Friday, January 25, 2013

Cooking and Cleaning Only? No it Goes Much Deeper Than That! Day 14 of the Marriage Challenge

Keeper of the home....what exactly does that mean to you?

Let's go to the Word...

  That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. Titus 2:4-5

Strong's concordance defines "keeper" this way

1) caring for the house, working at home
   a) the (watch or) keeper of the house
   b) keeping at home and taking care of household affairs
   c) a domestic

A keeper is not just the person that cooks and cleans the house...though that is important...but she WATCHES over the house. What does that mean?

She is aware of the things going on inside the home. She knows who her children's friends are, and the types of families they come from. She is conscious of the friends that she is around, who is speaking into her life.  She is aware of the different types of media coming into and out of her home and does it uphold the standards that she and her husband have set forth for their family.  She is sensitive to when there is trouble brewing on the horizon.  She is like a watchmen on the wall...a guard. I like to think of it as the role of gatekeeper...nothing comes in or out unless it goes through me first.

Girls, in today's society we have to embrace our role as "keeper" diligently. Our families are too precious a commodity to let life just happen.
The Vow: To Guard the Castle from Harm The Challenge: While you're keeping an eye on the home to see who's coming and going, take time out to pray. Ask God to protect your family from harm and to help you to encourage them in the faith.
Walking with you on the journey,Regina

Thursday, January 24, 2013

True Love....where has it gone? Day 13 of the Ultimate Marriage Vow

Thinking about marriage and companionship today....and what that looks like. I think about marriages where one spouse is very sick and the dedication that is involved, the day to day managing of an illness, the toil that takes on a person.

My parents were married almost 59 years when my Daddy had to go see Jesus. He and my Mom were just teenagers when they married. Daddy was 19 and Momma was 18. Two kids that grew up together. When they took their vows all those years ago, they meant them...and they meant them for life and whatever that entailed. They faced difficulties, crop failure, loss of loved ones, sick kids, all of the day to day issues that the rest of face. They were not super-heros (well, I guess to me they were), but they stood by their word. They had made those vows......

For better or worse, in sickness and in health, till death do us part
and they meant them. There was no going back, they were committed. It was a beautiful love story.

In the end, when Daddy's condition was getting worse. She stood by his side. She got up with him at night and stayed with him until he went back to sleep. She got tired I am sure, she prayed for healing I know. She never gave up on him, she never acted as if it was burden on her to care for him. She was his companion. And, she was with him when he took his last breath. She was devoted to the end.

That to me, is true love....true love does not run in the face of adversity, true love does not give up on you, and even though the body grows weary, true love will keep standing by your side, doing the things for you that cannot do for yourself, picking you up when you need it, helping you stand when you cannot, it is the shoulder you lean on when life gets too much, and it is the hand you reach for when you need to know you are not alone......

Today's Vow: To Walk Through This Life With You
The Challenge: If your husband is sick, troubled or weary be a companion that remains by his side. And if not? If all is going well in your lives? Praise God for the blessings upon you. 

Walking this journey with you,

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Can You HEAR Me Now??

We all want to be heard.

In fact we want to be heard so much that many times while another person is speaking, we are busy formulating our response, our solution, our words of wisdom.

Do you do this with your spouse? Sweetie and I have both had to learn that what we really want from each other is to know the other person is listening....without judgement, without an answer.

When we do that, it shows the other person, that we are present in the moment. They have our attention and we hear them.

Listening, many say, is an art...I would go further to say it is almost a gift. If you rearrange the letters in LISTEN, you get SILENT.

Learn to accept that silence, and really hear the heart of the other person speaking.

The Vow: To Listen in the Best Way I Know How
The Challenge: Practice listening with both ears. Let go of things that are on your mind so that you can  be in the moment.

Walking With You on the Journey,

Sunday, January 20, 2013

I Love You

  "I Love You"

How often do we hear those words, how often do we say those words? When we are teenagers, or even single adults, we will utter those three words to our significant other flavor of the week.....we say them so casually, then many times we want to take them back, say we were mistaken, we didn't mean it.

Why is that? We have a head knowledge of love, but we don't yet have a heart understanding. We have to move that knowledge that we have about love down into our hearts, into our being. Remember, out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks...we cannot forget that. Our words have weight and when we say these words to our spouses, they need to come from the very core of our being. They need to know that we love them, that we are in this for the long haul, that difficulties will not make us run....I read a poem by Elisabeth Elliot (Read about Elisabeth here ) and it really gives insight to Love...

"This love of which I speak is slow to lose patience
- it looks for a way of being constructive.

Love is not possessive.

Love is not anxious to impress
nor does it cherish inflated ideas of its own ideas.

Love has good manners
and does not pursue selfish advantage.

Love is not touchy.

Love does not keep account of evil
or gloat over the wickedness of other people.
On the contrary, it is glad with all good men when truth prevails.

Love knows no limits to its endurance,
no end to its trust, no fading of its hope;
it can outlast anything. It is, in fact,
the one thing that stands when all else has fallen.”
― Elisabeth Elliot, Let Me Be a Woman
 The Vow: To Love you
The Challenge: Find a special way--an out of the ordinary kind of way--to tell your husband you love him. Write him a note? Send him a text? Make him a card? You choose because you know him best.

