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Friday, May 31, 2013

5 Suggestions for Your Next Date

Recently my wife read a book by Nicholas Sparks, The Wedding (this is an affiliate link). She really enjoyed it and thought it would be something that I would like to read as well. After considerable encouragement I decided to read it. At the very least we would have that in common and something to talk about. I've actually really enjoyed the book. 

One of the things that I found most enjoyable about reading it was the reminiscing. The main character spends a lot of time remembering early events in his relationship with his wife. Events like when they first met, their first date, first kiss, the early days after they were married, when their children were young, when he proposed, etc. What was really fun for me about all of this is that I started reminiscing too. Then, next thing you know, Cami and I are doing it together.

Talking a walk down memory lane may be one of the best ways to spend time with your spouse this weekend. It brings back feelings you may not have felt in some time (and if you have it intensifies them) and it's fun. Here are five suggestions to get you started:
  1. Pull out your wedding album, flip through the pages, and share with each other what you were thinking when the pictures were taken
  2. Did your first date go as planned? If your experience was like the one I had with Cami then it didn't. Think back on how it was supposed to be versus how it ended up. It will put a smile on your face.
  3. When and where did you meet? Why did he ask you out (or vice-versa)? Why did you say yes?
  4. What one thing have the two of you never told anyone about?
  5. Share with each other what the most difficult thing about him/her was for you to get used to after you got married
Now, I have just one question for you: when was the last time you reminisced with your spouse? 

Leave me a comment letting me know how it went. Also, I implore you to sign up for my free newsletter (if you haven't done so already). :)

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Liebster Award...the What?

I was honored last week when I received a comment from Tara at OrganizedSAHM informing me that I had received a Liebster Award. Then I thought, "what's a Liebster Award?"

After visiting Tara's site it became more clear. The Liebster Award is an award that is given from bloggers to bloggers who have 200 followers or less. The idea is to recognize and meet new and rising bloggers. There are a couple of simple rules, however, when one receives a Liebster Award:
  1. Answer the 11 questions your nominator asked you
  2. Post 11 random facts about yourself
  3. Give the award to at least five, but no more than 11, other bloggers who have less than 200 followers
  4. Tell your recipients that they have received the award
  5. Come up with 11 questions for your recipients to answer
So, in keeping with the tradition here are the answers to...

