Marriage is Not a Wedding

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I like weddings.

Most people do – they are, after all, well-planned parties boasting free food, sometimes drinks, fancy formal wear, and plenty of laughter and well wishes. Weddings are a celebration. They’re fun!

I also like marriage and the joy of journeying through life with someone. It is truly a blessing from God. But marriage is not a reflective image of the sparkling white wedding day. It is not a festive party that supplies years of fun and fancy. Yes – marriage is wonderful. It is worthwhile. But is also takes a lot of hard work, extreme patience, an unyielding amount of understanding, and determination.

Our culture has buried so deeply the reality of a marriage underneath the perfect wedding décor and happily ever after stories that soon anyone out to commit themselves to each other will actually have little to no idea of what marriage is really about. And I say, let’s wipe away the layers of lovey-dovey dust that have been building up and reveal once again what marriage really is and what it truly means to spend the rest of your life with someone. Because if we don’t start teaching our children this truth, the rate of divorce, failed marriages, and marital depression are only going to grow.

From what I can gather, there seem to be two popular misconceptions surrounding the idea of marriage. First, there is the idea that two people should get to know each other so well that they are absolutely certain they are “the ones” for each other. This misconception, I think, has risen from the fear of becoming another statistic within the 50% or so of people who have gone through a divorce. We fear the broken commitment; we fear that we will fail. So, we have to get it right: we must make sure we know our significant other inside and out.

I think this misconception also stems from story after story (I’m thinking of you, Disney) that is pumped into our minds about the perfect romance and falling in love with “the one-and-only” and living happily ever after. We just have to get it right. And these skewed notions of “getting it absolutely right” beckon tremendous rational for cohabitation and premarital sex, and these two things are a problem. Why? Because having sex with someone is designed for marriage, and marriage alone. God made it that way. (I could expound on this topic, but that’s for another time).

Back to the point… making sure you truly know one another. This idea that misleads people to think that they have to be 100% sure about who they are going to marry actually causes people to not get married at all. Think about that. If we teach our kids that they need to wait and wait and wait and wait until they are positively sure they have found the perfect spouse, they may never end up marrying. Because no one is perfect. And that means, no marriage and no relationship will be perfect, either. We will never know our significant other perfectly.

What we as parents need to do is teach and encourage our kids to build a healthy, Christ-centered relationship with their girlfriend or boyfriend by administering love, respect, and care to each other. We need to teach our offspring that there isn’t just one single person out “there” that will be their husband or wife someday. That’s the stuff of fairy tales, period.

We should show our kids that marriage is work. Teaching them how to work through problems, how to actively listen to someone’s concerns, and how to show love through words, acts of service, and quality time are all great lessons to share. Because that’s what marriage is: a God-designed relationship that is built on respect and love, not on making sure you know every miniscule detail about each other so that you have for sure chosen the right person.

We don’t need to make sure we are marrying Mr. or Mrs. Right. We need to make sure that we are both in this thing called marriage together and that we will both work at it every single day. And throughout the marriage, a husband and wife do get to know each other. Very well. And that is part of the excitement of being married!

Ok. Next misconception. Second, there is the idea that once a couple is engaged, they should wait until the perfect time to get married. That is to say, they should wait until she finishes school or he buys a house or they at least turn 21 or the wedding invitations at Target go on sale. (Ok, maybe not that last one). But you get my point. And the problem with this misconception is that the wedding day becomes the marriage itself. And this is a huge problem.

By impressing on our children that they should wait until the proper time to get married, we are teaching them that if they choose just the right date and have all their ducks in a row, they will have a much, much better marriage.

This is not a good impression.

Now, I’m not saying that two people should just rush into marriage without a single plan for income and a home. But what I am saying is, if two people – especially those who are young and are not very “established” in life yet – have promised themselves to each other and intend to get married, that is wonderful. Let’s help them, not hinder them.

Your daughter hasn’t even graduated college yet? That’s ok! Work with your girl and her fiancé to locate affordable housing and talk about what kind of income they will need to get by, at least until she graduates. By helping our children get married, we are showing them that they have made a Godly decision and that we are supporting that decision. We are impressing upon them the beauty and importance of marriage. If we encourage our kids to wait for this or that or just the right time, we risk belittling the union on which our kids have set out to embark.

Marriage is not a wedding; it’s not a fluttery, white, happily ever after story where there is never any sadness. Marriage takes perseverance and work, not to mention a never ending learning and also appreciation for the other spouse. But marriage is also wonderful, exciting, adventurous, and best of all, God-designed. As our kids reach the age of dating and marriage, let’s set out to instill in their hearts and minds the best ideals possible of what marriage is really all about.

DIY No-Sew Window Shades

Have you noticed the price of window treatments lately? I couldn’t believe how costly some fabric and a few metal parts could be as I was researching what kind of shade to buy for our living room windows. There was just no way I could spend that kind of money on curtains. I got frustrated and gave up looking; time to try something else!

