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

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

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

1. Oh, vehicles

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

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

Anyway.

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

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

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

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

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

3. Give this pregnant woman some chicken

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

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

4. Speaking of the baby . . .

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

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

5. What do I have on my face?

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

6. Working it out

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

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

7. We’ve got Wilson trained

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

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

A Procrastinator's Guide to Lent (Giveaway!)

Are you a chronic procrastinator when it comes to Lent?

We’re in the same boat, friend.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4 Women Artisans Who Are Embracing the Feminine Genius

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

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

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

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

1. Lillian Jude Designs

 
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Gracefully Wrapped

 
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Emily Rachelle

 
 

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

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

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

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

4. Catholic Wife Catholic Life Consultation Shopping

 
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Exploring the Feminine Genius with Saint Pope John Paul II

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Spiritually Prepare for Birth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Home again, home again

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

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

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

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

2. Spot-the-cat

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

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3. Hello, third trimester!

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

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

4. Putting in the miles

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

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

5. Celebrating two years of marriage!

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

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

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

6. Small plates, full stomachs

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

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

7. Wilson updates

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

The Brutally Honest Reason Why I Stopped Dying My Hair

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

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

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

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

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

I was tired of my hair owning me

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

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

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

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

Our bodies reveal the invisible

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

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

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

Desiring to be seen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Langr wedding selfies

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

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2. There’s still time for 2019 resolutions!

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

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

3. Bibliophile problems

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

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

4. Laundry master

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

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

5. Thrift store shoppin’

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

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

6. Winner, winner, chicken breakfast

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

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

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

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

Want to Come to the Holy Land with me?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7 Self-Care Apps that Will Help You Keep Your New Year's Resolutions

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I’m not that best role model when it comes to healthy, holistic self-care habits.

The journey of taking care of myself, seeing myself as beautiful, and nourishing my body and soul has been a long one - and a journey that I’m just beginning, honestly.

In 2019, one of my resolutions is to drink more water. Way too often, I reach for coffee, tea, or Dr. Pepper first before the thought of drinking water even crosses my mind. But only a few days into the new year, I realized that this resolution was going to be a lot harder to keep than I thought.

Read more: It’s Time We Reject These Lies About Self-Care

One aspect of the feminine genius that I’ve been diving into lately has been sensitivity - women’s ability to see and understand the deep desires and needs of the human heart, and to respond to those desires with the gaze and action of love.

I used to think that my sensitivity to the hearts of others was a character flaw. But now I realize that if I were to remove sensitivity from my heart, I’d remove part of what makes me a woman living out the feminine genius in today’s world.

Far too often though, I strive to be sensitive to the hearts and stories of others, and skip right over my own story and needs. So this year, I’m working to grow in sensitivity to my own story - and for me, that starts with picking up my water bottle more often.

To help me break bad habits and replace them with healthy, holistic self-care, I turned to technology for some back up. I started off by downloading an app that reminds me to drink water on an hourly basis.

But the more I thought about it, I realized that I couldn’t be the only one struggling with self-care, and even though I’m old fashioned, I’m loving how this little app is keeping me accountable.

So while it’s a small contribution to your self-care journey, I hope this recommended list of apps can help you as you become more sensitive to your own story and needs during this new year:

1. Sleep

We live in a culture that glorifies busyness - it’s tempting to wear our exhaustion as a badge of honor. But you’re worthy of a good night’s sleep. Getting good, quality rest isn’t a luxury. It’s a necessity, especially when it comes to things like making decisions and solving problems.

Do you remember having a bedtime routine when you were younger? At my parents house, we would pick up the toys we’d gotten out throughout the day, change into our pajamas, and settle in to read some of our favorite books.

As adults, we may have abandoned some of our old bedtime rituals, but a routine around bedtime is timeless!

Whether it’s turning off screens or making sure you still make time to read, establish a routine for going to bed. Then, when you’re getting settled in for the night, take advantage of the technology out there that can help you analyze your sleep cycle and making sure you’re getting quality rest.

Sleep Time helps you wake up feeling calm, refreshed, and well rested every night. The app has a built in alarm clock and sleep diary, and works to wake you up at the lightest sleep stage of your sleep cycle!

Sleep Time is available for Android and Apple systems.

2. Body image

What are the first things to come to mind as you get ready for the day in the morning? When you glance at your reflection in the mirror, are the phrases that pop into your head often riddled with thoughts of how you aren’t enough?

Maybe you struggle with the thoughts that you’re not beautiful enough or good enough. Perhaps you, like me, have approximately 3 minutes at the gym before you compare your body to another woman’s. You wonder if you’ll ever look like the world’s ideal of beauty, or if it’s even worth it even more.

Given that 97% of women say that they think at least one negative thought about their body image every single day, you’re not alone, sister.

