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CHRI’s Church Media Coordinator, Trudy Connelly’s Weight-Loss Success Story!

February 1st, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Healthy Living
Have you found it difficult to stick with a lifestyle change to meet a weight loss goal? If so, I hope my story will encourage you. Of course, anyone with a medical condition must check with their medical professional before making significant changes in diet or beginning an exercise program.Just like any change we want to make in life, it takes a decision to get started and, in particular, to keep going to reach the desired result. And, setting a specific goal is important. Resetting the goal is allowed.

trudy_beforeIn the past I’ve been sceptical about the effectiveness of making New Year’s resolutions at the beginning of January, or more accurately sticking to resolutions for the duration. But, I decided in January 2014 that I wanted to be healthier and lose 15 pounds, which would take me down from 145 to 130 lbs. I’m only 5’4″ so I was carrying extra weight that I really didn’t need and I want to be healthy well into my senior years, God willing. I really set my mind to the goal and was determined to work towards it. Possibly the added inspiration of seeing a couple of my CHRI colleagues very successful with their weight loss endeavours played a role. I also kept picturing in my mind the ultimate result of better health and looking better – and the potential excuse for a new wardrobe or a few new pieces of clothing at a minimum was pretty exciting.

trudy_fitbitTo make it easy, I started with some simple gradual changes. Firstly, I implemented a regular at-home mini-exercise program comprised of a 10 to 12 minute workout 4-5 days a week using an easy-to- follow video. I knew that if I started out with a lengthy intensive workout I would probably not stick with it. I did (and still do) my workout first thing in the morning which I found is best for me. Then it’s done for the day and I can focus on other things. I don’t particularly like getting up at the crack of dawn but the prospect of just 10 to 12 minutes earlier wasn’t too daunting. A few mornings it did take a bit of self-talk to get out of bed earlier than usual but most mornings I really looked forward to the workout. The routine was simply a 1-2 minute warm-up, 4 minutes of aerobics (simple jogging in place works), 2-3 minutes of core exercises, 2 minutes of free weights and a 1 minute cool down.

trudy_appSecondly, I knew I had to focus on nutrition as the other important ingredient to reach my goal. The old adage “You are what you eat” makes perfect sense.  I have never been much of a junk food person but I do like to eat and eat frequently. How happy I was to learn that eating frequent small meals is highly recommended. Of course, what you consume during those frequent meals is key! Again keeping it simple was my approach. I didn’t want to have to spend much time counting calories or weighing food so I used a phone app that allowed me to easily enter the foods I ate at each meal & snack and then the program totalled the calories & percentage of fat, carbs & protein at the end of the day.

I took a weight management genetic test a couple of weeks into January to determine what type of diet best suited me specifically for optimum results. Results are divided into 3 categories: 1) carb reducer,2) fat trimmer and 3) better balancer. I received my results within 4 to 5 weeks. In the interim I did my short exercise routine and did my best at making better nutrition choices.   The genetic test result recommended the “fat reduction” program for me – with no more than 30% of daily calories from fat; 50 – 65% carbs, and 15% or more from protein. With that information in hand I simply adjusted some of my food choices to those with lower fat content (i.e. lower fat milk, cheese, yogourt) and focused on the good fats: monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. I started to closely read the labels on food items checking for the fat & protein content and aiming for low sugar content as well.

trudy_yogurtThe genetic test result also indicated more vigorous exercise was in order. I wasn’t terribly thrilled with that recommendation, but to keep things simple (again) I just doubled the 4 minute aerobic portion of my program and added a little intensity. So, I was still doing a short routine of no more than 14 to 20 minutes max in the morning for exercise. On the fun side I purchased a “fit bit” wireless wrist band which tracks steps, distance and calories burned. I focused mainly on the number of steps per day and set a goal of 10,000 steps.   It became a fun game to see how close I could get to that goal by the end of the day. I wore the wristband all day so it calculated the steps from my early morning workout and all steps taken in the course of the day. As the weather warmed I started “serious” walking outside in the early evening and on weekends. On the days that I reached my 10,000 steps the wristband would flash a light and vibrate. I was simply competing against myself and it became great fun and the pounds came off. On the nutrition side, I discovered how tasty Greek low-fat yogourt is with fresh berries – just about as good as any dessert. I developed the habit of checking and comparing the ingredients listed on food labels in order to make better choices.

trudy_afterSlow and easy wins the race and by the end of May I had reached my goal and lost 15 lbs. I then decided to shoot for another 5 lbs which I lost by late June so I ended up at 125 lbs which seemed like a good weight for me.

