Friday, May 31, 2013

Guest Posting at Little House in Chicago

Tess from Little House in Chicago married her love, Frank, last weekend!  I'm joining a few other bloggers in taking over while she's on her honeymoon.  I suspect my contribution is one of the more embarrassing ones...a sampling:

By nature, wedding gifts are, of course, gifts and deserve to be appreciated as such, since no one's required to get you anything.  I suppose, though, it's not uncommon for newlyweds to need to return a few items here and there, or to fill in the gaps of their new nest with additional purchases.

I'd venture that it is uncommon for said newlyweds to frequently return items they themselves have bought.  And yet, there I found myself, flamingo-pink towels in hand, at the return counter of T.J. Maxx, and not for the first time. 

Read the rest here, and be sure to check out the rest of the posts and give some love to that beautiful bride!



DIY: Gilded Accents

I seriously have to wonder: is there any wedding scheme or theme that wouldn't benefit from a golden touch?  For a really long time, I only wore silver jewelry, and I love my wedding and engagement rings in white gold, but lately I've been thinking that for decor, and even fashion (lifelong pieces like diamond rings notwithstanding), gold is becoming my favorite metallic.  It's a nice warm, four-season neutral, and judging by so many of the playful wedding crafts I've come across lately, it has plenty of charm to spare (I get vibes of this and this).

I rounded up a few simple, sophisticated DIYs for you, most requiring little more than shiny paint or gold leaf and a little patience.  Links are in the captions.

1. Urchin Sculptures.  2. Votive Lights.  3. Gold Foil Glassware.  4. Confetti and Chevron Placemats (admittedly, not a DIY, but to pretty to ignore, and not hard to pull off with Publisher and your printer!).  5. Coral Sculptures.  More inspiration here, here, and here.

If, like me, the idea of decorating something like 150 little coffee mugs intimidates, I love the idea of these crafts as bridesmaid gifts or rehearsal dinner decor!  What do you think?  Would you take any of these projects for a whirl?

Have a wonderful weekend!



Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Five Favorites, Volume 2

Lately loved...


A Piece of Toast: I have to admit, I am not the biggest lover of the Lifestyle Blog.  Lots of fancy, expensive things, lots of illusions about cultivating the perfect life, lots of the same stuff on multiple blogs.  But, I can't get enough of Molly and Sally's (they're sisters and best friends!) understatedly cool taste in fashion and decor (please come dress me), love of doing their own manicures, and best of all, their candid, honest voices.  Definitely something different about these two.  Go read.  You'll love it.

Lost: Another admission: even as the weather has gotten all breezy and warm and perfect, Andrew and I have spent at least 3 hours a day, for the past 2 months, glued to Netflix.  I watched the first few seasons of the show when it was on TV, but didn't really keep up with it when I went to college.  Now, it's such a thrill (and seriously addictive) to catch up and see most episodes for the first time.  Amazingly compelling characters, tons of cliffhangers, and enough literary and philosophical stuff for our dorky selves to chew on for hours.  Oh, and don't worry; we do make sure to go on a walk or bike ride every day.  No hermits here.

Rainbow Light Prenatal Ones: So far, I've been incredibly blessed with an easy pregnancy.  No nausea or morning sickness in my first trimester, and though I definitely took my share of naps in the beginning, I wasn't too fatigued most days.  I have to wonder if these vitamins, which I started taking a few months before Baby took up residence, factored in.  A friend of mine who knows tons about pregnancy recommended that I take a prenatal vitamin that went a little beyond the drugstore gummy variety, tempting as they may be, and I did tons of research, probably more than was necessary, before settling on these.  It's a vitamin that's entirely food-based, meaning it's very easy to digest and the nutrients are in the most bioavailable form (meaning most usable by your body), and there are even ingredients like ginger to counter morning sickness.  No judgment, of course, if you have a formula that works for you, but if you're newly pregnant or planning on it, I have no complaints at all about these!

