Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Christmas in July

I love summertime...the lazy days and watermelon-dribbled chins. The sunscreen splotches I can't quite rub in on my little one's face and splashing about in the pool until tiny toes and fingers are all pruny. There is something childlike about summer and I love it. And yet, it is apropos that some celebrate "Christmas in July". In the midst of summer fun, it is almost inevitable that I think wistfully of the scarves, mittens, cookies, and carols of Christmastime. Though I am blissfully content to soak up the warmth and fun of summer, I also anticipate the celebration of a different kind that will come in just a few short months.

As I ponder thoughts of Christmas, it makes me think of how I can bring the gentle hope and giving spirit of that season into this season. Being thoughtful and active in serving others and helping out with their needs shouldn't be a December exclusive. It should be in our hearts year-round. Why do I wait to think of doing something nice for somebody until it is Christmas? With this in mind, I am making an effort to do one nice thing each day for somebody this next month. They (whoever "they" are) say that if you do something for 21 days it becomes a habit. I can certainly think of worse habits to have than cultivating a giving spirit.

So July is about over, but August will be a challenge to grow my heart just a little bit bigger. Who wants to join me? Maybe it means sending a note to a friend (it is so fun to get things other than bills via snail mail when you're grown up). Perhaps it's paying for the customer behind you to get a vanilla latte and a scone thrown in for fun. Or it could be ding-dong-ditching a neighbor with a fun package you make with your young ones full of treats. There are so many creative ways to love others, be thoughtful, pay-it-forward. Whatever you call it, it won't just bless the receiver. I guarantee it will swell your heart up just a little bit bigger too.

 Today I am linking up with Rachel Wojnarowski and Beth Steffaniak! Visit these amazing blogs by clicking on their names above!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Praying Mom

Christian bookshelves are filled with great resources on how to pray. Many of these resources are written specifically for moms and are great encouragements to help moms pray regularly for their children, as well as showing them what prayer looks like. The problem is, at my house, these books often sit on the shelf collecting dust. I have great intentions and know that praying for Baby Girl is an important thing to do. But in the midst of getting chores done, cleaning up messes, and being present in Baby Girl's life, prayer often gets left with all the other unchecked items, eagerly waiting to (maybe) make the list of things I want to try and accomplish tomorrow.

How do we make praying for our kids a regular part of our lives? Getting up early could be an option...but to be honest I am lucky to be semi-conscious before my wee one wants to start the day, let alone awake enough to string a sentence together for the Almighty. I often send quick ones throughout the day (something resembling a Facebook message hastily posted to a friend) asking for help with my attitude or wisdom for a sticky situation. But the deep, thoughtful desires I have for my daughter too often get left unprayed.

So lately, after I lay her sweet and peaceful dalmation-clad self in the crib for the night, I have been taking a moment. I stand outside her door and lift up my thankfulness for who she is and my desires for who she will become. Nothing opulent or profound, just my heartfelt yearnings to God that He would continue to grow her strong in spirit and stature. It's not perfect, and it probably never will be. But it is a start, and it's a daily reminder to me of how blessed I am to be the one chosen to mother this specific girl, with all of her specific personalities and nuances. The more I lift her up in prayer, the more my heart becomes aligned with God's heart towards her...seeing her not just as she is but also as who she is becoming. My precious girl needs my guidance and direction to get there...and I need God's guidance and direction to lead her.

The books on prayer might get read someday, and maybe someday I will have a more defined place and time to pray. Until then, I will continue to be the praying mom by talking to God about my needs, desires, and hopes as they come throughout the day. I will be the praying mom through praying with my little one and teaching her how to talk with God. I will be the praying mom through finding a few moments in the quiet to thank God for each moment with my girl and ask His help me be the mama He's called me to be.

Today I am linking up with Rachel Wojnarowski for Whimsical Wednesdays (check out her blog here) and Beth at Messy Marriage (check out her blog here).

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Mamacations: Taking Care of You

You have been called by God to partner with Him in taking care of so many people. Your kids, of course, and all the responsibility that comes with mothering: nurturing, feeding, clothing, disciplining, cuddling, washing wounds, cleaning up puke (and many other bodily fluids that were unmentionable premamahood), laughing with (and at), teaching, and loving. And your husband...though many days you may think, "He has got to know where the hamper is. It's been in the same place for five years! Why do his dirty clothes always end up on the bathroom floor!?". Ahem, I digress. Your husband needs your love, support, and daily encouragement as much as your kids do.

