Your Thoughts Matter (No Qualifiers Needed)

“I don’t know if this matters.”

“Sorry”

“I know I’m talking too much”

“Sorry.”

If I had a dollar for every time I heard a woman apologize for what she was about to say, or place qualifying language around her thoughts, I’d be a rich woman.

If I had a dollar for every time I apologized or qualified my own thoughts and opinions, I’d be even richer.

If you find that apologizing in conversation is an automatic reflex, here’s a reminder (and a reminder for myself, too):

Your thoughts, opinions, and experience matter. There’s a reason you’re at that table, in that conversation, or answering that question.

Maybe what you have to say is going to be unpopular. People may not agree, or choose to act differently than you suggest.

But that doesn’t mean you have to say you’re sorry for it.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with a meaningful apology when it’s needed.

But sharing your thoughts, expressing your opinions, and bringing things to the conversational table isn’t an imposition that warrants an apology.

Apologizing for your thoughts and book-ending your sentences with qualifiers doesn’t only impact the way people listen to you. It affects your own confidence levels, too.

So stop downplaying who you are, who God has created you to be, and what you bring to the table.

You’re good. You’re worthy. You’re beloved. You matter.

That’s nothing to apologize about.


Want to continue this conversation about talking about ourselves as someone we love? You’ll love next week’s episode of Letters to Women, “A Letter to the Woman Who’s Criticizing Herself” where Patty Breen and I talk about self-affirmation and how we can be more intentional with the way we talk about and to ourselves.

Listen on iTunes, Google Play, or wherever you listen to podcasts!

Pressing In

You stand strong, muscles flexed.

Your tiny little toes pressed into me, inquisitive eyes gazing into mine.

And I, too, am wondering.

How, in what feels like both a blink and a lifetime, have you grown so quickly?

Wasn’t it just yesterday (no, last year) that all I knew about you was summed up by two tiny, faint, lines on a test result?

Pregnant.

From taking that test to being tested. You delighted and exhausted me. Drained of the energy that was once so familiar, filled to the seams with a love I was discovering day by day.

With you, I found the profoundness of ordinary moments, in the daily existence of our growing family.

My growing body.

My growing heart.

And now those little feet that I felt pressing out from the inside of me are now pressing down on my legs as I hold you up to look into your eyes.

Pressing down.

Tamping down my selfish heart.

Pressing, squeezing me outside of myself.

Was it perhaps that I was reborn with your birth?

7 Quick Takes 70: Coffee, baby snuggles, and sweet sleep

The last time I sat down to write a Seven Quick Takes was before Maeve was born . . . and now she’s five weeks old! Time flies when all of your days blend together into one day full of baby snuggles, feedings, and diaper changes. One of these days I’ll share her birth story, which was beautiful.

We’re in for a quiet weekend of rest after both Joseph and I started work back up this week. But before we settle into a chair out on the porch, here’s a look back at the past few weeks at the Langr casa:

1. Sound sleeper

Maeve is five weeks old this week and so far her favorite things to do are eat, snuggle, and . . . sleep almost through the night. Yep, I didn’t believe it either. For the past two nights, she’s slept soundly in her crib from 10:30pm to 5:00am.

The first night she slept that long, I anxiously googled “Healthy sleep times for a five week old baby,” sure that something was wrong. We had a doctor checkup with our family doctor yesterday and he was happy with her weight and just as excited as I was about her sleep times.

Granted, that means tonight she’ll wake up in two hour increments to throw us off, but that’s okay. This mom is excited to have two whole full nights of rest.

p.s. This three month old’s guide to sleep training their parents cracked me up. It’s a little too relateable.

2. Hello, coffee, my old friend

When I was pregnant with Maeve, coffee and I didn’t get along very well. Despite the fact that I’d drank coffee since I was ten years old, I almost walked away from it completely. In the last trimester I picked up cold coffee again, but hot coffee was still not on my radar.

Lo and behold, as soon as we came home from the hospital with Maeve, I was ready to give hot coffee a try again. In fact, I was craving it. I cautiously made a cup and it was wonderful. I have now mastered the art of the one handed pour-over brewing method, and am back to enjoying my morning cup of coffee (or two. . . or three).

Of course we’re introducing Maeve into the coffee world. In the first weeks of life, she made frequent appearances at Dunkin’ Donuts. No exaggeration, at least two to three times a week. Here’s a picture of her hanging out at Dunkin’:

3. Surrounded by laundry

As someone who despises laundry, I grossly underestimated how much laundry would come with a little baby. Turns out is is a lot. Not only does Maeve burn through clothes like no tomorrow, she also dirties mine along the way. We’re going to need some more stain remover soon.

On Monday, Maeve and I knocked out a full hamper full of dirty laundry. Well, Maeve didn’t fold her share, but we’ll get there one day.

4. Listening to all the podcasts

Joseph and I spent quite a bit of our paternity/maternity leave catching up on podcasts and discovering new ones. If you’re on the road this weekend for Father’s Day (or are just a podcast junkie like I am), here are some of the new listens we’ve been listening to lately:

  • Dr. Death” - Up to this point, I’ve avoided medical podcasts because I end up shaky at the mention of all the bloody details. However, Joseph and I started listening to this podcast on a road trip last weekend. We both ended up shaky after the first episode, but kept coming back to the podcast because it is INSANE. Check it out - it’s worth the queasiness.

  • Business Wars” - A podcast about two businesses hashing it out for the top place, this one is fascinating. Joseph and I are listening to the Anheuser-Busch vs Miller series and highly recommend it.

  • Thoughts I Should Keep to Myself” - I met Katherine in Kansas City and have followed her on social media, and I’m loving the conversations she’s having on her new podcast. She’s starting great conversations, and one of my favorite aspects about the podcast is how authentic Katherine is as an interviewer.

  • Coffee and Crumbs” - New seasons of life mean new seasons of podcasts, right? I’ve spent quite a bit of time listening to Coffee and Crumbs and diving into all things motherhood. If you’re raising littles, this is a beautiful mom-to-mom show that I’ve enjoyed lately.

5. This stroller was made for walkin’

Maeve and I broke in her stroller this week while on a walk with a friend. We hit some paved trails close to our house and ended up walking almost four miles. Because of all the rain we’ve had lately, there were some muddy spots along the way.

Maeve’s stroller isn’t really an off-roading vehicle. But we enjoyed our long walk (Maeve slept almost the entire time) and made it back to the car just in time for it to start raining again. Needless to say, we’ll be putting some miles on that stroller this summer!

6. Maeve may pass us up

Maeve had her one month old checkup and is growing, growing, growing! She’s gained almost three pounds in the first five weeks of her life. But what really surprised me was her height! She’s now measuring in the 96th percentile, which isn’t too shabby for someone whose parents are on the short side.

7. One day left to enter the giveaway!

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen that I’m giving away a copy of “The Catholic Working Mom’s Guide to Life” by JoAnna Wahlund. It’s the first book I’ve had the pleasure to officially endorse, and it’s been a beautiful resource to have during this first week back at work.

Want to give it a read? You still have time to enter - the giveaway ends tonight at 6pm central. Head over to Instagram to check it out!

He Thirsts for Your Commonness

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We may think that God, the creator of the universe, couldn’t be bothered with our nitty-gritty monotony. But that’s a lie straight from the mouth of the devil. God thirsts for our common day-to-day.

God isn’t just interested in our highs and lows (make no mistake - he wants those, too), but he also desires the smallest details that make up our life here on this earth.

