All Posts By

Amber Pritchard

Relationships

How to Keep That Lovin’ Feeling

Brian and I have been married almost two years. I know that means that we’re supposed to still be newlyweds, and like an increasing number of newlyweds these days, we have had a child for our entire marriage. (Rachael is from his first marriage.) Life is busy and it’s easy to lose our connection in the hustle and bustle of life if we don’t make time for us.

Like most couples with young children, we don’t have a lot of time to focus on our marriage unless the kids are with someone else. This was easy when we just had Rachael because she was at her mom’s house three evenings a week, so we had built in date nights. Once Henry came along, we had to work a little harder for date nights by making babysitting arrangements or maximizing our time together once the kids are in bed. (Having Brian’s parents close by and his brother and sister-in-law next door is such a blessing!)

Here are a few suggestions of things we’ve found that strengthen our bond and help us keep that lovin’ feeling.

Daily connecting time

We spend time alone together every day. Sometimes it’s after the kids are in bed. Sometimes we go to our bedroom and shut the door. However we have to work it, we connect daily. The one common theme of this time we spend together is that we touch each other. Make it a point to hug and kiss every day and take a few minutes to talk. We often ask each other, “What was your favorite part of the day?” during this time.

Mini-dates

In between date nights (we have about two a month), we have a couple of mini-dates – one or two a week. Mini-dates are time spent doing something special together that we plan in advance so that we can look forward to it. They’re usually worked around the kids’ bedtime. You can squeeze mini-dates in anytime the kids are engaged in a safe activity where you are unlikely to be interrupted for 20-30 minutes.

I try to keep our bedroom clean and bed made and clothes put away so that our bedroom is a haven for us. A lot of times, these mini-dates take place in our bedroom so that I can turn my heart and mind toward my husband rather than my to-do list. Our back deck is also a good place for them. Just choose somewhere that you can quiet your mind and focus on each other.

A few things to do for mini-dates:

  • Get a bottle of Martinelli’s Sparkling Cider or sparkling grape juice and pour a couple of glasses, light a candle, and chat.
  • Watch an episode of Andy Griffith on Netflix with a bowl of popcorn
  • Have a special dessert to enjoy together after the kids are in bed
  • Ask each other questions like you did when you were first dating
  • Snuggle up outside and look at the stars

Date Night

We love date night! Date night is so important because it allows time to share an experience together and have a few hours of quality time. At-home date nights don’t usually work for us, because I can’t take my mind off things that need to be done at home (even if the house is spotless), but I know they’re great for some people. Date night doesn’t have to be expensive, it just has to be spent together.

Check out Alison’s Almost Free Date Ideas post or the book $10 Great Dates: Connecting Love, Marriage, and Fun on a Budget.

Just Do IT

We’re going to refer to it as IT to reduce the Google traffic looking for things they won’t find on EIG. In a HEALTHY marriage, IT is powerful. A man who feels loved will move mountains to make his wife feel loved. Do it. Do it often. If you’re having trouble in the bedroom, find an appropriate person to talk to about it, like your doctor a married girlfriend. Don’t be afraid to research (and try out) products to help with physical difficulties or look for ways to make it more fun. Remember that God made our bodies, IT was His idea, and He intended for it to be fun. So have fun! In a healthy marriage, IT is a great way to keep the love alive and the connection strong!

Two good books by Christian authors on this topic are:

Sheet Music by Kevin Leman
Is that All He Thinks About? by Marla Taviano

Solve the Problem

If you crawl into bed and suddenly you find that your husband feels like a stranger and you’ve only been coexisting for a while, FIX IT! Talk about it. Figure out when you disconnected and if there is a break that needs mending or if you just need to spend a little extra time together. Don’t stay disconnected; make it a point to reconnect.

Jesus Time

Maintaining a relationship with Jesus both individually and as a couple is also vital to our marriage. Having spiritual conversations, reading the Bible and praying together, and ministering to others helps strengthen our marriage. Our marriage isn’t just a bond between two, but a bond of three — Brian, Amber, and Jesus. This is our most vital connection.

