We’re Home And We Carry With Us A Lasting Metaphor

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We hope you enjoyed our photos from our trip to California. I took a total of 1480 pictures over fourteen days–yeah, I’m grateful for digital cameras, but not nearly as much as Tom is. ;-)  We would have never been able to do that if we were still taking pictures on film. Times have changed, and it’s good.

We had a great time away, but we’re glad to be home.

We always ask ourselves when we get home what were the highlights–you know the things you’ll remember years from now without having to look at the photos taken. I know one thing I’ll never forget, for it was so out of the ordinary that it took my breath away. I felt like Alice in Wonderland saying, “this is curiouser and curiouser.”

You see, we had just finished tasting the wines of Phillips Hill Winery and hearing the story of the hundred year old apple and pear orchard that used to don the hills around it. Next to the parking lot was one of the old apple trees that should have been dead, but it wasn’t. It had completely lost the interior of it’s trunk, yet this tree continued to bear fruit and lots of it!IMG_2596

How was this possible? I have no idea. The only explanation I could come up with is that the roots are strong enough to support the frail trunk–amazing.

What an excellent metaphor for marriage.

We know that we are all growing older. And the older we get the less romantic it sounds to “come grow old with me…” So what we do to cultivate our relationship today, matters for how much fruit we’ll be able to bear in the years to come. Thankfully, this isn’t dependent on our abilities alone; God has promised to be the third strand in the husband and wife relationship, and a three-corded strand is not easily broken. What good news! Even though our outer man is wasting away, our inner man is being renewed day by day. We have hope that every year that passes can be better than the ones that have gone before.

I think if we could interview this tree, it would have stories of better days gone by. A time when it was surrounded by other trees just like it, but now it is one of only a few trees left. Yet this hasn’t kept it from doing what it knows to do–bear fruit.

I pray that the fruit produced from our marriages will continue for as long as we both shall live. It is our testimony that there is STILL LIFE in our marriage until we take our last breath.

Still Life

Still Life

Posted in Aging, Christian Marriage, Growing Strong Marriages, Seasons of Life, The Gospel & Marriage | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ft. Bragg and Glass Rock Beach

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Miniature Train Exhibit – they take their hobby quite seriously here. Amazing!

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I couldn’t resist this shot–doesn’t it look like a male and female mop couple? Made me laugh.

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We happened on Ft. Bragg’s Farmer’s Market held every Wed. from 3p – 6p. How we wish we could have taken lots of these home–photos will have to do.

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At first I thought this little guy had impaled himself on the barbed wire, until he turned his head.

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Looks like we’re not the only crazy ones to look for fragments of smooth glass on Glass Rock Beach.

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Found this jelly-type fish called a Velella, which means By-The-Wind-Sailor, scattered all over the beach.

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Searching for these glass rocks is addicting. Yeah, I pocketed quite a few. :-)

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Tom and Danny found other things to do while we dug in the sand.

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A Dream Come True – Mendocino, CA

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Love the old houses.

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The Mendocino Music Festival was taking place the last two weeks in July. This was our view from Flow Restaurant’s balcony.

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The Mendocino Cafe

Amazing hydrangeas

Amazing hydrangeas

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Water towers were a necessity at one time. Now they simply beg to be decorated and photographed.

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Another Day In The Vineyards (Alexander Valley)

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“Still Life” in this tree.

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Seasons

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This tree had no insides, yet continued to bear abundant fruit!

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We have never seen anything like this old apple tree…

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Phillips Hill Winery is situated on an old Apple and Pear Farm.

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Old Apple Drying Barn at Phillips Hill Winery–converted to be their new tasting room.

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Vintage fruit stand

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Aroma Exhibit provided several of these glass domes to sample the different aromas offered in wine varieties.

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Out door tasting room is right where all the apple drying process took place a hundred years ago. Notice the fruit bins in the background.

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Drying racks (now used to display wine) concealed behind these wooden doors.

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Apple coring table.

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Barn wood is believed to be over 800 years old.

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Beautiful picnic area under an enormous weeping willow.

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One of the many areas to enjoy the fruit of the vine.

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Magnificent Pacific Coast Highway

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Armstrong Redwood State Park

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Over 300′ tall.

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Hollowed out from fires over the years. This actually makes the tree stronger.

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Tom’s wingspan is 6′. Wow.

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The tallest redwood in the forest. 310′ and 1600 years old.

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These are the moments I’ll carry in my heart forever. <3

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Napa Valley and Hess Art Gallery

This gallery contains 19 photos.

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Our Visit To The Culinary Institute Of America (CIA)

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My lunch: potato crusted sole with spinach and grilled onions :-)

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Compliments of the Chef. :-) Chocolate and Blackberries–two of my favorites!

