Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Wisdom for Wednesdays

“Eve’s thanklessness for all God does give and her resentfulness of the one fruit He doesn’t give, this is the catalyst of the Fall.”

-Ann Voskamp

(Did you catch my post on Eve last week? I was delighted to read this quote a few days later!)

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Tuesday Talk #4: Get Ready for a Cookie Swap!

You guys!! I'm so excited for this! If you know me, you know what a cookie monster I am!

It's hard to believe next week is NOVEMBER. Which means HOLIDAY SEASON!

And that means time for BAKING!

Stop by next week for a special Tuesday Talk event: a cookie swap! You'll find great recipes from the hosts and participants, and we'd love for you to share your own recipes! I am NOT a food blogger (have you seen the lack of quality in my photography??) so don't feel any pressure at all that your post needs to look amazing. Just bring your favorite recipe, type it out, and share it with us in the link up!

Can't wait to see you next week! Bring a glass of milk!

The hosts of Tuesday Talk

Beth - Our Pretty Little Girls ~ Michelle - Grammie Time
Keri - Living In This Season  ~ Christina - Waltzing In Beauty
Lauren - Simply Free Becky - BYBMG
Jess and Katie - Sweet Little Ones ~ Whitney - Polka Dotty Place
Laura - Life Is Beautiful ~ Elizabeth - All Kinds Of Things
Sarah - Abiding In Grace ~ Stephanie - Wife Mommy Me
Emily - Morning Motivated Mom

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:

Friday, October 23, 2015

Sacred Marriage: A Book Review

Sacred Marriage, Revised Edition  -     By: Gary Thomas

This book has been on my reading list for years. So many of the wives I look up to list it as one of their favorite books on marriage. I love reading books that help me become the best version of myself, and in this new role of wife there's plenty of room for improvement!

The subtitle of this book is so poignant: "What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?" Our culture shouts the opposite: test-drive the opposite sex, use others before marriage, it's all about your happiness and your gratification. It's no wonder we have so many divorces in our society when we're encouraged to simply focus on our own happiness all the time!

Author Gary Thomas radically challenges us to the opposite in this book. He asserts that God intended marriage to sanctify us, to make us holy. And sanctification involves pruning, molding, burning away our selfishness. The beautiful thing about this realization is that it no longer becomes about you. The pressure is off for a perfect marriage of perpetual happiness (which doesn't exist anyway!). Instead, your marriage becomes an offering to God, a union open to His hand and His transforming power.

Thomas gives historic, spiritual, and practical insight within these chapters. I would highly recommend this book to any couple discerning marriage, engaged, or already married. As an added bonus, my husband and I are reading the devotional that accompanies this book: Devotions for a Sacred Marriage. It's been neat to have him experience the same principles in devotional form that I'm reading in the longer book.

Christmas is coming up in two months! Either book would make a cozy read by the fire...and might stir those coals in your marriage, too. 
Have you read Sacred Marriage? What's your favorite book on relationships?

[Thank you to BookLook Bloggers for a complimentary copy in exchange for a review! These are my honest and original thoughts.]

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Wisdom for Wednesdays

"All men and women are entrusted with the task of crafting their own life. In a certain sense, they are to make of it a work of art, a masterpiece."

-(Pope) St. John Paul II

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Tuesday Talk #3: This Daughter of Eve

It's that time again already! Anyone else feel like the weeks fly by?

What's new with you? What are you excited about this week? Chime in and link up! See details below on our Tuesday Talk party and be sure to link back to at least one of the hostesses!

It all starts in the kitchen with our mugs and muffins.
So this past Saturday a friend and I hosted our second meeting of our women's Bible study. I am so in awe of how God is using it already. We wanted to start out with an intimate group of 8-10 and we're already up to 16 women. Women crave community, don't we? It's so beautiful to see this group of women come together-- single, married, mothers-- and find common ground in our faith walks. Many of them did not know each other at the beginning, but we're already sharing our hearts, our joys and struggles, as we learn about the women of the Old Testament (and munch on muffins and sip warm drinks).

