Friday, January 31, 2014

Tights are Not Pants

It's Friday.  ThankyouJesus.

I just like Fridays.  And weekends.  

And I blogged 12 times this month, which is the most in lots and lots of months.  

And tomorrow...January is OVER.  And February is short and March is basically spring, even if it's still cold and snowy here, I will put my winter coat away.  

Ya Hoo!

And a friendly reminder for this weekend, and every day always:  Tights are not pants.  Either are leggings.  Cover the tush.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Unoriginal is the New Original

I've been perusing Pinterest to distract myself from winter.  It sorta helps.  And it gives me lots of ideas to create...and by create I mean copy.  And all that's required after that is sweet talking the husband into hanging an awkward & heavy basket shelf thing.

So I made a coffee station.  

The printable is courtesy of Pinterest as well.  Click here for your own!

And if you were thinking that my coffee pot looked sad and lonely all by itself then you read my mind.  Ben and I have decided we *need* an espresso machine.  And french press.  And then then coffee station will be complete.  

Also, I would like a 24 cup coffee maker.  Bigger is better. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Is it Over Yet?

Sorry for the silence.  I've been busy moping around about the Polar Vortex that I'm living in.  

January is not my favorite month.  It's not even in the top 12. *cough*  But there's only three days left and I will survive.  

I gave myself a pep talk this morning...but I wasn't impressed enough with it to actually be peppy.

There are some good, very good, things going on this January.  The weather is not one of them.  

  • Something I've been praying for, for almost a year:  Happened.  Yay!  One of those situations where I've been praying, but "feeling" like that it would never happen...and then it does and I sit back in awe as God says to me, "Look what I can do!"  
  • It's not crazy like December.  Bonus.
  • People I love have January birthdays and that is good.
  • The cabin fever has made me organize, and paint, and rearrange furniture.  I'll have to get you pictures.  Eventually. 
  • My husband and I have a little get-away planned, and that is good. :)  
  • We are definitely getting an espresso machine.  And french press.  
  • January is almost over. 
That's all I can think of.  My brain is frozen.  I just keep drinking pots of coffee to stay warm.

Stay warm people.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

A Winner & A Journey...

Amy H is the winner of the Made to Crave book!  Thanks so much to all of your for commenting!

God made us to crave...only we crave the wrong things so much of the time.  Filling ourselves with any form of meaningless junk that we can get our hands on when instead we could go directly to the One who created us and knows our deepest longings and needs.  

And sometimes the things we crave are good, spiritual things.  But if we crave them, more than we crave Him we end up in the same empty spot.

Learning to crave Him most is hard.  Very hard.  Logically, it shouldn't be so hard.  But sin has no logic.  Ever.  

So the journey continues...

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A Giveaway

It's been a long while since I did a give-away on the blog.  A very long while. 

I bought an extra copy of this book that I previously mentioned here.  So, it's time to share.

I've read it before, and now I'm working my way through it again since we are studying through it at our Ladies Bible Study.  

It's about food and

It's SUPER easy to register for a chance to win it.  Just leave a comment telling me (us) what you crave.  One word is fine.  

For another chance to win, you can head on over to my facebook page and leave a comment there as well.  And while you're there, go ahead and "like" the page and you can follow me via facebook, if you're not already.  Granted, I'm as exciting there as I am here *yawn* but still, just do it. 

If you already have a copy, no worries, register and get an extra copy to give to a friend.  Or to any enemy.  Or a stranger.  Whatever.

I'll enter everyone in and draw a winner on Friday.  Which means I'll make my kids write out your names and cut them into slips and draw them out of a bowl.  We are scientific like that.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Books That Help

So we've been talking marriage.  And by "we" I mean me...talking to myself in internet land.  How fun.  

The Book List:

There are a million good books on marriage out there.   We've read quite a few really good ones.  This list is just what  I have read and loved.  They are the ones I most often recommend.  If you've read any that you have found helpful, then leave a comment and let everyone know!  

Hedges by Jerry B. Jenkins - Super good.  Every marriage needs to have boundaries to protect it.  Practical advice & it's short (if that helps:)

Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas - Digs deep into God's purpose for marriage.  It will hurt your feelings and tell you to get over yourself because it's not about you.  And if you'll let God root that deep in your heart, your marriage will be transformed.  

