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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4 Ways To Stay Connected with Your Husband After Having a Baby

Becoming a mother has been a transformative experience. I can live on a lot less sleep than I thought, I can be awoken from the deepest of sleep if I hear my baby stirring and I care much less about my needs or wants now that I have this little life depending on me.

However, it can be easy for me to get so caught up in baby care, especially during the newborn weeks that my husband can take a backseat. Of course, this isn’t intentional but her needs often take priority during this season of life. Now that my baby is just over five months and we are more settled into our parenting roles this is the advice I would give to a new mom who desires to keep her marriage healthy while navigating into parenthood.

1. Know Your Love Language and ASK FOR IT

A lot of the time we are told to know our partners love language so we can love them better. I agree it is important to study your spouse and learn how to fill their love tank. However, when you are postpartum and sleep deprived it’s so important to take care of yourself so that you, in turn, can care for others.

Personally, my love language is physical touch. For me, I need at least 20 seconds of a good, cuddly hug from my husband. After that, I feel so energized, cherished and taken care of. Instead of expecting my husband to read my mind when I’m feeling down I will ask or tell him I need a hug.

If you don’t know your love language take this quiz and don’t be afraid to ask for what you need to help you be the best version of yourself for your family.

2. Get Creative With Date Night

Pre-baby date nights were easy. We could stay out late and be spontaneous. Post-baby we’ve had to make a few adjustments. Such as bringing our baby to dinner with us, eating out on a less busy night like Sunday and bringing my nursing cover. As long as we don’t stay out too long, our baby has done great whenever we’ve gone out to eat.

Another option for date night is having your hubby run out to grab a pizza (feta, pineapple, peppers and buffalo chicken was a recent favourite) and then watching a movie after your baby is in bed.

Date night can be tricky with a new baby but it’s not impossible to set aside time for just you and your hubby. Even if the baby has to tag along with you it is important to have intentional couple time.

3. Check in with Your Hubby

One thing that helps me feel connected to my husband is our chats before bed. This doesn’t happen every night because he works continental shifts where he works nights sometimes. However, we often catch up when he gets home.

If we don’t see each other at night we will text throughout the day. I try to be intentional to encourage my husband. I thank him for working hard for our family or I’ll send him pictures of our baby.

4. Affirm Actions You Appreciate in Your Husband

Along with encouraging my husband, I try to notice the things he does well and point them out to him. When we magnify positive attributes in our husbands they are more likely to keep doing those things. If your hubby is really good at responding to your baby’s needs or comforting her be sure to point this out to him.

Positive affirmation is rewarding and people will keep doing things they are appreciated for. Refrain from criticizing and try to speak about the good your husband is doing instead.

A new baby brings a lot of changes to a couple’s dynamic. It can be easy for both mom and dad to shift attention off of each other and onto the new bundle of joy. However, it is important to remember that the best thing you can do for your baby is to have a healthy and thriving relationship with your spouse.

The point is to not put pressure on yourselves, these are just suggestions you may not have thought of or already do. Either way, it’s important that you make an effort to care for your marriage.

Remember staying connected doesn’t have to include a formal or scheduled date night. It just takes remembering to communicate with your spouse, telling them what you need to feel loved, affirming what they are doing well and making time to do things you enjoy together with or around your baby’s schedule.

 

5 Ways to Stay Strong Mentally as a Mom

As a mom or really anyone leading a busy life, it can be easy to get overwhelmed by one’s present circumstances. Maybe you feel stuck or like things will never change or improve. I feel these same feelings all the time.

However, a goal I have for this year is to overcome my mental outlook and instead of being lead by my feelings into despair and sadness I’m working on telling myself how to feel.

My daughter is a great source of joy and I find myself choosing to be happy for her instead of moping around feeling sad or discouraged. She deserves to be happy and I want her to feel secure and loved despite how I’m feeling on the inside.

Along with her motivating me to choose joy here are 5 more methods I implement on a daily basis to stay strong mentally.

1. Listen to uplifting podcasts

Do you listen to podcasts? If so leave me a comment with your favourites down below. If not, why?

Podcasts are super popular right now. There are podcasts for every topic, hobby or interest.

A few of my favourites that keep me motivated, informed and encouraged are The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey, Risen Motherhood, Journey Woman, Surviving Sarah, Lighten Up with Melanie Dale, The Simple Show, The Lazy Genius, Business Wars, Tides of History, and The Popcast.

If you like to listen to podcasts on the go and don’t have an aux cord or built-in Bluetooth this is the adapter I use in my car. The last one we had was super cheap and broke. This one has worked great and is very easy to use.