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Part of the dining room–a working fireplace for cold nights.

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Our special table for four by the working kitchen.

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School in progress.

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Barn Swallows made nests in the top of the window.

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“Food is life. Create and savor yours!”

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Sonoma And Alexander Valley Vineyards

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Korbel Winery Tour

Our visit to Korbel Winery - Home of America's Champagne.

Our visit to Korbel Winery – Home of America’s Champagne.

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The location of Korbel used to be a Redwood Forest. In the center of this ring of trees is the parent tree that was cut down. The trees surrounding the stump are “baby trees”.

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French Oak barrels that used to store the fermenting juice. They can hold approx. 1600 gallons.

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Korbel was the wine of the Millenium and was used to toast in the year – 2000.

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My favorite photo of the day.

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A Day By The Sea

The Pacific Ocean

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Posted in Christian Marriage

The Golden Gate Bridge

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Celebrating 75 Years of Marriage–GO!

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Graphic Credit: joomla.uproc.lib.mi.us

No, Tom and I haven’t been married 75 years. Heck, I’m only turning 55 next week! So why the title? Let me explain…starting today we’re going on a two-week vacation with dear friends. This is our 35th anniversary trip and this is their 40th anniversary trip. So you see, combined we’re celebrating 75 years of marriage. I tried convincing the guys that this qualifies for our diamond anniversaries, but they didn’t go for it. California’s Gold Coast will have to do. :-)

We plan to visit Napa and Sonoma Valley wineries, the Redwoods forests, San Francisco, the Pacific Coast Highway, and whatever suits our fancy. It’s going to be a relaxing, romantic and memorable trip.

I plan to post photos as we go, and they will have to do, for you see–I’m on vacation, and I have more important things to do than sit at my computer and write. So, if you want to follow us on our trip–click the follow button and enjoy.

As a treat we discovered the following video of a couple who are celebrating their Diamond Anniversary. They were married in 1939! Click the photo to watch their story…

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Posted in Celebrations, Christian Marriage, Romantic Vacation Ideas, Travel, Vacations | Tagged , , , ,

The Guilt Caused By Marriage Blogs

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When Tom and I first started The Romantic Vineyard there weren’t many marriage blogs focusing on the positives of married life–romancing your spouse, date night ideas, honoring and respecting your spouse. Most were focused on the struggles marriages encounter and how to deal with them. Both are good. Both are needed.

But things have changed.

Marriage blogs are all over the internet now, offering advice from the benefits of staying physically fit to how to recover when your spouse has been unfaithful. There are thousands of tips on how to manage your finances to how to romance your spouse. You can find any information needed and not all of it is good.

If you endorse same sex marriage, you can find a blog that supports your conviction. If you believe having a girlfriend and a wife is okay, there are blogs to support it. You can even find blogs that say that pornography in marriage can be a useful tool for a healthy sex life., or that sexual bondage is a good thing.

Really? Yes, really. We live in the age of information, and blogs allow anyone to give information whether it’s true or not, whether it’s healthy or not. This can cause guilt to abound, even in those marriages where you are genuinely wanting what’s right that will help your marriage last a lifetime.

So it matters what blogs you read.

It matters what information you absorb, because information stored becomes what convicts the heart when failure to adhere to that standard happens.

Our standard is established in the Bible. It didn’t originate with us; it’s God’s plan for a marriage that glorifies Him. We believe marriage isn’t for our happiness as much as it’s for God’s glory. We are a reflection of Him and His love for the church. So how we treat each other should mirror that eternal relationship. This is Truth to store and from which to draw to grow your marriage.

I know there are times when you just don’t want to work on another problem or face another issue in your relationship. Sometimes you want to escape from it all and simply enjoy life. I get it. Marriage is hard work. It takes a willingness to make yourself do what you may not feel like doing.

For instance, I remember a time when I was not in the mood for Tom’s affectionate advances. I knew he was wanting intimate time with me, but my feelings were no where in “the zone”. I wanted space. I wanted to do what I wanted and not give in to what he wanted. So I gave hints to that effect…not responding to his touch or kiss. Sighing when I knew he would hear me, etc.

It pains me to confess this, but if I’m going to be a marriage blogger, it’s my responsibility to be honest and open. Tom and I haven’t arrived. Our marriage is still a work in progress. We need daily grace and daily forgiveness. We must resist our selfish tendencies and humble ourselves for the good of the other. Why? Because God has ordained our relationship to be an example to others, our children, our grandchildren, our friends and those who know us from afar.

