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I've Got the Warm Fuzzies Going On!
I just love all you gals who read me faithfully! It's such a privilege being able to share my thoughts on marriage and family and God with you.

And the last few weeks have been particularly good. I've written about some hard things in marriage, specifically regarding sex, for a few weeks, and the comments have been so honest. It's given me a lot of fodder for more stuff to write about! And I think I see an ebook in my future: Sex Questions You're Afraid to Ask Your Pastor. What do you think?

But what really makes me happy today is the discussion we've had on change in marriage this week. It's just so neat to see how people responded to a commenter who was really having troubles, and then how people went out of their way to encourage her. It shows that blogs really can help people, don't you think?

And then I loved her comments at the end of one post. She said:

By the way, I believe that trying to manipulate a husband is wrong, so I believe it is wrong to change what I am doing as a wife IF it is only so that it will change my husband. My heart needs to be in the right place changing me for GOD.
That's very true. Change should always be about bringing us closer to God, not about manipulation.

But it shows the difficulty in giving people advice on marriage, because there are really fine lines everywhere, aren't there? She's absolutely right. To change just so that your husband will change is wrong. We need to change because that puts us more in line with God.

But sometimes change is necessary just because as men and women we're different. My column for next week that I'm working on right now talks about this. See if you can relate:

Imagine that it’s a Saturday morning, and we’re planning to go cross-country skiing with the kids. After waking up and showering, I start to list out in my head all the things that need to be prepared: the kids have to find their snow pants, and I know Rebecca’s been missing a snow glove since last month; we need to pack a backpack with water and some snacks, and we’d better bring some extra scarves and hats in case we get too wet. A few band-aids wouldn’t hurt, either. Obviously we’ll have to do the dinner dishes from last night, since we all know I can’t leave dishes in the sink if I’m leaving the house. And since we’re going out anyway, we may as well go by the library, because the books are due on Monday, so it’s time to round them up!

Now I’m out of the shower and I have this huge list of things that must be done before we leave. I start doing them, and then go in search of my family, who are downstairs playing the Wii, having a grand old time. I start to get angry. Why weren’t they getting ready like I was? Do they expect me to do everything?

Then I find out they haven’t even had breakfast yet. Now my blood starts to boil.Why was Keith just playing with the the kids instead of giving them their marching orders?

What I’ve learned is that this is my problem, not theirs. No matter how much I may wish it, they are never going to have all the stuff that goes into keeping a family together in their heads the way it’s in mine.

I think my conclusion is going to be that I need to communicate more with my husband about what I need, because when I tell him, he's there for me. But to expect him to think about it first is unrealistic.

And sometimes a lot of marital discord is due to little things like this. We expect our spouse to be just like us. And it doesn't work that way!

I'm going to go play a game with my daughter and my half-brother, and then do some more work getting ready for my blog party on Wednesday.

Have a great Saturday!

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How to Support Him without Being a Doormat
Over at my Wifey Wednesday post, there's been a lot of discussion about whether or not we're just simply blaming the wife for all the problems in the marriage, and I thought I'd better address this one head on.

First of all, absolutely not. Many of us are married to men who don't show us love, appreciation, or respect. We aren't happy, and we need more.

So there are two questions here:

1. Is the church putting the responsibility for change primarily on the wife?
2. How do we change things?

Here's what I would say. The church absolutely is not putting the responsibility on the wife. Have you ever been to a church service on Mother's Day? It's all nice and sweet. There's a sermon on how mothers are God's gift to all of us, and then women get roses or chocolates or something. Now fast forward to Father's Day. What is the typical sermon? Shape up, men. You're ruining your families.

In my experience, the church definitely puts a lot of onus on the husband to shape up, as it should.

But here's the issue, and here's where we skip to the second part of my question: if the husband isn't interested in shaping up, then what do you do? It really does no good to say, "the husband needs to shape up; end of story," if he's not interested in changing. And besides that, very rarely is anything entirely one person's fault. There is always something we can do, even if it just revolves around how to find peace and contentment ourselves.

That's essentially what my book To Love, Honor and Vacuum addresses: how to change YOU so that YOU can be peaceful and contented, even if he never changes. Because the only thing that you have control over is yourself.

If you are waiting for him to change, it is very unlikely that he ever will. First, you aren't doing anything to make him change (nagging doesn't count. That just makes him dig his heels in deeper). And talking to him doesn't count. He can too easily tune you out. You have to change your behaviour and your attitude not to change him, but to help yourself. Do you see the difference?

In the comments, one woman wrote that the church is always telling her to change herself so that the marriage will change, and that doesn't work. But the change I'm talking about isn't becoming a doormat. It's change so that we get our peace in God. It's change so that we find a way to be grateful for what we have (and for what God has given us in Jesus). It's change so that we decide that we are primarily responsible for our own happiness, not our husbands. It's change so that we start ensuring that we have a well-rounded life, and have friends, and interests, and hobbies, so that our lives don't revolve around resenting him.

It's change so that we learn how to love him even if he doesn't return the love in a way we need him to. Again, this doesn't mean becoming a doormat. If he yells when he's angry, remove yourself from the room. If he expects dinner to be ready, but never tells you when he's going to be home, tell him dinner will be ready at a certain time, and after that he'll have to heat it up (I'm talking about someone who treats you with disrespect; not a man who's trying but sometimes gets caught in traffic). If he demeans you in front of his friends, say gently that you would prefer that he not talk like that, and leave the room.

I am not saying you need to accept disrespect and meanness. Absolutely not. But the change I'm talking about means going to God with your feelings, and asking Him to fill your life so that He is your living Water. And then learn how to love yourself and respect yourself again. And learn how to love sacrificially, too. Loving sacrificially is not being a doormat. It's simply modeling Christ, and He was not a doormat.

You are not primarily responsible for your marriage. But you are primarily responsible for your attitudes and your behaviours inside your marriage. Certainly God judges your husband, too, and wants him to love you. But if he doesn't, that isn't an excuse for you to get out of it. You still need to serve and love.

But you can also take steps to make sure that others are treating you with respect. You don't need to accept meanness, and nor should you, because that meanness will adversely affect the children. You can respond quietly and calmly that you would love to talk to him, but you don't think you should be spoken to like that, and when he is ready to talk normally, you really want to hear what he has to say. Do you see the difference?

The commenter seems like she's really angry because Christian women keep telling her that she needs to change, while they're not saying anything to her husband. I'd love to talk to your husband, but as far as I know he's not reading this blog! So I am telling you, the best I can, what can help your marriage using the only tools at your disposal: your own actions.

If we women start resenting our husbands and dig ourselves into a corner, saying, I will only change when he does, we're basically deciding to be miserable forever. Is that what you want?

Or we can decide that we can take control of our own feelings, and go to God with them. We can seek out good friends. We can find hobbies. We can make our lives richer so that we have more emotional batteries and emotional support in our marriages. And then we can start treating him differently.

Men react well when they feel they are competent. They retreat when they feel they are not. If you are always telling him that he is a lousy husband, he will tune you out and stop spending time in the marriage. Is that right? No. But that's how men work. If you want things to change, you have to realize that.

If you can love him, and affirm him in his strengths, you build him up and he is more likely to respond to you. But even if he doesn't, you are learning how to be a bigger person. And that is worth something in and of itself, isn't it?

