Having A Christian Marriage

Last weekend, my church the Uprising, had two guest speakers from Georgia come to speak to couples about being in a Christian marriage.  Wanda & Michael Collins spoke about how a Christian marriage should operate, tips to keep your marriage holy, and its purpose.

Best Christian marriage seminar
This image is from their website.

1. JESUS is coming soon.  Make sure your relationship with GOD is solid.  They encouraged husbands to guard & protect their wives spiritually.  Make sure that you have your own relationship with God and that you pray together, but also separately.  Read the Word together also.

2. Remain faithful & pure.  You need to set boundaries for yourself.  Be mindful of the media & its agenda.

I can’t believe how fast food places are using sexy models to sell their burgers now.  It’s craziness!  One thing that Wanda kept saying over & over again was to guard your gates: your ears & eyes.  Pay attention to what you are watching and listening to.  Watching television with promiscuous behavior and listening to music with profanity will infiltrate your sub conscience and affect you.

Great Advice for Anyone

3. BE passionate for GOD, not just lukewarm.  -See Revelation 3:15.  This reminds me of the movie War Room where the lady gives the other woman lukewarm coffee to prove this point.  Cold and hot both have their place; you can’t do anything with lukewarm.  God wants you to be passionate about Him because He is passionate for you!  Wanda pointed out something that I had never thought of before.  In the Old Testament, when they gave sacrifices to God, they brought the sacrifice to the alter & killed it for God.  When many people marry, they do it at the alter – showing that you die to yourself for your spouse.

4. Dying to Self.  If Christ died for His bride, why can’t you?  Ephesians 5:26, Galatians 2:20.  The speakers pointed out that you shouldn’t let your flesh control you – that’s your mind, will, emotions – instead, you should allow the Holy Spirit to control your actions.  -Luke 22:42

This helps with your witnessing to others.  We need to let Christ live through us to show others the way, not just give lip service!  As Christ-followers, we need to stand out.  Dying to yourself will definitely make others curious, which opens the door for some honest sharing.

5. Ask GOD to fill you with Holy Spirit because you can’t do this on your own.  They said to think of something that your spouse does that drives you crazy.  Maybe it’s not turning the lights off when you leave the room, chewing with their mouth open, interrupting you when you are talking, etc.  Your spouse was given to you by God to help develop you.  Your spouse is killing you because they are helping you die to yourself!

We all need sandpaper in our lives.  Some people are the coarse and others are the fine sanding.  At the end, there is a beautiful masterpiece, but the process can be painful.  Your spouse helps make you a better person.

Powerful Advice for Christian Marriages

6. The Collins’ gave this important request to wives: Give your husbands quiet time so that he can hear from GOD.  Wives are not the Helper.

So many women (myself included!) talk so much that there is little time for quiet.  Don’t feel like you have to fill every moment with sound.  The silent brings a calmness – Be still & know that I am GOD.

Make sure that you (wives) guard your words and are in tune with Holy Spirit.  Ephesians 5:25.  They reminded wives to keep GOD a first priority, husband as the 2nd and children as 3rd.  This is very difficult to do sometimes.  It is very easy to put your children before your husband.  That’s not how GOD designed it.  Just remember: you have your children with you directly for only a season, but GOD designed marriage to last for the rest of your life.

7. Next, for the husbands: put your wife before other people & things.  Take the lead in dying to yourself.  Nothing but God should come before your wife.  Not your job, your phone, even your ministry!  Your marriage is a ministry.  The Collins’ encouraged couples to create a mission/vision statement for their marriage.

If you are constantly putting the other spouse first, many problems and arguments can be avoided.

marriage advice for Christian marriages
Stop fighting each other!

8. They closed with this: How do you know you’ve died to yourself?  Your responses will change because you’re trying to please the Father.  Remember: your spouse isn’t trying to cause you harm!  That’s the will of the devil.  You should not be fighting your spouse [both of you pointing guns at each other]; the two of you should be fighting off the devil and attacks together [both of you standing back to back with guns pointing outward-think the Charlie’s Angels stance].  Fight the real enemy, not each other.  They encouraged couples to use their story to make a difference.

The purpose of your marriage is to make you holy & glorify GOD.  Make you HOLY not HAPPY.