Some may have preferred faster results but I was thrilled and it hadn’t been all that difficult. Most importantly I have developed the habit of a healthier lifestyle with regular workouts and good nutrition. The occasional treat isn’t a bad thing but I quite enjoy my regular diet. I eat frequently (i.e. morning and afternoon snacks) plus main meals. I don’t use my food app anymore since I have a good sense of what is best for me to eat. I regularly check the labels on foods before I purchase anything new. I don’t eat much bread but when I do I look for unbleached non-enriched flour and whole grains. And, I’ve maintained the same weight. Come spring I will likely pull out the “fit bit” again and do some serious walking just because it’s fun as well as a great exercise with the added benefit of fresh air.

If my story helps to encourage one person to pursue a weight management goal which they had given up on then I will be very happy. Wishing everyone a happy and healthy lifestyle in 2015.

By Trudy Connelly
Church Media Coordinator


24 Amazing Volunteer Opportunities

February 1st, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Lifestyle

Go Organic in Mallorca, Spain

Pedruxella_Gran_Mallorca_Spain_VoluntourismMission: Pedruxella Gran creates and promotes organic farming in their historic olive grove.
Best for: Ecoconscious food fans.
Your job: Consider yourself an ol’ farmhand. Care for the gardens and animals, prune and harvest olives and carobs, etc.
What we love: The farm has been family owned and operated for 40 years. The property dates back to the 13th century and is listed in Spain’s historic catalog.
Good to know: There’s always time for hiking, swimming, biking, and relaxing on the property.
Intensity level: Medium. Volunteers farm six hours a day, five days a week.
Here’s the story: Going Organic on the Mediterranean

Ride the Waves in Lobitos, Peru

WAVES-for-development-lobitos-gary-parkerMission: WAVES for Development teaches at-risk youth to surf and engage with nature.
Best for: Strong swimmers.
Your job: Participate in community service activities such as beach clean-ups, and assist with English language instruction or other school classes.
What we love: Community outreach, environmental education, and economic empowerment are all part of the deal.
Good to know: Volunteers educate based on an area of expertise — art, business education, computer science, etc. Teaching a child how to use a camera on the beach can change the entire course of their lives.
Intensity level: Low. Working with kids, catching waves, hangin’ ten.

Cruise with a Conscience Down the African Coast

Mercy_Ships_African_coast_voluntourismMission: Mercy ShipsAfrica Mercy is a floating hospital that provides medical care to developing countries.
Best for: People comfortable in a hospital environment. Doctors and nurses a plus.
Your job: The ship is like a small city and needs everyone from cooks to teachers to receptionists to keep it running.
What we love: A serious mission, the tightly knit community keeps things fun with sporting activities, excursions, and time off for volunteers.
Good to know: It’s a faith-based organization with a vibrant church scene.
Intensity level: High. But if you think the concept of a traveling hospital is as awesome as we do, this is a cause worth sailing the seven seas for.
Here’s the Story: All Aboard the World’s Most Charitable Ship

Ride on Horseback Through the Indian Desert

Relief_Riders_International_India_voluntourismMission: Relief Riders International provides humanitarian relief to the people of Rajasthan, India, on horseback.
Best for: Horseriding enthusiasts.
Your job: Ride alongside founder Alexander Souri and his team of doctors and help set up medical camps in small desert villages.
What we love: The extremely unique experience of volunteer and adventure travel.
Good to know: Fast and slow paced riding groups are organized. Non-medical volunteers are welcome.
Intensity level: High. It’s a unique experience of bonding, immersion, and seeing a side of India you would never experience on a regular tour.
Here’s the story: To the Horses of Humanity; Heroes on Horseback in India: Relief Riders International

