There Is A Day Coming…

…that we all know is certain, yet the way we live might say otherwise. I’m talking about the day when “death do us part”.


Why this topic? Why today? Because we received a text this morning telling us that a dear friend passed away last night at 9:15p. We recently heard that he had been diagnosed with a terminal illness. He only found out himself on Labor Day, and yesterday was his last day in this life. He was surrounded by his wife and grown children, a comfort indeed. He was at peace knowing where he was going, but still saying goodbye is hard. He was 63.

This is our friend’s first day in heaven, and his wife’s first day without him.

We are sad for the changes, but grateful for the hope we’ve been given. For those of us who recognize our need for a Savior, death no longer has a sting. Instead, death is a gateway to all the promises Christ has secured for us.

For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?” – 1 Corinthians 15:53-54 ESV

This is what we believe. This is the Truth, and one day every knee will bow and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. This is why we are passionate about marriages becoming all God intends, because it reflects Him and His love for the church. We live to glorify God in every way possible, even though we walk through the valley of shadows, we are not afraid. Christ is with us. He knows us. And He is leading us safely home.

To offer comfort to this grieving family, another friend shared a video with them. It’s a song titled, Though He Slay Me, by Shane and Shane, and it speaks volumes as to where we must fix our eyes when we are faced with trials on every side. May it comfort those of you who may be facing similar heartaches and losses.

If you don’t know Christ, this post probably sounds incredibly foolish to you. But it is more real than anything else in this life. God is alive, and His purposes are being accomplished in and through us everyday. We pray that you will come to know Christ as your personal Savior. He is the reason we do what we do, and when all is said and done–He is all that matters!


Posted in Christian Marriage, Death and Grieving, Difficulty, Seasons of Life | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

It’s Our 6th Blogiversary!

Six years ago today we launched our first post of The Romantic Vineyard. We had no idea what good things God had in store for us. It has been a privilege to play a part in lifting your eyes to see God at work in your life and your marriage. He is the faithful One, always willing and able to help us through every season and every storm in marriage.

First we want to share the winners in our “Capture The Romance” Photo Contest. Thanks to all who took the time to send us your photos–what a blessing it is to have such memories to share of romantic places. Great job!

First Place – A Walk to the Mailbox, by Steve & Meghann Roberts (daughter – Reagan)

1st Place

Judge’s comments: A lovely capture by the young photographer of a small, but special moment in her parent’s lives together.  This shot is nicely composed with the road providing a natural line to lead the eye to the couple, and then beyond to their destination.  This walk  is beautifully symbolic of a life journey together, made up of many small moments and trips to the mailbox. A great inspiration and my congratulations on your marriage and producing such a promising young photographer.

Second Place – The Light of Love, by Joel and Brittanie Quain

2nd Place

Judge’s comments: This shot is well-executed to capture the beautiful light, making it appear to radiate from the couple.   The light also gives the couple an anonymity that allows the viewer to relate to this very romantic moment.  Well-done.

Third Place – Mountain Trail in NC, by Michael and Emily Henderson

3rd Place

Judge’s comments: A lovely, peaceful place to spend time as a couple.  This photo is beautifully composed with great clarity.  The trail makes a perfect leading line, symbolizing our path in life and marriage.  A lot of it is uphill, but when we get to the top, we can stop and enjoy a smooch.  :-)

Honorable Mention - Love Multiplies


Honorable Mention - Enduring Love


A huge thank you to Doreen Hollett who volunteered to judge our photos and did an outstanding job!

Finally, we want to share with you a very special music video produced by Bethel Music in their Loft Series. It’s titled, Come To Me, and reminds us that God is always ready and waiting for us to come to Him. It is because of Him that our marriage has anything to offer to others for their encouragement and help. God is good, and together we praise Him for His kindness to us these past 6 years.

We count it a privilege to serve you in this way.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts! We love you!

Come To Me

I am the Lord your God, I go before you now
I stand beside you, I’m all around you
Though you feel I’m far away, I’m closer than your breath
I am with you, more than you know

I am the Lord your peace, no evil will conquer you
Steady now your heart and mind, come into My rest
Oh, let your faith arise, lift up your weary head
I am with you wherever you go

Come to Me, I’m all you need.
Come to Me, I’m everything
Come to Me, I’m all you need.
Come to Me, I’m your everything

I am your anchor, in the wind and the waves
I am your steadfast, so don’t be afraid
Though your heart and flesh may fail you, I’m your faithful strength
I am with you wherever you go

Come to Me, I’m all you need.
Come to Me, I’m your everything
Come to Me, I’m all you need.
Come to Me, I’m your everything

Don’t look to the right or to the left but keep your eyes on Me
You will not be shaken, you will not be moved ooh
I am the hand to hold, I am the truth, I am the way
Just come to Me, come to Me, cause I’m all that you need

Posted in Capturing Romance Photo Contest, Contests, Growing Strong Marriages | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Heartfelt Thank You To All Veteran’s Today

Veteran's Day

Credit: Madison Rising

Posted in Holidays, Wordless Wednesday | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Happy Monday!


