Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Etsy Love {Five Favorites}

My mother gave me a generous Etsy gift card for Christmas. I have enjoyed watching the balance go down with every purchase! Through the years, there have been so many shops that I wanted to purchase items from, but my budget only stretches so thin, if you know what I mean. It is easy to talk myself out of a purchase, except when I have a gift card. I like to indulge myself in a little retail therapy when I have a gift card! 

Here are five of my most recent Etsy purchases. My reviews are short and sweet so you can go visit the shops and indulge in a little retail therapy yourself if the mood hits you! 

1. Flor Larios Art - Beautiful folk art and religious icons.  

2. Expressionary Pendant - Essential oil diffuser necklaces and other lockets and charms. Dr. Who fans check out this Tardis diffuser necklace

3. Valley Girl Designs - Lovely vintage inspired handmade jewelry. The Lucky Shamrock locket is gorgeous! 

4. Signs of Love by Rakstar Designs - Buy something for yourself or as a gift for a loved one. There are prints, mugs, necklaces, and other items and all have a Christian theme. 

5. Happy in Dole Valley - Original knits, natural soap, homemade vanilla and lavender spray, and more. I purchased three soaps earlier this week, so I have not received them yet. But I had to tell you about this shop now because Lisa, the owner, is running a giveaway at her blog for one free item (value up to $15) through Tuesday. She is also offering a coupon code through Saturday, March 7th, for 10% off your order. Read more about the giveaway and get the coupon code at her blog

In case you do not know, Jenna, the host of the Five Favorites link-up, also has a lovely Etsy shop, Call Her Happy. Check it out if you haven't already! Plus, she recently had a sweet baby so take a minute to wish her joy! 

Monday, February 23, 2015

When You are in the Thick

This Bible verse has been on my mind throughout the day, all day, every day for the last week. I read it in a little prayer book that a friend gave me a few years ago. It is not specifically for Lent, just a little coffee table book of God's promises, but it has become a part of my Lenten reading. It is a great reminder to me, and I thought that maybe some of you may be in need of the promise, too.

Have I mentioned before that we are blessed to attend a parish with several priests? I am glad to be able to tell you that I enjoy listening to all of them preach. They speak such wisdom and often it is just what I need to hear. After Mass yesterday, I kept thinking about Father's homily.

Father talked about how the evil one preys upon us when we are at our weakest. Maybe we think God has forgotten us or doesn't hear us. We are unhappy or stressed or lonely, and we are looking for something quick to make us happy and give us pleasure. He encouraged us to stay strong and to see these temptations for what they are, the murmurings of the devil. 

During the season of Lent, we remember the 40 days that Jesus spent in the desert fasting, meditating, and preparing for His ministry. We spend 40 days uniting ourselves to Him through prayer, denying ourselves from certain earthly pleasures by fasting, and loving others by performing good works. As we prepare ourselves for the Easter season and the risen Christ, we may find the devil tempting us away from our present course and back into our old sinful ways. But the pleasure is fleeting, and we desire more than short-lived comforts. We desire to be united with Jesus forever. 

When we align our actions and sufferings with Christ, we can overcome temptation and sin. By emptying ourselves of selfishness and other sins, we allow more room for God to enter and transform us. And at the end of this period of preparation and reconciliation we will rejoice. 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

In the End, He has to Know I Loved Him

A couple of weeks ago, Chris and I were both getting ready for our day side by side. Our bathroom is plenty big for two bodies to move easily around in, with two sinks and open floor space. But Chris likes to move fast while I move a bit slower, and he often feels that I slow him down when we share the bathroom in the mornings. He made a comment about me being in his way, and I replied back that since I had been there first he was the one in the way. Then I reminded him that we have been together for almost 24 years, and that bathroom sharing between two people as in love as we are is part of the deal of our relationship. He stopped shaving and exclaimed, "Twenty-four years! That is a long time!" I replied, "Yep, long enough for you to be used to sharing a bathroom!" 

In 1996, Chris and I made our relationship official after five years of dating. In June of that year, my grandparents celebrated 50 years of marriage. Fifty years of marriage is a huge milestone. In the end, my grandparents were married for 65 years before my grandfather passed away

A few months before he passed, he had a conversation with my husband. Chris later shared part of that conversation with me. He told me that my grandfather turned to him and said, "You know, I think I spent my life married to a woman that didn't love me." 

It kills me every time I time I think of it. Sixty-five years is a long time to spend with someone that you don't think loves you. 

My grandparents raised me. I was a witness daily to their interactions with each other. I know all too well why he would make such a comment to my husband. My grandfather worked six days a week running his business to support my grandmother and their five children, and then later my cousin and me. He came home from work and tried to talk to my grandmother, only to be snapped at and criticized. I remember many times when he would he say something sweet or teasing to her, and she would ignore him. There were so many times she would start yelling at him, and he would ask, "Millicent, why are you yelling at me?" 

