Marriage Events Coming to YOU This Year

I love writing this blog and encouraging you in your marriage. But sometimes we need something in-person, that’s a little more intense. And that’s where going to an actual event can help! Blogs are great, but setting aside time to laugh, hear great teaching, and think and pray about your relationship is essential, too.

So I want to share with you about two great events coming up in North America, and then tell you how you can bring an event to you–if you’re in Texas, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Colorado, or even AUSTRALIA!

British Columbia Weekend Getaway–November 21-23 2014

Keith and I will be heading to gorgeous Whistler, B.C. in November (yay!!!) to speak at FamilyLife Canada’s Weekend Getaway. We’ve been doing this for eight years now, and it’s one of our favourite things to do together. We sharing our stories, our failures, and even making people laugh (or cry!)

Weekend Getaway Whistler British Columbia November 2014

It’s November 21-23 in the beautiful Fairmont Chateau Whistler (we got great rates for all conference attendees! You’ll never be able to stay at this gorgeous hotel this inexpensively again.) Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday morning there are group sessions with individual couple projects. You NEVER have to spill the beans to total strangers; it’s just for you and your spouse. Saturday ends early for date night, and we’re done by noon on Sunday so you can get home to the kids (or enjoy the hotel if you’d rather stay later). And there’s lots of multimedia and fun.

The 2-for-1 deal ends on Monday, so register today! And if you end up coming because you read it on my blog, come and hi to Keith and me while we’re there and introduce yourselves. I’d love to meet more blog readers!

Weekend Getaway Whistler November 21-23

Passion Principles Workshop, October 10-12, 2014, Orange County, California

The Passion Principles: Celebrating Sexual Freedom in MarriageShannon Ethridge, author of The Passion Principles, Every Woman’s Battle, and more, and sexuality speaker and life coach extraordinaire, is delivering a powerful weekend helping women discover their true, healthy passion. She writes:

Does getting attention from men consume your thoughts?

Have you compromised your sexual or emotional integrity in ways you never thought you would?

-OR-

could you be on the opposite end of the spectrum–where you SHUT DOWN sexually, unsure why you have such little interest in sex at all?

Whether you find yourself swinging too far to the left by acting out, or too far to the right by shutting down, it’s time to find YOUR healthy balance where sex is enjoyed freely without guilt, shame, or inhibition, but only with your husband!

If so, we’re inviting YOU to join us for Passion Principles Workshop for Women

ppfw-450-facebookWhere YOU can learn to:

  • Understand the Fluidity of Female Sexuality
  • Expose the Deeper Meaning Behind Your Own Sexual Thoughts
  • Overcome your negative body image issues
  • Find healing for past sexual abuse or promiscuity
  • Fully Integrate your Sexuality & Spirituality

Whether you’re younger or older, married or single, The Passion Principles Workshop for Women will help YOU experience Sexual and Emotional FREEDOM!

Here’s Shannon talking about her workshop:

Find Your Healthy Balance from New Life Live on Vimeo.

To register or find out more, call us at 1-800-NEW LIFE, or check out their website.

“Girl Talk” Tours Coming to a State Near You!

GirlTalk BannerI’ll be bringing my Girl Talk tour, where I talk marriage and sex, to a church near you (I hope!) It’s a great evening of fun, laughter, and some serious teaching, which works so well as an outreach. Right now I’m booking for the dates and states below, and I would love some help filling up my calendar.

If you know a church that may be interested in having me, please email me their name and contact information, or better still, email me with your email address and then I can send info to you that YOU can pass along.

Please don’t just send me the name of your church; most women’s ministry leaders and pastors get so many emails they don’t always pay attention if an email arrives from someone they don’t know. But if a member of their church forwards information to them–that gets their attention!

So see if you’re in any of the states below:

Colorado, week of October 13, 2014

I’ll be in Colorado Springs filming something for Focus on the Family, and I’d love to speak at a church or two while I’m there! I know this is SUPER short notice, but I bring my PowerPoint and my whole talk, and your church doesn’t have to do a thing except prepare tea and coffee. It’s a super easy event to host!

Email Sheila about Colorado Springs

Pennsylvania, January 16-18, 2015

I’ll be in Pittsburgh, and I’m looking for engagements within 3 hours of that lovely city.

Email Sheila about Pennsylvania

Texas, February 7-13, 2015

Here’s my big tour! I’m coming through the Lone Star State, and I’m looking for churches! I have lots of feelers out, but I’d love some more. I’m so looking forward to only my second time in Texas.

Email Sheila about Texas

Louisiana, March 8-14, 2015

I’ll be in New Orleans, and I’m looking for something within a few hours. If you can get several MOPS groups together, that’s another great option! Let me know.

Email Sheila about Louisiana

Arizona, April 12-17, 2015

I’ll be in Scottsdale for some engagements, but I’d love to fill up my calendar in other parts of the state, too.

Email Sheila about Arizona

Australia, October 5-10, 2015

Yes, Australia! Woo hoo! I’ll be based in Brisbane, but I’m willing to fly to other cities. I mean, how often do I get to Australia? So I’d love to meet all of my Aussie readers!

Email Sheila about Australia

Not in any of those states? When my youngest leaves home, my hubby and I are buying an RV and hitting the road so that we can do more speaking! Whenever I’m planning a tour, I automatically send out emails to everyone on my mailing list who lives in that state to see if they would like to be included. So just make sure you’re signed up for one of my newsletters (like my marriage newsletter), and then you’ll always know if I’m coming to speak near  you!

Technical Headaches, Getting Healthy, and Taking My Own Advice

Hello, dear readers! I thought it was time to update you on what’s going on in my life, and just reach out and thank you for being so faithful to reading this blog. I do appreciate you! So here are just a bunch of things that are on my mind recently.