Outside of your immediate family there is extended family to think about. Making sure mom and dad are healthy and have talked to the grandchildren, remembering your sister's birthday (and making sure a birthday card gets to her sometime within the next six months), helping a family member through a rough day, and the list goes on. All this not to mention the responsibilities we have to make sure our friends know we are still alive, create (buy) something for the bake sake next week, help out with that church event on Sunday (what is it again?), and oh-my-gosh I was supposed to be carpool mom today! It can be exhausting.

How, in the midst of this, do we even have time to think about taking care of ourselves? Thankfully, there are small things we can do that make a big difference in our attitudes and ability to get so much done. So, for those days when you need an extra shot of caffeine, an extra hour of sleep, or a year-long are a few ways to "take care of yourself".

1. Breathe. Studies show that learning and using breathing techniques can not only help you feel a little more calm, but can also help physically combat the production of stress hormones. Try this: sit in a comfortable position and close your eyes. Put one hand on your belly and another on your chest. Take a deeeep breath in through your nose, hold, breathe out slowly through your mouth. Do this between 3 and 10 times and see how you feel.  (Extra time? Do breathing exercises while you take a quiet walk.)

2. Touch. Let's face it, most of us don't have the time or money to go get a professional massage
when we are feeling stressed. But we can help ourselves feel a little bit of refreshment with five minutes of pampering. Go in the bathroom and shut the door. Turn the faucet on warm, lather your hands in soap. Close your eyes and massage each soapy hand and wrist for 30 seconds. Rinse off your hands, dry with a soft towel, and if you have lotion available spend another 30 seconds lotioning up each hand. Take a deep breath, and you are prepared to take on the world once more! (Extra time? Include your feet in the fun...and if you're feeling really frisky maybe even paint them!)

3. Taste. Mmm...that first sip of your favorite beverage. Except, oh wait, you had to chug it down so you could get back to that thing you were doing. Now it's gone and you have no recollection of drinking it. Sound familiar? Try this: when you have a minute of solitude (or at least when you don't have 7 people asking you for 14 different things to be done) take a minute and focus on sipping your beverage of choice. Notice the taste of it on your tongue, the feel of the cup in your hands, the sensation of your mouth starting to water and the way your sip slides down your throat when you swallow. Ah, bliss. (Extra time? Put your beverage in a fun tea in a teacup or a soda in a tall glass with ice and a staw, and sit outside while you drink it and drink in your surroundings.)

4. Move. Do you have time for a quick walk? It is one of the surest ways to help get us back in the
game. It boosts adrenaline so it can give your lagging body energy, and can help improve attention span by 20 percent! It also produces endorphines which fight stress hormones. If you don't have time for a quick walk (or didn't get outside before temperatures hit 100 degrees) don't worry! Try stretching instead. (Extra time? Go for a hike...not only are you moving but you are out in nature where you can breathe in smells of trees and fresh air instead of car exhaust and cleaning products).

5. Be Thankful. When we focus on what we are thankful for, it makes it harder for us to dwell on things we are grumpy or upset about. I'm not advocating we stick our head in the sand, but when we can't change a situation in the moment (like our toddler throwing a class-A temper tantrum in the middle of the grocery store) it helps to refocus our minds on the positives (like the fact that the aformentioned toddler has a healthy set of lungs and is able to express herself...just not effectively yet). When life feels overwhelming, start ticking off the many things you are greatful for. (Extra time? Get your kids in on the action...start a "thankfulness list" and post it on the refrigerator. Add to it as blessings come to mind.)
Information gathered from,,, and

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Family Time: Doing Life Together! (Part 1)

I haven't forgotten about you all, but am busy loving my family this week! It has been hard to find time to sneak away and write...which is a problem I will gladly take if it means spending family time together! The hubs is off for the week and we have been having a blast just doing life stuff together. It is so nice to have the reconnection that comes from being able to (somewhat) sleep in together and have him join in our daily routine.