This past month we studied Eve, the first woman, wife, mother. I went in to this chapter thinking of it as an introduction of sorts, a chapter I wanted to "get through" so I could get to the more exciting characters like Esther or the more relevant ones like Sarah with her fertility struggles.

Little did I know, I would relate to Eve a lot more than I realized!

Like mother, like daughter.

As I reflected on the insights of the chapter, the Scripture passages, and the discussion questions, my heart kept opening up more and more to what God wanted to show me.

H. brought pumpkin muffins! Yay!
Eve and I are more alike than I'd ever have guessed.

Do you know why Eve committed that first sin, why she listened to the devil and ate that apple?

Because she didn't trust God.

Her trust in God was weak. She listened to the devil, believed his lies, and then acted. She doubted God's goodness, His providence. She began to see God as One who was withholding good things from her. She allowed Satan to change her view of God instead of speaking truth to herself, of reminding herself of God's promises.

Sound familiar? Yeah, I thought so, too.

My trust in God is weak. So often the devil whispers lies to me and causes me to focus on what God is withholding. I doubt His goodness. I doubt His providence. I believe the devil instead of my Heavenly Father. And then I act. I choose selfishness. I avoid prayer. My view of God is distorted.

If only Eve had walked away from the devil's deception. If only she had spoken truth to herself. If only she had sought conversation and time with God, to remember who He is and to hear His reassuring voice drown out the lies.

If only I did that when I'm tempted to doubt, discouragement, sin.

This chapter was so beautiful, so surprisingly insightful. I am Eve's daughter and I see so much of her in me. At the end of the chapter, we were encouraged to make a 'strategy' for building virtue and strength for the moments of temptation. My strategy consisted of five points:
We're outgrowing my living room! :)

1. Remind myself of who I am in Christ.
2. Remember God's goodness and who He is. (My favorite site for the attributes of God!)
3. Develop more discipline in prayer and in my daily life.
4. Seek encouragement through mentors and through visible reminders. (Bible verses in house, car.)
5. Receive grace and strength through the sacraments of the Church. (Give me Jesus in the Eucharist!)

What would your strategy be? Who do you relate to most in the Bible?

The hosts of Tuesday Talk

Beth - Our Pretty Little Girls ~ Michelle - Grammie Time
Keri - Living In This Season  ~ Christina - Waltzing In Beauty
Lauren - Simply Free Becky - BYBMG
Jess and Katie - Sweet Little Ones ~ Whitney - Polka Dotty Place
Laura - Life Is Beautiful ~ Elizabeth - All Kinds Of Things
Sarah - Abiding In Grace ~ Stephanie - Wife Mommy Me
Emily - Morning Motivated Mom

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:

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Homemade Laundry Softener

Guys, I've been on the hunt for a good DIY laundry softener ever since we got married. I've always used white vinegar in my rinse cycle and it has done a pretty good job. But my hubby is used to dryer sheets and nothing natural can compete with those chemical-loaded sheets of nastiness. He lovingly allows me to use whatever I want (or is that a ploy to get me to do the laundry??) so I'm determined to find alternatives to mainstream laundry detergents and softeners.

I'm currently alternating between his old detergent and my homemade recipe for the washing cycle. I still put white vinegar in for the rinse but now I'm also adding this nifty homemade scented softener. I also use homemade wool dryer balls-- love those!

I've only used it twice so I'm not completely sold on it yet. I do think the clothing seems to be softer and not wrinkle as easily. The scent could definitely be stronger though. It smells great in the bottle but by the time I pull the damp laundry out and put it into the dryer, I can't smell much of the scent anymore.

I'll continue my search for the perfect blend of homemade laundry products. Do you have any recommendations for healthy options?

Here's what I came up with so far, based on several different Pinterest combinations.

You'll need Epsom salt, your choice of essential oils, a bowl, and a spoon!

I used grapefruit and vanilla because I had these on hand (and I wanted a warm yet fruity scent).

Pour in about 2 cups of Epsom salt and 20 drops of essential oil (at least 10 drops per cup of salt).
Stir until oil is well blended into salt. 