The weight of what he must have felt crushes me still. 

The early years of my marriage to Chris were not easy. I came into the relationship with low self-esteem and no knowledge of what a healthy relationship looked like. We have worked hard to make our marriage successful. We always planned to be married forever, like my grandparents and Chris's parents, but we weren't sure how we would be able to love each other forever! We could have easily just gone through the motions of a mutual partnership without any love, affection, or happy feelings for each other. 

I can't speak for Chris, but I can tell you the three things that I needed to understand to help me love him better.

1. He is my husband, and he is my friend. We were so busy the first few years of our marriage with jobs and a baby that we didn't make time to hang out and have fun with each other. The crazy thing is that we made time for our friends! Once we became intentional about date nights (whether in or away from our home), our relationship improved. We remembered how much we enjoyed each other's company. Plus, I learned to like football, and he agreed to eat out occasionally (something that he is not fond of doing). 

2. I have to tell him what I need from him because he can't read my mind. Seriously, I spent many of our early years pouting on the couch because he didn't do x,y, or z. Mind you, I never mentioned that I needed him to do those things, but I was sure that I didn't need to tell him. He should just know! How I expected him to know, I have no idea. 

3. It is important that I tell him not only that I love him, but also what I love about him. It is nice to hear, you know? And although he may or not need a regular reminder of my love for him, there are some days that I need to remember the reasons that I love him. Saying them aloud to him helps us to both feel the love. 

These three things seem like things that every girl should know when she gets married, but I did not. And I am sure that I was not the only one, nor will I be the last. I wish I had known them in the beginning because so much of the hurt and anger could have been avoided. 

This year marks the 24th year of our relationship, and we will celebrate 19 years of marriage in October. I always look forward to my wedding anniversary. We had a budget wedding, without professional pictures (proof above) or catering (although we did have yummy food thanks to friends of my family). Our wedding was not glamorous, but it was special because it marked the beginning of a lifetime of choosing love. 

I love my children, deeply and truly, as a mother should, but children are meant to leave, to love others and build lives of their own. The love I feel for their father is so very different. The love builds, moves, and soars. It is a promise and a choice. 

I chose love on my wedding day and continue to choose to love every day. At the end of his days, I want my husband to know that he spent his life loving a woman who loved him back. 

 Linking up over at the Blessed is She Blog. Marriage is the topic today. If you haven't checked out Blessed is She yet, you need to do it asap! The daily devotions have made reading scripture easier for me. Seriously, go check it out and sign-up to receive the daily devotions in your inbox!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Busy Being Crafty

Many of the twenty-four hours in my day is filled up with domestic duties, homeschooling, and sleeping. As much as I am glad to be able to do those things (yes, even the housework), I try to make sure that I take time to be active and creative with my hands. I have to be intentional about exercise and crafts, or those things would easily be forgotten for something less fulfilling like watching a show or movie on Netflix. Please don't misunderstand me. I am not knocking the past-time of Netflix watching. I love a good show and enjoy watching them. I especially like when I can combine being crafty with television - a win-win situation. 

This post is not about exercising or Netflix though. It is about the projects I have completed recently and how important working with my hands is to me. It is just as important to me as writing, but the whole twenty-four hour in a day thing keeps me from doing both in a single day, so when things get quiet around here you can safely assume that I am making something with my hands. 

Recently, I gave my friend Renee a bag that I knitted and then felted. I wrote the pattern for this bag. In addition to the bag, I bought a plain white apron and then stitched margarita glasses and the phrase, "I need a DRINK!" on it. I also gave her a journal from Rakhi's Etsy shop and a set of color pens. She loved all of it. 

My sister-in-law and her husband have birthdays that are three days apart from each other and very close to Valentine's Day. I found a tutorial online for confetti heart mugs, so I made a set for them. I also gave them some chocolates and hot chocolates and two books to read. 

Back in December, I finally finished a little dress that had been on my needles for awhile. It was for my niece, Hannah, so I named the pattern Hannah's Dress (I wrote the pattern). We ran into them at Mass last week, and Hannah had the dress on with a pair of leggings. She looked super cute in it. 

Currently, I am knitting a baby vest. I wrote the pattern for this vest two years ago. I am also knitting a throw blanket with a bunch of Merino Wool/Acrylic blend that I have in my stash. It is taking longer than I thought it would as I have made a few changes to the pattern as I have been knitting. The original one that I wrote did not work out quite as I imagined. 