The 11 questions that Tara asked me:
  1. Why did you start blogging? The answer is two fold. Primarily because over the years I have noticed that what Cami and I have is special and frequently we are told that our marriage is "different" and people ask us why. Well, now I can refer them to Uplifting Love and they'll be able to learn why to their heart's content. The second reason, though this is significantly less important, is to make a few extra dollars for the family. Ideally Uplifting Love will support itself and provide a few additional dollars to us for the time I put into it. We'll see. :)
  2. How long have you been blogging? Technically 11 months, however, I didn't really get serious until early February 2013.
  3. What inspired your blog name? As I pondered over the question posed to us (why are you and Cami different?) by friends and relatives I realized that when I am with Cami I feel like a better person. I know that I am a better person because I am married to her and when we are working together to improve our marriage we feel uplifted. Hence, Uplifting Love. The kind of love that lifts you up, makes you feel happier and more joyful, and brings you closer to Christ.
  4. What one post are you really proud of that you feel maybe didn't get enough attention? Link it! In late February I read an a reader comment on an article in the Boston Globe talking about how they just didn't know if the marriage should go on; they had been married only five years and weren't sure if their life goals were compatible with their spouse's any more. I was appalled (I still am) and out of frustration and in an attempt to in some small way combat this type of thinking I wrote "You Get Married to Stay Married." Since it was early on and I didn't have much of a readership yet not many people saw it. This is the post that I'm proud of and that didn't get enough attention.
  5. What book are you reading right now? Actually, this is a little bit embarrassing, my wife gave me a Nicholas Spark's book to read, The Wedding, while I am away from home (I'm on a business trip at the moment). So far I'm really enjoying it (she knows me all too well). :)
  6. What is your favorite blog to read in the mornings? Honestly, I don't get much time to read blogs in the mornings before work. Typically I don't get to reading blogs until after the children are in bed in the evenings. One of my favorite to read is Happy Wives Club by Fawn Weaver. While it is for wives most of the things she shares are applicable to husbands as well.
  7. If you could give your younger self a piece of advice, what would it be? Start saving money right away. The sooner you start the more interest you will make. My family would be in a much better financial situation right now if I had started when I was a teenager.
  8. How many people did you text today? It's morning but despite that I typically only text one or two people a day anyway. Today, only one: my beautiful wife.
  9. How many social media accounts do you have currently that you are running? Personally, I only have a Facebook account. For Uplifting Love I have: Facebook, BlogLovin, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest. I would love for you to follow me. (hint, hint)
  10. What is your favorite food? Sandwiches. I love sandwiches, especially sub sandwiches.
  11. Where would you like to live if you had the chance? I'm not sure. Probably in the area I currently live in but on a 300 acre estate that Cami and I would own. However, we would only spend some of our time there each year because the rest of the time we would be visiting friends and family and on our yacht sailing the oceans.
11 Random Facts About Me:
  1. I have always wanted to learn karate and to play the piano
  2. When I was twelve my two best friends and I designed a space ship that we were going to build and command. I was going to be the captain and they were going to be my first and second officers.
  3. I LOVE Star Trek, not so much the original series but more The Next Generation
  4. Along with number 3, someday I would like to teach a business management class at a university entitled "Picard's School of Management: Lessons in Leadership"
  5. My wife and I feel like we should have five kids (we are expecting number four presently) but aren't sure if five is enough (crazy, huh?)
  6. I don't believe in exercising, however, I am trying to become a convert (not hard core, just enough to jump start my metabolism sufficiently so that I can eat anything and everything again)
  7. I was awarded my Associate's Degree the week before I received my High School Diploma
  8. I have been skydiving (9,000 feet!) and would love to do it again, this time with Cami
  9. My favorite animal is the orca (more commonly known as a killer whale)
  10. Before my voice changed I could sing like Ariel in The Little Mermaid (I don't admit to this one too often but it is a random fact)
  11. When the television, a movie, or any kind of video is playing I completely zone out everything else. I have no control over it.
My Nominees to Receive the Liebster Award (in no particular order):
  1. Jessica @ The Wondering Brain
  2. Melissa @ A Room For Two With A View
  3. Beth @ Messy Marriage
  4. Lisa @ The Courageous Journey
  5. Meredith @ The Laundry Can Wait
Questions for My Nominees:
  1. Why did you start blogging?
  2. When did you start blogging?
  3. What is your blog about?
  4. Which post that you've written are you most proud of and why?
  5. What is your least favorite ice cream and why?
  6. How many foreign countries have you visited and which was your favorite?
  7. If you had one million dollars (and didn't have to pay taxes on it; wouldn't that be nice) what would you do with it?
  8. Who is your favorite relative?
  9. How many movies do you typically watch each month?
  10. Why did you fall in love with your spouse?
  11. How long did it take you to answer these questions?
Thanks again Tara!

Monday, May 27, 2013

All Time Top 5 (My 100th Post!)

This is my 100th post!

It took me longer to arrive here than I thought it would originally (I've come to learn that it's much harder to blog than I thought) but I'm here. Wow, 100 posts.  Time for a walk down memory lane...

My Favorite Post

It is so easy for moms, especially stay-at-home moms, to lose themselves in their service to their children and family. This post discusses this and 3 ways husbands can help their wives develop talents and skills in addition to those required for motherhood. It's pretty good. :)

My Most Popular Post

This is the first in a series of posts. At the end of March I challenged myself to do 100 kind things for my wife, things that I normally wouldn't have done. Every week to two weeks I posted updates on my progress. It was a fun challenge which I finished earlier this month. I encourage you to do something similar for your spouse. You'll be glad you did.

