Friday, August 30, 2013

7 Quick Takes, Volume 27: Weekend Reading

{story of a soul, condensed}

Visit Jen at Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes!

new-to-me, and new favorite, image of Mary and Joseph
We're off to visit a few friends for Labor Day weekend!  In the spirit of brevity and all that, seven links worth clicking that I stumbled upon this week:

{1} I can't stop listening...Dominican friars on the Brooklyn Bridge, in Grand Central Station, and in the streets and churches of New York, performing a hymn I've actually never heard before, "Come My Way," with the most beautiful accompaniment and the most striking images.  I'm pierced.  Go listen to it?  Please?  And visit the friars' site, Blackfriar Films, for more.

{2} Gorgeously designed graphics (you can order posters and an awesome rosary infographic) and a young, holistic, much-needed approach to new media from Coronation Media, the latest project by a few of my college friends.  Like them on Facebook for more images and meditations.

{3} Etiquette, decorating, recipes, and general charm from a brand new mama at this new-to-me blog.

{4} "Here are your words, the ones that make me think there could be a giant of holiness sleeping within you, under the flaws and vices.  It's your monologue at the end of 'Bold As Love.'"  An open letter to John Mayer (I can't be the only one who sometimes hates that I like him?).

{5} I've gotten super interested in Montessori-style learning for children in the last few years.  Here, a list of infant and toddler play suggestions that show so clearly a mom's appreciation for her son's personality and inclinations.  If you have any other resources similar to this, I'd love to know what they are!

{6} Wise, wise words about togetherness and prioritizing your spouse, especially when your schedules are pretty different, from Stacy at Catholic and Crunchy.

{7} The dressy sweatpants trend, if there is such a thing, on Ain't No Mom Jeans, which is quickly becoming a favorite of mine for maternity and, soon, nursing style.  I can't imagine cuter, comfier pants for late pregnancy and postpartum.

Happy long weekend!  I'd love to know what you're up to!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Five Favorites, Volume 3: The Perpetual Wedding Guest

Linking up with Hallie at Moxie Wife!  Click here for more blogger faves!

After college, there was about an 18-month period where I went to nine weddings, plus my own.  Nine.  I loved every minute, but there were definite challenges to traveling, figuring out a different outfit to wear around mostly the same people, and picking out a gift nearly every month.  Here are the five things that helped me enjoy the nuptials and not stress:

A basic dress.  I have a decent amount of fancier warm weather dresses, but for winter weddings, I bought a navy blue shift that I wore on three occasions.  Navy's my favorite neutral, and it was easy to change up the dress completely with different tights, shoes, and jewelry.  Similar here.

This hairspray.  I fully admit to a tendency to go too heavy on the ol' aerosol (I've resorted to holding my breath, dousing my head, and then running out of the room to protect my baby's innocent lungs), but this kind from Suave keeps everything nice and in place without any stiffness or too much crunch.  I was able to dance with abandon and worry about more important things than my hair.

Kraft paper as gift wrap.  Cheap, easy to customize and pretty up with nice ribbon, and durable enough that it didn't get torn or beat up on all of our wedding road trips.  I might not ever dress a present in anything else.

Novenas.  An extra little present that doesn't cost a penny, and one I was especially happy to give to a really close friend whose wedding we couldn't attend, is the gift of intercessory prayer.  About two weeks before their weddings, I'd ask my friends to name a saint they and their fiance had a particular devotion to and offer to pray a novena for them that would end on their wedding day.

Blank notecards.  Confession: I am horrible at writing cards in advance (I never think I'll find the perfect words, so I wait too long before the big day), and my inner cheapskate hates the elevated prices at Hallmark and even at the grocery store.  But, I adore pretty stationary and love sending snail mail.  I picked up a few packs of textured white cards with an eyelet cutout design from the dollar section at Michaels and kept them in the car and in my purse, and bam.  No more dashing into stores before bridal showers and in between wedding Masses and receptions; I had a ready supply of nice, any-occasion cards I was proud to give.  Similar here.

