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Divorce Calculator: What is Your Chance of Divorce?
Someone on Twitter (follow me here) posted a link to a nifty divorce calculator! You type in some vital statistics, and it churns out your chance of divorce.

Mine was pretty high, at 38%. And a 9% chance of divorce in the next five years, which they said is in the high range.

I think it's because we married young (I was 21), and that is a major indicator for divorce apparently.

What this doesn't measure is your commitment to each other or your commitment to God. Because of that, I'd put our chances at closer to .5%. I'd say 0%, except that pride goeth before a fall! So I'd better say at least something to be on the safe side!

Anyway, it's an interesting exercise. Funny, though, that they didn't ask you if this was your first marriage or not. Or if you lived together first or not. Two of the biggest indicators for divorce are second (or third or fourth) marriages, and cohabitation before marriage. Both make divorce rates skyrocket.

I guess that's just not politically correct to say!

But let me talk about divorce rates for a minute. I've heard the statistic tossed around and quoted quite a bit that divorce within the church is the same as the general population, if not a bit higher. That's not actually true.

What is true, if you break down the stats, is that in some areas, and specifically in the Bible belt in the U.S., religious affiliation seems to have little or no effect on divorce, which is terrible. In northeastern U.S.A., or in Canada, religious affiliation is a major protector against divorce. Again, it doesn't mean it doesn't happen; it just means it's less likely.

Why would it be higher in the Bible belt than in other areas? This is just my personal opinion (and I'd love some input from some of you if you live in the southern states) is that where Christianity becomes cultural it can stop having a major impact on people simply because those who self-identify may not truly be committed. It's socially acceptable to go to church, so many do. But it may not permeate their lives in the same way it does where Christianity is not as socially normal.

At the same time, because people are in the church they have an image to maintain, so they may not talk about problems. Marriages, then, can easily be endangered.

Whenever Christians divorce it is a huge tragedy. It is a death of a small civilization. And what chance can we have of redeeming the culture if our families are falling apart?

I think that's why I'm so passionate about marriage, and why I speak at marriage conferences and why I write marriage books. I want our culture reached for God, but that's only going to happen to the extent that the church can provide a model for stable families.

So if you're having trouble in your marriage, DON'T HIDE IT! Face it. Talk to someone. Buy a book. Don't let it go! If you do, it can build up and build up until you can't take it anymore.

My husband and I have been through really rocky periods in our marriage, and several times we actually sought counselling. Even today we still have issues we're working on, and things aren't always rosy, but we do feel very connected and very intimate. We're just not perfect yet. And that's okay.

But if we hadn't sought counselling during those rough times--if we hadn't tried to fight through them, I don't know where we'd be today.

Sometimes it's tempting to push problems under the rug, and concentrate on something else, like your kids, or your job, or your church. Don't do it. Make your marriage come first. Rescue it. Talk about it. Pray about it. Fight for it.

Your marriage is the foundation for everything else. It needs your primary attention. We try to stay connected and schedule times to talk about our marriage. Often in a bubble bath, if that's not too much information! But you do need to talk every now and then in a safe way. If you don't have that safe way, keep reading. Every Wednesday I post "Wifey Wednesday", or advice for wives. And I have lots more marriage articles. But there is so much information out there! Make use of it. Do something. And save your marriage now!

To Love, Honor and Vacuum

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Winner & Housekeeping! It's Blog Award Time!
It's time to announce a winner, give a few awards, and in general attend to some housekeeping!

So without further adieu,

We have a winner for my book giveaway! This week I interviewed Marla Taviano about her book Changing Your World One Diaper at a Time: A Reflective Journey Through Your Baby's First Year . And the winner of that book is:

Kristy at Mommy in Pink! She left a comment that she has a four-year-old who is teething, so she'd probably appreciate this a lot!

So congratulations, Kristy!

And for the rest of you, remember that every month I award a free book of my own to whichever blog owner sends me the most new visitors. You're too late for November, but if you add me to your blogroll now, you have a good chance for December!

Now, onto some other stuff.

Jennifer at Through the Storms of Life gave me an award earlier this month! I appreciate it, and I'm sorry I never got around to writing a post on it!

Here's what it says:

This award acknowledges the values that every blogger shows in his/her effort to transmit cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values every day.

And now I get to nominate ten women in return! I'm going to pick an eclectic bunch: some moms, some worship leaders, some political blogs, just to give you a variety.

So here they are, in no particular order:

I love Terry at Breathing Grace. She's always so thoughtful, and she bases everything on Scripture.

Cheryl at Lifestyle of Worship has such thoughtful posts up on what it means to lead worship, to worship in church, and to worship in everyday life. And she's a friend. A good one. But she moved away. But I'm not bitter.

Suzanne at Blue Wave Canada writes such great posts on pro-life issues. She's coming at things from a political point of view, but I appreciate her!

Meredith at Like Merchant Ships has the best blog about saving money. And the video she posted about consumerism at Christmas has become one of my favourites. I've shown it to everyone this week, and my pastor's even playing it in church tomorrow! So thanks for the heads up, Meredith!

Dawn at Because I Said So is a personal friend whose doing just amazing! She writes the funniest posts, and has a new book coming out that you all just have to get!

Sarah at Life in the Parsonage writes so honestly about being a pastor's wife. It's great!

Of course I have to mention Homeschool Blog Awards, since I occasionally contribute! If you're a homeschooler, this is a must blog to visit!

I always find Donetta at My Quiet Corner peaceful to read.

Kelly at Love Well has many great craft posts, and other typical mom ones that are thought-provoking and funny.

And finally Tracey at Grace Comes by Hearing I have to nominate because her adopted baby is arriving any day now!

Whew, that was a long list. But visit them! They're my friends. Now have a great weekend!

I'm having over a dozen teenage girls over today to watch Sense & Sensibility and Emma (1996) and I have a sore throat and a headache coming on! So pray for me!

To Love, Honor and Vacuum
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The Power of Negative Suggestion
I have just realized that I have parenting all wrong.

You see, when I want my children to do something, I ask them. When I find a toy, a book, a song I think they will like, I tell them.

And it seems that my words have the magical effect of making them want to do the exact opposite.

For instance, my youngest daughter isn't much of a reader. But we are studying the War of 1812 (bonus points if you know what year it was fought in!), and I have been trying to get her to read Laura's Choice: The Story of Laura Secord, which is by Connie Brummel Crook, an author she just loves (and that I know personally, by the way).

She has read two of Connie's other books, The Hungry Year and Maple Moon, and loved them both. But she wouldn't read this one because I SAID IT WAS GOOD.

That is obviously a no-no.

After trying for a year, today I finally told her that she had to. I was assigning it in our homeschool.

She whined and cried and flopped all over the living room as she went to get the book and then start to read it. She flailed her arms around and sighed.

And then she read.

And read.

And read.

She read during lunch. She read during dinner (at the table!). She read at bedtime. She is even reading now, even though it is past her bedtime. Normally I would not let her do these things, but as I said, she is not an avid reader. If she finds a book she likes, I want to encourage it.

So next time I find something I think she will like, perhaps I will tell her that she will hate it. That it is not for her. I will make it into a type of dare: "I know you won't like this!" And then maybe she will try it just to get back at me.