Divine Mercy: Around the time I was interviewing for my missionary year after college, I heard a homily around Divine Mercy Sunday about how the Lord's mercy isn't just about forgiveness, but about His deep, personal love for us, specifically in the sense of His exact will for our lives.  I loved seeing the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, which I'd never had a devotion to before then, in light of learning to trust in Jesus more and more deeply.  I started praying the Chaplet every day during my interview process, and was rewarded with deep peace that this was what I was called to.  Now, a few years later as I go through another round of job interviews in preparation for moving, the Chaplet has been a saving grace, a wonderful consolation amidst my impatience and what I've realized is my own desire to have everything in control.  My potential opportunities right now don't feel as vocational, exactly, but I am beginning to get that same sense of peace and surrender.  Join me in praying?

Rikshaw Designs: In the warmer months, my style starts to lean in a much more hippie direction, mostly because I prefer nice, breezy, loose dresses over more structured, constricting clothing (I expect that'l be amplified even more this summer as my belly grows!).  I've fallen hard for the gorgeous, hand-printed kurtas by Rikshaw, a longtime clothes crush of mine.  I think I might finally invest in a tunic to wear as a cover-up and simple top.  They have gorgeous bedding, for adults and babies, too!

Visit Hallie and the ladies at Moxie Wife for more roundups of other bloggers' favorites!


Monday, May 27, 2013

Your Beautiful Soul


Alright, you guys.  I'm putting it all out there today.  This weekend, Jesse McCartney's song "Beautiful Soul" came on my 2000s Pop Pandora station.  And I liked it.  Loved it, in fact, just as much as my 16-or-so-year-old self did when it first came out.  I am only minorly embarrassed by this, somehow.

Aside from the fact that most male musicians who rise to fame with a sweet, pure-hearted love song often radically, trashily depart from that vibe in later songs to avoid getting pigeonholed (I'm looking at you, Bruno Mars), I don't think that detracts from the purity of their more innocent material.  The thing that got me about the song, which I haven't heard for at least a good five years, this time around, was the emphasis on the soul.

If you've been reading this blog for a while, or maybe if not, you might have deduced that my heart has been invaded, in the best way, by the Theology of the Body (see here, here, and here).  I know the intention of the song probably isn't to share some theological discourse with the world (definitely know, in fact), but having been immersed in Blessed John Paul's amazing words about the human person, created man or woman, body and soul, and made for God, I feel like the connection's impossible for me to ignore, even if it wasn't intentional.  Spirituality tends to do that, doesn't it?  Does that ever happen to you, where you start noticing truths of the faith or of human nature just in the everyday, once you've become aware of them?

A major teaching of the Theology of the Body is that the body expresses the soul; it expresses the person.  It's a visual, tangible manifestation of who we are, and the body and soul can't be separated.  For me, that's both so simple and so impossible to grasp, and I love to think about it: who we are isn't just inside of us, it is us.

So on one level, Jesse McCartney is saying he wants a girl with a good, loving, beautiful heart, not just "another pretty face, not just anyone to hold" and all that good stuff.  On another, though, in light of the Pope's understanding, he's saying he wants a girl who's a beautiful person, good and loving and lovely in her entirety.  Her specifically, and her unrepeatably.  Cheesy, maybe, but oh so incredibly true.  Talk about a love song.

P.S.  Did you watch the video in the link above?  Tell me if you find it as hilarious as I do that the video people basically showed Jesse McCartney driving a car the whole time, probably to prove that he was older than, say, twelve.


Sunday, May 26, 2013

Guest Posting for Arleen Spenceley

In case you don't get enough of my embarrassing moments from this blog, you can read one of them, a lesson in emotional chastity, today on my friend and fellow blogger Arleen Spenceley's site.  She has plenty of amazing, wise things to say about love, dating, and chastity, so be sure to check out all the other good stuff while you're there!

A preview:

I blame the pig roast.

When I was 19, a friend invited me to his family's annual Labor Day party. I came with two friends and a baguette. I left with a huge crush.

Click here to read the rest!  Happy Sunday! 

