Showing posts with label marriage. Show all posts
Showing posts with label marriage. Show all posts

From The Archives: Derek And Callie (The First Year)

( A picture from our honeymoon in Hawaii.  Is it weird that I still have that shirt?)

I might be typing this while watching a Hallmark movie and eating coffee ice cream at 9 o'clock at night.

The last couple days turned out to be all-day errand-running days, and I had no time at all to sit down and write my photo organizing post that I had scheduled for today!  I'm hoping to get caught up on it tomorrow, but for now, I thought I'd switch in Saturday's "From The Archives" post and take you all back to nine years ago on this little old blog - our first year of marriage, before babies were in the picture.  

What did I even write about then, anyway?  Mostly about newly married nothings, but I have to say, it's fun to have those posts now.  I think it will be fun for my kids too to look back on what our days were like before they were around.

So, if you want to see how much we've changed in nine years, here are a few old (really old) posts to explore!

-I started this blog up after our first major stressful marriage situation - namely the fact that Derek and I were both unemployed at the same time a mere two months after our wedding!

-A brain dump post, including pictures of Derek and I setting up our first Christmas tree.

-A 2008 recap of all major events the year we got married (I seriously didn't even remember that I did a recap post that year!).

-Proof that I have always written about books here, and also some confessions of our early marriage arguments - the "honeymoon phase" didn't last long for us, but hey, we figured out how to fight well sooner that way!

-First Easter as a married couple.

-When I discovered the wonders of Sam's Club, thanks to Derek.

-A post I wrote about what I learned in the first year of marriage - still true, but kind of cute to read now since we've been through so many harder things than unemployment since then!

-Our first anniversary gifts, and oh my goodness, there is a picture of me in my wedding dress in this post since I tried it on at my one-year wedding anniversary to make sure it still fit.  Look how skinny I was!  But did that stop me from feeling the need to explain why I had gained two pounds over the first year of marriage?  No!  Oh Callie, you were so silly back then.

A few things to note about these posts that I wrote the first year of our marriage:

1.  There are some posts with no pictures at all.  I am reminded how freeing it was to just write something without having to find a picture to go with it!

2.  I think my writing has gotten better since then.  I think.

3.  I wrote about really mundane things.  But that's what we were all doing back then!  It was glorious.

4.  Shortly after our first anniversary we went off the birth control pill, and shortly after that realized that we might have trouble getting pregnant - enter baby fever!  So it's interesting to look back on the days before we had kids on our minds.  It was a special time with just the two of us, but goodness, how much richer our lives are now!  Having our children has just made me love Derek even more. long have you been blogging, friends?  Do you have early married posts still, or am I the only crazy one who keeps these slightly embarrassing early posts up for all the world to see?

Two Dates (This Never Happens, People)

(Note: This is not actually what I wore on our date, I just am feeling lazy about taking a new photo this morning, and outfit photos seemed like a good fit for this post.)

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.


For our dates, we rely exclusively on the goodwill of our families as babysitters.  Which made me curious, does anyone hire babysitters for their kids?  If you do, I have questions.

Where did you find your babysitter?

Have you ever regretted who you hired to watch your kids or felt the need to switch babysitters?

What is the going rate these days? I'm pretty sure I can't afford it (x) four kids.

I only ask these things because I am curious, because I think it would have to be a pretty special young lady for me to feel like she could be an acceptable substitute for grandparents.

Bowling Date Night

First date night - we went bowling! (Thanks to my sister for watching the kids!)  I haven't been bowling in forever, but Derek and I have been thinking of starting a monthly bowling night for the last...three years?  We clearly can't seem to get our act together.  However, they just opened a new bowling alley in our mall, so we went to check it out.  It was so fun!  

I've determined I need to develop my bowling style though.  I always feel self-conscious when I see everyone around me (my dear husband included), bowling with such flair, and I pretty much just walk straight up and swing the ball.  Derek tells me my style is girly, but I know it's also boring!

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.)

Earrings: $0.50 at Forever21
Shirt: Francesca's
Moto Jeans: JustFab
Snap Sweater:
Bag: JustFab
Button socks: Target
Booties: A Christmas gift.

