Words From Friends Part One – Some Not So Wise

IMG_1373Today we share the first part of a two part series on Words of Wisdom received from Friends. This is the third week in our CMBA challenge for October. 

I remember when Tom and I first got engaged, it was unbelievable how many people said things like:

→ Just wait, the excitement won’t last.

→ You’re happy now, but wait until you have kids.

→ You know more marriages end in divorce now than ever.

I was only 19 when we were married. These comments didn’t deter my resolve to marry Tom, but it sure put added pressure on me during such a transitional time. I knew I loved Tom. I knew God had confirmed to me that he was to be my husband. But I was afraid. I was afraid to leave the only home and city I had ever known to embrace a place that was completely new. I’ve never been one to embrace change, and this was one change that I knew would last forever!

How quick we are to say things without giving regard to how they will effect the hearer. Do your words speak faith or fear to those you love? Do you see the sunny side or the dark side? Are the words you choose wise or foolish? Does it matter? YES, it absolutely matters!

Our words have power to curse or to bless, the Bible tells us.

When we encounter someone who is embarking on a new adventure we should encourage them instead of sounding all the alarms at once. Of course, we must wisely know when an alarm should be sounded, but oftentimes it’s encouragement that’s needed, not reproof.

Tom and I purposed that our marriage would last, that divorce wouldn’t be an option–ever. And by God’s grace we’ve weathered every storm (and there have been many) together. We discovered that we became a better “us” after the storms had passed. Only God can allow the winds of adversity to blow and rearrange us in the process to not bring destruction, but healing. Amazing! Sad to realize that many couples walk away, even run when the storm clouds begin to build and miss out on this miracle in marriage.

This is why we post “Healthy Marriage Tips” on our Facebook page each and every day. We want to be a positive voice to marriages that need encouragement to keep moving forward through the stormy days as well as the sunny ones.

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Posted in Christian Marriage, CMBA Blog Challenge Word Of Wisdom, Contests, Growing Strong Marriages | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Words of Wisdom From The Bible


This is week two in the CMBA blogging challenge for October. Our topic for this week is Words of Wisdom from the Bible you value for your marriage.

Wow–Where do I begin. Everything we have built our marriage upon comes from the wisdom found in the Bible. It is our source. It is our foundation. It is THE Word of God, and what He declares about marriage matters more than any other advice one could receive, at any time or anywhere!

So I suppose I’ll narrow it down to the verses that have meant the most to us during different seasons of our 35 years together.

First year – “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.” – Genesis 2:24-25 ESV

When we first got married, we held fast to the idea of leaving and cleaving. I was the youngest in my family, while Tom had lived on his own for several years, so it was hardest on me. I’m grateful that Tom was so determined to help us establish our family right off the bat.  It made this verse front and center in our lives.

Third year – “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” – James 5:16 ESV

This was the year where we really got to know one another without any pretenses. It was one of our most difficult years, yet as confession was made, we discovered the power of God’s forgiveness and His ability to unite us in the deepest places of the heart. Our marriage was firmly planted during this hard year.

Eighteenth year – “But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” – James 4:6

This was the year when I realized how proud I was and how humble Tom was. It was a landmark year in our relationship and one where I learned the following verse, first hand:

“However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” – Ephesians 5:33

Scripture is full of wisdom to help us know how to live in any and all situations. But when it comes to marriage it is quite clear. We are commanded…

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” – Deut. 6:5

This is to be our highest priority because our relationship with Christ is the only one that never changes. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Our relationship with our spouse will change, so we must cling first to Christ and then to our spouse. Our spouse can never fill the space reserved for Christ alone.

Keeping our relationship in balance with our relationship with Christ is the best way to help it grow through the years. God will be faithful to see that we are able to glorify Him in and through all the changes.

Now for my life verse. It is the one I return to again and again, and I pray it will encourage you in your walk with the Lord and in your marriage…

“In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” – 1 Peter 1:6-9

Our marriage is to be a reflection of Christ’s union with the church. If we get our relationship with Him right, our marriage will benefit. We pray these verses will impact your relationship for lasting good as they have ours.

Blessings to you and your spouse.

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Modeled Words of Wisdom

We are taking part in the CMBA Blog Challenge for the month of October focusing on Words of Wisdom we’ve received from others. This week we are to share what words of wisdom we’ve received from family.

Stan and Lee Gray - my parents whom I miss so much!

Stan and Lee Gray – my parents whom I miss so much!

I must admit that my parents didn’t talk a lot about marriage, but they modeled many positive things about it as I grew up. Instead of Words of Wisdom, I would say they Modeled Wisdom for me.

First and foremost, they displayed what loyalty and faithfulness looks like.

