"When a soul recognises the will of God and shows a readiness to submit to it entirely, then God gives Himself to such a soul and renders it most powerful succour under all circumstances." - Rev. Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Friday, October 20, 2017

Togetherness {day 20}

One of my favorite books about marriage (that I didn’t read until last year) is A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken. I don’t want to ruin my favorite part for those of you who haven’t read it yet, but there was another part that has stuck with me. (If you do read it, be warned that it starts off slow. But power through and it’ll be worth it!)

Sheldon and his wife talked about what they thought was the problem of failed love. They thought the answer was “creeping separateness” - doing things on your own, having your own interests. Instead of doing everything together, you gradually end up doing more things on your own. While adultery or boredom or something else might happen, Sheldon and his wife came to the conclusion that it was first caused by “the creeping separateness: the failure behind the failure” (page 37).

Gosh, I can totally see that. It's so easy to get caught up in our own hobbies, where one spouse is reading a book and and the other is watching random videos, or one spouse is exercising while the other is crafting it up. All of that is fine, as long as you’re doing things together too. But I know how easy it is to let a day or two go by and realize we haven't done much with our spouse. Complicated work schedules and needy children can make couple time seem nearly impossible sometimes.

When Logan and I were dating early on in our relationship, I thought it was so strange how much he liked watching NASCAR races. I mean, all they do is drive around in circles. What’s the fun in that? I would watch the races with him (out of a sense of obligation) but not really enjoy it.

But that was several years ago. Although he doesn’t watch every single race anymore, there was a time where I actually liked watching NASCAR with him. Turns out it’s a lot more than guys just driving around. Logan had his favorite driver, and I picked a favorite too, so it was fun having “my driver” beat his. (I liked Carl Edwards and Logan has always been a big fan of Dale Earnhardt, Jr….in case you were curious.)

My sport growing up was soccer. Logan actually played for a couple years in elementary school, but other than, he didn’t really care about soccer - until we started dating. I played for our high school, and I still remember Logan coming to the games, sometimes with a big sign cheering me on. He also has grown to love watching professional soccer games on television, and even surprised me with tickets to see the U.S. Women’s National Soccer team when they played in New Orleans a couple years ago.

So yes, we very much still have our own hobbies - I love to read and write and he definitely does not, and he lifts weights and works out while I definitely do not. After the kids are in bed, I’m perfectly content staying inside reading a book while he works out. And he’s perfectly content watching TV while I blog.

But we both love watching football together every week (and playing Fantasy Football, holler!), and we both like to run. Because we like hanging out together, we’ve also grown to love each other’s hobbies too.

It does take some awareness to notice that “creeping separateness,” but perhaps that’s the perfect time to take more interest in one of your spouse’s hobbies or to even start a new one together.
We ran a couple of 5Ks together earlier this year! Logan is great at cheering me on when I want to stop. 😊

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The best surprise ever {day 19}

While our initial adjustment from two to three kids wasn’t too bad, I struggled once our third baby, Aaron, was three months old. He stopped sleeping well, our other boys kind of went crazy, I couldn’t keep up with housework despite taking a break from the Internet, and I just didn’t know what God was trying to teach me throughout it all.

One weekend when Aaron was five months old, I had pretty much the hardest weekend with the kids since becoming a family of five. Logan was at work all weekend, of course, and when he got home, he could tell I needed a break.

Thankfully, we just so happened to be taking care of my cousin’s dog at the time while they were out of town. Normally, Logan would drive to their house (10-15 minutes away) to feed the dog and let her back inside for the night. But this particular night, he told me to go so I could get out of the house for a bit.

It was much needed. When I returned, our two older boys were in bed, and Logan told me to take off my pullover (it was actually cold for once in Louisiana). So I did. Then he told me to take off my shirt. I rolled my eyes but Logan insisted, “Just trust me!” So I took off my shirt. He continued to ask me to take off another article of clothing, and then another, and I really had no clue what he was getting at - especially because he was holding our wide-awake baby and I knew it wasn’t like we were about to get it on or anything. Yet he kept insisting that I trust him. Normally I would totally resist Logan’s weird shenanigans like that but I think I was too tired to care at that point. It had been a really rough weekend. Heck, it had been a rough couple of months.

Once I was completely naked in our living room (why yes, he continued to ask me to take off one article of clothing after another until none were left), Logan led me to the guest bathroom, opened the door, and said, “Go have a moment to yourself.” I looked inside and saw the bath tub full of piping hot water, surrounded by lit candles, and there was a glass of wine propped up on the side.

It was a little piece of Heaven, I tell you. Logan has certainly done his fair share of awesome surprises, but this one ranks up at the top because it was exactly what I needed at that time. I think a lot of time he feels almost at a loss for what to do when he sees me struggling, but this time he totally nailed it - even though I’m not a big fan of baths. Once I made myself comfortable in the hot water, took a sip of wine, and opened my Kindle Paperwhite, I thought, Why have I never done this before?

Unfortunately, the blissful bath didn’t even last ten minutes because our baby wouldn’t stop screaming for me. Hashtag real life. Logan even tried to walk outside with him so I wouldn’t hear, but a momma can hear her baby’s cries anywhere. So after I realized my baby was not calming down at all, I reluctantly got out to go rescue Logan. He was upset, naturally, since he wanted me to be able to enjoy the bath. But like I told him, it really was the effort that counted. In my mind, he earned a million brownie points - which is exactly why I let him take advantage of the still-hot water while I nursed our baby to sleep.

Somehow Logan manages to surprise me with exactly what I need, and sometimes it’s something I didn’t even realize I needed! I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve had a bath in my adult life, and most of those were when I was pregnant and on bedrest. But thanks to his awesome surprise, I now know that a hot bath and silence is exactly what I need sometimes. The candles and wine are just a bonus.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The sneaky one {day 18}

There are several things that have surprised me about marriage, but one of the biggest is how much the devil wants to ruin everything. Sometimes it’s easy to notice when he’s attacking our marriage, but more often than not, he’s so, so sneaky about it.

The first time I was bombarded by evil thoughts was on our honeymoon, which I already shared about earlier this month. A couple years ago, though, I experienced for the first time an intense battle in my head between good and evil. Logan and I had been doing well, and we were enjoying our boys - Landon was 2.5 years old and Chase was 9 months old.

I had just had an extremely frustrating night, though (while Logan had a fun night with friends), and we were trying to talk things out. Even though I really wanted to just go to bed and forget about it, I was going out of town the next morning with the boys and wouldn’t see Logan for a few days. So, we needed to make things right.

As Logan and I talked, I knew the devil was trying to get me to hold onto my anger towards Logan and blame him for my terrible night. It was ridiculous, really.

And then there was God, prompting me to let go of my pride and talk to Logan honesty - and fairly. There was nothing wrong with me being frustrated but Logan definitely did not deserve to be the bad guy.

Thankfully, God sent me some extra graces, and I admitted to Logan how I shouldn’t blame him and that my anger overwhelms me sometimes. The Holy Spirit took over just then, as Logan brought to light the fact that the devil was trying to ruin the good life we had going. He was right.

I knew we defeated evil in that moment, because it felt like it left the room as soon as we made things right. It sounds crazy, but I definitely felt the triumph of good over evil that night.

Sometimes life isn’t like that though. Since I’m sure the devil hates the fact that I’m blogging about marriage all month, plus the fact that we’re doing well right now, Logan and I have felt under attack more than usual these past few weeks. Last week, I was having the most frustrating day in awhile - I had to cancel my prayer group for the second week in a row, my oven wasn’t working, our entire house smelled like gas so I thought the oven had a leak (it didn’t, thankfully, just a broken part), our baby was especially fussy because of a yucky cough, the dog barked and woke up fussy baby after a much-too-short nap, and well, you get the idea.

Even though all of those things weren’t anything major, there was one moment where I felt utterly despondent and it took a lot to not just burst into tears. A few minutes later, Logan texted me from work, where apparently he was having a frustrating day also and said he was feeling depressed.