Good Blocks is an app that was created thanks to research in the area of cognitive behavioral therapy. It helps you recognize automatic negative thoughts and adopt hopeful, flexible thinking when it comes to your relationship with your body.

Healing the way you think about your body is a long journey, and one that I’ve turned to professionals for help. A single app downloaded on your phone cannot radically bring complete healing, and should never replace professional help. But long journeys to healthy body image begin with small, intentional steps.

Find more about Good Blocks for your Android and Apple devices.

3. Nutrition

Although I’ve come a long way since college, I still struggle with a healthy relationship with food. I’ve taken concrete steps to set aside time for food prep, and stop for lunch breaks despite my work-from-home schedule. But one thing that I still struggle with is knowing what food is nutritious, and building up motivation to make healthy choices.

Fooducate lets you scan a bar-code of any product (or type in its name!) and see all the health details behind the food you eat daily. From ingredient lists to healthiness scores, Fooducate takes the guess work out of healthy eating. The app even gives you healthy alternatives to not-so-healthy foods that may dominate your eating habits.

You can download Fooducate on your Android and Apple devices.

4. Social media

How much time do you spend mindlessly scrolling through social media? How often do you walk away from your scroll sessions feeling envious, unworthy, and insufficient? Even if you realize how much time you spend on social media and how it makes you feel afterward, do you still find yourself clicking on Instagram in moments of boredom?

Social media isn’t evil. But given that people touch their phones an average of 2, 617 times a day, social media can be pretty dang distracting and destructive if it’s not used for good reasons.

The first step to healing from negative social media usage is realizing how much time we really spend on our phones. If you want to stay focused in any scenario and be able to put your phone down and focus on what’s really important in life, check out the Forest app.

Whenever you want to focus, you plant a tree on the app. The longer you are able to stay focused on the task at hand and not be distracted by your phone, the healthier the tree will grow. If you’re able to stay focused, you’ll be able to build a forest, with every tree representing your focused time!

Check out Forest for your Android and Apple devices.

The Forest app costs $1.99, but if you’re looking for a free alternative, try out OffTime.

5. Stress

Do you end most of your days feeling overwhelmed, unable to process your emotions, or stuffing your emotions down because you just don’t think you have time to healthily process them? Your mental and emotional health is an important aspect of self-care!

If you’re struggling with grief, anxiety, or stress, it’s important to consider professional help. But if you’re looking to take small steps in the right direction, Happify may be a great place to start. The app brings you effective tools and programs to help you process your emotions.

Get Happify for your Android or Apple device.

6. Work and life balance

As someone who works from home as a freelance writer, I know the struggle of balancing work and life outside of work. My office is right off our kitchen, so it’s always tempting to sneak in there throughout the evening to finish up that one last piece of a project.

It wasn’t until I started tracking my time for a work project that I realized where I was actually spending my time throughout the day.

If you’re suspicious that you’re spending too much time at the work desk, or worry that you’ll never have time to dedicate to the hobbies you love, it’s not a bad idea to become aware of how you’re actually spending your time.

Timeneye is a gorgeous, non-distracting app that you can use to monitor how you spend your time. From work projects to household chores, you can see exactly how you spend your day and adjust your self-care habits from there. As a bonus, Timeneye syncs up with apps like Google Calendar and after you start to use the app, it learns your habits and suggests entries for you.

Download Timeneye on either your Android or Apple devices!

7. Interior life

Self-care isn’t just about your body. After all, you’re created in the image of God: Body, mind and soul. So this year, commit to a spiritual resolution!

It’s easy to make vague resolutions like “pray more,” or “grow in my interior life.” Instead, make attainable, achievable goals when it comes to your relationship with God. One accessible goal for your prayer life could be praying fifteen minutes a day.

Don’t know where to start? Don’t worry, you’re not alone if you struggle to dedicate time to prayer. But Pray As You Go is a great app that can help you set aside ten to fifteen minutes for prayer, scripture, music, and reflection.

The app also includes an audio Rosary, Stations of the Cross, and a daily examen.

You can find Pray As You Go as an app for both your Android and Apple devices.

7 Quick Takes 66: Acrobats, Planners, and Polaroids

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Hi there! Happy Friday . . . at least I think it’s Friday, right? I’ve spent the time between Christmas and New Years wondering what day it is, what time it is, and whether I should be eating more vegetables than holiday cookies.

After a beautiful holiday season, Joseph and I are back to work and our regular routines throughout the week. But we’re excited for this weekend, when we’ll be headed to a friend’s wedding and getting together with family. But before we take our Langr wedding selfies, here’s a quick look back on the adventures the Langrs had together over the past few weeks.

1. Dinner is under pressure

Joseph gave me an instant pot for Christmas, and even though it wasn’t a surprise to see it underneath the Christmas tree, I was still incredibly excited. During the week after Christmas, almost all of our meals were instant pot meals so we could get a handle on this brand new kitchen gadget.

