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!

8 Ways to Prepare for a No-Stress Advent Season

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Did anyone else take a quick peek at the liturgical calendar and realize Advent is less than a month away, then promptly start freaking out? Surely I can’t be the only one.

Although it’s meant to be a season of preparing our hearts, minds, and homes for a little baby born in Bethlehem, Advent tends to end up being a season of stress instead of calm preparation. The holiday to-do list grows longer and longer by the day, and before we know it, we’ll be lighting that first purple candle.

Take a deep breath, friend. We’ve got this.

If “Advent” is synonymous to “nervous” and “anxious,” here are eight things you can start doing now to prepare and calm your heart for the upcoming liturgical season. You’re not alone - I’m incorporating these things into my life, too!

1. Realize you don’t have to have a Pinterest-perfect Advent

If you type “liturgical living” into Pinterest, you’ll be flooded with Advent inspiration. But if you’re like me, you’ll also be flooded with the realization that no many how many things you pin, there’s no way you’re going to become that crafty in the next thirty days (or a lifetime, for me at least).

You don’t have to have the perfect Advent calendar, tradition, Jesse tree, wreath, or devotions to celebrate Advent. You just have to show up and let yourself be seen by the baby Jesus who wants to make a home in your imperfect heart. It’s not going to look perfect. That’s okay.

2. Create an Advent play list

Yes, songs like “Here comes Santa Claus” and “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer” are cute and fun (and admittingly annoying after hearing it for the 45th time on the radio). However, there’s not much of an Advent theme going on in those Christmas songs.

So, take time right now to create an Advent playlist on your favorite music listening device. I loved Life Teen’s playlist from last year, but this year I’m going out on a (Christmas tree) limb and making my own. Feel free to drop your favorite Advent tunes in the comments and I’ll add them in (and share with you all later in the Advent season!)

3. Plan out your prayer time

We all know what happens to those Advent journals. Some years we’re on top of it, and other times we make it to Christmas lucky to have written in half of the pages.

So now, while things are still calm before the holiday season starts up, pencil in time in your calendar for a daily prayer schedule. This doesn’t mean that you have to block of hours and hours for meditation or Scripture reading. Start with fifteen minutes during your lunch break or over breakfast coffee and build from there.

But don’t feel like you have to wait until lighting that first purple candle to start that prayer time! Kick it off now, while things are quiet, so that it’s already a habit by the time Advent rolls around!

4. Take the focus off of you

When I prepare for liturgical seasons, especially Christmas, it’s easy to get caught up thinking about myself. I want to make sure I have things all set up, and that I’m on top of my holiday schedule. A lot of times I find myself wanting to prove to everyone else and their Instagram followers that I have it all together - which couldn’t be further from the truth.

As an antidote, spend this time leading up to the holidays (and time in the holiday season, too!) taking the focus off yourself and focusing on others. Christmas offers such a beautiful opportunity for radical generosity and love. We’re preparing our hearts for God, who gave his only Son for us. It doesn’t get more generous than that.

Whether it’s volunteering locally or leaving room in the margins of your day to really encounter others, start shifting your focus off of yourself (and the things of Christmas) and onto the people around you.

5. Get outside

I live in Kansas, and the fall trees are so gorgeous right now. Last weekend, Joseph and I went on a leaf watching adventure and found the most vibrant trees in our city. But we’ll blink and all of those leaves will be on the ground. Then we’ll blink again and we’ll be scraping ice of our car windows and shoveling snow (not looking forward to that, if you can’t tell).

When I get stressed, I tend to stop moving. I sit inside my house, not wanting to leave or do anything. Don’t let preparation for Christmas paralyze you. Between now and December, make time to intentionally get outside and enjoy the current season of Fall. And if you’re in a place where Christmas means beach visits and BBQ, I’m jealous. You enjoy that!

6. Adjust your expectations

Think this Christmas season will go off without a hitch? The bad news is, something will more than likely go wrong. The turkey won’t make it, the cousins will be late, and there’s a good chance that you’ll forget something and remember after it’s too late.

That’s okay.

Instead of expecting the perfect, Instagram-worthy Advent and Christmas season, begin adjusting your expectations to focus more on the real reason we spend weeks preparing our homes for the birth of Christ - it’s not because he expects expensive gifts or a Pinterest Christmas tree. He wants our hearts.

7. Pull the Advent wreath out of storage (or pick one up)

If there’s one thing that I learned from working at a Catholic book and gift store, it’s that Advent candles fly of the shelves fast. But that’s not why you should bring up the Advent wreath from the basement or head out to snag one.