Lunch And Shopping Date

This was our early Valentine's Day date, because next weekend is Wyatt's birthday, and the weekend after that we already have plans.  So we dropped the kids off for a day with Gramie and Poppa, and went out to lunch at Macaroni Grill.  I got the lasagna, but unfortunately it was cold.  We asked them to heat it up, but I didn't finish it because then it felt soggy.  You win some, you lose some.  After lunch we walked around the mall, and Derek won his way into my heart (again), by telling me to pick whatever candle I wanted in Yankee Candle (Yankee candles may be my love language).  

I chose Meadow Showers.  I was going to pick Emerald Isle, but they only had three of those left, none of which was oily enough.  If you don't buy a really oily Yankee candle, it's just not worth the money.  But pick one with lots of oil, and it will fill an entire floor of your house with scent.

We topped off the date with ice cream at Cold Stone creamery! 

Notice The Lack Of Movies

We did not go to a movie for any of our dates, and the reason is that I am convinced Hollywood can't come up with anything worth seeing anymore.  The last three movies we went saw were a disappointment, and I just wasn't sure I was willing to risk more money on a movie I might not enjoy.  Derek and I have discussed at length what we think the problem may be, and here are a few of our theories:

1) They can't come up with anything original anymore.  So many movies lately are remakes of stories that have been successful in the past.  And they still manage to mess some of those up!  Case in point - Tarzan.  One of the several movies that have been a big old "wah wah wah" over the last year.

2) Someone in Hollywood needs to take a class on character development.  The last several movies that I've seen, one of my main complaints is that I can't seem to connect to the characters.  I don't know who they are as a person, their personalities aren't presented well, I can't see the progression of their relationships in the movie, I can't really figure out why their problems are such big problems to them personally, they aren't relatable.  In short, I don't really care about them.  And that's Hollywood's job, to make me care about the characters! Something is going awry, and I would tell them how to fix it, but then what are we paying them the big bucks for?

3) Did someone forget that there is a category called "romantic comedy"?  The last time I saw a decent romantic comedy...well no, a romantic comedy at all, was several years ago.  So many of the romantic movies that are out right now are so serious and/or depressing.  What is going on here?  It's almost Valentine's Day, shouldn't there be a wealth of this category at this time of year?  Where are all the rom coms?  Am I missing something?

Basically, we've decided that there are no recent good movies except ones that are based on true stories.  If we want to see a movie these days, it better be based on a true story, or there is a better than likely chance we aren't going to enjoy it.  

Am I the only one with current movie woes?  Have you seen anything good lately (that wasn't a true story)?

Old School Blogger Shoutout

These are a couple ladies that I've gotten to know largely through social media over the last couple years, and their blogs have become some of my favorites to read!  They share thoughtful, encouraging posts, and I'm happy to introduce them to you today.

Gina at Baby Blue Mom - Gina always has great insights and encouragements for moms, and she really inspires me to be a better hostess!  I love her hospitality tips.  She is expecting her third baby, due pretty soon!  Her husband also works at White Horse Inn, a great resource that I have been enjoying (when I have time to read something other than books for review!).

Elisha at Grateful With Two - Pronounced "uh-lee-sha"!  Elisha is homeschooling her two boys, and she is also an avid I think you see why we have become friends! She is a sweetheart, and I love reading her thoughts!

Also, a repeat shout-out to Meghan and Alex, old-school blog friends who had their babies over the last couple weeks!

What I'm Drinking: Vanilla Jasmine herbal tea.  With candy hearts, of course! (A delight for my tastebuds, a bane for my waistline.  I will not be too upset when Valentine's day is over and this temptation is out of my life.)

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!

One Way To Spoil The Man In Your Life This Christmas

(Note: This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group®  & Armor All but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #ArmorAllGiftPack

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!

(I just noticed that Derek didn't use the microfiber cloth for the tires - I think he didn't want to ruin his brand-new cloth yet!  Our tires were pretty filthy.)

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.

Have you ever cleaned your man's car for him? Do do other little things to show your husband (or father, brother, significant other) that you appreciate them?  

I'm trying to get better at doing something special for Derek on a more regular basis, so share your ideas below!

15+ At-Home Date Night Ideas

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Milo’s Tea, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #TastetheMilosDifference

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.