Sorry About the Site This Week

I know it’s been crashing a lot. Temporarily, usually, but nevertheless, it’s been very temperamental. I spent about 3 hours yesterday on the phone with the server people, and I THINK it’s all figured out. I’m praying anyway. And I’d so appreciate your prayers! It seems as if whenever I’m in the middle of a big writing project or whenever something big happens on the blog, the technical side decides to act up. I’m sure it’s not a coincidence. So thank you for your patience, and if you ever see it down again, just say a quick prayer! I get so many people on this blog everyday from Google, usually because they’re researching a really big problem, like porn use, and I want those people to find this blog rather than a website which tells them that porn is fine, etc.

Have a Pat Answer You Hate?

The reason that the technical glitches were so bothersome is that I’m in the middle of editing my book 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage. It’s coming out with Waterbrook next September, and we’re just working through some changes right now. It should be done in about a month.

One of the things I’m saying in the book is that there are far too many pat answers to a lot of marriage problems, especially in Christian circles. You know what I mean: “If you’re having a problem, just pray harder. When you pray, God can change him.” I’m not saying that’s not true; I’m just saying that’s only a PARTIAL truth. And so often we’re given these pat answers and they make things worse.

So I’d love to know: what are some pat answers you hear that really bug you? Leave me a comment!

How I Quit Diet Pepsi For Good

As my long time readers will know, I had quite the Diet Pepsi habit. I don’t drink coffee, so when I needed caffeine, I’d turn to Diet Pepsi.

I had my last one on December 20 of last year, largely because I was part of the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle sale last fall, and when I read all the great books about real food, I finally realized how dangerous aspartame was. And I quit. And I’ve been drinking teas ever since!

Well, the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle is back with over 80 BRAND NEW books that weren’t in the bundle last year. And they cover everything:

Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle SaleI’ve been looking through the bundle and I love it! There’s one 30-day green smoothie challenge that I think I’m going to try. Great ideas for how to incorporate one smoothie into your life for a month (you still get to eat your regular meals, too). And I always love their books on meal planning. If your family has restricted diets because of allergies, gluten intolerance, or sugar intolerance, there’s a whole bookshelf of books just for you, too! And, of course, there are books on natural cleaning and skincare again.

I’m also really excited about the free bonuses you get, especially the At Home Yoga membership. I love the stretches in Yoga, and it’s so good for your core, but I don’t like the classes at the Y because they’re too focused on the eastern origins of Yoga. But just doing the stretches is awesome, so I’m looking forward to this 4-month membership. Here’s what else you get free:

Don’t miss the sale–it’s 5 days only!

Trying to Find a New Routine for Fall

Ultimate Healthy Living BundleTo go along with our healthier theme, one of the things I’m trying to do this fall is to create a new routine where I go to the gym everyday. It’s not so difficult really; I just bring all my beauty products there and I shower after my workout, so going to the gym is how I get ready for the day, after I’ve checked the blog, done my devotions, and had some breakfast. I like to head out about 9:30.

But I’m saying “I like to head out” as if it’s a habit, and it’s not yet. You see, the key words are “I like to”. Not “I do”. Big difference.

I know it’s only been two weeks, but I’ve missed almost half the days. A dentist appointment comes up, or my site goes down, or my *ahem* period starts. And you can’t expect me to go to the gym on THAT day, can you? (Speaking of which, today’s the LAST day to enter the Stayfree challenge right here on the blog to win a $100 gift certificate! Just read how you can pamper yourself during “that time of the month“).

Anyway, I want to go the gym, and I want to make this routine, but there’s ALWAYS something stopping me from going. Any advice? (Maybe I need to read 42 Days to Fit; it’s part of the Ultimate Bundle, and it actually looks quite good. But if any of you have been there, I want to know how you created a routine even when things pop up!)

Can I Take My Own Advice?

On Monday I talked about how life is full of change, and those changes are stressful, even if they’re GOOD changes.

Well, our family is walking through some good changes right now, and I’m finding it stressful! And I’m trying to figure out if I can actually take my own advice when it comes to parenting.

It’s hard when you know what the right thing to do is, but they’re still your babies. And you want to still protect them and almost make decisions for them, because you’re the mom and you love them so much and you know them so well and and and and and…..

You know what I mean?

I can’t reveal too much here, because it’s not my story to tell, but hopefully one day soon I can. In the meantime, this year will be a great test about whether or not what I write about I truly believe.

Anyway, that’s all I’m saying about that.

Want to see my girls in action? My youngest daughter, Katie, has quite the YouTube channel, and here’s a recent video showing both girls:

I Really Do Get Grumpy

And now just one more thing. I really DO get grumpy on the *ahem* first day of “that time of the month”. I seriously do. I was just a bear recently, and I was shooting daggers out of my eyes at my husband all day. I’m just glad I knew why. It’s one of the benefits of keeping track on the calendar. You realize you’re not REALLY mad, you’re just slightly temporarily insane. And this too shall pass. And it did.

Okay, so what advice have you got for me? How do you keep a routine when things get in the way? Have any pat answers you just hate? How do you let go of your kids? I’d love to know!

And don’t forget about the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle! It all ends on Monday, so don’t miss your chance to pick it up!

My Blind Spot of Shame: Admitting Your Mistakes

Admitting Your Mistakes: why sometimes it's hard--because we don't even notice them!

Do you have a difficult time admitting your mistakes? I do–and it’s not always a pride issue. Sometimes it’s because I have a definite blind spot.

On Fridays I like to run my columns–or my short pieces that sum up what I think about family, love, and society. Here’s a piece I wrote back in 2008 about the difficulties I have remembering appointments. Considering the school year is upon us, I thought many of you organization-minded mamas could relate!

Next time I go to the orthodontist’s office I will have to wear a paper bag over my head. I just forgot yet another of my daughter’s appointments.

It was easy to rationalize away the first one we missed. Keith had the girls that day, and we just didn’t share information in an appropriate way. In other words, I forgot to tell him. The second time, though, was entirely my fault, and I didn’t have a fallback excuse.

Feeling very badly, I promptly instituted a new fixture in our house: the calendar on the fridge. All our appointments were dutifully recorded, so that none could escape our notice.

