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Category: Womanhood

The Story of a Party: a Lesson in Solidarity

A birthday party. This was the place where it all hit me.

The morning began with an awakening from Superman before he left for a work training, followed immediately by Little Miss joining me in my bed, excitedly talking about all the things the day held, including her bestie’s birthday party. Her bestie’s mom and I are approaching 20 years of friendship, having met in high school chemistry sophomore year (this is important later).

Mere hours later, I sat in the lobby while they served cake and ice cream, while tears that I fought to keep in multiple times that morning declared their victory, spilling over the boundaries of my eyelids. I tried to rein it in and stop it. I typed out my feelings in a text I intended to send to no one as the song Superman and I danced to at our wedding played, coincidentally.

My oldest friend, who is also one of the truest friends you could ever hope to have, left the party while her husband served the cake, came into the lobby, pulled up a chair beside me and said, “What’s up? Just tired? Everything okay?” Cue the floodgates.

What led me here?

It’d been a rough few weeks.

At seven months pregnant, I entered into a weird phase where I was tired, made to feel ridiculously uncomfortable, and then overwhelmed by insomnia.

Little Miss had a marathon of sickness and that week was the first in two months she’d been well enough to feel like herself again rather either fighting an illness, recovering from one, or catching another.

Superman had additional responsibilities added to his plate and struggled with the balancing act of those plus our commitments, his fatherhood, working out, and our marriage (not necessarily in that order, though).

I’d been trying to put on a happy face. I wanted to support my husband as he tried to work through the stress to make sense of it. I wanted to say yes to Little Miss’s requests to go outside and play. I wanted to put their needs before mine this week; so, I did.

The happy face began to show signs of age, from it being on so long. Cracks formed. I ignored this and forged on.

Then on Friday, I was hit with a double-whammy: I made a fairly large error at work that ended up resolving itself, but it isn’t the caliber of my work and I was sorely disappointed in myself. The second hit? We had a family event at church that we were all looking forward to and Superman ended up missing it due to working until 9:45 that night.

Saturday

So there I was, being hit with all of the stressors and emotions that I’d previously forced under the happy face mask. And it broke.

So there I sat with my back-in-the-day bestie.

“I’m just being stupid.” I began.

“What’s up?” she asked.

“I’m just…” I trailed. See, even in this moment when there was no point in trying to hide it, I was still looking for the sugarcoated version. But she looked at me with real concern and genuine friendship. “I’m just so tired. I’m also hormonal and pregnant, and I feel like I haven’t actually seen my husband other than to sleep in days…” I spilled everything to her.

She nodded and consoled. She didn’t offer advice, but she did offer something else: solidarity.

Solidarity

Superman and I are still new at this marriage thing, having only been married a little over a year. My dear friend and her husband are 10.5 years into their marriage. He’s been working a night shift and she’s a teacher. Like us, they have an eight year-old daughter.

She was honest with me. “It’s hard. Sometimes, I don’t want to watch TV, I just want to BE with my husband. It’s hard to do that right now, but we’re finding balance—and almost eleven years in we’re still totally in love with each other, so…”

She was smiling. We laughed.

A Need to Be Vulnerable

Y’all, we need to have friends.

This vocation isn’t about isolation. It is so important to have someone that you can go to when you need to vent. There need to be people in your life that you allow yourself to be vulnerable with, never putting on the happy face mask to begin with.

This friend was that person today. Superman is often that person. Rachel has been that person for me before, as have Bridgette, my brother, and my parents at different intervals.

If you don’t have that support, email us, please. Or better yet, find us in the Hail Marry Hangout on Facebook so that you can have a community to chat with. We may not have all the answers, but we sure can listen and we can offer your solidarity.

Balance

Obviously, having read this post, you’re aware that the balancing act of daily life isn’t one we’re currently winning. But I think that finding balance starts with admitting that something in your life is off. I think you need to allow yourself to say that you’re stressed or unhappy or less-than-enthused about something.

Balance, therefore, begins in communication. Tell your husband how you’re feeling rather than keeping it all inside. I’m begging you.

Give Grace

Allow yourself to respond to things with the emotion you’re feeling. You don’t need to hide behind the mask of another emotion. It’s okay to not have it all together 100% of the time. You’re not perfect. That’s totally okay.

Today I’m not writing this post as an expert on anything.

I’m writing it as a fellow wife, in the same trenches, trying to find my way.

