My Daughter Reacts to Dental Surgery…

It’s been a busy week for me! My new book, 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage, was released on Tuesday.

And today I had to take both my girls in to get their wisdom teeth out, back to back.

Here’s a little video Katie made afterwards:

I have to go take care of them now, so no big blog post today!

But I did just pick the winners to my contest, and I’ll be contacting them today and announcing them tomorrow.

I’m also still getting a number of people emailing me receipts, so I’m starting ANOTHER contest where you can win bundles of books. Everyone who entered the first contest will be automatically entered, and then I’ll enter these other receipts, too! I’ll do that draw Sunday at midnight.

So if you’ve bought 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage, and you haven’t sent me your receipt yet, send it my way! I hope you win.

Gotta go make some soft food now!

Women Need Authenticity! The Phenomenal Effect Campaign

Don’t we all thirst for something REAL–for authenticity?

We scroll through our social media feeds feeling inadequate because everyone else either seems so much more artsy with their photos or have gone on awesome vacations. We walk into church all prettied up, but we’re scared to tell any of the women in this community how lonely we are. We go to a family reunion and show off our kids, but we’re secretly praying that they won’t start fighting over the same things they were fighting over in the car.

We’re scared to let anyone see what we’re really like.

Women's Thirst for Authenticity: Part of Lean Cuisine's Phenomenal Effects campaign!

This summer I’ve been chosen as one of Lean Cuisine’s Phenomenal Ambassadors and sharing great stories of accomplishments. Earlier last month I helped share that the most important thing we should weigh is our effort–not just our success or our appearance.

Lean Cuisine wants to help you Feed Your PhenomenalTM by helping each other recognize the unseen things women do every day that go unnoticed, so I’m sharing the story of a woman who I think is phenomenal.

In my last post I told you about Natalie from Visionary Womanhood, who worked so hard to make her marriage work, and is now leaning more on God as she is learning that she can’t be responsible for someone else’s poor choices. And she’s come to such a greater understanding of grace in the process! She’s writing phenomenal stuff.

Today I want to share another blogger with you: Sarah Ball from Virtuous Woman Exposed. She’s a mom of 5. She struggles with her past. She struggles with keeping romance alive. She’s just plain honest. And that’s refreshing.

I first met Sarah at a writer’s conference two years ago. She was asking my advice on blogging and getting books published, and I invited her to guest post for me. Now, at that particular conference I invited dozens of women to send me guest posts. Sarah is one of the few who followed through.

What really stood out to me was her message. Sarah’s a busy mom of 5. But the whole point of her blog is that she isn’t just “The Virtuous Woman” from Proverbs 31 or anything. She’s “The Virtuous Woman EXPOSED“–the one who tells it like it is and opens up on her own foibles and where life is just plain messy.

As you all know, I’m on a crusade to end the “pat Christian answers” to marriage problems.

Sarah doesn’t give pat answers. She’s the mom of 5 kids, and she’s trying to juggle a blossoming freelance writing career while still being a great mom. And a great wife. And not losing it with everyone in sight.

I love her take on mommy porn–she’s upfront and honest about her own struggles in marriage, and she’s upfront and honest with her 16-year-old daughter. We need more of that!

I love her conclusion that bringing her muffin top on vacation to Mexico was absolutely okay. And I adore her advice to husbands on how to encourage their wives to lose weight. If every man followed her 7 day plan–wow, we’d have great marriages!

And one of the bravest things she did was to create her Fearless in 21 Days series–detailing her own battle with panic attacks and stress, and then showing how we can work through it.

VWE

Nine Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage: Because a Great Relationship Doesnt Happen by Accident

In 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage, thought #3 is all about happiness and how our husbands were not put on earth to make us happy. In fact, we weren’t put on earth to be happy. But when we find joy in God and contentment in our circumstances, then happiness usually follows. It’s a by-product of the things that we choose to think about.

And as I told the stories of several women who had discovered happiness in marriage, one said this:

“I realized that my contentment was a gift that I could give my husband.”

Instead of waiting for him to make you happy, finding your own contentment is such a gift. He won’t feel like he has to fix things for you. He won’t feel like he’s inadequate. He’ll feel like he’s 10 feet tall and he can take on the world. And that really is fun to be around!

I’ve read so many “pat Christian answers” about how to find happiness in marriage. You know the kind–learn his love language and be absolutely amazing to him, and then he will do the same for you! Or just pray a lot and you’ll find that God will give you the desires of your heart.

That’s not what it’s about. It’s not about manipulating him. It’s not about trying to convince God to make you happy. It’s about realizing what is in your control, and then chasing after doing the right thing! It’s about honesty. It’s about authenticity before God and before your husband. And it’s about being real.

I love that Sarah has understood that. I love that she’s wrestling in the day to day with real problems, and she’s giving other people a window into that. I love that she’s not projecting this idea that if we have these perfect homes and we do these perfect devotions and we’re all perfectly organized that we’ll be happy. No, that’s not what we’re supposed to be chasing after. It’s not about having a perfect life. It’s about treating yourself well, treating others well, and chasing after God, even in the mess.

So check out Sarah!

Sarah’s all about getting healthy: getting healthy emotionally, getting healthy spiritually, figuring out how to get healthy physically even with 5 kids.

And now I want to know: which woman do you know who is phenomenal?

Visit the Phenomenal Effect website to enter Lean Cuisine’s promotion and help spread the Phenomenal Effect by recognizing the phenomenal women in your life and encouraging them to do the same. You could win prizes for yourself and everyone that you recognize. Also be sure to visit them on Facebook and Twitter

Who are some of the phenomenal women in your life? Tell us about it in the comments. Each comment will automatically be entered to win a $100 Visa gift card, thanks to SheKnows!

Entry Instructions: 

No duplicate comments. 

You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

  1. Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
  2. Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
  3. Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
  4. For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry. 

This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older (or nineteen (19) years of age or older in Alabama and Nebraska). Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. The notification email will come directly from BlogHer via the sweeps@blogher email address. You will have 2 business days to respond; otherwise a new winner will be selected.

The Official Rules are available here

This sweepstakes runs from 8/13/15 – 9/30/15. 

Be sure to visit the Lean Cuisine brand page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ posts!

Book Giveaways Galore!

Friday Roundup on To Love, Honor and VacuumAre you ready to win some books?

I’ve got a bunch of giveaways going on right now, so scroll down to enter the Rafflecopter!

Today’s Friday, so it’s time for my weekly round-up, when I let you know what was most popular at the blog (and on social media) this week, so that you can be sure not to miss any posts (often the popular ones are older ones you may not have seen that found new life this week). And then I let you in on a few things that are going on in my life, too!

What’s #1 This Week?

How to Initiate Sex with Your Husband--witout feeling awkwardGetting to Deeper Levels of Commnication with Your Husband--#marriage#1 on the Blog: Top 10 Tips for Initiating Sex with Your Husband
#1 on Twitter: 7 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage
#1 on Pinterest: Levels of Communication in Marriage: Getting Deeper
#1 on Facebook: 10 Ways to Initiate Prayer with Your Spouse

 

It’s Coming…

Nine Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage: Because a Great Relationship Doesnt Happen by AccidentI’m so excited that starting next week I’m going to start letting you see bits of my new book, 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage!

