Friday, February 12, 2016

With Grit and Grace: February Goals

With Grit and Grace. A Monthly Goals Linkup.

This link up is just what I need! I was inspired by Christina's post and realized how helpful it would be to make simple monthly goals in addition to the usual things that need done. I'm definitely a list person, and goal setting can either inspire me or intimidate me. I think the important thing with goals is to make them realistic and not overwhelming, and to include things that are creative and get you out of your usual routine. My sister and I often lament that by the time we meal plan or prep, clean, work, etc. we don't have the time or energy for other projects or hobbies. But with goal setting, it will help me prioritize these things-- even if it means the dishes sit a little longer in the dishwasher that day!

Here are my goals for February! 

-Spend time with Jesus one hour a week at our Adoration Chapel (this is my Lenten goal as well)
-Make a German chocolate cake from scratch for my birthday
-Organize our pantry
-Make a few Valentines for friends 
-Host a couple for dinner or coffee (this is a monthly goal for my husband and I)
-Create a prayer space in our office
-Trim the Little Dog's nails
-Make nontoxic household cleaners
-Begin organizing our basement

What are your goals for the month? Give me some comment love! :)

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Wisdom for Wednesdays

"Through fasting and praying, we allow Him to come and satisfy the deepest hunger that we experience in the depths of our being: the hunger and thirst for God." 

-Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

(Happy Ash Wednesday, friends! Let's follow Jesus through the wilderness these 40 days and find Him anew in a deeper way!)

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Tuesday Talk #19: Our Love Story (a blog hop)

Joining the other Tuesday Talk hosts by sharing our love stories today! I hope you will join us! 

If God is still writing your love story, I hope you will take heart and hope from the stories shared. I didn't get married until my late twenties, learned the joys and struggles of the single life all too well, and went through a few heartbreaks (including a broken engagement) along the way to my 'happily ever after.' And even though love and marriage are incredibly beautiful and leave me humbled and grateful for my husband and our journey the end, the only real happily ever after is with our Savior in Heaven, for "to fall in love with God is the greatest of romances." -G. K. Chesterton

But without further ado, I decided to share just one chapter of our story today: how we met.

It was a gorgeous midsummer day and I was helping my brother with the music for church at his university parish. He was their summer musician and invited me to sing with him for Mass one weekend. 

Afterwards, there was an annual parish picnic and reunion for the current and past college students and parishioners. Not one to pass up on a cookout and festivities, I stuck around after Mass. I sat down with a plate of food at the nearest table with an empty spot. (When my husband tells the story, he insists there were plenty of other seats and that I purposely chose that spot.)

Little did I know I had just sat down across from my future husband: the new campus minister.

He was looking pretty hot that day. Typical campus/youth minister, I thought. Athletic, good-looking, outgoing. Even spikes his hair in the front a little. I was not impressed. I had a preconceived notion that youth ministers tend to have an ego and don't necessarily ever grow up.

But my future husband was quite smitten with me. He took every opportunity to talk with me and I enjoyed our conversations but was actually oblivious that he was singling me out. 

Maybe that's because I was dating someone else at the time!

The next day P. (my husband) proceeded to tell his new friend (who also worked at the university church) all about this amazing girl he had met. His new friend smiles and says, "oh, you must have met my girlfriend Laura." 


Yep. I was dating the other guy, who had been out of town the day of the picnic. My hubby was shocked and embarrassed and mumbled something about how he wasn't sure and then ended the conversation. 

It's one of our favorite stories to tell, and P. tells it a lot better than I do-- I love hearing his version of it!! 

Obviously, things gradually moved in his favor (and mine!) over time. A few months later, I broke up with the other guy after realizing he wasn't my Mr. Right. A few months after that, there was a mission trip my little brothers were going on with the university church group and they needed another chaperone over the age of 25 (I had just turned 25!). I was excited about the idea of a mission trip and needed something like that after a long winter. I talked to the campus minister (yep, my hubby!) and he was all about the idea of me chaperoning. Wink, wink. He even accommodated me so well by making sure I was in his van on the drive. 