That's it!! Seriously! Just use about 1/4 cup (or two big scoops) per load.
And there you are. I wish I could give it more rave reviews but I think a few more loads of laundry are needed before I give my final verdict. (But from the looks of our baskets, it shouldn't be too hard to come up with a few hundred more loads.)

Happy homemaking!

"Have mercy on me, O God, in your faithful love, in your great tenderness wipe away my offenses. Wash me clean from my guilt, purify me from my sin." -Psalm 51:1,2

Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Silent Sorrow: Miscarriage Awareness Month

Precious gifts from Sufficient Grace Ministries: A memory book and bear.

It's Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. 

Not that I'm celebrating it or anything. But it's there. And I can't ignore it. I keep seeing posts on social media about miscarriage awareness. And honestly? There's a part of me that wishes more than anything I weren't so acutely aware of it. 

Yet here I am. My heart, my body, my arms aching to hold my little one this side of heaven. To mark the weeks with milestones of growth, instead of milestones of grief.

Yet here I am. Simply a newlywed to most people. But a mother in the deepest core of my being. 

These are the pains no one talks about. Miscarriage is such a silent wound. I think it's partially because of our culture's lack of care for the unborn. To some people, we simply lost a "pregnancy," a "potential child." But we know he was our son. 

During the acute time of grieving after our miscarriage (because the grief never completely ends, it only changes with time; I will always love our child and always yearn to hold him close), God still provided. Yes, there were people who just didn't get it, who said thoughtless things or who said nothing at all. But there were also the people who reached out in word and deed, who prayed like warriors. There were the articles that said what my silent heart wanted to say, there were the women who understood exactly what I was going through. Those words and those women were gifts from God. He was reaching out to me through them.

And so in the coming weeks, I want to compile some of the things that helped me rise and walk again. I want to share them with other women who are suffering from this cross and remind them that they are not alone. 

If you are reading this and uncomfortable with my rawness, my realness, I want to share one more truth. It's an important one: There is joy in this cross. I never thought I'd say that, but there is joy and there is peace. There is joy because God gave us a child. There is joy because we believe he is now in heaven with the Lord, a small but mighty prayer warrior before God as he prays for his parents and awaits our incredible meeting in heaven someday. Our child was loved so deeply his whole time on earth, so wanted, so cared for, so carried. We have never experienced deeper love than that which we had for him-- and that by which he was created. These are good things. These are blessings. The temporary separation is painful, but the eternal joy is sweet. 

So know that we appreciate when you reach out. It means so much when you acknowledge our loss but also our parenthood. When you share about your own losses. When you pray with us and for us. 

We count it all joy, because God has given to us abundantly. (James 1:2, 5)

From a precious friend, who lost her son in the second trimester this summer.
What a beautiful reminder of God's love for our babies.
This is the goal for all of us. Our little ones just made it there before us.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Wisdom for Wednesdays

"A good day is a good day. A bad day is a good story. At the end of the day, it's all good." 

-Glennon Melton

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Tuesday Talk #2

Hi friends!

Welcome to Tuesday Talk! We're gathering once again to catch up on our weeks, our goals, our families, and the daily grind. If you're a blogger, we'd love for you to join us on the link-up; you can find all the details below this post!

This week, I wanted to share with you our fun weekend getaway. Any bed-and-breakfast fans out there? For years, I've been fascinated with B&Bs and their old-fashioned charm. I'm a huge fan of historic homes (and have been since I was a wee bookworm reading Anne of Green Gables, Little Women, and such). I'll gladly pay anyone some moolah for the chance to stay overnight in a historic home! (and if they're adding breakfast to the deal, I'm definitely a taker!)

I've stayed in a few B&Bs over the years with girlfriends but it's been several years and I've always wanted my husband to experience one. So when he started telling me he had three talks to give in one weekend near the quaint Amish country in Ohio, my ears perked up and I started thinking it's B&B time. A sweet older couple from one of the churches where he was speaking had already offered for us to spend the night at their home the first night, so we gratefully accepted their hospitality but decided staying a second night in a B&B was within our budget.

