Let’s Celebrate Our Countries!

Friday Roundup on To Love, Honor and Vacuum
It’s time for our Friday Round-Up, where I share what’s been big on the blog this week, as well as what’s going on in my personal life.

Before I do that, I just need to say thank you to all the great answers to my questions on LAST week’s roundup on how to make a wedding special. I was out of the house all day Friday and when I got back there were a whole bunch of really thoughtful comments. But by that time it would have taken too long to reply to each one individually, so I didn’t. And then I felt badly because you all had taken the time to write to me! But I hate replying to some comments and not all. It makes me look like I’m playing favourites or something. So I just wanted to say I did appreciate them! I’m sending them to my daughter to read, too.

Okay, now with the blog:

What’s #1 at the Blog This Week:

My post on grief went over so well with so many of you. Thank you for sharing it! That concept meant so much to me when someone shared it with me when I was going through a low point, and I just pray that it helped others going through low points, too.

The grief process: you don't just get over itWhy Do Teenagers Rebel? A 19-year-old explains how it doesn't HAVE to happen!#1 on the Blog: Grief: You Don’t Just Get Over It
#1 on Pinterest: A 19-year old explains: Why I Didn’t Rebel
#1 on Twitter: Have a sex question you’re afraid to ask? 
#1 on Facebook: Grief: You Don’t Just Get Over It
Big from Search Engines: 50 Bible Verses to Memorize

I’m adding another dimension this week that I thought you all may be interested in–what posts people arrive on from search engines. About 1/3 of my traffic is from search engines, and I think if my readers understood what search terms people use to wind up here, you’d likely understand a lot of my readers/commenters better! Unlike a lot of other marriage blogs, I get search terms from marriages that are really in trouble. So each week I’ll highlight a different post from the top 15. My Bible verse post has always been #1, but you may be surprised to see what some of the rest are!

Are You a Blogger and Want to Be Part of My Upcoming Book Launch?

Nine Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage: Because a Great Relationship Doesnt Happen by AccidentIf you’re a blogger and you’d be interested in participating in my book launch, just leave a comment below and I’ll forward your information along to Waterbrook! I’ve got to start organizing all the book launch stuff for 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage, and it’s kind of tricky to do that while planning a wedding. :) But once August comes I’ll be full speed ahead.

Happy Canada Day!

So Canada Day was on Wednesday–the day that we Canadians celebrate our great and mighty nation.

I didn’t write much about Canada Day–sorry, it was mostly wedding prep here at my house–but my kids did some pretty funny things that I thought you may appreciate.

Here’s Katie, from her Instagram:

Yes, that is a 4 litre jug of maple syrup. #HappyBirthdayCanada

A photo posted by Katie Gregoire🎶 (@katielizg) on

Yes, I know she’s missing a hockey stick. :) The funny thing is, it didn’t even occur to us until people started mentioning it in the comments. We’re so NOT a sports family! And here’s Rebecca, from her Instagram:

Diamonds may be a girls best friend, but Tim Hortons is a Canadians true love ❤️🍩☕️ A photo posted by Rebecca Danielle (@rebeccagregoire) on

A giant Tim Horton’s cup. Now that’s Canadian!

Becca’s got a bunch of other pictures from Canada Day on a funny post on her blog, too: The Most Canadian Things That Happened to Me on Canada Day.

I know most of my readers will be celebrating on the 4th of July, and I wish you all a wonderful weekend with family and fireworks and barbecues. May we always be grateful for the freedom that we do have.

If you’re not Canadian or American, I wish you a great weekend, too! I’m not even sure when the British or Australian celebrate–let us know in the comments! And if you’re one of my Caribbean or East African or Nigerian readers–welcome! And do leave a comment, too. It would be neat to see how many countries are represented.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex

Marriage isn't supposed to be blah!


Sex is supposed to be stupendous--physically, emotionally, AND spiritually. If it's not, get The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex--and find out what you've been missing.

Grief: You Don’t Just Get Over It

Can you “get over” grief? Can you recover from the loss of a child, the loss of a spouse, or the trauma of an attack so that it no longer bothers you?

The grief process: you don't just get over it

There’s been a twitter fight going on recently between Joel Osteen, a motivational speaker who says “yes, you can get over it, God wants you to, and if grief lasts more than a few months you’re wallowing” (okay, I’m paraphrasing), and those who say that some hurts just stay with you. The latter camp believes firmly that Osteen is being insensitive to those who have endured something huge like losing a child, and does not understand the grief process.

Personally, I fall mostly into the second camp, too.

Yes, it’s true, as Osteen supporters say, that “we don’t grieve in the way the world grieves” (1 Thessalonians 4:13), but that doesn’t mean that we just get over a huge, aching void.

Nineteen years ago I lost my baby boy.

At 9:30 p.m. on September 3 he was looking like he had turned a corner. The crisis post-surgery had passed. So I kissed him on the forehead (the only place I could reach without tubes), and said, “Good night, Christopher. Mommy loves you. I’ll see you in the morning.” And Keith and I walked out of the Intensive Care Unit and walked home.

At 1:30 a.m. the phone rang. We had better come now, the nurse said, because he was crashing.

When we got to the hospital they were still working on my baby. Fifteen minutes later they brought his body out to us. He was swaddled in a blanket, and the only thing we could see was his little face, with his little tongue sticking out a bit.

We held him and cried over him, and then I kissed him on the forehead and I said, “Goodbye, Christopher. Mommy loves you. I’ll see you in heaven.” And I handed him back to the nurse.

Over the next few days it hurt to breathe.

It felt like someone was stepping on my chest. I had to concentrate to force myself to eat, to force myself to pick up Rebecca (our daughter who was 18 months old), to force myself to shower.

But then, I remember about two weeks in, I had a good day. I didn’t cry much at all. And I felt guilty about that. What was wrong with me? How could I be “over” such a loss?

I shouldn’t have worried, because a week later I was a mess again. But slowly but surely those horrible days got fewer and farther between. They still came, but there were good moments, too.

About a month after he died someone shared with me this truth about grief which helped me so much:

The Grief Process: How grief actually works over time. We don't just "get over it"

You don’t “get over” grief. Something will set you off–a song, the back of a stranger’s head, a movie–and you’ll be thrown back to that ICU room, feeling everything with the same intensity. But those moments will come less frequently, and they won’t last as long. Instead of a whole day of not being able to function you may just have an hour when you sob and journal.

And those times are random. Sometimes they may be at anniversaries, but often it’s when we’re stressed about something else, or when we’re by ourselves just thinking or even enjoying life. And then it will come–what we’re missing. And it will be so, so sad.

The person who told me this also gave me these words:

When you have good days, do not feel guilty for them. The good days do not mean that you have forgotten the person you loved. They just mean that you are still able to enjoy the good things that God has given you. That love is still there, and there will always be times, unbidden, when that love will manifest itself in tears and in aches and even in rages. But those times will be less frequent. Laughter will return. So enjoy life when you can, and give in to the tears when  you must. This world is broken, and God understands our grief. It’s okay to feel it–but don’t feel badly if you feel it less frequently than you once did.

Those words meant so much to me, and now, every time I have a friend who suffers a great loss, like a miscarriage or a death in the immediate family, I share these truths about the grief process with her, too.

In the discussion on Twitter about Osteen I was sent a lovely article by a grieving mom that tells the same story–how she still grieves, but there is also light in her eyes. And that’s okay.

And so I wanted to share that concept of the timing of the grief process with you all today. Joel Osteen proves that even those who are Christians don’t really understand grief. Grief is not unChristlike or self-focused. Jesus Himself grieves. But Jesus also laughs. And one of the most amazing things about this life is how laughter and grief can often co-exist.

Grieving is not ungodly; covering up pain and not speaking Truth, on the other hand, is.

So let’s extend grace to one another when we grieve, and let’s extend grace to ourselves, both when we have a hard time dealing with grief, and when we seem to be able to laugh too early. Neither is a sign that we are far from God; they are both simply signs that we are human. And that, after all, is how God made us.

