Where have I been for the last week? Surviving our Texas snowpocalypse, that’s what! It was a crazy week but we survived.
Last week has been one for the books. You may wonder where I have been this past week. Well, I’ve been buried under snow and ice. Well, not literally, but for all intents and purposes it is true. Now this will sound so silly to people who live in Northern areas. Texas is such a warm state. Even our December days are often around 70 degrees. We have days that hit freezing, but we rarely get the precipitation that produces snow and even when we get some flakes it doesn’t always accumulate.
This Monday we had a severe winter storm blow through South Texas. Texas sees it’s share of severe weather but for us it is often hurricanes towards the end of summer and early Fall or it is in tornados around March and April. We are not prepared for Winter storms.
When the storm came in on Sunday night many of us were so excited. We almost never see snow here and when we do it is normally just a dusting that is gone by midday. This was quite different. We had icy precipitation first then 4-6” of snow depending on where you live.
The kids woke up to something they have never really seen here. White rooftops. Snowy trees, the street, and yard covered in a glistening white blanket of snow. It was gorgeous. Snow is always gorgeous before we drive through it and muddy it up, before it turns into a grey slushy.
We bundled the kids up like Ralphie out of Christmas story and let them have fun playing in the snow. My two year old was quite hesitant at first, but he had an absolute fit when we told them it was time to come inside. They had a blast throwing snowballs and throwing the snow up in the air. It was great. We made sure they got into a hot bath immediately.
Boom Goes the Power
Not long after our eventful play in the snow did we lose power. It is shocking how quickly a warm house cools. We have a gas range, so we were at least able to cook. But we weren’t able to get groceries before the storm as stores were over run. That night, temperatures dipped down to about 9º. We slept the kids with us in the room and we made sure we pulled out their 30º sleeping bags but it was frigid.
We were stuck with whatever charge we had on our phones and devices. Thank goodness I have a ton of candles and we had plenty of batteries for flashlights. We finished out Monday night by the fireplace.
Tuesday morning we ran out of wood for the fireplace. The cold was biting. Not all of our taps were working despite leaving them all dripping. We pulled out our water bob and filled it up, If you don’t have one of these, you should get one, They only cost around $30. It is a bladder that you put in your bath tub and fill it up for potable water in case you lose it. It holds about 100 gallons. Boy am I glad we did that! By the end of the day, we had lost all water.
That evening we couldn’t take the cold anymore. By 3 o’clock on Tuesday we had been without power for 24 hours and temperatures never rose above freezing. My hands were numb as I tried to fix lunch for us. We decided to venture out and see if we could get any supplies. Lots of roads and stretches of the highway were still closed. We found had to drive out of town to find a store with power. They were cleaned out of most essentials and had no firewood or anything like it. My brother gave us a few pieces that we had and we stopped to check in on my elderly parents who had also been trapped without electricity. In fact, all my family members had been without electricity.
There were rolling outages, but it was very odd. Some people never lost power. Some people appear to have regular power with small breaks, while other people like us, had no power at all for days at a time. It was very upsetting to see tons of businesses lit up with no one in them while homes were without power. USAA one of our largest businesses with a huge campus was fully energized with even their multistory parking lot blazing with lights while are house was 40º inside. Empty car dealerships all over the city were blaring with high-powered halogen lights over their parking lots when my elderly parents had no way to cook, no water, and had no heat source. We were told, our utilities were picking and choosing areas and places to energize.
I am so grateful we had things like powdered milk and dry eggs to cook. I’m grateful we have a gas range. I’ll tell you that we will be investing in a propane heater after this! A generator also sounds amazing. We got some power overnight and it was wonderful but it was gone before we woke up and by noon it was painfully frigid again. Once the house gets that cold, it just takes a long time to get it back up to temperature.
My 91 year old grandfather and mentally challenged uncle were without heat all week as well. It is sad to see this kind of thing happen unnecessarily. Our losses were fairly small. It was bitterly cold in our house, but we all survived. We lost everything in our fridge including medications. We managed to keep the freezer fairly cold by packing ziplock bags of snow inside it to keep things frozen, but our fridge just didn’t stay cold enough.
Last night temperatures dropped again. We had another bout of freezing rain and sleet, icing over everything that had started to defrost. Temperatures won’t get above freezing today. I wonder how long it will take for us to get power and water again. How much longer for us to get food and groceries again, I don’t know. I imagine it will be a madhouse and then of course, COVID hasn’t stopped.
It’s been hard to be cut off from the world. We have only been turning on our devices here and there to touch base with family. Then we turn them off again. Roads are too icy to try and venture out. Even our steep driveway is covered with ice. This has been really hard for the kids. The numbing cold, the lack of light, no food or electronics. My youngest is too little to understand what has happened. But I am still incredibly proud of how well they have tried to adapt.
