Wednesday, August 26, 2015

18 Years

Today my husband and I celebrate 18 years of marriage and 19 years of being together. The years have flown by. I deeply love my man.

According to statistics, we should not have made it to this number. According to the world's standards, we should not be married to each other anymore. Jeremy and I married very young. We had children right away. We have faced hardships that tear many couples apart.

One-third of young marriages end in divorce within five years. One-half of young marriages end in divorce within ten years. Thirty-six percent of all marriages end in divorce. And the way of the world now is if your marriage is too hard, walk away. It's okay. Marriage is throw away.

A couple of years ago I heard a woman say that she wasn't sure she wanted to marry her husband, but she figured "why not, if it doesn't work out it is fine, we will just get a divorce." And recently a woman -who has been married for more than twenty years- told me she had a back up plan in case her marriage didn't work out. And yet another woman told me she wanted to tattoo her last name on her body, but decided not to in case one day they divorce. Marriage is not taken serious and it breaks my heart.

So why did my marriage make it to 18 years? Are we special? No. We are not special. And our marriage has not been easy. It has been difficult. We have faced many trials from deep financial issues to trust issues to major health crisis' with our children. It has been a long, bumpy road. And we still have a long way to go.

10 Keys to #Marriage

But this is what we have discovered over the past 18 years...
  1. Pray daily for your marriage and your mate.
  2. Pray daily with your mate. {If your husband is not a believer or will just not pray with you, just continue to pray for him on your own. God will work and honor your prayers.}
  3. Say 'I love you' every single day.
  4. Never say the word divorce. Just don't put it out there. Ever.
  5. Date. It doesn't matter how long you have been married, date each other.
  6. Never stop pursuing each other. Remember the things you did for him when you were dating; the sweet love notes, wearing his favorite color, wearing a perfume he liked, winking at him, all of those things that made him melt into a pool of jello, do them.
  7. Never talk bad about your mate to anyone, ever. Speak positive words about him.
  8. Thank him. Notice the things he does and thank him for them. From the little things, like putting his dish in the sink, to the big things like going to work every day.
  9. When you argue, and you will, take time to cool off if necessary. Don't go to each other in anger and say and do things you will later regret. Cool off, pray, then go calmly to discuss what needs to be discussed.
  10. When he is upset or hurting, really listen to what is bothering him. If you are the root of that, pray and ask God to help you in this area. {and let's face it ladies, we will be the root from time to time, just like he will be the root of our troubles from time to time.}
It won't always be easy. God never promised us that life would be easy, marriage is no exception. But we need to persevere. We need to daily to choose to love our mate. 

We don't have to be a statistic. We don't have to let our marriage end in divorce. And we don't have to live in an unhappy marriage. Dedicate your marriage to God and choose love. 

The past 19 years have been an amazing adventure and I look forward to the many, many more to come. Jeremy, you are my treasure and my best friend. I love you babe!

What is your best marriage advice? Comment below and share with us what helps you and your spouse.

A few of the marriage resources we love:
Love Dare {check out our series here}
Power of a Praying Wife {check out our series here}
The 5 Love Languages

**This post is a repost from a Woman to Woman Ministries Marriage Monday post that I did in 2013. To see the original post, click here.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

God's Good News {Giveaway}

Today I am thrilled to share a Bible storybook with you. But not just any Bible storybook. This one includes devotions from Billy Graham!

Billy Graham has brought the Good News of Christ to millions. I've heard countless people share of coming to Christ under Billy's teachings. It's no surprise that he now has a devotional for our little ones.

God's Good News has beautiful illustrations your child will love and includes over 60 Bible stories. This is a great book to share with your children and grandchildren.

To enter to win God's Good News complete each task in the rafflecopter below.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Blessings of Another Year

#eucharisteo, #joydare, #thanksgiving, #thankfulness, #1000gifts,

Continuing to count God's sweet blessings...

1845. My amazing husband. This week we celebrate 18 years of marriage and 19 years of being together. I love him!

1846. My wonderful Papa who celebrates his birthday this week.

1847. Watching my kids host their own garage sale and do all of the work.

1848. Sunday naps after a lot of late nights last week. 

1849. My 15 year old son helping his 14 year old sister study for her driver's permit test without being asked.

What are you praising God for? I love rejoicing with you. Please comment below.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

A Little R&R Right Here At Home

Life has been really busy the past few weeks. I feel like I'm always saying that. How about you?

