Grateful Heart Link Up // Thanksgiving ReCap

Hello sweet friends. Happy Thanksgiving week!

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading all the beautiful posts about grateful, full hearts. It is inspiring to know how blessed each of us is and reassuring to know how loved we are by the Father. I hope y’all had an amazing time resting and spending time with your family and friends. I know I sure did ūüôā

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Steven and I started off our Thanksgiving at my parent’s house. I am beyond thankful for my hilarious brothers, Sam and Max. They keep me on my toes and I love being their older sister. Max is a Sophomore¬†¬†in High School and Sam is a Junior at West Virginia University.

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… and of course I am thankful for my two amazing parents who worked their butts off to make an awesome meal. Yum! Aren’t they the cutest?

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Then we headed over to Brian and Sheri’s house. Brian is Steven’s older brother. We spent a lot of time cuddling and taking selfies with our sweet nieces whom we love with our whole hearts. Okay, maybe¬†they¬†are the cutest.

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I am mostly thankful for this handsome man that I got to spend Thanksgiving with. Sometimes I should pinch myself, because I cannot believe how blessed I am to have such a thoughtful, caring, and fun man for a husband.

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Friday we did a bit of Black Friday shopping and Saturday we did a bit of Small Business Saturday shopping. My friend Sarah wrote a little bit about Small Business Saturday on her blog. Check it out! In the evening we had dinner at a delicious Mexican restaurant with our friends Nicole and Joe. Then on Sunday we rested and Steven went to¬†the University of Akron Men’s Soccer game. Go Zips! When he came home we wrote a lot (I mean a lot) of wedding thank you notes. I am a thankful wife, because Steven helped write so many of the notes.

I don’t know about y’all, but I cannot believe the weekend is over (and November, too!) I hope everyone has a great first week of December.

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A Grateful Heart with Ember Grey
Linking up with Biana for Weekending and Ember Grey for A Grateful Heart.

#31: Start a family tradition

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We’ve almost made it through the whole month, friends! Can you believe Thanksgiving is this week? Today I am sharing with you how I made it through another of my 101 in 1001 goals.

Steven and I have talked a lot about creating traditions in our first year of marriage. Thanksgiving was a great place to start for us! It is one of my favorite days. I actually have been surprised how much I am coming to love November. It is such a positive, happy, grateful month!

November can get busy quickly and Steven and I knew we wanted to make time for each other. Tonight we are going to a Turkey Bowl and tomorrow we are headed to celebrate with each of our families after the Cleveland Turkey Trot.

When we started to plan our our week, we knew we did not want to be stressed, so we tried to slow down and intentionally plan our week. We wanted to create a special tradition for just the two of us. I went on Pinterest and searched blogs for ideas, but nothing seemed to stick. We are pretty simple people and all the ideas were beautiful, but just not us. You know?

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SO… we bought a little 2 pound chicken, asparagus, and ravioli at the West Side Market¬†in Cleveland and had a little Thanksgiving dinner just the two of us. I enjoyed cooking for my sweet, sweet husband. It was nice to decorate the table and enjoy slowing down to eat together. We had thankful placemats, a tiny pumpkin, our ¬†crucifix from Poland that we held while we said our vows, and our Engaged Encounter candle.

After dinner we made two pies! First we made a pumpkin pie and then we made an apple pie. Someone had gifted us all of the apple pie making supplies as a wedding present, so it was really fun for us to make those together. We are bringing them to the Bacher Thanksgiving meal tomorrow. I’m excited to try the apple one!thanksgiving2

There you have it – our own little tradition. Every year, though we love our families, we want to make sure we take time for ourselves to celebrate together (hopefully with our own kiddos one day!)

Also, I forgot to mention… I had S clean out the inside of the little chicken and cut it up ūüėČ Marriage is about compromise, am I right?

Have a great Thanksgiving, my sweet friends!