How Big Is Your Umbrella: Weathering the Storms of Life, Second EditionIf you’re walking through grief right now, you’ll appreciate my book How Big Is Your Umbrella: Weathering the Storms of Life. It’s all about the things that we yell at God when life is difficult, and what He whispers back. And it talks about how the reality and promise of heaven can make the grief process easier. The ebook version is really inexpensive, so if you’re having a hard time–I hope this can bless you.

 

Will you do me a favour? Will you share the chart about grief on Pinterest (or on Facebook) so more people “get it”? To make it easy, you can just repin my post here. Thank you!

 

Wifey Wednesday: Hope for Marriage–and Our Society

Sometimes life just seems hard.

I’m not even talking about our individual lives. I mean sometimes you look out at the world and it seems like such a mess. And you wonder if you can even make a difference. If there’s a point to anything.

It’s Wednesday, the day when we always talk marriage. And today I don’t have anything really profound to say, except that I’d like to make a few comments on current events–and then offer what may be a more hopeful perspective. And then I’ll still give you a chance to linkup your own marriage posts below!

In watching Facebook and Twitter explode over the last week I know that many are really devastated by a whole series of Supreme Court decisions. Some make one political stripe really sad and frustrated, and other decisions make the other political stripe sad and frustrated.

I understand.

Especially on the issue of same sex marriage, I know that to many this seems like the final straw–that America has crossed a line and can’t go back. That they have now really chosen not to be a Christian nation.

Hope for Marriage–and Our Society
I can understand the grief, and the sadness, and the despair.

I know that others feel that way about the environmental decisions and about the lethal injection decisions. There’s been a lot of hard stuff lately.

And when  you combine that with the markets tumbling because of Greece, and with ISIS advancing across the Middle East, and with so many Christians being persecuted, the world can look like a hopeless place.

But because this is primarily a marriage blog, I just want to talk to those of you who are really upset by the marriage decision–and then get to some hopeful suggestions for all of us.

I’m Canadian, and so this hasn’t hit me as hard. We went through these fights a decade ago. And  you know what? The sky hasn’t fallen. It’s just that the law of the land now reflects the culture. The problem is the culture, not really the laws. (I know laws can then influence moral opinion, but I think we crossed that line already). And so what we’re doing is mourning the final death of something.

Not to be morbid, but it’s as if someone went missing ten years ago, and they just found the body now. You know your loved one is now dead, but really–they’ve been dead for a decade. It’s just that you now have that finality.

Last week we had that finality hit. And it hit hard. But let’s not fool ourselves–this wasn’t something new. This has been in the works for a long time. And now it’s just out in the open.

We need to stop trying to focus on laws and start trying to focus on hearts. That’s what I was saying in my post a few weeks ago on why Christians are losing the culture war–we forget that our primary battlefield is not in the political arena. It’s in our homes, our workplaces, our communities.

Regardless of your political persuasion, maybe some of these rulings will help us let go of the need to fight so stringently and turn our attention back to the individuals that God has given us to influence.

When we spend so much time worrying about things over which we have no control, it’s easy to get despondent. But when we spend time in the areas that we actually can influence, we feel more purposeful. More powerful. Just plain better.

It reminds me of this graphic I made in my post about how to really make a difference:

How to make a difference: Spend time in your sphere of influence

I don’t think God wants us mourning political change as much as He wants us excited about what we can do within our spheres of influence. So let’s take some time to grieve, if necessary, but then let’s get back in the trenches and turn our eyes to the people around us who really do need help!

And to do that, I’d like to offer you some “escapes” to bolster your marriage this month.

This year I challenged everyone to read one book a month that can help your marriage as part of our Ultimate Marriage Reading Challenge. In July I want to do something different. Instead of a typical nonfiction marriage book, I want to give some suggestions for beach reads–novels–that will help you think differently about your marriage.

Ultimate Reading Challenge for July: Novels!

So here we go. I’m going to give you three suggestions, and you can pick from these and read them. Why three? Because not all of us like the same kinds of books. And besides–you may have already read one! So I’m giving you some choice to make it easier.

One thing: I lean more towards books that can challenge how we THINK about marriage–not just romances.

Romance novels aren’t always helpful. Sometimes they’re wonderful escapes, but they can also make us very dissatisfied. And I get a little bit worried that in the Christian world we’re romanticizing the Amish lifestyle. I’ve seen Amish societies up close and personal, and my husband has done medical rounds there. Depression is rampant, and the women are often “old” by their midtwenties. There’s lots of problems there, too.

I also don’t like the fact that the majority of Christian romances focus on a young girl who is about 21 or 22, and end with her getting married. What about books about REAL LIFE? It’s kind of depressing that publishers can’t seem to publish decent books about real marriage issues.

So  here are three suggestions, that are all VERY different, that can help you this summer.

A Time to Dance (Timeless Love Series)A Time to Dance by Karen Kingsbury

I don’t love all of Karen Kingsbury’s novels–but I did love this one. It focuses on a couple in mid-life who have been married a little over two decades, and who are just plain done. Everyone thinks they have the perfect marriage, but they’ve been drifting apart for years. The love has gone. The passion evaporated eons ago. And now it’s time to call it quits.

But just as they’re going to announce their divorce their daughter announces her engagement. Not wanting to wreck things for her they decide to stick it out until after the wedding. And as they do, they both start examining what marriage means and how to rebuild a love that has gone. It’s actually very powerful, and very real.

Who should read this: If you like simple fiction that’s based in reality (ie. not historical or “other culture”, etc.)

Get A Time to Dance here.

Mark of the Lion : A Voice in the Wind, An Echo in the Darkness, As Sure As the Dawn (Vol 1-3)Mark of the Lion series by Francine Rivers

Likely my favourite Christian novel series of all time. Francine Rivers writes a trilogy of life for new Christians during Roman times, when persecution of Christians has picked up. You’ve got gladiators and barbarians and centurions and war. But you’ve also got this godly, lovely Jewish slave girl who is trying to live out her new found faith in Christ in the worst circumstances.

Each book focuses on a different relationship, but what I found reading the series is that Hadassah’s (the slave’s) goodness haunted me and stayed with me.

Some have criticized Rivers because she puts too much sensuality in her books (not erotica; sensuality). I think that’s silly. If you’re an adult and you’re married, it’s okay to read about how a woman is tempted by what a man looks like, or how she has to fight against that, or how she’s excited for her wedding night. It really is okay. And I’d actually rather see books do that MORE rather than less, so that they can start reflecting reality again.

Who should read this: Anyone who loves historical fiction–and anyone who wants to be really challenged in their faith.

Get the Mark of the Lion series here.

Redeeming LoveRedeeming Love by Francine Rivers

Okay, I asked on Facebook yesterday for recommendations for novels that will boost your marriage, and this was the #1 book mentioned. I have read Redeeming Love–it’s the story of the book of Hosea lived out in the American West as it was being settled in the last century. A man is called to marry a prostitute–and he does. But she’s not ready for that kind of unconditional love, and she doesn’t know what to do with it.

This wasn’t my favourite book, and I do think that the book teaches you more about God than it does about marriage. But like I said, it was the most popular book mentioned by YOU, my readers. So I know that it will touch many of you, and I know that my down-to-earth taste in books is not everyone’s. :)

Who should read this: Those who love a sweeping tragic story with a happy ending.

Get Redeeming Love here.

I hope you have a wonderful time reading this summer! And I hope your marriages are strengthened so that you go and help other people with their marriages–regardless of what is going on in Washington or in the rest of the world.

Wifey Wednesday: Christian marriage postsNow it’s your turn! Do you have something to share with us about marriage today? Leave the URL to your marriage post in the linky below. And be sure to link back here so other people can read these great marriage posts.



The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex

Marriage isn't supposed to be blah!


Sex is supposed to be stupendous--physically, emotionally, AND spiritually. If it's not, get The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex--and find out what you've been missing.

