Monthly Archives: February 2015

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The Love Story that Saved my Marriage

Even now my love story is hard to write about without great emotion.

It’s been 8 years since the majority of my story takes place. 11 since I met my husband.

We became friends in Bible college, and he immediately impressed me with his love for doctrine and the Bible. I quickly viewed him as a great spiritual leader.

After almost 3 years, we hoped to be engaged, but my dad had reservations. Although we had stayed pure in our relationship, my dad was unsure if we were well-matched and mature enough for marriage.

We said we’d wait as long as necessary, but my father asked us to end the relationship and break off all contact.

With incredible sorrow (and a couple days of trying to persuade my parents otherwise), we agreed to honor my parents and submit to their counsel.

There were many spiritual struggles I had to deal with during the coming months -

- Bitterness toward my father and those who spoke for the break-up

- Fear of man’s opinion. What if people thought we were broken up because we sinned?

- Jealousy toward my twin sister who, with my parents’ blessing was planning a wedding to a mature and godly man she’d dated for 6 weeks before becoming engaged

- Deep, deep grief. I actually went through the 5 stages of grief as if my boyfriend had died.

But the greatest struggle by far was wondering if I was ‘missing’ God’s will for my life – I feared that if I obeyed God, honored my parents, and broke up with my ‘soul mate’ I’d miss all that God had planned for me.

I feared that my dad (who never talked about the Bible and theology as eloquently as my boy friend) was not ‘in tune,’ to God’s leading.

Finally though, I had to realize that my struggle was NOT whether or not I trusted my dad.

My struggle was whether or not I trusted GOD.

During those deeply lonely months, I had to wrestle with my view of God.

Was He good to allow this?

Was He powerful enough to work this out for good?

Was He going to work it out for MY good or only His good?

I remember driving alone early on a cold February morning sobbing about Romans 8:28.

(Romans 8: 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.)

“Lord!” I cried. “Is the ‘good’ MY good or YOUR good? Can it be good for me too!?”

Slowly and mercifully, God grew my faith in Him and my love for Him.

He would work out good for me – despite imperfect leadership, loss and failure.

One thing that stands out in my mind from that time was when I held a Bible study and special dinner for a couple of newly saved teenagers and chose to use the special dishes bought for the home I planned to make with my lost love.

I stood there looking at the beautifully patterned place settings and seeing a clear physical picture of God  taking my lost dreams and working them out for good.

God was both good and powerful, and even if He did not allow me to marry the man I loved, He would have something even better for me.

5 months later, at the right time and in the right way, my parents gave their consent for Jeremiah and I to reestablish contact, and the next year we were married with their blessing on 8-2-08, a fluke coincidence that always makes me smile when I think of my wrestle with Romans 8:28.

Love Story 2But the deeper love for God and greater trust in His omnipotent hand that grew in my new husband and I during our separation came with us into our marriage.

In almost 7 years, we’ve endured miscarriage, unemployment, a premature baby, 4 children, a fixer-upper house, ministry and family struggles and so much more, but our marriage has stayed strong.

And I contribute this greatly to the faith God grew in us during our break-up.  When confronted with great loss, we learned that God will always work things out for good.

As a wife, I’ve found it easier to follow my husband’s leadership because I’ve grown to recognize that I’m not trusting him – an imperfect sinner (albeit cute as can be ;-) ).

I’m trusting God. He promises GOOD. He will do GOOD.

So while I’ve been telling you about my love story with my husband, the love story that has saved my marriage – and any marriage – is the love story of God’s love.

We are His beloved children, and His perfect way for us will prevail despite imperfect leaders, and financial or other life struggles.

If God be for us, who can stand against us?

 

-VerityLove Story 3

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Valentine’s Day Game

With Valentine’s day quickly approaching, I wanted an opportunity to teach my kids about the most important love of all—God’s love. I wanted it to be interactive and kind of fun, so we went on a treasure hunt!

To start everything off, I had each of the kids make their own mailbox using this site. This is completely unnecessary, but so cute and was definitely a special touch. They could just as easily use little treasure chests, bags, buckets, or nothing at all.

