10 Weird Things About Sheila

Top TenIt’s Top 10 Tuesday! And I thought that for today’s installment I’d share with you 10 weird things about me that you don’t know (and maybe you’ll wish you never did after you read this. :) )

1. I Am a Tea Fanatic

It’s almost a sickness. I can’t go into one of those looseleaf tea stores without coming out with a ton of tea.

It’s because last December 20 I quit Diet Pepsi, and I hate coffee, but I still need something with caffeine to drink. And I figure if I have lots of different flavours of tea then I’m not really depriving myself.

So I buy little bits of teas to try them out and blend them and see what I like. Here’s my tea drawer:

My tea drawer

Then, once I’m sure I like a tea, I get a whole can of it:

My Tea Cans

Tea features in my daughter Katie’s latest video (it’s about halfway through; and bonus, you get to see my house!)

2. One of my Favourite Snacks is Chocolate Chips and Milk. With a spoon.

When I get a craving for sweets, this is what I get.

Hey, it’s got calcium in it!

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3. I’m Actually Quite Introverted in Public. I’m Scared of Small Talk

Seriously. I speak all the time in front of really large audiences and it doesn’t phase me one bit. I don’t even really get nervous anymore. I can go on the set of a TV show or a taping and I’m perfectly fine.

Sheila at Focus

But if you get me in a small group with people I don’t really know and try to make small talk, I’m a little at a loss. I’m afraid it makes me seem a little stand offish at times, because sometimes after church I bolt rather than talk to the people around me if I don’t know them well. And I know that’s exactly the wrong thing to do (and kind of cowardly). But I feel flustered.

Which makes going to my husband’s work parties really stressful for me. I want to get to know his work buddies, but I honestly dread walking into a room where everybody knows each other except for me.

Of course, that’s my issue and I’ll have to get over it. It isn’t good to shy away from people. But it is difficult…

4. I’ve Got Gallbladder Issues. Or Maybe Not. But I Sure Hope That’s What It Is!

Haven’t mentioned this too much on the blog, but back in July I started getting these intermittent HORRIBLE stomach pains. It took me a few weeks to figure out that they were related to eating fatty foods, and the more I researched it the more it sounds exactly like gallbladder attacks. It’s absolutely horrible.

So I’ve stopped going to restaurants entirely, and I eat pretty much totally clean. The good news is I’ve lost 15 pounds. In fact, I’ve lost so much weight that my dress pants don’t stay up anymore–like the pants I wear to speak. And most of those pants don’t have belt loops. At my last speaking engagement I had to use safety pins to keep them up.

But in the meantime I’d really like this fixed, but absolutely all of the tests that I’ve had point to pancreatitis, not gallbladder. And there are no real treatments for pancreatitis. I go to see the surgeon on Thursday, so I’m praying that she’ll be able to say, “yes, it’s gallbladder, just a weird presentation, and we’ll take it out for you!” Because honestly, I don’t know how much more of this I can take. It’s nothing that will kill me, but it’s awfully uncomfortable.

5. One of the things I would grab if there were ever a fire in my house is a blouse my great-grandmother knit.

I have things my grandmother and my mother knit, too! I come from a long line of knitters.

Here’s Katie wearing the top her great-great-grandmother knit:

Katie in a top my great-grandmother knit

6. I never liked Michael Jackson. Ever. Even when he was cool.

In fact, I never liked most popular music. I always pretended to, but I never really did. And Michael Jackson always struck me as whiny–even when I was 13.

7. I’m Actually an American. Sort of!

Here’s something kinda weird. So I was born in Boston while my dad was at Harvard, but I only ever lived there for 6 months. So I’ve always considered myself a Canadian.

But now I’m an adult and I go back and forth across the border to speak a lot, and I have a lot of American income. And I’ve been trying to collect that income using an IRS form saying I’m Canadian.

So I had a note from the IRS recently telling me I had to either provide proof that I’d renounced my U.S. citizenship (because they knew I was born in the U.S.) or provide my social security number.

And I’m like, “Whoa, I’m actually American. I better do something about that!” So since then I’ve got all my paperwork in order and I can now travel under an American passport. No more hassles when I try to cross the border! When I was applying for my social security number a while back they tried to tell me that I wasn’t really American, and for the first time in my life I had this surge of patriotism–“But it’s my birthright!” And so now I’m American. And Canadian. And it’s kinda cool.

