Friday, September 23, 2011

How To Have The Most Fabulous, Fantastic, Fiery, Fun Marriage, Ever: Part 4

If you're just reading for the first time, the introduction to this series is here and part 1 on spiritual intimacy is here, and part 2 on emotional and physical intimacy is here and part 3 on dos and don'ts for spouses is here

While pithy and poignent quotes about love and marriage are certainly not in short supply, there are two that I've read recently that really stand out to me. Sadly, I don't even know who originally said them but they are both true all the same:

"If you're too busy with other things to make sure your spouse knows and feels just how much you love them, you're too busy with petty things that don't matter." 

"The best gift a man can give to his children is to love his wife" 

That first one is cuts right to the point and may even put someone on the defensive right away but the truth of it is, there is almost nothing in the world more important than a healthy, happy marriage relationship. If sports, hobbies, work, or anything else is taking your time away from your husband or wife to the point they feel neglected and unimportant, your priorities are simply in the wrong place. Sadly, one of the common complaints from women who are struggling through a difficult marriage relationship is that her husband leaves her feeling invisible. That feeling leads to many others if not remedied, such as despair, insecurity, resentment, bitterness and anger.  Likewise for husbands, a common complaint is that she makes him feel inadequate which leads to a big change in his attitude toward her that may include feelings of spite, indifference, and even insults leveled at her.  In many cases the spouse causing the hurt feelings of the other isn't doing it on purpose, they've just adapted to a busy life and this is the result. This is something that should never, ever happen. Allow me to say that again, this is something that should never, ever happen.

If you're in a marriage where your spouse has ever voiced this concern to you and you've not done anything about it, make today the day you DO do something about it. After all, you love each other very much, and no matter how mundane or routine or stressed your relationship has become, each of you genuinely does have the power to turn things around.  As my own husband would say when it comes to this, "just do it". He's not one to mince his words.

The second quote up above is timeless and will come back to bless your entire family over and over again. Little girls grow up with their loving daddy expressing his affections to her mommy and it becomes the pattern they come to expect in an honorable, wonderful man when they're of an age to begin thinking about it. Likewise for little boys, when they have this kind of a dad as their example it becomes the pattern they want to emulate when they get older and begin thinking about how to treat a lady, and eventually a wife. Husbands, if you want your children to have high standards for their future spouses, do all you can to show them what a good and loving man looks like. Wives, this same principle applies to you as well, make no mistake. In your words and deeds model as best as you are able, the kind of wife you want your daughters to be and the kind of wife you want for your son.

Now, at the beginning of this series I said that I was not basing any of it on personal, subjective experience and that is true. None of what I have shared with you has been advice from me, personally, but advice I've read from professionals. Now you may be wondering just how valid any of this advice is, so this is the part where I will share a bit of personal, subjective experience. Keeping in mind every marriage relationship is as different as there are pesonalities. In other words, the advice DOES work wonders, but your results will vary.

Mine and my husband's relationship is one that most people would call very, very good. Before we ever had romantic thoughts about the other we were friends for nearly a year. Good friends, and fast friends, we quickly discovered we were very much alike and could quite literally talk about almost anything and we did. We both agree that this was a fantastic foundation to begin with and it's kept us close all these years. However, like just about every other married couple we began to get so busy with kids, family, work, etc., that our marriage began to suffer in certain areas that we never thought it would. The tricky part of this is that it's so subtle, so gradual that by the time it occurs to you that you've arrived "there" you're both already quite set in your own routines and it's very hard to stop and change things up.

It wasn't that long ago that we both had to admit we were in fact there, that our marriage was in a place we didn't want it, and we were both determind to get away from that and work hard at a better marriage. I began to read just about anything I could get my hands on and discuss what I'd found with him and see how it fit (or didn't - and not all advice applies in all cases, to be sure) our own personal circumstances. I found a lot of advice and a lot of checklists and a lot of "quizes" for husbands and wives to take in an effort to break the ice, break the patterns that got you "there" in the first place, and we began to incorporate much of the advice I've written about in this series. In short, the result was absolutely incredible.

