I just got back from an excellent weekend women’s retreat with our mom’s group. We studied the book of Philippians, which is relatively short in length but loooong in depth of what’s being said. My conclusion? Sometimes, you just need coffee and Jesus.
On this retreat, we had a LOT of quiet and reflective time where I was able to look inward; at myself, my role as wife and mom, and my life in general. I realized that my entire approach to life in this season is to be rushed. Everything is a series of checklists, including my time spent in relationships (with Little Miss, with Superman, and with God). I’m doing it wrong. I need to be still.
I Call Redo
In January, I committed to praying every morning. We’ve even outlined how we do it in a podcast on morning offerings and a post about routines. Like we sometimes do with Lent, I was trying to be this person with a perfect, grand transformation, but I didn’t seriously apply it to my mornings in practice: it was predominantly theoretical.
Coffee and Jesus
The plan is simple. I get up and make the coffee to ease into the world of demands. It acclimates my body to the morning. Then I do what’s basically the coffee for my soul: I spend time in the Word of God.
I log onto my Gmail and read my Blessed is She daily devotional email (sign up here to receive it, too!). It’s got the daily readings as well as a reflection. I could stop there, but that’s not what happens.
We’re called to have a relationship with our Savior, where prayer is a conversation.
So, I open my Bible and look over these readings again, delving into the footnotes and cross-references where I can find similar things repeated in other books of the Bible. This is one way God talks to us.
Then I write my thoughts in my prayer journal. My questions, my comments, my joys and frustrations, and my petitions. And then I sip my coffee, and I’m energized in body and mind, soul and spirit.
My prayer for you today, dear friends, is that you take some time to be still, and spend time with Jesus. Coffee optional.
Rachel is back! Yesterday, we were fortunate enough to hang out with #CoolCatholicWomen list-maker Allison Gingras of Reconciled to You, who also hosts a radio show on Breadbox Media called A Seeking Heart with Allison Gingras. We had some technical difficulties, but were able to chat for nearly an hour and get to know her a little bit better.
This week’s FIAT podcast will be replaced by a podcast of our time on the radio show. You can check it out here. We’ll be back next week to discuss the Benedict Option on FIAT.
Kristi & Rachel
Today marks five whole months! since Superman and I said “I do.” It totally snuck up on the both of us, but it’s exciting! In these five months, we’ve made some things “our own.” In addition to our Wednesday night tradition of flocking to our bed to watch the most recent episode of This is Us on Hulu, we usually cuddle up nightly to enjoy The Goldbergs, also on Hulu.
The Goldbergs is an ABC show, based on the real-life family of creator Adam Goldberg. It’s set in the 1980s (much to my husband’s delight) and focuses on the Goldberg family: parents Murray and Beverly and three adolescent children Erica, Barry, and Adam. A frequent visitor to their family home is Beverly’s dad, Albert, as well. There’s all the hubbub you’d expect from that kind of a family situation, but the characters are just hilarious.
Beverly is a textbook Mama Bear and a textbook Helicopter Mom. We’ll call her a Helicopter Mama Bear. All of the Goldbergs could probably be described as schemers, too, which is why it’s so entertaining to watch their interactions. Please, do yourself a favor and watch it. You’ll laugh constantly and be hooked near immediately. Guys, there’s a Goonies episode. If that doesn’t convince you, I’m not sure what will…
Beverly is a stay-at-home mom. She cooks, she cleans, she taxis, she helps with homework, she does the shopping, and she busts the kids when they’re up to something. She’s also a volunteer at the school and all the teachers know her (for better or worse). She’s an advocate for her kids (sometimes a little too much) and they all know that she’s got their back. She’s rocking the Mom gig, and she truly loves her children.
In one episode, she’s pushing her daughter to go to college and helps her study for the SAT. When Erica scores really high on a practice before the real deal, Beverly tries to sabotage her so she won’t get into her preferred college and will have to stay local. Perhaps a little over-involved for comedic effect? Maybe. But I am a mom, and I am freaking out at the fact that my child is going to be entering third grade in the fall and will be eight on her next birthday, so the feelings are real.
While there are some jokes made at her expense in every episode, that’s true of my experience growing up. We made mom jokes. I’m now a mom, and trust me; mom jokes are alive and well in our house.
What I love about it, is that her role as SAHM is never belittled or looked down upon. She is the glue that holds the family together and it’s highlighted in a positive light (despite her crazier antics in some) in each episode.
