Monday, January 27, 2014

~Messy Marriage~

Jeff & I a couple of years ago...still in love!

" And in a world of celebrities constantly splitting up, having a good, solid marriage is something that can make others believe that God does make a difference, and that lifetime love is possible."
Exert from 'To Love, Honor and Vacuum, People are Watching Your Marriage'

I still remember the day of our wedding...feeling so hungry, yet hardly able to eat due to the flurry of butterflies in my belly. I was so excited at the anticipation of our first special evening dreaming of endless days of cuddles, kisses & skipping joyfully as we walked through life together.

Yes, those were the days!

In case you're visiting and are NOT married yet, I bet you're wondering, well what on earth happened to change your presumptions, Rachael?! What on earth could have broken through that perfect glass bubble of expectation...well, life happened. But it's actually a good thing & I'm going to explain why. (for the marrieds, you already know what I'm talking about so be encouraged you are NOT alone)

"The desire for a happy marriage is present, strong and unquenchable. The work it takes to make a happy marriage is what most people standing at the altar do not understand."
Exert from 'Between The Sheets', Surprising Survey Finds Marriage is a Priority Among College Students

For some of you, marriage may be like taking your dream vacation. You plan, you ideally have a great destination picked out & you begin to educate yourself on what you're going to do on the trip. You read books. Pamphlets. The Internet searching out only the BEST sites of great reputation. You interview others who've already been there. You look at the road map you will need to take to get there. You save, you scrimp...all the while preparing for this long-awaited voyage. You hear about others who got lost along the way, or having a horrible time...but you just know, that's not going to be you!

You begin to get excitement jitters as the big day approaches. You can't seem to think of much else these days. It's what you've been waiting for all this time...

The day is here: you head off & away you go! You arrive & make the best time as you drive towards your special destination...

The elation continues to mount as you arrive at your check in. Wonderful helpers are awaiting your arrival to help you bring in your luggage....what could be better than this!!!

You take the first week lounging by the pool. Scuba diving. Animal sight seeing. Everything is fun & a breeze as you enjoy a full array of tantalizing entertainment & of course the finest food. 

The weekend comes & you're ready to get back home now. Back to real life. 

Unfortunately you hear at the front desk that there is a storm watch...all flights have been suspended until further notice. You start to panic, but all's okay they assure you. You just need to hang tight until tomorrow...

The next day arrives & you're still unsure of what's going on. Work has begun to buzz on your cell phone (you finally DID have to turn it back on..people are counting on you) and you heard from your sister that your Dad had some angina pain & is in the hospital. Another day passes and the storm warning continues...

The following day you're not sure what's going on & why the airport can't just take it's chance. You're missing your comfortable apartment & can hardly take another buffet meal. You feel a bit let down & confused. As you look outside at the thick dark, black skies you are all of a sudden wondering where the beautiful landscape ventured off to!

& that my friends is what marriage can feel like after the honeymoon period ends...

For us, the "honeymoon" period ended after 8 months...I can still remember our first 'real' fight. Honestly, I couldn't tell you WHAT our fight was all about, just that it happened and all of a sudden I felt that my precious & kind hubby had a dark shadow hanging over his head. He felt the same way about me I'm sure.

Years have passed and life has hit us...sometimes quite hard.

Deaths in the family...





Financial setbacks....

Unexpected surprises....

and of course many, many joyful moments as well.

However, if you're not prepared for the reality of life that will settle in any normal marriage (when you realize you married a person who WILL let you down) you may feel as if you've been sold a bill of goods on your long-awaited dream may even go through so much change and so many trials that you even think about bailing! 

This had been a season we experienced ourselves...thinking something was wrong with the other person....thinking that secretly everyone ELSE had the perfect marriage...and well, ours is, well at best...MESSY!

Thinking that disagreements mean we're horrible, horrible people...and on those REALLY tough days when we had a hard time picturing ourselves together for the rest of our lives...well, we'd rather it just end.

Lack of intimacy.

