Seeing Grace

Metro

Yesterday at our church, Chris Jessee preached an inspiring message on a topic dear to our hearts in regards to marriage. He talked about our need to see grace in all of our relationships–those in the church, in our home and especially in our culture.

Sadly, there isn’t a lot of grace going around…

Churches split because of critical judgments and unmet expectations; families disintegrate over unforgiven offenses allowing bitterness to take up residence where love once dwelled; and our culture is confronted more often than not with a church that shakes a fist at their sin casting them to hell with their animosity.

It makes me hang my head in shame. Why? Because I too, have taken part in all three situations. I have looked at others in the church with critical thoughts. I have struggled in my heart to forgive my husband completely from the heart; and I have far-too-often been angry with our culture rather than loving them as Christ did with compassion.

Chris brought up another tendency we all deal with from time to time and that is our preferences. We take something that is a non-essential and make it essential in our eyes. A few examples:

  • How our children date or if they date at all!
  • Whether its permissible to drink alcohol in moderation or abstain all together.
  • Voting Democratic, Republican, Independent or not voting at all.
  • Relating to other races–making much of the differences or appreciating them for who they are.
  • Those who are pierced, tattooed, or dress unlike me.

You get the idea. What ways have you allowed your preferences to rule and reign in your home? How have they caused you to look at your spouse with disdain when they aren’t met? Or when it doesn’t look like you wanted it to look?

I’m guilty of this very thing. I like my life and my home to go according to plan.

But you know what? God is more interested in helping me break free from this bondage and to embrace a freedom than only grace can provide. Imagine no longer caring if your spouse picks up their dirty laundry, offering instead to pick it up yourself, grateful to have a spouse who makes a mess? Or what if the next time your spouse fails to do something you asked them to do you meet them with compassion, instead of anger and condemnation?

Jesus had every right to get exasperated with His disciples. They continually missed the grace and compassion Jesus had for the crowds. But He not only had compassion on the crowds, but also on His disciples. He knew their sanctification would take a lifetime and so will ours. He is patient, and He is faithful to complete the work He’s begun in us. This is the very best of news!

Let’s pause on this Monday and ask God to show us the ways He wants us to SEE GRACE and EXTEND GRACE instead of commanding our preferences on those we are called to love. 

Posted in Biblical Encouragement, Christian Marriage, Growing Strong Marriages, The Gospel & Marriage | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

I Saw It In Her Eyes

Week2-Needing-a-threshold-change-FancyFreeMe

Tonight we got a FaceTime call from our daughter-in-love in Tennessee. They are about to embark on a new chapter in their family–they’re moving in March from a townhouse to a house with two more bedrooms and a fenced in backyard. It is a welcome change for our son and his wife. But to our six-year-old granddaughter there is much sadness.

I am well aware of that feeling–when God is requiring you to let go of a place you have enjoyed to embrace something that is new and unknown. She had tears in her eyes knowing that tomorrow they would go to see this new place, and she wasn’t happy. She wasn’t ready to let go of the place she has called home for two years.

I understood the fear that was so evident in her eyes. They made my own heart ache for her. I wanted to tell her it would be okay, that there would be new memories made in her new home; yet to her all she could see was the place of which she was being forced to let go. Instead of saying “cheer up little one,” I took another approach…

“Willow, will you promise me something?” I asked.

“What?” her timid voice whispered.

“Tomorrow when you go to see your new home, will you take a picture of your bedroom and send it to me? I want to see the part that is yours!”

I was happy to see her smile and accept my request. Tomorrow will be a big day. She will begin the process of change I have experienced over and over in my 56 years. But for her this in one of the first changes she is old enough to dread. I get that. And I wanted her to know I did.

I realize that this is also one of the blessings of marriage–having someone who gets you; someone who knows when you’re facing a struggle that may seem insignificant to others, but to you it seems unbearable. Having someone to care enough to ask you to capture the change with a fresh snapshot might be all you need to push through from the past to the future.

What changes have you and your spouse been forced to embrace? How have you helped each other through the threshold of those doorways to change? Take some time to thank them for being there for you. It is a gift not to be ignored.

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

Trigger Words Of Grace (Vintage Post)

Vintage Post

I haven’t reached back into our archives to find a post worth re-posting in a while. So with our post Wednesday about Anger, I thought the following on Trigger Words would be a good follow-up.

This was first published on June 21, 2011

Mark Twain said the difference between the right word and the almost right word is “the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”

I suppose the reverse of this could be said as well – using the wrong words when you know it’s the wrong time to use them can be as destructive as a lightning bolt.  I know.  I witnessed first hand the effects of my words.  I call them trigger words!

Case in point:

We were driving down the road, and we got to talking about some issues weighing heavily on me causing me to feel sad.  In fact, I was confessing to Tom how I felt like crying.  He made a suggestion he thought would help, but instead of seeing his honest attempt to help me, I reacted.  I completely shut him down, and silence ensued.

I hate moments like these.  As soon as the words left my mouth the temperature in the car became icy cold.  I shivered and struggled, but certainly didn’t repent.  I dug my heels in wanting to stay in this place for a while.  Why?  I honestly don’t know.  It wasn’t comfortable – it was miserable!  But I stayed in this mood until I awoke the next morning.  Or should I say the Lord woke me and began prodding my conscience.

It worked.

At 5:15a I was up and dealing with my heart.  By 7a I had made Tom his coffee, taken it to our room and apologized for the pain and distance my words had caused.  He received my words this time for they were the “right words.” 

You’ve heard it said, Them’s Fightin Words!

Yet we are oftentimes quick to draw them out of our holster when needed.  We point and shoot with the expertise of a gunslinger.

FreeStockPhotos.biz

But why?