Warning bells went off in my head. Logan and I were both feeling hopeless, for completely different reasons. I knew the devil was working overtime.

I texted Logan back saying I thought we should go to confession, which thankfully was being offered at our church later that day. We were able to both receive the Sacrament, and I honestly thought all would be well after that.

Not so. Logan and I were both struggling with things for the rest of the evening, our kids were being crazy, and it almost felt like we hadn’t even gone to confession. While it was tempting to fall back into despair again (darn you, melancholic temperament!), I knew it was exactly what the devil wanted us to do.

So we powered through the night and had a fresh perspective on life when we woke up the next morning.

It’s not always easy to know when your marriage is being attacked, but it’s important that we’re aware of the fact that the devil wants to tear marriages apart. Sometimes he does it when we we’re at our weakest, but other times he does it when we’re at our strongest - when we think that there’s no possible way he could hurt us.

The devil is a sneaky one. He wants us to let down our guard. He wants us to let him sow seeds of bitterness, resentment, and despair into our hearts and into our marriage - without us even realizing.

That’s why it’s important to stay united to God through prayer and the sacraments, so you can stay united to your spouse when you’re under attack.

St. Michael, defend us in battle!
I got this at Edel from Santa Clara Design Print Shop. It seemed appropriate. 😉

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Come at me, life {day 17}

Sometimes life makes it nearly impossible to focus on your marriage. Jobs, children, other responsibilities - there are a million and one reasons I can think of that prevent me from making my husband a priority.

But I also know that when I do make the extra effort to keep Logan a top priority, those are the times that I feel like I could conquer anything. Everything in our house could be breaking, our children could be losing their ever-loving minds, and our checking account could be, well, pitiful. If Logan and I are thriving as a married couple though? All of that other stuff feels so trivial.

When Logan and I are struggling, though, life feels so differently. We could actually be doing well financially, our kids are being cooperative, and in general, life is just pretty good. But I have a hard time noticing all of those good things when my marriage is in a rut.

Can you relate? I hope so.

One of my good friends seems to be one of those people that when it rains, it pours. If something crazy is going to happen, it’s going to happen to her. But she always seems to handle it so well, and I think a big part of that is because her marriage is solid. It’s inspiring, really.

I have to admit, Logan and I are in a sweet spot right now (which is probably a big reason why I have the guts - and have been given the grace - to write about marriage this month). We’ve been working together really well lately and are really enjoying each other’s company. It’s definitely not always the case, but I can appreciate these good times that much more because we’ve totally had our share of disillusionment in marriage.

I also know that we’re in a good groove right now because we’re both putting forth more effort into our relationship than usual - despite life trying to get us to do otherwise. Life is certainly not perfect, by any means. So that means it has taken some creativity to keep our marriage a priority, especially with Logan’s unusual work schedule, our baby who doesn’t like to sleep, our limited budget, and my ridiculous Creighton chart (keeping it real, you guys). But like I keep saying - it’s totally worth the effort.

Lately, when Logan is not at work in the evening and as soon as our family finishes up dinner (and its subsequent dance party in the kitchen, holler), one of us tackles the dishes and kitchen clean-up while the other helps the kids bathe and/or get ready for bed. Usually Logan handles the kids while I do the dishes, but sometimes he prefers the dishes so we switch up. Whatever we need to do to make it happen!

By the time we both finish our respective duties, we have a couple hours to hang out, just the two of us. Of course, sometimes (okay, a lot of times lately), a certain one-year old is still awake, but even then we’re still able to have quality adult conversation.

It’s hard to figure out how exactly to work together in any given situation (and decide who prefers which responsibilities), but once we do, it proves that working together in all aspects of life is the best thing for both our marriage and our family.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Embrace the weirdness {day 16}

One day - in the not so distant past - I walked into our kitchen to Logan dressed in all white, dancing with a broom. He was imitating Mr. Clean.

I’ve lost count of how many times Logan - when we’re out in public - gets down on one knee and acts like he’s about to propose. Again. Just to embarrass me.

Nothing shocks me anymore, I tell you. That’s life with Logan. There are many adjectives I could use to describe him, but maybe I should just go with “unique”. Sometimes it’s a little annoying that he sometimes acts, um, childish, but a lot of times it’s hilarious. I’ve learned to embrace the weirdness.

I’ve blogged about how he (very willingly) picked out my clothes for a week and found a cute dress on our Goodwill date. He probably cares more about my wardrobe than I do, but I suppose that’s a good thing, because I certainly need help in the fashion department.

More recently, Logan became determined to learn how to braid. I’m not sure why really, as our kids are all boys, and I hadn’t worn my hair in a braid since I was a kid. And Logan wasn’t even satisfied with learning how to do a simple braid - he wanted to learn how to French braid. Go big or go home, I guess.

It took him a few days of practicing, but I’m proud to report that Logan has mastered the French braid. I have no idea how to do it, and I don’t really care to learn. We don’t have any girls yet, but we do have two nieces, which turns out to be one of the reasons Logan wanted to learn. And if we ever did have any girls, Logan would most definitely be in charge of fixing their hair.

I just need to point out that as I was sitting at the table writing this section, Logan started braiding my hair (and he had no idea what I was writing about).

Since a lot of times we’re unaware of what other people find weird about us, I asked Logan what he thought my quirks were. Most of them I already knew he found annoying - flossing my teeth, using cruise control while driving all of the time, following the rules. (Apparently, he has a problem with me doing things THE RIGHT WAY. Whatevs. I still love him.) But one I really didn’t even realize I was doing half of the time - sniffing my hair. Yes, that sounds weird, and yes, Logan could have probably been a little nicer when he pointed it out to me, but now I realize every time I do it and inwardly groan because man, Logan was right.

Everyone has their quirks, though. It’s easy to let those quirks become annoyances which become major roadblocks in a relationship. I know it’s our job to get each other to Heaven, and it’s certainly our obligation to gently point out certain behaviors that might be sinful.

But a lot of things are pretty insignificant in the big picture. So pick your battles and embrace the weirdness.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Being vulnerable {day 15}

I can’t help but think how the times Logan and I feel closest are the times we’re really open with each other - about our struggles, our sins, or whatever is on our hearts.

It’s hard to talk about what’s going on inside you, especially depending on your temperament, because sometimes you can’t even explain your crazy thoughts. It’s even harder not knowing how the other person will react. And it’s even harder when you know that whatever is on your heart might hurt or upset your spouse.

But I think it’s harder keeping all of that to yourself. It’s hard to live with someone and not share everything with them. It’s hard to grow closer to someone when you’re keeping things to yourself.

Being vulnerable with your spouse is how you grow closer to each other.

Maybe you’re married to someone who has gotten some major walls built up, and you’ve tried everything to break down those walls. Maybe you’re desperate to know how your spouse is really feeling or what’s going on in his mind, but he just can’t bring himself to open up to you. Or maybe your spouse is an open book and I’m actually describing you.

Well, I’m definitely not a psychologist and I’m certainly not an expert, but either way, I think that sometimes you have to put yourself out there if you want someone to do the same. One spouse has to share first, and the hope is that the other one will reciprocate. But it has to start somewhere.

Perhaps you also just need to let your beloved know that you’re there for them, no matter what, and that whenever they’re ready to share his/her heart, you’re ready to listen.

I know some people automatically try to offer a solution to someone’s problem. You know what I mean…they feel an overwhelming sense to fix everything. I suppose we’re all guilty of that at some point. But sometimes - I daresay a lot of times - people don’t necessarily want a solution. They just want someone to listen. To know they have your support.

To love them unfailingly and unreservedly, no matter what.

Whenever Logan shares a struggle with me, sometimes my first instinct is to freak out a little inside, because how the heck did I not know he was feeling that way? Why did he not tell me this before? How long has he been struggling with this and why have I never asked??

But I have to stop myself and remember to not make it about me. Logan is sharing his heart, which is not something that comes easily to everyone (especially men), and I need to make sure Logan knows how appreciative I am of that and that I’m not going to judge him or criticize him.