Go Remote in the Amazon

Pachamama_Journeys_Amazon_voluntourismMission: The Pachamama Alliance immerses volunteers with the Achuar people, one of the most remote and intact indigenous cultures on the planet.
Best for: Jungle pioneers.
Your job: Participate in the traditions of an indigenous Amazonian tribe.
What we love: Unplug your phone. Connect with nature.
Good to know: Weeklong trips in Ecuador focus on a different aspect of the Achuar way of life. Earth-based spirituality, Amazonian immersion, and exploring ancestral lands are all possibilities.
Intensity level: Medium. The jungle can be tough (bugs. animals. heat.), but the trip is all about cultural exchange.

Get Close to Endangered Species

The_Great_Projects_indonesian_borneo_voluntourismWho: The Great Projects facilitates trips with local organizations that work with endangered animals through ecofriendly research and rescue missions.
Best for: Animal lovers with craftsmanship skills.
Your job: Provide extra muscle — welding, building, and carpentry skills a plus.
What we love: Rehabilitating orangutan populations in Indonesian Borneo and saving tigers on safari in India.
Good to know: Trips are short-term and family friendly, so cancel your beach vacation and save elephants instead.
Intensity level: Medium. Difficulty depends on the animal and its environment, but staying in beautiful eco lodges, wildlife conservation centers, and safari parks make the experience extra special.
Here’s the Story: I Followed Orangutans Down the Road Less Traveled

Build Community in Thailand

Localalike_Thailand_voluntourismMission: Local Alike creates economic growth and employment opportunities in rural Thailand through community based tourism and cultural exhange.
Best for: People who want to explore Thailand’s jungles and villages with people who know it best.
Your job: Support villages through cross-cultural engagement.
What we love: Immerse directly with locals as they welcome you into their homes.
Good to know: Various activities are lead by people in the communities: moutain climbing, camping, tours, etc.
Intensity level: Low. Camping and trekking trips are more intense than village stays. You can expect hot water in some places, but forget about WiFi.
Here’s the story: Local Alike Builds Community in Thailand

Rehabilitate Haiti

English_in_Mind_Haiti_voluntourismMission: English in Mind Institute helps Haitian adults find long-term, meaningful employment by teaching them English.
Best for: People with classroom experience who love kids.
Your job: Spend mornings volunteering at orphanages and afternoons teaching English to adult students.
What we love: The ten-day volunteer trip includes a tour of Port-au-Prince and some beach time.
Good to know: A thing or two about teaching English. It helps if you know French, too.
Intensity level: Medium. Working with non-English speaking children and adults in poverty is intense but well-balanced with some beachy relaxation.
Here’s the story: Keeping Haiti in Mind, How I Got Hooked on Haiti

Protect Mother Nature in the USA

Sierra_Club_Appalachians_voluntourismWho: Sierra Club builds and maintains trails, parks, and wildlife conservation areas throughout the U.S.
Best for: Outdoorsy types.
Your job: Mother Nature’s personal janitor/custodian.
What we love: Pioneer conservationist John Muir founded the organization in 1892, before conservationism was even a thing. That’s legit.
Good to know: It’s the largest and most influential environmental organization in the United States.
Intensity level: High. Trips involve long hours of outdoor physical labor. But nature is invigorating.