Walking With You on the Journey,

Friday, January 18, 2013

Lovin' the Weekend Blog Hops

Thanks for stopping by our Lovin' the weekend blog hops! This is a great chance to share giveaways, gain followers and build readership. If you follow me, leave me a message letting me know, and I'll follow back! Regina

Welcome to Lovin' The Weekend Blog Hops with your co-hosts:

Thank you to every one who has stopped by, whether this is your first visit or you have been a faithful ongoing participant! 

We would love for you to stop by each of the co-hosts and follow us, then feel free to add your links to any or all of the following linkies.

 We also randomly choose a Featured host each week from the Lovin' The Readers linky. This week we are featuring Regina from I Wouldn't Trade Nothing For My Journey Now.

Here's what she has to say:
"I started blogging at the end of 2011, but really got into it in January of 2012 after my Dad died. I have always been one to journal my feelings, so a blog seemed like a natural fit for me. One of the reasons I blog is because I feel in my heart that God has given me things to say. I would lay in bed trying to go to sleep and the words would just roll over and over in my mind. I finally started writing them down. I have had people tell me that they were contemplating suicide, or divorce, having a bad day, different things like that, and then they would read something I wrote and it would make a difference in their lives, or in their way of thinking about a situation. That's why I blog, I want to make a difference in people's lives. The majority of my writing is scripture based and hopefully found to be inspirational and encouraging. I want people to know they are not alone, that there is someone else going through similar circumstances. I enjoy blogging, I have made several friends and I have readers that come back day after day. I love when I get comments on something I have written.....that makes me feel good about what I am doing. The title of my blog is "I Wouldn't Trade Nothing for My Journey Now" and that is how I feel, that even though there have been hard times, difficulties, but also awesome days and beautiful frienships, I wouldn't trade anything about my journey....
I am 42y/o, married to Frank and together we have 5 children. Two are grown and the younger three live at home. I am a home school Mom. I love to cook, do crafts, sing, play the piano (I have played since I was 7, I play be ear mainly), and I really love movies!"

Don't forget to link up to the Lovin' the Readers Hop if you would like a chance to be a Featured host next week. Please comment with a way to contact you, especially if there is not an obvious way mentioned on your blog. We would love to include a little write up about you and your blog in the next week's Lovin' The Weekend Blog Hop post, including a link to your blog. And you will get to include the linky codes on your blog. Sound fun? We're looking forward to getting to know our readers better.

Here's how this blog hop works. We would appreciate it if you would follow Tots and Me, Adventures of a Mommy Homemaker and An Ordinary Housewife then please head on over to our Featured Host and follow as well. If you no longer have GFC please follow in some other way. After that there are three different linkies you can link to. Whichever one you choose to link to, please grab that button and share it on your blog (the codes are on Tot's and Me's sidebar). We'd love it if you could tweet or in some other way share about this blog hop, the more people who know about it, the more potential visitors and new followers of your blog. We'd love to meet some new friends this weekend.  

Some people are more interested in just increasing their numbers, while others really want people who appreciate their blog and want to keep up with their posts. So, there are two separate linkies. The third linky is for you to link up your giveaways.

If you are interested in increasing the number of followers to your blog via GFC, Linky Followers, email, Twitter, Facebook or Google+ link up here. We will follow you back if you follow us (just note which one you are linking to):

Tots and Me

If you are interested in gaining followers to your blog who will read and comment and truly find an interest in your blog, link up here:

Tots and Me

If you have family friendly giveaways to link up, here's your spot. Please make sure to include an end date for your giveaway.

Tots and Me

We are so glad you stopped by. Please leave a comment if you link up and we will be sure to stop by and follow back.

Don't forget to check out my "Blog Hops" page for other great weekend blog hops!!

HIS it really THAT Important? Day 8

  Yesterday we talked about how we hold our husbands hearts in our hands. Today we want to go a step further and talk about how we can protect our husbands reputation. Have you ever confided something to someone only to have them use that against you or to make fun of you? It hurts doesn't it.

Have you ever done that same thing to your spouse? Let's look at this verse.....
 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. ~ Ephesians 4:29
I love this verse, because not only does it build up the one we are speaking about, but also ministers grace to whomever hears it. So as I am speaking good things, edifying things, about my husband, grace is being ministered to me as well.....that is awesome!

Let me point out that when we seek Godly counsel because we are looking for ways to heal the relationship is very different than sitting around discussing our husbands faults, ways that he has failed, or how he has caused us pain. It is important when we are facing big trials in our relationship to remember this, but it is also equally important when we looking at those small things that seem to get under our skin at times. We are human, our husbands too, and we make mistakes. Today you may be walking tall, everything going your way, life is good, but tomorrow could be a different story. And should we fall, we will be looking for grace and redemption to pull us back up.   
Today's Vow: To Protect Your Reputation
The Challenge: Whether you're talking to your friends, your family, or your children, protect your husband's reputation by being careful with the words that you choose.

Walking with You on the Journey

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Day 7: Reverence My Husband..does that just mean at Home or all the Time?

