Friday, July 24, 2015

Quick Takes Friday [vol. 22]


Did you think this was turning into a book blog?? I know, seriously!! I was way behind in my book reviews, so my apologies for the slew of reviews! (but then again...I'm a book lover, you're a book lover. No apologies needed, right?)

--1--

Summer. Sweet summer. It's finally here. Our days are 80's (and 90's today!) with little humidity and lots of sunshine. It's so gorgeous. The cornfields around our house are topped with their golden fuzz. The birds can't get enough of the seed in my birdfeeders. I ate breakfast outside this morning just drinking in all the beauty of this season. 

--2--

P. has had two trips this month for work-- both of which involved flying out of state, which is unusual for him. My first time with him gone since we've been married, and my first time alone in the house. It was actually a bit of an adventure. I'm thankful my single years taught me to be content and competent on my own...there are recipes to be made, projects to do, books to read! But I was still very happy to pick him up at the airport and have him home once again!

--3--

Speaking of adventures, I sought out the nearest farmer's market last week! There's such a charm to market shopping! It makes me feel like an old-fashioned girl, going to the market to barter for fresh food for the week. My 'splurge' was a cute little pot of rosemary to plant in a flowerbox outside. I'll definitely be back next week! I can't wait until the watermelons are ready...

--4--

I'm writing for The Catholic Sip now and was featured on one of their podcasts recently. What a fun time. One of the hosts was one of our groomsmen, so I had a bit of an 'in' to writing for them. They're a great new ministry, though, and it's made me seek out other podcasts. I never really listened to them before and now I'm finding all sorts of neat ones (although I still don't quite understand how to use them...can you subscribe so they're automatically downloaded to your phone? Help a tech-challenged girl, will you?) Do you have any favorites podcasts to share  while I'm on this craze?

--5--

I officially told my employer that I'll be looking for a new job so they can begin the hiring/training process while I'm still there. What a bittersweet time! I've held my position in cardiology for eight years!! But the drive is now about an hour from our new house and I'm just exhausted from the early mornings and the two-hours worth of driving each day-- it makes for a cranky wife sometimes, just to keep things real. I'm on the hunt and God has provided some exciting opportunities! One step at a time...I'll keep you informed, stay tuned!

--6--

This book. This beautiful book that I've had for months but read at just the right time. God has a way of nudging us like that...despite all the joyous events in my life these past few months, I've felt a little spiritually dry or distant. Enter Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet, by Sara Hagerty. A story of personal faith, infertility, adoption, authenticity, rejecting legalism, and finding sweet intimacy with God. It was a powerful book for me and one chapter in particular just...hit me. And all of a sudden I was crying redemptive tears and praying from a heart that God was slowly renewing. 

--7--

And He knew I would need that closeness with Him. The God who sees us. The God who is with us. The God who holds us tightly and walks with us through the valley. 

Because last month I miscarried. 

I know. I'm tucking it here in the last of my quick takes. Because after these weeks of intense grief and sorrow, the wound is healed enough to be tucked away...or maybe rather protected from those who don't understand. But I want you to know. And I'll talk about it more soon. But for now-- know that I tasted the indescribable goodness of being a mama. Of a little life growing inside. I have a child. I will meet him someday. My heart is torn by the separation of this life...but rejoicing that the Lord is holding my baby. He is still good. And I praise Him for the gift of a little one, an eternal soul that will be happy with Him forever. We love our child more than I ever knew was possible. Love hurts but it's still beautiful.

Every life is a gift, no matter how brief it be upon this earth. And so life is still beautiful, too. 

Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Joy of the Gospel: A Book Review


Seriously, how do you review an apostolic exhortation of the pope? ;) I have zero theology degrees, and I fall short so often of the woman I think Jesus wants me to be...so I don't feel very qualified to review this book...

Yet maybe that's exactly why I should review it!

Because despite the intimidating first impression you might have of it--"Evangelii Gaudium, an apostolic exhortation of the the Holy Father, Pope Francis"-- the translation The Joy of the Gospel is incredibly simple, incredibly beautiful, and incredibly applicable to every single person on this earth (no degrees required...you don't even have to be Catholic to appreciate this message).

Pope Francis wrote this book focusing on two intertwining aspects of our faith: evangelization and joy. It is packed with beautiful truths. I'm not even finished with it yet because it's so much to take in. This is the type of book you slowly absorb over a year. And yet it's simple at the same time, if that makes sense.

Over and over, Pope Francis reminds us to go back to the Gospel message-- the transforming truth the Jesus Christ suffered, died, and rose from the grave for us-- and to allow such good news to cultivate deep joy within us. That is the foundation for evangelization. If we forget the Gospel message and how it changes our lives, we will evangelize without joy. And Jesus wants us to have joy (John 15:11)! As St. Teresa of Avila said, "a sad saint is a sad sort of saint." Yes, following Christ can lead us to the cross and even persecution for the faith. But at the heart of following Christ is deep joy that nothing else can give and nothing else can take away. It's the joy and fulfillment our hearts desire-- and it's only found in the Gospel.