Help me out, ladies!  Have you gone through similar seasons of wedding madness?  What would you add to this list?

Monday, August 26, 2013

Remembering a Breakup and Meeting Myself

Artwork source

I get a little sentimental around this beginning of Fall time.  Four years ago, right around now, I was spending all my time crying in the chapel and trying to make myself eat.  My first serious relationship had just ended, and even though I was the one who chose to end things, it didn't lessen the ache at all.

I guess 21 was kind of late in my life for a first breakup.  In high school I was incredibly shy and went on a total of two dates ever, both of them laughably awkward (well, now they're laughable), and I spent my first few years of college longing to meet my husband, with plenty of crushes but no boyfriends.  At the time I couldn't feel any lamer, but looking back, I can see so clearly how the Lord was protecting me.

I have a theory.  In my observation and experience, the more one comes to know God, the more one comes to know himself or herself.  When I think about my sense of self-knowledge as a high schooler, there's not a lot to think about because there wasn't much there.  I was reasonably happy, at least in a surface kind of way, and had been on a few retreats, but I wasn't really alive, you know?  I wasn't very discerning as a critical thinker or very aware of my shortcomings when it came to pursuing virtue.  

My conversion during college involved not just a new spiritual life, but a more examined life.  I learned so much about true, virtuous friendship, authentic love, and especially about Our Lady through my classes, friends, and prayer group.  When I consider how much all those things formed my heart, it makes me realize how darn blessed I was to have not dated much before I met my husband.  I feel like I have such a greater sense of who I am now than I did five or six years ago, as me specifically, but even more so, as a daughter of God.  If I'd dated much before I had that sensibility, I can see myself dating with much less purpose, being way too emotionally invested at the wrong time, and probably creating a lot of regrets with chastity.

This isn't to say that knowing Jesus and Mary in a deeper way than I used to means I know everything, that it's too late to start over if you've made mistakes, that it's bad if you've dated more than I have, or that being in a relationship makes your spiritual life easier.  So, so far from it.  I guess what's on my mind today is that a few years later, seeing how abundantly the Lord has blessed me, I wish I could tell my younger self not to be so restless and so grasping.  I read a wonderful thought this weekend.  Christopher West says, 
"[Love] is possible 'only as a result of a gift of God who heals, restores, and transforms the human heart by his grace.'  This means that holiness is not first something that we do.  It is first something that we must allow to be done to us.  Holiness is Christ's gift to his Bride."
It's grace, all of it.  I'm humbled and amazed.

So, agree or disagree?  Does knowing God lead to deeper self-knowledge and a truer sense of reality?  I love hearing your thoughts!

Friday, August 23, 2013

7 Quick Takes, Volume 26

{story of a soul, condensed}

Visit Jen at Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes!

{1} I've been dying to say this, and now I finally can...last Winter, I got a huge, blessed surprise when I was asked to write a book for Catholic brides!  I just signed a publishing contract a few weeks ago and am actively working on a manuscript.  With all that stuffs going on, plus our baby arriving in what feels like so soon, things might get a little quieter here and there in blogland, but I can promise you I'm not going anywhere!

{2} Speaking of our baby, Andrew and I are about 95% settled on a name for our little peanut!  He's had a nickname for months now, and it's been surprisingly easy to switch over to calling him by his future name.  I didn't think I could be more excited to meet him, but this makes things feel even more real!

{3} Beth, one of my best friends, is having a baby boy, too, and our little ones will be born just a few months apart!  I love these photos we took last weekend and keep wishing wombs came with windows--I'm imagining the babies waving to each other from in there!