So much so, that now we look forward to our time together more than we have in years. We weren't really able to change our routines that much but we did make some changes and now things have changed so much between us, it's almost like a brand new relationship built over a pretty wonderful one to begin with. Not long ago I tweeted that I wasn't sure it was possible to fall in love with your spouse again after so many years of marriage, but if it was possible, that it happened to me. I was assured by the comments I received that yes, it is certainly possible. Now, Kevin and I have that kind of marriage that you hear about, but privately wonder if it's real or exagerrated. I can assure you, those marriages do exist and they're very real.

I cannot stress to you enough, if you and your spouse have found your marriage in the ruts, in a routine, and lacking or suffering in some way as a result, applying some of the advice you've read in this series (whatever might apply, or whatever might apply but you can change up a little bit to fit your circumstances) will make an incredible difference and you'll both be the happier for it.

I'd love to hear from you if you have any thoughts on this so please feel welcome to leave a comment.  I hope in some way this has blessed someone, or more than just one someone.

Graphic design by Carla Rolfe

Thursday, September 22, 2011

How To Have The Most Fabulous, Fantastic, Fiery, Fun Marriage, Ever: Part 3

If you're just joining this series, If you're just reading for the first time, the introduction to this series is here and part 1 on spiritual intimacy is here, and part 2 on emotional and physical intimacy is here.

Honey-Dos and Honey-Don'ts

We'd all like to believe that a fabulous marriage relationship just happens, and we don't even have to think about it. Well, we'd like that but it's not even close to reality. The truth is, marriage relationships can be quite complicated sometimes and if both parties are not willing to do what it takes to work through the rough spots they'll only get worse. You and your spouse might find yourself aptly described struggling with one of the categories of intimacy I've mentioned in the earlier posts in this series, or you might be facing quite different trials. Either way, life brings hard times and as a couple, as a team, you and your spouse need to band together and determine to work through those times if you want that awesomely wonderful relationship.

Toward that end, here is a list of things that will help. While this isn't an exhuastive list of suggestions, and while I will focus more on the DO list than the don't list, it's the most commonly forgotten list based on all I've read from professionals that counsel couples who's marriage has fallen onto hard times. Due to the fact that men and women think differently and respond differently, I'm going to point out what may seem obvious to some, but in reality isn't always that obvious. Sometimes it's not even obvious to the husband or the wife. For both men and women, learning and understanding that your spouse does think differently than you do and learning how to go that little extra step to make sure they know how loved and appreciated they are goes a very long way toward intimacy in all three areas, spiritual, emotional and physical.

I know someone who often says "don't tell me, show me".  While words carry a lot of weight, actions often speak volumes themselves.  Just by incorporating a few little things and by making simple gestures you're expressing your love and appreciation for your spouse in more than just words and it makes a world of difference.

FOR BOTH SPOUSES

Do pay compliments often - Don't use insulting or demeaning titles even in jest ("ball and chain", etc.). Both husbands and wives like to hear nice things from the other so when he's done a great job mowing the lawn and your yard looks quite lovely, make sure you tell him you think so. If she comes in the room in a pretty new dress, tell her how beautiful she is in the dress. On the flip side, don't ever call your husband or wife by a demeaning name even if it's in jest. Doing that actually brings an air of negativity (and insult, and disrespect) into your relationship even if it's not intended. Instead, use fun little pet names that makes the other one smile.

Do tuck love notes in his/her purse or wallet - don't let a day go by without an "I love you". This is one of those things that might seem like a given, but it's a little habit that often gets forgotten. Instead of physical notes, you could send him a text or send her an email with a short note telling the other how much you love them, thanking them for the good time you had on your date night, or telling them how much you love the new book, flowers, or that favorite meal last night.

FOR THE HUSBAND

Do bring her (from time to time) little tokens that say "I know you'll like this". It could be flowers, it could be some kind of collectable she loves, or chocolates, or it could be a new book from her favorite author. Whatever it is, doing this shows her that you're thinking of her and it means a lot to her.

Do tell her she's pretty, and often. Women especially in our modern culture feel the pressure to be fabulous and beautiful all the time and quite often don't feel like they measure up. The media projects an impossible image of the standard of beauty for women and even though it's an unrealistic image the message is still coming across for women. Make sure she knows you think she's beautiful just the way she is.

