Mother’s Day Gifts That Really Matter (A Gift Giving Guide for Dads)

Mother’s Day Gifts That Really Matter

Every year my husband asks me what I want Mother’s Day. And every year I have the hardest time coming up with an answer.

I don’t necessarily “want” or “need” anything. I feel so grateful everyday to have the opportunity to raise these little humans and do it alongside such a wonderful man. But it got me thinking about what Mother’s Day gifts really matter.

Related: 10 Books That Transformed Our Marriage

If I could have one thing, what would it be? This question got me thinking about what refreshes me, and what makes me a better mama. I also asked some fellow mamas what they would want. Here’s a list of what I, and many other mamas, are wanting this Mother’s day. And for those on a strict budget, most of these are FREE!

  • A nap. Now, I know this seems like an easy one. But it’s going to take some planning. We cannot take a nap if we can hear the children. We love them, but we don’t want to hear them. So taking them outside or even on a little adventure would be perfect. Two hours would be ideal.
  • A FULL day off. When you’re a mom raising toddlers, you are never really at rest during the day. They are all-consuming and we’re keeping them alive, so they require a lot of attention. What would be AMAZING is a full day off. A day when the kids are taken care of all day long, and we get to do whatever we want. When we can get a break from all the responsibilities of taking care of our family and household, then we can really relax.
  • Weekend getaway. Or date night. Whatever fits your budget. But here’s the deal dads, YOU have to plan it. It takes so much stress off of us when you plan the date or the getaway. If you can take care of setting up childcare, we would be forever grateful. Also, extra bonus points if you can keep this a surprise.

Related: 5 Steps To Creating A Budget

  • Maid Service. I love taking care of my family. A big part of that includes keeping a clean home. Deep cleaning can be a daunting task when you have toddlers, and takes a lot of strategy to make it happen. If it’s one visit from a maid, or a yearly service, anything would be appreciated!
  • Pampering. A massage, a pedicure, a facial. All of these would be included in the pampering category.
  • Uninterrupted sleep. Do you have a baby that doesn’t sleep through the night? As much as we don’t mind getting up with those babies, an uninterrupted nights sleep would be a dream come true. Offer to take the night shift and let your wife sleep. If the baby is still nursing and won’t take a bottle, you may need to just offer a nap instead.
  • A handmade gift. Some of my favorite gifts are the ones my husband made with the kids. It’s because it takes a lot of effort to do that. Sentimental things like that mean the world to us. Get your Pinterest scroll on and see what you can make!

Mother's Day Thumbprint Art Painted Flower PotsMother's Day Special Plate CraftMother's Day Footprint Butterfly Flower Pot

There are a lot of options there, and I think I speak for most moms when I say, the meaningful gifts are our favorite. While a new purse or outfit would be great, it’s not what we’re going to remember. We’ll remember the handprint craft you made and the special moments you created. It warms our heart to know that you really wanted to make our day special.

Related: What does the Bible say about Self-Care?

This will forever hang in our house. We have backyard chickens and my husband used his and our daughter’s handprint to make chickens. Out of all the Mother’s Day gifts, this one meant the most.

Mother's Day Chicken Handprint Craft

So remember, a day full of pampering would be amazing. But what pulls at our mama heart strings are the meaningful, well thought out gifts. We are constantly thinking of you and the kids, and what you all need. It feels so good to be thought of as well. And make sure you tell us that you appreciate us, that one will be the icing on the cake!

 

How to Pray for your Husband

How to Pray for Your Husband

Our husbands need our prayers! This week I challenge you to focus on one prayer a day. There is so much power in our prayers. Our spouse is the most important person in our lives, and they deserve a few prayerful minutes of our day. Let’s dive into how to pray for you husband!

