GIVEAWAY: 2 Copies of “Transition to the Real World”

Transition to the Real World

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Hi dear readers!

I am giving away a copy  of the book Transition to the Real World to two subscribers of A Life Enjoyed. It’s perfect for those of you who are nearly or newly graduated. OR, if you know someone who is (it would make a great gift, right!?  :).

The author of the book, Eric Melniczek, is a long-time friend of Brance of I. He has years of experience counseling students on the very topic he writes about. I wish I had received such a book when I  graduated!

Subscribe here for your chance to win!

Leave a comment and get an extra entry

Get an extra entry into the giveaway for every meaningful comment you leave on any post on the blog – up to 3.

More giveaways to come

I hope to continue to do more giveaways in the future. So make sure you subscribe! Subscribers are automatically entered for ALL giveaways and get my free ebook 1 Week to a Happier You (plus the occasional newsletter update).

Giveaway Rules: Only subscribers are entered into the giveaway. You can subscribe here. A comment gives a subscriber an extra entry into the giveaway, up to 3. Winners will be notified by email. The giveaway closes Saturday, 17th October, at noon.

All the best!


10 observations to transform your marriage

Brance and LaurenBrance and I are getting ready to celebrate 10 years of marriage in December. A decade. Where does time go? I remember dating and engagement and our wedding like they were yesterday! And yet, a lot has happened since those days.

Here are 10 things I have learned from 10 years of marriage. They have transformed ours; I believe they can do the same for you.

1. For better or worse, you will become more like the person you marry over time. There is no avoiding it, when you spend THAT much time with another person.

For me, this has been a HUGE blessing. I have found that many of my husband’s great qualities have “rubbed off” on me. Things like perseverance, carefulness, and lack of worry. There are many others too.

And out of love for my spouse, I desire to be someone he would be proud to become more like.

Note to those dating:  If you aren’t comfortable becoming more like a person you are dating, it’s time to reconsider. If they have a horrible temper, make fun of you or others, or have some other major character defect, you are better off saying goodbye.

2.  Attitude is everything in marriage. You get to decide how amazing you marriage is going to be (in most marriages).

If you are thankful and positive and hopeful about your marriage and your spouse, then likely you will feel great about them both.

BUT if you are negative and constantly comparing your marriage and spouse to others, then likely you will feel terrible about them both.

You really, truly get to decide how great your marriage is. And thankfulness and positivity are critical.

3. Friendship in marriage is key. This may seem like a given, especially when you are dating and your every thought involves the other person. But life can quickly become very full in marriage, especially with the addition of kids. And over time it is easy to develop separate interests –  eventually leading to parallel lives.

Keeping things lighthearted and fun as friends makes marriage more enjoyable. And helps you grow even closer. We read together, share things that interest us, dream and plan together, and generally just hang out. Here quantity is ever bit as important as quality.

4. Forgiveness keeps a marriage from falling apart. Spouses are two imperfect people who will act less than perfectly in marriage. Being willing to genuinely, humbly ask for forgiveness and to extend it, as well, is SO important. It’s the glue that will keep a marriage together.

Bitterness. Unforgiveness. Scorn. These are things that marriage can’t stand under. Longterm, they can actually be predictors of a marriage’s doom. We saw this with some friends of ours who are no longer married. It was very sad. Weed them out, always.

5. Marriage provides an opportunity to grow in character like no other relationship. Who we really are deep down eventually bubbles to the top, the good and the ugly. There is no hiding it.

Instead of despairing, or embracing the ickier parts of ourself (“that’s just me” attitude) in our marriage relationship, we can begin to grow in these areas instead. If we find gossip or impatience or selfishness bubbles to the top, we can be thankful for an opportunity to turn from these things. To learn new ways of behaving.

6. Sex with one person is not in the least boring and gets more amazing over time. In a promiscuous society, marital sex may seem like a snooze. We have found it Continue reading

Cool trick for tear-free detangling

imageI discovered the coolest thing when my oldest daughter Haddie was smaller. How to detangle hair without a single tear. No more pain or sadness or frustration. The tangles “melt” out with little effort. Detangling has become an easy, pleasant thing in our house. Amazing, right!?

Luckily for Abigail, being younger, I have used this trick all along. But that was not the case for poor Haddie. By the time Haddie was four her beautiful, thick, and long hair was prone to tangles and knots. I remember spending the longest time trying to detangle with special sprays and combs. Nothing made it easy for her or me. It was miserable.

There were lots of tears and broken hair. And I felt just terrible about the pain it caused and the time it took to comb her hair. I ended up chopping her beautiful locks off to her shoulders. I didn’t know what else to do. I felt defeated. I love, love long hair on little girls. But a 30 minute combing session every day? And sometimes longer when knots became impossible. It was more than she or I could stand.

And then, I discovered the coolest trick. Continue reading

Vitamin d cured my anxiety and depression

A Life EnjoyedDo you struggle with anxiety or depression? If the answer is yes, there is a good chance you are vitamin d3 deficient. Many people are and are completely unaware.