One of the themes of that book is that so often Christian marriage advice revolves around 4 or 5 Bible passages–Ephesians 5, 1 Peter 3, 1 Corinthians 7, 1 Corinthians 13, Proverbs 31. It’s as if when we talk about issues we have a myriad of places to look in the Bible. But when we talk about marriage, all of the rest of the Bible seems to go out the window and we look only at those five. And I find that problematic, because it leads to a lot of “pat answers” that aren’t always helpful in real life situations.

The Bible needs to be looked at in its entirety, and marriage doesn’t have one-size fits-all advice. So let’s get real and talk about how God really wants us to change our marriage, down in the nitty gritty!

9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage releases August 18, and all of this starts Monday!

Are You in Ohio, Indiana, South Carolina, or Georgia?

Sheila Gregoire gives her Girl TalkIf so, I want to come and give my Girl Talk to you!

I’ve got plans to be in those states in September and October, and I need to fill up my schedule a little more. So here’s your chance for your church to host me and get a reduced rate! Seriously, it’s a wonderful evening and it works GREAT as an outreach–because everyone loves talking and hearing about sex.

It’s a fun evening, it’s been getting rave reviews, and it’s totally worth it.

Email my assistant Tammy to see how you can get in on the tour.

The Birthday Is Over…

All year I’ve been leading up to three things: Katie’s internationals Bible quizzing tournament in Minneapolis; then Rebecca’s wedding; then Katie’s trip to New York for her 18th birthday.

And now the three things are over. I feel like my summer is also over somehow. And so now we’re focused on becoming empty nesters.

Here in Ontario we have a three-tiered driver’s license program: you get your learner’s permit; then you get your general license; then within five years (but after at least one year) you have to retake  your road test to get your permanent license.

So Rebecca took hers yesterday, and Katie’s scheduled for later in August. And both girls are getting their wisdom teeth removed in August, too. It’s like all of the fun stuff is over, so now we have to take care of all this big to-do stuff. Ah, life as we know it.

Katie and I did have a great time in New York, though. And Rebecca came home for a day to take her driver’s test, and it was fun to see her and catch up since the wedding.

Thanks for making my 18th birthday such a memorable one, Mom! I had the best day with you! ☺️💃💕

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

Has summer ended for you, or is it still going? And how do you stop that melancholy feeling that time is moving too fast?

Time for Some Giveaways!

I love hosting guest posts on the blog and promoting some wonderful books by other authors. So today I’ll give  you a few chances to win!

31 Days to Becoming a Happy MomFirst, don’t forget that you can win $100 in our Lean Cuisine contest. Lean Cuisine is rebranding themselves, focusing on more ethnic foods and interesting menus. And to do that they’ve launched their “Weigh This” campaign. Read all about it here–and then comment for your chance to win a $100 Visa card! Seriously, there aren’t a ton of entries yet, so your chances are pretty good. Head on over!

Next, Arlene Pellicane wrote this week about letting dads be dads. She’s giving away a copy of her book 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Mom to someone who comments on that post (I’ll do the draw on Monday), but she’s also offering a copy of her book in the draw today!

lLovemaking: 10 Secrets to Extravagant Intimacy in MarriageAnd then Dan and Linda Wilson wrote a great book for married couples called Lovemaking, detailing all the aspects of making love, including how to make it feel great, what to do when it doesn’t, and how to feel intimate. They’re giving away three copies of their book today!

And I’m going to throw in something, too. I’ve got a 10-book ebook bundle on getting healthy (which includes my book 31 Days to Great Sex!). So you’ll get 10 ebooks that can help get you on the right road to growing a healthier family.

So that’s five possible prizes! Enter in the Rafflecopter below.

And have a wonderful weekend!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Five More Days Until the Wedding!

I am in the middle of such a summer of transition. And it seems like it’s speeding up!

I took this picture of my daughter’s old bedroom this morning. She hasn’t lived at home for two years now, but lately we’ve been cleaning out her room because I’m going to turn it into a YouTube studio/guest room. Here’s what it looks like today, just five days before her wedding:

My daughter's getting married!

It just all seems so bittersweet.

I’ve still got the wedding bulletins to finish up, and we’re still working on the seating plan for the reception. I’ve got family doing the decorating, so that’s taken care of. But tomorrow my husband and I are going to go and finally meet Connor’s parents (they live across the country from us, and they’ve just flown in).

Last week I was in Minneapolis for my younger daughter’s international Bible quizzing tournament.

She was graduating. This was her sixth year at internationals; and it’s been such a major part of our lives for eight years. I ran the program at our church, and for the last two years I’ve organized meets for our district. I’ve gotten to know hundreds of kids who are dedicated to learning God’s word.

Here’s what Katie posted on Instagram after her last quiz ever:

I tear up just looking at it. It was a really emotional moment.

In just a few weeks she’s moving away to go to school, too, and I doubt she’ll be back. The condo where she’ll be living is much nicer in the summer than our house is (it’s right on a beach, and has gorgeous waterfront trails right outside her door), so I think she’ll likely stay in that bigger city.

So it’s just a lot of endings right now. My oldest daughter is getting married. My youngest is leaving. The biggest part of our volunteer/church involvement for the last eight years is over.

I’m so excited about the future. I love Connor, and I know he’ll be great for my daughter.

I love my husband, and I’m excited about hitting the road in our RV and speaking all over the U.S. and Canada with my Girl Talk! (If you want to book one, or learn more, just email my assistant Tammy).

I’m excited for Katie and for what she’ll be doing at university. It’s wonderful to see her grow into herself.

But there are just so many endings all at once. It’s a little overwhelming.

Somehow I think those tears I shed on Friday at Katie’s last quiz ever are not the last tears I’ll be shedding this week. And so as I pack up to leave, not returning until after the wedding, I’m gearing up for probably one of the most emotional weeks of my life.

I haven’t been around the blog or Facebook much lately; I’ll likely take another break until next week (though I do have some posts scheduled). But I’ll try to post some photos on Instagram and Facebook to show you what’s up. And if you think of me, say a prayer that I’ll get through the wedding without blubbering too much!

Making the Summer Count!

To me this is the official first day of summer.

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

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

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

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

Nine Thoughts That Will Change Your Marriage is Almost Here!

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

Here are just a few:

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Ultimate Digital Photography Bundle is Gone Tonight at Midnight

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

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

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

TheUnexpectedEveryday

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

toy

Little Girl

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

Little Girl Seagull

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

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

Find out more about the Beginner Bundle, or

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

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

Golden Hours Photography

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

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

Sunset 2

Sunrise 1

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

Find out more about the intermediate bundle, or

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

motionmailapp.com

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

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

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

I’m Knitting!

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

What do you think?

Knitted Blanket

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

Sheila’s Friday Round-Up: What’s Hot, Winners, a New Book, And a Contest!

It’s Friday, so it’s time for my weekly round-up, where I share what was #1 on the blog and social media this week. But because it’s also May 1, I’m also going to reveal our Ultimate Marriage Challenge book for May! And we’ve got a giveaway. And a major personal announcement. So here we go:

What’s Number 1 This Week:

Great-Sex-For-Her (5)Why Do Teenagers Rebel? A 19-year-old explains how it doesn't HAVE to happen!#1 on the Blog: Getting to Deeper Levels of Communication
#1 on Facebook: 5 Quick Ways to Pray for Your Husband
#1 on Pinterest: Why I Didn’t Rebel
#1 on Twitter: 9 FUN tips to make SEX great for you, too!

