God was never “removed”

Fellow Christians… it is time to stop using the “don’t be surprised when tragedies like this happen because God isn’t allowed in schools” line.

It may sound like a witty remark to make at the time but in no way is this attitude or perception even remotely Christ-like. Are we so small-minded to think that just because government schools can’t show a preference for a particular faith that God has somehow been “systematically” removed from the schools? That certainly isn’t the God I know. The God I know is so much bigger and greater than anything on this planet that no human policy could ever “keep him out”.

God was not only in Sandy Hook, but God was and is in every school. Public, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, schools in North America, schools in Africa, schools in Europe, and yes, schools run by the Taliban. God is everywhere. God loves everyone. He can never be “removed”.

If you claim to be Christian but have those kind of sentiments – how do you explain the shooting on that Amish school in 2006? Wasn’t God extremely present in that school? How do you explain the fact that several victims of Sandy Hook were Christian and came from active church-going God-loving families? God wasn’t “systematically removed” from schools. Let’s not kid ourselves by thinking we have that kind of power.

But besides that… having the “don’t be surprised when tragedies like this happen because God isn’t allowed in schools” attitude is un-Christian because, well, that’s just so NOT what Jesus would say. If the gospel has revealed anything about Jesus it is that he was the most loving and NON-self-righteous being in the entire cosmos. Jesus would have rushed to the victims side and asked “My heart breaks with yours! What can I do!?” not exclaim “See what happens when you don’t invite me over?”

Furthermore, I don’t remember a single story about Jesus’ life where he was concerned about changing the policies of the secular Roman government and education institutions. As far as I recall he spent the great majority of his ministry demonstrating unbridled love to the sick, poor, and social outcasts. He was far more concerned about restoring humankind’s relationship with God than making sure the Roman government and religiously pious all agreed with him.

The bottom line is this… God doesn’t “allow” these things to happen. God gave us a free choice – and free choice involves good, not-so-good, and downright evil options. When evil entered the world, the world became broken, justice became broken. And because justice is broken, innocent people tragically pay the price for other people’s evil actions. It will be like this for as long as this world exists. It is awful, it is unfair, and it absolutely breaks God’s heart. But amidst such terrible pain, he is still with us. He will never leave us.

So I beg you, if you claim to be a Christian, start being Christ-like. Lose the smug “Tsk tsk. Isn’t it awful what happens when God isn’t ‘allowed’ in schools, and NOW they hold prayer vigils?” attitude and start extending actions and feelings of nothing less than raw compassion and love. Stop wasting energy trying to convince secular governments and schools that they need to “let God back in” and start spending time actually outside of our churches talking and doing things for people who need love. We are not supposed to be concerned with kingdoms on earth. We are here to show love and compassion. It’s what Jesus would do.

PS  – Mike Huckabee I’m talking to you

SITS Day is Here!

I am thrilled to wake up and see my SITS Day has come!

SITS Day, feature blogger, Cheryl Duivesteyn

What is SITS Day you ask? It’s the very awesome privilege of being the Featured Blogger on the Women Get Social blogging network website. Essentially, SITS Girls is a 40,000+ bloggers strong network which promotes the idea of women supporting other women through commenting and following each others blogs.

It’s a great opportunity to garner support for your blog and also find a lot of other awesome online friends! I’ve been trying to convince SITS to bring one of their infamous “Bloggy Boot Camps” up to Canada…. we’ll see if the day comes!

Thanks to all the SITS Girls for stopping by!

