21.5.15

modest when it's hottest

I first published this blog post last Spring and many enjoyed it as a resource or jumping off point for further discussion. So I thought I'd bring it back this year!

Summer is here. If you hadn't noticed the warmer weather, don't worry - just look at what the ladies are wearing around town. 'Tis the season to be skimpy, and I think Montreal might just be the capital for the scantily clad. And there is a lot to say about this, but today I just want to write about one element of modesty in the summer time. Bathing suits. Because even the shortest shorts don't often resemble underwear - that's the bikini's job! Check out this interesting video. Seriously worth the 9 minutes. Men, feel free to watch too!



Insightful, right? The idea that dressing a certain way gives us women power, but in the end we lose power and respect. I think there are many contributing factors to modesty, and I do agree that each culture defines modesty a different way, but I don't think we can ignore that bathing suits are getting smaller and smaller and the reaction men have to this isn't changing towards respecting and valuing women more.

But I get it. Finding cute bathing suits that are also modest is almost impossible. And I'm a girl who likes to swim! Until recently, the only one piece options out there were super sporty, and not made for girls with long torsos like me (in some cases one piece bathing suits were less modest for me than a well-fitting bikini!) But thankfully there are so many more options this summer, and I really wanted to share them with you all. Just in case you're in the same boat as I've found myself in summers past - desiring to wear something more than lingerie to the beach, but still wanting to be fashionable and flattering to my body type. It's actually more fun swimming in a modest suit too, because you're not forever readjusting your top or bottoms or afraid something came off after you jumped in!


Hope you find all this choice helpful! Many of these bathing suits are under $50, too!

1. Mod Cloth - $90    2. Albion Fit - $112    3. Mod Cloth - $90    4. Old Navy -  $45
5. J Crew - $136    6. Albion Fit - $128    7. Lime Ricki - $45    8. Lime Ricki - $43
9. Target - $40    10. Lime Ricki - $55    11. Target - $35    12. J Crew - $138
13. Lime Ricki - $55    14. J Crew $88    15. Mod Cloth - $90    16. Old Navy - $31


20.5.15

tips for travelling with little ones

With travel season upon us, I participated as a guest blogger recently, on the topic of travelling with littles. Roasted Montreal hosted my post, so head over there if you're interested in reading my tips!

Geneva, 2012

18.5.15

pre-marital counselling and taking our own advice

One of my favourite things about being in church leadership is the privilege of doing pre-marital counselling with our many engaged couples at Église du Plateau. An urban church is a young church, no matter what other demographics fall into place. There are risks and weaknesses to being predominantly young of which we are acutely aware, but oh there are blessings. Particularly the walking examples of gospel-reflecting marriage all around us. Do we have more than a handful of married couples over the age of 35? No. But is there grace in the thick of deciding to marry, leaving behind a life focused primarily on self, rummaging through the debris after the dust of the first year of marriage settles and deciding it's still worth it? Indeed. And we see that often.

In the next five months, our church will see five young couples married. Sweet joy and hot damn! It's an exciting time, and one of increased leadership for the three elders and their wives as we've been given the happy burden of pre-marital counselling for these couples. It is no small thing to be invited into the doubts, fears, struggles, excitement, stress, tears, joy, and love that a young engaged couple experiences. We count it a real privilege to walk beside these couples as they prepare for their marriages*, and the lessons they learn are not lost on us.

Brad and I are approaching seven years of marriage in the Fall. Not too long, even including three kids and a church plant. But God has given our people humility to learn from a few youngsters only a few years ahead of them, and I'm thankful. Firstly, because we can always learn from others. Secondly, because marriage is a refining fire and a sanctifier like no other, even one year of experience is incredible and there is wisdom to be passed along. And thirdly, because even though we are not a perfect couple, God has done amazing things in and through us as a married couple. Every time we sit down with an engaged couple, we can't help but marvel that we've come a long way from that spot across the living room.

We are often in a place of realizing that we need to take our own advice, and that is a great thing. Not often does this involve disobedience, just the casual forgetting of things we said we valued, that become habits. Praying together before bed. Reading the Bible together. Prioritizing time away from the kids. These things are so foundational for a married couple who loves Jesus, but are easy to let slide, especially once kids come along. So this weekend, we're taking our own advice. Fittingly, leaving town to celebrate the marriage of one of the couples we've counselled. Full circle, can't wait.