{4} I read this article recently about tattoos and the Theology of the Body--if the body expresses the person, asks the author, are tattoos consistent with what our bodies are meant to communicate?  I was intrigued because it's a subject I've had a few conversations about here and there (and one that I don't have a super strong opinion on because I've never heard an entirely logical, sound argument either for or against tattoos), but, all due respect, the good points Emily makes still didn't seem to directly answer the question of whether or not tattoos on the body do or do not express the person.  My thinking says a tattoo that's impulsively chosen isn't really a reflection of the person (though I also don't think it's really a moral issue), but that if words or images are chosen with the desire to sincerely express a truth one feels in his or her soul, then it really could be a reflection of who he or she is.  Side note: there's currently no ink, and there probably won't ever be, on this girl, though, like I said, I don't find it a big deal or a defilement of the gift or anything.  But, I'd be curious to hear your thoughts!  Read the post and tell me what you think!

{5} Other recent internet finds...a recipe I'm hoping will recreate the most delicious toasted marshmallow milkshake a friend treated me to, a free Matisyahu album, and (this isn't recent, I guess) the classic pair of boots I've debated buying every Fall for probably the last 3 years.

{6} Your input, please: any good prenatal yoga or stretching routines you recommend?  I have to admit I haven't been exercising nearly as much as I'd like or as is good for me (read: I haven't really been exercising, period since we moved), and I think the ol' muscles, especially the ones in my back, could use some TLC.  My workouts, when they happen, mainly consist of the P90X kickboxing and arm and leg DVDs and clips from those Just Dance games on YouTube, but I want to start giving some of the gentler stuff a try, too.  Suggest away.

{7} We're hosting a little college reunion dinner party tomorrow and I can't wait!  During the two years Andrew and I lived out of state, we were always guests and never hosts, and I'm so excited to finally have friends over myself.  Enjoy your weekend, too; I'd love to know what you're up to!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

My Spirit Rejoices: Beyond the Blue

{sweet sounds for your Mass and reception}

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A few years ago, my friend Sara introduced me to a musician who skateboards, raps,lives in a cabin, and writes the most amazingly beautiful spiritual, poetic songs.  Josh Garrels cuts deep into my soul and is one of my absolute favorites.  Until I heard his song Beyond the Blue on a friend's wedding website, I never thought how perfect it'd be for a first dance.  First of all, there's this verse:

Yellow and gold as the new days dawns
Like a virgin unveiled who waited so long
to dance and rejoice and sing her song
And to rest in the arms of a love so strong.

It's such a beautiful image, I think, of both divine and earthly marriage.  What's more, the other lyrics in this song speak so deeply to redemption in Christ, hope in the new, and communion--so wedding-day appropriate, no?  I'm tempted to write out all of the words here because it's so hard to isolate a single good example and every line is so good, but since that'd be redundant, just go listen for yourself!

What do you think?  Any other Josh fans out there?

Monday, August 19, 2013

Rite Resources: Honoring Your Maid of Honor

photo source

Remember when I wrote about Fr. Leo Patalinghug's cookbook for married couples a few months ago?  I was paging through my copy a few days ago and came across this passage regarding your Best Man and Maid or Matron of Honor and the role they can play in your lives after your wedding:
Remember, these special people promised to pray for and encourage the couple as they went forth from their wedding day to fulfill their vows of lifelong faithfulness.  Having a prominent place in the ceremony, so close to the couple, these people will no doubt remember that image of two people very much in love with each other.
Interceding for your marriage and providing spiritual friendship and counsel is definitely no small matter, and I have to say, the thought of that particular role for the honored members of your wedding party was one that I'd never considered before.  It's got me thinking of them kind of like a baptized baby's godparents...marriage godparents? 

Anyway, I think that your Maid or Matron of Honor's prayers and support are such a wonderful gift.  So, how to thank her and truly honor her?  On the surface, there's, of course, choosing a special dress or bouquet for her, but spiritually speaking, here are a few ideas I came up with:
  • Enroll her in the prayer intentions of a religious order during your engagement
  • Gift her with a spiritual bouquet of your prayer and intercession for her vocation, whatever it is right now, and its fulfillment
  • Ask her and the Best Man to read the Prayers Of the Faithful at your wedding Mass.  It's a visible, living way for them to lead your guests in praying for your marriage and for the Church.
  • Include something extra, like a blessed rosary or religious article, in her bridesmaid gift.
I realize that every wedding party and family situation is different, and that you have to meet people where they are.  Depending on how things are, even praying for your Maid of Honor without her knowing, in my opinion, still has the power to bear amazing fruits.