Modern Take on Thrifty Finds

After much admiration of my friend Julie from We so Thrifty, I decided to try my own hand at re-purposing thrift store finds into modern vintage-y home decor. There are a few reasons why I’ve fallen in love with thrifting:

  1. It’s easily justifiable to the hubby. Before I started perusing thrift stores I often frequented box stores which easily resulted in shopping trips that went a little over the initial estimated budget. Now, I come home with $20 finds that I can quite truthfully claim “would have cost us over $100 new Howie!” In a slick fashion I explain how I actually save us money by purchasing these things. (No need to question whether I needed it at all) Conveniently my purchases never quite add up to what Howie spends on a round of golf a week so all is good!
  2. It’s a thrilling treasure hunt. I can’t deny that the ability to transform thrift store finds brings a measure of excitement to my life. The end result of using your own two hands and creativity to make an ugly, dated piece into a cool, personalized chic piece brings more satisfaction than any box-store purchase ever did. It becomes a sort of personal challenge as to how much better you can make something.
  3. It adds character to your space. People notice these things when they come into your home, they start conversations about these transformed pieces and they are usually very impressed. Quirky, off-beat thrift store finds definitely add something special to your home. I always like to wonder who previously owned these things and what kind of stories they have.

And now, without further ado, here are a couple thrift store finds I’ve recently re-finished!

BEFORE: A dark, old, vanity

AFTER: A country-chic vanity at our front entrance, new shade, new hardware. $40

BEFORE: A creepy, 1982 family portrait

AFTER: A collage of maps and entry tickets from our Mediterranean honeymoon. $3

Have you ever re-finished thrift store finds?

Brave enough to try?

 

 

Valentine’s Day Redeemed

I’m usually not a fan of Valentine’s Day.

Up until this year Valentine’s Day (or “Non-Long-Distance Boyfriends Shower Girlfriends with Cheesy Hallmark Gifts and Make Lonely People Feel Bad Day” as I liked to call it) was a general disappointment because I was usually 2,000 km away from my beau and he self-admittedly was not the best at arranging mail-delivered tokens of love ahead of time.

For a few years I would wait with guarded anticipation that maybe Howie would have remembered to send a card or something, perhaps arrange a Tele-Floral delivery, only to be slightly disappointed when February 14 came and went and no such delivery was made. In his defence, I would say that 80% of the time he managed to have a card delivered within a few days after the holiday, but there were a few occasions when no such delivery ever happened. And then there was that one, awful, Valentine’s Day when he tried to re-use a card I had given him and pass it off as his own. But we don’t speak of that anymore.

Much to my relief, as our relationship has grown, so too, has Howie’s ability to pre-arrange thoughtful tokens of love. This year, I was absolutely blown away when on February 13, (the day before St. Valentine’s) Howie presented me with not one, but two lovely, professionally-wrapped gifts. Did I wait for the 14th to open them? Of course not. You are dealing with a couple who opened all their Christmas gifts on December 21st.

The card was brand new, very sweet, and contained a bonus gift: a back-rub with “no strings attached.” The second gift was a really nice little book that I had expressed interest in, and the third gift, well, let’s just say Howie has outdone himself.

Best Valentine's Day gift ever.

THE ENTIRE COLLECTION OF HARRY POTTER DVDS.

That’s right. My husband is awesome.

He explained that he saw a ton of high school kids buying all kinds of cheesy crap* at the mall and wondered if I would want that too. He decided that no, the cheesy crap wouldn’t cut it this year.

While I’m not opposed to flowers and chocolates, I can’t help but agree that nothing says “I love you” quite like 20+ hours of British wizarding adventures.

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

* Cheesy crap: Howie’s name for flowers, chocolates, stuffed animals holding stuffed hearts or smaller versions of stuffed animals, poems, jewellery, and other gifts of a “pansy” nature.

Disclaimer: I sincerely apologize to anyone whom I have now turned Valentine’s Day into “Millennial Wife Brags About Her Awesome Harry Potter Gift from her Non-Long-Distance Husband  and Makes Lonely People Feel Bad Day.”

What was the best (or worst) Valentine’s Day gift you ever received?

Featured on Lesley Carter’s blog!

Yay!!

I am just tickled pink this morning to wake up and see that Lesley Carter decided to feature my Peru adventure on her AMAZING travel blog!

This chick is seriously inspiring, I’ve spent hours meandering through her adventures on her blog. I highly recommend you do the same!