What I landed on was a combo of purchasing some inexpensive curtains and morphing them into shades. They turned out great and are very practical, so I thought I would share what I did.

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You will only need three main things:

  • some kind of fabric
  • some kind of tension rod
  • something to seal hems

First, material. We needed something thick that would suppress the sun’s heat. So, instead of buying yards and yards of fabric (which would have cost me a good chunk of change), I purchased a thick sun-blocking curtain from walmart.com. At $7 per curtain, these cost a lot less than if I had purchased a ton of fabric.

Next, tension rod. My husband found some thick wooden dowels at a thrift store and we used those to hang the shades. There were no nails or screws necessary; we simply sawed the dowels to the exact width of the window, stuck a felt pad on each end, and shoved them into place. So the dowels’ own tension is what is keeping the shades in place.

Third, sealing hems. I cut each curtain to the size of my windows and sealed the hems with stitch witchery (no sewing at all!). Since the length of the curtains I purchased was already to size, I only had to cut along one side of the fabric in order to make it the size I needed. Then I simply sealed the cut line with stitch witchery.

Lastly, hang them up and enjoy!

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I’m still working on a method for rolling up the shades. Currently, I’m just literally rolling them up by hand and then jamming the fabric in between the window jams (ha). What I will do eventually is attach a thin dowel at the very bottom of each shade and stick a tiny felt pad on each end. That way, when I roll up the shades I have a better way of keeping the roll in place (again, the dowel’s tension will keep things in place).

That’s it! No cords, strings, nails, screws, grommets, or boning. Just fabric, stitch witchery, and dowels. I completed five window shades in about two hours, so it wasn’t terribly time consuming, either.

These shades look stylish, cost me little, and were super easy to make. You can make shades like these with any fabric of your choosing. If you need some shades on a tight budget, give these a try!

 

All Natural, Safe, Effective Laxative

Constipation stinks. (At least, it does once the blockage is finally released). I don’t struggle with constipation very often but when I do, I’m quick to try and relieve it. There are a plethora of laxative options out there and if you’re like me, you’ve tried a handful of them. Recently, however, I’ve learned of one that I’d never tried before: chipotle peppers.

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You can purchase a jar or can of these helpful hot peppers at just about any grocery store, and they won’t cost you more than a few dollars. When your system needs some assistance, simply spread a tablespoon or two of chipotles on your next meal and chow down. Some chipotles are sold whole; if that is the case, I recommend trying a half of one with your meal. (If you’re not a fan of spicy food, have some milk ready to ease the burn). They really aren’t terribly spicy and you won’t need to consume much in order to achieve the desired effect.

The first time I ate some chipotle peppers was at the supper hour and I was sitting on the toilet the very next morning. Cleared out! It was great. I never even had stomach or gas pains. Eating chipotle peppers is a great way to beat being bunged up. It’s a nice natural alternative to pills and powdered drinks. The next time you’re feeling blocked up, give these a try!

 

Stirling Soap Company Product Review – Sunflower Fields Shave Soap and Boar Brush

I guess I’m a wet shaver. Two years ago my husband made the switch to shaving with traditional methods (double edge safety razor, handmade soaps, badger brushes) and he quickly brought me up to speed; now I’ve been enjoying this old-timey-coming-back-in-style personal hygiene pastime, too. I recently acquired a new soap and brush as a treat from my husband and would like to share my review of these items.

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The soap and brush are both products from Stirling Soap Company; an artisan brand that’s become a reliable favorite for many shavers. Stirling shave soaps are known for their easy-to-load, rich lathers that provide plenty of cushion and supreme slickness. Though it’s easy expound upon the excellent “shavability” of Stirling soaps, this review will focus on the soap scent.

Sunflower Fields is a new scent that Stirling released with women shavers in mind. Here is an excerpt from the soap description from stirlingsoap.com:

This beautifully complex women’s scent is a bright and uplifting fragrance that’s perfect for spring and summer.  It boasts top notes of lemon, rosewood, orange blossom, sweet mandarin, bergamot, melon, and sweet peach.  Middle notes are comprised of cyclamen, rose, jasmine, osmanthus and iris root. The base notes are musk, cedar, amber, moss and sandalwood.

Sunflower Fields is an appropriate name for this feminine compilation of fruits and florals. I could try and pick apart the notes and specific fragrances used, but I think Stirling’s description does a fine job of that. What I will do is try and explain what flashed through my mind the very first time this scent entered my sniffer.

Ok. I brought the soap puck up to my nose and was overwhelmed by a powerful, flowery yet complicated scent that immediately unpacked a childhood memory of standing in my teenage babysitter’s bathroom.

Let me explain.

I pictured the scene of a scrunchie-littered, curling iron still plugged in, nail polish dotted countertop in the bathroom that constantly smelled of fresh smelling shampoos, hairspray, and aromatic mousse. This girl was kind, smart, beautiful, and confident, and her bathroom – rather, the scent that filled her bathroom – emanated these fine, womanly qualities (in my mind).

