Friday, April 28, 2017

April Book Club: Marriage Matters

April was such a good but crazy month! I didn't do much reading this month, but I did manage to finish Marriage Matters. I'm sharing my thoughts below!

Rating: 3/5 

Synopsis from GoodreadsCan Ordinary Marriages Become Extraordinary?

He snapped at her during breakfast. She brought up a past mistake. He walked out angry. She left without saying good-bye. An ordinary day in an ordinary marriage. But what if things could be different? What if the moments that seem the most ordinary moments of annoyance, conflict, pain, or cold indifference could become moments in which you're able to understand God's incredible agenda for love and begin to do something new?

Winston T. Smith, drawing on his extensive experience as a marriage counselor, offers a simple yet powerful prescription for changing your marriage. He shows how examining the everyday disappointments and irritations in your marriage will help you understand yourself, your spouse, and your need for God's love. Change begins with seeing day-to-day interactions from a different perspective, taking simple steps to love one another more effectively, and then learning how to take those steps over and over again. Interactions that used to devolve into pointless annoyances and fights can become an opportunity for God's activity and love to become increasingly evident and powerful.

The principles in this book will take your marriage to extraordinary places and lead you into a deeper relationship with an extraordinary God. Don't settle for an ordinary marriage, learn to live out God's extraordinary love in your most intimate relationship.

My thoughts: First of all, any book about strengthening marriage is a winner. If you are reading a book about marriage with thoughts of genuinely improving it, good for you! This book had a lot of great things to say about marriage from a Biblical perspective.

I love his ideas on how to overcome selfishness in marriage. It's something we probably all struggle with and it's important to remember that it's not okay. I thought it shared a good amount of advice for both men and women in many different situations of marriage. He talks about hard times in marriage, conflicts, fears, emotions and how to deal with these areas. 

This book also had questions at the end of each chapter to use for yourself or together with your spouse. I thought these were really good and helped draw out some wrong attitudes I've been holding.

That being said, the author drew a lot of points from what I consider faulty theology. While I could recognize that they were still important points, I found this off-putting. Overall. however, I could still enjoy the book for all the great advice it had to offer. 

Read this book if: You enjoy reading marriage books or haven't read a lot of marriage books. This book probably doesn't have anything new to offer that I haven't read before, but if you haven't read any marriage books it might be a good place to start. 

Inspiring quotes from the author: 

It's a common mistake to believe that loving others is the same thing as making them happy. And, of course, your gentle, patient, kind, generous moments will undoubtedly contribute to his or her happiness. But, still, you married someone who has the same capacity as you to be unreasonable, selfish, and blinded by the idols of the heart. Truly to love another sinner as Jesus has loved you will mean having difficult conversations, disagreeing, and even saying no to sinful and destructive behavior. If you truly love your spouse as Jesus has loved you, you'll sometimes get the same response Jesus got- conflict and rejection. Marriage Matters, pg 45 

No matter why you married, no matter what sins damaged your marriage, God's restoration will make it beautiful., not by hiding the past or camouflaging the scars but by helping you to see God's faithfulness and love in it and even using it to draw others to himself. Marriage Matters, pg 251

What did you think of Marriage Matters? Don't forget to check out Morgan's post and join us next month for How to Win Friends and Influence People!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

52 Dates for Two

I'm so excited about this date planning guide I bought from the Dating Divas website. It's easy to put together, you just have to print and cut out all the dates. Most of the dates are easy to plan on the spot, although some of them require a little extra prep. We try to have a date night every week (usually Friday), but sometimes the date night might just be collapsing into bed and watching a movie. As long as it's the two of us with no cell phones, it counts in my book. 

All 52 cards fit in a photo album, with a blank space next to them to add a picture from your date. So every week you can flip through these awesome suggestions and have a  pre-planned date! Make sure to take a picture to add to the photo album. 

Here's an example of two we have done: 

Breakfast in bed: It was Daniel's turn to plan the date, so he went to the store the night before. I'd say this is the best way to do it, otherwise you are going to be waiting for breakfast for a long time! He made eggs, toast, hash browns and fruit. It was super tasty and we enjoyed the meal while watching a movie.