What are some things that you do to stay connected in your marriage? What are some ideas and resources that you can add to what I’ve suggested?

Devotions

Children’s Book Review: Hooway for Wodney Wat

Though I am a stay-at-home-mom now, I am also a Registered Dental Hygienist. February is National Children’s Dental Health Month. Often, awareness is brought to the fact that tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease or how to protect your children’s teeth from sports injuries. Those things are important, but one thing that is sometimes overlooked are speech issues related to missing teeth, tongue-tie, or other oral health problems.

My nephew, Zachery, is 6 years old. He loves trains and Legos and Minecraft. He has a great sense of humor and is a sweetheart. Zachery also enjoys a good book. If you pull out a book to read, he is an eager audience. When I met him he was 3 years old and very difficult to understand. This was a big problem because he likes to talk a lot! It was very frustrating for him to have so much to say, but not be understood. He has come so far with his speech and is easy to understand these days, but you have to “listen fast”, because he talks a mile a minute! Zachery’s speech challenges are due to developmental delays in the area of speech, rather than oral health problems, but many children may experience a combination of the two and for that reason, speech therapists and dental professionals work closely.

Many children with speech difficulties experience a lack of self-confidence and frustration either from not being understood or from being different from their peers.

We love the book Hooway for Wodney Wat by Helen Lester as a way to help children with speech issues learn to feel more confident and their peers to appreciate their differences. I bought this book for Rachael and it has become a favorite of Zachery’s; in fact, I loaned him this book many months ago and it has found a home on his bookshelf rather than ours.

Hooway for Wodney Wat is the story of a wodent who can’t pwonounce his r’s who uses his unique difference to outsmart a bully named Camilla. It’s a sweet, light-hearted, and silly story that your children will be quoting lines from long after you’ve closed the book.

Relationships

10 Tips for Winning Food Battles

Food battles. I don’t know of a single parent of young children who doesn’t fight the good fight (or who hasn’t just surrendered). Meal time can quickly become stressful when you’re dealing with a picky eater. For the most part, we have overcome, though there are times that Rachael still acts like the food will eat her, rather than the other way around.

If you’re fighting the good fight, I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be a fight at all. Meal time CAN be a pleasant family time without food battles, but happens by design, not by chance. Here is what has worked in our home.

  1. Be consistent — This is the #1 most important thing and applies to all areas of parenting. My Papa gave my parents only one piece of parenting advice, which they have handed down to me. It was, “Whatever you do, be consistent.” Without consistency, you will only have inconsistent results and frustrated parents and children.
  2. Cook one meal — I make supper and I serve it. If kids are hungry enough, they’ll eat. If they are stubborn enough to not eat and go hungry, then they won’t starve to death until the next meal!
  3. Clean plates are by design, not demand — Skip the one bite rule and give small portions. If it’s a new food, give a tiny portion and expect it to all be eaten. It’s still only a bite or two, but it eliminates the discussion. Make your child’s plate intentionally. I want Rachael to eat a balanced diet, so I make her plate accordingly and make it with small portions, so that it all gets eaten.
  4. Turn your no’s into yes’s – When you follow #3, it’s easy to say yes more. Yes to dessert, yes to seconds of a favorite (but not-so-healthy) food, yes to being excused from the table… yes, yes, yes! Rachael loves macaroni and cheese and will always eat it first. So, I give her a smaller amount of macaroni and cheese than vegetables. When she asks for more macaroni and cheese, it is so easy to say, “Absolutely! You can have more of anything you want when you finish what you have.” Either she eats all of her food and gets more macaroni and cheese or she cleans her plate and no longer wants it.
  5. Plan ahead – Kids are much more likely to eat food they don’t prefer if they are hungry. If I am planning to make something for supper that Rachael probably won’t like, I give her a smaller lunch and no snacks so that she’ll be hungry and more likely to eat without complaint.
  6. Educate – I teach Rachael about nutrition. We talk about why certain foods are healthy and why others are unhealthy and how those foods affect your body. This is so important and helps influence healthy eating choices when you get past the every-meal-is-a-battle stage.
  7. It’s not a discussion or a negotiation – We don’t talk about “how many bites”. We also don’t allow whining and rude behavior. We don’t remind her that she’s not getting dessert if she doesn’t eat. A meal is not something to endure to earn dessert. We only allow positive comments about food during mealtime.
  8. Communicate – Communication and discussion are two very different things in our household. Communication is respectful and beneficial, while discussion is what happens instead of obedience. So while we don’t discuss, we do I ask Rachel for feedback on a meal and she is free to give me an honest answer as long as it is kind and respectful. I am careful to ask open-ended questions like, “What did you think of ______?” I ask what she liked, and what she didn’t like. I’ll ask if she liked it, disliked it, or if it was “just ok”. I have discovered that sometimes what Rachael doesn’t like about a food is easily fixable (example: beans and rice separate instead of together).
  9. Involve them in meal preparation – When kids are involved in meal preparation and menu planing, they have invested in it! And even if they don’t like what is served, they’re more likely to try it!
  10. Give them freedom to choose – This is last for a reason, because it doesn’t work unless you’ve ended the food battles and taught healthy principles. You have to establish the ground rules and do the hard work before you can reap the benefits. Meal time becomes so pleasant when you can finally say, “Eat based on what you know to be healthy and stop when you are full.”

