Tag Archives: family

The myth of sleeping when baby sleeps.


 

The myth of sleeping when baby sleeps

You’ve all heard it: “Sleep when your baby sleeps”, but really? Have they actually tried running a household while sleeping when baby sleeps? I mean, the baby is awake for the grand total of 1.5 hours, and 97.2 percent of that time is consumed with changing their diaper, feeding them, and trying to get them back to sleep. In the approximately 3 minutes remaining, it is pretty hard to make a meal, launder grungy clothes, clean the bathroom, and comb your hair. Let alone get the nail polish out of the carpet in your toddler’s bedroom, or actually eat a meal.

I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me who never outgrew their dislike for childhood naps. Or maybe it’s because every time I decide to be good and lay down for a nap – that’s when my 3 year old decides to wake up early from her nap, or my 6 year old feels its an appropriate time to start screeching “NOT FAIR!!” at her brother (who made sure I was drifting off to sleep before starting to teasing her).
Perhaps I am the only one who has no ‘off’ knob on my brain – and as soon as I lay down in a (relatively) quiet spot for 3 seconds, my brain thinks it’s a perfect time to remind me of that closet that needs organized, and that gunky stuff I saw this morning in the fridge, and did I remember to send the car payment or am I gonna wake up from my nap with no car in the drive?

I try. I really do. I think:
“Today I will get a nap no matter what.”
I carefully instruct and warn (threaten) the older kids: “No fighting! None! A scream will earn you extra chores and you know how bad you hate cleaning the fridge when there’s gunky stuff in there! NO teasing! Actually, you two don’t even talk to each other! On second thought – you all go outside and don’t come back in till I say you can!”
“What If we’re hungry or thirsty?”
“Drink from the creek – pretend you’re pioneers, OK? And you won’t starve in 1 hour, I promise… now go.”
I then carefully get the baby asleep and immediately lie down myself. Its quiet. Peaceful. I will put all thoughts of empty socks drawers and crunchy floors out of my head. We can go barefoot tomorrow. It won’t be fun – with the crunchy floors an all – but I am getting a nap!

I am drifting off to sleep, finally, after several stern self-talks and mental floggings. Then I hear it – screams.
Happy screams. Shouts of laughter and joyful calling to one another, but right outside my bedroom window! I sigh and stick my head under my pillow. That does next to nothing for the volume level. I decide I can sleep through it, and will myself to ignore it and focus on the bird songs and whirring of the bathroom fan that I left running to drown out kid-noises.

Except it doesn’t. Nothing drowns out those happy shouts from 10 feet away. I grin a little, and roll out of bed. Sitting there on the edge of the bed I say aloud:
“I give up. I just give up.” And I stand up and walk to my waiting laundry.
“Sleep is not that important”, I tell myself, soothingly. “You can sleep all you want when the kids are gone.”
I know that’s probably not true – but visions of long, uninterrupted nights in my (very distant) future gives me the umph to go on putting one foot in front of another, sorting laundry and sweeping up kitchen floor crunch. I yawn a few times, and whisper pleadings for strength and grace for the rest of this day. To be happy and patient. To love unconditionally and relentlessly. To have a calm and sweet voice and not bark at my family. Because God has been so good and gracious to me – how can I be less to His children? He does, you know. He does give me grace and patience. Love upon love. And joy. True joy that tiredness can’t quench.
But I have to stay nestled in His arms, covered with His grace, and bathed in little prayers throughout my day. Church and friends and good books and long naps won’t get me through. Only my Father God and His power.

The myth of sleeping when baby sleeps.

We love each other! :)

Note: I don’t recommend having your kids drink from a creek. Especially where 800 head of cows also have access to it, if you know what I mean. They will probably get cooties and leeches and all sorts of gross things. Yuck. Please send a bottle of water out for them to drink. 😉 

February in Wyoming.

Pulling a calf to the warm barn, with mama following.

Pulling a calf to the warm barn, with mama following.

February is a month of love. Valentine’s Day, candy, hearts, and roses. But on the ranch, February is much different. It means long nights of checking heifers, pulling calves, wading through thawing snow, and bottle-feeding bum calves.

