Thursday, July 30, 2015

5 Things I've Learned in My First Year of Marriage

We've been married for a year now, and I can hardly believe it. Sure, we've settled into some routines, but "whirlwind" still feels like a good way to describe the past twelve months. I've learned a lot of lessons. Here are five, in no particular order.

1. A smile and a hug at the end of the work day can make all the difference.

This may sound a bit "June Cleaver" to you, but I've found time and time again that our evenings start off on the right foot if I'm able to welcome my husband home with a smile and a hug. Maybe it's for him, but it's definitely for me, too. After spending a whole day by myself, I need that warmth and physical contact. It's become my habit and seems to work for us, so I encourage you to give it a try for yourself.

2. Food is a really big deal.

Living on a newlywed budget can make this hard sometimes, but healthy, full meals are a really big deal. Both my husband and I experience that not-so-lovely emotion known as "hangry" but more often than not, after a good dinner, we return to our normally pleasant selves. I've made an effort over the last year to prepare meals that I know will be a hit, and to my surprise, I've only burned dinner once! That's a story of its own which I may share some day when I don't feel like crying about it.

3. Winter can be hard.

Perhaps its because the honeymoon phase was wearing off, or perhaps it was because I found out I was unexpectedly pregnant only five months into marriage, but let me warn you anyway: winter can be hard. Those long months of reduced sunlight, days on end of snow storms and freezing cold temperatures make any winter something I endure rather than enjoy, but this past season felt harder than others. I found myself fighting a battle against first trimester nausea and exhaustion, spending many days and evenings bound to my couch or in bed, all the while struggling with my emotions about being pregnant. I know I failed to be a helpful and supportive wife a lot during those months, and it weighed heavily on me. Thankfully, the season changed, the sun came out, and my second trimester brought energy and health. My husband was my rock through it all, even though he too was fighting a battle against winter blues.

4. Always devote time to growing your marriage together.

Just because you're married now, and you get to see this wonderful spouse of yours each day, does not mean your relationship will automatically grow. Make sure you take the time to talk to each other about more than the every day stuff. Go on dates, even if you don't think it's in the budget (this just means you have to work it in!) Dating your spouse makes a big difference in your relationship. I've learned this over the past year, and I'm sure as our family grows, dating each other will become even more important.

Do devotions together. We read the Bible together after every meal. This helps us grow in our understanding of Scripture together and often ends in some interesting discussions. We are also reading a marriage devotional that was given to us at our wedding. It is designed to be read a chapter per week for a year, but we've fallen a few weeks behind due to my next point.

5. A year flies by, especially when your calendar is dictated by field work.

When I said "I do", I became a farmer's wife. My husband loves what he does, and I love to see how happy it makes him -- exhausted, but happy. During the warm months, this means we don't see a lot of each other, so it's a little like being single again. A year flies when you're only with each other part-time! I'm thankful for tractors with buddy seats and especially thankful that I get to at least say good morning and good night to the hardworking man I married.

When I look back over the last year of my life, this first of (Lord willing) many as wife to my Shayne, there are many more lessons I've learned than what I've shared today. It has been a year of ups and downs, but isn't every year? We have grown so much closer as we've navigated this marriage path and I daresay we are more in love each day.

Now, as we prepare to become parents next month, I thank God for allowing me to tackle life with this guy, my very best friend. There's no way I could do it without him. Insert all the heart eyes here!

What are some marriage lessons you could pass on?

Friday, June 19, 2015

Crochet Edged Receiving Blankets

Original Source: Unknown
 For a couple of years now, I've been eyeing crochet edged receiving blankets. The idea was tucked away in the back of my mind as a project for a rainy day, until today - it is literally raining as I type this post, and my idea is on its way to becoming a reality. I hit "purchase" on a skip stitch blade from Amazon this morning! You can practice this technique without a skip stitch blade; however, the outcome is much more consistent with the blade - so I'll wait (im)patiently for the mail man to deliver my blade.

I'm hoping to edge several blankets for my own sweet babe, and maybe stock pile a few as baby shower gifts. (Hint hint: friends, you ought to join me in motherhood......)

Original Source:

And who knows? If I'm feeling ambitious, perhaps I'll make some edged pillowcases while I'm at it!

Original Source:

Have you tried this technique before? Feel free to share your tips!!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

advice to my 23 year old self: And now, a letter to myself.