What do you think? Does negative suggestion work? Maybe it even works on potential spouses! We tell our kids we hate the guy we secretly want them to marry.... hmm... shall have to give this more thought!

To Love, Honor and Vacuum

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Herod Was Not a Hero. Was He?
One of the nice things about the Christmas story is that there are good guys--Mary, Joseph, the baby--and bad guys--Herod.

It's pretty clear cut, right? The dude who orders babies' deaths is evil. The One who came as a baby to save is Good.

But our culture has it all mixed up.

I'm not sure today we would consider him evil. After all, he had a REASON for what he did, right? He was trying to protect his kingdom from religious fanatics, from people who might claim to be the Messiah. He was trying to keep a secular government.

So if you have to kill a few babies to achieve a higher purpose, that's all right, isn't it?

I say this because of the reaction to my column a few weeks ago. I tend not to read Letters to the Editor complaining about me, though I know quite a few appear, because frankly they don't pay me enough for that.

But every now and then I hear about it.

And this is what these individuals were complaining about. In the column being debated, I wrote this:

Before we leave T-shirts, can I please put in a request that teenagers stop wearing Che Guevera ones? The man was Castro’s executioner. By his own admission he ordered the killing of several thousand, and murdered some himself, including some as young as fourteen. Would you wear a Paul Bernardo T-shirt? A Timothy McVeigh T-shirt? A Muhammad Atta T-shirt? Then stop wearing Che ones. Just because he’s a communist doesn’t make him cool. It makes him evil. Learn more about the guy before you wear him on your chest.

The comments came back to the newspapers that Che was just doing the best he could under the circumstances.

Yeah, right. And these are the same people who villify George Bush if Guantanamo prisoners aren't given Korans and air conditioning and comfy pillows (I'm not trying to make a statement on the pros and cons of Guantanamo; I'm just trying to make a point).

They excuse mass murderers, but can't make any allowance for those who are trying to fight evil.

And that's the issue. I think most people don't believe in good or evil. Good is anything that challenges the status quo. That's why the revolutionary hero becomes so sexy. Anything that challenges the system is to be applauded, even if they use questionable methods.

Now I'm not against challenging the system. Many have done it effectively and well, like Gandhi, or Martin Luther King Jr., or even Jesus. But the ends do not justify the means. Mao defenders say that when you're making an omelette, you have to break a few eggs. In his case, he broke 100,000,000 of them. Think about that: one hundred million lives.

Che, by comparison, only directly killed 1,000, though he ordered the execution of more. And some of those were teenagers. But because he was for communism and challenging capitalism, they give excuse him. It doesn't matter if he killed children.

So why should we assume that everyone would consider Herod the villain today? We don't even recognize true heroes, like our soldiers in uniform trying to protect lives and bring peace and stability a world away. Instead people villify them and what they do, at the same time praising these "revolutionary" heroes who use murder as a tactic.

I think it's quite simple: do you want to save lives, or take them? What is your primary consideration? If people don't care about lives, they're not good. It's that simple.

So let's back to the good-evil dichotomy, rather than the system-revolutionary dichotomy we exist in today. Not everything that challenges authority is good, and not all authority is bad. I just wish more people would figure that out.

To Love, Honor and Vacuum

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Shopping is Not Worth Tragedy
Did you hear about the Wal-Mart in Long Island?

The unidentified worker, employed as an overnight stock clerk, tried to hold back the unruly crowds just after the Valley Stream store opened at 5 a.m.

Witnesses said the surging throngs of shoppers knocked the man down. He fell and was stepped on. As he gasped for air, shoppers ran over and around him.

"He was bum-rushed by 200 people," said Jimmy Overby, 43, a co-worker. "They took the doors off the hinges. He was trampled and killed in front of me. They took me down too...I literally had to fight people off my back."

Another woman, a shopper, was pregnant and she was trampled. Paramedics came but she had lost the baby. And as both victims were being treated by paramedics, shoppers were rushing around them, few stopping.

Something is seriously wrong with our culture. How could we be so into a bargain that we literally ignore human life? Is that the meaning of Christmas?

Be careful about shopping today on Black Friday. Bargains are great, but how much better not to buy at all, and just to bake cookies? Why do we think presents make Christmas?

I know there's a balance, but may we never be caught in something like this.

To Love, Honor and Vacuum

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Squeezing Out Good Samaritans
Every Friday my syndicated column appears in several newspapers. Here's this week's, which focuses on an ordeal one of my local churches is going through. Enjoy!

Let’s imagine that you’re mad at your father. He hates your boyfriend, so naturally you marry him to reap revenge. Now you realize, too late, that your boyfriend is an idiot. Is the marriage your father’s fault for making you mad?

Or what if a guidance counselor tells you your boring personality makes you perfectly suited for accountancy? Then you become an accountant and are miserable because you have dreams of joining Cirque du Soleil. Is it her fault that you wasted years pursuing a profession you now hate?

In other words, if someone influences you towards a bad decision, whose fault is that decision?

That’s the question being asked in my hometown right now. After a man filed a lawsuit against a counseling ministry at a local church, another woman came forward claiming that a counselor had pushed her into a bad marriage. So she may sue, too.
Let’s assume for the sake of argument that this woman is right: she sought out counseling and the counselor told her to get married, and the couple is now divorced. Should the woman blame the counselor for the ill-advised nuptials?

I think that’s carrying things way too far. Marriage is a big decision. We shouldn’t let anyone else talk us into it. And at some point, doesn’t being a grown-up mean taking responsibility for your actions? If you can’t—if you’re determined to go through life blaming everybody else for every bad decision you make—then you’re never going to grow as a person. Do we really want a society full of people like that?

But even worse, do we want a society where community service organizations can be sued even if they were acting in good faith?

Luckily we already came to our senses in the case of individuals. Here was the scenario that once existed for would-be Good Samaritans: You’re driving along and see a car on fire with someone inside. In a fit of heroic madness, you rush towards the vehicle and haul that victim out before the car is consumed by flames.

Six months later you receive a letter that you’re being sued, because the person had a broken neck, and when you rescued him you made it worse.

You’d be pretty ticked, wouldn’t you? And you’d be much less likely to help the next time someone needed it. That’s why provinces adopted Good Samaritan Acts, which provide that people rescuing others can’t be sued if they’re doing something reasonable.

But don’t organizations face the same conundrum? If they can be sued for trying to do good, they may just decide to stop doing good altogether.

This church that’s being sued for its counseling ministry serves our community. I don’t know the church that well; I don’t know the individuals involved; and I don’t know the circumstances.

What I do know is that when my husband and I lost our son, we went to a church counselor, and she was a lifeline. If churches can be sued for providing counseling services, fewer are going to do it. It’s not just this church that will be affected; it’s all churches and non-profit agencies. They won’t stick their necks out if people are waiting there to cut their heads off.

Boy Scouts, Big Brothers, churches, and so many other organizations have turned themselves inside out to try to prevent any sort of abuse, and that’s all for the good. But they will never eliminate all risks. Should we expect them to? By trying to prevent risks, many have curbed the programs they offer, leaving the community they serve the real loser.