They never once spoke of divorce or quitting. I can’t recall them fighting or speaking disrespectfully to one another. And they made sure our family was plugged in to the local church.

My dad served our family by working hard, helping others and being an example of unselfish love to all who knew him.

My mom served our family by working hard by my dad’s side in our family business (a neighborhood pharmacy with soda fountain), serving others at church and in our community, and being an example of generosity in all areas.

I can’t recall a single conversation about the do’s and don’t’s of marriage, but I know what a good marriage looks like because of their example.

My dad passed away after 57 years of marriage in 2004. My mom joined him 9 years later. As she was in the early days of grieving my dad’s death, I asked her what was the hardest part of it all–she said, “not having your dad here with me.”  They were friends, companions and most importantly husband and wife.

As my mom faced days of aloneness and grief, she refused to feel sorry for herself and chose instead to throw her time and energy into helping others who were in need. She started by cooking meals for those who were homebound. She said it helped her more than anything else could. I wasn’t surprised, for this was the habit they had formed their entire married life. Looking for a need and doing all they could to supply it.

At their 50th wedding anniversary my sister, brother and I realized what a legacy we had been given and how their marriage had established our own. At that time my sister was celebrating 24 years of marriage, and my brother and I were each celebrating 18 years married.

Gratefully, we have learned how to express the importance of cultivating a God-glorifying marriage with our three children. Two are married and will celebrate 9 and 10 years of marriage next year. Our youngest is yet to be married, but we are confident that she will build on the strong foundation established for her years before she was even born.

What words of wisdom from your family have helped you in your marriage to stay the course?

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Posted in Christian Marriage, CMBA Blog Challenge Word Of Wisdom, communication, Growing Strong Marriages | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

The Thread Of God’s Faithfulness


Tom and I just celebrated the anniversary of the date he proposed to me. That was in 1978–when the Jesus Movement was in full swing. I remember how in love we were (and still are) and how passionate we were (and still are) for Jesus. The future was open wide before us, but we had no idea what God had planned. We only knew from that day, Saturday, September 16th, we would walk this road together.

We are so grateful!

How did we celebrate? Tom took me to breakfast and then to the park where he popped the question. That day 36 years ago wasn’t a big planned event. In fact, no one knew he was proposing, except the jeweler that worked for him at Gordon’s Jewelers. :-) He didn’t ask my dad permission to marry me until AFTER he asked me–something we wouldn’t recommend since being parents of daughters ourselves. (whoops!)

That night so long ago, The Archers and Andre Crouch were playing at the Bob Carr auditorium. Tom had planned for us to go out with friends to celebrate and then attend the concert. Little did I know how those songs would become such a reminder of that day for us.

So, this gave us the idea to look on You Tube for those songs–and we found them! It was the best date night ever! We listened to Phil Keaggy, The Archers, 2nd Chapter of Acts, Barry McGuire, The Wall Brothers, to name just a few. This is the music that had been a huge means of God’s grace in our early years together, and hearing them sing was as if no time had passed at all.

The thread of God’s faithfulness was evident.

Things we are still learning today, He was speaking to us then. Only our young eyes didn’t see the thread, but it was there. And that same thread is there in your life and your marriage too. Have you taken the time to look for it? We encourage you to ask God to help you see it.

He is faithful and will complete the work He’s begun in you and in your marriage. How do I know? Because His Word promises us it is so.

What songs has God used in your marriage to draw you closer to Him and to each other?

Posted in Anniversaries, Celebration Dates, Celebrations, Christian Marriage, Date Night Ideas, Growing Strong Marriages, Testimonies | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Making Time For Romance When Life Is Too Busy

Image courtesy of FrameAngel at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of FrameAngel at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

There are times in marriage when life is too busy to focus on romance, and it’s okay. There are lots of ways to appreciate your spouse and to help your romantic love grow during such seasons.  But you might not notice them in the chaos. Thus the purpose of this post.

Making time for little evidences of romance in the busyness of life:

  1. When your husband offers to give the kids a bath so you can enjoy a few minutes of quiet while cleaning the kitchen.
  2. When your wife brews your coffee and brings it to you while you’re getting dressed for work.
  3. When your not feeling well and your spouse does something like rub your back or fluff your pillow to make you more comfortable.
  4. When your children are disobeying you and your spouse corrects them for their disobedience, but also for disrespecting you.
  5. When your spouse tells your children what a gift you are to him/her.
  6. When you share a burden with your spouse and their first response is to take your hand and pray for God’s help.
  7. When you are craving something sweet and your spouse either buys it for you or makes it for you.
  8. When your spouse remembers something you said you wanted and orders it for you on Amazon and lets it arrive unexpected on your doorstep.
  9. When your spouse does one of your chores when you didn’t ask them to.
  10. When you take the time to organize an area of the house because you know your spouse likes order.
  11. When you receive a text for no reason in the middle of the day that says, “You’re beautiful!” or “I thank God for you!”
  12. When seeing each other for the first time after a long, busy day, kissing as if you haven’t seen each other in months.
  13. Giving your spouse space when they are feeling overwhelmed.
  14. Making a way for your spouse to have time with friends. Maybe even plan a date without them knowing it until the day arrives.
  15. Asking your wife to go out with you after you’ve made all the plans and arranged a babysitter.
  16. Getting up before your wife to clean the kitchen so she starts her day with a fresh start.
  17. Not expecting too much from your spouse when they are stressed, but looking for ways to show understanding and empathy instead.
  18. Writing notes that say specific things you appreciate about your spouse and leaving it somewhere so they’ll find it later. Maybe even make a game of it by hiding 20 notes and telling them how many are waiting to be found.
  19. Washing your wife’s car and cleaning it on the inside as well, with no lectures on how the car got messy in the first place.
  20. Giving your spouse time to read a favorite book, magazine or on-line publication.
  21. Buying your spouse’s favorite snack and have it waiting for them when they need it most: at work, in the bath, before bed, etc.
  22. Doing something to take their breath away without any expectation for something in return.

The key to all this is being intentional in showing your love in practical ways–giving more thought to what your spouse needs than to what you need.

These are a few ways that Tom and I have helped our romance last 35+ years. In fact, today marks the 36th anniversary of the day Tom proposed to me. :-) Little did I know what a gift he would be to me. He has taught me how to be intentional regarding romance more through his actions than by his words, and I am grateful to God for the gift of Tom.

I share this post with you in the hopes of helping you grow in showing romance to your spouse even when it seems impossible. Like our pastor taught us years ago,


If romance is important, and loving your spouse is your top priority, you’ll make time to express little evidences of romance, even during the busiest of seasons.

In what ways have you expressed romantic love when not feeling so romantic?

Posted in Christian Marriage, Growing Strong Marriages, Hindrances to Romance, Priorities, Romance in Marriage | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

May Our Marriages Last This Long…

Posted in Aging, Christian Marriage, Growing Strong Marriages, Seasons of Life, Testimonies | Tagged ,

Marriage Matters More Than We Know

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Today marks the 13th anniversary of the day that changed America forever.

The mainland of the USA was no longer innocent nor protected from the effects of international war. War had come to our shores and left an indelible mark on our minds.

I found it an interesting metaphor to read on the National Geographic website about a man named Hazem Gamal. This is what they wrote about him:

South tower, 37th floor (saw towers on fire when he emerged from subway station)

Fresh from his honeymoon, Hazem Gamal heard his wedding ring drop as he fled into a toll booth by the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel to escape the dust cloud from the crumbling south tower. When he felt it was safe, he opened the booth’s door, slid his foot around in ankle-high dust, and found the ring.

“That cloud was very thick—it went instantly from a bright, beautiful day to completely black, to you-could-not-see-your-hand-in-front-of-you black. It became extremely quiet. That’s why I could hear my ring fall off and hit the street. I didn’t realize I’d lost it until I heard that sound.

“The ring has become more significant, although it’s already a significant symbol of lifelong partnership. I lost it in the midst of all of that, and recovered it in the midst of all of that, so it symbolizes not only our partnership but also how I was able to quickly recover and continue with my life despite that event.”

What a powerful story that depicts how far we must go in holding onto our commitment to love each other no matter what storms come our way. Hazem faced the worst of tragedies without the presence of his new wife. Yet in the midst of blinding debris, when his ring slipped off his finger, he knew he had to do whatever he could to find it. His wedding ring symbolized his commitment to love her and nothing was going to keep him from finding it.

Thankfully, miraculously, he found it. Maybe it was his tenacity that allowed him to find it. Maybe it was the newness of the meaning of this ring that allowed him to notice when it fell off. Whatever the reason, finding that ring stands as a powerful metaphor for all of us who are facing heart stopping, vision blinding circumstances. Situations that may make you want to shut yourself up in a toll booth away from the mess.


Click this photo for another amazing testimony about a lost wedding ring. This Sweet Life blog.

But your marriage vows and the ring you wear, stand as sentinels reminding you in the mess that what you have is worth fighting for.

Cling to your spouse in trouble–even when it hurts to do so. Cling to God in prayer for the miracle to find your way when it seems there is no way. And trust Him to do what only He can do. This will be part of your story that God will use to remind others who are facing similar trouble to hang in there. Tragedies, no matter how painful, will pass. And like this newlywed husband you will be able to write an article pointing others to the reason marriage is worth fighting for.