Graphic credit:

Graphic credit:

This is the 2nd Monday and the one day I guest post on the Engaged Marriage blog. Today’s post is titled, What’s Your RQ? Any guesses about what RQ stands for? Give it a shot, and then click over to read it. It’s an interesting thought and something you and your spouse might want to discuss when you have the time.

Also, tomorrow is the deadline for our Capturing Romance Contest. We will be celebrating our 6th blogiversary on Wednesday, and we’re celebrating by giving the three top photos a special prize to say thank you for being a part of The Romantic Vineyard.


Posted in Capturing Romance Photo Contest, Christian Marriage, Contests, Guest Post | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Fall Back – An Extra Hour To Romance Your Spouse


Tonight we turn our clocks back an hour, ending Daylight Saving Time for 2014. Not all areas of the country take part in this annual manipulation of time, but if you do, we have some ideas on how to squeeze in an hour of romance for your spouse’s pleasure.

One Hour Romantic Ideas:

  1. Bake your spouse’s favorite treat, and read out loud to each other from your favorite author.
  2. Take turns giving each other a 30 minute massage. (Great tips from the Dating Divas blog)
  3. Put your electronics away, pour your favorite beverage and purpose to talk about your marriage. Topics not allowed in this discussion: children, work, church activities, politics, hot topics that usually lead to conflict. If you’re not sure what to discuss, use these questions to help you.
  4. Take a walk holding hands.
  5. Play Romantic Scrabble.
  6. Start a Thanksgiving-themed jigsaw puzzle, or try this version with a romantic twist.
  7. Dance to your favorite music, or watch your favorite music videos on You Tube. Here’s one of our favorites songs: 
  8. Play Flash-Light Tag
  9. Play Blind Spouse Bluff.
  10. Try out this Mall Date that takes an hour.

We hope these ideas will spark some romance in your marriage tonight. However, if you can’t redeem your hour tonight, why not write a note to your spouse with the date and time when you can. The anticipation will make it even better, especially if they don’t know what you have planned. ;-)

Let’s make this time of year an annual tradition of romance in our marriages. Think of it as a way to help us both “Fall Back In Love”.


Posted in Christian Marriage, Creative Dates, Date Night Ideas, Fall Date Ideas, Romance in Marriage, romancing your spouse, romantic date nights | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Romantic Photo Tips

Photo taken by Debi Walter at Navarro Vineyards, CA

Photo taken by Debi Walter at Navarro Vineyards, CA

Since our 6th Blogiversary Photo Contest is in full swing, we thought we’d share some of our favorite romantic photos to inspire you. The captions tell where the photo was taken. As you can see the photos vary–some have people in them, some do not. Some are of us, some are of others. What they all have in common is showcasing a place you could imagine having a romantic date together.

Quebec City, Canada

Quebec City, Canada

Quebec City, Canada

Quebec City, Canada

Blowing Rock, NC

Blowing Rock, NC

Epcot's Annual Flower & Garden Festival, Orlando, FL

Epcot’s Annual Flower & Garden Festival, Orlando, FL

Prince Edward Island lighthouse, Canada

Prince Edward Island lighthouse, Canada

Grandfather Vineyard, NC

Grandfather Vineyard, NC

Hess Collection Winery, Napa, CA

Hess Collection Winery, Napa, CA


Armstrong Redwood State natural Reserve, Guerneville, CA

Armstrong Redwood State Natural Reserve, Guerneville, CA

Posted in Capturing Romance Photo Contest, Contests | Tagged , | 1 Comment

The Romantic Vineyard’s 6th Anniversary Photo Contest

Photo taken by Debi Walter at Navarro Vineyards, CA

Photo taken by Debi Walter at Navarro Vineyards, CA

November 12th is our 6th Anniversary here at The Romantic Vineyard, and on our 2nd anniversary we held our first photo contest. We’ve decided it’s time to bring another photo contest back to help us celebrate all God has done and is doing in our marriages?  Since I love taking pictures, I would love to see what you can do with a camera.  So here are the contest rules:

1.  The Theme for the contest is “Capturing Romance” and is open to anyone who is married or engaged.

2.  Only one entry per person.  This means each couple can submit two photos, provided they each took their own picture.   No professional photographers, please.  Amateurs only.

3.  Each photo must be your original and not something found elsewhere.  Only basic editing is permitted, such as cropping, red-eye, etc.

4.  Photos will be judged on Theme, Clarity, Unique Perspective, and Overall Beauty.  In other words, we should all want to be in the photo, if we could.  Oh, and please, photos should be “G” rated.  Anything deemed inappropriate will be omitted at our discretion.

