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February 2016

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A Letter To My Ex-Boyfriends

February 16, 2016

Today, as a happily married woman, I am writing to my ex-boyfriends openly on our blog.

#AWKWARD

You might be thinking, “Why would you ever do that, crazy pants?”

I am currently thinking the same, especially since much of my dating past looks like Taylor Swift’s Blank Space:

‘Cause we’re young and we’re reckless
We’ll take this way too far
It’ll leave you breathless
Or with a nasty scar
Got a long list of ex-lovers
They’ll tell you I’m insane
But I’ve got a blank space, baby
And I’ll write your name

Yup. That about sums it up.

Over the past few years as I’ve seen photos of old flames pop into my social media accounts, it’s left me thinking about what I’d say to those guys if I saw them again someday.

So without further ado, here we go.

Gulp.

Fellas.

You know who you are…and you may or may not ever think of me but I think of you from time to time.

Fear not, this won’t be a burn letter where I reveal all your faults and flaws.

I simply want to tell you three things today: I’m Sorry, Thank You, and I Wish You Well. 

I’ll go into each of those sentiments below.

I’m Sorry

For those of you I dated in High School, you may not know but when I was a freshman in college, I went through a life-changing experience – I encountered Jesus Christ in a real and personal way that radically changed everything about how I live my life.

Yes, when we dated, I was Catholic but I didn’t know how to live that faith in every area of my life, specifically in my relationship with you.

What I’ve learned since that time is that the best relationships, and ultimately marriage, help both parties become the best versions of themselves. To help one another be more giving, kind, loving, patient, and selfless. Essentially more like Christ.

I know that in our relationship I didn’t always help you become a better version of who God created you to be, particularly when it comes to chastity. I took something from you and allowed you to take something from me only intended as blessings for our future spouses.

I see photos of you with your wives (whom I have so much respect for) on Facebook and I just wish I could take back what was ultimately theirs. It hurt to look my husband Jonathan in the eye while engaged and tell him about mistakes I made in past relationships. I’ve gotten to say sorry to him but never to you and your wife, which wasn’t OK with me. Please accept my apologies.

To those of you I dated in College and beyond, though I don’t have chastity regrets, I have others, namely I expected far too much from you. Now that I’m married, I can see that many things I expected from you were premature. No, we didn’t struggle crossing physical boundaries but we soared past appropriate emotional boundaries. I pushed us to be more emotionally involved than was healthy…again taking something from your future vocation and mine. Please accept my apologies.

Thank You

Sure, there were regrets from our relationship but there were also a lot of highlights. You guys helped me realize I love watching basketball, dancing, pulling pranks, praying in the chapel late at night, watching action movies, and eating Indian food to name a few.

We may not have helped one another become better people in all ways but there were certainly parts of my life that improved just by knowing you. I’ve been shaped by family and friends to become the woman I am today but you also played a role in that. You made me a better woman and ultimately a better wife to Jonathan.

In each relationship I learned more about myself and who would be a good match for me in marriage one day. Through dating a wide variety of temperaments and personalities, I learned that humor was vital for me in a marriage because I am freaking high strung. Shocking, right? 🙂

Before meeting Jonathan I was absolutely convinced I needed a man who could make me laugh because in reflecting on all past romances, laughter produced the healthiest relationships I’d been in. The first quality that attracted me to him was his wild and crazy humor, so thank you for helping me discover that need.

I Wish You Well

I doubt the last conversations we had were pleasant. I mean, are breakups ever amazing memories?

Thankfully I have forgotten them by now but however things ended, I sincerely wish you the best in life.

When I see your face pop up on social media, I find myself hoping you’re happy, wherever you may be.

God bless, Amanda

Catholicism

What I Love Most About Lent

February 10, 2016

Ash Wednesday is finally upon us and I am totally pumped up!!

Wait…What?

Who gets psyched for Lent aka the liturgical season of sacrifice, penance, and suffering?

You guessed it.

This girl does! (Amanda, not Adele, just to clarify. She might love Lent too but I’ve never asked her.)

Don’t mistake me for some pious and holy person, let me tell you that’s certainly not the case.

I must admit my melancholic temperament is drawn to the darker and deeper stuff in life such as pain, injustice, suffering, death, and mortality.

Ew, right?

Don’t be deceived by how happy I appear. I may be often smiling but I can assure you I am actually thinking about Sarah Mclachlan dog commercials.

Kidding.

Sort of.

All that to say that sure, I might be more inclined to enjoy the Lenten season, but I think it’s awesome for people of all temperaments.

Here in this post, I want to share with you a few reasons of why I love Lent and why I think you should too.

Intentionality

First, I want to say I absolutely love being Catholic for a host (wink, wink) of reasons but particularly because of the liturgical calendar. 

Weirdo alert again, amirite?

But seriously, it’s amazing that the Church makes sure her children’s spiritual lives don’t get imbalanced by neglecting certain parts of the life of Christ. This is why we have the rotating Mass readings that essentially take us through all of scripture every three years in addition to all the rotating seasons such as Advent, Lent, Ordinary time, Feast Days, etc.

So much wisdom in the liturgical calendar.

My point is that I love how Lent is an annual season set aside to go deeper in reflection on the life and death of Jesus Christ.

It’s easy to hang with joyfully resurrected Jesus but I absolutely need to occassionally remember what he went through to win Heaven for mine and the souls of all mankind. If I don’t deeply enter into the pain he endured and the wounds inflicted upon him, I will miss something in my spiritual life. I will be stunted from growth. I will be disconnected from Christ in a very intimate way I may not even be aware of.

I’m just so darn thankful that the Church gives us this supreme gift of being able to take 40 days to draw closer to Jesus in his suffering and death. Through this intentional time, we’re given the chance to draw closer to him and obtain strength for our own trials in life as we unite those to Christ.

Lenten Sacrifices

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Don’t even get me started on this one.

We live in a world (at least in the USA) that is so convenient. We don’t have to wait on much of anything anymore.

At the drop of a hat you can download a song, watch a YouTube video, Facebook message you friend from around the world, order Jimmy Johns, binge a Netflix series, buy something on Amazon that will show up less than 2 days later, Google any question you might have, etc. Technology has essentially taken away many immediate needs.

We don’t have to wait or give up anything…which means our sacrificial muscles are atrophied severely.

It’s not just a spiritual belief that fasting is actually GOOD for you. We know that ocassional fasting from food actually has health benefits but this principle applies to sacrificing other things too like time spent in front of screens or on the internet among thousands of other things you could temporarily step away from.

Sure, the fasting from foods, activities, and habits is a good thing in and of itself but what’s beneficial about giving things up is that it creates space in your soul and schedule for more prayer and an opportunity to draw closer to Christ, who gave up everything for us. We can unite our desire for coffee, Facebook, and Netflix to Jesus and allow him to draw us into his own sacrificial love.

Again, so much wisdom the Church is inviting her children into.

Spiritual Spring Cleaning

Last but not least, I think there is no other season like Lent that provides the opportunity to do some serious spring cleaning within your soul.

Just try watching The Passion of The Christ without being deeply moved.

Now spend 40 days meditating on and mulling over the passion and death of Our Lord and prepare to get rocked.

When we GET IT and truly realize not only who Jesus was and what he did for us out of love, we can’t help but be changed forever. He paid the price for us and gave us what we didn’t deserve because of our own mistakes. What mercy!

Each Lent is an opportunity to have a deeper conversion. To unite your suffering and pain to Christ, who can redeem everything. To allow the light of God to cast out the dark parts of your life through the Sacrament of Confession. It’s a new beginning every year. A set aside opportunity to heal. It’s truly a beautiful opportunity.

 

Here at True Good & Beautiful we wish you a Lent filled with mercy and grace. May you draw closer to the heart of Jesus, the one who wildly loves you and wants to draw you closer to him these next 40 days!

If you are looking for resources on how to go deeper this Lent, check out Lentsanity. Jonathan is the brain-child behind almost everything you’ll see over there! 🙂

God bless!

Catholicism, The New Evangelization

Essential Lenten Infographics

February 9, 2016

Jonathan here. Six of my Illustrated Guides are part of FOCUS’ Lentsanity Campaign. I designed these to help you have a great Lent. Check ’em out:

ash-thumbThe 10 Types of Ashes You Might Get on Ash Wednesday

fasting-guideAn Illustrated Guide to Lenten Fasting and Abstinence

lectioDo the Lectio 3-Step: A Guide to Praying with Scripture

solemnitiesWhat’s the Difference? A Guide to Solemnities, Feast Days, and Memorials

triduumAn Illustrated Guide to the Triduum

paschal-candleAn Illustrated Guide to The Paschal Candle

If you like those Illustrated Guides, be sure to check out the rest of FOCUS’ Lentsanity and download the Lentsanity App!

Adoption, Parenting

Winding Down Our Nursing Journey

February 3, 2016

Many of you have followed our volatile nursing journey this past year.

We’ve had the highest highs and the lowest lows.

From battling tongue/lip ties in the beginning to multiple nursing strikes and plugged ducts, we’ve nearly seen it all. Through lots of encouragement and medical help, we overcame all our challenges and nursing has been smooth sailing ever since.

Minus that week-long biting episode when she was teething! OUCH!

My little Josephine started out at a wee 7 pound 9 ounces and has grown to a whopping 23 pounds at a year!

But we’re winding (very slowly) things down in our breastfeeding relationship and I want to document that process here for the benefit of others (especially those taking Dom!)

The primary way I induced lactation was by taking a medication called Domperidone, a medication typically prescribed for nausea and vomitting. It elevates prolactin levels, which is the hormone that drives lactation.

I started taking this medication in September 2014 and weaned off of it November 2015, with the hopes of getting my cycle back by January 2016 so we could begin fertility testing and treatment once again. I honestly thought I was going to drop the Dom and my milk would dry up within a few days and that would be the end of it.

Josie caught a cold the week I weaned off Dom and her little nose was crazy stuffed up. This made nursing difficult in general so it wasn’t a shock to me that she began to protest breastfeeding. She would make the sign for “milk” and then I would offer and she would just freak out. Like throw herself onto the floor and roll around while screaming and continuing to make the “milk” sign type of tantrum.

It was ugly.

I thought it must be due to my decreasing supply and I was feeling  very anxious because I didn’t like how our nursing journey was ending. I pumped here and there for comfort and offered every type of milk you can think of in a bottle and sippy cup, all to end up being rejected. I made sure she drank tons of water and had slightly larger meals during the day to make up for the missing calories.

A week later the cold disappeared, Miss Jo signed for milk, I offered and she nursed like nothing had changed. Whew!

I’ve since reduced breastfeeding to 4 times a day, down from 10+ times per day which is very freeing. I need to convince her that she doesn’t need to nurse in the middle of the night anymore but she’s so dang stubborn I haven’t had the energy required!!!

My period returned the first week of January and leading up to it I felt the same old Luetenized Unruptured Follicle (LUF) pain that is my main cause of infertility. So that is back in full throttle, of course. Ugh.

From here on out I plan to keep nursing as long as Jo is interested or until I have to get back on fertility medications that aren’t compatible with breastfeeding. I am more at peace about our journey ending, whenever that day comes. We’ve made it 15 months so far and it’s been one of my greatest accomplishments ever. I will keep treasuring the days we have left!

Thank you to all of you who offered us encouragement! You were my cheerleaders in a difficult time and I will never forget it!