Some of the highlights have been him joining me and Baby Girl for swim classes, getting to sleep in while he took care of Baby Girl the other morning, and going on walks! This Friday we are going to head over to a nearby hiking and picnicking area I've wanted to check out for a while now. I am SO EXCITED about it! We may not get the camping trip in we had planned for our July To-Do List but we will at least get to go to the place we were going to camp and scope it out for future camping possibilities! Also, this weekend we are planning on hitting goal three from the aforementioned list and go on a...wait for it...ACTUAL DATE!!! We aren't planning anything too extravagant, but we are planning something fun and just-for-two...and it might involve coffee because, well, we really can't do anything datish without including a cup of Joe in the mix...because outside of my family and Jesus I am pretty in love with Joe (the coffee, remember...just so we don't get any rumors started)!

Well, I better book it because any minute Baby Girl is going to wake from her nap and the hubs will be done with his project...but I missed you too much to not write SOMETHING! So have a fabulous Wednesday and tell me what you are looking forward to this week(end)! *Smiles!* Oh, don't miss part 2 of "Family Time: Doing Life Together"...I might actually write something useful in that one! ;)


Monday, July 15, 2013

Jump Start Your Soul!

Sometimes I wish they had jumper cables for the soul. Maybe that sounds weird...what I mean is that there are days when getting our hearts and minds in the right place can be a bit of a challenge. I need a quick jolt to help realign my attitude. Anybody been there? Well, if you have a case of the Mondays than here is a fun way to start the week! Who knows, it might even adjust your eyesight to help you  better see how blessed you are. These are two songs I turn to when I need to remember that it is all just part of the journey. Enjoy!

Steven Curtis Chapman "Do Everything"

Francesca Battistelli "This is the Stuff"
If you are interested in seeing the lyrics you can find them for "Do Everything" here and for "This is the Stuff" here!

I hope you have a happy Monday.  Maybe you can breath a little bit easier now, and remember that there is purpose to this crazy journey that we are on! He uses it all for His glory (and, bonus, we end up with some really great stories to tell down the my friend whose little one ate her weight in coffee beans. THAT will be a good one to tell for years to come!) Enjoy your day!

Today I am linking up with The Better Mom.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Our Actions & Attitudes: Little Eyes are Watching

I am not a very good advice-taker. Ask my husband, he will nod emphatically (possibly while snorting). I don't like other people telling me what to do. It doesn't mean I can't learn from others, because I most certainly have a LOT to learn and often the advice I get is helpful. The thing is, sometimes I just don't want it. I know, I know, serious pride issue here. I am working on it. But as I work on it, I am finding out something about myself. As much as I don't like to hear advice from people I actually know, I really enjoy emulating those I admire. I might come home and vent to my husband about something annoying that happened to me, and I do N-O-T want him to give me advice on what I could have done differently or how I can "fix" the situation. (Can you feel me sisters?) I want him to listen. However, if on the other hand, I get the opportunity to watch him deal with a similar situation in a godly and loving way, I will see that as anexample and want to follow in his footsteps.
All this self-reflection got me to I somebody other people would want to emulate? Because like it or not, I am being watched by my little girl every day. On the days when I am kind and thoughtful and on the days when I snap at my husband, sigh loudly at the customer with eighteen-thousand coupons in front of me, and bend the truth while sharing a story with a friend. Each choice and action I make is being soaked in by my little one, for better or worse.

The old saying goes, "actions speak louder than words" and it is never more true than in the way we parent. How can our little ones develop a heart of gratefulness when we don't say thank you and complain about everything under the sun? How can they learn contentment when we strive for the next best thing--unhappy with what we have? The consequences go far beyond hearing that oh-my-gosh-how-could-he-say-that-in-church word. Our kids are being molded and shaped into the future molders and shapers of the world. What kind of example do we want them to be someday?
We will have days when our attitudes stink worse than the diaper that needs to be changed and our hearts are anything but grateful. We will fail at always being the best example. What can they learn from us when we do? They won't always listen to our words, but they will always be watching. And there is always an opportunity to teach.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Lessons Taught by my Little Girl

I am amazed at how much I have learned about life from my baby girl. I mean, here I am thinking that I need to read more Plato (or whatever book might make me sound smarter), but instead, right in front of me is an itty-bitty girl who teaches me something new every day! She is so darn smart, let me tell you what. And though at seven months old I doubt she does it intentionally, she has lots to teach others. So, at the risk of sounding sappy and sentimental, here are ten things I am learning, compliments of my girl. 

1. Love your family. Okay, so maybe Baby Girl is too little to actually know what love is. But for her, its not a big, complicated ordeal. She just loves her dad and me because we are her family. She doesn't have to think about it, it is a fact for her. I want to love my family that way.

