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The Crucial Element in a Long Distance Relationship

Ask Amanda, RelationshipsAmanda Walter | Maple AlpsComment
The Crucial Element in a Long Distance Relationship | www.maplealps.com

 

Question: What was the crucial element that helped your long distance relationship?


I guess quite a few of you must be in long distance relationships, because I get this question quite often. In a globalized world, I suppose dating or even being married long distance is getting more common.


Let’s see…


My husband and I spent 3 years in a long distance relationship before getting engaged. With the Atlantic Ocean between us, it did not always make it easy (or affordable for students - which we were at the time) to spend time with each other in person. We calculated it the other day, and the time spent face-to-face during that time added up to between 7 and 8 months. While that is not a lot, we did talk almost every day.


Modern technology is fantastic for that and allowed us to stay in almost constant communication (as constant as an 8-hour time difference can allow for anyway…). If it wasn’t letter writing and emails, we could text and video chat - something our parents were not able to do in their own long distance relationships!


Did I mention that even our parents did the same crazy thing? Must be genetic.


Anyhow, despite a large time difference, insane cultural differences, and the fact that we were on different continents, it all still somehow worked out.


To answer your question, there were several factors that affected our successful (in my eyes) long distance relationship. I actually wrote a blog post about it a while ago called, “The Three C’s of Long Distance Dating.” You’ll have to visit to find out what those C’s are and to find some really fun ideas for your own long distance relationship.


But really it all boiled down to intentionality.


I know I use that word a lot, and it’s the theme of this entire website, but it really is true.


Intentionality was the one crucial element that helped our long distance relationship. We chose to make it work, which made every element something we intentionally thought about.


We intentionally talked about core values with each other, but most importantly, we really tried to intentionally keep our relationship a God-centered one.


Practically, we had to be sure we were reaching out to each other and that the limited time we had to talk was used wisely and we were not distracted with other things. I’m not even kidding when I say that we often created agendas as if we were entering a board meeting before talking. That way we didn’t forget what we needed to share or talk about. There were several resources we used to guide our conversations as well.


All of this is not to say that we have stopped being intentional in our relationship now that we are married - not at all! It’s just that intentionality in our relationship looks a tad different now that we are married.

But more on that in a different post!


 


Have you been in/are you in a long distance relationship? What was the crucial element that helped you?


 
 

What Happened When We Created a Phone-Free Zone

LifestyleAmanda Walter | Maple Alps1 Comment

When I was studying abroad and learning German, I decided to make my dorm room an English-free zone. I even made signs and put them on my door and bulletin board, just in case my roommate was tempted to practice her English on me (she never was…).

While my German-speaking husband would love it if we had an English-Free zone in our house (hehe, I’m totally rusty), I somehow convinced him to instead make our bedroom a phone-free zone. It took quite a bit convincing, but we finally managed to do it. For one month, no phones of any sort were allowed to enter our bedroom-at all. And honestly, it was the best thing we could have done - especially since the month we chose was an extremely busy one (you’ll read why in a few paragraphs).

I thought that today I would share what happened during this experiment. At first, I was not sure what exactly to expect, but everything I experienced was extremely positive. Spoiler alert: I’d do it again!

Creating a Phone-Free Zone | www.maplealps.com

 

Phone alarms could still be heard outside the door. The predominant argument that was brought up when I suggested a phone-free bedroom was that my husband uses his phone as an alarm clock. Now, alarm clocks are quite inexpensive and not hard to locate, but for whatever reason, we opt to use our phones instead. I’m more or less a minimalist - I get it - so I suggested just laying our phones outside the door. Guess what? We could still hear the alarms in the morning. Besides that, one was forced to physically get up if they wanted to hit the snooze button. Helped the waking-up process a tad anyway since you were that much closer to the bathroom. I actually use a silent alarm on my Fitbit because I wake up so early, so this was not a huge issue for me.

 

Pillow-talk replaced pre-bed scrolling. I suppose I should mention that on top of eliminating phones from our space, we also agreed to go to bed at roughly the same time (which was a real feat!). Instead of the usual [mostly mindless] scrolling and not talking to each other before praying together and drifting to sleep, we were actually able to talk and tell each other about our days. It was nice to connect in this way, as we are both extremely busy people. There would be weeks during the school year where we would go days without seeing each other or speaking much (the pastor-teacher combination is not really the most ideal at times). This really helped us to be grounded at the end of the day and to not waste any time.

