The One Thing You Need to Know About the Feminine Genius

What comes to mind when you think of a holy, Catholic woman who’s living out the feminine genius in her daily life?

When I started learning more about the feminine genius, I worried that I wouldn’t make the cut. I don’t even fit into society’s beauty standards, let alone what I thought were the Catholic Church’s standards for women.

After all, I’m the woman who has to confess cussing in the confessional more than I’d like.

I struggle to pray the Rosary, have a bad case of impatient road rage, and sometimes get really mad at God.

I struggle with an addiction to perfectionism and constantly have to to stop myself from falling into the traps and lies of comparison.

I’ve carried the cross of miscarriage and infertility, and for a season, everything that I thought made me a woman was broken.

But here’s the thing, sister. I was thinking about the feminine genius all wrong. The feminine genius isn’t a box you have to stuff yourself into.

The feminine genius isn’t a cookie-cutter model for how to live authentically as a Catholic woman. There is no one, right way to live out the feminine genius. In fact, it will look different in the life of every woman because we each have our own story.

In his Letter to Women, Saint Pope John Paul II thanked women for their contributions to the world. He thanked women who are mothers, wives, daughters, and sisters. He thanked women who work, who influence the culture, and who are consecrated. Get this - he actually finished by thanking every woman for the simple fact of being a woman.

“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,” John Paul II wrote.

So regardless of your wardrobe, what you do between 9am and 5pm, or your vocation, Christ invites you to live out the feminine genius in your own radically unique way.

If there is one thing to know about the feminine genius, it’s that it is an invitation to live a life of freedom, not a life of constriction.

Want to dive deeper into what it means to live out the feminine genius? So do I! Check out “Letters to Women,” a podcast that I’ve created specifically to explore the feminine genius even more. In every episode, I invite women on the show so that we can get real about the challenges and joys of living out the feminine genius in today’s world.

Now it’s your turn: How do you live out the feminine genius in your daily life as a Catholic woman?

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.

8 Ways to Give on Giving Tuesday (When You're Broke)

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Tomorrow is #GivingTuesday, a day dedicated to giving back at the beginning of the Christmas and holiday season. The founders of Giving Tuesday wanted to offer an alternative to the commercialization of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

The founders of #GivingTuesday are right. The holidays are packed with commercialization and consumerism. My local grocery stores have already rolled out their Christmas decor, and the snow covering the ground here in Kansas sure isn’t helping me stay in the present moment without mentally jumping to Christmas morning.

But what if your budget is tight this Giving Tuesday? There are some incredible organizations to donate money to, and we’re called to be generous with our dollars. But if you’re looking for some non-monetary ways to give back this week, here are eight ideas to try out.

1. Donate your time

Dr. Seuss famously wrote, “Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more!” We each have special gifts (charisms!) that we can give others, and they aren’t gifts that we can pick up off of the shelf at Target. Target is wonderful, but it only has so much.

This week, donate your time with an organization that you’re passionate about. Maybe you have a gift of teaching. Spend time with your local Boys and Girls club or an after school program in your area and invest in the kids of your community. Maybe your gift is creativity, and you love taking photos. Ask your local humane shelter if they need someone to take pictures of their animals in need of adoption to promote their cause.

Regardless of what your gifts and talents are, there is a way to share them (and your time!) with the world and your community. Spend time researching the options out there for you and commit to one during this holiday season!

2. Organize that ONE closet in your house

Joseph and I are packing up our house for our third move in less than three years (I swear I don’t enjoy packing that much, and it’s not because we’re awful renters). Last weekend, he and I went through every single cabinet and closet in our house and donated everything we haven’t used in the past year.

We took a car load of bags and boxes to our local thrift store and it was incredible. Our favorite thrift store in town is owned by City Union Mission, which serves the spiritual, physical, and emotional needs of women, men, and children who are poor and homeless right here in our own city.

Read more: A Letter to the Woman With a Cluttered Closet

So, this week, reject the commercialism today’s culture offers and be intentional with your possessions. Clean out that one closet in your house that you rarely go into and see what you can give to someone.

3. Compliment someone today

When was the last time someone gave you a compliment? What was your reaction?

I know that when someone compliments me, it makes my day. But you don’t have to just be the receiver of compliments, you can be the giver, too!

Today, compliment someone in your life. Maybe you send a text to a good friend and thank them for their intentionality in your friendship. It could include sincerely complimenting the person ahead of you in the coffee store line on their clothing, or choice of book they’ve brought to read while sipping on a latte.