All of these things can contribute to a culmination of a war brewing on the inside of either, or even both spouses.

I am writing today to encourage you! There is hope...

"You don’t have to agree with him over everything. Just value him, listen to him and take him into consideration when there are choices to be made. And, please, never disgrace him publicly."
Exert from 'The Generous Wife, Worth and Value'

"Your love for each other doesn’t have to be overwhelmed by your differences."
Exert from 'The Simple Mom, Will We Ever See Eye to Eye?'

~Even if everything is falling apart in your marriage...I can guarantee you, there is HOPE~

For those of you who are going through a difficult season in your marriage, my number one advice would be to HANG IN THERE! For us, to have worked through seasons of extreme pressure & difficulty we had to get some outside encouragement (trusted friends & even our leaders at church) and seek help from the One who is always willing to help...Jesus (i.e. prayer, simply talking to Him, crying out to Him).

For those of you who literally may be on the verge of divorce, my advice to you would be to consider going in for some intense marriage counselling. Even if you're the only one who will go at this to your spiritual leaders, again trusted friends. Find every book out there that speaks positively to this topic. (one that was recommended to me for another friend is "Love Must Be Tough", By Dr. James Dobson) 

The only two situations I would hesitate to stay is if: your spouse is abusive or if he/she is  being unfaithful. I have never been through these two situations, but witnessed others who have. The marriage can sometimes still be salvaged, but you may need to have a season of separation if the abuser won't stop, or if the cheating continues...

For those who are newly married, thinking of getting married, or just simply still in their honeymoon period, then don't be fearful. Just be prepared that if a 'dry', 'difficult' or really intense season hits (should I just say when?!) you CAN work through it & get through to the other side... if you both stay COMMITTED to one another.

The best part is that for my 'messy' marriage story...we did come through it stronger than before. We understand one another better than we ever did.... I feel a deeper love for him than I ever did.... I appreciate our differences and am continuing to learn to value them. I see his weak points, and he can see mine, and we still CHOOSE to remain partners at this thing called marriage.

It may be messy.

It may not always be the way YOU thought it would turn out...

BUT, your marriage is a vital part of your life. Don't neglect it. Don't give up!

"Marriage is hard work and can be a bumpy road at times. But if I hang on tight to the hem of Jesus and the hand of my husband – I’ll have the best ride of my life!"
Exert from 'Women Living Well, 14 Things I’ve Learned in 14 Years of Marriage'

***All quotes found at

Please feel free to share your best marriage thoughts below! I love comments :)

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Friday, January 24, 2014

Many Hands Make Light Work

Chore Time in the DeBruin Household Involves a Variety of Tasks!

I remember growing up getting the easy way out...not having to do many chores, not really expected to do too much. To be honest I really took what my mother did FOR US, each & every day, for granted! (my Dad was a typical man in that era & worked really hard to provide)
My mother dedicated herself to taking care of us four children with all the mundane tasks that entails...
Washing Floors...
Sorting & Organizing Items Around the Home...
Cooking & Dishes...

The list is really endless for a typical stay-at-home parent!

So, why involve our children? Isn't that really a form of child labour?
And most importantly, isn't it easier to do it ourselves?!!

Well, I have created this list to get you thinking....this blog post is to ENCOURAGE other moms/parents out there who may be feeling weary with the whole 'chore thing', and secondly, to hopefully inspire others out there who are 'on the fence' on this sensitive topic.

  • Why Do the Chore Thing? Well, for starters you are training up children to become competent adults. You are (hopefully) working towards that goal with the end in mind. Competent adults are responsible for themselves. While children should never be expected to take on an adult's 'role', there is a place for them to practice with mini assignments that are age appropriate & match their capability.

  • What Does It Teach? I believe that by doing chores, children are learning & practicing many skills such as: honesty (will they tell you the truth about what they completed), responsibility, excellence (learning to do things well & improving), wisdom (sometimes they surprise me with showing ME ways to improve on a task), cooperation, empathy (understanding what it takes to run a household & what Mom/Dad actually do everyday), self-management, and listening skills (and who doesn't want to have a child that actually listens?!)

