What I THOUGHT was Common Sense About Marriage + GIVEAWAY

This past Valentine’s Day, David and I decided to do a little something out of the norm and attend a young couple’s newlywed evening. The night began with Mass, followed by dinner, a few talks, and dancing.

And let me just preface this by saying the day of the event, David and I did NOT want to go. We had just been in an argument that morning and the last people we wanted to hang out with was each other. Not exactly how you want to spend your Valentine’s Day amiright?! But we put on our “happy” face and our fancy clothes and headed out despite our not-so-pretty attitudes.

Well when we were asked to do the readings for mass all I kept thinking was I’m probably not in a good place to do these readings but, not wanting to explain myself, we said yes anyways. I got up to do the first reading… Gen. 2  18-24… the creation of woman.  A great reading. Next, David was up. And of course he had the reading from our wedding… oh you know the one… 1 Corinthians 12. Well I don’t know about anyone else in that chapel, but that second reading was speaking RIGHT to David and my grumpy selves.

Common Sense

“(Love) is not rude, it does not seek its own intereests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.”

Okay, thanks, God, we get it. So suttle. Not.

After Mass, David and I talked it out before heading to the dinner and we were feeling much better, especially after getting some food and wine in our bellys. But then came the talks. They were given by a married couple who are both counselors in the Michigan area and were focusing on things that can break your marraige and things that can build your marriage. And I’m not going to lie. I was sitting, listening to this couple talk, and at first  all I could think was, well duh, I’ve heard that before.

Everything at first seemed like things I already knew. Like the importance of Christ in the center of your marriage, praying together often, treating your spouse like you treat friends or co-workers, finding out how they feel loved (not how you feel loved) and making them feel loved, not being resentful of past hurts, not holding grudges or piling on guilt or making someone feel bad for something… All of these, and more, were given to us (in a more pretty and articulate way than I just gave) as ways to better your marriage. But the more I realized I’d heard these before, the more I realized David and I weren’t necessarily good at doing them.

We’ve heard these suggestions all our engaged and dating life, and so it was second nature for me to think that, we’ve heard them, we know them, so that’s it. But I’ll admit. I know I’m guilty of doing something nice for David and hoping for reciprication. Or one of us blaming the other for something that is just silly and not necessary. Or one of us just fighting for the “upper hand” in an argument. Over and over I’ve heard these things we should do for our spouses, but I can’t say that David or I’ve been the best at practicing  these daily.

After the reading we’d heard that day (one I’ve heard plenty of times before) and the “common sense” talks we’d heard, I knew David and I needed to make some changes. On the way home that night we talked some more and apologized again for our lame-o fight.

I’m learning this whole marriage thing isn’t the easiest thing I’ll do in my life. But it has the potential to be the most rewarding.

As I continue to learn more about being a better wife, I’m going to be starting another round of 31 Days of Prayer for Your Husband on March 1st! I would love for you join me. Don’t worry if you aren’t married or engaged, this is a great prayer for your future spouse, yourself, the men in your life, or really just about anybody in your life.

Click the link below to sign up and receive daily prayer intentions for your husband as well as corresponding Bible verses. After signing up, you’ll receive an email asking you to confirm your Sign Up.

Sign up Now

By signing up, you’ll ALSO be entered into a GIVEAWAY to receive a rosary from Keogler Studios, a prayer journal and some other fun finds! Bonus entries for following me on Instagram and  Twitter AND /OR share this on Twitter :) If you’re already following me, you’ll still get the bonus entry… Happy praying and good luck to all!

Annie

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Learning Joyful Hope: Reflections from the March for Life

Ever since I was in high school, I made it a very clear decision that I was going to attend the March for Life. Although I’ll admit… at the time, it may have been for the wrong reasons. At the time I was in a youth group. A really good one at that. There were solid kids who loved God and really brought me closer to my faith (and continue to today).  But the first few times I attended the March, it was purley for social reasons. Yes, I joined in on the “we love baby” chants and wore the appropriate neon scarves so we could find our group easily, but apparently being there wasn’t enough to convince me about why we did this.

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It wasn’t until I was in college after I had had a bit of a re-version (like a conversion but more like a re-awakening) that I saw why we did this. I really felt it in my bones that abortion was inherently wrong and I truly became passionate about it from that point. But there was a part of me that always left the March feeling a little discouraged. Like… that was it? We march and yell for a few hours with signs and then get back on the bus and go home? What have we even accomplished? Who listened to us? Cause it sure feels like no one. The media won’t report on the 400,000+ people who attended and if they do report on it, it’s with a lot of bias or reported as “hundreds of youth”. Hundreds?!? Really? Try hundreds of thousands.

