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Imperfect People in love with a perfect God

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Marriage advice: My top 5

For our ten year anniversary we went to Winshape Marriage Retreat up in Rome Ga.  I would like to take every married couple by the shoulders, look them square in the eye and say GO TO THIS RETREAT.  It’s fun, they feed you like a king, and you spend a weekend learning more about the most important relationship we have here on earth.  A relationship that EVERYONE needs to take time to intentionally work on, no matter how good or bad your marriage is.   Go to Winshape people!   Ok enough about that.


The speaker at this particular session was author, Gary Thomas.  Wow what a win to visit Winshape while he was there!  If you are not familiar with him, he  wrote (arguably) THE BOOK on marriage,

He gave the most unique and applicable marriage advice I have ever heard.  Without further aidu here it is:

1) Do we really think the media has our best interest at heart?

If we compare ourselves to what we see on TV and the movies (and haven’t we all) then we are comparing our selves to a dream made up by a few imagintive writers whose purpose is to take us AWAY from reality and ENTERTAIN us.  Often there is an agenda and rarely is it to strengthen our marriage.

Romantic comedies are sweet.  I admittedly thought the notebook was the best movie EVA.  But it’s not fair to expect my husband to be all those things I see on TV.  After all they are ACTING and let’s be honest, most actor’s REAL Life romances don’t usually last very long.

2) Infatuation doesn’t last

Speaking of movies and TV, isn’t it interesting that the whole plot is based around the couple getting together?  Usually the end of the movie/series is a wedding, when in reality that is just the beginning.

According to Thomas research shows us that the infatuation stage can last AT A MAX of 18 months.  This is the stage when we just can’t get enough of each other.  Everything they do is hilarious and perfect, and we sacrifice work, sleep, and commitments just to be together.  Our brains cannot keep this up, this stage simply doesn’t last…It can’t!

Media reminds us of the butterflies and fireworks that were there at the beginning and make us curious if leaving years of memories, life together and true intimacy is worth trading in to feel the infatuation stage afresh (which will AGAIN only last 18 months).

3)Thinking of God as your Father….IN LAW

This is by far my most favorite piece of advise.  Thomas explains it this way….
Imagine if you will, I think you are the most amazing person I ever met, I quote everything you say, I read everything you write, I sing songs that praise you and I even give 10% of my income to you.  BUT I don’t really like your kids.  In fact I talk down to them, treat them disrespectfully and condemn them for doing anything that even sorta gets on my nerves.

Would you want to hang out with me?  I mean I do lots of wonderful things for you?

NO!!! I don’t care how nice you are to me, if you are condemning and mean to my children it’s game over.  We are no longer friends.

Do you see where I am going with this?  My husband is God’s son!  His baby boy, the apple of his eye.  Just as your spouse is too!  For me to be rude and disrespectful to him yet expect my relationship with God to be good is just crazy talk.  The scripture says it this way:

husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together….Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered. 1 Peter 3:7

The same goes for us ladies so don’t think this is a way out since it is addressing men.  Peter says when you treat your spouse as your should your prayers will not be hindered.  Wow!  What insight!

I imagine that one day, I’m going to stand before God, and He’s going to gently talk to me about Bryan. He’ll say, “what did you do to care for my son? How did you love my son?”

It really puts a different spin on things doesn’t it? 

4)What if Marriage is more about holiness than happiness?

I had a friend who was getting a divorce tell me, “I’m just much happier outside of my marriage”  I couldn’t help but cringe knowing this quote from Sacred Marriage.  

What if marriage wasn’t invented just to make us happy?

Marriage is about teaching us to become LESS SELFISH.  Lord knows we need it.  To change our marriage positively, we each need to PUT OUR SPOUSES NEEDS ABOVE OUR OWN.  As we do that, the marriage becomes stronger, we become better people, and you may just find that happiness after all. True love is less about finding the “right person”, but becoming the right person.