Love & Respect - by Dr. Emmerson Eggerichs - He breaks down the idea that women need/want love from their husbands, and husbands want/need respect from their wives.  Sounds simple...but we tend to give what we want to receive. If a husband does not feel respected by his wife, it's as if she's saying "I don't love you." God has designed our hearts and minds to work differently.  Eggerichs uses Scripture to help understand this.  Really, really helpful.

Real Marriage by Mark & Grace Driscoll - I love this one because it focuses a lot on the importance of friendship.  God has led them to minister in the grittiest part of peoples lives and marriages, and the wisdom they share from that is priceless.  

It doesn't matter if  your marriage is great, mediocre, or can benefit from these books.  

Couple of things first:  The only person you can change is you.  I know, that's terribly disappointing.  It's way more fun to point out other people's shortcomings and then tell them how they should change them.   What's also disappointing, is that you (and me) need to read books asking God to reveal to us the condition of our own hearts, and then ask for His help to take the hard, hard steps necessary for change.

I know not many wives have husbands who love to read.  Especially these kinds of books.  I think all four of these have study guides that you can get and work through together.  It can be less intimidating that way and it definitely opens up some opportunities to discuss hard things that might not just "come-up" in conversation.   

It is worth the effort.  :)

Monday, January 20, 2014

Marriage Part Dos

I'm talking marriage again today.  If you missed part uno, you might wanna go back and read that first.  

So many areas of life are not hard in the knowing, but in the doing. There are genuinely times when I don't have a clue what I'm doing.  But most of the time, 99% of the time, I have trouble in doing what I know.   

Marriage is one of them.  Why would I, or any of us, stop doing what we know benefits our marriage and start doing something else?  

Because we're terribly, awfully: Selfish.  And if you say you're not...then you're also a liar.  Because you are.  And so am I.  

And that selfishness is the prime reason we stop doing what we know we should.  And if you're particularly good at selfishness (which I am, so I know this) you've got some super-logical-justified reasons behind doing what you're doing or not doing what you should.   

So I said I'd share my one-and-only-devotional.  Again, that makes me laugh.  I cut/pasted...mostly cutting out my awkward introduction.  

 It's super long by my blog standards.  But in real life Italkprettyfast so...just read really fast, ok?  Or, you could read half and then take a nap and finish later.  I'm super helpful with suggestions today.

The Four Musts of Marriage (I'm kidding, it didn't really have a title)

   We know how hard it is to actually live out some of those good things we know.   And we all know that there’s just some things you only learn by living them out.   But the truth is also that no matter how long we’ve been married, there is always something new to learn, or something we need to be reminded of, or an area where God desires to bring conviction, repentance, and ultimately restoration. 

I came across a question recently that asked  something to the effect of “Who are the married couples in your life that you desire to be like?”  In other words, who in your life are you able to see do –life together and genuinely love each other and enjoy each other in a way that makes you say, Hey!  I want to be like them?  We’re not talking perfection, because that’s not possible when you’re dealing with sinful humans...but we are talking about people that seem to have a love and a one-ness that is supernatural.  It’s a hard question.  It’s one of those lump-in-your-throat questions if we ask it of our own marriage.  What does our own marriage preach of Jesus?   Because our marriages preach.  They do.  First to our children, and then to our extended families, our church families, our communities.  They preach. 

So, in case I haven’t  already made it painfully obvious, what I want to share today is not just for the bride, but for all of us, that we may all examine our lives before God’s biblical standard and His desire for us and see where we are thriving, and where we may need God’s help in improving…which is ultimately for His glory.  And please hear me when I say this isn’t a call for you to try harder and do better, but  rather that we would humbly submit ourselves to what God desires and ask Him to be the one that enables us to accomplish it.

Ok, so I said before that I read.  A lot.  Which pretty much means I’m not sure I ever have an orginal thought anymore.  So the list I’m going to give you is a mish-mash of all the reading…smooshed down and abbreviated into 4 bullet points for your discernment.  It’s not stuff I came up with on my own.  It’s not fluffy or cute…because I’m all about the practical, and what works. 

