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. 

7 QT 51: Basil harvests, relics, and haircuts

It's Friday! It's been a full, fun week here at the Langrs - here's a look back on our latest adventures: 

1. Good food, good friends

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Joseph threw a beautiful surprise party for my 23rd birthday last weekend. He cooked three dishes and guests brought drink pairings to try out!  Here's a quick look at the menu: 

  • Artichoke heart and goat cheese bruschetta paired with a sauvignon blanc wine
  • BBQ chicken and smoked Gouda cheese paired with a hazelnut brown ale
  • The best crème brûlée I've ever had paired with prosecco 

It was a night of laughter, catching up with old friends (some of whom I hadn't seen in a year!) and community.

 

2. Catholic finds in the West Bottoms

This weekend we took a trip down to the Kansas City first weekend in the West Bottoms district. Each month, old buildings are opened up and antique vendors set up shop. Last winter, we'd found a great vendor that had a lot of vintage Catholic finds. We've been trying to find them for the past year, and last weekend we found their spot again! They'd moved up a few floors of a building, but they still had some interesting things to look through. 

One thing we noticed was a lot of relics - which I'd snatch up if the reliquaries weren't priced at upwards of $300 a piece. Here's a peek at one of them:  

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We also ran across a nativity baby Jesus without his manger or his fingers. Or his mom. Or the shepherds, for that matter.

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Some wander through the West Bottoms looking for that perfect basket or couch. Joseph and I wander around and wish we had hundreds to spend on these interesting Catholic finds.

 

3. First swim of the summer

Sunday we spent time with my side of the family. I share a birthday with my little sister Reagan (we're four years apart, but born on the same day!), and we celebrated together a day late. The afternoon was full of go-karts, cheesecake, and swimming. 

Even though Joseph and I have a neighborhood pool, it's always full and the hours are kind of funky. So it was great to hang out with the littles and jump off the diving board at the pool my parents go to. We left feeling like prunes - but with no sunburn! Win! 

 

4. Snip, clip, pixie

Joseph and I went on a practice hike last weekend to try out our hiking gear. Halfway through the hike, I realized that my hair was all over the place and just a little too short to put into a ponytail. 

So I cut it all off.

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Well, I didn't cut it all off. Someone at Great Clips did. But I'm back to the classic pixie with no regrets. It's crazy how much less shampoo I'm using! 

 

5. The 2018 basil harvest

Joseph and I grew some herbs this year on our kitchen window sill. We harvested the basil harvest and wanted to show off the 2018 crop:

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12 little basil leaves! Not too shabby for first time herb farmers. Here's a look at what they looked like post-pizza cooking:

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We're really proud of how they turned out! I also realized while chowing down on the pizza that fresh herbs make a world of difference in the quality of taste of our dishes! 

 

6. Who can say no to free Dunkin'?

Thanks to the Dunkin' Donuts app, I was gifted a free drink on my birthday. I finally got around to using it yesterday night while running errands with Joseph. Normally I'm a iced coffee girl (french vanilla flavor swirl, cream, no sugar), but I made full use of my coupon and got a large iced caramel macchiato. It was delicious. 

Even though I shared with Joseph, I was still up 'til the wee hours of the night with a caffeine rush, and up again before 6:00 am with enough energy to fuel a small country. 

In other news, I convinced a co-worker to download the Dunkin' Donuts app and he's happily using it to keep updated on the latest happy hours. I need to find out if it's possible to become a Dunkin' Donut affiliate and receive free coffee in exchange for all the times I've mentioned their business to friends and blog-readers. 

 

7.  Grow, puppy, grow!

I've been dog-sitting Gemma for over a month now - she's growing up so fast! I snapped a quick picture of her when we hung out on Monday. Look at this girl grow! Her new favorite thing to do is flop across the front lawn and roll in the grass. I call it "grass swimming". She'll doggy paddle her way around the yard on her back and side, enjoying that summer sun. 

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Have a great weekend everyone! 

He Calls You Daughter

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Last week, I spent my adoration hour holding onto the hem of Jesus' garment. At our parish, there's a cloth that covers the monstrance if your time in adoration is done but no one is there left to stay and pray with the Lord. And even though I've seen it countless times during adoration hours, it wasn't until last week that I realized how the Lord wanted to speak to my heart through that monstrance covering. 

Mark 5:25-34 is a passage in Scripture that I've been holding onto these past months. A woman is afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years, and Scriptures tells us that she had "suffered greatly at the hands of many doctors and had spent all she had." After she had heard about the Lord, she came up behind in the crowd and touched the hem of his cloak. 

A woman who's physical illness has made her an outcast from society - she wants to encounter the Lord but she doesn't want to be seen. So she comes up from behind him and touches just the hem. 

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But Christ won't let her hide in shame. He turns to his disciples and asked "Who touched my clothes?" In a crowd full of people, Christ sees this woman, and calls her out of her shame. She approaches him "in fear and trembling," but he doesn't shame her. Instead He asks her to tell Him her whole story, messy parts and all. 

But he doesn't stop there - He calls her "daughter."

Sisters, how many of us can see our story in the story of this woman? Maybe we've been diagnosed with a physical or mental illness and have suffered greatly at the hands of many, many doctors. Perhaps we've spent all we've had. 

Christ doesn't shame us - He calls us 'daughter'. He desires to hear our whole story - even the messy parts. He invites us to reach out in a moment of trust and faith and simply rest with our hands on the hem of His garment.

This summer I was blessed with an opportunity to host one of my dear friends, Sarah. She lived in our house for the month of June and during those four weeks, she led a study on the feminine genius. Early one Saturday morning, we went out onto the back patio with warm cups of coffee and talked about sensitivity. The image she encouraged us to reflect on was that of Veronica, wiping the face of Christ.

We don't know much about Veronica - she doesn't appear in Scripture. We encounter her during Lent in the Stations of the Cross, though. Some Scripture scholars think that Veronica is the same woman as the woman with hemorhages who touched the hem of Christ's garment. 

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I loved meditating on how radically this woman's life was changed, if she is the same woman as the woman in Mark's Gospel. 

This woman, shamed by her society, all too familiar with blood, reaches out and touches Christ's hem. She doesn't desire a face to face encounter, perhaps ashamed or afraid that Christ would think her a bother, or doubting her self-worth.  But Christ calls her "daughter," inviting her into an intimate relationship with Him. A relationship where He knows her whole story.

Can you imagine what it must have been like for this woman, Veronica, to spot Jesus in the street on His way to calvary? He is shunned by those who loved Him, held in no esteem, someone who people turn away from. He's beaten, and she sees blood all over his body and his face. 

So she goes up to Him. Not to touch his hem, but to take off her veil, something that covers her, and offer it to Him in a move of absolute sensitivity and vulnerability. She encounters the Lord face to face, despite the crowd's pressure for her to turn away, to go back home. 

Where in your life is the Lord inviting you to encounter Him face to face? He offers us this divine intimacy in the Eucharist.

More intimate than touching the hem of his garment.

More intimate even than offering our clothes for his bloody face.

He offers us His very body and blood, desiring to dwell within our bodies. 

“Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction."

7 QT 51: Iced coffee, weddings, and birthdays

It's Friday . . .er, it is Friday, right? With Independence Day on Wednesday this year, it's felt like we've had two sets of weekends in one week. I wandered around yesterday swearing it was Monday and then found out around 2:00 pm that it was, in fact, Thursday. It was the Monday-est Thursday ever. 

So. Friday. It's here. This weekend Joseph and I are spending some good quality time together, I'm celebrating my 23rd birthday, and relaxing. But before I blow out 23 birthday candles, here's a quick look at adventures we've had over the past few weeks:

1. A summer of wedding selfies

We celebrated another wedding last weekend - and of course had some wedding selfie adventures, too. Here's a few of our favorites - congratulations to Haley and TJ! We loved celebrating with you.

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The obligatory Joseph-queasy picture. 

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At a 4th of July party this week, an engaged friend told us that there are plenty of great places to take awkward selfies at their upcoming reception. Our trend is catching on!  

 

2. Summer coffee happy hours

In unfortunate news for my wallet (and my waistline), Dunkin Donuts has brought back their summer happy hour in the Kansas City area. From 2pm - 6pm every day of the week, their medium iced coffees are just $0.99. 

I may or may not have gone to Dunkin Donuts twice in one day this week.

Okay, who are we kidding. I definitely went there twice in one day this week.

But I went once in the morning and then again in the late afternoon, so it was a different crew. I'm pretty sure that the staff at my go-to Dunkin location will know me on a first name basis by the time August rolls around.  

 

3. Buen Camino!

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My little sister Mady left for Spain at the beginning of last month to walk the Camino. After a beautiful pilgrimage, she finally returned home yesterday. Since our house is a great resting spot on the way back to my parents from the airport, we got to snag her for dinner and a Camino debriefing before she headed back home.