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Linking up with To Travel and Beyond, Messy Marriage and Women With Intention Wednesdays.

#20: Lose 15 Pounds

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When Steven proposed, I was at my highest ever weight. I am only 5’2″ so I have to be super careful about what I put into my body. When I moved home from Virginia to Ohio, I wasn’t walking through Radford’s campus as much and my lifestyle became a bit more sedentary. I knew I needed to make a few changes prior to the wedding so that I could feel extra beautiful in my wedding dress and be the best version of myself possible. I am proud to share that I not only lost 15 pounds – I lost 17! I am now at a pleasant¬†135 pounds¬†and I feel more at peace with my health, life, and self confidence level. I also felt stunning in my wedding gown, so all of these little changes were well worth it!

Little Changes

  1. I cut out all processed sugar. Anyone who knows me is well aware of my love for Green Tea Frappuccino, cookies, cupcakes, and Coca Cola. I became better at reading nutrition labels and I paused before picking up a sweet treat from our secretary at work (she has the best stash of chocolates… sigh!) I have slowly started eating sweets again, but I have been impressed at my willpower and a lot of my cravings for sweets have subsided.¬†
  1. I started eating more fruits and vegetables (even KALE!) Steven got a blender for Christmas last year and he started making me smoothies every single day for lunch. Today I had¬†spinach, strawberries, mango, and banana. Yum! Never before in my life would I have thought that would be a delicious combo, but I have been training…er… tricking my taste-buds and drinking the smoothies each day.
  1. I bought a FitBit and challenged myself to walk 7,000 steps a day. I especially loved this goal, because it challenged me to park further away, walk upstairs at work to get copies, mossy around the church during the day, and go to the farthest possible bathroom. These little challenges I played with myself allowed me to be competitive and achieve high goals. Just as an FYI – the daily recommended amount of steps is 10,000, but because of fibromyalgia I have to be careful of overexerting myself and making my pain worse.

Since I do have fibromyalgia, I am unable to do most exercises (especially running or anything high impact), but I went to THREE personal training sessions which taught me healthy exercises I could do on my own that work with my illness and not against it. I left the sessions feeling inspired and uplifted. I also met with my chiropractor, who is a nutritionist, and she supplied me with Calcium, Vitamin D, and a daily multi-vitamin. These have helped me to feel energized and healthy as well.

I wanted to find little ways to change my health and still incorporate an element of fitness, even if that was 7k steps a day and small workouts. I think I found a happy balance! ūüôā I am proud to report that the weight I lost, I have kept off!

My advice would be:

  1. Love yourself.

  2. Ask for wisdom and courage from God to start.

  3. Start anywhere.

  4. Start small.

You, my beloved sister, are beautiful and loved JUST the way you are. You are more than a number on a scale. You are more than your weight loss – or weight gaining – journey. You are a child of God and that comes first before all things. If you are on this weight loss journey, fully rely on God. Allow Him to fill the desires of your heart first. Remember no amount of weight loss will help Him love you more than He does right now at this moment. You are so precious and gorgeous in His eyes (and in mine!) Stay strong, ladies. The temptations are tough out there, but our God is bigger than it all.

“Have patience with all things, But, first of all with yourself.” Saint Francis de Sales

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Holly Barrett

The Weekender Link Up // #PrayForTheWorld

Every night before we head to sleep, Steven and I pray an Ignatian Daily Examen together. We call it the “CPR” prayer.

C – Claim your blessings.

P – Pinpoint victories and losses.

R – Renew commitment to Christ.

In a way, it allows us to pray backwards through the day. We first center ourselves in God’s presence. Sometimes are cuddled up on the couch and other times I have already put on my pj’s and I am tucked in bed with the lights off. We start by reviewing our day with gratitude. We look at where God was present throughout our day with the people we interacted with and the work we accomplished. We look at the small things, like meals together, good conversations, and beauty in nature. God is in the details.

