Friday, June 26, 2015

Quick Takes Friday [vol. 21]



Well, hello there, friends. It's Friday night. What are you up to? I'm snacking on a blueberry bagel before P. gets home from work and thought I'd pop in for a few quick takes. I can't wait to get settled in to a more frequent, consistent blogging schedule!


--1--

I'm slowly but surely settling in to this new life. Honestly, I'm amazed at the smooth transition considering I'm living with a new person, in a new house, in a new town. Must be grace from the Sacrament! I think we both anticipated a little more difficult transition since we're "older" young adults and quite independent. You know, set in our ways and all that. ;) But it's been fun and we're in love. We're also loving exploring this cute little town and the back roads and the neighborhood. This country girl is thrilled to see cornfields out her windows once again.

Front porch coffee...I've dreamed about you.


--2--

 Our June has been full of thunderstorms...and even just plain ol' rainy days. I feel like summer is sneaking by...where is the sunshine?? But it's a small thing and nice days are coming, so I shouldn't complain.


--3--

 Because there are bigger problems going on. Come on, Supreme Court. Absolutely discouraging, disturbing decision today made by them, When I first heard, I was overcome by 
 discouragement and even fear because...let's be honest...this is HUGE. Just like Roe v. Wade legalizing abortion 40 years ago, we are going to see massive consequences to this decision praised by so many. The family is already so broken and so in need of turning back to God's love and truth. Yet before the dark clouds of negative thoughts overtook me, I found this article. Full of beautiful reminders of God's power and sovereignty. Yes, we should continue to boldly proclaim the truth in order to build the Kingdom on earth, but let not our hearts be troubled for He is still in control. We are not made for this world. There's an eternity beyond. The suffering of the present cannot compare to the glory to be revealed. Lord Jesus, give us the wisdom of your Spirit to speak truth in love, the courage of martyrs to trust you in whatever is to come. 



--4--

 My job. Oh, my job. I'm hesitant to write much because this is a public venue but it's been such a struggle for me lately! I've kept my same job because it was under an hour away and it would provide somewhat of a link to my hometown as well as some familiarity and stability while everything else was new with marriage. At first the drive was kinda relaxing...coffee and prayers or music in the morning, catching up with a friend on the phone in the evening. But now I'm exhausted. And realizing what a negative atmosphere I work in at times. I know every job has its drama so I want to take it in stride and be thankful...but it drains me. So I need to prayerfully figure out how to give it to God and be faithful...and discern if He's leading me elsewhere.



--5--

The wedding and the move definitely dominated my spring but the summer is quickly flying by, too. I find myself browsing my Sweet Summertime Pinterest board, looking for ways to relish the season and make fun memories outdoors. I'm really liking all the greek yogurt/fresh fruit homemade popsicle recipes. We tried out the fire pit some family members bought us for a wedding gift. What fun to have some young adults over for conversation, cornhole, and s'mores! What ideas do you have to make this summer special in small ways?

Building the fire


--6--

 I made DIY dryer sheets last week. P. always used Bounce sheets and I would use white vinegar as a rinse in the washer-- my laundry was non-toxic but his smelled great! So as a compromise, I found this recipe on Pinterest, pulled out some old T-shirts, and was quite happy with the results. They don't smell as strong as I'd like, but I haven't had any static in the laundry yet! Do you have any DIY household recipes to share?

T-shirt scraps and the homemade fabric softener-- tada!


--7--

 This weekend is our "Saying No" weekend...every once in awhile when I start to feel too busy, I stop the madness and schedule a Saying No week or weekend...or sometimes just a day. ;) We live in such a fast-paced world and we get caught up in such full schedules-- even full of good things. But I strongly feel it's important we live with margin...white space...boredom. Because it's only when we allow ourselves to have time and silence and even boredom that we think more and deeper, that we pursue the creative unnecessary. *ahem* Getting off my soapbox now...in short, even though there are some great social events and certainly things we could do, we're staying home. Hopefully working together, praying together, and growing together. Maybe we'll get our marriage prep books out and read. Maybe I'll write some more blog posts ahead. Maybe we'll organize the basement (eek!! You've never seen so many boxes in your life!!). Have you ever felt the need for a Saying No week? Maybe someday I'll be brave enough to try an Unplugged week...


Have a beautiful weekend, friends. It's good to be back with you. I'm praying for you tonight.


Saturday, May 16, 2015

Quick Takes Friday (on a Saturday) [vol. 20]

seven quick takes friday 2

Happy weekend, friends!! It's a rainy day here but the temps are climbing to the 80's today so I'm going to order some sunshine and some outdoor time this afternoon!!

