7QT 58: Growing babies and Wilson snuggles

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Happy Saturday eve! It’s been a hot minute since I’ve been able to share my 7 Quick Takes with you all! Morning sickness has wiped me out over the past couple of weeks, and I’m playing catch-up on a lot of things - including this blog! This 7 Quick Takes is a hodge-podge of a couple of week’s adventures in the Langr house!

1. Rain, wind, go away, we wanted to fly balloons today!

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A few weekends ago we took a road trip to Topeka to be on a hot air balloon crew. It’s been Joseph and I’s tradition to crew for balloons every fall, but this year the weather didn’t want to cooperate. We were hoping for a flight for Friday night or Saturday morning since we had to head back to Kansas City for a weekend wedding. Sadly, we never got to help the balloons take off or glow, but the crew got a flight in on Sunday morning that looked gorgeous! Maybe next year, with a little baby in tow, the weather will be good!

2. Langr wedding selfies

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No wedding would be complete without a few Langr selfies! We snuck outside for this shot.

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We loved how the bride and groom put disposable cameras on the dinner tables, so most of our selfies were with the camera. We did have a friend take a photo of us at the reception! The venue was gorgeous and so was the ceremony. Congratulations, Torin and Ashley! We loved celebrating your day with you.

3. Growing, growing, growing

I wasn’t expecting to grow out of my non-maternity jeans so quickly, but we’re bumping into week 8 and my jeans are not as friendly as they once were. So we’re off on a mini-shopping trip this weekend to see if I can snag a pair of maternity pants to grow with me. This baby isn’t that big yet, but I think they’re a huge fan of having their own personal bubble, and are pushing my organs out of the way to achieve the goal.

4. Young, married, and social

We recently helped start a new group at our parish for young married couples! We wanted to get to know other people in a similar season of life, and be able to encourage each other in our vocations. Last weekend, we helped host a happy hour at the parish rectory. 10 couples came and we had a blast getting to know them! We can’t wait for our next social event. We even made it on our parish Instagram story!

If you’re a young couple in the Kansas City area who’s been married for less than 5 years, send me an e-mail! I’d love to get you connected to our new group.

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5. Speak(er) up

Last Friday we took a road trip to Lawrence for a benefit sale hosted by For Your Ears Only. Their an organization that reads magazines and newspapers out loud so that people with vision impairment can still get the news. The sale included vintage records, CDs (which are almost a vintage item, I guess?) and donated audio equipment.

We snagged a pair of Martin Logan speakers (a locally made brand!) for a fraction of the cost and had a lot of fun this past week playing with their sound. Currently their set up with our Amazon Alexa, and she’s never sounded better! We’re hoping eventually to use them in a surround sound system.

6. Maybe I work better under pressure

The final draft of my book project with Our Sunday Visitor is due mid-December. Since morning sickness has gotten the best of me these past few weeks, I’m a little bit behind in projects. But this week I’ve been setting miniature deadlines for myself and working on the book project. Please keep the project, this little baby, and myself in your prayers! Every time that I sit down to write, I don’t feel so hot, so I don’t think the baby is a huge fan of writing!

7. Cuddling Wilson

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Wilson and I snuggled up a few nights ago for some quality time. He’s shedding like nobody’s business - which doesn’t make too much since given the fact that the first day of fall is tomorrow. Maybe he’s our own farmer’s almanac and is warning us of a warm winter. That’d be fine with me!

Overcoming Fear in Pregnancy After Loss

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Having a baby after a miscarriage is both an exciting and scary time. While the excitement for the sweet little person growing inside of you is wonderful, fear about the ‘what if’s’ can sometimes drown out the joy.

Even though I love telling others about the little life growing inside of me, there’s also a shadow of fear that seems to follow pregnancy after loss.

Long gone is the innocence that I had with our first pregnancy with Marion. We now know that positive pregnancy tests don’t always mean snuggling with a baby nine months later, and sonograms are sometimes filled with tears and bad news instead of cute baby’s first pictures.

While I would love to spend all day picking out baby names and browsing through maternity dresses, sometimes something seems to hold me back. Even making plans for what next Spring will look like can be a daunting task. After all, there are no guarantees with life.

In a time that’s full of smiles and worries, how can you overcome fear and joyfully embrace this little and the adventures they bring? Since I’m living in this season right now, how do I work to overcome fear?

Jesus, I trust in you

A prayer that has been on my heart and lips every day since we first found out that we’re expecting is a simple one: Jesus, I trust in you.

The temptation in pregnancy after loss is the cling to my plans for this baby’s life, to demand that God give me a break, and hesitate to trust Him with our child’s life. But if I stand here, clutching on to my plans, I won’t be able to open up my hands and receive the graces that God wants to shower on me and this little baby during this season.

I don’t know what this pregnancy will hold, or if we’ll get to meet this sweet little person growing inside of me. But I do know that God has a plan. I know that He’s a good, good, Father who shows up and keeps His promises. He’s trustworthy, a firm foundation even when everything else seems to be falling apart.

Within minutes of seeing the positive pregnancy test, Joseph and I entrusted our little baby to the Lord and to the Blessed Mother. We asked for the graces of trust and courage in this season.

Treasure every moment

I can spend time comparing every minute of this pregnancy to our pregnancy with Marion, and I’d be lying if I said I haven’t compared the two already. Already, this baby is farther along developmentally than Marion ever was.

But as we get ready to enter into the eighth week of pregnancy, I’m reminded that this was the week that we lost Marion.

It would be easy to enter into this week with fear, but instead, I want to choose love. I want to treasure every minute that we have with this little baby.

If God will us to meet this little person, bring them home from the hospital in May, and snuggle with them as they grow up, I still want to learn to treasure every moment. Nothing is guaranteed. But I won’t be able to enjoy even the moments that I do have if I’m wrapped up in fear.

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment,” Saint John writes. “and so one who fears is not yet perfect in love.”

Be Not Afraid

Saint Pope John Paul the Great’s battle anthem encouraging us to ‘be not afraid’ is one that has rang loud in my heart for years now.

When I discerned my vocation to marriage with Joseph? Be not afraid.

When we lost Marion to a miscarriage over a year and a half ago? Be not afraid.

When we found out that we were pregnant three weeks ago? Be not afraid.

It’s a phrase that’s engraved in the inside of Joseph and I’s wedding bands for a reason. If I ever muster up the courage to get a tattoo, that’s the phrase I’ve chosen.

“There is no place for selfishness and no place for fear! Do not be afraid, then, when love makes demands,” John Paul II said. “Do not be afraid when love requires sacrifice.”

Loving the baby that’s growing inside of me requires a lot of sacrifice right now. Mornings are riddled with nausea, feeling light headed, and fatigue. My body is changing, making room for this new life inside of me.

Be not afraid.

This week, even amidst the fear, I’m choosing love.

Would you pray for trust and courage for Joseph and I as we enter into this eighth week? How can we pray for you?

Want to know more about pregnancy after loss? Earlier this year, I sat down with Laura Kelly Fanucci. She’s a mother, writer, and wonderer who has been an incredible resource to me during this season. Listen to our podcast together and head over to her website, ‘Mothering Spirit’ to learn more about her story.


7QT 57: Babies, Brunches, and Bunnies

Hi there! It's been a hot minute since I've had time to sit down and write a 7 Quick Takes. This weekend, Joseph and I are headed to a hot air balloon rally and then we're off to a wedding! We packed in a lot of adventures and excitement in the past few weeks and I can't wait to share it with you!

Before we put on our wedding dancing shoes, here's a look back at what's new in the Langr house:

 

1. Something sweet is brewing!

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Last week we found out we're expecting! Our sweet little baby is due at the beginning of May and we're so excited!

