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Dear Mushka,

A Q&A with Katie and Robert on Christian Marriage

A Q&A with Katie and Robert on Christian Marriage

I asked the Dear Mushka Instagram community for questions for a Q&A the other day and received so many about marriage! Robert and I answered them over on my stories, which you can find here or simply read below.

In short, we are two simple people that God has brought together for His glory. We are not perfect and this is not a perfect marriage. The Lord constantly keeps us humble and real.

What’s our dating story?

Robert and I met in college. I had recently broken up with the boyfriend I had followed to college and we met at the college ministry we were a part of. We talked for the first time at a football game. I wanted to talk to him to make another boy jealous - yes, I was 19 and not very smart! We started talking and really enjoyed our conversation so we decided to meet up another time.

We didn’t officially start dating for a few months because I was silly and wanted to wait. We dated for a while and broke up just before Valentine’s Day. But I just knew we’d get married. I don’t know why, but I was pretty confident.

Robert was a new believer and really needed some time to grow. I knew we had issues to work on and was grateful for the time apart to grow. A few months later he came back around and our relationship did a complete 180! We dated for a few months, got engaged and married in 2010.

I love that our dating story is beautifully imperfect, just like us!

How do you know who you are supposed to marry? Is the right spouse just about finding someone who loves the Lord?

It’s more than just finding someone who loves the Lord. Love for the Lord is a great starting point but there can be more to it. God can work through all marriages (even if you are married to a non-believer), but if you’re choosing a spouse look for someone who wants to pursue the Lord fully.

Marriage is too hard not to like the person you are married to. There are seasons and you’ve got to fight for what you want to be true. You’ve got to like the person, want to be around them and see the potential in them.

It’s easy for women to come up with a check list for what you want in a spouse and sometimes the Lord can work through that. But ultimately, don’t limit God to what you think you need. God gives us wisdom! He is for marriage and He is for Christian unions and He will lead us to the right person.

I think He gives us peace when it’s a yes and discomfort when it’s not right. This doesn’t mean that the “right person” doesn’t mean you won’t have trial and suffering in your marriage! But the Lord will give you peace and wisdom when you call out for help.

Find someone who’s imperfections you can live with. Don’t count on change. Can we commit to loving the person in front of us and the person they will become?

Marriage is also not the goal of the Christian life! The Lord works through both marriage and singleness. We still feel lonely, angry and sad in marriage. God is our only hope and lasting joy!

Advice for newlyweds?

If there is frequent bickering (not real issues), you might not be having enough sex? God uses it to form real intimacy. Pray for it and work towards loving one another in that way. I received this advice as a newly wed and it was so helpful!

Also, learn one another. It can be through the enneagram, another test or studying one another. Know that you and your spouse are very different people. You’ll give so much more grace when you understand someone else’s why.

Protect what your spouse is walking through. Your husband does not need you to go behind his back about what he is struggling with. If it isn’t a big issues, speak uplifting words about your spouse. Be champions of each other’s sanctification. If you need prayer for your marriage, make it about YOU.

How do you handle differences of opinion on big matters?

Adoption is the biggest difference we’ve ever had. I felt called to adoption and Robert didn’t. In those situations, commit to praying. God isn’t trying to cause discord between the two of you so seek His wisdom. Ask for a heart that’s willing to submit and respect your husband.

Still talk about big decision and as best as you can, don’t move forward until you can agree. Don’t let yourself be resentful at your spouse.

What to do when one person is pursuing God more than the other?

We’ve experienced this in our marriage and it’s important to learn that your relationship with God will look different than your spouse’s. Robert is never going to have lifetime goals, prayer journals and do everything that I do in my quiet time with the Lord.

Make sure you are giving grace for a person to grow differently than you. Different isn’t wrong or less then.

No man has ever been nagged into pursuing the Lord. You can pray in times of need for your spouse - pray for wisdom and guidance and strength until your spouse is ready to pursue the Lord again. That’s what you do!

Everything is an opportunity to humble yourself and rely on the Lord. Make the goal for everyone to love God more (all of us need to love Him more) because He is worthy of our praise and love!

I hope this was helpful, to hear two very real people talking about marriage! You can catch the video of Robert and I discussing our marriage here. Follow along on Instagram where we post our monthly Q&A’s, answering all of your questions.

My Go-To Parenting Books

My Go-To Parenting Books

I love to read and have always found a wealth of helpful knowledge and wisdom in books. Here are my go-tos when it comes, specifically, to raising up children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. 