Bluetooth Adapter

2. Play music

The simple of act of playing upbeat, positive music can instantly uplift your mood. I vacillate between using Spotify and YouTube to stream music. I do enjoy Spotify because of the ease of selecting a playlist to match my mood. YouTube is also nice because there aren’t as many ads.

Here is a kid-friendly playlist on Spotify:

3. Go Outside

I am a total homebody, I love being in my habitat and being productive. However, going for a simple walk with Lyla and listening to a podcast really helps shift my perspective to a more positive one. Never underestimate what a change of scenery can do for your mental state.

I live in a colder climate so most of the year it is not easy to get outside for a walk. I try to go out only if the temperature is above O Celcius and around 2 pm when it’s warmest out. When it’s too cold to be outside I like to walk around a large store and browse or the local mall.

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4. Run an Errand

As much as I love being at home 90% of the time, sometimes I need to get out. Whether it’s running to the post office or Walmart I always feel so much better when I get home. Plus it helps break up the day and Lyla usually naps in the car. It’s a win-win. I get time alone and the baby gets in a good nap.

5. Plan to be Social with Real People

Finally, as much as my introvert self would rather be a recluse I need real people. Even though I live far from some family I try to see them once a month. I also try to Skype with my friends.

Volunteer with Your Baby

It is also important to build a community where you live. To meet new people in your area consider volunteering for a cause you care about. For me, that is food skills and food insecurity. In the past, I have volunteered with Growing Chefs! and VON where I cooked with kids and prepared a low-cost meal for seniors. In this season of life, I’m caring for my daughter and cannot volunteer as frequently as I would like. However, I volunteer in our church’s nursery one Sunday a month. This allows me to socialize with other moms and make new friends.

Join a Local Moms Group

When I moved to my new neighbourhood one of the first things I did was a Facebook search for our neighbourhood moms group. The group is open to any moms wanting to join and each week they have a meet-up to socialize and chat.

Mom life or whatever tasks your life includes on the daily can be draining. I hope these simple ideas will help improve your mood and help you be your best for those around you.5 Ways to Stay Mentally Strong as a Mom

*affiliate link used

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 $20 donuts and coffee.

Letting Go of Unmet Expectations in Marriage

A lot of the time life can feel unfair. Part of this feeling comes from expectations being unmet. I certainly expected my present circumstances to be different. I thought I’d work before having a baby, that I’d be in my own home, that I’d live near my family and friends. However, that’s not how life turned out. At times I feel jaded, sad and to be honest angry. I want control of my life.

Lately, I’ve been wrestling with this idea of control over my life. It doesn’t seem fair at times that my expectations of my current reality are unmet. I want to call the shots and know where my future is headed.

Instead of trusting in God’s timing.

Instead of submitting to my husband’s leadership over our family.

Instead of dying to self daily. 

I don’t want to give more grace or forgiveness or understanding or kindness than is being shown to me in return. When as a Christ follower that is exactly what I’m supposed to do. I’m supposed to follow Jesus example and be kind and tenderhearted and forgiving to those who mock me or treat me wrong. Yet my flesh fights so hard against what I know the spirit wants me to do. Consequently, I often give into the flesh because it’s easy and I’m tired.

My dissatisfaction with certain aspects of my life spiral into a cycle of being miserable. If I’m not happy my thinking is why should the people around me be happy too (the people that I care about and love most). Therefore I’m going to complain, nag and not be as grateful as I should. In my sinful and selfish heart, I want to make it known how I feel.

The common thread here is “I”. Being that I’m married and it’s no longer just “I” but two people striving to be one, I can’t continue living my life through a single self-centred lense.

Yes, it’s not fair that I can’t sleep through the night because I have to feed our precious baby from my healthy and fully functional body. It’s also not fair that my husband has to shoulder all of the financial burdens of our family. I’m only giving one simple example of how our life together isn’t always fair in our share of duties, I could go on. Trust me I’m pretty good at keeping a list of how unequal our contributions are (at least that how it feels sometimes).

I always thought I’d be that wife that wouldn’t mind giving more than I’m getting in return. In reality, I’m actually pretty selfish and would rather be served than serve. At the core of dying to self is serving others. True service like Jesus demonstrated is done out of love without an expectation of receiving anything back in return. Often I want recognition, praise or a returned favour. To me, that’s fair-to give and then get. However, that’s not what I’m called to do.

Perhaps so much of my unsatisfaction which stems from unmet expectations could become obsolete if instead, I decided to truly serve without expectation. If I’m only living for the praise of men I’ll have received my reward here instead of a true reward from God.

