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Wifey Wednesday: Beautifully Imperfect

It's Wednesday, the day when we talk marriage! I introduce a topic, and then you follow up either by commenting or by writing your own post and then linking up!

It's Wednesday, the day when we talk marriage! I introduce a topic, and then you follow up either by commenting or by writing your own post and then linking up!

I saw this beautiful video recently, and I think it speaks for itself. Just watch it, and then tell me: how is your husband beautifully imperfect?

Now, what advice do you have for us today? Write your own Wifey Wednesday post that links back to here, and then leave the link of THAT POST in the Mcklinky below. Thanks!

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Wifey Wednesday: 3 Reasons Sex Matters in Your Marriage (Especially if you are still parenting kids!)

It's Wednesday, the day when we talk marriage! I introduce a topic, and then you follow up either by commenting or by writing your own post and then linking up! I've been running some guest posts for Wifey Wednesday this summer as I've been taking some vacation, and today I'm thrilled to welcome my friend Julie Sibert, from Intimacy in Marriage.

I told my 6-year-old that daddy and I would be going on a date the next day.  I asked him, "Do you know what a date is?"

Our son smiled and said, "Yeah, that's when a mommy and daddy get together and kiss."

His innocent explanation made me feel good not only as a wife, but also as a parent.  For all of my missteps as a mom (trust me – there are pa-lenty), I at some point managed to convey to my child that my alone time with his dad was positive.

I know many of you may be thinking, "Time alone as couple? What's that?!"

If you are like a lot of married folk, the moment you walked in the door with your first baby, your quality time as a couple was on its way out.

And what about sex?

In many marriages, sex takes such a long hiatus that little or no sex becomes the status quo.  But sex does matter in a marriage.  At least it should.

Here are three reasons to ponder, especially if you are still in the midst of raising kids:

1. Sex keeps "mommy martyrdom" at bay.

None of us really likes to admit we are even susceptible to mommy martyrdom.  We vow we won't be one of those moms who finds her entire identity wrapped up in her kids.  Then we become a mom.

Before long, as we are schlepping juice boxes onto the grocery checkout belt, the housekeeping magazines taunt us. They scream at us with their insanely creative cupcakes and their impeccably decorated (and clean!) family rooms.

Never mind that no one we have ever known has a house that looks like the inside spread of Good Housekeeping.  Common sense tells us that such lofty ambitions are highly improbable. But we still get sucked in.

We fall victim to the lie that homemade snacks for every school event, picture-perfect holidays and $8,000 swing sets are what make someone a good mom.

What your kids need more than perfectly organized sock drawers and flawless birthday parties is a mom who is in love with their dad.  Nurtured sexual intimacy with your spouse is one of the best things you can do for your kids.

They may never thank you for the ways you make your marriage a priority – they may even roll their eyes when you give your husband a playful peck on the lips – but deep down, they hunger for that kind of security (which can't be replicated in a homemade batch of cookies).

2. Sex is one way to show you meant what you said at the altar.

I don't want to be one of those people who oversimplifies something by eloquently quoting scripture (because people like that annoy me).

I do, though, believe that we too easily forget that what makes marriage different from other relationships is that God established it as a covenant.  We get caught up in the feeling that fills the air when a bride and groom speak their marriage vows.

But promises of one flesh were never meant to find their footing in a feeling.  Within those promises are huge spiritual, emotional and physical implications that require of us the deepest commitment and afford us the greatest of rewards.

God never refers to sex as optional for married couples.  If anything, He goes to great lengths to expound on what a gift it is for a married couple to enjoy often.

Long after your guests have eaten all the wedding cake and your wedding album is gathering dust on the bookshelf, what you live within daily is the covenant of marriage.  You don't live in the wedding. You live in the covenant.

Sex is part of that covenant.  When you make love to your husband, you once again are saying, "I still choose you."

3. Sex is a great stress reliever.

As a mom, your days are consumed with stepping on Legos, getting formula stains out of clothing and taming an overstuffed calendar. Do you really want to spend your nights that way too?

You need a break girlfriend.

I can hear you lamenting right now, "I know! I want my break to be sleep, not sex."

Certainly I recognize that if you are in the throes of parenting, you may be craving a good night's sleep more than anything else.  Sleep seems like the only thing that will help you gain your bearings.