We had our first ultrasound this week and the baby is looking great. We're about six weeks along and we were able to see their tiny little heartbeat. Please keep our growing little family in your prayers!

 

2. Coffee? No thank you

With little babies come morning sickness. This pregnancy has left me drinking ginger ale and surviving off of saltine crackers and mashed potatoes. But one of the most unfortunate food aversions from this pregnancy is coffee.

I went most of the week without having coffee. I sat down with a friend for a coffee date this week, but even my usual iced coffee order didn't taste quite as good as I hoped it would. 

The people at Dunkin' are going to start sending out a search parties soon. 

 

3. DIY car projects

Before I married Joseph, I knew very little about cars. I knew how to turn them on and how to fill them with gas, but that was about it. But since we've been married, I've learned quite a bit. I can now change the oil in my car, and keep an eye on tire pressure myself!

This week, Joseph and I tackled a bigger project. The rear breaks in both my car and his car need replacing. The big box of parts arrived this week, so hopefully we'll be able to finish the project sometime next week!

Before you know it, we'll be a full service auto shop. 

 

4. Brunching and munching

We've had quite a bit of brunching over the past couple of weeks. A few weekends ago, we had some friends over for a late brunch and holy leisure. Then last weekend we sat down to brunch with some friends from church after the later morning Mass. 

One of the new menu items at the restaurant we ended up at was pumpkin pancakes. I figured since I can't have a pumpkin spice latte, pumpkin pancakes would be a close second. They were amazing.

Bring it on, Fall. I'm ready for you.  

 

5. Up, up and away?

For years, Joseph has been on balloon crew for our local balloon rally. He invited me along to help crew and jump in a hot air balloon basket back in 2015 on our third date. Ever since then, crewing together has become our September tradition. I'm always amazed by how beautiful the balloons are. Here's a picture that Joseph snapped two years ago:

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Tonight's the first night of the balloon rally and the weather is looking rainy. We'll see what happens! If anything, we packed our rain ponchos from our Colorado camping trip, so we'll be nice and dry! 

 

6. Langr wedding selfies

A few weekends ago, we took a road trip to Iowa for a family wedding. Of course we snapped some selfies between the ceremony and the dance party. 

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The wedding and reception were both in a gorgeous little pavilion.

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But we couldn't resist taking a selfie with the line of picnic tables that had been removed from the pavilion for the reception. 

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Congratulations Dan and Krisztina! We're so excited for your life together. 

 

7. Time for Wilson's close up

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Joseph cleaned out Wilson's cage last night and made sure to get some close-up pictures for this week's 7 Quick Takes. Wilson is doing great. But despite the weather turning a little bit colder, he's shedding like nobody's business.

He still loves chewing up his litter box, throwing his cat toy around, and being the loudest and most rambunctious at 11 pm.

4 Ways to Discern a Family with Your Spouse

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Even before Joseph proposed to me, we talked about our future babies a lot. While I’m the oldest of eight kids, Joseph has one little sister. But despite the differences in our family of origin, we were excited to have our own children. After we got married, we decided to be open to having a baby right away, and we conceived our son, Marion, on our honeymoon almost two years ago.

But just eight weeks into the pregnancy, we lost Marion in a miscarriage. After healing emotionally, physically, and spiritually from that loss, we began to discern adding another person to our family. Despite our openness to another baby, a diagnosis of secondary infertility means that our life as a married couple doesn’t quite look like what we thought it would back when we daydreamed during our engagement.

Read more: 7 Things Couples Experiencing Infertility Want You to Know

As a married couple, we’ve done a lot of the things that couples do when they wait for littles to arrive. We’ve traveled to the beach for vacation. This summer, we backpacked through the mountains together. We’ve made (and eaten!) great food. Last spring we adopted a pet rabbit. We spend quite a bit of quality time together, and have a wonderful community surrounding us. Because our schedules are more open than couples we know who have littles, we’ve been able to say yes to a host of ministry opportunities in our parish that we wouldn’t have been able to commit to if we had children running around. And while we love our lives together as a married couple, we’re also open to all of that changing with a positive pregnancy test.

But discerning having more children (especially after losing Marion) has been a lot tougher than we expected. Just how do you sort through the host of questions that come with thinking about babies? Sure, we pray about God’s will for our family — and ask Him regularly to conform our will to His. But we’ve often wondered how often we should bring up the subject of babies with each other. We ask each other how to discern being a responsible parent.

Joseph and I know we aren’t the only married couple asking ourselves these questions. For couples in their fertile years, these questions can be difficult.

Click over to Aleteia to read four tips from couples on how they discerned when to bring children into their family. 

I Saved Sex for Marriage and I Don't Regret a Thing

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When I was a teenager, I decided to save sex for marriage. I didn’t make that decision out of fear. My decision to save sex for marriage wasn’t because I thought that sex was bad or dirty. I realized that if I was called to marriage, I’d come to my wedding night without any ‘experience’. But I wanted to love my future spouse freely, totally, faithfully, and fruitfully. My husband and I have been married for a year and a half now. Was our wedding night awkward? It actually wasn’t. Instead, it was really beautiful. I chose to come to the wedding night as a virgin – and I don’t regret a thing.

Today, sex seems to jump out of every magazine, movie plot line, and billboard. Saving sex for marriage can seem prudish and old fashioned. But despite how sex-saturated our culture is, conversations about sex, intimacy, and virginity tend to make people uncomfortable. Many of us may find ourselves echoing the thoughts of Saint Augustine when he cried out “Give me chastity …but not yet!”

If you’re wondering whether it’s worth the wait to save sex for marriage, click over to Catholic Singles for four things to think about

7 QT 56: Book writing, pour overs, and rainy days

Happy Saturday eve! The weekend is almost here and that means a family wedding and brunch with friends! But before we bust a move on the wedding dance floor (and take the obligatory Langr wedding selfies!), here's a quick look back on the adventures we've had over the past few weeks: 

1. Writing a book is hard

Just before writing these quick takes, I sent off my first draft of the book project I'm writing to my editor. Already, I've learned quite a few things from this project.

For one, writing a book is hard work. It's actually a lot harder than I'd thought it would be.

Also, trips to Dunkin' Donuts (and cans of Dr. Pepper) are great motivators. After I finish typing this up, I'm headed upstairs to snag a Dr. Pepper that I promised myself after sending in the first draft.

Procrastination is REAL, folks. This week I even resorted to washing and folding the laundry in my efforts to not write a book. I hate laundry with the passion of a thousand suns. So if I'm folding laundry willingly (before the laundry basket has started overflowing, even), you know it's bad. 

But I've also learned that if Jesus has a plan to work through my writing and speak to the hearts of women, I'm not strong enough to wreck that plan. Please continue to keep this project in your prayers!

 

2. Pour-overs are saving my life right now

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Have you ever thought that coffee from a coffee shop tastes different than the kind of coffee you make at home? Have you ever wondered what the secret is to attaining that flavor from the comfort of your kitchen? A couple of weeks ago,  I discovered the secret: the pour over.

Now, I'm not an expert at pour-over coffee by any means. One day this week I had to make two pour overs in the morning because I accidentally punched a hole through the filter and just poured all the coffee grounds into my coffee cup. 

But dang, when I make it right, it tastes good. Also, the fact that it takes a little longer to make (and more intentional effort!) has stopped me from drinking my regular 2 cups a day. So it's healthier for you, too. Why are you still reading this? Get up and go buy yourself one of these. I'll wait. 

 

3. Dunkin Donuts Mystery Solver

Last Monday night, I casually swung by Dunkin Donuts at 7pm (no, caffeine does not affect me anymore) with my sister, Reagan. I was all lined up for my free coffee of any size after a home game of the Kansas City Royals. But I didn't get too far before the barista stopped and let me know that the promotion is only applicable in Missouri. 