The candles are meant to remind us that Christ comes into our life and lights up the darkness. The greenery is meant to be a reminder that there’s something that lasts longer than the Christmas stockings and lights - we’re meant for the eternal.

Advent may be a month away, but it’s never too early to remind ourselves about the importance of this upcoming solemnity and celebration. However, there is such a thing as playing Christmas music too early, but that’s a whole other blog post.

Plus, this way you won’t be making a midnight run for Advent wreath candles come December 1st. We’ve all been there. That’s no fun.

8. Find a confession line

Nothing makes my heart happier than seeing long lines at the confessional during Advent and Lent. No, I’m not kidding. I know it can be tough to stand in line for longer than you expected, especially if you’re juggling little kids and busy schedules. But there are so many souls reconciling with Jesus and his body on earth and it makes my heart so. happy.

But, that being said, it’s never too early to start preparing your heart for the baby Jesus. It’s hard to make a baby comfy in a heart that’s stifled in sin. So don’t wait for Advent to hit up the confessional, make confession a habit between now and Christmas (and beyond!).

Confession make you squirmy? Me, too. In fact, I have to drag myself to confession regardless of the liturgical season. But what I’ve found is the more often I go, the less I hate going. And let’s be honest, I need all of the grace I can get in the sometimes-craziness of the Christmas season!

7 QT 61: Halloween, Galas, and Vitamins

It’s Friday, Friday, gotta get down on Friday! This week has been full of celebrations, community, and lots of good food. This weekend, Joseph and I are headed to our parish’s annual fundraising gala and going home for a family dinner.

But before we get all fancy, here’s our latest adventures from this past week!

1. Dunkin’ Donuts alternatives

I’m pretty sure everyone at Dunkin’ thinks I died (or moved away). I used to be a three-times-a-week regular and now I only show my face there when I’m craving glazed donuts, which is rare these days.

However, I still needed a place to work from during the week so I didn’t become a little vampire introvert in my basement, typing away on my computer. But it had to be a place that didn’t smell like coffee. Enter Panera.

It’s not usually busy in the afternoon, they have some great tea options, and it smells like bread. What more could a pregnant woman want?

But hey, on a coffee related note, I had my first cup of coffee in three months last weekend! Joseph and I hit the road for a trip back home and a Quick Trip frozen coffee sounded amazing. I was worried that I would be disappointed when I had it in my hands, but it. was. amazing.

However, I haven’t gotten back into the hot coffee swing of things, and that’s okay.

2. All the vitamins

Last week, I gave up on trying to be an adult about taking vitamins. I was gagging on my prenatal vitamins, and the aftertaste was leaving me wishing I was closer to the bathroom. So I asked Joseph to make a Walgreens run and he returned with a huge bottle of gummy prenatal vitamins. Because I’m a child, er, with child.

It’s like candy. Which is dangerous, I know. Don’t worry, I stick to the two vitamin a day recommendation. But holy smokes, it’s so nice not to dread taking vitamins at the end of the day.

3. He’s a quarter of a century

Joseph turned 25 this past week and we had so much fun celebrating with Indian food and a trip to a local board game bar for a night of games. It’s crazy to think just three years ago I was celebrating his birthday with him for the first time!

Tonight some friends are coming over for a sort-of-surprise party. Joseph knows it’s happening, but hasn’t figured out all the guests yet. I can’t give away too many details, since he’s a dedicated reader of 7 Quick Takes Fridays, but I’ll fill you in on all the details next week.

4. Well, Halloween, I tried

It’s no secret that I’m an introvert. I hate answering my door if I don’t know who’s on the other side. It would have been super easy Wednesday night to put a bowl of candy on the front porch and hide in the basement. Or, let’s be honest, to close the curtains and take the chocolate with me to the basement.

But we’re called to be generous and welcoming to the stranger at our door, and Halloween is a perfect time to practice loving the littlest of our neighbors (and get out of my comfort zone).

So I left the curtains open and sat upstairs Halloween night.

No one showed up.

Now this pregnant lady has a whole bowl of chocolate in her kitchen tempting her. If you want chocolate, hit me up.

5. Getting fancy

This weekend, our parish is holding their annual grand gala fundraiser. Joseph and I bought our tickets a couple of weeks ago and are pumped to get fancy and support Holy Spirit. I’m trying to figure out which one of my “cocktail attire” dresses is still going to fit this little baby bump.