Are you ready for a confession?  It has been a long time since my husband and I have gone on a date.

Letters To My Daughters (A Book Review + Vlog)

5/5 stars. 

They say never to judge a book by it's cover, but I think in this case you absolutely could.  I originally picked up Letters To My Daughters: The Art Of Being A Wife by Barbara Rainey because the cover was just so pretty.  When I received it in the mail it gave me the impression of a gift book that you could give to a newly engaged or married friend.

To The Newlywed Who Is Afraid To Have A Baby

(From our maternity session with Clarice, our fourth baby.)

To The Newlywed Who Is Afraid To Have A Baby,

First, I'd like to say that being afraid to have a baby is more common than you might think.  This fear has been a recurring theme around me in the last several months.  There are many among my friends and acquaintances that I know have thought deeply about this, but I don’t want that fear to grow to an unreasonable level for them or you.  So I thought it was time to sit down and share some thoughts from a mother who can really no longer call herself “new”.

When Your Marriage Needs A Little TLC (With Grit & Grace)

(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

Your Husband Isn't Your College Roommate, And Four Other Things I Never Knew About Marriage | Through Clouded Glass

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.)

Through A Man's Eyes (A Review)

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.

This book describes in scientific, practical, and emotional terms what it means for men to be visual.  I feel like I have read a lot on this subject in the past and had a pretty good idea of what "men are visual" meant for my husband and sons, but I learned so much through this book.

"Noodles And Doodles" At-Home Date Night

Derek and I don't go on dates very often.  I know there is that whole "Go on a date night every week!" campaign, and while I like the idea, it's only a dream for us (at least right now).  When you live in a rural area, have three young kids, and are slightly paranoid about who you allow to watch your children, there is only so much you can do.

Since we don't go out all the time, I think it's fun to change up our evening routine and do an at-home date every now and then!  I recently got these Laugh Out Loud Pocket Doodles books (by Rob Elliott) in the mail, one for boys and one for girls, so we decided to do a date night surrounding doodling. 

"Noodles And Doodles" At-Home Date Idea | Through Clouded Glass

52 Uncommon Dates Review

52dates copy

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:

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(Derek always makes these funny faces when I pull out the camera!  he cracks me up.)

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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.

The Good News About Marriage Review


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.

Six Years Later - An Anniversary Letter

Last Saturday was the six year anniversary of the day Derek and I got married!  It's been the best six years of my life.  I wrote this to him over the weekend, and I wanted to share it today.

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To My Man,

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.


Confession: I'm Not A Naturally Good Wife

Last year I wrote a series called "Derek And Me" leading up to our five year wedding anniversary.  A few weeks later I wrote this post, and I'm not sure why it has taken me so long to share it.  I wrote it when my emotions were raw and I was feeling the most insecure about my wifely abilities, but I think so much of it still applies today.  I have to try hard in marriage.  It's not easy for me.  But in the end, I think my effort will be worth it.  I'm hoping those of you who can relate will find these "confessions" encouraging!


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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)

Paul recognized that he couldn't fully do right in his own power, because his sinful nature was still at work in him.  He needed Jesus to deliver him from his sinful nature, and I realize that I need that too!  I need Jesus to deliver me from my sinful nature when it rears it's ugly head in my marriage.  I won't ever be completely free of it until I reach Heaven, but I think through relying on God's help (and only through relying on His help) and keeping my focus on Him, He can help me do the good I want to do in my marriage more often.

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).

 It means I have this opportunity for growth in my relationship with the Lord, because I have to rely on Him to help me in my marriage - I can't do it by myself.

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.

The "S" Word

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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.

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(Derek and me, goofing off at our 5-year anniversary session!  This is Derek's brooding model look.  Actually I'm not sure what we were doing here, but I'm sure some joke was involved.   Derek is hilarious whenever we try to take pictures together.  It's a wonder we get any good ones.)

I can say all of this with my head as I sit here typing, but it's a lot harder in practicality.  I am a bit of a control freak myself.  I direct too much.  I demand my own way too much.  I get angry when Derek disagrees with me.  Even when I do the right thing and take the step back, I am definitely ready to jump right back in and remind him of what I said if it later becomes apparent that I was right.