However, the fridge door is not the most ideal place for a calendar that uses wipe off markers. People constantly rub against it as they stare, mouth gaping, into that appliance, in the process obliterating our appointments forever.

The third one I forgot, though, is still easily forgiven, because my mother’s best friend had died and we were rushing out of town for the funeral. How can an orthodontist compete with a funeral? In my moments of honesty, though, I admit that I would have forgotten anyway. It’s become a habit.

The strange thing is that I don’t forget anything else.

My dentist, doctor, and optometrist have nothing to complain about. I’m at every committee meeting, every family meeting, every church meeting. But when it comes to my daughter’s orthodontist, I have a blind spot. I just can’t seem to keep appointments in my head.

After the fiasco with the funeral we told Rebecca it was now her job to remember, since I was obviously not up to the task. She said she would. And she did remember, right after I yelled, in a panic, “Becca, when’s the orthodontist appointment!?!?!”. She checked her little yellow card, which she had helpfully stowed deep in her closet, so that she could find it if she ever had the urge to look for her old winter snowsuits. “Yesterday,” she meekly replied.

My husband once operated a full-time pediatric office, and I remember how we used to feel about those parents who continually missed visits. They’re scatter-brained, irresponsible, and pathetic excuses for mothers and fathers. And now I’ve joined their ranks. I feel like a slug, especially when I stare into my empty wallet and realize how much my lapses of memory are costing us. But we all have blind spots, don’t we?

And often our blind spots are exactly the things that bother us in other people.

I get so annoyed when people fail to show up to meetings I’ve called, but here I am doing the same thing. Similarly, I’m forever thinking critically of parents who feed their offspring junk, but to be honest, if my girls ask, “can we have chocolate before breakfast?”, my response is usually, “Is your father gone yet?”. And if the answer is in the affirmative, we all partake together, if just a little, because it’s common knowledge that the chocolate you eat before your day really begins doesn’t count.

Perhaps you have blind spots. You get mad because your spouse keeps the house in chaos, but every time your anniversary rolls around the significance of the date bypasses that part of your brain which reminds you to buy a card. Or your mother’s overindulgence of your children drives you crazy, but you fail to see how taking them to McDonald’s because you can’t be bothered to cook is proof that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Nobody likes admitting your mistakes.

It’s far more preferable to blame the rest of humanity for being worse than we are. Unfortunately, my orthodontist bills are making it harder and harder for me to do that. I have considered obtaining affidavits from my dentist and my doctor attesting to my exemplary record of attendance. (I did forget the time of a dentist appointment once, but I still had the date right, and that has to count for something.) I don’t think, however, that this will heal the breach. Only groveling is going to do it. I wonder where we keep the paper bags.

Best of Reality Check

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Wifey Wednesday: Some AWESOME Free Ebooks for You

Marriage is the bedrock of our society, but it sure isn’t easy. And so today I want to share with you two quick resources that can help you navigate your own marriage and grow your relationship so that it’s rock solid–and fun!
Free Marriage Ebook Marriage Hacks

Marriage Hacks–Free Marriage Ebook

First, Tyler Ward—author of Marriage Rebranded—recently asked 25 leaders for their single best marriage advice for young people. The level of insight and wisdom he received—compiled in the free eBook Marriage Hacks—is guaranteed to help many navigate this uniquely beautiful relationship called marriage.

I am honored to have been one of the leaders Tyler interviewed for Marriage Hacks and excited to share this incredible new resource with you!

Download It Here

Marriage Hacks is a compilation of the best marriage advice for young people from 25 leaders including me (!), but also:

  • Gary Chapman, The 5 Love Languages
  • William Paul Young of The Shack
  • Gary Thomas of Sacred Marriage
  • Danny Silk, Keep Your Love On
  • Jeremy Cowart, Celebrity Photographer
  • Jonathan Jackson, Emmy-Award-Winning Actor

And many more…

The book speaks to some of the most common questions in marriage including…

  • how to keep things from never going stale
  • how to handle personality differences
  • how to cultivate emotional intimacy
  • how to spice things up in the bedroom (that’s me again!)
  • what to do when your spouse isn’t as intentional in your relationship as you are
  • and more…

You can download this awesome book right here.

Free Marriage EbookBringing Sexy Back–Free Marriage Ebook

Then I’ve got my own free ebook, Bringing Sexy Back to your marriage, with 36 tips on how to ignite your intimacy.

It’s my gift to you when you sign up for my marriage newsletter. Just enter your email below and you’re set!

The marriage newsletter goes out once a month, and it has links and descriptions of all of my marriage articles from the month before, as well as a theme for the month (like spending more time with your hubby, spicing up your marriage, marriage and kids, etc.), with links to older articles you may not be aware of. And then I throw in some funny stuff, too!

You can sign up for my marriage newsletter below, and if you want to sign up for my daily updates for my blog posts, you can do that as well below.

If you already subscribe, the link for the book was in the email that went out two weeks ago. It will also be in the next marriage newsletter.


Subscribe to our mailing list

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Sign Up for My Marriage Newsletter!


Hope those give you some great resources to help your marriage today!

I’m on my way home (finally) from the last of my jaunts this summer, and I’m back to work full time tomorrow. I’m also planning an amazing retreat this long weekend to talk to God about my direction, purpose, and plan for the year ahead. Keith’s coming with me and we’re going to spend part of the weekend praying for our plan together as a couple. I’m so looking forward to it–I feel like I need some clear direction from God as we begin another year–and I’ll share all about it next week! I’ve never done a full weekend purpose/planning retreat before (I’m planning not to talk at all for two days and just to listen to God), so it’ll be really interesting!

Here’s What I Did with my Wedding Dress

Last week I did something very odd.

After almost 23 years, I opened up the box that held my wedding dress (it was vacuum sealed and taped), and let my youngest daughter try it on.

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It was a little wrinkled, but still looked pretty much like it did that day 23 years ago!

