It’s a Thursday night and you just invited a friend over for dinner later this weekend.
You’re excited to reconnect and share a meal — until you get a text from this friend: “Hey, just wanted to let you know that I am now a vegan. Hope this won’t be a problem!”
Your heart sinks and anxiety kicks in. What will I make? None of my dishes fit this diet.
Accommodating dietary needs
Does accommodating a dinner guest with dietary restrictions overwhelm you?
Is there a friend whom you’ve avoided inviting over for dinner out of fear that you won’t have a meal that will be both enjoyable and fit his or her diet?
As a gluten intolerant person, I get it. When I first cut gluten out of my diet it really frustrated my friends, family, and me.
(In case you haven’t heard … some gluten free items taste a little like chewing on cardboard. Here’s a list of my favorite go-to gluten free products that I always have in stock.)
At first I created a Pinterest board and started cooking new meals from scratch using special gluten recipes.
Over time however, after adding a few staples to my cooking supplies, I discovered a loophole that made cooking for my diet a breeze!
One Small Win: Rather than making an entirely new dish from scratch, create dishes you already love and modify only the ingredients that don’t fit the diet.
Let’s pretend your signature meal is some kind of pasta dish with meat sauce, but your guest is a vegetarian.
You can make the dish as usual, but leave the meat sauce on the side. You can also make an additional, meat-free sauce and have it on the side, giving your guest options.
Maybe your guest eats meat, but is gluten intolerant? Use certified gluten free pasta instead, and research your other ingredients to see if any of those need replacing.
Here is a worksheet to make this process easier if you are a visual planner like me!
Remember, if all else fails, ask your guest if he or she has any meal recommendations or if specific ingredients will be a problem.
Asking doesn’t make you look dumb; on the contrary, it shows that you care!
Your dinner guest will feel loved and cared for with your efforts and consideration.
Kelsee Keitel is a graduate student, writer and speaker, living in Indianapolis, IN, with her newlywed husband. She is passionate about cultivating sisterhood through vulnerability and introducing young women to the freedom and abundance of life in following Christ. When Kelsee is not snuggled up with a book and sipping tea, she can be found experimenting in the kitchen or chatting with her mom.
You can read more about Kelsee’s ministry, Detangled & Free, over at kelseekeitel.com or connect with her on Instagram and Facebook.
Valentine’s Day wreaks havoc on a girl with unrealistic expectations. I know. I’ve been there.
My husband, Mike, set the bar very high during our whirlwind courtship, fairytale wedding, and over-the-top honeymoon. He pursued me like a glass of cold water in the middle of a desert. He spoiled me with gifts and sent huge bouquets to my work (too big to fit on my desk!) He was a man on a mission. I felt loved and valued.
So, when we got married, I expected him to continue to pursue me with the same fervor he showed while dating.
Before you laugh, I felt justified in that expectation since he promised to pursue me in his wedding vows.
We were both naive to think we could pour into our marriage the same level of energy we had before the wedding. I brought an adorable daughter into our marriage (my second), and we added two more children to the mix in the first three years. Mike went from single to married father of three almost overnight.
Add to that a job change and a move and you can see how his focus necessarily changed. Any reasonable person might have given her husband a bit of slack in the area of creating romance. I can’t always claim that title.
I held on to my expectations, creating a bar too high for Mike to clear.
And little by little, the romance faded.
I wanted (expected) him to initiate dates with me and go all-out for birthdays and holidays. One of my top “love languages” is gifts. My expectations made it hard for him to feel confident in buying gifts. He thought it wouldn’t be enough (and, in all honesty, he might’ve been right). I expected thoughtful gifts that reflected his love for me and that showed he really knows my heart. (No pressure, right?)
Mike’s love language is acts of service. He’ll do anything for me: chores, filling the gas tank, he’ll even go grocery shopping. If it can be checked off a list, he’s happy to do it.
That’s all wonderful, but what I really wanted was to know that he still loved me as much as he did when we dated, when he expressed his love in ways that flooded my heart with joy. All his acts of service just weren’t doing that for me.
My expectation kept me from enjoying him in the present
Every time Valentine’s Day rolled around (or any other special occasion), my expectations soared and were dashed.
