Monday, April 29, 2013

A Higher Love



When Roger Ebert died of cancer a few weeks ago, I came across this article he wrote about his wife, whom he adored, and their frequent wanderings and adventures.  Maybe it was just my pregnancy hormones, but I couldn't stop crying.  It was her second marriage and his first, late in life, and he says, "this woman never lost her love, and when it was necessary she forced me to want to live. She was always there believing I could do it, and her love was like a wind forcing me back from the grave."  The image of a woman essentially caring for her terminally ill husband as a full-time job, with patience and fortitude, and even calling him out at times,  just does me in.

The reason why it kills me, I think, stems from a realization I had about myself a while ago; a realization I'm actually not comfortable with at all.  Here goes: as a Christian, I'm embarrassed to say that I often don't feel ready for Heaven.  Not in the sense of being unprepared, though I almost certainly am (aren't we all, except by grace), but in the sense that my fully human, earthly mind can't fathom something that will fill my soul more than being married to my husband and raising our future family.  I find myself secretly hoping the Second Coming won't happen during my lifetime, I tear up immediately when I think of being separated from Andrew, and I struggle sometimes with the idea that, theologically, there's no marriage in Heaven.  There.  I said it.

I feel so immeasurably blessed by my husband, a man who shows me Christ's love in such a real, tangible way.  The thing I wonder and worry about sometimes, though, is if, by loving him so much, I somehow love God less.  I am in awe of my husband, thankful to him, passionate about him, and I trust him completely, in a way that goes far deeper than just feelings.  Shouldn't I see the Father this way, to an even deeper extent?  I know, of course, that Andrew isn't, nor should he be, the ultimate source of my happiness.  I should never make him into an idol.  Still, I feel guilty sometimes.

The thing that brings me peace is the thought that if love and marriage on earth are meant to give us the tiniest glimpse of Heaven, and if Heaven is such a banquet of perfect love, where we're free from our weaknesses and imperfections, I don't even know what I'm missing out on.  Of course it's better than anything I can imagine, because I literally can't imagine it.  For now, I feel like I should constantly be on my knees in thanksgiving for that small window into divine love that He's given me.

Smarter words than mine come to mind.  St. Augustine famously said something like "make me a saint, but not yet."  Get me to Heaven, but not yet.  Maybe he and I are talking about slightly different things here, though I certainly fall victim to pushing off holiness for later.  I pray to desire it now, to be not afraid.  And Victor Hugo concluded Les Miserables with, "to love another person is to see the face of God."    No truer words, I don't think. 

So tell me: have you felt anything like this, like you're failing because you love your fiance or husband so much, but don't always remember to love God with the same intensity and willingness to give?  I love hearing your advice!



Friday, April 26, 2013

Sabotage.


Hi.  This is sabotage.


This blog has been taken over (temporarily) (and I mean that to say this one time only) (and this is all assuming that my wife hasn’t found me out yet) by me, Stephanie’s husband.  I’m not sure if she calls me by name on here, but I’m Andrew.


Anyways, why would I want to take over this blog, you might ask, when it is already so cool and awesome and excellent?  Well, that’s exactly my reason why.


I needed a public forum in which to proclaim to the world (of young, womeny brides-to-be) that Steph is one fantastic person (Does she use her name on her own blog?  I guess I should have done my research first.  But sabotage waits for no one.  Also, sabotage uses Steph’s name.).
 

Now, I’m not typically one for public declarations, and I still haven’t figured out why I felt the need to say this, but inspiration struck in the midst of the shower a few days ago (when much of my inspiration strikes) and hasn’t left yet.  And I knew it wasn’t the same as my other inspirations because this one wasn’t about food or video games.  So thus was born the idea of Andrew the Saboteur.  