Her gorgeous pictures (like the one above!) and stories made me want to add the Camino on to my ever growing list of places I'd love to travel. Now if I can just swing trips to Italy, the Holy Land and the Camino, we'll be set!

 

4. I'm feelin' 23

I only have a few more hours left in the day to sing Taylor Swift's "22" - I turn 23 tomorrow! Joseph has something planned for tomorrow night. All he's told me is that it involves creme brulee, avocados, and goat cheese - which is all I need to know. 

A happy early birthday to my little sister, Reagan, too! We're born on the same day, four years apart. She'll be out camping all weekend and it's one of the first years we haven't fought over who gets to pick the ice-cream and who gets to pick the cake. Happy birthday, Regs!  

 

5. The things people shout at bars, man

We joined some friends for a double date night at our local board game bar last weekend. Unfortunately, it was also Harry Potter Trivia Night, so we had to wait around quite a while before a table opened up. We grabbed some drinks at the bar and settled in. 

It didn't take too long for a guy at the end of the bar to look Joseph and I's way, make eye contact, and shout "HEY! Are you two siblings!?" We let him know that we weren't (well, brother and sister in Christ, but that's a whole different conversation). Maybe it was the butter beer talking. By the time Joseph and I are thirty, we're going to be mistaken for identical twins. 

 

6. We've found our hangout spot

Joseph and I always talk about how we'd love to have our "hangout" - a normal place around Kansas City for dinner, a favorite bar, or a place that people would know where we spend time. 

It turns out our hangout spot is the optometrist.

Joseph went back to the optometrist office to get the lens of one of his glasses adjusted (it's only the fourth or fifth time we've been in there over the past month). It turns out they have to make the lens for the third time, so we'll be back there next week, too. 

I mean, Dunkin Donuts and the optometrist office aren't the worst places to be known on a first name basis, right? 

 

7. Wilson's gourmet kitchen

In-between a friend's wedding and reception, Joseph and I headed to a local farm store to get some food for Wilson (these are normal things married couples do, right?).

We wandered around the aisles, reading the nutritional facts on the back of the packages and ended up getting a 25 pound bag of food.

Crossing our fingers and hoping it would pass the Wilson gourmet test, we fed him some that night and . . . he loved it. I'm glad to report that he's back to his normal eating habits!

5 Things that Modesty Is Not

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Summer is upon us and, as the Midwest humidity levels creep higher and higher, the pools and beaches are calling our names. But perhaps more heated than the sidewalk outside is the debate surrounding what modesty is. 

Some will say that modesty is an old-fashioned thing of the past. Others will encourage people (read:women) to watch the way they dress lest we lead our brothers to sin. But neither of those polarized positions encourage conversation about the virtue of modesty.

Perhaps the best way modesty can be understood is by examining what the virtue isn't. Although this isn't an exhaustive list by any stretch of the imagination, here are five things that modesty is not:

1. Modesty isn't just for women

In Introduction to the Devout Life, Saint Francis De Sales writes that far too often, modesty is falsely assumed to be an issue only women should consider. "Saint Paul expresses his desire that all Christian women should wear 'modestly and sensibly in seemly apparel'; and for that matter he certainty meant that men should do likewise," he writes.

A few chapters before he discusses modesty, Saint Francis writes about the virtue of purity and its connection with the virtue of modesty. "Purity has its source in the heart, but it is the body that its material results take shape, and therefore it may be forfeited both by the exterior senses and by the thoughts and the desires of the heart," he explains. 

Modesty isn't a gendered issue because striving for Heaven is a human issue. The problem concerning the blatant objectification of human beings and a rejection of human dignity isn't solved by pointing fingers and blaming people. This isn't an issue that is 'fixed' by saying women or men should dress or act a certain way.

Instead, we should be viewing our interactions with others as a way encourage each other on this journey towards Heaven. This striving needs to be a mutual endeavor, and finding ways to place blame one one gender or the other isn't going to help the situation improve.

2. Modesty isn't a skirt length

In one of the best articles I've read to date on the subject of modesty, Rebecca Bratten Weiss points out that modesty isn't about the length of our shorts or the style of our skirts. "Perhaps we can best understand modesty by looking at its opposites: what does it mean to be immodest? To be boastful, flaunting, overbearing, swaggering," she writes. "When we think of dressing immodestly, the point is not what is or is not showing, whether accidentally or on purpose, but the intention one has to use one’s powers to overwhelm or manipulate another." 

Modesty isn't solely about clothing, and we don't get very far if we determine modesty by labeling certain clothing items modest and others immodest. "It's a mistake to call a short skirt immodest," Rebecca argues. "If modesty is a virtue, because virtues are properties of human action, or habits of the soul, and skirts do not act or, as far as I know, have souls."

While there is a plethora of articles available for how to determine if our necklines meet a modest standard, there isn't much out there when it comes to discerning whether our shows of wealth or power are modest. Modesty is a virtue that should be lived out in every aspect of our lives, not just what we pick out of our closets to dress ourselves for the day. 

3. Modesty isn't just about our physical bodies

Modesty isn't solely about our clothing because, as human beings created in the image of God, we're more than just a body. "The human person, created in the image of God, is a being at once corporeal and spiritual," the Catechism reads. "Man, whole and entire, is therefore willed by God." 

We are more than just our bodies - regardless and despite what society screams at us from advertisements, billboards and get-fit-quick ten day programs on Facebook. Because we are body and soul, men and women shouldn't be defined by how 'hot,' 'fit', or 'attractive' we look as we make our way to the beach this summer. Our figure is not our greatest accomplishment. How sun-kissed (or, in my case, sun burned) we look at the end of the summer and where the tan lines fall is not the sum of our being. 

Modesty is a virtue that inspires the way we think, act, and speak. "There is a modesty of the feelings as well as of the body," the Catechism continues. "It protests, for example, against the voyeuristic explorations of the human body in certain advertisements, or against the solicitations of certain media that go too far in the exhibition of intimate things. Modesty inspires a way of life which makes it possible to resist the allurements of fashion and the pressures of prevailing ideologies."

4. Modesty isn't about one or two piece piece swimsuits

It wasn't until I was in college that I ran across Saint Pope John Paul II's writings on the idea of the functionality of a piece of clothing. "If then we wish to pass moral judgement on a particular form of dress we have to start from the particular functions which they serve," he wrote in Love and Responsibility.

He goes on to explain how important context is when considering modesty: "When a person uses such a form of dress in accordance with its objective function we cannot claim to see anything immodest in it, even if it involves partial nudity. Whereas the use of the costume outside its proper context is immodest and is inevitably felt to be so. For example, there is nothing immodest about the use of a bathing costume at a bathing place, but to wear it in the street or while out for a walk is contrary to the dictates of modesty."

5. Modesty isn't black and white

Far too often as humans we desire for things to be black and white - cut and dry. While it's true that things would be easier that way, it's also true that the human heart is a complicated, messy, beautiful thing. 

"The forms taken by modesty vary from one culture to another," the Catechism reads. And while what is considered modest will differ from culture to culture, one aspect of the virtue is steadfast. "Everywhere, however, modesty exists as an intuition of the spiritual dignity proper to man. It is born with the awakening consciousness of being a subject," the Catechism concludes. 

 

7 QT 50: Puppies, selfies, and pixies

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Happy Friday, friends! It seems like this week has flown by at super speed - here's a quick look at the latest Langr adventures! 

 

1. Adventures in dog sitting

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I'm watching Gemma, this gorgeous pup, twice a week for a friend. I love a break in the middle of the day and a chance to play with a dog! We've spent time playing outside. On Wednesday, we attempted to meet the mail man (Gemma was not a fan). Over the past few weeks, I've become a master referee between Gemma and a little kitten who lives in the same house. I'm just making sure they don't eat each other. But look at that face! How could she possibly do anything bad? 

 

2. Goodbye pixie cut, hello summer bob

I took a trip down to my local Great Clips and trimmed my hair this weekend into a summer bob. I've been growing out my pixie cut for quite a while now - and it's been an experience, let me tell you. The hair on the back of my head grows approximately 3,589 times faster than the hair on the sides and front, leaving me with a perpetual mullet. Joseph tells me the mullet is iconic look, but I tend to disagree. I think I accidentally prayed for patience and Jesus gave me the inspiration to try growing out my hair :P

When I sat down in the chair, I mentioned to the hairdresser that I had a pixie not too long ago and I was growing it out to a long bob. She looked at me like I had 3 heads, so I explained what I was looking for a little more. After I was done, she breathed a sigh of relief and said "I thought you said you wanted a pixie but wanted to only have the back that short and the rest look like a bob. I'm so glad you explained more!"

