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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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Have yourself a Married little Christmas!

30 Dec

B. and I have been married for seven months already!  How did the time fly?!  This is our first Christmas as a married couple and very beautiful and special.  Two weeks ago we put up our Christmas tree, and gradually put up lights, ornaments, and our Nativity set that we got for our wedding from some of his cousins.  I thoroughly enjoyed decorating our house, and put something Christmas-y in every room (except the laundry room 😉)  It has been special to celebrate Christmas together this year and to reflect on our first several months as husband and wife.  

During the months leading up to the wedding, life was a busy time of wedding planning, house-hunting, mortgage and insurance rate comparing, and working full time.  It was pretty overwhelming to have all of that to juggle at once, but it was very rewarding because I married the man of my dreams, we bought our first house together, and have been blessed to be able to turn this house into our home.  We have been able to share so many moments together whether making dinner, taking a walk outside after dinner, working in the yard, paying the bills, or just sitting on the couch and catching our breath after a long week at work.  It’s been a busy busy year!!  We have traveled a lot, (including our road trip honeymoon out west!) and have lots of pictures to show for it. 

It’s been a beautiful year and a wondrous celebration of the Sacrament of Marriage as husband and wife.  From our hearts to yours, we wish you a Merry Christmas, and a happy New Year!

Christmas 2017

The wedding countdown!

21 Apr

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Right after work today I drove to my second-to-last dress fitting.  My car skipped happily through a spring shower, and raindrops pelted my windows as my car whizzed along the grassy countryside.  This springtime reflects my own heart, as I prune away the clutter of my heart and mind, and till the fertile soul where the seed of marriage is going to be planted.

As I stood in front of the mirror in my wedding dress, I had this feeling of this time in my life being a bit surreal.  Every day I take a moment to review the day and take in my surroundings.  And today as I twirled in my wedding dress, I thought “we are getting married in 30 days from today!”  The boy I met when I was about 7 years old is going to be my husband!!!  (YIPPPEEE!!!!!))))  I’ve known him nearly my whole life, and after we started dating a couple years ago, realized that this is the man I want to marry.  All the years and all the prayers, all the hopes and dreams of getting married and raising a family with the man of my dreams is coming true!!!

This is the man I’ve prayed for.  For lots of years, I prayed, sacrificed and cried tears hoping and praying for a good and solid man to marry.  I begged and begged God to send me a man with whom I can spend my life, growing as a couple, cherishing, and working together.  This is the man to whom I’ve written lots of little notes, even before I met him, beginning with the words “dear husband of mine.”  My eyes can’t help but get a little teary-eyed just thinking of how good and how faithful God has been.  Not only has he answered my prayers – he’s filled them to the brim and now my heart is overflowing.

In just 30 short days, we will stand at the altar of the cathedral and will enter into a covenant with each other and with God, professing our vows of love and fidelity to each other.  We have been praying with and for each other.  And you, my dear reader, will you join us in prayer, that we will receive all the graces, indulgences and blessings available to us?  This is one of our favorite prayers, the words that the Archangel Gabriel spoke to Mary when he announced that she was going to be the Mother of Jesus:

“Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.  Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.  Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.  Amen.”

 

3 Ways to Practice Listening

6 Mar

If you like being heard, you are in the right place!  You, like most people, like being heard when you are talking.  And not only that, you also like to be understood.  And that is where the art of listening comes into play.

It sounds counterintuitive to say that it takes a good listener to make a good conversation, but believe me when I say that it’s true.  (Are you listening?)

Customer Service has been my department of work for the last eight years.  I’ve talked with business men and women, moms and dads, kids, grandparents, hobbyists, enthusiasts, know-it-alls, and everyone in between.  I’ve answered hundreds of thousands of phone calls, and I’ve put forth my best effort to provide the best customer service.  And at the end of the day, you know what makes my customer service great??  Listening.

This afternoon I called a customer.  The reason for my call was a bill that was due.  The gentleman on the other end of the line answered in a friendly manner.  I told him the reason for my call.  Well, that did not go over well.  He proceeded to get mad at me for poor customer service from our collective department.  And so I listened.  He asked me insulting questions to which I gathered my breathe and answered in the kindest way I could without sounding smarmy or letting on that he was being rude.  I told him I would handle getting his account taken care of, apologized for his poor experiences and we ended our phone call on a positive note.