Check out the post here. And while you’re there, check out some of Lesley’s other amazing adventures, you won’t be disappointed 🙂

Interested in volunteering in Peru?
We did it through a student-led organization called Students Offering Support. They arranged and connected us with the local Peruvian agency Awaiting Angels. It was a beautiful partnership with two exceptional organizations!

Here’s a little more about Lesley:

“Traveling and extremes have encompassed my life for 30 years; from white-water rafting, skydiving, paragliding, bungee jumping, rock climbing, caving, swimming with dolphins, swimming with beluga whales, and base jumping, I’ve tried every “bucketlist” adventure I could imagine. My wedding day in Jamaica even included a little bit of rock climbing followed by a trapeze act in my gown. Now that I’m 4 months pregnant, though, a new type of adventure awaits. I’ve been to 33 countries and I have no intentions of stopping there. Although I think I’m going to need a baby backpack for my new way of travel, lots of adventures are still just around the corner.”

Girls Night Gone Wild

Now that my pounding head has sub-sided I simply must blog about girls night. In one word, it was epic.

Even when married or in a serious relationship, millennial gals need to have their girl time. If we don’t, we turn into gloomy, moody trolls who start to nit-pick even the slightest of offences from their partners. Moderate, occasional separation from your spouse is absolutely one the keys to successful marriages. Otherwise, you go crazy.

Now, onto girls night.

The evening didn’t start off so well because as a one-car couple, I had to wait for Howie to finish work before I could even start the one-hour drive to my friends. Incidentally, I realized that I would have no time to stop at the store by the time I did get the car to pick up the appetizers I promised to bring. Goat cheese, baguettes, asiago and artichoke dip, fruit and veggie trays… I had big plans to impress with my apps.

Instead, I realized that I would have to improvise with what I did have on hand in order to get there as fast as possible. You know you have good friends when you can send the following message:

Text to friend “Can you ask the ladies if it’s ok if I bring just a half drunk bottle of wine, half eaten goat cheese and half eaten jar of salsa I have in my cupboards?! I have no access to shop without the car and howie’s not home yet, I’ll make it up next time.

Friend: “Hahahaha. Ya I’m sure that’s fine.”

Text to friend: “Oh nevermind. The cheese has gone mouldy.”

Then I sent the following picture to illustrate the spread I was about to bring:

Worst appetizer spread ever

Text to friend: “Please don’t judge me. Also, please ignore the rotting bananas in the background. I swear it’s for banana bread.”

Wow. I could learn a thing or two about guest etiquette. I’m pretty sure a plastic bag of potatoes would have been less offensive than this appetizer “spread.”

By the time I got there the wine and laughter were flowing and we were like giddy pre-teens who hadn’t seen eachother in “like for-EVER.” Only now instead of talking about classes, last weekend’s party and boyfriends, we talk about work, husbands and …. husbands. Then the night took a turn for the unexpected. And a special garage sale bargain was brought out, DREAM LINE.

For those of you who have no clue what Dream Line is I suggest you watch the following commercial immediately. Once the tears of laughter have been wiped away please continue.

Personally, I'd take the nerd. He most likely owns a multi-million dollar software company while ol' blondie is still pumping gas

Unfortunately, we couldn’t actually play the game because no one in the world owns a cassette player anymore. So we did the second best thing and decided to examine the characters and match them up ourselves. It was an extremely arduous decision-making process but ultimately this is who we deemed were the dreamiest couples of the game:

The next morning we realized that we definitely don’t have the stamina to stay up till 4:30am quite like we used to. But that’s ok, because here’s the great thing about nights out with the girls when you are 25 and married:

  • You have so much more material to gossip about when you live with a man
  • You never get ID’d when you buy wine anymore
  • You appreciate your friendships more when you don’t live in the same city
  • You hang out in modern, clean homes which don’t contain the cockroaches, mildew and foreign exchange roommates who leave pistachio shells in your furniture.
  • You have jobs and money to afford nights out without going into debt or having to eat Kraft Dinner for the rest of the week
  • Husbands cook you delicious breakfasts in the morning

All in all, girls nights are pretty awesome.