Unconditional love and acceptance does an amazing thing to a person. When you can love your husband, without strings, and he senses that, chances are he will respond. Some men never will, but most will react to it. Again, I'm not saying you accept verbal abuse (let alone physical abuse). But you need to love him as he is, and stop waiting for him to change to be happy.

I hope that helps. I know it sounds harsh. But nobody has a magic wand that can change him. You work with what you have. And you have your own actions, and you have God's help to love sacrificially. Those two things can transform your life. Don't underestimate them!

My podcast last week is on this topic, and might be helpful. Listen in here.

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Don't Worry, Be Happy?
Every Friday my syndicated column appears in several newspapers across North America. Sometimes I just love them; other times I write what I really feel, and then have second thoughts. This is one such column.

So tell me the truth: was I too harsh? I do believe what I said, but maybe I should have tempered it more? I feel like if you were a woman suffering with depression, this column would have been hard to read.

Recently, my cousin, a physiotherapist, treated a spry woman a century old. He took the opportunity to ask her what the greatest advance was that she had witnessed over her lifetime. She paused before confidently declaring, “Bars of soap!” Until then, she had struggled with lye to make soap herself. Soap is such a simple thing, but it made her life infinitely easier.

Throughout history women have lived physically difficult lives which carried an emotional toll. It’s not hard to see where that stereotype of the nineteenth century housewife addicted to laudanum came from. And yet I’m not sure our microwaves and our washing machines and our fast food and even our careers have made modern women much happier.

Are we happy? We’re told we should be. After all, from the time we are small, we are told that the sky is the limit! Finally women have been freed from our shackles and we can be fulfilled! In fact, our whole lives should be fulfilling! We are the generation that will reap the benefits of what feminists have fought for.

And then we grow up, have babies who don’t sleep, husbands or boyfriends who seem only to want one thing, and careers which are impossible to juggle with sick babies, day care schedules, and gymnastics lessons. Where is all this fulfillment and happiness we were promised?

Part of the problem, I think, is that we’re aiming for the wrong thing. I can’t think of a worse route to happiness than to always be wondering if you’ve achieved it. After all, if you’re constantly asking yourself, “am I happy?”, you will always find reasons why you’re not. You’re not sleeping well. No one thanks you enough for all you do. You don’t have nice clothes. Your husband can’t figure out what a mop is for. And the list goes on. If you’re constantly saying to yourself, “I’ll be happy when…”, and you can fill in the blank, then chances are you never will be happy. If your wish were to come true, something else would pop up that you want just as much. That’s the nature of the quest for happiness. It’s rooted in circumstances, and it makes us passive recipients of what happens to us.

Instead of aiming for happiness, then, I think we should aim for purpose and character. If we throw ourselves into making a difference in others’ lives, and into living out our values day to day, we’ll have fulfilling lives, because these are the things that ultimately matter. When we focus on our own satisfaction, though, we’re bound to be disappointed because we’re so self-focused. This doesn’t mean that we ignore our own legitimate needs; only that our own feelings aren’t the ultimate arbiter of whether or not our lives are worthwhile.

We all need time to ourselves, and time to rejuvenate. We need people to love, and people who love us in return. But these relationships don’t just magically happen.

The best route to fulfilling relationships is to learn how to love, not to wait around to get the kind of love you want. I’m not talking about becoming a doormat, but waiting for someone to meet all your needs is a guarantee that you’ll always wind up with the short end of the stick. Learning to love yourself, and then learning to love others appropriately and sacrificially is, in the end, far more fulfilling than waiting for your husband or boyfriend or friends or children to become perfect.

Besides, if we decide that our feelings are what matter most, we can act in direct opposition to the values that really feed our souls. We may give up on a marriage too early. We may sacrifice our children’s happiness for a relationship that we want to pursue. We’re focused on the short-term, and in the process we throw away the things that truly give ultimate satisfaction: stable relationships; inner peace that you’ve lived according to your values; even your own personal sense of honour.

Feelings are not a good measure of whether or not you’re fulfilled. A far better one is to see whether or not you’re living out your values. When we live our lives focusing on what is long-lasting and purposeful, we find inner contentment and peace. And ultimately, isn’t that a better route to happiness?

Leave a comment! I'd love to know what you think!

And don't miss my Reality Check columns! Sign up to receive them free in your inbox every week here.

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Do You Have a Blog?
Hi everybody!

If you have a blog with decent readership, or if you want some more traffic, I'm looking for people to be blog stops on my scavenger hunt next week for Honey, I Don't Have a Headache Tonight: Help for women who want to feel more in the mood! Just leave a comment and let me know!


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How to Forgive Your Husband
If you can't forgive your husband for something that he's done, your marriage will never thrive. It will slowly disintegrate. Forgiveness is THE issue in marriage.

I know when I was first married I had lots to forgive (as did my husband). We hurt each other over the first few years, because we were both focused on getting our own needs met, and not on how to give to each other. When we were both able to put the other first, things got so much better.

It's been a while since I've uploaded a new video, so here's one from an appearance on 100 Huntley Street Full Circle where the girls on the couch are all talking marriage and forgiveness. Hope you enjoy it!

And don't forget that it's only 6 days away from my Honey, I Don't Have a Headache Tonight party! Don't miss it! We're going to have prizes, a Twitter party, a Facebook party (the page is here, or just search for "Sheila Wray Gregoire's Books" in Facebook), a teleseminar, and more! Great prizes for a blog scavenger hunt, too! Find out more here.

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FREE Essay Planner Outline
Quick note for homeschooling parents (and any parents of middle schoolers or high schoolers out there):

I've just posted a FREE essay planner for students to use. You can get it here!

That is all. Regular posting will resume tomorrow! :)

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Always Check Your Child's Homework
This is going around the web, and it is too funny. I just had to post it.

And here's the note the mom wrote to the teacher the next day:

Dear Mrs. Jones,

I wish to clarify that I am not now, nor have I ever been, an exotic dancer.

I work at Home Depot and I told my daughter how hectic it was last week before the blizzard hit. I told her we sold out every single shovel we had, and then I found one more in the back room, and that several people were fighting over who would get it. Her picture doesn't show me dancing around a pole. It's supposed to depict me selling the last snow shovel we had at Home Depot.

From now on I will remember to check her homework more thoroughly before she turns it in.

Mrs. Smith

Isn't that awesome? Kids can get you in a lot of trouble...

h/t NYC Educator, who h/t Schoolgal

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Wifey Wednesday: Helping Your Husband Feel Strong

Last weekend my husband and I flew out to Vancouver for a conference with Family Life Canada. We speak with the around the country at marriage conferences, and this was our staff retreat.

Loads of fun and loads of laughs, but one of the nuggets I gleaned from the time together was from a marriage talk on how to communicate better.

I know I've been talking about sex a lot here on Wifey Wednesdays lately (and next week is my HUGE party for Honey, I Don't Have a Headache Tonight), but I want to take just a minute and talk about something else today.

Here's the gist: men like to feel like they know what they are doing. If they feel like they're not competent, they'll move on to another thing. So if you're always nagging your husband to fix something around the house, and then you berate him for not doing it right, he will rarely fix anything ever again. He doesn't like to fail. Get it?