I have been so blessed by the beautiful words of wisdom expressed over the last two weeks! Thank you, thank you, thank you to all the ladies who participated. I'm humbled by your willingness to work with me on the half-idea which has unfolded before us.

I'll link to each of the contributions at the end of this post, but first, I wanted to share my own little letter to myself.


Dear self,
Today you turn twenty-three. As this is the entirety of your life, it feels like a loooong time. However, take a moment to think on all that God has taught you in these years. Realize that time has a way of ticking on, and embrace each moment to come for they will too quickly pass away.

Remember how ten years ago, you were "finally" a teenager? Ready to tackle the world, and much smarter than your parents? Be thankful that God has taught you of your own insignificance since that day.

Remember all those days spent boasting in your own strength, those selfish pity parties in which you wallowed when life got out of control? Be thankful for the measure of sanctification which God has provided since then. Strive daily to be humble and accept life as God directs it.

Please remember to draw close to God when life hurts. Don't pull away. Since your last birthday, life has had many ups and downs. God has remained faithful. He has taught, corrected, and blessed. Remember this. The same goes for relationships. People may come and go in life, distance may part you - but true friendships last; they are worth the extra effort to keep. They are gifts from God.

Don't store treasure on earth. Literally, because moving stuff takes a lot of work. And mentally, because we are not here to stay.

Sarah, you have a long journey toward completion. God knows how much sin still lives in your life. How much you have yet to surrender to God; how much is yet to be put to death. Do not despair. Fight the good fight of faith, for in doing so, you will draw near unto God and He to you.

Now, get on out there and have a great day - close friends and great music await!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Advice to my 23 year old self: memorize, memorize, and memorize some more

Can I even remember what it was like to feel 23 years old? One thing is for sure; I didn't have the aches and pains that I have now... must have something to do with being a grandma LOL...

At age 23, I was married and the mother of a one year old, living in a tiny house on Elm St. This was a time of maturing as a young mom, wife and Christian. Much of what I had learned as a young adult was being solidified in my mind and heart as I began to mesh the exuberance of youth with the responsibilities of daily life.

29 years later, after many ups and downs, I look back and see the goodness and faithfulness of God toward me, one of his children.

Sarah, if there is one piece of advice I can give you it is this: take time to memorize, memorize and memorize God's Word some more. The older you get, the harder it is to memorize, so do it now while you are young. Memorize key verses, and if you can, memorize also the Westminster Shorter Catechism (which contains clearly and simply laid out doctrines... which I am trying to memorize now). It will stand you in good stead now, as well as later on in life. So keep in God's Word. Read it, study it and memorize it.

I wish you a very happy birthday and may God bless you in the years ahead.


"Aunt" Sandra is another of my adopted Aunts and Uncles from my home church. Many childhood memories include playing alongside her kids. In particular I remember getting sent over to purposely contract chicken pox. Thanks for that, Mom.

Recently, she and "Uncle" Tom moved down to South Carolina for schooling at Greenville Theological Seminary, where I'm sure there is plenty of memorization happening.

Thanks, Aunt Sandra, for your advice!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Advice to my 23 year old self: grace

My 23rd birthday was exactly one month before my wedding day. God had brought a young man into my life, though we lived half the world apart, who was godly and loving, quiet and fun. He was even taller than me and could play piano, my childhood dream come true! After a busy summer renovating, it was great to be able to settle into our new home and into our new life as a married couple.

There are two pieces of advice I would give to my 23 year old self.

First: Contentment.
Second: Grace.

In our first year of marriage we were not blessed with a child. However, most of my married friends at church had a baby that year. We trusted that God would start our family in His good timing, but it was often difficult to see my friends enjoying God’s good gift of children while He withheld that blessing from me for a time. The advice I would give to myself would be "Don’t forget God is good and He works all things together for His good and for my benefit."

We had two wonderful years of marriage before God did bless us with the birth of our first child, a son. Looking back I see what a blessing those years of marriage were for us and our relationship. We were able to devote ourselves fully to our marriage without also learning how to be parents at the same time. 1 Timothy 6:6 "Now godliness with contentment is great gain."

