Book Review: The Snuggle Is Real

I received a complimentary copy of the book The Snuggle Is Real by Melinda Lee Rathjen, illustrated by Krystyna Litten. I was not obligated to write a positive review. This is my honest opinion of the book.

Since becoming a mother, I’ve made more of a priority of reading (as if that were possible!) especially for my little one. My son is currently six months old, and he loves looking at colorful books and turning the pages all on his own. My husband and I took turns reading this book to our little one, and we both enjoyed it! It may be too soon for him to tell us, but I believe our son loved it too.

The Snuggle Is Real.

First of all, I love the title. A kid who would be reading this book probably wouldn’t understand the reference, but the parents definitely would. It’s an excellent comeback to the true phrase, “the struggle is real.” In and of itself, that phrase reminds us to be honest with our emotions, that life isn’t always rainbows and unicorns. But even when life isn’t going our way, another truth remains: we’re loved, and a hug can make a big difference in how we feel.

Even though my six-month-old son enjoyed it, the book is probably better suited for 1-4 year olds, who are going through these big feelings and don’t know how to process them yet. I love the message that we can ask for help and get a hug, whether we’re happy, sad, angry or disappointed. The publisher is faith based, and this book doesn’t mention God, but I believe it still carries an excellent message for kids to bring into their adulthood. If they have the tools to live emotionally healthy lives, and they have parents who love them unconditionally, they’re more likely to be emotionally healthy adults and have a positive relationship with their Heavenly Father.

The Snuggle Is Real is available this week. Check out WorthyKidz for more information!


what about me?

Over the summer, we’ve seen so many of our friends and family go through various life events, including buying houses and having children. We are genuinely happy for them. We know some of their stories, and the hard work and grace it took to get to where they are today, and we are so proud of them and so thankful to God for His faithfulness. But, although I still don’t want these things yet, as strong as my contentment is, the temptation is still there to want what everyone else has.

What about me?

If you feel overlooked because of your waiting period, here are some ways that I’ve learned to find contentment in this season:

  • Think about what you have. Last week, I struggled with contentment, and with the belief that I’m not enough. I realized how many people have what I want, and how I just can’t seem to get there. When I prayed, God asked me to focus on what I have instead of what I don’t. Later, in the car, Lauren Daigle’s “You Say” came on the radio. The first line of the song? “I keep fighting voices in my mind that say I’m not enough.” In that moment, God showed me that He sees me and He knows me. He asked me to focus on what I have, and what I have, no matter what season I am in, is His Presence. He is always with me, no matter what I have, no matter how I feel. Do you have the assurance of God’s continual presence? If you struggle with contentment, take some time to think about how God has been faithful to you.
  • Celebrate those around you who have what you want. You may feel like you’re not enough or you don’t have enough, but you have everything you need. Often, we need to step outside of ourselves and give ourselves a little pep talk. David did this all the time in the Psalms, when he would command his soul to bless the Lord (see, for example, Psalm 103). His soul didn’t feel like blessing the Lord all the time, but he knew it was the right thing to do. Sometimes, we have to fight to do the right thing. It is right to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. When your friend tells you good news about what is happening in her life, be happy for her, even if it is exactly what you wanted.
  • Talk about it and pray with a friend. Contentment truly is a fight in this progressive, ever-changing world. But we don’t have to fight alone. My husband has been my number-one partner in fighting against contentment. I often add my own fears to the situation, but my husband, the voice of reason, helps me see what is real and what is simply based on what’s inside my own head. Thankfully, I also have friends who understand me, who can also get inside my own head and my heart and feel what I am feeling. Those friends have prayed for me and have helped me love where I am in this season.

The final point is to remember your prayers. I had asked God for a chill year this year.  (Please, no major life events in 2019!). Witnessing how good and faithful He has been these last couple of years, I know He could give me a brand new house, an army of kids, and a super-successful business in the snap of His finger, but He was faithful to answer the deepest prayer of my heart: rest. Help me find meaningful rest. These last couple of years have been like a whirlwind, and I’ve barely had time to process it all. I realize that this season is so essential for me, because, when I do have all those other things, I will need to know how to find meaningful rest.