Or if he takes you out to dinner, but he chooses the wrong restaurant, don't let him know that right away. You'll chase him off planning dates again. He doesn't want to fail.

But he does like to feel competent! So spend some time with your husband in areas that he feels confident, because then it's like you've entered his favourite world. He will feel so affirmed and so connected to you, in the same way you would if he sat down and talked to you for hours just about how you're feeling.

Here's how it works. My husband loves history, and especially military history. He knows everything about the Pelopenesian Wars (I know that's spelled wrong), or the civil war, or the Seven Years War, or anything about war in modern history. He and friends play out war games. He reads war stuff. He lives and breathes it.

But it doesn't really interest me. So I have two choices. I can ignore it altogether, and let him do his little thing, but then when we get together insist that we talk about something important, or every now and then, when we're out walking, I can ask him a question about a battle. And then suddenly, this man who wasn't talking a lot before, will open up with a stream of information.

And he'll feel very affirmed, because I have asked about something where he can teach me. And if I try really hard, I can see that it really is interesting.

One of the mistakes that women often make is to leave their husbands hobbies as if these have no relevance for them. They're just something that the men do on their own, and we have to humour them. But that's not true. They're something that excites our husbands. It's something they think about deeply in their inner world. And don't you want to share that?

Now I'm not saying that you have to actually participate. If your husband plays poker with the guys every Friday night, he probably doesn't want you there. My husband has fun with his friends playing his games, and I would wreck the dynamic. But that doesn't mean that he doesn't want me to be interested.

Women talk more than men do, and so we often determine the subjects that are open for discussion in our marriages. Don't leave his hobbies out. Maybe it's his work that he loves to talk about. Maybe it's computers. Whatever he loves doing, enter that part of his life. Just listen. And afterwards, he'll probably feel much closer to you because you've shared something precious to him.

Tonight, what are you going to talk about? What does your husband love? Ask him something about it. Let him share it. And see what happens!

Don't forget about my party next week for Wifey Wednesday! I'll have a blog scavenger hunt, a teleseminar, a Twitter party, and more! Find out more here!

Do you have any marriage thoughts for us today? Why not write a post on your own blog, and then come back here and link to it in Mr. Linky!

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Works for Me Wednesday: Talking to Kids About Puberty

Probably one of the scariest parts of being a parent is that knowledge that one day you're going to have to tell your children about sex. I know I wasn't really thrilled about it.

I always decided that when my daughters asked, I would tell them, at an age appropriate level. But my oldest daughter never asked.

Now I hit puberty quite young; it was right around my eleventh birthday. So when Rebecca was 10 1/2, I decided it was time to spill the beans on everything.

I took her away for the weekend, and we listened to a CD set called Passport2Purity (Book & CD Set) It's put out by Family Life, the group that I do marriage conferences with, and it's really good. There are five talks, and activities to do with each talk. We only listened to the first three, which had to do with what happens at puberty and sex. The other two are more about vowing to stay pure and deciding about dating, and since my 10 1/2 year old was grossed out by the whole thing and would have vowed to anything at that point, I thought it was better to wait until the idea of it seemed at least a little enticing!

The activities are easy to do, but illustrate well what sex is supposed to be like. And we had a good talk about what it means to grow up, and have your period, etc. etc.

With my second daughter, everything was very different. She asked questions at 8 or 9, and I told her everything. And she was awfully funny about it. (Sample question: how long does he have to leave it in for?). I told the whole sad story in this podcast: When Bees Come Buzzing, Teaching Your Kids About Sex.

But something else happened. We've been to Africa, to an orphanage in Kenya, twice now (and my mother is going again next month). And one of the big projects I've had is teaching the girls how to make cloth menstrual pads, because they just can't afford disposables. And the cloth ones are really cute!

This Sunday I'm even having a sewing party where dozens of women are coming over and we're hoping to mass produce them before my mother leaves for Africa.

The girls think I'm gross, but awfully funny, because I'm always collecting flannel and fleece for my "craft project". So they know all about it.

But when they each got their periods, I also decided it was time to teach them how to handle money. So I gave each of them $100 and a large set of cloth pads. I told them they could use the cloth, and keep the money, or they could take the money and buy disposable pads. They tried the disposables, and both decided to go with the cloth. They're more comfortable. So they only buy the disposables when they're going out.

I figure that they may as well learn to manage money! And they stick the pads in the washer, too, so they manage that as well.

I wanted to do one more rite of passage when they hit thirteen, so I held a blessing party for Rebecca. I haven't had one for Katie yet, since she's only 11, but it was a great time with Becca. I invited important women in her life over and they all said a blessing over her, while we did our nails and enjoyed a chocolate fountain. You can read all about it here.

What I've found, though, is that the kids don't have a problem asking me anything now. Because I was up front with them from the beginning, and because we tend to be open about these sorts of things in our family, they really will talk to me. It takes courage to discuss growing up with your kids, but it is worth it. I would so much rather they get their information from me than from anybody else.

So go for it! Once your kids hit 8 or 9, look for opportunities to talk with them. And at 10 or 11 for girls, or 11 or 12 for boys, make sure they do the Passport to Purity weekend with you (or your husband, in the case of boys). Then start giving them increasing responsibility as they hit puberty. It really is an exciting time for everybody, and it's fun to see what kind of person they're becoming!

What about you? Have you had experience talking to kids about sex? How did it go? Leave your ideas in the comments!

Thanks for dropping by for Works for Me Wednesday! Why not stay and look around a while? I've got great posts on marriage and parenting, including my Wifey Wednesday posts!

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Podcast: Don't Let Pornography Win
I am mad about pornography.

Are you?

I think we should be livid. It is stealing so much from us.

First, of course, are the husbands who become addicted to it, cheating on their wives with airbrushed images.

Then it is the men in their late teens and early twenties who become so into pornography that they lose interest in real relationships.

And let's not forget the impact of pornography on young people, who see it all too easily when they're just starting to get sexual feelings. Boy, does that mess them up!

But it can mess us up, too. (30% of all pornography users are now female). And it certainly messes up men. It rewires their brains so that what is arousing is no longer a real, living, breathing woman, but is instead only an image. And even when the pornography addiction is broken, it's difficult to have a healthy sexual relationship because the wife doesn't seem attractive anymore.

In today's podcast, I give a short overview of the issues. Listen in, and then pray! And install parental controls for the parents as well as the kids!

And if you like my podcasts, don't forget to subscribe! Just hit one of the subscription services on the right hand column at the podcast.

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Jetlag, Podcast, and Why I'm Discombobulated
Good morning, all!

At least, I think it's morning.

After spending five hours on a plane yesterday, and several at airports, I'm really not sure what time it is.

I managed to go to bed at a decent time last night and fell asleep right away, even though my body clock was supposed to be three hours behind. But I'm awake now and everything is in slow motion and I can barely keep my eyes open. So I'm seriously considering going back to bed!

To top it all off, my podcast hosting site seems to be down, so I can't upload my podcast. Hopefully later today I can get it up; it's an important one on why pornography is so bad in a marriage (Hint: it's not just because he's cheating on you; it goes way deeper than that). And women can fall into the same trap.

As I was on this speakers' retreat this weekend, I met a bunch of new speakers with Family Life Canada, the organization that does the marriage conferences that I speak at. And--gasp--some of these speakers were younger than we are. We've always been the youngest, but we're not anymore. My husband will be 40 this year, and I'm catching up.