Let freedom ring–in America, and in our marriages.

It matters more than we know.

What difficulties have you weathered together and realized after it was over that your marriage was worth it all? How can you use your story to encourage others?

Posted in Christian Marriage, Difficulty, Growing Strong Marriages, Testimonies, Troubled Marriage | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

A Landmark Year–Life In The 60’s


Tom turned 60 last month. 60! Nothing has really changed to make him seem older, but just saying 60 sounds like he’s reached a new season. And he has. When I think about the past 5 years so much has changed.

Five years ago…

  • Tom turned 55 and I turned 50. ( I tease him that no matter how old he is, I will always be 5 years younger. :-) )
  • Tom owned a small business and was busy managing the day to day operations.
  • All of our children and 4 grandchildren (at the time) lived within 20 minutes of our home.
  • One of our closest friends still called East Orlando home–they now live in Charlotte.
  • My Mom was still alive and involved in my life–helping me research our genealogy as well as my unpublished book.
  • Our son was just finishing up his bachelor’s degree at UCF in English after 9 long years.
  • Both he and our youngest daughter worked for our family-owned business.
  • Our local church that we helped plant in 1985 was just seeing the start of a storm brewing that would change so much of what we called “normal church life.”

Today, here is what life looks like:

  • We sold our business almost 5 years ago–in December.
  • Tom has been “practicing retirement” for 2 years.
  • Our daughter and her family moved to GA and added two more daughters to our growing list of grandchildren whom we adore.
  • Our son and his family moved to TN and added another grandson to our family tree.
  • Our son also graduated with his degree in Creative Writing and landed a job with Dave Ramsey at the Financial Peace University.
  • My book was published based on the life of my grandmother and set in OK Territory.
  • My Mom passed away quite unexpectedly having had good health her entire life. :-(
  • Our youngest daughter went to cosmetology school and got her certification to be a hairstylist.
  • Our church has survived the storm and is now seeing new life and growth for which we have prayed for years.

As you can see much has happened that takes my breath away and makes my heart sink a little just writing it all down. But God…The two words that bring comfort to the most challenging of circumstances.

So, when my Father-in-law asked me if I was planning a surprise celebration for Tom’s birthday, I honestly hadn’t given it much thought. Life had been too complicated to look ahead two months down the road.  He told me he was making plans to fly to Orlando (from his home in San Diego) to be a part of the party. How could I not plan such a surprise?

The wheels started to turn, and I came up with an idea on how to make turning 60 fun and memorable…

I planned a dessert and coffee at some friend’s home and sent out E-vites to about 60 of Tom’s closest friends and family. I found an idea on Etsy to make 60 envelopes and have those coming write out one memory that they have of Tom and place them each in an envelope. Since Tom is not working, he’s here all the time, pulling off a surprise of this size was daunting and took the help of my daughter and dear friend, which they did wonderfully.

We managed to surprise him in many ways. Our kids and grandkids (with the exception of our son who couldn’t take the time off from work) were all here two weeks before his actual birthday, so we decided to do it early.

  • We surprised Tom when our son walked in the day of the party having flown in for the weekend. IMG_3601
  • We surprised Tom when one of his best friends who lives in Charlotte walked into the party as if he still lived here.IMG_3618
  • And the biggest surprise of all was when his Dad walked in the door from San Diego along with his Mom and Stepdad.


We managed to bless him in ways he will never forget. It was special.

Two weeks later, on his actual birthday, we got up early and drove to the beach in order to see the sunrise.


Afterwards we went to a 60’s type diner for breakfast where I gave him the box of 60 memories. He started to read them one by one, and was so affected by the memories and the kind words shared that it took him all day to get through them.


After breakfast we rented a double kayak and took it out on the intracoastal waters of New Smyrna Beach. We got to observe manatees and their babies in a little cove nearby. It was a day filled with new experiences and recalling precious times from the past.


Tom’s 60th birthday is a landmark year, for his life stands as a sentinel proclaiming the grace of God to all who will listen. And I am privileged to have a front row seat of what God is doing in him and saying through him.

We are blessed beyond measure and are facing unchartered waters as we explore this new decade together–life in the 60’s.


In what ways have you celebrated new decades in your spouse’s life or in your marriage?



Posted in Aging, Birthdays, Celebration Dates, Celebrations, Christian Marriage, Date Night Ideas, Seasons of Life | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

I Choose Us

This post was originally published on August 22, 2012:

It was one of those date nights where you think it’s normal and predictable, but I was soon to learn otherwise. Tom and I had decided to watch a movie at home, something we rarely do on date nights because of the lack of conversation. But this movie sounded like it would be worth it.