Our dear friends (who already have three kids of their own!) have volunteered to watch our three for the whole weekend. I know, I can't believe it either! We'll be away for two nights, one night will be the wedding, and the other will just be for us. We have both spent time away from the kids separately, but it's been almost TWO YEARS since we got away for more than a few hours as a couple. It's time!

While I have your attention on the topic of marriage, I've been looking for an excuse to share this cool video and this seems as good a time as any. The video features a young engaged couple who are made up by makeup artists to look 50, 70, and 90. You know, just to make sure they still want to marry this person when they start to decay! It's MTV, but it's incredibly touching and not at all shallow.



*If you're interested in resources, we are currently using the book When Sinners Say I Do by Dave Harvey and strongly recommend The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy and Kathy Keller.


4.5.15

mélange

Lets start off with some general blog recommendations, mk? Here are a few of my favourites, go visit them and enjoy!

  • Chin-ups and Buttercups - my friend Lydia manages to walk the tightrope of discussing body image, fitness, motivation, and the gospel flawlessly. She takes you on her journey to 130 (effort to get in shape) and exposes the idols of the heart that are so tightly linked to image and fitness. Love this blog and this girl.
  • From the Natos - this qualifies as a mega-blog in my opinion (I think most of you already read it). But it's worth mentioning because it's so fun to read and she's brutally honest. She writes often of her husband's affair, her child's disabilities, and the mess that is real life. 
  • Mockabee 7 - Jodi Mockabee doesn't blog often (she has five kids, no wonder!) but I'm always glad to see her show up in my feedly. She parents her kids with really beautiful intentionality, a theme I'm noting I gravitate towards. I'm really drawn to their simple lifestyle and her home and style are super inspiring!
Ok, now for a quick tour of the interwebs.
  • Have you seen this Amy Schumer parody about rape? When I first heard about it I assumed that they were poking light at rape and was disgusted, but after I saw it posted again elsewhere and read about this viral skit, I realized they're shedding light on a culture that allows for rape. Smart.


  • 10 Montreal coffee shops you need to visit right now. They're missing a ton but if you're in town for a weekend you should definitely check out Café Myriade. Café Parvis has been on my list for a while and is actually pretty close to me. No excuses once the weather warms up!
  • We have spent a good deal of time in Louisville, Kentucky over the years since Brad is doing his MDiv through a seminary there. It was fun to see Apartment Therapy feature Louisville in their design lovers series.
  • This kitchen. Thank you very much.

  • I'd love to see the documentary series Twice Born
  • A lot of interesting conversations came from my blog post on Why I Make My Kids Say "Sorry" (even when they aren't). I'm always interested in hearing how this works itself out in other families.
  • Summer is coming and it's about to get a whole lot harder to be stylish and modest. This online shop has really beautiful clothes at a great price point! 

1.5.15

a case for travelling without your kids

This post is a followup from a post I wrote earlier this month on travelling with your kids. As always, there are two sides to every coin and I think both options are pretty great (for different reasons).

Some people are surprised that we put a high value on time away from our kids. Brad and I aim to get some time away once a year. Whether it be for a weekend, a week, or two weeks, we find time away from our kids is beneficial for our marriage and worth leaving the kids.

Prioritizing Marriage

Parenting little ones is a lot of work for any family. When they're as close in age as ours, there's no real break. As soon as the older one hit a stride that felt manageable, I was doubled over sick with my next pregnancy. And repeat. And now that I'm approaching two years with no pregnancies, we're just finishing potty training one and preparing to potty train another soon. These years are beautiful, but they're also a blur. And it's easy for your marriage to become bottom priority.

I've heard it said that the best gift a parent can give their children is a loving marriage, and I completely agree. Growing up, I was blessed to have parents who genuinely liked each other as much as they loved each other. We never worried about mom and dad and always felt secure in their commitment to each other. I believe taking time away to be together, just the two of you, sets the example for your children that mom and dad love each other and have a secure marriage.