But don't bench sex quite yet. It still has a place on the playing field when it comes to keeping you and your husband on the same page and boosting your general well being.  Some day those kiddos are going to grow up and move away.  Don't you want to arrive at that point with a spouse you still know and a marriage you still treasure?

No matter where you are in your parenting journey, make the intentional effort to carve out time for sex.  The more you relax and allow yourself to enjoy sexual pleasure with your husband, the more likely you will be to make it a priority.

Truth be told, an orgasm is one of the best stress relievers around.  Remember how great orgasm feels? (If not, check out this post by Sheila Gregoire over on my site).

Certainly there are more than three reasons that sex matters in marriage.  But if you are a mom struggling with nurturing this aspect of your marriage, these three are a good place to start.

Julie Sibert writes and speaks on sexual intimacy in marriage. You can follow her blog at  She lives in Omaha, Nebraska, with her husband, their two boys and one German Shorthair Pointer dog who refuses to stay in the fence.

Now, what advice do you have for us today? Write your own Wifey Wednesday post that links back to here, and then leave the link of THAT POST in the Mcklinky below. Thanks!

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Wifey Wednesday: How to Keep Your Self-Respect

It's Wednesday, the day when we talk marriage! I introduce a topic, and then you follow up either by commenting or by writing your own post and then linking up!

Ever feel like a doormat?

Someone's © 2011 Florian Plag | more info (via: Wylio)

Too many of us allow us to become doormats in our marriages.

I sometimes read Dalrock's blog on marriage. He's not writing from a Christian point of view, but he is very interested in marriage and in keeping marriages together, and as such he frequently comments on how today's culture works to undermine marriage.

In particular, he highlights how often women become "unhappy" because they expect men to meet all of their needs. In one recent post, he was commenting on a study of marriages where women felt this way. He quotes the research:

Langley reports that she interviewed just two men who responded effec­tively to the challenge of their wives’ disloyalty.

The first man took the initiative and filed for divorce after his wife expressed on several occasions that she was unhappy and considering a separation. Before the divorce was final, his wife was trying to reconcile, but he chose not to because of her [lack of interest] in working on the marriage prior to his filing for divorce.

The second case was a man in a second marriage who had made all the usual mistakes the first time around but, unlike most husbands, managed to learn from the experience. As soon as his second wife started talking about a vague “unhappiness,” he inferred that she had met another man. He put down in writing clear conditions for remaining married to her and refused to agree to any separation, knowing it would only be a prelude to divorce. Insisting she break off her extramarital affair at once, he wrote: “I will not allow my spirit to deteriorate because of your indecision.” Rather than attempting to remove all possible grounds for his wife’s discontent, he simply told her: “complaining is no longer acceptable. If you want me to do or not do something, you must tell me what it is. I do not expect you to read my mind and I will no longer try to read yours.” This worked.

I find this second case very interesting, though I don't think it matters whether it's the wife or it's the husband who is unhappy. The principles are the same.

I know several women whose husbands are unhappy in marriage. Their husbands blame the wives for everything, but are unwilling to do anything to grow the marriage (date nights, counseling, even just communicating). They won't tell their wives what the real issue is.

The wives are so petrified the husbands will leave that they turn themselves inside out to try to make sure that there is nothing in their behaviour that the husband could object to.

Now, I have spoken at length in this blog about how you have to learn to show your spouse love in their language, and how we need to make sure that we are loving our spouses, even if they are not showing us love. But that does not mean that I think we should be doormats or lose our self-respect.

My mother, for instance, when she was married allowed herself to get walked all over, and tolerated really horrible behaviour on the part of my dad, because she was so scared of being left alone. And in the end, all that bending over backwards did absolutely nothing.

When you bend over backwards and try so hard to become what the other person wants, you cease being yourself. You're not looking to be what God wants you to be; you're looking to be what you think your husband wants you to be, and those are not necessarily the same thing. A truly intimate marriage relationship is based on two individuals who can cling to each other, confide in each other, talk to one another, and feel like partners. If you don't feel like your husband's partner, but instead feel like his maid or his slave or even his mother, then you're not building a good marriage. You're pushing him farther away from real intimacy.

James Dobson talked about this well in his book Love Must Be Tough. His central thesis was this: the whole way we do marriage counseling is backwards, because in the vast majority of troubled marriages, only one person is willing to work on things. The other doesn't care if they're hurting the spouse. They don't care how the spouse feels. They don't care what happens to the relationship, because they've become completely caught up in what they want.