I knew Mike had it in him to shower me with romance and create a memorable day, but he didn’t. My disappointment festered.
Then, after a lot of pain and struggle, I laid down my “right” to be pursued and dated, and began to accept the husband God gave me.
Now, anything he does – a gift, a date, holding my hand on a walk, or simply cuddling on the couch to watch the latest installment of Victoria — I express my gratitude to him. More than that, I feel gratitude toward him. It’s a great place to be.
And you know what happened? He started exceeding my expectations!
If you have unrealistic expectations this Valentine’s Day, here’s what you can do:
1. Let your husband off the hook. He’s already proven his love to you. Let him know he doesn’t have to vault over the high bar of your expectations anymore.
2. Shower him with gratitude. If your husband gives you a Valentine’s Day gift or card, let him know you appreciate it. If he doesn’t, pick something else to express gratitude for. Focus on what he brings to the marriage.
3. Accept your reality. Celebrate Valentine’s Day in a way that works for you, your unique marriage and your season in life.
Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to look like a Hallmark movie – or even a Hallmark commercial – to be special. Celebrate the man God gave you, not the fantasy of who you think he should be. Celebrate your love free of unrealistic expectations and I promise you’ll have more fun!
Elizabeth M. Thompson is an inspirational writer and speaker who helps women lead Scripture-based, Spirit-graced lives. She lives in Gold River, CA, with her family and enjoys kayaking and walking along the American River with her two adventurous dogs. Connect with her at www.elizabethmthompson.com
I have an overwhelmed heart. It’s not because my calendar is crammed full of responsibilities, social gatherings or obligations though.
I’m overwhelmed with the mundane.
• Overwhelmed with two toddlers who need my attention for what feels like every minute of the day.
• Overwhelmed that the moment all the laundry gets folded and put away it’s time to start all over.
• Overwhelmed by the dishes that never seem to be done. The day-in-and-day-out responsibilities never end.
And it makes me weary.
This is a unique sense of being overwhelmed, one less talked about. But it is a reality for all.
Sometimes I feel guilty for feeling undone by the mundane. I mean, mundane is better than a crisis, right? Of course. Yes.
But our feelings – of being overwhelmed from the day-to-day grind – are still valid. It’s real and a daily struggle for many of us. So what do we do with our beat-down hearts?
Undone by the mundane
We engage our minds to bolster our hearts.
Philippians 4:8 tells us to think on things that are true, lovely, excellent and praiseworthy. So, what if in the middle of unloading the dishwasher for the umpteenth time this week, we think about what is praiseworthy about getting to unload a full dishwasher?
For example, as I’m putting away dishes, I praise Jesus for the simple fact that I have dishes to put away. Also, a dishwasher full of dishes is an indication that we ate well that week and no one is hungry.
Or when I’m folding my kids’ laundry that only seems to multiply, I think about what’s lovely about all of those clothes. My kids have never been in want for clothes that fit. They have warm clothes when it’s cold and cool clothes when it’s hot.
Shifting our mind to think on these things places a new song in our heart. It’s one of gratitude, awareness and renewal. In doing so, gradually the mundane begins to melt away, and you feel overwhelmed in a completely new way. You’re overwhelmed with thankfulness.
This isn’t an easy practice to start, I know. It’s hard when our hearts are tired. But it is worth it, friend!
Pick one mundane activity this week, something you despise even and consider Philippians 4:8 in light of that activity. How can you turn your mind toward things that are true and pure about that activity to bolster your heart?
Try it for one week with one activity, and I promise you will see change in your mundane.
(As for me, I have linens to move from the washer to the dryer. I’m choosing to think about how wonderful it is to have fresh-smelling bed sheets.)
One Small Win: Identify one activity this week you dread and begin thinking about what is pure, lovely or admirable about that activity. Then, pay attention to how God begins changing your heart toward that mundane act!
Kate Hollimon delights in helping women learn their God-given purpose while growing in Christ through the study of scripture. Kate is a speaker and blogger who designed the Live Your Purpose Workshop Live Your Purpose Workshop to help women discover their purpose to glorify God. Kate is married to her husband Matthew of seven years and together they have two kiddos – a boy and a girl – and are in the thick of sippy cups, potty training, temper tantrums and peanut butter and jellies. You can connect with Kate at www.katehollimon.com.