What Not to Say to Someone Who Has Had a Miscarriage

Today’s guest post is from Sarah Philpott from All American Mom. She’s telling us what NOT to say when someone has a miscarriage–based on some of the insensitive things she was told. Unfortunately, I think far too many of you will identify.

What Not to Say to Someone Who Has Had a Miscarriage

Support provided by loved ones is one of the ways that people are helped through any grief process.

When a family member dies, society rallies around the griever. Refrigerators are full of casseroles, mailboxes are full of cards, and shoulders are loaned to cry upon.

But the grieving process of a woman losing her unborn child is often lonely. This loneliness might be by choice- she might choose not to tell people. But sometimes the loneliness is because society as a whole tends to minimize miscarriage. “Maybe next time” or “It just wasn’t meant to be” are very common phrases uttered. Unfortunately these comments are often quite hurtful to the woman who has just lost her baby.

Stop and read the end of that sentence again, “lost her baby.”

You see, this is not an abstract concept or a dream- we are mourning the loss of a baby: a loved baby.

We found out we were pregnant with our baby (we might have been nervous, scared or excited), we used our bodies to nurture our baby (we read books, blogs, envisioned rocking our baby, stopped drinking coffee, stopped eating deli meat, started planning our nursery), and then we lost our baby. The physicality of this is quite intense; the emotional toil is real. It might not have been “real” to onlookers, but we know that our bodies were nurturing a human life and even though we shouldn’t- many of us feel misguided guilt that we couldn’t bring the baby to term.

It hurts. Our thoughts are invaded by untruths. And even though we find comfort that our babies are in heaven with God, it still hurts. At the crux- all we ask is that you don’t minimize our loss and that you don’t offer comments that make us feel any further guilt. Pregnancy loss shouldn’t be minimized or brushed aside as not being worthy of grief. The loss of a baby is a grievous situation.

No one intends to be insensitive. I know you wish to bring comfort. I’m truly touched that you are reading this; it means you want to be helpful. Your heart is in the right place. I just want to help you with your words.

Grief and death are tricky topics for anyone to address. My hands get sweaty when I walk into a funeral home. I don’t know quite what to say. We’ve all been there- in that uncomfortable space where “I’m sorry” just doesn’t seem quite enough. Although I had a legion of support after my two miscarriages, my feelings were hurt numerous times by well-intentioned people. All of this is compounded by the hormones a female experiences after a miscarriage. There is a marked increase in risk for depression and anxiety after a pregnancy loss (Lok, I.H & Neugebauer, R. 2007). It’s not something we can control- it’s a common psychological consequence of miscarriage.

After having my feelings bruised numerous times, I finally accepted that we can never understand someone’s unique life experience; therefore, we can’t expect someone to understand the physical pain and emotional toil of a miscarriage if they have not had that experience. I also kept repeating the verse from Romans 3:10, “There is no one righteous; not even one.” To me, this means that there are no perfect people in the world. People make mistakes and I can’t hold a grudge for a person’s offhand remarks. God is the ONLY one I can count on for comfort.

I did decide that I could help educate people on miscarriage- this includes raising awareness of phrases that evoke more harm than healing.

Here are some commonly said comments you will want to avoid if you desire offering support to a grieving mama.

As you read these, please know that these are compiled by a large group of women. These are comments we all heard numerous times. I’ve also included the voices of some of the women.  Above all, please know- we appreciate that you want to offer us support. Thank you.

Please don’t tell me:

  • It happened for a reason.
  • Something was probably wrong with the baby.
  • Go and have a drink to take the edge off.
  • It was God’s will.

I feel too often in the Christian community that people want to brush over miscarriage like it’s no big deal saying things like “You’ll have another baby” or “This was the Lord’s plan for your life” without really considering what the mama is going through.

“Just Adopt”
We know we can adopt. We might one day, but I’m grieving the loss of a specific baby. One that I just lost.

“At Least You Have Another Child”
I’m so grateful for my other child, but that doesn’t mean I’m not sad over the loss of this baby.

“You Can Always Have Another Baby”
I had to have a hysterectomy. I can’t have another baby.

It hurt when people reacted like I’d lost a puppy. And followed it up by saying I could have another. I wanted the one I lost. I feel like people that haven’t experienced the loss unknowingly trivialize it to a degree because we never physically meet our babies. It made me mad, and still does, but I try to remind myself that I can’t blame people for their reactions if they have never experienced the loss.

People would say, “oh, you’ll have more kids one day.” Realistically I knew that I might not be medically able to have more children. I wanted to accept that fact and learn to be okay with it. I didn’t like false hope or people treating it like I had lost a puppy dog, ‘oh, you can get a new puppy again,’ is what it felt like. The doctor told me it would be extremely difficult for me to carry a baby to term.

“At Least It Happened Early”
Because losing a baby is somehow easier or less painful that way?

“Have you found out what’s wrong with you?”

“Did you exercise too much?”

“It was probably that insecticide you sprayed around your house.” (INSERT ANY AND ALL “BLAME COMMENTS”)

This person responded by basically indicating that I should probably ‘get checked out’ because something might be ‘wrong with me.’ It just really bothered me. I know there were good intentions somewhere behind what she said, but all it did was to bring back that flood of guilt that I had been trying so desperately to let go of.

“Well, you shouldn’t have announced your pregnancy so early.   You knew this could have happened.”

“So, when are you going to try again?”

All of those comments were just so incredibly insensitive.

Here is a picture of me cradling our second baby.

What Not to Say to Someone Who Has Had a Miscarriage

It was the day I found out I was pregnant. This was the first baby I lost. I’m not showing you this for you to feel sorry for me. I’m really not. I promise- I am okay now. I hesitated even posting this picture because I know it will make you uncomfortable. I am showing it to you for you to see the excitement in my eyes so that you realize that I was carrying a baby in my womb. I had hopes, dreams and fears.

Please be kind and thoughtful with your words- don’t minimize our losses and please be careful not to utter any phrases that could lead us to believe that you are blaming us for our loss.

Pray, offer a hug, tell us you are sorry. Give us time, permission, and space to grieve. Really- those simple tokens of love are the most helpful.

Sarah PhilpottSarah Lewis Philpott recently earned her Ph.D, but instead of climbing the ivory tower she happily spends her days being a farmer’s wife to her high school sweetheart and being a mom to young two mischievous children. She blogs at All American Mom.

Represented by the Blythe Daniel Agency, Sarah is working on a book that looks at the sensitive topic of pregnancy loss and also about cherishing the life that was conceived. She runs a Loved Baby Pregnancy Loss Support Group on Facebook that is open for anyone to join.

Making the Summer Count!

To me this is the official first day of summer.

I know many of you in the U.S. have had kids out for summer vacation for over a month now, but here in Canada school often doesn’t end until the last week in June. And even though I’ve never had kids in public school (we homeschooled), I still think of summer as being July and August.

And so I woke up today, stretched, and sighed. In a lovely way. Because it’s time to relax!

I know I often do Reader Questions on Monday and Top 10 Tuesdays, etc., but I hope you’ll forgive me if, over the next eight weeks, I’m a little more flexible. I’m on summer time!

So let me share a few summer things with you that I’m excited about!

Nine Thoughts That Will Change Your Marriage is Almost Here!

Nine Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage: Because a Great Relationship Doesnt Happen by Accident
So my new book, 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage, will be released on August 18. If you’re tired of hearing “pat” Christian answers for marriage problems, you’ll really like this book! I look at how a lot of the pat answers we hear aren’t really biblical–or at least they don’t tell the whole story. And believing them can actually undermine our marriage!

Here are just a few:

  • If your marriage is in trouble, “just do it!” (have sex a lot)
  • Wives who consistently submit to what their husbands want and let him lead will find their marriages blessed.
  • God is close to the brokenhearted, so if you’re sad in your marriage, God understands and is close to you, fighting for you.
  • We’re to live at peace with one another, so avoid conflict! Conflict is a sign of a bad marriage

If you’re wondering what’s wrong with those, then you need the book!

