Saturday, December 29, 2012

We've been Published!

We've been published! I was so excited when approached by CCLI to have our witness talk published in their Family Foundations magazine. I was even more excited that our talk was chosen for the wedding and marriage issue, which is highly distributed. I'm praying that God uses our words to help others in their journey to using NFP or strengthening their current practice of NFP. Both are so important. 

What is kind of fun about this is that it is entirely in our words ... except for the title, "NFP helps us see the bigger picture." I didn't provide a title when I submitted our talk, but I think it's perfect. I'm thrilled that after reading our talk the editor came to the conclusion that NFP has helped us see there is a bigger picture for us than the one we paint, God's picture.

A few weeks ago my husband and I were blessed enough to be asked to speak about Theology of the Body to a group of confirmation students. For most of them, it was the first time they had ever heard about Theology of the Body so I wanted to make sure we hit the really important parts. By the end we were giving them examples from our own lives and I concluded with, "What's really cool about all this is how quickly your will aligns with God's will when you are truly open to it." It's just so true! For years I was fighting God's will. Truly blocking it from my life and in effect from my marriage by clinging to the false promises contraception makes for a couple's future. I was so sure that I knew what was best for my marriage and my life that I told God each day I swallowed that pill that I didn't need to place my trust in him or that the freewill He gave me wasn't strong enough to follow His perfect plan.

I can't tell you the celebratory feeling I have inside of me when I think about how we are open to God's plan for us each day now compared to how closed we were in the past. I'm not saying we're perfect or that we have any real idea of God's plan for us, but I feel like we are much closer. Plus, it's been a year since we kicked the contraception habit for NFP and it has so radically changed our lives for the better  that I can't help but see God's hand everywhere! It's strengthened our marriage, our faith in one another to want the best for our marriage, our trust in God and his future plan for us, and it has opened so many doors so that we might evangelize to others about God's beautiful design of our bodies but also of his unfathomable love for each and ever living cell! It gives me goosebumps!

NFP isn't always easy and sometimes it brings about the unexpected (like how differently I view my world!), but it is so entirely worth it. Truly, as the article is titled, it has helped us get a better glimpse of the bigger picture and it's a beautiful picture.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Pretty Bones: A Year in Review

A year ago today my husband and I moved into our first home. We made a total of about 10 trips and made the whole move by ourselves since we were 16 hours away from family and most of our friends had gone home for the holidays. It was hard work, but it was just the start as we got busy renovating the pretty bones of our home.

I thought I'd do a "year in review" partially so I would have a reason to go through old pictures and partially to just recap on what we've done and what we still need to do. I'm pretty proud of what we accomplished; what do you think?

Coffee table made the 16-hour trip from Illinois to Florida, was sanded, stained, resanded and restained (due to a streaky first attempt). It was a good first project and looks great in our living room!

Operation HOTEL GUEST was our next project since we had family coming to visit. We wanted a beachy theme since we live in florida. 
Operation EVEN STEP was an important renovation, but also a rather sad one because our puppy has dug the whole thing up :( But it looked good for a little while and she won't be a puppy forever, right??

Operation MAGICAL OASIS aptly named after the color of teal we put on the walls. My husband engineered a platform for me so I wouldn't have to lean over to load and unload the wash. It's been one of my favorite renos!

Operation SPLINTER SPINDLES was the result of one of my irrational urges to remove the 1985 spindles immediately. I'm so happy I was overcome with that need because I LOVE the outcome. This was the first reno that finally made our home feel like our home :)
Operation SPLINTER SPINDLES II was a direct result of the SPLINTER SPINDLES since we had to patch both sides of the wall where the spindles had once been. Then we painted our cabinets, added new hardware, painted the walls, and my dad and husband added a backsplash and under-cabinet lighting. The result is so homey. Someday I hope to tear it all out haha, but not for a few years.

Operation FALLOUT was exactly like SPLINTER SPINDLES II in that it was necessary since we had taken out the spindles and updated the kitchen. Thanks to my generous co-worker I was able to repurpose a table that has been frequently habited ever since it made it's grand entrance. We never thought we'd use it so much, but we really have.