So I came this close to having my pixie back. But only the back. 

 

3. Totally fan-girling

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This morning, I was honored to sit down with Lisa Mladinich, Carrell Jamilano, and Audrey Assad in an interview for 'WOMAN: Strong Faith, True Beauty', a television show on Shalom World. The episode doesn't air until later in the summer, but I can't wait to share our conversations with you! 

It was beautiful to hear Audrey share her witness and story - I love her music ('I Shall Not Want' is one of my favorites), so getting to be on the show with her was incredible. Of course we grabbed a selfie. 

 

4. Celebrating the feminine genius

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In March, I attended the GIVEN KC conference. This week, some of the women who attended the conference got together for dips, desserts, and de-briefing from the conference. It was a beautiful night of exploring the feminine genius! Are you a woman in the Kansas City area who wants to find out more about what the feminine genius is? Mark your calendars for March 2, 2019 and join us at the next GIVEN KC

 

5. Don't mind us, we're just taking weird selfies at your wedding reception

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It's a Langr wedding tradition to take selfies (during the reception, of course) with the most random things at the reception location. Normal people probably take pictures with the bride and groom. We take pictures with signs that remind us the legal drinking age is 21. 

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Or sweaty outside selfies in which Joseph looks like he's about to hurl.

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Just a reminder that we're both still one of the kids. As if we needed a reminder ;) Congratulations, Cody and Liz! Your wedding was gorgeous and we had a blast at the reception! 

 

6. On the bookshelf this week

Slower summers at the bookstore leave a lot of room for reading. After waiting for 384 people to finish "12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos" by Dr. Jordan Peterson, I picked it up from the library last week. Now I'm quickly flipping through pages and reading as fast as I can so that the 150 people waiting for their turn to read can get the book as soon as possible.

The other book I'm enjoying right now is "When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment" by Ryan T. Anderson. It's been an interesting read that touches on biology, psychology, and philosophy. It's not nearly as popular at the library, so I have my fingers crossed for being able to renew it and take it at a little slower speed than Dr. Peterson's book. 

 

7. It's wedding season!

This weekend Joseph and I are headed out of town for our second June wedding . Stay tuned for next week's 7 Quick Takes which will include our latest wedding selfies - we'll see if Joseph looks as queasy! 

 

7 Things Couples Experiencing Infertility Want You to Know

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When someone shares with you that they're having trouble conceiving, it can be difficult to know how to respond. 

Many couples share a dream together of having a children. But for couples who experience infertility, realizing that dream can be a challenging, seemingly impossible journey. Unfortunately, an experience with infertility isn’t rare. You may know someone struggling with infertility. According to the CDC, six percent of women living in the United States who are between ages 15 to 44 cannot become pregnant.

When you add in another 12 percent of women living in the US between the ages of 15 and 44 who experience difficulty in getting pregnant and carrying a pregnancy to term, you end up with almost one in five women who experience infertility in the US alone.

When someone shares with you that they’re having trouble conceiving, it can be difficult to know how to respond. If you don’t experience it, it’s hard to know what to say. Those who struggle with infertility desire support and understanding.

Click over to my latest article at Aleteia to read seven things about what women (and couples!) experience with infertility (and how you can help!). 


Want to learn more about the experience of infertility? Listen to 'A Letter to the Woman Experiencing Infertility'. I was blessed with an opportunity to visit with Connie Poulos and chat about her experience with infertility as a Catholic woman. If you're a woman who experiences infertility, she wants you to know that you're not alone. You're His daughter. 

7 QT 49: Camping, cameras, and queso

Happy Friday friends - we're almost to the weekend! This week, Joseph was out of town for a business trip - but he's back now and we're hitting the road again this weekend. We're headed to a friend's wedding, then off to see family for Father's Day celebrations. 

Before we head out on the wedding dance floor, here's a quick look back on the adventures the Langrs have had over the past few days:

 

1. Camp coffee is the best coffee

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Last weekend, Joseph and I hit the trails for our first camping trip of the summer. It was a gorgeous night out, and we found a great campsite by the lake. But it wasn't too far into our 4.5 mile hike that Joseph started picking ticks off of his shoes and socks. By the time we got the campsite, about 3 or 4 dozen ticks had landed on him. I wish I was exaggerating. 

Strangely, I didn't end up with any more than 2 ticks on my arms. I think I'm either too sweet for the ticks, or Joseph's place in front made him more susceptible to the little blood suckers. Either way, I'm not complaining. I'm also a total failure of a camping partner when it comes to pulling off ticks. Those little bugs freak me out, so I wasn't much help when it came to detaching ticks the next morning.

We brought the supplies for s'mores on the trip, too. But the muggy weather left our marshmallows squishier than ever. Our chocolate bar melted into liquid. And yes, it did rain - but we didn't get wet! Our gear held up great, and it looks like we're almost ready to go for a Colorado vacation this summer! 

 

2. Lights, camera, action

Today I'm sitting down with Shalom Television's WOMAN team for a sound and mic check for an upcoming interview. That's right, this podcasting, behind-the-scenes girl is going to be on TV.

I'm used to sharing my morning cup of coffee with my podcast guests, but this is a whole new ballgame! I'm excited to share with you the episode when it airs - don't worry, I'll keep you updated! 

 

3. Let the good times roll

Ben Rector, one of Joseph and I's favorite singer/songwriters, announced his tour dates and locations this week. Thanks to a fantastic local radio station, we scored tickets a day earlier than the general public sales. 

Want to know more about who Ben Rector is and how Joseph and I went to the same Ben Rector concert before we even knew each other and stood a few rows apart? Click here. 

 

4. Just call me the laundry queen

Without a doubt, laundry is my absolute least favorite chore to do around the house. I mean, does anyone have a 'favorite' chore? But Wednesday, I buckled down and did all the laundry. All of it - towels, bedding, and clothes. In one day. It's even folded and put back where it belongs.

The good thing is, I shouldn't have to touch the washing machine for at least a solid six days. The bad thing is that now I know I can do it all in one day, and I have no excuses to procrastinate. 

 

5. Annulments are, well, squishy

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This week on 'Letters to Women', I sat down with Lisa Madrid Duffy. She experienced an unwanted divorce and later went through the annulment process during a time of healing. Now, she's written multiple books about the subject and spends time coaching others through the pain of a divorce and annulment. She shared her story and talked about what an annulment is (and, more importantly, what it isn't). Check out our conversation here

 

6. Bring on the awkward reception photos

Every wedding that Joseph and I go to, we make sure to take some fun pictures at the reception. We have some great ones of us posing with the tornado warning sign and the soap dispensers. Keep an eye out for next week's 7 quick takes to see the wild and crazy photo shoot results! 

 

7. The search for the holy grail of Mexican food

Since moving to Kansas City, I've been on the lookout for some good Mexican food. To be honest, I only have two criteria with which I judge a Mexican restaurant. First, they have to have an a la carte menu - sometimes, a girl just wants an extra side of rice. Second, they have to be just as good if not better as 'El Mezcal', a Mexican restaurant in my home town known for it's delicious queso dip. 

This week, I had a committee meeting at a local Mexican restaurant, and the search for my favorite taco spot in Kansas City may have ended. They have fantastic queso dip, beautiful guac, and they make a mean sangria. If you're in the KC area, hit up Manny's - and support a beautiful local family to boot! 

12 Lessons on Love as Told by Ben Rector

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I had no idea who Ben Rector was when a friend in college asked me if I'd like to go to his concert with her. I knew one of his songs from the radio, but hadn't really spent time listening to his work. 

It turned out my future husband was at that concert too - only a few rows away from me.

Since that night I've gotten to know Joseph (and Ben Rector) a lot better. Joseph and I have been to a Ben Rector concert together here in Kansas City together. When we were dating, Joseph made me a mix tape of songs and Ben Rector's Dance With Me Baby was track six.

On our wedding day, Joseph danced with me to Forever Like That for our first dance together as husband and wife. Today, if you swing by our house during the week, we usually have Ben Rector's radio station on Pandora playing. In fact, just this morning, we bought tickets for his new tour this fall. 

For the past 12 years, Ben Rector has been writing and producing music that stands apart from the rest of the top hits you hear on the radio. I think the one thing that draws me to his work is that his lyrics are genuine, soulful, and meaningful. His lyrics have been the soundtrack to so many beautiful moments in my life. 

Here are 12 lessons on authentic love from Ben Rector's lyrics to apply to your ordinary, daily life: 

1. You learn to love

"You find you're wrong and it's your problems all along, and then you love someone but not 'til then you love someone"

Joseph and I have known each other for over three years. In comparison to the rest of our lives, isn't that much time at all. It has been incredible in our marriage to continue to learn about each other. Whether it is what our favorite foods are, or how we handle stress, there is always something to find out and cherish about the other person. I can't wait to learn more about Joseph as our marriage continues for years to come, God willing. 