Friday, May 24, 2013

7 Quick Takes, Volume 21

{story of a soul, condensed}

Visit Conversion Diary for more quick takes!

{1} Memorial Day Weekend quietly, oh-so-politely snuck up on me, and I was so glad to learn just on Wednesday that I'll have a three day weekend!  We have plans to go on a long hike, spend plenty of time reading in bed with the windows open, and will probably end up grilling with our friends at some point.  I'd love to know what you're up to!

{2} Depending on how patient I'm feeling, I also aim to include mastering this into the next few days.  My hair is layered, so it's fickle when it comes to French braids, never mind my serious lack of French-braiding skills in the first place, but I think it's finally long enough to give them another whirl.  Here's hoping!  P.S.  Isn't Julia the prettiest?

{3} I ask your continued prayers for Andrew, our baby, and I as we prepare for our move next month.  I've had a few job interviews that have gone well, and am now just trying to be patient with how they turn out.  I think because I was unemployed for almost a year after we got married, finding work is a huge fear of mine, but I'm trying so hard not to let it define me.  I get the sense that the Lord is drawing us out into the desert, as He already has so many times in this process (and He's also undeservedly, abundantly rewarded us so many times), and is asking me to humble myself and just give up every desire I have for control.

{4} I had a delicious bowl of corn chowder from Panera this week, and in the interest of not bankrupting us with daily lunches out, we found a recipe and made it at home.  So, so summery and so easy!

{5} Alright, mamas.  I need to find a maternity bathing suit.  My go-tos for swimsuits, Lands End and J. Crew, have failed me, maybe because a lot of pregnant women seem to just wear bikinis.  I'm a tankini girl through and through, pregnant or not, so help!  I'm considering this suit, but I'm curious if there any other resources you love.  I'd be willing to spend a little more to get a quality suit (I grew up on the swim team and know how destructo chlorine can be, even when you take care of your stuff), with the hope that it'll get me through multiple pregnancies, God willing, so recommend away!


{6} Speaking (well, sort of) of the reason I need a new suit, here's what 18 weeks looks like, hastily taken on the way to a birthday party!

{7}  Trista and Tess are getting married tomorrow!  I'm as giddy as if I were actually invited.  Join me in lifting up Trista and Bryan and Tess and Frank in prayer, and look for a guest post from me on Tess' blog next week!

Here's to welcoming Summer!  Have a good one!


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Lectio: Need To Reads

{recommended reading}


A few months ago, I asked you for book recommendations dealing with love, marriage, and femininity.      Though Andrew and I have been on a little too much of a Netflix Lost kick lately,  I'm looking forward to plenty of summer reading.  Here are the spiritual books topping my list; I'd love to know if you've read any of them and what you thought!

Love and Responsibility: Before there was the book I'm most obsessed with, there was this, then-Cardinal Karol Wojtyla's discussion of love, emotions, purity, and an entire vision of the human person.  I've gained so many amazing insights about dating and relationships from the man who'd become John Paul II from secondary sources, and I think it's about time I crack open the real deal.  I've heard a new translation is coming out soon, too!

Love Letters to My Husband: St. Gianna, a.k.a. Gianna Beretta Molla, possessed heroic virtue, giving her life for her unborn child, but what I love most about her is that she was also a wife and mother who I can't imagine leading a daily life too different from yours or mine (my friend Kristin wrote about how to build a spiritually-centered home, based on Gianna's words, here).  As a new mama and as a girl who fell in love through letters, herself, I can't wait to get my hands on this copy of the missives Gianna and her husband Pietro penned during their dating days and all through their marriage.  By the looks of things on Amazon, unfortunately, it looks like this book is out of print.  Any leads on how to find it?

Adam and Eve After the Pill: Not so much spiritual reading as a cultural study, I have a hunch Mary Eberstadt's close look at the bitter fruits of the sexual revolution will definitely feed my passion for the chastity message, my fascination with longing and hunger, and my desire to really learn about the attitudes and movements that've shaped the culture's view of things like birth control, commitment, pornography, and relationships, in a way that pulls back the curtain, gets rid of talking points and takes a genuine look at the issues at hand.  Sign me up.