I’m really happy with the way it turned out, and I would be so grateful if you all ordered it, too. :) And just a heads up–if you want to do me a favour, it helps so much if you pre-order it. You won’t be charged until August 18, and your book will ship on that date (or the Kindle version will download then!) But if you order it now, then when it does release, it will go to the top of the Amazon bestsellers. And Christian retailers often decide what books to stock based on Amazon ranking.

So the more books sell on that one day, the higher my ranking will be for a while. That’s just the way it works. :) But I know you’ll like the book, too! So much of this blog went into it (and a lot of comments from the blog made it into the book), so you’ll likely recognize some of the discussions.

So how am I making the summer count with this book?

Well, I’m emptying my older daughter’s room completely out (she’s getting married July 18 and hasn’t lived at home for two years) and I’m setting it up as a YouTube studio! And I’m going to film 9 videos to release, one day at a time, before August 18 looking at the different pat answers. And then I’ll have the studio all set to go so that I can start doing more videos in the upcoming year. I’m jealous of my younger daughter being better at YouTube than I am. :) (Have you seen Katie’s videos?)

The Ultimate Digital Photography Bundle is Gone Tonight at Midnight

I shared last week about the Ultimate Digital Photography Bundle–an amazing bundle of ebooks, ecourses, and bonuses that can help you hone your photography skills, whether with an iPhone or a DSLR.

That bundle is up tonight at midnight EST, and if you haven’t gotten it yet, I don’t want you to miss out and be disappointed. So I want to share two quick resources with you today–one from the Beginner version and one from the Intermediate version.

First, if you’ve wanted to capture better pictures of your kids, but you’ve never known how, The Unexpected Everyday is an awesome book!

TheUnexpectedEveryday

It tells you about composition–what should go into a photo and where you should place the focal point. It tells you about perspective and angle–like how a picture will look different if you take it from the floor or above your subject. It tells you about speed and light, so that you can get that “blurry” effect and form a neat focal point just by what’s in focus, like these two:

toy

Little Girl

And it shows you how to catch cool outdoor elements by placing the focal point in the right point of the picture:

Little Girl Seagull

This is the level I’m at, and it’s so much fun to work through the book! I treat each part as a tutorial, where I have to go and recreate the picture. And I’m actually learning a lot (I knew about the “rule of threes” when it came to writing; I didn’t know about the “rule of thirds” with pictures).

This book alone is normally $19, but the ENTIRE beginner Photographer’s Bundle is only $37–and you get dozens more resources, including ecourses on how to use your particular camera, a 12 part basic photography ecourse worth $197, a free photographer’s course on Craftsy worth $70, and more!

Find out more about the Beginner Bundle, or

Now here’s something from the Intermediate edition that has me drooling. When you buy one of the bigger bundles (intermediate, professional), you get ALL the books from the smaller bundles plus your own. The intermediate edition focuses heavily on learning how to use Lightroom to edit your photos and how to take more “artsy” photos, like the Black and White Photography Ecourse.

But one book I just love is called Golden Hours, on how to take amazing photos at sunrise or sunset.

Golden Hours Photography

It doesn’t just talk about how to use light well; it also talks about an internet app you can get that looks at the topography of your region, and then shows you exactly where to go to capture the best sunrise or sunset pictures. That’s amazing!

Then he talks about the nitty gritty of how to capture the light in the sky and the “mood” of a photo, so you can get pictures like this:

Sunset 2

Sunrise 1

This book is normally $19, but for $67 you get the entire intermediate bundle PLUS the entire Beginner bundle–almost $1200 in phogotography training.

Find out more about the intermediate bundle, or

Remember, as of Midnight tonight this bundle is GONE–so if you’re interested, take a look now. Learning photography is such a great summer project, and one I’m hoping to get better at!

motionmailapp.com

I Need to Know–What Did You Love BEST About Your Wedding?

So we’re in the final stretch of wedding preparations! We’ve got almost everything figured out. I’m just working on the minute-by-minute schedule of the day for everyone (we have to figure out who is getting where and in what car, since most people won’t have vehicles), and I need to print out the bulletins. My husband is working on a slide show, and Katie is working on her MC speech.

But I want to make sure we don’t miss something really FUN that we could do. So I want to know: was there a particular part of your wedding day that worked really well? A particular photo you took? Some special element of the ceremony? Something about the dance? The way the guests got you to kiss? If there was something special you did, can you leave it in the comments? I would so appreciate it!

I’m Knitting!

Finally, my big summer project is to finish a summer bedspread for our bed made out of scraps of sock weight  yarn. I’ve collected so much over the last 15 years, and I’m putting it all together into a blanket. I’ve been working on it like crazy for the last few weeks (I started it about 4 years ago :) ), but I think I may just finish it!

What do you think?

Knitted Blanket

Have a relaxing summer, everyone! I’ll still be around and I have a month of posts ready to go–but I may not be as active in the comments as I travel and get ready for the wedding. Isn’t summer grand?

On Personality, Pictures, and Primping

Friday Roundup on To Love, Honor and Vacuum
It’s time for our Friday Round-Up, when I share what’s been big on the blog this week, what’s going on in my life, and what I’ve been thinking–beyond just the blog posts.

I’ve been having nightmares about weddings all week (my daughter gets married in 22 days!). They mostly revolve around forgetting to do things. Last night’s was different. It was 2:15 (the wedding is at 2), Rebecca wasn’t in her dress yet, and I could not get her to change. “Weddings always start late,” she said.

Somehow I don’t think that will be a problem on the day. So now I have to turn my brain off at night!

Speaking of nightmares, my youngest is driving to Ottawa for the first time ALONE today. It’s a three hour drive. I’m sure she’ll be fine. But she’s still my baby…

What’s #1 at To Love, Honor and Vacuum

Here’s what’s been big this week on the blog and with social media:

Fight the Frump!
4ThingsNeedinaHusbandTop 10 Things I Would Say About Sex--if I had no filter! Here's brutal honesty...#1 on the Blog: On Respecting Yourself–and Your Husband
#1 on Pinterest: The Four Things You Need in a Husband
#1 on Twitter: The Top 10 Things I’d Say About Sex If I Had No Filter
#1 on Facebook: On Respecting Yourself–and Your Husband (fight the frump!)

 

When Your Husband is SO Different

I have to admit my favourite post this week was Thursday’s on personality differences. I just love all the personality research–introvert/extrovert, thinker/feeler, etc. My mom did that for a living and my oldest daughter likes to figure out what type everyone is within 10 minutes of meeting them. So we live and breathe this stuff!

But even though it was shared a lot on social media, there weren’t a lot of comments. And that’s what I wanted to talk about! Sigh. So if you have any thoughts, I’d love to keep talking about it!

Taking Great Pictures!

I shared with you on Monday about the Ultimate Digital Photography Bundle that was on sale right now (but only until Monday at midnight EST!). I’m a beginner photographer who wants to get a lot better–I need to learn how to take good pics when I speak (or at least teach my assistant to take good pics of me), and that’s hard because the lighting isn’t always ideal. I want to learn to take more candid shots. And I want to learn more about composition and taking landscapes.

I also told you about the awesome (and really detailed) book, with projects, to teach you about taking pics with your iPhone.

iPhone Only Photography

But after looking through the bundle, what I’m most excited about–and what my husband is most excited about–is actually the intermediate version of the Bundle.

The Beginner version covers how to get used to your camera, how to use lighting, how to use shadow, how to use exposure, and all of those things that I’m still learning. But in the Intermediate version there are a pile of books that take you through, in detail, how to use Lightroom, the new photo editing software that’s just as good as Photoshop–but much cheaper. Plus it lets you organize your photos so that you can find them later!

Lightroom Intermediate

The books take you through everything you need to know about editing and developing, from black and white photography to correcting images and more.

The best thing is that the books assume you know NOTHING about Lightroom–never even heard of it. Not that that’s me or anything. Not that when I first saw the books I thought they were talking about installing a physical lightroom in your home where you develop pics. Not that I’m that ignorant or anything.