Sometimes organizations will make mistakes, but this should not negate the greater good that they do. In cases of gross negligence, like abuse that was tolerated, obviously someone needs to be punished. But in other cases, maybe we should get back to personality responsibility and stop encouraging lawsuits. Why not just thank organizations for giving to the community, even if, on occasion, they fall short? After all, if they stop doing good, who is going to be left to help us?

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To Love, Honor and Vacuum

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Thankful Thursday: The Purpose of Saying Thanks

When my husband and I were in university my husband entered what was almost a depression. (I say almost because though most of his drives were gone--to sleep, to eat--he still had a sex drive! But that's another story).

He was in medical school, which is a brutal place for him to be. He was told day in and day out how stupid he was, how there was no way everyone in the class would pass, how they should know all this stuff by now, etc. etc. He had to memorize minutiae after minutiae, and he's more of an extraverted, hands on kind of person.

It was killing him.

But it was only temporary. And he couldn't see that. I could see that if he could just hang on for two more years, he'd be seeing actual patients and practising medicine, rather than just studying it. And that's a whole different ballgame.

Nevertheless, he was feeling very sorry for himself. Now I admit I wasn't the most sensitive sort. I get a little fed up when people mope. So I told him that everyday he had to think of five things to be thankful for, write them down, and pray over them. Even if they were little things, like seeing a sunrise, or having a child smile at him.

So he did. And it honestly helped. And in the fifteen years since, whenever he has felt depression coming on he has done exactly the same thing. He made it a point to always come up with five NEW things, so it was like a challenge. And everyday he was scouring everything that happened to find his five. So he was on the lookout for things to be grateful for, rather than for things to be upset about.

Over the years I have had to resort to this, too, because I have entered my fair share of down times. When we were having difficulty in our marriage in the first few years I had to do that: everyday, list five things I'm grateful for. It helped me focus on what I loved about him, rather than on what was bugging me. And it really did give me a different attitude.

And when my son was sick, before he passed away, everyday I would write down five things that were great about that day. I knew that our days with him were numbered, and I didn't want to forget anything. The night before his surgery, which only had a 25% chance of survival, I sat with him and made a whole list of the wonderful things about him I didn't want to forget. Here are a couple of them:

1. How he just loved his soother!
2. How he had such spunk, kicking the nurses everytime they came to poke him. He was a fighter!
3. How his little tongue would push out the medicine because he didn't like it, but he'd always calm down as soon as you held him.
4. How he sighed contentedly while I was holding him when he was feeding.
5. Singing to him while I was hugging him and he was sleeping.

And the list goes on to 99 things.

I remember crying while I was writing it, and I'm even tearing up now, because I do miss him. But it helped me to focus on the positive during a very difficult time.

That's what thankfulness is for. It makes us search out positive things, rather than focusing on the negative. Many of us have tendencies to dwell on all the injustices done to us, or all the things we have failed to do or accomplish. An attitude of thankfulness changes that.

I truly believe that if more people became thankful fewer would become depressed. So I practice thankfulness.
It's not Thanksgiving where I live. We had it last month. But to all my American friends, I wish you a wonderful day full of yummy turkey, peaceful relatives, and others who are more than willing to do the dishes!
And for all of us, wherever we may be, I wish that God may help us to focus on our blessings, so that the trials pale by comparison.

To Love, Honor and Vacuum

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This Ain't My Momma's House!

Do you ever feel like you SHOULD clean, but you don't have the energy too?

Like you're a failure as a wife and a mom because your house is out of control, but your mother's wasn't? Or that everybody else has it more together than you do?

That's the focus of the third chapter of To Love, Honor and Vacuum, and the one that we're going to look at today in my To Love, Honor and Vacuum book tour!

Over at Heart of the Matter Online they're studying To Love, Honor and Vacuum, and we're going to delve into chapter 3. Stay and read, even if you don't have the book, because you'll love it anyway!

Here's how reviewer Lori starts off:

We ALL want it. We want to utilize our time for “fulfilling purposes, pursuits and goals,” right? For most of us, if not ALL, housework is something that we HAVE to do and it’s just not a big ball of fun. Sheila tells us WHY we get so little out of those chores that all accumulate into “housework.” On page 51, she lays out quite well why it disagrees with most of us.

Anything that you:
a.) do alone
b.) never get thanked for
c.) never really finish, it just needs redone tomorrow
is likely not going to rate HIGH on the charts.

Given this, most of us don’t greet these tasks with Mary Poppins enthusiasm or have an overwhelming DESIRE to unload the dishwasher or fold the laundry. Well ladies, we’ve been sold a bill of goods. We are given image after image of WHAT a home SHOULD look like, and told that we should be “SUPERWOMEN.” When we don’t feel we meet the standards that we have set for ourselves or we hold to standards of someone else, like our mothers or mother in laws, we are simply setting ourselves up for disaster and depression.

You can read the rest of what she wrote here.

Here's the crux of the matter: our standards can choke us because we're focusing on the wrong things. We are so caught up in what we should be doing in terms of housework that we ignore what God's true purpose in our lives.

Does it honestly matter if all your laundry is done, if your children haven't had a peaceful word said to them all day? What's more important: the spotlessness of your house or playing with your children?

But maybe you're like me. You don't actually clean that much. You just feel guilty about what you're not doing! You have standards, too, and even though you don't try to live up to them, they do make you feel miserable.

It's time to put our standards away and focus on what is really important: our family members. And here's what it comes down to:

Is everyone in your house growing more like Jesus?

If the answer is yes, you're doing great! If it's no, then that's where you need to concentrate your efforts.

That doesn't mean we don't do housework; there's more on that coming in other chapters. It just means that the purpose of housework is to create a warm environment where people can grow, not to create a spotless trophy house.

So let your standards go and go to God!

Part of the problem in the church, though, is that the church culture teaches us that motherhood is the pinnacle of what we as women should be aiming for. And there is some truth in that. But that doesn't mean that it is always inherently satisfying. It isn't. Vacuuming when a child is following behind you eating crackers is frustrating. Trying to get dinner on the table when you know two out of the three kids will complain about it is not easy.

And yet we're told that this is the answer to all of our dreams. That motherhood is lovely, fulfilling, and marvelous. And then we wonder why, when we're in the middle of it, we're going crazy.

The things that moms do are frustrating. We do it out of love, but we should not feel guilty if we get frustrated! That's part of the lie that we're told: that we're supposed to be happy about everything that marriage and motherhood brings. We're not. We're just supposed to be loving and generous to our families. That doesn't mean we're always going to love it! If we did, it wouldn't be a sacrifice!

So stop feeling guilty if you're running around ragged! And stop pushing yourself too hard! Get a different set of standards that focuses on God, and not your home, and you may feel like your life is easier to control!

You can read the rest of Lori's take on what I've said here.

And I love what this commenter had to say:

I agree whole heartedly with everything Lori said. I must say, there was a time I really enjoyed housework. Sadly, it was before children. It was lovely to turn on music & clean our apartment from back to front, wash & fold laundry, even iron. But since I've got a house now, and kids…. well, sometimes I still enjoy it & other times I am like Laurlee & am nearly in tears when I finally get around to what has become a disaster. Most of the time I travel right imbetween those two extremes.