Ready for some pics?

My handsome husband and I with two of the other speakers and E., our sweet hostess.

My very creepy "Yay for B&Bs" face.

The Blue Rose room. It was so gorgeous but I couldn't get a good shot of the whole room. 

Here's another corner of the room. My Victorian heart was delighted with the smallest details.

Lo and behold, horses and donkeys to pet and feed!

Yummy horse treats.

We decided we want to buy a farm someday. With a historic home on the property, of course.

Mohican State Park was fifteen minutes away so we had a gorgeous drive through the fall colors.

We took advantage of the sunshine and hiked a few trails before evening came.
And then stuffed our tummies at an amazing Amish restaurant-- but alas, both our phone batteries had died so no pictures of our feast. It's probably a good thing I didn't document how much I ate.

Our B&B was called Somewhere In Time, after the movie with Jane Seymour.
This autographed picture hung in the hallway. How neat is that?

Breakfast was scrumptious as the soundtrack of Somewhere In Time played softly in the background.

The porch was more modern than Victorian, but so charming! I want those lanterns!

The beautiful brick manor. 

All in all, it was such a refreshing time away. Working as a team for P's talks. Exploring the local pizza parlor and coffee shop in between presentations. Meeting wonderful new people. Hiking in all the autumn glory. Amish fried chicken and mashed potatoes. The luxury of a historic, hospitable B&B. And simply time to be together making memories.

But it couldn't be too idyllic, of course. So to add a little more adventure in there, our dog escaped in the parking lot where we were meeting the dog sitter to pick him up. There ensued a half-mile chase and some quick thinking of a neighbor who threw dog treats to slow him down.

All three of us are safely back at home, along with a few more fun and crazy memories.

Have you ever stayed at a B&B or are you more of a hotel girl? Or maybe a camping tent? What's your favorite accommodations? Dream weekend getaway? Give me some comment love!

The hosts of Tuesday Talk

Beth - Our Pretty Little Girls ~ Michelle - Grammie Time
Keri - Living In This Season  ~ Christina - Waltzing In Beauty
Lauren - Simply Free Becky - BYBMG
Jess and Katie - Sweet Little Ones ~ Whitney - Polka Dotty Place
Laura - Life Is Beautiful ~ Elizabeth - All Kinds Of Things
Sarah - Abiding In Grace ~ Stephanie - Wife Mommy Me
Emily - Morning Motivated Mom

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:

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Tuesday Talk!

Life is Beautiful

I'm so excited to be joining these sweet ladies as a new co-host for Tuesday Talk! 

Tuesday Talk is a weekly link-up for bloggers simply to share writing and stories and to form community! There's no specific topic requirement, which makes it even more like a real-life party. Scroll down to the bottom of this post for the link-up and have fun meeting and getting to know everyone! 

For the readers stopping by for the first time, welcome! I'm Laura! Don't bother going to the 'about me' tab at this time because I'm sadly behind with updating it for the year...soon, though! My life pretty much turned upside-down (or maybe right-side up!) this year as I changed my job, town, home, and marital status!!

A little about me in the meantime...

I am an RN and absolutely love being a nurse. My background mostly consists of cardiology nursing, but I have found a passion for working in crisis pregnancy centers. I currently work for a crisis pregnancy center as a nurse and sonographer (ultrasound). It's a job that continually stretches me and challenges me, as I sit face-to-face and heart-to-heart with women in crisis pregnancies. I love that our center can be a resource of education and information, of compassion and love, and ultimately the
truth that sets one free. I'm pro-woman and pro-life. It tears my heart up to see post-abortive women struggling with guilt and regret and shame. And there's nothing like seeing a gorgeous baby on the ultrasound and knowing that I may be the only one who sees pictures of this little one. Our world is a mess when it comes to the discussion of abortion, but the solution starts one person at a time, one conversation at a time, and getting down in the trenches with women in need. 