Joseph and I have two very different approaches to cooking with an instant pot. I like to pull up multiple recipes, decide what I’d like to include in the meal, and carefully make sure everything is put in the pot just right before frying my brain with math equations concerning how long the chicken should cook if there’s also rice in the pot.

Joseph, on the other hand, chucks everything in the pot, closes the lid, and looks at a chart we printed off to tell him what minute marker everything will cook at.

I like Joseph’s method better.

Without a doubt, our favorite feature of the instant pot is that it can cook rice in 4 minutes with no mess. It’s a beautiful alternative to my normal method of making rice: on the stove, boiling over the pot, spending more time cleaning up after the rice mess than actually eat the rice itself. Yes, this instant pot is here to stay.

2. I’m dreaming of a sloth Christmas

Without a doubt, my favorite animal is the sloth. Yes, even more than golden-doodles, which is hard to believe.

This year for Christmas, everyone picked up on that love of sloths when it came to gift giving. Joseph gave me a skirt with sloths printed on it, and my parents gave me a huggable sloth that also massages your back. My little sister gave us a set of clothes for the littlest Langr, decorated with little sloths.

I probably took my love of sloths too far over the week between Christmas and New Years and imitated their behavior a little too much, too.

3. Giving birth to an acrobat

We got to see the littlest Langr on a sonogram a few weeks ago. Since it was a longer scan to measure how he or she is growing, we got to spend quite a bit of quality time with our little baby. It wasn’t easy to take measurements or pictures though, since the baby decided to show of acrobat skills that he/she had been practicing.

Needless to say, all of the pictures our sonogram tech printed off for us are of our baby with his/her feet over his/her head, totally bent in half. It doesn’t look super comfortable!

4. Ringing in the New Year

We had friends over to our house for New Year’s drinks and deep meaningful conversations. We chatted about what we were looking forward to in 2019, and then some of our guests gave quick presentations about something they were passionate about and we discussed it together.

From Mumford and Son lyrics, to beauty, to moral ethics, it was a beautiful night.

One of our friends brought along a Polaroid camera, and the pictures have a great 1970s vibe to them, which this Old Fashioned Girl is a big fan of.

5. Getting my fluids

One of my 2019 resolutions is to drink more water. I realized that too quickly I’d reach for a Dr. Pepper more than I would a water, and the littlest Langr needs his/her fluids! To kickstart the habit, I downloaded an app that reminds me every hour to go and get a drink of water.

Unfortunately, the notification alert on my phone sounds like someone is running water. This is inconvenient for two reasons. The first is that I spent too much time yesterday looking to see where water was running in the house, only to discover it was the app notification. The second is that the sound of running water isn’t particularly soothing for a pregnant woman, whose bladder can’t hold that much water at once.

But I met my water drinking goal for yesterday, so I’m going to call it a win.

6. What sparks joy?

We’ve been watching “Tidying up with Marie Kondo” on Netflix. I’ve read Marie’s book when it first came out a few years ago, and was excited to see her principles put into practice on a television show. Joseph hadn’t heard much about her, and was a bit skeptical.

However, the past few days, I’ve come home from meetings or small groups to find that Joseph has totally tidied up different parts of our house. Whether it’s the closet, the kitchen, or a corner of our bedroom that seems to draw clutter to it like a magnet, everything is getting organized and tidied up.

Thank you, Marie Kondo.

7. Bring it on, 2019

I decided to by a Blessed is She planner for 2019 with some Christmas money - and I’m so excited. I’ve tried paper planners in the past, but haven’t fully integrated them with my digital planners.

But after missing a holiday party due to my pregnant brain and not writing some details down when I heard them, I’m resolving to get more organized in the coming year.

Originally, the planner wasn’t supposed to get here until next week, but I just checked and it’s going to be delivered today! Check out my Instagram this weekend to see what I think of it.

The Most Popular Posts from 2018

I hope you had a very Merry Christmas this week! Joseph and I are spending the rest of Christmas week relaxing, doing some cleaning, and spending good quality time together.

With 2019 right around the corner, I’ve had fun looking through the Old Fashioned Girl blog archives and the Letters to Women podcasts from 2018 and seeing the most popular posts and episodes. Here’s a quick peek at the most read blogs and most listened to podcasts from the past year!

1. 5 Things that Modesty is Not

2. 6 Lessons I Learned in My First 6 Months of Marriage

3. It’s Time We Reject These Lies About Self Care

4. A Letter to the Woman Living in Today’s Throw-Away Culture

5. Standing With Mary at the Foot of the Cross

6. 12 Lessons on Love as Told by Ben Rector

7. Spiritual Maternity Isn’t Second-Rate Motherhood

8. A Letter to the Woman Experiencing Infertility

9. Charting Your Fertility May Be the Best Self Care You Can Give Yourself

10. 6 Women Share How Quitting Birth Control Improved Their Health

What was your favorite post or podcast from Old Fashioned Girl and Letters to Women from 2018?