The Most Fun Post

Cami and I love to have fun and laugh together. The post "Giggle Fits", because it made me laugh a bunch of times looking for just the right clips, was probably the most fun so far.

The Most Important Post
In late February I read a comment posed by a reader on another site that really bothered me. It led me to write "You Get Married to Stay Married" where I shared my opinion about marriage and that it is intended to be permanent. Please check it out.

My Most Commented On Post

This is a recent one that a lot of you really enjoyed and kindly commented on. I'm hopeful that the suggestions I provided helped and that you employed them to have some fun and show your love. If the number of comments are any indication they did. :)

Thank you to you all for your kindness motivating me to keep going. Now, I need to get to work on the next 100...

Let me know in the comments what your favorite post is and which post you think is the most important that I've written. Also, if you haven't signed up for my newsletter yet, you should. In fact, I think you should sign up now. :)  

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Marriage & Mutual Funds: 3 Tips on Investing


Money is an important part of marriage. Marriage is not about money, however, you've probably heard people say that money can cause problems in a marriage. Maybe you've even experienced it yourself. But to a degree marriage is a business partnership: you purchase assets together, manage expenses, generate revenue, and enter into contracts (utilities, cell phones, subscriptions, etc.). The difference, however, is that the goal of marriage is love and happiness while the goal of a traditional business relationship is money.

Earlier this week my sister and her husband invited Cami and I to go bowling with them. As we hadn't been bowling in many years and we enjoy spending time with them we accepted their invitation. Last night was the big night. We found a babysitter (Cami's sweet little brother), hit the road, and had a great time. I lost each of the games we played but in spite of that I had a good time.

On the car ride back my sister began asking me about investing. I'm in no way an expert but I've been learning from a friend, who is a chartered financial analyst (CFA), for a few years so I have a pretty good grasp of the basis. I'm learning that this is more than most people. Because of this, and because I realize that there are many younger couples that read my blog, I'm going to take a minute today and explain the very basics of investing. I know that this isn't my traditional blog post but because money is important to a marriage I feel like I can get away with it. :)

Shares of Stock
Businesses have owners. Sometimes it's just one owner who owns 100% of the company. Other times it's a partnership where two people each own 50%, three people who own a third each, etc. Unless the business is a non-profit company it has at least one owner. Ownership in a company is also referred to as having stock in a company.

Ownership of a company, or stock, can be bought and sold just like cars, houses, toothbrushes, etc.  The value of the stock is based on the value of the company. If the company is worth $100,000 and there are 1000 shares of stock then each share is worth $100. When the company's value increases so does the value of the share of stock and likewise when it decreases the value of the stock goes with it.

Now there is a lot more that is involved in valuing an individual stock but this is basically how it works.

Mutual Funds
Many years ago some bright individual realized that the average person doesn't have the time or understanding to routinely and successfully invest in individual companies so they created a mutual fund. They got a bunch of people to each contribute a sum of money, let's say $100, and used that money to purchase shares of stock in individual companies. The mutual fund manager makes the decisions about which stocks to buy, when to buy them, and when to sell them. As the overall value of the stocks that the mutual fund owns increases so does the value of the mutual fund (the reverse is also true, mutual funds can lose money. Investing is not a sure thing).

The individuals who contributed the initial $100 can then sell their ownership in the mutual fund (their share of the mutual fund though it's not typically referred to this way) to another person. In this way membership in the mutual fund, or ownership of it, can be bought and sold similar to how individual stocks are bought and sold.

Rules of Thumb
Here are three general rules of thumb that I initially learned from Dave Ramsey and have been reinforced countless times by my CFA friend.

#1 Think long term. Investing for the short, in my opinion, is for experts. For people like me I recommend that they invest with a long term perspective. Looking at the S&P 500 (a stock exchange where companies can list their stock for sale) the average annual return since the 1920's is 11.34% (see here). That means that if history repeats itself (there is no guarantee that it will) you should earn between 11% and 12% at least. Therefore, look for mutual funds that have a return of at least 11% since their inception.