The Family Man was the movie starring Nicolas Cage and Tia Leoni.

The story tells of man who had a woulda coulda shoulda moment and the lesson he learned in the process. I won’t spoil the story for you if you haven’t seen it and would like to. But there was one line “Kate” said that affected me deeply.

You see, at the time, Tom and I had lived in our home for nearly a decade. Our three children were in their teens and our house seemed much smaller than it did when we first bought it.

Tom was considering a move.

I was hoping for an addition.

Painting of our home – a gift from Tom’s Dad.

We live in a neighborhood surrounded by long-time friends, many of whom go to the same church we do. We do life together, and our memories are precious. I am the sentimental one in our marriage. I tend to cling tightly to people I love and the memories I hold dear. This is not necessarily a good thing. God is teaching me along with Tom’s help the importance of holding all things loosely and leaving God to decided what He will give and what He will take away. It isn’t easy, but peace always follows when I am willing to surrender to His will for my life.

Oh my, that was a rabbit trail. Sorry. I pray it was for someone who needed to be encouraged by my current challenge. Anyway, back to the movie. I was trying to follow Tom’s lead in the decision, but I was afraid he would choose for us to move. It was an emotionally charged season for me, for us.

I have heard it said that the reason movies or books resonate with us and maybe not others is because of the touchstones in the story. We all have them. Something is said or shown that triggers a special memory from your own life and suddenly you’re drawn into the story as if you were the main character. It’s happened to me countless times, this being one of them.

Kate, the female lead in the story was struggling to follow her husband’s lead in a decision as to where they would live. (See the touchstone? I was riveted!) Below is what she said:

You know, I think about the decision you made. Maybe I was being naive, but I believed that we would grow old together in this house, that we’d spend holidays here and have our grandchildren come visit us here. I had this image of us all gray and wrinkly, and me working in the garden, and you repainting the deck. But things change. If you need this, Jack, if you really need this, I will take these kids from a life they love, and I’ll take myself from the only home we’ve ever shared together and I’ll move wherever you need to go. I’ll do that because I love you. I love you, and that’s more important to me than our address. I choose us.

This link will allow you to see the scene from the movie–it’s a powerful demonstration of what marriage is meant to be, and we encourage you to take a moment to watch it.

I’m crying again just remembering it all. God spoke to me in that moment saying I could follow Tom anywhere because this was more important than my hopes and dreams for the future. I chose us!

And Tom was affected in a similar way. He ended up choosing for us to stay here in our home adding on some much needed space. This is the place where I can work in the garden and he can pressure wash our back deck and where we are welcoming our kids and grandkids into our home as often as they wish to come. <3

There is one special place in our family room that I insisted be built for the grandchildren we didn’t yet have. It is a padded window seat surrounded by fluffy pillows and all my favorite childhood books. I knew one day, if God so allowed, we would have grandchildren who would love this little spot in our cozy home.

Willow enjoying my window seat with Pooh

Now 9 years later, we have 5 grandchildren, and my dream has come true. They love their little corner built for them years before their parents were even married. Isn’t God good the way He leads us to the plan He has for us? Had we moved, I know God would have given me lots of memories in our new place. But I am grateful for the twenty years we’ve called this house our home. And today, TODAY, my newest granddaughter, Stella Grace will come to our house for the first time in her two months of life. This Nana is very excited to show her my window seat. :-)

What memories do you have of your home? Have you ever been affected by the touchstones in a movie or book as well? How did it help you or encourage you?

Update as of August 22, 2014: This post was published 2 years ago almost to the day, and we have added two more grandchildren to the mix: Vito and Brielle. In addition, our son has moved with his family to Tennessee. The touchstones in this post are ironic–and God knew I needed this reminder as my life doesn’t look anything like I had expected it would. But God knew, and He is good.

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The Verbs Of Your Marriage


I love words and how they have power to help us understand our marriage. Most of us don’t give much thought to the words we use and why. But we should. Words reveal. Words have power. Words linger in the air of your relationship long after they’ve been spoken. And they can cause more damage than we know, and more health than we realize.

It matters what we say and how we say it.

I remember when I was homeschooling our children we were using an English curriculum that required my kids to dissect sentences starting in 3rd grade. This was something I never had to do, and it fascinated me. It proved there was structure to something I had never given much thought to. Wow. I see now how foolish I was to never give thought to the words that came out of my mouth.

fool‘s mouth is his ruin, and his lips are a snare to his soul. Proverbs 18:7 ESV

Sentence structure may be boring to you, but taking a closer look at the words that come out of our mouth will help us discover if we’re being wise or foolish in our communication with our spouse. Most of you reading this post are familiar with the following verses:

For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.  James 3: 2 – 5 ESV

How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!