Grace is an amazing thing. Unearned, undeserved favour and kindness! I think the more we learn about grace and see its beauty, the more we know we don’t know. During our first year of marriage we were very involved in our church. It seemed that we could be at church doing something almost every night of the week: Ladies Mission Circle, Bible Studies, Choir practice, Boys & Girls Club, Sunday services, speech nights etc. Why did I do all these things? Perhaps I wanted to grow in grace. Or, perhaps felt obligated to.

Looking back I can see that my motives were not always pure, sometimes they were downright ugly. When we have a view of God that He is constantly looking down from His lofty throne on high checking up on us to see if we are behaving, our actions show it. Often we frantically try to run around ‘serving’ Him. I don’t doubt that I was a believer, but I do know that I wasn’t awed with His grace.

God has taught me much about grace over the last years. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, that I can do that will make me any more pleasing to the Father. The advice I would give to myself about grace is "When God the Father looks at me, He sees Christ’s perfect righteousness covering me and He calls me His beloved daughter!" And that is reason for holy living, serving and learning.

Colossians 3:1-4 -- "If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory."


Amanda was my babysitter growing up. Hard to believe I thought she was sooo ooooold back then but not at all now! :-) I have many memories of "Mandy" coming to "play." Once upon a time we even glued coloured macaroni to paper. 

Thanks for sharing, Amanda!

(PS, Amanda is Jacqui's to have both Mom & Daughter contributing to the series!)

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Advice to my 23 year old self: everything has been given to you from God

A few weeks ago my dear friend and sister in Christ Sarah asked me to write a letter to my 23 year old self. I am honored to be a part of her blog in this way. It has been fun reflecting the last while on what I would write to myself now that I am 48 (yikes!) to myself 25 years ago when I was so young and na├»ve. My husband and I were recently enjoying lunch in Vancouver at the harbor near Canada Place. I told him about this request from Sarah, he looked out over the Pacific Ocean as the sun was casting awesome shadows on the coastal mountains and said, “I am sure when you were 23 you never imagined that you would be living here 25 years later, eating lunch on the Pacific coast with your husband as a pastor!” WOW that just about sums it here goes -- a letter from an older but still crazy and fun loving pastor’s wife, Mom to 5, MIL to one and Gramma to 3 -- to a brand new Mamma with a one-month old handsome first born son, living a life of solitude and peace on a pig farm with her slim, handsome farmer husband.

Dearest Self,

I am so happy to see you living such a sweet, contented life. Your husband obviously adores you and is so proud of your sweet one-month old son Scott. I am sure you are so grateful how healthy and strong your baby is. I need to remind you that it isn’t always like that. Someday you may have a child born with difficulties so always remember to be thankful for healthy kids. I admire the cozy home you two have set up out there on the farm. You look like you plan to stay there for a lifetime. Your plans to renovate the upstairs, so that you can have lots of bedrooms for all those kids, seems like such a great idea! 

Always remember though that a man’s heart plans his ways, the Lord directs his steps. (Proverbs 16:9) It may be a good idea to leave your options open and not become to set in your ways. Hold the earthly gifts and treasures God gives you lightly; be willing to let them go. Life may not always go as you thought it would. 

Be willing to listen to your husband’s desires, dreams, plans and callings. Encourage him to be all that God would have him to be. Pray for and with him. You may just be surprised when your life takes some interesting twists. So awesome that you and your husband are raising your son in the same church you were both baptized and raised in. 

It is a huge privilege to be able to worship with all your parents, siblings and extended family and to spend Sundays socializing with family. I have a bit of advice for you about this – as lovely as that is being in church with your extended family – it may be too comfortable and stifling for you. In the future God may just call you out of that “comfort zone” so that you can grow more in the communion of saints. It can be very refreshing spiritually to become part of a different fellowship of believers. Embrace this opportunity to learn from others about their walk of faith and let them be an encouragement to you. 

Dear self, God has blessed you at such a young age with so much! Many new moms don’t have the rich heritage you have been given and the supports around them that you are privileged to have. Be compassionate and be there for the down and outs in our society. There are so many hurting people in this broken world. There are kids being neglected and abused – consider sharing your love and your home with them. Help out the moms who do not have the supports you enjoy – give them encouragement and practical help! Show respect to the homeless – speak to them, feed them and support them anyway you can. 

Always remember that anything you have has been given to you by our gracious heavenly Father. My advice to you as an older Christian woman is most of all to always remember that you are not your own, but you belong to your faithful Savior Jesus Christ. 

Live your life by His strength, in His will, always living for His good pleasure and glory!