Long story short, by the end of the trip, I was head over heels. I couldn't believe how I had failed to see how incredible this man was! He was charming, handsome, funny, deeply spiritual, and an amazing leader! No one had ever given me butterflies like he did and does! Thankfully, he was still smitten with me and we started dating the week we returned! 

We had our ups and downs throughout our relationship, and even a few breakups, as we discerned where God was calling us and whether or not that was together. But God worked through everything and on May 22 of last year, we began our journey together for the rest of our lives as husband and wife. Marriage has been very, very sweet. We chose to save sex and living together for marriage and it's just been indescribably beautiful to live out this sacrament the way God intended (but we're still very much two sinners trying to get to Heaven!). His plan is always so good, so joyful, and so rich with beauty and grace. 

Here's to 50 more years! ;)

Here's a picture someone took of us at the church picnic the day we met. We were playing a crazy game with the college students. (The photographer says she totally knew we'd get together someday.) 

Laughter -- one of the necessary ingredients for a good marriage!

Want to read the rest of the stories?

Beth at Our Pretty Little Girls  //  Becky at BYBMG
Jessica at Sweet Little Ones  //  Emily at Raising Barnes
Stephanie at Wife Mommy Me  //  Stasia at Our Life on a Budget
Sarah at Abiding In Grace  //  Ruthie at Rear. Release. Regroup.
Laura at Life Is Beautiful  //  Christina at Waltzing In Beauty
Michelle at Grammie Time  //  Tina at Go Big or Go Home
Whitney at Polka Dotty Place

Or link up your own below?

Join the party, friends, by linking up with your favorite post from the week! Here's the scoop:

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Currently // vol. 2

Linking up with Gold and Bloom and Anne in Residence to take a look at the little things in life currently...

Sending // Bills! It seems like they all come at once. Our property taxes were due and it's always painful to send that large check, but we're so thankful for our happy home and the money to pay our taxes on it. God always seems to provide and we continually pray that He be Lord of our finances.

Eating // Leftover oven-fried chicken. I thawed some drumsticks from the freezer, coated them with a delicious mix of Panko, flour, and spices and baked them in the oven in a stick of butter for some extra crispiness. We both enjoyed our 'Southern-style' meal, including my first attempt at homemade baked beans.

Dreaming // of Spring. We've had some unusually warm weather the past week or two, the snow has melted, and it feels like Spring is on its way! I know we have awhile to go but I can't help but dream of green grass and beautiful flowers and singing birds and sunshine. It's so gorgeous when the world awakens with new life.

Smelling // Everything. There's something about pregnancy that heightens your senses. This is both good and bad. One night I could have sworn there were onions on my pillow...

Hearting // The month of February. I always get so excited about it. I love Valentine's Day (even when I was single!). It's just so pretty with the pinks and reds and lace and roses-- and chocolate helps, too. ;) Then there's my birthday, too, which I tend to celebrate the whole month according to my husband, friends, and family. My birthday wishes? Card-making party with friends, organizing the basement with my husband, and a big fat German Chocolate cake.

What are you currently up to, dear friends?

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Tuesday Talk #18: DIY and Organization

I'm starting to feel better this week. Still tired. Still a little sick. But it comes and goes instead of constantly.

Sometimes I even get these spurts of energy where I feel like a racehorse just let out onto the track. And all of a sudden all I can see are cupboards that need organized, recipes that need made, and Pinterest projects to accomplish. *wink, wink*

Here are a few of the things I've been working on:

Homemade spice mixes. I love making tacos or fajitas for a quick meal but the recipes generally leave me two options-- throw in some spoonfuls of different spices on hand (tedious and not foolproof, lol) or toss in a packet of fajita seasoning from the store (which I don't buy because of the nasty ingredients like MSG or preservatives). So I searched on Pinterest and found these great DIY mixes! I'm excited to have them on hand for a weeknight meal-- and save money and our health.