Photo credit to Katherine M. Blanner

7 Quick Takes 65: Coughing, Christmas Surprises, and Procrastination

Christmas is right around the corner. It’s been a busy week of Advent preparation, Christmas tree decorations, and some holiday shopping. This weekend, Joseph and I are taking a drive around town to check out Christmas lights, chilling around the house before the holidays kick into gear, and having some friends over for a holiday brunch after Mass.

But before the poor, overworked UPS delivery person puts the last package on our porch, here’s a look back on the past week with the Langrs!

1. ‘Tis the season for coughing and sneezing

Saturday morning I woke up with no voice and an awful cough. All weekend plans of productivity were tossed out the window in favor of naps, cough drops, and hot tea.

Thankfully, it looks like I’m clearing up - except for that notorious cough that sticks around for at least 8.7 weeks after the cold is gone. That’s here to stay for a while.

2. An early Christmas surprise

Tuesday morning I woke up to find an insta-pot sitting on our front porch. It took me by complete surprise, and I stared at it a while before realizing that it was actually a package from Best Buy, where Joseph did some Christmas shopping.

Sadly, they’d totally failed to put the insta-pot in another box, so the contents of the box where incredibly obvious. The insta-pot is now sitting by the Christmas tree, a Christmas surprise that came a little early.

But I am so excited to use this insta-pot. I’ve been wanting one for a while, and I can’t wait to try it out. I tried to convince Joseph to let me unpack it and start cooking with it over the weekend, but it’s still a “do not open until Christmas” gift.

Are you a lover of insta-pots? Drop your favorite recipes in the comments, I’d love to try them out!

3. Hitting the “snoop” button

Last weekend, Joseph and I set our morning alarm with our Amazon Alexa. When the alarm went off in the morning, Joseph sleepily asked Alexa to “snoop” the alarm.

“You want me to play songs by Snoop?” Alexa asked, confused.

“No! Just snoop the alarm,” Joseph clarified.

I only let their argument go on for a little while before I asked Alexa to “snooze” the alarm.

Mornings are rough, friends.

4. Professional Christmas procrastinators

This Christmas season, I’ve been a professional procrastinator. I knew what I wanted and needed to pick up from the store, I just kept putting things off. Low energy and feeling under the weather didn’t help much, either.

But I finally wrapped things up on Wednesday of this week!

The only bad thing is that all my packages are arriving Christmas Eve, so I’ll either have to have a gift-wrapping party after midnight Mass or count the Amazon packaging as gift wrap.

5. Gearing up for the 2019 reading challenge

I was over the moon excited when Haley from Carrots for Michaelmas posted her 2019 reading challenge. It’s going to be CathLIT. There are 19 categories and tons of beautiful suggestions that I’m excited for. I think my reading list for the new year is going to look something like this:

  1. My Sisters the Saints by Colleen Carroll Campbell. I’ve read it 5 times, but it’s fantastic.

  2. Story of a Soul by St. Therese of Lisieux, a saint who followed me around this year.

  3. Jesus and the Jewish Roots of Mary by Brant Pitre, whose work I love.

  4. Love in the Ruins by Walker Percy, an author I’ve been wanting to get to know better.

  5. Jesus of Nazareth by Pope Benedict XVI, the pope who followed me around this year

  6. The Reed of God by Caryll Houselander, I’m reading this with my Well Read Mom book club.

  7. The Spirit of the Liturgy by Pope Benedict XVI, because you can’t have too much of Benedict.

  8. An Immovable Feast by Tyler Blanksi, a conversion story.

  9. Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton, another author who friends have encouraged me to read.

  10. The Brothers Karamazov, which has been sitting on my bookshelf for almost two years now.

  11. Catherine of Siena by Sigrid Undset, an unread book by one of my favorite authors.

  12. Kristin Lavransdatter, also by Undset, a book I adore and need no excuse to re-read.

  13. Leisure: the Basis of Culture by Josef Pieper, whose work on holy leisure is fantastic.

  14. The Divine Comedy by Dante, which I’ve read in chunks but need to read all the way through.

  15. A Spiritual Reader by St. Hildegard von Bingen, a saint I’ve been wanting to get to know.

  16. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, which comes highly recommended.

I still haven’t picked a book by an early father of the Church, a book about a Catholic monarch, or a recently published Catholic book. I’d love to hear your suggestions (and your 2019 reading list!)

6. Speaking of books, you know what I’m doing over Christmas break

One of my favorite secular authors is Louise Penny, a mystery novelist. I discovered her books during the Spring of 2017 and have devoured them (out of order) since then.