We know that some of our posts can make you want to click over to Words With Friends or Candy Crush and just.not.think.about.it. And sometimes it’s okay to do that. Why? Because absorbing truth for lasting change takes a lifetime. Hearing Truth is like pouring water on parched ground. As it sits, it seeps, and the ground is eventually softened making the next watering easier to absorb.

I don’t know where you are in your marriage vineyard. You may be well on your way to growth and you’re starting to reap the fruit. You may be past the harvest and having to crush some grapes to extract what’s good and throw away what’s not. You may be realizing that not all on which you’ve built your marriage is good ground. There may be times where you both have to dismantle some of what you’ve built, and conviction is the first step.

Our encouragement to you is to resist the temptation to avoid hearing the truth. When truth hurts it’s usually because there’s an area that needs to hear it.

God knows the areas in which our marriage needs to grow. And when He focuses on the sore spot our first tendency is jerk away. Instead of doing that, try digging deeper and see if the pain doesn’t lessen.

Consider a child with a splinter in her hand–when her parent tries to use tweezers to remove it, she pulls her hand away not wanting it to hurt. But the hurt of removing the splinter is exactly what she needs to find relief, not in pulling away.

What marriage topics cause you guilt? Is the guilt godly or does it stem from wrong beliefs? Once you know the guilt is valid, then we encourage you to hold your hand still and let God do what only He can do–that’s when the healing begins.

Posted in Christian Marriage, Conflict, Growing Strong Marriages, Troubled Marriage | Tagged , , | 17 Comments

If Our Thoughts Were Pictures–Would You Want Your Spouse To Look At Them?

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A picture captures a moment in time to help us remember the experience, the people or the place photographed. I love to look at pictures as much as I like to take them. I see it as a type of journalism. Once the shot is caught on camera I know I’ll always remember it.

Our thoughts are like pictures in our mind. What we allow ourselves to record in our thoughts will be remembered for a long time. This is why it is so important to follow the command of Scripture by taking every thought captive.

When it comes to how we think of our spouse and our marriage it is even more important to guard our thoughts.

It’s often the one with whom we are closest that we are the most critical. We can nit-pick every flaw and judge every (in)action. We can smother our spouse with accusations and never say a word. This is more dangerous than you know.

There is an old adage that says “You are what you eat.” I think it could be said similarly…

“Our marriage is what we allow ourselves to think of it.”

Think the best of your spouse when they don’t do something you hoped they would and your thoughts will stop there. On the contrary, if you critically judge your spouse’s motives you’ll open a door of angry thoughts towards them–like a Pandora’s Box you wished you’d never opened.

Sadly, many couples have lived this way for so many years that the issues are no longer clear, just the animosity they feel towards each other.

How can we erase the photos mounted on the walls of our mind? How can we begin to undo the damage years of unguarded thoughts have wrought? The answer is easier than you might think.

First of all repent. Ask God to forgive you for thinking critically of your spouse. Then ask Him to help you undo the damage done. It might be an impossible task for us, but not for God. His power is limitless and He is able to save. Finally, His mercies are new every morning, so every morning you can ask for His help, His mercy, His power to work in you enabling you to begin thinking differently towards your spouse and marriage.

I love the movie, What About Bob? The concept Dr. Marvin (Richard Dreyfuss) shares with Bob (Bill Murray), his patient, is a good one (albeit a bit exagerrated) to practice and it’s biblical.  Here’s the clip:

Zechariah 4:10 says, “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin…” 

Whenever there is work to be done we have to start somewhere, and it can seem daunting. But if God has led you to read this post today, and you are being convicted to change, then God has planted a seed of hope in your heart. Taking the small steps each day to change the way you think and act towards your spouse is like a tiny seedling taking root. It will grow if treated well. Neglect it and no doubt it will wither and die.

So, our encouragement to you today is to decide what one thing you can work on starting today. Pray and ask God for help to do the impossible and watch what happens. We have a feeling your baby steps will end up like giant leaps in the years to come. Now that’s a picture to hang on to.

Posted in Christian Marriage, Growing Strong Marriages, The Gospel & Marriage, Troubled Marriage | Tagged , , , , ,

One Way To Become A Better Wife, Mom, Nana And Friend

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This afternoon I’m heading to south Orlando for my first National Women’s Conference sponsored by The Gospel Coalition. To say I’m excited would be an understatement. It’s good to go to conferences such as these. It’s a time to pull away from the normal routine and make room for God. I am looking forward to seeing what He will say to me through His Word, primarily the book of Nehemiah. I’m excited to gather with friends far and near to reconnect and hear what’s going on in their lives. I’m excited to see how what I learn will help me in the days, weeks and months ahead to be a better wife, mother, Nana and friend. God uses our weak efforts to make lasting marks on our lives, and I’m confident this is one of those times in my life.