8. My mother has a grand-daughter who is not actually related to me.

So a little while ago my best friend started caring for a little baby who needed a home. My mom wanted to give my friend a break, so every week she’d take the baby for a day.

When that baby got to be a year old, she came up for adoption, and my friend and her husband decided to adopt her. Except that now my mom had been caring for her for a day a week since she was born, and she figured that she may as well keep going since the baby was so attached to her (and vice versa).

That baby is now 5, and she calls my mom “Nana”, just like my daughters do. But once that little girl became her granddaughter, then it only seemed fair that the other two older kids in the family become her grandchildren, too. See, my friend and her husband don’t have any extended family, so the kids didn’t really have grandparents.

For years my mom was Nana to just two girls (mine), but now she has three more grandchildren! And she takes them to movies and watches their soccer games and goes to their birthday parties. And that little girl still cuddles in and hugs her quite often (she’s older than she looks; she’s tiny for 5 and so everyone still picks her up!)

Mom Holding Sam

Every Sunday my mom makes the snack for the kids in our youth Bible quizzing class, and the little girl “helps”. So last week we’re in the middle of quizzing and the little girl is passing out muffins and she announces, really loudly, “I love you, Nana.”

It’s funny because she HAS to sit with my Mom at church. It’s so important to her. So my mom always sits with their family. And often their family has extra kids with them, so there’s not always room in the pew for my husband and me. Which honestly is fine. But recently our church hired a new outreach pastor, and my mom was talking to him about her daughter. It took her a few minutes to realize that the pastor and she were talking about two completely different women–because the pastor assumed that Mom’s daughter was my friend, not me! It makes sense–everywhere you go in church Mom is being crawled all over by that little girl and talked to by my friend’s kids. It’s absolutely the cutest thing.

We always laugh because one day that little girl will understand that being adopted (they don’t hide that fact at all) means that she’s not actually blood related to her mom. But not only is she not blood related to her mom, her mom isn’t actually blood related to her grandma!

But you know what? I don’t think it really matters.

Staples Back to School 6

9. I have never watched the movie Titanic.

I just can’t handle watching movies about real things where people died or suffered horribly. I don’t think I could watch it when the ship went down–because the ship really DID go down and just thinking about families being separated from each other makes me absolutely sick.

It’s like Holocaust movies–I can’t watch them either. I already know a ton about the Holocaust; it’s not that the movies teach me stuff I didn’t know and make me sad; it’s that I can’t handle having pictures put to my thoughts. I saw Schindler’s List in theatres and I still regret it. It still haunts me.

It’s important to remember the horrors that we have inflicted on each other so we don’t repeat them, but I can’t emotionally handle watching it. I hope that doesn’t make me shallow.

10. I’m touring all over the U.S. in 2015-2016. And in Australia, too!

I’m in Texas in February, Louisiana in March, Arizona in April, Indiana in September, and Brisbane/Melbourne in October. Plus I’ll be around Canada frequently, too! I’m still adding dates to all of those tours, so if you have a church that would be interested in hosting my Girl Talk, just email me and my assistant Tammy will get some info out to you!

So there you go: 10 weird things about me. Have any weird things yourself you’d like to share?

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Why It Can Be Hard to Respect Your Husband

Speaking in Whistler

My husband and I just spent a weekend speaking at the FamilyLife Canada Weekend Getaway marriage conference in beautiful Whistler, British Columbia! So much fun. I love speaking with him. And today I just want to share something I told the women in the women’s only session about how to respect your husband.

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I love speaking with my husband. I spend most of the year doing my “Girl Talk” event, where I come into churches and talk about marriage and sex, or doing women’s retreats, when I talk about how to trust God–no strings attached. And I do love speaking to women’s groups. But speaking with my husband is great because we get a bit of a break, away, and we get to do something together! Plus the more we talk about marriage together to prepare, the better our marriage gets.

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I have no idea what we were saying here, but these are awesome expressions:

Speaking at FamilyLife

Funny story: we had a bit of a conflict before the giving the conflict talk–and the conflict talk went great! I told Keith we should do that more often. Then he said, “Well, the sex talk is next…”

Anyway, during the women’s talk I was sharing what I think is one of the problems women have with respect and husbands.

