9+ Ways to Give Back This Christmas Season

9 + Ways to Give Back this Christmas Season

Yesterday I got the pre-emptive winter blues when I realized Christmas was only two weeks away, which means my favorite season is almost over.

I love the Christmas season for so many reasons: I love the music, the movies, the busy atmosphere, the holiday parties, studying the Advent – all of it! It’s easy to get bogged down with the commercialization of Christmas. It is easy to lose sight of why we celebrate Christmas, and sharing joy with those around us.

One big way to spread Christmas cheer is by getting outside yourself and giving back to charities! Today I’ve paired up with Tiffany from Endless Bliss while she does Blogmas, and we are teaming up to share several ways to give back during this Christmas season!

9 + Ways to Give Back this Christmas Season

Give Your Money

Send a Shoebox

Operation Christmas Child

My home church does Operation Christmas Child every year. I loved to pick out a child and an age and pack a shoe box full of goodies. It’s a fun, inexpensive way to give back some joy and good into the world!

Local ministries that support children and teens of low income families/inmates 

Check with your nearest food pantry, homeless rescue mission for a program like Angel Christmas Tree to bring joy to kids and teenagers in your city! My small group each pitched in a determined amount of money and went shopping to sponsor a kid in our local area. It was not only a fun night of shopping, but it also was a great opportunity to give back into our community!

Give a goat

Plan International

With Plan International, there are so many ways to give a family hope. You can support a family by buying a pair of goats for $110! There are several other options in the link above

Send kids to school for a year

International Rescue Committee

Support a young woman by sending her to school for a year. Education is a primary element to abdicate poverty in rural areas. When a young girl has provision to allow her to still go to school, she is less likely to become a child bride, and more likely to build a sustainable business for her family.

Mushayamunda Christian Development Foundation

MCDF is our family’s ministry in Zimbabwe that feeds orphans and widows. You can sign up to sponsor a child’s schooling fees for just a little over $100!

Support a Refugee Family

Hope for the Holidays

Can you imagine not living in your own country, your own home, not being able to work or understand the language? I have good friends in Louisville, KY who have become involved with a local refugee resettlement program. While I couldn’t find a holiday program specificially for this program in Louisville, KY, I did find a Hope for the Holidays program through the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services. The deadline is December 13th (today!) so if you’re like for an activity tonight – it’s the perfect fit. 🙂

9 + Ways to Give Back this Christmas Season

Give Your Time

If money is tight this time of year, there are still several ways to give back to your community without spending money!

-Go Caroling at the local nursing home, jail, or in your neighborhood!

-Make homemade Christmas cards to send to widows and widowers in your community.

-Bake goodies and ding dong ditch your neighbors. Leave the food on the doorstep!

-Invite people into your home for a Christmas dinner.

For more ways to give back, check out Tiffany’s blog!

What are ways you can give back to your community this Christmas season?

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Make Time to Be Present w/ JORD Watches

wooden watch

With smart phones acting as extended appendages, it is easy to become too reliant on technology. When we want to know when electricity become a household commodity, we have the answer on our phones. When we want to make our commute to work shorter, we plug our phones in to listen to a podcast or our most recent Spotify playlist. But especially when I want to know the time, I check my iPhone. On any given day, if you check my battery uasge, you will see that I use the most battery just by hitting the lock screen. If I had a dollar per the amount of times I opened my lock screen just to check the time, I could treat us all at an all-you-can-eat Brazillian steakhouse.

Checking our phone asbsent-mindedly has become a compulsive habit for many of us. So during the holidays, I try to stow my phone away more often so that I can be present around my family and friends. I’ve found the most simple way to do this is by hiding my phone deep in the recesses of my purse so I’m not tempted to pull it out.

However, if you’re like Mr. M and me, you may have more than one holiday engagement to go to. While it is important that we are ever present when we are were we are, it is also important (to me) that we be right on time for the next engagement, and that requries some time management on our end. Rather than continuously check my phone for the time – and as a result, become distracted by whatever is on my lock screen, I make a habit of instead discreetly checking my watch.

However, when I have a new and fancy watch decorating my wrist, it’s hard to be too discreet.

men's wooden watch

When my husband said he wanted a new watch for Christmas, I knew that the JORD watch would be a perfect gift. These gorgeous wooden watches are the perfect accessory to accentuate any holiday outfit, whether you are dressing up for the Christmas Eve service or opening presents in your pajamas!