This approach to meal time has been successful in our home and we’ve been reaping the benefits of it for over 6 months now. What has worked in your home?

Well Being

Reasons Why You Can Do Hard Things

On November 20, at 8:28 AM, we welcomed Henry Dean Pritchard into the world. After 16 hours of unmedicated labor (only about 5 hours were bad!), I delivered an 8 lb, 12 oz, healthy and beautiful baby boy with a head full of dark hair.15170814_1877056075862297_2993400617489941927_n

For as long as I can remember, I wanted to have a natural, unmedicated childbirth, and I did it! I learned something about myself – I can do hard things! Giving birth was physically the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and pretty high on my list of mentally challenging things. I asked for an epidural, which I didn’t really want; I just wanted out of the pain. My wonderful nurse and husband both said no to that request and gave me words of encouragement instead. I said all kinds of crazy things like, “I don’t want this!” and “two kids are enough,” and “I am never doing this again!” (You really DO forget the pain, because the day he was born, I was telling Brian that I’d do it again… just not next week.)20161121_072848

Don’t ever doubt your ability to do hard things. You can do hard things, too! Your hard thing may not be natural childbirth – it may be something like making it through a difficult time in your marriage, a particularly challenging situation at work, a family situation, raising kids, running a marathon, etc. You know what your hard things are. You can do hard things.20161120_164125

This is the time of year for New Year’s resolutions. Perhaps you are making a resolution to lose weight or spend more time with God. Maybe you are making a resolution to bea better friend or better wife. Whatever it is, those New Year’s resolutions are notoriously hard to keep! If you are making a resolution, I want to encourage you! You can do hard things!20161120_110850

The week leading up to having Henry, Rachael’s memory verse was Matthew 19:26 – “With men, this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Throughout my labor, God brought Rachael’s memory verse to my mind. You can do hard things, because with God, all things are possible. The more I read about how nothing is impossible with God, the more I notice that the word repeatedly used is with, not for. We all know that nothing is impossible for God, but the Bible tells us that with God, all things are possible.

For nothing will be impossible with God. ~ Luke 1:37 (NASB)

I can do all this through him who gives me strength. ~ Philippians 4:13 (NIV)

He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”~ Matthew 17:20 (NIV)

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. ~Isaiah 41:10 (NIV)

Is there a hard thing that you need to do? Be encouraged! Team up with God, and you can do hard things – even keep those New Year’s resolutions!

Home Life

Meal Planning

A couple of months ago, I opened our cabinets and freezer that were packed full of food and bemoaned the fact that there was nothing to cook for supper. I realized that I should have plenty of meal options, but we just had so many little bits of leftover ingredients, many of which had been purchased for special meals that I don’t regularly make. I was getting tired of seeing food, but coming up with nothing for supper.