Men Are Like Waffles--Women Are Like Spaghetti: Understanding and Delighting in Your DifferencesIt all starts with that waffles/spaghetti thing, explained by Bill and Pam Farrel in their book Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti. Basically, men are like waffles: they live their lives in boxes. When they’re in their work box, they’re thinking about work. If work is good, they’re happy. When they’re in their home box, they’re thinking about home. They tend to focus on one thing at a time.

Women aren’t like that. We’re multitaskers, and little bits of spaghetti weave their way into everything. It’s really so that children don’t die. We can wash dishes and talk on the phone and make sure that a child is safe all at the same time. Our brains are in multiple places at once.

It’s a good thing usually.

But this spaghetti, multitasking thing can be bad when it comes to respecting your husband.

Here’s why: Let’s say that your husband has one major area of weakness. Maybe he’s bad with money. Maybe he struggles with porn. Maybe he yells too much at the kids. These are all bad things, and they do need to be worked on. Absolutely. But because we’re spaghetti, we see these bad things, and these bad things worm their way into everything else, so that we’re really incapable of seeing our husbands as good anymore. That one bad thing has clouded everything.

I’ve seen this with friends of mine. He struggles with one area, but let’s say he’s a great dad. She never, ever praises him for being a great dad, because really, how can he be a great dad if he’s also bad with money–or struggling with porn? Sure he may have fun with the kids, but that doesn’t make up for it, does it?

Or let’s say that he texts you something nice, or he buys you flowers. You assume that he’s trying to make up for something bad he did, rather than just trying to show you love. All the bad stuff worms its way in, and you can’t see anything he does in a positive light.

What does that do to a marriage? A man may have an area he really needs to work on (we all do, after all), but it will be much easier to work on that area together if you are also thanking him for the things that he does do well. If you acknowledge those things and look for them and thank him, he’ll feel appreciated. And when you feel appreciated, you will want to work on your bad spots. You will know that you aren’t a failure; this is just one area, and you can tackle it together.

On the other hand, if you never thank him for anything, because how could you respect a guy who does X, then he will feel “nothing I ever do is good enough”.

And if he feels that, he’ll be too demoralized to try to work on the big thing.

So that’s my challenge to you today: fight against the spaghetti principle, and start really thanking him for what he does do well. Don’t let one thing impact the whole way you see your marriage.

I hope that helps, and I can’t wait to speak with Keith again!

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Random Thoughts, Respect, and Reading!

I’ve been sitting here staring at my computer screen for about 15 minutes trying to figure out what to write. I have a backlog of Reader Questions to answer, and usually I do those on Mondays, but I feel a little brain dead right now.

…Speaking at a Weekend Retreat

I’m just back from speaking at a women’s retreat up in Muskoka (northern Ontario), and it was a riot! I shared about living “No Strings Attached”, about the things that we often hold back from God and the things that keep us from living a full life.

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SheilaMuskokaNoStrings

And we ended up cutting some of those strings!

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We talked about how when we live wholly for God, we live a bigger life. It’s scarier. It’s more risky. But it’s so much more worthwhile.

Specifically I was sharing from my book How Big Is Your Umbrella, which talks about the things that we yell at God when life is really tough, and what God whispers back. You can get that book as part of the Christian Living Bundle Sale–85 + ebooks, courses, and mp3 downloads, worth over $1100, for just $34.95. But it’s up tonight at midnight EST! Check out all the books you get in this post.

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…and then the Ultimate Christian Living Bundle Sale will be over!

Two of my closest friends came up for the weekend with me, which was fun. But it SNOWED! It is way too early for winter, even for this Canadian girl.

SheilaMuskoka2

…I Don’t Like My Gall Bladder

…and I’d really like to see it gone. Unfortunately it’s not cooperating, and all the tests they’ve done so far haven’t shown anything conclusive. But I’m just sure that’s my problem. The good news? I’ve switched my diet to completely clean eating. The bad news? Yesterday I was tired and hungry and busy so we cheated and went to a restaurant where I thought I was ordering something relatively safe. I haven’t had an attack in 3 weeks, you see.