What's new with you? How was your week? Here's what I've been up to in pictures...


--1--

Don't mind my loooong arm...it didn't look like that in the square instagram camera, haha!!
My dad invited me to a coffee date this morning!! So beautiful to have this one-on-one time
as his single daughter before I become his married daughter! He is amazing, so blessed
to have such a solid father in my life. I know his love and support are what helped keep me
on the right path in life-- in education and career decisions, in my spiritual life, and even
in chastity-- I knew I was loved by my dad and did not need to seek it in unhealthy ways
from other men. Thank you, Jesus, for this gift.

--2--

Baby K is peeking through the front of the stroller...it's like a Where's Waldo picture but I'm giving you the hint.
My sister and I took her three littles to our town's lilac festival last weekend! I'm treasuring these purposeful moments with friends and family. And I really can't get enough of my always-joyful nephews and niece.

--3--



Speaking of lilacs, I received this one five years ago at the first festival I went to. It was the same year I moved out of my parents' home into my apartment (fresh from a broken engagement, too). I planted it and cared for it these last several years and this is the FIRST year it BLOOMED!! What a beautiful gift to have it bloom the year I'm getting married. If you're struggling, don't give up! Keep hoping, keep persevering, keep watering your lilac...life will bloom for you. God is at work in the soil. 


--4--



Enjoying my last days of coffee on this deck in the morning. Oh, the memories at this sweet little place!!

--5--

But...joy of joys...

The front porch of our new home! 

I'll have a new coffee place in a month!


--6--

Lots of burlap, lace, and chalkboards. Thanks, Pinterest!

I'm so done with society's expectations of a wedding. As we near our day, I'm grateful we choose to do a lot of things ourselves. It added memories and subtracted costs. :) And though it's been tough to swim against the current of the wedding industry, there's a sweet joy in focusing on simplicity and the Sacrament of marriage. Here's a sample picture of our reception table decorations (on my carpet instead of the linen tablecloth ;) ). 

--7--

The babies are just chilling out on their "deck" to the left of the nest.

If you follow me on Instagram, you've seen my posts of this robin's nest and babies! The nest was just outside my sliding door, so I had the most fun watching all the stages of this life cycle-- from the momma on her eggs to the babies outgrowing their nest! What a miracle! Yet another delight during my last spring here...a small gift from my Heavenly Father, perhaps.

--Bonus!--

Thought I'd share a peek of our engagement pictures. We had a lot of fun with these! I'm so happy with our photographer! 




Have a lovely weekend, friends!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Why, hello there

Helloooo, my precious blog friends!!! And happy Friday night! It's been too long.


I think I'm back. And here to stay for awhile.


It's not that life was horrible and I needed to hide. It's not that life was all flowers and chocolate and I didn't think about you. I think I just needed a break.


But my fingers are itching for the keys and my heart is wanting your friendship again.


So I'm here. I can't fit all the details of the weeks into a single post (nor do I want to! That would be an exhausting read for you!), but I can tell you it's been a crazy, beautiful ride these months of engagement. And if I were to summarize it into one sentence, you know what one I'd choose?


I really need a Savior.


Isn't that a crazy sentence to describe an engagement? But it's so true! Because as P. and I have walked this new path together, I've realized it all comes back to Christ. When the going is good and life is brimming with joy and delight...it's all the more sweeter to remember the Giver and the purpose He has for our marriage. The joy is multiplied when we invite Him in, and when we work together for His people. And when the going gets tough, I can step back and remember that marriage isn't mean to make us happy, it's meant to make us holy (Thank you, Sacred Marriage!). And that involves some serious sanding of rough edges, let me tell you. Both of us have grown already during these seven months...it's actually really awesome to look back and see it over such a short period of time.


Our engagement season has been anything but perfect. And in our secular culture, there's an overwhelming amount of pressure that both the engagement and the wedding must be perfect. (Funny they don't seem to focus on the marriage part, though...). But guys...though our engagement season wasn't perfect, it has been absolutely beautiful.


Because I see how we grew through trials. We chose love time and time again. We held each other up in stress, grief, and fatigue. We learned more about sacrificial love. We honed our communication skills in the big decisions and discussions (like house hunting!). We held on to each other and let go of what wasn't important-- including the culture's expectations of engagement and weddings. It was messy. It was funny. It was difficult and exciting and overwhelming and fun. And so, so beautiful. Because grace is written all over it. Every moment.


Our wedding is two weeks from today. I don't know if it's all going to come together (I hope so!) but I do know God will be there. Marriage is going to take all three of us. And I couldn't be more grateful (or excited!) to be vowing faithfulness to the one I love, knowing he will lead me closer to the Heavenly One I love.


