Liturgical Living, Simplified: January

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Happy January! Below are the feast days we’re celebrating this month, with some simple ideas you can do with your families.

Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God: January 1st

What to do: Go to mass! Its a holy day of obligation, so that’s a must on this day. We also like to pray a family rosary to honor Our Lady and to ask for her intercession in this next calendar year.

What to eat: I’ll be honest, this one’s a bit of a stretch. We like to have a nice breakfast together as a family filled with all our favorites including pancakes, eggs, and bacon. Since its a Marian feast, we suggest making breakfast foods with blueberries, since blue is Mary’s color. Things like blueberry pancakes or blueberry muffins would work wonderfully!

Feast of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton: January 4th

What to do: This one is really special for us, as Elizabeth Ann Seton is my confirmation Saint and a patron of mine, plus I went to Seton Hall University, which was founded by her nephew and named for her! On her feast day, we go to mass at Seton Hall University, and we pray for her intercession. Also, I like to deck out my family in Seton Hall gear, but that’s just me!

What to eat: We have pizza at our favorite restaurant near Seton Hall, Reservoir. Since she lived in New York City for many years, and South Orange is just outside the city, we feel treating ourselves to some New York style pizza is a fun and unique way to celebrate her. If you’re looking for an easy way to celebrate at home, make homemade pizzas!

Solemnity of the Epiphany: January 6th

What to do: First things first, bless your house! The Epiphany blessing over the front door of your home with blessed chalk is a beautiful tradition to do at home with your family to commemorate this feast day. You can read more about it here!

What to eat: Since the Epiphany kicks off Mardi Gras season, we like to have some New Orleans style food like jumbalaya or gumbo. Then, we have a king cake for dessert! Which, since we’re all about practicality around here, is really just  bunch of cinnamon buns in a cake pan topped with purple, green, and gold frosting and sprinkles to give it a festive touch. We follow this super easy recipe from Kendra at Catholic All Year.

National Sanctity of Human Life Day: January 22nd

What to do: So this day isn’t a liturgical feast day according to the Catholic Church, but this blog is about my love for Jesus and America, so I’ve got to give President Trump a shout out here for making the anniversary of Roe v. Wade a day to recognize the sanctity of human life. So, on this day, we will pray “The Rachel Rosary” which is a rosary specifically offered up for post-abortive women who are suffering and prays for a specific intention on each prayer of the rosary. You can find it here. We also will watch “Unplanned” which is the pro-life story of Abby Johnson!

What to eat: We’ve decided that on this day, in honor of the millions of lives who have suffered and died through the evil of abortion, we will abstain from meat as a small personal sacrifice. So we will be making one of our favorite, easy, meatless recipes, like spanish rice and beans or homemade pizza.

Conversion of St. Paul: January 25th

What to do: Watch this movie about St. Paul, called Paul The Apostle. It tells the story of St. Paul’s powerful conversion and his mission, and also how St. Luke, who was his companion, came to write his Gospel.

What to eat: Since St. Paul ended up in Italy, we’ve decided to make homemade pasta in honor of him! This is super fun to do, but also a lot of work, so it isn’t something we do often. We’ll be making sauce & meatballs to go with our homemade pasta. I have a pasta maker that attaches to my KitchenAid, so we usually just google an easy homemade past recipe like this one and get started!

Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas: January 28th

What to do: Aquinas is one of the greatest minds of The Church, a beautiful way to honor him would be to spend some time reading some of his work! You can find it here. If you’re looking for a kid friendly version, check out this video about his life. You could also watch this video together about the Theology of the Mass according to St. Thomas Aquinas. Lastly, since St. Thomas Aquinas was a Dominican friar, you can always pray a rosary together as a family on his feast day.

What to eat: We decided to take a page from Haley Stewart’s blog, Carrots for Michaelmas, and make Lazio style pork chops, since that is the region of Italy St. Thomas Aquinas is from! You can find this easy recipe here.

