7QTF: Overdue Update Via Pregnancy Memes

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Linking up with Kelly and the rest!

Uh, so it’s been what, a whole trimester since I last posted? Oops. I meant to blog, but life and belly kind of sort of got in the way. Of course my return week has to be this week in November, and in the parlance of my generation, I literally can’t even right now. So funny pregnancy memes until I’m up for something more cogent.

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Obligatory bumpie comparison: 20 or so weeks (left) vs. 37 weeks (right).

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And feeling nothing remotely akin to early labor. But this is happening.

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In discussing Christmas wish lists, was asked for my sizes. Dear Husband told the family to just ignore clothes for me this year. “But surely her shoe size won’t change?”

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Down to two pairs of shoes out of six clsoed toe options. Flip flops, you say? Tomorrow’s high is 45. Farenheit. But I did just resign from the first of two jobs this week. Might write more about that later. For now, I’m just glad I can wear slippers more.

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I also have a longer span with which to increase these intervals:

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The struggle is too real. Thank God pregnant women can indeed, yes, it’s been studied, have coffee. *sips her pumpkin spice as coolly as Kermit swills his tea.*

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I’ve been having mostly good days, but then some bad ones. Like this:

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I was especially that otter yesterday at Trader Joe’s with all their Christmas goodies. Unfortunately our state will only allow them to sell beer, so no Brandy Beans made it into the cart. BUT I have MA and FL connections who might be able to hook a new mama up. Because as we can rejoice again, studies show when it comes to drinking post partum, if you can drive, you can drink. Or eat small chocolates with yummy yummy liquer in them.

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And on the good days, I feel like this!

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Baby is healthy, I am healthy, we’re basically all set up and ready to go. But watch him overshoot his Thanksgiving due date by at least a week and become a December baby.

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And on that note, while birth story blogs are a  nice genre many women enjoy, here’s my advance warning about my (non) contribution.

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Maaaybe I’ll take Jen Fulwiler’s lead and do haiku. Maybe.

Happier week ahead to you, dear readers!

7QTF: NFP Week 2016

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Linking up with Kelly and the rest!

To conclude my week of NFP posts, something light! NFP memes!

So, on one of our honeymoon drives, PJ and I listened to one of his favorite soundtracks to one of our well-enjoyed movies, Top Gun. My sense of humor being what it is, and my musically Ignatian prayer life literally seeing God in everything, started thinking of NFP memes based on the lyrics–drawn from a communal well of experiences relayed in public forums, articles, books, witness talks.

*TTA: trying to avoid, TTW: trying to whatever; TTC: trying to conceive

*Phase 1: period, Phase 2: fertile, Phase 3: infertile

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God, forgive me.

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 If you practice a sympto-hormonal method or would like to learn and need the gear, Simcha Fisher has just one more day left of her ClearBlue fertility monitor giveaway!

7QTF: Pregnant. And a Pause.

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Linking up with Kelly and the rest!

So there was a little pause there with my blogging, and no it wasn’t “pregnant” (meaning it wasn’t serving some greater purpose); just lazy. : P To give you an idea of how much I have to muster up the wherewithal to commit to this project that has given me joy, an outlet, etc., I started this post on Sunday.

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Happily still pregnant, even if as Sunday’s picture shows, not really looking at it. In the interim, PJ and I found out who we should be expecting around Thanksgiving!

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Meet Sweetie, Jr., y’all. His name will be the surprise.

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Saw this recently and laughed and laughed.

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Yup, that’s pretty much what it’s like.

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I may have mentioned on an NAS post (“What I’d Miss ABout Being Single”) about loving my bed. It’s like a cloud. And when PJ and I started talking about how we like to sleep and appropriately testing out his existing mattress, I told him, “We’ll need a new mattress. I like ’em soft enough to think I’m on a cloud.”

People, my cloud came last week.

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That’s the LeachCo Back n Belly surround-fluff system. Worth every penny (and got us to qualify for the Amazon Welcome Box for Moms, as well as a SkipHop toy for Prime Day).

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Sunday featured many young ones raising their voices to the heavens–some in delight, most in supplication. Our son was all

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and that little fist (or more likely foot) of his echoed in reply.

