7 Simple Prayers to Make Your Marriage Great

7 Simple Prayers to Make Your Marriage Great

7 Specific Prayers to Make Your Marriage Great

  1. “Make me a blessing to my spouse in my actions and words.” (James 1:22)
  2. “Help me pull back from my routine to focus on what is important.” Romans 12:2
  3. “Let me respect him in all that I say and do.” (Ephesians 5:33)
  4. “Teach me not to rely on my own strength but to always rely on you.” (Proverbs 3:5)
  5. “Help me to know and be known by my spouse.” (1 Peter 4:8)
  6. “I want to be open, honest, and kind as we talk about important areas of our relationship.” (Ephesians 4:2-3)
  7. “Help me not to forget that you are writing our romance every day.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

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Happy Habits for Every Couple available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble!

The Day I Quit Motherhood by Jenny Lee Sulpizio

The Day I Quit Motherhood by Jenny Lee Sulpizio

The Day I Quit Motherhood by Jenny Lee Sulpizio

I quit!

Before I knew it, these two words had flown from my mouth and the reason was simple: it had been one of those mornings. You know the kind. The type of morning where the kids overslept, fights over the bathroom ensued, and the packing of lunches had yet to take place. It was the kind of morning where the dog had peed (all over), where the toilet clogged, and my attempts at breakfast had indeed, gone up in flames.

And it wasn’t even 7:30 yet.

So I quit. I gave up. I shouted to the whole house: to the kids, the dog, and anything within earshot, that I was done. In retirement. On sabbatical. Officially F-I-N-I-S-H-E-D with motherhood.

And it felt good (for a minute). Freeing even. That is until I saw my kids. The look upon their faces let me know how wrong I’d been…and how hurtful my little public act of defiance really was.  Worse of all?  This Christian mama wasn’t showing them Jesus. Not one bit. I wasn’t emoting the kind of unconditional love I consistently receive (like, on a daily basis). Rather, my frustration—my weariness—was taking over.

Isn’t this what happens so much of the time though? You and me? Sometimes we don’t always exude the love of Christ. Not to our kids, our spouses, our loved ones or our friends. I struggle with that…with my imperfections…with knowing that due to my actions, the people I love the most don’t always see Jesus in (and through) me. That I am in fact, human…flawed.

But you know what, friend? Motherhood is hard. However, Jesus is there for us in the middle of our trials. He’s there for it all and through it all.

So on those days where life takes over, where tempers flare, and kids are unruly, instead of giving up or breaking down, do one (or all) of the following:

  1. Pray: Open that Bible. Read what God has to say. A little bit of quiet time goes a long way on those difficult days and in those hard moments. Ask for strength…for help.
  1. Give Grace: You’re not perfect. No one is. Give yourself some grace during those times when nothing seems to be going right. Jesus already has.
  1. Surrender. The journey of motherhood isn’t easy but our greatest blessings often come with difficult challenges. Friend, your best is all anyone can ask for. Surrender the frustration(s). Breathe. Rest. Give it to God.

JLS-Author2After many failed attempts at following God’s cues, Jenny Lee Sulpizio has but one goal in mind these days: encouraging women to set their sights on God, and away from the worldly mayhem distracting them. As a Christian mom, wife, author, and contributing blogger to numerous online sites, Jenny looks to inspire her readers to a state of action and a place of peace.

She resides in Arizona with her husband and three children. Connect with Jenny online at www.jennyleesulpizio.com where you’ll find her blog, Grace for the Journey.

 

Jenny is giving away two copies of her book For the Love of God: A Woman’s Guide to Finding Faith and Getting Grace.

Please leave a comment below answering this question for a chance to win:

Moms, has there ever been a day–a moment–where you wanted to call it quits?

10 Ways to Stay Miserable Today

10 Ways to Stay Miserable Today

10 Ways to Stay Miserable Today

“I wonder if I can take you out to coffee and pick your brain about writing.”

I get this request at least once a week. (Now I’m thinking if I saved them all up, I could get coffee for free for a month… Picture me twirling the end of my villain mustache with one hand and holding a venti latte with the other.)

I normally turn these requests down. Everything you need to know about writing a book can be found online. Then you need to join a writers group and then go to a conference. I don’t know any other shortcuts. Really. But this was a sister of a dear friend, so of course I said yes.

“I’m writing a book, and I’m just so frustrated with the publishing industry.”

And as she told me all the problems she was having with the book, I asked questions and suggested solutions:

“Why not hire an editor to go over your manuscript?” I asked.