Thanks for reading! Let us know if you tried any of these ideas, or if you have any additional feast days or ways of celebrating in the month of January. After all, we’re new to this and would love to hear your suggestions!

Feast of St. John Bosco: January 31st

What to do: There’s a Don Bosco Youth Center in NJ, so we think that would be a fun way to honor this priest. If you have a center near you, see if there is a way you can help. If they need volunteers or supplies, today could be a great day to be involved! Also, we like to read a little bit from St. John Bosco’s writing. There is so much goodness he shares!

What to eat: Since St. John Bosco was known for always “passing out bread” to children, we decided to make homemade bread on his feast day. This is a fun activity to get kids involved, and you really can’t bead homemade bread. Let me know if you have a favorite bread recipe, I haven’t settled on one just yet!

Faith, Flowers

Living for Christ Giveaway

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Hey there! It occurred to me recently that my blog celebrated its one year anniversary! I wanted to thank you for reading this past year and for being a part of my life (digitally, at least). Maybe it’s because I recently had a baby, or maybe it’s because I’ve been doing this for a year now, but I wanted to reflect on why I started this whole thing in the first place.

You see, I’ve always had a heart for evangelization, but I’ve struggled with how that looks in my own life for a few years. My life hasn’t brought me to be a missionary of travel the world, and that’s OK! In fact, that’s not what I’ve ever felt called to. I felt called to complete my schooling, work as an occupational therapist, marry Dom, and have children. While I’ve seen God work in my daily life and I try to being Christ to all I encounter, I sometimes felt like there was something more I could be doing. At the time, I found social media leaving me very materialistic and empty. I decided to make a switch and follow some accounts that were centered on faith. Suddenly I wasn’t left feeling empty, but rather, inspired.

I was so inspired by these other women — wives, mothers, workers, students, sisters, daughters, friends, living their lives for the Lord in such a way that it wasn’t weird or strange, but authentic and beautiful. I then had the idea to create this blog and hopefully, allow Christ to work through me and lead others to Him. Through sharing about my prayer life, politics, marriage & family, our struggles and joys, how we incorporate faith in our home style, I could be a witness to God’s love and faithfulness, and hopefully inspire others to see God working in their own lives.

One year later I’ve had moments where I’ve wrestled with the thought of what I’m doing here and if it is something that should continue. Am I doing this for God? Or for me? Am I humbling myself to glorify God? Or has it become about me, and about whoever I’m following at the moment?

After much prayer and reflection, I’ve realized that like with anything else, if we put God at the center, we will find fulfillment. After all, it is God who has led me to these Christ-centered friendships I’ve fostered online, the community I’ve received, and He continues to use this digital world as a way to draw me closer to Him. While I’m not sure I’ll ever find a perfect balance in it all, in giving the glory to God and in placing Him at the center, I’m able to find peace.

Also, I have a hard time believing that the Saints wouldn’t have used whatever technology was at their fingertips to share the Gospel and witness to the Lord. Living in 2019, I think it may just be exactly what we are called to do.

To celebrate living authentic lives for Christ and the one year anniversary of Loves Jesus & America too, I’ve teamed up with some friends on Instagram for a fun giveaway! These women have been some of the ones who’ve inspired me and brought me closer to Christ through their witnesses, and I think they’ll do the same for you. Claire of Finding Philothea was one of the first Catholic accounts I followed, and she shares how God is working in her life and family everyday in such a beautiful, yet relatable, way. Priscilla of The Little Catholic makes incredible jewelry that points people to Christ. I think wearing her stunning jewelry is one small way you can be a witness to others! Natalie of Colors by Natalie uses her creativity and artistic abilities by painting incredible religious art. Head over to Instagram to check out our giveaway!

Lastly, thank you for reading! I’m so humbled that you’re here, and it’s been such a blessing for me to share my life with you this past year. Let’s continue to give God the glory, connect with others, and bring them to Christ. Most importantly, let’s live for Heaven.