I hope this encourages you on a dark day: you aren’t alone.

All the love,

Kristi

Reflecting on Our Marriages 2017

If you’ve been following our blog for a while, then you know that Rachel and I are awesome friends. You may also know that we love all things fall, including pumpkins, the changing of the leaves, boots, and scarves. Further, you may be aware that we both met our husbands on CatholicMatch and then I met mine after being urged by Rachel to join CatholicMatch. You can read about our successes in the world of online dating here.

What you may not know is that we were both married in the fall. I’ve just celebrated my first year of marriage with Superman exactly one month ago, and Rachel’s third with the Scientist was last week. In honor of these anniversaries, and remembering why we founded this blog to begin with, which was to support the vocation of marriage as understood within the Catholic Church, we thought we would reflect on our marriage journeys thus far.

Our Marriages 2017

2017 was a very big year for both of us…as was 2016…and we met in 2015…2018 is shaping up to be quite the year, too, so, really…we’ve been pretty busy since we met!

2015: The meeting of Rachel and Kristi at a Catholic Daughters of the Americas meeting. The joining of CatholicMatch by Kristi. The first anniversary for Rachel and the Scientist. Babies born into Heaven. Just barely the year that Kristi and Superman met online (like, December 30).

2016: The meeting of Rachel, the Scientist, Kristi, and Superman. The premature stillbirth of Rachel’s son, Tripp. The engagement and wedding of Kristi and Superman. The second anniversary for Rachel and the Scientist. The “familymoon” with Little Miss.

2017:  The conception, premature birth, and loss of Rachel’s daughter, Frances. The career change of Superman. The conception of Kristi’s second daughter, Belle. More babies born into Heaven. The first anniversary of Kristi and Superman. The third anniversary of Rachel and the Scientist. Kristi moving.

As you can see, there’s been a lot that could’ve weighed very heavily on our marriages. How’d we do? Read on!

Kristi’s Marriage 2017

Last October, I walked into my parish ready to marry this wonderful, hilarious, sensitive, kind-hearted, Catholic man. I felt not one trace of nerves: we just fit. Not everything went according to plan, but it was the perfect day. (If you’re interested, you can read my open letter to my bride self on Spoken Bride here).

One year in and I am happy to report that we are busy, sometimes overwhelmed, and unable to function without a family dry-erase board calendar; but we are happy.

We were both single into our thirties, so our ways were pretty set when we met. Luckily, though, we complement one another perfectly. He’s a champion launderer of all the fabric and I am a decent dishwasher of all things containing food. Holidays have become a manageable, streamlined, stress-free thing (for this year, at least). Money is still something that can be a topic of tension: I mean, who really enjoys budgeting?! Otherwise, though, our life experience alone blends together to create the family that I’d always hoped for as a young woman.

We laugh constantly. I can’t emphasize enough how much I think that matters in marriage. Humor, levity, and community are all joined together in laughter.

We’re balancing work-home life, keeping up with our eight year-old Little Miss, moving (this week!), and expecting our second daughter in the spring. We like to think that we’ll slow down eventually, but that’s never really been our style. I am so psyched to see what we encounter in the rest of our second year of marriage.

Rachel’s Marriage 2017

The morning of November 21st, 2014 was beautiful and calm. I was up getting ready for my wedding to my best friend and soulmate.

I waited a long time for him to come along; I went down many wrong paths trying to find him. It was when I stopped searching for all the wrong places, I found my perfect-to-me mate for life.

That day went by in a flash; it felt like no time had passed and I was walking down the aisle. Our wedding was beautiful; it was on a Friday night. We had a full Mass and the pictures that my cousin-in-law took were breathtaking. It was our dream wedding and the party afterward went by way too quick.

The first year of marriage was tough on us. I know that in the marriage prep course (and advice from everyone) is that every day you should be working on your marriage. I had no idea what that meant, or the intensity of that, until I was married. I did not realize that my usual patient self (anyone who knows me would laugh) would have to compromise. The little things that we used to argue about: dishwasher manners, watching cool TV (not lame things); all those things were worked out that first year. It was quite a learning curve for both of us. We learned a lot about ourselves that first year and how to work through all the little things.

