Flowers

Story of a Name: Joseph Fulton

Hi there! I love a good baby name story, so I wanted to come on here and share with you all the meaning behind our son’s name, Joseph Fulton. As Catholics, we see immense value in honoring Saints through our children’s names for several reasons. First, we believe that the prayers of that particular Saint are invoked when their name is said. Secondly, we feel this gives our children a patron, or role model, who they can look to whilst striving to live a holy life. Lastly, we feel it’s a beautiful way to honor the holy men and women who have gone before us and who intercede for us in a special way.

Joseph Fulton feels like a particularly timely name, and after much prayer and discernment, we felt God was truly leading us to this name that He had ordained for our little baby boy.

Last year, my husband Dominic and I consecrated ourselves to St. Joseph through Father Donald Calloway’s book. In completing our consecration, we learned so much about this incredibly powerful and beautiful Saint who I had never given much thought to before. We then prayed a Novena to the Holy Family, and conceived this baby shortly after. From the very beginning it felt like St. Joseph was an intercessor for this pregnancy and child. Admittedly, my husband is the one who first mentioned that this child’s name would be Joseph. Since I was very young I’ve been partial to another boy’s name, but Dominic continued to assure me that he felt God placing it on his heart that this baby’s name was to be Joseph.

So, I took this name to prayer. I similarly felt a pull toward St. Joseph during this pregnancy, but I asked God to give me a sign that this baby was to be named Joseph. Shortly after, my husband’s grandfather, a very spiritual and prayerful man, blurted out at dinner one night that this baby’s name would be Joseph. Most of the family members around the table that night don’t remember him uttering these words, but his statement struck me, and at this time we didn’t know the baby’s gender yet. We would go on to find out we were having a boy just a few days before Dom’s grandpa passed, and one of the last conversations we had with him was telling him that he was correct, this baby is a boy. He left this world being the only other person who knew what this baby’s name would be. Around the same time, Pope Francis declared it the “Year of St. Joseph” and it was yet another confirmation that the Lord gave me that this was to be our child’s name. Joseph is also a family name for us. One particular connection we have to the name Joseph is Dominic’s uncle, a carpenter, who was a strong witness in his life and whose tragic death was a catalyst for my husband pursuing his Catholic faith years ago.

His middle name, Fulton, is for the Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, an incredibly timely Saint and a dear Heavenly friend of mine. Fulton Sheen was a holy priest and televangelist who boldly proclaimed the Truths of the Catholic Church and fearlessly warned against evils like socialism and communism. My husband and I felt very called that Fulton was to be our son’s middle name, but I took this to prayer as well. I had asked God once again to reveal to me that this was the name he intended for this child. He showed me this was His will through my husband. Dominic has a Fulton Sheen rosary from Shop In Via, which was gifted to us by our dear friend Christian who founded this ministry in which he creates these incredible rosaries and also donates rosaries to the homeless. Dominic prays this rosary every day, but he had misplaced it for quite some time. We looked everywhere and couldn’t find it. Shortly after I asked God to confirm the name Fulton for me, my mother in law told us she had found Dom’s Fulton Sheen rosary in her car! I took this as yet another little sign, a wink from Heaven, and confirmation that this was the name God had planned for this child. This rosary came with us to the hospital, and we prayed on those beads the day the was born.

One last sign from God came when we decided to do a Traditional baptism for our child. In the past year, we’ve really begun to embrace Traditional Catholicism and we decided it was important for us to baptize this child in the Old Rite. Traditionally, baptisms were done very soon after the child was born. So, we contacted our parish to request two potential dates that would be dependent on his birth date. We went with the two Saturdays following my due date, which was Sunday, April 25th. These two dates happened to be quite appropriate, as the first Saturday, May 1st, is the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker, and the following Saturday, May 8th, is Venerable Fulton Sheen’s birthday! Our little Joseph will be baptized and welcomed into the Catholic Church on Saturday, May 1st, on the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker. This day begins the month of May, a month dedicated to Our Lady, and it’s also the anniversary of our consecration to St. Joseph that we completed one year ago. God consistently reminds me He is always, always in the details.

As I said earlier, both of these Saints felt quite timely for our son born in the year 2021. With a seemingly crumbling culture and a Church in crisis, their examples and their intercession are needed now more than ever. St. Joseph was a family man who lived a quiet life of service to God within the walls of his home. Venerable Fulton Sheen embraced his call to religious vocation and boldly and unceasingly proclaimed Truth whilst speaking against evils that continue to plague our society today. Joseph of Nazareth was head of the holy family and earthly father to Our Lord, Jesus. Fulton J. Sheen was an Archbishop and televangelist, a Catholic American voice heard around the world. They were from vastly different times, but each managed to change the world in their own way. Our hope is that they intercede for our son, their namesake — and for our world as well. 