A perfectly convincing "just out of bed" look (;
Planning a dream vacation: This was fun because we didn't just pretend to plan a vacation, we planned our trip to Mexico! We've been talking about it for a long time but we finally decide to go to Secrets in Riviera Maya. It's our first all-inclusive trip and I'm super excited!! I can't wait to eat all the food. 

The egg hunt... the last egg was a clue to find my booked reservation for Mexico! Yay!
I hope you'll check this awesome idea out! What are you favorite date ideas?? 

P.S. I receive a small commission for promoting products I love! 

52 Date Night Ideas for Two |

Friday, April 21, 2017

Marriage Isn't Perfect (And Neither Is Anyone Else's)

I recently posted a picture on Instagram that showed a surprise egg hunt my husband planned that ended with me getting a bunch of "coupons" (read massages, dinner, dancing, etc) and a booked reservation to Mexico. I posted this because it was something absolutely loving that Daniel did for me and I want to brag on him. I think we should brag on our spouses and the awesome things they do for us!

Later, I scroll through Instagram myself and think, gosh, that girl has a perfect life and a perfect husband/kids/house/whatever! I wish I had that! 

We all need to remember that what we see on social media is only what others want and choose to post. The perfect couple is not really the perfect couple. The perfect husband isn't perfect, and neither are the perfect kids. These pictures/posts are only a snapshot of reality. Which is good, in my opinion, because I don't want to see people putting down their spouses/kids for the mistakes they make! 

My husband who surprises me with trips to Mexico, makes dinner daily, works crazy hard and teaches at church makes mistakes too. And in case you were under any crazy delusion that I am the perfect wife, let me tell you... I am not! I fail and let Daniel down often. 

We are not the perfect husband and wife, and neither is anyone else. That's because we are sinners. Two sinners combined cannot make perfection. BUT we are perfect for each other, perfectly designed for each other to help each other grow. We both have habits that drive the other one nearly insane. I think God made it that way to help both of us grow in our characters. 

So just remember when you are comparing yourself to others (whether it be a couple or not), the important thing is to compare yourself to you. Are you becoming the person you want to be? Is your marriage heading in the right direction? 

I think it's fantastic when people post about their spouse doing something awesome. I love it when people post about how much they love their spouse. Instead of becoming jealous, I try to see that as a great thing to strive towards. I want to be encouraged rather than begin playing the comparison game. 

I love my husband and my marriage SO much. I will continue to post about how much I love him and brag about the awesome things he does. We don't have the perfect marriage but we are striving to have a wonderful marriage. 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Learning to Accept Change

Dealing with change can be difficult. Even if it's a positive change, many people struggle with change. I know for myself, change is a struggle because I like routine.

Even with wonderful changes, I found myself afraid of the change that it would bring. So how do you get yourself out there to embrace positive change (and accept what you might consider "negative" change)? I am no expert on the matter, but I tried to think of how I attempt to approach change.  What works for me might not work for you, but hopefully, if you too struggle with change, you will find these tips helpful!

1// Try to see the change from all perspectives. If it's a change that you feel is negative, try to put a positive spin on it. A setback can become an opportunity for growth. Try to remember that even in the painful and the ugly, God is bringing about something beautiful in your life. 

2// Pray! No explanation needed for that one!

3// Take care of yourself. You don't have to be strong all the time-- if you are struggling with change, it's okay to baby yourself. Have compassion on yourself, just as you would on someone else going through a big life change.

4// Remember it's okay to ask for help. You don't have to go at it alone! Enlist a close friend to share your fears with. Allow yourself to be completely honest about what you fear from the change (if it's a positive change, what are you afraid of?) 

5// Improve your emotional wellness. Take time to nurture yourself and just BE, without having to DO.  Read a psalm or listen to a few hymns. It might be through yoga, deep breathing, journaling, or whatever else eases your mind. 

6// Realize that change is an emotional experience. Change, even when it's positive, typically means you are losing something. If you are a highly emotional person (like me!), allow yourself to delve into the emotions you are feeling. Instead of trying to ignore the way you feel, take the time to understand WHY you feel that way.

I'd love to hear from you! How do you accept change in your own life?

Repost from August 7, 2015

Friday, April 14, 2017

Friday loves

It's Friday! I could not be more excited that I have yesterday until Tuesday off work (the clinic is on spring break). I hope you are having a wonderful week and that this weekend will be wonderful. Here's what I am loving lately!