On another note, their auctioning off a puppy this year, and I’m going to have to sit on my hands during the bidding. I don’t think Wilson would appreciate the company, and I can’t juggle a new baby and a puppy. But it’s going to be tempting, not going to lie.

6. Taco Tuesday on a Friday (and everyday next week)

We’re bumping into week 14 (WHAT!) this week with our littlest Langr. This week, the baby is the size of a taco, which blows my mind. I constantly have to remind myself to stop thinking that this is what it would look like if I swallowed a taco whole. That’s not how pregnancy works.

Since the baby is now the size of one of my favorite meals, which I also can’t think too much about, that means that every night is Taco Tuesday night for the Langr house, right? No?

7. Mama Mia!

Last night I got together with some girlfriends for our musical movie night. Joseph isn’t a big fan of musicals, and I love watching new ones, so I get my musical fix with the girls about once a month. This time was my pick, and since I’ve never seen Mama Mia, I thought it’d be the perfect time to discover it.

Unfortunately, the musical commits a lot of cinema sins. It turns out the plot line of the musical is kind of janky. The singing is so-so, but those songs? Those are going to be in my mind for the rest of the . . . month. Mama Mia! How could I resist?

5 Tips for (Finally!) Writing the Book You Dream About

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I’ve always wanted to write a book, but I didn’t want to just write a book for the sake of seeing my name in print. Instead, I wanted to wait for a project that jived with my values as a writer and was on a subject I was passionate about.

Beautifully, I found that book project last Fall and have been working on the project since then. The final product won’t hit the shelves ‘til next Fall, but writing this book is on my mind everyday.

I’ve learned a lot in the process so far, and I know I’ll continue to learn. But eleven months into the process, here are five tips I wish I would have known when I took this project on!

1. Set aside time specifically for the book project

When I started this project, I figured I would just fit writing a book into my regular schedule. You know, just slide it in there casual like. The problem was, it was always easy for me to pick any other project to work on besides the book.

It wasn’t that I didn’t want to write the book, it was just that it was hard to concentrate when all the other projects I’m working on are demanding my time. Even though my deadline isn’t until next Spring, I knew I needed to get booking (pun intended) in order to finish the book project.

Now, once a week I head down to my local Panera, grab a medium drink (which was free today thanks to MyPanera!), and get to writing. The whole place smells like bread, and there’s nothing like carbs to motivate me.

Want to finally start writing your project, or get around to finishing the project that you started who-knows-how long ago? Start by booking an appointment in your calendar with yourself and your book project. Turn of your phone, log off social media, and get cracking!

2. Look for a great editor

Before I started as a freelance writer, I didn’t take criticism well. Instead of listening to the critique and accepting or rejecting it, I would take criticism as a personal insult.

Now, almost five years into the freelance writing gig, I’ve got some pretty tough skin. But if I know anything after these years, it’s that there’s always room to improve when it comes to my writing. So when I looked into writing a book, I knew I wanted to find a great editor.

Book editors provide an outside perspective to the project. They aren’t emotionally bound to that chapter title like you are, and they’re looking out for your good and the good of the future reader.

I send drafts of each section of the book to my editor and I love hearing what she thinks. Granted, I’m still working on not spending the days between sending her a copy and getting her edits back worried that I won’t have to start the whole section over. But even if I have to scrap a whole section, I know she’d have my best interest at heart.

3. Set your own mini-deadlines

Like I said, my final version of this book isn’t due to the editors until next Spring. But if I only had the March deadline in mind, I’d struggle.

Instead, I set miniature deadlines for myself. Each week, I set a deadline for getting a certain amount of writing down. Each month, I have another miniature deadline. All of these deadlines have that big March deadline in mind.

Do you want to finish your book in the next year? Set up miniature deadlines along the way to keep yourself accountable.

4. Be patient with everything (but most importantly yourself)

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your book won’t be either. Unless your a super rock star writer and can churn out hundreds of thousands of words in a few hours, it’s going to take some time to birth this dream into fruition.

You’re going to run into seasons of writers block. You’re going to wonder if it’s worth it. You’ll probably adjust your vision for your book multiple times along the way. That’s okay.

Be patient with the process, but most of all, be patient with yourself. Writing a book is not small potatoes! You’re doing something hard here, but, as Saint Catherine of Siena once said, “Nothing great is ever achieved without much enduring.”

5. Get used to change

When I first started this project, it looked completely different than it does now. And you know what? The current book draft probably won’t look anything like the final draft. This has been a process that’s involved a lot of change.