Flowers

A Birth Story: Joseph Fulton


We welcomed our son, Joseph Fulton, on Saturday April 24, 2021 at 3:39 in the afternoon after what was a rather swift labor experience! He weighed 7 lbs 15 oz and was 21.5 inches long. We are so glad he’s finally here and have been praising God for the blessing of his life.

The week leading up to my due date I began feeling slight contractions each night just before bed, but they didn’t amount to much and would fizzle out by morning. I went for an appointment with my doctor on Friday morning, and found out I was slightly dilated, with my body beginning to prepare for labor! That day the doctor swept my membranes with the hopes that things would progress soon. That afternoon Gianna and I took a nice long walk just to nudge the whole process along a little bit.

Saturday morning I woke up around 5 AM with what felt like a contraction, but I didn’t think much of it. I went back to sleep, until I was woken up several minutes later by another, and then another, and another. Around 7 AM I woke Dom up and told him I thought I was having pretty consistent contractions. Shortly after, they began to intensify quite a bit. We had a nice breakfast and Dom’s parents came to pick up Gianna, so she could stay with them when we went to the hospital. Hilariously, and in typical fashion for us — Dom was landscaping and mulching the front of our house while I was inside laboring. I was timing my contractions and saw they were coming closer together, but I wanted to labor at home for as long as possible. I gave my mom a call and talked to her in between contractions. After hearing me for a little while, and noticing how close together my contractions were, she urged me to tell Dom it was time to go to the hospital. So, I did, and we went in around 1:00 in the afternoon. I was not expecting to be very far along, but when the doctor checked me, I was 8 cm! She said she thought I would be ready to push soon, which was so encouraging.

At this point, we were admitted to a delivery room. The contractions were coming close together, and they continued to intensify. What gets me through the most difficult parts of natural labor is uniting it to Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and offering the pain for specific intentions. I had a list of intentions that I brought in with me, and with each contraction I focused on what I specifically wanted to offer the pain for. I had my rosary and a crucifix with me, but I found myself closing my eyes and simply picturing Jesus on the road to Calvary before me. Scourged, bleeding, carrying His cross over his shoulders, His eyes meet mine with each contraction. Having a Christ centered childbirth has enabled me to have natural deliveries with Gianna and Joseph. I’ve found it powerful to give purpose to my pain and lean into the suffering by offering it up for specific intentions.

Last time around, I mainly experienced “back labor” with each contraction and once Gianna was born, we were told it was because she was born occipital posterior or “sunny side up” as they say. I was a little afraid Joseph would be the same way as I felt a very similar back pain this time around, but it turns out he was indeed face down, allowing for the pushing phase to go much faster and smoother.

As time went on I continued to offer up the pain as it intensified. I kept picturing Christ and walking with Him in His suffering. The nurses and doctor kept assuring us of how well we were handling labor, and how well Dom and I worked together. I have to say, there is nothing like labor and delivery to make me appreciate my husband for the man he is. He tells me he simply tries to be supportive and not annoying, but there is so much more to it than that. His presence alone comforted me, and he would physically aid me as I labored through the pain, but he kept reminding me of what we were offering it for — and I know he prays us through as well. He’s truly my rock, a steady hand, a protector, and I’m so so grateful for him.

The doctor came back in to check on us and told me I could begin pushing, so we got set up to push. At this time, everything faded away as the pain became nearly unbearable. All I can remember is calling out to Jesus for help and praying the Hail Mary with every breath I had. I broke my water while pushing (it was kind of hilarious and alarming as it flew out) and within twelve minutes, Joseph Fulton was birthed into the world and I was so relieved! What a beautiful, peaceful, powerful resurrection moment following all of the suffering that led to it.

Praise God, we were able to bring home Joseph the very next day and we are currently settling into life as a family of four! If you prayed for us, thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We felt covered in grace through this whole experience and are profoundly grateful for any prayer that was offered for us in this time!

Faith, Flowers

Living for Christ Giveaway

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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.

Flowers

Let’s Talk NFP

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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.

Flowers

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

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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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 Ocellos + 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. 

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

Flowers

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

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

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!

 

 

Flowers

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!