Indescribable Peace This Christmas

Indescribable Peace

Welcome to week 3 of my Advent series, Indescribable Peace this Christmas! I realize I went a little bit out of the traditional order doing Joy last week and Peace this week, but I’m sure there’s some reason God had me write it in the order I did, even if it was just for reminding myself to choose joy last week!

My Story of Indescribable Peace

Our oldest daughter, Lily, was born 11 weeks early (you can read her miracle birth story in my blog post here).  We spent 10 long weeks in the hospital with her before we could finally take her home. We ended up taking her home on Christmas Eve of 2014. To this day, no other Christmas present has been able to top that. I don’t think it ever will.

Indescribable peace with our little miracle baby, Lily
Pete and I holding Lily for the first time

Anyway, as you can probably imagine this was the most stressful thing Pete and I had ever been through. From not knowing if she was going to survive birth or come out breathing, to suspected brain damage, to continual eye exams due to her prematurity, to her stopping breathing and turning blue one night. It was, quite frankly at times, a nightmare I just wanted to wake up from.

But the weird thing is, through this entire journey I felt this indescribable peace. This deep sense of peace that couldn’t be shaken. This sense of peace that no mater what happened, she would be OK and we would be OK. That this whole thing was something larger than ourselves.  It really is inexplicable, because I don’t think I could ever do it justice to explain this deep feeling of peace.

Phillipians 4:7

Where can we find this Indescribable Peace?

This peace can only come from one place; knowing that God is in control and we are not. He’s not just in control, He’s in control and He cares about us. He’s not plotting or planning bad things to happen. Bad things happen sometimes, like our daughter being born WAY earlier than we thought, but He is right there to walk through the whole thing with us and He wants to do the same with you!

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. ~Psalm 23:4

Friends, if I could wish for one thing for you this Christmas, I hope you find this peace within you. Christmas is not supposed to be about the hustle and bustle, or Santa and Rudolph. It’s not about the concerts and cookies, parties or presents. Christmas is about that little bitty baby laying in a manger, who grew into a man that chose to die on the cross for us to bring us peace. Because no matter what, He is with us!

Indescribable Peace

Related Posts:
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Hope this Christmas
~ The Secret to Joy this Christmas

The Secret to Joy this Christmas

It’s the second week of Advent! This week in my Advent series, we’ll be focusing on Joy! This has been a very convicting post to write as joy is something I still struggle to find day in and day out. I don’t find joy in doing the laundry or washing the dishes. So, there has to be something more, right?!? What is the secret to Joy this Christmas?

What is Joy?

What does joy look like? Pure, unadulterated joy. Here’s a picture of my daughters playing together this summer… this to me is joy.

What pure, unadultered joy looks like ~ my girls playing together

Why do we call it unadulterated? Adultery in a marriage is cheating on your spouse. Adultery in the Bible is seeking idols or other gods besides the One True God. So how do we commit adultery on Joy? Committing adultery on Joy is when we look somewhere other than Christ for our Joy.

The Secret

We look to all sorts of other places to try and find joy.

  • Marriages
  • Likes and followers on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Pinterest
  • Our Children
  • Being accepted by others
  • Having a successful career

These are all things that can definitely bring us feelings of joy. But feelings don’t last, they change. I want to know that joy that is in my heart and doesn’t change based on circumstances. What’s the secret to finding that Joy?

Jesus.

Joy is a fruit of the Spirit (Galations 5:22-23) Joy is in us because Christ lives in us. My girls like when we sing the song I’ve got the Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy Down in my Heart, the end of the chorus says joy is down in our heart TO STAY. It’s there, it can’t be taken away because it comes from Christ in us!

The Secret to JOY this Christmas
The Secret to Joy this Christmas

Finding Joy

How do we find joy, how do we choose joy? We look to Christ. That is part of the beauty of Christmas; Christ came down to earth to restore our relationship with God. Because of this, we can have the Holy Spirit living in us and experience Joy every day. Joy that doesn’t change when things aren’t going as we had planned. Joy in the midst of sorrow.

Satan will do anything to steal our joy, to take our focus off Christ and try to find our joy elsewhere. We are so much less effective when we aren’t joyful, at least I know I am. It says in John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” Notice how Jesus says He wants to have life abundantly? That includes joy. He wants us to have an abundance of joy!

So, this Christmas I choose Joy. This Christmas I choose Christ. This Christmas I celebrate Christ’s birth that has given this unending Joy down in my heart TO STAY! What will you choose this Christmas?

JOY!

Related Posts:

Hope this Christmas

So I’m sitting here in my living room, finishing up a cup of hot chocolate with the fireplace on, and I’m thinking about Hope. Here we are in the first week of Advent already, the week of Hope. I honestly don’t know where to start or what to write about. I’m having a little bit of writers block to be honest! So I started Googling, because that’s what we do when we have questions right?!? I came across a couple definitions that really got me thinking about Hope this Christmas.

Advent- the arrival of a notable person, thing or event. Waiting for Hope this Christmas

Hope at Christmas

The dictionary defines Advent as “the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event.” In this case, the arrival of Christ. But that happened over 2000 years ago… where’s the hope in that? Hope is defined as “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.” We can’t have a feeling of expectation or desire for something that has already happened. That doesn’t make sense.

“Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.” 1 Peter 1:13 NIV

Our hope, this feeling of expectation of the arrival of a notable person, this Advent; we wait patiently for Christ to return again. He came once, God in the form of a human baby, to live among us, forgive our sins and give us eternal life. Our hope is in the fact that He will come again! He will fully restore this world to His original plan and design.

“and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas which reminds us of hope

This Christmas as I reflect on Christ’s first coming, I also wait with expectation for His second coming.

So how do we do this? Especially with our kids? How do we describe the hope we have in Christ?

How to Teach our Kids about Hope

Last year, we bought our girls Shepherd’s Treasure. It’s like Elf on the Shelf, but not. Instead it’s the story of a little shepherd boy and his journey to find the TRUE meaning of Christmas. Kids learn about God’s great love for them when he sent his son into this world to save us! Each day a new verse from God’s word is read on the Advent card.

So, basically you hide the Shepherd Boy each night for your child to find the next morning. When they find it, you can all read the Bible verse on the card, as well as the explanation or activity or action on the back on the card. I was flipping through them today and came across the one based on Luke 2:8-16 (the birth of Jesus). On the back of the card it says “We are almost there! I can’t wait to see Jesus!” The Shepherd boy is talking about Christmas, but isn’t that an amazing thought for right now as well… we’re almost there!

Jesus is coming again! I’m going to read this card with my girls in the morning and we can talk about the Hope we have in this time leading up to Christmas and always of seeing Jesus.That is the true meaning of Hope this Christmas!

Candle with Hope this Christmas

Related posts:

Defeating Defeat

I am so honoured and excited to be published as a guest blogger on Recovering Perfectionist. When I found Elizabeth’s site, I was super encouraged and felt like we are a good fit to work together. I’m a recovering perfectionist as well 😉 I wrote the article Defeating Defeat for her blog and here it is!