#2  Make sure to look at the return of the mutual SINCE ITS INCEPTION. This means since it was first started. You want to make sure that its management is solid and has a good track record. Also make sure that it has been around for at least 10 years. Again, this is no guarantee that it will continue to perform as it has in the past but it is much more likely.

#3  Think long term. Yep, that's right. It's so important I've put it twice. When my wife and my retirement plan makes money I tell her the good news. When it loses money she doesn't know a thing. I used to tell her no matter what was happening but we quickly realized that when the value of our retirement plan is down she kind of panics and wants to pull all of our money out. So, to help her keep a long term perspective I only tell her when it's good news. :)

Again, I want to reiterate that I am in no way an expert and these are merely my opinions but I have put these principles into practice in my life and am already seeing success (I've only been investing for six years). There are no guarantees when it comes to investing (I often refer to it as professional gambling) because no one can predict the future but if you're diligent, willing, and careful it can be a great way to build wealth.

To help you learn more, if you're interested, here are a few websites that I find helpful:
As with anything, consult a professional if you have any questions.

Let me know what you thought about this post in the comments. Did it help? Do you have more questions now? Was it too off topic? I love and appreciate your feedback!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

25 Ways to Show Your Love

May is a time for love. Well, I guess that technically every month is a time for love since we should be expressing our love regularly. In light of that, and because I recognize sometimes we get stuck in a "rut" and struggle to think of new ways to show our love and appreciation to our spouse here's a list of 24 simple ways to show your spouse you love him/her (and 1 more difficult way).
  1. Send a text message to your spouse and tell them thank you for something they did recently that you appreciated
  2. Write "I love you!" on a little scrap of paper and hide it where they will find it later
  3. Give your spouse a kiss
  4. Leave a note that says "Thanks for buttering me up" on the butter
  5. Watch a movie together that your spouse would choose
  6. Laugh together. Watch a funny clip on YouTube or you can share this joke I recently heard: "What did the buffalo say to his son as he left for school? Bison!"
  7. Put a note in the cereal that says "I know that receiving this note is surreal but I love you." (surreal sounds like cereal, kind of)
  8. Compliment your spouse
  9. Give a hug and hold your spouse tight. This is one of my favorites.
  10. Hold hands
  11. Go on a walk
  12. Flirt with your spouse. Sometimes we forget to do this but it's a lot of fun.
  13. Give a massage
  14. Email your spouse 10 reasons you love them
  15. Finish something on their To Do list
  16. Tell your children what you love about their mom/dad
  17. Ask about their day (and listen to the answer)
  18. Bring home a small gift
  19. Ask for your spouses advice on something you're working on or struggling with
  20. Play a game together
  21. Wear a piece of clothing that your spouse really likes
  22. Say "thank you"
  23. Call if you're going to be late for something
  24. Cuddle
Now, here's the more difficult way:

Have a conversation with your spouse and really listen to what they have to say. It takes time, patience, love, and energy to really listen and to talk. It ends of being a lot of fun and is perhaps the best way to show we love our spouse.

How do you show your spouse you love them? I would love to hear about it. Please share it with me in the comments. And don't forget to sign up for my monthly newsletter. It's pretty great.

Friday, May 17, 2013

What Choices Do You Make?

One of my little sisters (I have three) was married last year. She and her new husband are so cute together and are obviously in love with each other. They live in the same town as we do while he is pursuing his bachelor's degree and so we get together once a week for dinner. It gives us the opportunity to talk, get caught up on what's happening in our lives, and time for our boys to play with their aunt and uncle. Often we end up having some pretty fun and interesting conversations. This happened last week.