Do reach for her hand to hold it while you're walking together. A simple gesture of physical touch like this simply says "I love you".  It's a small thing that yields a pretty powerful result.  Likewise, if you're sitting on the couch together watching tv, put your arm around her.  Or surprise her with a big hug when she's walking through the room. She needs to know you enjoy that physical closeness and showing her this way is an effective way for that message to be sent.

FOR THE WIFE

Do tell him how much you appreciate him, and often. Men have an inner drive to provide and care for their wives and families and it reassures them when they hear from you that they're doing a good job of it. While men are more analytical thinkers and women are generally more emotional thinkers, men still do need to hear from their wives that they're doing a good job of being a provider and this support he gets from you goes a long way towards his peace of mind.

Do wear his favorite perfume. This seems like another simple thing but it's a very powerful one that sends a message to him that says "I know you love the way this smells, and I'm wearing it just for you".  He will notice you're wearing it and it will being him pleasure even if he doesn't say anything. Husband, make sure you tell her she smells wonderful, you know you notice it, and she can't read your mind. As much as it pleases you that she's wearing it, it pleases her to hear you say you notice it. (And ladies, "wear his favorite" can be applied in other areas as well, such as during your private spouse time together. Remembering that men are very visual creatures allows you to be a little more mindful of how to bring a smile to his face). 

Do surprise him with his favorite thing from time to time. Does he love barbequed ribs? A sports magazine? Whatever it is, just as he brings you little tokens that say "I know you'll like this" do the same for him. It's another simple thing but it tells him you're thinking of him as well, and he will definitely appreciate it.

One of the most exciting things about a great marriage is the opportunity you both have to wow the other, and show them how much you love them and appreciate them.  In most marriages that wowing has taken a back seat to work, home repairs, kid's routines, and great number of other important but distracting things.  When you begin to bring that wow factor back, it's a wonderful way to bring a spark of passion back into your relationship that you'll both notice, both really enjoy, and have quite likely missed over the years.

In tomorrow's conclusion of this series I'll be sharing some favorite quotes about marriage relationships, a little bit of personal experience in applying some of this advice that you've read about in the series and how it's changed my own marriage, and the long lasting benefits for the whole family when your marriage is something you work hard at.  My husband and I were discussing this series yesterday and agreed that our hope was that both husbands and wives might be reading these posts together and being honest with themselves (and each other) in areas where their own relationship might be in need of a little help.  Our hope is that by taking in this information and applying the suggestions where needed, that other marriages might be wonderfully blessed and rejuvinated.

I welcome your thoughts and ideas if you'd like to leave a comment!




Graphic design by Carla Rolfe

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

How To Have The Most Fabulous, Fantastic, Fiery, Fun Marriage, Ever: Part 2

Continuation of the series, today I want to focus on the most commonly given advice by professionals in regards to both emotional and physical intimacy for married couples. I do not pretend to be an expert at all, I'm merely passing along some really great advice so that your marriage might also be super fantastic! It may be that your own marriage is great in most areas but in need of a little help in one or more of the others mentioned here. It may be that you're in need of more in-depth support and counsel and if that is the case I cannot recommend more strongly, that you get whatever help and support you need right away to turn your marriage around. 

If you're just reading for the first time, the introduction to this series is here and part 1 on spiritual intimacy is here

For many married couples the passion and the tingly excitement of being snuggly close to their spouse tends to fade away after a time. This is quite normal and happens in almost every marriage. Between work, kids, pregnancies, school-related schedules, the home, outside commitments such as church ministry, sports, hobbies or community involvement and wide variety of other factors, many married couples tend to fall into a routine that leaves very little snuggly time for each other. Time together often means discussing bills, kids, home repairs, or other important things that do need to be discussed, but once those things are addressed both spouses tend to go their seperate ways and back to their routines. It's nothing that either spouse plans, it just becomes a habit if you're not mindful of it, and after a while you'll actually begin to grow apart instead of growing closer. This is dangerous ground friends, and this is where potential temptations, bitterness, resentment, despair, lonliness and more may come along into your relationship and you may find your marriage in a great deal of distress so please take this to heart.