4. Share your favorite small business or organization

Who is your go-to small business for unique, gorgeous gifts? What organization inspires you with the way they reach out to others and live out their unique gifts?

Today, mention that business or organization in conversation with friends. You can also share their page on Facebook, or talk about your favorite product or cause on Instagram. Having a word-of-mouth recommendation from a friend always encourages me to go explore what they’re talking about.

If you can’t support your favorite organization with money this year, help them get the word out about their mission!

5. Rate and review your favorite podcast or blog

Giving Tuesday is a global day of giving, and you can use this day to help give back to your favorite blogs and podcasts. Start your morning everyday with a read-through of your favorite blogs? Leave them a comment knowing you appreciate their work.

Do you love the work that your favorite podcast is doing? Consider supporting the podcast by rating and reviewing the podcast on iTunes. It's that simple! The more rates and reviews a podcast has, the easier it is for other listeners to find the podcast and get access to great episodes and resources. 

(You can find Letters to Women on iTunes here!)

6. Leave time in the margins of your day

When you hear the call to be generous, do you wince and wonder how you’ll possibly add one more thing to your calendar? The call to be generous isn’t the call to add on another thing to your to-do list. Instead, it’s an invitation into a way of life.

Start living generously by simply leaving room in the margins of your day to encounter others. If you’re rushing from one thing to the next, it can be difficult to spend time with others who didn’t have a calendar appointment with you. When you leave room in the margins of your schedule, you can authentically encounter others in your life without stressing out about running late to your next event. Leave an extra fifteen minutes between things you have to do so that you can be generous with the time you have.

7. Go hands free for the day

“One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon, instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today,” wrote Dale Carnegie.

One thing we’re usually too generous with as a society is how much time we spend in front of a screen. We give Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and a slew of other apps our full attention for hours on hours. So this week, be intentional with those who are in front of you instead of those who are in on the screen.

Joseph and I recently started turning off our phones on Sundays, and it’s been incredible. We have great conversations, accomplish things together, and enjoy each other’s company without distractions.

Today, spend time with your family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors without a screen between you.

8. Open up your home to friends

Want to be generous with your time and your gifts? Open up your home for an evening and invite friends over for dinner, dessert, drinks, board games, or whatever would make for a fun evening together!

Twice a month, Joseph and I will host dinner parties and Sunday brunches with friends from our parish or around the Kansas City area. It’s a great way to get to know new friends and spend time with friends we don’t get to see very often. We have great conversations, pull out a few board games, make a couple of drinks and enjoy holy leisure with people.

More of an introvert? You don’t have to invite every single person who you’re friend with on Facebook. Pick a few friends who you love spending time with and intentionally pour into your friendships with them!

3 Things I'm Thankful for This Thanksgiving

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I’ve got a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, including family around the table, and a pleasantly warm holiday weekend - especially given the snow that’s fallen in Kansas City a few times already this year!

We should strive to live a life of gratefulness all year around, but I love how Thanksgiving encourages us to pause and thank God for what he’s blessed us with. Here are just some of the things that I’m incredibly thankful for this year! What are you thankful for? Let me know in the comments!

1. An incredible husband

Joseph and I have been married for almost two years, and our marriage has been everything I’ve prayed for and more. I love him more today than I did on our wedding day, and daily pray for the grace to love him more tomorrow than I did today.

2. Our growing family

This time last year, Joseph and I were in the middle of our infertility journey. I remember wishing that three Christmas stockings would be on our mantle that year, but instead God asked us to abide with him and parent our little saint in Heaven.

This year, I’m almost halfway through our second pregnancy and everything is looking great! We get to see our littlest baby soon at an upcoming appointment. It’s been such a blessing to get to know this baby and spend so much time with him or her over the last months. Please continue to keep us in your prayers!

3. A warm, cozy house (that’s starting to feel like home)

We spent the past week moving for the third time in less than three years of marriage! I promise it’s not because I love packing or because we’re bad renters. But every time we move into a new place, it takes a while to start feeling like home. We’re starting to get our furniture arranged where we wanted and it’s starting to look like our home.

What I’m most excited for with this new house that we’re renting is a huge living room and dining room so that we can host dinner parties and brunches with friends and family and everyone can see each other. We’re trying it out this weekend with a family Thanksgiving, and I can’t wait to see how it goes!

Happy Thanksgiving from our home to yours!

7 Podcasts for Thanksgiving Week

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Well hi there! It’s been a busy week here at the Langrs, full of work, blogging, podcasting, and packing all of our things into moving boxes.