Your project may seem more like a changing chameleon than a book at some times. That’s okay! Keep your main vision in mind and be open to the actual project shifting and changing a little (or a lot!).

Are you writing a book now, or thinking about starting the journey? Tell me your favorite book writing hacks in the comments!

Now I’ve got to get back to writing this book instead of writing about writing a book!

The Wedding Bowl: How an Old Family Tradition Is Helping My Marriage

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Two days before our wedding (almost two years ago!), Joseph and I opened one of our first wedding gifts. It was a bowl from Joseph’s Aunt Kathleen and Uncle Joel.

The bowl was made of sturdy glass with orange, red and yellow flecks throughout. But it wasn’t until we opened up the letter that came with the gift that we realized that this was more than just a bowl to fill with salad or put away in a cupboard.

Click over to Aleteia to read about how the wedding bowl tradition came to be!

Answering "Is This Your First?" After Miscarriage

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When it comes to describing how excited Joseph and I are to witness this new little life growing inside of me, I fall short of words. It’s been such a beautiful, awe-inspiring journey to watch this little baby grow from the size of a chia seed to the size of a lime, with their own unique set of fingerprints and sweet beating heart.

I’ve treasured every little beat of their heart that we’ve heard in the doctors office, and their tiny sonogram pictures are proudly displayed throughout the house and office. It’s been such a blessing to see and hear this little life growing. What a joy to be entrusted with this sweet soul.

I knew that any pregnancy after miscarriage brings it’s own unique set of trials and thoughts to process. But the one thing I hadn’t prepared for in this pregnancy are the seemingly innocent questions that make my heart drop when they’re asked.

“Is this your first?”

“Will this be the first grandchild for your parents?”

“Are your sisters and brothers excited to be aunts and uncles?”

What I want to say is no, this baby is not our first. Joseph and I are getting ready to celebrate two years of marriage, and our anniversary always reminds me of our sweet honeymoon baby who we only knew for a few, short weeks. A baby who we named months before we thought we’d have to, and a baby who now intercedes for his family here on earth from up in Heaven.

I want to share with them the ups and downs of secondary infertility and negative pregnancy tests, and the journey of surrendering our family over to a good, good, Father who shows up and keeps his promises.

But, most of the times, I can’t bring myself to share that story. I’m hesitant to share that piece of my heart in conversation, especially if the person asking is in line at the grocery store or behind me in the pew at Mass.

So I’ll smile and nod, saying “It’s our first here,” remembering Marion and asking him to pray for me. I tell people that our families are excited for this baby and praying for them, reminding myself that I know Marion’s story and I remember it.

This sweet baby is our second. The second little soul that God entrusted to us. And while only one of these little babies can be seen this side of Heaven, I have a heart bursting with love for two littles that have changed my life so radically.

One of them I can’t wait to, God-willing, snuggle up with close in May. The other, I know, helped form me into the mama I am today, and continues to pull for us in Heaven.

Marion, pray for us.

7 QT 60: Fall, Book clubs, and Chick-Fil-A Sauce

Happy Friday, everyone! It’s been a week full of adventures for the Langrs, so here’s a quick peek at what we’ve been up to since last Friday’s quick takes:

1. Football Sunday

While I don’t understand all the sports rules about football, I love settling in to watch a game on a chilly fall day. And it doesn’t hurt that our local team, the KC Chiefs, are 5-0. Joseph and I turned the game on Sunday afternoon after Mass and lunch and we had a blast spending some quality time together watching our team bring home another win.

I may or may not have slept through the entire 2nd quarter. But I woke up in time to see the end of the game, so that’s what matters.

2. Homemade Chick-Fil-A

Over the weekend, Joseph and I decided to get some good use out of our grill. We had some leftover chicken breasts in the fridge, so we seasoned them up and threw them on the grill. When deciding on our dipping sauce, Joseph suggested something like Chick-Fil-A sauce.

After looking at a few copy-cat recipes, I decided on this one. Guys, it was delicious. A little too much BBQ sauce to make it an exact copy of the beloved sauce itself, but pretty dang close.

3. All the fall

Our local Aldi has been transformed into a fall Heaven. Fall smelling candles line the fun aisle, while caramel apples and Halloween candies beckon from the end caps.

We were pretty good about not busting the budget over all the souvenirs from my favorite season of the year, but ended up with caramel, apples, and apple cider in our cart.

I’m just proud of myself for not buying the $10 bag of all chocolate mini candy bars and eating them all before the week was through. I can’ t help it, this baby has a sweet tooth!

