Friday, February 17, 2012

An ode to natural remedies...

You all know by now that I try to avoid the doctor's office at all costs and especially try to avoid any kind of medicine. Sometimes that is really hard and it takes longer to get over an illness because an antibiotic might bring relief in just 24 hours but it might take a week for the body to fight off an infection naturally. A lot of times, especially with a baby, I question myself and wonder whether I should just let a doctor look at her to be on the safe side. So far, however, I've never regretted keeping her home but I have indeed regretted a trip to the doctor that resulted in trauma and medicine when she could have probably gotten over it naturally. So I think I'll just keep on doing what I'm doing :)

Anyways, because I sometimes need reminding that natural remedies really do work, I thought I'd post about a recent fast success. Tuesday, I woke up with a sore throat and lots of pressure in my head. I had a busy day planned (Valentine's Day) and was just hoping it would go away. By the time I got the girls to bed that night, I knew I was coming down with the crud that Abbi had so I started to treat myself. I made myself a "lovely" concoction of super strong kombucha, elderberry syrup, apple cider vinegar, grapefruit seed extract, and astragalus tincture. I drank it before bed and woke up the next morning feeling about the same, but not at all worse. The next day I drank the same concoction and took ginger, cayenne pepper, boswellia, tumeric, and garlic after each meal. I took collodial silver in between meals. I also stayed away from sugar, white flour, and dairy for the day. All symptoms had disappeared by the following morning. I am certain that all my natural remedies halted the impending illness that had started to get me down

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The best marriage advice given to me...

While a lot of people struggle the first year of marriage, Mark and I found that having children placed a lot more stress on our marriage than the craziness of our first few years together. I had been waiting my whole life to have a husband to love and serve and joyfully accepted the challenges that marriage threw my way. We were blessed to have a relatively easy and happy first year of marriage. However, once I had a baby, things changed. He was no longer the only person I was taking care of and it just wasn't the same. I was too exhausted to want to fix him a late night snack (with all the accompanying dishes) or attend his evening basketball game and hang out at a restaurant afterwards, or give him a massage at any hour of the night, or all those other fun things we did together when we were first married. We were both excited about the baby and he took it well and was a great help and never complained, but things were definitely not the same. And that is ok; there is no doubt in my mind that our precious children are worth it! But it just means that we have to work a lot harder on our marriage now than we did back then when it was just us.

So honestly, the best marriage advice I ever received actually sounds a lot like parenting advice because the two definitely go hand in hand: give the children an early bedtime! On a normal night, we try to have all the kids in bed by 7:00 so that we can have a good three hours to get ourselves organized for the next day and hang out together -- plenty of time to watch a movie together or have a date night or just chat on the couch. Usually Mark gets home sometime between 5:30 and 6:00 and we eat dinner together. Then the girls pick out a game to play with Daddy for about 20-30 minutes and then we start our bedtime routine of potty-time, pajamas, singing, Bible stories, memorizing Scripture, and prayers. And off they go to bed around 7:00. It may sound like they don't get to see him that long at night, but it is very focused, personal, quality time together -- he is not distracted by the TV, computer, cell phone, or anything else and they receive his full attention. They also get to play with him again in the morning between 8 and 9:30 before he goes to work. And he usually spends his day off with them, running my errands, taking them to story time at the library, and playing outside with them. But the evenings are for us to enjoy together.

Lest you think we are being too selfish, let me assure you that my girls actually normally sleep from 7pm to at least 7:30am and truly seem to need it. We definitely observe more grumpiness and meltdowns on the days following nights that we allow them to stay up late for one reason or another (grandparents visiting, social activity, etc). They also thrive on a routine and look forward to their Daddy playtime each evening and enjoy our bedtime ritual. On nights when we are out and about before bedtime and don't have time to do our entire routine, it is much harder to get them to bed without fussing and meltdowns. But if we stick to our routine, there is rarely a difficult evening.

Now I know that an early bedtime might not work for different families with vastly different work schedules, but my point is really to just make sure that you carve out some regular time with your spouse each day. The advice given to me was to give the children an early bedtime and it has really worked well for our family. But maybe instead of putting the kids to bed early and hanging out you might need to get up a little before them in the morning to have time together or plan regular lunch dates if your kids are up early for school. Feel free to comment and share about how you make time with your husband after having kids!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

What I wish I had understood in high school...

One aspect of preparing for marriage that no one really wants to talk about is modesty. I thought that I understood the basics... My parents and I had many battles over the length of my skirts and shorts growing up! I was incredibly obedient and in fact overly modest until about 8th grade when a "cool" friend told me that I had great legs and I ought to roll up my skirt a bit to show them off. I had never even thought about it before, but that opened my eyes and began the lie in my heart that I needed to show a little skin in order to be beautiful. I was careful to cover up my cleavage and belly, but oh, did I try to get away with short skirts! I think back to what I tried to get away wearing in high school and I cringe in shame. It was pale compared to many girls in my school, but appalling by my current standards of modesty.

The truth is, I had been well instructed in modesty by my parents, but I never really understood the struggle that all men face so it was not a rule that I thought was important to follow.