Finance Social Enterprise in Zambia and Nicaragua

Spark_Ventures_Nicaragua_voluntourismMission: Spark Ventures is business-driven philanthropy that partners with grassroots organizations to serve children in developing countries.
Best for: People who want to invest in local endowments and then see their donation at work.
Your job: Investor and cultural ambassador.
What we love: It’s about more than just dropping off a pile of supplies. Ensure that children are benefitting from the aid provided to become successful community members.
Good to know: Week and weekend long Executive Trips are options for busy professionals who want to give back.
Intensity level: Low. Trips are short and most activities involve play.
Here’s the story: Giving Back: Spark on a Children’s Crusade

Make New Friends in Guatemala

Guatemala_Viamistad_voluntourism_24_bestWho: Viamistad runs camps that foster friendships between people with and without disabilities.
Best for: Patient souls. Spanish speakers desirable.
Your job: Work one-on-one with a disabled camper and facilitate activities at Camp Kikotimaal.
What we love: Defying stereotypes of disabled people through lasting friendships.
Good to know: Camp is ten days and activities include all the fun, campy necessities: swimming, horseback riding, arts, sports, and field trips. Most volunteers are Guatemalan, but people from the U.S. volunteer every year.
Intensity level: Medium. Working with the disabled requires patience. But it’s mixed with campfires, starry nights, and laid-back fun.
Here’s the story: See the video.

Empower Economies

Foundation_for_Sustainable_Development_Bolivi_avoluntourismMission: Foundation for Sustainable Development trains students and professionals while providing support to partner NGOs in developing countries.
Best for: Interning abroad, gap year students, and young professionals.
Your job: Engage in community-specific issues (environment, economy) and monitor their efficacy.
What we love: Understand the inner-workings of the NGOs that you’re supporting. Maybe it’ll inspire you to start your own one day.
Good to know: ProCorps Volunteer trips are for professionals with five-plus years of experience in a specific area of focus. Global Service Trips are short-term group trips organized through local partners.
Intensity level: Medium. Programs are immersive and can last up to a year.

Up the Altitude

Radiating_Hope_mountain_climbs_voluntourismMission: Radiating Hope raises money for cancer research by leading mountain climbs.
Best for: Real-deal mountain climbers. Beware if you have a fear of heights.
Your job: Climb the world’s highest peaks and help scientists get one step closer to curing cancer.
What we love: Climbs have been led on eleven mountains in seven countries on six different continents and counting. Talk about really seeing the view from the top.
Good to know: Training and fundraising is required before setting out on a climb.
Intensity level: High. Appropriate physical training and gear are required before setting out. High altitudes only make the hike tougher. But isn’t it all worth it when you’re standing on top of the world?

Open Your Eyes Under Water

Gansaabi_South_Africa_Marine_Dynamics_voluntourismMission: Marine Volunteers is dedicated to ocean conservation. The Gansaabi, South Africa-based program is run by a crew of marine biologists and endangered species specialists.
Best for: Nautical obsessives with sturdy sea legs.
Your job: Study behavior, biology, and ocean conservation with marine biologists. Jump in the water with the ocean’s most menacing (misunderstood?) species.
What we love: Stay a week at the Great White House and a donation is made in your name to the African Penguin Project.
Good to know: Those scarred by Jaws can work at a penguin-nesting site or monitor whales and dolphins.
Intensity level: Low. You’ll be on deck for the most part, but shark diving is available — if you’re up for it.
Here’s the story: Diving With the Great Whites of Gansbaai

Rebuild New Orleans

United_Saints_Recovery_Project_New_Orleans_voluntourismMission: United Saints Recovery Project rebuilds and strengthens New Orleans communities that have been affected by Hurricane Katrina (yes, there’s still work to be done).
Best for: The willing and able.
Your job: Get physical gutting, painting, flooring, sanding, and repairing damaged homes.
What we love: The org sponsors specific families; you’ll work on one home at a time.
Good to know: Short and long-term volunteer options are available. Long-term volunteers stay in dorms with bunk beds, and some meals are included.
Intensity level: Medium. Projects are physically demanding, but you’ll have all the comforts and celebration that comes natural to The Big Easy.