 

Our space became special. Because we were not letting distractions from everywhere imaginable into our room, it almost seemed like a more special place. A place where the outside world could not get in. A place of refuge from the interruptions and the noise. I’ll add a note here that our phones were not allowed in at any time of the day, so it was always nice and still! I thought that I would miss listening to music or podcasts while sitting in bed, but I really didn’t. I had the rest of the day for that, so it was a nice way to wind down.

 

I started to read [print] again. Without the temptation of a phone on my bedside table, the pile of books I had been intending to read started getting shorter and shorter. I decided on a few that I was not interested in, and picked up some really great reads! I was able to actually re-house a few of them back in my bookshelf. I also felt kind of fancy reading or browsing magazines in bed. Am I the only one who feels fancy when doing this? Perhaps you shouldn’t answer that…

What Happened When We Created a Phone-Free Zone | www.maplealps.com

Honestly, after the month was up and phones came back into the bedroom, I was mostly disappointed. While I do try to be more intentional about not letting it take over, I do want to go back to making a phone-free zone again. It’s easy to fall back into the mindless scroll trap and lose time you will never ever get back.

All in all, it’s nice to set aside the device after using it all day. It’s a fantastic way to end each evening.

 

 


I’d highly recommend this experiment to anyone! I’d love to hear how it goes for you!


 

Creative Ideas for a Budget-Friendly Date Night

MoneyAmanda Walter | Maple Alps2 Comments

Frugal is a word we like to use in our home. It extends from using up everything in our pantry before a long trip all the way to using our socks until they have holes in them. We make sure to get the best deal on everything. We haven't starved yet, and our toes are still warm, so we count ourselves blessed.

Not wanting a penny to go to waste is a priority for us. Trying to pay off student loans and being good stewards are both important things in this house. It doesn't stop us from having fun though, so I thought we could discuss some ways to have fun without spending a lot of money.

 

Really creative ideas for a budget-friendly date night! | www.maplealps.com

Enjoy a Staycation // Stay in Your Own Hotel

If you have one, convert your guest room into a luxury hotel room by making the bed fancy and using all the best sheets that only your visitors get to use. Add some candles and snacks and a mini "bar," and you will feel like you're on a fun getaway, without even leaving your house!

 

Cook Together // Cook Off

In an attempt to lower grocery costs or avoid eating out, make a fun dinner with things you already have - try an iron chef challenge, and use one ingredient in several creative ways. Or, just choose to work together to make whatever happens to be on the meal plan for that night. It will be fun either way.

 

Movie Night // Blanket Palace

Pick a movie you already have or rent from iTunes - which is much cheaper than going out to the theatre. Unlike the theatre, however, you will get to wear your sweatpants and bring your own water. Win! Make up some snacks or set up a blanket fort. The possibilities and creativity are endless!

 

Board Games // Trivia Night

How fun to pull out some of those dusty board games and challenge each other to win! You could spice up the night by adding house rules or adding stakes like extra chores for the loser - or just play as it's supposed to. Whatever you like. For a fun twist, make your own game!

 

Find a Hot tub to Soak in

Fantastic for you if you have a hot tub of your own. The YMCA or your public pool might have inexpensive options if you don't. In the worst case, you could also ask a friend! 

 

Go to a State Park

State parks are wonderful places! We buy an annual pass for our license plate registration that costs us a mere $11/year and it is so worth it! See what kinds of things your State offers. Getting out in nature and seeing some beautiful parks is something that is good for the soul. Try visiting different parks each time!

 

Use Groupon

We have had some crazy fun date nights by using Groupon. It's fun to find some local things that you would have never even thought about doing! One highlight was definitely going rollerskating at a roller rink one night - what a blast - and really inexpensive!

 


How are some of the ways you have fun on date nights on a budget?I would love to hear your ideas!


 

 

On Comparing Yourself to Others

FaithAmanda Walter | Maple Alps5 Comments

Is it just me who has struggled with comparing myself to other people? I used to catch myself feeling sorry for myself when thinking about others people, or seeing their lives flash before me on social media channels. It used to consume me. I moped around in a constant pity party not seeing any value or worth in who I was and it affected every area of my life. I did not realize that comparison for me was truly just another word for envy and idolization.