The King of Glory wants to be invited into those bleary-eyed 2am baby feedings, the tedious days at the office, and the tugs of little kids on the hem of your shirt. The Savior of your soul wants to exist with you in the coffee shop, the car drive home, and the waiting line at the bank. The Father of Light desires to abide with you when you’re folding laundry, loading the dishwasher, or filling up your car with gas.

These aren’t just the musings of a sleep-deprived blogger. Scripture tells us that Christ wants to meet us in the duties of our daily life.

When Christ hung on the cross, he became aware that everything was finished. John’s Gospel tells us that, in order to fulfill the Scripture, Our Lord cried out, “I thirst.” There, at the foot of the cross, was a vessel filled with common wine. Before Jesus breathed his last, he took a drink of that common wine. But he wasn’t just thirsting for a drink to slake his thirst. He was thirsting for you. He was thirsting for your common wine.

While on a Blessed is She retreat this weekend, Tricia Tembreull shared a quote from Father Walter Ciszek that stuck with me.

“The temptation is to overlook these things as God's will,” Father Ciszek wrote in He Leadeth Me. “The temptation is to look beyond these things, precisely because they are so constant, so petty, so humdrum and routine, and to seek to discover instead some other and nobler ‘will of God' in the abstract that better fits our notion of what his will should be.”

The next time you’re tempted to think that your boring life could be of no interest to the God who breathes stars, remember that the Lord thirsts for you. He desires to be satiated by the common wine of your daily life, your humdrum, your routine. So invite him to drink in your monotony.

Bring Us to the Day of Baptism

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When Joseph and I first found out we were expecting our honeymoon baby, I was elated and nervous. I remember sitting in spiritual direction early in the spring of 2017, sharing that I was scared to entrust our baby to the Lord because I was struggling to trust. My mama bear instincts had kicked in and I didn’t want to do anything but protect our baby myself.

My spiritual director recommended praying a short, simple prayer: “Bring us to the day of baptism.”

The prayer was a few simple words, but we began praying it. My heart began to open up to the Lord, and we entrusted the little baby growing inside of me to God.

When we miscarried Marion a short eight week later, there was so much heartache and grief. But there was also hope.

My mother’s heart was comforted by that simple prayer - we’d desired baptism for our sweet Marion, and we’d expressed that desire in prayer.

Later that year, I happened upon a quote from Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, who wrote to a couple that had miscarried their child. They asked the saint what would happen to their child, who hadn’t been baptized before death.

“Your faith spoke for this child. Baptism for this child was only delayed by time. Your faith suffices,” Bernard wrote in reply. “The waters of your womb — were they not the waters of life for this child? Look at your tears. Are they not like the waters of baptism? Do not fear this. God’s ability to love is greater than our fears. Surrender everything to God.”

Last summer, we found out we were expecting again after a year and a half of unexplained infertility. Right away, we began praying that short, simple prayer again. We knew that whatever happened with this pregnancy, we desired baptism for our little baby’s soul.

Every night, Joseph and I prayed that we would be able to bring our little baby, growing inside of me, to the day of baptism. We consecrated our baby to Our Lady, and worked on trusting in God’s plan.

Then, yesterday, God brought us to that day.

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We gathered with friends and family at our parish and washed Maeve Benedicta Langr’s soul clean of original sin.

God is a good, good father. He shows up - both in Marion’s story and in Maeve’s story, too. He keeps his promises.

“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:3-4).

p.s. Maeve’s dress was made by the amazing Annamarie from Annamarie’s Sweing and Alterations, who created the gown out of fabric from my wedding dress!

Running into a Burning Church

Saturday night, I sat in the pew waiting for the Easter Vigil to start. Without a doubt, the liturgy of Easter Vigil is one of my favorites throughout the entire liturgical year. Gathered with anticipation, we await sunset and with it, the rising of the Son of God.

Staring at the flame of my small, dripping candle reminded me of the fires that attempted to consume Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris this week. But that tiny flame also reminded me of the fires that engulfed the Catholic Church over the past year.

We’ve been rocked by scandal after scandal, and betrayed by those we trusted. Fear, chaos, and abandonment only begin to describe the heavy weight in the hearts of the faithful around the world.

Headline after headline describes the atrocities, and even today, the flames seem to grow ever higher. What will be left after the blaze dies down? How do we even begin to sort through the charred brokenness?

So this year, as each Catechumen walked towards the Baptismal font during the Vigil Mass, I stood in awe of their courage.

It’s never an easy decision to follow Christ in today’s world. But the headlines and pain from the past year haven’t made that decision any easier.

But they loudly proclaimed their belief in the Catholic Church on Saturday night - a broken, bloody, bruised, burned church that still stands.

Their conversion stories remind me of Caryll Houselander, who refers to herself as a “rocking horse Catholic.” She converted to Catholicism when she was seven. But after an emotionally difficult childhood, she left Catholicism during World War I and explored religious alternatives. However, she returned to Catholicism in 1925 and set to writing.

Without any formal theological or religious education, Houselander’s Reed of God gave flesh and spirit to the Catholic understanding of Our Lady. She reflected on Mary’s “yes” to God’s will, and our subsequent opportunities to say “yes” to God, despite the lack of clarity that sometimes accompanies his invitations.

We know perfectly well that there are often scandals in the Church, that despite her pure heart, her children sometimes grow worldly and base and dress her up with tawdry golden garments which they have woven with black and cunning fingers; sometimes we see nothing but ugliness in her,” she writes.

Yet, even so, she is the refuge and hope of all sinners, the joy and hope of all saints, the life and hope of every living creature; and this is because under this aspect the Church is still Christ, Christ in his passion, Christ crowned with thorns, his face covered in blood and dirt and the dust of the road on which we flung him down.

He still remains the one ultimately irresistible Person. This is why the Church is sometimes hated - ‘Wonder not if the world hate you’ - sometimes feared; it is the mystery of utter love which is recognized, if not by the head, at least by the heart, and which no wounding and no disfiguring can hide. ‘He has no comeliness whereby we shall know him.’ But we know him without comeliness.”

Why run into a church that blazes? Why find refuge in a church rocked by scandal and open yourself up to the ridicule from those who simply can’t understand why anyone would choose to become Catholic these days?

Because there’s beauty, truth, and goodness inside that's worth running in for - treasures more precious than even those rescued from the flames of Notre Dame.

Not just the crown of thorns, but the head that bore them.

Not just the relics of saints, but their intimate friendship.

Not just the beauty of age-old structure, but the sturdiness of a church who the gates of hell won’t prevail against.

Lord, this Easter, help us reveal no more your bloody, but your glorious face. Save and sanctify the Church and raise us up from the flames and ashes for a share in your glory.

7 Quick Takes 69: Hospital tours, library fees, and free coffee

Phew, it’s been a hot minute since I wrote a 7 quick takes! Life around the Langr house has been kind of hectic lately. We’re prepping for the littlest Langr to make an appearance, cleaning all the cars, installing car seats, and setting up the nursery.

This weekend I’m spending time with my mom and sisters at a local women’s conference, and then we’re taking one last road trip before the baby to see some friends from college. But before we hit the road (with hospital bags in tow, just in case!), here’s what’s been going on with the Langrs lately:

1. Tour official

A few weeks ago, Joseph and I got up early on a week day morning to take a tour of the birth wing of the hospital we’ll be delivering at. Apparently, the hospital has seen it all when it comes to pregnant mamas coming in for delivery. The instructions they sent us home with are super simple - “After you enter the main doors, press the button on the wall and the doors will open.”

It’s the elevator. Just tell me to take the elevator.