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 Speaking of kicks, every time I feel him move (or is it his hiccups?), this is how I react:

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 Yeah, totally had an XL Kit Kat for second breakfast. What? I needed something to go with my half-caff coffee, which I needed because I had an earlier shift at work…

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IN TIME FOR CHRISTMAS/NEW YEAR’S RIGHT?!?!?!

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Little dude is due Thanksgiving, and already I’m thinking about how we’ll need to get back into the practice of NFP. More to come next week, as I’ll try to do my usual recognition of NFP Awareness Week with some posts. But, yeah, getting excited that there’s potentially even MORE clarity post-partum than what Marquette/Boston Cross Check offers.

AND OH, would the Caitlin E. and Deanna T. who entered the latest Ten Commandments for Kissing Gloria Jean PLEASE email brittleighbooks@gmail.com? Thanks!

That’s all I’ve got. Happy weekend, everyone!

NAS: Wedding Fun

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Linking up with Morgan and the rest!

We are now fully immersed in wedding season! What are your favorite parts of a wedding? Where do you find the best dresses for the occasion? Have any unique gift ideas? Share anything and all tips and tricks with us!

Well…I meant to do a whole series of posts each Tuesday this month on weddings and marriage, as my first wedding anniversary was July 11! 😀 Buuuuut my unintentional blogging hiatus meant it’s half gone. So here are some thoughts from a recentish bride who LOVED going to weddings and how she felt once she actually became one herself! Bonus: Some pretty pictures at the end!

Favorite Parts

Most weddings I’ve attended as an adult were Catholic Masses, or in one case, a church celebration of the Rite of Marriage (no Eucharist). By far my favorite part was seeing what musical pieces, hymns, and readings the couple selected. After attending a few, I came to piece together my own wedding liturgy…years before I’d even met my groom, PJ!

When PJ and I finally did pick out the elements, I did get some of my long-dreamt-of selections, but it was also surprising to see how certain things changed. Since it would make the post too long, I’ll do a future one on what we decided on.

And of course, seeing the bride and groom so happy and in love. Just overall the feeling of JOY everyone has.

Also, a favorite part, to be honest: open bar! Now, I did not get toasted after the customary champagne toast, but it’s always real nice to enjoy something delicious and bubbly without worrying about carrying cash. At one wedding, when I was 20, I had to pay for a soda, while the keg was free. Naturally when it was my turn to plan the reception, treating guests was a must. Plus, there are many classy ways to do so without worrying about people taking things to extremes.

THE Dress

I always like dressing up, and consider weddings, no matter how casual, to be special occasions, and as such, deserving of something a tick above my Sunday best, at least. Most of my favorites came from a consignment shop in the Boston area (also in CT), Second Time Around. Others were from random department stores. One came from Express. For church, I usually used a nice wrap, cardigan, or shrug. A tip for finding Mass-appropriate or modest dresses is to avoid the Juniors section or trendy stores and try the Special Occasions racks at department stores or shops like Ann Taylor. Though they may have had a past reputation for frumpy or “stuff-only-your-aged-aunt-would-wear,” the trend now is for classy frocks. Plus most women of most ages want to look youthful, but not ridiculous.

When I finally got to go wedding dress shopping (a whirlwind 18 hours over a Friday afternoon/evening and Saturday morning involving 20-some-odd dresses), I knew I wanted sleeves and an appropriate back, given my hair will not hold a veil. Thanks to Duchess of Cambridge, Kate, and Downton Abbey, sleeves are more of a thing now, so I got my wish all in one dress, ON SALE, at David’s Bridal. And for the showers, bachelorette party, and rehearsal dinner, I got them all at ModCloth.

Gift Ideas

When attending weddings, I usually just went in on group gift from the registry, or added a personal touch, especially if the bride and I were dear dear friends. For  a non-religious couple in our family, my husband and I got them this wine storage box with some selections we knew they’d appreciate. They had bought a house together a year previously, so they pretty much had it all.

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Some of PJ and I’s favorite gifts:

  • A “bouquet” of Masses in our honor
  • This prayer offering from a fellow Knight of Columbus, who just so happens to be be the brother of the Vocations Director at the Oblates, who was once a spiritual director of mine during a Spiritual Exercises Lenten retreat. SMALL, BEAUTIFUL WORLD!