(It's midnight and I'm headed to a local festival in the morning with my sister and her littles, so I am off to bed! Next time I'll try to share some of the fun deets...like the house we closed on today! Rest in His love tonight!)

Monday, March 9, 2015

Loss

We're getting married in two months.

My dress needs altered.

We don't know where we're living.

We don't have all of the music selected.

And four weeks ago, life changed forever.


Because his dad died unexpectedly. 


We were in town with all of his siblings. For a baptism.

Welcoming a new little one into God's kingdom on earth...while his dad was welcomed into eternity.

And we're reeling.

I'm not his wife yet. I feel too fresh, too inexperienced, for this.

I'm floundering something fierce. Making mistakes left and right.

Loving imperfectly.


But somehow there's grace.


There's grace in knowing his dad was praying at the very moment of death. That he left an incredible legacy of the story of his life, his faith...and his family.

There's grace in seeing the man I'm going to marry be so beautifully tender and vulnerable...and so immeasurably strong and faithful. Watching him cling to the cross. And hold on to hope.

There's grace in watching the faith and strength of his mom as she trusts in the Lord unconditionally and still worships with joy.


But there's still pain.


Because he can't call his dad or hug his dad or ask him for advice.


The space between heaven and earth is wide.

And my inadequacy as an almost-wife feels deep.


Pray for us?


Tuesday, February 3, 2015

NAS: Qualities of a Husband


My internet time has been anything but consistent lately, so it was wonderful to spend some time this morning catching up on blogs. You all inspire me so much. I was particularly touched by this post and this post. Natasha has long been a blog-mentor for me and I know I'll continue to seek her wisdom in my first year of marriage. Britt Leigh reminded me to pause in the craziness of engagement and remember why I'm so grateful for my man! So I'm going to link up with the N.A.S. girls today, too. They're talking about desired qualities in a husband (and I hope they don't mind I'm joining in the discussion!).

P. and I had a marriage counseling session with my parish priest on Thursday and then on Saturday we went to an Joy-Filled Marriage retreat. Both sessions were intense and very helpful and fruitful! Seriously-- it's such a challenging, humbling season for a recovering perfectionist, a self-proclaimed introvert, a dramatic over-thinker (umm...yes, me). Because we're two unique individuals raised by two different sets of unique individuals...trying to become one with a God-breathed vision of a future lived for Him, together. It's exciting and beautiful and amazing...and kinda hard.

So I'm pausing today. Looking back at the qualities I desired in a husband, and how beautifully He fulfilled those desires in P.

A Country Boy- Okay, this one is kind of funny. This was one of my non-negotiables growing up...but P. is a total city boy. He worked in downtown Cleveland, he loves skyscrapers, he is energized by the hustle and bustle of the city. Thankfully, he appreciates my love for the country and he has his own love for God's creation in nature.

Solid in His Faith- check. check. check. He has a degree in Biblical Theology so the head knowledge is there, but even better is that it has traveled down to his heart, where there resides a beautifully sincere desire to know the Lord and grow in personal relationship with Him.

Close to Family- we both value our current families and the potential of our future family. He is very loving with his parents and siblings. His dad is paralyzed from the neck down, and it never fails to move me greatly seeing the two of them interact.

Intelligent- I'm pretty sure he's smarter than me. haha. We both love to read. He loves deep conversations and I try to keep up for the most part.

Attractive to Me- this was a big one! I really really wanted to be attracted to my husband! There was always the fear that I'd get a 'good' man but not one I was attracted to! Silly, untrusting woman that I was...(and still am so often!) Godly men are very attractive and this one still makes my heart flutter!!

A Great Leader- Though I love biblical femininity and desire a home modeled after Ephesians 5, I also am by nature a leader. I love leading in whatever ministries or opportunities the Lord provides, but I really wanted a man that I could look up to as the primary leader in spiritual matters and with a family. Though my stubbornness spunkiness still asserts itself occasionally when we disagree, I'm so grateful the Lord sent a man I can follow with respect and admiration.


There are also some qualities that weren't necessarily on my unwritten list but are such wonderful traits in P!...

A Great Communicator- I thought I was a great communicator but P has shown himself to be a wonderful example to learn from! (I still think it helps that he doesn't have all the crazy emotions we women have when we're trying to communicate!) He is steadfast, patient, and calm in the tough conversations, and excellent with conflict resolution.

Fun- he's really fun! I'm in my late 20's and he's in his early 30's, so I love that we both can still act like kids together! We both acknowledge that we take life too seriously, so I appreciate his lighthearted, silly side!

