Overlook

Rhodos

We’re at our cabin this week for the 4th of July with most of our family who will arrive for a long weekend. The mountains are beautiful this time of year, and it’s the first time we’ve actually seen the wild rhododendrons in full bloom adjoining our property since purchasing Barefoot Cabin two years ago. I had begun to think that maybe they didn’t bloom, but was I wrong! They are breathtaking.

If you have ever taken a drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway you are regularly greeted with invitations to stop at overlooks on the side of the road.

Photo Credit: TripAdvisor.com

Photo Credit: TripAdvisor.com

This probably serves two purposes–one, to give you the opportunity to see something you might otherwise miss. And two, get you off the road so you don’t cause an accident when you take your eyes off of the road to see the view you didn’t stop to see. :-)

This made me think about the following verse found in Proverbs 19:11

Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense. ESV (emphasis mine)

Maybe when we choose to overlook an offense it’s like this…

  • …we act on good sense stopping along the road for the safety of our marriage. Doing so allows us to pause and consider what really matters–it’s our relationship that matters most–not winning the argument.
  • …we are given the opportunity to see something we might have missed if we continued driving full speed ahead into a conflict. How often I have realized that what I thought was intentional on Tom’s part in a conflict was really nothing more than a misunderstanding. Pausing to see and reflect gives us a clearer picture of what we’re facing. And you know what? Most of the time what I discover is so precious it takes my breath away. I come away with a deeper understanding of the man I married and what a gift our differences are to our relationship, not a hindrance.

Have you ever chosen to “overlook” an offense, stopping to appreciate the view on your road of marriage thus far? Or have you experienced the pain of forging ahead holding tightly to your steering wheel determined to white-knuckle your point of view? I have done both, and to be honest the former is the good sense Proverbs is talking about. And I’ve seen some things I’m so grateful I didn’t miss.

What’s the view like on your marriage journey? I encourage you to take those invitations to stop and overlook often. The views are amazing!

Posted in Christian Marriage, Conflict, Growing Strong Marriages | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Slow To Speak

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I am married to a man who has learned the wisdom of speaking slowly. It’s not because he’s slow of thinking. In fact, it’s just the opposite. He ponders his thoughts before sharing them with others. And he often chooses not to share what comes to mind because he realizes it isn’t profitable. I want to be more like him.

How I wish I could say the same for many on social media these days, both Christian and non-Christian alike.

The U.S. Supreme Court changed the course of history on Friday of last week when they ruled in favor of homosexual marriage. Ever since, social media sites have been soaked in the colors of the rainbow by those who are for it, and a plethora of words by those who oppose it. I’m sure our readers know where we stand, but you won’t hear us join the fray–at least not yet.

James 1:19-20 says, “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.”

Charles Spurgeon had this to say about these verses, and we do well to listen–

“Because it is by the Word that we are begotten: let us be swift to hear it. “Slow to speak,” because there is so much sin in us that the less we speak the better. In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin. Great talkativeness is seldom dissociated from great sinfulness.”

For now, we are praying…

  • for our nation as it faces unchartered waters
  • for those who believe with all their hearts that this is the freedom for which they have been searching
  • for Christian leaders who must speak on this all-important issue to a mocking world
  • most of all, that God will be glorified in His Church even in the midst of such opposition.

Posted in Christian Marriage, Growing Strong Marriages, The Gospel & Marriage, Wisdom in Marriage | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

Peeking In Your Bedroom

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No, it’s not what you think. 

What I’m talking about is something to help you and your marriage. It’s not difficult to do and you don’t need to study to figure out how to do it. All you have to do is DO IT.

If I were to visit your home this afternoon and take a peek in your bedroom, what would I find? Would it be free from clutter? A place obviously set aside for the grown-ups in the house. Would it be free from toys? Work? Dust? Is the bed made? Is it inviting?

These are questions we often fail to ask ourselves because our bedrooms become too comfortable, but not necessarily relaxing.

Making Your Space Comfortable AND Relaxing

It’s Summer. The perfect time to work on putting things where they belong. Getting rid of the things that don’t and reclaiming your romantic space. This is your haven, your place of retreat. Why not take some time and make it something you’re proud of? With Pinterest there is no lack of ideas of how to do this on any budget. Once you get started you may be surprised at how easy it is.

The most difficult part of any task is getting started.

So why not start now? Give yourself a deadline by which you want to finish and then, plan a special treat for you and your spouse to celebrate your accomplishment.

Your marriage is worth it. 

Take a minute and let me know if you’re up for the challenge. I’d love to see before and after pictures. Plus, it’s good to have some accountability to help you do what you’ve set out to do.