“It’s not ready for anyone else to see!” She shot back.

“You’ve been working on this book for four years. Maybe it’s time to set it aside for a month. Go play with your kids! Get away for a day to Monterey with your husband! Do some normal life!”

“I can’t. Not until this book is sold.”

This woman was not stuck in circumstances. She was stuck in a prison of her own thoughts.

Over the past several weeks, I’ve run into some pretty miserable people. They can’t change their lives, their families are not doing what they want. They keep trying harder and harder, but nothing ever gets better.

At first, I feel sympathy. I get it. It’s so hard to be stuck in a situations that you don’t have a lot of control over. A job loss, a kid crisis, a relationship issue – these are all scary thing that can shut us down for a time.

But circumstances eventually change. Where most of us are stuck is in our own dangerous, limited thinking.

I like to remind myself of the bullies that Cheri Gregory and I talk about in The Cure for the Perfect Life – 12 Ways to Stop Trying Harder and Start Living Braver. When I catch myself saying one of these bad thoughts, I try to capture it as soon as possible and replace it with truth.

Here are a few truths to replace the lies:

When You Tell Yourself…

  1. “If I want something done right, I’m gonna have to do it myself.”

Replace it with… “It is not all up to me. I can trust other people with their jobs, and I’ll do the best to my ability.”

  1. “If I can’t do it right, I won’t do it at all.”

Replace it with… “Perfect is for people who never get anything done. I’d rather do it 90% right than not at all.”

  1. “I don’t do angry.”

Replace it with… “It’s okay to get angry when things upset me or when some kind of injustice has been done. I can be angry and not act wrongly on that anger. Expressing my anger in a calm manner can help me not to become too stressed.”

  1. “No fun until my work is done.”

Replace it with… “It’s okay to take breaks when I’m working. Sometimes I need a break to clear my mind and refresh myself. Then the job will be done even better when I get back to it.”

  1. “I’ll rest when I am dead.”

Replace it with… “If I don’t get proper rest, I might be dead sooner than I think. I can’t accomplish everything I want to in one day, and I certainly can’t accomplish it without rest.”

  1. “I am what I do.”

Replace it with… “I am not defined by my career and areas of service. I am a person with emotions and thoughts and desires, and it’s okay to be me.”

  1. “I can’t throw it away; I might need it someday.”

Replace it with… “It’s okay to let go of things that I’m not using, especially if they are taking up valuable space in my home. It’s okay to get rid of relationships that aren’t beneficial to me because I am worth more than that and something better will come along.”

  1. “I work better under pressure.”

Replace it with… “I can work better when I start a project early and give myself plenty of time to work out the kinks and get it right.”

  1. “I got myself into this mess, so I have to get myself out.”

Replace it with… “It’s okay to admit that I need help. I am not Superwoman, and I don’t have to know the answers to everything. I will take a deep breath and reach out to someone who can help.”

  1. “No is a dirty word.”

Replace it with… “It’s okay to say no. I can’t do everything. Healthy boundaries will make me a healthier person.”

Which of these lies do you struggle with the most?

 

CureForThePerfectLife

 

Want more tools for replacing faulty thinking with truth?

The Cure for the Perfect Life

 

West Coast Christian Writers Conference this Friday!

West Coast Christian Writers Conference this Friday!

The first-ever West Coast Christian Writers Conference starts Friday in Fremont, California, where I am the keynote speaker!

Whether you’re writing fiction or non-fiction, the place where your experience intersects with fearless storytelling is where you and the reader finally connect. Join me on an inspirational journey to fearlessly put the writer’s heart on the reader’s page.

Walk-in registrants are welcome. The walk-in fee is $149, and you can either bring your own (Saturday) lunch or grab a bite at a nearby restaurant.

For more information: http://westcoastchristianwriters.com  ?#?WCCWriters

 

5 Ways You Can Win the Clutter War (Without Feeling Totally Overwhelmed)

5 Ways You Can Win the Clutter War (Without Feeling Totally Overwhelmed)

 

5 Ways to Win the Clutter Free War (Without Feeling Overwhelmed) by Cheri Gregory

Many of you resonated with last Monday’s “When Facing Your Clutter Feels Too Overwhelming.”