We thought the month of July was going to be our "off" month. Nothing to do except church twice a week, the rest of the time would be spent relaxing and going to bed on time every night. Wrong. July ended up being just as busy as the kids' sports seasons.

Now, mid-August, my daughter just started volleyball season and she has a job. Her job has her working until 9:45 some nights and she doesn't get home from volleyball until after 9 on volleyball nights. Hard for this 'early to bed, early to rise' mama. My husband and I have temporarily taken on another ministry at church while that pastor takes a much needed break. My husband has been working Saturdays lately, which has him working his secular job 6 days a week in addition to full time ministry. I'm babysitting 3 precious nephews and niece, all under 16 months. Homeschool has started back up. Orthodontist appointments. The list just goes on and on.

None of my responsibilities and tasks are bad. In fact, they are all great, great things. My husband and I love all of it.

My family's beach vacation/family reunion is coming up soon and with all of the busyness, I feel like I am living for the beach. Every day I say if I can just make it 2 more months, then if I can just make it 1 more month, and if I can just make it a few more weeks, I'll be okay. If I can just get there, I'll survive.

One day this week as I was driving late at night to pick up my daughter from work, I felt the tears sting the back of my eyes. Tears of being tired. Tears of pain (I had fallen in the garage earlier that day). Tears of knowing my housework is piling up because of my busyness. Tears of needing to sit down and relax a few minutes. Tears of just wanting to be at the beach.

It was then that God nudged my spirit. He reminded me that I don't need the beach to find peace. I don't need the sound of the waves or the smell of the salty air to find comfort. He reminded me in that moment that He is there. While I may long for the beach, I can find comfort right here at home. Comfort in the arms of the Father. Comfort that is right here at home.

Be still and know I am God.
Psalm 46:10

When I feel the ache of wanting to be in my far away place or feel the tears of pain and exhaustion, I can turn to the Father and find comfort. He is my comfort, He is my secret place. All I have to do is turn my troubles over to Him and praise His name. In this, He brings a sweet peace that we know can only come from Him.

Whatever you are facing, if it's sickness, exhaustion, trials, whatever it may be, turn to the Father. Lay your head on His chest and let Him hold you as He brings you comfort.

Linking with:
Woman to Woman's Word Filled Wednesday

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Bible Belles

Today I am so excited to share Bible Belles with you! Bible Belles is a brand new collection of books for young girls that shares 5 superhero women of the Bible.

Our girls are faced with so many negative influences in this life. Why not lead them to a good, godly influence? To do that, we can go straight to the Word of God. Bible Belles does just that.

Each book features Rooney. In book one, after facing some mean girls, Rooney is visited by an angel. This angel, Mari, shares the story of Hannah, who is the Belle of prayer.

I want to introduce you to the creator and writer of Bible Belles, Erin Weideman. Erin is an enthusiastic and goofy mom to two children, one of them with paws. She is a wife, teacher, former college athlete, and a five time cancer survivor. Her heart is in Seville, Spain, though she calls Encinitas, CA home. In her spare time she enjoys going to the beach with her husband and daughter, coaching sports, and pretending she can bake. She loves eating, laughing, and volunteering at Sunday school. Alongside her husband, she is the co-founder of Bible Belles.