Follow Your Donation to Kenya and El Salvador

OKOW_Nicaragua_Zambia_voluntourismMission: One Kid One World rebuilds dilapidated schools for communities in need.
Best for: Travel junkies who love kids.
Your job: Cultural ambassador.
What we love: Trips are hands-on and allow you to form friendships with the people who benefit from your donations.
Good to know: Trips to Kenya are a week long and include multiple school visits. El Salvador trips are run over a long weekend and are spent at one school.
Intensity level: Low. “Extreme Classroom Makeovers” involve cleaning and decorating classrooms to the beat of a local DJ.
Here’s the story: One Kid, One World, One Incredible Trip; Fathom contributor Stephanie March’s Keyna Diaries Parts One, Two, and Three

Craft With Local Artisans in Oaxaca, Mexico

Oaxaca_Nest_voluntourismMission: Nest works with local artisans to enhance their brands on a global scale.
Your job: Craft alongside Oaxaca’s local pottery makers.
What we love: Integrate cultural immersion with travel while supporting local business and original craft.
Good to know: The trip is five days long and will run this January.
Intensity level: Low. Stay in colonial-style boutique hotels, get a taste of favorite local dishes, and dance the night away in the city’s local square. Return home with a beautiful, handmade keepsake of your own.

Go Back to the Land in St. Croix

Ridge_to_Reef_Farm_St._Croix_voluntourismMission: Ridge to Reef organic farm encourages a healthier island lifestyle.
Best for: People who want to learn about organic farming. On a tropical island.
Your job: Become a steward of the land.
What we love: The only certified organic farm in the Virgin Islands stresses respecting local communities as much as its agriculture practices.
Good to now: Take a day tour or opt for a longer Farm Stay. Go camping, stay in a tree house cabana, or upgrade to the Hawk’s Nest, a beautiful villa overlooking the farm. Organic-minded couples can also get married on the farm for an adorably sustainable wedding.
Intensity level: Low. Learn from natives and forge a deeper connection with nature.
Here’s the story: Giving Back: Ridge to Reef Farm, He Built a Farm in Paradise

Travel Mindfully in Tibet

Tibetan_Village_Project_voluntourismMission: Tibetan Village Project facilitates cultural exchange between travelers and the people of the Tibetan Plateau.
Best for: People who want to make real connections with local communities.
Your job: Participate in service projects and/or explore the country with locals.
What we love: Staying at Tibetan family homes instead of at hotels gives you a glimpse into daily life in the region.
Good to know: Conscious Journeys, the org’s responsible travel program, carefully plans sustainable travel experiences with local Tibetans.
Intensity level: Low. Some trips are heavy on direct service and volunteering, while others focus more on travel.

Make Community Service the New Normal

Projects_Abroad_global_voluntourismMission: Projects Abroad encourages young people to volunteer for worthwhile causes to make society more service-minded.
Best for: Students looking to volunteer or intern. Projects for professionals are also available.
Your job: Be an extra set of hands.
What we love: Interning at a Human Rights NGO in Argentina, teaching English as a foreign language, and coaching children’s sports teams are all options.
Good to know: The most popular programs are the Care Projects, which involve working with children at orphanages and day care centers.
Intensity level: Varied. Long-term trips involve certifications; Alternative Spring Break trips are great for college students; Global Gap Year options for recent grads are endless.

Dive in With Endangered Marine Life

Oceanic_Society_whale_watching_voluntourismMission: Oceanic Society deepens the connection between people and the ocean through conservation and travel programs.
Best for: Families and couples who want to learn more about marine life (and don’t get seasick).
Your job: Accompany scientists on sea-bound research expeditions.
What we love: Whale watching, polar cruises, snorkeling adventures, and wildlife encounters.
Good to know: Expeditions are all over the world, concentrated mainly throughout the Pacific.
Intensity level: Low. Explore local environments and monitor marine life.

Get Physical in The Maldives

Maldives_Atoll_voluntourismMission: Atoll Volunteers builds a strong, self-sustainable community.
Best for: Anyone who wants a side of cultural immersion with their beach vacation.
Your job: The island is big on sports. Act as a children’s football coach or fitness instructor.
What we love: Community development, marine conservation, and education are stressed. Also, the Maldives. Enough said.
Good to know: Programs range from two to twelve weeks. Island excursions, snorkeling and fishing trips, and diving expeditions are all possibilities during time off.
Intensity level: Low. Tropical beaches, friendly locals, and beach volleyball hardly sounds like work.