The second year was the year we really came together as a couple. We found our boundaries with each other and others. This was a big expectation and goal for us last year. Boundaries make good relationships great! We really started to pare down on what we were going to outside of our home. Too many extra activities made us worn out and crabby. When we slowed down it was as if we were courting again and finding our love all over again. It is such a sweet feeling.

The third year? 2017? Well since we have been married, we have faced a lot of hardships, tragedy, and emotional toil. We have been really fortifying as a couple to face these things with the power of God. God truly knew what he was doing when he put us together. The Scientist always knows how to encourage me, comfort me, and make me laugh. He always says that I bring joy, happiness, and fun into his everyday life. In real life, I am kind of a goofball and he is such handsome goof. Our life together is blessed and I am lucky to spend the rest of my life with him.

Feminine Genius: the Gift of Sensitivity

This post is a part of a Feminine Genius series written by four different bloggers. If you are just joining the series now and want to learn more you can start here: Introduction to the Feminine Genius Series. The series will conclude on November 27. Want more? Last week’s post was Receptivity at Little Tabernacle and next week’s will be on Generosity at Strengthen My Heart. This post features a giveaway from Rose Harrington. This giveaway is now closed. Please keep reading to find out more!

Sensitivity

I am going to say that the topic of sensitivity is probably my favorite!  First things first I would love to explain Feminine Genius expression.

From the Endow Bible Study A Letter to Women:

“Pope Saint John Paul II instituted the adage, Feminine Genius. It speaks to a woman’s capacity to make room for “the other.” This capacity manifests itself in four different areas: receptivity, sensitivity, generosity, and maternity.”

That is a little wordy; my interpretation is that our Feminine Genius has four major topics that our true dignity as women shines in our everyday lives. How we as women use this wonderful sensitivity trait to lighten the world.

Sensitivity, according to Webster’s dictionary, is as follows:

“having or displaying a quick and delicate appreciation of others feelings.”

I used to view being sensitive as a bad thing. When I was small, I was labeled for being sensitive and a crybaby; it wasn’t until I was an adult and saw how my sensitivity made me a better person and set me apart.

Power in Sensitivity

Sensitivity is power trait; it makes you see beyond the walls others put up. It enables you to see when a friend is hurting, a child is frustrated, or a hubby who just has a ball of anxiety in his heart. Possessing this trait is an awesome superpower. I know how cliché this sounds but I’ve said it before on the blog, and I want to say it again now anyway: “With great power comes great responsibility.”  Uncle Ben from Spider-Man.

It is true. God gave us the awesome gift to share and to offer others comfort, advice, or a voice.

Using Your Voice

I am passionate about the pro-life cause. I am a product of adoption. I grew up with an awesome family. My family and I are forever grateful to my biological mom for choosing life. She gave me a voice and an opportunity to do God’s Will.

With that one choice from her (and a lot of training from my mom), I grew up advocating for the voiceless.

I am a heavenly mother to multiple children and my hubby and I do not have any children on this earth. My voice is forever going to be for the babies that never got a chance. My voice is in constant prayers that the mothers that are choosing this hard decision will turn around and give their child up to a willing family. I know that, personally, I would take any child into my home that needed to be cared and loved on.

I want to challenge you to use your voice for good.

Sensitivity is always a good thing whether for comforting, giving Godly advice, or for fighting for basic human needs when others cannot.

It is an awesome gift and, as women, we all have this gift.

~Rachel

One lucky reader will win an 8×10” print which depicts Edith Stein’s quote, “The world doesn’t need what women have, it needs what women are.” Hand painted and digitized, the design is printed by a local printer on 100 lb white linen paper for a classy, elegant finish.

Sensitivity Feminine Genius Rose Harrington Giveaway Old Fashioned Girl

Katrina Harrington is the designer behind the shop, Rose Harrington. The shop began with early morning hour musings back in December 2014. It was created to fill a void that Katrina had found in the art world. She desired hand-lettered designs and prints of Scripture and inspirational quotes, but couldn’t find any. The self-taught painter decided to create the own shop as a way to offer beauty and support her family. Today she is exploring the depth of historical flower theology and Mary Gardens, leading her to create botanical rosary art. Each piece is hand painted (usually with a child on Katrina’s lap!) and printed at high quality shops in the United States. 

Check out the giveaway here on Rafflecopter! This giveaway is now closed. Congrats to our winner!

Please support this beautiful Catholic artisan and continue to join us in the Feminine Genius Series. 

