Thursday, February 28, 2013

40 Days to a Stronger Marriage ~ Day 14

We've been talking a lot about things WE can do to help our marriage. I wanted to take a step back from that and talk about something very important. It may be a sore spot for some, but it's the truth that I have found and need to share it.

We can't do this on our own. No matter how hard we try. Period. It's just not going to happen. No matter how much effort we put into our marriage, it will never be SPECTACULAR unless we rely on someone else.

Who is this someone else? Jesus Christ. Take a second to swallow that...... Got it? Good! Maybe you accepted Jesus a long time ago, maybe this is the first you are hearing about it. Timing doesn't matter. What matters is what you do with this information from this point forward.

As I told you before, I was raised Catholic. I grew up knowing God, and Jesus. I knew what Jesus did for me. It's was all in my head though. It didn't reach my heart until I was saved from death in Iraq. I know that sounds dramatic, but it was dramatic. I posted a while back about that fateful day. I will never forget it. The feeling of knowing someone was trying to kill you is a sobering one. That's when it hit me. God saved me for a reason! There was no turning back at that point for me.

I'm still a sinner and I still fail. Every, single, day! That's the beauty of it all though. God knew we would fail to meet His high standard on our own. So he sent his Son, Jesus Christ to save us. Our Father in Heaven loves each one of us that much! He was willing to sacrifice his own Son in order to save us! In my opinion, that is nothing short of amazing.

One of the most important things we can do for our marriage, our LIFE, is accept the gift of Salvation from Jesus Christ. He died, so that you don't have to spend an eternity separated from your Creator. I believe this is the single, most important thing we can do for our marriage.

Day 14
Search your heart. 
If you have committed your life to Christ, commit to renewing your relationship with Him. 
If you have not accepted that gift, please, seriously consider your need for the Savior. Talk to a pastor, a friend, me, whoever you need to discuss this with. 
It's all about YOUR personal relationship with Him.  

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

40 Days to a Stronger Marriage ~ Days 11-13

Today, I will post a challenge to make up for the last three days. I am so sorry, again. I had to take a rest day yesterday. I was getting stretched too thin and needed to just stay away from the computer. I spent the day with my kids and husband(after he was off work). It was nice and I feel refreshed and connected again.

I want to talk a little bit about the "Honeymoon" period. We hear this phrase thrown around a lot, but what does it really mean? Wikipedia has this to say about the "honeymoon;"

"Originally "honeymoon" simply described the period just after the wedding when things are at their sweetest; it is assumed to wane in a month. This is the period when newly wed couples take a break to share some private and intimate moments that helps establish love in relationship. This privacy in turn is believed to ease the comfort zone towards physical relationship, which is one of the primary means of bonding during the initial days of marriage. The earliest term for this in English was hony moone, which was recorded as early as 1546."

I have a question; "Why does this honeymoon phase need to end so quickly?" 
I understand that there are other things that happen in life that take our attention, kids, work, bills, etc. I am a firm believer that, once we have kids, they need to take a top seat in our life. That is not to say that they take over that top seat, but they occupy that space along with our husband. As long as BOTH parents are doing this, it will work. We only have our children for a small time of our life. We have been charged with training them in the way they should go. That is not to be taken lightly. 

That being said, we can't loose sight of our husband. He will be with us for a lifetime. That is a relationship that takes time and attention. How in the world do I do it? Take little moments in every day life. You can be romantic when you are up for the thousandth time, in the middle of the night, with the baby. You are tired, but share that moment with your husband and child. Some of my fondest memories of each of my children is when they were babies. G.I. Joe and I were (still are) exhausted, up with a teething baby or something else. We shared in some of those moments. Showed compassion for one another and let the other go to bed. Sacrificed our sleep also, to keep the other company. Let the one who was up with the baby sleep in, without question, the next morning. 