Let’s Talk NFP

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

So, it’s NFP Awareness Week, and I’m about to get all Catholic and dorky on you because NFP is something I believe in + get really excited about. The thing is, you don’t HAVE to be Catholic and dorky to love NFP. It is quite literally for EVERYONE.

We live in a society that pushes “natural” options almost (key word: almost) everywhere. When it comes to what we use to clean our homes, the food we eat, the products we put on our skin, it seems we as a society understand that a natural option is safer and healthier than an artificial one. That is, unless we’re talking about women’s bodies + reproductive health. You see, that same society that gasps at the idea of eating meat pumped up with hormones, does absolutely everything to ensure us women are pumping ourselves with artificial birth control. Do we not deserve better than cattle? Is this as hypocritical as it sounds? In a word, yes.

I’ll acknowledge that birth control, and other forms of contraceptive, can be effective, sure. My public school education made sure I understood that much. But they aren’t 100% effective. Nothing is, besides complete and total abstinence. Now is the part where you laugh because no one in 2019 has that kind of self control and now I’m back in high school being written off as the crazy church girl who’s going to be the last virgin standing at graduation. Anyways, let’s get back on track. So yes, birth control, when used correctly, can be effective. But, it comes at the cost of pumping your body full of hormones and essentially tricking your body so that it will not get pregnant. This can leave lasting effects on your body for years to come! By the way, I’m NOT shaming ANYONE for using birth control. Obviously, I know a ton of people are on it. Maybe most people reading this are on it. But I want you to know that you deserve better, and that there are natural, healthy options that are equally (or more) effective when used correctly.

Enter NFP. Natural Family Planning encompasses several different scientific methods that allow a women to understand their bodies and cycles, and can therefore be used to avoid or achieve pregnancy. Through learning several signs that exist in our body such as temperature changes and characteristics of cervical mucus, you can understand which days in a cycle you are fertile and which days you aren’t. You can also discover signs of hormonal imbalances or conditions that may make it difficult to become pregnant, and seek help for these things. You simply observe the signs that you’ve been taught to look for, record them in your chart, and then act accordingly. I’m not going to lie to you, this is when it does get a little tricky. It can be hard. If you don’t want to achieve pregnancy, and your body is telling you that you’re fertile, you need to abstain, and that’s not fun.

Even though it can be difficult, aren’t most worthwhile things in life challenging at times? The thing is, YOU are given complete power over your body. Do you remember cheesy posters in your school that said KNOWLEDGE is POWER? It’s true! By educating yourself, you actually have more control and more power over your body than if you’re a slave to a pill. NFP is a proven, effective, scientific method (it is NOT the rhythm method), and it’s out there for EVERYONE to use and to be empowered by understanding their unique body, cycle, and fertility. Yes, I use it because it aligns with Catholic Church teaching and I can go in depth on how it upholds the dignity of women, remains open to life, and strengthens communication in a marriage, but I’ll spare you those details for now. What I will tell you is, I’ve had unmarried friends who have simply used it for its scientific purposes in order to better understand their cycle or to pinpoint a hormonal imbalance or other abnormality—and you know what? They love it too. They love it for the knowledge it has given them about their cycle and how their body isn’t being altered in any way by practicing this.

If you’re interested in learning more about NFP, please reach out to me and I will connect you with resources to help you get started. Maybe you’re tired of subjecting your body to birth control and looking for a healthier, more natural option. Maybe your periods are irregular and your looking for answers. Maybe you want a ton of babies. Maybe you have discerned that now is not the time for a baby. Maybe you’ve recently got engaged, or married, or joined the Church. If you’re any of these things, NFP can educate you, empower you, and give you the answers your looking for.


Let’s Talk Swimsuits

Hi there, friends! Things have been a little quiet on the blog because I really have no energy for anything these days (#37weekspregnant), but I love writing here so I’m going to try to be a little more active! I’m popping in to talk about a subject that I think is really important with summer just upon us, and that’s swimsuits.