Power has been restored. Water is slowly coming through the taps but we are under a boil water notice for the next few days it seems. I’m just grateful to have heat again. It is slowly warming in the house.
It has been an interesting experience to say the least. It has certainly caused me to be grateful for things that I take for granted. Light, water, heat. Perhaps these things are necessary so we can appreciate the things we overlook everyday. I am especially grateful for people who reached out to me. People who offered their supplies, even their home to us if conditions worsened. Thank you so much! The most marvelous thing was that people I know who had the least were the ones who offered us the most.
Lots of restaurants and grocery stores appear to have lost food and so it will be a couple of weeks until things return to normal. Can I say that in 2021? Is there such a thing as normal anymore? If you were affected by the winter storm, I’d love to know how you are doing. This is one of my few posts that will read like a diary, I promise!
I asked various married Christian couples to share their marital secrets. I’ve summed up their responses into 12 habits of happy couples.
Valentine’s is almost here and I’ve spent eight wonderful years with my amazing Valentine. This year, as we approach that special love day, I approached ten Christian couples for the secrets to their life-long marriages. Two of the couples have been married for more than fifty years while others are in the twenty and thirty year range.
It would seem that as simple as some of these notions are, it’s hard to live them out everyday. So in honor of love day, I thought it would really great to share some pearls of wisdom from the couples I admire. A special thanks to all of them who participated! I’ve left out actual quotes and names because several insisted that God only was to receive the glory for their long marriages. I loved that. According to them here are 12 habits of happy couples.
1. They Put God First
You’ve heard it said many times that putting God at the center of your marriage, but I have found it to be a profound and nurturing command in marriage. When God’s will is above your own, when you are in pursuit of holiness, you will do things that would otherwise be impossible. Your choices look very different when you are looking to please God over man or even yourself. Forgiveness even in the midst of betrayal becomes possible. Couples who are grounded in the covenant they made with God don’t give themselves an out every time there is a roadblock or speed bump. They will attempt to work it out at all costs.
2. They Have Boundaries
In the past, I’ve written about setting healthy boundaries in your marriage. Boundaries are so important when you are dealing with families who do things differently and even with friends who might persuade either spouse. So I wasn’t surprised when several couples listed setting boundaries as one of the most effective ways to guard a marriage.
There are all kinds of boundaries that you can set in your marriage, but I think some of the most important on how you will worship, how you will interact with members of the opposite sex, what is permissible in the bedroom and rules for fighting fairly. Boundaries are not away to control or manipulate your spouse. Nor should they be a way to play “gotcha.” Rather, they should create an understanding between you and your spouse about what is permissible and what is not.
3. They Effectively Communicate Their Feelings
Many people think that discussing things that bother us will create even more tension. The truth is, in the short term, it may, but bottling up unforgiveness or anger normally only leads to deep resentment. Nevertheless, we should bring up grivences and perceived slights quickly, but constructively. Constructive conversations normally involves several things:
Avoid using accusatory language
Avoid name-calling, curse words, and other degrading language
Resist the urge to assign motives. (We have a tendency to believe the best of ourselves, but the worst of others.)
Be specific and avoid generalizations and sweeping, blanket statements
Attack the problem and not the person
Avoid passing blame or justifying
If things get too heated, agree to take a time out and revisit later
4. They Listen
This might sound super basic, but one of the women I talked to said something interesting. “During an argument, most people aren’t really listening. They are just waiting for their turn to speak,” this mom of four explained. The comment actually caused me to look at my own behavior. During emotional discussions we so often want to be heard but don’t always give our spouse the same consideration. Rather, we are just waiting for them to finish so we can hammer our point a little more. If we truly want peace in our marriage, if we really want to resolve some of the arguments that are robbing our marriage of joy, we first must be come better listeners.
Our spouse’s points are just as valid as our own. I’d also add that listening doesn’t just have to be during arguments. Sometimes, it is in the everyday. Here are just a few helpful hints on how to become a better listener. I know that I’ve noticed if someone feels like they weren’t heard, the issue will often get brought back up again.
Turn off or put down devices when your spouse speaks to you
Resist the urge to argue in your head while they speak
Recognize changes in tone and body language
Ask questions when something is unclear (reserve questions for when they are done speaking)
Confirm with, “if I’m hearing you correctly…”
Keep eye contact
5. They Give Up The Right to Be Right All the Time
Did you know that the most common reason for divorces aside from infidelity is arguing. Irreconcilable differences. Marriages, even good ones, have very real conflict. You will often hear people say ” we weren’t compatible.” Newsflash: no two people are totally compatible. Even though we may share things in common, we will always still have stark differences and those differences prompt arguments.
Our ego and pride often gets in the way of our resolving conflict. There are very serious problems in marriage, but many times we can get into a habit of being disagreeable. Annoyances can build up and we can find ourselves in petty squabbles over the manutia of life.