You have to CREATE the honeymoon. It isn't something that just happens. If you sit around waiting for it to just happen, you are going to get into trouble! This is mainly about attitude and it builds upon some of the other challenges we've shared. That wet towel on the floor, does it need to be a fight? Could we make a game of it to have a little fun? Take out your old pictures of when you were dating, or were first married. Remember WHY you fell in love with your husband.
Day 11-13
Create your LIFETIME honeymoon. Not everyday will be rainbows and sunshine. Make the stormy days some of  your best.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Blog Planner Review

I recently joined and review for Mosaic Reviews. We were asked to do a "practice review," to help us all get one under our reviewing belts. We were able to choose one of many free blog planners to review. I chose to review this blog planner by Mama Jenn.

I printed mine off and used my awesome ProClick machine to bind it. I also designed my own cover. Really, I just needed an excuse to use my Silhouette Cameo that I got for my birthday. 

1. Pretty, yet simple. I LOVED the different color flowers for each month. I also liked that there wasn't a whole lot of color. That can get to be expensive.

2. Very well laid out.

3. Easy to use.

4. I like that there is a month page with boxes to check for each social networking site. It really pushed me to get my blog out there. This is the page that I used the most.

5. The checklists are a great touch.

6. The blog posts notes page is great too. After the monthly page, this is the one I used next. It was nice to have a place to collect my thoughts, or jot an idea down to re-visit later.

7. It's "free." I say "free" because there is the cost of paper, and ink for printing. Which is minimal, but still a cost.


1. You have to print it. If you don't have a way to bind it, you are stuck with a binder or staples. Not that big of a deal really. 

2. The boxes on the monthly pages are small. It's hard to fit everything in there.

Overall, this is a GREAT blog planner. I liked it so much I am going to continue to use it. I won't even change anything about it! If you know me, that is HUGE! I tweak EVERYTHING. I highly recommend this blog planner from Mama Jenn. She does have other printables available.

After March 1st, you can read all about what the other reviewers wrote about the planner they choose by clicking on Mosaic Reviews.

Friday, February 22, 2013

40 Days to a Stronger Marriage - Day 9 & 10

Today will be two days in one post. I like to keep my weekends clear, in order to spend much needed time as a family and take care of some other business.

Day 9 and 10 will be wrapped into one. I believe this is a big one. These two days are all about keeping God at the center of your marriage. I can't stress how important this one is in a relationship, and life in general. If we keep our focus on God, everything else melts away. This is not to say that life will be a rainbows and sunshine. We will still have trials, but with God as our focus we can walk through them.

I read this blog post a while back and it made total sense to me. They site, Walter Trobisch, saying in his book he illustrates the marriage relationship using a triangle. God is at the top and the husband and wife are at the bottom on either side. As each of us aims our focus on God, we come together with Him at the center. This is a perfect description of how marriage should be.

Day 9 & 10
Put your focus on God. Not on yourself, not on your spouse.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

40 Days to a Stronger Marriage - Day 8

Good morning to you all! I am so happy to be doing this blog series. It has really changed how I behave in my marriage. I have always tried to create a strong marriage, but taking this journey for Lent has really brought it to the next level. I find myself really being intentional about my marriage. We aren't just floating through life. I LOVE it!

How are things going for you? Any special prayer requests? You can post them in the comments section. If they are too sensitive to share, you can just post that you would like some prayer. God knows the details.

Today's challenge is a great one! It's all about looking at three ways you differ from your husband, and how they complete you. The second part is the most important, in my opinion. I believe that God designed us for our mate. I, like most other American girls, had boyfriends growing up and as a young adult. None of them can hold a candle to my husband. I am still surprised how well we fit together sometimes. Even something as simple as holding hands, we just click. (Yes, I still hold my husbands hand like we are teenagers.) Where I fall short, he holds me up. Where he falls short, I hold him up. This is so important.

So often, we see our differences as obstacles. We hear of so many celebrities citing "irreconcilable differences" as their reason for divorce. I am not here to say that you are wrong if you are divorced. That is not for me to judge.

"Do not judge, so that you won't be judged. For with the judgment you use, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye but don't notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck our of your eye,' and look, there's a log in your eye? Hypocrites! First take the log out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye." ~Matthew 7:1-5 (HCSB)

That being said, I think we can all agree that divorce is not ideal, though sometimes it is just what needs to happen.