Warning: both soapbox and mini-rant ahead. But seriously; is anyone else tired of the way dads in the media are portrayed?
I’ll admit that we’ve watched the entire series of Good Luck, Charlie at least twice and that I am a big fan and I enjoy Bob Duncan. But he’s clueless about his kids and cannot make decisions unless Amy okays them. Does it make him a fun, comic relief character? Sure, but he’s basically one step above an oaf.
Even Cory’s grown-up portrayal as Mr. Topanga and father-of-two in Girl Meets World paints him as immature, having not really grown up (although in the classroom, he’s got that profound Feeny-ness that the show necessitates). For the adult continuation of a show that I literally grew up with, that is sorely disappointing.
That is not accurate of my house growing up, nor is it accurate for my household now, or the households of any of Little Miss’s friends. Dads are solid. Dads are our confidants and playmates. They’ve got better jokes than Mom and are less rule-oriented and tend to embrace mess more. They’re fun. But dads are also who we go to for wisdom. It bugs me that so many shows don’t honor that.
The Goldbergs does. Murray works hard at the furniture store he runs and co-owns with his father-in-law, comes home, takes his shoes and pants off at the door, and parks it in his recliner to unwind with some TV. He’s always seen eating at the table with the family at dinner. Even though his daily routine is nothing if not predictable and he usually asks his kids to leave him alone, he is there when they need him. He rescues them. The kids feel safe knowing that he’s going to be there for them (just like their mom).
I adore that this sitcom honors dads by being real about the near-immediate change into comfy clothes (my dad changes into “lounge pants” upon arriving home for the evening and Superman changes into a T-shirt and pajama pants pretty immediately, too) and desire to relax while also presenting the truth that dads are reliable.
Murray also goes out of his way to connect with his kids. He needs some daddy-daughter time, so he takes his teenaged-daughter to the place they went when she was a little girl: it goes horribly, but then they talk and their bond is deepened. He goes to Sam Goody and gets tips on “cool” music in an effort to bond with his teenaged-son. He has no love of film like his youngest child, but he makes home movies with him and takes him to the movies. You go, Murray Goldberg.
Beverly and Murray were high school sweethearts. In one episode, it’s suggested that Beverly became pregnant with Erica just prior to the wedding. This means that Murray and Beverly have literally grown up with one another. They are familiar, but not complacent in their relationship.
For example, Murray is not a fan of change. So much so, that Beverly buys multiple pairs of shoes of the same brand at a time, breaks them in, and replaces them, unbeknownst to Murray. She changes out his recliner one time and he freaks out. She not only tracks it down to a frat house, but she cooks for the frat brothers and cleans the entire frat house (including laundry) just to get the chair back. Have you met college boys? Let alone college frat boys? That’s some serious love right there.
In another episode, Beverly finds out that some friends renewed their wedding vows. Her response: “You can do that?!” She immediately begins planning her renewal service. They’re to write their own vows, but Murray is avoiding it. When pressed on the situation, he quotes the theme song from one of his favorite TV shows, Family Ties. She finds out, is hurt, and cancels the ceremony. He un-cancels the ceremony and speaks from his heart about her, even though he considers himself ineloquent and beneath his wife (not to mention, uncomfortable), because he loves her.
Sacrificial spousal love is all over this show.
Have you seen it? What do you think about the way their marriage (and their parenting, too) is presented in the show? Who are some other small-screen couples whose marriages you enjoy seeing? Check out our podcast on Lessons We Can Learn from This Is Us to hear some of our other favorite marriages on TV.
I can’t tell you how excited I am to bring you today’s book review. We were fortunate enough to be sent a review copy of Jennifer Smith’s Wife After God: Drawing Closer to God & Your Husband, a 30-day deeply-involved and extremely poignant marriage devotional. It is a perfectly compact marriage retreat in book form.
Jennifer Smith is a Christian wife and mother who blogs at Unveiled Wife. You can also find her on social media. She started out to share her struggles and healings from the early years of her marriage with other Christian wives.
She’s got email lists with daily prayers as well as new blog posts. I love that she’s brutally honest in her posts (and in her books!); for example, she says on her website’s biography page, “The first four years were wearisome, trying, heartbreaking, and even devastating.” To know that that’s where she started gives all the more credence to this devotional. She’s been in the trenches and has come back out the other side.