I explained that last night I had gone on a treasure hunt through God’s Word, the Bible. I had gone looking for treasures about God’s love and I was going to share with them what I found. In order to find those treasures though, they had to go on a treasure hunt through our house! ☺

I had them leave the area with their mailboxes while I hid 14 prepared hearts around the first floor of our home. Each heart had a different truth about God’s love written on it. Here is my rough list if you want to copy the concepts. I’m sure there are others though!

God’s love is Everlasting
God IS love
He loved us first
God’s love never changes
He showed it to us when he died for us
He loves it when we do good
God loves the world
God loves Jesus
God loves to be an example for us
God’s love is an example to us
God has the greatest love and He showed it when Jesus laid down his life for us
Nothing can separate us from God’s love
God’s love is great
God’s love is overflowing

After they found all the hearts and had them carefully stashed in their mailboxes, we met on the floor in the living room to discuss their treasures. We simply went around the circle and each child pulled out one heart at a time. We discussed the concept found on that heart and interacted a bit about the truth that was there. We continued until all the truths had been discovered. At the end, we reviewed what we had learned about the treasure of God’s love and how His love was unlike any other love.

I encouraged them to keep their hearts in their mailbox with the flag up, so they could send their treasures to someone else who would like to know about the great treasure of God’s love. They each left the room excited about the depth of His love and eager to share their treasures with others!

 

-Lydia

 

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Valentines Day: Who God Loves Craft

The kids and I have been learning about God’s love this week as we prepare for Valentine’s day. It’s important to me that whenever we learn about Valentine’s day or love that we start with God’s love. We have covered different aspects of God’s love, but today I wanted them to have an interactive picture of WHO God loves so they would understand that God’s love is limitless and applicable to those they know and even those they don’t know.

What you need:

  • White paper
  • Colored paper in a few different colors if you want
  • Ribbon
  • Tape
  • Marker
  • Scissors

What to do:

I cut cloud shapes out of the white paper to represent God. We talked about how He is in heaven beyond the clouds. The clouds were about ¼ a sheet of paper in size. I wrote the first portion of I John 4:10 on them to demonstrate how God loved us before we even loved Him. There are many verses that would work for this though! You could even just do I John 4:8 which says, “God is Love.” I had the kids say the verse with me as I wrote it on the paper. This kept them involved and helped them begin to memorize it. They each also chose their own color of marker. If they are older, they can write it themselves.

Next I laid out my multicolored hearts which I had cut into 2 sizes. They each picked several. I had them tell me different people they knew. They loved this and were excited to tell me everyone! This took a while. ☺ We wrote each name on a different heart.

Next I gave them each 3-4 pieces of ribbon to tape onto the back of their cloud.

Then we attached each heart to the ribbon with tape. The idea is God’s love reaching down to each person.

Lastly, we reviewed how God loves each person with an everlasting, unchanging, and overflowing love. And He loves them with the same kind of love, no matter what.

The kids really got the point of this craft and they were excited to have a visual of some of the people God loves.

In this is love, not that we have loved God

but that he loved us

and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

I John 4:10

 

-Lydia

 

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To the Mom Who Doesn’t Have Time

To the Mom who doesn’t have time:

​You know the days where it takes you until lunch time to clean up breakfast? The ones where you efficiently do 3 loads of laundry and then they stack up on the couch? Have you had one of those days where you try ALL day to get supper in the crock pot, the time slot passes you by for both high and low settings, so you decide to cook something on the stove instead… but then that time slot passes as well and you end up serving peanut butter and honey sandwiches for supper—again? And what about those days where your child wants to do a project with you, but you just can’t quite seem to get the house cleaned up enough to clear a spot so you can cut and glue together? Those are the heartbreaking moments. The ones where you want to imagespend time with this sweet child you are raising, but you just don’t seem to have time.