There are numerous articles online and many books out there that address this very subject and truth be told they all pretty much say the same thing. Many of these are written by doctors, therapists, counsellers and pastors who have had years and years of first hand experience helping married couples find their way back to a genuinely fabulous marriage when something, somewhere went wrong. All these books and articles say generally the same thing because there really is "recipe" for a fabulous marriage if both husband and wife are willing and desire it. I wont list all the suggestions but I will mention many of them. If they seem obvious, please remember that no matter how obvious they seem, most of these are things married couples tend not to do, after their routines begin pulling them apart. These are helpful things to begin drawing you back together, where you should be.  

Spouse Time Take 15 minutes (or more) each and every day to sit together and talk. Turn off the tv, stereo, radio, laptop, cell phone or anything else that can distract you and sit together on the couch or go for a walk together. This is not errand time or walk the dog time or take out the trash time, this is 15 minutes of Spouse Time. Ask how his day was or what her plans are that day and really listen to what the other says without interupting them to unload about your day, before it's your turn. Both husbands and wives need to know the other actually hears them, supports them and cares about what troubles them or what made them smile that day. It may seem like a very simple thing but what this does is re-builds that critical, wonderful, emotional intimacy with each other that may have fallen by the wayside. Once you begin doing this you'll both look forward to that time each day when you know you'll have each other's undivided attention to share whatever it is you want to share about your day. Depending on your routines it may be best to do this in the morning or in the evening after work. Pick whatever time works best for your personal situation and dedicate yourselves to a minimum of 15 minutes of Spouse Time each day.

Face Time  As silly or trivial as this might sound at first, you and your spouse dedicate yourselves to a minimum of 15 seconds each and every day of tender, passionate kisses without the expectation of anything else.  It may sound silly to those couples who already do this but for many couples that kind of closeness was discontinued a long time ago.  Like many other areas of marriage this kind of tender closeness just gets lost in the shuffle of life and ends up being replaced by a quick smooch on the way out the door.  He misses it, she misses it but life is busy, the kids have soccer practice, he's exahusted from a hard day, she's running behind for this appointment or that and on and on it goes.  Many married couples work really great together as a team to juggle the household but they often forget to spend that close face time with each other.  It brings back a daily dose of a very special emotional and physical closeness that may be in a need of a great big refreshment.  Make sure it's no less than 15 seconds when you begin, and even if one of you is giggling through it while the other is mentally counting away the seconds, you'll find before long no one's counting, no one's giggling and you're both looking forward to it every day.

Date Night Do you remember that excitement and anticipation you used to feel when you were first dating your spouse? Looking forward to seeing him or her that day or night, and the plans you had for dinner or a movie or an afternoon at the lake? If you and your spouse are like most couples, that's a fond and treasured memory tucked away safely someplace behind kids, work, car repairs, the dog pee on the carpet, errands, appointments and about a hundred other things. In all the reading I've done on this subject, Date Night is one of the most common perscriptions professionals hand out for rekindling that emotional intimacy in your marriage. It doesn't have to be elaborate or expensive but you should agree together on a night that works for both your schedules each week and make that night YOUR night for your date. As much as you are able, never let anything interfere with that and start making it a regular thing.

Private Time Private time is exactly what you might suspect it is and it's a most serious, private, critical element of a wonderful marriage. While physical intimacy with your spouse does not guarantee a fantastic marriage all by itself, if there is any kind of dysfunction in this area it almost certainly can be a destructive force in your relationship. Scripture is clear that when a man and woman join in marriage the two become one flesh and that is exactly what it means. A bond is formed in marriage of spiritual, emotional and physical closeness that should only grow deeper and stronger with time. Whatever you do, never let anything disrupt your physical intimacy time together and make sure it's a regular thing. It's very easy to let work schedules or other factors come between you and your spouse's time of physical closeness but it's a very dangerous habit to get into. Without this, relationships begin to take on the baggage with both spouses of lonliness, insecurity, doubts, bitterness, resentment, indifference and in no time at all it begins to eat away like an acid on the emotional and spiritual intimacy as well. Whatever you do, guard this area of your marriage closely. If your marriage is already on shaky ground in this area, experts and professionals suggest you begin scheduling times of physical intimacy. As robotic or clinical as that might sound, these same experts who have been counselling married couples report that when husbands and wives actually do this, it brings them closer together in every other area as well, and before long the "schedule" is out the window and they're doing just fine.