Paris, France 2013 (our third babymoon)
What about the kids?

One concern many people have with couples traveling without their kids is that the children will feel unloved or insecure without mom and dad. I've heard it called selfish that parents would dare take a vacation without including their children.

It all comes down to priorities. If your children are your number one priority, above all other relationships and all other things, then yes, you might say it is wrong to do something without them. For us, our marriage comes first. We're not afraid to show our kids that they're not the most important relationship we have, we think it's healthy for them! There's a reason that so many people divorce as soon as their kids are out of the house. For all those years the kids were the overwhelming priority at the expense of the marriage, and once the kids are gone, what's left of the marriage?


Many couples cultivate strong marriage bonds without traveling alone, and I completely respect that. Other couples can't leave their children for any length of time because reliable childcare isn't available. We've had some years where we're able to leave our kids and others where we're not, but if at all possible, it's a high priority.

This may not be for every family, or for every season. I have a friend who highly values time alone with her husband, like us, but because she's still breastfeeding it's not possible to get away. None of our parents are retired and the majority aren't local, so it's hard arranging childcare for over nights. Thankfully we have other friends in a similar boat here in Montreal, so we've decided to swap taking each others kids so each couple can get a weekend away from time to time. This May, Brad is doing a marriage in Quebec City so we're making a weekend out of it and our dear friends are watching our three kids on top of their own three! We are eager to return the favour, and excited for them to get a special time away, too.

Babymoons

Babymoons - or vacations before a baby comes into your family - are a relatively new thing, I think. Kind of like the concept of push presents and gender reveal parties, they're another way to celebrate pregnancy and new life. I should note I've never received a push present nor had a gender reveal party, but I'm not against either concept within reason. But babymoons, which have the added benefit of leaving a couple more rested and prepared for a new baby, I'm 100% for.



When I was pregnant with our first, we happened to be in North Africa on a missions trip for two months. Not the best experience while 25-31 weeks pregnant, but go with it. En route home from North Africa our plane had a stop over in France. Bonjour, all the pastries for my growing bébé! We did what we often do to procure a free vacation and delayed our return flight. Our initial flight (including Paris-Montreal homeward) was already paid for, so we got a bonus week in France.

Let me tell you after the six weeks in North Africa it was a dream. I was also six weeks more pregnant than when we started our voyage, so a babymoon was more appreciated than ever. The trip served the dual purposes of relaxation and taking advantage of our final weeks as a young couple without children. Eating out, late night walks, looking back it was complete freedom! It was also a time, set apart from work or normal life, to dream of, talk about, pray for, and mentally prepare for our upcoming arrival. In all, I highly recommend it!

But what about after your first bébé? Should a couple continue with this practice, if possible, when they have other children at home? Absolutely! Freedom and finances were much more restricting when we were preparing for our second arrival, just one year later, so we opted for a three day trip to Chicago for The Gospel Coalition Conference. It didn't matter as much where or for how long, but that we were getting away to reconnect as a couple, before a big change ahead. 

Having a baby is an enormous strain on a couple. The joys far outweigh the challenges, but it's naïve to go at it unprepared. Babymoons have helped us head into a difficult season rested and prepared and as a united front. 

Travelling alone

This year we aren't able to travel without the kids for a couple reasons, so we've planned a family trip. Because both Brad and I are in the home (him working from home and me staying home) with our kids constantly, the time away to recharge is still needed. We've decided that in years where we can't figure out childcare for the kids, each of us will take a little time away. We have lined this time up with conferences, so we're not just resting but also being fed spiritually during this time. 

A few weeks ago, I was in Orlando alllllllllll by myself for four days. Two days were spent at the Gospel Coalition Conference, and the other two were spent reading by the pool. I don't feel badly saying I didn't miss the kids once! I came home completely recharged and ready to parent intentionally and faithfully. Last week Brad was at the Acts 29 Europe church planting conference in England and also tacked on some days at the end for personal travel. Each of us is so glad to send the other off. We know that time is important and it's worth it seeing your partner come home so refreshed and ready to dive in to our high capacity lifestyle.


Have you ever traveled without your kids?
Or even without your partner?