Help me out!  What ways can you think of letting one of the most special ladies in your wedding know she's special?

Friday, August 16, 2013

Inspired: Minimalist Style


Make no mistake; I love bold colors and a nice, healthy dose of sparkle as much as the next girl (see herehere and here).  Lately, though I don't know--something about the heat and humidity of summer has me drawn to cleaner, simpler styles.  I think these minimalist finds are so modern and elegant looking and would be perfect for a late summer wedding!  Straight silhouettes, delicate jewelry, and a black and white palette add up to something so fresh, don't you think?  Links are in the captions.

modern wedding, black and white wedding, minimal wedding style, ariel gordon wedding jewelry, classic wedding style, Catholic wedding, Catholic brides, blog for Catholic brides, Catholic marriage blog
1. Dress, Ruche.  2 & 4. Love Knot Necklace and Studs, Ariel Gordon.  3. Anenome Bouquet.  5. Gown, Wedding Dress Bee.  6. Sandals, Shoemint.  7. Holding Hands Invitation, Printable Press.
What do you think?  Would you go minimal for your wedding day?  Have a wonderful weekend!

Monday, August 12, 2013

A Case Against Abstinence

This post originally appeared on Ignitum Today.  It got lost in cyberspace when the site temporarily went down a few months ago, but it did spark a fair amount of debate--one woman accused me of implying that abstaining from sex isn't necessary outside of marriage if you've found your future spouse (definitely not my intention), and I was asked, "You call yourself a Catholic?"  I never intended to stir up controversy for its own sake, or to play the victim; I only hoped to clarify what, in my eyes, can be a gray area of words that are used synonymously when I think that there's actually a big difference.  But, I would be curious (and humbled, most likely) to hear your thoughts!  What do you think?  Is there a distinction between abstinence and chastity? How would you define them?

I don't really like abstinence.  Wait.  What?  I resist the kind of trips where you go to Target for two things and come out with ten.  I try not to eat meat on Fridays.  My husband and I teach NFP.

 In some cases, though, particularly the case of sexuality, abstinence seems to miss the point.  Abstinence says no.  It emphasizes what you're giving up.  Often, it feels like a rule.

But chastity?  Chastity, I'd argue, shouldn't be interchangeable with abstinence; in fact, it can be the opposite of abstinence in radical ways.  Arleen Spenceley says, it's "a decision to die to self and to selflessly love (or to die trying)...Chastity never ends (that is, a person can be chaste simultaneously as he or she is abstinent, married or celibate).”  

And it's not a rule.  Focusing on abstinence, I've noticed, can lead to resentment or a sort of white-knuckle attitude where one feels like he or she just needs to hold on until marriage, when all of the impulses that have been held back can finally be unleashed.  This kind of thinking can raise the stakes, and perhaps overemphasize pleasure, to the point where one mistake leads to despair, self-loathing, or a feeling of being permanently broken.  But chastity, I think, acknowledges that we're already broken in our humanness, offering instead the hope that it's never to late to start over, and that the right kind of love can heal and restore us, giving us a glimpse, even, of the divine.  Chastity sees rules, then, not as a burden, but as a path to true freedom, with the goal being a body, soul, and mind so integrated that the rules aren't necessary anymore.   St. Paul knows it; he writes, "For the flesh has desires against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you may not do what you want.  But if you are guided by the Spirit, you are not under the law" (Galatians 5:17-18).

It says yes.  Chastity says yes to authentic love, yes to your future or current spouse, yes to purity in your thoughts, words, and actions.  It's not about what you can't do, but what you can: How can you express love to another person in the fullest, most respectful, and unselfish way?  The answer depends on your state in life, but no matter what, chastity encourages sacrifice, creativity (which could mean anything from a Say Anything-style serenade to a single person to the actual creation of a new life to a husband and wife), and reverence for another, simply because he or she is.  