2. We all want to be loved

"Cause we just wanna be loved, we just wanna be loved. When it's said and done there's no one above a little love"

Being seen is something that our human hearts desire - we want to be known at the heart level. We often think of love in just the romantic sense, but love is much more than just romance. Our hearts ache for authentic community, too. 

Authentic love of Joseph recognizes that he can't fulfill me, and vice versa. So even though I consider Joseph my best friend, we also realize that we need time with other men and women to grow in our faith lives and live out the masculine and feminine genius in our new, married vocation. 

3. Ordinary love is beautiful

"Keep those fancy things, keep your magazine. I don't even want what I'm chasing because all I know isn't ordinary love is what we're made for."

The world likes to tell us what we need to be happy - a big house, a nice car, a well funded bank account. But what I've found in my short time of marriage is that the best gift we can give each other is our time. The world can keep it's false promise that 'things' will give you happiness, but I'm going for the ordinary, daily love. 

4. Authentic love frees you

"But when I'm with you I'm no longer wandering. And when I'm with you, I swear I can breathe. When I'm with you, I know who I am and who I want to be"

Although Ben Rector says it beautifully, another man who knew the reality of love was Saint Pope John Paul II. He wrote, "Freedom exists for the sake of love." God's love doesn't demand that we do what is right. Instead, He gives us free will and a choice to love Him. He invites us into an authentic, loving relationship where He allows our choice and we can choose to love Him. 

5. Love and suffering go hand in hand

"I know the pain of a heartbreak. I don't have answers, and neither do you. I know the pain of a heartbreak." 

I will always remember the words from a priest's homily: "The greater your capacity for love, the greater your capacity for suffering." In a relationship, you open your heart and make yourself vulnerable. But we're human, so we're going to hurt each other.

But the alternative is to lock your heart away. You'll shut yourself away from certain pain, but you'll also close yourself away from love. 

6. There's going to be stormy weather

"But all I see is just this stormy weather. And all I need is the one I love. So Lord, please bless me with some time together, and I won't ask for anymore after all."

When I was single, it was easy to assume that once I had a wedding band on my finger, life would be smooth sailing. But we've been through quite a bit in our first eighteen months of marriage and I know more storms will come (thanks a lot, Adam and Eve).

There's been such a beauty of weathering storms together with Joseph. It takes courage to face hard decisions and suffering, but those storms are a lot easier to face with Joseph and the Lord beside me. 

7. Love is more than a feeling

"The power of love is a curious thing. Make a one man weep, make another man sing. Change a hawk to a little white dove. More than a feeling, that's the power of love"

On our wedding day, I couldn't stop smiling when I thought about what Joseph and I were vowing to each other that day. The next morning I woke up and my face hurt from smiling so much that day. But I've learned that love isn't a feeling that just comes and goes. Instead, love is a daily choice to will each other's good.  

Don't get me wrong - my heart still races when I hear Joseph's car pull into the parking lot after a long day at work. Dear readers, I love this man. But on the days where I'd rather be a selfish brat and make a decision for myself, I have to choose to love and put Joseph's needs before my own.

8. Our love should look more like His love

"It's the one thing around here that we don't have quite enough of. So I just wanna look a little more like love"

In the morning when Joseph and I pray together before leaving for work, the one thing I ask God for is the grace for our love to point others back to His divine love for us.

That's the beauty of the sacrament of marriage - it's a visible sign of an invisible reality. Our marriage here on earth mirrors the free, total, faithful, and fruitful love that the Father has for all of us. We just want to look more like His love. 

9. Love takes commitment

"I've been the prince, I've been the pauper, been the star and played the fool. Been the winner and the loser, in between them too. And no matter who I might become or who I've been before I will always be, I will always be yours"

On our wedding day, Joseph and I vowed to choose to love each other despite the circumstances. We see each other on our good days and our grumpy days. It'd be easy to only love each other when the good times roll, but a true commitment embraces the best and the worst of the person. 

10. Love means being part of a team

"If you wanna run, let's run together. When you go high, I will go low, I'll harmonize while you solo. Yeah, you and I, we could be our own iconic duo"

One thing that I've loved about marriage is that Joseph and I make decisions as a team. Whether it's choosing what to make for dinner, where to go on vacation, or how to tackle a tough situation, we make the decision together. Sometimes it takes us a while to decide (especially the dinner question, let's be real), but our marriage has given me many opportunities to make selfless decisions with someone else in mind. 

11. Growing up doesn't mean growing older

"When's the last time we dropped our things and went? Woke up somewhere that we've both never been? Growin' up doesn't mean gettin' older."

Whole-hearted people know the importance of youthful play. Granted, it helps that Joseph and I both look like we could pass for seniors in high school. I've loved these past 18 months of our marriage and how we've grown up together, but have also enjoyed playing together. 

12. Life isn't just about mountaintop moments

"Cause life is not the mountain tops, it's the walking in between. And I like you walking next to me."

There have been a lot of mountaintop moments in Joseph and I's relationship - I mean, Joseph proposed on a literal mountaintop. But the moments that I treasure the most are the little moments that Joseph and I have spent together. Whether it's cooking dinner together or sitting on the porch at the end of the night and talking about our days, I'm forever grateful for the walking in between with my husband. 

7 QT 48: Germans, goats, and glasses

Happy Friday, friends! Joseph and I have a three day weekend, so we're slowly getting ready around the house this morning. We got the trash out in time, made coffee, and listened to music. We've got a slow weekend ahead of us, with a parish picnic on Sunday! But before we grab the picnic blanket, here's a quick look back on our week in the Langr house: 

1. Oh, this is what glasses are supposed to fit like

After a week of wearing my new glasses, I came to the slow realization that they just didn't fit my face. Between some crazy headaches and indents on my nose from the nose-piece, I knew something wasn't quite right. I walked into the eye doctors for an adjustment on Monday and the women working there questioned why I hadn't come in sooner. 

I don't know, I'm stubborn? 

It turns out they were really out of whack. As in, I spent a solid twenty minutes getting the nose piece adjusted. Also I found out that my ears sit lower than my eyeballs, which just makes glasses generally difficult. Now they're all adjusted and feeling so much better. I don't know why I didn't do that sooner. 

 

2. Let's play a round of 'spouse or sibling' 

When Joseph and I were on our honeymoon last year in Chicago, we wandered through the swanky, multi-floor Macy's. As we ascended the floors, things continued to get more and more expensive.

Then we hit the fur coat section. Some of which cost more than our entire wedding. About that time a saleswoman saw us and asked if we were siblings, on our senior high school trip. No, we responded. We're actually a married couple. On our honeymoon.

I'm not sure how much Joseph and I will look alike as we age, but if we're getting mistaken for siblings on our honeymoon, I think that means we'll end up looking like identical twins once we hit retirement. Which brings us to this fun game of 'spouse or sibling'.   

Joseph went into the eye doctor and is due for new glasses, but the frames he likes look eerily similar to mine. He's tried my new frames on and said 'Oh, these look good on me.' So today we're going to make the final frames decision. Our parameters? Spouse or siblings. Whichever doesn't make us look like twins, I'm down for. 

 

3. How I built this  

Once I find a podcast that I like, I tend to binge listen. The latest podcast on my queue has been 'How I Built This' with Guy Raz. Each episode, guy sits down with a business builder and asks them, well, how they built their business. 

I may have listened to the episode with the founder of Patagonia three times this week already. It just makes me want to throw on an overpriced sweater and go surfing. And I hate the ocean. 

If you're looking for a podcast to listen to this weekend, 'How I Built This' makes great binge listening material. 

 

4. We're camping in the rain

Joseph and I are planning our trip this summer for Colorado, but we also have been planning on some local camping trips this summer. This weekend, we're testing out our equipment at a local lake. We figured it's a good way to see what we'll need and what we don't. 

Only, there's rain in the forecast. So we'll be discovering our lack of rain gear, I think.

Granted, it may not rain. It may be beautifully dry, with not a cloud in site. Or there could be a thunderstorm and our tent could get blown away. This is Kansas, after all. 

 

5. Back to my German roots (also, I want a goat) 

Last weekend, Joseph and I took a quick road trip down to Topeka for the annual Germanfest celebration at the parish I grew up in. We ate German food, spent some time chatting in the beer garden, and then we settled down for the auction.

This year's hot auction item was a baby goat. And the baby goat was there. Why hasn't this been a feature of every Germanfest? The goat's name was Boots and it ended up going for $700, a little bit out of my goat budget. But it was great to hang out with Boots, who was walking around the Germanfest on a little leash. Like a tiny puppy, but *surprise!* it's a goat. However, speaking of dogs . . . 