Meme credit: sayingimages.com

Meme credit: sayingimages.com

Posted in Christian Marriage, Priorities, Romance in Marriage, romanticizing your master bedroom | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

Happy Hour

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It’s Friday. It’s 5:00. It’s time for our weekly celebration of all the great marriage content being shared this week. Of course, the list isn’t exhaustive–but it’s full of posts we’ve read and highly endorse. Grab your favorite drink and enjoy reading for the good of your marriage. And, if you’re a dad–HAPPY FATHER’S DAY! :-)

Hot, Holy and Humorous

  • Dating Advice I Gave Teen Girls<<J does a great job sharing her wisdom with us about this difficult road. If you have teens, or pre-teens even, please read this post! You’ll be glad you did!

My Beloved Is Mine

  • Gamer or Husband?<<If you have time to only read one post on this list–make it THIS ONE! It should be read by all husbands who love video games. Even if you think you have your love under control, take time to read this post! Better yet, ask your wife to read it too, and then have a serious discussion about your own marriage. It’s that important!

One Flesh Marriage

The Generous Husband

  • A Thought On Grumpiness<<We couldn’t agree more with Paul on this one. It’s important to define your terms biblically to understand what the issue is you’re dealing with. Most times grumpy translates to discontent or angry on simmer.

The Generous Wife

  • I’m Buying A New Vent Cover<<Oh, I love this one by Lori! She shares a moment we’ve all experienced and demonstrated to her husband genuine kindness, no venting!

The XY Code

Posted in Blog Love, Christian Marriage, Happy Hour | 4 Comments

Elisabeth Elliot 1926-2015

Photo Credit: The Gospel Coalition

Photo Credit: The Gospel Coalition

This morning at the age of 88, Elisabeth Elliot went to be with the Lord. Oh to see the reunion of her with her first husband Jim as she tells him what happened with the Auca Indians after his death. Imagine the enjoyment she’s having right this minute, no longer waiting to meet her Savior face-to-face. She is there! Her life and ministry here has ended, yet her legacy will continue through the many books she’s written.

Elisabeth Elliot quotes worth remembering and pondering:

  • “This love of which I speak is slow to lose patience – it looks for a way of being constructive.
    Love is not possessive.
    Love is not anxious to impress nor does it cherish inflated ideas of its own ideas.
    Love has good manners and does not pursue selfish advantage.
    Love is not touchy.
    Love does not keep account of evil or gloat over the wickedness of other people. On the contrary, it is glad with all good men when truth prevails.
    Love knows no limits to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope; it can outlast anything. It is, in fact, the one thing that stands when all else has fallen.”
    ― Elisabeth ElliotLet Me Be a Woman
  • “The fact that I am a woman does not make me a different kind of Christian, but the fact that I am a Christian makes me a different kind of woman.”
  • “When the time comes to die, make sure that all you have to do is die!”
    ~Jim Elliot”
    The Journals of Jim Elliot
  • “We are women, and my plea is Let me be a woman, holy through and through, asking for nothing but what God wants to give me, receiving with both hands and with all my heart whatever that is.”
  • “I realized that the deepest spiritual lessons are not learned by His letting us have our way in the end, but by His making us wait, bearing with us in love and patience until we are able to honestly to pray what He taught His disciples to pray: Thy will be done.”
    ― Passion and Purity: Learning to Bring Your Love Life Under Christ’s Control
  • “God never witholds from His child that which His love and wisdom call good. God’s refusals are always merciful — “severe mercies” at times but mercies all the same. God never denies us our hearts desire except to give us something better.”
  • “Restlessness and impatience change nothing except our peace and joy. Peace does not dwell in outward things, but in the heart prepared to wait trustfully and quietly on Him who has all things safely in His hands.”
  • “Where does your security lie? Is God your refuge, your hiding place, your stronghold, your shepherd, your counselor, your friend, your redeemer, your saviour, your guide? If He is, you don’t need to search any further for security.”

If you are unfamiliar with Elisabeth’s story, here is her testimony as told by Steven Curtis Chapman:

Posted in Aging, Christian Marriage, Seasons of Life, Testimonies | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Happy Hour

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Each week we enjoy sharing with you what other marriage bloggers are posting. The following are our picks for you to read and from which to glean. Grab a cup of your favorite drink and spend time reading this weekend. We’ll see you next week!

Intimacy In Marriage

One Flesh Marriage

  • My Wall Of Shame << Kate shares a very vulnerable post in the hopes of helping other women who are facing a similar experience. Read it and respond as needed.