Homemade cleaning products. My cleaning products (umm...and routine...what routine) need a desperate overhaul. Our supplies consist of my husband's harsh chemical products he brought from his apartment and my homemade cleaners from my apartment which are almost gone or the spray bottle no longer works (I hate that when you squeeze it and it won't go back to normal!). We also have a two-story home so my goal is to create two spaces (one up and one down) with all the homemade products we need for cleaning different surfaces. Here are the recipes I pinned.

What are your DIY projects or goals this month?

Want to join this week's link up? Grab our button below and link back to one of the hosts!

 Becky at BYBMG | Pinterest | Facebook | Instagram
Michelle at Grammie Time | Pinterest | Instagram 

You can join us on Pinterest, too!

Follow Sweet Little Ones's board Tuesday Talk Features on Pinterest.

Join the party, friends, by linking up with your favorite post from the week! Here's the scoop:

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Tuesday Talk # 17: Stranded

I've given my husband some extra hugs and kisses this past twenty-four hours.

Because he spent the 48 hours prior to that on a bus, 30 of those hours stuck on the Pennsylvania Turnpike with two feet of snow between each vehicle.

P. led a group of 50+ from our diocese down to Washington D.C. for the annual March for Life on Friday. Thousands of people showed up to to walk down Constitution Avenue and be a voice for the unborn and for their mothers (and fathers!) who suffer physically and emotionally after an abortion. It's always a hugely powerful and inspiring event (which the media generally chooses not to cover despite the large numbers that show up -- hundreds of thousands) and I would have been there if the little bun in the oven was not causing so much morning sickness.

Instead, I was warm and well-fed at home when I got the message they were stranded on their way home from D.C., stuck on the Pennsylvania Turnpike with the snow coming down fiercely and trucks, cars, and buses stopped for miles and miles ahead.

The next 30 hours proved to be challenging but so, so grace-filled for them-- and actually me as I heard the ways God was providing. It's such a beautiful thing when people pray and when God shows up in the midst of a tough situation. Looking back, the stories are just beautiful. God truly uses everything, and he orchestrates good from bad.

The #turnpikemass celebrated by a couple priests on a snow altar on the roadside with hundreds of people attending.

Students posting pictures of them brushing their teeth in the snow, their smiles joyful instead of fearful or complaining.

The firefighters and military bringing water and food supplies to the hundreds of vehicles stranded.

And finally-- an opportunity for P.'s bus to share their experiences with each other from the March for Life...and then the bus driver himself opening up about a past abortion his girlfriend had...mourning his loss and crying for his child. My husband was able to share with him about the mercy and love and healing of our God. I was particularly touched about this moment because of the way God loved this grieving man so much that he used the crazy storm to provide a moment for healing and renewal for the bus driver that might not have happened if they had simply driven straight home.

News reporters and writers published and aired multiple stories on the stranded group and even that had the fingerprints of God all over it. While the media typically doesn't cover the March for Life, they were sharing stories of it now and all were able to see the peaceful, joyful students and adults who were on the trip to stand up for every single life, that every life matters and has meaning.

P. and I celebrated his return last night simply, with Chinese food and football. (MSG-free for me!) But ever since his return, and as I process the pictures and the stories, I'm just overwhelmed by the way our God cares for us and provides for us. As His children...but also as an individual child. He loves us all and cares for us as family, but He also loves each one of us as if there were only one of us to be loved (St. Augustine). So beautiful. If I could rest more in God's personal love for me, I have a feeling it would change my life.

How was your weekend? Are you near the East coast or are you enjoying warmer weather? Where did you see God in your days?

Want to join this week's link up? Grab our button below and link back to one of the hosts!

 Becky at BYBMG | Pinterest | Facebook | Instagram
Michelle at Grammie Time | Pinterest | Instagram 

You can join us on Pinterest, too!

Follow Sweet Little Ones's board Tuesday Talk Features on Pinterest.

Join the party, friends, by linking up with your favorite post from the week! Here's the scoop:

Tuesday, January 19, 2016