I was. And supplementing has made the BIGGEST difference in how I feel, hands down.

Cure is a strong word. But I would say that this has made a 95% difference in how I feel.

It has been like a miracle for me. Social anxiety, feeling down, irrational and obsessive worry, low self-esteem, mood swings etc. melted away almost overnight when I began taking vitamin d. (D3, not d2. There’s a big difference!)

imageI remember walking through our Boston neighborhood, shortly after I began supplementing, thinking, “Wow. I haven’t been self-conscious once this whole walk. So weird, but so good. This must be what it feels like to be normal.” It felt amazing :).

And not just that. I swear it feels like it made me smarter, raised my I.Q, ha. Anyway, it cleared away the “cobwebs” – brain fog – that I had come to accept as me. I always thought that my sluggish, indecisive ways were part of my DNA. Come to find out, a vitamin d deficiency can make a person that way.

GillihanI first discovered the wonders of vitamin d over 2 years ago. I had an especially tough winter and decided to begin taking it to see if it would help with some depression I was struggling with. It helped with the depression and so much more. I felt Continue reading

What it is like to live with chronic disease

IMG_5363I am often asked what living with Ulcerative Colitis is like. I think that is a great question. It is difficult to understand what it is like to live with chronic disease, unless you have experienced one or talk with someone who has.

One of the most interesting things that I have had to grapple with is the fact that Ulcerative Colitis IS chronic. It won’t go away. I know that probably seems obvious. But every other experience in life I had with sickness or disease was temporary. And although mentally I know what chronic means, it has been difficult for me to process this without a past experience to hang my diagnosis on.

Chronic means forever. Not a day or a week or a month or a year. Sure, it is possible to experience periods of remission, but, bar a miracle, it will not just permanently go away. And although I am doing well, considering, right now UC is Continue reading

Today is a day for change

Today is a new day. It can be a new beginning for you, a fresh start. Today does not have to be the same as every day before. Change is real and change is possible – today.

God is more than capable of transforming our lives – of raising them from the ashes. If only we will let him. If only we will trust him. It is possible, even today.

Today can be the day for letting go of bitterness and resentment that is poisoning us.

Today can be the day for Continue reading


BoatThere are few things in life less desirable than waiting. We aren’t naturally good at it. Right?

Brance and I have been waiting to move into a house we bought almost 4 years ago. Our first  home. A long renovation project. Along the way, I have not always waited patiently and quietly, just ask Brance. But I am learning. I am learning how to wait with a quiet spirit. I am much happier for that.Watching a LighthouseSome of you are waiting for big, important things: a baby, a spouse, a better job, a move, an acceptance letter. Or even something more difficult. Perhaps you are Continue reading

Menial work matters: washing dishes as loving service

Dirty Kitchen

Do you want to make a small shift in your life that will usher in big-time positive change? Do you want joy and peace, regardless of your life circumstances?

Yes? Well then, what I am about to share is definitely for you. It can totally revolutionize your life. It has for me.

A terrible cycle to be caught in

It’s easy to go through life viewing menial tasks or unpleasant/challenging work as something to dislike or dread or avoid altogether.

And, boy, if our life is full of these kinds of jobs, like it is for most of us (especially those of us with kids), well, “poor us. Why can’t our lives be easier?” Of course, there is ALWAYS someone we can think of who we assume has it better or easier than we do.

This is a terrible cycle to be caught in. I am afraid we all fall into it from time to time. And without a doubt it just sucks the joy right out of living. Amen?!

Some examples from my own life

“If only I had a dishwasher, or a dryer, or a ______ I would spend less time stuck doing this chore. Poor me.”

“Other parents put their kids in school and because I am with mine 24/7, keeping the house is difficult. I have it so hard.”

“Look at her, her husband does _____ task. If only mine did, then life would be much easier.”

Sadly, this is how I operated in the past. Allowing negative thoughts and feelings about life control me was my norm. This is a recipe for feeling miserable.

A new view of menial work

One big, yet, simple thing that has turned this around in my life has been Continue reading

6 gifts from hardship and brokenness

BrokennessThis post is a follow-up to a post I wrote recently entitled Dealing with loss and sorrow.

Pain that engulfs and pins us down. An emotional pit we’ve been cast into with no known way of escape.

Cancer and death and depression and anxiety and chronic disease and loss. Swirling. All-encompassing. Closing in.

We sometimes face hard things in life. Things that test our faith and threaten our hope, things that knock us to our knees. I have. So have many of you. Maybe you are in the midst of hardship right now.

Please know that this blog is dedicated especially to you. I hope it can encourage you somehow.

As miserable as trials can be, they can actually be good for us. As excruciating and painful hardship is for the person suffering, a refining, a beauty even, can come as a result. A “diamond” often emerges from these circumstances of great heat and pressure.

It has in my own life. I often tear up when I think about all of the lovely, beautiful things, that have grown out of hardship. Things that would not have happened otherwise. To reject pain, would have been Continue reading