I invite you to follow me on Twitter as I’ll tweet throughout the conference quotes worth sharing and Truths I hear. You can also follow along using the hashtag: #TGCW14.

There is a lengthy list of speakers including Tim and Kathy Keller and John and Noelle Piper. I have no idea what God will do in my heart this weekend, but I do know that I’m going full of faith and expectant that what He does will surprise and amaze me.

When was the last time you pulled away in this way? How was your life impacted for good? 

Posted in Growing Strong Marriages, The Gospel & Marriage, Wives | Tagged , , , , , ,

Wednesday’s Walk – Rails To Trails

 

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It’s the day of the week to plan a walk together sometime this week as part of our Summer Challenge. Today I want to share about the Rails to Trails Conservancy taking place all over the country. Here’s what their mission statement says:

Our Mission

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy is a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., whose mission it is to create a nationwide network of trails from former rail lines and connecting corridors to build healthier places for healthier people.

Tom and I have enjoyed biking and walking on several trails in and around Orlando. It’s usually beautiful, quiet and paved. If you are interested in discovering what trails are available near your home check out this handy Trail Link that provides trail information listed by state.

In addition RTC provides a free iPhone app to help you discover what trails are close to where you are, even while visiting other state.  For more info on this great resource click the image below.

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Won’t you share with us a photo of your Wednesday’s Walk?

And when you do, use the hashtag #WednesdaysWalk. It’ll be fun to see what the view was for you as you took a walk together.  Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to add your photo there as well. I would love to see Wednesday’s Walk become the hottest trend in social media as a way of elevating the importance of quality time spent together…it can happen, one step at a time. :-)

Posted in #WednesdaysWalk, Christian Marriage, Contests, Date Night Ideas, Outdoor Dates, Summer Date Ideas | Tagged , ,

4 Ways We Should Never Settle In Marriage

 

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There are times when settling is a good thing, like when you find a place to call home, or when you’re finally able to settle a long-standing argument. Settling on a purchase price of something means both parties are satisfied with the bottom line and agree no more negotiating is necessary. Settling also has permanence to it–like when an avalanche settles at the bottom of a mountain; once the dust clears you know the pile of rocks is there for good.

But there are times when we should never settle, especially in marriage.

We should never settle in:

  • Pursuing my spouse. Just because you said “I do” doesn’t mean you’ve said “I’m done”. The marriage is just beginning and your pursuit of them after marriage is more important than your pursuit of them before. Why? Because before you were trying to get them to commit to love you “for as long as you both shall live.” But after you’re married is when the real fun begins. Nights don’t have to end with a good night kiss at the front door. You can complete your heart’s desire as often as you like.
  • Studying my spouse. Knowing their likes and dislikes and doing all you can to love them in the way that will mean the most to them.
  • Resolving conflicts. If there are areas in your relationship that you know are hot spots, it does no good to ignore the issue. It won’t go away. It will only fester over time and cause even more damage. Do the hard work and get the help you need to resolve issues quickly.
  • Love for God. When it comes to our personal relationship with The Lord, we can’t settle. If we do we aren’t standing still, but drifting further apart. It takes a daily commitment to grow in our relationship with God. He desires our time and affection. And giving it to Him wholeheartedly is the best thing we can do to grow our marriage.

Settling brings stagnation and stifles our forward movement.

Like a stream that no longer flows to the sea; if there’s a dam blocking the water, it stagnates and attracts all kinds of unwanted pests. It’s best to deal with the blockage and allow the stream to flow freely again. It will not only be best for your relationship, but also for all those who know and love you.

In what ways have you settled?

Posted in Christian Marriage, communication, Conflict, Growing Strong Marriages, Troubled Marriage | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Wednesday’s Walk

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It’s Wednesday once again. How have you been doing with our Summer challenge to take regular walks together? Don’t miss this weekly chance to slow down and enjoy the time together. Be sure to use the hashtag #WednesdaysWalk when you upload a photo. If you have a Twitter account we encourage you to share it there as well.

Posted in #WednesdaysWalk, Christian Marriage, communication, Contests

A Conversation on Contentment in Marriage

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I just finished my second ladies retreat at our cabin in North Carolina. It was all that I hoped for and more! The theme for this retreat was Contentment, which led Tom and I to have the following conversation today about contentment in marriage while we were driving through the mountains. This is one of my favorite parts of road trips with Tom; he talks and shares his wisdom with me. He says he has trouble putting his thoughts on paper, so I thought I would record, for your benefit, what a casual conversation with him is like. It begins after I asked him what contentment in marriage looks like.

Posted in Christian Marriage | 2 Comments