So, do I think abstinence is all bad?  Of course not.  Self-denial can foster deep holiness, but I think it's only in light of chastity that self-denial takes on a deeper meaning.  It means freedom and faithfulness; it withholds nothing and bears great fruit in every vocation.  It means an invitation to love.  I can definitely get on board with that.

Friday, August 9, 2013

7 Quick Takes, Volume 25

{story of a soul, condensed}

Visit Jen at Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes!  You know how it's done.

{1} After a few weeks of feeling pretty displaced and dealing with a lot of temptation to despair, I'm grateful to report that in the space of the last week, I was offered and accepted a new job as a secretary at Andrew's soon-to-be university!  We'll be in different departments on campus during the day, but I'm excited at the prospect of being near each other most days of the week, and so thankful for the peace of mind that this opportunity has brought so far.  I've had somewhat of a bumpy history with job searching, though the Father has always provided for us so well, so it can be a struggle for me not to define myself by work.  With moving to a more expensive area, though, and with the lower pay that Andrew will be receiving as a grad student, it's been a good lesson to me in the last month or so to learn to value money without freaking out about it all the time.  Being overly concerned about not enough, I've realized, can be just as draining and prideful as I imagine being overly concerned with excess can be.  God is so good to us!

{2} With me being gone now for most of the day, with Andrew having a few more weeks before classes start, and with how much we love living near our close friends again and hosting them, my husband has been cooking up a storm, and doing it so well!  Gone are his frozen burrito days (remember when he hijacked my blog and wrote about his malnourished bachelor days?).  He made our favorite chicken soup and some carrot cake cupcakes for a game night with two of our friends this week!

{3} Here's my 29-week I approach 30 weeks on Monday, it suddenly feels like our baby's arrival is so much closer.  There's something that feels so big and so soon about being in the 30s weeks, and not the 20s, timewise.  I took my gestational diabetes test a few days ago; it was as nasty as everyone told me it would be, but I'm happy to report that all in the land of my blood sugar is well.

{4} In other baby news, Stephanie from I Found Him Whom My Soul Loves gave birth to her son Gabriel a few days ago!  She's become a wonderful spiritual friend to me in the blogging world, and I couldn't be happier for her and her husband Michael!  Head to her blog for pictures and to show them some love!  P.S. Did you catch Steph's guest post on Captive the Heart this week?

{5} One last pregnancy matter: I've read some things here and there about this thing called belly binding, a method of helping to heal and strengthen your back and ab muscles postpartum.  There are bands like this one that I have to say I'm intrigued by, not so much for the promises of shedding the baby weight faster (or, in their words, my "pre-pregnancy hotness...?"), but for the chance of a slightly easier, quicker recovery.  Evidently it's a longtime practice in non-Western countries (and evidently, non-Western countries seem to perceive that we Americans make things way complicated for ourselves when it comes to babies and childbirth.  But that's another matter).  Which brings me to asking if any of you have experience with this: have you mamas ever done a belly wrap after giving birth?  Did it help?  And by all means, if there's a particular item you recommend, lay it on me.

{6} Confession time: I love writing about books on marriage, sexuality, and love on this blog, but I haven't read a new spiritual book on any of these topics in the last few months!  The well is dry right now.  I'd love your suggestions, but to give this another spin, I've been thinking about tossing in a movie here and there in place of a book.  I have to say that I'm kind of a hard sell for most romances (I generally find them too cute, too unrealistic, or too focused on lust instead of love), but I do have a few in mind that I'd love to share with you.  That said, enlighten me!  Would you like to see movie selections now and then on the blog?  And, tell me your favorite love story!

{7} We're lucky enough to live just over 2 hours from the beach in our new home and are off to spend the weekend at the shore with Andrew's family!  I'd love to know what you're up to, too!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Are Soulmates Real?