  Reverence...what does that word mean to you? Honor, esteem, deep respect for, to treat with regard. The Bible says that wives reverence their husbands (Ephesians 5:33). How do we do that?

Many times I see women who are respectful to their husbands at home, but when they are out at their job, with their friends, or on the internet....the respect that they say they have just does not come through in their actions. It is so easy when we are around a group of women and someone begins talking about her husband, his failures, weaknesses, the other women more often than not seem to jump on the bandwagon and "one up" each other with just how ridiculous their husbands are. Well girls, that is not respect. That is not reverance. Now I will be the first to tell you that it is not easy to be the one that says, enough, but if you don't take a stand then who will? Remember, out of  the heart the mouth speaks.

In our culture today it is promoted through media that the male is dumb, not able to figure things out on his own, that he is weak somehow, that he is a loser...oftentimes our culture has a poor view of males. If we are not careful, we will take those images into our hearts and before you know it we will see our spouses in the same light. We cannot let that happen! We must be intentional about the things we are taking in to our homes through different media outlets. Are the things we are watching and reading upholding the standards we say we have?

What about you and your circle of friends and family? Do you tell things on your life's mate just to get a laugh? Do you point out his flaws to your friends?  Are you only respectful through lip service and that feeling does not really convey what is in your heart? When we speak or have any action, we are doing one of two things, we are either building our relationships up or we are tearing them down.

Men often equate respect with love...women are the opposite, they equate affection and romance with love. But we have to understand that these things work together in a cycle... I can tell you from my own experience that the more I show reverence to my husband, the more it seems that he showers me with love and affection.  The more he showers me with love and affection, the more I show him respect.

But, we cannot just show respect without having it in our hearts first. If you try it any other way, it will fail. Let me also point out to you, the scripture does not say only show reverence when he deserves it, we are to reverence our husbands whether or not we feel it, and whether or not we think they  deserve it.

Girls, we hold our husbands hearts in our we treat them and speak about them in public arenas says a lot about how we truly feel about them. Your husband needs to know that his heart is safe with's something we need to take seriously not just in private settings, but in public as well.

Today's Vow: To speak well of you in front of others
The Challenge: Look after your husband's heart, particularly by looking after his honor in  public settings. 

Walking with you on this journey,

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Out of the Abundance of the Heart....

  We have probably all heard that out of the heart the mouth speaks (Luke 6:45)...It is important that our communications are pure. Many times the heart (soul) is compared to a garden. Now, I am not much of a gardener, but my Mom always was. She loves to grow things, her flowers are beautiful, the vegetable garden was always a success and we ate out of its abundance throughout the fall and winter.

Well, that abundant garden did not just take place overnight. It took work. We had to break up the soil, removing any large rocks or debris that would impede the growth of the plants. This meant that on Saturdays when I would have loved to sleep in, she had other plans....we worked on the garden. But, if we left those objects in the dirt, the roots of the plants that we wanted to grow would not be able to go down deep enough into the soil where the nutrition was found. Then after it was planted we had to keep it watered. We also had to go in there and pull out or till out any weeds. For a teenage girl, this seemed like really hard work at the time. But the benefits of our garden was amazing! Vegetable soup made with the fresh veggies we had raised. Big, red, juicy tomatoes, that just made a burger sing.....

It's the same way with our hearts. When we have weeds in our hearts that are not bringing life to us, we need to get rid of those roots. What kinds of things are there that do not bring life? I am sure we could all name several....bitterness, unforgiveness, hatred, jealousy, pride, anger, self-righteousness...these things do not bring life to us or to any one around us. A pure heart loves others with only the very best of intentions.

In order to have a pure heart, we have to keep our hearts in check. We have to be intentional about the types of things we are taking into our hearts, because once we have "weeds" they have a tendency to get out of control and take over our gardens.
Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. - Proverbs 4:23

Today's Vow: I Will Love You With a Pure Heart
The Challenge: Keep the lines of communication open so that you can talk with your husband about the things that are on your heart. Nip anger in the bud by letting go of it instead of allowing it room to grow.

One of my blogging friends pointed out to me that these characteristics we are trying to bring into our lives not only apply to marriage, but can be carried over to our other relationships as well. I was glad she pointed that out....I like to think that anything we are learning can have multiple facets. When you learn to take things that you have heard and experienced and apply to other situations, that is wisdom...Thanks Gladys for reminding us of that.

 Be Blessed!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

What...Do I Look LIke a Door Mat?? Day 6

 I know that today's post is a sensitive issue for some....but if we are going to have lives that reflect Christ, we have to accept all of His ways and not just a few. I will admit right off, that this topic was difficult for me as well, not so much anymore...but it took a while for me to get there on my journey.

What I am talking about? Wives submitting to their husbands. I can see you cringing already. This is not a popular belief, but it lines up with the Word of God and needs desperately to be brought into the light once again. Before I go further, let me clarify for you that submission is not being walked on by your husband, nor does it mean that it is ok for husbands to abuse their wives in any form. But, when we choose to submit, we are really more like Christ than at any other time.

