Monthly Archives

February 2014

Infertility, Marriage

Keeping it Real

February 25, 2014

Recently I stumbled across a post from another gal in the infertility blog realm. The entire post, while seemingly sad and discouraging to some, was a breath of fresh air for me.

So often, I feel like I have to “keep it together” with this whole infertility thing. Or that I have to appear like I am handling things well. That I have to bear my cross perfectly and just like saints I’ve read about. Well, I’m not a saint (yet…God can work miracles) and I more or less suck at carrying this cross 99.9% of the time. In this post, I feel the need to just be real for my sake and others. I don’t want to give others the perception that I am a Rock star in carrying this cross or that I am weathering the storm with perfect grace. This is the real glimpse.

I stole a few lines from The Road Home blog because she so succinctly summed up certain emotions/thoughts. So here is me “keeping it real” on infertility:

Infertility sucks.

It attacks everything I am – as a woman, as a wife, in my femininity, in my ability to use my mothering gifts, as a daughter, as a sister. Every. single. thing. is tainted and attacked because my body is broken. It doesn’t work.

I am jealous and devastated over pregnancy announcements…most of which come from brides married seventeen seconds or longer.

I am mad that Sunday Mass is torture for me. Seeing all the happy families and hearing the noises of kids around me is like a constant reminder of what I can’t have.

I have anger, deep-rooted-want-to-yell anger, lots of times, but especially when there is an intention at Mass for “mothers”. When is the last time you heard a prayer for infertile couples?

I see pregnant teenagers and I wonder why God lets them get pregnant and not me.

I see Catholic families having their 7th, 8th, 12th kids…and feel anger that the “rich get richer and the poor get poorer” in some strange fertility economics game I make up.

I see couples who contracepted for years get pregnant easy-peasy and wonder why God grants them their desires so quickly when they abused (often unknowingly or unintentionally) the gift of their sexuality with contraception. We’ve always been open to life, trusting our sexuality to the Lord, and he chooses to stay at a distance and refrain from blessing us with life.

I spend hours crying myself to sleep – asking God “why”. I never ever asked God “why” any other time in my life and I am sad that I am now. I am also sad that I don’t get answers.

I wake up in the middle of the night and forget about infertility for a few moments in a groggy sleep-like state. Then reality smacks me. We don’t have kiddos in the next room. I am not pregnant. I likely will never be pregnant.  I try to go back to sleep as quick as possible so I can escape this depressing reality at least until the morning alarm goes off.

I have moments of insight, moments of reprieve, moments of clarity and understanding, but they don’t last – and they are always replaced with deeper questions, deeper fears. It is the largest onion to be peeled in the world.

I don’t want to be a spiritual mother – I want to be a physical mother. I thank God he allows me to be a spiritual mother but it’s just not the same.

I love adoption and want to pursue it. I am pissed off that it costs $25,000 and involves months of extremely tedious work and other women get pregnant for free without even meaning to sometimes.

I don’t want to have to explain why one does not, in fact, “just adopt.”

I don’t want people to feel sorry for me – or not know what to say to me – or feel like they have to walk on eggshells around me – or talk about me behind my back.

I don’t want to avoid pregnant women.

I don’t want to be the older, wiser, infertile sage.

I don’t want to feel awkward talking to moms.

I don’t want to resent moms who can’t seem to talk about anything but their children.

I don’t want to resent people that don’t “get” infertility and say extremely stupid, hurtful things.

I don’t want to have regular public panic attacks at work when I find out that another couple is expecting….a couple married yet again for seventeen seconds.

I don’t want to ponder how our marriage is fruitful in other ways.

I don’t want to think about working full-time next year. 3 years into marriage, I was NOT supposed to be working full-time. I don’t want to be SO available for work.

I don’t want to feel judged by people who know we are looking at buying a 4-5 bedroom home this Spring. No, I have no freaking clue how it will get filled. I don’t want to consider that it might not be full someday.