How to Find Your Soulmate Without Losing Your Soul: Two years ago I started reading this book by Crystalina Evert when my friend Catherine stayed with me for the week, but she had to take it with her when she left!  I'd love to finish this frank, honest, and loving collection of wisdom for pursuing love that's authentic and pure, healing from the past, and not settling when it comes to the One.  Though I'm past the phase in my own life of looking for a husband (with someone as wonderful as mine, how could I not stop looking right on the spot?), I still feel like I gained so much insight into women's hearts in the few pages that I already got to read.

Chime in!  What have been your thoughts on these picks, if you've read them?   And what else should I put on my to-read-soon list?




Friday, May 17, 2013

Re-Post: The Eternal Question

If you get a chance, please pray to St. Raphael for an interview I have today (he's probably tired of me, so I figured I'd haul in some new intercessors...)!  Meantime, here's a post from my blog's younger days, about the question of to go or not to go strapless for your wedding dress.  It was the first time a post generated multiple comments and an insightful discussion--if you missed it the first time around, I'd love to continue the conversation here!

photo source

After he's popped the question and you've saved a date, I bet one of your biggest priorities is saying yes to the dress.  It's no small task, obviously.  As a Catholic bride, there are probably even more things you feel like you have to consider, modesty being one of the major ones. It was important to me to wear something modest and classy, but as I was dress shopping, there were a few subtleties and nagging questions that I still think about sometimes.  I figured I'd share them with you, and I'd love to hear what you think.

JPII said, "the dignity of every woman is the duty of every man."  Incredible, right?  I feel like so many issues surrounding modesty can be summed up by the idea that we're created in His image and likeness, and as such, possess tremendous dignity.  We women possess it in a special way- through beauty!  We long to be seen and be called beautiful, and men, in turn, long for that exact beauty.  It all fits together so perfectly.  Sadly, it's easy to see the ways beauty has been twisted, in both men's and women's eyes, by the culture, but it's something we can get back when we know and understand who we are before God.  So, both yours and your husband-to-be's dignity merit only one response: pure love, without any lust or selfishness.  As long as we're on earth we won't be perfect at it, but we can invite it in the best way we can.  The sacrament of marriage does this in such a real, amazing way.  Think about it: a bride veils herself, literally, not because her body's bad or because she has something to hide, but because it is so good, and she is so worthy, that she's not meant to be put on display.

All that said, how the heck does it translate to choosing a wedding dress?  There's lots to consider, and for me it came down to one issue in particular: strapless or strapped?  I pictured what I wanted right away: I wanted my dress to be clean and minimal, with no beads, lace, or trains.  It was finding something to match the image in my head that was the hard part.  Eventually, I fell in love with a gorgeous, and strapless, ballgown style with a pretty sash.  Right away I had a feeling it was the one, but right away I also panicked a little.  My biggest anxiety was that people wouldn't think I was a "real" Catholic if I was wearing something strapless.  Maybe that's weird, letting what I saw as everyone's expectations be the deciding factor, but that's seriously how I felt.  I did, after all, hope that our wedding Mass would be an opportunity to evangelize in a humble way- we offered confessions beforehand and had a litany of the saints as part of the music, but mostly I just hoped that without doing anything but be joyful at receiving the sacrament, we'd witness to the beauty of the faith and the contentment of having waited for one another.  A little later, I realized it was prideful of me to only choose a dress based on how I wanted people to see me, but I still really did want to wear something that would honor both Andrew and the Lord.