Since Thanksgiving is right around the corner (6 days? That’s crazy!) I wanted to share some podcasts for your holiday listening. Whether you’re going to be spending hours in the kitchen with a turkey or hours in the car on the road, here are some of my favorites!

1. When you’re wondering if you’ll need to order take-out

How I Built This provides an hour’s worth of interviews jam-packed with the stories of some of the world’s best known companies. If you’re looking for inspiration on how to follow your dreams, learn from the best of the best in the business world.

Cooking in the kitchen and wondering if you’re going to have to order some take-out? Listen to Guy’s interview with Tony Xu, the business student who solved the problem of food delivery with DoorDash.

2. When you’re pouring a festive cocktail

Lindsay Graham (not that Lindsay Graham) is a natural story-teller and he brings history to life with his podcast History Tellers. I’ve loved this podcast after discovering it this past summer and have binged-listened to it quite a bit.

If you’re trying out hot mulled cider or a cranberry champagne cocktail, take a listen to the six part prohibition series from History Tellers. You’ll appreciate your cocktail even more after listening to the American story of prohibition - a story much messier and complicated than you’d think!

3. If you’re wanting to catch a movie over the holidays

Is one of your family traditions over the holidays heading to the movies and enjoying time together? If you’re like me, you may be out of the loop on what is new in the theaters and what is worth your time to see.

For commentary on all things pop culture (including movies, music, television, books and more!), check out Pop Culture Happy Hour. It’s full of fun and freewheeling chatter about all the media out there.

Scroll through their recent episodes to hear their thoughts on the latest movies.

4. If you know there will be some heated dinner conversations

Does Thanksgiving dinner often lead to controversial conversations at your house? Does your family love to grill you on your faith, politics, and the latest headlines in the news?

Every week, Joe Heschmeyer and I record an episode of The Catholic Podcast, a podcast where we strive to help people see the beauty of friendship with Christ, and the good of intentional friendships that lead others to Christ. Then, we invite listeners to share that message of friendship with others.

If every conversation with your great aunt or cousin leaves you wondering what to say, check out “Big Problems, Small Solutions,” where Joe and I discuss micro-progress and how it plays a key role in evangelization!

5. If you’re going around the table sharing grateful moments

Every year at a Thanksgiving gathering, we’ll go around the table and share what we’re grateful for. Cheesy? Yes. Thought-provoking? Also yes.

But Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be the only time we’re intentionally grateful for things. Wondering how to cultivate a culture of gratitude in your life after the holidays? Check out Letters to Women, a podcast that explores what it means to live as a woman in today’s world. If thankfulness in on your heart, check out “A Letter to the Woman Longing for Gratitude,” where Dr. Susan Muto shares how to practice gratitude daily in your own life.

6. If you finally have time to catch up on that reading list

Have a pile of books sitting in your car, on your couch, or on you dresser begging to be read while you have some time off work? Me too!

If you want to dive deep into the topic of good story-telling, wholesome fiction, and classic authors, check out the brand new podcast Mystery Though Manners, hosted by Jules Miles. You’ll want to check out her series on Catholic fiction, but also spend time listening to her recent series on blogging!

7. If you’re struggling to be thankful this year

If Thanksgiving doesn’t mean cheer and excitement this year, you’re not alone. Many of us are working through grief, transition, or other issues this year. If this is your story, check out Terrible, Thanks for Asking.

Each episode, Nora McInery talks with others honestly about how they feel about the worst things that have happened in their life. She won’t let anyone say “I’m fine",” or brush things under the rug.

The episode that hits particularly close to home this week is “Happy(ish) Holidays,” where Nora discusses her first Thanksgiving after her husband, Aaron, passed away.

How to Host Thanksgiving for the First Time This Year

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Thanksgiving (and the rest of the fall and winter holidays!) will be here before we can can pack away our Halloween costumes.

Last year, Joseph and I hosted a miniature Thanksgiving dinner. But this year, we’re hosting a bigger Thanksgiving dinner the weekend after Thanksgiving.

I used to think hosting big holiday dinners was an intimidating process, but in the past few years full of dinner parties and good community, I’ve found that I really enjoy hosting house parties all throughout the year.

I’ve learned a few things from past Thanksgivings, and I’ve learned a lot from years of family Thanksgivings. Here are my four tips for hosting a Thanksgiving gathering that you can enjoy and remember fondly!

1. Reject perfectionism

The turkey may burn. The potatoes may not want to be mashed. You may miss the annual dog show (where the poodle will win, again) because you’ve lost track of time in the kitchen. It’s not going to be a perfect day - and that’s okay.