Pope Francis has certainly gotten a lot of publicity and his words have caused much conversation. Part of why I love this book is that you read his words-- not the media's interpretation of them. He is not the 'rebel, liberal pope' he's sometimes made out to be, but rather a joyful, solid follower of Christ calling us out of our comfort zones to evangelize to the world, care for our brothers and sisters, build up the Church by faithfulness and education, and ultimately to find the Lord of our lives in prayer and in our daily lives.

[Thank you to Blogging for Books for my complimentary copy. This review contains my honest and original thoughts.]

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

$10 Great Dates: A Book Review



I'm in love with this book my husband.

And this book. 

I actually received it before we were married and enjoyed it but have since picked it up again now that we're married-- and it's so much more pertinent! When we dated before marriage, we lived an hour apart and when we were together, dating came naturally and easily. We were thrilled just to be together or to go out to eat or to do ministry or visit family together. We still do all those things now that we're married-- and we have even more time to be together-- but I see how easy it is to slip into routine. 

So we decided to go all stereotypical and do a weekly date night. But I'm loving it!! It's so great to know there's one day a week that we simply focus on us. Not work, not home improvement, not unpacking...just being together and having fun and growing together. We decided to take turns planning the date and this week is my turn. 

As I flip through this book again, I'm pretty sure I want to plan every date! They are fabulous ideas and all of them on a budget! With our recent home purchase, we're realizing how quickly the monthly bills pile up. The challenge remains to make a date special without being costly. This book is perfect for that. I'm a sucker for themes and sentimental ideas and the book is chock full of them. Seasonal dates, themed dates, outdoor dates...

Even the layout of this book is helpful. Each date comes with the date idea itself, but also tips for planning the date, tips for during the date, and even talking points to help you go deeper in conversation together. 

Can you tell I'm a fan? We're going with 5 stars on this one.

[Thank you to Bethany House Blogger Review Program for sending me this book. This review contains my honest and original thoughts.]

365 Moments of Peace for a Woman's Heart: A Book Review


I love daily devotionals. There's something so lovely about bite-size pieces of inspiration and encouragement and Scripture to start your day. This book is just such a devotional. Scripture at the beginning, a short reflection, Scripture at the end, and a one-sentence prayer. 

The book itself is just the right size with a gorgeous pink and brown hardcover, embossed title, and even a ribbon bookmark. Today's reflection was on 2 Samuel 21, about God reaching down and rescuing us from the deep waters...because He delights in us. Those simple yet profound promises resonate within my soul right now and it's beautiful. 

My only hesitation with this book is that it's not hugely unique. It's similar to any other women's Scripture devotional. The reflections are good but somewhat generic and abstract. My other hesitation with devotionals like this in general are that they cannot be my full morning prayer...they're just not deep enough for me. They do tend to be a little generic, a little fluffy, and little too feel-good. I do want to remember the beautiful promises of Scripture, but I also want to read about Jesus in the Gospels-- His hard teachings and His amazing miracles. I want to converse with Him and ask Him to lead me deeper into holiness. This devotional alone simply can't do that. But again, it can help begin my morning prayer time and begin to lift my heart and mind to the Lord.

What are your favorite devotionals? 

[Thank you to Bethany House Blogger Review Program for sending me this book at no cost. This review contains my honest and original thoughts.]

Dashing Dish: A Book Review


This book is beautiful.

It really is, though, in so many ways. 

What a holistic, well-rounded cookbook. The author is passionate about first finding your identity and value in God and then letting that realization guide you to healthful choices in food. So the goal is to be neither obsessed with food nor ignorant about food. She offers simple yet wise advice on planning, preparing, and purchasing healthy food that honors our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit.

I was delighted to find pictures on every page in this cookbook-- a definite plus for me. :) The recipes are also unique without being full of ingredients I've never heard of. And the cookbook is divided into breakfast, lunch, dinner, sides, snacks, and dessert (which adds to the ease and simplicity of use). Before the recipes, there are several pages with tips on clean eating, meal planning, and budgeting. 

Even though Pinterest has certainly changed the way we collect recipes, this cookbook rivals Pinterest with its appealing pictures, real-life recipes, and simple clean eating explanations and tips. 

I'm excited to have it on my shelf-- and its tasty recipes in my tummy.

[This book was provided to me at no cost from Book Look Bloggers in exchange for a review. These are my honest and original comments. Thank you, Book Look Bloggers!]


Thursday, July 9, 2015

Identity Crisis


"I'm living in between cornfields in a tiny little town with my new husband in our new home. I'm ridiculously, undeniably, head-over-heels in love with him. But I don't know who I am anymore."  
"There’s an identity crisis when we invite Christ into our lives. But it’s beautiful."

I'm over at The Catholic SIP today with my debut blog post there. Check out my reflections on what marriage is teaching me about identity and walking with Christ. 

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.