It is also the middle of the long Wyoming winter – blizzards and high winds and ice. We have been having crazy high winds the past few days, 75+ mph. It blows over semi-trucks, and blows shingles off houses and blows over anything not weighed down. If the windmill blades aren’t locked down, they will blow right off!

We have been dealing with some sickness,  (not too bad) and it got the baby. One day he was feeling so poorly, that I took him for a drive – just to lull him to sleep. I don’t remember ever doing that before – taking a baby for a drive to make it sleep. But by baby #7, you tend to relax on some things. 😉 Plus, with Cliff sleeping during the day, I couldn’t have him screaming in the house. Anyways, he did go to sleep, and I moseyed around the ranch, stopping to snap a few pictures from the window.

calving cows

The snow has mostly melted, for the first time since Thanksgiving. We had giant snow piles along the lane for months. But I don’t relax too much, because March – May are normally our snowiest months! :) I expect several more big storms before we see real spring.

I am busy with our foster baby – he is a good baby, but still… babies require a lot of time. I almost forget how often they like to eat! 😀 He’s getting chubsy and smiley and oh! so fun. We are all falling in love with him.

Note: I can’t say much about him, due to confidentiality laws. But I’ll address the most asked questions —
No, I can’t tell you why he is in foster care,
No, we are not planning to adopt (we always work to reunify kids with their families), and
No, we have no idea how long we will have him. :) 

So that is why my blogging suffers, right now. I’m busy making bottles, changing diapers, and rocking a cute little boy. :)

February in Wyominghorses on a ranch in wyoming

Today it is really warm outside, and the first calm day for a long time. So the kids ran outside as soon as they finished morning chores – determined to not waste this lovely day! I was happy to see them go. The older ones promised to watch their littlest sister carefully – which made me glad. Teens are the coolest! (lots of tractors/trucks/horses/bulls make the ranch yard not terribly safe for a tiny human)

Yesterday we had a recertification meeting with the foster care co-ordinator. I was nervous, (which was unnecessary,) but as always, she was calm and helpful. I hear so many horror stories of caseworkers and foster care workers, but I guess we are just really blessed. Ours are the best! I mean sure, some are more strict than others, and some are naturally more cheerful, or whatever, but I haven’t had a bad experience with any, so far. Really kind and helpful.

Ok, I’m starting to ramble. I better go throw a load of laundry in the washer.
I hope your day is pleasant and you find a bit of nature to relax in. :)

Wide open places are my therapy.

Wide open places are my therapy.

 

How to make photo albums.

how to make photo books online

I am going to share with you the way I get my photos out of digital storage and into my house. I’ve had many “how do you make these beautiful books?” questions, and today I am showing you step-by-step how I do it. I am not a techy person, so if I can do it – you can too!

Technology is an amazing invention, but sometimes it gets in the way of tangible memories. For instance, how many SD cards, thumb drives, or discs do you have laying around with 1,000’s of photos on them?

I know.

Problem is, we all think that we will ‘someday’ get them printed. Well good luck with that! 😉 Life gets in the way of doing the work. Plus we’re not quite sure how, or where, to print them. Aren’t photo albums outdated anyways? Why not just put them on a digital photo album? Oh yes. Scrolling through a couple thousand photos on your laptop – with relatives and friends hanging over your shoulder – is so exciting! Right?!

Let me tell you, my kids have enjoyed so many quiet hours, paging through our photo books. It is fun for them (and everyone else) to pick up a photo album and look back at  the previous years. I like to keep them on in the living room in a visible spot, so guests can entertain themselves. They are great conversation starters, too!

I will walk you through how I do it, and then give you a few extra tips later. Don’t be overwhelmed by the length of this post – I just give detailed instructions. If you are familiar with copying/pasting photos, it will be a breeze! :)

Here you go:

1. Soon after the beginning of the year, (I do it in January) go back through the previous years’ photos on your computer or phone roll, however you store yours. You do have them uploaded, right? 😉

2. Go through them with a pen and paper, writing down the number of each photo you want. Try to pick only the best ones. You really don’t need 5 photos of your new car. One will suffice. (You’ll thank me later!) I have my photos organized by month, so I do it one month at a time. You do whatever works for you. I realize not everyone has as many photos as me! I have a photo addiction.