So that was the very first thing that splashed across my mind when I smelled Sunflower Fields. It brought me back to my earliest depictions of what it was to be womanly according to my 90s girlhood.

That was my personal, initial impression. Then I actually took a few moments to ponder the scent. Sunflower Fields is fresh and beautiful, and it is definitely for the ladies. What Tabac is for guys, this scent is for gals: a complex, powerful aroma that encompasses all that is female. After smelling it for a few moments I nearly started to paint my nails and felt the urge to go find my black stilettos. The scent is sophisticated enough to adorn a lady for a night on the town but lovely enough to accompany a woman to the coffee shop or the library. Basically, it’s the “you-can’t-go-wrong” women’s scent. I know I’ll be reaching for this one again and again. Way to go, Stirling.

On to the brush!

This review will be much more factual and to-the-point.

This newly released brush is a 24mm knot boar hair brush. The loft is 57mm. The boar hair provides ample backbone but is limber enough to allow for a gentle splay. It loaded soap fairly quickly and was enjoyable to lather. The soap brushed on easily and the lather continued to build as I painted my skin. The handle is fantastic! The shape of it lets the user obtain a strong yet comfortable grasp around the stylish looking resin.

As I have never used a Semogue or other well known brush, I cannot compare this one with other models. However, I can tell you that it worked very well and it was only 8 bucks! That’s cheap, folks. But just because the price is low doesn’t mean this brush is poor quality. I would recommend this boar brush to any shaver.

 

That Shifty Shrub

Over the weekend, my mom tackled some serious weeding.

At my house.

I am very grateful and she was very happy to do it. Together, we went to a nearby plant nursery and chose some sun-loving perennials to make a new home in my freshly weeded triangle shaped bed. Right now, there is still a lot of dirt showing but eventually the flowers will spread and the bed will look great.

 

The bed looked so much better than before my mom fixed it that I got inspired to try and do some more landscaping on my own after she left for home. One of the first things I wanted to do was remove a bush. There was nothing wrong with it, I just didn’t like it: not the prettiest thing, in my opinion. So, how hard can it be to dig up a shrub?

Well, I was in for a surprise. It was hard. Even with my two year old helping me out by pulling on the branches with the metal kitchen tong, we were having a tough time. I used a shovel to dig up under the bush and loosen most of the roots, but there were some central roots that just wouldn’t let go. I tried pulling the shrub out with no success.

Finally, I resorted to sitting on the ground in front of the stubborn bush. I peeled the bush back by pushing on it with my legs as if I was attempting to do a thigh press. While my legs were getting a work-out, I took a pruning clipper and cut away as much of the remaining roots as I could. After a few minutes enough had been cut away and I was able to lift the shrub out of the ground.

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Ugh. Look how nasty that thing is (it was green; I had cut away the branches to make it easier to dig around). Anyway, the shrub is history! I intend to plant some perennial flowers in its place.

I came away from the event looking like I had just spent the afternoon baling hay (scratches decorated my limbs). But, I kinda had fun. And I loved that my little guy was so willing to help me. The landscaping project will continue. As we just moved into a new home, most of the landscaping needs some serious attention. I know it will take me more than one summer to beautify everything. For now, I’ll enjoy the memory of straining over that silly bush and spending some quality time with my toddler.

 

Beer or Prayer

“Not so, my lord,” Hannah replied, “I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the Lord. Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.” 1 Samuel 1:15-16

Hannah wanted a baby; a precious child to care for and to raise up in the Lord. But year after year she could not conceive. She was depressed.

It’s not uncommon to suffer through a phase of depression at some point in life. What do we do or use to “get through it?” Beer or wine? That’s what Eli the prophet thought. Hannah looked so distraught that he assumed she was drunk. Hannah was doing something much better than blurring her pain with drink, though. Her way of “getting through it” was to cry out to her Lord in prayer, to manifest her complete raw and depressed nature.

Try prayer next time. Be real with God; he already knows your deepest woes and struggles. He hears you, every time. He loves you. He will answer.

A Good Life on Earth

This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them—for this is their lot. Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God. They seldom reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart. Ecclesiastes 5:18-20

I don’t know about you, but sometimes when life seems to be going really well I wonder if all the good things are distracting me from keeping life’s focus on Jesus and furthering his mission. You know, things like a birth in the family, a new house, better pay, nice car, succeeding at your job, and so on… can these blessings also be distractions?

I suppose they could be, at some point. When life’s “good things” start taking so much precedence in life that Jesus and church and thinking of others and prayer get pushed in the old dusty closet or even forgotten, it may be time to reflect on things.

But Ecclesiastes 5 reminded me today that it’s ok for life to be going well. This is a gift from God! Praise him and rejoice in the blessings. Thank him; he is caring and helpful. When life is going swell, just say “thank you” and enjoy it!