The Grad

After a year and a half of hard work, Craig graduated with his MBA from Wesleyan.  Yay!  I am so proud of him for setting this goal and accomplishing it.  He balanced our family life and school so well.  I know he not only did this for himself, but for our family.  He believed in himself and persevered through some challenges along the way.

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Craig’s last day of class in grad school!

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Prior to receiving his diploma and getting hooded.

A video of Craig getting hooded and receiving his diploma!

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The graduate!

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The graduate with the future graduate

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Craig’s office bought him this delicious cake as a congratulations!

Adoration

A couple weeks ago, on Holy Thursday, Bishop Conley wrote a pastoral letter on adoration of the Eucharist.  It was a beautiful letter and the perfect day to write it as we commemorated the Institution of the Eucharist.  Here is an excerpt from the letter that I especially loved:

“Fathers who pray with their children have children who grow up to pray. Children look to their fathers as models of discipleship, and are more likely to grow in loving relationship with God if they see their fathers as men of prayer. Fathers who take their children to adoration model humble discipleship to their families, and form them for lifelong discipleship.

Mothers who take time to visit the Blessed Sacrament in adoration are renewed for the daily challenge of their vocation. Motherhood requires patience, peace, and serenity which surpasses understanding. Christ, present in the Eucharist, is the source of love for mothers, who are asked to love ceaselessly, and without counting the cost.

Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament prepares families for mission. Parents have a responsibility to form their children to be merciful, charitable missionary disciples. All families have a sacred call to be a source of apostolic joy in the world, to witness to Christ, and to proclaim him together, with intentionality and enthusiasm. But God calls each family to a particular kind of work or apostolate, and each family must discern how they are uniquely called to bring the Gospel into the world. That discernment begins with families in prayer, in the presence of the Eucharist, asking the Lord to guide them in the mission of the Gospel, and asking him to equip them for mission.

Husbands and wives who kneel together in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, especially with their children, find their family love renewed by Christ’s love, so that they can pour their joy into the evangelization of the world, in the unique and important way God calls them.”

http://www.lincolndiocese.org/lovemadevisible

Last week, I was listening to the Go Forth Podcast.  During the episode I was listening to, the guests were discussing how they started 24 hour perpetual adoration at their parish.

On Sunday, Divine Mercy Sunday, Msgr. Barr spoke after Mass inviting everyone to sign up for the holy hour.

After these 3 instances in a little more than a week, Craig and I felt like maybe God was inviting us to do sign up for a holy hour for our family at our parish.  We got the sign-up and are praying about which day and what time would work best for our family to do this.  Discerning this has made me reflect a lot on my Dad.

Ever since I was little, and probably since they registered to be parishioners at Cathedral, my Dad has had a holy hour on Thursday nights at 10:00.  He has remained faithful to it.  I remember even when Christmas Eve or Christmas was on a Thursday, we would maybe have to leave early so he could be home on time to go to his holy hour.  Everything was scheduled around it.  His holy hour was the priority.  I think at times this truly had to have been a sacrifice — the time being late at night after working all day, not always being able to do things, etc.  Reflecting on this the past couple years, though, especially as I think about how I want to do this for my family, I think this has produced so much fruit for our family.  I can see God’s faithfulness back to our family because of my Dad’s faithfulness to Him.

I hope and pray Craig and I can carry this beautiful gift and tradition into our family — to teach our children how to pray and to experience and encounter Christ present and alive in the Eucharist.

 

Happy Easter!

“Accept the risen Jesus into your life.  Even if you have been far away, take a small step toward him; he awaits you with open arms.” -Pope Francis

I love Easter.  It is so beautiful to celebrate our risen Lord.  The triduum is always so beautiful yet somber; and to wake up on Easter — to this joyous and beautiful day — is always such a gift.  I love reflecting on how through and after the suffering, there is always the resurrection.  It brings about so much hope and trust in Christ.