A Heart for the Poor- this one continues to challenge me and I know the Lord is using it to mold me into the woman He desires to be. P. has always loved the poor and wants to serve them in some radical ways throughout our life and marriage.

Great with Kids- even though I love kids, I never really thought about this quality as long as a man wanted a family and children. But P's gentle, creative side with our nephews and nieces is so endearing. I can't wait to see him as a dad.

Athletic- again, since we're 'older,' I sooo appreciate that we both love being active! Running, biking, tennis, basketball, frisbee-- it's so much fun to play sports together or be active outdoors (though he's the more athletic one-- I just like running around and being competitive!).

Social Skills- I'm always happy to introduce him to people or be together in a group setting. He's great at drawing out others in conversation, leading group prayer, being polite and genteel, and making a group outing fun.

So there we go! We certainly have our challenges at times and will continue to, but I am so deeply grateful for the manly (and godly!) qualities of P. as the Lord draws each of us--with our unique qualities-- together to grow in greater love for each other, for Him, and for the world.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Quick Takes Friday [vol. 19]



Well, hello, friends. It's Friday night again and almost a week since I wrote. (I think I missed a Wisdom for Wednesday...oopsies.)

I do believe we have a new host for this link-up. You can find all the other S.Q.T. friends hanging out with Kelly at her host blog. 

It's been a good week. It's always an adjustment after the holidays, though, you know?

--1--

I still have my Christmas decorations up. They're not really even looking tacky and I'm still enjoying the Christmas lights every morning. I'm pretty sure I'll take them down and pack them up this weekend, though, now that Epiphany has been celebrated-- and since my next favorite holiday is coming up: Valentine's Day. It's time for some pink and lace and hearts! And possibly a birthday... ;)

--2--

I made cheeseburger soup this week. Recipe?? Here you go. :) I love that it was cheesy and hearty, yet also had some healthy veggies in it.

--3--

We've had temperatures below 10 degrees for the last several days. On one morning, the digital sign at the bank read -10. Brrrr!!! Tomorrow P. and I are headed to the abortion clinic an hour away, where he hosts a monthly prayer vigil. It's always a sobering experience to be outside the facility but an inspiration to see those praying and hopeful despite the chill of the air and the chill of evil. God will triumph. We're on the winning side. We just need to be faithful soldiers and show up on the battlefield (or pray from afar).

--4--

I bought my wedding dress this week!! It was my second trip shopping and a totally different experience than the first! After my trip to the large chain store, I cried from feeling overwhelmed by $1000 dresses and feeling less than pretty compared to the models! This time I enjoyed a tiny, adorable local store where the name reminded me of Phillipians 4 (Rejoice). The employees were delightful and the dresses inexpensive! It was such a blessing to find a modest, inexpensive, lovely gown. I just can't think of spending hundreds of dollars on a dress for a day when I held starving babies in Haiti, you know? Every time I see the dress hanging in my spare room, it just doesn't feel real.  Pictures to come!

--5--

Speaking of weddings and such, this week has been such a lesson in putting God first and going back to God's plan for marriage and engagement. As soon as you search weddings on Pinterest or meet with any vendors, it's amazing how much pressure there is for the day to be elaborate, perfect, stunning, and so on. Even after buying my dress, I was a little worried that I didn't feel like it was "the one" as people say, or that I simply carried on with my day after the purchase instead of drooling over it. Then I realized that's exactly how it should be instead of idolizing a piece of clothing! This world. Sheesh! I think the devil really uses the materialism and pressure to pull our minds from focusing on the sacrament and the spiritual preparation. When I feel stressed or inadequate, I have to remind myself that we already have what we need for a wedding: a church, each other, and grace! :) 
This was my favorite article this week and brought me back to beautiful, godly reality.

--6--

Today I had three beautiful patients who reminded me of the joy, beauty, and grace we find in simplicity. These three each had a form of mental retardation, some more severe than others. Talking to them, smiling with them, holding one's hand during an IV needle poke...the simplest of interactions kept tugging at my heart. Because for all my stressing and worrying and yep, obsessing, these three reminded me that all we have is today. This moment. With so much for which to be grateful. So many gifts. So many gifts. 

--7--

It's Friday night! What are you up to? 

Get ready for my dazzling plans: washing dishes, tidying my room, and reading a book. 

Don't be jealous.

I think I'll even pour of mug of salted caramel hot chocolate.

Okay. Now be jealous.



Haha. Have a beautiful weekend, friends. I pray it's one of joy, peace, and refreshment.

Love and hugs,