 

6. A cure to puppy fever

No, we're not getting a dog. Yet.

But, a friend of ours here in Kansas City asked for someone to come play with her puppy a few times a week. And go on walks with it. And feed it. And cuddle with it. I'm going over to meet her puppy this weekend, but I am pumped. Oh, and there's also a kitten in the same house. So I'm curing two pet fevers with one trip - either that, or this will make me want a dog of our own even more. 

Expect regular 7 quick takes appearances from this puppy. 

 

7. My not so unique coffee mug

After posting a picture of my 'unique' coffee mug in last week's 7 Quick Takes, Joseph and I went over to his parent's house for dinner. Lo and behold, my sister in law, Natalie has the same coffee mug. Well, not the exact same, but the same concept.

Then a friend texted me a picture of his matching coffee mug - the twin to my 'unique' coffee mug. It turns out it's not so unique. But it still keeps my hands warm, so it's got that going for it. But it's good to know that, if I break it (which knowing me will be soon), I can find a replacement. 

Spiritual Maternity Isn't Second-Rate Motherhood

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When I think of moms, many women come to mind.

I first think of my own mom, who fostered a love of reading and writing in my life. My grandma taught me to play piano and sew a dress. The women at the church I went to during college always make sure to say hello when I'm back home for the holidays. My friend's mom had the cool snacks and sometimes let us stay up past our bedtime during sleepovers. In my life today, religious sisters are showing me what it meant to love Jesus with my whole heart. 

While some of these women are called 'mom' by their own physical children, other women in my life who taught me the depth and beauty of motherhood have never given birth.

And while I love thinking back on examples of spiritual mothers in my life, when it comes to my own story, spiritual motherhood can feel like a consolation prize.

Although I'm physically a mother to Marion, our son, I don't hold him in my arms. Instead, he's in Heaven, interceding for his parents (and giving us some incredible incentive on our journey to our Heavenly home!). Being a mom to a little saint wasn't something I expected in my story. Secondary infertility wasn't something that I had planned for, either.

Does your heart, too, know the pains of motherhood that doesn't quite look like what you thought it would?

Has Christ called you to marriage, but not introduced the second part of that vocational equation into your life yet? Is your little saint in Heaven, too? Does the experience of infertility weigh heavy on your heart? Does physical motherhood not quite look like what you had dreamed of? Is Christ calling you to be His bride alone, asking you to sacrifice physical motherhood in a vocation to consecrated life? 

If any of these situations are close to your heart, it may feel like the call to spiritual motherhood is a second-rate motherhood. But that couldn't be further from the truth. 

Every woman in the world was made to be a mother either physically or spiritually. Here we are not talking of physical motherhood, we are speaking of spiritual motherhood.
— Fulton Sheen

In one of my favorite pieces of writing from Saint Pope John Paul II's papacy, Letter to Women, he writes that spiritual motherhood has "inestimable value for the development of individuals and the future of society." He also thanks women for their generosity, a willingness to give themselves to others - especially the most weak and defenseless. 

Here are three concrete things you can do to explore the call to spiritual maternity and realize that it isn't a consolation prize - it's a incredible calling from the Father. The world needs your spiritual motherhood, sister. 

1. Don't wait for littles to use your maternal gifts

"If motherhood was more about what's in your heart than what's in your womb, I needed to stop waiting for a baby to use my maternal gifts," writes Colleen Carroll Campbell, author of My Sisters the Saints. "I needed to start recognizing the opportunities I already had to nurture growth in others, defend the vulnerable, and make the world a more loving, humane place."

If we're called to mirror Christ's love to the weak and defenseless in our lives, this isn't confined to physical motherhood. In her book, Colleen writes about how her experience caring for her father during his struggle with Alzheimer's gave her an opportunity to live out her spiritual maternity. 

What areas of your life are an invitation for you to dive deeper into spiritual maternity? This may come in the form of praying for others, cherishing them like daughters and sons. Maybe Christ is calling you to come alongside someone in your life and walk the journey to Heaven with them.

Perhaps the Lord wants to transform the cross you're carrying into a bridge to His heart for others in your life.

"There is nothing second-rate about spiritual motherhood," Colleen writes. "It is a powerful channel of God's love in a love-starved world, one all the more potent when it springs from trials you do not choose." 

Similar to the uniqueness of living out the feminine genius, spiritual motherhood looks different in the life of every woman. "In the life of consecrated women, for example, who live according to the charism and the rules of the various apostolic Institutes, it can express itself as concern for people, especially the most needy: the sick, the handicapped, the abandoned, orphans, the elderly, children, young people, the imprisoned and, in general, people on the edges of society," John Paul II writes in his apostolic letter Mulieris Dignitatem

2. Foster a relationship with the Holy Spirit

Honesty hour - the Holy Spirit is the one person of the Blessed Trinity that I struggle to relate to. In Scripture, the Holy Spirit is described as a dove during Christ's baptism, and a flame above the heads of the apostles during Pentecost.

I don't know about you, but I have a hard time building a personal, intimate relationship with birds and flames.

Recently though, I've discovered the hidden gem that is the Holy Spirit when it comes to developing a desire for spiritual maternity. 

In an episode of The Catholic Podcast, Dr. Mike Scherschlig (the founder of Holy Family School of Faith) introduced me to a new, completely relateable way to approach the Holy Spirit. 

In Scripture, wisdom is described with feminine characteristics. The author of the book of Wisdom writes about praying for understanding. He then goes on to describe wisdom with feminine pronouns. "I preferred her to scepters and thrones, and I accounted wealth as nothing in comparison with her.

Who is lady wisdom, and why do Old Testament authors refer to wisdom with feminine descriptions? 

"Through all of the wisdom books (Psalms, Proverbs, Wisdom), 'wisdom' is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is described with distinctively feminine, maternal, and bridal characteristics. Then, in the New Testament, the Holy Spirit is given a maternal and educative mission to form Christ in the world and Christ in souls," Dr. Mike Scherschlig explained. 

The Holy Spirit has a maternal, educative mission to foster a love for Christ in our lives and in our hearts. Who better to turn to in prayer when it comes to deepening in our understanding of spiritual maternity? Ask the Holy Spirit for the grace to partake in the maternal, educative mission in the Church (and the world!) today. 

3. Entrust your spiritual maternity to Mary

"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 Saint Edith Stein. But the maternity Edith wrote about isn't just found in physical motherhood. 

"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," she continues. "It must have its root in universal divine love for all who are there, belabored and burdened."

There is a beautiful, deep relationship between the Holy Spirit and the Blessed Mother. While the Holy Spirit offers the grace to understand a maternal mission, Mary gives us an example of what spiritual maternity looks like in ordinary, daily life. 

"The Holy Spirit formed Mary to be the perfect human expression of the maternal and educative mission of the Spirit," Dr. Mike Scherschlig continued. "In some way, Mary makes present, powerful, and efficacious this maternal and educative mission. In a certain sense, we can say that Mary is the sacrament of the Holy Spirit. She's the human, visible sign that makes this maternal mission present."  

At the foot of the cross, Mary accepts the mission to be the spiritual mother to us all. It is for this reason that Saint Pope John Paul II encouraged us to trust Mary along our journey to her son. "Entrustment is the only response adequate to the love of a person, in particular to the love of a mother."

6 Signs of a Healthy, Holy Dating Relationship

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Have you ever been in the grocery store checkout line, or maybe in the pew at Mass, when you see an adorable older, married couple? You know – the couples who still flirt with each other even after fifty years of marriage, and hold hands on the way out to the car?

We’ve all seen that couple (and wanted to be like them!). But fears about divorce rates and unhappy marriages can leave us wondering if we’ll ever be in a healthy, balanced, relationship that strives for holiness.

How do you know if a relationship is healthy, happy and strong? Check out my latest blog post over at Catholic Singles to read through these six signs to help you discern. 

7 QT 47: Garage sales, deals, and unique coffee mugs

Happy first Friday of June, friends! This week has been a busy week, but we're looking forward to having a relaxing weekend with family. But before Friday draws to a close and brings the weekend with it, here's a quick look at the adventures around the Langr house this week: 

1. Summer reading, summer sales

This week at the bookstore, we set up our summer sale for books. There are some great finds for as much as 40% off! After marking all the books down and spending my day looking at all the great deals, I'll admit, it's going to be a challenge to not bring home my paycheck in books over the summer. 

 

2. Garage sale

Every year, our parish puts together a huge garage sale in the basement of the church. We brought our donations Monday, we hit the preview sale Wednesday, and we're volunteering to clean and restock tonight. This garage sale is massive - you can find everything from patio grills to legos. At the preview sale, we found some great finds!

 

3. The deal of the week

On the religious items table, Joseph found a beautiful picture of the Holy Family. We have an icon of the Holy Family in our kitchen, so we picked it up to look at it. Lo and behold, it's much more than just a picture!