After we had finished eating and while we were cleaning off the dinner table my sister started talking about a new job that she and her husband have (they are resident directors at the college my brother-in-law attends). Their bosses (it's a married couple) are great and set a wonderful example for them of diligence and hard work and they really look up to them. However, one of the things they have noticed is that this couple has been married for a few years and don't really show their affection physically in public. My sister and her husband are confident that their bosses love each other, they just became worried that in another year or two they would be like their bosses and not be "touchy-feely" anymore. My sister then related that as they talked about this together (she and her husband) they realized that they didn't need to be worried because Cami and I are still VERY touchy-feely. She said it gave them hope and they realized that it's their choice how they want their marriage to be. I was impressed and proud of my little sister and brother-in-law. That realization can sometimes take years.

What our marriages are like is our choice. If we want it to be happy we need to choose that. If we want to be physically expressive (touchy-feely) we choose that too. It's up to us. What my marriage is like is up to my wife and I. We choose to be happy and touchy-feely. We choose to have an uplifting love.

What choices have you and your spouse made about how your marriage will be? Share with me in the comments. Please.

Photo Source

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The End (aka The Last 20 Acts)

Okay, so it's been seven weeks since I challenged myself to complete 100 acts of kindness for my wife (I actually finished last week so technically I did it in six weeks). It's been fun trying to think of ways to be kind to my sweet wife and help make her life easier. But now it's over. I'm not being nice to her anymore. Just kidding! Of course I'll continue to be kind to her. Hopefully I'll be even kinder to her than I was before I challenged myself because she deserves it. So, here's my list of the last twenty kind things I have done for my wife.

81. Brought my wife some really pretty and really fragrant lilacs and put them in the kitchen for her to brighten her day
82. Watched all of the "Lizzy Bennett Diaries" videos on YouTube with her (there are 100 videos so that alone could count as my 100 acts of kindness!)
83. I brought Cami a cupcake that one of my coworkers made (she said it was AMAZING)
84 and 85. On a Saturday Cami's friends called and invited her to go and see The Host at the local theater. Grocery shopping needed to be done that day. So I told her to go and she went and I did the grocery shopping. That's one nice thing. The second is that I did the grocery shopping with all three of our little boys (ages 5, 3, and 1) by myself.
86. While we were watching the Animal Planet show "Tanked" I brushed her hair (so it was like an hour and a half because we actually watched two episodes)
87. I got up early on a Monday morning and put the dishes away so that it would be done when Cami woke up
88. My wife's little sister came over one evening and we decided to watch a movie. I wanted to watch a good movie (something with explosions and mystery) but I ceded and we watched "27 Dresses" instead.
89. Often my coworkers will bring baked goods to the office to share. I try to always bring some home for Cami. I mentioned the cupcake earlier (#83). Other things I have brought home recently are pieces of cake, cookies, brownies, and I believe there was even rice crispy treats at some point.
90. Last week there was a supervisor training meeting. There were refreshments (that's the only way to get people to attend a meeting). Included in the refreshments were Costco muffins, our favorite! So I tucked two of them away and snuck them out of the meeting and brought them home to Cami.
91. I went to the store with our two oldest boys and bought stuff to make s'mores then we came home and shared them with their mom
92. I let Cami mow the lawn. I know, I know. This doesn't sound like a kind thing, however, you have to know Cami. She actually loves mowing the lawn. Yes, it is weird. But she does enjoy it. So sometimes I let her mow part of the lawn (obviously I can't let her do the whole thing or the neighbors will start to talk, otherwise I would).
93. Before Cami started mowing the lawn I emptied the grass clippings out of the bag so that she wouldn't have to
94. I texted her after one of her doctor's appointments (we're expecting our fourth child) that I thought she had sexy veins. Leave a comment if you would like to know the rest of the story. That way I'll know someone is actually reading my list. :)
95. When she accidentally signed our oldest son up for swimming lessons I was supportive and thanked her for taking such wonderful care of our children (it actually doesn't cost that much we just hadn't budgeted for it)
96. I made lunch for us, grilled cheese sandwiches, because she wasn't feeling well (she just needed to eat but sometimes she forgets to)
97. Because Cami is almost seven months pregnant and her self-image sometimes needs a little boost from time to time I try to help. A week or so ago she was having a particularly hard day so I informed her that I was going to prove that she wasn't as large as she was feeling (she compared herself to an elephant) and so I picked her up and went to carry her into the front room. However, as we rounded the first corner I slammed her elbow into the wall. That ended that kind act.
98. The other day she was feeling quite out of sorts and so I began to tease her pretty aggressively. Yes, I realize that doesn't sound like a nice thing to do but it actually brings her around faster than anything else, and she usually thanks me afterward.
99. We went to our local drive-in theater two weekend ago and I gave Cami the warmer blankets that we brought so that she wouldn't be cold. Which kind of doesn't seem fair since she walks around with a built-in personal furnace everyday, but that's beside the point.
100. Last, but certainly not least, I did 100 kind things for my wife above and beyond the usual!! Okay, this was supposed to be my last act but then Cami gently pointed out that this wasn't actually a hundred because it doesn't count. So...
101. I came up with a great Mother's Day present for Cami. I'm not going to say any more about this one as I plan to dedicate a post to it in the next week or so. But it's pretty cool.