If such things as bitterness and resentment have already begun to build in this area, it's essential that you both take the time to sit together and in a non-threatening, non-condemning non-accusatory way, express your thoughts and feelings with one another with the goal of asking "how can we fix this?" and coming to an agreement to work on it, and begin loving each other the way you should.

I hope this has been some benefit today and I would welcome your thoughts and ideas if you'd care to leave a comment. Tomorrow I'm going to focus on a bulleted list of Honey-Dos and Honey-Don'ts for both husband and wife.
Graphic design by Carla Rolfe

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

How To Have The Most Fabulous, Fantastic, Fiery, Fun Marriage, Ever: Introduction

Early this morning, possibly too early for the coffee to have done it's caffeinely-duty, in my efforts to post part 1 of this series I accidentally deleted the introduction. Thanks to the magic of rss readers however, I was able to retrieve that first post and so I will share it again (even though now the posts are out of order, lol)

I would like to make it clear from the beginning that what I'm going to share here is not from my own personal wisdom or my own subjective experiences, but rather from the combined wisdom of men and women much wiser than myself who have in some cases decades of experience in professionally dealing with marital issues. You'll notice the title says "introduction" because that is exactly what this first post is. At the suggestion of a friend, I will be posting this week on this topic and I hope you'll come along with me each day as well as share you own thoughts, questions or ideas in the comments. I can't promise to have an answer for every question but I'll sure try my best.

I have a friend who has often said "husbands, date your wives, or someone else will". What he means by that is if husbands don't take the time and the effort to make sure their wives know they are loved and appreciated by being as attentive to and affectionate towards her as he ought to be, the wife might eventually find herself looking for someone who will take that time and make that effort even if the very idea of it horrifies her and was something she never thought she would find herself thinking. Ladies, it works in reverse as well, and in far too many cases it's the wife who neglects her husband and to his own horror and shame finds himself looking and thinking about what it used to feel like to have that kind of affection.

Now before anyone reading dismisses this idea as something that could never happen to strong, dedicated believers, it's a good to keep the facts in front of us and the facts say the divorce rate among professing believers is just slightly lower than it is with unbelievers. The latest data on that I have found is that the unbelieving community's divorce rate is roughly 51% while the professing Christian community comes in at 42% (of all marriages ending in divorce). Sadly, the facts bear themselves out and Christian marriages do fall apart and divorce does happen. But, it doesn't have to be this way and there are real, tangible, life-changing ways to prevent it as long as both husband and wife want it and are willing to work at it and do what it takes to have a fantastic marriage.

Over the last few months I've read and heard other variations of that "husbands, date your wives" quote and it made me curious as to what forms the building blocks of a truly phenomenal marriage. If you will, what are the do's and don'ts, what works and what doesn't, and what a successful, lasting marriage really looks like My own husband Kevin and I have been setting aside good quality "talk time" to discuss these things and now I'd like to share some of them here with you. Much of what I'll be sharing will certainly not be anything new to anyone, but it may be that it has been set aside or even forgotten in your own relationship with your spouse. It's not an exhaustive solution to turn your marriage into an Emmy award winning relationship (but if you and your spouse decide to apply everything you read here and it transforms your relationship into something crazy-fantastic, I want to hear from you!), but I do hope it serves to bless your union and give you and your spouse something to consider, pray about and talk over. These are things that will change your marriage for the better whether you've been married for 6 months or 60 years.

It's never too late to have a wonderful relationship with the one you love most and it's never to early to commit these things to your memory before you get married so you're well informed ahead of time. In closing for today I'd like to add that researching this subject online is very difficult unless you're open to all sorts of material that Christian men and women should never allow before their eyes. Through the magic of google's (locked) safesearch, and through talking to a couple of friends I was able to gather quite a bit of wisdom and I hope to pass it on to you. I even purchased a book on one particular area so that I could read offline in my own leisure time and discuss these things with my husband. There will be some areas that will not be exactly "easy" to address but they're all important so I hope to be able to address them in a safe and helpful way for both men and women reading.