5) When you are looking for things to praise, you will find things to praise

One of my favorite things to quote is, “there is good and bad in everyone it just depends on what you are looking for”
This is so true but sometime I get in a rut and have to INTENTIONALLY shift my thinking.  You can make a list of the things you appreciate about your spouse.   Even if you can think of only one thing, harp on that one thing so much until it makes the bad fade and the good shine.  We are not a slave to our thoughts.  We can shift our thinking to a positive and thankful attitude.

1,000 gifts is a whole book devoted to the idea of journaling thanks and how it is a complete game changer on perspective.

In closing:

“What if the greatest act of worship you could do today is to love your spouse?” -Sally Clarkston
And it very well could be. God loves your husband, and He planned for your husband to have someone to help him, to encourage him, to inspire him, to love him. God wants someone to appreciate your husband, and to urge him on in faith and in love. And that someone, that He has especially prepared for the task, is you -borrowed from 7 thoughts that will change your marriage. 

Ok now it’s your turn.  What is your advice on marriage? Leave a comment below!



I wannabe a weirdo

We are all subject to peer pressure whether we admit it or not.  But when your peers are doing some questionable things its time to go against the grain.  Here is a snapshot of our typical “normal” peer in America:

According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, at least 8 million Americans are at least one month behind on their mortgage payments at this point.

Average household debt in the United States has now reached a level of 136% of average household income.  In China, average household debt is only 17% of average household income.

Back in 1965, only one out of every 50 Americans was on Medicaid.  Today,one out of every 6 Americans is on Medicaid.

The average US household credit card debt stands at $15,216 

Average mortgage debt: $148,443

Average student loan debt: $32,054 (source)

Of all countries, the United States has the highest rate of obesity. From 13% obesity in 1962, to 35.7% in 2010 (source)

55 percent of all marriages result in divorce. (source)

Research indicates that people who live together prior to getting married are more likely to have marriages that end in divorce. ” The Boston Herald

The average American spends 2.7 hours a day watching TV (source)

“More than ever before, work dominates people’s lives in this country” –Joanne B. Ciulla,

One-third of children age 8 – 17 believe their parent has been always or often worried or stressed out about things during the past month.


If the average “normal” American is financially upside down, unhealthy, overworked, in a bad relationship and stressed out…then I don’t think being normal sounds so fun.

Craig Groschel wrote a book (I highly recommend) called “Weird because normal isn’t working” that states, “when people describe his family as weird, he finds comfort.”  I couldn’t agree more.

The bible tells us: If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. John 15:19

“If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me first”.-Jesus

Living differently sometimes results in criticism.  Going with the crowd can be so easy that being “weird” requires seeking correct guidance and it isn’t always  the easiest route.  I don’t want our family to be a statistic.  I want us to be…well…weird.  

I want to be so WEIRD I save up to buy things and delay gratification instead of buying on credit.

I want to such a WEIRDO that I could stand living with less if it means I can have less stress and more time with my family.

I want to be the WEIRD family that guards the media that comes into our home.

I want to be so WEIRD that I eat food whose ingredients I can pronounce.

I want so be so WEIRD that I take INTENTIONAL time with my husband so we can still be in love years after the, “I do.”

And I want so be criticized for saying NO to something good so I can say YES to something great.

What do you think about all this weird talk.  Are you a weirdo too?

Media Minimization March week 1 what I have learned so far

Our first true test of this whole media minimization came quickly.  The second day of March was on a Saturday.  It was the first Saturday in ages we had NOTHING planed.

Not a birthday party, baby shower, or a single thing on the agenda.  It was FREEZING outside and we are sticking to 7 hours TOTAL of any screen time at all per WEEK.  (click here for why)

Sooooo what’s a family to do?

We got creative.  We went swimming under the dome at the local park, we did puzzles and went for ice cream after dinner.

I was worried the kids would rebel against the whole idea but they kind of like it.  The great thing about kids is their ability to go with the flow.  When the screen time is up, it’s up.  And it’s time to get creative.