Hop on over to her blog and check out my post!!

http://elizabethauwarter.com/defeating-defeat/

Defeating Defeat based on Job 38

Top Christmas Gifts for 2-4 Year Old Girls Under $30

Shopping on a Christmas budget this year? We sure are! I was asking my daughters the other day (Maggie is 2, almost 3, and Lily just turned 4) what they wanted for Christmas. We had a few flyers out with options, and other things they just told me what they wanted. I thought I’d compile a wish list of the top Christmas gifts for 2-4 year old girls under $30 (not the $240 Barbie Dream House they wanted!!) Here’s what they came up with…

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Top Christmas gifts for girls 2-4 years old wish list

  • PJ Masks Figurine Set ~ Lily is obsessed with PJ Masks thanks to her cousins!! Maggie watches it with her, but she’s still more into Paw Patrol. These are the perfect size to play with.
  • Paw Patrol Skye Set or Paw Patrol Everest Set ~ at 4 years old, Lily is sort of starting to outgrow Paw Patrol. She still LOVES Skye though and would love anything Skye related. As I said before, Maggie still loves this show! My girls favorite pups are Skye and Everest which isn’t surprising seeing as they are the only 2 girl pups and they wear pink and purple!
  • FurReal Pets Kami, My Poopin’ Kitty ~ Lily wants a cat, she loves cats. We had 2 cats when she was born, but we had to get rid of them shortly after Maggie was born, they were jealous of her! Pete also developed really bad allergies to them. But, Lily still wants one. This is the next best thing, she still has to feed it and she has to clean up after it as well. Give her a taste for having a real pet!! (mind you, she does help me feed our dog Winnie almost every day)
  • Who’s kids like to help them in the kitchen? My girls LOVE helping me bake, do dishes, make breakfast etc. Sometimes I get a little impatient because I know I can do it 10 times faster by myself, but they just love it and it’s so good for them to be and feel involved. Check out Flirty Homes (used to be Flirty Aprons), they have the cutest aprons for everyone in the family. Lily loves her little apron and I know Maggie is getting one for her birthday in January too! (They also have some other adorable decor for the home and natural cleaning products… great site all around!) www.FlirtyAprons.com
  • Disney Princess Anything ~ here’s a few ideas Disney Princess My First Bedtime Story Book , Fisher Price Little People Disney Princess set of 6, CandyLand Disney Princess Edition (the girls are just starting to get into board games, this one would be excellent for them!). Pretty much anything Disney Princess they would be happy with. They love their Shimmering Princess dolls too. We’ve also asked for a few of the movies: Frozen, Tangled and Tinker Bell
  • Barbie ~ They’re just starting to get into Barbies… Lily a bit more so than Maggie. They LOVE the Barbie Dolphin Magic movie. We’ve watched it over and over and over (see my blog about that here). I know either of the dolls, the Mermaid or the Barbie Snorkell doll would make them 2 happy little girls!
  • Finally, if you’re looking for some awesome devotionals or inspirational stories for young girls about females in the Bible, check out Bible Belles. Their books aim to teach our daughters their worth through Biblical stories. These are great for this age to build girls a solid foundation of how God sees them.

What are you getting for your kids this year? Any other great ideas? I’m not done my shopping yet (not even close!!), so I’m always looking for great ideas!!

Top Christmas Gifts for 2-4 year old girls

Fighting a Panic Attack: 4 Practical tips

Trip to Calgary

This past weekend my husband, Pete, and I went to Calgary. It was a quick trip and we did A LOT of driving around. He showed me where his childhood home and elementary school was in North Calgary, we caught a movie at the VIP Cinema in South Calgary. On Saturday afternoon we decided to take a drive out to Chestermere just East of Calgary. It’s a beautiful little community, there’s a gorgeous lake with cute little parks and beaches. Unfortunately, I had to use my 4 practical tips for fighting a panic attack.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of my links, through no added cost to you, I may receive a small commission.

I was really looking forward to looking around when I started having a panic attack. It started out slowly and I was just trying to control it with deep breathing. It wasn’t long before it turned into a full fledged panic attack, heart beating super fast, nausea, sweating. I told my hubby to pull over and puked in the parking lot of one of the cute little parks. I haven’t had a panic attack like that in years. Pete and I have known each other for over 7 years and he’s never seen me like that.

So, what do I do when I’m having an attack? Here are some very practical things I do to get through my anxiety.

4 Practical Tips for Fighting a Panic Attack

4 Practical Tips

1- Ginger Ale, Gravol  and Gum ~ I’ve never gone onto any fast acting anxiety medications like Ativan, I haven’t felt the need to especially in the last few years as my panic attacks have been fairly well controlled. I take my anti-anxiety/anti-depressant every day, but nothing to take when I feel an attack coming on. So Ginger Ale and Gravol are my go to’s. They both help cut the nausea and the Gravol helps me settle down and pass out for a little while (see tip #3) I get very physical reactions to my panic attacks, so gum is always helpful after throwing up.

2- Remind myself of what I can control ~ The only thing we can truly control is ourselves. How we react, what we think, what we do. When I feel so out of control I find it helpful to picture myself in a box and remind myself over and over that I can’t control what people think of me when I’m like this, I can’t control the circumstances that led to the panic attack, I can’t even really control whether or not I throw up, but I can control myself and my thoughts. I had an instructor once explain it as the hula hoop. We can only control what happens in our hula hoop, not in anyone else’s.

3- Go to Bed ~ Getting some sleep make a world of difference for me! Thankfully the Gravol leaves me sleepy, so if I can get an hour or two of sleep, I usually wake up feeling refreshed and with a better outlook on life. I find having a weighted blanket or at least a heavy blanket or comforter helps me settle as well. I tried just throwing a small blanket over myself at first, but it really didn’t help. Once I put something heavier on, it seems to help control some of the reaction to anxiety (shivering, shaking, wakes of panic etc.)

4- Pray ~ Prayer helps to remind me of the bigger picture. God is ultimately in control of everything… the small things and the big picture things. It also reminds me that I am not alone. I am never alone, God is always there walking with me through the good times and the bad.

What Does the Bible Say?

Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.” ~ Deuteronomy 31:6

“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” ~ Psalm 139:7-10

Final Encouragement

Finally friends, I want to remind you (and myself) that anxiety does not define you. Let me say that again, because if you get nothing else from this post, you NEED to know that anxiety does not define you. I was really worried I would have another panic attack the next day, but I didn’t. I was fine, my anxiety attack did not define me or how the weekend went. Even with having a panic attack, we still had a great time. I am just a regular person who has panic attacks sometimes. There is nothing wrong with you if you have anxiety like me. It’s a sickness and it can be dealt with and overcome to live a happy, healthy and fruitful life. Don’t be afraid to seek help if you need it, it is nothing to be ashamed of.