Too often when I crawl into bed I realize that the day has brought little (if any) emotional connection with my husband.
I might be living and married to this man, but I often wish I had more quality time with him.
I realize I miss him. I miss us.
Busy lives and families
Families today are busier now than ever before. It’s common for both parents to work full-time jobs outside of the home, and many of us report feeling stressed, tired, and rushed (New York Times)*. Whether we’re working inside the house or outside of the house, the busyness of life leaves couples feeling more like friends than intimate partners.
Consider our leisure time. According to my own informal survey, though couples spend time ‘together,’ women often report time spent on electronic devices steals precious time and causes them to feel disconnected from their spouse.
Couples experience shoulder-to-shoulder time, but lack face-to-face time.
Reconnecting with your husband
So, what is one thing you can do when you miss your husband? Incorporate daily ‘couch time’ with your husband.
One Small Win: ‘Couch time’ is 15 minutes of uninterrupted conversation time.
And while ‘couch time’ doesn’t have to be on the couch, choose a place where you can preferably sit across from one another and away from distractions.
Determine the time and place it will take place.
- Right after dinner?
- Before leaving for work?
- Face Time over your lunch break?
- Set your alarm 15 minutes early to chat in bed before getting ready for the day?
- Sit down at the table as soon as you are both home?
And yes, this even goes for those of us with young children! Prime your kiddos for this special time by telling them, “Mom and Dad will be visiting for 15 minutes. When we are done, then we’ll be happy to help.
It doesn’t take long to connect with your husband. It does take intention.
Imagine catching up with your husband about your day. Sitting down and truly listening to each other. Filling your husband in on that funny story or frustrating situation. Talking about the next day and what you each have going on.
Don’t wait. Chat with your husband about couch time today. Plan it, and enjoy your special time together.
* Miller, Claire, C. “Stressed, Tired, Rushed: A Portrait Of The Modern Family.” The New York Times. November, 2015. www.nytimes.com. Web. 14 Dec. 2016.
Amanda Davison is on a mission to share how her education in counseling and God’s word changed her marriage. She is sure to share personal, laugh-out-loud moments, which are woven with challenging yet inviting perspective change.
As a Speaker and Wife Coach, she tackles topics such as: becoming a confident wife, handling the real frustrations as wives, knowing and owning our high call as wives, and obedience. She wants to hear from you and hopes you will join with her on the journey of learning to love God’s people well. Learn more about Amanda at www.amandadavison.com.
When I was pregnant with my third child, my doctor put me on bed rest for eleven weeks because I went into preterm labor. I was overwhelmed—to say the least. I was allowed once daily trips down and up the stairs, and a shower every other day.
Everything I did happened in bed—except sleep! Because who can sleep after lying around all day? Oh, and the medicine they give you to prevent labor is actually a stimulant, which doesn’t help. (C’mon people, this is modern America, can’t we do better?)
Overwhelmed became my middle name
That time was scary and frustrating, and I needed LOTS of help taking care of my then four and two-year-old babies, and my poor overwhelmed hubby, who could barely keep his head above water, despite the help we received.
What I learned during those weeks, and subsequently, as I endured four back surgeries in six years, is that when a person is facing overwhelm like never before, there is one thing they crave: normalcy.
During the last few weeks before my due date, my doctor released me to go on one outing a day. So one Wednesday, I chose to go to swimming lessons with my kids.
Previous to my forced bed rest, I dreaded those hectic afternoons—hurried, sweating bullets in the tropical temps of the indoor pool, trying to get unruly toddlers to comply. Sadly when I was fully healthy and able, I often wished those afternoons away.
But when I couldn’t do my regular chaotic life, oh, how I wished for normal.
My mother-in-law (a godsend) stepped in for swim lesson day. She wrangled my littles into car seats, wrestled them into swimsuits, drenched herself during the post-swimming shower routine, and somehow managed to get their sticky, wet limbs stuck back into dry clothes.
For any woman who does this on a regular basis, you know this is a heroic feat!
And all this was done for one purpose: so that I could have a dose of normalcy in the midst of my overwhelmed life. So I could watch my tiny people do their big kid kicks, get splashed, and sit in a wobbly, uncomfortable, plastic chair at the side of the pool.