(Click photos for a direct link)

1. The Bible. And I don't say this lightly! If you are longing for wisdom on how to raise children who know and love God, prioritize your own knowledge and love of the Lord. The only way you can rightly reflect His character is to make a study of it. 

While The Bible doesn't address specific disciplinary issues like entire other books do, it is full of wisdom straight from the heart of God on every issue we could want. Friendships, sibling relationships, telling the truth, handling anger, etc. 

 

2. This is the best parenting book I have ever read, aside from the Bible. It isn't very practical (which drove me nuts at first), but gets to the heart of our role as parent and what it should look like. It radically changed how I see raising children, and is a book I reference often. I can't recommend it more!

“When you think your job is to change your child and you’ve been given the power to do it, your parenting will tend to be demanding , aggressive, threatening, and focused on rules and punishments. In this kind of parenting you are working to make your children into something rather than working to help them to see something and seek something. In this form of parenting, it is all about you and your children, rather than you being an agent of what only God can do in your children. Your hope is that you will exercise the right power, at the right time, and in the right way so change in your children will result. That process is profoundly different than working to be a useful tool in the hands of a God of glorious transforming grace, who alone is your hope and the hope of your children.” 
― Paul David Tripp

 

3. This was the first book I read that encouraged me to use scripture to guide the little hearts in my home. It was such an obvious answer, but I'd never seen it done before! The book is practical with lots of examples, and packed with scripture. 

(We have a new product coming this Fall that you'll love if you loved this book!)

 

4. I've made it a point to ask great parents what helped them as they learned to instruct their children, and they almost always include this book as one of the most beneficial tools. And after reading it, I see why! 

It's written by Christians and has scripture inside, but is incredibly practical. It walks through parenting with consequences instead of threats, shame, etc and has lots of examples to learn from. I'm having my husband read it now! 

 

5. This book is similar to the one above. It's recommended over and over again, is full of practical examples, and is packed with wisdom from people who really understand the way children think.

There were a few chapters/examples in this book that I put into action and immediately saw changes from. It's excellent! 

 

6. Sally Clarkson has been a spiritual mother to me through her writing, and it all started with this book. Its goal is similar to no.2 on this list, getting to the real heart and purpose of motherhood. She draws you into her home and experiences as a mother, encouraging and motivating you do live each day intentionally. 

“My calling as a mother is the same as any other Christian’s: to fulfill God’s will for our lives and to glorify him. This means I am to follow the Lord’s design for my marriage—cleaving to my husband, supporting him, honoring him, loving him as my own flesh. I am to be a careful steward of the world in which I live. I am to seek opportunities to bring God’s message of redemption to others, to make full use of the gifts and talents he has placed in my life to bring him glory and further his kingdom. And I am to delight in him and worship him and praise him in whatever circumstance I find myself.” 

 

7. This is another Sally Clarkson book. It's less about discipline and more about a home's God-loving culture, but it encouraged me to be more intentional and consistent in my parenting, so I included it here, too.

 

8. If you have boys, this has been a great read and reference. My heart is wired so differently from the men in my home, I need to know how they operate and think! This one is broken up into age sections so I've read a few chapters and will continue to go back to it as my boys get older. So helpful!

 

9. I haven't read this yet, but the Risen Motherhood podcast has been such a helpful resource for me (and so many others!) in motherhood, I know the book will be just as lovely. I'm so grateful for other women walking this road alongside me, longing to glorify Christ in all we do. 

Our Family Trip to 30A

Our Family Trip to 30A

I've been vacationing to Florida basically every year since I was little. My family used to do Destin or Panama City, and now we go with Robert's family to the "30A" strip of beaches that runs in between those two big cities.

It's such a fun area- packed with good places to eat, bike paths for traveling the few miles between beach after beach, and lots of memories. 

The boys (ages 4, 2, 3 months) did so well in the car! We left early in the morning when we knew our youngest would be most apt to take a good nap. For the other two, I packed them each a "car bag" with a few car activities and snacks. We also checked out library books that they weren't allowed to look at until we were traveling. (The bags also had a change of clothes inside because #reallife). After they enjoyed the car activities for a few hours, they were allowed to watch a movie on the iPad.

A few things in their bags: 

This, this, this (non messy creativity), and this

Our condo room (here!) wasn't ready when we got there so we spent a few hours at The Hub. It's a really cool area, with lots of walk-up places to grab food, comfy seating, shopping, and most importantly astroturf for wiggly kids to run around on. We got lunch, ice cream, and lots of energy out! 