Can you imagine there being a fire in your home and you doing nothing to extinguish the flames? Worse, can you imagine if you were the one to start the fire in the first place? It would be scandalous, yet when we choose “fighting words” we are doing this very thing.

I recently read a post about the Verbs Of Your Life on a Pastor’s Heart blog, and it got me thinking…What verbs are active in your marriage right now.

Verbs are action words. They reveal what we’re currently doing. By making a list of our verbs it will help us see if we’re being positive or negative towards our spouse, our marriage, and ultimately our life.

Here is a short list of some verbs that could reveal hot spots in your marriage:

  • yells
  • ignores
  • disregards
  • embarrasses
  • humiliates
  • assaults
  • cringes

On the other hand your list may include verbs that reveal what you’re doing right:

  • gives
  • honors
  • respects
  • romances
  • loves
  • cherishes
  • serves

Our words matter.

Practical Application: We encourage you to plan a night where you and your spouse can take some time and discuss the verbs in your marriage right now. Be honest, for honesty is like an fire extinguisher on the hot spots of your marriage, that is IF you’re saying those words with love and tender-care. Being honest just to dump on your spouse is not loving, and it lacks care. It’s much easier to do as the song says and “say what you need to say,” without considering how you should say it. Here’s a quick tip: Share your heart with your spouse in the way you would want them to share with you.

“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12 ESV


Posted in Christian Marriage, communication, Conflict, Growing Strong Marriages | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Today Is Special…Why?

Tom's last salute to the 50's -- sharing a glass of Bin 50 tonight on his birthday eve. :-)

Tom’s last salute to the 50’s — sharing a glass of Bin 50 tonight on his birthday eve. :-)

Today is Tom’s 60th Birthday, and I have some special things planned. Two weeks ago I surprised him by having a small gathering of friends and family–some from out of town that he had no idea were in town. I love surprising him because he never expects it. Which is another thing I love about him. His humility is always front and center.

I can’t tell you what I did for him…yet. Because as you read this we’ll be in the middle of doing it.


For now, I would love it if you would take a minute and wish him a Happy Birthday in our comment section. As you know, 60 is a huge milestone, and I’m grateful for the years and memories God has given us. And I’m grateful for all of you who make our heart for marriage a tangible ministry.

60 years. Where will you be when you turn 60. Know that the choices you make today will determine the answer to that question. Something we should always consider.


Posted in Aging, Holidays, romancing your husband, Seasons of Life, Showing Honor | Tagged , , , | 30 Comments

4 Encouragements For The Discouraged Marriage


Marriages can go through all sorts of ups and downs as the years pass. This is expected to some degree, for it’s shared in most wedding vows: for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health. Knowing this helps, but when your marriage is going through a down time, it’s hard to find needed encouragement. If you’re not on guard you can find yourself looking for greener pastures.

This is why we want to provide 4 encouragements to those who are discouraged in their marriage. You probably know all these, but if you’re the one who is discouraged you most likely need a reminder.

Encouragement #1 – Hebrews 13 says, Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.  Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Contentment is often associated with the pleasant place, but here God is calling us to be content because He has promised He will never leave us or forsake us. He will walk with us through the discouraging times helping us see the big picture, the eternal perspective of life. So if you are looking down, take some time to worship God for this truth. Put on your favorite worship CD. If you don’t have one may we recommend Matt Redman’s 10,000 Reasons album. One of our favorites is Never Once.

Encouragement #2 – Philippians 4:6-7 says, “…do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Oftentimes when we’re discouraged we allow our emotions to dictate and inform our thoughts, when that is the worst thing to do. Our emotions are not to be trusted, especially when we are being led into a downward spiral. How do we stop this runaway train? By crying out to God in desperate prayer. Let Him hear your heart. Let Him hear your fears. Let Him carry your unbelief, and He will listen. He loves it when, in our weakness we seek His strength, for this gives Him the glory He deserves. God has promised that He will give us peace when we do. If you have prayed and still lack peace–pray more. Pray until you feel the burden lift. The peace isn’t dependent on our circumstances changing. It comes when we learn to trust God in this place of uncertainty. He is our strong tower, and He longs for us to run to Him. David knew how to do this well. Read Psalm 4 for an example.