This led me to approach meal planning differently and I’ve been doing this for several months now with success. Our grocery bill has been lower, our meals have been healthier, and I’ve actually used the food in my cabinets as well as what I’ve purchased.

I’m not going to pretend like this is a quick meal planning process, but it does get easier as you implement it regularly.

  1. Make a list of all the ingredients you have and the amounts. List everything – partial bags of beans, grains, condiments, packaged food, etc. Literally EVERYTHING. Keep this list because you will update it as ingredients are used.pinterest-meals
  2. Make a list of any upcoming events for which you need to provide food. Potluck, company, birthday, special meal requests, etc. I try to plan for two weeks of meals, but look ahead at the calendar 2.5-3 weeks in case I don’t make it to the store before that event.
  3. Brainstorm meals that you can make using the ingredients list. This can take a very short time if you enjoy cooking or days (weeks?) if you don’t. Continually update the ingredients list from step 1 as you “use” ingredients in your meal ideas. Try to come up with meals that use what you have and need the fewest additional ingredients.*I like to write my meal ideas on note cards and list all the necessary ingredients on the card. Put favorite meals on brightly colored cards, so they are easily found to make frequently. This makes steps 4-6 a lot easier!
  1. Make your grocery list. Using your note cards and ingredients list, determine what you’re missing and how much you need. Buy only what you need for the meals planned. I always buy an extra can or two of veggies or jar of spaghetti sauce just in case.
  2. Keep your original ingredients list and update it during each meal planning session and repeat steps 1-4. Except, 20161106_120625this time, you have several meal ideas that you brainstormed already on note cards.Meal planning is an ongoing process. If I think meals throughout the week, I go ahead and write it down. Also, if I run out of something basic (flour, sugar, rice, tea bags, coffee, milk, eggs, etc), I add that to my grocery list as I use it up
  3. Put your note cards or list of meals on the refrigerator. I prefer a list of our meals, so I have it all available at a glance and use the note cards more for planning. I also write recipes on note cards (these are different from my meal ideas cards) and clip those on a magnetic clip beside my list. I personally don’t use recipes often, but when I do, I like them easy to find.
  4. Miscellaneous Tips:
    • If you have meals that use fresh ingredients, find a way to note that so that you will make those meals first.
    • List special meals or event food separate from your regularly breakfast, lunch, and supper ideas.
    • I don’t like assigning particular meals to a particular day, because sometimes you just don’t want pasta on a Monday!
    • Be realistic: At some point you may eat out, eat at your mother-in-law’s, eat leftovers, or just want a bowl of cereal. I don’t plan 14 suppers for two weeks; I probably plan around 8-10 main meals, which last us anywhere from 2-3 weeks.

Happy Meal Planning!!

Devotions

From Great Disappointment to Great Hope

 

Two weeks ago, Beth-Anne wrote a entitled “Preparing a Place”. I had been working on writing a similar post with the same exact title for a few weeks and put it on the back burner to allow it to develop a little more. Maybe it’s that we’ve been friends over a third of our lives that causes us to think alike or that we’re going through similar life experiences right now. Or perhaps, as Beth-Anne said to me when I shared that I was writing a similar post, “Maybe God wants us to share that message with people.” We do have a message that God needs shared with people, so with that in mind, I have reworked what I was previously writing.20160720_123220

Our little boy is due in 4 weeks and 1 day… of course, that’s no guarantee that he will actually be born that day, but at least it gives me something to count down to! We are so excited to see Henry’s little face and see what color hair he has. We can’t wait to meet him and get to know him face to face. We have prepared his room, packed the hospital bag, installed the carseat base, had a baby shower, researched natural childbirth, toured the Family Birth Center, and now we wait. This time of waiting is full of preparation and hope and eager anticipation.20160816_221417