What are some of the ways you cope with stress/anxiety or panic attacks? I’d love to hear from you! The more “tools” we can have in our belts to fight these kinds of things, the better! We’re in this together.

xoxo,

  Caroline

Woman with face in hands. Fighting a Panic Attack: 4 Practial Tips

Obsessed with Picture Perfect

Fall is here and that means Pumpkin patch season!! I love going to our local pumpkin patch to get pumpkins and pick apples. I’ve been twice in the last week! As long as it isn’t raining, I’m game to go! Shopping local is awesome and I love to support local. Plus, the fruit always tastes better and lasts longer as it’s straight from the farm! It’s also a great season for taking pictures. But, I wonder lately if we are becoming to obsessed with picture perfect.

Pumpkins in obsessed with picture perfect

Field Trip to the Pumpkin Patch

The other day I was on a field trip with Lily. I was struck by how many people were snapping photos after photo after photo of their kids. It seemed they were doing this rather than just enjoying the time with their kid. Moms were stuck behind their cameras or cell phones. They were moving their kids around and telling them to sit still to get the perfect picture. Kids were fidgeting and trying to run away making moms more and more impatient.

Girl running through trees in Obsessed with Picture perfect

Obsessed with Picture Perfect

Are we so obsessed with picture perfect in today’s world trying to get the perfect image to put on our social media? Do we take pictures rather than spending these special moments making memories with our loved ones? We’re so concerned about portraying our perfect life on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. Sometimes I think we forget to enjoy the time we get to spend with our kids. I’ll admit, I’m guilty of it too. As soon as I snap a cute picture of the girls I start thinking about how I can put it on social media. If I don’t like the picture, there is no chance I’m posting it! We “airbrush” our lives to make them look how we want rather than actually connecting to people on a human level. We no longer relate to others in our struggles and weakness, joys and strengths.

Authenticity

God wants us to be authentic. It’s sad really how disconnected our world is becoming. There are more and more ways to connect with others, but is having a device in our hands or in front of us really connecting with people?

Beautiful girl in flower field with Obsessed with Picture perfect

When Christ died for us, He did it so He can have a relationship with us; and we can have one with Him. God is all about relationships, that’s why He’s 3 in 1, that’s why He created us in the first place. He wants us all to live in relationships. His greatest commandment is to Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31. There is nothing more important to God and there should be nothing more important to us.

I pray that as I snap pictures my images won’t be more important to me then the subjects I’m taking pictures of!

Lily and I on her field trip to the pumpking patch in Obsessed with Picture perfect

Overcoming Mom Guilt

This is the time of year my “Mom Guilt” kicks into high gear. It’s almost Lily’s birthday, she’ll be 4 next week. I still can’t believe that, but it’s true! You can read all about her miracle birth story in my post My Preemie Miracle. Each year, I feel like I’m getting better at overcoming mom guilt that I feel this time of year.

Picture of me holding my preemie miracle in Overcoming Mom Guilt
First time holding my precious baby girl!

Lily’s Birth

4 days before Lily was born, I was in the ER with severe upper right abdominal pain. It was my third time in the ER in the 6 and a half months I was pregnant. I had gallstones and the way Lily was sitting in my tummy was causing them to be pushed out. Talk about pain! I was 13 weeks pregnant when it first happened and I was sure I was miscarrying. The pain was unimaginable. Thankfully it was just gallstones and not the baby!

Anyway, when I got to the ER that third time, they did the standard tests of temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure. My blood pressure was through the roof… I remember seeing 184/something. When I was in at 19 weeks, the nurses had told me that after 20 weeks any woman who comes into the ER with stomach pain automatically gets sent up to the maternity ward. Even though I was almost 29 weeks, I was not. I was kept in the ER. That was my first mistake.

I knew they had said that to me on my last visit, but everyone just kept putting my high blood pressure off as being from the pain. I should have pushed to go up to the maternity ward. Both of my sisters also had early deliveries due to preeclampsia (Don’t know what Preeclampsia is? Read my post: What is Preeclampsia?) Not 11 weeks early, but still early. I should have known better knowing the symptoms of preeclampsia. I wasn’t having some of the more common symptoms, such as headache and vision problems, so I guess I just ignored it.

The “What ifs” of Overcoming Mom Guilt

There are so many “what ifs” that run through my head! What if my preeclampsia was caught earlier? Would they have been able to keep Lily in longer? What if I didn’t have a routine prenatal appointment 4 days later when it was finally caught? What if I had a seizure or a stroke? I was at home by myself for those 4 days. Anything could have happened in those hours Pete was at work. What if, what if, what if…

Woman with head in her hands with heading Overcoming Mom Guilt

What if’s cause guilt. We second guess what we did. We think of all the ways we could have done things better. We strive to be perfectionists (at least I do!) and when something doesn’t go perfectly as planned, we heap on the guilt. I believe we are harder on ourselves than we are on anyone else. We need to learn to have some compassion for ourselves as well.

So, how do we overcome Mom Guilt? Thanksgiving.

I am Grateful printed on heart in Overcoming Mom Guilt

Thanksgiving overcomes Mom Guilt

I am thankful Lily is a lively, active, smart and challenging. She is a completely typical 4-year-old! Thankfully nothing happened in those 4 days between when I was in the ER and when Lily was born. Thankfully I had that doctors appointment set up already four days later. I am thankful for Lily’s safe delivery as well as for my safety that day.

I am thankful for our time in the NICU, I really am. It’s not how I would have planned things to go, but we were so blessed by our time there by seeing our family and friends come around and support us. We felt God right there with us. We were completely confident He would provide for us no matter what the outcome was.

Ours was the best possible outcome, but I know there are others who do not get that. But there is always something to be thankful for. There is always something other than guilt that we can focus on and be thankful for; even if it is just the fact that God is walking through this time in our life with us. He will never leave us or forsake us and for this reason, we can be strong and courageous (Deuteronomy 31:6).

So, if you are feeling Mom guilt today, think about all the things you are thankful for. Write them down! Start a gratitude journal! Tell them to someone! Tell them to God! The more we are thankful for, the less we feel guilty for. Overcoming Mom Guilt is possible!

Why Focus on the Rock?

Do you do daily devotions? I try to. I’d love to say I do it every day, but I don’t. I should, but it doesn’t always happen. Lately I’ve been using the First5 App. I set the alarm on it to go off at 7:30am. I’ll admit though, I am NOT a morning person. My First 5 minutes of my day are not my best minutes to give to God! So, I usually do my reading at night, I’m much more coherent then. I find I need to be focused on the Rock, my God. Why do I need to focus on the Rock?

My Devotional

The other night the devotion was based on Psalm 42 with focus on verse 5: “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?

Basically it was about not fixating on our emotions or anxious feeling, things that are forever changing, but instead to fix our eyes on God who is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8.)

Lesson Learned while Whale Watching

When I was in my early 20’s, I went off to Bible School (Capernwray Harbour Bible Centre) for two years of Biblical studies. That was a big time in my life of learning about the Bible and myself as well as a time of God revealing His character to me. As part of my second year of studies (Leadership Training) we went on a retreat to Tofino, BC (which is one of my favourite places in the entire world! The beaches are gorgeous and there is so much to explore!)