Let’s go back in time for a second to my middle + high school days when I had a trickier relationship with swimsuits. You see, my wonderful parents didn’t let me wear a bikini for years. I know, heartbreaking. I can laugh about this now, but it’s hard when you’re young and you just want to fit in and you can’t wear what everyone else is wearing. I finally wore them down and we compromised on certain types of bikinis that I was permitted to wear. The thing is, I wish I could go back in time and tell myself to let this one go. Stop fighting to wear less clothes just because it’s what everyone else is doing. I would tell myself to embrace being a little different, set a new trend, stop trying to fit in, and just cover up + listen to your parents, damnit. I can’t go back and teach my younger self these lessons, but maybe there’s someone reading this who can be helped by it!

In my defense, at the time I truly felt like there just weren’t any good options to look cute AND be modest (ugh, that word—sorry). I felt like every bathing suit that was deemed “acceptable” was frumpy or childish. I also was not super interested in the opinions of my parents or the people at Church who were telling me to cover up. No offense to them, but no one that was “cool” in my eyes was covering up, so why would I want to? They had the best intentions, and I can see now that they were right (obviously), but at the time there was no reasoning with me. If I couldn’t wear a bikini, I’d automatically look like the Duggar’s when they go swimming (google their swim-wetsuit-dresses right now people if you don’t know what I’m talking about).

I know this all sounds super dramatic, but I think it’s relevant. I think we need to alter the way we present modesty to young women. While I usually love rules (I’m weird and a big time rule follower), I don’t think this is something that can be forced upon girls or willed for them. We need to explain why its important to dress a certain way, even at the beach. This needs to be done in a real way, not a cheesy “protecting boy’s eyes” way. Yes, that’s true, and that’s part of it. But that’s not all of it. It’s mostly about YOU. It’s so hard to explain this in a way that makes sense and doesn’t make you cringe, but your body is good and beautiful and it was made for so much more than seeking the fleeting and superficial approval of your peers. I also think we need to give girls options that are cute so they’ll actually WANT to wear them, instead of feeling like some combination of Duggar/grandma/nun (not that there’s anything wrong with any of those people)! Girls need examples of relatable, beautiful, women to look to in order to see that you CAN cover up + still look cute. They need to see that yes, you can be modest without sacrificing style. I don’t think I’m necessarily anyone’s standard of cool—but I can point you in the right direction. Check out my friends over on Instagram, the Modish Movement. Cecilia & Megan started this Instagram account to be what they wished they had when they were younger, examples of real women who are attractive and yes, modest, without sacrificing their style and managing to look beautiful everyday.

We all want to feel beautiful in what we’re wearing, which is why this post isn’t just for the girl in middle, high school, or college feeling like the odd one out. Maybe you have the opposite problem, and you want to cover up absolutely everything because of some unresolved feelings you have about your body. Maybe your body has changed recently, maybe you’re in the postpartum phase and don’t recognize yourself anymore. Maybe you’re noticing that as you’re aging things look a little different than they used to, and things fit a little different too. The thing is, your body is also good and beautiful and was made to be valued and uplifted. You can look and feel your best by finding a gorgeous swimsuit that is right for your body. You deserve that!

I’d like to share a few swimsuit companies with beautiful swimwear that leaves you covered AND looking super cute. Most of these companies embrace ethical practices and a wide range of sizes, so that’s a bonus!


Roolee is a clothing brand based in Utah that sells everything from the cutest floral dresses to home items, and as of last year they began selling swim! They’re always modest while being trendy + cute.


The Hermoza

The Hermoza is a newer swim company that’s known for its elegant yet accessible swim wear. They have a lot of classic silhouettes with feminine twists as well as gorgeous colors & patterns.