Encouragement #3 – Proverbs 24 says, “By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches. A wise man is full of strength, and a man of knowledge enhances his might, for by wise guidance you can wage your war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory.” Seek help. There are times in all marriages where you simply can’t dig yourself out of the hole in which you find yourself. In times like these we must humble ourselves and seek the help of others. You’ve heard the saying, you can’t see the forest for the trees, well in marriage maybe you can’t see the answer because the problem looms too large in front of you? If your spouse won’t go with you for help, then we encourage you to go yourself. Change begins in your own heart, for it’s the only one over which you have control.

Encouragement #4 – Psalm 9 says, I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.”  Take some time and recall all that the Lord has done for you in the past. Let this produce thanksgiving to God for what He was able to do then, and let this inform your future that God is good. Start a journal where you both list the things you can remember and if you cant remember ask God to help you. He will. What a testimony this journal will be not only to you in the years ahead, but also to those who are coming up behind you. It will stand and proclaim what God has done when death has already parted you in this life.

What other ways can you think of to encourage those who are discouraged in their marriage? Won’t you take a minute to share your thoughts for their benefit in the comments?


Posted in Christian Marriage, Difficulty, Encouraging Your Spouse, Growing Strong Marriages, Troubled Marriage | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Safety Net Of Romance

Photo Credit: Flickr, Shanta Somasundaram

Photo Credit: Flickr, Shanta Somasundaram

I have the privilege of writing monthly for Dustin Reichman’s blog, Engaged Marriage, on the topic of romance in marriage. This month’s post talks about how romance acts like a safety net when facing difficult times….

Cultivating romance into your marriage on a regular basis helps you stay connected heart-to-heart when you don’t see eye-to-eye.

Every marriage goes through seasons of conflict, and it’s usually quite intense when it happens. Things can be going along really well and your spouse says something that doesn’t sit right in your mind.

So, you ask a question that leads to more tension because either the question isn’t heard clearly or it isn’t understood.

So, the answer isn’t at all what you wanted to hear, which leads to more tension and more conflict. It’s a downward spiral that’s hard to correct once it begins.

Smart couples choose to go to their separate corners when tensions mount in order to think and pray before continuing the conversation.

This is a good idea, especially if you’re prone to fits of anger. Giving yourself time and distance allows the Lord to help you think with wisdom, instead of reacting with foolishness.

What does this have to do with romance?


A couple who never takes the time to romance each other when things are going well, are going to have a harder time believing the best about their spouse when things are hard.

Romance acts like a safety net when you’re balancing on the high wire of conflict.

You know it’s a dangerous place to be, but the romance you’ve enjoyed together insures that you’ll make it through safely and together.

Romance gives you a tangible reminder of why the relationship is worth fighting for. It helps you remember the good times when the bad times are screaming at you. Continue reading…

Posted in Blog Love, Christian Marriage, Conflict, Growing Strong Marriages, Romance in Marriage | Tagged , | 1 Comment

We Have A Winner!

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We just drew a number using Random.org, and our winner is…

Megan Spencer

Megan, Congratulations on winning a free copy of 52 Uncommon Dates. Please e-mail us your mailing address, and we’ll get your prize in the mail to you right away.

We’ve been busy this week with a house full of our kids and grandkids, and it has been a blast. We hope to start posting again soon. Thanks so much for understanding.


Posted in Christian Marriage, Contests

52 Uncommon Dates – An Interview And A Giveaway

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We were recently asked to review a new book available on Amazon titled, 52 Uncommon Dates, A Couple’s Adventure Guide For Praying, Playing And Staying Together, by Randy Southern. And we are so glad we were asked. This book is excellent. It offers 52 creative dates that will work for any couple on any budget. And the thoughtfulness going into each date is extensive. There is The Music Date, The Water Date, The Arcade Date and The Cemetery Date to name a few. Yeah, you read that right, and we’re not going to explain that one. You’ll have to get the book and discover what it’s about for yourself. But let me say, I love it! (Click on the image above to purchase your own copy, or see NOTE below).

With each date Randy provides a Scripture verse, a quote by Gary Chapman (author of The Five Love Languages), how to set the scene, make it happen, and finish strong. He ends each chapter connecting the date to one of the 5 love languages. It’s a great resource for any couple who wants to grow in the area of romance through regular dates.

(NOTE: At the end of this post we are sharing how you can win a copy of 52 Uncommon Dates for yourself. So don’t miss it!)

We had the privilege to interview Mr. Southern and this is what he had to say:

1.  How long have you been married?

I have a two-part answer. I married Ann Sorensen on May 11, 1991. She died of breast cancer on October 28, 2005. I married Holly Halvorson on July 31, 2010, and we’re still going strong. So my answer is 14 years and 4 years.

2.  How did you come to see the importance of continuing to date your wife?

As a writer, I’m driven by the notion that if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing creatively. That goes especially for building a relationship. Why settle for the same old date-night routine when there are so many options available?