But the explanations are so good that even people who ARE that ignorant can figure it out. And get seriously excited (I now know how I’m going to organize my photos! It’s so cool!).

This is EXACTLY the resource my husband was looking for with all of his bird pictures. Sometimes they’re great photos–but the light just isn’t quite right. This can help him organize all those photos and edit them. He’s really excited to get started.

And, of course, there are also awesome books about upping your photography skills. I went to sleep last night daydreaming about this Seascapes book. I’m going to a bunch of beaches in August, and I totally want to use some of these techniques!

Seascape 2

Seascape 1

And that’s not all you get with the intermediate version. There are also hundreds of dollars of bonus products, including a free Craftsy photography class of your choice, worth up to $60 (I’m aiming towards either Family Photography: Capturing Candid Moments or Travel Photography). And there’s the Snapheal Pro App for photo editing, too!

Here’s how it works: There are three tiers for the photography bundle. Beginner (for me!); Intermediate (for my husband!); and Professional (for my nephew!), for those who are actually making a living at this. In the professional version there are also business forms and templates for invoices, etc. And lots more technique stuff, too!

When you buy the Intermediate tier, you get everything in the beginner tier, too. And when you buy the business tier, you get everything in the other two tiers as well.

Here’s a pic of all that’s in the Intermediate tier:


It’s a great deal, and seriously–so much fun to work through! It will likely take me until next summer at least to do it justice, but I’m so excited to get my photography skills up to par. We actually do have a nice camera, I just never use it (my hubby and daughter do). And I do want to learn.

The sale is on until Monday at midnight. The beginner tier is $37; the Intermediate is $67; and the Professional is $97. For our family, the Intermediate is likely the best match:


My daughter is really excited about this version to up her Instagram skills! And remember: If you purchase the Business version, it’s okay to give away some of the resources you won’t use, as long as you erase them from your computer and don’t keep a copy. So you can divide up a bundle with people in your family, too!

Click here to learn more about the Beginner Version, Intermediate Version, or Professional Version

or

Have a great weekend, everybody! I’m going to try to work on my nightmares, and I’m going to read through some more photography books!

Just Your Type: Personality Differences and Marriage

Do opposites really attract?

MBTI and Marriage: A look at how personality differences affect #marriage

Sometimes the things that we initially loved most about our spouse end up being the things that drive us the most crazy!

This year I’ve challenged all of you to read one book a month on marriage–that’s twelve books a year. In 30 days you can get through a book–if you leave that book in your bathroom, carry it around in your purse, leave it by your bedside table.

And I believe that this month’s book has the most capacity to completely change the way you see your spouse–and it’s a ton of fun, too!

Ultimate Marriage Reading Challenge for June

This month we’re looking at supporting him as a guy, since Father’s Day has just passed. And I suggested a number of books that you can read on gender differences. But the book I want to review today goes much further than gender differences. It looks at the 16 personality types that are part of the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (or MBTI), and sees how those differences impact marriage.

Just Your Type: Create the Relationship You've Always Wanted Using the Secrets of Personality Type
Just Your Type helps you understand yourself, your spouse, and the conflicts you’re likely to have–and how to overcome them.

But first, let’s do a run-down on what those potential differences are.

The MBTI classifies people based on four scales:

Extrovert/Introvert: Do you get your energy from being with people, or from being alone? When you need to think something through, do you call a friend, or go for a walk yourself? Contrary to popular belief, extrovert doesn’t mean “life of the party”. Many introverts are great at parties. But it’s where you get your energy from.

Sensing/Intuiting: Do you like detail, or are you a big picture person? Do you like taking things apart and figuring them out, or dreaming up new ways of doing things? Do you like following a pattern or creating your own?

Thinking/Feeling: Do you make decisions based on logic, or based on emotion? Are you most likely to concentrate on what’s “right”, or to focus on relationships?

Judging/Perceiving: Do you like being organized, with lists and plans, or would you rather be spontaneous and go with the flow?

None of these is “right” and none is “wrong”.

They’re just different preferences. But interesting things happen when differences get together–and often quite detrimental things to a marriage.

When couples have differences, here’s what happens:

Most couples engage in this undermining campaign in very subtle and indirect ways; they rarely address the problem honestly and openly. They just stop talking — really talking. So the overwhelming reason relationships fail is poor communication

In fact, these differences tend to be the root of communication problems that drive us apart. And sometimes those couples divorce. But as the authors ask, “What if they had not only understood their differences but also viewed them positively and as a source of richness?” And in Just Your Type, that’s what the authors try to do.

The book is done in three parts: First, Just Your Type looks at the four scales and sees how people who are different on each of those scales will fare. Then it divides the 16 types up into four basic approaches to the world–which is really quite interesting. It’s based on a combination of things, so even though my husband and I are actually quite close on the MBTI scale (I’m an ENTJ, or extrovert, intuitive, thinking, judging, and he’s an ESTJ, or extrovert, sensing, thinking, judging), we actually have very different approaches to the world. I’m an Innovator and he’s a Traditionalist.

Then, in the third part, the book shows how each possible combination will fare in marriage, and where your strengths and weaknesses will be. It is isn’t mean to say “these two types should never marry” or “these two types are doomed”, but rather “here’s how these two types can maximize their strengths and work together the best”.

I’m only going to talk about the first part of the book today, looking at the four scales, and using quotes from the book. I found it just fascinating, and I know that you will, too!

So let’s jump in.

MBTI and Marriage: When extraverts marry introverts

An equal number of men and women are extraverted/introverted. So this isn’t a gender issue, though we often think women are extraverts and men are introverts. But this difference can definitely cause problems!

Here’s one example: how we solve problems.

Renee and James found themselves at a familiar impasse — once again. A simple misunderstanding during dinner had somehow mushroomed into a full-blown fight. Renee, the Extravert, wanted to deal with it now, hoping they could resolve the conflict before it escalated any further. But James, the Introvert, was nowhere near ready to discuss it. Although he really didn’t understand what had happened to cause the rift, he knew he needed time by himself to think about it.

Extraverts will want to talk it out right then; introverts need time to process. So extravert spouses: give your spouse time to think!

When you ask an Extravert a question, he or she will usually start talking. This is because Extraverts think out loud. But with Introverts, the opposite is more often true. When you ask an Introvert a question, he or she will usually pause before answering…Not only do Extraverts speak first and think second, but they also tend to act before they think. As a result, they are usually quick to become engaged in new and interesting situations, they like being out in front, and they are comfortable in the spotlight.

Not surprisingly, then, this leads to differences in how we choose to spend free time. Extraverts want to be involved in things with lots of people; introverts will want to be alone more or with small groups of people. Parties will exhaust them, and may require days to recover from. Extraverts will thrive at parties.

Understandably, Introverts choose to have fewer people in their lives, and they are more often close friends or confidants. Most Extraverts, however , “collect” people and often have a stable of friends and acquaintances with whom they enjoy spending time.

If you’re an extravert married to an introvert, become involved in some same sex groups where you can get together with friends without requiring your spouse to come along!

MBTI and Marriage: When Sensors Marry Intuitives

Sensors like to deal with the here and now. Intuitives like to see the possibilities. Sensors are highly practical. Intuitives are highly creative. Can you see the potential for problems? A sensor may want to do all the finances on Quicken and have a 10 year plan. An intuitive may always be dreaming up the next entrpeneurial idea!

Sensors take in information through their five senses, paying close attention to what something looks, sounds, feels, tastes, or smells like. That’s why they’re usually such realistic and practical people . In contrast, Intuitives look at the world quite differently. Rather than focus on what is, they see what could be, questioning the reasons why it is as it is and how it’s related to other things. Rather than trust and rely on their five senses, it’s as if they use their sixth sense to understand and make sense of things.

Intuitives are often attracted to sensors because they ground them. To sensors, an intuitive seems exciting! But as you try to live out life, this can grate on people.