4. Bumping into week 11

Our little baby keeps growing! He or she’s little bones are beginning to harden, all the organs are in place, and now he or she can open and close their tiny little fists. The size of a fig, our baby update e-mail said that their sweet little movements look like a tiny little water ballet performance.

If only we could feel that water ballet show. But that time will come soon enough! Also, this week, hiccups are starting - so maybe we’ll feel those before the kicks!

In other pregnancy news, I’ve also heard it’s a good idea to avoid eggnog during the holiday season, so Christmas just won’t be the same this year.

5. Binge reading books

Jules from Mystery through Manners Podcast is doing incredible work with her new podcast. She's currently released 4 episodes about Catholic fiction and we were talking via e-mail about recording podcasts as Catholics.

In her series, she interviews women from Well-Read Mom, an organization I'd never heard of. So, after I finished listening to a few podcast episodes and heard the organization mentioned, I checked it out.

Out of curiosity (and as a mama trying to navigate this new season), I checked if there was a group near me. There was. They're actually meeting less than 5 minutes away from me, and their first meeting is next week.

So, I'll be spending the next week binge reading "An American Childhood" (thank you Amazon prime) and heading to the first meeting of a book club that I didn't know existed until this afternoon.

Social media gets a bad rap. We complain about how it disconnects us and robs us of real community and friendship. But I just wanted to share this story as a reminder that social media can also be used for some beautifully good things. It can be the springboard for new community with neighbors and give you an excuse to read (not that I needed one of those).

Now go listen to Mystery through Manners Podcast. I'm telling you, it's worth every second.

6. Last wedding of the season

Tomorrow, Joseph and I are attending the wedding of our friend Joe Heschmeyer (my co-host of The Catholic Podcast!). It’s our last wedding of the 2018 year, so expect some memorable Langr wedding selfies next week!

All of my little siblings are also attending the wedding, so I’m sure they’ll be co-staring in our selfie adventures.

7. Wilson’s new litter box

Joseph and I went on a late night run to Target last week to pick up a few things. While there, we perused the kitchen section to see if anything would work as a litter box for Wilson. We were looking for something a little more solid than the plastic box he’s chewed through in the past few weeks.

We settled on a shallow metal box, which Wilson has sort of adjusted to here at the house. He’s found that he can’t chew through it, which frustrated him. He spent the evening glaring at us. Since then, he’s pushed the new box over into the opposite corner of his cage and refuses to push it back. But he’s pooping in it, so that’s the important part, right?

3 Prayers to Pray When Discerning a Family

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After Joseph and I said “I do,” it was easy to think that our season of discernment was over. After all, we’d discerned our vocation together, made a decision, and were settling into married life. But it turned out that discernment was just getting started.

Too often, we think about discernment only on a vocational level. We ask people if they’re discerning a vocation to religious life, or if their dating relationship is leading to marriage discernment. But every time Joseph and I have made a life-impacting decision, it’s been something we’ve tried to discern with each other and with God.

But discernment is tough.

We’ve thought and prayed through job decisions, housing decisions, and other situations that have impacted us as a family. One season of discernment we recently experienced was discerning when to add another little life into our family.

Discerning littles can be tough - especially if your story includes experiences like miscarriage, infertility, or infant loss. There were seasons where we desired a little person, but infertility stood in the way. Fear of losing another sweet baby and parenting two little saints was something we worked through as well.

Here are three prayers that Joseph and I prayed while discerning our family together this year that helped unite our hearts to the heart of the Lord:

1. Lord, help us desire children in the way that you desire them for our family

God has a plan for our family. Sometimes it doesn’t always line up with our family plan, though. I never imagined that parenting a saint was part of the plan. If you’d left it up to me, infertility wouldn’t have been in the picture at all. But God allowed both of those experiences in our lives for a purpose.

When it came time to discern bringing another little person into our family, it was easy for Joseph and I to share with each other what we both desired. It was another thing altogether to discern what the Lord desired for our family. But, just like Joseph and I listened to each other’s dreams and hopes, we were reminded to turn to God and listen in prayer for his voice.

One important part of our discernment process was surrendering our plans for our family and asking God to make our hearts burn with the same desires for our family as his heart burned.

We didn’t experience an immediate wild fire of clear desire for our family, but rather witnessed the Lord slowly fan the flames of our hearts so that we could be on the same page as him.

2. Lord, unite us in this discernment

Discernment shouldn’t be something that divides you as a couple.