Now I’m going to be searching around for the magic button that opens up the wall.

2. The nursery is ready!

Joseph and I were all set last weekend to set up a baby crib and finish up the nursery. I’m not a big fan of assembling furniture, but Joseph is a pro. We pulled up IKEA’s website before heading over there to pick up our crib only to find that they were all out of stock!

Thankfully, it only took a few days for the crib to come back in stock, and now it’s fully assembled in the baby’s room. We’ve got the little mattress, sheets, and changing table set up, too. Our bags are packed and we’re ready to meet this little person any time now.

3. Freshly showered

A few weekends ago, Joseph’s mom and aunts hosted a beautiful baby shower for us. Then last weekend, I got together with friends here in Kansas City for a little baby shower, too! It was great to see friends and family and celebrate the littlest Langr!

4. Dang it, library fees

Well, 2019 was going to be the year with no library fees. Unfortunately, that only lasted for four months. The library charged me $0.30 in overdue fees this week. I returned the book before midnight (okay, it was 10:45pm, it was very close to midnight), so I almost want to not pay the fines and fight ‘em, but it’s $0.30 . . . so probably not the hill for me to die on.

5. Nothing beats free coffee

Even though coffee does not taste nearly as good as it did before I was pregnant with the littlest Langr, cold coffee and I have become good friends again. Thankfully, Dunkin’ has me covered. Thanks to Royal’s Monday, I’m picking up a free iced coffee every Monday. And because we’re T-Mobile users, T-Mobile is giving away free lattes with their T-Mobile Tuesdays app. I think the baristas over at our local Dunkin’ will get to know me on a first name basis here pretty soon.

6. Some fan-girling this weekend

I read a lot of books. There aren’t very many books that I re-read. But My Sisters the Saints is definetly the exception. I’m beyond excited for Colleen’s new book (it’s on my maternity leave reading list!), and she’s one of the main speakers at the women’s conference I’m going to this weekend. I’ve got my fingers crossed for her new books to be on sale at the conference, and the chance to snag a quick photo with the author!

7. Spring is on its way - Wilson is shedding his winter fur!

Kansas has decided to let us experience all four seasons in a week (typical!), so I’m not totally sure that spring is here to stay. But Wilson is shedding like crazy, so maybe he knows something we don’t. All I know is that we had a freeze warning this morning and our living room was full of rabbit hair. Maybe I should gather it all up and knit it into a blanket to keep me warm, since Wilson obviously doesn’t need it!

p.s. Don’t forget about filling those Easter baskets!

Joseph and I were talking about how different Easter will be next year with an almost-one year old baby running around. I told Joseph that I was excited to put together an Easter basket next year for our little, and Stay Close to Christ is a great shop to check out if you’re getting ready to fill those Easter baskets this year! Use the code LETTERS to save 10% off your purchase. Your purchase also supports this blog! Order before Palm Sunday to get your gifts in time!

How to Use Lent to Improve Your Marriage

Most people I know think about Lent as a time to give things up and “deprive yourself.” However, the Lenten season is also about giving more of yourself to others, including those who you love the most. Lent is also the perfect opportunity to focus on your marriage or most significant relationships.

“No act of virtue can be great if it is not followed by advantage for others. So, no matter how much time you spend fasting, no matter how much you sleep on a hard floor and eat ashes and sigh continually, if you do no good to others, you do nothing great,” John Chrysostom, an early Christian mystic wrote.

Focusing on your relationship doesn’t downplay the Lenten season. Instead, it reminds us that our activities should enrich the lives of those we love the most.

Head over to Aleteia to read about five things you can do during Lent to improve your marriage!

7 Things You Don't Have to do to Raise a Catholic Family

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The littlest Langr is due in less than a month, and Catholic parenthood has been on my mind quite a bit lately. But after listening to a few Catholic parenting podcasts and thumbing through some parenting books, I ended up finding more sources of frustration than encouragement.

From names to diaper brands, and school choices to parenting styles, Catholic parents have plenty of decisions ahead of them. But we can’t make the mistake of holding up certain choices of others as if those choices are the only right way to strive for sainthood as a family today.

You’ll make a lot of decisions as a parent, and other parents around you will make their own set of decisions. While we’re all called to sainthood, our path back to the Father’s heart will look different for each and every one of us - and our families.

Regardless of whether you’re brand new parents or child-rearing veterans, here are seven things you don’t have to do to raise a holy Catholic family.

1. Have a certain amount of kids

Big families are beautiful. Small families are beautiful. Families that don’t have any children are beautiful.

Yes, Catholic marriages are called to be total, free, faithful, and fruitful. But family size and how families are grown is something that’s meant to be discerned between spouses and the Lord. How many kids you do or don’t have isn’t meant to be a gauge for those around you to figure out where you fall on the holiness scale.

The Holy Family consisted of three people. Other beautiful Catholic families (like the Martins!) had nine children. Catholic families come in all shapes and sizes.

2. Educate your kids a certain way

“The right and the duty of parents to educate their children are primordial and inalienable,” the Catechism reads. But what you won’t find in the Catechism is what educational path is right for your family. That’s because there isn’t one, right way to educate your child.

Yes, parents have the responsibility for the education of their children in the faith, prayers, and all the virtues. They also have the duty to provide as far as possible for all the physical and spiritual needs of their children.

But some families are called to homeschool their children, and that is a good choice for them. Others find that Catholic school or public school works better for their child and their family as a whole, which is also a choice that could be the best fit for their family.

There’s a danger when we, as parents, identify ourselves with the choices that we’ve made for our children. We’re not “homeschool parents” or “Catholic school families.” Instead, we’re Catholic parents discerning what is best for our families. Educating your children is an important decision, and one that you shouldn’t be afraid to evaluate for each child each year

3. Stay at home with your littles

Just like there’s no one, right way to raise a Catholic family, there’s no one right way to provide for them, either. For some families, a stay at home parent is the best choice. For other families, multiple incomes are necessary. And while some parents work because they have to, others work because they want to. That doesn’t make them any less or more holy than parents who desire to stay at home, or make that choice out of necessity, either.

Catholic families striving for holiness discern what’s best for their family. It may look different year to year, or even month to month. But there is no one, right way to provide for your family, or a mold that exists within the Catholic Church that every holy family is expected to fit into.

4. Be a liturgical living pro

“The Christian family constitutes a specific revelation and realization of ecclesial communion, and for this reason it can and should be called a domestic church,” the Catechism reads.

But just like not all churches around the world look the same, domestic churches aren’t going to look the same either. Celebrations of the liturgical calendar look different in every church. But the beauty of one church doesn’t take away from the unique beauty of another church. In fact, all churches (including the domestic ones!) are called to reflect the love of the Father.

Some families thrive in the beauty of liturgical living, and I love reading about their celebrations. But if you struggle to remember to light an Advent wreath candle, that doesn’t mean that your family isn’t striving for holiness, or that you don’t want your children to have a relationship with the Catholic Church and the beauty of the faith.

There is no one, right way to live liturgically, just like there’s no one, right way to strive for sanctity during our life here on earth.

5. Be a daily Mass attendee

There’s no one handbook that the Catholic Church gives to parents at Baptism - at least, that I know of. We haven’t reached our day of baptism yet with this baby, so maybe I’m in for a shock. But as far as I know, there isn’t a guide saying you have to say a daily Rosary, go to daily Mass, or read a certain set of books in order to be a holy, Catholic family.

Are these beautiful practices that work for some Catholic families? You bet. But they’re not cookie-cutter fits for everyone. There are some non-negotiable in the Catholic faith (like going to Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation), but the Church allows us the freedom to choose our devotions in many situations.