I believe that some of the best marriages have had "irreconcilable differences." They have just chosen not to let it ruin their marriage. G.I. Joe and I don't agree on everything, and we can have some pretty heated discussions. However, what is most important is that we are intentional about coming back together in spite of our differences.

Day 8
Today, I want you to make a list of 3 ways you are different from your husband. Once you have written them down, write down how they complete you. Then, I want you to share this with your husband. You may be surprised at how much this means to both of you.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

40 Days to a Stonger Marriage - Days 6 &7

First of all I need to apologize for not posting yesterday. That happens from time to time. We had a busy day and I just didn't get to it. Again, I am so sorry.

Day 6 is all about creating a date night. In my opinion, some of the best date nights G.I. Joe and I have had, have been at home when the kids are in bed. We have a standing date night set up for Fridays. Sometimes we do go out, but most of the time we are here. We feel the kids are only young once and we don't want to leave them with a babysitter all of the time. That's our personal preference, it does not have to be yours.

I believe we need to b intentional about our marriage and setting up a date night is part of that. There are many sites on the web with ideas about date nights. I have posted some of them on my "Romance" board on Pinterest. Go take a look. Follow some ideas and let me know how it went.

I also grabbed a book from my church's library called, 10 Great Dates to Revitalize Your Marriage. I have not read through all o fit yet, so I can not say that I agree with everything the authors have written. What I have read seems pretty good.

Date one starts with making your marriage a priority. As homeschooling  parents, G.I. Joe and I have many responsibilities. We don't put our marriage above anything else, I don't believe in a "pecking order." First and foremost our relationship with Christ is number one. When that is where it needs to be the rest falls into place.

There are times that, it seems, the kids are always coming first, but we have to get creative then. We also practice a "Family Bed." We chose this for our family, and it works. I have had people ask me, "How do you have time to be intimate with your husband if your kids are always in your bed." Don't you have other rooms? Other beds? Other floor space?

Anyway, I have gotten off track. Surprise, surprise. Back to the task at hand;
(This is a pic of G.I. Joe and me while we were serving in Iraq. Sorry for the bad quality.)

Day 6
For day six, I want you to set aside one day each week for a "date night" with your husband. It can be the same day each week, or it can float. As long as you have it set. You can stay in, or hire a babysitter, whatever works for you. 

Come back and share with me what you did. 

Day 7 
Day seven is all about vocalizing your love for your husband. So often we get stuck in the rut of, "He knows I love him. I don't have to say it all the time." You may not need to "say" it. Find out what their love language is and commit to keeping their "love cup" full. This is very important to keeping your love alive

Monday, February 18, 2013

40 Days to a Stronger Marriage - Day 5

Sorry for the late start today. Life happened. I had to run to a few places before I lost the nerve to go out in this super cold wind. Funny how being born a Dakota girl, I still hate the cold.

On Friday, I made my list of things I love and appreciate about my husband. As I was thinking about it, I recalled this passage from Matthew;

"Now if you don't hold people's mistakes against them, your Father in the heavenly places won't hold your mistakes against you. But if you do hold people's mistakes against them, then your Father will hold your mistakes against you." ~Matthew 6:14-15 (The Source New Testament)

I take this one pretty seriously. If we hold things, like forgetting to put up a towel, against our husband, how can we expect to be forgiven for our shortcomings? Over and over, Jesus tells us not to be like the hypocrites. The word hypocrites is translated from the Greek word, "hupokrites," which literally means an overly critical, hairsplitting, pedantic, religious(legalistic) person. This is something I do not want to become. It is so easy to pick at those we are with often. Society tells us it's okay to make fun of the "blubbering idiot of a husband." I am here to say ENOUGH! We should build our husband up, not tear them down. The work, and Satan, does enough tearing down. We don't need to add to it.