Let's look at what the Word says.... 
Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it. ~ Ephesians 5:24-25
You see, marriage is actually a picture of Christ and His church. Christ is the head of the church, He gave Himself up to the cross for the sake of the church. He was tortured,  He was rejected, He was spit upon....He went through all of that to redeem mankind back to Himself. So when we say husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church, that is not a light sentence they have been given. A man will sacrifice for his family until it hurts. When we see burning buildings, or tragic scenes, more often than not, we will see the men running in trying to save people. Not that there are not women who have done this, but it is more common to see the man do this act. Men oftentimes show their love by showing sacrifice. My sweetie is not big on lots of words when it comes to showing affection or love, but he will go without things that he needs in order that I have what I need or the children need. No one has to asks him to do it, it just seems to be part of who he is.

But for women, we don't want to talk about submission....remember yesterday, we all have that natural instinct to want to "win!" Someone has to step back and extend grace and many times this falls to the woman. Both of us cannot lead the marriage. My Dad used to say that anything with two heads is a monster. I don't want my relationship to look like that do you?

What does it look like to be submissive to your husband? Let me give you an example. Let's say you and your spouse are having a discussion where you just don't see eye to eye....a submissive wife will state her opinion calmly and respectfully to her husband, but the final decision will rest with him. Now a loving husband will take into consideration the opinion of his wife and look to what is best for the whole family, but the weight of the decision rests with him. 

Submission is a choice we make. We make that choice because of our desire to be obedient to God. I want to be obedient to Him in all that I do, so even when it is hard for me to step back sometimes, I have to remember that the reason I am doing this is because this is what God said is right for wives to do. It may not be what I want, it may feel like I am not the "winner" but I have to see the big picture of things. I have to trust that if I am faithful to God, that He is faithful to me. I have to believe that he works all things together for my good (Roman 8:28).
Do not feel that you are second class....You are not and not every argument is your fault. But there will be times when we communicate in every way possible, and our husbands still don't see things the way that we do.That's when we can honor God by stepping back in humility and letting our husbands take the lead. 

Today's Vow: To honor you as the head of our home
The Challenge: While you honor your husband as the head of your home, seek ways to encourage him in his role as a leader.
Praying for all of us today as we make this step on the journey....

Monday, January 14, 2013

Day 5....Winners and Losers

Make my joy complete by being like-minded,
having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.
Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,
not looking to your own interests but each of you
to the interests of the others.
~ Philippians 2:2-4
 How does this relate to our marriage relationships? That is what we want to look at today and how that relates to our communication in marriage. 

Many times I have heard women talk about "winning" an argument with their spouse. We want to be "right" regardless of the damages that may occur in the process. But, when it comes to marriage, we are both on the same team, so their are no winners or losers. It's one thing to want your opinion to be understood, but, we confuse that with the need to be right at times....those are two different things. 

We have to be willing to extend grace and mercy to each other...remember day 1, we are both flawed people only redeemed by the grace of God. Someone has to take the high road, someone has to drop out of the argument and go to God with it in prayer, in doing so we let go of our anger and our need to be right.

Today's Vow: To Give Up My Need to Be Right
The Challenge: Let your voice be heard, but put down any weapons of warfare. Practice holding your tongue when you're angry and carrying your burdens to prayer.

 Remember, that while we have the best intentions of taking these challenges, we are still very much a work in progress. We make mistakes, but don't let that make you stop trying to take steps to improve your marriage....

Be Blessed!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Our Journey This Week

This week was amazing! Here is what it looked like at our house...

Family Life: On Monday night the BCS game was on and Alabama was playing. Sweetie is from Alabama so of course we were watching. Our oldest son and grandson came over to watch it as well. I made some fun foods... Read my You've Got to Try This post.....Our little grandson is about to turn 4. We had a blast playing with him...Hot Wheels, coloring, games, was a great night.

Homeschool: On Tuesday we started back with schooling. We accomplished so much this week. My middle guy is making great progress in Pre-Algebra. He also had two projects this week, one was to make a poster against the pollution of oceans regarding the Antarctic Fur Seal and debris collars. The other one was find out all that he could about the state of New York for geography class and make a presentation. He did a fantastic job on both. My baby girl continued learning new letters and the sounds they make when placed with vowels, read sentences, learned how to express a question, learned more addition facts, counting by 10s, and handwriting. To review different concepts she has learned, I made a squirrel out of some dark brown cardstock and some acorns out of another shade of brown. If she recognized the letter, sound, blend or word, she then got to hunt for an acorn in the living room and "feed" it to the squirrel. She thought it was a lot of fun.

Food: we made this awesome Gooey Chocolate Skillet cake. It was amazing served with with vanilla bean ice cream and caramel sauce. That night my middle guy cooked spaghetti for dinner for the family and I prepared fried cabbage with bacon and was a feast!

 this taste as good as it looks

 this one could have been meal in itself!

Marriage: Right now we are taking the 21 day Ultimate Marriage Challenge...See Day One Here. We just finished Day 4 (Day 2, Day 3, Day 4). See the links if you want to follow along, it will really make a difference in your relationship!