 

 

What’s Up in My Life:

On Tuesday my youngest daughter Katie wrote her last exam in high school. Which means she is officially finished homeschooling. Which means that I am officially finished homeschooling.

Katie Last Day of School

From several years ago:

Homeschooling my kids when they were younger.

There have been a lot of melancholy moments this week!

…And I’m Going to California!

Thanks to all who entered my contest with the Homemaking Bundle! Jaime won dinner with me in her hometown near Los Angeles, so in the fall of 2016 I’ll be taking her and a friend out to dinner! And long-time reader Amy C. won my $100 Amazon gift card! I’ve also given away 20 other small prizes, and congratulations to all the winners!

Stay tuned on Facebook because I’ll be doing some flash giveaways there of some ebook bundles in the next few weeks.

Our May Ultimate Marriage Challenge Book Choice Is…

To Love, Honor and VacuumTo Love, Honor and Vacuum: When you feel more like a maid than a wife and a mother (second edition).

Yes, shameless plug, this is my book.

But it’s so timely for Mother’s Day, and I wrote it for all of you women who feel more like you work for your families than that you nurture and enjoy your families.

It’s for everyone who just feels overwhelmed with all the work that goes into family life, and wants to actually get a chance to enjoy her family again.

Every month in 2015 I hope you’ll join me for our Ultimate Marriage Reading Challenge. It’s one book a month–or 12 a year. Imagine what would happen if we actually read a book a month and put those things into practice! So this month, since it’s Mother’s Day, I want to look at how to find purpose and joy as you point your family to Christ–not away from Him.

And note that last part. I firmly believe that many women inadvertently push their kids and husbands away from God because we think the focus of life is to be nice, not to be good. And so I want challenge us this month to be GOOD!

To Love, Honor and Vacuum was my first book, written at the time of that bottom photo of my kids. It’s what this blog was originally built on (though I’ve turned to sex a lot since!). And the new edition came out last year, eleven years after it was first released.

So if you love this blog, I really encourage you to pick the book up and read it along with me this month. I think it will change your marriage–and change how you parent!

Buy Valentine's Day BundleI Seriously Love This Guy…

A Year of Living Prayerfully: How A Curious Traveler Met the Pope, Walked on Coals, Danced with Rabbis, and Revived His Prayer LifeOn Tuesday I published a post “5 Ways to Pray for Your Husband“, from Jared Brock, who wrote A Year of Living Prayerfully.

Jared is hilarious. Absolutely HI-larious. And he has such an important message!

I’ll be talking about his book once I finish it (I totally love it), but I want you to see the trailer now. And then enter my giveaway below!

 

Want to Win Something?

Of course you do! So enter our Rafflecopter below. I’ll be giving away 1 grand prize of 3 books:  The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages (that was our April book of the month), A Year of Living Prayerfully, and Prayers for New Brides (from our 8 Prayers of Protection over your Marriage post last month). Then I’ll give away 1 copy of each of those three books to three other winners.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Have a great weekend!

Wifey Wednesday: Getting to Deeper Levels of Communication

Getting to Deeper Levels of Commnication with Your Husband--#marriage

It’s Wednesday, the day when we always talk marriage! And today I want to talk about how to really get to know each other and stay close–even once you’re married. And it all starts with intentionally getting to deeper levels of communication.

Recently a reader from New Zealand sent me this question:

We have only been married just over a year and really loving it. I’ve noticed in some of your recent posts you’ve been covering when she doesn’t wanna and when he doesn’t wanna. This isn’t really applicable to us thanks to a great start to marriage (through God’s grace). But it’s making me wonder if all couples go through a season/period of distance with one another? If it is inevitable I’d really like some pointers from how to approach it from our end, from the beginning. How to spot it, when to have those conversations, when to get help, any prevention strategies etc. Because I’d like to continue having an awesome marriage and although I know we will (and have) face ups and downs, I’d like to have the best go at it that we possibly can.

Great question!

First, Yes, every couple will go through seasons of distance–seasons when you don’t feel as close because of work schedules, the pressure of illness, busy-ness that can’t be avoided, etc.

It is NOT inevitable, though, that you will fall out of love or lose your libido. And much of it rests on being proactive, looking for key tips, like this reader is.

But it also comes from recognizing how to feel close. And that stems from understanding the different levels of communication.

Gary Smalley, in his book The Secrets of Lasting Love, says that there are five levels of communication:

  • Cliches
  • Facts
  • Opinions
  • Feelings
  • Needs

Intimacy increases with each level.

When you hold the door open for someone, you tend to talk in CLICHES: “nice day, isn’t it?”

Many couples spend most of their time communicating at the level of FACTS: “Johnny has band practice tomorrow at 3 and someone has to pick him up at 4:30. Can  you do that on the way home from work?”

OPINIONS isn’t that scary, either: “I just think that my new supervisor is out to get me. She never smiles and nothing I do is right!”

But it’s really in the FEELINGS and NEEDS that we become vulnerable.

“I’m scared that my boss is going to think that the supervisor is right. What if no one recognizes what I’m doing? I just feel so drained when I go to work now, and I’m not sure how much longer I can take this.”

Or NEEDS:

“I want to feel like what I’m doing makes a difference. Lately it’s been so hard to get out of bed because I don’t know if anyone even notices my contributions. What if God is disappointed in me, too? I need to know that someone smiles over me.”

Now, think about how a marriage will be if all of the communication is at the FACTS level. The couple may talk a lot–but they don’t really know each other any better.

And sometimes we think that by sharing opinions we’re really opening up. But we’re not. Opinions are safe–it’s feelings that are vulnerable. It’s feelings that reveal what’s really going on inside of you.

Kiss Me AgainThe problem is that many couples never really learned how to live comfortably at levels 4 and 5. In fact, in the book Kiss Me Again, Barbara Wilson talks about how the level of emotional intimacy we’ve reached when we start to become sexually involved tends to be the level we’re stuck at–unless we take specific steps to overcome that. So couples who have sex early in their relationship end up substituting physical intimacy for emotional intimacy, and have a hard time progressing now into emotional vulnerability because they’ve done things backwards.

That’s one of the reasons that God wants us to wait for marriage to make love!

So some couples may never reach levels 4 and 5 to begin with, and others may have been there, but then seasons of busy-ness come and they start staying at facts and opinions. They don’t have time to become vulnerable.

It’s that sharing of vulnerability, though, that will help you feel close, and here’s why: there are very few people that we actually get down to communication levels 4 and 5 with.

And we tend to bond with those individuals. So you want to make sure that one of those people is your husband! If you’re not sharing at these levels with your husband, then it’s all too easy to get caught up in an emotional affair with someone else. Being vulnerable makes us feel close and increases intimacy–whether within marriage or outside of it. So make sure it’s within marriage!

I know, though, that many of you struggle with this.

You’d like to get to deeper levels of communication, but how do you just begin the conversation?

Hermann Kuschke developed an app called Dare2Share which can help guide you through the different levels of communication. He sent me some codes so that my assistant Tammy could try it with her husband and I could try it with mine, and I was really impressed. In the app there are over 200 conversation prompts that help you learn more about your spouse. (It’s also available for Android, but I’m a Mac person and don’t know where to find that link. But if you search for Dare2Share you’ll find it!)