So that's why my last "free" coffees have cost me. Mystery solved. But, in good caffeine news, Dunkin' sent me a free coffee of my choice, so all has been redeemed. 

 

4. Shhhh. . . .this is a silent retreat

Last weekend, Joseph and I went on a silent retreat together. It had been a while since I'd been on silent retreat, so I was excited. My inner homeschooled introvert was very pumped. 

But there's nothing like a silent retreat to reveal just how much you actually talk. Which in my case is . . . a lot. I talk a lot. Blame my external processing, but it was much harder than expected to be silent over the weekend.

When I was talking to a friend about his experience with silent retreats, he told me that one time he'd been on silent retreat and written down a page and half of jokes and puns that came to him during silence. I didn't reach that point during last weekend's retreat, but I did have a list going of things I wanted to ask Joseph after the silence ended.

Granted, most of the questions were things like: "Where did I leave my wallet" and "Did you remember to turn of the AC when we left the house". But by the time the silence ended, I found my wallet and remembered that I turned off the AC. Don't worry, I also took time for prayer! 

 

5. Rain, rain, go away. No come back. We need you. 

It's been a dry summer here in Kansas and this week was full of storm clouds and rain puddles. As much as I love going to sleep in rainy weather (it's like nature's white noise machine!), rainy day after rainy day can leave me feeling gloomy and unmotivated - see the first quick take. 

On the bright side, I barely had to water my outside plants this week. 

The rain brought with it some beautiful fall weather, which was awesome. I'm now ready for pumpkin spice everything and some chunky fall knit sweaters. But, it's Kansas, so naturally it's 92 degrees outside today. Come on weather, make up your dang mind. 

 

6. Go bods!

This week, Joseph and I took a road trip to my alma mater, Washburn University. The Catholic Campus Center at WU invited me to give a talk at their freshmen orientation on how to stay Catholic in college - keep an eye out for a blog post on the topic soon! 

It's crazy to think that freshman year was just five short years ago - and that Joseph and I have been out of college for almost two years. It was great to visit the center again and get to know the newest students on campus. 

 

7. Wilson is . . . well, Wilson

Wilson asked me to give you a quick update on his life since he has been feeling left out of the quick takes lately. He's doing great - as hoppy as ever. Last night he devoured a carrot (typical rabbit move), and has been shedding like crazy. Aren't animals supposed to not shed as cold weather gets closer? Anyway, Wilson sends you all his love. 

4 Sweater-Weather Ready Pieces for Fall (That Are Ethically Made)

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I know, I know. It's only August. But here in Kansas City, the weather has dropped to a delicious 70 degrees. And you know what that means . . . sweaters, warm blankets, candles, space heaters, boots, knit socks, and steaming mugs of coffee (but you all know I drink coffee all the time, so no big change there). So even though it's probably going to be 90 degrees this weekend (thank you, Kansas weather), I'm reveling in all the Fall things right now. 

Another thing I've been thinking about a lot lately is how our fashion choices matter. I recently read a great pieces by Andrea Pfarr on ethical fashion over at FemCatholic and it got me thinking, researching, and closet purging. 

"Ethical fashion upholds the dignity of its workers at every level — from the cotton picking, to the manufacture of the raw fabric, to the garment production," Andrea writes. 

I love talking about human dignity, and exposing a culture of use in today's culture. But what about my clothing choices? Do they reflect that passion of mine? A quick peak into my closet revealed a big, fat nope. Brands like Forever 21, H&M, and Urban Outfitters stared back at me. 

What you have in your closet isn't just about you. From those who plant, grow, and harvest cotton to the men and women who put the final touches on that t-shirt, there are so many people who's lives are affected by our fashion choices. 

Ethically made clothing isn't just a fashion issue though - it's a Catholic issue. 

"The consumer has a specific social responsibility, which goes hand-in- hand with the social responsibility of the enterprise. Consumers should be continually educate regarding their daily role, which can be exercised with respect for moral principles without diminishing the intrinsic economic rationality of the act of purchasing," Pope Benedict XVI wrote in his encyclical letter Caritas in veritate

It is good for people to realize that purchasing is always a moral - and not simply economic- act.
— Pope Benedict XVI

I'm not going to sugar coat it, friends. You'll often find that it's a heck of a lot cheaper to buy fast fashion than it is to invest in ethically made fashion pieces. But there's a reason ethically made clothing pieces cost more than something you could pick up at your local Forever 21. The cost factors in the fact that everyone involved in making that sweater, dress, or pair of ants was paid a fair wage and treated justly. And that is absolutely worth the extra money that you'll spend on ethical fashion. 

If you, like me, are eagerly pulling out your boot socks and knit scarves, here are four gorgeous fall sweaters that are not only beautiful, but also ethically made. Bonus - they're all under $50.00. 

TenTree // Morgen Sweater

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Krochet Kids // Saturdays Sweater

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Ash and Rose // Nancy Sweater

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Which of these ethically made sweaters is your favorite? Do you have ethically made pieces hanging up in your closet right now? What do you love about them?

3 Women Saints Who Know the Pain of Miscarriage

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Despite miscarriage being a heartache that one in four women experience, losing our son at eight weeks gestation was incredibly isolating. Even though almost every woman I interacted with in the emergency room while I was miscarrying knew exactly what I was going through, after I came home from the hospital, I didn’t know where to turn.

Most women I knew followed the “12-week rule” — they didn’t mention they were pregnant until the first trimester was behind them, just in case something happened in the early stages of pregnancy. As a result, I didn’t know who to turn to to process my grief. Although I brought the pain of our miscarriage into conversation and prayer with my husband, both he and I processed Marion’s death differently. I desired to be surrounded by a community of women who knew what I was going through, but I had a hard time finding women who wanted to discuss the subject with me.

One immense comfort in healing after losing our son was knowing that I wasn’t alone when it came to saints in Heaven. If you are experiencing the pain of losing a child through miscarriage, know that you’re not alone – you’re surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses who know the exact ache your heart is feeling.

Click here to get to know three saints to turn to when grieving the loss of your sweet little one. 

Cry Out With a Thousand Tongues

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This post is about a topic that I've found myself wanting to avoid. It's about scandals that no one wants to talk about. And it is precisely for that reason that I want to have a conversation about it. We can't let fear hold us back from the truth. We can't let the desire to be comfortable keep us from pursuing justice.

To stay updated with Catholic news for my freelance work, I've set up alerts to deliver top articles and breaking news directly to my inbox. I start off each workday by pouring myself a cup of coffee and going through the headlines.

My heart is broken every morning when I sit down to sift through each day's articles. First we heard of the scandals surrounding then-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. It was a scandal that was different than any we'd processed before. Despite allegations, McCarrick continued to rise through the ranks of the Church's hierarchy. Not only that, but McCarrick was the public face for the Church's response to the sex abuse scandals of the early 2000s.   

Today, the Pennsylvania grand jury accused over 300 priests of abuse and bishops of covering up the scandals. The jury's report amounts to 1,356 pages of evidence and details about the levels of abuse that occurred in six Pennsylvania dioceses. I'm 7 pages in and I'm sick to my stomach. 

The report is full of instances of men not acting as priests of God, but instead as predators and abusers. 

"There have been other reports about child sex abuse within the Catholic Church," the report reads. "But never on this scale. For many of us, those earlier stories happened someplace else, someplace away. Now we know the truth: It happened everywhere."

So many questions flood our minds as we read headline after headline and hear story after story. 

"Who knew about this?"

"When did they know about it?"

"Why didn't anyone do anything?"

"How did this happen?"

"When will this stop?"

"What can we do?"

It's easy to delete the e-mails from my inbox that carry with them the news of more scandal. It's tempting to bury our heads in the sand and come up for breath when the worst is over.

We can't do that anymore.