 It’s common-sense basic stuff.  It’s also mixed in with life, from 15 years of my own marriage as well as the fact that  I’m a pastor’s wife…which means that people often allow me to see into their lives from behind-the-scenes and journey through the mess with them, so to speak.  And what I’ve learned, is that while each marriage is unique…it’s also not unique at the same time.  Same problems – different details. 

   Let’s break it down. 

1 – Know Jesus.  And I mean know Him.  As in Personally.  And make Him #1.  Above you, above your  husband, and above your children (future children).   Have a saving knowledge of Him (and if you’re not sure what I’m talking about ask me or someone later) Know Him with your head, (His Word) and know Him with your heart, and by that I mean have a desire worship Him, follow Him, obey Him.  In a Bible study that I’m doing, I recently heard the speaker say, “If you are comfortable with the amount of Jesus you already have…then you should be concerned.”  Why?  Because the question reveals to us the condition of our heart.  If we are content with having “enough Jesus” then maybe He  is not really our Lord, but rather a pleasing “addition” to our American Dream Life. 

How does this help a marriage?  Well, God created us.  And marriage.  So it only reasons that we would want to know the creator of it and then do what He says works in regards to it.  Marc Driscoll says in his book Real Marriage, “The goal, center, and purpose of marriage is not self, spouse or children.  The ultimate goal of marriage and family is the glory of God.  Only when marriage and family exist for God’s glory – and not serve as replacement idols – are we able to truly love and be loved.”

It really doesn’t have to be complicated.  Are we always going to like what God says to do…like be submissive?  Are we always going to feel like putting our husband above ourselves?  No.  Is it hard?  Yes.   Is it impossible?  Without God, 

 I’m not sure that anything in life reveals to us how selfish we are like marriage does.  (And parenting reveals how impatient we are, but that’s for a different devotional)  Back to my point.   It is said that Our spouses do not change us, as much as they reveal  us.  

And here’s where the gospel comes in.  We need the Holy Spirits power to overcome ourselves.  In life, and especially in marriage, we cannot possibly hope to live it out the way God has designed by trying to do it on our own.  We cannot muster up enough will power to be a great wife…it has to come from God’s equipping and empowering…which calls for a reliance on Him.  Christ through us.

What does that look like?  How does that play out?  We each, husband and wife need to have our own spiritual life.  No one can increase our faith for us.  It needs to be growing individually and together simultaneously.  Be a student  of God’s word.  Study it and talk about it.   And when you learn from it, ask Him to enable you to act on it.  Do not simply absorb it.  Be a doer of it.  James 1:22 says  But don't just listen to God's word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.

Place God as priority one.  Don’t squeeze Him out.  Husband’s and wives love each other best when they do not make idols of one another.  Our husbands are created to meet some of our needs, but not all of our needs.   Only one can meet ALL our needs, and that is Christ alone.  Pray for your husband and with your husband.  Worship together.  Serve together.  Tithe together. 

And all of that can sound like a to-do list, and sometimes our inner pharisee wants to make it a to-do list, if I check off all these things then yay for me, I get a good marriage!  But it doesn’t work like that.  God doesn’t work like that…I know, I’ve tried.   All of those are really heart issues…they reveal our hearts and require God’s  power to overcome.

2 – Be friends.  Be best friends.  Like each other.  When we are best friends, we enjoy each other’s company.  We listen.  We speak lovingly and respectfully.  We laugh.  We disagree, but we know whose side we are on.  We take turns doing what the other person wants, even if we think it’s super boring (ie I need to take up golfing) We make light of things, we give grace.  We look at our own sin and weaknesses and plank-filled eyes before scrutinizing our husband.  We laugh at ourselves and gain some perspective.  Friendship makes marriage fun.  Be friends.

3- Build Hedges.  And by that, I mean boundaries.  One of our favorite books  that we use often when counseling is called Hedges, Loving Your Marriage Enough to Protect it, by Jerry Jenkins.   And we love it so much because so many couples we come across have no hedges!  And you need them…we’ve seen the tragic results of what happens without them. 