Then more anxieties crept in, of the more earthly variety.  Simply put, I wanted to feel pretty and not frumpy.  I was convinced that adding something to what I saw as the perfect dress would ruin the look of it, and that on a 105 degree day, layering anything on top would be impractical.  I wanted so badly to wear whatever I chose for the right reasons, not for selfish, superficial ones.  Ultimately, I did pick the dress I loved, and wore it without any straps or modifications.  I reasoned that I felt comfy in it and not overly exposed (you know how you usually know deep down if something is immodest based on how self-conscious it makes you feel?), I could get it tailored so I wouldn't be yanking on it all day, it wasn't skintight, and the neck was cut straight across, high enough to cover all of my breastage and most of my back.  I truly felt at peace with my choice, and not like I had to justify it to myself or others.  There's a big difference between those feelings, you know?  Sliding scales admittedly aren't the best gague of modesty, but I did feel like the neckline of my dress was higher than some other dresses I tried on, with straps or in halter styles, that were lower-cut.

I don't really know if there's a simple, black and white answer to the strapless question.  I mean, those super tight dresses with necks that dip low and make you look like a mermaid are kind of obviously out, but there really are ambiguous areas within good intentions.  I say if you don't feel comfortable going strapless, what with the possibility of constantly hiking it up, then by all means, skip it and you'll find your perfect gown in another style. On the other hand, within reason, it seems a little legalistic to me to make too many rules for yourself based on expectations.  Rules exist to cultivate true freedom, not suppress it--that includes freedom from anxiety and freedom from lust.  Wear what you know, in your heart, veils and radiates your beauty.  You'll be a blushing bride for a reason--reserving your body for your soon-to-be husband encourages the kind of virtuous shame that protects what's sacred.  The right kind of outfit magnifies your dignity, rather than diminishes it.

Ladies, toss in your two cents!  I hope I didn't come off as some total relativist in this post; my intention was just to offer my ideas about a balanced, virtuous approach to choosing a dress.  Tell me what you think!  What's your take on strapless?  And what criteria have you found helpful as you go shopping?

Comment away, please, and have a wonderful weekend!

 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Like A Lily: Erika

{what she wears}

I have totally found a friend and combination of style twin (we share a love of J. Crew and brights) and style idol (on days when I don't put much effort in) in Erika of Stethoscopes, Style & Grace.  She's become a frequent contributor to Captive the Heart (click here to read her love story, and here and here for gorgeous, easy DIYs), and I'm so happy to share her wedding-day picks with you today!  So in love with the mint and pink palette with vintage touches that Erika chose.


Here's Erika's take on these lovelies:

I had so much fun creating a wedding inspiration board for Stephanie! I got married last August, and some of the pictures I chose are reminiscent of my wedding day, like the colorful flowers and rosary in the bride's bouquet, while others are things that I would choose if I got to marry my husband all over again, like the J. Crew gown and pink shoes.

For the wedding dress, I chose a simple and classy J. Crew gown with sheer cap sleeves and a swiss dot patternI think that if this dress had been available last year when I was looking for a wedding gown it would have been top contender!  I completed the look with bright pink shoes and sparkly vintage earrings. We decided on classic black tuxes for our wedding, but I like the look and uniqueness of the groom and groomsmen in gray suits. Sleeves or straps were important to me on my gown as well as the bridesmaids' dresses, and I think the mint chiffon bridesmaid dress is so pretty and definitely something that they could wear again. The colorful flowers add a nice punch and the rosary in the bride's bouquet is such a sweet tribute to Mary.
Erika's Style:
Describe your personal style in 5 words.  Preppy, pink, classy, pretty, chic

What's the secret to punching up an outfit on the days when you're tired of everything in your closet? Add a fun scarf! They're an inexpensive way to dress up any outfit and with all of the unique options (try Etsy!), they're also a great way to express your personal style.

Wardobe essentials: blazers, a great pair of brown boots, nude heels, a few button downs (white, chambray, gingham), colorful pencil skirts, and a perfectly-fitting pair of jeans. 

Most recent purchases: a couple things in Chicago from a recent trip with my husband: a drapey pink t-shirt on sale at Anthropologie and a bright red floral scarf from Zara.

Favorite nail color: Ladylike by Essie, a sweet mauve/lavender color (I rarely paint my nails and my sister gets the credit for discovering this color).