​To the Mom who doesn’t have time, I am right there with you! The days I described above have basically been my life the last few months. I have a baby who nurses hourly around the clock and through the night. I’m exhausted. Our family is in a constant state of the unknown and the emotional aspect of the situation is wearing me down hard. I can’t seem to keep up with anything. Then I wonder, “how am I supposed to spend time with my children?” How do I find time to read the 39 books they so excitedly chose from the library last week? How do I find time to complete the adorable craft projects and educational ideas I’ve been pinning on Pinterest during my many nursing sessions each day? How will my children learn important life skills if I don’t have time to teach them? Then it hit me…

​They will learn them from me and it’s okay if it is through everyday life.

​You see, my kids will learn more from how I handle life than they will sitting on the couch reading a book with me or sitting at the table gluing a perfectly prepared craft project. The difference is in how I choose to respond to the trials set before me.

​I can yell at them to go play in the other room so I can conquer the dishes, or I can choose to demonstrate a right attitude and even teach them how to conquer a daunting task as I systematically rinse off the dishes and put them in the dishwasher before I tackle those I hand wash.

​I can complain about peanut butter and honey sandwiches AGAIN, or I can explain to them the wonders of improvisation as supper approaches and I serve them a different option than planned.

​I can rant about not having enough time, or I can teach them time management as we figure out a way to sneak in a quick craft project.​

​Parenting isn’t about the external. It’s about including your kids on the internal. Transparently showing them the reasons for the things we do, including them on your struggles, openly teaching them through your own mistakes, and honestly relating the truth to them day in and day out. Parenting is about the teachable moments and those moments often come through unlikely circumstances.

​To the mom who doesn’t have time, it’s okay. Let’s make the most of what we do have: everyday life–and teach our children to the best of our abilities.

 

-Lydia

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GUEST POST: A More Minimalist Approach

A friend of mine has a really fascinating story about how minimalism has helped streamline their home and simplify their life! 

Thank you Susie for this great post!

“I was born into the Utah foster care state system. Sometimes I was allowed five minutes to pack a bag of items before being rushed off to the next living situation, other times I was only allowed the clothes on my body. The Lord graciously allowed that crazy cycle to slow way down when the Albrights lovingly adopted me when I was 8 ½ years old. The cycle only slowed because the Albrights moved at least every 3 years. Sometimes we moved into a big house and sometimes it was a small house. In preparation for each move, we would have several yard sales and then whatever did not fit into the moving truck was left behind. Because of this, I learned to only have a handful of special things.

Money was never super tight but we did live on a loose budget. My parents taught my siblings (the Albrights adopted 2 more children after me) and I how to take good care of our belongs and how to be good stewards of our finances. Most of our clothes came from a thrift store or were hand-me-downs from a friend. We always had plenty of clothes, food, and things to keep us entertained.

I began attending college shortly after my 17th birthday. I attended 3 semesters, sat out for one to work, and then again for 2 more semesters. During that time I became friends with a wonderful, godly man named Ben who was two years older than myself. In March 2009, Ben’s senior year, he asked me to become his wife. Ben graduated from college in May and I moved in with his grandma during the summer so we could put the final touches on our weddings.

Along with this new stage in our lives, came many, many new possessions through three bridal showers, wedding gifts, and yard sales for extra glass serving dishes. My parents also decided to downsize shortly before our wedding and their gift to us was their possessions (couch set and other furniture, decorations for year around, kitchen items, etc.). These gifts from people who loved us were a huge blessing as we started our new married life together in August.

Less than a month after we got married the Lord allowed me to become pregnant with a sweet little girl. Emily was the first grandchild on both sides of the family and with our growing circle of people who loved us we were given 2 baby showers and tons of just because gifts. By this time our little one bedroom apartment was filled with boxes and boxes of stuff.

In November of 2010 Ben and I bought our first sweat-equity (i.e.-needing a lot of remolding and updating) house. Emily was 6 months old and we just found out we were expecting another little one and along with her came more and more gifts. A week before Hannah was born we had to temporarily move into a furnished 2 bedroom apartment for 2 months while our house was being worked on. We took all of our clothes, toys, books, and musical instruments. The rest went into an in-closed storage trailer in our backyard. The last week in the apartment I had double foot surgery that kept me mostly off of my feet for 8 weeks. The move back into our house was difficult to say the least and for a long time everything from the apartment and the rented storage trailer was just stacked wall-to-wall in our living room.