Other Resources:

They recommended a book: Sacred Marriage.  Sounds like a great read.

I highly recommend using the Collins’ website.  It’s jam packed with devotionals, coupons and other resources with information to benefit your Christian marriage.

Here’s the website of my church.  Find sermons and information on other activities.

What I try to remember is this: love is not always a feeling, some days it’s a choice.  No matter how you feel, you made a promise to GOD that you would love your spouse until the end of your life.  There will be hard times mixed in with the good.  Don’t give up during your lowest points!  That’s when GOD can grow and stretch you the most!

Our relationship with GOD and each other has always grown immensely in trying times.  Marriage is no exception to that rule.  Don’t give in to popular culture and think if something is “broken” that you throw in the towel.  Fix it, make amends, try something different, talk to someone you trust, and pray of course!

Try to love your spouse the way that GOD loves your spouse.

Taking Charge of Your Health – Part I of III

Great health tips - know that you are eating pure, real stuff

Okay, so my family started changing our health for the better about 2 1/2 years ago when we were expecting our first child.  We decided it was time to stop talking about getting healthy and just do it!  Little did I know that our decision would change our lives forever!  Now, please don’t think that I believe I have it all figured out.  I am still learning new health tips and tricks every week.  Just wanted to share with my readers some things that we have learned along the way.

To make it easier, ideas will be presented going from simple changes to more drastic lifestyle changes.  You don’t necessarily have to go in order; this order just made sense to me.


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Step 1: Drink Water for Your Health

Drink half your weight in ounces of water and get at least 8 hours of sleep each night.

I know, I know.  Drinking that much water is difficult.  It is much easier to do when water is the only thing that you drink.  We love our Hydroflask travel containers and my hubby loves to drink beer out of their flask.  Stainless steel is way better than plastic and it maintains the temperature.

I have a glass of water before I eat every meal.  The best thing for your digestive system is to drink water at least 15 minutes before and after the meal, not while you are eating.  Drinking while eating disrupts the normal enzymes that are breaking down the food you are eating by watering them down.  It’s also better to drink water that is room temperature – unless it is during the summer and your body needs to be cooled down.

I know there are some devoted soda drinkers reading this……. It’s always a good idea to research what you are consuming.  I read somewhere that a bottle of Coke has like 37 teaspoons of sugar in it!  Sodas are empty calories.  Let.Them.Go.  I had a family member give up sodas cold turkey and she lost like 10 pounds!

You are going to have to use the restroom more often, which although might be inconvenient, is actually better for your body.  Flushing your system out is a great way to rid your body of toxins.

Side note: Sleep should be a no-brainer, but we always seem to cut into sleep time.  Sleeping gives your body time to relax and reset for the next day.  Not getting enough sleep affects your mood, metabolism and energy level.

Great health tips - know what you are eating

Step 2: Be Educated about Your Health

Educate yourself about the food industry and tricks. Check out Food Inc. on Netflix.  The food industry has basically hi-jacked the food that we consume.  Between genetically modifying the cellular structure of produce to pumping animal meat with all kinds of hormones, they are really causing havoc in our bodies.  The consumer prefers breast meat, so the food industry has modified chickens to have larger breasts than normal.  There are NO studies available to show the long term effects this has on the humans who consume the food!  And we wonder why children in 3rd grade are going through puberty…….The bottom line is that the food industry is out to make money.  They modify ingredients because it’s cheaper to use fake sugar than the real stuff.  Also, sugar makes food more addictive, so that’s why it’s in almost everything.  EDUCATE yourself people because the food industry is not your friend.

Read the ingredients of the food you buy. Don’t just look at the Nutrition label!  A good rule is if you don’t know how to say the ingredient out loud, you shouldn’t be eating it.  Also, the fewer ingredients, the better.  So many boxed foods contain ingredients that are 18 letters long and look like they belong in a chemistry lab.  You need to know what you are eating!

Step 3: Don’t Eat Out

Eat out sparingly. When eating out, it is really hard to know exactly what you are eating and to eat healthy. So, eating out should be a treat.  We reserve eating out for special occasions.  It’s okay to give in to cravings and eating the not-so-healthy foods every once in a while.  This prevents binging on foods when you deprive yourself of them.