Raise Your Hands for Malawi, Africa

H.E.L.P._Malawi_voluntourismMission: H.E.L.P. Malawi provides education for the children of rural Africa.
Best for: People with prior classroom or tutoring experience.
Your job: Tutor in remedial English and instruct after school English lessons and activities at Nanthomba Primary School.
What we love: Lifestyle Programs encourage children to stay in school and develop skills like sewing, tailoring, musicianship, and computer proficiency.
Good to know: Volunteers live in dorms at the Namthomba school. A minimum of three months commitment is required.
Intensity level: Medium. It’s a long time away from home, but the Malawi people are warm and inviting.

Live Like a Local on Vorovoro

Vorovoro_Fiji_VoluntourismMission: Bridge the Gap fosters economic sustainability through tourism, apprenticeships, business mentorship, and local employment.
Best for: Anyone interested in Fijian culture.
Your job: Singing and cooking with the locals, learning the language, and enjoying the natural beauty of the island.
What we love: Enjoy all the perks of a beach vacation while learning from locals. Your money goes right back into the community.
Good to know: Create jobs and learning opportunities while empowering cultural and environmental pride.
Intensity level: Low. It’s mostly about your economic contribution to the local tourism industry you are helping to create.
Here’s the story: Giving Back: Bridge the Gap Villages, Fiji, Vorovoro: The Little Island that Could


14 Reasons to Celebrate Your Singleness This Valentine’s Day

February 1st, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Encouragement
14reasons-300x300Valentine’s Day is upon us, and few things send single women running for the Ben & Jerry’s faster than the thought of spending another February 14th alone. From the obnoxious singling gorillas in silk boxers (I mean, c’mon…what self-respecting man (or ape) still wears silk boxers?!?) that assault our ears at Walgreens to the obnoxious “I love my hubby soooooooo much!” posts that wage war on our Facebook feeds…let’s face it: Valentine’s Day is not an equal opportunity holiday.That’s why I wanted to flip the script a little bit this year and provide single ladies everywhere with a little positive motivation for the next two weeks. If Valentine’s Day is the “Holiday of Love,” isn’t this the perfect time to love yourself a little more fiercely? To remind yourself of how strong, and spirited, and independent you are? To celebrate yourself and your life a little? So if you’re sad and mopey and struggling with the fact that another Valentine’s is dawning and you’re not yet a party of two…here are fourteen reasons why no one deserves your love more than YOU! (Every day I’m going to replace each reason with a quote image. Feel free to grab & share!)













And if you’re STILL struggling to celebrate yourself this Valentine’s Day…You can pick up my books, The Single Woman: Life, Love, & a Dash of Sass and I’ve Never Been to Vegas, but My Luggage Has: Mishaps & Miracles on the Road to Happily Ever After at any bookstore! (Or order them by clicking the links)


The Duggars’ 7 tips for keeping your marriage sexy, even after (a lot of) kids

February 1st, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Advice and Tips

First comes love, then comes marriage... then lots and lots of babies, if you're the Duggars. Michelle and Jim Bob with their 19 children, each of whom plays an instrument.


It’s one of the mysteries of large families like the Duggars, of TLC’s “19 Kids and Counting” fame: How do they do it?

Not how do they manage that many kids, though that’s a good question, too. But how do they do IT?

Once you have, say, 10 children, how on earth do you find the energy and motivation to make kids 11-19?

TODAY Moms asked, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar answered. Whatever you think of their large family and reality TV show, let’s give credit where it’s due: They honestly seem to be quite in love with each other, and they know a thing or two about keeping the sexual sparks alive. Just in time for Valentine’s Day, and exclusively for TODAY Moms, the Duggars offer couples the following advice for romance after (lots of) kids:

1. Say yes to sex, even when you’re tired. Michelle says a friend gave her advice to live by before she and Jim Bob married in 1984: “She said, ‘In your marriage there will be times you’re going to be very exhausted. Your hubby comes home after a hard day’s work, you get the baby to bed, and he is going to be looking forward to that time with you.'” — she’s talking about sex, just so everyone’s clear — “‘Be available. Anyone can fix him lunch, but only one person can meet that physical need of love that he has, and you always need to be available when he calls.'”