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Day 1: Pray for peace in his heart. You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” Isaiah 26:3. Our husbands tend to feel a lot of weight on their shoulders. They want to provide financially, emotionally, spiritually and they want to lead our families well. Sometimes this can cause a lack of peace, and more of worry. Something we can pray is for our husband to have peace, even in trying times. Pray that they are so grounded in God’s word that when the stresses fall on them, they know that they are not alone in handling them. Pray for peace and comfort in his heart. 

Day 2. Pray for his confidence and self-esteem. “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Ephesians 4:29. We need to be his number one fan. Being an encourager goes so far when it comes to men. They need to know that we are for them, and we believe in them. They could receive all the encouragement in the world from other people, but what matters most is how we encourage them. Instead of focusing on what he’s struggling with, remind him of what he is doing well. Pray that he feels encouraged and confident in his abilities and who he is in Christ.

Day 3. Pray for his relationship with God. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6. Pray that your husband is submitting to the Lord. Ask that he is not relying on his own understanding, but turning to God for help when he needs it most. Pray that your husband’s relationship with God is growing and thriving. Pray that he is seeking the Lord and longing for him so that he can lead your family well. 

Day 4. Pray that he would have a heart for his children. Children are a heritage from the Lordoffspring a reward from him.” Psalm 127:3. Oh those babies, how we love them! Pray that your husband would have a heart for them as well. Pray that he’ll go the extra mile to make them feel special. Pray that he is filled with joy throughout the playful moments and even through the tough ones. Kids have a funny way of showing us love, pray that they will tenderly show Daddy how much they really love him.

Day 5. Pray for your husband to succeed in his work. Put God in charge of your work, then what you’ve planned will take place.” Proverbs 16:3. Pray that he will succeed, not just financially, but pray for your husband to feel as if he is fulfilling is purpose. Or figuring out what his purpose is. Pray that he feels respected and encouraged in his work environment. Pray that God would place a hedge of protection around him so that no physical, emotional or spiritual harm will come to him. Our husbands often base their worth off of how well they are performing at their job. Pray for him to succeed according to his own goals. Help him reach them, help him turn his dreams into a reality.

Day 6. Pray that you can show your husband unconditional respect. “Nevertheless, each husband is to love and protect his own wife as if she were his very heart, and each wife is to respect her own husband.” Ephesians 5:33. If you choose only one prayer for your husband, let it be this one. Our husbands need to be respected more than anything else. Pray that you can respect him with your words. Our words are so powerful, let them build your husband up instead of tear him down. Respect him in the way you speak of him. Speak highly of him. I have another post on why this is so important, you can read it here. Our husbands need to feel respected just as much as we need to feel loved. Pray that you can respect him even when he hasn’t earned it. Respect him like you want to be loved.

Day 7: Pray for your husband to love you unconditionally. “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Ephesians 5:25. Pray for your husband to lean on God’s word and love you unconditionally, even when you don’t deserve it. Talk through the issues that arise in your marriage. Pray together. Seek help when needed. Reach out to your spouse to see what he needs or how you can help him. All of these things will help you love and respect each other more.

Here are some resources that I highly recommend:

Thanks for being here, let me know if there’s anything we can add to the list of how we can pray for our husbands!

An Open Letter to my Husband From Your Stay-At-Home-Wife

To my husband,

Thank you for giving the kids a bath, even when you feel like you have nothing left to give at the end of the day.

When we are wrangling kids and trying to get out the house and you say, “What can I do to help?” Thank you for that.

I am constantly needed throughout the day. When you come home and see that the house is a hot mess – instead of saying, “What did you do all day?” You start picking things up and putting things away. That is what I need. That is what our family needs. Thank you.

I can’t tell you how much it means when you say, “Go take a break, I’ve got the kids.” It is very difficult for me to say “I need a break” when I know you’ve had a long day too. Words cannot express how much I need you to say it.

Thank you for loving me, even at my worst. I try so hard, so stinkin’ hard to do this mom and wife thing well. When I fail, I appreciate you being there as a helping hand, rather than being disappointed in me.