I felt overcome by the desire to tell other people how amazing my wife is, because most people won’t see all the small, meaningful things she does at home.  For one:  she loves me.  Like, really, really loves me.  Loves me in the JPII sense of wanting what’s better for me.  Even if what’s better for me is kale (which I still haven’t fully embraced).  But in other things.  My first two weeks of grad school I lost 20 lbs.  I had no clue how to prepare a good meal and my monthly objective was to spend not a dollar more than 30 on such frivolities as food.   I was successful (if “success” means cheaply starving oneself).  But after we got married, my eating habits have changed and I feel better and healthier.  What I mean by this is that Steph looks out for me in ways that want what is truly best for me, even if it comes at some sacrifice—cost if we’re talking about healthier foods, and taste if we’re talking about kale.


For two: She is totally ok with each of us having our own free-time pursuits (like this blog for her, and like video games for me).  And she only makes fun of my video games a little bit: Ogre Battle (which is way more fun that it sounds) becomes the name she dubs any video game I play, even if it’s Dungeon Rampage (which has Yetis and not ogres, obviously) or Pokémon (which has Pokémon).  While she gently teases me about my video games, she has no problem putting a foot down (I dare not say her stomping is ogre-esque) when my leisure eats away at more important things (like family dinner or academic pursuits).  Again, everything with love.  She is remarkably loving, in spite of those times when I can be remarkably trying.


She calls me on in everything and she trusts me entirely.  So, we’re having a baby.  Is she scared to death that, with the near arrival of Young Drewzy (the hip name I’m pushing for our child, whether a boy or a girl), I’m off to get a PhD that pays less than minimum wage?  Of course (she’d be crazy not to be worried).  But does she trust that a) God will find a way to provide and b) we’ll find a way together to make it work?  Somehow, yes she does.  And that confidence builds my own confidence (in myself, in God, in the future).  


Steph continually finds beautiful ways of surprising me with her love.  Hopefully this sabotage can be a small, loving way of surprising her back.

7 Quick Takes, Volume 19

{story of a soul, condensed}

Visit Jen at Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes!

{1} If you said even one tiny prayer for Andrew and I as we waited to hear from what we hoped was his future school on PhD funding, consider my heart thankful to the brim.  He was just awarded a full scholarship, teaching two freshman English classes, and a much more generous stipend than we anticipated.  God is so good!  Now to find a place to live and work for me...I am such a beggar, but if you remember, please pray that we peacefully find the perfect new setup for us!

{2} Question: do you receive the answers I leave in response to your blog comments?  I love reading every last one and really enjoy responding to each of you.  It's started to dawn on me, though, that short of obsessively checking back on the page to see if there's an answer, there's no Facebook-style notification telling you when I write back.  That said, veteran bloggers, teach me your ways!  Does responding directly to a comment email, rather than the comment on the post, ensure that the writer receives it?  I'm thinking that's the way to go, and consider this a future disclaimer that even if my comments stop appearing right here on these pages, you can rest assured that I'll be reading and answering.

{3} Thanks to this interview on Ignitum Today, I've spent the better part of my downtime at work this weak gobbling up as many articles as possible on By Way of Beauty, brothers Matt and Wes' amazing site where entertainment, culture, and spiritual hunger meet.  Their reviews and analyses of movies, books, music, and TV in light of philosophy and the Christian soul's constant sense of searching are exactly up my alley, and I'm officially obsessed.  Check them out!  Now!

{4} My non-online reading, on the other hand, has run a little dry lately, aside from a natural childbirth book that I got.  I've been re-reading a novel I loved a few years ago, but somehow it's not really doing it for me this time around.  So, suggestions, anyone?  Tell me the last book you read and loved!

{5} Joy the Baker calls this the new mac n' cheese.  I have to admit that when there's neither mac nor cheese, I'm a little skeptical, but the insane vegetable aversion I've had for the past few months has finally subsided and I'm on the lookout for new ways to get my green on.  Her recipe's on my list of meals to try this weekend!

{6} NPR, I always thought you were just liberal mush, but I'll be forever thankful to you for this series of mini-concerts.  Click here for a huge list of amazing live performances by Brandi Carlile, The Civil Wars, Adele, The Avett Brothers, and plenty more artists, some I've already heard of and some I'm just discovering.  Gift!