At the time, as a young bride-to-be, Michelle says, she couldn’t imagine ever not wanting to “be available” for some quality married nookie. But with kids, she soon realized, exhaustion can easily extinguish romance. So she’s made an effort to follow her friend’s advice — and with no birth control and 19 kids, it would seem she’s succeeded. “That has been such a lifesaver for our marriage,” she tells TODAY Moms.

Seems to be working for Jim Bob, too: “We’re like a newlywed couple every day!” he enthuses.

Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar will celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary this July.


2. But give it a rest sometimes. It’s not all sexytime at the Duggars. They abstain when Michelle has her period, and also after childbirth: 80 days before sex if it’s a girl, 40 days after a boy. (The timeline for abstinence after childbirth is loosely based on Old Testament traditions, but is more about what works for their marriage than about observing religious law, the Duggars say.) A bit of abstinence, they’ve found, does make the heart grow fonder.

“When you’ve missed it for seven days, you look forward to it even more,” Michelle says.

Let's get it on! The Duggars circa 1984. Marriage can be hot, Michelle and Jim Bob say.


3. Treat your wife like a queen. Lest you think Duggar romance is all about the baby-making, they note that emotional intimacy is important, too. Even in the whirlwind of raising 19 kids, they do little things like sending each other “I love you” texts, calling each other “Sweetie,” and kissing in the kitchen. Jim Bob seems to put Michelle on a pedestal; and to be fair, she does the same to him.

“That’s key in a relationship, the husband needs to cherish his wife and always treat his wife like a queen,” Jim Bob says.

Muscle cars are a known aphrodisiac... Michelle and Jim Bob get frisky in the early 80s.


4. The strong, silent type is overrated. “He shares his heart with me, his struggles, his fears and his dreams,” Michelle tells TODAY Moms. “Many men would not do that, but God’s word says that before honor comes humility. When he learns to humble himself before God and me, it builds him up so much in my eyes.”

Still in love: Michelle and Jim Bob say sex is important in their relationship.


5. Perfectionism kills romance. While many of us are trained to be detail-oriented and strive for perfection at work, Jim Bob says bringing that attitude home can be a relationship-killer. Withholding praise makes your loved ones lose that loving feeling. “Expectations ruin relationships,” Jim Bob warns.

Before 19 kids: Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar before their marriage in 1984.


6. Make time for date night. Michelle and Jim Bob go out, just the two of them, every Saturday night. Sure, they often end up talking about the kids, but it’s still an important time for them to reconnect. They usually go to Michelle’s favorite ice cream shop. “It’s a really special time,” Jim Bob says.

Still sweet on you: Despite a literal bus-load of kids, Michelle and Jim Bob make time for a date night every week.


7. Never stop learning. After 30 years of marriage and 19 kids, Jim Bob and Michelle are still interested in discovering others’ advice for a happy partnership. They recently met an Amish couple who’d celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary and asked them their secret. Their answer? The phrases, “I was wrong” and “Will you forgive me?”

A shared love of fantastic hair kept the Duggars together over the years: Just kidding, their shared values and faith in God were probably more important. Still, the hair doesn't hurt.



Surviving Valentine’s Day in Your Marriage

February 1st, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Advice and Tips
Surviving Valentine’s Day in Your Marriagea special holiday marked by finding creative and thoughtful ways to share the gift of love.

“Surviving Valentine’s Day” makes me think of an encouraging article of “How-To’s” for singles so they do not feel left out on such a beautiful day of celebration. However, I believe as wives we can also use a little encouragement in this area.

In my first few years of marriage, I had extremely high expectations of over-the-top romantic gestures from my husband on Valentine’s Day. But over the years I have learned that those expectations can lead to huge disappointment in marriage when left unmet. And knowing my husband naturally struggles to find romantic ways of pursuing me, this one day adds more pressure on him making Valentine’s more of a burden than an enjoyable occasion of celebration.