What with having a 14-year-old daughter, I'm starting to feel like I'm aging. Being in one's 30s isn't bad, but one's 40s?

And yet I wouldn't go back in time for anything. I am so glad to be where I am now. I have a great marriage that is built on so much history. We had to struggle through our son's death, and a lot of issues early on, and even some stuff much later as God was still refining us. But we're rock solid now, and I love him to bits, and I wouldn't want to go back to the years where we were still trying to figure out where we were going.

And parenting? The children are so fun now. I can have real conversations with them. I wish, sometimes, that I could go back for just 15 minutes and hold them as babies again, or see them as toddlers trying to clambour up into my lap. But I guess that's what grandchildren are eventually for: to remind you of those good days. For now, I'm just grateful for what I have, and I'm excited to see where life takes us next.

Several of my friends mourn their high school days. They wish they could go back to being teenagers. You couldn't pay me enough to go back then. My life is better each and every day. That doesn't mean it's perfect; it just means that I'm growing, and my relationships are deepening, and I'm content. Why go back?

It's sad when people aren't satisfied with life, but the answer isn't to look backwards. It's just to build on what you have now.

So we're getting older, and I can live with that. Now if only I could just wake up.

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I'll Be Back...
I'm in transit Monday returning from a conference I was at this weekend, so I won't be posting like usual.

I was out near Vancouver at the headquarters of Family Life Canada, at a speakers' training weekend. My husband and I have been speaking at marriage conferences through them for about four years, and it is such a good time! We just love it! It's fun getting away together for the weekend, and having someone else pay for the hotel. It's fun sharing our story, even the really hard parts. But the best part is that we feel like God is touching people through us, and that's such a privilege.

I was in a session on Saturday about counseling couples who are in crisis due to an affair. We may be called on to do crisis counseling (though we're not trained for anything else), and they gave us some really useful pointers.

But one neat statistic was that 80% of couples who actually come for help after an affair make it. If they don't come for help, only 20% make it.

I talk to so many couples at these conferences who seem totally messed up. You hear the women talk about their husbands, and their husbands sound like total jerks (though it's really doubtful that they're as bad as the women say). But you think to yourself, these are the good couples. They at least came. The ones who didn't are even worse.

Most couples who come to a marriage conference, of course, aren't doing that badly. For them it's like an oil change; it's routine maintenance to make sure they're staying close. But many are in crisis.

And that crisis could be avoided if more people took the time before something bad hit to make sure they had the right tools for marriage. We spend so much time planning the wedding but so little planning the marriage. And marriage is hard. You have to decide to put someone else's needs first. You have to decide to love, even if you don't feel it. You have to decide to have compassion, even if they don't deserve it. It's not easy.

But it is so rewarding. There really is nothing better than an intimate marriage. We're going to be starting some premarital counseling with a couple that we know who will be getting married in May, and I'm so excited. To be able to talk to people before the problems come up is so exciting.

If you're in a marriage where things are going well, rejoice. But don't just coast. Make it better. Buy some great books on marriage. Go to a conference. Learn how to really love.

We survived a lot, including the death of our son, some major trust issues, and some intimacy issues early in our marriage. But we're stronger for it. And for that, I'm very grateful.

I'll talk to you Tuesday!

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Kids Spell Love T-I-M-E
I have a love-hate relationship with the kids' bedtime. On the one hand, I love hugging my 11-year-old, who is my huggy bear. On the other hand, I love the fact that the kids are going to bed, and now I'll have an hour to myself before I have to follow!

But my 14-year-old has recently decided that bedtime is the best time to bare her soul. So I'm starting to find that putting her to bed is not a hug-and-prayer kind of routine. It's hug, and pray, then lie down with her and chat for 45 minutes. Would I rather be having a bath? Knitting a sweater? Surfing the web? A part of me, sure. I crave time alone. But on the other hand, I am so so happy that she wants to talk to me. And it's our best bonding time. I only have four more years with her; I am going to use them to the best of my ability.

That brings me to our online book study of my book, To Love, Honor and Vacuum. Heart of the Matter Online has been studying it, and though I'm a few weeks behind them, I want to talk about their review of chapter 8, Kids Spell Love T-I-M-E.
Have you ever spent your entire day yelling, "come on, hurry up, we've got to go?" Do you ever feel like you're so consumed with the tasks that you have to get done that you have no time to love those dearest to you?

That's what chapter 8 is all about!

Here's what Lori says:

Just yesterday I was listening to the news and a new report came out with the same sad story.

“Spending a lot of time watching TV, playing video games and surfing the Web makes children more prone to a range of health problems including obesity and smoking, U.S. researchers said on Tuesday.”

The sad reality is that we aren’t creating relationships, if we are avoiding each other. The fact that we are here on this site as homeschoolers shows that we have made the education of our children a priority, but what about fostering a real, honest and respectful relationship. We know what we envision for the future, at least I do….it’s my adult children coming home with Godly spouses, forging onward with the values that we’ve passed down to them. Well, I know only two things…God’s plans are not always mine, and raising Godly, confident kids is not going to be easy.

But it is possible, and even probable, if we put God first and take our responsibility seriously!
And that doesn't mean we live a serious life. In fact, it's just the opposite! When we start prioritizing nurturing our children's souls, we'll laugh more. Love more. And enjoy more.
I think today's generation of parents is basically parenting by accident. There's no plan. There's no goal, except maybe to get them through school. Their main aim is to enjoy life and have fun. What they don't realize is that, if you parent by accident, you will lose your kids. Our culture is too strong, and it will pull them in.
If we want to raise self-confident, independent children who are generous and loving, we need to parent on purpose. We need to take that time to figure out their love languages, and spend the time that's needed to breathe into their lives and sort things out.
And this doesn't stop once kids grow. In fact, I'm finding in the teen years that my kids need me even more, even if it is in a different way. They may not need me to bath them and choose their clothes, but they do need me to help them sort through peer issues, and identity crises, and sibling crises. They need me to help them form good character and make good decisions. And they want to talk to me, but only because I've put in the time.
My kids really are a joy. That's the fun part: when we spend time and put in the work, our kids become really fun to be with. And our family is fun. That doesn't mean there aren't hard days; only that the joy in knowing that I am living out my priorities sweeps over everything else.
It is tiring to be a mom. Sometimes you do just want to crawl into a hole, or lock yourself in the bathroom, just to have some time to yourself. I am not saying that you can never take that time! Indeed, in this chapter, I show how to balance your time so that you don't become totally enmeshed with your kids. But they need us, and when we take that time, life can be an amazing ride!
If you're feeling overwhelmed right now, read Lori's review. But don't stop there. Right now I'm at a training conference for marriage speakers, and one thing that we're being drilled home about is that one of the most dangerous times in a marriage is women's mid-life crisis, which tends to happen in her thirties when the kids are in toddlerhood and a little bit beyond. She works hard, gets little appreciation, and finds herself asking, "is this how I want to spend my life? Is there more to it than this?"
There is! You don't need to live your life exhausted. Life can be fulfilling, fun, and meaningful, if you arrange your relationships right so that you get what you need, but the children and your husband respect you and love you, too. To Love, Honor and Vacuum can help you make sure your priorities are being lived out--without giving up yourself!
It's on special this month, for only $11! I know it will help you organize your life and feel more purposeful! Let's start the new year off right.