But I was up for several hours in pain again last night. Dear gall bladder: go away. Dear doctor: please take it out soon. Thank you.

…Thinking About Thanking Your Man

In other news, I received a neat email from Emily, one of my readers. After reading this post on why a simple thank you can transform your marriage, she told me this:

My husband is away this week. I gave him a pile of notes, one for each day he’s gone. Normally, those would be fairly sappy love notes. This time I tried something different. Each note starts with thanking him for a way he blesses me or our family. I’m hoping that will be more meaningful for him, and it was a fun exercise to come up with 6 different things I appreciate about him.

A great idea!

Lately I’ve been struck by how women tend not to thank their husbands for little things. Sometimes it’s because we’re overwhelmed by all the big things we have to do that saying thank you for something small seems ridiculous. Doesn’t he get how hard we work? But you know, it’s just being polite. And if we look for ways to thank him, I think we’ll notice how many little things our husbands DO do.

I’ve heard of several marriages breaking up this weekend. And it’s made me a little sad, which is perhaps why I’m having trouble thinking of a big overarching theme for a post today. But please, ladies, no matter where you are in your marriage, can you try to say thank you today for something? Just thank him. I have some stories I’d like to share on this but I can’t because they’re not mine to share, but I need to figure out a way to do so anonymously or something, because this is a huge deal. I have seen so many women lately just discount their husbands’ efforts or focus entirely on how hard THEIR lives are (and they are, no doubt), but in so doing they’re pushing their husbands away and they’re losing the intimacy and friendship that could help them get through the difficulties in their marriages.

Just say thank you. Seriously.

Let’s Stop It with the Disrespect

Exhibit A:

Erotica for women today is almost entirely focused on some sort of bondage. When did we decide that a man degrading a woman is sexy and is okay? Sexual play? Fine. Domination and whipping and humiliation? Not okay.

I wrote last week in my post about Pulling Back the Shades that we need to reassess what passes as sexy for women today, and I think this goes to the heart of something important: if we train our society to think that humiliating women is sexy, then why do we think it’s going to stop in the bedroom, or that it will always be between two consensual adults?

Exhibit B:

Up here in Canada there’s a scandal going on regarding one of our country’s most popular news commentary dudes: Jian Ghomeshi. Multiple women have now come forward to say that he forced them into 50 Shades of Grey-like scenarios, and it was definitely NOT consensual. I’m going to write more about this once I’ve been able to process it, but it’s gross.

Exhibit C:

Women are getting incredibly catty with one another. You see it in the celebrity gossip about what starlet hates what other starlet. We see it in TV shows like Desperate Housewives, where the women are at war with each other.

Why should we expect men to respect us if we women don’t even respect each other?

So what can you do? Don’t participate. When you see a link to some article about stars hating each other, don’t click it. Don’t watch shows that have women disrespecting each other. We are never going to create a culture of respect if we allow ourselves to be sucked in by the opposite. Let’s demand more of our media, and more of ourselves.

And for pity’s sake, let’s stop gossiping about other women and let’s try instead to help our friends when they’re going through a tough time. Instead of picking up the phone and talking to another woman about some friend and what she’s doing, just pray for that woman.

…Thinking About Wisdom from of Old

When I did my birthday retreat (I take a day and pray through my goals for the upcoming year, and ask God to give me words and verses and songs that I can cling to for the year ahead), one of the things I did was make a decision to read more GOOD books this year. I don’t tend to read enough since I’m on the computer all day, and at night I just want to collapse and knit and turn my brain off. But I need to go deeper, and so I’ve decided to spend a half hour reading a quality book every night from now on.

And one of the things I decided was that I was going to read more of the Christian classics–Tozer, Dwight L. Moody, etc. They have such interesting things to say, and God used them so mightily, and yet we tend to forget them today.

When I saw how many awesome classics were included in the Christian Living Bundle I got really excited. I’m especially interested in the ones on prayer, since I think God is calling me to learn more about prayer in the year ahead. These classics are amazing (they’re the reason my mom bought the bundle!), and if you want a challenge in your life to go deeper, I’d really encourage picking up the bundle.

I’ve talked mostly about the parenting and marriage books, but the classics are important ones, too. Check them out:

And the devotional ones (including one by Tozer!) will help you in your daily walk, too.

