10 Reasons Why Marriage is Better Than Chocolate

  1. 1. Chocolate doesn’t love me back. My husband knows all of my imperfections, quirks, and craziness and he still chooses to love me. Trust me, this is no small feat! For this I am truly thankful.
  2. 2. I always have a friend to share my thoughts with. I may be able to talk to chocolate, but it doesn’t respond.
  3. 3. Chocolate doesn’t appreciate any little things that I do to care for it. I have the privilege of serving my husband. This one may seem weird, but once I learned what a privilege this is, I began to enjoy (rather than resent) doing his laundry, cleaning up his shoes that he left out, cooking for him, and helping him out in many little ways throughout the day. This change meant that I had to become a little bit less selfish. Once I found joy in serving him, I found more joy in my day. And you know what? Our marriage got even better. It lead to even more of #4.
  4. 4. I have the honor of being served by my husband. Not only does he work really hard to pay the bills, but he also fixes the house (and everything in it when it breaks down), encourages me as we do life together, and rubs my back when it’s sore. While chocolate does serve to indulge my chocolate craving, that’s where it all ends.
  5. 5. In marriage, I am constantly challenged. Challenged to be more generous, more creative, and more Christ-like. The only way that chocolate challenges me is in the amount of willpower that I have to eat only a little at a time!
  6. 6. I have a strong man of God to parent my kids with. Some days when my man is away and I feel like pulling my hair out, I am so full of appreciation for the way that he helps to care for and pour truth and love into our daughters. While a little chocolate sometimes seems like a good idea when the kids are driving me crazy, the comfort it brings is momentary and fleeting.
  7. 7. In marriage I am continuing to learn how to speak in ways that build up instead of tear down. I think you would agree that when you are your most comfortable that the ugliest side of you comes out right? I believe that God gives us spouses to help us to train our thoughts and to be disciplined in building others up, especially our husbands. Chocolate’s got nothing on this one…
  8. 8. My husband is my protector; he defends me and watches out for me. Chocolate does give me some physical protection! The potential benefits of eating dark chocolate are said to include: lowering cholesterol levels, preventing cognitive decline, and reducing the risk of cardiovascular problems (1). Still, it won’t protect me in the unlikely event of a home invasion.
  9. 9. In marriage, I always have someone to go for a walk or bike ride with. I’ve got a squash partner, frisbee thrower, hike goer, tea drinker and book store browser. While I can go on a walk with chocolate, it just doesn’t compare to the great company of my husband!
  10. 10. The intimacy that God designed for marriage is incredible. This truly does bond us emotionally and keeps our marriage strong. Although chocolate is often identifies as an aphrodisiac, this is most often associated with the simple sensual pleasure of its consumption (2), and doesn’t last.

Be inspired,

Karen

Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” Psalm 25 4 & 5

  • (1)http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/270272.php
    (2)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_effects_of_chocolate

    A Hoot of a Project

    This week has been full. Full of busy days, and full of some fun as well. My girls have been asking for some new hats for a while, and I’ve wanted to make them some new hats for a while. The thing is, that when you often have jobs with deadlines and products that need to be completed for other people, there isn’t always time  to work on things that are for us when they don’t have a deadline. But sometimes you just have to be a little crazy! This week my craziness involved a couple of late nights, which equalled a fun crocheted owl hat and one very happy little girl.

    my happy girl

    This hat was a lot of fun to make. It was also great to let my little girl come to the local yarn shop to pick out her yarn and to tell me exactly how she wanted her owl hat to look. I love her spirit.

    handmade owl hat

    Now to finish two more hats!

    Be inspired,

    Karen

    Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” Psalm 25 4 & 5

    Another Handmade Christmas

    Things around here have been busy, fun, and full of good family time. LOTS of board games have been played, and we have three very happy girls. We once again gave and received many handmade gifts, so I thought I would share some of them.

    handmade kids swords

    These simple wooden swords that my husband made are perfect for our 4 year old nephew.

    chalkboard

    I made this chalkboard from an old mirror frame that I picked up from a yard sale.

    crocheted mouse

    This adorable crocheted mouse was a hit with our 2 year old niece.

    superhero capes

    Two of our nephews now live dual lives as superheros.

    finger puppets

    Karis loves her new felt handmade finger puppets.

    crocheted beard and crown

    Another nephew is now a king when his crocheted crown and beard are being donned.

    I hope that you all had a lovely Christmas celebrating the birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!