What is the point?

Who wins?  No one does – not in a marriage.  As partners for life we’re on the same team.  Shooting off fightin’ words only kills the life of our relationship.  So why do we do it?  Because it’s easier to let ’em fly, than it is to restrain ourselves from grabbing the gun in the first place.  It takes great restraint to say “no” to the sudden impulse of striking back.

It is helpful to remember what Christ has done for us.  He used great restraint allowing the Roman government to not only cast a guilty verdict on his guiltless life, but He allowed them to take it even farther – He let them crucify Him!  He had the power to call down lightning from Heaven and put a rightful end to this unrighteous death sentence.  But He didn’t.  Why?  He was compelled by love.  Love for His Father and love for us.

FreeStockPhotos.biz

Amazing.

Considering this Truth is what helped me walk into our room and surrender my sinful heart not only to Tom, but to Christ.  These are the two men who are most devoted to me and allow me to make huge messes with my fightin words, but welcome me back time and time again.  It was Christ’s love that compelled me to repent, and Tom’s love that accepted my repentance.

This is kindness.  This is mercy.  The trigger words of grace.

How have you used trigger words in your marriage?  Are they fightin’ words or are they the words of grace? 

“When words are many, transgression is not lacking, 

but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.” – Proverbs 10:9

Posted in communication, Conflict, Forgiveness, Growing Strong Marriages | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Anger Crouching At The Door

PC: PlayBuzz

PC: PlayBuzz

Anger. It crouches at the door of marriage and seeks a way to attack.

If we’re not aware of its intent, we could be assaulted without knowing what hit us until the damage has been done.

It’s claws come in the form of words with accusations and assumptions. With them it rips apart trust and intimacy. One swipe can cause a deadly blow or cause enough pain to bring lasting damage to the relationship.

In his book, Relationships: A Mess Worth Making, Tim Lane says,

“…Our words always have direction. They are going either toward life or toward death. The most destructive thing words could produce is death, so the phrase “words kill” is intended to summarize all the angry, hurtful, slanderous, selfish, bitter, divisive, and demeaning forms of talk. The phrase “words give life” summarizes all the encouraging, comforting, peaceful, up-building, grateful, unifying, and loving forms of communication. Because our words have power and direction, they always produce some kind of harvest. It will be a life harvest of comfort, encouragement, hope, insight, unity and joy, or a death harvest of fear, discouragement, falsehood, division and sadness. Words can open up the mysteries of the universe for someone. Words can crush a person’s spirit, excite, anger or stimulate love. Words have power.

As you can see – words spoken in anger are a deadly force if left unchecked.

“What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are yat war within you? 2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask zwrongly, to spend it on your passions.” James 4 ESV

If you find yourself angry at your spouse you have work to do. Ask yourself these questions to help determine if your anger is justified or not:

  • What is it that I want but I’m not getting?
  • Is it something my spouse promised in our wedding vows, like faithfulness, honesty or to be trustworthy?
  • Is it an inconvenience or a disagreement on how to take care of something particular to both of you?
  • Is it because of a circumstance outside of your marriage like your job, school or in-law relationships?

When our spouse fails us in some way our default is often to become angry. If they failed to do something they were asked to do, know that anger is not going to fix it. It will only muddy the waters of communication making it hard to remember what cause the fight in the first place.

If it is due to sins your spouse has committed e.g. unfaithfulness, lying or neglect, anger is understandable. However, giving full vent to it will not do a thing to help your marriage through the hardship. It helps to remember how Christ has treated us when we were yet sinners; He didn’t come to condemn but to save. That is the purpose of the marriage partnership–learning how to treat our spouse in this same way. It’s easy to write these words, but not easy to do. It will require the help that only God can provide.

You will also need to talk long and hard about the situation maybe even inviting others in to help. Full disclosure is necessary from the spouse who did the damage. Questions need to be answered and complete honesty is a requirement if trust is to be rebuilt.

If your anger is because of the influence others are having on your spouse e.g. in-laws, employers or close friends, you need to talk about your concerns and your spouse needs to hear you. If this type of communication seems impossible, again, you may need to invite others in to help your concerns be heard. There should be no other relationship more important or influential to you than your spouse.

Note to Wives: If you are telling your girlfriends things that you haven’t told your husband, you have crossed the line. Our husbands should be the first one we go to for help. If you are not comfortable telling your husband everything or you don’t feel he cares, you have more work to do in your marriage than just dealing with anger.

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

(James 1:19-21 ESV)

In what ways have your words helped or hindered your marriage?

Posted in Christian Marriage, communication, Conflict, Difficulty, Growing Strong Marriages, Troubled Marriage | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

#MCM – Man Crush Mondays

PC: Moody Radio

PC: Moody Radio

Every Monday social media is hit with photos of ladies showing off the man with whom they have a crush. It got me thinking about how much I still have a crush on the man I said “Yes” to 37 years ago. :-) Wouldn’t it be great if we could join the celebration by adding the numbers of years we’ve been married to our #MCM photos?

I invite you to join our FB page, add a photo of your husband along with the number of years you’ve been married, then, share that post on your own FB page.  It’s a tangible way to tell the world how God has blessed you with the Man you call husband.

Ready? Let’s #makemuchofmarriage365 this #MCM.

Have a great week with your man crush! :-) <3 :-)

Enjoy the way this woman is treated after 50 years with her man…

Posted in Christian Marriage, Romance in Marriage, romancing your husband, Romantic Ideas, Showing Honor | Tagged | 3 Comments

Happy Hour

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It’s time to share with you the posts from other marriage bloggers that we believe are worth your while. Check them out this weekend and tell them we sent you!

Have a great weekend!

