Marriage Monday: Play Time!

What do you do for fun?

Many of us start listing the hobbies we love but rarely have time for. Or we talk about spending time with our girlfriends. What mom doesn’t occasionally want a night out with the girls?

But how many of us put things we love to do with our husbands at the top of the list?

I love to read, sew, and knit. I like solving logic problems and reasoning puzzles. Oh, and I enjoy assembling puzzles as well.

My husband does not enjoy most of those activities. He likes reading, but obviously the most “together” we can be while reading is to be sitting together when we read our separate books. Even if we’re both reading the same book (E-books are wonderful, aren’t they? No waiting!), he reads much faster than I do. By the time he’s halfway through the book, I’m just getting into it. So, while we enjoy reading together, we still need to find other ways to be truly interactive.

We definitely need to make sure to take the time to do the things we love individually. But we also need to make sure we intentionally play together. We must find things that energize both of us – and generally lead us to unwind and laugh together.

It’s easy to get caught up in going through life together, supporting one another, that we forget to just play sometimes. Play is not just critical for children. It’s essential for adults as well.

How long has it been since you’ve just let go and played with your spouse? I encourage you to give it a try. It doesn’t have to be overly planned out or strictly scheduled (that tends to defeat the purpose). It can be very simple – a game, a common hobby, a funny TV show that you haven’t seen in a while. Just make it play. Not productive. Not essential. Just pure fun.

How can you play this week?

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What Works for Me: Popcorn!

It’s no secret to those who know me well that I don’t really enjoy cooking. I can cook, but I’m not too fond of it. That doesn’t mean, though, that I don’t enjoy a good cooking discovery. So, today I’m going to share one of those with you!

I love popcorn. Always have. My favorite is just plain old salted popcorn, although a little butter or white cheddar flavoring doesn’t hurt.

The problem, though, has always been that it’s hard to get the great salted flavor. Salt just doesn’t stick well to cooked popcorn. I want it infused. What to do, what to do?

So, today I’ll share with you what we do. If you don’t like popcorn, just move along. If you only like air popped popcorn without the oil, also move along. If you already make awesome popcorn and don’t need a new suggestion, that’s fine, too.

If, however, you do like popcorn but always do the microwave version because you can’t make stovetop work out, are afraid to pop on your electric stove, or just haven’t been satisfied with your results, stick around.

Several years ago, we watched culinary hero Alton Brown discuss popcorn on an episode of Good Eats. He recommended popping popcorn in a stainless steel mixing bowl rather2015-03-11 08.23.15 than in a straight-sided pot. Well, all of our mixing bowls had rubber bottoms that rendered them useless on the stove top, but it got us thinking about what we could use instead.

The solution? Our flat-bottomed wok!

What makes this work? Well, the flat bottom gives a great surface for the unpopped corn to rest in the hot oil, but the slanted sides allow room for the popped corn to move out of the way. More effective popping, less burning, and fewer unpopped kernals. Voila!

(Note: If you have a stainless steel bowl you can use instead of the wok, go for it! Just use pliers or something like that as a handle.)

But, that was just the beginning of our experimentation. Next came the actually popping experience.

Alton Brown topped his stainless steel bowl with aluminum foil and poked holes in it. So, that’s what we started with on the wok. But, we frequently had issues with hot oil popping up out of the holes. So, we’d put a lid over it, but that allowed moisture to collect.

Doug came up with a perfect alternative! He took a splatter screen we didn’t use very often because of its size.

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He then covered it on both sides with aluminum foil. Because of the way it fits over the wok, this allows air flow and coverage all at the same time.

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And the handle matches well with the wok handle to make management easy.

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Oh! And when you’re done, you can just wrap it in a sack for storage rather than replacing the foil every time.

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Next comes the actual popping process.