6. They Are Willing
Willingness is often understated and yet it is so important in a marriage. In my own marriage, my husband is one of the most willing people I’ve ever met. He was always willing to get up with the kids in the middle of the night. When my parents were stranded, he was willing to go across town to get them. He was willing to wait up all night for my niece until she got home safely. He is willing to work long hours, to make sacrifices, to do whatever is needed or asked of him. Be willing just means living with the attitude of a servant.
Our own Lord was quite willing. I think of all the times he could have chosen not to. He was willing to become man for our sake. Willing to eat with tax collectors, talk to Samaritans and sinners when no one else would. We know he was willing to be interrupted in the middle of teaching (Matthew 9:18-26) and we know that when the children interrupted him the disciples rebuked them, but Jesus was willing to stop and visit with them. (Matthew 19:13-15). Jesus was willing to be tortured, humiliated and crucified for the sake of sinners.
Being willing means we are willing to be inconvenienced, willing to serve, willing to sacrifice. It means that we are flexible (not stubborn), agreeable, and gracious. We have a tremendous opportunity for our spouse to come to know the love of Christ when we model this attribute.
7. They Are Kind and Gentle
Kindness is often underrated, but kindness is one of the pillars of love, the other being patience. When you are kind, you are choosing to be agreeable. Kindness causes us to look for ways to serve and meet the needs of our spouse. Additionally, kindness causes us to be gentle. Even if you have to rebuke your spouse, kindness chooses to say the words of correction with love and gentleness. Kindness chooses to offer mercy and forgiveness along with any form of correction. Both gentleness and kindness are fruits of the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:22-23) and therefore available to us for the asking. It should be a daily request of ours in prayer that the Holy Spirit transform and conform our hearts with these attributes of the Holy Ghost. In 2 Timothy, we are reminded that we should be actively pursuing kindness alongside holiness (2 Timothy 6:11-12).
8. They Invest In Their Spouse
When we invest our time, effort, money, and energy into something, it naturally becomes more important to us. It is harder to give up on something in which we are deeply invested. In fact, the more we have invested, the harder it is to walk away. This is why it is important to invest in your marriage and in your spouse. Sometimes investing in your marriage is the giving or devoting of yourself such as your time. For example, investing may at times require you to put aside TV time in order to spend quality time with your spouse. It can mean listening when you’d rather zonk out for the night or it can even mean working with your partner to follow their dreams or deepest pursuits.
When you invest in your spouse, you are choosing to be a participating partner in their growth and wellbeing. So long as it aligns with our Christian world view, invest in the dreams, ambitions, interests and most importantly, their spiritual life.
9. They Forgive
Oh, friend, this is such a biggie. If there is one thing I have learned in marriage and one thing that was said by these awesome couples, it’s that forgiveness needs to take center stage in your marriage. Your spouse will repeatedly fail you, disappoint you, and even betray you. It is not a matter of if your spouse will hurt you, but rather, when. Why would someone who loves you, hurt you? As Christians, we know the answer to this. Sin nature. Scripture reminds us that we are all conceived in iniquity (Psalm 51:5).
Forgiveness is hard. There is a feeling that by forgiving someone (and not staying mad) you are sending the message it isn’t a big deal or that you are letting someone off the hook. Let’s be clear. Forgiveness is actually between you and God. Unforgiveness drives a wedge between us and the Lord and we become the unforgiving servant that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 18:21-35. As much as your spouse has wronged you, you have still wrong God more. To paraphrase C.S. Lewis, we can forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.
Forgiveness isn’t a single act. It’s an attitude.
10. They Seek Godly Counsel
Fighting and disagreements are inevitable and sometimes there is so much hurt and unforgiveness that our marriage feels stymied. I have learned that going to families often causes more conflict. Our families are likely to take the side of their blood relatives and may even be blinded by loyalty. I’m actually in favor of leaving families out of marital problems almost entirely for another reason. As loving spouses, we should strive to protect our spouse’s reputation. I believe that Christ-like love should work to cover faults (not expose them) in the same way that the blood of Christ covers ours (Romans 4:7). When we go to family members with catastrophic trials, it may cause our family’s opinion of our spouse to be damaged beyond repair. For that reason, I suggest seeking Godly counsel elsewhere.
There will be times where Godly counsel is needed and I can’t tell you how priceless it is to have someone rich in the love of Christ, who can shepherd the two of you through the storms that arise in marriage. Godly counsel will also lovingly rebuke you if correction is needed. Many churches offer pastoral counseling, but even if yours doesn’t, a pastor, church elder, spiritual mentor, or someone else in your church community may be a good source of advice.