I thought that all they had to do was look away if they felt tempted, just as I would look away if I saw a movie with something inappropriate in it. Not hard at all for me to do, so why should it be a big deal for them? In my mind, it was their problem, not mine. (And yes, I know how horrible that sounds; I'm just being honest. I have struggled with many sins over the years (obviously self-righteousness and pride included), but lust has never been one of them and I simply could not understand.)

By the time I met Mark, my standards had improved greatly because I knew the kind of guy I wanted to marry and I knew he wouldn't want a girl wearing short skirts! All my skirts were pretty close to my knees so I was greatly surprised (and incredibly mortified) one Sunday afternoon when he sat down and brought up this discussion. He told me that I was beautiful and that he loved to look at me but would I please make sure my legs were covered up during church because he found it hard to focus on God when I was sitting beside him with bare skin. Even though my skirts were almost to my knees, when I sat down, they rose up (of course). So that day I learned just a bit of the struggle that guys face and after getting married I understood more and more.

Disclaimer: This post is not at all about how long a skirt needs to be and I don't dress with skirts to my ankles even today. I happily dress for my husband and he helps me to know what he thinks is pretty and appropriate and what he likes to see me in around the house and out in public. What is most important is my heart's motive in dressing and I thank God that He used one of the most godly young men I had ever met to convict my heart.

I am writing this post because I am sure that there are many other young women who, like me, do not understand the battle that goes on in a man's mind. I recently saw the following video from CJ Mahaney and immediately knew that I should share it on here. Please watch it. Please watch the entire video. You might think you "get it" after the first minute, but as you continue to watch your understanding will deepen and your desire to serve your brothers will grow. It is worth your time. THIS ARTICLE by Mary Mohler is also a great resource, particularly if you are hoping to help your daughters understand modesty. And I recently listened to a great downloaded sermon from Dr. Pete Schimm from his Church's website. You have to scroll down to Sept. 4, 2011 to the one entitled "On Lust part 2." The entire sermon is good, but the conclusion is especially helpful when he directly addresses men, women, and teenagers practically. But if you don't have time to check out the other resources, please spend a few minutes watching this short video:

Thursday, February 2, 2012

How to get something small out of a kid's nose

I know you are wondering which one of my girls gave me reason to find this useful tidbit. I hate to disappoint you, but thankfully I have not had reason to use this trick yet. It simply sounds like something that will probably happen at some point so I wanted to blog this tip so I'll be able to find it someday when I need it :) I try to avoid the ER at all costs.

If your child pushes something in his nose so far that is seems impossible to get it out, have the child lie down, pinch the opposite nostril, and blow into his mouth. The object will immediately fly out.

Many thanks to A Well-Feathered Nest for posting this tip!

2 things to consider:

When I began thinking about the topic of preparing for marriage, I immediately thought back to two different major conversations that Mark and I had when we were engaged.

The first conversation dealt with expectations, which any marriage counselor will tell you can be a big problem in marriage. I had read every marriage book I could get my hands on but was still not quite prepared for the one that would be the first big struggle for us. Mark was a youth pastor at a church and I began attending and helping out with his ministry once I graduated from college and moved to his town. I really enjoyed the kids and being a part of his ministry, but one night he asked me to talk with some girls about an issue that I wasn't really comfortable doing. It was definitely an issue that needed to be addressed by a girl (not by him!) and not an unreasonable request, but I was just beginning to have a relationship with these girls and didn't feel right in confronting so soon. He was pretty frustrated with me and it lead to some concern about whether I would be able/willing help to him in ministry the way he had hoped. (Note: he was not being mean at all but was just floored at my refusal and it made him think hard about what our ministry together might be like.) After some discussion, I finally looked at him and said, "I'm not going to try to convince you that I am going to be the perfect pastor's wife. I do want to help you in whatever way I can, but I'm sure I will disappoint you sometimes. What I need to know is whether you love me enough to want to marry me even if I cannot do everything you would like me to do." It was a tough conversation and he actually had to take a few days and really think about his expectations for his wife in ministry and how important they were to him. But it was a good revelation and I was glad that he thought it through before we got married rather than dealing with a major conflict after our wedding day. Obviously, he chose me over his expectations and it honestly hasn't been an issue since, but I thought that the discussion could apply to any area of life. Before you get married, you have to decide if the person is more important to you than your dreams and expectations. After you are married, you have to remind yourself that your spouse is more important than your expectations and choose to love even when disappointed.

The second conversation occurred when we were discussing some things that we had talked about during pre-marital counseling. He randomly looked at me and said, "I just want you to know that I will never divorce you. Even if you were to have an affair, I would choose to love you and try to reconcile our relationship." I was pretty shocked by his statement and initially almost appalled that he would bring up something so horrible that I had no intention of ever doing. But the more I thought about it, the more it meant to me. In my mind, having an affair was the most horrific thing I could do. If he would still choose to love me after such a terrible sin, then there was probably nothing I could do to ruin this upcoming marriage! It totally took any pressure off me to be the "perfect wife" and was ever so freeing! And it made me love him even more. That is indeed the depth of covenant that a marriage vow holds and it is wise to consider it before getting married.