So there you have it! That's what we did this year and we've already started on yet another project, but that's a post all of its own. We still have lots to do, but I think we've gotten a good start on it! 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Merry and Bright

This is the first year we get to decorate our home for Christmas. When we first saw the house we immediately thought it would be a lot of fun to decorate for Christmas and it was! I think it will be even more fun over the years as we add to the collection. 

Angels and crystals hung from the lights.

First fireplace! I love that I can hang stockings by the fireplace!

Puppy :)

Chandelier with snowflakes.

Little tree that use to be my only tree in college.

Nativity set.

Real Christmas tree. We love our tall ceilings so we can get a large tree.

Stockings hung by the fire.
Check out some other Christmas decorations at the linked up blog site at NFPandMe. Happy Advent and Merry Christmas!

Monday, November 26, 2012

What I Wore Sunday: Volume 2

Happy Feast of Christ the King (a day late)!

I'm a bit late on this linked up post about What I Wore Sunday through Fine Linen and Purple, but I wanted to do it anyway. The dress is a favorite of mine from The Limited. Coat is from Banana Republic, a gift from my mom :) It was obviously very sunny that morning and cold for Florida!

What struck me this last Sunday was two things. First, during the Liturgy of the Eucharist, it got eerily quiet during the consecration of the body and blood of Christ. No babies were crying, no coughing, no cell phones ringing, no noise. It gave me goosebumps! It was like Christ saying, "This is important; watch closely." And it is! It is so important! 

The second thing I noticed in mass was that since the Catholic Church's liturgical year ended yesterday with the Feast of Christ the King, we begin a new year about a month prior to the Roman calendar. As such we begin with the preparation for Christ's birth. How cool is it that we get to end our regular year by looking at beginnings? It's something I hope to reflect on more during this upcoming advent time. How about you? What do you think you are called on to reflect about this year during Advent?

Just one more picture from our walk around our beautiful home with the puppy.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

What I Wore Sunday

So this is my first time trying a "linked up" blog post. I love Fine Linen and Purple's "What I Wore Sunday". Basically you post a picture of what you wore to church on Sunday. Terribly complicated, right? Hope I don't screw it up :)

The dress is from my newish favorite store, Francesca's. It was a gift from the hubby for my birthday :) It's a new tradition that instead of opening a gift, I get to go shopping with him and purchase something for my birthday. Half the fun of getting a new dress is shopping for it.

I then subsequently wore it out for dinner and a movie (Twilight <3) with the hubs, sista, and her husband. Sidenote: this was the first birthday in a while that I got to share with family outside of my husband! What a blessing!

So that's what I wore Sunday. Check out the other posts, too, if you get a chance.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Pumped about Obama's Victory

I’m kind of pumped about President Obama’s victory. Wait! Before you go to the comment box to either argue with me or congratulate me, let me explain why.

Last Tuesday, when I saw that President Obama would continue leading our country, I felt crushed. I wasn’t expecting anything different and I’m no lover of Romney, but I knew it was a crushing blow to my family, my beloved Church family. The Health and Human Services (HHS) Mandate is a mandate to Obamacare that will require companies to pay for insurance that will provide abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives, and sterilization procedures. This mandate includes all organizations even if that organization is morally opposed to those things. Because of Obama's re-election it will be allowed to continue. Christian organizations were given one year to comply and that deadline is quickly approaching. 

The organizations have several options: 1) comply, 2) pay a hefty fine (for Hobby Lobby it will be $1.3 million a day), 3) drop health care coverage for its employees, or 4) close its doors all together. I'm assuming in most cases if the organization does No. 2 or 3, it will result in No. 4. The choices are grim, but I pray the Church chooses correctly. I pray it fights until it has to start closing its doors on schools, hospitals, charities, retail stores, etc., and refusing to comply until that time the mandate is overturned or at least modified to either exclude organizations morally opposed to it or no longer include coverage for life-ending services.

But I don’t suspect it will be overturned or even modified easily, and I see a lot of pain in the future of my Church. I see religious leaders and Christians everywhere being truly persecuted for not wishing to waiver in their belief that all life is valuable and that things that are destructive to that life are also destructive to our culture as a whole. I don’t want to be a doomsayer, but if we act like we should, we’ll be getting a lot of press about our unwavering opposition to the point of humiliation, bankruptcy, jail time, or worse. Basically, I think it will get worse before it gets better.