This is the one difference that Keith and I have–we’re alike on all the others. And it is a BIG difference. I don’t mind ambiguities; Keith likes everything set in stone before we make a decision. I’m always trying to change things; Keith says, “if it’s working, why break it?” That may make me seem irresponsible and him seem boring (if you’re taking it to an extreme).

What we’ve found that works is just talking it out, and making lists about what are our values and where we want to move towards. That helps clarify things. And if I want to go off on a tangent, that’s fine–as long as I don’t expect him to come with me! If I want to cause a battle over something in church, for instance, I can’t expect him to charge in with me.

MBTI and Marriage: When Thinkers Marry Feelers

Here’s a dimension which is usually thought of in terms of gender differences–but is actually a personality difference. The authors explain:

Although the American population is about evenly divided between Thinkers and Feelers, it appears that about 65 percent of Thinkers are men and about 65 percent of Feelers are women, so natural differences between Thinkers and Feelers are exacerbated by the fact that they are often different genders.

Many gender differences books are written with men seen as Thinkers and Women are Feelers. If that’s your marriage, you likely love most of those books! But if it’s not, you may find those books don’t seem to apply to you, and wonder what’s wrong with you. The authors say, “Male Feelers and female Thinkers often feel that they are out of sync with the world — that they are somehow different from the way they should be.” It’s likely because it’s not a gender difference thing–it’s a personality thing.

As a woman who is a thinker, I found this insight interesting:

But interestingly, Thinking women may receive an unintended benefit. Many Thinking girls grow up to have much more access to their Feeling sides, which means greater balance and greater competence.

On the other hand, Feeling men often feel like they really don’t fit, because they go against the stereotype. And if you’re a thinking woman married to a feeling man, you may start to see your husband as weak. Don’t. See him as someone who can live out the love of Jesus and who cares about people’s hearts. That can be a great strength, especially in a man!

Here’s where problems come in resolving conflict:

Because Feelers are so sensitive to others, they will often go out of their way to avoid hurting people’s feelings. This means they are usually very tactful and diplomatic, but it also means they can be less than 100 percent honest. They know what other people want to hear, so they may tell little white lies or be insincere in their compliments. Thinkers, however, place a high value on honesty and directness. As a result, they are more likely to offend someone unintentionally. What they see as being frank and forthright, others may perceive as being blunt and insensitive.

The main thing to remember about this difference is this:

When Feelers are confused or upset, they want their partners to listen supportively and compassionately. Thinkers tend to want constructive advice about how to fix the problem.

So in a conflict, step outside your comfort zone and give your spouse what they most need!

MBTI and Marriage: When Judgers Marry Perceivers

We talk a lot about extraverts vs. introverts and thinkers vs. feelers, but what most people don’t realize is that the difference that is the most prone to derail marriage is actually this one–judgers vs. perceivers.

I’m going to let the authors explain this:

As you are about to see, Judging and Perceiving have much to do with the way we like to run our everyday lives. As a result, many couples experience their greatest frustrations when they’re different in this type dimension.

One of the key aspects of Judging and Perceiving has to do with the issue of closure. Judgers like things to be settled and often feel a certain tension before a decision has been made. Since making decisions relieves the tension, they typically take in only as much information as is necessary to make a decision and then move on. By contrast, Perceivers feel tension when they are forced to make a decision. To alleviate that tension, they avoid making decisions and try to leave their options open as long as possible . As a result, they are often (but not always) prone to procrastinating. As you are about to see, Judging and Perceiving have much to do with the way we like to run our everyday lives. As a result, many couples experience their greatest frustrations when they’re different in this type dimension.

I think one of the great challenge, too, is that we often assign morality to one or the other. Judgers tend to think perceivers are irresponsible or lazy. Perceivers think judgers are “anal”, to put it bluntly. And so we start to think of ourselves as superior, when it’s really just a different approach to life.

Judgers are planners, and they like to be prepared. Because they expect a set plan to be followed, they often have a hard time shifting gears when the plan unexpectedly changes. By contrast, Perceivers often are hesitant to commit themselves for fear that if they do, they may miss some great opportunity that will come along later. Besides, Perceivers like to act spontaneously and usually adjust well to surprises.

How does this work in everyday life?

It’s very hard for most Judgers to enjoy themselves when there are still chores to be done or projects to be finished. By contrast, most Perceivers feel that there’s always more time, so why not relax or take advantage of some unexpected opportunity.

Can any of you see yourselves in that? One of you wants to get the chores done before you relax on a Saturday. The other wants to have fun!

How Should You Handle These Differences?

Understanding your differences helps so much in marriage! You know why you often have conflict in certain areas. You can better understand how your spouse approaches life. You know what your individual potential pitfalls are.

Just Your Type: Create the Relationship You've Always Wanted Using the Secrets of Personality TypeI found this book really fun to read because I saw so much of myself and my husband in it! And if you’ve been having the same conflicts over and over, and you feel like your husband doesn’t “get” you or doesn’t show you love, maybe it’s just that you approach life differently. Just Your Type is an easy book to read together, because you only have to read the parts that apply to your particular types. And most people find themselves laughing a lot at it!

So pick it up–and start to understand yourselves, and your conflicts, better!

Let me know in the comments–what difference most affects your marriage? Do you see yourself in any of this?

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Marriage isn't supposed to be blah!


Sex is supposed to be stupendous--physically, emotionally, AND spiritually. If it's not, get The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex--and find out what you've been missing.

Wifey Wednesday: When You Love Superman–But Clark Kent Drives You Nuts

When You Love Superman but Clark Kent Drives You Nuts
Has your husband lost his superhero status?

It’s Wednesday, the day that we always talk marriage. I introduce a topic, and then you can link up your own marriage posts in the linky below! Today Tiffany Godfrey, author of The Top 12 Mistakes Married Women Make–and How to Avoid Them,  joins us talking about how our expectations in marriage can get in the way!

Would you agree that God has a heart for marriage?

I would say yes.

But if God loves marriage so much, then why are so many marriages failing?

I can understand the celebrity who doesn’t profess Christ as her Savior or the Muslim woman who denies the deity of Christ.

But what about those of us who have been blood washed and profess to have a true relationship with Christ?

If anyone should have a great marriage, it should be Christians, right?

And I think one of the ways we can discover how to experience an excellent marriage is to consider first how we view our husbands.

The question is, when you look at and think about your husband, do you see him as Superman or Clark Kent?

Because how you view your husband will determine how much love, honor, and respect you give him on a consistent basis.

I Finally Found My Superman!

I want you to think back on the first time you met your husband and then your days of courtship.

Wasn’t he one of the most gorgeous, romantic, and powerful men you knew? He could do no wrong and he was kind, considerate, and loving. Even when your friends and family kept telling you to look beyond his “strong muscles and flawless exterior,” you couldn’t.

You know why? Because you couldn’t clearly see. Your spiritual discernment was not as clear. For this reason, you were only able to see this man’s “Superman” side. And even when he did show a little bit of his Clark Kent side, you excused it believing that it would go away once you were married.

Caught Up!

When you’re in love it’s so easy to overlook people’s flaws.

I know I did.

My husband could do no wrong. He loved God, he had a leadership position in the church. And for our first year of dating, it was the perfect relationship. In fact, after a year, I knew this would be the man I would marry. I would have married him after our first year of dating, but he wanted to wait. “For what?” I would often ask.

“You love me and I love you. We love God. He’s got our backs…”

Yes, God did have our backs, but what I didn’t realize as a young lady in my early twenties was that marriage would require so much more than love and an occasional date night.

Exposed!

After about 3 ½ years of dating, my husband, Dexter and I finally tied the knot. It was great for a while, but I quickly realized that I was no longer a single woman able to make my own decisions about everything.

Have you ever been there?

In shock after being married because you realize things have changed forever?

In addition, you begin to see your husband beyond the Superman muscles and the cape. In fact, he’s taken off his muscle suit and his cape, and the only thing you have left is Clark Kent.

You begin to think, “This is not the man I married! I want my Superman back!”