What have you been asking God for lately? What is truly the deepest desire of your heart? Remember what you prayed for, and believe that God is working on it!

Photo by Emiliano Vittoriosi on Unsplash





marriage is like a child

I may not have kids of my own, but I have enough nieces, nephews, friends, and children from the ministries I’m involved in to know a thing or two about raising them!

One thing I know is that children are fragile when they’re first born, and as they grow, they are supposed to get stronger. Children at a young age need constant attention so that they don’t hurt themselves, and so that they can receive the nourishment they need to survive.

I couldn’t help but thinking that marriage is the same way.

When you first get married, you need to establish boundaries. You need to establish new rules. The people around you depend on you, as the husband of wife, to create the atmosphere for how you two interact with each other. And you need to be careful about who (and what) you let into your marriage, especially in the beginning, but as you continue to mature together.

People will try to give you unsolicited advice about how to treat your spouse. But you know. You may not be an expert, but you are now the closest person to your spouse. The newlywed stage is a learning process. You will learn your spouse’s favorite color. You will learn how your spouse likes his steak. You will learn your spouse’s schedule, and what keeps him calm. And eventually, the people giving you unsolicited advice will be asking you how to interact with your spouse.

Our marriage is two and a half years old, and from the very beginning, we’ve had to give our marriage constant attention. We’ve had to adjust our lives to the new schedule, and we’ve had to learn new routines to make our marriage work. We’ve had moments that make us roll our eyes because of how ridiculous they are, but we’ve also had moments that work so well, they’re like watching a child walk or hearing her say her first words.

But my absolute favorite part of marriage now is when people ask me questions about my spouse, and I actually know the answers! Like, “Does he like shrimp?”, or “Do you think he’d be up for this or that?”

I also want to note that marriage requires a lot of grace, just like it requires grace to parent a child. We may think that the mistakes we make now will affect the rest of our lives, that if we mess up in the beginning of our marriage, we can never have hope again. But that is not true. Sure, our mistakes have consequences, but there is grace. I’m not the same person I was when I got married. There were times I said the wrong thing or did the wrong thing, and I know it hurt my husband. And there were times he said the wrong thing or did the wrong thing, and it hurt me. But there’s grace. Thank God for His grace! So don’t feel like you have to have it all figured out right from the beginning. Trust in God’s grace to sustain you through it all.

How much attention do you give to your marriage? Is your marriage high on your priority list? Like a child requires constant attention and a change of schedule, you need to make time for your marriage, and make time for the man or woman who matters most to you. Then, as you both grow, you will see your marriage grow, and you will be amazed as the work you put into your marriage early will produce fruit.

Photo by Picsea on Unsplash


5 Questions to Ask Besides “When Are You Having Kids?”

As a newlywed who has heard this question too many times, I tread very lightly on these waters by hoping to make it easier for other people to be content in their own season of their marriage.

In this culture, it appears that everyone is always waiting for the next best thing.  I learned this when I was a senior in high school, when everyone asked me where I wanted to go to college, what I wanted to major in, if I wanted to dorm/commute, etc.  It’s like no one was ever satisfied.  So I gave into their demands, always reaching for the next step.  I went to college.  I graduated.  I got my first “real” job.  I got a boyfriend.  I got engaged.  I got married.  I got an apartment.

But the questions never stop.  And I was never content.

Before you ask a newlywed any questions about kids, keep in mind that there are five types of newlyweds in terms of having kids.  I love including Twitter statistics in my blogs, especially since it’s fun to try new research and ask different questions.  This week, nine newlyweds chimed in about where they are in their family planning.

Never having kids (11%): This couple has decided that they do not want to have kids.  It may shock you if you have baby fever, but there are people out there who don’t want kids for various reasons.  Just be sensitive to the fact that not everyone shares that same desire to have children.

Having kids but not now (33%): This couple may want to enjoy this season of marriage and get to know each other better.  They look forward to one day having children, but for now they are going on dates, asking each other deep questions, and simply trying to find contentment in this season.  They may also have issues they need to deal with (whether financial, emotional, or physical) before they can take that next step into starting a family.