2. Stretch: It just feels good. Starting and ending the day with a stretch is delightful...with a few thrown in for good measure. You should try it.

3. Be a bit of a risk-taker. My daughter hasn't yet learned that life can be scary, so she's willing to try new things. Riding high on daddy's shoulders is a treat, not a terror (I am in such awe because I am terrified of heights...I think she is so brave!) If I would get out there and not worry so much, I think I would be happier and less stressed for it.

4. Enjoy your food. When its time to eat, that girl goes for it! Now I am not suggesting gorging ourselves is the way to happiness, but I am saying that instead of mindless stuffing I want to take time to savor the flavors and enjoy the company at mealtime.

5. Be curious. Whether it's removing a pair of glasses from grandpa's face, grabbing daddy's nose to give it a pull, or observing other kids playing and interacting, it seems there is never a time my girl is not in wonder at life. She "asks questions" with her hands constantly, and it makes me think that maybe I need to stop living on autopilot and start observing and interacting in life more.

6. When life gets you down, get outside. The tears flow, life seems like it is just about over and
then...we step outside. It almost always puts an end to the crying, and Baby Girl is transformed into an outdoor explorer, feeling the grass on her feet and the wind in her face. It lifts her mood, and I need to remember that it lifts mine too.

7. Find contentment in the little things. As long as she is fed, loved, and in a clean diaper my girl is usually happy with life. (A random piece of paper to shred or cardboard box to open don't hurt either).  Why do I often feel I need so much more? If I am fed, clothed, and loved I am beyond blessed.

8. Laugh, Sing, & Dance. My girl is not a big giggler. She often prefers to observe her surroundings (and the crazy antics of her mom) than laugh about them. But when she laughs she really laughs, and she seems to love music, singing, and dancing. And always, after our rocking out is over, I feel more peaceful and joyful too.

9. It's okay to need a hug. Sometimes my little one just needs a cuddle. If her tummy hurts, she's tired, or just feels plain overwhelmed it seems there is nowhere she'd rather be than in my arms. Sometimes I just need a hug too. And it's okay to ask for one.

10. Never give up. Tenacity defines my daughter. She will continue to try to do something or get
something until she finally accomplishes her goal. I watch in wonder as she is trying to master crawling and think "I would have thrown in the towel by now!" but she keeps at it. I wonder, if I had that attitude about life, how many more things would I learn and experience?

It might be my job to teach and raise my little one, but in the process, God uses her daily to remind me things that I so often forget. There are so many more things I am learning, and I would love to hear what you have learned from little ones...whether they be your own or others you have been around. Let's keep learning together!

Today I am linking up with Rachel Wojnarowski for Whimsical Wednesdays!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Consider It All Joy: Surviving the Baby Blues

 Life is kind of like one of those heartbeat monitor things. It has ups...and it has downs. The ups and downs represent the heartbeat of a life being lived. We have moments and we have days that are as near perfect as we can get this side of heaven. I guess those would be our ups. Then again, we have moments and days and sometimes even longer expanses of time where all we can do is put one foot in front of the other and keep going. Those would be the downs. And as difficult and lonely as those downs sometimes feel, we need to remember that there will be an up again.

When I first came home after experiencing the joys and pains (oh my, the pains!) of having my baby girl, I expected to be elated. I expected that I would be overjoyed at this new life sleeping in my arms. I didn't expect the combination of labor recovery, lack of sleep, and so many new things to learn to overshadow the gift and miracle that I now got to touch and see and hear. But it did. It was a downward spike on my heart monitor. I was panicked that I would never feel like myself again. I was ashamed. How could I not be overcome with joy at the beautiful baby God had blessed me with? Feelings of incompetence and unworthiness overwhelmed me. I was locked in fear that, because of my sadness and perceived lack of gratefulness, God would take this baby away from me.

I lived in fear and shame and overwhelming sadness in a time that (I thought) should be filled with joy and laughter and energy. I was surrounded by people and yet felt so alone. I didn't know how to love my baby well, and felt like I would never know how to be a good mama. And then, slowly, the heart monitor began to go up again. I grew more confident in my feeding and diapering skills, and I learned how to comfort a crying baby. I still had days when both my little one and I spent the majority of our time crying together...but they grew less frequent. I began to open up again, and see joy in this little miracle.