Calm.Healthy.Sexy

  • Five Ways To Feel Sexier This Year<<I love this post because it addresses a very important topic for women AND Gaye includes links to other excellent marriage bloggers that we respect. Your husband will thank you for taking time to work on this area of your marriage.

Hot, Holy and Humorous

The Generous Wife

  • Have I Made Myself Clear?<<I absolutely love this post! Lori provides a challenge that may just change you marriage forever. Are you willing to try?

The XY Code

  • Holy Sex<<Do the two of these words together make you uncomfortable? Paul shares his thoughts on why they shouldn’t. We agree!

To Love, Honor, And Vacuum

  • Vaginismus: 5 Things I Wish I Had Known Before My Wedding<<If you are struggling with this in your life–please, please read this post. It may provide much needed help you haven’t found. If you are engaged this post is mandatory!! Big thanks to Sheila for making this topic approachable.

 

Posted in Blog Love, Christian Marriage, Happy Hour | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Romantic Friday – Apple Of My Pie

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Did you know that tomorrow is a holiday? It’s National Pie Day, the day when we celebrate this all-American creation.

What’s your favorite pie? What’s your spouse’s favorite?

Pies have always been a special part of our family’s traditions. When we first got married, Tom worked in retail and worked many nights until closing. I was left at home with nothing to do.

We lived in a retirement condo community and one of the older ladies knew I was alone, so she offered to teach me all she knew about baking. I was thrilled for the company and to learn how to bake bread, pies and rolls.

That was 37 years ago and I’m still enjoying the fruit of her kindness in my life. (pun intended). Our birthday celebrations usually include pies, not cakes and that is by our children’s choice. Apple seems to be the pie of choice…

pie

Every year the American Pie Council holds their National Pie Contest here in Central Florida. I entered five of my pie recipes a few years ago, and although I didn’t place, we sure enjoyed having 5 pies to enjoy the following week. :-) You can check out the entry form by clicking the link above.

Of course, this got me thinking about an idea for a romantic date to enjoy at home.

First, you’ll have to go to a local restaurant or bakery that serves a variety of pies by the slice. Buy several different kinds.

Next, text your spouse to tell them you have a sweet surprise for them tonight after dinner.

When the kids are in bed, blindfold your spouse telling them you want to test their tasting skills. Feed them one bite of each pie and see if they can guess what kind it is. Assign prizes for guessing correctly according to what your spouse would love. Hint: Make it worth their effort!

If you want, include a game of Trivial Pursuit where you each have to try and fill your pie for the win.

The most important thing is to have fun together.

 

 

Posted in Christian Marriage, Creative Dates, Date Night Ideas, Dating Your Spouse, Fun Dates, romancing your spouse, romantic date nights, Romantic Ideas, Unique Dates | Tagged , , ,

A Night I’ll Never Forget…

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It was a night I had anticipated for years.  

I had missed my first chance to see them because we were out of town for their inaugural concert at Orlando’s brand new Amway Center. The Eagles were coming to town for a second time, and.I.couldn’t.wait!

Tom bought us tickets as well as one for our daughter. He said he wanted to treat the two ladies in his life. :-) The night didn’t disappoint–it was full of great music, tight harmonies and stunning lighting effects. I was taken back to my high school days with my favorite–Best Of My Love. And I absolutely loved the vocals of Take It To The Limit.

Last night as we were enjoying dinner with Tom’s Mom and Pops, when I got the sad news that the end of the Eagles era had come to an abrupt end–Glenn Frey, the Eagles lead singer and co-founder had died. What I didn’t know was his lifelong battle with a weakened immune system, intestinal problems and most recently pneumonia. He is survived by his wife and three children, ages 24 – 13. It was a sad day.

It has made me realize all the more to appreciate the time we’ve been given.

Glenn didn’t know that he would never make it to another concert. His last performance was in July when he was seemingly strong and healthy. But it was his last nonetheless.

Frey will be remembered for his classic songs: Take It Easy, Tequila Sunrise and Hotel California to name a few. He was used to the spotlight, but sadly that light has been extinguished forever for this talented musician from Detroit. Yet his music will live on…

I close with a video from my senior year in high school – 1977, titled Best Of My Love. It is a sad song about the end of a relationship. Don Henley sings that he gave the best of his love and it still wasn’t enough to keep his relationship from “slipping away”. This is why we are passionate about helping marriages – we hate seeing life-long covenants “fall apart at the seams” because “you see it your way and I see it mine.” There has to be a way to fix what’s been broken, and we know of that way–it’s at the foot of the Cross. Grace heals decaying relationships, and it begins by bringing us back into relationship with the Father. If Christ can do that, then know that there is hope for your marriage.

Our hearts and prayers go out to his wife and children whose lives will  never be the same. May this be a reminder that our days are numbered on this earth. Make the most of every opportunity you have to love, bless and honor your spouse, and make sure to seek the One who holds the keys to eternity–Jesus Christ. It’s for Him and His glory alone that we live and love.

 

Posted in Christian Marriage, Death and Grieving, Growing Strong Marriages, Music, Seasons of Life | Tagged , ,

Understanding When You Don’t Understand

Understanding

The Bible commands husbands in 1 Peter 3:7

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

What does it mean to live with your wife in an understanding way? What does it mean for a wife to live with her husband in an understanding way?

Tom and I are doing a marriage devotional together provided by the YouVersion app on our phones. It’s a 14 day reading plan on marriage, and today’s was on this very topic. The author presented a very provoking thought:

The dictionary traditionally defines understanding as ‘the faculty of the human mind by which it…comprehends the ideas which others express and intend to communicate.’ Yet in the Bible, understanding is not just a transfer of information, but empathy for the other person.