{7} And here, possibly for your enjoyment but mostly for mine, a little 14-week bump action.  I just bought my first pair of maternity jeans.  They're like a bra, I discovered.  Everything looks bigger and better in them!  I think the secret's in the super cute, ribcage-height, no-one's-skin-is-really-that-color waist panel...

Have a wonderful weekend!  Tell me what you're up to, and say a prayer for sweet Emily as her wedding week begins!


P.S.  Andrew hijacked my blog.  Click here to admire the wit that I'm always bragging about!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Lectio: The Temperament God Gave You


{recommended reading}



I totally still have an inner 13-year-old who's obsessed with personality quizzes.  I feel forever thankful to my friend Beth for reigniting that particular little spark during our senior year of college, when she introduced me to The Temperament God Gave You.  Yes, you complete an extensive questionnaire in order to learn something new about yourself, but this is so much more than a quiz or being put in a box.  

Rooted in classical philosophy, the underlying principle of this book by Catholic husband and wife counselors Art and Laraine Bennet is that there are four distinct personality types that can be a deep source of greater self-knowledge.  According to this book, most everyone has a primary and secondary temperament which reveal who we are, how we solve problems, what we're good at, what we're not, and how it affects different relationships.  

I found myself nodding along, recognizing myself so clearly, as I read about my temperament (phlegmatic-sanguine, anyone?).  What I love about this book, and what I think sets it apart from other personality-centered reading, is how closely tied in it is with Catholic spirituality.  There are chapters that focus on what one's spiritual life tends to be like, according to one's temperament, and areas of weakness to watch for and grow from.  So, rather than just describing you to yourself, this book encourages you to become the most virtuous version of your particular self and gives you concrete ways to do it.  

I missed out on taking marriage prep evaluations like the FOCUSS test, which I've always been intrigued by but have heard mixed reviews of.  I know some people aren't like me at all and hate to do these little analytical quiz-type things, but I feel like they don't exist just to tell you something you already know, to act like they know you personally, or to oversimplify a person by sticking them in a category.  Read with humility, I think that the point, actually, is hardly just to learn about who you are and then keep it to yourself.  

The point, in my eyes, is to take that knowledge outside of yourself, so you can best love and serve everyone you come in contact with.  Can you see, then, why something like this could be such a valuable part of preparing for marriage?

Toss your two cents in!  Have any of you read this?  Any strong opinions on the temperaments or personality evaluations in general?  I'd love to know!





Monday, April 22, 2013

Veritas: Alex and Emily

{real life love}

I was lucky enough to meet Emily when she got in touch with me through email last month, and feel even luckier to share her love story with you today!  Read on for tales of summer romance, autumn rainstorms, and why the best love is worth the wait, and be sure you visit Emily at her blog, Raising Barnes!


The first time I met Alex, he was covered in gold, sparkly paint.  My long-time best friend dragged me on a weekend church retreat.  Alex was a part of the drama team, playing the part of C3PO from Star Wars.  Let’s just say he had a little trouble getting his “costume” off that weekend…I remembered thinking he was cute, but not much else.  

Abbey Grim Photography

After that weekend, I began going to youth group with my friend more often.  I wasn’t Catholic, but I felt like I had made some great friend connections; I was enjoying the feeling of belonging there, so I stayed around.  Spring turned into summer and I was looking forward to the adventures the fall would bring: college and the exciting things that come along with it.  


As summer progressed, I began to notice that cute boy more and more, and a small crush began to develop.  Of course, my friend noticed.  And finally, she took it upon herself to do something about it.  Thanks to her not-so-subtle urgings, Alex asked me out on a date.  As any giddy 18-year-old girl would do, I said yes. 

A dream come true!  I was finally having that “summer fling” before college!  My life was as cool as I had always wanted it to be! (Did I mention that I was a silly 18-year-old girl?)  The rest of the summer seemed to be a splendid blur.


But, as all good things tend to do, the summer came to an end.  My last night at home, Alex took me out to a nice dinner, helped me pack the last of my things, and said goodbye.  To my surprise, I felt a little sad as he drove away.  But, I quickly dismissed the feeling.  College was coming; life was about to get a whole lot bigger and more exciting than a silly summer fling from home.