I picked out this Frankie Zebrawood & Champagne JORD watch knowing it would look amazing on Mr. M, but I could steal it on occasion and rock this cool watch, too. (Much like I like to steal his dress socks.)

women's wooden watch

If you’re like me and still scrambling for some last minute gift ideas, these unique watches make a perfect stocking stuffer for your significant other, brother, mom, or any family member!

Amazingly enough, this 100% natural, finished wood watch is water resistant, meaning you don’t have to worry about removing the watch before you help your mom out with those post-Christmas Eve Dinner dishes.

Embrace the tradition of family time around the holidays, ditch your phone, and embrace time well spent with your loved ones while wearing this mesmerizing JORD watch.

JORD wooden watch

Purchase it between now and December 19th to get 25% off using my coupon code.


Wooden Wristwatch


 

 

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4 Anniversary Questions to Ask Your Spouse

4 Questions to Ask Your Spouse on Your Anniversary

On Sunday Mr. M and I will be celebrating our first year or marriage. He has planned a fun weekend for us, so I’m gonna need y’all to pray hard that this snow that is coming down doesn’t stick/doesn’t make the roads icy because hell have no fury like a woman who has a knot in her shoulder and is scheduled for a couples massage and it gets cancelled because of icy roads.

That being said, it is snowing on the day of our Christmas party, so how very quintessential.

Last night Mr. M and I went out to dinner and I came armed with a list of questions to ask him about our marriage. We’re very talkative people, so we only got through four of them. Throughout the year I hope to share more questions to ask your spouse as Mr. M and I go through them!

I decided rather than just posting a list of questions, that I would give y’all a peek into our lives and into our marriage. I have loved this first year of marriage, and I know that it is a result of the community in our lives covering our marriage in prayer.

Some questions that we didn’t get to that I would have loved to ask is:

What has been the hardest thing about marriage this year?
What was the biggest sacrifice you felt you had to make this year?

I’m gonna go ahead and answer that second one for you.

The biggest sacrifice I had to make this year was changing out my favorite overly fluffy comforter. When Mr. M and I came home from our king sized bed honeymoon, we crowded each other in a queen. Thankfully, we’ve had a year to adjust. And by adjust I mean I have taken up half the bed, all the blankets, and Mr. M gets a corner and the sheets.

But during the first few weeks in our bed, I noticed that we both would wake up drenched in sweat. Now Mr. M likes our bedroom to be 98 degrees where I like it a cool 67 because I sweat like crazy in my sleep. I realized that maybe my fluffy – feels like you’re sleeping with angels – down comforter was making us too hot, so I switched with the comforter in our guest bedroom. It was the first night we did not wake up in a sweaty mess.

I was so disappointed. Sometimes I’m even tempted to nap in the guest room just so I can surround myself with my fluffy down comforter.

But I digress. Here we have three great questions to ask your spouse on your anniversary. My answers are italicized and Mr. M’s are in the regular font. (What is the regular font even called? Sans Serif?)

4 Questions to Ask Your Spouse on Your Anniversary

What do you recall our first married fight being about? 

On the first night of our honeymoon. . . I thought we were being overcharged in our car rental, and I was trying to figure it out all the way to our hotel. And you frustrated because you just wanted to eat and not talk about it until after the honeymoon and I just wanted to get it straightened out. Do you remember that? I think it was our first fight.

I don’t think we fought though. I was trying to be really nice, but we can count that as our first fight.

And then you got really frustrated.

I did get really frustrated. I was hungry and just wanted to go to Red Robin and eat a hamburger! I had hardly eaten all weekend.

You got hangry.

I got hangry. 

What has been your favorite thing about marriage this year?

You’ve asked me that 100 times, and I’ll say the same thing: companionship. It’s like I’m just living with my best friend. I don’t have to be alone at night and I get to wake up next to you. Having a companion is having someone that’s steadfast with you in sickness and health. No matter how bad life might get you’re there with me.

I would also say getting to do life with you; you’re my best friend. So I guess the phrase would also be companionship, also. I’ve really enjoyed – this is going to sound cheesy and super Christian-y – I really have enjoyed doing stuff for you. Doing the little things for you, like turning on the car for you this morning and surprising you with a warm, defrosted car. And making dinner for you. I’ve enjoyed serving you.

I’ve noticed.

And that’s very anti-feminist of me. 

Yeah it is!

You’re my best friend, so I like to do things that make you smile. 

What was the biggest adjustment to living together? 

I had to think about you first. Were you meaning practical or . . .

I was thinking practical, but you can go spiritual too, if you want to.