He suggests beginning each conversation by getting a cup of coffee and sitting together–but you can go for a walk, too. Here are pics from the iPad version:

Getting to Deeper Levels of Communication: Dare2Share app

Then the conversation starts. Each “conversation” has 5 screens, or 5 parts to the question,  that you talk to your spouse about. Everyday you share your day–so you do “card 1” everyday–and then you add more cards each time.

Card 1 starts with telling you to share, and then explains how:

Share Day

IMG_1781

IMG_1782

What to share as you communicate

Offering to Help: The last part of sharing your day as you enhance communicationIt’s such a SIMPLE thing, sharing your day. But how many of us do it well? I think having specific conversation prompts can help us do that!

Now at this point we’re only sharing our day, and chances are you’re still at the “facts” level. But as you get better, when you share your high point and your low point hopefully you’ll start to share feelings as well.

Then you move on to the next conversation prompts. These usually start with a personal experience from the app couple who wrote it, to set the stage, and then progress to the questions.

IMG_1786

At the beginning of the app the questions are pretty basic–they’re focused on sharing facts and opinions, and they’re not that vulnerable.

But as you progress through the pages, you’ll be sharing more and more personal things, and you’ll find that you progress through the levels of communication so that you know each other even better. They even explain the levels of communication, too:

Levels of communication

My assistant Tammy has been married to her husband Steeve for 23 years. He works in a counseling role, so he’s quite used to things like emotional intimacy. But they both found this challenging and enhancing anyway!

Write your Life for your spouse

 

I think this is an excellent model. If you aren’t in the habit of really opening up, going straight to deeply personal questions about fears and dreams can feel fake–because it is. You can’t just jump to level 5. You have to do the work on earlier levels first, so that you have that foundation.

Sometimes we just don’t ask the right questions, and we just don’t know our spouses as well as we could.

I really believe that if we were more intentional about communicating at some of these deeper levels that even when the inevitable seasons of distance come, our marriages could withstand them. We’d still feel intimate and vulnerable with each other. But if all we’re doing is communicating facts and opinions–well, you can do that with anyone. And then what is going to make you want to be with your husband especially? What makes him stand out? Nothing.

So talk to your husband about trying the Dare2Share app, or something like it. Learn more about him–like what he wanted to be when he was 8; what was his worst nightmare; what happened after his first crush. Find out what his dreams and passions are; what things God has put on his heart. And share with him what God has put on yours. Feel close again–and then that’s sure to ignite the sexual side of your marriage, too!

In fact, that’s what Hermann suggests. Some of the exercises AFTER the conversations, as you get more vulnerable, are more sexual! But isn’t that what marriage and intimacy are all about?

Find out more about Dare2Share, or

Dare2Share iPhone

 Wifey Wednesday: Christian marriage postsNow it’s your turn! Have something to share with us about marriage? Leave the URL in the linky below, and then be sure to link back here so that others can read these great posts, too!

 



The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex

Marriage isn't supposed to be blah!


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

Top 10 Homemaking Hacks for the Not-So-Perfect Homemaker

You don’t have to be able to entertain at the drop of a hat.

You’re allowed to have laundry that’s not folded.

You’re allowed to sometimes feed your kids McDonald’s.

[Tweet “Homemaking well is not about being perfect–it’s about creating a home that is fun, nurturing, and chaos-minimized.”]

 

You don't need to be perfect! But you can have fun. Find out more with the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle Sale--April 20-27

And so today I’d like to share 10 Homemaking Hacks for not-so-perfect homemakers–hacks that can make what you do everyday easier and far less stressful!

All of these hacks I learned from the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle–a sale of over 79 ebooks and 20 other courses and downloads that can help you on your homemaking journey. And the Bundle is on sale right now until next Monday for just $29.97! It’s so worth it.

This Bundle sale is now over, but the awesome people at the Ultimate Bundles website offer about 6 bundles a year on different topics--and it's always about $1000 worth of digital products for $29.97. Sign up to be notified of the next bundle! (They have homemaking, digital photography, healthy living, work at home business, and more!


Here’s why:

1. Paperless Home Organization

Paperless Home OrganizationHere’s the book I was telling you about yesterday–the book that changed my life.

I’m not even kidding. I got access to the bundle about three weeks before it went live, so that I had a chance to go through all the books. And I read this book. And then I didn’t sleep. All night. I just lay there, wide awake, picturing how awesome it would be if I actually implemented her system.

Finally, at 4:00 a.m. I gave up trying to sleep, got up, and actually set it all up! And now I use it everyday.

Here’s what you do: You use three main online (free!) programs: Gmail, Evernote, and Remember the Milk (an awesome task reminder program). All of these can also be synced onto your phones and devices.

Then you set up checklists in Evernote for your daily activities, and you enter special things in Remember the Milk. I’ve got reminders for everything in there–that I have to change the furnace filter every 2 months (seriously, we’ve had to call the furnace repair people 3 times in the last decade just because I forget to change the furnace filter), reminders for when bills are due, reminders for what projects I have to get done for my daughter’s wedding, and more.

Here’s what I love: she shows you how to use both Evernote and Gmail so that things automatically get saved and filtered, without you having to use a whole lot of words or remember where you filed something. It’s easy to retrieve again, and it’s ever so easy to check on your to-do list. It’s not like you need 23 different tags and 32 different notebooks. Not at all. It’s really simple. It took me about an hour and a half to set everything up.

So now everyday I scan papers I need to scan, save them in Evernote, and I don’t need to keep notes anywhere anymore. And I always have my to do list and reminders with me! It’s awesome.

One of my big problems is that I have so many things that I’m trying to remember and hold in my head at one time. And I’m always thinking, “I can’t forget that!” But that’s stressful.

This way, I know I’ll remember. It takes less than 15 seconds to set up a reminder and to plan when I’ll do it, and now I don’t have to constantly feel I’m going to forget something.

You’ll Save: Late fees on your bills–and lots of stress and tension because you don’t have to remember anything anymore. The computer does it for you!

2. Backwards Meal Planning

Backwards Meal PlanningA perfect homemaker has a 2-week meal plan all ready to go, with a grocery list completed, before she heads out to the store.

I’ve never been that organized.

So when I read Backwards Meal Planning, I thought–finally! Someone who gets ME! Sometimes we run to the store because it’s the only time we have free all week, and we don’t have time to plan first, so we just buy what’s on sale and what tickles our fancy. And then what do we do?

This book shows you how you can go grocery shopping FIRST–and then figure out, from what’s in your fridge, cupboard, and freezer, how you can come up with a menu. It’s simple! Just keep track of your favourite meals for each ingredient, learn how to substitute easily, and brainstorm on pretty printables!

You’ll Save: 20% on your grocery bill, if you stick to what’s on sale instead of what’s on your grocery list.

Price: $2.99 but FREE with the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle

3. Budgeting for Yearly Expenses–When You Need a Monthly Budget

Build a Budget That WorksHere’s problem #1: you’re preparing a monthly budget, but you don’t have a monthly income. Let’s say you’re self-employed and you have no idea how much money you’ll actually make each month.

Here’s problem #2: You budget for insurance, transportation, food, mortgage, etc., etc., but you forget that in the summer the kids have to go to summer camp. And next year you’re going to need to buy a new car. So you think you have a budget that’s reasonable, but when summer comes, there’s no money for camp.