Your family prayer life will look different at various stages raising little people. One day you may be able to sit down and pray the Rosary with them, the next day they’re running around and can’t be present for a few Hail Mary’s. It’s okay.

Take it a day at a time and don’t be afraid to explore all the options that you have for fostering an intimate friendship with Christ in the lives of your kids. It won’t look the same for every family, and it may not even look the same for different kids in one family. You’ve got options!

6. Raise perfect kids

Even if you’re striving for sanctity with your family, your kids won’t be perfect. We’re all human, we all make mistakes, and we all hurt each other. A holy family doesn’t mean a perfect family.

In fact, you can strive for holiness with your family, never miss Mass together, have open and honest conversations, and your kids may still break your heart and choose to leave the Catholic faith. But that doesn’t mean that you didn’t strive for holiness when you raised your family, or that you’ve stopped striving for holiness even after your kids have moved out of your home.

7. Have it all figured out

We’ve just started raising the littlest Langr, but I can guarantee you that I’m going to make some mistakes as a Catholic mom. Some of those mistakes will be small, and some of those mistakes will be big. Even though I’m striving for sainthood as a wife and as a mom, I’m still human, and so are you.

You don’t have to put up a facade to make everyone around you believe that you have it all together. None of us have it all together. It’s okay.

The decisions we make as Catholic parents are a big deal. After all, God has entrusted us with these little souls and our goal is to get them to Heaven. But we should be able to make those choices out of freedom, not out of the fear that there is one, right way to raise a Catholic family today.

If your Catholic family doesn’t look like the Catholic family who sits in front of you Sunday at Mass or the family that you read about online, that’s okay.

Every single Catholic family brings something to the table with our unique set of charisms, gifts, talents, and struggles. Your Catholic family is called to build up the kingdom of God in a way that another Catholic family can’t.

Perhaps no one said it better than Saint Teresa of Calcutta, who wrote, “You can do something I can’t do. I can do something you can’t do. Together, let us do something beautiful for God.”

What's On My Maternity Leave Reading List

Once the littlest Langr arrives, I’m excited to take a month off from freelance work and just bond with our new baby (and Joseph, who gets a month of paternity leave!!).

Don’t worry - you’ll still see some new blog posts pop up on the blog. Those 2am feeding times may include some strikes of inspiration. Letters to Women has pre-loaded regular episodes all the way through the summer, so those will keep coming to you even though we’re getting settled in with a new little around the Langr house.

I’m expecting about 20% productivity for those first few months, so this list is short. But I am so excited to settle in with a little baby in our new glider and read a few of these (or ask Joseph to read them to me). Here are the four books I’m looking forward to the most!

1. The Heart of Perfection: How the Saints Taught Me to Trade My Dream of Perfect for God's by Colleen Carroll Campbell

I read a lot of Catholic books for reviews on different websites. Even though I love reading through new books, it is pretty rare for me to re-read a book. However, the one exception to that is My Sisters the Saints by Colleen Carroll Campbell. I’ve picked that book up off my shelves for at least ten re-reads, front cover to back cover.

I’m so excited for Colleen’s newest book, Heart of Perfection. This April, I’m attending a local women’s conference with my mom and sisters where Colleen is speaking and I’m hoping to pick up a signed copy (and get a chance to tell her about how much her book has impacted my spiritual life!). When I found out The Heart of Perfection was set for release in May, I couldn’t have been more excited. I’m anticipating many re-reads even after maternity leave is over.

2. Daughter Zion by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger

I love Saint Pope John Paul II. He’s been a constant Heavenly friend since 8th grade confirmation prep, he’s the patron saint of Joseph and I’s relationship and marriage, and he inspired my podcast, Letters to Women. I know his writings inside out and upside down, so I decided that this year I should add another pope to my reading schedule so I could expand my horizons a little bit, even though JPII will always be one of my favorites.

At the recommendation of many, many friends, I’m diving into the writings of Pope Benedict XVI. I read a little of Spe Salvi during Lent and loved it. But during maternity leave, I’m excited to dive into Daughter Zion, which was ironically recommended by Colleen Carroll Campbell in My Sisters the Saints. I’m fascinated by what he has to say about spiritual motherhood, and you can bet that this book will fuel a blog post and podcast episode or two down the road when the littlest Langr gets settled in.

3. The Anti-Mary Exposed by Dr. Carrie Gress

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I first met Dr. Carrie Gress around the release of her first book, The Marian Option. She came on Letters to Women and we talked about the Blessed Mother’s influence on world events. When we talked on the show, she hinted at this new book, The Anti-Mary Exposed . Now, the book is out and I’m excited to (hopefully!) finally have time to sit down with it and give it a good read-through.

4. Chiara Corbella Petrillo: A Witness to Joy by Cristiana Paccini and Simone Troisi

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During my trip to Israel, I was blessed to travel with Sister Maria Goretti. She shares the name of my patron saint, and we had some incredible conversations about maternity, surrender, and trust. During our last dinner together, she recommended this story of Chiara Corbella Petrillo, a young Italian mother who passed away after a battle with cancer.

I’m anticipating lots of tissues will be used during the reading of this book, but I’m so excited to get to know Chiara better this year!

Hope in the Wilderness of Grief

Spring is my season. I love feeling the fresh air on my skin after what seems like ages of being inside, huddled against the cold. It’s a good day in the Langr house when I pack away my winter coat and dust off my light, spring jackets. My heart jumps at mornings where the sun peeks through the curtains and little birds wake me up instead of my alarm.

But as I sit and drink my morning coffee on the patio, in those quiet spring mornings, grief will wash over me and I’ll remember that one spring day that changed everything.

For many, March 25th is just another day. But for us, March 25th marks the day that we went into the hospital clutching to hope that everything would be okay, and walking out hours later knowing that our lives would never be the same.

Today marks two years since we lost Marion, our sweet baby who we barely got to know this side of Heaven. For eight short weeks, we rejoiced over his life, so excited to share with others the news that he was coming. But just as quickly as he came, he was gone.

There is no grave marker, no framed sonogram pictures, no baby clothes we’d picked out for him. We just have memories and a picture of a positive pregnancy test.

A friend recently pointed me to Isiah 43, and I’ve been meditating on one verse in particular this Lent. “See, I am doing something new! Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? In the wilderness I make a way, in the wasteland, rivers.”

It’s not an insignificant detail that we lost Marion during Lent. Every year, we set aside time in the liturgical calendar to prepare for intense moments of grief, and passionate moments of hope that are followed by incredible moments of joy. But after we lost Marion and experienced unexplained infertility, I wondered what more God could possibly ask us to carry. I looked for the hope, but was met with cross after cross.

But God was, and still is, doing something new. In the wilderness of our grief, he paves a way. He springs forth with hope in the midst of our suffering, in our wondering about his plan.

So today, I blocked off my calendar. I’m spending time in prayer, treating myself to an afternoon at the coffee shop. I’m living in the present moment, where I know there is grace for us to honor Marion’s life, and to rejoice in the hope that God brings even to our darkest of days.

“Hope is practiced through the virtue of patience, which continues to do good even in the face of apparent failure, and through the virtue of humility, which accepts God's mystery and trusts him even at times of darkness." - Pope Benedict XVI

Marion, pray for us.

7 Quick Takes 68: Chicken, Cars, and Cabin Fever

Hey there! It’s been a while since I’ve written a quick takes - I’m prepping you all for when the baby comes and this sleep-deprived mom struggles to have seven coherent thoughts, nonetheless string them together on a blog post.