With Much Love,
Your Older Self


Where to begin? Sue has played many roles in my life: my Pastor's wife, boss man's wife, co-worker, and friend. She was the perfect pick for a reference on my resume when I decided to apply for jobs on PEI!

We have had so many amazing chats, many when either or both of us really should have been working...but the fellowship we had together was much more important! 

Since I moved out here, Sue followed her husband's call to Chilliwack, BC, where he is now pastor of the FRC in Chilliwack after spending most of my growing up years in St. Thomas. Needless to say we are not in the same physical location any longer, so good talks are far and few between. I'm thankful Sue was willing to share her story here today! It 'almost' feels as if we are together again. :)

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Advice to my 23 year old self: ...and you'll grow, grow, grow

Dear Sarah,

Congratulations on your upcoming birthday. 23 is a big year, or at least it was for me.

Two days before my 23rd birthday, I witnessed my best friend getting married. I flew the next day to South Korea to spend a fun, perhaps a little wild, couple of weeks with my sister. Shortly thereafter I met my husband-to-be and also started my final year of nursing school. It was during this year that I got engaged, after a 6 month long distance relationship, I graduated university, left "home" to move to a new province, started my first job, and planned a wedding: my own. So they say, when it rains it pours, and rain it did, only to true of all the changes during this year of my life.

When looking back I do not like to say that I have regrets, because I believe everything happens for a reason. That reason being God's plan for my life, and to shape me to be the woman He desires me to be. However, I have been able to think of numerous pieces of advice that I probably "knew" at the time, but there is a world of difference when general advice becomes personal application. I am going to keep it limited to just a few thoughts.

God's timing is perfect; don't try to rush your own agenda. He makes all things beautiful in His time. I remember getting so frustrated with waiting for my nursing license to transfer to Ontario, it was going to happen eventually and I didn't have to get so worked up about the whole situation. I also wanted to get married ASAP, when in reality we could have waited a while and kept my family a little happier with the whole situation.

Which brings me to my next point. You don't have to make everyone happy, it's not your job. Do not compromise your values, and yet, still try to live at peace with everyone. Most of my life I have tried to please people, as best as I could, especially my parents, which was most often was a good thing. During that year I made some decisions that my parents weren't completely thrilled with and I knew that. However, it was part of breaking away from them and helped me to be a stronger person. I just had to re-adjust my focus to living my life in a way that pleases God. Where is my motivation? It should be devotion to God. (Jerry Bridges)

Another piece of advice that I had probably heard a million times, dress modestly (no explanation needed.)

I'm certain most young ladies at this age are married or possibly pursuing a husband or at least dreaming of the idea. I was quite content to be single on my 23rd birthday, but a few months later that changed. After I met Trevor, it did not take long for us to get pretty serious and within a year we were married. Although there were challenges along the way, I have been very blessed by our marriage and I am grateful for God's faithfulness in my life. I am thankful that we are walking in the way of the Lord, that we hold each other accountable, and are raising our children in light of His word.

After just reading Tim and Kathy Keller's "Reason for Marriage" this year I have discovered many new insights that are too numerous to share, and I recommend reading this book to married or singles alike. The following is some practical counsel that they give to marriage seekers.

Do not allow yourself deep emotional involvement with a non-believing person.

Feel attraction in the most comprehensive sense. Too many people chose their marriage partner on the basis of looks and money -- that they often find themselves married to a person they don't really respect that much.

Don't let things get too passionate too quickly. The kind of love that lasts a lifetime is not only a matter of emotions. It has to be a commitment strong enough to move us to glad, non-begrudging sacrificial service of another person even during the inevitable seasons when the emotions are dry or cool.

Marriage is God's gift to the church. Through Christian marriages, the story of the gospel -- of sin, grace, and restoration -- can be seen and heard both inside the church and out in the world.

The main practical piece of advice I can give is from the words of a simple children's song, "Read your bible, pray everyday, and you'll grow, grow, grow."

Always serving Him,


Tanya and I met only a few months ago, but I've enjoyed our time getting to know each other. We attend the same Young Adults/Young Couples Bible Study and I always appreciate her input. 

Besides Bible Study, we have been known to get a little crazy and play ultimate frisbee on a Sunday night (party animals!) with our peeps.

Thanks SO much for contributing Tanya! This advice is golden!
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