But really, so I could have small dash of normal in the midst of my overwhelmed life.
A few hours of normalcy is one of the biggest blessings I received in those bed rest and back surgery days. If you want to be a friend who loves well in times of hardship, consider giving the gift of normal.
How to help a friend who’s overwhelmed
Here’s a few ways to help create normalcy:
• Take them to Target or the mall (even if they need the wheelchair)
• Go to the movies (recliner seat theaters are perfect for infirm friends)
• Go out to coffee
• Offer to accompany them to their kids’ events (you do all the “heavy lifting” if needed)
• Help with their household tasks like laundry, dishes, cleaning so they can focus their energy on time with family.
One Small Win: Call a friend who’s experiencing a hard time (illness, stress, loss of a loved one, cancer, infertility, divorce, etc.) and offer to do one of these “normal” things with her!
For more practical ways to support those you care about in the rough patches of life, you can pick up a copy of Sarah Beckman’s, Alongside: A Practical Guide for Loving Your Neighbor in their Time of Trial, which releases February 14, 2017.
Sarah Beckman is an author and speaker, living in Albuquerque, NM, with her husband, Craig, of 24 years. They have three delightful children ages 15, 17, and 20. Her experience on both sides of the “bed”—both being helped and helping others—provide her authentic viewpoint for her book, Alongside. When she’s not writing or speaking, you might find her in the kitchen creating something to share with a “neighbor” in need.
Her passion for loving her neighbor has fueled her life and ministry for over 10 years, giving her the opportunity to address audiences across the country. She has a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and also works as a communications coach and corporate trainer.
“Never stop dating your spouse.” It’s one of the top pieces of advice newlyweds get. But years later, with kids and bills piling up, it’s much easier said than done. How to date your husband isn’t as impossible as it feels!
Often, after paying the orthodontist, the mortgage, and the grocery bill, there’s not a lot left over for fancy dinners and movie tickets. Not to mention childcare.
These days, my husband and I aim to have at least one monthly night out, but with four kids it hasn’t always been easy to make those date nights happen. Early in our marriage, we had to really get creative.
We knew we wanted to be consistent with our dates, but we weren’t always able to afford a night out. So we decided to have fun nights IN.
How to date your husband
Here are some inexpensive ideas for dating your spouse without having to leave the house:
1. Make dinner together. Tuck the kids into bed and then get out your fancy dishes and make something delicious. In our family, my husband is often my sous chef. He’ll do the chopping, slicing or shredding, and I put ingredients together.
Adding some romantic tunes and a little dancing while things simmer can make your evening feel like a party. Plus, it’s a great opportunity to get creative and have some real “grown-up” food. Try a new recipe or an old favorite. No matter what you choose, the idea is to spend time together and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Bon appetit!
2. Plan a game night. Games don’t have to be just for kids. Board games, card games or even a Wii bowling tournament can set the stage for a fun night of playful competition. Our favorites are Scrabble and Bananagrams. Add a few of your favorite snacks (that you don’t have to share with the kids). If you’re extra competitive, think of a little incentive. Maybe the winner gets a foot rub or the loser has to do the dishes.
3. Form a private book club. If you’re bookworms like my husband and I, it’s fun to select a book you both want to read. It can be a book on marriage or just an interesting novel. Then, set aside some time to discuss. It’s a fun way to connect, share thoughts and ideas, and maybe even learn some new things about each other. Set the mood by adding candles (or a fire in the fireplace if you have one), and your favorite beverage.
4. Spice up movie night. Maybe you already do movie nights together. That’s a pretty easy way to have a date, but consider making it a little bit more . . . sexy. How about dressing up in that little black dress he loves? Or maybe dressing down (as in fewer clothes) and leaving room for a little makeout session. Re-watching an old favorite might be a good idea in case you miss some of the movie action (while making of some of your own).
One Small Win: Creating intentional “date nights” doesn’t have to put a big dent in your bank account, but it will have a lasting positive effect on your marriage.
Zohary Ross is a life coach, speaker and author of the Aligned Parenting Workbook. Zohary is passionate about encouraging and equipping women to have clearly defined “most importants” and live out their values and priorities. Connect with Zohary at http://zoharyross.com/.