But it will get better; first because our God is faithful to His faithful and abounding in mercy, and second because I think this has a purpose. It’s time to strengthen our Church on the national and international scales. We’ve grown silent on issues we are afraid will drive people from the pews. We've ignored shifts in culture because we're afraid to look like what this world describes as bigots and antiques. We've decided that telling people what is right and wrong is none of our business because if we do there will be no one left to tell. We’ve become divided within one body, and if a body is divided, it dies.

I’m already personally thankful for President Obama’s past term and the HHS Mandate. Without it my group of friends may have never talked about the Church’s teaching on birth control as frequently as they did. It took many, many discussions before I found NFP and realized I was rejecting a crucial part of my vocation of marriage, my faith, and my responsibility to other humans. It’s made me an ardent supporter of NFP and has made me a better wife, Christian, and neighbor. I think allowing the mandate to persist so that we can oppose it publicly on a national stage will strength true Christians, will evangelize to those who are not, and push out the door those too complacent to fight.

So that’s why I’m ready for President Obama’s next four years. They will be a true test of our Church and our individual faith journeys. I am relinquishing to God my fear, however, that many of my Christian brothers and sisters will not fight the mandate. I will more than likely suffer each time an institution, which call itself Christian, complies with the mandate and provides/funds the services that end life. And maybe I won’t see the end or modification of the mandate before I die, but I think this will make our Church stronger. Smaller perhaps, as people will inevitably leave, but what remains will be stronger.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Thank God for Sisters: Family Photos

I am so very blessed with an amazing sister. Truly, truly she's one of the greatest gifts in my life. I was even more blessed earlier this year when she and her husband decided to move from Chicago down to Florida to live near us. I love having her nearby again! We've been six hours or more apart since 2007! Much too long.

She is my best friend and I like the person I am when I'm around her. She's kind, and welcoming, sweet, and always smiling. She likes to take funny pictures of herself on my phone so I find them later and we made up a dance years ago we still do whenever there's an opportunity. She likes to mimic me in odd voices and we call each other sistas after watching the Geisha. She's just awesome and you should be friends.

Us wearing Where's Waldo/Future Harry Potter glasses at our Halloween Party.
She's also very talented! She recently began a photography business and has been doing the most wonderful work. You should check her work out at Or like her page on Facebook because who doesn't like seeing beautiful pictures in your newsfeed occasionally. We were lucky enough to grace the pages of her Facebook just recently. Check out our family photos below :) Thank you, Kelsey!

Our puppy.

Love the trees.
The dip.

I think we're all laughing.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Second Pre-cana ... Rocked it :)

Second Pre-cana ... Rocked it :)

Ben and I spoke at our second Pre-cana (marriage prep in the Catholic church) on Sunday about ... you guessed it ... NFP! Who's excited?! Well, I didn't think the couples who joined us would be. But we had an awesome bunch of couples who were crazy about each other and looking to get in touch with their Catholic roots.
This post needed a picture so how about Bay on her walk :)
Ben and I got to lead one of the small group sessions as well and were really encouraged when we spoke with our four sets of couples. None of them were uber Catholics, but their honesty about their faith journey was truly inspiring. Each spoke about how they had fallen away from the Church over the years, but as marriage was approaching they had decided they wanted God to be a part of their lives. Doesn't that speak volumes?

But it's true. When we get entrenched in a certain phase of our lives we tend to focus on the mundane and never really evaluate all the choices we're making. Like for so many young adults we get caught up in school and jobs and learning the ropes of this thing called adulthood. We focus on the immediate needs like paying bills and having a few friends to call on the weekends. All those things come, but it takes a true effort to include God. However, when a life event occurs like marriage or having a baby or whatever, it makes us wake up and think about how we want this next phase in our lives to be different from the one before. I'm just so happy these couples realized they wanted God to be a part of it.

And we hoped that after our talk they would consider making NFP a part of their marriage as well. We thought the evaluations might tell us how we did. I was dreading this part because I've been warned by others that they can get nasty. But like I said, we had an awesome group and got encouraging evaluations of our talk! They said things like they enjoyed the background info and the health info, that it was a great presentation, that they liked our passion and our approach, and that we didn't make them feel like evil people if they didn't already use NFP. I was pretty happy with those results!