Slowly, as we were able to, the stuff in the living room found places throughout our house and we were once again able to use our living room. As we remodeled rooms, everything from that room had to be moved into another one. I would organize everything as best as I could so things could function well during the transition. For a long time it drove Ben crazy that he couldn’t find things in his own house because every few months things, out of necessity, had to find new locations. There were many stressful and exhausting hours as we did most of the remolding ourselves, yet still tried to lead a normal life – Ben worked full time, we had two beautiful daughters to raise, we were highly involved in church, we gardened, and we loved spending time with all of the extended family who live in close proximity to us.

With all the wonderful family and friends who loved our family of four, I began dreading birthdays and Christmas because we were always overwhelmed with tons of well-intentioned gifts (and hurt feelings if we returned or got rid of a gift). Those gifts that were meant to be a blessing had become a burden and clutter to us. We tried asking for specific items but often that frustrated the giver. We tried hard to abide by the one-in-one out rule but that just maintained the clutter. I tried organizing it better but that took a lot of time and had very little to show for it. Something needed to change and soon. The clutter was too stressful, the cleaning and maintaining of house took way too much of our time and energy and was pulling us away from the things we wanted to purse- like family and God. Being Christians, we feel that God created us to glorify HIM and that everything we purse and use our time on should be things that in some way draw us closer to God and bring Him glory. I wanted the relationship with my Savior, the Creator of the Universe, that I had before and during college but I could not find the time. Everything else was taking it and I couldn’t even keep up. I spent many moments in prayer begging God for wisdom and direction. I remember many nights asking God to somehow burn our house but keep our family and specific possessions and parts of our house without mar.

In 2013 God lead me to 2 articles that really challenged the way I thought about our family’s possessions. The first was about a woman who had run out of room to store some of her craft items and told her husband that she was planning on purchasing another cute container to house her necessary items. The husband half joking told her that what she really needed to do was purge a few of her unloved craft accessories. The lady took the challenge believing that she could prove her husband wrong, for in her mind, all of the items needed to stay. Working her way quickly through her boxes, she found a great deal of items she no longer wanted. When she was finished she was left with things she enjoyed and extra empty bins to be used somewhere else in her house. The second article was about a lady who had recently lost her parents and was given the responsibly of emptying their house. The process was overwhelming and time consuming. She found their house filled with things but very few of value. Throughout the project the lady learned many things but came to conclusion in her own life she only wanted to keep what she found necessary, beautiful, and she LOVED. So she set out to de-clutter her house and only kept what fit at least two if not all three of those requirements.

Over the last two years I began our journey doing just that. At first it was hard to see what all we had, even though it was “organized”, but as we have remodeled more of the areas in our house and things are began finding their permanent locations, it’s became easier to know what we need/wanted and what was just excess. When I began it was mainly just my personal things, and then things my children outgrew. Slowly that has expanded to things all over the house. I had to remind myself over and over again, “the clutter didn’t get here overnight and it won’t disappear overnight either”. During this time I read more and more articles and posts about de-cluttering and stumbled onto the idea of minimalism. At first I was skeptical but then after a lot of thought and prayer I realized that that is where we were headed and I embraced it. My girls joined in next, and I love that they often bring me things to sell or just pretend to sell things and set up meets. Ben wasn’t fully on board for a long time and if he said something had to stay, then I left it alone and found something else to de-clutter. I did my best not to nag him but rather when he wanted to acquire a new item or hold onto something I would ask him questions like why he wanted to buy said item, will he use it, what was it replacing, how long does he envision it being beneficial, or do we have an item that already serves or can serve that purpose.

Ben still refuses to call our family minimalist but rather “becoming streamlined” and I am fine with that. As you can guess, he is now fully on board with what we do. You see, November 2014 faced us with a professional waterproofing company, EverDry. We already knew the issues and had done tons of previous research. Our basement had moisture issues and with its monolithic foundation it had to be handled correctly. Yes, upfront we could have saved money doing it ourselves or paying a fly-by-night company but chose to wisely invest and fix it correctly the first time so we didn’t’ have to spend a more money and time in the end. While cleaning out the basement in preparation for the company we found many things that had to be thrown away due to mold growing on them. Things that we (mainly Ben) had saved for “just in case”- but in the 4 years we lived in the house “just in case” had never come and now the items were ruined. EverDry fixed our basement in December and now we are excitedly (and very carefully) planning out how to use the space.