Her latest, Kingdom of the Blind came out this year and after months and months of waiting for everyone in front of me in line at the library to read through it, I’ve finally got my hands on a copy. Just in time for Christmas reading!

I’ll be snuggled up with a warm blanket and that book for a majority of next week and can’t wait to see how Penny surprises me this time!

7. Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your family! It’s been such a joy to share life with you this past year, and I’m so excited for all that 2019 has in store!

9 Gifts for New Dads That Honor Their Fatherhood

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Normally I talk quite a bit about the feminine genius on this blog, but today I wanted to shine a spotlight on the strength of the masculine genius.

Joseph and I are so excited to welcome our son or daughter, and I wanted to get Joseph a gift this Christmas that especially focuses on his fatherhood.

After coming up with a short list of ideas, I turned to the internet for more suggestions. But I was disappointed by what I saw.

Many gifts featured in articles painted fatherhood as a joke, or worse, an inconvenience to men. Some gifts made it seem that all men are inherently incompetent when it comes to raising children. Others seemed to infantilize new dads, portraying them as just one of the kids. Far too many “new dad kits” were filled with beer, jokingly suggesting that the only way a new dad was going to survive was if he had some alcohol to help.

After discussing my frustration with friends, I wanted to offer some gift suggestions for new dads in your life that honor their masculinity and fatherhood.

Check out my nine gift picks over at Aleteia!

These 7 Catholic Women Were Real Life Superheroes

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Although we can turn to fictional comic books for examples of warrior women like Wonder Woman and Superwoman, those superheroes don’t begin to compare to the incredible women throughout the history of the Catholic Church who stood up for — and sometimes even fought for — truth, justice, and honor.

Check out these seven incredible women and their stories over at Aleteia.

7 Quick Takes 64: Trees, Parties, and Baby Kicks

Happy Friday, friends! This weekend Joseph and I are grabbing dinner with family, finalizing our Christmas shopping list, and putting out our holiday decorations. Then it’s off to Christmas work parties!

But before we dust off the branches of the Christmas tree and wrap them in lights, here’s a quick peek back on the adventures we’ve had over the past few weeks.

1. O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree

Joseph’s Christmas tree from college is about three feet tall, so we waffled back and forth about whether this it the year we should get either a larger fake tree or explore the world of live Christmas trees.

After wandering around the store for a while and not falling in love with a single tree, we decided to use our little baby tree one more year. I’ll post pictures next Friday after we get everything set up this weekend!

We’re planning to snag a taller Christmas tree during the after-Christmas sales. What are your favorite places to shop for after-Christmas goodies?

2. Kicking it into gear

After weeks of waiting, the littlest Langr kicked me hard enough for both Joseph and I to feel him/her move last weekend! I’m hoping they tone down their violence level a little when they get outside the womb, though.

We went to a doctor appointment recently and the baby kicked our doctor when he checked for their heartbeat. Alright, slow it down in there, little feisty baby.

3. On the other side of the microphone

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I've sat behind this podcast microphone hundreds of times in the past year and a half, but I've always been the host or co-host and never the guest. 

But that changed today thanks to Mystery through Manners Podcast! It was so great to sit on the other side of the microphone and chat with Jules. I can't wait to hear the episode. We can try to do life alone, but it's so much better to do beautiful things together with others.

4. A (white) elephant in the room

We kicked off our 2018 Christmas parties with a white elephant gift exchange with married couples at our parish. It was a blast - we had some incredible appetizers and desserts and then started the gift swap.

After unwrapping, stealing, and stealing, we ended the night with a new candle (which is perfect since I’ve been burning all the candles in our house recently), and a little snowman cup for some hot cocoa. What’s your favorite fun gift you’ve unwrapped at a white elephant gift exchange?

5. Holiday calendars are hard

Monday night I was all ready to go for a work Christmas party. I was especially excited to not have to cook dinner that night. But, on a whim, I checked the invite again to make sure of details. It turns out the party was not for another six days, and the RSVP date was Monday night.

Needless to say, I’m now really looking forward to the party this weekend and I’m glad I just didn’t show up at the host house, all geared up for a party. Hey, I just take a while to gear up into party mode, apparently.

6. The Langrs attempt a movie night

We had a free Redbox rental this week, so we decided to watch Crazy Rich Asians. I’ve been reading the first book in the series over the past few weeks and I broke my rule of reading the book before watching the movie.

Although the film footage of Singapore was beautiful, the story was just another romantic chick flick. Joseph slept through it, and after I realized the movie was almost two hours long, I kind of wished I had joined him.

7. Wilson is getting too comfortable

We left Wilson to wander on his freedom rug this past week and let’s just say that he’s testing his boundaries. We found him sitting on the couch (he can jump that high!?) and looking very pleased with himself.