• “This blog post is so me and I didn’t even know it. I am getting ready to move and it is totally debilitating. I can’t do a thing because I get so overwhelmed!” – Kelly

• “It’s Monday morning and I have clutter and I’m escaping to FB instead of dealing with my issues… this hit home for me in so many ways you couldn’t imagine. Thank you!” – Barbara

• “Can I just tell you that I LOVE you! I am going to print out your post today and frame it (and I shared it with my readers too!). You are a blessing Girl!” – Kimberlee

 

What Awareness and an HSP Plan Look Like in Action

Today, five members of Kathi’s Clutter Free launch team are here to share with you their real-life examples of what works for them as HSPs.

Notice how each woman has (1) awareness of her own needs and (2) a specific plan to meet them so she stays out of the “OVERWHELMED ZONE”!

Luna Leverett

When I was sixteen, my boyfriend bought me a real rabbit fur jacket. I lived in San Jose, California where it was too warm for me to wear the jacket.

But I could not let it go. I felt soooo badly for the rabbits that gave their lives. It took me nearly twenty years to give that jacket away. Why? Holding on to it wasn’t reviving the rabbits!

Whatever I feel, I FEEL in a BIG way. In this case, I had extreme emotions towards an item I’d been given. I felt unnecessary guilt and responsiblity.

To help me let go of things sooner, I’m learning to quesiton: “Did I ask for this?” If the answer is “no,” I’m free to let go.

 

Tabitha Dumas

As a Highly Sensitive Person, I have a hard time deciding what to keep and what to get rid of. Every item carries with it a memory, emotion, or attachment.

To make it easier to part with my stuff, I’m focusing on the “why” behind our decluttering efforts: to make more room for what matters most.

So now when I’m making a “keep or toss” decision, I ask myself, “Will this item get me closer to what matters most or detract from it?” Immediately, the decision becomes a lot more clear.

 

Pattie Reitz

I have been actively working on managing my stuff in the nine years since our family began our active duty military journey. With semi-frequent moves, decluttering becomes an annual necessity.

For me, getting rid of outgrown children’s clothing and toys is easy.
But getting rid of sentimental items? Far more difficult.

I feel emotional every time I have to go through my belongings. Everything has a feeling and a memory attached. Unread books are unopened treasures. Boxes of notes and cards are my heart on paper.

I’ve learned to only keep the cards and notes that I will reread. I tape them directly in my journal or place them in my encouragement file.

It’s truly a process: one that’s yielding lighter results.

 

Merri Lewis

Shatter! Crash! Bang!

My 9-year-old’s plan to simulate the sound of breaking glass by dumping a bucket of Legos on our tile kitchen floor is highly effective.

The noise makes me jump as the high pitched sounds assault my ears and the association with broken glass push me near panic.

Then my baby girl runs yelling about another outfit she wants to try on. Off come her clothes as she struggles to put it on “ALL BY MYSELF.”

It’s so tempting to collapse on the couch, exhausted from the sensory assault I’ve just experienced. Or open my laptop to Facebook to help me block it all out.

When the household noises get overwhelming, I put on noise canceling headphones or calming music and encourage the kids to play with quiet things.

 

Terri Goehner

“For two years, I had a stack of paperwork sitting on my kitchen counter…always threatening to topple over as I continued to stack up paperwork.

Every time I saw this pile, I felt almost claustrophobic, a sense of paper overload. So one day, I took an afternoon and went through the pile: throwing out, shredding, and filing.

My new habit is to handle paper once, so I file as I go along. In fact, the paper never even makes it to the kitchen counter anymore. It goes straight to the appropriate location: file cabinet or trash or recycle bin.

For the past 1.5 years, I’ve had a clean kitchen counter and peace of mind.

 

Clutter Free Recap:

1. Ask, “Did I ask for this?” If the answer is “no,” feel free to let go!

2. Focus on the “why” behind your decluttering efforts: to make more room for what matters most.

3. Keep only the cards and notes that you will reread. Tape them directly in your journal or place them in an encouragement file.

4. Put on noise canceling headphones or calming music when household noise gets too loud. Encourage the kids to play with quiet things.

5. Handle paper once. Send it straight to the appropriate location: file cabinet or trash or recycle bin.

 

Remember: Every HSP is unique. Start your own lists so you can become aware of what happens for you…and what works for you!

 

Wonder if you, too, might be an HSP?  Subscribe to Cheri’s blog and receive your FREE “HSP–Who, Me?” PDF.

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Are you ready to be Clutter Free? Start the 21-Day Clutter Free challenge! Sign up now!