    Karen

    Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” Psalm 25 4 & 5

    More than Presents Under the Tree

    gifts under the tree

    Three years ago in December, I wrote a blog entitled Avoiding the Plague of Materialism. You can read it here. This year as it gets closer to Christmas I am still aware of many of the same things, and am trying to pass on to my children the importance and blessing of giving to others, instead of focusing on all that they are going to receive. We really don’t want our children to see the celebration of the birth of Jesus as little more than presents under the tree. It is SO much more than this, but the commercialization of Christmas makes it tricky for this I want attitude to stay away from our homes doesn’t it? It means that we have to be so intentional as we live out our lives as Christ followers.

    This year we have had the opportunity to purchase gifts for children overseas and for children in our community, and because of this we are thankful that we have been able to show our kids ways in which we can look to meet the needs of others, instead of focusing on ourselves and our wants. As they grow older, we will continue to watch for age appropriate ways to serve as a family that will broaden the awareness that our girls have of the needs around them – not only physical needs, but also spiritual needs.

    My hope is that this year as our girls open up their simple gifts which we thoughtfully picked out for them, that they will be thankful. That each year as they mature, that they will grow in awareness and understanding of the responsibility as one of the wealthiest nations in the world, to care for our neighbours in the third world. That they will be aware of how many opportunities they are given in this country, and that they will not take their life for granted. That they will have an eternal perspective on life as they live out Christ’s command to care for the orphans and the widows.

    May we teach our children with wisdom and joy this Christmas season.

    Karen

    Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” Psalm 25 4 & 5

     

    Relief and Celebration!

    Four years ago when we took our (then) 2 1/2 year old year old daughter in for her first eye exam, we were shocked to find out that she had a genetic problem with one of her eyes called refractive amblyopia. We were totally unaware that she was only able to see out of one of her eyes, her other so weak that her brain had stopped reading from it.  I blogged about some of the challenges that were involved with this diagnosis here. For the past four years, she has had to wear a patch daily for 2 hours while playing handheld video games (as long as possible during this time each day) to force the weak eye to focus and get stronger. This was a huge challenge for us since Sophia didn’t like video games… When Sophia was 2 and 3, we could put her patch on when we were around other people and she was unaware of their glances that hung on, and their inquiring questions of what had happened. In the past years however, the biggest challenge that we faced as we patched daily was her increasing awareness of the curious people around us. Her tiredness of the constant questioning, and the regular answer “I have a weak eye”, and the knowledge that she was visibly different. She didn’t appreciate my encouragement on one occasion to make light of the questions and answer with an “arrr” like a pirate would… I thought it would be funny! She began to wear a hat with a wide brim when we were in public because our schedule didn’t allow her patching to be done at home that day.

    Despite our challenges we patched faithfully, and when I did have an odd day where I forgot I would feel the guilt. I would find myself imagining that at her next frequent check up we would not see positive results. We did continue to see positive results, however. Faster improvement at the beginning, slower as the eye got stronger. I was beginning to think that this was a burden that we would be carrying for a very long time. To my relief, we were surprised with the overwhelmingly good news at our last check up that Sophia’s weak eye has improved so much that we no longer have to patch!!! When our eye doctor said this to us so matter of factly, I could hardly believe it, and asked him to clarify. He confirmed this good news and congratulated us. I got tears in my eyes as I looked over at my beaming daughter who finally realized that her hard work had paid off and come to an end, and as I felt the weight of a motherly burden released. Many days as I tried to put the patch on my daughter she would resist and I would gently encourage her (and some days not so gently) that if she was diligent now, her hard work would pay off and that one day she would no longer have to patch. FOUR YEARS LATER, this came true. I hope and pray that Sophia has learned from this that hard work can take a long time to pay off. That many times we have to just be faithful, even when we do not know what the result will be, or what the future will hold for us. Isn’t this how it is as we follow the Lord as well? Sometimes what God asks us to do doesn’t make any sense to us – we don’t understand how good can come of it, or what the result will be. Follow me, He says. Trust me, He says. Surrender your will to Me, He says.

    I also pray that my already empathetic daughter will continue to be sensitive to those around her that are visibly different in some way. That she won’t be scarred by the attention that her patching brought, but that she will remember what it felt like, and remember to treat others the way she wanted to be treated – like a kid who just wanted to have some fun and be noticed for her great qualities, not the huge patch covering her eye. While she was never bullied, I hope that she will stand up for those kids who are. I hope that she will be a defender of the weak, and a friend to those in need as she follows the Lord even when she doesn’t understand.

    I am so relieved to be released of this task. Released of  what I only realized was a huge burden to me once it was gone. I cried tears of joy as we walked out of the doctor’s office that day. I picked up my daughter and swung her around whooping in delight as we both laughed in relief and celebration for the wonderful news.