After promptly shooing him off the furniture, we re-established his highly supervised playtime routine. I swear, if you give this rabbit an inch, he’ll take a mile.

An Evergreen Advent

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This weekend, as I sat in our pew at Mass, I realized that I thrive in Advent.

Maybe it’s because I’m a planner. I love the season of preparation as we wait for the arrival of Christ, a vulnerable naked baby born in Bethlehem. I smile every time I light our Advent candles, and the smell of fresh greenery brings back childhood memories.

Every Christmas, I’m filled with a mix of excitement for celebrations, but sad to see Advent go.

But this year, I’m coming to a realization that Christ invites us into a season of waiting for him, and that season doesn’t end with when December 24th makes its annual appearance on our calendar.

Although we’ll pack away our Advent wreath, we’re still called to live in ‘Advent,’ a word that literally means ‘coming’ or ‘arrival.’

Who is coming? Who’s arrival are waiting for? Christ’s.

We’re not only called to reflect on his first coming in the Incarnation, his birth as a baby, but also his second coming at the end of time, where we’ll meet him face to face.

No one knows the hour or day the Lord will return, and for most of us, it could be that the first time we see him face to face is not at the final judgement, but at our own judgement after death.

The Catechism talks about this double meaning of Advent beautifully, saying, “When the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year, she makes present this ancient expectancy of the Messiah, for by sharing in the long preparation for the Savior’s first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for his second coming” (CCC 524).

Our Advent should be as evergreen as the trees we decorate this Christmas season. Our waiting doesn’t end - we constantly call out ‘Marantha,’ ‘Come, O Lord!’

As if I needed another excuse to burn candles all year round.

“Lord Jesus, Master of both the light and the darkness, send your Holy Spirit upon our preparations for Christmas. We who have so much to do seek quiet spaces to hear your voice each day. We who are anxious over many things look forward to your coming among us. We who are blessed in so many ways long for the complete joy of your kingdom. We whose hearts are heavy seek the joy of your presence. We are your people, walking in darkness, yet seeking the light. To you we say,  ‘Come Lord Jesus!’
— Henri Nousen



- Henri Nouwen


7 Bible Verses for the Not-So-Pretty Moments of Pregnancy

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Pregnancy is a lot harder than I thought it would be.

People keep encouraging me, telling me that the second trimester brings that ever-evasive pregnancy glow. I hope they’re right — we’re only a few weeks away into our second trimester and symptoms are beginning to lighten up. But I’ve quickly learned that pregnancy is filled with moments that are not so perfect or pretty. Instead of the pregnancy glow, I have a healthy sheen of not showering for days on end.

If you’re pregnant and finding yourself stretched emotionally, spiritually and physically, click over to Aleteia to read through and meditate on some Scripture passages that I’ve been loving lately.

12 Unique Gifts for All the Catholics in Your Life

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Advent has begun, and for most of us, it’s also the start of the gift giving season. I love giving gifts more than I love receiving gifts, so this time of year is always so much fun for me.

Are you struggling to decide what gift to give your Catholic friends and family this Christmas? No worries, I’ve rounded up my favorite gifts from around the internet and done the hard work for you.

Check out these twelve, unique gifts for all of the different types of Catholics in your life this year!

Some of these posts contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through these links, you support Old Fashioned Girl with no additional costs to you!

1. For the Catholic who has it all

This Catholic has everything they could possibly need. Their walls are full of gorgeous religious art, their bookshelves are filled to the brim with books that you’re constantly asking to borrow. This is the Catholic friend who sends you texts with cute Catholic things they found on the web. What more could they need?

Enter Sock Religious. They’re a mom and pop online store that was launched by Scott and Elisabeth in 2017. They roll out new designs on a regular basis, and offer the perfect accessory to bring the Catholic faith to your workplace or spice up your Sunday best!

My favorite socks by far are their Saint Therese of Lisieux socks. With “The Little Way” written on the bottom of the sock, they serve as a great reminder to walk each way along the littlest way!

Sock Religious has something for every Catholic. Check out all their designs here.

2. For the Catholic who secretly wants ink

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Most of us have that one Catholic friend who talks about ideas for their Catholic-themed tattoo but may or may not pull the trigger on getting some ink. For my friends, that person is me. That’s why I love Just Love Print’s temporary tattoos.

Last year, Joseph gifted me a package of “Be Not Afraid” temporary tattoos, one of which I still have and am planning on wearing into labor with the littlest Langr in the spring! The collection of temporary tattoos offered has recently expanded to fifteen options and you’ll want to get your friend every single one of them.

3. For the caffeinated Catholic

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This Catholic friend prefers to always meet in coffee shops. They’ll probably always have a mug of something close by, or are willing to debate you about which is better: iced or hot coffee.

This caffeinated Catholic probably has their favorite mug and brew already, so what a better gift for them than a cozy coffee mug? I’ve been a long time fan of Cozy Wife’s beautiful crocheted mug cozies, and there’s one for every kind of Catholic on your gift list.