The Forgiven Wife

The Generous Husband 

  • Lack of Knowledge: The 3 G’s – I love this series because it hits so many points where we all live as husband and wife.
  • Lack of Knowledge: Sex – This one area causes more trouble in marriage and also provides the most opportunity for intimacy in a way no one else can meet.
  • Lack Of Knowledge: Spiritual Things – This post is a MUST READ for all couples. Don’t neglect this above all else!
  • Lack of Knowledge: We Need Others – A perfect way to end this series…Paul says, “A husband or wife with no friend to help them deal with marriage issues is in a dangerous place.” Seek friends, true friends who can help you see things you may be blind to.

The Generous Wife

  • Honor Growth and Change << I love this idea. We all too often focus on the negative and miss the good change that has occurred.

To Love, Honor And Vacuum

Posted in Blog Love, Christian Marriage, Growing Strong Marriages, Happy Hour | 2 Comments

Romantic Movie Moments

Photo Credit: Jeff Salz.com

Photo Credit: Jeff Salz.com

Have you ever been enjoying a movie when a scene happens that affects you to the core? 

I have had this happen a few times–they’re called touchstones, where a scene touches a part of your heart and allows you to identify with the scene/words on a deeper level. This is why I love good movies and good music, for that matter. They have a way of helping you see a certain situation, difficult or a blessing, with fresh eyes.

Most of you have read our blog long enough to know that You’ve Got Mail is one of those movies for me. There are so many touchstones that I can’t count them all. I watch this movie at least once a year and usually cry to my heart’s content. I even bought the soundtrack because I love the music!

One song in particular isn’t well known. It plays at the end of the movie while the credits are scrolling, and it’s by far one of my all-time favorite artists, Carole King. The song is titled, Anyone At All, and basically tells our love story. I had been in a long-term relationship that ended unexpectedly after two years. It was the hardest thing I had been through at that time of my life, but it was a God-thing. After four months of heartache and sadness my phone rang one day, and it was just like the song says, “an old friend calling out of the blue! I’m so glad it was YOU!”

That phone call took place 37 years ago this month! And what a gift Tom has been to me. I can’t imagine who I would be if it weren’t for his love and care. And now I can see that the heartache I was experiencing was leading me to the one God had planned for me to marry all along.

It has helped me to see that often the most difficult roads lead to the most beautiful views that we would otherwise miss.

Take a few minutes and enjoy this song. I’m so glad Carole King made this video recently, it brings the movie and the song to life! Enjoy…

We’re linked with Messy Marriage’s Wedded Wednesday.

Posted in Testimonies, Thankfulness | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Happy Hour

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The lack of happy hour posts isn’t due to lack of great content the other marriage bloggers are writing; it’s due to the fact we’ve been on Nana and Papa Duty for 9 days with four of our 7 grandchildren. So fun, but so tiring too.

Here are our picks for this week. Spend some time over the weekend checking them out!

Blessings,

Journey To Surrender

Intimacy In Marriage

Blessed Are The Pure In Heart

  • If Only << Andrew is facing a terminal illness. He writes honestly about the effects this has had on his marriage. This post will speak volumes to those of us who aren’t facing life and death issues. Check out all the posts in this series–great advice.

Hot, Holy and Humorous

One Flesh Marriage

Posted in Blog Love, Happy Hour | Tagged , ,

Marriage Rip-Currents And How To Avoid Them

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I spent a day this week at the beach with my daughter and three of her four children–we left the baby at home. When we arrived it looked like a storm might blow in, so my oldest granddaughter suggested we pray that God would take the clouds away. Ah, the faith of a child! The clouds left, and we had a picture perfect day, weather-wise.

But something was wrong, very wrong. We noticed the News van in the parking lot at the 27th Avenue ramp where we always go. When we got down on the beach, we noticed the red flag waving on the lifeguard station, the police helicopter hovering up and down the beach, and the Coast Guard boat speeding back and forth beyond the waves.

They were obviously in search of someone–but who?

My daughter walked to the lifeguard to find out, and it wasn’t what we wanted to hear. He told us to keep the children close and away from the surf as a precaution. Apparently, the night before a 17-year-old boy from GA had been swimming with friends when he disappeared. They had been searching for him ever since.

Of course, we didn’t say a word to the children–they didn’t even notice. But we kept a watchful eye on the surf hoping and praying that they would find him, but not where we were. That would be an image we would never be able to shake, and we were grateful God answered our prayers yet again; They found the boy about two miles north of us within a few minutes of our arrival, but we didn’t hear about it until a hour or two later.

This horribly sad story could have been easily avoided.

You see, most people who aren’t from Florida don’t realize how dangerous rip-currents can be. A good, strong swimmer can drown just as easily as one who isn’t. Why? Because when the strong current grabs ahold of you it pulls you quickly out to sea. Many panic and become exhausted trying to swim back to shore against the current. The smart thing to do is swim parallel to the shore until you breakaway from the currents pull. Then, you’re free to swim back to the shore. If only he had understood this, he most likely would still be here.