Here's a little Q&A with Erin!
When did you realize you wanted to do something to benefit girls today?
My desire to go to bat (softball pun!) for girls comes from a lot of different places. Growing up, a lot of the time I felt insecure and out of place. I constantly measured myself against other girls. I didn’t realize how common those feelings were because I didn’t talk to anyone about them. I thought I had to put up a confident front, so I pretended I had it all together. I hid my true feelings by being loud, controlling of others, and acting overly self-assured. Today, these same qualities are celebrated in the media and society as what makes a beautiful and successful young woman. A lot of women in the spotlight are glamorized for having a “me-first” attitude without respecting themselves or others. There are a lot of wonderful role models out there for girls, but they are overshadowed and outshined by the negative ones. My passion for connecting girls with biblical heroes comes from a desire for them to see examples of real women whose inner beauty was used by God for a mighty purpose.
Why did you decide to write this series?
In 2007 I was 26, and I was diagnosed with cancer. The disease was extensive, and the road to recovery was terrifying and unknown. Like the “tough” girl I was, I put my head down and tried to handle the emotional weight of it on my own. I thought that I was being strong by not leaning on anyone,  but I suddenly realized that I couldn’t get through it alone. I had walked away from God years earlier, but I had finally hit my breaking point.
Since that time, the cancer has come back again and again and again. Four more times, and I’m still here. I know it is because God has called me to battle back against the feelings of insecurity, self-doubt, and judgment that affect so many young girls. They need to know that they are wonderfully made, that they are loved, and that their lives are worth much more than at times they will think.
Cancer was a complete shock to me, but it was the best blessing. It was the beginningof the softening of my heart. After that, God kept the surprises coming. I met my husband, we were married, and now we have a daughter. A miracle baby. Being a mother was something I had convinced myself was impossible because of my history, but God’s plans were bigger and better than I ever imagined.The struggle to be perfect and to have it all together will be as real for my daughter as it was for me. How will she learn what real beauty is and feel secure and confident in her own skin? How can I teach her what she needs to know so she can become who she is meant to be? I don’t want to lose my girl to this world and what it will tell her. I want to doing something that will connect her and other girls with real heroes so they can learn their own value and carry it with them for the rest of their lives.
To read the whole story of how it all began, click here.
Tell us about Bible Belles. The first book being released is based on the story of Hannah. What other women are you highlighting in the series?
Bible Belles is a series based on five superhero women of the Bible: Hannah, Esther, Abigail, Ruth, and Deborah. HEARD. These women were extraordinary because they made a different kind of noise than the noise of today’s world. Today, the girls who are loud, rude, and obsessed with outer beauty are the ones a lot of girls look up to and try to act like. The Bible Belles series is a new way for girls to celebrate the qualities that make up a truly beautiful woman: prayer, patience, bravery, loyalty, and leadership. These five women represent the journey a young girl can take to understand God’s love and to be someone whose beauty isn’t measured by society’s standards. They symbolize the transformation of a girl who learns to see true beauty in herself and in others.
The series is framed by our fictional main character: Rooney Cruz. She’s a modern day girl who struggles with regular problems. In each story, she has an “up close and personal” interaction with each Bible Belle by looking in on her life and then applying what she learns to her own. This allows the reader to understand the personal connection between biblical teaching and meaningful application to her own life.
Why is it important for you to help girls make a connection to heroes in the Bible and to the heroes in their own hearts?
There’s no question that the stories of women are not the ones predominantly taught in church, and this extends into children’s ministry programs and Sunday School as well. There is a missing relationship between young girls and the female heroes of the Bible. Girls are in desperate need of positive female role models, and telling these stories in a new way will allow girls to make real connections to the love God has for each of them and the powers they have been gifted in order to live lives in real love and with real purpose.
I think about my own daughter. Growing up, I struggled to find my own identity, and I made a lot of mistakes searching for it in the wrong places. I want to be able to help and support her as she grows into her own mind and discovers her heart and the person she was created to be.
Is there anything else out there like Bible Belles for girls ages 6-10?
The majority of books available today that focus on biblical women are compilations of most or every woman found in the Bible. These titles provide a solid overview of these women, their lives, and their lessons as a third person narrative. However, these women deserve their own, individual stories to be told, to be lifted up and celebrated for who they were and how God used them. For a young girl, making a real-life connection to a story requires a genuine emotional investment. Bible Belles uses the framework of conventional storytelling as well as the historical biblical narrative to create a way for young readers to experience each story, not simply hear it.  
How did you find your illustrator for Bible Belles?
Our illustrator is Rob Corley. We were introduced to Rob by another fellow children’s author, the fabulous Amy Parker. Rob and Amy had worked together on Firebird, the featured book in the movie Unconditional. Rob is a former Disney Feature Animator whose resume includes work on such films as Beauty & The Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King, Pocahontas, Mulan, Lilo & Stitch and more. When Rob joined us, we were thrilled. He is amazingly talented, and his beautiful artistry has helped us to create a series of the highest artistic quality.  
When can we expect the next book in the series to release?
The second book in the Bible Belles series, Esther: The Belle of Patience, is set to release in 2016.

The Story of Bible Belles from Bible Belles on Vimeo.

If you have a daughter, granddaughter or niece, check out Bible Belles! This collection will soon become her favorite!

Check out Bible Belles on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest!