Friday, June 7, 2019

The Proposal

Y'all, I get married this month.

No matter how many times I say it, or type it, or think it, it just doesn’t seem real!

Between our engagement last June, planning a wedding across states, a move home to Ohio (way sooner than anticipated) and a new job, life has been a little crazy. There has been so much going on, and weirdly enough, now that we are in the home stretch I think I am finally starting to catch my breath. Maybe all of the to-do’s or done? Or maybe I’m forgetting something on the list? Either way, there is a welcome change of pace happening right now, and I am not going to fight it.

Now that I am starting to slow my roll and have a moment to think, I wanted to write down Michael and my engagement story. Partly to share with you, but also to have it documented before I forget all of the details.

So let’s take a trip down memory lane, shall we? It will be short and sweet and it will answer the often asked question about the duck costume ;)

The Proposal

My mom, sister, and nephew flew to Connecticut for a mini vacation to visit me and celebrate my mom’s 50th. Michael and I had already discussed engagement, I knew he had the ring, I knew he had asked my parents’ permission, and I knew he was going to ask that summer. What I did not, was when it would happen.

I suspected he would ask while my family was in town. In fact, I was pretty certain of it and had my nails prepped and ready just in case. (If you couldn’t tell from the above paragraph, I don’t like being surprised lol.)

Days came and went, as did seemingly opportune moments and picturesque scenes. The last day of their trip was the only day I was sure it would not be: my mom’s birthday. It was pretty much the only day during the entire summer that I assumed I didn’t need to be at the ready.

I’m sure you’re all super shocked to read that I was wrong.

June 26, 2018

I really don’t remember what we did for the first part of the day on June 26th. I remember messaging my friend, Michelle, for the name of the Italian restaurant she recommended a while back. (I would later find out that Michael also messaged her about the restaurant and made his own reservations thinking I had forgotten. He collected the information before I did and did a great job playing dumb when I said I had gotten the name of it. Michelle also played along and practiced some serious restraint by not showing up to see the proposal happen. I told her I would not have put two and two together - and based on how the rest of the evening went, I stand by my statement that I would have been oblivious.)

I also remember wanting to wear jeans to dinner and my sister insisting I put in a little more effort for mom’s birthday. She also offered to do my hair and makeup which should have been a big clue, but like I said, I was positive it wasn’t happening that day. I remember being slightly suspicious when after I was ready she forced me to take off my watch, but by the time we were at dinner, I had already forgotten.


When we arrived at Arezzo's (highly recommend if you’re near Westport, CT), and after a little confusion regarding the double reservation (again, I had no clue), we were seated outside in the beautiful weather. We ordered a bottle of white wine for the table and decided on our meals. (I don’t remember what everyone chose, but I had the gnocchi and it was amazing.)

After we finished dinner, my sister announced she had to go change Mason. He was 16 months old, so this was normal.

What was not normal, was when she came back to the table with him dressed in a duck costume. You might be thinking, “Surely you knew something was up at this point,” and my answer would be, “nope!” My thought process basically went, “Oh, he must have had a blowout. Weird that all you had was this Halloween costume in your bag…”

… and then I saw the ring box in my tiny nephew’s hands. (I’m actually tearing up thinking about this now.)

Michael took my hand and started saying the sweetest things in front of my mom and sister. At one point he took the ring from Mason and, as you can imagine, the babe did not like that. To compromise, he took out the ring and gave back the box and continued his speech, which at that point had caught the attention of neighboring tables (crying babies tend to do that lol).

M finished his sweet words, got down on one knee, and asked me to marry him. I, of course, said “yes!” and everyone around us clapped and clinked their glasses as he slid the ring on my finger and we shared our first kiss as an engaged couple. The restaurant brought us champagne and our dessert and we finished our meal on cloud 9 with multiple “congratulations” from kind strangers who’d witnessed our special moment.

Even as I type this out, it still feel like a dream. As clichΓ© as it sounds, we are truly blessed.

The Duck Costume

The most frequent question we get when we tell people the story or show them the photos is about the duck costume. If I’m being honest, I didn’t understand the significance either until Michael explained it.