Pregnant but not telling anyone (44%, along with “obviously pregnant” below): Newlyweds want to tell the important people in their lives (their parents, family members, and close friends) that they are pregnant before announcing it to the whole world.  As a matter of fact, it’s considered rude to post it on Facebook or for a loved one to find out through someone else.  Don’t put the couple in an awkward situation by asking them if they’re pregnant and no one else knows yet.  Let them tell you; don’t make them tell you.

Want kids but unable to get pregnant (12%): It hurts a woman who wants to be a mother to get consistently asked about having children, but for some reason, people seem to stumble into that question in conversation!  Most women who are unable to have children do not want to talk about it with the average person, especially since it typically involves very personal issues with their health.  Do not persist in the conversation if you notice the woman seeming uncomfortable.

Obviously pregnant/already have kids (44%, along with “pregnant but not telling anyone” above): You can tell when someone is nine months pregnant whether she’s having kids any time soon, so the question “When are you having kids?” might sound a little silly.  What I would suggest for these people is not to ask “Do you want any more kids?” but to enjoy the child/children that the couple already has.

The newlywed stage is such a dynamic, complex stage that it cannot be defined the same way for every couple.  The average newlywed couple moves to a new home, starts a new job, makes new friends together, spends time with new family members, and has new additions to their family through marriage or birth.  They say the first few years are the hardest, and I’m sure all these uprooting and changes don’t help with the roller coaster of emotions that each couple faces.

The same principle is true for having kids.  One couple might get pregnant on the honeymoon, while one couple might wait five years to grow their family.  One couple might want six kids, while one couple might not want any.  It is difficult enough to be in this dynamic stage of marriage without getting unsolicited advice, especially about having children.

I know it’s tough not to ask a newlywed any questions about having kids.  Even as a new wife, I find myself wanting to ask other couples about their plans.  So, to help you out, here are five other questions you can ask to a newlywed couple in order to encourage contentment in their marriage:

What is your favorite thing about your spouse?  It is such a common practice to complain about your spouse.  The stereotypical situation is a group of women congregating around a table and joking about the stupid things their husbands did that day (I’m sure men do it too, but I’ve never been in a circle with men, so I wouldn’t know personally).  It would be nice to change the atmosphere and encourage newlyweds to think about what they actually like about their spouses.  Hearing the new, fresh love they have for their spouse may encourage you to appreciate your spouse as well.

What do you like to do together as a couple?  Newlywed couples need something to do together (besides the obvious).  I especially like this question since my love language is quality time, which means I’m always looking for fun things to do with my husband.  Help the newlywed couple in your life find contentment by helping them find fun activities to do together.

Do you enjoy meeting together with other couples?  Newlywed couples also need accountability and example to help them in their marriage.  When my husband and I first got engaged, it was so tempting for us to just sit in my apartment and stare into each other’s eyes for eleven months.  However, we realized soon after that we wanted to share our love for each other and learn from other couples who also loved each other.  We joined a small group for engaged and newly married couples, and we became friends with some people in our church who meet with us on a regular basis.  It is so encouraging to be around other newlywed couples who also want to honor God in their marriage.

Would you like to go out with me and my spouse for a double date?  If you’ve been married for a long time, we need you!  Please, take us out and share your wisdom with us.  We also enjoy going out with couples who have been married for less time, as we are able to process our own marriage and share our wisdom with others as well.

How can I pray for you? This is a great question to ask any newlywed, whether they are currently dealing with children, pregnant, trying to get pregnant but can’t, waiting, or don’t desire children at all.  This question allows newlyweds to reflect on their current struggles.  It also humbles the folks who may be seasoned in their marriage to not give advice, but to ask God to intervene in their marriage. After all, in every season, when God is in the center of your marriage, He has a plan and is able to provide for you and your spouse.  So, instead of asking “When are you having kids?” pray that God would allow the couple to be content in this season and to learn to love each other deeply, fully, and unconditionally.

Photo by Ryan Franco on Unsplash