In marriage we are often caught up in similar rip-currents.

What are they? These rip-currents are hot topics you know are going to pull the conversation into an emotional panic. They can be different in each marriage, but here are a few they could be:

  • Finances – how to manage them
  • Raising children – how to train them
  • Faith issues – how to love God and where to put down roots
  • Relating with friends who are of the opposite sex – how to not cross the line into emotional intimacy
  • Hobbies – how much time to spend on them
  • Annoying/concerning habits – how to help your spouse desire change
  • Health issues – how to help your spouse become and stay healthy
  • Trust issues – how to believe the best of your spouse, and how to help your spouse trust you

Every marriage has one or more rip-currents with which they have to swim on a regular basis. The experienced swimmers (those married for years) are in as much danger as the novice ones (those newlyweds) and need to be aware of the danger and what to do to avoid being pulled into a nasty situation that could threaten the life of your marriage.

How To Avoid The Rip-Currents of Conflict

First of all, admit that you know how to push your spouse’s buttons. If you’re upset with them about one thing, don’t allow yourself to push any of these buttons in retaliation. This is immature and will not help your relationship grow. It may feel good in the moment, but know that regret always follows. This is like pushing your spouse into the dangerous waters of a rip-current. Don’t do it.

Secondly, seek help in how you should handle the topic. Most likely you have a friend who is stronger in this area. Seek their counsel. It may be they have the rescue tools to help pull you out of the rip-current. Be sure to also seek the answers in God’s Word:

“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12

Thirdly, be willing to take the time needed to swim in the deep and not rush to a solution. When you do it usually only makes matters worse. And it will wear you both down physically and emotionally. Many times conflicts occur late at night when you are both exhausted already. This is not the time to try and make a dash for a resolution. Instead, you may need to agree to sleep and discuss it more in the morning. If this isn’t possible, then purpose to stay alert and engaged in what you’re spouse is saying. Resist the temptation to be thinking about your next point and miss fully understanding your spouse’s view.

Finally, once you’ve listened to what your spouse has to say, repeat back what you heard them say to be sure you were listening rightly. The goal in any conflict isn’t to win, but to understand. If you are not willing to come alongside your spouse in the conflict and help swim in parallel together, then you will never break free of the rip-tide. Don’t let this happen! Marriage isn’t easy, but it is worth it. Just like those who have been caught in a rip-tide and safely broken free from it’s pull, they are usually quick to jump right back in the ocean to swim, surf and have fun, because despite the risk–it’s worth it.

What issues have been like rip-currents in your marriage? How have you learned to avoid them?

Posted in Christian Marriage, Conflict | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

The Many Faces Of Empty

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Source: Anthony Ianniciello

Empty.

It’s a funny word when you say it by itself. It sounds like two letters of the alphabet “M” and “T”. I don’t know about you, but it’s a word I use often, and it has many faces. Think about it…

  • Empty is how my bed feels when Tom is out of town on business.
  • Empty is how my stomach feels when I haven’t planned dinner because of too many distractions.
  • Empty is how my wallet stays most times.
  • Empty is how my arms felt when we had a miscarriage early on in our marriage.
  • Empty is how my gas tank becomes more often than I’d like to admit.
  • Empty is what Tom does to our garbage twice a week–I’m grateful, so grateful he doesn’t need to be reminded for this one.

But there’s one “empty” we haven’t experienced in our home in over 33 years. It’s one we’ve heard others lament over and one we’ve been reluctant to experience. What empty are we talking about?

Our youngest daughter moved out this month, and we are officially EMPTY nesters. 

I’m filled with such a mixture of emotions.

  • I’m sad that she no longer comes through our door at night, but I’m happy she has the joy and fun of setting up her own place with a friend.
  • I’m sad I don’t get to see her as often, but I’m happy she calls me on a regular basis–and she texts!
  • I’m sad the time of having children in our home is over, but I’m happy she has become such a godly woman in her own right. (The goal of parenting, right?)
  • I’m sad to see her room empty, but I’m happy to have more space to welcome others into our home to stay for a night or a week.
  • I’m sad to no longer cook for three, but I’m happy I get to cook for two.
  • I’m sad if I dwell on me and how her move affects me–but I’m happy when I focus on her and how good this is for her.

So, another major life change has occurred in our home, and God is helping me see it as a good change.because.it.is! One thing that has never been empty since the day we said, I do, and that is our hearts. God has filled us with more of Himself as well as His good gifts to us than we could have ever imagined.

We are grateful to be filled with such goodness, such mercy, such kindness, as what God has given us in Christ.

