The Hard but Good Work of Being Sanctified by Marriage

Prior to marriage, I thought a spouse would always build me up and just make me feel good about myself. At times this is true. However, there are also moments where God is using my husband to teach me things about my own heart that I need to work on.

As much as I don’t like to admit I can be a pretty sensitive person. I don’t like hearing or accepting criticism. I tend to already be harsh on myself so when others point to something negative about me it can sting.

I especially become defensive when my husband makes a comment to me about something he has observed to be true. Yet, from my perspective, I perceive he is wrong.

For example the other night he made a comment that “I’m only happy when we do extravagant things”. At first, I was dumbfounded because I enjoy staying home and cuddling on the couch with a movie and pizza. However, I do love dressing up and going out for a nice dinner (which rarely, like once a year happens).

I don’t think my desire to go out is unreasonable. I’m female, I like the anticipation of a special night. Plus it’s fun to take my time getting ready and to have my husband’s undivided attention. Plus as a new mom, I need to get out of the house.

However, perhaps in his eyes, I place too much value in going out and spending money. Whereas, in my mind, I’m happy saving money and staying home. Either way, it doesn’t matter who is right.

The point I’m making is instead of reacting defensively what if I took his critique of my behaviour and analyzed it from a place of humility. A goal I have this year is to become less defensive and more open to change.

Less pride and more humility

I hope I don’t come off as a spoiled brat to my husband, but what if sometimes I do? Are there areas in my heart I need to work on? Can I accept his insight from a place of humility instead of pride and insisting he’s misinformed? Yes.

I am not perfect, neither is he.  Yet there is a lesson I can glean from this interaction.

In reality, my response shows the state of my heart. A closed heart would insist I’m fine, I have no areas to improve. An open heart would be willing to listen to my husband and examine if there is truth to his statement and what changes could be made.

I love my husband but sometimes his words can pierce my heart in a sensitive spot. I have a choice to make. I can either let his words draw us apart or together. It’s my choice.

I want to have a healthy marriage. I want to continue to grow as a person and become more like Christ. When situations like this arise instead of letting them weaken me I choose to let them be a tool to strengthen me.

Sometimes though I have to overlook comments that I know are untrue and remember what I know my husband thinks of me. There are times where I need to give him grace as he also does to me. (I just had a baby so he’s been putting up with a lot of hormones lately).

To clarify I’m not advocating to be a doormat or to be passive. Scripture should be the starting point to determine whether a comment is valid. If something you husband says directly goes against scripture hold him accountable. At that point, it’s not your opinion he’s against it’s God’s.

Instead, I’m asking that we show more humility towards our spouses. To consider we don’t have it all figured out.  Perhaps God has put this person in our life to help mould us into the person He desires us to be.

One final point, pray. Pray for yourself but also pray for your hubby. Pray that you would allow God to strengthen your marriage and make you both more like Christ.

The next time your spouse makes a comment that at first feels unloving before lashing back with a prideful response take a moment and humbly consider their words. Are they in line with scripture? Is this an area you need to work on? Will you let this interaction draw you apart or closer to your spouse?
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My Husband Bought Me Donuts and I Cried…

My husband bought me donuts and I cried.

Maybe it’s because I’m hormonal. Even though I’m six months postpartum.

I cried because of his kindness.
These six donuts were around $20.
These were not ordinary donuts. They were locally made foodie, novelty, bakery donuts.

That we drove 20 minutes to get at a chic downtown shop.

I didn’t find out the price until later that day when he casually mentioned that he wanted to tell me something about the donuts.

At the time I was setting up the tv to watch the hockey playoffs with him.

He explained how the bakery didn’t sell donuts by the dozen or half dozen. Instead, they are individually priced. Therefore for our six donuts, it had cost about $20. 
I stopped what I was doing and went over to him and hugged him. With my face in his chest, I started crying.

Previous to buying the donuts, on the car ride there he informed me I had gone over my data limit for the month on my phone. As a result, we would have to pay an extra fee. With one income it’s not very considerate of me to be so careless.

My husband graciously explained to me how I need to be more careful and consider the time he puts in at work to pay for our families needs. I totally understood and felt awful. I also felt like I had let him down and I was disappointed in myself.

To me, our donut trip was ruined.

Until later that day when I learned despite what I had done, he still bought us donuts and coffee because he knew how much I wanted to try this place.

My husband was a picture of the gospel to me.

He showed me love and favour when I didn’t deserve it.

I cried when I found that out.

If I’m being honest I feel like I disappoint my husband a lot of the time.

I’m often too critical towards him or I complain too much about our circumstances.

I fear that he doesn’t like me.