Empathy. That requires you to put yourself in your spouse’s shoes and consider their trouble as if you were them! How many of us really do that? I think I’m more prone to try and convince Tom to see it my way and then he wouldn’t be struggling, at least that’s what my pride would have me believe. <sigh>

Husbands are the ones commanded specifically to do this with their wives, and maybe it’s because men typically don’t get women. Women don’t think like men, and we process our information in a completely different way than they do. But just because we’re different doesn’t mean one is right and the other is wrong. There are generally more ways than one to fix a problem. Even in math, which I don’t like I prefer words, there is more than one way to get the correct answer.

Maybe what it boils down to is a matter of preference?

To understand each other completely we need to be willing to defer our preferences to how our spouse prefers to process something. And then avoid the temptation to mock them or tease them for how they do it. What is of primary importance is to use the obstacles life brings us to learn and grow in our complete understanding of the other.

I love watching couples who have been married for decades for this very reason; they have learned through much practice how their spouse processes things, and they know how to read what they’re thinking before they speak a word. What a blessing it must be to reach that stage of life where you not only love your spouse completely, but your understanding of them reaches beyond what is visible.

Imagine how we will be able to pray for one another in that season? Let’s purpose to do all we can now to grow in our understanding of each another so our prayers will be all the more effective as we intercede on their behalf.

Posted in Christian Marriage, Difficulty, Encouraging Your Spouse, Growing Strong Marriages, Prayer, Spiritual Intimacy | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Happy Hour

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It’s the time of the week when we wind down from all the activities and responsibilities that define us and take time for us. We love providing you with our top posts of the week from other bloggers–those we think are special enough for you to read when you have time.  Have a great weekend!

Cheers…

Darby Dugger

  • Self-Control<<A topic not usually talked about in this way. “I have falsely believed that it is better to shut down than to scream, but both choices allow my emotions to determine my behavior. The truth is, I’m equally out of control whether I’m silently fuming or yelling.” – Darby

Gary Thomas

  • He Lies<<A blog by one of our favorite marriage authors. This post goes right along with the rest of those in this post. “When you hear a lie and don’t confront it, it becomes your “truth,” even though it’s not true. Which means we have to be constant and expert lie detectors. ” – Gary

Intimacy In Marriage

Messy Marriage

  • The Allure of the Illegitimate in Marriage<<Beth has excellent advice for the spouse who suspects their spouse is being unfaithful as well as advice for the spouse caught up in this death-trap. “God wired us to live our lives according to His law and Word, and when we go against that, we experience nothing short of disaster.” – Beth

The Forgiven Wife

  • Join Me in a Journey of 9 Thoughts (a new book by Sheila Gregoire)<<“In order to make real change in my marriage, I had to be intentional about changing my thoughts.” – Chris
Posted in Blog Love, Christian Marriage, Happy Hour | Tagged

Romantic Friday: Start A Dinner Club

logodatabase.net

logodatabase.net

Tom and I love to cook. And since we’re empty nesters, we can focus on cooking foods we love and experiment with those we’ve never tried.

For years we had a dinner club of like-minded couples who loved to cook. It was such a fun time in our marriage. We called it the Passport Dinner Club where each couple was given a “passport” to document the many countries we “visited” throughout the year.

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We learned we loved some foods of different cultures, and we discovered others that weren’t worth visiting again.

One of my favorite nights we were hosting. We moved all of our living room furniture out of the way and set up a folding table without opening the legs. We set it on blocks to make it only a couple of feet off the floor. Pillows were thrown around the table for seating. I hung paper lanterns from our ceiling over the table decorated from supplies bought at Party City. The country was Japan, the favorite food was Sushi, but the laughter and the conversation was what made the night. I’ll never forget us trying to eat with chopsticks–it was hilarious.

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Establishing a dinner club doesn’t have to be difficult.

  1. Find three or four couples with whom you want to spend more time.
  2. Decide whether you’ll meet monthly or quarterly.
  3. Rotate from house to house having the hosting couple choose what the theme of the dinner will be.
  4. The hosting couple can either allow each couple to choose what authentic dish they’ll bring to the dinner, or they can select all the recipes and give assignments.
  5. Take lots of pictures. You can even set up a private blog to remember your experience together.

Our Dinner Club lasted over 5 years, and it was wonderful while it lasted. We made memories over the dinner table that will last a lifetime. We have a saying on the wall of our Dining Room that reads,

“The fondest memories are made while gathered around the table.”

As a resource that is greatly inspiring me in regard to gathering around the table with friends, I’m reading and loving this book by Shauna Niequist titled, Bread and Wine. She says in her introduction…

What’s becoming clearer and clearer to me is that the most sacred moments, the ones in which I feel God’s presence most profoundly, when I feel the goodness of the world most arrestingly, take place at the table. The particular alchemy of celebration and food, of connecting people and serving what I’ve made with my own hands, comes together as more than the sum of their parts. I love the sounds and smells and textures of life at the table, hands passing bowls and forks clinking against plates and bread being torn and the rhythm and energy of feeding and being fed.

Have you ever had a Dinner Club? It doesn’t have to revolve around cooking, if this isn’t your style.

You could meet at a restaurant or have food brought in from pizza to Chinese take-out. The point is to make relationships while gathered together sharing a meal from house to house. Marriages thrive when friendships abound. This is fellowship. This is life and it is good!

Bon Appetit!

Posted in Christian Marriage, Date Night Ideas, Dinner Dates, Growing Strong Marriages | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

To Dump Or Not To Dump–How To Know The Difference

 

Photo Credit: Traveling With Sue

 
I remember years ago when Tom and I were looking to move from our first home to one that would accommodate our growing family, we found a neighborhood near a lake that we really liked. The homes were brand new and the idea of being able to pick carpet color, tile and paint was a real draw for me. However, hidden nearby was something that would be a deal breaker for us; Just around the corner from this home was a large mound of green earth that to the passerby looked like a hill, but to those who were unfortunate to live there they knew it was made up of buried garbage. 

