Wednesday, March 21, 2012

I Met Frank's Family!

I spent the weekend visiting Frank's family in New Jersey. There were a few little snags here and there but overall it went well.

Frank and I drove up there on Friday evening after work. The car ride was fun; we prayed the Rosary and I read some of A Severe Mercy to him. We know an engaged couple who read that book out loud to each other while they were dating and it inspired us to do the same thing. That book has led to some great conversations and we're enjoying it so far. We stopped at a rest stop for dinner, where I was amazed to discover that even a garishly lit fast-food joint filled with screaming children and grumpy parents feels lovely, cozy and romantic when I'm with him. How is that even possible? I don't know, but I sure love it!

Right before we got to his house, I started to panic a little bit. "What if they don't like me??" I asked with wide, frantic eyes. He assured me that they would love me and he promised to keep his arms around me when he introduced us. "They won't be able to help but love you," he said with confidence. I looked into his blue eyes and believed him.

Sure enough, Frank was right. I hit it off with his family pretty quickly. His sister Jenna has the exact same taste in books that I had at her age, while his brother Ethan and I bonded over a shared love for The Hunger Games and certain Pixar movies.

Frank and his family are Irish, so on Saturday we celebrated St. Patrick's Day in style. First we went to downtown New York City to see the St. Patrick's Day parade. Jenna is a talented photographer so she snapped photos of us throughout the day. Here is one of my favorites - Frank and I walking the streets of New York together after the parade:

After the parade, we went back to their house for a delicious dinner of corned beef, cabbage, and Guinness beer for the over-21 crowd. I had never liked corned beef and cabbage before but I loved Frank's mom's version. She is a very talented cook! She even cans her own strawberry jam and sweet pepper jelly for their family and friends. She sent me home with a jar of each. I've been eating the jam on toast for breakfast all week and it's out of this world. I can't wait to get some recipes from her!

During dinner on Saturday, the topic of religion came up. As you all know, I was pretty nervous about this conversation. Frank's family is Protestant but he is becoming Catholic this Easter, a decision which he made after he started dating me. But I'm happy to say that the discussion went pretty well. We stuck to fairly general topics and I was impressed with Frank's dad's devotion. I made sure to tell him what a blessing it has been for Frank to have such a good example in his life of faithfulness to God. And it really has been. Frank talks about his dad's strong faith all the time.

Frank's dad, Jenna, me and Ethan!

When religion came up with Frank's parents, I was reminded of Archbishop Fulton Sheen's words: "There are not more than 100 people in the world who truly hate the Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they perceive to be the Catholic Church." Exactly. Both of his parents explained to me, very kindly and respectfully, what their problems are with the Catholic Church. And in response, I thought, "Yes, you're describing the heresy of Pelagianism," or "You're describing the spiritual drought of the 1970s church." Neither of them described the Catholic Church as it really is and as I know it to be. So I was left thinking that we are all very spiritually compatible indeed, although I think it will take time to show them that.

On Sunday Frank and his dad went to a hockey game while I hung out with the rest of his family. We spent a lazy afternoon watching Newsies on the couch (have you seen that movie? I love it!). We also ate some of his mom's famous pepper jelly with goat cheese on crackers and I taught Ethan how to cook his favorite food: quesadillas. He was very pleased.

Frank's family lives in the most beautiful house. It's an old 1800s farmhouse that his father, a talented carpenter, bought and modernized. His mom kept the decor fairly traditional, in keeping with its history, while adding fresh elements like light, airy colors and modern amenities.

After Frank and his dad got back, we all sat in the living room together and hung out for a while. Here is a picture of me, Frank and his siblings snuggled companionably on the couch:

Isn't that cabinet lovely? Frank's dad made all the woodwork in their home. I was in awe of his abilities. And as you can see, Frank's prediction was right. His siblings got along with me very well indeed!

So, I've met his family! That's an important step, I think. I'm glad to say it went well and I can't wait to see them again. Thank you to those who were praying for us!


  1. You look so cute Tess! I'm glad you had a good visit -- meeting the family is an important step. :)

    Liz B

  2. Love! :) You look adorable!!

  3. Thank you so much, Liz and Vanessa! I'm glad it turned out well - I was really nervous beforehand. Clearly all the prayers for it to go well paid off!

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