Too often I’m focused on earthly things, the day to day minutiae instead of an eternal perspective. Where the annoyances that seem so monumental are less irrelevant than they seem and perhaps they are meant to sanctify me. If life was easy and fun and comfortable I wouldn’t need to change anything or question how I could improve. It’s beneficial to me in light of eternity and becoming more like Jesus to undergo unfavourable circumstances.

I want to resolve to have a changed perspective during 2018. I want to remember that “hard is not the same thing as bad”, to die to self as I serve my family and to live for the praise of my heavenly Father over the temporal praise of men.


Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Galations 1:10

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

Galations 2:20

Letting Go of Unmet Expectations in Marriage | Courtney Kramer

Loving My ADD Husband

My husband was diagnosed with ADD as a child.

As a result, he found it difficult to focus in a traditional school setting. The decision was made to homeschool him. He thrived being able to complete his schoolwork in the morning and expound his boundless energy playing the rest of the day.

His ADD wasn’t a bad thing it just required a few adjustments and some understanding of how his environment can help him thrive or struggle.

Although with age and maturity he has outgrown a lot of his ADD tendencies at times I can see evidence of it.

For example, he doesn’t like to sit still for long periods of time. Often he will pace the room while we’re having a serious conversation or start tapping rhythms with his fingers (he’s a drummer) when bored.

At other times he can be highly sensitive both emotionally and physically. I have to be aware of how I share something that’s bothering me in order to not be overbearing or insensitive to his feelings. On the physical side, he doesn’t always like to be touched while my love language is physical touch. He is also sensitive to the feel of certain fabrics and prefers very soft fabrics over anything rough, satiny or overly smooth.

Change for him provokes a lot of anxiety. Starting a new job, moving, me being 39 weeks pregnant are all things he is constantly concerned about.

He goes through phases of being very dedicated to certain hobbies or activities. Not to an extreme or unhealthy level but with a strong desire to be successful. Usually, this habit manifests through various types of games, sports or his cars.

His dedication also extends to me, family and friends. He makes connecting with others a priority. Whether it’s a text throughout the day or driving long distances, relationships are important to him.

Finally, he has incredible attention to detail and is skilled at spatial orientation. He can at times be a perfectionist, while I could care less if something is less than perfect. He is also a confident AZ licensed driver.

I may not understand all the aspects of his ADD but I can appreciate all the ways it makes him a great husband.

For starters, I’m happy being a homebody but he gets bored if we never go out. He encourages me to be more social and introduces me to active things we can do together like working out, going for walks or seeing a sporting event.

I also appreciate his go-go-go approach to life because it allows him to be a tireless provider when he has to work 12-hour shifts.

Secondly, he has taught me to be a better communicator. At times I can be too brash or dramatic in expressing myself. Instead, I’m learning to state the facts, not get caught up in emotion and to have more empathy when needed.

Furthermore, although I don’t like seeing him worry or feel anxious about things I appreciate his deep care and concern for my wellbeing and our growing family. I know I can count on him to take care of us. Even if for him, that means starting a new, more challenging job while his wife is very pregnant and having to relocate soon after the baby comes.

Finally, when my husband commits to a task he’s all in and he will do his very best to achieve a good outcome. For example, I have never questioned his dedication or commitment to me. Every day he affirms his love for me. He’s the one who makes sure we resolve conflicts. He stresses the importance of our relationship with Christ over our relationship with each other. He prays for us, for me and for our life together. He encourages me in my pursuits. He stands up for me in front of others. He’s certainly not perfect but I know his commitment to our marriage does not waver.

Perhaps at one time, his ADD was seen as an obstacle to succeeding academically or otherwise. I don’t see his ADD as a flaw or hurdle to overcome. Instead, I see it as a gift that has made him into the most amazing, caring, sensitive, driven and talented husband and soon to be father.

I hope that our baby girl can learn these same incredible traits from her daddy.


Loving ADD Husband

Why You Should Actually Say Yes More Often

It may seem counterintuitive but I really think that instead of saying “No” more we need to start saying “Yes” more often.

Why You Should Actually Say Yes More Often

Why Should I Say “Yes” More Often?

First off life is short. No one knows exactly how many days are left of their life. Therefore we should use our limited time to the best of our ability.

Additionally, we shouldn’t be selfish in how we designate our time. I love this quotation my mom shared with me this past week from Beth Moore: “God what will you have me do today?”. Instead of getting caught up with the stress of life and letting it dictate our day what if we started our day asking what God would have for us? A simple mindset change can make a huge difference in how our circumstances are perceived. Plus when we intentionally look for ways in how God can use us we are less likely to feel like our life lacks purpose. This also leads to more fulfillment and a less self-centered approach to life.