So you can see why this would be discouraging to a young college student who just wanted to make even a little difference. But it wasn’t until this year that things became a bit clearer. I was blessed to be given the chance to attend the March for Life for work. As I was taking photos, it really gave me a new view of the March I had never seen before. I was partaking in the March, but more so I was watching everyone else partake in the March. It was a very different way to expereince this day, through the eyes of others.

I began to aprreciate what we were here to do. But then… came the discouraging thoughts. We hadn’t even left the March this time and they were coming. It wasn’t until we were mid-March (nearing the “big hill”) when I was walking next to a priest quietly saying the rosary with a teenager. As people realized they were praying, a man stepped in to join them. Then a small young family. Then three random teenagers. Then a two nuns. Pretty soon this “little” rosary had turned into at least 15 people saying the rosary while we walked downtown. And then it hit me.

         For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them. Mt. 18:20

Here we are in a sea of people. All here for one reason: to stand up for the human person. Some are religious people, some are not. But I would say a VERY large majority there were gathered in God’s name. So if that’s the case, if all these people, praying or not, are gathered here in Christ’s name, who am  to say this can’t work? Who am to doubt the power of God? He tells us where two or three are gathered… well here we had 400,000+ so I KNOW God was very much in our midst.

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It came down to me trusting. I haven’t always been good at trusting God that he’ll make things work out, but my doubts have always been cast aside as once again I am shown that He is in charge. So as I witnessed this “rosary mob” take form it not only gave me this complete trust that God, in His time, will answer our prayers, but I was given a joyful hope. Joyful because that’s just what God does when He teaches you something, He lets you feel complete joy because He’s just that good to us. And hope because I believe good things will come from this. It may be small at first, and I may never live to see it’s full outcome, but I believe and trust that there is an end in sight to this March. There will always be a need to fight for life and until the day we have done what we came to do, we will joyfully come to D.C. and we will march with hope.

Joyful hope, how original, Annie amiright?! Although it may not be a huge epiphany on how to change or revive this movement, it was my own little piece of an “Ah-ha!” moment. And yes, next year those discouraging thoughts might just come back. But if they do I’ll be ready because I have a hope in something and Someone far bigger than any “discouraging” thought.

Being Conscious in the New Year

Today is a typical January 5th. It’s a few days after the New Year and I’m still wonderin’ what the heck am I going to work on for the new year!? But as much I love being a goal setter or no matter how much of a list maker I am, I’ve always hated the pressure I would put on myself to do this resolution or that resolution.

Cause let’s be honest. I’d get fed up too quickly and by February first, I had already burned out. Where is the growth in that? That’s why I don’t make New Year resolutions. I make Life Resolutions. At least for me, it’s too hard to be specific on what needs to happen for this new year to be good.

Last year I tried to keep it simple. Read more. Run more. That’s it! And ya know what? The more I made the conscious decision to pull out a book before bed rather than flip on the TV the more it became a habit. I tried to not let two or three days go by before I ran. And not just run. Run outside. Now that was the truly hard part. But again. It became a habit!

Which is why this year I decided to pick up a new habit. And if you thought I couldn’t get it any simpler than last year then you would be wrong, my friend. This year I plan to make more conscious decisions. Vague? Let me explain.

I get comfortable easily. I don’t like change, really. So much so that it can get me too comfortable. I don’t think too hard into the little decisions I make throughout the day. And I really mean the little ones. What I listen to. What I watch or read. What I eat. Who I talk to. When I pray. How I work.  I don’t want to go through life blindly and not realize until it’s too late how these “little” decisions have affected me.  Now I know it’s not a good habit to become too scrupulous, but I want to be able to think just a little more about what I put into my body (and my soul). Whether it be the music, the food, the entertainment… It’s time to become more thoughtful in all aspects of my life.

So although it’s not a huge change in my life, I know it could be the best habit I adopt into my life. Who knows, maybe I’ll learn to like change a little more! Yeah, not likley but worth a shot, I guess! On that note, glad to be with you this year once again.

Happy [belated] New Year!