I am sometimes tempted to think less of myself and watch and romanticize and covet the lives of those around me. The other extreme of comparison can lead to self-righteousness; thinking we are better than others. When I do catch myself, I find that doing the following tips help me quickly get back on track. 

Look to Jesus

The only true comparison we should care about is our comparison to Jesus. We are called to be like Him, so why do we bother looking at anyone else? As one of my favourite hymns goes, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus...and the things of earth will go strangely dim…”. To be like Christ, we must look at Christ.I could honestly end my post here because this is the key, but I will go on and share some more practical points...

 

Find Inspiration

Choose to be inspired by the stories of others. I have personally been inspired by those who have complete, sold-out lives for the Lord and who make a difference in others’ lives - including my own. 

 

Count Your Blessings, be Thankful & Choose to be Content

Count your own blessings and recognize what God has done in your life. I guarantee that if you look back, you can see His leading. Remember His leading in the past, and trust He will lead you now if you continue to surrender yourself to Him. Be thankful, and you will have a hard time complaining. 


Embrace Yourself

We are all individual beings with quirks and personalities that are unique to us. It’s unfair to compare our individuality with someone else’s.

 

"Compare" Yourself To Yourself

Challenge yourself in the areas you want to improve! Chances are, you already have! I have kept a journal for years, and once in a while I'll go back and read entries and see how much I've changed and grown. I'll pour over the stories of challenges I've overcome and am encouraged. 

 "But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbour. For each will have to bear his own load." Galatians 6:4-5

 

Steer Away from Social Media

Let’s talk frankly for a second. While “Keeping up with the Joneses” has always been a thing, social media has increased our awareness of what everyone is doing. But here’s a secret: most people just post the best versions of themselves. I was talking to a friend who was recently on a trip. I was telling her how fun her trip looked based on the photos and such she was posting. She looked at me blankly and said, “I actually had a terrible time. I only posted the fun-looking stuff to make it seem like I was having a blast. Social media only sees the best parts, not the real story.”

I have since decided to stop scrolling excessively (or obsessively) through social media because every time I do, I'm tempted to want the lives I see through my computer or phone even though reality may not be portrayed.

 

Remember that Photoshop Exists

If you, like a lot of people on this planet, struggle with comparing yourself not only to the lives of your friends, but to the images plastered on billboards, in magazines, and the stars who lead seemingly perfect lives, remember that most of the time, these things are far from reality. For years we have been trying to reach impossible beauty and lifestyle standards - all in vain. Remember that we are all unique and that the images that are thrown at us at every side are often made to appear better than they truly are.

 

Move On - You’re Wasting Time

You only have so much time in a day! Why waste even a minute loathing in self-pity and wallowing in sadness as a result of comparing yourself with others?

 

Be Happy for People

Genuinely rejoice for others’ successes and blessings. This will make it hard for you to be resentful towards them for something you cannot help. 

 

Read the Scriptures

Read God's Word! There are so many promises and verses that tell us how precious we are to God. Among those is one of my favorites that reminds that while men look at the outward appearance, God looks at the heart.

 

bible promises
 

Do you struggle with comparing yourself to others? What helps you? Let me know below in the comments!


 
 

How to make Every Day Valentine’s Day

RelationshipsAmanda Walter | Maple Alps11 Comments

With Valentine’s Day over and boxed heart candy at 75% off, I have caught myself giving a little sigh. You see, I just love Valentine’s Day (VD). It’s something about the pink and hearts everywhere that makes it impossible for me to be mad at anyone, reminds me of how much I am loved (and love!) and allows me to embrace my inner “girl.” Though I’ve never done anything extra special on February 14, I have always thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere it provides.

When my husband and I first started dating, he made some remark about every day being Valentine’s Day with him. While he was saying it somewhat lightly, there was definitely truth to his statement. Why should a day (regardless of the history and background of it) predominantly celebrating love, be the only day we think about sharing with those we care about how much we love them? It just doesn’t seem right.

If you, like me, are feeling a little sad that the holiday has passed us by already, you can hold your chin up a little higher. Some of my blogging friends have helped me out with a fun project to share with all of you some great ideas to keep the VD feelings all year long!
 