 What I am Working on Now: Back in the fall I found this bulletin board about the size of a small blanket throw, at the thrift store. I bought it for $10 with the intention of turning it into a flannel board for school. I finally found a flannel blanket just the right size yesterday at the same thrift store for $2, which I bought. I got a can of spray adhesive, and covered the board last night. I also stopped at the Hob Lob where they have felt squares for 4/$1...I purchased lots of colors. So, my plan is to cut the numbers, letters, math signs, and objects out of the felt so that during lessons, baby girl can have hands on activities to concrete what is being taught. I need some of them by tomorrow but I am in the middle of a fibro flare, and not able to really cut things out right now. My hope is that I will get it done before bed....I will keep you posted!

Looking forward to next week, when we continue on with the Ultimate Marriage Vow, I hopefully find new recipes to treat my family too, and we continue on the journey in home education...

I hope you have a great Sunday afternoon!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Day 4.....The Most Important Thing You Can Do for Your Marriage Today

It's important that we realize that a very important part of our relationship with our spouses, is that we first have a relationship with God and that we are spending time with Him.

We have to realize that another person whether it is friend or spouse, is not going to bring us happiness. We first have to realize that happiness within ourselves, then that can spring outward and into our relationship.

Everyone gets nervous when we talk about spending time with God....let me put your anxieties to rest and tell you that you do not have spend hours on end reading's not about the amount that you are reading each day, or how long you prayed each day....but that you took some sort of time and talked to God, invited Him into your relationship, found a scripture or passage of scripture that speaks to you and where you are at today.

When sweetie and I first got married, we faced lots of obstacles....high risk pregnancy that was said to end in death for me and the baby, business failure, newly blended family, and the day to day business of living. When we faced these tasks, we tried to do it on our own, in our own strength, with our own intelligence. Can I just tell you that some days it was like a war zone in our home? There were days where we really did make steps to end the marriage. Insults were thrown around, things were done out of emotion, those were really dark days...I honestly did not believe we would survive or that the marriage would last. This went on for about 2 years.....then I met a couple who became like lifelines to us. With their help and guidance we were able to see that we had left God totally out of our lives. At that point, even though I had been raised in church, in a family that was full of faith, I felt like I did not even know how to get back on track with God. Now, they did not quote scripture to us everyday, they didn't make me feel like I had to pray for hours on end, they just steadily breathed life and friendship back into us. After several weeks, they started talking about how we needed God to come in the relationship and re-establish our hearts to make us more like Him.

It was a long process, it did not happen over night. We had setbacks along the way....when I look back at that time in our lives it feels like I am looking at two different people, strangers almost, compared to how we are now. We did come back to Christ. We did re-establish our priorities and our lives to line up with the Word. It was difficult, there were things in our hearts that were hard to give up. There were hurts and wounds that felt like they would never go away. But you know what, the closer I got to God, the better it felt my relationship with sweetie became. When I realized that my happiness did not depend on him, but instead depended on my relationship with God, it changed my entire outlook about marriage.

We had to learn to be intentional about finding time for God. That meant that maybe I needed to look at my schedule and see where my real time wasters see we do have time for God, but sometimes we choose not to use tidbits of time that we have to spend with Him. It was cold hard truth to realize that my time was being wasted on lots of things that I thought important. Bu,t there is nothing more important for my marriage than for me to be in the presence of God, receiving strength for the day, joy for the journey, and peace that He has all things in His control.

I am glad that I can tell you that today, we have a happy marriage. We still face life's challenges, just like all of you, but our relationship is solid because of our relationship with the King. He makes our foundation strong, He helps us to walk out our Biblical roles that He designed for us. His spirit saturates the relationship. His presence bring peace instead of turmoil, comfort in times of sorrow, eyes to see my sweetie through the eyes of Christ, a heart that instead of wanting to lash out at my life's companion wants to pray for him and wants to see my shortcomings revealed that are maybe contributing to the issue at the moment.

Your relationship with God is one of the absolute best things you can do for your will make you journey here so much sweeter...

Today's Vow: To Seek the Will of the Lord
The Challenge: Consider ways to invite Jesus into your marriage and make a conscious effort to pray for your husband often.


Friday, January 11, 2013

Day 3...Priorities

 Here we are at day 3, so far so good right? Have you noticed your thoughts about your marriage changing any yet? Are you more aware of how you think about and you respond to your spouse? I do see and notice changes in my day to day thoughts and hopefully  you do too. I have lost some readers along the way by writing about the Ultimate Marriage Vow, while I hate to see them go, I feel that marriage is an important institution and anything that we can do to help each other improve or enhance our marriage relationships is important to share.

Do you know what is important to your spouse? Do you think that they share the same priorities as you do? Hopefully in raising a family, finances, spiritual life, you do share common goals and priorities. But, what about those little things in life, that maybe set your spouse on edge and you just don't understand why? Things like leaving the toilet seat up, not placing socks in the laundry hamper, leaving the bathroom light on all night? Those things don't seem like much, but oftentimes it's those little things that wear down a relationship.

I will tell a big one for me.....laundry. Can I just say that I absolutely hate doing laundry??? It is the bane of my existence! I am not the laundry queen....never have been. I would rather do anything, than fold and put up clothes. I will wash every dish in the kitchen by hand if it meant I never had to do laundry again....are you gaining an understanding of my dislike for laundry?