In Build a Budget That Works, Jessi Fearon shows how to budget for yearly expenses, or even every-few-years expenses, so that the money is there when you need it. And she hows you how to compensate if you don’t get paid on a regular or predictable basis.

But there’s still problem #3: You know you need to put away $50 a month for summer camp, but WHERE do you actually put that $50? You can’t create 20 bank accounts for all your different yearly expenses.

So Jessi shows how to keep track of how much you’ve saved for each thing, while still keeping it in your chequing account. And she shows you how to make sure you don’t inadvertently use that money you’ve earmarked for something else!

So it really is a budget that works–with lots of worksheets and printables so that you’re not caught unprepared.

You’ll Save: Interest payments from going into overdraft–and you’ll end up saving money, too!

4. Make Your Own Laundry Detergent

Several of the books in the bundle have different recipes, but all are super easy. You can make them with your kids–and then your kids may be more eager to help with laundry, too!

Laundry Detergent

You’ll save: The author of DIY Natural Cleaners puts it this way: “The average American family does 400 loads of laundry a year. This will save you $0.17 a load, for a total of $68 of savings in a year–and that’s only 1 of 60 plus recipes!”

Price: $9.99, but FREE with the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle

5. Make the Most of Daily Activities to Teach About Jesus

How to Introduce Your Child to JesusA Perfect Homemaker has family devotions every night, teaching her children a verse a week, doing crafts to learn a Bible story, and creating object lessons to drive the point home.

An imperfect homemaker simply looks for things that are happening around her–like seeing a squirrel gathering nuts, or seeing a crying baby, or seeing a sunset–to bring Jesus into the conversation naturally. Without a curriculum. Without crafts. And without preparation.

You can introduce your child to Jesus without a lot of fuss, because Jesus is just a natural part of your life, too! So learn how to make Him a natural part of your conversation with your kids.

You’ll save: A lot of guilt thinking you’re not doing a good enough job as a parent! And you’ll feel empowered.

Price: $5.99, or FREE with the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle

6. DIY Breakfast Station

A perfect homemaker gets up 45 minutes early to cook a hot breakfast for her husband and her children, which they all eat while sitting down around a table with napkins in their laps.

An imperfect homemaker sets up a DIY breakfast station, with healthy food kids can stick in the microwave by themselves if they want, along with cold food they can grab in a hurry. Kids as young as 6 can make their own breakfast–while you run around trying to get everyone out the door!

Sounds much more like me.

I LOVE these recipes–and it comes with printables you can put on your breakfast burritos, muffins, crepes, or energy balls. So easy–and really fun for kids, who can choose what they want without bugging you.

DIY Breakfast Station

You’ll save: Aggravation. Time. And money because you won’t take them to the drive-thru in desperation on the way to church or school!

Price: $9.50, or FREE with the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle!

7. Know How to Find Pics of Your Kids with Buck Teeth

One Bite at a TimeA perfect homemaker scrapbooks her kids’ lives on a weekly basis, printing out the important photos and decorating them.

An imperfect homemaker goes through her pictures, throws out a ton of them, decides it’s okay to keep some in a shoebox, but organizes most online so that she can find them quickly–even if she never decorates them or prints them out.

I’ve hired my youngest daughter to scan all of our family pictures, and then throw away the hard copies of ones that aren’t worth saving, so that we can locate any pics, any time. We want to have everything at our fingertips so we can create slide shows for my older daughter’s wedding.

Organizing your pictures is just one of the 52 projects in One Bite at a Time–one of my favourite books for making your home more manageable. Each project is practical–and limited in scope so it’s not overwhelming. And they’re fun, too!

You’ll save: A ton on photo albums. And a ton of storage space! We reclaimed a whole bookcase once we got rid of our photo albums. And now our pictures are on those digital frames that switch every few seconds. So much more fun!

Price: $8.00, or FREE with the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle!

8. Get Rid of the Drawer Filled with Warranties and Instruction Manuals!

Your Simple Home HandbookA perfect homemaker tapes all instruction manuals and receipts to the backs of appliances.

An imperfect homemaker stuffs them in a drawer.

But you don’t have to do either! They’re both too much work.

Here’s what you do instead: Like Jessi says in Paperless Home Organization, scan the receipt an warranty and save it in Evernote.

Then, as Elsie Callender says in Your Simple Home Handbook, google the instruction manual when you buy it, and save that link (I’d suggest putting it in the same Evernote note). All instruction manuals are online anyway!

No more bulging drawers!

You’ll save: Space. You get your drawer back. Hassle: If you need to return something, or if something breaks, you can easily put your hands on the receipt and the instructions.

Price: $7.95, or FREE with the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle

9. Let your kids watch TV, let yourself on Facebook, and don’t always give time outs.

Steady Moms Freedom GuideA perfect homemaker has her children play imagination games all day while she cans vegetables and creates lovely crafts. If her children act up, she is swift with the discipline.

But what if that’s exhausting?

Maybe what we need is more grace. A half hour of quality TV or netflix won’t hurt your kids. Looking at Facebook while they play is okay. Using distraction and coaching rather than being a firm disciplinarian is likely a better idea anyway.

I’m dedicating a whole day to talking about this book on Friday, because it’s that good, but today, just a simple word of encouragement: You know your home better than anyone else. You know your kids better than anyone else. In everything, there can be balance. Let love and grace reign, and you all will be okay. You don’t have to be a perfect home; you can just be yourself, and raise your kids to be themselves, and rely on God, and you’ll find life far less stifling.

You’ll save: guilt for not being perfect. Heartache when your kids act up and are angry at you. Frustration for being bored. Learn to live again!

Price: $2.99, or FREE with the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle!

And perhaps most importantly…

10. Managing the Mundane is the Key to Surviving the Insane

A perfect homemaker has a list of every task that needs to be done, all color coded.

An imperfect homemaker knows that there are really only three things that ultimately matter in how your home feels, and it’s these:

Managing the Insane

Controlling the Spin WithinIf you get these three things under control, everything else will follow. And you’ll feel empowered. You’ll feel like you’re on top of things. Everything will work out!

Holly Dvorak helps you zero in on the necessities, so that you can survive the insane world of mommyhood. And she makes it so super easy. It’s not some major cleaning schedule. It’s just getting the most important stuff done. Like she says, there are two universal truths:

Universal Truth #1: If we don’t eat, we die.
Universal Truth #2: If we leave the house naked, we go to jail.

If you’ve got these covered, you’re good! And she tells you how to, in easy-to-follow steps.

You’ll save: guilt that you don’t have a super-organized cleaning system. Aggravation that there’s nothing for dinner. And anger that your house is always a mess!

Price: $2.99, or FREE with the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle

That’s it–ten books with great homemaking hacks that don’t make your to-do list longer. They lessen your guilt, simplify your life, and give you breathing space, all so you can:

Work Less. Enjoy Your Family More!

That’s the theme of the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle, and if any of these resonated with you, I encourage you to check it out.

Just these resources would cost you $57.50, but you get them ALL–plus 90 OTHER resources, including $200 in bonuses like a free designer scarf and a free art print, for just $29.97.