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We tried to steam it a bit and then we headed outside for some fun photos.

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Here’s the two of us wearing it:

Wedding Dress Cmpare

I was 21; Katie’s 17.

So why did we do this?

Well, as much as it was fun for Katie to try it on, it’s a very 90s dress:

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…and neither of my girls wants to wear it for their weddings. And that’s honestly okay. The bodice is nice, but they aren’t overly enamoured with the puffed sleeves or all of the lace.

And, you see, my mom headed back for the seventh time to a children’s home in Kenya last week (we’ve been there as a family 3 times). We love it there. The Mully Children’s Family has rescued over 2000 abandoned or orphaned children from the streets and from prison, and given them a home, education, and love. They even raise money so that the kids who are able can go on to post-secondary education. They also have a program where they rescue teenage moms and put them in a 3-year intensive training program so they can acquire skills to get a job or start their own business. And they supply these girls with micro-business loans upon graduation. My mom and I have been involved with setting up knitting enterprises with many of these girls.

And one thing that often happens when you have loads and loads of young adults living in close proximity is that some will fall in love and want to get married.

And they don’t have wedding dresses.

So I decided that since my daughters would not be wearing it, I would send it somewhere where it could bless a number of young women. And in Kenya, they don’t mind the bows and the lace! They like it!

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(My mom has beautiful pictures on canvas of some of the women from Kenya in her backyard.)

After my reunion with the dress, then, we put it in a vacuum bag,

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sealed it all up,

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and stuck it in one of the many hockey bags my mom is bringing over there.

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I prayed over it that it would bless some young women, and that their marriages would be wonderful, godly ones. That they would raise the next generation to love God and to support each other.

It’s really neat at Mully Children’s Family, because all the different tribes in Kenya are there, and often marriages that happen are cross-tribal. For those of you who understand the history of tribal violence, this is a really big deal. And it’s nice to think I may play a very small role, and that my dress can have another life.

It occurred to me that many of my readers may also have wedding dresses that, like mine, won’t be worn by their children or grandchildren.

And so you wonder what to do with it. Mine was in that huge box and moved with us about 5 times over the years. It was time for it to go.

If you’re looking for something to do with your wedding dress, I saw an absolutely lovely news item about a group of women in Fort Worth, Texas, who take wedding dresses and transform them into beautiful gowns to put on babies who never make it home out of the NICU. They can be laid to rest in something beautiful that symbolizes love.

What to do with your wedding dress: NICU Helping Hands will transform them into gowns for babies who never make it home from the hospital.

I dare you to watch this news item without tearing up. It’s so lovely. (I can’t embed the video, but please click through and watch!)

Here’s a shorter video of what they do:

What I Did with My Wedding DressI was going to send my wedding gown there, but I have such a connection to Kenya it seemed better to send it with my mom. But for those of you wondering what to do with your wedding dress, I think this is a beautiful opportunity.

If you would like to send your wedding dress, or volunteer as a seamstress, or make a donation, or RECEIVE the gowns for use in a hospital where you work, all the information is right here (along with lots more videos). They distribute the gowns to NICUs throughout the United States and Canada.

My son was buried in his christening gown that his grandmother made, but many families don’t have that option. I think this is such a wonderful way to touch a family that is hurting, and bless them with something tangible. If you’re interested, please look into it–and let me know if you do! In fact, send me pictures of you sending off your wedding gown (or starting to sew some gowns), and I’ll put them up on Facebook!

And now I have said good-bye to my dress for good. And I’m honestly okay with it.

Huge Back to School Shopping with Kids, Friends, and Staples

It’s hard to believe that we’re in the middle of August, but we are. And that means that summer is almost over–and school is just around the corner (though I don’t like to think about that!)

So when Staples contacted me and asked if I’d be interested in writing a Back to School post, I jumped at the chance, especially since they were including a generous gift card. So I called up my best friend, who has Samantha (about to start kindergarten), Blake (starting middle school) and Mickaula (starting high school). That’s right–three kids starting three different schools this fall! And I said: “hey, wanna go to back to school shopping, on me?”

She said yes.

Big surprise.

I took my youngest daughter with me, too, since she needed a few things, but since we homeschool, and her desk/office is pretty well set up, I didn’t need a bunch for us (just an ink cartridge for my oldest daughter and some pens). But we had a blast with Susan and her kids!

Staples Back to School1

Samantha was overjoyed with the thought that SHE GOT TO GET A BACKPACK AND A LUNCHBOX!!!! OH, JOY!!!

Staples Back to School 2

In fact, we had a hard time getting her to put the backpack down. She insisted on putting all of her school supplies inside the backpack (I really don’t think Staples likes you to shop that way, but the staff at Staples in Belleville, Ontario, was awesome!), so she did. And then we had to take it all out to pay later. (Here she is with my Mom, who is also her “Nana”).

Staples Back to School 6

Staples also had lots of “regular” backpacks for people who might not like Minnie Mouse, and, of course, they had lots of lunchbox accessories, like thermoses and water bottles.

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After checking out all the “little kid” stuff we needed for Samantha, including crayons, a glue stick, pencil crayons, and some kindergarten scissors, we turned to the older kids. Staples does have “Back to School” checklists for different ages, too:

Staples Back to School 15

We decided to head mostly for the portable school supplies, but Blake and Mickaula did have fun trying out the chairs:

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And the desks:

Staples Back to School 8

It is so important that kids have a good place to do homework. The kitchen table will work in a pinch, but to have a desk with a chair with proper back support is a wonderful thing. I work too much on the couch and it is so bad for me–I’m trying to move back to my desk, too. Help you kids develop good habits when they’re young!

One thing they had that I don’t know if it existed when I was in high school was locker organizers. So cool–you can get little shelves and magnets for the inside door for post it notes, calendars, pens, etc.

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Mostly, though, we bought the typical school stuff: pens, pencil cases, binders, highlighters.