What Does a Typical Clark Kent Look Like?

Clark Kent is not impressive.

He’s not a horrible guy, but maybe he’s a little messy and he snores in his sleep.

Clark Kent says some things that hurt your feelings, and sometimes he doesn’t even apologize for it because he’s so busy watching TV or texting that he doesn’t even realize you’re hurt!

Clark Kent is not a good money manager and to make things worse, he has a dark side where he dabbles in porn from time to time.

Once you begin to see the reality of your Clark Kent you begin to wonder, “How can I battle against these vices and his flaws?”

And you ask yourself and God if your marriage is worth fighting for anymore.

You begin to wonder if you ever really loved this man. Then your respect for your husband dwindles. And in the midst of your hurt, pain, frustration, and broken promises you cry out to God asking Him to change this man…

I’d Like to Exchange This Husband for Another One, Please!

In your disillusionment with your husband, of course you pray because that’s what Christian women should do for their husbands, right?

But you also start fantasizing about other men. Your co-worker, the deacon at church, or even your friend’s husband begin to look more appealing than your husband.

After all, he’s only Clark Kent and these men are Supermen.

So you think.

This is similar to what happened to me.

We had just had our first son. Money was tight, we were in jeopardy of losing our home, and this caused a snowstorm of arguments.

One morning, after an argument, I left for work. Not long after I arrived, my boss complimented me on my hair.

Fireworks shot off in my mind!

Because I felt so drained and empty from my marriage, that small compliment gave me a sense of validation. And from that point on, it caused me to have a crush on my boss.

I found myself connecting with this man through conversation at work. It was light, but it had the potential to go farther.

Eventually I had to share how I felt about this man with Dexter. It bothered me to have these types of feelings for any man other than my husband. But, I truly believe my confession to my husband prevented me from taking this relationship with my boss to another level. Although I never slept with my boss, my mind and heart wandered and this was just as wrong.

From this experience, I discovered the dangers of mental and emotional adultery.

To me, my boss had become my Superman and he seemed to be more sensational than the Clark Kent husband I had at home.

But it was a mirage, an illusion, and a deception from the enemy of my soul.

In fact, one of my friends once told me, “All men have issues. It just depends on what types of issues you want to deal with…”

I wholeheartedly agree with this statement.

We look at the men at church, at work, and even on TV hoping that these men will rescue us and give us a sense of worth.

But in reality, all men are struggling with something, just as we are. 

Love, Honor, and Respect Your Husband in His Greatness…And in His Humanity

How can you learn to both love and appreciate the Superman and the Clark Kent side of your husband? Here are some tips:

  • Recognize how God loves you and showers you with grace and blessings
  • Look at yourself and identify where you can grow in the marriage relationship
  • Pray that God will help both you and your husband to grow
  • Don’t try to change your husband
  • Appreciate the good characteristics of your husband and praise him for those things

As Christian women, we have a responsibility to do our part to make the marriage work. In other words, we can’t wait for our husbands to grab us, hug us, and say, “I love you!” before we start treating them with honor and respect.

Here’s why: In Ephesians 5:22 we’re called to submit to our husbands. That’s it. This means that we must show respect and honor on a consistent basis — whether he’s being Superman or Clark Kent.

If you want a solid marriage, it’s important to love, honor, and respect your husband when you see him on his good days. And you should also love him and treat him with respect on his bad days because nobody is perfect.

tiffanyThe Top 12 Mistakes Married Women Make...And How to Avoid Them!Tiffany Godfrey is a blogger, author, speaker, wife, and mom. She loves encouraging married women and offering practical tips on how they can do their part to grow in their marriage relationship. She also volunteers with her husband as a Family Life Weekend to Remember Co-Director.

For more tips on promoting a happy, healthy marriage, you can order Tiffany’s book on Amazon, The Top 12 Mistakes Married Women Make…And How to Avoid Them!

You can connect with Tiffany at: CommittedWife.com, a site that specifically speaks to Christian women and offers them marriage tips, interviews, and marriage quotes, based on God’s word. You can also follow her on: Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter.

Wifey Wednesday: Christian marriage postsNow it’s your turn! Do you have a marriage post you’d like to share? Enter the URL of the post in the linky below! And be sure to link back here so that other people can read these awesome marriage posts!

The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex

Marriage isn't supposed to be blah!


Sex is supposed to be stupendous--physically, emotionally, AND spiritually. If it's not, get The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex--and find out what you've been missing.



On Respecting Yourself–and Your Husband

Do too many of us women “let ourselves go” once we’re married?

Last night we held a bridal shower for close family and close family friends at my house for my oldest daughter, and we got talking afterwards.

And today I’m in a chatty mood, so I thought I’d share some of our thoughts, some of our conversations, and a few pictures.

But first, I want to update you on my photo challenge. I told  you yesterday about the Ultimate Digital Photography Bundle that’s on sale until June 29 at midnight EST, and it can help you capture those amazing images of your kids and your vacations and your family that you want to document. So fun!

One of the things I’m trying to do is to learn to edit my photos better, so I totally love the iPhone Only Photography book that’s part of the bundle.

I showed you a landscape pic I took over the weekend:

Landscape

And yesterday I read about how to edit photos, and I tried just a few things for about three minutes. I love the colour of the sky and the water now; I don’t like the sun and the trees. But it’s so much fun just playing around with this stuff and figuring out what all the filters do.

LandscapeTry2

And they teach you how to edit part of the photo without editing the whole photo–so you can change the colour on just a part of it if you’re happy with the rest. I’m going to take another stab at the sun on this photo to see if I can make it less yellow–while keeping the bright blue in the sky and the water.

Tonight I want to read through one of the books on how to capture more memories, and I hope to share with you something tomorrow!

If you’ve ever wanted to learn more about photography, or wanted to figure out what in the world all those settings and buttons are on your camera, don’t miss the Bundle. It’s such a great deal–and the ecourses alone are assume. They’re easy to work through and you really will see immediate results.

Already pretty good at photography? Here’s your chance to learn more with the Intermediate version or even the Professional version. It’s a ton of resources for one low price–and it’s an awfully fun summer project!


Last night, at the shower, we played a game I made up called “match these romantic quotes to movies”. It was actually pretty fun–I might write a post on things to do at wedding showers after all this is over and provide a download. Becca’s had about 4 showers, so we’ve had lots of samples of different games I could share with you!

photo

But at the end of the end of the evening we got talking with Donna, a friend of mine but also an especially close friend of the girls since she was their youth leader for years.

Donna Shower

(Seriously–can you see why I need the photography bundle? Why are my photos always blurry?!?!)

Donna’s a newlywed herself. During the shower I was passing around a notebook so that everyone could write in marriage advice (Katie’s to her sister: “Don’t get pregnant on your honeymoon!“). And as we discussed all of it after most people had left, we got talking about how far too many women let themselves go.

Now I am not trying to shame anyone this morning.

I know that many of us deal with weight issues. I know that many of us are exhausted with little kids, and really–everyone should get a pass while the kids are under 18 months old. Seriously. It’s tough.

But at some point you’ve got to let yourself be a woman again.

Rebecca said last night, “Of course your husband is supposed to love you no matter what and always find you beautiful no matter what. But do you really want to test the ‘no matter what’?” She’s got a point. I mean, how would we feel if he tested it for us?

When we say those vows, we’re not just vowing to stay committed our whole lives. We’re vowing to create an assume, dynamic marriage our whole lives–inasmuch as it depends on us.

And I think that means making some effort to show that you still take pride in yourself and in your husband.

You still think of yourself as a woman first. You still respect yourself.

And always wearing yoga pants or sweat pants and shapeless t-shirts and shapeless ponytails or stringy hair just doesn’t do that.

It really doesn’t.

I wrote a blog series a few years ago called “Fight the Frump”, and on day 1 I showed how I can make myself look perfectly presentable–nice clothes, jewelry, basic makeup, fluffed up hair–in under 4 minutes. It doesn’t take a lot of time.