3. Once you have the numbers written down, go back and select the ones you chose. I have mine on a Windows desktop — sorry I haven’t figured out the Mac photo thing yet! Anyways, to select multiple photos, you hold the Control ( Ctrl ) button down as you select the ones you want. Once they’re all highlighted, right-click on one of the highlighted photos, and ‘Copy’.

4. Start a new folder for the book photos. Title it appropriately; 2015 Book, or something. Now paste your copied photos into that album. Repeat until you have the best photos from your whole year into that folder. Now go through it and make sure you really need 469 photos! :) If there’s a few you can cut – do it. Whew! The hard part is done! Even if you have to take a day or two for a break, you now have the best sorted out. Just like yearlings ready for market.

5. Go to an online photo printer like Mpix, Snapfish, or Shutterfly. Sign up for a free account, and upload your photos. If you’re tired of working on photos by now – use their autofill method. If you are like me – spend another couple hours placing the photos just perfectly with the correct captions for each! Save it when you’re finished. No – save it after each page is done! I hate losing work!

Frank getting ready to help gather cattle.

Frank getting ready to help gather cattle.

Extra tips: 
Ordering:
You can go ahead and order it at this point. But I like to sign up for their emails and wait on a discount code. I have never paid full price for an album yet. Not sayin’ they aren’t worth it – they definitely are! But when you are on a cowboy’s wages, you learn to be frugal.

Where to start?!!
Start with one year and spend 30 min per day going through them and marking the ones you like, uploading them, and placing them in a book. 30 min per day will get a year done in less time than you think! And just think: a few days of this and you will have a nice album to enjoy forever! Just stick to it. You are an adult. You can do things you don’t enjoy. 😉

I’m so behind I’ll never catch up!!
See, I know how discouraging it is! Let me advise you: keep at it until you are caught up. Do one year per week, or whatever, then let that frustration remind you next January to get right on it! :) You can do this! You just have to sit down and do it for a few days. I missed last year, so for the first time, I have 2 years worth of photos, plus a Florida vacation, multitude of brandings, and miscellaneous events to catch up on. I’m predicting it will take 4 books to catch up. Yuck. Next year you can bet I will get it done in January!

It will break the bank to buy all the books I need!
OK, calm down. Remember I said wait for a coupon? Well, many of these are ‘buy two get one free’, or something like that. And they send a couple per year. So here’s what you do: You make them all right now. DO NOT WAIT. When you get the coupon email, you often have 3 days to use it. You will always be busy those 3 days. So you do not stop till you have made all your books and are 100% caught up. THEN you save them in your account, and wait to purchase till you have a coupon code. I mean, how easy is it to log in, select the book you want, and checkout? But if you think you will wait till you have the coupon, to make the books… well, you won’t do it. Trust me, I know! I let a lot of coupons go unused the past two years, because I didn’t have a book ready, and didn’t have time to make one! So learn from me. 😉

Phone photos
Phone photos actually print off ok as long as they are small. Don’t try to make a phone photo an entire page spread. OK is a relative term… of course they aren’t very great quality, but if the phone photo of your child kissing mama is the only one you have – by all means include it! 30 years from now you will be glad you did. Bonus: if you have mostly phone photos, you can fit a lot more in a book! 😉

Isn’t Snapfish awful quality?
It’s not Miller’s Lab, that’s for sure! But hey, I am not rich enough to pay premium prices on photo books. Sometimes you have to sacrifice quality to get the job done. Don’t worry what people think. It’s better – a thousand times better – to have a finished book in hand, than to be snobby about quality that you will never afford. We are a ranch family – we don’t make a lot of money. (and no, this blog makes no money either!) So far, my friends who look at my books are always surprised when I say they’re made at Snapfish and Shutterfly! I am not endorsing or reccomending any site in particular – just telling you what I have done. Hey, if you only do Chatbooks, at least that’s something! (I will probably unfollow you on Instagram, but do whatever works for you! 😉 ) NOTE: I am more and more dissatisfied with the ‘cheap’ photo printing places. I guess getting quality prints does spoil a person! But I still say – do whatever you can do. 