Instead of aiming for a Pinterest-perfect or Instagram-worthy Thanksgiving day, pour into those around you and enjoy their presence in your life. Maybe you’re hosting a friends-giving since family is far away, or maybe you, like us, are opening up the house to all the family members. Regardless of what your Thanksgiving looks like, enjoy the messes and the smiles all together.

2. Three words: Crock pot turkey

Last year, Joseph and I borrowed my parents huge crock pot (you need big kitchen utensils when you have ten people in your family!) and made our cranberry orange turkey in the crockpot. We piled all the ingredients in the crock pot, slapped the lid on that bad boy, and walked away and forgot about it - that’s what crock pots are for, after all!

Maybe it’s not a crock pot turkey for you this Thanksgiving, but make as much food as you can before hand, or choose recipes that you can walk away from without worrying about. Your pies, casseroles, and sauces can be made days in advance and thrown in the freezer.

You don’t have to stress out during the last minutes before the Thanksgiving dinner. This year, don’t run around like a chicken, er, turkey, with its head cut off. Intentionally avoid as much stress as you can by prepping some things before hand.

3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Maybe the kitchen is not your favorite place to be in the house, or you’d rather do anything else in the world but cook a whole turkey.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help in the process of hosting Thanksgiving. Maybe you’ll ask your best friend to cover desserts, or come early to set up the table. Perhaps you’ll make a run to the grocery store and make a pre-made Thanksgiving dinner because you know that spending all day in the kitchen will take you away from friends and family.

We all have our strengths and gifts, and just because you’re hosting doesn’t mean you have to take the entire holiday on your shoulders. Instead, plan a Thanksgiving day that allows you opportunities to thank those gathered around your table for their unique gifts!

4. Take a deep breath and enjoy yourself

Why should families and friends gather together every Thanksgiving? To enjoy each other’s company and be thankful for all the things that God has blessed them with the year before. They don’t come to your house to be entertained, they come to celebrate with you.

Find things to be grateful for even in the preparation and busy rush of the day. Maybe it’s the way your grandpa helps take care of the dishes after dinner, or how your cousins leave you crying with laughter about inside family jokes. That’s what today is about, and those are the things you’re going to remember.

7 Quick Takes 62: Italy, Advent, and Snow

It’s been quite the week! We celebrated Joseph’s birthday, voted in the midterm elections, and stocked Wilson’s supply up of food and liter for the next few months! This weekend we’re celebrating Friendsgiving, and beginning the task of packing up all our little duplex for the third move in less than three years of marriage.

But before we tape the bottom of the first box (and let’s be honest, I don’t need much to distract me from the packing tasks), here’s a look back on the adventures that have been going on in the Langr household this past week!

1. When you give the Langrs an auction number

Last Saturday night, our parish hosted it’s annual grand gala. Joseph and I weren’t able to go last year, so we were excited. The gym and classrooms were transformed into a scene right out of old Hollywood.

We put our bids in on a few silent auction items and settled in for the live auction after dinner. Although we didn’t bid on the puppy Father donated, we had our auction number ready just in case anything caught our eye.

Halfway through the auction, a trip to Rome came up on the screen. Joseph and I have traveling to Italy on our 5-year plan as a couple, so our ears perked up. But the trip rocketed up to $6,500 before we knew it, and that was a little out of our budget.

But then, a few of the bidders had confusion over the amount and the auction for the trip had to start from scratch. Bidding started again, but no one was bidding on this incredible trip. So, Joseph and I exchanged a glance and threw up our auction number.

No one fought us for the trip, and we found ourselves the proud owners of a trip to Italy next year! Plans are still being determined, but we’re so excited to start planning this trip of a lifetime! Italy, we’re coming for ya!

2. Bring on Advent

We’ve had our eyes out for a good nativity set since last Christmas. At first we’d tried for a Willow Tree set, but none were quite to our liking. Then, at the silent auction last weekend, we laid eyes on a gorgeous nativity set (picture to come when we have it set up for Advent!).

As the silent auction was drawing to a close, we hovered around that nativity set to make sure we placed the winning bid. We won! I’m ready for Advent this year for sure.

3. Well, we tried for a movie night

Tuesday night, Joseph and I settled in after dinner and some errands for a movie night. Joseph has been wanting to watch Rain Man for weeks now, so we decided to go for a full movie on a work night.

We made it about an hour in before we started getting sleepy. Then, as our bedtime rolled around, we had to turn off the movie and head up to bed.