The Jamie Ivey podcast... Jamie interviews inspirational women every week. I just found these podcasts recently so I have been listening to one every day on my way home from work! They are so fun and uplifting. 

I am dying to have these adorable shoes. They look so comfy and perfect for my work! What is your current favorite pair of shoes? 

I'm trying to improve my Instagram with tips from Helene. She has so many awesome tips! You can follow my Instagram to find out more about my day to day life. 

My favorite store, Downeast Basics, is having a sale. I highly recommend you check it out! Their clothing is gorgeous, well made and modest. The swimsuits are so cute and I love this cinched skirt. 

Don't forget to read the book for the April book club. You can find out more here. Marriage Matters is the book we are reading and I can't wait to share it with you!

My new embroidery design is for sale on Etsy. It's colorful and fun, I hope you'll check it out!

So that's what's on my mind lately! Share your favorite links below! 

Now I'm headed off celebrate my brother's birthday by sledding the day away (whyyy is there still snow?!). Hope you have a wonderful weekend. 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

You Can Do It

I started my last clinical rotation last week. I must admit, I had no idea that it would be the way it is (ie working looonger than 8 hours and hardly having a break). There are a lot of things that I like (the patients, the job, the people I work with), but it's just so dang hard to keep up. 

Three days into the job, with my frustration and anxiety bubbling up more each day, I had a complete little breakdown on Wednesday night. My ever-so-patient husband listened while I explained all the things that I wanted to do (blogging, embroidery, Bible study, exam prep, running, spending time with my loved ones) that I suddenly did not have time for. I couldn't stop crying or feeling so anxious. It felt so overwhelming. I suddenly was reduced to working, eating, and sleeping. 

But you know what Daniel said to me after it all? He said, Danielle, lot's of people work more than this. At first, this made me super annoyed. It's just so awesome when your complaining is interrupted, right?! But then, I had a little attitude adjustment and was able to see this as the wise statement that it was. 

This might be hard, and it might not be exactly what I want. But there is always a way through it, if it must be done. 

There are those days. When you feel overwhelmed, overworked, under-cared-for, exhausted, lonely, whatever. I'm so thankful for the people who are there to support me on those days. Like my mom, who made my the beginning of this week so much better by surprising me with a delicious lunch, helping us look for a new rental home, and bringing me (and my boss!) coffee at work! Or my friends Holly and Forrest, who kindly spoiled us while we stayed with them for a visit this weekend. Or my awesome hubs, who goes above and beyond to help me out around the house and listens to my rants. 

If you are having one of those breakdown, overwhelmed, ugly days-- I pray that you will see the light at the end of the tunnel. I hope that you will give yourself a little grace but not wallow in self-pity. I hope that someone will be there for you the way my people are there for me. And if there is anything I can do to help, please leave me a comment below or send me an email. 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Answered Prayers

Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”
When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. 
One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.

 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

Luke 17:12-19

photo by my brother, Colton (: 
This is an excerpt of the Bible that I think shows human nature pretty darn well. There are ten men who have had their incurable disease miraculously cured by Jesus, yet only one goes back to praise God. After receiving healing, the others were too busy to thank the one who healed them!

Side note: If you are wondering what a Samaritan is, they were a group of people living in Israel who were hated by the Jews (and vice versa). So basically, the only person who expressed thanks was the person who was supposed to "hate" Jesus. 

The point of the story is that it's so "normal" of people to receive the greatest gift and not appreciate it, even just moments later. These nine ungrateful men weren't a rarity, it's true of all of us. Once things are going well for us, we tend to forget about how our lives were before. Even if the most miraculous event happened to us, soon it will be forgotten and taken for granted. 

I think how many times I've prayed for things that happened and then didn't even thank God for it. I've heard before that we should thank God for an answered prayer twice as long as we prayed for it. So if I prayed for 2 years to be healed of a disease, I'd be thanking God for 4 years if I was healed!

A few years ago, when Daniel and I were in the process of getting his getting married and getting his immigration visa, we tried to do this. We had prayed about it for about 6 months, so for a long time afterwards we thanked God. It was actually a real lesson in being grateful. It made me remember how desperately I had prayed that Daniel would get his visa. Now that he had it, I didn't want to stop being thankful for it!

Don't forget to thank God for His blessings on you. Happy Tuesday, friends!