Cost?
Depends on how many pages, what size book, etc. I usually do the 8×11 books with a 50% off coupon, so they run around 15$ each. (on snapfish) But sometimes I make a 11×14 which is really nice! The coupons usually specify page count, like 20 or something. Pay attention to fine print.

Here is a Shutterfly code: https://invite-shutterfly.com/x/1Y1MYX This will get you a free 8×8 photo book. Plus I will also get one if you use this link. 😉 (new customers only)

OK, I need to get back at it – I still have 2 books to make…
Let me know if I forgot something, ok?
And tell me – do you get your photos printed?

The Making of a Mom.

The Making of a MomThat busy, scatter-brained, slightly frumpy person who knows where to find everything and how to soothe owies and hurt feelings… She didn’t start out that way, you know. She was made. She too, once believed she could avoid the mom-jeans and frizzy hair. That was before she realized well-fitting jeans come at a price that a family budget rarely can fit in. That was before she had a colicky baby who wouldn’t allow trips to the salon, and the salons, by the way, also came at a higher price than she remembered.

She used to be fit. Or at least, young and trim enough that she looked great anyways. But somehow, the years of sleep deprivation and the multiple small humans resting inside her belly wrecked that girlish figure. The chocolate eaten in hiding and the extra coffee to keep her awake  after nights with 2 hours of sleep – they took the vibrance from her skin and the youthful glow from her face. Of course, her smile is bigger now, and her eyes beaming with love! (or is that exhaustion?) 

She sometimes glances in a mirror (mostly to swipe on a dash of makeup, to try and makeup the years and aging), but mostly she avoids mirrors and photos – alarmed at the sight these produce. Instead, she snaps countless photos of her precious family, and tells her husband he looks great – because somehow the years look better on men than on women.

This mom-person was made by countless trips to the baby’s crib in the middle of the night. She was made with sticky jam kisses and screams of anger from the average toddler. From cleaning up puke for 3 nights in a row, although sometimes that odor made her puke, too. She was made in a thousand early mornings, cuddling a new baby – inhaling the fragrance that is better than any perfume. She was made in the laughter shared with teens and the tedious repetition of homework with a first-grader. Crumbs in the car and kitties at the back door. Town runs that include 3 kids under 3 years of age, with every other person looking sympathetically at her. She bites her tongue and smiles, while holding the toddler in one arm and steering the cart with the other hand. No one knows how the correct groceries get into the cart.

Yes, she sometimes sighs a tiny sigh over the complexion she once had, the exercise she can’t seem to fit in, and the books she had time to read in years past. But mostly she smiles. Her heart warms every time she looks at this tribe that she calls hers. She knows them inside out, and loves them with every fiber of her being. And the amazing thing is; they love her too! Even when they sometimes get mad at mom, or forget to leave a cookie for her, or wear her favorite boots to the barn – she knows that one day they will grow up and leave, but always and forever, they will call her: Mom.

the making of a mom

Focusing on the good in foster care.

Focusing on the good in foster care.It has been easy for me as a foster parent to focus on the negativity and the stigma that surrounds foster care. The ignorant or ugly questions, the bad advice (well-meaning or otherwise), the lowered eyebrows and the insensitive remarks. The constant probing, unanswerable questions.
It’s hard to get past that. It’s hard to overlook that. It’s easy to focus on that. Easy to feel that pressure and allow yourself to be stuck in that sad little corner.

But I have found that I can change my focus, and thereby change my outlook. It’s true – the first and most frequent remarks and comments I get, are ignorant at best and hurtful most times. There are many times when the foster family gets overlooked, in favor of the ‘normal’ families. But the fact is, there have been many prayers on our behalf, many kind and encouraging words, several gifts of love, and a couple true-blue friends who invest in my journey as a foster mom. They are there with a listening ear and willing hands.