I don’t want to dig deep into Church teaching and documents to answer questions about a marriage that is childless being fruitful, and full sacramental.

I feel invisible. Alone. Left behind. Useless.

I feel in my heart that God hates us even though I know in my head he absolutely doesn’t.

I don’t want to have to take 15+ pills per day everyday.

I don’t want to have to pay $3-4,000 per year on medical expenses to treat infertility that never work.

I don’t want to ship my blood across the country every month. Or all the other rigmarole stuff infertility requires me to do.

I don’t want to have to wear a St. Gerard medal, pray a 54-day rosary novena, bless myself with Lourdes holy water, beg a litany of saints for miracles, etc. to even have a chance at pregnancy. I want to simply get pregnant the normal way without crazy amounts of loops spiritually, medically, and physically to jump through.

I don’t want to be such a Negative Nancy. I want to be my happy self.

I want to be holy and I feel like infertility is a way in which I could be made holy but I keep blowing it and destroying any spiritual growth that could be found.

I want God to take away my desires to be a mother so this cross doesn’t hurt so bad. Why would he give me desires he doesn’t want to fulfill?

OK – that is probably enough. I’ve probably scandalized 99% of you but oh well. Now you know I am not perfect. That I question things deeply. That this cross isn’t just some small trial I am casually passing through on my path towards holiness.

It is real.

With all this said – “We are an Easter people and hallelujah is our song.” Blessed JPII

This cross won’t win. I will taste the resurrection. I don’t know when or how but I know firmly I will. Hope refuses to be snuffed out in my heart and soul. By His grace I putter onward each day. At times, I teeter dangerously close to the edge of despair but have yet to fall over that cliff and don’t believe Jesus will let me. Through prayer and the Sacraments He will ward off despair from gripping me for good.

For those going through this gauntlet too – I am sorry. I am here for you and would love to hold one another up in the battle. For those not going through this but caring for people who are – pray and be grateful. Please pray (for REAL and not just one of those “I’ll pray for you” passerby comments you don’t really mean)  for couples going through this. And be crazy grateful for your health and kiddos. Yes, you have other crosses and I won’t deny that but hopefully the above glimpse will give you ideas of how to pray for an infertile couple.

Money

7 Paths to Financial Freedom in 2014

February 20, 2014

Many of you enjoyed the last post on 7 Ways to Go Broke in 2014. Or now you are mad at me for exposing that your habitual behavior will actually lead to your financial destruction over time. Sorry, not sorry. I wanted to follow up with that post by diving into what you can do to begin a path towards financial peace this upcoming year. We want everyone to experience this blessing.

How do you get started though? Below are 7 Paths to Financial Peace:

1. Acknowledge the problem in the mirror.

dog in mirror

Anytime I can work in a dog photo, I am happy.

“I’m Starting With The Man In The Mirror I’m Asking Him To Change His Ways And No Message Could Have Been Any Clearer If You Wanna Make The World A Better Place (If You Wanna Make The World A Better Place) Take A Look At Yourself, And Then Make A Change…..” Michael Jackson

The first step in changing anything let alone your financial world, is to stop and ackowledge the problem: You. Personal finance is 20% head knowledge and 80% behavior. If you aren’t experiencing financial freedom, you gotta look at you and your behavior first. Therein you will find your problem. Owning that is the first step towards any healthy changes to come.

2. Attend Financial Peace University – FPU

fpuThis past Fall Jonathan and I coordinated our very first Financial Peace University class. It was awesome!!!

We had a group of about 35 people who met once a week for 9 weeks. In that time we watched videos, reviewed our budgets, had great discussions, and held one another accountable. This class is completely worth signing up for! Visit this website to find a class beginning near you today. And no, we didn’t get paid to host the class or to endorse it in any way whatsoever.

3. Read The Total Money Makeover

tmmmoIf you haven’t read this book…you need to. Get it here today. Super easy read with lots of inspiring stories to motivate along the way!