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My 2014 In Review

This was quite a year. It was filled with a lot of firsts. We had vacations, guests come and visit, concerts, parties, and more. I’d say 2014 was one for the books. I’m grateful for being able to blog through most of it and sharing it with you. But I must say I’m looking forward to making 2015 even better! Here is a glance at the incredible year David and I have had! FotorCreated13 January: The year started with plenty of snow storms. At the time, we were at our old apartment and I believe there were  several days that we ended up snowed in. Although I’m not complaining because there is something very cozy (and a bit apocolyptic) about being snowed in! Other January adventures? David crashed his car :/ On that snow that I just stated that we “love”… FotorCreated February: Friends came and visited and we started to really feel at home in our new-ish home. It was a great feeling. We also picked up a new hobby of finding open houses on weekends and going to pretend we were in the market for a new home. There is never a dull moment with David. Plus our first Valentines Day together! David surprised me with dinner, chocolate, flowers, balloons, I’m talkin’ the works! Now the pressure is on for next year ;)FotorCreated2 March: In March my whole family went to see Flogging Molly, courtesy of my sister and brother-in-law for Christmas! We are Irish through and through so you can imagine we got very into this concert. Looking back at these pictures is making me miss my long hair!FotorCreated3 April: This year I had a big reunion with my household from college. #Stella. It was pure bliss seeing all my best friends and girls I haven’t seen since graduation. I wish I could have a reunion every year. We also spent Easter at the hospital this year to be with my aunt who had been diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer. As of now?!? She’s cancer free! God is good. FotorCreated4 May: My sister, mom and I ran in our first (official) 5k. And let me just say… it felt good. It was an Ovarian Cancer run for my aunt and I have to say it was much more emotional than I thought it’d be. Even injuring my foot was well worth it. I also got to start up on my very first garden this year on our little balcony. It was simple and small but it did the job. We had fresh basil for pesto and tomatos for sauces in no time. I may or may not have killed off some peppers by accident…FotorCreated5 June: What happens in June?!? We celebrate my birthday of course! And I was really gettin’ into this whole getting healthy thing. Weights became my game. Let’s just say it was a love/hate relationship.FotorCreated6 July:  This was definitly one of our busier months of the year! To celebrate David’s birthday and the 4th of July, we went up to Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes in Northern Michigan. Apparently climbing the dunes was a much bigger feat than we had expected. But we did it and were proud of it… Although that may be the only time we climb them… We ALSO made another annual trip up to Mackinac Island with the fam! This year was a weirder year for us and had a hint of the drama but it was still well worth the vacation time.FotorCreated7 August: My mom taught me how to make jam! Good ole’ fashion strawberry jam. AND I went to camp for the first time in my life! Well… I went as a counselor but who can complain when your horseback riding, swimming and crafting for a whole week in beautiful northern Michigan? Not this girl.FotorCreated8 September: Fall is here. And ya know what that means?!? Cider Mills. We went to a fair amount and sampled plenty of doughnuts and cider. Oh… and we made a big decision. To move or not to move when the lease is up. Well you probably already know. We started looking for a new place to call Home Pt. 2!FotorCreated9 October: This is almost always one of my favorite months. But for different reasons then when I was a kid. This year we celebrated our One Year Anniversary! Plus we made the BIG (and hectic) MOVE! We left our first home as a couple and headed into our current town home. I’d rather wait a while before we move again. Not exactly a fun experience. Oh, and I got promoted at work! And of course we did some Halloween-y type things…FotorCreated10 November: Another busy month for us! We visited friends, ran in the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving, just started to get settled into our new home, AND I got my wisdom teeth out. This month I was thankful for General Anesthetics. FotorCreated11 December: This December was a little crazy, a little hectic, but a lot enjoyable. I even finished my 25th book of the year! Getting closer to my 50 books in a year goal! Also this month David and I went to see Wicked at the Detroit Opera House, we visited an NFL exhibit and got to see a REAL Lombardi trophy (see our reflection below, we just don’t take normal pictures), went to see a Houston Texans game in Indianaplois (the Texans lost though, still a sore subject with David;) and we spent some quality time together.  It has been the perfect way to end 2014.   FotorCreated12   There is a lot I will miss about 2014. But I really don’t like living in the past which is why I’m hoping 2015 will be it’s own kind of wonderful. I made goals this year and I crushed goals this year. I made meories and I captured memories. 2015 has a lot to live up to, although it’s at an unfair advantage because 2014 was a lot of David and my firsts. BUT all the more reason to make 2015 just as good, if not better than the last. Here we go! Happy New Year, friends! See you next year!

A “Silent” Sort of Christmas

Rasie your hand if you are shocked and scandaled that Christmas has come and gone so quickly.