   Now that is not to say that my family is walking around with dirty underwear, they are not....I do the laundry, but sometimes I put it off, saying  that it be there tomorrow for me. And, when you have five people in the house, that seem to change clothes like there is no tomorrow, trust me it will be waiting on me when I get up. Throw into the mix that our dryer died......can at least get an "awww?"

 But the laundry is a higher priority to my sweetie....he does not share my philosophy of "it will be there for me tomorrow." On occasion he has gotten up to go to work and his shirt is not him it is the very end of his me, not so much, when you can press it quickly and he can be on his way...

But how many disagreements and long sighs could we avoid if I would just take the time to press it for him ahead of time? You see, when I don't have his shirt ironed, he feels like I don't think that he is important. Over time, those feelings build up, then what do you have? The volcano will erupt. Is that what I want for my relationship, a cycle of tension building up over a shirt when I could simply avoid and put to rest the whole thing through a few minutes spent when the shirts first came out of the dryer?

Look not every man on his own things,
but every man also on the things of others.
~ Philippians 2:4
What would happen to our relationships if we really practiced this verse? It may not be the laundry for you, it may something else. I read a story about a family with 8 kids. All 8 kids were able to make their own peanut butter sandwhiches. However, in the process, the peanut butter jar would become gooey. Then when the husband wanted to make a sandwhich the jar would send him over the top....and the wife felt like he should understand that they have these children and thats just the way it had to be. Then she realized that the thing she thought important, the living room, was always kept clean and neat. There were no toys in there, there was no eating in there, it was kept pristine. It occurred to her, that she could keep this room immculate, but not have the time to wipe down the peanut butter she has the cleanist peanut butter container in town and much less stress in her relationship. She began to value her husband's priorities above her own.

And that is what I have done about the was just a habit that I had to get into of tending to the clothes when it was needed and not waiting. I determined in my heart that if it was important to sweetie, it was important to me. And, along the way he bought me a new dryer to make my life easier.....

Today's Vow: To consider your priorities as I would my own.The Challenge: Place those things that are the most important to him at the top of your list. 

We do this all the time with our friends and co-workers, but today let's do this for our spouse. I can't wait to hear your results!

Another day on the journey

Thursday, January 10, 2013

On to Day 2 of the Ultimate Marriage Vow

 So how are you doing with the marriage challenge? I found day one to be easy for me, after all carving out time for a moment of friendship with my spouse is something I want to do's challenge though is maybe not so easy for some, and maybe for others you will breeze right through.

As we go through this 21 day marriage challenge, I am including pictures of me and my sweetie and our journey together, hope you enjoy them! Today's pic is from Easter 2009 at my parents house....

Today we are talking about our thought know the more we dwell on a situation or problem the bigger the issue seems to be, and it becomes a cycle and a place that our mind automatically goes when we place it in the idle position. As Christians, first of all, we cannot afford to just let our minds idle along, we need to be intentional about out thought life. What does the Word say about our thoughts?

Philippians 4:8

King James Version (KJV)
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
So today when you think about your spouse, what are thinking of them? Do you only see their flaws or areas where improvement is needed? Or do you see a man that works hard for his family, that gives unsacrificially? Does his nagging habit of leaving his drink cup by the bed every night send you over the top? or do you see a man that even after working all day made some time for his children? It all depends on how you view it. 

Sometimes we get so caught up in the day to day routine of raising a family and making a living that we don't notice the beauty that is all around us. The things that God created, and yes that means your spouse, are beautiful. Your sweet one was fearfully and wonderfully made by God, created uniquely to be your companion for life. Sometimes we forget that, we don't notice the beauty that is evident in their smile, their laugh, their tenderness, their compassion, their understanding. My cousin shared a story the other day that he had read....

"A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold January morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that 1,100 people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

Three minutes went by, and a middle aged man noticed there was musician playing. He slowed his pace, and stopped for a few seconds, and then hurried up to meet his schedule.

A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping, and continued to walk.

A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.

The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried, but the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally, the mother pushed hard, and the child continued to walk, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.

In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money, but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the most talented musicians in the world. He had just played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, on a violin worth $3.5 million dollars.

Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100.

This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste, and priorities of people. The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour: Do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context?

One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be:

If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?"
What areas of great beauty are we missing out on in our spouses?

I believe that the majority of us don't get out of bed with the intent to infuriate our spouse. I believe that for most of us, our intentions are good, we want to love like Christ, we want to see people (including our spouse), as God sees them. But sometimes, we fall into the trap of only focusing on flaws and bad habits, forgettting that we too have areas for improvement, weaknesses and shortcomings and that it is only the grace and mercy of God that keeps us from falling victim to those weaknesses. 

Today's Vow: To accept your flaws with understanding and grace as you also do mine.
Today's Challenge:
Keep negative thoughts in check by reminding yourself that we're all human saved only by the grace of God.

This is a big step on our journey but let's take it together,

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A New Marriage Challenge....

Today I started a new marriage challenge entitled, "The Ultimate Marriage Vow" far it is easy, but I am only at Day 1....
Today's challenge was to carve out time in our day to enjoy moments of friendship. Now I don't know about you guys, but somewhere between jobs, being a Mommy, and other obligations of life, the friendship aspect of our relationship has gone into hiding. Not that we are not friends, we know that we are, we feel we stand by each other, supportive of each other, but the things we did at the beginning of the relationship has gotten lost along the way.