We did get one kind of negative critique. They said they felt like it was more of an advocation for NFP than a talk on marital connection/bond. And I'd have to say they were right. But that was intentional. They might get that information from anywhere, but the chances of them getting the Church's teaching on contraception and NFP again is slim. It's not something you generally talk about over lunch or even hear from the pulpit. But their point is something to consider because NFP truly supports the continued formation and strengthening of the marital connection/bond. We'll have to dive into that more in the future.

I just can't tell you what a positive mood that whole day put me in. It's just such a blessing to get to be a part of this ministry!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Operation FALLOUT: Repurposing Dining Table

Our home is rather strange in that it has two dining rooms. That's not entirely the strange part. The strange thing about having two dining rooms is that they are right next to each other. If you are going to have two dining areas, at least separate them a little, right? It's weird, but what I really cared about was the fact that it was also ugly. 
See. Ugly. 
Luckily it just so happened that because we were redoing the "formal" dining room right next door and giving the kitchen a facelift, so we had no choice but to redo the "informal" dining room as well. A brand new coat of paint and new trim made a huge difference.
See. Not ugly.
But it was still missing that essential part of a dining room ... a table. As fate would have it I was explaining my predicament to a co-worker. Our "formal" dining room (hard to keep them straight, I know) table was the first thing Ben and I bought as a married couple. Since the one I had prior to graduating college I found on the side of a road, we splurged and got one we loved. However, we didn't feel like doing that twice so I was going to start scouring roadsides again. My amazing co-worker had a better idea. She asked me to come get her old table out of her garage! Score!
How perfect is that? It's even round to fit the bend in the window! We loved it, but it needed a little love after receiving lots from her children when they were growing up. So we decided to restore it. We'd already done the staining thing and this had so many nooks and crevices, we decided to try the paint route. So first I sanded the top. We got a primer that didn't need sanding, but the top is the focal point, so I wanted it to be primed and ready before the actually priming began. Seems redundant, I know. 

Next we had to get it inside the house. Unfortunately it was too big to fit through any of the doorways except our sliding door all the way around the house. But I married an ox of a husband!
He even waited for me to run around the house looking for my camera so I could take this picture! Best!
After I sanded the top and Ben found a way for it to reside inside our home I got priming.

We used Zinnser primer. I had heard good things and only have good things to say about it. However, it's not like other primers. This stuff was like super glue. And being the messy painter I am I found it in my hair for weeks after. Advice: wear a hairnet :)

Chairs before.
Chairs with primer (and Instagramed).

 The worst part about this project was how intricate the chairs were. So many rods and curves and carvings. It killed my back, but Ben is brilliant and turned them upside down on a stool so I could continue painting with less backache. It still wasn't an easy process. And then I had to do it all over again with paint!

For paint, I choose an enamel paint. It's what we should have used on the cabinets as well because it dries much harder, which is good for high traffic surfaces, such as a table top. Finally you can choose to top it all off with a wax. Wax is good because it keeps the moister from say a cup from getting to the paint. It's also cheap and might save you from future sanding/priming/repainting jobs down the road. 

Finally we added a new light fixture, some wall art, and curtains (which I found for $9 each at Target! Just hemmed them along the bottom and love them!) to make our "informal" dining room complete!

Totally different look from our "formal" dining room, but I love it. This feels comfy and cozy, while the other room feels ... well ... more formal. Hope you like!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Redefining Life

Once upon a time I was a birth control user and called myself pro-life. Little did I know that made me a hypocrite.

How so you ask? Don’t women by taking birth control prevent unwanted babies and thus possibly abortion? Nope. But don’t ask your doctor that because you’ll get a different answer. I know. I asked.

Prior to 1965 conception was considered to occur at fertilization or when the egg is fertilized by a sperm thus creating an embryo, which has all the necessary DNA of a human being.

In 1965 the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (per Planned Parenthood’s suggestion) redefined conception as the implantation of an ovum, or when the embryo attaches itself to the uterine lining.