Yes, I for one am. I’ll be perfectly honest. It was more of a stressful Christmas-prep compared to last years “breezing on by”. I planned too late, I shopped too late, I baked too late… Basically I was running late on a lot of things this year. But it seems whenever I’m feeling “rundown and listless” (2 points for you if you can name that TV show), God finds a way to make me feel like He’s got my back through it all.

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I was at the end of my patience come December 20. I had been praying and praying all Advent to feel prepared and joyously awaiting the coming of Christ, but I was anything but joyous. I was moody and irritated. Everything that could possibly irritate me, seemed was coming my way, full speed with no end in sight. The idea of feeling “Christmas-y” was a sad joke. I was a Scrooge and there awas no getting around it. My Christmas decorations seemed to be staring at me…mocking me for not being as excited as everyone else out there.

Then one day. A prayer of mine was answered. It was a little one. But nonetheless it was important to me. After that I started relaxing a bit more. The more I relaxed the more I realized how silly I had been. I was equating Christmas with getting all these things done, and experiencing the feeling of Christmas. Well anyone looking from the outside in could have told me that’s a sure way to fail.

I finally put into motion the idea of “let go and let God”. I started looking more at the Holy Family and their journey, and ya know what I realized?! St. Joseph is a silent man. I mean literally silent in the gospels. In the entirety of the Bible, we never “hear” him speak. He’s reflective of everything going on around him and I couldn’t help but wonder why the heck we can’t be like that?! He has Advent down like no one I’ve ever seen.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI was spot on when he said silence “is so lacking in this world which is often too noisy, which is not favorable to recollection and listening to the voice of God…In this time of preparation for Christmas, let us cultivate interior recollection so as to receive and keep Jesus in our lives.

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So no, I didn’t get all of my Christmas baking done and my house was a mess up until two days after Christmas. But at that point I didn’t really care. I got done what I needed to get done, physically and spiritually.

And while my life is hardly ever quiet when it comes to noise, I was finally able to experience some spiritual silence. And because of that, I was able to enjoy my Christmas much more. And ya know what? The Scrooge in me seemed to disipate more and more. I finally got that Christmas-y feeling, but this year it meant a lot more.

Happy Camper

Do you remember when you were a pre-teen? Raging hormones? Questionable things happening to your body? Your voice plummeting mid conversation? Ahhh yes. The glory days of awkward meets confusing.

Well one thing I forgot about those days is how much energy comes along with it. You see, I just spent all of last week with about 80+ girls ranging in age from 8-16. And it wasn’t until I was leaving camp did I realize how absolutely and positively exhausted I was from running around after all these girls all week.

Don’t get me wrong. I had a blast. In fact, I had a blast and a half. But this coming weekend, I will be catching up on missed Z’s and enjoying every blissful moment of it.

The entire week I was thrown into running all sorts of programs. And I really forgot how much I love working with the youth. Because it was a Catholic camp, I got to talk with the girls on a different level about their faith (or lack of for some girls). I’ll admit, sometimes when I am talking with my own peers about my faith or theology in general, I tend to freeze up. In my mind I’m thinking, “What could I possible have to say that this person doesn’t already know? How could I even be of any help?” But with the younger girls, some of them don’t even know the basics of our faith.

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Plus, little kids tend to not have a filter which I (almost always) love. They say whatever they are thinking, which isn’t always a good thing but when learning about their faith, it’s perfect! They were asking about the saints, the Eucharist, adoration, praying by your self, Bible stories, even the devil who some didn’t even know was real. I even got to lead several groups in learning how to start a prayer journal.

Some of my favorite parts about camp you ask?

Horse Back riding: I have never been an avid rider, going on the occasional trot when visiting Mackinac Island. But this week, I got to not only trot and canter, but gallop on a horse. Picture John Wayne in The Searchers … that was me. Flying through the wind, not a care in the world. Okay not as cliche as that but it was pretty exhilerating. And a bit scary too. But I’m kind of an adrenaline junkie, always jumping off bridges or cliffs into large bodies of water. But this was new for me. And I’m a fan!