We can't avoid this brokenness or turn a blind eye at risk of this deep wound becoming more and more decayed. 

"We are going to name their names, and describe what they did - both the sex offenders and those who concealed them," the recent report from the grand jury in Pennsylvania reads. "We are going to shine a light on their conduct, because that is what the victims deserve. And we are going to make our recommendations for how the laws should change so that maybe no one will have to conduct another inquiry like this one."

Our response as Catholics to this latest scandal cannot simply involve reading opinions and news articles about the subject. We must respond and cry out for healing.  Yes, our God is merciful, but He is also a God of justice. We must commit to change - even if we're not quite sure what our role will look like yet. 

Don't rot in silence. Don't settle. Don't retreat. Cry out. Demand justice. 

Brick House in the City recently shared a quote from Saint Catherine of Siena that sums up everything on my heart recently: "We've had enough exhortations to be silent. Cry out with a thousand tongues. I see the world is rotten because of silence." 

7 Days to a Better, Sacramental Body Image

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Do you struggle to see yourself as good, beautiful, and worthy of love? Sister, you're not alone.

Dissatisfaction with the way we look as women starts young. 53% of 13 year old girls are unhappy with the way they look - and that number jumps to 78% by the time they celebrate their 17th birthday. As we get older, our body image doesn't get better. 8 in 10 women in the United States don't like how they look, while 7 in 10 healthy-weight women want to be thinner

Viewing our bodies as good and holy is challenging in today's world. But in addition to viewing our bodies as good, the Catholic Church invites women and men to view their bodies as sacramental. A sacramental view of the body means that we see our bodies as ways to express our love of God and neighbor.

In fact, Saint Pope John Paul II devoted 129 Wednesday audiences to defining what he called the "Theology of the Body". In those lectures he said that "the body, and only the body, is capable of making visible what is invisible: the spiritual and the divine. It has been created to transfer the visible reality of the world, the mystery hidden from eternity in God, and thus be a sign of it." 

If you struggle with healthy body image, or even the concept of seeing the body as sacramental, here are seven things you can do this week to grow in a sacramental view of your body: 

1. Surround yourself with friends who recognize your beauty

I've never liked my legs - they didn't look like this idealized image I'd seen in commercials and magazines growing up. But I didn't tell anyone about that until I was in college. When I shared that insecurity with friends who I trusted, I was met with empathy, affirmation, and encouragement. The women who I was vulnerable with didn't let me wallow in self-deprecation. They stopped me in the middle of my critical monologue. Gently, my friends encouraged me to see my body as beautiful. 

If you're struggling to see your body as good, surround yourself with women who are striving to see their bodies as good and holy. Making friends as an adult can be hard though. It's for sure a lot harder than it was when we were in preschool and became friends with someone because they had the same shoes! Check out this episode of Letters to Women where Katrina Even and I talk about wholesome friendships. 

2. Get rid of negative inspiration

In college, I struggled with self-care and unhealthy eating habits. My shrinking weight wasn't due to healthy eating and an exercise plan. Instead, stress numbed my desire for food and I slowly bought into the lie that I wasn't worthy of grabbing dinner when my schedule was busy. But the social media I consumed wasn't helping me reject those unhealthy habits. My Pinterest board and Instagram feed preached to me about unrealistic expectations for my body. 

Part of realizing my worthiness and the importance of self-care involved un-following some accounts and unpinning images that were encouraging my unhealthy habits. 

Today, do an audit on your social media. Is it full of negative talk about bodies, or photo-shopped images of beauty that are impossible to attain? Replace them with accounts that have a no photo-shop policy (like this one!) and be surrounded by healthy, wholesome inspiration. 

3. Stop criticizing your body

"This workout is great, but what I really want to do is something that will get rid of this," I told myself as I looked in the gym mirror. But my negative self-talk wasn't restricted to just the gym. When I did take time to eat or pause for a minute, my self-talk showed up at the table, too. "It's great that you're enjoying this latte today, but keep track of the calories so that you can run them off tonight after work," I would think to myself as I sat down at my favorite coffee shop during college. 

We can be our own worst enemies sometimes when it comes to body image. Self-criticism just encourages you to highlight your insecurities. Instead of rejoicing in your strengths and gifts, you get bogged down in what you see as your worst possible characteristics. Stop that. "Be nice to yourself. It’s hard to be happy when someone is mean to you all the time," Christine Arylo writes. 

4. Call out truths about yourself

It's easy to listen to the lies that the devil sows in your heart when it comes to body image. It's a lot harder to recognize and call out the truths that the Father sings over us. What are truths about yourself? 

It could be something as simple as your height or your hair color. Maybe it's your contagious laughter, your quick wit, or love of puns. These are all things that make you unique and unrepeatable. 

Tonight, write down ten truths about who God has created you to be. You could even take a journal to adoration and write down your truths while in the gaze of Christ in the Eucharist. If you ever doubt your beauty and your worth, you can find it in the eyes of Christ. 

5. Make a plan

What is standing in between you and a healthier body image? Is it your eating habits? Sit down tonight and write down a meal plan for the next week. Then go to the grocery store, fill up your fridge with foods that will help you take care of yourself, and do some meal prep so you won't have an excuse to not make yourself lunch. 

Is comparing your body to women around you hurting how you think of yourself? Break the cycle of insecurity and envy by reflecting on the unique set of gifts and talents God has given you. What would the world look like if Mother Teresa wanted to be just like Saint Teresa of Avila? What if you couldn't get your teeth cleaned because all the dentists wanted to be professional soccer players? Diversity in appearances, vocations, and talents is a good thing. But you can't start appreciating your own gifts and talents until you stop holding them up in comparison to everyone else's. 

Don't get stuck just thinking about what it would be like to have a healthier body image. Take concrete steps today to accomplish your goal of seeing yourself as good and worthy. 

6. Be patient with yourself

Just like you didn't get to where you are today with body image, you won't be able to do a complete lifestyle change in a single day. 

During my journey to healthier body image, I've been greatly comforted by the advice of the saints. One of my favorite quotes has been one written by Saint Francis de Sales: 

"Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections but instantly set about remedying them - every day begin the task anew."

7. Check your closet

When I was in college, I bought a maxi skirt that didn't fit me the way I thought it would. I didn't realize it didn't fit (because why would I do the normal thing and try things on at the store?), but I also didn't return it. Instead, I folded it up and decided I would keep it. 

So it sat in my closet. The skirt was a reminder that my body wasn't what I expected it to be. But instead of donating the skirt, I kept it.

Before long, I begin to resent that skirt - and in doing so, I began to resent my body. Instead of being grateful for the temple of the Holy Spirit that God has given me, I beat myself up and I blamed my body. It didn't take too long before my body image took a turn for the worst. It was only after I donated that skirt to the local thrift store that I was able to look at the dresser drawer without mentally beating myself up. 

There is no point to keeping clothes in your closet that make you feel like you're less-than. So whether it's something you thought you would be wearing by now, or that pair of jeans that you'd thought would look different on you now, don't keep those. If your clothes don't help you confidently appreciate the woman that God's created you to be, toss 'em. 

7 QT 55: Introvert weekends, Hallmark movies, and free coffee

It's Friday (Friday, gotta get down on Friday)! This week has flown by, and it was chock full of beautiful community, fun, and relaxing. Before we start the weekend, here's a quick look at the adventures that went down in the Langr house this week! 

 

1. My don't plan a dang thing weekend

Last weekend, Joseph was out at the lake for a bachelor party. When I have a free weekend to myself, I tend to stuff it with coffee dates, errands, and to-do lists. Last weekend though, I blocked out the entire weekend and wrote reminders to myself in our Google calendar to not plan a dang thing.

Well, actually I used the other "d" word. I don't usually cuss, but when I do, it's at myself in a calendar reminder to take some time for self-care.