Why’d they do that? Because this newfangled pill was coming out, but people weren’t jumping on the bandwagon because it ended pregnancies. How many times are we going to be fooled by semantics?! The pill works like this:

First it releases a synthetic version of progesterone. Progesterone naturally occurs in a woman’s cycle only after ovulation (when the egg is released to be fertilized) to prepare the body for a potential pregnancy. By releasing this hormone earlier it tricks the body into thinking it’s pregnant and therefore does not ovulate. No ovulation means no chance to make a baby.

Thanks for the graphics!
However, because the pill originally had extremely high dosages of progesterone that were causing serious issues in women (like cancer and death) developers of the pill have cut back on the amount of progesterone thus allowing ovulation to occur (though we still get many of those nasty side effects). If ovulation happens, the egg can become fertilized. Ovulation occurs 28 percent of the time with regular hormonal contraceptives (that means the pill, the patch, IUDs, and other contraceptives that use synthetic hormones to trick the body). Ovulation occurs 33-65 percent of the time in progestin-only mini-pill cycles. *

So backup function of the pill is to thicken cervical mucus and slow tubal motility so the two halves of a whole person can’t meet. But still, that might not be enough to prevent new life from forming.

The pill has a third function and it’s abortificant in nature. It thins a woman’s uterine lining, aka the “embryo food”. So, if an egg and sperm were to meet and create a baby, the pill makes a woman’s body inhospitable to that life continuing, thus causing an early term chemical abortion. That means hundreds, thousands, millions of babies have been aborted due to hormonal contraceptives according to the definition of life that starts at fertilization.

Don’t believe me; ask your doctor. Ask, that if your definition of life begins at fertilization (and science has proven that it does), if the pill (the patch, IUDs, etc.) causes the embryo to be unable to implant (aka die). Their answer should be yes and that means that hormonal contraceptives can have an abortificant effect.

I asked my doctor at the age of 18 if the pill caused abortions, and I got ‘no’ for an answer. I didn’t know that her definition of when life started was later than mine. And it was because of that answer, and my own unwillingness to investigate into the issue, that I went a year and a half on birth control while married. That devastates me looking back and wondering about the possible lives I might have ended because the pill seemed somehow easier and more effective than the other options out there. I thought I wasn’t hurting anyone, but I had no idea I was potentially ending life … life that my husband and I created … my own children. I don’t know if that happened and I might not ever know until I leave this world, but that’s my burden to bear. I just hope I can help others realize this truth so they can embrace life when they are ready and exercise responsible parenthood and make adult decisions before they are.

If you are pro-life, you don’t use hormonal contraceptives. That’s that.

Want to learn more about this from an NFP doctor or teacher, visit to find one in your area.

* Larimaore W Standford J. Postfertilization Effects of Oral Contraceptives and Their Relationsihp to Informed Consent, Arch Fam Med 2000; 9:126-133

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Operation FALLOUT Part 2

Remember when my kitchen looked like this?  
It wasn't my favorite, but after Operation FALLOUT, which was a direct result of Operation SPLINTER SPINDLES, we had a working kitchen. Not perfect, but much better. 
This past week my parents came down to visit! They live in Illinois and hadn't really had a chance to come see our new digs in Florida. But when they did come they came bearing gifts! My dad lays tile by trade and after each job he usually has a little bit left over. A few weeks ago he sent me a picture of this:
I had wanted something with glass, but also an earthy feel. This seemed perfect! So being the amazing dad that he is, he said he would bring it down when they were here to visit. What I didn't know is that he had to buy a few more boxes to make sure there was enough for my backsplash! He wouldn't let us pay for them and he even installed it while he was here visiting. BEST DAD EVER! Ben worked with my dad for about four years, so he helped. Below is the process in pictures. :) 
Ben cutting tile with a handsaw. We had limited equipment to work with.
Putting it up!
That's my dad :)
Grout. I was worried it would be too light, but we figured it would match the cabinet paint.
Ben wiping away the grout.
I helped a little bit.
And ta-dah! It's beautiful, yes? 
Now I just need curtains and some rugs to cover that ugly tile on the floor.  Someday we might be able to replace that.
A backsplash just makes it feel like a legitimate kitchen. Thanks, Dad!