My thoughts are wrong. He loves me.

He loves me despite my shortcomings.

I want to remember the day he bought me donuts and coffee.

 

My husband bought me donuts. These were not ordinary donuts, but  specialty $20 for a half dozen donuts I didn't deserve. Through his actions he demonstrated the gospel to me.

5 Way’s to Prioritize Self Care

The first time I heard about self-care was from my practicum professor who also happens to be a therapist (class felt like a therapy session because we just talked about our practicums and ate food, it was literally the best.). Our professor knowing that we all lead stressful and busy lives especially as students on the cusp of graduation or grad school really encouraged us to make self-care a priority. She shared how taking a hot yoga class when she’s really stressed or spending time with horses helped her maintain a balanced life.

During this time I was under a lot of stress from school, life and being pregnant (but also not knowing it, I was very emotional and overwhelmed). I really needed to hear this message of taking care of myself beyond my physical needs and my daily work of school and home.

 

5 Tips to Prioritize Self Care

In short, self-care consists of taking time for yourself to recharge and take a break from the pressures of life. It may seem selfish to want to make ‘me time’ a priority but as my professor explained to us it will enable you to be a better person for yourself and to those around you.

Self-care is especially important for women as we take on so many roles and are relied upon by multiple people. In fact, when I’m not taking care of my well-being I tend to suffer-emotionally, physically and relationally as I did during the beginning of my last semester.

However, when I do make time to do things that fill me up I feel energized, loved, taken care of and more motivated and inspired to accomplish the more mundane tasks in my life. Plus I’m a happier person because I’m not relying on those around me to satisfy that need.

Self-care doesn’t have to expensive or take a lot of time. The main thing it involves is intentionality or else it’s just going to fall to the side. Below I have 5 tips to get you started on ideas for self-care and how to make it fit with your life.

Find Out What Recharges You

First, without taking time or your schedule into account brainstorm a list of activities that you find enjoyable.  Think about hobbies you gave up in the past or interests you never got around to trying. Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn ceramics, or you really enjoy reading, perhaps it’s the yoga class you never signed up for, or gardening, writing, browsing the bookstore, seeing friends, even getting your hair done. Let your mind wander and write down any ideas that pop up.

Personally, I feel recharged after I spend quality time with a friend or family member I haven’t seen in awhile, treating myself to a Starbucks date, going on a walk, listening to a podcast, taking a bath, baking, reading a good book or even going for a run.

Schedule Self-Care

Next, take a look at your schedule and determine where you have the margin to fit in self-care. Is it after work on Tuesdays, Sunday afternoons, before everyone wakes up, during nap time or perhaps you can book a day off work once a quarter to do something extra special.

As I said above if self-care is not a priority it will never get accomplished. Just like scheduling a doctors appointment write down or make a mental note of when you can have time just for you. It might take some juggling but remember when you take care of yourself everyone around you benefits.

Take it One Week at a Time

Perhaps in your current season of life, you can’t commit to a weekly class or taking time off work. That’s okay! Maybe all you can manage is a weekly bath and reading your book for 15 minutes. The important part is to make sure self-care is part of your weekly routine.

Evaluate Your Self-Care Routine

In addition to making time for self-care and taking it season by season, take the time to evaluate how your self-care routine is working. Are you feeling more fulfilled in your daily life? Do you have more or less time in the coming months for self-care? Is there something you would like to change or a new activity you’d like to try?

Life is constantly changing, it’s important to make sure your routines are being adapted to fit your lifestyle or else they become another thing that can bring you down and make you less productive.

Find Creative Ways to Incorporate Self-Care

In addition to scheduling time for just myself which I also encourage my husband to do, I like to include self-care while I’m doing mundane tasks. For example, while I’m doing the dishes or driving I’ll listen to a podcast. Sometimes it’s a lighthearted and entertaining one like the Popcast or a more at times serious and inspiring one like the Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey. Or maybe you don’t have time to read so an audiobook is a better choice. In fact, most libraries offer free downloads of audiobooks. I love that I’m able to be productive while still taking time for myself

I’m not a mom yet but I do know that when Baby K gets here I’m going to make it a priority to make sure we get out of the house. Whether we walk to get coffee or to the library, I know we’ll both benefit from the activity.

Plus when you model that taking care of your mental health is important for your children they will take notice. Even if they are young, having quiet time once a day can demonstrate that having alone time is important and that mom needs time for herself in order to be the best mom she can be.

Spend Quiet Time with God

Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t share the number one thing in my life that keeps me steady, hopeful and able to face each day. That is my relationship with God. Spirituality is something that oft gets looked over. Yet it’s so related to our mental health and well being it cannot be ignored.