This weekend, Joseph and I have a blessedly calm few days. We need them after a stressful week (details below!), and I’m looking forward to some good, holy leisure. But before I pour myself a cup of tea and settle into our couch for a while, here’s a look at what’s been up with the Langrs lately.

1. Oh, vehicles

Jesus decided my Lenten sacrifices were not enough, so my car broke down on Monday night. Actually, it was more like a Prius battery malfunction.

Thankfully, it is fixed and running now, but I was at home for most of this week. Even though I spend most of my time working from home, I enjoy a casual drive down to the library to pick up the 3,405 books that came available at the same time, or a drive down to Dunkin’ Donuts where I realize that pregnant Chloe still doesn’t like coffee as much as not-pregnant Chloe.

Anyway.

This week was humbling to say the least. Cars are wonderful inventions.

2. I’m on a whole-hearted Brene Brown kick

One of my favorite non-fiction writers of our time is Brene Brown. A friend first introduced her to me via her Ted talk, and I’ve been hooked ever sense.

I recently spent time listening to her latest book, Dare to Lead. I made it halfway through before having to return it, since everyone and their dog in Kansas City wants to borrow it from the library. It’s okay, it’s a great excuse to read it again once the other 529 people who have a hold on the book get through it.

So if you run into me in the next few weeks, there’s a chance I’ll mention vulnerability and authenticity in conversation. And if you haven’t read Brene Brown, go pick up a copy of any of her books and thank me later.

3. Give this pregnant woman some chicken

Pregnancy cravings with this baby have been pretty low. I mean, I crave doughnuts, but I craved doughnuts before I was pregnant, too.

However, there’s a restaurant in KC called Parlor that Joseph and I tried out a few months ago with some friends. They have the best Nashville spicy chicken sandwiches and I’ve been itching to get another one. I don’t know how much of that craving is me or the baby, but let’s just say that both of us were very satisfied after finally eating one of those sandwiches at dinner Thursday night with friends.

4. Speaking of the baby . . .

I know that this kid is training me for when they make their appearance, but this baby has been struggling to find a comfy spot to sleep. Whether jammed under my rib cage or pushed so far over on my right side that I can’t find a comfy spot to sleep, we’ve had some restless nights here lately.

Maybe I need one of these pregnancy pillows. But I don’t think that the bed will hold Joseph, myself, and a pregnancy pillow. So I’m just excitedly looking forward to when this baby gets their own bed and I get a comfy spot to sleep for 1.5 hours before the baby wakes up again.

5. What do I have on my face?

I woke up on Thursday and spent an embarrassing amount of time looking in the mirror, trying to figure out how the heck I ended up with dirt smudges on my face. I took a shower on Wednesday! It took me a few minutes to remember the day before was Ash Wednesday. This is what Catholic pregnancy brain looks like.

6. Working it out

Joseph and I resolved this Lent to be more intentional with self care and working out. Especially with a baby on the way, we wanted to use few weeks left of this pregnancy to spend time together and take care of ourselves. So we’re scheduling regular workouts into our calendar together.

We decided to start off with some stretching on Wednesday night. I pulled up a video specifically for pregnant women, and Joseph joined me. I still think he got a better stretch out of the workout, since I spent most of the time exclaiming that I couldn’t physically stretch that far, or that the baby was in the way. I think I got a better workout changing into the clothes I wore for exercise than I did from the actual workout itself.

7. We’ve got Wilson trained

Joseph and I feed Wilson at night, right before we head upstairs to go to bed. Recently, we’ve discovered that we actually trained this rabbit pretty well. When we walk towards the closet where his food is stored, he starts gnawing incessantly at his cage door. I swear we feed him.

Then, when we open the cage door to feed him, he hops over to his food dish and waits expectantly for the food to magically appear. He’s figured out his feeding schedule, that’s for sure.

A Procrastinator's Guide to Lent (Giveaway!)

Are you a chronic procrastinator when it comes to Lent?

We’re in the same boat, friend.

I’m usually indecisive when it comes to what I’ll sacrifice, what I’ll add into my routine, and what I’ll read during this liturgical season.

This year, Joseph and I decided to turn our smart phones into dumb phones and spend intentional time together instead of mindlessly scrolling. However, Jesus did not think that was enough sacrifice. So my car battery died on Monday and I’ve been stuck at home this week while we figure out details about getting a new battery installed.

If I’m being honest with you, I have not handled this invitation to sacrifice very heroically. I’ll blame a little of this on pregnancy hormones, but someone was crying last night in the kitchen about not having a car, and it was not Joseph or the baby.

Then this morning’s Gospel reading kicked me in the pants:

“If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”

Okay, Jesus. Thank you for that not-so-subtle hint.

Maybe your Lent is off to a little bit of a rough start, like mine. Maybe it’s smooth sailing so far. Regardless, I want to help you strive for holiness this season and grow closer Christ.

There are so many great books to pick up during Lent, it can be overwhelming. But one book I’m loving this Lent is “Girl, Arise!” by Claire Swinarski from The Catholic Feminist podcast.

If you’re still deciding on what to incorporate into your reading time this Lent, let me help you out. I’m giving one lucky reader a copy of Girl, Arise! this week. Head over to my Instagram account and enter for your chance to win a copy this Saturday.

4 Women Artisans Who Are Embracing the Feminine Genius

I love shopping small businesses and supporting artisans. I grew up working for small businesses and local shops in high school and college. Most of the jewelry that I own is from little shops I spotted while browsing Instagram, and I regularly browse through Etsy for inspiration. Water color prints of saint quotes made by Catholic artists hang on our walls, and homemade journals line my bookshelves.

After all, art is powerful. Beauty can lead us back to the creator of all beauty.

"Art is like a door opened to the infinite, opened to a beauty and a truth beyond the every day. And a work of art can open the eyes of the mind and heart, urging us upward,” wrote Pope Benedict XVI.

Here are four women artisans I’ve found who embrace the feminine genius in their own unique, beautiful way. Their small business have opened my eyes up to beauty!

1. Lillian Jude Designs

 
 

Lillian Jude Designs is a brand new gorgeous small company that takes the beauty of the Catholic faith and shares it in a little way. Each piece is hand-stamped by Martina. She takes a simple vision and turns it into something beautiful, and each piece is 100% original with custom designed stamps.

“Lillian Jude was founded on the idea that true beauty isn't boastful but found in the simplicity of God's great creation; sometimes we just need to stop and open our eyes to the little details we can easily miss,” Martina writes. “It is my hope that Lillian Jude pieces touch the heart and become pieces you will cherish for years to come!”

As a woman who loves the little details, I was beyond excited to see Martina’s shop open recently.

While some of the pieces that Martina designs are blatantly Catholic, most of them are beautifully sleek and subtle. “They’re pieces that anyone could wear,” Martina explains. “After all, catholic means universal.”

I am loving my new sacred heart disc necklace, which is a beautifully small reminder of my journey back to the Lord’s heart. Martina’s delicate and fresh Marian consecration chain bracelets - they make a great alternative to the hardware chain that I’m currently wearing!

I love how Martina embraces the feminine genius with her shop, especially when it comes to receptivity. It’s easy to get swept up in a culture that glorifies busyness and boastfulness. Instead of buying into this lie though, Lillian Jude Designs celebrates the little moments that are passed over by most. Martina is receptive to the still, small voice of inspiration that comes from the little details.