Hedges  are not a sign of a weak marriage, but of a strong one.  Jerry says “I have planted hedges around myself to protect me, my wife, my family, my employer, my church, and supremely, the reputation of Christ.”  So much of life seeks to tear marriages apart, it happens all around us to believers and non-believers alike.  If we think we are in a position that it would never happen to us, then we are also in the position of deceiving ourselves. 

Our marriages are often most vulnerable when our guards are completely down.  Hedges do not mean paranoia, they are wise…they really are loving your marriage enough to protect it.    We need to examine ourselves and our spouses and then set the hedges  in place.  Hedges help us to live above reproach, which in todays society is almost unheard of.  

So what do hedges look like?  Every marriage is going have different hedges, some will be higher and deeper than others.  I’ll give you a personal example…for Ben and I, we have made it a point in our marriage that there are just certain things we do not do.  Neither of us has good friends of the opposite sex, someone we confide in or complain about life to, because that’s what we have each other for ;)   And at different stages our marriages need us  to evaluate to see if the hedges need adjusting.  For example, when Ben became a pastor, we added to our hedges because now ministry was involved.  So, when there is a woman that needs counseling, I do that, or we do it together but never him alone.  Why?  Because it enables him to live above reproach.  It isn’t a trust issue, but a safety issue.  And, your hedges will be tested, because our culture sees them as trivial.  But our culture has also shown us the results of having no hedges.  Protect your marriage against the enemy…because he is seeking to destroy them. 

4- Communication.  It’s a big one.  We all know communication is important.  In fact I heard recently that couples that have divorced site a lack of communication as the primary break down of the relationship.  That’s ironic to me, because communication is something we can do.  Poor communication or a lack of communication does not just “happen” to a couple, it is a deliberate act on the part of both spouses.  

Learn how to communicate with your husband.  There are some basic principles, like being clear on your thoughts and feelings.  Avoid stonewalling, silent treatment, yelling, blaming, etc.  But there are also unique ways that each married couple communicates with one another, take the time to figure those out.  Communication is one of those things (kind of like parenting) where you can read a book, get a bunch of insight on what to do and what not to do and it seems totally do-able and reasonable.  And then real life happens and our husband says something totally insensitive.  Or we disagree with his decision, or we are annoyed at his lack of *fill in the blank* and now our feelings are involved…and our feelings can very easily over-rule any logical thinking we have on communicating effectively and lovingly.   Here’s where the gospel comes in yet again.  In our own strength we will fail miserably at communicating in the heat of the moment, but with Christ’s discernment and strength we can, in fact, control our tongue and listen and get to the root or heart of the issue.

Here’s some verses…

Verse on the tongue (Proverbs in literally chuck full of them): Proverbs 21:23

English Standard Version (ESV)
23 Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue
    keeps himself out of trouble.
Proverbs 18:21
English Standard Version (ESV)
21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
    and those who love it will eat its fruits.
We can speak death or life into our marriages…

James 1:19 19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,  (read it again)

And I want to close today with a passage from Philippians…Paul is intending it for a body of believers, but I think we would be wise to also translate it into our marriages. 

Philippians 2: 1Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
5In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Then end. :)

Tomorrow I'm gonna post a list of the books that Ben and I have used personally as well as  helped with counseling other couples.  

Friday, January 17, 2014

Marriage Part Uno

It seems that lately, I have been talking about marriage with several different people in my life.  And I recently went to a wedding, so there's that.  

Marriage is one of those wonderful and sometimes hard blessings in life. When it's good, it's so good.  And when it's causes devastation.  It really is a big, big deal.  

This past spring I got to do my first "Bridal Shower Devotional" at a church bridal shower.  I've been a Pastor's wife for 8 years, and that was my first time speaking.  Let that sink in a little bit.  I'm not a speaker.  I talk with my hands waaaay too much (always) and I don't like people watching me, and I sway back and forth.  A lot.  It's all terribly distracting, I'm quite sure.  I'll stick with blogging. ;)

But.  I thought, I would share with you what I shared with them.  As in Copy/Paste right onto my blog. It's like you were there...minus my awkwardness.  You are welcome.