Now it’s time to go cook dinner–for two!  Woo Hoo!

This song has been on my heart all day…

 

 

 

Posted in Aging, Christian Marriage, Open Nest, Seasons of Life, The Gospel & Marriage | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Top 10 Summer Post Roundup

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Summer is almost upon us, and you’re most likely dreaming of things to do to make this year special. One thing is sure–if you don’t plan a great Summer, it will be gone before you can blink. Planning is essential to success.

We’ve shared lots of ideas through the years since we’ve been blogging, so why not round-up some of our best Summer Ideas for your convenience? Following are some of our favorite posts about Summer and Vacations. We pray you’ll take some time to read them all and consider your own plans…

  1. Hello To Summer Date Night
  2. Making Vacations Memorably Romantic 1
  3. Making Vacations Memorably Romantic 2
  4. Summer Sizzlin’ Date Ideas
  5. Expect-cations
  6. Unpacking For Vacation
  7. Let’s Take A Walk
  8. The Romantic Gourmet Date Night Idea
  9. Boredom Breakers
  10. 7-11 Date Night Idea – You can do this one any date of the year. :-)

Let us know what you think. And if you have ideas of your own, please share them with us! Variety is the spice of life-right?

Posted in Christian Marriage | Tagged , ,

Happy Hour

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I know we haven’t provided a Happy Hour post in a long time. I’ve missed taking time to read what other marriage bloggers are saying–and you know what? There’s some really good Truth being shared. So…here’s to your weekend. Grab your favorite drink and spend time reading these excellent posts.

HOT, HOLY AND HUMOROUS

  • A Romance Book You Can Read – Summer is fast approaching and finding good books to read is a top priority. Check out J’s new offering with a fresh twist.

INTIMACY IN MARRIAGE

JOURNEY TO SURRENDER

  • The Gift Of As You Wish – Love this idea from Jenni Means, Scott’s wife. We don’t hear from her often–so when we do, it’s worth reading. She has a gift for showing her husband love and honor that’s worth emulating!

ONE FLESH MARRIAGE

  • My Husband, My Jesus – Kate provides a healthy reminder about the difference between the two loves of our lives.

THE GENEROUS HUSBAND

THE GENEROUS WIFE

  • What I’m Reading And More – I love how Lori shares her life in such a transparent and real way. She is busy, and what’s she’s doing matters. This is a great reminder for us as well. God is in the details of all our days.
  • Kindness Got Your Tongue? – The title says it all!

The XY Code

  • Sex With A Man Over 25 – Paul of the XY Code is the same as Paul of The Generous Husband. He offers helpful information for all men (and their wives) who are growing older and what to expect. Sometimes knowing what’s “normal” helps you navigate the changes that aging brings. Check out all his posts–he’s very candid, which is so helpful.
  • Why Is My Husband Passive-Aggressive?  – Paul shares helpful research on this common term you may or may not understand.
  • Dealing With A Passive-Aggressive Husband – And the follow-up to the above post.

SEX WITHIN MARRIAGE

  • Sex Leads To More Sex – An very interesting and helpful article about the importance of having regular sex in marriage. Also, sign up to receive new posts via e-mail and receive an excellent resource: 37 Questions For Spouses To Ask Each Other About Sex.

Don’t forget Mother’s Day is May 10th. We have a list of romantic ideas to help give you ideas on how to bless the mother of your children. 

 

Posted in Blog Love, Christian Marriage, Happy Hour | Tagged , | 8 Comments

The Value Of Friends

  
We have been away this week with friends. It’s not the first time we’ve done this; in fact we’ve done it many times with them.

We’ve been to Alaska, Europe, Napa Valley, Quebec City and Bermuda together just to name a few. We have history together, but the trips themselves are not what make our friendship special. It’s the conversations that spring up over a bonfire, or the quick observation made about how Tom and I interact when discussing any number of issues. It’s being known so well that they recognize when we’re struggling. It’s being able to laugh at our mistakes and not taking offense. It’s being able to cry and laugh without explaining why. 

The thing is all marriages need such relationships. It helps to have someone who can help you see unhealthy patterns before they cause lasting damage. To have someone that says, “Can we talk?”

Do you have such friends? If you don’t, Tom always says you have to be the one who pursues them. You never know when that couple you’re reaching out to on Sunday will become the friend you can’t live without in 20 years.

This post got interrupted with one of those conversations that does your soul and your marriage good. We pray that you’ll seek out such friends. It makes the journey called marriage so much better!

Posted in Christian Marriage | 7 Comments

Finding Love Right Where You Are

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You may be familiar with a current hit song by Ed Sheeran titled, Thinking Out Loud. In it he talks about all the mundane seasons of a relationship–growing older, yet loving each other more through these everyday moments.