Looking back, that time was a haze. In retrospect it makes sense that I would feel overwhelmed and frightened at the vastness of the greatest responsibility of my life. It makes sense that due to my hormones having a wild party and my body not getting the sleep it needed, I would be out of sorts. But at the time I felt like I was the only one. Have you ever felt that alone? Do you now? If so, you need to know that this is a season. You will find joy again. You are not a failure. And God understands exactly where you are and is loving you right there. Let yourself rest. And learn. Don't add the pressure of feeling like you have to be at an "up" right will get there. And in my experience, you'll get there faster if you give yourself grace to be where you are at right now, and live in the grace God has given you for this moment.
Today I am linking up with Hope For the Weary Mom.

Friday, July 5, 2013

July Goal #1...accomplished to the best of my ability

Friday is here...but it feels like Saturday. Maybe because yesterday was the 4th of July and my hubby was home (sort of). He is an on-call firefighter in our community and much of his day was spent helping with fireworks and such. My community hero! Anyway, I have to warn you that because it feels like Saturday I am feeling a little bit lazy. (It didn't help that Baby Girl decided 6:30am was the PERFECT time to start the day, which is a whole hour-and-a-half earlier than normal!) So after hemming and hawing as to whether I would actually write a post today, I decided that I would give a short-but-sweet recap of one of my July goals!

If you will recall from my Summer Goals, one of them was to celebrate the 4th with "a barbeque, a fun dessert, and a celebratory spirit." Due to my somewhat obsessive nature, I am chagrined to say that I was not able to fully accomplish said goals. I did go to a barbeque with my family...but a thunderstorm (along with wind strong enough to blow you right over) decided to descend right as we were settling into barbeque mode. I ate most of a hot dog but that was about it. In retrospect, it was quite a comical sight. Chairs were flying through the air, children were crying, and moms & dads were running pell-mell trying to gather up all food, kids, and belongings before they flew away. In the moment, I did must admit I not retain my celebratory spirit...but I did refrain from taking the stress of the moment out on my husband. I'm going to say that counts.

I did make some pretty fabulous coconut cupcakes! You can find the recipe here. They were in the July issue of Better Homes and Gardens. Apparently they are a family tradition of Tricia Yearwood and they are DELICIOUS! So I accomplished my "fun dessert" goal...except that due to Freak Storm they did not get shared with anybody. Consequently, I ate way too many yesterday and decided it would probably be best to freeze the rest before I did permanent damage to my waistline.

So there you have it. My (semi) accomplished July Goal #1. One down, two to go! Happy Friday and have a fantastic weekend!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Surviving Sleep Deprivation (AKA "Just 5 More Minutes...PLEASE!?")

Some days I really just want to pull the covers back over my head. What does "sleeping through the night" feel like...I don't even know!? I can't even remember! It feels like I haven't slept solidly ever...and I won't sleep ever again. Well there's a daunting thought for you. But, as all moms know, this is what we sign up for when we have our babies. With all of the joys of watching our little ones grow and learn also comes a level of sacrifice (oh yes, I value my sleep that much) that I couldn't have comprehended pre-mamahood.

Of course, it's not just about sleep (though oh how I yearn for several hours of blissful uninterrupted sleep at this moment...I think I might be drooling just thinking about it). It is about seeing ourselves and our purpose in life as greater than just us. Sure, we caught glimpses of it before we became mamas. Maybe we sacrificed our time or money for others. Or maybe we sacrificed our way of doing things and learned how to compromise; but it wasn't as deep and all-encompassing as when we become the caretakers, protectors, and the teachers of little bitty ones.

I couldn't have understood how primal and raw my emotions had the ability to be until baby girl was born. Something breaks open inside of us when we become mamas that has the ability to be fierce and protective, as well as gentle and compassionate all at the same time. I would fight off a bear for my little one...and I would stay up all night just to watch her sleep. There is nothing that I wouldn't give up for her, no sacrifice too big to make. And there is a fierceness in my love that resonates in my soul and seems to say, "There is no mountain I wouldn't climb for you. There is no river I wouldn't cross for you. There is no height I wouldn't ascend for you. There is no depth I wouldn't plumb for you. You. Are. Mine. And my love for you is endless. No. Matter. What."