If you drove by on a cloudy day the stench hung in the air like a bad dream. Even though the area looked nice what was hidden beneath the surface made the living conditions unbearable.

Marriage can be like this hill; everything looks great on the outside, but underneath where no one sees you’ve been dumped on over and over. Living with your spouse in this way really stinks (pun intended). This is not what God intended for marriage.

Our tongues get us in a lot of trouble when we don’t keep proper boundaries on what’s good and profitable speech. Some would argue that they’re just being “totally honest” with their spouse about something regarding them, their marriage or other relationships. But know this–just because you’re married you don’t have permission to dump on them everything you’re thinking.  Especially when your thoughts are critical in nature.

“How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness.” – James 3:5-6
ESV

A few nights ago I could tell that something was bothering Tom, so I asked him what he was thinking. He was reluctant to share, but at my persistence he dumped. I found out there was a lot hidden under his silence, like that buried garbage. It helped me to know how to pray for him, and it helped him to get his thoughts out in the open. It was the right time to dump because I wanted to help and I was ready to listen.

I can think of another time when I was really upset about something. Without being asked I poured out my garbage on Tom. He had no way of knowing what was buried in my heart–kind of like driving by and noticing a stench. This was the wrong time to dump. 

“There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” – Proverbs 12:18 ESV

Dumping in marriage is inevitable, how it’s done is crucial to the health and living conditions of the marriage. Seek the right time and place to share openly about your troublesome thoughts and then allow the Lord to deal with your heart.

Sadly, the people who lived in that neighborhood got used to the stench. May we be committed to deal with issues in our marriage before the garbage piles up. Your family and neighbors will thank you and most importantly–so will your spouse!

Posted in Christian Marriage

Meet Isaac And Rebekah

freebibleimages.org

freebibleimages.org

Tom and I are reading through the Bible this year and are on the part in Genesis of the story about Isaac and Rebekah. I absolutely love this story; it wreaks of faith in God, trust in His provision and enjoyment of the gift.

First, in regard to faith in God

Isaac was a child of promise. Born to his father and mother very late in life, he was born for something bigger than he could have ever dreamed. His dad had great faith that what God had spoken He would do. Isaac had witnessed first hand how God provided a sacrifice in his place. And now it was time for God to lead him into the future He had prepared for Him. Isaac was the main character, but He hadn’t written the script. He knew in his heart that God was the author of his story. So when his dad told his servant to go and find a wife for his son among his people back home, Isaac was full of faith that it would happen just as his dad had said.

(Step into today for a minute and think about this. You know that someone who works for your dad is going across country to find you a wife, sight unseen. What?! That seems irresponsible, presumptuous, even foolish to some degree, doesn’t it? Don’t you have to go out for awhile to see if you’re compatible, if you like the same things, if your families gel. But not here. Those times were so different from ours, but one thing is the same and always will be. Marriage requires a step of faith that God has led you both to a life-long companion who will help you accomplish His plan for your lives. It can be scary. I know I had a deep awareness that my life was about to change forever, and I had faith that it would be good.)

Secondly, Isaac trusted that God would provide

We aren’t told how long Abraham’s servant was gone, but it must have been awhile. Life on the ranch had continued as normal with Isaac just returning from a nearby village. He had been waiting and waiting to see his dad’s entourage returning on the horizon. It was sunset and he had taken a walk to talk with the Lord. Can you imagine that conversation? It could be that he struggled to believe that his dad’s servant would return with a wife for him. We aren’t told, but Isaac was human. He struggled in the same way we do when we’re told to wait.

(How well do you wait upon the Lord? Especially when what you’re waiting for is a deep desire of your heart? Honestly, it’s difficult to have trust that God will provide. When I was younger I struggled with this more, in the same way I would have expected Isaac to struggle. However, the Bible doesn’t elude in any way that Isaac struggled with the waiting. After all, he didn’t have the benefit of connecting with relatives across long distances. There was no internet, no phone and no way to get there except for a long, hard trip on the back of a camel. Isaac had no other choice but to trust God to provide His heart’s desire. Not to mention it was God who had promised to make a great nation out of his father’s offspring, right?)

Thirdly, when Isaac finally saw on the horizon what his heart had longed for, he was full of expectation and excitement

This is the part of Scripture I can see playing out vividly on the big screen in slow motion. :-) Rebekah sees Isaac at a distance and inquires who he is. When she discovers it is the man she will soon call her husband, she moves toward her future with humility, faith and expectancy. I imagine Isaac may have dropped everything as he walked and then ran towards her, anxious to finally meet God’s provision for him.

There was no planning, no courting period, not even a wedding. Just a confident trust that God had secured a life-long partner for Isaac and a means for a future family of heirs. And he enjoyed what he had been given. Isaac took Rebekah into his mother’s tent (who had recently died) and there they consummated their marriage.

Fast-forward to Genesis 26 where Isaac and Rebekah were in the midst of a great famine. They had started a family – twin boys – and they needed to move to a city to survive. This is where it’s evident that Isaac greatly enjoyed the gift God had given him in Rebekah:

So Isaac settled in Gerar. When the men of the place asked him about his wife, he said, “She is my sister,” for he feared to say, “My wife,” thinking, “lest the men of the place should kill me because of Rebekah,” because she was attractive in appearance. When he had been there a long time, Abimelech king of the Philistines looked out of a window and saw Isaac laughing with Rebekah his wife.