So, in light of that, what I LOVED about this chapter was the chore charts with daily, weekly, and monthly chores. I have been working on my list of those for at least a year & trying to figure out how to make a chart I can use. I used Shelia's as a model & filled in my own particulars, then I "laminated" my chart with clear contact paper & stuck it in the front of my homeschool/family planner.

I am really excited. I love to get organized & be organized. I'm finally feeling like there could be hope for the kind of home I'd like to have 95% of the time. I'm not holding myself to Superwoman standards any more & I'm filling in those missing keys that I haven't found in other housewife or clutter books.

I love …to love, honor, and vacuum!

What are your standards? Are you stifling yourself? Making yourself crazy? Or does your house have that right balance? Share it with us!

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Problem Kids reply
Here's an email that came through in response to my column last week on problem kids.

Kudos for telling it like it is. It is what happens when you have parents so busy trying to give their children what they didn't have that they forget to give them what they did have. Discipline. Although I didn't realize it at the time, I grew up with two fantastic parents. It was rare to receive a spanking but when all else failed I got it and I am not any worse for it.

In my opinion we don't need a better school system. We need parents to leave the teaching to teachers, the return of detentions and if the student has a bus to catch that is just too bad. A failing grade should mean that the student does not get promoted to the next grade and misbehaviour should have a consequence.

We need parents to teach their children that there are realities in life. We need to support our police services and the court system. We need to remove the swinging door from our prisons and make life in prison such that once will be enough.

Jail time should not be a holiday resort. It must ensure convicts never re-offend and end up back in prison and that incorrigible young people fear being sent to reform school.

It's funny the equations that people often make between prison and school! It's not that I disagree with her at all; it's just that I think that's how kids see it, too: school is like jail.

That's one of the reasons we homeschool. But honestly, the school system is not going to change until we get back to a culture that believes in authority, rather than a culture that believes in nothing. Because if you believe in nothing, then how can you tell a kid what to do?

To Love, Honor and Vacuum

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Wifey Wednesday: The Deal with Flowers

Many of you would kill for flowers.

You can't figure out why he can always remember the oil change and when the game is on but he can't remember to pick up flowers every now and then.

I've had a rocky relationship with flowers myself.

When we were first married, Keith used to buy me chocolate truffles. I love chocolate truffles. Especially in the bath.

But then one day he started to buying me flowers. In fact, he vowed, without telling me, that he would buy me flowers every two weeks for six months.

And he did. They started coming like clockwork. He was expecting me to be ecstatic. Romantic. Enthusiastic.

Instead I began to seethe.

And the more flowers came, the more upset I became.

You see, about the time Keith made his pledge to buy me flowers I realized that I had gained ten pounds. I don't know how I did it; it just appeared one day. And I was very sensitive to it.

So when he started bringing me flowers, all I could think was, "he thinks I'm fat so now he won't bring me chocolate."

Pretty stupid, eh?

Fast forward to last week. I was away speaking for a few nights, and the night before I left I was rather distracted. So we didn't--you know.

Then I came home at midnight. So we didn't--you know.

The next night I know he was hoping for it. And normally it would have happened! I like it, too, after all.

But I was tired and grumpy. So we didn't. And neither of us slept well.

The night after that I threw myself into it, we had a good time, and all was well.

The next day he brought me flowers.

Sex flowers.

And I thought, why do I get flowers on the days after we make love, and not on the days after we don't?

And I started to get angry again.

After I had come back to earth and realized that men are not actually women, I figured out what the issue was.

Keith is a guy. Guys don't think that deeply. Here is what was going through Keith's head:

"I love my wife. I think I'll buy her flowers."

Isn't that sweet?

Of course, as a woman, this is what I assume is going through his head:

"She made love to me, so she needs to be rewarded. I need to withhold romance and affection when she doesn't perform, and only give it to her when she does, so that she starts acting the way I want her to."

That's not it at all.

Here's the truth: women have this hormone called oxytocin. It's the bonding hormone. It's present when we make love; when we nurse our babies; and lots of other times. It's what makes us affectionate and cuddly.

The only time men have the hormone is after they make love. So they feel really close to us. They feel cuddly. They feel like women!

That's why men are so lovey-duvy the next day. It's not to be manipulative. It's because they honestly feel close to us and affectionate.

Isn't it great the next day after you make love, how he looks after the kids, and hugs you, and does housework even? It's because he feels affirmed as a man. He feels powerful. He feels loving.

I think we women need to stop seeing ulterior motives behind everything our men do and just be grateful when they are affectionate and loving. Isn't that what we've been wanting, anyway?

And realize that this is the way marriage works. When you meet his needs, he starts to meet yours. It's a give and take. But if you're waiting for him to be all affectionate and to be romantic before you make love, it may never happen.

So are you going to wait? Or are you going to do something about it?

I know doing something can be hard. You're not always in the mood. Believe me, I understand. I was there. But I'm not anymore, and you don't have to be, either!

My Download of the Month is a 45 minute talk called
Honey, I Don't Have a Headache Tonight. And if you want to feel more in the mood, it will help! And it's just $2!

What about you? Do you have some marriage issue you want to share? Or some advice? Participate in Wifey Wednesday! Just go to your blog and write a post, link back here, and then come back and enter the URL for your post (not for your whole blog) in the Mr. Linky below.

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Works for Me Wednesday: Ending Gift Giving Chaos

Okay, ladies. I want you all to imagine...

I want you to imagine that this Christmas we didn't buy junk from China. We didn't buy things that would cause our children's brains to turn to mush. We didn't buy stuff with small parts that children will leave all over the floor and you will step on in bare feet and try really really hard not to say a bad word.

We didn't buy things for people we didn't like just because we "should".

Imagine, instead, that what we bought was meaningful. Not big, but meaningful. And imagine that we actually had time in December to make Christmas crafts, and to hang some decorations, and to play some board games.

We didn't spend December at the crazy mall with crazy people and slush and no parking spots.

It really can happen. It just takes courage.

I've posted on this before, but I want to state it again: we don't buy our children everything under the sun for Christmas. We do the Three Wise Men thing: we buy them gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Well, not really. But we buy three gifts. The gold gift is something they want; the myrrh gift is something they need; and the frankincense is to nurture their soul. So the frankincense could be a book, or a journal, or a CD, or a magazine subscription. It isn't big. And the kids know that they are only getting three things. So it's not a gift frenzy.

And for the other kids in the family? Well, let's just say we're probably not the favourite aunt and uncle. But I don't care! Because here's my philosophy. If you look around your house, what is it that you still have from your childhood? It may be one teddy, but no other toys. Maybe a Monopoly game. But most of us saved some books. Some hard cover Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys. The Narnia series. Anne of Green Gables.

And so I'm the book aunt. I buy books. Classics. Books that mean something. And maybe one day these kids will get off of the Xbox and actually read them!

One little girl and boy, the "niece and nephew" that we're not actually related to (they're more adopted into the family) do read those books! They love it! Last year we bought the boxed set of Little House on the Prairie, and they've read through them out loud this year. So now I'm going to do .... well, I haven't made up my mind yet. Definitely Treasures of the Snow by Patricia St. John. And maybe some others.