It’s tempting to pray that your spouse just gets on the same page as you with discernment. Maybe you’re passionate about adopting a child, but your spouse is hesitant. Praying that God would just change their minds won’t unite you as a couple, though.

Instead, what Joseph and I found incredibly unitive for our marriage was to pray that God would make of us of one heart and mind in the discernment process. We didn’t start out on the same page, but slowly, the Lord started working on both of our hearts.

We said "no" to certain opportunities for our family, and "yes" to others. But we decided together as a team, and those decisions were a lot easier thanks to grace.

3. Lord, help me abide in this season of discernment with a spirit of contentment

“Abide in me, as I abide in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in me,” Christ says in John’s Gospel. I remember sitting in adoration one night, wrestling over discerning our family. Nothing seemed to be working like I had planned, and God wasn’t making himself obviously evident about what to do next.

That’s when I sat down and read through that passage in John. Christ encouraged me to abide in him. After all, apart from his grace I wouldn’t be able to do anything. But if I chose to abide in him, then my marriage would bear fruit.

First I had to realize that fruit from marriage doesn’t automatically equal babies. When Joseph and I experienced a season of secondary infertility, littles weren’t in the picture.

But that didn’t mean our marriage wasn’t fruitful.

We invested in friends, ministry opportunities, and each other.

Then, when the timing was right, this little person growing inside of me made their entrance into our lives and hearts.

There were times during our experience with infertility that it felt like it would stretch on forever - and for some couples, it does.

But regardless of your fertility, the number of littles God has blessed you with here or in Heaven, or where you’re at in the discernment process of bringing new life into your family, he invites you to abide in him.

Be content to wait at his feet, soaking up his goodness. Be receptive to loving him for who he is, not just the gifts he gives.

Because there, in that season of abiding, is where you’ll encounter a God who desires to make your marriage fruitful in the most perfect way for you as a couple and as a family.

How to Embrace Spiritual Motherhood Whether You Have Kids or Not

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The world needs spiritual mothers just as much as it needs biological mothers. But what is spiritual motherhood, and how can you live it out in all seasons of your life - whether your own littles call you “mom” or you live out your motherhood in different ways?

Head over to Aleteia to check out six, practical ways that you can embrace your spiritual maternity whether you have little people of your own or not!

7 QT 59: Ax throwing, chai tea, and grill masters

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Wow, it’s been one heck of a few weeks! Morning sickness has left me behind on so many things, and one of them has been 7 Quick Takes. Here’s a peek back at the past few weeks at the Langr casa and the adventures we’ve been on lately!

1. Grill masters

Joseph has been on the lookout for a little grill for our patio. Two weeks ago, I saw one on a Facebook marketplace post and we were able to snag it for $15! We had a grill christening two weekends ago with Joseph’s parents and grilled brats, hamburgers, and (my favorite!) some veggie packets. We’re really pleased with how everything turned out!

Joseph did so much work to clean the grill up - it looked like this when we picked it up, but now it’s shiny and gorgeous (sorry for no #TransformationThursday, er, Friday, pictures. I was too busy chowing down on brats to grab a picture).

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2. Getting our ax on

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One of our friends is headed out of town, so we headed down to our local ax throwing lanes for a goodbye party.

Yep, that’s right. Ax throwing. Apparently it’s a thing. If you didn’t know, don’t worry. I just found out about it last week.

The lanes were set up like bowling lanes, but with axes instead of bowling balls.

I wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought I would be - I was able to get the ax to stick in the wall quite a few times and even hit a bulls-eye once or twice.

I don’t think I’ll be taking up ax throwing as a hobby anytime soon, but if you’re looking for a fun date night idea, this is highly recommended!

3. Ah, Chai tea

Coffee still smells like garbage to this 10-weeks pregnant mama, so I’ve been hunting high and low for an alternative. Granted, I could just drink way more water. But don’t try to reason with a (former) avid coffee drinker.

This week I sat down with a friend for a meeting and ordered an iced chai tea latte. HOLY. SMOKES. FRIENDS. It’s so good. After our meeting, I promptly scooted over to our local Hy-Vee and bought a box of chai tea. I’m drinking a warm cup now, and have a mason jar of chilled chai tea in the fridge for a homemade latte later this weekend.

One day, coffee may taste good again, I’m told. But until then, I’ll be over here obsessing over chai tea. Sorry, coffee.

4. Fall flowers

Joseph came home early from work this week with a little potted mum plant for me. Isn’t it adorable! I’ve been eyeing mums as my fall flowers for the house, and now this little guy joins our plant family.