11. They Make Time for Sex and Physical Affection
We live in an age where many things are bidding for our attention. We are busy and tired and devices have really made it difficult. Kids, jobs, errands, responsibilities are all clamoring for our attention. Additionally, today’s modern family faces an even bigger problem. Around the dinner table, it’s common to find members of the family engaged with a device rather than each other. Did you know there is actually a word for it? Psychologists call it “phubbing,” – subbing your phone for another human being.
Now devices have even affected marital relations. Take a look at this image below from photographer Eric Pickersgill. he took a series of images showing people engaged in everyday actions except he removed the devices from the hand’s of the subjects. we look like mindless zombies. Worse, we look disconnected from each other relationally. Research has shown that sex gets cut in half when phones are in the bedroom. I’m guessing TVs also increase that statistic.
My mother used to have a saying, “the devil will do everything in his power to get you into bed before you are married and everything to keep you out of it once you’re married.” God created an amazing bonding experience for a married couple when he created sex. A husband and wife can never be more physically close than the act of sex and sexual intimacy is the catalyst for all kinds of other emotional intimacy. They go hand in hand. Wives, we must make ourselves available to our husbands. Husbands, sex is a wonderful way to make your spouse feel beautiful and treasured. In order to have a good marriage, we must treat sex as a priority. Do it and do it often! French kiss. Cuddle. Tease. Flirt. Do it all, but be mindful and deliberate about it! Sometimes we will even have to do it when we don’t really feel like it.
12. They Pray Together
When things happen in life, when there is cause for celebration or grief, prayer should be our first response. In my own marriage, we’ve gone through all kinds of ups and downs. Miscarriage, job losses, mental illness, financial woes, spiritual depression. Praying together, inviting God into your marriage, is life-changing. If you are going to be married for a lifetime, you’ll go through everything under the sun. Now this may look like the first topic we covered – putting God first and you are right. We are making a circle. Beginning and ending with God and our relationship with him.
it’s not enough to have the same beliefs or even the same convictions, although that is important. We must also pray together and pray for one another. Pray for your spouse to become more like Christ and pray for yourself to become more like Christ. Ask God to bless your spouse, reveal himself to your spouse, and guide your spouse. Then pray together. Read the Word together. Go to church together. Fellowship with other believers together, but grow in Christ with each other. Not just when times are rough, but continually. Always.
I’m not sharing anything you don’t know. These 12 Habits of happy couples, are just good reminders. Sometimes we need to stop and recalibrate. It’s my sincerest hope that today, you will think about what you can do to nature your marriage. In the comments below, let me know how I can pray for you and don’t forget to share this post on Facebook!
Love is in the air! Today, I’m sharing some cute printable school valentines to share with schoolmates.
We are getting close to February and you know what that means, our little ones will start coming home with some cute Valentines school crafts and lots of sweet treats. Valentine’s Day is always a fun time for kids and I always make sure to do something really special with the kids. This year, I think we will be making some super cute Valentine’s cupcakes. We’ve made some cookies in the past and that was fun, but I recently found this great list of Valentine’s cupcakes, so we have to try some of them!
As you know if you are a reader, we homeschool, but in years prior I had my boys in a mom’s day out program for a few hours a week. It was just a nice way for me to get a break and the boys to get out with some friends. Because of COVID, we are home full time now which is one reason why my writing on the blog has slowed down a tad. (Thanks for bearing with me while I find my sea legs!)
How to Make Valentine’s Day Special At Home
Bake Some Goodies
If you are doing virtual schooling, there are still plenty of ways to make Valentine’s Day special for your little ones. After all, I just shared a few baking ideas. Kids always love to get busy in the kitchen. And of course, you can always do Valentine’s cut out sugar cookies! One of these days I have to share my recipe for no spread cut out sugar cookies!
Printable Valentine’s Bingo Game
Last year I made a super cute printable Valentine’s Bingo game that you can play with the kids. Just print it out on your home computer. We love to use those cute conversation hearts as our bingo markers. If you want, you can also laminate them so that they are more durable, Just make sure to print them out on white cardstock regardless.
We love to do Valentine’s Day crafts. I found some really cute crafts that are great for young children. Most are pretty simple to do.
That leads me to today’s free printable. I’ve created some really cute printable Valentine’s for your little ones. I’ve used an adorable color scheme of pinks, grey, and mint. You can print them out and attach a candy or treat to them. You can put them in a treat bag or staple them to a bag. Whatever you like. But the great thing is that you can use these without having to purchase some from the store or you can save these in case you need them for last-minute treats. You’ll want to print them on white cardstock and it’s in pdf format so you will need a pdf viewing software like Adobe Reader.
There are four sheets of printable school valentines. Each page has 4 cards on it and there are four designs in total. Obviously, because it is printable, you print off as many as you need. Be sure to PIN this post for later, it to your Facebook page, or share it with a friend who can use them.