But I don't want to buy junk just to make these kids happy on Christmas. They have too many junky-type toys already.

And for everyone else on my Christmas list? I'm making scarves. And putting together gift baskets of chocolates and little things, and decorating them. The make pretty gifts, but don't cost much.

But here's our main emphasis at Christmas. We bless others. We tithe throughout the year, giving to certain charities. But at the end of the year we take what we didn't spend on a lot of presents and we build wells in Africa. Or we send money so that blind people can have cataract surgery and see again. How much is your sight worth?

And if you want some great ways to do it, can I suggest a catalog? We love Harvest of Hope. You can buy gifts for people on the other side of the world, and they have a kids' section where children can take their money, and for $9 you can send a child in Sudan to school for a month. For $5 you can send medicine to a family in Vietnam. For $9 you can send Bibles to children. I'm tearing up just looking at it on the web.

So imagine....imagine if this year we didn't buy junk. We bought meaningful things. And we learned about true worship as we stop all the rushing around and just bow at the feet of the King.

That's my idea of Christmas! I'm not saying don't buy gifts. Obviously there is a balance, and we do buy things for each other. But please, make it meaningful this year. Watch this:

Thanks for stopping by! Why not stay and look aound a little at other To Love, Honor and Vacuum posts? I've got great stuff on marriage, s-e-x, a book giveaway, and more!

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Do You Follow Recipes?
This morning I decided to make banana chocolate chip muffins.

So I printed out a recipe and headed for the kitchen.

Alex, my 13-year-old nephew, wanted to help. I said sure!

So I got the flour ready and the baking soda and the salt. All he had to do was measure the powder.

It took him forever because you needed half a teaspon and he only had a teaspoon measure. He had to make sure it was exactly half.

Meanwhile I threw all my ingredients in just guesstimating.

It was like last week when I asked my husband to help me with something. I was stirring a white sauce and all he had to do was mix up some powdered milk. It's 1/3 a cup of powder and then you fill it up til it's "about 1 1/4 cups. It doesn't really matter." I was making biscuits, and I'm never that exact.

It took him five minutes! He had to make sure it was exactly 1/3 cup of powder. Then he had to measure exactly 1 1/4 cups of liquid, but it kept bubbling so he wasn't sure. I would have just thrown it in, bubbles and all.

I am not a recipe person. I really don't think it matters that much. But these guys are. And I really shouldn't have laughed at them so much. They were trying, and I'm feeling a little bit badly. But my daughters are the same way. They sort of measure, but not really.

So what about you? Do you measure? Or do you guess? And do you think it matters?
To Love, Honor and Vacuum

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Honey, I Don't Have a Headache Tonight Webinar!

I'm getting all set up for my webinar which begins in half an hour! It's through Heart of the Matter Online's Heartbeat-live program, and you can register here! We start talking at 4:00 EST, but join in even if you're a little late!

Today we're talking sex. And that can be a problem for many couples, because they see sex differently. Men make love to feel loved. Women need to feel loved to make love. If we can't give to each other, it's a recipe for disaster

We're going to talk about how to overcome it, but if you can't join us, don't worry! You can purchase the 45-minute talk for just $2 during the month of November here. It's hilarious, practical, and I know you'll love it!

And for those of you who have joined me, and want more, why not purchase the book? It has everything we talked about, plus a ton more on how to Light My Fire, build respect in your marriage, end exhaustion, and more!

It's $11 + $4 S&H, a discount from my normal price, just for today for listening in! And I'll autograph it for you!

But I'll also give you a link to some FREE downloadable charts to help organize your house, your kids' chores, and more!

I also mentioned during the webinar how to keep in touch with me. Find me on Facebook at Sheila Wray Gregoire, or on twitter at:

And sign up to keep updates on my books here!

Thanks so much for joining me!

To Love, Honor and Vacuum

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Living on a Cruise Ship
89-year-old widow Beatrice Muller has been living the high life for the last nine years aboard the Queen Elizabeth II. For $7000 a month she's become a long term resident of the cruise ship.

Her husband died on board some years ago, and she decided to stay. It was more pleasant than a retirement home.

Having been on a few cruises I completely understand. The food is great. You have wonderful entertainment. There's a library, and a cinema, and lots to do. There are new people to meet.

And Beatrice has no grandchildren, according to the article in Maclean's magazine I read this morning. Her friends are scattered or dead. So she'd prefer to live at sea.

And now, as the QEII has its final voyage, she has to find a new home.

So I got thinking about this type of life. I've talked to my husband about choosing to retire at sea, joking of course. I can see the appeal.

But I couldn't do it. There's no church to be involved in, or to serve in. There are no long-term friends. And there's no family.

Beatrice, of course, doesn't have family. Maybe she has children; the article didn't say. But she doesn't have grandchildren.

I think that's sad. I have a number of friends who have never had children, and their siblings have never had children. So their parents, who raised all these kids, are not grandparents. That's tough, don't you think?

I really want to be a grandma, and I worry about what life is coming to when our generation decides to forego childbearing so we can concentrate on careers, or have better vacations, or buy better clothes. Childbearing is such a rich part of life. It's a lot of work, yes, but it makes you into a better person.

It makes you see the world in a different way. You're not just out for what you can get; you really want to make it a better place for your kids. And you learn, day by day, hour by hour, to put someone else's needs first. You can't make any decision before first thinking how it will affect the kids. "I" am no longer my primary reference point. "We" is the reference point, if that makes any sense. Your whole perspective is changed.

My friend Tracey at Grace Comes by Hearing is about to become a mom for the first time any day, and she's going to experience this transformation! And it is a beautiful one.

But in the meantime, I feel sort of sorry for Beatrice Muller. It's great to have all that money so you can live on a cruise ship. But I'd take the grandkids any day. I wish her own children had maybe thought of that.

I wonder what it does to our culture when a whole generation chooses self over children. I'm not saying everyone who chooses not to have a child is inherently selfish; but whole cultures can become that way when children are not valued, and when they are thought of as optional, or even worse, a burden.

It reminds me of an interview I once did, "Are Kids Worth It?". It's a good one. Just ignore my socks:

What do you think? How can we get people back to valuing parenthood? I don't know, and I'm worried our culture has turned the corner for good.

To Love, Honor and Vacuum

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Podcast: When Passive Won't Cut It

Okay, ladies. Let's talk about my favourite subject: sex.

For those of you who find this an issue in your marriage, I'll bet one thing that really gets you upset is when you're tired, and grumpy, but you agree to make love anyway. But then that's not enough for him.

What is wrong with him? You gave him what he needed, right?


In today's podcast I share a hilarious story from earlier in our marriage, and help us see sex in a different light.

It's quick. It's funny. And it's helpful.

You can download it here. It's really easy! Give it a listen!

And don't forget, my download of the month is my complete 45 minute talk on Honey, I Don't Have a Headache Tonight! For just $2 you can listen to the whole talk, save it to a CD, or even save it onto your iPod. I know it will help your marriage, and that unbelievable price only lasts until the end of the month!

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One Diaper at a Time Giveaway!
UPDATE: Bumped to the top so more people can enter!