How do you manage spending time with your “girls” when you get in a long-term relationship?

How to Save Burnt Grilled Cheese

Howie was coming home late from a night of volunteering and I promised him I’d wait to have dinner with him. Problem was, I was starting to get HUNGRY. So I decided to make a little grilled cheese and keep starvation at bay until he returned.

Unfortunately, I must have become a little too entranced with New Girl because by the time I went and checked on the first side, it was burned on the one side.

Problem? Not for the millennial wife! Seeing this as an opportunity to ingeniously save the sandwich, I decided to document the process of saving burned grilled cheese – a skill I decided was just too useful not to share. Unfortunately, the documentation process resulted in burning yet a second grilled cheese sandwich.

Hey, I’ve warned you people before that this is NOT the place to come for Martha Stewart-esque ideas. I merely promised to make you feel better by publicizing my mishaps.

Regardless, here it goes. Now, for your culinary education, here is the

Modern Wife Guide to Saving Burnt Grilled Cheese

1) Open the burnt grilled cheese and scrape processed cheese from burnt side onto the unburned side

2) Retrieve new piece of bread, butter one side, and stick it (butter side up) to the unburned side of your original sandwich which now has the scraped off cheese.

3) Place fixed sandwich on grill.

4) Throw burned piece of grilled cheese in the garbage.

5) Drat! Now take the second burnt grilled cheese off the frying pan. (Note: Do not spend 2 minutes taking pictures of the burned slice in the garbage, this will result in burning your second sandwich).

6) Repeat steps 2) and 3) with yet another new piece of bread and add another slice of cheese since first slice is effectively depleted.

7) Pickleshoes!* I’m down to the crust! No worries… just butter the normal side and place the crusty side on the scraped off cheese slice. NOW go ahead and repeat steps 2) and 3)

8) Turn down temperature of the stove down to avoid third burning incident. (Which is what you should have done the first time you burned the grilled cheese).

9) When both sides are sufficiently browned, (not burned) remove sandwich from pan and turn pan off.

10) Throw the second slice of burned bread out.

11) Garnish successful grilled cheese with ketchup and reflect on the fact that you burned two slices of bread which means you could have just thrown out the first sandwich, taken two pieces of bread and created a new sandwich instead of going through the whole scraping cheese business.

12) Try to forget everything you just read above.

An article worth your time

Just because it’s Monday, (and everyone can use a pick-me-up on Mondays) I highly recommend each person take 20 minutes to read and reflect on this article (below). A dear friend sent it my way last week and the wisdom is beyond inspiring. I’ve taken a lot of these points to my heart and hope it touches you too. Even if you are not 25(ish) I think these points are good to hear at any age. After you read it, let me know what you think.

11 Things to Know at 25(ish)

Which of these points struck a special chord in your heart?

You’re on Dishes Tonight

Travel back in time sixty years to the household of Mr. and Mrs. Ward Cleaver. Ward went to work and brought home the bacon.  June stayed home and cooked, cleaned and raised the children, all while wearing heels and pearls.

Fast forward to present day and the roles of the household are a lot more blurred. The majority of millennial couples are dual income earners (at least until children come along and even then, many couples have both individuals work outside the home). And at the end of the day deciding who is cooking, who is cleaning up, and who is feeding the dog is often based on who is less tired, not gender.

On the one hand gender equality with household chores has a lot of benefits. There are so many guys I know who are amazing cooks and do the majority of the cooking in their homes. These guys are simply better at putting meals together than their ladies and that is certainly fine with them. Laundry, dishes, making the bed, managing bills have all become shared tasks between the sexes.

Great news right? Not entirely.

