I considered it a grand experiment. How would a mother of two young kids and wife to an entrepreneur manage to take a whole month off to rest? That was the big question.
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[Trigger warning: sexual violence]

Thirty-five. The number of years of life I am celebrating.

Thirty-five. The number of times she is forced to have sex with different men a day. She’s only 7 years old.

Let that sink in.
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Dear Depressed Me,

I love you. But I haven’t always loved you like this. I used to struggle with accepting who you were. I used to love you partially—with some reservations and hesitancies. I used to dislike you. Resent you at times, even. But my love for you is different now. It’s deeper and fuller.
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“Are these tears of gratitude?” my counsellor asked as my eyes began to well up. I bit my lower lip and rivers of pain spilled down my face.

“No.” I answered. “I have no words for it yet, but obviously it’s something deep.” I was surprised by the sudden release of emotion. She had asked me a question about Tim and our marriage.
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At the start of each new year, we like to choose one word. A guide or theme for the year, so to speak. Something to give us focus in the ebb and flow of life.

Our word for 2015 was “Strengthen.” We wanted to become stronger; we also needed strength. In retrospect, it was a hard, dark year marked by the unexpected presence of Post Partum Depression, but we did receive all the strength we needed to get through it.

For 2016, we are choosing the word, “Moments.”
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Today I turn 35 years old. It’s a milestone birthday of officially being in my mid-thirties. Or as our friends pointed out to this morning, it’s halfway to “three score years and ten” (which is mentioned by the psalmist in Psalm 90:10 as the length of a normal lifespan). As I reflect on how I feel at 35 years old, I notice the tension I feel between disappointment and gratitude.

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I’m looking forward to growing older. One of the reasons is the potential for personal growth. When I reflect on the past year, I’m surprised by how much I learned. The idea of being able to continue or even accelerate that growth for the next 5, 10, or 25 years is very exciting. On the other hand, I know people who are older who seem to have stayed stagnant for many years – every time I see them they seem to be the same. The idea of not growing or changing over time is depressing to me.

The new year is a sensible time to make goals and plans. Do you have a personal growth plan for 2016? If not, here are 4 practical steps you can take to develop one.

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It’s our anniversary today. Seven years ago we celebrated the beginning of our marriage with friends and family. In the weeks leading to this anniversary we have been reflecting on some of the things we’ve learned about marriage since our wedding day. Here are 7 things we’ve learned in the last 7 years of marriage – most of them in this seventh year.
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There were many difficult things about the first year with two children. There was the adjustment of trying to split our attention to meet the needs of both kids. There was the challenge of trying to get sufficient rest when they’d take turns being awake during the day and then take turns waking us up at night. There was the strain on our marriage and trying to stay connected when each of us barely coped with our own responsibilities. There was the seemingly futile fight against germs as colds got passed around and around in the winter months. But as I thought about it, I realized that the hardest part of the transition for me wasn’t something external. It was asking for and accepting help.
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If there’s one lesson I am constantly learning and re-learning in my life with God, it’s how to rest. Every time I think I’ve got it, I am confronted with another application, another dimension, another depth or angle to which I need to learn to apply the lesson.
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