2. Gracefully Wrapped

 
 

When Marianne shares photos of her shop, Gracefully Wrapped, on Instagram, she not only fill my feed with gorgeous bouquets of wildflowers, but also incredibly insightful meditations on Scripture. She encourages me to wear my faith with joy and flowers!

Her pieces are an artful way to share God’s love. “Inspiration for items come from all of creation great and small. God has formed things so perfectly and our goal is to capture that work,” Marianne says when she talks about her shop.

“I am a wife and mother to three amazing children,” Marianne continues. “I love the Lord and aim to please him in my business and all other aspects of my life.”

I love how her shop embodies the feminine genius, especially sensitivity to the story of the other.

Recently on Instagram, Marianne shared a photo of some custom pieces she designed. “To preserve a memory, moment, and feeling is the goal of each of these pieces,” she wrote. “to bring to life the heart behind each of the customs I’m privileged to work with and to help you share your story.” She went on in the post to thank the women who shared their moments, memories, struggles, and triumphs with her, allowing her to preserve them.

Often sensitivity is treated as a weakness. In fact, I used to think that my sensitivity was part of my flawed character, not something to celebrate.

But if we were to take away this sensitivity, we’d take away our ability to empathize, and our creativity. We wouldn’t be able to notice those moments of inspiration or moments of joy in the stories of others. I

3. Emily Rachelle

 
 

I first happened upon Emily Rachelle’s work when a friend sent us a quick card in the mail. The front of the card was decorated with a beautiful image of Blessed Solanus Casey from Emily’s shop. That print is just one of many designs, poems, prints, quotes, and postcards, that fill her shop.

“I love folk music, puns, meeting people, exploring new places, and the feeling of a paintbrush in my hand,” Emily explains. “My work is an expression of my heart, and it is my hope that it will open the eyes of your mind to something beyond the everyday.”

Emily beautifully lives out the feminine genius with her art, especially when it comes to generosity. “The measure of your success will be the measure of your generosity,” Saint Pope John Paul II wrote. Emily recently demonstrated this so well with her shop.

“Often February is thought of as a month of chocolates, cute little cards, and love,” she wrote in an Instagram post. “So we’re offering a free printable download of the Sacred Heart through the month of February to remind us who the true Valentine of our hearts is.” In a month where it’s easy to end up feeling left out, forgotten, and unlovable, Emily’s art inspires us to turn back to the source of our true joy - Christ.

4. Catholic Wife Catholic Life Consultation Shopping

 
 

Annie’s blog, Catholic Wife, Catholic Life, is a website that I’ve logged onto many times over the past few years. Her thoughts on marriage inspire me to strive for sainthood in my vocation, and her and her husband’s mission to help Catholics pray more novenas has changed the way I pray novenas.

Annie has impeccable taste, and the images on her blog and social media pages are beautiful. I love when she shares pictures of her outfits for events, or gives her followers a sneak peek into her home, especially during the Christmas season.

Recently, Annie started a closet (or home decor!) consultation service. If you need to re-haul your closet or decorate a room in your house, but don’t know where to start, Annie removes the stress from the shopping process.

After a quick e-mail consultation where you share your style and vision, Annie scours the web to create a custom list of recommendations for you that are all within your budget.

Annie lives out the feminine genius in her daily life, but I think she especially embraces spiritual maternity. I’ve seen this in her consultation business recently. Her attention to detail and intentionality make women all around the world who interact with her feel seen, known, and loved.

Whether it’s helping select a dress for a special event (especially when nothing looks good), or bringing a special touch into a guest bedroom, Annie’s talents are inspirational.

“Everywhere the need exists for maternal sympathy and help, and thus we are able to recapitulate in the one word motherliness that which we have developed as the characteristic value of woman,” writes St. Edith Stein. “The motherliness must be that which does not remain within the narrow circle of blood relations or of personal friends; but in accordance with the model of the Mother of Mercy.”

Who are some artisans who live out the feminine genius that you love supporting? Let me know in the comments!

Exploring the Feminine Genius with Saint Pope John Paul II

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How do you live out the feminine genius in your daily life as a Catholic woman?

This is the question that I ask every woman who comes on my podcast, and I love the diversity of the answers they give. Just like there’s no cookie-cutter “right” way to be a Catholic woman, there’s no one “right” way to live out the feminine genius.

But despite our different vocations and missions, Christi invites us all to use our talents as women to make the world a better place. That’s the feminine genius - an invitation to live a life of freedom.

One incredible champion of the feminine genius was Saint Pope John Paul II. He regularly wrote about the beauty of femininity and empowered women to make a difference in today’s culture. He challenged women to embrace their feminine genius and impact their families, friends, the Church, and the world.

Looking for inspiration and a little bit of instruction on how to live out the feminine genius? Here are ten inspiring quotes from Pope John Paul II about the dignity and vocation of women, and embracing the feminine genius in your daily life as a woman today!

1. “Thank you, every woman, for the simple fact of being a woman! Through the insight which is so much a part of your womanhood you enrich the world's understanding and help to make human relations more honest and authentic.” (Letter to Women)

2. “It can thus be said that women, by looking to Mary, find in her the secret of living their femininity with dignity and of achieving their own true advancement. In the light of Mary, the Church sees in the face of women the reflection of a beauty which mirrors the loftiest sentiments of which the human heart is capable: the self-offering totality of love; the strength that is capable of bearing the greatest sorrows; limitless fidelity and tireless devotion to work; the ability to combine penetrating intuition with words of support and encouragement.” (Redemptoris Mater)

3. “The Church gives thanks for all the manifestations of the feminine ‘genius’ which have appeared in the course of history, in the midst of all peoples and nations; she gives thanks for all the charisms which the Holy Spirit distributes to women in the history of the People of God, for all the victories which she owes to their faith, hope, and charity: she gives thanks for all the fruits of feminine holiness.” (Mulieris Dignitatem)

4. “Women will increasingly play a part in the solution of the serious problems of the future: leisure time, the quality of life, migration, social services, euthanasia, drugs, health care, the ecology, etc. In all these areas a greater presence of women in society will prove most valuable, for it will help to manifest the contradictions present when society is organized solely according to the criteria of efficiency and productivity, and it will force systems to be redesigned in a way which favors the processes of humanization which mark the civilization of love.” (Letter to Women)

5. “The moral and spiritual strength of a woman is joined to her awareness that God entrusts the human being to her in a special way. Of course, God entrusts every human being to each and every other human being. But this entrusting concerns women in a special way—precisely by reason of their femininity—and this in a particular way determines their vocation.” (Mulieris Dignitatem)

6. “It is thus my hope, dear sisters, that you will reflect carefully on what it means to speak of the "genius of women", not only in order to be able to see in this phrase a specific part of God's plan which needs to be accepted and appreciated, but also in order to let this genius be more fully expressed in the life of society as a whole, as well as in the life of the Church.” (Letter to Women)

7. “Women have the right to insist that their dignity be respected. At the same time, they have the duty to work for the promotion of the dignity of all persons, men as well as women.” (XXVIII World Day for Peace)

8. “Necessary emphasis should be placed on the ’genius of women’, not only by considering great and famous women of the past or present, but also those ordinary women who reveal the gift of their womanhood by placing themselves at the service of others in their everyday lives. For in giving themselves to others each day women fulfill their deepest vocation.” (Letter to Women)

9. “From the beginning of Christ’s mission, women show to him and to his mystery a special sensitivity which is characteristic of their femininity. It must also be said that this is especially confirmed in the Paschal Mystery, not only at the Cross but also at the dawn of the Resurrection.” (Mulieris Dignitatem)

10. “A woman is strong because of her awareness of this entrusting, strong because of the fact that God “entrusts the human being to her,” always and in every way, even in the situations of social discrimination in which she may find herself. This awareness and this fundamental vocation speak to women of the dignity which they receive from God himself, and this makes them “strong” and strengthens their vocation.” (Mulieris Dignitatem)

How to Spiritually Prepare for Birth

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This little baby growing inside me has taught me so much in seven short months. However, one thing that I’ve been surprised by is how much has to be done before the littlest Langr makes an appearance. Prenatal appointments, scheduling hospital tours, making decisions about labor plans, finalizing a baby registry, and getting the nursery ready are just a few of the things that have been on Joseph and I’s to-do list lately.