Howie and I are finding that so much ambiguity has resulted in an almost permanent state of untidiness. We have absolutely NO defined roles set in stone and four months into the marriage it’s starting to take it’s toll.

Coincidentally, last Sunday happened to be our final marriage prep course and the topic HAPPENED to be roles and responsibilities in managing a home. (Yes, you read that correctly, we didn’t quite complete our marriage prep before the wedding..oops) But our hectic pre-wedding schedule ended up as a blessing in disguise because post-wedding, more than ever, we could benefit from a frank discussion about roles.

One of the exercises involved individually writing down what we expect to personally be responsible for, what we expect our partner to be responsible for, and we what expect both of us to dually take responsibility for. Here is the result of this exercise:

WHAT CHERYL WROTE:

My roles will be:

  • cooking
  • grocery shopping
  • cleaning bathrooms
  • arranging social life
  • shopping
  • gardening
  • decorating
Howie’s roles will be:
  • taking out the garbage
  • yardwork
  • car maintenance
  • paying bills
Our shared roles will be:
  • taking care of Monica
  • dishes
  • sweeping
  • laundry
  • tidying up
  • planning trips
  • long term financial planning
WHAT HOWIE WROTE:

Cheryl’s roles will be:

  • telling future daughters about girl issues
  • gardening
  • friend stuff

My roles will be:

  • telling future sons about guy stuff
  • mowing the lawn

Our shared roles will be:

  • house stuff
  • planning trips
  • paying bills

My initial reaction was that Howie seemed really concerned about future discussions about puberty with our sons and daughters. Interestingly enough this isn’t the first time I’ve sensed his concern about this kind of thing. I think he has some deep down fear that I’m going to force him to tell his daughters about bras and maxi pads.

Future puberty discussions aside, for the most part we appeared to be on the same page. There were two areas of difference we decided to address:

Issue 1) Cooking. Call me old fashioned but I actually really enjoy cooking and planning meals. Although I really appreciated his efforts to do grocery shopping together, I found that his impatience to do all forms of shopping as quick as possible made me feel rushed and we tended to buy a lot more impulse items. So issue #1 solved. I will take the lead on meals, Howie will clean up after.

Issue 2) Paying bills. I SUCK at opening mail. I hate opening mail, opening bills and logging into accounts and transferring money. HATE it. My problem is that when I expect to see bad numbers I like to ignore them until they go away. Problem is, they don’t go away. And poor Howie has been dealing with my procrastination and trying to manage all of our financial obligations without much help from your truly. So we decided that I will at least work with Howie and be there while he does this thing so I don’t end up in my own little world where banks and bills don’t exist.

So long story short, in today’s blurred lines of gender responsibilities I think it’s best for couples to decide who’s doing what based on individual strengths and abilities.

How do you establish household roles in a relationship?

(Drumroll) New look unveiled!

I am incredibly pumped to officially unveil the new look of Life As Modern Wife!

The brighter, better, more beautiful (and customized) look is the product of the graphic genius that is Julie from Jubilee Creative. In a most masterful way she took my vague words, descriptions and random clip art which I described as “retro housewife with an ironic twist” and turned it into this!

But Julie and I share not just a client-freelancer relationship, oh no, we go way back; to elementary school days. In a wonderful random way, I connected with Julie via Facebook after approximately 12 years since we were grade-eight classmates. Since then, we’ve both gotten even taller, finished high school, earned degrees, got married, and started careers. Despite all these changes, when we first met up about a month ago it was so easy to pick right up from where we last parted.

We reminisced about old times, old classmates, and how crazy it is to think about how all of us are so “grown up” now. Meeting up with her reminded me just how much of an official “adult” I have technically become but at the same time it was so easy to relate back to that pre-teen girl I once was.

Julie is yet another inspiring millennial gal who manages to balance a marriage with her own ambitions, pursuits and creative endeavours. I highly recommend you check out her personal blog called We So Thrifty where she showcases her photography and vintage finds.

Tell me what you think about the new look of Life As Modern Wife!