For me spending time with God is simple. I first spend time in prayer thanking God for all the blessings in my life no matter how big or small they are, I talk to God about my worries, I confess sins in my life, I pray for my husband and our marriage, my family, safety, health, friends, just anything that’s going on in my life.Remember it’s okay to share anything with God or ask for help in areas where you’re struggling. The psalms are a great example that it’s okay to tell God our honest feelings.

Following a time of prayer which I may or may not also write down, I use a tool called She Reads Truth. This website has reading plans that also provide a devotional for each day. Currently, I’ve been reading through Romans and before that, I went through the Song of Solomon. This tool has been very effective in helping me stick to doing devotions because it lays out what to read. First,  I’ll read the assigned passages, usually out loud so Baby K can hear too and then reread the passage and take notes on what the author is saying and how I can apply it to my life. Even if I never come back to these notes, writing it down helps solidify what I’m learning.

Finally, I’ll read the short devotional accompanying the readings. Usually, it contains a helpful commentary on the big picture and other themes I haven’t considered. Perhaps if you don’t know where to start in having a devotional this website would be a great resource. Just try to find what works best for you and stick with it.

Overall scheduling time for yourself is not selfish, it means that you care about your mental health and want to be the best you. Don’t feel guilty if you need a night off once a week or have to make room in the budget. In the long term, it is so worth it not only for yourself but for your family and everyone around you.

In Summary:

  • Find out what recharges you
  • Schedule self-care
  • Take it one week at a time
  • Evaluate your self-care routine periodically
  • Incorporate self-care in creative ways
  • Spend quiet time with God

Finally, here’s a great mantra to remember “Create your own sunshine”

Find things that bring you joy and make them a habit. 

5 Ways to Prioritize Self Care

10 Ways to Create Your Own Sunshine Today

buy fresh flowers

get a manicure

print off pictures

go for a walk

write a gratitude list

take a bath

schedule a coffee date with a friend

read a book

treat yourself to a special drink

colour

For more great tips on incorporating self-care be sure to check out this post by Lisa from Lisa Designs Life, she has a lot of tips to make self-care part of a busy life.


What are some of your best tips for self-care?

What activities help you feel recharged?

I’d love to hear!

 

Enough with Cliquey Church Social Groups: Why we Need to be Intentional in Creating Community at Church

A few weeks ago we were visiting a couple from our church who have a young baby. As we were talking a sad reality came to light. It seems that social connections at church are largely determined by the presence of children or one’s marital status.

Not until this couple had a child did some of the other women in her age group begin taking an interest in her. Perhaps this was because they couldn’t find any commonalities other than being of the same faith, age, gender or also being married. Maybe they were too preoccupied talking about their children they forget about other conversation topics. Whatever the reason it’s unfortunate that one has to be a mother to be noticed by those in her same demographic.

This occurs not only on a female to female basis but on a couple level. A couple may be married in their mid 20’s and not have any children. At the same time there is another couple around the same age who do have children but beyond a cordial acquaintance level these couples will never really hit it off. Perhaps the couple with children want to prioritize making friends with other families so their children will have friends or maybe they feel that beyond being married they have nothing in common with the other couple.

Dating couples and individuals also face the same kind of dismissive attempts at friendship. Based on the fact that they are not in the exact same stage of life despite being the same age. As a result, they are disqualified from interacting on deeper than acquaintance level.

How Does This Cliquey Behaviour Begin?

Most times it starts when an individual moves from being single to the highly idealized state of being a boyfriend or girlfriend.

As soon as a couple starts dating they “need” couple friends. So little by little, they decrease the amount of time they spend with their single friends. Or soon after a couple gets married suddenly all the married people have something super in common with them and start to notice them. The downside to these seemingly natural but isolating behaviors is that people who are not married, don’t have children or who are single get stigmatized. For example, if by a certain age you haven’t reached the right level in your social circle people start to ask questions, make judgments or just exclude you.Maybe you don’t get invited to board game night because you’re not part of a couple. Or certain jokes go over your head because you don’t have a spouse to identify with. Yes, these interactions hurt even if they are not intentional. A more detrimental outcome of segregation by life stage is when it involves ministry.

Take, for example, Sunday School.

In some churches that I have attended Sunday School is divided for the adults into classes based on life stage. First, there is the Young Adult (college and career) class, followed by the young married class and so on. One can only move up when they reach the proverbial achievement of marriage.

I have so many thoughts about this… Yes, marriage is good but why are we making it something that grants exclusive access to a Sunday School class? What are we saying to those not married? That they aren’t spiritual enough to move on? It feels like marriage is inherently demonstrated to be a gift given to those who are more spiritual than the single person.