Emotions & Recouping after Loss

​This week will feature a series of posts from Rachel on her losses in honor of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. 

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your heart be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

 

Frances

 

I remember the day that I lost Frances. It was very still. When I woke up that morning I knew something was going to happen. The worry seemed to overcome me, I was asking everyone for prayers and trying to discern what to do. Now, looking back, the whole day’s gray to me.

 

My craving for a Steak N’ Shake Frisco Melt and chili cheese fries was really strong. It seemed my body was in constant pain and that was all I wanted to eat. After discerning, I decided to wait until The Scientist got home to go into the hospital. The pain seemed to be coming in waves; little did I know I was in labor.

 

When I got to the hospital, I made sure to keep in contact with my mom and Kristi, keeping them updated so they could update everyone else. Frances was born. She was beautiful and looked exactly like me, freckles and all.

 

My heart still aches for all of my children.

 

That day I was filled with anxiety and today I realized that my faith at that moment wasn’t strong. I was trying to control the situation.

 

So Emotional

 

Emotions, in my experience, are intense and they suck.

 

When I got home, I was filled with emotions of failure, guilt, anger, sadness, happiness, and the feeling of being judged. Lots of unhelpful advice came regarding waiting, not trying again, adopting, and just being content with it being me and my husband. These emotions and advice lead my thoughts away from the path they were on. 

 

Sometimes people don’t really understand that words, and sometimes actions, can help a person think a certain way. Emotions are tough because they are charged by the moment.

 

“The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it.” Jeremiah 17:9

 

Hearts can be deceived, and my heart was definitely being led astray. And it was hurt. In my mind, I know that everyone who said and did judgmental, inappropriate, hurtful things to me; they didn’t intentionally mean to hurt my heart.

 

The truth is your heart after losing a child is going to be sad, sensitive, and it will not be true.

 

Recouping

 

How does one heal and lead their heart and emotions back to the truth? 

 

For me, the first thing I had to do was to give up all of my anxiety, hurt feelings, feelings of guilt, sadness, and anger to God. I sat and prayed and then I kept on repeating this process until I felt lighter. When God is in control of your mind and your mouth, it seems that your heart will follow. God showed me in his time and wisdom what he has planned for me every step of the way.

 

Through all of these traumatic situations, I have come to rely on God more. He showed me through my pain that my vocation is important to my own household.

 

Another thing I have learned is patience; with people and myself.

 

Learning to control my own thoughts and words has really strengthened my relationships. 

 

The only advice I can give is to pray and to wait in the stillness for God’s answers. He will always provide and he will always answer.

St. Francis of Assisi & the Franciscan Sisters of Dillingen

It’s October 4! That means that today we celebrate St. Francis of Assisi! A man who cast aside all his wealth (and garments, too!…read the story if you’re unfamiliar) to build a religious, Gospel-driven life, restore the church, and be Jesus to the least in his day: lepers. Known as the patron saint of animals, many parishes offer a pet blessing today. St. Francis, pray for us!

St. Francis…a Legacy

I think, though, that the true legacy of St. Francis should not be in his treatment of and love for animals; nor, even, should it be in his famous “make me a channel of your peace” prayer or his Canticle of the Sun. It should be, especially in this month and in this culture, his upholding of a human’s inherent right to life with dignity.

For those of you who are unaware, lepers were highly contagious, almost certainly a death sentence, and made to live as outsiders and sub-humans in the culture of the time. Francis bathed them, fed them, clothed them, and gave them something no one else would: a few moments of his time.

Many saints have been Franciscan, and it is this St. Francis from whom our pope chose his moniker. Several orders have also been founded under the patronage of St. Francis, and why not? He’s quite an inspiration.

The Franciscan Sisters of Dillingen

We recently stumbled across the Franciscan Sisters of Dillingen in the United States through the blogosphere. They continue St. Francis’s legacy of treating humans…as humans, and provide many resources on their website through videos, prayers, retreats, and a blog.

I think that, sometimes, we see sisters as out-of-reach and unrelatable to those of us in the marriage-wife-and-motherhood vocation. We’re wrong to think that. Just look at this blog post from the sisters entitled “No Time for Baking?'” and you’ll see that they have so much in common with us!

I humbly submit to you, on this feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, to go read some of their blog posts, check out their website, and consider donating to their mission. It is, after all, Respect Life Month, and helping them in their mission will help us all be the hands and feet of Christ.