WFMW: What I Learned About Marriage from a Fitness Guru {Giveaway}

I’d like to introduce you to my friend Arlene Pellicane. She is a speaker, author, wife and mom of three. She writes about creating a happy home in 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Wife and 31 Days to a Happy Husband. Find free resources to encourage you at www.ArlenePellicane.com and Take the Quiz to find out of you are a happy wife.

Congrats to random book winners: Krista and Heidi.

Guest Post:  by Arlene Pellicane 

Whether you’ve had a baby three months ago or 13 years ago, it seems like that baby weight is awfully hard to shake. I get this. I had 3 babies and 3 miscarriages in my thirties.

My go-to exercise solution with young kids in the house? Buying a fitness DVD that promised to change my life and waistline.

Like a motivated mama, I faithfully clicked play. I stretched. I jumped. I lifted. Then something the instructor said really caught my attention.

You have to force your body to adapt!

She persuaded, “Don’t give up. Tell your body you will keep going. You have to force your body to adapt!”

Huffing, puffing and desperately wanting to stop, I kept forcing my body to adapt.

boy dumbbell funny

I realized this saying wasn’t only applicable to my workout. It was perfect for my marriage.

Marriage is about being adaptable, isn’t it? Sometimes you have to force yourself to adapt. To flex with changing circumstances. To adjust to the quirkiness you used to love about your husband.

When James and I were married 15 years ago, there were many adaptations for both of us. Even vacations required adjusting to each other. You see, James loved to camp under a different spot under the stars each night in the tent he had lugged around all day in his backpack.

I liked to stay in a lodge with a soft pillow and running water nearby at all times.

Our first camping trip as newlyweds was a clash of expectations and emotions. Usually I am a bright and cheery wife, but on the two-hour trip to the campsite to meet couples from a new church, I was quiet. Sullen. Irritable.

Right before we entered the campsite, James pulled the car over.

“Are you going to be like this all weekend? Because if you are, we can just head back home. This is supposed to be fun.”

Do you know what I said?

“You mean, I didn’t have to come?”

Through tears, I realized that I needed to change my attitude about camping so the weekend wouldn’t be ruined. I had to force myself to adapt.

I can’t say I had the time of my life sleeping in that tent, but I survived. I learned a valuable lesson early in our marriage. Happiness isn’t about where I sleep or how out-of-my-comfort zone I am. It’s a choice I make and it not only affects my life, it affects my husband’s well being too.

Just like forcing myself to work out for the sake of my health, I have to force myself sometimes to stretch and adapt to the needs of my husband. When I’m more bendable and flexible (picture a flexible straw here moms), I’m happier and more easy going.

And easier to be with.

Make a commitment to force yourself to adapt, to push yourself further than you think you can go. Be a constant learner about marriage and an enthusiastic student of your spouse. This doesn’t happen by accident. It happens intentionally, by an act of your will.

So press play. It’s grow time.

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Today, Arlene is giving away 2 copies of 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Wife. 

Leave a comment if you’d like to enter.

Being a happy wife works for me!

What to Do With The Bad Days

I gave into temptation and colored my hair. In my own home.

And then at 10 o’clock in the P.M. I washed my hair 37 times because hair color called Espresso is named that for a reason.

I fell into bed with my damaged vanity and slept fitfully. When the alarm sounded the next morning for church, I was still in a bad hair mood with a tingly scalp, a stiff neck and a-gone-to-bed-too-late hangover. I went back to sleep.

The house was sluggish until after noon, our regular routine turned on its side.

What started out as a simple “don’t do that” to one of my kids ended up in a full blown tantrum (I call that the bonus level). We generally handle these in stride. Because three kids and 19 years of marriage.

Take a deep breath. It's just a bad day, not a bad life.

But I was cranky and we let our child’s behavior turn a rocky parenting moment into marital strife because we disagreed on how to handle the blowout.  Please tell me you’ve been there. 

Just like that, our day went from lazy Sunday to the END TIMES if you know what I mean. While my husband and I retreated to our bedroom to try and get on the same page, I could hear my kids arguing in the other room.

The tension in our house was thick. And these are the moments, I am weakest. I feel most inadequate in every area of my life when I feel most human. And in those moments, I feel like one big failure. I tried to tell myself that this was normal.

But even that reminder can fall short on the bad days.

We said our “sorry’s.” Again.  Because it’s still the only way to start over even as the sun is setting. But we just couldn’t seem to get along or get it right.

I wanted the day to end because sometimes it feels like you can’t wait for those new mercies in the morning. I just needed them now.

Everyone was scattered-reading and doing their own thing and I longed to have a do-over and I’m not just talking about my hair.