I can either focus on the unpleasant people, or I can focus on the kind and wonderful friends. The choice is simple. It would be foolish to worry what people think about foster care. The thing is, if God called us to walk this road, then it doesn’t matter who understands. Every person on earth could misunderstand and disapprove, and it would not matter one whit. God is our guide and our Judge, He sees the intent of our hearts, and His alone is the only good opinion I seek.

So I am counting my blessings.
1. A friend who babysat for me with only 12 hours notice, then offered all the baby gear she owned for my foster baby.
2. A friend who faithfully prays for our family and each foster child that we care for. She blesses each child and shows the most devoted love.
3. Sisters who are ready with a listening ear when I am exhausted or excited. They never remind me in the hard times, how excited I was at the beginning! 😉 The sister who is local is always good for baby-snuggling when I am tired and needing a break. She also brings chips.;)
4. Faraway family and friends who send gifts and prayers and love my way.
5. Social media (Instagram!) friends who share their stories and thereby encourage me daily. Their courage, devotion, and faithful love for these little ones bless me tremendously. To hear the struggles, triumphs, and funny stories – these gals get me!

My heart overflows with the blessings God has given me. I snuggle the current tiny one, and breathe in his sweet baby scent, and thank God for allowing me this great blessing of caring for ‘one of the least of these’.

Focusing on the good in foster care.

Finding Your Rhythm

wyoming sunset

I sit here on a dark, chilly winter evening and consider the past few days… I have been dealing with a flu, the cold weather has settled in for real, and the radio blasts Christmas music nearly non-stop. It is that time of year again. Music, candles, sickness and lots of sweaters! :)

I have learned to find my rhythm in this season. I struggled real hard the first few years we lived here in the Arctic – I mean, Wyoming! 😉 I grew up a southern girl, and I haven’t learned to love winter yet, but hopefully one day I, too, can say that I prefer winter over summer! Haha! Maybe…. Anyways, I am thankful for the beauty of the snow and winter season. I am very thankful for snow and ice! Snow = grass for the cows, and that’s every rancher’s main concern. crested wheat

But in more practical terms, I have learned to stock my pantry with staples, because no one enjoys being out of food when the nearest store is 25 miles away over icy roads.

I’ve learned to not over-plan and over-commit, because invariably sickness or bad weather will mess with the best-laid plans. Just today, I had to cancel a girls’ get-together that I’d been planning for weeks, because of the sick bug that has invaded our house. Its a bummer!

I have learned that too many days of school and stuffy house will make the sweetest child grumpy, so we have some random ‘no-school’ days – just to keep everybody fresh and sweet. 😉

That is the main thing, really. Just keeping life a little more simple, a little more laid-back, a bit more white space in my days. Buffer for those things that DO happen, ya know? I tend towards wanting to do everything, all the time. But I am learning that more accomplished is not always the best. Hey – you have no idea how many ideas and dreams and schemes are swirling around in my brain on any given day! 😀 but I am purposing to live quieter, still-er, and slower – especially in the winter months. There is times I must be going, going, going, but – when I can sit and read books to my toddler, when I can listen to the unending stories of my 7 year old – hey, I’m gonna do it!!

Here’s to finding your rhythm, and not scheduling the life right out of your life! :)
Carry on.

November Ramblings…

 

November ramblings...

 

November has brought with it the beginning of winter, finally. We enjoyed such a lovely fall, that it seemed like winter perhaps wasn’t coming! But of course, it did – in due time. We have had several light snowstorms, and some windy days and cold nights. Nothing too major yet.

I have been busy working on some cinch orders, lately. Some are to be Christmas orders, so they need to go out soon. (speaking of… if you want a cinch for that horseman on your list, on’t delay! Soon it will be too late to get it done before Christmas! 😉 )

I have also been enjoying some slower days at home – just puttering. School takes up my mornings, of course, and sometimes part of the afternoon. Then there’s meals and laundry and cleaning. I have been putting a lot of effort into learning the art of a neat home.  My kids are getting older, so no excuse on having piles of mail and random clothes laying around! Of course, the mess still happens, but my goal is to keep after it – get it picked up and neat before supper, for instance, and sped more time on wiping off fingerprints and splatters.