But I want to clarify something first before I get to the actual devotional:  

Contract vs. Covenant

Whenever I hear someone refer to marriage as "Just a piece of paper," as in a legal contract, I can't help but cringe because it indicates to me that they already know there's a fairly simple way out of it, if that's what they choose. 

My cell phone: Contract.  Just a piece of paper.  They give me cell service, I pay my bill and we both live happily ever after.  But guess what's gonna happen if I stop paying my bill?  Legal contract void.  Sure, they'll still want their money, but eventually they'll be done with me.  When marriage is viewed as a contract, then we give ourselves a way out when the other person stops doing what they said they would do.  

Eventually, both of you will not hold up your end of the "contract" in some way. I promise you that.   Because we're all selfish.  And there's a good tendency to think we are always doing our part, while our spouse...not so much.  Right?  

 Marriage is meant to be a covenant.  I said vows.  I didn't say, "If you do this, then I'll do this."  Because, good luck with that.  I made a covenant to do what I said, regardless of my husband upholding his.  Regardless.   And Ben did the same.  Would I have been elated to marry a man that viewed it as contractual?  No. Way.   Because it reveals deeper heart issues going on. A covenant is not the same as a legal contract.  One really is just a piece of paper...marriage however, was never designed to be just that

So, this post has already reached my self-imposed limit of words.  Monday I will post my Four Musts of Marriage (which isn't original, whatever.)

Come back Monday.  But have a super awesome weekend first.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Because Random is Best

I got nothing but random today.  Or any day.

  • Blogger is not letting me put my instagram pictures in a post today and that is annoying.
  • We have another Winter Weather Advisory.  Lame. Winter is wretched.
  • Yesterday I signed up for a local race thing called the Triple Crown.  Which means I will be running a 5k in April, a 10k in July, and a half-marathon in September.  It makes me have that excited/nervous gut feeling.  
  • I am in awe of what God is doing in our church right now.  And that is cool.  
  • I mentioned Made to Crave the other day.  I'm down 5 pounds in 2 weeks, mostly because I realized how much I was going to poor-food-choices for wrong reasons.  I realized I have a few entitlement issues when it comes to sugar. The "I Want + I Can = I Should"  Bigfatlie. I'm learning to battle that with God's truth, which is so much different than battling them with self control.  It's that 1 Corinthians 10:23 idea that even though it may be permissible, it doesn't mean it's beneficial.  Changing my way of thinking and doing is going to take much longer that losing a few more pounds, I guarantee that.  
  • Lucy just dug through all the cupboards because she didn't believe me that we were out of Nutella.  I wonder who she inherited that from? 
  • The new way of blogging is still weird to me.  I'm not a fan.  I'm really uncomfortable with all the self promotion it takes.  It's totally fine for other's just not me.  I really don't care about page views.  I just want to write uninteresting stuff, with unprofessional pictures and offer very little "How-To's."  And that's what I'm gonna do. The rest of the internet calls it "How to Kill Your Blog."    So be it. 
  • I love blogging. Old School.  
  • You have a lovely day!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014


google images
I am, without a doubt, old-school.  Whatever that means.  Once I learn something, I want to do it that way forever.  I'm not opposed to learning new things, I'm just opposed to learning a new way to do them once I've already learned them.

Tracking with me?  

And if I learned to do something wrong in the first place, it's highly unlikely I'll be able to figure out the right way.  Ever.  My left-handed Grandma, taught my right-handed self to crochet.  Sort of.  I've still never been able to recover.  Re-train myself?  That's funny.

Maybe it's that I'm now 36 years old...or that my children are dangerously close to teenagerhood...or that I'm trying to figure out the new means of technology that is ever evolving...but I just need for everyone and everything to *pause* while I catch up.  

But maybe the issue is that I don't want to catch up?  Let's talk texting.

My introverted self loves text messaging.  It's short and quick and to the point.  Kind of.   But the abbreviated words and lack of punctuation?  It leaves me...highly irritated.  

What's the deal?!  Every time I see "Thx" I die a little.  And I think to myself, if they were really thankful, they'd write the 'anks' instead of 'x'.  *smile* Or '2' instead of 'to' I mean really, is the extra letter, so hard?  