Whether they prefer their coffee for here or to go, she’s got something for them. She even has cozies for their beer bottles and ice cream cartons. Are they more of a tea person? Don’t worry, she has that covered.

4. For the well-read Catholic

This Catholic friend is always giving you a new book recommendation. Their favorite accessory is their library card, and their shelves are organized alphabetical by author (or if, they also have a decorating streak, by color of the cover).

You’re not sure what they have read, or, really, what they haven’t read. But you know you want to fuel their reading habit. Stop by your local Catholic bookstore and pick up a gift certificate for them. Your book worm friend will love browsing through the selection and picking up something they’ve wanted for a while, and you’re supporting local Catholic businesses. I’d call that a win-win.

5. For the littlest Catholic in your life

Is your nephew, niece, or godchild on your list of people to go shopping for? Check out my favorite Catholic company for the littlest saints-in-the-making in your life: Chews Life.

There’s a wide range of products offered by the company, including rosaries, decade rosaries, bracelets, pacifier clips, and Divine Mercy teethers.

If there’s a new mom on your gift list, check out their Mama Necklaces, which are perfect for moms with curious littles!

6. For the organized Catholic

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This is the Catholic who is always on time to everything. They also know who’s saint feast day it is, and throw liturgical themed parties. They’re a blast to be around, but they can’t keep all that information in their head!

That’s why the beautiful Blessed is She Liturgical Calendar Year Planner for 2019 is the perfect gift for this friend. Not only will it help your friend keep organized, it also features full color, double sided pockets, a hard cover for durability, and prayers added from your favorite Blessed is She writers. The planner also comes in a miniature version, too!

If you’re looking for the perfect gift for me, I’ll gladly take one of these this year! This planner has been on my wish-list for years now, and one day I may pull the trigger!

7. For the traveling Catholic

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This Catholic friend is lovingly referred to as “the pilgrim” of your friend group. They’re always off on business trips or fun trips around the globe. Their passport is full of stamps, and they’ve always wanted to walk the Camino.

Funding their next pilgrimage may be out of your gift budget, but you can help them locate their luggage whether you’re traveling with them or not! Tiny Saints are perfectly sized for zippers to clip onto their luggage, car keys, or backpacks.

There are 84 saints to choose from, ranging from well-known patrons like Saint Christopher and Saint Thomas Aquinas, and lesser-known holy men and women like Blessed Frances Schervier and Blessed Mother Maria Theresia Bonzel!

While you’re checking out the tiny saints, take a peak at their rosaries, lanyards, and stuffed animals! Ordering for a TON of Catholic friends, or making Tiny Saints the universal stocking stuffer for your family this year? Check out their bulk discounts!


8. For the foodie Catholic

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This Catholic friend is always raving about the latest great dish they tasted. Their favorite priest is Father Leo, who’s known in their circles as the Catholic foodie.

What better gift to get your food-loving friend then some food? There’s so many awesome religious orders who sell incredible food to support their communities. Pick up some gourmet chocolates, creamed honey, and Assumption Abbey Fruitcake.

If you’re working on a time crunch, a good old fashioned Chick Fil A gift certificate is always a good way to go! After all, it’s the Lord’s food!

9. For the bearded Catholic

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For this Catholic, no-shave November is an all year round event. They frequently compare their beards to the great bearded Catholic saints. What better way to support their love of facial hair than with Barbatus Beard Balm?

Their website has plenty of choices for beard balm, beard oil, beard brushes and mustache wax. All of their products are handmade in Seattle.

The beard balm is available in five INCREDIBLE Catholic scents, including “Chrism,” “Holy Smokes,” “Lectio,” “Orthodoxy,” and “Franciscan.” Their seasonal scents include Fox Bait, which is in partnership with a great Catholic podcast, “Catching Foxes.”

Catholic bonus: Your purchase helps support Catholic youth ministry! Barbatus Beard Balm is training young leaders in Uganda, training ministers around the world, and sharing the Gospel with teens all around the country.

10. For the fashionable Catholic

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This Catholic friend always shows up to events looking fashionable and put-together. Their Pinterest board is your constant source of inspiration for all things fashion, and they sometimes come over to help you pick out outfits for Mass on Sunday.

What better gift than a gorgeous, Catholic shirt to add to their closet? Brick House in the City creates shirts and products for women who want to be the light of Christ in their own corner of the world.

The shop offers 43 different choices for products. My favorite include this “Strong Women” tee and this “Saints of Our Time” shirt, which features some of my favorites.

11. For the crafty Catholic

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This Catholic friend frequently can be found crafting all the Catholic things. They’ve made their own Advent wreathe, ornaments, and (if they’re a hardcore crafter) their own peg doll Nativity set.