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But truly the best gift of all was seeing the smiling faces of family and friends who made it all the way to some random town in CT to see us wed and celebrate the start of our lives together. Auntie Seraphic wrote about weddings and acknowledged how sometimes the experience of attending weddings as a single person is not always a blissful one, but do know your presence and happiness for the couple is truly a blessing.

And now some pics from the amazingly talented Jon Cerritelli and Prestige Barkley Photographic Design!

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My Sunday Best and Prize Winners!

Linking up with Rosie and the rest!

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Well, hello! Long time no blog. Ugh, I feel terrible about it–no real good excuse. Anywho, let’s get to today.

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Praise be the churches that have central A/C. The neckline, while not immodest for a lunch out with the girls, is not really appropriate for Mass. So, a sweater! I love how light and breezy everything about this outfit is. Though my tiny bump is barely discernible (see me at 10 pm after a large meal in a clingy fabric–definitely a baby in there), I’m into about 92% maternity clothes. Just. So. Comfy.

I recall one of these type of link-ups, or one poster, at least, trying to focus on something spiritual, too. I have just enough and energy and promise of commitment to pick the best line of Mass.

Best Line:  “Come, eat This Bread from heaven/Thy peace and strength regain.” –From the hymn O Sacrament  Most Holy, sung at Eucharist.

ALSO! Last month I ran a contest for my novel, and I think there are some winners who entered via a link on a similar such post and never claimed their prize. Would CAITLIN E. and DEANNA T. please please email me at brittleighbooks@gmail.com? Or check your spam/social folders? My publisher would like to send you the signed copy! If you prefer, I can get you the publicist’s official contact info, and she’ll get it to you.

My Sunday Best

Linking up with Rosie and the rest!

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We’re having our first heat wave in new England this weekend—indices getting to 90+ every day. Thankfully, the parish my husband and I attend has central a/c (I told him that was a requirement. Props/hat-tip/courtsey to all the ladies who make it to church with no cooling dressed appropriately.

Dress: A spaghetti strap number from Columbia. At one point when I got it a few years ago it had SPF and even some water resistance. It’s so comfy, and nearly perfect for 3 months pregnant me, what with the roomy skirt. But the built-in panel around the bust just kills me now. Add in the stuffing myself at the monthly young couples’ potluck afterward, and I knew it was time to retire it. It went straight into the “nope bin” after Mass along with the rest of my wardrobe.

Shrug: Old Navy knit. I LOVE shrugs. So perfect for  tossing over “inappropriate” work/church clothes.

That black thing: What I call “modesty tabs”…you just hook them onto bra straps and volia! coverage! So much better than layering a full tank/camisole on the warm days. And I got them (a pack of three–black, white, and tan) with one of my many CVS coupons!

Sandals: IDK…Payless? Or Old Navy? I don’t pay much attention to where I get them.

I hope you’ll permit me to do this, but I wrote a book about a young teen girl who loves fashion–and her faith–and I’m giving it away! 5 signed copies of Ten Commandments for Kissing Gloria Jean. Enter the link below. Thanks!

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7QTF: Reviews, Annoucement, Giveaway!

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Linking up with Kelly and the rest

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An excellent analysis on parenting and the working world. I found myself hitting the steering wheel saying out loud “You’re dang right!” about a lot of Slaughter’s insights into how the working world treats parents, especially mothers, as well as prescriptions for possible policies that could make raising and supporting a family–including caring for adults like a sick sibling or aging parent–easier. A few lines here and there are not in accord with Catholic teaching, but overall a pro-family sentiment without turning it into a “mommy war” issue.

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I can’t speak to his television show, but this book, read by the author–natch–is hilarious. Great observations about raising a gaggle of children. I found myself thinking that his and my parenting sensibilities are very simpatico. Important note: if you’ve seen almost all of his comedy bits, you’ve probably heard some of the jokes before.

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I’ve got GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). Most of the recommendations you can find from reputable articles online. But to be honest, I only found myself taking down a couple of dessert recipes. You have to like or enjoy the foods recommended. And since GERD can be specific to you–for example, fresh apples are touted as great for GERD; they made me throw up shortly after–a grocery trip can get expensive if you have to do process of elimination.  What I really wanted was “Here’s how you can have your favorites (tomatoes, coffee, alcohol, seasonings, etc.) without wanting to die or becoming reliant on medication–that you can’t be on long-term. Since that’s a pipe dream (short of possible relief from surgery), the best tip this book had was to just limit the food aggravators, like putting chicken stock in a marinara.