It has also been great that I wash and cut our vegetables to have on hand. When you are hungry, you want something to eat right then; not something that has to be washed and cut. When you are hungry, laziness WILL win.  If you have the choice between fresh cut veggies and greasy potato chips, your body really wants the veggies.  Healthy foods that are all ready to eat increase the chances of you actually eating them.

Step 4: Clean Out Bad Foods

This is a big one.  Clean out your pantry.  If you currently have foods in your house that are awful for you and your family to consume, the best thing to do is get rid of them.  Now, I am not one to toss perfectly good food – meaning it hasn’t expired yet.  But, if you really want to take control of your health, this is a vital step.  You don’t necessarily have to throw the food away.  Find a local food pantry or homeless shelter in your area and donate the food.  It’s a win-win.  Your family instantly has the bad food temptation removed and some people who have nothing to eat can at least feel full.

Great recipe for healthy waffles!

This one was really hard for me.  I do NOT like throwing food away and felt like we were being wasteful when we boxed up all the food we didn’t think we should eat any more.  After a few weeks, I began to understand just how powerful food can become.  DO NOT let your food cravings control you.

Mind over matter really works.  When your body is used to eating whole, healthy ingredients, it will not want the other junk.  Sometimes I will see how long I can go without [insert your favorite indulgence] just to test myself.  Remember, it’s all a balance.  Try to eat mostly healthy and allow yourself to “cheat” every once in a while, but not so often that it becomes a habit.  We try to live by the 90/10 rule.  That’s 90% of the time we eat healthy and 10% of the time we give in to cravings of not-so-healthy foods.

The most important thing that I have learned through this process is to give yourself grace.  You will make mistakes.  You will mess up.  That’s what learning is all about, though!  Don’t get discouraged!

Click here to read Part II.

For more information, check out my video:

Organizing Essential Oil Bottles

After being a Young Living distributor for over two years, we have accumulated quite a few bottles of different essential oils.  We ordered cases to store them, but not only was that getting expensive, but the cases have tops.  This makes them great for travel, but not so home-friendly.  The way we were organizing essential oil bottles had to change!

How to store essential oils on the cheap!
We love the case and the cap labels, but are running out of room!

After doing lots of research, the containers that were available to purchase just seemed like too much money.  My husband suggested that we use the containers that the company sends the oils in since they basically cost us nothing extra.  So, we started saving the containers.

Making Your Own Storage / Organization

IMG_3116

These are the containers that we were shipped in one month’s large order.  It doesn’t take long to build the collection needed to store a large amount of oils.

Store essential oil bottles using materials that you probably have on hand.

Cut the tubes to the desired height.  Hubby used a hack saw to cut them.  We decided to cut them all the same so the small 5 ml bottles would also fit.  I used a ruler to make the rows straight.

Essential oil bottle storage!

Attach the cut tube pieces to a piece of cardboard that you have already cut.  (Measure how large you want to make it first.)  I started using hot glue to attach, but then I ran out so hubby picked up some tacky glue at Lowe’s and that worked great.  Glue, place, press.  Repeat.

How to store essential oil bottles in the home.

Here’s what it looks like!  This storage system works great for us.  I measured and created this to fit in a drawer in one of our cabinets.  That’s awesome because you can customize this to whatever size you want.

As we get more oils, we re-arrange the bottles.  Our type A personalities require us to store the oils in alphabetical order.  Yes, I re-organize them each time we get a new oil.  It just makes it so much easier to find what you are looking for!  This system makes it easy to change where the bottles are placed.

Storing this amount of bottles can be very challenging.  I hope that you find this helpful!

Learn more about Young Living here.  Read more about essential oils here and here.

Ways to $ave money

Saving money is definitely important in all aspects of life, but especially if you are trying to pay off debt.  The average American household as of April 2014 has $203,163 worth of debt including mortgage, student loans, credit cards, etc. (Source).  I’m almost positive that this number must be higher now.  Our cultural mentality is gimme gimme more more more.  I’ve written about de-cluttering in a previous post.  Less is more, especially when you don’t really have the money.  So, with that being said, let’s talk about some ways to save some dough.  These are listed in no specific order…….