“Can we just pray together?” I asked my husband with tears right on the edge of spilling over. And what I really meant was can my family just pray with me, for me?

We piled up on our bed, too many legs and arms and too little space and we held hands. It was an awkward Little House on the Prairie moment for sure. But no one pulled away or complained. Our kids could feel the tension and they wanted a do-over as much as we did.

Our youngest asked if she could pray first. Bless her. And then my husband led us in a simple prayer. I couldn’t hold my tears then because this is what I needed. Just knowing we are in this together and although we fight together, we love together.

My teen daughter rubbed my hand when she saw my tears and whispered, “It’s okay, Mom.” I nodded.

Because now it was.

So, what do we do with those bad days? We let them go. And we start new, not with perfection in mind, but forgiveness and love.

And we decide the color Espresso isn’t so bad after all.

Spread the Love {Feb. 10-14}

STL_FBbannerv2*Congratulations to random winner, Spread the Love participant Sarah Hess!

I love a good love story.

I’m a sucker for a hero and damsel in distress.

And for the past few years, I’ve witnessed an epic love story that even Hollywood couldn’t write.

It has scenes of desperate broken-hearted girls, born into unthinkable poverty, used and abused by this world, fighting to survive…

But then, the Rescuer comes.

And He takes the bruised and shattered lives, expectant with hope and a child and He speaks healing and a future into their lives.

Mercy House is a beautiful love story. It’s a social media love story that started right here on this screen with a simple yes. It shouldn’t be a success story. But our Hero uses weak and inadequate people in the middle of their mess to show his ultimate glory.

Think about the best movie you’ve seen. What happens after you see it three times? You tell people about it.

I’m not asking you to buy anything or donate a penny today. But I am asking you to share this love story and bring awareness to this cause. Because here’s the thing: this story is still being written and you can be a part of it.

Would you consider spreading some love this week? It’s super simple and there are lots of options–

How to spread love: Feb. 10-14

Tweet one of these:

FacebookLike Mercy House Kenya

Use one of these as your status:

  • I believe in the work of @mercyhousekenya. Check out how they are changing the world for moms http://www.mercyhousekenya.org #spreadthelove
  • I’m helping bring awareness to a beautiful love story @mercyhousekenya. Share this post and #spreadthelove

Pin one of these pictures:

Meet Edith. Tell her story @mercyhousekenya #spreadthelove

Meet Sarah. Tell her story @mercyhousekenya #spreadthelove

Baby Maureen is a @mercyhousekenya miracle baby #spreadthelove

Win this epic basket-of-love-from @mercyhousekenya.jpg #spreadthelove

Instagram-take a picture of any Mercy House product you own (t-shirts, jewelry, or even a screenshot of this page) and tag it: I love @mercyhousekenya #Spreadthelove

Share one of these videos on your social media platform or email it to friends.

And every time you share about Mercy House this week, you’ll be entered to win this:

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The basket contents include (plus a few extra things not mentioned) more than $500 from The Mercy Shop:

One very lucky winner will win this amazing basket of goodies (over $500 in value) to keep or share. Every time you SHARE about Mercy House–through your blog, on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ you get an entry. Click here to list all your entries on this form. (You can earn up to 17 entries by sharing)

basket of love

STL_FBbannerv2
It’s a week of love. Please help us spread it!

Thanks for loving mercy.

 [Click FB SHARE below]

What’s On My Reading List This Month

The table next to my bed has a pile of books I’m digging into this month and probably the next couple. If anything, I’m an ambitious reader.

When do you read?

My reading habits: I always have a book tucked in my purse, in my car, on my Kindle app, next to my bed for those moments during the day when I’m waiting or trying to fall asleep. I’m also a bathtub reader. I am usually working thru several books at one time and usually read non-fiction, although I love a good fiction book when I’m traveling. I’m also not much of a TV watcher.

The fun thing about some of the books on my nightstand right now is they were written by friends! (Amazon affiliate links):

Books on Nightstand

1. Miraculous Movements: How Hundreds of Thousands of Muslims Are Falling in Love with Jesus:: Oh, this book is rocking our world. It’s a long God story, but if you have a heart for missions and discipleship, this book is a must read. I heard the author speak recently and met some of the heroes on the pages in Kenya recently. It’s helping to shape so much of our work with Mercy House.

2. Live to Give: Let God Turn Your Talents into Miracles:: This is our new “family read.” Every month or so, we start a new book to read together out loud as a family after dinner. I’m really excited to dive into this book with my family. It’s sure to be inspiring!

3. Happy Wives Club: One Woman’s Worldwide Search for the Secrets of a Great Marriage:: I love writing about marriage and being married. I’m a happy wife and I love Fawn’s heart to join a million happy wives to support the beauty of everyday marriage.

4. Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World:: I’m digging into Tsh’s memoir that challenges us to live slower, intentional lives. I love her global viewpoint and can’t wait to apply her suggestions to live my life instead of letting life live me.

5. You’re Going to Be Okay: Encouraging Truth Your Heart Needs to Hear, Especially on the Hard Days:: Holley is the best encourager I know. Some days, especially the hard ones, we need to remember-despite life’s ups and down-we are going to be okay because we have Jesus.

6. The Locust Effect: Why the End of Poverty Requires the End of Violence
(not pictured):: I just ordered this book on Amazon. It will be hard to read, but absolutely necessary. If you’ve ever wanted to help the poor, this is a must read. It’s the paradigm shift we need to make to reach the poor in their reality of violence.

How about you? What you are you reading lately?

Why I Wrote Rhinestone Jesus

If you stood in front of my house and saw my family through our big dining room window, you might see us sitting down for dinner.

But don’t do that. Because creepy.

But let’s just say you saw us from the outside and saw us eating a meal together, in our cozy house and thought huh, that looks like a nice family.

You wouldn’t see that I burned dinner and my second attempt had my kids grumbling and complaining, which led to an argument with my husband. You might not know that a week’s worth of laundry was teetering dangerously in piles or that I’d stayed in my pajamas most of the day, feeling sorry for myself.

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You wouldn’t know, because you weren’t inside.

It’s funny how easy it is to look at someone’s life and even their God-sized dream and think, “I could never do that, be that, have that sort of faith or courage or success  or fill in the blank.”

I wrote Rhinestone Jesus because I want you to know the whole story.

I’m pulling back the curtains, revealing the dirt under the rug, and I’m telling it all…the good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly, the shattered and redeemed chapters of my life.

I want you to meet the awkward teen who wore a sparkly Jesus pin to high school because I was too afraid to do the talking myself. I want you to understand I was a dreamer. But instead of chasing dreams, I mostly ran from them.

I want you to identify with me as a mother –weary and overwhelmed and not always realizing I was seeing the face of God every time I wiped a small smudged one.

smudges

I want you to see just how damaged my marriage was and how we fought hell itself to love again.

I want to show you the ugly places, the unwilling heart, the times I said no–you must see this to get a clear picture of who is really telling this story.

I want you to see past these gorgeous faces full of hope and a future and understand how against all odds, a broken girl with a broken past said yes to God in a most unlikely place.

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I want you to see that your small every day yes matters so much more than you think it does.

And most of all, when you read about my sometimes chaotic, troubled and imperfect life, I pray it inspires you to look at yours and instead of seeing a mess, you discover the perfect place for God’s glory.

I’ve spent the last year spilling my story onto the pages of this book. It’s not for “just moms” because there’s no such thing. It’s for everyone who has a yes inside them. It’s for women who would like to get their life just right before they feel like they can do something for God. It’s for those who are sick of stuff and the weight of the American Dream. It’s for those who wonder if Jesus is enough. It’s for those who have stopped dreaming. It’s for the broken.

But mostly, it’s for Jesus, not the sparkly one, but the one who rescued me, the Savior who urged me out of my comfort zone into wild obedience.

I wrote it for His glory and for all those brave enough to say yes with me.

Rhinestone Jesus.Coming May 2014

Coming May 1, 2014

How To Start A Blog

I’ve wanted to be a published writer since I was in the 8th grade. I was in critique groups and attended writer’s conferences and kept my rejection letters in a growing folder on my desk, along with my disappointment.

Do you know how I became an author? By writing every day on this blog.

Female hands typing laptop computer keyboard, top view

If you’ve got something to say or if you just want to share cute kid pictures with Grandma, your latest recipe creation with hungry people or the DIY project that would make McGeyvor look like an amateur, I have some advice for you: go for it.

Starting a blog is great for all of the above.

Maybe you’ve thought about starting one, but it seems complicated…For years, I’ve been answering the same question in emails, at church, and once on the dairy aisle at the grocery store: How do I start a blog?

I’ve send email snippets and texted answers here and there, but I wanted to create a permanent spot to send people. So that’s what this is.  More than 8 year ago, I started my blog with one riveting story about the Tooth fairy on the wrong platform, with an iffy host and fuzzy pictures under a different name. I wish I’d read this post 8 years ago when I first hit publish.

You can start a blog in 3 easy steps. And I’m going to tell you how:

Disclaimer: Please note that a couple of these links are affiliate links and I will earn a commission if you purchase through them.