So they're not going to go to counseling. So what do you do if you want to work on the relationship but your husband doesn't, and can't even admit there's a problem?

Dobson says you need to do have them feel the consequences of their actions, because that's the only way out of the selfish fantasy land they're in. They believe that they can keep daydreaming about leaving, and threatening to leave, and talk about being unhappy, because you'll sit there and take it and bend over backwards to try to satisfy them.

So stop bending over backwards, and show them what it will be like if they follow through and leave. Protect yourself and keep your self-respect, because a person cannot fall in love again with someone who has become a doormat and who no longer values herself.

And that's what the husband did in this example. He had already been burned by an ex-wife, so when the next wife starting talking about being unhappy, he said, "you either put up or shut up". If you want to work on the relationship, fine. But you can't just complain about it, because I won't live with someone who complains like that all the time. You need to commit. Commit, and we'll work on it together. Continue to hold out and say you're not sure and I'm making you unhappy and you need to test me, and that is not acceptable.

God hates divorce, but where Christians err is that we often think that the proper response then when a spouse starts talking about divorce is to try to do everything possible to appease that spouse. Appeasing, though, doesn't work, and can cause us to do things that God wouldn't want us to do. We may put up with things like affairs, or we stop respecting ourselves or our kids because we don't want to rock the boat. What we do need to do is to show proper love. Proper love always points people to God; inappropriate love allows people to act in an unChristlike manner. When we love inappropriately, by allowing people to walk all over us, we actually encourage them to go further from God. We need to show people that if they leave, life will be difficult, but they need to make a choice. We need to stop tolerating affairs, or pornography, or flirtations, or addictions, or things which will eventually ruin the marriage anyway. The best way to help your husband get over pornography is actually to not tolerate it.

If you're in this kind of a marriage, I'd recommend both Love Must Be Tough and Boundaries. Both books show what is your responsibility in a difficult relationship, and what is not. And remember: the best way to get positive change in a marriage is often through realistic consequences, not by becoming a doormat!

Now I know this is controversial, and I know there is a thin line between pushing someone away and calmly showing consequences. I know we are called to be gracious and to forgive, but I also don't believe we were called to tolerate indecision or evil. So if you have any pointers on how to walk that fine line, and do what's right, please leave a comment!

Now, what advice do you have for us today? Write your own Wifey Wednesday post that links back to here, and then leave the link of THAT POST in the Mcklinky below. Thanks!

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Are You Just TOO Busy?
I am so excited about today's guest post! I've been away a lot of the summer, and when I'm home I've been trying to take it easy, so I've asked some people to guest post.

And one of those is Joanne Kraft, who has written a new book that we absolutely MUST pay attention to called Just Too Busy: Taking your Family on a Radical Sabbatical. With the fall just around the corner, and with everybody starting to think about schedules, her message couldn't be more timely. PLEASE take this post to heart. I so appreciate Joanne sharing it with us, and I know I'm praying about how to take a radical sabbatical myself this year! Here's Joanne:

Busy Weekphoto © 2010 Duncan Harris | more info (via: Wylio)
Are you a busy mom? I know. What a silly question. Kind of like asking a new mother if she’s tired or chocolate if it's delicious. When I became a mother I discovered busy and mom go hand in hand.

Not long ago, I was searching for help for my chaotic, topsy-turvy life. Everywhere I turned I couldn't swing my purse without hitting books for Busy Moms, The Busy Moms Recipe Book – You Too Can Make a Fourteen Course Meal in Eight Minutes. The Busy Moms 4.2 second Devotional Book, How to Change a Flat Tire – for Busy Moms. Unfortunately, they all seemed to ignore the gargantuan pink elephant in the room and accept the fact that I was busy, too busy.

Were there any moms out there who had fought the insanity of busyness and been crowned victor? I needed solutions from moms who had walked a mile in my tired, worn-out mommy-shoes. Our family’s answer was to take a radical sabbatical—a twelve month time-out from any activity I had to drive my children to. For a whole year we learned to slow down, and in the process discovered how to be a family again.

I’d like to share a few areas in my life that suffered under the burden of my busyness, and the solutions that crowned me victorious. This is from my list of ten reasons in my book, Just Too Busy—Taking Your Family on a Radical Sabbatical that helped my husband and I to take the plunge into the radical sabbatical unknown!

A romantic night out = Our 4th grader playing Chop Sticks on our back deck.