And I can't help but know deep within me that this love is God's love. It is what He has for each one of us. The intensity I feel when I think of the depths of love I have for baby girl are exactly what He feels when He thinks of me. I have never understood His love like this. It is a new concept for me. When the Bible says His love surpasses knowledge, it means it surpasses knowledge. You can't know a love like that, you have to experience it. It is greater than what can logically be comprehended. And it's supposed to be. Just as baby girl will never completely comprehend the fullness of my love, because it will keep pouring out and showing itself differently in each new experience; in the same way, I will never fully grasp God's love.

There will come a day when I will sleep all night long. It just might be twenty-something years away. When the kids are grown. And off to college. Except then I will probably be up worrying about what they are doing at two in the morning and if they are safe in their dorm room. So maybe, now that I am a mom, I won't ever sleep again. Except I know that in truth I will sleep again (it just may not be for as long as I would like). But we have a God who never sleeps or slumbers. He would fight off a bear and stays up to all night to watch us sleep. And on those days when we are up taking care of our babies while the rest of the world snores away blissfully, he sits with us and says, "Now do you see
my love a little more clearly?"

{I am linking up with Rachel Wojnaroski for Whimsical Wednesdays. You can get to her blog by clicking here!}

Monday, July 1, 2013

10 Quick & (Mostly) Easy Ways to Love Your Spouse Today...

Smile. Not only can it boost your mood and immune system (and, rumor has it, also make your butt tingle) but smiles are contagious, relieve stress, and are considered more attractive than make-up by almost 70% of men! Make a conscious effort to smile at your mate today.

Hug. Kids love getting them. Pets love getting them. Rest assured your spouse probably does too. A quick and easy way to say "I love you." Don't let the day go by without hugging your spouse!

 Say something nice. It can be anything from, "You look beautiful today" (one of my personal favorites) to "Honey, you give such great advice sometimes" (my man melts at that) to "I just really like being around you". The options are endless...why do we often struggle to shower our spouse with verbal affirmation? We don't always know how stressful their days are, but I bet they can always use our kind words! (Included in this list is remembering to thank them...I often take for granted the ways my husband serves our family by working so hard. My appreciation of him needs to be spoken!)

Laugh. Laughter really is the best medicine. Has your spouse heard you laugh lately? Not only does it make them feel like you actually want to be around them, but it also releases tension and increases bonding. So whether you're laughing because you are enjoying time with your spouse, or your laughing to try and work through something with your spouse, remember that you are on the same team. And take time to laugh.

 Don't say the something that doesn't need to be said. The day was long and your spouse didn't follow through with that commitment...again. You want to snap, but take a breath, empathize with what they may be going through, and say something encouraging instead. Later, when you are less heated and tired, you can address the issue. But for now, bite your tongue and use your words to be kind instead.

 Give focused attention. You're busy. It can be difficult to take time to just sit. But five minutes of one-on-one attention with eye-contact and no multitasking might be just the connection you and your spouse need to fill the love tank. There are a lot of things that can wait...take the five minutes to really focus on the one you committed to "for better or worse".

Let them know they are on your mind. There are so many ways to do this in the age of modern technology. A quick text message or short email can go a long way in making your mate feel special. Feeling feisty? A flirty or sexy note can ensure they will be thinking about you all day long. 

Plant one on em'. It takes more work to french kiss (using 34 face muscles as opposed to just 2 for a quick peck) and burns more calories (6.4 a minute which comes out to 384 calories an hour). It is also statistically shown that kissing your spouse for at least a six-second interval helps many people feel closer to their mate all day! 

Do Something Nice. Sometimes I feel like I am serving, serving, serving my family. But that attitude gets me nowhere and I mean no where. If I focus on myself I can end up grumpy, self-righteous, and fully lacking the desire to serve anybody in my family, especially my fully-capable husband. But when I look for ways to serve my spouse it becomes a game I play. How can I serve my husband in this particular instance? Not only does he feel loved, but I end up in a much better mood. Do something nice for your spouse today, just because.

Thank God for them. Whether you feel like you might just pull all of your hair out (or smother them with a pillow while they sleep) or you are riding the gentle waves of marriage, cultivating a thankful heart is one of the most important ways to keep your marriage strong and healthy. They may have done 101 things to irritate you today and you are certainly not in a thankful mood! But take a minute (you don't have to tell them you are doing this) and think of a few things about them you are thankful for. Do they love your kids well? Are they a faithful provider? Take a minute and thank God for them and their value to you and your family. And don't be surprised if you find yourself a little bit softer towards them afterwards.

Today I am linking up with Better Mom Mondays! To get to her blog click here!