One afternoon we went on a whale watching tour. I’d been on another tour out of Victoria before, but not Tofino. Tofino boasts seeing some amazing grey whales and we saw one after a bit of a bumpy ride out of the sheltered cove.  Now, I tend to get a little sea sick from time to time. I was fine on our whale watching tour in Victoria, so I thought I’d be OK on this one. I was wrong, terribly wrong.

Picture of whale jumping in Why to focus on the RockWe were quite far out, so after I got sick, we had to go all the way back with frequent stops for me to “feed the fish” as they say. As we headed back, our tour guide told me to keep my eyes focused on the mountains on the horizon. He said the more you keep your eyes focused on something that was not moving, the less sick I’d get. He was right, if I focused on the waves around us, or my friends on the boat or the other boat, I’d start throwing up everywhere.

God is our Rock

The Bible often refers to God as being our rock (2 Samuel 22:3, Psalm 18:46, Psalm 40:2, Psalm 94:22, Isaiah 26:4.) As I was focusing on the mountains, those beautiful unmovable rocks, I was reminded of this. God is our steady rock. As long as we fix our eyes on Him, it doesn’t matter what else is going on around us, we won’t “get sick.” God is like a rock, unchanging, steady and immovable. His character is always the same, and He is always faithful, even if we are going through emotional turmoil or an anxious time in life. Keep your eyes on the Lord, He is our refuge in times of trouble.

“The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies.” Psalm 18:2-3

Picture of Rock in Why Focus on the Rock

What are some things you do for daily devotions? Is there anything you use to remind yourself or keep yourself accountable? I’d love to hear what you do… it’s definitely an area in my life I’d like to improve on.

Loving Discipline

I wrote a post a few weeks ago called 3 Words to Stop Arguing with your Toddler. I feel like I’ve gotten into a bad rut of yelling at Lily and Maggie when I’m “disciplining” them. That’s not real discipline, they get nothing out of it, I just end up feeling bad for yelling. It makes me feel even worse when they are playing house together and whoever is playing the Mom yells at whoever is playing the child. So what does loving discipline mean? Why loving discipline?

Picture of angry child with Caption "3 words to stop arguing with your toddler" a previous post I wrote that inspired Loving Discipline

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Disciplining my Girls in Love

Anyway, one of the techniques I’ve been using lately to diffuse the situation, both for myself and the girls, is taking a little breather and reminding myself and them that I love them. Just saying I love you makes a huge difference.

Here’s a little piece of what I wrote:

“Rather than yelling or getting upset, I stop and tell them I love them. It doesn’t mean they don’t get a time out or have to say sorry for their actions. There are still consequences. But it really just resets the whole situation. It reminds them that I am doing this because I love them, not out of spite, or being mean or just because I feel like it.

I love them and I want them to know right from wrong, and I want them to learn to be kind to each other and others. I love them and I want them to know whining is not going to get them what they want in life and that sometimes they’re going to have to work really hard to get what they want. Again, I love them and I want them to be able to share with others and make friends. I love them and I want them to learn to be responsible and work hard at whatever tasks they are given.”

God’s Loving Discipline

My Aunt, one of my most loyal followers, sent me an email the next day. In it she said, “I am currently in the prophets for my daily Bible reading, and reading your blog this morning so resonated as to the heart of God for us – His love is always at the core of necessary discipline and consequence.” I hadn’t even thought about that when I wrote the post. It’s absolutely true though.

“My son, do not reject the discipline of the Lord
Or loathe His reproof,
For whom the Lord loves He reproves,
Even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights.” ~Proverbs 3:11-12

Image of the word Love in Loving Discipline

“Behold, how happy is the man whom God reproves, So do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.” ~Job 5:17
I’m not going to pretend that I understand God’s discipline. How can a loving God allow bad things to happen to us?
How can I discipline my children? I love them! If you are going through a rough patch in life, in no way would I ever suggest it’s God discipline on you. Have you ever read the book of Job? Yeah, his friends got quite the scolding from God for suggesting Job’s struggles were because he had sinned against the Lord, even though Job insisted on his innocence throughout. Besides, who am I to judge. I’ve made my fair share of mistakes in life.
We live in a fallen world. Bad things are going to happen. But, God uses those things for our good. Was Lily born prematurely as God’s discipline to us? I have a hard time believing that. But I do know that God used that extremely difficult time in our life for good. God taught me a lot about Himself and His character during our NICU stay. He showed Himself as love, peace, healer, provider, a miracle worker. He loves us and He wants the best for us. We were created in His image and He wants us to grow into that more and more each day.
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28
Picture of hearts with Caption Loving Discipline
If you don’t already own a Bible, here is one I recommend: Life Application Bible (New American Standard Bible)
It’s easy to read language and easy to understand and apply to life.

How the Lame will Walk Again

I don’t often write about my Dad. I guess I’m still in some sort of denial. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease the week before Pete and I got married. In the 5 and a bit years since then, his health has drastically declined. He’s got dementia and they believe he has some other neurological diseases that have contributed to how fast he has gone downhill. My Dad was always the big 6’6″ gentle giant. He was my hero (he still is, it’s just different now).

He is now confined to a wheelchair as he is a severe fall risk. When he was standing up before, his blood pressure was dropping so low he would pass out. He went into the hospital after my mom called 9-1-1 when he passed out in March of this year. They transferred him to a care home as soon as a bed was open. So, yeah… seeing your Dad who was always larger than life to you now wheelchair bound and hardly able to communicate has been difficult.

How the Lame will Walk Again

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.  And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” ~Revelations 21:1-4

 

Picture of my Mom and Dad in How the Lame will Walk Again
My Mom and Dad

Wheelchair-Bound

Lily and Maggie really don’t know my Dad any other way. It makes me so sad that they didn’t get to spend time with him before this disease stole so much of his life. I know my older nieces and nephews have memories of my Dad when he was still relatively healthy (looking back now we see some signs that he’s probably been sick for a while). I wish so bad my girls had this!

A few weeks ago after we had visited my Dad, Lily was asking about Pake (this is what my kids call my Dad. It’s Frisian for grandpa) being in a wheelchair. I explained that it wasn’t safe for him to stand anymore. Honestly, it’s been so long I doubt he’d have the strength in his legs to get up anymore. She seemed OK with that answer and we just carried on. Later that day as I was putting her and Maggie to bed she asked if we could pray for Pake to walk again. Talk about breaking my heart!!! She’s so precious and thoughtful sometimes, it just blows my mind coming from a 4-year-old. I almost said no, we can’t pray for that, it won’t happen.

But, God is the God of miracles and I don’t want to doubt Him or her faith in what God can do! We talked a bit about it and I said that Pake likely wouldn’t walk again until Jesus came back and healed all the sick. We still prayed Pake would walk again, even if it was when Jesus returned.

Picture of person walking with caption How the Lame will Walk Again

“But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall.” ~Malachi 4:2

Faith like a Child

Earlier this year there was a major bus crash involving a hockey team here in Canada, the Humboldt Broncos (you can read about it here if you don’t know about it). We’re a big hockey family. I have nephews and nieces who play hockey and we grew up on Hockey Night in Canada. Hockey was one of the things that Pete and I instantly bonded over when we first met, although he, unfortunately, cheers for the wrong team (I’m a Vancouver Canucks fan, he’s a Calgary Flames Fan.) That’s a whole other story though.