A family is only as strong as the marriage inside of it. With children pulling us in ten different directions every day, busyness was keeping us from being alone together. There was a time when my husband was going to law school during the day and working full-time at night, while I was home enjoying our three-ring-circus. Not really a recipe for romance. As much as we enjoyed holding hands during our son's baseball games or our daughter's dance lessons, it wasn't enough. Being serenaded by our daughter and her evening practice of saxophone chop sticks- 4th grade style was as lovey-dovey as things got. It was precious but it didn't fill our need for a little romance.

Solution: When our children were young, we made a point to have them in bed by 8pm each night. This gave us two hours of time alone together before our own bedtime. Quite often I would save a yummy treat just for the two of us to share. No matter how difficult our day, just knowing we would have some time alone together in the evening was a great motivator for both of us.

My kids thought all meals came with a side of fries.

Ok, so I may be exaggerating a little bit here. But, my children have eaten more fast food than ever passed my lips as a child. When my eight-year-old daughter could recite the dollar value meals at McDonald's with more accuracy than her time-tables, I knew we had a problem.

When I was busy it was just a whole lot easier to speak into a clown's head, drive forward and have a complete stranger hand me dinner in a bag.

I desired for us to eat as a family, I really did. When I was a little girl it was our family practice to have dinner together. If my father worked late we waited. We ate together as a family or we didn't eat at all.

Solution: Plan. Plan. Plan. There's no way around it. If I don't know ahead of time what I'm making for dinner, then a healthy family meal around our kitchen table is not going to happen. And, for the record, it is possible to fall in love with your crock-pot. My youngest daughter volunteered to sit beside me and look through cookbooks each week. She was more than happy to help me create our weekly meal plan. Having time alone with my daughter Grace is time well spent.
Singing Jesus Take the Wheel on the way to a Girl Scout Meeting,
counted as my Bible study for the week.

I would make time for everything else, including Paula Abdul, Randy Jackson and Simon Cowell, before I would give a moment of my day to the very One who'd given me all of mine.

I considered Bible study by country radio station completely acceptable. I used every excuse to put off opening my Bible and feasting on His Word. How many times had I missed out on godly encouragement—a treasure in scripture from the Lord just for me? It would have made my busy day much more bearable.

Solution: I began keeping a Bible by the side of my bed, in my bathroom and on my kitchen counter. Each day, no matter where I went in my house, I would be reminded to have my time with the Lord. It surprised me to discover when I made time for the Lord the more I desired time with Him. When I prayed I would ask Him to clear my schedule so we could be alone together. He always did.

I am a mom. My life is busy. But I can keep it from being too busy. So can you. What is taking up the most of your time? What is causing you the greatest burden? Where can you make small changes to discover big rewards? I challenge you to make your own list today. And don't try and tell me you're too busy. You have time. I know you do.

Excerpt from Just Too Busy-Taking Your Family on a Radical Sabbatical; Beacon Hill Press 2011

Joanne Kraft has a passion for encouraging women. A sought-after speaker, Kraft has been published in Today’s Christian Woman, In Touch, ParentLife, Kyria, and P31 Woman Magazine. She is the author of the nonfiction book Just Too Busy: Taking your Family on a Radical Sabbatical. Joanne lives with her husband Paul in the California Sierra Nevada Foothills, where they are raising their four children. Follow her on Twitter @JoanneKraft and visit her at or

What do you think? Are you too busy? Are you prepared to cut things out in the coming year? Tell me about it!
Wifey Wednesday: Why Sex Matters to Your Husband

It's Wednesday, the day when we talk marriage! I introduce a topic, and then you follow up either by commenting or by writing your own post and then linking up! Today's Wifey Wednesday is a guest post from Christine Hiester.

(002/365) Reading novels at 3:40am can sometimes bring © 2009 Megan | more info (via: Wylio)
“Men are simple beings.”

So says my husband. When I ask him what I can do to meet his needs, how I can better serve him, how I can improve as a wife, he simply chuckles and reminds me:

“I am simple. Keep me fed and give me lots of sex. And make it fun.”

Of course, he’s oversimplifying things a bit. He needs more than that, and we both know it. But as far as needs go, physical intimacy is so important to him that if that need is not met the whole of him is affected; and if it is met, that fulfillment trickles down to all other parts of his life.