Pro-tip: Always, always check out cookbooks from your local library. So long as the recipe you transcribe, copy, snap a picture of is for your personal use and not printed anywhere public or used to earn you money, totally ok.

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An excellent resource for women. While not every topic will apply to you, the section on nutrition, helpful charts, and Q&As are very helpful. My favorite part: no guilt. Some nutrition resources essentially tell you to eat like you’re trying to lose weight–exercise 30 minutes everyday! sub Greek yogurt for ice cream! (as if they’re the same) don’t you know how bad cheesy bacon tater tot pie is? how dare you! This one gently points out the foods to nab and sub, but also says it’s realistic–and okay!–to indulge. I believe it’s the 80-20 rule–aim for at least 80% of your intake being good and healthy. Which is super nice to hear when you actually need to gain weight…

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THIS BOOK WAS NOT WRITTEN BY A DOCTOR AND IS NOT MEANT TO SUPPLANT HIS/HER ADVICE. But it is awesome. What it is: an analysis by a qualified economist (who has studied how to read studies and stats) of all the (sometimes!) competing research into pregnancy and recommendations for women. I don’t have a subscription to all the medical journals’ archives, and nor does my library–plus I don’t have the time or know-how to look up the basis for certain things. I like asking “why,”and Oster goes into the multiple studies surrounding an issue and parses them out. And explains how correlation is not causation, how studies were conducted and how that affects results, and provides information for you to make your own decision. For example, she read the research and decided against an epidural, but her friend read the same info and made a different decision. Basically, if you want to know if coffee or a leetle bit of wine is okay and when, you can bring up the data with your doctor and get their input based on you.

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And in case you couldn’t figure it out from my reading/listening selections, our little turkey’s already in the oven for Thanksgiving.

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I’m extending the giveaway for 5 signed copies of my novel Ten Commandments for Kissing Gloria Jean (Catholic Writers’ Guild Seal of Approval) for one more week. Enter below!

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What I Wore Sunday

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Linking up with Holly and the rest!

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I love this outfit for Mass. It’s a great transitional piece from cool spring to a warmer start of summer. The sleeves are a little long, but the hem is just right. I wanted to wear it for Pentecost last weekend, but it was much too cold! 😛

Dress: Charming Charlie sale, with coupon was a STEAL. Cami also from Charming Charlie, but bought earlier – wasn’t that lucky that it matched!

Boots: I forget the brand, but they’re winter specific and water resistant. Perfect for a 65 and rainy morning.

Like fashion? Know a teen who likes fashion? Want the girls to be encouraged in modesty? Enter the giveaway for my novel Ten Commandments for Kissing Gloria Jean, which has the Catholic Writers’ Guild Seal of Approval! Five signed copies heading out in June.

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7QTF: Quotes and Free Books for Teens!

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Head on over to This Ain’t the Lyceum for more!

A little while ago, the Pope celebrated a Jubilee Mass for teens, and he had amazing things to say in his homily. Read below for some of the gems.* And at the end of the post, learn how you can win one of five signed copies of my novel, Ten Commandments for Kissing Gloria Jean, which has more amazing things to say!

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Love, in other words, is the Christian’s identity card, the only valid “document” identifying us as Christians.”

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Before all else, love is beautiful, it is the path to happiness.  But it is not an easy path.  It is demanding and it requires effort…. To love means to give, not only something material, but also something of one’s self: one’s own time, one’s friendship, one’s own abilities.”

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“[T]he biggest threat to growing up well comes from thinking that no one cares about us, from feeling that we are all alone.  The Lord, on the other hand, is always with you and he is happy to be with you.  As he did with his first disciples, he looks you in the eye and he calls you to follow him, to ‘put out into the deep’ and to ‘cast your nets wide’ trusting in his words and using your talents in life, in union with him, without fear.  Jesus is waiting patiently for you.  He awaits your response.  He is waiting for you to say ‘yes.'”