Two years ago, cleaning the house was a full time job – literally. I spent hours a day, cleaning, organizing and straightening things. Now – we can clean a really dirty house in 2.5 hours – That includes dishes, laundry, vacuuming, a quick wipe down of both bathrooms, and straightening rooms. How did we cut the hours on the house? One, most of the remolding is done so things have found their permanent locations. Two, we have gotten rid of many possessions. I made it a goal with each room when we emptied it to fix it, I would not bring all of the stuff back in. When we did the kitchen, over half of the items were sold or donated. We now have way more cabinet space than ever before and plenty of extra space.

There are some areas of our house I don’t think will ever be “streamlined” like our books or Ben’s dress ties. And I don’t think we will ever be “extreme minimalists” in that we can easily count our belongings. But I am thankful God lead us every step of the way, that Ben is finally fully on board, and we that are and have de-owned many of our possessions.

Some of the things we did and do to help reduce the clutter in house:

1) Sell clothes and household items on local Facebook sites. We only meet at our house, on the way to where we are going (like at taco bell on the way to grandma’s house, or somewhere we already are (like the parking lot of Walmart). That way we do not waste money on gas and if we have to sit and wait a few minutes in a parked car then we use that time to just talk as a family). In January 2015 alone we have made almost $550.

2) We occasionally have been able to sell items on Craigslist – though we only meet at very public locations and make sure we don’t go directly home because craigslist has been known to be shady (fb can be too if you are not careful) Though regardless, we are in God’s hands

3) We also do short challenges (like get rid of 10 things each day for 6 days or about monthly I round up all the random stuff from all over the house and do a “goodwill give away” where I post on a couple of my local facebook sites saying its free but must be picked up that day at our house).

4) Minimalist shower: we each have our own scrubbies and then make our own shampoo (baking soda + water), conditioner (I use it weekly. its vinegar + water), we buy bars of honey/oil soap (each one lasts almost 2 months and leaves our skin super soft so lotion is very rarely needed) from a local bee farmer. Our neighbor makes her own bars of soaps for pennies each and we have used it but still need lotion afterwards. We keep our bar of soap in a lidded soap dish and wash it out every time the bar is gone.

5) Minimalist laundry: We make our own laundry soap for less than $2. It takes 20 minutes, is unscented, easy on sensitive skin, is comparable to Tide, and lasts our family 14 months. Yes we still occasionally need to treat a spot so we have on stain remover. Also, we use less than 2 tsp of distilled white vinegar for our fabric softener so no dryer sheets our needed. Speaking of the dryer, we only use it to dry towels and socks. Everything else gets hung up. Allowing moisture in the house in the winter, the air dry outside on racks in the summer (take 20 minutes for most clothes), and saving money on utilities.

6) Minimalist cleaning system: distilled white vinegar diluted with water is what we use to clean almost every surface of the inside of our house. At $1.70 a gallon, vinegar lasts us almost 2 months.

Somethings I learned while decluttering:

1) its not a race. There is no complete end because as long as we are alive on this earth we will acquire more possessions and things will eventually need to be replaced.

3)When every item is special then no item is special. Choose your things carefully.

2) When things no longer fit into its designated location (like the games in the game closet), rather than find a way to organize them better – purge them first!

3) There is going to be a casualty or two – something that you regret getting rid of. That’s ok and its part of the process. Take a deep breath and move on. More than likely you will forget you ever owned it or you will find some other item that can handle the causality’s job

4) Time is so precious. Your family is precious.

Because taking care of our house has become less time consuming we have more time for the things we desire to pursue. We have more time to spend in God’s word and prayer, more time with our kids, more time for my husband and I just to enjoy being with each other. We have played way more games, and had more time to talk this year than any of the other years of our relationship. We have been more focused and been able to create a better HOME for our family.”

-Susie