Perhaps you know all too well what I am describing?

Here are a few pointers for wives who feel like they need to survive Valentine’s Day:

– Romantically Pursue your husband! Don’t leave all the pressure of creative planning up to him. If you have specific expectations of how you desire the day to be celebrated, either surprise him or communicate and plan with him to make it a great day that satisfies.

– Look at it like every other day of the year! You are married and every day is an opportunity to express your love for each other. How your husband usually expresses his love for you is most likely what you can look forward to during Valentine’s Day as well. And if he decides to change things up, let the surprise rock your world!

– Together you and your husband can choose to boycott the overly advertised Valentine’s Day gift ideas for ones that are very personal and meaningful to you and him.

– Avoid social media for that day so you do not get caught up in comparing your marriage and husband to someone else’s based on how others celebrated. This will also help you to keep your phone or computer off while giving your husband some undivided attention.

If you are like me, a wife who can sometimes get frustrated toward her husband on a day of the year that is purposed to celebrate love, then these tips will hopefully help you set your attitude and your heart toward Valentine’s Day before it comes. My desire is that these words encourage you to remember that celebrating Valentine’s Day can and should be a unique experience for you and your husband. I want to warn you not to let your expectations of the special day leave you disappointed or feeling unworthy, especially when your husband does value you!

I know my husband loves me incredibly, and yet so many times I felt hurt because he didn’t fulfill Valentine’s Day like I thought he should have for me. Looking back I see not only was my perspective very selfish, but my hurt feelings left me unable to truly connect with my husband when he did in fact desire to do so.

Take a moment and strip your expectations of Valentine’s Day with your husband so you can do more than just survive it, but all the more so you and your husband can thrive while celebrating your love for each other! 

Jennifer Smith

– Jennifer Smith

Make Beavertails at Home

February 1st, 2015 | 1 Comment | Posted in Recipes
It’s not a Canadian winter without Beavertails! Winterlude is on now (until February 16th) and it’s the perfect time to get a Beavertail… eating it with your mitts still on, the crisp air adding crunch to the top layer of cinnamon and sugar while the soft inside dough provides warmth after a long day of skating on the Rideau Canal.Here’s a recipe so you can make your own at any time of year!

beavertails 2

1/2 cup warm water
5 teaspoons dry yeast
1 pinch sugar
1/3 cup warm milk
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1/3 cup oil
5 cups self rising flour
Vegetable oil for frying
Cinnamon sugar


In a large mixing bowl, stir together the yeast, warm water and pinch of sugar.

Allow to stand a couple of minutes to allow yeast to swell and dissolve.

Stir in remaining sugar, milk, vanilla, eggs, oil, salt and most of flour to make soft dough.
Knead 5-8 minutes (by hand or with dough hook), adding flour as needed to form a firm, smooth, elastic dough.

Place in a greased bowl. Place bowl in a plastic bag and seal. (if not using right away, you can refrigerate the dough at this point)

Let rise in a covered, lightly greased bowl; about 30-40 minutes.

Gently deflate dough (if dough is coming out of the fridge, allow to warm up about 40 minutes before proceeding):
Pinch off a golfball sized piece of dough. Roll out into an oval ad let rest, covered with a teatowel while you are preparing the remaining dough.

Heat about 5 cm of oil in the fryer in a wok. After a few minutes, drop a little dough in the oil. If it sizzles and browns up, then the oil is ready.

Add the dough pieces to the hot oil, about 1-2 at a time.

BUT!! Before you do, stretch the ovals into a tail shape – like a beavers tail – thinning them out and enlarging them as you do.

Turn once to fry until the undersides are deep brown. DO NOT WALK AWAY FROM THE STOVE as the tails burn quickly.
Lift the tails out with tongs and drain on paper towels.

Immediately toss the tails in cinnamon sugar and shake off.


Click here for the Winterlude schedule.


Beauty Knows No Limits

February 1st, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Videos