This Bundle sale is now over, but the awesome people at the Ultimate Bundles website offer about 6 bundles a year on different topics--and it's always about $1000 worth of digital products for $29.97. Sign up to be notified of the next bundle! (They have homemaking, digital photography, healthy living, work at home business, and more!


Don't miss the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle--$1274 in ebooks, courses, and bonuses for just $29.97.Happy Homemaking!

How to Track Your Hormones–and Your Libido!

Tracking Your Hormones and Your Libido--apps and printables

We’ve been talking this week about hormones and libido–how hormones can wreak havoc with our sexual arousal, and what we can do to be more aware, and to compensate when our hormones aren’t cooperating (like when we’re breastfeeding, pregnant, etc.).

Today I want to cap off our series by talking about tracking your hormones–and thus tracking your libido. And here’s why it matters. See if you can relate to this:

Sarah knows it’s been about a week since she and her husband Brian last made love. “He’s due,” she smiles ruefully to herself. But she doesn’t feel much like it today. In fact, she doesn’t feel much like anything today. Everybody’s been bugging her–she lost her temper when the kids didn’t come to dinner because they were playing a video game; the kitchen was a mess and she couldn’t stand that it was always her job; and she cannot find her favorite necklace.

She tries to put all that behind her as she slowly gets into her flannel pyjamas. Sure, Brian might want her to wear something else, but it’s still cold! And these are comfy.

As they climb into bed he turns towards her and starts playing with her hair. She sighs and decides to start kissing him. He begins touching her, and she feels nothing. Absolutely nothing. She tries to concentrate on what he’s doing but it doesn’t even feel good. Last week she was over the moon, but tonight he’s doing everything wrong.

When they start making love she doesn’t even feel aroused. She thinks to herself, “I hope he gets it over with quickly.” But he’s taking longer because he knows she isn’t in to it. And by the time he finishes they’re both just awkward with each other. “I don’t want you to do that if you’re not into it,” Brian says. “It’s humiliating.”

That makes Sarah fume. Look at all she does for him! He wanted it and she went through all that when she just wanted to go to sleep–and now he’s mad at her? What about him? He can’t even figure out how to make her feel good!

And they both go to sleep in a huff–with Sarah deciding that sex won’t happen for a long time now.

Okay, here’s the situation: a week ago she and Brian had a great time! And now they’re both tense and mad at each other–and Sarah’s been tense all day.

Maybe it’s just hormones! Maybe, like this chart I first showed you on Tuesday, Sarah’s simply in the red zone:

Hormones and Libido: Top 10 Ways Women's Hormones Affect Libido and Arousal throughout the Menstrual Cycle

What would happen if both Sarah and Brian realized that before they started to make love?

What if Sarah could have said, “You know what, hon, it may not happen for me tonight. But I’d love to feel relaxed, and I’d love to help you feel relaxed. Could we start with a massage, and then I’ll show you a really good time?” And he could give her a massage, and then she could take the lead (maybe by getting on top) and make sex go quickly because it’s not about getting her aroused?

Of course, there’s no problem trying to get aroused when you’re in the red zone! Absolutely not. But if you find yourself living out Sarah’s scenario frequently, then maybe your sexual enjoyment really is affected by hormones. And if you could track that, and realize it, you’d likely be far less likely to get upset at each other when things just didn’t work one night.

So here’s my Tracking Your Hormones plan:

Print out this free hormone and Libido tracker from To Love, Honor and VacuumDownload my Hormone and Arousal Printable

I’ve got a fun printable where you can track your cycle along with your mood and your sexual responsiveness.

Here’s how to use it:

Keep track of all of this for at least a month, but even better, for three months to get a real sense of your patterns.

I’ve got it charted for 35 days, but Day 1 is ALWAYS the first day of your period. So if your cycle is 27 days long, you’ll never get to day 35.

Every morning record your mood and your sexual responsiveness for the day before. Make sure you check off if you had any “sex dreams”, because those tend to coincide with the times that your body is in “peak” mode.

After doing this for a time, hopefully you’ll see a pattern. You may know that you’re raring to go on Days 10-14, but Days 15-20 are awful for you.

That’s great to know for planning vacations, getaways, even date nights! And it’s nice to know just for everyday life, too.

Download your libido tracker here.

A Comparison of PinkPad and iPeriod Apps

Many apps also chart your period and other cycle symptoms, and I thought I’d review two today!

Now, in a way I’m comparing apples to oranges because I’ve got the free version of PinkPad and the paid ($1.99) version of iPeriod. But I wanted to take a look at how much better a paid version was, and I wanted to look at two different companies. So I hope you’ll forgive me!

I was looking for an app that would let me:

  • Chart when my period was coming
  • Chart my mood so that it was easily visible on the calendar
  • Chart my libido so that it was easily visible
  • Keep track of when we had sex
  • Keep track of when I had an orgasm
  • Keep track of other symptoms of your cycle
  • Keep track of my weight
  • Keep track of my fertility (not really relevant for me since we’ve had a vasectomy, but I know relevant to many of my readers!)

Here’s what I found. I’ll talk about each app on its own first and then give you a chart so you can see at a glance.

By the way, the info for the week I entered was fictitious. I was just trying to enter as much as I could to see what it looked like on the calendar. So this is all HYPOTHETICAL. (I love you guys, but I only want you to know so much about me. Not TMI).

Tracking your Hormones and Tracking Your Libido with PinkPad

It’s easy with PinkPad to chart your periods. On the main screen you just enter if your flow has started, how heavy it is, or whether you’re just spotting.

PinkPad Period Tracker

And then on the calendar you can see at a glance when your period was and how heavy it was when:

PinkPadPeriod

The app also shows you using dots when your next period is expected–and it sends notifications to warn you when your period is due and when you are ovulating.

PinkPad Calendar

You can also enter your basal body temperature if you want to track fertility, but that’s all you can do.

What about your mood? You can check off how you’re feeling that day:

PinkPadMood

You can’t chart your libido at all, though. The only thing you can do is choose “flirty” under mood and let that mean “I was in the mood” on that day.

You can keep track of when you have sex–you just tick off the “intimate” box on the home page, and it shows up as a heart on the month at a glance calendar. The problem is that if you other things noted for that day, the notification goes on TOP of the heart, so you can’t actually see at a glance when you’ve had sex. For instance, I entered sex for the 31st, the 3rd, and the 7th, but you only see it easily on the 7th, because the 31st and the 3rd have other information as well:

PinkPad Calendar

You can’t keep track of when you reach orgasm at all.

You can also keep track of other symptoms, like headaches and backaches, but the screen is kind of dark (I’ve got headache checked off here but it’s hard to tell):

PinkPadSymptoms

These symptoms don’t show up on the calendar, but you do get a little symbol telling you there’s more info on that particular day.

You can enter your weight as well, but you can’t create a graph from it.

Tracking Your Libido and Tracking Your Hormones with iPeriod

Just like PinkPad, it’s really easy to enter your period:

iPeriodPeriod

On the calendar at a glance, it shows you when your period is expected, too, and it sends you notifications at your choice about ovulation/when you’re due.

iPeriod tracks your fertility really well. You can enter Basal Body Temperature every morning (it jumps by about half a degree when you ovulate), and you can track other signs of ovulation, like cervical mucus.

iPeriodFertility

And you can keep track of all kinds of sex stuff! Like with PinkPad, you can enter when you had sex (just check off Love Connection).

iPeriodLove

And then you can see at a glance how many times you’ve had sex this month (the heart is always there!)

iPeriodCalendar

(So you see here that the 31st, 3rd, and 7th all have hearts).