4. Begin walking through the 7 Baby Steps

baby stepsRemember Doctor Leo Marvin from “What about Bob?” Possibly the world’s most hilarious movie. Well, his Baby Steps book has absolutely zero to do with the Baby Steps I am referring to.

Dave Ramsey’s materials will walk you through the 7 Baby Steps on the journey towards Financial Freedom. Walking up these steps is a lot of fun and are incredibly motivating.

5. Embrace the budgeting process.

YNAB

 

The very first thing to do after you assess your financial situation and get a grasp on how much money you have and or owe is to set up a monthly budget and begin implementing the budget process. Why do you need a budget? Visit this blog post for a few reasons. Now, do you have to use software like You Need A Budget (YNAB)? No but we have chosen to utilize that tool and have completely fallen in love with it. Pen and paper, envelopes, budgeting apps, etc. are perfectly fine but you need SOMETHING to help you implement your budgets once you create them.

6. Learn how to say “No.”

no cat

 

This is pretty self explanatory. There will undoubtedly be 1,000 opportunities, desires, temptations, reasons, etc. to NOT follow your budget, attend FPU, read the Total Money Makeover, etc. Matthew Kelly once said, “If you can’t say no, your yes means nothing.” Or maybe he said, “You can’t say no unless you have a deeper yes.” One of those…but both are good and true. You will not haphazardly improve any area of your life. Saying “no” to lots of things that come up and “yes” to intentional decisions that will aide you in your goals will be vital to changing your life.

7. Live like no one else.

live like no one else

 

“Live like no one else so later you can live and give like no one else.” Dave Ramsey

Jonathan and I didn’t sell our Nintendo, eat rice and beans, tell friends no, or sleep on a donated RV mattress for nothing. We lived like no one else so we could live and give like no one else. We’ve already begun to see the effects of this in our life and are pumped to see many more ways down the road.

There you have it folks. PLEASE keep in touch with me if you begin implementing any of these! I would love to be your cheerleader, coach, accountability partner, etc. Whatever you need me to be, I will be it! 🙂

Marriage

5 Ways eMeals Will Help You in 2014!

February 17, 2014



I am really proud to be part of the eMeals.com blogger network! It’s a lot of fun to get to be “part” of a company that I really believe in and find useful! Trust me, if I didn’t love something, it wouldn’t make it onto this blog and I wouldn’t spend my time or energy promoting it.

Many of you remember this blog post introducing eMeals.com on this blog. I still wholeheartedly stand behind everything I wrote then and everything I write today. Without further ado, here are 5 ways I know eMeals will help you in 2014:

1. Keep you Healthy

Do you have a particular eating plan you are attempting to follow? Gluten-free, Paleo, Organic, Clean Eating, Low-Fat, etc? Well, eMeals has a plan for you. And guess what? If you aren’t buying junk, you never end up eating junk. If you tell eMeals you want the Paleo menu…processed junk won’t even make it to grocery list, keeping you safe and on track with your health plan.

2. Predictable budget

I am consistently surprised at how darn consistent eMeals is. Jonathan and I subscribe to the plan for two adults, which usually allows enough for leftovers occassionaly. So buying groceries for 5 dinners a week, with some leftovers, we typically spend between $75/week. We switch our plans every few months and find the Paleo one (meat in every meal) is more expensive than others but not by that much. We could get that lower by purchasing lower quality ingredients but hey, we are debt free now! We ate like no one else so now we get to eat like no one else!

3. Grow in you culinary skills

Have you ever braised something? Cooked with leeks? Bought a haricot vert? I know I had NOT done any of those things prior to eMeals. There was a learning curve to start but now I love cooking with lots of ingredients. It made me realize how narrow my menus truly were prior to eMeals. I bought the same items at the grocery store for years on end and this led to monotony and fear to try new things in the kitchen. Now I trust that eMeals won’t let me down and if it’s telling me to saute parsnips and shallots, not only will I learn some new skills, but I will also enjoy new delicious tastes.