    Thanks for reading,

    Karen

    Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” Psalm 25: 4 & 5

    Crayons and Princesses

    This is how my day began:

    We all got up at 7am, had the older girls off to the bus stop at 8, went downstairs to do some laundry and this is what I found when I emptied out the dryer:

    Crayon in the laundry!

    An entire load of laundry, covered in blotches of blue, red, and yellow crayon wax. SO. NOT. COOL. I did manage to stay remarkably calm however, since I have previous experience dealing with such an event as this. I mean, things in pockets happen right? The last time this happened, I vowed that I would start to check pockets more faithfully; but see that little silver sweater in the picture with the little pocket with the sparkly button? Yup, that’s the culprit! That little crayon box was still tucked in there for me to find. I had to cut myself some slack when I discovered this since I probably still would never think to check that little pocket…

    The last time this happened the crayons were Crayola. I put them back into the washing machine in hot water with some Oxy Clean, which I only use in this type of situation (as opposed to my homemade laundry soap which I normally use), and VOILA! Clean again. Well, as many of you know, Crayola really knows what they are doing, and yes, their products really are washable. These crayons, however, are not. Bummer. Well, I’ve spent some time today scrubbing laundry in an attempt to save it (some articles of clothing proving more successful than others), and so I did not have time to post a recipe. I will post another on Saturday.

    On another more lovely note, after finishing the dishes the other day after lunch, this is what I found:

    my reading princess

    My littlest princess “reading” a novel in the sunlight contently. I love this girl.

    From crayons to princesses, life remains interesting!

    Thanks for reading,

    Karen

    Show me Your ways, O Lord; teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; on You I wait all the day.” Psalm 25:4&5

     

    The Three Week Menu Plan (that could save your marriage)

    I was encouraged by all of the feedback that I have gotten regarding my post Suppertime Stress – a Solution. I had the hunch that this was a struggle for some other moms out there, and now my suspicions have been confirmed. I have been asked repeatedly to share my menu and my recipes from all you weary moms out there, and so I will be happy to do so. And just to clear the air, my marriage didn’t need saving. But more on that later.

    Today I will share my 3 week menu plan, and then I will share the recipes in several mid week posts throughout the next few weeks. Without further ado, here is the menu plan (that could save your marriage):

    Monday to Thursday utilize the slow cooker, so that on those busy school nights supper is ready right on time with no last minute stress.

    3 week menu plan

    There it is! I should mention that all of these recipes are gluten free and dairy free (with some optional dairy toppings). It’s been amazing having a go-to menu plan. I never have to try to come up with something at the last minute anymore which has been so stress free. I also now feel like I have the freedom to try something new if I want to change it up a little, and I’ll most likely end up adding a fourth week for all those other yummy meals that haven’t made the menu yet.

    But how can this meal plan save my marriage, you ask? Well, that may be an outlandish claim BUT even so, following this menu plan has led to more harmonious, peaceful, well running days for our family as we go about doing all of the things that we do. There are fewer harsh words spoken; there is calmness where there was often calamity. Could that be enough to save your marriage? Well, it could be… What I do know is that it’s simple, and simple is good.

    Go ahead, try it!

    Karen

    Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” Psalm 25 4 & 5

     

     

     

    Suppertime Stress – a Solution

    Suppertime was getting to me. My two older kids get home shortly after 3pm, and I want to intentionally connect with them each day when they get home. We’ve got commitments and activities happening a few nights a week which means that supper has to be ready at 5pm so that we can all sit down together each night – something that is a priority for us. This meant that I was feeling the stress of wanting to play and connect with my girls and the necessity of having supper ready on time, and not just anything ready for supper; something yummy and nutritious… this was driving me crazy!!! I realized that I needed to come up with a better solution than just frantically preparing supper each night.

    A couple of weeks ago I spent some time writing a three week menu plan that involves four nights of slow cooker meals a week (which are used on our busiest nights). So far, this has been AMAZING. My only deadline is getting the food prepped and in the slow cooker before it needs to start cooking, sometime between 9am and 12pm. The afternoons at our house have been stress free and fun! I can just enjoy the kids and rest easy knowing that supper is already taken care of. And, I have been able to try out some new recipes which have turned out really well. We have decided that we love our slow cooker. I have decided that I never want to look in the cupboard at 4pm again trying to decide what to make… because although I was fairly consistent with making a menu each week, I wasn’t consistent enough. The problem was that each week I went through the work of making a menu again and again. Why was I doing this unnecessary work????

    Slow cooker in action!