I just want him to know I love him.

There have been times where I debated about whether or not I should talk to Logan about a particular issue I was struggling with, and sometimes I ended up just praying about it. God would do one of two things: 1) give me the grace to finally talk to Logan, or 2) place the same particular issue on Logan’s heart, who then brought it up with me. (I told you prayer is powerful in a marriage!)

But one thing is always the same - I need to be vulnerable with Logan, and he needs to be vulnerable right back. He can’t read my mind (although sometimes that’s debatable!), so he doesn’t always know what I’m thinking unless I tell him. We’ve had dozens of difficult conversations over the years, but it’s always been a necessary step in understanding each other and getting on the same page. And as time goes on, being vulnerable with each other becomes less awkward and actually is one of my favorite parts of our relationship. I know I can tell him anything, and vice versa. There’s not too much that can shake a relationship where both parties are completely honest and open with each other, in every aspect of life.
On our "Goodwill date" where we each picked an outfit for each other and wore it to dinner afterwards. I was feeling pretty vulnerable 😂

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Just take out the garbage please {day 14}

Even though Logan is great at surprises, he is not good at taking out the garbage. He will have spurts where he kind of stays on top of it, but for the most part, he forgets and/or procrastinates on both emptying the trash cans in the house and bringing the outside trash can to the curb. Plus, he has this pet peeve about putting bigger items (think cereal boxes, empty cartons, etc.) in the garbage can, so he leaves those bigger items on our counter until he empties the garbage can in the kitchen.

Because he tends to procrastinate, what usually ends up happening is our kitchen trash can is overflowing and our counters are covered with bigger trash items - and Logan still waits to take out the garbage. I don’t understand it at all. It is not that hard to empty the trash can or walk a couple items to the outside garbage can. But for some reason, Logan just cannot handle it….which of course I find extremely frustrating.

After years of being resentful about how terrible Logan is at taking out the garbage, though, and learning that nagging him does not help whatsoever, I just take out the garbage myself if I need to.

Some might think that’s enabling Logan’s ridiculousness, and you would be right if I still continued to nag him about it. But instead, I just take out the garbage without telling Logan anything. I consider it more of a sacrifice that I’m doing because I love him. I don’t want to nag him or grow resentful, so I (try to) do it out love. He obviously hates taking out the garbage, and I don’t think it’s a big deal, so just doing it myself is better for both of us.

Let me be clear - I do not always succeed at taking out the garbage out of love for Logan. Sometimes I have to really stifle those resentful thoughts. I have proof in my journals about every year or so that I’ve had to recommit to just taking the garbage out myself instead of nagging Logan about it (and yes, I realize how silly that sounds). But as the years go by, I’m realizing that the more I do small things that I consider a sacrifice, the easier they become.

What’s even better is that Logan tends to notice when I do chores around the house that usually I expect him to do. So when he sees me taking out the garbage, or giving the kids a bath, he turns around and starts washing dishes in appreciation. It’s a win-win.

Logan and I have also realized just how much smoother things go if we work together and part of that is learning which chores one of us prefers over the other.

Since I already explained how Logan isn’t good at taking out the garbage, I should admit that I’m pretty terrible at meal planning. Just like Logan and the garbage, I’ll have spurts where I’m on top of meals and cooking and all is well. And there are other times where I’m just so overwhelmed and realizing at 5pm that I hadn’t even thought about what we will eat for dinner.

So Logan helps me out a lot. He’s usually really good at thinking about something new to eat or something we haven’t had in awhile, or a way to use leftovers. And during the phases of life where it’s really hard for me to spend an hour in the kitchen cooking - I’m looking at you, pregnancy, or whenever I have a ridiculously fussy baby at my feet - having Logan team up with me is a huge help. We often plan our meals for the week together, and usually half of them are meals that Logan is able to start or do completely on his own if needed. It’s actually worked out really well lately, because I’ll be helping Landon with his homework (while holding a fussy baby, ugh) while Logan can start fixing dinner if I haven’t already.

I know some people think that certain responsibilities should be gender-specific - like men should take out the garbage and women should cook - but I think it’s more important to work together that benefits your specific family the best. Obviously, this will look differently for everybody.

Many of my friends' husbands handle their family’s finances. While I would love for Logan to have that responsibility too, it makes the most sense for me to do it because I tend to do better with numbers. Logan said from the beginning, way back when we were engaged, that he really wanted me to handle our finances, and while I used to be really annoyed with that - because gosh, budgeting can be so stressful - now I know that everybody has things they are good at. Those husbands that handle the finances might never ever vacuum or mop floors. Logan, on the other hand, is very good at cleaning our floors and does it when I’m having a hard time making it a priority. (Like, um, when I decide to blog every day for a month.)

The point is, figure out how best you and your spouse work together, and of course involve your kids if they’re old enough. Each marriage and family looks different than the next, and there’s nothing wrong with that. The important thing is to work together and maximize your abilities!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Disillusionment {day 13}

Earlier this year, our church parish hosted a date night for couples, which included dinner, dancing, and a talk by a married couple. During their talk, the speaker couple explained that marriage goes in a cycle - from the Honeymoon Stage to Disillusionment. When you’re in Disillusionment, you have to make a choice or decision - to divorce, separate, or stay. Assuming you choose to stay and manage to work things out, you eventually reach True Joy.

According to Google’s dictionary, disillusionment is “a feeling of disappointment resulting from the discovery that something is not as good as one believed it to be”. The first time I felt that in my marriage was not long after the wedding, ironically enough. But just a couple months later, we were back in True Joy.

That talk at my church was a big epiphany for me, because I can look back and see several times when were were in Disillusionment, and just as many times that we were in True Joy. It really is true - marriage has a cycle.

Unfortunately, it's not possible to say in True Joy forever. But I’ve realized that when we're in Disillusionment, it's the perfect time to challenge ourselves to do more and put more effort into our marriage. So many couples get so discouraged in Disillusionment that it leads to divorce, and while I know there are exceptions, I do think that many marriages could be saved by just doing simple things. If you’re at a loss as to what to do for your spouse, focus on their love languages. You really can’t go wrong.

Logan and I always seem to really struggle when I’m pregnant, and then we struggle again when our babies are around 6 months old. By that point, I’m pretty burnt out on breastfeeding and trying to keep up with everything. When our middle son, Chase, was around that age, Logan and I hit a rough patch. I felt overwhelmed with trying to keep up with the kids, bills, housework, etc., and it seemed like Logan was expecting too much of me. Basically, we were not on the same page about anything.

One night, we had a tiff over something - I’ll spare the details but let’s just leave it at this: I totally understood why people divorce. I had never felt so under-appreciated and distant from the one person who was supposed to be my partner in life. (Logan has felt the same way about me at times, too, because it’s definitely a two-way street.)

We’ve had several other times like that in our marriage, and it always feels the same - like we’re complete strangers. I wonder why the heck we got married, why we’re even together, and wonder if it’s always going to be this way. It’s a pretty miserable feeling, and I cannot imagine having another issue to go along with that, like abuse or addiction. (But I know those situations are much more common than we think.)

The couple who spoke about the cycle of marriage was right - it’s a cycle. Just like you can’t stay in True Joy forever, you don’t stay in Disillusionment forever. You have a choice. You can run away - which often feels like the easiest solution, I’m not going to lie - or you can stick it out and make it work.

Like I said before, a lot of times it doesn’t take much to turn things around. Sure, it feels like a lot of work, but it’s not. Sometimes the hardest part is acknowledging how prideful I’m being in a certain situation, or to realize I’m subconsciously keeping score when it comes to how many responsibilities we each have, or to just go to Confession because I’m being so bitter and resentful I can’t think rationally.

Just start with one small thing, and go from there. Don’t believe the lie that you’re stuck in an unhappy marriage or that there’s no possible way to reach True Joy. It’s definitely possible, and it does take work, but once you’re over that “hump”, so to speak, you’ll have a hard time remembering why you were ever disillusioned in the first place.