I spent the weekend reading, seeing family, drinking coffee, visiting my favorite stores, and writing. It was glorious!

 

2. Pay attention to me, I want to buy your coffee

Saturday I went home to spend time with my family while Joseph was at the lake. My mom and I went out for coffee to celebrate her birthday a few days late and we stopped at Dunkin' Donuts. My mom got her free birthday drink, but the barista didn't come back to take my order after giving my mom her coffee. 

So I stood there at the counter staring at the menu for a solid 6 minutes, trying to be obviously waiting to order. One of the other baristas got the hint eventually and came out from the kitchen. I ordered my regular (medium iced coffee with the vanilla flavor swirl, cream, and no sugar if you're looking for a winner of a drink), and he promptly gave me a large instead of a medium, and didn't charge me at all because of my wait.

Okay, so I'll gladly exchange 6 minutes of menu-staring for a free coffee. 

 

3. Hallmark movies: Corny, predictable as heck, still entertaining

During my introvert-recharge weekend, I got my fill of cheesy Hallmark-type romantic comedies - like this one which is about a woman who runs a cupcake bakery and meets the wrong guy on a blind date because she forgot about daylight savings time. Yep, you called it, they fall in love and she wins the cupcake contest because of a cupcake inspired by him. How'd you guess?

I love how comfortingly predictable Hallmark movies are though. Their Christmas special? Probably about a woman named "Holly" who returns home for Christmas after a stressful quarter at her law firm and falls in love with the kid she ignored in high school who now runs a Christmas tree farm. 

I mean, life is crazy and unpredictable. There's nothing like a good night of Hallmark movies sometimes to bring some stability into your life. 

 

4. I scream, you scream, we all scream for . . . free pizza

Joseph and I met my family at the minor league baseball stadium in Kansas City Monday night for our first ball game of the season. 

Little league baseball games are so fun - they had games on the field for fans at the end of every inning. They give away free tickets to people in certain seats, and they also give away free food. When they announced that they would give the loudest fan a free large pizza, our section went crazy. Here's an accurate representation: 

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The pizza was delicious. 

 

5. The fly porter

For some unknown reason (okay, it was probably the trash that I should have taken out Monday but didn't get to 'til Wednesday), there have been a couple of persistent flies buzzing around our house this week. 

Unfortunately, we don't have a fly-swatter in our house (forgot to put it on the wedding registry, I guess), so I've had to resort to swinging wildly around the home office, armed with a rolled up magazine. For the life of me today, I couldn't get near the biggest fly I've ever seen that loved to buzz right by my head while I was typing away. Frustrated, I stood up and opened our basement door a little bit - and the fly flew right out. 

I've now decided to call myself the fly porter and play doorman to all of those annoying little bugs. We'll see how that goes. Maybe I should just run down to Walmart and buy a fly swatter. 

 

6. One does not simply write a book

After signing a book contract last week, I've started the prep work for the writing process. A portion of the book is already written, but there's still a lot to be done before the final draft deadline in December. As in, this December, just five months away. No pressure. 

So far I've written out a lot of brainstorming ideas, listened to a lot of podcasts, and read blogs and books to gather resources. But I haven't started writing the actual text of the book - I think it's because the reality of the project is still setting in. However, I did do a deep clean of my writing desk - which looks beautiful. I'm still trying to figure out if I cleaned it to clear the way for inspiration, or to procrastinate. I'm leaning towards procrastination, but hey, the desk is clean. 

 

7. Ihop(b)

We're meeting a friend of ours for breakfast tomorrow morning. Our meeting place is IHOP, which I haven't been to since their whole name-change spoof. So I'm planning on spending time waffling back and forth between pancakes or a burger for Saturday breakfast. Get it, waffling? Because they serve. . . .never mind. 

Have a great weekend! 

 

10 Inspiring Quotes from Edith Stein on Living the Feminine Genius

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In the 1940s, women weren't expected to be successful in the academic world - especially Jewish women. But Edith Stein wasn't held back by societal expectations. Her writings inspired future saints, her thoughts on womanhood define the New Feminism encouraged by Saint Pope John Paul II, and the story of her life tells of a woman who even the vicious Nazi regime could not silence.

As a teenager, Edith became an avowed atheist and rejected the Jewish faith of her family. It wasn't until she stumbled upon the writings of Saint Theresa of Avila that Edith became interested in the Catholic Church. She converted to Catholicism at age 31. 

Breaking gender stereotypes of her era, she then became a Catholic professor in Germany. But when the Nazi Regime’s requirement for the  “Aryan certificate” was enforced, she gave up her position and discerned into the Carmelite order.

Her writings on women and philosophy inspired Saint Pope John Paul II. At her canonization Mass in 1998, Pope John Paul II said, “This woman had to face the challenges of such a radically changing century as our own.”

Saint Edith Stein is a saint for the modern woman. She lived her life boldly, and to this day inspires women to do the same. Here are ten quotes that Saint Edith Stein wrote on the dignity of women, the new feminism, and living out the feminine genius: 

1. "The world doesn't need what women have, it needs what women are."

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2.  “Each woman who lives in the light of eternity can fulfill her vocation, no matter if it is in marriage, in a religious order, or in a worldly profession.”

3. “Women comprehend not merely with the intellect but also with the heart.”

4. "The woman's soul is fashioned as a shelter in which other souls may unfold."

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5. "This is a serious warning cry: Surrender without reservation to the Lord who has called us. This is required of us so that the face of the earth may be renewed." 

6. "The destiny of every woman is to be a bride and mother."

7. "Woman naturally seeks to embrace that which is living, personal, and whole. To cherish, guard, protect, nourish and advance growth is her natural, maternal yearning.”

8. "Let go of your plans."

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9. "When you seek truth, you seek God whether you know it or not.”

10. "The soul of woman must be expansive and open to all human beings, it must be quiet so that no small weak flame will be extinguished by stormy winds; warm so as not to benumb fragile buds … empty of itself, in order that extraneous life may have room in it; finally, mistress of itself and also of its body, so that the entire person is readily at the disposal of every call."

Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, pray for us! Strive alongside us on our journey to the Lord's heart and inspire us as women to live out the feminine genius in our daily life with ferocious courage. 

Your Story Isn't Her Story (And That's Okay)

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If you struggle and find yourself comparing your story to someone else's story, you're not alone. Approximately three scrolls into Instagram, I all too quickly sink into thinking things like:

"You really should be doing more ab workouts. Or just workouts in general."

"If you took more time to get ready in the morning, your makeup could look like hers."

"Your thrift store tank tops do not even come close to that woman's wardrobe."

"She's so much holier than I am."

"She has everything I want and she looks so happy."

It's then that I have to check my thoughts and ask myself "What am I looking for here?" Because my sisters' success is not my failure. My story will never be exactly like hers - thank goodness. If it was the same story, the world would miss out on the beauty that my life brings. 

As women striving after the heart of Christ, we can rejoice in each other's lives without questioning the goodness of the God who holds both of our lives in His hands. 

So what are some concrete things you can do when you feel the temptation to compare your story to your sister in Christ's story? Here are three practical tips that I've implemented in my own life to fight against the sneaky lies of comparison:

Log off for a while

"If your Instagram account causes you to sin, log out of it for a while. It is better for you to lose some of your social media followers than to have your whole body thrown into Gehenna. And if your Pinterest board fills you with jealously, uninstall the app on your phone. It is better for you to miss one or two pins than to have your whole body go into Gehenna." (Mark 5:29-30 . . . ish). 

With how tech-orientated our world is today, it can be easy to be swept away and never log off anything at all. Ever. If you (like me!) find yourself being tempted to compare your story to others or struggle with jealousy every time you click on a certain app on your phone, log off it for a while. 