Last week, the Broncos played their first game since the accident. I was glued to the TV, it was just so emotional, both sad and happy. Most of the surviving players were there in attendance. A few of them are now paralyzed and confined to wheelchairs. Lily was watching with me and looks at me (I was probably crying) and says “He’ll walk again when Jesus comes back, right Mom?” Talk about faith like a child. For her to put those conversations we had together, is incredible.

I personally cannot wait for the day I see my Dad and these young hockey players walk again!

 “Yet those who wait for the Lord Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.” ~Isaiah 40:31

Getting through the Scary parts of Life

.It’s been a bit of a rainy week here in BC. On rainy afternoons, especially when Momma needs to get some work don, I sometimes put on a movie for Lily and Maggie to watch. Right now they are obsessed with the Barbie- Dolphin Magic movie. It’s a cute little movie about mermaids and dolphins and I don’t mind hearing it in the background as I work, unlike some of the shows they choose! Watching my kids watch this movie has shown me how to talk to my girls about getting through the scary parts of life.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase, through no additional cost to you, I may receive a small commission. For more information, please see my Disclosure Statement.

Scary Parts

This Barbie movie is not a scary movie by any means! At the beginning, one of the dolphins is captured. Lily and Maggie both get a little scared during this part. I always have to remind them not to worry, they know the end of the movie (dolphin gets saved… blah, blah, blah), they know what happens, so there’s nothing to be scared of.

I got to thinking today as I reminded them of this yet again, isn’t this so true of our lives as Christians? We know how the story ends, we know Christ has victory over sin and death! No matter what happens in this life, scary or uncertain, we can walk through it with the knowledge of what happens in the end.

“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” ~1 Corinthians 15:55-57

Boxing champion with caption Victory is ours through Christ Jesus

Our Scary Parts of Life

We’ve got a lot of things coming up in the next few months, a lot of uncertainties and unknowns. Pete is scheduled to have surgery on his elbow in the next couple of months. He’s been in constant pain for months due to his arthritis and damage to the joint from him being a hemophiliac. So, he’ll be off on disability for a while recovering. We have no idea how long that could be. They’ve said anywhere from 3-6 months, and that’s provided everything goes as planned. Him not working will change things financially for us again. I’ll likely have to look for work again as we can’t afford to live without his full income.

We’ve been praying about and exploring different options for months now. It’s scary not knowing what lies ahead of us. I’m a planner, I like to have things organized and know what is happening. Spontaneity is not my strong suit.  I make checklists all the time, especially for big events! But I can’t for any of this. I can’t plan if I don’t know what’s going to happen.

The Ending of our Stories

But, I do know the ending of my story. Christ has given me victory over sin and death. Whatever else happens between now and the end of my story, no matter how unknown or scary parts of the movie might be, in the end, there is victory! He offers this to all of us. All we have to do is believe Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior. In His grace and mercy, He offers us this amazing gift of eternal life! Death will not have the victory over us, Christ has already taken the punishment for us. What amazing comfort! It’s easy to get caught up in the details of our lives (and I’m not saying those details aren’t important, they very much are) without looking at the big picture.

Turbulent sea with caption Getting Through the Scary Parts of Life

“We will sing for joy over your victory, And in the name of our God we will set up our banners. May the Lord fulfill all your petitions.” ~Psalm 20: 5
“O sing to the Lord a new song, For He has done wonderful things, His right hand and His holy arm have gained the victory for Him.” ~Psalm 98:1
Take comfort, my friends… we know the ending!

3 Words to Stop Arguing with your Toddler

It’s been a long, hot, smokey summer here in BC. Our province has literally been on fire and the smoke has basically taken over. I’ve lived in BC pretty much all of my 36 years and I have NEVER experienced smokey air like this. For those of you with toddlers, you know what staying inside for multiple days means… lots of whining, arguing and tantrums. But, through this experience, I have learned there are 3 words to use to stop arguing with your toddler.

Forced to Stay Indoors

The air quality has been so bad, we’ve been forced to stay inside on many occasions. I’m still a little cautious with Lily’s lungs because of her being so premature (read that story here ) She’s at a higher risk for asthma and other breathing problems because she was born with underdeveloped lungs.

3 words to stop arguing with your toddler. Image of smoky Vancouver An Image of Vancouver in the smoke from CTV News Vancouver (https://bc.ctvnews.ca/dramatic-difference-vancouver-skyline-transformed-by-smoke-1.2456182)

My girls need to burn (bad word choice, no pun intended) off energy and they LOVE being outside. There’s only so much energy they can burn off while playing inside. There’s less room, so they’re in each others space more, which leads to more arguing. It’s an endless cycle some days.

Bedtime is the worst here in our house. The girls still have pent up energy and try to get it all out before going to sleep. Getting them ready for bed is exhausting. I started to feel like I was just yelling at them all the time and they didn’t listen anyway. I’d end up with 2 streakers running down the hallway while I threatened “don’t make me get Daddy up here!!” Some nights Pete would just have it with the screaming and arguing and talking back he’d come up anyway. They usually smarten up a bit when Daddy’s around.

One night I was at my wits end! We’d been stuck inside for 2 or 3 days. Our only outings had been grocery shopping and to PetSmart to get them out and see the fish (they love the fish!) I was on the floor, close to tears, after fighting with them for what seemed like FOREVER over which pajamas to wear and then actually putting those pajamas on. They just would not listen.

3 words to stop arguing with your toddler, angry child

The 3 Words to Stop Arguing with your Toddler

I couldn’t help but think to myself “this is not working…” I took a moment just to take a breath and regain some composure. Then I looked at Lily and I said “Hey Lily, you know what? I LOVE YOU!” Then I looked at Maggie and said “Hey Maggie, you know what? I LOVE YOU!” I think they were a little shocked at first! I brought them both over for a little hug and snuggle and from them on, the whole getting ready for bed routine went a lot smoother.

I don’t know if it was me taking a moment to gather myself and remind myself that I love them, or if it was me reminding them that I love them. Maybe I’d been yelling too much for too long and they’d tuned me out. But those 3 simple words made such a difference to our night. I’ve tried it a couple other times when we’re having a tough time dealing with big emotions.

Rather than yelling or getting upset, I stop and tell them I love them. It doesn’t mean they don’t get a time out or have to say sorry for their actions. There are still consequences. But it really just resets the whole situation. It reminds them that I am doing this because I love them, not out of spite, or being mean or just because I feel like it.

I Love Them

I love them and I want them to know right from wrong, and I want them to learn to be kind to each other and others. I love them and I want them to know whining is not going to get them what they want in life and that sometimes they’re going to have to work really hard to get what they want. Again, I love them and I want them to be able to share with others and make friends. I love them and I want them to learn to be responsible and work hard at whatever tasks they are given.