We celebrated Easter morning by going to Mass.  After Mass we had a wonderful dinner at Craig’s Grandma’s.  Then we headed back to Lincoln so we could celebrate at home, too.  When we got home, the Easter bunny had come to visit.  He left Henry a basket and eggs to find.  I wasn’t sure if Henry would understand the concept of looking for eggs and putting them in his basket, but he did!  It was so much fun.

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Henry looking through his Easter basket.

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And he is off hunting for eggs around the house!

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Happy Easter from our family to yours!  May we all truly invite the risen Lord into our hearts, minds, and lives, and may we all share His joy and hope with others!

Naming Henry

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As Craig and I have been talking a lot lately about what to name our second child, I thought I’d write about how we named Henry. 🙂

A few different things happened that confirmed our choice and liking in the name Henry.  First of all, we liked the name.  We liked the name Henry from the beginning.  We felt like we always kept going back to that name whenever we would throw out different names.  We’d say, “I still like the name Henry.”  It always made its way into our list of names we liked.

The name ‘Henry’ means “house leader”.  We felt like it was a strong name for a male.  We felt like whatever vocation Henry is called to, we pray he will be a leader for that ‘house’ — whether it is the House of God or his own home.

Craig and I were both strongly formed in Newman Centers in college.  Newman Centers are named after Blessed John Henry Newman.  We wanted Henry to be named after a ‘blessed’ or a ‘saint’.  Blessed John Henry Newman is certainly a great saint who touched our lives, and we pray Henry will be friends with Blessed John Henry Newman and look up to him as a role model in the way he lived his life on earth.

Craig and I also heard a story about St. Henry Heath that touched both of our hearts.  St. Henry Heath was a heroic martyr in England who prayed for the conversion of his country.  He stood up for God’s law in a country that wasn’t always following the church’s teachings.  We felt St. Henry Heath was a great saint to look up to in our culture we live in.  Here is the story we read:  http://stmichaellincoln.org/site/jesus-convert-america/

After we were pretty sure Henry’s name would be Henry, we learned that Henry is a family name on both Craig’s said of the family and my own side of the family.  We liked that a lot about it.

We decided on Allan for his middle name because it is Craig’s middle name, Craig’s Dad’s middle name, and my Dad’s name.  We wanted to honor these influential men in our own lives and know that they will be some of the most influential men in Henry’s life as well.

After researching the name Allan, I learned that there is also a Blessed Alan.  When I learned that it brought me even more peace that that was going to be Henry’s middle name.  Saint Dominic established the rosary, but Blessed Alan restored it.  I pray Henry always has a strong devotion to Our Lady through the rosary.

Although Henry is not named after him, Henry was born on the feast day of St. Francis Xavier.  We love St. Francis Xavier and feel very humbled to have Henry born on his feast day.  Again, we feel like it is St. Francis Xavier inviting Henry to be his friend and letting him and us know that he will always be praying for him.  What a special and humbling gift to us and to Henry.

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Holy Week

I was listening to the Go Forth Podcast yesterday on my drive home from work.  My good friend, Fr. Kaup, was talking about Holy Week.  He gave some great practical tips for families on things they can do to enter into Holy Week and to teach kids what is happening.  These are some traditions I hope my family can begin doing during Holy Week:

  • Place palm branches from Palm Sunday on our prayer table
  • Attend the Chrism Mass on Monday evening — discuss how priests renew their vows during this Mass and how oils used for sacraments throughout the year are blessed at this time
  • Give up something extra (aside from our Lenten sacrifices) as a family during Holy Week to keep it more somber
  • Fr. talked about ‘Spy Wednesday’ which I had never heard it called that before.  He gave an idea to talk about Judas that day and what he did leading up to Jesus’ death.  I think this would be a great evening to attend Confession together as a family.
  • Thank our parish priests and other priests in our lives for their ‘yes’ and their priesthood on Holy Thursday in some way — maybe by writing a letter, making them pictures, bringing them a meal…
  • Attend Holy Thursday Mass
  • After Mass, visit 7 altars of repose at different churches in Lincoln.  St. Philip Neri gave this pilgrimage the number of 7 altars to visit.  Each child could pick a different church to visit.  Afterward we could have pancakes or something before bed.
  • Visit the church on Good Friday aside from attending Stations and Good Friday Service.  Talk about how Jesus is not in the tabernacle.
  • Attend Stations of the Cross and Good Friday Service
  • Attend the Easter Vigil Mass
  • Celebrate Easter for 8 days — I’m not sure how yet but making sure to celebrate in some way each day