I think we all need more God in our lives, to help us with gratitude and respect and to cut those strings that hold us back. This is a great resource to help you on your walk. And don’t forget–the Bundle is gone tonight at midnight!

Tomorrow hopefully my head will be clear and we’ll be back for Top 10 Tuesday! Thanks for listening to my rant. I think I’ll go for a walk and try to clear my head a little bit more.

The Incredible Value of the Ultimate Christian Living Bundle–with Bonuses!

Who among us doesn’t want to lead a life worth living?

With great kids, a loving marriage, a successful career or business and a closer, faith-filled walk with the Lord. But for many of us, making that a reality is big challenge!

Balancing life’s priorities can seem a bit overwhelming at times. The pressures of work, the need for finances, the demands of parenting and the resulting strain on marriage can leave us weathered, weary and wondering what really works in life?

That’s where the Ultimate Christian Living Bundle comes in. Ultimate-Bundles.com called in some best selling authors, leading experts and top business professionals to address the most common challenges faced by families and individuals today – all from a solid, Biblical foundation.

How Big Is Your Umbrella: Weathering the Storms of Life, Second Edition_medium_image_attachmentAbout 3 times a year I share with you awesome opportunities to buy bundles–tons of books bundled together for one low price, that will never be seen again! So many books that there are bound to be several dozen that you really enjoy and find helpful. And this bundle is no exception–I especially love the parenting, devotional, and sharing your faith resources (and I love the four novels simply because I love NOVELS!) Plus my book, How Big Is Your Umbrella, about walking through grief, is also included.

 

 

For the ridiculously low price of just $34.95 (for the PDF version) or $39.97 (for the eReader version), you can get access to a carefully curated collection of eBooks and eCourses with a total combined value of over $1,140 that addresses these issues with stunning clarity and practical application.

For the family…

The bundle contains 10 wonderful books focused on incredibly inventive ways you can craft the marriage you signed on for. To complement that subject, they added 8 more books focused on parenting and passing on your faith to your kids. That wouldn’t be complete without books just for kids so they also included 8 children’s books that parents can read with their children. To close out the content for family life, the highly praised Singing Bible MP3 version was added (a $25 value all by itself). It actually teaches children the story of the Bible not just random stories.

Sheila says: one of the best books for kids is A Perfect Pet for Peyton by Gary Chapman which explains love languages to kids!

For your professional life…

You will find John Muratori and Michael Pink’s six -hour Christian Wealth Building course ($77 value) which was complemented with Bob Lotich’s 31-day devotional Managing Money God’s Way. There are a total of 14 business related books and courses including Zig Ziglar’s powerful Born To Win course (that Seth Godin and Dave Ramsey rave about), Dr. James B. Richards, Wired For Success – Programmed For Failure and Untold Secrets for Creating Wealth by Brig Hart and John Beehner. You’ll even find one of the best selling Christian business books of all time, The Bible Incorporated – In Your Life, Job & Business.

To ignite your faith…

Rounding out the package, Bridge Logos and Moody Press made a series of classic Christian literature available from generals of the faith like Charles Spurgeon, D.L. Moody, A.W. Pink, E.M. Bounds, Calvin, Wesley, Edwards and more who wrote about grace, prayer, faith and an overcoming life.

In addition to these wonderful classics, the Ultimate Bundles team snagged 12 heart-stirring devotionals from authors like A.W. Tozer and Nancy Leigh DeMoss that speak to matters of faith that are sure to inspire. Let’s not forget Gary Chapman’s Extraordinary Grace or Ray Comfort’s Way of the Master for sharing your faith with others. Both heartbreaking and inspiring, don’t miss Philip Cameron’s, They Call Me Dad, the story of one man’s fight to save orphans from human trafficking.

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Sheila says: Oh, my goodness, They Call Me Dad is amazing and riveting and I was crying by page 2. What a story! It kept me from some serious work yesterday for several hours while I was devouring it. Now I want to head back to start an orphanage in Kenya…

 

 

 

The Ultimate Christian Living Bundle is an extraordinary value.