The kids are dying to spend time with you. Thank you for prioritizing time with each one of them. And thank you for treating them like the gifts that they are, rather than a bother.

Thank you for listening when the kids tell you about their day, even if you have no idea what they are saying. Thank you for being excited with them.

Please know that I don’t need much, I just need to know that you appreciate me too. Thank you for letting me know that I am doing a good job. It keeps me going.

Thank you for doing the dishes. When I hear that you’re doing them and I didn’t even have to ask you to do them, I get those same butterflies you gave me when we first met.

Thank you for not letting your job stop when you are done working. And thank you for understanding that just because I’m not away at a job everyday, I am working very hard.

Thank you for showing our kids that I am first, and they are second.

Thank you for leading us in prayer throughout the day. And thank you for showing our kids what it means for you to love me like Christ loves the church. You are setting the standard for their future spouses.

Thank you for loving me so well, day in and day out.

Thank you for supporting my dreams.

Thank you for hearing me, really hearing me when I need it most.

Nothing makes me happier than watching you play with our kids. Thank you for being a horsey, helicopter and every Disney character under the sun to put a smile on their face.

Thank you for being an honest man. A hardworking man. And a godly man.

Thank you for going along with my crazy ideas – like going camping for two nights with two toddlers. It’s going to be fun, I just know it.

Thank you for making me feel beautiful, when we both know I’m on day three of dry shampoo and sweatpants are my jam.


I love you more today than yesterday, but not as much as tomorrow.

– Your stay at home wife

Pictures c/o Lindsey Cassidy Photography

The Best Marriage Advice We Ever Received

When my husband and I were in premarital counseling, our counselor gave us some advice that definitely helped our marriage get started on the right foot. We were given many resources on starting a healthy marriage, keeping each other first, among other great advice. But one thing that stood out to me the most was this: “Only speak highly of your spouse.” 

I know some of you are cringing, but hear me out. When we first got married I thought, well I’ve got this one in the bag. I would never speak poorly of my husband because he is the most amazing person to ever live and I get to marry him! Right? Totally my train of thought. It’s very easy to say what we will and won’t do in marriage until we’re actually… married.

I found myself at times going to complain about something my husband had done or ask another wife if her husband struggled with something similar. It’s only natural for us to want to voice those things. Now, there’s a difference in saying, “His snoring keeps me up all night,” and “I am so tired of picking up after him.” The snoring is something he can’t control. Picking up after himself is something he can control. I told myself if it is something that he can control, then he should be the one I’m talking to about it. If I ran to my girlfriend and complained about him not picking up after himself, who would that benefit? No one. If our husbands don’t know that what they are doing bothers us, how can they fix it? I quickly realized that they cannot read our minds… unfortunately. We have to communicate… over-communicate.

My husband and I both agreed to make this a priority in our marriage. We have both slipped up at times, but for the most part this rings true. What comes out of our mouth is an overflow of what’s in our heart. My heart is for my husband, my words need to be as well.

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When I feel myself getting frustrated or bothered by something my husband is doing I ask myself a few questions:

  • Does he know this bothers me? 
  • Is it something he can control?
  • Is it something I need to let go? 
  • Is it worth bringing up? 

If he doesn’t know it bothers me, I try to kindly and respectively say something. That way he is aware, and I’m not letting it build up and continue to bother me. If he does already know that it bothers me, I speak up. I like to call them “friendly reminders.” If it’s out of his control, I try to adjust. If it’s something that will continue to bother me if I don’t say anything? Then yes, I will bring it up. If it’s something silly that can easily be let go, I try my best to let it go.

There are things in marriage that I will want to complain about. I try to turn that focus to what my spouse is doing well rather than complain about what bothers me. What a great feeling for your spouse – to know that you are only speaking highly of them. We all have our faults, but our spouse should always have our back and our best interest in mind.

We are not perfect at this by any means, but the more aware I am of how I am speaking about my spouse has saved me many times. I never want to put my spouse in a negative light or put him down to others. We are a team and we are called to build each other up.