Once you realize that marriage really does continue in this cycle - a vicious cycle, it seems sometimes - you’ll be prepared for the next time Disillusionment rolls around. You will know from experience that although it feels like it will last forever, it won’t, and that you will make the decision to stay in it together until you finally reach True Joy again.
True joy, obviously 😉❤️

Thursday, October 12, 2017

I hate surprises. Usually. {day 12}

(This story might sound familiar to some of you longtime readers but I added some details!)

I’ve never been a big fan of surprises. I like to know what’s going to happen, when it’s going to happen, and how it’s going to happen.

Logan, on the other hand, loves surprises. So that means he often surprises me, and I have to admit he’s so good at it that I usually don’t mind.

Two years ago when we had a 1-year old and a 3-year old, I committed to running a huge silent auction (for the second year in a row) for one of our favorite non-profit organizations. It was a lot of work, and I spent most of my spare time for months on auction tasks.

Logan had been saying he wanted to take me out a date night the week before the auction (in November), since he knew I’d be stressed and would need a night out. That was so, so true - especially because we actually found out I was pregnant just three weeks before the event.

He had one of our good friends, Lindsey - godmother to our middle child - come over to watch the boys while we went to dinner. On the way to the restaurant, Logan told me he was proud of all the work I was doing and that he wanted to give me kind of an early Christmas gift. He handed me Matthew West’s new CD.

Matthew West is one of my favorite Christian artists, and I actually named my blog after some of his lyrics. I already had some of his other CDs and didn’t even realize he came out with a new one, so I thought it was such a sweet gift.

Then I opened the CD and found 2 concert tickets. To Matthew West. That night. Say what?

I should mention that Matthew West had never come to our state of Louisiana - that I was aware of - so I had never seen him in concert even though I’ve always really, really wanted to. So when I realized that we were actually going to Matthew West’s concert instead of dinner, I couldn’t believe it. How in the world did Logan pull this off without me realizing? Why did I not know this concert was even happening? Honestly, Logan is a terrible liar and I usually know when he’s up to something, but I guess I was too preoccupied with the pregnancy and the auction.

At first, I kind of panicked a little because we had told Lindsey we were just going to dinner twenty minutes away. But we were actually going to a concert an hour away. That’s a much longer date than I had anticipated! Logan assured me, though, that Lindsey knew the real plans from the beginning, so I took a big sigh of relief and tried not to stress.

My second thought was: What are we going to eat then? Because, pregnancy. I was in the midst of the first trimester and around-the-clock nausea, and I was counting on eating in the next twenty minutes. Based on our route to the concert, I knew there wasn’t anywhere to stop for at least that long - and it would be mostly fast food, something I rarely eat. Plus, I had really been looking forward to eating at the restaurant where I thought we had reservations.

But before I could even voice my concerns aloud, Logan pulls out a bag of takeout sushi from behind my seat.

I totally cried. I’m not a big crier but for some reason the tears kept coming. I had probably only cried one other time that Logan did something so romantic - and he’s done a lot of romantic things. I mean, I didn’t even cry at our wedding or when he proposed! I was already so surprised at the whole concert thing, since Matthew West legitimately is one of my favorite singers. Yet Logan had to go and surprise me again with one of my favorite takeout foods.

Logan regrets not having the whole surprise on video, but I’m totally fine not having evidence of my emotional instability. I wanted to blame the pregnancy hormones but it was probably a combination of that, stress about the auction, and being so thankful I married a romantic.

And because Logan absolutely thinks of everything, he even sprayed a bunch of Febreeze in the car so I wouldn’t smell the sushi. Now that’s how you surprise your pregnant wife!
Super blurry picture but it's the only picture we took of us at the concert!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Praying for your spouse {day 11}

Since I have difficult pregnancies, I can’t do nearly as much as I would like around the house and I have to limit errands outside the house because they tend to bring on contractions. That means Logan has even more responsibilities, which is hard because he’s already worried about our baby in utero. He tends to freak out whenever I do too much.

When I was pregnant with our middle son, Chase - which was probably our most difficult pregnancy to date - I couldn’t help but feel like the pregnancy would be much less stressful if Logan would just chill out. He didn’t want me to bake if we had too many dirty dishes already, but then he didn’t want me to dirty any more dishes once they were all clean! It was slightly ridiculous - and that was just one example.

Even though I noticed that I had more contractions when I had a busy day, I just wanted Logan to trust me enough to know that I would stop and rest when I felt like my body needed it.

I felt bad complaining (to myself, and in my journal) about Logan so much, because I knew how hard he was working and that he was stressed and all…but he was seriously stressing me out more than the pregnancy at one point.

During this whole frustrating time, I had started to ask St. Joseph for his intercession for Logan. I knew St. Joseph understood Logan and his overwhelming sense of responsibility for his pregnant wife and family. So, I prayed a novena to St. Joseph specifically for Logan to be less stressed and for him to be able to handle everything better throughout the pregnancy.

I kid you not, right after I finished that novena and the day after I journaled about my frustrations with Logan, he suddenly told me how he wouldn’t tell me what to do or not to do anymore during the pregnancy.

And the first thing I said (after I picked my jaw up off the ground) was, "Did you read my journal?" To which he responded no, and I had to laugh because it was like my prayer was answered the next day. Logan said the thought just came to him. So I thanked St. Joseph for his awesome intercession and was very thankful for such a quick answer to prayer.

A few months after Chase was born, our marriage was struggling again. We were arguing a lot and I was feeling really disillusioned. So, I started praying even more for our relationship and for us to communicate better. I thought about talking to Logan about it, but I didn’t want to end up arguing again. So I didn’t bring up anything and just kept praying for us.

A few days later, to my surprise (although I really shouldn’t be surprised anymore) Logan brought up everything. It was obvious that God had answered my prayers again, because we had a really good talk and were able to get on the same page about everything.

Obviously, most of the time our prayers aren’t answered so quickly, but both of those situations reminded me of how important it is to pray for my husband. I know I tend to take Logan for granted, because we’ve been together for what seems like forever, and there always seems to be a million more-pressing prayer intentions for other people and situations.

But I’ve come to see the power of prayer, specifically in my marriage. And really, chances are that nobody else is going to pray for my spouse more than I do, so I shouldn’t slack off. When Logan is at work, probably nobody else is going to think to pray for his protection. When he’s losing his temper with the kids, nobody else is usually there to say a prayer for him to have more patience.

It’s on me. I’m his wife, his other half, and one of the most important things I can do for him is to pray for him. Constantly.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

I hate rats {day 10}

One evening (before kids), Logan and I were watching TV in our living room while our puppy Marley snoozed alongside us. All of a sudden, we heard a clanging sound from upstairs. Marley woke up and started barking. Logan and I were trying to figure out what the heck the sound was when we realized it was coming from our attic, which was accessed from the second floor.

In the weeks prior, we had noticed droppings at various places in our house. And by droppings I mean poop. Tiny, tiny pieces of poop. We mentioned it to our pest control guy, and he thought it was just geckos. He gave us some sticky traps, though, to see if we caught anything.

Logan and I actually considered that it could be mice, even though our pest control guy didn’t agree. Unfortunately, I had even found droppings under my pillow - which is horrifying to think about, even years later - and suspected that it was getting in from the attic. Our attic door was like any other door on the second floor, but we noticed a gap underneath it small enough for vermin to squeeze through. So we had put a sticky trap right inside our attic door just to see if anything would happen. If a mouse was getting into our house from there, it would walk right into the trap first.

So that evening where we heard a loud clanging was when we realized that we caught something. That something ended up being a big fat rat. Yuck. It was causing a ruckus trying to get off the sticky trap.