As a wife and mother, my life is full of repetitive days. The work is good and honest, and at the end of my life I know I will not regret working inside my home rather than outside of it. But it is very satisfying to work on a project that has nothing to do with housework or education. I think part of the process that I love the most is seeing something turn from a thought into a usable item. I also enjoy giving people that I love something handmade. 

Do you love to work with your hands? How have you been crafty lately? 

Friday, February 6, 2015

Links, Links, and More Links {Seven Quick Takes}

1. I have had one crazy full and fun week. The fullness continues with a busy schedule today and tomorrow. Instead of writing anything of my own during my free time (totally ignoring all the blogging advice that says write content for yourself before reading other people's blogs), I have been quickly reading through new posts in my Bloglovin feed. I enjoyed several of them, and I wanted to share them here in case you missed them. 

2. Sometimes being blessed abundantly feels messy and unsure. Check out Mary's post My Cup Runneth Over (and it maketh a mess).

3. Rakhi's post You Are Precious To God is a beautiful reminder that every person has value and is loved.

4. The Right to be Comfortable: Sloping Toward a Stepford Society by Julie at These Walls is so, so good. Read it!

5. I hope that you are receiving the Blessed is She devotions in your inbox and that you have already read this morning's devotion by Britt Fisk. If not, please click over and read Letting Go of What others Think.

6. I am hosting a link-up to show some love and support to blogs with smaller readerships. It closes on Monday, February 9th at 11:55 pm est. Check out the post to read about some great blogs! And I would love for you to join the link-up! Here are the rules: 

Write a post featuring you favorite lesser known blogs. You know the ones that I am talking about, the blogs you love to read, but for some reason, the blog just doesn't have a big following. 

In your post list the blog name and author name(s), give an explanation of why you like reading the blog, and share one or two posts that you think are a must read. 

There is no limit to the number of lesser known blogs that you can write about in your post. It doesn't matter if you write about two, five, or ten. 

Bonus: If you have a small readership and you want to link to your favorite post, also, then go for it! 

7. In case you missed my posts last week, I wrote about my nonexistent relationship with my biological father and how I got over it, and  I also wrote about one of my favorite topics: diet, nutrition, and hormones

Linking up with Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum for Seven Quick Takes

Monday, February 2, 2015

Blogs That You May Not Be Reading, But You Should Be

Welcome to my first link-up! I am excited that you are here. I look forward to reading about and visiting the lesser known blogs that you love! 

Here are five blogs that I enjoy reading. Some of them have a larger following than others, and some have been around for more years than the others.  They all have posts that I enjoyed reading, and as none of them made it onto the Sheenazing Awards list of blogs, I wanted to share them with you! If you are unfamiliar with the back story, please read it here.

Blog: A Catholic Reversal   

Author: Christina

Description: Christina is a mom to six children and is in her first year of homeschooling some of her children. A Catholic Reversal is a new blog. It will celebrate its one year anniversary in March.

My Favorite Post(s): Our Reversion Story, Blessed More Than I Deserve, A mother for 15 years...

Author: Amelia

Description: Amelia is a mom to four children, she homeschools, and enjoys cooking gluten-free and healthy meals for her family. One Catholic Mama blog has been around since 2008, but Amelia began writing more regularly in 2013. 

My Favorite Post(s): How Posting What I Wore Each Sunday Healed Me, Why I am Not Trying To Lose Weight Even Though I Am Overweight, When Gift Giving Is Not Your Love Language

Author: Cammie

Description: Cammie is a mom to four children, she homeschools, and owns a snood shop. She has been writing at A Woman's Place since 2008, and posts new content often. 

My Favorite Post(s): The Great Skirt Debate and Why I Started Wearing Pants Again, How I Became A Helicopter Mom..., Words and Other Forms of Communication

Author: Cecilia

Description: Cecilia is a homeschooling mom and owner of Hair Bows 4 Life. Catholic Fit Mom For Life was started in 2013. Cecilia doesn't write regularly, but when she does she writes about spiritual and physical health. 

My Favorite Post(s): Finally I Found My Word of the Year, A Blank Art, Power of  Prayers, Love, Faith, and Legs

Author: Jenny

Description: Jenny is a homeschooling mom to seven children. She has been writing at The Littlest Way since 2014, but has been a blogger for years. She writes to encourage women in their vocation as wives and mothers. She is also the author of The Catholic Child's Teaching Bible

My Favorite Post(s): By Bread AloneWho I Want to be... A Joy ThinkerBible Quotes About Patience

Now it is your turn to link up your list of your favorite lesser known blogs. If you were so kind as to mention this link-up in your post, I would greatly appreciate it! Thanks! If you don't have a blog, but you want to share some of your favorite smaller blogs, please leave them in the comment section. 

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