It's funny that once we get married we look for friendships and cultivate relationships with everyone but our spouses. God has given us this awesome gift of marriage that includes with it a constant companion, but yet we will say we are lonely, we wish we had someone to talk to....well that person is living right under your roof! You know how it was before you had children and life got busy? You would listen to each other, finding out about each other, really hearing that other person as they talked about their day, their dreams, their goals.....then somehow that got pushed to the back burner.

I am not telling you that you have to carve out long hours of your time for a preverbial "date", but it does take making time for each other, what ever that may look like in your life right now. I know that my sweetie has said that sometimes he just likes for me to sit beside him while he watches a sports event or movie. For me, I love for him to come into the kitchen while I am finishing up dinner and tell me about his day and let me share mine with him. Many times I will run the kids to their rooms, just so we can have some undistracted time together. Your time spent with your spouse does not have to look like anyone else's...thats what is so great about marriage, mine don't have to measure up to yours or vice versa, as long as it is meeting the needs of the two people in the marriage, that is all that matters.

I remember when I was living at home, my Dad would come in at the end of the day, my Mom would have me turn off the TV and as we sat eating dinner, she would listen to my Dad talk about his day....more often than not there was laughter, and she was his cheerleader too when there would be difficult situations she would always tell him that this would pass, that it would be alright. He did the same for her...she would talk and he would listen. There was no special date night to discuss their lives, it was just life being lived together, sharing together...being each other's friend.

How about you? Are you up for a challenge for 21 days? Here is todays vow: My husband, my treasure, from this day forward I take thee to be my constant friend and companion. And here is the day one challenge: Carve out time in your day to enjoy moments of friendship.

Let's take this step on our journey toward  making the ultimate marriage vow

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

You Have Got to Try These!

I have been trying out some new and some old favorite recipes that I haven't made in a while and all I can say is, my family is loving it! Monday night was the BCS game, my sweetie is from Birmingham, AL, so you know we were watching this game! Here is what I fixed for my contribution to the big night... 
  • Taco Soup...this is got from a fellow blogger at Our Best Bites. This soup is so easy to make, does not require a lot of ingredients, but is very hearty at the same time. Not only is this a great game day soup, but it would make a great choice for dinner on a cold winter night....
 to make this...just brown a couple of pounds of ground beef with some onion and garlic. When meat is almost finished cooking add 1/4 cup of taco seasoning and 1 cup of water, stir that into the meat. Then add an additional 2 cups of water, 28 oz. of diced tomatoes, 15 oz tomato sauce, 1 can corn, drained, 2 cans of kidney beans, rinsed and drained. Bring that to a medium boil, then cover and simmer for about 15 minutes. Serve with toppings of your choice such as guacamole, pico de gallo, cheese, sour cream, and tortilla chips
  •  I also made this awesome Hot Wing Dip...this looks like you really did a lot of prep time for the dip, but it is the simplest thing to make. I got this recipe from White Lights on Wednesday
    • Ingredients  3 - 10oz cans chicken breast
      5oz Frank's Hot Sauce
      10oz bleu cheese dressing
      10oz cream cheese
      1 cup shredded jack cheese
    • Directions Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt together cream cheese and bleu cheese.  Stir occasionally until smooth.Drain chicken and place in a large bowl.  Use a fork to shred the chicken some.  Mix in hot sauce and stir to combine.Spread out chicken in the bottom of an 11" x 9" baking dish.  Top chicken with cream cheese mixture and spread evenly.  Sprinkle shredded jack cheese over top of dip.  Bake for 35-45 minutes, until top is golden and bubbly.
  • My last dish for the night was Spinach Artichoke was quickly a crowd favorite. This one I borrowed from Gimme Some Oven.... and she has lots more fun recipes to try.

  • 1 (10 oz.) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1 (13.75 oz.) can quartered artichoke hearts, chopped and drained
  • 1 cup light sour cream
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 oz. low-fat cream cheese, room temperature
  • 4 oz. (about 1 cup) shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • 2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup finely-chopped onions
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Stir all ingredients together in a bowl until blended. Transfer to an oven-proof dish, and bake for 20-25 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Serve immediately with pita, chips, chopped veggies, or whatever sounds good to you!

But that is not all, tonight I felt I really outdid myself. I made baked salmon on a bed of spinach with onion and tomatoes all in individual foil packets. For a side dish I made roasted potatoes with garlic and was amazing! You have to try this...I have a daughter that hates fish, but tonight she ate her serving and said she would definitely eat this again. Here's how ya' do it...

lay out a sheet of aluminum foil, in the center of it put a handful of spinach leaves, on top of that place a salmon filet, now add salt and pepper to taste, on top of that place a few red onion quarters, a few little snacking tomatoes ( I used the yellow ones), drizzle olive oil and lemon juice on it, seal that packet by folding up the sides and top. Do this for each one, then bake at 400 degrees, for about 20 minutes. You can eat these right out of the  packet on your plate or you can take them out of the packets and place on your plate. If you remove them from the packet be careful as there will be juices in the bottom of each one, you will want to spoon the juices over the meat if you remove the salmon from the foil packets.