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(Credit: Sarah Renee Studios)

After we review our blessings, which are sometimes many, we pay attention to our emotions. God is in the movements of our emotions through the day. Sometimes we are bored, elated, angry, or sad. We talk about how God has allowed us to have victories and losses throughout those emotions. We also remember how we fell short and sinned, if we had an argument with each other or were a little lazy and unproductive at work. During the time of losses, we also talk about the world. Steven has a much better world view than I do, so he updates me on current events and what is happening around the globe. When I heard about the attacks in Paris, I immediately paused to pray. Steven said that there is something about Paris that makes it much more real. It might be because so many of us have traveled there or had friends there, but regardless of the reason, we had to pinpoint that loss and pray for all those impacted by this tragedy and the other tragedies occurring throughout the world. Our hearts break when members of our human family are hurting.

Finally, we renew our commitment to Christ. We talk about what we are going to do tomorrow for Jesus. I mention what plans I have the next day and how I can incorporate my faith into what I have scheduled. Steven often reflects on how he can say a Divine Mercy Chaplet or listen to Christian music throughout the work day. Our plans are usually not epic, but God is in the small, sweet moments of our day. We please Him by smiling at a co-worker, mentioning how glorious the weather is, or calling a friend who we know is struggling. We joyfully look forward to the next day, knowing that with Christ at our center we can do all things.

There is always something to pray about, there is always something to be grateful for, and each day is filled with both moments of great joy and great sorrow.

The Ignatian Examen comes from Saint Ignatius of Loyola, who encouraged people to talk to Jesus like a friend. This type of prayer resonates well with us, because Jesus is not only our Lord but also our best friend. We are able to ask for help, protection, courage, wisdom, and all those amazing graces we need to thrive each day. When we center ourselves in the spirit of gratitude and view life as a gift, we are able to place our confidence in God knowing that He is walking with us each step of the journey.

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The Weekender Link Party
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#BISsisterhhood Link-Up // Unconditional

 

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A week before our wedding, Steven and I went to Reconciliation. Through the Sacrament, God made us knew creations. We had to admit that we weren’t perfect. We had to bring our shortcomings to failings and our wounds to the Lord. We had to bring them to the light.

We knew we needed to be there. We had burdens in our lives that we needed to get off our hearts. We knew we had a lot of sin to empty before we began our journey as husband and wife.

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(Credit: Sarah Renee Studios)

The Lord’s¬†heart is merciful. It is so hard to remember and grasp this, especially when we feel as if we are falling short. We can feel unworthy of His forgiveness and grace. Our sin breaks the Father’s heart, but our relationship is restored when we run to Him with open arms. Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. His love is relentless, eternal, and¬†unconditional.¬†

When Steven and I are weary, our Heavenly Father allows us to rest in His presence. When Steven and I feel unworthy of love, the Father reminds us we are His masterpiece Рfearfully and wonderfully made. When we cry, the Lord looks to us with His Sacred Heart. When we stray like the prodigal son, our Heavenly Father patiently waits for our return to welcome us home with open arms. When we are tangled up in sin, our Heavenly Father comes right into the mess and meets us in the confessional with an ocean of mercy. 

Before our wedding, Steven and I¬†recognized our need for confession. We are human; we sin. We had to perform an Examination of Conscience in order to look deeply into our lives and see where we have failed to love the Lord, those around us, and ourselves.¬†Then we had to…

Go!

I think this is the hardest part. Even at our retreat a few weekends ago, we had to encourage each other to go. When Steven was nervous, I looked at him and I said, “Go, be a saint!” Those nervous thoughts are from the evil one trying to separate us from the love of God.¬†365 times in Scripture the Lord tells us, ‚ÄúBe not afraid.‚Ä̬†The Lord is ready for you, ready to meet you with His tender unconditional love.