I used to feel it almost pointless to keep cleaning surfaces that would just get spattered again in a few hours, but I have learned that it is blessing my family, when I spend time cleaning my house and keeping it tidy. There is little value in blessing others, if I am not blessing my own family first. So now I grab a cleaning rag and a spray bottle and get busy, and I actually enjoy it! Haha! Never thought I’d say those words, but there you go. Ask God for a heart that is willing to bless your family, and you might just get it!

Which reminds me — I felt cramped in our previous house, especially when hosting overnight company, or serving a dozen cowboys lunch. So I prayed for a bigger house… this house, specifically.  And God allowed us to have this house, after several years. (different house on the same ranch) But guess what?! I forgot that a bigger house means more cleaning! LOL! I now spend at least twice the time cleaning, and I don’t especially enjoy cleaning! So there you have it – be careful what you pray for! :)

Contentment at Home, part 2

Contentment at home, part 2

I wanted to expand and perhaps clarify on my previous article about contentment at home.

First of all, I do have a number of small income-producing ventures. I am not against side businesses. It is my opinion that many women are talented or skilled in many money-making ways. Also, many women are ambitious, organized, or driven, and can therefore expend some energy and time on a business venture without sacrificing her home and family life. My point is; the home must come first. I have stepped back from several projects, simply because they were taking first place in my mind, energies, and time. I have a hard rule for myself that my family will always come first.

Second, I do believe that wives and mothers are to be primarily homemakers, not career women. If there is an emergency or necessity, of course God will grant grace. This is why I specify ‘side‘ business. But – living a more luxurious lifestyle is not a necessity. We have grown so accustomed to luxury and ease (in America especially), that it seems ridiculous to live in a small home, or not have the latest tech toy.  I do not believe women should be giving the lion’s share of their waking hours to a job, when there are children at home.  Titus 2:4-5 We should be investing into their hearts, teaching them about Jesus.

Of course this is not popular teaching. I find in my own self, the same selfish desire to do something for me. But the Christian life is at its core unselfish. Dying to self and living for others – this is the way of the cross. Following Jesus in every way – whether it is popular or not. Matthew 16:24  Remember, Jesus too, was unpopular when He walked here as our example. He was so unpopular that people tried to kill Him!

So my thoughts summed up, are these:
Seek the will of God in every area of your life. Ask Him to show you His will about your ambitions and dreams and goals. Ask Him (and your husband, if you have one) what your priority should be.
Read the Word of God.
Spend time in prayer.
Be willing to be made willing,
as Corrie Ten Boom once prayed.

If you are already a full-time stay at home mom? Learn to find contentment in washing clothes, picking up toys, washing dishes, cooking tasty meals. Every job you do is so very important. It is a calling. It is a foundational career. God sees every effort, hears every prayer, and knows every pain. He will give you wisdom and grace to find contentment at home, if you truly seek Him in the midst of your daily duties.

Contentment at home.

motherhoodIn today’s busy world, there are so many things clamoring for our attention, that it seems rare indeed, to find contentment at home. Society and culture shouts at us to enroll our kids in every thing, start a home business, don’t miss any deals at the store, maybe a side job, hmm? Well, I have done all those things – of course they are not wrong. But the thing is, are they necessary? Are they the best? I have been pondering this a lot the past few weeks.

I started a side business this summer, offering photo sessions. I also make custom cinchas for cowboys. In the past, I have done couponing, Tupperware®, and even started a business of making gourmet pickles and selling them at the farmer’s market.  I have dabbled in many more money-making ventures, and ideas and projects. I love to research an idea and work hard to get it off the ground. So, I totally am coming from the perspective of been there – done that! :)

But something I have noticed in every venture… if it takes me away from home a lot, or if I am at home but it takes a big chunk of alone-time – my kiddos suffer. When I am trying to do too much, I get tired and then I tend to get grumpy, annoyed or frustrated easily. When I have a lot on my mind, I want the kids to just go away and play nicely. Ha! When do kids do that, I ask you?!