For the roasted potatoes....cut 6-8 potatoes in half lengthwise, then cut each half into 4 wedges, place in a bowl, sprinkle with salt and black pepper, melt 1/3 cup butter in a bowl and mix it with some olive oil, in that same bowl add some ground dill and paprika, pour over potatoes, add 2 tsps of minced garlic, mix that all in with the potatoes, then place potatoes on a jelly roll pan and bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes. Turn potatoes and sprinkle with parmesean cheese, return to oven and bake another 20 ,minutes or until potatoes are tender.....


Sunday, January 6, 2013

Some Cool Things I Saw This Week

This week I saw a few things I thought some of you might be interested in...

1. Bringing Home the Browns...this is a community on Facebook. The wife was 34 weeks pregnant and had a brain aneurysm. She slipped into a coma and they had to take the baby by C-section. Her husband was deployed to Afghanistan at the time. He was flown home, finally brought his baby home and now is waiting on his wife to wake up....he writes the Facebook page from the perspective of the can follow their journey and join in praying for this family at Bringing Home the Browns....their story is so moving I knew all of my readers would want to offer their well wishes and prayer support.

2. I know it is early but I saw the cutest thing to make for Valentine's Day on Pinterest....owl candy holders.Are these not the cutest thing?? You use stuff you already have at home...then fill with candy and seal the ends. I am thinking of making these with my little one this year.

3. I have finally watched the 007 movies. I had never, believe it or not, watched any James Bond films! I never thought I would like them. Then my cable company had the collection of films on the On Demand feature. My daughter suggested we watch Quantum of Solace, which we did and I was hooked! Then it made me want to watch them all....I am finishing them up tonight. I will admit that some of the scenes are cheesy at times, especially in the early films, but for the most part the story is intriguing and the good guy always wins in the end.

4. I read this poem by Darlene captures my sentiments I have about my children...
5. Here are a couple of funnies I read and hope they give you a chuckle like they did me....

 and to finish it out here is a little funny story I read....

A DEA officer stops at a ranch in Texas and talks with an old rancher. He tells the rancher, "I need to inspect your ranch for illegally grown drugs." The rancher says, "Okay, but do not go in that field over there," as he points out the location.

The DEA officer verbally explodes saying, "Mister, I have the authority of the Federal Government with me." Reaching into his rear pants pocket, he removes his badge and proudly displays it to the rancher. "See this badge? This badge means I am allowed to go wherever I wish.... On any land. No questions asked or answers given. Have I made myself clear? Do you understand? "

The rancher nods politely, apologizes, and goes about his chores.

A short time later, the old rancher hears loud screams and sees the DEA officer running for his life chased by the rancher's big Santa Gertrudis bull......

With every step the bull is gaining ground on the officer, and it seems likely that he'll get gored before he reaches safety. The officer is clearly terrified.

The rancher throws down his tools, runs to the fence and yells at the top of his lungs.....

"Your badge. Show him your BADGE! "
I hope you have a great week ahead!

Friday, January 4, 2013

In My Weakness, He is Made Strong

Obstacles......most people don't welcome them, but, often they show us the areas where we need growth. We think we have "arrived" really changed, but when faced with a difficult situation, we really see where change has and has not occurred.

A common weakness among women is acting and reacting out of our emotions. We give it all kinds of excuses to justify it, but really it comes down to not listening to what God wants and forging ahead with our own self will. Allowing God to have control in my life over my emotions is something that I have been working on for a while....just because you feel it, you do not have to say it sort of a thing. About the time I think that I have been molded and shaped more into the image of God, something bigger, more difficult comes along and I am once again reminded of how far I have to go in this area.

I had such a situation arise over the holidays. Now we already know that the holidays in and of themselves are emotionally charged. Add all the other things going on in my life, plus this was the first "biggie" holiday without my Daddy and you have a recipe for disaster. It's a word, a look, a tone.....on that night, all my wisdom that I thought I had gained, flew right out the proverbial window. My feelings were hurt, so I attempted to express that feelings were met with anger and harshness from the other person.

I realized I was not angry at the other person, I was simply hurt. I prayed about it and was able to find forgiveness in my heart for them. But something continued to nag at me about it...........then I realized that I was more angry at myself than anything. Angry that I had allowed my emotions to rule, and not God's voice, angry that I had fallen prey to a trick of the enemy, angry that I had still not conquered this weakness.

Then I knew it was myself that I needed to forgive. I had to recognize my failures, my short-comings and know that in my weakness, He is made strong. Once again I surrendered my heart to Him, acknowledged weakness, and asked Him to continue to shape me, to mold me into His likeness. Then I knew that if I had not met with this fiasco, I would not have been aware of the growth that was needed in my own life.

I do believe I am gaining victory over my emotions, I am determined to not be ruled by my feelings but to hear God first before I act. I am an over-comer. My future is not hopeless, I am not a lost cause. Sometimes the situations are painful that shed light on our areas that need's just another step on the journey friends, I'm going to keep moving forward forgetting those things which are behind and pressing forward to what lies ahead Phil 3:13