I love this! Especially in a culture where women are not valued. Here is Isaac not only happy, but laughing with his wife.

  • When was the last time you considered your own story–how you came together as husband and wife?
  • When was the last time you laughed out loud together, just the two of you? So much so that when others saw you they knew you had a special relationship?

We have all been through seasons requiring great faith in God, trust in His provision and best of all, the chance to enjoy the gift of marriage. We encourage you to spend some time together recounting God’s faithfulness in your marriage, His provision for your family and thank Him specifically for all He has done together in prayer.

Posted in Biblical Encouragement, Christian Marriage, Love Stories, Testimonies, Thankfulness | Tagged , | 6 Comments

Happy Hour

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It’s the time of the week when we share with you the amazing posts of other marriage blogs we frequent and respect. Take some time this weekend to relax and refresh you marriage.

Darby Dugger – Offering Wives Authenticity Rather Than Advice                     (love her by-line)

  • Pray-Day Thursday – Each Thursday she offers a prayer for wives to pray for their husbands. We’ve just discovered Darby and love her heart to bless her man in such a practical, yet purposeful way.
  • Fasting And Marriage – Have you ever held your obedience to the Lord hostage waiting for your husband to go first? Darby brings up this tendency with a very honest post.

Encourage Your Spouse

Hot, Holy and Humorous

  • Star Wars And Fighting For Your Marriage – Leave it to J to find an analogy in the new Star Wars movie – The Force Awakens. And I might add, she does a brilliant job. If you’ve seen the movie, click and read. If you haven’t, you may want to wait as there are spoiler alerts.

Intimacy In Marriage

  • Julie and her friend are offering their book–Pursuit of Passion–at a 25% discount through tomorrow. Invest in your sexual health in 2016 by buying this book. Your marriage will thank you!
  • Sex and Marriage: I Didn’t Know What I Didn’t Know – Julie shares honestly the why behind her blog on Sex in marriage. Her testimony will surprise you and draw you to listen to what she has learned the hard way. This is a MUST read for anyone struggling with sexual intimacy in your marriage!

Journey To Surrender

  • Why You Need To Keep (Or Start) Dating In 2016 – Scott is starting a series on Dating based on what he’s discovered through a survey he offered his readers about their dating habits. I’m really looking forward to this series, and I hope you will too.

Marriage Missions International

  • We Pray Ah-Ha Moments For You – Have you ever experienced an ah-ha moment? Read what Cindy and Steve share and you may find out the answer. And take some time to look around. They’ve updated their website to make it more user-friendly as well as mobile-friendly. I think they’ve succeeded beautifully! And while you’re there, sign up for their weekly newsletter. It arrives every Saturday and is full of wisdom to help your marriage grow.

One Flesh Marriage

The Generous Husband

  • Fight Feelings With Facts – I love, love, love this post. Paul gives us a humorous example of how to fight with yourself when you’re in conflict with your spouse.
Posted in Blog Love, Christian Marriage, Happy Hour | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Intentional Tourist – Finding Romance In Your Own Backyard

Happy tourist sightseeing city with map from The Huffington Post

Happy tourist sightseeing city with map from The Huffington Post

Tourist. Most of us have been one from time to time. The definition of a tourist is:

a person who is traveling or visiting a place for pleasure.

Have you ever considered becoming a tourist in your own city? Looking for different things to do that you’ve never done together or at all?

We live in Orlando–the city all families plan to visit at one time or another. But living here I can testify that we tend to avoid the places where tourists go for one main reason–it’s full of tourists! But there are times of the year when the tourists aren’t many. Only those of us who live here know when those times are, which is to our advantage when planning a romantic tourist destination.

The first time I had this idea was on our 25th wedding anniversary. I wanted to give Tom something special without him knowing, but we share our bank account. It would be impossible to do something really big without him having a clue. As a result I came up with an idea that I thought was perfect–25 romantic days over the next year. It sounded doable and fun–so I bought a stuffed animal with a heart-shaped pouch attached and named him “Tommy Bear“. I told Tom that whenever Tommy Bear showed up he would know that day would be romantic in some way.

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Tommy Bear was during the course of that year…

  • shipped to his office UPS special delivery.
  • set on the parts shelf at his work and told there was a problem with inventory and to go check it out.
  • placed in his car to find when he got off work.
  • placed where he would see him when he awoke and went to brush his teeth.
  • put in the cabinet where our coffee mugs are stored.

As you can see Tommy Bear provided a fun way to announce a romantic day to Tom. What I didn’t anticipate was the fact that 25 dates over a years time equals one date every other week! What was I thinking?! Honestly, 25 didn’t sound like that big of a deal until I realized this fact. I know–get a clue, Debi! But it was too late. I had already given him the gift. So….

I began scouring the internet to find things to do in Orlando that were fun and free. And to my surprise I discovered a plethora of things I had no idea were happening here in our backyard. That year I realized what an amazing place Orlando is for romance 365 days a year.

So I ask you…

What if you were to plan a date (or several for that matter) where you’re a tourist in your own town? Pretend you’re coming to your city for the first time and do what tourists do–look up your Chamber of Commerce website and see what your city has to offer for those who are coming for pleasure. You might discover some new places you never knew existed, some events you had no idea were happening, or some familiar places seen in a new light. Give it a try–you might discover you enjoy being an intentional tourist.

NOTE: If you’re planning to visit The City Beautiful – Orlando, anytime soon, we’ve made a Romantic Orlando Guide for your convenience. It’s found in the tabs at the top of this page. :-)

Posted in Christian Marriage, Date Night Ideas, Dating Your Spouse, Fun Dates | Tagged , , ,

20 Practical Romantic Resolutions For The Unromantic Husband

  
Here we are at the start of 2016 and everyone either embraces resolutions or runs from them as fast as they can. I get that. It seems resolutions set us up to fail, especially when what we set out to do is out of our reach, like losing 100 lbs. when we struggle to say no to our favorite treat. Or working out everyday when we haven’t been to the gym once in years.