The things is, it’s hard to thing of a big adjustment because spiritually, we prepared ourselves for marriage. Even though we hadn’t made the covenant yet, we had the commitment that we were going to be married, so we acted like we were married. When we moved in together after the wedding it wasn’t like I was sleeping and someone poured cold water on me. We prepared ourselves.

Yeah, I felt like waking up next to you was what was supposed to have happened for the last twenty four years. Wow that’s super cheesy. 

When it comes to biggest adjustment, it’s hard to find one. I would say making sure we’re on the same page in everything. If I want to spend something or go somewhere, I want to check with you to say “Hey do we have anything going on?” When we were dating, I could do whatever I want, but being married we have to consider each other.

So I think for me, in the biggest adjustment practically to living with each other – I would echo your sentiment in making plans without checking with you first. Unless it’s during the day, then I can just do whatever. I was expecting us to argue more about the way we run our house, but that was kind of a seamless transition, except I don’t close all the doors and keep all the blinds open.

And you leave the keys in the door.

One. . . year. . . later.

I’ve just given up.

I don’t stay up late anymore. We go to bed earlier, so that’s an adjustment. 

What is something new that we have learned about each other?

How do I put this in a good way. . . You’re more sacrificial, conscientious, thoughtful and giving than I would have ever imagined.

How is that bad?

I didn’t want you to think I didn’t think that about you already. It’s just more than I imagined. For example, you take joy in doing little things for me.

Let me try to think about something else I learned about my wife. . . .Your hood rat music. I knew that already. This upper class girl is like an inner white hood rat wanna be Cookie Lyons girl. Sometimes I enjoy it and sometimes I’m like what are you doing. But yeah, you’re more giving than I thought you were. You seek unity. You secede in a lot of fights, even though you’re right. You die a lot. Sometimes I’m alive.

*As we sat down at dinner last night, we ran into a pastor that Mr. M knows. Mr. M asked him if he had any marriage advice and the pastor said, “The only marriage that will work is between two dead people. You both have to die to yourself every day. You have to put the other first.*

Well number one, I was shocked to discover that you liked dramatic TV shows. 

Yep. I’m like my dad. You notice my dad watches them, right?

Mhhm. And the more I spend time with you the more I am like, “I am married to his father.” So I was surprised by your affinity for dramatic TV shows – even reality TV. And also, you’re a lot more organized than I thought you were. I didn’t think you were very organized when we were dating, but now you are. I don’t know if it’s work or just that you’re growing up. 

What are some examples?

Like if I clean our bedroom you’re going to keep it clean. 

This is the funny thing about me: it’s a godo thing and a bad thing. If a room is clean, I’ll keep it clean. If it’s dirty, I’ll keep it dirty. I maintain. Maybe my side is clean and your side is dirty. I’m like oh well!

You’re also very sensitive towards me, too. I remember I wanted to stop and get water before we went on a date and you said no. 

I thought you had phrased it like, “Do you want any water?”

No, I had specifically said, “I’m thirsty can we stop and get some water” and you said no.

I didn’t just buy water. I never bought water.

Flash forward to marriage, and one morning I woke up with cinnamon roll cravings and you drove down the dollar store to get cinnamon rolls! So you’re very sacrificial as well. 

You’re my bride. I’ve gotta take care of you and make you happy.

_______________________________________________

Isn’t he the sweetest? He also buys me water now, but that’s mostly because I have an extraordinarily dry mouth and I guess it saves him from my halitosis.

What are some questions you would ask your spouse on your anniversary? Have anything to add to the list? 

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8 Books to Prepare You for Marriage

8 books to prepare for marriage

Marriage is AWESOME. And it’s work.

Donald Miller once compared marriage to a marathon. You don’t just wake up one day and decide that you want to run a marathon without training.

In the same way, you don’t just wake up one day and decide you want to get married without training. Great ways to train for marriage is by talking to and being mentored by people who are already married, meet with a pre-marital counselor, and also by reading books.

Marriage is more than just living together and binge watching your mutual guilty pleasure show. Marriage involves several different aspects of intimacy. I’ve broken three big ones down for today’s post: spiritual intimacy, practical marriage, and physical intimacy. Today I’m sharing several books that I read before and during my first year of marriage.

This post contains affiliate links meaning that if you click/make a purchase through those links you are supporting Hugs & Lattes! 