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When the World Seems Ugly
"The more I see of the world, the more dissatisfied I am with it."
Elizabeth Bennett, Pride & Prejudice

I remember thinking that sentence, over and over, this week.

When we live in our own little bubble it's easy to think the world is a beautiful place. We're with our children, and as annoying as they may sometimes be, we know that they are gifts from God and that they are precious. They make our lives richer.

We live in our hometown where we may know good people, and sense people's kindness.

But sometimes, when you travel, all those illusions are taken away and you come face to face with the world we really live in.

I've been traveling a little bit this week, and I've just felt this strong malaise. It's not that where I am is worse than my hometown; it's just that when you drive by things day after day you stop seeing them. But when everything is new, you see the ugliness in all its glory.

What do you see when you walk through an airport lounge? I saw magazine after magazine of women in bathing suits, or barely any clothing at all. I saw headlines about lifestyles that are truly gross.

I saw novels displayed called things like "The Skinny B****" , and a bunch of other things that were quite ugly.

The people who were waiting for the airport shuttle "entertained" us with stories of trying to find drugs in Europe, and watching a movie about quite disgusting sex acts (which they explained). Both husband and wife were in their mid 50s and looked quite respectable on the outside.

I saw people talking on cell phones about how to make more money (not that there's anything wrong with money, but in the context it just seemed like everybody was greedy). I saw ad after ad for how vacations and money and cars will make you happy. The news was on every TV around me, and I heard about the subway shooting in Toronto, and about the glee that many Americans were expressing because abortion restrictions would finally be lifted.

And I saw young people in their late teens and early twenties getting away south, obviously prepared for a rather inebriated week.

I know I sound like a prude as I write this, but I just wanted to see two married people with their arms around each other, or someone having fun with their children. None of that.

Sleaze is everywhere. It is the norm. And whether we like it or not, we start internalizing the messages about sex, about fun, about happiness. Even if we are Christians, this is the culture in which we live. The messages are everywhere. And unless you fight against it, it's going to permeate your consciousness, too.

One of the comments left this week on one of my posts about sex was went something like this. A woman was abused when she was a child, and became promiscuous because of it. Now she's married, but she finds she doesn't enjoy sex. It was more fun when it was anonymous. What does she do?

This is exactly what I'm talking about. Our society teaches that it's anonymous sex that is fun. It says that what is sexy is having everybody that you can. And when you combine that with actually acting it out, you rewire parts of your brain that respond sexually. Your body starts to associate the wrong things with arousal. And now what are you going to do?

One of the problems that men have when they're trying to break a pornography addiction is that while they may have stopped looking at porn, and while they may even have stopped focusing on the images in their heads, it's still hard to make love to their wives because that's not what arouses them anymore. So they've banished the bad, but they can't bring the good in. They're stuck in no-man's land.

And we women can face the same thing, though for a slightly different reason. The arousal function in our brain doesn't work.

I talk about this at length in Chapter 4 of Honey, I Don't Have a Headache Tonight: Help for women who want to get more in the mood. But the essential problem is that you need to reawaken proper sexuality.

It's there. It really is. It's just been buried. So here's how to attack the problem:

1. Pray about it. I know it sounds weird to pray about sex, but God knows what you're doing anyway, and He wants you to enjoy it!

2. Banish anything that tells you lies about sex. Stop watching television that promotes anonymous sex, like Friends or How I Met Your Mother.

3. Keep trying to enhance the intimacy in your marriage. This post on How to Awaken Love describes it in more detail, but what you need to do is make the spiritual connection that we feel when we make love with our spouse sexy again. That's at such a deep level, and nothing else can compare to it. So we need to start truly experiencing that kind of intimacy. So do what I said in this post. And take your time making love so that your body can respond properly. It may mean drawing it out for a long time until you start responding. But don't give up!

This isn't a problem that it going to be solved overnight. Think of it like physical therapy after an accident. You have to work at it consistently for a long time to retrain your body to act properly. That's what we need to: retrain our bodies to act properly, to the signals from our brains. It's going to take a while. But don't give up!

We live in an ugly world, and that world can wreak havoc with our emotions, our goals, our dreams, and even our sexuality. We have to fight it. Fill your homes with beautiful things. Make the messages in your life beautiful. And pray. You just may find that life really is beautiful again!Bookmark and Share

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"Is That All She Ever Writes About?"
On Wednesday I titled my Wifey Wednesday post "Is That All He Ever Thinks About"? And I wrote about sex.

It seems like that's been the subject of the day lately! I haven't planned on writing about it that much--after all, there is more to marriage. But everytime I write about it some really interesting comments come up, and then I just have to respond.

One funny one this week was someone writing exactly that: is that all you ever write about it? I think she meant it in a humorous way.

And in reading the comments, I see a bunch of other questions that I really want to respond on.

So bear with me for a little while longer! My post tomorrow will likely address this, too.

And I do appreciate your feedback! I'll be doing a teleseminar on sex pretty soon, so you can send me your questions anonymously live there and I'll try to answer them, too! More on that later.

I have to run to a meeting now, so I don't have time to reply in full to all the questions, but rest assured that I have read them, and the answers are coming soon!

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Learning to Speak Teen
Every Friday my syndicated column appears in a dozen newspapers. Here's this week's. Hope you like it! And for my primarily American readers, excuse the few references to our Canadian political system. I think you'll still get a laugh out of it! And for my fellow believers, I always think of OMG as "Oh, my goodness". Just so you know.

I live in Hormone Central. Both my daughters are moody, and the slightest little thing can set them off. Come to think of it, the slightest little thing sets me off, too, but before they got all hormonal they could always get me to snap me out of it. Now they wallow down there with me. Things are looking grim for my husband over the next few years!

But hormones are not the only new thing at our house. As my daughters have ventured online a bit (in a very safe manner!), and have begun to exchange emails and participate in chats (with only approved friends), I have been amazed at the strange new language being spoken by the younger members of our species. It does not appear to observe common spelling patterns, and definitely eschews punctuation.
Shakespeare once had Hamlet utter those immortal words which echo the reflection of many of our yearning hearts: “To be or not to be, that is the question.” Today’s teens, though, if faced with that same conundrum, would be more likely to express it thus: “2 B OR NOT 2 B TAHT SI TEH QU3STION !!!!!!1 LOL”. Sort of loses something in translation, does it not?

While most schools ban cell phone usage during class, I have been assured by many of my daughters’ generation that the ability to text during a lesson is considered a highly prized skill. And so our offspring, while being taught such things as John F. Kennedy’s rousing speech, “ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country,” at that very moment may type it like this: “ASK NOT WUT UR COUNTRY CAN DO FOR U ASK WUT U CAN DO FOR UR COUNTRY!1!!11!1! OMG LOL.”

I thought that computers and email were going to turn us into a society where keyboarding skills are paramount, but it seems that many youth are avoiding actually conquering the keyboard, choosing instead to use the minimum number of keys possible to get a point across. I can’t help wondering if, in the process, a new language is being created.