Resolutions require something before they can succeed and that is a heart that wants to change and a mind willing to join forces to help the heart accomplish what it desires.

Romance is no different. To provide resolutions on romancing your spouse when you have neglected romantic gestures is simply unrealistic. But what if you desire it but your husband isn’t interested?  There is help for you to change.

We suggest you start with small acts of kindnesses. 

If your husband resists the idea of romance or rolls his eyes thinking it’s corny, we’re pretty sure he’ll enjoy the special attention this challenge will provide.

Below are 20 Romantic Ideas. Do one each week for five months and see if it doesn’t change the climate of your marriage and home.

  1. Purpose to only encourage your husband and take your complaints to God in prayer. 
  2. Send your husband an encouraging or funny card “just because” to his work address.
  3. Plan time for him to go do something he has been wanting to do. Make all the arrangements and share it with him a few days before so he can anticipate it.
  4. Do one thing around the house for a week. Make it something he dreads doing. 
  5. Anticipate his appetite and prepare a treat for him without him asking.
  6. Pay attention to what your husband says listening for things he wants or needs. Then do what you can to meet it.
  7. Spend time doing something your husband enjoys.
  8. Be quick to notice his strengths and express your gratitude for them.
  9. Compliment him in public – either in front of friends or your children. Make sure it’s sincere.
  10. Scratch his back or rub his shoulders while watching TV.
  11. Let him see you naked without him asking. Better yet flash him when he least expects it. 😊
  12. Organize his closet.
  13. Have his car detailed.
  14. Have lunch from a favorite place delivered to his work.
  15. Send him a text before he leaves work telling him to meet you for a drink somewhere on his commute home.
  16. Do something to make him smile–this one will vary, but you should know your husband well enough on this one.
  17. Find a movie on TV that he’s been wanting to see and record it for him. Make a special snack and set him up for a night at the movies.
  18. Purpose to give him eye-contact when he is talking to you for an entire week.
  19. Ask him what one thing that you do is of most importance to him the purpose to make sure it is done consistently.
  20. Keep his laundry clean and organized.
Posted in Christian Marriage, Date Night Ideas, Romance in Marriage, romancing your husband | 3 Comments

Red Light – Green Light

Photo Credit: mycupoverflows-johnson.blogspot.com

Photo Credit: mycupoverflows-johnson.blogspot.com

Do you remember this game as a child? It was fun to try and run as fast and far as you could before the person playing the “light” turned around yelling, “RED LIGHT!” If they saw you moving you had to go back to the starting line. If you were able to make it to the light unseen, you won the game.

We love green lights, but red lights are usually an inconvenience at best and an irritant at worst.

Just this morning on our way to church, Tom and I hit every single traffic light as it was turning red. “Ugh” was our response. “Why are we getting every light red?”

Of course there was no answer to our frustration. Just a requirement to sit and wait, when all we wanted to do was move forward to our plans–our goals–our church! After all where we were heading was good, so why the delay?

I’m sure you have at some point experienced a similar scenario. It is not in our nature to enjoy delays or red lights for that matter. And when God is the one sending the red light it can be even more difficult to accept.

A little over two years ago, the Lord had us back off from posting daily on our blog. I wasn’t sure why He was giving us a red light, but we knew we had to follow His lead. Now, looking back we can see exactly why this was good for us. We have been in an unusual season of change and challenges, and by God’s grace this season is drawing to a close. At least from our perspective. Life has settled into more of a routine, and we believe God has given us a green light to begin focusing more on The Romantic Vineyard and we couldn’t be more excited!

I love connecting the dots of God’s faithfulness…

and looking back over the past two years I can see His faithfulness crystal clear. There were many reasons we needed to pull back from regular postings…

  • Our son was about to move to TN, but we didn’t know it yet. This would be a huge emotional challenge for me, as all of our grandchildren would no longer call Florida home. Something I would have never anticipated or asked for. God in His kindness gave me the space He knew I would need.
  • I was just beginning to host ladies retreats at our newly purchased cabin in Banner Elk, NC. Since then I have hosted 6 with another 3 planned this year. God has used my time to organize and plan these retreats with face-to-face ministry with other women, something I knew I was missing in my life. I have loved seeing God’s plan unfold in these women’s lives.
  • Tom had a year of physical challenges that tested my trust and faith in God. I didn’t realize how much I would be tempted to fear not knowing what we were facing. But God has proven His faithfulness to me through all of it, and Tom is doing well I’m so happy to report!
  • Tom started a new job which required adjustments in our life. It was so helpful for me (and him) to give him my full attention.
  • Finally, we’ve started a marriage ministry at our church this past year, which has been a dream come true for us.

When I wrote the post about Perpetuate Or Percolate I had no idea what was coming, but God did. And I am filled with gratefulness for the way He cared for us with promptings to let go of one thing to embrace something new. He is faithful!

Thank you for staying with us through the red light. Your encouragements and comments have meant more to us than you know.

Would you take a moment and let us know what you enjoy most about The Romantic Vineyard? What topics would be helpful for us to address? We’re working with a clean slate, and appreciate your input.

We pray your marriage experiences a Happy New Year, but more importantly a New Year of following God whether it’s a red light or a…

GREEN LIGHT…

Tom and Debi

P.S. We’ve started a year-long challenge on our Instagram feed to post one picture a day to make much of marriage. We’re using the hashtag #muchofmarriage365 and would love for you to follow along with us. Just click the feed link above then click “follow us”. Thank so much!