It sounds simplistic, but logging out of Facebook on my phone browser makes me stop and think before punching in my password. I stop and ask myself what I'm looking for - do I have a purpose for logging on, or am I just wanting to waste time? Am I using social media as an escape from the 'real world'? Will I find myself sitting there 20 minutes later with a head full of lies or a heart full of truth? 

Call out truths in your life

Just like we have to call out the lies of the devil whispers in our ear, we also should revel in the truths that the Father sings over our lives. I first heard of this idea when listening to the Abiding Together podcast. 

What are ways that the Lord has made your story beautifully unique? What are characteristics He's given you, gifts He's blessed you with, that make you you? 

Call them out. Write them down. Talk to a friend about them. Those unique unrepeatable aspects of your personality aren't accidental - they were planned by the Father since the beginning of time. He knows that I dip my french fries in my frosty and that sometimes I just need to get in my car and talk to myself out loud to process things.

The truths that make you who you are aren't accidents - they're intentional ways that God has made you. So rejoice in those truths! 

Don't be ashamed of your story

When I compare my story to the story of other women in my life, I'm tempted to think one of two things: a) My story is too much and if people knew the reality of my heart, they'd reject me, or b) My story is not enough and I don't have anything to offer in comparison to the stories being shared around me. 

Neither of those lies do my story justice. I'm enough. I'm not too much, and I'm not too little.

"Often we want to be somewhere other than where we are, to even to be someone other than who we are. We tend to compare ourselves constantly with others and wonder why we are not as rich, as intelligent, as simple, as generous, or as saintly as they are. Such comparisons make us feel guilty, ashamed, or jealous. It is very important to realize that our vocation is hidden in where we are and who we are. We are unique human beings, each with a call to realize in life what nobody else can, and to realize it in the concrete context of the here and now," Henri Nouwen wrote. "We will never find our vocations by trying to figure out whether we are better or worse than others. We are good enough to do what we are called to do. Be yourself!”

Your story isn't her story - and that's okay. Your story is the one that our good, good Father is writing. It's a story where He shows up and keeps His promises - and, believe me, He's the best story-writer. 

7 QT 54: First dates, book contracts, and sloths

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It's almost the weekend! This week has been full of change and brand new projects (for more details, keep reading!) for the Langr family. Here's a quick look at the adventures that Joseph and I have been on lately! 

1. A first date (recreated)

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Joseph and I went on our first date (and my first ever first date!) three years ago this summer. We decided to recreate the date when we saw the county fair was in town and realized we hadn't been to the fair together since the summer we met.

We dressed in the same outfit, wandered around the fair grounds together, and ate dinner at the same restaurant we ate at on our first date.

A few things were different. We were significantly less awkward than the first date - after all, we know a little more about each other than we did on our first date.  He still leads me to Jesus. I can't to see the plans Jesus has in store for us and our marriage - and I'm forever thankful for that first date! 

2. This year is . . . booked!

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"When are you going to write a book?"

That question began popping up in conversation with friends and family after I graduated from college. But I didn't want to write a book just to say I'd written a book. 

I wanted to write a book that allowed me to connect with women authentically, to share my story in a healthy, vulnerable way, and to explore what it means to be a women living out the feminine genius in today's culture. 

I'm excited to announce that I've signed a contract with Our Sunday Visitor to write a book that encompasses all of those values. I can't wait to share more as the project progresses.

Please keep the project in your prayers as I dive into the writing process, work with the editing team, and drink way more coffee than I probably should!

3. Speaking of new things . . . 

Tuesday was my last day at the local Catholic bookstore I've been working at since last Fall. I've loved my time at the bookstore and can't wait to continue to shop there as a customer!

On Wednesday, I started working for Holy Family School of Faith here in Kansas City. I've joined their communications team and have loved my first few work days with them! 

4. Record all the podcasts!

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Joe Heschmeyer, co-host of the Catholic Podcast joined me in the studio this week to record our podcast for next week! Looking for podcast episodes to listen to this weekend? Check out our recent episode on Natural Family Planning, and keep an eye out for our episode on the Eucharist to hit iTunes, Google Play, and our website this Monday! 

5. Sloths are my spirit animal

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While waiting for a wedding reception to start, Joseph and I took a quick walk around our local mall. I couldn't resist scooping up all the sloth things when we stopped in at Francesca's. The little sloth plush has little Velcro arms that wraps around a little baby sloth (who's also a finger puppet). Does it get any cuter than that?

No. It really doesn't. 

6. Speaking of weddings . . .

What's a wedding reception without some Langr selfies with random objects? 

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Congratulations Jacob and Rachel, we loved celebrating with you! 

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7. I caught the Airbnb decorating bug

Joseph and I stayed in quite a few airbnbs during our vacation to Colorado a few weeks ago. After seeing all of the adorable decorations (shout out to IKEA), I came home with the decorating bug. While our hiking clothes were in the washing machine and we were unpacking all of our gear, I pulled out all of the home decor boxes from our storage closet.

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Hanging some pictures on the wall and redecorating a few corners of the house has made our house feel so much more like a home this week! 

7 QT 53: Mountain views, coffee, and diplomas

It's Friday! This first week back in town after vacation was an adjustment for sure - but this week also flew by! This weekend Joseph and I are going to a friend's wedding. Then we're off to the local county fair (where we went on our first date!). 

But before we take our iconic Langr wedding reception selfies, here's a quick look back at the adventures that we've been up to: 

1. Livin' that Colorado life

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Joseph and I spent the entirety of last week in Colorado. It was great to be able to unplug, relax, and see the gorgeous mountain views. We spent time in Denver before heading out to the Lost Creek Wilderness Loop, a 30-ish mile hike. We conquered the trail in 4 days, 3 nights. 

Although it wasn't explicitly required, we brought supplies and hung up our food in bear bags. Just thinking about bear bags had me a little concerned about what unwanted visitors were going to wander through our campsite. I spent our afternoons thinking how I would react if a bear rushed our tent. Or a moose. How would I respond to a moose? Or a herd of moose - I mean a herd of meese. 

Tuesday afternoon, something flung itself against our tent without warning. Well, Joseph had a little warning because he was awake. I however was not aware at all. I sat straight up from my sleeping bag and started to go into defense mode before Joseph told me what happened. It turns out it was just a psychotic chipmunk who jumped onto our tent from a tree up above. 

Other than that (and some birds and tiny little fish!) there was no wildlife to report. If you're looking for a quiet, gorgeous hike, we highly recommend Lost Creek Wilderness! 

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2. Check out these views!

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Here's our view on the third day of hiking - we climbed a little past the 12,000 feet elevation level for this view. 

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This picture is also a view from our third day of hiking. 

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One of the neatest things we came across was this beaver dam on our hike!

3. Oh, I am diploma official

I graduated from Washburn University in December 2016 with a bachelor's degree in history. For the life of me though, I couldn't figure out why I hadn't received my diploma in the mail. It's been more than a year and a half after graduation, after all. Surely it doesn't take that long to print.

Then I begin overthinking why I hadn't received the diploma yet. Could it be the printing charges I never paid off? Maybe it was something worse than even that. So I contacted the office this week and asked what was up. 

"You picked up your diploma in April," they responded. 

Then I remembered that I did, in fact, pick up my diploma in April. Of last year. But for the life of me, I couldn't remember where I put the diploma. And to replace it was going to cost me $400. So I called home to my parents and asked if it was there in a stack of documents. Nope. 

It turns out that the diploma was sitting in my official Washburn diploma holder the entire time. Right where it was supposed to be. Granted, it was packed away in a box we hadn't unpacked yet since the move, but still. 

I need to e-mail back the Washburn office and explain, but that doesn't seem to be a stellar example of how well I'm doing in adult life. I mean, I put things where they need to go, but then I promptly forget I've put them there. Life after college is going well, thank you for asking. 