Staples Back to School 3

Staples Back to School 5

Here are Sheila’s tips for school stuff:

Buy the heavy, durable binders, not the floppy ones or fabric ones. If you buy good ones, and insist your kids organize their papers when they do homework at night, those binders will last you for years. If you get the floppy ones, you’ll be lucky if they see you through the school year. It’s better to invest in good binders early.

And buy highlighters! They make note taking so much easier. I loved highlighters when I was in high school and they really helped me study. I colour-coded everything. Maybe it’s a girl thing more than a boy thing, but it does make things easier. And it helps you take notes in an organized fashion (so does buying pens of different colours).

Staples Back to School 10

One of the most fun parts was all the deals! I guess Staples Canada is trying to get moms in the door, because they had crayons for a quarter, pencil crayons for 80 cents, packages of paper for a dime, and notebooks for a dime. It was awesome!

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Staples Back to School 14

Staples Back to School 13

I bought a ton of crayons to put in the Christmas shoeboxes we do with Samaritan’s purse–so if you do shoeboxes, now is a great time to stock up!

It took us about an hour to get absolutely everything for everyone, but we did it!

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Samantha lost steam pretty early, but luckily the iPad display captivated her, and she climbed right up and played a game.

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After we checked out, we had spent a grand total of $375, which helped 6 kids (my two girls, Susan’s three girls, and a foster girl she has who isn’t pictured for obvious reasons) get equipped for back to school for absolutely everything they could possibly need. And a lot of that stuff will last for several years yet!

When they were walking out, Samantha insisted on putting her backpack back on immediately.

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I just want to say a special thank you to everyone who reads this blog faithfully, because my blog readership is large enough that I get to participate in fun events like this–and then I can bless others with it, too.

So thank you for reading, because you set up Samantha, Blake and Mickaula to go back to school–and gave my kids some fun stuff, too! And we had an awesome time.

Love Your Lashes: Super Fun Younique Giveaway

I’ve got something different for us today!

I have to admit that I just love makeup. I know not all of my readers do, but I just love the fact that makeup can be such a quick pick-me-up: put on a bit of lipgloss and some good foundation and some mascara, and you just feel better. I’m not talking caked on makeup; I’m talking makeup that’s natural that helps you look put together.

But one problem I’ve always had is my bottom lashes. I don’t have very many. So it doesn’t matter how much mascara I put on; they never really “pop”.

So when reader Christy Mather asked if she could share her Younique 3D Fiber Lashes with my audience, I said, “sure!” (especially since she sent some for me to try out! :) ).

Here I am wearing it on one eye and not the other:

Sheila YouNique

And here’s an “official” picture:

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How does it work?

You get a really pretty case:

Younique Case

With two wands in it. One is a gel that provides the “binding agent”, I suppose, and the other the tiny fiber lashes.

Younique Products

You start with your own mascara:

 

Sheila Mascara

Then you add the gel, and then the fiber lashes.

Sheila Gel

And then your lashes look a ton longer!

Sheila Younique Done

Younique isn’t just 3D Fiber Lashes–it’s also a full line of makeup and skin care. But the lashes are what makes it truly unique. I’ve never seen anything like it before, and it’s so fun! I wore them at a wedding I went to recently, and they stayed on beautifully.

And Christy wants you to know that if you love makeup, and if friends are always asking you for tips, this may be a great business opportunity, too. You can become a Younique distributor. Here’s lots more info about that.

Want to see more? Here’s the official video of how the 3D Lashes work:

Christy is generously giving away one set of the fiber lashes. I’ll do the draw next Friday, and the winner will be notified by email. To enter, just fill out the Rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And remember to check out

What I’m Reading This Summer

Top 10 Summer Reads

Summer is one of the only times I get to read novels. Or rather, it’s one of the few times I let myself read novels, because I’m one of those people that can’t put a book down until I’ve finished it. So I’ll ignore everything else in my life until it’s done. That’s why I only read on holidays.

Recently my husband and I were camping just outside of the city where my husband works, so that his commute wouldn’t be as long and so that we could relax together at night at the campground.

I brought my Kindle along, but it wouldn’t connect to their wifi, so I ended up browsing the library of the campground to see if there was anything interesting.

I picked up a romance novel by a very popular writer (it doesn’t matter who) and sat down to read it. It was SO BAD. I mean really, really bad. My daughters make fun of how formulaic Christian romances are, but secular romances are just as awful.

In this one, she described a man’s eyes like this (when the woman first met him at an airport):

His eyes were mesmerizing and intoxicating….no, almost dangerous. They were so dark she could almost swim in them. She felt herself shivering, trembling, as he turned his gaze towards her. And then she knew: in that brief, ten second glance those eyes knew everything about her.

Okay, what exactly do those eyes look like? I turned to my husband and said,

Honey, can you gaze at me as if your eyes know everything about me?

We ended up laughing hysterically for about fifteen minutes.

I couldn’t read it. It was just too awful.

I did pick up a thriller I enjoyed by Jeffrey Archer, though. So I thought I’d write a post on ten books I’m now reading, or have recently read, that I’ve enjoyed, to help you as you try to find something worthwhile to read this summer! I’m going to start with novels, and then finish the list with three non-fiction books.

1. Eve’s Daughters by Lynn Austin

One of my favourite Christian novels of all time. Lynn Austin writes the tale of a woman having trouble with relationships, but you can trace the root of it back several generations. And as she looks at how different generations of women have handled love, marriage, and heartache, she shows how understanding your roots, and understanding the real grace of our Saviour, can help rebuild a broken heart. From an immigrant woman not sure if she loves her husband, to a woman who lets passion result in a hidden pregnancy, to a modern woman trying to figure out whether to stay with her husband, we see how real love and commitment does triumph.

Eve’s Daughters is such a hopeful book, and it’s lovely.