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When you turn the picture over, there's a small latch. When you open the latch up, you find this: 

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It's a sick call kit! If a priest visits to give last rites to someone, he'd use the items found in the kit. We're hoping not to need to use it anytime soon, but what a great find!

 

4. My love language is unique coffee mugs

 

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The last thing we need around the Langr house is more coffee mugs. We have a set of 8 matching mugs that Joseph bought in college, a variety of quirky cups that I collected, and mugs from trips. But how could we not stop and look at the coffee mugs for sale at the garage sale?

In one of the last boxes, we found this gorgeous mug. It's a hand warmer mug. And hand. warmer. mug. It's also homemade (by someone in 2009 according to the bottom of the cup), which makes it that much more endearing. I've only drank coffee out of this mug since Wednesday, and I even brought it to the bookstore with me on Thursday. I think it'll be a favorite of mine for sure. 

5. Oh, this is how pencil skirts are supposed to fit

I've been looking for some comfortable, well-made business casual pieces to add to my wardrobe. One thing that has eluded me is a pencil skirt. At the parish garage sale, I picked up a pencil skirt from Loft and it fits like it was made specifically for me! 

When we were checking out, I also realized that I scored a $100+ dollar shirt from Sundance Catalog for a whopping $1.00 - so good deals abound. 

 

6. We have room on our bookshelves, right?

One of the first place we headed to at the garage sale was the book section. There we found a copy of the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic ChurchThe Screwtape Letters, and The Second Greatest Story Every Told by Father Gaitley. We came home and added these books to the growing book stack on our kitchen table. The books joined a stack of books sent for review from a couple different publishers, and some books that a friend brought back from vacation (Lord of the Rings!).

It's a good thing we have a bookshelf stored in my parent's garage. We're going to need it. 

 

7. It's just getting started

My little sister Mady is walking the Camino in Spain this summer - please keep her and her pilgrim group in your prayers! Joseph and I are dropping her off at the airport tomorrow morning. But before we head out to the airport, we're hitting the garage sale one more time. Saturday is the last day of the sale, so everything is 50% off and you can get a bag of clothes for $1. So while the deals that we've gotten so far this week have been awesome, we'll see what other deals await us tomorrow! 

Have a great weekend!

 

12 Steps to Asking Someone out on an Old Fashioned Date 

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There’s no denying that dating in today’s world is tough. Between hooking up and hanging out, going on a date can be emotionally exhausting. Dr. Kerry Cronin is hoping to change that.

Dr. Cronin is the Associate Director of the Lonergan Institute at Boston College and the Faculty Fellow in BC’s Center for Student Formation. Over the past twenty years, she’s spent time teaching in the Boston College Interdisciplinary Perspectives Program, a Philosophy and Theology program in the “great books” tradition. She also works with undergraduate students in retreat programs at Boston College. She’s a regular speaker on college campuses, addressing topics of student culture and formation.

For the past twelve years, Dr. Cronin has required her students to ask someone out. She teaches her students how to ask someone out on a real date, explaining what their time together should look like, and giving her students steps to follow to ensure a successful date.

“It’s almost like the structure of manners,” Dr. Cronin told The Chicago Tribune in an interview earlier this year. “At their best, manners are supposed to let us know how to act and how to work around social awkwardness, but at their worst, manners make people feel excluded and that there’s some secret way that they’re supposed to act that they don’t have access to. Dating is the same kind of thing — at its worst, it can make you feel like there are normative ways you’re supposed to act, and if you’re not doing that, you’re excluded, you’re out. So at its worst, it can be a really rigid system that only rewards people who are in certain circumstances, but at its best, what it can offer us are ways to navigate social vulnerability and social awkwardness.”

You can find out more about Dr. Cronin’s dating challenge in a new documentary called The Dating Project. The film follows five singles on their journey to find love.

Are you intrigued by the prospect of a real date? Click over here to Catholic Singles and read my take on Dr. Cronin’s steps to asking someone out on a good, old-fashioned first date:

3 Things to Consider Before Sleeping Over

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After Joseph proposed,  I loved imaging what our life together would look like after the wedding.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved planning the wedding day with Joseph, but it was our marriage that I was excited for. I was ready to say ‘goodnight’ and not ‘goodbye’. I wondered what our toothbrushes would look like sitting on the same sink. But what I really couldn’t wait for was falling asleep next to Joseph for the first time.  I couldn’t wait until the morning after our wedding so that I could wake up beside Joseph for the first time. Now, almost a year and half after that wedding day, that’s still the favorite part of my nights and mornings – falling asleep next to Joseph and waking up beside him the next day.

I’m not going to pretend that we were perfect during our dating relationship or even our engagement.  There were plenty of times where I begrudgingly got off the couch at Joseph’s apartment or watched him get up off the floor of my parent’s house and start out on the long drive back home. It would have been so much easier to snuggle back up with Joseph and fall asleep instead of making the drive home in the dark.

Maybe you’ve been in our shoes, too. You’re over at your boyfriend’s house for a date night when you look at the clock and see that it’s getting late. Perhaps you’ve made a long drive to spend time with your girlfriend and you realize it’s later than you thought. It’s in moments like these when you have to make a decision – in the words of The Clash, “Do I stay or do I go?”

Before you make the decision to spend the night with the man or women that you love (yep, even if nothing is going to happen), click over to Catholic Singles to read my blog about the 3 points you should think about. 

7 QT 46: Hikes, cocktails, and a giveaway!

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Not only is it Friday, it's the Friday before Memorial Day. This weekend, we're taking time to honor those who have given their lives while serving in the country's armed forces.

It's also a four day weekend, so we'll be celebrating with deck parties, road trips to see friends, relaxing, and gratitude. Before we pull out a lawn chair, here's what is new with the Langrs this week:

 

1. Wait, this isn't Ireland?

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Last weekend Joseph and I took a quick day trip down to Manhattan, Kansas. After brunch with friends, we drove a few miles out of town and hiked the Konza trail. Thanks to the fog and the recent rain, it looked like we were hiking in Ireland.

Or, this is what I imagine Ireland looks like, since I've never been. Fine, it just looked like the Ireland I've seen in the movies. I'm looking at you, Leap Year. 

We took the 4 mile loop and enjoyed the views, the silence, and the occasional rain drops. It was a gorgeous hike! The last time Joseph and I were on that trail, it was on our first date as boyfriend and girlfriend. We revisited some of our first memories together and had a great time. 

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2. The new glasses have FINALLY arrived!

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This morning I was planning on publishing this post when I got a call from the optometrist - my glasses have arrived! I love how quirky they are! For some reason in my mind, these glasses were bright pink - so it was a happy surprise when I realized they were actually a deeper cranberry color. 

Now I'm just waffling back and forth on whether I should keep my hair long or go back to the Chloe classic pixie cut. What do you think?

Should I make good use of that $7.99 haircut coupon I have around the house?

 

3. Puppy love

While we visited friends on Sunday in Manhattan, we stopped in their apartment to meet their adorable dog. After playing with her, watching her sit (and stay and come!) on command, and just basking in her cuteness, my dog fever has returned. Although, let's be honest, it's never left.

I've caught myself a few times this week looking at puppy pictures and enjoying spending time with a few other friends' dogs too. But then I think of the work that goes into taking care of a puppy - potty training, training in general, etc. What's been your experience with dogs? If you were to share your thoughts on adopting a puppy versus an older dog, what would you say? Asking for a friend. 

 

4. Budding cocktail connoisseurs

There's nothing like walking into a fancy bar, realizing they don't have a menu, and having your mind go blank. What do you drink? What would you like to order? How are cocktails made? What is a cocktail?

In typical Langr fashion, Joseph and I took a walk down to the library one night after work and checked out every book they had on cocktails. No, seriously, every book. My favorite is the illustrated guide to cocktail making. After realizing the sparsity of our liquor collection, we decided to buy a bottle of liquor each month and gradually build our selection. 

Now in our growing liquor cabinet (read: the cabinet above our stove) we have gin, rum, and whiskey. The vermouth is in our fridge (we kind of know what we're doing). We're thinking that our June liquor purchase will be vodka.

We've gotten very creative with our cocktail making, and I don't know if that's us being adventurous or ignorant about how cocktails work. Cold brew cocktail? Check. La Croix cocktail? Turns out that canned hairspray tastes pretty good with some gin added. 

This week I also made a trek down to our local thrift store and bought some martini glasses. After spending a whopping $2.12, we're drinking in style now!

 

5. Deck parties and sangria

We're headed to a house-warming deck party this weekend and I volunteered to make a pitcher of sangria. The only thing is, I've never made sangria. I must have been feeling adventurous.