    Does this all sound too simple? Here are the main things that have eliminated suppertime stress for me:

    1. I have a menu for every day of the week, that I never have to change or come up with again, unless I want to
    2. I now know exactly what groceries I’m going to need for each meal, making grocery shopping much easier and exact
    3. I can get all my food prep done in the morning, when I have more time to do so
    4. I can get all the supper prep dishes done early in the day, eliminating piles of dishes after supper
    5. I even have time to make a salad or add a steamed vegetable to the meal, if I want to, and if time allows
    6. I have more time with the kids, and while I’m enjoying them I am not feeling torn about what I need to be doing!

    Did you know that “families that share mealtimes at least four times a week see improved communication and healthier eating habits?” And interestingly enough, “children of families who regularly have dinner together also develop a protection factor against all important risk behaviors (focusonthefamily.com).” Sitting down for a meal together as a family has been a priority for us since we’ve been married, but knowing these things solidifies our commitment to do so.

    What do you do to make the time before supper stress free? Has anyone tried making meals in advance for the month and freezing them?

    Thanks for reading,

    Karen

    Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” Psalm 25: 4 & 5

    Encouragement Pockets

    let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:25b)

    We are told many times in the Bible to encourage one another. With this in mind, I had an idea as I was reading One-Yard Wonders by Hoskins and Yaker to modify their design for mail slots into encouragement pockets. One of our daughter’s primary love languages is words (to learn about love languages read The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman), and so because of that we have many little notes all over our house… I was inspired to create these encouragement pockets so that we could have a hub in our house where all of the little notes of encouragement could both be placed, and where they could be found.

    I knew right away that I wanted to use the asian floral fabric that I have on hand, by designer Ty Pennington. I love the pops of orange on the charcoal fabric and the beautiful print. I measured how large I wanted the pockets, and created 5 so that there would be one for each of us. Here are the encouragement pockets cut out, with a large piece for the front and one for the back:

    encouragement pockets cut out

    And here it is almost finished, with just the backing and hooks at the top to be added:

    Encouragement pockets nearly done

    I hung this while the girls were sleeping and they were super excited about it when they woke up the next morning! Here it is a few hours later:

    Our finished encouragement pockets

    We are being encouraged. 🙂

    Thanks for reading,

    Karen

    “Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” Psalm 25: 4 & 5

    We Love to Read!

    We LOVE to read. We have read stacks of books to our kids since they were babies, and enjoy this immensely. In fact, I’m a doer and have a hard time sitting down when there are things to do…but when are there not things to do??? Reading to my kids is a way that I have where I intentionally sit with them, piled on the couch, in a fort, or in the hammock, spending some quality time where we read, and read, and read. We cuddle up, and this time is so special to us as we interact and take in books together (although when we do this in the afternoon, I almost always have to fight the urge to fall asleep). All of this reading has benefitted us greatly, and we now have two really good, independent readers. What an amazing day it was when each of our older girls were reading so well that we were able to take them to the local bookstore to buy their own full copy of the Bible to begin reading on their own. Praise God that they are now able to fill their minds with God’s word as they read independently!

    Our girls reading

    Reading library books, saying “cheese”.

     

    One of my favourite memories of this past summer was an afternoon when all three girls were all laying in the living room reading happily. Sophia was reading independently, and Zoey was reading to Karis. I had already prepped supper and had it ready to go, and so I joined them! I grabbed the novel that I was reading, and sat with them in the living room enjoying my book. To me, this was bliss!

    A couple of weeks ago I was sick with the flu, and couldn’t get out of bed for a couple of days. I slept a lot, but I also had the opportunity to read quite a bit and enjoyed quite the contrast in books. I am reading The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller, which is a great book on marriage that really challenges the way that we, as a society, look at marriage. He contrasts this to the way that God created marriage. This book has caused me to reexamine some of my ideas that I didn’t even quite know that I had embraced along the way concerning the purpose of marriage (I’ll write more about this in a later post).

    In stark contrast to this Biblical and philosophical study of marriage, still while I was lying in bed with the flu, I intermittently read some of my daughter’s novels. I read Ramona and her Father by Beverly Cleary, as well as Fudge-a-Mania by Judy Blume, both of which were so entertaining they had me laughing out loud. There’s a couple of things that I love about reading the kid’s books, one of them being that I can read through an entire book in an evening. This is really beneficial for me since I find it very hard to exercise discipline about only reading when it’s responsible to do so (like, not into the wee hours of the morning…I have to limit my novel reading because of this). Also, I like knowing what my kids are reading. Plus, they are lighthearted. A relaxing way to end a long day!

    Thanks for reading,

    Karen

    Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” Psalm 25: 4 & 5