Think about how much your marriage has changed through the years.

Tom and I have been married over 36 years now. We recently watched some old family videos of when our children were little. It seemed like a lifetime ago when we were in the throes of raising children and learning to love each other in that very busy season.

We’re about to embark on another unfamiliar season, but one we’ve anticipated for years–our youngest daughter is moving out next month. We haven’t lived alone for 33 years! It is full of mixed emotions for both of us, but we’re grateful to God that we have discovered what it looks like to find “love right where we are”. It isn’t enough for our love to be how it used to be. We’re not the same; We have changed, and so has our love. As our seasons change so must the way we relate to each other–the way we care for each other–the way we love each other.

We pray you will discover what it means to find love in the midst of whatever challenges you are currently facing. It takes effort. It takes commitment. It takes a willingness to bend and stretch and accept the new season. This is the secret to a successful marriage…it’s not finding lasting love, but committing to love your spouse in a way that endures through all seasons.

We pray you’ll enjoy this acoustic version of this hit song–and then find practical ways to apply it to your own marriage.

Posted in Aging, Christian Marriage, Growing Strong Marriages, Seasons of Life | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Are You Spontaneous?

  

How spontaneous are you?  Some people avoid it at all costs, others thrive on it. I’d say Tom and I are quite spontaneous. In fact some of our best memories were totally unplanned.

We’re on our way to our cabin as I’m writing to take care of a some repairs. Tom was going to go alone, but when one of Tom’s friends found out he offered to go with him. Then, his wife said she wanted to go too–so here we are on a road trip to a spontaneous adventure with a couple of our best friends.

We have no plans, no expectations, just a desire to have great fellowship with lifelong friends. Oh and to get some repairs done on the cabin. 😉

Spontaneity is like that, it takes what was supposed to be mundane and makes it something special, memorable even.

May we encourage you to be spontaneous? Say “yes” to the unexpected and see what adventures you discover. You may end up liking the results.

Posted in Christian Marriage | 2 Comments

21 Day Fix For Marriage

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Three Weeks. 

Three weeks pass quickly, especially when you’re on an extended vacation. Ah! Doesn’t a three week cruise sound wonderful? But it’s not happening for us and probably not for you either. <sigh> But three weeks really does go by fast!

You’ve most likely heard of the 21 Day Fix nutritional and fitness program created by Autumn Calabrese. It’s the 3 week program to jump start your metabolism through exercise and eating clean. I’ve been on it for a week now, and I am feeling good so far. I love that she doesn’t have ready-made food for purchase in the grocery stores that costs a bunch of money. Instead, she gives you the food groups and quantities allowed based on your caloric intake, then you create your own recipes (or find them on-line) using the ingredients. The best part is, I love most of the choices, making my meals fun to create.

This got me thinking…if three weeks can help someone learn how to eat better and care for their bodies, how would a similar “fix” be for marriage? Imagine if each couple that signed up committed to be intentional towards their marriage for 21 days. What would be the effect?

I’m sure you’d see positive changes begin to take place. But it wouldn’t change completely.

There is a theory that has been shared over and over by respected people like Zig Ziglar who say it takes only 21 days to form a new habit. I read this interesting article about how this isn’t true and why. I won’t go into all the details, but it is a fascinating read. The conclusion is that is takes a MINIMUM of 21 days to see a new habit formed. It could take almost a year depending on the habit and the extenuating circumstances. It just goes to show that nothing is foolproof.

To fix your marriage or form new habits that will help it grow requires:

  • First of all, a LIFELONG COMMITMENT. You have to be all in or it will be too easy to quit when it gets difficult.
  • Secondly it requires a willingness to ADMIT WHEN WE ARE WRONG, because many times we’ll treat our spouse in a way that isn’t loving and kind. We’ll sin against them no matter how much we said we were committed to improve our marriage yesterday.
  • Thirdly, it requires a willingness to FORGIVE OVER AND OVER AGAIN. When we realize how much God has forgiven us through Christ, it helps us do the impossible and treat our spouse in the same manner. Like I said at the beginning of this post, habits sometimes take a long time to form, and bad habits can take an even longer time to change. If 21 days is our goal we’ll quickly become discouraged and lose our resolve in staying with the program. Asking God to help you do this is key to lasting change.

As you both do these things you’ll discover that a lifetime commitment reaps even greater benefits than a healthy diet or exercise program, because you’re not in it for the beach body marriage for the summer–you’re in it

till death parts you…

to glorify God…

to grow old together…

…as you watch your children, grandchildren and maybe even great-grandchildren grow up and have full productive lives. What a privilege it is to display this kind of marriage to those coming up behind us. This is our goal, and we hope our goal will inspire yours.