College was new and exciting.  I settled into my dorm, got used to my schedule of classes and made new friends.  But there was still this boy back home that I just couldn’t get off my mind.  I talked to him every day without fail.  And, I actually missed him!  What was up with that? 


The rest of my freshman year passed and it was time to come home from the summer.  I moved home, watched Alex receive his high school diploma, spent another summer with him, and helped him move into his own dorm - at a different college!  Then, I returned to my own college to begin my sophomore year. 

The years that followed were some of the hardest.  Of course, people tell you that long distance relationships are hard.  In fact, many have no problem telling you that they are impossible and that you are crazy.  Juggling competing class schedules, activities, and a relationship is not exactly easy.  And we certainly did not do it perfectly.  But, those years were also some of the best.  We were “side by side” as I entered the Catholic Church, as we each received nominations or awards, and as we began to discern where this relationship was actually going.  


I graduated from Valparaiso University in May 2011.  Of course, Alex was there cheering me on yet again.  I began my full time ministry position with the diocese a week after graduation and Alex began an IT internship.  That July, on our annual trip to the zoo, he asked me to be his wife.  How could I say anything but yes?!  As we began spreading the exciting news to family and friends, I couldn’t help but think that God must have been laughing at me that day; that “summer fling” was the vocation he had been planning for me (for us!) all along.  


We set a wedding date for Fall of 2012.  And, in the blink of an eye, the summer was over and Alex was returning for his senior year of college.  In some ways, that last year was the hardest.  Now that I knew what directions our lives would be going in, I wanted to start our marriage!  Of course, God was teaching me patience.  I spent most of that school year working, wedding planning, and praying that I could become the wife that I knew Alex deserved.    


At long last, although time truly did fly, the day came.  October 13, 2012, Alex and I exchanged our vows in front of our family and friends.  After such a long journey to get to this point, it was so wonderful to finally be able to share our first communion as husband and wife, with the help of many of our dear priest friends.  We were married in the same Catholic Church where we first met and where I first began my journey to become Catholic.  I could not have been a happier girl that day.  


Even as the storm clouds rolled in as the Mass ended, the smile did not disappear from my face; we went outside anyway.  Our photographer and our wedding party could not have been better, and those moments playing in the rain made the day even more special.  From there, we danced the night away.  Now, it’s all a beautiful blur, but still brings a smile to my face.  As always, God was right - waiting for that day was totally worth it.  


I love being Alex’s wife every day.  Some days, I know I’m not the best wife - I can get angry, frustrated or just plain grumpy.  But, he loves me anyway.  His patience is teaching me patience.  He makes me want to be a better person.  God knew that was the kind of husband I would need, and he truly gave me the cream of the crop.  


We have adopted St. Michael as the patron of our family.  Every day, we pray the prayer to him.  I know he is watching over us, protecting us and keeping us safe.  He is a reminder to me that Alex and I are a team in this life, but that we still cannot do it alone.  Without our faith, the help of God or the intercession of so many dear saints, we would fail, especially as we embark on the next step of this journey--parenthood!  Baby Barnes is due to make his or her appearance in October!

Here's to patience, loving across the distance, and sweet new life!  Want to share your love story on Captive the Heart?  Email me at stephanie.captivetheheart@gmail.com!



Friday, April 19, 2013

Love Notes: Dates and a Playlist For Spring


{small ways to show great love}


Are you as happy as I am for sunshowers, tiny green grass shoots, and switching from hot to iced coffee (decaf for me!)?  Combined with the joy of the Easter season, Spring is always such a welcome change of pace for me.  I love being able to do things outside after so many months of cold!  Might I suggest to you a few of my favorite ways to celebrate with your love?

  • Spend the morning wandering through the farmer’s market.  Pick out some produce and make lunch with it.  Best enjoyed, I think, picnic style!
  • Go exploring by bike.
  • Puddle jump.
  • Look for an outdoor concert.  Most towns offer live music for free in spring and summer!
  • Color with sidewalk chalk, with or without little kids.  It was always one of my favorite babysitting activities.  I think I liked it more than the kids.
  • Bonfires aren’t just for cold weather.  Build one, invite your friends, and roast marshmallows.