Everyday, we ate breakfast and hung out in the condo for a few hours while our littlest guy took a morning nap. Then we headed to the beach for a few hours, where we spent the majority of the time in the ocean... and eating snacks/lunch. Around 1, we'd come inside for naps/ quiet time. Robert got a few hours of work in and I enjoyed reading (and napping, too!) Then, more beach time until the boys were absolutely ready for bed. 6:30pm on the beach is the best time, we didn't want to miss it! 

I packed the boys' lunches and dinners in these boxes to make mealtimes easy. I didn't cook dinner once- they loved eating sandwiches, fruit, and goldfish on the beach every day. 

Robert and I went out twice (below) and otherwise ate simple foods, too. It was really nice to take a cooking break for a week :)

We were there over the 4th of July, which is fun. Almost every beach from Destin to Panama City has their own firework show so you can sit on the beach (or condo patio) and watch them all go off. Individuals do their own shows on the beach, too! 

On my birthday, Robert and I went on a date to la Crema- it's an excellent tapas and chocolates restaurant in Rosemary Beach. I'm already excited to go back next year ha! Another night, we went out with family to George's. It gets really crowded, especially towards the end of the week, so plan to go early! 



On the last night, we played in the ocean until everyone was completely prune-y and ate pizza on the beach. 

It was such a special week, and proof that you can travel (albeit, just a few states away) with three little children. Of course, we were all exhausted at the end but memories were made and we loved being together for a solid week!

Our Goals for Summer

Our Goals for Summer

Every Summer, I choose a few skill activities for each of my children to work on and a heart "theme" for us to focus on as a family. This helps keeps me intentional as I mother and also gives direction to our days. 

Here's what this Summer looks like: 

Skill Activities for my boys

Do a puzzle alone and with joy 

Be able to "read" quietly for 20 minutes (snacks help this)

Write all letters (for my 4 year old, just something to work towards)

Put shoes on and off by himself (for my 2 year old)

Ride bike without training wheels (for my 4 year old... check!)

Swim without floats (for my 4 year old)

Learn to use words before screaming (for my 2 year old, ha!)

 

Heart Focus for our family: Prayer! 

We're memorizing The Lord's Prayer (to the tune of Barney's "I love you") and spending meal times talking about what the words mean. 

We're also learning to be quick to ask for God's help as we exhibit fruits of the Spirit, trusting in His capabilities instead of our own (failing) strength. 

We reference this art print frequently, which also helps the boys learn their letters. I'll say "which fruit should we pray for in this scenario with your brother" and one of them will say "love!" or whatever and then they'll find it on the print and maybe even write out the word or trace it. 

These are simple goals, but they're effective and so helpful as we long to make Christ's name great in our home and beyond. 

How we meal plan (and your ideas, too!)

How we meal plan (and your ideas, too!)

Over the years, I've found that meal planning is easiest for my family when I choose a theme for each night of the week. It limits my choices, preventing me from decision fatigue, and also lets my family know what to expect. 

This Summer, our schedule looks like this: 

M: Grill Night- usually chicken or steak with veggies and brown rice 

T: Mexican Night- tacos, quesadillas, burrito bowls with chips and salsa or guacamole, rice, and/or a corn dish 

W: Pasta Night- spaghetti or some other pasta with added chicken and a salad

Th: Breakfast Night- eggs, bacon, and waffles, biscuits, french toast, etc

F: Leftovers or Pizza

S: Out- either our date night or a family night to chipotle

S: Hotdogs from church. Alternative is sandwiches. 

As the seasons change, we'll adjust this to be more appropriate!

·

I asked you all on Instagram for some other night themes; here's a big list for us to all reference!

  • Grill 
  • Mexican
  • Pasta
  • Italian
  • Breakfast
  • Leftovers
  • Pizza
  • Sandwiches
  • Salad
  • One Sheet Pan
  • Crock Pot/ Instant Pot
  • Soup
  • Casserole
  • Asian
  • Bowl Dinner
  • Fish
  • Panini
  • Baked Potato Bar
  • Meatless Meal
  • "Hodge Podge" where you throw it all together from what you have
  • Charcuterie Board (meat, cheese, fruit, nuts, veggies) on a warm night! 
  • Different ethnicity every week to teach children about a different culture 
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