2. Don’t Let Me Go by Catherine Ryan Hyde


The world is full of broken people, and everyone in this book is broken. An 8-year-old girl, living in a run-down small apartment building, is being neglected by her drug addicted mother. Her neighbors, though, are determined that she not be apprehended by children’s services and placed in the system. So they step in to fill the gaps.

In doing so, many of these neighbors have to overcome their own brokenness. And as they administer tough love to the mom, they start to see a family repaired. It’s just such a touching book. Not a Christian one, but it still shows the truth that even in broken people grace can break through. I don’t often weep at books, but I did at this one.

One of the big insights is that much brokenness is really isolation, and the cure for it is community. If we all lived in community, we could heal so much more easily. I think there’s a major message in there from the church. I thought Don’t Let Me Go was beautiful.

3.  Safely Home by Randy Alcorn

One of my favourite novels ever. I can’t read it without crying. It’s about the persecuted church in China, but it will touch you like little else you’ve ever read. The description of the motivations of Christians in China cut right through you. There’s a story in the book that actually happened–a village had everyone move out. They left all their homes behind. The reason? Everyone in the village was already a Christian, so there was no one left to witness to. They had to spread out. The whole book is like that. Tons of spiritual warfare stuff, too.

Safely Home will change you (in a good way).

4. Dominion, Deception, and Deadline by Randy Alcorn

I do love well-written Christian books with a great plot, and Randy Alcorn always delivers. Here’s his modern series focusing on homicide detective Ollie Chandler, investigating different murders with characters we’ll come to love. More John Grisham than the typical Christian novel, but with a huge focus on the spiritual element, with glimpses of heaven and spiritual warfare, too.

I really enjoyed the whole series, but you can buy each book separately, too.

5. The Atonement Child by Francine Rivers

This wasn’t my favourite of her books (I enjoyed Leota’s Garden and the Mark of the Lion series better), but I did like this one. A young student at a Bible school is brutally raped and impregnated one night by a stranger. The Bible college requires her to announce her rape publicly so that others don’t assume she has “sinned”. She refuses, and eventually is kicked out.

The book is more about the relationship between her former boyfriend, her new boyfriend, and her best friends and how everyone handles the rape. I thought it was far-fetched when I first read it (how can a Chrsitian institution blame a girl for being raped?), but my eyes have really been opened this year about how much legalism there still is in the church, and so I think Atonement Child is an important one to revisit.

6. Anything by Jeffrey Archer

I’m not the kind of girl who escapes to romances (and I’ve written about why romance novels can bother me). When I want to escape, I want a sweeping epic story. And I do love Jeffrey Archer for that. He’s not a Christian author, but he tells a good story, and there aren’t usually graphic sex scenes at all (unlike Ken Follett, who also writes sweeping epics).

I found The Fourth Estate in that library at the campground and devoured it, and it reminded me how much I like him!

7. Atlas Girl by Emily Wierenga


What do you do when you grow up in a legalistic family to parents who have different dreams in life–and you’re caught in the middle? You develop anorexia at 9, and spend your life trying to please everybody.

Emily has written a touching memoir about battling anorexia, finding love, experiencing grace, and finally finding healing. The memoir takes us around the world as Emily tries to escape pain, but ends up right back where she started, as she finally finds healing.

Emily’s written on the blog before, and shared an excerpt of Atlas Girl here. She also wrote a while ago on why she couldn’t get undressed on her wedding night, a confession she also makes in the memoir. I’m reading it by the beach this summer, and I’d encourage all of you who need healing from your past to pick up Atlas Girl, too!

8. Sacred Pathways by Gary Thomas

And now we’re on to nonfiction!

Do you struggle with doing devotions? Do you struggle with hearing God and experiencing God when you sit down for half an hour with a Bible and highlighters and a prayer journal? Maybe you just have a different Sacred Pathway.

Gary Thomas’ premise is that there are nine pathways, or ways that we most relate to God and experience God. One of those ways is through reading your Bible analytically, but many of them are not. You may experience God through nature. You may experience God through service. You may experience Him best through liturgy and candles and tradition.

I can’t say enough good things about this book. My whole family has read it now (my mother and my daughter are both trying to get Bible studies started in their respective circles of it). It helped me understand myself better, and why I need to go camping every year, especially in the rain!

As I’ve written before, many women don’t think their husbands are spiritual leaders, and long for someone to lead the family in prayer. But perhaps your husband just has a different spiritual pathway. Read Sacred Pathways. It’s awesome!

9. Why Gender Matters by Leonard Sax


In this world where people are saying that men and women are interchangeable, Leonard Sax, a scientist, writes a groundbreaking book showing that gender is, indeed, hardwired into us.

I so enjoyed this easy to read book, and any parent will! It’s got great commentary and what kind of schooling works well for most boys and for most girls; for what moms and dads contribute to a kids’ development; to what discipline techniques work better for boys and what ones for girls; for how to handle teenage risk-taking among boys; and more. If you’re raising both genders, you’ve probably noticed how they’re different. This book will assure you that you’re not crazy; that girls and boys really do need different parenting–and different schooling.

Every teacher should read this, too, because it’s a great commentary to why boys are also getting left behind in schools. Check out Why Gender Matters.

10. People of the Lie by M. Scott Peck


Scott Peck took the New York Times Bestsellers List by storm in the 1980s, I believe, with his groundbreaking book The Road Less Traveled. Peck was (is?) a clinical psychologist, and his book about grace resonated with people (my daughter’s reading it now and loves it!). He wrote several more, and then followed up with this one, his most Christian. Peck was on a spiritual journey as he wrote, and I believe became a Christian in the middle of writing People of the Lie.

In this book, he’s making an argument that “evil” should be a psychiatric diagnosis. Some people are just plain evil, and there is no way to treat them. They aren’t just narcissistic or disturbed or anything like that. They are actually evil, and the only way to deal with it is with a spiritual, not a psychiatric, approach. And if we realized that some people were evil, we’d stop using psychiatric ways to cure them.