Jessica Rey

Jessica Rey swimwear seeks to inspire dignity + confidence in all women through providing feminine and flattering styles for all. These suits are ethically made in LA and I’m personally a huge fan of Jessica Rey. These suits are practical and so pretty, I mean just look at those floral patterns!


Albion Fit

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably seen Albion Fit swimsuits on Instagram, and there’s a really good reason for that. They’re made to be practical, comfortable, and also modest (there’s that lovely word again) and also really beautiful + trendy with vintage inspired styles.


Also, if you’re hesitant to shop for swimsuits online you can totally stop at regular stores like Target & J. Crew and look for suits. The red one piece I got in the photo above is from J. Crew! Luckily, high waisted bottoms, sporty tops, and one pieces are all a bit more in fashion than they were a few years ago. This means you can shop for beautiful & modest pieces without having to look like the Duggars on the beach. By the way, no offense to the Duggars—I’m much more about the Grace Kelly & Audrey Hepburn classic vibes anyway.

One more thing!

If you’re looking for additional inspiration and encouragement for purchasing and wearing modest + ethical swimsuits, I’d like to share two articles with you written by a couple of my friends. The first is for the Blessed Is She Blog, written by Claire from Finding Philothea. You can find it here! Another post I love is all about the “why” behind modest swimwear, and it’s beautifully written by Lizzy from Just a Handmaiden. It’s a uniquely Catholic perspective that I had never considered until I read her post, and I’m so glad I did. You can find her post here!

Happy Summer & happy swim shopping, friends!



Faith, Family, Flowers

Merry Christmas from the Ocello’s + Some BIG News!

“For this child I have prayed, and the Lord has granted the desires of my heart.” 1 Samuel 1:27

We are so excited to share our big news with you, baby Ocello is on the way! We are about 13 weeks along and due June 17, 2019. We feel truly blessed this Christmas season. We are so grateful for the Lord’s faithfulness and for the plans He has for our growing family. 


We took these photos a few weeks ago for our Christmas cards, and it is incredible to see how much our baby has grown in just the few weeks since then! We’ve had a few doctor visits and everything seems to be going well, praise God! I’ve been feeling pretty fatigued and nauseous most days but I seem to be feeling better as time goes on. We would really appreciate it if you would pray for a safe + healthy pregnancy for the baby and I.


We’d also like to acknowledge anyone who may be in a time of suffering or loss this Christmas season. We pray that you are able to experience the peace and joy of Christ, our newborn Savior, in a special way this year. 

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

We wish you all a peaceful + fruitful Advent season and a very Merry Christmas with your loved ones from the Ocello Family! 


Counter Cultural Catholic Marriages & The Power of the Rosary

Hey there! As the month of the Rosary winds down, there’s something really exciting that we’re doing over here at Loves Jesus & America too. I teamed up with one of my friends + favorite Instagrammers, Melissa, to write a blog post, pray a virtual Rosary, and create a giveaway on Instagram to celebrate the Rosary which we both love so much.  We’re going to talk a bit about how we’ve encountered the power of the Rosary in our lives, and also what it means to be in a counter cultural Catholic marriage in today’s world. It’s been on our hearts to share about these topics that are so meaningful to us, and we hope you’ll enjoy reading about them! At the end of this blog post you’ll find information on our virtual Rosary + our giveaway because we want to connect with you and celebrate the month of the Rosary!

Before we dive in, we want to introduce ourselves + explain why we’re so excited about counter cultural marriages & the Rosary, two things that most twenty-somethings aren’t necessarily raving about.


Melissa lives in Miami Florida and is a newlywed, she got married 6 months ago! She’s a marriage and family therapist. You can find her on Instagram at @melissagracetablada. Read her thoughts on being a young and counter cultural Catholic as well as how she’s encountered the power of the Rosary below!