One other thing Alton mentioned was the idea of salting before cooking. We tried several different ways, but here’s what has worked most perfectly:

  • Cover the bottom of the wok (or bowl) with oil. You want enough oil to “lubricate” all of your popping corn. 2015-02-26 18.37.33
  • Salt the oil. Yes, salt first! Cover the oil with a layer of extra fine salt. Courser table salt will work, but not as well.
  • Finally, add the corn, a single layer. If needed, add a little more oil to the top to ensure there is enough to hit every kernal.
  • Cover and pop over medium high heat. I usually just let the wok sit on the heat until the corn starts to pop. Then I shake it a bit, put it back on the burner, and wait for it to begin popping more convincingly. I alternate between lifting/shaking and letting it rest on the heat. I do use a flat top electric stove, so you’ll obviously have to make adjustments based on your stovetop surface.

As with all popcorn, when the popping has slowed to a few pops every few seconds, remove from heat and wait until all popping has ceased. Then remove the screen and transfer to a bowl for any additional seasoning (we like Kernal’s seasoning, if we add anything).

Note: If you take a bite immediately after removing the splatter screen, you’ll notice that the popcorn seems tough and chewy. Give it a minute to “rest,” and this will work its way out, leaving perfectly textured popcorn.


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Marriage Monday: Growth Through Our Children

Today we come back to our normal Marriage Monday schedule to finish up the idea of growing together spiritually. This final discussion centers around an aspect of marital spiritual growth we rarely consider: the curiosity of our children.

Any parent knows that children ask questions. Children are curious. And they are sponges. They want to know anything and everything, and often their questions can leave us scratching our heads – if not outright cringing!

Many times we dread the inevitable questions we know will come from our children. But, the very questions we dread could actually introduce relationship-growing conversations.

How is that possible? Consider these ideas:

  • Answering our children’s questions solidifies our own spiritual growth. When we teach others what we have learned, our learning is enhanced, every time. When we learn jointly with our spouses first, then teach our children together, our joint learning is enhanced.
  • Their questions insist that we be on the same page as a couple and as parents. We need to be unified in our responses to tough questions from the kids. Discussing these questions together, and then answering our children together, ensures that we are in agreement and that our children see us as unified.
  • Our responses may open the door to more spiritual discussion. When our children ask us questions, we often have to hash out thoughts we never have considered before.

But, what are some practical ways to make this happen?

Questions from our kids can blindside us on many occasions. How do we ensure that we are prepared for the questions they ask? And how do we ensure that we’re on the same page when we answer?

  • Set aside a time for regular discussion. This could be daily over a meal or weekly after church, but ensure that it is a regular time when both you and your spouse can be a part of the discussion. Encourage your children to share with you what they’re learning through their daily Bible reading or what they have heard in a Sunday school lesson or sermon. Ask them questions and encourage them to ask about things they don’t understand. Having this controlled, scheduled time will encourage many questions to come at a time when you are mentally prepared to receive and discuss them – even if you don’t know what questions will be asked. It will also ensure that you and your spouse are present to discuss and respond.
  • Don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know, but I’ll find out!” It is perfectly acceptable for your children to realize that you don’t know everything. Saying this also gives you a chance to pull back and talk it out with your spouse – again, putting you on the same page.
  • Consider expected questions in advance. You know they’re coming. So, why not prepare yourself? Talk to your spouse now, actively considering how you will handle questions about tough issues like sin, death, the character of God, various moral issues, sex, etc. You cannot cover every question your children will ask, but you can get a head start and enjoy the side benefit of already solidifying your unity with your spouse.

How have your children helped you and your spouse grow spiritually lately?

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Giveaway! Dear Magazine

We interrupt our regular blog schedule for an extra special giveaway!

dear.pr_.300x250If you follow me on social media, you have probably seen my references to Dear Magazine, a brand new magazine for Christian young women. Now, here’s your chance to win a subscription!

Every young woman is dear. But not every young woman realizes this truth. Jenny Keliher has a passion to encourage young women to discover that they are dear. She wants to “show young women that they are dear in every sense of the word and in every area of their lives.”

