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,

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Turning the Page

This has been a beautiful holiday break. I mean, hey, it's 1:15pm and I'm cuddled in my chair with coffee, the Little Dog, and a Christmas quilt. Does it get any more cozy than this?

Quiet simplicity and time for reflection. My soul is happily expanding.

I'm reflecting on 2014. And looking ahead at 2015. I'm thinking about all of you. Some of you have been with me the past several years...maybe even some of you since the blog started. You, too, have caused my soul to expand with your own stories, your comments, your love and encouragement. God uses everything. Even (especially?) the internet. To connect His children. The kindred spirits I'd never have known if it weren't for the blog. So thank you. For being with me on the journey.

This past year was full of sunshine and storms and much grace. The beginning of the year found me lost in Paris. No joke. Stranded alone at an airport without a working cell phone and only a French phrase book to guide me. Pretty much an emergency course in trusting God's providence and protection. But all is well as I sit in my American home a year later, realizing with His help I conquered the metro system and my fears.

February found me reeling from a second break-up with my now-fiance. Even on heart-sharing blogs, there must be some things kept in a private corner of the heart. So though I want to share more details, and certainly would if you were across from me with your own coffee mug in hand, I'll simply repeat that God uses everything. I never doubted P.'s love for me, but both of us painfully separated to figure out what God really wanted from us. What a time of surrender and being covered by grace. Of being stripped of everything but the present moment. Of learning to pray with an open hand and heart, confused but earnestly desiring God to make His plan known whatever it might be. If you're going through your own storm right now, my heart is with you. I have tears in my eyes as I write this because hearts that have been broken love best and care most. Lean into Him, friend. He is enough. He does love you and has not forgotten you, even when you don't understand His ways.

I resigned from my manager position with the crisis pregnancy center this spring. It was a difficult decision (to put it mildly) but seemed best when I looked at the neglected areas of my life due to a too busy and stressful schedule. I'm still able to volunteer for them and have more one-on-one contact with clients, including performing ultrasounds-- my true passion. So though I miss the leadership role, I think this current role is perfect for this season and I look forward to how the Lord will use all my experiences in the future to promote a culture of life.

The summertime found me traveling to Tennessee with a carload of 6 girlfriends en route to our cabin in the mountains! We called our Facebook planning group "Epic Tennessee Adventure" and looking back, I can't think of a better description! It was an adventure, and it was epic. I learned how to cook on a charcoal grill, prayed devotions with the girls on our cabin deck, braved class 4 white water rafting, hiked the Smokies, and soaked in a hot tub with my sisters while Dollywood shot off fireworks in the distance. Traveling is such a bonding experience (and it can bring out the worst in us, too, haha!); this trip was a treasured gift and memory.

Then in October, there's this fairy tale where the dragon is slain, the forests are navigated, and all of a sudden I have this diamond on my left hand, the man I love before me, and overflowing joy in my heart. It's humbling and crazy and amazing and messy and indescribably beautiful. Our time apart has solidified our foundation in Christ and I am forever grateful. For all of it. Our God is in the business of redeeming everything we give Him...especially ourselves.

So this 2014 stuff: lost in Paris, then found in Tennessee. A broken heart then a heart that overflows (Psalm 45:1). What can happen in a year...

Now I'm turned the page. 2015. Marriage. Moving. Life as I know it is changing. Will you stay with me, my friends? You who have traveled with me, who send emails and comment love, who remind me time and again how beautiful are human hearts? I invite you into my journey of 2015, my heart and my life. I hope you will let me walk with you, too.

Grace upon grace,

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Wisdom for Wednesdays

"The Christmas story has an unconventional hero-- not a warrior, not a worldly conqueror, not an individual at all, but rather a family."

"The family is the key to Christmas. The family is the key to Christianity. Pope Saint John Paul II noted that everything good--history, humanity, salvation--'passes by way of the family.' When God came to save us, he made salvation inseparable from family life, manifest in family life. "

"The truth of Christmas begins with a family...And now the heritage is ours! We are Christ's family, and so the joy of Christmas belongs to us."

-Joy to the World, by Scott Hahn

Sunday, December 21, 2014

A Christmas Tour: Welcome to my home!

I've had some heavier-topic, reflective Advent posts lately so I decided it was time for a fun picture post! Ready to check out how I've decked my halls? Here we go...


A little reminder in the morning and night...O Come Let us Adore Him in the picture frame



Hot cocoa, anyone? I found a recipe for salted caramel hot chocolate as well as
dark chocolate with cinnamon...getting all sophisticated this year. ;)



My Advent wreath, created with the help of my mom :) I love real greenery!!!



Mmm...one of my favorite places to sip, pray, read...



This was to be one of my projects but alas...I couldn't find a shadow frame in my price range.
I want to trim the picture to 11x11 and then put a little straw in the bottom of a shadow frame for some added texture.
Next year. :)



My favorite spot this year.


Hand-me-down red bulbs from my mom added a new look this year.
I love the elegance of the red with the gold. And the little package underneath matches!
It's a decorative package that says "Joy." Love it.


Would you guess this picture is from an old Christmas card?? :)


A rustic touch to this end table. The snowman lantern fits a tea light inside, so adorable.


Going to try displaying Christmas cards this way...although I received a few more this week
so I'm afraid we're on to plan B!