4. Save time and energy

I work full time. We have one car. I dislike wasting time or wandering around stores without a very specific purpose. Meal planning and grocery shopping used to exhaust me…which is probably why I bought the same stuff over and over again for years. Now, I know that eMeals will think for me, organize my shopping list according to aisles, and give me step by step instructions for how to prepare the meals. Fool proof, really, and I don’t have to be in charge of one more thing around the house.

5. Consistently tasty recipes

Look at what eMeals sent me in preperation for Valentine’s Day:

emeals

Are you drooling yet? All of those, even the healthier options, sound AMAZING. Check out a sample dinner menu:

emeals 2

Again, don’t those sound AMAZING? Well, I cook them on a regular basis and they are! I am not someone that typically cooks a dish and then gets compliments. I have other strengths and I am OK with that. With eMeals though, it’s like my shortcomings are set aside since a real chef made the recipe up and all I have to do is follow directions and it ends up tasting awesome. I can hardly take credit for it!

Head on over to eMeals.com to check out what they’ve got to offer you.

15% Off Your Order at eMeals.com with Bonus Comfort Foods Brochure! Use code Dinner15

Marriage, Money

7 Ways to Go Broke in 2014

February 16, 2014

It’s still pretty early in the 2014 year and many of you likely have a slew of New Year’s resolutions you are still working on. Or have already abandoned. Or never actually started.

Perhaps some of those goals were financial goals for 2014. If you want to go broke in 2014, check out the following things to do this year:

keep-calm-you-deserve-it

1. Embrace the “I deserve this” mentality.

This type of marketing has been forced upon us in the past decade or so. It invokes a spirit of entitlement within us. We did something really hard (big week of exams, received a promotion, woke up super early every day for a week, cleaned the house, etc.) so we deserve to reward ourselves with a manicure, Starbucks, an outfit, steak dinner, etc.

I could sit here and write an entire blog post on why we don’t deserve to reward ourselves anytime we work hard…but I will refrain from that soap box for now. This reward almost always has a price tag associated with it and can drain you financially when you aren’t planning for them…especially if this is a habitual exercise.

joneses

2. Keep up with the Joneses.

We all know the Joneses. They get married and buy a gorgeous house. Then they park a brand new SUV in the driveway. They’re always going on vacation to Mexico or Europe. They’re wearing the latest trends and buying the newest technology on the market. They eat at the best restaurants in town and go to the coolest sporting events or shows on a regular basis. Surely they don’t have financial worries, right?

Wrong. Check out this article. 70% of families are living paycheck to paycheck. What you don’t know about the Joneses is that the average credit card debt for the American family is $15, 270!!!! Debt is typically the favorite tool of choice for the Joneses lifestyle. What appears to be success is actually a negative net worth. The Joneses are broke. Follow them and you will be too.

money out window

3. Never budget.

Money comes in…money goes out….who knows what happened to it?!?! This is the typical American family and is a sure-fire way to end up broke, desperate, and stupid. Check out this post for why you need a budget. But if you are trying to go broke, don’t read it or implement its advice.

impulse

4. Walk into stores without a plan.

Walk into Costco, Target, Pottery Barn, Walmart, Ann Taylor Loft, Best Buy, etc. without a game plan on what you are looking for or how much you have to spend.

You will likely end up walking around, discovering needs you didn’t know you had before you walked in, and walk out having spend a coupe hundred buckaroos. Do this a couple of times a week or even a month and all your extra cash will be gone before you blink.

creditcards

5. Put things on a credit card or payment plan.

If you want to win with money, you need to take “payment plans” off the table. Successful people don’t finance their couches. Or their bedroom furniture. Or their cars. If you have to put it on a payment plan, you can’t afford it. As the old saying goes, “Broke people ask, ‘How much per month?’ and rich people ask, ‘How much?’”

advice

7. Take advice from broke family and friends.

Everyone has people in their family or friend circle who are always ready to give bad financial advice (finance this house or car, buy this whole-life insurance policy, pre-pay your funeral costs, learn how to flip houses with 0% down and using credit, etc). Follow every bit of that advice and you will most likely end up in a hot broke mess by the end of 2014.