The first year and a half of our relationship was spent long distance and somewhere along the way, for a reason neither of us remember, we started sending pictures of ducks we saw in the wild to each other. It was an odd but cute way to let the other know that we were thinking them even when we couldn’t be together. It just became a thing.

Once M moved to Connecticut, the need to send pictures of ducks didn’t exist anymore, so we hadn’t sent any in months – hens why I completely forgot about it.

Apparently when he was talking about the proposal with my sister, his original plan was for him to dress up as a duck, to which she politely suggested to have the baby wear the costume instead…

And for that, Bethany, I will forever be grateful.


We are so overjoyed to begin this next chapter of our lives and are so grateful for all of your kind words and prayers. They mean the world <3 


Monday, June 3, 2019

Blessed Conversations - Misericordia

Blessed is She just released their newest Blessed Conversation Study, Misericordia, on the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy (more of my favorite things!). The study follows the examples of 12 Catholic saints - 11 lay women (meaning not nuns or sisters) and 1 religious (a sister whose name you can probably guess even if you aren't Catholic πŸ˜‰). It was written by 4 of our amazing writers and designed by the incredible Erica Campbell of Be A Heart Design! There are 12 sessions (one for each amazing woman) in this beautifully bound book which is different from the individual studies we have released in the past. 

My copy arrived this weekend and It πŸ‘πŸΌ Is πŸ‘πŸΌ Gorgeous! ⠀

Y'all, I LOVE learning about the saints. I know that sounds sales-pitchy (and I am using affiliate links), but in all seriousness, next to Scripture, reading about the lives of the saints is my favorite way to grow deeper in my faith. Hearing about their unique experiences and devotion to God inspires me to learn and be more - to seek the magis for any of you Ignatian friends out there πŸ˜‰ ⠀

I cannot wait to dive in and learn about women of God I have never heard of and deepen my love for those I already hold dear - oh hey, Dorothy Day! πŸ™ŒπŸΌ⠀

The studies can be completed alone, but are so much more fun with a friend or small group whether in person or virtually. I've done one with a group of friends spread throughout the country and it was such a joy! If you have any questions or are in the Cleveland area and want to take a look in person, let me know! You know I love spreading the #BISsisterhood ♥️⠀

Get your own copy of Misericordia HERE ♥️

(Photos by the lovely Katie Waldow)


Friday, February 15, 2019

Reflections After a Month Back in Ohio

I've been back in Ohio just over a month and it still feels unreal. Maybe it will take being here longer than a summer vacation timeline, but my mind hasn't quite grasped the fact that this is home.

I'm home.

Sure, there is more settling in to do. M and I are working on various projects in his (soon to be our) house whenever we have free time. I'm enjoying living with my college roommate once again and all of the joy being near old friends has brought.

My new job is exciting and filled with so much potential. Some days seem slower than others, but there's been tangible growth even in this short amount of time and I can't wait to see how the Spirit moves.

In the same breath of feeling at home and reconnecting with this community, I miss Connecticut. I miss my friends there. I miss working in a space with more than one other person and clearly knowing the steps I needed to take to be successful in that role. I miss my little apartment and my cat, who is keeping M company until I move in this summer.

It's this weird tension that I constantly find myself in - enjoying what I have, longing for what was, and excitedly anticipating what is yet to come. All the feelings. All the emotions. And all the gratitude for the grace of abundance I can't help but see in it all.

I took some photos of my apartment before I moved out. I have learned that I am not the person who can turn a space into a home instantly, but rather I add to it slowly and steadily until it feels right. I'd finally made it to that point in CT and now I get to begin again in OH. In some ways it's frustrating to have to start over, but in another sense it's exciting.

There's newness and possibility and I am resting in that space, in my new life here, dreaming with God about all the blessings to come.


Sunday, January 6, 2019

Currently January

Y'all, I move this weekend. I seriously can't believe it. I've been so productive the past few days home and am so thankful I decided to spend them getting things set in CT instead of taking the extra week in OH. I've been cleaning, packing, reading, working out and even blogging. Let's keep this energy up, shall we.

Seriously though. Can I bottle it somehow? Work starts again tomorrow morning and I am already dreading that alarm.