I love decorating this chalkboard for each season!


Many of my decorations, including this one, are Pinterest inspired!
You can find the link to follow me to the right below my blog picture. :)


Nothing like nostalgia at Christmastime. It distracts me from pulling out goodies from the freezer,
which s a good thing. ;)



This garage-sale find always find its way into my kitchen each year!



A P. Graham Dunn print on my refrigerator. One of my favorite artists.



We can't forget the festive bathroom! It's pink and black decor
so I kept with that for Christmas. Pink lights and a black O Holy Night print.


Pinterest printable :)


I hope you enjoyed your virtual tour! Enjoy this last week of Advent!
The Word Made Flesh dwells among us.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Knowing the Savior

I'm in full week-before-Christmas mode, my friends. A little Christmas energizer bunny, let me tell you. In some ways I'm loving it because my schedule is so much lighter this year-- I'm able to do so many DIY things, which my heart just relishes. On the other hand, I have to be careful to stay focused (or re-focus!) on Christ. Ready for some realness? This morning, I spent my usual time in prayer with coffee mug in hand, talking to Jesus as I sipped my Nutcracker Sweet brew. Yet not once, not twice, but THREE times I found myself trailing off into Christmas gifts, recipes, and traveling. Shameful. Praying for the grace to delight the treats and traditions, but to cultivate a heart like Mary's-- always pondering the mystery of Christ.

Our Savior.

I'm sitting here looking at those two words again. Words I so often take for granted, this Jesus who is our God and Savior. But a conversation at work last week brought me back to the reality and gift of those two words...

I work for three amazing cardiologists. They are great doctors and great men. I enjoy a wonderful working relationship with them (and their accents are charming!). Dr M is close to my dad's age and enjoys teasing me mercilessly. We've also had some thought-provoking conversations about life and politics and religion.

So during a lull in the schedule last week, Dr M sought me out for some teasing and conversation. When I was getting married. How many kids I would have. Questions that for a Catholic, will inevitably lead to contraception vs. being open to life and God's will! It was such a graced conversation, friends! I shared my heart and faith...and he shared his. I was so grateful for the Holy Spirit's presence, giving me a calm heart and helpful words (not always what happens when I try to evangelize, you know!). But I was also saddened by the reality of our differences...the difference of life without Jesus as Savior.

For my dear Muslim doctor-friend, Jesus is merely a prophet. God is a master. A just God who requires obedience.

But for us, for Christians...Jesus is our Savior. God is our Father. A just God, yes, but also a God of mercy and forgives us when we fall. What a difference! What a gift to know God in this way.

This is Christmas! That God our Father sent His son to be our Savior. The story we 'all' know, right? Or do we all? This conversation reminded me that we don't all know the story of Christmas...or at least not everyone knows the God of Christmas. The One who became flesh and dwelt among us, so that we could touch Him, laugh with Him, watch Him cry, listen to His stories, and then see Him victoriously conquer death. A God who wants to be known in the most intimate ways...as Father, Friend, Lover.

Perhaps the challenge is for all of us, even me. To share this God, this story of Christmas, this gift with those around us. 

But also for us to go ever deeper into our relationship with Him...so that we not only know about Him, but we truly know Him.


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Christmas Prayer Requests

In the joy and beauty of this season, we can sometimes forget that this season can be a real struggle for others (or perhaps for you this year). Infertility, death of a loved one, financial poverty, loneliness-- these painful realities can make it so difficult to celebrate when our world places such emphasis on parties and gifts and laughter.

Just this week, my heart has been impacted by three strong women and the suffering of their families at Christmas this year. In each of their stories, I see a reflection of the strongest woman I know--Mary, the Mother of God. She knows the difficulties surrounding Christmas, she who traveled to Bethlehem and gave birth to our Savior in a stable...and years later, knelt before the cross of her suffering Son, trusting without fully understanding God's plan.

Would you join me in praying for these women and their families?

For E., my dear friend being treated for a brain tumor this year. An MRI in January diagnosing it, a repeat scan in July after surgery only to find a new tumor had grown, and now in December a follow-up MRI after non-surgical treatment. This woman is one of the most hopeful, joyful women I know, with a trust in God that lights up her eyes even as she walks this road. We pray for good test results, and for her strength and hope in the midst of her treatment.

For B.'s family. Years ago, B. and her husband adopted two precious little girls. Having overcome cancer when they were young, it then returned in the past couple years. B. passed away a year ago this month, leaving her godly husband and two beautiful teenage daughters. I saw them at the cemetery at church yesterday, remembering the anniversary of her death and praying. I couldn't help but cry for their loss as I drove past praying for them. May God comfort her husband and her daughters as they grieve, and guide and bless them with renewed hope and joy in the future.

For L. and her son. Little J.T. is an adorable two-year-old who won a pro-life photo contest for Down Syndrome children. At a routine doctor visit less than a month ago, they discovered he has leukemia. He was admitted the same day and is receiving chemotherapy. We visited L. and little J.T. at the children's hospital last weekend, where they are staying until the first round of treatment is finished. J.T.'s siblings are praying he will be home for Christmas. We pray for healing and strength, endurance and trust for their family.

Thank you for lifting up these strong women and their families to the Lord. Know that if you are reading this and you are also struggling this holiday season, I am praying for you, too.