  • IMG_3075Make a Budget and stick to it!  Have a monthly budget meeting.  You can learn more from Dave Ramsey here.  In fact, if you are trying to pay off some debt, I strongly recommend going through the Financial Peace University.  That will give you some ideas and tools to really attack your debt.  Great starting point.
  • Shop second hand.  Consignment shops, thrift stores, used/refurbished online items.  There are many great items in my closet and home that we have purchased used.
  • Cancel monthly trash pick up.  You will have to check with your state to see if you are able to do this.  We live in Delaware and order cards from the state to take trash bags to the transfer station.  There is an upfront cost of purchasing a large container to hold your trash and recycled materials, but it is well worth it.  We were spending about $35 per month on trash and recycling services.  Now, we are spending about $30 per YEAR!  My husband takes a load about every two weeks.  It does take some time, but the financial gain was awesome!
  • Cancel Netflix/Hulu/DirecTV services.  My household has talked about this, but we haven’t actually done it yet.  Families spend too much time watching television when they could be doing other things together.  This not only saves money, but gives a gift of TIME.
  • When preparing meals for dinner, double or triple the recipe.  This also gives you the gift of TIME.  Make two or three of whatever you are preparing and freeze the extras.  It’s not that hard to make more when all of the ingredients are already out.  Then, you have extra meals that you simply take out of the freezer and bake/warm-up.
  • Don’t go shopping.  We stopped going to the mall after doing the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University.  We were spending too much money on things that we really didn’t even need.  Instead of going to the mall, we take a walk, go to the zoo, etc.  Read more about family activities here.
  • Get creative on dates.  See who can find the best coupon, price, deal, etc.   We like to put J to bed and then do something together at home.  It’s easier and cheaper.  Minimal planning.
  • Call companies and ask for a cheaper rate.  Usually when you threaten to to cancel a service, companies will find all of these great deals for you, which has always frustrated me.  If they can offer it when you complain, why not just give it to me to begin with?!  We have called our car insurance, Internet provider and cell phone provider.
  • Grocery shop using a list.  During your budget meeting, you will need to decide what amount you have available to spend on food.  Use that to meal plan and create your list.  We use the Buy Me a Pie app to create our grocery list.
  • Don’t buy things just because they’re on sale.  This one is really hard for me.  I love a bargain.  But, I was buying things because I liked the price, not necessarily the item itself.  Now, I decide whether I like it before I see the price, and then decide if I will buy it after I see the price.
  • Sleep one night before making major $ decisions.  Buying cars is not a fun process for most people.  Even though you just want to get the process over with, we have found that if you leave the lot and then decide, you are less likely to make the wrong decision.
  • Ditch the drugstore.  Stock up on homeopathic supplies instead of going to the drugstore.  Essential oils, Rescue Remedy, and Sovereign Silver are all great ways to support your body’s systems.
  • Amazon subscribe & save.  If you sign up on Amazon to receive items monthly to save a percentage.  You can have items shipped every month, every two months, or any amount of time.  You are allowed to skip a shipment.  If you get more than one item doing the subscribe & save during one month, you get extra savings.  Read more here.
  • Use the envelope system.  This is another Dave Ramsey trick.  After budgeting, put specific amounts of cash in envelopes.  When the cash is gone, you can’t buy any more.
  • Empty all change into a jar.  When you use cash, don’t pay for things with change.  Put your change in the jar and when it’s full, use it to do something special.
  • Don’t buy clothes.  This was really hard for me.  I love to shop.  And I love clothes.  When you think about it, we really don’t need that many clothes.
  • Use online banking.  Stamps are so expensive!  Save the money on stamps and checks by setting up online banking.  This also saves TIME!
  • Make your own bread.  I love bread.  After looking at the ingredients and doing my own research, I learned that High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is really bad for you.  Read more about food here.  All the bread that we were purchasing had HFCS in it.  I found a great recipe online here.  It is a process because you make the dough in the bread machine, let it rise, then bake it.  I usually double the recipe.  It is the best bread I have tasted!  Sweet enough to eat plain, perfect for sandwiches.
  • Remove saved credit card information online.  It is much too convenient to make a purchase!  If you know that you have to find the card and enter all of that information in manually, you will think twice about making the purchase.  Online shopping is great, but it can be expensive because of how easy it is!
  • Make breakfast sandwiches ahead of time and freeze.  Stopping at fast food places to grab breakfast on a busy morning is bad for your health and your wallet.  When I was pregnant and eating several meals a day, I would eat breakfast at home, but was ready to eat again by the time I got to work.  Teaching made it difficult because I’m not really supposed to eat in front of the students.  I would bring in breakfast sandwiches and eat one right before the students came to school.  It’s really easy to find lots of recipes for these on Pinterest.
  • Embrace a simplistic lifestyle.  LESS is MORE!  Think birthdays & Christmas…… We decided that J would only receive a few presents for her birthday and Christmas.  Something to wear, something to read, something she wants & something she needs.  Although she is only two, we plan to continue this so she doesn’t learn to expect all of this STUFF.  It makes me sick to hear how much money people are spending on their children for Christmas and birthdays.  The retail industry really has ruined holidays.  I want to teach her about the meanings behind why we celebrate, not set her up for a life time of expectations.