5.  Photos must say where the shot was “captured”.  It can be a recent photo, or one you took a long time ago, as long as the first 4 rules are observed.

6.  Submit your entries by uploading them on our Facebook Fan Page, or if you prefer, you can e-mail it to us: theromanticvineyard(at)gmail(dot)com.  Be sure to tell us your name, and where the photo was taken in the caption portion of the picture. (See Photo at top of post for example)  Any photos not marked as such, will not be judged.

6.  Contest will end on November 11th at midnight.

7.  We will announce the winners on November 12th.  And here’s the fun part – we will award a First, Second and Third place winner.

8.  Prizes are as follows:

     First Place -$50 Gift Card for a nice dinner out. (winner’s choice).

     Second Place – $25 Gift Card for a night at the Movies.

     Third Place -$10 Gift Card for a night at Starbucks or Ice Creamery

There you have it!  Get your cameras ready and start capturing some romance!

Tom and I would like to thank you for helping us celebrate SIX YEARS.  God has been very good to us, and we pray your marriage has been helped too.

Marriage is a journey, not a destination, and only God knows where it is He wants us to go.  He will faithfully bring us there – one day at a time.

Posted in Capturing Romance Photo Contest, Celebrations, Contests, Romance in Marriage | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

What Did You Expect?

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This is the last week of the CMBA challenge to post during the month of October on Words of Wisdom. This last week is to include books or blogs that have had an impact on our marriage for good.

Hands down, we both agree that Paul Tripp is the author who has had the most lasting impact on our marriage. He’s written lots of books, we’ve attended lots of his seminars, we’ve listened to countless audio tapes of his teaching, and we’ve even been able to thank him in person for his influence.

His book, What Did You Expect?, takes all the teachings we’ve heard and puts them in one book that is easy to read and oh, so helpful.

He is a Biblical Counselor, so as you’re reading he is able to anticipate your reaction to the Truth he is highlighting. It’s almost like he’s reading your mail. This proves that there is nothing new under the sun, as Solomon so eloquently penned in Ecclesiastes. What has been before will happen again. What you’re currently facing in your relationship has happened to others before you, but the enemy of our souls wants to make us feel isolated and alone, as if we are the only ones who have walked this road.

Biblical Counseling throws an ax to that myth. And this book is like having your own counselor sitting with you in your living room to help you dissect what is off in your marriage.

Watch this book trailer and see how compelling his words are. We pray it will draw you to read the book for yourself. It’s that good!

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Posted in Christian Marriage, CMBA Blog Challenge Word Of Wisdom, Conflict, Contests | 1 Comment

Words From Friends Part Two – Wise Indeed!

Our pastor and his wife, Danny and Melodye Jones--lifelong friends for whom we thank God.

Our pastor and his wife, Danny and Melodye Jones–lifelong friends for whom we thank God.

Tom and I have been blessed to be a part of a church since it’s inception in 1985. We have “grown up”, so to speak, with many of the same people who were there with us on that Sunday nearly 3 decades ago.

We have talked about marriage issues; we have talked about parenting issues; we have cried over unwise choices–ours and our children’s. We have learned much through trial and error, and each lesson took us closer to wisdom. This is how God trains us. He doesn’t remove the trouble, but He walks with us through it teaching us as we go. Sometimes the instruction comes through His Word and sometime the instruction comes through friends.

How grateful we are for the friends who have imparted wisdom into our marriage. I don’t know where we would be today if it weren’t for friends who were willing to speak into our lives right when we needed it. It is a gift one should seek diligently–to know and be known by other Godly couples you respect.

Here are a few nuggets of wisdom we’ve heard, witnessed and embraced:

  • Hearing an older husband say to his wife (dear friends), “Honey, you’re all the woman I’ll ever need.” This comment taught us the importance of romance and encouragement no matter how long you’ve been married.
  • Hearing our pastor stress over and over the importance of regular date nights. Not only did he say this, but he and his wife modeled it for us year after year. (They just celebrated 40 years together.)
  • Hearing our pastor share the benefits of being completely honest with his wife and encouraging us to do the same.
  • Before we were married, Tom observed how the parents of a friend purposed to go to bed together every night.
  • Going through Money, Possession and Eternity as a church years ago (another kudos to our pastor) and walking together with friends through years of living below our means, to finally be at a place of debt-free living.

I know there are lots more, but these are the key nuggets that have come to our mind. What words of wisdom have your friends shared with you that have made a lasting mark on your marriage?

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Posted in Christian Marriage, CMBA Blog Challenge Word Of Wisdom, Contests, Growing Strong Marriages

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 , , | 5 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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Posted in Christian Marriage, CMBA Blog Challenge Word Of Wisdom, Contests | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

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

Image courtesy of FrameAngel at

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.

Posted in Christian Marriage | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

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