And, above are a few sunny, airy, happy-go-lucky tunes (and maybe a few rainy-day ones) to do it all by!  What about you?  Any exciting plans for Spring?


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

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Like a Lily: Emily


{what she wears}

Who better to talk weddings today than a bride whose big day is less than 3 weeks away?  Emily, who runs no less than three blogs, a personal one, a fitness one, and Fine Linen and Purple, mixes sporty style with a love for shoes (we share one of the same favorite places to shop!) and is totally head over heels for her fiance, Jim.  Read on for her wisdom on mixing and matching, keeping it real on your wedding day, and the amazing power of a loving look.

Emily, understandably, has her own wedding style on the brain today...she's picked out bold items in her wedding colors, covered in blossoms, as inspiration for you!  



Here's her take on the items she chose:

My color scheme is what I'm using--turquoise, black, and white. I wouldn't change those colors for the world!  The flowers are actually what I'm carrying. I love the simple white, but yet they're so full of life. The shoes are the ones I am wearing for my wedding. They are the perfect height for me and are so comfortable! The dress isn't mine, but I love how it looks.  I think adding a little pop of turquoise to this cake would be so fun!  The bridesmaid dress I absolutely love.  The flower on it is just so cute!

Emily's Style:

Describe your personal style in 5 words.  Sporty, casual, comfy, colorful, modest.

What's the secret to punching up an outfit on the days when you're tired of everything in your closet?  I try to pair tops with bottoms I've never worn together. I have quite
a small clothing collection right now and that happens often! Or I dress up my outfits with a sweater over top.

Name a few of your wardrobe essentials.
  I have 3 pairs of Docker's pants, one in grey, one in black and one in khaki that I don't think I could live without. I also really like colorful shirts to go with them!

Signature Fragrance: Sweet Pea by Bath and Body Works

Favorite Shoes: My nude heels that I got from DSW last Fall!  I hardly ever wear heels but I absolutely love these.

Favorite place to shop: DSW

Item you can't live without: I know this is total cliche but my engagement ring. I don't wear jewelry often and that is the only thing that I am always wearing. And I love having that symbol of Jim's love with me at all times.


Every girl has days when she struggles with her looks and her worth.  What do you do to remind yourself you're a beloved, beautiful daughter of the King?  I struggle with body image a lot. I have to constantly remind myself that God created me just how I am. I don't need to try to be something I'm not! People love me for who I am, and who God has made me. And also looking at my engagement pictures and seeing the way Jim looks at me! I just cannot wait for our wedding pictures!


How can a bride reflect her everyday style in her wedding day style?  Since I don't dress up that often and my hair is usually in a ponytail, my wedding hairdo and makeup will be much different than I normally am! I am planning on having very simple makeup and a simple updo, but even this little change is going to be different. Keeping "you" in your bridal wardrobe and hair/makeup choices is important to me. My dress is unique but it's "me", as is what I wear everyday.
Fashion, evangelization, and the Feminine Genius: your thoughts?  I think modesty is important in what we wear as Christians. If I was wearing a short skirt and a short shirt, I don't think people would take me seriously when I start talking about my faith. I think it's important to dress as if you were going to talk about your faith at
all times.

Sound advice, no?  Join me in praying for Emily and Jim as their wedding day gets closer and closer!

Want to share your style picks on Captive the Heart?  Email me at stephanie.captivetheheart@gmail.com!




Monday, April 15, 2013

Be Not Afraid: The Sex Post, Part 2


Thanks to you all, last month's post on dealing with wedding night nerves has become my most viewed post ever!  So humbled by your responses and emails.  I asked my friend Rebecca to share another side of preparing for your wedding night: how can you deal with starting over after you've already had a sexual relationship?  Rebecca and her husband dragged Andrew and I out of our shells when we moved to our area and encouraged us to become NFP teachers.   I'm incredibly proud to share her story with you! 