Yes, marriage is good but why are we making it something that grants exclusive access to a Sunday School class? What are we saying to those not married? That they aren’t spiritual enough to move on? It feels like marriage is inherently demonstrated to be a gift given to those who are more spiritual than the single person.

What about the individual who is still waiting to be married or who is content being single or the single parent? Where do they go for Sunday School? Church of all places should be an inclusive environment. Additionally, singleness should not be made to look down upon. In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul commends being single because one has more time to devote to serving God over being divided by caring for a spouse and serving God.

Real Talk: I Struggle in Not Being Cliquey

Before I go on, I want to note that I am by no means perfect in this area of not being cliquey. I understand why it happens. Especially being an introvert. I like to interact with my same group of friends or people I know because it’s easy and I don’t have to be brave and talk to new people. Also as I have gone from being single to dating to married my availability to see people have changed. It’s a lot harder now than when it was just me to schedule plans. I have to coordinate my time with my husband plus I don’t live close to my friends. As a result, it takes a lot more effort to maintain friendships.

At the same, I still try to be intentional about being friends with people my age despite if they are married or have children. Although I do have to admit since becoming pregnant I’ve tried to get to know more moms at church. I now volunteer in the nursery and am slowly acquainting myself with the families that have children. Prior to being pregnant, this wasn’t a priority for me. I do understand there is comfort in the company of those who share similar life experiences. This can be a great opportunity to learn from those who have gone before you. At the same time, it’s not fair to isolate those who are not going through the same stage of life as you. Yes, it might be easier to relate to a married couple on some levels than a single person. However, I never want to define myself so narrowly that I’m just a wife or mom. I’m still Courtney, a person with unique interests and gifts and I want to cultivate friendships with a variety of people.

Why Do We Stay in our Safe Groups Instead of Reaching Out?

Why is it so easy to just get stuck in our safe little cliques instead of reaching out and being a genuine friend to all ages and life stages. A major reason is that it takes effort.

Reaching out requires intentionality. If a new mom is spending most of her time in the nursery she’s not going to have as many opportunities to get to know the women who don’t have children. That is totally understandable, being intentionality should go both ways. Although it may seem intimidating for a single person to reach out to someone who is married and has children. One reason is that they might seem too busy to talk to or they don’t know what to talk to them about.

My encouragement would be to just start by saying hi. People like what they are familiar with. The more you say hi to someone or smile or ask how they’re doing they’re going to associate positive thoughts towards you. Over time they may reciprocate the interest. One simple way I try to do this is by saying good morning to people in the church. Over time they have gotten to know my name and will now talk to me after church. Although I may never become super close with any of these people they still show an interest in me and ask how I’m doing. Plus, it’s just one simple way to get to know people I may never had the chance to get acquainted with.

One person who is a great example to me of being friendly to everyone is my husband. He will literally talk to everyone in our church from little toddlers to elderly couples. He can always find something to have a conversation about. His example has continually impacted me to reach out of my comfort zone and make more of an effort to talk to people.

How Can We Make Church More Inclusive?

First, we can structure ministry so that every person feels that there is a place where they belong despite their marital status or ability to have children. Perhaps having adult Sunday School classes by topic or age would be more helpful. People want to interact with those outside their age groups and genders. Although at times it is helpful to have a ministry that specifically reaches a certain group such as women or men or singles. It’s important to give people options and make sure everyone feels they have a place in the church.

Furthermore, as people, we need to be intentional with getting to know others in the church and to step out of our comfort zones. An easy way to do this is to get involved at church. Whether as a greeter, on the worship team, in children’s ministry or through hospitality there are so many options for everyone’s unique gift or talent. This can also take the pressure off of having to start conversations with people. When serving alongside others you’re likely to get to know them and their family just through your constant interaction. Plus you have a task to accomplish so things are less awkward than standing around and talking during coffee hour.

If you’re hesitant about getting involved or don’t know which ministry is right for you, I would first pray about an opportunity and then seek out those who are already serving in that capacity and ask how to get involved. Even if they don’t need help at the moment, let them know you’re willing to fill in if they ever need extra help. People really appreciate when others are willing to pitch in.

Overall let’s purpose to make church less about ourselves and staying comfortable and more about reaching out to others and helping them feel included, wanted and loved. Remember all it takes is a simple “good morning” to show someone you care about them.

Enough with Cliquey Church Social Groups

 


10 Cheap and Fun Date Night Ideas

Everyone loves a good date night #amiright but sometimes when life is real and adulting is hard there just isn’t extra money to do the more extravagant things in life.