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(Credit: Sarah Renee Studios)

After waiting in line for a few minutes, it was my turn to confess my sins to the priest, who stands in persona Christi capitas et spousa. I love this part of confession. I believe that I am confessing my sins to Christ Himself. After I was finished, I walked out of the confessional feeling light and free. I felt ready to enter into the Sacrament of Marriage, because I had repented for my sins and received absolution. I was ready to do my penance and soak in the graces I had been given in order to fully embrace our marital vows.

I asked Steven what his favorite part of confession was and he said, “I like it’s healing power and the light feeling joyful feeling you get when walking out of there and the smile that is on your face.” What a sweet, true sentiment.

God today, wants you to be an amazing person. He has amazing plans for each of you. Take all of your weight and lay it at the foot of the cross. You do not have to do it on your own. If you’re nervous about confession, remember those thoughts are not from our Heavenly Father. He does not work through fear. He works through compassion and grace.

“Everything I am, everything I long to be, I lay it down at Your feet.”
Matt Maher, Lay it Down

Want to find a Reconciliation time near you? Check out Mass Times or Catholics Come Home to find a nearby parish.

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Linking up with¬†Blessed Is¬†She¬†to talk about the theme “Unconditional”

Show and Tell Link-Up // Labre Project

Today I am linking up with Andrea on her ‘Show and Tell Tuesdays’ series! Today’s topic is: A service project or mission trip you have been a part of. This topic is very near and dear to my heart. In college I was a participant and leader in the Labre Project, a ministry at John Carroll University. My very first week as a student at John Carroll, a dear friend invited me and I was ruined for life – as the Jesuit motto goes to say. The Labre Project shares food, faith, and friendship with homeless men and women living in Cleveland.

The Labre Project started with a few students from Saint Ignatius High School, a Jesuit college preparatory school in Cleveland. A few students set out in a van with food they had left over from a school event. These students went into the streets of Cleveland and offered food to homeless individuals they saw sleeping on the streets, alleys, and sidewalks. What was beautiful is that they enjoyed it so much, they went out the next Sunday, and the next, and continued to go out every Sunday since.

The ministry name comes from Saint Benedict Joseph Labre, the patron saint of homeless people. The Labre Project was brought to John Carroll University by a group of Saint Ignatius alumni in 2004. The project has continued since 2004 and continues to grow and thrive to this day – never missing a week.

The purpose of Labre was never to feed the homeless. It was always about friendship… and the warm meal was a great bonus. The friendships I created through the Labre Project were mutually beneficial. My walls were broken down, I was pushed far out of my comfort zone, and I had the chance to see the face of God in every single individual I met. The individuals I met would look forward to seeing me and if I was absent would say, “where is Mary this week?” Trust me, it was rare for me to miss a Friday. I just loved it so very much.

Every Friday, students from John Carroll met at 3 PM to prepare food for the evening. The food came from the Cleveland Food Bank. We would also pack up bins filled with toiletries, socks, clothes, shoes, etc. to hand out throughout the course of the evening. My junior and senior year I served as the donations leader and coordinated our messy, messy donations room. After the food was prepared and the bins were packed, there was a brief prayer reflection in the chapel on campus which prepared our hearts and centered us on the true reason for our ministry, which was far beyond earning service hours. At the end of the evening, we would return and pray BY NAME each person we met. I say by name, because these individuals were children of God and naming them reminded us of their dignity as members of our one human family.

What would a typical night look like? 

After prepping and praying, two vans would leave from John Carroll. One van would travel to the East side of Cleveland one to the West. We would visit individuals of all walks of life living in a variety of circumstances. Most individuals we met in hidden places, while others were more public. Some lived along train tracks. A few lived in low-income housing. Most of our friends we saw every.single.week. They knew where to meet us and would wait for our arrival. Others we would see walking along the road or resting and we would stop by to offer them a warm meal and a brief chat, asking how their week was going and if we could bring anything for them in the coming week.

When I graduated from John Carroll in 2012, leaving my friends from Labre was the hardest part of graduating. I moved to Virginia and felt empty without visiting my homeless brothers and sisters each week. I would often sit in my apartment on Friday evenings and think about where the van would be and who they would be visiting. I prayed for them by name and continue to do so on a regular basis. Although I may not see them any more, my friends will always hold a deep place in my heart from their influence, compassion, and witness of perseverance in the face of difficulty.

Join me in the Saint Benedict Joseph Labre Prayer. Let us pray that all individuals without homes may be granted the dignity and worth they are due as children of our great and loving God. Let us pray for all those who are unemployed, underemployed, periodically or permanently homeless. We pray for those unable to afford rent, for children living out of cars, and for all those without access to daily food and water. We also pray for those who live the corporal works of mercy by feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, and clothing the naked. May their ministry be powerfully blessed.

“Saint Benedict Joseph Labre, you gave up honor, money, and home for love of Jesus. Help us to set our hearts on Jesus and not on the things of this world. You lived in obscurity among the poor in the streets. Enable us to see Jesus in our poor brothers and sisters and not judge by appearances. Make us realize that in helping them we are helping Jesus. Show us how to befriend them and not pass them by.

Saint Benedict Joseph Labre, you had a great love for prayer. Obtain for us the grace of persevering prayer, especially adoration of Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament.

Saint Benedict Joseph Labre, poor in the eyes of men but rich in the eyes of God, pray for us.”

Amen

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#THECIRCLELINKUP // Thankful Poem

As a new blogger, I have been on the search of some beautiful link-ups to join in with. So far my life has been truly blessed by the link-ups I have found, and I am confident this one with be no different! Today I am joining in with In Its TimeWhat Joy is Mine and Radical Femininity to share my THANKFUL acrostic poem!

T – Teamwork

It takes a village to raise a child, am I right? I take my role as a Youth Minister very seriously. I see each child as a beautiful daughter or son of the Lord and strive every day to pray for them and remind them how loved they are. It takes a whole lot of teamwork with parents, Core Staff members, priests, peers, and parishioners to help my teens on their journey to Heaven. I am thankful to have so many saintly people helping me on this youth ministry journey.

H – Holiness

I see holiness all around me. I see it in my coworkers, my friends, and my family. I am walking this journey to sainthood with individuals who are put God first in their daily lives and that holiness inspires and uplifts me each and every day.

A – Affirmation

I am thankful for the gift of affirmation. I am a HUGE fan of The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. In his book, he explains how each of us gives and receives love in unique ways. There are five categories of love languages: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch. I receive love through words of affirmation. After last weekends retreat, I loved hearing how much teens enjoyed the weekend. I appreciated the thank you notes from parents, the sweet text messages from teens, and the email from the retreat center thanking us for being so kind and respectful. For me, receiving words of affirmation conveys love in such a simple, beautiful way.

N – Nourishment 

I am thankful for the nourishment that comes from the Word of God and from the Holy Eucharist we receive at Sunday Mass (and weekday Mass, too!) I have become a big fan of reading the Blessed is She Devotions each morning. Reading the daily scriptures, then reading the reflections of holy women leaves me centered and ready to begin my day.

K – Knowledge 

Our semester theme for Life Teen was vocations. Each Sunday night we learned about a different topic: marriage, holy orders, discernment, and single life (to name a few). I am thankful for the knowledgable individuals who came to guest speak. I could not have done it without holy friends who offered their time and energy to help my teens grow closer to the Lord.

F – Forgiveness 

YES! How could I not mention this? I am thankful to my Lord for forgiving me through the Sacrament of Reconciliation and I am thankful to my husband for forgiving me when I am short with him or struggling to understand where he is coming from. We all need mercy and forgiveness in our lives.