You can also enter orgasm as a custom field (you get up to four). I chose the green upper left corner one. So if you look at the calendar above, you can see that this theoretical person had an orgasm on the 31st and 7th but not the 3rd.

You can enter your moods (the first one you enter is the emoticon for the day, but you can choose more than one).

iPeriodMoods

You can also enter your weight everyday, and see a graph of your weight:

iPeriodGraph

You can keep track of the days on which you exercise.

You can enter any symptoms–and this is cool, because it lets you rate your libido (unlike PinkPad):

iPeriodSymptoms

I wish you could do a graph of your libido or see it at a glance on the calendar, but you can’t. To cheat you can choose the frisky emoticon when you’re feeling “in the mood” and at least you’ll see the days when you’re really high.

When you click on a particular day on the calendar, you see all the graphics for that day, but also the extra notes.

iPeriodCalendar

Here’s a Graph Comparing iPeriod and PinkPad:

Comparison of iPeriod and PinkPad to chart love life

My conclusion: iPeriod is the better app for tracking your love life and hormones

I’ve been using PinkPad for a long time, and really liked it. But after trying iPeriod, I totally think the $1.99 is worth it, especially because what I really want to track is libido. I love the fact that iPeriod has four user defined settings that show up on the calendar at a glance, and I can think of all kinds of things you could use that for other than just tracking orgasm.

You could even track whether you cheated at an eating plan, or whether you went out to eat at a restaurant, to see how that affected your mood or weight on subsequent days.

So I’d say get iPeriod. It looks like a lot of fun, and it’s what I’ll be using from now on!

Do you use a different period cycle tracker app? How does it relate? Can it track libido? Let us know in the comments!

Other posts in this series:

Top 10 Ways Hormones Affect Libido

Libido and Hormones when you’re breastfeeding/nursing etc.

31 Days to Great Sex
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When the Way We Talk About Submission Turns People Off of Christ

Be careful how you comment! Sometimes we don't realize how too radical a view of submission can turn people away from Christ

On Mondays I always like to post a Reader Question and take a stab at answering it, and I have a quite a backlog of questions I’m getting ready to answer!

But today I thought it was important to share instead a Reader Observation and a plea for help from the vast majority of you who read this blog. I’ll get to that observation and that plea in a minute, but first, a little bit of background:

How asking for help from my husband made our marriage so much better!Last month I published a guest post from Kate Tunstall, where she explained how after her first baby came she and her husband started to grow apart. And she grew more and more resentful about him not wanting to care for the baby until she sat down and talked to him, and realized they both were partially at fault.

They both opened up to each other, learned some new things about each other (and themselves), and sorted things out.

And it was all was because she chose to talk about it rather than keep stewing. Had she kept stewing, she wouldn’t have realized that much of their problem was due to misunderstandings. It was only in talking and creating vulnerability and openness again that they came to a solution.

I thought it was a great story that illustrated a point I’ve been trying to make on this blog a lot lately. Sometimes you have to ask your husband for help. You can’t expect your husband to know what you’re thinking unless you tell him. And in most cases, we may look for a “magic bullet” that will fix the problem, but ultimately we have to do the hard and sometimes awkward work of talking about it.

It so happens that Kate doesn’t identify herself as an evangelical Christian (though I will not presume to say what faith she does or does not have beyond that). But her post was right on about marriage and I published it.

The comments on that post, though, quickly veered in a really dangerous and counterproductive direction.

The first few comments are great; then they get weird. One woman wrote that this woman was wrong for expecting her husband to care for the baby; she used a rather derogatory and critical tone toward the guest poster, which other commenters (and I) tried to correct. Then someone else joined the fray and said this:

This post defies Scripture, as well as 1850 years of church teaching. Jesus did not tell us that communication was the most important thing, rather repentance and obedience.

I then commented that just because the church and our culture have sanctioned something does not automatically make it right–look at slavery, after all! (I brought up slavery because I thought NO ONE could defend slavery).

The commenter then defended slavery. And then I deleted the theological arguments they left about why slavery was justified, and banned that commenter.

Seriously, can you imagine what defending slavery in public does to the name of Christ?

I think it’s perfectly valid to wrestle in a seminary with the question, “does the fact that God let the Israelites own slaves in the Old Testament mean that God permits all kinds of slavery? Was slavery just for a time?” But to debate this in public is beyond the pale (and by the way, I still don’t believe God ever really blessed the institution of slavery).

Kate actually wrote a follow-up post on her experience guest posting on a Christian blog, and here’s some of what she said:

It is the year 2015. I was of the impression that the developed world had come a long way, even if only in the last thirty or so years. Whereas it was once acceptable, expected even, that there were gender-specific roles, I thought this narrow-mindedness had all but ended. (Having said that, men and women have different strengths, and I completely advocate the right to state such a fact without the fear of being labelled sexist. It is simple good sense.)

Do you see how sad that is? She was under the impression that the world had come a long way–and we’ve now made her think that the evangelical community is narrow-minded (even though it was a minority of the commenters).

She then says:

I was dismayed to learn that having made huge efforts, at personal cost, to ensure my husband’s needs are met (frequenting the gym regularly and never having to get up to our daughter during the night, for example), there has still been a suggestion that I expect too much of him [by wanting him to interact with our daughter]. I cannot understand or agree with this view – to me it is either antiquated chauvinism in a non-religious context, or, as Sheila discusses, misinterpretation in religion.

Sometimes we leave comments on blogs because we like debate, but we forget that people who do not share our faith will be reading them.

Be careful what you say and how you word things. You are not just debating with the author of a post; you are debating with everyone who will read this post and the comments. People who are searching are on this blog. People who are struggling with God are on this blog. We have a responsibility to the weaker brother.

And I get about 10,000 visits a day from search engines–most of whom arrive here because they use a search term that relates to a crisis in their marriage. And most do not know God. Please assume that when you are commenting here, you are not just talking to Christians. You are talking to moms and wives and even some husbands who are hurting, and who are genuinely searching for help.

One other important thing:

Sometimes our interpretation of Scripture, quite frankly, means that many non-Christian marriages are healthier than many Christian marriages.

Kate’s marriage seems very healthy–or at least her conflict resolution model is. And studies consistently show that children who interact with both parents are emotionally healthier than children who only interact with the mother. A father’s hands-on role is best.

The fact that some commenters were arguing that a husband shouldn’t be expected to interact with the children shows that many non-Christian families are psychologically healthier, which is scary.

Unfortunately, it’s not all that surprising. If you subscribe to the interpretation of Scripture where a wife can never point out where her husband may be in error (even though being a suitable helpmeet obviously equipped us for this role), or that a wife should not express an opinion or call her husband out on sin (seriously, read the comments on this one), or that it is not a wife’s place to draw boundaries and say, “I will not tolerate you treating me in an abusive or demeaning way“, then I doubt that marriage is going to be very healthy.

And some teaching in the church I believe is downright dangerous, like that from Debi Pearl about how when a wife is abused it’s because we’ve provoked our husbands, or that the way to deal with any marriage problem (even severe sin) is to “win him without words”. This leaves far too many families in desperate straits, unable to deal with real abuse, or unable to confront sin and urge their spouses on towards godliness.

