Derek and I went on two, count 'em two, dates last week! This is very noteworthy. I know there is that big push to do a weekly date night as a married couple, to which the only thing I have to say is - "ha!". We have four kids under the age of six. There is no possible way we could do a weekly date night.
Even though I wore something else for our date, this would be a good bowling outfit, no? Just switch the boots out for bowling shoes (I am proud to say that I actually have my own bowling shoes.)
Also, a repeat shout-out to Meghan and Alex, old-school blog friends who had their babies over the last couple weeks!
P.S An old-school blog friend, Brittany, is throwing me an Usborne book party! If you are interested in joining the Facebook party on Thursday, let me know in a comment and I'll send you the link to join - otherwise, check out Usborne books here! I'm hoping to have a post up tomorrow about my Usborne wishlist for homeschooling next year, so stay tuned!
I've been realizing lately that I need to show my gratitude for my husband a little bit more.
There are so many things that Derek does for our family. He works hard to provide for us, which allows me to stay home with our kids. He gets up with the kids every Saturday morning and feeds them breakfast while I sleep in. He spends time reading a book to the kids every night. He is a good man, a man who is committed to his family, and a man who stays.
That's not something that should be taken for granted in a world like ours, where those last three things are not easy to find.
I've been trying to think of little things I can do for Derek to let him know that I've been thinking about him. It doesn't have to be anything big, but just small things to show him that I see him, that I see what he does for our family every day, and that I know that he's a catch. I want to spoil him a bit more with everyday luxuries.
I know many of you are married to good men too - and even if you aren't married I would hope for you that you have a dad, brother, or other man in your life who is there when you need them. Can I encourage you to expend a little effort to let them know that you see what they do every day and are thankful for them? It's an especially fun time of year to think of fun surprises with Christmas right around the corner!
And that leads my to a little suggestion, if you aren't sure where to start spoiling the man in your life...start with his car!
I happen to be married to someone who is really into cars in general, but even if your guy is not, I think everyone appreciates riding around in a sparkling, beautifully detailed car. Derek has actually asked me in the past for car cleaning supplies because he like the process of detailing his car and showing it off afterward. I was excited to find the Armor All Car Care Gift Pack to give to him - I was sure he would love it!
You can find the Armor All Car Care Gift Pack in the automotive center at Walmart (that's where I got mine - and I've even got a coupon for you! Take advantage of the $3 off digital coupon offer for the Armor All Car Care Gift Pack from Walmart, while supplies last!
The kit is a complete car-cleaning kit, at a really great value. When I gave the Armor All Gift Pack to Derek, he opened it up and was so impressed with all the products that come with it! We were excited to try them out on his car - and he gave me a little run down on how to properly detail a car using the products in this gift pack.
So now, I pass the knowledge on to you, in case you want to take it up a notch and also surprise your man by cleaning his car for him (I didn't go that far, because Derek actually enjoys cleaning the car himself, and he is better at it than me!). What better way to spoil the men in your life with an everyday treat like a sparkling clean car?
Step One: Remove any clutter or trash from the car.
This probably goes without saying, but I'm trying to be thorough.
Step Two: Wipe down the interior glass with Armor All Glass Wipes.
These glass wipes are a no-streak, no-residue formula, which is fantastic.
Step Three: Wipe down the dashboard, upholstery, steering wheel, etc, with the Armor All Cleaning Wipes.
Can I just say how convenient these are too? I'm pretty sure Derek is going to keep these in the car for touch-ups as things get dirty on the go!
Step Four: Apply Armor All Original Protectant to dashboard, steering wheel, etc.
This keeps vinyl, rubber, and plastic surfaces shiny and clean and helps prevent cracking, discoloration, or premature aging! It's the finishing touch.
Step Five: Vacuum the floor and seats.
Derek does this after cleaning the dash so he can vacuum up any dust or crumbs that might fall on the floor.
Step Six: Wash the exterior of the car with the Armor All Wash and Wax.
This stuff washes and waxes in one step, and the Armor All Car Care Gift Pack even includes a sponge and microfiber cloth that are easy on the surface of your car, so you don't even have to worry about buying those seperately! This product helps protect the surface of your car and keeps it shiny. Derek tells me the waxing helps dirt and water not stick as much too, which is especially useful for keeping the car shinier in the winter, with all the snow and mud.