4. Coffee and Jesus, what more could you need?

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This week, a friend gave me a shirt that has my new life motto on it - "With Jesus in her heart, and coffee in her hand, she's unstoppable." I wore it to my adoration hour on Wednesday morning after drinking my morning coffee. 

Here's what it looks like - with an obligatory appearance from a Dunkin Donuts iced coffee:

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If you want one of these stellar shirts too, you can find them here

5. My own, personal cup heater

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For my birthday, Joseph gave me this nifty little coffee warmer. Now, instead of running up and down the stairs throughout the work day to heat up my coffee cup, it sits nice and toasty right beside me. How handy is that? 

6. This 'looking young' thing is going to pay off some day

Wednesday night we went to a social in Kansas City to learn more about what's new at Kansas State University (Joseph's alma mater) and the Saint Isidore's Student Center (where we got married!). We were joined by parents of current students, college students, campus ministers, chaplains, and prospective students.

After getting to know the couple at the table over a little bit they asked if we were considering going to Kansas State. Well, we'd love to be back there after hearing about all of the amazing things they're doing, but no. We both graduated almost two years ago (we even both have our diplomas in our house). 

 But I think there are advantages to look 16 when we're actually in our mid-twenties. Imagine how young we'll look when we're fifty. At least, that's what I tell myself each time I'm mistaken for a high school senior. 

7. Wilson had a road trip, too

Because Wilson is not a mountain climber (can you imagine?), he did not make the trek out to Colorado with us. Instead, he took a short road trip to my parents house, where my siblings watched him for the week. He rode back with my sister, Madysen, when she came up to Kansas City to visit us. 

Unfortunately, on the drive to my parents last weekend, I forgot to take Wilson's full water bottle off the cage during the car trip. It promptly sploshed and sloshed water over everything in Wilson's cage during the hour drive. We got him out of the back of the car and found him floating around his cage in his litter box. It wasn't a great start for the trip for Wilson. He seemed to have recovered when we were reunited, though.  

How to Pray When You're Angry at God

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"What are you doing with my life?!" I shouted at God in our little adoration chapel. Well, I shouted internally in my head. There were too many people there in chapel with me for me to be able to shout at God out loud. 

It was March 2017. Joseph and I had been married for just three months. We were just figuring this marriage vocation out when we found out that we were expecting a little baby. But just eight, short weeks into the pregnancy, we lost Marion in a miscarriage. 

I couldn't figure out what sick trick God was trying to play with my life - and I didn't want to listen to Him long enough to hear His end of things. 

I was angry at God.

Could I do that? Could I be angry at the creator of the universe? The maker and supposed lover of my soul? The one that I used to be able to trust, even when everything was falling down around me?

Absolutely. 

But I couldn't just wallow in my anger. While processing Marion's death, I learned quite a bit about my relationship with the Lord. Slowly, I started to build up a trust with Him again. 

But learning to trust and be vulnerable with God meant I had to talk with Him. Even more, that healing process meant I had to listen to Him, too. 

If you're frustrated with the Lord and are struggling to be present in conversation with Him (or have no desire to even think about talking with Him!), here are five things to keep in mind: 

1. Realize it's okay to be mad at God

When Marion passed away, I didn't want much to do with God. The first stage of processing my grief left me yelling, shouting, and flailing against God's plan. How could a good, good Father who shows up and keeps His promises do something like this? 

Then, after I finished yelling, I hid from Him, I thought He wouldn't want me in my mess. I worried that He wouldn't forgive me for being mad at Him. But that couldn't have been further from the truth.

God wants all of your story. He wants you on your good days and the days that you really just want to cuss Him out in prayer. 

So give yourself permission to be frustrated. Angry. Sad. Confused. You don't have to have everything figured out, and Heavens knows you don't have to put a bow on the top of every prayer to make it look pretty and put together. 

2. Show up and let yourself be seen by Him

When you're angry at situations that are unfolding in your life, it can be hard to bring your frustration to prayer, let alone to know what to pray. 

You don't have to say much.

"If our prayer consists of nothing more than holding ourselves before God without doing anything or thinking of anything special, without any particular feelings, but with a heartfelt availability and trusting abandonment, then we could not do any better," writes Father Jacques Philippe in Time for God - one of the best books on prayer I've ever read. 

Simply being present and seen by the Father isn't a passive move - it's a courageous one. 

"Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen," writes Brene Brown in her book Daring GreatlyIt takes courage to show up to a conversation with someone who you're frustrated and angry with.  

3. Don't stop praying

"Why should I still take time to pray?" I asked myself when I was frustrated with His plan. "Doesn't God already know what I'm going through?"

Even though it seems like one of the hardest things to do, we can't stop praying in times of desolation. 

Imagine how a marriage would function if every time that there was anger or frustration, the couple would stop talking to each other. Instead of processing the anger together, their silence and lack of communication allows the anger to fester between them. 

Don't let anger fester between you and God. Instead, keep showing up to prayer. A season of desolation is not the time to change your prayer life, but simply to persevere and be present. 

"In time of desolation, never make a change," Saint Ignatius writes in his rules for spiritual discernment. "Be firm and constant in proposals and determination in which one was in the preceding consolation." 

The Lord wants to process this anger and frustration with you - don't shut Him out. 

4. Remember that Christ knows what your pain feels like

"God had one son on earth without sin, but never one without suffering," Saint Augustine wrote. 

If you're angry and in pain, you're never alone. Christ doesn't abandon you during your times of suffering and anger. Instead, He walks alongside you with an intimate knowledge of your pain. 

The Lord invites you into an intimate relationship with Him during your pain. He knows what pain is like. When we lost Marion, I felt alone and abandoned during that time. Then I realized that, while God may not have experienced a miscarriage, He sure knows what it's like to sacrifice a son. 

We read about Christ's infinite compassion and empathy in Saint Paul's Letter to the Hebrews. "Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession," Paul writes. "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin. So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help."

5. Don't spend time comparing your suffering to the story of others

One of the worst things we can do when we're angry with God is compare our stories to the stories of those around us. 

Each one of us will process pain, anger, and grief differently.  Each one of us will bring those emotions to prayer differently. 

That's okay. 

"Souls are very different," writes Father Jacques Philippe in Time for God.  "There are more differences between people's souls than between people's faces. Each person's relationship with God is unique, and therefore each person's prayer is unique. No one can map out a path or method that applies to everyone, because that would mean disregarding people's freedom and the diversity of their spiritual journeys. It is up to each believer to discover, in response to the Spirit's movement and in the freedom of the Spirit, the path along which God wishes to lead him or her." 

In moments where it feels like life is falling apart, it can be tempting to want someone (anyone!) else's life. I've spent many seasons of desolation imagining what my life would be like if only this one cross was out of my way and off my shoulders.

Haven't we all been there? Even Christ calls out from the cross "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

But instead of looking around and wishing for anything other than the story He's inviting you into, be present to your own story - mess and all. It's a story that He's writing with you in mind. 

He isn't going to give you something you can't handle with His help. 

6 Women Share How Quitting Birth Control Improved Their Health

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When I mention that I chart my fertility using a fertility awareness based method (known as FABM for short), it’s not uncommon for people to ask questions — and a lot of them.

FABMs are misunderstood in today’s culture. Often mistaken for the rhythm method of the 1900s, natural fertility methods are often skipped over as unreliable and outdated. But in reality, FABMs are rooted in scientific data and offer a holistic approach to women’s health.

Recently, I interviewed six women about their experience switching from a hormonal birth control to a natural method of fertility awareness. Some of the women are married, many are single. Some are still in college, others are middle-aged. Many of them went on the pill because they didn’t think they had any other options, and quite a few of them experienced negative health side effects from their time on birth control.