I hope you'll be back tomorrow for part 1 of this series.
Graphic design by Carla Rolfe

How To Have The Most Fabulous, Fantastic, Fiery, Fun Marriage, Ever: Part 1

(not being completely familiar with the new blogger interface, I accidentally hit the wrong button and deleted the introduction to this series from yesterday) EDIT: I have recovered the introduction and you can read that here)

As a preface to this series I want to point out one simple fact, based on all I've read. That fact is this: what will make or break a marriage is the level of intimacy you have with your spouse.  More specifically, or to understand better what I mean by intimacy is to understand that when it comes to marriage there are three basic categories of intimacy and they are spiritual, emotional and physical.  If those three areas are strong and healthy and you're mindful of them always, you will have a fantastic marriage. If any one of those three areas is suffering (and the reality of it is, in most marriages one or more of those areas do suffer from time to time), there are very real ways to address them and make them strong and those are the three areas I'm going to focus on for the purposes of this series of posts.  In truth, they actually all blend together and overlap in a hundred different mysterious and wonderful ways but I'll focus on each area seperately, as best as I can. First, and most important in any Christian marriage is the level of spiritual intimacy you and your husband share.

Pray Together

This one might seem like a no-brainer for Christians, but from all I've read many Christian couples don't actually do this, or used to do it when newly married but allowed their busy lives to sort of edge this kind of prayer time out of the picture. I can testify that it's very easy to allow that to happen, even if you didn't want it to.  They often pray as a family together, and the husband or the wife may pray for the other, in their own quiet prayer time but they often do not pray as a couple together. The benefit of this is that both spouses hear what is on the heart and mind of the other and can go to the Lord in prayer with them, and agree in prayer together.

Husband, is she asking the Lord to give you strength to avoid temptation in our modern world where impure messages and images are everywhere you look?  Hear her prayer and praise God for her support and her love for you and her dedication to keeping your marriage pure and solid, and go to the Lord together on this. 

Wife, is he asking the Lord to help you manage your busy schedule and give you refreshment when you feel down?  Praise God for him that he goes to the Lord in prayer for you in this way, that he knows and understands how difficult it can be sometimes to juggle so many things, and that he's in your corner and cares so much about you, and agree with him in prayer. 

As a married couple going together before the Lord in prayer this way you will grow closer together and that is the goal.  My husband Kevin and I used to do this but as life tends to do, we adopted different routines and schedules and let this one slip years ago.  We've recently begun doing this again every day and I cannot tell you how much it blesses me to hear what he prays for when we pray together, or how it blesses me to hear him whisper "yes" when I am praying for him in certain areas.

Thank the Lord for your marriage, for your family, His grace, strength and the conviction and guidance of the Holy Spirit in all your thoughts and words for both of you. If you already do this you already know how close it makes the both of you and how much stronger your relationship (and your entire family) is because of it.  If you've let this slip or have never done it, you're in for a wonderful surprise when you begin praying this way and you'll both be happier for it.

If your marriage is in need of a spiritual refreshment and this is something you're not doing, have never done or let slip, I would encourage you both to begin doing this, this very day. A Christ-centered marriage is the most beautiful kind of relationship, with a most incredible spiritual intimacy and coming before Him each day, together in praise and petition for one another will make your bond stronger than you ever realized it could be.


Graphic design by Carla Rolfe

Friday, September 2, 2011

September Status Report

Sometimes I wish there were 3 or 4 of me so I could get all the things done I'd like to get done in a day. The only trouble with that is, if there were 3 or 4 of me that would mean more laundry and more dirty coffee cups so maybe that's not such a good idea after all? In any event, even though I don't keep this blog up the way I want to, here is at least a status report:  

Sitting... at my desktop this time around. I would be on my laptop on the deck but it's super-creepy-scary-movie foggy outside and it looks damp and yucky.

Drinking... french vanilla coffee in my travel mug that hubby bought for me before vacation.  Turns out, I really love this mug and use it A LOT.  We call them (he has one too) our "stay hot" mugs.