This is what happens after you graduate from college, kids. You used to be able to pull multiple all-nighters a week and stay up until 3:00 am. Now we head to bed before 10:30 pm and can’t make it through a movie. Ah, adulthood.

4. Ben Rector, round three

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.

This week, Joseph and I went and saw Ben Rector for the third time when he made a tour stop here in Kansas City. It was incredible! We were so busy enjoying the concert and running into friends that we forgot to take a picture.

Want to know more about Ben Rector? Check out this post from the archives.

5. Snow in NOVEMBER?!

Look, I know it’s getting cold. And I know I live in Kansas, but this week we got our first snow, and I think it’s a little bit ridiculous. Not that the weather is dictated by my thoughts, but if it were, we wouldn’t have snow.

We stood in line for the Ben Rector concert with snow pouring down on us, and when we got out, the whole city was covered in a light dusting. It’s weird to see the gorgeous fall leaves covered with snow, but everything melted or blew off today.

6. Planning for the littlest Langr

We’re 15 weeks along with the littlest Langr, and I’m getting into full preparation mode. I know I won’t want to record “Letters to Women” for a while after he/she is born, so this week I reached out to some women I’ve been wanting to interview for a while and got some things lined up!

I can’t wait to share the upcoming month’s episodes with you, but let’s just say that it’ll include a conversation about Advent and Christmas with Sister Miriam James from SOLT, some real talk about beauty with Leah Darrow, and a beautiful conversation about getting out of our comfort zones with my little sister, Mady!

7. Spoiling Wilson

Wilson’s metal liter box just isn’t cutting it, so last weekend, Joseph and I swung by our local farm store and picked him up a new liter box. It’s his third liter box in two months, but no one is counting over here.

The good news is, he likes it! The bad news is that the liter box is smaller than all of his other liter boxes and we have to change it more often. Oh well, we win some, we lose some.

Building Our Baby's Bookshelf

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Some parents get super excited about picking out baby clothes for their little one. Others dive headfirst into decorating the nursery. I, on the other hand, am pumped for building our little baby’s bookshelf.

I know they won’t be able to master words or sentences for years down the road, but I can’t wait to start reading them bedtime stories and building up their little book collection for them. And since his or her little ears are already working, you can bet I’ve started practicing my character voices already.

I’m still looking for the perfect bookshelf to house their little growing collection, but here are a few books I’ve picked up over the past few weeks to get started!

1. “The Word of the Lord: A Child’s First Scripture Verses”

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“The Word of the Lord” is a cute little board book to introduce Scripture into your baby’s life. Edited by Katie Warner and illustrated by the incredibly talented Meg Whalen, “The Word of the Lord” showcases verses from Exodus all the way through Philippians.

The book is the perfect size for tucking into a purse or bag and bringing to adoration or Mass with your littles. Warm colors and adorable illustrations are on every page, and the book is a great way to make the Bible accessible for the littlest person in your family!

I got a sneak peek of the latest book in The Catholic Child’s First Faith Treasury, but you’ll be able to find “The Word of the Lord” soon and add it to your bookshelves! Look for it on the shelves of your local Catholic bookstore, or put in your pre-order over at TAN books.

2. “Cloud of Witnesses: A Child’s First Book of Saints”

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I can’t wait to share another one of Katie Warner’s book with our little when they arrive. Gorgeously illustrated by Meg Whalen with saint pictures accompanied by their famous sayings, “Cloud of Witnesses” is going to be a great way to introduce our baby to some of my favorite saints.

I love how warm and colorful the illustrations are, and the book holds a special place in my heart for featuring one of Joseph and I’s favorite saints, Saint Pope John Paul the Great!

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You can find “Cloud of Witnesses” at your local Catholic bookstore, or online through TAN books!

3. “I Went to Mass, What Did I See?”

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Similar to the beloved “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See”, “I Went to Mass, What Did I See?” helps little people name what they love seeing during the Mass. Another book put together by Katie Warner and Meg Whalen, this book is well on it’s way to becoming a Catholic classic book to place on your bookshelves.

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I love how this books emphasizes the Eucharist and prayer together as a family. You’ll for sure find this book in my future Mass bag. I also appreciated how the book encouraged littles to participate in the Mass.

I got a sneak peek of this book, too. But you’ll soon find it on the shelves of your local Catholic bookstore or you can put in your pre-order online through TAN books!

What were your favorite books as a little kid, or what have been your little’s favorites books? Leave me a note in the comment - I love recommendations for building this baby’s bookshelf!