I really think I have it easy in this marriage, to be honest. I mean, I am nowhere near simple. My husband has to deal with my moods, my insecurities, my lack of housekeeping prowess, my occasional emotional neediness, and all I have to do is be a willing and joyful participant in the bedroom and cook some good meals?

I asked my husband the other day to tell me why. I wanted him to help me understand the reasons behind this all-encompassing need of his, and be able to help other women in my life who may have struggles in this area. We have friends and relatives whose marriages have had rocky times due to intimacy issues and pornography. I wanted to know what advice he would have me give the wives.

“Are their husbands satisfied in the bedroom?” was his reply. “We men are bombarded at every corner: ads at an online news site, billboards, teens wearing skimpy clothing at church, TV commercials, magazine racks at the grocery store. We can’t help but be visual; it’s the way we are made. We want to be faithful and pure, but it is so hard in this environment. When you, as my wife, make sure that I am satisfied, I feel like the luckiest guy in the world. That’s what you can tell those women.”

That seems like a lot of pressure, but there is truth undergirding his response. Even more than just that answer, however, is the deeper issue of being accepted as a man with a high sex drive, and the subsequent affect on his emotional well-being. There is nothing wrong with our husbands wanting sex, and varied sex at that, often. Let me repeat that:

There is nothing wrong with our husbands wanting a lot of sex.

It is our own faulty thinking about God’s gift of sexual intimacy that is the hindrance. Men find emotional fulfillment in physical intimacy. Our rejection of them in the bedroom feels to them as their emotional rejection would feel to us. If you came to your husband in need of a listening ear, and an available shoulder when you were feeling down, and he said to you, “Not tonight, honey. I’m not in the mood to listen to you,” it would be devastating. Perhaps that is what happens on a regular basis for you. I’ve been there in my marriage.

We went through a period in our marriage when I agreed to be intimate when I felt emotionally full, only when my needs were met. I often begged off because I was feeling down, or we had had a fight, or he annoyed me in some way. It wasn’t a conscious decision to use sex as a reward to grant or withhold, but that’s what it felt like to my husband. He felt rejected, and thus wasn’t as open to me emotionally. The vicious cycle continued. I rejected him physically, he rejected me emotionally. I was miserable. He was miserable. The prayer of my heart was for God to change him. But God instead, in His wisdom, changed me.

When I, in obedience, made the choice, in recognition of this need in my husband, to be joyfully willing and available sexually whenever he requested it (and also initiating on a regular basis), the change in him was amazing. Over time he was more emotionally available to me, more able to cherish me, more sensitive to my needs.

It was a transformative choice on my part, and improved our marriage dramatically.

God blessed us, because I made the holy choice.

God is the one behind this need in our husbands, just as He is behind our sensitivities and emotional richness as women. There is a grand plan in marriage, and sex is an enormous part of that plan.

When your husband desires you, desire him back. Make a choice to accept, and not reject. It is deeply important to him. Simple? Maybe. They are simple beings, after all. Or so says my husband.

So what are you waiting for?

Christine is a joyfully-available wife, and homeschooling mom of four. She has a passion for seeing marriages thrive, and blogs about that, among other things, at, and contributes to

Now, what advice do you have for us today? Write your own Wifey Wednesday post that links back to here, and then leave the link of THAT POST in the Mcklinky below. Thanks!

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Soundtrack of Your Life
'Walk' photo (c) 2005, Katherine Johnson - license:
Every Friday my syndicated column appears in a bunch of newspapers in southeastern Ontario. Here's this week's!

When I was in elementary school, I would drift off to sleep listening to a top 40 music station, because that’s what cool kids did.

When I became an adult and realized I’d never be cool anyway, I hit the “seek” button on my car radio and came across a song about how the good stuff in life is all the memories you build with those you love. And as I drove along the highway, tears streaming down my cheeks, I knew I had found the music of my heart. I may have grown up attending the ballet, but I’m really a redneck woman who loves country.

Perhaps you’ve never been that enamoured with country, since you don’t need to listen to songs about losing your truck, or your dog, or your wife, but then you’re missing out on its power! Believe me, country music has power. A study done about a decade ago found that of all forms of music, country music is the most linked to suicide. So if you ever had a sneaking suspicion that there was something not quite right about Willie Nelson or Billy Ray Cyrus, you’ve now been vindicated.

But perhaps it’s the most linked to suicide because it sings about the stuff that really matters, and pairs it with music that’s haunting (though it may haunt you in a very different way than it haunts me).