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.

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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 more good insights on submission, including the biblical basis and practical encouragement, I highly recommend this book (and I'm not being paid to say that)!  I grew up with the idea of submission, and I still got a lot of new thoughts out of it, so I think it would be helpful for women of any background who want to study this subject more deeply and get a biblical perspective on it.

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!

Happy Wife, Happy Life?

Note: Just to be clear, I'm talking about the average, mentally healthy female here.  There are many women who struggle with clinical depression or anxiety, and I don't pretend that those people can just "choose" to change their attitudes or feelings.  These women may need to seek some sort of professional help to address those issues or disorders, and there is no shame in that.  This post is meant to address the rest of us who just complain too much sometimes!

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We've all heard the phrases.

"Happy wife, happy life."

"If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy."

There is certainly some truth to those statements.  Wives and mothers often do set the atmosphere for the household, and if they are unhappy, it's harder for everyone else in the house to be happy.

However, I was reading a book recently (The Happiest Life by Hugh Hewitt - read my review here), and something I read made me think of these phrases again - and about how, while they are accurate to a certain degree, they also can lead to some attitudes that might not exactly be correct.

First of all, I always hear these phrases mentioned in reference to the woman needing something to ensure that she's happy - whether that is needing "me time", needing to take care of herself, etc.  But I feel like looking at those phrases that way implies that it is up to everyone else in the household to keep her happy - and if they fail, everyone in the house should also be miserable, because if mom isn't happy, no one else can be either.

That is an incredibly selfish thing.

I think by and large people have taken the idea behind this phrase and turned it backward.  The truth is, it's not up to everyone else to keep the lady of the house happy - it's up to the lady of the house to choose to be happy.  It's up to her to choose to set a happy tone for her household.  Expecting your husband or your kids to do things to keep you happy is unfairly placing the burden onto them when it is your responsibility to create a happy atmosphere by choosing to have a cheerful attitude yourself. 

Secondly, I think these phrases overlook the second half of the equation - because a happy husband makes a much happier household too.    I'm not sure why "happy husband, happy house" isn't a phrase people say (maybe because it doesn't rhyme?), but something Hewitt said in his book made me realize that such a statement would be just as true as "happy wife, happy life."  

I feel like focusing so much on the "happy wife" phrase might make us overlook the fact that as much as we as wives appreciate (and maybe even expect) gestures to make us happy, it wold also be a good thing to think of little things we could do to make a happy husband.  His mental state affects the atmosphere in the home just as much as ours does.  And even though it is his responsibility to choose to be happy, just as it is ours, I think we can all agree that it is that much easier to choose to be happy when little gestures of love are received.  Especially from a spouse.

Bottom line - as a wife and mother, focusing on what would (or wouldn't) make me happy is not going to make anyone else's life happier.  Choosing to focus on making the lives of my family happier, through my choices about my own attitude, is what is going to lead to a "happy life".  I need to choose to have a cheerful attitude for the sake of my family . . . I need to choose to do things that will help others in my family feel a little happier as well.

Maybe it would be better (and more clear) to rephrase the statement.

"If you choose to be a happy wife, you (and your family) will have a happy life."

The beauty of it is that giving happiness to others usually comes back to make your own life happier as well - it is more blessed to give than to receive.  That applies to happiness too.

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How My Man Was Different

In honor of Valentine's Day this week, I thought I'd reflect a little bit on my first real Valentine - my husband!  


(One of the pictures from our 5-Year Anniversary session last summer!  For some reason I never got around to sharing them, so I'll scatter a few in some posts here and there in the next couple months.  I love how they turned out!)

I was thinking the other day about when we first met.   I met Derek during my first year of hygiene school.  I knew I liked him almost immediately.  I think what attracted me to him was that Derek was different from most of the boys I had known or dated before.  I was thinking about what specifically impressed me in those early days, and I thought of a few things . . .

He shook people's hands firmly.  When he first introduced himself to me, Derek shook my hand, and I liked his firm grip.  To me, that said a lot.  I just hated having a guy give me a limp, soft hand to shake.  Yuck.  There are a lot of things I know Derek will teach my boys well, and one is how to give a good, firm handshake.   