Posted in Christian Marriage, Growing Strong Marriages, Thankfulness | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

Breaking The Myth – Soul Mates

  
2015 will soon be a memory, and 2016 will roll in like a freight train ready to unload on us all the events God has planned. 

We are gearing up here at The Romantic Vineyard to spend more time posting and providing quality material to help your marriage thrive in the coming year. We pray you’ll find it helpful and encouraging.

But today…today we’re traveling home from a week away to see our kids and grandkids for Christmas. It’s always an emotional roller coaster for me–high high’s knowing we get to be together, and low low’s when the time comes to say goodbye. But God is helping me each time to trust Him more even though His ways are not my ways, I know confidently that His ways are good. 

And I’m here to remind you of this truth as well. Whenever we face seasons we don’t like it’s far too easy to slip into the grumbling and complaining mode. We must fight this temptation and see it for what it is–charging God with messing up our plans. Of course, most of us would never say this, but if we break it down that’s really all grumbling is. And God takes it very seriously. Just look at what happened when the Israelites did it?

This morning I received an article by Breakpoint about the myth of Soul Mates.We encourage you to read it. It’s an important Truth to realize in order for marriages to last a lifetime.

We pray you’ll have a safe and romantic New Year’s celebration. Look for ways to surprise your spouse and make them smile. 😊

Posted in Christian Marriage | 2 Comments

Twas The Monday Before Christmas…

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Can you believe it? This year has gone by so fast. Soon we’ll be ringing in another year, and thanking God for all He has done in 2015! Posts like these can be redundant, and that isn’t my desire–to say what’s already been said before. But what I do want to share I hope will give you something to consider throughout the next two weeks…

Our pastor has challenged us for years during the month of December to consider:

Look back to this time last year and reflect on where you were and what you were doing. Then, think through all of 2015 and where you are today. You’re not the same person you were a year ago. Hopefully, your marriage is not where it was a year ago as well. God has been faithful to bring you a little closer in your walk with Him. He has showed you more of His character through the circumstances you’ve faced. Even in the difficulty, we can trust Him because He knows the beginning from the end. He has promised to complete the work He’s begun in us. This is a promise you can cling to when facing trouble. And a promise you can celebrate when you come through the dark valley to brighter days.

This year has been a challenging one for us. One where we have been on our knees many times asking God for help and hope. And we have found Him to be who He says He is. Even when we were still facing unanswered questions, it didn’t change who He is, and this brought us hope and peace.

Thank you for being a part of The Romantic Vineyard–some of you are new to us this year. Some of you we’ve known for years. We count it a privilege and a huge responsibility to share our life and our heart with you in an effort to help your marriage last a lifetime.

Which brings us to announce the winners of our Giveaway for three copies of the new book by Gary Chapman titled, Married And Still Loving It! Thank you to all who entered!

Our winners are…

  1. Jerry Fox
  2. tchambers
  3. Bonnie Anderson

Congratulations! All I need is for you to email me your mailing address to: theromanticvineyard(at)gmail(dot)com. The publisher will mail your copy of the book directly to you when it hits the shelves on January 5th.

This will be our last post of the year so we can focus our attention on our growing family.; That’s right–we have eight grandchildren ages eight and under, and we will be blessed to see them all from GA to TN.  We pray your holidays are filled with precious moments you’ll recall for years.

Papa and Nana's Gang

Merry Christmas!

(Christmas image: downloadcollection.com)

 

 

Posted in Christian Marriage | 4 Comments

Happy Hour

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It’s the Friday before Christmas, and what better way to celebrate than to share some blog love?

Happy Hour has become a favored tradition with our readers because there is so much great marriage content on the internet these days. However, we know it’s hard to find the time to read them all yourself. This is why we like to go through them for you and highlight the ones we think are worth your time.

  • First, our featured post on the Engaged Marriage blog provides a couple of great romantic ideas to help you bless your spouse this Christmas season.
  • Second, we want to re-introduce you to Marriage Missions International. They are Steve and Cindy Wright whom we’ve had the privilege of meeting in person. We instantly became close–and now, years later, we count it a blessing any time we can spend together on Skype. They live in Arizona and we’re in Florida, so our time together physically isn’t possible. They’re about to revamp their entire website making it easier to navigate as well as allowing advertisers to partner with their ministry. What we love most about MMI is how they are spreading help and hope to marriages all over the globe. Their stats are staggering and we believe it is because they have been faithful for nearly two decades to provide Biblical Truth on every topic, trial and season  known to marriage. And they make it easy to find what you’re looking for. Here’s a shot of their topics list…

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  • Third – Journey To Surrender is doing a series on Avoiding The Christmas Crazies. We’re figuring you’re starting to feel the pressure about now. Why not take a few minutes and at least read the main points of his series. It may be just what you need to keep from overload.
  • One Flesh Marriage provided a Christmas Gift Guide To Grow Your Marriage a few weeks ago that is excellent. Make sure that you’re investing in those things that will last. It is our desire as well as all of the blogs represented here to see your marriage last. But not only last, but excel at glorifying God. It is possible, but it takes intentionality–buying and reading great resources is a good start!

Finally, don’t forget there’s still time to enter for one of three copies of an upcoming best-seller by Gary Chapman and Harold Myra titled, Married, And Still Loving It! Entering is easy–just comment to this post telling us what you think it takes to make a marriage last. That’s it! We’ll close the contest midnight Sunday night. Three winners will receive a free copy of the book when published in January via snail mail.

Have a blessed weekend enjoying all that Christ has done for us.

Posted in Blog Love, Happy Hour | Tagged , | 3 Comments