For Those of Us with “Open Garage Door” Envy, There is Hope with Marci Seither

For Those of Us with “Open Garage Door” Envy, There is Hope with Marci Seither

When people have asked the question: “What is one thing you wish you could change about yourself?”, my first thought, after a slightly faster metabolism, is being organized. When I drive through a neighborhood and see someone’s garage door open with bikes hung from rafter hooks, tools lined up on hangers, and assorted bins of sporting equipment, I have an urge to stop and ask if I could take a selfie in front of it…just to fanaticize about what my world would look like if a magic cleaning fairy waved her magic squeegee in my direction.

Organized people don’t use saran wrap on their Tupperware, only to find a stack of lids in some random craft box three moves later…after the said Tupperware has been used as a pet dish and eventually tossed.

MARCI IMG_0045

One time, I bought a huge three-ring “everything you could ever need to know about being organized” binder. It was obviously written by someone who made Martha, from the Bible, look like a total slacker. The book was full of master copies addressing everything from running a B & B out of your bonus room to keeping track of your child’s fluoride treatments, and the care and nurture of beekeeping. The big selling point was that it came with “a money back guarantee”! If the book didn’t organize my life within a year, I could return it for a full refund or a voucher for home school craft supplies and a pound of fair trade coffee beans.

With hope and enthusiasm, I took out all the relevant pages. I knew once I got everything copied and began the task of filling all the sheets out I would be able to keep track of EVERYTHING! The one thing I hadn’t planed on was having to keep track of all the papers that were now no longer confined to a binder. I lost them. Gone. At the end of the year, not only was I still disorganized, I couldn’t send my half empty book in for a refund. Something needed to change. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to be organized; I just was too busy to take the time I needed to really de-clutter and clean beyond the surface. After all, I am a people person who teeters on the edge of being spontaneous. Seriously, we are talking about me. A woman who lost one of her tap shoes and kept the other one for about four years just in case. Just in case what? I run into a one legged tapper who happens to be a size 9?

MARCI IMG_0043This year, I have been reading “Clutter Free” and really understanding that clutter isn’t just something that happens in your house, closets, and under the bed. Clutter can become personal and can cost much more than another filing system. The other day while doing a de-cluttering challenge, I came across a box of random things that had been on the desk, then the table, and finally followed the clutter migratory flight pattern to the far corner of my sewing area. Magazines full of tantalizing recipes, old junk mail, craft supplies, and a small brown paper bag filled the repurposed apple box. I opened the bag and out slipped a simple embossed card. My heart sank. It was a card I had purchased and intended to send to a friend who recently lost her spouse. My clutter and disorganization had spilled over beyond myself. With the card in my hand, I decided that what I have it isn’t about freeing up space in your drawers, but in your life and your heart.

My word for 2015 is BALANCE. It is something I will be talking about for the next twelve months. For now, I am taking it one closet and cupboard at a time and cleaning out the things that do not matter to make room for the things that do. ~ Marci

You can find out more about Marci at her website, and you can also discover her two books, The Adventures of Pearley Monroe and Empty Nest:Strategies To Help Your Kids Take Flight!

Are you ready to be Clutter Free? Start the 21-Day Clutter Free challenge! Sign up now!

 

What I’ll Be Doing While You Stand In Line  to Watch 50 Shades of Grey

What I’ll Be Doing While You Stand In Line to Watch 50 Shades of Grey

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What I’ll Be Doing While You Stand In Line to Watch 50 Shades

A girlfriend told us last week that she’s planning a girl’s night to go watch 50 Shades of Grey with her friends in a few weeks.  And another friend is planning on going to the movie with her husband for their Valentine’s Day night out.

We hope they have a great time.  Really, we do.  But we won’t be going with them.

Because we’ll be at home having sex with our husbands.

We’ll just come right out and say it:  We’re not feeling overly enthused with the entire 50 Shades of Grey phenomenon.   Are these the kind of romantic heroes on which we want to base our love stories?

It doesn’t make sense to us.

We don’t want that for ourselves, but even more, we can’t stand the thought of our daughters believing that 50 Shades of Grey is a modern fairy tale.  And we’re afraid that’s exactly where our culture is headed:  Christian Grey has been elevated to some sort of modern Mr. Darcy and the true romantic heroes of our time—men like our husbands who cherish us and have never demeaned us—are labeled as… boring?

It really doesn’t make sense.

But we don’t have to let it make sense.  We can stand up and say that we don’t want Anastasia and Christian to be our romantic example.  Not when we have so many better examples—examples of men and women who have chosen to love each other fully, to never demean, to never demoralize, to keep sex as a wonderful, intimate gift that always builds, always protects, always loves.