U – Unity

I am thankful for the unity of being husband and wife. Steven loves sports and athletics, while I really enjoying blogging and journaling. Although we have differences, we come together as a unified front to support each other 100%. Our time apart exploring our own interests allows us to grow as faithful individuals. Steven uses his time running and cycling to pray and admire the beauty of God in nature, while I find God through reading amazing blog posts and pouring my heart into my little journal. When we come together, we are more unified and stronger Christians.

L – Laughter

Working with teens = constant laughter. Last night at youth ministry our topic was discernment. We had the teens separate into two groups – boys and girls – and had them come up with lists of the big and little decisions they make each day. The girls immediately said, “flats or boots.” ha! Seriously, though… I ask myself that every fall morning. Spending time with my young friends means constant laughter and joy!

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#BISsisterhhood Link-Up // Remembrance

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I went on my first Life Teen Retreat as a young freshman in high school. That weekend was the start of my love for the Life Teen movement. Their motto “leading teens closer to Christ” is at the heart of the mission I have been called to today. Leading teens to our Lord is near and dear to my heart, because I was a teen who was led closer to Christ and invited into a deeply personal relationship with Him.

Since that weekend, the Lord has moved and shaped my heart in ways only He is capable of. I still remember pieces of my freshman retreat with great clarity, like the moment I opened my first ever affirmation letter bag with a special note from my mom. I remember my Youth Minister making me feel loved, treasured, and cared for while still being super goofy and relatable. I long to echo the love he showed me. The Lord has entrusted amazing teens to my personal care and I long for them to know their great worth and dignity as children of God.

Last weekend¬†was my 3rd Life Teen Retreat as the Youth Minister at Saint Hilary and boy was it blessed. Now that I have caught up on some Zzz’s and drank a a significant amount of tea, I feel prepped to reflect.

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(3 Saint Hilary Retreats with this handsome man! In the first photo he was my boyfriend, in the second my fiance, and in the third my husband!) 

Retreats are my favorite part of my job. I love them, because God shows up in such a big way every.single.time. My team and I plan and pray for months. We practice talks, choose ice breakers, and discern which activities. When we arrive, though, God takes over and makes it all happen. The Holy Spirit just moves and touches hearts. There is laughter and there are lots of tears. Students share pieces of their hearts with each other and they feel completely safe and loved by their peers, the Core Staff, and most importantly by our Heavenly Father. There is something about being away from social media and real life that gives the teens peace and perspective and allows them to love and be loved. I can’t help but feel close to God during retreat weekends.

Last weekend my teens and I traveled to Loyola Retreat House. It is beautiful there!

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Our theme was “Who am I?” and we dove head first into showing the teens they are¬†good enough, despite what they might hear from their teachers, friends, coaches, and parents. The standards we feel like we have to live up to are too high.¬†We reminded them they are worth more than the view society has of them, because they are beloved children of the loving Father.

What matters is how He views us! God doesn’t see the flaws we see! We are made in His image and likeness. I witnessed the teens start to believe these messages. Wow… And that’s why I love retreats.

Last weekend I saw hearts expand through small group discussions. I witnessed teens be forgiven through the sacrament of reconciliation. I saw teens lay down their lives in adoration. Every moment the Holy Spirit was hard at work and the fruit was so beautiful.

Here is the leadership team that made this weekend possible.

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… and here are our lovely ladies! ladies

Our handsome gentlemen lookin’ good!

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We LOVE to be goofy ūüėČ

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Oh, God let the blessings flow this past weekend and my heart is full of joy and gratitude. To God be the glory forever and ever. Amen!

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Linking up with Blessed Is She and Simple Moments Stick to talk about Remembrance.

#Marriage Link Up // Feet Washing Ceremony

Today I am linking up with Messy Marriage, To Love, Honor and Vacuum, and To Travel and Beyond to talk about our feet washing ceremony.

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When Steven and I were planning our wedding reception, we knew we wanted to add our own Catholic touches. Something we had always admired was couples who added a feet washing ceremony to their reception. We immediately wanted to follow in their footsteps, so to speak.