After some quick research, it turns out sangria is a little more complicated than I expected. So far, all I've decided is to use the Trader Joe's classic '2 buck chuck' wine as the base.

Other than that? I'm not quite sure. Do you have a favorite sangria recipe you've used in the past and loved? 

 

6. Celebrating Letters to Women! 

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11 women teamed up with me this week to host a giveaway celebrating the first year of my 'Letters to Women' podcast!

I'm giving one lucky reader eight books, a brand new water bottle, and of course two coffee mugs. Everyone knows the morning is better with at least two cups of coffee. Now you'll have mugs for both morning brews. Enter today! The giveaway ends in one week

 

7. The rabbit protest continues

Wilson continues to protest his food selection. This week we took all of the pieces of food that Wilson refused to eat, stuffed them in his cranberry bag and shook it all together.

The faint cranberry flavor encouraged him to eat a few pieces of food, but he couldn't be fooled. I've upped his food portions so we don't have a repeat of last week

GIVEAWAY: Letters to Women is Celebrating 1 Year!

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On June 1, 2017, I launched the Letters to Women Podcast. It was a project Jesus kept placing on my heart. I didn't know exactly what the podcast would look like, I'd never used podcast recording equipment before, and I wondered if anyone would listen.

One year later, I'm getting ready to celebrate the anniversary of Letters to Women! Without a doubt, it has been one of the most life-giving, fruitful projects I've ever embarked on. I've met amazing women, had incredible heart to heart conversations, and the Holy Spirit has been so present in this adventure.

To celebrate Letters to Women's birthday, I'm excited to share a beautiful giveaway. Each of the prizes were donated by the amazing women who I have met in the past year. Here's a look at the prizes and a look back at the first year of Letters to Women!

Scroll through through the prizes and enter at the bottom of this post. The one year anniversary celebration giveaway starts Friday, May 25th and runs until May 31st, 2018. I'll announce one winner on June 1st, 2018 - the one year anniversary of the podcast! One lucky winner will receive all of the following prizes: 

Thank You, Women Who Work Mug

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Last September, I sat down with Samantha Povlock, who runs FemCatholic: For Women, For the Church. Her mission is to educate, encourage, and empower women as they strive for Christ. During our episode together, we talked about Edith Stein, John Paul II's call for a New Feminism, and Theology of the Body. Click here to listen to 'A Letter to the Woman Wondering about Feminism' here! 

The winner of the giveaway will a 'Thank you, Women Who Work' mug from Samantha. Want more items inspired by Saint Pope John Paul II's Letter to Women? Check out the rest of the merchandise available at the FemCatholic shop

 

A copy of Ignite! Read the Bible Like Never Before

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Last December, The Bible Evagnelista - Sonja Corbitt- joined me on Letters to Women. She converted to Catholicism and is working to break the stereotype that Catholics don't read the Bible. We discussed how to pray through Lectio Divina, how to heal the father wound in our life, and how to love the Word of God. Click here to listen to 'A Letter to the Woman Who Wants to Read the Bible'. 

The winner of the giveaway will receive a copy of Ignite! Read the Bible Like Never Before, by Sonja Corbitt and Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers. 

 

A copy of Super Girls and Halos: My Companions on the Quest for Truth, Justice, and Heroic Virtue

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I loved visiting with Maria Morera Johnson last fall. We talked about her friendship with the saints, and how holiness is for all of us! I loved how her book compliments the culture's latest super hero movies. Click here to listen to 'A Letter to the Woman Looking for a Hero'. 

The winner of the giveaway will receive a copy of Maria's book Super Girls and Halos: My Companions on the Quest for Truth, Justice, and Heroic Virtue

 

A copy of Making Room for God: Decluttering and the Spiritual Life

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I hate Spring cleaning, but my conversation with Mary Elizabeth Sperry this Spring made a world of difference when it came to tackling my crammed junk drawers and disorderly cabinets. Mary Elizabeth shared practical tips for how to declutter, but also tied the entire conversation back to our interior lives and relationship with God. Click here to listen to 'A Letter to the Woman with a Messy Closet'. 

The winner of the giveaway will receive a signed copy of Mary Elizabeth Sperry's latest book, Making Room for God: Decluttering and the Spiritual Life.

 

A New American Bible 

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Amy and I's episode together last winter was on a subject near and dear to my heart - miscarriage and infancy loss. Amy Thomas shared her story as a mother to little saints, and how her relationship with God changed and was transformed through loss and suffering. Click here to listen to 'A Letter to the Mother of Saints in Heaven'

Something that was incredibly comforting to both Amy and I during our loss was Scripture. The winner of the giveaway will receive a copy of The New American Bible from Amy! 

 

A copy of Marian Consecration for Children

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I learned so much from my episode this spring with Dr. Carrie Gress. We talked about how Mary can save civilization what Marian consecration means, and how to live out Marian consecration in today's world. Click here to listen to 'A Letter to Women About the Most Influential Woman in the World'.  

The winner of the giveaway will receive a copy of Dr. Carrie Gress' latest book, Marian Consecration for Children: Bringing Mary to Life in Young Hearts and Minds

 

Every Sacred Sunday Coffee Mug

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We've all been bored at Mass before. This past January, Kassie Manning and I visited about how we, as women, can be intentional with our time at Mass. Kassie and Christie's beautiful creation of Every Sacred Sunday has radically changed how I enter into the Mass on the weekends. Click here to listen to 'A Letter to the Woman Who is Bored at Mass'. 

Of course this giveaway would include more than one coffee mug - if you're like me you drink multiple cups of coffee a day. Multiple cups of coffee call for multiple mugs! The winner of the giveaway will receive an 'Every Sacred Sunday' teal coffee mug to call their own. 

 

A copy of The Friendship Project

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I loved talking to Michele and Emily last November. There's nothing better than discussing friendship than discussing friendship with two women with an inspiring friendship that strives towards virtue. Friendships with women get a bad rap (catty! Back stabbers!) but Emily and Michele's book gives a blue print for how to delve deeper with the women in your lives. Click here to listen to 'A Letter to the Woman Desiring Virtuous Friendships'. 

The winner of this giveaway will get to dive into a copy of The Friendship Project by Michele Faehnle and Emily Jaminet. 

 

A signed copy of Emotional Virtue

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Sarah Swafford's writing on relationships changed the way that I viewed the men in my life. It was such a blessing to sit down with her over a cup of coffee this spring and discuss a life of virtue. Click here to listen to 'A Letter to the Woman Who Doesn't Have it All Together'. 

The winner of the giveaway will win a signed copy of Sarah's book 'Emotional Virtue'. 

 

25 Days of Devotion to the Virgin Mary e-book by Ginny Kochis of Not So Formualic 

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Ginny Kochis of Not So Formulaic is an inspiring advocate not only for her own children, but for children and parents everywhere. She sat down with me in March of this year and discussed how she and her husband parent a twice exceptional child. Click here to listen to 'A Letter to the Woman Raising Twice Exceptional Children'. 

The winner of the giveaway will receive an electronic copy of Ginny's e- book '25 Days of Devotion to the Virgin Mary'. The book is full of meditations, prayers, and activities for kids and their moms! 

 

A water bottle from Catholic Women Run

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I was looking for a way to get back into running when I met Johanna from Catholic Women Run. She invited me into her Advent challenge and, thanks to her inspiration and encouragement, I ran my first 10K in March! Click here to listen to 'A Letter to the Woman Running to Christ'. 

The winner of the giveaway will receive a new running water bottle from Catholic Women Run

 

The one year anniversary celebration giveaway starts Friday, May 25th and runs until May 31st, 2018. I'll announce a winner on June 1st, 2018 - the one year anniversary of the podcast! Open to United States residents only. 

He's Pruning Our Souls

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I'm trying out my green thumb this spring. Our kitchen window is covered with blooming orchids, basil, and cilantro. The little green sprouts popped up and continue to grow. My daily routine now includes watering their hungry roots.

The flowering season for the orchid Joseph gave me is almost over, and just one little bloom holds its place on the branches. A few weeks ago, the leaves at the base of the plant turned a sickly yellow. When Joseph watered them one day, the dying leaf broke off in his hand. Pretty soon, I plucked another sickly leaf off the plant. I was worried that I'd continue to have to do this to all of the leaves, slowly watching the orchid wither away. But this weekend, to my delight, a little leaf sprouted at the base of the orchid - new life. 

Read more: What an Orchid Taught Me About Christ

I'm reminded of my growing green thumb when I recently dug into the Gospel of John. Although I'm just starting to nurture these little plants, tucked safety away in their miniature terracotta planters, the Lord's gardening takes place on a much bigger scale. While I tend to little cilantro sprouts, the Lord is tending to our hearts and souls. 

