Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Wedding Fun! {NAS Summer}

We are now fully immersed in wedding season! What are your favorite parts of a wedding? Where do you find the best dresses for the occasion? Have any unique gift ideas? Share anything and all tips and tricks with us!

I've survived already attended the two weddings I have for this year, and let me tell you, after standing up in THREE of my friends' weddings last summer, I am very grateful for the low load. Especially since I have three friends who are gearing up for 2017 summer weddings. :)

I looove weddings, but the between the travel, accommodations, dress, gift, etc. it can get to be a lot! I thought it'd be fun this month to talk about tips and tricks for a smooth and enjoyable wedding guest experience!

(though, secretly, I'm hoping to hear some advice from you!)

The Dress

I know there are some weddings you can attend wearing jeans....or at least, I know that now after my very first Minnesotan wedding! But, I will forever be a dress kind of gal. 

Having the chance to dress dress-up and dance while doing it is an exciting opportunity....but where to find a suitable garment?

There are loads of dresses in my closet, but....well...not all of them fit...and not all of them are as modest as I'd like. (former decolletage bearing self, for shame!) So I've had to do some searching and let me tell you: as a tall lady who likes to cover her chest AND butt....I am apparently in the minority.

However! Never fear, for DressBarn has me covered. Literally. I've found several cute numbers there which are suitable for more than one occasion, as well as dancing-friendly!

Since I've been a bridesmaid in most of the weddings I've attended recently, I usually don't have to think about what I'll wear. One of the weddings this summer was formal enough for me to re-use one of these dresses! Cha-ching!

I've also perused ModCloth and will likely go there for a dress next time, but haven't yet bought from them yet.

The Travel

I'm fortunate that many of the weddings I attend are held within 2-3 hours of me. Thank you, friends, for living nearby.

Yet, the two I attended this year were not only back-to-back weekends, but also were in completely different parts of the country. We drove each time, which helped cut costs in travel, but overnight accommodations are expensive!

Not sure about you, but I'm not made of money! I save, yes, but when traveling with my boyfriend, we try to find separate sleeping quarters. And unless if we wanted to book two shady hotel rooms, we'd be looking at $100/night for each of us. Annoying.

Enter Airbnb! I'm sure I'm the last person to use Airbnb, but if you haven't, seriously! Check it out!!

We found an adorable place to stay in Knoxville, TN (our half-way point) and wow. I don't ever want to stay in a hotel again.

Perhaps not everyone is as wonderful as our host Jill was, but her home was a delight. Private entrance, separate living areas, huge bathroom, Keurig, snacks, AND homemade brownies!

I'm not sure if I'd do Airbnb as a solo traveler, but for the two of us, this was the perfect option!

The Gift

Now, yes. Most people have gift registries. And yes, they've hand-selected items they'd like to receive.

However, I've always been one to go against the grain. Sure, I could get a friend some bamboo cutting boards or dish towels or a gift card....all things I've bought friends. BUT lately, I've been going the more personal route.

This might not work for every couple, as not everyone is Catholic. (shocker, I know.) But in the event that they are, I like to get a crucifix (from the Holy Land, if possible) and a book on marriage.

Many of us have heard that the first year of marriage is the hardest, but no one really knows how true that is until they're in the midst of it. So, why not try to help as much as possible?

I recently got friends Just Married: The Catholic Guide to Surviving and Thriving in the First Five Years of Marriage by Dr. and Mrs. Gregory Popcak and already I've had great reviews.

Of course, you could also do the "frame the invitation" or "create a mason jar of date nights or sweet things to do for your spouse" (also gifts I've given), but this most recent gift of that book is my favorite so far.

So how about you? Any tips for where to get the perfect wedding-guest dress? Or gift ideas?

Write a post and link up below!


The Not Alone Series is hosted by Lindsay and Laura!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Discerning God's Will

Seeking and attempting to follow God's will in your life is the most essential and difficult task we are given. Whether it's the decision to change jobs, date or marry a certain person, or pursue a "big V" Vocation, these circumstances all warrant prayer and soul searching. 
What is something you've discerned in the past or recently? How did you go about discerning God's will? What advice would you give to someone going through a similar situation?

Discernment, discernment, discernment.

This word, within Catholic circles, is commonly used when talking about Vocational discernment. 

"Oh my gosh, who is he???" 
"Don't even think about it....he's discerning." 


"Huh...I didn't know she veiled..."
"It's a new thing, she's discerning!" get it. ;)

But really, "discernment" simply means "the ability to judge well", which can and should be applied to any major life decision. 

I'll be perfectly honest, I struggle with discernment. Ever since college, when I grew in my faith and relationship with the Lord, I have found it difficult to unite my will with that of God.

Ultimately, I know He has the best plan, the best path, the best everything! But, I'm stubborn and I like to get my way. (Sounds suuuper mature when I write that out!)

So, what's a girl to do?

When I first began Vocational discernment, I had no idea what I was doing. I didn't have any kind of spiritual direction at that time, but I was attending Mass daily and reconciliation regularly. Eventually, the more and more time I spent with the Lord, the more I desired to surrender my will to Him.

And over time, my prayer "Thy will be done" became one that was totally and completely true. It was only then that He gave me the peace I had been seeking and filled my heart with reassurance of my Vocation.

So, ultimately, this is what I look for when discerning: peace.

Peace of heart, peace of mind, peace in speech and action. When that peace permeates every fiber of my being, I know I'm on the right track.

But, it's not always that easy. When the conversation is just you and God, it's difficult to surrender, but much easier to be confident in your path. But what about marriage discernment?

Now this, my friends, can be complicated. What are you to do when you have peace from prayer but your partner does not?

It's in the more sticky or muddled discernment that I make an effort to seek out counsel, both from spiritual advisers in the flesh and in their writings. We, in the Catholic Church, have such an amazing resource in the Saints! Their writings are a plethora of wisdom and guidance.

Additionally, we have men and women of today who are writing specifically for this generation. They know the specific struggles we face and have sound advice on how to discern among the distraction. I'm currently making my way through Fr. Timothy Gallagher's Discerning the Will of God and I would highly recommend it.

But what about you? How do you discern "big" things in your life? How do you know if God wants you to change direction or keep moving forward?

Link up your thoughts here!

Next week's topic:
We've talked about conflict, but that can be avoided through solid communication. What are some of your tips for becoming a better communicator? What are some strategies for healthy communication? When was a time you were completely misunderstood or completely misunderstood someone else? How does communication affect your relationships, and how does it help you prepare for your vocation?
(link-up will be at Lindsay's!)
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