“If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.” (John 13: 14-15)

For us, a feet washing ceremony was a sign of being humble, thoughtful, and willing to serve each other. We had a pitcher with just a little water in it, a bowl, and a towel. I went first. I sat in a chair and Steven helped take my shoes off (which, I have to admit was nice after wearing 4 inch heels all day). He gently washed my feet. Then we switched. Sometimes only the bride has her feet washed, but we knew we both wanted to serve each other.

Washing my husband’s feet was a sign of love and honor for him, my new spouse. Kneeling before him showed my great love for him and placed me in a position of prayer and humility. When he washed my feet, I felt an overwhelming sense of love from both Steven and from the Father. I felt that I would never have to “go it alone” again. I also felt humble, knowing that I was being served and allowing my husband to help me.

The entire ceremony was beautiful. We wanted to follow the example of Christ. Was it a bit awkward? Yes. But it boosted our commitment to each other and was a gentle reminder of how loved I am by husband and by my Lord.

A side note: We had a song picked out to play during the ceremony (Love Never Fails by Brandon Heath), but our DJ missed the memo and did not play the song. At first we felt funny since it was so quiet and since we specially chose that song, but afterwards many, many of our friends came up to us and complimented us on how silent the room was (seriously, you could hear a pin drop). It meant the world that our friends and family were so supportive. My eyes are tearing up just remembering how many compliments we received throughout the night.

“Love is the river than flows through.¬†Love is the arms that are holding you.¬†Love is the place you will fly to.¬†Love never fails you.” Brandon Health

feet washing

(Credit: Sarah Renee Studios)

I am thankful we chose to do this ceremony. I am also thankful our photographer captured this beautiful moment for us to treasure forever and remember our daily call to lay down our lives for one another.

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To Travel and Beyond
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Monday‚Äôs Musings Link-Up // Future Husband Letters

Today I’m linking up with What Joy is Mine to share about writing letters to my future husband.


In the 7th grade I began to pray for my future husband by starting a journal filled with love letters. I found such great value in writing these letters, because I was able to honor my future spouse and pour my prayers into our marriage before we even met. It was always my prayer that he would feel loved by these letters, knowing that I waited fully for him, prayed for him, and sacrificed for him.

When I wrote, I would imagine how much he would love cracking open the journal and seeing the pages of my heart poured out right in front of him. I knew some letters would make him laugh, while others would make him cry. I would dream about what we could do for the Lord together and what our marriage would look like centered on Christ.

The journal kept me accountable to the Lord by saving my heart for my husband. I shared what I was looking forward to doing with him, what I wanted to accomplish in life together, and many prayers for his spiritual growth and our relationship. I also shared favorite quotes from the Bible or books I was reading at the time.

The letters show snapshots of where I was in life, sharing moments of great joy and great sorrow. Over the years, the journal began to fill with my hopes, dreams, fears, and deepest secrets. As it progressed, especially when I met Steven, I saw a longing to lay down my life for another. I shared those emotions through my writing to him.

I wrote frequently and shared the deepest desires of my heart. I did not hold anything back. I wrote about my weaknesses, my successes, and areas where I needed prayers. I had such a deep longing to pray for the one person that God set aside for me. Whether I was called to marry another human being or whether I was called to marry the Church through the vows of religious life, I wanted to grow in virtue and holiness by praying for my future spouse and vocation.

I told myself I would give the journal to my husband-to-be on our wedding day, if I was called to marriage. My dream came true. On our wedding day, I had my maid of honor deliver this special journal to my groom.

Future Husband Letters

(Credit: Sarah Renee Studios)

The journal now resides on his dresser and he reads a few letters at a time. There are hundreds, so he is working through them slowly. I love getting a glimpse of what page he is on and re-reading the letters when he leaves the book open.

Writing letters to him was such a treasure. I am thankful and blessed I started this collection way back when and I am confident all of those prayers I said as a teenager will bless our marriage.

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