Favorite Shoes:  the Vera Wang navy blue jeweled ballet flats that I wore for my wedding. They were my dream wedding shoes and I found them pre-owned on Ebay.

Signature Fragrance:  Chanel Mademoiselle, a gift from my husband.
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 remember the times that my husband has told me that I'm beautiful, and spend a little extra time on my make-up and picking out an outfit that I feel good in.

Item you can't live without: The pearl earrings that my husband gave me as a wedding gift...I've only taken them off a few times since our wedding day.


How can a bride reflect her everyday style in her wedding day style? Be true to yourself and your style, and make sure you're comfortable! I knew from the beginning that I wanted a lace dress with cap sleeves and buttons down the back. It took me almost a year to find it, but I'm  happy that I didn't compromise and I loved every second that I wore it on my wedding day.

Fashion, evangelization, and the Feminine Genius: your thoughts? We can be such a great Christian example in the way that we dress. By wearing things that are classy, pretty, and make us feel great, we can truly reflect Christ and the unique beauty that He gave each and every one of us as women. 

As a fellow pearl earring lover, I couldn't agree more with any of Erika's advice!  Show her some love in the comments, and be sure to visit her blog!

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

Monday, May 13, 2013

Guest Post From Trista: Sex Is Replacable, Love Is Not

Ever since I first wrote about wedding night anxieties a few months ago, I've been so humbled by your responses.  I talked about coming to marriage as virgins, my friend Rebecca wrote on starting over when you aren't virgins, and today, Trista from Not A Minx, A Moron, Or A Parasite has a different take: what if one of you has a sexual past and the other doesn't?  Trista's marrying Bryan, the love of her life, later this month and I love her take on healing and truest joy.  Read on for her wisdom!

Although delighted and grateful to be called to marriage and to have met the man I'm made to enter the Sacrament with, I fell into a spiritual, emotional, and physical funk as our time of discernment and engagement began.  

My husband-to-be had not waited for me.

I had known the whole time we dated that he was not a virgin but as he was revealed to be my husband, this sexual past wounded me and stirred up a number of insecurities.

Would he compare me to others, even subconsciously?  And would I be up to par?
 
Would I be a disappointment in bed because I don't have any experience?
 
Why was I suddenly embarrassed about my virginity?  Feeling like the only one who hadn't studied for a test?

Would I feel free enough to explore holy sex without wondering, “Was it like this for him when he was with so-and-so?”

For months, this subject weighed heavily on me.  I sought advice from married bloggers, talked and cried about it with my fiance (over and over again), and begged the Lord for help.

Trista's conclusions about waiting, forgiving, and honesty, with a little help from Fulton Sheen (we're mutually obsessed!):

“All love craves unity.  This is evident in marriage, where there is the unity of two in one flesh.” -Venerable Fulton Sheen
 
Rejoice!
I had to reexamine my struggle.  In the midst of the surprising heartache, there is still a lot to celebrate.  Your fiance showed amazing courage and docility to the Holy Spirit by embracing chastity.  He is committed to caring for you and letting true love grow.  What a holy man!  Your commitment to chastity, together, is beautiful and a blessing to your future marriage.  Rejoice!  Don't let the Devil rob you of the joy that is rightfully yours by keeping you focused on the past.  Pray to the Lord for help to keep rooted in the present.

Let's get more than physical.
If you remain focused solely on the physical aspects of sex, then yes, it does seem like there will be nothing new for your fiance to experience except a new body to have sex with.  That's the carnal definition of sex, though, and not the one the Lord or your fiance has in mind.  As Venerable Fulton Sheen writes, "Sex love substitutes one occasion of pleasure for the other, but love knows no substitution" (Three to Get Married 75).  Sex withing marriage is not just physical – it involves the soul, the mind, the heart, and the will, as much as the reproductive organs (Three to Get Married 125).