We want that kind of love.

Not boring.  Not prude.  Not a vanilla-missionary-between-the-sheets-every-Friday-at-eight type.  But a love full of passion, full of romance.  The kind of love that dances in the living room naked to the Bee-Jees at 8’o clock on a Tuesday. I want us to kiss often and laugh even more. I want to make our kids say “EWWW!” when we make out while in the minivan. I want us to try new things, to get to know each other, to keep each other guessing, to have a red hot sex life that knows no bounds other than to keep each other fully engaged.  And to show each other that we are fully loved.

That’s what we want.  For ourselves and for our daughters and their future husbands.  And for all of our friends who want the same things.

Which is why we wrote our book series, Hot Mama.  We want sex to be a good thing—no, an amazing thing—and we want the Christian women in America to have the tools and inspiration to make it everything it can be.

And it’s also why we’ve come up with an alternative to watching 50 Shades of Grey.  We’re calling it the 50 Shades Movie Challenge.  It’s pretty simple:  While women across America are standing in rainy lines outside of theaters on February 14th waiting to watch 50 Shades of Grey, you will be at home having sex. Because why watch two people having sex when you can actually have sex with your husband?

Will you join us?

If so, feel free to grab one of the images from this post and post it on your Facebook page along with an explanation as to why you will be doing what you’re doing.  (As if you need an explanation to have hot sex with your husband.)  Let’s start a new revolution.  And make marriages in America hotter.

PLUS, to help make this challenge even easier, we’ll be giving away 10 copies of our new e-Book, 10 Ideas to Inspire Red Hot Sex, to 10 people who share this post on their Facebook pages.  Just share the link to your Facebook post in the comments on this blog and you’ll be entered to win.  Good luck!

 

Becoming Clutter Free with Sharon Paavola

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Clutter Free and Me

You know Linus and his blanket from the Charlie Brown cartoons, right? Well, there’s Sharon and her clutter, okay? As a little girl I was challenged with all my dolls and accessories. I shared a room with my older sister who did not do clutter. Every Saturday was clean your room day. What an ordeal for me! It continued on into college. Spaces were getting smaller and I was collecting more “things”. My dad was amazed at my ability to pack it all into the trunk to go home each spring. As I married and had children it became like a snowball rolling down the hill increasing in size and multiplying.

I recall a friend visiting for a playgroup, who commented on how messy our dressers were. She never returned. I felt shame realizing not everyone lived like I did. There were neat people. How could I become one?

Over thirty-five years have gone by since that day. The ebb and flow of clutter remains… on my mind constantly, always like a foreboding storm. My friend, Kathi Lipp has written a book for people like me. She understands that shame, that forever overwhelming feeling, and the energy-zapping demon of clutter.

“The problem is that clutter can become so overwhelming that to try and attack even a little of it can feel defeating. So instead, you give up and live in the piles.

Sharon P 3Clutter never lets you settle on one thing. There is too much distraction, too much stop and start; too much ‘I’ll get to it when I can.’

It shames us. It steals our joy. It makes us exhausted. It brings up bad memories. It keeps you guilty…

Clutter keeps talking to us, weighing us down, and keeps us from living the life we were designed to live.”

She gets me. But then she offers words of hope:

Sharon P 2“In the next several chapters, we’re going to talk about how our head keeps us bogged down in clutter – the lies we tell ourselves to keep clutter alive and how we can retrain our mind to stop trusting in stuff to meet our needs.”

Really, Kathi?

I have read several of Kathi’s other books. Most recently The Cure for The Perfect Life and her practical, spiritual, and humorous ways to handle my procrastination worked wonders so why not trust her with my clutter? She invited me to be a part of her book launch and I accepted, willing to be clutter vulnerable with the world.

Clutter Free discusses how to get rid of stuff, how to keep it from coming into my home; and why I keep it, and more.

The chapters on what it is costing me tugged at my heart knowing my clutter keeps me from entertaining, from enjoying my hobbies, and from following God’s plan for my life.

As of today, at least 25o items are gone, most of them trash and some to give away. My mom’s piano and unnecessary items from my remodeled kitchen have found homes.

Freedom, peace…HOPE

Sharon P

Sharon Paavola

Sharon writes about hope, healing, and God’s love along with book reviews.

Purchase Clutter Free – Quick and Easy Steps to Simplifying Your Space on Amazon or Barnes & Noble now!