Step Seven: Focus on the tires.
This Gift Pack comes with two tire products - the Quicksilver Wheel And Tire Cleaner, and Extreme Tire Shine Spray (which keeps your tires that rich black). I was very impressed with these products. I watched Derek clean the wheel with it, and it made it look practically brand new!
Tip: The bucket included with the Armor All Car Care Gift Pack is perfect to fill with warm water for washing the exterior, especially in the winter when hoses aren't an option! Then you can store the products back in the bucket when you are done!
Derek has tried a few different car detailing products over the years, and he is really impressed with the Armor All Car Care Gift Pack and how well all the products worked! It was almost a little mini-date for us to clean his car together, but if you are trying to surprise your guy and clean his car yourself, the Armor All Car Care Gift Pack has everything you need in one bucket! If your guy is like mine and likes to do the cleaning himself, this pack would make an excellent gift too! I'm keeping it in mind for my dad and brother, because this would make a great gift for them too.
The bottom line is that our guys deserve to know that they are loved and appreciated, at Christmas and all through the year. The Armor All Car Care Gift Pack is just one idea for something we could use to surprise them and let them know that they are better-than-ordinary and irreplaceable to us.
One of my favorite things to do in the summer is to sit on the porch with Derek in the evening. As the winter months come to a close, and the air turns warm, I am so looking forward to spending some time together as a couple outside. The evening air is gorgeous in the mountains. I have visions of sitting on the porch together, listening to the hummingbirds whizzing by, talking and drinking iced tea.
(One of my favorite pictures ever of Derek and me, taken at our maternity session with Clarice. Derek thought the pose was awkward, so he stuck his nose into my cheek and sniffed, which made me crack up laughing. We are that couple. Also, you see where Clarice gets her nose-scrunching.)
Last week I admitted that I watch the Bachelor, and I told you the main reason why. Do you want to know one of the secondary reasons? All that ooshy-gooshy stuff reminds me of the days when Derek and I were the ones with the shining eyes that go along with young love.
Your Husband Isn't Your College Roommate (And 4 Other Things I Never Knew About Marriage) | A Guest Post
Cards on the table: I don’t write this post as a sage, old, married woman. My husband and I are inching closer to our three year anniversary; a lifetime to go and countless lessons more to learn. Even still, if you’ve been married for over 24 hours you’ll know that this sacred union isn’t easy. Sometimes it’s downright hard. Difficult. Devastating. Sometimes marriage drives you to consuming a tub of ice cream alone on your couch, watching Love, Actually and wondering, “Why doesn’t he act like that?” (A purely hypothetical situation, you understand.)
If you are like a lot of women, you have heard for most of your life that "men are visual". But do you really know what that means? After reading Through A Man's Eyes by Shaunti Feldhahn and Craig Gross, I suspect that most women have no idea the extent to which men and women's brains are wired differently. There is no way we can actually know what our men go through as visual creatures since most women have no real frame of reference.
I will be the first to admit that Derek and I are horrible about having "date night". We don't get out very often (once every few months maybe?), and when we do we usually just go see a movie. So when I had the opportunity to review 52 Uncommon Dates from Moody publishers, I decided to jump on it, hoping to get some inspiration for going on more unique dates.
This book did not disappoint! The book starts with an introduction from Gary Chapman on the importance of continuing to date your spouse, and then it jumps right in to the date ideas. Some of these dates are things that I might have thought of before, but most of them are things I don't think I would have ever come up with.
What I liked about each date idea was that they were each geared toward helping you connect with your spouse or significant other on a deeper level, emotionally and spiritually. Discussion questions that have to do with the theme of each date are included, along with ideas for praying together before and after your date, ideas for incorporating your spouses love language into the date, and Bible verses you can look up related to the themes. The book was very much geared toward Christian couples and strengthening not only your relationship with each other, but also pointing you both toward God through the process of dating. That was pretty great, I thought.
I found that a lot of the dates were also flexible enough to adapt for a couple with young kids - which is nice, I think, because we can't always get a babysitter (which is probably why I can count on one hand the number of dates we have been on this year). I liked that we could probably include the kids on a lot of these dates and still have a good time reconnecting with each other! So Derek and I decided to do a jigsaw puzzle date over Labor Day weekend, inspired by the book. Here we are:
I think this is a fun book for any Christian married couple, and it will challenge you to date more creatively and think of ways to not just have fun together but also to include the Lord in your dating process. Definitely check it out!
Note: I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher in exchange for this review - this is my honest opinion.
I'm sure you've heard the statistics that the divorce rate is 50%, and that this number is the same between Christians and non-Christians. But what if that wasn't really true?
When I read The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Couples, this book, The Good News About Marriage by Shaunti Feldham was referenced, and I was intrigued. I put it on my to-read list next.
In this book, Felham evaluates existing studies to try to determine what the actual divorce rate is - and her findings are surprising and encouraging.
For one thing, she finds that the actual divorce rate is not 50%, and it never has been. The actual numbers are probably closer to 30%. And what about the argument that divorce rates are the same inside the church? It turns out that much-quoted fact is actually based on a misunderstanding of some data - and that among those who attend church weekly, the divorce rate is 27% lower.
I found the numbers and statistics in this book really interesting. I have never thought to myself "I have a 50% chance of not getting divorced", because I know Derek and I are both committed to being married until we die, so divorce has never been an option for us. However, I'm sure there are a lot of couples out there that have been discouraged by the 50% statistic that is thrown about so carelessly, so I think this book would be really encouraging to many couples when they realize that number is not accurate!
I would say that I never internalized those faulty statistics in the past, so learning the new statistics wasn't necessarily life-changing to me personally - but, I was encouraged to hear those numbers in respect to defending and encouraging the institution of marriage! It turns out that the divorce rate is much lower overall than people have said, and the majority of couples are happy in their marriages - and I found that really encouraging to me when I think of society as a whole.
I will say I was a little annoyed at the repeated mention of people who married at younger than 25 and baby boomers as being higher-risk groups for divorce. I got married before age 25, as did most of my friends, and my parents happen to be baby boomers, so I guess I took those stats more personally. I felt like focusing on and comparing the stats of the "higher risk" groups to "low risk" groups could actually be discouraging to people who are in the higher risk groups, and as a result I felt a little excluded from some of the "good news" that Feldham was trying to present. Considering her main goal seemed to be to encourage people about their marriages, I was a little frustrated that her references to those who married young seemed to be more negative than positive. Personally, I would like to see stats on how many of those young marriages ended before year five of marriage, and how the divorce rates of "high risk" groups are affected by things like church attendance, but my guess is that this kind of data isn't currently available.
Regardless, I'd say this book is worth a read, whether you are married or not. It will make you think about divorce statistics in a different way and look more critically at some of these statistics that are so often quoted.
Note: I received this book for free from Blogging For Books in exchange for this review. This is my honest opinion.
Today was our six year anniversary. I can't believe we got married six years ago! I can still picture you standing in front as I walked down the aisle. You were grinning from ear to ear.
We went to my cousin's wedding today and we were gone all day since I was in the bridal party. I know we didn't get to go out on a date, but I'm thinking going to a wedding was actually a perfect way to celebrate. As I watched the bride getting ready and fussing with her hair, I remembered how I felt six years ago when I was getting ready to marry you. During the ceremony, I was remembering how exciting it was when the pastor announced that we were husband and wife. As we threw rose petals at the happy couple, I remembered us jumping in the car and driving off into our life together.
I was looking at some of our wedding pictures the other day - what babies we were! We have come so far since then, haven't we? We've learned that every day isn't a fairy tale, and life will throw you curve balls. We're no longer that same starry-eyed young couple, but the years have served to show me that I really did hit the jackpot when I met you. I love you more today than I knew I could then.
During the reception they played our song. As Ingrid crooned about wise men and rivers rushing to the sea, I grabbed your hand and we danced - one child squished between us, one holding my other hand and swaying back and forth to the music. About halfway through I had to pull away and take care of the third little one, crying from his car seat. But I made it back in time to sing my favorite line into your ear.
Some things are meant to be.
I love you with all my heart.
A few weeks ago I wrote my last couple posts in my Derek and Me series, about our wedding vows. I published them, and then a few days later I started second guessing what I wrote, and I took them down and tweaked them a bit before republishing them. I didn't majorly changed them, but the incident made me think about exactly why I felt self-conscious about what I wrote. And I realized one of the reasons I don't write marriage posts that often is because I feel a little insecure in this area.
When I thought it through, I realized that I'm insecure because I feel like a failure more in the role of being a wife than in any other role that I occupy. I know I'm a good mom, a good hygienist, a good friend, daughter, etc.
But I don't really feel like I'm a good wife.
Paul's words in Romans 7 resonate with me right now:
"I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do, but what I hate I do. . . I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do - this I keep on doing." (Romans 7:15, 19)
That's how I feel in my role as a wife. I know what kind of wife I want to be. I know the good I should do. But instead I just keep on doing what I don't want to do.
I'm hard to live with. I'm bossy. I get irritable, I get snappy, I say things I know I am going to regret. And I hate it. I want so bad to do good for my husband - to be a fun, happy, understanding wife, someone he comes to when he needs a break from the world. I want to be a good wife. But instead I act like someone I wouldn't even want to be around, and I don't know why.
I think being a "good wife" comes naturally for some women in their marriage relationships. But it doesn't come naturally for me - in the area of my marriage, my sin nature wins more often than I like to admit. Marriage is hard, not because of Derek at all - he is so understanding and sweet. It's hard because I have such a hard time doing what I know is right in the context of my relationship with Derek.
C.S. Lewis said in Mere Christianity that you don't really know how bad you are until you really try to be good. Because you will fail, and you'll see how badly you fail. You can't do the good you want to do without God's help.
I think maybe this isn't easy for me because this is an area that the Lord wants me to practice leaning on Him. Because I already know that when I try to get better by myself, I fail miserably. Paul goes on to say this:
"For in my inner being I delight in God's Law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war agains the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!" (Romans 7:22-25)
And you know, I think because this is an area that is harder for me, in the end I'll get more rewards in Heaven through my struggle to be a good wife than a woman who is naturally a good wife.
Everyone has their areas in which they struggle, and though a naturally good wife may not have to struggle to do good in her marriage, she might have to struggle in another area - and she will get her rewards for persevering in whatever that may be. But for me, it gives me hope to think that just because I'm not as naturally good at being a wife as someone else, it doesn't mean I'm a failure.
It just means that I have more opportunity for rewards in this area if I continue on and persevere.
It means I have an opportunity for character development, because perseverance develops character, and character develops hope (Romans 5:3-4).
And it gives me more opportunity to know of God's grace - because I am so aware of my failings in this area, it makes it that much more aware of how much I need Him. It makes me realize how amazing it is that the Lord would be willing to save me and love me, wretch that I am. Only when I realize how much I need Him can I truly appreciate what He did for me on the cross! Those who are well (or think they are well) do not need (or don't think they need) a doctor. Those who are sick and know it are the ones who realize how much they need a doctor and appreciate Him that much more.
These are the thoughts that keep me trying, even when I feel like a failure. I'm not sure it'll ever be easy for me to show Derek love the way I know I should. But I think the Lord smiles when He sees me turning to Him for help and just trying. And the thought that I might please Him through my attempts, as well as make my marriage better? That makes it worth all the effort.
I like baths more than showers. Normally my bath time routine involves filling up the tub with the hottest water the spout will give me, soaking and reading for a while, then blow drying my hair. Then I either watch something short on Netflix or listen to a podcast while I straighten my hair (if you haven't guessed, I have to work this in while the kids are napping!). It's my "me-time", my favorite way to relax.
The other day after I finished drying my hair I decided to listen to a Focus On The Family podcast, and they opened the program with the question "What do you think of when you think of submission?" Some women came on and talked about masters and servants, being a doormat, and one woman talked about Christ submitting to the Father, but she didn't like the way it applied to marriage as much. I paused the podcast for a minute and thought through my own "definition" of submission, and this is what came to mind:
I think submission means being willing to take a step back and let your husband be the leader.
This is going to look differently and vary in difficulty depending on the situation, and I'm also not going to pretend that there aren't men that sometimes abuse this concept (which is probably why this is such a sticking point for so many Christian women).
There are a few things I think submission does not mean. I don't think submission means that you never state your opinion. Being a submissive wife doesn't mean you have to roll over and be a doormat. It doesn't mean you do something morally wrong or questionable in an effort to be submissive. It doesn't mean your husband controls your every move. It definitely does not mean you remain in a dangerous or abusive situation in an effort to "submit".
As for what I do think submission means - I think when this aspect of marriage is done right, the wife and husband are both able to discuss and express their thoughts on a situation, and the husband will listen to what his wife has to say. A man who loves his wife and who is wise will not dismiss his wife's thoughts or disregard her feelings on a matter.
For the wife, submission means being willing to let go - not always insisting on having things "her way". It means actively letting her husband lead the family, even in those times when she disagrees, even sometimes when the husband may not be handling the situation in the best way.
Submission doesn't mean that marriage is not a partnership - both people's opinions do matter, and options should be discussed! But no organization works well without a head. If a business has two presidents and the presidents disagree on a big decision, things could get ugly pretty quickly. The business might split. There has to be a head leader, the one who makes the final decision when not everyone is in agreement. As Christian wives we are called to step back and let our husband be in that position. He'll be the "president" of the family. It doesn't mean the wife's thoughts and opinions don't matter, but the "business" of the family needs an official leader, someone who has the final say. There can't be two "heads" if things are going to run smoothly.
This isn't easy! I think it's a natural tendency for a lot of women to want to control things (especially our husbands). The Bible even tells us that women will struggle with this. We want that control, and that's why submission is so hard.
I am not "good" at submission - I'm still working on it, but I want to improve because I want to obey God here. I want to make Him proud of me. When I let my husband lead, without any ulterior motives, without trying to manipulate or control things, without looking for my chance to show the superiority of my position later, I think God smiles down at me.
I think it's important to also recognize that submission doesn't just involve your relationship with your husband. It involves your relationship with God. He is the one who tells us that the man should be the leader of the family.
For some reason the culture has us thinking that it is a sign of weakness to be the one to concede the point, the one to "give in" when there is a disagreement. I would beg to differ. I think it takes a pretty strong, secure woman to realize that God has organized the family this way for a reason. When we allow our husbands to lead, we are ultimately not choosing to "obey" our husbands - we are choosing to trust and obey God.
That is not weak. That is brave. It is strong. Even though it might be scary, and things might not always turn out like we want, God will reward us in the end for following His word when it comes to submission. I don't know about you, but I want my reward, and the thought of that is what keeps me trying to do better. I think those treasures in Heaven will be worth not getting my way sometimes while I'm here.
For all you Christian ladies out there, is this an area in which you struggle? What has helped you with the idea of submission? I'd love to hear your thoughts!
So I have a confession. I've been watching the Bachelorette.
That's a confession because after watching the Bachelor and learning that they have overnight dates I was sure I would never watch the show again. And I still think that's pretty horrible. I suppose it's reflective of where our culture is, but to include it as part of a TV show? I still don't like it.
But back to topic. I think with Derek being here and then gone so much, I just needed something to look forward to during the week, and so I got sucked in again. I'm still evaluating if this is okay or not.
So I watched this last season. And I watched the finale last week. There was one thing that stood out to me.
In the "After The Final Rose" show, Chris was talking about when he felt confident that Desiree's feelings for him were the real deal, and he mentioned that moment when she told him he was the greatest man she'd ever known.
I watched his face when he said it. He absolutely lit up. And then I wondered - when was the last time I told Derek he is the greatest man I've ever known?
I think every girl tells that to the man she marries in one way or another while they are dating or engaged. That is a time when you are in love and carefree, when everything is fresh and new and exciting, when you want to say everything you are feeling because you are so in love.
Then after the wedding things settle down. This isn't a bad thing. You figure out who you are together as a couple, you get into a rhythm, and your love grows less heart-pounding and flighty, and more steady and deep.
But in the midst of this deepening, I think it's easy to forget that your man still wants that affirmation. He still needs to know that you think he's the greatest man in the world. He fell in love with you when you looked at him with adoration and told him how wonderful he was at everything, told him how brilliant his ideas were, told him how great he was.
I think seeing Chris's face light up on the show reminded me of that time of early love in my relationship with Derek. It made me think. I know even more about Derek now than I did then, the good and the bad. And I still think that he's the greatest man I've ever known.
I want to make his face light up like that again.
It was a good reminder to say the things that I sometimes assume Derek already knows. Because he still needs to hear it.
Maybe these shows aren't completely worthless after all.