Stephanie so beautifully and honestly shared some advice for those of you preparing for your wedding night who are approaching the altar as virgins. One commenter called her post “bold holiness” and I couldn’t agree more. It is with humility that I accept Stephanie’s request to write from another perspective.

I was not a virgin on my wedding night. That is just one of many things that leads to me being asked occasionally if I regret the many choices I’ve made, as my life looks very different today than it did almost 9 years ago when we were married. The answer that seems the most honest is this: No. I do not regret our past choices because without each one, made at precisely the time it was, we wouldn't be where we are today. We never set out to make a bad choice.  Each choice was made with good intention and based on the information we had at the time.

I also do not regret our past choices because they give me a voice to share and to reach others faced with similar choices; to offer experience from a life lived differently and to share the joys and struggles that resulted from those choices. As with so much of our Christian life, there is pain and beauty. It all must be held in the proper balance. If we place too much focus on the pain, we miss the beauty.  And if we focus too much on the beauty, pain loses its value. Just as with the Cross and Resurrection. For every Easter Sunday, there must be a Good Friday and for every Good Friday, there must be an Easter Sunday. That is the challenge of the Christian life.

So, it is with caution I proceed, carefully walking the balance between honoring our journey and our choices and encouraging others who walk a similar path, as well as suggesting to those still deciding to choose a different path.

Eleven years ago, heck, right up until the hotel door closed behind us on our wedding night, I would have laughed at the idea of being a born-again virgin. I would have said you either are or you aren’t. Period.

And yet, a decision. A seemingly unrelated decision led me to understand things so differently. Once. And then again, 5 years later.

The first decision: My husband and I, although sexually involved from early on in our dating relationship, spent almost our entire 2 year engagement abstaining. I was using the Pill as contraception and became very worried that it was going to fail and I was going to get pregnant before our wedding, disappointing my parents beyond measure. So, for 2 years we abstained --well, we abstained from intercourse, but we were not chaste. And yet, the excitement of our wedding day. Of knowing we would be together again, finally. The giggles of uncertainty as we left our friends and family to continue the party well into the night. The laughter as we removed over 100 hairpins from my hair because I couldn’t lay down with them. And the joy of rediscovering one another, only this time, it wasn’t something we weren’t supposed to be doing. It wasn’t something “sinful” or “naughty” or “bad” or “dirty.” It was exactly what we were supposed to be doing. It was beautiful and there were tears as we lay together afterwards, tears of joy; of love; of hope in the life that lay before us. And in that moment, in those moments, I understood what being a born-again virgin was all about. As we got to know one another again in the coming months, we found things to be easier, less about pleasure and more about connecting than they had been prior to marriage.

But. Two things slowly began to cause problems. I only realize them now in hindsight.  As with so much, we can only see our errors when we look back. One, after 4 years of a sexual relationship that was about pleasure and had nothing to do with babies and was something I knew I wasn’t supposed to be doing, it was harder than I realized to break that pattern of thought. Unfortunately, deep inside sex was still something I wasn’t supposed to do. Two, we were using hormonal contraception. It would take 5 years, many tears, and many damages to my health and our relationship to realize this one. Yet, it was that second thing that led to a second time of being a born again virgin. I’m not sure I can find the right words, but that led to truly losing my virginity for the first time, 5 years into marriage. That led to truly giving myself fully, freely and without reservation and to receiving my husband fully, freely and without reservation.

The Second Decision: It was 5 years of marriage before we learned about Natural Family Planning (NFP). When we did, much like with our abstinence before our wedding, our decision was one of practicality as we tried to improve my health and our relationship, not a sudden desire to follow Church teaching. This decision led to four months of abstinence, this time coupled with chastity, within our marriage. We had no idea what was waiting for us at the end of this time, and unlike our engagement, this time, we had no idea how long it would last. We were skeptical and scared to death of getting pregnant. But after 3 months of charting and consulting with our teaching couple, who assured us that we were at an infertile phase, we finally re-consummated our marriage. And this time, with new knowledge of what our physical union stood for, of how sacred an act we were undertaking, and with total appreciation of and acceptance for our fertility, we finally lost our virginity for real. And once again, the following months were spent getting reacquainted and learning all about one another in new ways.