I imagine that our excitement waiting for Henry’s birth is similar, yet only a shadow of what early Advent Christians must have felt as they awaited Jesus’ return just a little over 172 years ago. This past Sabbath, October 22, we celebrated 172 years since the Great Disappointment. I choose the word “celebrate” carefully, for it is through that disappointment and further study of the word of God that we have learned a truth that gives cause for great hope! One hundred and seventy-two years ago Jesus began the work of judgment, which is great news, because that means He is doing what is necessary to prepare for His return!20160817_101246

John 14:2-3 says, “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”dscn1148

While I may have my own day of “great disappointment” if Henry does not arrive by his due date, I know that he is coming when he is ready. Early Advent Christians had their day of Great Disappointment, but God’s word gives us hope and assures us that though we may not know the day or hour, Jesus is coming! He is preparing a place for us and longs to take us home to be with him.

Relationships

Being Like Jesus

I had a divine appointment a few Sabbaths ago. God orchestrated certain events in such a way that I had the opportunity to be exactly the kind of mom and Christian that God has called me to be.

We had communion at church that day. Typically, our little family of three will go into the family/ couples room to wash one another’s feet so that we can teach our daughter about the ordinance of humility. As we headed that direction, Brian detoured and told me he was going into the room where the men go; Rachael and I continued into the family room.

be-imitators-of-christRachael asked where Daddy was and I answered her and said that Daddy was being like Jesus.  We talked about how Jesus washed the disciples’ dirty feet and that He wants us to show love for each other in the same way, including those we may not know very well. As I washed her feet and talked about loving like Jesus loves, a new member approached another lady asking to wash her feet and was dismissed with the words, “I’m waiting for my husband.” And that was that.

By the grace of God, though I was talking to Rachael, I noticed what played out beside us and very quickly said, “I’m happy to serve you.” She and I and Rachael served one another.

At the time, I just I saw a need and met it. I’d like to be able to say that it’s because I’m always very aware of others, but that is not the case. Honestly, I am probably rarely very attuned the needs of those outside of my comfort zone. It wasn’t until much later that I fully realized what had happened. This lady was a new member, in the wrong room and uncertain of what to do, but had the courage to approach someone and was rejected. My heart broke. How often do we get so wrapped up in ourselves that we fail to see the needs of those around us? I know that I have been guilty of that!

While saddened by what happened, I was also so excited because I realized that God had given me the opportunity (and courage) to reach out and serve this lady. Not only that, I was able to demonstrate to Rachael what it means to love and serve like Jesus does as I was talking about it.

I made myself available for God to use me and received such a blessing because of it. I challenge you to make yourself open and available for God to use you and pray for opportunities. I promise that you will be left with a fuller heart for having given of yourself.

Relationships

Welcome Home!

My husband, Brian, works hard to provide for our family. I try to be intentional about making our home a peaceful, inviting place so that he looks forward to walking in the door after work. Some days are really busy with homeschool, giving piano lessons, taking Rachael to gymnastics, running errands, homeschool group, appointments, etc.; other days are more relaxed. No matter how busy our day is, I still try to find some way to welcome my husband home, whether large or small.13925317_1828318704069368_5137121424825402222_n Confession: I am not the perfect wife. I often fail at the very ideals I strive to live up to and do the very things I try not to do. (Seems like Paul had that problem too!) In fact, as I was in the process of writing this, my sweet husband walked in the door and I completely ignored him. In fact, since he found out that I was working on writing this, I have endured plenty of good-natured teasing about ignoring him.

Here are some ways that I have found to make sure that our home is an inviting place for Brian after a long day of work. These take varying amounts of time, depending on whether I have 30 seconds or a few hours.

  • Open the garage door – This says, “I’ve prepared for your arrival.”
  • Meet him at the door – This says, “I was looking forward to your arrival.” I’ve learned that if I keep the garage door closed, it gives me a second to run to the door when I hear the garage open!
  • Have supper ready – Crockpot suppers make this more do-able on busy days!
  • Have a clean house – This could be as simple as having Rachael pick up her toys or as involved as vacuuming, dusting, and scouring the bathrooms.
  • Create calm instead of chaos – Turn off the TV, turn on soothing music, have Rachael engaged in a quiet activity such as coloring.
  • Prepare myself – Throw on a comfortable, but cute and clean cotton dress. Brush my teeth. Brush my hair. Spritz on some perfume or body spray. Just freshen up.
  • Steal a few minutes alone with him – Brian dresses up for work and always changes when he gets home; I often will take advantage of this time to say hello and ask about his day. It helps if Rachael is already engaged in an activity instead of talking to us through the door.