And who are these evil people? They’re everywhere. They’re often married. They’re often professionals. They’re all among us. Peck shares stories of patients he’s tried, and failed, to treat, that he now believes are simply evil. I started reading the book when my husband was having trouble with someone at work, and Peck’s description fit this person to a T. People of the Lie is riveting, and it will make you see the world in a new way.

Maybe that’s not a good book to end my list on, but it is hopeful at the end. And it is a fascinating summer read!

So there you are–whether you like fiction or non-fiction, I hope there are some books that can entertain you this summer while also making you think and turning you more towards God.

Now I’d love to know–what are you reading? What do you think are great summer reads? Let me know in the comments!

This post contains affiliate links.

 

My Daughter Being Hilarious–and More!

My youngest has an awesome YouTube channel, and here’s her latest installment:

What Books Taught Her (that the authors never intended). I dare you to get through the Twilight rant without laughing:

And now for Katie being more serious:

Last week she was one of 15 quizzers from the Eastern Canada district of the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church sent to the international competition for Bible quizzing, which was held this year just north of Toronto (yay! We didn’t have to travel much. Next year it’s in Minnesota). They were quizzing on the books of Romans and James in the English Standard Version.

My daughter at internationals quizzing

Her team made it to the finals of the Consolation A division, and ended up winning that quiz. You can watch the whole thing here (hit the video that’s 79 minutes long–the times when Katie is featured are listed in the next paragraph). The first part of the video is a 20 question quiz. You get 30 seconds to answer a question, and most questions are jumped on after two syllables (in the district meets throughout the year you tend to get the whole question out–but this is internationals). To “jump”, the kids are sitting on benches with a sensor that’s hooked up to a board, and when you take your weight off the sensor, your light goes off. So that’s how they know who got the jump.

At 2:00 Katie leads in the national anthem. Katie jumps and answers 4 questions correctly–at 14:30, 28:15, 30:50, and 40:40–to win the quiz. It’s really pretty awesome to watch how well these kids know these books! Like I said, they have to be able to answer after just two words.

Katie (the captain) congratulating one of her rookie quizzers on pulling an answer out of nowhere.

Katie (the captain) congratulating one of her rookie quizzers on pulling an answer out of nowhere.

Katie can quote ALL of Romans and James, word perfectly. And she can tell you any verse. So proud of her!

Katie jumped on basically nothing, just said an answer--and actually got it right. Here's her surprised look.

Katie jumped on basically nothing, just said an answer–and actually got it right. Here’s her surprised look.

She ended up 6th out of 120 quizzers, and top Canadian. (But before you Americans get too proud, last year the top quizzer WAS a Canadian. Booyah!)


A Note About the Comments Section

I just want to take a moment and say something about the comments.

I want this blog to be a safe place where women can get great encouragement and inspiration for their marriage, their sex life, and their parenting. I’ve thought and prayed a lot about my perspective, and I’m quite comfortable with it, as are my publishers and the many people who hire me to speak.

However, I’ve run into trouble over the last 3-4 years with commenters who completely disagree with my stance on many things–specifically people who think that women don’t do enough in marriage; that most porn use is due to women’s refusing sex; that women should not set boundaries, since that is the job of the man who is in authority; that divorce is almost always women’s fault; and that the aim of marriage seems to be hierarchy rather than oneness.

In general, these commenters have been male, and they tend to comment critically multiple times on posts–and on multiple posts.

What I started to notice about two years ago was that my regular commenters–the women who come here day in and day out–were no longer commenting because the comment section was getting so nasty. My comment section was actually more dynamic 3 years ago than it is today, largely because of the negative tone that took over.

I didn’t want that, and I finally banned about ten commenters who were really spreading dissension. There is absolutely no problem with people having their own viewpoint, but I want this to be a safe place for the women who come here. And if my regular, faithful readers–who are the target of this blog–are being chased from the comments section, that isn’t good.

My eyes were really opened at the meetup I did in Ottawa a few weeks ago, because those women–who read me everyday–in general don’t read the comments because they either don’t care what other people think, or they don’t like it being so negative.

So once again, I think it’s time to restate my policy. I do not want to spread a view of Christianity which I feel is wrong, because 9000 people a day arrive here from Google alone–people who may have no Christian background at all, or who may be searching. For these people, in particular, I want to portray a positive image of what I believe Christ wants for marriage.

If people want to spread another view, they are free to do so on their own blogs.

Therefore, I will delete comments that I feel are harmful to the mission of this blog. I will let through contradictory comments, but, in general, I will only let through one from each person on a blog post. I won’t let arguments go on and on. And if certain people insist on criticizing me on every blog post, I will ban them, too. If I believe that comments spread a view of marriage that I think will turn visitors off of the church, I will also delete them, because I care very much about the witness of this blog and its chance to influence those who don’t know Christ.

And now I’d like to let my husband say something. Here’s Keith:

The main problem (it seems to me) is that these men are relentlessly putting forward the erroneous teaching that Biblical headship mean absolute authority.  In their view, women should not be permitted to set boundaries for their husband as he is “in authority over them” (as one commenter put it) and thus wives must submit without question to all the husband’s demands regardless of his attitudes and actions, be they sinful or not .  They further go on to characterize women who do not submit in this extreme sense as being disobedient to God and try to convince people that women (like my wife, Sheila) who teach a more moderate view are not following proper Christian doctrine.

Now I know there is a great deal of debate about what headship means, but I think we can all agree on one thing: our model as husbands is our Lord Jesus Christ Himself.  But a subtle (and deadly) error has crept into these men’s teaching. They feel they ARE Christ to their wives and demand the same obedience from their wives that she would give to Christ Himself. This is a gross misinterpretation of Ephesians.  In my mind, although Christ is my model as a husband, I fully recognize that (unlike Him) I am prone to sin, error and selfishness.  I have no problem with my wife “calling me” if I am slipping.  I believe the VAST MAJORITY of Christian husbands feel the same way.  And I think we all feel the same disapproval of men who demand this kind of absolute submission from their wives.