Music does that. After watching a movie marathon for a weekend, I’ll start to imagine my own life with a soundtrack, since nothing ever happens in a movie without music to go along with it. Have you ever just been walking along the sidewalk and a shiver runs up your spine, because you feel like there should be creepy music playing? Or perhaps you’re not so morbid, and you hear an upbeat guitar during the happier parts of your life.

It’s hard to imagine life without music. I’ve heard it said that God created music so that we could worship without words, and I like that thought. Music itself creates a mood and speaks to us and through us. It’s painting pictures with sounds.

I live in a house with teen girls, so for the last few years I’ve been inundated with Taylor Swift. Swift has a rather clever tune entitled “Our Song”, where she describes what comprises the soundtrack of her romance. Their soundtrack isn’t a particular song, but it’s the slamming screen door when they run out for a date, or the way he laughs, or the whispered phone calls late at night. These things encapsulate their relationship.

Summer is filled with that kind of music to me. It’s the music of the breezes as I type outside on my deck; the screams of thrills as little children put their toes in the water at the beach; the sound of the overloaded camper backing up out of the driveway as we leave for vacation, and the children querying, “are we there yet?” It’s the campfire crackling as my daughters and I sing in a round, and my husband sits back to enjoy the melody, rather than joining in and wrecking it. It’s woodpeckers and splashes and even the buzzing of mosquitoes.

Soon the soundtrack will change to school bells and football practice and alarm clocks and times tables being recited. Each new season and stage of life has its own soundtrack, and its own songs. And so, as I head to the store to buy new fall clothes for my ever-sprouting teenager, I’ll flip on the radio, hoping to hear another song that will express that excitement I feel watching my girls grow up, tinged with just a little bit of melancholy. It’s country time. And if you like a good cry, and you’re not overly depressed already, why not join me?

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Wifey Wednesday: Dressing Your Hubby

It's Wednesday, the day when we talk marriage! I introduce a topic, and then you follow up either by commenting or by writing your own post and then linking up!

Day 11.09 Ubuntu suitphoto © 2010 Frerieke | more info (via: Wylio)

I have an amazing husband. He's awesome with my girls. He shows me love and affection. He cares about my feelings. He listens to my emotions. He gives me backrubs. He's a great provider.

But he can't get the hang of the fact that you really shouldn't wear a white shirt with beige pants. Fashion is not his strong suit.

The other night at dinner I was looking at his pants, and they had received quite a lot of wear that day. There was dirt on them, and creases, and they were looking rather bad. But then I noticed that these were also his best dress pants. And he had them on with a few-years-old golf shirt that he likes to wear on more casual days to work.

I commented that given the number of perfectly serviceable, cotton pants are in his closet, perhaps it's best not to wear dry-clean-only slacks with casual shirts. He laughed and says that when he gets dressed in the morning, the only question he has about pants are: are they clean? And do they fit? And if they're not clean, but he can wipe something off, that's good enough.

I have realized long ago that my husband will never have the fashion sense that I do. But here's the thing: I like him looking sharp. I like him looking put together. But I have realized that I can't rely on him to do this, because he just doesn't get it. So now every night I get an outfit together for him and put it on his dresser for him to put on in the morning. That way, if he leaves for work early and I don't see him until he gets home for dinner, I don't die of embarrassment because he's been wearing beige with white all day.

I figure you can always spot the married men in a crowd because they look put together. But it tends not to be because they know how to dress. It's because a woman makes sure that they leave home looking presentable.

So you can complain about his fashion sense, or complain that he wears the good pants too often and wears them out, or complain that his tie doesn't match his shirt, or you could just lay out his clothes for him.

Personally, I'd rather lay out his clothes. I like putting outfits together, and he does have nice clothes. He just can't figure out what goes with what.

I think that when your husband looks put together, it reflects well on everybody. I used to do it years ago, but I stopped, and then that night when I noticed his dirty really-expensive pants, I realized it was time to start again. And so I do. It's just what marriage is all about: you get to fill in the holes that he's really bad at, and he fills in the holes that you're really bad at. Rather than being upset at him for not "getting it", just realize that this is who he is, and plug the hole. It's really not a big deal. And why would we want to create someone who's just like us?

Now, what advice do you have for us today? Write your own Wifey Wednesday post that links back to here, and then leave the link of THAT POST in the Mcklinky below. Thanks!