Our new home!

We made it!

We are moved in to our new home in Lincoln.  It was a whirlwind of a weekend filled with moving, unpacking, organizing, and painting.  We had some wonderful help from family.  We could not have done it without them!

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John, David, Sophie, and Jack helped us unpack boxes Friday night.

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John, Sophie, and Jack worked on putting Henry’s kitchen together.  I think Henry is pretty excited for when it is all finished!

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I was working on organizing our kitchen Friday night.  I don’t think anything in this cupboard is still there.  I organized and reorganized and organized some more.

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Craig and Fran got right to work painting our laundry room and bathroom Saturday morning.

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Here is a before picture of mine and Craig’s room.  Craig, Fran, and Ellie worked on painting our room Saturday afternoon.  I will post some after pictures another day!

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Our first morning at our new house!  We didn’t have a lot of Henry’s toys unpacked yet.  He stayed busy reading and exploring his new home.

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Our first family picture in our new home.

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We took a break from working to open Easter gifts from Grammy and Pops.  Henry was loving his card from them!

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Henry was patiently waiting for Mom and Dad to open his new Tonka trucks.

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He was very excited!

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Craig reading to Henry when he was taking a break from painting.

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My parents worked on painting Henry’s room Saturday afternoon.  Henry got to paint a little bit of his own room!  He loved painting.  It’ll be fun to share with him as he gets older that he got to paint part of his own room.

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Nana and Papa busy painting!

33 Days to Merciful Love

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I have been reading 33 Days to Merciful Love for the past 17 days or so.  It is a personal daily retreat for 33 days that Fr. Gaitley guides you on in preparation to consecrate yourself to Divine Mercy.  Each day you read about 2-3 pages.  It is completely rocking my life right now, and I am so grateful for this gift He has given to me of teaching me more about His merciful love for me.

I had completed the Marian Consecration — 33 Days to Morning Glory — also written by Fr. Gaitley a few times.  I really enjoyed that.  When I first heard about 33 Days to Merciful Love, I knew I wanted to read it.  I remember hearing about this book from Fr. Holdren at Srodo last May, and I was very intrigued by the message in the book.  Again, I knew I wanted to read it, but I didn’t get around to it right away.  I asked for the book and received it as a gift, but it was just sitting on my shelf.  Then I heard Jeff, Jennifer, and my Mom talk about it, how much they loved it, and how it really impacted their spiritual life.  I knew I needed to read it.  God had been inviting me through all these ways to read it… He was just waiting for my yes.  I really wanted to start reading it, but I decided I wanted my Consecration Day to be on Divine Mercy Sunday, meaning I’d start reading it May 20th.  Finally the day came.  I started it, and I am loving it.

The first few days of the book talk about Adam and Eve and how sin started from a lie that was told to them.  This then guided me to reflect on all sin in my life and how it is committed from some lie that is being told to me.  It also made me reflect on how many lies I am being tempted to think about God and others.  For instance when I commit a sin I may be tempted to think that I am not worthy or I am not enough, but in reality that is when God loves me all the more because I am so in need of Him as my Savior.  I think it has helped me to be more aware… or to try to be more aware… of when I am being tempted with thinking a lie about God or someone else or whether that is truth; and if it is a lie, what is the truth.