So here’s what I would ask:

1. Remember you are God’s ambassadors.

If you have an opinion which would make the majority of the public cringe and question whether or not God is really loving, then ask yourself, “Is it really important that I express it here?”, or, at least, “how can I phrase this so that I’m saying it lovingly?” Obviously we will all hold opinions that are counter-cultural; that’s what being a Christian is. But there is no need to be ungracious or to throw anything in someone else’s face. Instead, we are to relate to them in as many ways as we can so as to not make offense unnecessarily.

Like Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:20-22:

To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.

2. EVERYONE: Please, please, please publicly correct those who give God a bad name.

If you see a comment on this (or any other site) that you think gives God a bad name, then leave a comment to say that that person is wrong, or that most Christians, in your opinion, do not share that point of view.

I’m saying this one to the vast majority of you who are silent, or who may comment but don’t want to touch the inflammatory ones with a ten foot pole. Even a simple, “I think that is the wrong interpretation of Scripture, and want to point out that you hold a minority view” would be awesome!

Right now the off-base comments seem more important than they really are, because 95% of people never comment. Can you imagine how powerful it would be if every time someone said something really inflammatory, a bunch of people said, “I don’t think that’s an accurate view of Scripture”?

3. Think about giving Kate some Encouragement

Her post where she talks about her experience on this blog is right here. If some of you want to go over and give her some encouragement, that would be great!

I, in turn, will:

1. Delete comments whose only purpose seems to be to be inflammatory.

2. Delete comments that may be well-reasoned, but that are so offensive and wrong that I think God will be maligned. (like the pro-slavery ones).

3. Allow comments through that are well-reasoned, even if I think they are wrong, if they don’t cross a threshold. And then I will try to correct them as often as possible.

4. Delete comments where the commenter is insulting another commenter, or making assumptions about other commenters that really aren’t warranted or that are too judgmental.

And I really will try to get to my backlog of Reader Questions too!

I was thinking yesterday in our wonderful Easter service, where I saw my “adopted” niece get baptized, that God is about grace and changing lives and Jesus so wants to bring the world to Himself.

I want this blog to be a part of that. But sometimes I worry that we do the opposite, when I let certain things through.

I do want to allow discussion, but I am really far more concerned about the impression we’re giving those who don’t know Christ than I am about fostering free flowing debate.

I still will always let things through that are respectful, even if I don’t always agree (as long as they’re not totally beyond the pale), but I’d just ask that all of us participate in policing this community and making it a safe place for those who aren’t yet Christians to visit and to learn from.

May we never inadvertently turn off, or turn away, a seeker.

Thanks, everybody! And let me know what you think of my comment policy.

[UPDATE: You guys are awesome! Thanks for all your helpful comments over on Kate’s blog! ]

[UPDATE 2: OH MY GOODNESS! One of the commenters I kept deleting just posted this comment over on Kate’s blog (she hasn’t approved it yet; she sent it to me first). Okay, people, this just proves that some of you don’t get it. How in the world does posting this comment on her blog further the cause of Christ?

Oh, and by the way, when I speak about what we need to do to make our marriages better by drawing boundaries, that doesn’t mean we’re ordering our husbands around. That means that we say, “you are free to choose to do that, but I will not stay here/listen to you/etc. etc. if you sin in that way in front of me.” That is perfectly legitimate and perfectly in line with the gospel, and I’m sorry people think that women should allow men to treat them disprespectfully or destructively–or even worse that God sanctions this.

Here’s the comment:

First, I want to state that we were 2/3rds of the commentors you are referencing. Second, we want to apolagize to you in the way it came across. Our differences are with Sheila and not with you. If you are not a christian and are not teaching God’s Word then we have no problem at all with what you shared. However, please understand that is not the way it was presented at a website (Sheila’s) which is about teaching how marriage should take place in a christian marriage.

As christians we have no problem with a wife asking a husband for help and we certianly think a father should be deeply involved in raising his children. We do not beleive though that God’s Word teaches a wife has the authority to tell her husband how their marriage and parenting is going to play out. Share her hopes and feelings, most certianly. Ask for help, definetly. But not tell him or order him. It goes against scripture.

So please understand our disagreement was not with you but with Sheila whose teaching deals almost exclusively anymore with teaching wives to take the authority position in their marriages and not teaching wives the scripture that pertains to them in the Bible while yet holding husbands to the teaching that pertains to them. In other words, everyday Sheila tries to What I find unacceptable is when a difference in values, and thus opinion, gives rise to anybody forcing their own beliefs upon somebody else. There is no justification for that. Or in other words she forces values and opinions on christian men/husbands through her teaching- using God’s Word as her weapon but only applying it to men.

In other words you stepped into a long running battle that unfortunately is filled with hard feelings on both sides. We are sorry you got stuck in the middle and it would have been handled much differently had we known that you were not a christian.

I know this is not a flattering comment in regards to Sheila but I ask you to do two things before you make judgement.

Review her last year (or three years of posts). Do a count on how many address women treating their husbands better or addressing what we as christians would call women’s own sins? Now count how many are addressing men’s sins. You’ll find that somewhere around 80-90% address men’s sins and yet she is speaking to women everyday. The basic theme of her blog is not how to be a better wife or even how to have a better marriage, it is simply about taking control of your husband. If that is not the case, why the vast difference in the number of posts? Are men worse then women? Are men causing more marriage problems than women?

We do not expect someone who does not share our faith to agree with what the Bible says but even people who do not share the same beliefs can agree that the only person you can change is yourself. If you are speaking to the same group everyday, why are you constantly teaching about the sins of the other?

Respectfully and wishing you & your husband the best.

And now a word to that commenter who really doesn’t get it. If you continue to try to get a non-Christian involved in a disagreement between Christians, and continue to try to post things that defame Christ, even though I have told you not to, I WILL publish your email address. This is ridiculous. Please understand: YOU ARE GOD’S AMBASSADOR. How in the world did you think that this comment furthered the cause of Christ?

[UPDATE 3]: Just thought of something even more ironic–and kinda funny!

Okay, so that commenter who is obviously more concerned with winning an argument with me than with portraying Christ in a positive light has a beef with me: I have been teaching on this blog about how women can confront their husbands when their husbands are in sin, instead of teaching women to serve their husbands.

Emotionally Destructive Marriages: 10 Truths about marriages characterized by emotional abuseI don’t actually believe that my posts are skewed if you count them up at all, but it is true that I’ve been hammering the point about Emotionally Destructive marriages recently–and about calling your husbands out on sin. There are two main reasons for this: one is because I can see the Google searches that lead people to this page, and so, so many of them have to do with wives whose husbands use porn.

But the second is because people like this commenter keep commenting–and they scare me! Are there really that many people out there who believe that women should not confront their husbands in sin? If that’s true, then I have a lot more teaching to do! Ironically, if these commenters would stop leaving such incendiary comments about a woman’s role, I could move on to other things. But the fact that they keep popping up here shows me that there is still much teaching to do in the church about appropriate relationships. And that’s why I chose Leslie Vernick’s book The Emotionally Destructive Marriage to look at in our reading challenge last month–because what these people are advocating are essentially the blueprints for an emotionally destructive marriage. And the more I hear from them, the more I have to talk about it!