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“I’m going to try not to kill it”, says the woman who has given up on her outdoor plants for now. It’s okay, little mum. You’ll be staying inside.

5. Just call me superwoman

Wednesday I had a burst of energy - which is pretty unusual for this pregnant woman. I took advantage of it and cleaned the house, started a load of laundry, registered to vote (thank you name and address change for making that one tough), wrote a few blogs, and showered for the first time in a few days. I ended the evening with eating my entire dinner serving and snagging some time with a friend.

I never thought I’d appreciate energy so much as I do now. Or a clean bathroom. That one I really appreciate. It’s always nice when the bathroom you’re throwing up in doesn’t make you want to throw up even more because of it’s dingy state.

6. If we didn’t take a selfie, did you really get married?

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Our wedding season is drawing to a close (just one more left this year for the Langrs!) but we’re going out with a bang.

What is the “font mechanical room”? We don’t know. Why is there a giant red, glowing spot on my face? I don’t have the answer to that one, either. But I do know that we had such a great time at the wedding and it was wonderful to catch up with friends from college and from our time here in Kansas City.

Congratulations, Sean and Sarah!

7. Wilson, stop chewing

Wilson would like to share that his latest hobby is completely destroying his liter box. When we first adopted Wilson, his liter box had a few bite marks, but we figured it was because he was nervous. Nope, turns out he’s a professional liter box chewer and he’s working his way through the entire box this week. We’re going to have to make a Walmart run and gift him a new box.

Maybe this is just his way of telling us he’d like us to do some interior design work in his cage? He’s got our attention, that’s for sure.

It’s not for lack of toys or entertainment, either. He’s well stocked with chew-able things in his area, he would just rather chew his liter box. Okay, bud, do your thing.

6 Marriage Lessons That Saints Louis and Zelie Martin Taught Me

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When it comes to friendship with the saints, it can be challenging to pick a favorite. After all, they’re all holy men and women, offering unique stories on their path to Heaven.

If I had to pick my favorites, Edith Stein, John Paul the Great, Maria Goretti, and Theresa of Avila are some of the friends I turn to regularly. I want to be a great saint, and I love surrounding myself with witnesses who encourage me along that journey.

But when I chatted with people about their favorite saint, one beautiful lady kept popping up in conversation and I wasn’t sure how I felt about that. For the longest time, I couldn’t stand Saint Therese of Lisieux.

Wow, that’s sounds harsh.

Maybe it was her neatness. Her gentle smile seemed to find me in every chapel that I went to – a stray holy card there, a statue here, a constant presence of roses.

She was the epitome of humility, while I struggled with my biggest vice of pride. She was tidy and calm and I was wrestling internally and externally the definition of chaos.

Therese’s Story of a Soul was easy to read. She communicated through evident signs, like roses. My life was all over the place and I struggled to organize anything.

But, I gradually realized that Therese had a lot of lessons to teach me about humility and the little way.

It wasn’t until Joseph and I lost our son, Marion, to a miscarriage that I discovered Therese’s saintly parents, Louis and Zelie Martin. Their marriage became a source of inspiration for me as I started into my own vocation with Joseph. The Martins taught me about suffering, joy, and living life together.

Here are six marriage lessons that Louis and Zelie have taught me so far - I hope you enjoy getting to know this gem of a couple!

1. Listen to God’s voice

Before Louis and Zelie met each other, both had discerned a call to religious life. Because he could not master the Latin language, Louis was rejected by the Augustinian Great Saint Bernard Monastery. Zelie also pursued a call to the Sisters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul, but due to respiratory difficulties and reoccurring headaches, she was also rejected.

In April 1858, Louis and Zelie passed each other on a bridge over the Sarthe River. When she noticed Louis, a young man in his mid-thirties, Zelie heard an interior voice telling her “This is the one I’ve prepared for you.”

Louis’ mother was in a lace-making class with Zelie, and she later introduced the two. They courted for 3 months before their wedding.

2. Love and suffering go hand in hand

Suffering was no stranger to the Martin home. Although Louis and Zelie had nine children together, four of the children did not live past childhood. Two of their sons, Marie-Joseph-Louis and Marie-Joseph-Jean-Baptiste, passed away before their first birthday. Both of their daughters died in 1870. Marie Helen died when she was five years old. Finally, Marie Melanie Therese died when she was just seven weeks old after being neglected by her wet-nurse.