Spiritual Intimacy

Sacred Marriage – Gary Thomas

I read Sacred Marriagewhen I was in college, and definitely picked it back up the summer Mr. M and I got engaged. Gary Thomas explains marriage as a union that reflects our relationship with Christ. He asks, “What if God designed marriage to make us  holy more than to make us happy?” Ouch. But so good! It is so easy to fall into the assumption that marriage is an avenue towards happiness; but anyone who has been married more than a few weeks could tell you that your spouse does not define your happiness. While Mr. M makes me incredibly happy, he also encourages and pushes me to be a holier follower of God. Sacred Marriage showed me that a healthy Christian marriage involves sacrifice, vulnerability, and keeping God at the center of your marriage.

The Meaning of Marriage – Tim Keller

It took me a long time to get through The Meaning of Marriage due the density of of Tim Keller’s wisdom. Plus, I’m more of a feeler and Tim Keller isn’t a super emotional writer. However, I learned a lot about the sanctity and practicality of serving our spouses in marriage.

You & Me Forever – Francis Chang

When Mr. M and I picked up You and Me Forever, I thought I was reading a book about making a life long commitment to your spouse. However, this book is so much MORE than that. Francis Chan transcends marriage here on earth, and talks about how our marriage prepares us for heaven. Similarly to Gary Chapman, he states that marriage is not here to make us happy. Nor is marriage something we use to serve ourselves; instead, our marriage is a ministry opportunity to serve the world and bring people closer to Christ. This book is convicting. And intense.

8 Books to Prepare You for Marriage

Practical Marriage

For Men Only/For Women Only – Shaunti & Jeff Feldhan 

I totally read both the “For Women” only and “For Men Only” books because a) I’m a reading fiend and b) I wanted to know what Shaunti and Jeff had to say. For Men Only/For Women Only is a basic beginner “How-to” for marriage. I loved the realistic approach it takes towards marriage. It uses anecdotal research to explain why we are the way we are, and how to best love our spouse in a way that will cross those perspectives.

Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married – Gary Chapman 

I will read any book I can get my hand on by Gary Chapman. He has another great book called The Five Love Languages; I haven’t read The Five Love Languages yet, but I have taken this test multiple times throughout my relationship. Good news: I’m scored high in all five langauges. Does that make me easily lovable or high maintenance? Who knwos. But the Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married breaks down marriage in all its practicality. While marriage can be love and flowers, it is also mundane and interspersed with occasional conflict. But in a healthy conflict, Dr. Chapman tells us that “conflicts have the potential of teaching us how to love, support, and encourage each other.” I would also recommend his book, 101 Questions to Ask Before You Get Enaged!

8 Books to Prepare You for Marriage

Physical Intimacy

OK so I’ve ranked this in order of . . . detail, let’s say. I’ve never gotten into the subject of physical intimacy much on the blog, because my dad reads my blog, and so do some of my Zimbabwean Aunties – and sometimes they pass my blog posts onto my awesome Mother in Law. But if you want to meet me for a cup of coffee, I love to talk about and celebrate the gift of intimacy within marriage, so we can dive deeper there. 😉

Darling – Aanna Greer

I’ve been a follower of Aanna’s blog for a couple of years. I more specifically followed her series, “Extra Virgin” where she dished on marriage and sex in a healthy, celebratory way. So when she released her book Darling, she was gracious enough to send me her book in exchange for a blog review.

I loved how Darling is laid out. She has sectioned her book into three sections: For Single Darlings, Engaged Darlings, and Married Darlings. Aana’s objective is to celebrate female sexuality in a godly way. Reading Darling is like sitting down with an older sister who is dishing all the details of sex.

The Single Darling section starts out with stating God’s design and purpose for sex, and then goes into understanding and caring for your body. She talks about everything from periods to infections to gynecology appointments.

Since I was already married when I picked up Darling, I focused on the Engaegd Darlings and Married Darlings section. This lady is packed full of so much wisdom! I wish I had this book when I was engaged. She gives amazing practical advice on preparing your body and your mind for your honeymoon.

In the Married Darlings section, she breaks it down to the basics, understanding sexual arousal, true sex appeal, and more. I love that Aanna gets real about sex, but also gets real about sexual intimacy. Sexual intimacy is more than having passioante sex, but it is about the intimacy you and your spouse carry throughout the day. (Women are crockpots, anyone?) One of my favorite lines from Darling says, “Instead of passion, make intimacy the plumb line in your sex life.”

Sheet Music – Dr. Kevin Leman 

My Aunt sent me Sheet Musicabout a month before Mr. M and I got married last year. I highly recommend Sheet Music as a honeymoon book! While we did read a couple chapters before we got married, Dr. Leman says to wait to read chapters 4 – 16 until the honeymoon because he gets detailed in discussing all aspects of sexual intimacy! While Mr. M and I have hardly ever finish books we read together, we made it all the to chapter 14, which is a good run for us.