Did you happen to catch the post from a few Mondays ago, How to Keep Your Marriage Awake (When You’re Overscheduled and Exhausted)? We’re still both exhausted and time is definitely not just magically abundant right now. I know we’re not the only ones. Especially now, in this fast-paced, instant-gratification world, time is a precious commodity.
One of the major draws about Wife After God is that it’s designed to be a month-long, daily devotional. And, hey, if you choose a month with 31 days, you’ve got a built-in day to catch up on anything missed. Moreover, even though each day is packed with richness, the entire daily devotional won’t take you more than 15-30 minutes (depending on how studious, reflective, artistic, or into note-taking you are). I made it a part of my evening routine.
Yes. Yes, I’m fully aware that Catholics are Christian. This is not that discussion. This is that “does it align with Church teaching?” question that frequently arises when we’re handed highly-praised works by our Protestant brothers and sisters.
Though I’m not a theologian, I cannot see anywhere in Wife After God where the explanations and reflections offered by Jennifer undermine or conflict with the Catholic understanding of marriage. In fact, when I was reading the first few passages, I was amazed to see how much she was mirroring (albeit unconsciously, I’m sure) the teachings of Pope St. John Paul II in his Theology of the Body. As a Millennial and proud member of the JP II generation, that’s pretty awesome.
While I am not going to give away specific questions for journaling or specific reflections shared from the text, I am going to give you a very basic rundown of what you can expect on a given day.
Each day begins with Scripture (usually 1-3 verses). It’s followed by a reflection that’s simply called “Thoughts.” After that, there’s a prayer. Once armed with this spiritual fortitude, the day moves on to a challenge. These challenges differ throughout the devotional. Some of them are very easy to accomplish and others take a great deal of thought in order to implement. There are then some journaling questions, and nine times out of ten, they’re extremely thought-provoking. The day ends with a suggested social media status update, complete with hashtags. I actually love that part (again, I’m a Millennial!).
Bible journaling is HUGE here in Texas, especially among my Baptist friends in my mom’s group (more about that here). It’s truly beautiful, but we Catholics are still waiting for a reputable publishing company to take up the challenge of creating a New American Standard Revised Edition Journaling Bible. What has that to do with this book? Nothing on the surface.
Except…I am a note-taker and a doodler. I took this devotional time to sit down with my prayer journal and make notes and doodles, similar to the trendy Bible journaling, in my prayer journal. It helped me to connect even more deeply to the words I was reading, as I pondered the specifics of each sentence in order to journal it.
I am grateful for this book. While implementing the challenges and sharing the thoughts I uncover within the text, I noticed a difference in my marriage. I know that as a newlywed, you might be tempted to think that there’s no need for improving my marriage. Newlyweds and young marrieds, listen up: there’s always a need to strive to improve your marriage! Choose not to work on your marriage simply because it’s new or young, and you’re missing a great opportunity for early growth and early enrichment. You’re missing a chance to grow in intimacy and in holiness.
My husband deserves the best of me at all times. He won’t always get that, because I’m human, but daily I will do my best to give him that. There’s no shame in reading and utilizing wonderful, insightful devotionals like this one to help you along the way.
Do it. I’ve read through this book once and have reflected, spent time in God’s Word, and challenged myself. I’ll do it again. And again. I’m smart enough to know that each time will trigger a new reaction or make a new connection or have a different impact on my husband. I challenge you to buy this book today and get started. Not quite ready to take my word for it? You can get more information about Jennifer and the book here.
I am proud to say that I am a wife after God.
Almsgiving. It can be tough sometimes, because we often use Lenten almsgiving as an opportunity to get rid of stuff we don’t want (read: 40 bags in 40 days), but I was reading an article the other day that argued that isn’t really almsgiving. Almsgiving is where we give from what we need to those who need it more, which doesn’t include my ratty sweater, lidless Tupperware container, or bleach-stained T-shirt.
Inspired by an article in America magazine, and reminded of these words popularized by Mother Teresa, Kristi shares insights from Pope Francis (and Mother Teresa) as it relates to Lenten and everyday almsgiving. Grab your favorite seat on your favorite couch and get comfy while you join us in conversation.
If the media player doesn’t load, or you’d prefer to download this episode of the podcast, please click here.
People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered; love them anyway.
If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; do good anyway.
If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies; succeed anyway.
The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow; do good anyway.
Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable; be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight; build anyway.
People really need help but may attack you if you help them, help people anyway.
Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth; give the world the best you’ve got anyway.
Here’s wishing you the happiest of Fridays, friends!