On being counter cultural 

If I believe strongly in something, it’s easy for me to take pride in being counter cultural. In high school a lot of my peers would ask if I wanted to smoke with them and try to pressure me into it. I loved seeing myself remain so consistent in my drive to be able to one day tell my children, “that is something I knew wasn’t good for me and it was never something I took part in”. Of course in other areas of my life I did not always have my convictions in order but that was one place where I knew what I believed and I thrived on watching my own self discipline and self worth grow as I stood firm in that belief. In college I met a man who raised the standard I had set for men, which in all honesty was very very low. For the first time I realized that unless I raised the bar for the type of men I would be in relationship with, I would have no direction and end up repeating the same mistakes and getting hurt time and time again. I prayerfully discerned that that man was not who God had planned for me but I am thankful for what he taught me about my own self worth. From then on certain members of my family, friends & peers would give me a hard time for the standards I held for men. As I went through years of singleness, I was reminded many times that if I would just be a bit more “realistic” about men I could find a boyfriend. I knew deep in my heart that God didn’t want me to settle. If I had lowered my standards, I would never have had the opportunity to meet the man who exceeded all the dreams I had and later became by husband.

On the power of the Rosary

I began praying the Rosary when I was 20 years old and for the first time in my life, found a community of regular, normal, cool, young adults who were also filled with such joy and peace that only comes from God and deeply in love with Jesus. I began praying the Rosary regularly about two years later with some very beautiful and holy friends who encouraged me to join them in a novena for our future spouses – I met mine later that same year. When I finished those 54 days I was so in love with the Rosary I didn’t want to stop so I started another 54 day novena the following day. I have never had prayers answered in such a big way where God might as held a big flashing sign in front of me saying, “Do you see how much I love you? Do you see how I answer your prayers in ways that look different than you think? When will you trust me with your whole heart?” I was blown away by the way He moved mountains during that time. The Rosary continues to bring me peace and connect me to beautiful communities in so many ways. Being involved in a virtual Rosary group with women all across the country. Being a SoulCore leader where we pray the Rosary as we exercise and connect deeper with the prayers by moving our bodies along with them.


Katherine lives on a farm in New Jersey with her husband of a little over a year. She’s an occupational therapist and in her spare time blogs right here at Loves Jesus & America too. You can find her on Instagram at @katherineocello. Read her experiences as a counter cultural Catholic & what the Rosary means to her below!

On being counter cultural

Being counter cultural is something that I became really familiar with from a young age. I went to public school for most of my life, and I felt like I was always the “church” girl. I had a large group of friends and got along with everyone, but it was definitely known that I was different. I was Catholic, I was saving myself for marriage, and I was strong in most of my beliefs. I’m grateful that I was able to become comfortable being counter cultural from a young age, because as I’ve grown in my faith I’ve realized that this will always be a part of my life. It can be really hard sometimes to go against the grain, but it is also really freeing. Whenever I struggle with being counter cultural, I look to my husband. His confidence in God, his faith, and in himself is something that I’ve always admired. I met him in high school and from early on we knew we wanted to marry each other. We prayerfully discerned our vocation while at different universities, and got married shortly after I completed graduate school. We recently bought a home & farm in New Jersey near our families in the town we grew up in, which somehow feels counter cultural as well.  We’re part of a young adult Catholic community with a lot of really great people living life in Christ, and this is something that encourages me in my life as well.

On the power of the Rosary

I’ve had a devotion to the Rosary for several years, ever since a friend of mine who is a seminarian handed me a Rosary after mass one day during college. I randomly began praying it, and it brought me immense joy. I prayed the Rosary for my relationship and marriage frequently. Dom and I started praying the Rosary together this past year, and we felt the fruits of it immediately. During Lent we prayed the Rosary together everyday, and it was then that my elderly neighbors called me and explained that they wanted to sell us their home & farm, which we had expressed interest in months prior when someone else was purchasing it. This is the home that I grew up next to, and the home that Dom always said he wanted to own. The Rosary is something that continues to be a part of my life, and even though sometimes our prayers aren’t answered the way we want them to be, I know that Mary is always interceding for me and God is always working in my life.