I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.
— John 15: 1-2

He's pruning us - cutting away that which keeps us from growing. He's shaping us into the daughters and sons we were created to be. But pruning isn't always a pleasant experience. I imagine a gardener brandishing his shears. He cuts deep into the vine.

It would be easy to put away the shears, to let the vine grow as it pleases. But without the pain, the vine can't grow. Without a clearing away of the rotten and dead, new life can't sprout. 

In the book of Hebrews, Saint Paul tells us that 'at the time, all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain, yet it later brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it."

Christ share the parable of the vine with His disciples while they are all gathered in the upper room. He's preparing them for what is to come.

Christ will leave the safety of the upper room and journey to the garden. He'll sweat drops of blood, ask for God's will to be done, and climb the hill to Calvary.

He'll die of a broken heart, abandoned by almost all who loved Him during His time on earth. Yet He invites His disciples to be pruned by the Father, to embrace their own cross and suffering.

What is the result of the pruning? The peaceful fruit of righteousness. 

What does the Father need to prune from your life so that it bears more fruit? It could be that He's asking to cut into the lies that the devil sown, the falsehoods the deceiver has told you about your story. Perhaps He is asking you to let go of the plans you had for your life in exchange for His vision of pruning. Maybe He is clearing away past hurts in order to make room for fresh sprouts, the new growth of grace in your soul. 

Are you afraid of the the Father and His pruning? Abide in the reality of Christ as the vine. He tells His disciples that He is the true vine. In Greek, the word word 'true', alethine, translates to being dependable, genuine, and real. Christ is the true vine, the God that is going to show up and keep His promises. 

Lord, give us the grace to abide in the reality of you as the true vine. Inspire in us a confidence that is unshakable. Prune away anything in our lives that is hindering us from becoming more like you. Help our lives bear fruit that will remain. 

6 Conversations You Need to Have Before You Say 'I Do'

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This year, Joseph and I are going to eight weddings. Friends, family, and friends of family are prepping for their big day, and continuing to discern their vocation together as a couple. Although the conversation topics during engagement usually tend towards wedding planning, venue options, and reception song dance lists, there are some other important conversations to have, too.

Here are six topics to talk over before the big day. Grab dinner (or coffee, or a drink, or all three) with your lover and have a heart to to heart about these important topics: 

1. Your vocation to love

Saint Pope John Paul II has a special place in Joseph and I's story - he's the patron saint of our relationship. This incredible saint wrote quite a bit on the topic of love and human relationship. He reflected on the book of Genesis and what he calls 'original man' - how we lived and loved before sin entered the picture. Men and women saw each other as a gift, someone to love and not something to use.

This idea of seeing people as gifts is the foundation of how the Church views the concept of a vocation. "God who created man out of love also calls him to love - the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being," the Catechism reads

It's easy to get wrapped into planning a wedding when you're engaged - or to look forward to planning a wedding when you're talking about engagement in your relationship. But a wedding is just a day - a marriage is (God willing!) a lifetime. 

Question to go deeper: What is your love story? Every love story has two versions (Joseph's is much shorter than mine). Tell each other your love story and notice what stands out in your partner's version of your love story. 

2. Family of origin

We all bring something from our family of origin into our marriage. When Joseph and I got married, one place where I saw family of origin come into play was something as simple as when we took showers. Joseph takes a shower in the morning before leaving for work, just like he took showers in the morning when he was growing up. I'm the opposite - I grew up taking showers in the evening. Since I come from a family of 10, hot water never a guarantee! Now, I usually take a shower mid-morning. Every once in a while, I'll take a shower in the evening and get some weird looks from Joseph. But that's just one of many things that Joseph and I both have a different family of origin experience with! 

Some of the things we bring into our family from our family origin are great - both Joseph and I come from Catholic families that prioritize prayer time. Other things can be, well, not so great. Other can be completely neutral, like holiday celebrations or how you'll divide up who cooks dinner and who loads the dishwasher. But before you get married, take time to look at your family of origin, and the expectations you have for marriage because of how you were raised. Then, take time with your partner to unpack your family of origin. It's up to you both to decide what 'bags' you'll bring into your upcoming marriage. You get to pick what you want to carry with you. 

Questions to get conversation flowing: What are some of the things about your family that you'd love to carry into your future marriage? What are some habits, traditions, or hurts that you don't want to bring into your sacrament? 

3. Lust versus love

We think of the virtue of chastity as something we may have learned about in high school youth group. But chastity isn't just for teenagers going off to prom - it's a virtue meant for all of us. Even when we get married!

"Chastity means the successful integration of sexuality within the person and thus the inner unity of man in his bodily and spiritual being," the Catechism reads. "Sexuality, in which man's belonging to the bodily and biological world is expressed, becomes personal and truly human when it is integrated into the relationship of one person to another, in the complete and lifelong mutual gift of a man and a woman." 

When we talk about lust in our marriage, things like adultery, prostitution, pornography and masturbation can come to mind. But lust can also sneak its way into our marriages when couples take away the life giving aspects of making love through sterilization and contraception. Chastity is the virtue that allows us to appreciate our spouse in their entirety - mind, soul, heart, body - yes, even their fertility. 

Before your wedding day, spend time talking with your future spouse about the role that chastity will play in your marriage. Take time in prayer to pray for the virtue of chastity, and the grace to love your future spouse fully, faithfully, fruitfully, and totally. 

Questions to get conversation flowing: Are there any things in your life that are holding you back from loving your future spouse fully? What are some ways that you can love your partner in a way that appreciates their entire person? 

4. The S Word

When we planned our wedding Mass, Joseph and I purposely picked Ephesians 5 as the first reading. It's a reading that can make the congregation squirm in their pews, thanks to the infamous line "Wives should be submissive to their husbands, as to the Lord". 

Ah, the 'S' word in marriage prep. Nope, not sex (although you should talk about that too, stick around for point five of this post). Submission.

As you continue to read Ephesians 5, you'll read "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her to sanctify her, cleansing her by the bath of water with the word, that he might present to himself the church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish". 

The word 'submission' at it's root means to be 'under the mission of'. Submission is a word that has been hijacked by the culture. What Scripture means when it asks women to be submissive is to be under the mission of her husband. And what does Ephesians 5 say the husband's mission is? To love his wife as Christ loved the Church, even to the point of sacrificing his life for her. That's a mission I can get behind. 

Questions to dive deeper: What do you think of the word 'submission'? What mission is your marriage called to? What does working together as a team mean in your marriage? 

5. Intimacy

When we think of intimacy in marriage, our minds go straight to what happens in the bedroom (thank you, stupid culture). But intimacy is so much deeper than just making love - although that's beautiful, too!

In Humanae Vitae, an encyclical written by Pope Paul VI, he describes marriage as a love that comes alive, a love that is fully human, "a compound of sense and spirit." This marital love is "a love which is total - that very special form of friendship in which husband and wife generously share everything." 

When it comes to the sacrament of marriage, there are multiple categories of intimacy that are needed for a healthy marriage: verbal intimacy, emotional intimacy, physical intimacy, spiritual vulnerability, and sexual intimacy. Pope Francis writes, "This process takes time. Love needs time and space; everything else is secondary. Time is needed to talk things over, to embrace leisurely, to share plans, to listen to one another and to build a stronger relationship."

Questions to chat about as a couple: What steps can you take as a coupe to sustain intimacy in all areas of your life? How can you set aside time to grow in intimacy on all levels? 

6. Conflict

There are countless things that will cause conflict in your marriage. It may be large triggers like lifestyle changes, job stress, or family issues. It could be that conflict arises because of small triggers like hunger or tiredness. In our marriage, Joseph and I both get grumpy when we don't have food - and knowing that hungriness can be a conflict trigger has been a life saver ("I know you don't mean that. We just need to get some pizza before we talk about this more"). 

Every couple will have conflict - that's okay. How do you handle conflict in your relationship - and how will you handle conflict in your marriage? Joseph and I both process stress differently. I like to process things externally, chatting with friends about it, and diving into verbal prayer. Joseph processes things internally. When we have something that we need to process and decide, we know that we'll process the conflict differently - and give each other space to process solo if need be. 

Questions to dig deeper: What patterns do you see when you look at how you handle conflict as a couple? When you examine those patterns is there anything you'd like to change? What are some healthy strategies you can put into place when conflict appears again? 

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If there was a couple to write a book on marriage preparation, it's John and Claire Grabowski. In 2009, they were appointed as the Member Couple to the Pontifical Council for the Family by Pope Benedict XVI. They also are the co-authors of anniversary edition of Saint Pope John Paul II's Familiaris Consortio. They are celebrating 33 years of marriage this year.

If you like their conversation questions and want to delve deeper into conversations you should talk about before tying the knot, check out One Body: A Program for Marriage Preparation and Enrichment for the New Evangelization by John and Claire Grabowski.