I will end this with my pieces of unsolicited advice for those of you who are not approaching the altar as virgins:

If you are sexually active with your current boyfriend/girlfriend/fiance, make the choice to embrace chastity, which for the time-being means abstinence. It will not be easy. It will serve you well in so many ways later on in your relationship, the least of which will be on your wedding night.

If one or both of you has been with someone else, it will take an act of will and prayer to remove that person from your memory. Sexual intercourse, on many levels - spiritual, relational, emotional, biological - is meant to be with one person only, forever. It takes effort to break ties that are formed, ties that you have buried deep. Be patient and gentle with yourself and your fiance.

If you are on contraception, go off it. Learn Natural Family Planning. Embrace it and the gift that God gives us by inviting us to co-create life with him. This was the single saving moment for my marriage. If you’ve been prescribed the Pill as treatment for a medical condition, seek a second opinion from a Catholic doctor.

Go to confession. I didn’t do this until years later. It was one of the single most healing moments of my life. It was the final impediment to the grace of our sacrament and it was so worth it. Find a kind, understanding priest (a good litmus test is to simply ask: how do you feel about the Church’s teaching on contraception? if the answer isn’t fully supportive, find another priest) and invite the healing power of Christ’s Love into your life.

Regardless of how you approach the altar, virgin or experienced, it is your decision how you build your marriage. With Christ at the center and your eyes fixed on your beloved, you have the best foundation possible.

A reader recently asked me how to deal with one of Rebecca's points;  she asked for advice on embracing your purity, truly forgiving your fiance, and adjusting to a new sexual relationship when one of you is a virgin and the other is not.  Share your wisdom, won't you?  I love hearing your thoughts!

Friday, April 12, 2013

7 Quick Takes, Volume 18

{story of a soul, condensed}

{1} Introducing…

 

 Baby Calis will be born at the end of October!

{2} Speaking of which, belly bands: gift from Heaven, or well-intentioned fail?  I'm all about the idea of wearing a band over my old jeans so I can leave them unbuttoned (those suckers are not getting zipped up for a while at this point), stay comfy, and save on maternity clothes, but there seem to be mixed reviews on whether they can actually hold your pants up and not budge like they promise.  Mamas, enlighten me!  What's your take?

{3} Our baby has made my Avett Brothers obsession stronger than usual lately, mostly thanks to this lovely, lovely expression of fatherhood.  Takes my breath away every time.  I beg you to do right by your soul and give it a listen!

{4} In other news, I just discovered an amazing new-to-me blog, Purity of HeartMegan is a newlywed with a heart for ministering in chastity and authentic love, and she has plenty of style to spare!  Check her out?  Please?

{5} Did you catch my post on chastity and spiritual warfare way back in the early days of this blog?  It's up on Ignitum Today this week!


{6} Remember the guest post I wrote for Arleen Spencely a while back, too, on why I don't use contraception?  It's featured this week on Carrots for Michaelmas as part of an extensive series on NFP.  I've learned so much about other methods than the one I use just by reading, and have loved hearing other couples' experiences!  Check out my post here, and the entire series here.  While you're at it, if you're at all a bookworm or aspiring healthy eater like me, you'll love the rest of Haley's site, too! 

{7} Can you say some prayers for us, please?  I told you a few weeks ago that my husband's been accepted to the PhD program he's always dreamed of, but a lot of doubts have been sneaking into our hearts, and the Lord has been asking us to go deeper and deeper into trusting in Him as we wait for news about funding and scholarships.  I have no idea what His will is right now, and I know my heart is being dilated and stretched; I just don't want all that stretching sometimes, you know?!  Pray for peace and wise discernment for us, and thank you so, so much in advance!

Quick Takes are being hosted by Grace at Camp Patton today!  Meanwhile, pray for Jen at  Conversion Diary  and her sweet new baby boy, and have a wonderful weekend!  I'd love to know what you're up to!

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