Interview Time! And a giveaway (read on!)

Today joining us is Marla Taviano, a Christian author and a mom, and a great Facebook friend of mine!

She's written this:

Changing Your World One Diaper at a Time. Isn't that cute? And I thought I'd ask her some questions. So here's what we're going to do. I'll be purple, and Marla can be green. Because I love purple. And it's my blog. Here we go:

Okay, Marla. Parenting books are a dime a dozen. What makes yours special? (I like to antagonize the people I interview right off the bat!)

I don't know about you, but I just don't have the time or energy to read non-fiction these days unless it's super-helpful or super-funny. When you read my stuff, I can promise you that it'll feel more like a face-to-face chat than a book-to-face read. Hopefully, you'll find my writing down-to-earth, real, honest, and even pretty funny in quite a few spots. Don't think you won't be convicted as you read it though--I've snuck a lot of that kind of thing in there too.

I love funny! I think more pastors should be funny. God's funny. Have you ever seen a wombat?

Okay, back to parenting. You talk about something called "non-denominational motherhood" in your book. What in the world is that?

I joke that Mommyhood has more denominations than the Protestant church. We all have our own little "doctrinal statements," and we're each convinced that ours is the best. We tend to judge and criticize moms who do things differently than we do, and if we're honest, a lot of that has to do with us being insecure. We compare ourselves to each other constantly--it's a sickness really. I speak to a lot of moms' groups on this topic, and it always strikes a big nerve. The good news--there's hope for us!

What quick words of encouragement do you have for new moms?

Hang in there, Girl, it gets easier! It really does! Of course, motherhood never gets EASY, but you really do start to figure things out. You gain confidence in yourself. Your baby (eventually) starts sleeping through the night. Spend lots of time crying out to God (especially during middle-of-the-night feedings). Remember, you can do all things through Him who gives you strength. And one thing you'll take away from this book is that YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

You're right. It does get easier. For a while. And then it gets harder again when you get a teenager who has a better figure than yours and guys are starting to notice. AAAHHHH! But I digress. Here's a question I get asked a lot, and I still haven't found a great answer for. So maybe you have one: how do you balance being a good mom and writing and speaking? I was going nuts last week trying to figure it out. So figure it out for me.

Oh, please don't ask me the balance question! I have no idea! I spend nearly every day of my life wondering, "Are my priorities right? Am I doing what everyone needs me to do? Am I making the right choices? Am I spending too much time on x and too little time on y and z?" Again, prayer is the key. I start my morning on my face (literally) before God and ask Him to order my day for me. I'm lost when I don't take time to put my day/life in God's hands.

When do you feel most guilty as a mom? We talk a lot about guilt here, and they say that guilt is women's number one emotion. So I figure, Marla, that if you're not feeling guilty yet, you can if you think about it. So build yourself up to it. What makes you feel guilty?

Guilt? Ooh, I don't want to talk about guilt either! You know, I really have to just start each day fresh with God. Ask Him for a clean slate. Ask my kiddos and hubby to forgive me if I've hurt them. They're pretty good about not holding grudges. I can't beat myself up. It just makes things worse. And you know what? If I truly believe that Christ died as payment for my sins, I have to accept that forgiveness and grace and move on. To wallow in my past failures and mistakes is to discount Christ's sacrifice on the cross. Serious stuff, but that's how I see it.

Oh, isn't that the truth? Why is it that we have an easier time forgiving others than we do forgiving ourselves? We'll never be perfect mothers. But even our kids don't expect that. They just want us to be real and to love them.

Okay, here's another question I get asked a lot. Marla, since you've written a book on motherhood, you must have it all together, eh? (I had to throw the 'eh' in there. I'm Canadian!).

You know, I always said I'd never write a book on parenthood. The book I wrote right before Diapers was about sex (you know about those kind of books, Sheila!). And you know what the good thing is about writing on that topic? No one knows if you're practicing what you preach! My readers aren't allowed in my bedroom! But parenting on the other hand, well, you can just take a look at my kids and see how I'm doing in that arena. If I've got a 2-year-old melting down in the Target aisle, that's right out there for everyone to see. The good thing is that I don't write from my expertise and togetherness. I write from my weaknesses. You wouldn't get as much encouragement from a perfect writer as you'll get from me, The Flub-Up Queen.

My next book, Expecting, is a fun 40-week devotional for pregnant women. It releases January 6. You can pre-order it on my website for $10 (including shipping), and you can get my other 3 books for $20 (total, including shipping) there too.

That is a deal! And I have another one for all you ladies reading this! Just leave a comment and you could WIN a copy of One Diaper at a Time!

And if you want to read more by Marla, you can find her website here.

Thanks for joining us, Marla!

To Love, Honor and Vacuum

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Listen in to Honey, I Don't Have a Headache Tonight!
Tomorrow at 4:00 EST I'll be giving a fun and practical on my book To Love, Honor and Vacuum!

It's totally free, but you do have to register beforehand. And you don't need anything fancy to participate. It's easy! Just click here!

If you want to know more about the book first, just watch this (1 minute long):

So come on over! I'd love to have you there!

To Love, Honor and Vacuum

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Menu Plan Monday: What to Make for Lunches

It's time for Menu Plan Monday again, brought to you by Org Junkie!

This week is mildly crazy for me because I'm speaking in Waterloo tonight, which is 3 and a bit hours from where I live. And the weather isn't supposed to be great, so I may have to sleep over. So no dinner tonight.

We have meetings on Tuesday & Thursday, and I'm having kids over Friday and Saturday. So I think I'm just going to make some easy crockpot recipes for dinner most nights. Some stews and some chicken over rice. My favourite chicken is really easy: just mix a tin of cream of chicken or mushroom or broccoli soup with a package of onion soup mix. It's really yummy.

The meals I care about more are lunches.

I'm getting seriously sick of sandwiches. So I want to write about what else you can make for lunch. The deal is it can't be expensive and it has to be easy to make.

We homeschool, so I try to have a hot lunch everyday (even with the sandwiches we eat soup). But sometimes I just don't know what to make.

So here are some thoughts:

Hummus & Pitas. I just love hummus. Have you ever made it? It's not hard. Just mix:

one tin chick peas
2 tbsp tahini (it's sesame seed paste and you can find it in the health food section)
3 cloves garlic
1 tbsp lemon juice
olive oil (just pour it in little by little)

But you really need the right kind of mixer. I use one of those Procter Silex handheld blender thingies, and it's awesome. This stuff doesn't work well in a traditional blender. It will just stick to the sides.

Anyway, I love hummus, and so does my 11-year-old. The other kids don't, but at least it's something different for me.

Homemade Soup. I do this one a lot, too! Just save all your leftover chicken and beef in small containers in the freezer. Then buy some stock, or make it, and throw everything together. I add macaroni or shell pasta, some peas and carrots and corn, or any leftover veggies in the fridge, and voila! It's quite good, too.

And any time I make soup I cut up a ton of fresh vegetables with some dip. I buy dip mixes that make dip very easily, and the kids love it, so they'll eat a lot of it.