What are some ways you deal with whinny, overtired toddlers? How do you and your family cope with big emotions and tantrums?

3 words to stop arguing with your toddler. I love you

Related article:Loving discipline

BeyondBeanie ~ Brand Ambassador

Becoming a BeyondBeanie Brand Ambassador

I’m super excited about this latest partnership I’ve made! I am now a proud Beyond Beanie Brand Ambassador! A couple weeks ago, someone contacted to see if I wanted to become a brand ambassador for BeyondBeanie. Honestly, I’d never heard of them or their mission before. I was intrigued though. After looking into it some more, I fell in love with their concept! All their products are handmade by Bolivian artists; each artist signs their work and receives a fair wage for what they’ve created!

BeyondBeanie Hand crafter by Bolivian artisansThis post may contain affiliate links. Through no extra cost to you, I may receive a small commission. You can read my full disclosure statement for more information.

As if that wasn’t enough, each purchase made goes to helping kids in Bolivia! Is that not the coolest thing ever?!?

BeyondBeanie sale of 1 beanie feeds 5 children BeyondBeanie purchase of 1 bracelet gives dental care to 1 child in need BeyondBeanie sale of 1 bag gives 1 set of school supplies to a child in need

After reading all this, I was totally onboard with being a brand ambassador for them! Not only are they providing jobs and fair wages for women, they are also helping children at the same time!

beyondBeanie Hector Alvarez and Paty Lucero

About beyondBeanie

“beyondBeanie was co-founded by Hector Alvarez and Paty Lucero in 2014. The company was the result of a backpacking trip that Hector did to Bolivia to visit Paty. Together, they discovered beauty in the rich and colorful textures of Bolivia. They also witnessed the harsh reality of severe poverty in Bolivia… Using an awareness of both the beauty and the not-so-pretty, Hector and Paty dedicated themselves to combine their expertise in business and design to create a fashion line to represent the colorful spirit of Bolivia” (https://beyondbeanie.com/pages/media-kit)

According to World Vision, Bolivia is

“One of the poorest and most underdeveloped Latin American countries, Bolivia faces declining economic growth while drug production and usage climb… Bolivia has one of Latin America’s highest rates of gender violence, affecting women at home and in the workplace. Many children are threatened by exploitation from human trafficking and cyberbullying.”

I am honored to have been asked to be a part of this. I would LOVE if you wanted to be a part of this amazing mission with me! You can shop directly through this BeyondBeanie link and use my code HULTGREN77 for 25% off!! Happy shopping and happy sharing!

love,

Caroline

Holidays 2018

 

Sorry I’ve been a little MIA lately! Pete took 2 weeks off of work and we had a GREAT little vacation with our family. Here are some highlights of our Holidays 2018!

Camping

We went for 3 nights and 4 days camping at Rolley Lake just outside of Mission, BC. It was fantastic! Gorgeous campsite; great little beach by the lake; awesome weather! You can read all about it here!

Also check out my Ultimate Family Camping Checklist downloadable PDF

Click here for your FREE PDF

Road Trip

Every year at the end of July, my sister and brother in law in Enderby host a big family birthday bash for my 2 nephews. My oldest nephew, Ethan’s, birthday is July 27th and his younger brother, Myles’, birthday is July 30th. So it works out well to do them all together. This year Ethan turned 18 and Myles turned 10, so it was kinda a big year for them both!

We had just got home from camping, so rather than camp out in my sister’s yard like we have in the past, we decided to book a hotel. It’s a good 5 1/2 hour trip from our place, so we left fairly early on the Saturday and made it there mid afternoon. Everything went well, other than 1 minor puking incident for Maggie, not such a fun part of our holiday 2018. She gets car sick and I hadn’t brought any Gravol along 🙁 Poor kiddo… she was fine and fell asleep after she puked! On the way home we took some Gravol from my sister so we could avoid another incident!

We stopped in Merritt for supper at my other sister’s house. So, the girls got to see all of their cousins that weekend! They had so much fun. Their big cousins are so good with them and the girls just love playing with them all, they look up to them a ton.

Holidays 2018 picture of 8 out of 11 cousins eating ice cream cake
8 of 11 cousins enjoying some birthday ice cream cake!

Birchwood Dairy

If you are in or around the Abbotsford, BC area this summer (or any summer!) be sure to check out Birchwood Dairy! They have some of the best ice cream in town! Plus, they have a petting zoo area with cows, ponies, goats and sheep that the girls just loved. We bought a bag of apples and celery for $0.50 and the girls went to town feeding all the animals. They especially liked feeding the baby goats and the ponies. There’s also a playground with swings and a slide and some really cool old cars, trucks and tractors to look at. You can watch the farmers milk the cows in the parlor from 3:30-5:30pm as well, so we caught some of that on our way out. It was Pete’s first time seeing a milking parlor too!

Holidays 2018 Birchwood Dairy

Toronto Blue Jays

The Jays were playing in Seattle this past weekend. so we left the girls with my Mom and Pete and I made the trip down there. It was a long weekend and I think half of BC was heading down to see the Jays play, so we had a 2 hour wait at the border! I think that’s the longest I’ve ever had to wait. If you’re familiar with Abbotsford and the Sumas border crossing, we were stopped by Costco already! We hit up the Seattle Premium Outlet Mall on the way down there. Of course, we only left with things for the girls! Pretty typical once you become a parent!!

When we got to Seattle, we parked near the stadium and just walked around for a bit and took in the atmosphere. Everywhere you turned there were more and more Blue Jay fans! We met fans from Calgary, Campbell River, Victoria and Cranbrook.

Pete’s been to couple Jays home games in Toronto and he said it totally felt like a home game there. It was a sea of Blue Jays blue when you looked out at the stadium. We got to see an awesome game. We saw some great pitching from Marco Estrada, a home run by Aledys Diaz and to top it all off a streaker ran onto the field in the 9th inning. Pretty hilarious, but apparently he’s paying quite a hefty price. You can get fined up to $5000 and spend a night in jail. Turns out this guy was from Ireland too and is possibly facing deportation back there! I hope it was all worth it for him!

Holidays 2018 photo collage of trip to Seattle Mariners vs Toronto Blue Jays

Abbotsford Agrifair

We wrapped up our holidays by heading out to the Abbotsford Agrifair. Abbotsford has this fair every year to showcase some of the Agriculture in our city. We’ve taken the girls before, but I think this is the first year they really started to appreciate it. The RCMP Musical Ride was there, so we watched a bit of that. It’s so amazing what they can do with those horses! So beautiful!! It was scorching hot there with no shade, so we didn’t stay for the whole thing.

After that, Maggie wanted to go look at every single animal. After a brief meltdown by the Lego display, we went and had a snack and headed into the barns. It was pretty neat seeing all the cows, chickens, goats and horses. You can’t go to the fair without Mini-donuts, so we had that for a snack and then went back home for supper. It was hot, but the girls enjoyed it!!

Holidays 2018 Abbotsford Agrifair Lily and Maggie posing as a flower and bee
Our little flower and honey bee!!