Now, let’s dive right in to the beautiful and exciting topics we’ve received questions about that surround Catholicism, marriage, and the Rosary.

On the secular world we live in, and being different

It can be really challenging to face the secular world we live in. Whether you’re married or not, being Catholic is counter cultural by definition. We deal with the secular world in a loving way, by praying for people who may not understand our choices and leading with a joyful example. At different times in our faith journeys, we have both felt pulled toward people who were full of peace and joy. We both learned that this comes from Jesus and from His truth. This is the best way to encounter the secular world. We are called to be a light to others, to share the truth of the gospel. We are made to be in the world, but not of the world. The best way you can do this is by loving Jesus so much that people notice we are different from those living for the world.

On saving yourself for marriage

Saving yourself from marriage is a decision that you will never regret choosing. It can definitely be challenging in today’s world, whether you are in high school, college, working, single, dating, engaged, etc. It is important to find your people! Build a community around you that will support you, encourage you, and walk with you. Some books we’ve found helpful on this topic are How To Find Your Soulmate Without Losing Your Soul, Dating Detox, Emotional Virtue, If You Really Loved Me.  We recommend looking up Jason & Crystalina Evert and Christopher West, who have really great thoughts and practical advice on this topic. When you’re entering into a relationship, be upfront about your values and set clear boundaries. Let them walk away if they aren’t willing to respect your choice. It is also important to shift your mindset from “how much can we do before we’re sinning?” to “how can I lead this person closer to God?” That’s a game changer.

Most importantly, don’t lose hope. It can be hard, but it is possible. I’d like to share a story with you that brings me so much hope on this topic. Some of the best advice I ever received was in my high school youth group. Our youth group leader gave us a witness on her dating life, and I was moved by it. I remember her words so clearly. She told us to not only find a man who is willing to wait for you, find a man who wants to wait for himself too. This rocked my world. I never thought about it like that before! I spent most of my high school years just hoping some boy would tolerate my beliefs and respect me enough to wait for me. I didn’t think there were actually boys who chose that for themselves! Just as I began feeling this was truly an impossible task, I started dating my husband. I quickly told him about my plans to save myself for marriage, and he expressed to me the same plans.

On dating with a purpose

Dating with a purpose is something that’s commonly written off today as weird or old fashioned. People immediately think of a formal courting relationship, something the Duggars do where you have a chaperone and you aren’t allowed to hold hands. This is not the case. Dating with a purpose is completely normal, the purpose of dating is to find your spouse! Do yourself a favor and reject the college hookup culture and don’t swipe right for the guy who just wants to have fun on whatever dating app you use. Dating with a purpose enables you to respect yourself, the Lord, and the person you’re dating. Give someone a chance, but don’t stay with someone who you know God isn’t calling you to marry. Saying yes to dating someone for now who you know you aren’t going to marry means saying no to the person God has created for you. Dating with a purpose doesn’t mean you need to get married in 6 months, either. This is your relationship, and you can prayerfully discern together what the best game plan is for you and your partner. A lot of people think Catholics & Christians get married younger simply so they can have sex. That’s not true! Dating with a purpose is a completely different mindset. When you know you want to spend the rest of your life with someone & you know this person is who God created for you, there isn’t a reason to wait any longer.

On Natural Family Planning

When it comes to natural family planning, we have to tell you, science is on your side friends! In addition to leading by example and sharing your own witness with people who may not understand your choice to practice NFP, we encourage you to delve into the research because it is there! No, it is not the rhythm method. When practiced correctly, NFP works. It allows a married couple to work together with each other and with God to build their family. It is extremely effective with achieving a pregnancy, and it is more effective than other forms of contraception for avoiding getting pregnant. Additionally, it can help you discover abnormalities in your health and address them in a way that is healthy for your body and soul.  Married couples who use NFP have a divorce rate of less than 5% compared to the average of more than 50%. Couples who cohabitate before marriage are 50% more likely to divorce than those who wait to live together until they are married. They also report greater intimacy and communication than those who use contraception. Some research shows that 85% of couples who cohabitate will break up or divorce by the end of 10 years. Even though all of the research on NFP is in your favor, ultimately, being a witness to the joy and fruit of your choices the best thing you can do, and it is something that no one can argue with.

