Since we’ve placed FIAT: Faith in All Things on an end-of-year hiatus (we’ll be back next Friday!), we thought we’d give you something else to do; thus, we present to you our Best of 2017: the top five, most-read posts of 2017!
Best of 2017
This was our first full calendar year to be bloggers, and our response from readers has kind of blown us away!
1. Cool Catholic Women
In this post, we listed five women who we admire in the Catholic world as part of our celebration of Women’s History Month. The response was so great that we had to do another list (part 2), which is our number 5 post. Check out Cool Catholic Women here.
2. Dolls from Heaven: Our Time Spent with St. Therese of Lisieux
Little Miss made her First Holy Communion this year and we surprised her with a St. Therese doll. This post contains our review of the product. We cannot wait to see what new dolls come from this wonderful, family-run business. You can read this post here.
3. Frugal Date Nights
At Hail Marry, we like to focus on our vocations as wives and mothers. We share thoughts and musings on marital communication, running a home, parenting, date nights, and saving money. This post has a few date nights we turn to when we’re pinching those pennies.
4. Seriously, guys? We need to chat…our husbands aren’t broken
This was our first (and only, to date) controversial post. Sparked by frustration at a book title (which she admits she has never read), Kristi shares her thoughts on the trope that husbands are essentially buffoons and shares a 5-day marriage challenge. The comments were super thoughtful, but nerves were struck, for sure. Read it here.
5. Cool Catholic Women, Part II
In this follow-up post to 2017’s number one post, we go on to list five MORE awesome Catholic women. Read Part II here.
Do you think these most-read posts showcase our best? Is there a favorite post of ours that you have that didn’t make the list?
In Advent, Mary is waiting for the birth of her son. On this side of the crucifixion, we await the return of our savior. Right now, I’m expecting a new arrival as well and it’s put my Advent perspective in a slightly different light.
As parents, we hope and dream about our children’s future. We know before we meet them in person that they are here for a reason…we just don’t have the full picture. Mary did.
She knew her child was going to be the Messiah. Gabriel told her. Mary knew. Still, knowing the full plan doesn’t always mean you’re ready.
I imagine that during her own Advent she was preparing for all that mothering the Messiah could possibly mean, even though she likely didn’t grasp what all it entailed.
How could she?
How can any of us know exactly what will happen? Children aren’t exactly predictable and God’s ways don’t always make sense of us on this side of Heaven.
Babies R Us has a slogan right now that I love: “Be preparedish.” It’s perfectly imperfect, reminding us that despite all planning and preparation, you can’t possibly account for all contingencies.
Isn’t that a great metaphor for us in this Christian life? We’re called to be ready at any time for the return of the King (and, no, I’m not talking about Tolkien). Right now, I’d categorize myself as “preparedish.” I’m living a pretty solid Catholic life, but if I’m honest? Prayer could totally use a refocus and revamping. My liturgical living could also step it up a notch.
I sometimes wonder what nesting looked like throughout different time periods. How would Mary have prepared?
What we know is that immediately after learning she was pregnant, she traveled to be with her cousin and help her in her time of need. We know that just before her son’s arrival, she traveled to Bethlehem on a donkey. We know that she had no midwife to deliver her son in the manger.
Still, as a human woman, I have to think that she still experienced a nesting period. That time when she thought about what she’d need for him and how to rearrange her home to make space for him. For this human woman, having just moved into a new home and this not being my first child, I simply have a nursery to decorate and a kitchen to baby-proof. Add a baby shower, and it’s mostly taken care of at that point.
We also know that the first things Mary did when learning she was going to be a mom were to submit herself to God’s Will, act charitably (think Elizabeth), and pray.
On her way to Elizabeth’s, she sings a song from the Old Testament. That song is a prayer, which we Catholics know as the Magnificat, found in Luke 1:46-55.
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children forever.
I talk to Belle, because she can hear me. I pray for her because she is a new life and a part of our family, even though she’s yet to make her debut.
This prayer I can take even deeper. Advent has a lot of cool traditions and activities for the average Catholic. These are often more difficult to celebrate in the midst of HG, morning sickness, exhaustion, sleep deprivation, and the growing pains of pregnancy.
Right now, while I’m expecting with Mary in this Advent, I can take this time of quiet before newborn and focus it on prayer.
Having a baby is one of the few times in life a human gets to actively participate in a miracle. It’s the perfect time to reflect & pray.
In that, I, too, can say to God “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices” over this new life growing inside me.
‘It’s the season of food and family: the holidays! This can also be a time filled with stress and anxiety. Now is a perfect time to examine what’s on your plate.
This is the United States’ recommended balanced diet MyPlate. Long gone is the food pyramid. This cute, easy-to-follow plate has replaced it. Each meal, according to this, should be comprised of these components.
Don’t you wish you had a guide for life like this?!
Since we don’t, I attempted to create a current picture of what’s on my own plate using a blank MyPlate diagram.