Hope this can help another family!  Money issues always bring tension in a relationship.  Don’t let your stuff take over your life.  Take control of your finances today!

 

 

Overall Health and Wellness

My family has been on a health journey for a few years where we are trying to improve our overall health and wellness.  So, I’ve been doing a lot of research on the various products that consumers use on a daily basis.  Its seems that for whatever reason, our country is very slack about regulating dangerous ingredients.

In addition, the average consumer doesn’t even really pay attention to the ingredients.  I can’t tell you how many people I have talked to who have no idea what natural flavors are…….. They are in almost everything!  What surprises me the most is that these same people are not concerned or bothered in any way that their food has this general ingredient in it.  Over the past two years, my family has slowly made the switch to eating more wholesome foods.  You know, like the kind where you can spell/say ALL of the ingredients.  There are some companies that are getting it right.  Every now & then, we will find a new product that has real food as ingredients.

Take Time to Do Your RESEARCH

Many food companies unfortunately are only in it for the profit with little or no regard to the general health of the consumer.  It is up to the consumer to do their own research and spend the extra 10 seconds in the aisle looking through the ingredients.  There are so many people who do not want to do that!  I wonder how many of our diseases are prevalent because of the food/junk that we are filling our bodies with.  Do your research.  Know what you are eating.  If I can’t pronounce or don’t know the ingredient in something, I generally won’t buy it.  The chips below were a recent find at Sam’s Club. Three ingredients!

Read the ingredients of what you are putting into your body. If you can't even say the ingredient out loud, do you think you should be eating it?

I like to apply the real ingredient rule to all products in my home.  Home care products are perhaps the worst.  Many ingredients of well known and used companies are known carcinogens and endocrine system disruptors.  The skin absorbs ingredients too!  If you wouldn’t eat it, don’t put it on your skin.

Clutter is bad

…….. Having clutter says a lot about the current culture that we live in.  Many people believe that more is better, but I’m here to tell you that it is NOT.  Having more stuff means you have more stuff to clean/clean around.  It means that you have spent time & money on something that does not serve a purpose.  I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have nice things.  Just remember: they are things.  I hate cleaning to begin with, but when you add moving 50,000 things around just to dust, it becomes completely overwhelming!

This tiny living movement is encouraging, although, I don’t think at this stage in my life that I am willing to sacrifice that much space with a child and God-willing more to come.  At least, it’s making people think about what is important and what can be relocated.  Sell your stuff to make some extra cash, donate to a local thrift store, give to needy.  The options are endless.  And although it may be really difficult to get started, it is well worth the effort.

I think the hardest part of the home for me to get rid of was in my closet.  I don’t know what it is about women and clothing, but man was that hard.  Once I made the first step, it has become really easy and FREEING to scale down my wardrobe.

I read somewhere that everything we own holds a place in our subconscious mind.  Whoa.  Every. Single. Thing.  I have moved several times, so I know how much stuff we have.  Just that thought alone has made me more willing to let go of things that really have no purpose or meaning.

I encourage you to try it.  Pick one room in your home and look around.  Is there anything in it that doesn’t serve a purpose?  Could you do without something for two weeks?  Two months?  Two years?  If you don’t even know that you have it, shouldn’t it be used by someone else?  I promise that once you start, you will feel so much better.  If one room is too intimidating, try one area.  I used to be big into scrapbooking, so I focused on my scrapping stuff.  Start somewhere.  This week.  Challenge accepted?