It’s easy to get so wrapped up in the preparation for a little baby that I forget to take time to spiritually prepare for this baby’s arrival. That’s why I loved getting a copy of Eline Landon’s brand new book, Nine Months with God and Your Baby: Spiritual Preparation for Birth.

The book is the perfect size to carry along with you to Eucharistic Adoration or to set beside your bed for reflection before the end of the night. Inside, Eline provides meditations, Scripture passages, and prayers for the entire pregnancy journey: from desiring a little baby to welcoming a baby into your home after birth.

“The spiritual welcoming of the child, which prepares us for the sacred presence of a new being in us, seems to be lacking. The word ‘pregnancy’ would make us believe that what is going on in us is simply getting fat! By welcoming life in us, we participate in God’s work of creation,” she writes in the introduction.

Throughout the entire book, Eline emphasizes the beauty of spiritually preparing as a mother. She reminds moms about the importance of being gentle and merciful with the process of motherhood.

May we calmly welcome these babies; let us stop being agitated after the turbulence of childbirth, contemplate our new born children, and take the time to welcome them. Let us stay calm, and may this peace enlighten us about the surrender of our lives into the Lord’s hands.
— Eline Landon

Each month, you’ll be able to ask the Lord to prepare you for welcoming this new little life. I’m looking forward to the next few months of pregnancy with this book as a meditation.

I highly recommend picking up a copy of Nine Months with God and Your Baby if you’re expecting a little, or if you know anyone who is on that journey! This book makes a perfect baby shower gift!

7 Quick Takes 68: Travel, Third Trimester, and Tapas

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It’s been a hot minute since I’ve written on this blog! I loved my 10 days in Israel, but it’s so good to be back in Kansas. I’m still unpacking from the trip (our dresser is strewn with the contents of my suitcase), but a quiet weekend ahead promises time to finish getting settled in and back into the swing of things.

But before I put away all of my travel size shampoo, here’s what’s new with the Langrs!

1. Home again, home again

After 10 days in Israel, I’m back in Kansas! The pilgrimage trip was beautiful and so highly recommended. Some of my favorite moments included a Eucharistic Adoration hour in the Garden of Gethsemane and a visit to the Church of the Visitation. It’s going to take me a few weeks to unpack my thoughts (and my suitcases . . .) but if you ever get the chance to go to the Holy Land, you should!

Check out Holy Family School of Faith’s social media to see pictures of our pilgrimage.

I also loved the sunny and warm weather. This past week in Kansas has been single digit weather and sheets of ice on the road, so I’m missing the warm beaches of the Sea of Galilee!

Joseph picked me up from the airport and surprised me with flowers and a “Welcome home” banner in our kitchen. Even though it was only 1pm when we got home, I promptly fell asleep and didn’t wake up until 9pm. Then I fell back asleep at 11pm and didn’t get back up until the next morning. I’m still adjusting to the time zone changes, but I think a growing baby may have something to do with my exhaustion, too!

2. Spot-the-cat

There are over two million street cats who live in Israel, and we saw a good number of them during our time over there. I love the little details of visiting new places - like the architecture, the mosaics of churches, and the little cats who run and sit on your lap when you get a chance to sit down and catch your breath. Here are some of my favorite cat pictures from the trip:

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3. Hello, third trimester!

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We’re down to double digits in our countdown to meet the Littlest Langr! My trip to the Holy Land couldn’t have been more perfectly timed. I hit the first day of the third trimester on the day after we were back in Kansas.

The baby is moving around like nobody’s business. Even though there isn’t much room left in there, the baby is finding new ways to kick and punch all through the night. We’ve even felt the baby hiccuping over the past few days. Everything is going beautifully, and we can’t wait to snuggle with this little one!

4. Putting in the miles

Over the 10 day Israel trip, I was on 6 different airplanes and spent a total of 26 hours in the air. My (swollen) ankles weren’t a fan. But I was able to catch up on quite a few podcasts, read a few books, and even get a movie in. I probably would have watched a few more movies, but every time I would start one, I’d doze off.

When I looked up our flight to Italy for this fall, I was pleasantly surprised to see it was only a 7 hour flight - after Israel, that’s nothing!

5. Celebrating two years of marriage!

Before I left for Israel, Joseph and I celebrated two years of marriage. We stayed local this year, and hit up KC Restaurant Week. Every year, restaurants around the KC area run specials for a week. There were so many options to pick from, but Joseph and I ended up deciding on a pop-up restaurant run by the Sporting KC kitchen team.

We didn’t know what to expect with a pop-up restaurant. Dinner was either going to be an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experience. . . or a hilarious joke like this pop-up restaurant in London that was just some guy’s shed in his backyard.

It turned out to be a great experience. The food was amazing, and the view of KC was gorgeous!

6. Small plates, full stomachs

The food in Israel was amazing. In the morning I ate creamy oatmeal with fresh honey, and lunches and dinners consisted of small plates of hummus, pita bread, salsas, and salads. The part about our meals that cracked me up was the size of the cups for water. A typical American, I’m used to the super-size cups. These cups were perfect for a few drinks of water - but they reminded me of the size of glass we’d use for beer flights back in the states!

I can’t wait to get some hummus made here at the house and fill up some small plates for a dinner here!

7. Wilson updates

Wilson is doing well - he didn’t seem to miss me at all while I was gone. Joseph sent me a video of Wilson frantically trying to chew his way out of his wire cage, but he didn’t escape. Wilson and I spent some quality time together last night cleaning out his cage. Other than that, life as a rabbit in the Langr house is pretty chill.

The Brutally Honest Reason Why I Stopped Dying My Hair

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When I was twelve years old, I asked my dad to take me to the salon so that a stylist could cut my waist-length hair into a pixie cut.

I couldn’t stand the texture of my hair, and I was convinced that cutting it off would help me attain the picture-perfect standard of beauty I saw on the billboards and magazines. I still remember clutching a picture of my favorite celebrity with a short haircut, convinced that I would look exactly like her when I exited the salon doors.

Before last year, most people (even those who have known me for YEARS) didn’t know that my hair is a crazy combination of wavy, frizzy, and curly. I ran from this fact. I went through phases where I’d grow my hair out, straightening it every day, only to cut it all off again because it just "didn't look good" to me.

That day back in the summer of 2007 was the first of many dramatic changes that I made to my hair before I hit my mid-twenties, and it wasn’t the last time I’d make a decision about my hair based on what I thought I should look like according to the world’s definition of beauty.

My hair has been all over the color wheel, and every length imaginable. But here’s why (and how!) I went from the woman who religiously dyed her hair every month to the woman who’s writing this now, sitting here with my wavy pixie cut and natural hair color.

I was tired of my hair owning me

I started dying my hair when I was sixteen, rotating between a bright array of reds, blondes, browns, and blacks. I permed my hair, straightened it, chopped it off, and grew it out. I styled it in elaborate braids that I learned from the books I checked out at the library, and threw it into hats when I didn’t want to even look at myself in the mirror.