I do this in hope that he is doing the same for me. I put myself in my spouse’s shoes. Would I want him complaining about me to others? No. I would rather him come to me with whatever is bothering him so we can tackle it together.

Check out this post to see a list of our top ten favorite marriage books!

Let me know if this is something that you try to do or something you’re working on! I’d love to hear from you. Comment below! 

 

*This is a general overview or how speaking highly of your spouse can be beneficial for your marriage. There are definitely times when something needs to be said. This post is in no way referring to abuse situations.

4 Ways to Stay Connected In-between the Date Nights…

Date nights. I think we can all agree that they are from the Lord. There are all kinds of date nights – the few and far between, the monthly, the weekly, the bi-weekly. Whatever your date night of choice is –  we know that they are sacred. Adults of small children love to spend uninterrupted time together. We have gone through seasons of weekly date nights, and then we’ve had moments when we say, “we should probably go on a date night since it’s been a little over three months.” We’ll set a schedule and then life happens and date nights get put on the back burner. Right now we are doing twice a month date nights. It’s working out well. It definitely gives us something to look forward to. But what about the time in-between date nights? How are we getting quality time in? I find myself craving time with my husband, but have a hard time making it a priority.

Let me just say that this time is precious. These moments with our littles are fleeting. And I know it is flying by. But I think something that we should also be talking about is the everyday struggle of focusing on your spouse in the midst of parenting babies and/or toddlers. They are all consuming. Spending focused time with your spouse can be difficult at times. What if the kids don’t nap at the same time? What if they’ve given up napping altogether? What if you are so exhausted by the end of the day that you can barely keep your eyes open to focus on your spouse?

I ask these questions because we are in the throes of it. We have a one year old and a three year old. Spending time with my husband is something I desire, but feel like I fail at often. To be honest, I’ve deeply struggled with keeping my husband first in the midst of all-consuming toddlers. I want to give him the best of me, but there are days when I feel like there’s nothing left. I’ve prayed through this, and reached out to others but haven’t gotten any solid answers. Pinterest even left me feeling disappointed. Which can only mean one thing – it’s time to get creative.

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1. Couch Time – Allie Cassazza (http://alliecasazza.com/) talks about this on her podcast. She and her husband spend time together at the end of the day and just catch up. We are trying to incorporate this into our everyday. We want to have just a few minutes to sit on the couch together and try to connect. We talk about how we’re doing and bring up anything that may have been on our heart throughout the day. We pull out an activity for the girls (1 & 3 years old) that we know will keep them busy for at least a few minutes so we can have this time. Ideally we would have this type of conversation before bed, but we are both so exhausted at that time and want to give each other as much focused time as possible.

2. Daily Devotional – Whether you have time with your spouse in the morning, evening, or during the day – a daily devotional will change the game. These devotionals will start the conversation for you, so there’s no pressure to figure out what you’re going to talk about. We are currently going through The Love Dare Day by Day. It’s wonderful!

3. Car Ride – Depending on the age of your kids, a car ride might just be the perfect time to spend time together. We have taken advantage of this many times. After the babies get past the “I hate the car seat and nothing will make it better” phase, it can definitely work. Coloring books are usually involved. Oh and side note –  Color Wonder books will change your life. They have markers that only write on the page of the coloring book. These people are geniuses. Snacks are also a winner in our book. It’ll give us at lease 10 minutes. If we are feeling a little out of sorts or that we just simply aren’t connected, we will take a car ride. It’s good to get out of your house and in a different environment for a little while, even if it’s a short conversation. It’ll be focused time to reconnect.

4. The Nap Time Quickie – Like a quick(ie) conversation. Sheesh, it’s not that kind of blog. But listen, it can be whatever you want it to be. Let’s just keep it to ourselves. If the stars align and your children nap at the same time and your husband is home – do not pass up this opportunity. I will say it again – stop what you are doing and go find your husband. There will always, ALWAYS be something to do. I am so guilty of not wanting to deviate from the to-do list. But in these times of being parents to small children, you have to jump at these opportunities. I never regret putting everything else aside to spend time with my husband.

