Goodbye, 2015.

Another year. ANOTHER YEAR. It always amazes me how time flies. But at the same time…this year has been a full one and I feel ready to move on. In a good way.

It seems as if every year, for the past several years, I’ve not known what to expect looking ahead to the new year. We couldn’t have known God would lead us back to Kevin’s hometown, let alone his childhood house (we were actually both hoping New Hampshire would work out!). We suspected, but couldn’t have foreseen the great difficulty we’d have in conceiving a child, requiring medical guidance, and then not being able to sustain the pregnancy when we did achieve. We didn’t know we’d be welcoming two wonderfully adorable & perfect neices. We never would have guessed our married life in Duluth could be so good, or that we’d connect with such amazing people.

There is so much we didn’t know, and I’m glad of it. Everything happened on God’s time, and in His way. And here we are. Not free of struggle, but trying to be liberated of all fear. I look forward to the surprises this year next year will bring.

In the meantime, some of my favorite highlights of 2015:

  • Our marriage bible study in Boston with two couples who are so close to our hearts. This monthly gathering bore incredible fruit for everyone; it was an immense gift that we miss dearly. (Skype bib stud?!?!)
  • YOLMO – “You only Livingston Manor Once” – our annual YO_O trip with my best friends from college (spouses & babies invited this time) – this time in upstate New York. Lots of snow, laughter, tears, good food, and plenty of hugs. And twas the time we all met Joey – now our dear Elise’s fiance! May 6, 2016!
  • Doing my WHOLE 30! And since then learning to live, cook, and bake paleo(ish). It has transformed my life (while also increasing grocery bills).
  • Our multiple trips to Quebec! These trips are so good for our marriage, and we’re simply in love with Quebec and everything french.
  • The Brotherhood of Hope Alumni Retreat – Boston Edition. For many months, I worked part-time doing development & alumni relations with the Brotherhood of Hope at Northeastern University’s Catholic Center, and while commuting downtown in the winter two nights a week wasn’t always easy, it was a privilege and a joy to serve in this way. One of our great efforts was putting together the first alumni retreat, and it was all I hoped it would be and more.
  • Ladies day out in Boston in my last month there!
  • Our vacation in Plymouth with my family! A relaxing time with the whole gang just before departing the Northeast.
  • Our cross-country trip and seeing family & friends along the way! And Wisconsin. Gosh it was so dang pretty there.
  • And being here in Minnesota. I don’t have much to say right now, but it’s good. It is good we are here.

And my favorite posts of the year?

I hope 2015 treated you well and that this next year will be even better. 🙂

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Our Christmas Letter!

We sent this letter our to friends & family with our Christmas card this year. But the blog version has links!

A blessed Advent & a merry Christmas to you all! It is from our new home near Lake Superior that we write this letter to you. When reflecting on this past year, this particular verse comes to mind:

“Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” [James 1:2-4]

It has been quite the year for us, and there has been excitement, doubt, frustration, and gratitude. But in it all, we knew God has been calling us to a deeper surrender.  When we reflect on the way God has blessed us this past year through everything, it absolutely amazes us.

Since last Christmas, we have survived Boston’s worst winter on record (woohoo!), Katie wrapped up her part-time work with the Brotherhood of Hope, Kevin finished his time at the Academy of Realist Art as both student and instructor, we made a fruitful pilgrimage to St. Joseph’s Oratory & St. Anne de Beaupre, we celebrated a beautiful first anniversary the same week we found out we were expecting, and we suffered the loss of that same child (Giovanna Raphael).

We had been discerning moving for a while and were granted some clarity. We ended our time in Boston with a wonderful Krouchick family vacation in Plymouth, MA, said hard goodbyes to the dearest of friends, and began our cross country move. We were blessed with time to see loved ones along the way, and arrived at our new home in mid-September. We’ve since also welcomed our first two beautiful nieces, Millie & Evie!

Through the recent months of transition, we have been continually called to trust in God’s goodness & mercy. While we sometimes ache for the familiarity of life out East, God has granted us immense peace that surpasses understanding. And a whole lot of joy!

We have received great welcome here in Minnesota, and our hearts are humbled by how good life is. The community has been warm & charitable, Kevin has found good work, Katie is continuing her Boston work (remotely, obviously), and despite living in the woods (according to Katie), there have been no sightings of bears/wolves/bobcats (praise God!). Just bunnies, deer, & partridges. 🙂

Only the Lord knows what this next year will bring, but we have faith and are content with today. We consider it all joy because through it all we are more united in Christ. A good year, indeed! We are praying for all of you this Christmas season (and this new year of mercy!!!)! May peace & joy reign in your lives.