Behold the before and after pics:

Don't let yourself be frumpy! Let's fight the frump, ladies! #marriage

Fighting the Frump: It doesn't have to take long to look decent!

That’s it–just four minutes.

Read the whole series on fighting the frump. There are also posts on makeup, accessories, and more (the links are in that first post).

In fact, it takes no more time in the morning to put on a flattering top as it does to put on a shapeless t-shirt. It takes no more time to put on a pair of jeans that fit nicely than it does to put on a pair of sweat pants (okay, maybe you have to do up a zipper with a pair of jeans. But that’s not too much to ask). And, in fact, in the summer it takes less time to put on a pretty sundress than it does to put on ugly shorts and a baggy t-shirt!

And when you take care in your appearance, you feel more motivated throughout the day.

You walk with an extra spring in your step! It’s like Flylady, the housekeeping wizard, always says: “Put on your shoes!” When you have shoes on, you feel like you’re at work. And then you actually get stuff done.

This isn’t even a weight issue. There are enough clothing choices available that you can find clothes that flatter–just watch a few episodes of What Not to Wear. It’s all about whether or not we’re willing to put in the effort.

Whenever I talk about this I inevitably have women say, “my husband doesn’t like me to dress up. He likes the girl next door look with no makeup and with jeans, not skirts or girly things.” And perhaps that’s true. Some people can pull it off nicely. But honestly: look at those two pictures. Which one would most husbands feel more comfortable with? Which one would a husband feel proud to walk out of the house with?

I think men should think we’re beautiful even without makeup, but that doesn’t mean that we should never put in an effort for him to say, “I want you to see that I still want to look good for you. Sure, you’ve promised you’ll love me no matter what, but I love myself, too, I love our marriage, and I want you to be super proud!

That’s just one bit of marriage advice we talked about, but I think it’s an important one.

Here’s one little thing that I do, that I thought of after writing all these posts on fighting the frump! (Blogging about marriage really does make you more intentional about your own marriage!). Every night, about 15 minutes before Keith gets home, I go upstairs and put on a bit of makeup and change into a really nice shirt or a sundress, if I’ve been wearing more leisurely clothes earlier. I just like to greet him at the door looking my best. Not because I’m an object, and not because I’m being shallow, but because it’s part of how I can honour him.

Fight the Frump!

What about you? Do you struggle with letting yourself go? Do you find this is a common problem with women that you know? How do you “fight the frump”? Let me know in the comments!

5 Ways to Defeat Insecurity in the Bedroom

How to Feel More Confident in the BedroomYou want a great sex life–but what do you if you’re still really shy being naked, or trying anything rather adventurous?

Many of us get into a “safe” rut in bed. We make love in one position which lets us feel intimate, but doesn’t allow for much exploring. Our hands don’t wander. The lights aren’t on. We just do the deed and we’re done!

But what if you want more? What if you want to experience real freedom with your husband, and feel even more intimate? Well, you’ve got to get over some of the roadblocks that can make you insecure! So let’s look at five common reasons that many of us would rather keep his face up near our face, and stop his hands from going too far:

1. What About Fat Rolls?

You secretly hate your body, and you’re pretty sure he must feel the same way. When you bend over you seem to have three stomachs. You have cellulite everywhere–even places that aren’t supposed to have cellulite. How could he possibly want to explore THAT when you’d rather not even look in the mirror?

Over and over again men tell me in surveys that the sexiest thing about a woman is not her body; it’s her confidence! A woman who jumps in is incredibly exciting. On the other hand, if you dive under the covers and try to keep things short and simple, he’s going to think you’re not really into it, even if you are. And that’s not sexy.

You need to realize the power that you do have–because when we see how powerful we really are in bed, our confidence can return! If you understand how wild you can really drive your husband, then maybe your fat rolls won’t seem so significant.

Solution: Play the timer game. Set it for 10 minutes and just explore his body without letting him move. See the effect you can have on him! If you’re really ambitious, reverse roles and see how excited he can get just exploring you.

2. What About the Smell?

Here’s another reason we often don’t like to encourage our guys to “explore” much–we’re actually self-conscious about what we smell like “down there.” I mean, let’s face it–we can’t honestly tell by ourselves. And what if you’ve just had your period, and you’re still spotting a little? Or what if you really DO smell?

It is a little bit different–a guy’s genitals are right there, on the outside. They’re easily cleaned. But us? Nope. It’s all kind of wet and potentially messy.

So here’s the thing–if this is a problem for you and is wrecking your confidence because you’re just not sure, and you’re worried that he’s just humoring you but doesn’t really like exploring “down there”–then do something! I was asked by BlogHer to take a look at Stay Fresh Gel from Monistat® Complete Care™. Monistat® now offers products beyond yeast infection treatment with the Complete Care™ line. Here’s what it DOESN’T do: it doesn’t mask odor by using a fragrance. In fact, it’s fragrance-free and paraben-free! It doesn’t try to mask anything at all–it helps eliminate odor by restoring feminine freshness and balance. See, the vagina is actually a self-cleaning thing (or at least the inside is; the outside still needs lots of attention!). But sometimes we throw off that balance with things we eat, exercise, sex, or even soaps we use. This helps to restore the proper pH and get you back to normal. And for the one in three women who really do have feminine odor, this helps keep you fresh for up to 3 days with one application.

Solution: Don’t try to use chemical cleaning douches (please please please! That’s so bad for you); actually restore balance. Here’s a coupon for you to use to try it!

3. What About all that Hair?

Here’s another thing that makes us insecure: pubic hair. Why would he want to explore if there’s so much in the way? And the one place we want him to find the most is often hidden underneath quite a bit.

Certainly you can do a full wax, but I’m not a fan for three reasons: First, when hair starts to grow back it can be really itchy. Second, when you wax the hair often has a harder time growing back through the skin and you can end up with ingrown hairs. Not fun. And third, the whole Brazilian wax thing has become popular largely because porn has made it “normal”. That scares me–it’s like it’s trying to get women to look like pre-pubescent girls.

Solution: I like Shannon Ethridge’s tip in The Passion Principles: Simply stand above the toilet with some scissors and clip the hair short. No itch, no fuss, and no mess.

4. What If I Don’t Know What To Do?

You like the thought of exploring more and not just sticking to one routine when you make love, but what if you’re honestly at a loss about what to do? How do you initiate something new? And what in the world do you really want to do?

Sometimes the easiest way to explore more is to think of it as play–not something that needs to be sustained through the whole time (you can honestly get back to your tried and true position), but maybe you start a different way each time.

Solution: Have each of you write down 5 ways that you’d like to make love or 5 things you’d like to do before the “main event.” Put them in a bag. Then each time you make love, pull out a suggestion and start that way! You can always finish another way, after all. But this way there’s no pressure on you to suggest something. You’re just doing what the paper says.

5. What If He Doesn’t Make Me Feel Good?

You’d love to explore, but every time he touches you your head immediately goes to creating a shopping list, because quite frankly it doesn’t feel that good.

We aren’t born knowing how to please the opposite sex. And everybody likes different things! So you have to teach him. I don’t mean correct him or criticize him; but you do have to show him what you like.

Solution: Play the Teacher! One night for 15 minutes you just get to teach and correct him all you like. Even boss him around! Then the next night reverse roles. You may just learn a lot about each other!

Ladies, so many of us lack confidence.

We’re worried about what he’ll think about our bodies. We’re worried we’re secretly gross. We’re worried we’re not that exciting. Stop worrying and just do something about it! Confidence is sexy, and so if you need something to boost your confidence, try one (or all!) of these suggestions.

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I have received product from Monistat® and was compensated to write this review.

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This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older (or nineteen (19) years of age or older in Alabama and Nebraska). Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. The notification email will come directly from BlogHer via the sweeps@blogher email address. You will have 2 business days to respond; otherwise a new winner will be selected. If your comment relates to or describes any product or your experience with the product, do not describe or recommend any use of the product that is not recommended on the product’s packaging or labeling, such comments will be deleted.

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