For me, I have had a hard time justifying what is “work” and legitimate internet time and what isn’t.  So the rule obeyer in me (she’s very small but still there) decided to give up instagram and any status updates (facebook or twitter) for the month as well.  Those are much more of a sacrifice for me (I miss you instagram) but in sacrifice we grow BIG time.

You know how many people have missed my updates?  Let me count…..Hmmm…..ZERO.  Not only can I live without social media, it can also get along just fine without me.  

Bryan is limiting TV and other media as well.  We have MANY more conversations in the evening without computers or TV’s to compete with.  This whole experiment is way more tolerable together.  We hold each other accountable too.

But it’s not all happy puzzle time and ice cream either .  Media is not all bad.  Here are the cons I have experienced:

1) Status updates are kinda handy.  Anybody know how to fix a fridge?  And if you had to pick one would you choose a trampoline or swing set for your backyard?
(updates I have wanted to post lately)

2) I don’t take near as many pictures.  I never realized it but I was taking pictures mostly for social media purposes.  Please humor me and tell me how cute this little collage is of Ava at the mall the other day.  She was dancing in front of the mirror.


At the end of the day this teeny tiny, hardly mentionable “sacrifice” helps remind me of the millions of people who have so much less than me.

Everyday, several times a day, when I stop myself from thumbing through my phone, I am reminded of HOW MUCH we have.  We are blessed beyond measure.  If limiting media can help remind me to enjoy the HERE and now, be present, and become less distracted…then I am all for it.

Media Minimization March

We didn’t start this whole idea with the goal of a clever title…but the 3 “m”s is kinda catchy if I do say so myself.

Have you heard of this book called “7” by Jen Hatmaker?  I’m kinda in love with it.  She takes 7 areas of her life lived in excess: Food. Clothes. Spending. Media. Possessions. Waste. Stress.   They spend thirty days on each topic, boiling it down to the number seven. Only eat seven foods, wear seven articles of clothing, and spend money in seven places. Eliminate use of seven media types, give away seven things each day for one month, adopt seven green habits, and observe “seven sacred pauses.”

A few months back we did stress, and observed the “seven sacred pauses”

For the month of March we are cutting back our media.  Media has a way of sneaking into stealing away our life.  It is very subtle but it happens everyday.  We decided cutting back media is a great way to re-focus on what we value as a family…each other.


In the book, they cut out 7 different forms of media completely for the month.  We decided to just cut all media back to a total of 7 hours a week.

What does this include?  For us we decided “media” was anything with a screen (music is permitted).  It gets a little tricky because,  of course, a computer is how we both work.  But thanks to a handy site called rescue time  it will automatically track where we spend our time online.   And true work will not count toward the 7 hours.

I almost choked on the air when my husband originally suggested we use our phones as just PHONES.  We have only had smart phones for about a year but I seriously think my iphone is as magnificent as disney world and cheesecake all wrapped into one.

Ultimately we decided it was impractical NOT to use all of the handy things a smart phone lets you check, but it would all count toward our 7 hours per week.  Toggl is an app that will keep me accountable there.

And of course TV.  I’m not much of a TV fan but the rest of our family is.  Cutting back on the TV for the kids means more work on us but I am really excited about all the alternatives we will discover with the default of TV gone from the line up.


I originally thought 7 hours was a generous plenty (about 1 hour per day) but when you start to time ALL YOUR MEDIA into one hour…it’s not that much.

So is going surprisignly better than expected.  I am learning a lot but that is for another post.  For now…my time is nearly up.

Have you every had a media fast/minimiztion?  What did you think?

Imperfect Marriage

“And they lived….Happily Ever After”

Well thanks Disney and romantic comedies.  That makes a cute story and all but there are an AGGLOMERATION of details we are missing here.

In real life:  He forgets to take out the trash and she doesn’t always shave her legs.    When you are covered with spit up and diaper rash cream you don’t feel very sexy.   And, I hate to break it to you, but you both fart too.

Culture, movies, advertisements, magazines, and comparison to others can do a pretty convincing job in telling you marriage is supposed to be blissfully perfect and if not,  you should call it quits, plus you “deserve” to be happy right?