You’re crafting Catholic friend will love Little Meadows, a small business Etsy shop run by Ginny Sheller. She’s a wife and mama to eight littles, and they live together on a homestead in Virginia. She’s a crafty Catholic who creates yarn out of natural dyes.

If your crafting friend isn’t a yarn person, check out Ginny’s gorgeous naturally hand-dyed head scarfs and homemade cherry little bird shawl pins. She also stocks homemade goat milk soap and gorgeous photos of their farm.

12. For the joyful (and well-accessorized) Catholic

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This Catholic friend is contagiously joyful. They constantly inspire you to be grateful and pause and enjoy all the blessings God has given you.

If you’re wanting to give them a gift inspired by the joy they have in their hearts, Pink Salt Riot is the place to go. The company is all about spreading joy in a world that sorely lacks it. Jill Simon designs jewelry, decor, and stationary to inspire joy in our daily lives.

Check out each one of the gorgeous collections, including the Augustine collection, the JPII Letter Collection, and the Marian collection (my favorite!)

7 Quick Takes 63: Closets, Storms, and Advent!

It’s FINALLY Friday, friends! It’s been a long week for this old fashioned girl. But it’s almost the weekend, I’m sitting here sipping a homemade chai latte, and this weekend is beautifully empty with the exception of a big family dinner at my parents. But before I stick a fork in this week and call it “done,” here’s a quick look back at the adventures that the Langrs went on since we chatted last:

1. That’s it, I’m ready for Advent

Advent and Christmas are my favorite seasons of the year. Growing up, my family didn’t set up the Christmas tree until “pink candle Sunday.” Looking back on it, I totally understand. Eight kids and breakables tend not to mix well. But now that Joseph and I have our own little house, I’m itching to deck the halls and decorate all the things.

We’re still trying to decide if we want a bigger Christmas tree this year or if we’ll stick with our little, two-foot-tall baby tree. But you can bet your jingle bells that I’ll be decorating our mantle on Monday

I’ve been really good about not pulling out the Christmas decorations yet. But I broke down today, guys. I played the Advent playlist today and I don’t care that Advent doesn’t start ‘til Sunday. It’s Friday, which means it is the vigil of the vigil of Advent. So I’m good.

2. I could live in this closet

We’re living in this beautiful house now, and there is so much space. I don’t know what to do with it all. Our first little one bedroom apartment would fit in the kitchen. And then there’s this closet.

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I could live in here. The baby’s room could be in here. And my office. And all of our camping gear. I could invite hobbits to live in here and there’d still be room for all of us. But it turns out it’s just clothes and storage.

3. Baby preppin’

I’m not a big Black Friday shopper, but last weekend I stayed up way past my bedtime (which is 10:00 because I’m an adult) to snag a good deal on one of the first things we’ve bought for baby Langr. I can’t wait to give this to them at their baptism!

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It’s been a beautiful journey with this pregnancy. But anytime we buy something for the baby or put things together in his/her new room, it’s an incredible act of hope, faith, and vulnerability, after losing Marion.

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Beautifully, our new home already has a pre-made baby room, complete with gender neutral grey and white stripes. The curtains also came with the house, just in case you were wondering.

4. I’m not quite ready, winter storms

I know I live in the wrong part of the United States to desire sun and warm days this time of year. But Kansas City has gotten a few snowstorms already, and another one made an appearance on Thanksgiving day.

I picked up a friend at the airport the next day, post-blizzard, and our trusty little Prius did great! But I’ll take sunny and 70 degrees any day still.

5. Making my TV debut

Being on television isn't my comfort zone at all - I'd much rather be behind a podcast mic or blogging. But I loved getting the chance to get out of my comfort zone and visit with Audrey Assad, Carrell Jamilano, and Lisa Mladinich about the issue of pornography in women's lives!

You can now watch the episode on YouTube! Ignore that annoying lamp light that shines on my glasses the whole time. I can’t ignore it, but you should.

6. A different kind of Advent preparation

We’re getting ready to kick off our four part Advent series over at The Catholic Podcast. Joe Heschmeyer and I tossed around quite a few ideas about what we should chat about in the next month, and we landed on something . . . . well, let’s just say it’s a little darker than your chocolate Advent calendar.

Want a hint about the series? Joseph and I’s wedding selfie at the recent Heschmeyer wedding says it all:

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7. Our new house is now Wilson-approved

Wilson hates car rides. Well, Wilson hates a lot of things, and car rides are one of them. So are new places, new smells, and change in general. So we weren’t quite sure what he’d think of the new place after a traumatic, twenty minute car ride.

Thankfully, he ended up in the front room with plenty of rug to run around on during his supervised play time. Because we can’t trust him after that speaker wire incident two houses ago. But he’s been joyfully running and jumping to his heart’s content this past week, so everyone is happy.