He actually asked me out.  I used to get so annoyed with guys who clearly liked me but either 1) wouldn't ask me out for some unclear reason, or 2) did that whole we'll-just-hang-out-in-groups routine.  It works for some people, but not for me - I liked knowing exactly what we were doing.  There was never that weird "is this, like, a date?" question hanging over anything.  We were going out.  On a date.  So beautifully simple.

He took the initiative.  He introduced himself to me, he asked for my phone number, he asked me out, he kept our conversations going.  I wanted a man who would take the lead, and Derek did.

He had a job.  I mean a real job, as opposed to other guys I knew who were just . . . floating.  He wasn't a career student, he wasn't going to just flit from job to job until he figured out what he wanted to do.  He had a direction, he had a career.  That was attractive to me.

He could talk to my dad.  I don't know why, but so many of the boys I knew didn't really spend much time talking to my dad.  Derek made an effort to talk to my dad when he saw him, and I loved that he showed my dad that respect.

He never left me in the dark.  There were no games with Derek - he let me know how he felt right from the start.  He held my hand, he wrote me notes, he bought me gifts, he didn't leave me hanging after a date.  The fact that there were no games being played was huge to me, and it let me know that he was serious about our relationship.  He wasn't going to waste my time.

These were just a few of the things that made me like him from the start!  There were a lot more things I liked about him (obviously, the fact that he was strong Christian, etc.), but these things made him stand out.  He was everything I wanted, the perfect fit for me.

I remember thinking at the time that the other guys I had been interested in before seemed like boys compared to Derek - without even realizing it, he had proved to me that he was a good man.  I am the luckiest girl in the world that he chose me!


On Complaining

Attitudes matter.

I keep starting and re-starting this post, because I'm not exactly sure how to say what I want to say here.  I've written before about the problem with venting and about being careful not to spout off careless words.  But this week I was reminded again of how much I stink at controlling my tongue.  And my attitudes - because the venting, careless words ultimately come from my poor attitudes.

What I hadn't thought about before was how much my bad attitudes can wear off onto those around me.  And it's becoming painfully obvious as I think over the last few weeks.

This has mostly taken the form of me over-explaining my woes to those I love, to the point where they start to get irritated for me.  Although sweet in a way, it's not good that I'm recruiting others in my life to carry my self-imposed burdens.

Most of the things I'm frustrated about or disappointed with are indeed frustrating or disappointing things.  But does that mean I have to display my frustration for all to see and to pour my burden onto someone else to the point where they start to adopt my attitudes about the whole situation?  

Something happened this past week that made it all the more obvious to me that my bad attitudes don't just affect me.  They affect those around me, especially those within my own household.  

The truth is, complaining about certain situations can make it more difficult for those close to you to remain at peace with the circumstances.  In my case, though they try to encourage me, I just won't be encouraged, and my complaining eventually changes their attitudes as well.

It's a power I never consciously realized I had - to affect the attitudes of those in my family in a negative way through my own attitudes.  I haven't been handling that power responsibly.

It's a fine line to walk - the difference between bearing one another's burdens in marriage and unnecessarily burdening one another with our complaints.  We really aren't supposed to be complaining anyway (Philippians 2:14).  Even to our spouses.

I think it would be much better to discuss situations with my spouse, take it to the Lord together in prayer, then let it go.  

It's the letting go part that is hard.  Instead I continue to sit there even after supposedly handing it over to the Lord - griping about things I can't change.  That's not helping anyone - not me, not my family.  I need to give it to Him and then stop complaining.  Just stop.

Goodness knows the psalmists did quite a bit of venting to God when they were scared or frustrated or lost.  But one thing I noticed as I was reading through some of the "complaining" psalms - once they poured out their hearts to God, they remembered God's power.  They remembered His faithfulness.  They let Him be the one to bear their burdens.


He needs to be the One I go to first - I need to give Him my burdens from the start instead of letting the default be dumping things on my family (and then maybe remembering to pray about it).  

If I'm feeling irritated or overwhelmed about something, a little private "venting" time to God would be okay I think.  

Because I can't change God's attitude, but He can change mine.  And that's what I need help with in the first place.
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