1 Corinthians 10:23-24 tells us;

     " "We are free to do anything" you say, but not everything is good for you! Yes, "we are free to do anything" but not everything builds you up. Each of you must consider other people's interests rather than your own." (The Source New Testament)

While we "can" say or do anything, because God gives us that choice, we need to think of others first. Does that towel really make a difference? Couldn't we just put it up and be done? I will go back to that old saying, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." This does not mean we have to become doormats for our husbands. It just means we need to thing about things first. There is a time and a place to bring up grievances. I believe, in a healthy marriage, this is important. We do need to call each other out at times. As long as it is done in a respectful manner with loving correction at the heart, there is no problem.

So, how did your weekend go? Was it easy or hard for you to create your lists? Why or why not?

Onto day 5! Day 5 focuses on ourselves. This may be easy, this may be hard, but either way, it must be done.

Day 5
Identify an area that you need to improve upon and get to work. 

This may be difficult for some of us because it requires us to take an honest look at our actions, words, behaviors, etc. Take a look at how you speak to your husband. Is it respectful? Is it loving? How about how we react when things don't go as planned, does it tear down or build up? 

I encourage you to write yourselves little reminders around your house. Whether it's a verse from Scripture, or a quote from someone, or just one word. It's good to remind ourselves of what we need to be. I have little reminders all over my house in the form of Scripture. A verse here and there for me to read on a daily basis, just to remind me that I am a child of God and I need to behave as such. Nothing condemning, just uplifting Scripture.  

Friday, February 15, 2013

40 Days to a Stronger Marriage - Day 3 & 4

Hello again and welcome back. Today, I am going to give the challenge for both day 3 and day 4. They go together quite well, so it's fitting that they land on a Friday.

Today, I want you to get a piece of paper and a pen. Take some time to write out 10 things you love and appreciate about your husband. Once you are done, take some time to share with your husband, some or all of the items on your list. You can share them all at once, or one here and there. The point is for you to be intentional about the reasons you love your husband. 

It's easy for this to get lost in the mix of daily life. We have many things that can distract us. We can't let any of this cloud our marriage. Be intentional! 

Day 4
This day, like day 3, you will be making a list. However, today it will be a list of things you feel your husband can improve upon. Things you don't like about him. 

I know, this seems counter-productive to focus on the negative. Aren't we trying to create a stronger marriage? Yes, we are. I feel this is an important step. 

We are all human and have likes and dislikes. It's fine to acknowledge them. It's not fine to dwell on them. That is why, when you are done writing this list, you are going to pray. Pray that God helps you to focus on only those things that you love and appreciate about hour husband. I am not saying that we have to be passive. I am just saying that we have to choose whether something is worth bringing to his attention or not. I am talking about little things, like snoring or leaving the towel on the floor. Not big things like verbal or physical abuse.

After you have prayed over this list and your heart, destroy it. By destroying it, you are saying that you are going to let it go. 

I think this is a good time to mention, that I am in no way a marriage counselor, psychiatrist, therapist, or anything of the sort. I am simply a married woman. Nothing more. I am just sharing some thoughts and trying to strengthen my marriage. If you are having real issues within your marriage, I highly encourage you to seek help elsewhere, I can not offer it here. The only help I can offer is prayer.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

40 Days to a Stronger Marriage - Day 2

Hello all, and welcome back! How did your day of prayer for your husband go yesterday? Did you pray for him every time you thought of him? Did you come up with a reminder for yourself? If not, now is a great time to do so. We will continue praying for our husband each day for the next 39 days of Lent.

Today is Valentine's Day. This is what I woke up to this morning. My husband took some time before work to bake me some sugar free brownies and even frost them with sugar free frosting. Being I am a diabetic, he can't just run to the store and buy a box of chocolates. I feel so blessed that he took his precious time this morning to bake for me.

Being Valentine's day, I thought it was a great day for us to do something for our husbands. So, here it is:

Day 2:
Tell your husband what your intentions are for the next 39 days of Lent. 
Sit down with him and let him know that you are going to commit this Lenten season to creating a stronger marriage. At least on your half. A marriage takes two people working toward the same goal and we all know that we can't change our husband. We can only work on us. You can make this a grand or as simple as you want. I chose to sit down with G.I. Joe and tell him what I was doing for Lent. He was really moved by the gesture. I think it means something to our husbands when we make them a priority in our lives. 