So, that’s our holiday recap!! What have you all been up to so far this summer? Any great places to recommend?

love,

Caroline

Camping with Kids

This post may contain affiliate links. Through no extra cost to you, I may receive a small commission. You can read our full disclosure statement for more information.

We decided to take our 2 girls on their first camping trip this past week! We stayed pretty close to home just in case things don’t go as smoothly as planned. The first time we tried camping with Lily, she was 9 months old (6 1/2 when you account for her prematurity) and I was 2 months pregnant. This time we headed up to Rolley Lake just outside of Mission, BC (less than a 45 minute drive from our house!!) I’ve been there on many day trips, but never overnight. Its a gorgeous little spot with a great beach and lake to swim in (no motorized boats!)

Daughter Lily playing at the beach
Lily playing at the beach

Maggie playing at the beach

I was a little nervous to go camping with kids at first. Our first trip with Lily didn’t end up going so well. We went to Tofino on Vancouver Island. It ended up being soooooo cold that week and it was the middle of July! Lily was miserable, we ended up leaving early and getting a hotel in Nanaimo. This time around, we had a fantastic time! The girls had so much fun playing and exploring around the campsite and we all enjoyed relaxing and swimming at the beach. It was much needed time for our family.

Our campsite was fantastic! It was fairly private with lots of big trees surrounding us. Even though it was smoking hot when we were there (30+ degree weather) the campsite was comfortable in the shade. We were only about a 2 minute walk from the flush toilets (there were outhouses closer, but Lily refuses to use those… I can’t say I blame her!) There was also a great little park right by the washrooms that the girls enjoyed playing at a few times. Once when I was there with Lily, there was a group of Korean kids playing there too. I don’t think they spoke a lick of English, but Lily insisted they were her new best friends on the playground! It was so cute. I love her friendly spirit.

Reading bedtime stories around the propane fire pit is part of camping with kids! Bedtime stories around the propane fire (there was a fire ban on while we were there)[/caption]

The nights were late, the girls would be up in the tent giggling (or fighting) until 9:30 or 10, but I expected that to happen camping with kids. We brought along some new sand toys (thanks to my Mom!) that they could play with at the beach and in our campsite as well. We brought their Puddle Jumpers that they loved floating around with in the lake. Lily even floated on her back for the first time which is something they said she had to work on in her last set of swimming lessons.

They’re both learning to ride their bikes. Lily has a strider bike and Maggie has training wheels, so we took their bikes along as well. They rode them a bit (Lily more than Maggie). Pete took them for a bike ride one afternoon. About 5 minutes later they came back. The girls were running ahead and there came Pete carrying both bikes! Needless to say, it wasn’t the best bike ride!

Some of my fondest childhood memories are of my family camping trips. My Dad used to get 2 weeks off every summer and we’d pack up the tent trailer and head out on the road! Sometimes we went to just one spot for 2 weeks, but usually we’d do a bit of a road trip and spend a night or two at any given campsite. The smell of campfires and lazy days on the beach, those were the best!

My husband grew up in Ontario and his family owned a cottage on a lake. They spent weeks there in the summer. I know he loved it, that cottage holds a special place in his heart. He talks about it often. Needless to say, we really want our girls to have these great memories and experiences. Our dream is to get a tent trailer or travel trailer so we can sleep up off the ground and have somewhere to go if it’s raining that’s a bit more comfortable than a tent. One day…

I learned a lot from my Mom when I was little about getting ready for a camping trip. She was a master packer and she is probably the most organized person I have every known. The organization trait must have skipped me, but the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree when it comes to packing! I’ve traveled enough with just a back pack (Mexico, Europe) to get things to fit just right! I’ve also moved enough (Fun fact: between 2003-2013 I moved 8 times- twice across the country) to consider myself a pretty good packer.

So, I’ve compiled an Ultimate Family Camping list of all the things I bring along to go camping. I have a tote that I store things in year round. I have plates, bowls, cutlery and pots and pans dedicated to camping so I don’t have to pack up my everyday stuff. It makes getting ready super easy. I just grab my tote and throw it in the back of the van along with our food and other essentials and we’re on our way (well, it’s never quite that easy, but this takes out a lot of the hassle!) I feel like this list has helped me so much, I want to share it with you all! Click below to get your very own FREE printable PDF of the Ultimate Family Camping Checklist.

Click here for a PDF of my Ultimate Family Camping Checklist
Click here for your PDF

Surviving the First 5 Years of Marriage

My hubby and I just celebrated our 5 year anniversary on July 13th (Friday the 13th this year!) It was so lovely. We (I should say he) got a sitter and made dinner reservations for us at Greek Islands here in Abbotsford. If you are lucky enough to live in the Fraser Valley of BC, you’ve GOT to check out this restaurant! There are 4 locations (2 in Abbotsford, 1 in Chilliwack and 1 in Surrey) The food and service are AMAZING! (I have no affiliation with them, it’s just a great place to eat!)

Most amazing and fun day of my life!!

Anyway, I know 5 years isn’t an eternity, but here are some tips on surviving the first 5 years of marriage!

1- Communicate

Even if it means you’re going to start a fight sometimes. You need to say things to get them off your chest or you will just stew and stew about them. Tell your spouse what you are up to in the next few days. Take the time to just talk. It’s so important to keep open lines of communication. I can tell when my husband and I haven’t seen much of each other in a while (sometimes we go a few days between because of our work schedules) because our communication just isn’t where it should or could be. Which leads to me my next tip!

2- Make time to spend with each other

We try to make it a priority to go out (just the two of us) at least once every 2 months. My brother and sister in law worked out an agreement with us to watch each others kids so we can do this. We babysit their kids and they babysit ours. It’s worked out really well and given us the much needed time to reconnect. The past few weeks have been crazy with Pete and my work schedules. Pete’s been doing a lot of overtime and my teaching is always at night, so we don’t overlap at home much. Even just going out for dinner last night I feel so much more connected to him. We had a chance to talk, just us. It was great!

Wine and dine meal. Make time for each other to survive the first 5 years of marriage

3- Keep the humour

Even though I tease Pete about telling “Bad Dad Jokes” all the time, he still makes me laugh! I love that we can still joke around and I love that we are passing that sense of humour on to our girls. It’s good to not take yourself to seriously sometimes. Life is tough and there is so much that can bog us down, but laughter is so good for the soul!

4- Keep the romance

Sometimes Pete just brings me home flowers or chocolates. I love that. It’s not usually on any specific day, he just does it if he knows I’ve had a rough do or something. I try to leave him little notes here and there, or send him special texts while he is at work to let him know I’m thinking about him. Even in the bedroom, it’s important to keep that spark alive. Some days I am so tired and sex is the last thing on my mind. But after it always makes me feel more connected to Pete again. I’ve challenged myself in the last few months to not say no when he initiates. I know it’s important to him and it’s an important part to a marriage relationship.