Macaroni and Cheese. The homemade kind, I mean. Make a white sauce with flour & milk, and then add grated cheese. Add garlic powder and a bit of mustard powder, and then mix it with some cooked macaroni. I'd eat it just like that, but my oldest daughter likes it baked so you can put breadcrumbs on top. I like it runnier so I prefer it right out of the pan. But it doesn't take that long, and it's much more nutritious than Kraft Dinner!

Salads. I'm starting to eat them for lunch, though the kids won't! But if you sprinkle sunflower seeds or chick peas on a green salad, you give it some protein and then you can call it a balanced lunch.

What do you do for lunches? I'd just like some other suggestions, because sometimes I get really bored!

Thanks for dropping by! Do stay and look around a bit. I have a great giveaway going on now, and some posts on marriage & motherhood!

To Love, Honor and Vacuum

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Rethinking Grace Within the Family
Thank you so much to everyone who commented on my "Sometimes Motherhood is Lonely" post. I really appreciated the encouragement! And Tracey, it's great to know that someone thinks I'm really together! You haven't seen how I look when I drool all over my pillow.

Anyway, I want to get back to this a bit, because obviously I've been thinking about it over the week. What do you do when you feel like you give, but other family members don't seem to share a concern for you? Why is it that you can care for your kids, but they don't mind hurting your feelings? Or you can invest in your husband's job, but he doesn't always value yours?

Ironically, even though I've been struggling with this, I have written a lot on it. I think I always write about the things I struggle with!

And the number one issue to me, I think, is respect. Family members should feel a reciprocal relationship with you. If you're doing all the work, and they come to expect it so much that they take it for granted, there's something wrong.

It's like what Joyce said in the comments: In addition to serving our families, part of being a mom is facilitating responsibility in our children.

I think that's spot on.

I've always had my kids do chores. That wasn't the issue for me, though it may be for you! (This is a large part of To Love, Honor and Vacuum, by the way!)

But responsibility goes beyond chores. It also encompasses being a responsible person when it comes to relationships, and that means caring about your mom. And your wife.

When we women do absolutely everything, and don't require anything out of our families, we're not doing them a favour. We're not serving appropriately. We're teaching them to disregard our feelings, and that's really a very unChristian attitude. We're pointing them away from Christ, not towards Him.

So while we may serve our families, we have to do it in the right way. We have to require that they do things for themselves that they should be doing already: don't pick up after them! Don't do all the dishes and make all the meals and not ask for help! Don't work while they get to play Xbox. If Momma's workin, y'all should be workin, too!

But what about feelings? That was really the crux of what it came down to for me this week. I felt like others didn't value what I care about it, and that I couldn't share it.

So I had a talk with each of my kids individually, and with my husband. Unfortunately, he latter conversation took place at midnight, which is never a good time for a deep talk, and I got even more exhausted! But I felt much better afterwards.

I told them that I love my family, but I love writing, too. I feel called to writing. And it hurts me when they see writing as an intrusion to their own comfort, because it takes me away sometimes. I want them to support me and be excited for me, in the same way I am for them.

And things have really changed the last few days. My husband asked me about my column. He just read an article in Faith Today about church libraries that arrived in the mail that I wrote a few months ago. And we're starting to talk about my next book projects.

I feel like I can actually share with him again!

I want to say that my husband really is amazing. I'm making him sound not that great in this post, and that's the furthest thing from the truth. In fact, this is really the only problem we've been having at all lately. So it's a big relief to have this off of my shoulders.

But the reason was that I talked to them. I didn't attack. I just shared what I was feeling. We can't always expect other people to read our minds. We have to tell them what we want and what we need. So speak up! It's not unChristian to need something from our families. It's quite the opposite, because it teaches them to care about others.

And maybe, just maybe, you'll find that your life gets that little bit easier, too!

To Love, Honor and Vacuum

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Follow Me On Twitter!
I tried to leave a link for people to follow me on Twitter below, and I guess I did it wrong. So let me try again, for those of you who wrote and said you wanted to follow me but couldn't find me!

I'll even just leave the whole address out:

The link works for me. If it doesn't for you, and you know what I've done wrong, tell me!

Off to church now...

To Love, Honor and Vacuum

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My Daughter's Testimony for her Baptism

Katie is getting baptized tomorrow morning! She's also playing a song during the offering and singing! She's 11. And I'm proud.

Here's what she wrote out to say:

I was raised in a Christian home where God was the centre.

When I was about five, I asked Jesus into my heart one night when Mommy was praying with me.

I’ve been on missions trips where I’ve seen God working, and I have wanted to get baptized for a long time.

But I was afraid I didn’t have a testimony to share. Usually testimonies are “I was on drugs and God saved me.” So when I was 10 I told Mommy I should wait for two or three years until I had a testimony.

So Mommy asked me, “What do you plan on doing in those two years?”

So I’ve never taken drugs. I’ve never run away from home. And I don’t plan to.

But I do believe in Jesus and I’m glad He died for me and I want to live for Him. I want to proclaim this today, so that is why I’m getting baptized.

To Love, Honor and Vacuum

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What is Your Marriage in 6 Words?
Over on Twitter, Harold Arnold asked, "what is your marriage in six words?" The challenge is based on this book.

Here's his:
"Myopic start succumbed to purposeful pursuit"

Here's mine:
"Everyday learn it's not about me."

And here's another one:
"Chased God. Then chased each other."

What are yours?

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We Have a Winner...
I just used the random number generator to give me a winner in this week's giveaway contest, and I've got it!

Do you want to know who it is?

Well, before I get to that, I just want to refresh you on what the contest was for.

Tracy at was graciously giving away a free Mom thermal T to one of our moms. Here it is:

But they have some other awesome shirts, like Balanced Mom, Grateful Mom, and more! Check it out here.

And our winner is...

Patricia from Pollywog Creek! Congratulations Patricia!

For those of you who didn't win, here's two other ways to be entered in a contest:

Next week, starting on Monday, I'll be offering Marla Taviano's book One Diaper at a Time for free! She's stopping by for an interview, and we're going to have a great time!

But I also have an ongoing contest, too. And it's really easy to enter! If you have a blog, simply add To Love, Honor and Vacuum to your blogroll. I track where all my visitors come from, and at the end of each month, I mail one of my books to whoever sent me the most new visitors! And I never give to the same person twice. So you could be a winner for November, or if you blog roll me soon, for December.

Good luck, and thanks for reading!

To Love, Honor and Vacuum

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Heads Up...
First, don't forget my awesome shirt giveaway! It ends tonight, so sign up in the comments!

And on Tuesday, I'm going to be giving a LIVE talk on Honey, I Don't Have a Headache Tonight over the internet!

It's FREE, and you can win three of my books just by registering!

November 25, 4:00 p.m. EST. Be there and laugh with me as we talk about the problems when he wants to start snuggling, you want to start snoring, and you never seem to agree on sex.

We're going to have a great time! And if you've wanted to learn more about the book, but you haven't bought it yet, this is a great one to listen in on! It's not hard, either. Just go here and all the instructions are there for you!