I'm such a huge dork.  I might be wrong, but it seems like everyone besides me has been over Napoleon Dynamite since, you know, 2006 or so.  I still watch it sometimes, and I still crack up.  Do you remember Uncle Rico's line about his dream of "making millions of dollars and living in a big ol' mansion somewhere, soaking it up in a hot tub with my soul mate?"  

Ridiculous.  But anyway, I've been thinking about that lately.  Have you seen this article floating around, "My Husband Is Not My Soulmate?"  A friend of mine asked my opinion on it a few days ago, and I realized there's something so...indescribable to me about the whole thing.  I feel like I agree and I disagree, and am having the darndest time putting into words why.

I get the point of the article, I think.  Hannah is saying that her real, live, flesh-and-blood husband is so much more fulfilling than the idealized, guitar-strumming man she imagined as a teenager.  She's saying that being his wife involves an intentional, self-giving love that she's happy to pour out to him; it's not a fairy tale.  "My marriage," she says, "is not based on a set of choices over which I had no control. It is based on a daily choice to love this man, this husband that I chose out of many people that I could have chosen to love."  Amen.  I totally get that.

Hannah got me wondering, though, if there really is a such thing as a soulmate for everyone called to marriage.  She's wise, I think, to point out that Scripture as evidence tends to come up short, but where to go from there?  My instinct says (and feel free to debate me on this) that vocationally speaking, and within the sacramental nature of vocations in the Church, that for a man and woman disposed to the graces of the sacrament of marriage, in which their relationship is literally transformed, the person you marry does become your path to Heaven, and hopefully, a fulfillment of your heart.  Grace builds on nature, you know?

At the same time, Andrew and I have had a few conversations where we wonder if we could've married other people.  I told my friend that we usually conclude there are probably good, holy people out there whom we'd feel fulfilled by, but that neither of us can imagine being quite as fulfilled, or understood, or as free with anyone else. I love my husband so deeply and feel so seen and so loved by him that I really can't imagine anything else. The other thing, or person really, that makes me tend to think there is such a thing as soulmates, is John Paul II. His writings are all about the immense dignity, value, and unrepeatability of every human person. So, if every person is completely unique and unrepeatable, wouldn't it make sense that the person the Lord intends him or her to enter into marriage with (assuming the person is called to marriage) is someone, not just anyone?

My thoughts are still coming together on this, and I'd love to hear yours. Read the article if you haven't, and tell me what you think! Do you believe in soulmates? Do you think the permanent nature of the sacraments of vocation has a bearing on who you choose as your spouse?

Monday, August 5, 2013

Guest Post From Stephanie, Part 2: Selecting Bridesmaids--Family, Friends, or Both?

Stephanie from I Found Him Whom My Soul Loves is just amazing, you guys.  She and her hubby, Michael, just moved from Michigan to Florida in the space of four days (as in, they found out they were moving for Michael's job and moved four days later), and judging by her overwhelming sense of peace and gratitude, things are working out for them exactly according to the Father's will.  Oh, and she's 39 weeks pregnant!  

Steph was sweet enough to share her wisdom about choosing bridesmaids and groomsmen last month, specifically about things to consider when, like her, you can't imagine having a small wedding party.  Today, she's touching on friends, family, and how to narrow down your choices sensitively and smartly.  Enjoy, and be sure to stop by her blog!

Michael and his groomsmen!  Brian Powell Photography
Each bride and groom has unique relationships with their family members and friends. If you are both close with your families (i.e. siblings, cousins, etc.) this will most likely influence and/or shape your choices.

Things to consider:

Your family - Who are your non-negotiable family members? And I don't mean who would your mother like you to choose...but who do you absolutely want standing beside you as you get married? For me this was a no-brainer: my two sisters. I was able to honor one of my cousins in another way by having her read the prayer petitions during our wedding mass. If you have brothers or male cousins you are close to, do you expect your groom to include them in his groomsmen or is there another role these men could serve (i.e. ushers, lectors)?