After Therese was born, Zelie was diagnosed with breast cancer. Five weeks before her death, Zelie penned a letter begging God for “if not for a cure, then for perfect abandonment to the will of God.”

Zelie’s funeral was held in the same basilica where she and Louis had said their wedding vows.

Twelve years after Zelie’s death, Louis suffered two paralyzing strokes, which were followed by cerebral arteriosclerosis. He was hospitalized for three years in a mental health asylum in Caen. Louis returned home to Lisieux, where two of his daughters took care of him before his death in 1894.

3. Strive for holiness in your vocation

After their deaths, Louis and Zelie were both recommended for sainthood, but their causes were separate. Then, in 1971, Blessed Pope Paul VI recognized that their marriage was at the center of their holy lives together. He united the causes into one. In 1994, Saint Pope John Paul the Great declared the couple blessed.

Two miracles were needed for the canonization of the couple, and both involved the miraculous healing of babies. In 2002, Pietro Schiliro was healed from lung trouble. He would go on to attend the couple’s canonization Mass. Carmen Perez Bons, a little baby girl born in Spain, was healed thanks to the saintly couple’s intercession in 2008.

It was incredible reading about the miracles attributed to the Martins. I thought it was beautiful to see their love of families and children influence everything - even the miracles that they worked after their death here on earth.

4. Community is crucially important

Louis was a member of a group of men called “The Catholic Club”. They met regularly under the direction of Father Hurel, the priest who witnessed the vows of Zelie and Louis! The men supported one another in charitable work and regularly met for prayer and worship in the chapel at Notre Dame de Lorette.

Afterward, they would go play billiards together (a game that Louis was a pro at!).

Meanwhile, Zelie kept up regular correspondence via letters with the women in her life.

It can be easy to let community fall by the wayside after marriage. Louis and Zelie offer a beautiful example of the necessity of friendship and community in marriage.

5. Choose what works best for your family

Before they’d met each other, Zelie and Louis were both skilled creators. Louis ran a watch making business, and Zelie created lace. Zelie’s business was so successful that she employed 15 women, all of whom worked from their own home.

The success of Zelie’s lace making business encouraged Louis to quit his job as a watchmaker, a business that he sold to his nephew. Louis took over the business end of Zelie’s lace-making shop. They each set up a desk in the living room of their home.

I loved reading about the Martin’s business together. It wasn’t common then (and still isn’t too common these days!) for the man of the house to sell his business in favor of his wife’s endeavors. Although it was traditional, the Martins chose the path that worked the best for their family.

6. Pray together

Every night, the family gathered around a statue of Mary to pray together.

In 1883, Therese fell ill after her sister, Pauline, left for the convent. Although Marie took Pauline’s place, the separation caused Therese to become ill. At age ten, she was in grave danger. Her sisters began to pray over her bed together, and one suggested to bring in the statue of Mary that they prayed in front of every night into Therese’s bedroom.

While the sisters continued to pray, the statue came alive and smiled at Therese, curing her. The statue is now referred to as “Our Lady Smiles”

When she was eleven, Therese made her first communicants. Together with her class, she consecrated herself to the Blessed Mother. The Martin’s devotion to Mary and to a steady prayer life inspired Therese all throughout her life.

The Martin’s five living daughters all went on to pursue a vocation to religious life, inspired by the holiness of their parents and their prayer life together.

7QT 58: Growing babies and Wilson snuggles

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

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

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

2. Langr wedding selfies

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

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

3. Growing, growing, growing

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

4. Young, married, and social

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

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

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5. Speak(er) up

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

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

6. Maybe I work better under pressure

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

7. Cuddling Wilson

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

Overcoming Fear in Pregnancy After Loss

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus, I trust in you

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

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

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

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

Treasure every moment

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

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

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

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

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

Be Not Afraid

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be not afraid.

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

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

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


7QT 57: Babies, Brunches, and Bunnies

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

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

 

1. Something sweet is brewing!

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

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

 

2. Coffee? No thank you

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

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

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

 

3. DIY car projects

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

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

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

 

4. Brunching and munching

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

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

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

 

5. Up, up and away?

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

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

 

6. Langr wedding selfies

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

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

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

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

 

7. Time for Wilson's close up

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

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

4 Ways to Discern a Family with Your Spouse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Writing a book is hard

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

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

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

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

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

 

2. Pour-overs are saving my life right now

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

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

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

 

3. Dunkin Donuts Mystery Solver

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

6. Go bods!

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

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

 

7. Wilson is . . . well, Wilson

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