I'm a little late to the game but still wanted to join in on Anne's "Currently" link-up this month. It's a great way to get some creativity flowing and even begin some of those to-do lists.
Choosing - joy. Actively, intentionally, and radically. I've been noticing how my body, mind and spirit are affected in certain situations and certain conversations. Rather than giving into negative thoughts and patterns, I am choosing to find joy in all things and to remove myself from those environments that simply do not bear fruit or bring light into my heart. Easier said than done, but the ever-present optimist in me is hopeful.

Tidying - my whole apartment. The movers are coming on Friday and after a final deep clean once everything is gone, I am officially moving! It has been a lot of work, but I will say it finally forced me to sit down and organize boxes and bins that have accumulated in the past 3 years and even from before that in previous homes.

Resolving - to not wait until New Years Day or a specific date to start chasing my dreams and goals. I posted a little bit about this on January 1st and hope to continue striving to make today and every day the best it can be - all for the greater glory of God (AMDG)

Refreshing - /reseting my focus on the wedding planning. We've had the majority of the big items checked off of our list since late summer/early fall which is such a blessing considering how much of my time and energy the new job, move and just life in the midst of it all has taken. I've been fortunate with the ease of it all (definitely a consolation and affirmation that this is the right move), but adding wedding planning on top of everything would have been overwhelming. Now that other things are in place, we can refocus on our special day and lifetime to come.

Exploring - possible Honeymoon destinations. As with most of the wedding planning, I am super indecisive/ happy with just about anything, so this has been interesting. I'd love to go someplace new to me, but would also love to show M around some of my favorite destinations. We are pretty active and love exploring, couldn't do more than a day or two on a beach, and hope to go abroad. Any and all suggestions are welcome!

So what about you, friend? What are you up to this month? How is your January shaping up? I'd love to hear!



Friday, January 4, 2019

Braces and Imago Dei

For those of you who haven't noticed as I've slowly allowed it to be seen on social media, I got braces.

Like actual I'm-an-awkward-middle-schooler braces.

For some reason when the dentist told me they would be clear braces, I assumed like an Invisalign type deal, but alas, they were not. And I didn't realize it until they were on.

And then I cried. A lot.

I don't know if it was the shock of seeing something completely unexpected, the pain of the braces themselves, or my lack of self-esteem that did it, but I was a wreck.

My smile has always been something I am sensitive about. I have a severe overbite (that can only be fixed by breaking my jaw, yikes!) and odd gaps and crowding that I think make the overbite even more pronounced. That combined with other insecurities about my physical appearance have made wedding planning and even just thinking about all eyes on me / all the pictures  h a r d .

Once M and I were talking marriage, I knew that I would want to at least try to correct my teeth for our wedding because of how insecure they make me. We got engaged and the anxiety surround my teeth got real.

M was supportive, though he insisted he thought my smile was perfect, but I don't think I took that encouragement and love seriously until he "yelled" at me about it a day or so after the braces were put on. (I put yell into quotations because I don't think my insanely kind fiance has ever actually yelled at, or even near me, but this was pretty close.)

We were driving to a school event and I was in a horrid, self-pitying mood complaining about how I looked and he tried to assure me he thought I was beautiful. In typical Sarah fashion I said something along the lines of a sarcastic "sure" and he had had it.

In the most angered tone I have ever heard from him, Michael let me know how upset he was that I didn't believe him when he told me I was beautiful and how frustrating it was when I brushed of his sincere compliments (which I have a horrible habit of doing). He was hurt by my lack of confidence - in myself and in him.

His words and love hit me hard. They still do.

And while he is clearly not God, I couldn't help but think of how much more hurt and frustrated my loving Creator is by this self-hatred and constant self-scrutiny.

(Photo by Matt Erickson)

I was created in the image and likeness of God. We all were. (Yes, that means you too.)

And with that amazing, miraculous gift, comes a responsibility to recognize it! That doesn't mean that I'll never fall into slumps like this autumn. That doesn't mean it's not ok to want to better myself, even in the physical sense. But what it does mean is that I am loved beyond measure and need to remember that, even in tough moments of self doubt.