 

 

 

Posted in Aging, Christian Marriage, Growing Strong Marriages, Purpose, Seasons of Life, The Gospel & Marriage | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

To the Well-Intentioned but Ignorant Parents of Teenagers.

Debi Walter:

Today I’m doing something I hardly ever do–I’m reblogging. It’s a message for all our readers who are parents about the importance of being current as to what you allow your children to do on the internet. I need say no more, because this post is from a teacher of teens who knows first hand the temptations our teens are facing today. I pray it will help sound the alarm for all parents to stay involved and aware in their children’s lives.

Originally posted on Kayla Nicole's Blog:

I’ve been mulling over this topic for quite some time, but this morning it became increasingly clear to me that I must say something. Folks, stranger danger is a real thing. And even more real today than it was ten years ago thanks to, you guessed it, the internet.

I speak specifically to the parents of kids old enough to be on social medias. Of course, I am no such parent, but I am a teacher of those kids. I am also only 6-10 years older than the high school students I teach. Maybe that makes me unqualified to speak out, but maybe it makes me the most qualified candidate. Many of my colleagues and the parents of my students are old enough to be my own parents, so I tend to share a comraderie with my students. And yet, I am far enough removed to be able to speak in ways that…

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Posted in Christian Marriage

The Lord Is Risen…

Photo Credit: Compass Point blog

Photo Credit: Compass Point blog

Happy Easter! We encourage you to take Christ at His Word when He said, “He whom the Son sets free is free indeed!” – John 8:36

Are you walking in this freedom? Is your marriage? Take your burdens to Him this morning, and let the power of God that raised Christ from the dead, raise you and your marriage to what He intends for it to be. He is still in the miracle-working business, and it’s not too late.

Father, We come to you today thanking You for the sacrifice of Your Son so that we could approach Your Throne of Grace today and everyday. It is a privilege we never want to take for granted. Today I pray for all who will read this post. If they are lonely, comfort them. If they are disappointed, fill them with fresh hope. If they are in conflict, may Your Holy Spirit lead and guide them to a place of resolve. You can do this, but often we struggle to believe You will. We pray for fresh faith to believe You are actively at work in the situations we’re facing even when we can’t see it.

Thank You for another Easter celebration. Thank You for grace. Thank You for mercy. Thank You for hope. And thank You for every marriage represented on The Romantic Vineyard. May Your light shine brightly on them today.

In Jesus’ precious name,

Amen.

 

Posted in Christian Marriage, Holidays, Thankfulness, The Gospel & Marriage

When Pain Feels Good

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No one likes to feel pain. We  avoid experiencing it as much as possible. But there are times when pain is necessary. 

I’m currently going through physical therapy for an impinged left shoulder, and it isn’t fun. Each time I go there’s something that feels good about it in a weird sort of way. I got the injury doing something stupid at the gym–something I saw someone else doing and thought I could do it too. I should have known better.

That was a year ago. I kept thinking my shoulder would get better, but it didn’t. I did exercises on my own. I even allowed my doctor to try a cortisone shot for the inflammation, which might have worked had it not gotten infected. As a result, my impinged shoulder shut down. The orthopedic doctor called it a frozen shoulder.

Yeah, I paid money to hear I’ve been given a cold shoulder. <sigh>

He told me I wouldn’t need surgery–good news! However, the only way to unfreeze a frozen shoulder is to force it out–think Frozen’s opening scene–and that about sums up what pain I’ve been experiencing for the past 6 weeks.

Photo Credit: Walt Disney World's Frozen

Photo Credit: Walt Disney World’s Frozen

It’s ironic that something good for you can be so painful. It makes me wonder how this truth might apply to marriage.

I tend to avoid conflict in much the same way I avoid pain. I’m not a risk taker. I like things to go as planned. I don’t like interruptions. Chances are you’re a lot like me. It’s part of human nature to seek comfort.

This is why many couples become disillusioned when their marriage becomes difficult. They are tempted to think something is wrong, when actually it’s a sign that things are right–you’re getting to really know the person you married, and they’re not perfect! Neither are you (me) for that matter.

Pain is an indicator that tells us something is off and needs to be fixed. Imagine the danger if we didn’t have this built in warning system.

We know of a man who had neuropathy in his feet due to the effects of diabetes. One day he played a round of golf with his buddies. At the end of the day when he took his shoes off, he saw his foot was bleeding a lot! He discovered he had played the entire round of golf with a golf ball inside the toe of his shoe. He couldn’t feel it, so he didn’t know of the danger. He ended up having to have some toes amputated as a result.