We’ve included some resources for you on NFP, listed below!

On praying with your spouse

Praying with your spouse is something that can be extremely fruitful for your marriage and your lives in general. Even though prayer is often something that is seen as private, we were made for community. Each marriage and family is its own domestic church, and we are called to pray together! We get it. It can be hard to find the time, and awkward to pray out loud. We encourage you to do it anyway. Remember, none of this is supposed to be easy, or everyone would be doing it! Praying together gives you the opportunity to connect with your spouse daily on a deeper level.  It challenges you to go beyond “how was your day?” and move towards actually learning what is on their heart and what they would like to pray for. It gives you the chance to refocus your relationship on Christ, which is easy to get distracted from in our daily lives. It doesn’t have to be super long or super profound every day, but making a little sacrifice for your marriage and the Lord can really go a long way.

On Pre-Cana

We spend so much time preparing for the wedding day. Sometimes months or even years we spend planning out every last detail of the big day to make sure it fulfills all of our lifelong dreams. How much time do we spend preparing for the lifetime together that comes after the vows? The Church offers us such a gift in the marriage preparation that she provides us. While some diocese are more engaging and inspiring, and others may be lacking in many ways, there are a wide range of Pre-Cana programs that help prepare us well for the marriage that comes after the wedding day. We attended Transformed in Love and Engaged Encounter, which are both weekend retreats that covered topics such as effective communication, finances, temperaments, and so much more. We also completed the Fully Engaged Inventory which was an incredible in depth questionnaire our husbands and us took independently. After we completed the questions, another couple who has been married for many years sat down with us to talk through our areas of strength and weaknesses. This was a beautiful way to help us see the areas we needed to grow in, and then continue to work on those areas especially throughout our engagement.

Our Giveaway!

Since we’ve both experienced profound peace & joy from the Rosary, and we’re both really passionate about being witnesses to the beauty of a catholic marriage, we’re giving away a couple of items that we hope will get you excited too! Head over to @katherineocello and @melissagracetablada on Instagram to enter. We’ll be choosing two winners, each of whom will win a copy of Venerable Fulton Sheen’s Three to Get Married and a Rosary hand picked by each of us! In order to win, you will need to follow both accounts, like both photos associated with the giveaway, and tag as many friends as you’d like! We’ll be announcing the winner later in the week immediately following our virtual Rosary we’ll be praying on Instagram!




Hello there!

Welcome! I’m Katherine, the girl behind the blog. I love Jesus & America too. Freedom, faith, and family are really important to me. Oh, and my farm! My husband and I run a small farm on 10 acres of land and we’re in the process of renovating our farmhouse. Loves Jesus & America too is a little place where I share about our family, farm life, our farmhouse renovations, my faith, and fun things like fashion and food too. Can you tell I like alliterations?

I’m mama to a little girl, Gianna, and wife to my high school sweetheart, Dominic. I believe in doing small things with great love and giving glory to God in all you do. I have a bit of a sweet tooth and I’m a chocolate chip cookie addict. I’m actually on my own personal mission to find and/or create the best chocolate chip cookie recipe of all time. I live for sunshine & small town USA. I love to run, but I believe there’s nothing like driving around town with the windows down listening to country music in the summertime. I also love praying, reading, fresh flowers, and when seasons change. I’m a people person, and I hope to use this space to foster faith + friendship.

I hope to be a witness of Christ’s love, mercy, and faithfulness through my little corner of the internet. I’m humbled you’re here, and I hope you’ll stick around!