In the Advent bundle this year, Blessed is She included a gorgeous magnificat candle and imago Dei wristlet. TBH, the candle was the only reason I bought the bundle (they weren't available individually yet). I knew I could find a friend who'd like the extra devotional, but didn't know what I would do with the wristlet. It was cute, but I didn't really have a use for it.

(Candle found HERE)

But then I remembered that I needed to start carrying a toothbrush more regularly (yay braces) and wouldn't you know it, the wristlet marked with words speaking to my inherit value and dignity was just the right size and just the right reminder.

(Wristlet found HERE)

You are loved friend - unconditionally, irrevocably and ineffably. I pray you (and I) can remember that always, especially at times when it's most difficult.


Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Welcome 2019

2018 is going to be a hard year to top, but I have a feeling 2019 is up for the challenge.

This is the year I move home to Ohio after 7 years away.

The year I begin my dream job in college campus ministry after three wonderful years in secondary ed.

The year I marry my best friend.

And the year we move into our home and begin our lives together.

There's a lot happening. Some soon (I move in less than 2 weeks). Some later (179 days until our wedding). Some that I don't even know are coming.

New Years seems to be the time that everyone sets goals and resolutions to make the coming year the best yet. I am all for goal setting, but why is it we wait for January 1st to put our best selves forward? Every day is what you make of it. Don't wait until a certain date to start anew. Start right now, where ever you are, in this moment - whether you're reading this the day it's posted or four months from now. Just start! You can do it! You are capable and you are loved.

I'm not really setting new resolutions this year, but if I had to, I guess it would be to not wait for the new year to make resolutions.

I have goals in mind that aren't 2019 specific and that I have been working toward for a bit now. I have dreams I am chasing and others I can't wait to chase with my husband-to-be. And I know there will be more dreams to come this year that I can't even fathom yet.

What a gift it is that God grants us new days, new moments, and new chances to chase our dreams
a l l   t h e   t i m e !  Take that gift and run with it friend. I can't wait to see where you end up and what dreams you catch.

Happy New Year, loves. May this be the best yet.


Sunday, December 30, 2018

Favorite Target Fitness Finds

In the midst of all the packing for the big move, I realized I needed some more storage bins for organization and easier moving. I was also beginning to get a little stir-crazy, so I headed out to Target in search of some options.

You might be the type of person who can walk inside Target and go only to the section of the item on your list, but friend, I am not. (Unless I have a time limit, but even then, I am prone to wandering.)

I'm sure you'll be surprised to hear that the trip for packing supplies that should have taken maybe 20 minutes turned into about an hour of strolling aimlessly through the store looking at just about everything I didn't need. #noregrets

My mom (who is usually the subject of my talk-while-I-shop calls) was very proud when at the end of the trip I had only purchased two things that were not storage/organization related for the move: a travel size lotion because my skin was burning (thanks, winter) and some jingle bells for next Christmas (am I the only one who buys decor after each holiday in preparation for the next year? It's S O much cheaper!)

Possibly my most reserved trip to date. You can hold your applause.

99% of what I saw I was fine picking up and putting down, but y'all, when did Target start carrying such cute workout gear?! Seriously. My friend Katie shared about one of their tops on her instastory, but I had no idea just how amazing the selection would be. I loved it all and practiced some serious restraint by not buying any of it. That's right. Not a thing. Now you can applaud.
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To be fair, I am a sucker for any cute gym clothes. Just extra motivation to work out, right? But I usually only find one piece here or there that I like, and TBH, it's never really at Target. I might own a pair of their shorts and a tank, but beyond that, their style just didn't match mine beyond plain black leggings that I can get pretty much anywhere.

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As you can see, this year they stepped up their game. And not only is everything super cute, the vast majority is SUPER soft! I'm not sure when exactly, but at some point of my adult life a switch flipped in my brain and the softness and comfort of clothing has begun ranking higher than the look of the clothes themselves. I like to call it adulting.

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Luckily there are cute soft things our there or I would look like a hot(ter) mess.

For those of us looking for motivation to keep striving for a healthier lifestyle for the new year, or for those who simply want to wear clothes that feel like butter and look amazing, I will meet you in the activewear section at Target and we can spend our Christmas money together ;)