Thankfully, I was the woman, so I felt zero obligation to deal with said rat. Logan, the man, thought it was a good idea to leave a live rat on a sticky trap in our attic overnight and just deal with it the next day. I informed him that rats gnaw off their feet if they need to and that there was no way he was leaving it there. I couldn’t help but picture a bloody mess the next morning. No thank you! (I have no idea where I learned that about rats and if it’s actually true, but I believe it. Rats are disgusting.)

Now, I love Logan, but sometimes he just doesn’t know how to handle a situation. He decided to leave the rat in our garage instead. In order to move it, though, he placed a bucket over the rat and then slid a piece of cardboard underneath. Logan brought the little vermin downstairs and left it in the garage, with the bucket still placed on top. You know, since a plastic bucket is really secure.

Needless to say, I didn’t dare open the door to the garage.

The next day, Logan’s dad came over to help him deal with the rat - which was still alive and stuck to the trap. They took it out in the yard, where his dad got ready to lift the bucket so Logan could shoot the rat with his pellet gun.

We live in Louisiana, where apparently the solution to everything animal-related is to just shoot it.

So, my father-in-law lifted the bucket just enough so Logan could take a shot at the poor rat. I don’t know if Logan missed the first time, or what, but the rat started to get off the trap a little, so his dad quickly put the bucket back over it. Logan tried getting the gun ready to shoot the rat again, but it got stuck. So while Logan is fiddling with the dang gun, the rat manages to get loose completely and takes off running.

Logan grabs the bucket and takes off running after the rat. It was probably one of the funniest things I’ve seen Logan do - and he makes me laugh a lot. I can still picture the rat bouncing up and down, making a beeline for our neighbor’s house, with Logan chasing after it. Hilarious, I tell you.

My dear husband wiped out on our neighbor’s carport trying to catch the rat, but picked himself up in time as the rat started to climb the wall of our neighbor’s house. Logan stealthily put the bucket over the rat, which was still on the wall, and he yelled at us to bring him the cardboard to slide underneath.

This time, Logan and his dad put the rat in a box so it couldn’t run off again. They finally killed it, and I just hoped that it would be the last time we had to deal with a rat.

I was wrong. Several months later we caught another one in the same spot. Since Logan did not want to repeat the last debacle with the rat running off, he decided to shoot the rat while it was still in our attic. That worked out much better.

After we caught that first rat, Logan added a door sweep to the attic door so they couldn’t get into our house anymore. I have no idea when that first rat pooped on my pillow, but I guess I’m just glad I wasn’t there to see it firsthand.

Sometimes in marriage, you deal with problems you never would have expected. And sometimes those problems pop up - or sneak in, like rats - over and over, perhaps without you even realizing at first. It could be financial problems, outside relationships, differences in beliefs - heck, curious rats that poop on your pillow - and you might not know what to do about them. It might take trial and error to figure out the best solution, and even then, it might not go away completely.

What I love about those unexpected problems, though, is that they provide the perfect opportunities to work together and get creative with possible solutions. And maybe you’ll even get to your see your spouse chasing after a rat in the process.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Love Languages Cont'd {day 9}

My guess is that most men consider Physical Touch and/or Words of Affirmation their top love languages. As far as physical touch is concerned, I should mention that it doesn’t just mean sex. Of course, guys love sex, but if your man wants physical touch, he wants it in other ways too!

Just like Words of Affirmation, Physical Touch feels really hard sometimes. I’m already not the type of person to go around hugging everybody, but having small kids all over me every single day means I’m touched out by the time Logan and I have time alone together. It’s even worse when I’m nursing a baby.

So, I try to focus on the little things. If you had told me before I got married just how much Logan likes me tapping him on the butt, I would have looked at you like you were nuts. But apparently, Logan likes butt taps.

Maybe Logan is just special, but just a simple tap or a random shoulder squeeze affects him instantly. He immediately stops what he’s doing, grabs me into a big hug, and sometimes refuses to let me go. It’s annoying, especially if I’m on my way to do something like take food out of the oven…but it’s also adorable.

Sometimes my knee-jerk reaction when Logan wants to touch me in some kind of way is to withdraw. I always think of a dozen other things I need to be doing at that moment, so I can’t help but be really annoyed that he’s distracting me.

I know my reaction - both mentally and physically - is bad. I try not to do it. Maybe I’ll finally enjoy physical touch when our kids are older and not smothering me all the time. But for now, it takes a lot of awareness and effort to 1) give Logan the physical touch he thrives on to feel love from me, and 2) remember that my threshold for physical touch is much, much lower than his.

But I am very thankful that I’m aware of the love languages and the fact that Logan and I have different ones. Without that awareness, Logan and I could very well be feeling very unloved and misunderstood by each other. It’s amazing how much of a difference such a simple concept can make in a relationship.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Love Languages {day 8}

I know I've talked about love languages before, but it's definitely important enough to talk about again!

I’m fairly certain that Logan and I would have a completely different marriage had it not been for me learning about the love languages. There’s a book called The Five Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman and the basic premise is that we all have one or two top love languages. We should strive to “speak” to our loved ones in the love languages that touch them the most.

Before reading that book, I never understood why Logan got so mad when he would try to hug me and I would pull away after a few seconds. Logan didn’t understand why I appreciated him washing the dishes or vacuuming more than I responded to his sweet compliments.

Well, now we know. His love languages are Physical Touch and Words of Affirmation, while mine are Acts of Service and Quality Time. He feels most loved when I touch him or compliment him, and I feel loved when he does things for me or spends time with me.

I first read the book when we hadn’t yet celebrated our first anniversary, and when Logan and I were having a conversation about which love languages were ours, I told him Acts of Service was my number one. He rolled his eyes and said, “Yeah, yours would be Acts of Service…”

Needless to say, it’s taken a lot of effort to focus on each other’s love languages, and we still have to be reminded of it sometimes. Honestly, I still struggle, because Logan’s love languages are not mine at all. I’m not a touchy feely person and I don’t care either way if I receive compliments or not. Logan, on the other hand, very much thrives on both of those things.

I’m not sure if it’s because my family wasn’t big on words of affirmation growing up, or because it’s just not my love language, but complimenting Logan and affirming him feels really hard sometimes. I feel silly saying that, because it doesn’t seem like it should be that hard. But it is! So I’ve learned to focus on ways that don’t feel as hard.

Thanks to a friend in my church’s mom group a couple years ago, I found an empty photo frame, printed out a piece of paper with the words “I love you because…” at the top and cut it to fit in the frame. I try to keep it next to Logan’s sink in the bathroom, where he will see it every single day, and use a dry erase marker on the glass to write him a new message whenever inspiration strikes. So he’s often pleasantly surprised by all the ways I love him - and it’s easier for me to affirm him that way because, well, I’m a writer. (Let me just admit that I go through phases where I’m really good at this and other phases when I, um, forget. But I definitely notice a difference in Logan when I do it!)
In that same vein, sometimes I send random text messages with cute Bitmojis (it’s a fun app) that say “I love you” or “Miss you” or something equally cheesy. Logan loves it. It’s something so simple but it makes a huge impact.

The trick is to find ways to speak your spouse’s love languages without it feeling like too much work. Obviously, marriage does take work, but by finding easier ways for me to show Logan love, it increases the likelihood that I will do it on a regular basis. And that means a happier marriage for the both of us.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

That time I bought my husband the dog of his dreams {day 7}

Logan and I are both dog people because we grew up with dogs. When we got married, we wanted to have a baby first, so we just assumed a dog would come later.

But since we lost our first baby in utero and it took longer than expected to get pregnant again, it didn’t end up that way. Our rental house we lived in at first didn’t have a yard, so it wasn’t until we bought a house 15 months into our marriage that I threw around the idea of surprising Logan with a dog.

Normally, I spend weeks agonizing over a decision and ultimately talk myself out of it because I think about all the negative aspects. This time, however, I randomly looked at ads for dogs while I was at work one day. Logan had always said he wanted a beagle, and I found a litter of beagle puppies for sale. I called the guy for more information, and then I asked a friend to ride with me to go see the puppies after work. It was totally impulsive, but for some reason I suddenly just really wanted to buy my husband the dog of his dreams.