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Great Expectations
'Lost in thought' photo (c) 2004, tothalvadi - license:
Every week I write a syndicated column that appears in a bunch of newspapers in southeastern Ontario. Last Friday the column I published on this blog wasn't actually the column that was in the papers! I had a mixup with camping trips and trying to keep up. So here's the one that was in the papers:

For those of you who are blessed with a marriage partner, I’m sure that on the day of your wedding you could have completed this sentence: “My wife will…” Want me three times a day? Scrub the toilets? Stay home with the kids? Believe I’m the greatest? Or maybe it’s “My husband will…” always do the dishes. Bring home the bacon. Love my mom.

We all have preconceived notions entering marriage. It’s as if, during that wedding ceremony, we don’t just slide on wedding rings, but we also put on tinted glasses, coloured by the expectations we place on each other.

When your wife inevitably doesn’t conform to your expectations, though, you likely don’t chuck your glasses. You’re far more likely to pout, “What is her major malfunction?” You know the way the world should work; she’s obviously wrong by not jumping on the bandwagon.

We tend to compartmentalize each other, expecting that we will stick to already established patterns. We may start out in marriage expecting our spouses to be wonderful; but when they fail, we start to expect the worst. He’s the one who’s lazy and doesn’t know what a mop is for. She’s the one who’s the drill sergeant and doesn’t let anybody have fun at home. He’s a workaholic. She’s a shopaholic. We can all too easily pigeon-hole our spouses into categories that we don’t like.

What happens if your spouse wants to fly out of that hole and change? You don’t necessarily notice.

Recently I was talking with a woman whose marriage was falling apart. She rattled off a litany of complaints about her husband’s lack of ability to communicate. But as her story unfolded, I found myself sympathizing with the maligned spouse. To me, it sounded like he was trying to change their communication dynamic by asking clarification questions, like, “So you think I’m being too rigid about our schedule?”

She thought he was just being smart, saying not, “Let me understand what you are saying,” but instead, “you really believe something that stupid?” For the last few months that man had been attempting to change, to love his wife despite her reaction. Whatever he tried, though, she interpreted it in a negative light. It was her loss. Here was a man who was ready to build a new marriage, and she just wouldn’t see it.

Maybe it’s time you chucked your tinted glasses, too. Don’t read between the lines. Don’t try to finish each other’s sentences. Don’t assume that if she goes up to bed early it’s because she’s trying to avoid you; maybe she’s hoping you’ll follow her. Don’t assume that if he’s quiet it means he’s mad at you. When she speaks, listen to her words, and pretend it’s a stranger who was saying it. Would you bristle if a stranger asked, “how was your day?” Of course not! If a stranger started discussing how busy your schedule was, you’d analyze it, not assume you were being led down a guilt trip. If you could talk peacefully about something with a stranger, then why not try to do so with your spouse?

Maybe in your relationships you need a reset button, a way to go back to the beginning without all the petty hurts and counterproductive patterns you’ve developed. Don’t expect her to be hurtful. Give him the benefit of the doubt. Your loved one may not catch on right away, but persist. And as you treat that person like a new human being, you just may find that you become a new human being, too.

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Following God One Yes at a Time

As some of you may know, I speak for Girls Night Out events all over Canada and the United States, with a great group of other women! In that picture above, I'm second from the front, and my friend Connie Cavanaugh is at the back. Connie has a new book out, Following God One Yes at a Time, which has just been released by Harvest House Publishers. This book tells you how -- one simple, immediate, possible yes at a time – to do what Jesus commanded when He said, “Follow Me.” This is “following God for dummies”; it is a simple way for ordinary Christians to follow Christ through the maze of our complicated lives.

I asked Connie to come and talk to us about her book:

You said that God may have "seasonal" dreams for us. What does that look like if you're a mom of young kids, but you've always felt called to something big?

The dream of being a writer came to me in my 20s and the dream of speaking came in my 30s. Neither dream was realized until my 40s and 50s. The simple answer is that I could not pursue those dreams until I first pursued other dreams God also gave me, such as devoting 20 years to being a stay-home mom. Some people have the mental and physical energy to pursue more than one big dream at a time, such as the OBGYN who delivered my second baby and continued working through the births and rearing of six children of her own. I am not that kind of person. But God knows what we can and cannot do and He is good so during my years at home, He was giving me "material" to use in my subsequent season as a writer and speaker. For the young mom who feels called to something "big" I remind her that nothing is "bigger" than being a godly, effective parent.