The truth is this:

Perfect marriage is as unrealistic as Cinderella and the prince.  Perfect ended in the garden.  We ALL have arguments, real life temptations, money strains, and unexpected stressors.

When it comes to deserving to be happy:

The King of the world who “deserved” the finest palace with a 100 servants at his feet was born in a dark cold MANGER with animals and dirt all around.
As an adult, He took the pain that he did not “deserve” in a cruel and awful punishment that He could have walked away from in an instant.
He voluntarily placed the comforts of heaven, His rank, and all he “deserved” to the side, because of love. 

In light of this I think overlooking a few annoying habits and thinking of ourselves a little less, and our spouse a little more gets much easier.

YOU are the only one in control of your happiness.

All this being said, marriage can absolutely be “blissful and happily ever after” It just looks different than it does in movies.

“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times — always with the same person.” ― Mignon McLaughlin

As the days and years pass, we change, we grow, and we are not the same people we were on our wedding day.  As Steve Perry says in “Faithfully,” my all time favorite 80’s song, “I get the joy of rediscovering you.”

We must never stop dating and learning the about what is exciting in each others lives.  Discovering your mate in their new roles as they change from newly wed to married with young children.  In new jobs, with new hobbies and new experiences we always have something new to discuss.

Bryan and I are as imperfect as any couple.  We just decided not to be committed to ” the marriage” because we could get another “the marriage” we are committed to each other.

Growing old together is not always glamours.  It’s about real life, and real people learning how to put their selfishness aside to love UNCONDITIONALLY.  Not because they always deserve it, but because that is they way Jesus loves us, when we do not deserve it.

imperfect marriages



Choosing to cheat

I told my husband the other day I could stay up all night long and still have way too much on my to do list, to which he responded, “shorten your to-do list”

Profound!  Simple, maybe even obvious but I thought it was brilliant…he’s a smart guy.  I think all of us have expectations we place on ourselves that don’t REALLY have to be done. 

Andy Stanley wrote a book called “choosing to cheat” The premise states that we cannot possibly do everything so we must cheat in one or more areas of our life.  There are simply not enough hours in a day or days in a year to do and be everything we want.  We are then faced with the choice to decide what is most important.

Although we don’t see it this way it is even a little egotistical to think we are soooo important that we must get so much done.  If the world will keep spinning and no one will be physically harmed if we don’t complete the task then is it really THAT important? 

Cheating suggestions:

Housework:  Everyone has different “must does’” for a clean home.  I think it is essential to take a moment to define what a clean home is to you.  What is most important and what areas can you cheat? It will just get dirty again anyway!

The Internet:  Rescue time is a free internet service designed to keep you accountable for how much time you spend on the net.  On average it rescues people from almost 4 hours of time a week! 

Television: Along with the internet these are the two biggest time suckers for most families.  Be intentional with your television.  Ask is this show WORTH my time?  Give yourself a number you are comfortable with for hours spent per week in front of the tube. 

Extra activities:  If your kids are in soccer, dance, karate, football, and piano all at the same time you might want to take a step back and ask what is most important and what is not.  Or maybe you are the president of the PTA, the bible study leader, the volunteer and the helper for EVERYTHING in your city.  Just incase you need permission…It’s okay to say no.
(ouch I am so guilty of this)

Work more effectively:  No matter where you work: in an office or at home there are ways to work more efficiently.  4 hour work week  is a book dedicated to helping your work more effectively.

Barter anyone?:  You can’t do it all but together we can.  Babysitting is a great way to trade services.  You watch my kids and I’ll watch yours.  I have a friend that does all my monogramming and I make her little girls hair bows.  PERFECT!! 

What is a skill or service you can offer?  Trading is much more fun that spending money and is a helpful way to get what you need by “cheating” 

Share your thoughts: In what ways do you “cheat?”