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    Photo Credit: Stacy Cotheran Photography, Boiling Springs, SC

Here is what I’ve found not to do. Most of these seem so obvious until I’m on the tail end of a pull-my-hair-out kind of day. I often need to remind myself to not do some of these.

  • Immediately ask him to do something – give him a minute to get in the door!
  • Unload on him about how bad my day was – it sets a negative tone for the whole evening.
  • Tell him about Rachael’s misdeed of the day– there is time for this later! I try to give him the chance to greet her without bias. Besides, it’s amazing what Daddy’s arrival does for changing her behavior.
  • Catch him up on all the good of the day because I’m just so glad to be able to converse with someone over the age of 6 – too many words!
  • Ignore him – this goes without saying. At least say hello!
  • Being on the phone when he arrives – Sometimes this means ignoring phone calls and returning them in a few minutes or watching the clock and saying goodbye before he is due home.

Is there anything special that you do to make sure your husband feels welcome? What suggestions do you have or what has your husband pointed out that he appreciates when he arrives home? What kinds of things make him want a do-over on walking through the door?

Devotions

Because He Is

As the school year begins, I’m reminded of something that happened about a month ago. First, let me catch you up on the whole story.

Last year, before starting the homeschooling journey, my husband and I prayed and made it abundantly clear that we were following His will. Leading up to and throughout Rachael’s kindergarten year, God opened doors and knocked down barriers in ways we never imagined. My work decreased from four days a week to two, giving me the time to homeschool, and finally I was let go from my job, enabling me to be home full-time. We weren’t ready to give up the income, but God has provided for our needs and our family has been so blessed by me being home. Rachael is my stepdaughter, and while Brian was totally on board with homeschooling, her mom had to also agree with that decision. Oh, how I worried about that one (with much insecurity)! Yet, God opened doors again and we are homeschooling with her blessing, support, and encouragement.12184094_1721888148045758_7115415677474528240_o

It often seems like when God opens doors and makes His will the clearest, that is when Satan attacks the hardest and throws the most doubts and insecurities my way.

A little over a month ago, I arranged to have the day to myself to plan out our school year. On that particular day, I spent the first hour of my time angry, hurt and in tears, because of a comment someone made to me. The comment was made innocently and most likely with the best of intentions and a heart full of love, but stirred up those doubts and insecurities that I had buried.

Would I be able to homeschool and have an infant? Would Rachael get the education and attention she needed, while I adjusted to meeting the demands of a newborn? Was I enough? Was I crazy to think that I could handle all of this? What if I couldn’t?

I think that as women, we all have doubts and insecurities. Doubts about overselves, doubts about our sufficiency, worth, ability. You name it, and we’ve probably had insecurity or doubt about it at one point or another.

While I processed my feelings, I arrived at this undeniable truth that remains, no matter how Satan tries to shake it with insecurities, doubts, fears, circumstances, etc. Ya’ll, this is HUGE, but it’s so beautiful and simple!

I am able, because He is able.

Fill in some blanks with whatever it is you need. I am _________________, because God is ____________________.

Do you feel inadequate? You are adequate, because He is all sufficient (2 Cor. 9:8).

Do you doubt your ability? You can, because He is able to do exceedingly above all we ask or imagine (Eph. 3:20-21).

Do you doubt your worth? You are worthy, because He gave His life for you (John 3:16).

You are, because He is.

When I doubt, it is often because rather than keeping my eyes on Jesus, I am looking at myself. I am nothing without Christ, but when I am filled with His Spirit, I am capable of being and doing anything He has called me to be and do!

Once again, God in His gentle way said to me, “It’s not about you. It’s about Me.”