When Sheila first told me there were men specifically coming to her blog to disagree with her on issues of submission, I couldn’t believe it.  Do they honestly have nothing better to do with their time than troll around on women’s websites looking for fights about this issue?  That would just seem pathetic to me if it hadn’t been so hurtful.  So to all the women who have been hurt by what these men have said: Please know they are not the majority opinion and they do not have the monopoly on Biblical truth that they claim.

A successful Christian marriage works best when God is the one in complete authority and both husband and wife, in submission to Him, are seeking each other’s best interest. True, God has given a role of leadership to husbands, but the clear model of Christ is servant-leadership, not despotic-leadership.  Rather than proof texting from specific verses, we need to look at the whole teaching of Scripture in this area.  The clearest commentary I have is this: Jesus said you would know them by their fruit.  The Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  To me it is very clear which sort of home is more likely to provide an environment for these fruits to flourish.

May God bless you in your marriages as you seek to honour Him.

What I Learned About My Readers from an Ottawa Meetup

Ottawa MeetUp

Last week I was in Ottawa staying at my oldest daughter’s townhouse while my younger daughter was practising for a quizzing tournament with her team. And since I was in a different city, I thought I’d try a “meetup”.

Ever heard of those? Basically it’s when an online community decides to meet “in real life”, and then chat a bit. So I put an announcement out on Facebook and sent a note to people on my newsletter group who were in the Ottawa area, and told everybody I’d be at a certain Menchie’s at 7 p.m. on Friday if they wanted to drop by.

Nine lovely women came by–(let’s see if I can remember all their names): Sonya, Alexis, Colleen, Louise, Danielle, Amelie, Christa, Leanne, Tracy, and me–and one little man:

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We started out the evening with something very important. We all got frozen yogurt (which is awesome) except for one poor woman who was on a cleanse. But she’s getting healthy, so that’s good! I was not getting healthy. I used a lot of chocolate toppings. And I don’t regret it.

2014Ottawa Meet Up 1

And then we just gabbed. I asked people’s advice on a Reader Question I’m trying to get ready in the next little while: how do you prepare for marriage long distance? Like, how do you make sure that he’s not a serial killer or something? And we had a great chat about that.

Amelie asked me how in the world I ever got started writing about sex, and we chatted about how it’s hard to find a safe place to talk about it. A number of women said that on getting married they faced an interesting dilemma: they had become Christians later in life, and they wanted to follow God, but they didn’t know what was okay in bed. And so they felt like everything was dirty.

Then another woman piped and said, “you feel that way even if you WERE a Christian your whole life!”

Alexis commented, “that’s why I’m glad Sheila’s here–to reclaim sex. Christians are supposed to know what’s best about it!” And we laughed.

We chatted about how ugly the world has gotten–with pornography, and child prostitution, and erotica. We chatted lots about breastfeeding and keeping your house liveable when the kids are little.

And then, speaking of keeping the place liveable, I decided to open the box of books of my new edition of To Love, Honor and Vacuum in front of everybody.

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If you ever feel like you spend your life cleaning up, and nobody really helps you or appreciates you, then this book is great for you!

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I had fun figuring out where everybody had first heard of me. Danielle and Sonya had heard me speak years ago in Ottawa. Amelie had found my book report download for homeschoolers (if you sign up for my homeschooling newsletter you’ll get it!). Tracy had met me when Keith and I spoke at a FamilyLife marriage conference. And a number of them commented that I had emailed them back after they asked me a question. That made me feel a little badly because I only answer about 5% of the emails I receive now. I receive so many that my assistant goes through them first. I wish I had more time for personal touch!

Then, after everybody had asked me questions, I had some of my own. A few of the ladies there–like Leanne and Alexis–do comment quite a bit on Facebook and sometimes on this blog, and I’ve met them before. But most read but don’t say a whole lot. Friday, the day of the meetup, was a day with an odd comment thread on the blog after my post “Where’s the Dad?” I was saying that whenever you read a news item of some horrible family thing gone wrong, there’s usually no dad in the picture. We need more dads in the picture.

A number of commenters took me to task, saying that dads aren’t there because of welfare laws, and child custody laws, and rape shield laws, etc. etc., which make men feel marginalized. I agree that the law marginalizes men; I just don’t think that’s an excuse. When you’re standing before God, and He asks, “why didn’t you care for your kids?”, you can’t say, “Because the welfare laws made my one-night stand girlfriend (I forget what her name was now) feel like she didn’t need me.” And then some commenters said that this was actually my fault because I argued that marriage should be a partnership, rather than giving all authority to men. So it’s my fault that men have one night stands with drug addicts? Thanks.

Anyway, these women told me that they hardly ever read the comments, and when they do, they often think these people are bizarre. I think I get caught up in the debate because it’s often these fringe comments that do get made. People who agree don’t say much. So I tend to think everyone thinks the way some of the commenters do. It’s good to know I’m not alone!

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And we talked about the polarization in the online world. Here’s an example: with the modesty debate, one side says that women must watch what they dress because they can cause men to lust, and they are responsible for that; the other side says women should be able to wear whatever they want, and men are responsible solely for themselves.

The problem is that if I argue the modesty end of the spectrum is too extreme, people think I’m then saying, “anything goes!” Really, on the vast majority of the issues, I’m just saying the answer is in the murky middle. And yet I get accused of all kinds of things on this blog because I don’t tend to be on either extreme on pretty much any issue.

It was very nice to hear that the vast majority agree with me.

Then Alexis asked a really good question:

how do you teach your 4-year-old not to show her underwear in public without making her ashamed of her body?

Great question! I’m going to have to use it as a post soon, but I’d love some insight. If any of you have any thoughts, please leave them in the comments!

So it was a ton of fun, and the yogurt was great, and it was neat to see people in real life whose names I’ve seen on Facebook. And I think I’ll do it again! So sign up for my newsletters and then check your inbox and check on Facebook. If I’m coming to your neck of the woods I’ll let you know!