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Prayer Journaling: When I was leading the Prayer Journaling Sessions, I talked to the girls about keeping a prayer journal for your prayer life. I spoke about how it can be your personal relationship with God and a place for you to pretty much put whatever you want. I showed them my ratty old journal and all the little girls kept flipping through finding saint quotes they liked or doodles I had scribbled down. But the best part was answering their questions. They all wanted to find different stories in the bible or hear about different saints. I told them all about Maximillian Kolbe, Joan of Arc, Bernadette… but they really seemed to like the story about St. Lawrence and his cheeky remark on his deathbed “flip me over, I’m done on this side.” They LOVED those stories. And I loved telling them. Little kids are so innocent about their questions. One of the many lessons I learned at camp.

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Cabin Time: Everday before lunch, we’d have “Cabin Time” where everyone would come back to the cabin and hang out after our morning programs. I loved this time because it’s when I really got to know my girls.They all had very different backgrounds, some had no father, some had 10 siblings, some were homeschooled, and some were nervous about starting new schools. Everyone had something to say, even the quieter girls. We would just hang out in the cabin, listen to some music and craft. Because girls, no matter the age I’m learning, love to decorate and make things beautiful. Even if it’s only the cabin they are staying in for a week.

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^^That picture on the right… Water bottle malfunction. Not bladder Malfunction. Promise.

Baked Alaska: Being my first time at this camp, I quickly learned about all the traditions that have gone on at camp for years. One of the many being Baked Alaska. On the last night for the girls, everyone would come back to the Mess Hall later in the evening for a homemade dessert of Baked Alaska. Now I’d only heard of Baked Alaska in old movies (Desk Set anyone?!) and have always wanted to try it since. So I was only too willing to give it a try. What is it you ask? Picture a layer of cake, with a bunch of ice cream on top, another layer of cake, all covered in meringue that has been torched a little. Soooo an ice cream cake meets a meringue pie. Very delicious. A little weird but good once your taste buds get a hold of what you’re doing with the meringue… Oh and meringue is not easy to clean off I’ve learned… How did I learn? Apparently the Baked Alaska tradition was not complete with out smearing meringue all over a few people’s faces. Yes, I was one of the victims.

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Gaylord, MI: If you don’t know about my love for my state by now, then you should just leave. Just kidding. Do not leave. But in all honesty, I love up North Michigan. In Michigan, when people go on vacation, they stay in state. Apparently, to some of the non local counselors this was unheard of where they come from? But there is some serious beauty all over the state. And this week I got to experience Gaylord. I’ll be honest. There isn’t much happening there. They just built a Walmart a few years ago and their biggest attraction tends to be Norman’s, a massive wearhouse for camping and hunting enthusiasts to drop in as they continue their treck up north. But it has a charm all it’s own. Once we were set away at camp, you still get the up north feeling with the lakes and the trees but you’re still not that removed from life. And the stars at night?! Who needs a flashlight when you got those babies!

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Color Run: I’ve always wanted to participate in a color run. And I finally got to. Although I was geting over a cold at the time, I was NOT going to miss out on this. So I volunteered to be the caboose of the run. Just to make sure no girls got lost and everyone was accounted for. The best part of being the caboose? When I finally got around to all the color stations, because I was the last one, they just dumped all the left over color-stuff all over me. By the time I finished, everyone was wondering how I had gotten so much color on me. Thank you, I’d love to be the caboose again next year!

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Last Night: Every night, before we go to bed, everyone gathers in the chapel for Night Prayers. But on the last night we were to do Night Prayers in our cabin with our girls. So Katie (the other counselor in my cabin) and I brought the girls back and quieted everyone down. There is always a scripture reading with a testimony or talk slipped into night prayer but Katie and I had no idea what to talk to them about. They had heard bits of mine and Katie’s testimony’s throughout the week, and to be honest they weren’t exciting enough to be some epic story. Neither of us had any serious life changing things happen to us. There was nothing out of the ordinary except for maybe a reversion in college. So being that it was the last night, I pulled from the Transfiguration. I told them how although many of them may want to stay here and not leave (just as Peter had wanted to pitch tents and stay on the mountain), Jesus wanted us to go home, or down the mountain, and tell everyone what we’d learned and how we’d expereinced Jesus. He wanted us to spread His love to others who may not be aware of it. There was more to it, cause let’s be honest, when I start talking, it’s hard to get me to stop ;) Thank God the Holy Spirit was all up in that cabin otherwise I’d be at a loss for words. He’s good like that. — I then had to get the girls to bed after they’d had a fare share of Baked Alaska and bags upon bags of candy… God bless all you mothers out there. You must have some serious patience.

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All in all it was a successful week at camp. I’d never been to an actual camp before so I’d like to think that my first time, even if I was 24 years old, was a as good as it gets.