 

That’s okay! I got you covered with my 10 best cheap and mostly free date night ideas

10 Cheap and Fun Date Night Ideas

  1. Skating

    Find an outdoor rink either downtown or down your street, strap on some skates and go for it. Maybe you suck at skating but what better way to be cute and hold hands like the adorable couple you are.

  2. Pinterest Craft

    Be a #goals couple and make a fun Pinterest craft or recipe together! A few of my favourites are:

  • these chocolate lava cakes, they look super impressive but I promise are super easy to make and delish!

10 Cheap and Fun Date Night Ideas!

10 Cheap and Fun Date Night Ideas!

  • Make a memory journal together! Collect old event tickets, print off Instagram pictures, record important dates, have fun and be creative! I’ve made one of these for Michael before and it was honestly a lot of fun <3


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  • Be super adorable and have a romantic night under the stars <3

10 Cheap and Fun Date Night Ideas!

  • Or stay inside make a blanket fort, order your fav takeout and chill

10 Cheap and Fun Date Night Ideas! <3

3. Go on a Hike!

Get out and explore a new part of your town, walk down a new trail, drive to a waterfall…get outdoors and start walking, you never know where it could lead or what conversations you’ll have.

     *during the Holiday’s you can turn this into looking at Christmas lights 

4. Challenge each other on the Wii, in a card game, wrestling or messy Twister

Don’t underestimate the fun in a little friendly competition. To improve your game practice while your spouse is away (;

Sometimes just wrestling together is a great way to relieve tension, even if they are 10x stronger than you :p

5. Act like kids and draw together

Get a huge bristol board from the dollar store and draw what you hope your future looks like.

6. Visit the Humane society and pet puppies

Take a jaunt over to your local humane society and talk about which animals are your favourite or you’d like to adopt one day.

7. See a movie at a cheap theatre

Some Colleges or Universities have theatres where they play movies just after they come out of the theatre for really cheap.

8. Give each other a makeover

Let him pick out your clothes, do your makeup the whole thing, then do the same for him. Or if you’re rich set a budget, go to the mall and buy each other an outfit to wear for the rest of the night.

9. Film a Youtube video

You don’t have to post it but here are some fun ideas to try together:

10. Water fight or whip cream fight

Basically whatever you can get your hands on before them…

10 Cheap and Fun Date Night Ideas!

I hope you are inspired to have fun with your spouse and forget about the stresses of life even if just for a few hours!

What are your favourite cheap date night ideas? I’d love to hear!

Click here to read my most popular post: Just Wait

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Favourite’s Friday >>> Java with Juli

Happy FriYay!

Today’s favourite is a podcast and ministry I have followed since it’s inception. One of the founders Dr. Juli Slattery used to host the Focus on the Family Daily Broadcast before God called her to start the ministry of Authentic Intimacy. Java with Juli is a part of Authentic Intimacy. This ministry is all about sexMore specifically sexual discipleship. The ladies behind Authentic Intimacy apply God’s truth to all areas of sexuality-whether you’re married, single, divorced, widowed, dating or engaged they cover all topics. I love the honesty of these women but more importantly how they don’t compromise on God’s word. Everything that their ministry stands for is filtered through the truth of the Bible.

Perhaps you may have heard of the book 50 Shades of Grey or seen the movie? Dr. Juli and her friend Dannah Gresh wrote a book called Pulling Back the Shades in response to the 50 Shades series and the church’s lack of guidance on the topic. If you’re curious about whether you can be sexual and spiritual definitely give this book a read!

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Now onto the podcast! This is one of my all-time favourite podcasts, I even got Michael to listen to an episode with me and he commented how he enjoyed the honesty and straightforwardness of the hosts. Each Monday a Javi with Juli episode is released online. A topic is tackled either about sex or other tricky topics the church may not be discussing openly. What I enjoy about each episode are the tough questions that are tackled such as: what role do psychology and therapists have within the church (Episode 146)? For example aren’t pastors supposed to counsel their flock? Being a clinical psychologist and a Christian Dr. Juli was able to offer her opinion on the topic while a pastor also weighed in. The hosts don’t always agree 100% on the issues they discuss, in the end, the listener must decide for themselves where the answer lies. I enjoy being challenged in my beliefs and encouraged to seek God’s word for answers to tough questions.

A few other notable episodes are:

#110 How to find your identity in Jesus

#116 How to love your husband with your whole heart

#117 How your sex life is connected to your spiritual life

#124 Why you need to address pornography in your marriage and home

#132 Honest answers to your questions about sex

Grab your coffee and tune in to Java with Juli! You will not regret it  <3


 

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