It wasn’t my fast typing skills or my mean mouse navigating skills that made my customer breathe a little easier when he hung up the phone.  It was that I listened to his complaint, acknowledged his frustration, apologized and fixed the problem.  Happy camper?  Yes.

The point of my sharing that story was to bring home the point of this post – 3 ways to practice listening:

  1. Become interested in the speaker.  If you are not interested in the speaker, you are not going to be interested in what they have to say.  Their words will become mumbo jumbo and you will not remember what they said.
  2. Don’t take it personally.  Was I offended that the customer insulted me for something that wasn’t my fault?  Eh, I let it roll off because I figured that he was not only upset with previous service.  He was probably using me as an easy target to air his grievances from something else that was bothering him.  Okay, fine, I’ll give him a pass.  That’s part of my job (and yours too if you are interested in becoming a good listener.)
  3. Put yourself in their shoes.  You like to be heard.  We all do.  When you talk, you want the listener to process your words.  Not just inhale your words and breathe them back out again without a second thought.  Become absorbed in what the other person is saying, and their method of driving their point home.  Do they use jokes, rhetoric, or monotone?  Do they use humor and stories?  Do they share personal experiences?  Gather the words, put them in your pocket, and don’t let them get away.  When talking person-to-person, look the other person in the eye.  It engages their heart.  People experience a sense of importance when someone else looks them in the eye when they are talking.  It shows respect.  And everyone deserves respect.

Finally, dear reader, I challenge you to this: Listen deeply to the words you hear today.  What is the person saying?  How can you listen better?  How can you empathize?  And better yet?  What are they saying that you can pray about for them?

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

 

5 Quotes by Mother Teresa for you to enjoy!

17 Feb

The nun ushered our small group of student volunteers into their motherhouse in Rome, Italy, while on our semester abroad in Italy in 2007.

She took us down a hallway, where she asked us to remove our shoes before entering the next room – the Adoration Chapel.  Each of us removed our shoes before entering the Chapel.  The Chapel had an altar that housed the tabernacle (word for the house of Jesus).  There were no chairs or benches in the room.  We had simply the ground to kneel or sit on.

Above the tabernacle was a crucifix with the words “I THIRST” written on the wall next to it.  There we all knelt or sat in silent prayer.  I was humbled to be able to pray in the same chapel that Mother Teresa herself had prayed in before.

Earlier in the day our group had helped in the soup kitchen there in the heart of Rome, Italy.  There we worked with the group of sisters, Missionaries of Charity, who prepare meals every day for the homeless and hungry who live in Rome.

One of my classmates and I peeled pomegranates to serve as part of the meal.  There were so many pomegranates, and tedious to peel, but all for a good cause and humble work of mercy.  I remember being handed an apron to wear while I peeled the pomegranates.  Several of my classmates worked in the kitchen with some of the nuns preparing soup they were to serve as the main course for dinner.

It wasn’t until after the meal, after most of the people who had come for the meal had already left, that I was able to go into the eating area to see the people whom we served.  I remember helping wipe off the tables and wanting so badly to converse with someone who had come for the meal, even though we spoke different languages.  I wanted to hear their stories and be the ear that heard the story of where they came from and how they got to where they are now.  But, I didn’t have that opportunity.  Christ was calling me to service elsewhere – in the kitchen.

The whole experience stands out so much in my mind.  The sisters who belong to the order of Missionaries of Charity were so humble, so charitable, and so patient.  They were amazing witnesses of Christ’s teachings!

Lastly, here are five quotes from Mother Teresa that have inspired me on many occasions.  I hope you enjoy these little words of wisdom as much as I do:

1) “Do small things with great love.”

2) “Be faithful in small things, for it is in them that your strength lies.”

3) “God doesn’t ask us to be successful.  He asks us to be faithful.”

4) “When the time comes to ask God for something, ask Him to help you be generous.”

5) “If you wish to change the world, go home and love your family.”

Mother Teresa, pray for us!

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