So, who is Jenny? Daughter of Well Planned Gal Rebecca Keliher, Jenny is a young woman who has been taught to chase her passions and use her talents to God’s glory.

In an effort to reach teenagers world-wide with the message that they are dear to God, Jenny has created Dear Magazine. This beautiful product combines Jenny’s heart for the Lord with her love for literature, baking, and design.

Designed for young women ranging in age from thirteen to twenty-one, Dear covers everything from faith to fashion, from relationships to entertainment. But nothing about these topics fits the societal norm. Instead, each article reminds young women that everything they do should reflect the dear woman God has created them to be.

In each issue of Dear, young women will find much to challenge them and spark their interest, such as:
– the biography of a historical hero, beginning with Amy Carmichael
– women’s awareness topics
– do-it-yourself sections
– recipes
– fashion tips
– spiritual growth encouragement
– encouragement and advice for growing in maturity
– discussions on relationships with friends and family
– entertainment suggestions

Would you like to learn more? Feel free to explore to see a preview of Issue 1. And be sure to enter my giveaway for a free one-year subscription!



Click here to enter the giveaway!! Contest ends at midnight, Sunday, March 8.

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Total Rest

Here is the final post in my four-part Rest series, originally published in Arkansas Baptist News.

A new year has arrived, bringing with it a slower pace of life. But to get here, I had to survive a typical fall in the Hibbard household. Every year the stretch between the end of October through the end of December is a very busy time for us. This year was no exception.

But right in the middle of the busyness, God reinforced His lesson on rest. Oh, He had already given me the idea. I had even journaled it months before. But, it wasn’t until I had come to the end of a very rough week that He reminded me of one more truth He had taught me about rest.

Rest is not just relational, expected, and sacrificial. Rest is also total trust.

In all honesty, I had been trying to rest in the midst of the chaos. But, I did it my way. I allotted time to attend Christmas parties and enjoy the fellowship. I sacrificially set aside my todo list on multiple occasions, supposedly in the name of rest. But I forgot that all of these things must be bound together by a conscious focus on total obedience.

You see, rest is not just about coming up with ways to interact with others, to meet an expectation, or to sacrifice when an opportunity seems to arise. Rest is about walking in complete trust and obedience, allowing God to handle every single detail, every single time.

When I tried to do life, whether work or rest, my way, I fell apart. I failed. My todo list backed up and my relationships became strained. I neglected to fulfill obligations, and no amount of time set aside for rest seemed to rejuvenate me.

I did not find real rest again until I stepped back to see how I had failed to trust and obey the Lord. Rest returned only when I actively and consciously began to walk once again in total surrender.

Now we face a new year. If it moves even half as quickly as 2014 did, many of us will once again come to the end of it feeling harried and tired. But God offers the rest we need to make 2015 a year of complete abandon to Him. Complete obedience. Complete trust. And complete rest.

I am not one for New Year’s resolutions, but I do hunger to make a new commitment this year. I hunger to live this year centered in the total rest of Christ.

Will you join me?

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Marriage Monday: What About Theology? Part 2

(If you missed What About Theology, Part 1, you can go back and read it here.)

I can’t imagine that there is a single theological perspective that is one hundred percent accurate. After all, we are all humans with a finite understanding. What we see of God through Scripture and His interaction with us in this world is just a minuscule image of who He is. So, no theology will be complete until we see Him face to face. But, that lack of perfection in theology is part of what makes studying it so extremely critical for even the most average believer. Each picture of God that we can study, compare to Scripture, and personally evaluate increases our own understanding of God. It grows us more and more as we approach that point where we will see Him face to face. And oh how exciting that is!

So, how does that apply to you?

How can you truly adopt a life of spiritual growth that includes theology? Allow me to share a few suggestions.