To Love, Honor and Vacuum

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Problem Kids, Problem Schools
Every Friday my syndicated column appears in several newspapers. Here's this week's: Problem Kids, Problem Schools. See if you can relate:

I have a young friend who is big but gentle. Unfortunately, he shares his 45 minute school bus ride with a particular boy who isn’t as gentle, though luckily he also isn’t as big. He was discussing with his father one day what to do when this boy picked on him. Finally his dad sighed and said, “Son, I think your only choice is to take a swing at him.”

The son appeared shocked. “But at school we’re told never to hit!” The father replied, “Sometimes you have to. And the school will likely suspend you. But then he’ll stop bothering you.”

Was the dad right? I don’t know, but I do know two other dads—and even one teacher—who have recommended the same thing recently! In the schoolyard, desperate measures are increasingly called for.

In this case, the troublemaker had already been suspended multiple times for fighting, to no avail. But no student had ever fought back, and this dad figured that decking him might just teach them a lesson. The philosophy seems straight out of the last century, because today we’re not allowed to think that way.

Then we wonder why our schools are out of control.

With the school’s hands tied, real discipline just doesn’t exist. When we were children, if we were suspended, parents supported the schools. It didn’t matter what you did, it was assumed the school was right.

Today teachers have to document everything they’ve done leading up to a suspension because parents are sure to challenge it. Parents don’t want the responsibility of having to look after their child during that suspension. So they don’t support the teachers.

And all the tools that a school once had to deal with problem kids—corporal punishment, expulsion, cooperation with parents, extra work, singling out the child in the classroom, failing them—have also been eroded as children’s rights have been expanded. The self-esteem philosophy dominating education states that the reason students fail is because they don’t feel good about themselves. So instead of being harsh we’re going to help them feel good! Judges and legislators have removed the ability of schools to punish students or even to hold them accountable for their grades. It’s gone overboard.

It’s hardly surprising, then, that many classrooms, especially in rough neighbourhoods, are comprised primarily with these problem kids. They’re pretty much unteachable, as the steady stream of teachers and substitutes demonstrates.

But what options does the school have?

I once volunteered in a kindergarten classroom where my job was to have the children, six at a time, complete a reading worksheet. When I summoned little Charley (not his real name), he didn’t even acknowledge me. I called him again. No response. So I headed towards him to pick him up. Charley was small for his age, and he would have fit very nicely under one arm. But the teaching assistant stopped me. “We can’t physically force him, so we just let him play. That way he doesn’t disrupt everybody else.” The child was learning at the age of four that if he just put up a fuss, they couldn’t make him do anything.

I asked a young neighbour a few years later whatever happened to Charley. Apparently he only grew worse. In grade 3 he still couldn’t read, but he threw tantrums if you tried to convince him to work. I felt sorry for his fellow classmates who actually wanted to learn.

No wonder children lose hope in school. If you’re surrounded by misbehaving kids that teachers can’t control, how would you feel?

Personally, I think we need a better alternate school system for those children who make life intolerable for others. Of course, in some areas these alternate schools may end up with a higher enrollment than the regular school! But what we’re doing right now isn’t working.

The school system today has no effective way of dealing with problem kids, because discipline has been eroded, authority has been erased, and children’s rights to disrupt everybody else trumps children’s rights to a good education. Something isn’t right. Maybe it’s time for the government to learn something.

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Honey, I Don't Have a Headache Tonight Interview
Thanks for all the well-wishing comments and notes since this morning! I do feel a little better, and fortified after some Diet Pepsi and chocolate.

I also got a bit productive, which made me feel better, too.

I uploaded a video of an interview I did on 100 Huntley Street about my book Honey, I Don't Have a Headache Tonight: Help for women who want to feel more in the mood.

For those of you who haven't read much about it yet, it's exactly what it sounds like. If you're sick of always fighting over sex, and you want to find the road where you can actually WANT it, too, then this book can help!

I wrote it as a research project, because this was the one area that Keith and I couldn't seem to agree on. We had worked out so many problems early in our marriage, but sex wasn't one of them. It was our big source of conflict. Keith felt like I didn't love him because I didn't have the sex drive he did, and I felt like he didn't love me because he only wanted one thing. Have you ever been there? We laugh about it, but it's not easy.

I hope that through Honey, I Don't Have a Headache Tonight more women will realize that they are not alone. You can watch this quick 1 minute book trailer first, and then watch this extended interview:

Thanks for stopping by!

To Love, Honor and Vacuum

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Sometimes Motherhood is Lonely
I'm having one of those lonely days.

It probably mostly stems from the fact that my husband snored last night, and I didn't want to wake him because he's been on call a lot lately and he needs his sleep, but I couldn't sleep either.

But moving to the guest bed wasn't an option because it's too cold in this house, and the really warm comforters are already on beds!

So I crawled in with my 11-year-old, who may not snore but she sure does flail. So I got no sleep.

Anyway, I'm just feeling a little sorry for myself, and I need to know that I'm not the only one! So you all have to comment on this post after I spill my guts. Deal?

Here's the thing. I have turned myself inside out for the last few months trying to create a great home for the family. Our meals have been great. I've been exercising again. I've kept up with the homeschooling. I'm really trying to invest myself in my nephew (whom we also homeschool).

And I've left my writing to "whenever I can fit it in", which is basically never, or at 7 a.m., because I'm trying to make my family my first priority.

But in the process, it seems as if people now expect that of me. The kids always have one more place they need to be chauffeured to. My extended family wants me to do various things, and seems upset if I have to speak on the weekend they wanted. Friends need me to do things.

But nobody ever asks what I'm writing these days, or what I have planned, or if they can do some stuff for me to give me some time to focus on my dreams.

My primary dream is for my family. Of course it is. But I am also called to write, and I wish that some of my family members would support that really and truly. They always say they support my writing, but they hate it when I get distracted the day before I have to leave for a speaking engagement. They don't like it if I take time at night to write when I could be doing something with them. They don't offer to pray for me, at least not on a consistent basis.

I don't need it. I really don't. I have God, and that's enough. I would just like it sometimes. Does that make me selfish? And does that make any sense?

I just feel like I give and give and all anyone ever wants is more. Because what I'm doing isn't good enough.

Now I feel guilty for writing this because it's there for everyone to see. But that's just how I'm feeling today. I'll probably be better when I get some sleep, but for now Diet Pepsi is going to have to do it. What about you? How are you doing?

To Love, Honor and Vacuum

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Ending the Gift Giving Chaos
I'm going to write about this A LOT in the coming weeks, but I wanted to share with you now, before the gift buying frenzy starts in earnest, what our philosophy is for Christmas gifts.

We believe in following the example of the Three Wise Men, who, after all, were named Wise for a reason! First, they remembered the gifts. You should always remember the gifts on Christmas.

But they gave certain kinds of gifts, and that's what we do, too.

Here they are:

The Gold Gift: Something the kids want.

The Myrrh Gift: Something the kids need. Probably underwear!

The Frankincense Gift: Something to nourish the soul. Last year we gave Becca, my preteen, a subscription to Focus on the Family's Brio magazine. We bought Katie the Outburst Bible edition game.

Other kids may like CDs, a journal, a cool book, or whatever.

And I do these things for my husband, too.

So think about it. It changes the way we see Christmas, because the kids know they're only getting one major thing they want. And they're okay with it!

To Love, Honor and Vacuum

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About Me

Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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