Couple about to kiss. Keep the romance alive to survive the first 5 years of marriage

5- Learn to lean on the Lord together

We have been through A LOT in 5 years. We’ve had multiple job changes, including 6 months with neither of us working. An 11 week premature baby and subsequent 69 day hospital stay. We’ve dealt with financial struggles, aging parents, moving to a new city and 2 girls in 14 months. It’s been a little crazy and scary at times. But through it all, we know that God is in charge and we’re learning to trust him each day. This was one of the greatest lessons I learned during our NICU stay (you can read about my thoughts on that here) In the midst of our deepest financial struggles, we had to rely on the Lord to provide for us each and every single day. And He did! I don’t know why it still surprises me when He comes through in the end, He’s been faithful all along after all!

Bible with rings: Learn to lean on God to survive your first 5 years of marriage

I’m no marriage expert, but these are 5 things that I know without a shadow of a doubt makes our relationship stronger. What are somethings you do to keep your marriage alive and growing?

Surviving the First 5 Years of Marriage

30 Fun Facts About Me!!

This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of my links, through no added cost to you, I may receive a small commission. You can read my full disclosure statement here.

I’ve been at this blog thing for about a month now! You guys have been a lot of fun so far! Now it’s time for you guys to get to know me a bit more!! For my first 30 days, here are 30 fun facts about me!

  1.  I am the youngest of 4 (2 sisters and 1 brother)

    30 Fun Facts about Me- My siblings and I
    My siblings and I
  2. My pinkie fingers are extremely short for some reason, they barely come up to the first knuckle on my ring finger (finding gloves is a pain!!!) My sister broke the one on my right hand when I was in grade 6 (we were playing basketball, she grabbed my pinkie, I twisted to get away) so it’s even shorter.
  3. I hate feet… detest them. Keep them far away from me. You know I really love my husband after I had to check out his feet for a medical issue he was having with them. Ewwwwwwwwwww!!
  4. I have sold with 2 Multi-level marketing companies in the past. Steeped Tea Canada and Keep Collective. I’m not much of a sales person, but I enjoyed aspects of each of them. Usually, I end up spending more than I make though, so not too sure how good of a business plan that is!

    30 Fun Facts about Me- My favourite Keep Collective bracelet
    One of my favourite Keep Collective looks
  5. My parents were both conceived in the Netherlands, but only one of them was born there! My Mom’s family immigrated to Canada while my Oma was pregnant with her.
  6. My favourite tea is Earl Grey. I’m a bit of a snob though, I only drink loose leaf tea at home. Tea bags are for emergencies only. There really is a difference to the taste!
  7. My favourite colour to wear is grey (boring, I know)
  8. My favourite colour is green
  9. From 2003-2013 I moved 8 times, I wasn’t in the same place for more than 2 years anywhere
  10. I have traveled to Mexico (twice on Mission trips), the Netherlands, Germany, England, Italy and the Dominican Republic
  11. I love airports… I could spend hours there just watching people
  12. I am a HUGE Vancouver Canucks fan (I was not part of either the 1994 or 2011 riots… those were not fans, they were idiots!) Go Canucks Go!!
  13. I have a 10 year old Yorkie-poo named Winnie. She barks too much and has terrible teeth, but I still love her!

    30 Fun Facts about Me- my puppy Winnie
    My puppy Winnie
  14. My oldest daughter’s due date (December 31, 2014) and my youngest daughter’s birth date (January 2, 2016) are only 1 year and 2 days apart (because of premature births, they are actually 14 months apart)
  15. I met my husband online through Plenty of Fish
  16. I read the Bible and believe what it says to be true. Jesus is the Son of God and died on the cross in our place so we can have a relationship with God. He paid our debt (I have this Bible, but in a smaller version. It fits well in my purse and is easy to take anywhere)
  17. I have a total of 22 Aunts and Uncles. That’s my parents immediate siblings, most of them are married too. Some have unfortunately passed on now, but my Mom is from a family of 11 and my Dad from a family of 13
  18. We like camping in the summer. My family gave us a Coleman 6 person Instant Tent for our engagement gift and it has seriously changed camping for us. My memories of camping when I was little involve a lot of arguing about setting up the tent or tent trailer and taking it down at the end. This tent makes it a breeze and I feel like we get to spend a lot more time relaxing and enjoying camping rather than setting up and taking down
  19. Some of my favourite books include My Sisters Keeper by Jodi Picoult, The Kite Runner by Kahled Hosseini and I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
  20. I like to read books before they come out as movies. 9 times out of 10, the book is way better
  21. 2 of my closest friends I met when I was 7 years old (we’re now 36)

    30 Fun Facts about Me- with my friend Jill
    My friend Jill

    30 Fun Facts about Me- with my friend Sandra
    My friend Sandra
  22. Both of my daughters were born prematurely. Lily was born at 29 weeks gestation and Maggie at 36 weeks.
  23. When I was in high school I could eat an entire bag of Bits and Bites by myself. Our youth group leaders used to get one bag for me and another for everyone else to share.
  24. I played basketball and was a high jumper in track and field all through high school. I qualified for the provincials in both sports when I was in grade 11. Unfortunately, the date of the track and field provincials happened to be the same day my second oldest sister got married. I had to miss it.
  25. I have a certificate in Fitness and Exercise Management, a certificate in Biblical Studies and am a Registered Pharmacy Technician. I’ve done a lot of different jobs so far.
  26. I worked at Cultus Lake Water Park for 3 summers as Water Safety staff while I was in school. That was probably one of my favourite jobs ever (the sandal, short and t-shirt tan was horrible though!)
  27. I love crocheting and have a Facebook page connected with my blog for my crocheting! Check it out here. Craftsy has some fantastic online classes if interested in learning about crocheting. You can find them here.

    30 Fun facts about Me- grey crochet octopus
    Crochet Octopus for Preemies
  28. I’ve been robbed twice while working as a Pharmacy Technician (thank goodness for time delayed safes now!)
  29. I consider myself a Daddy’s little girl
  30. I live with anxiety, mostly social, and depression. I have come through a lot and I say I live with it now because I am living again!

So, there you have it! 30 Fun Facts about me!! What are some fun facts about you? Something not everyone knows about you?

The Lord is My Anchor

I have a cousin who has been going through what I imagine would be hell this past year. She lost her youngest daughter in a car accident last summer. Her grief is palpable, but her faith is inspiring, she is holding on to the Lord as her anchor. She has written through all her range of feelings and emotions and it has been incredible to read. I haven’t asked her permission to share her blog post, so I’ll be keeping her anonymous. However, what she wrote the other day was truly amazing. It was based on the verse from the Bible Hebrews 6:19.

Hebrews 6:19 The Lord is my Anchor
Hebrews 6:19 The Lord is my Anchor

From https://www.bibleref.com/Hebrews/6/Hebrews-6-19.html:

“Just as the anchor which holds a ship is not in the exact same place as the ship itself, our hope is not in this world. Rather, it is in a holier, greater place. Since Christ has gone ahead of us, in order to secure our salvation, we should have absolute confidence.”

I’m thankful my anchor is not in the same place as my boat. My boat gets tossed and turned by the waves of this world. But my anchor is secure with Christ in heaven.

Love,

Caroline

[social_warfare]