I am interested in hearing what you did for today and how you did yesterday. Don't forget to continue to pray for your husband all through Lent and beyond. Prayer is a very powerful tool!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

40 Days to a Stronger Marriage

Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Lent is a period of 40 days before Easter, that Christians take as a time of preparation. We use this time to reflect upon Jesus' life, death and resurrection.

Growing up Catholic, and attending a private Catholic school, every year we were encouraged to "give something up" for lent. A lot of us did silly things like, candy or something similar. As we got older what we gave up became a little less "silly." Regardless of how "silly" the thing was, it really did teach me a lot about self discipline.

As an adult, I have parted ways with the Catholic church. I now just consider myself a believer in our Lord Jesus Christ. The denomination of church I attend does not matter. I still learned a lot from the Catholic church, self discipline being one of the major virtues. I simply can not let this Lenten season pass by without some challenge for myself. That is why, this year, I have chosen to commit myself to creating a stronger relationship with my husband.

G.I. Joe(my husband) and I have been married for 8 years and 9 months. I am deeply in love with him and we have a pretty strong marriage. I believe that it takes work to maintain a good marriage, but I don't want just a "good" marriage. I want a spectacular marriage. This will take extra work on both of our parts, but I can't make him work. I can only work on me.

Starting today, I will start on this new adventure of being intentional in my marriage. I will pull from many different resources for new ideas. Number one being The Bible. I can't promise I will succeed every day, but I can promise that I will try my hardest.

I invite each of you to follow along with me. If you do, post in my comments and I will pray for you. I ask that you do the same for me. You can join me on Facebook and Twitter. I will post the day's challenge on each of those pages.

So, without further ado, the challenge:

DAY 1:
Commit to praying for your husband, each time you think of him for the next 40 days. 

This may seem easy for you or extremely hard. Either way, I believe it's a good idea. Think of something that reminds you of your husband. Maybe it's your wedding ring. Each time you see your ring, feel your ring, adjust your ring, put lotion on your hands and touch your ring, say a little prayer for your husband. 

Here are some things you can pray for your husband:
1. protection
2. health
3. guidance
4. his job
5. his relationship with God
6. his relationship with you
7. his relationshop with your children

These are really just a jumping point. There are lots of articles all over the web about praying for our husbands. There are lots of books written on the subject also.  Do a search on the web or in your local library to get some more ideas. 

Again, I invite you to share with me in the comments section. Even if it's just for a quick prayer and you don't want to share details. Just let me know that you are trying to do this with me and I will add you to my prayer list. 



Tuesday, February 12, 2013

FIAR:More "Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel"

We have finished this book, but I still had some pictures, so I thought I would share what we did.

This day, my older boys wanted to join in with us. They are 6 and 8, so they do fit into the age range this curricula targets, we just have other things we do with them. They were interested in what I was doing with the younger two, so they sat in and participated. I think this curricula could really work well as a spine for multiple ages.

After we read the book again, we made some pinwheels. (This activity is outlined in FIAR Volume 1 ) I wanted to demonstrate to them how steam can move an object. This did not go so well for us. Our pinwheels did not want to move. We still had fun. I improvised and told them to imagine that the air coming out of my mouth was steam and blew on the pinwheel. They got the point.

To add in some Language Arts, I continued with some pages that we were doing while working through Little Hands to Heaven from Heart of Dakota.  It is a great curricula, just too repetitive for us. We need change and different things to do from week to week. This was just too much of the same thing. However, I do still use some of the ideas from this curricula.

Since "steam shovel" starts with an "s", I decided to have my two little ones do the worksheet for the letter "s." My little girl, "Raindrop," just used the marker to circle a whole bunch of letters, but she enjoys being involved. We talked a little bit about what an "s" is shaped like, and I'm sure she will get it in the coming years. ;)


My youngest boy, "Hurricane," really took his work seriously with this one. He studied his paper for a long time and then highlighted each "s" very carefully. He has grown so much this past year, it's just amazing!!

After I was done with the younger two, I called in the older boys and we did their Math and Language Arts. All in all, I would say this was a successful day!