You are entering into something much deeper than the bonds developed through sex outside of marriage.  You are entering into the marital act, the symbol of the union of your souls, which in turn is a symbol of the union of Christ and His Church (Three to Get Married 76).  This will be a new, grace-filled experience for both you and your fiance!
 
Instead of focusing on your lack of tips and tricks from Cosmo, focus on being yourself, remaining honest and open, and loving your fiance.  Sex is about communion of persons, not a test where you pass or fail based on what you can do.

Wonderfully made.
“I praise you, because I am wonderfully made; wonderful are your works!  My very self you know.  My bones are not hidden from you, When I was being made in secret, fashioned in the depths of the earth.”
-Psalm 139:14-16

Just as it takes an act of will for your fiance to remove past memories, it will take an act of will and prayer for you to move on and stop wondering about past lovers.  You are wonderfully made!  Both the Lord and your fiance believe this, and it's true!  Stop comparing yourself to other women.  Stop imagining that everyone knows what to do and how to do it perfectly on the first try.  You are wonderfully made!  Beautiful.  Funny and smart, and your fiance is ready to commit himself to you for the rest of his life!  He's crazy about you!  Our culture doesn't have the first clue about sex, so in your insecurity, don't panic and look to Cosmo, movies, and Nora Roberts for advice; that will only make you feel worse.

Whenever you feel yourself getting anxious or beginning to compare yourself to others, stop, pray, and remind yourself that you are wonderfully made.  Spend time before the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, praying and pondering Psalm 139.  Let Him make you confident of who you are.  Journal your thoughts and anxieties; talk with a trusted priest; and ask you fiance to affirm how beautiful he thinks you are.  
 
Also, ask your fiance to actively use your Love Language (I'm sure he does, but doubling up never hurt!), because when you're feeling safe and connected, it's easier to resist the anxiety.  Keep exercising, primping, and getting full nights of sleep.  When I'm feeling well-rested and physically strong, I've noticed I have the strength to kick my worries to the curb.

Confess.
My fiance and I seemed to struggle with this topic at least once a month.  For days, I would live in a haze where this was all I worried about morning, noon, and night.  I couldn't seem to climb the wall of fear and leave it permanently behind.  I knew this wasn't God's plan for me--“Do not let your hearts be troubled”--and I needed divine help.  If I couldn't move on, I trusted that the Lord, in me, could. 

Through confession, the Lord gave me the graces to see things rightly, to bury my obsessive thoughts about past lovers, and to grow in trust of my fiance.  

Anticipate God's grace.
On July 12, 1939, Pope Pius XII told a group of newlyweds, “...the Catholic family is based upon a sacrament.  This means we are concerned not with a simple contract...but with a true and proper religious act of supernatural life, from which flows an almost undeniable right to obtain all graces, all divine assistance necessary and appropriate to sanctify married life, to perform the obligations of the conjugal state, to overcome its difficulties, to carry out its purposes and to achieve its highest ideals.” 

If you find yourself still worrying, anticipate God's grace.  You're not married yet; you haven't entered into the Sacrament.  When you do, you will be given all the graces needed for your sanctification and for your marriage, including sex.  Trust Him!  He is with you in all things!   

Finally.
Be kind to yourself and your fiance.  Loving, like all things, takes time and trial and error. 



There is for the Christian no such thing in marriage as choosing between body and soul or sex and love.  He must choose both together.  Marriage is a vocation to put God in every detail of love.  In this way, the dream of the bride and groom for eternal happiness really comes true, not in themselves alone, but through themselves.  Now they love each other not as they dreamed they would, but as God dreamed they would.  Such a reconciliation of that tension is possible only to those
who know that it takes three to make love.

(Three to Get Married 31-32)

Hopefully all the dialogue that's been going on has been as eye-opening for you as it has for me!  Trista and I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments or in an email, so don't be afraid to speak up.  You can reach Trista at notaminx@gmail.com and me at stephanie.captivetheheart@gmail.com.  Meantime, I stumbled across this article on this very subject and thought it had some valuable wisdom, as well.  Let us know what you think!


 

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