Think of all the acronyms we now see online or on our phones. Some are more easily recognizable: LOL (laugh out loud), or “ROFL” (roll on the floor laughing). LOL means it made you smile. ROFL means you may have snorted. ROFLCOPTER is “rolling on the floor and spinning around”. That’s when you may actually have chuckled. Hyperbole, it seems, is essential in internet circles.

Then there are other acronyms, like BFF, meaning best friend forever, (or at least until those hormones hit again), or ilu, meaning I love you. So many new ones pop up all the time you may need a guide, and never fear, many “parents’ guides to teen chat acronyms” are available online, so you can tell what it is your teens are actually saying when they write something like: “SCNR SOMY POS”. (Sorry, could not resist. Sick of me yet? Watch what you’re saying; parent over my shoulder.”)

Such things have already entered into the vernacular. Perhaps in forty years they will be the established form of English grammar. After all, Shakespeare would be appalled at how we speak today; is it any surprise that we would similarly be appalled at how our own language is devolving? Let’s look at how a future budget might be reported in a newspaper, using this burgeoning internet English:

OMG! PM & FM read the budget 2day. ROTFL! !!$ 4 army, 0$$ for schools. :(. Opp Leader said we need $$ for seniors not tx cuts. PM said Opp guy = loser but if he votes 4 budget they can B BFF! Opp Leader said not in my lifetime LOL. Will budget pass? Who nos?

Looks pretty ridiculous, doesn’t it? On the other hand, given the antics of many politicians surrounding this budget and the supposed coalition, perhaps that’s about the intellectual level Ottawa is operating at right now. LOL.

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Shhhh. You Shouldn't Talk About THAT!
Okay, my lovely readers. You are all a very funny group.

Yesterday I posted two posts. One was on Hope Chests for your teens. The other was on s-e-x. Hope chests has 12 comments. S-e-x has none, and only one person participated in Mr. Linky.

So which post do you think had more readership?

If you said Hope Chests, you'd be wrong! Yesterday was this blog's busiest day, as links came in from all over for the "intimacy" post. You girls are reading it! You're just not saying anything about it.

I understand. When I was first on television talking about Honey, I Don't Have a Headache Tonight, I had to practice talking about sex in front of a mirror so I didn't look awkward. And my husband and I speak at marriage conferences, I had to practice saying even more explicit things than are on television. But you know what? People appreciate it. Nothing I'm saying is bad. It's all information we want. Which is why I get so sad that the church doesn't talk about it more. It seems that most of the sex info we get is from secular books or the media. And that's not right.

Part of the problem, I think, is that the media distorts sex so badly that it loses the beauty. Our culture has turned sex into something that is purely physical, where the relationship doesn't matter anymore. It's a search for that next big physical high, which I think is why people are trying weirder and weirder the things. The regular seems so tame when sex is only about the body.

But when there's an emotional and a spiritual aspect as well--which is how it is supposed to be--sex becomes beautiful.

I have a great talk that I give on sex that hardly anybody will hire me to do. In a way I understand. When I speak to women's groups, people don't want to exclude those who are single or widowed, etc. But I also think that women desperately need to talk about this. That's why I'm doing Wifey Wednesdays, and why most of those posts have to do with sex. We need good information, and we need a place to ask questions.

But at the same time, I think the church has largely ceded this ground to secular "sex experts". By not talking about sex very much, we've given the impression that we have nothing worthwhile to say. That sex really is better out there in the secular world than it is in our boring homes with one woman and one man for life. That we really have very little fun, and are quite prudish.

Actually, when you look at studies, the opposite is the case. Christians have better sex than non-Christians do. No matter what you may think of all those people gracing the covers of magazines in the grocery store, chances are you and your husband are more skilled than they are. After all, you have a lifetime to practice on just one person. They don't.

I wrote about how much better Christian sex is right here. But I still think we need a place to talk about it, and not just read about it.

Recently I conducted a teleseminar (a web conference) on sex. I talked about the difference between men's and women's sex drives, I talked about what sex was designed for, and I talked about all the things that could go wrong. It was great fun. But this teleseminar had a feature whereby people could type in questions anonymously that only I could see. As soon as I asked for questions, they came flooding in, faster than I could talk about them. It was great fun, and boy did I answer some that even made me blush! But where else are we going to get the information? We have to have some safe place to talk about this in a biblical way.

So given the response to the post yesterday, which was my biggest read one yet, I'd like to start offering some more teleseminars where we can talk, and you can ask questions. Anybody interested? If you are, all you need to do is sign up with your email address. I hope you can join me soon!

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Wifey Wednesday: Why Is That All He Ever Thinks About?

Last week I wrote about how to get in the mood if you're not--and how it's important to remember how much our husbands actually need sex.

In the comments, someone wrote this in reply:

I don't seem to fit into either of the two categories you describe. After several years of marriage, it just occured to me that I wasn't interested in sex anymore because it never seemed to be about love, but only him having an orgasm. If there is no sex, there is no marriage. It is very sad that the only thing that matters about me is him being able to have sex with me. If I don't have sex, then he doesn't love me. I am convinced that sex is the only thing that matters to a man. Therefore, I am worth nothing more than my ability to sexually satisfy a man. That's a horrible truth that has been too hard for me to bear and I decided to just stop being intimate. Being a woman is like winning some kind of anti-lottery. You're worth absolutely nothing.

Can you feel how much pain she's in? I sure can. And I totally feel for her, so today I really want to talk to women like her.

First, let me say that sixteen years ago I could have written that paragraph myself. I was so disenchanted with sex, and it seemed like it was wrecking my marriage because Keith wanted it and I didn't, and all we seemed to do was fight over it. It was terrible. And I couldn't see what all the fuss was about. It really seemed like God made sex just for men, and then He told us women that we had to do it if we're married, almost like it's legal prostitution.

I know that sounds harsh, but I'm saying it just to give any women out there in a similar boat encouragement. I truly do understand.

When I was going through this I read a few Christian books about sex that told me how I had to for my husband, and how it was this beautiful thing, and I thought the authors were off their rockers. I was so angry when I read them, and since I happened to be in the bath at the time (that's where I read most of my books), I ended up drowning them, good and dead.

But I don't feel like that now, and so I want to focus this post on how I overcame that.

First, I do think the advice in my last Wifey Wednesday post is still right, even for this woman who is just not interested. Go back and read that now, if you haven't already, and then come back here!

She says that the advice is useless (I'm paraphrasing), because she's just not interested in sex anymore, so why should she care?

Let's take a step back. Let's say you've been told your whole life that something is good. That something is amazing. That something is earth shattering. And then you experience it, and it seems not that good. It's boring, it's a lot of work, and it's a little degrading. What do you do? At this point you have two choices. You can decide to forget about it, and just believe the rest of the world is totally deluded, or you can take a deep breath and say, "I must be missing something. Why don't I put some effort into this so I can figure out what it is I'm missing, because I'd really like to be deliriously happy like everyone else seems to be, too."

The second approach is better, but it's hard to get to because it requires seeing past your own feelings. But when you're in a car accident, you have to go through physical therapy to learn to walk again. It seems hopeless. It seems like you may never make progress. But you do it because you know it's worth it.

In this case, you may not know it's worth it because you've never experienced how great sex can be. Instead it seems to come between you and your husband. But trust me, if you put the work in, you can come out on the other side. Don't settle for a lousy sex life, or no sex life at all. It can be better. It really can. So do something about it!