During the summer I spent on team for a local mission trip, I dyed my hair every Friday night in the bathroom sink. I’d emerge with a new color, and thoroughly confuse high school students who attended two weeks of mission with us.

In each moment of those dramatic hair shifts, I thought I was just making choices about what my hair looked like to others and myself. But after prayer and reflection, I realize that I was processing issues much deeper than my hair.

Instead of taking time to process through things I was going through emotionally, I’d reach for a hair dye box and strive to control just one thing in my life - my hair.

Our bodies reveal the invisible

Beautifully, our bodies and souls are intertwined. Saint Pope John Paul II puts this so well when he wrote: "The body, in fact, and only the body, is capable of making visible what is invisible: the spiritual and the divine. It has been created to transfer into the visible reality of the world, the mystery hidden from eternity in God, and thus to be a sign of it."

Through our bodies, we express our personality, quirks, and emotions. You can tell what someone's heart is going through by their facial expressions and voice intonation. So too, my haircuts and colors offered an opportunity to express the interior of my heart and experience of my interior life.  

But instead of using my voice and actions to describe what was going on in my heart, or the pressures I was feeling, I hid my emotions and reached for the scissors or box dye. I was making physical what was going on in my heart and soul, but not in the healthiest way.

Desiring to be seen

Anytime I wanted to feel confident, I would head over to my local hairstylist and get my hair trimmed (or, if I was really striving for confidence, I’d chop all of my hair off). When I felt out of control, or thought that I wasn’t being known, loved, or cared for, I’d pull a bottle of hair dye off the shelf and control the small things I could, hoping the change would spark reaction from friends.

Looking back, many of my most dramatic hair changes were centered around events in my life where I felt lost, out of control, and unseen.

You are magnificent beyond measure, perfect in your imperfections, and fearfully and wonderfully made
— Abiola Abrams

It only took years (and a lot of hair damage) to see that the way God made my hair is beautiful, not something to run from or hide behind. Now, before I head in for anything more than a normally scheduled haircut, I ask myself if I want a change in my hair or if I need to open up authentically with someone and process things I’ve been stuffing down.

Maybe it’s not your haircut - maybe it’s your makeup, clothing styles, or social media posts. If you are hiding things about yourself because they "don't look good," or aren't perfect, let my crazy hair journey be a reminder that God wants ALL of you. 

Haircuts, hair dyes, fashion, and social media aren’t bad themselves. In fact, they’re beautiful ways that we can express our authentic selves. But sometimes, we can fall into the trap of hiding behind those things in an attempt to make it seem like our lives are all together. We don’t have to have everything together to be loved by God. We don’t have to hustle for his love.

He made you the way you are and sees you as good. He calls you daughter. What in your life is keeping you from seeing yourself through the Father’s gaze?

7 Quick Takes 67: Books, Bethlehem, and Chicken Breakfasts

Happy Friday! It’s been a busy week around our house. Joseph and I have a date night tonight, and it’s the first time this week that we’ve had an evening together since last Sunday! The rest of today looks pretty chill. Instead of running some errands, I set up my home office in our front room. I’m waiting for a FedEx delivery that requires a signature. Given that they’re wanting my autograph, I’m not going to miss this delivery.

But before the FedEx delivery driver pulls up and I sign on the dotted line, here’s a quick look at the Langr adventures from the past week:

1. Langr wedding selfies

We took a trip into Topeka last weekend for the wedding of a family friend. Of course we can’t go to a wedding without taking a few selfies with random objects. The couple’s reception was at a local train museum, so we didn’t have to look far for good photo props.

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2. There’s still time for 2019 resolutions!

This month we’re all making (and breaking?) resolutions. If you’re not doing so hot with your resolutions, don’t worry. There’s still time.

This week, I sat down with Brenda from Mater Dei Radio and talked about my six favorite Catholic resolutions for 2019. Take a listen here!

3. Bibliophile problems

Between Christmas and New Years, Joseph and I caught up with good friends from college. Fortunately, some of those friends are avid readers and had some great book recommendations. Again, fortunately, the library had every single one of their recommendations, so of course I requested them all.

Unfortunately, all the books came in at once, and I’m sitting here staring at a wonderful collection of books that I can’t possibly finish in 3 weeks. I just have my fingers crossed that no one else wants to read them and I can renew them a few times before returning!

4. Laundry master

Monday, I resolved to tackle the laundry pile. New year, new me, right?

While folding laundry I realized that it won’t be too long before I’m folding laundry for three. To make the laundry situation worse, the littles Langr is going to be dirtying clothes at a much higher rate than Joseph and I. At that realization, I was thankful for the relatively small pile of laundry to fold!

5. Thrift store shoppin’

Last night I stopped in the library (since another book was ready for me to pick up) while Joseph was at dinner with friends. Next door to the local library is a thrift store, and let me tell you what, that’s a dangerous combination.

I’ve been looking for a winter coat for the rest of winter, but instead found a warm, pregnant-friendly sweater that has some expansion zippers. It’s perfect for wearing under a winter coat that’s getting a little snug thanks to the littlest Langr (who weighs over a pound now and is almost 12 inches long!)

6. Winner, winner, chicken breakfast

One of our local Chick-fil-A restaurants held a contest on Facebook the past week. Each day, they posted a trivia question and the first five people to respond correctly got a free menu item. Because I have way too much brain space full of Chick-fil-A trivia, you can be that I had their Facebook page pulled up in the mornings and had my fingers crossed for a chance to win some waffle fries.

I correctly (and quickly!) answered a quuestion about their coffee menu (of course), and won a free breakfast and coffee. I’m excited to head over there. Not today, because I’m waiting on that package. But maybe tomorrow. Just not Sunday (when I’ll actually be craving it, because that’s how Chick-fil-A works).

7. Want to come to the Holy Land with me?

I’m headed to Israel soon on pilgrimage and I want to take your prayer requests with me! Check out this post for more information and I’ll see you in Bethlehem!

Want to Come to the Holy Land with me?

Would you love to go on pilgrimage to the Holy Land, but find that you just can’t make the trip?

Maybe vacation time is sparse at work. Tight budgets make travel impossible. Your health may keep you from making the pilgrimage journey. Littles may be running around, making a 10+ hour plane ride seem CRAZY.

This month, I’m headed to Israel for a pilgrimage and I would love for you to come along with me thanks to a virtual pilgrimage I’m helping create. Follow School of Faith, an organization I work for as a digital media publisher and the group that I’m going on pilgrimage with, on social media to join me!

We’ll be traveling to Bethlehem, the Jordan River, the Sea of Galilee, Cana, Nazareth, and many other pilgrimage sites. I’ve spent so much time researching all the spots we’re going to, and my mind is constantly blown by the sheer beauty of our faith and the places where we’ll be walking.

How do you join us on virtual pilgrimage? Every day of the pilgrimage, I’l be posting reflections, photos, and videos from our pilgrimage on our website and social media accounts. It’ll be like traveling along with us. 

But I also want to carry your prayer intentions with me to the Holy Land. You can comment on this post with your prayer requests, submit them through with this form, or reach out to me with them. You can also comment with your prayer requests throughout the virtual pilgrimage posts on social media.

I will be praying for you at every site along our pilgrimage. I ask for your prayers as well for the pilgrims traveling to Israel this year. 

Keep an eye out for our first posts coming January 25th! Please send me your prayer requests, and I’ll see you in the Holy Land!