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 “Dear young friends, at this stage in your lives you have a growing desire to demonstrate and receive affection.  The Lord, if you let him teach you, will show you how to make tenderness and affection even more beautiful.  He will guide your hearts to ‘love without being possessive,’ to love others without trying to own them but letting them be free.”
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“Many people will say to you that freedom means doing whatever you want.  But here you have to be able to say no.  Freedom is not the ability simply to do what I want.  This makes us self-centered and aloof, and it prevents us from being open and sincere friends.  Instead, freedom is the gift of being able to choose the good.  The free person is the one who chooses what is good, what is pleasing to God, even if it requires effort.  Only by courageous and firm decisions do we realize our greatest dreams, the dreams which it is worth spending our entire lives to pursue.”

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“Your happiness has no price.  It cannot be bought: it is not an app that you can download on your phones nor will the latest update bring you freedom and grandeur in love.”

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“Love does not happen because we talk about it, but when we live it: it is not a sweet poem to study and memorize, but is a life choice to put into practice!  How can we grow in love?  The secret, once again, is the Lord: Jesus gives us himself in the Mass, he offers us forgives and peace in Confession.  There we learn to receive his love, to make it ours and to give it to the world.  And when loving seems hard, when it is difficult to say no to something wrong, look up at Jesus on the cross, embrace the cross and don’t ever let go of his hand.  He will point you ever higher, and pick you up whenever you fall.”

My novel, Ten Commandments for Kissing Gloria Jean, with the Catholic Writers’ Guild Seal of Approval, addresses the very themes Pope Francis speaks of above. And from Monday, May 23 through 11:59 pm Tuesday, May 31, you can enter the link below to win one of five signed copies for you or a teen in your life!

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*All quotes come from Radio Vaticana’s transcription.

NAS: What Brings You Peace

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Hello, ladies! Thanks for visiting today! We’re talking about peace. In your single life, what brings you peace? Hobbies, reading, crafts, something else?

One of the wisest things a dear friend said to me  about relationships is “You’ll know when there’s peace.” Wiser words have rarely been spoken to me. Thinking about previous experiences, an unrequited crush with a friendboy left me anxious and irrational. And as comfortable as previous short-term relationships in my early twenties had me feeling, the overall feeling after they ended was not peace. ID didn’t really experience true peace in relationships until I started dating my now-husband PJ. I hate that expression that “you’ll just know,” but seriously, I didn’t know what real was until I experienced it firsthand. But what about peace when you’re single? That…was a bit harder.

I kept busy–writing, reading, working, spending time with friends and family–but was a calendar full of stuff to do really engendering peace? I wasn’t content with my singlehood, and poor online dating results at time left me a minor inner emotional wreck. While those favorite activities did help me feel better, and on some level content (“I don’t need a man when I have____!), I couldn’t let them become the sole source of my happiness. I needed to feel peace with myself in the moments when I was alone, with nothing to do. The times I did experience calm, tranquility, and freedom from worry was when I truly believed in the following words from the Mass:

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What a perfect prayer! It’s asking God to take all our worries on himself, as well as making the wait something happy to anticipate. And calling upon that, as difficult as it was in some periods, was probably the greatest thing that brought me peace.

Now that I’m married, I have peace with myself, with our relationship, and with my call. But like faith and trust, peace, I believe, can have a certain fluidity to it. I sometimes feel anxious about possible (hopefully!) motherhood, my work as a writer, and the capacity to deal with what life throws at us next. I’ve lost the strong embrace of the quote above, and I’m working on bringing it back. So some of the things I’m doing now, while they’re not achieving peace 100%, they are bringing me to a state where I can calm down and reflect on things–a state where I can find myself and be content. Some activities are still reading, writing–blogging more so, I have to be real, starting to exercise more, and gosh, I can’t believe I’m saying this, but, coloring.

Yes, I have jumped on the coloring bandwagon. Though when I was a bookseller we met the crazed coloring book seekers with bafflement, I found a free one in some craft stuff at work and a boss bought me pencils as a thank you. And, well, I get it. I get what people take from sitting down and shading in a pretty picture. I get why my friend has piles of those kids’ character coloring books from the drugstore way before the trend ever became cool. Here’s one image I did. All we need now are some Catholic themed ones. Artists, any takers?

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Oh, and peace be with you.

Next week, head to Beth Anne‘s to talk about…you! She’ll have a survey for all the NAS ladies so we can get to know each other!