Here's the second point. This woman seems very angry at her husband because he wants it so much. He basically seems like a beast in her eyes, because all he wants is physical release. And if that's how he actually experiences love, then that's pathetic.

Again, extremely common feelings for women. When sex isn't that great for you, and he's so focused on it, then there does seem something rather infantile about our him. Our husbands have no self-control. They're so immature. They haven't risen above it the way we have.

But here's where you really have to step outside of yourself for a minute. Your husband honestly does need sex in a way that you don't, and THIS ISN'T WRONG. I know it feels wrong to you, but it truly isn't. I think we women need to let go a little bit. We like being in control and sex, when it's good, makes us very vulnerable and very open. I think that's part of what can repel some women, because it doesn't seem quite proper. But we're not supposed to be proper all the time. And God created sex as a passionate expression of how He feels about us. If you're never experienced that when you're making love, you need to.

So here's what I would say: with women, our feelings usually follow our minds. If you're telling yourself that sex is silly at best and degrading at worst, that it is all for him, and that he is an animal for wanting it that much, you will never be in the mood. If, on the other hand, you tell yourself, sex is great, and one day I will experience it the way it's supposed to, then you may start to get in the mood.

Start believing that it can be wonderful. Start believing that one day you will get there. Start believing that God actually made it for you, too.

And then talk to your husband about it. Tell him that you do want it to be good, you just can't see how right now. But that's where you're aiming for. And ask him to help take you there. Buy some books on how to make sex good! Read them together. Take my advice from last week! Pray about it.

And come to my February 4 online party for Honey, I Don't Have a Headache Tonight: Help for women who want to feel more in the mood. It's going to be fun, and I know that there will be some words that will encourage you, because I truly have been there, too!

If you want to hear more about the difference between men's and women's sex drives, my audio download "Honey, I Don't Have a Headache Tonight" is a hilarious 45 minute walk through the problems that can occur in the bedroom--and how we as women can overcome them!

And now, have you ever felt like sex is hopeless? Or do you have any other advice for us? Share it in the Mr. Linky! Go back to your own blog and write a Wifey Wednesday post (use the picture at the top of this post as a header, if you'd like), and then come back here and enter the URL of that post in the Mr. Linky! Thanks!

And if you liked this post, please Stumble It! Or share it on Facebook by hitting the Share button below!

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Works for Me Wednesday: Hope Chests

The verb tense is wrong in my title. It's not "Works for Me Wednesday" today. It's "I'm planning for it to work for me Wednesday". Because I haven't actually done this yet. But I've thought about it, and it's a great idea, so I'm passing it along!

This week my oldest daughter turned 14, and one of my friends phoned me up to ask what to get her. Her preference was some kitchen stuff to go in her hope chest, which made me realize: I don't actually have hope chests for my girls. But isn't that a nice idea?

I do have two empty chests in the garage, and maybe for Rebecca's 15th birthday I'll pull one out and start it. Here's why:

I like the idea that kids are focused on the fact that ONE DAY THEY WILL MOVE OUT. And not just because I'd like my house back! (I'm actually dreading the days when my kids leave, because I will miss them!). No, it's because that is what is supposed to happen. Kids are supposed to move out, and become independent, and build lives for themselves.

And if there's a pretty hope chest sitting in her room, she can be focused on that. When she has extra money, she'll think that maybe instead of spending it frivolously, she should buy something that she's going to need. When we're in thrift stores looking around, and she sees some nice dishes, she can buy them and put them in there. It teaches her to think for the future and plan for the future.

It also encourages me to remember to put things away for the girls, instead of just tossing them out. Recently I had some tea towels that didn't match my kitchen and I gave them to Goodwill. If Rebecca had had a hope chest, they would have went in there, because they were perfectly good. So it helps me to help them, too!

And what sorts of things should go in a hope chest? In Laura Ingalls' day, it was mostly linens and quilts and china. And I think that's a good place to start. Kitchen utensis and pots and pans could also go in there today.

It can be very difficult to buy Christmas and birthday gifts for kids once they hit the teen years. With a hope chest, you have another option! And it does make the kids feel grown up.

So for her next birthday I'm going to start one. I wish I had done it this year, but it can't be helped now. Do any of you use hope chests? How do your kids like them? I'd love to know!

Thanks for stopping by! Why not stay and look around a bit? I have some great posts up right now on marriage and s-e-x, as well as some on kids & TV!

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How to Change Your Marriage When You Feel Stuck
Have you ever felt like your marriage wasn't all it's cracked up to be? Have you ever wished that things would just get better?

At different times we all have. And today I have good news for you: your marriage can change! It really can.

At this point you're probably thinking: "What? You can teach my husband to give me some time to myself sometimes?". Nope. "You can teach him to do stuff with the kids?". Nope. "You can help him be more romantic?" Nope again.

I'm not talking about trying to change your husband. I'm talking about changing you.

Maybe you think you're not the problem. And that may even be the case. Perhaps you're being as good a wife as you think you can be. But the secret to changing a relationship isn't in waiting for someone else to change. It's to grab the bull by the horns and change yourself, and see what happens!

In today's podcast that's what I talk about. It's short, so you can listen while you surf the web, or you can download it to your iPod (if you subscribe by iTunes. Just click on the icon on the right hand column of this page). Listen in. I hope it will inspire you!

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Sheltering is Not a Bad Word
Too many people believe that if you "shelter" kids, you're somehow dooming them to lives of geekdom and ignorance. Sheltering is seen as a cruel thing, done by strange, nerdy parents who are insecure about their offspring and scared that they will wander too far from the nest. The end result of this is often assumed to be either open rebellion on the part of children when they grow older or children growing into adults who just don't fit in.

Personally, I've never really understood this. After all, God shelters us. We shelter our plants from too much sun. What happens when you've got tomato seedlings and you want to plant them outside? You shelter them, planting them on a cloudy day, so that they aren't exposed to the rough world all at once. Sheltering is necessary there, and it's necessary and good with our children. It's how we care for them. If we don't shelter, we're just letting our society raise our kids. And honestly, would you trust our society to do that?

I think most people reading this blog are on the same page I am. Frankly, I'm not really sure why people who disagree with me would wander here, but obviously they do, as this comment from my post on watching television shows:

That's just stupid. Children are never innocent, only ignorant. Keeping them under glass bell will only make it harder for them to face reality when they get older and the bell is lifted and shattered. This world is cruel and your children should get the right informations from you before someone feeds them false ones. The bible as the source of the information is terribly out of date and out of touch with reality of the 21st century.
Also, do you like making your daughter feel like idiot? Imagine her talking with other children and not having a clue about what are they talking about 'cause that's exactly what you're doing. Why do you want her to accomplish less in life than you? You were watching TV as a child, why are you not giving the same rights you had? You can control what she's watching, you know.
As for home schooling: Why are you not giving her the same starting position that the other children have? Why do you think you know everything and are able to do the job as well as teachers that are trained and paid for it? Are you that proud not to see that you are not doing a favor to her, but to yourself, because ignorant child is easier to control?
One day, your daughter will want to go to college and won't make it, because she will not have the same knowledge as the other people and it will be your fault for not providing it.
I pray that God will bless you with wisdom to see the errors of your ways, but that's a very thin hope.
Best wishes, Jon Snowing.