My friend, Cortney, and I looked at all the puppies in the huge cage, and a black and brown one came right up to me. The guy let me hold her, and once I held that sweet, cute beagle in my arms, there was no putting her back. She chose me, and I chose her right back.

Logan and I already had plans to eat at his parents’ house for dinner that night, so I dropped off our new dog at their house so my father-in-law could give her a bath. Then I dropped off Cortney at her house before heading back to my house to meet up with Logan. He thought I had visited Cortney after work - which did have some truth to it - and was not suspicious of anything at all.

When we got to Logan’s parents’ house, he went to find his dad in their bedroom. My father-in-law had our puppy with him, and Logan stopped and said, “What the…whose dog is that?” His parents had recently bought a third dog, and he couldn’t believe that they bought another one. But I told Logan it was his dog, and he was so surprised! It didn’t take him long to decide on a name, Marley, and to fall in love with her. 

I’m so thankful I took a page out of Logan’s book by impulsively buying a dog that day. We had her for almost a year before I finally ended up pregnant again, so she was exactly what our hearts needed during that time of grief and trying to conceive.

To this day, she is still our furry baby who loves to cuddle and barks way too much. She loves our boys, and they love her, and we couldn’t imagine our life without her.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Discerning differently {day 6}

One thing that Logan and I have struggled with - and we have friends who’ve dealt with the same thing - is one of us feeling called to a particular endeavor or life change while the other is not.

There are dozens of examples, like trying to have another baby or moving to a different city/state/country, starting a business, you name it. Logan and I have had several situations come up over the years, but one of the early examples is when I was feeling called to become foster parents. Logan was not feeling that call.

We had only been married a year, so I know it sounded totally crazy. We were still dealing with the loss our our son, but I had finally got to a point where I stopped focusing on the fact that I didn’t have what I wanted (my son…or another pregnancy) and started to discern what God wanted me to learn from the situation.

I still remember it so clearly, over seven years later. It was one day during the summer, which meant I was off work for a couple months. I had just been thinking about how I felt like I could make a difference in my kids’ lives, if I had any, and wondered if maybe God wanted me to use this time to make a difference in other kids’ lives.

As I was driving later that day, I passed by a few kids playing outside. The thought of foster care popped into my head. I had no idea why. But the thought kept coming up, and I didn’t tell Logan for a few weeks because I was afraid that he would think I was crazy. I mean, I didn’t even know if I was hearing God correctly. Us, be foster parents? We were still living in a one-bedroom rental house at the time, which meant no room for foster children. We still weren’t making a whole lot of money. We still wanted children of our own.

But I couldn’t get the thought of foster care out of my mind, and as I was praying in an Adoration chapel one day, I kept sensing God saying, “Everything will fall into place.”

That same week, we looked at a house that we ended up buying two months later. It had 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms and plenty of space for children - specifically, foster children.

I had just started seeing a spiritual director too, who I talked to about the foster care thing. I told him how I didn’t think Logan and I would be on the same page. My spiritual director thought the situation was a perfect opportunity to work on our communication skills with each other - which I had realized needed some major improvement.

Within those two months of first seeing the house and signing the closing papers, I finally got the guts to talk to Logan about the possibility of being foster parents. He was adamantly opposed - at least at that point in time. He thought we were too young, that we didn’t have enough money, and that we’d get too attached to kids that wouldn’t necessarily stay with us forever. He could see us being foster parents eventually - just not then.

I can’t say I was surprised, but I was disappointed. Even though I totally saw where he was coming from, I told him that God would provide if He really was calling us to it. Logan asked me if God would tell both of us if we were being called to foster. I didn’t know the answer to that and told Logan that I also wasn’t sure how much he had prayed about it. Thankfully, he didn’t get offended by that and agreed to pray about it some more.

It was hard, feeling so called to something while it seemed like my husband felt the opposite. How would we get on the same page? Would we ever agree on the subject? It was a little frustrating, but I tried to focus on the fact that at least we were communicating a little better about it.

Eventually, Logan agreed to register for an orientation about becoming foster/adoptive parents. The whole topic went on the back burner for a month or so while we prepared to move into our new house.

The orientation was about a week after we moved into our new house. It answered a lot of our questions and explained the whole process of taking classes to become certified and everything else that came after that - a home study, a background check, etc.

As were were walking to our car after the orientation, Logan blurted out, “So yeah, I’d consider taking the class.”

You can imagine my shock - and excitement - at how Logan’s mind seemed to suddenly change. He wasn’t opposed to fostering anymore! I was thankful that he had prayed about it like I had asked and that God had given him peace about the situation.

To make a long story short, the process to become foster/adoptive parents was longer than we thought, more terrifying than we thought, and we ended up only fostering two children before we embarked on a rollercoaster ride of a high-risk pregnancy with our now oldest son, Landon. It’s hard to know why God called us to something for such a short time.

But we learned so much from the situation (that could be a whole separate post, honestly) and got a head start on the whole parenting gig. And as of now, we have three living children and wouldn’t mind another one in the future - but we aren’t exactly ready to deal with another crazy pregnancy. So becoming foster parents again is still a very real possibility, one that we’ve talked about recently. We’re thankful for our brief stint a few years ago, especially now that we have our own kids, because it has prepared us to know what to expect if we ever feel called to open our home to foster children again.

I wish I had some inspiring words to those of you who aren’t exactly on the same page with your spouse regarding a big life change. All I can say is to pray about it both individually and together, and to have faith that God will lead you both together, exactly where you need to go.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Loss {day 5}

Logan and I were ready to have a baby as soon as we were married. But since my fertility was, well, not normal, it seemed like we would have problems getting pregnant.

To our surprise, we conceived only two months after our wedding. We were thrilled! We were married in June, found out we were pregnant in August, and I started a new job in September that I loved. Life was good. We weren’t making a lot of money, but we were so, so happy.

Even though I struggled a lot with morning sickness (that lasted all day), I was so thankful for the life inside of me. Logan was also so adorable when it came to me and my pregnant self - he looked at me with so much love. He kept telling me how he appreciated me carrying our child, he would kiss my belly after he kissed me on the lips, and he would tell my belly “I love you” after he told me. Despite his excitement, though, Logan couldn’t help worrying about something happening to our baby.

But according to my doctor, the pregnancy was going along swimmingly. A couple weeks into the second trimester, I finally started feeling better. When I was 19 weeks pregnant, we found out our baby was a boy! We decided to name him Levi Anthony and were even more excited to meet him a few months later. Christmas came and it was the best holiday we had celebrated as a couple thus far, and we couldn’t wait until the following Christmas when we would have a baby in our arms.

Just four days after Christmas, though, we ended up in the hospital. After several terrible hours of cramping, contractions, and bleeding, I delivered our son. He didn’t have a heartbeat. There are no words to explain the pain we felt that day and the months (and years) that followed.

At the time, Logan and I hadn’t even been married for seven months yet. We knew marriage would have its ups and downs, but still, we were completely blindsided by the loss of our son. It didn’t help that people kept telling us the statistics for divorce for couples who lost a child. Hadn’t we lost enough already? Was our marriage really doomed too?

Because Logan and I have very different personalities - as well as the fact that I was the one who carried Levi in my womb and Logan did not - we grieved very differently. I cried a lot and felt like I would never be happy again. Logan seemed to be handling it much better than me, so I didn’t tell him everything that was going on inside me.
Holding our precious baby. It still kills me to look at this picture because Logan obviously did a better job at smiling than me...but I'm very thankful to have this. Our first family picture ❤️

I did journal about all of my struggles, though (and this whole blog exists because of it!). Because I couldn’t bring myself to actually say those things out loud, Logan ended up just reading what I wrote and we talked after that.

That’s when I really started to see the beauty of the Sacrament of Marriage - Logan made sure I knew that I was not going through this loss alone. I felt like I was falling further and further away from God, so Logan made it his goal to not let that happen. After all, our main goal of marriage is to get each other to Heaven. Sometimes it feels so impossible, but maybe that’s part of why we go through certain trials - to remind us to help each other.