Mostly I hate that it takes my brain longer to decode their short-cuts than it would to just read the full word.  Now, I do use shortcuts occasionally, I'm not gonna lie...but I have to be in a pretty big hurry to annoy.

Someone needs to invent an app that translates the abbreviations into real words, so that those who feel the need to abbreviate every word don't annoy old people like me.  Maybe, I just need an app that sends a message to the person texting me that my phone will only accept texts that contain less than 2% abbreviations.  

Until then, I've just added the abbreviators to my list of "People I Rarely Text" Instead, I'll call or email and then I can like them again.  heh.

I have a couple other issues with texting...but one post can only hold so much snark.  I'll save it for tomorrow.  

L8R *eye roll*

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Made to Crave

It's hard not to post about the was -50 here yesterday, and today is "warmer", but still frigid enough for the school to cancel evening activities...and for us to postpone the start of our new study. 

Add that to the list of why I love/hate Iowa.  

Tonight our Ladies Bible Study was supposed to start Made to Crave by Lysa Terkeurst.

I read the book awhile ago, and loved it, but this will be my first time going through the study.  It applies so well for all ladies.  Sure, not everyone has a weight problem,  but I haven't met a woman yet who didn't at one time or another, struggle with a "food" problem.  Or at least a craving problem.  

We were made to crave.  Oh how easily we replace what we're really needing with what we really don't need at all.  It applies to so much more than food.

So. Much. More.

I'm sure what I'm learning is gonna show up here, so consider this fair warning.  

Anybody read the book or done the study?  

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Organized Chaos

So the other day I swung by Staples and picked up some organizing stuff.  It is, after all, a new year and the perfect excuse to buy cute (over-priced) office supplies. Plus, I really did need a new planner.

I had previously found some cute printable calendars on Pinterest, so I decided to assemble my own planner this year.  I posted the above pic on Instagram and Facebook and ended up with several email inquiries so I thought I'd put together a blogpost. Because why not.

I will preface by saying this is not the cheapest route to go for planners.  That Martha Stewart is pricey...and cute.  But it was one-stop-shopping for me and that my friends is priceless.  

The genius of this planner is that you can assemble it however best for you.  It took me awhile to figure out what I wanted, and I'm still tweaking it as I go.  (Also, I *may* have 3 hole punched the wrong side of some paper sheets because I was watching Safe Haven on Netflix while "planning")

I've been using this basket to hold everything.  It helps in locating where I stuck my planner.  It also holds a bunch of stick-it notes, and pens.  The red spiral notebook is what I use for various notes and my grocery list.

It's kind of hard to see, but on the left inside of the binder I glued a Martha Steward plastic folder that can hold misc. loose paper.  On the right side, is a zip pocket that holds little stickers that I can place in the calendar to label events or whatever.  Also some washi tape to mark off weeks of vacation or stuff like that on the calendar.

The green thing I got at Target for $5.00.  It's a year long monthly calendar.  Originally I bought Martha Stewart pages that were kind of expensive, only to find out that I bought them for the year 2013.  Yeah.  Staples better give me my $ back. ;)  

And this is what the calendar looks like on the inside.

The next sheets are ones I printed that I found on Pinterest.  I paid$7.95 (I think) for the download.  You can go HERE to see it.  Also, the cute color tabs: Martha.

Daily checklist and then you will see below that it also has weekly and beyond.  I haven't filled mine out yet.  Irony.

 A weekly Menu planner (which I then use to make my grocery list)

The red tab holds a "Blog Idea" print out that I have not filled out yet.  Of course.

These calendars are from the download that I linked to above.  Yes, I have 2 sets of calendars in one notebook. :) This one is to keep track of daycare hours. 

That's it.  Now I just have to remember to keep using it.  I know from previous experience that the more I use it, the less scattered and full my brain is.  There is something calming about writing down the chaos. 

I didn't take a picture of it, but I also have a big desk-top calendar that hangs on the wall.  It's the go-to one for our family.  The notebook/binder one is more for organizing my every-day life of activity and things I need to get done.  

Organized chaos.  

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