  • How Do You Implement Chores? You can begin as soon as you finish this blog! Depending on your child's age, you should be able to find a chore that they are able to take on. I have found from experience that children (from about the age of 3+; of course you know your child & their capabilities) are able to listen well to instructions, or be able to help out with an older sibling, or even alongside Mom/Dad. However, under that age you may even find eager tots ready to help out as much as they can :) Implementing the chores in your home can be as simple as dividing a task list, or as complex as an Excel Spreadsheet. We like the Maxwell chore organizers, and heard about them from the famed Duggar family. You can find them here at --> 15 Examples of Various FREE Chore Spreadsheets

  • How Do You Know What is Appropriate For Each Age? I think it is really individual. Maturity, development & their interests can give you some guidelines. For us: every September we re-divide the chore list. We take turns picking out something from the pile, and then go around in a circle picking one after the other until they are all accounted for. Currently, I am homeschooling four children (with a newborn on the side) aged 6, 8, 12 & 13. For our current school year: the older two boys selected sweeping, cleaning bathrooms, dishes & a few odds n ends. My eight year is a girl & she loves helping me with the dishes (we sometimes make up stories on a slower day while we wash...) and she also is good at helping care for the animals (we have a bird & a pooch). Our six year old is another boy & enjoys helping sort socks, fill up toilet paper rolls & helps me change garbage bags. I find I become more of a manager as I hold them accountable, help with more difficult tasks & then go on to my own. 

  • What If I Can't Get My Child To Do Chores? I think the first thing then to work on is respect for the parent. Also, if the child is younger then really it could be turned into a game. I used to have 'contests' with my two older boys when they were preschoolers. We would make happy faces with soap suds on the floor, and then slide around it as our mopping (carefully with Mom's supervision!) They had a blast! My six year old really enjoys a good sock war in between folding. He just asked me today if we could do another one... :) Be creative, but persistent. Work on encouraging them to respect you as their parent.

  • Lastly, I think the MOST IMPORTANT thing is to work together as a team. It can be MUCH, MUCH easier to allow Mom, and even Dad, to complete all the chores around the home. In my opinion it also gets done WAY faster as well...but it doesn't prepare them for the reality of their lives as adults. Yes, children may only be able to fold socks when young, but at 15/16 years of age I want my children to be able to do anything that my hubby & I can do around the home (minus driving...which comes soon after!) 

What type of chore organizers do you find helpful in your home?

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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

~Five SMOOTHIES with FIVE ingredients or less~

~Smoothie Recipes~

Each one of these smoothie recipes only require a few ingredients & thus are EASY to make!
Try using the snack size ones for that 3/4pm lull that most of us have...instead of reaching for another cup of java! I usually have smoothies first thing in the morn, or as meal replacements on occasion. 
Note: ALL smoothies are DAIRY & GLUTEN free!

Afternoon Refresher (snack)

handful of frozen mango
handful of frozen strawberries (or blueberries)
about 1 cup of fresh organic spinach
water to desired consistency

Peanut Butter Parfait (snack)

1 frozen banana
2 spoonfuls of organic peanut butter
1 cup of almond milk
honey to taste
add water/milk to desired consistency

Greenie Goodness (snack)

large handful of organic spinach
large handful of frozen mango
1/2 fresh avocado
water to taste

Soft & Smooth (meal)

2 teaspoons extra virgin coconut oil
1/2 avocado
1/2 frozen banana
1 teaspoon flax seed (ground)
almond milk to desired consistency
honey to taste

Let's Get Going (meal)

1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup frozen blueberries (or other berry)
1 teaspoon flax seed (ground)
1/2 cup or more almond milk (to desired consistency)
1-2 scoops dairy-free protein powder of choice
honey to taste

Meal smoothies incorporate both fats & proteins whereas the snack ones do not.

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