Thank you for joining me in this adventure. One of the things I have learned is that I show my love for my wife by bringing her food. Interesting... Anyway, I challenge you to do something extra kind for your spouse today. Then, if you feel so inclined, share it with me in the comments. I love to hear about the wonderful things you're doing.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Shannon Hale, Stephanie Meyer, Brandon Mull, & Others

One of the best pieces of advice that my wife and I received when we were married was to read together. We have spent many hours cuddled up together with a good book. Before the kids came along and when they were still very little (because they are still little I needed to qualify it with VERY little) we could read a lot more. Now we have to wait until they are in bed or we get interrupted every two seconds. Even now we probably read five to six books a year together (in addition to scripture reading). I cannot recommend this enough. If you and your spouse like to read, READ TOGETHER. You don't have to read everything together but reading a book together out loud to one another does three things for your marriage:

  1. Forces you to spend time together. How can you read a book out loud to one another if you aren't in the same room?
  2. Creates shared experiences and memories. Here's an opportunity to discover new inside jokes and find fun ways to describe events. We read the Eragon books together and several times we have used examples from the books to describe things in real like like "the color of the nail polish she was wearing was just like Saphira's scales" (if you haven't read the Eragon series you're missing out).
  3. Gets you interacting with each other. We find that TV and movies, while we enjoy them, don't typically do that. While we're reading a book we'll often stop and try to guess where the story is going, who's the actual bad guy, how is the hero going to win, etc. It's fun to have those real conversations with your spouse.
I speak from experience as I make this recommendation to read together. I recognize that reading isn't necessarily everyone's favorite hobby (it just so happens that it is mine and Cami's) and if that's the case and you and your spouse hate reading (which my guess is that you don't since you're reading this right now) then reading together might not be the thing for you. But if you have an interest in reading, even if it's not a burning passion, give reading together a try.

Now, two more pieces of advice. 

First, don't give up the first time. The first book that Cami and I read together ("The Other Side of Heaven" by John H. Groberg) we barely got through it and it took us months to read it. It's not that long so it shouldn't have, however, despite it being a good book we just couldn't get into reading it together. It didn't quite engage us. So don't give up. Keep looking until you find the genre that is right for you. We have found that fantasy type fiction is what we are able to get into (it's weird too because most of it neither of us would typically read on our own but together we eat it up). From time to time we try to branch out again but it doesn't usually pan out. A few years ago we tried reading Pride and Prejudice together and I couldn't stay awake. :)

Second, if you're not enjoying the book that you're reading pick a different one. You don't have to finish a book. Again, with Pride and Prejudice I just couldn't stay awake, I wasn't engaged in the story, so we took it back to the library and checked out a new book to try it (I don't remember what that one was). Also, if you find that reading isn't for you don't sweat it. It's not for everyone. My wife and children love having waffles, pancakes, and french toast for dinner. I don't. That's okay.