How to Start a Blog:

1. Shop: Get a domain name and a host

2. Move in:  Install WordPress

3. Decorate: Make it look good

Your domain name and host:

What do you want to call your blog? I spent days considering this question. I wrote down everything that came to me. A lot of people use their names, but I wanted something people would remember. My blog name sort of found me (after 5 visits to the ER in one month with my accident-prone family). Once you have some possible names, go to a hosting site (I think Bluehost is the best place to get started) and see if any are available.3-Domain Registartion

Once you decide on a domain name, you can pick your plan. There are several affordable options (as little at $3.95 a month)–but I think you’d be fine with the Starter Plan since you can always upgrade later if needed.

5Next, you’ll need to host your domain name. Hosting is like paying for a space for your blog on the Internet. I like Bluehost because if you host your blog with them, you get your domain for free.

Installing WordPress:

I wish I had started on WordPress. I lost hundreds of posts when I migrated from Blogger several years ago. Blogspot is a free platform that is an easy set up. But if you have ambitions of growing your blog, I wouldn’t use it. WordPress is the software you use to add your blog posts to. It’s really easy to use. If you use Bluehost, you can login to the Website Builder section and choose WordPress. Basically you hit “Install”; make sure the right domain has been chosen (with your catchy new blog name); click the Terms and Conditions box and then “Install Now.” Easy! You’re so smart.

Once it’s complete, jot down the URL, username and password under the View Credentials tab. You’ll use your username and password to log into your blog.

16-Install Complete

Make it Look Good

I’m not going to pretend I know a thing about making a blog look good. I’ve been using Erin from Design by Insight for years to do that. She’s got reasonable rates and she fixes everything I break. Once I paid her for my initial design several years ago, now I just do some a la carte things occasionally. But if you’re willing to try on your own, WordPress has some awesome free themes. Or you can pay and get something with a little more umph, like the Genesis theme (that Erin has customized) on my blog.  Go ahead, you can move things around and make your new home look fabulous.

WFMW: Free Printables

I bought a color printer on clearance for $26 bucks that included ink cartridges the other day.

Score.

In the past, if I’ve needed color copies, I would run down to Office Max. Which means, I don’t have color copies very often. Because nobody has time for that.

You might say that my color printing  has recently peaked. But seriously, you can do cute things with paper and color ink.

mantle

The “burlap” alphabet letters I added to my mantle.

Here are some of my favorites for free printables-

It works for me!

What We Teach Our Kids When We Don’t Know They Are Watching

I started this terrible wonderful habit last year.

All three of my kids started a new school and there were some bumpy days in the beginning.

So on the first Friday of the first week, I took my kids to a darling little hometown bakery near our house. And we celebrated with a cookie.

The next week it was a brownie.

A few weeks after that it was a cake pop.

It became a sweet tradition.

And well, many Fridays later and my pants won’t button. It’s a weighty problem.

What we teach our kids when we dont know they are watching n

So a few Friday’s ago, I was backing out of my spot and looking behind me and not at the lovely Mercedes next to me and I scratched the whole side of the car.

That is a bad feeling.

I slowly pulled into my spot (straighter this time) and told my kids to follow me to look for the owner. The car was parked in front of Massage Envy, next to the bakery. So, yeah, I immediately felt worse, of course.

I was about to stress out someone who was having a massage. 

I told the gals behind the desk what happened and described the car. They said, yes, the owner was having a massage and I wrote my name and number on a piece of paper. And then the receptionist said, “I can’t believe you came in to find her. You know you could have left. She would have never know.”

The other girls nodded their heads and encouraged me to throw away the paper.

I looked at my kids looking at us, listening and watching what I would say.  “I would know. My kids would know.”

They were impressed with how “good” I was.

Really? This is what it’s come to in our world? Being honest about hitting someone’s car when they aren’t looking makes me a good person. Huh.

We left and I told my kids it would have been wrong for me to drive away without telling the truth. I fear there is an entire generation of kids who don’t take responsibility for their actions and wave the “it wasn’t my fault” banner.

Say what you need to say. And do what you say you’ll do. It’s called integrity.

Friends of mine from another country, who are now new Americans made this observation to me, “We’ve noticed that when you mention a new idea or cause, many Americans are so excited! They think it’s a wonderful idea and they want to do everything to help! and share! and give! But many do nothing. All the excitement ends when it’s time to show up. In our country, not many people are interested in new ideas, but at least you know where they stand.

I was embarrassed because they spoke the truth.

Sure things come up and plans change. That’s life. But when we make a habit of hiding the truth or not following through with what we’ve said we will do, we are teaching our children to do the same.

Integrity is something we teach our kids when we don’t know they are watching.

Sometimes we use words.