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.

FOTF1

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!

MeetUpGroup2

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.

MeetUp6

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.

MeetUp3

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.

Best of Reality Check

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Wifey Wednesday: Some AWESOME Free Ebooks for You

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

Marriage Hacks–Free Marriage Ebook

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

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

Download It Here

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

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

And many more…

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

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

You can download this awesome book right here.

Free Marriage EbookBringing Sexy Back–Free Marriage Ebook

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

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

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

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

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


Subscribe to our mailing list

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

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

Here’s What I Did with my Wedding Dress

Last week I did something very odd.

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

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

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

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Here’s the two of us wearing it:

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I was 21; Katie’s 17.

So why did we do this?

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

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

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

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

And they don’t have wedding dresses.

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

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

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

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sealed it all up,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s a shorter video of what they do:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She said yes.

Big surprise.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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And the desks:

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

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

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

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Here are Sheila’s tips for school stuff:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love Your Lashes: Super Fun Younique Giveaway

I’ve got something different for us today!

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

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

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

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

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And here’s an “official” picture:

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How does it work?

You get a really pretty case:

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

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You start with your own mascara:

 

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

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And then your lashes look a ton longer!

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

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

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

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

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And remember to check out