If you're looking for suggestions of books to read with your spouse and you are interested in the list of books that Cami and I have read sign up for my free newsletter. In the next edition I will be including a list of the books that we've read that we really enjoyed and whole-heartedly recommend. 

I also welcome suggestions from you of books that we should read so leave me a comment with your recommendation.

Photos taken from respective official book websites

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Twilight Hours (and many in between)

Before my wife and I were married we sat down with my bishop (the leader of our local congregation) for some advice. During the interview he mentioned that there are times where he will look at his wife and suddenly feel overwhelmed with love and gratitude for her (at the time they had been married 20+ years). There was no rhyme or reason for those moments happening when they did, they just happened. He related that on several occasions he had awoken from sleep for whatever reason and looked over at his wife and the moonlight resting on her illuminated her facial features ever so softly and he would shed a tear or two because he could not believe that he could be so lucky and so blessed to be her husband. He promised us that if we lived our lives in accordance with the teachings of Jesus Christ and clung to one another we too would have moments like that.

Now, nearly seven years later, I have had experiences of my own like that. Moments where I look at my wife, and there is nothing unique or unusual about the moment, and suddenly feel consumed with love for her. I'm not sure why it has happened when it has and I have no idea how to replicate them. It just happens. But I am grateful that it does. Those moments, I think they are tender mercies granted me from God, are little treasures and help me remember why I married her, why I am still married to her, and why I want to be married to her forever. In those moments I silently recommit my heart and my life to her. The best part is it typically happens so quickly she doesn't even know it happened.

I love my wife. I am grateful and proud to be her husband.

Photo source

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Tanked One Evening

Cami and I normally put our children to bed around 7pm. After this they normally play in their room for another two hours and finally go quiet around 9pm. They aren't allowed to leave their bedroom unless they need to go to the bathroom but they can play until they crash. Last night we put them to bed and the noise stopped about 10 minutes later. We listened intently and didn't hear anything so from the hallway I commented "Wow. I can't believe they are all asleep already." Saying this normally gets a strong reaction like "WE AREN'T ASLEEP!" Instead I heard "I'm not sleeping yet Dad." It was our oldest son. "Are your brothers awake?" "I'll check" he responded. The answer came back that they were asleep so I felt prompted to invite him to spend some alone time with mom and dad. One of his favorite things is to watch television shows (we watch them on Netflix) that are educational and entertaining in nature. Dirty Jobs is one of our favorites. So I suggested we watch this new show I found recently called Tanked. It's about these two guys who own a fish tank company in Las Vegas and the tanks that they build. It's a pretty fun show. Well, our son loved it. At the end he expressed how much fun he had and told us that he loved us then went right to bed without a problem.

The reason I share this story is two fold. First, to express how grateful I am that I had that prompting to invite him to hang out with us. And, second, to remind us all that whether it is with our spouse, children, friends, parents, siblings, whomever, spending time with them is critical. Spending time shows you care, that you value someone. Spending time allows you to create tiny threads that solidify and strengthen your relationship. Spending time together is a small and simple thing that will help great things come to pass in your  relationships with others.

I challenge you to pick two people this week to spend more time with and then do it. It almost doesn't matter what you do (assuming it is wholesome and uplifting in nature) just that you do it. And please let me know how it goes. :)

Monday, May 6, 2013

Hundreds of Tiny Threads

"Chains do not hold a marriage together. It is threads, hundreds of tiny threads which sew people together through the years."  ~Simone Signoret (found here)

I saw this quote a little while back and have been reflecting on it since. I love the simplicity and truthfulness of the statement. It is the small and simple things that begin to bind two people together. Think about the beginning of your marriage. What did you and your spouse do together that began to bring you together? Was it watching a movie, going out to dinner, taking a class together in school, or going on a stroll together? I bet you made at least one memory together during that outing. When was your first inside joke? What was the first secret you shared with each other? The first trip you took together? Do you see what I'm getting at? Each one of these experiences created a tiny thread between the two of you that began to bind you together. Obviously, the more threads between you the stronger the bond. The threads are often just small and simple things and are actually pretty easy to form. Of course things like having children, buying a house, and starting a business also sew us together but those simply don't happen nearly as often. It's the laughing together, crying together, long talks, and shared moments that really begin to add up and are the stuff that hold a husband and wife together.