But it still gets better…

Bonuses BundleThe Ultimate Bundles team asked several sponsors to step up to the plate and with no strings attached, provide meaningful BONUS GIFTS. One of the first to step up was Dayspring Greeting Cards who offered a choice of heart-warming gift card packages to choose from. Another, is a downloadable DVD workout series for getting in shape and maintaining health. With a retail value of $62.99 it includes a Biblical study guide for stewarding your health. Bonus gifts alone have a total retail value of over $160.

 So now you know…

For as little as $34.95 you can receive over $1,140 worth of valuable eBooks and eCourses that address the issues of life most of us face at one time or another, from a profoundly Biblical worldview. The BONUS GIFTS alone are worth more than four times the price of the bundle! So, if you want to ignite your faith, strengthen your family and help your professional life, there’s no better place to start! All the hard work has been done for you…

The Ultimate Christian Living Bundle will only be on sale for 6 days – from 8am (EST) on Wednesday, November 5th until 11:59pm (EST) on Monday, November 10th.

But don’t wait until the last moment – there are only 18,500 bundles available and once they’re gone, they’re gone!

 

You can buy with confidence because your purchase is covered by the Ultimate Bundles 30-day guarantee: you have a full month to enjoy all the books and courses in the bundle, and if you don’t feel like it’s made a huge difference to your family’s life, you’ll get your money back in full!

Here’s what you need to know about the sale:

When? 8 a.m. (EST) Wednesday, November 5th until 11:59 p.m. (EST) Monday, November 10th (or until 18,500 bundles are sold).

What?  84 eBooks plus eCourses and more, PLUS over $160 worth of bonus products you’ll really use!

Where? Purchase the bundle HERE.

How much? Well now, that’s the best part. The entire package is worth over $1,140, and it’s yours for as little as $34.95. Sweet deal, right?

When you’re ready, you can either buy here directly, or right through the website. It’s fast and easy, and you’ll have your bundle sent to you via email within minutes.

Click here for more info or to buy now.

Remember, this bundle is available for 6 days only, from 8 a.m. (EST) on Wednesday, November 5th to 11:59 p.m. (EST) on Monday, November 10th (or until 18,500 bundles are sold).

Want to know exactly what’s included in the bundle?

Take a look through the categories, as well as the full list of included resources.

Business & Personal Finance

Christian Classics Series

Christian Living

Devotional Life

For Children

Inspirational Novels

Married Life

Parenting

Reaching the Lost

Click here for more info or to buy now.

Remember, this bundle is available for 6 days only, from 8 a.m. (EST) on Wednesday, November 5th to 11:59 p.m. (EST) on Monday, November 10th (or until 18,500 bundles are sold).

Disclosure: I have included affiliate links in this post. Read the fine print about this bundle and read the answers to frequently asked questions about the bundle.

Filming at Focus on the Family, Colorado MeetUp, and More!

Last Tuesday I flew from my daughter’s place in Ottawa to Colorado Springs. And I had such an amazing time! I wanted to share with you some of the highlights.

First, I got to speak at a morning meeting for a MOPS group in Denver, since I was in the area.

DenverMOPS

MOPS groups are so much fun to speak at! My only regret: I didn’t get to hold one of the babies. I just love holding babies. It’s been too long since I’ve had one of my own. but I shared my Girl Talk with them, and we had a Q&A, and it was a riot.

Then I went to the offices of Waterbrook, my publisher for my upcoming 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage.

Waterbrook

Since I was going to be in Colorado Springs anyway, my editor arranged for a big meeting with all kinds of people in marketing, publicity, editing, etc. I met all the bigwigs, and we talked for two hours about how they’re going to do the book launch and how they can help. It will be officially out on August 18, and I’m so excited! Now I just have to finish editing it this week…

After that was the big coup de grace–the reason I went to Colorado Springs in the first place. I was filming part of a DVD series for Focus on the Family for newlywed couples, talking about sex. It was so much fun to finally see the building and be part of Focus!

FOTF sign

Then they did my makeup and hair and I got to sit under lights wearing a blue satin top.

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Think about that for a moment. Hot lights. Blue satin top.

Let’s just say that after a while I stopped moving my arms.