Pain is God’s way of letting us know we need to act.

What pain are you currently experiencing in your relationship? Is it physical? Spiritual, Emotional? Intellectual? Whatever it is, don’t ignore it! Trust me, it won’t go away. It will most likely grow worse, and may even cause you to give your spouse a cold shoulder, which only masks the real problem making it more of a challenge to resolve.

The next question is where to you go for help? It’s not like you can make an appointment with an orthopedic doctor like I did to get their medical expertise. But there is help! There is a plethora of excellent books we can recommend for all areas of marriage to give you specific biblical counsel in the comfort of your own home. But sometimes the damage is too much for you to fix on your own. Most couples have been in the place if they’re honest. This is why being connected to a local church helps so much. There are pastors and lay leaders who devote their lives to helping marriages not just survive, but thrive. We recommend you get plugged in, not only for the good of your marriage, but for the good of your soul.

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

(Hebrews 10:24-25 ESV)

Posted in Christian Marriage | 1 Comment

Crossroads

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We all know what’s it’s like to be at a crossroad–that’s where two roads intersect and you have to decide which way to go. If you’ve set your course ahead of time, then the decision is easy–hardly noticeable. If you’re simply enjoying the ride, a crossroad can be an unexpected adventure. If there’s an accident causing a delay, a crossroad can provide a needed detour. If you’re in a hurry, a crossroad can offer a shortcut. But if you are on an unfamiliar road and not sure where you’re going, a crossroad can cause stress. What if you choose the wrong way and end up lost? What if the road isn’t safe, or leads no where? These are all valid concerns for the responsible driver.

I remember when Tom and I first used a GPS years ago on a trip to California. We were going to be driving a rental car on the LA Freeway and thought “Joyce, The Voice” would help us know which road to take and thus avoid getting lost. What we didn’t realize is that even GPS systems can have inaccurate data. Case in point, on our trip, we managed to navigate 12 lanes of heavy traffic, at rush hour no less! We were doing everything that Joyce in her monotoned voice told us to do. Imagine our dismay when we heard her proclaim confidently, “You have arrived at your destination,” only to be smack in the middle of….nowhere. We felt the most lost we have ever felt before. We were in an unfamiliar state, going to a place we had never been, and our guide had led us astray. Now what?! We had to stop and ask directions the old fashioned way, that’s what.

We eventually made it to where we wanted to go–in fact we weren’t far at all–as the crow flies. But there were no direct roads between where we were and where we wanted to be. Joyce didn’t know that. She thought she had led us exactly where we wanted to go.

Every  marriage experiences crossroads from time to time. How you handle the decision is key as to where you end up at the end of the conflict. 

  • If you are a lover of adventure then each crossroad will provide you with an adrenaline rush that will propel you into the future with elation.
  • If you like to be in control, the crossroad will be fine if you’re the one calling the shots.
  • If you like to know what to expect, the crossroad will most likely cause you anxiety and maybe even fear.
  • If the turn didn’t lead you to where you hoped to go, the crossroad can make you angry.
  • If you like to be on-time, the crossroad can bring a much needed escape or provide an undesirable delay.

However you process these crossroads, it’s important to realize your spouse most likely doesn’t see them the same way you do.

Imagine a couple in the same car going to the same destination but with completely different expectations as to how they’ll get there. What if one was punctual and wants to get there as fast as possible and the other is hoping for adventure? What if one was expecting the road to lead one way, only to discover the other had chosen a completely different stopping point? Or what if you both like to be in control, calling each turn as you see fit?

All these are set-ups for what can be huge conflicts in a marriage. And if you aren’t expecting the struggle, it can be devastating.

But what if we took a different look at the crossroads of life. What if we let go of our bent to do things “my way”, and embraced the ways of Another? What if we trusted God to be our navigator? What if we allowed Him to give us direction on the unexpected turns in our life?

After 36 years of marriage, we have learned to value of doing life this way. It takes the pressure off of both of us to perform, and allows us to enjoy the ride. It also has taken us to places we would have never chosen to go on our own. Some roads were bumpy and dark, but led to a beautiful view we didn’t know was there. Some roads were dangerous where we learned the value of having each other and God to cling to for hope and help. Some roads didn’t lead where we had hoped they would, but allowed us to see important things from a different vantage point. And only eternity will reveal the times God helped us avoid a fatal collision.

As we navigate the paths of life together as husband and wife, we must remember Who is leading the way. God knows the plans He has for us, and it’s to give us a future and a hope. And the hope He provides never disappoints, but accomplishes exactly what He desires.

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(photo credit: You’re History blog)

Posted in Christian Marriage, Conflict, Difficulty, The Gospel & Marriage | Tagged , | 5 Comments