s day was special, but a little awkward at times.  I wrote home when I could, and would write special notes to my friends on campus.  My mom knew that I didn’t have a boyfriend and that valentine’s day was a bit challenging for me.  As I saw classmates receive roses and go on lovely dates with their boyfriends, I sat and wondered when that would happen to me.  My dad wrote me notes telling me how much he loved me.  He said to keep smiling because it would make someone’s day 🙂

The awkwardness of valentine’s day in college rested on those random notes or single roses that I would find in my mailbox from a secret admirer.  One time I even got a personalized poem from a guy who apparently saw me around campus and possibly even in class, but I had no idea who it could have been, nor did I ever find out who the secret admirer was... (Awkward, but hey, I got cool poem :-) )

pink-heart

Those college days were special when I would receive a package from home, stuffed with letters and notes from my parents and siblings.  At the time, my youngest brother wrote me the most adorable notes and according to my mom, he would “claim” me for when I came home next (meaning, that he needed his special one-on-one sister play time.) These notes always made me cry, not because I was sad, but because I loved seeing how much my family loved me by this gesture of their love.  I knew they loved me, but the fact that they made me valentine’s and sent them to me while I was several states away, was one of my favorite things.  One valentine’s day in particular, I received a diamond necklace with matching earrings from my mom.  *gulp.*  Oh the love. (*sniffle!*)

Valentine’s day, for many, is simply just another day.  Flower shops and card-making company’s capitalize on this day.  I *could* just brush it off as just another day and write it off as just another cheesy day for spending money on your loved ones, but I can’t just brush it off.  The long-held tradition of making this a special day on which my family and I write little notes to each other or do something extra special for each other remains.

Valentine’s day still holds a special place in my heart.  Yes, I look back with fond memories on those college days and smile at my secret admirer(s) (whomever they were), and, yes, I continue to write love notes and do little acts of service for my loved ones.  Valentine’s day shouldn’t be limited to one day.  Every day should be valentine’s day.  We should show our love for each other every day.  How will you show your family, friends, neighbors and c0-workers your particular love for them this week?  Perhaps there is someone in particular who needs our patience and a little more care?  A little more kindness and a few more prayers?  Will you join me?

sacred-heart-of-jesus

Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with brotherly affection; outdo one another in showing honor.  Never lack in zeal, be aglow with the Spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”

Quote of the Day for Monday

25 Jan

Crucifixion

“God is love. He loves and wants to be loved; it is the basic law of His being. To realize this is to find the solution to all our problems.”

(Emphasis my own.)

–Dom Augustin Guillerand, The Prayer of the Presence of God

 

 

 

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