My Faith story is a long, beautiful journey of learning intimacy with a perfect God who wants my love, not my perfection. I'm learning that holiness is a life-long process of surrendering each day to the One who made it and allowing Him to use the circumstances each day to mold me into the woman He's created me to be. He has been the One Sure Thing in my life. I seek to follow God through the Catholic Church and my soul has never felt more at home in its beauty and grace and sacraments. 

My country girl heart was captured by the city boy heart of a college campus minister three years ago. This May he made me his wife. Though we both still love college ministry, he now works in full-time pro-life ministry and is an amazing speaker (I'm pretty sure God's going to have him go national someday). 

We lost our first child through miscarriage this July and our lives will never be the same. We knew love like we had never known it before. We find hope that our little one is praising Jesus and praying for us until we can meet him someday. He was carried and loved his whole life and entered into the arms of the Lord. How can we ask for any more as parents?

And then there's the random stuff: I'm crazy about DIY, cookies, holidays and seasons, the written word, little moments, authenticity, and living in the country. 

I tend to keep it real because it's tough being a woman in today's photoshopped world. 

Again, WELCOME to my life and heart. I can't wait to know you better.  

The hosts of Tuesday Talk

Beth - Our Pretty Little Girls ~ Michelle - Grammie Time
Keri - Living In This Season  ~ Christina - Waltzing In Beauty
Lauren - Simply Free Becky - BYBMG
Jess and Katie - Sweet Little Ones ~ Whitney - Polka Dotty Place
Laura - Life Is Beautiful ~ Elizabeth - All Kinds Of Things
Sarah - Abiding In Grace ~ Stephanie - Wife Mommy Me
Emily - Morning Motivated Mom

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:

Thursday, October 1, 2015

My Bookshelf: A Fiction Review and a Non-Fiction Review

Anyone else loving this reading season? It's still warm enough to read outside during the day with a warm mug and a blanket, and when it cools down in the evening I'm all about cuddling on the couch with a book. My husband and I are trying to challenge each other to sit and read at least ten minutes at night because it's so easy to just turn on the TV when we're tired after work! Yet reading is so much more fulfilling and healthy!

Here are a couple books from my shelf this month...

I was so excited to get a Janette Oke book in the mail and eagerly started reading this fiction book. I loved her books when I was younger and my girlish heart was delighted with the possibility of a new story of a teacher out West. I was somewhat disappointed with the book. It is part of a series, recounting the life of Beth Thatcher, who comes from a wealthy family but stepped out in adventure with a teaching job in the wild West of Canada. This particular book shares her visit back home with her family and their holiday excursion on a luxury steamship. Though I enjoyed reading Janette Oke's comforting, simple style once again, this book proved to be too slow of a pace. I found myself skimming at times even though I enjoyed the story and the plot. I also felt the kidnapping near the end (intrigued, are you? ;) ) was just a bit far-fetched. So I'm torn. There's the loyal Janette Oke fan in me, but there's also the honest critique. Final thoughts: love the author and some of her other books but this particular book was not my cup of tea. 

[Thank you to Baker Publishing Group and Bethany House for sending me this review copy at no charge. These are my honest and original thoughts concerning the book.]

This book is adorable. That cover. Don't you just want to open it up and look inside? I'm a sucker for decorating books even though I don't have a lick of talent in that area. I think it's because I love the concept of home. Of creating a warm and welcoming haven. This book is full of different rooms from different homes, with descriptions of decorating styles and ideas. It's an amazing reference tool whether you are an interior designer or just a wannabe like me. The rooms all look professionally done, but when I read the descriptions I feel like I could follow them and it isn't quite so intimidating. There are tons of extras to this book. Not only do they discuss style, color, lighting and art, but there are also sections on repairs, cleaning, and organization of your home. There's a "year-round happy & health home calendar" to help you remember home ownership tasks. And then of course, there's the room by room tour with hints and tips. Honestly, this book is solid. We're going with a 5 stars on the content, photography, and usefulness. 

[Thank you to Blogging for Books for this review copy at no cost. These are my honest and original thoughts concerning the book.]

Happy Fall reading, friends!