Good Loving – Dr. Melissa Jones

If Sheet Music is the book to read on your honeymoon, Good Loving is the book to read after your honeymoon. (Besides, who has time to read two books on their honeymoon?) Since Good Loving is written by a woman, she goes into great detail for the ladies. I felt like I was reading a Christian Cosmopolitan magazine reading this book. While she covers some topics I don’t necessarily feel comfortable or agree with, I appreciate that she brings so much insight into sex!

What books have you found helpful to prepare you for marriage? Tell me in the comments below!

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Marriage: 6 More Things That Surprised Me

6 More Things that Surprised Me About Marraige

Last night I got deep into the sentimentals when I thought about the most amazing bachelorette party my sister threw for me. A year ago yesterday we were partying at a bookstore in Asheville, the most unique place to throw a bachelorette party, but perfectly me. It really was the perfect way to start off wedding week, so I am feeling ALL the feels and remembering all the great mems.

To commemorate anniversary week, I am sharing all things wedding this week. Six months ago I shared 6 things that surprised me about marriage. Mr. M and I can hardly believe we’ve been calling each other husband and wife for a whole year. I can honestly say that our first year of marriage has been BETTER than our years of dating.

We Fight Less Now That We’re Married

Mr. M and I had a couple mentor us our first year of dating. They encouraged us to be as open and honest in our communication as we could be, and so we did that. And we fought. . . a lot. I’m sure it was a culmination of things – being in college, being in grad school, and trying to communicate through two different perspectives and ideals made for a rough and rocky beginning. However, I am so thankful we learned how to communicate early on in our dating period, because that has carried on into marriage.

It also helped that we had the “newlywed” conversations before we were even engaged. We talked about our dating history, our future, whether we wanted kids, where our hearts aligned with what ministries, etc. After a counseling session during our engagement, we talked about how difficult it would be had we not discussed all the necessary deep aspects of marriage beforehand, but because we were equipped with the knowledge and communication, it made our first year of marriage easier than our years of dating. (Being free to make out all we want helps to.)

How Busy We Can Be

When I dreamt of marriage as a single lady, I thought we would spend every night entangled in each other’s arms. And while we do that some times, half the time we collapse onto the couch with Netflix. Mr. M and I try to stay intentional with our date nights, but there have definitely been seasons over the last year where it has been a leftovers and Netflix night. With our work schedules + our social calendar, we stay pretty busy. Thank goodness we are both extroverts.

How Much I Love my In-Laws

This is not as much of a surprise as it something I’m incredibly thankful for. Before I met Mr. M, I worried that one day I wouldn’t love my in-laws. I am incredibly close with my parents, and my parents’ parents – both sets of my grandparents – are best friends.  I always hoped that my husband’s parents and my parents would be best friends. Proximity is not on our side with this one, but my family and Mr. M’s family love each other, and we have even celebrated Thanksgiving together for the past two years. It’s been the best. It is a great feeling to honestly say that I love my in-laws like I do my own parents.

Marrying into another culture can be scary on the forefront, especially when it involves relationships with the parents. Having my mother and father in law and entire M clan embrace me and teach me their customs has been amazing.

6 More Things that Surprised Me About Marriage

How Many Adventures We’ve Been On

Mr. M and I want to avoid the stigma of being a boring married couple. And while we definitely have our introverted – be in bed by 10pm nights, we have had so many adventures this year.This summer I did a mini travel series on the blog, because there has not been one month since we got married (or even engaged!) where Mr. M and I have stayed in one place. It has been exhausting and a great adventure. How do we do it? Basically we have friends all over the country + air bnb’s are my jam.

The New Dreams We Share

Couples always talk about how fun it is to dream together, and it’s true! I love having a marriage partner who pushes me to dream, and dreams alongside me. We both passionate about our own things, but they often align with each other which makes the dreaming process fun. Mr. M is a big scale dreamer, and I’m more realistic, so he challenges me and pushes me to open my mind to bigger dreams. It’s scary as all get out.

How Deep Our Love Goes

If Mr. M and I have learned to love each other more deeply in year one, I can’t imagine what it will look like when we have children, and go through different seasons of life together. While I try to stay light hearted on the blog, there have definitely been unique challenges Mr. M and I face. Rather than look at these challenges as obstacles, we have used them to draw closer to each other and the Lord. Mr. M always reminds me that we are on the same time.

6 More Things that Surprised Me About Marriage

 

 

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