But I hasten to add, don't lose hope because if God gives the dream, He will lead you to fulfill it in His time.

Do you think that husbands and wives usually share dreams? What do you do if you feel called to something but your husband doesn't?

Yes, I think couples often share dreams. When my husband pursued the dream of completing his education, it was actually the realization of a dream that I had in my heart that my husband would have a much broader ministry than he had at the time. That was a shared dream.

However, if you feel called to something that your husband is opposed to, then I would caution you to be absolutely certain that you are hearing clearly from God. God calls us to love and respect our spouse and I doubt He would ask us to do something that would damage the marriage relationship. It may be that you are to wait and pray until you and your spouse reach agreement. Perhaps God is using your spouse's hesitance to refine the dream into something a little different than what you are now thinking.

Bottom line: honour the marriage first and trust God for the dream.

You begin by saying “God has a dream for every believer.” I love that idea--that God "dreams" for us. What do you mean by it, though?

God does have a dream for every believer. In fact He has many overlapping, interlocking dreams for us: some big, some small; some lifelong, some seasonal; some manageable, some seemingly impossible. When His dream looks like a mountain we can’t climb, because we lack faith in ourselves and in Him, we think:
  • This dream is too big; I don’t have what it takes. 
  • The process looks so complicated; I don’t even know where to start. 
  • The finish line is so far away; I don’t think I can go the distance. 
  • I’ve tried before and dropped out; I must be all out of chances.
  • Is this God speaking or my own wishful thinking? 
  • People like me don’t get to do these things; I’m not worthy of this.

I think most of us can relate to those barriers that keep us from following God.

The biggest barriers to following God are internal, not external. It’s not situations, circumstances, tragedies, crises or even physical limitations but it’s things like fear, guilt, pride, shame, comparison, and doubt that hold us back from pursuing the dreams God has for us. Following God one yes at a time is about how God breaks down His impossible dream into manageable steps and once we begin to follow Him in faith, because He loves us, He sends us proofs that we’re on the right track.

Do you think God always sends us “proofs” when we follow Him? I sometimes get scared that I'm assuming God wants me to do something when it's me who wants to do it.

Even though we talk about a God who is alive and personal, all Christians occasionally feel like He is remote and invisible. Once God gets us to say yes to His dream and begin following Him, He knows that we’re going to be battling doubts and fears so He sends us proofs that we heard Him correctly and we’re on the right track. These proofs are little assurances that we pick up in a number of ways – through our daily Bible reading or hear in a sermon or through music or circumstance or pretty much anything that God chooses to use.

He’s not limited in the ways He communicates with us. These “proofs” are His way of encouraging us not to lose heart but to keep following.

Sheila talking now: I like this concept that God gives proofs, and that's what I really appreciated about the book, because quite frankly I don't think that I trust enough. I second guess myself all the time. Did I really hear God say that?

We had this one experience a few years ago that made me believe in proofs. It was the summer of 2007, and we as a family had planned to move to Kenya for a year. We were going to leave in August and return the following July. We had saved money so we could go; we had arranged a place to live; we had arranged for a hospital for Keith to work at; and we had arranged for work for me to do. We even had someone to live in our house.

It had been our dream.

And then things started to go wrong. Every time the mission organization called us, our phone line would go dead. Our phone line NEVER goes dead. And it happened no matter what phone they were calling from. Little tiny things kept going wrong, which I can't go into all the details about, but they left us really puzzled.

And then the final straw came. We received our acceptance package in the mail, but it had been burned to a crisp. It came in a Ziploc bag from Canada post, with a note apologizing for its condition, but apparently someone set the mailbox on fire. I had never heard of mail being burned before. We opened the package and ashes fell out instead of a book, and yet somehow the label with our address had survived.

I started asking friends if they thought it was a sign. Should I just assume it was a sign, or was that presumptuous? One very smart man said, "Sheila, what else do you expect God to do?" And so we didn't go. And four months later, Kenya erupted into the worst violence they had seen in decades. We would have been right in the middle of it. God protected us.

So God does give proofs, but often we second guess Him. I think it's good to keep checking things out, but sometimes we just have to learn to live by faith, and I find that hard. If you do, too, Connie's book can help!

Find Connie's book on Amazon, or for Kindle. And follow Connie on Facebook!

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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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