  • Decide that you want to learn. Read a book this year that challenges you. Not a fluffy self-help book. A book that takes you to the heart of digging into Scripture. Ask trusted godly friends or your pastor for recommendations if needed. But dig!
  • Don’t limit what you read to those who reside within your own “group.” Branch out beyond your denomination or personal belief system.
  • Don’t be afraid to disagree! It is okay to look at someone from whom we have learned much and disagree with them on some point. It is also okay to find a nugget of truth from someone we typically disagree with. Just learn to be able to back up your arguments with Scripture.
  • Do be careful, though. Some points are non-negotiable. Jesus was fully God and fully man. He did die. He did rise again. He did ascend to heaven and now sits at the right hand of God. He is the only way. Anyone who does not agree fully and completely with those statements is probably not worth listening to at all. And even some who agree with those statements might be rather loose with their interpretation of the rest of Scripture. Bottom line – seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance as you dig, and make sure every single belief can be backed up solidly by the whole of Scripture. You have personal access to the throne of God. Use it!

I warn you: the more you learn theologically, the more you find you still have to learn. But, oh how worthwhile it is! Even if you are someone who already loves theological learning, my prayer for you is that a year from now you will be able to look back and discover that you are less afraid of theological ideas. Still intimidated, maybe, by the vastness of what can be learned, but not afraid. And I pray that such a discovery will excite you phenomenally, leaving you hungry for much, much more.


Now, how does this fit into marriage?

Very simply. Do not hash out your theology alone. Take the practical tips above and actively work them into your marriage. Discuss. Evaluate. Ask one another questions. Consider each other’s thoughts and opinions, drawing on the possibility that your spouse may see something from Scripture that you have not considered. However you approach this growth, determine to do it together as a couple.

I guarantee this – when you discover more about God together, you will strengthen your marriage. And that combination, growing closer to God and to each other, can never be a bad one.

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Sacrificial Rest

This week I’m sharing part three of my Rest series, originally published in Arkansas Baptist NewsI wrote this as the busyness of Thanksgiving and Christmas were descending upon me. But, in all honesty, the last two months have been no less crazy. I definitely needed this reminder to glorify God sacrificially, even in those times when all I can think of is my need for rest! 

The holiday season is upon us! As an introverted homebody, sometimes the busyness of this season throws me for a loop. I do love it. I love the decorations and the celebrations. I enjoy the parties and the events, even if I sometimes have to pry myself out of the warm house to attend them.

But I also need rest. And I am not quite sure I like the next lesson God has been teaching me about rest. You see, in addition to learning that rest is relational and expected, I am also learning that rest is sacrificial.

I have always been pretty selfish about rest. My opinion has always been that I need it, and I need it my way, or it doesn’t count. But when my husband and I had a conversation about a couple of passages of Scripture, I found my selfishness challenged.

In Acts 16:13, we see Paul heading down to the riverside in hopes of meeting people gathered there to pray. I have never though much about that action until Doug made a thought-provoking observation. He pointed out that Paul’s trip outside the city on the Sabbath was a sacrificial act. It was outside his norm. It was outside the parameters of rest he had been taught during his formative years.

Paul made a sacrifice.

So, where was he when he made this sacrifice? He was in Philippi. He was making the contacts that would eventually result in the Philippian church. The same Philippian church that brought him incredible joy, according to verses like Philippians 1:3. In fact, it could be argued from Scripture that this particular church provided Paul’s greatest source of strength and encouragement.

But it all started with a sacrifice.

One of my favorite verses is Hebrews 3:13. I have always loved the idea of encouragement among believers. But, as I look at Paul’s sacrificial investment in the Philippian church – and the return it brought – I see Hebrews 3:13 in a new light. I see that we receive our greatest encouragement, strength, and support when we are willing to sacrifice for one another, even in rest.

Now, sacrificial rest does require care because it still must be rest. It cannot become just another source of busyness. But, what would happen if we were willing to put aside our selfish conceptions of rest and determine instead to rest in fellowship with our fellow believers?

As the busy schedule presses in, I pray God will show me exactly how to rest sacrificially – and that He will allow even my rest to bear the fruit of joy and encouragement for others.

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