Here are a few simple ways God can use you today:

  • send an encouraging text to a friend
  • bring a coffee to a friend or coworker
  • donate to a cause
  • smile to the people who serve you and be genuinely kind to them
  • give a generous tip
  • be a courteous driver
  • write down what you are grateful for and why
  • pay for the person behind you in the drive thru

Secondly, relationships are the single most important aspect of life. Our number one relationship is with God as He teaches us how to love, forgive and treat others. He teaches us all people are created equal, to love our enemies (how easy is it to just love those that are kind to us?) and to forgive as we have been forgiven. He doesn’t demand us to follow a strict set of rules instead He gently calls us to follow Him as he teaches us how to live an abundant life.

In addition to our relationship with our creator is our relationship with His created-the people around us. Our family foremost, our friends, our church, our communities. Instead of pursuing things and success more than we pursue others what if we made a conscious effort to connect with just one person a week. Personally, I am so bad for this! I haven’t made it a habit to sit down once a week and just text or message someone important to me. I am aware of this and working to reach out to others more often. One benefit of connecting is feeling more fulfilled and it’s important for my mental health.

Plus I want to share my life with others, I want to build a strong community of people who will encourage me and keep me accountable.

What Are We Saying “Yes” To?

Our Marriages + Families

I firmly believe that a strong marriage is the basis of a strong family. Furthermore strong families lead to better societies. When children know their parents love each other they feel safe and secure. Now, this doesn’t guarantee a perfect family but it does avoid a lot of potential problems.

Furthermore, parents are the primary model for their children’s behavior. I know this may seem intuitive but I see parents all the time who yell at their child for acting out when the parent is almost acting worse than the child. Children will mimic the behavior they see demonstrated in the home. As a mom to be this really weighs heavy on me as I think about habits and behaviors I want to work on. Such as complaining less. I find it so easy to see the negative in situations and I don’t want Baby K to be the same. I’m almost at the point where I’m going to write down “complain less” next to “take vitamin” on my refrigerator whiteboard so I don’t forget.

In order to have a strong marriage and family, we have to be willing to say “Yes” to our families desire for relationship.

Just the other day my husband had an appointment in Hamilton and after he was going to a park to play Pokemon Go. He asked me to join him on his trip so that we could spend time together after the appointment. Although Pokemon is not my most favorite activity I said yes. I reasoned that we only have so much time together so why would I say no to spending time with him. However, I also said yes because I wasn’t committed to any other activities for that day and we have limited time together during the week so I wanted to take advantage of some extra free time we could enjoy together. I am not advocating to be a doormat and always say yes to your husband. I firmly believe in “Courtney time” and “Mike time”, it wouldn’t be healthy if we spent every waking moment together. Yet under the circumstances, it was advantageous for me to say “Yes”. I also know my husband appreciates that I’m willing to join him in an activity he enjoys.

The Little Things

Secondly, it’s important to say yes to the little things. Perhaps your child wants to play a game with you or your sister wants to have a movie night together and buy snacks. The moments I most regret saying no to are others invitations to spend time together. I may feel tired or the activity sounds boring but once I’m doing the activity it often turns out to be more enjoyable than I thought. Don’t be afraid to do things with others that seem silly or a waste of time, because at the end of the day what matters is the precious quality time you were able to spend together.

What Are We Saying “No” To?

Saying yes to a relationship with others means we have to say no to other less important things.

Technology

First off we need to say no to technology. The emails, tweets and Instagram captions can wait. I know a lot of families schedule a period of time from when their children are home from school until bedtime where technology is not allowed. I think that’s awesome as long as mom and dad also have time to connect without their phones interfering.

Activities

Secondly, say “No” to too many activities. Another great tip I’ve heard is for families is to let each child participate in one sport or activity a season. This avoids overwhelming children with too many scheduled items and still allows for spontaneous family fun. Additionally, parents should be aware of how much time they are committing to volunteering even if it’s a ministry activity, the families relational needs should always come first.

Say “Yes” to Quality Time and “No” to Wasted Time

Overall what I’m trying to say is that our time is precious and we just don’t know how much of it we have with those we love. Although it can be easy to not be intentional with our time it is so imperative that we make time for relationships.

My challenge to you is to say “Yes” to one thing somebody asks you to do with them this week even if you don’t necessarily feel like it.

Why You Should Say YES

What are some other things you think we should say “no” to?

How do you intentionally make time for relationships with others?