It took a while to figure all of this out, and we’re still figuring it out! Is there anything you do with your spouse everyday? Anything that helps connect you quickly instead of waiting for a date night? Let me know in the comments below! 

10 Marriage Books That Transformed Our Marriage

10 Marriage Books That Transformed Our Marriage

My husband and I wouldn’t be where we are today without the wisdom and knowledge of others. Each one of these marriage books has been instrumental in shaping who we are as a married couple. Between premarital counseling and these resources – we have been able to develop a strong foundation that has prepared us for very difficult times in our marriage.

If you have any questions about the books listed below, please let me know and I’d be happy to answer them to the best of my ability. They are in no particular order, but here are 10 books that transformed our marriage!

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1.  Love & Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs – This is the most instrumental tool for learning about the main difference between the needs of men and the needs of women. It is completely Bible based, and thoroughly explains why men need unconditional respect and women need unconditional love. It has helped us meet each other’s deepest needs in our marriage! 

2. The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller – We actually read this book during our premarital counseling and it was really eye-opening. It helped us dig deeper and ask the questions we needed to ask. This book highlights the importance of having a deep friendship with your spouse. It also gives basic instruction on how to have a successful marriage. Great read for sure!

3. Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas – The main message of this book is that marriage is more about making you holy, rather than happy. Yes, happiness is a result, but not the ultimate goal. It gives practical tools that you can use to immediately start making improvements in your marriage. It has helped us love God and love others well.

 

4. The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman – I’m sure you’ve heard of this one! It’s one of the most popular relationship books out there. It is all about how we give and receive love. It will be a huge eye opener!

5. Wife After God by Jennifer Smith – This is a 30 day devotional focused on bringing you closer to your husband and to God. It definitely did that for me. It helped me take a closer look at how I viewed God and how I viewed and treated my husband. I highly recommend it! Jennifer’s husband also wrote a book called Husband After God , that aims to motivate and challenge men to draw closer to God and to their wife.

              

6. For Women Only and For Men Only by Shaunti Feldhahn – My husband and I actually read these on a road trip when we were engaged. We were heading to see my family and had a ten hour drive ahead of us – so we decided to make the most of it. We actually read these out loud to each other. I read For Women Only which talks all about what we need to know about the inner lives of men. My mind was blown, I remember I kept asking him, “Really? Is that true? Do you really feel that way in certain situations?” And vice versa, he read For Men Only to me. It was great for our relationship and really helped get us talking about what matters.

                  

7. The Mingling of Souls by Matt Chandler – This is a great book all around, but we found it was especially focused on the dating/engaged phase. Matt Chandler helps us understand that this thing called love isn’t all about our emotions. We cannot let our emotions rule us, but rather we need to focus on what God’s Word says about love an intimacy.

8. The Love Dare Day by Day: A Year of Devotions for Couples by Stephen and Alex Kendrick – What better way to stay on top of your marriage than a devotional? The Love Dare is meant to challenge you and your spouse to grow deeper to each other and to the Lord. It has 52 weekly dares and a daily time of reading, prayer and action. Such a great practical book!

9. Saving Your Marriage Before it Starts by Dr. Les and Leslie Parrott – This is another one we read prior to getting married. But it has also helped us after being married. The principles are focused on things you should ask before, during and after marriage. I suggest getting the workbooks that go along with it as well! This book is perfect for those who are engaged or in the newlywed phase!

10. Couples Devotional Bible, NIV by Zondervan – This one is probably our most used book. We were gifted this at our wedding and I am forever thankful! It is a full Bible, but has devotionals throughout it. I love how each devotion corresponds with scripture. And it’s special for my husband and I to have a Bible that belongs to both of us. The only thing I wish is that we utilized it more. We love it!