It sounds like it’s going to be a great curriculum, and I don’t know how many of my stories will make the cut. But I love doing these types of things. Reminds me that I really should film more video for this site, because I like speaking and talking into the camera, and you guys really just read what I write. You don’t hear me. I think I’ll steal the camera back from my daughter, who confiscated it to film her own YouTube videos, and start vlogging myself soon. AFTER I finish the editing of course. Sigh…

Then on Thursday night I had another “meet up”. I emailed everyone on my list who lived in Colorado and told them I’d be at a particular frozen yogurt place on Thursday night. And we had a few turn out! We ended up talking for almost 2 1/2 hours. And no on knew each other beforehand!

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We talked about what I should blog about more, about how to teach kids about sex, about submission in marriage, and more! Most of all we just heard each other’s stories.

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I went on a few rants, but I think I did less talking than a lot of the others. I can’t tell you how much fun it is to meet people who actually read the blog! There was one couple there who had dated long distance for 3 and a half years before marrying 3 months ago. There was a woman with a 5-month old baby, who had three more little kids at home, who had just celebrated her tenth anniversary. A woman with three teens trying to figure out her place in the world now that her children have grown. Another woman who writes and blogs–like me. And then there was my assistant. I stayed at her house all week and met her family–and met her! And she’s been working for me for 3 years! But it was the first time we were actually together in real life.

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So fun to meet Holly.

I heard some great stories that night, and I’d like to share some with you in time. But they’re not mine to tell. I asked one woman in particular to write a guest post, and I think she will. She has some important things to say.

Best of all, I got to tell these people stuff I CAN’T share on the blog about my family and other things. We were all laughing together, and the poor boy working at the yogurt counter (that Holly knew) I think was trying to shut the place down, and we were still talking.

Before we left, though, I asked Lara to teach me how to tie the scarf that she had around her neck–and she did!

MeetUpScarf

On the way to the airport, Holly took me for a drive through “Garden of the Gods”, these amazing rock formations. Here I am by Balancing Rock:

1017140846e

I’m back home now, getting ready to get back to blogging myself and finishing writing. But it was a fun trip, and I wanted to show you some of the things I’ve been doing. Whenever I’m somewhere for a few days I think I will do a meetup–they’re really encouraging for me, too, to meet people who read me regularly, even if they don’t always comment. It’s fun to put faces to my blog readers. And it’s neat to come up with new ideas and to know what they struggle with. The other thing it does is ground me. I have a lot of issues in the comments with people I can’t let through because they’re off on a tangent or rude, or people who have one persistent theological issue they’re trying to push. Because they comment most frequently, it can seem like EVERYONE feels that way. But they really don’t. So it’s nice to talk to “normal” people and know what they’re going through.

My next big trip will likely be Texas in February, and there’s still time to get your church in on that tour! I’m also doing Louisiana in March and Arizona in April. Just email me if you’d like me to come to your church! And be sure to sign up for one of my newsletters, and then you’ll get notified if I’m ever doing a meetup in YOUR area.

One of the biggest points of praise for the trip is that my health was fine. As many of you know, I had some issues last May and needed surgery. Thankfully, those issues have completely resolved. But my body decided there’s no point in being healthy, so let’s get something else to act up! And my gallbladder has, causing tremendous pain. At least, I’m sure it’s my gallbladder, but nothing is cooperating by showing up on tests. So I have a ton more tests ordered, and meanwhile I have to live with it, eating absolutely nothing with grease, etc. The good news: I’m losing weight. The bad news: I feel pretty terrible quite often. But I was really careful last week, and I made it through!

Thanks for reading, everybody! I do appreciate my readers. I’ve had my biggest month ever on the blog, and things keep growing, and that’s really exciting for me. If there are things you want me to share about more, leave them in the comments!

Some Weekend Links

It’s Thanksgiving in Canada, and I’m getting ready for two turkey dinners! One at my aunt’s, and then a small one at my daughter’s in Ottawa with her boyfriend and her best friend. Just the four of us–three university students who crave a good meal, and me!

In honour of Thanksgiving, let me share this one video that is my favourite of all time (#70skids)

In all seriousness, though, as my girls get older and move on with their lives, I am deeply thankful to God that they both have faith, and that they both have sought out friends who also have faith. And with the chaos in the world today, I am so grateful and thankful for my country as well.

I’ll Be in Colorado This Week!