Listening to... my friend James White's Dividing Line from yesterday. Normally I listen live, while in his chat channel at the same time, but ever since vacation I can't seem to remember what day it is.  In a way it's kind of funny but in another way it's kind of annoying.  I really need to get back into a routine so it's a really good thing school is starting soon, as that will help a lot.

Thinking about... the fact that my only son was born on this day eleven years ago.  The day he was born we were having a fierce thunderstorm and the last flash of lightning and crack of thunder happened at the same time the doctor instructed me to PUSH! one last time. Kev was sort of alternating between holding my hand and watching the storm and truth be told, I'd have rather been watching the storm with him.  It was a rough time but at the end my beautiful baby boy was there.  Happy Birthday Samuel!

Planning... to put together a vacation scrap book and photo album as soon as the kids go back to school.  I've never done a scrap book before but we came home with so many fun things I really want to do this.  Besides, the scrap book accessories aisle at Walmart is so cool, how could I not?

Considering... how amazing God's mercy truly is.  I know that might sound cliche but I suppose part of what makes a cliche is that it's just true, and it's that simple.  The other day I was praying about a specific issue and simply asked for God's peace about it.  Less than 5 seconds after I was done praying something happened that not only assured me He heard my prayer but that the answer was YES.  I realize the non-religious or the skeptical would simply chalk that up to coincidence but I know Who it was that parted the fog and brought peace to that specific situation.  He never fails to astound me with His timing or His grace. 

Happy about... my recent weight loss.  It hasn't been easy by any stretch of the imagination, but since June 1st I've lost roughly 25 pounds and it feels really good to be rid of that extra weight.  My target weight is still about 15 pounds away, but I'm aiming for it and hope to be there soon.  Of course I've already had to get rid of an entire garbage bag full of clothes, but that's okay with me.  If you're wondering how I did it, it's pretty simple.  For the most part, I just stopped eating junk (chips, sweets, etc.), started drinking LOTS more water, and began doing more exercises (mostly just cardio and target toning and strengthening of the core - the upper and lower abs).  I still eat snacks sometimes but it's not a part of my usual diet, it's just a "once in a while" sort of thing.  Plain potato chips are my favorite and never realized how unbelievably salty they are until the other day.  I guess that's what happens when you don't eat something for a while then try it again.  What's really nice is, I don't even have a sweet tooth like I used to.  I have a chocolate bar sitting in my desk drawer thats been there for a couple of weeks now and I don't even want it.  That feels really good too.

Enjoying... blogger's new interface.  I don't blog very often anymore so I don't know how long it's been in affect but I really like it.

Pondering... getting my crazy hair cut off.  Normally I go about 10 years of letting it grow then I get it cut real short and start the 10 years all over again.  The last time I got it cut real short was in 2004 I think, but it's already grown so long it's always in the way. This time though I don't think I'll get it cut short but just trimmed and layered so my crazy curls are bouncy again instead of flat and frizzy.  Bouncy is always good, right? That may all sound very trivial but to a girl, hair matters. 

Glad that... I'm finally sleeping normally again after 28 years of not sleeping normally.  When my oldest daughter was born I had several veteran moms advise me to "nap when the baby naps" to keep my strength up.  It's great advice and I took it, but the problem for me is that I kept taking it for the next 6 kids and it just became a daily pattern for me for the next 28 years.  I couldn't get through the day without at least an hour nap, sometimes longer, and then I wasn't sleepy at all by what might be a "normal" bed time.  When we took our vacation this summer I knew I wouldn't be able to nap every day and I knew I wouldn't even want to so I decided then and there that I was finally going to break this napping habit.  I never did take an afternoon nap the whole month we were gone and asked hubby to help me keep the same routine when we got home.  We've been back now just a little over 3 weeks and only once have I layed down on the couch for a little rest.  Other than that, I'm in bed at a decent time at night and up early and sleep feels better than it has in years. Some days I still feel like laying down for a rest but that's when I get up and go do something to keep me busy. I don't want to ruin my night's sleep so I press through the groggies during the day.  I know some say that even a 20 minute cat nap is a good idea but for me it might not be.

Well, that's about it for me for a status report.  While typing this my twitterfeed keeps telling me about an earthquake off the coast of Alaska and a tsunami warning issued.  I pray today for the folks there, that God simply calms the storm and they'll all be safe.



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