So, next time you are thinking about your marriage and what you can do to make it stronger and happier (e.g. better) remember that it's the small and simple things that sew us together. Focus on the tiny threads.

What are some of your favorite tiny threads that tie you and your spouse together?

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Friday, May 3, 2013

The 7 Year Itch

On July 8th I will have been married to my beautiful wife for seven years! We've been told that we would be lucky if we made it through our first year. We did. Next we heard that 3 years is difficult and the odds were we wouldn't make it. We did. After that it was said that 5 years was unlikely. We made it. Now we hear that  after 7 years you get tired of one another and have an incredibly strong, almost overpowering desire to be with someone new. Well, we haven't gone through our seventh year (obviously as we are about to start it) but we have decided that we don't believe in the "seven year itch". Here's what we've done to make sure that the 1 year, 3 year, and 5 year milestones  have gone and gone uneventfully and what we're doing to make sure that the 7 year milestone does as well.

  1. We love each other like crazy
  2. We tell each other that we love each other dozens of times a day (in fact, often to fill a silence we'll just blurt out "I love you" and the other will respond in like fashion. Sometimes we even compete to see who can say it the most in a day).
  3. We hold hands
  4. We kiss (all the time according to our oldest son)
  5. We hug
  6. We pray together at least twice a day
  7. We read scriptures together daily
  8. We set aside one evening a week to hold "Family Home Evening," a night where we gather as a family and pray, sing some songs, talk about scripture stories, play together, and sometimes eat a treat afterward
  9. We attend our church services weekly
  10. We go on dates together, just the two of us
  11. We laugh together...A LOT
  12. We talk to each other
  13. We remind ourselves that our first commitment is to God and our second commitment is to each other
  14. We NEVER use the word "divorce." I just asked our oldest son, he's five, if he knows what divorce means. He looked at me confused and said "No, why? What does it mean?" If we don't talk about it we don't think about it.
  15. We keep an eternal perspective. We want to be together forever. No matter what happens today we want to be together tomorrow. Keeping that in mind it's much easier to get through today's troubles with our marriage intact.
Am I worried about the 7 year itch? Nah. 

I would love to hear from those of you that have already passed the seven year mark and your experiences. Please share them in the comments!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Just a Phone Call Away

I mentioned last time that I was in Atlanta, Georgia for a conference last week. I enjoy going to conferences, especially when I have have the opportunity to speak during one of the sessions which I did this time. It's fun to see new places, explore new cities, meet new people, and learn about different things. It's especially fun when I get to take Cami with me like I did last month when we went to Austin, Texas. This time, however, Cami wasn't able to join me as is usually the case (unfortunately). This is the hardest part about traveling for me: being away from my wife (I miss our children too but that is a close second to missing Cami). However, each time I travel I am reminded what a wonderful time in the history of the world we live in. I am so grateful for technology, especially my cell phone and email.

While I am on these trips (which happen three or four times a year) Cami and I are able to speak to each other every day. I get to talk to our boys. I call my family each morning as I am getting ready to leave the hotel room to participate in the days' activities and we pray together. Cami and I text each other sweet (and sometimes provocative) messages throughout the day. We often send emails to one another during the day as an extra way of surprising the other with some sweet reminder that "I'm thinking about you." And in the evening we call each other and talk about our day, sometimes for a couple of hours, read scriptures together, and pray once more. I'm thankful that this technology allows us to express our love for each other and stay connected despite the distance between us.

How have you and your spouse used technology to stay connected? I would love to hear about it. Please leave a comment telling me about it.
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