I’m coming to Colorado Springs this week to film some things for Focus on the Family, and if you’re in Colorado, I’d love to meet you! Here’s how:

Wednesday, 9:15 a.m., Bethany Lutheran Church near Denver (4500 E Hampden Ave, Cherry Hills Village)

I’ll be at their MOPS meting giving my signature Girl Talk! Come on by if you’re in the area. Join the Facebook Event here!

Thursday, 7:30 p.m., Meet-up at In the Moo Self-Service Frozen Yogurt, Colorado 105, Monument.

If you’re in the Colorado Springs/Monument area, I’ll be dropping by In The Moo for some frozen yogurt. Come on by! I’d love to meet you–and have you meet other women who read To Love, Honor and Vacuum!

And Now, for something more serious….

So I’m sure you’ve all heard about those celebrity nude photo hacks. Really sad. Actress Jennifer Lawrence said,

I was in a loving, healthy, great relationship for four years. It was long distance, and either your boyfriend is going to look at porn or he’s going to look at you.

That made me really sad. It assumes that everyone will look at porn. It ignores the effects of porn. And as I’ve said before, you can’t defeat porn by becoming porn. The problem isn’t porn itself; it’s what porn does to you, and how it messes up your arousal process and your idea of intimacy.

Another thing for all of you women who have ever thought, “if only I were prettier he wouldn’t be tempted to look at porn”. We’re talking about Jennifer Lawrence! So once again, proof that porn use is not about you; it’s about a compulsion, and it needs to stop.

Can You Help Covenant Eyes in their Fight Against Porn (and get paid for it!)?

Covenant EyesCovenant Eyes is a great resource that helps with internet accountability. You can install it on all your devices, and then it sends an email to a person of your choice if someone tries to access a site that isn’t good.

Thy want to improve their service, and so they’re seeking feedback from married women with children. Here are three ways you can participate:

Fill out a survey

  • Incentive: Special e-book bundle from Covenant Eyes
  • Plus, a chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card in a raffle!
  • Must be completed by October 24

Test a part of the Covenant Eyes website. This interview should take 15 to 30 minutes.

  • Incentive: a $15 Amazon gift card for completing the interview
  • Plus, free Covenant Eyes software for your family for three months while you participate in the Market Research
  • Must let Covenant Eyes know by October 15th to participate. Email Leigh Seger if you’d like to.

Single question e-mails. Simply respond by e-mail to the question-of the-day for a week. Covenant Eyes will e-mail you the questions.

  • Incentive: a $25 Amazon gift card
  • Takes place from October 20 – 24

Interviews are conducted by the Covenant Eyes User Experience department to:

  • Find out how people use Covenant Eyes software/website.
  • Find problems that users have with the software/website.
  • Give out gift cards from Amazon to thank people for offering their opinions and time (Now that’s fun!).

If you would like to participate in any of these offers, please e-mail Leigh Seger and she will provide you with additional details to participate.

If porn is a struggle in your marriage, don’t forget to follow my “Dealing with Porn in Your Marriage” Pinterest board!

Inspiration for A Great Marriage

Always refuse to give up on each other!

Hello, everybody! I’m a little under the weather today, so I thought I’d leave you with some inspiration from a graphic and from some past posts!

The 5 Main Trigger Points for Conflict–maybe if we understood that the thing we’re fighting about is not actually the thing we’re fighting about, we’d solve things sooner!

Celebrating Our Differences–a more recent post on why differences don’t have to drive you apart. Sometimes they can even make you into better people.

When You’re the One Who Needs Forgiveness–what do you do if you’re the one who messed up badly in your marriage? Thoughts on working towards reconciliation.

Getting Over Thinking of Sex as a Chore–if it’s become only a “duty”, then here are some thoughts that can help you see making love differently.

When Your Marriage is in Crisis–Fight! Sometimes we need to fight for our marriage.

And did you know that I have a round-up post with links to all the most frequently asked questions on this blog? Everything from getting in the mood to dealing with porn to feeling hopeless in your marriage–even how to talk to your teens. Check it out here!

I hope you all have a wonderful day! And if you think of it–pray for me as I head off the doctor. I’d really like to get what’s bugging me sorted out before all my speaking engagements start soon! Thank you.

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.

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