How to make Every Day Valentine’s Day + Free Printable | www.maplealps.com

We can make every day "Valentine's Day" by performing little acts of kindness for the people around us that we love: our spouses, friends, neighbours, and families. We can serve them, meet their needs, and show them just how much we love them!
- Abbey of Small Town Soul

We can make every day Valentine's Day by remembering why we love in the first place and being intentional! I love Jim Elliot's quote - "Wherever you are, be all there! Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God." So in daily life, whether I'm spending time with someone or doing something, I strive to focus on them (instead of checking my phone, wondering what to say in response, going for efficiency over caring) and love them to the best of my ability, depending on God's grace to help me best love and serve them/perform the task at hand!
- Jessica of Duly Noted Ink

Have a quiet moment together like seeing the sunrise or sunset, viewing the ocean, sitting on a hill and embracing earth's natural beauty together or even sitting in front of a fireplace with some hot chocolate. Just being around each other is something wonderful.
- Martika of Coffee Time With Him

How to make Every Day Valentine’s Day | www.maplealps.com

When our girls were 4 and 6 we started a new tradition for Valentine's Day. I set out 4 boxes, one for each family member. I had paper, pens, pink and white doilies, and lots of stickers available. Each person got to write out qualities they liked in each family member, things they appreciated, and favourite memories. It was to be a secret. On Valentine's we took turns reading them out loud. Because of their ages, they needed lots of coaching, memory jogging, and help writing/typing. They are 27 and 25 and we still do this, though sometimes it's through cards or texts throughout the day. It's really a skill I wanted to encourage--to find things we love about each other and what makes the other person feel loved.
- Terri from Terri Fullerton

I make every day Valentines Day by learning my hubby's love language and making sure I'm using it!
-Susannah from Simple Moments Stick

I'm such a weirdo but, I don't care much about Valentine's Day. It's sorta man-made and regimented. For years, I've told my husband to love me throughout the year and he can just go "light" on Valentine's Day. My love language is gifts so he sends flowers often, buys me things, surprises me with gifts all year. So I kinda feel like every day is Valentine's Day. Should he ever slack, then I might put more emphasis on that one day in February. 
- Teri of Godsy Girl

It's not something I do all the time, but every now and then I will make dinner for my kids (before an early bedtime) and then make dinner for my husband and myself after the kids go to bed. I'm also known for making treats and snacks for after the kids go to bed. Truffles anyone?
- Erin from Momma's Living Room

How to make Every Day Valentine’s Day | www.maplealps.com

By writing little "love notes" filled with words of appreciation for our loved ones on a regular basis. You never know how much a kind note might mean to someone.
- Rachel from The Random Writings

We need to know how we are loved. I like to leave notes for my family that tell them I love you because . . . . your are brave, kind, considerate etc and then tell them how I saw that in them.
- Kim from Day to Day Adventures

My boyfriend texts me every morning "Good Morning Beautiful!" which puts a smile on my face and starts my day off right. 
- Pamela from Bible Geek Lifestyle

We can make every day Valentine's Day by constantly pushing ourselves to serve our spouse. Valentine's Day is great because we all seem to want to make our significant other happier. What if they had a hard day at work and it wasn't Valentine's Day? The probably need our love and support more at that time.
- Courtney from Happy Little Shopping Secret

I would say to make everyday Valentine's day we could ask ourselves, "How can I make today a little bit brighter or easier for my spouse?" It could be by doing something simple or leaving them a little note or just taking an extra minute to tell them how much you love and appreciate them.
- Kaitlyn from Lily and Mama

How to make Every Day Valentine’s Day | www.maplealps.com

We can make every day Valentine's day by having quick morning cuddles before starting the day! I love resting on my husband's chest and kissing him on the cheek with his arm around me! It's sweet and simple. Just a little way to say "I just woke up, and you're on my mind!"
- Elizabeth  from Wanderlust + Heart

From a relationship standpoint, I think making a conscious effort to do something nice for or compliment someone you care about can make each day Valentine's Day for you and that other person. From a personal standpoint, taking a few minutes each day to reflect on your life and give yourself a nice little pamper session, pep talk, or general treat can make each day Valentine's Day for you.
- Jessi from Roses in Ink

It might seem over simple ... But ... To make every day like Valentines, touch your spouse. A loving caress - a neck rub, a hand placed gently on a forearm, "footsie" under the table, a kiss on the cheek, etc. As husband and wife, we can be together all day and never touch. It happens all too easily - especially if we have children to nurture.
- Lori from Encourage Your Spouse

Meet your spouse's love language
- Audrey of Life with Little People

 

How would you make every day Valentine's Day? Let me know in the comments below!