In Jesus & Mary,

Katie & Kevin

A little bit better.

When Kevin and I were engaged, we had a sit down with my dad about our finances. My dad is the finance guy, and Kevin and I were (and are) in a bit of a unique situation when it comes to money. But after speaking with my dad, we both were very encouraged. He told us of when him and my mom got married and their humble beginnings. Upon returning from their honeymoon, they had less than $1,000 combined (yikes!). Fast forward 33 years, and they live a very full and beautiful life (with five kids). What he said to us that day has really stuck with me: “We didn’t have much, but we knew that if each year just got a little bit better, then we’d be alright. So that’s what we’ve worked for.”

It’s easy for me to get down about the things we don’t have, or the struggles we have that seem to be a non-issue for others. But the reality is that everyone faces struggle. It might manifest itself in different ways, but it’s not my place to judge or compare. All I can do is try to be grateful for the way God has blessed us in our marriage. And lately Kevin and I have been extremely aware of this. We may not have the resources to do much, but even after just seven months, our situation is starting to get a little bit better. We’re working hard and life sometimes feels like a never ending marathon with what we’re trying to accomplish. But with every day/week/month, our faith increases, our peace and joy grow, our trust builds, our love deepens, and our situation gets a little bit better. We moved into 2015 with such encouraged spirits, and most of all, a deeper appreciate for God in our marriage.

I want to have the mindset my parents had. There’s no way to know where we’ll be 5/10/20 years from now, but we can work to make this year a little bit better than the last. By God’s abundant grace, we’re growing in ways that help our marriage, our faith, our finances, our health, and our time. And by building these skills and cultivating these habits now, it’s going to benefit us down the road. I know challenges lay before us, especially if/when God blesses us with children, but we have great faith that we’re moving in the right direction.

2015: learning to be present

While in Duluth, Kevin and I were on the way to adoration and chatting about the year to come. We’re super excited for 2015 and all the possibilities that lay before us. Lists and “resolutions” aside, we wanted to think seriously about how we can grow in virtue this year. I’m sure we can all think of a particular vice we have or a certain virtue we are lacking. I can think of a ton for myself. But as the wise Ron Swanson once said, “never half-ass two things; whole-ass one thing.” That’s applicable here, right?

I proposed Kevin and I each come up with a virtue the other should work on (which could have gone horribly wrong), but we actually each said what the other was thinking.

Be present.

Surprise, surprise. I need to work on being present. Big picture: I need to not be continuously planning our future (out loud AND in my head). It doesn’t matter that I enjoy it and that it brings me temporal satisfaction, it can often rob me of the gift of the moment. Not to say that planning isn’t good and necessary, but there’s a line that often goes unnoticed and that I pass by several miles. I have learned time and time again that no matter how much I plan, if God’s plan is different, it will win out (and praise Jesus for that). There is an amount that we can do, but ultimately it has to be left up to the hands of our Creator.

I also need to take care to be present in the little things. I was reading the Popcak’s book “Just Married” about the first five years of marriage. One part struck me about people’s love styles: audio, visual, and kinesthetic (related to the way in which we learn as a child). Being a very visual person, I often find myself unable to relax or enjoy the moment if my environment isn’t to my liking. While there are great things to being visual, I can get so caught up in it that I bypass good time that could be spent with others (or even in prayer).

So a few attainable things to work on:

  • Abstaining from cleaning/preparing when better time would be spent enjoying time with my husband, with others, or in prayer.
  • Learning to enjoy leisure in it’s truest form (there’s lots more to say on this one).
  • Pausing frequently to thank God for the graces of the moment.
  • Be more intentional with prayer time so I’m not looking at the clock or anxious about “the next thing.”
  • Leave the life planning to specific times that both Kevin and I have set aside for it (ie: don’t bring up big decision topics on the bus or over breakfast).

The more I’m able to be present, the more, I hope, I’ll be able to notice God’s subtle movements in my life. Grace is all the time being poured out onto all of us, but we have to receive it. And contrary to what many people may think, receptivity is an active virtue. Also, by being attuned to God’s daily graces, I hope to cultivate more of a heart of gratitude. So in a nutshell, that’s a big thing I’m working on in 2015.

Anyone have any exciting things they’re working on this year?