As unique as each story is, each of the women discussed the moment they knew they wanted to make a change and what the biggest benefits to their health FABMs have made in their life. Collectively, their stories reveal the freedom that comes from knowing how our bodies and our fertility work as women.

Click over to Aleteia to read each of these six women's incredible stories.

7QT 52: My Top Seven Summer Reads

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In lieu of my normal seven quick takes, here's a quick look at seven of my favorite books I've read this summer. Some of them I've finished, some of them I'm just starting. All of them I love - here's a quick look at what's on my bookshelf: 

This post contains affiliate links - if you decide to add one of these books to your bookshelf this summer, Old Fashioned Girl will receive a small amount of money through these links, which helps keep the blog going! Thank you! 

1. The Abolition of Man by C.S. Lewis

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This summer Joseph and I started a book club for just the two of us. We packed a book on one of our first camping trips of the summer and settled in our hammock to delve into it together. Joseph and I take turns reading chapters to each other - although we've found that I like listening better and he likes reading better. 

I grew up loving C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia, so I was excited to pick up something different by Lewis. The small size of Abolition of Man (3 chapters!) made the book something that was intimidating or overwhelming. 

It turns out the those three chapters were sometimes intimidating and often overwhelming. Lewis spends the book critiquing the education system of his time, encouraging his readers to become men with chests. 

"In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful," Lewis writes. 

Interested in reading the book? Want to know what the heck 'men with chests' means? Pick up a copy at your local library or check it out online

 

2. When Harry Became Sally by Ryan T. Anderson

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During the summers at the bookstore, I've had a lot of time to read. One book I've picked up over and over again during my shifts is When Harry Became Sally. Before the book was published, it hit the top of Amazon's bestseller list.

Anderson is a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation. He argues that the growing acceptance of transgender-ism has more to do with an ideology than a science - all while respecting the human dignity of everyone involved in the discussion. He focuses particularly on children experiencing gender dysphoria.  

“We need to respect the dignity of people who identify as transgender,” Anderson argues in the book, “but without encouraging children to undergo experimental transition treatments, and without trampling on the needs and interests of others.”

In an article in The Washington Post, Anderson commented that his goal in writing the book was to "to help people think about these issues more carefully, and to respond to those in need more charitably."

Want to read more about what Anderson has to say? Check out the book at your local library or Catholic bookstore, or online here

 

3. At the Heart of the Gospel by Christopher West

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Christopher West's writing on Saint Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body has shaped my understanding of sexuality as a Catholic today. I've been able to attend lectures given by him twice. The first book I read by West was Fill These Hearts: God, Sex, and the Universal Longing. Joseph and I's marriage prep retreat was centered around Good News about Sex and Marriage: Answers to Your Honest Questions about Catholic Teaching. I've pulled that book off the shelf many times since saying "I do". 

In this book, West talks about the way the sexual revolution has distorted how we see the body and our sexuality. He invites readers into the "great mystery" revealed by our bodies - a mystery that West believes lies at the very heart of the Gospel itself. 

It's been a while since I've read a book on Theology of the Body - most of the time I'm buried in blog articles about the subject. West's book has been a beautiful reversion back to an old-fashioned page turner on the subject. I love bringing this book with me to my Wednesday morning adoration hour. 

Want to discover how we can reclaim the body for the New Evangelization? Pick up a copy of At the Heart of the Gospel at your local library or Catholic bookstore, or check it out online here

 

4. The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis

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After finishing our first Lewis book together, Joseph and I packed The Great Divorce to read during our hiking trip. It's a small book, beautifully allegorical, and one I haven't read since high school. 

I'm looking forward to relaxing in a hammock this summer and digging into this book again. One of the main reasons I love reading Lewis' books with Joseph is the great discussions that come from the text - so I'm excited for some good heart to hearts soon. 

What is the great divorce, and who or what are we divorcing ourselves from? You'll have to read it from Lewis himself. Find it at your library, your local book store or online here

 

5. The Pope Who Would be King by David Kertzer

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On a weeknight walk, Joseph and I wandered around the library. I needed to pay my library fines and relinquish a grand total of $0.90 in reparation for my forgetfulness. While there I ran across this book by David Kertzer. 

Although Saint Pope John Paul II is (and probably always will be) one of my favorite saints and favorite popes, I wanted to get to know more about other popes. I'm only a few chapters into this book, but I've loved reading it during Joseph and I's time on the porch in the evening.s It's interesting to read about the life of the Catholic church from Kertzer's perspective. 

Do you want to know about Pope Pius IX, too? Check out The Pope Who Would be King online here. Who is your favorite pope to read about and study? 

 

6.  Laurus by Eugene Vodolazkin

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It is rare that I pick up and enjoy a fiction book by an author that's still alive. Let's face it, today's authors don't line up when compared to Dickens, Austen, and Undset. However, Eugene Vodolazkin is holding his own with the book Laurus. 

The book tells the story of a Russian doctor -and that's all I know for now. Joseph and I stayed up late reading the introduction to the book together last night. I love Arsenius the Great's line, quoted by Vodolazkin in the book: "I have often regretted the things I have said, but I have never regretted my silence." 

If you love language and history, Laurus may be just the book for you. Want to join the Langrs in reading Laurus? Check it out at your local bookstore, library, or online here

 

7. In The Enemy's House by Howard Blum

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I picked up In the Enemy's House by Howard Blum after it was suggested to me at my local library. My undergraduate degree is in history, and I loved how Howard Blum wove together historical facts and his natural gift for story telling.

When I was reading this book earlier this summer, I couldn't stop talking about it in conversations with Joseph. I had to return my copy to the library but I picked up a copy for Joseph and I to read and have around the house. It's not often that I buy books (thanks to the library and the books sent to me for review), so buying this book is a huge stamp of Chloe Langr approval. 

Check it out at your local bookstore or find a copy online here. 

 

 

50 Years Later: How “Humanae Vitae” Predicted the Future

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50 years ago this month, Pope Paul VI wrote an encyclical entitled Humanae Vitae, or “Human Life.”

Humane Vitae discussed the beauty of both the spiritual and physical elements of love in marriage. Within the pages of the document, the pope reaffirmed what the Catholic Church teaches about birth control. He also emphasized that the Catholic Church calls couples to marriages that are free, total, faithful and fruitful. The encyclical contained a holistic approach to human relationships. This contrasted sharply with a world that was beginning to accept birth control as part of normal, daily life.

The world didn’t expect Humanae Vitae‘s messages about the sanctity of life, marriage, and family. Pope Paul VI prophetically spoke about the consequences involved with rejecting human dignity. Today, 50 years later, Pope Paul VI’s words still ring true.

Click over to Catholic Singles to read about seven times that Pope Paul VI predicted the future in Humanae Vitae. 

The Catholic Church’s Tough Teachings Saved This Man’s Marriage

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By the early 2000s, Dr. David Anders shared just one thing in common with his wife – contempt for each other.

“My wife and I  were held together only by the barest thread of duty to our children and a vow that I regretted with all my heart,” Dr. Anders reflects.

It would have been easy for the couple to split ways. But today, Dr. Anders and his wife, Jill, are thriving in their marriage. It’s not because they spent hours in marriage therapy. Instead, the radical change in their love life is thanks to their acceptance of the Church’s teachings on marriage.

In The Catholic Church Saved My Marriage: Discovering Hidden Grace in the Sacrament of Matrimony, Dr. Anders shares his personal discovery of the beauty of Catholic marriage. In addition to sharing his own life lessons, he also tackles subjects like divorce, gay marriage, and contraception.

Click over to my latest over at Epic Pew to read four Catholic hard teachings that changed Dr. David and Lisa Anders’ lives and saved their own marriage.