This is a current, quick snapshot of my life. I knew that I was busy, and I was fully aware that my stress level is slightly…elevated. But seeing it like this, each thing crowding out the other was eye-opening.
I have a problem saying no when asked to help out. It’s one I’ve been painfully aware of for, I don’t know, decades? I’ve also struggled for about that long trying to fix it.
You may have the same problem. If you say no, you feel badly because you are fully capable to help. You feel guilty for putting your own needs above others. The worst? Saying no means you’re a bad Christian.
Here’s the thing: you can’t pour into an empty cup if you, too, are empty. It is impossible to use your light to light another’s if you’re burning the wick at both ends: you’ll run out of light.
There has to be balance.
Today, after work and dinner, a family trip to confession followed by a meeting at church, but before my nightly Epsom salt bath and ultimate glorious bedtime, I will sit down with my prayer journal.
In it, I will list each thing on my plate with a dash beside it (picture a matching test from junior high). Then, I’m going to number it in order of importance.
Once that’s done, I’m going to write about what each category looks like for me now and what I’d like it to become.
Less on the Plate=Better Me
None of what’s on my plate is going to vanish, and I have to honor commitments made (its just who I am). Still, I can do so knowing where my priorities lie and using them to say no, without guilt, in the future if the request of my time doesn’t fit with my priorities.
Maybe then my plate will be empty, like in this picture, and I can choose only that which truly matters from the buffet of options competing for my time and attention.
This vocation is hard, ladies. It takes patience, love, understanding, creativity, grace, forgiveness, humility, and a whole lot of prayer. Why add a cluttered to-do list to all of that?
How do you handle everything life throws at you? Are you, too, a serial “yes” sayer? I’d love to hear from you!
Happy First Monday in November! We’re running a challenge from our Hail Marry Hangout Facebook group this month designed to help you struggle less with the trappings of money in advance of Advent.
If you’ve been a reader for awhile, you know that we did something similar this past Lent.
What Is It?
A No-Spend month is exactly as it sounds, with a caveat. It isn’t talking about shirking all responsibility to pay bills. It’s about freezing all unnecessary and discretionary spending.
Essentially, you will pay only your bills and what you decide is a line item for this month’s budget. I mentioned in Friday’s podcast that were moving, so we have some moving expenses as a line item. We’re already done Christmas shopping, so that isn’t on there for me, but it is for some of the ladies in the challenge group.
This looks different for everyone. We all have our reasons and shared them (as well as potential pitfalls) in our group.
We just started Week 2 today, so you can still join us if you’d like! We’d love to have you. You can join us here on Facebook.
If the timing is just terrible for you right now, being so close to the holidays, we get it. We anticipate running another No-Spend Lent challenge as well, if you want to plan ahead!
In the comments, let us know what your why for a spending freeze is or…head on over to the group and tell us there!
I love the song “I Can Only Imagine” by MercyMe. It came out when I was in high school and I knew it first as a Christian song, then a phenomenon that even the popular radio stations were playing. It played everywhere. For months.
Haven’t heard the song? Take a listen really quickly and then come right back.
Its lyrics hit home for a lot of people, and I have always loved the honesty of asking the questions of what it will be like in Heaven. I never imagined (see what I did there?) that the story behind it was so powerfully moving.
I was placed on a list for Christian movie previews a few years back (I’m not sure how, but I love it!) and have attended some pretty great Christian movies. I’ve also watched several cheesy ones on Netflix and through Redbox. Usually, I convince Superman to watch with me, and he does so, expecting cheese, bad acting, and a contrived plot.
Not so with this film.
“I Can Only Imagine” is a true story, featuring real characters in real situations. It’s the story of a boy whose father is abusive. A young adult whose path is sure, but filled with the debris of his past. It’s the story of two men, experiencing the redemptive power of God’s love.
The characters have moments that made the packed preview audience laugh, audibly gasp, and cry. The emotions displayed on the screen are emotions we’ve all felt.
Now to the part my husband usually dislikes most: the acting. Simply put, it was stellar. Broadway’s J. Michael Finley stars as Bart Millard and the man is a vocal powerhouse. He’s funny, relatable, and (dare I say?) a bit quirky. His Bart is raised by Dennis Quaid’s Arthur. Dennis Quaid is a fine actor and this film proves no exception. Other players are Trace Adkins, Cloris Leachman, and Madeline Carroll.
You have a while before “I Can Only Imagine” comes out (March 16, 2018), but please do yourself a favor and go see it. As Christians, it’s a story that we all need to be reminded of what Jesus can do. As Catholics, the timing of the release of this redemption film, during Lent, is ideal.
It’s early now, but as we approach the release date, we’ll be rerunning this post. It really is such a good film; better than I had imagined. I hope you’ll check it out! In the meantime, head over to the movie website and explore. In the comments, we’d love to know what you think about the song, as well.