Martha Stewart’s daughter and a lesson in PRIORITIES

Martha Stewart, your quintessential homemaker, picture perfect crafter, gourmet chef, amazing hostess, and gardener.

We all have someone we look up to, and for so many women it is Martha Stewart.   When our days are stressful, dinner is burnt, and the centerpiece we tried to craft for thanksgiving looks more like a preschoolers art project, we close our eyes and think, “How does Martha do it?” 

According to her daughter, while Martha was pretending to be betty homemaker to the world, she ignored her own family. 

“If I didn’t do something perfectly, I had to do it again,” writes her daughter. “I grew up with a glue gun pointed at my head.” source

 Photo credit

She goes on to say “There was never anything to eat at my house,” and despite Martha’s seemingly love for the holidays, her daughter said she was quite “humbug” about them in reality. 

While Martha was pretending to be perfect, her own daughter suffered.  I’m not trying to dog on Martha, she was running a successful TV ‘show and magazine, writing cookbooks and who knows all of her other million obligations, there is now way she could DO IT ALL. 

She was never designed to DO IT ALL.

This my friends, is point of Imperfect People.

So many are wearing the masks of  “I have it all together” when families are falling apart. 

When the stress of the world tells us to go here, do that ,and be the leader of this, we have to KNOW what it is we are designed to do and don’t apologize for saying no to something that doesn’t fit into the mission God has given us. 

How do you know your mission?

List out your top 5 priorities.  The things that take up the majority of your time, talent, and treasure.  If all else fades,  if money didn’t matter, cross out your obligations one by one until you are left with the TWO that are most important.

Go ahead write them down.

What are you left with?

Hopefully it is family and faith. 

Of course we cannot ignore those other three priorities but i hope that shed light on the things that TRULY matter. 

Another way to help decide your mission is discovering what are you passionate about.   What gets you up in the morning and gets you excited? What are your gifts talents? 

Once you know what is most important, develop a family mission statement.  Deciding what is most important as a family helps you to say NO to the good opportunities so you can say YES to the best opportunities.  Examplehere.

Martha Stewart has talents no doubt, and I don’t think it is wrong that she had a successful career using those talents.  I just think she may have lost sight of what is MOST important. 

While loving the Lord with all our hearts is the MOST important, I believe family certainly comes way before career, hobbies, and fame and fortune.

How do you keep focus on the most important priorities? Tags: perfect,imperfection,mission statement,family,faith

How to argue with your spouse

My husband and I celebrated SEVEN years of marriage this past weekend (woo hoo!).  To celebrate we went to a Winshape “Courageous Hearts” retreat in Rome, GA.

Inspired by the quote, “the best thing you can give your kids is a good marriage” we took an intentional getaway designed not for couples in crisis, just couples that want the BEST marriage possible.  Our weekend was full of RELAXATION, no distractions (it is media free), time together, and time to learn how to be even better together.

Truett Cathy (yes the founder of Chick-fil-A) founded Winshape with the purpose of shaping “winners”  and shaping winning marriages is one of the things they do great…plus we had excellent customer service and lots of “my pleasure.”

The ropes course: 

I learned so much I will probably be writing about it forever but most importantly was a really cool lesson on “how to argue with your spouse” led by Todd Sandel (who did an awesome job!)  Here is what I learned:

Rarely are arguments about only the issue at hand.  More often a “fear button” has been pushed and we are reacting because of the fear button, not the issue.  Let me give you an example:

The wife is watching HGTV, she says, “oh honey look, I would love to do that to our kitchen!”  He hears “I am not a good enough provider and you would like to do that to our kitchen tomorrow.” 

His fear button of, “I”m not good enough” was pushed.  He reacts by saying, “Don’t you remember the budget talk?  Why would you bring that up now when we just paid for dance lessons?” 

She reacts by using “you always” or “we never”  because now her button of “I’m not being heard or my opinion isn’t valued” is pushed. 

And so the cycle continues. 

The issue is no longer about the plans for the kitchen but a husband who doesn’t feel valued and a wife who doesn’t feel heard. 