I’m being pretty open here, folks. It’s hard to admit. It’s hard to give up my ‘dreams’.  It’s hard and unpopular to say that I can’t have a flourishing side business because I am not good enough to do that and be a loving mom, at the same time. But I see more and more women throwing all their energy into money-making ventures, under the guise of ‘following their dreams’, and ‘not settling’, and lots of other self-centered nonsense. YES. I do believe God gave us dreams for a reason. I do believe that often our desires and purpose are intertwined. I also believe that there are many times that He wants us to wait. To learn some deep lessons of life as hidden homemakers before we can be used effectively for Him.

I can’t say where the line is for you. Maybe you ARE superwoman, and have your ducks all in a row. But I doubt it.  Probably somewhere there is a mountain of laundry you were too tired to face, or a desk piled high with papers you need to file, or a child feeling unloved because your ‘passion’ took you away from them again over dinner hour. There might be a husband who is a teeny bit lonely, deep down, but wouldn’t dare touch your ‘passion’. You know where your limit is. I know mine!

I am not saying you shouldn’t do things you enjoy, or start a side business. But NEVER at the expense of your family. Of course it looks different for every family. I see some women sitting at home, bored and lonely, and wish they would start a side business! But the point is – don’t take on more than you can handle. Make sure your family gets your best, not your leftovers. Even if you don’t have children, your husband and home should take precedence. Learn to find contentment at home, cleaning, cooking, creating a place of rest and beauty.

I am still learning when to say no, and when to say yes. I want to give my children a deep memory bank of wonderful home memories… mom in the kitchen cooking, mom reading to them, mom laughing and playing, mom working in the yard… all those simple things. They only have one mother, and we only have a few years before they are grown and gone. Let’s make every day count! :)

Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,” Hebrews 13:5

Marriage refreshment.

pine forestMarriage is a wonderful thing.
A listening ear when you are full to the brim.
Loving arms to wrap around you when you are needing some love.
Kind words to encourage you.
Kisses to warm your heart and make you smile.
Dreams, goals, and experiences shared.
Laughing together,
Praying together,
yes –
even crying together.
Hugging, holding, knowing, talking, sharing, eating, whispering, loving, caring, smiling.
Every day with someone you love, and who loves you.

Wow. It sounds magical, doesn’t it?!
Oops.

It isn’t, always. In fact, many times we have seasons of paying bills, being sick, tight on money, vehicle breakdowns, disappointments, hurts, sorrows, losses, and even frustrations with each other.

The thing is, the first list is not separate from the second. They go together. We grimace a bit as we pay the dentist bill, but the next minute we are laughing and kissing and tickling. We share dreams over doughnuts and coffee, but our moments alone are interrupted by the baby’s coughing or throwing up. We cry and grieve together over the loss of a loved one, arms wrapped tight around each other – holding the pain at bay. aspen mountains

Marriage is not about living happily ever after. LIFE is still here – waiting to hit us with all the normal struggles and triumphs. But through it all we have each other.

Sometimes, we need to refresh. Sometimes we go through a season of life so hard it rocks our world and makes us gasp for air. Staggering, we catch our breath and go at it again. But we feel choked. We need a breath of fresh air to get our heads on straight. If you hit a really hard spot, if you’re starting to bend under the weight of Life, maybe you need some marriage refreshment. A time of renewal and fresh vision and sweet connecting. mountain stream

My husband and I had hit such a tough spot this summer. Not with each other, but with LIFE. We went through a real tough season of foster care, medical bills, moving, miscarriage, and on and on. We felt like we needed a few days to recoup and refresh. So we dropped the kids off at a friend’s house, and we headed to the mountains for a weekend away.

It was just what we needed. Sunlit forest, golden aspens, quiet town streets, delicious food… we came home feeling focused and ready to hit the ground running.

If you have never left the kids for a couple days and spent a little time on your marriage – I urge you to reconsider! :) It is a wonderful way to reconnect.

When your camera is sitting in the weeds... haha! Sorry, but it's the only one of us, so I included it - weeds and all! :D

When your camera is sitting in the weeds… haha! Sorry, but it’s the only one of us, so I included it – weeds and all! :D