Logan told me that day, almost two weeks after we lost Levi, that he wished he could have gone through everything with me at the hospital (since poor guy felt so helpless just watching me in pain all night), but I told him, “I wouldn’t have wanted you to.” Because really, my hospital experience is something I wouldn’t wish on anyone - especially not my husband.

Even though losing our son was harder than I ever would have imagined, I couldn’t help but feel so blessed to have Logan as my other half. I couldn’t imagine going through that tragic time without him. It was only after pouring my heart out to him - and realized he wasn’t going anywhere - that I finally felt I could start on the path towards healing.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

The Honeymoon is Over {day 4}

Two days after our wedding, Logan and I were in Florida to spend the rest of the week there for our honeymoon. The resort we were staying at had an extra key, and there were instructions to put it in a key pad outside – just in case we needed it. It was a smart move on the owner's part, since it would lessen the likelihood of him needing to drive over and let people in if they got locked out.

I reminded Logan to put the spare key outside as instructed, and since he tends to blow things off, he ignored me, acting like we wouldn't need an extra key.

Later that day, we walked outside to open a bottle of champagne. It was our first time opening a bottle and we wanted to play it safe. Logan started to close the door, but I told him not to close it all the way (you know, in case it locked somehow). But like I said before, Logan blew it off and let the door close all the way.

It didn't take him long to realize we were locked out since he had left his key on the kitchen table - along with the spare key, which should have been in the key pad outside.

To say I was upset with Logan was a major understatement. He should have listened to me! He should have just put the dang key in the pad!

Looking back, I'm not sure why I didn't just put the spare key in the key pad myself, but it was still really annoying how Logan ignored me. Twice, at that. On our second full day or marriage! I hated that we needed to call the owner to come let us back into our resort, when the spare key would have done it for us.

I took a walk to refrain from saying mean things, and I sat down on some steps (far away from Logan) for a little while. Suddenly I was bombarded by all of these bad thoughts – I doubted our marriage, I doubted my call to the married life, and I doubted whether or not we were cut out for a life together. The devil was taking the perfect opportunity to throw so many evil thoughts in my head. It was crazy.

Thankfully, I realized what was happening, so I prayed for the grace to be a good wife and to keep God at the center of our life together. I ended with the prayer to St. Michael, and God really did help me overcome those evil thoughts.

I wish I had known back then that that was just the first of many, many times that I would question our marriage and my vocation. Sure, I knew marriage was going to have its hard moments, but I felt completely blindsided at just how hard it was at times.

For some reason, people don’t warn newlyweds that there might come a time where you regret getting married. That sometimes you will look at your beloved spouse and wonder what the heck happened to him since you said those blissful vows. I certainly don’t blame people for avoiding all of that when giving their well wishes and congratulations to the blushing bride and groom. Maybe it’s because if people really knew how hard it was, nobody would get married.

The divorce statistics say a lot though - half of all marriages end. Before I got married, I didn’t understand. How could you vow to love someone for better or for worse, in sickness and health, and then decide otherwise later on? How could you just suddenly change your mind one day?

It took me less than two weeks into marriage to understand that sharing every facet of your life with another human being is much harder than it seems.

A mere nine days after our wedding, once the honeymoon was over, and we were settling into our new life as a married couple, I wrote these words in my journal:
I think Logan and I are in for some rough times. It’s just a feeling (and I could be wrong), but I know we’ll make it through because we’re determined to keep God in the center of our marriage.
Boy, if I only knew what was to come.
The rest of our honeymoon was a blast, thankfully!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Opposites Attract {day 3)

It really is true what they say - opposites attract. I knew when Logan and I were dating that there were many ways that we were completely different. But I didn’t worry about it all too much because we also had plenty in common.

Somebody should have told me that those opposite qualities of ours would be magnified in marriage. Because wow, I didn’t realize just how much Logan brushed things off while I obsessed over every little thing. Or how much he procrastinates on everything while I would much rather do something sooner rather than later. Or how much he focuses more on the past while I can’t help but worry about the future. Or how much he would rather dance and have a good time while I would rather sit and read a good book. (Obviously, he is an extrovert and I'm an introvert - sanguine/choleric and melancholic/phlegmatic, respectively, if you're familiar with the temperaments.)

The funny thing is, we’ve switched roles in many ways. Now I’m the one telling Logan not to worry about something when he is agonizing over something that is out of his control. Now I’m just as likely to start a random dance party in our kitchen while he looks at me like I’ve lost my mind. Now he is better about stopping to pray about something together when I’m so frazzled I hadn’t even thought to pray until he mentioned it.

Opposites attract, that’s for sure. But in the beginning of a relationship, it’s fun to be with someone who is so different from you. Years later, though, it can get kind of old. It’s hard not to get tired of telling your spouse over and over to please take out the garbage instead of waiting until the next day because he will inevitably forget. Logan still gets so annoyed when he’s trying to shower me with affection and I’m just so not interested. (I have a problem, I know.)

But being so different has helped us both grow, and we've learned to [mostly] appreciate our differences. I also know it’s the constant oppositeness that keeps things interesting, and for that, I’m grateful.
Circa 2006, I think? An accurate depiction of our marriage sometimes 😉

Monday, October 2, 2017

High School Sweethearts {day 2}

I’m not sure I would have married Logan had it not been for my chemistry teacher in high school. We had gone to school together since the first grade, but we didn’t really talk to each other until our junior year in high school. Our chemistry teacher, Ms. B, assigned new seats halfway through the year, in January, and she put me next to Logan.

By March, it became clear that we liked each other. He made me laugh a lot and we always had fun together - even though we both hated chemistry.

We spent more and more time together, and in May, Logan got down on one knee and asked me to be his girlfriend. It was adorable, and of course I said yes!

It wasn’t even a month before I realized that I could see myself marrying him. We didn’t say “I love you” to each other for several more months, but I knew early on that I loved him. I never knew how kids so young could say those words to another person until I started dating Logan.

We had our ups and downs for sure. It was mainly me - I broke up with him not once, but twice, when we were in college. I was busy with nursing school and still felt called to discern a religious vocation, among other things.

When I was a junior in college, though, I discerned that God was indeed calling me to marriage with Logan. It was almost 4 years since we first started dating, so we got back together with the intention of getting married. Logan proposed less than 7 months later, and we were married just 10 months after that.

It still seems crazy to me that we started dating in high school. Yet, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love looking back at over a decade of photos and seeing Logan in so many of them. It was so much fun attending our high school reunion together. We've grown so much, been through so much, and I'm so thankful that we unexpectedly got to know each other back in the spring of 2004.

On our last day of high school, Logan and I made sure to go visit our chemistry teacher and thank her for assigning us seats next to each other. I think Ms. B made a joke that day about us getting married eventually, and I wish we had some way to let her know that we actually did get married. Teachers can impact our lives in more ways than we thought!
Logan and me for our senior year Homecoming dance

Sunday, October 1, 2017

31 Days of Marriage Fun {day 1}

Well. Here we go. I’m attempting to post every day this month! All on the topic of marriage. (Logan reads all of these posts, don't worry.) Hold onto your hats! -Jen

After a few years of blogging and reading other blogs, mainly in the Catholic blogosphere, I realized that not many people were writing about marriage.

I can understand why, though. It’s hard to share all of those hard moments that happen within the walls of your house when it seems like everyone else’s marriage is picture perfect. Sometimes it feels like you’re the only one struggling and wondering why nobody told you marriage was going to be this hard.

Well, I’m here to tell you that marriage is amazing, terrifying, and downright infuriating. I’ve had the best moments of my life with my husband, and I’ve also had the worst moments of my life with him.

I’m losing count of the number of times I hear about a married couple - who I thought was doing fine - suddenly separate and divorce. Many of these were close to our family and left us devastated. The reasons for divorce are numerous - addiction, infidelity, financial struggles, just to name a few. Even though the causes are different, one thing is the same - nobody on the outside saw it coming.