The next few days helped me reflect on faith and trust through the eyes of Abraham and Mary.  I have been taught Abraham is the Father of Faith.  But the book really goes into depth on this fact.  I always knew Mary trusted God, as well.  But the books helped me to reflect more on how she trusted God in ways I hadn’t really thought about.

The next few days have walked through St. Therese’ spiritual life.  It has talked about her belief in God’s mercy and how He is a merciful God.  It also compares and contrasts God as a just God and God as a merciful God.  I think it has always been easy for me to see God as a just God.  I almost feel like that is how I grew up thinking about God more than as a merciful God.  I know God is merciful — I have had a devotion to his Divine Mercy for a few years.  But I think God is revealing how merciful He is to me even on a deeper level.  I just want everyone to know how merciful God truly is, how good He is, how faithful He is, and how loving He is.  I am just so grateful He is expressing this to me and teaching me even more so about Himself in these attributes.

I can’t wait to see what the next half of the book teaches me.  🙂

About a week and a half ago, Jennifer shared this video on Fr. Gaitley with me.  I haven’t listened to it yet, but I am going to listen to it today.  I can’t wait to hear what he has to say.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKbai-ol-js

 

Last Weekend in Omaha

Craig and I started to get a little nostalgic this weekend as we spent our last weekend in Omaha before we move this week.  It was a great weekend to end our time living in Omaha and to begin looking forward to our life in Lincoln.

The Lanoue’s invited us over for dinner as a going away Friday night, along with the Zurcher’s.  We always love our time spent with such dear friends.  We will miss not living in the same town as them greatly.

Saturday morning I attended a Moms Prayer Group that Jennifer started at St. Wenceslaus.  They have it the first Saturday of the month, and unfortunately I had not been able to attend until this Saturday.  I am so grateful Jennifer invited me and that I was able to go!  They pray a holy hour together before mass starts.  The holy hour starts with a reflection, followed by time for personal prayer, and ends with a rosary.  The reflection Jennifer gave this time was from a book she found giving Mary’s perspective of the Way of the Cross.  It was so beautiful to reflect on.  She also shared these 3 beautiful quotes that I reflected on for quite awhile during my prayer time.  I just love them.

– “In the dark loneliness of the Passion, Our Lady offers her Son a comforting balm of tenderness, of union, of faithfulness; a yes to the divine will. Hand in hand with Mary, you and I also want to console Jesus, by accepting always and in everything the Will of his Father, of our Father. Only thus will we taste the sweetness of Christ’s Cross, and come to embrace it with all the strength of Love, carrying it in triumph along the ways of the earth.” – St. Josemaria Escriva, from “Way of the Cross”

– “Mary was the person in Jesus’ life who He turned to when He was in distress. He went to His Mother, who was able to bring Him calm, peace, safety, and security…When we have a devotion to Mary, that’s the role that she wants to play in our own lives. She’s that person we can run to when we’re in distress, or worried, or feel unsafe, or feel insecure, because she always is there to welcome us, to throw her arms around us, to comfort us. The true meaning of Marian devotion is that we allow our hearts to be transformed by union with hers, which means we run to her in our distress.” – Fr. Sean Kilcawley, from “Mary, Mother of God” homily, 1/1/17

– “We should reflect on this, what does it mean to have a Savior? What does it mean to need a Savior? Because in the midst of the busyness of our lives, or the comfort of our lives, we’re not always aware of the fact that we need a Savior. So many times when we’re lonely or we’re sad, we can easily turn to distraction to be our Savior…instead of opening ourselves and turning to the Lord…instead of developing that habit that says, “Jesus, I need you to reveal yourself to me again.” “Jesus, I need you to remind me of who I am.” “Jesus, I need you to hold me, just as you were held when you were a small child.” “Jesus, I want to depend completely on you…to depend completely on you.” That’s what it means to have faith, and it’s what it means to have a Savior.” – Fr. Sean Kilcawley, from “Merry Christmas” homily, 12/25/16