I’m convinced that mystery and surprise are two of the most useful tools on the marital workbench. I’ve found that using them judiciously when planning time with my wife heightens our experience together. I want my wife to be able to depend on me in every situation, but I don’t necessarily want her to be able to predict what I’m going to do next.

3. What are some of your favorite dates in the book?

There’s a reason The-First-Time-for-Everything Date leads off the book. I like the idea of spending an entire evening trying things you’ve never tried before. Good things happen – spiritually and relationally – when we step outside our comfort zones.

I also have a soft spot in my heart for The Photography Date. Not only does it open the door to all kinds of creative interaction, it also gives the couple souvenirs of their time together.

4. What’s the craziest or most meaningful date you and your wife have been on?

Unless going to see people like Elvis Costello, Bob Dylan or John Prine in concert qualifies as “crazy,” I’m afraid most of my dates with Holly have been decidedly sane. But I can address the question of our most meaningful date. First, though, a little background.

Holly and I met and became friends at Taylor University in the late 1980s. After graduation, we went our separate ways and lost contact … until the advent of Facebook. In the interval, I moved from Indiana to the Chicago suburbs; got married; started a family; lost my wife to breast cancer when our kids were 7, 5 and 4; learned how to be a single parent; and did freelance writing when my parenting duties allowed it.

Holly moved a few times; went to grad school; dated someone for 15 years, but never got married; pursued a career – first as a school psychologist and then as a children’s librarian; and built a successful life for herself.

After our Facebook reunion, we started dating long-distance. That turned into an engagement, which necessitated a move from the Chicago burbs back to Indiana. We got married in 2010.

Last year, Holly and I took the kids back to Taylor University, the place where we met. The five of us explored the campus while Holly and I told our college stories. Even though the kids were present, I consider that a date because there was a definite romantic vibe to the day. I consider it especially meaningful because it gave a certain context to our relationship, remembering how we came to know one another. It also gave the kids a sense of our history and strengthened us as a family.

5. You’ve incorporated Gary Chapman’s Five Love Languages in your book. Can you tell us if there are date ideas for all five love languages included in your 52 dates?

I can tell you the book was specially designed to incorporate all five love languages. Each love language is represented by at least ten different date ideas.

6. Finally, what would you say to a couple who have small children and are overwhelmed with the thought of adding one more thing, like regular date nights, to their calendar?

First, I would tell them that their feelings are valid, because parenting small children is an overwhelming task.

Second, I would ask them to think in terms of investment. In today’s economy, budgets – especially those of young couples – are stretched tight. Such a couple could be forgiven for looking at their monthly financial outlay and deciding that they have nothing left over to invest.

Financial planners, though, would call that a shortsighted approach – not to mention a missed opportunity. They would urge the couple to free up some money in their budget to invest – even if it’s just a small amount at first, and even if it means sacrificing in another area. The long-term benefits of investing something every week are just too important to ignore.

The same goes for dating. Like our budgets, our calendars (and energies) are stretched tight. We may have trouble finding the time (and effort) to plan regular date nights. But that, too, is a shortsighted approach. We need to think in terms of investing in our relationship. A little time set aside every week for romance and fun will pay serious dividends later.

I love his idea of “investing in the long-term benefits of the marriage”. How often we get short-sighted and miss what’s of most importance in cultivating a healthy marriage.

If you would like a chance to win a free copy of this excellent book, simply comment on this post with the number of years you’ve been married and whether or not you are currently “investing” in your marriage with regular date nights. We’ll select a winner on Friday, August 8th. Good luck!

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Posted in Christian Marriage, Contests, Creative Dates, Date Night Ideas, Dating Your Spouse, romantic date nights | Tagged , , , , , | 22 Comments

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


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 , , , , ,

Ft. Bragg and Glass Rock Beach


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


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


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.


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


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


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


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


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

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Posted in Christian Marriage

A Dream Come True – Mendocino, CA


Love the old houses.


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


The Mendocino Cafe

Amazing hydrangeas

Amazing hydrangeas



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

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Posted in Christian Marriage

Another Day In The Vineyards (Alexander Valley)


“Still Life” in this tree.




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


We have never seen anything like this old apple tree…


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


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


Vintage fruit stand


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


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.


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


Apple coring table.


Barn wood is believed to be over 800 years old.


Beautiful picnic area under an enormous weeping willow.


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

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Posted in Christian Marriage, Slices, Travel, Vacations | Tagged , , , , , , ,

Magnificent Pacific Coast Highway

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Posted in Slices, Travel, Vacations | Tagged , , , , , ,