Why does this keep happening? Why do seemingly perfect marriages fall apart out of nowhere?

I wish I had more of an answer than “marriages takes work.” It does, of course, but I know that’s not very helpful (especially when abuse is involved…not always a situation that can be reconciled).

While this month will certainly not contain a bunch of marital advice (well, there is some…), I do feel called to share our story. Several days will just be funny stories from our marriage, but I’ll share some tough situations too. I hope our experiences and insights will be helpful and that sharing our stories and reflecting on them will be a source of encouragement for those who need it - and maybe a source of laughter too.

And don’t worry, I’ll keep most of them short and sweet. 😉

Monday, September 25, 2017

Instant Pot recipes {five favorites}

I mentioned in one quick take in my last post that I was loving the Instant Pot (IP), and was reallllly tempted to include a bunch of recipes but thought it'd probably be better as its own post. Which I'm really glad I decided to do, because Ashley brought back the Five Favorites link-up! A couple of these can be used in a crockpot too, FYI. And if you don't have an IP some of this is gonna sound weird. Sorry.

So! I honestly haven't tried too, too many recipes because I just really love the ones we've done so far. Here are 5 of my favorites:

1. Boiled eggs

If you get an Instant Pot and you don't know where to start, just boil some eggs. There a million ways to do it, but this is what I do and it's worked perfectly every time: Put 1/2 cup water in the pot, put in steaming basket thingy with eggs on top. 4 minutes high pressure (HP), 4 minutes natural pressure release (NPR), open vent and then ice bath those precious babies for 4 min (or just run water over them, whatevs)
Aaron approves!

2. Pulled pork

I get those huge pork shoulders from Costco that are about 15 pounds (about $30). It took me some trial and error to figure out the best way to cook that much meat, but now I got it! This is my go-to party food.
Seasoned, browned and ready to cook on HP!

I freeze half (because it's like 2 big pieces), and I cut up the other half into big chunks. Season those suckers - I'm in Louisiana so I use Tony Chachere's. Holler. You can brown all the pork pieces in the IP first but I actually forgot last time and it still was fine. Put the meat in your IP with a cup of broth (I used chicken) and cook on HP for 90 min. NPR, then shred and eat on baked potatoes or buns with BBQ sauce! We have plenty leftover (since it's 7-8 lbs) so I freeze some in smaller portions for future meals. Easy peasy. (Get you a FoodSaver, for reals.)

3. Baked potatoes

Speaking of baked potatoes...I'll never go back to doing them in the oven. You use the steam basket thingy - okay, steam rack is the technical name in the manual, just looked it up - to put the potatoes on. One cup water, HP for 10 min, NPR for 20 min. Top these babies with some pulled pork (that I just pull out of the freezer 😎), or just butter and cheese (which we do on Fridays).

4. Chicken Tortilla Soup

This one is probably our all-time fave. I've made it so many times in the last 2 months! The original recipe is here, and also has instructions for the crockpot (which I haven't tried because IP is awesome) but I change it a little. Instead of the chipotle chili in adobo sauce, I just get the diced tomatoes (which is also an ingredient) with chiles. I've also left out the cilantro and it's still good.
Add you some cheese, people! And chips! Avocado would be yummy too but they're just so dang expensive these days...

5. Salsa Chicken

I used to do this in the crockpot all the time - just boneless chicken topped with salsa, 3 hours on High or 6 hours on low. Serve on tortillas with cheese. But I just tried it in the IP and it took less than an hour total so that will be my new method. Here's an official recipe if that's your jam but basically, cook on HP for 20 min, NPR, then the shred chicken. I doubled the recipe because we like leftovers around here (it means less cooking!). It was a little juicy so maybe make sure you get really chunky salsa. Or make your own. That's cool.

Okay, fellow IP users - what's your fave recipes??

Edited to add: Shoot! I forgot one! One of our absolute faves (I can't believe I forgot about it) is Honey Bourbon Chicken. So just pretend I put that in the place of baked potatoes, mmkay? I only use a half cup of honey, by the way, and we eat it over rice.

Friday, September 22, 2017

YNAB, Instant Pot, and freaky owls (7QT)

I haven't done quick takes since June! Joining Kelly for the party once again.

1. Instant Pot

My mom, who already had an Instant Pot, found a really good deal on one so she got it for my birthday this summer. At first I was totally intimidated by it, but um, it's amazing. I've basically been doing the same recipes over and over, because cooking is just so not my thing. But the Instant Pot totally helps! Oh, and it makes the best boiled eggs ever! We've also done baked potatoes a few times too. So, so easy.

2. Goodwill finds

After Logan found a cute (and cheap) dress for me at Goodwill, he keeps wanting to go look for more. Ha. We stopped by one recently when clothing was half off and got SO much stuff for only $12! Half of which we really needed and the other half was just for fun.
This is my second successful Goodwill outfit. $4 total. *fist bump* Okay, honestly, I'm still not sure how I feel about the shirt (it does this weird droopy thing at the neckline that is definitely not my style) but Logan loves it so wearing it made him happy. It's the little things, people.

3. YNAB (You Need a Budget)

If you haven't heard of it, it's basically a budgeting online system. I'm not terrible at budgeting, but because I'm a very detail-oriented, handling our finances was just taking up too much of my time and too much of my brain power. Enter YNAB! It's basically saving my life right now. I really have the confidence that we can slowly, slowly reach those financial goals we've been wanting because it tracks everything. There is a bit of a learning curve but they offer online workshops which are so, so helpful.

Logan and I both have the app which means I don't need to pester Logan about what tips he made at work or what he spends money on - he just puts it in the app! Life-changing, I tell you.

So yeah, I definitely recommend it if you need help with either budgeting or tracking all of your income/expenses. You can sign up for a free trial (which we did at first), so just try it! If you use my referral link and end up signing up for good, we both get a free month. 😁 (Although, seriously, I had no issues paying the $50 yearly fee because it's that helpful!)

4. Ugh, Facebook

Small PSA: deactivating your account doesn't actually do anything. I had a few people say they could still see my profile and invite me to FB invites and all, so I logged back in to see what the deal was. After a little research, it looks like other people had the same problem. So, I dunno. I guess I'm still on Facebook (mainly for the groups and the blog) but so far I've been able to set limitations. I still haven't gotten back on Instagram and honestly haven't decided if I will yet. (I love me some IG but I'm just really terrible at moderation so sometimes it's easier to abstain completely. Bad, I know.)

5. 31 days of blogging

I don't know why I'm even CONSIDERING this, but some people blog everyday in October (usually on the same topic) and the thought of doing it this year is really intriguing me. Am I crazy? Should I do it? I'm a little torn....I struggle with following blogs that post every.single.day, so I don't want to turn people off. But I also think blogging every day will be good for my writing soul. But then I don't want to stress out about it either.
Thoughts?? I thought I had a topic but then I thought of two more ideas so now I just don't know.

6. My new friend

One day last week I noticed a crapload (ha) of bird poop on our driveway, as well as on our van (SO ANNOYING), so I looked up.
This guy (or gal?) was staring us down. What the heck? What happened to owls being asleep during the day? I was a tad bit paranoid about the thing swooping down and attacking the boys, because it was seriously staring us down, but I'm hoping it will be happy with the million squirrels and other small creatures in our backyard.

I'm not gonna lie, though....it's kinda cute. I think I will name it Howie. 

7. Christmas shopping

I've always had the goal of completing alllll of my Christmas shopping before Advent starts. Although I got pretty close once, I still haven't done it yet. WELL. This is my year. I'm over halfway done already, I have ideas for most of the remaining gifts and are just waiting for the funds. I'm hoping to be done in October, which sounds completely crazy, but then that'll give me time to figure out what we're doing for Advent.

Ooh, Advent. I can't wait! Especially if I don't have to worry about Christmas shopping!

Have a great weekend everyone!


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