After a little practice you can quickly identify when you get in the cycle and deal with the “buttons” instead of just arguing in circles. 

If the buttons are identified early, the argument would end before it had a chance to start.  Imagine a tennis match:

Serve: That kitchen on HGTV is Beautiful!
Return: Don’t you remember the budget talk?
AH HA! Your button was pushed.  Argument ender: I’m sorry I didn’t intend that we remodel anytime soon if ever.  It’s just a show I enjoy. Thank you for providing us with a home when so many have so little. (ok maybe that’s a little over the top…but I guarantee that would end the argument!) 

Repair & Reconnect

My fear button of _________ got pushed

I reacted by __________

How ever the truth about my value is  __________

What I really long for is ____________

Marriage is the foundation of the family.  If you are married…I hope this will help you argue less, and voice your differences with love. 


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LiveJournal Tags: Marriage,Christian

17 Cheap (and romantic) date night ideas

Want to have a fun date night?  Don’t have a lot of cash?  Then I hope this list helps you enjoy your date and save some cash too!

First things first, if you have kids, babysitters are expensive.  Talk to a group of friends about setting up a babysitting co-op.  Where you trade out “tokens” for babysitting instead of cash. 

Now that the kiddos are settled in here are a few cheap and romantic ideas:

  1. Walk down memory lane:  Reminisce on how you first met, your dating life, wedding, and early marriage.  Get those butterflies back in action! 
  2. Stare at the stars INSIDE:  Go to the Planetarium, learn about our universe and cuddle with your sweetie. 
  3. Enjoy the weather together.  Depending on the time of year ice skating, picnics, or going for a swim are all fun date nights.  
  4. Dress Rehearsal: Got a play in your local theater you would love to see but don’t want to pay for tickets?  Call around to see if you can attend the dress rehearsal.  They are often a fraction of the price and sometimes FREE!
  5. Cuddle up with a book:  The book store is our personal favorite cheap date.  I grab a book about gardening or kids and he grabs a magazine or book on sports and we sit together sipping coffee and playing footsie.
  6. Dinner Coupons: has specials and be sure to check your local paper or weekly circular for local coupons. 
  7. Just dessert:  You can have dinner at home, put the kids to bed, then go out for dessert and coffee.  Babysitters usually don’t expect as much if the kids are sleeping the whole time.  I have friends that trade out with a neighbor and do this once a week!
  8. Play 40 questions:  Print out this Conversation starters booklet and get to know each other better.
  9. Take a Tour:  You would be surprised at all the places that would be glad to give you a tour of their business if you just ask.  Candy shops, distribution centers, factories,  whatever interest you and is close to where you live.
  10. Flea Markets browsing:  There’s something for everyone at a flea market and plenty of things you never knew existed — you might even discover he has a hobby or weird collection you didn’t know about…plus often times there is cotton candy. 
  11. Art museum:  Even if you don’t live near the Guggenheim almost every city offers art on display at a local city building or college.  Just for fun dress up and talk with your best English accent as you study the art.
  12. Botanical Gardens:  Almost every town has an amazing world of horticulture just waiting to be explored.  Call in advance and they will gladly give you a tour.  
  13. Share what you love: Spend time teaching each other about your favorite hobby or skill.  Playing an instrument, gardening, crafting, photography etc.  You may be surprised how much you enjoy their hobby. 
  14. Be a tourist in your own home town.  We went on charted tour (very inexpensive) of a neighboring city and learned more than we ever learned living nearby for years!  Contact your local visitors bureau for events and tour information.
  15. Open mic/karaoke night: Check out the nearest karaoke or open mic night.  Even if you don’t participate you will enjoy free talent or lack there of (which is sometimes even better). 
  16. Local College/University events: If you live near a college log on to the school’s website and check out the schedule of events.  Schools will open large events, from lectures & panels, to movie screenings and plays.  Usually free to the public.
  17. Go back home: If you took the kids to a friends house, go back home.  Light a few candles…need I say more?

 What is your favorite cheap date night?