His family - Does he have a lot of siblings or cousins he is close to? Would he expect any of his sisters to be included in your bridesmaids? My husband has one sister and while he didn't force me to have her as a bridesmaid, I think my including her was a gesture of good will towards my new family members that will be more long-lasting than squeezing in one more friend instead of her. Fortunately I really like my sister-in-law...but if you really can't stand yours you shouldn't feel obligated to include her; remember that you’ll be spending significant time with the people you choose (bachelorette party, rehearsal and dinner, getting ready on the big day, etc.). Make sure you discuss all of this with your groom and what his expectations are and/or what the implications of choosing people in his family - or not - may be.

Your friends - If you already have a list of non-negotiable family members from your side and his you may find your "friend slots" limited (unless you're aiming for that 20-person wedding party). My best advice in this arena: choose the friends you consider to be family. It sounds simple, but I found myself agonizing over not hurting people's feelings and not wanting to include some people from a particular friend group but not all. It's your wedding day and if you aren't that close to someone in a friend group, don't feel obligated to include her. She probably already knows if she is one of your closest friends or not and shouldn't be surprised or offended (and if she is offended, she probably didn't deserve to be chosen in the first place). Don't forget that you can include other friends in other ways as well. Because my husband is a convert and doesn't have Catholic family members and several of mine are non-practicing, I was able to utilize a lot of my other close, Catholic friends as ushers, lectors, the cantor, musician, etc. In hindsight, I should have made one of my lectors a bridesmaid but I got caught up in trying to include as many good friends as possible and was able to place her there because she is Catholic (so she already knew what to do) when many of my bridesmaids were not - a rookie mistake (but it's not like I'd ever been married before, after all).

So that's it! Hopefully these tips can help you pinpoint how many bridesmaids you're willing and able to have and who fits the bill. As always, make sure you consult your groom and weigh in on any of his desires or expectations surrounding his groomsmen. At the end of the day your family members and sincere friends will be happy for you regardless of whether or not they were standing by your side, helping out in some other capacity (singing, reading, ushering, etc.), or simply witnessing your vows from a pew. One of my friends actually told me she didn't care where she stood or sat - and would be happy standing outside the church in the pouring rain if it meant getting to witness my wedding...which is real best friend and bridesmaid status right there.

For all of you that are engaged: may the Holy Spirit guide you as you continue your marital preparations and if you find this or any other decision to be overwhelming don't forget to pray. God has already led you to the 2 most important parts of your big day - your man and the decision to marry trust that He can help you handle the minor details as well.

Tell us!  Any other advice for selecting your wedding party?  Let Steph and I know in the comments!


Friday, August 2, 2013

Love Notes: A Summer Sounds Playlist

{small ways to show great love}

Happy August!  Have you ever seen the Perseid Meteor Shower?  Every year I swear I'll park myself outside and wait for the stars to fall, but something always seems to thwart my best of intentions--rainshowers, sleepiness, you know.  This time I'm determined.

Aside from staring up at the sky, here's what else is topping my summer date bucket list...

  • Growing herbs in my window
  • Making s'mores.  Gas grills don't count.
  • Nighttime rosary walks, a favorite of Andrew's and mine
  • Seeing some sort of performance outside.  Our new neighborhood is close to a town square that has free live music every weekend, and we also don't live far from  an outdoor theatre that's performs musicals in the summer!
  • Berry picking!  We went to the best farm with my sister a few months ago that offers new pick-your-own produce every week.  We set out to make a pie, but by the time we'd had our fill of the fresh ones (and there were over 10 pounds!) and shared them, there weren't enough left!
  • Nightswimming, hopefully in the ocean when we join Andrew's family on vacation in a few weeks.  If you're landlocked, pools do just fine, in my opinion.
And, above are some tunes to do it all by.  Your turn!  I'd love to know your favorite way to while away summer afternoons and evenings with your love.  I fully plan to make good on some of these ideas this weekend; have a good one!

If you missed them, here are my playlists and date ideas for seasons past:


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