 

Why we Got Married FAST!

I met my husband about five years ago. I was 25 at the time. At this point I had just bought two dogs because I figured I’d be single for the rest of my life. And dogs fix everything. Anyway, he was walking out of church in his Guy Harvey shirt, looking all cute and rocking a country accent (swoon!). It was a quick conversation where we introduced ourselves and went our own way. Shortly after that, he asked me to join him for coffee. And y’all, that was it. A few hours into the conversation and I could barely listen because I kept thinking: I’m going to marry this guy. It’s no Hallmark movie, but to me, it felt like one.

Here’s how it all went down. I prayed and prayed and prayed for God to bring me a godly man. I desired so deeply to be a wife and a mom. After years of praying this and no answer, I decided to switch things up. I stopped praying for that. I started praying for God to lead me in the direction He wants me to go, single or not. I stopped worrying about dating. I stopped searching. I think I needed to get to that point of contentment, and I’m so glad I let God take the reigns and direct my steps.

It turns out my husband was in a similar place in life. He was over the dating scene, but desired so badly to get married and start a family. He also had a “come to Jesus” moment and stopped letting his life revolve around finding someone to marry.

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At this point in my life, I was working night shift as a registered nurse. So sleep during the day was very precious to me. I was living in a condo, and my neighbor was blasting her music. She was an older woman that was heavily involved in her church, so I was caught off guard. When I knocked on her door to see if she could turn it down, I realized she was jamming out to worship music. JAMMING. Of course she felt awful but we laughed about it and I headed back. A few seconds later she knocked on the door. She told me she really feels like I should come to her church; she said there was someone she thought I should meet. I was already attending another church, but told her I would try to make it on a Wednesday night. I was very hesitant, because I had just gotten to a good place. No more heartbreak was granted. BUT, I decided to go because y’all, this woman is a praying woman. She hears from the Lord often. I had to do what she suggested.

After that coffee date (which by the way lasted 4 hours), I just knew I was going to marry him. After going through the hurt of so many relationships not working out, I was very hesitant to let my mind go there. So I guarded my heart and prayed my way through it. I kept telling myself to think with my head, not with my heart.

The following day, I looked up into one of the lights in my condo and see a bat. A BAT PEOPLE. I called my brother, my knight in shining armor at the time and asked him to come get it. His response: “Didn’t you just meet with that guy last night? See if he can come get it.” Thanks brother. So I reluctantly texted Kevin, and asked if he had a net. He came right over and saved the day. Again, not a Hallmark movie – but pretty close.

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To sum it up – we both knew that this is why God had us waiting. Nothing else worked out because it wasn’t supposed to work out. Two months after our first date, Kevin proposed. Five months after that we got married. Seven months total from our first date to wedding day. Being that we were a little older, we didn’t get a lot of backlash. My dad had quite a few questions… but that was to be expected. We knew God was in it, and we didn’t want to wait. Our theory was, if we know we are going to get married, what are we waiting for?

We gave ourselves time to go through pre-marital counseling (praise the Lord for that). We read marriage books and made ourselves talk about the hard things. We prepared as best as we could and committed to keep Christ at the center of our relationship.

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Everyone’s experience is different. For us, there was no reason to wait. We had both committed to save ourselves for marriage, and I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t part of it. This was a big part of it. We wanted to stay pure and waiting any longer would’ve been very, very difficult. Heck, it still was difficult!

We have been married for a little over four years, and I would do it the same way all over again. We didn’t know every little detail about each other, and we’re still learning those things. But we’re learning them together. We’re there for each other every step of the way. I am so glad we didn’t wait until all the kinks were worked out to get married. We run into new kinks every day, but there is something beautiful about that. We are on this journey together, learning and loving each other along the way.

Thanks for listening to our story, I would love to hear yours! Did you get married quick or take your time? And why? 

 

Photography by Heidi Mitchell Photography