Where to start? Let's take it point by point:

Keeping them under glass bell will only make it harder for them to face reality when they get older and the bell is lifted and shattered.

Actually, those who are sheltered do better. Kids who are homeschooled, for instance, do better at university, score higher on standardized tests, do better socially, are happier, are more likely to have stable marriages when they grow up, are far less likely to commit suicide, are more likely to vote and volunteer, are more likely to hold a job and less likely to collect unemployment insurance, and in general are exactly the kind of citizens we want.

Last week a 15-year-old boy froze to death just a few hundred metres from my house in the woods. He had run away from home after being bullied at school, and didn't want to be forced to go back. School is like a jail for many kids. Forcing them to face a situation we would never put up with ourselves is cruel (not all schooling is like this, of course; but for this boy it was).

Also, my children are not ignorant. They know all about the facts of life. They have seen poverty firsthand on our trips to a Kenyan orphanage. They know about terrorism, about rape (they have seen 14-year-olds there with babies), about AIDS, and about alcoholism.

But there is a huge difference between knowing about sex and alcohol and watching it on television where it is presented in a positive light in situations which are definitely harmful. For an 8-year-old to be wanting a boyfriend because that's what she sees on television is just stupid. Television shows glorify a lifestyle which is wrong and harmful. I know you can pick and choose what your kids watch, but this commenter was replying to a post in which I specifically mentioned the show How I Met Your Mother. Why would you want your child watching that? I really don't get it.

Also, do you like making your daughter feel like idiot? Imagine her talking with other children and not having a clue about what are they talking about 'cause that's exactly what you're doing.

My daughter doesn't feel like an idiot. Most of her friends know she is extremely smart. They come to her asking her questions because she has such a rich and varied life that doesn't revolve around media.

Why do you want her to accomplish less in life than you?

I'm not even sure where this is coming from. My kids are accomplishing more because they don't watch television. They're both several grade levels ahead in school. We just signed my oldest up for online high school and she's doing grade 10 courses (she's the age of grade 8). They have numerous hobbies. They do a ton of sports. They have more time to pursue these things than I did. I wasted my whole childhood and much of my adulthood on TV. I only started writing and speaking (which is now my career) when I got rid of the box. Before then I had no time. How is taking away television limiting my kids? It's expanding their possibilities!

As for home schooling: Why are you not giving her the same starting position that the other children have? Why do you think you know everything and are able to do the job as well as teachers that are trained and paid for it? Are you that proud not to see that you are not doing a favor to her, but to yourself, because ignorant child is easier to control?
One day, your daughter will want to go to college and won't make it, because she will not have the same knowledge as the other people and it will be your fault for not providing it.

This is just offensive and ignorant. My kids, as I have said, are grade levels ahead. Rebecca will be starting online university at age 15, and then will go to regular university later. Universities now give scholarships to homeschoolers, and Harvard is actively recruiting them (as is Wilfred Laurier in Canada) because homeschoolers do so well at university because they are self-starters. By the way, I'm more educated than 95% of teachers. And my husband is a doctor. I'm more qualified to teach them. But even if parents aren't educated, their homeschooled children still score higher on standardized tests.

I really didn't want this to become a post on homeschooling, because that's not what this blog is about. But the commenter brought it up (even in a post that had nothing to do with homeschooling).

I'm proud of my girls and thrilled with my life. They are more self-confident and well-rounded than I was at their age, and I went to school and watched television. Our society is sick. Why would you want it raising your kids? I feel sorry for people who don't get that, but I feel even sorrier for their children.

And for those of you who don't homeschool, you can still shelter your kids. You can still monitor the television (or get rid of it). You can spend more time as a family doing sports, reading books, or playing board games. You can get involved in their schools. Just don't let the media raise your kids, as this guy is suggesting. That's abdicating the most important job you will ever have. And it truly is a shame that so many parents do that.

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Menu Plan Monday: Lunches!
You can find Menu Plan Monday at

Usually on Menu Plan Mondays I post what I'm going to eat for dinner. But today I'm going to do something a little different. I want to talk about lunches.

Do you ever get sick of lunches? We seem to eat the same thing, over and over again, and it's not always that good. But we don't want lunches to be too expensive, and we don't want them to take that long to make. So what can we do to make them more interesting?

Here are some lunch ideas I have. But I'd love yours, too! So read along, and then please leave a comment.

Sandwich & Veggies

Typical lunch! Not too exciting, and kids often sigh when you announce it's sandwiches. So here's how to spice up that kind of lunch a bit.

Add veggies to the sandwiches. Not all kids will like this, but my daughters will eat all kinds: cucumbers, peppers, alfalfa sprouts, lettuce. So instead of just adding lettuce, add something else. It makes it crunchier!

We also bought a sandwich grill recently, and the kids love to grill ham & cheese pitas. That's another treat, and it turns sandwiches into a hot meal. The grill was a find for $2.99 at a thrift store, and boy have we gotten our money's worth!

Another way to make sandwiches better is to serve them with vegetables for dipping. I make up dip with a dip mix and then sour cream and mayonnaise, and it's great.

Soup & Veggies

My kids' favourite lunch is when I make homemade soup. Not the canned kind; actually make it from scratch. But this isn't nearly as hard as it sounds. Start with homemade chicken stock, which I keep in my freezer. Or, failing that, just buy the cartons of stock. Add cooked chicken or turkey, some macaroni or egg noodles, and some chopped carrots and celery. Near the end of the cooking time you can throw in frozen peas or frozen corn. I'll add a few herbs, too. I make a lot of soup, because we all often have two bowlfulls. And the thicker the better. But it's really healthy, and not too expensive.


I hate this for lunch. Not because it's not good, but because I like saving leftovers for dinner. But in a pinch I'll make them go further. If we have leftover potatoes, I'll often make what we call "hash". I'll throw the potatoes in a frying pan, with leftover gravy or a can of gravy. Add chopped turkey or chicken, some frozen corn, and maybe some carrots, and sprinkle with salt and pepper and garlic salt. Just mash it all together. It sounds gross, and looks gross, but it's good.


If you're ever desperate for something to serve at a birthday party, these are always a big hit. Buy English muffins and pizza sauce, and have everyone make their own! You don't have to fight over who does or doesn't like pepperoni or mushrooms. Just toast them first in the oven at 400 until the English muffins are slightly crispy. Then add the pizza sauce and the toppings, and sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 400 for about 12 minutes.


Tacos don't take long to make. You just need to fry up some ground beef and add the spice mixture. Cut up some lettuce and cheese, and get some salsa, and you're ready. Kids love this one, too, but I don't make it very often because it tends towards the more expensive side for a lunch meal.

Bacon and Eggs

Finally, another lunch that works well is breakfast! The kids like bacon and eggs, and we sometimes make Egg McMuffins for lunch, with English muffins, eggs, bacon, and cheese. I just don't do this very often because I don't think it's the healthiest lunch.

The Typical Lunch Fare: Kraft Dinner

Of course, there's always Kraft Dinner. Or those hot dog weiners that you wrap up in those rolls and bake. Kids love that. But I don't. I don't think it's healthy, and I don't feel particularly well after eating them. So I'm always looking for slightly healthier alternatives.

What do you make for lunch? Share it with me, because I'd love some new ideas!
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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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