After I attended the prayer group, I headed to Trader Joe’s to do our grocery shopping for the week.  Okay I hadn’t done this since… honestly maybe college, and even then I don’t know…. but almost all I bought were frozen meals for the week.  I did buy SOME fruit, avocados, and eggs.  But I bought a frozen pizza, a frozen Chinese meal, and a frozen Indian meal.  I seriously still can’t believe I did this.  We.. well maybe I… really wanted to pack up our whole kitchen this weekend, leaving no dishes for me to cook with.  I felt like I’d rather buy some frozen meals rather than eat out for supper every night this week.  So we will see how this goes and how we feel by the end of the week… 🙂

After that Craig, Henry, and I headed to Sherwin Williams to buy our paint for our new house!! Yay!! Hopefully we like the colors on the walls because we just bought a lot of paint.  But I think we will. 🙂

Saturday afternoon we attended my cousin Jaime’s wedding to her husband, Kurt.  It was a beautiful wedding held at St. Margaret Mary’s.  I am so happy for both of them.  After the wedding, my siblings all went to DJ’s Dugout.  It was fun to spend time with all of them, as well as to hang out in Aksarben one last time before we move.  Then we headed to the reception at the Livestock Exchange Building.  Henry loved dancing with his cousins at the reception.  We all had a great time.

Sunday morning we attended our last Sunday mass at Christ the King.  We packed and cleaned all day.  Craig focused on the garage, and I worked on the kitchen.  Henry helped me for a bit, and then he went outside to play while Craig was working in the garage.  That night we attended the JPII Newman Center’s Oratory Dedication.  It was great to attend and see the “finished product” that Craig had been working so hard on for so long.  It was nice to see friends and people he worked with at the reception.  It was a very spiritual experience as we were praying during benediction that this was closure and an ending to living in Omaha.

 

Henry Happenings

Henry has always loved peek-a-book, but he has been initiating the game more and more.  He started to play it with us during meal time.  He just covers his eyes and waits for us to ask where he is.  It’s so fun.

During my spring break last week, we were able to go to the Children’s Museum one day with Jennifer, Emma, and Zac.  I love taking Henry to the Children’s Museum.  It was so fun to see what he was interested in.  It was so fun to go with Jennifer, Zac, and Emma, too!  They all played on the slides for quite awhile.  Then they moved over to the tractor for a bit.  Then we went to a room that had a lot of legos, blocks, and cars to build.  We also played with the balls in the gravity section for awhile.  Emma and Henry liked those!  Last we went upstairs to the animal playground and train.  We had a great time!

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Henry is starting to talk more and more.  His words are Dada and the occasional Mama, but he tries to carry on a conversation with me or Craig with lots of jargon.  It is SO fun to hear him talk to us and to guess what he is saying.  🙂

Our First Home

Craig and I have been packing up our home for the last week or two.  Packing an entire home is quite an experience.  It is nice to go through everything and try to declutter our lives a little bit.  It has also been fun to go through things together.  This was our home where we started to build our lives together.  It is neat to think about the things we have, where they came from, and the memory with it.

Craig has decided that at dinner time we both name something we will miss about our home and something we are excited about in our next home.  Here are some of the things we have come up with that we have loved about our first home:

-The character of the arches, doorknobs, old front door, light fixtures, windows, and layout

-The location — being near Aksarben, being able to walk to Aksarben, being near bike/running trails, Elmwood park, being in a central location in Omaha, the old homes near us, being near local restaurants, being near parks

-Having a small home — I know I am excited about the space of our new home, but I think I will miss cleaning a small home and having less “stuff”

-The fact that it was our first home together and all the memories we have shared here — (trying to) figure out how to be married :), finding out we were expecting with Henry and Baby #2, bringing Henry home from the hospital, hosting family and friends together… our house truly became our home.

-Spending time in our backyard together

Craig and I have loved our home and are very grateful for it.  We are excited to get into our new house to make it a home just like we did with this one.