How do you determine good and bad financial advice? Look at the fruits in that person’s life. Are they themselves up to their eyeballs in debt? RUN and don’t listen to anything they have to say unless you want to end up just like them. Are they debt-free, living below their means, experiencing financial peace because they are intentional with their finances? Pull up a chair and listen.

tortoise

Remember the tortoise and the hare? If you want to go broke, follow the financial hares in your life and ignore the financial tortoises. We all know who ends up winning in the end, so if you are trying to go broke, you know who to listen to. 

enslaved

8. Embrace debt as a lifestyle.

If you decide in 2014 that you just can’t live the lifestyle you want to be at without debt…you will surely end up broke. This mentality is what credit card companies want you to believe. That you can’t live without them. You can’t live life at the level you want to without their “help.” That you will always have debt and you better just accept it sooner than later so you stop worrying about it. Once you start thinking about being on minimum payments for the rest of your life, you have embraced debt and will go broke soon.

OK, you’re all set to get out there and go broke in 2014! In case that isn’t what you were looking for, tune back later this week and I will blog about what to do if you want financial freedom in 2014! 🙂

Mission

FOCUS Greek Getaway Highlights

February 14, 2014

This past month has been pretty intense. The FOCUS Greek Getaways were two amazing events I had the privilege of planning and directing alongside other incredible FOCUS staff members. You may be asking, what are the Greek Getaways?

PROMO

Guess who the graphic designer was? The one and only, Jonathan Teixeira.

The Getaways were a new concept for FOCUS Greek…think of the blending of a full-out conference and a weekend retreat. We had speakers, adventure, beauty in nature, games, small group discussions, mass, adoration, confession, time to play and relax. It was all centered on Jesus. In the Rockies, we had over 80 in attendance and in the Smokies we had over 50 in attendance. Below are some highlights!

Epic speed rock, paper, scissors tournament!

Epic speed rock, paper, scissors tournament!

Throw what you know! Taken at the Rattlesnake Summit in Ridgecrest, NC.

Throw what you know! Taken at the Rattlesnake Summit in Ridgecrest, NC.

The Rockies crew in Winter Park, CO

The Rockies crew in Winter Park, CO

smokies group

The Smokies crew in Ridgecrest, NC

Small group discussions

Small group discussions

In the Rockies, our group had the option to go skiing at Winter Park. It was a blast! I went down a run that had moguls…and it was evident that I need more practice by the giant wipeout that ensued! I didn’t mind since I like to push and challenge myself to take it one level further every time I ski, so I guess it was just my learning activity that day! In the Smokies, we went hiking and it was a gorgeous day. Great conversations and beautiful views at the Summit! Having the adventure opportunities on these weekends was a hit with students and staff.

Jesus has been so good to me throughout these Getaways. Sometimes, in battling infertility, I resent my work since two and half years into marriage I was supposed to be at home with a kid(s). I hate when I get trapped in that place. Jesus has totally brought grace into my life and allowed me to see that my life is still fruitful. I am not sterile. I am bearing good fruit…not the fruit I thought I would bear but fruit nonetheless. In some weird way, the college students I work tirelessly for are like “my kids” even though they are all adults. No, I don’t try to mother them in a creepy way but spiritually I do get to mother them and lead them to encounter Christ more deeply. I’ve seen Jesus work in their lives, bring them to know him, allow them to surrender unto his will. Infertility allows me the freedom to serve in that way, so no, it’s not all bad despite how I think so negatively at times. I am grateful to have this new perspective and hoping God will keep it fresh in my heart daily.

Thank you to all the staff who made these events possible. Thank you to the students who went out on a limb and attended. Lastly, thank you to Jonathan for bearing with me and supporting me with patience during this busy season.